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Be Kind. Do Good. Love is a Verb.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Fix-It and Forget-It...Review

About the book:
The book has already sold more than 5 million copies, so we didn't want to spoil it! We have only added a few enhancements to this original cookbook in the wildly claimed Fix-It and Forget-It cookbook series:

Brand New: 100 new recipes for slow cookers.
Brand New: "Prep Time," "Cooking Time," and "Ideal Slow-Cooker Size" are included for each recipe.
Brand New: 4 pages of basic and very helpful "Extra Information"

* "Substitute Ingredients for When You're in a Pinch"
* "Equivalent Measurements"
* "Kitchen Tools and Equipment You May Have Overlooked"
* "Assumptions about Ingredients in Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook, Revised and Updated"

Brand New: 1 page of "Tips for Using Your Slow Cooker: a Friendly, Year-Round Appliance."
Brand New: Additional tips and tricks for making the most of your slow cooker, spread throughout the book.
Brand New: A second color -- a rich purple -- for recipe titles, contributors' names and addresses, the words "Tip" and "Variation," and the numbered instruction steps.
Brand New: The drawings on the opening pages of chapters and the spot illustrations throughout.
Brand New: 1 page of tip-in color, right inside the front cover.
Brand New: 2 pages of review excerpts to position the original book's success, immediately following the tip-in page of color.

Revised: An improved Index!
Revised: A personal Introduction to the book by author Phyllis Pellman Good.
Revised: Good's personal comments and voice throughout the recipes.

We've learned a lot since the original
Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook first quietly appeared. Now you and your customers can benefit with this new edition of the beloved favorite -- Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook REVISED and UPDATED!

Tons of recipes for just about any dish or ingredient you could envision.  With three recipes to a page, this book is packed.  The author also includes tips, equivalent measurements and substitute ingredients. None of these recipes are fancy or gourmet, but all are easy and meals that everyday people would enjoy.  A great book to start with, or just to revitalize your current crock pot recipes.

As is my request of all cookbooks, I would have loved a spiral binding and more photos!  This would be a great gift for a new bride, especially when accompanied by a slow cooker.

Thanks to FSB Associates for the opportunity to review this book.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 5/10

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Mailbox...Review

About the book:
Can a simple mailbox reunite two wounded souls?

A rural mailbox stands alone on an isolated North Carolina beach, and within its unobtrusive confines lay the hopes and dreams, the heartaches and joys of countless strangers. Tending the lone mailbox on this deserted beach is an anonymous reader called the Kindred Spirit…drawing hearts toward healing and hope. Marybeth Whalen's debut novel,
The Mailbox, is set around this real-life landmark. She explores the possibility that this isolated and mysterious message center can reunite two people who have been separated by a lifetime of regret and confusion. Because of the mailbox, second chances arise in the face of painful loss, and the promise that enduring love and faith can overcome the destruction of long-kept secrets rings true.

Lindsey Adams begins her visits to the Kindred Spirit mailbox as a young teen. There, she finds her first love, Campbell Forrester. But twenty years later, she returns to the beach as a woman whose husband, Grant, has divorced her after a string of infidelities. Remembering her first love, and wondering whatever became of Campbell, Lindsey allows the salty beach air to reengage her sense of hope. She begins to imagine that Campbell might not be long lost after all.

Meanwhile, Campbell faces his own hardships—including his broken relationship with his daughter and his longing to undo his inadequacies as a father. When Campbell learns that Lindsey has returned to the beach, he cannot help but feel hopeful that he may discover love again.

Whalen's heartfelt and freshly evoked story explores how memories—and good-old-fashioned, hand-written letters—can not only haunt us, but also can heal us. She explores the memories of first romance while also taking a look at painful life circumstances. Marriage, parenting, and personal integrity are brought into focus in this edgy romance, as is the struggle to come to terms with God's love for us and His plan for our lives. Using letters from the Kindred Spirit mailbox, Whalen delves into the hearts of two people who truly desire to experience the transformation of enduring love.

