Aaru by David Meredith Review

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Synopsis:

Rose is dying. Her body is wasted and skeletal. She is too sick and weak to move. Every day is an agony and her only hope is that death will find her swiftly before the pain grows too great to bear.

She is sixteen years old.

Rose has made peace with her fate, but her younger sister, Koren, certainly has not. Though all hope appears lost Koren convinces Rose to make one final attempt at saving her life after a mysterious man in a white lab coat approaches their family about an unorthodox and experimental procedure. A copy of Rose’s radiant mind is uploaded to a massive super computer called Aaru – a virtual paradise where the great and the righteous might live forever in an arcadian world free from pain, illness, and death. Elysian Industries is set to begin offering the service to those who can afford it and hires Koren to be their spokes-model.

Within a matter of weeks, the sisters’ faces are nationally ubiquitous, but they soon discover that neither celebrity nor immortality is as utopian as they think. Not everyone is pleased with the idea of life everlasting for sale.
What unfolds is a whirlwind of controversy, sabotage, obsession, and danger. Rose and Koren must struggle to find meaning in their chaotic new lives and at the same time hold true to each other as Aaru challenges all they ever knew about life, love, and death and everything they thought they really believed.

My Thoughts:

The synopsis of this book piqued my interest and it definitely did not disappoint. Immortality is something that I think everyone thinks about from time to time and this book explores this possibility in a unique way of downloading your persona onto a massive super computer called “Aaru”.

The story was very well done…the writing flowed very smoothly and I was engaged from the first page to the last. It had some unexpected moments and ended in a way that would satisfy but also leaves me wanting more (book 2, Aaru, Halls of Hel is advertised to be released in 2018).

The characters were interesting. I did find it difficult to be on board with Koren being  only 13 or 14 years old, based on the lack of parental supervision and some of the things that happened to her (although I realize that this does happen).

Rose was a sweet character and I loved seeing the virtual world through her eyes. I did find some of the concepts of Aaru to be a bit confusing at times but overall the world building was solid.

This is not a Christian fiction book, so there was some cursing and some references to Heaven and God that I didn’t agree with.

Overall, this was a nice change from the contemporary stories I’ve been immersed in lately. It had a mixture of many genres…fantasy, thriller, horror, mystery, and romance.

My Rating:

4 stars

I received this book from the author to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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When Through Deep Waters by Rachelle Dekker Review

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Synopsis:

Alicen McCaffrey finally has the life her mother always dreamed for her: beautiful home in Santa Monica, successful husband, adorable daughter. Then tragedy blows her carefully assembled facade to pieces. Worse yet–Alicen feels solely responsible. At rock bottom, she decides to accompany a childhood friend back to Red Lodge, Montana, where they spent summers together as kids.

The peaceful mountain landscape, accented with lush forests and small-town charm, brings back happy memories of time spent with her beloved, eccentric Grandma Josephine. Alicen begins to hope that perhaps things could be different here. Perhaps the oppressive guilt will lift–if only for a moment.

But when Alicen starts hearing voices and seeing mysterious figures near the river in the woods, she begins to fear she’s completely lost her sanity, as it’s rumored her grandmother did. Or might there be more to Red Lodge than meets the eye? Could the voices and visions be real–and her only means of finding the healing she so desperately needs? Or will they prove to be her final undoing?

My Thoughts:

This is a difficult book to review because I have many mixed feelings about it. I didn’t really know what to expect when I started reading it, based on the synopsis and it was definitely different than anything I’ve read before.

It almost felt like the author was adding elements of magical realism to the story and trying to fit them into the story of salvation but to me, it didn’t quite work. The theology behind some of the things said and seen in the story just didn’t make sense. I’m not a fan of magical realism/paranormal aspects so this probably had a lot to do with my feelings towards the book.

I liked the character of Alicen and felt that her grieving process seemed very realistic. I also found the descriptions of how depression felt as very accurate. I also loved the friendship she shared with Louise and the support she received from her.

The story moved very fast and I found myself flying through the pages. Unfortunately, I just felt like some elements of the story were confusing and a bit strange. It wasn’t the book for me.

