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I'm a mommy, wife, chauffeur, zookeeper, reader and book reviewer

Monday, December 27, 2010

Looking back

Not more than two years ago, I was thinking that reading was unproductive. All my life I have loved reading, but after I had kids I somehow convinced myself that my precious time could not be wasted with useless reading. Then I researched becoming a writer and found “good writers are avid readers.” Uh-oh. So I read books 5-7 of Harry Potter and wasn’t sure where to go next. I tried Debbie Macomber, but I’m just not a Chick Lit girl.

Thankfully, Facebook had the answer. As I reconnected with old friends, I discovered I really enjoy military and police thrillers (Clive Cussler, James R. Hannibal, Michael Angley). Thus began the resolution to read a book each month and post a review—to prove I had read the book, tell friends about great new authors, and to hone my writing skills.

If I read one book each month over the last year, I would have read twelve books. I reviewed my blog and surpassed my goal with fourteen books read and reviewed! Ok, I read a couple that I didn’t review, but I have definitely rediscovered my love for reading. Military and police thrillers, nonfiction, children’s, middle grade, and fantasy—it’s been a lot of fun. I also discovered that some publishing companies (Thomas Nelson Booksneeze.com, Water Brook Multnomah Bloggingforbooks.com) will give you free books if you will blog your review. After getting a new phone this year, I downloaded the Kindle app and enjoy free books through the Vessel Project. Thanks to these resources, I think my love for reading is on the verge of obsession.

I’m looking forward to another year filled with reading and writing. You can also find my reviews on Amazon.com, Christianbook.com, Barnesandnoble.com, Goodreads.com under Jenny Rose.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I Quit!: Stop Pretending Everything Is Fine and Change Your LifeI Quit!: Stop Pretending Everything Is Fine and Change Your Life by Geri Scazzero

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I Quit! Stop Pretending Everything is Fine and Change your Life by Geri Scazzero

This book is for those who think they have to live two lives: the Christian one and the other one. This book is for those who think they have to put on a Christian fa├žade. This book is for those who think the Christian life is all about sacrifice. This book is for those who think the Christian life is fake. I also think this book is for adults with self-esteem issues.

I originally saw this book advertized in a MOPs magazine. When it became available free on Kindle, I downloaded it. While the things Scazzero was doing as a pastor’s wife and mother, she did them because she had to and she felt should “rather than a gift freely given. [She] mistakenly believed [she] didn’t have a choice.” All of us can get burned out doing things we think we should, because other people think we should, or because we think we have to. This book is about identifying falsehoods, errors in thinking, while identifying God’s call on our life and reclaiming our identity in Christ—the person God has called us to be.

Some have commented that this book does not show a balanced view between sacrifice and putting others first while saying no when necessary and appropriate. Some have commented that this book is too personal and the author vents and rants too much like a therapy session. I will agree that some of her examples and comments seem a little over the top. But rarely can you take 100% of a self-help type book and apply it exactly as the author describes. We are different people with different circumstances. Glean what you can and apply as best fits your situation.

I could relate to many of the examples Scazzero cited as well as the warning signs she mentions. Bottom line—the author is trying to communicate that we shouldn’t be so worried about what others think of us to completely ignore all our wants and needs and be fake just to make others happy. If we are unhappy, we need to identify why—this alone could be difficult and be a bigger, deeper issue than what it would seem.

I also think this is the best book I have read that can help adults with self-esteem issues.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

If you liked A Wrinkle in Time

On the Run (Elijah Project)On the Run by Bill Myers

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

On the Run by Bill Myers

Sixteen year-old Zach Dawkins and his thirteen year-old sister Piper are on their way to school with their six year-old little brother Elijah when they witness an accident. A little girl chasing after her run away puppy are both hit by a car. While all eyes are on the little girl, little Elijah picks up the puppy, sits on a curb rocking and whispering. Piper realizes Elijah is not with them and sees him on the curb with the puppy. She’s not the only one. A TV news van arrives on the scene and captures, to Piper’s horror, the lifeless puppy get up. It’s happened—again.

