Thursday, October 2, 2014

Where Treetops Glisten

Book info and review
About the book: 

The crunch of newly fallen snow, the weight of wartime
Siblings forging new paths and finding love in three stories, filled with the wonder of Christmas

Turn back the clock to a different time, listen to Bing Crosby sing of sleigh bells in the snow, as the realities of America's involvement in the Second World War change the lives of the Turner family in Lafayette, Indiana.

In Cara Putman's White Christmas, Abigail Turner is holding down the Home Front as a college student and a part-time employee at a one-of-a-kind candy shop. Loss of a beau to the war has Abigail skittish about romantic entanglements---until a hard-working young man with a serious problem needs her help.

My thoughts:  This was a very sweet romance, with a hero that I couldn't help but fall in love with and a bubbly, sweet and intelligent girl who thinks her dad hung the moon. Even though Abigail doesn't want to have a relationship after her fiance died, she didn't reject friendship when a hurting, needy man crosses her path. I loved this story. I have only read one of Ms. Putman's books so she isn't an author really familiar to me. I might have to look up more of her books. 

Abigail's brother Pete is a fighter pilot hero returned from the European Theater in Sarah Sundin's I'll Be Home for Christmastrying to recapture the hope and peace his time at war has eroded. But when he encounters a precocious little girl in need of Pete's friendship, can he convince her widowed mother that he's no longer the bully she once knew?

My thoughts:  This was a totally great story!  I absolutely adored Pete! He had a difficult uphill climb to "give" the way his pastor suggested to this family. The black moment almost made me cry and made me absolutely furious at Grace. I know I'll sound like a broken record here, but I loved this story!  I have read all of Ms. Sundin's books so far, and enjoyed them all, but I absolutely loved this Christmas novella!

In Tricia Goyer's Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Meredith Turner, "Merry" to those who know her best, is using her skills as a combat nurse on the frontline in the Netherlands. Halfway around the world from home, Merry never expects to face her deepest betrayal head on, but that's precisely what God has in mind to redeem her broken heart.

My thoughts: i've read all of Ms. Goyer's books, too. I love how she gets to the heart of the action, showing us behind the scenes secrets of WWII that probably not many of us living today know about. HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS is set in a tiny village in the Netherlands. And God worked a Christmas miracle in hearts. Beautiful story. Though there were sad parts in this one that might cause a tear or two. 

The Turner family believes in God's providence during such a tumultuous time. Can they absorb the miracle of Christ's birth and His plan for a future?

Final thoughts:  I know I said this before with other novella collections, but I am so glad other big publishers have started to do novella collections. These are such great reads at any time of the year. I highly recommend WHERE TREETOPS GLISTEN for a fantastic WWII holiday read! Historical readers will want to start their holidays off by reading WHERE TREETOPS GLISTEN. 

Purchase a copy:

About the authors: 

TRICIA GOYER is a prolific author of nearly forty books, including Chasing Mona Lisa, and a speaker and blogger. 

CARA PUTMAN is the author of twenty books includingShadowed by Grace. She is the winner of the 2008 Carol Award for historical fiction. 

SARAH SUNDIN is the critically-acclaimed author of the Wings of the Nightingale series, the Wings of Glory series, and the forthcoming Waves of Freedom novels.

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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Prescription for Life

Author: Richard Furman, MD. FACS
Publisher: Revell
October 2014
ISBN: 978-0800723712
Genre: Health & Fitness

From the Inside Flap
"While many respond negatively to the thought of exercising, dieting, and changing their lifestyle, Dr. Furman has managed to take what is threatening and make it thrilling. When you finish this read, you will actually be excited about the possibility of a longer, healthier life."--from the foreword by Dr. David Jeremiah

Putting his three decades of experience and education to work, vascular surgeon Dr. Richard Furman gives you the strategies you need to live not just longer, but younger. This essential resource to a lifetime of health helps you

· achieve and maintain your ideal weight
· reduce your risk for life-threatening diseases
· make exercise a natural part of your life
· learn what foods to eat and what foods to avoid

Poor health during your "golden years" is not inevitable. It can and should be avoided at all cost. And with Dr. Furman's expert advice, you'll be well on your way to living a long, healthy, vibrant life.

