Sunday, December 26, 2010

A God with a Wider Heart by John Daniel Kunnathu link for A God with a Wider Heart
In God with a Wider Heart, the author retells some well known Bible stories in dialog form and in modern language.

In his introduction, John Daniel Kunnathu explains that as a child he was taught that the Bible was historical fact, but as he grew older, he began to believe that they need to be understood metaphorically. He decided to tell the stories as he understands the bible stories now which contrasts from the way he viewed the stories growing up.

While I disagree with his view of some of the stories, they are beautifully written. However these stores are embellished and there is added dialog between characters that does not appear in the scriptures. One story that caused me concern was one in which the author believes that both thieves that were crucified with Christ went to heaven, but the unrepentant thief would just experience it as hell because he could not discern light and darkness.

I would recommend this only if you believe the Bible is mythology, which I do not.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Mere Churchianity by Michael Spencer link for Mere Churchianity
In the first section, the author tries to explain why people are leaving the traditional church denominations. Unfortunately, the book takes on the tone of a rant. While the author gives a cursory criticism of all of the major denominations, he was especially hard on his own Evangelical churches. It reached the rant stage when he repeatedly criticized churches for not embracing the homosexual lifestyle and abortion. In the author's view, people are leaving traditional churches exclusively because of these social issues, and I think his view is misguided. There were also a few stories given as object lessons that were childish and the point was difficult to find.

While I didn't like the first part of the book, I thought the last three sections were rich with information and insight. The author explains with clarity that an individual can leave the church, but not necessarily leave behind their devotion to Jesus. In fact, sometimes they need to leave the church to find Jesus. My favorite chapter title is "It's a Bad Idea to be a Good Christian" where he explains the importance of a gospel without adjectives. In other words, true Grace.

Do you see Jesus in your church? If not, you may need to leave the church to maintain your integrity as a believer. I would recommend the book to those who have left or been driven out of the church. I also think those still in the church may be able to improve the vision of their church.

I received this book free of charge for review from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Cutting Edge by Darcia Helle link for The Cutting Edge

Skye Summers is not your ordinary hairstylist. What is so different? This hairstylist fantasizes about killing her clients. Skye takes the reader through her day with her regular clients and their problems, confessions and families.

The Cutting Edge is written with a combination of styles. There is a little of everything in this book - a serial killer mystery, humor, thriller and more. As the book starts, it is written in a sarcastic and humorous tone with the main character describing her regular customers and her dislike for them. It is at this point the story is borderline cozy, but then it takes on a darker tone. Later in the book the serial killer storyline takes over and it becomes more intense and gruesome, a little too gruesome for me.

The story wraps up in a very satisfying way and a little different than I expected. Even though it was a little too brutal for me, I enjoyed this unique storyline and this very special character.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Judgment Day by Wanda L. Dyson

Link to purchase Judgment Day 

Suzanne Kidwell is a cutthroat journalist for her weekly cable news show, Judgment Day. She will use any means possible to expose corruption, but her own methods of doing so are called into question. Suddenly the tables are turned and she must prove her own innocence in a murder.

Suzanne is a character you will love to hate. At first, you may even cheer when she is in trouble, but eventually she is forced to learn to be humble. Marcus and Alexandria are both good solid characters that provide a light romance (very light). I liked the character of Alexandria and the way she turned her back on her father’s wealth and business to take her own road.

There were some twists in the book including one that took place early into the book that took me by surprise. I would recommend this book for those who enjoy Christian fiction without obvious preaching.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Secret of the Shroud by Pamela Binnings Ewen

link to purchase Secret of the Shroud
Following a childhood tragedy and feeling abandoned by God, a bitter Archbishop Wesley Bright has led the Christian church in the wrong direction.  He is a charismatic leader preaching a gospel absent of absolute truth.  Everything he has sought to destroy is now challenged by a scrap of cloth.

I have never had an interest in the Shroud of Turin, but I have to admit after reading this book, I understand why so many people find it fascinating.  

I enjoyed each of the characters and their unique perspective to the story.  I especially liked the way the story blended three points in time, from the time of Christ, the 1950s, and the near future.  

The story starts with a shocking tragedy that scarred a child’s heart and filled him with guilt for life.  As shocking as the event was, a true similar incident happened in Chicago a few years ago. 

The author uses an impressive blend of scientific information and history so that the characters could bring this historical article to even the hardest of hearts. I really enjoyed Secret of the Shroud and would recommend it for those who like suspense/mystery novels with a moral storyline.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo

Link to purchase Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo 
This is an easy, quick read with a likeable child who purportedly visited heaven and spoke about what heaven is like.

The book is well written and there are some nice black and white photos of the family in the middle of the book. I decided to read this book because it was written by a pastor, and I thought it would be an account that would be an honest and thoughtful story.

Unfortunately, in order to believe this story your have to make some choices in what you want to believe. Either Colton visited heaven while still alive or he died on the table and the surgeon, anesthetist, and nurses didn’t notice. There was no mention by the doctors in talking with the parents or in medical records that Colton died on the surgical table. Also, there is a time problem. Colton talked about seeing God shoot power down to his dad while preaching. This means either Colton’s father was preaching while the child was in surgery (he was not) or there was some time traveling going on. His father explains this away by saying he was in “God’s time”.

