Everyday Tidbits...

Be Kind. Do Good. Love is a Verb.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Live Relationally: Lessons from the Women of Genesis (Fresh Life Series)...Review

About the book:
Quick: name your favorite Bible character! Is it a woman? Chances are it's not, even though women are central to God's story-and His plan. Genesis alone is peopled with women who experience death, marriage, divorce, rape, and family tragedy. And if that sounds like something out of yesterday's headlines , it just goes to show that the Bible has a message for you-today.

In Live Relationally, you'll discover the vivid lessons and rich wisdom of Israel's founding mothers. From the complicated Tamar to the often oversimplified Eve, they are wives and mothers, slaves and owners, sinners and saints . and each woman's story will touch your heart.

Perfect for every age, appropriate for groups or individual study, and intended for today's on-the-go woman, the Fresh Life series of Bible studies requires just 20 minutes a day for a meaningful contemplation of God's Word.

About the authors:
Lenya Heitzig is an ECPA Gold Medallion Winner author and popular Bible teacher. After beginning her ministry as a single women's counselor with Youth With a Mission,Lenya married Skip and together they started Calvary of Albuquerque, one of the fast-growing churches in the country. The author of Holy Moments and coauthor of Pathways to God's Treasures,Lenya currently serves as Director of Women at Calvary, overseeing weekly Bible studies and yearly retreats. Lenya and Skip live in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Penny Pierce Rose is the author of A Garden of Friends and the coauthor of several Bible studies, including the Gold Medallion Winner, Pathway to God. A graduate of Texas Tech, Penny has served on the board of directors for the Southwest Women's Festival and develops Bible study curriculum for the women's programs at Calvary of Albuquerque. Penny and her family make their home in New Mexico.

Thanks to Audra Jennings at The B&B Media Group and David C. Cook for the opportunity to tour this book. You can purchase your own copy here.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mom NEEDS Chocolate: Hugs, Humor and Hope for Surviving Motherhood...Review

About the book:
Your spirit yearns to soar, but your feet—and faith—are stuck in the diaper-by-diaper mud of everyday responsibilities. How can you de-muck when you’re chronically exhausted and relentlessly robbed of abundant life by the joy-sucking dully-funks? Mom Needs Chocolate will help you get back in touch with rejuvenating joy and empowering faith! In mom-to-mom, smile-provoking style, humorist Debora M. Coty paints her offbeat picture of reality with a tangy twist, and offers outrageous coping tips, off-the-wall insights, sisterly hugs and warmencouragement.

With witty frankness and wild abandon, she tackles the highs and lows (and mediums) of marriage, the horror of embarrassing children, the defeat (and re-defeat) of depression, aging grossfully (er, gracefully), and a veritable grocery list of othermud-between-your-toes issues. You will glimpse the all-too-familiar in these hilarious and heartwarming stories, and remember how to hear God’s still, small voice above blathering kids, howling pets and snarling traffic!

A delightful little book full of wisdom and humor. I was not familiar with Debora M. Coty before picking up this book, but she's hysterical.

Debora uses humor and faith to offer encouragement and insight to those who often feel rundown and exhausted from our lives as mothers. Each short chapter covers a particular theme: Pregnancy, Repentance, Forgiveness, Motivation, Gratitude, Self-Image and Loving Your Neighbor (one of my favorites), to name a few. With quotes, scriptures, anecdotes and vignettes, you find yourself enlightened. A short, "Faith in Action" section at the end of each chapter gives you some food for thought and possible actions to improve this particular area of your life. Each chapter can stand alone, but together they will brighten your day.

This is the perfect book to leave in your purse. I read it over the course of a couple of days while I waited to pick up my son after school.

Thanks to First Wildcard and Rebeca Seitz of Glass Road Public Relations, LLC, for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Debora M. Coty here. You can read the first chapter here. You can purchase the book here.

Read 10/09

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Emmy's Equal...Review

About the book:
Get ready for a suspenseful romantic adventure deep in the heart of Texas. Emmy Dane doesn’t want to give up her petticoats and frills for boots and spurs when her family decides to take up ranching in South Texas. Diego Marcelo’s mother tells him God will soon deliver him from his loneliness—but he assures her he has no need of deliverance . . .that is, until Emmy disrupts the entire way of life at the ranch. Can Diego put his jealousy aside before time runs out? And will Emmy admit she’s found her match in the stubborn foreman?

