Saturday, February 6, 2016

The History Major by Michael Phillip Cash

Amanda wakes up in a fog after a long hard night of partying. Nothing is the way it should be, and she becomes more and more confused as she struggles to determine what is going on. The people she meets, the class she never wanted, and the situations that surround her seem more and more puzzling. This novella is another masterpiece by Michael Philip Cash.

Mr. Cash always weaves a thought-provoking and well developed tale, and The History Major is no exception. I was often just as confused as the character of Amanda as to whether I was in her reality or her dreams.  Very seldom does a book keep me guessing as to the outcome, but this one did just that.  It gives the reader a little history, a little horror, a little paranormal, and a lot of heart. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Parables by John Macarthur

Parables The Mysteries of God’s Kingdom Revealed Through the Stories Jesus Told.
John Macarthur’s book, Parables, is an interesting and comprehensive look at the parables of Jesus. He explains to whom they were directed and the purpose of these stories in his overall teachings.  He presents the parables as lessons told not to make his stories easier to understand, but instead to keep the message hidden and only for those accepting his teaching.

Had it been better organized, Parables would have been a good reference book to use in your daily readings, but I found it difficult to find specific topics or references. It is a useful for those who teach and could also be used as a daily devotional. 

I received a copy of Parables from the Booklook blogger program.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook By Pearl Barrett and Serene Allison

Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook - Eat Up and Slim down is a large 350-recipe cookbook. Every page is printed on glossy paper. It is helpful in keeping your cookbook clean, but also makes the book quite heavy –very heavy. 

That was the good; unfortunately the glossy paper is all I really liked about the cookbook.   It is obviously an attempt to sell their own “Happy Mama” brand of food items, which is fine if they are readily available.  Almost every recipe has some specialty ingredient that is not available unless you live in an area with “health food” stores.

I am a little concerned when someone with no nutritional training writes a diet book and these two ladies were recording artists, no nutrition or medical training.

My first thought upon opening it was that the cookbook is written with pretentious ingredients: Pristine Whey Protein, Integral Collagen, MCT oil, Pressed Peanut Flour, Mineral Salt.  Folks, salt is salt, and all salt is sea salt. If you like Stevia, you may like this cookbook, but I personally don’t like it. While Stevia may be indicated for certain health conditions, the FDA has concerns about side effects on other conditions. Stevia and sugar are BOTH natural sweeteners. If you cut down slowly on how much sugar you use in recipes and you will quickly become accustomed to much less sweet tasting foods.  

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Searching for Jesus by Robert J. Hutchinson

Searching for Jesus is an enjoyable and interesting book on the historical Jesus of Nazareth. This
book is well-researched and has 51 pages of reference notes.

Robert Hutchinson’s writing is very engaging. He brings you into the room with Jesus at the Last Supper and brings to life the steps Jesus walked to reach the Garden of Gethsemane.  You get a true sense of place as the events unfold.  

While many books on the historical Jesus try to make him less than He was, Searching for Jesus shows that new research and archeological finds align with the Gospels.  Of course, I did not agree with some of the conclusions the author presents, but just use a little discernment and you will enjoy the book.

I received a copy of Searching for Jesus as part of the BookLook Blog program in exchange for an honest review.

Book Description

For more than a century, Bible scholars and university researchers have been systematically debunking what ordinary Christians believed about Jesus of Nazareth. But what if the most recent Biblical scholarship actually affirmed the New Testament? What if Jesus was not a Zealot revolutionary, or a Greek Cynic philosopher, or a proto-feminist Gnostic, but precisely what he claimed to be: the divine Son of Man prophesied in the Book of Daniel who gave his life as a ransom for many? What if everything the Gospels say about Jesus of Nazareth—his words, his deeds, his plans—turned out to be true? Searching for Jesus changes “what if?” to “what is,” debunking the debunkers and showing how the latest scholarship supports orthodox Christian belief.
About the Author
Robert J. Hutchinson is an award-winning writer and author who studied philosophy as an undergraduate, moved to Israel to learn Hebrew, and earned a graduate degree in New Testament studies.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Ashley Bell by Dean Koontz

For full disclosure, I am a long-time Dean Koontz fan. I enjoy his writing so much that I read this very long book even though I can’t say it was my favorite Koontz book. The story unfolds as we meet Bibi, her illness, her mission, and then the “wrong people”. Who are they and will she survive something more dangerous than her illness? I had no idea where the story was going when it first started, but page by page it branched out, came back together, and then twisted as it increased in intensity. While I like the way the short chapter style gives me the opportunity to mull over the story and take it all in, I thought the way the chapters were presented were too interruptive of the story. I liked the characters and think they were well-developed. The surfer dude dialog was a little odd for this Midwesterner, but all of the terms used were explained. As much as I do love reading his books, I do think this one was too long. I also think that there were too many unanswered questions left hanging. Or perhaps by the time I got to the end, I forgot what happened at the beginning!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Monsterland by Michael Phillip Cash

The hottest tickets in town are for the opening of the new amusement park, Monsterland. The new park has real vampires, zombies, and werewolves, all properly contained in this massive new project.  An eclectic group of local teens score tickets to the opening night which turns out a little more exciting than they expected.