The author’s strongest evidence is that the child talks about a deceased family member and a miscarriage his mother suffered, both of which he supposedly had no knowledge. I find it hard to believe that at no time was this child away from the parents and in the care of another family member who could have mentioned these events or even just overheard his parents talking about it. Other events mentioned by Colton sound more like Sunday School 101.

I really wanted to like this book because I am a believer, but I think this child’s parents are reading way too much into his precocious and creative behavior.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

An Orientation to our Life: A Guide to Young Men and Women by John Daniel Kunnathu

Link to purchase An Orientation to our Life
Set in a pre-Christian setting, a group of young Jewish men and women gather around the Rabbi seeking answers for questions about creation, life, and death. The author takes the role of the Rabbi and gives enlightenment and thought-provoking answers using, and limited to, only the first three chapters of Genesis.

There are several insightful messages that stood out for me, including the importance of asking for forgiveness for restoration and our relationship to God in death.

I think the most valuable aspect of this book is in the lessons we can learn about how to engage our young people to read, study and interpret the scriptures. This question and answer method is going to have a more lasting impression than would a teacher or church leader who approaches subjects with lectures and rigidity. If we allow them to ask questions without condemnation or ridicule, and then give answers that will require reflection and more study about the subject, they will learn discernment.

This is a short book, easy to read, and beautifully written. My favorite two quotes from this book:

“We are the expression of God’s life within the limits of time and space.”

“When they (life and earth) separate, we die. Earth goes back to the ground and life goes back to join the creator. Thus our life and God's life are one, and so we have no death.”

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Operation Thriller

Five of today's most critically acclaimed thriller writers (left to right) Douglas Preston, Steve Berry, David Morrell, James Rollins, and Andy Harp posed for a group photo during a USO meet-and-greet in Kuwait on November 8, 2010. Part of a week-long USO tour entitled "Operation Thriller," the authors were in the Middle East extending America's heartfelt thanks to US troops.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Mission Possible by D. L. McCarragher

Link to purchase Mission Possible at Alabaster Box Publishing

A brief outline of this book is best described by the author:
“This book will serve to encourage your heart, strengthen your soul, and stretch your faith.”

Mission Possible begins by describing the priestly role model that Jesus portrays for the husband in the household. Unfortunately, he will not follow this role if your spouse is not a believer. Becoming a believer while your spouse is not can cause stress, heartache, and discouragement.
Mission Possible is a detailed, scripturally based boot-camp for the believing spouse on a new Godly mission – to be a testimony and a representative of Jesus to your husband. D. L.McCarragher’s experience and energy presents the Word of God to edify and instruct on prayer, pitfalls and priorities.

The book is set up to use as a devotional or Bible study. It has a “Seek and Find” section with questions, discussion and addition Bible verses after each chapter. There are also short clever remarks inserted into the chapters that can only be described as Pure Encouragement!

I especially enjoyed “In the Meantime- Serve”. In this chapter she talks about serving the Lord, but doing so with respect to the husband and the problems that may arise. She explains how to make good decisions that will maintain love and peace in the home.

I highly recommend this book for individual or women’s group Bible studies. For those using an e-book, Mission Possible is very well formatted for the e-book format with easy chapter navigation.
D. L. McCarragher's website

Chasing the Night by Iris Johansen link for Chasing the Night by Iris Johansen

I have an earlier Iris Johansen Eve Duncan book on my to-be-read shelf, but I received this one for review so I decided to read this first. Although part of a series, it is certainly a stand-alone book.

Eve and Joe are both interesting characters, but as a couple the spark seems to be missing. There was nothing that would make me look forward to another book about them or run to a previous book to find out how they reached this point in their relationship. The other characters in the book are all over the top in whatever they do. There is some sarcastic attitude, which I can appreciate, but they are too much like comic book characters.

All in all I can say that it is not a bad action/adventure/thriller but I just couldn’t enjoy reading about the sadistic psychological torture, rape, and other physical abuse especially when a child is involved.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Place to Die An Inspector Gerg Buchner Mystery by Dorothy James link to purchase A Place to Die
About the Book: Eleanor and Franz Fabian arrive from New York to spend Christmas with Franz's mother in her sedate retirement home in the Vienna Woods. Their expectations are low: at best, boredom, at worst, run-of-the-mill family friction. But when the wealthy, charming Herr Graf is found dead in his apartment with an ugly head wound, the Fabians are thrust into a homicide investigation. Some residents and staff have surprising connections to the dead man, but who would have wanted to kill him? Inspector Büchner tracks down the murderer against a backdrop of Viennese history from the Nazi years to the present day..

My Review: A Place to Die is a well-written traditional mystery with mature characters in a unique setting. It is an interesting look into an assisted living facility divided between those who can still care for themselves and then the dreaded section where more assistance is needed. There are many characters living in this facility and their loves and friendships are portrayed in detail. It is the type of mystery that is well thought out, painstakingly described, and comes around full circle for the conclusion.

