Monday, December 21, 2009

Crash! by Mayra Calvani, Illustrated by Anna Pylypchuk

In Crash!, Mayra Calvani captures the excitement of getting a first puppy, and then the difficult task of finding the perfect name for the new pet. Woven throughout the story are hints for children on how to care for and train a pet. And of course – in the end, the little boy discovers the perfect moniker for his furry friend. Sweet illustrations by teen artist, Anna Pylypchuk from the Ukraine, complement the story.

Available in English or Spanish, in print or as an ebook. Visit Guardian Angel Publishing for order information.

Ms. Calvani donates 50% of the royalties from CRASH! to Almost Heaven Golden Retriever Rescue and Sanctuary.

Click HERE to visit Mayra's blog for Crash! and find reviews, information about Golden Retrievers, and activities for children. A charming book for your child that benefits a good cause. A win-win!

Product Details:
Reading level: Ages 2-6
Paperback: 24 pages
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc (March 25, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1933090545
ISBN-13: 978-1933090542

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Rick & Bubba's Guide to the Almost Nearly Perfect Marriage by Rick Burgess & Bill "Bubba" Bussey

The way Rick and Bubba see it, "marriage wasn't meant to be perfect. It was to teach us how to love an imperfect person perfectly." And it cuts both ways. Their stated goal in writing the book is that you look at your marriage with new eyes. Appreciate what you have.

Although Martha Bolton helped translate Rick and Bubba's radio humor to the page, it still seems aimed mostly at men. Thin-skinned women might even be offended by some of the jokes. The text is a little disjointed as you get to read from Rick, Bubba's, and sometimes even their wives' point of view. Perhaps keeping each chapter to one person might have helped, but even more helpful is the CD included with the book. By listening to the radio program, I was able to get a better handle on each man's personality. And I laughed, no – guffawed, several times while listening.

What I found most refreshing about the book was hearing from two men who love God and their wives and speak reverently about marriage. They clearly love and respect their wives, even if they don't always understand them – and therein lies the abundant source of humor. Sprinkled amidst all the jokes, you'll find some sound advice. I especially appreciated the chapter called "Enemies of the Mate" and the "Top Ten Comebacks for People Who Tell You to Give Up on Your Marriage." This chapter delivers, giving the most guidance as promised in the title – Rick and Bubba's Guide to the Almost Nearly Perfect Marriage.

Product Details:
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson; Pap/Com edition (June 2, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1401603998
ISBN-13: 978-1401603991

Rick and Bubba's Commercial:

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A Slow Burn by Mary E. DeMuth

When I hear that a new book by Mary DeMuth has been released, it immediately goes on my wish list. With little time to read these days, I make time to read Mary's books. A Slow Burn is the second in the Defiance Texas Trilogy. I read Daisy Chain and loved it, so I was eager to make my way back to the small Texas town that held so much mystery. The characters burrow their way into your heart, and like real life, their actions are unpredictable. This second book in the trilogy is a beautifully told tale of heartache and hope, all wrapped up in the story of grace. I can hardly wait for the third book!

Product Details:
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Zondervan; 1 edition (October 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310278376
ISBN-13: 978-0310278375

To read the review of Daisy Chain, click HERE.
Visit Mary's website:

Monday, October 26, 2009

Seeking Daily the Heart of God by Boyd Bailey

As I began reading Boyd Bailey's book, Seeking Daily the Heart of God, I actually turned to the front to look at the title again. At the top of the book, it says the book is part of a 'Daily Devotional Series.' These devotionals weren't written in the style to which I'd grown accustomed to read or that I write myself. To me, each of the 365 pieces is more like an encouraging, thought-provoking, mini-sermon.

My personal style and one popular in recent years is to convey a scriptural principle through the retelling of everyday events. Mr. Bailey's devotions are more 'old school' – a bit longer, a whole lot deeper, and designed with one intent - to whet your appetite to spend more time with God and His Word. Boyd ably accomplishes his goal. Two of my favorites are "Heaven's Handprints" and "Less Is More."

