Browse Category: Fiction

Review – When Through Deep Waters by Rachelle Dekker

Book description

Alicen McCaffrey finally has the life her mother always dreamed for her: beautiful home in Santa Monica, successful husband, adorable daughter. Then tragedy blows her carefully assembled façade to pieces. Worse yet—Alicen feels solely responsible. At rock bottom, she decides to accompany a childhood friend back to Red Lodge, Montana, where they spent summers together as kids.

The peaceful mountain landscape, accented with lush forests and small-town charm, brings back happy memories of time spent with her beloved, eccentric Grandma Josephine. Alicen begins to hope that perhaps things could be different here. Perhaps the oppressive guilt will lift—if only for a moment.

But when Alicen starts hearing voices and seeing mysterious figures near the river in the woods, she begins to fear she’s completely lost her sanity, as it’s rumored her grandmother did. Or might there be more to Red Lodge than meets the eye? Could the voices and visions be real—and her only means of finding the healing she so desperately needs? Or will they prove to be her final undoing?

Review

After reading Rachelle’s past series I was intrigued by her new book, which definitely falls into a completely different category, one that has been masterfully done by her father and now with its own flavor by Rachelle.

Although it may seem confusing at first, the story starts developing better when Alicen moves from her home to Red Lodge, that’s when you need to pay more attention to every detail and when the real action comes.

I’ve read that some people was put down by the “spiritual” treatment of the story and the “ghosts” that are part of it, but if you can see the meaning behind their inclusion you’ll end up more impacted by the overall message of forgiveness.

Conclusion

If you want to read something fresh in the christian book world, When Through Deep Waters is a great choice. If you didn’t like The Choosing series, please give Rachelle’s book a chance, you won’t be disappointed.

Rating 4/5

I received this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Review – Fawkes by Nadine Brandes

Book description

Thomas Fawkes is turning to stone, and the only cure to the Stone Plague is to join his father’s plot to assassinate the king of England.

Silent wars leave the most carnage. The wars that are never declared but are carried out in dark alleys with masks and hidden knives. Wars where color power alters the natural rhythm of 17th-century London. And when the king calls for peace, no one listens until he finally calls for death.

But what if death finds him first?

Keepers think the Igniters caused the plague. Igniters think the Keepers did it. But all Thomas knows is that the Stone Plague infecting his eye is spreading. And if he doesn’t do something soon, he’ll be a lifeless statue. So when his Keeper father, Guy Fawkes, invites him to join the Gunpowder Plot—claiming it will put an end to the plague—Thomas is in.

The plan: use 36 barrels of gunpowder to blow up the Igniter King.

The problem: Doing so will destroy the family of the girl Thomas loves. But backing out of the plot will send his father and the other plotters to the gallows. To save one, Thomas will lose the other.

No matter Thomas’s choice, one thing is clear: once the decision is made and the color masks have been put on, there’s no turning back.

First impressions

After reading the Out of Time series by Nadine Brandes, I was excited to know she was releasing a new book, a historical fiction story nicely packaged in a hardcover book with an amazing cover. This could be one of those books you can safely buy because you like the cover and still be confident the story is just as good.

Review 

I’m not so much into historical fiction, but if you add fantasy to the equation, I’m sold. Fawkes is not only inspired by true historical events, in this case the gunpowder plot, but it has a creative magic system that adds flavor to the narrative.

Story

Color power is controlled by speech which in turn can only be effective by wearing a mask given to you by your parents. The influence of the power of each mask is dictated by its color. In Nadine’s words (visit her insta account for pics):

Green masks control green things—plants and trees and growing things mostly. A lot of apothecaries are Greens for this very reason.

Ironically, this the story about Thomas, a boy that cannot use color power, but most importantly, he doesn’t have a clue about his own father. The one who is the one supposed to care for him and help him in the process to bond with a color. Oddly enough, when he finally gets to find him he’s introduced by Guy Fawkes in a plot to kill King James I. 

Characters

Thomas seemed to me a very polite character, because of his age he obviously has this reckless attitude towards adults and problems. He struggles with the person he wants to become, the person others expect him to become and ultimately the person he is supposed to become once he find the truth about himself.

