Tuesday, December 23, 2014

It Will Be Okay by Lysa TerKeurst

Things are changing, and Little Seed and Little Fox are having new experiences that frighten them.  It Will Be Okay is a beautiful story to teach children to trust God through trying times.  The book begins with 10 scripture verses to memorize.  The verses chosen are easily taken in shorter sections for younger children.

Little Seed is snug in his little packet in the farmer’s shed and when Little Fox seeks shelter there from a storm, he asks Little Seed to be his friend. The story makes the Farmer the kind and loving person looking after them even when they don’t know it.  This is repeated several times through the book.  That personalizes the trust relationship we have with God and makes that relationship so much easier for children to understand.  

It is a lighthearted story and I especially liked Little Fox’s adventure trying to find Little Seed and all the places searched. The illustrations by Natalia Moore are beautiful and playful. I highly recommend this book for young children, including non-readers who will delight in the characters.  I also recommend it as a gift, for Sunday School classes or for pre-school classes.  

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


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The After House by Michael Phillip Cash

Remy and her daughter Olivia are starting over in a new home, but this home already has a resident – a ghostly one.  This is another great paranormal story by Michael Phillip Cash, A light romance is added to the paranormal aspect of the story. The story travels back in time so that we get the story of Eli the captain of a whaling ship, and forward to the present to meet Remy, a young mom making a new way in life for herself and her daughter. Remy’s matchmaking mother leads her to Hugh, the mayor the town. 

This one won’t scare your socks off, but it is a good read that held my interest.  As is customary in Mr. Cash’s books, you have characters that you can care about – including the ghosts. 



Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Evening Prayers for Every Day of the Year by Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt

This is a beautiful book of the evening prayers taken from the devotions of Christopher Friedrick Blumhardt (1842-1919).  These are dated daily passages for a full year. Each page has a bible verse, most often New International Version, followed by an evening prayer. 

I come from the teachings of a church that didn't like reading prayers, but just praying from the heart, so I did not really know what to expect from this book. I am so happy to have it for the coming year because reading these thoughtful and powerful prayers spark a burden in my heart to pray more often and more thoughtfully.  Although written many years ago, these are easy to read and understand, and not written with outdated terms or phrases. I very highly recommend this as a gift or for your own personal devotions.


I received a copy of Evening Prayers For Every day of the Year from Plough Publishing House in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Doggie Delicious by Mary Jo Wisneski Johnston


Doggie Delicious is a charming little book that would be a nice bedtime chapter book. It is a story about an adopted dog that grows wings, flies around the farm, and wants to help care for the animals.  Each animal plays an important role on the farm and each has its own talent.  The illustrations by Malinda Raines are bright and colorful. They add the perfect touch to the story.


With the title containing the word Doggie, I expected the book to be geared for a much younger child. The vocabulary is for much older children, and it includes words not usually used in general conversation, even by adults. It includes one word that I had never even seen before and had to look up.  Because of the subjects and vocabulary, I think it would be appropriate for children ages 8-13 years old.  

The author, however, missed a golden opportunity to encourage adopting a shelter pet.  Instead, Bibi was adopted from a breeder.

This book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, December 5, 2014

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

With her If You Were Me series, Carol P. Roman has provided children with a trip around the world, and the next stop is Greece.  The series introduces unique cultures around the world by answering the questions that children would ask. 

The tour of Greece begins with a sense of place and history. Next you are introduced to the common given names of Greece and what young children call their parents and grandparents.  Also explained are local foods, toys and games, holidays, and what you would visit if you were a tourist. 

 The story is accompanied by interesting and colorful illustrations. There is also a pronunciation guide at the back of the book. As an example, Koukla (kouk-la)-doll. This is another in a series of great reference books for children.

Monday, November 24, 2014

God Gave Us Angels by Lisa Tawn Bergren

God Gave us Angels by Lisa Tawn Bergren is another wonderful addition to the God Gave Us series.  The story is just wonderful with an honest Biblical view of angels. This is a sweet loving bear family, and Little Bear has many questions for Papa Bear after the bunnies tell her that there are angels everywhere.

I am truly impressed with the way solid scriptural lessons were made so clear for very small children in this little book.  The questions that Little Bear asks sound exactly like the questions a child would ask.


The illustrations by Laura J. Bryant are beautiful with soft colors very nice details.  This is a beautiful 40 page book with a wonderful message about God’s love and protection.

Suicide Pact by Judge Andrew P. Napolitano

Suicide Pact: The Radical Expansion of Presidential Powers and the Lethal Threat to American Liberty is a chilling look at the erosion of our freedom and constitutional rights, lost not suddenly, but slowly over time. A Former Judge and law professor, Judge Andrew Napolitano spells out clearly and concisely how our country's leaders have eroded the freedoms that were established by our founding fathers. 

The book covers from the very beginning of the United States, through the major wars, 9/11 and the global war on terror, to our present day events. I learned so much about events I thought I knew all about, including when the US began spying on its own citizens and how the implementation of Executive Order 9066 with the imprisonment of US Citizens without trial came about.


I highly recommend this book as a must-read.  

Bones Never Lie by Kathy Reichs

Bones never lie by Kathy Reichs was just an OK read. It is not a bad book, just not exactly a page turner. While it did hold my interest enough to finish it, I found the writing style odd with her use of short, choppy sentences. I could understand using that method for the dialog, but not for the narration.

Another issue I had was keeping track of large number of characters.  With all of the police, criminals, victims, victim’s families, and odd other added characters, I was quite frequently lost in the weeds.   I though the character of Tempe’s mother was entertaining, and kept wondering why the department didn't hire her and fire Tempe.



