If I Run

If I Run
By Terri Blackstock
Published: 2016, Zondervan
Genre: Christian Fiction, Mystery & Suspense

There’s blood on the bottom of my shoes. I rinse the soles, knowing the police will trace the impression of the rubber pattern and determine they’re Skechers. They’ll find the charge for the shoe store on my credit card, proving they’re mine.

It has been a while since I’ve read a good, clean mystery novel so I was excited when this was the book club pick for the month.

“Casey Cox’s DNA is all over the crime scene. There’s no use talk to police; they have failed her abysmally before. She has to flee before she’s arrested….or worse. The truth doesn’t matter anymore.”

After her best friend is murdered, Casey makes a split decision to go on the run because she feels that it is her only option. Dylan Roberts, newly discharged veteran, is hired to find Casey and bring her back; and he seems to be the only one interested in finding out the truth about the Casey and the murder.

As we follow Casey on her journey eluding capture, we learn bits and pieces about why she chose to run and not stay; a story steeped in the past and wrapped up in Casey’s family.

I would not classify the writing within the book as literature, but it definitely was a well written mystery that kept me flipping the pages to find out what happens next.  And the book has an open ending and you will definitely want to read the next book in the series, If I’m Found, just as I did. Once you read the second book, you can pre-order the final one in the series, If I Live

I had hoped there would be a little more of a spiritual journey throughout the book then there was. There were bits and pieces of mention here and there, but I felt like it was just maybe barely enough to place it in the Christian category. Perhaps there will be a little more in the next book. (Which there was; there is definitely a spiritual journey developing throughout the series. I look forward to reading the final book once it is published to see how Casey’s walk finishes.)

Knowing that Jesus will not be disheartened or crushed, that he won’t feel the need to shout in the streets or rail against anything, that he will bring forth justice in the twinkle of an eye, encourages me. Things look grim, but God is still in control.

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This next section was added after my book club met and includes some thoughts and opinions of others on the book and how the discussion may have changed my perspective of the book. 

The majority of the ladies in my book club enjoyed the book as well and a couple had even gone on to read the second book as well. There was also consensus that we had hoped for a little more of a spiritual aspect to the book, but that perhaps it is just the genre of the book or maybe it would develop as the series went on.

We all agreed that we may not be able to do some of the things that Casey did or to put ourselves in her place. Many of the things that she did throughout the book were quite courageous and knowledgeable.
There was also an interesting subplot within the book that some felt was added to just prolong the book and the series, while others felt that it helped to develop Casey’s character traits.

Overall, we agreed that it was a decently written book and we enjoyed reading something out of the “normal” Christian genre.

I recommend the book, as well as the series if you are looking for a good, clean murder mystery.

If I Run

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The Memory Trees

The Memory Trees
By Kali Wallace
Published: 2017, Katherine Tegen (HarperCollins) Books
Genre: YA Fiction, Magical Realism, Mental Health


Beyond the window the morning was bright and glittering, the sky a breathless blue, and the hotels on Miami Beach jutted like broken teeth across the water, but all Sorrow could see was the orchard. There were trees whispering behind the walls of the office, and she almost believed if she turned—if she was quick—she would glimpse their sturdy thick trunks and rustling dead leaves from the corner of her eye.

I have seen this book recommended all over Bookstagram, and it is in a genre I have newly discovered that I enjoy so I waited and waited for it to come to the top of my hold list at the library. I was not disappointed.

There was just enough magic in the book, while the majority of the story line stayed within the real world. I do like when a book has a lot of the magical aspects to the book, such as The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, but I also enjoy when it has just a touch of magic so that it could almost really happen.

:…a darkly magical novel about a mysterious family legacy, the bonds of sisterhood, and the strange and powerful ways we are shaped by the places we call home.”

As we follow Sorrow on her quest to regain her memories surrounding her sister’s death, we learn how much our present and future is shaped by our family, the history of our family, the dynamics of the family in our home, and the community in which we grow up in. Sometimes, our own actions are so influenced by previous generations, that we can wonder if we would have made a different choice if we had not had those influences and preconceived notions.