Emma, which belongs to the Igniters, is very interesting character and as you can guess she becomes Thomas’ love interest. The good thing about romance in Fawkes is that it becomes part of the story and not central. Nadine builds a love story slowly through pages filled with big doses of action and political turmoil, giving the readers a balanced story. But Emma is not only that, she’s a character with a personal and difficult story to tell (one that certainly deserves an spin-off).

Finally, can I talk about White Light? This may or may not contain spoilers so just be cautious. White Light is a background character that has very little participation but brings deep truths into the view. I liked the way it spoke differently to each character and the way Nadine crafted the story so you can make you own theories.

Conclusion

Fawkes is a standalone novel, an awesome standalone novel that has the ability to make you part of the gunpowder plot and absorb you into a fictional London filled with magic, intrigue, romance and a search for your identity. If you’re unsure about reading Fawkes because of the fantasy touch, give it a chance and you’ll not be disappointed.

I received this book from Booklook Bloggers in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Review – Siren’s Song by Mary Weber

Book description

After a fierce battle with Draewulf, Nym barely escaped with her life. Now, fleeing the scorched landscape of Tulla, her storm-summoning abilities are returning; only . . . the dark power is still inside her.

Broken and bloodied, Nym needs time to recover, but when the full scope of the shapeshifter’s horrific plot is revealed, the strong-willed Elemental must race across the Hidden Lands and warn the other kingdoms before Draewulf ’s final attack.

From the crystalline palaces of Cashlin to the legendary Valley of Origin, Nym scrambles to gather an army. But even if she can, will she be able to uncover the secret to defeating Draewulf that has eluded her people for generations? With a legion of monsters approaching, and the Hidden Lands standing on the brink of destruction, the stage is set for a battle that will decide the fate of the world.

My review

It was a long time ago I read the first book in this series, and it has come the time when I can finally finish it with Siren’s Song.

As with the last book of any series, there’s always a sad feeling about it, but at the same time, it’s great to see characters like Nym and Eogan grow as characters themselves, but also grow in you as you become attached to them.

There’s action and there’s romance in this book, but it’s balanced enough so you can enjoy the story and specially the ending that’s been a favorite for many readers.

If you’re looking for a fantasy story, sprinkled with action and romance, the Storm Siren series is perfect for you.

Rating:

Reseña – El contador de historias de José Luis Navajo

Sinopsis

Todos buscamos la grandeza. Y el éxito que alcanzamos depende de la narrativa que escuchamos.

Luis García ejerce como ejecutivo de una importante multinacional. Su vida es, para cualquiera que la contemple desde afuera, un éxito absoluto. Reconocido, laureado, con una altísima remuneración económica, Luis García toca la gloria con ambas manos. Sin embargo, poco después de alcanzar uno de sus máximos logros empresariales, su existencia se quiebra, y conoce el amargo sabor de la bancarrota física, emocional y familiar.

Esa crisis lo hace recalar en un tranquilo pueblito de la costa. Allí llega abatido y absolutamente desanimado, pero tendrá un encuentro que cambiará su vida para siempre. La experiencia que vive lo conducirá a la verdadera cumbre, y le hará conocer qué es y cómo es la auténtica grandeza.

El Contador de Historias es un libro realista que aborda las claves fundamentales del verdadero liderazgo. A través de una narrativa ágil, dinámica y llena de giros inesperados, José Luis Navajo lleva al lector en un viaje cargado de suspenso, donde reirá, reflexionará y, sobre todo, encontrará las claves y diferencias entre ser activo y ser efectivo. De asombrar a transformar, y del liderazgo de imposición al liderazgo de influencia.

Primeras impresiones

Es la primera vez que leo un libro de José Luis Navajo, después de leer algunos artículos y conocer algo de su ministerio, pensé tener una idea de lo que podía encontrarme en la historia. Las buenas noticias son que lo que finalmente me encontré resultó ser mucho mejor de lo que inicialmente esperaba.

Reseña

El contador de historias destaca por la manera creativa e ingeniosa de presentarnos una narrativa llena de sabiduría que pudiera pasar desapercibida para muchos, y ciertamente puede ser leída sin otra intención que la del esparcimiento. Esta tendencia, la de plasmar principios y verdades de liderazgo o negocios en una fabula o historia, no es precisamente nueva; pero no por ello El contador de historias deja de ser una buena cucharada de verdades que son accesibles para cualquier tipo de persona.

