Thursday, December 29, 2016

Photographs from the Edge by Art Wolfe

This is a book of photographs taken by Art Wolfe  from 1983 to 2015 all around the world. Each photograph has a camera/film/exposure guide, an explanation of the shot, the nature of the photo and a photo tip. The photos are amazingly beautiful and the photographer’s notes about the shot and locations give even more depth to the subjects. The subjects are varied, with animals, people and landscapes. Not quite large enough to be a “coffee-table” book, some of the photographs get crossed over to the facing page by an inch or two. I found it a bit of a distraction, but does not take away from the overall beauty of the photos.

About the Author

ART WOLFE’s photographs are recognized throughout the world for their mastery of color, composition, and perspective. He is a recipient of the Photographic Society of America’s Progress Medal, the coveted Alfred Eisenstaedt Magazine Photography Award, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the North American Nature Photography Association. Wolfe’s award-winning television series, Art Wolfe’s Travels to the Edge, airs on PBS stations throughout the country and worldwide. He is a popular educator and speaker for such companies as Microsoft, IBM, and Sheraton Hotels, and is the author of many books, including The New Art of Photographing Nature and The Art of the Photograph. For more information, visit

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Gospel in George MacDonald, Selections from His Novels, Fairy Tales, and Spritual Writings - Plough Publishing

The Gospel In George MacDonald, perfectly titled, is a wonderful collection of stories by a man in whose life you could see the Gospel.

Divided into 5 sections and 23 topical sections, each contains a variety of sources, including a section from a sermon, a letter, or favorite writings of other authors. This book can be used as a devotional, or to find a special section when your heart is in need of encouragement concerning one of the topics covered. It is a hopeful, Christ centered life in words filled with hope and enthusiasm.

Just as an example, I spent considerable time reading and rereading a short paragraph at the beginning of the chapter on Prayer. It was a simple passage from a novel by Wilfred Cumbermede: “I looked up to the blue sky, wept, and for the first time fell on my knees. “O God!” I cried, and that was all. But what are the prayers of the whole universe more than expansions of that one cry? It is not what God can give us, but God that we want.”
From the back of the book: George MacDonald (1824-1905) was born in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. After sparking controversy as a preacher, he left the ministry to pursue a literary career, writing over fifty books to support his family of eleven children. To this day, MacDonald’s novels, fantasies, and children's stories are cherished for their literary quality and spiritual insight; C. S. Lewis has said that MacDonald’s influence can be found in every book he wrote. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

SkinnyTaste Fast and Slow by Gina Homolka

I had not heard of SkinnyTaste before but understand now that the author has a website with really good recipes. This cookbook, Skinnytaste Fast and Slow, has a lot of good points, but over all did not appeal to me.

Let me cover the good first.  All of the recipes are labeled as Quick (Q), Pressure Cooker (PC), Slow Cooker (SC), Vegetarian (V), Gluten-Free (GF), Dairy-Free (DF) or Freezer-Friendly (FF).  There is a good variety of each.  One recipe I want to try is Crustless Slow Cooker Apple Pie A la Mode.

The photographs are very good, but the general appeal of the recipes is lacking. Most of the dishes looked like a variety of chopped ingredients dumped on a plate and sprinkled with other ingredients. The simply did not look appetizing to me. I was also a little surprised to see under the “Healthy Mornings” chapter a recipe for Brussels Sprout Hash with Bacon and Eggs.  Brussels Sprouts for breakfast? There is one section called “Zoodles, Sqashta, Pasta, and sauce. You will need a kitchen tool called a spiralizer for these recipes.

I will say this cookbook is good, but not great.

I received a copy of SkinnyTaste Fast and Slow in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Everything Beautiful by Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing

Grown-up coloring books have become very popular of late and Everything Beautiful is a welcome addition.  On the cover, it says it is a coloring book for inspiration and reflection. 

