Shaken

shakenAuthor: Tim Tebow

Publisher: WaterBrook

Release Date: October 25, 2016

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A look at a man that has become famous for many reasons and how he feels about many of the things he has been a part of so far in his life.

What do you do when life is going great? How about when nothing is going your way?  We have all been through the ups and downs life has to offer.  In his new book, Tim Tebow gives a glimpse into his journey and how he has been able to stay grounded through the highs and not let himself get lost in the lows life has brought his way.  He talks about his outstanding college football career and how things seemed to only get better from there, only to have them all come crashing down.  Tebow shows the ways he has dealt with the highs and lows and hopes his insight will help others.

I am not a football fan. AT ALL.  But I wanted to read this book because I knew it would be about so much more than the game.  Tim Tebow is a man of faith, and that is not something he will apologize for.  He has had some amazing accomplishments in his life, and he has also had some major disappointments.  It would be easy to blame God for the bad stuff and turn his back when things don’t go his way.  But that has never been his style and it is something he can be proud of, even more so than his sports awards and accomplishments.  I didn’t realize some of the hardships he went through before reading this book.  It is nice to see that someone like him has remained strong in his face through some very trying times.  He makes some very good points about no matter what is happening in your life there is always someone worse off and we need to remember to be grateful for good and the bad.  Without experiencing the negative in our lives, we wouldn’t be able to appreciate the good.  That is something that many forget all too often.  At one point he talks about looking around us every day and finding the opportunities to be an everyday hero.  Even if that is something as small as helping someone cross a busy street, to them that might be everything.

I feel it would be beneficial for many to read this book, young athletes and teens in particular. There are many life lessons they can take away from his stories.  I don’t know what all Tim Tebow has planned for the next stage of his life but I am sure whatever it is he will conquer it with steadfast faith as he has with everything he has faced thus far.  I recommend this book to anyone looking to be inspired and maybe learn a thing or two about how to handle the storms that will inevitably come.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Of Stillness and Storm

of-stillness-and-stormAuthor: Michele Phoenix

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: December 6, 2016

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A gripping, emotional tale of loss, love, and devastation.

Lauren lives with her husband, Sam, and son, Ryan, in Kathmandu, Nepal. She works as an English teacher at a local university so that Sam can do mission work in the remote villages in the mountain regions of Nepal.  Unfortunately, rather than finding adventure in her home country, Lauren is getting frustrated with living in Nepal, dealing with the unsanitary conditions, traffic, pollution, monsoons, and only seeing Sam for a third of the year.  Worse, Ryan has been closing himself off from them since before they left the states and barely answers questions when directed at him.

After coaxing from one of her stateside friends, Lauren sets up a Facebook account. Within a day, she has been contacted by another friend, Aidan, from the past who was a huge part of her life before college.  As she is drawn into her conversations with Aidan, she finds herself shutting out her other life and her relationship with Ryan starts to suffer further.  How can she work to save the relationships she already has?

First of all, let me say that if you read this book, it is going to affect you emotionally. It certainly did me.  The story is told from Lauren’s point of view and switches between present day in Nepal and her past story including how she and Sam met, her relationship with Aidan, and Ryan’s plunge into depression.  But ultimately, the story is not really about Lauren so much as it is about Ryan.  Michele Phoenix has a ministry set up to support missionary kids and the struggles that they deal with.  It is very evident that Ryan struggles with abandonment from his father, but doesn’t know how to express it.  Even if he did, Sam would probably not have taken it as he should have.

Speaking of Sam, it was interesting to see a missionary as an antagonist throughout the story. I continually got frustrated with his character and even shocked that he would continue to abandon his family.  He had a lot of personal ambition that I believe he took to make his vision come true, even when he had roadblocks in his way that could have been warnings.

This is a very difficult read emotionally and the ending may leave you with more questions than answers, but overall it is extremely well written and presented.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

All the Breaking Waves

all-the-breaking-wavesAuthor: Kerry Lonsdale

Publisher: Lake Union

Release Date: December 6, 2016

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Sophomore novel from Kerry Lonsdale is another must read!

