A Billion Reasons Why

A Billion Reasons Why by Kristin BillerbeckA Billion Reasons Why by Kristin Billerbeck
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Number of pages: 308
My copy: paperback, review copy from Booksneeze

He’s a handsome billionaire. She’s not impressed.

Katie McKenna has never loved any man but one: billionaire Luc DeForges. He was her first love. But there are a billion reasons why she’s engaged instead to Dexter Hastings, a solid and stable man who wants the same things she does: marriage and a family but all of the things that she wants without the deep-seeded pain and fear of being abandoned that Luc brings.

Dexter and she have worked an arrangement that’s akin to faith without action, love without deeds — a dead faith. Going home to New Orleans to sing for her childhood friend’s wedding, Katie must search her heart to find out if any of her reasons for being with Dexter are stronger than love. Only when Katie steps fully into faith and jumps off the cliff of life into the arms of Luc does she understand the fullness of God’s grace.

* * *

Ah, marriage. And engagement. Two things that I never really thought much about up until my brother got married. Now it feels like everyone around me is getting engaged or married. How many old female high school friends have changed their surnames (or at least, added their husband’s surnames to their names? How many friends in high school and college have I seen change their status from “In a Relationship” to “Engaged”? Sometimes they take me totally by surprise, too, only because they seemed so timid and shy back when I know them and now they’re getting married and starting their own families. It doesn’t make me want to get married yet (well, maybe a teensy part of me wonders — just a small part, because hello, I don’t even have a boyfriend yet), but it makes me realize that maybe I am at that particular season of my life where everyone around me is getting married and I’m…not.

Talk about a chick lit novel.  I knew my life can be qualified as a chick lit novel.

That may be one of the reasons I decided to read Kristin Billerbeck’s newest novel for Valentine’s weekend. Kristin Billerbeck wrote the Ashley Stockingdale series, one of my favorite Christian novel series, and I was thrilled to be able to request a copy of her newest book, A Billion Reasons Why, from Booksneeze.

Katie McKenna has been burned. Badly. She loved Luc DeForges with all her heart eight years ago, but he rejected her publicly, causing her to run away to build herself up again, even going to California shortly after her father died. Katie has found a new life in California with her best friend, teaching special kids. She was also about to be engaged to Dexter Hastings, a simple and stable man who wants to settle down and have a family like she does — basically everything that Luc is not. However, in comes Luc again, now a multimillionaire and still with an oozing charisma that Katie could not resist, asking her to sing for his brother’s wedding.

Truth be told, this felt a little bit harder to read to me compared to Ashley Stockingdale. The Ashley novels read a lot like Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series but with a geeky and Christian flavor. A Billion Reasons Why brought me into the world of New Orleans and 40’s music and movies, things that I am not too entirely familiar or fond with. This definitely had the author’s style, though — the over thinking heroine, the hot guy who knew the right words, the other, somewhat boring guy, the in-your-face best friend and the somewhat crazy mothers. I had a hard time following the story and though, because I was plunged right into the action from the start. I spent almost half of the book wondering what exactly Luc did that embarrassed Katie until it was finally revealed, and by then I felt like my attention has gone somewhere else, like reading about tattoo removal or something. It also felt that some characters were quite inconsistent with their affections, like Eileen, Katie’s best friend. She would rag on Luc then rag on Dexter, and she was really getting annoying at some point. Sometimes some of the characters felt a bit one-dimensional, particularly the one touted as the antagonist. It was an automatic dislike for the character from the very start. I think from the blurb alone, you know what’s going to happen and who Katie is going to choose, and it really didn’t give me much of a thrill when things unfolded in the book.

I wasn’t quite sure if I liked the book when I finished it because the entire story didn’t gel with me too much. I didn’t feel much of a deep connection with any of the characters, and the story, while cute and interesting, didn’t really give me too many “awww” or “aha” moments unlike the Ashley novels. Interestingly enough, I found that the book made much more sense a few days after I read it. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I think Luc’s pursuit of Katie is the point. She was almost content with being someone she had to learn to love eventually than with someone she was in love and has loved ever since. Luc pursued her relentlessly despite all the people against him, not because he was afraid of losing her but because he knew what he wanted her. That makes all the difference in the world. He loved Katie and he wanted Katie, and he would do anything just to win her heart all over again to make up for the past mistakes. I especially liked what Katie’s Mam told her, which is a pretty good advice for everyone, IMHO:

You know, Katie, you can plan so nothing goes wrong in life. But something will, and it won’t be what you expected to go wrong. So make sure you’re with someone who will help you bail the water out of the boat, not someone who will blame you for the hole. (p. 188)

And this:

Love isn’t safe. And whoever you love will hurt you. It’s part of the human experience. No one is perfect…people make mistakes. The secret is to focus on what they do right and decide what quirks you can live with. (p. 284)

Stability and good faith in a relationship is good, but without love, what’s the use? And I don’t think you can call it true love without the commitment and stability and faith.

