Tag Archives: revell

All Summer Long by Melody Carlson

all summer longThe weather is gorgeous, the calendar is full, and time to relax is much appreciated. For me, this summer means surviving lots of extrovert activities—grad parties, family get-togethers, camping trips with friends—and that means my
“introvert days” are extra important. If I don’t have a chance to be quiet, to recharge by myself, to feed my mind without the noise, I get super grouchy. Just ask my husband. I am not a pleasant person to be around.

I’m battling the grouchiness with some extra reading time. I decided to give up Netflix unless I’m at the gym or with my husband in favor of more time to read my Bible, journal, and get sucked into some good books.

I’ve read some fun ones so far, but All Summer Long by Melody Carlson has been my favorite. It’s a chick-flick in book form. The main character is as lovable and ambitious and hopeful as your favorite rom-com heroine, and her love interest is every bit as dreamy as Tom Hanks. (Okay, maybe not quite Tom-Hanks level, but you get the picture.)

I’m a long-time fan of Melody Carlson. When I was a teenager, I discovered her Diary of a Teenage Girl series, and I’m not exaggerating when I say it probably changed my life. Carlson’s characters became my role models, my example of what a Christian teenager and healthy relationships should (and should not) look like.

I loved this love story. And if you like happy, fluffy romance with a leading lady who follows her dreams thrown in, you’ll love it too.

5 stars—I loved it and will recommend it to everyone.
(Learn more about my star system here.)

I received a copy of this book from Revell in exchange for my honest review. The opinions are my own and were not influenced by the publisher or author.

Every Girl Gets Confused by Janice Thompson

every girl gets confusedBased on the cover of Every Girl Gets Confused, I was expecting a fluffy, feel-good Christian romance with a predictable plot and a happy ending. One that I was maybe a little embarrassed to be seen reading because, well, do you see the cover?

When I read books, I want the main character to feel like my best friend. That did not happen. The main character, Katie, was flat. I didn’t get to know her—why she worked at the bridal shop, her passions, what she wanted out of life. I felt like I was getting the life story—Facebook style—of someone I kinda-sorta knew five years ago rather than getting the inside scoop from someone who trusted me enough to let me inside her head.

It was a pretty fluffy book with a happy ending, but there was too much fluff. I didn’t get interested in the story until I had already read three-quarters of it because there wasn’t a plot. I followed Katie, the main character, through a few low- or no-stakes work and relationship “conflicts,” but they weren’t really enough to keep me turning the pages. In the end, it was the storyline of a few secondary characters that drew me in.

There were a few other little things about the book that I struggled with . . .

Nearly ever character had an outside-the-box name: Queenie, Hibiscus, Twiggy, Dahlia, Eduardo . . . I know names in the south (it takes place in Texas) are a little different than here in the midwest, but it was over the top.

Each chapter was named after a Doris Day song and featured a quote by or about her. Every time I started a new chapter, I wondered what she had to do with anything. It wasn’t until at least 150 pages into the book that I found out why Doris Day was significant at all. And it was pretty minor.

I wanted to like this book. I really did. I wanted a light, fluffy, happy book. And while I feel like Every Girl Gets Confused got there eventually, it wasn’t worth wading through the first three-quarters.

2 stars—It was okay and I probably won’t recommend it.
(Read more about my rating system here.)

I received a copy of this book from Revell in exchange for my honest review. The opinions are my own and were not influenced by the publisher or author.


Do you want the inside scoop? I had a really hard time writing and posting this review.

I recently found out that when I write a review, the publisher adds it to all the other reviews and ships it off to the author. Uggh. If I give a book a less-than-positive review, I do it to help readers make the most of their reading time, not to hurt the writer of the book.

I’m intentional about giving books I love a lot of recognition on my blog and social media, but when I don’t like a book, I gloss over it a bit. I post the review on my blog and Amazon (because I have to) and rate it on Goodreads, but maybe I won’t post the link on social media. And if I do, I certainly won’t tag the author. Writers tend to be the sensitive type, and I’d rather not kill their confidence by letting them know I didn’t like their book. Because even if I didn’t, writing is hard work! I’m still pulling for them.

