Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Secrets of Life and Death by Rebecca Alexander (Book Review)

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Blogging for Books. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own. 

About the book-

In modern day England, Professor Felix Guichard is called in to identify occult symbols found on the corpse of a young girl. His investigation brings him in contact with a mysterious woman, Jackdaw Hammond, who guards a monumental secret--She's Dead. Or she would be, were it not for magic which has artificially extended her life. But someone else knows her secret. Someone very old and very powerful, who won't rest until they've taken the magic that keeps her alive....

In Krakow in 1585, Dr John Dee, the Elizabethan Alchemist and Occultist, and his assistant Edward Kelley have been summoned by the King of Poland to save the life of his niece, the infamous Countess Elisabeth Bathory. But they soon realize that the only thing worse than the Countess' malady, is the magic that might be able to save her...
As Jackdaw and Felix race to uncover the truth about the person hunting her, it becomes clear that the answers they seek can only be found in the ancient diary of John Dee's assistant, Edward Kelley. Together they must solve a mystery centuries in the making, or die trying.


My thoughts- 

I love books that are rooted in history and this book definitely had some historical aspects. In fact, I was unfamiliar with John Dee, Edward Kelley and Elisabeth Bathory so through reading this, I was introduced to a whole side of history I was unaware of and I love that. I definitely did some research after I was done to learn more about each of them. Besides the historical aspect of the book, there is also a modern day story interwoven which is another thing that makes me love this novel. I like having a novel having both a present day story and a story set in the passed and threaded together. It is like getting a two for one deal and it is always really cool to see how everything comes together in the end. It has been a while since I have read a story with supernatural elements so I was due for a nice fantasy like novel and this one didn't disappoint. For me, The Secrets of Life and Death was a page turner. Since I was unaware of the true to life magic and witchcraft stories (although the novel is loosely based on the acutal events in history) I was hooked on finding out exactly what happened to John Dee and Edward Kelley. The present day story about Jack and Felix and the girl that Jack is trying to save is also very intriguing. I spent the entire book wondering what would become of all of the present day players because it really could have went several ways. This is a quick and very interesting read. I would recommend it to anyone interested in historically based fiction or stories about witchcraft. 

You can get your copy of The Secrets of Life and Death on Amazon.com. 

About the author-

Rebecca Alexander is a novelist and poet that lives in North Devon, England. The Secrets of Life and Death was her dissertation novel and was a runner up in the Mslexia 2011 novel writing competition. It is the first part in a trilogy!

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen (Book Review)

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review. All opinions stated are 100% my own.


About the book-


Abigail Foster is the practical daughter. She fears she will end up a spinster, especially as she has little dowry, and the one man she thought might marry her seems to have fallen for her younger, prettier sister.
Facing financial ruin, Abigail and her father search for more affordable lodgings, until a strange solicitor arrives with an astounding offer: the use of a distant manor house abandoned for eighteen years. The Fosters journey to imposing Pembrooke Park and are startled to find it entombed as it was abruptly left: tea cups encrusted with dry tea, moth-eaten clothes in wardrobes, a doll's house left mid-play . . .
The handsome local curate welcomes them, but though he and his family seem acquainted with the manor's past, the only information they offer is a stern warning: Beware trespassers drawn by rumors that Pembrooke Park contains a secret room filled with treasure.
This catches Abigail's attention. Hoping to restore her family's finances—and her dowry—Abigail looks for this supposed treasure. But eerie sounds at night and footprints in the dust reveal she isn't the only one secretly searching the house.
As old friends and new foes come calling at Pembrooke Park, secrets come to light. Will Abigail find the treasure and love she seeks . . . or very real danger? 



My thoughts-

I have never met a Julie Klassen book that I haven't liked. Several years ago I joined an online book club. For whatever reason, it didn't last long, but I will forever be grateful for a book I discovered for the little while it was going called The Apothecary's Daughter. It started my love of all things Julie Klassen and several books later, I still feel the same way. I can not wait as each new book is being written and promoted and finally when it comes out, I will devour it in a short sitting, love it and then wait patiently (or not so much) for the next book to come out. So of course, I was stoked for The Secret of Pembrooke Park to come out. I have been waiting for months to read it. I loved that the plot sounded like there was a nice twist to the typical historical romance with  a bit of a mystery. It was a lot of fun reading about Abigail and her father moving into the big house and following along as Abigail tries to figure out why the house was abandoned and who is writing her letters about it. As always, I enjoyed the romantic aspect of things, and Abigail has no shortage of admirers. There is a terrific cast of characters that live on the grounds of the house that add a great deal to the story, especially Mac, Leah and William. This is really an action packed book full of great twists and turns. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading Regency era historical fiction. 

The Secret of Pembrooke Park is available now at Amazon.com and other retailers nationwide.

About the author-

Julie Klassen loves all things Jane—Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. Three of her books, The Silent GovernessThe Girl in the Gatehouse, and The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, have won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. She has also won the Midwest Book Award, Christian Retailing’s BEST Award, and has been a finalist in the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Awards, Minnesota Book Awards, and ACFW’s Carol Awards. She blogs athttp://www.inspiredbylifeandfiction.com.
Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota. 


