Review: The Clearing

The ClearingThe Clearing by Heather Davis

Summary (from Goodreads): Amy, a sixteen-year-old recovering from an abusive relationship, moves to the country to start a new life with her aunt–all she wants is for everything to be different. In the clearing at the back of Aunt Mae’s property, she makes an amazing discovery—Henry, a boy stuck in the endless summer of 1944. Henry and his world become Amy’s refuge and she begins to learn that some moments are worth savoring. But when the past and present come crashing together, both of them must find the courage to face what is meant to be, even if it means losing each other forever.

My Thoughts: When I read the description of this book, I couldn’t help but think of The Time Traveler’s Wife. And it wasn’t just because the main male character is named Henry. There’s the clearing, similar to the large field where Henry and Clare first met – and where he often returned. Aside from that, though, the books really aren’t all that similar.

Amy leaves Seattle for a rural setting for a chance to start over. She’s now living with her great-aunt Mae. Behind Mae’s trailer is a clearing with a very heavy curtain of mist. Beyond that mist is a patch of land that still is in the year 1944. This is where Henry lives with his mother and grandfather. He and Amy fall in love, of course.

I really, really enjoyed this book. I’m happy I got to read it. It was different enough from The Time Traveler’s Wife that one did not interfere with the other. There’s still a great love story with some bittersweet parts mixed in. Unlike The Time Traveler’s Wife, I would say this one ends on a bit of a happier note.

What I found quite compelling was how Amy’s life was suddenly different once Henry returned home and decided to try to undo the limbo in which his family was living. Remarkable to me how drastically it altered Amy’s life, even to the point of sparing her what led to her move in the first place.

My Rating: 4.5 stars

Source: Received through Around The World Tours for review.

Read It: Get your own copy HERE. (This is an Amazon link, and purchase through this link will result in my receiving a small commission. Your support is appreciated!)

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Teaser Tuesday: The Clearing

Teaser TuesdaysTeaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read.
  • Open to a random page.
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

The ClearingHere’s mine:

“You folks chat, and I’ll go put on some coffee,” said Mae as if she hadn’t expected Mom and Pete, which was hilarious since she’d probably known they were coming.

“Did Mae ask you to stop by?” ~ Page 71 of The Clearing by Heather Davis

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT with either the link to your own Teaser Tuesdays post, or share your 2 “teasers” in a comment here (if you don’t have a blog). Thanks!

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Review: That’s Where God Is

That's Where God IsThat’s Where God Is by Daniel Morrow

Summary (from Goodreads.com): A boy’s simple question sparks a search for God. Prompted by his grandfather, he discovers God’s presence everywhere: in a powerful storm, in a friend’s help, and in his sister’s kindness. Then his grandfather shares another truth: God also can be found in our hearts, if we inviite him in. Filled with wonder, That’s Where God Is! teaches children ages 4 – 8 that God is always with them. Moving beyond simply telling about God, it gently guides children’s spiritual growth, showing them how to recognize God’s presence for themselves. With an introduction by Lee Strobel, it’s ideal for parents, grandparents, and teachers who want to deepen a young child’s walk with God.

My Thoughts: What an absolutely wonderful book! At the beginning of the story, he asks his grandpa where God is, and is told to look for Him over the next week. From the playground and home to the zoo – and even in a storm – a little boy discovers that God is everywhere. The book ends after he tells his grandfather of his discoveries, and his grandfather leads him to invite God into his heart. What an absolutely wonderful, natural way to help introduce children to the notion of having God in their hearts! I love how it’s not forced, but a natural extension of the story of how a boy finds God in everything everywhere.

There also are Bible verses as the boy discovers God in various places, each verse applies to the location in which He is found. Then, at the end of the book we have Psalm 139:1-10. A great verse to share with children.

My 4-year-old son and I absolutely loved this story. When I asked him what he thought, the first word he said was “good.” Then he said, “It was fun.” The pictures are pretty, too.

One last note, there’s a message at the back from Lee Strobel, and athiest-turned-Christian. The author of The Case for Christ and other similar titles, Strobel discloses that this book was written by his daughter and son-in-law. Having read The Case for Christ – and knowing Strobel’s story – I found this information made me smile.

My Rating: 5 of 5 stars

Source: Received through The B&B Media Group, Inc. in exchange for an honest review.

Read It: You can get your own copy HERE. (This is an Amazon link, and purchase through this link will result in my receiving a small commission. Your support is appreciated!)

