Tuesday, December 2, 2014

"25,000 Mornings: Ancient Wisdom for a Modern Life" by Fay Rowe

In this devotional, Fay Rowe gives readers simple, wise devotions for each day. While 25,000 mornings seems like a lot, it really is about 68.49 years. Why waste them? Start each morning with some joy and wisdom by getting into this book and your Bible.

During the holiday season, things can get frazzled and hectic. What do you do to prepare for your day? What about when it is just a "normal" day, one filled with the normal activities of life? Do you take the time to gather up strength to face what is coming? This devotional provides daily readings that will help encourage and strengthen you as you start each precious new morning. Fay Rowe has intriguing titles to draw you in, some of which are: "Beginning Again," "Words," "Parched," and "It Ain't Over." Short but powerful devotions - what better way to start the day!

I love devotionals because there is always something new and powerful to learn from God's Word. This one is not only good to start the day with, but also to have near-by for that extra shot of encouragement I sometimes need during the day. It is a book I plan to buy and give as gifts. If you enjoy devotionals, or are looking for a new one, try this one. It may just meet your need. I received my review copy from the Book Sneeze program in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

"The Brothers' Keepers" by NLB Horton

Grace Madison is doing her job cataloging looted artifacts when she gets some horrible news. Her daughter has disappeared and her daughter-in-law has been attacked. Then, there is the missing half of the scroll. What do these things have to do with each other?

Two women are in trouble, one in France and one in Switzerland. Grace, the mother, is in Brussels. Thus begins the race to find Maggie and help Becca. Once they are both safe, the begin looking for the other half of a scroll they have discovered. While the search takes them all over Europe, they find they are not alone in the search. Someone will do anything to stop them and get to the scroll first. Who is it and what is the importance of the scroll? Will all the pieces come together, or will the puzzle stay fragmented?

This was an interesting book filled with action and adventure. It was complex and worth learning the writer's style. I enjoyed the characters, the descriptions of places and events, and even the foreign words that made the story more real. If you like action and adventure, this book is for you. I received my review copy from Litfuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.
Book info for your blog post
About the book: 


The BrothersKeepers | RidgeRoute Press (November 2015)

A friend's deception. A family's dilemma.

While cataloging looted antiquities in Brussels, archaeologist Grace Madison learns that her daughter has disappeared in France, and daughter-in-law has been attacked in Switzerland. But before the Madisons can save themselves, they must rescue an old friend---if he'll let them. Navigating a deadly, four-thousand-year-old artifact trail that crosses three continents, they jeopardize hearts and lives against a foe as old as time---as time runs out.

Because choosing what's right is all that's left.
Purchase a copy:  http://ow.ly/EfxWh  

About the author:
 After an award-winning detour through journalism and marketing and a graduate degree from Dallas Theological Seminary, NLB Horton returned to writing fiction. She has surveyed Israeli and Jordanian archaeological digs accompanied (twice!) by heavy artillery rounds from Syria and machine gun fire from Lebanon. Calmly tossed a tarantula from her skiff into the Amazon after training with an Incan shaman. Driven uneventfully through Rome. And consumed gallons of afternoon tea across five continents. Her first novel, When Camels Fly, was released in May, 2014.TheBrothersKeepers her second in the Parched series, will be released November 17, 2014. The third in the series will release in the fall of 2015.

Find NLB online: websiteFacebook
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Saturday, November 22, 2014

"Destiny Defied" by J.A. Marx

Riki is an 18 year old who is trapped on an island.  She is not alone because of the four college boys who seem to be watching out for her. But still, she feels that something isn't right, that someone else is on the island and that they are watching her. But, Isaac tries to reassure her that no one else is there. Is he right? Does he know something she doesn't? What is hiding on the island?

A deserted island is not the place Riki wants to be. Yes, there are four young men there and that gives her a measure of security, but something is off. She constantly feels that she is being watched, and not by her new friends. She also feels an immediacy to find out what is going on and how to get off the island. That immediacy could be in response to what is happening underground. Riki has no idea that there is a world of darkness desirous of getting her back. Lord Vetis is willing to go as far as necessary to get her back.He even uses black magic to manipulate the five young adults. Will Riki be able to withstand the magic? Will her four friends be able to protect her? Will Lord Vetis be the victor? The answers await you in this first book of J.A. Marx's new "Destiny" series.