Loved, loved, loved this novel.  I love the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  It's been far too many years since I was there, but I have very fond, warm memories of spending time on Okracoke and Cape Hatteras.  So, the North Carolina beach setting of this story was appealing to me.  I've never been to Sunset Beach, which is south, near the North/South Carolina border, but I certainly want to go now.  I want to visit the Kindred Spirit mailbox, which is a real mailbox on Bird Island.

The story is told through narration and letters spanning a period of 20 years.  Lindsey and Campbell are the classic teen summer romance separated by choices and time.  Reunited once again, they each have baggage and issues to work through with ex-spouses and angry, hurt children.  But, both also learn that God knows and loves them and they each realize they've been given a second chance at love.  

The description of the mailbox and the real person who secretly cares for it and keeps the letters was fascinating.  I know nothing about the real mailbox or if there is a person who retrieves the letters and keeps it stocked with writing supplies.  I almost hope so, because it seems like such a tender, sweet thing to do.

I would have loved more exploration about Nikki's history, which is something she hints at with her father, but is something we never learn. 

In many ways, this should simply be a sappy Nicholas Sparks-esque piece of drivel.  But, instead, it's a thoughtful, heartwarming, well written story.  I'd say it's a terrific debut novel and I look forward to many more from Marybeth Whalen.

Thanks to First Wildcard, David C. Cook Publishing, and Audra Jennings of the B&B Media Group for the opportunity to review this book.  You can read the first chapter here.  You can learn more about Marybeth Whalen here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 6/10

* * * * *
5/5 Stars

Monday, June 28, 2010

West to the Sun...Review

About the book:
In his new historical adventure novel, West to the Sun, author T.G. Good portrays for his juvenile audience the pioneering spirit in America's past and shows the sacrifices that made America great and the struggles that any people go through to learn the value of family, friends and faith.

Accompanied by a long line of adventurers, some rich, some poor, some in wagons, some pushing carts, some just walking, the Jedediah Symons family makes its way across the country to Oregon in the 1800's. They battle disease, hunger and wild animals and through it all eleven year old Jeremiah Symons continually asks himself what he can do to help his family reach Oregon, their new home.

The trek along the Oregon Trail is one of the largest migrations of American people and in some ways defines the American spirit of adventure. From the daily drudgery of walking mile after mile to the excitement of buffalo hunts, to the thrill of seeing mountains reaching the sky, and bighorn sheep battling for primacy, young Jeremiah experiences a different learns what it means to be a man.

Author T.G. Good offers this fictional tribute to the spirit of individuals willing to leave behind a known life to build a new home in the American West. Concerned that there has been too much recent emphasis on the negatives of American history, Good hopes to present to his youthful audience the essentially positive nature of the American spirit.

"Although our national history is not one of total purity," Good acknowledges, he wants to show people like the Symons family who lived their values and followed their dreams because families like this show the best of the human spirit.

Told from the perspective of young Jeremiah Symons, West to the Sun, is a fascinating look at the western migration. His family's trip isn't without tragedy and trial but Jeremiah learns about faith and family and hard work. Jeremiah is a great kid and I think a lot of boys would relate to his voice.  There are some laugh-out-loud funny parts as he deals with some of the other, more obnoxious boys also on the wagon train.

The Symon's family's faith is an integral part of their lives and so the novel is Christian in nature.  While Jeremiah often sounds older than his 11 years and the narration is somewhat formal in dialogue, the story flows well, with a terrific historical aspect and research.  I anxiously awaited and recognized their their arrival in Idaho.

As the Symon's wagon train comes upon a Mormon wagon train, I appreciated Jedidiah's explanation to his son that while he disagreed with the Mormon faith, he didn't approve of the persecutions they received.

While geared to pre-teen boys, girls and adults will enjoy this novel.  It's easy to read and fascinating from a historical perspective.  With vivid descriptions, this is a well researched story and would be a great book to read aloud with your children. 

