The Warden and The Wolf King Review

c8807460d81413a43d81144acafc6735_largeAndrew Peterson has given his fans a tome to end the Wingfeather Saga series. It’s four-parts and a whopping 509 pages. I almost gave up on it. Because I fell in love with his other books in the series, I immediately agreed to review The Warden and the Wolf King without realizing how thick it was, or that I would grow impatient as I journeyed through the many rabbit trails to get to the end.

The fans of the Wingfeather Saga will remember Gnag the Nameless and how he pursued the Jewels of Anniera all the way to where we left them at Ban Rona. I hadn’t read one of these novels in a while so I had to learn to swim again in the storyline when I began to get into The Warden and the Wolf King, and reacquaint myself with the characters and their myriad of stories and histories. There is no doubt that the Wingfeather Saga has the greatest world ever. It ranks right up there with Middle Earth. The names, personalities, and quaintness of each character and animal in the book still amazes me. Andrew Peterson is a genius in world making and writing, but I struggled with this one.

It kept my attention until part two when suddenly I am in Skree. Yes, the part says I am in Skree, but it’s like I jumped into a different story again. The action made me impatient. So when suddenly I am in Skree, I thought, “I don’t care about Skree. What’s happening in the other town?” I skipped a lot of pages here in my hurry to get back to the story I began with. In fact, I don’t think I would have missed it at all if the book left it out. The other distraction was the story in between the parts of the main story. I scanned part of one and skipped the rest. I would have preferred the information be worked into the story line without having to read another story. I almost considered stopping, procrastinated on more than one occasion on finishing and just managed to finish The Warden and the Wolf King under deadline.

The ending of the saga was beautiful. It’s the kind of unexpected ending that shows the writers genius. What I assumed about the villain in the story was all wrong. Many who read this story will be able to relate with many of the themes in this book, especially those of us who have made bad decisions in the past. The story is about second chances, sacrifice, and love. That being said, I still only gave it three stars. Maybe I would have liked it better made into a couple of novels instead of one very long read.

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Disclosure of material connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase this item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I might use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

Author Website - http://wingfeathersaga.com

Others Sharing Their Views:

Keanan Brand
Beckie Burnham
Pauline Creeden
Vicky DealSharingAunt
Carol Gehringer
Victor Gentile
Ryan Heart
Bruce Hennigan
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Nissa
Writer Rani
Nathan Reimer
Chawna Schroeder
Jojo Sutis
Rachel Starr Thomson
Shane Werlinger
Phyllis Wheeler

Never Go Back Review

“Successful people realize that just because someone is unhappy with them does not require that they give up their purpose, fold their cards, or change. They realize that making some people unhappy is just part of the deal–and they keep going.” Pg. 67

nevergobackNever Go Back: 10 Things You’ll Never Do Again by Dr. Henry Cloud is an ideal book for the blogger, dreamer, or for people like us who see life upside down. It’s about staying the course and never looking back or returning to dysfunctional familiarity.

I wrote a couple of blogs about portions of the book that made me think. You can read, The Job Interview.

As a blogger and a dreamer, it gives sound advice. In regards to the blogger, Never Go Back talks about how you can’t change the person’s mind, you must show them why they should do or be something. For the person like me who see’s life upside down and might be tempted to stay in dysfunctional familiarity, it takes our hand and leads us gently, but firmly away from what is familiar and safe to the life we were meant to live.

Like Boundaries, Never Go Back: 10 Things You’ll Never Do Again is a book that I’ll keep in my permanent library for future re-reading. It’s practical and helpful as well as encouraging as I think about my future. No one should do what they have always done just because it’s safe or familiar. I gave this book five stars.

Disclosure of material connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase this item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I might use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Book given by publisher to review. 

Finding Spiritual Whitespace Review

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Christian publishers appear to be putting out a lot of books about how to rest or relax. It makes me wonder if the busy doing of Christian life is finally wearing down the church. Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest by Bonnie Gray is a different sort of book.

