Monday, August 31, 2009

What’s Right With the Church by Elmer L. Towns

Amazon Link for What's Right With the Church

Personal thoughts: It is easy to find things that are wrong with the local church. A former pastor removed because he was embezzling money for gambling. A pastor rewrote a 40 year old church constitution and added cult-like rules. If you did not agree and were honest, you were no longer a member. I have seen what is wrong with the church. But in spite of imperfect people, I have also seen what is right with the church.

The author of What‘s Right With the Church brings into focus those doctrines that are essential for the local church to get right. The author uses Biblical standards as he discusses Jesus, the Bible, Conversion, Sin, Worship, and other necessary principles. I especially enjoyed the chapter on Worship where the different types of worship were illustrated. He explained why diversity in worship styles is good and should be embraced. I also found his information about the “invitation” following the sermon very enlightening. The author’s message is that if the church can get it right on these subjects, they will make such a tremendous difference that the public will see and desire what Jesus and the local church has to offer.

What’s Right With the Church is a wonderful, thoughtful, and Biblically sound book. It is perfect for the church library, church leaders, and Christians in general. It is also a good book for those who want information on what to look for when seeking a church home.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Faces in the Fire by T.L. Hines *****

Amazon Link for Faces in the Fire

Yesterday, when I was only on page 68, I used Faces in the Fire by T.L. Hines as one of my Show Me 5 Saturday books. After I posted the “5”, I was so captivated that I sat down and read through the rest of the book. I don’t get so consumed by a book very often.

Here is the book description, followed by my review:

Book Description
Four lost souls on a collision course with either disaster or redemption.
A random community of Faces in the Fire.

Meet Kurt, a truck-driver-turned-sculptor with no memory of his past. Corinne, an e-mail spammer whose lymphoma isn't responding to treatment. Grace, a tattoo artist with an invented existence and a taste for heroin. And Stan, a reluctant hit man haunted by his terrifying gift for killing.

They don't know each other, at least not yet. But something--or someone--is at work in the fabric of their lives, weaving them all together. A catfish, a series of numbers scribbled on a napkin, a devastating fire, and something mysterious. Something that could send them hurtling down the highway to disaster--or down the road to redemption. But they won't know which is which until they've managed to say yes to the whispers in their souls.

My Review:
When I first started the book, I thought it was just a story about a quirky character who heard voices of the dead. I didn’t expect the eloquent weaving of stories that would eventually reach a surprising and dramatic end.

The characters are richly and thoroughly developed. The chapters are oddly numbered out of order and starting with chapter 34. As the story unfolds and the other characters take a turn at telling their stories, it all makes perfect sense. If I had I read about each of them in another book, I may have had little sympathy for any of them, but the way the author brings together their lives and their desire for redemption made me see something special in them.

The book is listed as Fiction/Christian/Suspense. If you are expecting a Christian book that clearly spells out a salvation message, you will be disappointed, but if you want a richly written character driven novel with the subtle message of redemption, you will enjoy this interesting and remarkable book. If you are the type of person that avoids Christian lit, I think you will be very surprised by this one. I highly recommend Faces in the Fire.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Show Me 5 Saturday - My Way

For my Show Me Five Saturday this week I will give a five word description of each of the two fiction books I am currently reading.

First: Faces in the Fire by T.L. Hines (I’m only on page 68)
Strange (but in a good way)

Second: Fatal Encryption by Debra Purdy Kong (I’m on page 114)
Frog (Bet ya' wonder about this one!)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Engine 2 Diet by Rip Esselstyn **** link for The Engine 2 Diet

The Engine 2 Diet is written by a firefighter who, following studies done by his medical doctor father, did a study of 13 firefighters and 2 civilians with the twenty-eight day plant-based Engine 2 diet. All were able to reduce their cholesterol, some significantly.

The book covers food myths, case testimonials, target BP & BMI, and how to read food labels. There is a section with basic cardiovascular exercises such as jumping jacks and step-ups. The exercise section is short, but covers all body areas and is mostly aerobic and body strengthening workouts. Most able-body persons will be able to accomplish the exercise routine.

