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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Summer's List by Anita Higman

Summer Snow has had a difficult life. She cared for her two ailing parents instead of going off to college with her friends. After her parents died, she took over for her grandmother in running a small bookstore that was owned by her grandmother. She has been engaged and recently broke off that engagement. She missed some fun things along the way and is beginning to realize that.

Her beloved grandmother makes a list for Summer of things she wants Summer to do that is outside of her comfort zone. One of them is to reconnect with Martin Langtree, a childhood friend, who she lost touch with many years ago. Besides giving her the list, Summer's grandmother tells her that she is dying and wants to see Summer begin doing the things on her list before she dies.

As Summer reconnects with Martin, she discovers that Martin has his own issues to deal with including having a dysfunctional family. As they begin to do some of the things on Summer's list, they begin to reconnect and realize their relationship goes deeper than friendship.

The characters are interesting and the plot is engaging. It is an enjoyable reading experience.
I received this book from Moody Publishers for this review.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Whatever Is Lovely - A Coloring Book for Reflection and Worship

Whatever Is LovelyI had heard about adult coloring books, but had not seen one until I saw "Whatever is Lovely." This is an absolutely beautiful coloring book intended to be used for quiet reflection and worship. Scripture, quotations and lyrics from familiar hymns are included in the artwork. This would be a great way to quiet your spirit and relax and use your creativity in coloring these beautiful and inspirational sayings. Suggested songs to listen to while you are meditating and coloring are listed in the back of the book. You can do this as an act of worship alone or join others as you color.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

I'm Happy for You (Sort Of...Not Really) by Kay Wills Wyma

I'm Happy for You (Sort Of...Not Really)Comparing ourselves to others is a deadly trap. It can lead to discontentment, envy and rob us of joy. Kay Wills Wyma discusses how we can find contentment in a culture of comparison through her experiences and the experiences of her children. As a mother of five, she has many illustrations of coping with friends who are thinner, wealthier, and have children who excel more than hers. In sharing about this, the author points out that we only see a "glimpse" of the other person's life and story and really do not know what is all going on with them in their life. I really appreciated her humor and practical wisdom in dealing with this topic.

Even though my children are grown and I am at a different stage of life than the author, I can still relate to the temptation of comparing myself and my life to others. I think it is a human tendency that everyone can relate to. I thoroughly enjoyed this thought provoking book, and will try to remember the next time someone goes on about all of their accomplishments or those of their children, to respond with "I am happy for you."

There are discussion questions at the back of the book which would make it a good choice for a book discussion group or as part of a Bible study. I highly recommend this entertaining and informative book.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Farewell Four Waters by Kate McCord

This book is based on real life events faced by the author and other aid workers in Afghanistan in 2008. The story is a fascinating one as the main character, Marie, comes to terms with a number of changes from a co-worker and roommate leaving, to the killing of an aid worker in Kabul and the start of a literacy program in a nearby village. Through Marie's eyes you get a close up view of the Afghan people and culture and the precautions taken by foreign workers to keep themselves out of harm's way.

Marie's descriptions of her relationships with the Afghan women and how she weaves her faith into everyday conversations with them is inspiring. While respecting the Afghan's Muslim beliefs she is able to share Messiah Jesus through her storytelling. Her love for the Afghan people is evident in all of her relationships. You also get a first hand account of the feelings involved when Marie and her coworkers have to evacuate their village on short notice.

I would highly recommend this book for a look at what it is to be a foreign aid worker in Afghanistan and an insight into the culture in Afghanistan. The culture is a complex one with the various ethnic group warring against each other. There seems to be no easy answers to bring about peace in this country.

I received this book from Moody Publishing for this review.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Tough As They Come By SSG Travis Mills


This inspiring story about a soldier who survived quadruple amputee injuries. At the time the book was published, he was only one of five who have survived. Travis Mills is a unique individual who chose to overcome his injuries with enormous willpower and endurance. His story includes his deployments in Afghanistan  and the missions he was involved in. After reading about the conditions in Afghanistan, I have an enormous amount of respect for all of  our soldiers who serve there under those challenging conditions.