It was a little difficult for me to follow the characters at first until I got used to the terms Herr and Frau before the names. I thought two of the three main characters were rather unpleasant and their unhappy relationship grated on me. There were some unexpected sexual situations dropped into the story that were just too awkward to add to the story. Inspector Buchner, however, was wonderful, and I look forward to reading more with his character.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Generation Ex-Christian: Why Young Adults are Leaving the Faith and How to Bring Them Back by Drew Dyck link for Generation Ex-Christian
Generation Ex-Christian is a look at why so many young people are leaving behind the faith they learned as a child. The author interviewed ex-Christians, and he breaks down the “leavers” into six types, postmodernist, recoiler, modernist, neopagen, rebel, and the drifter. He highlights several individuals and what caused them to change. What would cause a Christian to turn to Wicca, or lead them to commit to atheism? Imagine being a youth leader and an offhanded harsh comment would so hurt someone that they would turn their back on God.

In breaking down the categories, the author gives specific instruction on how to relate to the individuals with the hope of leading them back. This is an important read for youth leaders, Sunday School teachers, and others in the ministry.

My only criticism of the book is the oversimplifying impression that those leaving the church are leaving God. Many youth leaders make our young adults feel as though they will never live up to what is expected of them. Spiritual abuse is a painful experience, and we should never minimize the saving grace of Christ or equate church attendance with salvation. 

Satan no longer has to destroy Christians; the church is doing that work for him.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Pandora's Succession Virtual Book Tour Contest link for Pandora's Succession

Pandora's Succession Virtual Book Tour Contest:   Everyone that leaves a comment with their email address (in the body of your message) will win an autographed book cover. After the blog tour, 10 commentors from all of the blogs will be drawn to win free autographed ebook copies of Pandora's Succession.
You may go to Russell Brooks' website at if you want to follow the tour.

My Review:
Ridley Fox is a man with a past. Tormented by the murder of his fiancé by weapons dealers, he has never lost focus of justice for her death. The beginning of the book describes a terrifying scene with a rediscovered bio-weapon so deadly that it wiped out an entire civilization in ancient times. Fox gets in the middle of the control grab between the CDC and a Japanese Intelligence organization. The biggest question for Ridley Fox is “Who do I trust?”

Hang on, because this one is a roller coaster ride of action. The story has great contrasts in characters with the good guys, bad guys, CIA, Arms of Ares, Japanese Intel, and the CDC. The author has a good understanding of the technology and the ability to describe it to the average reader. There was a good blend of narration and dialog without getting bogged down in either.

Pandora’s Succession is a descriptive action adventure. I would have liked more included of the medical/lab atmosphere, but that is just my personal preference, not a criticism. This is a great new book and a great new author.

Book Blogger Hop

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Christmas Knot by William G. Bentrim link for The Christmas Knot

The Christmas Knot is a lovely story of family, values, and love. Hardy is a young boy with his puppy, Tiny. It is getting close to Christmas and time for dad to put up the outside lights. When things don’t go as planned, Hardy and his cousin Mardi learn several important lessons.

Character building is always a key ingredient in William G. Bentrim’s books and is very evident in The Christmas Knot. Hardy learns that things don’t always go as planned. He also learns that admitting a mistake is the right thing to do, and that sometimes mistakes turn out for the best. The church’s nativity scene becomes a focus in the story which completes this beautiful Christmas story.

Tiny once again stole my heart and I think it is hilarious that The Christmas Knot is a Tiny “pre-quel”!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wake Up! You're Probably Never Going to Look Like That: How to be Happier, Healthier and Imperfectly Fit by Michelle Pearl link for Wake Up
Wake Up starts with information on scientific studies, dieting, but its main focus is how to manage unrelenting hunger and dealing with a lower metabolism. The author discusses her back and forth struggle with weight that went along with many personal problems. It is a realistic look at weight loss, with an emphasis on being as healthy as possible without setting unrealistic goals.

My favorite quote from the book is: “The last time I had a craving for a celery stick? That would be never.”

There is a nice section with a list of foods we frequently reach for and alternative choices. There is a section on keeping active with whatever exercise is manageable. There is information on food and our children, fast food and a 12 week change program. There is a unique section with fractured fairytales to debunk diet myths.

The book ends with interviews from real average people describing their own successful weight loss plans. There is no magic book that will give us all of the answers, but Wake Up gives good advice with hints and tips to create your own safety net meals.

The Art of Comforting What to Say and Do for People in Distress by Val Walker link for The Art of Comforting
Compassion and comfort – these are difficult to find these days. We hope to find them in ourselves, our friends, churches, and medical professionals, but quite often there is little information or training for those entrusted with this responsibility.

The Art of Comforting is an interesting and informative book that gives instruction on what to say, and also how to say it. Not just a few suggestions, but several pages of comparing platitudes with more helpful comments and even the body language that portrays comfort.

A large portion of the book introduces us to several individuals involved in professions in which they have developed skills in comforting and encouragement. There are suggestions from a Victim’s Advocate, a Nurse Practitioner, a Patient education Specialist and a Minister, each with their unique skills and perspectives. There was a wonderful section on the comfort and love that animals bring into our lives.

