In the Bookcase


Book Review: The Christmas Joy Ride

The Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson (5 star review)

The Christmas Joy Ride

written by Melody Carlson

176 pages // published in 2015 // Christian fiction // Christmas

My Review...

5 Star Rating

If you're looking for a hot-off-the-presses release to get you in a festive mood for Christmas this year, Melody Carlson's newest holiday volume is the way to go.

Join with Joy Jorgenson, an 85-year-old woman who just loves decorating for Christmas and writing about it on her blog. She is about to move into an assisted living facility close to her sons in Phoenix. But she's going out with a bang -- a glittery, green-n-red-bedazzled BANG.

Her plan involves persuading her young friend, Miranda, to join with her on a crazy scheme -- joy riding from Chicago to Phoenix in the dead of winter, two women alone on the road, no one knows where they are. And what are they doing? -- delivering Christmas cheer wherever they go.

"It's worth it, dear. This'll be the trip of a lifetime."

What a fantastic and entertaining ride it is!

I've enjoyed some of Melody Carlson's other books, and this one didn't disappoint in the least -- in fact, it's now a favorite of mine! It's a good, solid story that covers innocent kindness, the best type, and the amazing amounts of fun you can have when sharing with others.

The Christmas Joy Ride is a lighthearted holiday story, sure to warm your heart (and toes!).

Thanks to the author and Netgalley for the free review copy & for the opportunity to express my honest opinions.

The Christmas Joy Ride has just been released this holiday season! [Buy your copy from Amazon.]

P.S. Like and vote for this review on Goodreads and Amazon.


Book Review: God's Servant Job [A Poem with a Promise]

God's Servant Job by Douglas Bond (5 star review)

God's Servant Job
A Poem with a Promise

written by Douglas Bond
illustrated by Todd Shaffer

32 pages // published in 2015 // children's picture book // Bible story

My Review...

5 Star Rating

Douglas Bond's new children's picture book is beautiful. It illustrates the story of Job well, and is easy for kids to understand. When the story is finished, you do indeed feel like you've just read "a poem with a promise" (as the subtitle implies).

The poem is well thought out, covering the story of Job as we know it -- but also describing it in depth and really bringing in relatable emotions for kids to connect with. I think it is best to read it aloud with your child, for at least the first time it is read -- due to some of the longer poetic phrases or bigger words. "God's Servant Job" can easily be used as a conversation starter with kids, as there are many things to discuss while you read.

Handily included in the back of the book are a list of big words with definitions, questions about the story, and questions that can help your child relate Job's story to their own life.

"I know that my Redeemer lives!
And with His life my sin forgives.
O Jesus, Lord, I'll hope and pray,
And patient be -- though come what may."
(Douglas Bond, God's Servant Job)

The only critical thing I can think of is that one thing that doesn't look "Biblical" is the illustration of Satan himself. He is characterized as a tall, blue dude dressed like an evil scientist -- and with a smoking pipe in hand, no less. All other illustrations appear to be true to the times, or what you would expect illustrated Bible stories to look like. I'm not sure what this is intended to signal to kids about the Devil, but it was unexpected (and seemed a little out of place). But! It doesn't detract from my high opinion of the book overall; I just felt it needed mentioning.

We need more Biblical books like this -- and I hope Mr. Bond will consider writing more of these.

Thanks to the author and Netgalley for the free review copy & for the opportunity to express my honest opinions.

God's Servant Job has just been released in October! [Buy your copy from Amazon.]

P.S. Like and vote for this review on Goodreads and Amazon.


Book Review: Kate's Innocence

Kate's Innocence by Sarah Holman (5 star review)

Kate's Innocence
Kate's Case Files, #1

written by Sarah Holman

118 pages // published in 2015 // Christian fiction // adventure

My Review...

5 Star Rating

Kate's Innocence is the first book in the brand new series from Sarah Holman, the Kate's Case Files series.

In this book, we find a young woman, Kate Mayfield, in an increasingly tough situation. Her college is bombed. Explosions rock the campus on the night that her life turns on her. Once the FBI intervene, the detective work gets going, and the fingers point towards Kate.

