Friday, December 30, 2011

The Resignation of Eve

As I began reading the book, I got angry. I disagreed with the premise to the book. However, as I continued to read, I was challenged. The author asked the reader to ponder how you got to your beliefs about the role of women in the church instead of trying to defend these beliefs. So I continued to read and was challenged.

I'm not sure I understand the argument that women are not allowed to lead in church. In a Barna survey quoted on page 136, 81% of women agree that their church provides women with the same degree of leadership opportunities that Jesus would give them. So the majority women believe that the church does reflect the teachings of Jesus in regard to the roles women play in the church.

Another theme that Henderson repeats throughout the book is that pastors are threatened by women with the gift of leadership and often prevent women from using that gift in a leadership role. I wonder how many of these pastors would be threatened by men in the church trying to exert their gift of leadership in a way that challenges the pastor's authority. A pastor, as the shepherd to a flock, has to be protective and careful with anyone who wants to challenge authority.

The premise is flawed that "women today are not given access to day to as much influence as they're capable of in the church" (p. xx). Women are given access to every level within the church. So I am left to wonder, are women really leaving the church in large numbers as the book purports?

Tyndale House has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for this review which I freely give.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Color of Rain

This is more than just a story about how 2 families became one. This is a book about loving and losing and loving again. It is about not about just surviving a tragedy but learning how to thrive.

Two people, two families, experienced tragedy like no one should have to experience. Both families lost a parent to cancer and were forced to move on with life with an emptiness that would never be filled. As these two families connected, they learn to move on and to accept their new lives as they embrace their shared sorrows and shared joys. Their story is sad yet happy, tragic yet inspiring. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has experience any kind of tragedy in their lives.

The one take away from this book is the description of the different kinds of people who try to help these families. Gina describes 4 type of people who help:

1. Nikes - Those who don't offer help, they just do it. They do without asking and seem to know what lines not to cross.
2. Thingtimes - Those who offer to help anytime and anywhere but really are not sure what to do.
3. Snailer - Those who seen encouragement via mail or email building up with words of affirmation.
4. Mirror People - Those who when looking at you only see themselves and seem to turn all conversations back to themselves.

Having had friends and family members experience tragedy, this description helps me to help those I love.

Zondervan has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for this review which I freely give.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Miracles are for Real

With proof and truth, James L. Garlow and Keith Wall establish that miracles are for real. Some may doubt or refuse to believe, but miracles do exist today. The many stories presented in the book are inspiring and amazing.

Stories of modern day miracles are sprinkled throughout the book as the authors define what is truly a miracle and then prove that miracles do exist today. I have never doubted that miracles occur today, but this book gave me more reason to seek God and be willing to pray for miracles in my own life.

This book is a great complement to Heaven is for Real.

Bethany House has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for my review which I freely give.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Why Men Hate Going to Church

I was not planning on reading this book for good reason....I am a woman. I did not think I would get much out of this book, but I was wrong. That's right, I admit that I was wrong.

My husband is the one who wanted to read this book, and he says that he can relate to what the book said. So I got it for him, but when I read it, I was amazed. It is not a surprise that the modern day church is suffering because it does not meet the needs of men. I so appreciate the insight as to why men do not like going to church. As I read I realized that so much of it I see weekly in my local church. I now understand why the modern church is just not meeting the needs of men.

I was starting to lose hope as I was reading until I reached Part 3, "Calling the Church Back to Men." There is hope, and there are simple ideas and easy to employ strategies to meet the needs of men in the church. It does not require a big budget and radical changes. Instead, there are simple, easy, and inexpensive ways to make church more inviting to men.

I am so glad that I read this book and know that everyone (male and female) who reads this book will be encouraged to be a part of the kingdom of God.



Thomas Nelson has provided me a free copy of this ebook in exchange for this review which I freely give. I wish I had a print copy of this book because there are so many people I know who would like to read this book. I guess they will just have to buy their own copy.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Bittersweet Surreneder

This book was an easy and enjoyable read; however, I was tempted to indulge in some good chocolate while reading the first few chapters. Like the protagonist, I could stand to lose a few pounds but would have a hard time giving up chocolate to do it.

The story was simple and the cast of characters likable. All the characters were flawed and were forced to deal with their issues at some point in the story. The biggest issue was being honest with each other. After a while, it felt like an episdoe of Three's Company, where one person knew something about the other person but would not tell the other person only to complicate matters. Toward the end of the book, I was frustrated waiting for the characters to start revealing these truths. They finally did, but it seemed like the author wrote an extra 50 pages to draw out the story needlessly.



I did like the nod to Smitten, Vermont, the town and title of a recent book Diann Hunt co-wrote with Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, and Denise Hunter. Spring Creek, the setting for this book, is then next town over from Smitten.

Thomas Nelson has provided me a free copy of this ebook in exchange for my review which I freely give.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Angel in My Room



This was more of a short story than a book. It was a quick read about one woman's experience after losing a baby. Her story is compelling and moving, but I would not say it was well written.

Lillie's faith deepens as she overcomes the loss of her baby. Her life is transformed and her belief in God is strengthened. So much is summarized in this story that I am left to wonder, How did that happen? Lillie learns to accept God's forgiveness, but how? She discovers that she needs to meditate on God's Word, but how? Lillie moves on with her life, but again, how? Too much is left unsaid.

Another thing that bothered me about the book was the mention of the angel in her room. This is the title of the book, but it is only mentioned in a small part of her book. She writes that her baby in the form of an angel appeared to her in her hospital room. There is no mention of the possible side-effects to the heavy dose of painkillers she was on or the unbiblical description of a baby with wings. Angels are described as heavenly beings, not as babies with wings. That cherubic depiction is man made. This makes me question the authenticity of the angel Lillie saw.

This is a simple story about one woman's experience. I would recommend Heaven is for Real for a better depiction of angels and heaven.


Thomas Nelson has provided me a free copy of this WestBow publication in exchange for this review which I freely give.

Smitten



Growing up in New England, I can envision a town like Smitten, Vermont, with its small town charm and outdoor adventures. I can also relate the struggles and dilemmas of the heroines, Natalie, Julia, Shelby, and Reese.

It was neat how the book was written in 4 parts by 4 different authors. Each author wrote about one of the heroines and their corresponding love story where each one finds true love in this small town of Smitten. Thsse stories are intertwined throughout the book and are written in chronological order.

I was not impressed with the repeatative story pattern. Every story followed the same pattern where a woman falls in love with a man who was already a friend and then they realize that they are in love. The redundancy prevented me from being truly smitten with this book. Otherwise, it was a light and easy read.


Thomas Nelson has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for my review which I freely give.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Longing

I cannot say that I am disappointed because this book is what I expected. More of the same without any real progression of the storyline or of the character development of Bailey, Brandon, or Cody. Nothing really happens in this book. There is no conflict or climax, It felt more like an intermission between the first 2 books in this series, and the final installment which will be published in 4 months.

Bailey is once again living a charmed life as a Broadway actress with a Hollywood heart-throb as her boyfriend. This is the same storyline as Learning and the story continues with Bailey having to get over her relationship with Cody to move on with her life.

I have been reading this series from the beginning, and I am not talking about Leaving, but about the very beginning with Redemption the very first book in this series. Longing is the 21st book in this series and could not be read as a stand alone.

The book is easy to read and well written, just more of the same story as previous books without any real change.


Zondervan has provided me a free copy of this book for my review which I freely give.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Love and War

If there was one book this year that I would recommend to all my friends and family to read, it would be this book. Even those who are not married would benefit from reading Love and War as it is about relationships.

No one told me about the risk I was taking when I choose to get married. It is a risky endeavor. The odds of staying together are against us. There will be attacks on our marriage. In some ways, I wish someone had told me this when I first got married. Maybe someone tried, but I was just too doe-eyed to really comprehend what I was doing. Now I look like a deer in the headlights when I think about marriage. I am grateful for John and Stasi Eldredge who seek to tell the truth, the brutal and honest truth about marriage, and it is not all candy and roses.

Here is just a few pieces of wisdom from Love and War:
The Bible begins and ends with a wedding.
Marriage is hard.
Once you get married, you both need friends.
God uses marriage to transform us.
You can't look for God's favor in your work while your marriage is a travesty.

Like I said, you have to read this book. It will open your eyes to why marriage is so hard and why being in a relationship requires more our of you than you even thought you had to give.


