Sunday, December 27, 2015

Ashley Bell by Dean Koontz

For full disclosure, I am a long-time Dean Koontz fan. I enjoy his writing so much that I read this very long book even though I can’t say it was my favorite Koontz book. The story unfolds as we meet Bibi, her illness, her mission, and then the “wrong people”. Who are they and will she survive something more dangerous than her illness? I had no idea where the story was going when it first started, but page by page it branched out, came back together, and then twisted as it increased in intensity. While I like the way the short chapter style gives me the opportunity to mull over the story and take it all in, I thought the way the chapters were presented were too interruptive of the story. I liked the characters and think they were well-developed. The surfer dude dialog was a little odd for this Midwesterner, but all of the terms used were explained. As much as I do love reading his books, I do think this one was too long. I also think that there were too many unanswered questions left hanging. Or perhaps by the time I got to the end, I forgot what happened at the beginning!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Monsterland by Michael Phillip Cash

The hottest tickets in town are for the opening of the new amusement park, Monsterland. The new park has real vampires, zombies, and werewolves, all properly contained in this massive new project.  An eclectic group of local teens score tickets to the opening night which turns out a little more exciting than they expected.

Of course things went a little crazy or it would not have been such an exciting read. I was especially impressed with the way the characters were crafted. Each was unique and the teens dialog was true to their ages.  The step-dad trying to relate with the children was a nice addition.

Although it was written for a younger audience, I thoroughly enjoyed Monsterland.  I think it may be my favorite from this author so far!

I received a copy of Monsterland from the author in exchange for an honest review.

This is Camino by Russell Moore, Allison Hopelain, with Chris Colin

I have to admit that this is of the oddest cookbooks I have reviewed yet.  The recipe chapters are
broken down into The Basics, Vegetables, Fish, Chicken and Egg, Duck, Lamb, Pork, Dessert, and Cocktails. The book consists of recipes with many unusual ingredients that are not readily available outside of areas with specialty stores.

If you regularly visit Camino, then you may be interested in the people described and recipes included in this book. Chapter 3, A Week at Camino, is diary of the daily chores and duties involved with the running of Camino. For example, Wednesday 4:18 p.m., Becca the hostess, works a feather duster around the room.  Thursday, 5:32 p.m. Allison readjusts the lights. It isn’t very interesting unless you are familiar with the people and restaurant.

I was excited to find one recipe “Fried Hen-of-the-Woods Mushrooms, Scallions, and Herbs with Yogurt and green Garlic, although it contains ingredients I have yet to find.  I was a little less excited to find the Pig’s Head and Trotter Fritters. I did learn quite a bit searching for the definition of ingredients like Trotters, Jaggery, Korean Perilla and Shiso.  Just in case I decide to build an outdoor kitchen, there is a lesson on cooking over a wood fire.

I suspect that restaurant insiders will love this book, but I didn’t find it interesting or useful.

I received a copy of this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, November 2, 2015

How the Grandmas and Grandpas Saved Christmas by Richard J. Gausselin

Santa’s elves catch a cold a week before Christmas and can’t work on the toys! Joe, an elder elf, was listening to Santa talk about his grandfather when he came up with the perfect solution – Grandparents.

How the Grandmas and Grandpas Saved Christmas is an absolutely delightful Christmas tale.  The story is beautifully written and illustrated.   The story emphasizes love, friendship, family and does it brilliantly. It is a perfect book to read on Christmas Eve, or to break up into sections to read each day leading up to Christmas. 

It also has very nice full-page illustrations. Some of them are very detailed, and younger children would have fun picking out toys and tools in the pictures. I highly recommend this thoughtfully written book. Reading this book with your children or grandchildren could be a fun yearly tradition.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Let's Go to theMarket by Dullingham, Hertzog, and Honeck

This is not your ordinary child’s book. There is not story in this book, but a series of questions to inspire creative, critical, and mathematical thinking.  On one page is a photograph of a child in a food market, and on the next page are questions about the photo or about a market.

While I like the concept of creating discussion and creative thinking, some of the questions just did not seem to go with the age group recommended for the book (3-5). For example, one of the questions was: “Create a story in which you are a type of bread (for example, baguette, ciabatta, Challah, pita, focaccia).   Is a 3-5 year-old going to understand different types of bread?

