25 Book Reviews

Friday, November 29, 2013

Read this new book by Todd M. Johnson - a winning Christian mystery/thriller!!!

"Critical Reaction"                    

By Todd M. Johnson

For those of who enjoy a "sit on the edge of your seat", "can't put it down", kind of book, search no more!!! I have found an author, to whom I have never been introduced, and I am definitely impressed!! I will be eagerly awaiting Todd's next new book.

A warning siren screams in the desert night , the worst has happened!!! (taken from back cover)  This alone caught my attention, even before I opened this novel!  This book is very different from those that I usually choose to read, so I was totally unprepared for the  excitement, worries and tension that I felt while reading it.

After turning out plutonium for the Cold War, the Hanford Nuclear Facility's poisoned buildings  were a far greater risk than anyone had ever imagined.  The guards who stood firm at the entrance, to protect the facility from sabotage and monitor its buildings had been told that the dangers are under control! But were they??? Why were the guards placed there, if there were no worries?? THEN, the worst happens!! A thunderous explosion in the middle of the night!

Keiran Mullaney  survived the blast , but when threats and silence are met when he attempts to discover the cause and what really had happened, he is able to reconnect with an old friend, lawyer Emily Hart. Although she is inexperienced in this field, she is convinced that she should take this case and help this innocent man. BUT , she also realizes that without help, her case is lost before she even gets started.

Emily's father, with whom she has cut all ties, has the experience in the courtroom that they need. Due to tragedies in his personal life, he has grown negative, withdrawing from his profession as a highly sought after lawyer. BUT, this is a chance to rebuild a relationship with his daughter, so he takes the case- on the condition that Emily follows through in the courtroom. The deeper these two lawyers dig, the more dangerous the case gets!!

These characters and the intricate plot kept me glued to my chair!! Each person had definitely different personalities, with quirks and differences.  I became so engrossed in the deep actions in the story, that I started to try to think of solutions to this case. The characters appealed to me in a very emotional way. The problems and seriousness of the situation was felt deeply. The complicated plot keeps the reader guessing throughout the book. Totally unexpected twists and turns appeared in each chapter. Suspense was running deep within me!! My heart beat faster, my breathing became shallow, I was ENTIRELY involved !!

This is an author to watch!! His ability to make a thriller so compelling and exciting, is outstanding!!

Definitely a five star book! Mystery lovers MUST read this book!!

This book was provided by Bethany House in exchange for an honest and fair review.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Great Christmas Read!!

  "Christmas at Harmony  Hill"                                      By Ann H. Gabhart                                       
To those of you familiar with the author, Ann Gabhart, you will be delighted to read her newest novel, a Christmas story!! The Shaker community is one that most of us are not familiar with , but Ann describes the way of life realistically and in such detail , that we can picture ourselves there. 

The year us 1864, and the civil war is taking place. Heather Worth discovers that she is with child and is at a loss to know what she can do!! Her husband is at the front and she has no one to whom to turn for help.  It is suggested that a nearby Shaker village would provide the refuge that she seeks.  Heather's greatest desire is to find a peaceful place to have her baby, and this rather strange community becomes her answer. Can she possibly be content in the midst of those people with their peculiar beliefs about families??? Heather comes to term with the fact that they separate children from parents, spouses from one another.... BUT how can she EVER part with a newborn baby?? Is there any way , that she can find the desired peace and still keep her child with her???

Christmas is approaching and the joy of new life is about to become very real to Heather and those caring for her. Forgiveness is a theme that comes through loud and clear, as the way to approach her future.

Ann's characters are well described, in fact, so well, that you can feel Heather's confusion and pain. Her feeling of being lost, becomes your's.  The problems are realistic and believable, so much so that you begin to live within the Shaker village and share the concerns. The plot has just enough twists and turns to keep you guessing and wondering how this young lady will ever cope and endure this strange situation. Questions are constantly forming in your mind! How? Why??

I truly enjoyed learning more about this faith and way of life. This novel is packed with detailed information about the rather different beliefs and daily way of life of these persons. 

A five star book. Don't miss it.