I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Journey to Christmas

I thought I would enjoy watching this DVD as I prepare for the holiday season. It would be a great way to remember who really is the focus of Christmas and why we celebrate this holiday, i.e. holy day.

The 4-part series follows the pilgrimage of 5 people who get to see the holy land for the first time during the Christmas season including a visit to Bethlehem on Christmas Eve. The viewer gets to live vicariously through Nazreth, Drew, Dusty May, Kim, and Rory as they experience this journey. These people get to see, touch, hear, taste, and feel what it was like to live during the time of Jesus, and we, the viewer, get to follow their journey.

These 5 people represent a cross-section of our current culture and their backgrounds are different as is their faith. Nazreth, Dusty May, and Kim all have a faith in Christ but each have a different perspective of how God is involved in their lives. Drew is struggling with what he believes saying that he is at a crisis of faith. Rory is an agnostic whose father was disowned by his Jewish family when he married a non-Jewish girl.

The questioned posed throughout the series is, "Is there more to Christmas?" At the end of the series, I wondered, "Is there more to this video?" There was no life-changing event for Nazreth, Dusty May, and Kim who went home from Israel with a continued faith in God. This was not true for the men of the group. Throughout the series, Drew and Rory are grappling with their faith and what they believe as they tour these historical and Biblical places. Yet, at the end, they are no better than when they started. Drew is still struggling with believing in God who he feels is distant from him. Rory is still an agnostic with an appreciation for the religion of his friends and family. I respected the honesty of these two men as they struggle with faith; however, the drama of the series led me to think that they might experience a new found truth to bring them to a salvation knowledge of Christ. Instead, they got to go on the trip of a lifetime and see some interesting stuff without it ever changing their lives. It was a letdown for me.

Tyndale has provided me a free copy of this DVD series in exchange for my review which I freely give.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cliques, Hicks, and Ugly Sticks


As this setting the book is 1984, I would have enjoyed reading this book when I was a girl in junior high. The main character, April Grace, is navigating junior high life as all young girls do. I related to the character and the struggles she faces growing up and trying to fit in. I certainly would have enjoyed reading this book when I was her age.

Also because this book is set in 1984, I do not know if young girls today will relate to the story. The absence of technology (computers, cell phones, apps, etc.) was very noticeable. When April needed to get a hold of her dad, I wondered why she did not just call his cell phone. Then I remember that there were no cell phones in the 80's. So the book is dated, but it is a nice enough story to make it readable and enjoyable.

Thomas Nelson has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for this review which I freely give.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Shadow in Serenity

I have been a fan of Terri Blackstock for years and have never been disappointed. This most recent book of hers is a reprint from a previous book. She updated the story and incorporated the story of redemption. I appreciate how the redemption story is weaved into the book without being forced or preachy.

Carny, the protagonist, is a new person after leaving the carnival life, becoming a Christian, and settling in the town of Serenity, Texas. When Logan Brisco comes to town, she see him for the con he is. As much as she tries to discredit him, he sees the truth of what he is doing. In the midst of this, they are falling in love.

The story had many unexpected twists and turns, yet it was an easy read that kept me interested from cover to cover. Terri Blackstock really does have the gift of storytelling, and I appreciate that she has used her gift to honor God.


Zondervan has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for my review which I freely give.

Friday, November 18, 2011

This Little Prayer of Mine

It is always a delight to review a children's book. I miss the days when I would curl up with my kids before putting them to bed so we can read a good book together. This is one of those good books that I would have read with my young children.

The book is a child's prayer written in rhyme. Each 2 page spread is a 4 line poem that rhymes on the second and fourth line. The young child thanks God for many things and asks God for help in doing the right thing. The book is written so that the main character is never defined as a boy or a girl. Each 2 page spread includes a young boy and girl doing the things that are said in the prayer. So it could be either child saying the prayer.

This is the kind of book that you will read over and over again.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Fierce Beauty

This was the first book I have ever read by Kim Meeder. She has lived an amazing life as she has had to overcome adversity in her life. However, she did not stop at overcoming but has also helped others to do the same. In this book, she encourages the reader to see the beauty around us to see the beauty within us.

The premise of the book is good; however, the execution was lacking. Some of the stories, although interesting, did not connect with the point being made. Quite a few stories were repeats from precious books (Hope Rising, Blind Hope, and Bridge Called Hope). I would have expected a 4th book from this author would contain new and different information instead of more of the same. For this reason, I give this book a 3 out of 5 stars. It does have potential to be a really good book but it feels to be a repeat of previous material.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Reclaiming Lily

Joy was a young orphan in China who is adopted by Andrew and Gloria. They bring her back to Texas and raise her as their own. However, Joy was never really an orphan. Joy is Lily, the fourth daughter of the Chang family who had to place their daughter in an orphanage because of governmental restrictions. Lily's sister, Kai, has devoted her life to find Lily and to find a cure for polycystic kidney disease (PKD), a genetic disease that has plagued her family.

Adoption, disease, teenage rebellion, and family devotion are weaved throughout the story. In some ways, there were too many elements causing conflict in the story. Most of these elements are resolved at the end of the story, but some are not. For example, the story hints at turmoil in Gloria's life because of her dad's infidelity, but that story line is never resolved.

The storyline stuttered too much for me. The flashback to China is deep and descriptive as the authors uses too many words to set the tone. Then the story flies through 2 years of relationship building after Kai and Lily meet for the first time. I just had a hard time with the pace of the story.

I give the book a 3.5 out of 5. It is neither good not bad. Just okay for me.

Bethany House provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for this review which I freely give.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Ride of a Lifetime

Whoa, cowboy! That thought crossed my mind while reading this book, but not in a good way. On page 102, a character curses using the s-word. That took me aback, but I tried to overlook it. The word was repeated on page 103 by one of the main characters, and again on page 141 and page 238. Now I am offended. I do not read books from Christian publishers so that I can be exposed to filthy language. My daddy once told me that people who swear do so because they have nothing better to say. It seems to me that the author did not have anything better to say. It's a shame as this book could have been a good book.

I read to be inspired, encouraged, and uplifted. I most enjoy stories where there is a change of heart. There may be some sin in the life of a main character, but in a good book, the sin leads to repentance and a change of heart. I can read these kinds of stories because I know that the bad part of the story was part of the path of redemption. The swear words peppering the story were not necessary, were offensive, and did not add any redeeming quality to the story. For that reason, I cannot recommend this book even though the rest of the story was decent enough.

Thomas Nelson provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for this review which I freely give.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Three Cups



This book is a good tool to use as you teach your children to be responsible with money. It is a read aloud kind of book, but it is also a springboard for discussion as kids learn about money management. I like the visual aid of using 3 cups to keep the money as you watch it grow. I also like the simple way a bank account is explained.

What I did not like is that the giving cup is mentioned last both in the list of where to put the allowance and then in what to do with it. I have taught my children that giving comes first. There is a Biblical basis for this idea as God told the Israelites to celebrate Shavuot where the first fruits of the harvest are to be brought to the temple as a part of worship. However, this book does not refer to the Bible in any way. Even with the giving cup, the child is encouraged to do good but not necessarily because they want to honor God with their money. Like I said, this book is a springboard for further discussion. It is more generic in it's purpose for saving, spending, and giving.

Thomas Nelson has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for this review which I freely give.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Nearing Home



Billy Graham has given us another meaningful narrative a he encourages us to seek God in all areas of our lives. Retirement is no different from any other life change such a graduating school, getting marriage, or having children. Sometimes it is forced upon us, but more often, we have a choice. In this choice, we can plan for it, seek God's will, and be blessed by our obedience. Or we can stumble upon retirement and live aimlessly with no goals or passions.

I had never thought about retirement in this way. I just saw it as what you did when you were done working. Instead, if we are seeking God, we never stop working for His kingdom. We are useful and needed here on earth until the day He calls us home. We are useful and needed no matter how young or old we are.

"Retirement isn't something that just happens if you live long enough, and it isn't even a reward for your years of hard work; it is a gift from God." These are words to live by!

Thomas Nelson has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for this review which I freely give.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Behind the Veils of Yemen

I have a new appreciation for what missionaries face. Audra Grace Shelby ( a pen name for a woman still witnessing in the Middle East) writes a compelling story of her experiences in Yemen.

