Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Whatever is Lovely (A Coloring Book for Reflection and Worship) by Waterbrook Press

As adult coloring books become the rage, Whatever is Lovely, comes as a fresh breath of air.  This truly is a worship book.  The drawings are intricate in detail yet simple enough to be enjoyable to color.  Each page has a focus verse with designs to compliment the message.  On the reverse side of the coloring page is the full verse, whether scripture, a book reference or quote.  These words are inspirational, comforting, soothing, thought-provoking and wise.  There is variety in the types of pictures to color.  The pages are thick and not see through.  This makes them suitable for crayons, colored pencils or markers.  This is a high quality adult coloring book to be shared happily with others.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Mountain Midwife by Laurie Alice Eakes

This book is truly uncommonly good!  It's a marvelous read about historic midwifery and a modern midwife.  I could not put this book down.  I instantly liked Ashley and felt drawn into her relationship with her patients.  This book is a good blend of intrigue/mystery, spiritual advice woven into the dialogue between characters and tender romance.  I was impressed with how the author was able to get across some very deep spiritual truths but in a natural way not contrived.  This is how Christian story telling should be done!  Pick up this book and take a little trip into the Appalachian mountains and learn not only a bit about the culture there but a lot about love, forgiveness and how being perfect is highly overrated when God's grace appears.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning

If you don't believe in being saved 100% by grace hold on to your hats.  Maybe this book isn't for you but then again I think this book is exactly for you!  Manning has a sharp, no-nonsense approach to the most wonderful news of all.  God loves you exactly as you are.  You don't have to do a thing to earn His love or favor.  He has given all to save you and He is pursuing you with his "furious love" as Manning so artfully phrases it.  In the pages of this book you will meet a God who is far different from what a lot of us have grown up with.  This God wants to save you.  This God wants to make you whole.  This God offers a forgiveness that transforms us for our own sake not to make us worthy of His love.  Please take note of that last point.  His forgiveness transforms you...You will not remain the same.  This God's love is bigger than anything you could ever imagine.  This God's love is enough.  Period.  End of story.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Girl From The Train by Irma Joubert

An addictive tale of the healing power of thankfulness and love told through the eyes of a young girl who lost everything and yet gained all.  The story starts on a train bound for a concentration camp and ends up with the heroine in South Africa.  Without spoiling the story I can say that Gretchen’s path is not the expected one.  You will be surprised, delighted, in anguish, crushed with grief and buoyed by hope, disgusted by prejudice, humbled by forgiveness and astonished at the leaps of faith and raw power that surges through a soul in love.  You won’t want to miss this book!

I received this book free from the publishers and was not required to write a positive review.

Friday, October 23, 2015

A Refuge at Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky

An enlightening historical novel of WWI that focuses on those without a family.  It deals with estranged families, orphan and abandoned children, and those who don't feel as if they have a place to call home.  Highland Hall becomes a refuge in more than one way as the Ramseys and Fosters open their home and hearts to an interesting and varied group of lost souls from an injured pilot, a German internment victim, and servants that become family.  The healing that takes place at Highland Hall is much more than physical.  Breaches are crossed and healed.  New opportunities and dreams are realized through the faith each holds in God and in each other's potential and worth.  This books is an inspirational story of the intricacies of God's merciful plans for our good.

I received this book free from the publishers and was not required to write a positive review.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

A Reason To Stay by Kellie Coates Gilbert

An interesting take on opposites attract!  The woman is a career aspiring journalist become anchor woman.  The man is a country boy who deep sea fishes in competitions.  But there's a lot more to the story than this.  Ideals of family, home, marriage contrast sharply for the characters of this book.  You'll read and learn about the news world and bass fishing competitions.  You will also be drawn into a love story that isn't a fairy tale at all but has some hard, often painful lessons in the day to day struggle of two people juggling their emotions, pasts and present day dramas.  This is a book that often had me on the edge of my seat and chewing my fingernails!  It brought me to tears with the real life heartache that can keep people from accepting and giving love.  But the book triumphs in the love of God to heal those who accept His balm for their souls.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Owls - Our most charming birds by Matt Sewell

I’m sure there was never a more delightful fact filled book written!  Mr. Sewell takes us through a comprehensive journey on owl data from woodland, tropical, wilderness and desert owls.  Each page gives amazing information on the individual owls.  But it’s not like a dull science book you were forced to read in school.  This book reads like a cleverly written novel.  Each fact filled page feels like you’re reading a mini story about that particular owl.  His illustrations are accurate in detail and exquisitely charming as well.  At the end of the book I wanted more and immediately googled Matt Sewell’s name to see if he had written any more books and woo hoo he has!!  This is just a darling gem of a book!

I received this book free from the publishers and was not required to write a positive review.  

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Imposter by Suzanne Woods Fisher

If you think all Amish books are the same think again.  Ms Fisher writes a story of a family’s personal grief in the midst of their community’s group unrest.  The main character’s story is woven in with the members of her community, not the least of these, her own father.  As each character grapples with what it means to wade through grief, betrayal and learning to trust, significant spiritual truths are expounded on through the conversations characters have with each other.  The dialogue is deeply moving and at the same time draws you into the hearts of this family and community.  It’s a story, but it feels like you’re talking with your close friends as you encounter the characters in these pages.  I can’t wait to read book two of The Bishop Family series!

I received this book free from the publisher and was not required to write a positive review.

The Horse of My Heart by Callie Smith Grant

This is the “Guideposts” for horse lovers!  Tender, heart-warming, personal stories by a variety of Christian authors about their experiences with horses (and one stray donkey)!  This book is a collection of horse tales from all aspects of horsemanship.  Stories about retired, rescued and therapy pet horses are included.  The read will find stories of how a horse changed the course of a marriage, gave courage to a shy woman, taught a child how to stand up to bullies and more.  Each story brings spiritual insights in correlational with the horse’s personal traits or unique circumstances or events involving a horse.

I received this book free from the publishers and was not required to write a positive review.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

A Jewish Baker's Pastry Secrets by George Greenstein with Elaine Greenstein, Julia Greenstein and Issace Bleicher

The cover of this recipe book made my mouth water!  Mmm! Was the thought that ran through my mind.  I have to get this book was the other thought.  I was not disappointed.  This recipe book was started by George and finished by his daughters are a loving tribute to the man who remarkable recipes grace these pages.  

This book really does have Baker’s secrets such as how to thaw chilled dough quickly without ruining the texture and how to make pastry dough thinner and wider without breaking it, etc.  These “secrets” along with the well- organized sections for various types of pastry was a hit for me.  There are also sections on correct tools to use for specific types of pastry cooking and descriptions of ingredients and why one kind works best in a certain type of pastry over another.  The recipes also come with “variation” instructions.  For example if you’re favoring apple over blueberries the recipe will tell you how to change that part of the recipe and still have a delicious finished product.  Or the variation could be from different countries how an item is made such as Belgium or French method for Puff Pastry.  The only thing that detracted from the beauty of this book was the lack of photographs of finished pastries inside the book.

