Book Review: My Soul To Keep

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I learned to be happy with the small triumph of a good day. –pg 44

My brother took one look at the front cover of this book and decided it must fit into the sappy category of novels. While it did remind me of Kingsbury’s Firstborn Series in a lot of ways, it wasn’t the sappy sort of love story you’d expect from a novel about a down-and-out movie star cautiously re-entering the world of film. Bunn chose to focus on the nuts and bolts of movie making, the cutthroat world of Hollywood, and the personal journey of people learning to trust God with the scars from their pasts.

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Author Interview: Sandra Orchard

Remember I promised you a cool interview with Sandra Orchard? Here it is! Sandra was kind enough to follow through with this interview even though she was on her way to be with her grandson who had an extremely serious accident. (Check out her Facebook page to learn how to pray for little Jed.)

If you missed my review of Sandra’s novel, A Fool and His Monet, check it out now! 🙂

Sandra Orchard Banner

If I was going to write a mystery, the art crime specialty division wouldn’t be the first thing I reached for! What made you aware of/interested in writing about it?

I read a newspaper article about the detective who founded Montreal’s art crime unit, which led me to research the FBI’s Art Crime Team and read the biography of its founder. I sensed immediately there was lots of fodder for potential mysteries. I’ve even read a couple of biographies and blogs of (former) art thieves.

What’s your favorite thing about museum-quality art and why?

The sense of stepping back in time and experiencing a different era or ethos.

What non-fiction (or fiction!) book(s) would you recommend to someone who wants to learn more?

Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World’s Stolen Treasures 
by Robert K Wittman.

There are many others, but that is a good place to start.

If Serena time-traveled to the civil war, what role do you think she’d play in the war?

Hmm, she’d probably be a spy or scout.

What else would you like readers to know about yourself and your Serena Jones books?

My next Serena Jones novel, Another Day, Another Dali, is dedicated to my grandson Jed who inspired a character in the book. That dedication was written long before the tragic accident that recently left him struggling for survival. Prayers for his recovery would be greatly appreciated. The novel releases in October.

A great big ‘thank you’ to Sandra for being here today. I’m going to have to check out that book she recommended! What about you? Do you enjoy art? Does the idea of being an art crime detective intrigue you?

Book Review: A Fool and His Monet

Fool and His Monet, ASpecial Agent Serena Jones is trying to calm her jittery nerves following a painting recovery when she receives a panicked call from her best friend. Two valuable paintings are missing from the storage vault at the museum her friend works for. Serena dives headfirst into the mystery. Getting the paintings back to the museum turns out to be a tall order. The trail is months cold, and Serena has big distractions–like a stalker who might be trying to take her out and a slew of guys trying to impress her.

I purchased this book on a whim. Usually I dismiss anything art related, but I recently spent a week going to museums with a friend of mine who loves art. After several days of geek outs over Degas, Monet, and Van Gogh, I couldn’t help but noticed this book at a local homeschool conference. It took me a chapter or two to orient myself when I started reading. I don’t read a ton of mysteries, and at first I wasn’t sure what to make of Serena’s quirky commentary on life. Turns out, it’s Serena’s unique perspectives that make this story delightful. She’s tough without loosing her femininity, observant, and delightfully clueless about guys.

If you enjoy lighthearted, quirky, fast-paced mysteries, this is a no-brainer for your to-read list.

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One of the galleries at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art

Stay tuned for an interview with author Sandra Orchard.

P.S. Please take time to pray for Sandra’s grandson who had a bad accident and is fighting for his life.

Book Review: The Mystery of the Indian Carvings

Mystery of the Indian CarvingsYoung Julie is troubled by her mother’s death and her dislike for her new stepmother, who doesn’t want Julie around for the summer. Instead, Julie is being sent to live on an island with relatives she doesn’t know. To make matters worse, her first weeks don’t go well. Her uncle rarely shows his face, her aunt is plagued by anxiety, and her cousin seems to hate her. Julie begins to think her time on the island will be short lived.

I thoroughly enjoyed taking a step back from the intense, emotionally wringing tales of young adult, new adult, and adult fiction to enjoy the simple clarity of this middle grade story. The Mystery of the Indian Carvings is fast paced and perfect for it’s target audience. Tween readers will get a thrill of adventure and solid lessons about trusting God, just like I did when I read Repp’s Mik-Shrok series as a tween.

If you have younger siblings or are the parent of readers age 8-13, this is a great book to share with them.

Book Review: Rise of the Fallen

Rise of the Fallen

Remember the face of evil, my brothers, and never forget the price the righteous will pay because if it.

Two years ago, my brother and I met Chuck Black at a homeschool conference. We were thrilled when he told us he was working on a new series. When the first book, Cloak of the Light, released, we pounced on it. It turned out to be a totally unique story delving into the world of spiritual warfare. My brother describes it as “Spiderman meets Frank Peretti.” It’s an apt description, and Rise of the Fallen is no less unique.

