Friday, July 27, 2012

Christmas in July

Blame It On The Mistletoe
Joyce Magnin

Book Summary: Is There Really a Fountain of Youth in Paradise? Welcome back to Bright's Pond, where strange happenings are afoot at the Greenbrier Nursing Home. Strange even for Bright's Pond. The residents suddenly act like kids again riding trikes, climbing trees, and of all things falling in love. Some of the townsfolk blame it on the crooked new gazebo, or its builder, a quirky little man who quotes Don Quixote, collects water from the fountain at the Paradise trailer park, and disappears on a regular basis. While Chief of Police Mildred Blessing investigates the mystery, Griselda and her friends deal with a luau Thanksgiving, preparations for the Christmas pageant, and maybe even an upcoming wedding. Only, in Bright 's Pond, nothing ever really goes as planned . . .

Review: Filled with loveable quirky characters that take on a life of their own throughout the story interwoven into that is characters from other books written by the author. This is a story about people who are given a second chance at life to do things and act without the adult perspective heightened self-awareness. It did take some time to get used to a book about older people. I did enjoy the realness of interaction between the two sisters and the giving of self in visiting people that are unable to get up and go on their own. While slow moving at the start it was worth wading through all the ‘getting to know you’ phase to dig into the mystery of why did all these people seem to be getting more youthful.

I would like to thank Net Galley and Abingdon Press for allowing me to read and review this book in return for a free copy and I was never asked to write a favorable review by anyone.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Another Wonderful Biography

Charles Hodge
W. Andrew Hoffecker

Book Description: Charles Hodge (1797-1878) is regarded by many as the most significant American theologian of the nineteenth century. He drove forward the rapid growth of theological education and contributed to Presbyterianism's wide-ranging influence in public life. His advocacy of a Reformed orthodoxy combined with evangelical piety attracted a broad following within Old School Presbyterianism that spilled over into American evangelicalism as a whole. Hodge helped to define a distinctive ministerial model-the pastor-scholar-and his fingerprints can be seen all over the Reformed Christian scene of today.

Review: This was a biography on Charles Hodge and his ministry. This is a great series to learn about those who have gone before. We live in a world where these biographies become more important to have an example of Godliness before us due to people moving, changes in the church and the breakdown of the family even in the church. Never before have more people been only been to church on Christmas Eve and Easter when they come to Christ it is through the lives of believers that we can glean the lives we wish to reflect upon for encouragement and example. Charles Hodge had a very dynamic life and his childhood was a model for our culture today to reflect on. It is important to have Godly role models for us to learn from.

I would like to thank Net Galley and P & R Publishing for allowing me to read and review his book in return for a free copy and I was never asked to write a favorable review by anyone.

The 4th in a Series

A Life of Joy
Amy Clipston

Book Summary: Take a trip to Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania, where you'll meet the women of the Kauffman Amish Bakery in Lancaster County. As each woman's story unfolds, you will share in her heartaches, trials, joys, dreams ... and secrets. You'll discover how the simplicity of the Amish lifestyle can clash with the "English" way of life-and the decisions and consequences that follow. Most importantly, you will be encouraged by the hope and faith of these women, and the importance they place on their families. In A Life of Joy, the fourth installment in the series, eighteen-year-old Lindsay Bedford has reached a crossroads. Should she stay in the small Amish community she's known and loved for four years or return to the English life in her hometown in Virginia where her older sister is a college student? An extended visit to Virginia might just tip the scales as Lindsay reconnects with friends, joins a new church, works on her GED, and is pressured by her sister to stay and "make something of herself." Will Lindsay leave her aunt Rebecca and become English or settle in Bird-in-Hand and join the Amish church? Legions of Clipston fans want to know. Full of well-researched Amish culture, Clipston's book is true to form, delivering the best of the Amish fiction genre wrapped around a compelling story, with characters who will touch the hearts of loyal fans and new readers alike.