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Review: The Berenstain Bears and the Gift of Courage

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:

and the book:

The Berenstain Bears and the Gift of Courage

Zonderkidz (April 9, 2010)

***Special thanks to Krista Ocier of Zondervan for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:


Stan and Jan Berenstain introduced the first Berenstain Bear books in 1962. Mike Berenstain grew up watching his parents work together to write about and draw these lovable bears. Eventually he started drawing and writing about them too. Mike is married to Andrea, and they have three children. They live in Pennsylvania, in an area that looks a lot like Bear Country.

Visit the authors’ website.

Product Details:

List Price: $3.99
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Zonderkidz (April 9, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310712564
ISBN-13: 978-0310712565

PRESS THE BROWSE BUTTON TO VIEW THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Z
Browse Inside
Browse

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My Thoughts: This is another adorable book featuring the Berenstain Bears, one of my favorite groups of characters when I was a kid. I signed up for this one because I thought my kids would like it, and they do. My 2-year-old wanted us to read this to her multiple times! :-) That’s always the sign of a good book! ;-) I love that these books teach children important life lessons, too.

My Rating: 4.5 stars

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Review: Cate of the Lost Colony

Cate of the Lost ColonyCate of the Lost Colony by Lisa M. Klein

Summary (from Goodreads): The greatest unsolved mystery of American history – what happened to all the colonists who landed on Roanoke Island in 1587? This novel traces the fortunes and misfortunes of one Cate Archer, banished to Virginia by a jealous Queen Elizabeth because of her dalliance with Sir Walter Ralegh. What will be her fate in this dangerous New World?

My Thoughts: The lost colony of Roanoke was something that I always found quite interesting when studying history. What happened to those people? Where did they go? Cate of the Lost Colony provides an intriguing – and quite plausible – explanation: The people were absorbed into the Native American tribes nearby. I know that’s not something that ever would have crossed my mind before reading this book, but I’m sure historians and/or scholars have considered this possible outcome. I loved that this story presented this theory, because it was new to me and it makes sense.

Why only three stars? Well, I didn’t really like some of the characters, and felt that the details were a bit off. My main problem was with Cate. She started out OK, but by the end of the book she got on my nerves. Not necessarily because there was anything wrong with her, except that she was not a personality I could see thriving in that time period. Plus, she did not sound/feel like a teenager – or even in her early 20s. Her wisdom and thoughts in many situations were those I would expect of someone at least 10 years her senior. Her character just didn’t seem to fit with the story.

If you like historical fiction – especially Colonial American – then this is worth a read. It provides a fascinating, and believable, explanation for what possibly could have happened to the colonists who settled in at Roanoke. That alone made me glad I read it.

My Rating: 3 of 5 stars

Source: Received through Around The World Tours for review.

Read It: Get your own copy HERE. (This is an Amazon link, and purchase through this link will result in my receiving a small commission. Your support is appreciated!)

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Review: Forget You

Forget YouForget You by Jennifer Echols

Summary: There’s a lot Zoey would like to forget. Like how her father has knocked up his twenty-four- year old girlfriend. Like Zoey’s fear that the whole town will find out about her mom’s nervous breakdown. Like darkly handsome bad boy Doug taunting her at school. Feeling like her life is about to become a complete mess, Zoey fights back the only way she knows how, using her famous attention to detail to make sure she’s the perfect daughter, the perfect student, and the perfect girlfriend to ultra-popular football player Brandon.  But then Zoey is in a car crash, and the next day there’s one thing she can’t remember at all—the entire night before. Did she go parking with Brandon, like she planned? And if so, why does it seem like Brandon is avoiding her? And why is Doug—of all people— suddenly acting as if something significant happened between the two of them? Zoey dimly remembers Doug pulling her from the wreck, but he keeps referring to what happened that night as if it was more, and it terrifies Zoey to admit how much is a blank to her. Controlled, meticulous Zoey is quickly losing her grip on the all-important details of her life—a life that seems strangely empty of Brandon, and strangely full of Doug.

My Thoughts: There were some things that bugged me with this book.

