Friday, April 21, 2017


BelleBelle by Cameron Dokey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had no idea what the story was about - I mean, I get what it was about, but not sure if it was the same re-telling, or a new one - I just knew I saw the name & the cover & had to have it. I got home & found out this was released in 2008 & re-released with this new cover. It totally suckered me in.

Not that I needed suckering in. I loved this book. Another version of the Beauty & the Beast story - nothing like the Disney one - & similar aspects of the original - but kinda different. Stands on its on.

The story of Annabelle Evangeline Delaurier & her sisters, Celestial Hevans & April Dawn ... "Belle" being the youngest of the sisters & someone who feels like she stands in the shadows of her beautiful sisters. But Belle has her own talent of feeling what wood feels. Weird, huh? But it was a neat concept. She would widdle wood into what the limb wanted to be - she could see the REAL things inside.... Hello Foreshadowing!

It's a really good time period book - the days where their father makes his careeer on freight on fleets of ships. The language even reflects a time jump.

& I was kind of shocked when I was half way through the book & we still hadn't even met the Beast. That's probably my only grief about the story. I wish we had more interaction between Belle & the Beast. & the ending got kind of repetitive about "true love"... other than that, I really did love the book & glad I have it. It makes me want to check out the Once Upon a Time Series now.

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The story of Beauty and the Beast finds new life in this magical and imaginative retelling that’s filled with romance and adventure.

By the time her sixteenth birthday comes around, Belle feels more convinced than ever that she is being called by the wrong name. Unlike her older sisters Celeste and April, whose names suit them perfectly, Belle knows that she is not beautiful. She begs to be called by her given name, Annabelle—or even Anna for short—but to no avail. Her solace is her wood-carving hobby, and she longs to find the Heartwood tree: Legend has it that, when carved by the right hands, it can reveal the face of one’s true love.

One day, during a fierce storm, Belle’s father stumbles upon the fabled tree—only to become ensnarled by it and come face-to-face with a terrifying and lonely Beast, who will set him free on one condition: that Belle carves the Heartwood. Belle agrees, never dreaming that she and the Beast have the same wish: to be seen not with the eyes of the mind, but of the heart.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

My Kind of Crazy

My Kind of CrazyMy Kind of Crazy by Robin Reul
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked the story - it kept me wanting to read what happened. When a guy accidentally catches a tree on fire trying to ask the popular girl at school to prom by lighting sparklers... & then runs away when the fire spreads, but someone sees Hank. The strange girl Peyton Breedlove. She lets him know she saw him & he befriends her to keep her from telling it was him who caused this problem. Soon their friendship develops & they learn so much about each other.
It really held my interest, but I have to say I was shocked it was YA. Just the language & some situations in the book, I wouldnt let my "too" YA read it. For sure.
I really enjoyed how the book wrapped up too. One of those books that I enjoyed but wasn't the kind that was life changing or I'm screaming for the world to MUST READ. I did close the book though rooting on Hank & Peyton as they venture into life on their own.

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Despite the best of intentions, seventeen-year old, wisecracking Hank Kirby can’t quite seem to catch a break. It’s not that he means to screw things up all the time, it just happens. A lot. Case in point: his attempt to ask out the girl he likes literally goes up in flames when he spells “Prom” in sparklers on her lawn…and nearly burns down her house. 

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Peyton Breedlove, a brooding loner and budding pyromaniac, witnesses the whole thing. Much to Hank’s dismay, Peyton takes an interest in him—and his “work.” The two are thrust into an unusual friendship, but their boundaries are tested when Hank learns that Peyton is hiding some dark secrets, secrets that may change everything he thought he knew about Peyton.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Between Heaven & the Real World

