Monday, May 30, 2011

WINNER = Secrets of the Vine

Congrats to Dana on her being selected as the winner using Random.org of the book Secrets of the vine for Women!
Thanks to my 3 participants in the giveaway :) You all deserve a prize!
Be looking for more giveaways soon as well as some great books I will be reviewing
Melanie

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Plain Proposal- Beth Wiseman


18 year old Miriam is planning to be baptized and continue in her Amish Faith in Lancaster County surrounded by her loving family and friends. Miriam's English cousin Shelby is sent away from her home in TX to live with Miriam and her family. Hoping the time away from her troubled friends and backlash of her parents divorse will give Shelby her a break. Shelby feels abandoned and unloved by all, especially God. Miriam and Shelby become like sisters sharing in their dreams for the future. Miriam secretly is in love with Saul, a 'bad boy' of the Amish who is more than likely leaving the faith. Miriam's mother does all she can to prevent Miriam from falling for Saul, feeling Shelby is encouraging the union.
As feelings and truths come out in the open the story unveils true character and family bonds grounded in God. The characters grow and develop while giving us a glimpse into the Amish life.

A darling love story that I wouldn't hesitate for a teen or young girl to read as well as adults who are smitten with the Amish love stories. Very typical in the Amish stories I have read, nothing really unique or stands out as a "WOW" in the novel. It is a nice summer reading, light and makes you smile.
This was the 5th in the series of the Daughter of the Promise. I haven't read the previous ones and this book was able to stand on it's own.
I received this book as a Goodreads first read.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Dopple Ganger the Great Mogul Diamond- G.P. Taylor


The Dopple Ganger crew is back in their 3rd adventure by G.P. Taylor. No more “School for the Wayward Children” for them. The twins, Sadie and Saskia now live with Muzz Elliott the famous mystery writer. Erik lives with Dorcas Potts, the investigator’s Uncle Gervez. Muzz gets a phone call that the kids over hear and realize that Muzz is being blackmailed. The twins and Muzz quickly take a trip to the south of France first by train, then boat and then a Pullman. There they are to meet with the blackmailers. As they are travelling Saskia who is reading Muzz’z novel realizes that much of what is happening is coming straight out of the novel “Murder Train”!. They are drugged through French Cocoa, Sadie is kidnapped and a suspicious Max Taranis lurks nearby.
Meanwhile, Dorcas and Erik are hot on the twins trail as they zoom through the mountainside in Dorcas’ very fast Bugatti (car). Of course the bad guys are just around the corner to thwart any rescue attempt by Dorcas and Erik.
More chaos ensues once the team is back together in Cannes. The blackmailers want them to steal the Great Mogul Diamond up for auction in return for Sadie, similar to Muzz’s novel “Another Day, Another Diamond”.
Fast paced book with an insane amount of adventure, just what kids like. Font variations, comic pages, actual photographs, Black background pages with white print, and illustrations make this book very unique in it’s presentation. It goes along great with the fast paced nature of the adventures, and the ‘darkness’ of the bad guys. I would say this book is geared for tweens as it is easy to get confused with the characters and places in the book as it is so fast paced. Reluctant readers will find it fascinating.
I do see G.P. Taylors attempt at incorporating a spiritual sense to the novel by having an angel named Madame Raphael who comforts the girls when they are scared, and a man in a pinstriped suit that represents Jesus. They feel very out of place in the novel. I think it would flow much more smoothly without these characters. I think the unity of the new families and friendships are a stronger theme to focus on. If the author is going to have a spiritual essence to the book then let them seek comfort in the One True God, not in some strange character who appears in and out of the story

