Friday, March 29, 2013

Book Review- Back Before Dark

Four friends pedal as fast as they can to make it home before dark, when they see a backpack on top of a van. Gordy, wanting to offer his assistance, races to inform the person. Right before there eyes, in broad daylight, their friend is abducted by a masked assailant. Cooper, chasing after the van, tries to keep up but can't out pedal the car. Hours elapse into days without further news of Gordy. Though the police are doing all they can, Cooper and the gang turn to their own investigative methods. 

The author created a strong and unique plot like I have never seen before. The cast was well described throughout the story. With the characters many different personalities they added a lot of dimension. The strong emotions that were presented throughout this book were so real. It was heartbreaking seeing how Cooper handled his grief, but beautiful at the same time. His love for his cousin was so compelling, though it drove him to do some reckless things. 

It was beautiful to see the deep relationships with Jesus these teenagers had. While I shared Coopers grief, sympathized with Lunk's hard lifestyle, or Gordy's terrifying ordeal you would easily find me in tears. This was a very emotional book. I enjoyed all the suspense, action, mystery, lessons, and tears that went with reading this book. 

Though the book spanned only a couple of days it felt much longer to me. I would not say that the story was dragged on, but the amount of action that took place made the time frame seem longer than reality. 

I loved how though the author intended this book to be read by boys and I was able to enjoy it all the same. I would give Back Before Dark a 5 out of 5. 

I received an ARC copy, for free, from Zondervan in exchange for this independent  and unbiased review.

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

...If You Came Over to My House...

If you came over to my house today, I'd greet you with a big smile. Depending on how I perceive your personality I'd either give you a hug, half hug with a kiss on the cheek, or a handshake. I would stand  awkwardly silent hoping you're a talkative person. To break the ice I'd ask the usual questions How are you? How's school? 

Most likely I'd give you a little tour of our apartment, pointing out the bathroom, and ending in my room. My room would most likely be clean. I'd tell you about myself, that yes I'm actually fifteen. I don't go to school-no I mean I'm home-schooled. We'd talk and get to know each other better. We'd find our common grounds and our differences. We'd talk about our dreams and future plans.

By now I'd probably take some Instagram pictures of us and what we're doing. (Hashtagging and tagging away:)

I'd tell you that I can't wait to be done with homeschooling. How I do not like math or Chemistry, but the career path I want to pursue is all about those subjects. I'd tell you that I love to read and show you my extensive library. If you're a book worm as well we'd talk about our favorite books, scenes, and characters.

I'd tell you I'm in a blog slump and ask for ideas. We might even talk about our favorite blogs/ bloggers.

I'd probably smile a lot, and listen more than I talk. We'd laugh at random things till our sides hurt. We'd lay down and just soak up the no longer awkward silence. I'd tell you how great it is to have a friend like you to talk to. We'd be true friends and keep in touch long after your visit.

“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It's splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Book Review- Love in the Balance

Love in the Balance is a tale of tough decisions. Molly has dreamed of a life where’d she have everything, and marry handsome Bailey as well. The problem is she can only have one or the other. Much to her parent’s delight, stranger Edward sweeps into town and Molly off her feet. Edward may just be the answer to her needs, but what about Bailey?

I’ll have to admit I had my judgments about this book. I was already predicting the end without even having read it. Regina sure did surprise me! She crafted a story plot like none other I’ve ever read. When presented with the option of rich guy or poor guy each author chooses the poor guy, but with the right amount of twists she kept you in the dark well into the book. The author also included a strong voice in Christian fiction. The author did not sugar coat anything and it was beautiful to see the many spiritual struggles the characters faced and how the Lord worked everything out for their good in the end. 

One setback for me was that I never really bonded with Molly. Her many heartbreaking situations should have crushed me, but I wasn’t that moved. It was as if I did not know her well enough to sympathize much with her. I was more concerned what would become of the hero in this book, Bailey then the main character. Bailey was definitely a lovable character. He was portrayed as a young man that wants to do what is right but faces many temptations. I admired his deep relationship with the Lord. It was of great benefit to see a young man so devoted to his God. 