Travis Mills relates his growing up years along with how he met and married his wife, Kelsey. Again, you get an insight into what families of our soldiers have to deal with. Much of the book deals with Travis' rehabilitation and recovery. It is an inspiring story of a soldier who was driven by love for his family and his country to overcome enormous challenges. His story is both heart wrenching and honest and you cannot help to be inspired and encouraged by it.

I received this book for this review from Blogging for Books.  

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Heaven Promise by Scot McKnight

This book about Heaven is an engaging look at what the Bible says about Heaven. The book is divided into four main sections: The Heaven Question; The Heaven Promise; God's Six Promises about Heaven: and Ten Questions about Heaven. The sections help to focus in on specific issues about Heaven in an organized manner.

There are four elements which shape everything about Heaven. They are: Heaven is a promise; Everything about this promise depends on Jesus' resurrection; In Heaven we will have resurrected bodies; and We will have embodied lives in the new Heavens and earth. Heaven is for those who long to gaze on the beautiful face of God. For those of us as Christians, we long to see a glimpse of God's glory. That will be fulfilled in Heaven. For now we have only an ultrasound image compared to the living interactive reality of God we will experience in Heaven.

The last section deals with questions about Heaven that are commonly asked. Some of the questions include: what about near-death experiences, who will be in Heaven, will there be pets in Heaven and will there be families?

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this informative approach to Heaven. It is the best book on Heaven that I have read and I would recommend it highly. 

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Refuge at Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky



Fans of Downton Abbey will enjoy  this series set in Edwardian England. "A Refuge at Highland Hall" is book three in the Edwardian Brides series. You can read this book as a stand alone novel without having read the first two books. However,  there are a lot of characters that were developed in the previous books so the list of characters in the front of the book is helpful.

As Britain is involved in World War I , Penny Ramsey leaves London with her married sister and brother-in-law who have taken in eight orphan children. They go to Highland Hall after the bombing begins in London. Penny develops a friendship with Alex Goodwin, a Royal Naval Air Service pilot in training.

As their relationship develops while Alex is at war, you get a sense of what a service pilot's life was like during the war as well as the hardships faced at home. Their relationship has some challenges as the realities of war and hardship hit home. For all of the characters, their faith in God is their anchor and hope during the challenging times.

 There are also some interesting side plots involving the interment camps for German men who happened to be living in Britain at the beginning of the war and the interaction of those Germans with the British people.

This is an enjoyable read for those who like historical romances set during World War I.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Friday, October 16, 2015

No Fear by Tony Perkins

This book by Tony Perkins is a collection of stories. These stories are of young people who have stood by their Christian convictions in very difficult situations. In spite of being harassed, even receiving death threats at times, each individual managed to persevere with grace and dignity. Each story also had a related story of a Biblical hero to illustrate the principles from each person's experience. In spite of the opposition these individuals experienced, they stood up for biblical truth and are an encouragement to all who seek to live out their faith.
 
There are questions for discussion at the end of each chapter to aid in its use in a small group setting.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Ghost Boy by Martin Pistorius

I thought this was an excellent memoir of a young man unable to communicate while being physically disabled. He was aware of all that was going on around him, and suffered some abuse at the hands of his caregivers at times. Fortunately those incidents of abuse were not frequent as he had a very caring family supporting him. His story is a good reminder to show compassion to those who are physically and mentally disabled and who have no voice.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Messy Grace by Caleb Kaltenbach

This is an intriguing book. The author is a pastor who was raised by LGBT parents and experienced the hatred of Christians first hand.  As he grew older he was introduced to the Christian faith and became a follower of Jesus Christ. Not long after he became a Christian he went to Bible College and there felt called into fulltime ministry.

The book's title says it all. It is messy balancing grace and truth when we as Christians encounter those who live a different lifestyle than ours. There are many good points the author makes throughout the book about how to live our lives in this balance. One of these is to continue to love people even when they live a way which is contrary to what God says. The over riding theme of the book is to build relationships in love  and pursue people in the LGBT community in the same way God pursues us.

This is not easy or comfortable, but God may be calling us to get out of our comfort zone to share the gospel. We do not need to change our beliefs and values to be in a relationship with another person. This tension that we feel between grace and truth is love.  The author shares a lot of his own story and his relationship with his parents. This adds to the book and illustrates a lot of the principles he shares.