I received this book free from the publishers and was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Story of God's Love for You by Sally Lloyd-Jones

When I say this is the best book ever, ever, ever!  I could keep on going with the "evers".  This book is the text only edition of The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones.  This edition is for appeal to older children and teens.  I understand this because I first read the illustration version as a Kindergarten teacher and thought "Everyone should have this book!"  I wanted it for myself as a devotional book.  The way the author writes is just pure genius, pure love and warmth and comfort.  Every single page pours out God's love to you in a personal way as you read the story of humanity from Creation to the Fall to all the ways God endeavors to show us His love all the way to the cross where Jesus brought God down to us in His body broken for us.  If I only had one book to give someone (besides the Bible itself) to help someone see God's unconditional and relentless love for us it would be this book.  The beauty of it is that author created an illustrated version that very young children will enjoy and this version for older children to absorb and treasure.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Near and Far by Heidi Swanson

Reading this cookbook is a little like making friends with the author in her hometown in California and then getting postcards from her as she travels the world.  Her world recipes come from Japan, India, Italy, France and Morocco.  What I found fascinating about this book is that with each recipe she had a side stripe that gave interesting tidbits from history and culinary insights to the "rare" or "exotic" ingredients used in the recipe.  This was a fun addition to the cookbook.  The recipes sound delicious and the photographs will make your mouth water.  At first I thought the recipes would be too hard to actually make and that I would just enjoy browsing through the photographs and learning about new ingredients that I'd never tried.  But the recipes are not difficult to follow and in fact are much simpler to create than they look.  The little bit of effort to find the unusual ingredients is worth it.

I received this book free from the publishers for my honest review and was not required to write a positive review.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Luther and Katharina by Jody Helund

Surprising details of the personal life of Luther are given in this enticing tale of the Reformation.  A hard look at the real life weaknesses and fears of the great leader are given in a story woven with sentimental romance and earnest religious zeal for truth.  Luther and Katharina had anything but a typical courtship, yet the strong devotion they had for each other is evident in the pages of this book.  Read this book to discover how God can still use people even with all their blundering errors and misguided pride to change the world.  The amazing true historical facts contained in this novel will make you want to learn more of the heritage of the Protestant Reformation Movement.  This book also speaks to the fact that there are always good and evil are both sides of a disagreement, war or reformation.  It brings out the great longing of the human heart to find a place of safety, love and belonging and points to God as the one who truly gives this to us.

I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

God Bless Our Fall by Hannah C. Hall, Illustrated by Steve Whitlow

This book just makes my heart happy!  Soft, soothing fall colors with adorable animal families fill the pages.  The words lend themselves to a calming bedtime routine or a morning worship time with a little one.  The author chose activities that a young child would be familiar with and could relate to.  Such fun times as roasting marshmallows over a bonfire, going to the pumpkin patch, attending a harvest fair, baking pies and playing in leaves.  These events evoke a feeling of happy contentment while pointing back to God as the source of all that is good and the One who blesses us with these things.

I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Thankful by Eileen Spinelli

Eileen Spinelli has done it again!  This a fantastic kid's book.  I found it a very unique "thankfulness" book.  The ideas and thoughts are ones children can relate to but not the common ones usually found in a thanksgiving theme book.  For example Spinelli writes:  The artist is thankful for color and light.  How unique is that?  And how about this thought:  The chef is thankful for plates licked clean.  Can't you just imagine a child laughing over that line?  The best part of this book is that each page features a brother and sister duo.  The chef is their dad!  The artist is the brother and so on.  Archie Preston illustrations add a depth of warmth to this already wonderfully love filled book.  I'm a kindergarten teacher and a grandmother and I plan to get this book for my classroom and my grandchildren!

I received this book free from the publishers and was not required to write a positive review.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Plans I have for You by Amy Parker

Best scripture picture book!  This picture book is based on Jeremiah 29:11 "I know the plans I have for you, " declares the Lord, "Plans to prosper you and not harm you, to give you hope and a future."  Each page has cheerful, positive illustrations that pop out at the reader with joy.  Each passage tells of ways God plans for the child from birth through adulthood.  The pages reveal over and over the ways that God has provided plans for each child's personality and gifts that God bestows Himself.  The plans of God are shown to be exciting, fun-filled, full of variety and something to look forward to.  This is the perfect book to help little ones understand their unique value in God's eyes and His specific, detailed plan of love for each life.

I received this book free from BookLook for my honest review and was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Through Waters Deep by Sarah Sundin

My first experience reading Sarah Sundin and I'll be back for more!  This book gave me something no other Christian romance has ever given me.  The author through the characters addressed some incorrect beliefs that Christians hold that can ruin their self-esteem and their relationships with others. Ms. Sundin skillfully crafts an intriguing story about a young women who don't understand that God wants us to shine not hide our talents under a bushel.  Through the false "spiritual" reprimands of her pious mother a young girl is made to feel that when she feels good about an accomplishment that God will punish her for her pride.  Throughout the story the reader is led to see the difference between being prideful in ways that hurt others and being thankful for the gifts and talents God has given to each one of us.

The story is filled with interesting historical facts about WWII especially in reference to the United States Navy and women working to help the government on the homefront.  I have read a lot of books about WWII but learned so many new facts in this book.

The love story was more than a romantic tale.  It actually teaches some good, sound advice on relationships and being open to grow closer to people.  But it's all done in such an entertaining way you don't feel like you're reading a "how to" manual but you're getting a fun, thought-provoking, interesting peek into the past that could actually help you right now with a relationship.

I received this book free from Revel and was not required to write a positive review.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Autumn Brides by Kathryn Springer, Katie, Ganshert and Beth K. Vogt

I recently have become a fan of novellas!  It's a fun way to read a snippet from new authors and see if that author touches a place in your heart.  And if an author featured is one of your favorites already like Katie Ganshert is for me, then you don't want to miss anything they write!

This book has three sweet, romantic tales of friendships that blossomed into love.  I really enjoyed the characters and what they stood for.  Spiritual truths and sound advice on relationships is given in each story but in a way that is entertaining and thought provoking not preachy.

There's variety in the stories too.  You'll read and learn about cooking schools, chefs, police work, veterinarians, and what a treaddesk is!  Each story has interesting plots and endearing characters that you can't help but fall in love with yourself.