From the Back Cover
"Dr. Furman lays out a thorough review of the medical literature, written in layman's terms in such a way that is easily understood. Read it. Apply it. If you are like the majority of Americans, you will become 7-12 years younger physiologically than you presently are chronologically."-- Bill Frist, nationally recognized heart and lung transplant surgeon, former U.S. Senate Majority Leader, and Chairman of the Executive Council of Cressey and Company

Dr. Richard Furman is a vascular surgeon with decades of experience. But his personal journey into living younger longer began with a tight pair of pants. Rather than go up a size, he decided to get back to his ideal weight. He changed how he ate. He began to exercise regularly. He started intensive research into what it takes to prevent the kind of conditions his patients had. What he found changed his life . . . and will change yours.

Do you want to be healthy and active all of your life?

Do you want to enjoy not just long life but quality life?

Do you want to be there--wholly there--for your family and friends?

Aging is inevitable, but heart disease, cancer, diabetes, dementia, stroke, erectile dysfunction, and other age- and obesity-related problems are not! Simple, sustainable changes you make today can mean the difference between enjoying time with friends and family, and wasting it in doctors' offices and hospitals.

PRESCRIPTION FOR LIFE is a must have on everyone’s bookshelves. It includes basic plans to be healthy, instead of getting “age related” or “obesity-related” diseases. As someone who has gone through breast cancer, I want to reduce my risk of more cancer, so I read those sections with interest. I also read the sections for medical issues my husband suffers with and learned that some are signs of more serious problems! Time for him to go to the doctor for a physical, I think.

This is a must read book. Don’t hesitate. Pick up your copy today. Mine is going on our bookcase – after I have my husband read it. And I’m going to start changes in our diet and exercise today. $9.99 Kindle. $15.06 hardcover. $19.73 audio cd. 352 pages. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Sacred Year

Michael Yankoski The Sacred Year

Book info and review
About the book: 

One searcher's honest and fascinating journey to encounter God, love others, and discover his true self through a year of spiritual practices.

Frustrated and disillusioned with his life as a Christian, motivational speaker Michael Yankoski was determined to stop merely talking about living a life of faith and start experiencing it. The result was a year dedicated to engaging in spiritual practices, both ancient and modern, in a life-altering process that continues to this day. Whether contemplating an apple for an hour before tasting it (attentiveness), eating on $2.00 a day (simplicity) or writing simple letters of thanks (gratitude), Michael discovered a whole new depth through the intentional life.

Stirred on by the guiding voice of Father Solomon, a local monk, Yankoski's life is slowly transformed. Both entertaining and heart-wrenching, Yankoski's story will resonate with those who wish to deepen their own committed faith as well as those who are searching --- perhaps for the first time --- for their own authentic encounter with the Divine.

My thoughts:  THE SACRED YEAR is not meant to be inhaled in one lump sum by reviewers. I was about three or four chapters in when I realized that. It's like sitting in your pastor's study and hearing him preach every message in his collection--at once. Too much, too soon.  So, that said, as a reviewer, reading it in one lump sum, it is overwhelming. Mind-boggling. Skim-inducing. Too much, too soon. 

BUT reading it as a reader, you read one section at a time. You ponder it. Highlight. Make notes. Study it. Think about it. Agree (or disagree.)  Find tidbits you can use on your own spiritual journey. And then, it is not overwhelming, mind-boggling, nor skim-inducing. It is inspiring. Motivational. Encouraging. Engaging. 

I requested this book because my son read Mr. Yankoski's Under the Overpass and was fascinated by it. It's on his keeper-shelf. I don't think my son read any of Mr. Yankoski's other books, and I hadn't read any of them, but I asked if he'd be interested in THE SACRED YEAR if I reviewed it. I didn't ask him to; he's a busy university student who makes time to read, but it's on his schedule, not the calendar the serious reviewer has to maintain.  He agreed. And I'm glad he did. Because Mr. Yankoski is a really thought provoking author.  I will read this book again. Slower. As it's meant to be read. 

Purchase a copy:

About the author: Michael Yankoski is a writer, aspiring theologian, and urban homesteader who dreams of becoming a competent woodworker, musician, and sailor. He received his MA in theological studies at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia, is a (novitate) Oblate of St. Benedict, and has authored four books. Michael grew up in Colorado, feels at home on the Pacific Coast, and currently resides in Indiana, where he and his wife are pursuing PhDs at the University of Notre Dame.