A Billion Reasons Why isn’t my favorite novel from Kristin Billerbeck, but it’s a good book that talks about the complications of relationships and love and makes you think of your own convictions in that life aspect. It didn’t make me want to get married anytime soon (heh), but it does make me want to go and pick up all the other Billerbeck novels I’ve missed. :)

Rating:

Other reviews:
Steps
Creative Tree

Invasion (C.H.A.O.S. # 1)

Invasion (C.H.A.O.S. #1) by J.S. Lewis
Thomas Nelson, 320 pages

He didn’t ask for the job, but now all that stands between us and chaos… is Colt.

Colt McAlister was having the summer of his life. He spent his days surfing and his nights playing guitar on the beach with friends. He even met a girl and got his first car. But everything changes when his parents are killed in a freak accident.

He’s forced to leave his old life behind and move to Arizona with his grandfather. The only person he knows at the new high school is a childhood friend named Dani. And Oz, a guy he’s sure he’s never met but who is strangely familiar.

But what if his parents’ death wasn’t an accident? His mother, an investigative reporter, was going to expose a secret mind-control program run by one of the world’s largest companies. Before she could release the story, what if agents from Trident Biotech made sure she couldn’t go public?

Vowing to uncover the truth, Colt gets drawn into a secret world of aliens, shapeshifters, flying motorcycles, and invisible gateways.

The Invasion has begun.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I requested Invasion by J.S. Lewis from Booksneeze, so I had zero expectations when I started reading the book, too. Invasion is the first book in the C.H.A.O.S. series, and the first book tells the story of Colt McAlister, orphaned at 16 after his parents died in a car crash. Soon after he moved with his grandfather in Arizona, weird things start happening such as weird creatures chasing him, and random people trying to kill him for some reason. Soon Colt finds out that his mom was about to release a story about mind-controlling chips from a huge and powerful corporation, Trident Biotech. As Colt tries to uncover the mystery of his parents’ death, he runs for his life with his friends and he encounters all weird creatures and high technology, and he realizes that there may be more to this than he thought it was.

Invasion has 57 chapters, which I found a bit daunting when I started reading. These were short chapters, however, which made it for easy albeit a bit shallow reading. There is strong world building in Invasion, backed with interesting facts and information with how aliens and different creatures have been hidden among humans since the start. If you liked the setting in Men In Black, this book provides the same kind of world. Just like other books that involved conspiracies, action wasn’t lacking in this book: chase scenes, fights, random people trying to kill the heroes are a-plenty here. There’s also enough secret hideouts, mysterious people and advanced technology to excite sci-fi fans around.

However, I never felt invested in the characters. I liked Colt, Oz and Danielle, but I didn’t feel like I knew them for real. It may be because of how the story flowed or maybe even because each chapter is too short for me to glean much about who they are and what makes them tick. There also seemed to be a crowd of secondary characters all over the place, and while I get that it’s needed to build the new world that Colt is moving into, it was kind of hard to keep track of them. The overall premise was interesting, and it does make for an interesting read but I felt that I would be more interested in this if it were a movie instead of a book.

I think Invasion is still a good book, but I think it’s not for me. Perhaps it’s my age, or my lack of scifi knowledge and love. I like my aliens and wild worlds with chase scenes and explosions, but this one just failed to capture my interest. Maybe younger boys or longtime scifi fans would enjoy this more than I did.

Invasion by J.S. Lewis is already out in hardcover, published by Thomas Nelson. Thanks to Booksneeze for the review copy.

Rating:
→ I didn’t really finish the book, but I thought it had enough potential to get a 3-star rating.