I received this book free from BookLook for my honest review and was not required to write a positive review.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Celeste Ng is a genius with complex human emotions and relationships.  This books deals with heart rending pain from the different angles of a family torn apart seemingly by the tragic death of a child.  However as the book delves into each family member's reaction to the death we see that this family was actually fractured long before the death occurred.  The real beauty of this book is that the raw, ragged pain leads to a deeper understanding and healthier love.  It also shows that love while real can also be wounding to another when misunderstood or misplaced in its emphasis on the wrong things.  I could not do justice to this book no matter how glowing of a review I write.  You just have to see for yourself.  One word of caution:  This is an extremely painful book to read and I could hardly bare to turn each page to read more as tears streamed down my face and yet at the same time I couldn't stop reading because I had to know more of WHY?  The whys and yes I do mean plural, grow more and more painful and yet the ending of this book is so beautiful that when I finished reading the book I thought, "Well done Ms Ng!" and wanted to give her a standing ovation as more tears streamed down my face.

Among the Fair Magnolias by Tamera Alexander, Shelley Gray, Dorothy Love and Elizabeth Musser

A perfect snippet of  romance Southern Belle style!  Also a wonderful way to find out if you enjoy an author by reading a book with four different authors each writing a novella.  And this book will not disappoint you.  Four great authors with four stories you won't want to miss.

Tamera Alexander has become one of my new favorite authors.  When you read her story "To Mend a Dream" you will know exactly what I mean.  She never fails to have a marvelous mixture of a gripping tale, spiritual encouragement and awe inspiring dialogue between characters.  I find myself writing bits and pieces of her character's conversations in my prayer journal to remind myself of spiritual truths she presents in story form.  She is such a wonderful author I have to give her this paragraph all to herself while reviewing Among Fair Magnolias.

I invite you to read this book and discover all four of these authors if you've never read them before and if they are already among your favorites well you know you just can't miss this book!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Curiosity Keeper by Sarah E. Ladd

A peek into the early 1800s this book describes the drastic differences between the lords and ladies and the working classes of England.  I found the description of a curiosity shop fascinating.  I had no idea such a thing existed way back in the 1800s.  The contrast with Camille's life experiences and those of the Gilchrist children was amazing.  I enjoyed the way the author portrayed Camille.  While she was a gentle, unassuming soul she did not lack courage, determination or intelligence.  The way she thought her way through the many complications that arose in this story was believable and interesting to read.  I was happy that Camille wasn't just another female who needed to be rescued but figured out a lot of things on her own.  I would recommend this book and this author to others.

I received this book free from BookLook for my honest review and was not required to write a positive review.

Her Brother’s Keeper by Beth Wiseman

Dealing with a very hard topic in a tender, beautifully spiritually comforting way – Ms Wiseman takes the reader through a journey in grief to consolation and recovery.

Charlotte decides that if no one else wants to explore the reasons for her brother’s death, she will be the one to find out once and for all what really happened.  She disguises herself as an Amish cousin and imbeds herself totally in the lifestyle and in the home of her brother’s fiancee’s family.  As she begins to uncover bits and pieces of the mystery of her brother’s life and love among the Amish community she also discovers things about herself that she’s kept shoved down inside.  Charlotte is surprised by what she learns about her brother but even more so by what she finds in the home of Hannah, the young woman who loved her brother. 

This book teaches a profound truth that even when we are not looking for God – He is always searching for us and wooing us to Him.  God understands our woundedness and true longings  and gives us the desires of our heart through our relationship with Him.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Street Vegan by Adam Sobel

An interesting look at Vegan cooking!  Unique recipes with flavorful twists and turns.  Personal antidotes from the author are included about how he got started with the adventure of cooking and his food truck.  Sobel includes a handy list with detail explanation on items found in his pantry.  Ethnic foods are listed with ways they are most often used.

While some of the ingredients may be unfamiliar it is well worth the effort to find them and use them in these delicious recipes.  The presentation of the foods in the photographs of this recipe book make your mouth water.  I enjoy how there is a wide variety of flavors, textures and colors in this recipe book.

I received this book free of charge from blogging for books for exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The LIttle Paris Bookshop by Nina George

I have a love/hate relationship with this book.  The hate part is I don't like the heroine's love affair with two men at the same time.  I had forgotten this was translated from French and that their views are much more open about relationships than I am accustomed too.  It rubs me the wrong way to imagine, read about or condone being involved with two men at the same time.  Having said that let me tell you about what I love about this book.

The author creates complex characters that you're not sure if you even like but end up loving.  I enjoyed the way the relationships developed between various characters.  As the reader discovers what each character's hidden pain is you are drawn into the story more and more deeply.  At times the tale felt too heartbreaking to continue reading.  Yet I couldn't stop turning the pages.  The amazing way friendships and soulmates find each other in this book leaves a warm glow in the heart.

The core of this book is about forgiveness to others and to oneself.  Love in many different forms and ways of expression are validated in this story.

The best part of this book is the way that the seemingly random ways one person comes into another's life led to deep healing and profound love over and over throughout the story with a wide cast of different personalities.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Bread and Butter by Erin McKenna

What a delightful recipe book!  Erin McKenna shows us the FUN in gluten-free breads!  She gives a tasty array of scrumptious bread recipes that are healthy and safe for the gluten-free person to indulge in.   Maybe you picked up this book because you are gluten-free because medical health restrictions.  I can guarantee you won't be disappointed in this book.  But you don't have to be on a gluten-free diet to enjoy and be enticed to try these amazing recipes.

This recipe book isn't written by a dreamer.  It is written by Ms McKenna who herself adheres to a gluten-free diet.  Not only does she eat these breads herself, she sells them in her own bakery, BabyCakes, in New York!  So to say these recipes are tried and true is an understatement.

The book begins with a chapter on assistance with understanding and stocking your pantry with the correct ingredients.  She explains which ingredients can be swapped and which must be used exactly as prescribed.  The next chapter is a very useful one called:  The Help Desk.  This contains frequently asked questions about making gluten-free breads.  Then we get into the good stuff - the recipes themselves!  Breakfast breads, hearty breads, sandwich breads...but there's more!  Yes, even pizza and focaccia, foreign breads, pastries, cookies and sweets.  She even added a chapter just for dips, dressings, sauces, spreads and butter.  Every recipe is gluten-free and vegan!  Which is a real plus!

I must give a nod of approval to the photography in this exceptional book!  I turned a page and raised my hand to flick off the crumbs from the page.  I literally laughed out loud at myself because it was a photograph of bread with crumbs!

I received this book free from the publishers and was not required to write a positive review.

Once Upon a Summer by Melody Carlson

This book is an interesting look at the behind the scenes workings of a fine hotel.  The reader is drawn into the hustle and bustle of New York City life when Anna arrives from her small hometown.  We see the glitter of the Big Apple through her eyes.  Ms Carlson excels in descriptive scenes not just in a geographical sense but in pull of the heartstrings in her characters.  The description of the characters first day spent together was so amazingly written that I had tears by the end of that section for the pure joy they felt in each other’s company.