Friday, November 14, 2014

Death Never Lies David Grace

After suffering a head wound in the same incident that killed his partner, Kane finds his investigative skills are improved, but his interpersonal skills have suffered.  I always expect interesting characters from David Grace, and Death Never Lies did not disappoint.

In the beginning, the character of Kane is difficult to like. He has had a change in temperament following a head wound, and he seems unable to work with others. His character unfolds slowly, and he becomes much more likeable. Two plots are intertwined, and one with a family connection for Kane. There was also a little romance that links two fractured people.

The entire book is good, but Chapter 23 was so entertaining, I read it twice. Kane decided to use his skill in reading people during a conversation with Senator Denning only to get the same in return from the Senator.


This is another great book by David Grace.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Captain No Beard and the Aurora Borealis by Carole P. Roman


In this Captain No Beard the crew is ready for a new adventure.  They are heading north, and it is getting cold. Icebergs are floating by, but the crew decides they don’t like Captain’s new mission.  He wants to take something that doesn’t belong to him. 

This one may be my favorite Captain No Beard adventure yet.  In this adventure they learn about the North Star and the Aurora Borealis. There is also a good message about not taking something that isn’t yours.  The children all know it is wrong and reinforce that message with Captain No Beard.  The story also reinforces the idea that using your imagination is a fun way to spend the day.


Once again, the illustrations are colorful and even take on the icy feel of the story.  This is another great Captain No Beard adventure!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Kitchn Cookbook by Sara Kate Gillingham and Faith Durand

The Kitchn Cookbook by Sara Kate Gillingham and Faith Durand is a two part cookbook.  The first part covers setting up the perfect kitchen, tools you will need, and caring for the kitchen. I liked the way they do not describe a perfect kitchen, but instead gave ideas so that you can create what you think is the perfect kitchen.  This section explains the work triangle, storage ideas, and budget kitchen renovation. They also introduced with photos different styles of kitchens. I really didn’t like any of them, and not once did I see a style feature I would like to use. 

The second part of the book is on stocking the pantry, essential skills, and the recipes.  One of the first things I look at in a cookbook is how available are the ingredients going to be for those who do not live in the city. Not every town or rural area has a Whole Foods within a reasonable driving distance, and there were a few recipes that had ingredients not readily available. I was also amused by the recipe for Fresh Tomato Pizza Sauce because it called for canned tomatoes.

Although it might be fun to thumb through once or twice for a beginning urban cook, it is not really enough to be considered a reference cookbook.   While it is a pretty book with nice pictures, it doesn’t have enough to earn a spot on my permanent cookbook shelf.

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Monday, October 27, 2014

The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg

This book was a bit disappointing.  The illustrations are very old fashioned, which is quaint, but rather unappealing and comes off a bit odd.  The story tries to ascribe religious meaning to the shape and colors of the candy cane.

 The story explains that the shape J is for Jesus and flipped the other way, for the shepherd’s staff.  They then assign the colors to give them a religious meaning. The assign red for the beating that made Jesus blood run down like red stripes and white for being washed clean from Jesus’ forgiveness. It appears that this has been toned down in words and illustrations from previous versions, but it still is a concept that small children will not understand.  The thing that concerned me the most is that while the book is labeled for ages 4-8, this is a board book which is usually given to younger children 1-4.

I do not recommend this book for below age 4 and probably would raise that age up a little.  I would recommend the parent read the book first, and decide if your child is ready for the content.


I received this book from the BookLook blogger program in exchange for an honest review.

Yuletide Ice Cube Fair by Karen Poth

Usually the VeggieTales begin with a Bible verse, but this one begins and ends with one.  It is a story of the Yuletide Ice Cube Fair and Mayor Bob’s ice carving contest.  It is a wonderful story with the message that Christmas isn’t about the big, the bright or the new. The story brings the true meaning of Christmas and ends with the Bible verse Luke 2:10-12.  The illustrations by Ron Eddy and Robert Vann are beautiful and colorful with that icy feel of winter. 


This book is appealing to a wide age range. It is recommended for 4-8 years or early readers, but I would extend that to include reading to 2 and 3 year old children. I received this book from the BookLook blogger program in exchange for an honest review.

Guess Who - Noah’s Boat by Matt Mitter and illustrated by Ela Jarzabek

Noah’s Boat is a page flap fold out book especially designed for very young children.  Each page has a descriptive riddle that asks “Guess who” and when you fold out the flap there is an answer. Even the front cover has a fold-out flap.  The illustrations are very colorful and very cute.  The book is hard cover and each page is coated cardboard for an easy wipe clean finish.   This is a very nice book that tells the basic story of Noah to small children.  This would make a nice gift book for a child or an addition to a church nursery/pre-school library.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Risen by Michael Phillip Cash

This is the third of the trilogy and I have also read and reviewed the first two, Schism and Collision.  While this is a standalone book, I recommend reading the three in order.  It will help to understand the growth of the characters and will keep the flow of the story.  This isn't the genre I usually read, but Michael Phillip Cash writes books that are easily readable with a style that crosses genre.


All three books present stories of adventure, mystery, and interesting characters.  Risen is no different, and the book this trilogy concludes with a satisfying ending. Through all of the struggles, war, and captivity, there is a message of hope and encouragement.

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Big-Flavor Grill by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby

This is strictly for those who charcoal grill. There is “A Word About Gas Grills” which declares that
gas grills are not their thing. The theme of the book is simplicity with an easy prep with a spice rub, grill, and toss with a sauce or with herbs.

The recipes are presented in a unique flow chart form that follows the theme of prep, grill and toss. There are recipes for steak, lamb, pork, chicken, shrimp and fish, vegetables, and drinks. I have several recipes marked to try. Grilled Pork Skerwers with Mangoes, Chipolte, and Lime, and Grilled Chicken Breasts with Cilantro-lime Vinaigrette. 

