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Wow, what a whirl-wind start to summer! We had vacation/APRN graduation which was followed by another quick trip for me and then one month of studying for my certification test. With much excitement this last week I passed my APRN certification test. So my time significantly opened up and I immediately started reading.

I started a book which I am going to review now. I don’t typically review prior to finishing a book. However, I am not planning to finish this book. I hardly ever start and NOT finish. I think there’s only a handful of books I’ve done this.

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Still Here by Lara Vapnyar

Still Here tells the tale of Russian immigrants and their attempt to “make it” in America. One of the characters is trying to create an App which allows people to feel connected to dead loved ones through the preservation of online footprints. The four friends grew-up together in Russia and then moved to America for different reasons. Each trying to find their own American success story.

First, I want to say, I really wanted to like this book. I thought the idea was interesting and not something I’d read hundreds of times over. Unfortunately, the story fell flat and kind-of quickly at that. I don’t usually not finish a story, but I got to page 59 of the 310 pages and decided to not continue.

The writing style wasn’t bad at all. I believe the author has talent. And maybe that was part of my struggle with the book. It really made me feel sad and depressed reading the story. Vica and Sergey are married and seem incredibly unhappy. Vica especially seems depressed, angry and hugely jealous. These emotions are completely pouring out of the book and didn’t leave me feeling “good”.

The other downfall, I really hard time getting into this book. It has a very slow start and very slow build. I understand the author is building the back story, introducing us to the characters and (I think) trying to make things seem more realistic (no overnight success). Unfortunately, on my part, it seemed to slow. I just wasn’t being pulled into it and there was nothing keeping me up at night to see what happens next.

Overall, I’m not a fan of the book. However, those who I imagine would like this book would be the adult who is looking for an immigrant story and doesn’t need it to be fast paced. A book club may like to pick to up to read as a group, because I cold see how it could draw good conversation assuming they can make it through the book

I give this book a generous 2 of 5 book-ends for being well-written but boring.

I did receive this book free from the publishers through the blogging for books program for an honest review.

Have you read this book? If so, what did you think? Are you reading a good book now? If so, share it below with a quick description.


So, with keeping up with getting my book reviews in from the books I’ve finished the last couple of weeks. I’m writing this review on this book that I read very slowly over this last six months. I read it slowly because with finishing up my degree, I grabbed reading time as I was able.

I had to go to urgent care one Sunday last fall. Upon arriving at urgent care, my wait was estimated to be 2 hours and I was allowed to leave and return closer to the 2 hour mark. So, I left ran to Target, grabbed a Starbucks coffee and browsed through the book section. I stumbled upon this little gem.

I’m a huge Marvel fan. Especially Black Widow. I’ve wanted to see more of her and things dedicated to her. Black Widow focused items seem few and far between. So I’m excited to have read and to have the opportunity to review this book.

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Black Widow Forever Red by Margaret Stohl

 

This book has three main characters. Ava Orlova is a teenage girl who escaped years before from S.H.E.I.L.D after being rescued by Black Widow from Ivan. Alex is a teenager who has a bit of a temper problem. He is also the boy from Ava’s visions. The two stumble into each other and they get into a an action-filled discovery of who they truly are. And then there is Natasha Romanoff (AKA Black Widow).

Most chapters begin with a DOD report. As I read these and Black Widow’s response, I believe they are spot on in regards to her language and how she responds. I like how it ties things together, foreshadows, and seems very Marvel’sh. I think it helps ground the story. I enjoyed the action-filled parts of the story. I also enjoyed getting a glimpse at Black Widow’s back story and her previous life. The psychic connection between Black Widow and Ava was an interesting concept. The story moved along nicely and I didn’t find any slow parts where I wanted to give up reading the book.

The Con’s of the story is its not a focused Black Widow story. The majority of it is following the two teenagers and then Black Widow is weaved in throughout the story. That was a bit disappointing as I really wanted a focused Black Widow story. The second con I felt was the love interest of the two teenagers. It was a bit crazy to think the two only knew each other several days and then were “in love”. I get the whole, this is exciting and dangerous and affection can develop. But I think it was a bit of a stretch, maybe a bit forced.

I believe this was a good story, it just wasn’t the Black Widow story I wanted.  I think the title made it seem that she would be the main character instead of a supporting character.

Black Widow still needs her own story. Her own move (please!) or at least something where she’s the leading lady and not a supporting role.

I give the back a 3.5 out 5 based on its a good story but not a Black Widow story.

I recommend this book to any Marvel fan or Black Widow fan (just don’t expect her to be the star) or anyone who enjoys an action book with nodding toward supernatural themes. There is no sexual context and the language is fine. The book does have written violence and child abuse (testing discussion by Ivan). This book would be approve for a mature teenager and young adult.


I’m taking a break from certification studying to review a couple of books. I graduated from Nurse Practitioner school two weeks ago. Since graduating, I’ve traveled every week and was able to get some reading done. Yaay! I also took some time off studying since one of the trips was to attend an intensive review for certification. I figured no reason focusing all my time studying until after that class. So, now, here I am studying since about 9 am this morning (its now almost 3PM) and I’m going get started on this review before leaving in to pick the kids up from school.