Find Michael online: websiteFacebookTwitter

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God is at work everywhere. And every-when. We only need to open our eyes and take the time to notice.

Michael Yankoski became jaded and disillusioned with his life as a Christian motivational speaker, feeling as though he was another act in the “Christian Carnival.” Religion started to become a fa├žade instead of a deep, nourished, lived experience of faith. He knew he needed to stop talking about his faith and begin living and practicing it. In a sort of desperation, Michael dedicated the next year to engaging various spiritual practices, and The Sacred Year is a firsthand account of the downs and ups, the failures and successes of an honest search for answers to the human yearning for life, love, and God.
It’s time to stop talking about your faith and begin living and experiencing it.

Join Michael and #EmbraceTheSacred—seek out God at work in the mundane and attend to what God is doing in your life. Share those moments on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and make sure to use the tag #EmbraceTheSacred.


 As a thank-you for ordering The Sacred Year, Michael is giving away a free ebook! Email your proof of purchase of The Sacred Year to, and you will receive A Straightforward Guide to Three Essential Spiritual Practices ebook for FREE! Learn more here.



Monday, September 29, 2014

The James Miracle

Miracles may happen when we least expect them, but they have a habit of jumping out at us when we need them the most.

James Miracle.f

TITLE: The James Miracle
AUTHOR: Jason F. Wright
Page Count: 112 pages
Genre: Fiction
Format: Hardcover 

Fans of New York Times bestselling author Jason F. Wright can
now enjoy his first novel, never before released to the national

Sam and Holly Foster never expected the hardship that caused
their perfect world to shatter. It will take the miracle of their
young son James’s toy boat and a mysterious man to remind
them that heaven is not far and that love is never lost.

My thoughts:  This was kind of a sad book, tear-jerker.  Sam was born to encouraging parents and he thrived as a salesman--until one day when the world turned upside down.  

Read this book with a box of tissue.  It is a book that will go on the keeper shelf to be read over and over. Thought provoking. 


Praise for The James Miracle:

“Like Christmas Jars, the incredible book that started a movement and first introduced me to Jason, The James Miracle reminds me why faith and family are inseparable.”—Glenn Beck, #1 bestselling author and founder of The Blaze

At any given second, somewhere in this grand old world of His, someone kneels beside a bed, or a couch, or inside a mildewed cardboard box underneath some remote highway overpass, and asks, “God, do miracles exists?”
They do.
And not just on Thursday afternoons.

About the Author: 

Jason F. Wright is the New York Times bestselling author of Christmas Jars and The Wednesday Letters. He writes a weekly column for the Deseret News and Northern Virginia Daily. His articles have appeared in over fifty newspapers and magazines across the United States including The Washington TimesThe Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. A popular speaker, Jason has been seen on CNN, FoxNews, C-SPAN, and on local television affiliates around the country. Jason and his wife, Kodi, live in Virginia with their four children.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Treasury of Bible Stories / Interview with Kelly Pulley

Book info and review
About the book: Children ages 4-8 will be delighted by these rhyming Bible stories pairing spiritual truths with playful illustrations.

Featuring lyrical stories full of lighthearted moments, this colorful collection of Magnificent Tales is perfect for reading out loud. As families read these stories night after night, they will make memories together while learning about the Bible.

My thoughts: TREASURY OF BIBLE STORIES is rhymes. Some of the Bible stories aren't exactly right, for instance, with the resurrection of Jesus, the poems say the guards pretended they were dead, but that isn't right. They actually fainted.  Other than some of the facts being misrepresented, the book was good and we like it. It is a good book for little kids, such as toddlers, preschoolers and early elementary age kids.  It is good for use in Sunday school and nurseries or children's church when teachers or leaders read to the kids. 

My twelve year old enjoyed reading it, but she feels it is way below her age limit. My nine year old liked it more - but she is only slightly above the recommended ages of 4 - 8. 

If you have children or grandchildren ages 4 - 8 or work with the children's ministry at your church or Christian school, you'll want to pick up a copy of TREASURY OF BIBLE STORIES. I thought they were very well done. 

Purchase a copy:

About the author: Kelly Pulley works from his middle Tennessee home writing and illustrating children's picture books, most recently Ten Unusual Features of Lulu McDunn and The Cycling Wangdoos. He is best known for illustrating dozens of books in the Beginner's Bible series, including The Beginner's Bible (over 1.25 million copies sold).

