June 23, 2014

Reviewing "Love Skip Jump" by Shelene Bryan

"Love Skip Jump" by Shelene Bryan is a great book that has the potential to be a catalyst for a great deal of change in your life.  When I decided to read this book I had no idea that the author lives in the city next door and is involved in some of the same organizations I'm familiar with and have worked with. It was a pleasant surprise to find out that she attends a wonderful and well known church nearby and has partnered with Children's Hunger Fund. Children's Hunger Fund is absolutely my favorite charity so that gave her instant credibility in my book.
"Love Skip Jump" details Bryan's journey into the life path that God was calling her to take.  She made some big changes in her life, and as a result of saying "yes" to some scary and exciting things, she is helping people all across the world. After traveling abroad and witnessing firsthand the vast poverty and need, she founded the charity Skip1.org which is dedicated to providing food and clean water to children around the world.
While our individual scope of saying yes may be on a smaller scale than hers, she challenges us (in a very effective way) to examine our own lives and the things God may be asking us to say yes to.  She gives many examples of circumstances in her life where she was led to say "yes" and the ripple effect that "yes" had on the people around her.  The joy and fulfillment she has found in this new life is contagious. So contagious that I finished the book in less than 24 hours.
I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to be inspired to make a difference in the world around them.  It could be the people you work with, or the family next door.  I believe we are given opportunities to love others on a pretty frequent basis. Being open to saying yes to peoples' needs, or even be a listening ear to someone who needs a friend is a great start. Read this book.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Reviewing "A Ranger's Trail"

"A Ranger's Trail" by Darlene Franklin is the fourth book in the Texas Trails series. I've enjoyed each of the books leading up to this one and "A Ranger's Trail" did not disappoint. The series takes place in late 1800s Texas, a turbulent time period filled with adventure and turmoil.   Franklin's descriptive writing style transports the reader onto the Texas prairie, almost to the point that you start to feel overheated and dusty. :)  The emotions of the characters feel very realistic and raw and although we live in very different times, I felt and identified with the characters' angst as I read.
Here is a short summary from the publisher:

In 1875 Buck Morgan rode into Mason County with the Texas Rangers to quell the violence stirred up by the actions a vigilante mob. The Hoo Doo (or bad luck) War erupted as suspected cattle rustlers were murdered by an angry mob.  Former ranger, Scott Cooley, gathers a gang to seek vengeance for the murders.
Suspected of cattle rustling, Leta Derrick's husband was murdered by the mob a year earlier. Now she is siding with the rogue ranger, Scott Cooley and refuses to help Buck Morgan stem the tide of violence.
Will their actions fuel the fire of vengeance? Or will Buck and Leta strike an accord that leads to more than just peace?

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Christian historical fiction. Many of the characters and events in the book are based on reality, so in a sense you are getting a history lesson along with an entertaining read.  The plot includes all of the facets of a good Wild West story, complete with horses, cowboys and cattle rustlers.  Although the plot does have a slightly predictable ending, I still thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to reading the next installment in the Texas Trails series.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

June 5, 2014

Reviewing "The Undergrounds" Issue 1

"The Undergrounds" is a family adventure graphic novel series written by Geert Heetebrij and illustrated by Jonathan Lareva.  The series centers on a suburban family which upon moving into a new neighborhood discovers a hole in their backyard. This hole leads to a network of tunnels which contain doors to fairy tale worlds. The children of the family and their dog discover the hole the day they move in, and can't resist exploring it by the light of their big sister's smart phone.  The catch to the fun adventure is that once the kids open the gateways to the different worlds, the villains of those worlds can freely enter the children's world.

I must admit, I've never been much of a graphic novel/comic book reader. But this first taste of this nine-issue series definitely left me wanting more.  I need to find out what happens next! This first installment demonstrated that this series is perfect for a family to read together. The amazing illustrations and creative story arc draw the reader in right away. I'm confident that kids would eat this up and spend lots of time gazing at the illustrations, imagining themselves in a fantasy world. I would recommend it to any family who enjoys reading and to adults who are still kids at heart.

There's a heartwarming story behind this series as well. It all started as a bedtime story for Geert Heetebrij's four children.  They wanted to see the story come alive so Geert decided to write it, and brought Jonathan along for the ride as his very talented illustrator. This first issue was crowd-funded on Kickstarter and is now available for you to purchase here: http://www.undergroundscomic.com/ 

Disclaimer: I was provided an electronic version of this book in exchange for an honest review.