Tuesday, December 16, 2014

One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis

One Step Too Far was a book that had me literally in tears at the end.  The tagline of this book is “No one has ever guessed Emily’s secret.  Will you?”  I did not, even with my best attempts.  One Step Too Far is a suspense novel that tells the story of Emily.  She decides one day to leave her husband and son and start a new life in London.  The novel skips back and forth between her growing up as the “good” twin with a tattered family life and meeting her husband Ben, to her new life in London.  In her new life, Emily now goes by her given maiden name, Catherine Brown, and starts down a risky path that is far from the normal life she left behind.  The question always lingers, why would Emily abandon her family?  What was the one step too far?  I don’t want to say too much more and ruin the story.  As a mother, I was very, very intrigued as I couldn’t imagine what would cause a mother to take this step.

The story started out a bit slow for me, which probably has more to do with my very busy work schedule than anything else.  Then the story soon gripped me and wouldn’t let me go.  I couldn’t stop reading it until I got to the end and was crying at night.  It was very good, with a great ending.  The tying up of all of the loose ends was a bit rushed, but overall, I can’t stop thinking about this book.  I definitely need to read more from this author.  My book club loved Gone Girl and Before I Go to Sleep, One Step Too Far is in the same league.

Book Source:  Review Copy from William Morrow – Thanks!

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

Winter Garden was the FLICKS Book and Movie Club selection for December.  Meredith and Nina Whitson have grown up with a cold and distant mother, Anya, and a loving father, Evan.  When their father is dying, he makes the girls promise to ask their mother for her full story.  Anya used to tell her daughters a fairy tale when they were children, but she never finished it.  As the girls struggle with their lives and getting to know their mother for the first time, they learn more and more about the fairy tale.  They soon learn that it is not a fairy tale, but a tale of vast hardship during Russia in the depression and World War II.  The story goes back and forth between the two time frames until the final conclusion.

I enjoyed this book, but I must admit that I was much more intrigued with the Russian story from the past then with the contemporary story.  The contemporary story wanted me to feel for Meredith and her marriage problems, but I never felt like I got to know her husband enough to care.  Their marriage problems, frankly, annoyed me.  The ending was also disappointing to me.  It seemed too much of a coincidence and also left out poor Evan.  One member of the book club said that the Russian story would have stood alone as an excellent short story or novella and I agree.

Overall, Winter Garden had excellent historical fiction sections and a middling contemporary story.  It was okay, but not my favorite Kristin Hannah novel.

Book Source:  The Kewaunee Public Library

Friday, December 5, 2014

Jesus Daily: 365 Interactive Devotions by Aaron Tabor MD Review and GIVEAWAY!

I have been actively looking for a good daily devotional reader for the past few months.  I was more than a little excited to be able to review the new Jesus Daily:  365 Interactive Devotions by Aaron Tabor MD for Hachette Book Group.

This book of devotions is a small size hardcover book with a very nice in place ribbon bookmark to keep your spot as you move through the daily readings.  Each reading starts with a scripture reading and then a short devotion reflecting on the reading.  The devotion ends with a way to connect with the JesusDaily.com community to pray or reflect with a wider community.  The pages are thick and glossy and this is definitely a keeper of a book and one that would travel well with you.

I have been reading the daily devotions the past couple of weeks.  I have found them to be inspirational and a great opportunity to take time out of my busy day to spend a moment in prayerful devotion.  I have particularly enjoyed the December readings thus far as they have been devoted to the start of the Christmas story with Mary being visited by the angel and her being willing to say “Yes” to God’s plan.  It’s a perfect way to really get into the true meaning of the Christmas season.   I have enjoyed reading them on my own, but also sharing them with my family as well.

Jesus Daily is a wonderful devotional and one that I am going to enjoy reading for years to come.  I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a devotional or for someone to give as a gift to a good friend or loved one.

Jesus Daily encourages personal growth and putting your faith into action.  With this in mind, Hachette Book Group sent along a copy for me to share with a family member or friend.  I chose to send it to my best friend Jenn.  I am Catholic and Jenn is Methodist, but we are both Christian and enjoy the devotional.  Jenn says, Jesus Daily is “a daily reminder of why I believe and that no matter what God has our back.”  She is also says “it is the right length for a busy person to find useful and uplifting in its reminders that we are not alone facing our daily stresses.”  I agree!

If you would like to purchase Jesus Daily, it is available from a variety of retailers including:  

Excerpt from Today's (December 5th) Devotion:

Mary was a young, inexperienced girl, and as the angel described
what her son’s purpose would be as the Son of the Most High
and the great mission being entrusted to her, it must have fright-ened her. She probably did not know what her son’s “reign” would look like. No doubt she could look ahead and see the lack of under-standing, hurt, and ridicule that awaited her. She would have to tell Joseph, her fiancé, and he would surely reject her and send her away. 

The future did not look good.

So, with surprise, we read her response. “I am the Lord’s servant. Let this happen to me as you say!” Mary, obviously, could see something more. She had a glimpse of the Bigger Picture. She was prepared to say yes to this task. She had been listening to God’s voice and knew how to recognize it. Therefore, when she heard him say something that didn’t quite make sense, she was ready to obey because she knew it was from God. Her deepest desire was to do his will. 

What is your deepest desire? Can you say yes to God no matter what he asks?

Hachette Book Group also has generously agreed to give one lucky winner a copy of Jesus Daily as well as a t-shirt.  If you would like to win Jesus Daily, please leave a comment on why it sounds interesting or on your favorite scripture reading.

As part of your comment, you must include an email address. If I can't find a way to contact you I will draw another winner. 

For an additional entry, blog about this giveaway or post it on your sidebar. Provide a link to this post in your comment.

I will be using random.org (or a Monte Carlo simulation in excel) to pick the winners from the comments.

This contest is only open to US residents (Sorry!).

No P.O. Boxes.

The deadline for entry is midnight on Friday December 19th.

Please make sure to check the week of Christmas to see if you are a winner. I send emails to the winner, but lately I've been put in their "junk mail" folder instead of their inbox.

Good luck!