Monday, July 26, 2010

Cast of Characters

Cast of Characters: Common People in the Hands of an Uncommon God. Max Lucado. Thomas Nelson. March 2010. Paperback. 256 pages.

In Cast of Characters, Max takes the stories of 26 common people from the bible and shows readers how God used them in mighty ways. Most of the characters are well known, but some aren't. Each of these people had imperfections, and failed at some point in their lives, but they were still used by God for His purpose. Each chapter is about 4-5 pages long and they start out with a passage from scripture that has to do with the particular character you are reading about. Then we are able to take a closer look into the lives of these people that were just like us who made mistakes and had many flaws, yet they were used in BIG ways for God's glory. At the end of each chapter there are discussion questions that would be especially great for small groups and youth groups. 

This was an easy and enjoyable read. I liked how the chapters are all stand alone, so you can skip through to the chapter you want or you can read it all the way through. The discussion questions at the end of the chapters are also very useful and most of them refer the reader back to Bible passages. Max is a natural at telling stories in a way that just draws you in and keeps your attention. I loved reading about these ordinary people that God chose to use right where they were at. I recommend this book to anyone. 

My Rating: 3/5 stars

To buy this from the publisher click HERE
To read more reviews click HERE

(This book was provided for review by Thomas Nelson Publishers.)

Same Kind of Different As Me

Same Kind of Different As Me. Ron Hall, Denver Moore, Lynn Vincent. 
Thomas Nelson. March 2008. Paperback. 356 pages.

Same Kind of Different As Me is a true story of an unlikely friendship formed between two men from two different worlds, all because of one woman's obedience to the call God had for her life. Denver was raised in Louisiana as a modern day slave to "the Man". He worked hard as a sharecropper for nearly 30 years until he finally decided to jump on a train and leave the only life he knew, in search of a new one. Unfortunately, he ended up homeless and on the streets of Ft. Worth for 18 years.

Ron is a very successful and wealthy art dealer, who grew up on a farm in Fort Worth, Texas. He met his wife, Deborah, while attending college. She became a Christian after they were married and had a desire to help the homeless. She became involved in volunteering at a homeless shelter where she met Denver. Ron really didn't want to join her in this volunteer work, but he did anyway, just to please his wife. Deborah encouraged him to become friends with Denver. Even though neither one of them was too excited about this relationship, they eventually formed a friendship that would last a lifetime. The story takes a very sad turn in the end when Deborah is diagnosed with cancer. Their lives are changed forever and the outcome isn't what anyone could have ever imagined.

This is such an inspirational story and I loved it. I read "What Difference do it make" last year and I was so excited to have a chance to read this one too. I really liked how each chapter alternated between voices and in the beginning of the book you get a good look into Ron and Denver's lives before they met. It's amazing how someones heart can change through serving others in need. This book has a wonderful message of love, friendship, and hope. I would encourage anyone to grab a copy and see for themselves.

My Rating: 3/5

To buy this from the publisher click HERE
To read more reviews click HERE

(This book was provided for review by Thomas Nelson Publishers.)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Once Upon a Baby Brother

Once upon a baby brother. Sarah Sullivan. FSC. June 2010. 
Hardcover. 32 pages. Reading Level: Ages 4-8

Ever since Lizzie could talk she loved to tell all kinds of stories. She would tell them to just about anyone that would listen. When her baby brother, Marvin, came along no one had time to listen anymore, except for her dog Big George. When she entered the second grade, Lizzie was excited to find out that her teacher, Miss Pennyroyal, loved stories too and all the kids in the class got a chance to write some of their own. One day after her mom took Marvin to grammas house, Lizzie couldn't come up with any stories. Her imagination dried up. Something was missing, but she couldn't quite figure out what it was. Will she be able to get her writing muse back?

This is an adorable book. It encourages kids to express themselves through the art of writing. It was cute seeing how Lizzie's feelings toward her brother changed by the end of the story. My 4 year old niece really liked this one and she loved the pictures. The illustrations couldn't have been more perfect for the story. This would be great for kids that have younger siblings or have just had one come into the family.

My Rating: 4/5 stars

(This book was not provided for review purposes. It is one that I won from a blog giveaway.)

Latte Daze: A Maya Davis Novel

Latte Daze. Erynn Mangum. Navpress. July 2010. 
Paperback. 304 pages.

Maya's life seems to be just fine the way it is. She's an employee at Coffee Bean along with her boyfriend, Jack. She's roommates with her best friend, Jen, who happens to be dating her ex-boyfriend, Travis. She's adjusted to the awkward situation. Her Sunday evenings are always spent with her parents, brother and sister-in-law. She regularly goes to church and weekly bible study group. Yup, everything is great, but soon things begin to change and get a little complicating.

