All posts by Robin

Under The Sea Holy Bible and Giveaway

undertheseaIn a sea (heh) of Bibles, the Under The Sea Holy Bible is a nice addition to the kid’s section of Bibles.  It’s in an easy to read format designed to help children connect with Biblical concepts.

Under The Sea Holy Bible
Zonderkidz
March 2016

Bright colors and sparkly glitter adorn the cover of this Bible, meant for children.   This is not an ordinary children’s Bible, in that it is the full text from Genesis to Revelation.  Many children’s Bibles are abbreviated stories highlighting the “heroes” of the Old Testament or focusing solely on Christ’s miracles in the New Testament.

This Bible is also written in the New International Reader’s Version.  A foreword discussing this NIrV version mentions that it is an extension of traditional NIV.  Its purpose is to make reading (and understanding) the Bible easier for children, adults learning to read, first time Bible readers, readers whose first language is not English, and those who have trouble understanding what they read.

A cursory glance of verses with which I’m familiar shows the meaning of the verse is virtually unchanged by adapting it from KJV.  The foreword also mentions that the translators worked to reference the Greek New Testament and Hebrew Old Testament as they worked to create the NIrV in an effort to maintain the integrity of this translation.

The remainder of the Bible is just that:  NIrV of the full Bible text.  There is also a dictionary and an index of “Great Bible Stories.”  These two sections could be greatly improved.  The dictionary is only 5 pages long, and the Great Bible Stories section is a list of 92 common Bible stories.  Both of these could be very much extended for referencing.  This would allow the Bible to work for children as they age.

This Bible also has a few inserts related to important concepts:  prayer, the 10 Commandments, love, and important children in the Bible to name a few.  Here’s where I would also like to see an expansion.  There are only 3 of these inserts in the whole Bible.  The last one is the ABC’s of becoming a Christian.   The Bible would appeal much more to children if there were more of these relevant passages included throughout the Under The Sea Holy Bible.

All in all, this is a very nice starter Bible for children.  It has the basics needed for a 3rd or 4th grader.   As a child gets older and begins to explore more, it is a Bible that would need to be replaced with one that has more expansive passages and explanations about concepts throughout.

 

Want a copy of your own?  I have partnered with Fly By Promotions to provide this review AND a chance for you to have a copy of your own!  Just leave a comment below telling me what Bible verse is your favorite to share with children.  I’ll draw a winner on April11th!  The winner will get his/her own copy of the Under The Sea Holy Bible.

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Robin Gwaro is the Young Adult and Women’s Literature Editor at Bookgateway.com. She currently spends her days wrangling her 3rd grade science nerd and toddler aged busy body. You can visit her world of randomness at justwanderingnotlost.net, where there is no spoon.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan

tellthewindandfire-1Lucie Manette is the Golden Thread in the Dark.  The symbol of freedom to the Dark Magicians long oppressed by the Light.  The symbol of need for that oppression by the Light Magicians. A young woman who desires to be neither, and yet must be both.

Tell The Wind and Fire
by Sarah Rees Brennan
Clarion Books
April 2016

Having missed the last train to Light New York and forced to take a later one, Lucie and her boyfriend, Ethan Stryker, are stopped by Light Guards.  Ethan has been accused of treason, an offense punishable by instant death.  Saved only by her image, his name, and a stranger with a familiar countenance, Lucie is brought face-to-face with a secret that could destroy the foundation of the Light’s most powerful family.

Although she’s accustomed to keeping secrets, Lucie is still rattled by what she learns.  She makes decisions that will impact the course of the Light…and the Dark.  She becomes an unwitting pawn in a game in which there are no winners.  The heroine in a story for which there can be no happy ending.

Before I can speak to the story, I have to speak to Sarah Rees Brennan’s writing of it.  Story aside, the writing is brilliant.  Her prose is lyric and deep, bringing the scenes and feelings to life.  I could read books of hers over and over again, just for the writing itself.

As to the story, I wish it lived up to the talent of the writer putting pen to paper (or keystroke to keyboard, as it were).  About mid-book, I kept wondering where we were headed.  There are so many undercurrents that felt unresolved.  If this is the start of a series, then that makes sense.  If it is not, then  is hard to reconcile this into something I can say that I liked.  Appreciated, yes.  Liked?  Not so much.

It does, however, live up to the theme of similar novels by other authors.  Dystopian novels will not have happy endings, and that is something to which the reader must reconcile him/herself going in.   I wasn’t looking for happy inasmuch as I was looking for resolution.   I can deal with unhappy; I have issues with incomplete.

Overall, again, if this is the start of a series, then I could read others to see where Rees Brennan might take us.  Based on her writing, the journey would be incredible.

