Category Archives: Books

Book review: What Matters Most by Kellie Coates Gilbert

After our summer vacation to Texas, I was happy to follow up with a novel set in Texas.

Revell provided me a complimentary copy of “What Matters Most” by Kellie Coates Gilbert for my review.  The book is part of the Texas Gold collection of novels.  I have not read any of the other novels in this series, but this was a stand-alone book so I didn’t miss out on any background story.

“What Matters Most” by Kellie Coates Gilbert is available at Amazon (affiliate link).

In this book, Leta is struggling with her finances after being forced to drop out of college and work several jobs to provide professional memory care for her mother, who suffers from dementia.  She strikes up a friendship with a state senator, Nathan, who is a rising political star.  And she receives a high-paying job offer that seems too good to be true.  Soon enough, she finds that the work crosses the line, as she is assigned to a political opposition organization targeting Nathan.

The storyline in this novel provides plenty of conflict to drive the plot forward, from circumstances that intervene between characters to internal struggles with right and wrong.

Leta is torn between her personal ethics and her job.  Being in public service, Nathan is torn between the expectations of his family and constituents while navigating his own path in politics.  The plot moves along at a pleasant pace as the characters grapple with these issues.

Since we’re in an election year and politics are at their peak all around us, I didn’t love the political nature of the novel.  However, it was good and refreshing to read about a politician trying to do things the right way for the right reasons.  (Too bad it was just fiction!)  On a technical note, the political aspects did appear to be well researched.

The romance aspect between the characters developed slowly and had a Cinderella quality to it.  The down-on-her-luck heroine meets a rich, handsome ruler who is intrigued by her, to the dismay of the other ladies who want to snag him as a husband.

Throughout the novel, I found that the struggles and heartbreak of dealing with dementia brought the biggest emotional impact.  Above all else in the story, Leta fought to care for her mom and honor the Christian values her mom had instilled in her.

Thank you to Revell for providing a free copy of “What Matters Most”
by Kellie Coates Gilbert to facilitate my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

This post contains affiliate links, which help support this site.
Please see my disclosure statement for more information regarding affiliate links.

Summer Reading: All Summer Long by Melody Carlson

I love reading year-round, but there is just something about a summer road trip that requires a lighthearted book to pass the time.

We traveled over 2,200 miles in the car on our summer vacation this year, so I got a lot of reading done.  I finished three books, y’all!

“All Summer Long” is available at Amazon (affiliate link).

One of my reading selections was “All Summer Long” by Melody Carlson.  I received this book free from the publisher, Revell, to facilitate my honest review.

This is the second book in Ms. Carlson’s Follow Your Heart series.  I read the first book last summer (see my review for “Once Upon a Summertime” from last June).  I liked that one, so I was happy to read this next book in the series.

“All Summer Long” is a stand-alone book that doesn’t follow on anything from the first book in the Follow Your Heart series.  It features a separate cast and setting.

The book begins with Tia receiving a job offer from her aunt.  She has an exciting opportunity to move to San Francisco and help launch a dinner cruise venture on a renovated yacht.  Tia happily hangs up her apron in her uncle’s restaurant to become the head chef aboard the yacht.

Arriving in San Francisco, Tia learns that the captain of the boat is Leo, an old friend from summer camp.  She realizes she’s not quite over her childhood crush on Leo, while also quickly becoming part of the drama surrounding Leo and his new fiancee.  Meanwhile, Tia and Leo have to take over the renovations on the yacht when her aunt must attend to an illness in the family.

The book does a good job taking readers on a visit to San Francisco, from the dining to sailing the scenic Bay.  I enjoyed revisiting the Bay area through the descriptions of the setting in the book.

As a Christian romance novel, it delivers a pleasant storyline to get to an expected (predictable) happy ending.  The characters are sometimes frustrating and repetitive in their thoughts and actions during the situations they encounter in the book.  The two main characters are generally likeable, but the novel doesn’t really highlight any deep spiritual truths that help the characters grow and mature over the course of the story.

A lot of the plot has to do with Tia and Leo working together on the yacht as they oversee the renovations.  It is a bit slow at times, but I like a good renovation, so I didn’t mind reading about the design and construction process.

Overall, “All Summer Long” is an enjoyable, lighthearted book for summer reading.

Thank you to the Revell Reads program for providing a free copy of “All Summer Long”
by Melody Carlson to facilitate my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

This post contains affiliate links, which help support this site.  Please refer
my Disclosure Statement for more information about affiliate links.

Raising Uncommon Kids by Sami Cone {book review}

We live in a day and age that celebrates individuality and accomplishment.  Most parents would be happy if their kids had traits that made them uncommon, right?

Some great characteristics may come to mind.  Valedictorian or a sports superstar?  Musical prodigy or masterful writer?  Hysterical comedian or suave public speaker?

What about uncommonly kind and selfless?

That may not be the most celebrated way to be uncommon, but it is such an important and worthy goal in raising kids and passing on the right characteristics to the next generation.

Sami Cone explores this topic in her book “Raising Uncommon Kids: 12 Biblical Traits You Need to Raise Selfless Kids.”  Thank you to Baker Books for providing a free copy of the book to facilitate my honest review.

Raising Uncommon Kids is available at Amazon (affiliate link).

I was immediately intrigued from the description on the back of the book.

The greatest lesson we teach our kids isn’t anything we say – it’s what we do.

Many parents are surprised to discover just how little we’re actually modeling the behaviors we hope to pass on – qualities such as unconditional love, gentleness, forgiveness, patience, gratitude, humility, and more.

This unique book offers a fresh way to look at molding your children: by focusing more on adding good behaviors than on eliminating bad ones.

Using the Bible passage of Colossians 3:12-17 as her guide, Sami Cone focuses on 12 characteristics to foster in ourselves and our children. These traits are addressed in three sections:

  • Your Heart at Home – with chapters on love, harmony, gentleness, and bearing with one another
  • Your Attitude Toward Others – with chapters on forgiveness, wisdom, patience, and kindness
  • Your Influence in the World – with chapters on gratitude, peace, humility, and compassion

The book is not designed as a how-to for managing the behavior of children, but rather a look at what parents should be modeling and shaping in their kids.  As the introduction says, “You may be looking for a quick fix for your kids: I’m here to coach you in paying a little less attention to their behavior and spending a little more time evaluating your own.”

As I read this book, I was continually thinking about areas where I need to exhibit better leadership for my kids in my actions and not just my words.  The book was a gentle challenge for me to step up and be a better mom and a better Christian in order to be a better influence on my kids.

I use the term “gentle challenge” because the book was not at all overbearing or preachy in addressing the principles that we should be modeling as parents and molding in our kids.  It very effectively uses real-world examples and examines Bible passages to discuss each topic.

“Raising Uncommon Kids” has practical ideas woven into the text, with additional ideas listed at the end of each chapter to put the principle of the chapter into motion.  It’s a helpful resource to spark action in practicing Biblical traits as a family.

Thank you to Baker Books for providing a complimentary copy of “Raising Uncommon Kids: 12 Biblical Traits You Need to Raise Selfless Kids” by Sami Cone to facilitate my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

This post contains affiliate links, which help support this site.  Please refer to my disclosure statement for more information about affiliate links.