About the Author: Ann Gabhart is the best selling author of several Shaker novels, "The Outsider", "The Seeker", as well as other historical novels. She lives with her husband a mile from where she was born in Kentucky. Find out more at:  www.annhgabhart.com.

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Another Winning Book from the Series, "Quilts of Love"!!

"Aloha Rose"

By Lisa Carter                           

About the book: When Laney Carrigan's adoptive parents encourage her as an adult to seek out her birth family, her only clue is the Lokelani quilt in which she was found wrapped as an infant. Centering her search on the Big Island, she battles fears of rejection from a family that abandoned her once before while her faith struggles to embrace God's love.
Along the path to her true heritage, she meets Hawaiian cowboy/helicopter pilot, Kai Barnes. Kai is determined to protect the people he's come to regard as family against a woman he suspects of being nothing more than a gold-digger, but he finds himself drawn to Laney in spite of his reservations. He's spent his entire life seeking forgiveness from past mistakes and longs for a second chance at happiness. 

Laney's painstaking journey to find restoration and a place to belong among the breathtaking allure of the Big Island will lead her closer to her past and maybe even something more.
This book was certainly a winner ,  in my eyes!! The topic of adoption is near and dear to my heart, since I am an adoptive parent. AND quilting is my favorite thing to do- well..... other than reading!!  This book captured my attention within the first few pages with its unique setting and topics. It is one of the best in this series, in my opinion.

Lisa Carter was a new author to me, however, is one who I will be watching for , in the future. Her talent in drawing me into the story was outstanding. I felt that I was living within Laney, as she encountered her trials, worries and challenges. I felt her fears and disappointments deeply.  The complications that Laney encounters is so true of any adoptive child attempting to fit in with a birth family. Do they want her there?? Should she stay and try to become part of a second family??

The setting of the story was unique and very different from what you would expect. Hawaii is certainly not a place where I would think a "Quilt story" would take place. Lisa does a fantastic job of describing the scenery and making you SEE the island, as well as the differences in the culture and lifestyle. 

The plot is intriguing from start to finish. Together , with the totally different setting, it captures your attention and doesn't let go until you finish the book. There are twists and turns in it which are very unexpected! You just think you may know where the story is heading , when another event changes the direction of the plot. 

This book is definitely a five star!! I would highly recommend it to any fiction fan!!

Purchase a copy: http://ow.ly/qKmVW

Meet the author: Lisa Carter has been published in MomSense and Christian Parenting Today. Lisa is currently teaching music at a preschool and enjoying the enthusiasm and joy for life for which preschoolers are famous. She and David have two beautiful daughters.

Find out more at: http://www.quiltsoflovebooks.com

Ebook was supplied by Litfuse in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Friday, November 22, 2013

A New "Quilts of Love" book by a favorite author!!

                                    "The Christmas Quilt"
                                       By Vannetta Chapman    

My attention is immediately taken by any book that has the word"quilt" in the title. As a quilter, this is a great subject. Combine it with an Amish fiction novel, and you HAVE to have a good book in your hands!! Well, at least, I believe so. Then, you couple that with a favorite author's name and you definitely have a winner!!! This book is no exception!! It exceeded my expectations!! A great novel!!

Annie, the main character, has a marvelous life, and is full of excitement as she prepares for the Christmas season. She is kept busy helping her husband, Samuel, attend to the Amish community's medical needs. He is not a doctor, but sure knows how to deal with common illnesses. Annie also is of help to the local midwife, Belinda. Family and friends are so important to her. 
Her friend Leah is due to deliver her first child just before Christmas. She is bound and determined to finish a baby quilt before the boppli arrives. However, there are events occurring that interrupt her plans. God has his own schedule. Annie may not be able to stick to her plan! Each piece of the quilt, has a story. Annie discovers that even if God has different intentions, the consequences far outweigh her own designs. This quilt holds far greater significance than she ever imagined.

The characters are so lovable and realistic that they immediately become your best friends. When I am reading a book, I must be able to identify with at least one to enjoy the story. I was not disappointed!! I felt Annie's every emotion, frustrations , as well as joys. She began to live in my mind. Going to sleep at night, I would think about her problems and try to come up with solutions. Of course, I didn't need to, but , I seemed to forget that Annie was not a "real" person.