It’s written blog-style. Like I said in my original assessment, blog-style won’t make the grammar patrol happy, but those who can set aside their stringent rules will find enjoyment and rest in this book. What makes this book different than most other how-to books is that it doesn’t seek to tell us how to resolve our inner issues. Finding Spiritual Whitespace doesn’t even end with Bonnie having no more PTSD. It’s a journey that’s still ongoing, teaching us how to slow down using artistic methods and comparing spiritual rest with artistic whitespace.

I found only one mistake in the book in the way a sentence was structured, but it’s hardly worth mentioning (since I am unable to locate it again). The book caused a lot of good discussion within the book launch team, drawing the group closer to each other. This means you could use this book in your own groups, like a women’s Bible study, for it has questions at the end of each chapter, created similar to her Thursday #faithjam posts at faithbarista.com. But what does it have to do with Life Upside Down?

Here at Life Upside Down, it’s the perfect latte to go with your biscotti. Meaning, people like us who see life differently because of the pain of our past will find rest in Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest. Those suffering daddy issues will face their past and the lost little girl weeping in the corner. A woman will be able to say after reading this, “Yes! Yes! Finally, someone DOES understand!” I gave Finding Spiritual Whitespace five stars.

Buy book here: Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest

Disclosure of material connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase this item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I might use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Book given by publisher to review. 

Silver Bay Review

thumb.phpJoJo Moyes is a favorite author of mine. Her writing style is very visionary, and Silver Bay is no less than excellent writing; just too many characters and a plot that moves too slowly.

The plot sounded promising. A man goes to a seaside town to find property to put in a huge resort, but I get lost in too many points of view and side stories. The language is beautiful and it takes talent to make each character sound different from the writer’s own voice. Each point of view is distinct as is their personalities. But the story fails to enthrall me. It’s supposed to be a love story between the owner of a seaside hotel owner and a businessman.

Because of how slowly the plot moved, how the characters felt disconnected from each other, and how the chapters lacked tension, I finally just quit reading. If a reader buys a novel, they aren’t required to finish a book they lose interest in, and according to my book review policy, I also am not required to finish it. Out of respect to the publisher and the author (whom I absolutely love her other novels), I chose not to post this review on Amazon. I gave this novel two stars.

I do encourage you to read her other books though. See listing below of books I positively reviewed:

The Last Letter from Your Lover: A Novel

Honeymoon in Paris

The Girl You Left Behind: A Novel

Me Before You: A Novel

Disclosure of material connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase this item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I might use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Book given by publisher to review.

 

Bad Dads of The Bible Review

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Image from: fatherhood.org

Reminiscent of Liz Curtis Higgs, Bad Girls of the Bible: And What We Can Learn from Them, Bad Dads of the Bible: 8 Mistakes Every Good Dad Can Avoid by Roland C. Warren warns fathers not to mirror the eight mistakes of fathers in the Bible.

Roland C. Warren is the founder of Washington D.C.’s National Fatherhood Initiative, a company that seeks to promote good fatherhood. I reviewed this book from the perspective of a daughter and found no fault in his logic. I agreed with everything he said. In fact, I would expand on Bad Dad Mistake #4: “He made it difficult for his children to honor him.”  The person of interest here is Saul of the Old Testament.

How many times have people quoted, “Honor thy father and mother,” from the Ten Commandments? It’s a phrase that unfortunately has been linked to trauma in my life. In this chapter, Bad Dads of the Bible spoke about Bernie Madoff and his children. Madoff began his business in 1961. He brought his sons up in the business. Eventually, Madoff made some bad choices and he couldn’t undo them. His children suffered.

Mark Madoff attempted to find a job afterwards, but his name was linked to his dad’s corruption though Mark was not involved. He ended up committing suicide. The remaining son, Andy, struggled to deal with it and has spoken since about how he and his brother were “human shields” to his father’s illegal activities.

A name means everything, and it’s hard for a child to “honor” a parent when the parent has abused that right. Saul, too, made it difficult for his son to honor him. The mistakes Bad Dads spoke about on page 86 were:

  • Made unwise decisions and treated others harshly.
  • Allowed fear of man to influence him.
  • Lied to his children and used them in a dishonorable way.