After a slow start, this one picked up and was enjoyable. The characters were likeable and grow on you. Diego Marcelo is the strong, handsome, exotic ranch foreman who is like a second son to the ranch owner. He is also best friends with the owner's son Cuddy. When Emmy and her family arrive at the Twisted-R ranch for a visit, both men are immediately taken with her beauty. And, Emmy is the spoiled little girl who, predictably, grows up and wins the heart of Diego.

Diego's heritage is Hispanic and Native-American and the look into the differences in culture was interesting.

With cattle drives, prairie fires, rustlers and thieves, this South Texas adventure is somewhat predictable, but also entertaining and a nice diversion. It's an easy, Christian read. Not too preachy, but God is definitely a part of some of the characters' lives.

This is the third book in the Texas Fortunes series. I have not read the first two, and while having that back story is always nice, this stands alone well.

Thanks to First Wildcard and Angie Brillhart of Barbour Publishing for the opportunity to review this book. You can find out more about Marcia Gruver here. You can read the first chapter here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 10/09

* * *
3/5 Stars

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Jewel of His Heart...Review

About the book:
Their future is as wide open as the Montana sky. Juliana Brady is alone in an 1890s Montana mining town, with few prospects for making a living. But she is determined not to be dependent on the charity of others. Josh McBride is trying to scrape up a living from his sheep herd while he builds his ranch. But when he discovers some rare stones on his property, he's tempted by the prospect of fast money. When their paths cross, Juliana and Josh must make a choice--the world's riches and promises, or the eternal value of love.

As often happens, I'm going to be the reviewer who goes against the grain!

I will admit to being disappointed. While I think that this is a story with a lot of potential, it just wasn't for me. Oh, I liked it well enough, but it certainly didn't touch me or move me in any way. It's billed as a wonderful, tender romance, but it seemed to be missing the true spark that draws you in and makes you feel like you're a part of the story. Forced, is the word that comes to mind. I liked the characters, I didn't really connect with them, and I found some of the dialogue stilted and awkward. Juliana and Josh are likeable enough, and some of the supporting characters are colorful and flesh out the story a bit more.

The historical aspect of this era is fascinating. I had no idea that sapphires were mined in Montana. The author has some notes at the end of the novel that detail additional historical facts and clarify which ones are true in the story.

An easy, Christian read. The second in a series, it seems to stand alone well. I haven't read the first one, but it didn't seem to be a problem. I'm certain that Maggie Brendan fans and those who love historical novels will enjoy this one.

Available October 2009 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Thanks to Donna Hausler from the Baker Publishing Group for the opportunity to review this book. You can find out more about Maggie Brendan here. You can purchase the book here.

Read 10/09

* *
2/5 Stars

Monday, October 19, 2009

Love is a Battlefield...Review

About the book.
Take a walk in Shiloh National Military Park in this fun, fast-paced romance by Annalisa Daughety, a new voice in women’s contemporary fiction. Recent history has taught Kristy O’Neal not to believe in love or risk her heart. Ace Kennedy came to Shiloh to research his family history—but it’s Park Ranger Kristy he’s studying. Using his own ancestors as an example, can he prove that true love really does exist before Kristy walks away forever?

After being left, publicly, at the altar, Kristy returns to work as a park ranger, only to find her job already filled by a handsome stranger. She reluctantly accepts a seasonal position, and hopes that somehow, something permanent will show up before the end of the summer. Ace Kennedy is working as a park ranger in Kristy's job, but is really at the park to do research about his ancestors for a book he's writing. As he grows to care for Kristy, she learns to open her heart and trust again.

I enjoyed this. Although nothing stellar, it's simply an enjoyable, light read. Subplots could be distracting, but do add to the story and set up the next one. Christian, easily recommended.

My first reaction was that a military park makes an interesting setting for a romance novel. However, on the book's dedication page, the author thanks her former co-workers at Shiloh National Military Park, so her knowledge is first-hand. Since I've always loved National Parks though, I thought this was a fun behind-the-scenes story. The first of a series, the second follows next year, and is set at the Washington Monument.