Find Kelly online: websiteFacebook

Treasury of Bible Stories: Rhythmical Rhymes of Biblical Times

 Blog Tour Schedule

An interview with Kelly Pulley

Q: Who was the Treasury of Bible Stories written for and what are some of the best ways parents can use the book within the home? Can Bible class teachers use it too?

I’ve illustrated many children’s Bible storybooks over the years; most are for toddlers or early readers. Treasury of Bible Stories, however, was created primarily for more advanced readers (4-8 years). It’s meant to be fun and entertaining, yet it follows the original Bible stories very closely; it has no made-up characters or talking animals, etc., and the stories all have clear messages. So, yes, I think it could be a very useful tool for church or at-home Bible classes.

Q: You’re a well-known illustrator, having done the art for the most recent release of The Beginner’s Bible, which sold 1.5 million copies. How did you transition from being a graphic designer to illustrator and writer?

I had a lull in illustration projects so I thought it would be a good idea to try something new during my down time. Writing children’s stories was an obvious choice since I was already illustrating them, but I had no idea if I could write a decent story or not. I’d never tried. My first attempt was Food for a Fish. I showed it to my publisher, and she liked it! That was in 2008.

Q: Why is it so important for parents to make sure their children are getting a steady diet of Bible stories?

As we get older and busier it gets harder and harder to find/make time to read our Bibles. At least that’s what I’ve found in my life. Getting in the habit of reading our Bibles as early as possible seems to me to be a good idea. And when something is fun for kids, they will more likely want to do it.

Q: Treasury of Bible Stories has been called “The Bible . . . if it were written by Dr. Seuss.” Has his work been an inspiration for you?

Yes, definitely. When I was in grade school, and I was in the school library, I would always head straight to the Dr. Seuss books. I loved the rhyming stories and the fantastical illustrations. I still do. It’s not that I try to make my stories sound “Dr. Seuss-like,” but I enjoy writing in the same meter he usually used. It works well for longer, more complex stories.

Q: Do you think the cadence of the rhyming in this book will help children remember the stories better?

The stories are a lot of fun to read, not only because of the rhyme and meter, but also because of word plays and the wacky pictures. I think because they are so fun, they will be reread over and over, which will help them to be remembered.

Q: In our world of slick marketing and non-stop stimulation, kids are more media-savvy than ever. How will Treasury of Bible Stories hold their attention? Why does using it as a bedtime storybook work well?

The illustrations in Treasury of Bible Stories are more contemporary and the stories more entertaining than most Bible storybooks. The stories are long enough to get the entire story and message in without dragging on and on. Most of the stories take around ten minutes to read. Just long enough for an end-of-the-day wind-down.

Q: Kids love repetition — but all parents have had a moment where they’ve thought they cannot read a particular book to their children one more time. Why won’t parents mind picking this book up night after night?

I have four kids, so you know I’ve been there! I must admit, I’ve tried hiding books or skipping pages to get through them faster . . . that never worked! I think the writing is clever enough to make them enjoyable for adults as well as children. I still like them, but I doubt that counts.

Q: How did you decide which Bible stories went into this book?

I started out with the most popular stories: Noah, David and Goliath, Daniel and the Lions, Jonah and the Whale and the story of the Nativity. The stories leading up to and including Christ’s death and resurrection were a must. For the rest I chose the most interesting stories with a good message that brought to mind the best images for illustrations. A good story should stand without illustrations but also work with only illustrations and no words.

Q: Which story in Treasury of Bible Stories is your favorite?

I have two favorites. One is “A Shout for the Lord (The Convincing Story of Gideon’s Doubt).” I like it because it has a lot going on (it has action and soldiers and such), but also because I can relate to Gideon. Many times I’ve felt God leading me, but I doubted I was the right guy for the job. My wife has warned me more than once that I was thinking like Gideon.

My other favorite story is “He Has Risen!” It’s the last story in the book and the last one I wrote. Sometimes during the writing process the right word or phrase will just pop into my head without any thought at all, as though it were a gift from God. This story has many gifts in it!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Hidden in the Stars

QUILTS of love robin caroll hidden in the stars

Book Info and review
About Quilts of Love: Quilts tell stories of love and loss, hope and faith, tradition and new beginnings. TheQuilts of Love series focuses on the women who quilted all of these things into their family histories. A new book releases each month and features contemporary and historical romances as well as women's fiction and the occasional light mystery. You will be drawn into the endearing characters of this series and be touched by their stories.

