All names on this blog (except for other Bloggers' names) have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals. However, each pseudonym has been chosen with care, and reflects in some way or with some meaning the character/personality of each individual.


"With God, all things are possible."


Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Book Review: "The Wounded Shadow" by Patrick W. Carr

The Wounded Shadow (The Darkwater Saga, #3)The Wounded Shadow by Patrick W. Carr

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the third and last book in Patrick W. Carr’s ‘Darkwater Saga’, but the second that I have read.

‘The Wounded Shadow’ jumps right in where ‘The Shattered Vigil’ left off. Literally. In the middle of a scene. This technique can be both a positive and a negative one to use in a book series. For a reader who just finished one book and has immediate access to the next one, it creates a wonderful feeling of expectance. But it can also be very disjointing and confusing, causing an unfamiliar reader to have to read whole chapters before gaining any kind of idea about what’s going on.

Overall, this was an intriguing and enjoyable read. It was a well-crafted story (complex characters, intricate world-building), quite a page-turner, with many interlocking parts and weaving details that the author was able to keep straight admirably! However, there were a few aspects I found unpleasant.

One of the most irritating aspects of the story itself was the shameless way that the character Gael presented herself in several situations. It seemed that she possessed very little dignity, decorum, or self-respect in her provocative mannerisms, as well as little respect towards her fiancĂ©’s desire for decency and honor in their relationship, or compassion toward his struggles. Though supposedly one of the ‘heroes’ of the story, she seemed to have a lot to learn about being a real one.

A couple of other negatives I found were the many women in religious leadership positions, the vaguely nagging ‘danglers’ left at the end (What ever happened to Lelwin? Why did Ealdor reach out to Willet in the first place, and were Willet’s unanswered questions to him ever answered? Was Modrie’s ‘mind’ ever restored and the sentinel race reestablished?), and – at the risk of sounding like I’m splitting hairs - the font size was small and painful to try to read, as in the previous book (I would rather be able to read the words without squinting, even if it means a thicker book).

All of the above aside, there were quite a few positive points. Allegorical tints to the story were much more evident in this book than in the previous one. Also, the development of young Mark’s character and Elieve’s redemption were probably my favorite aspects of the story. Their interaction was a fascinating and well-written situation. Mark’s determination that Elieve be rescued, his honorable conduct, and his unwavering dedication to her recovery in the face of huge odds, represent some of the most lacking (and yet most desirable) character traits in young people today. Perhaps we would see more ‘miracles’ happen now, if there were more people willing to sacrifice for others, work hard, and stay committed until the goal is accomplished, as Mark did.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. No review, positive or otherwise, was required—all opinions are my own.

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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Book Review: "Quick Tips for Busy Families" by Jay Payleitner

Quick Tips for Busy Families: Sneaky Strategies for Raising Great KidsQuick Tips for Busy Families: Sneaky Strategies for Raising Great Kids by Jay Payleitner

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Mr. Payleitner writes with a fun and engaging style that is as effective at keeping his readers turning the pages as the short, quick, and straightforward ‘strategies’ (instead of ‘chapters’) are.

I am not married, and so therefore do not have children of my own. However, I work at a school and consider my students ‘my kids’ to a large extent. I chose this book hoping to use it as a reference and aid in discovering how to better help, serve, and deal with my students’ issues and needs. Some of the tips and advice are obviously more applicable to home life and/or ones’ own children. But much of the material can also be adapted to be useful in settings and situations like my own, for adults simply wanting to be a blessing to children they spend a generous amount of time with – baby sitters, grandparents, day care workers, Sunday School teachers, school staff, etc.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books for my honest review.

Book Review: "Wings of the Wind" by Connilyn Cossette

Wings of the Wind (Out from Egypt #3)Wings of the Wind by Connilyn Cossette

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Once again, Mrs. Cossette delivers a fascinating story. Good descriptions, fast-moving scenes, and believable characters make this another thoroughly engaging book.