Thanks to the author and Bostick Communications for the opportunity to review this book.  You can purchase your own copy here.  When the boy gets around to finally reading it, his review will be posted too.

Read 6/10

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Misconception: One Couple's Journey from Embryo Mix-Up to Miracle Baby...Review

About the book:
In February of 2009, Shannon and Paul Morell were especially eager to bring a new life into the world. After years of infertility and miscarriages they had, in 2006, finally scrimped and saved enough to have in vitro fertilization. The result? Two dear daughters had been born, and six precious embryos had been frozen. 

They counted the days until they could transfer the six remaining embryos. Until the fateful day of February 17, 2009, when the clinic called. “The doctor would like to you to come in today?” Shannon writes, “Face to face with the doctor, I noticed that his face was gravely serious. 'There's been a terrible incident in our lab,' he said. 'Your embryos have been thawed.' A pause, as we both exchanged disbelieving looks, and he went on...'Your embryos have been transferred into another woman.'"   

The Morells have a story to tell. A cautionary tale of medical errors, unexpected miracles, sincere mourning, and grateful bonding with their son. Amazingly, theirs is also a story of joy-filled thanksgiving... a story of life: life that is precious, sacred, and treasured. 

Shannon and Paul's story is a straight-forward and honest commentary about their experience.  I've seen mixed reviews about it and reviewers commenting that the book is poorly written and all Shannon does is complain. I simply thought that it was one family's honest account of their difficult experience. I also think this story is one that you truly cannot understand unless you live it.  I can only imagine how I would feel.

The Morells share their IVF experience with conceiving their twin daughters and how they planned for future children by freezing their remaining embryos.  A week before the planned appointment to being IVF the second time, they were told by their doctor that their embryos had been thawed and mistakenly implanted into another woman.

I remember seeing this story in the media and being shocked.  I realize that no one is infallible, but I can't imagine a mistake on this level.  My disappointment in this book is that there is no information about the consequences for the fertility clinic.  There should be severe consequences for the clinic.  The portrayal of their doctor is that he was rather cavalier, even while being apologetic, and that the clinic kept trying to get them to come back for more IVF.   

This is a really fast read, and an interesting one. The Morells talk a lot about their Christian belief and view of IVF and include many references at the end.  I did find Shannon to be somewhat self-centered. Everything was about her and she showed very little concern for the Savage's feelings.

I'd love to read Sean and Carolyn Savage's story, if they ever choose to write about it.  I think they must be incredibly selfless people to put aside their own disappointment and carry this child for someone else.

Thanks to my local library for having a copy I could borrow.  You can purchase your own here.

Read 6/10

* * *
3/5 Stars

Friday, June 25, 2010

Love Finds You in Lonesome Prairie, Montana...Review

About the book:
Julia Cavanaugh has never left New York City. But in 1890, the young woman must head west to ensure that the orphans under her care are settled into good families. After her final stop in Montana, she plans to head straight back east. But upon arriving in the remote town of Lonesome Prairie, Julia learns to her horror that she is also supposed to be delivered into the hands of an uncouth miner who carries a bill of purchase for his new bride. She turns to a respected circuit preacher to protect her from a forced marriage but with no return fare and few friends, Julia's options are bleak. What is God's plan for her in the middle of the vast Montana prairie?

A light Christian romance, set in the late 19th century.  Julia is a little too perfect, other characters are annoying and the plot is predictable.  It's full of mix-ups, accidental shootings, a bad guy, the lovely newcomer and the preacher.  The orphan trains have always fascinated me and this account is interesting.   Those who like the Love Finds You series, will enjoy this.  This one is perfect when you want something light to read.  It's a sweet diversion, nothing special. 

This is the first Love Finds You book I've read, but the series seems to be quite popular.