I’ve read many books by Melody Carlson and enjoyed every one, this book included.  However, this book, unlike many of her others, did not have the characters in a vibrant relationship with Christ.  I was disappointed in that fact because I really, really liked the main characters and their interactions with each other.  There were only a few times it mentions praying over a meal.  But in their angst to balance their professional lives vs their growing attraction to each other God is not brought into the story at all.  I have seen Ms Carlson do this in other books so I kept waiting for this to be included in the story and it was not. 

The ending of the book was very suddenly almost like the brakes were put on.  The conclusion at the end of this book was extremely abrupt.

I would recommend this book to others as an interesting read with strong, likeable characters and a chaste love story.  But if you are looking for a love story where the characters go to God for guidance this is not the book for you.

I received this book free from the publishers for my honest review and I was not required to write a positive review.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Cookie Love by Mindy Segal with Kathy Leahy

Yum!  That is the first word that comes to mind when opening up this gorgeous cookie recipe book!  The descriptions leave your mouth watering.  The bright, beautiful photographs make you feel like you could just reach out and take a cookie off the plate.  Mindy is a creative genius not just in the writing of this recipe book but in the layout of it and her incredibly helpful hints.

The book is laid out in sections according to types of cookies.  These include:  drop, shortbread, sandwich, egg white, spritz, thumbprints, twice-baked, ruglelach/kolachkes, and bars. 

The author also has a section for measurement conversions.  She tells you how to stock your pantry with the basics for cookie baking ease. She devotes a chapter to various “tools” one would use most often and for speciality cookies.  One of the amazing sections I found most interesting and useful was the section called:  Tricks of the trade. This details how to best to store each type of cookie, how to measure certain types of ingredients, how to treat various types of dough, what types of heat sources work best for the cookie you’re creating, how to mix and combine ingredients, shaping and decorating and dipping cookies.  Mindy Segal has thought of everything to make cookie making a delight!

I received this book free from the publishers and was not required to write a positive review.  

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Love Arrives in Pieces by Betsy St. Amant

The best part of this book was the dedication page.  You'll have to pick up the book to read it for yourself!

The story is about two sisters with a domineering mother.  Both sisters have suffered from deep hurts due to breakups with the men they loved.  Now Kat is happily married awaiting the arrival of her first child.  Meanwhile Stella is thrust into a business working relationship with Kat's ex.  But it's a bit more twisted than that as the story reveals that Stella and Kat were both involved with Chase, the ex, at the same time and that he drove the sisters apart.  The story goes on to develop the relationship between Chase and Stella and Kat's acceptance of them as a couple at the end.

This book bothered me from the start but I kept questioning myself saying:  Who I am to question what could happen?  At first I felt the way the events happened in this book were really far fetched.  I don't mean in a fairytale, happily-ever-after way.  We all like a bit of romantic perfection at times.  But the emotions of the characters I had a hard time relating to.  It felt like they went from one extreme to another.  From out right disgust to calm acceptance and even joyful affirmation.

However, the story was interesting and had some excellent points of working through grief issues in connection with painful breakups.  So if you can get past the sisters sharing an ex it's worth a read.

I received this book free from the publishers in exchange for my honest review and was not required to write a positive review.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Mapmaker's Children by Sarah McCoy

Fascinating tale of the daughter of John Brown who is infamous for the Harper's Ferry massacre legended to have sparked the Civil War.

The author goes back and both between the 1860's with Sarah Brown's first person account mixed with letters between herself and a beloved friend and a modern day woman living in a house that once was a safe house for slaves.

Sarah Brown's story takes us through emotional and moral dilemmas from her father's martyrdom for the cause he believed in, to Quaker non-violent beliefs, to the underground railroad, sacrificial love and how far does one go for the sake of another's life and happiness.  Historical facts are brought to light through the voice of this young woman caught up in a time of turmoil for our country.

As the Andersons uncover different artifacts in their home they realize it may indeed be a historical house linked to slavery times.  In the discovery of the story behind the items found they discover things about themselves as individuals and as a couple.

I absolutely loved the Sarah Brown portion of the story.  The Anderson's story took a while to grow on me and felt slightly slow paced but the ending of their portion of the story is well worth the wait and is fabulously satisfying!

I received this book free from the publishers and was not required to write a positive review.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

In Firefly Valley by Amanda Cabot

To say I have a new favorite author is an understatement!  This book was absolutely fantastic on so many levels!  First of all it brought deep spiritual truths into the story naturally and realistically.  The love story was the sweetest one I’ve read in a long time, but it was not a predictable love story at all.  It had twists and turns, and nail biting episodes that had me guessing till the end.  I was impressed with the mature way love was displayed in this story on all fronts with the various characters.  This book is not some fairytale romance but rather a tale of characters with real issues, fears, heartaches and hang-ups.  The author deals with each issue in a detailed, emotionally healthy and spiritual rich way.  The description of landscape, cabins, cooking and friendships will make you wish you could take a little trip to Dupree and visit Firefly Valley yourself!

I received this book free from Revell in exchange for my honest review and was not required to write a positive review.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert

I devoured this book!  I got home to find it waiting for me on my doorstep and began to read it and continued nonstop!  If you're a Katie Ganshert fan I have to tell you this is her best book ever and I've loved all of them.  If you're never read one of Katie's books before you will be more than pleasantly surprised by her wit and wisdom.

Ms. Ganshert takes some very tough topics and deals with them beautifully and sensitively in this story.  You'll find characters dealing with infertility, marital discord, teenage angst, broken homes, alcoholic parents, racial discrimination, bi-racial marriages and more.  And while it may seem that is is multitude of issues to deal with in one book Ms Ganshert weaves it all together in a smooth and yet fascinating fashion.

The reader hears the voice of teen Gracie with equal authenticity as her young adult half sister Carmin.  Ms. Ganshert has a definite gift for first person story telling.  In the words and thoughts of each character we are led into examining ideas of part-time Christians versus living a life for Christ in every aspect of our lives.  And as the characters question where is God in their pain and how does God fit into romance and family and fun the reader sees God as One who could be the friend you've longed for.

A gritty book that when you're done reading it your own heart will have been touched and changed by God' grace.

I received this book free from the publisher for my honest review and I was not required to write a positive review.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

To Win Her Favor by Tamera Alexander

This story takes place in the time immediately after the civil war ends.  While slaves are free there is still a lot of hostility and cruelty dealt to the people of African descent.  Along with this long standing prejudice there is also restrictions to Irish immigrants and to women brought out in this book.  Many unknown facts regarding this are dealt with in story filled with romance, mystery and high suspense.

Ms Alexander is a master story teller.  You feel what the characters are feeling.  It is as if you're with them in their angst, joy and confusion.  She makes you see the beauty of the land, the magnificence of the thoroughbred, the details of the lace on a jacket.  She has magic with her use of words that helps the reader see the individual characters' flaws and strengths and emotions.  She makes them real.