 

Molly Brennan has a secret. She is able to emphasize with other people and even has the gift of compulsion to make others do task she commands them in their mind.  In fact, all of the women ancestors have been able to do something as well.  Unfortunately, this gift has led to a tragic accident that caused her family to be torn apart, causing Molly to leave the town of Pacific Grove, California for good.  Now ten years later, Molly has discovered that her eight year old daughter also has abilities, but they are even more dangerous.  Cassie has premonitions of events five days before they happen and each day the premonitions get more vivid and Cassie experiences the events, including the pain and potentially even death.  Molly must now return to her grandmother at Pacific Grove to help train Cassie to not let her abilities destroy her, but she will be thrust back into the crowd from ten years ago including the soulmate she left behind.

 

Everything We Keep was a tremendous breakout novel that was extremely thought provoking.  This of course meant that I must read Lonsdale’s second novel with nervous anticipation that it wouldn’t be as good as the first.  Not to worry, it was just as good, if not better. All the Breaking Waves continued Lonsdale’s trend of a young female lead character in her upper twenties who is really coming into her own.  Molly is a very strong character who has been raising her daughter as a single mother.  She is a very different character than Aimee Tierney in Everything we Keep in that she is already used to doing things herself, but she isn’t really realizing her true potential in life.  Of course there is also some romance thrown in at just the right times.  Lonsdale is truly a master of her craft.  She has a unique way of blending a little bit of sci-fi into a contemporary setting that the reader finds completely believable.  It may also help that the Monterey peninsula is one of my favorite areas, so getting to visit there alongside Molly was a beautiful thing.  Needless to say, I am awaiting the next awesome read from Kerry Lonsdale!

There is some mild language throughout the book as well as two scenes that include some mild sexual dialogue. I recommend this book to mature young adults and up!

 

 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed throughout are mine.

Conspiracy of Silence

consiparcy-of-silenceAuthor: Ronie Kendig

Series: The Tox Files #1

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: December 6, 2016

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

After a failed mission, Cole “Tox” Russell has found himself an outcast, but now that the world needs him, he isn’t sure if he is the best man for the job.

It’s been four years since Cole “Tox” Russell was involved in a tragic mission that ended his career and that of his team. He was able to cut a deal and keep his team out of trouble, unfortunately it put him in the hot seat.  He has become an outcast, which is what he really wants, to be left alone.  It isn’t long after his exile that a centuries-old disease is unleashed in the world and he to be called back into action.  His estranged brother is now the President of the United States and enlists his help to keep not only his family but also the entire world safe.  He gets his team back and is working with FBI Agent Kasey Cortes to find the answers they all desperately need.  It is a race around the globe to fight the plague and an ancient secret society that is adamant to remain hidden.  With secrets uncovered and enemies at every corner, Tox and his team have to learn to work together once more in order to survive and break the conspiracy of silence.

Ronie Kendig has crafted another intriguing tale that will take readers on an adventure around the world and keep them on the edge of their seats until the very end. This is the first book in The Tox Files, if you don’t count the prequel, The Warrior’s Seal.  I highly recommend reading the prequel, which is a free ebook, before starting Conspiracy of Silence.  While the story is great and I found myself flipping pages as quickly as possible to find out what was going to happen. There were a few points throughout that got a bit wordy and could have been trimmed down slightly to make it flow a little better.  That being said, most of what is written is very relevant to the story and doesn’t need to be skipped over.  I have become a fan of Kendig and her military thrillers and have to say this should not be missed.  Tox thinks he is Toxic to those around him and doesn’t want to have any kind of a relationship with anyone for fear of causing them pain.  It is obvious there are feelings between Kasey and Tox and the way the relationship is played out was very well done in my opinion.  I liked how Kendig threw Kasey into the mix, she wasn’t field trained like the others but didn’t let that stop her from pulling her own weight and doing whatever she could to help the team.  The story was tied up nicely at the end but still left open for the next in the series to follow.  I for one can’t wait to see what comes next for Tox and the gang.  I recommend this to anyone that enjoys a good thriller.  There are a few moments of violence that wouldn’t be recommended for a younger audience but overall it is a good clean story that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Wallflower Blooming

wallflower-bloomingAuthor: Amy Rivers

Publisher: Wooden Pants Publishing

Release Date: August 15, 2016

Rating: 3 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Wallflower no more, she is becoming society’s girl.

