Category Archives: Net Galley

Keep your Eyes Wide Open even when you cannot see clearly

What do you do when you think a branch jumped out to hit you? When you’re unintentionally walking into fire hydrants? What about when you’re doing a media blitz because you’re cast for a part in a television sequel and then the program doesn’t get beyond the first season? How do you react when you’re the only blind law clerk? Or you take over a construction company and learn its failing?

This and many more are circumstances that Isaac Lidsky encountered throughout his life. The main challenge he has had throughout all of it was slowly losing his sight due to an inherited disease in the eyes, retinitis pigmentosa. He has an impressive resume of high honors at Harvard University and Harvard Law School as well as editor of Harvard Law Review. Lidsky has spent his life learning to overcome the circumstances of losing his sight and never let that consume him, living life with his Eyes Wide Open.


In this book, Lidsky shares the struggles he’s gone through and how he overcame them. He shares about how life as we know it is more than just what we see in front of us. We need to be more observant of what’s behind what we think we see. How do you do that? It is important to notice if the words and facial expressions and tone all match up. It’s important to ask questions and get reasonings behind each response. 

Lidsky goes into detail about our plans versus God’s plan, acceptance versus surrender, how to measure your success, and having your ears and heart wide open as well. When you converse with others, there’s more than what you see in front of you. There’s a back story for responses and the why’s behind everyone’s answers or responses. It’s a lifestyle of digging deeper into the responses people give you about anything.

Although it took me a while to read this book, I do highly recommend it. I’m not the same person after reading the words in Eyes Wide Open. It’s not easy to have my eyes wide open in every situation, but it’s a good practice at least a few times a day. An electronic copy of Eyes Wide Open by Isaac Lidsky was provided complimentary in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for the opportunity to review, Net Galley and Tarcher Perigee.

The Glass Gauntlet is brilliant and engaging

From the moment Ronan Truelove and his friends, Greta and Sammy, decide to take on this Glass Gauntlet school, the three were surrounded by trials, challenges, and enemies they were not expecting. Given the recent past, as described in Blood Guard, Ronan isn’t quite sure who or what to trust any more. These three have become dependent on each other and have learned to work together as a team in the pages full of brilliant creativity and edge of your seat engagement.

Life was already not as normal as Ronan had once thought. The Bend Sinister, led by his own father, was on the hunt for Ronan and the Blood Guard gullibly took the Bend Sinister bait far away from Ronan’s location. Ronan’s mother had prepared Ronan for anything without him even knowing it. Every moment was another trick to break Ronan and his friends down. Ronan and his friends are awarded pieces of the Glass Gauntlet after each challenge and try to put it together. There seems to be something missing and it turns out Ronan had it the whole time! What is this Glass Gauntlet and what happens when it is used?

“Greta,” I whispered. “I tried to save her and he was watching and . . . He knows. I’m sure of it.” -Ronan Truelove, Glass Gauntlet, Chapter 24.

Once I opened this book, I had a very hard time putting it down. As a sequel to Blood Guard, The Glass Gauntlet is more adventurous and creatively written. There are so many obstacles that Ronan is faced with and his use of the items in his reach as well as the skills he’s been taught through the years. His mother, a Blood Guard, had him trained well considering her options of not sharing the fact of who she is be revealed.

This is a fantastic book for middle-school aged children. Roy Carter has done very well at painting the pictures of his settings and describing characters. You know it’s a great book when you aren’t sure if there’s a “happily ever after”! Page turn to page turn, the words jump off the page and create images that are so vivid that you feel like you’re right there with Ronan and his friends. 

Given an opportunity read another book by Roy Carter, I would surely take it! There is a Book 3 to this series, Blazing Bridge, that I am eager to read. His writing is brilliant and the pictures he paints and smells I can breathe are so realistic. This book was provided complimentary by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Blue Jeans Gospel compares blue jeans with the gospel

I love my blue jeans. I wear it as often as I can. It’s soft and comfortable. It fits me just how I like it. It’s even starting to wear at the seams where my son giggled as he poked his finger through my jeans and touched my leg! But what does blue jeans have anything to do with the gospel? I was intrigued when I saw this title in a sea of others. There was no way this blue jean loving lady was going to pass up a book titled Blue Jeans Gospel! There’s got to be a connection!! 