This is a great book for simplified grilling, without a lot of complicated preparation.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Southern Foodie's Guide tot he Pig by Chris Chamberlain

This is not your ordinary cookbook.  The first section of the book is about the pig and its parts, with an explanation of selecting and cooking a whole pig, belly and bacon, roasts, hams, ribs and chops. Sauces, rubs and brines are also covered in this first section.

This is a “Southern” book so the second section covers the top restaurants throughout the south that specialize in pork and BBQ.  A profile is presented with a brief history, menu specialties, an “insider tip”  and contact information. A recipe from each restaurant follows in the following section – Recipes.

The recipes included are down-home, southern-style, hearty food. I have several marked to try, such as Momma Mia’s Mac Salad from the Shed, Chicken Fried Pork Chops from Delta Bistro, and Fried Green Tomato BLT from Stella’s Kentucky Deli, but there are many more that vary in ingredients and complexity. If you are looking for something a little different, this is it!

I received a copy of The Southern Foodie’s Guide to the Pig as part of the BookLook blogger program in exchange for an honest review.


Author Chris Chamberlain
Chris Chamberlain is a food and drink writer based in Nashville, Tennessee, where he has lived his entire life except for four years in California where he studied liberal arts at Stanford University and learned how to manipulate chopsticks. He is a regular writer for the Nashville Scene and their "Bites" food blog. He has also contributed to the Nashville City Paper, Nashville Lifestyles magazine, 2001 Edgehill and at www.geardiary.com.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

NIV Once-A-Day Bible: Chronological Edition Published by Zondervan

The NIV Once-A-Day Bible: Chronological Edition  is a softcover version designed for reading through the Bible in one year. Because this is a Chronological Bible, the daily readings seem well-organized as the story unfolds in the order that they happened.  
The daily readings are numbered instead of by dates so that your journey into the Bible can begin at any time. The portions are manageable, and I enjoy the reading style of the NIV version. I didn't stumble over archaic words or need a thesaurus to get through the readings. There is a devotional at the end of each daily section that are direct, to the point, and very encouraging. These devotions are a wonderful addition to this Bible.
Although a softcover, the book is sturdy and lays flat in your hands. It has the quality I expect, and have always received, from Zondervan products. I highly recommend this Bible, especially if you have never read through the entire Bible. or are looking for a quality Bible for reading and devotionals combined.

I was provided a copy of this Bible from the BookLook Blogger program in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Sheerluck Holmes and the Case of the Missing Friend by Karen Poth

A friend loves at all times. He is there to help when trouble comes. Proverbs 17:17

Sheerluck Holmes and the Case of the Missing Friend is another wonderful VeggieTales book for early readers based on Proverbs 17:17.  Hurt feelings, forgiveness, and the fellowship of friends are the lessons taught in this cute little book by Karen Poth.  

This is a book 1 level for beginning reading in the I Can Read! Zonderkidz series and is described as “Simple Sentences for eager new readers.”  A soft-cover book, but it has a good binding and the pages are a nice weight paper.  The illustrations are colorful and cover the full page. This is another great book for VeggieTales fans.


Fire & Smoke by Chris Lilly

Fire and Smoke by Chris Lilly starts out by comparing different BBQ grills and smokers, and gives instructions on cooking with wood.  This is a recipe book for those who really want to move to the next level of BBQ. Yes, there is a recipe for The Perfect Burger, but there really is so much more here. 

Just pulling up a few random pages, there are recipes for Smoked Pork Belly with Shock Top Honey Mustard Glaze, Grilled Brick Panini, Barbecue Gumbo, Pan-seared New York Strip with Bourbon Cream Sauce. There are some unusual recipes, especially the grilled cocktails.  Additionally, there are recipes for side dishes and desserts.  My favorite section is the Sauces and Dry Rubs, and the recipe for Sweet Crisp Bacon Rub alone makes the book worth buying!

I like that the book is printed on heavy glossy paper and has some beautiful full-page photos.  This is a wonderful addition to my cookbook shelf.


CHRIS LILLY is vice president, executive chef, and partner of Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q. The Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q Competition Cooking Team has won more than ten World BBQ titles in pork, chicken, ribs, and beef, and four World Grand Championships at “
Memphis in May.” Lilly is married to the great-granddaughter of BBQ legend Big Bob Gibson and is the author of Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Brood X by Michael Phillip Cash

Brood X is the story of a young couple, Seth and Lara, expecting their first child and facing an impending disaster of great magnitude.  Seth decided to document the whole pregnancy and ended up documenting much more.

The characters were very much like real people and their reactions were typical in the situations they faced.  Unfortunately, I did not like the main character of Seth. I think he was supposed to be wise-cracking and funny, but I just found him terribly annoying. 


The story took quite a while to lead up to the main focus of the book, but when it did, it was a story well-told.  The tension, the horror, the bugs were all described to perfection.  It is a fairly quick read and I do recommend it.  

Friday, August 29, 2014

The NIV God's Word for Gardeners Bible

The NIV God’s Word for Gardeners Bible is beautiful, with lovely lavender and green colors and a gardening-theme cover.  The binding is done well, as I always expect from Zondervan, and although the print is fairly small my old eyes did not have trouble reading.  The margins are also small. so there is no room for handwritten notes.  

It does seem a little disorganized to me, but that could be just because it is an unfamiliar format.  The introduction explains that the book is divided into three themes: The Garden Tour with 12 weeks of readings, Garden Work with 23 weeks of readings, and Garden Stories with 10 weeks readings.  There are also 7 weeks of Garden Tools which were not mentioned in the initial introduction.  Devotional essays are included on a separate page near the Bible verses.