The photos were at times a distraction to the questions. One of the pages had a photo of two girls in a bakery case with questions about the desserts. The girls are blocking the view of the case and the desserts on the case so blurry that it was difficult to get an answer to the questions about the desserts in the photo.  

It also should also be noted that this was not about a child’s trip to a supermarket visit. The photographs appear to have been taken at open-air markets and a fish market.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

God Gave Us Sleep by Lisa Tawn Bergren


God Gave us Sleep is another in the wonderful God Gave Us.. series by Lisa Tawn Bergren and illustrations by Laura J. Bryant. Youngsters usually don’t like going to bed and Little Cub is no different.  Mama Bear explains why God created us to need sleep and how we need it for energy and patience.  Little Cub learns the hard way what happens when you don’t sleep well.

This book is beautifully written and illustrated, and it is just the right length for a good bed-time story. I loved that the story ends as Little Bear is having soothing and calm dreams and then waking refreshed. That is helpful for the child just settling down to sleep. I highly recommend this for young children.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Berenstain Bears Harvest Festival By Mike Berenstain

It is autumn and Mama, Papa, Brother, and Sister are all enjoying the outdoors.   The Chapel in the Woods is holding a Harvest Festival at a local farm and the Berenstain family decides to go.  On their walk to the Festival the family takes in the sights, sounds, and smells of the season, and talked about God’s blessings for all of the things He created. They arrive at the Festival and it was everything you would see and do at a country festival.

This is a wonderful book of a loving family of bears with subtle lessons of life, love and doing right. The cubs learn about seeing God’s blessings all around, growing food, eating healthy and giving thanks. The illustrations are very nice with a lot of detail that adds to the story.

 I think the Living Lights Berenstain Bear books are such a refreshing addition to the existing line of books. The topics are always about doing good, kindness, and love, with a touch of faith.

I received a copy of this book as part of the BookLook blogger program.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Goodnight, Ark by Laura Sassi

It is bedtime on Noah’s ark and the animals are ready for bed. It is raining outside and the animals run to jump in Noah’s bed. They cause quite a fuss as two by two they flock to be by Noah. Kindly and soothingly Noah gets them all back to their own bunks and feel safe.

This is a beautiful padded cover board book with wipe-clean pages. Goodnight, Ark is the perfect story for youngsters getting ready for bed especially if it has been a busy hectic day.  It takes the busyness of the day and through rhyme brings a calm conclusion.  The illustrations by Jane Chapman are excellent and help tell the story.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Author Spotlight - Carole P. Roman

Author Spotlight
I would like to spotlight the work of one author that never fails to impress me.  Although I have never counted them, over the past couple of years, I have reviewed quite a few children’s books by author, Carole P. Roman.

 I was first introduced to her work with her If You Were Me and Lived In… series of children’s books. In each book she introduces children to different countries and cultures around the world.  All of the books in this series explore what is of interest to children.  Each book follows a similar format. They begin with information about the country’s location, important cities, and landmarks.  They also answer questions that children would ask. What do you call your parents? Where do you go for fun? What kind of toys do you play with? What kind of foods do you eat?  The book also describes holidays, local events, schools, and much more.  I am not sure I have covered them all, but I know the following countries have their own books that start If You Were Me and Lived In….India, Australia, Mexico, Kenya, South Korea, Russia, China, Scotland, Peru, Hungary, Greece, Norway, Portugal, Turkey, and France. 

Another fun and interesting series is Carole’s Captain No Beard pirate books.  Alexander has a vivid imagination and with each book he fades into an imaginary adventure aboard The Flying Dragon pirate ship. He has a crew of friends that have great pretend escapades.  There is always a subtle lesson that emphasizes friendship, teamwork, cooperation, and doing what is right.  Although I haven’t read all of them, these are the books that I know are in this series:

Captain No Beard: An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate's Life
Pepper Parrot's Problem with Patience: A Captain No Beard Story 
Stuck in the Doldrums: A Lesson in Sharing- A Captain No Beard Story
Captain No Beard: Strangers on the High Seas, Book 4 of the Captain No Beard Series
Fribbet the Frog and the Tadpoles: Captain No Beard (note: my personal favorite)
Captain No Beard and the Aurora Borealis (Captain No Beard Stories)
The Crew Goes Coconuts!: A Captain No Beard Story Volume 6
A Flag for the Flying Dragon: A Captain No Beard Story

Another book of Carole P. Roman, not part of a series, is I Want To Do Yoga Too. A young child, Hallie, goes with her mom to yoga class, but isn’t allowed to join in.  When she tells the babysitter how much she wants to do yoga, the sitter teaches her four yoga poses.  This is a very fun book for young children that will immediately want to play along and do the poses.