Having read both of the author’s books, I enjoyed my return visit to Lockhart, Texas and cannot wait to see what’s next. I would give Love in the Balance a 4 out of 5.

I received this book for free, from Litfuse Publicity, in exchange for this independent and unbiased review. 

Enter Today - 3/18- 4/3!
Love in the Balance Kindle Fire Giveaway

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Sunday's Sermon

Sunday's outfit- "feeling 'spring-y'" Instagram picture

-Sundays passage was centered on Genesis 32:22-32; Exodus 3:15. The teaching started with Jacob's name change to Israel. He was so focused on getting a blessing from the Lord that he did not remember he was already chosen. 
-Many years of his life Jacob lived up to his name, he who grasps the heel, deceiver. He was working so hard to get the rights of firstborn that belonged to his older brother Esau. What he forgot was that God had previously made a pact with him in Genesis 25:23 “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.”
-A pact is a (legal) agreement between two parties. A key note that was presented was that emotions do not matter in a pact/ covenant. It does not matter if you are tired, sad, discouraged you still have to keep up your side of the agreement. 
-As the Lord made a pact with Jacob he made one with us as well. The day we invited Jesus into our hearts we committed to making Him our Savior, our everything. The good thing is that when we invited Jesus into our hearts He committed to loving us, helping us and always being there for us. As humans we do not have the capacity to maintain our part in the covenant, but He can. God's faithfulness is so unimaginably huge! 
- Back to Jacob. When the angel comes to visit him it is to change a few things in his life. God was reassuring his love for Jacob and his promise. As Christians we should not live like the person we use to be -like Jacob. We do not have to live our lives as we did before (lying, stealing, and cheating) We have to accept our new identity in Christ like Jacob's new name to take full advantage our the covenant. We have to remember that we have already been chosen. We already have a pact with the Lord. We do not have to fight for what is already ours. We do not have to be discouraged thinking we are failures because we slip. God's grace is sufficient! 
- Many people are still living like Jacob and the Lord comes to remind us who we are in Him (Israel)
- If we continue having the old (Jacob) mind set, that is exactly what you'll be. 
-In 1 Peter 2:9 it says we are chosen and holy people... We have to learn to live by what God has established for us.
- When we receive who we are in the Lord is when we will truly live a blessed and victorious life!

-Praise the Lord for the promises kept! Don't live like Jacob any more live like Israel!

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Monday, March 18, 2013

The Bible Giveaway- Winner!

"From Executive Producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett comes The Bible — an epic 10-part miniseries retelling stories from the Scriptures for a whole new generation. Breathtaking in scope and scale, The Bible features powerful performances, exotic locales and dazzling visual effects that breathe spectacular life into the dramatic tales of faith and courage from Genesis through Revelation. This historic television event is sure to entertain and inspire the whole family!

The winner of the giveaway is...

Aili who said "75%........ This show looks great. I'll be sure to watch it with my bible on my side, making sure they relate." 

Congratulations! Email me your info here

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Friday, March 15, 2013

Kianna's "Portraits"

I am finally writing a non book related post! I've been in writers block mode for too long. Last Saturday the weather was beautiful. We decided to go to the park and we met up with Kianna. Since our little sisters were busy swinging and our fathers pushing we decided to have an impromptu photo shoot.

We both agreed it is way easier watching Jasmine* doing the posing, than actually doing it ourselves. It was fun none the less!

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Book Review and Winner! - Chasing Jupiter

Rachel Coker, seventeen year-old author, has written an emotionally stirring tale about a sixteen year-old girl who holds the world on her shoulders. As we journey with Scarlett and her hilariously somewhat dysfunctional family we learn with her that God is in control not us. Through him we can face life's challenges with peace and security knowing that He has it all in control.