Kali Wallace has a wonderful way with words. Her descriptions were beautiful and you definitely could feel as if you were right there, within the pages, standing next to Sorrow, experiencing everything right along with her.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys magical realism or fantasy fiction.

There were no gaps in her memory anymore—the missing pieces had been here all along, cradled in the mountains and waiting—and in their absence the seams between the lonely lost child she had been and the person she was now were that much harder to find.

The Memory Trees

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The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living

The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living: A Novel
By Louise Miller
Published: 2017, Penguin Books
Genre: Romantic Comedy, Fiction

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The night I lit the Emerson Club on fire had been perfect for making meringue. I had been worrying about the humidity all week, but that night, dry, cool air drifted in through an open window.

I do not typically read a whole lot of romance books, but I have seen this one recommended by a few people on Bookstagram, and I have been reading some more intense books lately, so I thought I’d give it a try.

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I don’t normally read this genre because I find it predictable and cheesy. While it was a little bit predictable and cheesy, it is written in a fun, lighthearted way that I was able to still enjoy. It also helped that the main story line of the novel was not the aforementioned romance.

In The City Baker’s Guide, we meet Olivia Rawlings, a pastry chef, who inadvertently causes a fire with her latest creation. Running from embarrassment, she ends up in the small town of Guthrie, Vermont. Growing up with virtually no family around her, Livvy becomes overwhelmed with the small town, everyone is family kind of life.

“With the joys of a fragrant kitchen, the sound of banjos and fiddles being tuned in a barn, the crisp scent of the orchard just outside the front door Livvy soon finds herself immersed in small-town life.”

As we watch Livvy begin to fall in love with the town and people of Guthrie, we learn that despite living in the city her whole life and having a career as a well-known pastry chef, Olivia just yearns for a family and a home to call her own.

There are only a few moments in my life that I have ever wanted to bask in—driving up the coast of Maine beside my father on an autumn afternoon, when I pulled my first chocolate souffle out of the oven, the first time Salty rested his muzzle in my lap and sighed. And now this. I would have given anything to pause time right here.

This is a very light read, the writing is done quite well and the characters are lovable. I recommend it as a wonderful “beach type” read.

The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living: A Novel

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Caroline: Little House, Revisited

Caroline: Little House, Revisited
By Sarah Miller
Published: 2017, William Morrow
Genre: Historical Fiction, Biographical, Literature

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Caroline’s wrist turned and flicked as the steel tongue of her crochet hook dipped in and out, mirroring the movement of the fiddle’s bow. With each note, the white thread licked a warm line across her finger. Her pattern had just begun to repeat, chorus-like, as the tune ended.

Nostalgia. That is the feeling I experienced while reading this book.
I read the The Little House Books so many times as a young girl that I practically had them memorized. I was pleased to see that there was now a book written from the perspective of the mother. Since I am now a mom myself, I loved getting to read the same story but from Caroline’s point of view.

I thought that Sarah Miller did a wonderful job of staying true to the historical knowledge of the Ingalls family, but adding enough of her own creative elements that we were able to really feel like we were a part of Caroline’s life. She did an impressive job of portraying what a woman would think and how a woman would feel during the troubles and times of the Ingalls family.
I cannot begin to imagine what it would be like to be a pregnant mother, leaving behind your entire family and all you have ever known, to travel across the country into the unknown.

Those that she could not bear to leave sat close around her, yet as she looked backward through the keyhole of canvas at the blur of the waving hands, Caroline could not help but wonder whether Charles and the girls would be enough.

The writing in the book was beautiful. The words used, the pictures that the author created, put me right back inside that wagon with the Ingalls family; only this time I was the mom and not Laura.

I really enjoyed this book and reliving the days of Laura and Mary through Caroline’s eyes. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who read and loved the Little House series as a young child (or still does).