Carole also presented a book Whaley's Big Adventure: Presented by Carole P. Roman written and illustrated by her 5 year old grandson, Alexander Luke. It is an interesting book that teaches children about different kinds of whales.

Her blog
Her Amazon site

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Fold by Peter Clines

This is the type of science fiction that I enjoy. It is set in a time in which I can relate and with people I can understand.  Mike Erickson seems to be an ordinary small town guy, but he is hiding behind his very unique talents. He is quite satisfied teaching high school English, but he is finally offered an opportunity to use his talents for something so much more important.

I liked the character of Mike, and as the story progressed understood the references to ants that the character used to describe what was going on in his brain. I thought the pace of the story was very good, building up steadily to the climax. There was a bit of a mystery added to the story, and I did not guess the outcome until it was revealed.

My only complaint about the book is the totally unnecessary language.  One character in the book uttered the phrase “f- me” so many times I decided she was just not even a relevant character to the story and should have been left out.

If You Were Me and Lived in China by Carole P. Roman

The next stop in Carole P. Roman’s trip around the world is China. A little more detailed than previous If You Were Me… books, and it contains many more details about the country and people. As in the previous books, I learned about location and landmarks in China, favorite foods and games, and festivals and customs. All of the information a child would want to know about children far away is answered, including naming conventions for the children and what children call their mothers and fathers. The illustrations are always bright and colorful and the text is an easy-to-read size. These are a series of informative and interesting books that bring places around the world to life. I recommend the entire series of books for parents, grandparents, day care, and early school years. They would also be helpful for Sunday School groups to create interest in missions.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Witches Protection Program by Michael Phillip Cashw

After failing in his position working for his father in a special federal undercover department, Wes has been reassigned to an even more undercover position with the Witches Protection Program.  I rather felt sorry for Wes as he just could not seem to live up to his father’s expectations. Would he be able to prove himself with his new assignment? His new job was to help protect the good witches, keep the bad witches under control, and keep it all secret from the public. The bad witches have a devious plan to control women around the world.

I liked the characters and the humor sprinkled throughout the book.   It is a fast-paced and fun story although I usually stick to stories that have even a toe in reality. Michael Phillip Cash is a good enough writer to make me believe in the Witches Protection Program

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Princess Joy Sticker & Activity Book by Jeanna Young & Jacqueline Johnson

Once upon a time, there lived 5 princesses: Joy, Grace, Faith, Hope, and Charity. This book is about Princess Joy. The book has 16 pages containing a word find game with a word bank for a little help, color pages, a maze, a secret code game, a hidden object page and a counting page.  There are two pages of stickers (50 stickers) in the center of the book, and since the pages are a heavy glossy paper, the stickers are reusable! I found a couple of problems, although minor. The lamb sticker does not match up with the picture where it is to be placed. It is about half the size it should be. Also, in the Spot the Differences puzzle, the princess is crying with no explanation as to why. At one time the dog was missing, but in the photo it is in front of her.

There isn’t too much of a story to the book, but the captions for the pages are about loving God and family and about giving to others.  This is a very nice little workbook for 4-8 year old girls.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Reason for My Hope - Salvation by Billy Graham

Billy Graham, evangelist and  preacher has probably led more people to know Jesus Christ as their personal savior than anyone else in my lifetime. He is a great story teller as is obvious in this newest book.   

I think it is accurate to call this a Who, What, Where, When, Why and How of salvation told in stories about Billy’s own life, about friends, and stories about Jesus and His saving grace. In the chapter I am a Christian because…, he explains what it means to be a Christian, and the misconceptions many people have about what makes them a Christian.  It is well documented with scripture and with notes at the end of the book. Whether a new Christian or mature believer you will be encouraged  and challenged by this book.