Following the first week, first day of the Garden Tour, I read Genesis 2:8-15and then a devotional essay on the following page.  The study is not overwhelming and can easily be done daily.  The interspersed devotionals throughout the chapters threw me off a little when trying to find the correct book and chapter.


It may take a while to become accustom to the format, but this is a nice Bible that would make a beautiful gift for a gardener.

Book description:
Features: * 260 daily devotions and 52 weekend readings arranged in weekly themes and placed near relevant passages in the text to explore the biblical metaphors of gardens and gardening * Beautiful, durable hardcover * Topical Index (for 52 weeks) * Special sections on the Garden of Eden, the garden of Gethsemane and Jesus the Vine.

This book was provided to me free of charge in exchange for an honest review as part of the BookLook Blogger program.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Here is Where by Andrew Carroll

Author Andrew Carroll was inspired to write this book after visiting the spot where Abraham Lincoln’s son was saved by the brother of Lincoln’s assassin.  He sought out forgotten places filled with history.  The book is broken up into short chapters, each with a different topic.  It is a fairly quick read because you can read a little at a time and then go back to it later.

I’m not sure why some were included as “forgotten history” as the stories and places are fairly well known.  Some of the stories start out interesting, but then start to fizzle out. The stories sometimes tend to drift and I wish he had stayed on point!  Quite a few of the stories, however, are fascinating.  The ones I found most interesting: Mound City, about a disaster worse than the titanic; Hart Island, a huge potters field; and Robert Goddard’s Backyard, a real rocket scientist. 

I question the addition of a couple of the stories. One was a racial incident which made neither side look good.  A page of jokes about Jehovah’s Witnesses was the way the author chose to start a chapter on the abuse and discrimination against the Jehovah Witnesses. 

Overall, the book is an interesting and unique collection of stories.  

 Blogging for Books provided this book to me for free in exchange for an honest review.


Friday, August 15, 2014

Remains of Innocence by J.A. Jance

I am very pleased to be part of the Remains of Innocence by J.A. Jance Blog tour. Although there are quite a few Joanna Brady mysteries, this was my first. I never thought I was missing anything so I can say that this is a good stand-alone book.

There were two stories going on at the same time that later merge into one. The storyline were never confusing, although there were quite a few characters, and I sometimes had trouble remembering who they were.  I liked most of the characters and the very normal family life Joanna has with her husband and children.  The story takes a few odd twists and turns and the Liza’s story isn’t very believable, but I am quite able to overlook the wild adventure and just enjoy the story.  I normally do not like long prologues or intros, but in this case the prologue gave a good background to one of the main characters.  I enjoyed Remains of Innocence very much and I look forward to picking up some more of the Joanna Brady series.


I received this book from the Partners in Crime blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Confession by Robert Whitlow

Assistant DA Holt Douglas has a tragic secret in his past that he has buried deep in his heart, but the people and circumstances in his life do not let it stay buried.  Holt discovers the files of an old case and secretly investigates was reported to be suicide.


This was a good story of relationships, honesty, guilt, and forgiveness. The story starts out strong,  gets a little bogged down in too many details in the middle, but then again builds to a strong finish.  I liked all of the characters and their interactions.  I always enjoy reading about good characters of faith that struggle, but live that faith outwardly.  While as the Assistant DA, he appeared before the judge, there was not much in-court action.  It was still a good legal drama, with a good message and a very satisfying ending.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook book blogger program in exchange for an honest review. 

Schism The Battle For Darracia

The planet Darracia has a growing social unrest as the divide between the upper and lower classes are growing. We watch Prince V’sair branch out from his education and grow as an individual and as a leader.  Battles with political motives, between family members, and internal struggles of the main characters made this a well-rounded tale that held my interest from beginning to end.

I read this series out of order and read the second book first.  Although the second did well as a standalone, going back helped me understand who and what each character was and learn more about their personalities. Everything seemed to fall into place. 


Michael Cash captured a strange world and explained it perfectly to this new reader of science fiction.  I recommend this book and the series for those who enjoy fantasy, sci-fi, or if you would just like to read something different.  This is a good story by a very good storyteller. 

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Spider Woman’s Daughter, A Leaphorn & Chee Novel by Anne Hillerman

Had this been written as a first novel without claiming that they were a continuation of Tony Hillerman’s Leaphorn and Chee novels, I would have probably not been so disappointed. This book had no beautifully described landscape, no rich characters, and no interesting mystery to be solved that we were so accustomed to in Tony Hillerman’s books.  The characters in Spider Woman’s Daughter are cartoon-like, especially the “killer”. 

I don’t really understand why the author decided to butcher the characters of Leaphorn and Chee.  Joe Leaphorn is shoved into the background early in the book and then only referred to occasionally.  As for Jim Chee – what on earth happened to him?  This author made him a whiney lapdog for his rough and tough wife.  His constant use of terms of endearment and rushing home to cook were cringe-worthy.  The dialog between those two was laughable, and she decided to add jealous husband to his list of character traits.  He is also shoved into the background as his wife Bernadette Manuelito is the focus of this book.  Her character is rather bland and boring with no sense of a deep heritage I expected.


I received this book in exchange for an honest review.  

Treat Yourself, 70 Classic Snacks by Jennifer Steinhauer

When I think back to all of the yummy treats I enjoyed as a child, I never really thought about recreating
them as homemade.  Obviously, Jennifer Steinhauer did!

Not really a copycat recipe book, but just the author’s take on each of her favorite treats. Although some in the photographs look like the originals, others are much different – and actually look much better. Just to give an idea of the recipes included, here is one recipe title from each category:  Classic Cookies, Thin Mints; Sandwich Cookies, Oatmeal Crème Pies (the first I will be trying!);  Snack Cakes, Zebra Cakes; Fruity Treats, Fig Newtons; Savory Snacks, Soft Pretzels; Candy, Fannie May Mint Meltaways; and Frozen Treats, Orange Creamsicles. 