Caroline: Little House, Revisited

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A.D. 30

A.D. 30: A Novel
By Ted Dekker
Published: 2015, Center Street
Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction, Mystery & Suspense

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I had heard of kingdoms far beyond the oasis that give birth to life where none should be, kingdoms beyond the vast, barren sands of the Arabian deserts.
I had lived in one such kingdom beyond the great Red Sea, in a land called Egypt, where I was sold into slavery as a young child.

I really enjoyed this book. I know that some people do not like when the author puts words into Jesus’ mouth, but I like when they take creative license so that the reader can get a feel for what it was like in the days when God was in the flesh. It helps create imagery in my own mind about the personal experiences that the people had in those times.  I thought that it was done in a way just as any other historical fiction novel would be done and that is what I kept in mind as I read though the book.
I felt like Ted Dekker did a wonderful job of using the majority of scripture to keep true to history while adding just enough to help create the story line. Make sure to read through the beginning section “A Journey into A.D. 30” as well as the author’s note because it will help to explain some of the background of this novel and his thoughts on how he stayed true to scripture.

A.D. 30 takes us on a journey with Maviah, a woman who has been cast out, spent her life as a slave, and has felt abandoned, unwanted and unloved.; a woman who feels unworthy but now holds the fate of her city on her shoulders.
Along her journey, she meets Yeshua, a “mystic”, a teacher; a man whom she disbelieves in the beginning, but as she listens to his teachings and witnesses his miracles, he changes her life in ways she never thought possible.
Through Maviah, we see a wonderful story of ugliness become a beautiful journey of being saved in the love and freedom of Jesus.

The climax of the book is phenomenal. Make sure you have time to sit down and finish it once you get to the last 4 chapters of the book.

Faith. A child’s faith. When the storm came, to trust in Yeshua who was one with the Father, even as a young child might trust a perfectly loving father. This was what it meant to believe.

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This next section was added after my book club met and includes some thoughts and opinions of others on the book and how the discussion may have changed my perspective of the book. 

There was agreement in the fact that we enjoyed the characters and the development of them. Some had the opinion that the romance within the novel was cheesy and others thought it was not too bad. Phasa was a fan favorite.
There was some discussion that the reader, as a woman, could certainly tell that the novel was written from a man’s perspective but trying to portray a woman’s perspective. Most of us agreed that it was still well written, but there were certain elements and events that we thought would not have been how it truly happened.

All of the ladies in the book club thoroughly enjoyed reading this and would recommend it as well. Many agreed that it was a well done work of historical fiction and that the author took great care in his writings of actions and conversations involving Jesus.

But I came to know him as my master, the one who saved me. Yeshua, who showed me the way into a far greater kingdom within and among and at hand, full of power and wonder.

I highly recommend this book. Ted Dekker is a fantastic author and this is a wonderful book on the historical aspects during Jesus’ time on Earth and the portrayal of what it means to become a follower of Christ.

A.D. 30: A Novel

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The Rules of Magic

The Rules of Magic: A Novel (The Practical Magic Series)
By Alice Hoffman
Published: 2017, Simon & Schuster
Genre: Historical, Literary

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Once upon a time, before the whole world changed, it was possible to run away from home, disguise who you were, and fit into polite society. The children’s mother had done exactly that.

This book was a little bit different then I was expecting. Perhaps I’ve read Harry Potter one too many times, but I was expecting a more whimsical, light-hearted book with a lot more magic within its pages. The book was good, it just was not what I had thought I would be reading.

As we weave in and out of the Owens siblings lives, we get to see how the choices of our parents can shape the way of our own future; how the decisions we make for our own children can change what may become of their own lives. The book spans quite a few years of their lives so we get to see how all those choices molded and shaped their future, all the way into the latter part of their lives.

There are a few things in the book that I found that did not line up with my beliefs and I chose to skip some of those sections; skipping those sections did not, however, take away from the essence of the story line.

Overall, it was a decent book; the writing was well done. It just was not one that I really enjoyed because of some of the content.

The Rules of Magic: A Novel (The Practical Magic Series)

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Tuesday Thoughts

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season!

Merry Christmas from my family.

