Best of 2011 Giveaway Hop (Dec 27-31)

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. 🙂 Thanks for getting those lines stuck in my head, Julie Cross. haha

This year was full of great reads, but only a small collection hit 5/5 stars on my chart. For this giveaway, I’m offering them to you!


Best of 2011 Giveaway Hop (Dec 27 – 31)

Best of 2011The year is quickly coming to an end. It’s time to spotlight my favorite reads of 2011.

The Rules: The giveaway should be for one of the blogger’s favorite reads of 2011. It can be a book that was released in 2011 or a book read in 2011. Alternately bloggers may include a list of favorite 2011 reads for the winner to choose from. Prizes may be provided as a gift card. No erotica (a reminder for me). This blog hop is sponsored by I’m a Reader Not a Writer.

I’ve opted to present a list for my wonder readers. One winner will have the opportunity to choose a book from my favorite reads of the year. All 5 star reads and highly recommended by yours truly.

Prizes (winner’s choice)

Click on image to read my review

As always, entering is easy. :)

  • You’ll earn 1 point for completing the form.
  • An additional point for sharing the giveaway and leave the link (Twitter, Facebook, Blog, Linked, MySpace, etc.). *OPTIONAL*
  • Sign up for my newsletter for an additional 2 points. *OPTIONAL* See special incentive note below.
  • Comments are appreciated, but only entries from the form count.
  • Giveaway ends Saturday, December 31, 2011 at 11:59 PM ET.
  • Please read the giveaway policy for the nitty gritty.

Special note about my newsletter. Starting in January, I’m starting subscriber-only monthly giveaways in addition to the blog giveaways. If you’re already a subscriber, you’re already entered.

Not a subscriber yet? Subscribe to our newsletter here or fill out the form in the sidebar (upper left).

Non-Fiction Review: Am I Really a Christian? by Mike McKinley

I saw this book in one of the newsletters NetGalley sent out. The title immediately grabbed my attention, so I requested a copy which NetGalley approved. My husband used to say I was being judgmental because I didn’t believe everyone who said they’re a Christian will experience the paradise spoke about in the bible. So I was quite curious to read what another had to say on the topic. Before we hit the review, the blurb from Goodreads:

McKinley challenges nominal Christians to take a deeper look at themselves.

Jesus divided the world into two groups—those who follow him and those who don’t. But what happens when someone thinks he or she is a Christian, but isn’t? With his witty, engaging style, Mike McKinley takes readers on a journey of what it means to be a Christian. He asserts that “manipulative evangelism techniques and a poor understanding of the gospel have resulted in an abundance of professing Christians who have no idea what it means to follow Christ.”

Each chapter title begins with “You’re not a Christian [if/when/just because you]…” As he surveys what it means to be Christian, McKinley offers criteria for evaluating one’s standing before God. Readers are guided through a series of challenges to reflect, repent, remember, and report to another person. Am I Really a Christian? ends with chapters on salvation and the local church. This unique book is written for nominal or new Christians and can be used in personal or small-group study.

One thing I want to emphasize is this book is not aimed at non-Christians. It’s not meant to convert the non-believer or convince the non-believer that Christianity is the only way. Instead, it focuses on individuals who claim to be Christian and helps those individuals examine their lives, so they don’t miss the boat.

Much of what Mr. McKinley said, I knew to be true. It’s clearly laid out in the bible. I don’t know who has a ticket and who doesn’t, but I do know the bible says something to the effect of the gate is small and the road is narrow and few will find it. So logically, it makes sense to me that not everyone who boasts to be a Christian is going to find the path. Especially when considering upwards of 60,70, 80% of Americans believe they’re Christians. Who knows the figures in other countries. Few doesn’t equal the majority.

So the question is: if one truly believes the information in the bible, wouldn’t he/she want to be sure to be on the right track rather than one of the many who think they’re walking down the right path, only to find too late they’re on the broad road? Am I Really a Christian? is like stopping and asking for directions. In the end, some might receive a wake up call, but also might find hope and an opportunity to step on the road they’d meant to travel.

