Review: The Lost Saint

The Lost Saint (The Dark Divine,  #2)The Lost Saint by Bree Despain

Summary: A family destroyed. A love threatened. An enemy returns.

Grace Divine made the ultimate sacrifice to cure Daniel Kalbi. She was infected with the werewolf curse while trying to save him, and lost her beloved brother in the process.

Desperate to find Jude, Grace befriends Talbot, a newcomer to town. But as the two grow closer, Grace’s relationship with Daniel is put in danger – in more ways than one.

Unaware of the dark path she is walking, Grace begins to give into the wolf inside of her – not realizing that an enemy has returned and a deadly trap is about to be sprung.

My Thoughts: I have been waiting for this book for months – ever since I read The Dark Divine, which I LOVED enough to rate as one my 10 favorite books read in 2010! I could not wait to read The Lost Saint once it arrived. I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting, but I felt a tiny bit let down by this book. Don’t get me wrong, it was still awesome. Just not as awesome as I expected it to be. I wasn’t fully engrossed until about the last third or even quarter of the book. I suppose it’s the curse of the second in a series – whether we’re talking books, movies, or something else, that second in the series rarely lives up to the first. And, usually, the third is much better – often even better than the first. But now I am getting ahead of myself.

Getting back on track …

I was able to piece a lot of it what was going on together in my head. There wasn’t much that surprised me. I felt like Grace was just being an idiot at times – especially given that Gabriel, her father, and even Daniel had more knowledge, wisdom, and experience when it came to werewolves. Why dismiss them so quickly? I don’t remember Grace being this pig-headed or (sorry, but I have to say it) stupid in the first book.

I loved the ending. How everything all played out. It almost swayed me to give this a 5-star review. That said, I do have questions (and no, I didn’t lower the rating because of the questions). What’s happening with Daniel? And Jude? I so cannot figure Jude out. Is there hope for Grace and her family? How many books are planned? I cannot imagine this being satisfactorily resolved merely with a third book. There’s just so much I want to know. It feels too big for just one book to settle things.

Despite whatever issues I had with the book, they were quite minor. They didn’t really detract from my enjoyment of the book. The Dark Divine blew me away, and I suppose it’s only natural that I’d be mildly disappointed by this one. And I hate using the word “disappointed,” because I wasn’t really. I just wasn’t as amazed by it as I was by the first.

Long story short: The Lost Saint was awesome, but falls a bit short of my expectations. But I cannot stress enough that it was fabulous! It’s a great continuation of the story begun in The Dark Divine, and I cannot wait to see where this series goes next!

Favorite Quotes: I don’t always do this, but felt compelled to do so this time.

But even though Dad’s spiels always made me want to bang my head on my desk, I couldn’t help believing the things he was telling us about waiting for marriage. It just seemed to go with the whole package, you know? That if I believed in Jesus, and believed in all those parables he taught, and believed in forgiving people – then what the Bible had to say about sex being sacred and special had to be right, too. ~ page 186-187 (ARC)

As a mother of three, two of which are girls, I am SO HAPPY to see this in the book! Soooo very happy. I couldn’t agree more! It is so refreshing to see a statement like this in a YA book, as there are so many out there where sex isn’t seen in this light. I wish there were more books for teenagers – especially girls – that not only showed abstinence, but did so in such a positive, logical manner! Thank you, Bree Despain, for doing this!

My Rating: 4.5 stars

Source: Received through Around The World Tours for review.

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

Challenges: Counts for 100 Books in a Year Reading Challenge 2011, the 2nds Challenge (second in a series AND second book I read by Bree Despain), and iChallenges 2011.

Find me on Goodreads.com >>

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Review: Midnight Rising

Midnight Rising: Warning Signs for This GenerationMidnight Rising: Warning Signs for This Generation by William Anderson Simpson
ISBN: 978-1-935-265-30-6
Publisher: Deep River Books
Publishing Date: September 1st, 2010
Price: $14.99

Summary (from back cover): America is the nation that has consistently been the broker for Middle East peace. Midnight Rising makes the case for an American antichrist. The entire geo-political stage is alignted for the events that follow the rapture, and the push is on to resolve one issue that holds back the dark days of the tribulation – the signing of a Middle East peace agreement.

