Wednesday, November 25, 2015

2015 Series Enders Reading Challenge - November Wrap Up

Time for our elevnth Monthly Wrap Up for the 2015 Series Enders Reading Challenge hosted by Sandy @ Somewhere Only We Know and Holly @ Words Fueled by Love!

Since posting the 2015 Series Enders Reading Challenge - October Wrap Up, I haven't finished any series enders. Holly finished one series ender: Sacrifice of Mercy (Cambion, # 5) by Shannon Dermott.

Which series enders did you finish? Link the up below. Don't forget to include the title, your name, & your blog name (Ex: Requiem - Sandy @ Somewhere Only We Know) Also, the November giveaway runs from November 25th - December 25th. On December 25th we will use and the linky entries to pull a winner.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Praying Woman's Devotional - Review

The Praying Woman's Devotional: Let God's Word Change Your Life

By: Stormie Omartian

Published: February 1st 2015 by Harvest House Publishers

208 pages

Genre: Religious, Christian, Spirituality, Self-Help

Source: Publisher via NetGalley (Thank you!!)

( Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository )

*Note: The above links to Amazon and Book Depository are affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--"Lord, Your Word tells of the magnificent and miraculous things You have done for people, and I know You are the same today and in the future as You were in the past. I pray You will do miraculous things in response to my prayers as well." --Stormie Omartian What inspires your personal encounters with God? Those moments when you tell Him about your needs and thank Him for all He has done for you. Those times when you praise Him for His greatness and awesome goodness. Does Scripture inspire your prayers? This collection of devotions will give you short reflections on Bible passages that will remind you of all the magnificent and miraculous things God has done. And it will help you see what God not only can do in your life, but what He can do in the world around you in response to your faith-filled prayers.

I've read and loved so many of Stormie Omartian's books. The Power of a Praying Woman is one of my all-time favorite books that has helped my spiritual relationship with God. So when I saw The Praying Woman's Devotional for review, I knew I had to jump on it. The problem is that I tend to read these kinds of books very slowly, so I'm really late getting this book read and reviewed. My bad.

I'm not sure that I have too terribly much to say about The Praying Woman's Devotional. I enjoyed it. It's packed full of short daily messages and prayers that fit a myriad of situations we women face in our lives. I didn't connect as deeply on an emotional level with this devotional as I did with The Power of a Praying Woman, but I believe that to be due to the short nature of each topic and prayer. The Power of a Praying Woman goes further into each subject than The Praying Woman's Devotional. However, The Praying Woman's Devotional is perfect for the woman who wants to quickly focus her day on a specific topic.

Like the other Stormie Omartian books I've read, there is much that I could quote here. My favorite quotes:

-Only God can cause love to grow in your heart where there is none. Only God can bring to life love that has died.

-One of the most important things about being in a spiritual family is finding power in prayer through unity. When believers are in unity, there is a dynamic that adds power to our prayers and the confidence that God will answer in power.

-When we pray, we reassert our faith that God keeps His promises. What we said out loud, or silently in our hearts, proclaims the truth of God's promises that we have read or heard in His Word.

-If we don't take control of our minds, the devil will.

-Help me to never be full of myself, but rather to always be freshly filled with more of You each day.

-As the people's holiness went, so went the state of the nation.

-We need to praise Jesus that He is our healer whether we are healed at that moment or not.

-I have found that no matter how bad I feel, when I praise God I always feel better.

-How often do we plead for God's direction and, not liking what we hear, decide to go our own way?

As always, I don't agree with 100% of what is stated within this book when it comes to what is required for salvation.Go to the Bible for more information about that. But regardless, this book holds a lot of great material for daily focusing of our thoughts. While I guess I prefer books that dive a little deeper on each topic, The Praying Woman's Devotional is a great choice for short, focused topics.The Praying Woman's Devotional gets 4 Stars from me. Have you read The Praying Woman's Devotional? What did you think? Let me know!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Whisper - Review


By: Heather Hildenbrand

Published: August 13th 2014 (first published April 17th 2012)

284 pages

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal, Mythology

Source: Publisher via NetGalley

( Goodreads | Amazon )

*Note: The above link to Amazon is an affiliate link. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--The Cherokee believe when a person dies, their soul is reborn. Life is repeated. An endless cycle of lessons to be learned, love to be found, destiny to be fulfilled. For the past six months, in every flower, every bird, I’ve imagined my parents, relieved of their human forms.