Friday, May 27, 2011

Prince Etcheon and the Secret of the Ancient- Joann Arnold


Two year old Etcheon was safely whisked away as a child by Granna Fela to another world, protecting him from the evil ones who wanted to kill him. Granna Fela passes on and Etcheon is brought into the life that was meant for him.. Prince Etcheon the younger.
His training begins with a wizard’s daughter named Taraini. Etcheon is taught by 2 Danes with whom he can communicate. They teach him to distinguish scents and to use scent to his advantage. A panther then teaches him speed and agility and how to discern the element of surprise. An owl helps Etcheon to develop his mind. A 2 headed lamb teaches him to see discern different sides of a discussion. These, along with an eagle, and annoying bird, and the Ancient one all train Etcheon for his travel to another time and place. Always beside him his faithful horse Walkelin.
His basic mission is to find the hidden kingdom of Etcheon and rescue the King and Queen, his mother and father whom he hasn’t seen since he was 2 years old. Along the way he has the comfort of his friends, the wisdom of the Ancient, and his determination to reach his goal despite the countless attempts of the enemy.
We are transported to very descriptive and beautiful places throughout the story. Characters are well developed and related to as they share in Prince Etcheon’s journey. Reading this novel was like watching a movie in your mind, with the beauty and uniqueness of the characters and places. Interesting names and places kept the action moving and growing until the very end. This was not a ‘skim it’ type of novel, drawing the reader in from the beginning and making you not want to miss a word of it.
I had a hard time getting through this book.. every time I went to read it, my 15 year old was reading it!! He is an avid reader of this type of genre and he said the book was Fantastic!
Fantasy is not my typical genre, but after Prince Etcheon and the Secret of the Ancient, I may be looking into more of them, definitely more of Joann Arnold’s future books.
I was given a copy of this book by the author, which has in no way affected my opinion of the book.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Money Secrets of the Amish- Lorilee Craker


Money Secrets of the Amish takes Lorilee Craker on a mission to find the secrets to the Amish surviving the economic crisis in a way us ‘Englishers’ were unable to. “Thrift, common sense, wise money management, delayed gratification, etc. are taught from the time (they) are knee-high to a grasshopper”, Lorilee writes. She has a difficult time getting definite answers from those she interviews on the ways that they save money. Being humble, they are not boastful of their ways, or maybe as aware since they were taught at such a young age. Rather she got many of the suggestions from her observations of their way of life.
One major difference is that they do not use credit cards, and save for the things they need, no matter how long that saving may take. They do not indulge in things of the world as we tend to do. Their large gardens, raising animals, and many talents and skills lend themselves to bartering with each other, and being self-sufficient in many ways. Lorilee hit on the Amish being very much into shopping resale, and thrift stores, of recycling things they have for another purpose and reusing items until they are totally worn out. The Amish are humble in their gift giving and their ‘wants’ of things new and worldly.
I didn’t actually find this book to be much different than others on saving money and thrift. Not much different than Dave Ramsey’s and some of the financial gurus on how a Christian should live and save money. The basic message I find is that the less worldly you are, and the more focused on things not of this world, the less money you will spend. I wasn’t blown away with the suggestions being a farm wife myself, many of them we already take into practice.
To remember also, without the use of electricity the Amish are spending much less on things we find to be common utilities; Car insurance, gasoline, electric bill, water bill, mortgages, home insurance, internet service, cable, phone service, cell phone, and etc. Not even to add in the things we think we want and don’t need to fit in with our society today. The subtitle of the book is “Finding True Abundance in Simplicity, Sharing, and Saving”. I think that the lifestyle of the Amish gives us much to glean from in these areas. I think us as Englishers can apply much of their humbleness and satisfaction in the simple things to our lives and get similar results.

I received this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers and in no way has that influenced my review of this book.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Book Giveaway and Review.. Secrets of the Vine for Women

Find out how to win this copy following my review...

Why a “Secrets of the Vine for Women” when there already was a secrets of the vine? Darlene Marie writes “Whenever I teach on this subject, women consistently express a desire to go deeper. They want to learn more about how Jesus’ vineyard conversation applies to their experiences as women in today’s world. In short, they want to continue the conversation”. Isn’t that so true of women !

John 15 tells us the Jesus is the vine, God the vinedresser, and we as Christ followers are the branches.
We are to bear fruit or do ‘good work’ as God has designed us to do. There are degrees of fruit bearing, or levels of good work.

Level 1… no fruit
Level 2… fruit
Level 3… more fruit
Level 4… much fruit

We need to be pruned by God just as the grape vines are pruned to bear more fruit. Darlene Marie shares examples of life stories from women who were being pruned and how that developed more fruit.
God invites us to abide in Him, as that is the only way to produce the much fruit. We abide in Him by spending time with Him, reading the Bible, prayer, and keeping a spiritual journal.

The book follows beautifully with the example of the grape vines and harvest season, weaving the visual of the grape growing and the abundance of fruit. Excerpts from “Secrets of the Vine Bible Study” as well as a study guide, lend themselves well to an individual study time or as a group setting on studying this passage in John.