There were a couple of things I didn’t like in the book. The section on Art as a Source of Comfort was not something I found interesting. There are some odd political comments complaining about cuts in government social services (thanks, but I would rather not get my comfort or compassion from the government!), and there was a much-too-long list of the author’s list of life’s comforts.

All in all, this is a nice book with good information for those who want a more compassionate personality.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

2011 Quilt Calendar from That Patchwork Place link for 2011 Quilt Calendar
This review is a little different because I am reviewing the 2011 Quilt Calendar from That Patchwork Place. The calendar is not only beautiful, but functional. Each half of the fold-up calendar is one-foot square, and each day has a large enough area to write in multiple appointments. Major holidays are listed.

The quilts presented are beautiful, mostly traditional, some with a modern flair. There is a pull-out instruction book in the back of the calendar that has complete patterns and detailed instructions for each of the showcased quilts.

There is a nice selection of patterns, and although not rated in the calendar, I will give my opinion of the different skill levels. April’s “S-C-H-Double–Oh-L” is an Irish Chain type quilt that is easy enough for a beginner, as is August’s pieced “The Square Within”.

For a beginner that has some quilting experience, January’s “Old Fashioned Hospitality” has a combination of piecing and pineapple appliqué. May has “Perkiomen Valley in the 1930s” with some chain piecing blocks. June’s “Square Deal” is easy squares, but with some unique piecing, and October has “Tulip Time” with both easy piecing and simple appliqués.

For the intermediate quilter March has “Twice as Nice” and July has “Spin City”, both variations of the pinwheel pieced pattern. November’s “Flying Shuttles” and December’s “Pomegranate Christmas” are a combination of pieced and appliqué quilts.

For the very skilled quilters I recommend February’s appliquéd “Peachy Keen” and September’s paper foundation “Pinwheel Stars”.

All of them are great quilts and a beautiful calendar to look at all year.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sew the Perfect Bag 25 Great Projects from Sew News link for Sew the Perfect Bag
Big, small, pretty or just functional, I love my purses, totes, and bags for fun and for work.

Sew the Perfect Bag contains large color photographs of each project and most of the diagrams are in color too. You don’t have to be an expert at sewing and you don’t need to be fussy-perfect with the project to make something beautiful and useful. Each easy-to-follow pattern is broken down with written instructions and diagrams for each step of the project, including the placement of fabrics.

The 25 patterns include a market bag, computer bag, a baby bag with a changing pad, tote bags, a lunch bag, a book bag, mesh beach bag, a couple of clutches, a wine bag and other multi-purpose bags. There are a couple of patterns that I think would be perfect for a Kindle, nook, or other e-reader. There is even a section that shows how to take an old sweater and refashion it into a beautiful tote.

The patterns are not rated for difficulty, but I would rate them as easy to advanced beginner. This is a great book with pretty, fun, and useful projects.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Just a Note

My reviews have been taking longer for me to finish lately.  I am reading several books right now for review, and I am reading The Woods by Harlan Coben for a book discussion on  Upcoming reviews include a thriller, a weight-loss book, two Christian  fiction, one Christian non-fiction and a 2011 quilt calendar (I can't wait to show you this one).  I will start posting some this coming week.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Captured by Grace by Dr. David Jeremiah

Captured by Grace (Trade Paper)
Link to for Captured by Grace
Dr. Jeremiah uses the story of John Newton and the writing of the hymn Amazing Grace to illustrate God’s grace to us in our daily lives.

The book is divided into three parts: Grace for the Past, Grace for the Present, and Grace for the Future. There are wonderful reminders of God’s grace for us and a few highlights in this book. The author comments on our day of judgment and our test of accountability. It is a wonderful reminder that the test will not be how many Bibles we own or verses we memorize, but how we apply those verses to our lives that will be of value. The author presents quotes from many sources and one that stood out to me was from John Stott, “We do not fall in and out of grace….No, we stand in it, for that is the nature of grace. Nothing can separate us from God’s love.”

While Captured by Grace has a good message, it is not an easy book to read. It is rather dry, and the topics don’t seem to flow well together. There were some stories in the book that I did not think were explained well. One is a story of a preacher who threw Bibles at listeners in the congregation. I read that portion several times, but it was puzzling to me, and I was confused as to the value in telling of the incident.

Captured by Grace is a wonderful reminder of God’s Grace and what that should mean to us in our daily lives.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

When the Devil Whistles by Rick Acker link for When the Devil Whistles 
When the Devil Whistles by Rick Acker has a strong message to tell. The plot revolves around what it means to be a person of good character, living what you believe and making things right when you have done wrong.

Conner Norman is an honest, ethical lawyer. He believes that you should always do right, and if you break the law – you pay the price. His friend Allie works through a temp agency to infiltrate companies suspected of defrauding the government. Together they try to bring the crooks to justice. Allie has problems her own, and Conner learns that she may not be the person of character he thought.

I enjoyed reading this legal drama and the unique story of the very lucrative business of a whistle-blower. The importance of honesty, ethical behavior and restoration is evident throughout this exciting story. They fight for justice and at times, their lives.

