Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Book Review: I'm No Angel by Kylie Bisutti

I'm No Angel by Kylie Bisutti
Tyndale House Publishers, May 14, 2013 

In December 2011, 21-year-old Victoria’s Secret model Kylie Bisutti stunned the fashion industry when she chose faith over fame and fortune and made the switch from supermodel to role model.

In I’m No Angel, Kylie shares her story—from her early years struggling to make it big in the cut-throat world of modeling, her “big break” winning the Victoria’s Secret Angel competition, and the disillusionment and spiritual warfare that followed, to the moment she realized that she could no longer reconcile her career with her Christian beliefs, surrendered her life to God, turned in her Angel wings, and dedicated her life to preaching a message of modesty and inner beauty.

Along the way, Kylie talks about her personal struggles with inadequacy, low self-esteem, and her near-constant quest for approval in a world where you can never be thin enough, pretty enough, or sexy enough. She helps readers understand that true beauty lies within and that real fulfillment comes from knowing, loving, and serving Christ. 

It seems this book is making some waves. As it should. A former Victoria's Secret model leaving all the fame and money behind for God and his standards. Who wouldn't be interested in Kylie's story?

For that reason this is a really important book for parents to read and take into consideration the impact our western world places on beauty and the impossible goals set by our image focused society. Kylie's story is engaging and easy to read. As she talks about her experiences in  the modelling world, one gets to see the extremes women go to achieve a certain look deemed "beautiful". It's heartbreaking really. Even more heartbreaking is the fact that young girls around the world are striving or starving for this same "beautiful" look.

Kylie's faith journey is one that might make some people say: "How can she be a Christian and still do Victoria's Secret's contest and the life after it?" For me, though Kylie still had some things to learn about God's standards. Her husband faithfully prayed everyday for her to come to this realization. Also, people need to take into consideration, that although a Christian from her mid-teens, modelling took over her life and in this world Godly people are scarce. With a family not Christians (although gleaned from the book they take family and morals seriously), how can Kylie truly grow to be all that God has for her? Something else that struck me about Kylie's journey, is that although she struggled to see God's standard for modesty, God didn't forget and he turned a bad situation into good - his good and Kylie's good and a good for thousands of other girls who need to hear Kylie's story.

I really enjoyed this book and it made me stop and think about some of the messages I inadvertently send my own daughter about looks etc. I do this unknowingly, as simply being a part of our western culture, a culture that is obsessed with looks. Thank you Kylie for writing this book and sharing your story with the world. I pray many people will be impacted by it and thus brought closer to God.

 Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of this novel for review.  I was in no way obliged to give a positive review.


Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings.

She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Book Review: Spiralling Out of Control by Michelle Dennis Evans


Spiralling Out of Control by Michelle Dennis Evans
Available on Kindle October 2013 

Temptation, depression, seduction, betrayal ... Not what Stephanie was expecting at fifteen years of age. Uprooted from her happy, all-girl high school life with a dream filled future and thrown into an unfriendly co-ed school, Stephanie spirals into depression.

When charismatic high school senior, Jason notices her, Stephanie jumps in feet first and willingly puts all her faith and trust in him, a boy she barely knows.
Every choice she makes and turn she takes leads her towards a dangerous path.

Her best friend is never far away and ready to catch her … but will she push Tabbie too far away when she needs her most?
 
Spiralling Out of Control is the debut novel by Australian author, Michelle Dennis Evans.

This novel is about Stephanie, a teenage girl whose life goes haywire after her family moves from Sydney to Queensland where she meets Jason ...

I'm going to be upfront with you, because that's how we do it at the Book Review Sisters.

This book pretty much covers all the major themes of an adolescence gone wrong : sex, drugs, alcohol, exploitation ... and all under-aged.

If you're easily offended, or just not looking to read about these issues, don't read this book.

Having said that, I'll tell you that the book doesn't go into unnecessary detail - nothing is described graphically.  It's written as tastefully as possible, and written with enough emotional distance to keep you from being overwhelmed by the spiralling events in Stephanie's life.  To me this was great, as otherwise it'd be too upsetting.

I found Spiralling Out of Control a little cumbersome at the start, but once things start happening, the pace picks up and the story becomes quite gripping and difficult to put down.  The faith element is very subtle, which will suit those who don't like being preached too.  But if you're looking for a dramatic spiritual redemption, you'll be disappointed.  

I think Michelle has written Spiralling Out of Control to be as realistic as possible, and the fact is there are many people who learn about God and refuse to accept Him.  This novel is the first in a trilogy however, so perhaps there's more of Stephanie's journey to come.

One thing Michelle has done brilliantly is portray the nature of a boy-girl teenage relationship and how easy it is for things to get out of hand without ever intending it to.  Jason was so cringing-ly real I thought I was reading about someone I knew in high school.  At the very least, girls should read this book to see how Mr Nice Guy can easily manipulate words - and you - to get what he wants.

That said, as a parent, if my girls were 15 I'd only let them read half the book.  At 17? I'm still not sure, as I'm way away from there yet.  The reality is that many secular YA fiction regularly explore the same issues - and with greater detail, and are read by very young teens.  But as Christians we draw a different line with our fiction and try to shelter our children from these issues.  Should we? I can't answer for you.

