Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Book Review: The Oaks Remain by Julia J Gibbs

About the Book: 
In a world divided by blood and race, Veralee Harper comes of age under the guardian oaks of her family’s isolated plantation in southern Alabama. Red Oaks stands frozen in time, a haven for Simulacrum people for generations, against the chaotic world of the Friguscor. Life quickly unravels when her own split second decision breaks the Simulacrum law she is bound to keep. The blood moons have begun, the watchers have returned and war with the cold-hearts, the Friguscor seems inevitable. As she struggles to reconcile deep love for her family and loyalty to her people with the reality she is coming to know and the love she finds for a mysterious man, she realizes she is marked by more than the tseeyen on her arm. Many have a plan for Veralee Harper, but only she can decide which way it will end.

My Thoughts: Books that fall under the fantasy category, even if only just barely, do not generally interest me.  This book, however, thoroughly captivated me.

The author writes with such stunning detail that you can picture yourself within the pages.  At times her writing style can only be described as beautifully poetic, far different than the "dumbed down" style we're used to hearing spoken in our modern society, yet it does not seem out of place.

You can read this book somewhat superficially if you are so inclined, but any sort of in-depth reading at all will have you pondering all sorts of questions.  What is my purpose? Who am I? How do my life choices affect the lives of those around me?  Is the law to be followed blindly or interpreted through circumstance? Should there ever be exceptions to the law? Do our motives matter?  Do the ends justify the means?

People are separated into two different races - Simulacrum and Friguscor.  The differences between the two are internal at the core, yet manifest outwardly as well.  The blood of the Simulacrum protects them, causing them to age slowly and heal quickly.  The cold hearted Friguscor begin dying and decaying immediately after birth.  Though they live and work side by side, the Simulacrum try to limit their contact with the Friguscor for safety reasons.  The Friguscor can sense the sweet smell of the Simulacrum, and once they've gained a taste of their blood, they have an insatiable hunger for more and are capable of inflicting monstrous atrocities in order to obtain it.  Veralee begins to question the long-standing rules and traditions of the Simulacrum and questions whether it is possible for the Friguscor to be saved.  And if it's possible, is it worth the risk?  

The book clearly wrestles with themes contained in the Bible - the differences between Jews and Gentiles of the OT; the Jews' struggle to decide who Jesus was; the tendency of many to blindly cling to law over grace; the offering of a perfect life in order to take the punishment of the guilty; the power of the blood of Jesus; and the reality of eternity. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can't wait for Book 2 in this series!

I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.   Thanks Julia! 

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Celebrate the Whit Award with Adventures in Odyssey


Most people can think of one or two figures whose love and life example had a great impact on the formation of their spiritual foundation. It might be a coach, a Sunday school teacher or a parent or grandparent. Whatever the role, it’s hard to put a value on the investment these people make on a daily basis. In an effort to bring honor to these countless, quiet heroes, Adventures in Odyssey announces the John Avery Whitaker Award. Named after Odyssey’s resident leader and the namesake of Odyssey’s most famous attraction, Whit’s End, the award will be bestowed annually on one deserving mentor.

Like the Adventures in Odyssey character John Avery Whitaker, or “Whit” as he’s known by fans of the show, the person should be someone who is passionate about innovatively teaching children the truths expressed in the Bible. Those who create Adventures in Odyssey know that while Whit might be a fictitious character, there are thousands of real people just like him. “Our hope is that by bringing those people into the light, others will be inspired to follow their example,” says Dave Arnold, the executive producer of Adventures in Odyssey. “If we can spur mature believers in Christ to mentor and influence a generation being barraged with messages of compromise, we can turn the tide and encourage revival in our youth.”

