Tuesday, January 31, 2012

"Not In The Heart" by Chris Fabry: Book Review

“I’ve found the only thing I can control is how well I tell the story and follow the truth. . . . The truth will always lead you to a good place.”--Truman Wiley, lead character in "Not In The Heart"
Welcome to the world of a gifted, out-of-work investigative reporter and writer who is estranged from his family that needs him desperately and which he needs desperately.  A world of devastating illness, addiction, crime, love, trust, distrust, societal struggles with organ donation, and the world of the condemned on death row.

This book has overlapping plot lines and character development that will leave your mind reeling and won't allow you to put it down for long at a time before you are drawn to pick it up again.

Chris Fabry has done it again!  He has created a tale that stabs at our heart's door and jogs our conscience with issues that we sometimes don't want to face.  Issues to which we and society as a whole don't really have clear-cut answers.

As this plot unfolds, so do the scars of life come to the surface and a healing of soul begins to take place.  Personal healing of relationships between father and daughter, father and son, wife and husband.  Healing of a soul in need of a redeemer but which struggles with accepting that redemption and forgiveness.

No peaking at the back of this book for it's exciting conclusion.  This is a read in which you will not be disappointed.

ISBN: 978-1-4143-4861-2  Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Who is Chris Fabry?
Chris Fabry is an award-winning author and radio personality who hosts the daily program Chris Fabry Live! on Moody Radio. He is also heard on Love Worth Finding, Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, and other radio programs. A 1982 graduate of the W. Page Pitt School of Journalism at Marshall University and a native of West Virginia... Read Full Bio 

Addiction:   The main male character in this book, Truman, is addicted.  His addiction is gambling.  Most of us have someone in our lives who are addicted to something.  Growing up in a conservative Christian home, there were few addictions and vices with which we had to deal.  There were, however, a number of "smokers."  Chain smokers light up one cigarette after another, finish meals with a smoke, and begin and end the day with a smoke.  Addicted?  Certainly.  Most of the time smoking is not something that ruins families like drinking, gambling, immorality.  But it is addicting, and it has a lasting, detrimental affect.  Our family has dealt with emphysema and cancer as a result their smoking habit or addiction. 

What has your family dealt with in the line of addiction?  Share your story in the comment area and I will share them with the author, Chris Fabry.

The release date in February coincides with observances that create a greater awareness of the issues brought forward in the book. National Organ Donor Day, as designated by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, is set for February 14. The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) will be observing Problem Gambling Awareness Week March 4-10, 2012.

I was provided a complimentary an advance reader copy of "Not In The Heart" by Tyndale House Publishers in order to provide a review.  I was under no obligation to write a positive review. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

"All God's Children--Why We Look Different" by Ken Ham: Book Review

This is a small, board book in "cut-out" shape somewhat like paper doll and a shape most young children would really enjoy holding and carrying around with them.  Each page shows a child of with different features and skin color.  Author, Ken Ham, delicately explains that though we are all different we are still of one race.  This is a difficult topic for adults and even more so for children.  However, the little book simply states that though different, we are of one race created by God.

Normally, board "shape" books are for very young children - toddlers.  However, this book could easily be utilized by parents to teach preschool as well as young elementary children.

I recommend this book.  
I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by New Leaf Publishing Group for Master Books.  A positive review was not required.
ISBN:  9780890514399  Publisher:  Master Books

Sunday, January 29, 2012

"Then Sings My Soul: Book 3" by Robert J. Morgan: Book Review

Years ago my husband and I purchased a book of Hymns and their stories.  We loved using it in our home as we raised our five children.  The music of the hymns we loved so dearly and how those hymns came to be written and put to music enthralled us and our children.

Hymns.  How they can thrill and satisfy our soul's deep longing with their melodious message and their wonderful theological truths. 

When my dear mother lay dying in the hospital, my family gathered around her bed.  She was virtually unconscious, yet we still spoke to her telling her we loved her and recounted episodes how she was involved in  her grand children's lives.  I went out for a brief respite  (enforced by my children), and when I returned to the room, my girls (all three were keeping vigil - from North Carolina, Georgia, and West Virginia) were singing beautifully the wonderful old hymns of the faith.  Mom loved the hymns though she was a "timid" singer herself.

I know this musical encounter reached down in the depths of Mom's heart and touched her as she was beginning her final voyage to reach the shores of her heavenly home.

Then Sings My Soul:  Book 3 by Robert J. Morgan is divided into four parts:  I-The History of Hymnody, II-Do You Know These Hymns, III-Six Hymns Stories I Love to Tell, and IV-Hymning in Private and in Public.