Thank you to for the e-copy of When the Devil Whistles.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The New Knitter’s Template by Laura Militzer Bryant and Barry Klein link for The New Knitter's Template

First of all, I loved that the book is hard bound with the pages spiral bound inside so that the book will lay flat. This is not your ordinary pattern book. The book starts with 7 simple steps to create that perfect custom garment. All patterns are knitted bottom up with the ability to use different neckline and body styles. There is information on sizing, measurements, and it has a yarn yardage chart.
There are several worksheets to make copies and fill out. There is a Body Measurement chart and a blank pattern worksheet to record all of the information for each project.

I spent a lot of time trying to figure out the finished measurement chart without success. This is the chart that enables the knitter to determine the correct size. This book is not going to be for every knitter. I found it limiting and very confusing, but there are some very good tips in the book. There are also several lovely stitch designs with photographs of the design knitted up into swatches.

Although I found this book confusing, I would recommend checking out the “Look Inside” feature on to see if this is a style of pattern you would be able to follow.

The Confirmation by Ralph Reed link for The Confirmation
The Confirmation is about a newly elected U.S. president and his attempt to appoint a conservative to replace a recently deceased liberal in the Supreme Court. It is a realistic and often depressing tale of the vicious attacks and nasty political maneuvers that take place all over this country.

I follow the news and political scene faithflully and I love thrillers, so I thought this book would be perfect for me.  Unfortunately, althought I thought this was an interesting book, I didn’t love it. There were too many characters to keep track of, and most of them did not add to the story. There were promised storylines that went nowhere, and no one really comes out looking good in this book.

  Reading this book is like finding out how sausage is made.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Winging It: A Memoir of Caring for a Vengeful Parrot Who's determined to Kill Me by Jenny Gardiner link for Winging It 
Winging It is an entertaining story of the author's family and their experience with an ornery parrot. Anyone who thinks they want to buy a parrot should read this book FIRST. Although I never had a large bird (as many as 21 zebra finches), I understood her description of the mess that birds make and the methods that bird owners will devise to keep the mess easier to clean.

The author is very honest about her difficulties with caring for this demanding bird while at the same time dealing with difficulties within her family. She also discusses adopting birds from a rescue group.

Winging It is written in a very lighthearted way, but there are many touching moments of crisis within the family. I enjoyed her story very much.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Hell and Gone by Henry Brown link for Hell and Gone for Kindle or PC for Paperback

Hell and Gone by Henry Brown is a top-notch military thriller. The author takes great care to create characters that are believable and unique. Normally I can get lost in a book with many characters, but the characters in Hell and Gone were introduced in such a way that it was easy to follow.

This is a realistic story about a teenager recruited by a terrorist training camp for an attack, and a group of elite ex-military men sent to prevent the use of a nuclear suitcase bomb strike upon Israel.  Great writing creates scenes so well crafted that I felt like I was in a strange land in the middle of the action.
One of the parts of the story I found most interesing was the the author's descriptions of the physical effects on the men following a firefight.   I think this author's work can compare with any of the more famous thriller authors today.

Stop by the Henry Brown's website for Hell and Gone to read an excerpt and learn more about the author. I am very pleased to recommend this book to anyone that enjoys thrillers.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

BlogFest 2010 Giveaways

Congratulations to our BlogFest Giveaway Winners
All have been notified and need to respond within 48 hours or other winners will be drawn.
Readers Basket-Lisa; Faith Books-Elise; Craft Books-Esma; Knitters Books-Melissa; and Mystery Books-mrsshukr

Welcome to Bookvisions
for BlogFest 2010
There are 5 giveaways!
Enter as many giveaways as you like
using the entry form below 
The next blog and a link for the list of all blogs participating in BlogFest is located after the entry form.  Please check out some of my reviews while you are here!

1. A Reader's Basket with all sorts of goodies

Books in the giveaways are linked to my reviews.

2.Faith Fiction Books Giveaway

3. Craft Books Giveaway

4. Knitter's Giveaway

5. Mystery Giveaway

You must be a Google follower
Entries will be accepted from Sept 9-12 (midnight)2010
United States Only - No P.O. Box numbers  - Winners will be chosen by Randomizer and notified Sept 13, 2010. The winners will have 48 hours to reply with their name and mailing address. 

The next blog on the BlogFest 2010 is here:
Grace With Books
A list of all participants is here:
A Journey of Books - Track your progress through the BlogFest sites here. Anyone using this tracking site will be entered in our massive giveaway.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

BLOGFEST 2010 is Coming Soon!

BlogFest 2010 Save the Dates!  Blogfest 2010 is coming September 10-12, 2010. Save plenty of time to blog hop and win prizes.  A couple hundred blogs are participating, and we each have givaways planned. 