Instead of continuing the tale begun in Cloak of the Light in a chronological manner, Rise of the Fallen switches point-of-view-characters and jumps back in time. We now get to view Drew’s story (and the history of the world) from the perspective of the angel assigned to protect Drew.

While Chuck Black’s writing style/technique is not nearly as polished as some other writers, he’s a superb story teller who knows how to weave Truth into his narrative with rare power. I put the book down not just with the satisfied feeling of finishing a good book, but also with a renewed appreciation of certain Bible events and an inward challenge to improve my prayer life. I love it when fictional books leave me feeling challenged but not hit over the head with a sledgehammer by the author’s “message.”

That said, some readers may be annoyed by the construction of this book. Chapters alternate between past and present. The “past” chapters work their way through Bible history, and are relatively basic in their narration. It didn’t bother me because I found it fascinating to “see” the events through such a unique perspective, but I think some might find it boring.

This is a book I feel very safe recommending to all readers old enough to handle intense battles where deaths are not glossed over. Readers sensitive to such things should be forewarned that there are two brief but heartbreaking scenes depicting the slaughter of the children of Jerusalem following Jesus’ birth and the death of a mother and child in the Sobibor concentration camp.

Rise of the Fallen kept me up till 1am to finish the book, and I can’t wait to read book three!

Free Book Alert

On a different subject, homeschooled author Sarah Holman is offering her short story, Cinderella retelling free on Kindle today (and for the next few days). Waltz into the Waves is a sweet little quick read (28 pages) that weaves a tale about a girl whose beauty is marred and her betrothed who chooses to love her anyway.

 

Book Giveaway: Cooper Kids Adventure Series (part 2)

Last week I posted a giveaway for the first four books in The Cooper Kids Adventure Series. The winner of that giveaway is…

Lindsay!

Lindsay was a newcomer to Leah’s Bookshelf during this giveaway, but hopefully it won’t be the last time she joins us! 🙂 For those of you who didn’t win, don’t despair. You get a second change this week, because I’m giving away books 5-8 of the same series. Let me emphasize that you DO NOT need to read these books in order. They’re all stand alone adventures that work well together or apart. What’s more, this set includes two of my favorite books of the series, Flying Blind (titled Mayday at Two Thousand Five Hundred Feet in newer editions) and The Legend of Annie Murphy.

The Legend of Annie MurphyThe Legend of Annie Murphy: The weird front cover of this book was enough to make me wonder if I would like it. None of the other Cooper Kids books had disappointed in the past, though, so I opened it up and started reading. For those of you looking at the cover still, yes, there are some “ghostly” elements, but Annie isn’t actually a ghost. She’s a woman who got stuck in a time warp and is unable to escape. This book has less of a faith-based message than the others, but I loved it because of how funny it is when Jay and Lila get stuck between the past and present. I think any of you wibbley-wobbly, timey-wimey fans would love this book.

Flying BlindFlying Blind: The lesson of faith in this book is quite strong. Young Jay Cooper gets a terrifying lesson in faith when a flying accident leaves him blind and in charge of flying his uncles Cessna. Fighting to stay conscious, running out of fuel, and flying straight towards a mountain range, Jay’s life balances on a razor edge.

I didn’t read this book till long after I finished the other books (we didn’t own it until later). I cried through the entire thing. Jay’s vulnerability, his conversations with his Dad, and his determination to trust God with his fate really touched my heart. Some people don’t like this one as much because it’s not the same thriller-style story as the other books, but I loved the change of pace.

The rules for this week’s giveaway remain the same. The books can only be mailed within the continental United States. To enter, leave a comment listing five of your favorite books. The giveaway will run for one week. Thanks for joining us!

Book Review and Giveaway: The Cooper Kids Adventure Series

This is our third week of celebrating 200 followers on Leah’s Bookshelf. Last week I reviewed Radialloy, by J. Grace Pennington and gave away a two week kindle loan of the book. Before I launch into this week’s fun, I’d like to announce last week’s winner. (Cue drumroll.)

OnionTea!

Congratulations, OnionTea! I hope you enjoy the book. I’ll be sending you an email asking for the email address associated with your kindle. After I have that I can send you the loan invitation. You’ll have to accept the invitation within 7 days. After you accept it, you’ll have 14 days to read Radialloy.

Cooper Kids_5This week I’m giving away not one but four books! The winner of this week’s giveaway will receive the first four paperbacks in The Cooper Kids Adventure Series. These books are great fun. The back covers of the books say they’re for 10-14 year old readers, and I think that pegs it perfectly. They’re interesting enough to be really fun quick reads for older teens as well.

