Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Double Blind by Brandilyn Collins

I hope you are ready for another dose of “Seatbelt Suspense®”!  Lisa is 29, suffered several miscarriages, lost her husband and suffered a violent attack. Although she is a person of faith, her depression has become overwhelming. She has tried to rely on God, but she feels her only hope is to be the subject of a new medical experiment which will implant a chip in her brain. What starts out as a quick fix turns out to be her worst nightmare.

This was an interesting plot as the character works through matters of faith while longing for a way to rid her of that crushing depression.  With today’s technology I thought the story was believable, and I could understand the character’s desire to enter into the trial.  The author does not disappoint as she brings her trademark nail-biting suspense to this story. There are some twists in the story that were interesting and surprising.

I confess that I was a little annoyed by the character’s complaints about her mother which I thought were rather superficial criticisms. But in spite of that, I enjoyed the mother/daughter relationship and how they worked through their problems.  It was a very important part of the story.

I have read several of Brandilyn Collins books and although I wouldn't say this was my favorite, it certainly is an interesting read that I would definitely recommend .

I received a review copy of this book in return for an honest and fair review.  I provide a link to Amazon.com to purchase the book, but it is only as a courtesy and I receive no compensation if purchased.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Political Suicide by Michael Palmer

If you have read Oath of Office by Michael Palmer, you will recognize Dr. Lou Welcome as the main character in his new book, Political Suicide. The author has drifted away from his medical mysteries and into the political thriller genre. Even if you haven’t read Oath of Office, Political Suicide is absolutely a stand-alone read.
Lou’s work with doctors recovering form drug or alcohol abuse once again leads him to precarious circumstances in his attempts to help one of his patients. When Dr. Gary McHugh is about to get arrested for the murder of a congressman, he calls Lou for help. Dr. McHugh declares his innocence, but admits he was in an alcohol blackout.  What starts out as a murder mystery quickly turns into much more with an intricate thriller plot with a military angle. 

Lou’s family is again an important part of the story, and his daughter Emily is back in this story. When the doctor finds himself in dangerous circumstances, his mind always goes to thoughts of Emily. Those thoughts give him the strength to endure and survive.  His best friend, Cap, is back again and takes an important role in the story.  There are also several new characters that I suspect we will see again in another upcoming book.

There is plenty of action as the story explores rogue military actions, questionable medical research, and twists and turns along the way that were totally unexpected. This is another great book by Michael Palmer and I recommend it for anyone who likes a fast-paced thriller with interesting and strong characters..

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Pansy at the Palace A Beverly Hills Mystery by Cynthia Bardes and illustrations by Kim Weissenborn

Pansy is a shelter dog.  All the other dogs get new homes, but Pansy is always left behind until one day a little girl with curly brown hair named Avery took her home.  This little poodle can’t believe her new home, The Palace Hotel in Beverly Hills and when jewelry mysteriously disappears, Pansy helps solve the mystery.  This delightful story is told from Pansy’s own point of view.

This is a wonderful book in so many ways.  Pansy at the Palace will appeal to a wide age range, from non-readers to early school age.  The pages are thick, sturdy tear-resistant pages which are perfect for younger children, and the story is intricate enough to interest early school aged children. My two-year old granddaughter loved it.  I appreciated that the story was about shelter pets and the adoption of Pansy. 

The pen & ink and watercolor illustrations by Kim Weissenborn are outstanding. This is a large hard cover book at about 12 ¼” long and 9 ¼” wide.   The detailed illustrations fill the page beautifully and the colors are bright and appealing.

I highly recommend this book and I think it would make a perfect gift book.

I received a review copy of this book in return for an honest and fair review.  I provide a link to Amazon.com to purchase the book, but it is only as a courtesy and I receive no compensation if purchased.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Placebo by Steven James

The very emotional and heart-wrenching beginning of Placebo introduces the character of Jevin Banks. It draws the reader moment by moment into the worst day of this man’s life. This is the most unusual idea for a character that I have seen in a while. Jevin is an illusionist and escape artist who now debunks those who use those talents to defraud people. He and his small crew seek out charlatans claiming psychic type gifts and expose them – on tape for his TV show. The character of Jevin was so strong that he rather overshadowed his assistant, Charlene. I think one of the more interesting characters was Xavior with his quirky ideas, conspiracy theories, and knowledge of Jesus. I wanted to know more about him. Also in the circle is Fionna, a home schooling mom of four children who works as a computer tech expert. After the emotional beginning, Placebo became a rather technical with the neuro medical topics, but once you get through the details the pace picks up again quickly. The team finds themselves wrapped up in situations that go far beyond their original purpose. The story is gripping and the characters are interesting. The story wraps up nicely, and I look forward to the next in this series. Be prepared for the change in tense when Jevin takes over narration. I find it annoying, but that is just a personal preference. Placebo is available November 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Sirius Loss by Tim Edwards

Sirius Loss, by Tim Edwards, is a story that mixes Christianity and science fiction. Written in a style that would most interest preteen/teen aged readers, the story has an interesting plot when astronomer Jennifer Bass discovers a series of events that threaten Earth and all life. The author succeeded in making the story seem real, and I never knew until the end how it would turn out. The main characters are David Lopez, his wife Jennifer Bass, and their children Allison and Justin. The family is astonished by the discoveries, hounded by the media and challenged by the choices they make. The portrayal of this solid, loving family is a good role model for young readers. The book did not leave me hanging, but it did make me look forward to a possible sequel. I would recommend this for young readers, but I also think that older readers also can enjoy this quick read.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Lifted by Angels by Joel Miller

Lifted by angels is a serious look at angels and their relationship to God and to us.  The author takes passages from scripture and from writings of our ancient fathers to explain what angels were to the early Christians. It is sad the way our world has portrayed these beings in such a trivial way. We have come to take them for granted, or worse, some think of them as imaginary beings.