This is a thought provoking book and I highly recommend this to Christians who are serious about living out their faith in what the author would call a "messy" way and be a loving presence in the lives of those who are different than us.

I received this book from "Blogging for Books" for this review.  

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

It's Good to Be Queen by Liz Curtis Higgs

I have to be honest, I have never given much thought to the Queen of Sheba. I was familiar with the mention of her visit to King Solomon, but did not think beyond that one event. Liz Curtis Higgs brings the Queen of Sheba alive through this fascinating and thought provoking research of Scripture.

The Queen of Sheba had to have certain qualities to enable her to embark on a long journey in search of the source of Solomon's wisdom and riches. She had to be independent, bold, confident in herself, but also willing to be teachable and to humble herself. In searching for the source of Solomon's wealth and wisdom, she discovered the God he served for herself.

Liz Curtis Higgs never disappoints the reader as she delves into the background of the story of the Queen of Sheba. The insights and truths she shares makes for fascinating reading and study. A study guide is included in the back of the book to aid in a group discussion. As you study the life of the Queen of Sheba you will discover some truths you can apply to your own life. I would highly recommend this study for any women seeking to learn and grow in God's Word  individually or as a group.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Luther and Katharina by Jody Hedlund

Political and religious intrigue in the 16th century is the setting for this historical work of fiction. Katharina von Bora is a nun at an Abbey and has no hope for life in the outside world until she began to read the writings of Martin Luther that were smuggled in to the  Abbey. She along with some of her fellow nuns escape during the night and are cared for by Martin Luther and his followers.

Luther's sweeping condemnation of the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church at that time period and his reformation of the Church puts his life and the lives of those closest to him in danger. Although attracted to each other, Katharina and Martin deny their feelings for one another. Martin, because he does not want to risk someone's else's life when his is in danger and Katharina mainly out of pride. The difference in their social status also plays a part in their hesitation to marry each other.

The historical context of the conflict between the peasants and nobility and the ongoing impact of Martin Luther's reformation of the Catholic Church makes for a fascinating background of their stories. The times were tumultuous and so is their relationship.  

I enjoyed this story and also discovering what life was like during that time period. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Second Street Station by Lawrence H. Levy


In the late 1800's, women are protesting to get the right to vote and also to be employed as police officers. Mary Handley from early on has desired to be a detective. She gets her chance by being hired by the New York Police Department to solve the murder of Charles Goodrich. This historical work of fiction is based on historical events and famous people of the time such as J.P. Morgan, Thomas Edison, and Nikola Tesla. The story gives you a glimpse of that time in New York City as well as the darker side of life there.

Mary herself is based on real person which makes the story all the more interesting. The plot keeps you engaged throughout the book and the activities of a hired killer makes for added suspense as well as the search to find the killer of Charles Goodrich.

This is an enjoyable historical mystery and the ending leads you to believe it will be the first in a series of adventures of Mary Handley.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Called for Life by Kent and Amber Brantly


"Called for Life" is the story of Kent and Amber Brantly who found themselves in the midst of the Ebola crisis in Liberia. The Brantlys along with their two small children, Ruby and Stephen, chose to life out their Christian faith in loving their neighbor by serving in Liberia. Kent was a doctor with World Medical Mission, the medical arm of Samaritan's Purse and in charge of the Ebola unit at a hospital in Monrovia, Liberia. As he cared for the patients with Ebola, he also contracted the disease and is eventually airlifted to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, where he is the first patient in the United States to be treated for Ebola.

This engaging story is not only about his battle with Ebola but about Amber and Kent, their courtship and marriage and their desire to serve in medical missions. Kent's battle with Ebola is described in detail to portray the horrible progress of the disease and its humiliating symptoms. The care he received from his fellow missionaries and health care workers in Liberia was truly heartwarming. As Kent prepared for his possible death, he shares his thoughts and feelings as well as the comfort and hope he has from his faith in Christ.