Thanks to First Wildcard and Angie Brillhart of Barbour Publishing for the opportunity to review this book. You can find out more about Annalisa Daughtey here. You can read the first chapter here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 10/09

* * *
3/5 Stars

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Casting Off...Review

About the book:
Casting Off:

1. Ending a knitted work.
2. Releasing lines holding a boat to its mooring.
3. Letting go...

On a tiny island off the west coast of Ireland, the fishermen’s handmade sweaters tell a story. Each is unique—feelings stitched into rows, memories into patterns.

It is here that Rebecca Moray comes to research a book on Irish knitting. With her daughter, Rowan, accompanying her, she hopes to lose herself in the history of the island and forget her own painful past. Soon, the townsfolk’s warm embrace wraps Rebecca and Rowan in a world of friendship, laughter, and love.

And it is here that young Rowan befriends Sean Morahan, a cantankerous old fisherman, despite his attempts to scare her off. As Rebecca watches her daughter interact with Morahan, she recognizes in his eyes a look that speaks of a dark knowledge not unlike her own. And when current storms threaten to resurrect old ones, Morahan and Rebecca find themselves on a collision course—with Rowan caught between them—each buffeted by waves of regret and recrimination. Only by walking headfirst into the winds will they find the faith to forgive without forgetting…and reach the shore.

A thoroughly charming novel. I was a bit hesitant to read another book about knitting, because I haven't truly enjoyed those I've read in the past. However, this one is charming. Set in modern-day Ireland, on a small island off the coast, Rebecca's story unfolds like a ball of yarn: sometimes gently rolling and other times bouncing out of her control. Predictably, she comes to terms with her past and accepts her new future.

The people of the island become Rebecca's new family as they embrace her and Rowan. It is through their gentle love and acceptance that Rebecca is finally able to face the demons of her past and move forward. Sean's part of the story is more melodramatic, his regrets and the ghosts of his past, real.
But with Rowan's arrival on the island, old Sean finally faces his that past and is able to atone for his wrongdoings.

With themes of domestic abuse, regret and forgiveness, this is a sweet, gentle story. The characters, and the island itself, work their way into your heart. The fascinating history of Irish knitting and the fishermen sweaters is explored, with details about the patterns and their meanings to the families and fishermen of Ireland.

Thanks to Kaitlyn Kennedy from
Berkley/NAL, Penguin Group USA for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Nicole R. Dickson here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 10/09

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Friday, October 16, 2009

Bella's Private Diary...A Must Read!

If you want a good laugh, check out this link: The Private Diary of Bella Swan. Bella Swan in a nutshell, and all the melodrama of Twilight. Brilliant! Absolutely Brilliant!

The Last Word...Review

About the book:
When Vanessa Jessup returns home from her sophomore year of college, her mother, Sophie Trace Police Chief Brill Jessup, is stunned to see that she's pregnant-by one of her professors. While Brill is glad her middle daughter rejected the father's abortion ultimatum, she's also hurt that Vanessa ignored her upbringing and angry that the professor has disappeared without so much as a nickel of child support.

But that's not all Brill's got on her plate. One of her detectives has been killed, and the attacker has threatened to come for her next. When a second cop is wounded, public criticism mounts as Brill attempts to stay alive long enough to catch the perp. And she's trying to find that deadbeat dad, while Vanessa struggles to make decisions about her future.

The killer seems to be everywhere and nowhere. How can a police chief—and a mother—do her job with her life on the line? In a show of grace under pressure, Brill will manage to have the last word, even if it kills her.

Admittedly, I haven't read anything else by Kathy Herman, and this is the second in a trilogy. While it stands alone well, there are also many references to situations that I assume happened in the first novel.

It wasn't a difficult book to read, it just wasn't one that I found to be incredible or enthralling. I liked it well enough, and while I know the author was going for drama and suspense, much of the story seemed far-fetched to me. I could see it as some episode of a law enforcement show, actually. I also had a hard time relating to Brill, the main character. That could be because I haven't read the first book, and knowing her history could certainly endear her to readers. Emily's voice and thoughts seemed too old for her age. I also found the subplot of Vanessa running off all the time and meeting the "old man" in the park a bit strange, although I realize why the author put it into the book and how it tied into the story. It just seemed awkward and the whole thing wrapped up too neatly.