For a 'Daily Dose" from Boyd Bailey, visit Wisdom Hunters. Visit Family Christian Stores HERE to read a sample chapter.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Year in the Life of a "Working" Writer - by Ernie Witham

I've been reading Ernie Witham's columns for several years, and love his sense of humor. I looked forward to reading A Year in the Life of a "Working" Writer.

I opened the book, read the first sentence of the first chapter and had to put the book down. Why? I had to find a tissue to wipe my eyes I had laughed so hard. Ernie is that funny. Not only does he bring a different perspective to almost any situation, he does it in a good-natured, self-deprecating, and hilarious way. I also had a lot of fun reading about how he comes up with ideas. His tips for writing would be helpful to writers in all genres. Fun book!

Ernie's Bio: Ernie Witham writes the humor column "Ernie's World" which appears in the Montecito Journal in Montecito, California and is syndicated through Senior Wire News Service. His humor has appeared in many publications and anthologies, including a dozen best-selling Chicken Soup for the Soul books. He is the humor workshop leader at the prestigious week long Santa Barbara Writers Conference and has led other workshops in Cape Cod, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Springfield IL. He lives in Santa Barbara, California with his wife and has a large family, many of whom appear in his humor stories. He likes writing "location humor" where he goes to a place or event to find a story.

Product Details:
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Daniel & Daniel Pub (September 15, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1564744876
ISBN-13: 978-1564744876

Read more about Ernie, his books, and his latest columns at Ernie's World.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Find Your Strongest Life by Marcus Buckingham

What does it mean to 'have it all'? In the introduction to Find Your Strongest Life, Marcus Buckingham gives his definition and shares his 'secret' to living a strong life. In Part 1, he identifies reasons woman aren't living lives to their fullest potential. In Part 2, you'll start to learn how to live, not just a strong life, but your strongest life, what that will look like, and identify the role you were born to play with advice on finding your own strengths and then work with what you've got. Part 3 consists of 'Strong Life Tactics" for different types of relationships. At the end of every chapter is a section called "What to Take Away from this Chapter" with a list to help the reader review and contemplate the information. Many self-help books give a set formula. The Strong Life Test makes this book helpful for women in all kinds of roles with advice customized for each type of woman. I like the methodical way Buckingham lays out prevalent problems and then shares solutions step by step.

What I don't like is the absence of the true source of strength – a relationship with Jesus Christ. I'm surprised Thomas Nelson published this book. If you're looking for a Christian perspective, it is noticeably absent here. The author advises women to find their own strengths, and while that advice may be good, it is far from complete. Where is the advice to find your God-given strengths while relying on Him to help you live your best life?

If you're looking for an analytical approach to your role as a woman, you might find that Mr. Buckingham's book has merit, but if you're looking for a spiritually uplifting approach, keep looking.

Product Details:
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (September 29, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1400202361
ISBN-13: 978-1400202362

Preview the book.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Have a New Husband by Friday by Dr. Kevin Leman

The title of the book seemed simplistic. And besides - a lot of women like their husbands. But for those wives whose marriages are less than what they bargained for, this is a quick read with a lot of practical advice. Filled with personal and funny anecdotes, Dr. Leman,  a psychologist, begins by saying, "There's a mistaken notion in society today that equality means 'sameness." Yes, men and women are equal, but one thing I'm positively sure of: they are not the same."

From that point on, Dr. Leman gives insights about how a man thinks, feels, and even how his relationship with his mother will impact his relationship with his wife. Very interesting stuff!

The chapter for each day has lists such as: Rules to Live By, How to Think Differently, and a list for 'What to Do' each day. Each chapter has an "Ask Dr. Leman" Q & A with real-life dilemmas and practical solutions.

Dr. Kevin is down to earth and quite straightforward with his advice. If your marriage could use some tweaking and you appreciate advice given with a healthy dose of humor, you'll find this book helpful and enjoyable.

