Monday, September 29, 2014

Horrorstör {by Grady Hendrix}

Title: Horrorstör
Author: Grady Hendrix
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Received via publisher

Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Columbus, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring wardrobes, shattered Brooka glassware, and vandalized Liripip sofa beds clearly, someone or something is up to no good.
To unravel the mystery, five young employees volunteer for a long dusk-till-dawn shift—and they encounter horrors that defy imagination. Along the way, author Grady Hendrix infuses sly social commentary on the nature of work in the new twenty-firstcentury economy.
A traditional haunted house story in a contemporary setting (and full of current fears), Horrorstör comes conveniently packaged in the form of a retail catalog, complete with illustrations of ready-to-assemble furniture and other, more sinister accessories. We promise you’ve never seen anything quite like it!

Okay, seriously. This was such a fascinating concept. A novel, but packaged like an Ikea catalog. A wholly unique and different idea that made the experience of reading this story that much better.

Amy is an employee at Orsk, but she hates it there. Nor does she like her manager, Basil. But one day, Basil asks her and another employee to stay with him and keep a lookout during the night, to figure out what is causing the damage and vandalism that they see every morning. And so it begins...

This is a mystery/horror story. Horror isn't a genre I normally read, but this book, to me, wasn't super scary or anything. I do think that those who may not like horror or creepy things, or may get creeped out easier may not like to read this. I, however, did not lose any sleep over it. But while it didn't make me jump at every noise I heard while home alone, it did keep me on the edge of my seat and wholly immersed in the story.

The characters start out pretty lifeless and unlikable, but they do go through a bit of growth and change, and by the end, they are people that you're rooting for. I didn't really like Amy or Basil at the beginning, but through the events that unfold, you see a different side to them. Trinity was fairly amusing, Ruth Anne was so sweet and nice, and honestly, I still don't know what to make of Matt.

Each chapter starts out with a description of a piece of furniture from Orsk. I mean, down to function and color and item code. Each one has a part in the chapter they preface, but as you go on, you start to notice...this isn't normal furniture anymore...and that's all I'm saying.

This was a great idea, but also a great story. The packaging really added to the story, and made it more intriguing and interesting, and more likely to stand out in my mind. I would highly recommend it.

This review can also be found on   Rachel Marie's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)

Grady Hendrix:

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Girl Talk {by Christie Young}
Title: Girl Talk: Unsolicited Advice for Modern Ladies, an Illustrated Guide
Author: Christie Young
Publisher: Potter Style
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Received from publisher

Breaking from the tradition of buttoned-up guides for girls, Girl Talk is an illustrated collection of hysterically funny and necessary reflections on life, love, and making it in the modern world.

Combining etiquette tips with true stories from her own not always quite together life, Christie Young proves herself to be adept around managing life’s vicissitudes. Whether you seek advice on handling running out of booze during the holidays or running into your ex on the subway, Girl Talk offers the keys to coping in a world bereft of rhyme or reason.

Let’s talk about:

   • Realizing you look exactly like your boyfriend’s sister
   • Overthinking text messages and analyzing emoticons
   • Looking calm in a bar alone (without the help an iPhone)
   • Accidentally stealing something from the farmer’s market
   • Choosing between getting to work on time or showering
   • Responding to a sexy text your uncle meant to send to his girlfriend
   • Organizing your wardrobe, from crop tops to bolo ties
   • Handling a roommate who rents out your living room to strangers
   • Kicking your Netflix sci-fi marathon habit

And much, much more.

This was so, so hilarious and just so much fun to read. I loved the hilarity, as well as the blatant truth. Now, this wasn't all sarcasm, as there were many serious and helpful tips along the way. I found myself thinking that all girls I know need to read this book.

I mean, the awesome illustrations on every page just make the book. Then, the light-hearted and humorous way the author tackled pretty much every embarrassing situation known to woman will have you cracking up and not wanting to put it down. The book covers a wide range of topics, from taking care of your body to how to find a roommate to dating and everything in between, this was just a really fun "guide" on being a girl.

I will say, still wasn't taught to kick my Netflix Sci-Fi marathon habit. Oh well, I think I can deal ;)

This review can also be found on   Goodreads


Friday, September 26, 2014

Mini Reviews: Overrated, The First Time We Saw Him

The following are reviews of books that are theological nonfiction.