The recipe section is more extensive with foods for every meal and dessert. This is, however, a very strict vegetarian diet. Most of the ingredients are readily available in your grocery store. Living in a small town area, I always take notice of the availability of the ingredients recommended. One lesser known ingredient that is frequently listed is Bragg Liquid Aminos, of which I just recently received a free sample. It is simply a healthier version of soy sauce and can be ordered online if not in your stores. Even in small towns, most grocers now have frozen meat substitutes.

Strict diets are difficult to stick to, but if you want to be healthy, I’d at least give this one a try for the initial two weeks. You may be hooked on it!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Everyday Promise Bible By Phil A Smouse*****

Amazon link for My Everyday Promise Bible

The Everyday Promise Bible is a full year of daily devotionals for children. Each day contains a Bible verse which is paraphrased by the author so that the child can fully understand God’s promises for that day. Along with the Bible verse is a short paragraph of instruction and uplifting direction. Everyday Promise Bible is perfect for reading to a small child or for a young reader to read aloud. Both will find a perfect devotional for the day. The devotions cover a variety of subjects from salvation to behaviors, and the art work in the book is beautiful, colorful and soft. The text is spaced well and readable. I would recommend this book for children, ages from babies to about 8 years old. Perfect for every home, it would also be a good addition for Church nurseries, Sunday School Classes, day care or just a lovely gift.

The Cave by Steve McGill *****

Amazon Link for The Cave

Book Description:
When World War I began, Arthur Pratt did what many other Americans did, joining a foreign army to fight while the United States was still trying to avoid entering the conflict. He was reportedly killed in action, though no body was ever recovered, and his surviving family had only letters and photos from the war to remember him by. Eighty years later, Arthur’s great-great-grandson Ian is fascinated by the war he’s learned about from his family scrapbooks. He wants to be adventurous and brave just like Arthur, which for Ian means testing his mettle against the spooky Butterfield Ranch and a mysterious nearby cave. When weird things begin happening around him, Ian realizes he’s being called upon to solve a mystery, but doing so will require venturing into the cave.

My Review
The main character of Ian Pratt has a wonderful relationship with his grandfather, and his “Gramps” teaches him through phtotographs and stories about Ian’s great-great-grandfather who went missing in World War I. Ian also learns lessons in bravery as he sets out on his mission to discover the secrets of the cave. Because of my own interest in genealogy, I enjoyed Ian’s intense curiosity in his ancestry and the encouragement of his family in that interest.

The Cave is a wonderful, well-written story that combines horror and history to create a tale that is magical. The book is classified as Young Adult, but the story itself will hold the attention of anyone that has an interest in history or just enjoys a scary quick read.

Don't think for a minute that because this is written for young people that it is a lightweight horror story! I thought it was pretty scary. Because of that and because the book deals with war and death, I would even show care in choosing this book for sensitive children under 12. I would definitely recommend The Cave for adventurous children and teens, and I think adults looking for a quick read will also enjoy this well-composed story.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hit List by Darcia Helle **** link for Hit List

Product Description
Sanity is not something you lose, like your car keys or that elusive sock in the dryer. That's what Ian believed before his mother stepped over the edge from sane to crazy. No one is able to give Ian a reasonable explanation. Corinne suffers from severe memory loss, odd behavior, and paranoid delusions. Or at least Ian had been told they were delusions. After all, who would be hiding outside watching his mother? And why? Ian hires private investigator Lucianna Martel to retrace the events of his mother's last sane day. During Lucianna's investigation, she and Ian learn that Corinne may not be so crazy after all.
My Review
I have been fortunate lately to find books to review that I really enjoy. Hit List by Darcia Helle is one of those books. I love stories that emphasize strong family relationships. Corrine is suffering from a mental illness, and despite advice to have her institutionalized, Ian has chosen to care for her at home. There is also a nice romance that develops during the story.