My Rating: 2.5 stars

I received this book from the publisher to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

The Hunter and the Valley of Death by Brennan S. McPherson Review

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Synopsis:

Experience the psalms like never before–through thought-provoking fiction. 
A man wakes up in the Valley of Death and realizes he’s given up everything, including his memories, to attempt to kill Death so that he can bring his wife back to life. But when he fails, who will be there to rescue him?
The Hunter and the Valley of Death is a profound meditation on life, death, loss, and love. Formatted as a fantasy parable on the topic of surrender, this story shows that there is only One who could kill Death–and because of him, and him alone, we say, “Oh, Death, where is your sting?” 

My Thoughts:

This small book packed a lot of punch! The story is a fantasy parable relating to Psalm 23 and many other stories of the Bible.

Told in a fantasy style, the story moves at a swift pace and the reader travels with The Hunter through many places and encounters many creatures along the way.

The symbolism is easy to decipher for those familiar with the Bible. The story is packed with symbols, many that are subtle, so this book would be great for re-reading as new things would be discovered with each read.

It took a bit for me to get invested in the story but once I was hooked, I couldn’t put it down. The descriptions were very vivid and the story was hard hitting. I went through a vast range of emotions when reading the story, from sadness and remorse, to joy and thankfulness.

This would be an excellent story to use in Bible studies and small groups. There are author’s notes at the end that explain the symbolism and how the story relates to the Bible, specifically to Psalm 23. The author’s love for Christ and the scripture truly shines through and I am thankful to have had the opportunity to read this book.

This is the first book in a series (the Psalm series) by various authors and I am eagerly awaiting the release of the next story.

My Rating: 4 stars

I received this book from the author to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Just Let Go by Courtney Walsh Review and Giveaway

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About the Book

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Title: Just Let Go

Author: Courtney Walsh

Release Date: June 5, 2018

Genre: Contemporary Romance

For Quinn Collins, buying the flower shop in downtown Harbor Pointe fulfills a childhood dream, but also gives her the chance to stick it to her mom, who owned the store before skipping town twenty years ago and never looking back. Completing much-needed renovations, however, while also competing for a prestigious flower competition with her mother as the head judge, soon has Quinn in over her head. Not that she’d ever ask for help.

Luckily, she may not need to. Quinn’s father and his meddling friends find the perfect solution in notorious Olympic skier Grady Benson, who had only planned on passing through the old-fashioned lakeside town. But when a heated confrontation leads to property damage, helping Quinn as a community-service sentence seems like the quickest way out—and the best way to avoid more negative press.

Quinn finds Grady reckless and entitled; he thinks she’s uptight and too regimented. Yet as the two begin to hammer and saw, Quinn sees glimpses of the vulnerability behind the bravado, and Grady learns from her passion and determination, qualities he seems to have lost along the way. But when a well-intentioned omission has devastating consequences, Grady finds himself cast out of town—and Quinn’s life—possibly forever. Forced to face the hurt holding her back, Quinn must finally let go or risk missing out on the adventure of a lifetime.

Click here to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

This is the second book by Courtney Walsh that takes place in Harbor Pointe, Michigan and I was delighted to revisit this quaint little town and to see some of my favorite characters from “Just Look Up”.

This story follows Grady and Quinn, two broken people who at first glance seem like opposites but after digging deeper, they come to realize they have a lot in common.

I loved the character development that occurred in both of the main characters. It was gradual and felt genuine. I also loved the inclusion of the side characters…Quinn’s dad, her friends, and the judge were developed very well and made a nice addition to the story.

The faith content was great in the story. I loved how Quinn stuck to her morals regarding purity and dating, but there were also discussions about redemption and forgiveness in regards to this.

I enjoyed this story but not as much as the first in the series. I didn’t relate to the characters as much in this book and at times I found that the plot was becoming a bit repetitive.

My Rating

3.5 stars

I received this book from the publisher to review. All thoughts an opinions are my own.

About the Author

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Courtney Walsh is a novelist, artist, theatre director, and playwright. Her debut novel, A Sweethaven Summer, hit the New York Times and USA Today e-book bestseller lists and was a Carol Award finalist in the debut author category. She has written two more books in the Sweethaven series, as well as two craft books and several full-length musicals. Courtney lives in Illinois with her husband and three children. Visit her online at http://www.courtneywalshwrites.com.