I will be having 5 giveaways, including a readers basket, a faith book pack, a mystery book pack, a craft book pack and a knitting book pack.   You will be able to sign up for one or all of them on the same form.  I will probably post my signup form a a day or two early to make sure everyone gets a chance.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Cruise Ship Crime, A Medical Murder Mystery by Paul Davis,M.D. link for The Cruise Ship Crime
Cruise Ship Crime, A Medical Murder Mystery is not your ordinary mystery. The story is sometimes funny, sometimes touching, but the story of Dr. Alan Mayhew is always interesting. Dr. Mayhew is a recently widowed retired cruise ship doctor. His children decide to give him a gift - a cruise - only this time as a passenger.

The mystery revolves around the death of a ship employee, Michael. Michael's friends and lovers, and a mysterious roll of film often bring up more questions than answers. The doctor and friends try to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Most of the story however is the eye-opening romantic frolicking that goes on behind the scenes of a cruise ship.

The author, Dr. Paul Davis, is writing from experience as he was a ship doctor for 10 years. Reading the book was like sitting at a table with the ship's doctor and doing some "people watching". Young and old, male and female, romance is in the air on this cruise ship. My favorite story is one I had actually heard before - only in joke form. That's OK because it still fooled me until the end and I still laughed just as much.

The website for Cruise Ship Crime

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Top-Notch Knits by Martingale & Company link for Top-Notch Knits by Martingale & Company

This is a pattern-packed book with something for everyone. Divided into sections:

Scarves shawls & wraps

Tanks tees & shells


Cardigans & Jackets

Thirty-three patterns in all! Fourteen of the patterns are labeled easy or for beginner knitters, and nineteen are for intermediate or advanced knitters.

The easy color-block shell with the cotton yarn looks pretty and comfortable. There is a lovely cashmere/silk blend lace scarf for the more advanced knitter. My favorite is the shark fin tank which I think I could hand knit the bottom border and then put on my knitting machine to finish. There is also a draped mock neck tank that would be perfect for the knitting machine or by hand. There are a few to make with bulky knits for a faster project.

There are nice large photographs of each of the finished projects. The instructions are well-written and easy to follow. The number and variety of patterns are what make this book so appealing.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Simple Stitches Knits with Textured Details by Eva Wiechmann link for Simple Stitches
Simple Stitches, Knits with Textured Details is another great knitt  ing book from Martingale & Company publishing. The book starts with the appropriate how-to directions for stitches and finishing. I don’t think I have ever had a knitting pattern book in which I like every pattern and want to make each one of them – until this book. The sweaters are simple in styling with beautiful stitch patterns to create an elegant design with the textured details.

The first section is Garter-stitch projects which contains two short sleeve tops, a cardigan, and one long sleeve pullover tunic. The Seed-stitch Projects section has one each of a short-sleeved, sleeveless, tunic, and jacket. The Ribbing and Cable Projects section contains a cardigan, a pullover, and two short-sleeved tops. The last section is Openwork Projects has a cardigan, a vest and one short-sleeved top. The patterns are easy to follow and there are detailed photographs for each design.

Skill levels for these patterns are nine easy and six intermediate, but even the easiest pattern will look like a masterpiece. I love this quote from the book:

“In our increasingly hectic world, knitting should be relaxing. The patterns in this book were designed to do just that – help you relax as you knit.”

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Alphabet Woof by Sherrie A Madia and Illustrated by Patrick Carlson link for Alphabet Woof 
Alphabet Woof by Sherrie A. Madia is a delightful storybook about Moxy, the dog, and his family. The family grandma is quite the cook and makes up some very interesting soups! I always wonder what my dog would say if he could talk, and in Alphabet Woof we find out that Moxy has plenty to say.

The story is written in rhyme and would be an ideal book to read to a small child. I think it would be a little difficult for a beginner reader, but certainly with a little help it is a perfect book to learn from. It would also be a good book for small children to point out and name items in the illustrations. In the kitchen scene there are some unusual and fun objects.
The illustrations by Patrick Carlson are colorful and entertaining. Moxy is adorable and the family members engage in activities together. I would recommend Alphabet Woof for young children, a gift book for children, pre-school or elementary school classes. A portion of the proceeds benefits the SPCA International.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Fear No Evil by Robin Caroll link For Fear No Evil
Fear No Evil is a crime/mystery novel set in Louisiana. I have not read the first book in this series, Deliver Us From Evil, but this book is perfectly fine as a standalone.

Lincoln Vailes is a likeable character as a Smokey Mountains park ranger turned Eternal Springs police officer. Lincoln’s faith is being tested as he tries to accept the Alzheimer’s disease overtaking his father, a former pastor. Jade is a new social worker helping abused woman and children, but her past comes back to haunt her in the form of gang activity.

Just locating the story in an interesting area isn’t always enough. Having grown up in Louisiana, I would have appreciated more description of the sights, scents, and feel of the area. But the mystery story is interesting and also has a light romance.

I especially appreciate that the main characters are men and women of faith, and the book contains scripture intermingled with the story. You will, however, see the end coming from five miles away!  Even so, it is an enjoyable read.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Petra - City of Stone by T. L. Higley

Amazon link to purchase Petra City of Stone
About the Book:  Young widow Cassia arrives in Petra seeking protection with her late husband's estranged family---only to discover the man she married was heir to the throne! When power-hungry Queen Hagiru immediately begins plotting to murder Cassia's son, will Cassia and a small band of believers be able to win the fierce spiritual battle that ensues?