The author’s imagination is displayed in vivid detail through her creative writing, though the convincing evidence of thorough research is probably the most valuable point in ‘selling’ her work.

That having been said, there were a couple of negatives for me. One was the graphic and disturbing nature of some of the events described. I recognize that this period of history in this area of the world was extremely dark and demonic. However, there were scenes that it seemed could have been a little less graphically descriptive, but still gotten the point across. The second was the interweaving of some of the fictitious characters’ lives with those of actual Biblical/historical figures. This, I suppose, is just a personal preference, but there seemed to be an excessive amount of liberty taken in how the imaginary and the real people were related.

Overall, I enjoyed the second book in this set better, but, if you are interested in Biblical history, or (like me) enjoy romances between husbands and wives, this was a story worth reading.

I received a free copy from the publisher. No review, positive or otherwise, was required—all opinions are my own.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Book Review: "Tough as They Come" by SSG Travis Mills

Tough As They ComeTough As They Come by Travis Mills

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“Tough as They Come” is the inspiring story of one of only five soldiers to survive quadruple amputee injuries as a result of his service in Afghanistan. This story is another reminder of why the title “hero” is so incredibly appropriate to describe our servicemen!

Sergeant Mills writes with an openness, honesty, and humor that keeps the pages turning. Coming from a family that has several servicemen in it, I was both humbled and encouraged – Sergeant Mills’ selflessness, positive attitude, and the love and support between him and his family were wonderful to witness throughout the pages.

At one point, someone asked him, “I hear you’re doing a lot of public speaking lately. What do you have to speak about anyway, dude?!”
He replied, “Nothing really. All I do is walk into a room full of people and say, ‘Hey, everybody, snap your fingers and wiggle your toes.’ They snap and wiggle, and I say, ‘Okay, your life’s not so bad.’”
Great mix of humor and humble challenge!

Negatives: Though Sergeant Mills stated that he believes in prayer, God, right and wrong, the Bible (“at least as it pertains to helping a person live his life better”), and that “faith can help a person along in life”, I was saddened that his Faith did not seem to go much deeper than those simple acknowledgements. He mentions a verse that helped reassure and inspire him during his recovery, but the Lord was plainly working in his life in such larger ways than just through that one Bible verse! Perhaps he simply chose not to speak about his Faith in greater detail; I don’t know. I do hope and pray that he knows Jesus Christ for himself, in more than just generalities.

There were also several instances of crude or foul language.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

"Happy Home Adventures"

"Bullfrogs in the sock drawer,
drill bits with the bobby pins,
buttons, beads, and nickels
filling up the cracker tin.

Matchbox cars mixed with the matches,
dirty socks under a bed,
blobs of Play Dough fused together,
cartoon doodles of robot heads.

A kazoo and a drum on the kitchen table,
a mud-pie recipe requiring 'lots of sand',
paper mache ingredients spread out in the hallway -
a happy home has busy hands.

BBs in a mason jar,
tooth fairy findings in a Ziplock bag,
melted bar soap in a puddle,
comfy beds with springs that sag.

Mis-matched plates and silverware,
patient houseplants with braided leaves,
a human ladder made of siblings,
paper snowflakes on the winter eaves.

Muddy rain boots by the door,
a worn-out path down to the creek,
carpet rubbed in trafficked places -
a happy home has running feet.

Crickets singing with the radio,
fingernail clippers in the silverware drawer,
pebbles in pockets in the washing machine,
hand prints on the white back door.

Building blocks on the green front lawn,
a bicycle in pieces with a wrench nearby,
watercolor art draped over a clothesline
made from the string of a mended kite.

Goofy poems and Bible verses,
movie lines and midnight dreams,
related with charming sagacity -
a happy home has voices sweet.

Pencil colors and a coloring book,
on the steps of the big back porch, 
fireflies in a screen-topped jar,
books in stacks on shelves and floor.