There is a wonderful variety of designs with some with sharp lines and triangles, some with flowers and leaves, hearts, scenic, lacy and much more.  In the center of each is an inspirational message or Bible verse in lovely fonts. Some examples:
  • You really are loved. Just as you are. More than you know.
  • I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation. Philippians 4:12
On the backs of each design page are other verses, information about the author of the quotes, or song lyrics.

I found these color pictures to be very relaxing, with not too much intricacy, and even my granddaughter (5) enjoyed coloring one.  It is a lovely book and I highly recommend it.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Charlie the Tramp by Russell Hoban

Charlie the Tramp, a classic by Author Russell Hoben is back in print in a 50th Anniversary edition.  This is a sweet story about Charlie the Beaver who wants to be a tramp when he grows up. He likes the idea of freedom and not having to learn how to build dams and chop down trees. Mom, Dad, and Grandfather all talk to him about making life choices, but let him have some freedom. He tied a handkerchief to a stick and took off.  He learned many lessons during his adventure – which included chopping trees and building dams. It ends with a talk between Charlie and his dad.

Some of the terms are a bit outdated, so you may have to explain that years ago tramps worked when they had to and traveled the rest of the time.  Other than that, it is a nice family story that will make a good early reader.

"Tramps just tramp around
and have a good time.
They carry sticks
with little bundles tied to them.
They sleep in a field
when the weather is nice,
and when it rains they sleep in a barn."

Sunday, September 18, 2016

God Gave Us Thankful Hearts by Lisa Tawn Bergren

God Gave us Thankful Hearts is another wonderful book in the God Gave Us series. This time little pup is rather sad. Fall is here and hibernation follows. Pup thinks that is just boring! Mama and Papa talk to little pup and teach him about having a thankful heart.

Beautiful fall colors decorate the cover and the story pages. The book is hard-covered, and it is beautifully illustrated with fun, kind-looking characters. The message is biblical, and the story teaches to think of things for which we are thankful instead of things we don’t like. It is a good read-to, or read-along book with a Godly message.

Monday, July 25, 2016

When There Are No Easy Answers by John S. Feinberg

Grief is a difficult subject to read about and an even more subject to experience.  I have read many books that cover this topic, but none covers the experience as well as “When There are No Easy Answers” by John S. Feinberg.

People never know what to say to their friends or family members when a tragic illness or death occurs. In this book, the author covers the usual comments that are not helpful, and why they are not helpful. Often scripture is quoted, but misused. Next, he shared how he moved forward and learned to cope with the challenges ahead of him.  He even tackled the subject of the suffering Christian in the chapter “Grace, Justice, and the Suffering of the Righteous”. The book ends with ten ways the God uses suffering.

This is a deeply personal book in which the author shares his personal thoughts and experiences in an effort to help others.  In my opinion, that reaching out to his readers is what makes this book different from others I have read.  His experience was with the devastating diagnosis of his wife, but the lessons learned are applicable to all types of grief.

I wish that the lessons and  type of compassion in this book were taught in churches and Sunday schools. I highly recommend this book for those suffering tragedies of their own, but also for those who want to react to those around them in a positive, helpful way.

I received a copy of When There Are No Answers by John S. Feinberg from Kregel Publications in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Being a Captain is Hard Work(A Captain No Beard Story) by Carole P Roman

This is another episode of A Captain No Beard Story with his crew on the Flying Dragon. 
Bright, colorful illustrations help tell this adventure of Captain, Mongo, Polly, Linus, Zach, Cayla, Matie, and, of course, Fribbit. Their trip to Dew Rite Volcano is a rough one and Captain No Beard learned an important lesson. Being a Captain is hard work, and sometimes you need to listen to your crew.  

There is an added bonus in this book at the end.  There is a Cloud Key, which is a list and explanation of different cloud types.  It has good information for little Captains and the crew for their imaginary adventures.