My advice? Parents should read this book for themselves first and then make up their minds.  And it's definitely worth a read. Michelle has done a great job of showing how a few poor choices can take a kid's life far away from where anyone expected it to and serves as a good reminder that we should be vigilant and pro-active in our children's lives.


Helen's favourite genre is historical fiction with a strong romantic element.  She also enjoys contemporary romance, chick-lit and YA.  She's not caught up in the spell of fantasy fiction, despite The Faraway Tree series being a strong influence in her childhood.

Helen is currently working on her first book, a Christian young adult novel set between two opposite but equally fascinating places in Australia.

Thursday Thoughts: Writing Re-ignited

I remember the week I stopped working my WIP (Work in Progress). It was the first week in February 2013 and my husband and I had just got out 2 year old daughter weaned off her dummy. That same week she also ditched her day naps...I cried for a week when that happened! It took me a good two months to adjust to the fact that my time home was now FULLY occupied!

With only pockets of time for my writing I put it aside. Now I'm having those whisperings of echoes long ago, telling me, soon I can write again. You see, at the end of January 2014 my girl goes to pre-school for two days a week! I'm excited! She is ready for it and so is her Mama!

I'm getting excited about the time to blog consistently and WRITE!

What is something you've had to put aside for a time? I'd love to hear from you. 


Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings.

She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Thursday Thoughts: Are You EVER going to read these?

Does your TBR pile look like this?
A while ago, I posted about Struggling to finish that book that you've been trying to read since forever, well this time I'm going to talk about that dreaded To Be Read (TBR) pile!

If you're anything like me, you have a list that is too long to count. Why are these TBR piles so high?

Some thoughts:

1) A true book lover will see a book in a book store and for whatever reasons it's calling them to purchase and read it. However, by the time they finish at the bookstore about a million (exaggeration but you get the idea) other books have said the same thing. A true book lover will also buy one or two of these (maybe more depending on budget) and take them home with every intention of reading them and then....
Or this?

2) Your favorite author releases a new book...well all current books in the TBR pile gets shoved to the bottom while this one is voraciously consumed.

3) I've noticed a bit of a trend that some of my favourite authors books end up being released roughly about the same time every year. This then creates a book binging type senario where nothing but these author's book are read and for a while the TBR pile doesn't even exist!

4) Then, I find that if I read a particular genre (like inspirational suspense) I find it very, very hard to start another book in a different genre and once again the book/s don't get read.

5) Finally, it's been so long since I intended to read said book/s on TBR list that I've forgotten why I want to read them...

and so the vicious cycle continues!

Recently I gave away a section of my TBR pile, as I looked over it and asked myself honestly:

"Jessica, are you EVER going to read these books?"

The practical, quiet but sure answer was no. The reader is me was screaming...YES! One day! Well it's been two years and that one day still hasn't come..so bye, bye books.

My current TBR pile is still high, but I feel like the books there I will actually read. To that end, I got so sick of seeing the pile grow, or get less from giving away that I was determined to move books from the list by actually...shocker...reading them!  Two books have been moved and I'm going to start another very soon. I feel productive, happy and less guilty!

What about your TBR pile? How high is it? Do you experience any of the above problems? I'd love to hear from you!


Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings.

She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Book Review: A Matter of Trust by Lis Wielh with April Henry

A Matter of Trust by Lis Wiehl with April Henry
Thomas Nelson
It all starts with a phone call from the dead.
  Mia Quinn is on the phone with Colleen, her best friend and coworker, when the unthinkable happens: she hears the sound of a gunshot. And Colleen's death is an eerie echo of the murder of another Seattle prosecutor who was also gunned down at home four years earlier.

Mia’s life has already been turned upside down by the recent death of her husband. Now a single parent to a teenager and a toddler, she is struggling to hold on to their house. Meanwhile, her son has turned moody and secretive, and her daughter is suffering from mysterious nightmares.

When the DA asks her to head up the investigation into Colleen’s death and its connections to the earlier murder, Mia agrees—if he’ll also let her investigate the suicide of a teenager who may have been bullied to death. Partnered with irascible homicide detective Charlie Carlson, Mia finds that many people could have wanted Colleen dead, including people in Mia's life she thought she could trust.

As Mia races to figure out who gunned down Colleen in cold blood, she uncovers more secrets than she bargained for. Has she been wrong to trust those closest to her?
Will she put the pieces together before it’s too late? A Matter of Trust is a riveting tale of love, loyalty—and murder.

This is my second Lis Wiehl book and whilst I liked it, I didn't love it. Quite simply it didn't grab my heart or attention. I struggled to get into the book and although the mystery was solved (it was a decent mystery actually), this book is clearly headed for second book featuring this character as some personal plot points were left unanswered obviously waiting for a second book. Whilst it was okay, I doubt I would pick up another book in this series.


Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings.

She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Thursday Thoughts: Stranded....