The book covers the nature and origin of Angels, the fall of Lucifer and demons, watch-care over Israel, the angels and their work under Christ, the ministering spirits, how they work our prayers, and our guides as we pass over. 

It starts a little dry, and I confess I was irritated by some of the references.  For example, he attributed one contribution to "An anonymous fifth or sixth-century thinker".  However, as I read through and envisioned those beings in my life I was able to immerse myself in the book.  I was especially comforted by the vision of an angel taking the hand of a loved one to lead them as a "Final Companion. It is a short read but an important look at how we are Lifted By Angels.

This book was received from the Booksneeze program with the promise of an honest review.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Digital Postcard

This is so cute!  I received this digital postcard from T. L. Higley author of Petra: City of Stone, and City of the Dead.  Her website is Tracy L.Higley to see all of her books.

She sent the photo from the city of Ephesus.  Behind her is the huge amphitheater that was the site of the dramatic confrontation between Paul and the worshippers of Artemis. Her next book is So Shines the Night for release next March.

The card she is holding says:
Hi Linda! Having a great time in Ephesus. Wish you were here! Tracy

I thought it was a clever way to send a message.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Ghosts of Savannah by Terrance Zepke

This little book can serve double duty.  Ghosts of Savannah is an interesting introduction to the ghostly legends of Savannah, Georgia.  It can also serve as a nice travel book for sightseeing in Savannah.

The book starts with a little information about the city and its history as well as its haunted history.  As for the ghost tales, each starts with a story or dialog set back in time at the beginning of the location’s history.  This beginning is brief, but sets the stage for the story.  Also included, when available, is the status of the building or location, the address, website, and tour information. 

While not an in-depth study of the different locations, I enjoyed reading briefly about each of the sites, especially the historic, old houses.  The history of the houses was just as interesting as the stories about the ghosts that haunt there.

There are black and white photos of the locations.  Although color photos are usually preferred, I think the black and whites help set the scene with the historic locations.

Whether you want an introduction to the haunts of Savannah or are planning a trip there, Ghost of Savannah is a good start.   

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

My Grandma & Me by Crystal Bowman

There is nothing more special than to sit down and read a book to my granddaughter.  My Grandma & Me by Crystal Bowman is already a big hit with her and she is only two years old.  Although probably more appropriate for an older child, she already brings me the book and listens when I read or sing the songs to her.

The book is beautiful with the illustrations created by Katherine Kirkland. They are colorful, but with a soft, pleasant appearance.  Although the book has a nice hard cover, I would have preferred that the pages to be of stronger paper and tear resistant for younger children.

Each double-page devotion starts with a Bible verse, then a rhyming lesson, and ends with a short prayer or song.  The songs are designed to be sung to familiar tunes. The rhyming devotions cover such topics as being afraid, saying you are sorry, caring for others, giving praise, giving thanks, and much more.  The devotions are designed for the short-attention spans of children, but bring a wealth of important truths from God’s Word in each paragraph.  Bible verses are taken from various translations such as NIrV and ICB, but some are not marked for versions. 

The author gives ideas on how to use the book including ideas for long-distance grandparents.  At the end of the book is a section called Passing Down the Faith which offers The Ten Commandments, Psalm 23, and The Lord’s Prayer, all of which I remember learning as a child.  There is also a Grandmother’s Prayer to end the book.

Tyndale House Publishers provided a review copy of this book in return only for an honest and fair review.  

Monday, October 1, 2012

Small-Space Container Gardens by Fern Richardson

As soon as the first frost hits here I am planning for next year’s plantings.  Small-Space Container Gardens has already helped me start planning for our spring porch and deck.  No matter what your available space, this book has something for you.

The first few chapters set the scene by choosing colors, containers settings, and location.  Following that there is information on attracting wildlife and growing food plants in containers.  There is a section on succulents and scents, and a chapter on privacy planting. You can learn to create a vertical garden, and battle pests. There is even a green thumb crash course.  This is just a brief summary of what is in this information packed book.

The book helps with ideas for designing not just individual pots but, an entire patio or porch.  There is something for the spacious areas for those who live in the country as well as those who have limited space in the city.  Large or small, there are planting ideas for all.

There are several projects for inexpensive pot upgrades and very unique ideas using thrift shop or found items. My favorite project was the beautiful garden table that would be so simple to create with only a few materials. 

Timber Press provided a review copy of this book in return for an honest and fair review.  
I provide a link to purchase the book, but it is only as a courtesy and I receive no compensation if purchased.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Fireproof by Alex Kava

Fireproof by Alex Kava is another in the Maggie O’Dell series.  It is a quick read with a similar format as I found in one of her previous books in this series, Damaged, with several story lines growing parallel and not intersecting.  One will be the preparation for the next book.  In this story we have the police force finding similarities in a string of fires.  Jeffery Cole is a local reporter trying to get that one story that will make him famous.

Maggie is struggling with a head injury and instead of getting medical care, she is trying to “tough it out”.  Her character is the tough and self sufficient law enforcement officer who prefers to go it alone.  We do find her opening up her life and her home to her recently discovered half-brother. Patrick.  He is a welcome addition to this series as a private firefighter. The interaction with Maggie, Patrick and Maggie’s mother was the personal touch this book needed. 

Her personal life still suffers. Her maybe, almost, but not really love interest, Benjamin Platt, is a romance that seems to be going nowhere and was a waste of time in this book. Detective Julia Racine played a larger part in this book,  becoming more of a main and the politically correct character,  taking too much focus off of  Maggie.

The story of the serial arsonist kept me guessing with twists and then end left me prepared for her next book.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Succulent Container Gardens by Debra Lee Baldwin

When I received Succulent Container Gardens by Debra Lee Baldwin I liked succulents, but now that I have read it, I absolutely love them.  This is the best container gardening book I’ve found.  I always pick out a plant and put it in the right size pot with no consideration to color and shape.  This book helps the reader make their container gardens into works of art.