This is a very eye opening story about Ebola and the devastating progress of the disease. It is also a story of faith, hope, and loving your neighbor.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Still Life in Shadows by Alice J. Wisler


This is not your typical work of Amish fiction. Instead of a romanticized view of the Amish way of life, the author portrays some of the realistic problems that could happen in an Amish family.

Gideon ran away from his Amish family over 15 years ago and has adapted well in his new way of life as co-owner of an auto shop. He is known as the "Getaway Savior," a nickname he has earned by helping Amish youth leaving the Amish way of life adjust to a modern way of life. Even though he has escaped from the Amish way of life, he still bears the scars both physical and emotional from the abuse of his father and has a difficult time in developing meaningful relationships.

An autistic teen girl named Kiki enters his life along with her older sister Mari. He also gets reacquainted with his brother Moriah who has also left the Amish family they grew up in. Moriah has not adjusted to modern society as well as Gideon and brings a host of problems into Gideon's life.

Gideon struggles to help Moriah while feeling guilty and responsible for Moriah's poor choices. At the same time, he tries to come to terms with forgiving his abusive father and his need for forgiveness by God.

I enjoyed the story and the characters and felt they were for the most part well developed. The struggles were real and at times, heartbreaking. I would recommend this book for a different look at the Amish way of life.

I received this book from Moody Publishers for this review.

Monday, June 8, 2015

True Woman 201 by Mary A. Cassian and Nancy Leigh DeMoss


This study guide is one of the most engaging I have seen. The layout and photographs are beautiful. Based on the guidelines for women found in Titus 2, the book is a 10 week study with 5 lessons to be done individually each week. Highly recommended for women of all ages. This review was offered in exchange for a free review copy by the publisher.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Art of Losing Yourself by Kate Ganshert


By having the art of losing yourself, can you find yourself again in the midst of brokenness and pain?

As half sisters, Carmen and Gracie could not be more different. Carmen has great job as a meteorologist at the local TV station, has a high school football coach named Ben as her husband, lives in a nice house and goes to church on Sunday. From the outside it looks like she has a perfect life. Gracie on the other hand is a teenager who runs away from Carmen's and Gracie's alcoholic mother, gets in trouble at school and is an expert on pushing people away. As Gracie comes to live with Carmen and Ben, the brokenness of their lives comes to the surface.

Carmen is overwhelmed by the grief she is feeling after repeatedly having miscarriages. As she pushes Ben away in her grief, she throws herself into restoring a run down motel owned by her Aunt Ingrid. Ingrid is in a nursing home suffering from dementia and Carmen clings to the hope that restoring the motel can bring Ingrid and her some measure of peace and hope.

Gracie is also involved in the restoring of the motel as well as struggling to fit in at school. When a star football player befriends her, she is not sure she can trust him with who she really is. After so much rejection and loss in her life, Gracie struggles to find out who she is and who she wants to be. Along the way Gracie and Carmen work to repair their broken relationship.

This is a story that is hard to put down. The emotions are so raw and real that you feel as though you really know the characters. The story is not wrapped up neatly at the end but you feel a sense of hope in the ending.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Mapmaker's Children by Sarah McCoy


Sarah Brown is the daughter of abolitionist John Brown. After suffering an illness as a child, Sarah is unable to bear children so all of her passion and energy is poured into her father's work in the underground railroad. As a talented artist, Sarah incorporates symbols in her paintings, which in turn are maps for the underground railroad. She becomes one of the Underground Railroad's leading mapmakers. As tensions rise and the country is heading for the Civil War, Sarah's work becomes more important, but she has to make difficult sacrifices along the way.

Fast forward over 150 years later and Sarah's story is running parallel with that of Eden Anderson, a modern day woman struggling with infertility. Eden and her husband Jack have just purchased an old home in the suburbs of Washington D.C., and Eden discovers the porcelain head of a doll in an old root cellar of the house. This doll is the link to the underground railroad and the history of what happened in that home and to Sarah.