Between Heaven and the Real World: My StoryBetween Heaven and the Real World: My Story by Steven Curtis Chapman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I wasn't sure how this was going to go. When you are a fan of someone/something, expectations are high. & coming out of the Beauty & the Beast book & being a little disappointed, I was hoping this book written by favorite artist wasnt going to let me down.
Oh mercy - it didn't for one second.
The story of Steven Curtis Chapman's life growing up with his brother & his family & meeting Mary Beth, working in Opryland (I now wonder if he was working there when I was there with my family when I was little!!) & how he started in Christian music. All the way through his amazing story of becoming a husband & a father & then the adoption of his 3 girls... & then the tragic story of loosing sweet Maria. & how the family has endured since. The Lord gives & takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
Being a fan of his since way back in the day, & seeing him in concert so many times, I actually felt really familiar with a lot of these stories, but they didnt seen old to me. I loved reading them again & seeing little extra inside information in the stories. But there were plenty of new stories I've not heard or wasnt aware of. All of it making me just love the Chapman gang even more.
I just appreciated the honesty in this book about his marriage & sharing about the loss of his daughter. It tore me up all over again reading it & hearing about the days afterwards. But it's just so cool that they share to show how God works in it all. There's one picture & story they talk about after deciding to tear their house down that gave me total chills. I've not heard that story before & the picture... just wow.
I thought I was going to be overwhelmed when I saw how thick this book was (over 400 pages)... I zoomed through this book. Couldnt put it down.
Again, I may be biased because I have been such a Chapman family fan since I was a teenager so this to me was just like the cherry on the ice cream sundae to me. Couldnt get enough & wanted more.

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Sunday, March 26, 2017

If I Could Turn Back Time

If I Could Turn Back TimeIf I Could Turn Back Time by Beth Harbison
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What is that movie with Jennifer Garner - 13 going on 30?... this is exactly what this book reminded me of.
Ramie Phillips gets a little life check & then hits her head & wakes up in her bedroom - very Peggy Sue Got Married like. I guess this story has been done a few times. Let's throw in the one with Zac Efron & Matthew Perry too... I like the idea of going back & knowing what you know now & how would you do things differently kinda stories.
& while this was cute, it was just what you expected... though it did have a little extra twist in it which was nice.
It just sort of bothered me how some things were repeated over & over - like how Ramie knows she's 38 years old but its OK she's hanging out with 18 year olds because... blah blah blah... no one is judging here Ramie. & just small things that just got on my nerves. It was like they were trying to drag the story out but it just made it feel just like that - DRUG OUT.
I did enjoy it though - enjoyed the story of Ramie getting to go back & see her father again & seeing how life could have been different if she took a different path ... Hello Mr. Destiny - forgot that movie!
A fun easy read - not life changing - but a good one to pass the time.

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Monday, March 13, 2017

Beauty & the Beast: Lost in a book

Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a BookBeauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book by Jennifer Donnelly
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I wish I could say I swooned over this book... I liked it. It was enjoyable. But it wasn't the end all, be all Beauty & the Beast books. My favorite of all time is still Beauty by Susan Wilson FYI... THE BEST. I need to re-read again.
I think I have read every Beauty & the Beast book there is - Rose Daughter, Beastly, all sorts of retellings of Beauty & the Beast.. I'm a total addict. This was a good one but not up there with some of the others.
It does pick up with the movie, using characters like Plumette in it (which apparently has kicked Babbette out of the picture) but now I'm also intrigued to see how the movie plays out this week because in this book, the Beast is a big reader. That's different.
Another part of the book - which I dont think is a spoiler - but kind of had me like WHAT? was Mrs. Potts explained to Belle what happened to the Beast - about the enchantress putting a curse on him. WHAT??? But apparently they dont tell her how the spell can be broken. Well, put 2 + 2 together & DUH!!!!
I think that's what got me - this book just felt like out of character. I get all the Beauty & the Beast stories are different - I'm OK with that - but if you are going to use the Disney name & use the Disney characters, I would think having their character stay in line with one another in the movie & the book would make sense. & in this book, Belle gets trapped in a book after Death & Love make a wager on Belle & the Beast. A different idea... but to me, it just had Belle looking dumb. Not making smart moves - which to me, Belle is exactly the opposite of. That was my issue with it.
It's definitely a book I'm glad I have, glad I read it. It's just not something I'll go back to & read over & over again or hold close to my heart like Beauty does. That's OK... I'm still 110% a Beauty & the Beast fan & not everything is going to win me over (Cough... Cough... that new yellow dress... cough... cough...)

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An original addition to the beloved Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, Lost in a Book follows the lonely, bookish Belle as she finds an enchanted book in the Beast’s library called Nevermore that carries her into a glittering new world. There, Belle is befriended by a mysterious countess who offers her the life she’s always dreamed of.

But Nevermore is not what it seems, and the more time Belle spends there, the harder it is to leave. Good stories take hold of us and never let us go, and once Belle becomes lost in this book, she may never find her way out again.