A rake and broom against a tree
(reassurance of a fresh-kept yard),
kittens with daisies around their necks,
wallet photos mixed with UNO cards.

Swinging braids and tiny earrings,
cowboy boots and pocket knives,
a happy home is filled with learners -
baking cookies; counting by fives.

So sticky hugs and greasy kisses,
dirty hands and barefoot feet,
shining eyes and happy faces,
work to make a home complete."

- Copyright Kyrie McAlan 2016

{Note: I scribbled most of the above poem in July, right before Jaylyn and Jewel's oldest sister and her family (who had been temporarily living in The Grandparents' house after their own flooded) moved back home. With eight children, there is never a dull moment when visiting them (the photo above is the next-to-youngest son)! We loved having them so close for those months as their house was being repaired, and on the night we were up at The Grandparents' house helping them get ready to move back home, I realized just how much I was going to miss them being up there, filling the dear old house with noise and life and the silly little shenanigans that kids come up with! This is for them.}

Monday, November 21, 2016

Book Review: "The Shattered Vigil" by Patrick W. Carr

The Shattered Vigil (The Darkwater Saga, #2)The Shattered Vigil by Patrick W. Carr

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

First thing: Read the first book first. I started this book (the second in the series) without realizing how horrible it was going to be as a stand-alone. I’ve read the second book in several series and, though it would have been nice to know what happened before, those stories were able to be picked up and enjoyed without any trouble. This is not that kind of series! This second book was full of common words used in completely uncommon ways - and meaning completely different things - than usual. That’s okay, just as long as the author gives the reader his story’s definitions and usages of those words in the beginning. I can only hope that the first book explains what’s going on, and gives the reader a good sense of context.

Aside from the confusion over word usage, I found this book rather difficult reading. For starters, the print was very small. I’d much rather have a thick book with normal-sized print, than a book of ordinary thickness with a font size that you need a magnifying glass for.

Also, the story seemed to move in spurts. Either I seemed to be struggling to get through the tedium of a scene, or things were moving so fast that I could barely read quickly enough to keep up.

The ‘religious’ elements seemed very weak for the strength of the story itself. There were some thought-provoking points made, and concern was expressed in a couple of places for the spiritual well-being of some of the characters. But much of their ‘theology’ was just off, and the dangerous war-like atmosphere of the setting called for some death to happen, in which cases much of the solemnity and concern was largely passed over, and sometimes lost altogether.

Though the story was interesting and the author obviously has a great imagination (the book is a creative mix of allegory, fantasy, mystery, and sci-fi), I would only be able to say it was “okay” if someone asked me whether I would recommend it.

I received a free copy from the publisher. No review, positive or otherwise, was required—all opinions are my own.

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Thursday, November 10, 2016

Book Review: "Shadow of the Storm" by Connilyn Cossette

Shadow of the Storm (Out From Egypt, #2)Shadow of the Storm by Connilyn Cossette

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Mrs. Cossette captures her readers almost from the first page, with vivid descriptions, a quickly-moving story line, and characters that make you root for them right from the first. I appreciated the story even though I have not read the first book in this series.
Her imagination and, by all evidence, detailed research make the section of Biblical history come alive by presenting how the events may have appeared and been experienced by someone who lived through them.

The author touches many emotions and important issues - loss, betrayal, forgiveness, emotional and physical pain, joy, healing, change, trust, adoption, love, sacrifice - and presents them with a Biblical and undeniably redemptive goal. Even though this is an Old Testament setting, Mrs. Cossette points a clear picture to the future and the coming Savior. I loved how she wove Salvation symbolism in at every other turn.

I think my only real drawback (or reason I would not recommend this book to young teen-aged readers) is because of a few somewhat-graphic descriptions. The occupation of midwifery is a main part of the story, and several scenes are pretty descriptive.

Overall, if you love the Bible, enjoy history, or just like a good story, my opinion is that this is a pretty good choice.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers, in exchange for my honest review.

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