The plot had just enough twists and turns to keep my eyes glued to the page. God's plans for the characters were rarely what I expected.  It just showed me, that you  never know what He is planning for each of us. We need to stop, wait and listen, to hear His quiet voice. This is a lesson for me to take to heart! I am often impatient, as Annie was , and forget that God will show us the way. We just have to let go!!!

I would highly recommend this to all Amish fiction  fans, as well as others. It is a GREAT read!

Waiting to read the next book, that Vannetta has in store for us!! I am sure it will be another good one!!

Meet the author: Vannetta Chapman has published over one hundred articles in Christian family magazines, receiving over two dozen awards from Romance Writers of America chapter groups. She discovered her love for the Amish while researching her grandfather's birthplace in Albion, Pennsylvania. Chapman lives in the Texas hill country with her husband.

Purchase a copy: http://ow.ly/qKnYD

Book was provided by the author and Litfuse in exchange for a fair and honest review.

                       Authors Vannetta Chapman and Lisa Carter are gearing up to ring in the Christmas season with a “Christmas Bee” Facebook Party on December 10th with fellow Quilts of Love author Lynette Sowell!
Abingdon Press is celebrating the release of the two latest Quilts of Love releases, The Christmas Quilt and Aloha Rose, with a Kindle Fire HDX giveaway and the December 10th Facebook party.
One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • The Christmas Quilt by Vannetta Chapman
  • Aloha Rose by Lisa Carter
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on November 30th. Winner will be announced at the “Christmas Bee” Facebook Party on December 10th. Connect with the authors from the Quilts of Love series, Vannetta Chapman, Lisa Carter, and Lynette Sowell, for an evening of book chat, quilt trivia, Christmas traditions and gifts, PLUS get an exclusive look at January’s Quilts of Love book!
So grab your copies of The Christmas Quilt and Aloha Rose and join Vannetta, Lisa, and Lynette on the evening of December 10th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven’t read the books, don’t let that stop you from coming!)

Friday, November 15, 2013

A Heartbreaking Situation with An Earthshattering Solution

"To Know You"

By Shannon Ethridge


      Kathryn Mackel

About the book: Julia Whittaker's rocky past yielded two daughters, both given up for adoption as infants. Now she must find them to try to save her son.

Julia and Matt Whittaker's son has beaten the odds for thirteen years only to have the odds---and his liver---crash precipitously. The only hope for his survival is a "living liver" transplant, but the transplant list is long and Dillon's time is short. His two older half-sisters, born eighteen months apart to two different fathers, offer his only hope for survival.

But can Julia ask a young woman---someone she surrendered to strangers long ago and has never spoken with---to make such a sacrifice to save a brother she's never known? Can she muster the courage to journey back into a shame-filled season of her life, face her choices and their consequences, and find any hope of healing?
And what if she discovers in her own daughters' lives that a history of foolish choices threatens to repeat itself? Julia knows she's probably embarking on a fool's errand---searching for the daughters she abandoned only now that she needs something from them. But love compels Julia to take this journey. Can grace and forgiveness compel her daughters to join her?

In To Know You, Shannon Ethridge and Kathryn Mackel explore how the past creates the present . . . and how even the most shattered lives can be redeemed.

My Opinion of this Book:

This book is truly fabulous!  The authors take you on an emotional journey with a family that has to deal with a great heartache in their current lives, but also to come to terms with secrets in the past of the main character, Julia.  Is it ever a good thing to let the past remain there??? Julia discovers that her hidden mistakes have to come to light in the present, in order to "fix" the  present tragedy.  The characters and situations are realistic, in fact, so much so, that you begin to live the painful past with them, as well as the present.

The topics involved in this story, were sensitively dealt with and held my attention throughout the book. Adoption, birth families , siblings, half siblings, marriage- all these complicated subjects in it!!  The plot has so many intertwining subplots that your attention once focused, can't be distracted. I could NOT put this book down, until I had read the last page. I lived this story alongside Julia and her family. It is a situation that anyone could encounter. 