Although I didn’t quite buy that the mental illness was brought on by the sudden event, it doesn’t matter. The book is good enough to give the author license to bend our imagination a little. She did prove the old saying, “Even paranoids have enemies! ” There is a lot of bad language, but in fairness, it is just the bad guys (I’m mean REALLY bad guys) that use it. There are lots of twists in this interesting story that will surprise the reader and keep you wondering until the end.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Show Me 5 Saturday - A Little Different

My five for this Saturday will be a little different. Right now I am reading Fatal Encryption by Debra Purday Kong and The Cave by Steve McGill. My next five FICTION BOOKS are listed below. I have a few non-fiction that I may list next week.
My Five next fiction (not necessarily reading in this order):
1. Dreamer by Phillip L Davidson
2. The Rasner Effect by Mark Rosendorf
3. Faces in the Fire by T.L. Hines
4. The Lost Dog by Michelle de Kretser
5. Distant Thunder by Jimmy Root Jr.

Let me know if you have read or are going to read these.

The Kabalyon Key by Charles Westbrook

I have had this book for a while and have been struggling to read it. I am on page 141 and have no clue as to what the book is about except that Washington D.C. is designed after some Masonic symbolism. The author's preface states that he wrote a book about the presense of God's love and how sometimes people don't see it. I feel like I am reading the wrong book! Chapter to chapter it seems to be all over the place, and there are odd acronyms and symobls in with the text.

This book has RAVE reviews all over, so I think what I may do is put the book away for a couple of weeks and then start reading it over from the beginning. While I am always honest in my reviews, I also want to be fair. While I don't hate the book, I just think I am missing something. For now, this is not my official review, and I will try it again. I hope to see what others love in this book!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Anti-Alzheimer’s Prescription by Vincent Fortanasce, M.D. *****

Amazon Link for The Anti-Alzheimer's Prescription

The Anti-Alzheimer’s Prescription is an interesting look at one of the most dreaded diseases. The book presents a fact-filled guide to better health and what lifestyle changes you can make to help prevent the onset of the disease.

Broken down in three parts, Dr. Fortanasce explains first in layman’s terms what is known about Alzheimer’s and how to evaluate your personal risk factors. The second part of the book is a four-step plan to help prevent the disease by targeting specific health needs of your body and brain. Part Three is the diagnosis, treatment, and future of Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Fortanasce believes that even with a genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s there are steps that can be taken to prevent or delay the disease. His experience as a neurologist, and even more personally with his own father, gives the doctor an insight into what lifestyle changes can be made to decrease the likelihood of developing the disease. Using a science-based method with a holistic approach, the doctor gives health suggestions, exercises for both the body and the brain, relaxation techniques, and even menu plans with recipes. Especially interesting is the information on how important sleep is to our health and the importance of the treatment of sleep apnea.

To say this is an important book is an understatement. Alzheimer’s is such a devastating disease. If we can make smart choices in our life now, think of the impact we will make on our future.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

When God Turns Off the Lights by Cecil Murphey *****

Amazon Link for When God Turns Off the Lights

When God Turns Off the Lights is a deep and personal story of the author, a dedicated Christian, who suddenly falls into a time of spiritual emptiness. He feels as if God has turned His face away. It is a thoughtful look at the feelings and thoughts of someone who believes he has been left in the “darkness” and a look at the verses in Scripture about this very subject.

There is neither condemnation nor accusations of lack of faith. Instead, this book helps the Christian walk through some of the reasons an individual may feel separated from God. It also explains that sometimes God allows this to happen to even the most faithful.

Beautifully written and packed with relevant Scripture verses to help the struggling Christian. The author brings us through his painful time and into his victory. He also shares how the silence of God helped him to grow even more.

As someone who has been through darkness, I believe this is the best book I have ever read for a suffering Christian. I highly recommend this book, and I thank the author for sharing his experience.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Zumba by Beto Perez *****

Amazon Link for Pre-order Zumba

About the Author:
Celebrity fitness trainer Alberto "Beto" Perez is orginally from Cali, Colombia. Before creating and launching Zumba in the U.S. in the late '90s, Perez attended the Maria Sanford Brazilian Dance Academy, became an instructor and choreographed dance routines for high profile performers, including platinum album selling artist Shakira. He now resides in Miami, FL. The Zumba brand sells DVDs, CDs, clothing and workout gear at and

My Review:Zumba is a new weight loss program that combines diet with a Latin-inspired dance fitness routines. It is a great way to get the movement you need and have fun at the same time. There is a nice introduction by the author with personal stories and his motivation in developing Zumba.