Product Details:
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Revell (October 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0800719123
ISBN-13: 978-0800719128
Available October 2009 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
About Dr. Kevin Leman:

An internationally known psychologist, radio and television personality, and speaker, Dr. Kevin Leman has taught and entertained audiences worldwide with his wit and commonsense psychology.

The New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of Have a New Kid by Friday and The Birth Order Book has made hundreds of house calls for radio and television programs, including FOX & Friends, The View, Fox’s The Morning Show, Today, Oprah, CBS’s The Early Show, Janet Parshall’s America, Live with Regis Philbin, CNN’s American Morning, Life Today with James Robison, and Focus on the Family. Dr. Leman has served as a contributing family psychologist to Good Morning America.

Dr. Leman is also the founder and president of Couples of Promise, an organization designed and committed to helping couples remain happily married. He is a founding faculty member of

Dr. Leman’s professional affiliations include the American Psychological Association, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, the National Register of Health Services Providers in Psychology, and the North American Society of Adlerian Psychology.

In 1993, he was the recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award of North Park University in Chicago. In 2003, he received from the University of Arizona the highest award that a university can extend to its own: the Alumni Achievement Award.

Dr. Leman attended North Park University. He received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Arizona, where he later earned his master’s and doctorate degrees. Originally from Williamsville, New York, he and his wife, Sande, live in Tucson, Arizona. They have five children and two grandchildren.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Fearless by Max Lucado

The world is reeling and many people are struggling with gut-wrenching fear. Fearless by Max Lucado addresses the causes of these fears and provides gentle, but firm reminders of ways to eliminate fear. Max Lucado has a reassuring tone in his writing that is perfect to tackle this subject. Sometimes he uses humor to make his point. At all times, he uses scriptures to support his opinions.

I appreciate it that the book has a discussion guide for groups that can also be used by individuals for a deeper study of the principles in the book. I cannot imagine a more timely book. I recommend Fearless for anyone who wants to turn fear into faith.

Product Details:
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (September 8, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0849921392
ISBN-13: 978-0849921391

Monday, September 07, 2009

The Potluck Club Cookbook by Linda Evans Shepherd & Eva Marie Everson

Many years ago, I sang in a quartet that traveled the tri-state in my area of the country. We sang for a lot of homecomings and 'dinners on the ground.' I always looked forward to these outings for the fun and the food. Scrumptious food and lots of it weighed down the folding tables brought out for the occasion. One time I enjoyed a dessert so much, I tracked down the cook to get the recipe.

When I read The Potluck Club Cookbook, it brought back so many of those good memories. In the preface of the book, Linda and Evan have listed a while list of ways to host a potluck dinner like a Salad Potluck or a Brunch Potluck.

The recipes are simple and for the most part use a few readily available ingredients. If you're a Julia Child wannabe, you may think this book too elementary, but for those of us who cook on the run and want basic recipes to fix in a hurry, grab a copy of this book. Make your own 'potluck' memories!

Available September 2009 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Here are a couple examples of recipes in the book.

Corn Pudding au Gratin

1 (15 oz) can creamed corn
2 Tbsp. flour
1 cup diced cheese
1/8 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbsp. margarine
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup buttered bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine corn, flour, cheese and pepper; mix well. Add melted margarine and well-beaten eggs. Warm milk and add to mixture. Pour into 1 ½ quart casserole pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Cook in oven until pudding begins to set, then sprinkle buttered bread crumbs over the top and reduce heat to 325 and bake until firm. If bread crumbs are not sufficiently brown when pudding is firm, turn to broil briefly. Cooking time is about 30 – 40 minutes.

