Monday, January 23, 2017

Of Moose and Men: Lost and Found in Alaska- Torry Martin and Doug Peterson

My Rating: 5 Stars

Description: Torry Martin—a comedian, actor, and hippie—fled from California to the wilderness of Alaska, searching for answers to life's big questions. He found what he was looking for...and a lot more!

A moose got its head stuck in Torry's window. A reindeer was trapped in his kitchen. A bear almost prevented him from reaching his airplane. He once woke up frozen to his cabin floor.

Like the Israelites of old, Torry experienced plenty of miracles and mishaps in the wilderness. And like them, he came face-to-face with God and was changed forever.

Each of these true stories of Torry's hilarious blunders and misfortunes contains a nugget of truth, but one theme prevails: If God can reclaim and repurpose Torry Martin's life, He can do the same for you and those you love.


My Thoughts: A couple years ago, I was able to hear Torry Martin speak at a conference and I remember his lesson being one of my favorites that year. He was funny and his advice was practical. So when I saw this book up for review, I knew instantly that I wanted to read it. And am I ever glad that I did.

Of Moose and Men is a hilarious read. Torry's sense of humor shines through in every story that he tells, and I flipped through the pages faster than I would have imagined. Yet each chapter ends with a serious moment, where Torry explains just why he told that story and the lesson that he learned from it. The scriptures and insights he gives are powerful, and the simplicity of the moments God used in his life truly spoke to me.

There is a lot to think about with this book: what things we deem important or else take for granted, and how we interact with God in our everyday lives. I appreciate Torry's honesty as well as his wit when telling of his past, even though there were some moments that made me cringe. I highly recommend this, even for those who don't normally read non-fiction, as Torry Martin's (and Doug Peterson's) way of writing is easy to follow and very relatable.

I have provided an honest review after having received a copy of this book through the Book Fun Network.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Sherlock Meets Sherlock- Episode 1

Announcer: Today, for your viewing pleasure, we have a new series entitled, Sherlock Meets Sherlock, in which the characters of your favorite Sherlock Holmes retellings get to meet. Let's watch and see how they react to each other.

(Summary: In this episode, the BBC Sherlock meets the Warner Brothers' Sherlock. As the characters from each all have the same names, Warner Brothers' Sherlock Holmes and John Watson will be denoted by their last names, while the BBC characters will go by their first names.)

The Scene: Back in Holmes' flat, Watson reads the paper in the chair by the window while Holmes lays on the floor, softly playing his violin.

Watson: Could you please stop doing that?

Holmes: (Runs the bow over the strings, creating a screeching noise). Whatever for? I find it quite relaxing.

Watson: You're giving me a headache.

Holmes: Perhaps you need your ears checked.

(Watson opens his mouth to speak, but at that moment, there is a bright flash in the back room and a crash accompanying.)

Sherlock: (Muffled yell from the back room)

John: (Muffled chiding from the back room)

Holmes: (Sitting up on his elbows) I say. (Looks at Watson) I believe we have visitors.

Watson: (Stares at Holmes and then drops the paper as he shoves to his feet) You would take an intruder lightly.

Holmes: Yes, I should like to study their behavior. Can you give them a moment so I can see what they try to take first?

Watson: (Limps across the room on his cane) Not today Sherlock.

Scene break: The lights dim and the set is changed to the back room. There are papers, as well as other odds and ends, scattered about from where Holmes left them last, yet some bits are now smoldering. Sherlock and John stand in the middle of the room.

John: Sherlock, what have you done?

Sherlock: Me?

John: Yes, you. (Angrily favors his war wound) I told you-- I told you not to touch it.

Sherlock: No you didn't.

John: Yes, I did!

Sherlock: (Begins to look around) Oh, don't be dramatic.

John: I am not-- (The door opens, cutting him off)

(Both John and Sherlock turn to the door. Watson stands there, his expression slightly miffed)

Watson: And what do you think you're doing?

Sherlock: (Squints, noticing the bum leg and military bearing) Who are you?

Watson: That's hardly the question to ask when invading someone's home, now is it?

John: We did not invade--

Sherlock: Don't bother to explain, John. It's not like he'll believe you.

Holmes: (Peeks head into room) Did you hear that, Watson? Our burglar has the same name as you.

John: Is this some kind of joke? (Looks at Sherlock) Tell me you're not playing another prank.

Sherlock: I do not play pranks. (Tilts his head to study the room. There is calculation in his expression) And certainly none so clever as this.

Watson: (To Holmes) Do you know what they're talking about?

Holmes: I have no idea. (Moves past Watson to study Sherlock) (To Sherlock) Have we met?

