American: The Last Best Hope Vol 3, by William Bennett, is the 3rd in a series tracing the history of our great nation and brings us up to modern times ( if you are reading this in 2011). The author who brought us The Book of Virtues has again delivered an inspiring collection of articles to help us understand our world.
In this latest volume, #3 Bennett takes us from 1988-2008, relatively close to today. How our world has shifted and how the political climate has changed in these years. The fall of communism and all the after effects of the wall falling are still being felt. The author shares his opinions and many quotes from leading political leaders. He spends a lot of time explaining the history and the why of events that while seem rather simple are actually quite complex and interwoven. There is so much more than what we see in a 30 second clip on the evening news, and Mr. Bennett beings that to life.
I was interested in this book for my high school children to use in their US Government class and for researching papers and speeches. Many sources can be quite liberal and I can trust Mr. Bennett to provide a conservative view of history. These kids grew up with The book of Virtues and are now ready for a more advanced and in depth book, written with the same values and integrity as the first one.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book to review as a member of BookSneeze. All opinions expressed are my own.
"Be Still My Soul" by Joanne Biscof, book review, Cadence of Grace series, book 1.
Lonnie is shy and just tries to stay out of sight and out-of-the-way. That is the surest way to avoid harsh words or blows from her father. Her mother tries to protect her, but is rather ineffective. Only her aunt provides the love, nurturing and Biblical training that Lonnie desires.
The novel is set in the Appalachian hills and shows the poverty and hard lives endured by the people who call this beautiful country home. While attending a local gathering, Lonnie is forced to sing for the group, against her wishes, then is escorted home by the handsome Gideon. When he steals a good night kiss, Lonnie's father takes advantage of the situation and forces the two to marry.
The story continues as Lonnie and Gideon try to make the best of a bad situation. Both have wounds from their fathers and do not know how to truly love and trust. While attempting to make it on their own, the young couple finds their way to the home of Jedediah and Elsie who show them the true love of God and model a loving marriage.
But can Lonnie and Gideon accept such kindness and learn to become a family? Matters are complicated by a coming baby and poor decisions that Gideon made on the road.
This novel is easy to read and has great character development. Their emotions seem so real and I was quickly drawn into the story. While this is the 1st in the series, I hope that the next book is released soon, so I can see how the story ends.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the publisher, Waterbrook Press. All opinions expressed are my own.
"The Bride Wore Blue" by Mona Hodgson, Book Review
Vivian is the youngest of the Sinclair sisters and she finally moves to Cripple Creek when her father moves to France, but will not take her along. She is a budding fashion designer, but is unable to find work in Cripple Creek. As the baby of the family, she feels she must prove herself by standing on her own without her sisters' help. And a mistake from her recent past haunts her even in her new home.
Vivian has always been the family favorite, and when she arrives in Cripple Creek she is warmly welcomed by her older sisters and their families. She has the bad fortune to arrive on the train that has been targeted by outlaws for robbery, so she becomes a prime witness. Her attention to fashion detail helps the deputy find clues to help determine the robbers.
Through out the story Vivian struggles with her self-worth and her worth in God's eyes, but in the end she finds love and acceptance from God and her family.
Great continuation of the series: The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek (this is book 3). Book 4 "Twice a Bride" is due out in October 2012.
Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of this book by Waterbrook Press as a member of their Blogging for Books program. All opinions expressed are my own.
"The Bridge of Peace" by Cindy Woodsmall is the second of the Ada's House Novel series. This story continues the story of the Old Order Amish families and how they interact with the outsiders or English. There are several issues introduced in this book including Cara's desire to become Amish so she can marry her Amish sweetheart. Across the road, Lena, the school teacher has problems with an older student and his family. Lena has a birthmark on her face that she thinks keeps men from looking at her. And another family, Grey and Elise are dealing with marital issues. All these problems are common but seem more complicated by the Amish ideal and rules.
While I enjoyed the story it was hard to remember all the characters and their history. After a few chapters I was up to speed, but a little summary at the beginning would have been helpful.
The basic conflicts are resolved in a godly way thoughout the book and I felt that the characters communicated well, but often after many hurt feelings and misunderstandings.
Book #3 is to be released in Fall 2011. I will be ready to see how it is all resolved.
I received this book from Waterbrook Press free of charge for review purposes. All views expressed are my own.