Thus begins an adventure of three kids on the run from an organization that has been tracking Elijah. In the process, they are separated from their parents who are kidnapped by the same organization. The henchmen chasing the kids are comical almost to the point of cartoonish. Throw in a bus ride, crazy inventions and hot-wiring an RV and you have the makings of an exciting adventure.

This is a hard-to-put-down read. If you enjoyed A Wrinkle in Time, you will love this as well.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Christian Children's writing has improved in 60+ years

Newspaper Caper (Tweener Press Adventure Series, 1)Newspaper Caper by Max Elliot Anderson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Newspaper Caper by Max Elliot Anderson

Tom Stevens is a twelve-year-old ambitious salesman in Rock Island, Illinois. He recruits his two best friends to assist him with not one but three newspaper routes in order to help them train for football tryouts in the fall and to save up money to buy a car to distribute more papers. All this during summer vacation. Ambitious. Salesman. Yep.

In the wee hours of the morning before sunrise, the three boys stumble across some suspicious activity. A tow truck begins to hook up an expensive car in someone’s driveway along the paper route. But when the tow truck driver sees the boys, he drives off in the truck, leaving the car behind. Later, Tom reads of a string of car thefts around the area in the papers the boys prepare to deliver. He begins to see a connection between the local car repair shop and the thefts. Developing his detective skills, Tom and his friends piece clues together. Where are the cars going? Why don’t the cops see the clues the way Tom does?

This is a fun, easy read for kids ages 8-12. Though Christian, the message is subtle and not heavy at all. There is excitement, adventure, with a few twists and turns for added fun. I will definitely recommend Newspaper Caper by Max Elliot Anderson to my daughter, nephew, and my friends with kids in the age group.

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Keep in mind this book was originally pubbed in 1940

The Swamp Robber (Sugar Creek Gang Series)The Swamp Robber by Paul Hutchens

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sugar Creek Gang: The Swamp Robber by Paul Hutchens

William Jasper “Bill” Collins and his five friends are growing up in a small rural town. Bill and his friend Roy “Dragonfly” Gilbert discover a hidden disguise while out fishing one summer afternoon. The next day, police report a bank robber on the loose and possibly in the area. Bill and Dragonfly get together with their Sugar Creek Gang—Little Jimmy Foote, Big Jim, Leslie “Poetry” Thompson, and Daniel “Circus” Browne—to discuss what they can do about it. Mix in a missing old man from the hills, his long-lost nephew, and the resident drunk and it adds up to quite an adventure for a group of boys, all but one under the age of twelve.

Overall, this is a fun and easy read. I realize this is a Christian book, but still I think it weighs a little heavy on the preachy side. I would recommend The Swamp Robber by Paul Hutchens to any of my friends with boys or girls ages 8-12.

View all my reviews

Monday, November 1, 2010

October's book review post

Go to http://http//jennyrosewriter.blogspot.com/2010/11/when-your-child-is-hurting-by-glynnis.html to read my review of Glynnis Whitwer's When Your Child Is Hurting. It is a great Bible study.

Look for Glynnis Whitwer on Facebook or at her blog http://glynniswhitwer.blogspot.com/

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Can I do that?

In 2003, I started getting bored with walking. I dabbled in jogging and by early 2007 I got curious about 5K's. Could a former nerd who got B's in P.E. do a 5K? Now I have never been athletic. NEVER. Never played a sport. Never ran. Never jogged much except Junior High P.E.

I looked into various 5K's over the years and tried different training programs. I didn't relish driving into downtown Dallas at 6AM or running in the heat of Texas summer. Seven-day-a-week training schedules didn't work for this stay-at-home-mom. Then I stumbled upon the Couch-to-5K. Three-days-a-week I can do. While I wasn't a couch potato, being a non-runner and a busy mom, this program really appealed to me.

This year, 2010, Lantana held its first 5K. My own "backyard." I can do that.

