Saturday, November 21, 2015

Children's Book Review: It's Not About Your Mrs. Turkey

Title: It's Not About You Mrs. Turkey

Author: Soraya Diase Coffelt

Illustrated by: Tea Seroya

Genre: Christian Children's Picture Book

Why I Read This Book: I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influenced my review.

About the Book (from Goodreads):  

Thanksgiving is a celebration of bountiful harvest, but more than just great food, the true meaning of Thanksgiving goes deep into the roots of family, friends, trust, hope in times of hardship and much more. 

This delightfully illustrated children's story is sure to become a tradition for you and your family. It will be a helpful tool as parents, grandparents, and teachers instruct their children on the important historical background behind this holiday and to reflect on the importance of family, friends and a thankful heart.


What is Thanksgiving truly about and what does it mean to you? It's Not About You, Mrs. Turkey is a charming and beautifully illustrated children's picture book about the history and true meaning of Thanksgiving. It highlights the pilgrim's voyage to the New World and gives just enough details of their history to keep young children entertained.

It's Not About You Mrs. Turkey is in the same series of books as It's Not About You, Mr. Pumpkin (that I previously reviewed here). Both of these books have fun, beautiful illustrations and rich text that would keep children entertained through multiple readings. I can imagine myself begging my Mom or Dad to read this book to me all throughout the year, not just through the holidays.  I will also be reviewing another book in this series soon: It's Not About You, Mr. Santa after Thanksgiving. I am already int he Christmas mood (I may have put my tree up already...) and I cannot wait to review this final book that the author has generously given me for review.

As an additional bonus to the books in this series, all the proceeds from this series of books (The Love Letters Book Series) goes to a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to helping children, As the Stars of the Sky Foundation, Inc

Final Statements

Recommended Reading Age: 4-10 years

Overall Rating: 4/5

Purchase Link

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Life is Beautiful: How a Lost Girl Became a True, Confident Child of God

Title: Life is Beautiful: How a Lost Girl Became a True, Confident Child of God

Author: Sarah M. Johnson

Genre: Christian Memoir

Date Published: August 25, 2015

Why I Read This Book: I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influenced my review.






About the Book (from Goodreads):  

Life is Beautiful: How a Lost Girl Became a True, Confident Child of God takes you on a full journey of trauma, loss, and finally resilience. While on a mission’s trip in Guatemala, a small Cessna Caravan’s engine blows while carrying fourteen passengers. Unfortunately, the Cessna crashes in a remote village, leaving eleven of the fourteen passengers dead. One passenger, Sarah, shares her story in “Life is Beautiful”, about the deaths of her father and brother; her mother’s extreme physical and emotional injuries, and Sarah’s self-discovery to accept this new life.

Life is Beautiful, however, is more than a story about an airplane crash. Life is Beautiful shares the personal struggles of Sarah’s father’s drug use, his recovery, and redemption to be a better person. He gives back by doing missions work in Africa, takes in Sarah’s aunt dying of uterine cancer, and eventually leads their family to the mountains of Guatemala. Sarah also discusses her struggles with alcohol use and depression; where she eventually hits rock bottom. It is not until she starts seeking God through prayer, books, and therapy, where she starts to turn her life around.

Life is Beautiful is not only a unique story, but it shows the strength of God’s Will. When all hope is lost, she never gives up on God. This story is a true testimony of God’s love for His people, and when one seeks a spiritual journey and connection with God; He gives back in love, forgiveness, and happiness.


Life is Beautiful shares Sarah's journey through a plane crash that killed most of her family and left her Mom seriously injured.  Sarah is left emotionally stricken and unable to cope after the incident and struggles to recover. She hopes that alcohol will cure her depression, but it only makes it worse. Life is Beautiful shows God's healing power and the true way of coping with difficult situations.

Although I did enjoy most of Life is Beautiful, I felt the story was slow moving and sometimes depressing. The overall message of the memoir was uplifting and filled with hope, but the path to get to this point of hope was often very heart-wrenching.