Succulent Container Gardens is divided into four parts. In part one Pairing Plants with Pots, the book shows how the shape and color of the plant and pot can compliment each other.  Different pot styles are discussed, including ideas for using items around the house or thrift store finds.  For a quick crash-course there is a section, Ten Quick and Easy Plant-Pot Combos.

Part 2 is Plant Palette with a description of the different kinds of succulents and their growing needs.  Also included is information on the use of some nonsucculent plants as companion plants.

Part 3 is Creative Designs and Displays which shows plant groupings, hanging baskets, wreaths, stacked displays and even working with miniatures.  These are some of the most beautiful succulent displays I have ever seen.

Part 4 is Planting, Care, and Propagation to make sure your plants stay healthy and prolific.

The photographs throughout the book are outstanding and numerous. They inspired me to begin planning for both indoor and outdoor displays. My favorite quote of the book is in the preface: “These are the plants that allow you to be lazy.”  I highly recommend this book.

Timber Press provided a review copy of this book in return for an honest and fair review.  I provide a link to Amazon.com to purchase the book, but it is only as a courtesy and I receive no compensation if purchased.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Things your Dog Doesn’t Want you to Know by Hy Conrad and Jeff Johnson

Dear Human! What would happen if your dog could write you a letter? Things your Dog Doesn’t Want You to Know lets you in on all of those secrets your dog is thinking.  Eleven dogs, Axelrod, Bandana, Dimples, Tinkerbell, Orson, Sophie, Sarge, Charlie, Moonbeam, Gabby and Rufus T. share their dog-thoughts in the form of letters to their owner/parents. 

Some of the essays are funny, some strange, and a couple brought tears to my eyes. You can pretty much guess most of the topics such as food, toys, digging, bad habits, peeing,   - well, you know, dog stuff.  Just as a warning, I would rate this book PG because of some of the topics discussed. 

The book is visually pleasant and fun to read. The pages have different backgrounds with some looking like stationery, paper on a clipboard and some are scrapbook style.  The pages are colorful and on heavy glossy paper.  So, if you are ready for 11 courageous canines to tell all, you will love this book.

I received a review copy of this book with the understanding that I would give my honest opinion of the book.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Reason by William Sirls

The Reason by William Sirls is a very good first Christian novel by this author.  It is well written, interesting, and the characters are believable in their imperfection and complexities. This is a story of sin, faith, redemption and reconciliation. 

When a major lightening storm hits a small church strange things start happening and people take notice.  A mysterious carpenter seems to know more than he should about the residents of town.  A sick child brings a story of hardship and suffering.

The relationships and friendships described in the book were realistic, and displayed real life emotions and actions, both the good and bad.  The major characters were likeable and each of their search for redemption was interesting.

I had a small problem remembering some of the minor characters when they were only mentioned briefly here and there.  I really enjoyed the book until I reached the ending of the book.  Then I found it disappointing and unrealistic.  For me it turned the genre of the book from a drama to a fantasy. Of course I don’t want to give any spoilers here, but I can tell you from experience that no matter how much we believe, how we pray with absolute faith, it is still God’s will how the end will be.  To insinuate that any other result would be the fault of lack of faith is the wrong message.

Still, The Reason is an interesting book that will make you think.  

I received this book for review with the understanding that I would give my honest opinion.  

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Real Wolfmen by Linda S Godfrey

A fun read!

Real Wolfmen, True Encounters in Modern America is an unusual compilation of eye-witness accounts of strange bipedal doglike creatures.  It is interesting to read each of these accounts from ordinary people in ordinary situations when they come upon this strange sight.  I understand that eyewitness accounts can not always be taken at face value because of the way our minds process some information, but for so many people to describe the same phenomenon in different areas of the country is fascinating. 

Initially I thought the author was a little too flippant with her paragraph titles which made it sound as though she was ridiculing the people who trusted her by sharing these accounts with her.  I recently heard the author, Linda S. Godfrey, on a radio program and she did not sound at all as though she was doing that.  I guess it was just a little sarcastic humor in the book.  She also covers briefly what is several ideas speculating about what could account for these sightings, but it is just that – speculation. 

I enjoyed reading Real Wolfmen  as I do most books about cryptozoology.  Cryptozoology includes the study of animals not proven to exist, the existence of known animals in places where they were not expected to occur, and sightings of animals presumed to be extinct. 

 I am not sure if I received this specifically for a review or if I won it in a drawing, but my standard disclaimer applies.  I did not pay for the book, I did not get paid for a review, and I only post my honest opinion whether I like it or not.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

True Medical Detective Stories by Clifton K. Meador, M.D.

I’m a big fan of mysteries and I am also a big fan of medical stories.  True Medical Detective Stories satisfies both of those interests.  This is an interesting book containing 18 stories of patients with mysterious illnesses. When we go to the doctor, we expect that our physician  will rely on their vast knowledge after years of schooling, but in this book Dr. Meador explains how he and other doctors also have to use the skills of a detective.

Dr. Meador has been practicing and teaching medicine for more than 50 years and his wisdom, wit, skill and compassion are evident throughout the book.  He also shows how the most important part of the human body for a doctor to understand is the brain.

Normally I breeze over the prefaces and dedications, but in this book I was really touched by the nice dedication he wrote for his childhood hero, author Berton Roueché. 

Some of the stories are shocking and some will make you chuckle, but all of them will hold your interest. I enjoyed every one, and it left me eager to find Dr. Meador’s other books.

I received an advanced reader copy of True Medical Detective Stories by Clifton K. Meador, M.D. with the understanding that my review will be my honest opinion of the book.  I receive no compensation for books purchased through my link to amazon.com.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Implosion by Joel C. Rosenberg

Joel C. Rosenburg’s new book Implosion: Can America Recover From Its Economic & Spritual Challenges in Time? presents thought provoking evidence that America is in trouble.  But is America in decline?  Is it near an implosion?  The author cites political leaders, journalists and political commentators with both sides of the issue. Quotes from Keith Olbermann, Glenn Beck, Al Gore, Charles Krauthammer and quite a few more show the balanced approach he took in presenting the problems in America.