Bad Dads of the Bible, from a daughter who watched her parent’s divorce and endured so much, is a great guide for fathers to read. Father’s should be honored, but due to so much dysfunction, even Father’s Day came under fire recently when single moms and the rest demanded recognition, too.

On Father’s Day, I believe we should recognize good fathers–father’s who try. Older father’s should also walk alongside new fathers and mentor them. This culture doesn’t treat fathers well and lumps good fathers in with the bad ones. Single moms should get recognition, too–on another day–but on Father’s Day, let’s remember that not all fathers are disappointments. Even more so, let’s remember our Heavenly Father which loves far deeper and more perfect than a human father.

I gave this book five stars.

Disclosure of material connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase this item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I might use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Book given by publisher to review.

For Such a Time Review

suchIn the classic re-telling of the plot from the Book of Esther, Kate Breslin brings us to Nazi Germany in 1944 in her novel, For Such a Time. It begs the question: What could you have done to save the Jews?

Aric first sees Hadassah (or her assumed name, Stella) in Dachau. He appears to rescue her from certain death and takes her to his transit camp of Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia where Stella becomes his secretary. From here, the plot follows as closely as possible to the story from the Book of Esther. Stella’s Uncle is one of the prisoners in the camp appointed by the Nazi’s to choose who will go to Auschwitz. When telephone lines go down, Stella gets a bag of cards to type up from the captain of the camp. Aric, in spite of his compassion, doesn’t stop the Jews from getting on the train, and Stella does the unthinkable and courageous by taking 160 names off of the list. 160 Jews were saved.

Stella lives in fear of being discovered and struggles with her choices. She wants to save all the Jews. Aric detests his job, too, but does his job anyway knowing he could lose his life if he takes any chances. The question that is asked throughout this book is: What would you have done in their place? You can’t save everyone without losing your life. If you lose your life, more die. If you save some, but not all, you live to save more people. Many stories in history show us the courage of people in Nazi-occupied territory and in Nazi Germany who struggled with this question every day of the war.

The book of Esther show us a similar recounting where Esther braved the wrath of a king to reveal her true identity, and in doing so, saved his life and the life of her people. We can choose to go along to get along, and someone else will be chosen to save people; or you can choose to do the right thing no matter the risk. While this is a work of fiction, Kate Breslin gives us a history lesson on the back of the book. I encourage you to read that when you are finished reading this novel.  For Such a Time is a romance novel set near the end of World War II–an unlikely set up of a Jewess and a Nazi Wehrmacht Officer who runs a transit camp. It was riveting. I gave it five stars.

Buy book here: For Such a Time

Disclosure of material connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase this item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I might use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Book given by publisher to review.

Critical Condition Review

indexCritical Condition by Richard L. Mabry (M.D.) kept my eyes to the page. Life would tear me away from the story, but I would hurry to return to discover Shannon and Meghan Frasier’s tumultuous relationship and whether Shannon could put behind the past to marry Mark.

Dr. Shannon Frasier witnessed her boyfriend’s murder when they were both in medical school. In later chapters, she is a doctor in a relationship with Mark, but unwilling to commit to a marriage. Meghan, her sister, is a typical family drama creator. But during the first chapter, Dr. Frasier witnesses a man get shot on her front lawn. Meghan’s boyfriend is also shot. The police question, and even suspect Meghan and Shannon. Detective Steve Alston is attracted to Shannon. The plot tightens as the police wonder if Meghan isn’t connected to a gang who robbed a bank. The money from the robbery never surfaced. While the plot fascinated me, the book had some minor issues.

I thought Shannon’s grief over her boyfriend, Todd’s, death was too quickly dealt with in the prologue.  The later chapters, however, showed the damage of her trauma better with Shannon’s inability to make lifelong connections. Her dislike of guns made sense as it was a reaction to the trauma with her boyfriend. The distance between her family and her, and her sister’s on-again, off-again drug issues all bring this plot to a boil.