I was surprised to learn how ancient "O Sacred Head, Now Wounded" actually was.  The words are attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux who was born around 1091.    The harmony is by J.S.Bach.

Near the end of Then Sings My Soul: Book 3, we read that in recent years, President Bush on September 11 after entering the solitude of his President Cabinet aboard Air Force 1 recalled the words of one of his favorite hymns - "God of Grace and God of Glory" and especially the line..... "Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, for the facing of this hour."

The wonderful history of how our hymns and worship songs developed is beautifully presented in part 1.  And don't you love having at your hands a book so  you can find that special hymn you want to sing but just can't quite remember the words to? 

I definitely recommend this book for the home library, the church musician, minister of music, pastor, or church library.  It is a good resource.
Another blogger wrote....
" The music of our past can sometimes reach the spiritual deserts of our hearts in a way that preaching and prayers cannot...."
When BookSneeze.com offered "Then Sings My Soul: Book 3" by Robert J. Morgan, I was delighted to be able to render a review of such a valuable asset for an individual or a home.
I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com http://BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Friday, January 27, 2012

"A is for Adam-the Gospel from Genesis" by Ken & Mally Ham

Christian parents need to build a library for their children complete with secular stories but also books that teach the child of God, Christ, and eternity.  Ken Ham has certainly been an advocate of strong, Christian literature that teaches the truth in Genesis and the truth in our Bible.  

I received a beautiful, yet complete with delightful illustrations, flip book that takes the parent and child through the alphabet beginning with "A is for Adam."  The book has cute rhyme that helps to grab his/her attention and engage the mind for solid memory of the information.  Example:
J is for Jovial, as Satan must have been,
The Devil was gleeful with all he had seen.
He was able to trick poor Eve with a lie,
"Obey all my words, and you'll surely not die."
and then after that dire episode.....
M is for Moan, what a mess sin did make,
Thorns, thistles and death, and cursed ground for man's sake.
God had to judge sin.  He's so holy and pure,
But God is so good, He provided a cure.
For the Parent:  Each page has another correlated page in the back of the book with Overview, Directed Discussion, Core Truth Takeaway, and Quick Review to aid in the instruction of the child. 

I highly recommend this book for homeschools, Christian Schools, and private homes.

 Bio:  Ken Ham is the founder and executive director of Answers in Genesis in the USA and one of the most sought-after Christian speakers in North America. Ken is the author or co-author of many books, including The Lie: Evolution, The Genesis Solution, Genesis and the Decay of the Nations, What Really Happened to the Dinosaurs?, A is for Adam, D is for Dinosaur, Creation Evangelism for the New Millennium (now called Why Won't They Listen?), and One Blood: The Biblical Answer to Racism. He is heard daily on the radio program, “Answers...with Ken Ham,” on more than 300 stations worldwide. Ken is also featured in various videos including the series, “Answers in Genesis with Dr. Gary Parker,” and the 12-part series of 28-minute videos, “Answers...with Ken Ham.” Ken's teaching is clear, true to the Bible, engaging, and challenging. Many have found salvation and others have been encouraged and equipped to reach others with the gospel through Ken's ministry.

I received a complimentary review copy of "A is for Adam" from New Leaf Publishing Group for Master Books and was not required to render a favorable review.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Marriage for Meghan by Mary Ellis: Book Review

I discovered author Mary Ellis's work this past Fall and realized that she writes a very interesting fictional account of life in the Old Order Amish community.  Below are the links for the first two books I read and reviewed by Ms. Ellis.  I just completed a third read of her's, A Marriage for Meghan.

Meghan is a petite 19 year old Amish young lady that aspires to become a teacher in the district's one-room Amish school house.  But Meghan has to overcome her past reputation as a prankster and flighty child and teen before she can be entrusted with this responsibility by the sober Bishop (her father) and other leaders of the community.

Factor into the story a young suitor  that Meghan has known all her life and who really doesn't want to wait around while she achieves her dream. We learn that the Englischer world is not alone in heartbreak.

However, evil enters into this calm, serene world of mild-mannered families serving God in the form of hate crimes, vandalism, and arson bringing perplexity and anxiety to the heart and mind of those affected by it.  Undesired by the Bishop, local law enforcement arrives and a FBI Special Agent is sent to solve the problem.

I recommend this as an excellent read that doesn't tarnish the mind and spirit of the reader.
 I received Marriage for Meghan directly from the author as a donation for our school's library.  I reviewed it as a courtesy for her donation and was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Spitzer Hafen by Randall Franklin: Book Review

I was excited to receive Spitzer Hafen to read and review from the publisher.  It is in the category of Christian Suspense and the publisher says it is "Christian fiction for thinkers."

