Friday, April 29, 2011

"The Alarmists" by Don Hoesel

Terrorists are at work in some new places. Or are they? An earthquake seems unnaturally imminent. Why? It is 2012. Does this have anything to do with the Mayan Calendar? Dr. Brett Michaels, a professor, receives a request to go to Washington DC and consult with a team at the Pentagon. There are no specifics, just that he is needed for a time. There he meets with Colonel Jameson Richards and his team and starts looking at the unusual data they have accumulated from all over the world. Meanwhile, forces are wielding their power in many places under the name Project: Night House. How much of what is happening is real and how much is contrived? How much is meant to make people believe the Mayan prophecy? As Brett sets out to help Colonel Richards' team find out, he finds himself embroiled in a conflict that will take him to other places in the world, and could take not only his life, but the lives of those around him.

This was a wonderful edge of your seat read; a classic good versus evil story. There were moments I didn't know who would survive, or what investigations would stir up. While quite a few characters are thrown into the mix in the beginning, it all makes sense quickly. I recommend this book to anyone who likes a good novel about espionage and intrigue. Thank you to Bethany House for my copy of the book!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

"No Place Like Holmes" by Jason Lethcoe

Griffin is an intelligent twelve year old who loves to solve things. So the opportunity to meet his uncle who lives at 221 Baker Street in London brings him great excitement! Could Sherlock Holmes be his uncle? After discovering that his unhappy, unfriendly uncle lives next door to Mr. Holmes, Griffin sets out to be a blessing to his uncle, rather than a burden. Together they set out to uncover the reason a clockmaker has gone missing. Along the way they have to uncover what a metal "Nessie," scraps of red paper, and missing explosives have to do with each other. All the while, unknown to them, they are followed by another sleuth. Who will unravel the mystery first? What will be Griffin's uncle's next invention?
This is a fun mystery aimed at the nine to fourteen age group (although I think people of all ages will enjoy it). The story keeps moving along with characters that seem alive. Mr. Lethcoe has set a great foundation for a series, and I for one, would love to read more. It is fun to step back in time and read about the mystique of Sherlock Holmes and those who sought to emulate his work. Thank you to the Book Sneeze program for my copy of the book!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

"The Whole Bible Story" by Dr. William H. Marty

The Bible is a wonderful book filled with the miracles, power, and love of God. But many people don't pick it up because they think it is difficult to read and/or understand. In his new book, "The Whole Bible Story," Dr. William Marty takes the reader through the Bible story using, as he puts it, plain English. The book breaks down the Bible's 66 books into 19 sections plus an Epilog. Each section points the reader to a part of the story, listing the main characters and settings to fill out each piece. When read as a whole, the reader gets an easy to understand synopsis. It can also be used in conjunction with the Bible because Dr. Marty also includes the Scripture passage(s) for each chapter.

I found this book a little hard to read because I love to read my Bible, and at times I thought the language here was too plain, too simplistic. The facts also didn't pull in a lot of the message and flavor of the Bible, the richness of the times. But, when I think of the many people who don't read the Bible but hunger for the story, I find this book could be useful to get them started. My fear is that they might never delve into a real Bible to find the complete story. Dr. Marty is extremely knowledgeable and his love for the Bible story is clearly seen through these pages. I want to thank Bethany House for my copy of the book. The opinions here are mine.

Monday, April 18, 2011

"Julia Child's The French Chef" by Dana Polan

Julia Child was a larger than life personality who revolutionized the way people viewed cooking shows, and the preparation and enjoyment of food. Yes, there were cooking shows before "The French Chef," but Dana Polan shows us in his book how Ms. Child's mannerisms and character combined with her love of French cooking to produce one of the most memorable cooking shows in television history. The show ran from 1963 - 1973, first in black and white then transitioning to color, leaving her mark on generations of viewers. The popularity of the show proved that a chef with a sense of humor, the opportunity to make and fix mistakes on the air, the love of bringing food to life, and the love of inviting people into her kitchen would be a huge success. Her invitation to cook and dine brought a "friendness" to the kitchen, which had many times been a place of drudgery. Dana Polan has done a tremendous amount of research to show just how revolutionary "The French Chef" was. the pictures and cartoons he has added bring flavor to the pages. One of the interesting points he makes is that Julia Child wanted the viewer to be more like a participant, desiring that camera angles were over her shoulder, not just front view of hands. While that didn't happen, she would romp around the kitchen making the camera and viewer follow along. Come, join him on this wonderful adventure into the history and learn more about the influence of "Julia Child's The French Chef."

This is a truly wonderful book. It was fun to relive my childhood memories of the show and to see how it ties into cooking shows before and after it. Julia Child tried to make French cooking look fun and normal for everyone, and this book brought all of those memories back. This book has encouraged me to look for her show wherever I can find it. It is a great book for individuals to read, but I also recommend it to groups especially if you can watch a show and discuss the book together. I received an advance copy through Net Galley and thank them for it!