This deluxe hardcover novel expands upon the beautiful story and world seen in the new Walt Disney Studios' film, Beauty and the Beast.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Grace is Greater

Grace Is GreaterGrace Is Greater by Kyle Idleman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I knew I wanted to read this as soon as I saw it was a book on Grace - one of my favorite things to be reminded of. & especially when I saw who wrote it - one of my favorite Pastors.
This book did not disappoint, in the least.
Kyle Idleman has such a way of putting Biblical principals into relatable terms. You'll laugh at some of the personal stories (especially if you read the footnotes!!) & then you feel like you've been gut-punched with the truth that the Bible has that you tend to put aside. He's just so good at making God's words & promise easy to understand. Opens your eyes to noticing it more in your own life.
This book is broken up in how Grace works in a life - For you, for you to give to others (did I mention that gut-punch thing?) & how Grace is in all your circumstances.
As someone who goes to Kyle's church, I will say, I have heard many of the things he mentioned in this book in sermons. That's not a negative to me - it just reminded me of the great messages I've heard before & now glad to have some of the points written on paper to refer to more often & not have to rely on my ever forgetting memory. & I'm even more glad that the amazing messages that I get to hear every week is getting shared a bit with the rest of the world.
I honestly can't recommend this book enough if you struggle with wondering if God has enough mercy & grace for you in your mistakes you've made... or if you are having trouble forgiving others. You will close this book with an encouraged heart.

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The writer of the letter to the Hebrews said, "See to it that no one misses the grace of God." Over the centuries much ink has been spilled on the subject of grace. Yet perhaps nothing is as hard to explain as God's grace. It doesn't make sense. It's not fair. It can't possibly cover over what I've done. The best way--perhaps the only real way--to understand it is to experience it. But too often in our churches we're not getting grace across and grace is not experienced. 
Bestselling author and pastor Kyle Idleman wants everyone to experience the grace of God. Through the powerful medium of story, Grace Is Greater leads readers past their hang-ups toward an understanding of grace that is bigger than our mistakes, our failures, our desire for revenge, and our seemingly impossible situations. No sin is so great, no bitterness so deep that God's grace cannot transform the heart and rewrite the story. 
Perfect for individuals and also for small groups and church-wide studies, Grace Is Greater will help readers truly grasp God's grace, even if the Christians around them have failed to live it.

Friday, February 17, 2017

We Should Hang Out Sometimes

We Should Hang Out Sometime: Embarrassingly, a True StoryWe Should Hang Out Sometime: Embarrassingly, a True Story by Josh Sundquist
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So this guy is very likeable.
It's the story of a guy who just struggles on the dating front - so he goes back & looks over the girls that he was interested in growing up through middle school & high school, into college & telling the stories of their 'relationships' - if you want to call them that... & then figures out what went wrong. Even talking with these ladies to discuss what happened & what went wrong.
A pretty neat idea.
I have to say, its not a heavy, thought provoking, rocket science book. But it was a nice, easy, fun read to look into someone's openness about dating. Especially when you've had cancer at a early age & lost a leg. Add that into being a teenage boy - & you're going to have dating issues.
You're going to love Josh & his innocence & sweet nature.
Is this a MUST read? Nah... but I did enjoy it.
... & side note - i have since found his web page & his YouTube channel & enjoy him more in action than on these pages. I wish I would have heard his voice & seen his personality before I read it - it may have added more life to the story.

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What's the book about?

A bright, poignant, and deeply funny autobiographical account of coming of age as an amputee cancer survivor, from Josh Sundquist: Paralympic ski racer, YouTube star, and motivational speaker.

Josh Sundquist only ever had one girlfriend.
For twenty-three hours.
In eighth grade.

Why was Josh still single? To find out, he tracked down the girls he had tried to date and asked them straight up: What went wrong?

The results of Josh's semiscientific, wholly hilarious investigation are captured here. From a disastrous Putt-Putt date involving a backward prosthetic foot, to his introduction to CFD (Close Fast Dancing), to a misguided "grand gesture" at a Miss America pageant, this story is about looking for love--or at least a girlfriend--in all the wrong places.