Leaving the freedoms of America, Audra voluntarily accepts the balto (head covering and veil) and works to develop relationships with the women of Yemen. Although her husband works alongside her in the mission field, this book is about Audra and the women she meets. She learns to love and accept these women as she learns the language and the culture of Yemen.

What I liked about her story is that she did not brag about how many people were saved because of her work. She is open and honest about loving the people of Yemen even when they did not accept the truth of God. She acknowledges the lack of education and male dominated society which prevents women from truly understanding the love of God. Audra continues to love and serve in the Middle East, and I look forward to reading more about her experiences.

Chosen, a division of Baker House, has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for the review which I freely give.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Accused

Although this book does not come out until January 2012, I was able to read an advanced copy from Tyndale House to review.

Like an episode of CSI, NCIS, or Law and Order, this book is fast-paced and action-packed. Carly Edwards is a beat cop who finds herself in hot water. As she tries to get herself out of trouble, she discovers the real problem is greed and deception within the department. In a parallel story, Carly is also discovering a new faith in God after turning her back on Him after her father died.

I could relate to the heroin of the story as she struggles with having a faith in God after tragedy. As a cop, she is trained to do what is right and enforce the law. Yet as a person, she is not sure what is right anymore. After a life and death experience, she realizes that God is real and she does want a relationship with Him.

What I liked about the book was that the action and drama that kept my attention. What I did not like about the book was that it took a life and death experience for the main character to choose to believe in God.

Tyndale House provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for this review which I freely give.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Scroll

This is not my first book in the Biblical archeology genre. I enjoy the action and intrigue but not so much the violence and murder. I was thinking that this book was much like an Indiana Jones movie. I guess the author felt the same way as one of the main characters states, "This sounds like the premise to a bad Indiana Jones movie" (page 35). The statement is true, but it is still a good book to read.

The story is about David Chambers, an American archaeologist, who is called back to Israel for his most amazing discovery yet. Along the way, his faith is challenged; he reconnects with an arch rival as well as his ex-finance; and he changes the course of history. All in a days work for this man.

The book is well written. Although it is fiction, the premise is believable. I did not want to put the book down at the end of the chapter as the suspense kept my interest. It was a page-turner.


I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Heaven is for Real for Kids

I was so excited when this book came in the mail today. I read and reviewed Heaven is for Real when it came out last year. I was impressed and inspired by the first book. My 12 year old son even read it and liked it, but I was glad for this new children's version to share with my younger daughter and with my Sunday school class.

Colton's story is true and gives us hope. I am amazed that everything he describes from his experience is Biblically accurate. In this children's book, every page has a description of what Colton saw along with verses from the Bible that support what he is describing.

I am also amazed at the detail with which Colton describes heaven. God blessed him with a truly awesome experience, and I am grateful that he has shared it with the rest of us.

Thomas Nelson has provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for this review which I freely give.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

His Steadfast Love



Slavery was a way of life during the 1860's in Texas. Some people never even questioned it, but in His Steadfast Love, Amanda and her family have to face their way of life even as it changes before their very eyes.

Amanda had to question what she believed when she fell in love with Kent Littlefield, an officer who serves in the Union army. When her dad discovered the officer's allegiance, he forbade Kent have any kind of correspondence with Amanda. As Amanda obeyed her father, her heart struggled with how she felt for Kent. Some things just do not have a simple answer.

I like how the author portrayed both sides of the issue of slavery as well as recognizing that it was not the only issue dividing the North and the South. States rights was as much of an issue as slavery. I also like how the author portrayed how a family endured while a loved on served on the front line of battle.


Thomas Nelson has provided a free copy of this ebook for review.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Just in Case You Ever Wonder

Every once in a while, a book will come along that speaks directly to your heart and to the place of hurt that only God can heal.

I was so pleased to see that this book was being republished. I read it to my now teenage children when they were still small enough to sit in my lap. The book is a sweet story about how special a child is and how God created him or her so uniquely. God created the family to love and care and protect. The book tachess children of these truths of God's love "just in case they ever wonder."

What was so special about this book to me right now is that God reminded me of His truth in my life. My love for my children is a mere reflection of God's love for me. As fierce as I love my children, God's love is even more fierce. As much as I want to bless my children, God wants to bless me. Sometimes I wonder and need this reminder of how much God loves me.

Thomas Nelson provided me a free copy in exchange for my review which I freely give.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Raised Right

I am not sure if Alisa Harris is making fun of her right-winged upbringing, or if she is happy with her childhood experiences. She pokes fun at a lot of Christian-ease, but sometimes instead of laughing, I felt like I was being chastised. About halfway through the book, I was downright offended, but I pressed on. It did get better.

Alisa is honest about her path and the many steps she has taken to get to where she is now. She admits her faults and her mistakes as she has learned from them. I realized she was poking fun at herself as she comes to terms with who she is and who she wants to be. She had to decide for herself if the belief system she was taught is the belief system she wants to live. In the end, she learned to love, to care, and to take heart.

I am impressed with such an educated young lady who is so involved in the political process. Even my generation is slow to vote but quick to complain. There is hope for the future generation if there are people like Alisa Harris trying to care, love, and take heart.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Women of Faith: Imagine

I have a wonderful time this weekend at the Women of Faith Conference in Pittsburgh, PA. Thanks to the tickets Thomas Nelson provided, I was able to enjoy a weekend away with my best friend.

We were refreshed and encouraged; inspired and enlightened. In the words of Larry, the Cucumber, "I laughed. I cried. It moved me, Bob."

It will take a while to process all I heard. I took notes and journaled as the Spirit moved, and the Spirit sure did more in that place.

My only disappointment was that more women did not go. The Consul Energy Center was only half full. There were a lot of empty seats. I hope next year (September 28 & 29), more women attend. It will only bless you and enrich your life!


I was given free tickets to attend the conference in exchange for this honest review.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Thank You God for Loving Me



Another delightful children's book by Max Lucado! This book begs to be read out loud.

I was so glad to received this book in the mail today. I had read and reviewed Thank You God For Blessing Me also by Max Lucado, but only in ebook form. Both books have a 4-line rhyme on each page with lovely illustrations of Hermie, a child-like caterpillar.

I truly enjoyed this little board book and am excited to share it with my 2 year old nephew. Like most toddlers, he is hard on books and has a short attention span. So this book will be great for him when he comes to visit. I look forward to sharing this delightful little book with him.

Thomas Nelson has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for this review which I freely give.

Waking Hours



Much like Frank Peretti, Lis Weihl delves into the supernatural and the power of evil. I have enjoyed previous books by this author and continued to enjoy this new book.

The story follows Dani, a psychiatrist who works for the DA, as she tries to solve a local murder. With the help of her friend, Tommy, she is able to solve the crime. Not only does she figure out who done it, but also she figures out why that person did it.

The storyline is much like an episode of a TV crime drama. The murder is solved in less than 2 weeks, and the characters never seem to have a night where they actually sleep. As the reader, it is interesting to follow the storyline as you try to solve the crime along with the characters of the book.

What I did not like about the book is the past history between Dani and Tommy. She was the overachieving nerd in high school, and he was the game winning jock. He had a crush on her and admitted to being intimidated by her. I found this part of the story a little far fetched.

Thomas Nelson has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for this review which I freely give.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Seven Days in Utopia

I was not able to see this movie as it was not in my local theater, but I was glad to read the book. In my experience, the book is better than the movie.

The story is about a young golfer who loses his game. After a not-so-accidental meeting, he learns what his game was missing and how to play again. The lessons he learned were more than just to improve his golf game but how to have a better life. These lessons are true for all of us which is why this book is inspirational.

Even though the story is based on a real life, it is not a true story. It is a fictionalized account of what could happen when life and circumstances collide to bring a new awareness. That being said, it is a nice story. The story is more than just a book or a movie. There is a website which provides even more encouragement towards a life altering experience of your own.

Zondervan has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for my review which I freely give.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Crossing

A 10 year old murder that was never solved. A woman who died before she could confess the truth of her affair. Her best friend who mourned the loss without knowing the whole truth. A man who could have been an NFL quarterback but endured a career ending injury. Their stories collide, and the truth comes out.