I did. This morning--September 25, 2010--I finally accomplished my goal to complete a 5K. I wasn't fast. I finished in 33:48, 25th in my age group, 167th overall. But I did it!

So now what? Beat my time in another 5K. Use up my personal training appointments and move on to boot camps and martial arts. I want to see if I can take my fitness, my new-found "athleticism," to the next level and get my brown belt.

Yep, I think I can do that.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Pirates: The Midnight Passage by James R. Hannibal

I've been reading a few books over the past month. Island Ghost by Janet Randall (circa 1970) was a nice little adventure for girls. I didn't get past the first chapter of The Secret of Crossbone Hill by Wilson Gage (circa 1960). Then I enjoyed The Adventures of Long John Silver by Denis Judd which is a prequel to Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Honestly, this was all just killing time until I could get my hands on Pirates: The Midnight Passage by James R. Hannibal. It is a good old fashioned adventure that changed my view of pirates. When I thought of pirates, I thought of swashbuckling sword fights and murderous captains. No more. I have since discovered that Long John Silver didn't enjoy killing. Even Blackbeard asked permission before commanding a ship and its crew.

Jim Thatcher was different still. He valued life far above gold doubloons. He only killed for self-defense and when no other option was available. His first loyalty was to the crown of England, though that loyalty was shaken when the crown refused to recognize the letters of marque of the privateers. It was then that the lost treasure of Captain Morgan appealed to Captain Thatchr so that he and his men could buy their pardons and redeem their reputations before the crown.

Obtaining the map to the lost treasure was only the beginning of many deadly dangers that Jim Thatcher and the crew of the Adventure must survive. Underground water ways, strange gases, ancient puzzles, strange riddles, and forgotten civilizations await this band of pirates.

James R. Hannibal does a great job of describing the action. You'll swear you can see the gold glitter, hear the wind and water, feel the fire, and smell the ... you'll have to read it for yourself. What a thrill ride! Incredible! Suspenseful, vivid, humorous ... Pirates : The Midnight Passage is like a cross between National Treasure and Pirates of the Caribbean.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Adventures in Odyssey: Strange Journey Back by Paul McCusker

In my quest to research children's Christian sci-fi stories, I ordered a four-books-in-one Adventures in Odyssey. It appears to have been originally published in the 70's. Have you ever read one of those books that had a good beginning, a slow middle, and a good ending? This isn't one of those. In my opinion, this book was a bit depressing. It opens with ten-year-old Mark Prescott trying to settle into a new town--Odyssey. He and his mom moved because his dad walked out on them. Mark deals with the town bully and meets John Whittaker--the owner of Whit's End ice cream shop and a quirky inventor.

I understand that divorce is an issue that kids deal with, but I wonder if it could have been dealt with differently in the book or balanced out with something. I think the adventures in the book are too short. Little resolution is offered for any of the problems presented. Potential subplots are introduced, but the story ends too quickly and I'm not sure I am interested in reading the sequel.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Too Cute

Several weeks ago, me and my girls were getting ready to watch Mulan. My younger daughter proceeded to put on her shoes and go out the backdoor. I asked her what she was doing and she said she was going out to watch Daddy mow the lawn. I think there was a miscommunication (Mulan/mow the lawn).

Last night, my older daughter informed me that since there is a King size bed and a Queen size bed, there ought to be a Princess size bed. Incidentally, it should be bigger than a twin but smaller than a Queen.

Just too cute not to share ;)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Incredible read - loved it!!

Wraith by James R. Hannibal

The book begins just before the 9/11 tragedy. The American Air Force is running training missions in Saudi Arabia and Missouri and other locations around the globe. As news of the towers tragedy spreads, everyone pauses, trying to process the informaiton. But when the European squadrons are left out, Michael "Victor" Baron is frustrated in Germany feeling like his hands are tied. He has been denied to fly the B-2 Stealth. Not only is he not in America or in Iraq where the action is, but as an expert in Islamic Terrorism, he desperately wants to apply his knowledge and avenge the lost, innocent lives. However, he struggles with his deep respect for life and wonders where the fine line exists between avenging those lives and just wanting to flat out kill the terrorists he had studied so long.