A través de los capítulos conocemos a Luis, un exitoso empresario que descubre que el éxito, ni la vida, son como el lo esperaba y que el bienestar personal va mucho más allá de contratos firmados o una imagen impecable ante los demás. Es por eso que, a través de un “retiro”, Luis se ve confrontado con la manera en que hasta ahora ha visto la vida y sus relaciones personales.

La ayuda viene de un personaje que hace las veces de una figura de Cristo, un recurso común en la literatura de ficción y que en este caso lleva por nombre Selah, un hombre misterioso que vive compartiendo sus dones musicales al mismo tiempo que desborda consejos prácticos con los demás.

Pero y ¿de que tratan las lecciones de El contador de historias? Los pensamientos y consejos van desde el auto gobierno, las relaciones personajes y de pareja, hasta la administración de aquello que se nos es dado; ya sean negocios, familias, amigos, equipos de trabajo, etc.

Conclusión

El contador de historias es un buen recurso para aquellos líderes en cualquier tipo de posición, no necesariamente en empresas como la del protagonista, que buscan una perspectiva fresca de asuntos personales y de equipo. Es una lectura relajada y digerible que podría funcionar muy bien como una lectura grupal o de club de lectura.

Calificación:

¿Dónde lo compro?

 

Recibí una copia de Whitaker House en Español para la reseña. Los comentarios y opiniones expresadas son propias.

Review – Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

Book description

Where are you guys? Text me back. That’s the last message Carver Briggs will ever send his three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake. He never thought that it would lead to their death.

Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident and even worse, a powerful judge is pressuring the district attorney to open up a criminal investigation.

Luckily, Carver has some unexpected allies: Eli’s girlfriend, the only person to stand by him at school; Dr. Mendez, his new therapist; and Blake’s grandmother, who asks Carver to spend a “goodbye day” together to share their memories and say a proper farewell.

Soon the other families are asking for their own goodbye day with Carver—but he’s unsure of their motives. Will they all be able to make peace with their losses, or will these goodbye days bring Carver one step closer to a complete breakdown or—even worse—prison?

Review

Goodbye days is a novel that starts slow with a story that gets weirder through the first chapters. A circle of friends that through an accident becomes just one of them.

This is a slow paced story, Zentner wants you to get the feeling that you’re there, and there’s not only enough descriptions about surroundings to make you feel that, but also the emotional environment that encapsulates the inner thoughts of the protagonist.

Conclusion

Not a story for everyone. If you like contemporary novels, then Goodbye Days is for you.

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 

Review – Paper Bag Christmas by Kevin Alan Milne

Book description

When Molar Alan and his older brother, Aaron, fill out their Christmas wish lists front and back, the Santa at the mall informs the boys they won’t be getting anything they asked for. Instead, he says, they will receive everything they never wanted. This isn’t your garden-variety Santa, he’s Dr. Chris Ringle, a pediatric oncologist, and he enlists the brothers as Santa’s elves at the children’s ward for the holidays.

Each boy is charged with a very special assignment. Aaron will befriend Madhu, a fast-talking boy on an organ transplant list who, though not Christian, has an insatiable curiosity and wants to learn all about the holiday. Madhu is determined to be a wise man in the hospital pageant, despite the objections to his interpretation of the role.

Molar’s task is considerably harder, as he attempts to help a lonely little girl named Katrina. Katrina’s surgery has left her scarred, and she has shut herself away from everyone. But it is through her that the true spirit of Christmas will touch the lives of all those around her in a way none of them would have foreseen.

First impresions

I rarely read Christmas books, but this year I thought It’d be a good idea to start a tradition so I picked this one hoping for the best and fortunately I did the right choice with Paper Bag Christmas.

Review

I wasn’t sure I’d like the story considering that the main setting is a hospital, but as the story started to develop it made more sense. From the very beginning the story feels very real: a typical family in a mall for Christmas and the traditional letter from the children to Santa expecting the very best gifts available… for children.

The transition from the traditional to the not so typical is smooth and the introduction of the new setting and characters is great. Dr. Ringle and the rest of the staff and children from the hospital are very likable with distinct personalities, even those who are a little bit grumpy (a.k.a Katrina).