The layout of the recipes is easy to read and the recipes are easy to follow.  Many have full-page photographs, but a few are missing photos.  Some of the recipes are easy to make and others are a bit more challenging, but there is a good combination of both.

Blogging for Books provided this book to me for free in exchange for an honest review.

World of Trouble: The Last Policeman Book III by Ben H. Winters

World of Trouble is the last of a three book series.  Although I had not read either of the first two, I never thought I was missing anything from the story. It is truly a great standalone book with interesting characters and very well written. 

Detective Hank Palace wants to solve one last case before the catastrophic asteroid hits Earth.  His sister is missing and he wants to connect with her one last time.  There were times I didn’t understand why Hank behaved as he did, but I was totally fascinated by his character. As I read through this book, there was a subtle gloom because we know what is coming, but as much as I wanted like a different conclusion, I am glad the author stayed true to the story. 


This will probably end up in my top 10 favorite books for this year.   I can’t wait to go back and read the first two of the series.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

If You Were Me and Lived in Russia, A Child’s Introduction to Culture Around the World by Carole P. Roman

Next stop Russia! If you have read Carole P. Roman’s earlier series of If You Were Me and Lived in…” books you would by this time feel as though you are on a round the world tour.  All of the books in this series answer the type of questions of most interest to children.  They also teach children that no matter now far apart you live, no matter how different in looks, children and their families have more in common than they have differences with other children around the world.

I enjoy reading the books to my granddaughter, and I learn from them too. The stories about local historic buildings, foods, and holidays, and other interesting facts about local culture make these books informative and fun. In this book, I enjoyed learning about the special Russian hat, the shapka ushanka, and that my little nesting dolls are called Matryoshka dolls. 

I highly recommend all of the books in this series for parents, grandparents, schools, and pr
eschools. I would even recommend them for Sunday Schools in churches with an interest in missions to begin to cultivate an interest in other cultures.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Martian by Andy Weir

The first couple of chapters were a little difficult for me to get interested in because of the detailed explanations and math equations by the main character Mark Watney. Once past that, the story fell into place as it brought in the rest of the characters. Astronaut Mark Watney was left for dead on the surface of Mars – only he wasn’t dead, and a frantic attempt at a rescue effort was quickly put together. Most of the book is written diary style with Mark entering his actions, duties, and thoughts as log entries. The story is a very detailed description of the successes and failures of each step as they attempt to communicate with Mark and launch a rescue attempt. I really enjoyed The Martian and thought it was an interesting story. However, I thought that the character of Mark was a bit too flippant of his situation and too much of a jokester. I never really felt any desperation or real fear as he faced an almost certain death. The other characters in the book were not developed as much as I like, but this is a first novel. The story was good enough that I could overlook the drawbacks and just enjoy the read. I will also give it a light language warning to those who don’t appreciate the F-bombs and other various indelicacies.

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



A Conversation with SpaceGeek and Science Fanatic
Andy Weir
author of THE MARTIAN
(Crown Publishers, On Sale: February 11, 2014)
Q) So it seems you’re a bit of a science geek. You list space travel, orbital dynamics,
relativistic physics, astronomy, and the history of manned spaceflight among your interests.
How did you incorporate these passions into your debut novel THE MARTIAN?

A) Those interests allowed me to come up with the story in the first place. I love reading up on
current space research. At some point I came up with the idea of an astronaut stranded on Mars.
The more I worked on it, the more I realized I had accidentally spent my life researching for this
story. Early on, I decided that I would be as scientifically accurate as possible. To a nerd like me,
working out all the math and physics for Mark’s problems and solutions was fun.

Q) In one sentence, tell us what your novel is all about.
A) It’s the story of an astronaut trying to survive after being accidentally left behind on Mars.

Q) Explain how the science in THE MARTIAN is true to life.
A) The basic structure of the Mars program in the book is very similar to a plan called “Mars
Direct” (though I made changes here and there). It’s the most likely way that we will have our
first Mars mission in real life. All the facts about Mars are accurate, as well as the physics of
space travel the story presents. I even calculated the various orbital paths involved in the story,
which required me to write my own software to track constant-thrust trajectories.

Q) What inspired you to write THE MARTIAN?
A) I was thinking about how best to do a manned Mars mission (because that’s the sort of dork I
am). As the plan got more detailed, I started imagining what it would be like for the astronauts.
Naturally, when designing a mission, you think up disaster scenarios and how likely the crew
would be to survive. That’s when I started to realize this had real story potential.

Q) Are you an advocate for a manned mission to Mars? Are you hopeful we’ll actually
make it out there sometime soon?
A) Of course I’m a huge fan of space travel, manned and unmanned. I would love to see people
land on Mars in my lifetime. However, do I think it will actually happen? I’m not sure. Unlike
the 1960s, we’re not in a race with anyone to get there, so it’s not a priority. Also, computer and
robotics technologies are leaps and bounds better than they were during the days of Apollo. So
logically, you have to ask why we would risk human lives rather than just make better robots.
Still, it would be awesome, and maybe that’s reason enough.

Q) Do you have anything in common with your wise-cracking hero Mark Watney?
A) I’m the same level of smart-ass as he is. It was a really easy book to write; I just had him say
what I would say. However, he’s smarter than I am and considerably more brave. I guess he’s
who I wish I were.

Q) In THE MARTIAN, Watney has access to his crewmates digital entertainment on Mars,
including TV episodes of Three’s Company, a variety of Beatles songs, and digital books
including The Mysterious Affair at Styles. Any reason you chose to work those specific
examples into the novel?
A) It’s a selection of things I loved when I was growing up.