Julia shows us that although we have to make choices in our lives, that these live on deep within us, for the rest of our existence on this earth. The author uses this situation within an ordinary family to show us that God can see us through ALL hard times. He is always there to help you.  Her secrets were the cause of many hurts in the present situation, however, her actions exhibited the healing and restoration that God can do, but only we allow Him.  The message comes through loud and clear! God has a plan for us, BUT we need to listen to that small quiet voice, in order to let Him restore peace to our souls.

Definitely a FIVE star book!!  I can hardly wait for the next book by this author.

Purchase a copy: http://ow.ly/qbiOA

About the authors: Shannon Ethridge is a best-selling author, speaker, and certified life coach with a master's degree in counseling/human relations from Liberty University. She has spoken to college students and adults since 1989 and is the author of 21 books, including the million-copy best-selling Every Woman's Battle series. She is a frequent guest on TV and radio programs and mentors aspiring writers and speakers through her BLAST Program (Building Leaders, Authors, Speakers & Teachers.) 

Learn more about Shannon:http://www.shannonethridge.com

This book was provided by Litfuse in exchange for an honest and fair review.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

"Terrible Taunting" - An App for Children Ages 5 - 11! Brings Attention to Bullying!

DESCRIPTION: The adorable JMan and his plucky hedgehog sidekick, Mr. Redge are the unstoppable, secret superhero team who save a classmate from the poking pranks of Dr. Evil Touch! Join this quirky duo on their quest to stop a bully, make the school playground a peaceful place, and more importantly, make a new friend who likes crime fighting, capes and karate, too. Discover JMan's hidden notebook on each page about what it's like to be an Aspie.
ABOUT THIS APP: This INTERACTIVE storybook app is based on the real JMan, Jonathan Murphy, and his REAL LIFE adventures growing up with ASPERGER'S SYNDROME. Written by his sister, Molly Murphy, and narrated by Jonathan, the story is told by someone who sees his world from a very unique perspective. It promotes SELF-ACCEPTANCE, AWARENESS, and an UNDERSTANDING for others who are different.

AGES 5 - 11


- You can change the superhero, JMan, into super-heroine, Jaycee.
- Touch Mr. Redge on every page and a SECRET NOTEBOOKpops up with age-appropriate information on Aspergers Syndrome, being different, and bullying.
- Over 70 INTERACTIVE SOUNDS AND ANIMATIONS ---including capes waving, speech bubbles, character movements, and more.
- Original "I'm Unique, I'm a GeekTHEME SONG by award-winning children's performing artist, AndyZ.
Easy to use navigation, customization, and page turning effects.
- Narration with word highlighting, self-read, or record your own narration options.
PROJECT BASED LEARNING CURRICULUM aligned with Common Core State Standards available for FREE DOWNLOAD




Smart Apps for Kids: http://bit.ly/1hibPr7
My Opinion on this App:

This App is the best one that I have seen yet to point out the true effects of bullying and the solutions to solve this problem that many young children experience at school.

As a retired teacher, who has taught many children with Aperger's Syndrom (autism), I realize how much they suffer with the teasing. They have enough to do, just to cope with everyday life. Sensitivity to others' behaviors , noise and surroundings are just part of them!! Coping on the school yard and in the classroom is always a challenge- and that is to just survive. I think we all, as parents, educators, etc, all want our children to feel safe , secure and enjoy life.

If this App points it out to a few children, it is worth its while. It is extremely well done. The story involves the reader from the first to the the last page. The changing of characters to themselves or others they know is an excellent feature. It makes it more approachable and involves the child in the immediate story.

This is such a common problem, but one which is so difficult to deal with. "The Terrible Taunting" does a superior job in having colorful pictures, complete reading aloud (the child doesn't have to read it by himself), having a task on each page to do, keeping the child engrossed in the story.

Well done!! Hope to see many more in the future!

App was supplied by Litfuse in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Friday, November 8, 2013

A Fabulous Christmas Read!!