Val Shakely loves running her small public relations firm in Cambria, Colorado. The best part is, she doesn’t take on political candidates.  At least she doesn’t until her cousin Gwen decides to run for mayor.  She previously ran for city council and became the youngest person to be elected.  Val isn’t looking forward to the campaign either.  Her opponent wanted her to be his PR, but she declined and he isn’t used to being told no.  However, she starts to run into local businessman John Hatfield more and more frequently, so much so that they actually begin to fall in love.  Val finds herself becoming more in the public eye with John and as the campaign turns nasty with the current mayor threatening by John and Val, can they hold it together?

Overall, this was a quick, fairly interesting read. It is a really short book that is just a snapshot in time during a small town election.  It really could be more classified as a novella as I could see the two main characters branching off into a more developed story.  Even so, the story was primarily about Val, who is a wallflower that enjoys working behind the scenes, fall in love with John who is widely known, but pretty antisocial himself.  If you enjoy quick romances, this one will tickle your fancy.

There was some mild sexual dialogue and quite a bit of foul language, so I would recommend this book for mature young adults and up.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

VeggieTales: The Best Christmas Gift Ever

christmas-giftAuthor: Melinda R. L. Rumbaugh

Publisher: Worthy Kids

Release Date: October 4, 2016

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Helping kids understand the true meaning of Christmas!

The VeggieTales get together to share the understanding of Christmas. From putting up the Christmas tree to caroling to gift giving, they have a rhyme for it all.  But the most important part of Christmas is about the birth of Jesus, our savior, which they highlight most of all.

This is a very easy to read book that toddlers to preschool age kids will enjoy. And those clever VeggieTales are there to help keep their interest.  I read this with my 17 month old son (and still reading multiple times a day).  He really enjoys it and it conveys a great message.  I recommend this to all who love the VeggieTales as well as those with young kids.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Knight Kyle and the Magic Silver Lance

knight-kyleAuthor: Oliver Potzsch

Series: Adventures Beyond Dragon Mountain

Publisher: Amazon Crossing

Release Date: December 1, 2016

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Dungeons, Dragons, and much more makes this a great book for young boys!

Knight Kyle lives in Fairyland East along with elves, trolls, dragons, giants, and all sorts of magical creatures. He, along with others, is in search of his great-grandfather’s lost silver lance.  Legend has it that the lance comes with invincible power.  It has been missing for many years and Kyle knows it is his destiny to find it.  He is up against his worst enemies, Rasputin, an evil robber, and Balduin, a magician.  Working with Kyle is Lady Constance, the brave lady of the house, Elf Aurin, and Dragobert the dragon and Prince Nepomuk.  Together they go on crazy adventures and have the best time ever.

All children enjoy a good magical story. With Knight Kyle, you get that along with many valuable lessons, making this a great book for young readers.  I was able to read this in a single day turning the pages quickly to take the next adventure with our young heroes.  The pages are filled with teaching moments about sharing, not excluding others just because you may not like them.  Another good lesson how it might be hard but never lose hope, just when you are about to give up is when what you have been reaching for will be within your grasp.  Kyle and his friends work together and have so much fun on their adventures.  The one down point of this was poor editing.  I received this on an e-reader and had several paragraphs repeated.  I can’t blame poor editing on the author, but feel this shouldn’t have been overlooked. Young children will surely enjoy this magical tale and hopefully learn some good life lessons along the way.