"Max on Life: Answers and Insights" by Max Lucado

Do you have a question about salvation, the Bible, or your personal relationship with God? If so, you can probably find the answer in Max Lucado's latest book, "Max on Life: Answers and Insights to Your Most Important Questions." Mr. Lucado handles 172 questions in seven categories with wisdom and Scripture, and the questions are commonly asked and appropriate for each stage in life. It is easy to see that he has a personal walk with God and wants to share what he has learned with others. This book is a great resource for devotions (both personal and family), and for counseling.

I love having this book available in my home. My Bible is a first resource for questions, but sometimes the verse escapes me. This book will help with that. My favorite sections are "Home" and "Hereafter," although all are good. I recommend this book to all Christian workers and families. It can change lives. Thank you to the Book Sneeze program for my copy of the book. The opinions here are mine.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

"The Lightkeeper's Ball" by Colleen Coble

Can an arranged marriage bring love? The year is 1910, and Olivia Stewart's sister, Eleanor, has gone off to marry a wealthy man in hopes of securing her family's future. But, when Eleanor drowns before she is married, that obligation falls on Olivia. With her father and sister dying under mysterious circumstances, Olivia needs to be careful, especially after almost drowning herself. Harrison Bennett is the wealthy man Eleanor was supposed to marry, and the one who rescued Olivia from drowning, but what is he really like? Did he have anything to do with the deaths of her father or sister? Olivia sets out to discover the answers, finding love along the way, even planning the "Lightkeeper's Ball" to help replace things damaged by a horrible storm. What will become of Harrison and Olivia? Will she find the answers she is looking for?
Colleen Coble has once again drawn me into a story with a compelling storyline and wonderful characters. There are many twists and turns along the way, but I found them realistic and fun to follow. I loved the "frontier" feel of the book, with early trains, boats, and planes. This is a great book to read alone or in a group because you will want to talk about it with others. Thank you to Book Sneeze for my copy and the opportunity to write a review. I recommend it to all.

"Plain Proposal" by Beth Wiseman

Miriam and Saul are made for each other. But the road they travel is a rocky one. Miriam has always been ready to be a godly wife and mother, never thinking she will leave the community where she belongs. Saul has lead a double life. On one hand he has been a wonderful member of the community, and on the other he is a man with multiple family problems. The loss of his mother has led his father to drink, something Saul has tried to keep out of the public square. But, he doesn't think he can take it anymore. But, could Saul really leave? If he leaves, how will his brothers handle his father and the drinking? While she vows to stay by his side, Miriam finds that God shows her more of Himself and His plan for her life. Their story takes many twists and turns. Will they go away together, stay, or go their separate ways? Beth Wiseman answers these questions and more.
I love Amish fiction, and Beth Wiseman is one of the best! Her characters and story become real and almost impossible to put down because she takes the time to do her research. This book is great for individuals and groups alike. Many topics can be explored in discussion such as: alcoholism, family grief, depths of love, forgiveness, and commitment. I received a copy through Net Galley and thank them for the opportunity.

Monday, April 11, 2011

"The Final Summit" by Andy Andrews

"What does humanity need to do, individually or collectively, to restore itself to the pathway toward successful civilization?" This is the question David Ponder and fellow Travelers need to answer within a set time period. David had been feeling pretty lonely and somewhat depressed when the Archangel Gabriel came to take him to the Summit. Now he it thrown in many other Travelers from history, some he recognizes and some he doesn't, to discover the answer to Gabriel's question. Could this answer save mankind from destruction? Will they uncover the answer in time, or will the sands run out for them? How will the experience change David?

What a book! This novel took off quickly and raced to its conclusion, taking me on a thought-provoking ride. I really enjoyed reading about David Ponder and his quest, but was equally fascinated by the intense research Mr. Andrews did on the historical characters in this book. I am now on a quest to read more about many of them. This book is an idea- stimulating journey for individuals and groups alike. Can you figure out the answer to the question? I read this as an e-book from the BookSneeze program, and thank them for the opportunity. The thoughts here are mine.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

"When the Soul Mends" by Cindy Woodsmall

Hannah Lapp has moved on with her life. After leaving Owl's Perch, she moved in with her aunt, Zabeth, and began to heal. Hannah is almost finished with nursing school, is engaged, and is taking care of Martin's niece and nephew. Her life seems to be going along well until there is a fire in Owl's Perch. Returning to the Amish community is difficult for many reasons, but her sister's mental health deteriorates and she needs to find her professional help. While Hannah and Paul Waddell tried to stay away from each other, Sarah's needs cause them to work together. What will happen to Sarah when the community discovers the truth? Will Hannah and her family find true peace? What about Paul, Martin, and the children? What is the truth about the fires? "When the Soul Mends" puts the pieces together in this third installment of the Sister's of the Quilt series.

I love Cindy Woodsmall's writing style. Not only does she do her research, but her characters and story have life and breath to them. This book is great for individuals and groups alike, with a Reader's Guide that is helpful in looking beyond the obvious topics of love, forgiveness, mental illness, and healing. Many thank you's to the Blogging for Books program for my copy of the book!