Review: I loved the characters in this book. The story line was believable and engrossing with characters you would root for and care about. The book was the fourth in a series and had many reoccurring characters and a continuous storyline of faith and family. I have not read all of the other books aside from one novella for the holidays I found it was easy to ease into the characters and relationships that were explained and never overdone. The book was easy to read and enjoyable throughout the story. The only problem I had was that the end seemed abrupt and with more questions than answers. I realize that this is a book in a series, however many resolve the main theme in the current book. This ending would not deter me from reading more books by this author.

I would like to thank Net Galley and Zondervan Publishing for allowing me to read and review this book in return for a free copy and I was never asked to write a favorable review by anyone.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

An Amish Story

Leah’s Choice
Emma Miller

Book Summary: Falling for an Englisher. With dreams of marrying an Old Order Amish man, Leah Yoder plans on raising children in the peaceful Delaware community. But when Mennonite missionary Daniel Brown arrives to share his story with their church, Leah is fascinated by him. She spends time with Daniel in a forbidden courtship to learn how she truly feels about him. Before long, Leah has a choice to make. Should she stay with her community...or leave with the man she believes God has placed in her life’s path? Hannah’s Daughters: Seeking love, family and faith in Amish country.

Review: I enjoyed the theme explored in the plot and the subplot. It was an interesting subplot for me more at times than the plot. I guessed the outcome of the subplot and was torn between belief and disbelief in its credibility. I believed the author made a credible attempt to tie all the loose ends together and the grief of the people surrounding it was believable. The main plot had a great struggle that occurred realistically throughout the book. The main point I found most challenging to accept was that Leah had a choice. I understand she is to willingly join the Amish Church, but the pressure that was placed on her must have been tremendous and that was the only soft part of the story. The tension between the two groups was a significant part of the plot and was well done. Overall I did enjoy this book and the series was enjoyable.

I would like to thank Net Galley and Harlequin Love Inspired for allowing me to read and review this book in return for a free copy and I was never asked to write a favorable review by anyone.

Monday, July 16, 2012

A New Series by Nancy Mehl

Nancy Mehl

Book Description: Lizzie Engel is used to running away. At eighteen, she left her Mennonite hometown, her family, and her faith with plans never to return. Five years later, Lizzie finds she'll have to run again. False accusations at her job, a stalker, and a string of anonymous threatening letters have left her with no other options. This time, however, her escape is back to Kingdom, her hometown. As Lizzie becomes reacquainted with Kingdom, she realizes she may not have left her Mennonite roots and her faith as firmly in the past as she thought. She draws on the support of Noah Housler, an old friend, as she hides out and attempts to plan her next steps. When it becomes painfully clear that the danger has followed Lizzie to Kingdom, suspicions and tensions run high, and she no longer knows who to trust. With her life and the lives of those she loves at risk, Lizzie will have to run one last time--to a Father whose love is inescapable.

Review: I enjoyed the characters, town and story line. It was just enough suspense with plenty of breaks to enjoy meeting all the people in the town and I enjoyed the storyline it was a fun fast pace story that is engrossing. The descriptions of the town and the people were vivid. It made for a quick read and enjoyable overall. The downside was ‘who did it’ that was not so hard to figure out. Despite that the ending was exciting and made reading it worthwhile. The entire book was enjoyable and looking forward to part 2.

I would like to thank Library Thing and Bethany House Publishing for allowing me to read and review this book in return for a free copy and I was never asked to write a favorable review by anyone.

Friday, July 13, 2012

A Real Moving Experience

Cottage By The Sea
Robin Jones Gunn

Book Summary: Erin Bryce and her best friend, Sharlene, count the day they start their wedding planning business as a very happy day. So much so that they name their company The Happiest Day to reflect the fulfillment of their long-held dream as well as their clients’ longing for a wedding celebration to match the exhilaration of being in love. As a bonus, the two women utilize their business to help Erin’s son Jordan and his fiancĂ©e, Sierra, plan a grand wedding. But the two friends aren’t prepared for the cloud moving in to cover the sunny, successful start of their business. Erin’s father, who lives in a small coastal Oregon community with his brusque, downright odd second wife, Delores, develops a medical problem that puts him in the hospital. Erin responds by rushing from Southern California to her father’s—and oh, yeah, Delores’s—cottage by the sea. What greets Erin when she arrives sends her tumbling down a bewildering path to a different kind of happiest day. Her journey tosses her through highs and lows of hurt and healing, betrayal and renewal, wrong assumptions righted, and the brightest future one could ever hope for. All just around the corner, at the cottage by the sea.