Well, there’s apparently a fantastic connection between blue jeans and the gospel. I don’t know about you, but I love it when my blue jeans is fitted just so and wearing it increases my self-confidence. Similarly, the gospel is to be worn comfortably on our heart! 

When you read and believe the scriptures, it becomes a part of you. It fits in your heart as you cherish the direction and guidance and integrity it fills you with. Blue Jeans Gospel will guide readers to getting the gospel to fit your heart like your blue jeans fits your body!

Now I’m picturing the scriptures covering my heart snug and soft like my favorite pair of blue jeans fits my body. I hope this easy to read book makes you feel this way as well!

Blue Jeans Gospel by Rob Cruver was provided complimentary for an honest review via NetGalley.

One day at a time for 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Mom

A few months ago, I asked my son if I was a “happy mommy.” His response? “Not really, Mommy.” This cannot be a good sign if even my child can recognize if I’m happy or not, can it? This gave me a reason to read 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Mom by Arlene Pellicane.

  
This book is a day to day read, targeting one area of motherhood at a time. Each day brings the author’s personal stories along with scripture to back up how to depend on Jesus for the situation. There’s even suggestions for what to do as a stepmom, which I found helpful as I also have step kids. 

Some of the topics I found especially interesting was controlling the use of electronic devices, such as not allowing devices at the dinner table, not even allowing anyone to answer the phone. Another topic focused on spending quality and intimate time with your spouse. I am guilty of a lot of areas that is not helping this family be healthy, which doesn’t help my happiness as a mother.

As a mother of a seven year old and a stepmother of a twenty and a sixteen year old, I found 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Mom by Arlene Pellicane 5o be quite useful as I attempt to incorporate many of these 31 ideas into daily life. I’d have to admit, when everyone else is following their uses, it makes my life much easier.

There are a few areas I find especially challenging, but we are taking these in baby steps and slowly becoming happier and happier as a mom. 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Mom by Arlene Pellicane is a fantastic book for any mother with children of various ages and I highly recommend it!

A complimentary electronic copy of 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Mom by Arlene Pellicane was provided for an honest review from NetGalley

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Fall 2015 Debut Fiction Sampler gives a taste of a mix of emotions

There’s those appetizer sampler platters at restaurants, then there’s a book of samples from various books. I just finished a book, Fall 2015 Debut Fiction Sampler, that has a couple chapters of nine different books. These books took me through a variety of emotions and scenarios. Let me share a little of each, hopefully enough to entice you to check out one or two, or more.


The Dressmaker’s War: A Novel by Mary Chamberlain

Ada Vaughan is a young dressmaker disguising herself as a mannequin for Mr Stanislaus von Lieben, originally from Germany. This story takes place in the 1930s when Ada is a young woman, from a poor family with a big family in a small space. She works very hard to get to where she is as a dressmaker. A fast learner, Ada adapts quickly and soaks in all the information she can learn about various fabrics and takes in the new French and German language that gets thrown her way. Her parents worry about her getting into mischief with Mr von Leiben, but she doesn’t worry one bit and carries on with caution. Descriptions of the naïveté of Ada and her innocence is explicitly shared and it makes me as the reader wonder what type of trouble she could possibly get herself into.

Is Stanislaus von Lieben hiding something? What is his motive? What steps will he take to get to his end goal and once he’s there, what’s next?

This a very intriguing sample and I am encouraged to read the full story someday.

The Courtesan by Alexandra Curry

Little Jinhua, about 7, is the daughter of a concubine, who died during childbirth. Her father, Baba, loves to tell stories with Jinhua and is often required to leave their home by orders of the Emporer. One day, Baba suffers from the sharp blade that beheads him. Baba’s First Wife, Timu, is aware of this event and does not want to care for Jinhua, instead plans to sell her. Jinhua is unaware of what will happen next and her entire world is changed in a matter of moments.