Another wonderful YA series begins, and I can't wait for book 2! The characters and story line are well written and drew me in quickly. The worst part of reading this book is waiting for the next one. Whether you are a YA or not, anyone who loves fantasy/sci-fi will really enjoy this book. It will draw you in, then leave you wanting to know more. I received my review copy from Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for an honest review.
Book info 
About the book:


Destiny Defied | Book One in The Destiny series.

A dramatic shipwreck emancipates Riki Hammad, but the island where she finds refuge is compromised. Unless she finds a power truly great enough to defeat her dark past, she will choose death over returning to captivity. Lord VĂ©tis, high priest of a cultic underground, will stop at nothing to reclaim their chosen one. Using black magic, he manipulates Riki and her four self-assigned bodyguards, triggering a battle that consumes the entire island. The underground will never allow Riki to live out her dreams of a normal life . . . something she has never known.

Purchase a copy:  http://ow.ly/DZjrR

About the author:
 J.A. loves writing embattled spirit novels --- adventure and suspense with supernatural undertones. On the side, she dabbles in non-fiction articles and e-zine editing. J.A. owes many thanks Jerry Jenkins and the Christian Writer's Guild for their support and education.

Find J.A. online: websiteFacebook,Twitter

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

"The Tree of Water" by Elizabeth Haydon

"The Tree of Water" is the fourth book in the Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme by Elizabeth Haydon. Although it is written for 10 - 14 year olds, it will appeal to all lovers of YA literature. Come follow the newest adventures of Ven, as he fulfils his royal missions.

In this installment of the series, Ven accompanies his friend, Amariel, on an exploration of the ocean, because there it something she wants Ven to see. But, another friend, Char, the one who is supposed to protect him, doesn't want Ven to go. But, in the end, they do go. Problems like breathing under water, communication, and navigating were solved; but other dangers and problems arose. Who is the Thief Queen and what does she want? Who are the merfolk they meet and are they friendly or not? What is it that Amariel wants Ven to see? Is anyone in real danger? How will they save those in danger? These questions and more are answered as you step into the Land of Serendair.

I really enjoyed this story, but then I do enjoy a lot of YA literature. Ms. Haydon paints her characters and settings realistically (for fantasy), drawing in her readers. I was totally fascinated. While I have not read the other books in the series, I will now. It is a book that will appeal to not only the 10-14 year olds, but adults as well. I received my review copy from PR by the Book in exchange for an honest review.



Interview with Elizabeth Haydon,
documentarian, archanologist and translator of Ven’s
journals, including The Tree of Water


Little is known for sure about reclusive documentarian and archanologist Elizabeth Haydon.

She is an expert in dead languages and holds advanced degrees in Nain Studies from Arcana College and Lirin History from the University of Rigamarole. Her fluency in those languages [Nain and Lirin] has led some to speculate that she may be descended of one of those races herself. It should be noted that no one knows this for sure.

Being an archanologist, she is also an expert in ancient magic because, well, that’s what an archanologist is.

Being a documentarian means she works with old maps, books and manuscripts, and so it is believed that her house is very dusty and smells like ink, but there is no actual proof of this suspicion. On the rare occasions of sightings of Ms. Haydon, it has been reported that she herself has smelled like lemonade, soap, vinegar, freshly-washed babies and pine cones.

She is currently translating and compiling the fifth of the recently-discovered Lost Journals when she is not napping, or attempting to break the world’s record for the longest braid of dental floss.

We had the chance to ask her some questions about the latest of Ven’s journals, The Tree of Water. Here is what she shared.


     1.          Dr. Haydon, can you give us a brief summary of The Tree of Water?

Certainly. Ven Polypheme, who wrote the, er, Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme, lived long ago in the Second Age of history, when magic was much more alive and visible in the world than it is now. His journals are very important finds, because they tell the story of ancient magic and where it still may be found in the world today.