Q) You’re stranded on Mars and you can only take one book with you. What is it?
A) It’s always hard to pick one “favorite book.” Growing up, I loved early Heinlein books most
of all. So if I had to pick one, I’d go with Tunnel in the Sky. I do love a good survival story.

Q) How long do you think you’d last if you were left in Mark Watney’s position?
A) Not long at all. I don’t know how to grow crops, nor how to jury-rig the solutions he came up
with. It’s a lot easier to write about an ordeal than it is to experience it.

Q) You have the chance to meet any astronaut living or dead: Who is it and why?
A) John Young. He is the quintessential astronaut. Competent, fearless, highly intelligent, and seemingly immune to stress. When Apollo 16 launched, his heart rate never got higher than 70.
Most astronauts spike to at least 120 during launches.

Q) Watney seems to be able to maneuver his way around some pretty major problems with
a little duct tape and ingenuity! So he’s a bit like MacGyver in that way. Did you watch the
show as a kid? Any favorite episodes?
A) Indeed I did! I loved that show. My favorite episode was the one where engineering students
had a barricade contest.

Q) Star Wars or Star Trek?
A) Doctor Who.

Q) Your idea of the perfect day . . .
A) Sleep in. Meet Buzz Aldrin for brunch. Head over to Jet Propulsion Lab and watch them
control the Curiosity Mars rover. Dinner with the writing staff of Doctor Who.

Q) How did you feel when your original, self-published version of THE MARTIAN became
a phenomenon online? Were you expecting the overwhelmingly positive reception the book
received?
A) I had no idea it was going to do so well. The story had been available for free on my website
for months and I assumed anyone who wanted to read it had already read it. A few readers had
requested I post a Kindle version because it’s easier to download that way. So I went ahead and
did it, setting the price to the minimum Amazon would allow. As it sold more and more copies I
just watched in awe.

Q) Film rights to THE MARTIAN were sold to writer-producer Simon Kinberg (Mr. &
Mrs. Smith, Sherlock Holmes, X-Men: First Class). What was your first reaction? Who
should play the part of Mark Watney?

A) Of course I’m thrilled to have a movie in the works. The movie deal and print publishing deal
came within a week of each other, so I was a little shell-shocked. In fact, it was such a sudden
launch into the big leagues that I literally had a difficult time believing it. I actually worried it
could all be an elaborate scam. So I guess that was my first reaction: “Is this really happening!?”
As for who could play Watney, I think some good candidates would be Aaron Paul and Chris
Evans.

Q) What’s next for you?
A) I have a few irons in the fire. There’s a long-running sc i-fi story I’ve been poking at here and
there for a while. Though based on the response from The Martian, I might go with a different
story idea I have in mind: a “science-crime” novel. Lots of problem-solving as technically savvy
criminals match wits with an equally savvy FBI agent trying to track them down.

Monday, July 14, 2014

If You Were Me and Lived in…Portugal – an Introduction to Learning About Other Cultures by Carole P. Roman

If You Were Me and Lived in…Portugal – an Introduction to Learning About Other Cultures by Carole P. Roman is another in this educational series for children Pre-K to age eight.  This series teaches children about their peers around the world.  It answers questions that children would ask. What do you play with? What do you like to eat? What do you call your parents? Where would you go for fun? What kind of holidays do you celebrate?

The illustrations are bright and colorful and portray the story well.  There is a two-page pronunciation guide in the back of the book for words and phrases.  

What fun this would be for preschools or early grades for learning about the world! I can see it being used in a classroom setting with children dressing up, learning about a specific country, and then giving a presentation to the class using the words learned in the book.


Friday, July 11, 2014

The Hanging Tree by Michael Philip Cash


The Hanging Tree is an interesting novella that involves a bitter curse, an old tree, a black cat, ghosts, and the lives of two teenagers.  The story goes back and forth in time so that you not only understand the teens, but also the spirits that meet them at the tree.    

I enjoyed the story very much especially exploring the relationship with the teen girl, Arielle, and her parents as she gains independence and has to make important decisions.  The bitterness and hatred that has carried over generations takes this story to fascinating places.   I thought that The Hanging Tree came full circle and ended with a satisfying conclusion.


This is a quick and fun read and would also be a great starter book if you haven’t read any of the other Michael Philip Cash book.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Crew Goes Coconuts A Captain No Beard Story by Carole P. Roman

The pirate gang is back in Volume 6 of the Captain No Beard stories.  Polly, Fribbit, Cayla, Hallie, Linus, Mongo, and of course, Capt. No Beard are all here. This time we also meet Matie the goat.

The story is about teasing, hurt feelings, and with the guidance of Captain No Beard they learn more about each other and why teasing can be hurtful. Once again, this is a fun, interesting, and entertaining book that children will love, and with an important message.  The illustrations are colorful and fun.  The text is well-spaced for easy reading.


I am not good at estimating the age groups that would be interesting in these books, but my 3 year old granddaughter loves them and I know young readers will also enjoy them.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

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

If You Were Me and Lived in Australia is another informative book about the people and places around the world written for young readers. What kind of money would I use to buy something?  Where would I visit, and what would I see? What would I eat, and what games would I play.  Children will love to learn that they have so much in common with other children around the world, and still have many fun differences.


All of the books in this series are entertaining and will appeal to a wide age range. The recommended is age 3 to age 8.  They are written in simple language, but with enough challenging material to appeal to older readers.  I highly recommend this and all of the books in this series.  

Saturday, June 21, 2014

B.T.C. Old-Fashioned Grocery Cookbook by Alexe Van Beuren

I was so please to receive this cookbook for review, and even more please when I realized it was much more than a cookbook. B.T.C. is a story of real people, and a real small town grocer. Their story, both struggles and success, is beautifully written in a just a few pages sprinkled through the book. You will learn about their family, the town, their small-town newspaper, and their employees.  You just can’t help but love this place and these people.