Jen and Travis become engaged and their apartment becomes wedding central. Jack takes a job at the zoo so she doesn't see him as much anymore and her brother and sister-in-law announce that they're having a baby. As if that wasn't enough, Jen's mom decides to move in for the remainder of her engagement to "help out" with the planning. Maya feels stuck in the same routine while everyone else's life is changing.

This is the second book in the Maya Davis series by Erynn Mangum. I haven't read book one and I thought I might have been confused with the storyline, but that wasn't the case at all. I thought it was just fine as a stand alone story. I like the fact that the author incorporated the characters relationship with God into the story and there are so many positive messages for the readers. Each of the characters were very believable and situations that they were in are relatable to some degree. Even though this is geared toward young adults, I think any age would enjoy this novel. This was a very enjoyable read and I highly recommend it.

My Rating: 4/5 stars

To buy this from the publisher click HERE

(This book was provided for review by Navpress Publishers.)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Blogoversary Giveaway!

To celebrate my 1 year blogoversary, I'm going to be giving away 4 books to one lucky winner! This is a big deal for me because I've only been able to have one giveaway so far and I thought this was the perfect time to do one especially for my Blogoversary. The books aren't all brand new titles that just came out, but they were released in 2010. The books are all still in GREAT condition. Here are the titles up for grabs.

To enter for a chance to win these books just leave a comment on this post or send me an email with "giveaway" as the subject.
-U.S residents only please
-Leave a valid email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. Remember to disguise it like this: reading1atatime(at)yahoo(dot)(com)
-Contest is open until August 9, 2010 at 11:59 PST. Any comments left after will not count
-The winner will be announced on August 10, 2010 and I will contact the winner via email. The winner will have 48 hours to respond or another name will be drawn.

Happy Reading!!!

Boyduck Goose: His Life and Times

Boyduck Goose: His Life and Times. Harriet Lila Baker. Dorrance Publishing. 
July 2004. 64 pages. Reading Level: 9-12

This is a short book with the chapters being about 1-2 pages long. I requested it with my 4 year old niece in mind. She loves animals and I thought she would really enjoy it. I didn't know that there are no pictures, so she lost interest very quickly when I began reading it. Kids that can read on their own would probably enjoy it a lot more, but their are a few words that would be harder for beginners so it's a great book for parents to read to or with their kids. I thought the story was cute and funny at times and it only took me about 30 minutes to read the whole thing. There are a few things I didn't like though. There is a chapter titled, "On the subject of alcohol." I just don't think kids books need to have anything about alcohol, beer, etc. The next chapter is Mr. Sam's version of Derby Day and he tells the story of how Boyduck got drunk and passed out. Of course there is nothing in this book that would encourage drinking, but there also isn't anything showing kids how bad, unhealthy, and dangerous it is. Those two chapters alone would most likely make parents not even consider purchasing this book, and I think it's pretty sad because, besides those chapters, the book is pretty good. Overall the story was enjoyable, but it would have done just fine without chapters 9 and 10.

My Rating: 2/5 stars (Only because of those chapters)

To buy this from the publisher click HERE

(This book was provided for review by Dorrance Publishing Co.)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Heading Home (Indian Island Trilogy - Book 3)

Heading Home. Renée Riva. David C. Cook. April 2010.
 Paperback. 272 pages.

"Eight years is a long time - from saying good-bye as kids to saying hello as adults."

Heading Home is the third book in the Indian Island trilogy. Now that A.J. is 18 years old, the day she has been waiting for has finally come. She's headed back to the island she knows best as home. She will soon start college to study veterinary science and she'll also be reunited with her dog, Sailor, and best friend, Danny. A lot has changed over the past eight years. Danny begins realizing the true feelings he has for A.J. and hopes to be more than just her best friend, but she has a promise to keep which unfortunately doesn't include him. Both A.J. and Danny have a lot to think about regarding their plans for their future, and whether or not it means they'll be together along the way.  

This is such a sweet story and I absolutely love the ending! It's a fast read and I literally felt like I was stuck to this book. Once again, Renée wrote another great novel that's full of family, humor, love and lessons learned. A.J. is the same quirky girl with a great sense of humor and her family is just as crazy as they were in the two previous books(Saving Sailor and Taking Tuscany). It's just so easy to fall in love with the characters and the story. I was laughing out loud most of the time and I felt like I was losing a friend when it was over. This was a wonderful finish to a very enjoyable and entertaining trilogy. If you haven't read any of these books, you definitely need to grab a copy of them because you are missing out!

My Rating: 5/5 stars

To buy this from the publisher click HERE
Go here to read my reviews for Saving Sailor and Taking Tuscany

*Special thanks to Karen Stoller of David C. Cook for sending me a review copy.*

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Taking Tuscany (Indian Island Trilogy - Book 2)

Taking Tuscany. Renée Riva. David C. Cook. May 2009. 
Paperback. 288 pages.