While I do think that, for the most part, some of the discussions between Vanessa and her parents regarding her pregnancy were realistic and accurate, I also found the story very preachy, to the point of lecturing.

I think that this is a book fans of Kathy Herman and Brill Jessup will love. I liked it well enough, it just didn't do much for me. I do recommend reading the books in order. A third book will follow next year and be more focused on Ethan's story.

Thanks to First Wildcard and Audra Jennings of The B&B Media Group for the opportunity to review this book. You can find out more about Kathy Herman here. You can read the first chapter here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 10/09

* *
2/5 Stars

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Call Me Francis Tucket...Review by the Boy

About the book:
Alone. Francis Tucket now feels more confident that he can handle almost anything. A year ago, on the wagon train, he was kidnapped from his family by a Pawnee hunting party. Then he escaped with the help of the mountain man, Mr. Grimes. Now that he and Mr. Grimes have parted ways, Francis is heading west on his Indian pony, crossing the endless prairie, trying to find his family.

After a year with Mr. Grimes, Francis has learned to live by the harsh code of the wilderness. He can cause a stampede, survive his own mistakes, and face up to desperadoes. But when he rescues a little girl and her younger brother, Francis takes on more than he bargained for.

Another terrific review from E, my avid 11-year old reader. He dictated it so, for the most part, these are his words.
At the end of the first book, Francis' friend, Mr. Grimes has killed a famous Pawnee Warrior, named Raid, in a fight. (Raid was going to kill Mr. Grimes anyway.) Francis is mad that Mr. Grimes killed the Indian and goes off on his own. Francis learns that he doesn’t want to be mountain man like Mr. Grimes.

Francis heads to Oregon to find his family. When he is hunting, he finds two kids named Lottie and Billy. They were part of a different wagon train and their dad got Cholera and they had to go off on their own. Their dad when looking for food and never came back, because he died. Francis actually finds his body.

Francis takes the kids with him, but it's hard for him to take care of them. They meet a farmer who offers to keep Lottie and Billy, so they can work for him. They thought he was a nice man and wanted to stay. Francis offers to stay, but the man says he doesn't need his help. After Francis leaves, he realizes that the man probably wasn't very nice. When he goes back to get them, he finds out that the man was beating Lottie and Billy, because they weren't working hard enough. Francis takes the kids away again.

They can't go straight to Oregon from Louisiana, so they take a different route and end up in Mexico, and almost get hanged by a Mexican border chief. A nice guard lets them go free and that's how this story ends.

This is book 2 in a five book series. This was a really good book. It was exciting, with never a dull moment, just like the first one.
Personal copy.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Mr. Tucket...Review by the Boy

About the book:
Fourteen-year-old Francis Tucket is heading west on the Oregon Trail with his family by wagon train. When he receives a rifle for his birthday, he is thrilled that is being treated like an adult. But Francis lags behind to practice shooting and is captured by Pawnees. It will take wild horses, hostile tribes, and a mysterious one-armed mountain man named Mr. Grimes to help Francis become the man who will be called Mr. Tucket.

Another review from E, my avid 11-year old reader. He dictated it so, for the most part, these are his words.

Francis Tucket and his family are traveling on the Oregon Trail, with a wagon train, to their new home in Oregon. Francis' father gives him a Lancaster rifle for his birthday. Francis goes out to shoot, when he gets captured by Pawnee Indians. The Indians take him to their camp. An old Indian woman makes Francis her slave.

A trader named Mr. Grimes comes to the camp and helps Francis escape. Francis decides to go on an adventure with Mr. Grimes. Mr. Grimes teaches Francis how to survive in the wilderness and how to trap beavers.

The book is exciting and interesting. It's not scary but there is never a dull moment. This is the first book in a 5 book series about Francis Tucket.
Personal copy.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Doctor Who; The Darksmith Legacy, Book 1: The Dust of Ages...Review by the Boy

About the book:
The Doctor arrives just in time to lend a helping hand to a survey team of scientists drilling beneath the Moon's surface to discover the cause of an unusual power source. The adventure continues with deadly lunar dust and a Crystal that has been lost for centuries...Unfortunately it's just what the Darksmiths have been looking for and they have dispatched an Agent to recover it. At any cost.