I find Tamera Alexander's books to be filled with many social and moral dilemmas that she addresses with solid facts and spiritual insight.

This book was different from others I have read of hers in that in the marriage of the two main characters she has several love scenes.  I felt uncomfortable with these as they had details that led the mind to imagine intimate physical love.  While I believe this is a God given gift for married couples I do not think that Christians need to read about this in detail.

Aside from that one note that I feel needs to be said - this is an excellent historical novel.

I received this book free from the publisher and was not required to write a positive review.

Friday, May 8, 2015

No Place to Hide by Lynette Eason

When I picked up this book I realized it was called a romantic suspense book but it was also listed as a Christian book.  I was shocked at how much violence was in this book.  True it was tuned down, not a lot of gory detail but still violent.  People get shot in the eye, a whole family with mother, father and teenage children are killed point blank.  Even that bit of detail for me is too much violent detail for a faith based book.  The murders kept coming in this book. 

My other bone to pick with this book is that God is not brought into the picture until near the end of the book.  And even at that point the references to Him are not fully developed.  For example one character asks, “Why did you hold on to your faith and I didn’t?”  I found the response rather flippant:  I guess it’s just different personalities.

I felt this book was an exciting thrill ride but lacked  the moral fiber to hold it together as a spiritually uplifting book.  The main character asks some good questions about faith and trusting God and who God is.  But I found the answers given to her lacked conviction and substance.  In real life if I were given those answers I probably would not pursue looking into Christianity.

It was also unfathomable to me how the one character was portrayed as having a strong faith and walk with God and yet he proposes to someone who still barely offered a prayer.  And her prayer was offered during a life threatening experience.  Prior to that prayer she was still bitter, doubting God, had not surrendered her heart to God or begun a relationship with him. The Bible speaks of being unequally yoked and this book just moved too quickly and unrealistically from point A to point B. 

In short: Yes an enticing, entertaining read but don’t expect deep spiritual truths or “aha” moments in this story.

I received this book free from the publishers and was required to write a positive review.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Reservations for Two by Hillary Manton Lodge

Drawn in from the first paragraph - I couldn’t put this book down and that is how I was with the first book in this series.  I can’t wait for the third book to come out!  This is book two in the Two Blue Doors series by Hillary Manton Lodge.

There are many reasons that I enjoyed this book and its predecessor.  One reason is that each story has twists and turns that don’t always come to a clean conclusion – just like real life.  Juliette faces challenges on multi-levels of her life from career to romance to family relationships.  An added bonus is recipes described in the story are given in the book.  

While the story takes us through Juliette’s current life experiences it also shows us glimpses into her grandmother’s life and the time period of WWII as Juliette discovers and reads letter between her grandmother and his great aunt.  Through the letters between the sisters a lot of wisdom is imparted to Juliette about facing tribulations, grief, shunning and starting over with God’s grace and help.

I received this book free from the publishers and was not required to write a positive review.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Green River by WonKyeong Lee

Green River
WonKyeong Lee
Illustrated by HyeWon Yang

Little Beaver Kobe loves his home on the Green River.  There were many trees and many fish.  But people also loved Green River.  They came with their cars and caught the fish.  They had picnics and left their litter.  Green River became dirty with trash.  Beavers got hurt by broken glass or plastic rings.  The beavers held a meeting to discuss what to do.  Most of the beavers wanted to move away from Green River.  Kobe wanted to keep his home and voted to clean up the river.  No one would listen.  Kobe decided to do the work himself.  He began by clearing trash. He worked morning, noon and night.  When the other beaver’s saw what he was doing they made fun of him.  They told Kobe that he was strange and that he smelled bad.  But Kobe kept working.  Just when the beavers were ready to move they noticed that Green River was cleaner.  Some of Kobe’s friends decided to follow him and see what he did with the trash he took away.  Kobe told his friends he had a secret plan to clean the river and do something else with the trash.  Soon the other little beavers were helping with the secret plan as they hauled away trash each day.  The adult beavers began to wonder what the little beavers were up to.  They followed the little beavers.  They were surprised when they saw the trash had been cleaned and had been made into a little beaver playground. The adult beavers were amazed and ashamed.  They decided to stay in their home at Green River.  From then on they helped with the trash clean up.  This book contains real projects children can participate in to help keep their community clean.  It gives ideas for crafts made from cleaned “trash items”.  There are also helpful suggestions for parents and teachers to encourage and educate children about recycling.

I received this book free from the publishers in exchange for my honest review. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Surprise Prize by Anita Yasuda

The Surprise Prize
Anita Yasuda
Illustrated by Steve Harpster 

Sara the Triceratops is excited to eat her Dino Delights cereal.  If she saves enough box tops she can get a prize.  Sara and her friends Dot the Diploddocus, Cory the Corythosaurus the TY the T. Rex all have fun guessing what the prize can be.  Is it a balloon, a car, or a boat that they could use to travel on adventures?  What could it be?  Sara decides it is simply a mystery.  She eats the Dino Delights cereal for meals and snacks.  She is eager to get her prize.  The day finally arrives when she has enough box tops saved.  She sends away for the prize and waits.  When the truck arrives with the box containing her surprise she calls her friends.  Dot, Cory and TY all stand around the box as Sara opens it.  To her astonishment it contains many boxes of Dino Delights Cereal!  Although Sara cannot bear to eat one more piece of Dino Delight cereal she chooses to be thankful.  She gladly shares the boxes of cereal with her friends.  This book contains a parent page for tips on how to get the most out of the book.  Tips include ways to help your child with compression, reading with expression, discussions on character and plot and much more.  The end page has a glossary of words and total of words contained in this book.

I received this book free from the publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

One, Two, Three…Jump! by Carol Thompson

One, Two, Three…Jump!
Carol Thompson
Illustrated by Carol Thompson

            Babies frolick in this cheerful little book all about different ways to jump.  One, two three babies jump!  Babies jump little and jump on the bed.  Babies jump up and down and land on their bottoms or their heads.  Babies jump like animals such as chickens, kangaroos and rabbits.  Babies jump in costumes and pajamas.  Babies jump alone or together.  Babies jump with a lot of laughter and fun.  Illustrations show the babies in gleeful expressions.  Their faces are filled with joy as they experiment with all types of jumping.  The babies are drawn to depict the beauty of different cultures.  The babies also have different styles of dress and different toys and objects with each one. All the babies are shown having fun and enjoying the time with their baby friends.  This is a book that concentrates on one activity:  jumping.  The art of baby jumping is shown to be a delightful occupation!

I received this book free from the publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Deception on Sable Hill by Shelley Gray

First I want to say that the author has some beautiful and meaningful things to say about self-worth and not letting a tragedy define who you are.  Ms Gray wrote some very profound conversations in regards to those subjects.