Review: This was a very well written story. It was moving, great characters, emotional and yet joyful in many respects. It was picture of an adult who cares for her parent as our faith exhorts us to care for the elderly and the ill. Robin Jones Gunn did a great job of providing a well painted picture of the Oregon coast and the cottage by the sea. It was a tear jerker at times and makes one think about how important relationships are to life. It also had an added bonus of tying in a different book’s characters which is always a gem for me. I love series and sequels. It is like seeing a long lost friend.

I would like to thank Howard Books for allowing me to read and review this book in return for a free copy and I was never asked to write a favorable review by anyone.

A Rich Puritan History

Thomas Manton
Derek Cooper

Book Summary: Thomas Manton (1620-77) was an influential Puritan preacher and an important figure in English Society. This book has two aims, to introduce readers in an engaging manner to Manton and, through this pivotal figure, to provide an introduction to the movement known as "Puritanism," concisely addressing its historical, social, and political contexts.

Review: This was a good book about the life of Thomas Manton. While there are many puritans to choose from this one is most interesting because of preaching before the parliament and chaplain to two very different rulers. He was one of the lesser known puritans and yet not without merit on his own. This book was split into 3 parts: different phases of his life through key events, Manton’s best-know work, his commentary on James and a selection of his work intended to showcase noteworthy sermons. This book provides little gems into his life from a previous biography and history of that time. It is worth the time to glean these gems.

I would like to thank Net Galley and P & R Publishing for allowing me to read and review this book in return for a free copy and I was never asked to write a favorable review by anyone.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Not a Favorite of Mine

Song of My Heart
Kim Vogel Sawyer

Summary: Sadie Wagner has always been devoted to her family. So when her stepfather is injured and can't work, she decides to leave home and accept a position as a clerk at the mercantile in Goldtree, Kansas. Goldtree also offers the opportunity to use her God-given singing talent--though the promised opera house is far different from what she imagined. With her family needing every cent she can provide, Sadie will do anything to keep her job. Thad McKane comes to Goldtree to investigate reports of a bootlegging operation. Once he earns enough money from the sheriff work, he plans to use it to pay for his training to become a minister. Thad is immediately drawn to the lovely young singer who performs in Asa Baxter's unusual opera house. But when he hears her practicing bawdy tunes, he wonders if she's far less innocent than she seems. And when Sadie appears to be part of the very crimes Thad has come to investigate, is there any hope the love blossoming between them will survive?

Review: I had a real difficult time getting into this book. I found Sadie at the beginning of this story to be unbelievable. I can see being self-sacrificing but not to the extent she was. I did not care much for Sid either. He was the kind of person to avoid. Self-serving and selfish therefore I could not understand the two ever being close. The characters grew quite a bit throughout the story and that mad continuing to read it worthwhile. I also found the swing in Sadie to be unlikely. To tolerate things that she knew to be wrong and would constantly repeat the things her father told her seemed to lend credence to the unlikeliness of these actions. Thad was the only main character I liked. He was driven to do right and never wavered from that. The Baxter sisters were great and provided the comic relief without being ogres as bosses. The ending was a little too convenient although finished the book nicely.
I would like to thank Bethany House Publishing for allowing me to read and review this book in return for a free copy and I was never asked to write a favorable review by anyone.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Well written Characters

The Scent of Cherry Blossoms
Cindy Woodsmall

Summary of Book: Annie Martin loves the Plain ways of her Old Order Mennonite people, like those revered by her beloved grandfather. Retreating from a contentious relationship with her mother, Annie goes to live with her Daadi Moses in Apple Ridge. But as spring moves into Pennsylvania and Annie spends time amongst the cherry trees with the handsome Aden Zook, she wishes she could forget how deeply the lines between the Old Order Amish and Old Order Mennonite are drawn. Can Annie and Aden find a place for their love to bloom in the midst of the brewing storm?