This amazing ten-book series follows the Doctor on his exciting journey to discover the origins of the so-called Eternity Crystal and the powerful artisans who have created it — The Darksmiths.

This review is from E, my avid 11-year old reader. He dictated it so, for the most part, these are his words.
A phenomenal book! One of the best I’VE READ. Justin Richards is an awesome writer.

A mysterious signal causes the Doctor to land on the moon. There he meets Bobby, an archaeologist; Professor Dollund, who is in charge of the base; and Clinton Seymour, the chief technician. These people have found a new, unknown power source and the Doctor goes with them to find out more about it. Along the way they discover a dust that can kill and an evil agent sent from the people called, The Darksmiths.

The book is complicated like the episodes, like when the Doctor talks 90 miles an hour and then looks at you strangely when you don't understand him!

This is the first book and there are 10 books in the series. I can't wait to read the rest!
Personal copy.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Missing...Review

About the book:
Readers anxiously await the second book in this moving series filled with mystery and family secrets, love and loss, heartbreak and healing. Twenty-one-year-old Grace Byler longs to find her missing mother and to uncover the secret that drove her to leave them three weeks before. Grace suspects the reason has to do with her father and his reserved, uncommunicative ways. This conviction led Grace to break off her betrothal to her quiet, staid beau, and she is now resigned to remain single. But when the young Amishman she thought was courting her best friend takes a sudden interest in her, Grace is befuddled and wonders if he can be trusted. "Englisher" Heather Lang has come to Amish country to relive fond memories of her mother and to contemplate a grave medical prognosis of her own. While in Bird-in-Hand, Heather meets Grace Byler and the two young women strike up a fast friendship, amazed by how well they click. Following the only clue they have, Grace and Heather travel together in hopes of finding Grace's mother and bringing her home. Will they find what they're looking for...or something much more?

The second novel in Beverly Lewis' Seasons of Grace series, it picks up almost immediately where The Secret leaves off. I enjoyed this one a lot more than I did the first one.

Grace Byler's mother has been missing for several weeks and as the family tries to continue with their lives, they wonder at her reasons for leaving and hope for her return. As Grace begins to piece together the few clues she has about why her mother left, she simply finds more questions. When the young man she thought liked her best friend Becky, suddenly transfers his interest to her, she's reluctant to accept his advances. Taking care of her family and wishing to search for her mother are her most important priorities.

Her friendship with Heather, the young Englisher deepens and the two young women are able to help each other. Heather finally tells her father about her illness and he, understandably, wants her to take the traditional course of treatment, not an alternative one.

As Lettie searches for her own answers, away from her family, her husband Judah searches for his own at home. He suspects that his in-laws have the answers, but they aren't forthcoming.

This is a compelling story. The characters are well-developed and easy to care about. It is also, obviously, a link in the trilogy. Nothing is really resolved and more questions arise than are answered. Little clues are planted that hint at the discoveries to come. I think I have things figured out, but await the next book for confirmation!

An easy, enjoyable read. I read it in an afternoon. You can find your own copy here.

Thanks to my local library for having a copy I could borrow.

Read 10/09

* * *
3/5 Stars

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Make-Ahead Meals for Busy Moms Cookbook...Review

About the book:
Make Ahead meals are not just for Moms who work outside of the home. It's a way of cooking that helps all families, big and small. It all comes down to a little planning. Make a meal or two in advance when you have some extra time. Then you'll be rewarded with quick, delicious home-cooked meals when you really need them!

I really liked the layout of the book: each section is alphabetical, which makes it easy to find a recipe you want. All the recipes feature ingredients you probably already have in your pantry, which is something important to me, especially if I'm not planning ahead. The directions include bold highlighting to show what needs to/can be done a day ahead. While many of the recipes can be made ahead of time, they don't need to be. These are recipes you can simply make on the spot, but you have the option of freezing.

There are no photos, but the book is easy to read. I would have loved it to have a spiral binding so it would lay completely flat, but once open, there wasn't any flipping of pages, so it worked.