Life after high school in a military family meant going through a tour-of-duty in Africa and the Middle East for Kate. Now she's back in Minnesota getting a chemical engineering degree. It's what you do when you're going to become an explosives expert for the army. At a college where the students are all either political or military families, there are so many potential reasons why a bomb was placed on campus. What Kate can't figure out is who really was behind the damage -- but she seriously needs to get the FBI off her back. Pushing for her own innocence in the bombing incident is tricky, especially when even Kate herself can't deny the incriminating evidence.

I have a new fictional character to add to my favorites list. Logan, a young FBI agent, a girly-girl who knows how to kick criminals to the curb. In a skirt. This book may be about Kate's story, but Logan (along with the other FBI agents) play a big part in the plot and dialogue too. Patrick is another of the agents, and he's a keeper too. He tries to believe Kate when she says that she's not guilty -- even if it is hard to clear away all the compromising elements.

"It's my job to put the bad guys away and make sure innocent people don't get hurt. And with God's help, I am going to prove you are innocent." (Sarah Holman, Kate's Innocence)
This book upholds strong Christian morals... as ALL of Sarah Holman's stories do. I believe it is written for an adult audience, but it's a completely clean read. There is talk of dating, and perhaps the desire for a relationship between some characters. Still, it's appropriate for teens of any age to be interested in.

Kate's Innocence is a terrific adventure into the world of the FBI!

Immediately, I'm hooked on this first book, and anticipate the rest of the series. Apparently there will be 11 books!

Kate's Innocence releases today, Nov. 16th!! [Buy your copy from Amazon.]
PLUS! You could enter to win it! Today's the last day of the giveaway, but be sure to stop by my blog post from last week to get an exclusive from the author... and enter your name in the grand drawing.

P.S. Like and vote for this review on Goodreads and Amazon.


Sue Thomas & Kate {we're talking about Book #1 in the Kate's Case Files series!} + GIVEAWAY

Kate's Innocence, new release!
What would you do if you were accused of a crime you didn’t commit?

Kate watched as her campus was torn apart by bombs and now is being accused of perpetrating the crime. As the evidence quickly stacks up against her, she begins to lose hope that the truth will come to light. Even though the handsome FBI Agent, Patrick, has taken up her cause, will they be able to prove her innocence? Will God, who she neglected for so long, listen to her prayers for help?

Patrick is an agent with a very special team of agents. He wants to help Kate prove she is innocent, but as each new piece of evidence is revealed, that goal seems harder. He wonders why he feels so compelled to help her and so sure she is innocent despite the evidence. Will he be willing to put his job on the line to help her? Can he trust in God to make sure the truth will come out in the end?

Sue Thomas and Kate And now I have an exclusive bit from the author Sarah Holman to share with you! I'm thrilled to have her as a guest here on In the Bookcase!

Here's Sarah Holman...

Kate’s Innocence was inspired by my love for the TV show, Sue Thomas FBEye. As Tarissa and I both share the love for this show, I thought I would introduce you to the characters of my latest book and the Sue Thomas Characters they originated from.

Kathleen (Kate) Mayfield ~ Kate is part Tara, part Sue, and part a friend to whom I dedicated the book. Kate is smart, has some dark moments in her past, and has a hard time seeing herself in a positive light.

Patrick Connor ~ Patrick is the character that most resembles the one he was based off of, Jack. He is handsome, caring and serious about his job. He does have a hard time trusting God and not his own strength.

Thomas Jefferson ~ Yes, Thomas’ name causes many jokes. He was based off of Miles Leland III, but I didn’t delve much into Thomas in this book, so I am still learning about him.

Brian Heath ~ Brian is a mix up of Demetrius and Bobby. He is the comedian of the group, the peacemaker, and also the only married member of the team.

Kim Ying ~ Kim is an Asian member of the team who was not based on any member of the Sue Thomas cast. She doesn’t talk much, but when she does, it is important.

Logan Sparks ~ Logan was also based on Tara, the quirky fun side of her. Logan is always doing something with small, bouncy-balls, is a girly girl, and is very fond of wearing her gun (often while in a skirt).