When I read through the Acknowledgements, I learned that Thompson lost a grandchild while she was writing this book. No wonder it wasn’t as good as it could have been! How can I blame her?

To complicate things further, I discovered one of my college professors is Thompson’s literary agent. Since I keep up with him casually on Facebook, that makes it even harder to share my honest opinion.

Maybe I just care too much about what people think of me? I don’t know. All I know is that I don’t like hurting people’s feelings, and sometimes being honest means I have to do that. Just doesn’t seem right, does it?

I’ve never read a book by Janice Thompson before. A quick Google search shows me that she’s written A TON of books. I don’t want to judge her based on just this one. So I think I’ll give her another shot and try one of her other books. I’m pretty sure I have one buried in the 2,000+ titles on my Kindle . . .

 

Vendetta by Lisa Harris

vendettaHave you ever watched Castle? It’s a show about a mystery-writer-turned-detective, and I am addicted. (Jonathan and I have been “collecting” the DVDs, and season 7 just showed up on Sunday.) We have a hard time finding shows and movies to agree on sometimes. He, of course, likes manly movies full of action and suspense and I like all the girly chick flicks. So we usually land on comedy, but Castle has a little bit of everything, and I LOVE it. So when I got the list of book review options from Revell, I was drawn to Vendetta. It sounded just like an episode of Castle. Not what I typically read, but why not give it a try?

I’m so glad I did.

When a teenage girl goes missing, the case becomes personal for detective Nikki Boyd, whose own sister disappeared ten years ago. Nikki jumps into action, asking all the right questions and following all the leads, and just when she thinks she’s solved the case, everything goes wrong.

Vendetta is Lisa Harris’ fourth book and the first in the Nikki Boyd Files. It’s the first book by her that I’ve read, and it won’t be the last. I actually read this book in one sitting, something I rarely do. It’s a suspenseful page-turner that would be a great read for anyone who likes a little romance thrown in with their mystery. (And if you love Castle, definitely pick it up.)

FIVE STARS
(Learn about my star system here.)

Buy it on Amazon.

I received a copy of this book from Revell in exchange for my honest review. The opinions are my own and were not influenced by the publisher or author.

The Chase by Kyle & Kelsey Kupecky

the_chaseI stepped out of my box a bit to review this book. I’ve been married for over six years now, so I don’t usually pick up books written for single girls. But since that’s all I used to read, I thought it couldn’t hurt to give this one a try and see if it might be useful for someone else.

The Chase encourages teenage girls to chase after God rather than guys. The authors, Kyle and Kelsey Kupecky, have been married since 2012. They take turns sharing bits of their own love story as they present some important truths about dating.

I really wanted to like it, but I just didn’t. The writing was mediocre and voice-less, the stories weren’t that interesting, and I could tell they hadn’t been married for very long when they wrote it. (That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the depth that comes with years of marriage just wasn’t there. To be fair, I’m a 28-year-old married woman, not the single teenage girl the book is written for, so maybe that doesn’t matter.) Just a few chapters in, I felt like their platform—Kelsey is the daughter of well-known author Karen Kingsbury and Kyle is a Christian recording artist—is what got the book published, not their skills or experience.

A few worldview things parents may want to know . . . 1) The Kupeckys seem to believe that if God calls you to be married, He has one person chosen for you, as opposed to believing there’s no such thing as a soulmate—that there are multiple people you could build a happy and successful life with. 2) The Kupeckys tell several stories of people they dated before they met. So if you’re opposed to dating, this book may not be a good choice for your kids.

Bottom line: it wasn’t terrible, but there are better books out there for single teenage girls who need a godly perspective on relationships. My favorite is Boy Meets Girl by Joshua Harris.