I also highly recommend his previous book Nearing Home for those who are reaching their older years and for younger people who want to learn how to age with grace.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Everyone Belongs to God by Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt

Everyone Belongs to God is a series of letters written by Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt to his missionary son-in-law, Richard Wilhelm. The wisdom and guidance in his writings are just as relevant today as they were in 1898.  Although initially some of what he says sounds shocking, he explains his message with scripture and the wisdom of a man with a heart for Jesus Christ. Blumhardt knew that he had a great influence over his son-in-law and felt a responsibility for his guidance. He wrote over a hundred letters to Wilhelm between 1898 and 1914.

I found the book so challenging and encouraging that I plan to go through again and read each chapter as a devotional.  It offers practical spiritual advice encouraging the reader to look where Jesus is already moving and our contributions are to have a quiet influence. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Hiding in the Light by Rifqa Bary

This was a book that was hard to put down. Uplifting and challenging, Rifqa details her life as a child of a Muslim family called by God at an early age to follow Jesus.  I knew some of the story from when it hit the news, but much of it was new or made much clearer by her explanations. I also had no idea of the health challenges she faced following her freedom.

I was a little put off by some of her statements and behavior but then I realized that even though she was a Christian, she was also a typical teenager.  I was disappointed to see what was left out of the book and that left me with more questions than answers, especially about the senior pastor that lost his church because of the events surrounding this event. My hope is that she has a peaceful life now and has been able to reconcile with her family.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Princess charity Sticker & Activity Book

This is part 5 of a series of activity books for young children. Princesses Joy, Grace, Faith Hope, and Charity live in a castle on a high hill. This 16 page book comes with 2 full pages of stickers to place throughout the book. There is a word-find puzzle, a dot-to dot, color by numbers, a maze, what doesn’t belong puzzle, spot the differences, coloring, and drawing. The book is very nice with glossy print pages and colorful stickers. Your child or grandchild will love the adventures and activities featuring Princess Charity and her special animal friend Daisy the Horse.  A very nice activity book that tells each little girl that she, too, is a princess as a child of the King.

I received a copy of this book through the BookLook Blogger program in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, June 12, 2015

A Flag for The Flying Dragon by Carole P. Roman

Captain No Beard and his crew are back, but this time there is a new crew member, Zachary.  Zachary is eager to help, but what can he do when everyone thinks he is too young?

This is another fun story with all of our favorite characters acting out their imaginary pirate adventure. The story adds a new character, young child trying to fit in and play with the children. While the story is about creating a flag for the Flying Dragon, it is really about learning that everyone has talents and abilities. It emphasizes the importance of making the new member feel welcome in the group.

The Captain No Beard books never disappoint me or my granddaughter. They are fun and always have a subtle message of kindness and working together as a team.  One thing I especially like is the way the stories change from imagination to reality as their pretend journey comes to an end in Alexander’s room.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Not Cool by Greg Gutfeld

Not Cool, by Greg Gutfeld, is a refreshing exposé on everything that is considered cool in the progressive world. He reflects on a number of topics both personal and professional, and while the book may seem scattered at times, it gives an interesting look into the author’s creative mind.  Gutfeld has an edgy. dry wit with more than a little taste of sarcasm.  He takes on social agendas that cause people to follow instead of lead. 

The book is entertaining and insightful as the author explores political and social issues, the entertainment industry, and general issues in the news today.  He concludes with a chapter that lists the people, places, and things that are truly cool and why he chose them.

I received a copy of Not Cool as part of the Blogging for Books program.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

If You Were Me and Lived in Scotland by Carole P. Roman

Next stop on Carole P. Roman’s around the world trip is Scotland.  This series introduces children to cultural exploration and answers the questions that children would most likely ask. What would children in Scotland call their mom and dad? What games would they play, and what do they celebrate? What kinds of foods are common? Where are the fun places to visit?

Each book in the series has a pronunciation guide and definitions for more complicated or unfamiliar words. It has colorful illustrations and easy to read text. I highly recommend not only Scotland, but all of the books in this series. What a wonderful way to teach children about their peers around the world without any politics involved. I also think they would be wonderful for elementary age Sunday Schools to spark an interest in missions around the world.