However, I had difficulty reading and following the storyline; and this was in part because it begins laying the ground work for the main story by introducing a plethora of characters that I found not fully developed, lacking in depth or dimension, unsavory,  and unworthy of Christian reading.  The degree of crimes described such as murder, lying, exploitation, deception, etc. was intense and made this reader uncomfortable to the extent that I did not finish this book.

The storyline involves assassins that are on the hire by a leader who wants to rid America of Christianity.  However, a "religious" group is already fully ramped up to do this by perverting Christianity with apostate doctrine.  There are, however, a couple of missionaries who are hosting a small radio station.  Also, the book's enemies of Christianity are hard at work trying to rid the world of these missionaries.

The author, Randall Franklin, deserves an A+ for length and a nice book.  It just simply is not one I can recommend, though.  Mr. Franklin  does brings a lot to the table in the line of  life experiences that enable him to write realistically.  Mr. Franklin is the author of several books which may be found at http://www.mikvelk.com/estore.html.

Publisher: Mikvelk Publishing, LLC   ISBN-13: 978-1466212145

BookCrash and Mikvelk Publishing, LLC provided a complimentary copy of Spitzer Hafen in exchange for an unbiased review.  I was not encouraged or required to write a positive review.

Friday, January 20, 2012

What you learned as a kindergartener can help you as a politician

If you really stop and think about life in general, you learned some pretty good rules in kindergarten that will help govern you through all of these "life in general" moments.

I wish our politicians and those aspiring for the highest office and highest honor our country has to offer would remember some of the rules they learned in kindergarten.  You see they learned most of what they need there and would do well to study them again.  

 For example:
  • Play fair. Don't knock folks down either verbally or physically. 
  • Don't hit people. This one is good!  Hitting folks below the belt physically, emotionally, verbally, or mentally is just plain wrong.
  • Clean up your own mess. You know the old saying, "You're responsible for your own actions."  That means if you make a mess it's yours to own and yours to clean up.
  • Don't take things that aren't yours. That means you don't take another man's wife or another woman who isn't your wife.  You don't take someone's reputation and run it in the ground.
  • Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody. Yes.  That means when you say something "hurtful" you say you're sorry.  Better yet, don't say it.
  • Wash your hands before you eat. Clean hands and a clean heart are always well beloved.
  • Flush. Sanitize everything you can.  Flush dirty words, dirty deeds, and everything dirty down the drain.  Filth corrupts.
  • When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together. It's a big world out there.  You need to watch out that you don't get run over.  So hold hands and stick together with friends for security.  That goes nationally as well as individually.
  • And remember that one of the first words you learned to read was  - LOOK.  Don't forget to look around you in awe and wonder at the wonderful World God has created for us to inhabit. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

"Beyond the Farthest Star" by Bodie & Brock Thoene: Book Review

The authors have written an entirely different type of book with Beyond the Farthest Star from their usual reads.  Their historical novels - no matter the timeline - are always wonderful reads.  This new book  deals with characters who are flawed, deceptive, and evil.  The meanness of some of the characters literally makes my skin crawl.  I am not speaking of demons and dragons or supernatural.  I am referring to the downright meanness of the human nature of fallen men. 

The book opens with the family in Beyond the Farthest Star resettling in a small town in Texas.  The father is a preacher who began his career preaching as a young boy.  The daughter (an only child) is plagued by some troubling emotional or mental condition for which she in medicated.  Mom has issues and secrets and she loses herself in flamboyant romance novels.  They carry secrets, each of them.

Into the mixture, we have a corrupt senator and a battle of church and state.  Evil gets an opportunity to rear it's head here, too.

Supporting cast members include teens exuding peer pressure and cliques.  Rock music in garages, and drunken fathers manhandling their sons.

We also find spiritual truth prevailing,  but it seems to be slow in coming.  Revelation of secrets and the impact they have on individuals leaves the reader reeling.

Again, the Thoenes have written a very good book.  The have taken the screen play of Andrew Librizzi and novelized it.  The storyline is not one I would prefer, but it is good and, sadly, probably a very real reflection on today's world.
I received a complimentary copy of Beyond the Farthest Star from Zondervan via NetGalley for review and am under no obligation to provide a positive review.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

"Love Blooms in Winter" by Lori Copeland: Book Review

Lori Copeland's newest book, "Love Blooms in Winter" was released January 2012.  Set in 1892 - this is the first in the Dakota Diaries series of books.