But as the military life goes, Victor doesn't stay in Germany. After a training mission takes an unexpected turn, he is transferred to Missouri. Though he now realizes his dream to train with the B-2s, the opportunity is overshadowed by the accident and feeling like he is still benched from the war.

The war continues and airmen are called in from Missouri, Arizona, Louisiana, and Washington D.C. Victor answers the call to fight and to partake in a new top secret mission with brand new technoloby. While the test runs are mostly successful, the real mission encounters problem after problem that drops Victor in enemy territory staring down the enemy. Literally.

James R. Hannibal does a great job of creating memorable characters, building suspense, transitioning from different points of view and describing Air Force terminology in a way the average civilian can understand. I was only lost on a couple of flight maneuvers, but not for long. The hand-to-hand combat scenes gave me chills. This is an action-packed Air Force thriller that makes you wonder where the line is between reality and science-fiction. Though Wratih is set around the 9/11 tragedy, the focus in on the aftermath and the action the U.S. takes against the terrorists. With the different points of view, Hannibal shows the reader not only how different people reacted to the tragedy, but also how the Air Force works together as a team.

This is the first book I've read by Jim Hannibal. I loved it! I will definitely be following this author and reading more of his work.

Monday, June 7, 2010

God's Promises for Boys - book review

God's Promises for Boys by Jack Countryman and Amy Parker, Illustrated by Richard Watson.

This is a children's inspirational/devotional type book written mainly for boys. It covers a variety of topics that kids deal with every day. Each topic spans two pages and includes a short poem and three to four verses. I would say this book is most appropriate for school-aged children.

I don't have any boys, so I started reading this book to my daughters each night as our devotional. After a few pages, I told them that was enough for one night. My older daughter asked if she could continue reading on her won. She understood the message and liked the way it was presented. She loves the pictures and thinks they show what the verses talk about. I think this book presents a strong spiritual message because it is infused with scripture. Though we (my daugher and I) would recommend it to boys as some topics are written specifically for them, but girls (like my daughter) might enjoy it too as most of the themes relate to things all kids deal with.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com http://BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Friday, April 30, 2010

Another great series from Cussler

Serpent by Clive Cussler

The book begins in the prologue with a story based on a real shipwreck, the Italian luxury liner SS Andrea Doria, off the shor of Nantucket. Cussler devotes several pages to describing the events up to the collision with the MS Stockholm through the sinking of the Doria, building suspense and creating sympathy for the victims and survivors.

Cussler then whisks us away to Morocco to an archaeological dig including an underwater site. Here we are introduced to Nina Kirov--a tall blond diver who is the owner, president and sole employee of her marine archaeological consultancy firm called Mari-Time Research. While exploring the shoreline and a hidden lagoon, she discovered a carved head with unusual, yet familiar features. She returned to the main camp, reported her findings--except the carved head. That she saved for a friend of hers back home for further research. Nina sent a sketch to her friend at the University of Pennsylvania. Early morning of her third day at the site, Nina narrowly misses being massacred with the rest of the dig team. She escapes by way of the water and is then rescued by ...

Kurt Austin, the Special Assignments team leader in NUMA (National Underwater Marine Agency), is tall with blue eyes and nearly while hair. While rescuing the beautiful Nina Kirov from certain death, Austin unfortunately invites the assassins to finish her off and everyone else aboard the Nereus (a NUMA vessel). With odd of three to nine, Austin, his buddy Joe Zavala and the Captain of the Nereus manage to win against the ninja trained assassins.