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www.julieklassen.com



The Life Intended by Kristin Harmel (Book Review)

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

About the book-

From the author of the international bestseller The Sweetness of Forgetting, named one of the Best Books of Summer 2012 by Marie Claire magazine, comes a captivating novel about the struggle to overcome the past when our memories refuse to be forgotten.

In this richly told story where Sliding Doors meets P.S. I Love You, Kristin Harmel weaves a heart-wrenching tale that asks: what does it take to move forward in life without forgetting the past?

After her husband’s sudden death over ten years ago, Kate Waithman never expected to be lucky enough to find another love of her life. But now she’s planning her second walk down the aisle to a perfectly nice man. So why isn’t she more excited?

At first, Kate blames her lack of sleep on stress. But when she starts seeing Patrick, her late husband, in her dreams, she begins to wonder if she’s really ready to move on. Is Patrick trying to tell her something? Attempting to navigate between dreams and reality, Kate must uncover her husband’s hidden message. Her quest leads her to a sign language class and into the New York City foster system, where she finds rewards greater than she could have imagined.


My thoughts-

I have been anxiously awaiting a new book from Kristin Harmel since I read The Sweetness of Forgetting a few years ago. It took a few years, but it was worth the wait. I was excited when I saw the beautiful cover and even more excited when I read the plot synopsis. I love books that deal with alternate realities, it is just interesting to me to imagine more than one possible outcome for a character (even if in this case the other reality was a series of dreams, this alternate reality felt very real to Kate). This book had many elements that I absolutely adored. I am a sucker for a romance so I was more than happy to follow Kate on her journey, but I also loved that this book explored the Deaf community. It is always great to read about a subject or group of people that don't always make appearances in novels. I loved seeing how the dreams with Patrick and the charity work with orphaned kids with special needs all tied together at the end. This was  a page turner that I absolutely couldn't put down and finished in a couple of days time.  I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Women's fiction, love stories, dramas or learning about new subjects. The Life Intended should definitely be on your to-read list!

The Life Intended will be available for purchase December 30th. You can pre-order your copy on Amazon.com. 

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http://kristinharmel.com/

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Lumo Project: Gospel of John- Now on Netflix!

Disclosure of material connection- I received early access to watch The Gospel of John via FlyBy Promotions in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.


About the film:

FOUR GOSPELS. FOUR FILMS. ONE JESUS STORY. FOR EVERYONE.
A ground breaking, multi-language biblical film resource transforming the way we discover, study and engage with the life of Jesus through the four New Testament Gospels.
The Lumo Project is a ground breaking, multi-language biblical film resource transforming the way we discover, study and engage with the life of Jesus through the four New Testament Gospels: redefining the standard of visual Biblical media. The Lumo Project presents four films – one for each Gospel account – that will revolutionize the way we all experience the story of Jesus and the world of First Century Palestine in which he lived.
THE GOSPEL OF JOHN
The Gospel of John takes the story of Jesus from John’s gospel with its own unique characteristics. For John, Jesus is the Word of God made human. John is clear that that when encounter Jesus, we encounter God.  The gospel writer points to the miracles (the ‘Signs’) and teachings as evidence of Jesus’ special relationship as the divine Son of God.
This full-length feature film about the life of Jesus takes the actual Gospel text as its script, word for word, unedited. Five years in the making, this epic production has been critically acclaimed by leading religious scholars as a unique and highly authentic telling of the Jesus story. Narrated by leading British actor David Harewood (‘Homeland’, ‘Blood Diamond’, ‘Merchant of Venice’) it is based on the latest theological, historical and archaeological research. With specially constructed sets and the extraordinarily authentic villages and countryside of rural Morocco, it immerses the viewer in the world of first century Palestine.

My thoughts-

When I heard about the Lumo Project and that the Gospel of John was going to be available on Netflix, I was intrigued. I love that they have it in both the King James version and the New International version so you can hear it in the text you are used to or more comfortable with or even watch them both to better understand both versions. I thought it was a great idea to have a narration of the gospels playing as actors act out all of the verses and chapters. Sometimes it can be hard to sit down and continue to just read such long texts, especially when you have done it many times in the past, but to have it come alive right before your eyes as you hear the verses really helps all of the words and stories really sink in. It really is a great way to really learn the gospels word for word. I always love watching movies set in Biblical times because I find it fascinating to see and think about what people lived like then and how it might have been to live during the same time as Jesus was around. I thought that the Lumo Project did a very good job making me feel like I could be there and to help paint a beautiful picture of what that time period might look like. I also think it is brilliant to place these movies portraying the gospels on Netflix since they have billions of viewers. Our prayer should be that these movies will reach the hearts of the lost and I truly think they will. I enjoyed watching the Gospel of John and I will look forward to watching the other three when they are made available. You can watch the Gospel of John right now on Netflix. Be sure and pass along the word!


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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Rumors of War (Movie Review)

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the movie from Edify Media in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own. 


About the movie-

 is a suspenseful, genre-bending film with two converging storylines. An aspiring college journalist finds herself searching for answers when she investigates end-time prophecies for a term paper. Recording her research in a diary, her findings prove to have more of an impact than she could have ever imagined.