My Review: What a wonderfully rich and descriptive book! Petra is nothing less than enthralling. T. L. Higley’s detailed description of the area of and around Petra was so vivid that I was compelled to Google some photographs. I found that her verbal illustrations were spot-on.

The writing is beautiful and the story is interesting. Cassia is a strong character as she faces a new land, new people and danger around every corner. She is not sure who to trust, but she forms strong bonds with the local Christians.There is a light romance with Julian. He has a difficult decision of whether to follow God’s leading or the woman he loves.

Queen Hagiru’s evil plans are truly frightening as she calls upon demonic powers to help her achieve her goal to present her son as King, but the awesome power of God is evident all through the book. 

This one is certain to end of in my top ten favorite books this year.  Be sure to watch the trailer below:

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Skinny on Willpower by Jim Randel link for The Skinny on Willpower

The Skinny on Willpower –how to develop self-discipline is another in The Skinny On series. I previously reviewed The Skinny on Time Management. The Skinny On books are designed to bring a power pack of information in a quick-read form. Introduced with “Give us about an hour to read about Bill and Beth’s struggles with the willpower they need to accomplish their goals”. The book delivers what it promises.

The stick figures are back, and I would have missed them if they had not! The pictures and lesson layout make this an interesting way to study this important topic. Preparation, goals setting, goals management, thought control, challenges, and focus are all covered in these simple lessons.

No matter what you are trying to accomplish, keeping your focus on track can be a difficult project. The Skinny on Willpower will give you the tools to help the reader accomplish their goals.
Book Blogger Hop

Well the blog question this week is "Do you listen to music while you read?  My answer is definitely NO.  I almost never listen to music.  I know, that is strange, but I am just not a music person.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Saturday Style – Casual Knits for Weekend Wear by Doreen L. Marquart link to purchase Saturday Style

Saturday Style contains 16 sweater patterns, with three tees, three jackets, six cardigans and four pullovers. Nice colorful large photos of the finished sweater accompany each pattern. The patterns are easy to follow, with nice text spacing to make them easy to read when the instructions are more detailed. All of the patterns are labeled easy to intermediate with most being easy. One problem I had was that least half of the finished sample sweaters were knitted with self-patterning yarn which can look nice, but in some cases made it difficult to see any patterning stitches in the designs.

I like the diagonal yoke jacket, (pictured on the cover) although I would not use the self-patterning yarn. I also liked the Drop-Shoulder Tee which is a simple round neck tee with a cap sleeve. I love knitted tees especially with cotton yarns. Several of the cardigans were a bulky look and had large buttons which I didn’t like, but there were a couple of oversized sweaters that looked like just the thing to wrap up in on a cold winter day.

Saturday Style has nice casual styles that would be good for beginners or advanced beginning knitters.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

In Harm's Way by Ridley Pearson link for In Harm's Way
About the Book: Sun Valley sheriff Walt Fleming's budding relationship with photographer Fiona Kenshaw hits a rough patch after Fiona is involved in a heroic river rescue and she attempts to duck the press. Despite her job and her laudable actions, she begs Walt to keep her photo out of the paper, avoiding him when he can't. Then Walt gets a phone call that changes everything: Lou Boldt, a police sergeant out of Seattle, calls to report that a recent murder may have a Sun Valley connection.

My Review:In Harm's Way is a good mystery/police drama with a likeable main character. Walt Fleming is a single dad trying to balance his difficult, time consuming job with the time he needs to spend with his children.

There are interesting interactions with his coworkers, including his new romantic interest, Fiona Kenshaw. I thought Fiona's emotional issues were a little over-the-top without a complete explanation, and the character of Kira got a little lost in the story. Lou Boldt from another of Pearson’s series is introduced in this book and I think it was a good addition.
The mystery conclusion fell a little short for me. Although I did not figure out the end ahead of time, it still left me unimpressed. I still found the book interesting enough that I would like to read the other Walt Fleming series books, Killer Weekend, Killer View, and Killer Summer.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Blog Hop Friday

Book Blogger Hop

Blog hopping around the book blogs.  Who is your favorite new-to-me author? I'm not sure I can answer this one because most of the books I read are new authors. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Classmate Murders by Bob Moats

Link to purchase Nook version at Barnes and Noble

The Classmate Murders is a fun and clever mystery. The story is written mostly in narration style, which works perfectly with this main character. You can almost hear the character’s voice as he tells the story and adds his own brand of humor.

Jim Richards is a regular guy, who is mature, divorced, and living with his parents to help take care of his dad. When he finds his long-ago high school classmates are being murdered, he and his friends step in to try to find the killer and protect Penny, his new-found love. I have read many books with female civilians getting caught up in a murder mystery, but this time it is a man who noses his way into the action. The cops don’t like it – until he comes up with some interesting clues. I enjoyed the variety and personality differences in the characters. It is also fun to read about people closer to my age.