My copy: ebook, review copy from Booksneeze

Cover: Booksneeze
Blurb: Goodreads

Other reviews:
Pessimistically Optimistic Meanderings
The Pumpkin Pie Patch

In My Mailbox (12): Holiday Swap, Merch and Ebooks

I meant to do an IMM post last week but I can’t remember why I skipped it. Perhaps it was because I had too many posts lined up. That, or I just felt lazy doing one. It was kind of a good thing, though, because it turns out I don’t have my camera cable at home so I couldn’t transfer photos, anyway.

This week is a pretty good book week, with Christmas coming and all that. I haven’t been to many Christmas parties yet (not until next week, anyway), but this week I received a lot of packages. Not all of them were books, but they were still packages, and it’s always fun to receive stuff in your actual mailbox. :)

In My Mailbox is a weekly book meme hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren, where bloggers post about what books received that week, be it via  mailbox, library or store. Here’s this week’s stash!

  1. The Giver by Lois Lowry (National Bookstore) – I got this because I was thinking of getting Matched, but I thought I’d read this one first since Matched has been compared to this a lot. I already posted my review here and suffice to say I really liked it. :) Will I get Matched now? Still not sure — what do you think?
  2. No Strings Attached by Mina V. Esguerra (National Bookstore) – I’ve been hounding the bookstores for her newest book after she told us about it in Twitter, but alas, it’s not in Eastwood. Then she tweeted that she saw it already, and since I can’t find it anywhere near I work, I took a special trip to the mall near our place and found lots and lots of copies. :D I finished reading this last week, will post a review next week.
  3. Mistwood by Leah Cypess and Blue Angel, White Shadow by Charlson Ong – After getting Mina’s new book, I got home and was welcomed by a package! It was from my Holiday Swap Santa, Tarie! She already sent me a message about it before I got it, telling me that the review copy of Blue Angel, White Shadow will be added in the package so I didn’t have to pick it up where she’s leaving the other copies for the other bloggers who will get it. :D I was really excited to see she got me Mistwood! I’ve been eying this one in the bookstore for a long time now. :D Thanks so much, Tarie! :)

I also braved the mall crowds yesterday to pick up the NaNoWriMo merch I ordered with some Wrimos from Johnny Air Cargo. The shipping fee kind of set me back a little, but I’m glad these things finally arrived. The jacket and the books aren’t mine, but I got my ML shirt, key chains and posters. :)

EBOOKS:

  1. Dining with Joy by Rachel Hauck (Amazon Kindle store) – I still have that ebook itch, so after buying and reading Anna and the French Kiss, I browsed the store again and found Rachel Hauck’s latest novel. I liked the first two books in the Lowcountry Romance (Sweet Caroline, Love Starts with Elle), and this third companion novel seems very promising. :)
  2. Reaper by Rachel Vincent (Amazon Kindle store) – I found out this ebook is free from the store, and I can never resist free ebooks. :) I must finish reading the rest of the books in this series.
  3. Invasion (A C.H.A.O.S. Novel) by J.S. Lewis (Booksneeze) – Booksneeze recently received a lot of new titles lately, and I found this new young adult series. It seems pretty interesting, plus it has an ebook version so it saves on shipping time. :)
  4. Here Lies Bridget by Paige Harrison (NetGalley) – I know I still have a lot of NetGalley titles lined up in my TBR, but this book caught my eye. Looks very interesting. :D I don’t know when I’ll be able to read it, but I will. :)

Next week, it’s our Goodreads group’s Christmas party, and I’m sure there will be books to bring home there again. :) But that’s for next week. I still have to shop for presents for that!

Now I shall get ready for my godsister’s wedding. :) Have a great Sunday, everyone!

Wonders just ceased

Wonders Never Cease by Tim DownsWonders Never Cease by Tim Downs
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Number of pages:  310
My copy: paperback, review copy from Booksneeze

“It’s true what they say, you know: If you talk to God, you’re religious; but if you hear from God, you’re schizophrenic.”

When a car accident leaves a famous movie star in a coma, nurse Kemp McAvoy thinks he has found his ticket to the life he’s always wanted. As a med school dropout who was on his way to becoming an anesthesiologist, Kemp has the knowledge to carry off the crazy plan he concocts: adjust the star’s medication each night and pretend to be a heavenly visitor giving her messages. He recruits her agent and a down-and-out publisher to make sure the messages will become the next spiritual bestseller and make them all rich.

But his girlfriend’s daughter, Leah, keeps telling people that she is seeing angels, and her mother and her teachers are all afraid that something is wrong.