"I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review"

I would love to pass this review copy on to one of the readers as it is such a nice easy read, and so fruitful in capturing our relationship to God the Father and Jesus. Leave a comment below along with your email address and I will use Random.org to select a winner on May 30th, Memorial Day!!

Shattered- Melody Carlson


I was always an avid reader as a teenager and as a new blogger I thought it would be fun to read some of the teen fictions books of the day. Shattered by Melody Carlson had me engaged from the first chapter, forgetting that I was even reading a ‘teen’ fiction book. Tears are streaming down my face by chapter 7 and again later in the book.
An intense story about Cleo age 17, and her over-protective mother “Helicopter Mom” who is constantly hovering over Cleo’s life. Cleo’s best friend Lola is moving and Cleo wants to make her last evening in town memorable by attending a concert in the city nearby. Lola’s Mom is busy packing, Cleo’s Dad is out of town, and Cleo’s Mom has a party to attend. Melody Carlson leads us through the repercussions of Cleo’s willful disobedience. The traumatic turn of events brings Cleo to a guilt ridden existence that she longs to escape through pain killers and drugs. Through the love and care of her Aunt Kellie, and God, Cleo is able to see a future without guilt, and a chance at forgiveness.
An intense story filled with pain and tears, but through it all we see peeks of God in His goodness, and the relationship He has with His children if they turn to Him. The characters were well defined and interesting, and the Christian influence was not overwhelming or preachy.
A very enjoyable read, and I think I may be hooked back on teen fiction as an adult!


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NavPress Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Branded Sharing Jesus with a Consumer Culture- Tim Sinclair


We are a consumer culture and often times try to ‘sell’ Jesus to our friends and family by wearing Jesus Saves t-shirts, bumper stickers, and hats. We put snippets on FB and our blog about Jesus and the Bible. We are missing out on the relationships with people, and showing them how we are ‘personally branded’ by Jesus.

Tim Sinclair writes “Branding Jesus (and becoming branded by Him ourselves) will require rethinking the way evangelism has always been done. It will require challenging the status quo. It will require questioning the effectiveness of our current methods. It will require regaining our passion, reenergizing our base, and rebuilding our personal outreach strategies from the ground up”. Basically we can’t continue doing things the same ways we have been doing them for years. The culture is changing and the people are exploring options other than Jesus. Many think that they don’t need Jesus and that He has nothing to offer them.

We as Christians don’t always “get a specific culture or worldview.” And to understand them better and effectively reach them we need to be prepared to speak to their ‘reality’.
We can’t market something that people don’t want. We can’t push Jesus on those who don’t see a need for Him. We need to be changed and renewed ourselves, being honest in our relationship with Him, the good yes, but also that the life of a Christian isn’t about perfection, nor is it without pain.
Branded was a good analogy of the practice of marketing in our culture and how we present Jesus in a similar fashion. Tim Sinclair’s theme of marketing worked well through the book, and put into easy language a theme we have heard often. Go out and meet people where they are at.

Tim Sinclair brainstormed some ideas on a ‘white board’ in one chapter, and though some sounded interesting there were others I was like ‘what!’ toward. Take them with a grain of salt, take the ones you are comfortable with and see if you can impact our culture today by showing how you are branded with Jesus.

I received a free copy of this book from Litfuse.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Reading Time...

I can't imagine why I haven't had much time to read this week. With homeschooling 6 children at the end of the school year, trying to get the garden planted, working on the farm, micromanaging siblings, character building with them, weeding, grocery shopping and others.. Really
The weekend is here and there is still weeding, planting, goat care, cleaning and planning to do but I have this great selection of reading materials to finish to share with you all.. A sneak peak at what I have on my bookshelf to delve into this weekend..

