Sunday, December 15, 2013

Book Review - Stranded (Alaskan Courage - Book Three)

A cruise ship is an intriguing place to have a mystery.  It’s even better in Alaska in the book Stranded by Dani Pettrey.  Darcy St. James wants to help her reporter friend on an Alaskan cruise.  After boarding the cruise ship, Darcy’s friend disappears.  

On this trip, Darcy runs into Gage McKenna again.   He is in charge of some of the cruise excursions. Darcy and Gage met before while trying to solve a murder mystery in the previous book, Shattered.  There are unresolved feelings from their last meeting so you have tension right away when they see each other again on the cruise.  One major problem between them is Darcy’s faith in God.   Gage’s past personal tragedy causes him to doubt the goodness of God.

Explanation from the cruise staff about the disappearance of Darcy’s friend are not satisfactory.  Darcy digs deeper with help from Gage.  They find more disappearances and even murder.  The pursuit of the truth puts them in danger from an unknown source.   The reason for the disappearances are disturbing and sad.  It reminded me of terrible things that are actually going on in this world.  Despite the sinister things happening in the background, I thought the overnight excursions were a great idea.   The whole cruise was truly set for adventure.

Pettrey has woven together a great mystery again in Stranded, book three of the Alaskan Courage series.   I wanted to keep reading.  I was nervous when I knew the bad guy was close.  I cheered when the good guys came to the rescue. I am enjoying this series about the McKenna family.  It’s like a great mini-series.

Once you start the series, you will be looking for the next book.  I cannot wait to read Silenced. You can read more about the author, Dani Pettrey and this series on her website

Rating: 5 stars

I received this book from Bethany House Publishers for my opinion.

This post contains an affiliate link. Read my disclosure page for more information.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Book Review - A Home For My Heart

A Home for My Heart by Anne Mateer describes the plight of orphans and Sadie Sillsby’s desire to see their lives filled with love.   Sadie is an assistant at the Raystown Home for Orphans.   She understands these children because she was also a resident of the Home. Throughout the story, you will see her try her best to distance herself from her background which landed her at the Home in the first place.

Sadie is in love with Blaine.  Their love was built on friendship and a mutual understanding of what it is like to come from unstable family situations.   Sadie receives a wonderful opportunity to become the matron of the Home because the current matron decides to get married.   The matron must remain single to stay in the position.  Sadie is torn between a life with Blaine and “this calling” to the children.  She accepts the position which drives a wedge between herself and Blaine.

The new job seems like a natural fit for Sadie.  She loves the children at the Home and wants their life to improve with a forever family.   The position of matron comes with more responsibility than expected - managing staff, soliciting donations and writing up expense reports.  She would rather play baseball with the kids and tuck them into bed at night.

Sadie has difficulty determining what is real or fake.  Is her newly hired assistant, Viola right for the job?   Does Earl, a representative from The Children’s Aid Society have the best interest of her and the Home at heart?  Has Blaine really moved on without her?  Mrs. Fore is the wise cook that seems to truly understand the nature of people.   Miranda is the housekeeper who is misunderstood, but is an undiscovered jewel.

Through prayer, Sadie eventually understands who and what is most important.   As she matures, she makes decisions to follow the will of the Lord.   That decision has wonderful results for herself and her community.

I liked this book.  It was a sweet story with a young main character who was passionate about her work for children, but grew to be more concerned about God’s will.

Rating: 3 stars

I received this book from Bethany House Publishers for my opinion about this book.

This post contains an affiliate link. Read my disclosure page.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Book Review - Pocket Your Dollars

“When a fundamental building block is missing from our lives, then no amount of fine-tuning can move things forward.  That’s why we’re not starting with budget or expense trackers.  Those are mechanisms for fine-tuning once we have a solid foundation.”

Pocket Your Dollars by Carrie Rocha is an easy and honest read about a difficult subject.  It is about building a strong mental foundation for financial success by changing your attitude.  Her first recommendation is not a budget although it is an important tool.   Our greatest hope for real change is to take personal responsibility for past decisions.  More money is not always the answer if you are not fundamentally different than when you had less money.  The author gives us examples of lottery winners who lost it all to illustrate this point.

Rocha appears to be doing an operation on our thoughts about money.  The sharing of her personal experience with help us improve our financial life. She does not want us to put a band-aid on our financial woes like more money or a budget. She wants us to get to the heart of the matter.  When our attitude is correct then tools like a budget become more effective.

Buying can fill an emotional need that we did not even know we had. I have been done the “I deserve a treat” road.  Life is tough, hard day, annoying boss and family problems can lead to “I deserve this something special”, but this behavior does not keep money in your pocket.

Satisfaction with what we have helps us to keep more of our money.  We do not have to get caught up in comparison with others when we choose to be content.  

Once our attitude is correct then we need skills to maintain our new outlook on money. Rocha helps us with that, too.  Resilience will keep me moving even when I mess up.  Her discussion about reframing was helpful to me.  Instead of looking at failures as the “nail in the coffin”, you can reason that I am successful because of my failures.  I learned from my past and I will keep moving forward.

The creation of a spending plan will definitely keep you focused on what is most important.  The spending plan is not just about the mundane bills we have.  It is even about the extras that use to get us in trouble before our attitude change.  The extras like gifts and vacations do not have to produce guilt if properly planned.

This book is full of common sense.  We need to own up to our mistakes and figure out what attitude is preventing us from moving forward.  Financial tools like a budget and the right attitude will give us long-term success in our financial life.

Rating: 5 stars

This book was provided to me by Bethany House Publisher for my opinion.

This post contains an affiliate link.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Book Review - Shattered (Alaskan Courage - Book Two)

An open and shut murder case in Alaska...right?  Reef McKenna was found with the victim and the evidence points to him as the murderer.  The sheriff is ready to close this case as quickly as possible due to the overwhelming evidence.  Reef’s sister, Piper, is not ready to lose him.  She does everything possible to prove her brother’s innocence.   She expects that those that are close to the McKenna family will see Reef’s innocence especially Deputy Landon Grainger.  Landon has been a part of the McKenna family for years.  Piper is like a sister to him until romantic feelings start to change his perspective.

Piper and Landon disagree many times on how to solve the murder case.  She places herself in danger more than once to discover the truth. Landon is trying to let the facts tell the story. Conflict comes up often between the two because of unresolved feelings and their approach to solving the case.

I really enjoyed this book.  Here are a few reasons why I think you should read it. This book is a good murder mystery.  The answer was not obvious to me initially who committed the murder.  Bravo to the author for keeping me guessing.   The dialogue between Piper and Landon was fun especially before their true feelings were realized.  The location of Alaska was great.  It became its own character to me like someone or some place I wanted to visit.

Shattered is a romantic suspense novel, but there are some excellent spiritual lessons for us, too.  Landon is a rugged, manly character who depends on himself.   There comes a point in the book where he realizes that he is not in control.  He humbles himself before God when he is hit with this realization.

One of my favorite quotes is advice from Piper’s older brother, Cole to Landon “You need to be sure you are in the right place, that the urge to self-destruct isn’t your default setting anymore, that God is the one steering your life.”

This book has so much of what I like in a story - mystery, interesting people, great location and a reminder that God is with us through it all.

Shattered is book 2 of the Alaskan Courage series by Dani Pettrey.   You can read this book without reading Submerged, but I highly recommend reading book 1 first.  

Rating: 4 stars

This book was provided to me by Bethany House Publishers for my opinion about this book.

My posts might contain affiliate links.  Read my disclosure statement.