This book is a study in current affairs, a history lesson, and a Bible study as the current state of America is discussed with reference to the end times of the Bible. He takes a look at America through the lenses of economics, politics, and scripture. He answers such questions as:
What roll, if any, should Christians have in politics?
What are the signs of the last days?
What happens to America in the last days?
How does the Bible describe the Rapture?

This is a good guide for Christians to examine themselves, their church, their politicians, and open their hearts for a revival.

Thank you to Tyndale House Publishers for providing a complimentary copy of this book for review.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Doll's Eyes by David Grace

Doll’s Eyes is an intriguing story that begins when 16 year old Hannah McGuire saves the life of 13 year old JT Trainer and then disappears. JT grows up to become a homicide detective with a life-long passion to find Hannah. 

When a young girl is killed when caught in the cross-fire of an assassination plot, JT finds a web of murder, fraud, child abuse, and corruption of high officials.  This is a police procedural that gets a little bogged down with details at times, but I did enjoy the story and the underlying need to know what happened to Hannah. The characters are believable and I especially enjoyed the relationship JT had with the couple that took him in when he had no family. 

This is the second David Grace book I have reviewed.  Shooting Crows at Dawn was the first.

What You Need to Know about Bible Prophecy by Max Anders

What You Need to Know about Bible Prophecy: 12 Lessons That Can Change Your Life by Max Anders
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What You Need to Know About Bible Prophecy is a book with 12 lessons that can be taught in a Bible class, Sunday School or personal Bible Study. The book has a “who, what, where, when and why” feel to it. Why study prophecy and what is the big picture? It is also presented with differing viewpoints commonly believed by different faiths, and presented in a neutral manner. This is not a fluff study, but tends to provoke thought and discussion.

Following each chapter is a review section that I think is one of the best I have seen. Sometimes in the review I try to find an answer, but I am not sure I am correct. These review sections are divided into five subsections. The first, entitled Speed Bump!, is a question and then the answer is provided. Next is a fill in the blank of the same questions and answers. There are also discussion questions, and a section for non-believers to understand how to apply the information. The last is scripture and books for further study.

I received a copy of this book free of charge from the Booksneeze program of Thomas Nelson. It is accepted with the understanding that I will give my honest opinion of the book.

View all my reviews

The Wrong Man by David Ellis

The Wrong ManThe Wrong Man by David Ellis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

How does a lawyer defend a man that can’t or won’t defend himself? When Tom Stoller, a homeless Iraqi war vet suffering from PTSD, is accused of murder, Jason Kolarich takes on his defense. His defense is complicated by the fact that his client won’t talk and statements at the time of arrest appear to be a confession. Jason is a bulldog of a lawyer that doesn’t rest until he finds the best way to defend his client, especially when he starts to believe that Tom may be innocent.

Although The Wrong Man is book three of a series, it is very much a stand-alone story. I never felt I needed to know some back story to fully understand what was happening. It did have some problems that put me off a little. There were certain surprise twists in the story that were not much of a surprise for me. Also, the way he incorporated a girlfriend into his work life was odd. I did enjoy reading the book and I would still recommend it to those who like legal mystery/thrillers.

Disclosure: I won an ARC of this book from librarything.com.

View all my reviews

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Hour of Predators by Lane Stark

The Hour of Predators is a different twist on a murder mystery. Marcus Chao is not your typical law enforcement character, and I enjoyed his interaction with the other characters, especially with his ex.  This well-written story takes on some strange characters and situations, but the story flowed so well that I felt as though all was normal.   Set in a small town in Canada where the culture clash between the Native Indians and the whites creates a difficult case to solve.  Strange traditions, magic, and ordinary redemption brings this story to a satisfying conclusion. I look forward to another book by this author and hope another Marcus Chao story is in the works. 

The Hour of Predators is Available at Amazon 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus by Joyce Magnin

 As someone with a huge salt and pepper shaker collection how could I not love a book about a woman who shares that interest!

Harriet has reached a certain point in her life when she knows she needs to make a change.  Her husband has passed and she feels as though she has never accomplished anything.  After losing a bet, she agrees to move in with her son and daughter-in-law.  She packs up her huge salt and pepper shaker collection and sends her dog ahead to her son’s home. But Harriet decides that she will set off to travel cross country by bus – not the Greyhound kind - but local transportation whenever possible. Her main goal is to make it to the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum in Gatlinburg TN. (yes, it really exists)

Harriet Beamer Takes a Bus is a delightful story of an older woman as she discovers things she never knew about travel, people, and her own family.  She has quite a few adventures along the way and meets many interesting people.  She reaches out to people who are hurting and shares her wisdom, but also opens her heart and learns much in return from them.  

Thank you to Zondervan for the advanced reader copy of this book.  I accepted the book with the understanding that I would give my honest opinion.  I provide a link to purchase the book, but I receive no compensation for any purchase through my link.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Women’s Fibromyalgia Toolkit by Dawn A. Marcus, MD and Atul Deodhar, MD

The Women’s Fibromyalgia Toolkit contains current information including some of the changes in diagnosing fibromyalgia.  There is now a larger umbrella of symptoms to help with the diagnoses. It also includes a diagram with the original diagnosis tender points.  My personal opinion as someone who has been diagnosed with fibromyalgia is that the tender point chart gives a more accurate picture of the condition. I think the new criterion creates a muddled view of fibromyalgia.

There is a lack of organization in the book, but fortunately there is an index to help find all of the topics covered.  There is a large section with suggested exercises complete with black and white photographs.  Also included is information on nutrition, pain management drugs, symptom tracking charts, pain management through pregnancy, and what to discuss with your physician.