Of course things went a little crazy or it would not have been such an exciting read. I was especially impressed with the way the characters were crafted. Each was unique and the teens dialog was true to their ages.  The step-dad trying to relate with the children was a nice addition.

Although it was written for a younger audience, I thoroughly enjoyed Monsterland.  I think it may be my favorite from this author so far!

I received a copy of Monsterland from the author in exchange for an honest review.

This is Camino by Russell Moore, Allison Hopelain, with Chris Colin

I have to admit that this is of the oddest cookbooks I have reviewed yet.  The recipe chapters are
broken down into The Basics, Vegetables, Fish, Chicken and Egg, Duck, Lamb, Pork, Dessert, and Cocktails. The book consists of recipes with many unusual ingredients that are not readily available outside of areas with specialty stores.

If you regularly visit Camino, then you may be interested in the people described and recipes included in this book. Chapter 3, A Week at Camino, is diary of the daily chores and duties involved with the running of Camino. For example, Wednesday 4:18 p.m., Becca the hostess, works a feather duster around the room.  Thursday, 5:32 p.m. Allison readjusts the lights. It isn’t very interesting unless you are familiar with the people and restaurant.

I was excited to find one recipe “Fried Hen-of-the-Woods Mushrooms, Scallions, and Herbs with Yogurt and green Garlic, although it contains ingredients I have yet to find.  I was a little less excited to find the Pig’s Head and Trotter Fritters. I did learn quite a bit searching for the definition of ingredients like Trotters, Jaggery, Korean Perilla and Shiso.  Just in case I decide to build an outdoor kitchen, there is a lesson on cooking over a wood fire.

I suspect that restaurant insiders will love this book, but I didn’t find it interesting or useful.

I received a copy of this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, November 2, 2015

How the Grandmas and Grandpas Saved Christmas by Richard J. Gausselin

Santa’s elves catch a cold a week before Christmas and can’t work on the toys! Joe, an elder elf, was listening to Santa talk about his grandfather when he came up with the perfect solution – Grandparents.

How the Grandmas and Grandpas Saved Christmas is an absolutely delightful Christmas tale.  The story is beautifully written and illustrated.   The story emphasizes love, friendship, family and does it brilliantly. It is a perfect book to read on Christmas Eve, or to break up into sections to read each day leading up to Christmas. 

It also has very nice full-page illustrations. Some of them are very detailed, and younger children would have fun picking out toys and tools in the pictures. I highly recommend this thoughtfully written book. Reading this book with your children or grandchildren could be a fun yearly tradition.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Let's Go to theMarket by Dullingham, Hertzog, and Honeck

This is not your ordinary child’s book. There is not story in this book, but a series of questions to inspire creative, critical, and mathematical thinking.  On one page is a photograph of a child in a food market, and on the next page are questions about the photo or about a market.

While I like the concept of creating discussion and creative thinking, some of the questions just did not seem to go with the age group recommended for the book (3-5). For example, one of the questions was: “Create a story in which you are a type of bread (for example, baguette, ciabatta, Challah, pita, focaccia).   Is a 3-5 year-old going to understand different types of bread?

The photos were at times a distraction to the questions. One of the pages had a photo of two girls in a bakery case with questions about the desserts. The girls are blocking the view of the case and the desserts on the case so blurry that it was difficult to get an answer to the questions about the desserts in the photo.  

It also should also be noted that this was not about a child’s trip to a supermarket visit. The photographs appear to have been taken at open-air markets and a fish market.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

God Gave Us Sleep by Lisa Tawn Bergren


God Gave us Sleep is another in the wonderful God Gave Us.. series by Lisa Tawn Bergren and illustrations by Laura J. Bryant. Youngsters usually don’t like going to bed and Little Cub is no different.  Mama Bear explains why God created us to need sleep and how we need it for energy and patience.  Little Cub learns the hard way what happens when you don’t sleep well.

This book is beautifully written and illustrated, and it is just the right length for a good bed-time story. I loved that the story ends as Little Bear is having soothing and calm dreams and then waking refreshed. That is helpful for the child just settling down to sleep. I highly recommend this for young children.

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

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Berenstain Bears Harvest Festival By Mike Berenstain

It is autumn and Mama, Papa, Brother, and Sister are all enjoying the outdoors.   The Chapel in the Woods is holding a Harvest Festival at a local farm and the Berenstain family decides to go.  On their walk to the Festival the family takes in the sights, sounds, and smells of the season, and talked about God’s blessings for all of the things He created. They arrive at the Festival and it was everything you would see and do at a country festival.