In the first three journals we saw how Ven came to the mystical island of Serendair and was given the job of Royal Reporter by the king of the island, a young man named Vandemere. The Royal Reporter was supposed to find magic that was hiding in plain sight in the world and report back about it to the king. As you can imagine, this could be a fun but dangerous job, and at the beginning of The Tree of Water, we see that Ven and his friends are hiding from the evil Thief Queen, who is looking to find and kill him.

Amariel, a merrow [humans call these ‘mermaids,’ but we know that’s the wrong word] who saved Ven when the first ship he sailed on sank, has been asking Ven to come and explore the wonders of the Deep, her world in the sea. Deciding that this could be a great way to find hidden magic as well as hide from the evil Thief Queen, Ven and his best friend, Char, follow her into the Deep. The sea, as you know, is one of the most magical places in the world—but sometimes that magic, and that place, can be deadly.

The book tells of mysterious places, and interesting creatures, and wondrous things that have never been seen in the dry world, and tales from the very bottom of the sea.

     2.          The main character in The Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme series is Charles Magnus "Ven" Polypheme. Tell us about him.

Ven was an interesting person, but he really didn’t think so. He and his family were of a different race than the humans who made up most of the population where he lived, the race of the Nain. Nain are an old race, a little shorter and stockier than most humans, with a tendency to be on the grumpy side. They live about four times as long as humans, are very proud of their beards, which they believe tell their life stories, don’t like to swim or travel, and prefer to live deep in the mountains.

Ven was nothing like the majority of Nain. He was very curious, loved to travel, could swim, and longed to see the world. He was actually a pretty nice kid most of the time. He had the equivalent of a baby face because only three whiskers of his beard had grown in by the time The Tree of Water took place, when he was fifty years old [around twelve in Nain years]. He had a great group of friends, including the merrow and Char, who were mentioned earlier. It is believed that his journals were the original research documents for two of the most important books of all time, The Book of All Human Knowledge and All the World’s Magic. The only copies of these two volumes were lost at sea centuries ago, so finding the Lost Journals is the only way to recover this important information.

     3.          What kind of research do you do for the series?

I go to places where Ven went and try to find relics he left behind. Usually this is with an expedition of archaeologists and historians. I am an expert in ancient magic [an archanologist] so I don’t usually lead the expeditions, I’m just a consultant. It gives me the chance to learn a lot about magic and lets me work on my suntan at the same time, so it’s good.

     4.          What is/are the most difficult part or parts of writing/restoring the Lost Journals?

Here’s the list, mostly from the archaeological digs where the journals have been found:

1] Cannibals
2] Crocodiles
3] Sunburn
4] Sand flies
5] Dry, easily cracking parchment pages
6] The horrible smell of long-dead seaweed
7] Grumpy members of the archaeological expedition [I could name names, but I won’t]
8] Expedition food [when finding and retrieving the journal for The Tree of Water, we ate nothing but peanut butter and raisin sandwiches, olives and yellow tea for six months straight]
9] When salt water gets into your favorite fountain pen and clogs it up. This is very sad.
10] Unintentionally misspelling a word in the Nain language that turns out to be embarrassing [the word for “jelly” is one letter different from the word for “diarrhea,” which caused a number of my Nain friends to ask me what on earth I thought Ven was spreading on his toast.]

     5.          What do you enjoy about this series that cannot be found in any of your other books?

Getting to write about a lot of cool magic stuff that used to exist in our world, but doesn’t anymore. And getting to travel to interesting places in the world to see if maybe some of it still does exist. Also getting to show the difference between merrows, which are real, interesting creatures, and mermaids, which are just silly.

     6.          What do you hope readers take away from this book?

I hope, in general, that it will open their eyes to the wonder of the sea, which takes up the majority of our planet, but we really don’t know that much about it down deep. There is a great deal of magic in the sea, and I hope that if and when people become aware of it, they will help take care of it and not throw garbage and other bad stuff into it. I have a serious dislike for garbage-throwing.