Full body movement is the name of the game with Zumba. Although my reader review copy of the book did not contain the DVD that will be included with the book, there will be a 60 min. DVD with up-beat music described as Salsa, Cumbia, Reggaeton, and Merengue.

There is also a diet portion of the book described as “bodyshaping foods”. To get started there is a Five-day Express diet with specific foods to eat for each meal. All of the food listed in the 5-day diet is wholesome, healthy, and real food. You also get enough food at each so that you will feel satisfied. There is a detailed explanation of the food choices and several different choices of diets. I am very impressed with the food choices and the food combinations. I could live on this diet and never feel deprived or bored.

No diet and exercise program can perform magic, but his one has good, solid, and healthy information, and you will have FUN too.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Science of Life After Death

Book DescriptionA new book from Oaklea Press, The Science of Life After Death, draws on recent research by the Windbridge Institute and an ongoing study by the University of Virginia, to provide indisputable evidence of the continuation of human consciousness, separated from the body, after death.

The author, Internet talk show host Stephen Hawley Martin, has been interviewing quantum physicists, scientists, and researchers of the paranormal since his weekly talk show, The Truth About Life, debuted in 2007. The book reports what he has learned and postulates a theory to explain it.

My Review
I confess that this book is not what I expected. While I have no doubt that the soul and spirit live on after death, I didn’t find anything that really convinced me of the theories outlined in this book. I also didn’t find any new information. One exception is that you can now become a “Certified” medium. I had never heard of that before, but I’d love to see the Board Certification exam. Some of the topics discussed are, ESP, the remote viewing experiments from the 1970s, reincarnation (past lives memories), and near death experiences.

There are quite a few claims made in the book, but little to back them up. For example, in 1979 three psychics were contracted by – someone – to decide where the Skylab would hit when it crashed to earth. All three of them guessed the crash site by 5 miles, but this story does not make it scientific fact. There was a lot of talk about scientific experiments, but nothing to back it up. The claims of scientific proof are pretty far-fetched.

I don’t think science will ever prove life after death, but for those of us with a faith in the God of the Bible, we don’t need that proof.

Follow-up 9-5-09. I received a rather rude email today from a publicist from Oaklea Press . They did not like my review and actually accused me of not reading the book. He couldn't believe that I did not accept the "solved cases" from psychics and "cases involving such things as birth marks that mimic fatal wounds, missing hands, fingers and legs that mimic those lost in the previous life".

The problem is that the word Science was used in the title, and there was NO DOCUMENTATION OF ANY OF THIS, just the author saying it happened.

Follow-up 9-6-09 I received an email of apology from the publicist.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Strange But True, America by John Hafnor, author and Dale Crawford, Illustrator ***** link for Strange but True America, Weird Tales from All 50 States

What an interesting book! If you like trivia, quirky facts, or history, you will absolutely love this book.

Every state has a tale to tell, and the author has certainly delivered up some fascinating history. Best of all, the book is fun to read. The general layout of the book is one page of story and one illustration page. The stories range from heartwarming, to horrible, to down-right strange, but all are entertaining.

My favorite was my home state story of Fast Eddie, but the story of the student who killed the oldest living thing came in a close second! An additional section of the book, When Doomsday Came Calling in Your State, is quite an eye opener. Finally, the section called Thumbing Through America’s Weird Past is a meandering tour of the different areas of the country with bits and pieces of historical trivia.

The illustrators love of history and the old west shows in his detailed contributions to the book. The combination of story and drawings create a complete picture of each of the stories. This is a wonderful book for ages 10 – 110. You can also check out the author's website,, for additional information and even some collectable state postcards with tales from the book.