Finishing up an assignment in the Yucatan of Mexico, Dr. Gamay Trout--another member of NUMA--has finally arranged a meeting with a VIP from the national anthropological museum in Mexico City. She asked Dr. Chi if there were any archaeological sites in the Yucatan that depicted marine life. Gamay expected to look at drawings of scallops, Dr. Chi showed her instead a nautical scene. While exploring the ruins, they stumbled upon chicleros who loot Mayan ruins and sell the artifacts. These chicleros didn't want their looting business interrupted by curious gringos.

So what does an Italian luxury liner, archaeological dig in Morocco, and chicleros in Mexico have in common? That's what Kurt Austin wants to know.

Enter Don Halcon. He is the owner of Halcon Industries which is an umbrella corporation with many divisions. Halcon is also apparrently a descendant of The Brotherhood--a group of fanatics formed in the 1400s to protect the honor of Christopher Columbus. A rumored artifact on the Andrea Doria, the carved head in Morocco and the nautical scenes in Yucatan all suggested pre-Columbian relations between the East and West. Don Halcon wanted it all eliminated and anyone who got in his way.

Clive Cussler is an excellent writer. I've only read the first two Dirk Pitt adventures, but I think I might prefer Kurt Austin and the NUMA files series. While Dirk Pitt comes across rough around the edges, Kurt Austin seemed more of a gentleman. Don't get me wrong, I will definitely read the rest of the Dirk Pitt series, but then will promptly move on to the NUMA files. I found Serpent hard to put down. Cussler's great style shines through even in a new series.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I think I need a second ...

... read that is. I just finished Clive Cussler's Golden Buddha. Golden Buddha is from the Oregon Files series. I though this was just another series written by Cussler. It is actually a spin-off of the Dirk Pitt adventures. As I read, it seemed as though Juan Cabrillo and his crew may have been introduced at least once if not more in the Pitt series. It seems less James Bond and damsel in distress, and more ethical mercenaries. So though I had some trouble following all the characters and all the action (storyline jumped around alot with simultaneous events), there was plenty of action and kept my interest. Afterall, I had to figure out what happened to two Buddhas, the Dalai Lama, and what was hidden in the secret compartment.

I will finish the Dirk Pitt adventures, then revisit this book in its turn and give it a proper review.

One thing did bug me: if you discover you need batteries, ask for them instead of ham and cheese sandwiches.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Rough around the edges, but a great read

Becoming a Clive Cussler/Dirk Pitt fan, I researched to discover all the titles in the series and in which order I should read them. Though Mediterranean Caper was the first published, and the first one I could find to read, it was not the first Cussler wrote. Though Pacific Vortex was not published until years after Mediteranean Caper, it is supposed to be Dirk Pitt's introduction. Yes, I'm the type of person who wants to read a series in order, so I hunted down the first of the series. Even Cussler himself admits in the foreward to Pacific Vortex that it is still rough around the edges and he wasn't sure if he even wanted to publish it. I read several reviews that said Pacific Vortex was not as good as subsequent Clive Cussler books. Keeping that in mind, I dove in.

Everyone has heard of the mysterious Bermuda Triangle. The Pacific seems to have a mystery of its own--the Pacific Vortex. It has been swallowing ships for years, yet was counted as an unsolved mystery of the sea until a communications canister appears off a beach in Hawaii where Dirk Pitt is relaxing. A former Major in the Air Force, now with NUMA (National Underwater and Marine Agency), Pitt seems to be an expert of transportation of air and sea--planes, helicopters, boats, submarines--which makes him the perfect go-to guy for the assignment of finding the Starbuck. The Starbuck was an experimental nuclear sub on a test run when it went missing in the Pacific Vortex. With nuclear technology on board, Pitt is asked to help find and recover the sub before someone else does and uses the technology against the United States.

I'll admit that there were a couple scenes in the beginning of the book that were a little cheesy, but I pressed on and I'm glad I did. Though a little rough to start the rest of the book was great. The imagery is fantastic. Another adventurous thrill-ride. In fact, it reminded me of things I loved in my childhood--deep sea explorations, discovering sunken ships, a twisting and turning mystery. Just when you think you know what's going to happen next, Cussler adds another twist that keeps you reading.