BTC is an old-fashioned grocery store in Water Valley, Mississippi that also provides sandwiches, soups, homemade mayonnaise, and much more. The recipes in the cookbook are by Dixie Grimes, and present an interesting mix of down-home simplicity and rich sophistication.  The recipes are categorized by Breakfast, Soups for Every Season, Salads, Spreads and Sandwich Fixings, Casseroles, Mains, Sides and Southern Sweet Thangs. The recipes that immediately caught my eye are Vetra’s Three-bean Salad, Broccoli Salad, Artichoke and English Pea Au Gratin, and just about all of the soups!


This is not only a wonderful addition to my cookbook shelf, but an interesting story that brought to life the story of Water Valley Mississippi.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Collision, The Battle for Darracia by Michael Phillip Cash

Book Description: The Darracia saga continues with all the key players spread out and searching for answers throughout the solar system. Prince V'sair struggles to hold his fractured kingdom together without help from his family. His stepbrother Zayden is on a vengeful hunt for his evil uncle Staf Nuen. Tulani navigates her two worlds trying to bring them together. Staf Nuen, the orchestrator of the original coup, is making unholy alliances with nefarious new allies. Like the comet zipping across the horizon, all the different factions are heading for a collision course that will test both their faith and power.

My review:

Collision, The Battle for Darracia is a well-written science fiction story that moves quickly and flows smoothly. I will confess I usually don’t read science fiction, so I think that and the fact that I didn’t read the first book, Schism: The Battle For Darracia, may have hindered my enjoyment slightly. I would recommend reading the first book so that you are introduced to all of the main characters and who or what they are! That said, I enjoyed the story and the way it was told. The characters are interesting and the story held my interest all the way to the thrilling end.  Honor, war, families, spirituality, love, and hate are all themes woven into a sailcloth that carries you through this story.

The Flip but Michael Phillip Cash

The Flip, by Michael Phillip Cash, is the story of a young couple, Julie and Brad, trying to supplement their income by flipping houses.  Brad is also a little lost following his military service and isn’t sure what he wants to do with his future. The latest flip is a house that is a little more work than usual due to the age of the house and its invisible inhabitants, two Civil War era ghosts.  There were also some other entities in the home that weren’t very well explained, but they seemed to be more in control of the two ghosts, Gerald and Tessa.

The story does go back in time to explain the lives of the two before they became ghosts.   Tessa was a woman of low moral character in life, and her aggressive attentions toward men continue in her afterlife.  The interaction of the ghosts and the real life couple cause even more strife in their relationship.

This isn’t a terrifying ghost story because it relies heavily on relationships rather than an intense paranormal story. It is a quick and enjoyable read with interesting characters, both alive and dead.


Monday, June 9, 2014

Deadly Distractions, A Stan Turner Mystery by William Manchee

Deadly Distractions is an interesting legal thriller that held my interest to the end. It is an easy read and nothing too deep, but with some interesting characters. 

Each chapter is dedicated to the point of view of two of the main characters, Stan or Paula. Stan is a likeable character, but some of his actions and decisions are terribly naïve and frustrating to the reader.  While Stan is likeable, Paula isn’t quite so nice, but the two together create an interesting story. Stan seems to be in over his head in the legal issues, but he manages to make it all work.

Although Deadly Distractions is my first Stan Turner mystery I never thought I was missing out on some of the story, so it is definitely a stand alone book.  It will, however, make you want to read some of the others.



Tuesday, May 27, 2014

VeggieTales: Pirates, Mess Detectives, and a Superhero, (I Can Read #1)

This book is actually three books in one, Pirate in Training, Larry Boy and the Mudslingers, and Listen Up, Larry.  This is a wonderful book for reading to a young child or for early readers. The illustrations are colorful and have a variety of their fun Veggie friends to identify.  There are bible verses from the New International Readers Version at the beginning of each story that reflect the theme of that story.  The themes are learning, forgiveness, and listening.

In Pirate In Training, Junior Asparagus decides that school is too hard and he wants to be a pirate. Larry, Mr. Lunt, and Pa explain specifically how they use reading and math to be good pirates and how he will learn about other things he may want to be when he grows up.

All three stories have character messages that are very important for this age group. 

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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Distortion by Terri Blackstock

Distortion starts out a little confusing.  Being part of a series, there are a number of people who need to be reintroduced, and I had trouble keeping them straight. Once I figured out who they were, I then had to remember their relationships as they were all related.  I don’t think I can recommend this as a standalone book. If you have read the others in the series then you will be much more able to keep it straight. 

There is another facet to the story that is a little different. Usually the reader has little connection to the victim and their family. We usually grow close to the detective and other law enforcement as they investigate the case.  Distortion is different in that the victim’s wife and family become the main characters and investigators. This can make dealing with the constant grief a little more difficult to take.


I did enjoy the story overall and appreciate the matters of faith that are dealt with throughout the book.  I especially found the ending of the book representative of a strong display of faith.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

I want to do Yoga Too by Carole Roman


When mom goes to her yoga class, her daughter Hallie wants to do yoga too. Hallie goes with Robin, who is caring for the children. Through a series of pretend games Hallie learns four different yoga poses without even realizing that she is learning yoga.

This is a cute little book to introduce children to another form of exercise and to get them up and active. Mom, Dad,  Grandma or Grandpa can get involved too for a fun and healthy playtime.   Very cute and I highly recommend it for family use or gifts.

Whaley’s Big Adventure by Carole P. Roman and Alexander Luke

Whaley’s Big Adventure was written and illustrated by 5 year old Alexander Luke and presented by his grandmother Carole P. Roman.