I am immediately drawn into this story with the vast detail. It is comforting that a father would spend such precious time with his daughter. I’m curious what will happen to Jinhua. What is she feeling? What will she endure? How will these events affect her future?

The death of a parent is not easy to cope with, especially one as sudden as Baba’s. My heart aches for Jinhua.

The Survivors by Robert Palmer

Three brothers, Ron, Alan, and Davie along with a neighbor boy, Scottie, are playing upstairs of their home. It’s windy and there’s a bang that the boys assume is the sound of the door slamming. While playing Hide & Seek, Davie sees his mother, who’s outside and she shoots herself in the head. Fast forward a few decades and Davie is a psychologist. Scottie uses a different name and goes to Davie’s office.

Why did Scottie seek out Davie? What was in his heavy backpack? And why did he run off?What happened to Ron and Alan?

At first the story doesn’t seem like something I would normally read, yet I was drawn into it with curiosity. I want to continue reading just to learn more about what Scottie’s motives are.

The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild

“Improbability of Love” is the title of a painting that was once worth millions and many gathered to an auction to purchase it. Part of the story is told from the perspective of the painting itself. New owner, Annie lived much less lavishly than the painting has ever witnessed. It expresses her movements while cooking for the man she was dating. The man never shows and she cries all night

I wonder where else this painting has been? What will happen to Annie now that she’s been stood up? Will she ever learn the history of this painting?

If I were to read this book in its entirety, it would be to learn the history of this once sought for painting. What has it been through and how did it end up in a shop collecting dust?

Unspeakable Things by Kathleen Spivack

Secret messages in various languages between Herbert and a dear friend, Anna “The Rat”, who was little, hunch backed and had whiskers coming from a mole near her nose. They loved playing chess and even did so through letters with coordinated positions. One day when they are older, Anna finds Herbert and he keeps her safe. The story goes back in time to a time when Herbert arranged for his family to immigrate to New York from Austria during WWII, it cost him everything he owned, including his young son.

Not a typical story I would read even with the captivating descriptions which make the reader feel a part of the story. But it’s still not likely something I would read or enjoy reading. However, it could be a genre someone else might enjoy thoroughly.

Another Woman’s Daughter by Fiona Sussman

Celia is apparently a slave to the Steiner family, who lives in the south, possibly Florida area. She has a 6 year old daughter, Miriam. The Steiners ask to adopt Miriam and they are relocating to England, where Miriam can go to school an have more opportunity.

It hurts my heart to think a mother would allow a child to make such an adult choice. As the mother of a 6 year old boy, I would never allow anyone to take him from me as what happens to the child when living with someone else in a faraway country I could never get to? How would I know he’s safe and loved and cared for?

This type of story is too harsh and real for my heart. It adds a burden to my soul, especially knowing it could have happened to any mother and young child in that day. As it might be enjoyed by other readers, it is just not for me.

The Visitors by Simon Sylvester

Flora is a teenager living in an area where many have deserted for bigger and better things. She’s been dating an older boy, who’s leaving the area as well for college. The two spot a father and daughter who are moving into Dog Cottage, which has been abandoned as long as they can remember. Flora lives with her Mum, her new husband Ronny, their young son James, and have many visitors.

This is a genre I would likely read. I am curious who these new residents of Dog Cottage are and where they came from, what’s their story.

Whatever happened to the men who have gone missing? What Flo make friends with the new residents? Will she ever get her chance to leave the area?

The Longest Night by Andrea Williams

Paul in Idaho Falls 1961 works in the military, stationed to live among civilians and work at a reactor. Married with two little girls, Paul finds sirens rushing towards the reactor before he realizes it’s where they were headed. Rewind two years, the family took a road trip to arrive in Idaho. His wife, Nat, is an adventurous risk-taker type. Something opposite of Paul’s personality & upbringing. Paul’s parents were both uncontrollable drunks, causing Paul to desire people who can control their thoughts and actions, but soon realize that people are just as dysfunctional as his parents. Interesting personalities in this main character, Paul, creates curiosity to read this story.