I would recommend Life is Beautiful to anyone looking for a great redemptive story with an ending filled with hope.

Final Statements

Recommended Reading Age: 13+ for some intense scenes

Overall Rating: 3/5

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Book Review: Drawing Fire by Janice Cantore

Title: Drawing Fire

Author: Janice Cantore

Genre: Christian Crime Fiction

Why I Read This Book: I received this book from the publisher (Tyndale House) in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influenced my review.






About the First Book-Leaving (from Goodreads):  

One case from her past defines homicide detective Abby Hart.With a possible serial killer stalking elderly women in Long Beach, California, Abby's best lead is Luke Murphy, an irritating private investigator who saw a suspect flee the scene of the latest homicide. When Abby discovers that the most recent victim is related to the governor, she's anxious to talk to him about a cold case that's personal to her--one Luke is interested in as well.As she learns more about the restaurant fire that took her parents' lives years ago, Abby discovers why Luke is so invested in finding the ones responsible. The more they uncover, though, the more questions they have. Can Abby find peace without having all the answers?


Filled with action, adventure, and Christian principles, Drawing Fire tells the story of Abby Hart, a homicide detective for Long Beach, California. Although Abby is solving recent homicides, her true desire is to solve one that occurred years ago and led to the death of her parents.

Drawing Fire was full of entertainment, excitement, and plot twists. I loved all the characters and their development throughout the novel. The plot was interesting, although somewhat predictable. I cannot wait to read the next installment in the series. I would recommend this to anyone who is a fan of fast-paced crime novels.

Final Statements

Recommended Reading Age: 13+ for some intense scenes

Overall Rating: 5/5

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Series Review: The Bailey Flanigan Series by Karen Kingsbury

Series Title: The Bailey Flannigan Series (Books 1-4)

Author: Karen Kingsbury

Genre: Christian Fiction






About the First Book-Leaving (from Goodreads):  

The Bailey Flanigan series begins with Bailey leaving Bloomington for the adventure of a lifetime. She has won an audition for the ensemble of a Broadway musical in New York City. She's determined to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but is she really ready to leave family and friends for the loneliness of the city? And what of Cody? His disappearance has her worried about their future and praying that their love can survive. In order to be closer to his mother in jail, Cody takes a coaching job in a small community outside Indianapolis. New friends, distance, and circumstances expose cracks in his relationship with Bailey Flanigan. Love, loneliness, big opportunities, and even bigger decisions highlight the first book in the new Bailey Flanigan series that features members of the popular Baxter family and finally completes the Bailey Flanigan/Cody Coleman story."


Filled with inspiration and with the feel of a typical YA book, Kingsbury writes of a love triangle with many bumps and bruises along the way. She illustrates that God is always with us even in the toughest of situations.

I have loved the writing style of every Kingsbury novel that I have read. She knows how to give just the right amount of detail without boring the reader.

The only disappointment that I had in the series is that I felt like Kingsbury was setting up one ending for the series and things did not happen as I thought they would.

Final Statements

Recommended Reading Age: 13+ for some intense scenes

Overall Rating: 3.75/5

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Children's Book Review Tuesdays: It's Not About You, Mr. Pumpkin by Soraya Diase Coffelt

Title: It's Not About You, Mr. Pumpkin

Author: Soraya Diase Coffelt

Illustrator: Tea Seroya

Publish Date: 2015

Genre: Children's Picture Book

Why I Read this Book: I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influenced my review.




About the Book (from Goodreads):  

Halloween has become one of the most popular and commercially profitable holidays in America, yet the true origin of the day is often missed. Almost everyone equates "trick or treat" with Halloween, but what events were the catalyst behind this centuries-old tradition? 

This delightfully illustrated children's story is sure to become a tradition for you and your family as October rolls around each year. It will be a helpful tool to instruct children on the important historical background behind this holiday and to reflect on what is most important.