 


Robin Gwaro is the Young Adult and Women’s Literature Editor at Bookgateway.com. She currently spends her days wrangling her 3rd grade science nerd and toddler aged busy body. You can visit her world of randomness at justwanderingnotlost.net, where there is no spoon.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Fragile and Perfectly Cracked by Sophie Wyndham

fragilecover1 in 4 women.  25% of us.  We will walk a path no one wants to travel.  We will endure a pain no one wants to share.  We will join a club no one wants to join.  1 in 4 of us will know what it’s like to lose a child.
Fragile and Perfectly Cracked
by Sophie Wyndham
Independent Book Publisher’s Association
July 2015

In 2009, Sophie and her husband decided they were ready to start a family.  Like so many others, they don’t anticipate any problems.  They don’t yet know the statistics:  that a woman with a normal cycle only has a 20% chance of conceiving each month.   They move forward with excitement for this next stage in their lives.

Almost a year later, Sophie finds herself planning and preparing for the arrival of a son.  After not feeling well for a week, she begins to have complications.  The baby they’ve longed and hoped for will not be leaving the hospital in their arms, only in their hearts.

What follows is another try, another loss, then Sophie’s account of her journey through infertility treatments.   It is a raw, graphic, no holds barred view of what she endured.

Having traveled the same path as Sophie, it’s VERY hard for me to be objective.  The fact that she’s willing to open the pain of these moments and share with the world is highly commendable.  Sophie doesn’t sugar coat what she endured.   It’s a recommended read, but readers should be prepared for graphic details.   There are unhappy parts to any journey through loss and infertility, and Sophie doesn’t hold back.

If there’s one critique I can add, it’s that I wish it was longer.   I think opening up further could help the 75% better understand how to support a friend who might be experiencing infertility or loss.   Adding in what helped her cope best through those losses, particularly with outside support would allow a non-member of the club some insight into helping.

Overall, that’s a really small complaint in sight of the memoir.  Thank you, Sophie, for sharing your hurt.

I’m sorry you had to join this club.

 


Robin Gwaro is the Young Adult and Women’s Literature Editor at Bookgateway.com. She currently spends her days wrangling her 8 year old science nerd and 10 month old busy body.  You can visit her world of randomness at justwanderingnotlost.net, where there is no spoon.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

The Bones of You by Debbie Howells

bonesofyouThe Andersons are the perfect family. Loving father, devoted wife, impeccably behaved daughters. Then Rosie, their older daughter, goes missing, only to be found murdered. The perfect image of their lives begins to unravel, leading to deep secrets no one is prepared to learn.

The Bones of You
by Debbie Howells
Kensington Books
July 2015

Kate learns that Rosie is missing from her friend Jo, Rosie’s mother.  In an effort to be supportive, Kate reaches out to a woman she only knows on the surface.   Kate finds herself drawn into the mystery surrounding Rosie’s death, only later to be shocked by the truth.

This novel is another entry into the category of flashback novels.  They story alternates between Kate’s present and the deceased Rosie’s past musings.  It is, sadly, a poor man’s The Lovely Bones.

I could never really get into any of Kate’s chapters.  I kept waiting for her to develop as a character, to become more than what she does.  She starts naive, trusting, unsure that what she’s learning is real.  She ends naive, trusting, unsure that what she’s learned is real.   She never develops and excuses the killer’s behavior in the end (no spoilers, I promise!).

Rosie’s chapters are better.  Unfortunately, these chapters make the disparity between the two characters even more painfully evident.  It’s almost like two different people were writing the book.  Where Kate never really changes, Rosie (albeit dead) develops and grows into her own through her narrative.

In the end, save the time.  Read The Lovely Bones instead.   This novel, sadly, left me feeling quite flat.


Robin Gwaro is the Young Adult and Women’s Literature Editor at Bookgateway.com. She currently spends her days wrangling her 8 year old science nerd and 10 month old busy body.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! by Jonathan Evison

harrietchanceHarriet Chance has always taken a back seat in her life.  As described in the novel, she’ “cheap” with herself.  She decides to take a chance on a trip, not knowing that she’ll soon discover everything she’s known is turned upside down.

This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance!
by Jonathan Evison
Algonquin Books
September 2015

Harriet Chance just spent the last two years of her life caring for her husband during his rapidly declining mental health.  Two years after his passing, she gets a call telling her he’s won a cruise to Alaska.  Against what’s normal for her, she decides to go and invites her spontaneous best friend on the trip.

At the last minute, her friend backs out.  Sending a cryptic letter explaining the absence.    What follows are glimpses into Harriet’s past and the way that Harriet has justified her life and treatment from Bernard during their marriage.  The picture painted is very different than what Harriet has created in her mind.