What happens when Paul gets home after his Master Sargeant leaves him stranded at the reactor 50 miles from home? How does he explain this delay in getting home to his wife and kids? What happened with the sirens?

This book seems like something I might enjoy, yet at the same time, I am unsure. If it falls on my list of books to review in the future I may consider it.

The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young

Charlotte recently lost her little boy Keegen. He had a brain aneurism and she didn’t make it to see him before he passed away. Keegen’s father had an affair a couple years before his passing. Charlotte spends time with her grandmother, who lives a few blocks away. Charlottes friend Rae comes by to help make life easier for Charlotte, and she has a little girl Zoe, who is in a recital and breaks her ankle. Charlotte has dreams that come true, this starts off to be a strange realization for her. She dreams about a little girl, Hannah, who has been missing since school let out. She sees Hannah in her dream and studies the environment.

What does Charlotte do when she awakes from her dream about Hannah? Where are these dreams coming from? What’s causing it? Did she have one of these dreams before Keegen’s passing?

With the death of her child, it places me at a defense. Reading only the couple chapters from the sampler, it made it difficult to sleep that night and caused me to spend more time loving my child. Typically I shy away from books that start off like this. But, being able to see the strength in character that Charlotte has gives me hope that she will get through this a lot better than I would. I would consider reading this one.

In summary, this is a long review, but I wanted to give you an idea about each book that is sampled. This Fall 2015 Debut Fiction Sampler was provided complimentary for an honest review by NetGalley.com.

 NetGalley Challenge Advocate

Is Jesus truly “Boundless”?

Your typical “Christian church” in the West, has worship music often played to popular tunes, a sermon in a lecture-style format, and possibly small groups the congregation and break into throughout the week. At least, that’s been my experience in the last 20 years. What if the parameters were different? What if the worship was in the music style of the local community? What if the message was discussed as a group? What if learning was more effective through a storytelling and probing questions to follow?

This is sort of the route that Bryan Bishop took in his book, Boundless. As a researcher for Youth with a Mission (YWAM), Bishop traveled the world and discovered hidden movements of Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, and others experiencing Jesus without the cookie cutter Western Christianity. Can people who live in communities of these other cultures still experience Jesus?

At first, Boundless seemed similar to a book I’ve already reviewed, Jesus without Borders by Chadd Gibbs. In both works, the author goes on these trips around the world and visits the Christian groups in the areas. There are remarkable similarities to their findings, even as they travel to different places. However, Boundless has a few additional topics:

  • Bishop summarizes a few principles that reveal the boundaries of Western Christianity being broken
  • There are additional videos that go along with a 10-week study that groups can go through

Personally, I enjoyed reading Boundless and the revelations that it reveals. I am not surprised that there are groups meeting and using their own cultural aspects to share the Gospel. We should meet others where they are at, or so that is what I’ve been taught. When we share our own experiences, it places perspective in other peoples eyes, just as if we were sharing about a trip we went on and what we did.

I received a complimentary copy of Boundless from Net Galley.

Boundless can be found in various places, but I highly encourage purchasing from http://bryanbishop.net/resources/ or http://www.bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/boundless/353540. I am purchasing a copy for a friend, who i think will absolutely love it!

Are you a Horizontal Jesus?

Often heard in many Christian conversations, sermons, podcasts, etc, there is a common saying that we need to work on our vertical before our horizontal. In other words, we need to work on our relationship with God before reaching out to others. The book Horizontal Jesus by Dr Tony Evans describes the opposite.

Dr Evans describes in his book that we should emulate Jesus through our actions. Why are we waiting for someone else to do feed the hungry, clothe the poor, and shelter the homeless when we can do just that ourselves? It reminds me of the song by Matthew West, Do Something. Like the book, Matthew West describes how instead of just waiting or watching something happen, we do something about it.