However, this book is part of a Chicago World’s Fair Mystery series.  This book had very little to do with the World’s Fair.  Brief mention is made of the fair but no details as to what was being presented during this time at the world’s fair.  I found that disappointing.  Along with this I found the plot a bit boring.  The romance section kept coming back to the same point over and over.  It didn’t seem to progress or move on and suddenly the couple was engaged.  It felt unrealistic.  The mystery part was not well developed and it was frustrating to just get snippets of that portion of the story but not enough to sink your teeth into.  I found myself waiting for something of significance to happen and it never really did.  It was a predictable plot and did not give me the intrigue I had hoped for.

I received this book from the publishers and was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Mike The Knight and Sir Trollee Adapted by Daphne Pendergrass

MikeThe Knight and Sir Trollee
Adapted by Daphne Pendergrass

            Mike the Knight wants to participate in a knightly tournament.  There is only one problem.  He has no one to compete against.  Suddenly he has a brilliant idea.  He will ask his good friend Trollee to join him in the tournament games.  Trollee is thrilled to be asked to play in the tournaments.  His dream to be a knight is finally coming true.  But as each event takes place Trollee realizes he is unprepared.  He has never shot an arrow from a bow.  He doesn’t own a real shield.  He has never even practiced balancing on a log.  In each event Mike the Knight far outshines Trollee.  Mike the Knight’s arrow hits the bull’s eye.  Mike the Knight’s shield protected him.  Mike the Knight could roll the log around the entire arena.  Mike the Knight was having so much winning each event that he didn’t notice the discouragement of his good friend Trollee.  When Trollee gives up and leaves the tournament Mike recognizes that the games were not fair.  Mike the Knight decides that it is time to act like a true Knight.  He finds his friend Trollee and begins to train him in various knightly activities.  They continue the tournament and Trollee wins some of the games.  They both end up champions.  This book takes a high adventure tale and turns it into a compassionate story of true friendship, honorable conduct and good sportsmanship.  The story is told in child friendly language to get the important points across to young children.

I received this book free from the publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, April 13, 2015

More or Lessby Bettina Takacs

More or Less
Content Consultant Bettina Takacs
Design by Keith Plechaty

This handy sized board book teaches a toddler about the concepts of “more” and “less.”  Each page has colorful photos of objects that would be familiar to a toddler.  On one side of the page it shows the item that is “more”.  An example from the book is a photograph of four balls.  The caption reads “Four is more than two.”  On the corresponding page is a photo of two balls.  The caption on that page reads “Two is less than four.”  The book continues in this pattern with photographs of kittens, cookies, blocks, and pumpkins.  The conclusion page has miniature photos of the entire book and a question at the bottom of the page.  The question is:  “What is more?”  “What is less?”  The child is encouraged to point to the various photos.  The back page gives parents and caregivers an idea of how to play the “more and less” game in a toddlers daily life.  Ideas include meal time and play time and stacks of objects symbolizing more and less. This is a board book which makes it easy for toddlers to grip and turn pages while the story line is detailed enough to intrigue preschool children.  The story is cleverly designed to entertain and inform at the same time.

I received this book free from the publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Willow’s Boy-Crazy Birthday by Jen Jones

Willow’s Boy-Crazy Birthday
Jen Jones
Illustrated by Jen Jones

This chapter book starts with an introduction of the main characters.  A page is dedicated to each girl:  Maren, Willow, Delaney, and Ashley.  Each girl is described by their personality, talents, fashion style and dreams.  In the first chapter we discover that Willow has a twin brother.  Their birthday is coming up and their mom suggests a double party where both of the children invite their friends.  This is the first ever co-ed party for Willow and her brother Win.  The theme is Halloween and Birthday mixed together.  Willow suddenly finds herself jazzed about the idea and quickly shares it with her best friends:  Maren, Delaney and Ashley.  The plot thickens as the girls try to think of the best costumes to wear, who to invite, what food to have and what games to play.  Willow learns a lot about including others and enjoying the company of true friends rather than impressing those who don’t really care about her.

I received this book free from the publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Creole Princess by Beth White

The Creole Princess takes us to a perilous time in the Gulf Coast of America.  The story takes place during the late 1700s.  The story has many twists and turns with a lot of characters. 
White does an excellent job or portraying realistic spiritual struggles and growth.  She gives a lot of historical detail to this little known part of American history.  She weaves into the story interesting facts regarding social status, political climate, dress and foods of the Gulf Coast culture as well as spiritual insights. 

The story is intriguing, however some characters were not fully developed.  Some of the main characters stories ended abruptly or the characters did not behave in a manner that was realistic.  The book did not tell the why and how about some of the key events that led up to where the main characters are at the point of this story.  I’ve read the first book in this series and the answers are not there either.  So I kept waiting for things to be revealed or made clear or explained and it didn’t happen.  This brought a feeling of confusion and frustration.

I received this book through Revell book publishers and was not required to write a positive review.

The Legacy by Dan Walsh & Gary Smalley

This is the fourth book in The Restoration Series.  The focus is on the youngest son of Marilyn and Jim.  Throughout the story the reader is lead to feel the emotions of the different key characters:  Doug, his parents, his siblings and his closest friends:  Jason and Christina.
  Doug is the youngest of three children and away at college.  During his time there he begins to experiment with independence, but not always in the healthiest of ways.  He gets involved with a group of kids who smoke pot and have beer parties on the beach.  Their self-centered life style begins to rub off on Doug.  As he tries to balance two different lives, the one his family upholds with Christians values and the one his friends promote with self-indulgence, he finds that instead of feeling free, he feels in turmoil.  The turmoil peaks just when a tragic accident occurs with life altering impact.

Walsh and Smalley make a great team.  Although I’ve read many books on “wayward” children.  This is the first book I’ve read that really addresses sincere, Christian parents who have done their best but still have a child walk away from the Lord.  Most books cast blame on the parents.  This book does an excellent job of showing where each person (including parents) need to take responsibility but it also helps a grieving parent realize there’s a point where no matter how much you did right a child may still choose to turn away from God.  Told in story form the message of this book is a profoundly healing book filled with hope, forgiveness, unconditional love and God’s power.

I received this book through Revell book publishers and was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Amazing Stardust Friends Step into the Spotlight by Heather Alexander

The Amazing Stardust Friends Step into the Spotlight
Heather Alexander
Illustrated by Diane Le Feyer

Marlo and her mom start a new life as part of the Stardust Circus.  This chapter book deals with the subject of being abandoned by a father.  The author focuses on the positives of the close relationship the child has with her mother.  Marlo has many adventures being part of a circus act.  She also longs to be part of the circus family.  The story details the hard work of traveling with circus animals and practicing to make each act memorable for the audience.  The author describes each act and the preparations made to ensure safety and entertainment so the crowd will keep coming back for more.  A private teacher for the schooling of the children of the circus performers is part of the team.  Marlo learns to pitch in with the work involved, practice diligently to get her act right, and study hard to learn her lessons.  But most of all she wants to feel like she belongs.  This book has an excellent scenario when she confronts the other girls and asks why they don’t include her.  In the end Marlo not only learns to have self-confidence but she also gains the friendships she longs for.