Whaley is a blue whale and he sets off on an adventure to explore the oceans. He meets Owen the Orca, Harold the Humpback whale, Gary the Gray whale, Brody the Beluga, Sammy the Sperm whale, and Walter the Whale shark and learns a little bit about each new friend.
The book is educational, entertaining, and down right cute. The watercolor art by Alexander Luke is perfect for the story.

I love the book and so does my granddaughter.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Children of the Revolution by Peter Robinson and GIVEAWAY


When a man’s body is found by abandoned railroad tracks near his home, Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks investigates the murder. The victim, Gavin Miller, was a former college lecturer dismissed for misconduct and has been living as a recluse since.

As with Peter Robinson’s previous books, this is a very detailed police procedural.  Each detail and suspect is carefully examined, and the trails in this story lead far into the victim’s past.


I enjoy this type of carefully examined case and the complete explanation of the evidence.  It does move slowly at times, but I have also found this in other of his books.  Often when I read books by British authors, I find quite a few words unfamiliar to US readers, but fortunately this author spends his time in both the U.K. and North America so there were few times I needed to look up a word.   

Another good book by Peter Robinson.

 Three winners will have a chance to win Peter’s last Inspector Banks novel just by tweeting, liking on Facebook or leaving a blog post! Clink the link here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

To purchase a copy of Children of the Revolution
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Monday, March 31, 2014

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

Next stop – India as we travel around the world with Carol P. Roman’s If You Were Me and Lived in… series. This is another exciting book introducing children to other cultures.  As with the others in this series, this book covers what children would want to know about if they lived in another country. It answers what children call their parents, what they eat, what games they play, what they do for fun, interesting places to visit, and celebrations.


The full-page illustrations are colorful and very descriptive of the text. The text is large for early readers.  Some of the words are challenging, but there is also a pronunciation guide in each of the books. I highly recommend this and all of the others in this series for home, preschools, and elementary schools.  

Friday, March 7, 2014

Bone Deep By Randy Wayne White

Well, I am not sure how I missed out on books 1-20, but yes, this is the 21st in the Doc Ford series. It is definitely a stand alone book, and I never felt I was missing something in the story by not reading the previous books.

 I enjoyed the main characters in this story. Doc and his sort of ex Hannah are an interesting mix, and I enjoyed the differences in their personalities.   The story progresses smoothly as Doc is approached to help a member of the Crow Nation recover a stolen relic. The job leads him on an adventure into stolen artifacts, the black market, environmental concerns of phosphate plants, and relic diving. The location descriptions gave a real sense of being in the heart of Florida.


I thought the plot got a little confusing with so many minor characters and it slowed the story down a bit, but it was still a good book and I will definitely look at some of the previous books in this series. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Treasure of Snake Island: A Captain No Beard Story Volume 5 by Carole P. Roman

The Treasure of Snake Island is the fifth volume of the Captain No Beard series, but my first! It is a fun pirate story with a search for a treasure – a very special treasure.

I love the wide age range that will enjoy this book. Young non-readers will enjoy visualizing the story in the full-page colorful illustrations as it is read. Colors, rhymes, and the animals will appeal to the pre-school age, and older readers will be challenged with the characters and dialog.

First Mate Hallie, Mongo the Monkey, Polly the Parrot, Fribbet the frog, Cabin Girl Cayla, and of course, Captain No Beard will fascinate and entertain both boys and girls. I highly recommend this very entertaining pirate book!

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

Goodnight, Angels by Melody Carlson


This is a delightful story that follows a little boy as he prepares for bed, saying “Good night” to
everyone and everything.  This is a heavy duty board book made sturdy enough for young children.

The illustrations are softly colorful and detailed with scenes that start outside at play and then move into the house, as he prepares for bed. He takes time to say good night to his toys, his dog, and his parents. He also says goodnight to God and thanks Him for his blessings, love and care.

This is a nice bedtime story by Melody Carlson with pictures by Sophie Allsopp. It is the kind of story that will help an active child settle down and prepare for bed.   The illustrations allow the child to point out household items and toys as they listen.


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

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

If You Were Me and Lived in...Turkey is another excellent addition to Carole P. Roman’s unique series of books to introduce children to other cultures around the world.   She introduces the children to common boy and girl names, foods, what children call their parents, places to go, games to play, and answering all the questions that a child would ask. 

The books are described as for pre-K through age eight.   Younger children will enjoy the colorful and playful illustrations and while you read to them, and young readers will enjoy learning about how other children live. 


I highly recommend all of the books of this series for parents, grandparents, and for use in preschool and elementary schools.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Innocence by Dean Koontz

I am a long time fan of Dean Koontz books. His writing has certainly changed over the years, but then I've changed too! Innocence is once again a different kind of book that truly took me by surprise.  I will not give a synopsis because I wouldn't want to spoil a bit of the mystery.
changed also. His books have never once been a disappointment. 

Mr. Koontz has an incredible talent to describe people, places, and emotions to give the reader a sense of presence.  The story of Addison and Gwyneth and their special circumstances was an emotional adventure for me.  I loved the book, and although the end was satisfying with all questions answered, I wanted it to go on forever.  I highly recommend this book.   


Thursday, January 9, 2014

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

If You Were Me and Lived in Kenya by Carole P Roman is another outstanding book in her series of books that introduce children to cultures around the world. This time the young reader is introduced to Kenya. The book covers the information that is most important to children such as what their name might be if they lived in Kenya and what they would call their Mommy and Daddy. It covers common meals, games, toys, and other different and interesting activities of daily life in that country. The full-page illustrations by Kelsea Wierenga are fun and attractive to children.  New readers will be challenged by new and interesting words along with a pronunciation guide and non readers will enjoy listening to the descriptions as they look through the illustrations.
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