"A Simple Christmas Wish"
     By Melody Carlson       

Melody Carlson writes the BEST of the BEST Christmas fiction!!! I haven't read one yet that disappointed me and this one, in particular, was a true winner!!! Her previous novels, "The Christmas Dog", "The Christmas Bus" and "The Christmas Pony", were all wonderful, heartwarming tales, but this one just outdid them all, in my opinion. First of all, I love Amish fiction and this book did have an Amish trend to it, secondly, I am always attracted to the subject of adoption, and this tale just happened to deal with both!!

Rachel Milligan was an independent woman, single with a good job. Never, in her greatest imagination, would she ever have dreamt that she and her seven year old niece would spend the week before Christmas on an Amish farm in Ohio, celebrating in a way very different from her usual style. Perhaps, she shouldn't have been so surprised, the way there have been so many unexpected occurences of late, but this indeed was a shocker!!

With her beloved, young niece in tow, Rachel, anxiously made her way from the busy city life in Chicago to Ohio's Amish Country- a whole different world! Family secrets begin to come to the surface , as love begins to blossom, old wounds are surprisingly healed. Rachel has to come to terms with the fact that she may no longer have her niece with her. Although this is a struggle, she comes to terms with the fact that she is willing to do whatever possible to ensure that Holly has a loving family to care for her.

Melody describes her characters realistically and in depth. You easily identify with the struggles and heartache that Rachel feels! Her fears become the reader's, in such a way, that you become  part of story with her. 

The plot is well developed . The quick pace of intertwining secondary plots keep you on the edge of your seat. There is not a dull moment in this story. It is full of action, producing all kinds of emotions in your innermost being. 

This book is truly an emotional book of love, showing a family's journey into what a family's heart means at Christmastime. It truly makes you feel the importance and reason for the season, as the characters are willing to give up what they love dearly for the good of others.

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Fabulous Organization !! "Ten Thousand Villages"

A fabulous surprise arrived at my house last week!! It was a gift from Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Upon opening the box and card, I found that I had been listed as one of the top ten bloggers, thus received a beautiful gift , courtesy of "Ten Thousand Villages"- a gorgeous shawl handmade in India and a chocolate bar, both Free Trade.

What is "Ten Thousand Villages"??? You may have heard of this wonderful organization! 

For more than 65 years, , Ten Thousand Villages had been establishing long term buying relationships in places where skilled artisans lack the opportunities for a stable income. These countries are generally needy, with poor employment opportunities. This organization's commitment to support artisans around the globe has been strengthened through free trade compensation practices- they include cash advances and prompt payments.

In Canada, Ten Thousand Villages is a non profit program of the Mennonite Central Committee Canada. This is one of this country's largest international relief and development agencies. They have combined the concept of free trade with healthy and environmentally sustainable business practices.  From store operations to product sourcing to marketing practices, They strive to meet the needs of many people in these needy countries to provide a business and regular income.

Founded in 1946 , Thousand Villages has grown from the trunk of Founder, Edna Byler's car to more than 120 retail outlets and 150 festival sales throughout North America. It has become a shopping opportunity for unique homemade gifts, jewellery, decor, art and sculpture and personal accessories made by Artisans in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. This program is one of the world's largest fair trade organizations and continually strives to improve the livelihood of tens of thousands of disadvantaged artisans in 35 countries, providing them with food, education, healthcare and housing. Otherwise this people would be unemployed or underemployed.

Every year, my husband and myself attend a Christmas bazaar run by this organization, held in a local area church in Nov. Here, we find many gifts for others and fun, unique and very different items. You know when you make a purchase, you are helping someone who is very needy, however needs the opportunity to share their talent with those who willingly and eagerly buy the products. Of course, we always see something , that we just HAVE to have!!

I did take some photos and would like to share these with you. A great time in a great environment, helping others!! The best feeling in the world!!

If you wish to learn more about this wonderful program, just go to the following link:   www.tenthousandvillages.ca .

Truly a wonderful experience to go shopping in this environment, knowing that the $ you spend, are going directly to the people in need.

Another Fantastic Read by One of My Favorite Authors, Vannetta Chapman!

An Amish Proposal for Christmas  By Vannetta Chapman Synopsis: Her deepest Christmas wish will bring more than she imagined…in this novel by...