Monday, May 16, 2011

Hungry for God- Margaret Feinberg



Hungry for God by Margaret Feinberg is a book not on how to become a Christian but on how to Be one.
The book takes the reader through the steps of hearing God, to communicating with him, and drawing on that hunger and stirring for more of Him.
God first speaks in a whisper, “The image of a whisper speaks to the posture of our relationship with God. Whispering is ineffective if the person we’re trying to communicate with is on the other side of the room. God doesn’t desire a long-distance relationship, but an intimate one” pg 27
God calls us then shapes us through conviction, spiritual, discovery, prayer, guidance and love. “God will stir the hunger to know Him and love Him more” pg 68
He wants us to ready ourselves for hearing from Him through scripture, liturgy, our thoughts and visions. Journaling can be a spiritual use of communicating with God as you share your dreams and circumstances. God speaks through our conscience and the counsel of others as well.
This is a great book for new believers in how to draw near to God and hear Him. It would also make a great book study book for those searching for a closer connection and hunger for God. There are reflection and discussion questions included for a small group or book club setting.
The one thing I did not like with the book was the cover. At first site it appears to be a biography of Margaret Feinberg rather than a study on the hunger for God. I would recommend that authors not plaster their own likeness on the front of a book that is focusing on knowing God better, it seems prideful to me. The content is great if you can get past the cover.

I received a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review from Zondervan.

How to Be God's Little Princess- Sheila Walsh



I just love Sheila Walsh and her GiGi series of picture books and dvd's. My daughter just loves to play dress up and princess. When a friend gave me this book to borrow I was sure it would be a great time with my daughter and I to bond and be princesslike.

The subtitle to the book is Royal tips for manners, etiquette, and true beauty. Chapters discuss how to dress, take care of your health, how to be a true friend, how to dine with manners, how to host a party and others. Cute pictures and interactive quizzes and activities. My 6 year old loved the pictures and the concept of becoming like a princess.

It was written a bit old for her, and I am wondering if a girl age 8 or 9 who may be more into having a 'Rockin Royal Party' or 'Being media wise' may find the book too childish. Much of the book did not apply to the younger set who are still living in the fantasy of being a princess, the same set targeted in the GiGi series. I think the ones that would understand and can apply it, won't want to read it. I think it should be simplified and it would be much better.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Vicious Cycle- Terri Blackstock




Vicious Cycle is the 2nd book in the Intervention Novel series by Terri Blackstock. I have not read the first bok in the series purposely to see if this book would be able to stand alone. There were a few references to the first novel, Intervention, but it didn't confuse this story, only made me want to read Intervention next.
Emily has been in a Christian rehab for one year, on the verge of graduating and coming back into the world. She has befriended a 15 year old pregnant girl Jordan in rehab who runs away from the center in search of her next 'hit'. She returns home and has her baby under the crazed eye of her druggie mother and stepbrother. Wanting money for their next drug high they unknown to Jordan are selling her baby for top dollar. When Jordan hears of this she hides the baby and points a finger at Emily's brother Lance, and saying he kidnapped the child.
The novel works through the repercussions of Jordan's lie, and the addiction to Meth and it's evil pull.
It was interesting that Terri Blackstock was able to present the life of a drug addict, the physical and emotional turmoil that comes with it in a way that the reader is able to understand. She showed Emily on the recovery end and her struggles and then was also able to show addicts who refused help, and where it led them. She was able to show how the difference between the two was one was willing to let God be in charge, where the other let the drugs rule.
Great Christian suspense novel.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Zondervan in order to review it.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Until Forever- Darlene Shortridge


Addiction, Manipulation, Control, Tragedy, Depression, Salvation, Redemption, Forgiveness.. in just one book. Darlene Shortridge's first novel is superb in so many facets. Accuracy in depicting characters with addictions, struggles, fears, as well as those on the other side with happiness, salvation, and wisdom. Her characters are 'real', and make you cheer for them with each turn of the page.
Loved the wisdom that the Pastor offered to Mark in the book, and how he stood by him. Loved the transformation of each character throughout the book and the relationships that they built with Jesus.
I think many people can relate to this book in one way or another by either knowing someone with an addiction, or someone that seems unforgiveable, or someone on their knees in constant prayer. Well rounded story left me wanting more.
I dont typically read contemporary Christian novels, preferring historical so that the story doesn't get too personal or real as I tend to internalize them. I cried tears of sadness, as well as tears of joy in this novel. It was worth the tears, and I think Darlene ranks right up there with some of the better known authors of our day in her writings. Can't wait to read her future works.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Already Compromised- Ken Ham and Greg Hall




When I first saw that Ken Ham was coming out with a book on the current state of the Christian Universities I was counting down the days until it came available. With 2 teens on the tail end of high school I was hoping that this book would give me clear direction where to send my children to school. Just give me a list, and tell me which is best, I will move mountains to get them there. The book doesn't do that, it does much better than that in making parents and students think for themselves on what would be the best place for the student by aligning their own biblical worldview with a college who is following the literal Bible.