Show Me 5 Saturday - Thanks to That's a Novel Idea

Thanks to That's a Novel Idea Blog
Each Saturday I will post the answers to 5 questions regarding a recent review:

1 - Book you read and/or reviewed this week
Pelican Point
2 - Two words that describe the book
Surprising, Interesting
3 - Settings where it took place
Inner & Outer Banks NC
4 - Things you liked about it
setting descriptions, characters
5 - 5 Stars or less for your rating?
5 stars

Friday, August 14, 2009

Genesis Through Numbers Quick Notes Bible Commentary **** Link for Genesis Through Numbers

Can a commentary really cover Genesis through Numbers in 240 pages? I confess I was a little skeptical when I began reading, but I was genuinely surprised to see that the author/editor was able to accomplish just that.

Good organization of the chapters seems to be the key to the success of this book. Each section has a Set-up (intent), Critical Observations (questions what or why), Demystifying (definitions and explanations), and Take it Home (applications). I appreciated the detailed maps throughout the lessons and the easy to read text boxes that makes the information attention-grabbing.

I especially enjoyed the section on Jacob’s Blessing, described as a theatrical play in 5 scenes, though the scenes are broken down differently by different commentators. Act One: Isaac Asks Esau for a meal, Act Two: Rebekah’s Scheme, Act Three: Jacob’s Esau Imitation, Act Four: Esau’s Horror and Revenge, and Act Five: Jacob’s Departure. The commentary puts each act in focus with the consequences of the characters actions.

I also found the use of different versions of the Bible helpful in making sense of difficult passages. Genesis Through Numbers Quick Notes Bible Commentary will complement your Bible study with observations that will enrich your learning experience.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Pelican Point by Douglas Quinn ***** Link for Pelican Point
Book description:
Life is good for Webb Sawyer. Until he gets hit over the head in the Nags Head Pier parking lot. Until a mercenary from Colombia, and three of the Colombian's friends try to kill him and burn down his house at Blue Heron Marsh. Until his son goes missing while trying to track down the killer of a university professor, a murder for which his son Preston is under suspicion.

My Review:
This book is nothing less than amazing. Pelican Point starts out as a laid back easy mystery. Webb Sawyer, along with his cat Basil, spends his days boating and fishing. His son is suddenly under suspicion for the murder of a college professor, and Webb needs to use his network of friends and his own expertise (read that as temper!) to help his son. But what starts out as an easy going mystery suddenly explodes into a powerful crime drama.

The book has interesting, well-developed characters. Webb is retired career Army, rather unpredictable, and rough around the edges. Preston, who normally lives with his mother and step-father, struggles with Webb for that father/son relationship. It is an honest and hard look at the relationship between the son and the noncustodial parent.

The author has a wonderful dry sense of humor which is evident throughout the book. His rich description of the inner and outer coastal areas and fishing in North Carolina was magnificent. From start to finish the story has twists and turns I never expected. I look forward to reading more from this author.

The Worst Loss by Barbara D Rosof ****

This is going to be a short review of a 1994 book, The Worst Loss, How Families Heal from the Death of a Child by Barbara D. Rosof. This is a book I requested through (and I will be relisting it there soon for re-mooch). It is difficult to review a book like this because losing a child truly is the worst loss and nothing spoken or in print can make it better. This one is personal.

The Worst Loss, written by a psychotherapist, is a book of case studies and advice from a professional to help move through the grieving process. The book is a very good reference for the different stages of grieving, and the advice is generally good. Some of the subjects covered are: Acute grief, sibling grief, infant deaths, terminal illness, sudden deaths, murders, suicides, and going forward with the rest of your life. I would probably recommend this book for families 1-2 years out from a child loss.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

De Marco Empire by J Lou McCartney ***** link De Marco Empire
Book Description:
Brothers, Antonio and Gianni de Marco originate from La Pregheira in Umbria, Italy. Having made their fortune and eager to escape their murky past they re-locate to London, England where they open a prestigious nightclub.

When Katie Saunders and Lucy Carmichael manage to get a couple of jobs in the club, little do they suspect what is in store. From their normal, law-abiding and steady lives they are entering a world of mafia-style rivalry, turf wars, extortion, vice, corruption, drugs and murder. They impress those around them but also encounter jealousy, back-biting and malice – but also love and romance. Katie is swept off her feet by Antonio de Marco, the club's owner, and Lucy by his friend Stevo.