Set in North Dakota during  the Winter, the story begins with the female lead, Mae,  working as postmistress in the small town's general store.  She is a young single lady responsible for the care of her mentally challenged young brother.

Across the street from where Mae and Jeremy live is the home of Pauline, a very elderly lady who has no family and encroaching dementia.  Mae being a kind, caring, Christian young lady has undertaken the care of Pauline; but she is growing desperate knowing that Pauline needs the care of real family.  The problem is, Pauline can't recall having any "kin."

The storyline develops and the male lead, Tom, enters the scene.  There are hysterically  funny moments and distinct personalities that will leave you chuckling or with a warm-fuzzy feeling.

This is an easy, relaxing read and the author, Lori Copeland, captures the personality and characterization of the townspeople.  The story is woven with bits and pieces of early Americana and the life and hardships endured during the early settlement of the Dakotas.

Lori Copeland has written well over 40 books and brings to the table pleasant reads that are woven with the threads of Christianity.  I highly recommend her books.
ISBN: 978-0-7369-3019-2

Harvest House Publishers provided a complimentary copy of Love Blooms in Winter by Lori Copeland for my review.  I was not required to post a positive review.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Joshua Covenant by Diane and David Munson: Book Review

In their life "before writing Christian suspense fiction," David was an NCIS Special Agent, and an undercover DEA Special Agent and Diane was a Federal prosecutor.  But they "retired" from federal life in the fast lane to suspense novels that combine their exciting cases into factional fiction.  They change the names and places. Visit their website to learn more about their writing and the 6 thrillers to their credit.   www.DianeAndDavidMunson.com.

Their newest release, The Joshua Covenant, takes you on a fast paced ride with CIA agent Bo Rider who is "under cover" as a State official stationed with the American Embassy in Israel.  His purpose in doing this is to uncover a mole.

Danger.  Espionage. Bombs. Past family history and current entanglements. His loyalty to his country challenged and his identity in question. Sinister forces unleashed internationally.  It reads like startling headlines.

You won't find questionable behavior or language in this book.  The book is written to a Christian audience but by doing so loses none of its excitement and power.  All audiences will enjoy this book:  mature teens, young adults, men or women, Christian or non-believer.  The storyline is enthralling.

Author Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pP20D0BOMg,
Website: www.DianeAndDavidMunson.com
Two Ex-Feds News Wrap Blog: www.DianeAndDavidMunson.com/blog,
Author FaceBook Page,
Publisher:  Micah House Media, LCC, Grand Rapids, Mich.
ISBN: 978-0-9835590-0-9
I received a complimentary copy of The Joshua Covenant from the authors, Diane and David Munson.  I was not required to post a positive review.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Donkey That No One Could Ride: Children's Bible Story - Book Review

You will see a young donkey tied there that no one has ever ridden.
This beautiful children's story book in lovely rhyme is a loosely told version of the Biblical account of the donkey that was chosen to be the one on which our Savior, Jesus Christ, would ride into Jerusalem the Sunday prior to his death.  (Found in Luke 19:28-38)

Anthony DeStefano, author, and Richard Cowdrey, illustrator, have worked together to bring a lovely version of this lowly beast who feels no worth but who is chosen to be the one to carry or Lord.
He was tied to a post on a small dusty road
And left all alone while his tears overflowed,
Left all alone and wondering why
He was born to be weak, and born to be shy,
And born to be frightened,
And born to cry.
Although this little book is focused on the account of the donkey being chosen to carry our Lord, there is also an underlying theme.  It is that our Lord sees worth in each and every one of us and can use us for His purposes.
"My help is enough;
It's all that you need,
It's all you require in the life to succeed."
Children will delight to have this read to them repeatedly and will also be enchanted by the good use of rhyme to tell the story.  Cadence and rhyme are beautifully done by Anthony DeStefano.

Publisher:  Harvest House  Expected Publication Release:  February 1, 2012
ISBN:  9780736948517
I was provided a complimentary  copy of "The Donkey That No One Could Ride" by Harvest House Publishers in order to provide a review.  I was under no obligation to write a positive review.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Living on the colorful side of the plate

I think we all know and realize that we all need to live our lives a bit more on the healthy side.  You know...... less sugar, more fruit - less cookies and cake, more veggies - less living dangerously, more living with an eye toward safety and health.  Well, I saw this picture online today and it absolutely made me want to start nibbling.  So take a look and salivate with me for some delicious "good-for-you" eats.
Now isn't that one of the most beautiful array of goodies you've seen recently?  What is your favorite?  Take a pick of one of each color.  Indulge yourself.  Go whole veggie!

Good Housekeeping's list of top food trends of 2011 - click here