Disjointed. That is the word that came to mind when I finished reading this book today. The story was interesting, and I did not want to put the book down. I was surprised by the ending when I found out who done it. However, it was not a pleasant surprise. Instead, I was confused at to why this person did it. It was character thrown into the story in the last 50 pages. This character was related to other characters throughout the book but not introduced until toward the end. The story did not develop this character enough to truly understand the motivation behind the act of murder.

As far as the rest of the character development, I was dissatisfied how some characters resolved their issues and were a better person by the end of the story while others never resolved their issues. These characters were just as bad, if not worse, by the end of the book.

I understood that this book was based on a murder investigation, so I anticipated some gory details. What I did not anticipate was the amount of sexual passion including many sinful relationships throughout the story. I am no prude, but there was more description of the sexual attraction than of the true repentance of a sinful relationship.


I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Thank You, God, For Blessing Me


What a delightful little book! Little Hermie is just right for young children. The book is short enough to keep their attention but cute enough to capture their hearts. The short prayer is written in rhyme so it is pleasing for little children to quietly listen to.

Little Hermie is thanking God for His many blessings. Hermie thanks God for leaves to sleep on, for friends and family, for food and playtime, and for blessing me.

What I liked about the book was that it was easy to read and sounds nice when read out loud. I wish the book was longer; however, I remember when my little ones were little and their attention span was very short.


Thomas Nelson has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for this review which I freely give.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Baker's Wife



When I start a new book, I read for understanding. I try to understand who the characters are and what their motivations are. Throughout the book, I question what will happen next or why a character was motivated to act a certain way. By the end of the book my questions are answered and my understanding of the story is complete. This was not true for The Baker's Wife. The end of the story left me with more questions than at the beginning. I am still trying to figure out why everything happened the way it did.

Audrey was once the pastor's wife, but after a falling out with a church elder, she is now the baker's wife. The elder and his family are struggling as is the pastor and his family, but the difference is in their faith. One family is trying to be right while the other is trying to do right. The reader is left trying to figure out who is doing what's right and who is trying to just be right.

The book was a suspense/drama with a little mystery. I wish I understood better why some of the characters never really changed by the end of the story. Still others characters did change, but I was not given enough information as to the character development to truly understand why. I just felt like there were holes throughout the story and the ending had too many loopholes.

Thomas Nelson provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for this review which I freely give.

Monday, September 19, 2011

A River to Cross

I have never read a book from the "Texas Adventure and Romance" genre, and I rarely read historical fiction. However, I read this book and enjoyed it very much.

Elizabeth Evans travels to El Paso/Fort Bliss to help her widowed brother but quickly finds herself in the middle of an international event. Ranger Jake Nelson comes to her aid and quickly they fall in love. The problem is that both Elizabeth and Jake have loved and lost before and do not want to love and lose again.

I did enjoy reading this book. There was enough action and drama to keep it from being too sappy with the romance. Sometimes the action was too much as I wondered how many more incidents could Elizabeth and Jake find themselves. Kidnapping, border crossing, and near drownings were just a few of this action packed incidents. There seemed to be no end to the adrenaline rush for the characters or even time to grieve from tragic events.

Bethany House has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review which I freely give.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Sacred Acre: The Ed Thomas Story

What a great story! I had never heard of Ed Thomas before reading this book, but I am glad I know him now. What an amazing man who left an amazing legacy.

Coach Thomas was an inspiring high school football coach who developed a winning program at a small high school in Iowa. His goal was not to win games but to make a difference in the lives of the athletes he coached telling his players "If all I have taught you is how to block and tackle, then I have failed you as a coach."

When his town was hit by a tornado, Coach Thomas was the driving force behind the rebuilding efforts. He promised to have the football field ready to play the first home game 105 days after the tornado hit. The field was ready, and the team went on to a winning season. Unfortunately, the story does not have a happy ending. A year later, tragedy hit the town again when Coach Thomas was murdered by a former player. His legacy lives on in the lives of many including his family, his friends, and the many players who were lucky enough to call him Coach.

Ed Thomas lived by the words, "take pride in what you do." I am impressed that he was the maintenance staff for his football field dubbed the Sacred Acre. He seeded it, mowed it, line it, and on the morning after a game, he was there filling in the divots. He was the coach who spent Friday night after the big game washing the team uniforms, taking the time to scrub out the grass stains.

I am so grateful for the Thomas family for sharing this story with us. I look forward to sharing this book with my own family with the hope that we take to heart Coach Thomas's words "take care of the little things, and the big things will take care of themselves."

Zondervan had provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for this review which I freely give.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Night Night Blessings



This story would make a delightful bedtime book for young children. The prose is simple and the illustrations are charming.

The young child in the story prays in thankfulness before going to bed. She thanks God for her family, her toys, her kitty and puppy, her bubble bath with snorkel mask, and her parents' putting her to bed. It is a great example of how to honestly pray with the understanding that God cares for all the details of our lives.

I will forewarn parents that they might have read and reread this book multiple times. The good thing is that the book is written in rhyme so it is easy enough to read and memorize after the tenth reading.

Thomas Nelson has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for this review which I freely give.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Gabby, God's Little Angel



The angels are a cute bunch of child-like creatures who are still learning how to be angels. In this story, Gabby is given the assignment of being the guardian angel of Sophie, a young girl here on earth. Both Gabby and Sophie are lovable and adorable as well as flighty and clumsy. This combination makes for a charming story of Gabby trying to stay out of trouble while trying to keep Sophie out of trouble.

The truth of the story is from Psalm 91:11, "For He will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways." (NIV). This is a good book to begin teaching young children the truth of God's Word. It is a springboard to the understanding of what angels are and how God uses these "mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word" (Psalm 103:20, NIV). My only concern is that the Bible does not portray angels as young and childlike. After studying the Word, I now see angels are strong, fierce warriors and not flighty little cherubs. I would hope that this book is used to share God's love with young children but not doctrinal truth.

Thomas Nelson has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for this review which I freely give.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Pattern of Wounds

Much like an episode of CSI, this book follows the murder investigation of homicide detective Roland March. There are a lot of clues throughout the storyline leading March to the suspect but only after more victims pile up including an attempt on someone close to him.

I had a hard time following the story. First of all, I did not read Back on Murder, the first book in the Roland March series. Secondly, there are many rabbit trails throughout the book that did not lead to the suspect. I know that makes the story realistic, but it frustrated me as a reader. I also got frustrated with odd details in the story like the fact that March wears hand-me-down clothes from his deceased father-in-law. Another odd detail is that his wife is very understanding of his late hours and nights away. For all the details given to the character development of March, his wife seems bland and one dimensional.

I was not a fan of this book, but I know that many mystery/suspense readers will enjoy it. I like to read books to give my mind a break. This book made me work hard to follow the story. If you like Law and Order, CSI, Criminal Minds, and Bones, then you will like this book

Bethany House has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for this review which I freely give.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hermie, A Common Caterpillar



I love Hermie! I just wish my children were younger so I could enjoy him even more. In books and in DVDs, Hermie reminds children that they are God's special creation. Max Lucado's books for young children are as delightful and inspiring as his books for adults.

Hermie and his friend Wormie are just ordinary caterpillars who discover that with God, they are not so ordinary. God tells them, "Don't worry. I love you both just the way you are, but I'm not finished with you yet." God will make the ordinary extraordinary. This is a great truth for God's children young and old.

This book is a republished book from 2002; however, in republishing the story, this book is now an easy reader so children can read this book on their own. I can see children reading and rereading this book developing their literacy skills.

Thomas Nelson has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for my review which I freely give.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

It's Your Kid, Not a Gerbil

Kevin Leman is at it again reminding us parents that raising a child is not rocket science. Being busy does not equal a fulfilling life. Sometimes less is more. Kids really just want more time with their parents not more stuff. Mostly the advice is common sense, but sometimes we need a little help making sense of it all.

Even though it was hard to hear, Kevin Leman tells us straight up that we are just too busy. We need stop trying so hard to make everything meaningful. Routine and rituals are meaningful enough. Some of our best childhood memories are not from big events but from an almost meaningless event that thrilled us like no other.

The one thing that hit me hard was that after a negative behavior in my child, I should respond, not react. I have been reacting a lot lately. With encouragement from this book, I see now that responding is a much better response. Yes, pun intended.