I received this book free from the publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

This book will break your heart and then put it back together again!

A Sparrow in Terezin by Kristy Cambron

It was time for bed and I was just going to read a chapter before I went to sleep.  But when I started to read this book I couldn’t put it down and continued non-stop!  This is exactly how GOOD this book is!  This story will break your heart with its pathos and yet put it back together with the beauty of unconditional love and courage during the vileness of human atrocities.

Cambron weaves a story of modern day art collectors who face fierce trials in their professional and personal lives.  The story goes back and forth between their modern day lives and the life of woman journalist during WWII that gets sent to a concentration camp.  There are mysteries to be solved, questions of loyalty and who one can really trust and what does it mean to truly do as Jesus would do.

Carefully crafted with detailed historical accuracy blended with the human spirit of grit, hope and endurance combined with a faith the holds on with amazing love – This story is one that you will not forget.  This is the second book in “A Hidden Materpiece” series.  You won’t want to miss book one:  The Butterfly and the Violin.  These books are breathtaking in their raw pain that is superseded by God’s grace and love lived out by individuals in immense struggle.

I received this book from the publishers and was not required to write a positive review.

Monday, March 23, 2015

New Orleans Mother Goose by Ryan Adam

New Orleans Mother Goose
Ryan Adam
Illustrated by Marita Gentry

            Ryan Adam and Marita Gentry have created a book that take the familiar, favorite nursery rhymes and add a dash and splash and twist of New Orleans flavor thrown in.  Each nursery rhyme is retold using a smattering French words and unique New Orleans jargon.  Into this fun mix are added historical facts about how New Orleans came to be.  The author uses word pictures that perfectly describe the appeal of New Orleans.  The rhymes tell about important people to the history of this city and occupations such as bakers and fishermen, and various vendors that shaped the atmosphere of New Orleans.  The foods, traditions, and entertainment that New Orleans is famous for are interspersed throughout the verses.  There is even a bit of geography included in the poetry and hand drawn maps.  The poetry flows with fun cadences that are pleasant to the ear.  The illustrations are fun, frivolous, eye catching and memorable.

I received this book free from the publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Wild! Playtime by Courtney Dicmas

Wild!  Playtime
Courtney Dicmas
Illustrated by Courtney Dicmas

            This book lends itself to a lot of interactive play between child and reader of the book.  After reading the book or during the reading a child may want to experiment with the actions of the baby animals portrayed in this book.  Baby animals are present playing in movements that the real animal would do.  Puppies wag tails and wiggle.  Otters swim and play in the water.  Cranes duck their heads and wave their feathers.  Fox kits leap and pounce.  Kangaroo joeys leap, jump and bounce.  Lion cubs crawl and chew on dear old dad.  Each illustration is draw with happy, smiling creatures and demonstrates them having fun with their parents.  This book entertains while giving a realistic look at how baby animals play and interact with each other and their parents.  Each page has a different color background.  The animals are in soft muted shades with splashes of color in the plants or other objects in the picture.

I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Wood's Edge by Lori Benton is a complex emotional tale about forgiveness.  The story takes place during the late 1700s in what is now New York State.  The British colonists, British militia, French trappers and various Native American tribes interact in entwining commerce, political and personal ways.  

The story begins with the birth of three boys.  Twins born to one woman and a single baby boy born to another.  They are all born in Fort William Henry on the day of a savage attack.  In the confusions and chaos a British officer faces his own private torment when his newborn son dies hours after he is born.  The major's rash decision to switch his dead child for one of the living twins sets in motion consequences he could not possibly fathom at the time.  

The guilt and grief of the parents involved in this spellbinding story draw the reader in immediately and keep the reader there to the conclusion of the book. 

Questions arise in the story.  Does God punish us for our mistakes?  When is a mistake a sin?  Is there a sin that is unforgivable? Does God expect us to forgive someone who wronged us and altered the course of our life irrevocably?  What about forgiving one's self?  Is it possible?  What does God expect in terms of restitution for a wrong done to another?

Read this enthralling novel and find out answers that you might not have expected!

I received this book free from the publishers and was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Hey Baby, It’s Time to Come Out by Harriet Ziefert

Hey Baby, It’s Time to Come Out
Harriet Ziefert
Illustrated by Emily Bolam

  This book tells the story of the birth of a sibling in a sweet and simple way.  It begins with Max watching his Mommy’s tummy growing bigger and bigger.  He has lots of questions about the baby and is anxious to meet the baby.  The next pages are small flaps that when turned go through each day of the week beginning with Sunday.  On each day Max tries a different strategy to get the baby to come out.  On Saturday he finally decides to use reverse psychology and tell the baby it can stay inside his mommy’s tummy for as long as it wants.  Then next pages are filled with pictures of Max having fun.  He goes to the park, rides his tricycle swings, plays ball and takes a long walk with his parents.  Back at home grandma is waiting and they make a big batch of cookies.  Max makes a special cookie for his baby.  During the night while Max dreams his mother is taken to the hospital.  When he wakes up he goes to meet his brand new baby sister.  The book shares simple facts such as the baby grows inside the mother for nine months combined with feelings of expectation and wonder about having a sibling.  It also helps a young child with the concept of the days of the week and what it means to wait for something special. 

I received this book free from the publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Game Time, Mallory! by Laurie Friedman

Game Time, Mallory!
Laurie Friedman
Illustrated by Jennifer Kahlis

This chapter book is told in the first person.  Mallory takes the reader on a journey with her involving the first time her school had a girls’ basketball team.  Mallory’s excitement in the new league, uniforms and fame is somewhat dampened by some of her friends’ lack of enthusiasm to join up.  Despite the fact that Mallory’s best friends decline the invitation to join the basketball team Mallory finds that she can make friends with the other girls on the team.  The story explores individual initiative and goals balanced with team work and sportsmanship.  In humorous episodes throughout the book the author also helps readers understand that playing a sport isn’t all fun and games.  Through Mallory’s eyes and narrative the reader is drawn into the understanding that being on a team takes practice, dedication, commitment, perseverance and being able to adjust to difficult situations.  Mallory learns that having a good attitude is as important as being able to make a good shot.  The coach’s pep talk at the end of the book before their last game brings it all together.  As he reminds them to do their best and focus on the positive Mallory realizes it has been worth all the effort to be on the basketball team and that she has enjoyed herself. 