Eva: “This recipe reheats nicely.” (Page 169)

Linda’s Chicken Tortilla Casserole

2 ½ Tbsp. chopped onions
¼ cup butter
3 Tbsp. flour
1 ½ cups milk
¾ cup chicken broth
1 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. jalapeno peppers
1 ½ cups chopped canned tomatoes (stewed)
3 cups cubed chicken, cooked
½ cup shredded cheese
12 tortillas, cut into 1-inch strips

Sauté onions in butter, then add flour and cook until mixture is bubbly. Stir in milk and broth gradually. Stir in salt, peppers, and tomatoes.

In casserole dish, layer chicken, cheese, then strips of tortillas. Pour sauce over layers then sprinkle casserole with cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Serve hot. Serves 6-8.

Linda: “You can’t go wrong with this tasty dish. It’s a potluck crowd favorite.” (Page 130)

Product Details:
Paperback: 181 pages
Publisher: Revell; 1 edition (September 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0800733495
ISBN-13: 978-0800733490

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Different Kind of Wild by Debbie Alsdorf

In the first chapter of A Different Kind of Wild, Debbie Alsdorf says,
"Some assume if they wildly abandon themselve to God, they weill be expected to
have a holy and serious posture - bland, reserved, well, boring - when their real
personality is happy, bubbly, and a bit silly."
I knew when I read that snippet, I'd like Alsdorf's book. As a Woman in Lifelong Development (WILD) myself, I liked her upbeat tone and practical encouragement with a healthy dose of good counseling thrown in. Debbie is a biblical lay counselor and member of the American Association of Christian Counselors.

Questions at the end of each chapter reinforce the message and an expanded study guide in the back of the book makes it suitable for group study. Recommended.

Product Details:
Paperback: 207 pages
Publisher: Revell (July 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0800733665
ISBN-13: 978-0800733667

Visit Debbie Alsdorf's Website: Design4Living Ministries.

Friday, July 31, 2009

The I Believe Bunny by Tish Rabe, Illustrated by Frank Endersby

The I Believe Bunny is a delightful children's picture book based on the Bible verse Philippians 4:13 (NIV): I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

The main character, Bunny, must come to the aid of a mouse in trouble. Because he feels small and inadequate, he calls on God to help him. He discovers that God answers his prayer in an unexpected way.

It's a bit odd that the characters don't have names and I found the rhymes a bit 'off' in a couple of places, but that didn't detract significantly from the story. Children are sure to learn that, no matter how big or small they are, they can call on God and He hears them when they pray. In the story, the answer comes quickly. This book would be a great way to talk about all the ways God answers prayer and about God's timing, too.

The pastel illustrations by Frank Endersby reminded me of Beatrix Potter – very sweet and endearing. These combined with a story on faith makes this book an ideal bedtime story to read before nighttime prayers.

Product Details:
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (July 14, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1400314763
ISBN-13: 978-1400314768

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

When Someone you Love Has Cancer by Cecil Murphey

Many books written about cancer are written for the patients. When Someone You Love Has Cancer is written for those whose loved ones have been diagnosed with cancer. What do you do? What do you say? What don't you say? Cecil Murphey, in his own straightforward style addresses all these questions. As someone who has had a loved one battle cancer, he knows all too well that these and many more questions will need to be answered. He takes the reader through the journey with grace, kindness, prayer, and loving advice. An Appendix lists practical things you can do to help those diagnosed with cancer.

When Someone You Love Has Cancer is a beautifully packaged gift book with watercolor illustrations by Michael Sparks. Pastors, this would make a wonderful addition to your library. Are you a caregiver? Read this book to better know what the family goes through. If you know of a person who has just been diagnosed with cancer, run - buy this book for the family and friends.

Product Details:
Hardcover: 64 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (January 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736924280
ISBN-13: 978-0736924283

A few thoughts from Cecil Murphey:

1. The first sentence of your book reads, "I felt helpless." Tell us about that feeling.

Because her doctor put Shirley into the high-risk category, I felt helpless. To me, helpless means hating the situation, wanting to make it better, but admitting there was nothing I could do for her.