Simpson points out that whichever president is in power when the light of his reason proves to be darkness (cp. Mt. 6:22-23), he will be known for certain by the brokering of a comprehensive Middle East peace treaty between Israel and “many.” It could be this president … but it could just as easily be the next, or one of many down the line.

In these pages, you will find a biblical argument in favor of the Evangelicals’ urgent call for teaching and preaching concerning the things about to burst forth onto the world stage.

My Thoughts: I have been interested in end-times prophecy for a very long time, even going so far as to take a course on it when I was in high school. When the opportunity came for me to review this book, I couldn’t pass it up. I actually have found myself wondering if the antichrist was coming from America – if there was even a chance of that. When I realized that’s what this book was about, I was quite excited.

Simpson makes a compelling case for America being the country from which the antichrist arises. He matches up prophecy from Revelations with many other prophecies throughout the Bible – Daniel and Ezekiel, to name two. He pieces it together, showing us just how close the stage is to being ready for the Rapture, then the Tribulation. So many things have fallen into place. So many things are ready. And, as Simpson says, with the huge focus on peace in the Middle East, how can we not see just how close we are to the end of the Church Age?

My only complaint is that I felt like the book was quite repetitive. I think it’s because the scriptures are taken separately and discussed on their own. As Simpson explains each chunk of scripture, it reinforces the others that he explains, and inevitably that leads to repetition. I’m not sure how that could be fixed, as I think the analysis of the pertinent scriptures separately helps with clarity. The repetition brings home the point that this is indeed something mentioned all over the Bible.

Overall, this is something I’m glad I’ve read. This book is not only compelling, but quite thought-provoking. I found myself talking about it with my husband last night, and I’m planning to share this book with friends who are interested in it. It’s very interesting reading, and quite the eye-opener for Christians everywhere. Jesus is coming, and how wonderful would it be if WE are the generation that escapes physical death? How cool would that be? And if not us, maybe our children!

Favorite Quotes: I don’t always do this, but there is one quote that I just have to share.

The saints of the early Church suffered persecution from the beginning, and we continue to do so today. The persecution we endure today is mostly different in character in this respect: theirs was terror and physical suffering, whereas today Satan is attacking the Church in more subtle ways, distracting and diverting us from the most important times in the history of the world.

Man worries about global warming but has no fear of those things the Bible says will happen. ~ page 72

My thoughts almost exactly on the whole “global warming” issue. While I agree that we should take care of the planet God gave us, I believe in the inevitability of events revealed through prophecy that has been shared via the Bible. While, yes, the environment is important, all the recycling, carbon-footprint reduction, etc. isn’t going to change what is to come. And it isn’t going to save the already-doomed earth. Now, though, I better understand my frustration with the extensive focus on global warming and whatnot. This book really helped me better understand my own thoughts on things! :-)

My Rating: 3.5 stars

Source: Received from Bring It On! Communications in exchange for an honest review.

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

Challenges: Counts for 100 Books in a Year Reading Challenge 2011.

Find me on Goodreads.com >>

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Book Blogger Hop: February 25-28

Yet another thing I’ve all but forgotten over the past several months. It’s so nice to get back into the swing of things!

If you’re new to Proud Book Nerd, please make yourself at home! I find making new book-loving friends to be a lot of fun. I have discovered genres and authors I never would have otherwise! If you leave me a link to your post, I will be happy to come by. Let me know if you’re a new follower, and I’ll return the favor!

Book Blogger HopAbout the Hop: In the spirit of the Twitter Friday Follow, the Book Blogger Hop is a place just for book bloggers and readers to connect and find new blogs that we may be missing out on! This weekly BOOK PARTY is an awesome opportunity for book bloggers to connect with other book lovers, make new friends, support each other, and generally just share our love of books!  It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs that they may not know existed! It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs to read! Every week there is a question to answer to help us get to know each other. The full rules can be found HERE.

This Week’s Question: “Do you ever wish you would have named your blog something different?”