  1. Zoey’s preoccupation with appearances. Her mom has done an “excellent” job of raising her to believe that it doesn’t matter what’s going on, so long as you can make everyone else around you believe that everything is always perfect. Always keep the nails perfectly manicured. Never cry in front of people. And on and on. No wonder this woman attempted suicide! Pretending like everything’s OK when it’s anything BUT, well, that’s just really unhealthy.
  2. Zoey’s dad is an asshole (pardon the language). He cares NOTHING for his poor daughter. And he doesn’t want her to be a “spoiled brat” so he won’t do much of anything for her. He has tons of money – which he freely lavishes on his mistress/fiancee, but won’t help his daughter out. She had to buy an old Bug. That’s fine, those are cute cars. But, when she totals it in an accident, well, her dad tells her she has to get something safer. But she can’t afford something safer. She calls him on that, pointing out how he won’t help her buy a car, but he won’t let her buy what she can afford … And he is a complete jerk to her. And he’s pissed at her about the accident, because it’s close to when he’s leaving for Hawaii to get married. After her mother’s suicide attempt, he tells Zoey NOT to tell ANYONE about what happened. He doesn’t trust her all, and installs video cameras throughout the house so he can check on her. One last thing: she is FORBIDDEN to enter his office. Cannot go in there AT ALL, not for ANY reason. What is that man hiding? (No, we don’t find out.)
  3. Zoey is an idiot. She sleeps with Brandon once and thinks that means they’re “dating.” They never actually went on a date, she just decided to lose her virginity with him the same day she left her mom in the “loony bin” (the term used by her). But, for some reason she tells herself they’re in love and they’re dating. She’s constantly making excuses for why he’s always blowing her off, and why he’s always with Stephanie Wetzel (a character who’s almost always referred to by first AND last name – why?). I could see right off the bat that he didn’t think Zoey was anything more than a one-night stand. Another thing making her an idiot: she doesn’t fess up to the amnesia. WHY NOT? Is that part of the appearing to have it all together? Must be, but, man! Frustrating, to say the least!
  4. Chapter breaks were in bad spots. There would be in-chapter breaks that changed scene or focus, but chapter breaks were often in the middle of the action. It didn’t make sense to me, and I felt it negatively affected the flow of the story.

Despite these issues, I really enjoyed the book. I liked Doug and Zoey (despite my issues with her), and really liked them together. While there were some things I felt should have been addressed, I did feel that the ending was satisfactory.

Am I glad I read this? Yes. Would I read this again? Maybe.

My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: Received through We Love YA! Tours for review.

Read It: You can get your own copy HERE. (This is an Amazon link, and purchase through this link will result in my receiving a small commission. Your support is appreciated!)

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Review: Crossed Out

Crossed OutCrossed Out by Kim Baccellia

Summary (from Goodreads): Stephanie Stewart didn’t ask for her gift of guiding the deceased to the other side but she’s stuck with it. Why can’t dead people just follow that bright light and leave her alone? When Mr. Undead wants to use her special talent for his own evil purposes, her little gift becomes a major liability.

My Thoughts: This book has a great premise and a great idea, but it’s really not very well executed. It was interesting, but not very deep. It should be deep, but it’s not. Add to that, this book has many editing errors, from grammar errors and typos to plot inconsistencies. The typos are simple things like missing periods, missing quotation marks, or “as” instead of “a” in one spot. Then there are spots that just look like sloppy editing. One example (from page 206):

Dylan turned the car toward a huge brown building peaking [sic] out over the hill – a cross between an old boarding prep school and hospital, peeked out over the hill.

Yikes. That’s one messy, confusing sentence. Not to mention “peaking” used in place of “peeking.” There were enough of these sloppy editing errors to make it distracting, especially when I factor in grammar errors and the aforementioned plot inconsistencies. Speaking of, check out the following example:

I glanced at the phone number scratched on the back of my hand. ~ page 58

As she climbed into her car, I took another peek at the black numbers in my palm. ~ page 61

I glanced down now at the slightly smudged on my palm and called. ~ page 62

So, was the number on the back of her hand or on the palm? It makes a difference. Consistency is important in writing – and not just reporting or nonfiction. It’s important in fiction, too, if for no reason other than the fact that it’s distracting to the reader. There was another one. Earlier in the book, during a dream, Stephanie slips on a lot of acorns. She thinks about whether the squirrels could find them, because winter is coming and they would need them.

Weird, how, at a time like this, I would be worried about those fearless furry rodents. ~ page 64

But, later, rats are mentioned, and we read that she is not fond of rodents.

I hated any kind of rodent. ~ page 151

So, she’s worried about the poor squirrels, which she refers to as “rodents” early on, but later proclaims that she hates all rodents. So … why’s she worried about the squirrels, then? A minor inconsistency – and not crucial to the plot – but it’s still an inconsistency. For astute readers, stuff like that is annoying and/or distracting. The writing shouldn’t interfere with the plot. The writing should bring a reader into the story and feel like he/she is a part of the world within those pages. I was never brought into Stephanie’s world. I felt like I was being talked to, not being drawn in.

Overall, it’s a great concept, and the story has great potential. I think that the story itself isn’t to blame for the weaknesses. The writing needs some tweaking, the characters need more depth, and the editing needs to be fixed. I will say, though, that I will make sure to read the sequel. There are some questions I want answered, and I hope those answers come in the next book.

My Rating: 2.5 stars

Source: Received as part of a blog tour promotion on Pump Up Your Book.

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