Now, after five months at the Skye View Wellness Center, it was summer. A time for parties and friends, but that’s the last thing I want to do. So when my best friend Erin convinces me to attend a bonfire at Eagle Point, I can’t handle the crowd full of sympathetic stares or drunken class clowns who would use my tragedy as a way into my heart – or my pants. The solitude of the woods offers an escape, until I stumble upon a boy, unconscious and bleeding, his pockets stuffed not with identification but with poetry illustrating the beauty of dying. I’ve seen enough death. I will not leave this boy’s side.

Even after he wakes, when the only thing he can remember are visions of events that haven’t happened yet…

Whisper is one of those books that I was hesitant about requesting. I loved the idea of the Native American, Cherokee background involved in this story. And so I thought I would give it a shot. I do have to say that I struggled to connect in the beginning to Whisper. This year's worth of reading I've found myself a bit more cynical and easily annoyed (hormones perhaps?). While I sympathize with Whisper's devastation due to the death of her parents, I also had a hard time. I've gotten a bit annoyed with the main character who has suffered a major tragedy and therefore assumes the worst of everyone around them. Every comment made toward them that they believe is out of pity. Every look. How frustrated they can be with people who don't know how to respond to their grief. Whisper understands that people are usually trying to be kind, but she still responds negatively. I know that this is actually very true to life. I know a friend who lost a child and felt this exact way. She knew people had good intentions, but their words and actions still grated on her. But this was just hard to read and grated on my nerves instead.

Once Whisper actually comes across the guy in the woods, things started to get more interesting. Of course, a potential romance is always going to pique my interest. I wanted to know who had attacked this guy, when would he get his memories back, what would happen once he did get his memories back.

The writing style overall felt like it was lacking a level of maturity. I think that comes with being a less seasoned author. This also led to a level of cheesiness and predictability. At one point in my reading life, I loved books that involved some kind of supernatural connection between characters--past lives, imprinting, etc--but I've moved past that in my reading preferences and usually just find these types of connections a bit kooky. The major conflict, the villain, the all felt extremely predictable and caused me to roll my eyes a few times--especially after the 80% mark. Plus I've come to learn that one of my biggest pet peeves is when everything is tied up in the perfect little bow at the end of the book. It's one thing to have a happily ever after, but Whisper made sure even the smallest point of conflict was addressed and tied up nice and neat in the end. This was coupled with my other biggest pet peeve where the villain threatens bodily harm to someone else and our "hero" therefore sacrifices themselves in the dumbest ways.

Some quotes to illustrate my points:

-She watched me with something resembling pity. I knew it was probably kindness, but it was so easy to confuse the two; I couldn't tell the difference anymore and both made me uncomfortable.

-My mind constantly took people's comments and twisted them into an angry pity party. Logically, I knew the comments were well-meant, but some irrational part of my brain always wanted to turn them into something else. Something darker.

-"My soul would recognize you and wake me."

I started off struggling with Whisper. Once I finally connected I began to think that the book might not be so bad. However, ultimately it fell into some pitfalls that I really can't stand. Predictable in conflict and resolution, in the end, I think Whisper gets 2.5 Stars from me. Have you read Whisper? What did you think? Let me know!

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Lies About Truth - Review

The Lies About Truth

By: Courtney C Stevens

Published: November 3rd 2015 by HarperTeen

336 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction

Source: Publisher via Edelweiss (Thank you!!)

( Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository )

*Note: The above links to Amazon and Book Depository are affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--Sadie Kingston, is a girl living in the aftermath. A year after surviving a car accident that killed her friend Trent and left her body and face scarred, she can’t move forward. The only person who seems to understand her is Trent’s brother, Max.