Tyndale has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for this review which I freely give. You can also visit Tyndale to learn more about this book and enter a chance to win this book for yourself.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Espresso For Your Spirit

I am not sure why Multnomah offered me a book to review that was published in 1999. Usually I review newly published books, but I am glad I got to read this book. It was thoroughly enjoyable.

This little book is much like a cup of espresso...small but packs a lot of punch. There were stories that made me laugh and some that made me cry, but all of it touched my heart deeply. We moms love our children fiercely, but I often forget that God loves my children more than I can imagine. This book is a great reminder that God is with us and not against us as we raise our children in this world.

One chapter in particular hit me hard this morning as I read chapter 19, "Lie Down in Your Soul." I often let my exhaustion prevent me from listening to my children during that calm, quiet pre-bed time. They usually have something to tell me, but I'm too tired to hear it. This book reminds me that I need to listen no matter how tired I am. God will give me the rest I need.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Stand-Up Guy

The book started out weird. I thought it would get better but instead it got weirder and weirder.

The story is about a young man named Oliver Miles who is trying to earn a living as a stand-up comedian while moonlighting as a security guard at a local hotel. His mom is an alcoholic who was in prison but is now in some sort of hospital. All the drinking with very little eating has ruined her health. With no father, Oliver has a tough home life. Oliver also has a crush on a fellow hotel employee named Mattie who seems to like him too, but she herself has some issues.

That is the storyline. It's weird, and it only got worse as I read. I was hoping for funny, but it's not funny either. I thought the comedy bit would make me laugh, but it only made me feel sorry for this guy. After a while, I just got annoyed because the storyline never progresses and the comedy is not even funny. I guess I just did not get it. Maybe I missed the punchline.

I am surprised that I did not like this book as I usually enjoy the fiction I read from Zondervan. I hope this was just a fluke.

Zondervan has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for this review which I freely give.

Friday, August 19, 2011

One Call Away

I read First Things First about Kurt Warner last year, and I get to read Brenda Warner's side of story. Her life is fascinating and inspring. She has survived more than her share of heartache, yet has lived her life with strength and honor.

Brenda tells her life story matter-of-factly. She tells it like it is without trying to defend her actions or prove herself to be better than she is. For that reason, the book is refreshingly honest. She has endured loss and heartache. Her life has not been perfect, nor has it been what she planned.

What bothered me was the fact that she and her husband lived together long before they committed to marriage. She professes a Biblical faith but does explain why premarital sex was acceptable in her life. Kurt was the one who was convicted of it when he became a Christian, yet Brenda never offers her point of view about why she was not convicted of this.

That being said, Brenda is an inspiration. She is honest about her life and shares with the reader what she has endured and how she has lived through tough times even admitting that she has made mistakes along the way. It makes her real which is what I admire the most about Brenda. She writes, " I learned not to tell God how to do things. Instead I grew closer to him as I learned to accept that he was in controlm that he loved me, and that I could trust him no matter what happened."

Thomas Nelson has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for this review which I freely give.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Stained Glass Hearts

The premise to this book is that the broken pieces of our lives are not mistakes. They are part of the stained glass mosaic that becomes beautiful in the light of God's love. It is not like Patty Clairmont's other books with lots of humor and funny stories. This one is more serious and thought provoking.

Sometimes, I felt like thoughts were volleying back and forth like a tennis match. It was hard to keep up after a while. I had to put the book down and come back later to read more.

There were some great lines that I highlighted in my book such as "I still wrestle with my tendency to think that what I do qualifies me before God instead of what he's done and completed" (p. 17) and "I want people to like me, and when they don't, I feel defensive and insecure" (p. 61). Patsy Clairmont is open and honest, and made me think about my own tendencies and insecurities.

The chapter on poetry was not my favorite, but the chapter on books was great. It make my book-loving heart go pitter patter.

Thomas Nelson has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for me review which I freely give.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Cherished

Forgiveness...that was the theme of this story. I am challenged to forgive like the characters of this story. They learn to forgive each other and themselves so that they can be a part of God's redeeming work. It was inspiring.

With forgiveness as being the central theme, the storyline was about a rapper and a songwriter joining forces to write and produce music. Unfortunately, these people have a history and no amount of ignoring it will make the pain go away. They had to face the truth, deal with the pain, seek and accept forgiveness, and then watch with wonder how God blesses them.

Admittedly, there were a lot of characters to keep track of. There was so much backstory to each characters that I wondered if this book was actually part of a series. Nothing on the cover said that it is part of a series or even a sequel, but Faithful, a previously published book by Kim Cash Tate has many of the same characters. I guess you can read this book as a stand alone as long as you don't mind keeping up with the variety of characters and their stories.



Thomas Nelson has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for this review which I freely give.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Mercy Come Morning


For anyone struggling with the issues surrounding Alzheimer's, this story brings hope. I can see how many have been touched by this book. It is a nice story about a daughter's struggle as her mother's health steadily declines.

The book is an easy read and gives a reader a chance to watch someone else overcome a hurt past. Healing and hope comes in many ways even in death.

To be honest, the book was not great, but it was decent. I found some of the descriptions lacking while other descriptions were too wordy. The backdrop of New Mexico was as much a character in the story as Dane or Elana. Yet when the main character, Krista, comes to a new understanding about her past and reconnects with her first love, only one paragraph is dedicated to the one hour long conversation that brought healing and restoration between Dane and Krista.

In summary, the book is decent and reaches a unique demographic.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Smack Dab in the Middle of God's Love


The description of sopapillas made my mouth water. I need that recipe! I want to enjoy these pastries like the children in the story. So yummy. So mouth watering with honey smack-dab in the middle of the pastry.

The pastries are a metaphor that Willie Juan and Ana use to demonstrate God's love where "Every good thing comes from smack-dab in the middle of Abba's heart."

This book is a delightful little story to teach young children about God's love. God reminds us to taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8). Even more, I am inspired to be smack-dab in the middle of God's love.

Thomas Nelson has provided me this book free in ebook form in exchange for this review. I was able to read this book as soon as it was published so that I could write this review.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Fresh-Brewed Life

I was excited to read this book as I like a good cup of coffee and a good book; however, this book was not as good as I had hoped. I am not sure why I did not enjoy this book. There were some interesting chapters and neat word illustrations, but the writing was not fluid. I guess it just was not my cup of tea (pun intended).

I can say that this is the kind of book you need to take your time reading. There was a lot of food for thought (too many puns). The author touches on all parts of our life including spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental. Nothing was off limits.

Journaling was highly encouraged throughout the book. I have journaled for years, but often need a little extra encouragement which this book gave me.

Thomas Nelson has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for this review which I freely give.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Jefferson Burke and the Secret of the Lost Scroll

Even though the premise to this book is not new (think: Indiana Jones, American Treasure, and DaVinci Code), I did enjoy reading this drama/suspense work of fiction with a little romance to keep it interesting without being annoying.

I want to highlight that this is a work of fiction which means many of the elements are not real including the basis for this Book of Joseph scroll. The other element that is pure fiction is a female Ranger. After my years of service in the U.S. Army and my husband's continued years in service, I know no woman has ever served or trained as an Army Ranger. So to have a female character with a Ranger background is pure fiction.

That being said, the story line is interesting. The action kept the story moving. There were many twists and turns, and even I could not predict how it would end. It makes for a fun read as long as you read it knowing it is work of fiction.

Zondervan has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for this review.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Courageous

The Kendrick brothers did it again....create a dramatic story that points us to God and inspires us to live for Him. Together, with help from Randy Alcorn who wrote this book from the screenplay, they have created not just an entertaining story but an inspiring story.

In Fireproof, the story was about the marriage relationship. In Courageous, it is about the relationship of a father and child. It is not just about being a good father but a Godly father. Each character in this story is challenged to be a better father. Each challenge is unique so everyone can relate specifically to someone in the story.

I have been inspired and challenged by this story as well as all the stories that the Kendrick brothers have created. They have a gift and are using it to points others to Christ.

I am looking forward to watching the movie when it comes out on September 30th, but I always prefer to read the book first. Most often, the book is always better.

Tyndale House has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for my review, and this has been my favorite book from Tyndale House that I have had a chance to review.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sweet Santuary

"I tell myself no new books, but then someone at the library recommends something or I come across a little gem...I'm hopeless with the allure of a good story."