Title: Overrated: Are We More in Love With the Idea of Changing the World Than Actually Changing the World?
Author: Eugene Cho
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Received via NetGalley

Many people today talk about justice but are they living justly? They want to change the world but are they being changed themselves?
Eugene Cho has a confession: "I like to talk about changing the world but I don't really like to do what it takes." If this is true of the man who founded the One Day's Wages global antipoverty movement, then what must it take to act on one's ideals? Cho does not doubt the sincerity of those who want to change the world. But he fears that today's wealth of resources and opportunities could be creating "the most overrated generation in history. We have access to so much but end up doing so little."
He came to see that he, too, was overrated. As Christians, Cho writes, "our calling is not simply to change the world but to be changed ourselves." In Overrated, Cho shows that it is possible to move from talk to action.

This was such a powerful book. It was so well-spoken for this day and age, with a convicting message. Cho speaks with a truth and honesty, that while it may be hard to hear, needs to be heard.

Shut up, pray, listen

That's the recurring motto throughout the book. Cho starts off by making some pretty bold statements, about how we as Christians like to say we want to change the world, but don't actually do it. He reiterates that he isn't judging anyone, but that he preaches to himself as well. Cho is speaking to a generation who thinks bringing awareness to an issue consists of posting a 10-second video on Instagram. But while there's nothing wrong with that, it's not really helping either.

Don't just tell us what you're against. Demonstrate what you're about. Fascinate us. Compel us. Invite us. Help us reimagine a better story. -94% of eARC

But Cho isn't just here to yell at us. By sharing parts of his story with us, he also shows us that he really is living what he is sharing. He believes this. He's not preaching about what we should do, but simply telling us what he is doing. And he does this with his signature wit and humor (and #hashtags).

Every chapter held a convicting message. Cho teaches us about justice, and what is really means as a Christian. He talks about idolatry of money. Some may get offended, but he also talks about helping others, and when we actually aren't. He may speak some hard truths, but they come from a place of love and teaching. And most of all, he teaches us that what we think God wants us to do to help others, He is actually using to change us.

I know that I have already started reevaluating my life, and the choices I make on a daily basis. This book is one that I would seriously consider a life-changer, and I hope you allow it to change and shape you.

This review can also be found on   Rachel Marie's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)
Eugene Cho:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Title: The First Time We Saw Him: Awakening to the Wonder of Jesus
Author: Matt Mikalatos
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Received via Publisher

Scripture tells us that the words of Jesus made people uncomfortable, confused, angry, repentant, worshipful, and riotous. Today, we read the words of Christ in a steady, even tone and find ourselves wondering if maybe we're missing something. Could it be that we've lost the emotional power of Jesus's words simply because we're too familiar with them?
With incredible insight into the surprising and unsettling aspects of Jesus's parables and life, Matt Mikalatos reimagines familiar stories and parables in a modern-day setting, bringing alive for the contemporary reader all the controversy and conflict inherent in the originals. These emotional, sometimes humorous, and jaw-dropping retellings include the stories of the prodigal son, the good Samaritan, the lost coin, the feeding of the 5,000, the death and resurrection of Jesus, and more, asking provocative questions like "What would be the modern equivalent of Jesus letting a "sinful woman" wash his feet? Who would be the hero of "The Good Samaritan"? How would Jesus tell the parable of the lost sheep in a city like Portland?"

This was definitely such an interesting concept. The gospel stories reimagined in modern day parables. And I think it worked, mostly.

Mikalatos starts with the birth of Jesus--Joshua, in this case, and goes until the resurrection and beyond. The stories aren't super changed or anything, just names changed and transported into modern-day. But it did suffice to bring it into a new light. So often, we forget the stories, and how they apply to us. "But we have no Pharisees nowadays, it's not the same thing." Well, Mikalatos shows us that it is the same thing.

Of course, there are going to be problems when translating Jesus into the modern day. But for what he could do, I think Mikalatos did a good job. The author's commentary is inserted to help us understand each story, and truly remind us of the wonder of Jesus.

...when people say, "Where was God?" I ask myself, "Where was I?" I'm his representative. When people ask, "Where was God?" God's people should ask, "Where were we?" -page 134

Although I wouldn't say this was very challenging, per se. But, I do think that it did what it set out to do, in making us rethink and reawaken to the wonder that is Jesus. So many times in our Christian walk, can we become stale, or not fully understand. But this will open your eyes and bring a new understanding to the gospel stories.

This review can also be found on   Rachel Marie's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)
Matt Mikalatos:

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Book Blogger Confession Tag!