2. On that same page you also write, "One thing we learned: God was with us and strengthened us through the many weeks of uncertainty and pain." How did you get from feeling helpless to that assurance?

Shirley and I sat down one day and I put my arm around her. "The only way I know how I can handle this," I said, "is to talk about it." Shirley knows that's my way of working through puzzling issues. "Let's consider every possibility." If her surgeon decided she did not have breast cancer, how would we react? We talked of our reaction if he said, "There is a tumor and it's obviously benign. Finally, I was able to say, with tears in my eyes, "How do we react if he says the cancer is advanced and you have only a short time to live?" By the time we talked answered that question, I was crying. Shirley had tears in her eyes, but remained quite calm. "I'm ready to go whenever God wants to take me," she said. She is too honest not to have meant those words. As I searched her face, I saw calmness and peace. I held her tightly and we prayed together. After that I felt calm. Since then, one of the first things I do when I awaken is to thank God that Shirley and I have at least one more day together.

3. When most people hear the word cancer applied to someone they love, they have strong emotional reactions. What are some of them? What was your reaction when your wife was diagnosed with breast cancer?

As a pastor, a volunteer chaplain, and a friend I've encountered virtually every emotional reaction. Some refuse to accept what they hear. Some go inward and are unable to talk. Others start making telephone calls to talk to friends.

Me? I went numb, absolutely numb. That was my old way of dealing with overwhelming emotions. I heard everything but I couldn't feel anything. It took me almost two weeks before I was able to feel--and to face the possibility that the person I loved most in the world might die.

4. "What can I do for my loved one with cancer?" That's a good question for us to ask ourselves. How can we be supportive and helpful?

Many think they need to do big things; they don't. Express your concern and your love. Be available to talk when the other person needs it--and be even more willing to be silent if your loved one doesn't want to talk. Don't ask what you can do; do what you see needs doing. To express loving support in your own way (and we all express love differently) is the best gift you can offer.

5. Why do you urge people not to say, "I know exactly how you feel"?

No one knows how you feel. They may remember how they felt at a certain time. Even if they did know, what help is that to the person with cancer? It's like saying, "Stop feeling sorry for yourself. I know what it's like and I'm fine now."

Instead, focus on how the loved one feels. Let him or her tell you.

6. Those with cancer suffer physically and spiritually. You mention God's silence as a form of spiritual suffering. They pray and don't seem to sense God. What can you do to help them?

God is sometimes silent but that doesn't mean God is absent. In my upcoming book, When God Turns off the Lights, I tell what it was like for me when God stopped communicating for about 18 months.

I didn't like it and I was angry. I didn't doubt God's existence, but I didn't understand the silence. I read Psalms and Lamentations in various translations. I prayed and I did everything I could, but nothing changed.

After a couple of months, I realized that I needed to accept the situation and wait for God to turn on the lights again. Each day I quoted Psalm 13:1: "O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way?" (NLT)

I learned many invaluable lessons about myself--and I could have learned them only in the darkness. When God turns off the lights (and the sounds) I finally realized that instead of God being angry, it was God's loving way to draw me closer.

7. Guilt troubles many friends and loved ones of caregivers because they feel they failed or didn't do enough. What can you say to help them?

We probably fail our loved ones in some ways. No one is perfect. If you feel that kind of guilt, I suggest 3 things:

(1) Tell the loved one and ask forgiveness.

(2) Talk to God and ask God to forgive you and give you strength not to repeat your failures.

(3) Forgive yourself. And one way to do that is to say, "At the time, I thought I did the right thing. I was wrong and I forgive myself."

8. Do you have some final words of wisdom for those giving care to a loved one with cancer?

Be available. You can't take away the cancer but you can alleviate the sense of aloneness. Don't ever try to explain the reason the person has cancer. We don't know the reason and even if we did, would it really help the other person?

Be careful about what you say. Too often visitors and friends speak from their own discomfort and forget about the pain of the one with cancer. Don't tell them about your cancer or other disease; don't tell them horror stories about others. Above all, don't give them false words of comfort. Be natural. Be yourself. Behave as loving as you can.