It's that time of the year again when parent's are making their last minute changes to their children's Halloween costumes and others are rounding up those delicious candies to hand out. During all this craziness, why don't you sit down and enjoy some quiet time (or maybe not so quiet time) reading with your children? If this sounds like a plan for you, you may want to pick up this delightful book: It's Not About You, Mr. Pumpkin.

It's Not About You, Mr. Pumpkin is a cute story that explains the origins of Halloween. The illustrations are perfect for young children and the writing is easy to understand. I appreciate the Christian perspective that is behind these series of books. I also love that all the proceeds from this series of books (The Love Letters Book Series) goes to a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to helping children, As the Stars of the Sky Foundation, Inc. 

Final Statements

Recommended Reading Age: 4-10
Overall Rating: 5/5

Purchase Links

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Novella Review: The Pastor's Daughter by T.K. Ware (Christian Adult Fiction)

Title: The Pastor's Daughter

Author: T.K. Ware

Publish Date: September 17, 2015

Genre: Christian Adult Fiction

Why I Read this Book: I received this novella from the author in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influenced my review of this novella.



About the Book (from Goodreads):  

Ebony had a secret ...

An ill-advised relationship with a married man in the church sent Ebony down a path of regret, which led to an unplanned pregnancy. When the pressure of being the pastor's daughter and carrying a married man's child weighs upon her, emotions flare. Shortly afterwards, she threatens to publicize the entire affair, deciding to bear the consequences of the matter. Once her emotions settled, she saw from a different light.

But the unexpected happens ...

Because of shame and unprecedented conviction, Ebony is forced to confess as she battles with thoughts of betrayal to God, the church, and herself.


The Pastor's Daughter is a novella (about 50 pages) about a pastor's daughter who had a relationship with a married man and became pregnant. I like this book because it tackles an issue that is not dealt with much in the church: fornification. Although many churches rightly advise against sex outside of marriage, they do not talk much about what should happen if someone is found guilty of such a sin.

The writing style of the novella did not grasp me as much as I wanted it to, but that can be a difficult task in such a small novella. Ware shows incredible promise of becoming a wonderful inspirational writer.

Final Statements

Recommended Reading Age: 16+ for sexual references

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Hour 6 Mini-Challenge: Top Ten List

Button made by:
It's hour six. You are already 1/4 of the way finished with the read-a-thon! Way to go! Keep it up! If you are just now starting, that's great too! 

It's time to take a break with a little mini-challenge, David Letterman style. It's time to make your top 10 list of something that has to do with the read-a-thon. Awesome idea right? Well, it's not totally mine. I have to give credit to a 2008 mini-challenge host, jillora (@JilleeBeene). I asked around the Twitter-sphere about your favorite mini-challenges from previous years and this one came up. I loved the idea and decided to bring back this amazing mini-challenge. The original challenge can be found here.

As a thanks for being awesome (you know you are), I am also having a giveaway where you will have a chance to win your choice of either a 15 USD Amazon gift card OR a book from Book Depository for 15 USD or less. To enter the giveaway, post your Top Ten list in the comments and leave a way for me to contact you if you win (email, Twitter, Goodreads, ect.). I will then use a random number generator to determine the winner.

So without further ado, here is my Top 10 list.

Top 10 Ways to Enjoy Dewey's Readathon

10. Talk on Twitter. I'm sure you will find a new friend or two and maybe even get a book recommendation. Don't we all need more books on our TBR piles?

