Saturday, September 28, 2013

365 Pocket Devotions

The best way to start my day is a good devotion to focus on the things of God. 365 Pocket Devotions has a daily text with a Bible verse taken mostly from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation. Each day begins with “A reflection on:” and then a main topic, followed by times when this topic will be most applicable to my life. Just a few of the topics are Gentleness, Hope, Joy, Unanswered Prayer, Finding True Life and Grace. There is also a Topical Index at the back for those days you may need a particular topic.  In spite of our busy days, these brief passages are perfect for a quick focus for the day.

The Bible passages are perfectly matched with the devotion text, not something I always find in devotionals, and even though the text is short, they are meaningful. One of the shortest devotions was on Hope, and I thought it was also one of the most powerful.

The cover is a pretty color that stands out so I can’t misplace it. It is made of smooth imitation leather and the binding seems very secure for long use.

My only complaint was the numbering of the pages. Instead of a perpetual calendar type labeling, it was just Day 1, Day 2, etc. I found it much more difficult to remember where I was, although it does have a ribbon place marker which does help. I would still have preferred a month and day format.

I received a review copy from Tyndale in return for my honest opinion. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Grievous Bodily Harm by Jane Bennett Munro

Marcus Manning is hired to help with transitioning a privately owned hospital to one of the large hospital corporations. Unfortunately, he is an over-the-top jerk harassing his subordinates. Just one of those subordinates is the main character, Toni Day. The story held my interest, but there was absolutely nothing believable in the story. The culture in the hospital didn't ring true, and most of the characters have such exaggerated personalities that they became obnoxious, especially the wise-crackin’ Toni. While I know the book was written in a lighthearted manner, there was one incident in the book that just irritated me. Toni and another character, Jeannie, are talking about other hospital employees and one in particular. She was a fellow medical professional, a Certified Nursing Assistant, and they ridiculed her lack of education. They also called her feeble minded.
It was Just OK for me and I think it needed less dialog and more narration.

Bumper Wipe Clean Activities by Juliet David and Illustrated by Marie Allen

Nice and compact, this Bumper Wipe Clean Activities book can be carried along for use while traveling or for a home busy-book. The book has bright colors and good illustrations and with seventy pages of activities, it will keep a child busy for a quite a while. Of course, the wipe-clean feature allows for reuse.  The activities include dot-to-dot, mazes, tracing words and numbers, color pages, drawing pages, misplaced items, same or different, and so much more.  The hardcover and laminated pages are very sturdy and the book opens flat for ease of use.

The book comes with one dry-erase marker, but a note on the back of the book states that most good quality felt-tip pens and crayons can be used on the laminated pages.  The book is labeled for 3+ and for most of the activities that is a good guideline.  I recommend this as a project book or a fun devotional activity book.

I received a review copy for Kregel in exchange for a honest review.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Stillwell, A Haunting on Long Island by Michael Phillip Cash

Stillwell is a very sad story of the grief of a newly widowed father, his children, and the adjustments they must make. The grief overwhelms most of the book and the ghost story gets rather lost in it. I wish the dramatic scenes at the old home had started more slowly and built up gradually. The house and grounds needed more description in a way to create more of a creepy atmosphere. I did like the characters and it was a fast easy read.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Harriet Beamer Strikes Gold by Joyce Magnin

Harriet Beamer Strikes Gold is the second Harriet Beamer book. In the first book Harriet has come to point in her life when her family thinks it is best that she move across the country to live with them. Now in the second book Harriet is settle in, but is restless and looks for things to do and friends to find. She meets Lily and Old Man Crickets, a teen and her father. Harriet immediately gets swept into “gold fever”. This is a lighthearted book a quick read, and even a little silly in places. The message of what having a true treasure is evident as Harriet spends more time with her son and gets better acquainted with her daughter-in-law, Prudence. It was an OK book, but I preferred the first book for two reasons. In the first book Harriet’s personality was that of a long-time married woman, recently widowed, becoming a bit of a free spirit. Although I don’t think it was the intent of the author, in this book, I think Harriet came across as someone flighty and of impaired judgment due to aging. The other reason was that I was totally put off by a conversation Harriet had with the illegal aliens hired to do construction work in Henry’s home and the following discussion about it between Henry and Prudence.

Zondervan has provided me with a complimentary advanced reading copy through BookSneeze®. in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Fastest Growing Religion on Earth by Doug Bremner

Full Title: The Fastest Growing Religion on Earth: How Genealogy Captured the Brains and Imaginations of Americans

The title is a little misleading as this book is not about religion, but more about a growing obsession and passion for genealogy. I have spent about twelve years researching my genealogy, but I have always found that it is difficult to be interested in someone else’s history. Fortunately, Douglas Bremner is an excellent writer, and he has the ability to draw the reader into his story. I found it a little difficult to follow at times, but then I find it hard to follow my research when it gets a few generations back. This is not a recitation of names and places, but a real story of the history of this family and the struggle in finding information about a broken family. I enjoyed reading about his method of finding and connecting with people for whom he hoped would hold the key to his story.

Death Never Sleeps by David Grace

Death Never Sleeps is another great detective story from David Grace. He always has interesting twists and surprise connections in his stories, and Death Never Sleeps is the perfect example of this style. There are two murders, seemingly unconnected, with nothing but a gut feeling that leads the detectives to believe they are connected. There are also previously unsolved cases that haunt the detectives. The main characters, Big Jim and Chris are both interesting and likable. Big Jim is a more traditional detective, but with secrets. Chris is very intelligent, but his social skills and interpersonal associations are limited. The characteristics of these two men blend well together to create a great partnership. This is a good story with complex and unusual characters. It has the prefect balance of dialog and narration, and the story held my interest throughout. I read mainly in the mystery and police genres so it is difficult to surprise me, but this book certainly did.
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