It is a reminder to younger people that love can bloom at any age, but I thought the romantic antics started to get in the way of the mystery. Eventually it got back on track and came through with a satisfying wrap up to the case.  I especially enjoyed the last part of the book that sets the stage for the following books.

This is an enjoyable and distinctive kind of mystery.  Great prices on these books, too. Print versions can be purchased at and ebooks can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and other e-book sites.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Deceit by Brandilyn Collins

Joanne Weeks firmly believes that her friend was murdered by her husband, Baxter Jackson - especially when his second wife also ends up dead. The only person who may know what happened is Melissa, a former foster child, who has disappeared. Fortunately, Joanne is a skip tracer by profession and sets out to find her.

No one can create tension in words like Brandilyn Collins, and once again she has created a fast-paced and exciting suspense thriller. I had not heard of the term skip tracer before, and it was interesting to learn about that type of work. In her newest book, Deceit, there are surprises around every corner. The main character, Joanne, has to not only go against the bad guys, but also has to face those who believe that an elder of the church can do no wrong.

Matters of faith are always an important part of Brandilyn’s books. The main character has some very deep spiritual considerations she has to reflect upon because of situations that are created by her job. Of course, we don’t all have murderers in our churches, but the instances of church leaders who are not what they seem and divisions in the church by choosing sides are unfortunately very realistic.

This is another great book by one of my favorite authors. Deceit is a Zondervan publication. The author has a website here: Brandilyn Collins 
and a blog at: Forensics and Faith
Be sure to stop by and check out the mother/daughter photos at the blog - very funny! link for The Janus Stone
Book Description: As an old house in Norwich is being demolished, bones of a child are found – minus the skull. Ruth Galloway is called in to assist and she is once again working with Detective Harry Nelson.
 My Review:I wanted to read The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths because I read and reviewed her first of the Ruth Galloway books, The Crossing Places, and enjoyed it very much. I wish I could say the same about this book. In the first, the author used location descriptions that were so vivid they brought the location of Saltmarsh to life, and its story  about finding the bones of an unknown child was touching.

In the Janus Stone, those rich descriptions were missing. The mystery was ok, but it was again about finding the bones of an unknown child. There were plenty of suspects and enough twists and turns to get lost in, but it fell short for me. We learn much more about the two main characters, Ruth Galloway and Harry Nelson, but unfortunately the more I learn about Ruth, the less I like her.

One issue I have is that the main character has a hatred for Christians. In the first book there was mention of the character’s born again parents and her disdain for them, but in this book she really went all out to try to paint them as bad people because of their faith.

Does the author thinks that Christians don't purchase mystery books?  Ah well.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop

Welcome Bloghoppers! Thank you for stopping by, and I hope you enjoy looking over my reviews. What are you reading?  I am reading Ridley Pearson In Harm's Way and Petra by T. L. Higley.

Together or Separate Knitting the New Twinset by Ann McCauley link for Together or Separate

If I had to describe this knitting book in one word, it would be – elegance. The designs in Together or Separate depend on simple, but beautiful patterning for their stylish looks.

The book begins with what the author calls “Alphabet of Musings”, which is really a miscellaneous discussion of the knitter and techniques. It includes instructions on buttonholes, increases and general knitting techniques, but it also includes health issues for the knitter. “Breath and Knitting” which has breathing exercises to practice while knitting, with other sections on eyes, back and hand issues that knitters face after long episodes of knitting.

The patterns included in this book are: a striped sweater with a separate matching cowl, a very classy mock pleat and rib turtleneck and skirt, several shell/cardigan sets, (my favorite is the eyelet and ruffle cardigan and shell on p. 27), a turtleneck/ headband/vest set, a cardigan and socks set, and much more.

The skill level of the patterns is a good mix from easy to experienced, and some of the shells are a good starting point before moving on to the cardigan.

These are beautiful and timeless designs and I am pleased to have this book by Ann McCauley on my permanent book shelf.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Heart Healthy Monday on hiatis

Healthy Monday is suspended for a while, but it will be back with new tips, hints, and great recipes. 

Saturday, July 17, 2010

First Knits Projects for Beginning Knitters by Luise Roberts and Kate Haxell link for First Knits 

Learning to knit is easy if you have a friend or family member to patiently show you the stitches and help you through those first few items. Those of us who learn on our own, need a book that takes some time to explain the beginnings. First Knits starts with the equipment you need, how to hold the yarn and then a series of workshops. In the first workshop you learn the basic cast on, knit stitch, counting rows and stitches, and many more basics (14 in all). In this area of the book you will only need to knit. There are five projects just for these basic lessons, a scarf, booties, hat, backpack, and a pillow.

The book then takes the reader to the next step with knit and purl and then eight patterns using the skills learned in this workshop. Although for beginners, there are several in this section that I would like to knit. There is a really cute heart pillow with button on appliqués, a stuffed rabbit, a pom-pom scarf , matching hat, mittens, handbag, a lacy shawl, and a kimono jacket.

The last is the workshop for using several colors, with patterns for a beach bag, socks using two needles, a striped “throw” or afghan, and a baby jacket.

There are cover flaps that open up and on the underside of both the front and back are stitch guides, which I think is a nice touch.
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