My Answer: Not really. It fits. I’m a book nerd. Love to read, have a degree in English. I’m all about grammar, and even enjoy editing. (Yes, I said enjoy editing.) I can’t remember exactly how I finally ended up with Proud Book Nerd. What I do remember is that a little less than a year ago I decided to break my book reviews off into a new blog, rather than put it on my personal blog. I was on Blogger at the time, and tried several different things, and proudbooknerd was what was available. It worked, and when I decided to get my own domain, it just made sense to stick with it! :-)

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Book Beginnings & The Friday 56: The Good Sister

I have been out of it. I had no idea that both of these memes now have new homes! Book Beginnings is now at A Few More Pages, and The Friday 56 is now hosted at Freda’s Voice. And there’s a new button for both! :-) Works for me. Anyway, it appears the rules have changed a little. It used to be done with the book closest to you, with the fifth sentence on page 56. Now I get to pick! :-) Fun! Anyway …

For both of these, I’m using the same book. I haven’t actually started this book yet, but it is up next. (I grabbed the closest book out of laziness! LOL) Anyway, it’s The Good Sister by Drusilla Campbell.

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Book Beginnings on FridayHow to participate:

Share the first line (or two) of the book you are currently reading on your blog or in the comments. Include the title and the author so we know what you’re reading. Then, if you feel so moved, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line, and let us know if you liked or did not like the sentence. The link-up will be at A Few More Pages every Friday.

On the first day of Simone Duran’s trial for the attempted murder of her children, the elements conspired to throw their worst at Southern California.

Do I like this one? Um, YEAH! Grabs you right off the bat! I can’t wait to start this in the next day or two!

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The Friday 56

Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56.
*Find any sentence that grabs you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post in Linky HERE.

Sometimes as she walked along the water’s edge, long walks from the estuary almost to Bird Rock, schools of dolphins arced through the surf running parallel to shore as if they wanted to keep her company.

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Review: Sing You Home

Sing You Home: A NovelSing You Home: A Novel by Jodi Picoult

Summary (from Goodreads): Zoe Baxter has spent ten years trying to get pregnant, and after multiple miscarriages and infertility issues, it looks like her dream is about to come true – she is seven months pregnant. But a terrible turn of events leads to a nightmare – one that takes away the baby she has already fallen for; and breaks apart her marriage to Max. In the aftermath, she throws herself into her career as a music therapist – using music clinically to soothe burn victims in a hospital; to help Alzheimer’s patients connect with the present; to provide solace for hospice patients. When Vanessa – a guidance counselor – asks her to work with a suicidal teen, their relationship moves from business to friendship and then, to Zoe’s surprise, blossoms into love. When Zoe allows herself to start thinking of having a family, again, she remembers that there are still frozen embryos that were never used by herself and Max.

Meanwhile, Max has found peace at the bottom of a bottle – until he is redeemed by an evangelical church, whose charismatic pastor – Clive Lincoln – has vowed to fight the “homosexual agenda” that has threatened traditional family values in America. But this mission becomes personal for Max, when Zoe and her same-sex partner say they want permission to raise his unborn child.

My Thoughts: Jodi Picoult quickly became one of my favorite authors. I can’t remember exactly which book was the first of hers I’d read, as I remember a flurry of Picoult books being read in succession when I discovered her. She is a fabulous author, and her ability to get to the heart of controversial issues is amazing. This book reminded me of why I love her writing so much. Her ability to make the reader see past the issues and see the people instead is remarkable. Believe me, that is especially true with this book.

Full disclosure: I am a born-again Christian. Grew up in an evangelical-type church. Still hold fast to most of those beliefs. My Christianity is the very heart of who I am. I cannot be separated from it. I might have times of faith crisis or questioning some of the smaller points of my beliefs, but I still believe the main bits: That God is real, that the Bible is Truth, and that Jesus came – and died – to give us life. As such, this was a hard book to read. And not because of my beliefs in regards to the issues central to this book. Rather, it was because of the portrayal of the Christians in this book. The worst part about it is knowing that it’s not an altogether wrong portrayal. There are Christians like that out there. They tend to be the most vocal, the most visible. And they make the rest of us look bad. I liked that there were a couple of Christian characters that kinda balanced it out a little. And I loved what Liddy said about love. Jesus said to love our neighbors. He didn’t say love them 90 percent of the time. He said just to love them. (This is a paraphrasing.) I do wish that Picoult had more of the compassionate Christians in the book to help balance out the ones who showed no mercy or even love.