This is a wonderful book of a loving family of bears with subtle lessons of life, love and doing right. The cubs learn about seeing God’s blessings all around, growing food, eating healthy and giving thanks. The illustrations are very nice with a lot of detail that adds to the story.

 I think the Living Lights Berenstain Bear books are such a refreshing addition to the existing line of books. The topics are always about doing good, kindness, and love, with a touch of faith.

I received a copy of this book as part of the BookLook blogger program.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Goodnight, Ark by Laura Sassi

It is bedtime on Noah’s ark and the animals are ready for bed. It is raining outside and the animals run to jump in Noah’s bed. They cause quite a fuss as two by two they flock to be by Noah. Kindly and soothingly Noah gets them all back to their own bunks and feel safe.

This is a beautiful padded cover board book with wipe-clean pages. Goodnight, Ark is the perfect story for youngsters getting ready for bed especially if it has been a busy hectic day.  It takes the busyness of the day and through rhyme brings a calm conclusion.  The illustrations by Jane Chapman are excellent and help tell the story.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Author Spotlight - Carole P. Roman

Author Spotlight
I would like to spotlight the work of one author that never fails to impress me.  Although I have never counted them, over the past couple of years, I have reviewed quite a few children’s books by author, Carole P. Roman.

 I was first introduced to her work with her If You Were Me and Lived In… series of children’s books. In each book she introduces children to different countries and cultures around the world.  All of the books in this series explore what is of interest to children.  Each book follows a similar format. They begin with information about the country’s location, important cities, and landmarks.  They also answer questions that children would ask. What do you call your parents? Where do you go for fun? What kind of toys do you play with? What kind of foods do you eat?  The book also describes holidays, local events, schools, and much more.  I am not sure I have covered them all, but I know the following countries have their own books that start If You Were Me and Lived In….India, Australia, Mexico, Kenya, South Korea, Russia, China, Scotland, Peru, Hungary, Greece, Norway, Portugal, Turkey, and France. 

Another fun and interesting series is Carole’s Captain No Beard pirate books.  Alexander has a vivid imagination and with each book he fades into an imaginary adventure aboard The Flying Dragon pirate ship. He has a crew of friends that have great pretend escapades.  There is always a subtle lesson that emphasizes friendship, teamwork, cooperation, and doing what is right.  Although I haven’t read all of them, these are the books that I know are in this series:

Captain No Beard: An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate's Life
Pepper Parrot's Problem with Patience: A Captain No Beard Story 
Stuck in the Doldrums: A Lesson in Sharing- A Captain No Beard Story
Captain No Beard: Strangers on the High Seas, Book 4 of the Captain No Beard Series
Fribbet the Frog and the Tadpoles: Captain No Beard (note: my personal favorite)
Captain No Beard and the Aurora Borealis (Captain No Beard Stories)
The Crew Goes Coconuts!: A Captain No Beard Story Volume 6
A Flag for the Flying Dragon: A Captain No Beard Story

Another book of Carole P. Roman, not part of a series, is I Want To Do Yoga Too. A young child, Hallie, goes with her mom to yoga class, but isn’t allowed to join in.  When she tells the babysitter how much she wants to do yoga, the sitter teaches her four yoga poses.  This is a very fun book for young children that will immediately want to play along and do the poses.

Carole also presented a book Whaley's Big Adventure: Presented by Carole P. Roman written and illustrated by her 5 year old grandson, Alexander Luke. It is an interesting book that teaches children about different kinds of whales.

Her blog
Her Amazon site

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Fold by Peter Clines

This is the type of science fiction that I enjoy. It is set in a time in which I can relate and with people I can understand.  Mike Erickson seems to be an ordinary small town guy, but he is hiding behind his very unique talents. He is quite satisfied teaching high school English, but he is finally offered an opportunity to use his talents for something so much more important.

I liked the character of Mike, and as the story progressed understood the references to ants that the character used to describe what was going on in his brain. I thought the pace of the story was very good, building up steadily to the climax. There was a bit of a mystery added to the story, and I did not guess the outcome until it was revealed.

My only complaint about the book is the totally unnecessary language.  One character in the book uttered the phrase “f- me” so many times I decided she was just not even a relevant character to the story and should have been left out.

If You Were Me and Lived in China by Carole P. Roman

The next stop in Carole P. Roman’s trip around the world is China. A little more detailed than previous If You Were Me… books, and it contains many more details about the country and people. As in the previous books, I learned about location and landmarks in China, favorite foods and games, and festivals and customs. All of the information a child would want to know about children far away is answered, including naming conventions for the children and what children call their mothers and fathers. The illustrations are always bright and colorful and the text is an easy-to-read size. These are a series of informative and interesting books that bring places around the world to life. I recommend the entire series of books for parents, grandparents, day care, and early school years. They would also be helpful for Sunday School groups to create interest in missions.

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