Buy at Amazon
5 out 5 Stars
224 pgs. 
I beyond enjoyed this book. It was so sad to have to part with it as I finished the last page. The main character Scarlett was such a realistic character. You felt her burdens, you rejoiced in her happiness, and  immediately befriended her. I even cried as the Lord began working in her heart.

The pace of the story was nice and enjoyable. I was able to relax after a long day and pick up Chasing Jupiter and be lulled into a state of relaxation. There was such rich detail that the author portrayed throughout the book. From the peach scented orchards, to the sticky counters, the oily cream smeared surfaces, and we can't forget the yummy peanut butter:)

The plot was filled with fun times, tragic moments, cute romantic times, and even deep spiritual moments. I enjoyed how the author was able to appropriately mix each one in without overdoing. The clean romance was a refreshing aspect. The interaction between boy and girl were innocent, friendly, and so real life.

Being that Rachel is seventeen, I thought she was going to have a very humorous silly kind of story plot, but was I surprised! Both her books Interrupted and Chasing Jupiter are written from a maturity and wisdom that seem to be beyond one so young. She is a very talented author and I look forward to seeing what the Lord has in store for her!

I'd most definitely recommend Chasing Jupiter and give it a 5 out of 5. I received Chasing Jupiter for free from Zondervan in exchange for this independent and unbiased review.

You can read my fun interview with Rachel here.

Other Reviewers:
ADDLibrarian, Blooming With BooksBook Worm Reading, CTF Devourer, Gillian Adams, Jessica Laurie, Jill Williamson, Labor Not In Vain, Rachel Rae, A Slightly Nerdy Bookworm,  Shadow Writer Wold, Worthy To Read.

Winner is...

Carolyn Hills!

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Saturday, March 09, 2013

Book Review- Grave Consequences

Grave Consequences, the second book to the The Grand Tour Series, is a story of finding your identity in a world were your mold is set and finding your place in life.

As the party journeys into the grandest and historically rich places, France, Austria, and Italy, danger continues to trail behind them. Not only are they in physical danger, but Cora's heart is as well. She must choose between her heart's desires and her fathers wishes.  Cora is faced with many decisions and each choice has the potential of bearing grave consequences. 

Following directly after the previous book, Glamorous Illusions,  it allowed the reader to pick up the pieces and enjoy the new adventures. The historical depth was a huge bonus to the story. As we traveled throughout the European continent it was as if we ourselves were touring and seeing these grandeur sights aswell. The mysterious enemy that appeared throughout their journeys provided for a tremendous suspenseful edge. 

Written in Cora's perspective allowed for the reader to see her many internal struggles. Her many inner conflicts in her once in a life time fairy tale world added the necessary depth to make Cora all the more realistic. Provided that Cora lived all her life on a farm she seemed to adapt rather quickly to the society life which she knew nothing of before. Her many escapades provided laughs, sighs of frustration, tears and cheers. 

This novel had a nice balance of romance, history, and suspense. I would have definitely loved for more spiritual topics. The character did a lot of things in her own strength and would have avoided a lot of heartache had she called to God in the first place. 

Though I would recommend this books for its exceptional writing style I would however, not recommend it if  you have yet to read the first book to the series. I look forward to reading the last installment to the series and extending my European tour with the beloved characters. I give Grave Consequences a 4 out of 5.

I received a complimentary copy from Lifuse in exchange for my independent and unbiased review.

Enter Today | 3/4 - 3/23!
 Lisa T Bergren's Grave Consequences iPad Mini Giveaway

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Monday, March 04, 2013

Author Interview and Giveaway!

Today I have something different for you readers. I have long since admired this girl. She is super funny and so very inspiring. I have read both her books which she's written and published before the age of 17! Here is a glimpse of Rachel and her personality in this different and unique interview.