Both Eden and Sarah share the same struggles in not being able to bear children. I enjoyed Sarah's story much more than Eden's story. Eden was a difficult character for me to like. All in all, though the story of Sarah carries the day and makes this book an enjoyable one to read. The story of Sarah is based on the real Sarah Brown which makes the telling all the more interesting.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Reservations for Two by Hillary Manton Lodge


France, Italy, food, a long distance romance, and a mystery from the past are all included in this book which is the second in the "Two Blue Doors" series. Juliette was a food editor and now is embarking on managing a brand new restaurant with the help of her brother. She has a lot going on in her life besides a career change. Her mother is undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer, she is traveling to France to uncover a mystery involving her French grandmother and she is involved in a long distance romance with Neil. Neil is an immunologist in Memphis while Juliette's work and family are in Portland, Oregon.

As Juliette deals with the uncertainty in her life, she struggles to deal with her mother's illness and the long distance relationship and where it may be headed. Juliette discovers her grandmother's letters at the family chateau in France. She reads them on her return home to solve some questions about her grandmother and her life during World War II. The letters make for interesting reading and I thought they were the best part of the book. The letters may guide Juliette in dealing with her present challenges.

Cooking and food is very much a part of the book and there are recipes interspersed throughout the book. Culinary enthusiasts will enjoy that part of the book. I did not read the first book and was lost as to the story line in the beginning of the book. I think it may be difficult to initially get into the book if you have not read the first book in the series.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A Nice Little Place on the North Side by George F. Will


This is a wonderful book for die hard Cub fans. The author takes a look at the Cubs baseball team and their historic home, Wrigley Field. As Wrigley Field enters its second century, George Will takes a look at this iconic field and the up and down (mostly down) history of its ball team. The book is a collection of many stories of past teams and important events and the personalities that have come to be associated with the team. I was especially interested to learn why the outfield has its ivy covered walls. This story along with many others makes enjoyable reading for any baseball fan.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Pharaoh's Daughter by Mesu Andrews


This book brings ancient Egypt and the book of Exodus alive. Anippe, daughter of Pharaoh, and sister of King Tut lives a life of fear after seeing her mother die in childbirth. Married at an early age to a Egyptian soldier who is sent off to war soon after the wedding, she is terrified of getting pregnant and giving birth. While her husband is off to war, she pretends to be pregnant after finding a baby floating in the Nile near her bathhouse. She manages to deceive the members of the household and the royal family, but lives in constant fear of her secret being found out.

The boy Mehy (who is Moses) grows up and is trained to be a prince and a warrior in Egypt. The lives of Mehy and Anippe are closely interwoven with the Hebrew slaves especially those who work in the linen making industry which Anippe overseers. The lives of the Hebrew slaves and their worship of El-Shaddai contrasts with the Egyptian gods and Pharaoh who is seen as divine. The Egyptians live in fear and turmoil at the whims of Pharaoh and the cruelty of his guards.

This is a fascinating look at the life of Moses from the perspective of his surrogate Egyptian mother along with the culture of Ancient Egypt. It is an engaging story that shows the faith of the Hebrews as well as the bloodshed and savage politics of Egypt. This books makes that time period come alive. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in Ancient Egypt and Biblical fiction.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

Monday, March 23, 2015

William Henry is a Fine Name by Cathy Gohlke


This story about the underground railroad and a young boy's coming to terms with the issue of slavery is well written and very engaging. It is not difficult to see why it won a Christy award for excellence.

Robert is a boy who grows up having not a clue about slavery, the underground railroad and racism. His father is employed on a plantation where the owner had freed all his slaves the year before Robert was born. His mother is from a slave holding family and was disowned by her father when she married Robert's father who was from the north. In spite of this and the fact that Robert's best friend is William Henry who happens to have black skin while Robert's is white, things go along fairly well until the summer when Robert is thirteen.

Robert's father disappears during the night fairly often causing disagreements with Robert's mother, Caroline, who views slavery as a natural part of life. Caroline's father becomes ill and Caroline decides she needs to see her father again so Caroline and Robert travel from Maryland to Ashland Plantation in North Carolina. Once there Caroline easily adapts to having slaves and Robert is torn as to what he believes about slavery.

The plight of slaves and the workings of the underground railroad makes this book hard to put down. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.