9. Eat lots of snacks. This can be a cheat day. Calories don't count on read-a-thon days, right?

8. Do mini-challenges :)

7.  Stay hydrated. Sleepiness will come if you don't get plenty of fluids.

6. Take naps. You will remember more of what you have read and enjoy yourself more if you aren't totally sleep deprived.

5. Cheer for others. Even if you aren't registered as a cheerleader, we usually have a few rogue ones around #TeamRogue

4. Take a break to play with your kitty [may not apply to everyone, but definitely applies to me :) ]

3. Read with your kids. Involve them in the read-a-thon as well.

2. Read, read, read

1. Don't stress about how much you haven't read. Just have fun!

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon: Update Post (October 2015)

Hello everyone! It's that time of year again; Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon is starting now. If you follow me on twitter (@blog_gal) you know that I'm super excited about this read-a-thon, as always. This go around, I am going catch up on some of the books that I have received for review. I have a variety of genres, mostly within Christian fiction, to read. I have both hard copies and a few ebooks.

Before the readathon, I have read 153 pages of Drawing Fire by Janice Cantore. I received this book from the publisher (Tyndale Fiction) for review and I am loving it! It is a Christian crime novel with the main character being a female Cold Case cop. I am going to start with reading this one.

Mostly, I will be putting my updates on Twitter, but occasionally, I will come back here for a Mini Challenge and also update my reading status.

Are you joining in on the readathon fun? What does your TBR look like?

Opening Meme

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
Georgia, USA

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

Drawing Fire by Janice Cantore

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

My husband is making a Riesling Gelee with Raspberry Conserve :)

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

I love to read (obviously). I am currently a forensic DNA analyst, but I am looking to change to a genetic counselor. I currently have an internship doing research in forensic DNA at an army base.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?
Something I'm doing different is that I had little to no planning for this readathon. My TBR is the books that I have received for review. I just wrote this post this morning. I haven't updated the Excel file for this readathon that I usually use to track my reading progress. I'm a slacker, but that's okay :)

Mini Challenges
Hour 2
For hour two, we had to post a picture of a book cover we would want to escape to. Here is mine:
A photo posted by Jessica Bradley Barnes (@blog_gal) on
Hour 6

I hosted a challenge this hour. You can find it here. 

I also participated in the Power of Love minichallege. Here is my entry:

Mid-Event Survey

1. What are you reading right now?
Life is Beautiful by Sarah M. Johnson

2. How many books have you read so far?
I have finished a book I started before the readathon (Drawing Fire by Janice Cantore), read 73 pages of Life is Beautiful, and I read a children's picture book (The Ride by Kayla Davidson).

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?
All of them :)

4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?
Yes, but mainly it's because I needed to take a break.

5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?
Nothing :)

Reading Progress

  • 239 pages of Drawing Fire by Janice Cantore- Finished
  • 112 pages of Life is Beautiful by Sarah M. Johnson
  • The Ride by Kayla Davidson (A Children's Picture Book) - Finished
  • 52 pages of The Pastor's Daughter by T.K. Ware- Finished

    Saturday, October 10, 2015

    Novella Review: An October Bride

    Title: An October Bride

    Author: Katie Ganshert

    Publish Date: September 23, 2013

    Genre: Christian Fiction Novella

    Why I Read this Book: I love this novella series. I picked up the Audibook version of this novella from my local library.






    About the Book (from Goodreads):  

    A year's worth of novellas from twelve inspirational romance authors. Happily ever after guaranteed.
    She wants to make her father's dream come true. She doesn't realize her own dream has been in front of her the whole time.
    Emma Tate isn't a risk taker, so everyone in her small Midwest town is surprised when she suddenly becomes engaged to lifelong friend Jake Sawyer. No one but Jake and Emma know the true reason they're getting married---so Emma's dying father can walk her down the aisle.
    While Jake and Emma plan an autumn wedding together, it becomes clear that their agreement has a few complications---the biggest being their true feelings for each other.
    In this novella by award-winning author Katie Ganshert, a young woman must reconcile her dying father's dreams with her own dreams for love and for her future.


    I absolutely love this novella series. Emma and Jake enter into an engagement for all the wrong reasons. Emma hopes to please her Dad by letting him walk her down the aisle before he passes away. Emma and Jake plan a fake wedding, never intending to sign the marriage license, but then God has other plans.