I do feel like this helped me further sort through my own opinions on the subject of gay rights. And while I will never believe that it’s OK, I do believe that gay people should be treated the same as anyone else. Sexual orientation shouldn’t determine anything other than who one loves. Gay people are no less deserving of acceptance than African-Americans, Muslims, or any other “minority” group in the country. Especially in the eye of the law, wherein “all men are created equal.” (And, of course, extending that to all women, as well.) In short: this book really helped me see the error of my own thought patterns, and how I needed to become more accepting. Thank God for His grace, as that’s the way it’ll come to pass.

While this book was fabulous and I found myself reading this in the span of a few hours (stop-and-go, thanks to the kiddos, of course), I didn’t feel it was Picoult’s best. To me, her best are Nineteen Minutes and Vanishing Acts. This didn’t pack quite the same punch as those did. I did like the way the courtroom stuff played out and how things played out. But, I want to know a few things. Namely, I wanna know more about what happened with Lucy after the trial. I also want to know about Max’s brother. Clearly things come to light, and I want to know how he copes and where he ends up. I also want to know about his relationship with Max. In short: too many unanswered questions for me. While the court part played out in a satisfying manner, everything else did not.

Finally, this book apparently comes with a CD, which was absent with the ARC I had. (This was a tour book that is shared amongst many, so it makes sense.) I would love to get my hands on a hard copy of this book simply to get a copy of the CD. I want to hear the songs that go with the different sections of the book. Although, my purpose for telling you I didn’t have access to the music was simply so you’d know why I didn’t review that component.

My Rating: 4.5 stars

Source: Received through Crazy Book Tours for review.

Read It: Sing You Home is scheduled for release on March 1, 2011. You can pre-order it HERE. (This is an Amazon link, and purchase through this link will result in my receiving a small commission. Your support is appreciated!)

Challenges: Counts for 100 Books in a Year Reading Challenge 2011.

Find me on Goodreads.com >>

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BTT: Something Old, Something New

Booking Through ThursdayI have seen Booking Through Thursday around the blogosphere for almost a year now, but hadn’t taken the time to participate before now. The rules for Booking Through Thursday (in general):

Copy the questions, paste them into your blog and answer them.

When you’re done, come back here and post a quick comment or trackback letting everyone know so we can read your responses. Be sure to leave a link to your actual post! (Just type in the web-address–Wordpress will automatically turn it into a link for you.)

If you don’t have a blog yet, then just post your answers in the Comments area for the set of questions you are responding to.

Lastly, no, you do NOT have to answer on Thursdays. Please feel free to answer any time you want, we’re just glad to have you.

No, I won’t post those rules every week. Just this time, my first time participating! ;-)

This week’s question is an easy one for me to answer:

All other things being equal–do you prefer used books? Or new books? (The physical speciman, that is, not the title.) Does your preference differentiate between a standard kind of used book, and a pristine, leather-bound copy?

Generally, I prefer new books. Brand-spanking new. The main reason is that I LOVE the scent of a brand-new book. Love that scent. But also, I like my books in pristine condition. I don’t dog-ear pages, write in the books, break the binding, allow book covers to get creased (when I can help it), etc. I keep my books in the best possible condition, even after reading. When I buy new books, I will check out all of them on the shelf to find the one that’s in the best shape – binding looks good, no tears or creases or anything like that. Whichever one is in the best condition is the one I buy. Most used books aren’t in such great shape.

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Review: Walking with Elephants by Karen S. Bell

Walking with ElephantsSummary: Suze Hall is at a crossroads. Her nemesis at work, Wanda, has been promoted and now will be her boss. Her husband, Bob, is leaving her and the three kids for a six-month sabbatical down under. To top it off, her best friend, Marcia, is missing in action–playing footsie with some new boyfriend!

Adding to this disaster stew, David, the gorgeous hunk who broke her young-girl’s heart, has coincidentally popped back into her life and has something she desperately needs to keep her job.