Three years have gone by since the Degulio family moved to their old crumbling castle in Tuscany. A.J. had to leave her dog, Sailor, behind along with her best friend, Danny. It's not an easy task for A.J. to make new friends at school, especially because she's the only blonde, freckled-faced, fair-skinned girl there. She describes it much better. "As if I didn't stand out enough already. In cookie terms it's like being a vanilla wafer in a box of chocolate biscotti."pg.15  Annalisa Tartini is the "Queen Bee" at A.J's new school and gave her the nickname, Yankee. Every day she tries to avoid the queen bee and her followers, but they always seem to run into each other, which calls for some kind of trouble.

When A.J. becomes friends with a nun named Sister Aggie, she confides in her and explains how unhappy she is because she was forced to move half way around the world with her family. Sister Aggie tells her to read a certain book that really makes her think and begin to appreciate her life and family a little more. With those accident prone Degulio kids, another one of them gets hurt and A.J's appreciation grows stronger for her family. She sees just how precious they are, even though they're embarrassing, family is everything.

This has easily become another one of my favorites. Renée has a beautiful way of writing stories that bring out different emotions as you read and she adds a great moral to them. Taking Tuscany had me laughing and I even cried a little. Even though A.J. is 3 years older in this story, she is still the same funny character I couldn't get enough of in Saving Sailor. Another thing I really liked is that this is a clean story, so you won't come across anything inappropriate being said. I don't think there's a certain age group this book is geared toward. Even if there was, anyone can enjoy it. The next book in this series is Heading Home. I'll be reviewing that one next.

My Rating: 5/5 stars

You can read the first chapter HERE
To buy this from the publisher click HERE

*Special thanks to Karen Stoller of David C. Cook for sending me a review copy.*

Monday, July 5, 2010

Saving Sailor (Indian Island Trilogy - Book 1)

Saving Sailor: A novel. Renée Riva. RiverOak. May 2007. 
Paperback. 224 pages.

This story is set in the summer of 1968 on Indian Lake, as the Degulio family are on vacation. The main character is a carefree 9 year old named Angelina Juliana, but she prefers to be called A.J. She enjoys drifting on the lake with her dog Sailor and driving her mother crazy by talking in a Southern accent. It bothers her so much because they're an Italian family and, "No full-blooded Roman Catholic Italian child raised in the Northwest can possibly have a Southern accent."pg 17. 

It's about half way through the summer when A.J meets 13 year old, Danny Morgan. They both share a love for God, star-gazing, and the lake. Danny's family begins to fall apart when his father has an affair, or as A.J says, "He had a sleepover with another lady." Even though this has happened before, Danny knows his mom will forgive her husband again. After a series of events, A.J has an accident and something unexpected happens. The lives of both the Degulio and Morgan family are changed for the better.

I love this book! I instantly fell in love with each of the characters and A.J's crazy family reminds me of my own. A.J.'s innocence and quirky sense of humor drew me in even more. This is the kind of book I like to read. It's a cute, funny, heartwarming story and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next when A.J and her family head to Tuscany. This is the first book in the series about A.J by Renée Riva. The other two are Taking Tuscany and Heading Home

My Rating: 5/5 stars

You can read the first chapter HERE
To buy this from the publisher click HERE

*Special thanks to Karen Stoller of David C. Cook for sending me a review copy.*

Friday, July 2, 2010

Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace In His Presence(Deluxe Edition)

Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace In His Presence. Sarah Young. Thomas Nelson. July 2010. Imitation Leather. 400 pages.

Jesus Calling is a 365 day devotional written by Sarah Young. As she set aside time each morning to just listen to God, Sarah wrote everything she felt He was telling her in a prayer journal. Those journal entries were turned into this beautiful devotional, now available in deluxe edition. Written in the first person, with "I" "me" and "mine" referring to Jesus, it is as if He is speaking directly to you. And just to clarify, Young adds in the introduction, "The Bible is, of course, the only inerrant Word of God; my writings must be consistent with that unchanging standard." Each devotion is brief, about a paragraph or two, ending with a scripture reference so you get right back to God's Word. This devotional is so different from any I've ever read before. I love it when the topic for the day is exactly what I needed to read. The promises in scripture are made more personal through this small, inspirational book. With it's leather engraved cover that just adds to the beauty of this entire devotional, this would make a perfect gift for any occasion. 

You can preview this book HERE

My Rating: 5/5 stars

To buy this from the publisher click HERE
To read more reviews click HERE

(This book was provided for review by Thomas Nelson Publishers.)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

I have a surprise!!

I have a wonderful surprise coming up for my 1 year blogoversary. I'm so excited!! On July 10th I will be announcing what it is so come back soon to see what's next.

Happy Reading!
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