The tale that Jonathan Evison weaves in this novel is in turns hilarious and tragic.  You meet Harriet’s adult daughter and learn things about Harriet that change your view of her.  Overall, I think younger generations get the idea of the “cute little old lady,” and Evison tosses that to the wind.  You get to know Harriet as an individual, you see how she’s treated as a senior citizen, and you are challenged in the way YOU treat those in generations before you.

As the novel unfolds, Evison uses flashbacks that are tied to what’s occurring in Harriet’s present.  This is the PERFECT way to incorporate flashbacks into a novel.  It’s relevant to what you’re reading, and it doesn’t feel jarring like flashbacks used in other novels I’ve read recently.

No spoilers, but the ending left me floundering.  I was expecting something completely different, and Evison threw me for a loop.  While I LOVED the novel as a whole, the end left me unsatisfied.


Robin Gwaro is the Young Adult and Women’s Literature Editor at Bookgateway.com. She currently spends her days wrangling her 3rd grade science nerd and toddler aged busy body. You can visit her world of randomness at justwanderingnotlost.net, where there is no spoon.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin

blackeyedTessa is the lone survivor of a serial killer. The only Susan to survive several brutal murders. She helped put the killer behind bars. Years later, as his execution date approaches, Tessa finds messages left for her. Is the wrong man behind bars?

Black-Eyed Susans
by Julia Heaberlin
Ballentine Books
June 2015

 At seventeen years old, Tessa was subjected to pain and torture, left blinded by psychosis, and survived the rampage of a serial killer.  She fought to put the pieces of her life back together, slowly but surely.  She’s even been able to heal enough to have her own daughter.

Many times over the years, Tessa was approached by an inmate’s advocate who questioned the guilt of the man sentenced for the crimes.  It’s not until his exectution approaches that Tessa also begins to question.  And she only questions based on “gifts” that are being left for her.

I really wanted to like this.  The premise seemed solid, as did the characters.  The flaw in Julia Heaberlin’s novel is really in the formatting.  I don’t mind flashbacks as a general rule.  However, every other chapter in this novel flashes back to Tessa’s past, followed by a chapter in present day.  This continues through the entire book.

After a few chapters, it gets cumbersome to wade through.  I want to be able to enjoy fiction and focus on the building suspense in thrillers.  For me, this jumping back and forth only served as a disruption, never really allowing that suspense to build.

In the end, it became so disruptive to me that I couldn’t finish the novel.   I wasn’t left like I NEEDED to find out what happened.

So I didn’t.


Robin Gwaro is the Young Adult and Women’s Literature Editor at Bookgateway.com. She currently spends her days wrangling her 8 year old science nerd and 7 month old busy body.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Wabanaki Blues by Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel

wabanaki-blues-coverMona Lisa LaPierre’s parents give her little notice that she’ll be spending the summer after graduation  in a remote cabin with her curmudgeonly grandfather.    Mona must learn who she is in the face of family secrets and her dual Native American heritage.

Wabanaki Blues
by Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel
The Poisoned Pencil
June 2015

When Mona’s parents announce they’ll be heading to Russia to study bears, Mona is shocked to learn she’ll be spending the time with her granfather in remote New England woods.  She is forced to miss graduation and the chance to get her crush, Beetle, to notice her before they part.

Mona, the child of both Mohegan and Abenaki tribes, has a passion for blues.  This passion and the voice of her grandmother Bilki keep her grounded as she goes on a journey to learn the truth about a young woman’s disappearance and in reality, about herself.

Zobel, being Native American herself, really paid tribute to her heritage.  Instead of watering down Native traditions and stories, they took forefront in this novel.  Zobel shares her traditions and writes them with such reverence and respect.

I REALLY wanted to like this book.  Unfortunately, too many story lines and crossing details made it hard to keep the different parts of the story straight.  It’s a genuine coming of age story told in an uncoventional way, which I appreciate.  It just became very complex in a way that wasn’t able to keep me engaged.  Complex in the name of suspense is fantastic.  This just fell short of that for me.


Robin Gwaro is the Young Adult and Women’s Literature Editor at Bookgateway.com. She currently spends her days wrangling her 8 year old science nerd and 5 month old busy body.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

 

The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die by Marnie Riches

girlwhowouldntdie

The University of Amsterdam is sent into a panic after a series of murders and explosions. Georgina McKenzie is invited to help keep an eye out for anything suspicious that happens on campus.  What she doesn’t realize is that someone is also keeping an eye on her.

The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die
by Marnie Riches
Harper Collins, Maze
April 2015

When Georgina, or George as she’s known to her friends,  finds herself in the middle of what’s assumed to be a religiously driven terror plot, she ends up getting more than she bargained for.  Friends and classmates begin to die with no understood connection.