The Women’s Fibromyalgia Toolkit is a good reference for the newly diagnosed with fibromyalgia or for someone who suspects they may be suffering from this syndrome and would like to know more about it. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Anxious Gardener's Book of Answers by Teri Dunn Chace

If you are planting your first garden or perhaps have just had your first garden disaster, this is the book to find out where things went wrong.  As much as I would like to stick a few plants in the ground, scatter some seeds, and come back to a bountiful garden, it doesn’t work that way.  There are planting times, weeds, pests, and a variety of problems that can occur. 

The Anxious Gardener’s Book of Answers is written question and answer style with topics covering most of the important aspects of good garden care.  The book covers proper planting times and depths, soil, weed control, fertilizer, pests, different plant types, and much more.

Most topics contain information on what can go wrong, the right way to do it, and if it can be fixed if a mistake is made.  This book is more for beginners because there is just basic information on each subject, but it is certainly enough to get started and a great quick reference guide if you are not sure about something that has gone wrong.

Thank you to Timber Press for providing me with a review copy, accepted only with the understanding that I give my honest opinion of the book.  I receive no compensation for books purchased through any of my links. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Desperate Christian by Leigh Crane-Freeman

There is a problem within today's churches that in many cases causes them to go stagnant. Christians can get discouraged, unattached to the church, and desperate. Leigh Crane-Freeman helps the reader get back on the right track. She encourages the reader to focus more on who you are through Christ and less on what you do.

The book is well referenced with end notes at the end of each chapter and loaded with scripture as a guide. It is divided into two parts. In the first, she lets the Christian know that they are not alone in feeling a spiritual void from the church and explains some of the problems in today's church. In the second part there is specific information for the struggling Christian to put them on the path for spiritual growth. She answers questions such as "What does it mean to be led by the Holy Spirit?", and "What does God need from me to work through me?" There are eleven questions in all that the author answers using scripture and practical advice.

This would make a nice devotional, Bible study, or could even be used in a church setting because she does encourage anyone that has fallen away from the church to go back.

I received an electronic copy of The Desperate Christian free of charge with the understanding that I would read and give my honest opinion of book.  I receive no compensation for any books purchased through my link.

Link to purchase The Desperate Christian

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Shooting Crows at Dawn by David Grace

Jubal Dark has been a tough common-sense sheriff for 20 years and is facing down a re-election that is not going well.  In fact, he full expects to lose. Although Dark has caught his share of criminals, there is a hostile attitude in town concerning three escaped killers and an unsolved murder cold case of a young girl.

The characters are all believable.  Dark is a very likeable character as a widower and father of an adult daughter.  Holly Sharps is a crime scene tech working for Texas Ranger Buck Nevis. Buck allows her to make coffee, file, and pick up his dry cleaning.  Holly offers to help Dark solve his cold case and work for free if he will just give her a chance.

This is a pretty gritty tale and although it had a little more violence than I like, I was impressed with the quality writing and suspenseful plot.  This is a great crime drama!

I received an electronic version of Shooting Crows at Dawn for review in return for a review giving my honest opinion. I receive no compensation for any books purchased through my links.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Simple Shortcut Recipes by Gooseberry Patch

I love my Gooseberry Patch recipe books because they are of sturdy construction with attractive pages and easy to follow country-style recipes.  They are also packed with special hints and tips about foods, recipes, and décor.  I always feel like I am getting a little something extra with the Gooseberry Patch cookbooks.

Simple Shortcut Recipes is a welcome addition to my collection with more than 225 recipes that uses shortcuts to make easy dinners for busy cooks.  The first recipe I tried in this book was Busy-Day Beef with three ingredients and a Crock-pot©.  It was delicious!  I was actually very surprised at just how good it was, and it will be a new regular meal in this house. 

The categories are:
Beat-the-Clock Breakfasts
Simple Soups, Salads, & Sandwiches
Fast-Fix Sides & Breads
Dinner Express
Oh-So-Easy Entertaining
Piece-of-Cake Desserts

These are practical, easy recipes that taste good.  Some are updated versions of old favorites, and all of them have ingredients that you can find in your local food stores. That is important for those of us who live in small towns or rural areas.

I received a review copy of Simple Shortcut Recipes in return for my honest opinion of the book.  I receive no compensation for any book purchased through my link. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Called to Controversy by Ruth Rosen

The emotional introduction to this book was so shocking that I gasped when I read it.  I recently read a fiction book that made clear the Jewish author’s hatred of the Jews for Jesus, so I was intrigued and wanted to read this book all the more.

I had heard of the Jews for Jesus group over the years, but really didn’t know much about them.  It was not at all what I expected.  Back in the 1960’s and 1970’s they were an unconventional ministry that was very much like the “Jesus Movement” at the time. 
This biography of Moishe Rosen by his daughter is direct, informative, and a good overview of this unusual man.  I didn’t really find Moishe a very likeable man, but very blunt and direct.  His daughter’s honest portrait of her father is what I liked most about this biography. The change that came after he became a follower of Jesus was painful, gradual, but effective.  One instance described in the book is when he spoke out in a hurtful manner. It took a while, but he did apologize and asked for forgiveness.  I think the personality of Moishe must have made this very difficult. 

Moishe’s testimony of salvation is interesting and his story of the break with his family is heartbreaking.  The book shows how God used Moishe’s daughter’s illness to overcome prejudice. 

Called to Controversy is a beautiful testimony to a courageous man’s life. The book ends with a letter Moishe wrote to be published when he died.

I received a copy of this book from the Booksneeze program with the understanding only that I would give my honest opinion.  I receive no compensation for any book sold through my links.

Healthy Hair Rehab Now by Jacqueline Tarrant

If you have ever had a question about hair health, growth, breakage, thining, or need an answer to a hair problem, Healthy Hair Rehab Now by “Hair-ologist” Jacqueline Tarrant is just what you need.  I am not sure what I expected, but I found this book so interesting that I couldn’t put it down! 

I think I expected more product information, but I was pleasantly surprised that instead the author explains how environment, health, and food cause changes in our hair.  There is information on all types of hair types and all age groups. 