Brush of Angels Wings by Ruth Reid, book review. Book #2 in the Heaven on Earth series.
This novel is the latest Amish story by Ruth Reid and picks up where the first book ended, with Rachel dealing with the death of her brother and taking his place doing farm chores with her father. All seems well until Jordon arrives at his uncles house following the death of his Amish mother. On her death bed, she urges him to return to his Amish roots.
Jordon begins to learn farming the Amish way, and other Amish traditions. Rachels father uses the extra help to free Rachel to pursue womans duties. Rachel enjoys working with her father and the animals, but with sisters to help her mother, had not practiced the sewing, cooking and quilting as much as other young women her age. But Rachel resents Jordons interruption in the family.
Jordon is searching for a purpose and family. He is open to learning an Amish trade from the farmers in the community. He is searching for his birth father, who is a truck driver. He is considering his time in the Amish community just a stop over to his next part of his life.
Interspersed in this story is the battle of good and evil through the dialog between 2 angels. While I know that God created angels, I do not like to personify them or assign words and how they interact with God and humans. But it did give some insight into the thoughts of people.
Book Number 3 Angel at Her Side due out January 2013.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the publisher, Thomas Nelson, as a member of the Book Sneeze Program. All opinions expressed are my own.
The Christmas Singing by Cindy Woodsmall is the newest book in this Amish series. It follows The Sound of Sleigh Bells and takes place several years later. The same characters come to life again in the newest book, which is set at Christmas time.
Mattie is the successful owner of Mattie Cakes and just loves to make folks happy by creating custom cakes and pastries. After Gideon broke her heart in Sleigh Bells she moved to live near her brother and opened the cake store. She still keeps the notebook that Gideon gave her as a young teenager and makes notes of all orders and ideas for cakes. She is with Sol, an Amish man who she know will never break her heart.
But a fire that destroys her cake shop and turns her life just up side down. She returns home for the holidays to help out her parents with the baking and attend 2 family weddings. So much has changed since she left. Is she still the same?
Great read for the busy holiday time, as the story is easy to follow and ends well.
Disclaimer: I received this book as a member of the Waterbrook Press Blogging for Books program. All opinions expressed are my own. Hope you like the book as well as I did.
Drew Carter is an everyday type of kid, growing up in American. Then his dad was killed in service to his country, and everything changed for Drew. He and his mom found comfort in each other, and Jake, a fellow military man who had promised to look after them. The next few years were hard. They had to move for his mom to get a teaching job, and Drew had to start a new school. And Jake made time for Drew, taking him camping for several weeks each summer, teaching him survival skills. Drew made a few friends on the football team, but they were slow to accept him. He actually found his best friend in the nerdy geek stats guy for the team, Ben.
Drew played football in high school until a tragic accident ended his sports career. With Jake and Ben's help he was able to pull himself together and graduate. Then everything changed! Ben and Drew were working on the physics project for Ben's advisor when the experiment goes terribly wrong. Drew is injured and blinded. Ben visits him in the hospital then disappears.
As Drew recovers he discovers that he has some new "powers." He can see, hear, feel, smell more than he could before, and he can see more. He can see the "invaders" from another realm, both good and bad. He knows they are after him.
This young adult novel explores the dark and evil that permeates our world. The plot is fast moving and full of excitement. It explores the evil and good and the battle between them. It puts names and faces to evil and how these forces are involved in our daily lives. But also how good is also involved.
This would be a good book for a high school student who is interested in science and Christianity. This is the first of a series.
Disclaimer: I received this book from Multnomah books, the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.
The favorite teacher is shot on a school bus riding home from a high school football game. The murder goes unsolved for over 10 years, and it is still destroying lives in the small town. Out of love for his wife and in hopes of obtaining the soon to open District Attorney job, Vic reopens the case. But it is not as simple as it seems. So many unanswered questions, a cover up and more people involved than those teens on the bus that night.
The plot is well woven and action packed. I was unsure of the murder's identity until the very end, well hidden. Mature content: adultery, rape, domestic violence, alcohol abuse. Forgiveness is a central theme, given and received.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Waterbrook Press as a member of their blogging for books program. All opinions expressed are my own.