Ken Ham and Greg Hall teamed up with America's Research Group and Britt Beemer to study over 200 Christian universities and colleges by giving them a survey on core faith questions. The President, Vice President, Science Dept Head and Religion Dept Head were all given the survey. The book is very good at describing their findings from the survey from questions such as "Would you consider yourself to be a young-earth or old-earth Christian", "Do you believe in the inspiration of Scripture?", and "Do you believe of the Flood of Noah's Day?".

Taking the answers to these and many other questions, putting them in pie graphs for the reader to easily understand and then dissecting them and showing the many inconsistencies that were occuring. Lets just say that the majority of the people interviewed were not on the same page and they didn't even know it.

"Just because it is said to be 'Christian' does not mean it will teach a Christian worldview as it should." Learning to have a Christian worldview begins at home in the family, and within a church environment with like minded believers. There are colleges out there with a Christian worldview, but many have fallen prey to the Humanistic mindset and have given in to the ease of 'fitting in'.

Being armed with the truth of God's word, prayer and a biblical worldview is a must when setting out to find a college that is write for you.

Fantastic book, well worth the wait, and an answer to prayer for newbie parent on the college front.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Goat Song- Brad Kessler


This book made me laugh out loud on numerous occassions. As a goat owner myself I was able to relate well to the author as he decided to start on his goat journey. He describes choosing the goats, getting the barns reading, buying them and travelling to their new home. The relationship with the new goats, their personalities, habits, and interesting characteristics.
I could relate so well to the descriptions of the goats, their hierarchy within the group and with the humans. Laughed hard at the writing about the breeding season and the familiarity with the same thoughts we have had.
For someone with goats, or desiring to have them in the future it was a very fun book and very relational to other goat herders. If you dont like goats, you won't get it. It is geared to a very specific audience.
I would have rated it higher if it weren't for the evolution discussion in the book as I believe in creation and didn't think that the background of the goat had to go back to primortial soup.
I did like how the author found different names for goats, poems, old sayings and such to show that goats have held a strong place in the history and religions of the world.
Well done discussion on the art of cheese making as well as the difference between raw and pastuerized milk.
4 stars and fun read!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Marvels of Creation.. Breathtaking Birds- Buddy and Kay Davis


Marvels of Creation.. Breathtaking Birds truly is a breathtaking book by Buddy and Kay Davis. I love in the introduction to the book how it says "This book is different from most nature books in that it seeks to honor God as Creator and give all glory to Him." Several scripture verses are included in the introduction on the creation of the world and how God made the birds unique in their kind, not evolved from 'pond scum' as many nature books tend to discuss.
The book is arranged alphabetically for ease in locating a bird for a report or one you want to learn more about. A variety of birds from all over the globe are included, with bright, colorful photos and interesting facts.
Each bird has its typical statistics with the name origin, size, life span, and some special features. Interesting facts that showcase the nature of God in creating that specific bird are also included.
The last chapter in the book focuses on Intelligent Design and how the bird is perfectly made for flight with it's bone structure and feathers. It discusses all parts of the birds, eyes, bones, brain, systems and how none of these parts of a bird happened by chance, but by the Creator himself.
Great book for elementary age students to read to themselves and use for writing reports on birds, and great pictures for younger children to learn about the variety of species of birds that God created.

Master Books has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for review

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Shadowed Mind- Julie Cave


Dinah Harris is back in her second novel, this time as an independant consultant after her release from the FBI. Trying with God's help to get her alcoholism under control, she is nervous about starting her own business. Her first case comes through Detective Sampson Cage who is trying to find a serial killer with a message. Seems this serial killer is into neo-eugenics, or survival of the fittest of the human raise. Leaving his 'calling card' at each death of those who seem unfit to reproduce or make a positive impact on the world and must be gotten rid of.
This story has a secondary story within of a daughter Ella and her Father who is suffering severe Alzheimer and the guilt Ella is feeling as she tries to care for him. I love how these stories intertwine throughout the novel.

The subject of Neo-genenics was a new concept to me and I appreciated the research that Julie Cave did to provide the reader with a basic idea of what lies behind it. It was a scary subject to read about and consider that there are people out there with similar views. I didn't care for this novel as much as her previous simply because of this subject matter. I love suspense but serial killers kind of wig me out :)
Still a fantastic novel and I am excited to read her 3rd one coming out this summer!