As Sadie begins to fall for Max, she's unsure if she is truly healed enough to be with him — even if Max is able to look at her scars and not shy away. But when the truth about the accident and subsequent events comes to light, Sadie has to decide if she can embrace the future or if she'll always be trapped in the past.

Sadie grew up with a pretty tight-knit group of friends. She, Trent, Max, Gray, and Gina. Trent and Max were the brothers that lived next door. Gray was her boyfriend for like six years. And Gina was her best friend. But a car accident that involves the entire group rips through them all leaving them scarred (literally in Sadie’s case) and incomplete (missing Trent who died in the accident). Each person handles grief differently. Max and his family move to El Salvador within a month of the accident. Sadie’s injuries and scars along with her grief cause her to shut down and withdraw. (She and Trent were particularly close friends.) And Gray and Gina are in some ways forced to seek comfort from each other since Sadie won’t open up to either of them. There are a lot of dynamics at play here. Trent and Gina broke up the day of the accident. And it seems like everyone’s carrying some burden of secret on top of the guilt and grief they all feel.

The anniversary of the accident is coming up soon and things are about to change. Sadie’s parents are forcing her back into public school in the fall. She’s pretty much been voluntarily house bound since the accident. Sadie isn’t comfortable with herself anymore or her new scars. Gray and Gina hurt her in a deep way that she still feels pretty angry about. But things can’t stay the same forever. Max, who Sadie’s been emailing with since the accident and his move to El Salvador, is coming home. She doesn’t know if their new relationship is solid and will survive being together in person or if it’s just easier to talk to someone who isn’t there. Added to that someone has been putting messages in Sadie’s mailbox that are snippets of things she’s written (not really in a journal, but for the sake of easy explanations they were written in a journal like fashion) which means that someone’s gone through her personal things. She needs to figure out who. And the list of possibilities are limited to Max, Gina, and Gray.

There’s much I want to say and discuss, but I’m really trying to keep this review spoiler free. Ultimately this book is about healing, moving forward, closure with the past, and making steps toward a new future. Sadie does a great job of recognizing that she isn’t the same person she was before the accident. And even though she knows it intellectually, her friends aren’t either. Yet even as she resents her friends for wanting her to be the old version of herself, she wants the same from them. Courtney C Stevens did a really good job managing all of the emotions that come with surviving a tragedy like this and trying to move forward. Every step was well thought out.

I will say that when it came to the secrets that each person was keeping I found myself rolling my eyes. The biggest secret was something I’d read in a previous book almost exactly and in other books to different degrees so I couldn’t help feeling like it was a big cliché. Plus you don’t have to be a reader of my blog for long to tell that I usually find myself rolling my eyes when this subject comes up, especially in the last two years since it’s such a repetitive theme in YA literature these days. When this big secret was revealed I actually debated on just not reviewing this book at all because I’m so tired of discussing it. I knew that I wanted to finish reading the book so I decided to wait on making that decision until I finished it. Obviously, I have decided to review the book and that’s because the rest of the story’s dynamics hooked me and had me so completely invested. Despite my annoyances with this piece of the puzzle, I thought The Lies About Truth was actually very well written and I found myself highlighting a good bit.

My favorite quotes:

-“I like the way you think, Kingston.” “I like the way you understand, McCall.”

-Truth gets tucked into the strangest places.

-Jealousy was fast on the take.

-“You want change, make some.”

-“Sadie, forgiveness isn’t always returning to the old thing. Sometimes forgiveness is making an entirely new thing.”

-Sometimes a small thing was bigger than a big thing.

-Choosing forgiveness takes more courage (and far less energy) than sustaining anger.

-Sometimes the journey to let someone love you is the journey to loving yourself.