"Cutie Pies" by Dani Cone- owner of Seattle's High 5 Pies and Fuel Coffee
I got an email from PaperBack Swap, my favorite book site saying I had won the weekly drawing and would be receiving the book "Cutie Pies." WOW, that made my day! I love Paper Back Swap (read about how it works) and getting a free book from them was just, sweet.
And what a sweet book it is...Cutie Pies is a collection of 40 sweet, savory, and adorable recipes for pies. This is not a book to read in the middle of the afternoon, with lunch long forgotten and dinner nowhere in sight, because the pictures and recipes are incredible.
The author tells her pie story then jumps right in to the foundation of all good pies, the crust. From there it is all uphill, with a new twist on an old favorite or a totally new idea for a pie. There are techniques for making pie pops (pie on a stick) or pie jars (individual pies baked and eaten out of jelly jars. Some are savory meal type pies, others are cream and holiday pies. But all are just yummy looking.
While this is a working type of cookbook, the illustrations and photos make it worthy for a place on the coffee table as well as the kitchen counter. Would make a great gift for your dessert loving friends.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from PaperBack Swap from weekly drawing (thanks). All opinions expressed are my own.
The Daughters Walk is the new historical novel by Jane Kirkpatrick. Jane writes about women in history who are significant in their own way, and this book is no exception. 1896 Helga Estby and her daughter, Clara, undertake a risky challenge in an effort to save their family farm from foreclosure. They must walk from Seattle to New York. If they make it before the deadline, they will be awarded $5K, enough to pay off the farm.
The first half of the book is their walk including their struggles and triumphs. It is fascinating how they are able to make it, without all the modern conveniences we consider essential. They could not beg but were expected to work for their room and board. They found some compassionate along the way, but were also shunned by others.
The second half of the novel is where Kirkpatrick shines! She creates a story for Clara following the historical walk. While she is shunned by her family, she finds success with the help of others.
This book is very well written and is captivating. The story moves along well and the characters are come alive. As compared to A Gathering of Finches, Walk is easy to read. Clara is trying to find herself and her self assurance. I really enjoyed this book and would recommend this to others.
I received this book from Waterbrook Press by being a member of their Blogging for Books program. All opinions expressed are my own.
The Encounter by Stephen Arterburn. Thomas Nelson Publishers. Religion/ Christian Living/ General. $15.99 US
The Encounter is a parable. For those not too familiar with that term, it is a story that teaches a lesson. In this case, the story is of forgiveness given and received. The parallel to Gods forgiveness is unmistakable.
Jonathon Rush is an incredibly successful businessman from Miami who is haunted by the mother who gave him up at the age of 4. He is convinced that she must have hated him to give him away. His adoptive parents were wealthy and compassionate and her learned unconditional love from them. But when they are tragically killed, he reverts to unresolved anger issues. A series of bad decisions lands him in the hospital following a suicide attempt and in counseling with a pastor, Tim, who convinces him to return to his native Alaska for answers.
From Miami to Fairbanks Johnathon travels in search of his mother. But he does not even know her name. Through a series of encounters with a driver, pastor, and reporter, he slowly unravels the mystery surrounding his mother, but she still eludes him.
At the same time Ada Gutherie has been keeping track of her son from afar. She knows of his arrival in Alaska and attempts to see him. After a quick glimpse she returns to her dry cabin in the woods. While she longs to meet him she is ashamed and afraid.
The parable is well constructed and realistic. It shows the emotions and consequences of decisions. But most of all, Gods grace is portrayed and forgiveness is both given and received. The book includes a chapter of the real life example that inspired the story as well as discussion questions for group or individuals.
Easy to read and enjoyable. Would be good for small group to read and discussion. Excellent for a book club wanting to go a little deeper.
Disclaimer: I received this book from Thomas Nelson as a member of Book Sneeze, review team. All opinions expressed are my own.
"Faithful to Laura" by Kathleen Fuller, book review
Laura grew up in the Amish community in Ethridge, TN, but has recently moved to follow Matt King, the Amish boy she has fallen for. But he does not love her! He is just using her to steal her heart and her family's life savings. And then he attempts to kill her. She escapes but with scares to her face.
Sawyer was orphaned and abused in the foster care system prior to be adopted into an Amish family. There he found love and acceptance, and a sense of belonging. Now he must decide whether to join the church or pursue higher education in the English or Yankee world.
Then Sawyer's world is rocked by the sudden appearance of his grandmother and her controlling manner. He wants to know about his family, but does not appreciate how she deals with him, or others in the Amish community.