I don’t think I have ever read so much detail and helpful information about hair.  I have thigh-length hair so I have experienced many of the problem situations in this book. Jacqueline goes over all of the problems that can cause problems with hair.  Diet, medications, general health, and a variety of other factors can cause hair breakage, loss and problems. 

I thought I already knew a lot about hair, but I was wrong.  I learned so much from Healthy Hair Rehab Now! 

I received a review copy of Healthy Hair Rehab Now with the understanding that I would give my honest opinion of the book.  I received no compensation for books purchased through my link.  

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Art of Garden Photography by Ian Adams

Link to purchase from Timber Press
This book is a little older published in 2005, but is still very current. After conducting a series of garden photography workshops, Ian Adams realized that a book specific to garden photography that included digital camera information was needed.  There is information about both film and digital equipment along with the author’s personal experience of his transition from film to digital.  The photographs in the book are beautiful and printed on glossy paper, but most were taken with film and not digital.  I would have liked a more balanced variety.

I enjoy seeing “experiments” that the photographer/author provided when he tried different exposures or filters for interesting outcomes.  There are detailed sections on composure, how to choose a viewpoint, and the common mistakes made by inexperience photographers with close-ups. I think the most valuable information for me was how and what to include in my pictures that was illustrated in his photographs.

I have always wanted to capture some of the beauty in my own garden and this is just what I need to get started.   Not just for the summer bounty, all four seasons are covered with beautiful photos of each. The Art of Garden Photography has earned a space on my permanent bookshelf.

Thank you to Timber Press for the review copy of this book.  I receive no compensation for the book's purchase from my link. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Redemption Day by Steve O'Brien

Home-grown terrorists are a real and constant threat in the United States. Redemption Day by Steve O’Brien brings to life the story of the kidnapping of a Supreme Court justice.  Nick James is a Federal terrorism analyst who finds himself out of work and being drawn into the crime - possibly drawn in too far.  Nick has to solve the kidnapping while at the same time he is being framed for murder.  Top on his list of suspects is the Posse Comitatus, a militia-style organization who believe that the government has gone too far.

After the initial tense kidnapping scene, the story hits the skids while the author has to backtrack with information on all of the characters involved.  Possibly there was too much information, and the story becomes rather choppy. However, as the story picks up again so does the suspense.  There is a good balance between dialog and narration, and the characters were OK, but I didn’t feel any real connection to them. I also didn’t find the story believable, but sometimes you just have to get lost in the story and not worry about whether it is logical or not. There is plenty of action, adventure, torture scenes, and surprises that kept me guessing.   Link to purchase Redemption Day 

I received a copy of Redemption Day only with the understanding that I would give my honest opinion. I receive no compensation if the book is purchased through my link.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Macro Photography for Gardeners and Nature Lovers by Alan L. Detrick

With one of the longest titles I have reviewed, I have a copy of Alan L. Detrick’s Macro Photography for Gardeners and Nature Lovers, The Essential Guide to Digital Techniques. The book is as beautiful as it is informative.  Macro Photography is printed on glossy paper and filled with striking pictures of flora and fauna. 

Mr. Detrick clarifies the difference between close-up photos and macro photography, and his instructions cover many different aspects of creating that perfect shot.   Photography is not an inexpensive hobby.  The vast selection of lenses and equipment is staggering.  To do macro photography properly you need quite a bit of equipment and he gives a brief description of each. He also discusses how to travel with your gear. 

While this may be overwhelming for the casual photographer, for a dedicated hobbyist the information is essential.  Even if you don’t have all the equipment there is much to learn from this book.  The photographs in the book are both beautiful and interesting.  I especially appreciated that each description contains the type of camera used, lens and exposure information and many contain an explanation of why he shot it as he did.  He shows the way he experimented with changing light in some of the shots. He also writes about possible problems with a photograph and how he adjusts to compensate.

There is a good amount of information on proper exposure, depth of field, using the histogram, bracketing, focus, composition, background and movement.  At the back of the book there is additional information on recommended reading, associations, workshops, websites and a glossary that I found especially useful.  Macro Photography is a beautiful display book, but also so much more.

I received a review copy of Macro Photography free of charge in return for an honest review.  I receive no compensation for books purchased through this site. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Not This Time by Vicki Hinze

I have mixed feelings on Vicki Hinze's new book, Not This Time.  Vicki is a very good writer of Christian fiction, but I think this one has a problem with too much background information at the beginning.  The first few chapters were nearly impossible to follow even though I had read one of the previous books in this series. I wish I had read the second before this one.  Multiple new people were introduced on every page, and although the author tried very hard to explain each character, I was totally lost.  I actually stopped and started the book over.  It didn't help because I was still lost and rather frustrated by it.  I decided to just forget the first part and just plow through, and it turned out to be a good story.

Not This Time is a more of a thriller rather than a mystery with characters that are government agents chasing an international criminal ring.  The characters were varied and interesting.  The topics of faith, hope, and forgiveness were evident throughout the book.  One character struggles with her criminal behavior and seeks forgiveness.  This was a wonderful addition to this book to show God’s love and forgiveness for the worst of the worst. 

I don’t normally read romantic novels, but I have to say that I enjoyed the romance that developed between Beth and Joe.  Beth was hurt and humiliated by a previous love and trusting “ladies man” Joe was difficult.  Their relationship had to progress slowly.  Joe, too, had past issues, and he gradually opened up about his Cajun upbringing.

I enjoyed the book, but I would recommend reading the first two in the Crossroads Crisis Center series before this one or be prepared to make a flow-chart to keep track of characters!

I was provided a review copy of Not This Time by Vicki Hinze in return for an honest review.  

Amazon.com link to purchase Not This Time (I receive no compensation if the book is purchased through this link.)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Downfall by Terri Blackstock

Emily is a former drug user who caused much trouble and danger for her family.  She is now clean and sober and attending college when trouble seems to find her again. Just when things seem to be going well, her life starts spiraling out of control. 