Nominations are being accepted now through October 31 for the “Whits” out there in the world. Beginning on November 1, one nominee will be selected daily and awarded with a prize package including Adventures in Odyssey's latest album, Taking the Plunge, and a DVD of the movie Beyond the Mask. One grand prize winner will be chosen and announced on November 20. This worthy recipient will receive more than $500 worth of Focus on the Family resources, including an Odyssey Adventure Club (OAC) membership. The OAC offers 24/7, on-the-go access to more than 800 episodes of Adventures in Odyssey, as well as a new, members-only episode every month. It is a safe, fun environment where the whole family can explore, create and imagine, all while learning biblical truth.
Nominations can be submitted via this form, or the information can be emailed to (See the Official Rules for all the details.)
To learn more about the John Avery Whitaker Award, visit Discover the Odyssey Adventure Club at or on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Book Review: Counting on a Cowboy by Debra Clopton

About the book:
After losing everything she held dear, Abby never wants to love again. But a certain cowboy may just spur her to wonder if love might be worth the risk.

Running from a past that haunts her, Abby Knightly is drawn to the cozy town of Wishing Springs, Texas. Maybe this small town could offer hope and healing and a future for Abby . . . if she's brave enough to reach out and take it by the reins.

Bo Monahan isn't interested in the new romantic destination his little town has become---or the women who might be looking at him like he's their next Mr. Right. Between taking care of his Pops and his growing stirrup business, he isn't looking for serious romantic commitments. But when the infant son he never knew about shows up at his doorstep, his world is turned upside down.

This confirmed bachelor might not think he needs a wife, but he sure needs help. Even Abby can see that, and despite her best efforts to keep her distance, she can't help but be drawn to this new father-son duo. As Abby throws herself into helping Bo navigate fatherhood, hope sparks between them, revealing that maybe, just maybe, they can navigate their dark pasts and emerge together into a future as bright as the Texas sun itself.

Purchase a copy:

My Thoughts:  After reading, reviewing, and loving Book 1 of this series I was really looking forward to reading this one.  I wouldn't say I was disappointed in the book, but I did like the first book better than the second.

That being said, Clopton knows how to make a town and it's people come to life.  My favourite characters are probably Pops and Pebble, but the author does a great job of getting you to be invested in all of them.

I was, however, disappointed in how some of the topics were handled, particularly since this is a Christian novel.  I thought the themes of sin and forgiveness could've been fleshed out a lot more and that it was missing some solid doctrine.  When topics like that are brought up but then not dealt with from a Christian standpoint, it makes you wonder what the point is.

That said, it was a quick and easy read, and I'm hoping for more from Book 3.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with my complimentary review copy.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Book Review: Irish Meadows by Susan Anne Mason

About the Book: Faced with an uncertain future, sometimes all you have left is the courage to dream.

Brianna and Colleen O'Leary know their Irish immigrant father expects them to marry well. Recently he's put even more pressure on them, insinuating that the very future of their Long Island horse farm, Irish Meadows, rests in their ability to land prosperous husbands. Both girls, however, have different visions for their futures.

Brianna, a quiet girl with a quick mind, dreams of attending college. Vivacious Colleen, meanwhile, is happy to marry---as long as her father's choice meets her exacting standards of the ideal groom. When former stable hand Gilbert Whelan returns from business school and distant relative Rylan Montgomery visits Long Island during his seminary training, the two men
quickly complicate everyone's plans.

As the farm slips ever closer to ruin, James O'Leary grows more desperate. It will take every ounce of courage for both sisters to avoid being pawns in their father's machinations and instead follow their hearts. And even if they do, will they inevitably find their dreams too distant to reach?

Purchase a copy:

My Thoughts:  I loved the cover of this book, but I was a bit disappointed in the content.

There were things I loved about the book and things I didn't.  I loved the setting and how it was portrayed, but wish the storyline revolved more around the horse farm and the family possibly losing it, instead of just the romance.  The romance between Gilbert and Brianna never really seems natural, and I enjoyed watching the relationship between Rylan and Colleen develop more than Gil & Bree.

I don't believe every Christian fiction novel needs to contain the salvation message, but when it does come up it needs to be accurate, and this one wasn't.  It does talk about turning to God, but doesn't mention Jesus or His sacrifice for our sins, but rather talks about confessing to a priest.  Confession is good for the soul, but absolution can only come through Christ, not a priest.

I also didn't like the focus on following your heart vs your duty.  As the Bible says, the heart is deceitful, and we are much better off following Scripture than following our feelings.

Overall, I wanted to like this book more than I did, but it fell a little short.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with my complimentary review copy.


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