I really enjoyed Pacific Vortex and look forward to reading the rest of Dirk Pitt's adventures.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A New Clive Cussler/Dirk Pitt fan

I am working on honing my reviewing skills, so here goes ...

Clive Cussler's Mediterranean Caper is the first Cussler book I picked up to read and I enjoyed it. This is not the first Dirk Pitt story, but it was the first published, I think. Dirk Pitt is a Major transferred from the Air Force to the National Underwater Marine Agency (NUMA). On paper he is the Surface Security Officer. In reality, when an oceanic research project has trouble, Pitt flies in, figures out the problem, fixes it and gets the project back on track.

In Mediterranean Caper, the First Attempt research vessel is in the Aegean Sea looking for a missing link fish. Some unusual accidents take place; Dirk Pitt swoops in for the rescue to run into an apparent ghost plane. While sorting out the problems with the research project and an explanation for the ghost plane, Pitt runs into a drug smuggling scheme, undercover agents, and a traitor. I am no expert when it comes to the Air Force or anything military for that matter, so I have no idea about plausibility. For me it was an exciting story filled with twists and turns.

The point of view did bounce around a bit, but I did not have trouble following it. Cussler does a good job of introducing characters, so I had no trouble keeping track of everybody. I will warn you that Dirk Pitt is very James Bond-esque. In fact the whole story has that feel, but since I'm a fan of James Bond, it works. All in all, a fun, entertaining read and I will be looking for another Clive Cussler/Dirk Pitt adventure to read.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Another Great Book and an unintentional NYR

Well, I seem to be well on my way to reading at least one book per month--not a bad way to spend a year. I finished Mike Angley's Child Finder: Resurrection. Wow! The first installment of this trilogy was really good; and this one is even better. The excitement starts from the very first page and doesn't stop. This time the danger level is increased with a psychic serial killer who can shut out O'Donnell and spy on him and his family. The paranormal activity adds an element of fantasy, but the military angle makes it believable. This is a thrill ride that will keep you hanging on for dear life. I even cried a few times.

Mike Angley is an amazing new author. I have heard that the third installment in the Child Finder trilogy is mind-blowing. Hmm, can I handle it?

Did I mention that I WON Child Finder AND Child Finder: Resurrection? Go to http://www.childfinder.us/ OR http://www.mikeangley.com/ to find out how you too can win a SIGNED Mike Angley book.

Now onto Clive Cussler's Mediterranean Caper ...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A great read!

Normally, I don't blog about books. I am usually wwwaaayyy behind on reading (I finally got around to reading the last 2 books in the Harry Potter series in 2009).

I got a tip from James R. Hannibal (look for him on Facebook--his book Wraith is due out April 2010) that Mike Angley (mikeangley.com OR childfinder.us) was having a contest to give away autographed copies of his book Child Finder (just came out June 2009 I think). FREE BOOK! I was over there as fast as I could click. The catch? Subscribe to his newsletter and comment on blog posts. I can so do that! The drawing is held the following month (name drawn in December, for comments on November posts). So for Christmas I got to open my free book--that's right! I won just for posting comments in November. (and if you go over there right now, subscribe to his newsletter, and comment more often than I do for the month of January, you too can win an autographed copy of Child Finder. The contest continues through the end of 2010)

Now, I'll admit, it took me a little while to get into it--about 3 chapters. But that could be because I had also been trying to read some Chick Lit (Debbie Macomber). I have since discovered Chick Lit is not my thing. Police driven mystery/thriller is definitely more my thing. Once I got into the book, it was hard to put down. The action only slows long enough to catch your breath before it takes off again. There is a moral/religious element to it that is refreshing in today's society. The main character is a family man--loving father and husband. He is a special agent who thrives on facts, proof, evidence and discovers a psychic gift--what a twist! In short, it was a great book. Loved it! And I am looking forward to the next book in this trilogy Child Finder: Resurrection.