Those are not my words but the admission of Wren, the protagonist of the story. I wholeheartedly agree with her which is why I read this book as I am intrigued by the allure of a good story. I also related to Wren as a mother and her worries as she raises her son. Like her, I stuff my feelings and try to avoid confrontation. But the past comes back, and she has to face her feelings and the truth.

I enjoyed this book and was glad that I had time to just sit and savor the story. I was annoyed at the beginning that there was this problem from the past that Wren had buried, but the reader did not know what this problem was. As the truth came out, so many things made more sense, but I guess that is why the reader was not given all the information up front. I was satisfied with the ending and noticed that there was a potential for a sequel without leaving too many loose ends.


Thomas Nelson has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for this review which I freely give.

Women of Faith

I was excited to be offered 2 free tickets to the Woman of Faith conference in Pittsburgh, PA, this fall. I have not been to a WoF Conference since before my children were born so this is a long time coming. I know I will enjoy it and will be blessed. I am praying that my BFF can come, too, so we can enjoy some girl time together. I'll share more in upcoming weeks about this wondeful opportunity from Women of Faith. You can see for yourself here what a great experience this will be.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Dinner With a Perfect Stranger

Even though the book is easy to read, it is not a simple book.

In response to an unusual invitation, Nick Cominsky meets Jesus for dinner. Nick really doesn't think it's the real Jesus, and even the reader is unsure; however, by the end of the meal.... Well, you need to read the book to figure it out for yourself.

This is a read-it-in-one-night kind of book. I'd even suggest reading it while sitting in a recliner with a glass of wine. Why not? The Jesus character drank a glass of wine with his dinner.

I would not recommend this book as an alternative to reading the gospel accounts of Jesus. Instead, this is an interesting perspective of what might transpire if you could have a meal with Jesus. The book also reminds me of The Shack, another fictitious encounter with God, but I think I might even like this book better. The truths are more in line with Scripture and the personification of Jesus is less dramatic.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Don't Check Your Brains at the Door


I grew up in the era of apologetics. Josh McDowell's "More Than a Carpenter" revolutionized Christian faith. I was a product of that generation. I was a teenager when "Don't Leave Your Brains at the Door" was first published. Fast forward 20 years, and I have an almost teenager in my house, and I am glad to have this updated version to share with him.

The book summarizes a basic understanding of God, Jesus, the Holy Sprit, and the Bible. By disproving many myths, the authors prove that what the world thinks does not often line up with Scripture. Ideas like "Jesus was just a good teacher" and the "Bible was just a good book" are challenged. This is a great book for teenagers as it identifies things they might have heard but do not really understand.

What I like about this book is that the chapters are short and easy to understand. Questions at the end of each chapter challenge readers to go further in their understanding of truth. This is a great book for any believer but especially for teenagers as they go deeper in their understanding of God.

Thomas Nelson has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for my review which I freely give.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Learning

Karen Kingsbury has done it again...created a book with a cast of characters that we just have to read about. It is like one long soap opera, and we can't miss a day. Each one of these books is just another chapter in the story that started way back with the Redemption Series. 20 books later, and I am still reading.

Bailey Flanigan has a charmed life, and making it on Broadway is just another part of her uber-wonderful life. Her dilemma is whether to pursue a relationship with the boy from her past or the man in her present. It is a hard decision for her. As the reader, I am jealous to have that choice to make. Who gets to make a movie, dance on Broadway, and be pursued by a Hollywood heartthrob? Not me in my suburban mom life driving a minivan and clipping coupons. I guess that is why I continue to read these books so that I can escape my normal everyday life and live a fantasy world.

I have come to the conclusion that these fiction books are as much a fairy tale as Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast. They are easy to read and predictable, but like ice cream, I keep coming back for more.

Zondervan has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for my review which I freely give.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Thunder Dog


The story is told in parallel form. Michael Hingson shares his story of escaping the North Tower of the World Trade Center on 9/11. At the same time, he shares his life story of being blind and of his bond with his guide dogs. Both stories are inspiring and amazing.


This is a great story of faith and trust. I would also say that this is a story of tenacity. Michael's parents raised him to not just survive but thrive in the world. Being blind did not stop him from riding his bike around the neighborhood or walking to school 3 blocks away or even flying an airplane. It was not until he was 14 years old that he even knew about guide dogs. Even then, his family had to fight for the right to ride the school bus with his guide dog. Yet they never gave up or gave in.

What I liked most about this book is the honesty of being blind in a sighted world. Michael Hingson writes about his life and how hard he has had to work to overcome struggles because of blindness. What he has achieved is amazing. His guide dog is also amazing, but you will have read the book yourself to understand why.

My favorite line: "Don't let sight get in the way of your vision."

Thomas Nelson has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for this review which I freely give.

Friday, July 8, 2011

When the Hurt Runs Deep

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. I say this up front so that I can admit that I did not read this book during a hurtful time in my life. I read this book to review but not because I have not experienced anything so painful that I needed healing right now. That being said, this book is a balm to a hurting soul. This book overflows with truth and shines light into dark places. The words in this book bring hope and healing.

Kay Arthur is one my favorite Bible study teachers. Even in this book, she points us to passages and suggests we dig deeper and know God more through study of His Word. I am inspired to reep all that I can from a better understanding of His Word.

If I were to read this book again, which I probably will when I need it, I will read it with a highlighter and pencil nearby. There is so much to understand and absorb, yet all of it is a blessing. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is going through a tough time or knows anyone in need of encouragement.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Blessing

I will admit that I was only 12 years old when The Blessing was first published. I am glad to have read this book now to become a blessing to those I love. This book is an enduring truth that will be just as applicable to people 25 years from now as it was 25 years ago.

It will not spoil the book to state the 5 parts of the blessing.
1. Meaningful and appropriate touch.
2. A spoken message.
3. Attaching high value to the one being blessed.
4. Picturing a special future for him/her.
5. An active commitment to fulfill the blessing.

I would highly recommend buying this book and reading it with a highlighter. The book provides the details on how to make the blessing a part of your life. I appreciate the specific steps that are laid out in the book to help those of us (me especially) who need concrete steps.

The authors also provide many real life examples of how the blessing has blessed the lives of many hurting people. The book inspires us to be a blessing to others whether or not we have received the blessing. The interesting thing is that once we bless others, we find that we become blessed.

Thomas Nelson has provided this book free to me in exchange for this review which I freely give.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Final Hour

The final book in the Homelanders series arrived today. My son grabbed the book, and 3 hours later, handed it back to me saying, "Great book. You should read it." So I did, and he was right. It is a great book.

It had been a while since I read The Truth of the Matter, and I had forgotten some of the backstory. Andrew Klaven does a good job weaving into the story flashbacks to remind the reader what had already transpired up to now. Charlie West, the main character, is still trying to stop the Homelanders from terrorizing the country. Even when he thinks he is alone, he remembers that he is never alone. Help arrives in the nick of time, and well, you just have to read the book to see if he is able to stop the Homelanders from the Great Death.

What I like about these books is that they are action packed, full of energy, and keep you interested. There is some violence but not gory details. The Christian influence is subtle but necessary to the storyline. It is one thing to have a hero, but another thing to have a hero that is seeking God to do what is right. Charlie West is that kind of hero.

Thomas Nelson has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for my review which I freely give.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Sir Rowan and the Camerian Conquest

Since this is the first book I have read from the "Knights of Arrethtrae" series, I can comment solely on this book.

This story incorporates Biblical concepts such as the Prince (Jesus), the Dark Knight (Satan), and the Kingdom across the Sea (heaven). In addition these concepts, there is also the quest for worldly gain which only leads to emptiness; the choice to fight for truth; pride leading to desctruction; and the redemption grace of God. There are other Biblical elements weaved into the storyline, but I really don't want to give anything away.

This book was reminiscent of Star Wars, Narnia, and Indiana Jones with the classic good vs. evil theme. It was exciting and action packed with a little bit of romance thrown in for good measure.

I have notice a lack of good books for teenage boys. My son does not want to read about vampires or zombies or teenage girls in traveling pants. This book, and this series, will be a great option for teenagers. I am grateful to Chuck Black for writing books for young men that encourage them to become men of valor.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Place Called Blessing

A Place Called Blessing is a book called great!