Critical Condition showered us with all the pieces of the puzzle. I often felt impatient to turn the page, because I did wonder about the guilt of one character. The romance Steve felt for Shannon led me to believe Shannon and Mark would break up. Mark’s attraction to another girl didn’t need to be in there as it didn’t add to the plot. The emotion between Mark and Shannon felt too stilted and distant. Steve’s background with his deceased wife sparked my interest, and he popped back into the picture near the end when he is suddenly with Meghan. The initial pages suggested he would try to break up Shannon and Mark, and was almost dishonorable about it, persisting when he knew she loved Mark. So while I enjoyed the novel, I thought these problems could have been tweaked. I gave this novel three and a half stars.

Buy here: Critical Condition

Disclosure of material connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase this item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I might use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Book given by publisher to review.

Out of The Depths Review

9780764212604Character, someone said, is what you do when no one is looking. Edgar Harrell and the survivors of the U.S.S. Indianapolis exhibited selflessness and courage as they faced the long, dark nights and incredible days in the pacific ocean. Out of the Depths: An Unforgettable WWII Story of Survival, Courage, and the Sinking of the USS Indianapolis is an amazing story that left me near tears when I closed the last page.

The forward is written by Lt. Col. Oliver North. His definition of heroism is:

“…a person who has wittingly put himself in grave physical jeopardy for the benefit of another. Heroes are people who overcome evil by doing good at great personal risk. Through self-sacrifice, fortitude, and action, whether they succeed or fail, heroes provide a moral and ethical framework–and inspiration–for the rest of us.” What North explained in this chapter was how our re-definition of heroism is not the true definition. It is not, “the athlete who just set a new sports record,” “Nor the ‘daring’ movie star or even the adventurer out to be the first solo climber to scale Mount Everest. They may be brave–but they don’t meet the definition of hero, for whatever they achieve benefits only themselves.” (emphasis mine).

The survivors of the U.S.S. Indianapolis were afloat at seat with just debris or flotation devices for five days. Nine hundred, oil-soaked survivors of a torpedo attack during World War II were in the shark-infested waters, and at the end of five days, only 317 were still alive. Hypothermia, shark attacks, dehydration, and many other maladies thinned out their number. Edgar recounts those five terrifying days in morbid detail, but what rose above the terror was Edgar’s faith in a God greater than death. He kept his comrades, to the best of his ability, close, keeping them encouraged. Some tried to commit suicide, but Edgar tried to keep them from giving up. He writes of amazing peace that he found from the moment he went into the water. This is what North described as heroism.

Edgar and his men could have done a hundred things more self-serving, and yet through the five days, they tried to keep each other alive. When they were rescued and had to sit in a rescue plane while the rescue plane waited for help, many of the men, including Edgar, remained honest about their water rations so that their fellow soldiers might get their rations before the water supply ran out. In this culture, I’m not sure people would do that anymore. It seems like our everyday decisions are me-focused, for our comfort only, even if it means we lie about it. In that instance, I believe we justify a small lie to satisfy an intense desire for something or to do something. In the case of Edgar and the surviving men, severe dehydration and illness did not stop them from making sure other soldiers got first serving.

Edgar demonstrated how courage is a mindset. It’s something you put on every morning, like a coat or a shirt. In this case, Edgar read scripture. That scripture kept him strong during those horrific five days. The mindset of courage before disaster strikes is shown in Edgar’s behavior in the sea. It helped him make the right decisions under pressure. Every good moral compass needs a scriptural foundation in which to point north from. I gave this book five stars because it almost made me cry.

Buy here: Out of the Depths: An Unforgettable WWII Story of Survival, Courage, and the Sinking of the USS Indianapolis

Disclosure of material connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase this item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I might use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Book given by publisher to review.

Aunt Dimity and The Wishing Well Review

81qSYyEBTmLNancy Atherton writes an entire series of Aunt Dimity books.  Aunt Dimity and the Wishing Well is like the old Nancy Drew books. This book is charming, mysterious, and innocent.