Sherlock: We certainly have not. However, I would like to know just how you were able to pull this off. (Steps forward) It is very clever.

Holmes: (Starts to circle Sherlock) It is, isn't it?

Watson: What is?

John: (To Watson) Oh, please. John? Watson? Don't pretend you don't know.

Watson: I don't know. (Shuffles to the side, looking out of the room) This is ridiculous. I'm going to have Mrs. Hudson call for the Yard.

John: Mrs. Hudson!

Sherlock: (Still studying Holmes) Do be quiet, John.

John: (Getting really angry) I will not. They have brought Mrs. Hudson into this and I will have answers.

Watson: Holmes!

Holmes: (Has stopped circling and now stands beside Watson) This is astonishing.

Watson: Would you just spit it out?

Holmes: (Turns to Watson and then to John) It would appear that they are us.

Watson: (Rolls eyes) You have got to be kidding me.

Scene Break: Fades to Black

Announcer: We do hope you enjoyed this installment of Sherlock meets Sherlock. Return next week for the newest episode, where the characters try to understand how there can be two of them.

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Things We Knew- Catherine West

My Rating: 3 Stars

Description: After her mother's death twelve years ago, Lynette Carlisle watched her close-knit family unravel. One by one, her four older siblings left their Nantucket home and never returned. All seem to harbor animosity toward their father, silently blaming him for their mother's death. Nobody will talk about that dreadful day, and Lynette can't remember a bit of it.

But when next-door neighbor Nicholas Cooper returns to Nantucket, he brings the past with him. Once her brother's best friend and Lynette's first crush, Nick seems to hiding things from her. Lynette wonders what he knows about the day her mother died and hopes he might help her remember the things she can't.

But Nick has no intention of telling Lynette the truth. Besides the damage it might cause his own family, he doesn't want to risk harming the fragile friendship between him and the woman he once thought of as a kid sister.

As their father's failing health and financial concerns bring the Carlisle siblings home, secrets begin to surface—secrets that will either restore their shattered relationships or separate the siblings forever. But pulling up anchor on the past propels them into the perfect storm, powerful enough to make them question all they ever believed in.

My Thoughts: Lynette and Nick are pretty interesting characters dealing with the scars and pain of their pasts, along with the struggles of their present. I wanted them to find happiness and for their lives to be whole, even though there was a lot going against them.

However, I felt that the story could have started about fifty or so pages later. Most of the initial scenes felt unnecessary and the important information could have been condensed into one or two scenes or else added later on. The story really didn't pick up until Lynette's family started returning to the island, and even then I didn't really like most of her family.

Once the siblings showed up, there was a lot of conflict. Each of them had their own baggage and issues to deal with, along with different memories of the past. These memories often conflicted and West did a good job of showing how their ages affected their perspective of the same events. Yet the number of siblings was a lot of keep track of. While the story was enjoyable, it would have done better to have been spread out over multiple novels, with the ending further developed.  As it is, The Things We Knew is a decent read if you have the chance but not one that I will rave about.

I have provided an honest review after having received a copy of this book through the Fiction Guild.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Just a Kiss- Denise Hunter

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: Watching the love of his life fall for his brother was enough to send Riley straight to boot camp. But over a year later, he’s officially a marine, and Beau and Paige are no longer an item. When Riley’s tour in Afghanistan is up, he intends to confess his feelings to Paige and win his best friend’s heart once and for all.

But all that changes when an IED takes the life of a comrade and leaves Riley an amputee. Now he’s heading home, injured and troubled. His plans to win Paige are a distant dream. She deserves so much more than the man that’s left. All he can do now is put some healthy distance between them. But upon his return he discovers his family has arranged for him to stay with Paige.

Paige is a nurturer at heart and happy to take care of her best buddy. By all appearances Riley is adjusting miraculously well to his disability. But as the days pass, Paige begins to see that the smiles and laughter are just a mask for the pain he’s hiding. To make matters worse, her job is in serious jeopardy. The animal shelter that she’s poured her heart into has lost its funding, and she has three months to come up with the money needed to save it.

As the weeks wear on, Paige’s feelings for Riley begin to shift into uncharted territory. Why is she suddenly noticing his arm muscles and the way his lips curl at the corners? Will she be able to deny her feelings for another Callahan brother? And will Riley let his heart heal so he can let Paige in?

My Thoughts: Each book in this series has had such a satisfying romance and Paige and Riley's is no different. I don't know that I can put my finger on just why I enjoyed this book. It's well written, with tons of emotional tension, and an occasional laugh. Maybe it is Denise' ability to write such good romance without it being sappy or ridiculous. All I know is that I had such a silly grin on my face while reading it that my sister just kind of stared at me for a few minutes and then walked away, shaking her head.