About the book: 

A quilt holds the secret to a killer still at large---and who his next victim will be.

Following an attack that killed her mother and stole her ability to speak, 21-year-old Sophia Montgomery has no choice but to accept her estranged grandmother's offer to return to their family home.

Although detective Julian Frazier is working hard on the case, Sophia unknowingly frustrates him because her inability to speak thwarts her eyewitness evidence. The fact that Julian is undeniably attracted to Sophia doesn't help either, so Julian hides his feelings as concern for a trauma victim and focuses instead on finding the killer.

Little do they know, the clues to solving the case may be right in front of them, displayed in Sophia's mother's "special" quilt design. Who will realize the secret Sophia's unwittingly been hiding in plain sight? When the truth comes to light, will Sophia find her voice again? Or will the murderer---still at large---silence her forever?

My thoughts:  I was offered the chance to endorse Ms. Caroll's book and I turned it down. It sounded scary and I'm a member of the 'big honkin' chicken club', as coined by Brandilyn Collins and few other scary suspense writers. Somehow, I'm not sure how, I ended up on the sign up sheet to review HIDDEN IN THE STARS. I don't remember volunteering, but I might have, on accident.  

To my surprise HIDDEN IN THE STARS wasn't nearly as scary as I thought. It was written more in the style of the NCIS investigative television shows that used to be on TV (not sure if they still are. We don't have a TV.)  Julian and his partner, Brody, are trying to solve the murder of a Russian ballet princess Nina and the extensive damage to her daughter, Sophia, ruining her dreams of competing in the Olympics. 

HIDDEN IN THE STARS wasn't scary at all. There were a few moments when the tension slid up the radar, but not many. Instead, this was a great romantic suspense, and the ending scenes surprised me somewhat, with the who-dun-it and why. If you like romantic suspense and shy away from the super scary stuff, don't let HIDDEN IN THE STARS get away. It isn't super scary.  It is great. Highly recommended. 5 stars. 

Learn more about this book and the series at the Quilts of Love website.

About the Author: 

Robin Caroll is the author of 22 published novels. When she isn't writing, Robin spends time with her husband of 20-plus years, her three beautiful daughters and two handsome grandsons, and their character-filled pets at home in Little Rock, Arkansas. She gives back to the writing community by serving as conference director for ACFW. Her books have been named finalists in such contests as the Carol Award, HOLT Medallion, Daphne du Maurier, RT Reviewer's Choice Award, Bookseller's Best, and Book of the Year.

Connect with Robin: websiteFacebookTwitter

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Riley Mae and the Sole Fire Safari

Author: Jill Osborne
Publisher: Zonderkidz
August 2014
ISBN:  978-0310742838
Genre: Tweener

If you’re going to run for your life you gotta wear the right shoes.

Pre-teen shoe model Riley Mae laces up her flaming orange solefire running shoes for another ad campaign. This time in Kenya, Africa. Kenya is the perfect place for runners to train. With it’s high elevation and encouragement for Olympic athletes. It’s also a great hiding place for Riley and her swift river friends from so called enemies back in the United States… but for how long?

Adjusting to a new culture is difficult. Every chore is tiring, school is miles away, and there’s always the threat of a lurking lion that can ruin everything. But after spending time with the children and Christian women in her friend Sunday’s remote village, Riley finds herself growing stronger and praying for God to use her to spread the good news. Her prayers are answered in exciting and startling ways when she meets an orphaned girl seeking answers at a children’s home, but also when an error in judgment causes her to stumble into a surprise meeting with the enemy.

RILEY MAE AND THE SOLE FIRE SAFARI is the third book in the Good News Shoes series. I really liked it. It teaches you to love your enemies and not seek revenge. It is very exciting and if Riley Mae was a real person she’d be my absolute best friend. I recommend RILEY MAE AND THE SOLE FIRE SAFARI to other girls my age (twelve) or close to it. It is a good book and a great series.

I recommend it for church libraries, Christian school libraries, homeschool libraries, or other tween girls (ages 8-12). $4.27 Kindle. $7.19 paperback. 256 pages. Also available in audio book or MP3.