2 stars—It was okay and I probably won’t recommend it.
(Read more about my rating system here.)

I received a copy of this book from Revell in exchange for my honest review. The opinions are my own and were not influenced by the publisher or author.

Girl Meets Change by Kristen Strong

I was so, so excited to review this book. I’m in the middle of a hectic season of change at work (our lead pastor just retired in August and I’m switching positions), and I was looking for something that would shine some light onto what feels like a hopeless and overwhelming situation. Just a few weeks ago, I broke down in sobs in the middle of a pretty important meeting. I’ve never lost it like that at work before. But I just couldn’t hold it in anymore. I needed this book to meet me where I was and help me dig through all the gunk to get to the root of the issue.

Unfortunately, Girl Meets Change just didn’t do that for me. It wasn’t what I was expecting. I needed practical ways to cope and assurance that I’d come out stronger on the other side. I needed a book that would force me to face the real issue, not just say “Yes, change is hard, but God has a plan and you’re going to be okay.” That’s what my husband is for. I needed someone to problem solve with me. Someone to gently probe and figure out what heart issues I need to be working through right now.

The author, Kristen Strong, did offer a few strategies (I can’t find my copy of the book to give examples), but they weren’t anything new, and they just weren’t enough. I felt like the book just barely skimmed the surface of change and how to grow through it instead of going deep into the things you wrestle with when you’re in the thick of it. Maybe it’s a good read for people who aren’t in a season of change right now, but not for people in the thick of it?

All that said, the book has gotten some pretty positive reviews from other people, so maybe I’m crazy. Every once in a while I come down so hard on a book that I wonder if I missed something while I was reading, like maybe the author did something brilliant and I was too stupid to catch it. That’s how I’ve been feeling about this one. So read it for yourself, I guess, and let me know if you think I’m crazy.

(And in case you’re wondering, God is faithful. He’s helped me dig through all of the stuff that has surfaced in my heart in the midst of this season of change. I’m not out yet, but I’m headed in the right direction.)

One Star
(Learn about my star system here.)

I received a copy of this book from Revell in exchange for my honest review. The opinions are my own and were not influenced by the publisher or author.

So You Want to Review Books . . .

So You Want to Review Books-

Maybe you’ve read one of my reviews (or someone else’s) and thought, “Hey, I could do that!” Well, if you can read and you know what makes a book good (or awful), you probably can. Here’s how . . .

  1. Start a blog. You need a place to post your reviews. And you need a few followers, too. Don’t worry about the numbers too much, but make sure you ask friends and family members to follow you—especially if they love to read. You can help them discover new books!
  2. Get a GoodReads account. It’s social media for people who love books. You can create “shelves” for your TBR pile, your favorite books, the books you own, etc. Not only is it fun for book lovers, it’s another place you can post reviews.
  3. Join NetGalley. It’s a place to discover new books and request review copies from multiple publishers.
  4. Find out if the publishers of your favorite books have blogger review programs. As you may have noticed, Bethany House Publishers has a special place in my heart (I interned there, after all!), and most of my reviews are of BHP books. Learn more about their blogger review program and check out BookLook, Revell Reads, and Tyndale Blog Network while you’re at it. See what other publishers have to offer, too. And if you find a program I didn’t mention here, let me know so I can check it out!
  5. Contact self-published authors and offer to review their books. Marketing is hard, especially for writers who don’t feel comfortable “selling” themselves and their work. So do it for them! If you find a self-published book you’re interested in, offer to review it on your blog and Amazon in return for a free copy of the book.

Bonus: Follow authors on social media and join their launch teams. A launch team is a group of people partnering with an author and publisher to help promote a book. Usually launch teams ask you to review the book on your blog and other platforms and promote the book in any other way you can, including word of mouth and social media. These are really fun, but make sure you like the author’s work first. There’s nothing worse than having to promote a book you don’t like!

Check back soon—my next post will tell you how I actually write my book reviews!