I think this would be a terrific, all-around cookbook for anyone, especially cooks looking for some good, go-to recipes.

Thanks to Tracee at Pump Up Your Book Promotion for the opportunity to review this book. You can find out more about Jane Doiron here. You can find additional reviews of this book, and additional tour stops here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 9/09

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Monday, October 5, 2009

Blog Reader Overload

I have over 1000+ posts in my Google Reader. There is no way I can read every single one, let alone comment. Sigh...

Confession: sometimes I just mark everything as read and start over. Will any of you commiserate with me and tell me that you do the same thing? Please...

Or is my post one of your 1000+ too...

Mailbox Monday 10/5

It's time for another Mailbox Monday, hosted by Marcia at the Printed Page.

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week (checked out library books don’t count, eBooks & audio books do). Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

This is what arrived in my mailbox this last week!

The Last Word, by Kathy Herman
The Blue Umbrella, by Mike Mason
Emmy's Equal, by Marcia Gruver

Love is a Battlefield, by Annalisa Daughety
The Love Revolution, by Joyce Meyer
What new books did you receive last week?
For more Mailbox Monday posts, check out The Printed Page.

Piece de Resistance...Review

About the book:
Having earned her chef’s hat, Lexi Stuart bids au revoir to her glamorous and deliciously satisfying pastry mentorship outside of Paris and returns to her hometown of Seattle, Washington. There, she finds life unexpectedly complicated.

She’s put in charge of a high-end catering bakery called
Bijoux, which should be her dream job, but there’s a catch: She has to make this lavish bakery into a successful business in just a few, short months, which will require more than her ability to make an amazing wedding cake. In over her head and at a loss for creative marketing ideas, Lexi isn’t sure what the recipe for success needs to be.

Stir in a complicated relationship with her French
beau Philippe and his daughter, Celine, then add a dash of romance with down-to-earth lawyer Dan, and life suddenly contains more ooh la la than Lexi can handle.

With the fate of her career and her love life hanging by a thread, the phrase “piece of cake” has never been more daunting. Lexi learns that she must trust the dreams in her heart and the God who put them there.

The third in the French Twist series. I enjoyed the first one, Let Them Eat Cake, but found it very light. I haven't found a copy of the second one, Bon Appetit to read yet.

This one was a lot of fun and I enjoyed it much more than the first one. While I think that reading all of them in order is probably a good idea, my not reading the second one didn't detract too much from the story. Having the back history of Lexi's experience in Paris would have been helpful, but the story moved along well without it.

Lexi Stuart has returned from her apprenticeship in Paris and is managing Bijoux, a high-end catering bakery in Seattle owned by the Delacroix family. Lexi is given a few short months to make the bakery a successful business. As she learns the ins and outs of managing a bakery, Lexi also learns the ins and outs of personal romance. Her interest in Philippe hasn't waned and he has come to America with his daughter, but when she starts seeing Dan again, she must soon make a choice.

Lexi has grown up since the first novel. I enjoyed seeing more depth to her as she makes decisions and has experiences that change her. Her faith in God is stronger and more a definite part of her life, not just something casual.

I loved the inclusion of some of Lexi's recipes. An enjoyable, Christian read. Light but not fluffy. Easily recommended.

Thanks for First Wildcard and Staci Carmichael at Random House for the opportunity to review this book. You can find out more about Sandra Byrd here. You can read the first chapter here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 9/09

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Intimate Conversations: Devotions to Nurture a Woman's Soul...Review

About the book:
All women need strong relationships to sustain them. But the one relationship that often gets forgotten in the craziness of everyday life is the most important one of all--the one they have with God. This thoughtful devotional will lead women on a gentle, encouraging, and accessible journey toward a deeper, more satisfying relationship with God--one that is fueled by his grace and does not flounder with our imperfection or exhaustion. In each of these 52 devotions, Chole addresses real life issues that all women deal with. She includes Scripture and questions for reflective prayer or journaling. Whether moms, daughters, sisters, or wives, women at all points in their journey will cherish how these meditations draw them closer to God in the midst of untidy real life.