Thanks to First Wildcard and LitFuse Publicity for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Tricia Goyer here. You can read the first chapter here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

 Read 6/10

* * *
3/5 Stars

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Doctor Who: The Krillitane Storm...Review

About the book:
When the TARDIS materializes in medieval Worcester, the Doctor finds the city seemingly deserted. He soon discovers its population are living in a state of terror, afraid to leave their homes after dark, for fear of meeting their doom at the hands of the legendary Devil's Huntsman. And, after a terrifying encounter with a deadly Krillitane, the Doctor realizes the city has good reason to be scared!

A good follow-up to the series two episode School Reunion, which introduced us to the Krillitanes.  This one is set in medieval England, rather than current day.  With Krillitanes, bounty hunters, medieval soldiers and amoral fortune hunters, the Doctor finds himself on another grand adventure.  All we're missing is K-9 and Sarah Jane!  As it is his way, the Doctor always attempts to reason with the enemy and here, he manages to work with most of the Krillitanes at first to find a solution to the issues at hand. 

I liked this one, although it was much more serious than funny.  It's also got an incredibly high body count.

Thanks to my local bookstore for having a copy I could buy for the boy.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 6/10

* * *
3/5 Stars

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Love on a Dime...Review

About the book:
Turn of the century novelist Lilly Westbrook learns that being faithful to her calling means more than just putting pen to paper.

It's the summer of 1899 in Newport, Rhode Island, and Lilly Westbrook is struggling to conceal her career from family and friends because of the stigma attached to dime novels. Lilly feels good about her secret-after all, she's enlightening working class girls with her books and honoring God by using her talents to His glory.

But her secret is threatened when Jackson Grail, a former suitor, becomes Lilly's new publisher. He's determined to revive his floundering publishing house by maximizing their most promising--and most secretive--author. His plan? Find "Fannie Cole" and convince her to go public.

When a gossip columnist discovers Lilly's true identity, she finds that being faithful to her calling involves more than just putting pen to paper. It requires that she stand up for her faith and for herself, no matter the consequences.

A charming, light summer read.  Lilly is a delightful young heroine who feels called by God to write stories.  For a young woman of her class and privilege, however, means that working at all, let alone writing dime store novels is unacceptable.  Lilly write anonymously, but when an unscrupulous gossip magazine threatens to reveal her identity, she's torn with what to do.

An interesting commentary of the time: it's the late nineteenth century, and high society is summering at the coast.  I have always found the rigid adherence to a strict code of conduct to be fascinating, especially when it is at the expense of people and friendship.  Lilly longs for something other than a life of looking pretty and visiting with women in order to gossip and discuss others.  Jack is a dashing, unlikely hero and, like Lilly, desires to do what God wants.

A fine debut novel.  Light, but not too fluffy.  An enjoyable diversion and easily recommended.  The first in a series, I look forward to the rest.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson Publishers for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Cara Lynn James here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 6/10

* * *
3/5 Stars

Doctor Who: Autonomy...Review

About the book:
Hyperville is 2013's top hi-tech 24-hour entertainment complexa sprawling palace of fun under one massive roof. You can shop, or experience the excitement of Doomcastle, Winterland, or Wild West World. But things are about to get a lot more exciting—and dangerous...

What unspeakable horror is lurking on Level Zero of Hyperville? And what will happen when the entire complex goes over to Central Computer Control?

For years, the Nestene Consciousness has been waiting and planning, recovering from its wounds. But now it's ready, and its deadly plastic Autons are already in place around the complex. Now more than ever, visiting Hyperville will be an unforgettable experience...

Daniel Blythe completely captures the essence of David Tennant's 10th doctor.  In the not so far away future, the Doctor encounters the Nestene Consciousness again as it attempts to take over the earth.  We see the Autons in a different light as they have evolved in ways the Doctor never imagined.

As he attempts to stop the Nestene Consciousness, the Doctor encounters an odd assortment of allies.  Kate would've made an awesome companion and Chantelle was refreshing as the bright, intelligent teenager who figures out how to stop the Autons.