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It has been quite some time since I have written a blog review. I have continued reading and reading and reading, of course. However, the holidays really snuck up on me and I ran out of time to do any reviews on those books.

Here is a list of the books I read and did not have time to review with a small commentary~~~~

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: A Novel~~ This was a wonderful insight into anxiety and depression and the affect it can have on a life. As we watch Eleanor’s past unfold, we learn how a person’s past can shape their future. I definitely recommend this book, especially to anyone who is looking for more insight into anxiety and depression.
The Lying Game: A Novel~~ The twists and turns of the lives of 4 women, who share the secret of one mistake made on a fateful night makes for an intense, page-turning novel. I read this book quickly because it pulled you in and you had to know the answer. I recommend it to anyone who likes a “lighter” suspense and thriller novel.
Finding Father Christmas (Father Christmas Series 1)~~ This was the book for my book club in December. It was a very light and fun read for the holiday season that takes us through Miranda’s search for the truth about her father and her spiritual journey along the way.
Christmas Jars~~ One evening, the apartment of Hope Jensen is burglarized and in the wake of it, a jar full of coins and bills is left on her doorstep. In the quest to find out where the jar came from so she can give proper thanks, Hope finds more than just a Good Samaritan. This was a fantastic, light read to finish up the holiday season and I definitely recommend it.

Let me know if you read one of them and what you think. 🙂

I am working on these 2 books currently and I will post my reviews of them when they are completed.

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I thought a great way to start out the new year would be to do a book giveaway!
I recently read the new book by John Green, Turtles All the Way Down.

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You can read my book review here; I thought it was a wonderful and real look into the mind of someone who struggles with anxiety. I highly recommend it for anyone who either struggles with anxiety or knows someone who struggles with anxiety. And for that reason, I am offering it as a giveaway.

In order to enter, you will need to go to my Instagram account and find the most recent posting about Turtles All the Way Down and follow the instructions on the post about how to enter the giveaway.

Happy New Year! 

Turtles All The Way Down

Turtles All the Way Down
By John Green
Published: 2017, Dutton Books
Genre: YA Fiction, Social & Family Issues, Mental Health

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Man can do what he wills, but he cannot will what he wills
~Arthur Schopenhauer~

There has been a lot of chatter about this latest book from John Green all over the book world. Seeing that the subject matter was mental health, a subject that is surrounded by shame and stigma, I knew that I needed to get my hands on it and read it.

Throughout the book, we get to experience Aza’s life as she learns to live with anxiety. The author gives us a bird’s eye view on how it affects everything in her life; family relationships, friendships, romantic interests, school, physical health and even her grief.

The fear had mostly sweated out of me, but as I walked from the cafeteria to history class, I couldn’t stop myself from taking out my phone and rereading the horror story that is the “Human Microbiota” Wikipedia article.

Everyone experiences moments of fear and feelings of being anxious. Not everyone can turn off those moments and feelings. John Green describes the experiences of those that cannot turn off those moments and how it affects every single minute of your life.

Everyone in the entire world needs to read this eye-opening book.
John Green does a phenomenal job of giving an inside look into the mind of someone who struggles daily with mental health. He does it beautifully with compassion, understanding, and grace. As someone who struggles with mental health issues (anxiety and depression), it was refreshing to see a book written from MY perspective. Many people often do not understand the struggles and what truly goes on within the mind of someone who fights mental health illness every single day. John Green finally gives us that viewpoint; and he does it in a way that anyone can understand, from teenagers to 90 year old grandparents.

As I washed and rebandaged it in the bathroom, I started at myself. I would always be like this, always have this within me. There was no beating it. I would never slay the dragon, because the dragon was also me. My self and the disease were knotted together for life.

I will be doing a giveaway for my copy of the book on my Instagram account. Be sure to follow me HERE, for your chance to win my “signed copy” of Turtles All The Way Down by John Green.

Turtles All the Way Down

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The Alice Network

 The Alice Network: A Novel
By Kate Quinn
Published: 2017, William Morrow – Harper Collins
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

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1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Claire is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family.