Probably the most useful secret I learned that I hope will be of use to readers is about thrum. Thrum is the way the creatures and plants that live in the ocean communicate with each other through vibration and thought. As Ven and his friends learn, this can be a problem if you think about something you don’t want anyone to know about when you are standing in a sunshadow, because everyone gets to see a picture of what’s on your mind. Imagine how embarrassing that could be.

     7.          Are there more books coming in this series?

Well, at least one. In the archaeological dig site where The Tree of Water was found was another journal, a notebook that Ven called The Star of the Sea. We are still working on restoring it, but it looks like there are many new adventures and different kinds of magic in it. The problem is that it might have been buried in the sand with an ancient bottle of magical sun tan lotion, which seems to have leaked onto some of the journal’s pages. This is a very sad event in archaeology, but we are working hard to restore it.

As for other books, it’s not like we just write them out of nowhere. If we haven’t found one of Ven’s journals, there can’t be another book, now, can there? We are always looking, however. We’ve learned so much about ancient magic from the journals we have found so far.

     8.          You are a best-selling author with other books and series for adults. What made you want to write books for young readers?

I like young readers better than adults. Everyone who is reading a book like mine has at one time or another been a young reader, but not everyone has been an adult yet. Young readers have more imagination and their brains are more flexible—they can understand magical concepts a lot better than a lot of adults, who have to deal with car payments and work and budget balancing and all sorts of non-magical things in the course of their days.

Besides, many adults scare me. But that’s not their fault. I’m just weird like that.

I think if more adults read like young readers, the world would be a happier place.

     9.          Tell us where we can find your book and more information about where you are these days.

You can find The Tree of Water anywhere books are sold, online and in bookstores. There are several copies in my steamer trunk and I believe the palace in Serendair also has one. I also sent one to Bruno Mars because I like his name.

At the moment, I am on the beautiful island of J’ha-ha, searching for a very unique and magical flower. Thank you for asking these interview questions—it has improved my mood, since I have only found weeds so far today. I am hoping for better luck after lunch, which, sadly, is peanut butter and raisin sandwiches, olives, and yellow tea again.

All the best,
Dr. Elizabeth Haydon, PhD, D’Arc

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

"The SkinnyTaste Cookbook" by Gina Homolka

The popular website has come to life in a new cookbook! The recipes included in this cookkbook claim to be "light on calories, big on flavor." Are they? Will they help people eat a lighter, yet more flavorful diet? Take a look inside and discover the answer for yourself.

Gina Homolka is a home cook who wanted to lighten up her recipes and make them healthier. Then she started to blog about it. "Skinnytaste" is a very popular site attracting people from all areas of the healthy diet spectrum. With this new cookbook, Gina has found a new way of presenting her wonderful recipes. Open up the book to find recipes for such things as: "Petite Baked Crab Cakes," "Skinny Chicken Parmesian," "Kiss My (Shrimp and) Grits," and "Seasoned Sweet Potato Wedges." You will also find helpful hints for a more healthy, well-rounded diet. Pick it up. What have you go to lose?

I have enjoyed the SkinnyTaste blog for a long time, as have many of my co-workers. The recipes in this cookbook bring the blog to life, and invite you to eat healthy. One of my favorite recipes is the "Kiss My (Shrimp and) Grits," which happens to be on the cover. If you like the blog, or are looking for some new recipes for healthy fare, this book is for you! I received my review copy from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

"Invitation to the Life of Jacob" by Donald R. Sunukjian

The complete title of this book is: "Invitation to the Life of Jacob: Winning Through Losing," and Jacob is a perfect example of this. Through the trials and testings of his life, Jacob came out on the other side praising God. Come on! You are invited to study the life of Jacob.

This book is part of the "Biblical Preaching for the Contemporary Church" blog tour, and is well worth checking out. Jacob was a man who began life as the second twin, but the one God was going to bless. Instead of waiting for God to reveal His plan, Jacob listened to his mother and tricked his father. That action not only was a lie, it caused his brother to want him dead, and lead to separation from his family. But, God made things work out for His glory! Through his service for his family to the reunion with his brother, we can see God's hand. There is so much to learn from Jacob's life and this book will give you insights into those lessons.