I received this book from Moody Publishers for this review.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Dead Wake by Erik Larson


Once again Erik Larson does a superb job of making an event in history come alive. One of my all time favorite books is "The Devil in the White City." "Dead Wake" comes in as a close second in my non fiction favorites. Larson has a way of coming at an event from all different angles and weaving personal stories along with the facts to make for a fascinating read.

The luxury ocean liner, Lusitania, sets sail from New York to Liverpool, England on May 1, 1915 in the midst of the war between England and Germany. President Woodrow Wilson is hesitant to enter the United States in the battle again Germany even though neutral American ships have been torpedoed by German U Boats and lives of Americans lost. Wilson is also reeling from the death of his wife in the previous year and has embarked on a new relationship with a younger woman.

Meanwhile England is hoping to get the United States involved with them in the war against Germany. Some of the leaders in the government and the navy seem to be hoping for some act of Germany involving the lost of American lives to be the impetus for the U.S. to support England in their war efforts. England's intelligence bureau has information about the German U Boats in the vicinity of where the Lusitania will be traveling. That information does not seem to have been adequately communicated to the captain of the ship prior to the tragedy of the torpedoing of the Lusitania. Questions are raised if England could have done more to prevent the tragedy.

The U Boat's commander and his submarine's travels are also highlighted leading up to the torpedoing of the Lusitania. U Boat Commanders were rewarded for how much tonnage they destroyed and the Lusitania destruction contributed greatly to his total.

Finally insights into the lives of the passengers aboard that ill fated voyage make the people come alive for the reader. All these aspects, the backdrop of the war, the politics in the United States and the personal life of President Wilson, the U Boat Commander, the intelligence information obtained by the British and the innocent lives who boarded the Lusitania on May 1, 1915 are woven together to make a fascinating look at that time in history and a tragedy that possibly could have been prevented.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

"Possible" by Stephan Bauman


Few people would dispute that there is an abundance of poverty and suffering in the world. The author of "Possible," Stephan Bauman, challenges readers to rethink and change how they change the world. He invites individuals to look to see what bothers them the most and to choose one issue to immerse themselves in through researching the issue and praying about the issue. His premise is that if individuals take this call seriously there can be a real impact on the world around them. This can also be applied to a group of people as well.

One thought provoking idea is that the opposite of poverty is not wealth but community. In coming to the aid of those in need we need to re-examine what role we need to play in the area of need. Coming alongside those in need to help them develop their own networks and see themselves as their own agents of change is essential. A good example of that is in micro financing that is done in third world countries. A community sets up their own bank which people contribute their savings to and then also lends that money to people setting up their own business or enterprise. The money stays in the community and is re-invested. They are investing in each other's lives and making a difference in their community. This creates a sense of self worth and hope.

The back of the book has two tools - one tool is for discovering and designing change and the other is a tool for mobilizing, implementing and multiplying change. These tools could be used by an individual and also applied to a church or mission group. This book is for those who are serious about social justice and for making a difference in the lives of those suffering and in dire need.

I received this book for free from "Blogging for Books" for this review.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Matheny Manifeto by Mike Matheny with Jerry B. Jenkins


This book was not what I thought it was going to be. I thought it was going to be a autobiography of Mike Matheny, the present manager of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team. Being a baseball fan (although a Milwaukee Brewer fan), I thought it would be interesting to hear his story. I was pleasantly surprised to find out it was much more than his story, it his views on how to succeed in sports and in life.

The manifesto is a letter he wrote to all the parents of the little league team he was preparing to coach. He set down some pretty strict guidelines that not all the parents could abide by. Some families left the team, but in the end his team and later other teams in his organization succeeded because of the principles and values he set forth. He addresses the problems of parents being overinvolved in their child's sport's team and their unrealistic expectations of winning. He identifies and expands upon eight keys to success: leadership, confidence, teamwork, faith, class, character, toughness and humility. He uses examples from his own life in describing these character traits. Throughout the book, his Christian faith is the driving force behind his playing baseball and later coaching and managing the Cardinals.

This is a great book for any parent who is looking to coach youth sports, any parent who has a child involved in sports and in general for anyone who loves the game of baseball. I enjoyed the book and the fact that good
sportsmanship is emphasized more than winning. In this day of adults lying or trying to get around the rules in youth sports, this book is a reminder that there are more important things than winning and that the character of our young people playing sports is what counts.