Blog Stops

By The Book, June 26

Faithfully Bookish, June 26

Luv’N Lambert Life, June 26

Reading Is My SuperPower, June 27

Among the Reads, June 27

Splashes of Joy, June 27

God is Love, June 28

Fiction Aficionado, June 28

Genesis 5020, June 28

All-of-a-kind Mom, June 28

Carpe Diem, June 29

Christian Chick’s Thoughts, June 29

100 Pages per Hour, June 29

The Power of Words, June 30

Lighthouse Academy, June 30

Radiant Light, June 30

Just the Write Escape, June 30

Quiet Quilter, July 1

C Jane Read, July 1

A Baker’s Perspective, July 1

Cordially Barbara, July 2

Baker kella, July 2

The Christian Fiction Girl, July 3

Remembrancy, July 3

amandainpa, July 3

Two Points of Interest, July 4

Daysong Reflections, July 4

SusanLovesBooks, July 4

Vicky Sluiter, July 5

proud to be an autism mom, July 5

Moments Dipped in Ink, July 6

Pause for Tales, July 6

Bibliophile Reviews, July 7

Texas Book-aholic, July 7

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 7

Janices book reviews, July 8

Bigreadersite, July 8

Blossoms and Blessings, July 8

Godly Book Reviews, July 9

Jeanette’s Thoughts, July 9

Christian Author, J.E.Grace, July 9

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Courtney Walsh is giving away a grand prize of a library of Courtney Walsh’s books and a $25 Amazon gift card!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/d0a4/just-let-go-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

Falling for You by Becky Wade Review

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Synopsis:

Willow Bradford is content taking a break from modeling to run her family’s inn until she comes face-to-face with NFL quarterback Corbin Stewart, the man who broke her heart–and wants to win her back. When a decades-old missing-persons case brings them together, they’re forced to decide whether they can risk falling for one another all over again.

My Thoughts:

I read the first book in this series and although I enjoyed the setting and the writing style, the main character drove me crazy and I had a few issues with her decisions.

This book was much better than the first in my opinion.I really loved Willow and related to her compulsion to shop when she felt stressed. I also loved the relationship she had with Corbin.

Willow works through issues of her past and finding forgiveness. This was a wonderful lesson as many Christian women struggle with looking perfect to the world.

Willow’s grandmother was one of my favorite characters because she wasn’t the cliche’d image of a loving, doting grandmother. She was grumpy and not afraid to share her opinions.

There was a great mystery included in the story that really added to my enjoyment of the book.

I’m eager for the next book in the series as I love Britt and can’t wait to see her story.

My Rating: 4 stars

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my review. All thoughts and opinion are my own.

 

The Love Letter by Rachel Hauck Review and Giveaway

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About the Book

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Title: The Love Letter

Author: Rachel Hauck

Release Date: June 12, 2018

Genre: Contemporary

Tour Dates: June 21 – July 4

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Wedding Dress comes a story of long-lost love and its redemption in future generations.

Romance has never been actress Chloe Daschle’s forte—in life or on screen. But everyone knows who to call for a convincing death scene . . . and it might be killing her career.

When Chloe is given a peek at the script for an epic love story, she decides to take her destiny into her own hands and request an audition for the lead female role, Esther Kingsley. The compelling tale, inspired by family lore and a one-page letter from the colonial ancestor of scriptwriter Jesse Gates, just might break her out of this career-crippling rut. Jesse would rather write about romance than live through it after his past relationship ended in disaster. But once on-set together, the chemistry between Jesse and his leading lady is hard to deny.

Centuries earlier, in the heart of the Revolutionary War, Hamilton Lightfoot and Esther Longfellow wrote their saga off the silver screen. Esther’s Loyalist father opposes any relationship with Hamilton, but Esther must face her beloved father’s disapproval and the dangers of war in order to convince Hamilton of their future together. Hamilton has loved Esther for years, and on the eve of battle pens the love letter she’s always wanted—something straight from the heart.

Set in stunning upcountry South Carolina, The Love Letter is a beautifully-crafted story of the courage it takes to face down fear and chase after love, even in the darkest of times. And just maybe, all these generations later, love can come home in a way not even Hollywood could imagine.

Click here to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts:

This was a beautiful love story with an interesting premise. The story jumps from past to present with the reader following Chloe and Jesse, an actress and screenwriter in present day and Esther and Hamilton, 2 friends in love on opposite sidelines during the Revolutionary War. The stories parallel each other in many clever ways.