I received this book free from the publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Shapes that Go by Rebecca Bondor

Shapes That Go
Concept by Rebecca Bondor
Photographs by Scholastic   

This simple board book teaches shapes and colors through photographs of vehicles.  Each page shows a shape on the left hand side and on the right hand side a vehicle.  The first page has a red circle on the left hand side of the page.  On the right hand side of the page there is a photograph of a backhoe.  The tire of the backhoe is highlighted in red to make the red circle on the corresponding page.  The book continues in this manner with shapes square, rectangle, triangle and octagon.  The colors that are introduced are:  red, green, blue, yellow green and purple.  The vehicles are backhoe, garbage truck, bicycle, school bus and semi-truck.  On each page the child is asked to see each shape.  The last page has all the shapes and the child is asked to point to each one.  A note to parents and teachers says that the child can be asked to trace each shape and name the color of each vehicle.

I received this book free from the publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, February 23, 2015

God bless my Boo Boo by Hannah C. Hall

God Bless by Boo Boo by Hannah C. Hall and Illustrated by Steve Whitlow is a charming, soothing baby book.  The thick cover makes it durable and the cardboard pages make for easy turning for chubby, baby hands.  The comforting, lyrical prose on each page assures the child that any hurt can be soothed by a loving mommy, daddy or grandparent.  At the same time the words point to a loving Heavenly Father who heals our wounds.  The illustrations are endearing with various baby animals and an adult relative who helps in their time of need.  These animals include:  zebra, walrus, monkey, rabbit, elephant, alligator, flamingo, bear, porcupine and sloth.  The baby animals are depicted in scenes of things a human child would do.  These include playing on a jungle gym, getting an immunization at the doctor's office, having a splinter pulled out, falling and scraping a knee, etc.  The illustrations add warmth to the story.  The activities that the baby animals are involved with mirror things a child would experience and relate to and help keep the child engaged in the story to the end of the book. This is a satisfying book!

I received this book from the publishers and was not required to write a positive review.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Where’s My Fnurgle? by Jim Benton

Where’s My Fnurgle?
Jim Benton
Illustrated by Jim Benton

            This board book is an imaginative hide and seek game with Fnurgle.  Fnurgle is creature of whimsy and fantasy that loves to hide.  The book goes through different rooms in the house and the child is invited to try and find the hidden Fnurgle.  The book has rhyming words throughout the text for an enjoyable lyrical experience.  The simple text and bold, color rich illustrations will capture a young child’s attention.  The interactive manner of the book will make this a book a child will want to read over and over with a beloved care giver.  Benton has created a book that is sure to delight.

I received this book free from the publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Dinosaur Parade by Shari Halpern

Dinosaur Parade
Shari Halpern
Illustrated by Shari Halpern

            An endearing book of lovable dinosaurs begins with a little boy strategically placing his toy dinosaurs on the carpet of his bedroom. The author Shari Halpern uses the factual, scientific names for the dinosaurs but they are drawn in a child-friendly manner.   On each page Halpern has created intriguing dinosaurs in bright, beautiful colors.  The inside cover and back cover of the book give detailed facts on various dinosaurs.  The inside pages give basic facts.  Several pages deal with the size and shapes of dinosaurs including those that had armor, bills and wings.  Other pages discuss how the dinosaurs moved and whether they lived on the land, in the water or flew in the air.  Description is given to the difference between plant eaters and meat eaters.  There is even a page dedicated to the scary, mean dinosaurs and the cute, sweet looking dinosaurs.  This book educates while it delights young children.

I received this book free from the publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Dropped Off Dog (A Mostly-True “Tail”) by Catherine Lagorio

Dropped Off Dog (A Mostly-True “Tail”)
Catherine Lagorio
Illustrated by Robert Kelly

  This story is based on the true-life events surrounding the author adopting a stray dog.  Ms Lagorio has created a story from the abandoned dog’s view point.  The story begins with the dog being well cared for and loved in a nurturing environment.  Sudden illness takes his caregiver away.  The dog is left forgotten until a relative of his caregiver drops him off at the side of the road.  The stark contrast between his safe, loving home and being left to fend for himself in a desolate wooded area make his plight felt by the reader.  Mr. Kelley’s soft toned illustrations are a perfect complement for this poignant story with a tender ending.  This picture book is a lovely way to introduce responsibility and loyalty in pet care.  It is also a great way to begin a discussion with a child about animal shelters, rescue organizations and the local pound. 

I received this book free from the publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Barefoot Queen by Ildefonso Falcones

This is a tale of Caridad a former slave girl and Milagros a gypsy girl.  The story details differences in their coming of age years as well as their cultures.   But most of all it is a tale of an enduring friendship through misunderstandings, sufferings, separation, and strife.

Caridad arrives in Spain after her master dies onboard ship.  With no way to support herself she is mislead by “benefactor” who quickly uses her as means to gain money through prostituting her.  Caridad is eventually rescued from this ordeal by an elderly gypsy who is Milagros grandfather.

Milagros has been taught the art of seductive dance while keeping herself chaste.  This is as strict rule among the gypsies and she steps over the bounds when she dances too close to a rival gypsy’s young man.  This one misstep leads to many years of sorrow and hardache for Milagros and her family. 

Amidst this family turmoil comes the persecution of gypsies from the Catholic Church and Spanish government.  Milagros parents are thrown in prison for not adhering to church mandates.  Gypsies are rounded up because of the unsubstantiated view that their practice of telling fortunes is unholy and that they are thieves.  Much prejudice abounds for those who do not understand the culture of the gypsies.

A surprising hero arises in young Fray Joaquin who tries to protect the gypsies in his parish.  He heals rifts among the gypsies, accepts their ways and beliefs of the gypsies and tries to prevent their persecution.

The beauty of the friendship between Caridad and Milagros is ruined by the multiple graphic scenes of sexual abuse and sexual violence throughout the book. 

I acquired this book free from the publishers and was not required to write a positive review.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Jungle Babies of the Amazon Rain Forest: Squirrel Monkeys by Rachel Lynette

Jungle Babies of the Amazon Rain Forest:  Squirrel Monkeys

Rachel Lynette
Photographs by Shutterstock Images
            The book begins with an introduction to a baby squirrel monkey.  There is a physical description of the squirrel monkey that includes a little box at the bottom of the page with a shadow illustration of how large the adult squirrel monkey is compared to a human child.  An explanation is given of where they live with a map imposed onto the photos of the trees they inhabit.  The variety of sounds the squirrel monkeys make are described and explained. The author gives details on the squirrel monkeys development from birth to adulthood.  The babies are raised in family groups called troops.  She explains who their predators are, and how the mother protects and feeds her baby.  The mother gives special training to her babies to teach them how to find fruit and peel it.  At 18 months old the squirrel monkey is considered an adult.  Squirrel monkeys live in the same troop their entire lives.  The book concludes with an illustrated glossary. The closing page gives a list of books and an online website a child can explore for more information.   

I received this book free from the publishers in exchange for my honest review.