Can a Princess Be a Firefighter? by Carole P. Roman

“Wow, can she?” was my granddaughter’s response. This is a picture book that tells little girls that they can do just about anything when they grow up. In a rhyme, the story lists different occupations and the opportunities for the future that they can explore. I liked that it tells the child that she can do more than one thing and can change her mind. I liked the theme of the book, but it seemed that “mom” was thrown in at the last. Join the circus and model clothes seemed to be more important. I am not a fan of the watercolor illustrations, and the white lettering was difficult to read against the light green background.
Good encouragement for little girls!

Friday, June 24, 2016

If you were me and lived in Renaissance Italy by Carole P. Roman

This is another of Carole P. Roman’s If You Were Me… books that take the reader back in time.  This time we visit Renaissance Italy. The book begins with a brief introduction to the present day Florence and then the emergence from the Middle Ages, poverty and isolation of the people, to the Renaissance era. 

The story tells the life of a wealthy family with servants. It describes their life, work, food, clothing, habits and customs. There are brief bios of twelve famous people of that era. There also an emphasis on the art and artists of the time. This is another great addition to the series.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

If you Were Me and Lived in…Ancient Greece by Carole P. Roman

This is my first introduction into Carole P. Roman’s new series in which she not only takes us around the world, but also back in time.

These is much more information in this  book than her  current day If You Were Me books and are more for older children that will understand the time frame factor. There are also topics that are more appropriate for an older child, as in forms of government, war, prisoners, etc.   I learned quite a bit about ancient Greece from her description of their meals, customs and lifestyle. There are unique topics that will fascinate children and create interest in learning more.

I did not care for the overemphasis on the Greek gods, with polytheism introduced on one page, a paragraph about each one of the gods individually on following pages, and then a two page list and explanation of all of them again.

I think this is a promising new series and something for the older child.

I received a copy of If You Were Me and Lived In...Ancient Greece in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, May 27, 2016

If you Were Me and Lived in…Egypt by Carole P. Roman

You will feel like you are on an around the world trip with Carole P. Roman’s If You Were Me and Lived In… series.  This time the author gives us an introduction into the unique culture of Egypt. Yes, I would love to take a felucca down the Nile and nibble on some aish. Don’t worry if you find some strange words because there is a pronunciation guide next to each unique word and another at the end of the book with definitions included.  As with the other books in this series, the focus is describing what children would want to know most. What would I eat, where would I go and what toys would I play with.

This is an interesting and educational series that I highly recommend for children, grandchildren, preschools, elementary age, and church missionary program.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The God Who Heals by Johann Christoph Blumhardt and Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt

What a pleasure it has been to find the writings of Johann Christoph Blumhardt (1805-1880) and his son Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt (1842-1919) through the published works by Plough Publishing House.  I find their writings as fresh and relevant as if they were written today, and absolutely inspiring and encouraging.  (It is edited by Charles E. Moore)

The God Who Heals is a devotional with 61 entries.  Each starts with a Bible verse or passage, followed by an uplifting message. The messages are not just for those suffering physical illness because sickness is not always of the body, but also of heart, mind, or spirit.

Just a few of the chapter titles are “You Are Not Alone”, “When God Heals”,  “Inner Healing and More”,  and “God’s Promise Prevails”.

I am using it for my personal devotions, but it would also work for church groups or as a gift book. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Rocket-Bye by Carole P. Roman

Rocket-Bye is a pleasant and imaginative travel through space with a bedtime poem.  As they fly, constellations are named. The watercolor illustrations are soft and appropriate for the calm-down time just before bedtime. While the pictures are pleasant, I think something in the pictures should be a little brighter to draw attention or focus on one thing.
planets, stars and

This is another quality children’s book from this award-winning author.  

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Cave Kiddos is a book specifically designed for children with learning difficulties. Beautifully illustrated, the book introduces the child to the characters, Alk, Haha, Lala, and Zee.  The entire book is a vehicle to teach the child the word, Water.  Some of the characters say Wa and some say Ter until the end when it fits together for Water.