I loved Esther and Hamilton’s story…it was tragic and reminded me somewhat of a “Romeo and Juliet-esque” forbidden love trope that I often enjoy. The descriptions of the time period were very vivid and the story moved quickly.

Chloe and Jesse’s story was sweet…they were each dealing with ghosts from their past and helped each other through. I loved Chloe’s view on marriage and how the author emphasized how special and sacred marriage is. This is something that is so rare in fiction today that I really appreciated it.

There was a lot of faith content and some supernatural scenes that were very special.

One issue I had  with the story was that one character was saved and the other wasn’t and it was never really mentioned as an issue. Being “unequally yoked” is very problematic to relationships and although things were resolved in the end, I wish it would have been mentioned at some point earlier in the story.

I also found Chloe at times to be a bit materialistic, which was a bit off-putting. Certainly, she was born and raised in a very wealthy environment but a few of her comments made her a bit unlikable to me.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book and will definitely dive into more of Rachel’s stories. She is a very gifted author.

My Rating: 4 stars

I received this book from the publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

About the Author

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Rachel Hauck is an award winning, New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author.

Her book The Wedding Dress was named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times. She is a double RITA finalist, a Christy and Carol Award Winner.

Rachel sits on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers, and is the comical sidekick to Susan May Warren at the amazing My Book Therapy. She is a worship leader and speaker.

A graduate of Ohio State University with a degree in Journalism, Rachel is a devoted Ohio State football fan. She lives in sunny central Florida with her husband and ornery cat.

Guest Post from Rachel Hauck

I’m always looking for story ideas. My husband does a standard disclaimer when I start drilling into a conversation with questions like:

”Really? So why did you do that?”

”Have you sought help?”

”Was it love at first sight?”

Hubster says, “Warning, anything you say can end up in a book.”

Of course, stories abound! Interesting people abound!

Then again, sometimes ideas just hit out of the blue. A few years ago I had the idea of a young, contemporary couple meeting by “accident” only to learn that their great grandparents were in love but time, life, family, war, or society made their love impossible.

I suppose there are a hundred ways to tell such a story but when it came time to write The Love Letter, I was slightly infatuated with the Poldark series on PBS.

Set in 18th century Cornwall, the story and the characters were so dynamic I had to write my own version of Poldark.

But could I write a split time with a 240 year difference? I mean, they didn’t have electricity or phones in 1780! They didn’t even have a postal system. Letters were carried by traveling friends or family.

What possible conflicts could my historical characters face? What event could be so dark and tragic to keep them apart?

The Revolutionary War created a perfect backdrop for my young lovers.

I set the story in upcountry South Carolina not realizing the battle I chose for the back drop, the Battle of Cowpens, was the inspiration for the movie The Patriot. (A fav movie of mine!)

For the contemporary story, I started with shoes. I mean, doesn’t every thing start with shoes?

”Nice outfit but what shoes are you wearing?”

”You’re going on a date? You need new shoes.”

What we “walk in” can either empower or defeat us. There’s a spiritual metaphor I’ll mediate on for awhile.

However the shoe angle didn’t quite work so the contemporary story ended up in Hollywood with an actor/screenwriter and an actress.

Both worlds—1780 upcountry South Carolina and contemporary Hollywood—were a bit out of my southern bailiwick.

I did a lot of research on the war and the colonial south. Where I couldn’t find details, I filled in with my imagination.

As for Hollywood, I talked with a screenwriter friend, read books, watched interviews, and then, you know, made the rest up. Don’t you know I eventually ended up on a movie set—Once Upon A Prince—four days after I finished reading the galley proofs for The Love Letter!

One of the hardest parts of the story was the actual love letter. What did it say? Who wrote it and why? Was there more than one? No, only one. But why only one?

I must have written and rewritten the letter five different ways to Sunday before I settled on the magical one.

During the course of the book, I realized I’d never written a love letter. Have you?

I’ve written sentiments to my husband on an anniversary or birthday card. I speak my love and affection out loud all the time. But a bonafide love letter?

A love letter is it’s own art form. They range from sickly sweet with a lot of “darlings” and “sweethearts” to Shakespearean sonnets.

There’s a vulnerability that comes with writing a love letter. Putting one’s heart on the page creates a new level of commitment with your affections.