I loved that this book doesn’t focus on hells fire and damnation. It doesn’t try to scare folks into becoming a Christian or scare people who claim to be a Christian into behaving right. Instead, it identifies markers which might suggest one is or isn’t a Christian. Not by way of finger pointing, which can be so easy (That person’s not a Christian. That person isn’t. That person is.) No. None of that. It isn’t about whether others want to classify a person as a goat or a sheep. Rather it helps a person examine his/her walk with the help of those in the Christian community.

Even though this is a work tailored toward those who believe they’re Christian, I still think it’s a great read for non-Christians. Why? Because I believe the worldview on Christianity is tainted by those who profess to be Christian but act in non-Christian ways in the name of Christianity. Am I Really a Christian? is truly insightful.

Am I Really a Christian?
by Mike McKinley
is avilable at:

The Book Depository

Barnes & Nobles

Sunday Showcase #11

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve posted a Sunday Showcase. Well, I’ve whittled down some of the reads from Netgalley and thought it might be okay to put in a few requests. And so I did. 🙂 Surprise! They approved me for five more reads…

Okay… five is a little much. I think I’m going to have to double up on reads… two books a week to catch up on some of these Netgalley copies PLUS meet my Goodreads Reading Challenge.

And as folks know, Borders is closing. We don’t have a Borders, but we do have a Walden Books which is a store under it… so they’re having an going out of business sale also. It’s a shame. Last time I went in there (before the big announcement, I mean), I asked the salesclerk about the store staying open. That was around the time Borders was closing a mass of stores to cut costs. She was confident it would since the store pulls in pretty good business. <sigh> I guess the thought of the entire corporation going bankrupt didn’t occur to her.

Well that’s another story. I picked up one book for myself while I was in the area.

The Art of Steampunk seeks to celebrate the world of Steampunk: a world filled with beauty and innovation.  A world in which steam power and technology intertwine to create machines that are not only functional and practical, but unique and striking.  

Inside, you will find the fantastical and stunning artwork of Steampunk artists from around the world.  The 17 artists featured on these pages, among the frontrunners of the Steampunk genre, have had their work displayed at an exhibition at The Museum of History of Science at the University of Oxford, UK and have attracted the media attention of BoingBoing, one of the world’s largest blogs.  Their artwork consists of everything from clocks and watches to light fixtures and jewelry, but every piece demonstrates hours of painstaking work and devotion from its creator.  You will find that the artists themselves are just as unique and colorful as their masterpieces.  Fully embracing Steampunk ideology, many have adopted a Victorian alter ego—a mad scientist persona to match the complicated intricacies of their artwork.

The Art of Steampunk brings the vision of the Steampunk artist alive on the page, providing a unique insight into the captivating and dynamic world of a vastly underground genre.

Why I Picked It up: Lindsay Buroker, I BLAME YOU! That is all. I received this from NetGalley.

Available at: The Book Depository and Barnes & Nobles

McKinley challenges nominal Christians to take a deeper look at themselves.

Jesus divided the world into two groups—those who follow him and those who don’t. But what happens when someone thinks he or she is a Christian, but isn’t? With his witty, engaging style, Mike McKinley takes readers on a journey of what it means to be a Christian. He asserts that “manipulative evangelism techniques and a poor understanding of the gospel have resulted in an abundance of professing Christians who have no idea what it means to follow Christ.” 

Each chapter title begins with “You’re not a Christian [if/when/just because you]…” As he surveys what it means to be Christian, McKinley offers criteria for evaluating one’s standing before God. Readers are guided through a series of challenges to reflect, repent, remember, and report to another person. Am I Really a Christian? ends with chapters on salvation and the local church. This unique book is written for nominal or new Christians and can be used in personal or small-group study.

Why I Picked It up: Mostly because of America. Some statistics show about 75% of Americans believe they’re Christian and have a ticket to heaven. According to the bible, “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:14 (NIV) So I want to see what this guy has to say. I received this from NetGalley.