Review: I enjoyed this story for the most part. While the ending was no surprise it was interesting to see how the result was work its way out. At times it was very stressful to read knowing that these people were entering dangerous waters within their respective communities. It did not seem realistic how it ended. I preferred the others in the series. On the positive side the characters were likeable and believable. That is why I was able to finish it. I found the behavior of others to be very believable when the couple was found out and very human. These aspects are sometimes played down by other authors and this is Cindy Woodsmall’s gift in writing comes in she does not shy away from these things. That is another reason to keep reading. The characters were easy to see myself in them and yet they were realistic in their concerns, worries and troubles. That more than anything is the redeeming qualities of this book.

I would like to thank WaterBrook Publishing for allowing me to read and review this book in return for a free copy and was never asked to write a favorable review by anyone.

Monday, July 2, 2012


Why Do We Have Creeds
Burk Parsons

Booklet Summary: The pluralist society is wrong! Everyone's beliefs are not equally valid - truth is not down to who is the biggest bully! Creeds give direction, unity, and fellowship - and show the world what we believe.

Review: This was a quick read booklet that details why and how Creeds are beneficial. The author goes into detail of how this unifies and keeps the church on their focus of Christ. Burk Parsons also makes clear they do not replace scripture but help the Believer flush out the specifics of what they believe in a brief statement. This is done every time a person defends their faith. It is challenging to summarize the entire Bible if one is not prepared to when asked on a moment’s notice and that is where creeds are most helpful. As society changes in the past and present creeds are the one thing that cannot change since the Bible does not change.

I would like to thank Net Galley and P & R Publishing for allowing me to read and review this book in return for a free copy and was never asked to write a favorable review by anyone.


What is the Doctrine of Adoption
Michael A. Milton

Booklet Summary: Unfolds the scriptural-theological foundations of the doctrine of adoption, showing it as a distinct doctrine in its own right, and relating this foundational concept to the believer's life.

Review: This booklet was a great read. It had analogies that were well used and personal to the author. It was one of the best booklets out there because it was so intimately written about his and our adoption into the family of Christ. I found the entire booklet to be powerful and worth the time spent to better understand this topic. Anyone reading this booklet would benefit from the scripture references and the real life adoption of the author and others.

I would like to thank Net Galley and P & R Publishing for allowing me to read and review this book in return for a free copy and was never asked to write a favorable review by anyone.

Weight Loss

40 Days to Better Living: Weight Management
Church Health Center

Book Summary: Millions would like to trim down, either a little or a lot—and 40 Days to Better Living: Weight Management provides clear, manageable steps for people to drop pounds, through life-changing attitudes and actions. Readers can select one or more elements of the 7-step Model for Healthy Living—Faith, Medical, Movement, Work, Emotional, Family and Friends, and Nutrition—and follow the 40-day plan to improve their lives, just a bit, day by day. With plenty of practical advice, biblical encouragement, and stories of real people who’ve taken the same journey, this book—from the Church Health Center in Memphis, the largest faith-based clinic of its type in the U.S.—may be one of the most important books your customers will read this year.

Review: I found this book to be a quick read with oversimplified information. Many things were useful information and yet there was no new information or theories. It was a fix yourself and encouragement to get it right. The book goes through a week by week encouragement that can be quite depressing if you do and cannot lose weight. I did not care for the do better try harder mentality of this book. It does not take into account that many people need to look at the foods they eat and determine if they are helpful and harmful, especially if you are 50 pounds or greater overweight. It also does not take into account that it will take more than 40 days to lose weight and how to bring back favorite foods back into their diet.
I would like to thank Net Galley and Barbour Publishing for allowing me to read and review this book in return for a free copy and was never asked to write a favorable review by anyone.