Will the reader receive your words? Will the reader respond in kind?

It’s fascinating to consider the purpose of a love letter. Have we lost something intrinsic to the human heart with our instant texting and email society.

Can you imagine Romeo texting to Juliet in 2018?

Saw you at your window. You looked hot.

Doesn’t quite have the same ring as: “But soft! what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east and Juliet is the sun.”

Scripture is a continuous love letter. “For God so loved the world—”

Whether you write love letters or poems, or quick texts, or put XO’s on cards to loved ones, write a love letter this month.

Write one to yourself, to Jesus, a spouse, child, parent, friend, foe—

See how it will bless your heart! Off to write my love letter…

Blog Stops

Among the Reads, June 21

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, June 21

The Avid Reader, June 21

Genesis 5020, June 21

ansel book blog, June 22

Blogging With Carol, June 22

Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner, June 22

Cover to Cover and Everything in Between, June 23

The Power of Words, June 23

Luv’N Lambert Life, June 23

Janices book reviews, June 23

C Jane Read, June 24

Kristin’s Book Reviews, June 24

Reflections From My Bookshelves, June 25

Faithfully Bookish, June 25

By The Book, June 25

Reading Is My SuperPower, June 25

Kat’s Corner Books, June 26

Maureen’s Musings, June 26

Ladybug Chronicles, June 26

Carpe Diem, June 26

Moments Dipped in Ink, June 27

Mommynificent , June 27

Godly Book Reviews, June 27

God’s Little Bookworm, June 28

Radiant Light, June 28

All-of-a-kind Mom, June 28

Have A Wonderful Day, June 28

Novels corner, June 29

Blossoms and Blessings, June 29

Christian Chick’s Thoughts, June 29

Bigreadersite, June 29

Pause for Tales, June 30

Bibliophile Reviews, June 30

Splashes of Joy, June 30

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, July 1

Simple Harvest Reads, July 1

The Christian Fiction Girl, July 1

A Baker’s Perspective, July 1

Remembrancy, July 2

amandainpa, July 2

To Everything A Season, July 2

proud to be an autism mom, July 3

Texas Book-aholic, July 3

Christian Author, J.E.Grace, July 3

Fiction, Faith, and Fun, July 4

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 4

Jeanette’s Thoughts, July 4

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Rachel is giving away

Grand prize of a Kindle Fire 7
Semi-Grand prize of a book basket
2nd – 4th place prize of a copy of The Love Letter!!

Click below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/d071/the-love-letter-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

The Complete Guide to Dream Interpretation by Marsha Trimble Dunstan Review

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Description:

Simple, Dynamic Plan and Comprehensive Dictionary for Dream Interpretation

Too often, books on dream interpretation can wander off into complicated interpretation techniques, clinical language, or an incomplete “CliffsNotes” set of information. With wit and warmth, dream interpretation expert Marsha Trimble Dunstan gives readers a truly simple, comprehensive, and biblical approach to interpreting their dreams.

Thoroughly grounding her teaching in Scripture, Dunstan lays out a concise step-by-step process for straightforward interpretation and then gives a wealth of real, modern-day examples of dreams and their interpretations. Included at the end is one of the most extensive dream symbol dictionaries on the market, with over 3,800 entries, all with biblical references.

If you’re serious about discerning what God is saying to you through your dreams, this dynamic book is sure to become a well-used staple next to your bedside, providing you with the practical tools you need night after night.

My Thoughts:

I dream almost every time I sleep and sometimes my dreams can be very strange so I was very eager to find a book that discusses dream interpretation from a Biblical perspective. I truly believe that God still speaks to people through their dreams but sometimes it’s difficult to understand what He’s saying.

This book is very informative and provides a lot of insight into interpreting dreams as well as deciphering whether the dreams are from God.

The author provides many examples of dreams with the interpretations, which really helped me to understand and grasp the process easier.

There is also a very large dictionary of dream symbols in the last half of the book that gives the Biblical symbol and the Biblical reference.

After reading this book, I still feel that  dream interpretation is a difficult process but I definitely feel like I have more knowledge and tools to learn more about what my dreams mean.

I highly recommend this book to Christians who may feel like the Lord is speaking to them through their dreams but doesn’t know how to understand them.

My Rating: 4 stars

I received this book from the publisher to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.