The Lies About the Truth ended up being a deeper, more complex, and more enjoyable story than I imagined. Having not read anything by Courtney C Stevens prior to The Lies About the Truth, I had no idea what to expect from this book or this author. I will say that I was pleasantly surprised, and the snippet for Faking Normal that was included in the back of my ARC version has me adding it to my TBR list immediately. I didn’t like the revelation of the biggest secret (or lie) as I’m so tired of this being used as a plot device in YA literature. I almost feel like it’s an easy out. But the rest of the book was strong enough to pull me through and still be willing to give The Lies About the Truth 4 Stars. Have you read The Lies About Truth? What did you think? Let me know!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Surviving Ice - Review

Surviving Ice (Burying Water, # 4)

By: KA Tucker

Expected Publication: October 27th 2015 by Atria Books

320 pages

Genre: New Adult, Contemporary

Source: Publisher via NetGalley (Thank you!!)

( Goodreads | Amazon )

*Note: The above link to Amazon is an affiliate link. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--The USA TODAY bestselling author of the Ten Tiny Breaths series and Burying Water—which Kirkus Reviews called “a sexy, romantic, gangster-tinged page-turner”—returns with a new novel packed with romance, plot twists, and psychological suspense.

Ivy, a talented tattoo artist who spent the early part of her twenties on the move, is finally looking for a place to call home. She thinks she might have found it in San Francisco, but all that changes when she witnesses a terrible crime. She’s ready to pack up her things yet again, when a random encounter with a stranger keeps her in the city, giving her reason to stay after all.

That is, until Ivy discovers that their encounter wasn’t random. Not at all…

The Burying Water series hasn’t been as good to me as the Ten Tiny Breaths series by KA Tucker overall. Although, I did absolutely love Chasing River. Ivy has been present in more than one book in this series, but I can’t say I was particularly looking forward to her book necessarily. I mean I expected it to be good, but I guess I just don’t really relate to her aversion to commitment and stability. I can appreciate that not everyone is like me, but the more I can relate the more connected to a character I feel. I really enjoyed Ivy’s relationship with River’s brother in Chasing River. I guess it’s more realistic that her relationship with him would be temporary, but I guess I was more interested in him than I was her.

Ivy’s finally finds herself drawn to potentially settle down and call San Francisco home. Her uncle owns a tattoo shop there, and she’s been living with and working for him. Even though he was her uncle by marriage and not blood, he’s the reason why Ivy fell in love with tattooing to begin with. He sparked and cultivated her passion. And truly he’s been more like a father figure than her own even though he’s surly and often cold. As the description says, Ivy witness a horrible crime that results in her being very much alone in a place that was beginning to feel like home. And even though she’s normally tough and completely capable of taking care of herself, she finds herself jumpy and scared. Enter Sebastian.

Once a Navy SEAL who served multiple tours overseas, Sebastian now works for a private security firm that is contracted by the government to handle some jobs that the government can’t get their hands dirty in. He’s fully invested in his job as being necessary for the greater good. He might have to kill a few to save thousands…maybe even millions. And he’s okay with that. He gets a call for a new assignment…there’s an incriminating video that a young woman may or may not know anything about that could destroy the company he works for with lies. His assignment: recover the video and determine if the woman is a risk that needs to be eliminated.

Of course, feelings begin to develop and Sebastian realizes that Ivy needs his protection more than his employer does. These two develop feelings and their relationship progresses pretty quickly. It didn’t necessarily feel too quickly while I was reading the book, but looking back the timeline really only spanned a couple of days before things started heating up. There weren’t too many descriptive scenes even if the reader knows what’s going on, I appreciated the description level being kept to where it was.

It really took no time for KA Tucker to hook me into her story and have me more involved in the characters than I expected to be. While I didn’t relate to Ivy’s typical anti-commitment nature, I could connect to her love and passion for her uncle, for her art, her fear over what she witness, and of course her feelings for the handsome stranger. Sebastian had me with his struggle to do the right thing even when it meant going against someone he cared about and respected. I blew through this book and any time I was forced to put it down I was thinking about it and wanting to come back to it.

Surviving Ice is probably my second favorite book of the series. The ending felt a bit rushed to me and of course everything tied up perfectly. But I didn’t let that ruin my experience as I couldn’t quit thinking about this book when I was away from it. I connected to the characters more than I expected to, and I enjoyed how the pieces of the puzzle ended up fitting together. Surviving Ice gets 4 Stars. Have you read Surviving Ice? What did you think? Let me know!