Erik Jay Cash became interested in speech development while working with his children, both delayed speakers. I don’t even pretend to know anything about learning disabilities, so I will trust that this is an effective way to teach words to a PreK or K aged child.  The only thing I would have liked is that there would be several words or a complete sentence included in the book. 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Bearing Witness, Edited by Charles E. Moore and Timothy Keiderling

Throughout the years men and women have suffered persecution for their witness of Christ. Bearing Witness is a look at 36 men and women ready to give their all, including their very lives to witness for Christ. Most tragic are the stories of brave souls standing for Christ only to be slain by others claiming to be Christians.

The book begins with the stoning of Stephen, the first to give his all for Christ, and the bystander, Saul who held the coats of those who stoned him. There are stories from around the world up to the most recent, the stories of those who died at the hands of Boko Haram.

These are important stories for us to remember and teach our children. Although we have had in the past an easy life of religious freedom in the United States, those days are gradually coming to a close. We need to be cautious as our country sets out to work against those of faith and we experience a political movement disguised as a religion creeping into the U.S.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Newsmakers by Lis Wiehl

The book started out very good and I thought that it might be her best yet, but it didn’t last long. Unfortunately, once again the author’s politics is displayed in an odd way. Through the character of Greg Underwood she describes the actions of American soldiers in the Iraq war as “wanton killing of civilians, the rapes” and goes on and on about how they slaughtered children and babies.

Written in the annoying present tense, the storyline is far from believable. Erica is a young alcoholic mother trying to get her life in order and starting a new career. She immediately becomes a media star because someone is setting her up with great news stories. The story is more like a teenager’s fantasy, but if you don’t mine lack of realism, it is a light, fast read. Some of the situations and the famous name-dropping is cringe-worthy.

I am not sure why this is published by a Christian publisher. There was nothing in it that dealt with faith, modesty, purity, or other themes expected from a Christian book.

 I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program

Monday, March 7, 2016

The Canary List by Sigmund Brouwer

Jamie Piper is a twelve-year-old foster child that has an unusual ability to sense evil.  She turns to Crockett for help but things spiral out of control.

The beginning of the book was interesting but it slowed down and dragged a bit. I was frustrated with the character of Crockett Grey. He found himself in situations beyond his control, but he seemed to just stumble through them. His life events just kept getting worse and worse, but he reacted to them as a simpleton.  

Overall it was an interesting subject and was worth the read. It was just not my favorite book by Sigmund Brouwer. 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

United States of Jihad by Peter Bergen

From the back cover: “Since 9/11, more than three hundred Americans—born and raised in Minnesota, Alabama, New Jersey, and elsewhere—have been indicted or convicted of terrorism charges. 

Page 23: “Jihad was already being waged in America many years before 9/11. Most Americans just weren’t aware of it.

Peter Bergen comprehensively examines the lives of American jihadists.  It is a frightening and sometimes infuriating look at those who are being radicalized here in the United States, some even traveling to join ISIS. It is well researched and extensively footnoted.  

Late in the book it becomes somewhat of an attack on the political “right” or “paranoid right” as Mr. Bergen calls it. He claims that the fear of Sharia law defies common sense and uses terms like endemic paranoia. It is an interesting book, but personal political views tarnish it.

There will be a companion HBO documentary, Homegrown, which will air in the spring of 2016.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

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

The next stop on our round the world trip is Italy. This international series is a wonderful way to Italy are included.  Because of the language, I think the words in this book are a little more difficult, but there is a 2 ½ page Pronunciation Guide with explanations for each.
teach children about cultures around the world.  The answers to all of the answers a child would ask about for names, foods, games, school, places to go, history, and celebrations life in

Once again I highly recommend this and the entire series for young children. The are entertaining, informational with a little history included.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The History Major by Michael Phillip Cash

Amanda wakes up in a fog after a long hard night of partying. Nothing is the way it should be, and she becomes more and more confused as she struggles to determine what is going on. The people she meets, the class she never wanted, and the situations that surround her seem more and more puzzling. This novella is another masterpiece by Michael Philip Cash.