The ending was not perfect. It mirrored the final conflict of The Goodbye Bride in a way that made it easy to see exactly how this one would end, which was disappointing after all the twists and turns that the rest of the book had. It was also a little rushed and I wished that Riley could have come around without such a drastic backslide.

Still, the very last chapter made up for a lot. It was so adorable, with not only a happy ending for Paige and Riley but also for Sheriff Colton and Aunt Trudy. It was a happy last few pages that makes me sad to see these characters go. I may just have to read the books again.

I have provided an honest review after having received a copy through the Fiction Guild.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Comfy Cozy Reading Weather HOP

Thanks to Stuck in Books for hosting this giveaway HOP!

Christmas may be over, but that doesn't mean that you can't still receive some books. A number of bloggers have gotten together to give away books that are great for snuggling up with and I hope you find something to enter for. Here on Backing Books, I'm giving away a chose of one of two books.

Both stories are set during rather famous wars, the ARC of Karolina's Twins taking place during WWII and Mrs. Lee & Mrs. Gray tells the stories of two women who lived during the Civil War. Historical fiction is perfect for a cold day, with plenty of conflict and depth to keep you occupied.

The giveaway is open to US entrants only and the winner will have 48 hours to respond to the email sent to them before a new winner will be chosen. In accordance with the rules, there is one free entry so if you don't want to follow or tweet, you can still enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, January 1, 2017

My 2016 Favorites

According to my Goodreads challenge, I read 100 books this last year. And this doesn't include the ones I forgot to record on the site. But out of all those books, there were a few that shined the brightest, and I would like to share my favorites with you.


Jill Williamson is one of my favorite authors and she consistently puts out great novels. I look forward to everything she writes and can't wait for this book's sequel, which comes out here in a month or so.

Biblical Fiction:

Tessa Afshar is another favorite, though there have been one or two of her books I didn't care for. However, this one is my absolute favorite novel of hers. It is incredible.

Historical Fiction:

Irma Joubert is a fairly new author to me, and this is only the second book I have read of hers. Yet Child of the River has ensured I will be reading all of her books in the foreseeable future.

Contemporary Romance:

I don't recommend everything that Sheralyn Pratt writes, as a lot of it is secular and does not hold to the same values as I do. But King of the Friend Zone is a really sweet and fun read, with only a couple questionable references. Definitely not for everyone, but perfect for some.


Though Jessica Khoury has written other books in the past, this is the first of hers I have read... and it is fantastic! A retelling of Aladdin, it is something I highly recommend for any fans of the genre and I really hope that she writes more like it.

Share below, what are some of your favorite 2016 reads? And what are you looking forward to?

Friday, December 30, 2016

The Raven- Mike Nappa

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: As part of his regular street performance, a deception specialist who goes by the name The Raven picks his audience's pockets while they watch. It's harmless fun--until he decides to keep the spare wallet a city councilman doesn't seem to miss, hoping for a few extra bucks. When he finds not money but compromising photos of the councilman and his "personal assistants," The Raven hatches a plan to blackmail the man. However, he quickly finds himself in over his head with the Ukrainian Mafia and mired in a life-threatening plot code-named, "Nevermore." 

Private investigators Trudi Coffey and Samuel Hill must scramble to sort out the clues--and their complicated feelings for each other--to rescue The Raven and save hundreds of lives from a wildcard bent on revenge.

My Thoughts: Within the first couple of pages, you can definitely tell that the author has a degree in English Lit. All of his descriptions are what my Lit professor would have called "top-shelf" details, or things that are more than common descriptions. They're the kind of details that fans of Literary Fiction absolutely love.

I'm not sure what I think about the two "main" characters, Trudi and Samuel, being a divorced couple. It does make for good conflict, though it also seems to give Trudi some bad habits when it comes to trying to prove to Samuel that she can live just fine without him. Since I imagine their's is a relationship that will take the rest of the series to wrap up, I won't pass judgement on it yet.

As to the rest of the book, the Raven is a pretty amusing character, with an internal dialogue that served for some much needed comic relief after reading about all the other horrible things taking place in the story.  At times, I thought the story went far too long without coming back to him. Even though the Raven had his secrets, he still felt like the only character I truly understood. However, some people may not enjoy the Raven's personality as his thought process tended to be completely ridiculous.

On the whole, I think this novel is one worth reading. The Raven is an enjoyable character and the suspense in the novel is pretty intense. Still, I would check out other reviews before making a final decision.

I have provided an honest review after I received a copy of this book from the publisher.