Fuller has written an easy to read novel that follows the Amish traditions of forgiveness and grace, when confronted with the evils of the English world. She has developed the characters well and the story moves quickly to keep the reader turning the pages. Conclusion of the series to be released soon.
This book is available in an ebook format for the Kindle, and since I received my Kindle Fire in the mail this week, I tried it out. While there were a few formatting issues, it was easy to download and read on the Kindle. And I did not have to wait for the mail man to deliver the book. It was here instantly!
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this ebook from Book Sneeze to review. All opinions expressed are my own.
"The Fiddler" by Beverly Lewis- Home to Hickory Hollow series- book review
Beverly Lewis has done it again, taken us into the lives of an Amish community and the clash with the English people near by. This time the theme is instrumental music, which is excluded from the Old Order Amish, but is the livelihood of professional violin player, Amelia Devries.
Amelia meets Michael Hostetler, an Amish young man, during a rain storm following a fiddle competition. Through out their weekend together, the two explore their current lives, goals, family expectations and responsibilities. Each has to also deal with the traditions of their religion and how that impacts their decisions.
Following their brief visit, both return to their jobs and families but continue to remember the decisions they made while in Hickory Hollow, and how they could be friends.
This book, more than others I have read about Amish/ English conflicts, seemed to show the negative aspects of the Amish traditions of being removed from all things modern: most notably- use of electricity, cars, music, computers, etc. And the consequences of the Amish for using these "off-limits" items, namely banning- completely cut off from family and friends, forever.
The book would make a great summer road trip take-along. It is easy to read and I was quickly engaged in the story line. I will look forward to reading the next installment in the series "The Bridesmaid" to be available Sept, 2012.
Disclaimer: This book was provided to me from the publisher, Bethany House. All opinions expressed are my own.
Finding Becky is the third in the Winds Across the Prairie series and kept my interest just like the first two book. Set in Oklahoma Territory, early 1900′s the series follows the settlers in their quest to carve out their familys living. This book starts as Becky, or Rebecca, as she would now like to be addressed, arrives home after graduating from college in Boston. Four years away from OK has broadened her horizons and changed her in many ways. She is returning to her home town to be a writer for the home town newspaper. She also wants to bring reform and new ideas to the territory.
The story is filled with cowboys, wind storms, fires, home town celebrations, romance, and just a bit of mystery, to keep the reader turning the pages. Wonderful continuation to the series, cant wait for #4.
Sasha and Evelyn start their relationship when the injured ballerina hires her as a personal assistant to begin her rehabilitation in her hometown. This unlikely partnership leads to growth and healing for both women, as they each find their way home.
Sasha returns to her deceased mothers home to recover from a career ending injury. She is dealing with the sudden end of her dancing and the death of her mother. She needs help with just about everything, so she calls Evelyns Helping Hands and hires Evelyn to be her assistant. The live-in arrangement is just right for Evelyn as she is newly engaged and testing her wings of independence.
After a rocky start the women find a workable companionship and begin to heal and grow. As Sasha works through her physical recovery, Evelyn becomes more independent and starts planning her future with Jorden. Both have many issues that come to the surface and are able to help each other grow and conquer the problems.
Evelyn matures so much and is able to pursue her dreams while Sasha must put her dancing dreams to an end. If you have an interest in ballet you will enjoy the this novel. The story starts off a slow, but I was quickly caught up in the storyline. I enjoyed the small town setting and the family interaction depicted in this book. It was easy to read and made for a great cold fall weekend book.
Disclaimer: I received this book from Waterbrook Press as a member of the Blogging for Books program. All opinions expressed are my own.
This contemporary novel for young adults is well written and just fun to read. Addy is chosen by her school principal to represent her school on the new reality show The Book of Love which will chose the date of the presidents son for his senior prom. Addy is just a regular girl who works hard in school and wants to get a golf scholarship to attend college. To honor her principal, she agrees to be on the show because her small private school is in need of funding.
The other 100 teenage girls have much different ideas about being on the show and will do anything to be the one chosen to attend Jonathons prom with him. There is a lot of fighting and harsh words between the girls as the weeks continue and the numbers drop. But Addy is just genuine and honest in her dealings with all the contestants, crew, and secret service. And everyone hates her for it.