~*~

Gozan, this is no task for children! It will take an army, not just for men and two … children!” Al-Dallam only shook his perplexed head. “They will all be killed the first day. The Dragon’s Throat has no mercy!” —The Door in the Dragon’s Throat

“At any rate, we still encounter these forces from time to time, and one such manifestation is a terrible madness, an inescapable curse that sometimes besets people here. The native word is Moro-Kunda; it means the Madness Before Death. It has no known cause, no known cure, and is always fatal. The curse fell upon Tommy. He went mad, and though we tried to stop him, he fabricated that crude raft and fled from the island.” The man paused dramatically and then added,” But he couldn’t escape Moro-Kunda.” —Escape from the Island of Aquarius

Doctor Cooper shook his head with disgust. “Jay, it’s a perfect example of man’s sinful nature without God. That’s why the Lord commanded Joshua to drive out all the ungodly inhabitants of the land. He didn’t want his people coming into contact with this kind of moral and spiritual pollution.” —The Tombs of Anak

Lila floated in the pd for a while, weeping, resting her head against the cold metal wall. How long would her oxygen bottle last? Did anyone even know where she was? —Trapped at the Bottom of the Sea

~*~

Adventure, archaeological mysteries, and spiritual warfare intermingle in these edge-of-your-seat stories. These books are great for kids who like the weird and unusual, and they’re equally interesting for readers who enjoy non-stop action. I enjoy them as one-sitting reads that pull me into the story and don’t let me go until I turn the last page.

To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment explaining how you first found Leah’s Bookshelf. Due to the cost of shipping, the books can only be mailed to addresses in the continental United States. The giveaway will remain open for entries through August 7th.

Announcements

  1. Don’t forget that a new prize is available in the Story Shop. You can also find a new list of ways to earn Story Shop points. Check it out!
  2. In preparation for the release of Counted Worthy, I just started a professional Facebook page. Liking the page would be a very nice thing to do, and it will also earn you a point to spend in the Story Shop if you submit your Facebook name using the contact form. Be sure to let me know that you’re looking for Story Shop points in exchange for liking me on Facebook. The same goes for my Twitter account.
  3. Wild Thing, book one in the Winnie the Horse Gentler series, is currently free for kindle on Amazon. I don’t know if the deal is for today only or for the week.

Relationship Books: To-Read List

In lieu of a book review this week, I’d like to share my list of relationship books I hope to read in the future. I had planned to ask my brother to review a book for the guys this week, but he’s been so busy I didn’t even bother to bring it up. Besides that, this blog is home to lots of recommendations drawn from my last six years of reading. I’ve also done plenty of “real time” reviews of books as I read them. But I’ve never shared which books I plan or hope to read. So, since this month’s theme is relationship non-fiction, here are four books from that category that I hope to read.

Growing up DuggarGrowing Up Duggar: According to an interview the Duggar girls did, this book is “all about relationships.” Not just romantic ones. As a long standing Duggar fan, just knowing the older girls wrote a book was enough to make me want to read it. It just happens to be about relationships, which makes it a perfect fit for this list. I know a lot of people panic when they hear how many children the Duggars have (19 if you didn’t know), but I love it! Can’t wait to see what the girls have to say in this book.

I Kissed Dating GoodbyeI Kissed Dating Goodbye: I’ve been borrowing this book from a friend for far too long, so it should probably be the first book on this list that I read. Having heard Mr. Harris (the author’s father) speak at a homeschool conference and loving Do Hard Things (written by the author’s brothers), putting this on my to-read list was a logical course of action. I read Boy Meets Girl a while ago, and it didn’t really keep my attention well. Friends of mine love both books, so I’m curious to see what I’ll think of this one.

Redefining BeautifulRedefining Beautiful:I don’t really know much about this one. I found it at a used curriculum sale hosted by our state homeschool association. It looked pretty good (and it wasn’t very expensive), so I grabbed it. From what I can tell, this one only sort-of-kind-of fits this category. From the back cover, “Jenna reveals a foundational beauty secret: a father’s love. And whether a girl comes from a home with a devoted father, a home where that is only a dream, Jenna brings hope as she helps girls discover that they already have the perfect dad.”

When Sinners Say I doWhen Sinners Say “I Do”: This is a grab from last year’s used curriculum sale. Same story as with Redefining Beautiful, only I’d noticed this book several times in the CBD catalog. According to the back cover, “When Sinners Say ‘I Do’ is about encountering the life-transforming power of the gospel in the unpredictable journey of marriage.

Which of these books most interests you? Have you read any of them? Do you have a recommendation for which you think I should read first or will enjoy most?

While you’re here, don’t forget to take a moment and help me name a character in my next book. If you cast a vote, be sure to leave a comment saying which name you picked. I’m trying to come up with a fun surprise for the people who participate.