Hey guys! So I haven't done a tag before, but this one seemed like fun, so I decided to give it a go! I was tagged by Kaitlin @ Reading is My Treasure and the tag was created by Laura's Book Reviews.

Answer the questions truthfully.
Once you've completed this tag, tag 5 other book bloggers that you would want to complete this tag.

1. Which book, most recently, did you not finish?
Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen. I do hope to get back to it, but it was just not hooking me, and after a while, I decided I needed to move on.

2. Which book is your guilty pleasure?
Umm not sure I really have one?

3. Which book to you love to hate?
Halo by Alexandra Adornetto. It might be mean, but it's so fun to make fun of how terrible it is (because it's so easy).
4. Which book would you throw into the sea?
HUCK FINN. I don't know what it is. While everyone else in. my English class hated Grapes of Wrath or Heart of Darkness, I had an unexplainable hatred for Huckleberry Finn.

5. Which book have you read the most?
Hmm, not sure. Maybe one (or any) of the Percy Jackson books.

6. Which book would you hate to receive as a present?
Honestly, probably anything Jane Austen. First, because anyone who gives you a present like that only gives it to you because they have no idea what you like to read, or think that's what girls are supposed to like, supposed to read. Uh, no thanks. Second, because I've tried to read some of her works, and I really just can't stand them.

7. Which book could you not live without?
Ohh this is a hard one. Probably any of my Percy Jackson. Or Sarah Dessen. Or the Throne of Glass series. Okay, that's cheating but whatever.

8. Which book made you the angriest?
Man, how am I supposed to remember these things? Most recently, Starry Night by Elizabeth Gillies.

9. Which book made you cry the most?
Unlocked by Karen Kingsbury

10. Which book cover do you hate the most?
I... don't even know.

I tag: anyone who wants to do this tag and hasn't been tagged yet. Go for it! If you tag yourself, come back and leave me the link so I can see your answers!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Winter People {by Rebekah L. Purdy}

Title: The Winter People
Author: Rebekah L. Purdy
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Received via NetGalley

Salome Montgomery fears winter—the cold, the snow, the ice, but most of all, the frozen pond she fell through as a child. Haunted by the voices and images of the strange beings that pulled her to safety, she hasn't forgotten their warning to "stay away." For eleven years, she has avoided the winter woods, the pond, and the darkness that lurks nearby. But when failing health takes her grandparents to Arizona, she is left in charge of maintaining their estate. This includes the "special gifts" that must be left at the back of the property.

Salome discovers she’s a key player in a world she’s tried for years to avoid. At the center of this world is the strange and beautiful Nevin, who she finds trespassing on her family’s property. Cursed with dark secrets and knowledge of the creatures in the woods, his interactions with Salome take her life in a new direction. A direction where she'll have to decide between her longtime crush Colton, who could cure her fear of winter. Or Nevin who, along with an appointed bodyguard, Gareth, protects her from the darkness that swirls in the snowy backdrop. An evil that, given the chance, will kill her.

When I first started this book, I wasn't sure how I felt about it. But as I kept reading, it drew me in more and more until I needed to know what was going to happen. At first, this kind of reminded of The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson, but with actual suspense and mystery instead of... well, you can read my thoughts about The Vanishing Season on your own time.

Salome is afraid of winter. Thanks to a near-drowning accident when she was a little girl, Salome has been freaked out by snow and ice to the point where it is affecting her daily life. She's been sent for therapy, put on medication, but every winter it's the same story. But when her grandparents go away for the winter, asking Salome to watch their huge property, Salome has to face her fears... but maybe with a little help?

I will say, that there is a lot of teenage angst in this one. And a lot of guys. Three, to be exact. And while it did seem a bit much at the beginning, they did start to eliminate themselves out. Each of them was a part of the mystery surrounding everything, so until you knew what their part in the story was, you couldn't really root for one or the other. (I will say, VERY glad with her final decision, as that was the one I liked best. Hehe.)

The beautiful descriptions of the cold and what Salome was feeling really made this come alive. It wasn't super predictable, as I still had no idea what could happen up to the end. Sure, I had ideas, but nothing definite. Also, I felt frustrated on behalf of Salome, with her mother and grandmother withholding info and such. Sure, everything had its time and place, but it can't be easy having everyone think your crazy, and then finding out your mother knew the reason for it.

I think this worked beautifully as a standalone. The plot was well-paced and while a few things did seem manufactured, there wasn't any parts where I felt lost or didn't know what was happening or why it was happening (which often happens to me with fantasy novels).