George goes beyond her initial “eyes peeled” request and begins to dig further into what is going on.  As a result, the main inspector on the case comes to her for recommendations.  As she gets deeper and deeper into the case, George finds herself more in the center of the investigation that she ever thought she’d be.

This novel is AMAZING!  This is the first of Riches’ work that I’ve read, and I would quickly grab another!  What seems to start out as a simple crime store with religious motivation quickly becomes so much more.  Riches throws a plot twist into the novel that is completely unexpected, yet perfectly executed in this fast-paced, exciting novel.

While some of the loose ends were tied up, Riches left just enough open for George’s return to another novel coming in August of this year, and I can’t wait to read it!

 


Robin Gwaro is the Young Adult and Women’s Literature Editor at Bookgateway.com. She currently spends her days wrangling her 8 year old science nerd and 5 month old busy body.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

 

Eeny Meeny by Arlidge

arlidge

What would you do if you had to make a choice?  If you were imprisoned with no food, no water, someone you know, and a gun?  Two go in, but only one can come out.   How do you choose?

Eeny Meeny
by M. J. Alridge
Penguin Group
June 2015

Helen Grace is a respected, hard-working Detective Inspector.   She has been charged with leading the investigation into a heinous serial killer who forces victims to make a choice between his/her own life or the life of his/her fellow captive.  Initially, Grace doesn’t believe the stories the victims are telling, until the capture repeats itself several more times.

Grace must follow a sadistic mind, battling her own demons as she goes.  She is forced to confront the limitations of her present and the horrors of her past as she races to stop the orchestrator of these horrible crimes.

Based on the background, I was really hoping to like this novel.  I am a fan of a crime stories, so I was really excited to get into this one.  As the story started, it seemed pretty promising.  There’s the central crime, as well as some office intrigue that leaves many of the inspectors and officers distrustful.

Even with that, as the story progressed, it was less and less what I thought it would be.  Sometimes, this is a good thing.  In the case of Eeny Meeny, it wasn’t.   There were many moments where the change in point of view was jarring.   While I think the intention was to keep the character shrouded in mystery, the transitions weren’t smooth.

Also, I completely recognize this is the first in what will be a series of novels featuring Helen Grace.  That being said, as a reader I needed more of her background to be unfolded earlier in the story for the ending to not be so jarring.  It felt completely out of left field, again not in a good way.

So overall, I’m not sure I’d be interested enough in this series or Helen Grace as a character to read additional entries into this series.  She needed more to humanize her and make her likeable to the reader.  That didn’t really happen for me.

 


Robin Gwaro is the Young Adult and Women’s Literature Editor at Bookgateway.com.  She currently spends her days wrangling her 8 year old science nerd and 5 month old busy body.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

 

The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted Giveaway

Marriages either get better or worse.  They never stand still.”  -Dr. Gary Chapman

The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted
by Dr. Gary Chapman
Moody Publishers
2014

When my husband and I married 13 years ago, we were given a copy of Dr. Chapman’s “The 5 Love Languages.”  While I’ve never really been a fan of self-help, psychology books, something about Dr. Chapman’s work struck me as open and honest.  So, when given the opportunity to review “The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted,” I jumped at the chance.

Dr. Chapman’s work specifically details how marriages aren’t easy.  They don’t happen automatically, and they don’t happen without work.  In this book, he details through several chapters how we allow our marriages to drift apart and how we can then find out ways back together.  At the end of each chapter, Dr. Chapman takes readers through several introspective activities.   They are designed to get the reader thinking about their spouse and themselves, making the connection between the information he’s outlined in that chapter and the reader’s own specific situation.

What I like about Dr. Chapman is that he provides examples and anecdotes from both points of view: male and female.  Other books I’ve read by other Christian authors spend a great deal of time talking about how the source of the problem is a failure of the wife to take her more submissive role (Biblically) or the failure of the husband to  assert his authority on the marriage.  Instead, Dr. Chapman outlines key changes that BOTH spouses must make in order to strengthen the relationship.  He does so by also presenting key passages of the Bible for review and reflection.

Overall, I am as pleased as I was with “The 5 Love Languages.”    So much so, that I’m thrilled the generous team at Fly By Promotions has also provided a copy of Dr. Chapman’s book as a giveaway.

Interested?  Fill out the form below:  I’ll be drawing the winner by Saturday, 2/22.

This contest is over.


Robin Gwaro is the Young Adult and Women’s Literature Editor at Bookgateway.com. Her personal blog is Just Wandering. Not Lost. where she writes about whatever comes her way.

 

 

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”