This is a good mystery with twists that kept me guessing until the end.  The theme of trust runs throughout this book as evidence shows up that makes Emily look bad.  Her family loves her, but can’t help but wonder if she has slipped back into addiction.

The family dynamics were outstanding as we see a family in recovery.  Her brother and mother also suffered from Emily’s past, but they try to put it all behind them and trust her again.

The characters are realistic, not perfect people, but individuals trying to do the right thing.  At first I was a little put-off by Emily’s impulsiveness and the way she jumped into some situations without thinking, but I realized how realistic that behavior is with an addictive personality.  It was that impulsiveness that continued to cause problems for her. 

While I haven’t read all of Terri Blackstock’s books, I have read quite a few and have never been disappointed. I definitely recommend Downfall for those who love a good, fast-paced, mystery.

Amazon.com link to purchase Downfall (I receive no compensation for purchase).

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Coming Revolution by Dr. Richard G. Lee

 Many call the United States a Christian nation, while others argue against this premise.  Dr. Lee brings the history of the founding of the United States to light as he explains just what roll Christians had in the settlement of our country.   We have watched our country slip further and further into debt, immorality has become the norm, and the loss of individual liberty grows daily.  Average citizens are now rising up and taking action.   Not a revolution of guns and war, but with responsible political action. 

The Coming Revolution is more than just a history lesson.  It is a call to action with specific positive approaches we can take to put our country back on the right path.  The author doesn’t believe that it is too late to stop the downslide of America.  History is not my usual genre, but the author explained just enough to hold my interest and explain his points.  I liked that he talks about specific steps we can take to make a difference in a positive way and without violence. Even if we can’t do everything he lists, there are some things that we can all do.

Dr. Lee is a pastor and Christian speaker.  His book represents the Christian perspective of how much it should mean to us to be an American and to possess not just the American spirit, but a personal spirit of independence.  His outlook is one of optimism and not doom and gloom. The book contains pages of footnotes and is indexed for quick reference. 

Note:  I received an advanced reader copy of The Coming Revolution by Dr. Richard G. Lee in exchange for an honest review.

Amazon.com link  to purchase (I receive no compensation if you purchase through this link.)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Goose that Laid the Golden Egg by Doug Bremner

Accutane was a drug that was prescribed for the treatment of severe acne.  There were, however, a significant number of teens that committed suicide while on the drug, including the son of Senator Bart Stupak.  The Goose that Laid the Golden Egg looks at the attitude of drug company, Hoffman-La Roche, and their cover-up of the side effects of Accutane.  The author, Doug Bremner, was asked to research the possible link between Accutane and suicides and was also involved in presenting his findings to the courts.  This was an interesting and frightening look at the length that drug companies will go to prevent the loss of dollars in spite of the loss of lives.

The book also looks at the author’s family history and genealogy.  As a genealogist, I found it interesting to read about his search for family members, but I had trouble keeping his extended family straight.  I have trouble keeping my own in order, so trying to remember who is who for another family was impossible. Still, it had good tips and links for others researching their family members.  The author also included information about his personal family tragedies and emotional issues.   

It was difficult at times to take seriously a book about the science of drugs and the tragedy of teen suicide when the author is also talking about “Indigo children” and other new-age non-scientific subjects. 

I think that the book traveled too much from its original purpose. It had an important message about the drug companies, but that aspect of the story did not give me a satisfying resolution.  I wanted to know more about the drug, its continued availability, and the legal ramifications surrounding Hoffman-La Roche. That said, I did find the book interesting, and I think it has an important warning we should all heed when we take what we assume is a safe prescribed drug.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Medical Error by Richard L. Mabry, M.D.

I grabbed this e-book when it was free on BarnesandNoble.com.  I didn’t read it right away, but when I finally had time I really enjoyed this inspirational medical based story.  There were a few problems with word spacing and dropped letters, but I don’t know if it was book editing or e-book formatting problems.  It didn’t bother me, but I know some find it annoying.

The story is about a female doctor whose life is spiraling out of control when her identity is stolen.   She is a woman of faith and therefore her decisions and daily life reflect that faith.  In fact, at one point I was disappointed in a decision she made only to realize that her decision was the morally correct one. What was I thinking!  The story is not “preachy”, but just part of her life. 

I thought it was a good story and will definitely read more by this author.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Oath of Office by Michael Palmer & Giveaway

Amazon.com link to pre-order Oath of Office Pre-order NYT best-selling Michael Palmer’s 17th medical/ political thriller OATH OF OFFICE and support The Food Project, a great organization in Eastern Massachusetts supporting youth through sustainable agriculture. Learn more about the initiative and how to get involved:  http://on.fb.me/zya842

Michael Palmer is the author of sixteen medical mystery/suspense novels.  It is no secret that he has been one of my favorite authors for years, and Oath of Office is another outstanding book by this author. 

The character of Dr. Lou Welcome brings us an area of medicine that patients do not like to think about.  He is a medical doctor that has fought his way back from addiction and is now helping other troubled doctors.  Unexpectedly, one of his doctors suddenly goes on a shooting spree. He kills patients, another doctor, and his staff before killing himself.  Lou was overseeing this doctor’s progress and is held responsible for the carnage.  But things are strange all over the small town of Kings Ridge, and Lou finds several cases of individuals behaving out of character.  He must solve the mystery to keep his position as counselor to his troubled colleagues. There is a political connection (non-partisan) in the story that leads all the way to the First Lady and President. 

I always enjoy the medical foundation to the story, and with the suspense and great writing, this book was a pleasure to read. Each of the main characters of the book is unique. Lou Welcome was likeable, and I enjoyed the relationship he had with his father, daughter and even his ex-wife Renee.  He and Renee still had a respect and fondness for each other.  Of course, there is action and adventure when Dr. Welcome finds criminal activity going on where you least expect it. There is a perfect balance of dialog and narration, and I highly recommend Oath of Office.