While this book is written for preachers, I found it to be a great study guide for Jacob's life. I can't wait to dive in more! If you have a library for sermon preparation, or a library full of books for devotional study, this book will make a great addition to it. I received my review copy from Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

"Singing to a Bulldog" by Anson Williams

In this new book by Anson Williams ("Potsie" from Happy Days), readers will learn about his journey from being a janitor to actor, singer, director, etc. Mr. Williams tells his story giving a lot of attention to the man who inspired him - Willie Turner. Come, open this book and learn about a seemingly unrecognized job led Mr. Williams to the man who would guide and support him through some difficult times.

Anson Williams grew up in the 50's, with a critical father and a need to help his family financially. One of the jobs he had was that of assistant janitor under Willie Turner. Anson learned many life lessons from this gentle man, lessons that would help him become the person the world knows today. Willie had a hard life, but always gave Anson attention and encouragement, something this young man desperately needed. Some of the life lessons Anson learned from Willie comprise this book, each chapter a short part of the larger story. 

I really enjoyed this book. The contrasts between Anson's home life and work life were striking, and I grew to love Willie. Was he perfect? No, but he was an encourager. If you enjoy true stories that will teach you something, this book is for you. I received my review copy from FSB Associates in exchange for an honest review.

ABOUT THE BOOK
Singing to a Bulldog
From Happy Days to Hollywood Director, and the Unlikely Mentor Who Got Me There
By Anson Williams
Published by Reader's Digest
Hardcover: 176 pages
November 11, 2014; $14.99 US/$16.99 CAN; 9781621452256

Description
Growing up in 1950s California, young Anson William Heimlich showed very little promise. Clumsy, unsure of himself, and made to feel like a failure by his disappointed artist of a dad, Anson started working odd jobs as a teenager to help support his family. His boss at one of these jobs, an aging African-American janitor named Willie, unexpectedly became a mentor -- and the lessons he taught young Anson proved to be invaluable throughout his subsequent career as an actor, director, and entrepreneur.
In Singing to a Bulldog, Anson Williams (as he came to be known) relates both these lessons and the never-before-revealed stories of the many seminal TV series he has worked on and the famous (and not-so-famous) folks he's encountered during his 40 years in Hollywood, including:
  • the day Robin Williams woke up Happy Days
  • being directed by Steven Spielberg in his first dramatic role
  • getting kidnapped by Gerald Ford's daughter at the White House
  • subbing for Sammy Davis, Jr., as a headliner with Bill Cosby 
  • being humbled by Sunny, a young volunteer for the Cerebral Palsy National Organization
  • being inspired by Shailene Woodley on the set of The Secret Life of the American Teenager and many more.
This compelling read has a cross-generational and broad appeal, combining all the fun of a celebrity memoir with the emotional impact of an inspirational bestseller. With Singing to a Bulldog, Anson Williams brings his gift of storytelling to a new medium in a book that is sure to touch readers' hearts and lives as profoundly as Willie once touched his.
Author BioBest known for his Golden Globe nominated role as Warren "Potsie" Weber on the series Happy Days, Anson Williams is also an award-winning television director and writer as well as a singer and producer. He has directed more than 300 hours of television for a variety of series, including Beverly Hills, 90210, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and The Secret Life of the American Teenager. He won the prized Humanitas Award for his writing, has been honored by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and served on the board of the USO. Together with business partner JoAnna Connell, he founded StarMaker Products, an international product company. He lives with his wife and five daughters in Los Angeles, California.
Reviews
"Singing To A Bulldog is such a meaningful, fun, and uplifting book. I have such sweet memories of Anson . . . like millions of others, I loved him on "Happy Days." I am proud to be a little part of this wonderfully written, revealing, informative, and entertaining book. Praise and congratulations to Anson."
-- Dolly Parton
"I've always known Anson to be a great storyteller as well as a true and generous friend. Now he's written the most important story of his life -- about Willie Turner, the head janitor at one of Anson's first jobs, whose words of wisdom guided him through a turbulent time in his life and gave him the confidence to move forward to a successful career as an actor, television director, and entrepreneur. Even better, he's made it into a truly inspirational book of life lessons for the rest of us."
-- Ron Howard