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Princess Diariest

The Princess DiaristThe Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I feel a little bad saying this... I just didn't enjoy this like I usually do biographies.
After Carrie Fisher passed away, I was turned on to this book & I was intrigued about it because while I'm not a Star Wars fanatic like some people are, I do have memories of seeing it in the theaters in the 70's & having a Prince Leah Barbie doll. I was interested in hearing the 'behind the scenes' things about the book.
To me, this was just full of not much information & sad to say, a lot of whining about how Carrie didn't feel beautiful or must of a sex symbol of the time. & don't get me started on the whole Harrison Ford affair. It just felt like the longest, most drawn out bunch of useless information ever.
I really just didn't enjoy this book at all.
It was strange though how many times she referred to her passing & how she would be remembered or just things about dying. Felt very strange getting this book a few weeks after her passing & seeing her words about that. Hindsight.
If you are a huge Star Wars fan, you may enjoy it... I just felt like it was a bunch of writing just to be writing - a lot of it senseless & useless.

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Monday, January 30, 2017

The Mistletoe Secret

The Mistletoe SecretThe Mistletoe Secret by Richard Paul Evans
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I usually try to get in a Richard Paul Evans book every Christmas - his easy reading books about the holidays are always so good to me. & yes, I am a little behind on getting this one read for Christmas, but I still didnt want to let it pass by getting it in.
This is like most of his holiday stories - a cute little romance novel with a touch of faith & a nice, safe, modest style of love. So that means, this was sort of predictable, but I'm OK with that. Dont break something that isn't broke, right? These Christmas books aren't meant to teach brain surgery.
But I did figure out what was going on in this fairly early & knew how it would turn out. I did enjoy the idea though about the guy going on a hunt to find a blogger that he fell in love with after reading her blog about loneliness. A cute story idea for sure. I wish there was a tiny twist in it to just make it a little bit more unpredictable. & there were some side stories in there that just seemed to be a waste of time. (I really didnt need all the details about the Blue Boar Inn... really....) but 3 stars still says I liked it.. & I did. Didnt hate it, didnt fall in love with it. Just a cute story.

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Thinking no one is reading, a blogger who calls herself LBH writes about her most personal feelings, especially her overwhelming loneliness. She goes from day to day showing a brave face to the world while inside she longs to know how it would feel if one person cared about her.

Alex Bartlett cares. He’s reading her posts in Daytona Beach, Florida. Nursing his own broken heart and trust issues, he finds himself falling for this sensitive, vulnerable woman whose feelings mirror his own. Following a trail of clues LBH has inadvertently revealed, he discovers that she lives in the small town of Midway, Utah. He makes his way there just after Thanksgiving, determined to find LBH. Maybe she’s a Lisa, Lori, or a Luanne. Instead, he finds a woman named Aria, a waitress at the Mistletoe Diner, who encourages Alex in his search while serving his pie along with some much-needed sympathy and companionship.

Alex finally finds his LBH, a woman who is as beautiful and kind as he imagined she would be. How can he tell her that he knows her secret? What’s holding him back? Could it be his feelings for Aria?

Not a Fan

Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of JesusNot a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus by Kyle Idleman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This one may have taken a long time to get through, but it was worth every page of reading.
We read this in our Bible Study group & it couldnt have been a better book to read together. It was challenging, & real. Showing truth in perfect wording - reflective of scripture & also of real life emotions.
I may be a little biased because Kyle Idleman is the pastor of my church, but its also why I love my church. It's just the best teaching of God's word. This book had that same sort of impact on me.
So many ideas in this book having us question, are we REALLY following God. Are we really giving all we can? Are we just a fan, or a follower? There's a big difference. Like Kyle says - a fan will sit in the crowd & paint their face & hold signs & buy all the merchandise. But will you give up everything you own & have & all that is in you for the team? Or at the end of every game, do you pack up & go back to your own life? ... following Jesus isn't about going back to your own life. It's trying to reflect more of His life.
I honestly can not say enough about this book & really recommend it for anyone who is searching for a heart that follow Jesus.