The weeks of the competition continue with girls going home and others staying as America votes for Jonathons date. Addy continues to up hold her Christian values and beliefs in the face of pure hatred. Her quiet testimony is noticed by others and earns her the right to share her face with the producer who hates Christians.
This modern Ruth story is well written and action packed. The book will appeal to teens and college age girls. Great book for teen reading group, with discussion questions in the back.
Published by Thomas Nelson Publishing, $9.99 U.S.
Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of this book by Thomas Nelson Publishing as a member of the book sneeze team. All opinions expressed are my own.
"Gathering of Finches" by Jane Kirkpatrick is a historical novel published by Waterbrook Press. Cassie Hendrick Stearns is the main character and the novel revolves around her life and decisions. Beginning with the 1899 Oregon coastal tidewater crossing and ending again in Oregon, Cassie is challenged by others wishes for her. She marries young following the untimely death of her father to save her mother and sister from poverty. Her husband, Josiah Stearns, moves the family to Washington where he was working in the timber industry.
The family dynamics in this novel are complex. Cassie tries to please others with her decisions. But later becomes selfish and indulges herself with not thinking of others when making choices, even when others are significantly affected.
While I enjoy historical fiction and am familiar with the Oregon/ Washington setting of the book, I found it difficult to read. Much of the book is musings of Cassie's and her tangled thoughts. She second guesses her decisions and disregards the feelings of others. I felt that I persevered and finished the book, hoping the end would make it worth it. But I was sadly disappointed.
I received this book from the Paperback Swap from credits I earned sending others books. All opinions expressed are my own.
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The Girls Still Got It by Liz Curtis Higgs- book review
Take a Walk with Ruth and the God who Rocked Her World sub title.
Liz Curtis Higgs does it again, she opens the Bible to us with a bright new look. This time it is the book of Ruth. While we are probably familiar with the basic story, Higgs takes it verse by verse, and explores several different translations, and expands and explains. She takes us into some of the history and traditions, so we can better understand the story.
And what a story it is! Love, death, famine, and a bit of romance! All in the Bible.
The book has extensive footnotes and bibliography. There are study questions for use in personal study or a group setting. Each chapter has a small testimonial from a Ruth in Real Life which is written from a woman who has experienced what characteristics are explained in the chapter.
This book is written in a casual, conversational style. It is quite easy to read, and I think it will appeal to women who do not like to read. Great for a young womens Bible study or Sunday School class.
Disclaimer: I was provided an Advanced Readers Copy of this book by the publisher, Waterbrook Press. All opinions expressed are my own.
This is the newest childrens board book by Lisa Berrgen and illustrated by Laura J. Bryant. It is a sweet story of Little Bear learning about love from Grandpa Bear. Grandpa Bear shares illustrations of the 3 types of love with Little Bear starting with a fishing trip and ending up at home with a group hug.
Great story, a little wordy for a board book which is typically for younger toddlers. Wonderful story to teach young children about human love and more importantly Gods love.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from Waterbrook Press as a member of their blogging for books program. All opinions expressed are my own.
Going Deep by Gordon MacDonald. This newest book by MacDonald is a continuation of the story of a fictional church going through growth. Rather than the typical book on how to grow your church MacDonald uses a novel approach, so it is a bit easier to read. He uses real characters with names and personalities to illustrate his principles of church growth. This makes the story come to life and kept my interest.
That said, it was a bit hard to keep reading, there was a lot of detail and even more characters, so sometimes I got confused or just bogged down. There are 384 pages, so a little longer than some books. If you are in a place to influence your church leadership, then this is definitely a book to consider. MacDonald illustrates a program that he calls Cultivating Deep People (CDP) and it is modeled after the rabbinic disciplining method. He shares the entire process from idea to completion of the group of deep people.
Downsides: The story stops with the conclusion of the first session, so there is no information of long-term effects or subsequent groups. And with a couple of small exceptions, there is little negative information of what happened (one guy dropped out, one couple left the church). And the book is a bit long.
Upside: Principals can be used for any church or sub group within a church (youth, young adult, etc) While there are no check lists, there is enough specific information to quickly develop your own plan to implement the program in your own location. In our ultra modern age, it is wonderful to see ancient learning practices making a come back.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of Going Deep from Thomas Nelson Publishers as a member of their Book Sneeze program. All opinions expressed are my own.