I received this book from "Blogging for Books" for this review.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Divine Applause by Jeff Anderson


"Divine Applause" is written to help the Christian believer find the secrets and rewards of walking with an invisible God. The author explains how we can walk with God in a way that draws His spotlight to our lives and gives us the close connection we are looking for. He explains that God takes delight in us and wants to reveal himself to us in every day situations.

The book contains many illustrations to show the truth the author is presenting. Our purpose in life is to please God, not by doing good works, but by being in a relationship with Him. That may involve changing the way we see God as our Father, to see God through prayer, fasting and reading the Bible and by taking risks in living the Christian life. All this is to receive the focus of God's spotlight and to receive His divine applause.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Mrs. Robert E. Lee, The Lady of Arlington by John Perry


Mary Custis Lee was not only the wife of General Robert E. Lee, she was also the great granddaughter of Martha Custis Washington. She grew up at Arlington, in Virginia, which was taken by the United States Government at the beginning of the Civil War and is now the present day site of Arlington National Cemetery.

Mary had grown up as an only child and had a strong faith in God when she married Robert E. Lee. She survived years of separation from her husband and other personal tragedies with the help of that faith. This is an interesting look at life in Virginia before and during the Civil War, the attitude of Mary and her family as slave holders, and the years following the Civil War when her husband was president of Washington College.

The author based this book on previously unpublished private journals and papers. Of special interest are excerpts from Mary's prayer journal which give a glimpse into her spiritual life. I enjoyed learning more about Mary Custis Lee and felt the book was well written. I would recommend it for those readers who enjoy biographies.

The Butterfly and The Violin by Kristy Cambron


Sera is still recovering after being left at the altar two years previously. She immerses herself in her work and in finding a portrait she saw as a young girl - a portrait of a violinist with piercing blue eyes. As she searches for the painting, she meets William who may be the key to finding the missing portrait. Together, Sera and William search to unlock the mystery behind the painting's subject, Austrian violinist, Adele Von Braun.

How Adele goes from being a celebrated violinist in Austria and daughter of a high ranking member of the Third Reich to a prisoner at Auschwitz makes for a fascinating story. The book travels back and forth from the present time to the time of World War II. I thought the present day story of Sera and William not as engaging as I would have liked. However, I enjoyed reading this book for the story of Adele and how she went from a life of privilege to being a prisoner at Auschwitz. It is a story of beauty and hope in the midst of suffering and evil.

Monday, January 19, 2015

My Battle Against Hitler by Dietrich Von Hildebrand


Dietrich Von Hildebrand was a devout Catholic believer and a teacher of philosophy in Germany as Hitler was ascending to power. He openly denounced anti-Semitism and was targeted by the Nazis as an enemy of Germany. This memoir of his was written at the request of his second wife, Alice von Hildebrand. There is a brief account of his childhood and early adult years with the focus on the years 1921 to 1938. As von Hildebrand became more vocal in his opposition to the Nazis, he was dismissed from his professorship in Munich. He and his wife, Gretchen fled to Austria where they resided from until 1938 when Germany invaded Austria.

In Austria, von Hildebrand worked tirelessly through writing and publishing articles and giving lectures denouncing national socialism and anti-Semitism. He made every effort to influence the Catholic Church about the dangers of Nazism. Unfortunately there were leaders in the church in Austria who felt that moderate anti-Semitism could prevent people from breaking with the Catholic Church. There were others who did agree with him, but unfortunately Austria choose to compromise with the Nazis. After he fled Vienna, he found out that the Nazis had plans to assassinate him.

The second part of the memoirs contain his writings against the Nazi ideology. He kept writing even when his life was in danger and he was watched by the Gestapo. He was truly a man of great faith who championed the truth as the cost of his comfort and safety. He should be remembered along with Dietrich Bonhoeffer for his intellectual mind and his vocal opposition to the Nazis.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Winter in Full Bloom by Anita Higman


Lily has just entered a new phase in her life as she sends her only daughter off to college. As a widow she begins the empty nest stage of her life alone. After a confrontation with her mother, she discovers she has a twin sister. Lily takes off to Australia in search of her twin with only a few facts to go on. In Melbourne, Australia, Lily meets Marcus who helps her in her search and has some family secrets of his own.