Available at: The Book Depository and Barnes & Nobles

Two of today’s most popular genres–Romance and Amish fiction–together in one volume.

“Healing Hearts” by Beth Wiseman: Levina Lapp and her husband Naaman are alone for the first time in 30 years. When Naaman left to visit cousins in Ohio, Levina wasn’t expecting him to be gone a year. Now that he’s back, will they be able to move beyond this estrangement and fall in love again?

“What the Heart Sees” by Kathleen Fuller: A tragic accident rocks a peaceful Amish community, leaving Ellie Chupp blinded and Christopher Bender’s future shattered. But they find love and forgiveness in a place they least expect.

“A Marriage of the Heart” by Kelly Long: Rachel Yoder is tired of her Amish lifestyle and her domineering father’s ways. When handsome Joseph Lambert comes back from the Englisch, she lies to force a marriage of convenience, providing the perfect means to escape her father’s rule. But Rachel never imagined she’d fall in love with Joseph so quickly or irrevocably.

Why I Picked It up: After my first and only Amish read, The Promise of an Angel by Ruth Reid (see review here), I’m on an Amish kick. I received this from NetGalley.

Available at: The Book Depository and Barnes & Nobles

When 28–year–old Emma Donahoe becomes a nanny to John Chen’s daughter, Simone, she does not expect to be drawn into a world of martial arts, magic, and extreme danger, where both gods and demons can exist in the mortal world.

Emma gradually realises that John Chen is no ordinary businessman and that nearly all the demons in hell would like to see him dead. John and his American bodyguard, Leo, begin to teach Emma their particular brand of martial arts and special defensive techniques … they also begin to realise that there is something that is different about Emma but exactly what it is, nobody can say.

A fabulous, fast–paced and very entertaining fantasy adventure … a trilogy based on Chinese mythology, set in modern–day Hong Kong, where an ancient god falls in love with a young Australian woman …

Why I Picked It up: Okay. Here’s the thing. I don’t read too many Asian book, and this one looks freakin’ cool. So that’s the first thing. next, I saw on Goodreads that the reviews are pretty decent. I’m sold and can’t wait to get to this goodie. I received this from NetGalley.

Available at: The Book Depository and Barnes & Nobles

Although proud of living apart from the world, Marianna Sommer’s newly relocated Amish family is discovering that life in the remote mountains of Montana requires working together with the Englisch. As Marianna pours her life into helping those around her-and receiving their help-her heart further considers two directions. She’s torn between the Amish man from Indiana whom she has long planned on marrying and the friendly Englischer who models a close walk with God like she’s never seen before.

Who should have young Marianna’s heart? What is God asking of her through ongoing family struggles and this romantic and spiritual tension? The answer is found along the wooded paths.

Why I Picked It up: Stuck on Amish. So here we have, two more Amish stories. Let’s see if this genre will become my new love. 🙂 I received this from NetGalley.

Available at: The Book Depository and Barnes & Nobles

For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. She’s never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how much her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her…until Patch comes along.

With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment, but after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora’s not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is, and to know more about her than her closest friends. She can’t decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is far more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.

For Nora is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen – and when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost her life.

Why I Picked It up: This one has been on my reading list for ALONG time. It just never made my purchase list. Well, the Walden going out of business sale reduced the price on this baby. I picked up the Hardback for less than $4.

Available at: The Book Depository and Barnes & Nobles

So that’s what I’ve received these past few weeks. I have got to get some major reading done. I think I’m 4 books behind on my 2011 Goodreads Reading Challenge.

In Other News

If you haven’t picked up I Loved You First, what are you waiting for? Use it for your next, In Your Mailbox Meme! I released it yesterday, and it’s available at Barnes & Nobles,Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon DE, and Smashwords. One thing I will mention, it’s on sale at Amazon for $0.99 for this week only. If you don’t have a Kindle, great news. For the same week, it’s on sale at Smashwords IF you use the coupon below:

Promotional price: $0.99
Coupon Code: FA89H
Expires: August 5, 2011

Add I Loved You First to your Goodreads List.