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Myster Writers of America Cookbook, edited by Kate White

This cookbook is a collection of the favorite recipes of some well-known mystery writers.  The hardbound book is very nice and even has a ribbon bookmark.  The photo doesn't do it justice! Each recipe begins with a short note from the author that explains the origin of the recipe or just some personal information.

The recipes are a wonderful variety of recipes from gourmet to family fare.  The first recipe I tried was Gillian Flynn’s Beef Skillet Fiesta. She started her paragraph with “Be warned: I am no gourmet.”  Her recipe was certainly not gourmet, but it was just what I was looking for that night.  It was a good, easy, fast, and delicious family meal.  This cookbook is now filled with bits of paper making all of the recipes I want to try. Not ever recipe has a photo, but quite a few have nice full-page photos. This one has earned a place on my permanent cookbook shelf.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Breaker's Reef by Terri Blackstock

I wish I had known that this was book 4 of a series. I found the characters confusing because I did not know the history behind them. 

The story was too predictable. The more the finger pointed to a suspect the more sure I was that it was a false lead.   

The relationships were nice, but I just couldn’t connect with any of the characters. Not a bad read, just not her best.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Fribbet the Frog and the Tadpoles by Carole P. Roman

In this Captain No Beard story my favorite character, Fribbet the Frog, has a problem. He is crying his eyes out, and he has the weight of the world on his shoulders. The rest of the crew tries to understand his problem and help him through it.  Fribbet feels left out because Mom and Dad are busy with all of the new tadpoles, but the crew helps him learn all about being a big brother.

The Captain No Beard stories are the imaginary adventures of Alexander and his friends. They are fun, educational and teach children about friendships and caring relationships. This is another great addition to the series.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Lighten Up Y'all by Virginia Willis

This is an attractive book with large color photos of many of the recipes. Most of the recipes are of light fair, but I found some of the recipes odd. In one recipe you add canned no-salt tomatoes, but then later in the recipe you are told to add coarse kosher salt. Salt is Salt. The Makeover Broccoli Mac and cheese calls for 1 cup shredded 50 percent reduced fat extra sharp Cheddar cheese and ¾ cup shredded 75 percent reduced fat Cheddar cheese. I would not bother, for a recipe that serves 10 people, to buy cheeses of different fat content. There were a couple of ingredients that were unfamiliar to me and I have been cooking for many years. Living in a rural area, I want a cookbook that has recipes with readily available ingredients. Unfortunately, if you don’t live near a Whole Foods or a comparable food store, you may find these recipes difficult to make. You also need to have a large family because most of the recipes are for 6-10 people.

Friday, March 20, 2015

If You Were Me And Lived In Hungary by Carole P. Roman

Next stop is – Hungary. Take your children or students on a trip around the world with Carole P. Roman’s If You Were Me and Lived In. series of interesting books that introduce children to cultures around the world.

The books begin with information about Hungary’s location, cities, and rivers.  There is a pronunciation guide in the back of the book, but also next to each word that may be confusing for young readers.  What I like about the books is that they describe things that children are most interested in and answer those questions that children would ask. What do you call your parents? Where do you go for fun? What kind of toys do you play with? What kind of foods do you eat?  The book also describes holidays, local events, schools, and much more. 

These books make learning about other people around the world a fun experience.  This is a very informative and entertaining series of books.  I highly recommend them for parents, grandparents, preschools and early educators.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Pewsitters, Skits & Devotions for Church and Home by Katherine Hussmann Klemp

This is the perfect book for anyone involved with a church women’s group, youth group, or special events in the church.  It can be a challenge to come up with an appropriate devotional message to present, but this book has a wide variety of appropriate devotions.  Each chapter contains a short skit, followed by scripture and a devotional. 

A wide variety of topics are covered such as the peace of forgiveness, following the call of God, and special devotions for holidays.  There are messages for a variety of interests and ages. The skits have a list of suggested props, costumes, sound, lighting, setting, and director’s tip.  They are not, however, overly complicated and usually only need a few of people. The devotions are meaningful and just the right length to hold the attention of your audience.

While designed for groups, this is also a wonderful book of devotions for individual use.  I highly recommend The Pewsitters, Skits & Devotions for individuals, church groups and church libraries.