1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she’s recruited to work as a spy.

Thirty years, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. That is until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn’t heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth….no matter where it leads.

This novel is phenomenal. I cannot say enough good things about this book.
Kate Quinn does a wonderful job weaving the stories of 2 strong women in and out of the past and the present. The author has created a book hugely based upon real characters and events while creating fictional characters and events to expand the story and still staying true to the actual history on record.
I loved how Kate Quinn interlaced the French and German languages within the novel; it gives the reader a rich, authenticity to the history and era of the story-line.

Lili already was extraordinary, Eve thought. Not like me. The thought held no envy–it was what made them both good at what they did now. Lili’s job was to be anyone, to shift with a few tricks of posture or grammar from one persona to another, whether seamstress or laundress or cheese seller. And if Lili’s job was to be anyone, Eve’s was to be no one, to be unobserved and unnoticed at all times.

I knew of spies, women spies, within the Great War, but I had no previous knowledge of The Alice Network. It was interesting to read about the courage and bravery that these women had. They wanted to be able to make a difference in the war and fight for their own country, but were not allowed to because they were not men. Instead, they helped create a network of women spies in an effort to do their part to fight against the Germans. It is an incredible peek into a sliver of historical events and heroes that often went unnoticed and unappreciated.

I would love to give you more details of the book, but I don’t want to ruin this unique work of historical fiction. You just need to purchase it and read it for yourself. Trust me.

NOTE* There is some language in the book but it leads to the authenticity of the characters and the time era of the story. There is also some adult content as well as a couple of scenes that can be a bit gruesome if you are sensitive to those things. 

The Alice Network is a work of art with words. I highly recommend this extraordinary piece of literature to everyone, especially to those that love historical fiction.

The Alice Network is up for voting as Best Historical Fiction Book of 2017. You can vote for it here.

The Alice Network: A Novel

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The Road to Paradise

The Road to Paradise: A Vintage National Parks Novel
By Karen Barnett
Published: 2017, WaterBrook
Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction, Romance

The Road to Paradise was the book that won the most votes for my monthly book club; and it did even come down to a tie breaker. It was not my vote and I was not very interested in reading it, but I am glad to be a part of a book club that helps introduce me to books I probably would have never read otherwise.

The promised view of the mountain peak waited, cloaked in mist like a tissue-wrapped gift not ready to be unveiled. Margie Lane drew a small, leather-bound journal from her pocket and braced it against her knee to jot down the words flooding her mind. The lush treetops to the valley below inspired her.

The Road to Paradise is not in a genre I usually particularly care for but it did have a lot of positive elements within its pages. It was a wonderful light book to read after some of the more deeper novels I have read lately.

The writing in the novel was beautiful. The descriptions the author created of the scenery and outdoor environments surrounding Mt. Rainier were breathtaking and gave you a feeling of being right there in the shadow of the mountain. Karen Barnett  weaves her obvious love of God’s nature throughout the story, giving a rich depth to her novel.

The romance aspects in the book were somewhat predictable and cheesy, as most romance novels are (which is why I don’t usually particularly chose this genre).
I did enjoy watching the unfolding of one of the main characters and their faith journey.

It was quite refreshing that the lead character, Margie, had such a deep love for God and that she was not willing to waver on that, even for the love of a man. I relished that the antagonist received consequences for his behaviors in the story rather than just having it brushed aside.

The ending was a wee bit foretold, however it was pleasant to see that the story turned out how it should have.

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This next section was added after my book club met and includes some thoughts and opinions of others on the book and how the discussion may have changed my perspective of the book. 

Many of the ladies in my book club agreed that the book was beautifully written and that it was refreshing to read a book with a minimal story line. It delightful to read a book that had descriptions about places that the majority of us had visited at some point in our lives. Yes, some of the romance was cheesy and some of the story was a little bit predictable, but we enjoyed reading a book that wasn’t deep and did not require a whole lot of brain function. 🙂

The majority consensus was that the book was a decent read that most of us enjoyed.

The Road to Paradise: A Vintage National Parks Novel

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