    This story is cute, romantic, and full of humor. I loved every moment of this novella. I would recommend this book to anyone that loves Christian fiction and isn't afraid of a really cheesy love story.

    Final Statements

    Recommended Reading Age: Any

    Overall Rating: 4/5

    Saturday, September 12, 2015

    Book Review: The Shack [MILD SPOILERS!!]

    Title: The Shack

    Author: Wm. Paul Young

    Publish Date: July 1, 2001

    Genre: Christian Fiction

    Why I Read this Book: I have wanted to read this book for a while now. Many people had told me that I should read it. I listened to the audiobook version that I bought at my local Goodwill.






    About the Book (from Goodreads):  

    Mackenzie Allen Philips' youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation, and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his "Great Sadness," Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend.

    Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack's world forever.

    In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant The Shack wrestles with the timeless question, "Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?" The answers Mack gets will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him. You'll want everyone you know to read this book!


    Looking at other reviews of The Shack on book retail sites and Goodreads, I clearly see the impact that this book has had on many people. The Shack has changed peoples lives, but it did not do this for me.

    It took me a while to gather my thoughts about this book. The beginning was incredibly engaging and interesting; I did not want to stop listening to it. The engaging plot had me wanting more of this narrative, but this is not what I found. As the book progressed, I felt like it was more of a preaching than a narrative.

    Much of the novel is spent with Mac talking to God. Each of the trinity is physically present and attempting to change the way that Mac thinks about the world. Mac is depressed. He has lost his daughter to a murderer. His family seems to be falling apart. As the Trinity speak to Mac, They comfort him and he begins to draw closer to Them. I really enjoyed this aspect of the book. God loves us as we are. We do not have to change before we come to God; He changes us when we are willing to accept His love and all that He has sacrificed for us. I love this aspect of the novel, but there are certain things that the Trinity speaks about in The Shack that do not necessarily line up with the Bible.

    One of the main things that I do not believe lines up with the Bible is when the author talks about how there should not be a hierarchy in family, in politics, or between us and God. The Bible says that God establishes kings (Daniel 2:21) and states that the husband is the head of the household just as Jesus is the head of the church body (Ephesians 5:23).

    Even though I do not agree with all of the theology that the book presents, I do believe in the heart of the book: God loves us and wants us to know him intimately.

    I want to end this review with an excerpt from 1 John 3:1:

    See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!

    Final Statements

    Recommended Reading Age: 13+ due to difficult themes (such as a missing child and murder)

    Overall Rating: 3/5

    Saturday, August 29, 2015

    Book Review: Courageous by Randy Alcorn (Based on the Screenplay by the Kendrick Brothers)

    Title: Courageous

    Author: Randy Alcorn, based off the screenplay of Alex Kendrick and Stephan Kendrick

    Publish Date: August 1, 2011

    Genre: Christian Fiction

    Why I Read this Book: I have wanted to read this book since I saw the movie a few years ago. I read the audiobook version of this book that I found at my local library.






    About the Book (from Goodreads):  

    From the creators of "Fireproof" comes an inspiring new story about everyday heroes who long to be the kinds of dads that make a lifelong impact on their children. As law enforcement officers, Adam Mitchell, Nathan Hayes, and their partners willingly stand up to the worst the world can offer. Yet at the end of the day, they face a challenge that none of them are truly prepared to tackle: fatherhood. While they consistently give their best on the job, good enough seems to be all they can muster as dads. But they're quickly discovering that their standard is missing the mark. They know that God desires to turn the hearts of fathers to their children, but their children are beginning to drift farther and farther away from them. Will they be able to find a way to serve and protect those who are most dear to them? When tragedy hits home, these men are left wrestling with their hopes, their fears, their faith, and their fathering. Can a newfound urgency help these dads draw closer to God . . . and to their children?