 Picture From



So after reviewing Dani Pettrey's Stranded the other day, I got to thinking about places one would want to be stranded...IF anyone wants to be stranded that is! I've watched too many Man Vs. Wild episodes featuring Bear Grylls to want to be stuck anywhere without a hotel within walking distance! So for me deserts, jungles, swamps and most of Australia's outback are out but...

If I had to be stuck anywhere really, I'd probably pick some kind of island. There are trees, you can fish (well I couldn't but hey this hypothetical) and hopefully a shipping lane is near by.

What about you guys? Would you want to be stranded? Where?




Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings.

She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Book Review: Stranded by Dani Pettrey

Stranded by Dani Pettrey
Bethany House Publishers, September 1, 2013

When Her Friend Goes Missing,
Every Minute Counts

Darcy St. James returns to Alaska to join a journalist friend undercover on the trail of a big story. But when Darcy arrives, she finds her friend has disappeared. Troubled by the cruise ship's vague explanation, Darcy uses her cover as a travel reporter to investigate further.

The last person Gage McKenna expects to see during his summer aboard a cruise ship leading adventure excursions is Darcy. And in typical Darcy fashion, she's digging up more trouble.

He'd love to just forget her--but something won't let him. And he can't help but worry about her as they are heading into more remote regions of Alaska and eventually into foreign waters. Something sinister is going on, and the deeper they push, the more Gage fears they've only discovered the tip of the iceberg.



I was really excited when this book arrived from the US. I love getting Amazon orders - it's like Christmas several times a year! I've been enjoying Dani Pettrey's Alaskan Courage series and was happy to delve into Darcy and Gage's story. I enjoyed the book but Darcy got on my nerves a little. She was simply too pushy and nosy for me to truly engage with. Even though I'd read Shattered (my favourite so far in the series), I had trouble remembering the connection she and Gage had in that book. As a result I was struggling to place where they were in their relationship - were they together, did they talk about a relationship before this book? and so on. This impacted on my ability to relate to them as a couple. Oh and yes, I could have reread Shattered to find out but I couldn't find my copy!

I found Gage a character I could understand more, his journey to faith was one I was happy to see through till the end - boredom is sometimes most often used by God if we let him! As much as I struggled with Darcy, her faith is something I liked. She clearly was working on things in her life, trying not to cross moral boundaries, but struggling all the same. Such a human trait!

As usual with this series the whole McKenna clan gets involved and as each book goes by it's easier to keep track of them all! I was confused though by the various cruise liner characters. They had minor roles and some very important roles, but they were very interchangeable and I didn't know who was who most of the time. This is important because when it came to uncovering the bad guys, I was confused as to which bad guy was which!

It seems like I'm not really liking this book - but I did enjoy it overall - just not loved it. I'm really excited about Silenced and reading Jake and Kayden's story!

Your series continues to keep me wanting more from the McKenna's Dani!


Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings.

She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Book Review: Trapped by Irene Hannon

Trapped by Irene Hannon
Revell, September 1, 2013

When librarian Laura Griffith's sixteen-year-old sister disappears on a frigid February day, leaving only a brief note behind, Laura resolves to do whatever it takes to track down the runaway teen. That includes recruiting ATF agent turned PI James "Dev" Devlin to help. But the deeper he digs, the more he begins to suspect that something sinister is at work in the girl's disappearance. And the closer he gets to uncovering the truth, the clearer it becomes that the situation isn't just dangerous--it's deadly.

Chilling and at times terrifying, Trapped is the latest thrilling read from Irene Hannon, the queen of romantic suspense. Hannon outdoes herself with this fast-paced tale of fear, deception, and just the right dose of romance.


I've been waiting for this book since Vanished came out. Nine months is a long time! My first thoughts after finishing the book is that I was creeped out by the villain - not necessarily a bad thing, but this guy was not just crazy, but creepy and it made some of his scene a little hard for me to read. Some people will find the subject matter (kidnapping - especially in the form taken in this book) hard to read at times. However, this character did add to the suspense of the book and for me that is a good thing.

I think this book is a little different from her other ones. We knew who the bad guy was a lot earlier, so it was a game of waiting and wondering when and how they were going to catch him - if at all at some points. I liked this new angle actually, it left a bit more time for character development. This is Darcy's story as much as it is Laura and Dev's. I felt for her, was scared for her and worried for her. I felt for Laura as she waited to hear word from her sister.

Laura and Devlin make a good but understated couple. Restrained chemistry marked much of their interactions, but it was easy to see how much they liked each other and were willing to wait the case out to pursue a relationship. Devlin as a hero didn't grab my attention - it might be his red hair, but he was guarded for much of the book and even when he did let Laura in behind his walls, it still didn't grab me emotionally. So, besides their mutual attraction, Dev could have been replaced by a different hero it wouldn't have changed the outcome of the story.

In terms of spiritual things, this is also Hannon's most understated regarding Christian themes. This is highlighted by how little the characters discuss their faith or lack of. I liked this. I knew the characters believed in God, with some struggling with this, but overall it was not discussed in lots of detail. I'd rather make my own judgments on their faith journey that have it spelled out for me.

So overall another great book! Looking forward to many more successful years!

 Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of this novel for review.  I was in no way obliged to give a positive review.
 

Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings.

She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.