Simply put, this is a run romp with the Doctor.   I think any Doctor Who fan would enjoy it. It's a fast, easy read.  I finished most of it sitting by the pool while my kids played.

Thanks to my local bookstore for having a copy I could purchase for the boy.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 6/10

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Monday, June 21, 2010


About the book:
Sixth-century Scotland—in the time of Arthur….

“The Gowrys’ seed shall divide your mighty house and bring a peace beyond the ken of your wicked soul.”

Her mother’s dying prophecy to the chieftain Tarlach O’Byrne sentenced Brenna of Gowrys to twenty years of hiding. Twenty years of being hunted—by the O’Byrnes, who fear the prophecy, and by her kinsmen, who expect her to lead them against their oppressors. But Brenna is a trained and gifted healer, not a warrior queen. So she lives alone in the wilderness with only her pet wolf for company. When she rescues a man badly wounded from an ambush, she believes he may be the answer to her deep loneliness. Healing him comes as easy as loving him. But can their love overcome years of bitterness and greed…and bring peace and renewed faith to the shattered kingdom?

Fascinating.  Absolutely fascinating.

Brenna is an unlikely heroine and one who, at times, seems a little too good and perfect. Her history is marked by murder and she lives in hiding, but she is raised in the Christian faith and grows up strong and capable, with a heart full of love for all things and people.  As she nurses Ronan O'Byrne, the last thing she imagines is falling in love with him.  But, having inherited her mother's healing abilities as well as her ability to see into the future, Brenna also knows what is to come and that she and Ronan have the potential to unite their warring clans.  Together they uncover mystery and intrigue as they attempt to persuade his father Tarlach to see reason.

I loved the interweaving of Arthurian legend with the early beginnings of the Christian church and pagan traditions in Celtic Scotland. The use of herbal healing or nature magic was interesting as it was used for both good and bad, often accompanying dark magic. Windsor's research is exhaustive and there is an extensive bibliography at the end of the book, as well as extensive notes.

A bit medieval and Lord of the Rings-ish, this was a compelling story and one I had hard time putting down. I thought that there might be too many characters to keep track of, but that wasn't the case.  I am anxiously awaiting the next book in the series.

Thanks to First Wildcard, David C. Cook and Audra Jennings of the B&B Media Group for the opportunity to review this novel.  You can learn more about Linda Windsor here.  You can read the first chapter here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 6/10

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Somewhere to Belong...DNF...Review

About the book:
Johanna Ilg has lived her entire life in Main Amana, one of the seven villages inhabited by devout Christians who believe in cooperative living, a simple lifestyle, and faithful service to God. Although she's always longed to see the outside world, Johanna believes her future is rooted in the community. But when she learns a troubling secret, the world she thought she knew is shattered and she is forced to make difficult choices about a new life and the man she left behind. Berta Schumacher has lived a privileged life in Chicago, and when her parents decide they want a simpler life in Amana, Iowa, she resists. Under the strictures of the Amana villages, Berta's rebellion reaches new heights. Will her heart ever be content among the plain people of Amana?

I tried.  I really tried.  I just couldn't get into this story.  The story was told from alternating perspectives of Johanna and Berta, and each perspective was first person.  For me, it was an awkward way of writing.  I don't care for first person in the best of situations, and two first-person accounts was too much.  I was not familiar with the Amana communities or their faith and I could not understand it or the desire for communal living.

Thanks to Bethany House for the opportunity to review this book, I wish I could have enjoyed it enough to finish it.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 6/10

1/5 Stars

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sixteen Brides...Review

About the book:
Sixteen Civil War widows living in St. Louis respond to a series of meetings conducted by a land speculator who lures them west by promising "prime homesteads" in a "booming community." Unbeknownst to them, the speculator's true motive is to find an excuse to bring women to the fledgling community of Plum Grove, Nebraska, in hopes they will accept marriage proposals shortly after their arrival! 