I received a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman

This was my first introduction to Neil Gaiman’s stories.  The book is a collection of short stories that are a mixture of strange, edgy, frightening, absurd, and confusing.  My favorites were The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains, February Tale, and Black Dog.

I wondered as I was reading if some of the stories were the beginning of a novel that was then abandoned. The stories were all so different that I really would not know what to expect next and left me confused about the author.  While some of the stories were interesting, some just left me shaking my head.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Great Grammar Book by Marsha Sramek

The Great Grammar Book is an essential tool for students and writers.  The book begins with a one-hundred question diagnostic test to allow the reader to assess their strengths and weaknesses.  It is written in traditional text book style with brief explanations of the rules, followed by an exercise to put what is learned into practice. I thought the chapter on Successful Writing Strategies to be especially helpful.  My only criticism is with the way it is advertised as entertaining.   Some of the sentences given for editing were statements of trivial facts, but I did not read anything that added interest or entertainment value to the book.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Knitting Block by Block by Ncky Epstein

Afghans, scarves, sweaters, vests and more all made one block at a time. There are instructions for a variety of basic blocks using different stitch patterns, but then it goes one step beyond the basics. There are also instructions for a variety of embellishments, such as frames, bobbles, designs using i-cord, and even embroidery. Also included are fair-isle, embossed and other special stitches to offer a variety of ideas. The projects in the book are beautifully classic. They are neither old fashioned nor too modern. The instructions are clear and concise with both charts and written instructions. There very simple blocks for beginners, challenging blocks for advanced knitters, and more patterns for every skill level in-between. I was a little disappointed with the single page on “joinings”. Since this was a book to make things out of blocks, I expected more information on how to put the blocks together.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Die Again (Rizzoli & Isles) by Tess Gerritsen

This was my first book in the Rizzoli and Isle series. Although there were some back stories, this was very much a stand alone book. It was quite gory with detailed descriptions of blood and guts – literally – at the crime scenes.  I genuinely liked the characters. I have seen the TV show, but did not expect them to be the same in the book. Maura was the closest and I could picture her similar to the TV version. Either way the book stood on its own.

It was an interesting mystery with crimes in the US and in Africa. The author did a wonderful job creating the mental images of the safari and the conditions in the jungle.  The jumping back and forth in time and place was done very well and I did not find it confusing at all. Perhaps the change to first person narrative helped make the transition clear.

It was a little confusing at the end but it certainly kept me guessing. This is a well-written story with a good mystery and culminates to a satisfying conclusion.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Rich in Years by Johann Christoph Arnold

Rich in Years, Finding Peace and Purpose in a Long Life is another wonderful book from Plough Publishing. Getting older is not an easy process, and we often confront fear, disappointment, and physical and mental changes. The author uses life experiences and the experiences of others to offer advice and encouragement as we face some of these life changes. 

I would say this book is primarily for Christians, and although I didn’t agree with every doctrinal statement in this book, I appreciated the author’s outlook on later years and the ability to use our talents or even find new ones.  There was not doubt that his focus was on our spiritual service.

You may think this book is just for old people, but I would also encourage younger people to read it too.  You will gain great insight into the thoughts of your parents or grandparents, and just may learn something to do now to prepare for the day when you walk where they are.  For those of us having reached these years, it can be a source of great encouragement and provide lessons for pressing on to make the time we have left a life of service and devotion.

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Awakening by Friedrich Zuendel

The Awakening is a story from 1841 with an important message for 2015.  This is the true story of Johann Christoph Blumhardt’s encounter with Gottliebin Dittis, a young woman overcome by demonic activity.  I usually avoid books about this subject, but this book is different. It is a respectful retelling of Blumhardt’s own writings not to sensationalize, but to show the real struggle with spiritual warfare.

Blumhardt approached each situation by putting on the full armor of God. The book states that when things took a serious turn, he would pray with a friend.  “Together we searched through the Bible, determined not to go any further than Scripture led us.”  His approach, his faith, his humbleness, and his honesty about his feelings made such an impression on me.  

Not only did he encounter the spiritual fight, but also resistance from the local authorities.  In spite of all of the obstacles, he saw a true spiritual awakening in his parish.  While the book is about demonic activity, it is even more about the importance of repentance, confession, and reconciliation and peace that comes from Christ.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in spiritual warfare.