About the Author:

Cecil Murphey is an international speaker and bestselling author who has written more than 100 books, including the New York Times bestseller 90 Minutes in Heaven (with Don Piper). No stranger himself to loss and grieving, Cecil has served as a pastor and hospital chaplain for many years, and through his ministry and books he has brought hope and encouragement to countless people around the world. For more information, visit

Monday, June 29, 2009

Mom Needs Chocolate by Debora M. Coty

Of course, I'm going to pick up a book that has the words 'mom' and 'chocolate' in the title. And to have it be funny is a bonus. And does Debora deliver on the humor! I was laughing from the first page on.

Each reflection on the milestones of motherhood is followed by what she calls 'Faith in Action" – questions to ponder or directions on how to put what you've just subtly learned into practice. Her book is not only a delightful respite for moms, but encourages moms to make faith in God a priority as they navigate the joys and trials that come with being a Mom.

As a fellow boogieholic (see Chapter 22) and chocoholic mom, I heartily recommend Mom Needs Chocolate.

Product Details:
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Regal (April 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0830745920
ISBN-13: 978-0830745920

You can learn more about Debora (and her other books) at

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Noticer by Andy Andrews

I'm still mulling over the messages in this book, and trying to figure out into which category it fits. Is it autobiographical or only written so it feels like it? I know the book has a cleverly written marketing plan attached to it (, but the book's message is different from the project. In the book, an older man, Jones or The Noticer, helps people see life from a different perspective. The idea behind the project is more a message of thanks to those who've made a positive difference. I suppose the idea behind both is to 'notice' the people around you and the events that brought you to your station in life. The book is filled with inspirational life lessons and advice leading the reader to ponder, "What does it mean to have a 'successful life'?

Gaining a new perspective on your life can be wonderful, but it doesn't mean simply looking at it in a new way can solve your problems. I'm afraid the book touted a simplistic solution. Jones advises people to read the biographies of successful people, yet fails to mention the Bible as a source of wisdom and encouragement.

As a Christian and because this book came from a 'Christian publisher,' I would have expected to see more emphasis on serving God, believing in Jesus, and allowing the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom for that 'new perspective' that is so blatantly preached throughout the book.

The Noticer is a quick read and delivers a positive, if clichéd message. I'm not sure your life will be changed significantly by reading this book, but you won't regret the leisurely read with pleasant characters.

Product Details:
Hardcover: 176 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (April 28, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0785229213
ISBN-13: 978-0785229216

To read a personal note written by Andy Andrews and sent to a reviewer in reponse to questions about The Noticer, visit Maria Keckler's blog at Writing to Reading Andy’s note might give you some insights about perspective. Click logo.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

In the Footsteps of Paul by Ken Duncan

As I study the Bible, the characters seem larger than life. It's easy to forget they were ordinary people who did extraordinary things in the power of God. The apostle Paul was an educated man who made tents – a trade that allowed him to earn money as he traveled to preach the gospel.

In his book, In the Footsteps of Paul, Ken Duncan leads us along Paul's path starting from his birth in Tarsus to his conversion on the road to Damascus, as he continued his ministry, and all the way to his death.

Crisp vivid pictures take us on a photographic tour. Harbors from which Paul would have sailed, roads he trekked, and arches he traveled through are brought to life in the photos and breathe new life into the Biblical passages that relate the details of Paul's journey through the Mediterranean on his way to Rome. Quotes by C.S. Lewis, Rev. Billy Graham, and many more along with passages by the apostle himself guide us along the way.

For anyone who loves God's Word, In the Footsteps of Paul brings new dimension to Apostle Paul's writings and his extraordinary life.