In Horizontal Jesus, Dr Evans shares that we need to live as Jesus did, do what Jesus did, react the way Jesus did, and be the example of Jesus here on earth. It is our job to be the example that non-Christians can see Jesus in us.

Recently, I also heard on the radio that we should live in a manner that causes others to look at themselves and wonder what they’re missing in their lives. Horizontal Jesus makes that same point. We need to be the hands and feet for Jesus while we are here on earth.

Horizontal Jesus was provided to me complimentary through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. There is a study guide version that goes along with the book. Published by Harvest House Publishers and available at your local or electronic bookstore, Horizontal Jesus is an excellently written book that places the reader on the edge of going out and doing something.

And what a great place to be!

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Will Max the Brave find a mouse?

Max the Brave is a kitten who loves chasing mice. Unfortunately, this kitten has no idea what a mouse is! So, this adventure takes Max through exploring and gullibility. Be a part of Max’s adventure and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway, available until October 31!

Several weeks ago, I found Max the Brave on NetGalley. When I first read this story to my six year old I used animated voices to represent various creatures and encouraged him to get excited through the storyline. Not too long ago, I was approached to be a part of the Max the Brave book tour. I did everything I could to be a part of this book tour because I knew my son would enjoy it, too. He absolutely loved this story and was thrilled when I told him we got the book in the mail! An actual book he can skim through and read all in his own now!

This fearless kitten searches for a mouse. He asks other creatures if they are mouse. He gets pointed in the right direction, when finally he approaches a big green monster looking creature. Wait, is THAT mouse?

His favorite line is “Max is a brave kitten.”

Max the Brave, by Ed Vere, is artistically and creatively assembled. It is simple for children to read without the distractions of scenery. Sometimes, a setting is too much for the main idea of the story. Lovely colors and an excellent cape to enhance Max’s bravery seals the perfection in this book.

Even as an adult and parent, I love this book. It took my son on an adventure he would never have experienced. And I thoroughly enjoyed reading it to him before he knew most of the words several weeks ago. Oh, how quickly they speed through learning to read at the first grade! Now, he can read most of it to me!

Please visit http://books.sourcebooks.com/maxthebrave/ to learn more about Max the Brave and other fantastic book by London creator, Ed Vere.


NetGalley Challenge 2015

I am letting publishers and writers know that I am serious. Serious about helping books succeed.

I am a book advocate!

This is a badge for the NetGalley Challenge 2015.

Challenge Participant

No seriously, I am an advocate 🙂 I love books, I love reading. I can only hope my son will have a love for books like I do.

Unfortunately, I have this thing called “work” that I must go to and it limits my time to do the reading I love. So, I use books and reading as a time to reflect, a time to get away from this craziness people call “life”, a time to just relax.

If you are also a book advocate with NetGalley, please share your experiences as well! Let’s share this love of books!

The Kind-hearted Monster by Max Velhuijs

It’s been several weeks, maybe a month or so, since I read this very colorful book to my 6-year old son. He loved the main character, who happened to be a big, red monster. What little boy doesn’t love monster stories? Certainly, not mine!

As he studied the bright images on the pages, I read the story to him. It pleases my heart when I see the facial expressions he makes when he realizes what’s going on in a story, from surprise to happy to angry to excited. *The Kind-hearted Monster* is a book made up of two short stories.

In the first part, this kind-hearted monster frightens the people in the city. But, he talks to them and tells them that he’s not a mean monster. The city officials try to train him for battle, but he just doesn’t like it. Someone decides to build an electric plant that will use the monster’s fire as fuel for the power generated for the city at night. The people of the city are overjoyed!

  
Then in the second part of the book, a bunch of robbers tries to steal the monster. Now, how does a bunch of robbers steal a huge monster that appears bigger than a bus? They feed him bread laced with sleeping powder! 

This is a story I wouldn’t mind reading to my son over and over again. My child seemed to like the second part of the book with he robbers much more than the first. There’s just something interesting about robbers and their unconventional plans.

Fabulous choice of books for my ever amused son! I hope your kiddos love it, too!