Hello, Rachel and welcome to Surrendering All of Me. I am so honored and excited to have you grace the blog today. Can you give us a little information about yourself? Sure! Hello, there, my name is Rachel and I’m seventeen years old. I’ve been homeschooled all my life, and I wrote my first short story when I was about eleven or twelve. When I was fourteen, I wrote my first full-length novel, “Interrupted: Life Beyond Words”, which was published with Zondervan two short years later! Since then, I have written a second book, “Chasing Jupiter”, and gotten to experience so many amazing opportunities because of my writing career! I have two younger sisters and I live in the middle of nowhere. I own my own portrait photography business and teach piano in my downtime! And of course I read lots of books and hang out with friends just like any other teenage girl.

Which do you prefer to read books or write them? Oh how am I supposed to choose? I want to cheat and say “both!” But truthfully, I do think there’s a time and place for both in my life. I love writing books because of the freedom and creativity it inspires in me. To create characters of my own and take them on their own adventures… But I also will always be in love with reading the written word! Nothing relaxes me more than sitting down with a good book and reading by lamplight in the evenings.

Can you tell us two or three things that most readers don't know about you?
1) I own over twenty pairs of shoes (!)
2) When I was little, my only goal in life was to grow up to win the national spelling bee (something I failed horribly at)
3) I have an autographed photo of Julie Andrews in my room from when I wrote a fan letter to her when I was eight or nine

Name one of your favorite things about someone in your family. I love my dad’s dry sense of humor.

What main character is more like you Allie from Interrupted or Scarlett from Chasing Jupiter? I think that they’re both very much like me at different points in my life. When I was younger, I was very much like Allie from my first book. I was going through a bit of a rough point in life after my uncle passed away from a brain tumor, and I was very confused as to why God allows suffering in our lives, and writing that book really helped me to heal and come to terms with all that. But I tended to be a bit moody, bookish, and I would practice the piano for hours a day and let out all my emotions into music and words. Then, as I grew a bit older and all this insane stuff started happening to me with my book being published and appearing on TV and in magazines and getting flown across the country for book signings, I started really feeling the pressure of being who everyone else wants me to be. Where would I go to college? What kind of book would I write next? How would I make my mark on the world? I think all those frustrations really came out in my development of Scarlett’s character. She’s searching for herself in a crazy, mixed-up world and she’s not quite sure who she’s supposed to be. It was very much like my life at the time.

How do you come up with your characters name (especially unique ones like Alcyone?) Usually I just randomly pick cool names that appeal to me, sadly enough. But the story of Alcyone’s name was a bit more interesting. I had always had her as “Allie”, and she had always enjoyed looking up at the stars and sort of sharing that love of the heavenly sky with her mother. And so one day I was looking up different constellations and stars and came across the star “Alcyone”, which was named after a Greek nymph. And then it just sort of hit me. Of course Allie’s mother was a dreamer and a lover of history and astronomy and a bit out-of-touch with reality. So why wouldn’t she name her daughter after a Greek nymph and beautiful bright star? It just fit.

If you could spend an evening with one historical person, who would it be and why? Besides Jesus? Haha… Mmmm, I know I should come up with someone incredibly smart and talented and who I could learn from the feet of, but I think I still have to go with James Dean. Why? Because I have a huge crush, and I just want to eat ice cream with him and ride in his car (preferably at a semi-safe speed) and wear cute little circle skirts and cat-eye sunglasses. It would be dreamy. ;)

What's your favorite line from any movie? You know in the new version of Pride and Prejudice when Mr. Collins is sitting at the table picking at his food and he makes a strangely solemn face and says, “What excellent boiled potatoes”? That line gets me every time. I die laughing. Not sure why… More seriously, I suppose, I absolutely adore the dialog between Bryce and his grandfather in the movie version of “Flipped” (which was an excellent book by Wendelin van Draanen). There’s one line the grandfather says that just melts my heart every time I hear it: “Some of us get dipped in flat, some in gloss, some in satin. But every once in a while, you find someone who’s iridescent, and when you do, nothing will ever compare.”