I thought this was a delightful little book. It shares 52 devotions, with themes that cover, among others: time, faith, trials, disappointment, family, love, and truth. Each devotion is short and includes vignettes, scriptures and thoughts to ponder.

It easily fits into a purse and these devotions are short enough to read while waiting in a car for your children, or long enough to ponder while sitting at home with a cup of cocoa. I found it thought-provoking and relevant to my life as a busy mom.

Thanks to Donna Hausler from the Baker Publishing Group for the opportunity to review this book. You can find out more about Alicia Britt Chole here. You can purchase the book here.

Read 9/09

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Friday, October 2, 2009

Abide With Me...Review

About the book:
Vividly portrays the inspiration and history of twenty-five of the most popular hymns. It Highlights the faithful work of twenty composers, like John Newton, Henry Lyte, and Sarah Flowers Adams.

These beloved British hymns - and the others whose stories are presented in this stunning collection - are the songs that have inspired and comforted worshippers for over three hundred years. The sites where they were composed - brilliantly captured by internationally-acclaimed Irish photographer Paul Seawright and described by American writer and literary scholar John Parker - are presented here, many for the first time. You will be able to see and experience the settings that produced the Church's most magnificent hymns. Join us in this photographic journey across England and Wales as we highlight the places that gave birth to Christianity's most inspiring and unforgettable music.

Includes a free 24-song CD featuring beloved hymns, performed by Ray Walker of the Jordanaires and other artists.

A gorgeous book that shares the stories of how and where some of Christianity's favorite hymns were written. The photographs of England and Wales are breathtaking. It's a beautiful coffee table-type book and one that I have enjoyed reading and perusing on many a Sunday morning as I wait to go to church.

The CD that is included is wonderful. Ray Walker's version of Amazing Grace gives me chills and the choral version of Abide with Me is simply stunning.

My only complaint is that I wish the captions were included with each photo. There is a listing of photo captions at the back of the book, but I wish that each photo was captioned on its page. This is a beautiful addition to any music lover's library.

Thanks to First Wildcard and Robert Parris of New Leaf Publishing Group for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about the authors and book here. You can read the first chapter here. You can purchase your own copy of this beautiful book here.

Read 9/09

* * * * *
5/5 Stars

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Guardian of the Flame...Review

About the book:
Guardian of the Flame is book three in the Seven Wonders series of novels transporting readers back to the Ancient World. Characters struggle to find meaning in a pagan society and are confronted by the one true God and His message of redemption. The year is 48 BC. Sophia, a woman hurt by past loss, guards the famous lighthouse of Alexandria, Egypt, in order to hide herself away from a world she deems cruel and unloving. But there is no escape. Political turmoil swells as Roman general Julius Caesar and his legion storm the city, and Cleopatra, Greek queen of Egypt , fights to retain her country against both Caesar and bloodthirsty rivals within her own household. Sophia is caught in the middle between a loyalty to Cleopatra and her maddening interest in Bellus, the Roman soldier whom Caesar has instructed to overtake the lighthouse.

I am fascinated by, but not very familiar with the history of the Ancient World. I wish I'd paid more attention in my Humanities World History classes in college! I was also not familiar with Tracy Higley's Seven Wonders series, but I intend to seek out the first two books.

Sophia is a strong, educated woman who has dedicated her life to keeping the lighthouse flame lit. Her sorrows and losses have kept her inside the lighthouse and away from the rest of the world. Her joys come from learning and the preservation of knowledge. Cleopatra was once her student. The city scholars are her family and the great library receives her patronage.

When Julius Caesar invades Egypt and war erupts, Sophia's life and all she knows is threatened. When a roman soldier breaches not only the lighthouse's defenses but her own as well, Sophia's own hardened heart is forced to soften.

This was a fascinating novel. It started a bit slowly for me, and it took a couple of chapters to work out all the characters, but the compelling story moves along well. It was an enjoyable, enthralling read. I look forward to not only reading the first two books, but also reading more from Tracy Higley. Her website is full of information about the book, about Alexandria and explains which aspects of the story are fiction and which are based on fact.

Thanks to First Wildcard and the author for the opportunity to review this book. You can find out more about T.L. Higley here. You can read the first chapter here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 9/09

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3/5 Stars