There were some moments when I was like "really, Salome, how fickle can you be?" with her bouncing from Colton, to Nevin, to Gareth. But once we found out more about the guys' involvement and everything seemed to settle down, it was fine. Like I said, I was pleased with the outcome and the overall ending.

Rebekah L. Purdy

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Happy Handmade Home {by Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman}

Title: Happy Handmade Home: Painting, Crafting, and Decorating a Cheerful, More Inspiring Space
Authors: Elise Larson and Emma Chapman
Publisher: Potter Style
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Received from publisher

Step inside the world of Elsie and Emma, the sisters behind the décor blog A Beautiful Mess.  With tiny budgets and a crafty, can-do attitude, they overhauled each room in their first homes with DIY projects using family photos, vibrant fabrics, flea-market finds, and affordable furniture. Now, you can learn how to paint, craft, and decorate your way to a happy, bright space with distinct personality. In the same upbeat spirit and modern style found on their blog, you’ll find fresh, all-new projects including:
• An inspired geometric-pattern coffee table made of balsa wood
• A hand-lettered statement wall featuring your favorite quote
• A quick and easy electrical tape update for your refrigerator
• A set of beautifully designed serving dishes
And more! 
Packed with bonus styling tips from hanging the perfect gallery wall to making mismatched furniture work, Happy Handmade Home is design inspiration for personalizing your own space.

I've been following the blog A Beautiful Mess for awhile now. From back when it was small, just Elsie and Emma, to the huge thing it has become, with an entire team. I've enjoyed watching them grow and expand. And now, the girls have expanded into... books. While I wasn't super interested in their photography book, since my favorite part of their blog is the DIY's, I was really interested in this one.

I loved the inside look this gave us into their homes and personalities. While we do see a lot of that on the blog as well, I loved seeing all that pictures and inspiration. I've already gone through and thought about which projects I want to attempt myself.

This is the perfect inspiration book. It's more than just a book of how-to's. The girls have infused it with their personalities, and it's also just a lot of fun. I also love that all of the projects are in one place, for easy reference.

Whether you are decorating a new space, getting bored of an old one, or whatever reason you may just need some inspiration, this is the perfect book that will help and guide you, while still being fun to read. I would highly recommend it.

This review can also be found on   Rachel Marie's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)

Elsie and Emma of A Beautiful Mess:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | YouTube

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Nerd Talks: My Fall TV Shows!

Hey guys! Today, I thought I would do a different type of post. I feel so out of it. I haven't been posting as much, haven't been active on twitter because school has been sucking up all my time. I just want to sit and TALK with you guys, so today I thought I would talk about my fall TV shows!

Now, I used to say that I don't watch a lot of TV. And it was true. But I don't know if it's my coping mechanism for college or what, once I actually thought about what I considered "my" shows…there were quite a lot. And all of them I started watching after I started college. See the correlation? 

THEN, Hulu did this thing where they have the full pilots of shows that haven't aired yet. Which means, in addition to the ones that I started last year, I found a few new shows that I'm hooked on. AND THEN I got Netflix. Now, I only pay for Netflix some months, because I don't want it to distract from school. 

Anyway. Here are the shows that I plan on watching this fall. Of course, I may not end up getting to keep up with them, or have time for all of them. But for now, this is my list: Everything linked to IMDb for your convenience. I aim to please.

LOVE Brooklyn Nine-Nine. This is actually one I watch with my mom. Not going to lie, got a little bit bored last season with The Mindy Project but hey, it's Mindy, so I'll try to keep up. About a Boy is pretty funny, although it's one of those that I usually watch after a long week to wind down, not because I really care to keep up.

So these are the ones that already previewed the pilot, or whatever their marketing strategy is. I loved Red Band Society and cannot WAIT fo r the next episode. Selfie was hilarious and, hello, Karen Gillan. Not sure if I'll keep up with A to Z, might be one of those "when I get bored and there's nothing else" shows.

I love House so much, but I've only watched episodes here and there, so I decided to go back to the beginning and watch the whole thing. I know this is the poster for the new season of Doctor Who, but I actually also started this one from the beginning. I haven't watched much, I'm still on the Ninth Doctor... And Psych is just there for comic relief, when I've watched too much drama and need something light.

Honorable Mentions:
These are ones that I've only seen the previews for, but might be interested in checking out. We'll see.
Dancing with the Stars, we actually watched a couple seasons as a family years ago. But there are some people I'm actually interested in seeing this season, so we'll see if I actually watch it. Manhattan Love Story seems cute. Jane the Virgin seems hilarious, and I hope it is. And I thought Fresh off the Boat was releasing this year, but it may not be. Which sucks, because I really want to see it.