The story is filled with love, hope, and faith, interwoven in a way that results so pleasing to the reader. There’s a message of great value in the words and actions of the children that is useful for both kids and adult alike.

Conclusion

You must be ready to grab some tissues at the end of the story. This is a short book with an amazing story that can be read alone or aloud with the rest of the family. This edition is a beautiful re-release with an updated cover illustration and dust jacket.

Rating: 

I received this book from Hachette Book Group in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Review – The Shack by Wm. Paul Young

theshack

Book description

Mackenzie Allen Phillips’s youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation. Evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later, in the midst of his great sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note–apparently from God–inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment, he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change his life forever.

First impressions

I read The Shack six or seven years ago for the first time. Shortly after I found several reviews pointing how theologically inaccurate the story was and somehow I thought maybe I’ve missed something. I wanted to give the book a new chance and decided to read it again. Also there’s a movie adaptation coming up, and wanted to refresh the story in my mind.

Review

There are two ways you can read (and review) The Shack: as a mere work of fiction and inspiration or as a theology work about God and suffering.

In the former, you have an amazing and emotional story that empathizes with almost every living soul on Earth. There’s something in Mack’s suffering that clicks with our personal daily struggles, making us part of the quest to find an answer and if possible, a solution. Then there’s the mystery behind the character (as in, the person) of God. How is He like? what does someone like God look like?  Is there a God? Does He care about us? The Shack responds some of these questions with a lot of creative freedom.

All this ingredients produce an exciting page turner, at least for those familiar or interested in these topics. There’s one issue that needs to be addressed and so the plot it’s clear from the very beginning making The Shack a fast reading.

In the later, you have an interesting view on God, the Trinity, the work of Jesus and its implications on humanity, and many other theological subjects you can think of (seminary, prayer, church, forgiveness, religions). The author (or should I say the author using God’s voice) didn’t just limited his views on the matters related to the story, but he also used The Shack as a way to express his disagreement with many practices and doctrines of Christianity unrelated to the story, but definitely a priority to Young.

This is where things could be confusing to some people. I had friends that would say something like: “It’s like Jesus/God/The Holy Spirit would say in The Shack…” giving a book the same value as The Book, maybe not out of rebellion, but out of ignorance of what the Bible says about God.

Conclusion

On the same note I hope my review is not confusing to some of you. I really liked reading The Shack for the second time, but encountered some theological issues that can by skipped if reading with a mentality of a casual reader. I’d recommend to read this book in the same manner you would read Narnia by C.S. Lewis.

Rating:

I received this book from Hachette Book Group in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Review – Becoming a Disciple Making Church by Neil T. Anderson

makingadisciple

Book description

Life-Changing Discipleship Can Be the Expectation, Not the Exception

As leaders, we want the people in our churches to become spiritually mature disciples of Christ, but so many remain stuck in struggles and sins. Personal and spiritual conflicts are holding them back from the true freedom that can be found in Christ alone.

Neil Anderson has been walking individuals through this journey for over a quarter century, but now he wants to teach pastors and church leaders how to do this for their own churches. As the culmination of his life’s work, Becoming a Disciple-Making Church shows you how to help your people resolve conflicts–from difficult marriages to unrepentant sin to church disputes–through genuine repentance and faith in God. Rather than giving up or simply referring people to counselors outside the church, embrace the fact that God through His Word has answers to problems of the heart and mind. And in this ministry of reconciliation, true discipleship will happen.

First impressions

Neil T. Anderson is the author of Victory Over the Darkness a really well known book among Christians, that I haven’t read. That was the reason I wanted to check Becoming a Disciple Making Church, which is a really good introduction to Anderson’s work.

Content

This is not an original work, in the sense of being new material. It’s a collection of different chapters from different books in the context of building a leadership capable of building disciples using the principles in each section.

It’s not that the book it’s not good for this reason, on the contrary, there’s a lot of subjects of interest for everyone and the best thing is that you can put them into practice right away. Some examples are, How to overcome:

  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Sexual strongholds

Each chapter explains the meaning of each concept and its psychological and biblical background. Finally it gives you the tools necessary to deal with each issue using biblical principles.

Conclusion

Reading Becoming a Disciple Making Church it’s a good start if you want to get familiar with Neil T. Anderson or with his work. It’s a really worth reading.

Rating:

I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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