Posted in book reviews

Wings of a Flying Tiger by Iris Yang

This may be the weirdest review I’ve ever written. Probably not for anyone reading it, but definitely for me personally.

Why? I’m glad you asked!

Okay, you probably didn’t, but I’m gonna tell you anyway…

I’m not normally big on war/battle scenes outside of the fantasy genre. I have no idea why, but give me a smoked orc, a decapitated goblin, burnt elf flesh – even a highly bloody GOT battle – and I’m all in! But a real life battle scene? Machine guns, fighter jets, human vs. human in a horrific and pointless war??? Nope. Can’t do it.

But of course, that’s exactly how Wings of a Flying Tiger began — with a jet fighter shoot out and a pilot seeing his best friend being shot out of the sky while trying to parachute to safety… right before his own plane is brought down! This is NOT my kinda thing!!

So why did I love this book SO much???

Wings of a Flying Tiger by Iris YangWings of a Flying Tiger by Iris Yang
Published by Open Books on May 20, 2018
ISBN: 194859806X
Pages: 254
Source: Open Books
Goodreads
five-stars

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

Synopsis

World War Two. Japanese occupied China. One cousin's courage, another's determination to help a wounded American pilot.

In the summer of 1942, Danny Hardy bails out of his fighter plane into a remote region of western China. With multiple injuries, malaria, and Japanese troops searching for him, the American pilot’s odds of survival are slim.

Jasmine Bai, an art student who had been saved by Americans during the notorious Nanking Massacre, seems an unlikely heroine to rescue the wounded Flying Tiger. Daisy Bai, Jasmine’s younger cousin, also falls in love with the courageous American.

With the help of Daisy’s brother, an entire village opens its arms to heal a Flying Tiger with injured wings, but as a result of their charity the serenity of their community is forever shattered.

Love, sacrifice, kindness, and bravery all play a part in this heroic tale that takes place during one of the darkest hours of Chinese history.

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.

I received this book for free from Open Books. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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My Thoughts on Wings of a Flying Tiger:

I’m going to try my best to write a spoiler-free review, but it’s going to be tough. There’s so much I want to say about this book! At the same time, I don’t want to give too much of the story away or ruin any twists.

Let’s get this out of the way first – This book takes place during an incredibly brutal war. There are LOTS OF TRIGGERS: rape/sexual assault; extreme violence and lots of dead bodies; in-depth depictions of war scenes and horribly cruel crimes. But if you can make it through all that, you’re probably going to add Wings of a Flying Tiger to your favorites!

The Story:

While the violence is horrific, the story itself is compelling, well-written, and super fast-paced! I found myself pausing so my heart had time to slow down.

Yes, the story takes place in a war. Yes, it’s gruesome. Yet it’s also filled with hope, love, and joy.

The main character, Jasmine Bai, leaves school to travel home to convince her parents to leave Nanking before the Japanese invade. But her warning comes too late and she finds herself in the middle of Japanese-controlled territory! She ends up taking refuge at an all-women college inside the International Safety Zone, a 2-mile stretch that’s supposed to offer safety to the surviving civilians. But the Japanese military doesn’t obey the rules of the zone for very long!

Just when it seems Jasmine’s life might regain some level of safety and “normalcy,” her life is shaken up yet again when she and her cousin come upon a Flying Tiger (an American pilot volunteering to fight for China against the Japanese) named Danny.

The Characters:

The characters in Wings of a Flying Tiger are part of what keeps the story flowing at such a fast and engaging pace. They’re so well-written it’s hard not to find yourself completely enthralled with them, wondering what’s going to happen next and how they’ll get out of their current predicament.

Jasmine and her cousin, Daisy, are sweet and innocent in the beginning of the novel and somehow manage to maintain some of that in the most brutal of situations. Daisy especially seems sheltered from the harshness of the war as the two girls go through life just trying to survive.

The Fighting Tiger, Danny, is suffering from PTSD (obviously not referred to as that in the book) and struggles with nightmares while at the same time being anxious to get back to the fight after his plane is brought down. If I talk too much more about Danny, I’m afraid I’ll ruin some things so I’ll just end right there on him.

There are plenty of other supporting characters, good and bad. Everyone I either loved or hated.

Final Thoughts:

This was an incredibly hard book to read. Not because the story, writing, characters, or anything like that was “bad,” but because the story, writing, characters, and scenes were so good! The story takes place in the middle of a war, while Japanese soldiers are committing the most horrible atrocities imaginable — and the author doesn’t back down from that. She writes it in all its horridness. Normally, I can’t stomach this stuff…

So I cannot believe how much I loved this book. The entire time spent reading I either cried, laughed, experienced joy, pain, relief, fear, love or hate. And I felt emotionally spent by the time I reached the end. But sometimes, the best books just do that you!

What do you think? Have you read Wings of a Flying Tiger?

Have you ever read a book that had all the stuff you hate reading, yet loved the book anyway? Leave me a comment below and thanks for stopping by my little corner of the internet!

five-stars
Posted in book reviews

Remarkable Hope

Remarkable HopeRemarkable Hope: When Jesus Revived Hope in Disappointed People by Shauna Letellier
Published by FaithWords on March 5, 2019
ISBN: 1455571717
Genres: Christian Non-fiction, Inspirational
Pages: 224
Source: FirstWords Bloggers
Goodreads
five-stars

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

Synopsis

Rediscover eight people in the Bible whose hopes and expectations went from disappointment to life-changing transformation through Jesus.

Remarkable Hope reveals a pattern of hope where individuals were surprised by Jesus in drastic ways after they placed their hope in him and were--at first--disappointed. Their stories show his work was rarely what they anticipated.

As we observe Christ's faithful commitment to these Biblical characters who hoped in him, we are wowed by his unseen plan. We are comforted by his orchestration of circumstances and revived by his enduring presence. Remarkable Hope helps us gladly declare, like the apostle Paul, that "our hope does not disappoint us."

I received this book for free from FirstWords Bloggers. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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My Thoughts on Remarkable Hope:

I feel like I’ve said this a lot lately, but I LOVED THIS BOOK!!!

Like many others, I’ve had times in my life where I’ve questioned whether my hope in Jesus was misplaced. It’s seemed as if I’d never get past the pain and felt as if every day brought a new set of troubles. Remarkable Hope is a wonderful book for anyone who has ever felt that way in the past, or is going through hard times right now.

It’s filled with stories about fairly well-known biblical characters. The way they’re told makes their stories feel so much more real, and gave so much more meaning to them, that I found myself amazed I’d never seen such insight into them before! The chapter about Jairus and his daughter was particularly moving. It had me weeping uncontrollably!

As the introduction chapter, “Steadfast Hope” states,

…chapters are biblical vignettes: short retellings of times when people placed their hope in Christ and appeared – at first – to be disappointed by him. …

As we observe his faithful commitment to those who hope in him, we will be wowed by his unseen plan, comforted by his words, and revived by his presence.

excerpts from the Steadfast Hope chapter, Remarkable Hope

The set up:

I particularly enjoyed the way the book was set up/organized.

Each chapter begins with the bible verses featuring the character the chapter is about. It then moves into a fictionalized account of the same time period/scene in that biblical figure’s life. The stories themselves are incredibly moving and prove Letellier’s point on their own. But she then goes on to give a further reflection on the person and the type of hope they had. Each chapter then ends with a prayer.

Final Thoughts:

I absolutely loved this book. As I already said, I think it’s perfect for just about anyone! Whether you’re a believer in Christ, or just need a ray of hope to shine in your life, this book is going to lift your spirits and help pull you up and through!

What do you think? Have you read Remarkable Hope? Could you use a book like this? Have a similar book suggestion for me? Leave me a comment below and thanks for visiting Combing Through the Pages!

five-stars
Posted in book reviews

The Frizz by Jasmine Fogwell

The Frizz by Jasmine FogwellThe Frizz by Jasmine Fogwell, Amy Martin
Published by Jasmine Fogwell on July 3, 2018
ISBN: 0995265003
Genres: Children's Fiction
Pages: 34
Source: the author
Goodreads
three-half-stars

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

Synopsis

Jeannie Avery Gibbins has frizzy hair and a wild imagination. Every day her mother has to help tame the frizz to get her ready for school. But each morning, when Jeannie sees her hair in the mirror, she gets an idea. Today, she doesn't see frizzy hair, instead she sees a lion's mane. What do you think Jeannie's hair will turn into tomorrow?

I received this book for free from the author. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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My Thoughts on The Frizz:

My first thought on the children’s book The Frizz, was “a kid’s book featuring a girl with frizzy hair? Count me in!” As a girl with frizzy, unruly hair, who grew up to be a woman with frizzy hair, I was instantly on board and excited for this story.

Every morning, Jeannie wakes up and looks in the mirror. And every morning she sees her frizzy hair and has an idea of what to do with it! So every morning, after Jeannie has transformed herself into whatever her imagination has made her that day (a lion, a rockstar, a mop?!?!?), her mom has to get that frizz tamed! This reminded me a lot of when I was younger and my dad had to fix mine and my sister’s hair and… well, it’s amazing either of us still has hair left!

The story itself is really cute and funny. I think it’d be great for a little girl with frizzy hair.

I wasn’t a big fan of the ending, but it wasn’t horrible. I think I was just expecting something different.

Overall, The Frizz is a cute, fun children’s book. What do you think? Have you read The Frizz or can you relate to the torture of having your frizzy hair “tamed” before school as a kid? Leave me a comment below!

three-half-stars
Posted in book reviews

Dead Sea Rising by Jerry B. Jenkins

Dead Sea Rising by Jerry B. JenkinsDead Sea Rising (Dead Sea Chronicles #1) by Jerry B. Jenkins
Published by Worthy Books on November 13, 2018
ISBN: 1617950092
Genres: Christian Fiction
Pages: 320
Goodreads
four-half-stars

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

Synopsis

FROM #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR JERRY B. JENKINS COMES A HEART-STOPPING ADVENTURE OF HISTORICAL PROPORTIONS

Nicole Berman is an archaeologist on the brink of a world-changing discovery. During her first dig in Jordan, she believes she has found concrete evidence of a biblical patriarch that could change history books forever. But someone doesn’t want the truth revealed. While urgently trying to connect pieces of an ancient puzzle, a dangerous enemy is out to stop her.

“From a criminal investigation in Manhattan to the birth of Abram in ancient Ur, Jerry Jenkins weaves together a tale of drama and suspense that will draw you into the lives of two families separated by 4,000 years of history yet sharing remarkably similar struggles of faith. Dead Sea Rising combines the thrill of a whodunit with the moral and political intrigue of the ancient, and modern, Middle East. But be prepared. Once you begin, you won’t be able to stop until you reach the final page!” —DR. CHARLIE DYER, PROFESSOR-AT-LARGE OF BIBLE, AND HOST OF THE LAND AND THE BOOK RADIO PROGRAM

“If you love history—especially biblical history—this is a fun and fascinating read!” —JONI EARECKSON TADA, JONI AND FRIENDS INTERNATIONAL DISABILITY CENTER

 “Jerry Jenkins’ dialogue is equal to the best of Nelson DeMille, his storylines equal to the best of John Grisham. And now Dead Sea Rising . . . this book may be Jerry’s best.” —ANDY ANDREWS, NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE TRAVELER’S GIFT AND THE NOTICER

“Jumping back and forth in time at a breakneck pace, Dead Sea Rising is a thriller as only Jerry B. Jenkins can tell it. Biblical history combines with gripping contemporary mystery. Just be aware—you’ll be hooked.” —JAMES SCOTT BELL, INTERNATIONAL THRILLER WRITERS AWARD WINNER

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WHAT DID I JUST READ?!?!?

So let me begin by telling you guys, this book just completely and totally messed me up!! Though whether in a good way or a bad way remains to be seen…

First off, let me just give you a warning… this is the first book in a series!!! 

I didn’t realize that. 

So as I raced through the pages, desperate to know what happens next, who is behind everything happening to the Berman family, and what’s going to happen with Terah and the King – I expected it all to be wrapped up in a nice little bow…

BUT IT WASN’T!!!

And now I have to wait for the next book!!! And to be honest, I’m not sure my heart can withstand the suspense…

So if I disappear from the internets and you never hear from me again – Dead Sea Rising by Jerry B. Jenkins did it!

My Thoughts on Dead Sea Rising:

The story starts in Manhattan, New York, with Nicole Berman being informed her mother has tripped and broken her hip. Her father is too far away to get there before surgery, and Nicole rushes to the hospital to be with her mother.

The scene laid out on these first two pages had me hooked and ready to support Nicole through whatever was about to come…

But from there, we’re transported from a present-day hospital in Manhattan to Mesopotamia, 2000 B.C., during the reign of King Nimrod, and we’re in Ur with Terah and enthusiastically awaiting the birth of his unborn child.

Then we’re back to the present day where it turns out, Nicole’s mom’s fall wasn’t an accident…

And in the past, Terah and his unborn child are in danger…

AND THAT’S THE FIRST 10 PAGES!!!

The Characters:

I loved pretty much every character in this book!

The main character, Nicole, was a strong and smart female who’s waiting to hear back on whether or not Saudi Arabia is going to let her lead a dig there (she’s an archeologist). Nicole and her mother, Ginny, are close and so Nicole is incredibly heartbroken to learn that her mother is in the hospital.

Nicole and her father, Ben, aren’t as close as she and her mother are, and we quickly discover there may be a reason he stays so guarded… what secrets has Nicole’s father been keeping??

And while I truly enjoyed this book immensely (and without giving away any spoilers)

Did Jenkins HAVE to kill off one of my favorite characters? Maybe it’s the lack of sleep I’ve been getting with our newest placement, but I bawled my eyes out over a character that’s barely even in the book! I won’t say the name or even gender, because I don’t want to spoil anything, but I loved them and now they’re gone and I’m broken hearted!!!

The Story:

I’ve already said it, but I was pulled into this story from the very beginning!

The author, Jerry B. Jenkins, was one of the authors for the Left Behind series, which I absolutely LOVED (and what got me interested in actually studying the bible and not just reading it for the good stories), so I should have known this was going to be one of those books I wasn’t going to want to put down.

But I was unprepared for the level of unchecked emotional turmoil I was going to experience by the time I finished reading Dead Sea Rising! This is one of those books I started that life forced me to put down for a little while, and it was torture every day that went by without me being able to pick it back up and find out what happened next…

And then I finally reached “the end,” only to discover…

IT’S NOT THE END!!! There’s another book coming out soon.

I was left with so many questions my head may explode!!!

So all in all, I loved Dead Sea Rising and I recommend it to EVERYONE!!! But I’m super upset I can’t read the next part of the story already… My only complaint is that it ended so abruptly and I’m without the next book.

Have you also read or planning to read Dead Sea Rising? What do you think? Leave me a comment below!

four-half-stars
Posted in book reviews

The Balance of Heaven and Earth by Laurence Westwood

The Balance of Heaven and Earth by Laurence WestwoodThe Balance of Heaven and Earth by Laurence Westwood
Published by Shikra Press Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 277
Source: the author
Goodreads
four-half-stars

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

Synopsis

I have been unable to write a judgement that does not seem to offend my conscience, or indeed Heaven, in some manner. Because I do not wish to influence your thinking unduly, I have destroyed all my personal papers and notes in regard to this dispute, preferring you to start afresh. Forgive me for this. All I ask is that you consider and examine Jade Moon most carefully before coming to a decision. I find her fascinating and unsettling in equal measure, and fear the consequences of a wrongful judgement. I will say no more.

My sincerest best wishes to you and your family,

Magistrate Qian
Fifth District, Chengdu Prefecture
1st day of the 2nd Moon, 1085

So ends the letter of welcome (and of warning) to Magistrate Zhu, newly arrived in the remote border town of Tranquil Mountain. He has travelled far from his extensive family estates on the outskirts of Kaifeng – the glorious Song Dynasty capital – hoping to find atonement for past mistakes.

Yet he quickly discovers that Tranquil Mountain is anything but tranquil. The town is beset with simmering tensions since the death of his predecessor. Before Magistrate Zhu even has time to accustom himself to his inexperienced and wayward constabulary and the lowliness of his new surroundings, there is a mysterious murder, rumours of ghosts and blood-thirsty bandits out on the streets, and a disturbing kidnapping to solve – as well as the tragic and tangled legal circumstances of the local heroine Jade Moon to unravel.

For the balance of Heaven and Earth to be maintained, and to prevent catastrophe coming to Tranquil Mountain, Magistrate Zhu is well aware that not a single injustice can be allowed to stand. As he struggles to reach the correct judgements, he realises he has no choice but to offer up his career and perhaps even his own life for the greater good. And, in so doing, he discovers that as Jade Moon’s fate rests in his hands, so his fate ultimately rests in hers.

I received this book for free from the author. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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My Thoughts on The Balance of Heaven and Earth:

Where do I begin???

I had no idea what to expect when I began reading this book. I know little about the time period in China during which The Balance of Heaven and Earth takes place, but part of what I LOVE about historical fiction is getting to learn about different places and times through fictionalized accounts of the past.

There was so much that I loved about this book, but the characters are what really pulled me in and had me both laughing and crying! Even the names of people and places made me happy – Jade Moon, Horse, Always Smiling Orphanage – I just loved them!!

The story begins with Jade Moon saving a merchant during an attack by bandits in the marketplace. Jade Moon, normally quiet and mild-mannered, was transformed that day.

But while she may have saved a life, her own life and future is at risk thanks to a deal made by her mother before the time of the marketplace incident. Now, the new magistrate, Magistrate Zhu, must decide the fate of Jade Moon…

Magistrate Zhu was born into wealth and power, when you first meet him it seems as if he doesn’t want to do actual work and is unhappy with his new position as magistrate of Tranquil Mountain. But as his story is revealed and he interacts with all the inhabitants of the town, the Magistrate’s attitudes and actions begin to make sense and he really grows on the people in the town (and the reader of the story, as well)!

And poor Magistrate Zhu! He arrives in what he believes will be a boring town where he’ll be required to do very little. But upon arriving, he finds many demands put upon him other than maintaining the tea trade — there’s been a murder AND the matter of what to do about Jade Moon must be decided!

The Patriarchs, who used to run Tranquil Mountain and provide for the economic stability of the town, fear Magistrate Zhu has come to steal their land and the little authority they have left.

Jade Moon’s situation is made more complicated (at least in the magistrate’s eyes) by the fact that she’s not fully Chinese. Her father was a barbarian, whom she loved fiercely even though her mother despised him. There are those who believe her to be supernatural – a reincarnation of a warrior from long ago!

No one in Tranquil Mountain knows what to think of Magistrate Zhu. They find him odd, though smart, but uncaring about them. Tea is the most important thing to the citizens of the town, but Zhu seems only to care about catching a murderer!

As the story unfolds, Jade Moon’s story is tied up in the Magistrate’s, though it’s not quite clear how, and they don’t even see it themselves. Then there’s a moment near the end of the book where it all comes together and I cried it was so perfect!

I love the theme throughout the book of balance. No one is perfect. All make mistakes, but they don’t have to ruin everything… Still, all decisions have lasting consequences, and every character in The Balance of Heaven and Earth has to deal with their own.

You should know that I have come to believe that injustice is the primary cause of any imbalance between Heaven and Earth. It takes just one innocent man to be punished for a crime he did not commit, or for one guilty man to go undiscovered and to walk abroad in this land unpunished, for suffering to be brought down upon all of us. This is the moral responsibility that has been laid upon our heads, we who have chosen to enforce the law.

Magistrate Zhu, The Balance of Heaven and Earth

You would think that this would be a story with a more serious tone, considering it’s a mystery dealing with a murder and a legal mess left behind by the former magistrate. But The Balance of Heaven and Earth is much more on the humorous side than the serious!

The ending was nothing like what I expected! Normally, when I’m caught off guard by an ending I hate it, but I was pleasantly surprised this time. It was SO much better than I had anticipated it being!

Actually, the ending wasn’t the only thing that surprised me about this book… I’m always a little wary of any story that has so many characters it includes a helpful guide at the beginning. I find that even with the guide, I tend to get confused. (I think Dark Queen Rising was the last story to do that to me.) But I actually never had that problem in The Balance of Heaven and Earth. The characters all have unique personalities and there was never so many characters in one scene together that I couldn’t keep up with who was who, and who was saying what. (I probably wouldn’t even have noticed there were so many characters in the book if the list wasn’t there.)

This is one of those books that isn’t going to be everyone’s favorite cup of tea, but it’s worth reading even if you don’t absolutely love it like I did!!! I definitely recommend this book for anyone that enjoys historical fiction and historical mysteries (especially those set during the time of the Song Dynasty).

What do you think of The Balance of Heaven and Earth? Do you know of similar story I might enjoy? Let me know in the comments below! Thanks and happy reading!!

four-half-stars
Posted in book reviews

When Jesus Answers by Loren Loving

This may be one of the most personally rewarding books I’ve ever had the pleasure of reviewing!

When Jesus Answers by Loren LovingWhen Jesus Answers: Returning to the Healing Mercies of God's Presence by Loren Loving
Published by Boyle & Dalton on January 19, 2018
ISBN: 1633371913
Genres: Christian Non-fiction
Pages: 256
Source: the author
Goodreads
four-half-stars

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

Synopsis

God’s voice is the essential secret to healing and happiness. It is the answer to our every dilemma and despair.

When Jesus Answers will open your heart to hear God speak His words of truth and love so that you can truly live the life you were created to live—within the intimate embrace of His presence. With an engaging collection of personal testimony, Biblical scripture, allegory and powerful songs of hope, Loren Loving clears the path back to our faithful, and most gracious Heavenly Father.

We all need the great news of a Messiah who heals our brokenness and frees us from our bondage. In Him alone we find healing, transformation, and the refuge of eternal peace and love.

I received this book for free from the author. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Buy on AmazonBuy on Book Depository

 

My Thoughts on When Jesus Answers:


The very first story Loren Loving shares in When Jesus Answers had me in tears. My husband and I began reading the book together while we processed the pain of my youngest daughter choosing to move to her dad’s, and the pain of our first foster placement leaving around the same time. Dealing with our own pain and reading Loving’s words was incredibly moving and touched my heart deeply.

By the end of the second chapter, my husband and I were both already recommending When Jesus Answers to almost everyone we talked to. We wanted to share our experience we were having reading and singing our way through the book because it was so encouraging and uplifting for us!

The most unique quality of this book is the way it uses music to connect heart and mind on the healing journey. To be honest, at first, I found it rather odd that as you read through the chapters you come across song suggestions to listen to and sing with. It didn’t take me long though to start looking forward to the next song.

Please know that the journey you are on must include music. You will miss the point, purpose, and effectiveness of this book if you do not also follow its musical path. God said we are to enter into His Presence, fight every battle, and communicate to others with songs about Him.



I only have one real complaint about the book. Most of the songs recommended in the book are supposed to be found on YouTube, where you can pull up the lyrics and sing along.  Unfortunately, there were a couple songs we had a hard time finding and it kinda pulled us out of the headspace we were in while reading.

I would recommend this book for anyone trying to make sense of a painful time in their life, or who might be struggling to see God through all their pain. I’d also recommend it for anyone who’s already made it through to the other side… so I guess I’d really recommend it for anyone!

four-half-stars