When I first started reading this book, I was expecting a story about a boy who needed a family to love him and help him overcome his past. I assumed that meant this boy would be adopted or somehow taken in as a young child and raised in a good home. Instead, this boy, Josh, aged out of the system and had to fend for himself.

Josh was homeless for a while and eventually found steady employment. He rented a garage apartment from a family. This family was a widowed woman and her adult son who was in remission from cancer. Again, this was not the kind of family I expected; however blessings do not always come wrapped in neat little packages tied with a bow. This family showed kindness to Josh and was an example of what family can be like. They demonstrated what real love is. It is only when the truth of the past surfaces do we learned how deep that love is.

This is a great story, and a great inspiration to become a blessing to others. For some, that means helping children while for others that means helping adults. Either way, we can all be a blessing even in tough circumstances.

Thomas Nelson has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for this review which I freely give.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Ambition

What a great book! I have read previous non-fiction books by Lee Strobel and enjoyed them. This first time fiction from him is a great read with suspense, action, and drama.

The backdrop is a newer mega-church in Chicago with its founding pastor, Eric Snow, having to make a life changing decision. Would becoming a U.S. Senator give him the opportunity to affect change on a larger platform? The problem is that other things happen that might affect his decision. These things included dissension within the church, people being murdered, journalists trying to dig up dirt. It was great fun to read.

I highly recommend this book as well as any other future books. I will admit the book does leave a few loose threads that hint at another book. I will certainly look forward to reading what happens next.

Zondervan has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for this review which I freely give.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Untamed

Lisa Harper is a great writer and reminds us that God's love for us is wild and untamed.

Refreshing. That is the one word I would use to describe this book. So many books on the market tell us how to be a better Christian (how to pray, how to worship, how to read your Bible, etc.). All these books are helpful and have influenced my faith; however, sometimes we just need to know God and know His love. Reading Untamed is a great way to remember your first love as you seek to know God more.

There are questions at the end of each chapter. This is good for a small group discussion or even for personal reflection. These questions enhance the message of this book and challenge the reader to really see God as wildly faithful and wildly fearsome.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Vision of Lucy

I am not an avid reader of historical fiction, but this book was nice. It was neither exciting nor dull and makes a decent summer read.

The story is of Lucy, a young lady, who is pursuing a career in photography in a small town. The story is also of David who is trying to redeem his past. Their lives converge and sparks fly. It is a common theme in fiction, but charming nonetheless.

I did find some of the story lacking. It was about 50 pages too long as the storyline dragged on without an significant progress in character development. Also, the end was a little unsatisfying. It ended the way I had anticipated without any big ordeal or revelation. Like I said, it was nice but not exciting.

This book is part of the Rocky Creek Romance series; however, I did not need to read the 2 previous books to enjoy this book. It is as much a stand- alone book as it is a part of the series.

Thomas Nelson has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for my review which I freely give.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Not a Fan

I will warn you. Do not read this book if you like to stay in your comfort zone. Do not read this book if you like to keep Jesus first in your life but not in all of your life. Do not even pick this book up unless you are willing to ask yourself, Am I a follower of Jesus or just a fan?

Now that I have warned you, I will tell you that this is a great book. It made me uncomfortable and challenged my beliefs. It made me think and question what I know. It gave me insight to what is really going on in my head and in my heart. It was not a how-to manual on how to be a better Christian. It was a eye-opening experience.

The books holds no punches. It gets in your face. It gets in your business. It makes you want to be a believer, a follower of Jesus, and not just a fan.

Zondervan has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for my review which I freely give.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Indelible

The book opens in the middle of a dramatic event. There is no time to grasp who the characters are as the drama unfolds. Once the reader is given a chance to catch up, there is more drama. It was like this the entire book. Then there are chapters devoted to this unknown character but written in such poetic form that I could not understand what it was about. Eventually I realized who this character was and how his story was parallel to the story of Trevor and Natalie.

Speaking of Trevor and Natalie, their romance seems unnatural. They connect and fall in love too quickly for people who are supposedly dealing with intimacy issues.

I did not read Indivisible so it took time to understand the character development. This is the 2nd book in the series but there is nothing on the book cover to say that this is part of a series.

This book is in the genre of Ted Dekker. Scary, suspenseful, a little beyond belief. It's not my cup of tea.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Hungry for God

I was hesitant to read this book. I thought it was another turn-your-hunger-for-food-into-hunger-for-God kind of non-diet book. Then I started reading it, and the format threw me off. The format was not like other printed material where paragraphs are set off by indentation. Instead, it had an Internet format where paragraphs are flush with the left-hand margin and lines are skipped to denote the next paragraph, my like this blog.

So after I got over my first impressions and format issues, I really liked this book. It took my by surprise and challenged me in my relationship with God. Both are good things when you get a little too comfortable in your comfort zone. There were many highlightable lines, but this one especially went right to the core:

As a student, I wanted the right answer only to earn a good grade and move on to something else. Years later I realize the lessons were never really about trains, calculations, or math skills as much as about learning how to think.

I still find myself wanting the right answer especially in my relationship with God. I want Him to just tell me the answer and He wants to engage me in conversation. It takes time and energy to really know God, but Margeret Feinberg reminds us that it is so worth it.

Zondervan has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for my review which I freely give.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Reluctant Queen: The Love Story of Esther

I love the love story of Esther. It is a great book of the Bible that includes mystery, romance, intrigue, action, and drama. I was hesitant to read A Reluctant Queen, but decided to at least give it a chance. I enjoyed the story as a novel, but I noticed that the novel did not follow the Biblical account completely.

As the novel of the story of Esther goes, she is a young Jewish woman who enters the harem of the King and is chosen to be his wife. That part follows the story of the Bible. Her Uncle Mordecai who raised her encourages her to keep her Jewish roots to herself which again follows the Biblical account. It is when Haman writes the edict to kill all the Jews that the fiction diverts from the Bible story. In the novel, Mordecai does not talk to Esther about the edict encouraging her that she may have been called for "such a time as this"; Esther does not fast for 3 days; Esther does not invite the King and Haman to a banquet 2 nights in a row; and the King does not ask Esther what her request is even up to half the kingdom he would freely give her. The novel also leaves out the part where the King can't sleep and asks for a scribe to read to him to help him fall asleep. After the scribe reads the part about Mordecai saving his live, the King asks what was done for Mordecai. They tell him nothing was done. So the next morning when Haman comes in, the King asks him for his advice on how to honor an important man. Thinking the King was talking about himself, Haman tells of a great parade through the streets with the man of honor on the King's horse. The King likes the idea and sends Haman to do just that with Mordecai. Haman complies but with such contempt that he then goes and builds the huge gallows which he planned to hang Mordecai.

I know that an author needs to take some artistic license to make a 10 chapter book of the Bible into a 250 page novel; however, instead of adding details to the story, the author omitted important story elements. The line "such a time as this" is classic and could have been included. The storyline with Haman parading Mordecai around on the King's horse would have added to the understanding of Haman's hatred toward Mordecai. I just feel like what was left out should have been part of the story.

I liked reading this book as a novel. Unfortunately, I loved the story of Esther as it is and did not like how this book did not include the story elements that makes the book Esther so great to read.

Thomas Nelson has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for my review which I freely give.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Dopple Ganger Chronicles: The Great Mogul Diamond

I was glad to read another book in the juvenille fiction genre. It was interesting to read this cross between a chapter book and a graphic novel. I can see how this would be a good book for a boy who is able to read chapter books but is not interested in some of the options that are available.

Since I have not read the first two books in this series, I had a hard time understanding the characters and their backgrounds. I had to quickly catch up with their backstory while at the same time keep up with the action from this story. I think I would have enjoyed the book more if I had read the previous books; however, that is not to say that I did not enjoy this book. On the contrary, it was an interesting book which kept my attention throughout.

The story is about a boy and 2 girls who find themselves in the middle of a mystery. They are as integral as the adults in the book at solving the mystery. It is fast-paced and action packed. I would classify the book as action and suspense with Biblical overtones.

I received this book from Tyndale in exchange for this review.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Weird

Being a Christian in today's culture is not easy; however, when we are trying so hard to fit in we find ourselves looking no different than our unbelieving counterparts. We are suppose to be different; we are suppose to be weird. Craig Groeschel reminds us that we are not suppose to be normal if we call ourselves Christians.