If someone made a movie of your life would it be a drama, a comedy, a romantic-comedy, action film, or science fiction? A comedy! As long as you’re viewing life in the right light, how could it be anything different?

Is there a particular movie that you preferred over the book version? “Les Miserables.” Some people are going to hate me for saying that, but I did not care for the book at all. But then the movie made me cry! I think it was the music…

Do you buy a book by the cover? Um, yes. Sometimes. With old books, I don’t usually care as much, but I’m not going to go into Barnes and Noble and pick a book off the shelf with some kind of creepy eye or underaged couple making out on the front! No, I’m going to go for something with a cool vintage look or a pretty dress on the cover. Sounds shallow, but more people should just admit that they do that. ;) Although, I do always read the back before I buy!

Do you have plans for a new book, or is that top secret confidential information? Oh, I have plans alright. ;) I’m not revealing what it’s about just yet, but hopefully I will soon!

All good things must come to an end:( Can you share some words of encouragement for fellow writers and teenage girls? Sure! I would encourage other young people, writers or not, to just keep doing what they love and not working too hard to please anyone else. As long as you’re passionate about whatever you’re being called to do in life, other people will come up behind you and support you! Don’t let others look down on you because you’re young, but use your youth as an opportunity to attack life with a passion and energy that not too many middle-aged adults still have. Remember to give God the glory for all your successes, and to still take the time to sit back and enjoy life. (:

Here's the book blurb: Scarlett Blaine's life in 1960s Georgia isn't always easy, especially given her parents' financial struggles and the fights surrounding her sister Juli's hippie lifestyle. Then there's her brother, Cliff. While Scarlett loves him more than anything, there's no denying his unique behavior leaves Cliff misunderstood and left out. So when he wishes for a rocket to Jupiter, Scarlett agrees to make it happen, no matter how crazy the idea might be. Raising the rocket money means baking pies, and the farmer's son, Frank, agrees to provide the peaches if Scarlett will help him talk to Juli. The problem is, Scarlett really enjoys her time with Frank, and finds herself wondering if, someday, they could be more than friends. Just as she thinks everything might be going her way, Cliff suffers an accident that not only affects the rocket plans, but shakes Scarlett's view of God. As the summer comes to an end, Scarlett must find a way to regain what she's lost, but also fulfill a promise to launch her brother's dream.

One winner gets the chance to win Rachel's second novel Chasing Jupiter! Just leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway. Giveaway is available to U.S. residents only. The winner must contact me by  sending me an email

For extra entries: 

-Be a follower +1
-Follow Rachel +1 
-Add my button to your blog +1
-Post about this giveaway +2

(please leave a separate comment for each extra entry)

Giveaway ends on Monday, March 11, 2013 at 12:00 p.m. (Eastern time). Winner will be chosen through

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Friday, March 01, 2013

Book Review- The Return of Cassandra Todd

The great outdoors a place of tranquility, serenity, and comfort suddenly becomes the backdrop to one of the most action filled riveting tales of the day. Using their environment as a cover up Cassandra, her son, and Turner flee from their tormenting pasts. This is no child's game of hide-and-seek but rather survival of the fittest. It takes all of Turner's boy-scout skills and what little faith he has in God to keep them alive.

This novel presented many valuable lessons. Whether it was basic first aid knowledge or the profound revelation that God is in control, it allowed the reader to be fed intellectually and spiritually. The realization of God’s sovereignty and omniscience was the poignant lesson for this reader.

Having read both novels, Nelson’s literary progress is evident. Whereas his debut was a romantic historical, this one is a suspenseful contemporary. The story was a worthwhile read because of its unique plot, edge of your seat suspense, and many spiritual and intellectual lessons. If you enjoy these three factors in a book you are sure to enjoy The Return of Cassandra Todd.

I received this book for free from Glass Roads in exchange for this independent and unbiased review. 

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