Congratulations!  The winner of Oath of Office has been chosen by Randomizer.org and has been notified.  The winner has 48 hours to send her mailing address, or another winner will be chosen.
Michael Palmer has offered a reader copy of Oath of Office for one reader of Bookvisions.  
1. US Only and no P.O. Boxes
2. Contest will end February 10, 2012 at Midnight Central time.
3. One winner will be chosen and will have 48 hours to send me your mailing address. 
4.  Leave a message with your email address and let me know of any other Michael Palmer books you have read.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Shear Murder by Nancy J. Cohen

Shear Murder is a fun mystery/romance. There is quite a bit of detailed wedding information because the character, Marla, is not only a bridesmaid in a wedding, but also planning her own wedding.

Imagine finding a dead body under the wedding cake table! Suspects abound in this story, and Marla is well know by local police as someone who likes to get involved.  I think that there was maybe a little too much information gained by eavesdropping, but Marla is eager to solve the crime.

I was a little worried when I saw that the book contained just over two pages of a Cast of Characters with the names and brief bio of everyone in the book (including pets!), but keeping track of everyone was not a problem even without the list.

This is the tenth in the “Bad Hair Day” mystery series, but it is very much a stand alone. This was the first in the series that I read and I never felt like I didn’t know something that had happened in the past. I am not sure if this is the last in the series, but if it is, fans will be pleased by the ending in this book.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Gone to Ground by Brandilyn Collins

Gone to Ground is a serial killer murder mystery told from the perspective of three women.  Each of these women believes they know who committed the murders, and all have something to lose by coming forward.  Amaryllis, Mississippi is not the type of town where murders happen, but now a serial killer has the whole town on edge.  Brandilyn Collins takes us into the lives of these three women as they try to do the right thing.

You are first introduced to Cherrie Mae, the senior of the three ladies possessing the grace and wisdom of a mature Christian. She cleans houses and finds information that leads her to think that one of her employers is the killer.  There is a dialect used for her narration, but it is not overdone and doesn’t interfere with the flow of the story. Tully, a young pregnant woman, believes that her abusive husband may be the murderer. Deena, a beauty shop owner, is afraid her special needs brother may be involved. Woven through the book is the story being retold as a newspaper article by Trent, a reporter.  All of the characters are likeable and realistic.

Although the chapters change the point of view, you will never be lost in this chilling tale of murder.  I appreciated the Brandilyn Collins’ careful development of each character and clear “voice” for each. Of course, it also helps that the chapters are labeled with the name of the viewpoint!  The story brings the three women together so that their lives intertwine. Once again Brandilyn Collins brings suspense, mystery, and faith to her characters in a special way.  Of her books I have read, I think this is the best so far.  

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Gone to Ground by Brandilyn Collins

I have a great new book, and I will be posting my review this week.  For now, I just want to give you a little information about the book and how Brandilyn Collins researched it.  I enjoyed Gone to Ground very much.  Scroll down for the book trailer.

About Brandilyn Collins -Author of Gone to Ground
Brandilyn Collins is a best-selling novelist known for her trademark
Seatbelt Suspense®. These harrowing crime thrillers have earned her the tagline, Don't forget to breathe . . .®, and have made her one of the most well-known figures in the mystery/suspense literary genre.

Following the steps of a mysterious serial killer, Brandilyn's latest novel, Gone to Ground (March 2012, B&H Fiction, $14.99, Trade Paper), takes readers to the fictional Southern town of Amaryllis, Mississippi. To research this book—her first set in the South—Brandilyn ventured to Jasper County, Mississippi. One of her biggest challenges lay in learning the accent well enough to recreate it in dialect, especially for the black character.

“I need to speak with an African American woman who’s at least sixty,” Brandilyn told the clerk. She was introduced to Cherrie Mae Gammage, whose first and middle names were so perfect for the character, Brandilyn asked for permission to use them. Cherrie Mae agreed, and later lent her musical Southern accent to the book trailer for Gone to Ground. Auditions for the other two characters’ voices were eventually held in Bay Springs, and the city clerk who introduced Brandilyn to Cherrie Mae became the voice for thirty-five-year-old Deena.

Brandilyn's first book, A Question of Innocence, was a true crime published by Avon in 1995. Its promotion landed her on numerous local and national TV/radio spots, including daytime talk shows. A speaker on the writing craft, Brandilyn is also known for her distinctive book on fiction-writing techniques, Getting Into character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors (John Wiley & Sons). The Writer magazine named Getting into Character one of the best books on writing published in 2002.

BRANDILYN COLLINS is the bestselling author of 23 novels. Awards for her work include the Carol Award (three times), Inspirational Readers' Choice, and Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice. When she's not writing, Brandilyn can be found teaching creative fiction at writers' conferences. She and her family divide their time between homes in the California Bay Area and northern Idaho. For more information, please visit

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Nearing Home by Billy Graham

Rev Billy Graham is one of the most well known and respected Christian pastors.  I am so happy that he chose to write this book about how to live an honorable and useful life as we grow older.  There is much useful information for those of any age, but especially those who are starting to feel the restrictions of age.  Rev. Graham shows how God used men and women from the Bible when they were in their later years of life, and, of course, how He can still use us today. 

Although he writes about failing strength, health issues, retirement, loss, and family decisions, this is never a depressing book.  He also writes about the “Foundation that Lasts”, influencing those around us by our attitude and behavior, and our home in heaven, and I felt only his upbeat optimism for his heavenly future.

This is a wonderful book not only for seniors, but for every age.  As a matter of fact, young adults will benefit from this book because Rev. Graham gives great insight into the need for preparing for the future.  This is an easy book to read and I appreciated his message.  Growing older is not easy and can easily be depressing if we focus on what we can’t do instead of what we can. Rev. Graham has accomplished so much for the cause of Christ, but he is always humble in his demeanor and writing.

I received this book for review from the Thomas Nelson Booksneeze program.
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