I will warn you that if you read this book, you will have to step out of your comfort zone. I know I did. I like being a comfortable Christian without having to struggle, but that means I am lukewarm which is not where I need to be.

I even made a "do don't" list. It is not a "to do" list, but instead Craig challenges us to let go of things, good things, to receive something better. He tells us, "It's time to create a margin in which you can not only focus on your true priorities but also simply breathe and being to enjoy life again." Why are we so busy creating a good life which we never stop to enjoy? This book is a great reminder that God did not intend for us to be so busy that we miss His presence in our life. We just need take the time to savor His goodness, and I intend to do just that.

Zondervan has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for my review which I freely give.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

No Place Like Holmes

It is difficult to find good books for young men. My son is an avid reader and will reread books he has already read since there are so few books for him. Since he does not read romance or about vampires, there really is not much left. So I am always excited to find a book that he likes such as No Place Like Holmes.

Griffin Sharpe is a smart and observant young man. He is sent to England to visit his uncle who he thought might just be the great Sherlock Holmes. Instead, his uncle is the nextdoor neighbor to the great detective; however Uncle Rupert thinks himself to be a super sleuth. Griffin quickly finds himself in the middle of a mystery that he and his uncle seek to solve.

I like the book. I also would like to read more Griffin Sharpe stories. This story does leave one rabbit trail that could be followed in another book which just might be The Future Door which comes out in December. My son and I look forward to reading the rest of this series.

Thomas Nelson has provided me a free copy of this book to review.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Too Rich for a Bride

I am not sure I liked this book. It was not all bad but not all good either. Initially, there were so many characters introduced that I had a hard time keeping up with who was who and how they were related. I think it would have helped if I had read Two Brides Too Many first. Once I figured out who all the characters were, I was still having trouble with the story line. The story stuttered with action and dialogue.

The story is about Ida Sinclair as she moves out west to pursue her dream of becoming a business woman in a male-dominated society. She encounters some obstacles that she swiftly overcomes and learns from her mistakes. She is also pursued by 2 men even though she is not looking for a husband. As a matter of fact, the title seems out of place as the story is more about Ida finding out who she is and not about finding a husband.

I wanted to understand better what was happening, but often decisions were made without much description as to why. Then other decisions were dragged out for no apparent reason. There was too much description of things such as the mountains or what a certain character was wearing. Then there was not enough description of what a character was thinking. I just felt like the book had too much and not enough all at the same time. Too much about background information and not enough about the characters themselves.


I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

MacArthur: America's General

I enjoy history, but to be honest, I have a hard time reading it. Even though this was unnatural for me, I enjoyed reading this biography. MacArthur is a fascinating American icon, and I learned so much about his life that I just never knew.

The book starts with the backstory. MacArthur's father, Arthur MacArthur, was a highly decorated Lieutenant General with a successful military career. Douglas MacArtur idolize his father and spent his career trying to emulate his idol. MacArthur's life was spent serving the county, but he was also a flawed man.

Even though there are movies which depict the life story of MacArthur, Hollywood does not always tell the truth. This story does tell the whole truth, and his life is more fascinating than any movie. The book is not long, and I am sure a lot of details were left out. However, the book does a great job of telling the life story of a great American soldier.


Thomas Nelson has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for this review which I freely give.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Chocolate Diaries is meant to be savored

Much like chocolate is bittersweet, so is life. Karen Linamen reminds us that we cannot enjoy the sweet taste of chocolate, and of life, without experiencing some of the not-so-sweet moments. Ever eat a spoonful of cocoa? Yuck! But cocoa is the basis for chocolate.

The book will make you laugh and cry and sometimes both at the same time. I can relate to much of what Karen said and know that what she is writing comes from true life experience. Unfortunately, some of the best lessons in life are learned during tough times. Yet, what we learn through those tough times are often blessings in disguise.

With just 208 pages, this could be an easy read. To really process and appreciate this book, you need to savor it, much eating chocolate. Yes, I can put a hand full of M&M's in my mouth all at once, but it is more enjoyable to savor each one. Now, reading this book with a handful of chocolate is an even better idea!

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. I freely give my opinions in this review.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

unPlanned (DVD)

I had wanted to read unPlanned but was not able to get the book when it was available from Tyndale. Instead, I got the opportunity to view the DVD.

The story is amazing. Abby Johnson who first volunteered and eventually worked her way up the corporate ladder to run a Planned Parenthood center, tells her amazing story. After a change of heart, she jumped the fence and began to work for The Coalition for Life center down the street. Watch the trailer here.

I grew up at the same time as she did and realized that if not for the grace of God go I. She just wanted to be a part of something bigger than herself and believed the rhetoric. I grew up thinking that I could be pro-life and pro-choice, but that is just not possible, and Abby is an example of someone who thought she could straddle the fence until truth hit her square in the face.

There was something about the DVD that bothered me. The background music was constant and sometimes too loud. It became foreground music and distracted from the narration.

If you are interested in the free webcast featuring Abby Johnson that will benefit pregnancy care organizations clip here and sign up to participate in the webcast on May 17th at 8PM.



Tyndale has provided me with a free copy of this DVD in exchange for my review which I freely give.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Leaving

Leaving is the first book in the "Bailey Flanigan Series"; however, it really is the 19th book in the series that started with Redemption 10 years ago. I have been reading these books since the beginning as well as all the other stand alone books by Karen Kingsbury.

This work of fiction is not much different than any of its predecessors. It was neither exciting nor was it boring. It was much like all that I have read from this author. There is drama, dilemma, and decision, and I think I may have stumbled about the titles for her next series.

Throughout the book, Bailey is struggling with her relationship, or lack thereof, with Cody. He has not called her since January since she told him "I love you." He loves her, too, but feels the need to distance himself. The storyline is of Bailey waiting for Cody and Cody conflicted about not contacting Bailey. Since the next 2 books in this series (Learning and Longing) are due out this year, I already knew that Bailey and Cody would not be together at the end of the book. So I read hoping for some sort of dramatic event that separates them. Instead, nothing really happens other than normal life.

The Baxter family are still a major part of these books. Ashley and Landon have a pretty big storyline in this book, but there is no conclusion to their story either. I am not enjoying these books like I once was. They are nice and sweet, but I guess I can only take so much saccharin sweet before I need something with substance.


Zondervan has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for my review which I freely give.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Nick of Time

This was the first book I ever read by Tim Downs, but it will not be my last. I thoroughly enjoyed Nick of Time as I followed the story of Nick Polchak, expert entomologist, as he solves another cold case. Nick's character is a cross between Abby in NCIS and Dr. Brennan in Bones. He is brilliant and focused but often at the detriment of his personal relationship such as the one with his new fiance, Alena.

There was never a dull moment in the story. I rarely stopped reading when I got to the end of the chapter but kept reading until I had to stop because dinner was ready, the light turned green, etc. I am trying to say this was a page-turner without using that old cliche. I guess it's too late. Anyhow, it was a fun book to read.

I so did not expect the ending. I actually said "Drat!" when I finished reading.

Thomas Nelson provides me a free copy of this book in exchange for my review which I freely give.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

When God Created My Toes

I have not reviewed a children's book in a while, and I am glad for the chance to review this one.

The book has a simple message but one that we all need. God created us, and we are wonderfully made when He created our toes and our nose. This delightful book reinforces the fact that God created us and He enjoys His creation.

The pictures are adorable. Even my husband commented on the illustrations.

This is a great book for any child, but especially a little girl. The main character in the illustrations is a young girl. Also, our daughters and our nieces and our young friends need to be reminded that God made us and what God made is good, very good. Get this book to share with any young girl in your life.

Waterbrook has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for this review which I freely give.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World

I was so excited to review this book as I am planning my first trip to Disney World as an adult. I have not gone in 28 years (since EPCOT first opened) so I have been reading and researching to prepare for my visit.

First of all, this is not the book to help you plan your day or give you ideas on how to best plan your trip; however, this is the book to give you a greater appreciation for the Imagineers and all the little details that really do matter. There are so many great secrets and surprises to find. I have tagged many pages in the book so that when I am at Disney I will get to seee things I have read about. It is almost like a treasure hunt where each treasure is its own reward.

The book is divided into 4 parts: Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. It would be fun to read each section the night before you visit that park. Depending on where you stay, you could read the section on the way. That would make the trip go by faster especially for children.

Thomas Nelson has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for this review which I freely give.