Through the midst of tangled and dysfunctional family relationships, bitterness and grief, Lily and Marcus work to deal with these issues by confronting them instead of ignoring them. There is so much family dysfunction and hurt it does not seem possible that relationships can be restored. In the end this is a story of hope and reconciliation in the midst of a great deal of pain and wrong choices.

The author's style of writing is engaging and I especially enjoyed the opening chapter describing Lily's fear of flying as she embarks on her journey to Australia. It was a entertaining way to ease into Lily's story. I enjoyed this book and would recommend it as an entertaining and thought provoking work of Christian fiction.

I received this book for free from Moody Publishers for this review.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley


This book is a welcome addition to the Flavia de Luce novels. If you have not read any of them before I would suggest starting with the first one, "The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie."

Flavia is a expert chemist and detective at the age of 12. At her home in England she was involved in solving a number of mysteries and in general getting into a whole lot of trouble. As a result she is sent to the same boarding school in Canada that her mother attended. She arrives in Canada feeling banished from her family and is homesick. It didn't take long for her to feel right at home as a corpse becomes dislodged from the chimney in her room. Solving the mystery of who the corpse is and how she met her death occupies most of Flavia's time. There is also a mystery about Miss Bodycote's Female Academy, the boarding school she is attending. Are the staff really who they seem to be? Can they be trusted? What about the three girls who have disappeared over the past two years?

This is an entertaining read for those who enjoy mysteries. There are some parts of the story that are unclear if you have not read the previous books so I would recommend reading those first before starting with this one if at all possible. All in all you will be thoroughly entertained by Flavia and her skill as a chemist and detective.

Monday, January 5, 2015

A Field Guide For Everday Mission by Ben Connelly & Bob Roberts Jr


This book is exactly what the title says it is. It is a field guide to aid the Christian is living out his or her life in mission on a daily basis. Too often as Christians, we think of missions in terms of missionaries overseas or working in homeless shelters or soup kitchens. This is not about giving financially to missions or helping out a few hours a month in a ministry, it is about daily living as a missionary right where you are: in your neighborhood and community. This is a challenging book to read and even a more challenging book to apply.

The authors begin the book by posing six different questions that will be answered in the book: 1 - Who is my everyday mission field? 2 - What does an everyday missionary do? 3 - When does everyday mission happen? 4 - Where does everyday mission happen? 5 - Why should I even care about everyday mission? and 6- How do I share the gospel without killing the relationship?

This book is for the everyday Christian who is trying to live out God's mission where he or she is placed; the confused follower of Jesus who doesn't know how he or she can possibly live out God's mission and for the long time believer in Christ who is looking for something more.

The book is divided in six week segments with daily readings and application ideas. In all throughout the book, there are 101 ways to apply the principles discussed and put them into practice.

This book is a great resource for church leaders and to use as a small group resource. It is a book that can be referred to frequently. It is also helpful for lay people to realign their thinking about what mission is and how they can engage in mission on a daily basis.

I received this book for free from Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Love Without Limits by Nick Vujicic with Kanae Vujicic


I have read other books by Nick Vujicic so I was aware of his incredible life as a man without limbs and also as a man of faith with a worldwide ministry. His honesty as well as Kanae's as their share their stories as individuals and as a couple is truly remarkable. It is hard to imagine a life like Nick's with the daily challenges of living without limbs and it is nothing short of miraculous of how he lives his life as a husband and father.

This book is not only about the challenges that Nick and Kanae face because of Nick's disability, but it is also a story about relationships and some valuable insights they learned along the way. The book is a resource for anyone looking to find the right person to marry as well as being the right person to marry. The book would also be helpful to those who are married.

The book focuses more on the positives in their relationship and doesn't focus on the daily challenges that Kanae must face as Nick's caregiver as well as his wife. All in all, though, this is a truly inspirational story of which God's love is the center of it all. Both Nick and Kanae live their lives fully depending on God's love and care to see them through.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.