As a writer, I can appreciate its beginning:

“It was a fine day for a funeral. Rain plummeted from a leaden sky and a blustery wind blew the chill of mortality through the mourners clustered in St. George’s churchyard.” (Chapter One).

The chill of mortality! I had to share this beginning with my writers group. Right away you are intrigued by the book. The chapter goes on to describe the characters of the town in interesting detail. Considering that gossip is a sin all Christians struggle with, you lap it up like fresh milk. Lori Shepherd is the voice in the first-person narrative. If you weren’t won over by her character, a first time reader of the series  like me would be immediately intrigued by the journal named Aunt Dimity. She talks back in looping, blue writing to Lori’s confidences every time Lori opens the book. The mystery in this series is a mysterious stranger who shows up late to the funeral of a man who kept to himself.

The village of Finch loves this new fresh bowl of milk to explore. Jack is the nephew who takes over his Uncle’s estate and gets it ready for sale. To make him more interesting, Lori and her friends with Jack uncover a wishing well on the property. When you have a journal that talks back to you, it’s not out of bounds to believe this wishing well could be real. Lori’s wish for dryer weather comes true which starts the dominoes effect of odd occurrence’s in Finch. And things get worse for the residences of Finch even as a new romance buds between Jack and a resident of Finch. So is the wishing well real?

You’ll have to buy Aunt Dimity and the Wishing Well to find out. It’s clean and a simple read. The book is good enough for teens or tweens and entertaining enough for adults. The old Nancy Drew books had that mystery solving simplicity that entertained many generations. Aunt Dimity and the Wishing Well share that in common with Nancy Drew, but with a great message at the end we should all learn. I’m intrigued enough to read more in this series.

Disclosure of material connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase this item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I might use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Book given by publisher to review.

Numb Review

Numb-Front-CoverA lot of people might be envious of Crusader’s numbness in Numb by John W. Otte. Crusader can get a lot done, perhaps though some not so ethical things like assassinating people, because he doesn’t feel anything. In battle, the laser guns tear through his flesh, but he can fight through his injuries like Hulk or Superman. Apply a bit of medical gel and those critical injuries heal themselves. Humankind in John W. Otte’s world lives in space.

Two distinctly different empire’s are in a cold war with each other: Ministrix and Preasidium. Crusader works for Ministrix–an organization that is modeled like the Jewish temple leaders; lots of rules and a Christ-figure that is accusing. Preasidium is secular, non-believing, but they don’t have any ethics or morals. A Toleration Act enacted by them to keep the peace between their empire and Ministrix makes any kind of faith illegal. In between, are the “catacombs”–an organization that teaches true faith in Christ and sends saved people out like missionaries into either empire. Crusader’s latest job is to assassinate Isolda Westin, an engineer on the Purim.

But the numbness breaks and Crusader is unable to kill the girl. Unfortunately, in his hesitation, he discovers Ministrix agents out to kill him, too. Crusader and Isolda run from Ministrix while both try to figure out the mystery of Ministrix’s plans to kill them both.

Numb is an excellent novel. The only problem I really had with it was part of the first chapter. To me, it was an eye-roller. A bit over-dramatic, I thought, in how the story broke, but the following chapters were much better. The following chapters with its descriptions and dialogue kept me reading as the struggle between Crusader and his “numb” increased with his attraction to Isolda. In the end, he has a choice to make when his real identity was revealed. The ending of the novel was perfect. I gave this novel four stars.

In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher (affiliate links). Other people participating:

Julie Bihn
Jennifer Bogart
Keanan Brand
Beckie Burnham
Pauline Creeden
Vicky DealSharingAunt
Carol Gehringer
Victor Gentile
Rebekah Gyger
Nikole Hahn
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Emileigh Latham
Rebekah Loper
Jennette Mbewe
Amber McCallister
Shannon McDermott
Shannon McNear
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Nissa
Faye Oygard
Writer Rani
Nathan Reimer
Jojo Sutis
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Shane Werlinger
Phyllis Wheeler
Nicole White