    Adam Mitchell and his law enforcement partners constantly face the challenge of being Godly fathers. They seek to find a way to protect those that are closest to themselves. Courageous is all about striving to be all that God wants us to be.

    I watched the movie Courageous a few years ago and fell in love with the way the screenplay writers mixed comedy with a very serious topic: fatherhood and being what God wants you to be. At the end of the Audiobook version, there is an interview with the author of the book, Randy Alcorn. In the interview he discussed how he struggled to create a full length novel out of only a few hours of screenplay. I believe one of the most amazing aspects of this book is the additional content that Alcorn provides. There are many additional or lengthened scenes that stay true to the original feel of the movie. He adds much more laughter, many more heartfelt moments and keeps the overall message just as hard hitting.

    I would recommend this book to anyone who needs encouragement, laughter, or a good crying session.

    Final Statements

    Recommended Reading Age: Any
    Overall Rating: 5/5

    Monday, August 24, 2015

    Update Post: Internship and Moving

     Hello everybody! I apologize for not posting in a while. Hopefully I will get back to a regular reviewing schedule soon!

    At the beginning of July, I started a paid internship doing research for my Master's degree. I had to move to an adjoining state for this internship and had to live with my parents for about a month before I could find my own place. During that time, I was working 8 hours a day and commuting anywhere between 3 and 5 hours a day, depending on traffic. Luckily, I have now moved into a lovely 2 bedroom apartment with my husband and things are settling down a bit.

    I hope to post reviews again soon. I have read/listened to several audiobooks during my commute times and I cannot wait to share my ideas on those wonderful books with you! Here are some of the reviews that you can look forward to:

    • Courageous by Randy Alcorn
    • A March Bride (A Year of Weddings, Novella 4) by Rachel Hauck
    • A June Bride (A Year of Weddings, Novella 7) by Marybeth Whalen 
    • A July Bride by Beth Wiseman
    • The Summer Before Boys by Nora Raleigh Baskin
    • Finally (Willow Falls, Book 2) by Wendy Mass

    Tuesday, July 7, 2015

    Release Day Book Review: The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

    Title: The Fixer

    Series: The Fixer (Book 1)

    Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes

    Publish Date: July 7, 2015

    Genre: Young Adult Thriller

    Why I Read this Book: I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influenced my review of this novel.






    About the Book (from Goodreads):  

    When sixteen-year-old Tess Kendrick is sent to live with her older sister, Ivy, she has no idea that the infamous Ivy Kendrick is Washington D.C.'s #1 “fixer,” known for making politicians' scandals go away for a price. No sooner does Tess enroll at Hardwicke Academy than she unwittingly follows in her sister's footsteps and becomes D.C.'s premier high school fixer, solving problems for elite teens.

    Secrets pile up as each sister lives a double life. . . . until their worlds come crashing together and Tess finds herself in the middle of a conspiracy with one of her classmates and a client of Ivy's. Suddenly, there is much more on the line than good grades, money, or politics, and the price for this fix might be more than Tess is willing to pay.

    Perfect for fans of Pretty Little Liars and Heist Society, readers will be clamoring for more in this exciting new series.


    Full of action and suspense, Jennifer Lynn Barnes latest thriller, The Fixer, does not cease to amaze. I had previously read another novel by Barnes (The Naturals) and I loved it! (You can find my review here. So naturally (pun intended), as soon as I saw Barnes' latest novel on Netgalley I decided to pick it up.

    In The Fixer, Tess Kendrick moves in with her sister and some big changes happen in her life. She goes from a teen in a small town skipping classes to take care of her grandfather with Alzheimer's disease to being invited to dinner by the first lady.

    This action packed thriller had many twists and turns. The dynamics between the characters was what really got me hooked. I enjoyed the character development and the high-action plot. I loved every minute of The Fixer and would recommend this book to anyone looking for action and suspense.

    Final Statements

    Recommended Reading Age: Any

    Overall Rating: 4.5/5