Walking with Elephants, a lighthearted slice-of-life story, brings to the table the serious work/family issues facing women today. It explores the modern dichotomy of a workplace that is filled with homemakers who still must cook, clean, carpool on nights and weekends, shop for prom dresses, and “create” the holidays—such as Suze. But it also is filled with women who have the same drive as men, have no family responsibilities, and will do whatever it takes to get ahead.

So step into the shoes of Suze Hall and commiserate over workplace politics, titillate your sexual fantasies, ride the wave of a working mother, and fall-down laughing.

My Thoughts: I started reading this book, made it halfway, and ended up with the flu. I was out of commission for several days, but was able to finish once my brain had recovered from the flu. (Oh, yes, my brain. It took me a couple of days to feel up to reading much of anything after I was physically doing better.) Why am I telling you this? Well, because I am afraid it’ll affect my review in that the first half and second half of the book are somewhat disjointed in my head. It’s not the book’s fault, but the flu‘s fault! Fortunately, I did make some short notes, so hopefully that’ll make the difference in this review.

In short, there’s good, there’s bad, and there’s ugly. I think I’ll work backward – from ugly to good. Ending on a positive note is always good, right? The ugly: this was horribly, horribly edited. For some reason, quotes were the worst. More specifically, quotation marks often were MIA. There were other things wrong, but the quotes were the most frustrating and the most distracting. I found myself going back over several passages because I couldn’t tell at first (sometimes not even at second) if someone was talking still or not. These kinds of errors are just inexcusable in a finished product.

The bad is more story issues, not so much on the grammar. I felt like there were just too many dream sequences in this book. While it can be an effective tool, I thought the dream sequence was overused here. Another complaint is that I would have liked to have seen more of David. Not the David in Suze’s memory or dreams, but David as a character. David now. If he and Suze are working on a project together, shouldn’t there be more interaction? I thought he was just too absent from the narrative. Also, some things I felt were rushed. There were scenes in which Suze went to lunch with a friend, but rather than us getting to be there with them, we get a quick summary of what happened. It was pretty common for scenes that could have been good to be summarized and left behind all too quickly. I think the book would have been much more interesting. And finally, there was way too much repetition. For example:

If this were the French Revolution the word guillotine would pop into my mind; the Wild West, I’d think scalping; the sixties, I’d think drug bust. ~ page 168

This is not the only time when there are three examples to illustrate something. By the time I read this, I found myself annoyed. Just mentioning the French Revolution is sufficient. I get the point. I think it’s fair to say most readers get the point.

And now for the good. Despite the issues I had with the narrative, I did enjoy Suze’s story. I could feel for her – especially with her issues with her husband taking off for six months in Australia. She handled it much more gracefully than I would have – at least when she’s actually talking to her husband. But, leaving her and the three kids seems to overstate the issue – her oldest is in college. Her other two are teenagers. While, yes, it’s still hard (especially with working full time, too) at least he didn’t do it while they were in diapers. Trust me, it could have been worse. But, still, I did enjoy the book. I didn’t find too many “fall-down laughing” moments, but it did make me smile and chuckle a bit here and there. Plus, there were some really good quotes throughout the book. A good example:

Life is a journey that we start alone and end alone and whatever happens in between is not ours for the keeping. ~ page 146

So true of life. So very true. That is not the only nugget in there, so if you want more you gotta read the book! ;-)

My Rating: 3 stars

Source: Received as part of a blog tour promotion on TLC Book Tours.

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

Karen S. BellAbout the Author:Walking with Elephants is my first novel, although I am not new to writing. I was a theater critic and celebrity interviewer for a weekly tabloid in Jacksonville, Fl and I earned a Master’s in Mass Communication from Oklahoma State University. For 15 years I was an editor/writer at a major accounting firm. I also was a technical editor for an accounting magazine that published monthly. Inspiration for this novel came from my direct contact with the joys of Corporate America and the balancing act that comes with being a working mother.”

Tour Info: For the main page for this blog tour, including more reviews of this book on other blogs, visit TLC’s post.

Challenges: Counts for 100 Books in a Year Reading Challenge 2011.

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