Sparks fly when these unsuspecting widows meet the men who are waiting for them. These women are going to need all the courage and faith they can muster to survive these unwanted circumstances--especially when they begin to discover that none of them is exactly who she appears to be. 

An enjoyable read.  I was so glad that the original 16 war widows narrowed down to 5, which was a much more manageable number.  The premise was a bit different and refreshing take on the mail-order bride scenario.  These women had spunk and drive and weren't afraid to stand up to the sneaky land speculator who deceived them.  They go off on their own and, together, establish themselves on joined land claims.

As they ingratiate themselves into the community, they make friends and predictably, a few enemies.  But, love conquers all.

5 is much more manageable than 16 main characters, but when you add the supporting characters and love interests, it could be difficult to keep track of everyone.  Stephanie Whitson does a great job of making it all work.  These are likeable women and you really cheer for them to succeed. I found her take on the premise interesting.

This is an easy enjoyable read, especially for those who love historical novels, and especially historical westerns.  Light Christian. 

Thanks to Bethany House for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Stephanie Grace Whitson here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 6/10

* * *
3/5 Stars

Friday, June 18, 2010

She Walks in Beauty...Review

About the book:
During New York City's Gilded Age...THE GAME is played amid banquets and balls. THE PRIZE is a lifetime of wealth and privilege. THE RULES will test friendships and the desires of a young woman's heart. Clara Carter is the social season's brightest start... BUT AT WHAT COST? 

For a young society woman seeking a favorable marriage in the late 1890s, so much depends on her social season debut. Clara Carter has been given one goal: secure the affections of the city's most eligible bachelor. 

Debuting means plenty of work--there are corsets to be fitted, dances to master, manners to perfect. Her training soon pays off, however, as celebrity's spotlight turns Clara into a society-page darling. Yet Clara wonders if this is the life she really wants, especially when she learns her best friend has also set her sights on Franklin De Vries. 

When a man appears who seems to love her simply for who she is, and gossip backlash turns ugly, Clara realizes it's not just her heart at stake--the future of her family depends on how she plays the game. 

I'd had my eye on this book for some time, simply because the cover was so gorgeous.  The book itself is fantastic.

I normally don't like first person narration, but Siri Mitchell really carries this off.  Clara is a wonderful heroine.  Strong, spunky and ever so likeable.  As she reluctantly enters the debutante season, we are privy to the inside workings of 1890's Gilded Age high society which is, at once, both intriguing and tragic.

Clara loves books and learning.  She wants to marry for love.  But, her father and aunt seem to think that the family's honor is at stake and she must marry the richest, most sought-after bachelor.  Clara must procure his affections, no matter the cost of friendships or deception.  In order to debut, Clara is put through an amazing rigmarole of etiquette lessons, dance lessons and dress fittings. Her slim, 22-inch waist is deemed gargantuan by her aunt and she is fitted for a corset that will force her to eventually achieve an 18-inch waist, because that is what society demands.

I always knew that corsets were one of the worst articles of clothing ever inflicted on women, and the insights from Clara proved this to be true.  So many health issues arose from the wearing of the corset yet, irregardless of them, women still allowed themselves to be pressured into wearing them to achieve some horrific, superficial results.

Clara's frustrations at the need to be socially entertaining, yet unable to talk about anything of substance are a perfect example of that ridiculous social mores people seemed to think important.  I loved her spunk and the way she finally fought back.  As she uncovers secrets about the society she moves within, she also uncovers secrets about her family and discovers truths about the world outside.  A world that hers avoids.

Light Christian, this is a wonderful narrative of the time, and an engaging story about a delightful young girl coming of age in 1890's New York.  I enjoyed it immensely and look forward to reading Siri Mitchell's other books.

Thanks to Bethany House for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Siri Mitchell here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 6/10

* * * * *
5/5 Stars

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Ransome's Crossing...Review

About the book:
To get to her secret fiancé in Jamaica, Charlotte Ransome disguises herself as a midshipman and joins the crew of one of the ships in the convoy led by her brother William. First Lieutenant Ned Cochrane has only known his captain’s younger sister for a brief time, but is sure she’s the wife he’s been praying for—except he’s about to leave for the Caribbean for at least one year.