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Are you a follower of Jesus? Don't answer too quickly. In fact, you may want to read this book before you answer at all. Consider it a 'Define the Relationship' conversation to determine exactly where you stand. You may indeed be a passionate, fully devoted follower of Jesus. Or, you may be just a fan who admires Jesus but isn't ready to let him cramp your style. Then again, maybe you're not into Jesus, period.In any case, don't take the question---Are you a follower of Jesus?---lightly.Some people don't know what they've said yes to and other people don't realize what they've said no to, says Pastor Kyle Idleman. But Jesus is ready to clearly define the relationship he wants with his followers.Not a Fan calls you to consider the demands and rewards of being a true disciple. With frankness sprinkled with humor, Idleman invites you to live the way Jesus lived, love the way he loved, pray the way he prayed, and never give up living for the One who gave his all for you.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Forget Love

Forget LoveForget Love by Babsy Tom
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

that basically sums up how I feel about this book.
I was afraid a book about a lady who has an accident & forgets her life & all her memories was going to be a shadow of "What Alice Forgot". Nope. Not even close. Loved that book. This one didn't compare at all.
It just seemed to be drug out in parts & then jumped really fast in others.
I got frustrated at all the drug out parts with the mother in law as well. I mean, chapters devoted over a side story that really didnt matter to me in the least.
I didn't mind Penny, whose memory was gone. I also really liked Tom, her "ex" husband - but the other guy, her boss, George. I still dont know what to think about that character. Half the time, I'm like, I dont get this. It just always felt weird & icky. I'm still not sure how their business interacting worked either. Just strange.
As for the end... ok... meh...
This passed the time just fine. But its not a book that I'd tell anyone else they had to pass their time with.

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When Penny Plage wakes up in the hospital, she has no idea who she is, where she is, how she got there—or even which man she loves. Does she belong with Tom, her aloof but disarmingly attractive artist ex-husband who looks great in his jeans and with whom she still shares a house and a dog? Or is she in love with George, her handsome boss in the designer suit who would do anything for her?

As Penny begins to piece together her past with the help of her devoted—and highly opinionated—BFFs, she discovers that she has a once-in-a-lifetime chance to begin anew. Although amnesia is no picnic, there’s a surprising amount of fun and laughter to be had in reinventing her life in ways she never, ever expected.

A frothy and fast-paced comedy that reveals the many quirks of the human heart, Forget Love reminds us that a good man, a couple of best friends, and a loyal dog can get us through just about anything.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Sun is Also a Star

The Sun Is Also a StarThe Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

You'd think I didnt like this book as long as it took me to get through it. You'd be wrong. I blame the holidays keeping me busy - because once I was able to sit down & finish this book out, I loved it.
To know that I didnt give up on this book during the busy season also shows that I liked it.
I wasn't sure I was going to like how this book ended, but the epilogue saved it for me.
I did love this book though because it shows how one life touches another, in ways we dont even know are possible. How they can change other people's destinys.
I love the characters of Natasha & Daniel. People from 2 totally different worlds, but feel like fate had brought them together one day in NY for different reasons.
It just all reminded me of the movie, Serendipity ... fate will find a way.

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Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

Monday, January 2, 2017

Kathy Griffin's Celebrity Run-Ins

Kathy Griffin's Celebrity Run-Ins: My A-Z IndexKathy Griffin's Celebrity Run-Ins: My A-Z Index by Kathy Griffin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I can't help it... I've always loved Kathy Griffin. Something about her makes me laugh. Maybe its the attitude that she doesn't care what she says, but I've always been a fan of hers. I shake my head a lot at her, but still laugh at a lot of the things that comes out of her mouth. I think you have to know she's a COMEDIAN. People tend to forget that. & I also know she's not everyone's cup of tea. Comedy is like any art - its all in the eye of the beholder.
I actually did this one audio book & I'm not a fan of audio books - but I think doing this book that way is what made me give it the full 5 stars. Her voice, it wasn't like she was 'reading' - it was like she was just telling her life - & I KNOW she was adding in things that aren't in the book. Add in her own laughter as she was reliving these celebrity stories & I didnt want this to end.
It made me really like other celebrities more, & also have me give some side eye to some others after the real life interaction with these people. When you can come away loving Christine Aguilera more, you gotta like this book. Some of the stories are really endearing too making me 'ahhh' a lot of times & other stories just had me flat out laughing.... Leo DiCaprio & the bathroom scene, I choked laughed while I was driving.
SO MANY CELEBRITY STORIES!!! I was all about it.
& you gotta read it just for her story about being involved in one of the biggest serial killer trials in the US.
I will listen to this again just for the sheer fun of it.

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