Product Details:
Hardcover: 176 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson; 1 edition (March 17, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1404104828
ISBN-13: 978-1404104822

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Daisy Chain by Mary DeMuth

I heard one time that from the first page, a good writer grabs you by the throat and doesn't let the reader go. Mary DeMuth does this effectively in Daisy Chain. Right from the start when a little girl goes missing, the tension builds. The mystery of her disappearance intertwines with the coming-of-age story about Jed, a 14-year old boy who saw Daisy last. To say Mary writes multi-dimensional characters would be an understatement. No person is ever painted black or white, good or evil, but with many shades of gray with the promise of good prevailing and bad will get its due punishment.

At times, this book so gripped my heart I had to lay it down, but could not forget the characters who had also made their way into my heart. In short order, I picked it up again to cheer Jed on in his quest to find Daisy and to find hope in spite of his father's hypocrisy and abuse.

Mary is a down-to-earth writer of realism, dedicated to truth and authentic living, and this book rings authentic and real. Although there is a secondary character who serves as a loving father figure, I would have liked to have seen a pastor in that role, but perhaps that's because I am a pastor's wife. The only other note – this is the first novel in a trilogy, so plot points are not tied up in a neat box. But then again – when is life ever so sweetly packaged?

Product Details:
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (March 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310278368
ISBN-13: 978-0310278368

Saturday, April 11, 2009

American Greetings - Kathy Davis Greeting Cards

I received a package today containing several greeting cards and a letter from the company encouraging me to scatter joy to reach out and connect with loved ones - a wonderful idea! They even stamped the envelopes for me. The artist whose beautiful watercolors grace each card is Kathy Davis. You can see an example of her work on the left side of this post.

For more information about the talented Kathy Davis, click HERE.

To visit American Greetings, click HERE.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

This Is Your Brain on Joy by Dr. Earl Henslin

I thought a book about the brain might be dry and technical. Wrong. Dr. Earl Henslin writes This Is Your Brain on Joy with a splendid sense of humor. He poses a question in Chapter One for people of faith. Why should anyone want what we believe if it doesn't make us deeply, joyful people? It took ten years of research before the good doctor felt ready to share his findings. In this book, he offers specific therapies for specific problems. Dr. Henslin's treatment plans include recommendations for supplements, medications, foods, music, exercise, and even cinematherapy. To round out the program, he includes scriptures and prayers to nurture spiritual growth.

Dr. Henslin explains the treatment plans and how the brain works in everyday language. Photos, diagrams, and charts are helpful and using alliteration and clever names for complex scientific terms helped me better understand the process. The entire program is designed so that you can begin today to change your brain into a happier, more peaceful one – a brain on joy.

Product Details:
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (January 6, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 078522873X
ISBN-13: 978-0785228738

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Word of Promise: Next Generation - New Testament Dramatized Audio Bible MP3 Set

I began my listening with the second chapter of Luke. The music in the background is pleasing and appropriate for each verse, subsiding and swelling with dramatic interpretation. The young actors read the International Children's Bible translation, which simplifies some of the more complex wording in the New Testament. For instance, Luke 2:7 reads, "she wrapped the baby with cloths and laid him in a box where animals were fed." When the angels sing with joy, many voices read the text, which is very effective.

Although I'm used to a booming voice reading scripture, I'm certain this version makes the Bible seem more relevant to many younger listeners. I didn't recognize the names of some of the narrators like Corbin Bleu, Cody Linley, Luke Benward, Charlie Stewart, and Tahj Mowry, but I'm sure your children will. The sound effects and all-start cast kept me engaged and eager to hear what came next. Included with the readings is a 40-day Listening program. The set includes 24 hours of audio drama on 3 mp3 CDs and a bonus 75 minute Behind-the-Scenes DVD featuring interviews with the actors. Although marketed for the younger crowd, I enjoyed listening to the recordings. I especially recommend Word of Promise: Next Generation New Testament if you're looking for a way to get your kids to enjoy listening to the Bible.

Product Details:
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Publisher: Thomas Nelson; MP3 edition (November 18, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1400313309
ISBN-13: 978-1400313303
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