I know this seems like a lot. And I know I won't have time to watch everything. They are staggered, starting and ending at different times, so that helps. Some of these shows I won't be as interested in once they start, and won't continue to follow. (And obviously, Netflix doesn't have anything to do with fall, it's just what I'm currently watching.) 

So, what shows can you not wait for this coming fall season?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Angel's Walking {by Karen Kingsbury}

Title: Angels Walking
Author: Karen Kingsbury
Series: Angels Walking #1
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Received from publisher

From New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury comes the first in a brand-new series about second chances: a dramatic story about a washed up baseball player, the love he left behind, and the miracles that might save them both. When former national baseball star Tyler Ames suffers a career-ending injury, all he can think about is putting his life back together the way it was before. He has lost everyone he loves on his way to the big leagues. Then just when things seem to be turning around, Tyler hits rock bottom.Across the country, Tyler's one true love Sami Dawson has moved on. A series of small miracles leads Tyler to a maintenance job at a retirement home and a friendship with Virginia Hutcheson, an old woman with Alzheimer's who strangely might have the answers he so desperately seeks. A team of Angels Walking take on the mission to restore hope for Tyler, Sami, and Virginia. Can such small and seemingly insignificant actions of the unseen bring healing and redemption? And can the words of a stranger rekindle lost love? Every journey begins with a step. It is time for the mission to begin.

Karen Kingsbury has done it again. Angels Walking was a unique story that captivated. I know I said previously that I had felt her stories were becoming formulaic, even becoming boring. But this one was unique and piqued my interest.

Two angels, Beck and Ember, have been sent to Earth. The whole group of angels have a mission, and these two have been chosen to complete the first part of it: Tyler Ames. A former baseball star, who ruined his career and is trying to make his comeback. Until he cant. His first love, Sami, lives across the country, supposedly moved on.

My favorite part would have to be the angels. I actually wish there were more scenes from Beck and Ember's point of view. It was interesting to see the way they worked, the way they walked among the humans, watching, listening, and helping.

I also like how this was not really romance based. I mean, yes, Tyler was focused on his first love, Sami. And Sami was focused on first her boyfriend, and then Tyler. But the story focused more on Tyler, and his growth as a person.

I also loved Virginia and her part of the story. She was so sweet, and just lent a wonderful side to the story and to Tyler's growth and discovery.

Does this still have the everything-works-out perfectly in an almost unrealistic way? Yes. But it is a book about miracles. And this was a great, invested read. It definitely kept me interested the entire time. I already need the next one!

This review can also be found on   Rachel Marie's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)

 Karen Kingsbury:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Sunday, September 7, 2014

What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days {Holley Girth}

Title: What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days: 52 Encouraging Truths to Hold on to
Author: Holley Gerth
Publisher: Revell
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Received from publisher

In this uplifting book, Holley Gerth invites readers to sit down with her to be filled with the strength, peace, and joy that come from God's promises to us. Each of the 52 devotions based on the Psalms will help weary women remember that God is good and we're all in this together. Whether it's a bad hair day or a broken heart, Holley offers hope and encouragement to get us through whatever life brings.
Women need that kind of encouragement because we all have hard days--days that make us want to give up, retreat inside ourselves, and drown our sorrows in a pint of ice cream. And while we may crave all sorts of things to ease the pain we feel in our hearts, what we really need is truth. We need to be confident in God's character and his promises. We need to remember--and celebrate--who he made us to be. And we need exactly the kind of encouragement Holley Gerth loves to offer.

I'm not sure how to review this, necessarily, because it's more like a devotional, and how do you review that? This devotional has 52 entries, so you can read it once a week for a year, or daily for 52 days. Either way, this book will encourage and enlighten you.

Now, I did not read the whole thing cover to cover. I read one every day for a week, and then flipped through the rest, although I will continue to read one every day until I do get through all of them. But already, I have been so touched and encouraged by this devotional. Each short chapter is based on a Psalm, and although they may be short, they hold a lot of truth. Holley Gerth has a very unique writing that actually holds your interest. I'm not one for devotionals, but this one is very easy to read, as if you were chatting with an old friend.

We all need encouragement and to hear God's voice in our daily lives. This book really is what your heart needs for the hard days.

This review can also be found on   Rachel Marie's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)

Holley Gerth:

Website | (in)courage | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads