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Title: Code Name Verity
Author: Elizabeth Wein
Genre: WW2
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 452
Date read: July, 2012

Oct. 11th, 1943 - A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it's barely begun.

When "Verity" is arrested by the Gestapo, she's sure she doesn't stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she's living a spy's worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.

As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage and failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?

I knew nothing about this book when I started it, so I had no idea what to expect, and even so it managed to surprise me. It started out as a fairly average WW2 spy novel (somewhat similar to Connie Willis' books in writing style, actually), but quickly changed into something very much out of the ordinary.

It is very, VERY slow to start, and I actually considered giving up on it once or twice, but I'm glad I stuck with it, because it definitely becomes worth it, and I think I read the last 50% in one or two sittings.

Not at all the book I had thought it would be, but very interesting and very thoughtprovoking.

I wish I owned the book as a book-book though, and not just as an e-book, because certain events in the second half of the book made me want to flip through the first half again, to pick up clues. And that's just not as easily done in an ebook!
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Title: The Key and the Fountain
Author: John Pinkey
Genre: Childrens
Rating: 3.5/5
# pages: 98
Date read: July, 2012

Who were the young people whose voices Robin could hear, coming from a locked room in her aunt's ramshackle mansion? Why did the old crumbling ball she found in the latticework of the summerhouse stir such a rush of memories? And what possible explanation could there be for the astonishing photograph she saw in the library? Or for the letter that had been written and forgotten, and written again, a thousand times?

The beginning of the answers to Robin's questions lies in an ornate moonlit fountain at the bottom of the garden

Very charming story for kids. Most of all it seemed like an Australian version of "The Secret Garden" with a bit of magic tossed in for good measure. I think I would most possibly have adored it if I had read it as a kid. As it was, I was definitely taken in by its charm, but did find the ending a tiny bit lacking.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Free-Range Knitter
Author: Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
Genre: Essay
Rating: 4.5/5
# pages: 228
Date read: July 2012, July 2013

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee returns to pen another hilarious and poignant collection of essays surrounding her favorite topics: knitting, knitters, and what happens when you get those two things anywhere near ordinary people.

For the 60 million knitters in America, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (a.k.a. the Yarn Harlot) shares stories of knitting horrors and triumphs, knitting successes and defeats, but, mostly, stories about the human condition that ring true for everyone--especially if you happen to have a rather large amount of yarn in your house.

I loved this essay collection :) It's the first book I've read by the Yarn Harlot (although I've read some of her blog), but it definitely won't be the last. I've only knitted "for real" for two years, but already I could see far too much of myself in it, and she gave me a lot of new ideas for how to 'knit on the go'.

It's a cozy read whose only fault was that it kept making me want to put down my Kindle and pick up my knitting instead.
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Title: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Author: Deborah Moggach
Genre: Cultural
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 281
Date read: July 2012

When Ravi Kapoor, an over-worked London doctor, is driven beyond endurance by his obnoxious father-in-law, he asks his wife: 'Can't we just send him away somewhere? Somewhere far, far away.' His prayer seems to have been answered when his entrepreneurial cousin, Sonny, sets up a retirement home, recreating a lost corner of England in a converted guesthouse in Bangalore. Travel and set-up are inexpensive, staff willing and plentiful - and the British pensioners can enjoy the hot weather and take mango juice with their gin.

I went to see the movie, "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel", not knowing that it was based on a book (although originally published as "These Foolish Things"). Upon discovering that it was, of course I had to find and read the book as well.

I'm glad I did :) Though I think I may actually have preferred the movie, the book was pleasantly charming as well. I especially liked Evelyn (who was also my favourite in the movie) and Dorothy.
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Title: Fifty Shades of Grey
Author: E.L. James
Genre: Horror... at least, it's a horror how bad this was!
Rating: 0.5/5
# pages: 514
Date read: July 2012

This is not my typical review... just a warning... Bad books tend to make me verbose.

I'd actually pretty much managed to miss most of the controversy surrounding 50SoG when I first picked it up (because I've been living under a rock apparently) but a friend recommended it to me and as I generally like the same books as this friend, I thought I would give it a shot... Now I wonder what I ever did to her to deserve this...

Let me make it clear - I do not, as a rule, mind books that were originally fanfics. Some fanfic takes place in alternative universes, and work perfectly well as books in their own right. Some of these have fantastic writing, and deserve to be published as original fiction.

This is not one of those books.

This book is quite possibly the worst book I have EVER read. It even surpasses The Christmas Wish by Karen Farrell Jaworski, something I would never have thought possible. In fact, the only reason I finished it was so that I could get to write this scathing review since some of you have said I'm too nice in my reviews and never pick books apart. Don't say I don't make any sacrifices for you ;-)

To those of you who have been living together with me under that rock, 50SoG is a very, very poorly disguised Twilight fanfic which takes all the worst aspects of Twilight as seen by Twilight-haters, magnify them beyond recognition, and put them back together in this alleged "homeage" to Twilight. Yes, that's right. An avowed Twilight fan has done more damage to the reputation of the series than all the arguments from all the rabid haters I've ever read. I never found Edward and Bella's relationship abusive in any way, and I hate the way it's being sullied by this comparison to Christian and Ana. *shudder*.

Seriously, I'm reading this book so you won't have to. Do yourself a favour and trust me on this. You do NOT want to read this book. Don't let my sacrifice have been in vain. I can't BELIEVE this drivel is being made into a movie!

Ana is ridiculously naive and "innocent" to the point of being completely unbelievable. She's a 21-year-old with the sexual maturity of a young 12-year-old, and has managed to complete college without owning or even having access to a computer, and without having an email address!!! Yes, you read that right. And this is a contemporary book we're talking about, so we're talking the 21st century... Not the early 1990s. Okay, I know I was an early adapter, but I've had my own email address since I was 13 and stopped sharing Dad's...

Oh, but despite not having a computer, she does have an iPod... make of that what you will...

Ana hates everything and everybody - up to and including her roommate and presumably best friend, and of course herself. She's got a wet noodle for a spine, yet claims that she'd "never do anything she didn't want to"... Except that's basically her trademark throughout this book. Ah, but "thing she doesn't want to do" becomes "thing she wants to do" when Christian offers sex... Or even just sexy talk... as a reward. She knows Christian uses sex as a weapon... yet she still agrees.

Christian is abusive in the worst way. He's a master manipulator and manages to make Ana second guess herself by being cool and stand-off'ish when she voices her pefectly reasonable doubts and apprehensions. But of course this is HER fault and not his, because he's so worldly and experienced, and she hasn't even ever held hands with anybody. He's seriously bad news, and if this turns out to be one of those books where "a bad boy just needs love to be reformed" I think I may just scream. I'm not even sure I'm old enough to be reading this, and there is no WAY I'd allow any teenage daughter of mine to be reading it. Not even so much because of the sex (which is actually fairly tame - at least compared to what I had expected), but because I do NOT want her to think that neither Ana nor Christian's behaviour is in any way, shape or form acceptable or healthy.

I mean... just check out this quote: "I am so not backing down on this. No one is going to dictate to me what I heat. How I f*ck, yes, but eat... no, no way.
Does anybody else see how absolutely and completely FUBAR this is? And that's just one example. I can provide more:
... As Ana considers whether or not she wants to sign the contract, she's upset by the lack of relationship. Then that night she has a sex dream about Christian, and suddenly it's all honkey-dorey.
... Stalking is bad... unless it results in the person being stalked getting good childed champagne, then it's A-OK.

Seriously, Christian is MESSED UP! He's a creepy, manipulative, abusive (mentally and physically both) stalker! And he is the Prince CHarming we're supposed to sigh after? That is the scariest, most harmful, most messed up thing I've ever seen an author do. She's actually presenting herself as a spokesperson for abusive relationships. Yeah, that'll help people get out of them sooner.

Oh, and if you have any qualms at all about reading erotica, stay far, far, FAR away from this book! I don't mind erotica when sex futhers the plot, but when the plot is just an excuse for sex, I'd just rather not. Parts of this made me feel like bleaching my eyes.

This is one time where I'm happy to say that I read an illegally downloaded copy of this book. I would have hated for EJ to get any kind of monitary benefit out of my reading this drivel. Even getting it out of the library would have been too good for it. I'm appalled that Stephanie Meyer didn't get out all her laywers to go after her.

I will admit it wasn't all bad - I'm not enough of a masochist to suffer through 514 pages with out some sort of pay-off. There are some sweet moments between Ana and Christian - especially later on in the book where the sex started being less gratuitous and they actually started TALKING! Character development - who'd have thought it was actually necessary! Those scenes were few and far between unfortunately. And of COURSE the book ended with a cliff-hanger of the worst sort, so now I'm even more annoyed with the book, because I want to know what happens next, but am not sure I can stomach another 500+ pages of this crap...
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Title: The Stolen Child
Author: Keith Donohue
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 3/5
# pages: 327
Date read: July, 2012

The double story of Henry Day begins in 1949, when he is kidnapped at age seven by a band of wild childlike beings who live in an ancient, secret community in the forest. The changelings rename their captive Aniday and he becomes, like them, unaging and stuck in time. They leave one of their own to take his place, an imposter who must try - with varying success - to hide his true identity from the Day family. As the changeling Henry grows up, he is haunted by glimpses of his lost double and by vague memories of his own childhood a century earlier. Narrated in turns by Henry and Aniday, The Stolen Child follows them as their lives converge, driven by their obsessive search for who they were before they changed places in the world.

I've had this standing on my tbr-shelves for ages, and finally got around to reading it. Unfortunately it wasn't quite as good as I had expected, although still good enough to hold my attention nicely the few days it took me to finish it.

The book is really two intertwining stories, with every second chapter being told by "Henry Day" and every second chapter by "Aniday". Unfortunately I found Henry Day's story a LOT more interesting than that of Aniday, which made for a bit of a sledge through the other chapters. My biggest problem was that it was so depressing! No real happiness was found by neither Henry nor Aniday and it just made the entire thing seem... pointless, really.

Fortunately the book ended on an optimistic note, which caused me to add that last star, but as a whole, I don't think it's a book I'll be in any rush to reread.
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Title: Welcome to Rosie Hopkins' Sweetshop of Dreams
Author: Jenny Colgan
Genre: Chick-lit
Rating: 4.5/5
# pages: 465
Date read: July, 2012

Were you a sherbet lemon or chocolate lime fan? Soft chewy ones or hard boiled sweeties (you do get more for your money that way)? The jangle of your pocket money . . . the rustle of the pink and green striped paper bag . . .

Rosie Hopkins thinks leaving her busy London life, and her boyfriend Gerard, to sort out her elderly Aunt Lilian s sweetshop in a small country village is going to be dull. Boy, is she wrong.

Lilian Hopkins has spent her life running Lipton s sweetshop, through wartime and family feuds. As she struggles with the idea that it might finally be time to settle up, she also wrestles with the secret history hidden behind the jars of beautifully coloured sweets.

"Friday Night Knitting Club" only with a sweetshop. It's utterly charming and made me want to rush out to see if I could find one of the old-fashioned sweetshops around here. I was glad to have a box of filled chocolates to eat while reading it though.

I fell in love with the village and the people in it. Lillian and Moray especially. It's a delightful and cozy tale that doesn't require much of the reader, but still provides a very satisfying read.

I'll definitely be checking out more of Jenny Colgan's work.
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Title: Among the Free
Author: Margaret Peterson Haddix
Genre: YA, Dystopian
Rating: 3/5
# pages:
Date read: July, 2012

Luke Garner is a third-born in a restrictive society that allows only two children per family. Risking his life, he came out of hiding to fight against the Population Police laws. Now, in the final volume of Margaret Peterson Haddix's suspenseful Shadow Children series, Luke inadvertently sets off a rebellion that results in the overthrow of the government. The people are finally free. But who is in charge now? And will this new freedom be everything they had hoped?

As the final book in the series, it was actually a bit of a let-down. Everything seemed to happen so swiftly, with no real rhyme or reason. It seemed as if Ms. Haddix knew she needed a resolution of some kind, but couldn't figure out how to make it happen. Rather disappointing, after having waited 7 books for this.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Knit One, Pearl One
Author: Gil McNeil
Genre: Chick-lit
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 396
Date read: July 2012, April 2014

It's been a busy few years since Jo Mackenzie lost her husband. Life has brought adventure, surprises, unexpected pleasures and, of course, lots of knitting.

Jo's seaside yarn shop, with a brand-new cafe, has taken off, keeping her busier than ever. And being a single mum to two boys and a headstrong toddler, Pearl, is just as exhausting and enchanting as she thought it would be. On top of all that, celebrity diva Grace has a secret, Jo's firecracker best friend, Ellen, is launching a new television series, and lovable but hapless Martin continues his oft-misguided attempts to woo Jo. Just when Jo thinks she has about all she can handle, Daniel, Pearl's globe-trotting dad, turns up out of the blue...

With a little help from her friends and her beloved Gran, Jo is building a new life for herself by the sea, stitch by stitch.

I do hope Gil McNeil is planing more books in this series. It's comfort reading of the best kind. You really grow to love the characters with all their quirkiness.

I liked seeing a resolution with Daniel, and adored Pearl - she's a perfect description of a two-year-old with all their charms and horrors ;)

I wish I had a yarnshop like McKnit nearby!
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Title: Among the Enemy
Author: Margaret Peterson Haddix
Genre: Dystopian, YA
Rating: 3/5
# pages: 240
Date read: July, 2012

Matthias, an illegal third child, is caught in the cross fire between rebels and the Population Police. When he unwittingly saves a Population Police officer, Matthias is brought to Population Police headquarters to train as an officer himself. There he meets Nina, another third-born who enlists his help in a plot to undermine the Population Police. But Matthias is under constant scrutiny, and he has no idea whom he can trust. What can one boy do against a wicked bureaucracy?

It gets tricky trying to find new things to write about this series. Still good, still entertaining, but the plot is getting thinner and thinner... Probably a good thing that the next is the last.

Lee/Luke was mentioned all of twice in this book! I missed him :(
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Title: Gregor the Overlander
Author: Suzanne Collins
Genre: Fantasy, Childrens
Rating: 4/5
# pages: Audiobook ~6.5hrs
Date read: July, 2012

When eleven-year-old Gregor follows his little sister through a grate in the laundry room of their New York apartment, he hurtles into the dark Underland beneath the city. There, humans live uneasily beside giant spiders, bats, cockroaches, and rats) but the fragile peace is about to fall apart.

Gregor wants no part of a conflict between these creepy creatures. He just wants to find his way home. But when he discovers that a strange prophecy foretells a role for him in the Underland's uncertain future, he realizes it might be the only way to solve the biggest mystery of his life. Little does he know his quest will change him and the Underland forever.

Very sweet story about a boy on an unusual quest to find his father. It was a fun 'read', and the narrator (Paul Boehmer) did an excellent job reading it. I fell completely in love with Boots and loved seeing her interact with the various characters of the Underland. She was absolutely adorable :)

The plot itself isn't anything out of the ordinary, but it's well-written and entertaining.
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Title: Among the Brave
Author: Margaret Peterson Haddix
Genre: YA, Dystopian
Rating: 3.5/5
# pages: 240
Date read: July, 2012

Trey may have saved Luke's life, but he still thinks of himself as a coward who can barely stand to be outdoors. Now Trey finds out Luke has been taken prisoner at Population Police headquarters. Trey is terrified, but he knows that if he doesn't rescue his friend, no one will.

At police headquarters, Trey impersonates an officer to try getting to Luke. But just when it looks like he's close, Trey suddenly finds himself in danger of exposing not just himself but all shadow children.

Gotta say that even though I prefer the books where Luke/Lee is the main character, Trey is growing on me. He showed real character development in this one. Glad Mr. Talbot's back - I liked him.
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Title: Among the Barons
Author: Margaret Peterson Haddix
Genre: YA, Dystopian
Rating: 3.5/5
# pages: 208
Date read: July 2012

Luke Garner, an illegal third child, spent his first twelve years in hiding. For the past four months Luke has lived among others, using the identity of Lee Grant, at the Hendricks School for Boys. But just as things are finally starting to go right, Lee's little brother Smits arrives at the school and Luke finds himself caught in a tangle of lies that gets more complex with every passing day.
Can Luke trust Smits to keep his secret? And can he trust Smits's menacing, fat bodyguard, Oscar who carrys a sledge hammer?

It took a long time for the story to take off, and so I wasn't too impressed with most of this book. But then came the ending... and I just adored the ending. Smit's a good kid. Can't wait to see what happens next.
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Title: Among the Betrayed
Author: Margaret Peterson Haddix
Genre: Dystopian, YA
Rating: 3/5
# pages: 160
Date read: July 2012

Nina Idi was arrested for treason for supposedly trying to trick the Population Police into arresting other students she said were illegal third children. Now she faces torture or death -- unless she agrees to betray three other imprisoned third children. Her dilemma intensifies when she meets the prisoners -- who are only ten, nine, and six.

This had rather a surprising start. At least, I hadn't seen it coming, but then how could I? Anyway, still good, but not quite as fascinating as the two first. I don't know if that's because I just like Luke/Lee better than Nina or because the world building is mostly over now.
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Title: Among the Imposters
Author: Margaret Peterson Haddix
Genre: Dystopian, YA
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 172
Date read: July, 2012

Luke Garner is terrified.

Out of hiding for the first time in his life, he knows that any minute one of his new classmates at Hendricks School for Boys could discover his secret: that he's a third child passing as the recently deceased Lee Grant. And in a society where it's illegal for families to have more than two children, being a third child means certain death at the hands of the dreaded Population Police.

His first experience outside the safety of his home is bewildering. There's not a single window anywhere in the school; Luke can't tell his classmates apart (even as they subject him to brutal hazing); and the teachers seem oblivious to it all.

Desperate to fit in, Luke endures the confusion and teasing until he discovers an unlocked door to the outside, and a chance to understand what is really going on. But to take this chance -- to find out the secrets of Hendricks -- Luke will need to put aside his fears and discover a courage that a lifetime in hiding couldn't thwart.

[livejournal.com profile] lizziey told me that I had been wrongly informed and that Shadow Children indeed is one series rather than a bunch of companion novels. Naturally I couldn't let that pass without consequence, so I immediately picked up the second book in the series.

I'd have to say it was just as good as the first one. The universe is still being built, as Luke/Lee is getting used to life outside his family home. Somehow I didn't find it quite as dark as the first, but I think Jen had a lot to do with that.

Again a quick read, so I'll probably stick with the series until the books start to get too boring or repetitive.
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Title: The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Decked Out
Author: Neta Jackson
Genre: Christian fiction
Rating: 5/5
# pages: 215
Date read: October 2008, July 2009, July 2012

Summary: Turkey dinners, tree trimming, and decking the halls - it's that time of year again! And I, Jodi Baxter, can't wait to celebrate. My kids are coming home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and then all of us Yadas are getting decked out for a big New Year's party.

But God's idea of "decked out" might just change the nature of our party plans. A perplexing encounter with a former student, a crime that literally knocks me off my feet, a hurry-up wedding, and a child who will forever change our family... it's times like these that I really need my prayers sisters.

This holiday season, we Yada Yadas are learning that no one can out-celebrate God. So let's get this party started!

Review: Taking place two years after book 6, everybody has grown up some in this book. I missed reading as much about Amanda, but on the other hand loved the Josh plot-line! I'm going to miss these characters.

A truly wonderful series, that's touched my heart.

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Title: The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Rolling
Author: Neta Jackson
Genre: Christian fiction
Rating: 10/10
# pages: 395
Date read: October 2008, July 2009, July 2012

Summary: A devastating fire wakes up the Yadas to a new reality: God is on the move.

What I'd like to know is, why does God keep rearranging my comfort zone? It could have something to do with my Yada Yada prayer sisters, who aren't afraid to get in each other's faces and tend to expect big things from God.

But to move forward, sometimes we have to let go of what's behind. In spite of the loss of two dear friends. In spite of the breakup of a teenage love. In spite of the curse of HIV. In spite of prison time hanging over the head of a beloved child. In spite of fire consuming the hopes of those who have nothing.

Yet out of the ashes, God is doing a new thing! It's time for the Yadas to press on, pray on, and get rolling!

Review: Wow... that was some ride. I'm still wiping the tears off my face from the last few chapters. Good tears though. It wasn't sad, just incredibly moving.

I'm sad there are only 7 books in this series, because they are just incredible. I pray I can learn to pray like Jodi and her Yada Yada sisters... and I wouldn't mind hearing that still small voice as clearly either.

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Title: The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Caught
Author: Neta Jackson
Genre: Christian fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
# pages: 401
Date read: October 2008, June 2009, July 2012

Summary: For the Yada prayer sisters, gettin' caught up in troubles isn't the problem; it's how to get free.

Ruth and Ben are caught up in an unplanned pregnancy-in their fifties! Chanda is deluded by the glitter of her lottery dream come true. Florida wants to move her family, hoping to leave trouble behind, but it looks like it may catch up with her anyway. Avis is torn between honoring her new husband and helping her abused adult daughter, who keeps running home to Mama.

If there's an upside, it's that all this trouble reveals the subtle lies the Yadas believe about God, themselves, each other, and life.

Review: Two Yada Yada books read in as many days. Somehow this does not surprise me one bit. I think "Gets Caught" is the weakest of the 5 I've read so far, but that just means it's a little less fantastic than the others. I still loved it, and know I'll be spending the next several days 'trapped' in the atmosphere and wanting to get hold of the last two books.

Neta Jackson makes me feel like I know these people, and that I'm right there next to them. Can't wait to see what happens with Edesa and Josh, and I hope the lessons Jodie learns will stick with me too.

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Title: The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Tough
Author: Neta Jackson
Genre: Christian fiction
Rating: 5/5
# pages: 366
Date read: October 2008, June 2009, July 2012

Summary: The Yada Yadas have grown close in the past year, but they're about to learn the real meaning of togetherness.

With a wedding, an early parole, and two baptisms in the lake, everything is feeling pretty great. But without warning, lots of little things become big problems. When a white supremacy hate group targets a local university, the group's own diversity almost becomes a liability. A vicious attack on Noni's husband forces the Yadas to get tough-and fight back together.

Review: It gets difficult finding new things to say about this series, because each book is 'more of the same' - but in a good way! It touches me, it moves me, it makes me laugh, it makes me cry, and most importantly - it challenges me. I need to take a page from these books and get my prayerlife up to snuff.

I liked how this book had everybody involved - not just the Yadas, but their families as well. Josh is growing up to be an amazing guy, and I look forward to reading more about him in the next books. I'm looking foward to seeing more of Becky's growth as well.

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Title: The Yada-Yada Prayer Group Gets Real (Book 3)
Author: Neta Jackson
Genre: Christian fiction
Rating: 5/5
# pages: 422
Date read: August 2008, June 2009, July 2012


Summary: Book Three finds Jodi Baxtor's oasis turned upside down when her upstairs neighbors move out and her nemesis, Leslie (Stu) Stuart, moves in! Avis' middle aged cocoon is turned inside out, too, by a beau from her past, and Chanda's future has never looked brighter. But Stu's proximity to the Baxter household will draw her secret to the surface... and no one is ready for the crisis that will follow or the question the group will have to face: Just how far does forgiveness go when it requires investing your life in the forgiven one?

Review: Just as powerful as the first book in the series, this one really spoke to my heart and thus blew me away. The all-encompassing subject here is God is gracious, but that sometimes we need a swift kick in the behind to realize we need His grace. A powerful message, yet Neta Jackson manages to get it across without preaching at her readers. I'd challenge anybody to read it and walk away unmoved.

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