Her diary is discovered years later, in the rubble of a post-apocalyptic society filled with decay and violence. With the truth of what really happened to the world in its pages, the book finds its way into to the hands of an officer in the New World Army. But what will he do with this new found truth?


My thoughts-

In a time where dystopian movie and books are very popular with the masses, this post-apocalyptic story certainly fits in. What I like about it, is that though it is a work of fiction, it takes it's main idea from Revelations...concerning the rapture and the mark of the beast. It is given a bit of a modern twist with the "chip" that is to be implanted in everyone serving as the mark of the beast and the thing that Christians need to avoid. I thought that the movie was a very interesting concept. It is always interesting to think about how things might go down concerning the mark of the beast and how it could just happen at any time. I enjoyed the movie, the suspenseful and post-apocalyptic aspect of it, but for some reason I felt like it was missing something although I can not quite put my finger on what it was. I thought it was a great effort and an enjoyable movie for the family that could be a great conversation starter. I would recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys movies about the aftermath of the apocalypse or are interested in the points of interest in Revelations.

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Rumors of War is available at Amazon.com


Watch the Rumors of War trailer below-

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Jesus Boat: Witness to Prophecy (DVD Review)

*Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the dvd via Edify Media in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive  review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.  

About the movie- 

The astounding prophetic rebirth of Israel is told through the discovery of an ancient and unlikely artifact found under the shores of the Sea of Galilee. A first century fishing boat, identical to the boat Jesus sailed upon with his disciples, was destroyed in the years Israel was destroyed by the Romans, but found 2000 years later in a series of astonishing events that even scientists called a miracle. Mirroring Israel's own story of devastation and survival, the boat from the time of Jesus, would rise against all odds and float upon the Sea of Galilee once more as the oldest surviving freshwater boat in the world. Featuring commentary from some of the great theologians of our day including Franklin Graham, Joel Rosenberg, Jay Sekulow, Skip Heitzig, Chuck Smith and more.

My thoughts-

I don't know how but I had never heard the story of this boat until I watched this fascinating documentary. Listening to the people involved talk about how they came across it, the work that went into restoring it, this was just such an interesting thing to learn about. For me  personally, it was really cool thinking that even if this wasn't *the* boat that Jesus and his disciples used, it is very similar and it was definitely around when Jesus walked the Earth. The sheer thought that a boat that could float during the first century could survive all of these years enough to be restored and displayed...that could only be a Jesus thing. It definitely seems to parallel the story of Israel's survival. I enjoyed listening to all of the stories of the people who worked on the boat, as well as some of the commentary. There were several really cool stories within the story (a huge storm after the boat was found after a very long drought, and the fact that it took 12 years to restore the boat were two of my favorite things that I learned during the documentary.) If you are at all interested in history or Christianity, you will enjoy this documentary. Now, if I could only hop on a plane and see it in person! For now, I am happy to have come across such an interesting piece of history through Jesus Boat.




Watch the movie trailer below- 


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Kitchen in France: A Year of Cooking in My Farmhouse by Mimi Thorisson (Cookbook Review)

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Blogging for Books. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own. 

About the book-

With beguiling recipes and sumptuous photography, A Kitchen in France transports readers to the French countryside and marks the debut of a captivating new voice in cooking.

When Mimi Thorisson and her family moved from Paris to a small town in out-of-the-way Médoc, she did not quite know what was in store for them. She found wonderful ingredients—from local farmers and the neighboring woods—and, most important, time to cook. Her cookbook chronicles the family’s seasonal meals and life in an old farmhouse, all photographed by her husband, Oddur. Mimi’s convivial recipes—such as Roast Chicken with Herbs and Crème Fraîche, Cèpe and Parsley Tartlets, Winter Vegetable Cocotte, Apple Tart with Orange Flower Water, and Salted Butter Crème Caramel—will bring the warmth of rural France into your home.

My thoughts- 

French cuisine may rank at the highest of my culinary list, so I am always excited to come across a good French cookbook. In my experience, even the easiest of French recipes turn out to be delicious and taste like you have put tons of effort into them. A Kitchen in France doesn't have a lot of simple recipes, but what it does have are mouthwatering recipes that will impress anyone you are cooking for. I would probably use this book more for dinner parties and special occasions, but I would definitely cook some of these desserts on an anytime basis. I love the beautiful pictures of the food and life around the farmhouse. This is a lovely book that you could even set out as a coffee table book or leave out on a beautiful cookbook stand in your kitchen (that is what I plan to do with my copy! It will go perfectly with my French theme!) Perhaps my favorite part of the book is how it is organized. Each season has it's own section beginning with spring and ending with winter. On each section's title page there is a break down of each recipe in three sections- starters, main courses and desserts. The way the book is organized is why I feel like it would be a great book for a dinner party. No matter which season you are in, it gives you several choices from each type of food, so there are tons of great recipes to mix and match to make a perfect seasonal French dinner party. I would recommend this book to the home cook who enjoys exploring cuisines from other regions as well as any Francofiles who just enjoy having a little piece of France around!