Mr. Cash always weaves a thought-provoking and well developed tale, and The History Major is no exception. I was often just as confused as the character of Amanda as to whether I was in her reality or her dreams.  Very seldom does a book keep me guessing as to the outcome, but this one did just that.  It gives the reader a little history, a little horror, a little paranormal, and a lot of heart. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Parables by John Macarthur

Parables The Mysteries of God’s Kingdom Revealed Through the Stories Jesus Told.
John Macarthur’s book, Parables, is an interesting and comprehensive look at the parables of Jesus. He explains to whom they were directed and the purpose of these stories in his overall teachings.  He presents the parables as lessons told not to make his stories easier to understand, but instead to keep the message hidden and only for those accepting his teaching.

Had it been better organized, Parables would have been a good reference book to use in your daily readings, but I found it difficult to find specific topics or references. It is a useful for those who teach and could also be used as a daily devotional. 

I received a copy of Parables from the Booklook blogger program.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook By Pearl Barrett and Serene Allison

Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook - Eat Up and Slim down is a large 350-recipe cookbook. Every page is printed on glossy paper. It is helpful in keeping your cookbook clean, but also makes the book quite heavy –very heavy. 

That was the good; unfortunately the glossy paper is all I really liked about the cookbook.   It is obviously an attempt to sell their own “Happy Mama” brand of food items, which is fine if they are readily available.  Almost every recipe has some specialty ingredient that is not available unless you live in an area with “health food” stores.

I am a little concerned when someone with no nutritional training writes a diet book and these two ladies were recording artists, no nutrition or medical training.

My first thought upon opening it was that the cookbook is written with pretentious ingredients: Pristine Whey Protein, Integral Collagen, MCT oil, Pressed Peanut Flour, Mineral Salt.  Folks, salt is salt, and all salt is sea salt. If you like Stevia, you may like this cookbook, but I personally don’t like it. While Stevia may be indicated for certain health conditions, the FDA has concerns about side effects on other conditions. Stevia and sugar are BOTH natural sweeteners. If you cut down slowly on how much sugar you use in recipes and you will quickly become accustomed to much less sweet tasting foods.  

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Searching for Jesus by Robert J. Hutchinson

Searching for Jesus is an enjoyable and interesting book on the historical Jesus of Nazareth. This
book is well-researched and has 51 pages of reference notes.

Robert Hutchinson’s writing is very engaging. He brings you into the room with Jesus at the Last Supper and brings to life the steps Jesus walked to reach the Garden of Gethsemane.  You get a true sense of place as the events unfold.  

While many books on the historical Jesus try to make him less than He was, Searching for Jesus shows that new research and archeological finds align with the Gospels.  Of course, I did not agree with some of the conclusions the author presents, but just use a little discernment and you will enjoy the book.

I received a copy of Searching for Jesus as part of the BookLook Blog program in exchange for an honest review.

Book Description

For more than a century, Bible scholars and university researchers have been systematically debunking what ordinary Christians believed about Jesus of Nazareth. But what if the most recent Biblical scholarship actually affirmed the New Testament? What if Jesus was not a Zealot revolutionary, or a Greek Cynic philosopher, or a proto-feminist Gnostic, but precisely what he claimed to be: the divine Son of Man prophesied in the Book of Daniel who gave his life as a ransom for many? What if everything the Gospels say about Jesus of Nazareth—his words, his deeds, his plans—turned out to be true? Searching for Jesus changes “what if?” to “what is,” debunking the debunkers and showing how the latest scholarship supports orthodox Christian belief.
About the Author
Robert J. Hutchinson is an award-winning writer and author who studied philosophy as an undergraduate, moved to Israel to learn Hebrew, and earned a graduate degree in New Testament studies.
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