One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis

One Step Too Far is a story of a young woman who walks away from her family and begins a new life.  There are hints and clues along the way that point to the reason, but the whole story isn't revealed until the end.  We know she has faced a traumatic event, but before we find out what had happened, the story is interrupted by endless back-stories for each of the characters, including those who have little to do with the plot.

The story was just too scattered. I felt like I was reading a book where the chapters were placed randomly in the book.  The beginning was slow moving and really didn't pique my interest until about 2/3 through  The author tries to trick the reader several times by writing situations that appear to give you a clue as to what is happening only to find out that it was totally different. Instead of being clever, I found it confusing and a little irritating.

The big reveal near the end of the book, although dramatic, just left me cold.  I can’t really explain much without giving a spoiler, so I will just say in my opinion the “event” and Emily’s adventure did not go together.  In spite of all of the drama, I didn't
find anything compelling or likable about the man characters.

This is an English book, but very friendly to the American reader. A few words were different, but nothing confusing. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Berenstain Bears and the Biggest Brag By Mike Berenstain

What a wonderful book, but then it IS The Berenstain Bears!  The soft cover book is beautifully
illustrated, and has a wonderful message to go with it.  Grandpa imparts some wise help for his bragging grandcubs when the bragging gets out of control.  He makes them realize how silly all of their bragging seems when they stop to think about it.

On the inside of the back page of the book is an Activities and Questions from Brother and Sister Bear page with some questions children would ask about bragging, the actions of the cubs, and the lesson Gramps was trying to teach.  Also, there are two Get Out and Do It activities that will reinforce the lesson learned with action.

My four year old granddaughter loves the story and the illustrations of each of their activities. I recommend it for non-readers and early readers.

I received a copy of this book as part of the BookLook program in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Blue Ribbon Baking from a Redneck Kitchen by Francine Bryson

You just can’t go wrong with a cookbook written by someone who has won 200 local and national baking competitions. Sweets definitely take center stage in this cookbook, and it is loaded with pies, cakes, cheesecakes cobblers, sweet breads, cookies, and candy. 

The cookbook starts with eight different pie crusts, not counting the three extra cookie crusts.  The one that really caught my eye was the Cinnamon Roll Crust may be the most interesting pie crust recipe I have ever seen, and easy too.  I can’t wait to try it with pumpkin pie.  I also want to try her Classic Easy Banana Pudding, but since it serves 12- 15, I am hoping I can cut it in half.

The cookbook itself is very well made with glossy paper that is easy to wipe clean.  It could use more photos, and it seemed a little disorganized to me.  There are the regular sections, pies, cookies, cheesecakes, candy & Truffles, and Biscuits & Breads. But then there was the chapter “Sunday Go-To-Meeting” containing cobblers and cakes, and “Baked Goods to Show Off” with more pies and cakes.  All in all, it is a keeper and a welcome addition to my cookbook shelf.

I received a copy if this book as part of the Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

If You Were Me and Lived in.. Peru by Carole P. Roman

If you would like to take your child on a cultural trip around the world, Carol Roman’s If You Were Me and Lived in….series is the perfect place to start.  This educational series describes the life, activities and people around the world.  If You Were Me and Lived in…Peru again introduces children to the local area, activities, and local culture.  The book answers questions that children would ask about names, foods, games, toys, school and holidays.   The print is large and easy to read and the illustrations are fun with bold colors and designs. There is a pronunciation guide in the back for unfamiliar words.

The books are ideal for pre-school and elementary school aged children. I also think they are ideal for Sunday Schools to cultivate an interest in missions around the world. 

Books in this series:

If you were me and lived in…Mexico
If you were me and lived in…South Korea
If you were me and lived in…France
If You Were Me and Lived in…Norway
If You Were Me and Lived in…Kenya
If You Were Me and Lived in…Turkey
If You Were Me and Lived in…India
If you were me and lived in…Australia
If you were me and lived in…Russia
If You Were Me and Lived in…Portugal
If You Were Me and Lived in…Greece
If You Were Me And Lived In…Peru

A copy of this book was provided free of charge in exchange for an honest review.
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