What is your favorite character from Sue Thomas? Who do you think your favorite character from Kate’s Case Files will be?

Author bio:
Sarah Holman is a not so typical mid-twenties girl: A homeschool graduate, sister to six awesome siblings, and author of five published books and counting. If there is anything adventuresome about her life, it is because she serves a God with a destiny bigger than anything she could have imagined.

Visit the author online!

Thank you, Sarah! Watch out for the release of Kate's Innocence on November 16th, 2015.

Readers, stay tuned to read my full review of the book (coming on the 16th). I'm really excited about Sarah's FBI series!

Oh, and while we're on the topic today, if you happen to be interested in checking out the Sue Thomas F.B. Eye TV show... I personally recommend it...

Back to Sarah Holman's awesome new book >>> *GASP!* You could win it!

Win a copy of Kate's Innocence!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Book Review: Listen to the Moon

Listen to the Moon by Michael Morpurgo (5 star review)

Listen to the Moon

written by Michael Morpurgo

352 pages // published Oct. 2015 // middle grade fiction // World War I

My Review...

5 Star Rating

"It is hard to explain how it is not to have memories. But I shall try. You are lost in a world you do not understand, a world in which everything and everyone is bewildering, a world with which you have little connection, to which you do not belong.... You know you must be someone, come from somewhere, but that you will only remember when the doors open, when the light floods on." (Listen to the Moon)

Michael Morpurgo, accomplished author of children's fiction (such as War Horse), has now written a story like none of his previous works.

Listen to the Moon is, in fact, the impossible story of his grandmother as a young girl during World War I. While reading it, one can hardly believe that the stack of events truly took place. (What luck to have a family story seeped into such rich history!)

It's 1915. Nations are rallying together and pitting against the brutal forces of opposing nations and their leaders. One of the most gruesome wars the earth has witnessed is in full effect. Submarines are just making their debut, altering the course of warfare and humankind forever.

And in the midst of it, a girl, almost dead, is found alone on St. Helen's in the Britain's Scilly Isles. Seemingly dropped from the sky, her appearance rumbles through the local villages with suspicion. She won't -- or can't -- speak. Except for one word: "Lucy".

After finding this traumatized lost girl, the Wheatcroft family takes her in. Tension from the neighbors runs high, for there is no way to know whether this girl is a German threat or not. The evidence surrounding Lucy doesn't help her. Nonetheless, Alfie Wheatcroft is determined to be her friend. He desperately wishes to unlock her tongue and provide her with the gift of talking. Who is Lucy, really? Where does she come from?

"To be different in this ignorant world is often mistaken for madness. And we all too often put away those we believe to be different. Difference frightens people, and Lucy Lost is most surely different, very different." (Listen to the Moon)

This is the kind of children's fiction I grew up reading and still enjoy to this day. It's an amazing story filled with historical impact, a quality plot, and the hidden secrets of the human mind. I love Michael Morpurgo's steady writing style -- his allows the story to unveil itself at just the right time.

Listen to the Moon illustrates the power of kindness and the need for healing in any situation. I feel that this novel has many layers. Although most of the book is told through the eyes of a narrator, some parts are told from character flashbacks, or scraps from Dr. Crow's journal or Mr. Beagley's school log. Overall, this gives you the full view of the story, from the various angles, so you can best see how the full story will come to completion.

It is a slow novel, and runs close to 400 pages. This didn't detract from the inclusive delight I held for Listen to the Moon. The elements of Lucy's story come together in an unforgettable way.

Fans of maritime history will enjoy this book due to the eye-opening time period of WWI and the leaps taken during that time (with the advancement of submarines and the tragic sinking of the Lusitania, an event causing opinions to change in the midst of war). My ocean-adoring heart also loved the idea that the children were collected in the mornings and taken to school via a little boat.

I would recommend for anyone 9 and up. Adults will love it too! This makes for a great family story to read together.

Thanks to the author and Netgalley for the free review copy & for the opportunity to express my honest opinions.

Listen to the Moon has just been released in October. Buy your copy from Amazon or Barnes & Noble in either paperback, hardcover, or e-book format.

P.S. Like and vote for this review on Goodreads and Amazon.