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The Chapel Car Bride by Judith Miller

Miller tells the story of Hope and her father as they live out of a train car and ministering to a mining town. He is a preacher and she assists with the music and children’s ministries. Miller also tells the story of a coal miner, Luke, and the mine owner’s son, Kirby. Hope and her father settle into life in Finch, West Virginia. Hope uses many opportunities to spread God’s word throughout the West Virginia countryside. Her trusting disposition has her trusting Kirby despite Luke’s cautions.

This story is a great Christian read. It was an easy and quick read. I think it took me only a little over a day to read. I felt several of the characters were fleshed out well. The character Kirby was nicely done. I felt I had him pegged pretty quickly and my opinion didn’t change much. Hope was the typical preacher’s daughter in the sense she was kind, naive and loved children. Luke seemed to have swaying emotions and also seemed pretty realistic. I’ll address him below.  I enjoyed reading about life on a rail car and life during prohibition. I also quite enjoyed reading about the inner conflict Luke had regarding his thoughts and anger toward the mining company and Kirby. These feelings are ones many Christians deal with daily and I like when authors address them in their writing. Finally, I really love the history the author adds into her books. In this case the chapel car, mining history, and prohibition.

Downfalls to the book, the first is a bit into the characters. I feel like it would’ve been nice to learn more about the preacher. He played a pivotal role in the story, yet there was little fleshing out of his character. Luke’s sister plays a relatively large role in the frustrating ending, but very little fleshing out occurred with her as well. I think adding just a bit to those characters could’ve really added to the story. This, however, didn’t ruin the story for me. Its just worth noting there more depth could’ve been added to the story.

A second down fall is the ending. I was a bit frustrated with the ending. The conflict was picking-up nicely and I was envisioning a BIG ending. And then, it was wrapped up nicely with a little bow and then the ending romance drug out for another couple of chapters. It wasn’t bad, but such a big change in where the story was going and how the characters were acting. It was a bit of a distraction and I would’ve appreciated a more direct route to happily ever after.

Over all, this was a good read! It was quick and enjoyable. It had Christian components in the story with the Christian premise. Very little scripture was quoted through out the story, but it had very obvious Christian themes.

I would recommend this story to any adult or young adult who enjoys historical novels, Christian reading, or just looking for a quick and light read.

I would give this book a 4 out of 5 bookends.

Disclaimer: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


Book Review: Dauntless by Dina L. Sleiman

Merry has become an enemy of the throne due to her father’s failed assassination attempt. Merry is skilled and bold and has taken on the task of caring for the village orphans. As with the classic Robin Hood tale, the group have been given a name: “the Ghosts of Farthingale Forest”.

Personally I love the Robin Hood story and was excited and nervous all at once to read a female version of my beloved story. I must say I was not disappointed!This was my first book from Sleiman. I found this one to be well-written and a quick read. The main character was a delightful woman who is capable and intelligent. I enjoyed reading a strong female character who was equally compassionate.

I truly enjoyed this novel. I recommend this book to any young adult who enjoy historical novels.

I give this book 5 out of 5 bookends.

I did receive this book from Bethany House Publishers as part of the blogging for books.


Book Review: Where Trust Lies by Janette Oke & Laurel Oke Logan

This is the second book in the Canadian West book series by Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan. Beth Thatcher has returned home from teaching in the Canadian West. Although she is ready to rest and relax her family has planned a lengthy trip. While on her trip, Beth discovers one of her family members trusted the wrong person.

As with the first book in the series, I truly enjoyed this book. This book is a wonderful follow-up story. This book did not take place in coal valley. I enjoyed reading about the different ports and the experience of cruising. I also enjoyed the love story between Beth and Jarrick.

This was a great read. I truly enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical novels.

I give this book a 5 out of 5 bookends.

I did receive this book for an honest review from Baker Publishing Group for the blogging for books program.


I love salads. On an average I eat 4 salads weekly. I typically just grab some lettuce either Ice Burg or Romaine. Throw some veggies in it and pour on some store-bought dressing. When I’m feeling a bit crazy, I’ll throw in some spinach when I’m feeling a bit wild and crazy. So, when this book came up as an option for review, I knew I’d need it.

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Salad Love by David Bez

Salad love provides a salad a day for a year. It breaks down the salad down into layers: the base, Vegetable & fruit, protein, toppings, herbs, etc. It goes on to divide the salads by seasons. The salad pictures are beautiful. The ingredients are varied so you are certain to find some that you enjoy. I like how this book encourages its readers to step outside of what you think of as traditional salad.

On a scale of 1-5 bookends, I give this 5 of 5 bookends

I received a copy of this book for an honest review from the blogging for books program.


Wow! It’s been a whirl wind around here! Spring time tends to pick-up for us. We’ve got kids activities and my training for a half-marathon. That paired with increased sunlight, we start spending a lot more time outside and less time sitting at home.With all of this extra activity, I get less time to read and less time to blog.

Tonight, I plan to get caught up on a few blog entrees, please excuse the multiple posts.

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Blessings for the morning by Susie Larson

Susan Larson is a popular radio show host whose Biblical teaching helps strengthen people faith. I was very excited to get this book as I love listening to her radio show. This book is filled with quick blessings/devotions paired with a Bible verse. I found this book up lifting and points the day in the right direction. The words are soothing. Its good to keep in these are short passages that help focuses your day but it’s not a full devotional.

I found this book uplifting and enjoyable.

On a scale of 1-5 bookends, I give this book a 5.

I received this book from the Baker Publishing Group for an honest review