An attack on the convoy gains Ned the promotion to commander he has long dreaded—especially once he discovers one of his midshipmen is actually Charlotte Ransome in disguise. After seeking Julia’s advice, Ned decides to keep Charlotte’s secret… and hopes to win her love. Charlotte will soon discover that losing her heart to Ned is not the greatest danger she’ll face on this Atlantic crossing.

Wanting to join her secret fiance in Jamaica, Charlotte is a spunky, brave young heroine who manages not only to join the crew of a ship, but to prove herself a better sailor than many young men.  She manages to ingratiate herself to some crew members and irritate others. Ned has his own demons to face when he reluctantly accepts a promotion to Captain, but it's in that position where he discovers Charlotte and realizes not only his love for her, but how much he depends on her as a crew member.  The details about sailing and ship life were fascinating. 

Julia and William have married and Julia is accompanying her husband on his voyage to Jamaica.  Each must adapt to Julia's being on board ship, even as they adapt to marriage.  When William discovers that Julia was aware of Charlotte's deception, he's understandably not very happy.

Second in the Ransome Trilogy, this was an entertaining sequel and ends with a cliffhanger that will be answered in the third and final book.  While it does stand alone, it is in a reader's best interest to have read Ransome's Honor first. 

Thanks to First Wildcard and Harvest House Publishers for the opportunity to review this book. You can find out more about Kaye Dacus here. You can read the first chapter here.You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 6/10

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What Happened to My Life?...Review

About the book:
For many women, busyness, worry, and discouragement can drain all of the joy and passion from life. The tyranny of the urgent, fears about tomorrow, and even small disappointments quickly leave them tired, frustrated, and discontent. But it doesn't have to be that way, says personal life coach and speaker Danna Demetre. 

In What Happened to My Life? Danna invites readers to join her on a 40-day journey where they'll learn to -slow down and make better choices -reinterpret life and have more realistic expectations -choose the very best from all the good -and pursue God in a life-changing way Whether dealing with a life crisis or simply feeling that life is not all they'd hoped for, readers will find that this new book helps them to find authentic contentment and joy regardless of circumstances. And to move from simply surviving to truly thriving once again.

Danna's voice is one that I think will resonate with many women.  Too often, we feel overwhelmed, tired and discouraged.  We all know that we should make changes in our lives, but what do we change and how?  Danna explores these issues and more.  With personal stories and practical application, you learn about balance which is so important in life; balance that includes time for yourself and time for God. 

You can read the book and do the 40-day devotional at the end, or you can read it, ponder it and do the devotional at a later time.  However you choose to apply this book to yourself, you will come away renewed and refreshed.  This is a book that I can see myself going back to again and again.

Available May 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Thanks to Donna Hausler of Baker Publishing for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Danna Demetre here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 6/10

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Out of the Spin Cycle...Review

About the book:
What lists and systems and self-help books have failed to do for young moms in the trenches, Jesus can accomplish blindfolded. Yes, moms are busy, they need a break, and they'd just like a shower. But they are also strong and brilliant and have the power to move mountains. Author and speaker Jen Hatmaker takes the words and deeds of Jesus, adds the humor of a young mom's life, and offers messages of grace and encouragement. She shows overburdened moms forty things Jesus doesn't expect them to do on their own. Covering areas such as worry, marriage, priorities, money, and the trap of comparison, this lively Bible teacher brings Jesus's message alive in a format geared to the short moments moms have that can be allotted to reflection. This is a devotional for the woman inside the mom--the Bible student, the learner, the world-changer.