Before it’s all over, they’ll all learn a few things about angels, love, and hope.

* * *

I invest a lot of emotions when I read a book. I am very particular with characters, and strong characters always make a mark in me, even if the plot is typical. Most of the books I marked as favorite are books that leave me both sad and satisfied at the end, books that I felt that the characters were not only people inside a book, but people who have become my friends.

When I saw Wonders Never Cease up for grabs at Book Sneeze, I grabbed it because I thought this is one of the books where I would find friends. I figure, it’s a book about impersonating an angel, and there’s got to be a lot of hilarious moments here, and redemptive moments as well. The blurb alone sounds like a movie, and it seems like a heartwarming read. Spoiler warning here on out!

Continue Reading →

Book Stash – April

I’m sorry for not posting as much as I used to here — truth be told, I’m just having a hard time finishing the books I’ve been reading. Ever since I finished North of Beautiful, I haven’t been feeling much of the other books I have on my to-be-read list. Sure, I’ve got some reading challenges to guide me, but I just wasn’t feeling them that much. Ever had one of those days?

I’ve been browsing around bookstores again ever since Easter, and I found myself not being able to choose books to read. Strange, but it’s also kind of liberating because my wallet is happy. :P I did manage to get some  books from some bookstore visits. Then my dad arrived, and I realized why there’s a subconscious feeling why I’m holding back from buying books: he has my Amazon stash with him. :)

So now I present to you my first book stash post here. I wish I could post this every week, kind of like how other people do, but I don’t really acquire books every week, much less manage to finish reading them on time. So here’s a first (I think), and I can’t say when the next is going to be. :D

Book Stash - AprilIn this picture:

  1. BoneMan’s Daughters by Ted Dekker
    I’ve always been a Ted Dekker fan, and I’ve been wanting to buy the trade paperback of this book but it was just too expensive. When I saw this two weeks ago in Fully Booked, I just grabbed it. Here’s to liking this one. :) One day, I’ll do a Dekker bonanza and get all his books and read them. :P
  2. Ilustrado by Miguel Syjuco
    I picked this up to add another book in my Project 20:10 Challenge, and Blooey just gave a glowing review on this, and I can’t wait to get started on this. Should be good.
  3. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
    I’ve seen a couple of recommendations on this by Blooey and Myk, and the paperback is quite cheap, too, so I got it from Powerbooks. Looks promising, but it’s another series, so I think I’m going to have to collect this, too.
  4. The Book of Jane by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt
    I’ve been meaning to get this one ever since I started writing my 2009 NaNoWriMo novel, but of course it’s not available here. When I did my Amazon shopping, this was the first one I got — and I got it for only $5! I’m reading it now and liking it, although I already guessed something from the story the moment the character showed up. :P But’s it’s still good, and I’m glad to have gotten my hands on some good Christian fiction again.
  5. Last Mango in Texas by Ray Blackston
    I’m a big Ray Blackston fan, from his Jay Jarvis series. I was surprised to see that he has new books out, and this was the cheapest I could find. I look forward to laughing with this once again.
  6. Sweet Caroline by Rachel Hauck
  7. Love Starts with Elle by Rachel Hauck
    For #6 and 7, they seem interesting, and it was on sale, too, so I got it. Good Christian chick lit, how I missed you!
  8. Flashbang: How I Got Over Myself by Mark Steele
    I have actually read this book already, but I had to throw away my copy when Ondoy hit. :( Good thing there was a sale on this, too!
  9. The Guy I’m Not Dating Trish Perry
    Once again, Christian chick lit! It’s very pink, and seems like a good story, so yeah, I threw it in the list. I hope this impulse buy is worth it. :)

Not in picture, but I hope this arrives soon:

  • Wonders Never Cease by Tim Downs
    Got Getting this from Booksneeze — I finally caught a fiction release from them! Pays to have them in my RSS reader. Now if only shipping books from where they are to where I am does not take two weeks, I can write their reviews faster. But oh well. Free books are free books, I shouldn’t complain. I hope the book arrives soon, though!

I still have this urge to buy some more books, but right now I’m waiting for some releases to arrive — and some books to lower their prices…or at least, for bookstores to go on sale! I mean, not all books come with low prices like cheap insurance, you know. Which reminds me…can I wait to buy some other books I want until Book Fair? That’s four months away! Hm…Let’s see! ;)