But when a long standing vendetta against the de Marco family begins to rear its ugly head things begin to take a turn for the worse. With enemies old and new crawling out of the woodwork, just who is ultimately responsible for the devastation about to tear their whole world apart.

My Review:
Mystery? Romance? Thriller? J Lou McCartney’s first novel, De Marco Empire, manages to pull off all three with great style. Two brothers dealing with a generational family feud are on the surface hard-working business men. But in reality, the corrupt club owners seem to believe that they have clean hands because they had even more corrupt people doing their deeds.

Each character is carefully crafted, and their lives were interwoven with the others. I liked the fact that you know at the beginning of the book what is going to happen – you just don’t know how. Although blinded by love, the main female characters were strong independent women. Katie rarely did what Antonio told her to do and became an independent business woman without asking for his help. For me, the friendship between Katie and Lucy was the heart of the book.

The book flowed well, and even with the short chapter divisions, the story was never choppy. De Marco Empire is a rich and well-written novel.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Under this Unbroken Sky by Shandi Mitchell

Under This Unbroken Sky is the story of the families of Teodor, and his sister Anna, Ukrainian immigrants to the northern Canadian prairie. Set in 1938, farming life on the cold prairie was harsh and their very existence was a struggle to survive.

Drought, greed, starvation, child abuse, murder, rape, - Incredibly dark and depressing you struggle through their daily hardships with tragedy after tragedy. The descriptions in the book are well done, but I did not care for the mostly present tense writing and thought it made the flow choppy. I also thought that much of the violence in the book was there for the shock value of violence. The story line seemed foggy to me, as if there was some other story that was going to come about, but didn't.

I received this book from Barnes and Noble First Look book program. Part of their program is participation in a discussion in their forums. I struggled to get through this book, but I seemed to be quite alone. Everyone else seemed to love the book! I don't know; maybe it's just me.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Unstoppable Confidence by Astrid Harris ****

The book is available at Outskirtspress

or on Unstoppable Confidence
Book Description:
Unstoppable Confidence is your ticket to a whole new life – you can be stronger, bolder, and more secure. This easy-to-use workbook tackles six breakthrough steps to help build self-confidence using case studies, exercises, assignments, and empowering techniques.

My Review: I don’t know too many people who couldn’t use a boost of confidence and self-assurance. At times we all feel inadequate or overwhelmed by what we need to accomplish. Unstoppable Confidence is a workbook, broken down into 6 - 1 week lessons, which will teach you how to overcome the thoughts that drag you down and make you feel ineffective.

Initially, the reader assesses their inner belief system, which is a process rather like looking at your thoughts in a mirror. I found the 13 categories of negative thoughts especially useful, and I admit I recognized myself in several categories. The workbook not only helps the reader recognize flawed thoughts, but how to defeat them.

As a fascinating pep-talk for life, the book helps the reader to plan a course for the future and teaches how to go from feeling hopeless about a situation to conquer fears to go forward. We tend to limit ourselves in so many ways when all we really need is to step out and take a chance. This workbook can give you the confidence to attempt great things.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Jesus of the Bible by Stephen M. Miller ***** link:!The Jesus Of The Bible">

The author’s preface states that he wrote the book for some of his family and friends to tell them about the Jesus of the Bible, and that he did not want to make another boring book, especially about Jesus. He succeeded on both counts. The Jesus of the Bible is an informative and interesting book that is anything but boring. There is extensive information about Jesus, the land of His time, and the social practices of the day. The book is organized well and breaks up the general text with information in easy to read decorative text boxes.

The topics covered in the book were some I have never seen covered in any other book of Jesus. Some of the more unique aspects of the book are discussions on what Jesus may have looked like, and what traditional practices of the Jews explains why we do not know. Also, there is information on Jewish and Roman crimes and punishment of the times, and the recent release of the translation of Gabriel’s Revelation.

The book is a complete book of Jesus from preparation for His birth through His childhood, ministry, death, resurrection, and preparation for His return.

This book is never a stuffy textbook, always informative and sometimes lighthearted. There are beautiful photographs and artwork throughout and, of course, the beautiful story of His amazing love and amazing grace.

This book is also offered at an amazingly low price for a book of this size and quality.
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