I enjoyed Jen's sense of humor and could relate to many of her parenting experiences. She's up front about not being perfect and I so appreciate that. Often, we read stories or books written by pastor's wives and we come away thinking we'll never measure up. Jen's honesty and humor are refreshing. She reinforces the idea that we just need to be doing our best and that when we make the time to walk with Jesus and invite Him into our days, we can manage life better.

What I really liked were the "Step out of the Spin Cycle" notes at the end of each chapter. Each note gave a suggestion of something you could do that related to a Christian thought or principle. This is an easy book to read in one sitting, and it's a great one to read a little at a time. Each chapter is short, just a couple of pages, but ends with a question and a suggested action. I think it would be a great gift for a mom of young children.

Available June 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Thanks to Donna Hausler of Baker Publishing for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Jen Hatmaker here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 6/10

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Monday, June 14, 2010

Refuge on Crescent Hill...Review

About the book:
Moving home after a recent job loss was supposed to reassure Camden Bristow and give her time to decide what to do next. But when she arrives in Etherton, Ohio, she discovers that her grandmother, who she hasn't talked to in years, has passed away and "home" is an empty mansion hundreds of years old. Not exactly the comfort Camden was looking for. What happened to the house she played in as a child, the bedtime stories that told of secret passageways and runaway slaves, and all those family memories?
When antiques start disappearing and footsteps are heard, some of those memories start to creep back and Camden wonders if her grandmother's bedtime stories might actually be true. What really happened here . . . at Crescent Hill? How was her grandmother involved? Who still has access to the house? And for what purpose? As she works to uncover the past and present mysteries harbored in her home, Camden also uncovers secrets about her family that could change the town-and her life-forever.

I will admit to being pleasantly surprised by this novel, as the cover was rather off-putting to me and reminds me of something published in the 1970s. However, the story captured me fairly quickly and I was intrigued. The four different viewpoints could have been distracting, but it was actually very refreshing and I felt it worked well.

I enjoy stories that explore the Underground Railroad and this one was fascinating. With some twists and turns from family secrets to secret tunnels, it's not completely predictable. An easy, Christian read. I look forward to reading more from Melanie Dobson.

Thanks to First Wildcard and Kregel Publications for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Melanie Dobson here. You can read the first chapter here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 6/10

* * *
3/5 Stars

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Tailor-Made Bride...Review

About the book:
A dressmaker who values beauty tangles with a liveryman who condemns vanity, yet when something deeper than vexation sparks between them, will it be enough to unknot their differences?

Jericho "J.T." Tucker wants nothing to do with Coventry's new dressmaker. He's all too familiar with her ilk – shallow women more devoted to the latest fashions than to the true beauty of godly service. Yet as his daily routine intertwines with hers, he discovers that except for her well-tailored clothes, this seamstress is not at all what he expected.

Hannah Richards is confounded by the man who runs the livery across the street. The unsmiling fellow riles her at every turn with his arrogant assumptions, but his acts of kindness contradict his cantankerous attitude. Which side of Jericho Tucker reflects the real man?

When Hannah spruces up Jericho's sister to help her catch a beau, will Jericho and Hannah find enough grace and understanding to bridge the gap between them, or will prejudice and stubborn pride keep them apart?

The cover of this book is what grabbed me first. So colorful. The story then hooked me and I read it quickly. Coventry, Texas is a pleasant little town with welcoming townspeople. Hannah Richards ends up there after an opportunity to open her own dressmaking establishment drops into her lap. Almost immediately upon arriving, she and the local liveryman engage in a verbal tug of war as they get to know each other, and ultimately fall in love. A few twists and turns along the way bring them closer together.

This is a light Christian story and perfect for a summer afternoon sitting in the shade. J.T. is rough around the edges and Hannah is charming and a bit too perfect! But, nevertheless, this is a charming novel with a western setting and engaging story.

A terrific debut novel. I look forward to more from Karen Witemayer.

Thanks to First Wildcard and Karen Witemeyer and Bethany House for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Karen Witemeyer here. You can read the first chapter here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 6/10

* * *
3/5 Stars