Sunday, November 27, 2011

"House of Secrets" by Traci Peterson

How much of your memory can you trust? When is it right to keep silent? Bailee, Geena, and Piper Cooper are going to face those questions as they vacation with their father is WA. Bailee is the oldest and for years has cared for her sisters. Schizophrenia had claimed their mother, something that had affected not only their home life, but also any religious life they might have had. Confronting the memories and the feelings that accompany them will cause a variety of emotions to bubble up for all of them. Will they be able to handle the memories and support each other? Meanwhile, Mark Delahunt is interested in Bailee and in helping her through this rough time. Will Bailee let him in? Will any of them allow God to help them? Family secrets and their consequences are explored in this new book by Traci Peterson.

I was totally drawn into this story and its characters. There are many powerful topics for reading groups to discuss. Some are: schizophrenia and its effects on family and friends, secrets, forgiveness, and trust. Individual readers will also enjoy the story and the lessons it provides. I received my review copy from Bethany House, and thank them for it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"The House of Hope" by Elisabeth Gifford

"The House of Hope," what a wonderful name. It brings to mind a place where help is available and lives can be changed. That is exactly the ministry Robin and Joyce Hill were called to open. God gave them a love for the orphaned, medically challenged children in China. Through prayer and trust, the Hills watched God supply not just the children who needed them, but the building, caregivers, money, supplies, and countless surgeries. The home opened in 2000, and the work has helped more than 1,000 children. Not only were the children given much needed surgery for medical conditions like spina bifida, cleft palate, and "extrophy," but they were given love and the chance at what the Hills call, a "Forever Family." This book is the story of their journey, trials, victories, and faith. This book is the story of the children, some who wouldn't live, but all who were loved and given hope.

I was totally pulled into the Hill's story and began praying for the children and ministry they discuss. The stories are powerful and show God's love and care for the smallest among us. Parts of the story made me smile and some brought tears to my eyes, but sll brought the burden to pray for this ministry. I recommend this book to everyone, and encourage you to visit the website below. I was given my review copy by the Litfuse Publicity Group, and thank them for the opportunity.
About The House of Hope: One couple’s powerful ministry to some of China’s most vulnerable children
Robin and Joyce Hill lived in a gated community in Beijing. Their family’s life was marked by luxury and the security of Robin's job as an engineer. Then one day, as members of their church, they had a chance to tour a state-run orphanage. Haunted by the needs of the children they saw there, for the next four years they tried to help the institute in meaningful ways.

In 1998 the Hills planned to leave China, but instead felt a sudden call from God on their lives. They left their gated community--reserved for only non-Chinese residents--moved their family into a small apartment miles outside of Beijing and immediately began to take in foster children.

They took in any child, but especially those that needed extra care—terminally ill children that couldn't receive care elsewhere, and those that needed complicated and expensive surgeries that the Hills soon began to coordinate and sometimes pay for out of their own savings.

What began as Hope Foster Home is now New Hope Foundation. As they continue their work, the Hills enjoy support from major corporations and high-profile philanthropists as well as the trust of the Chinese authorities. The Hills' story is an inspiring example of God's care and provision for those whom society does not value. Learn more about Hope Foster Homes here:

"I strongly support Robin and Joyce Hill's New Hope Foundation which is saving so many orphan lives in China. Read this amazing story of God's grace and accept the challenge to make a difference!"
--Steven Curtis Chapman

"I had the privilege of going to China and witnessing the work that God is doing through Robin and Joyce Hill. They are wonderful servants of God who lovingly care for the 'least of these.' I hope that many will read this book and consider their example."
--Francis Chan, author of Crazy Love
About Elisabeth Gifford: Elisabeth Gifford is a journalist who has written for the London Times and the Independent Newspapers. She lives in Kingston, England, and teaches children with dyslexia.

Monday, November 21, 2011

"Hot Water" by Erin Brockovich

Accidents at a nuclear facility cause great concern in those living around it, and Owen Grandel needs to get some good publicity out about the work that the facility can do. He hires AJ Palladion and Elizabeth Hardy to help him. The money will certainly help AJ with her son David's medical bills, but she has to override her mistrust of Owen to take on the job. While AJ is in South Carolina, Elizabeth stays in West Virginia to watch over things there. What will happen when David's grandfather tries to get full custody while AJ is away? Will the weather cause any problems with the nuclear facility? Will the maniac be stopped in time? These and so many other questions are answered in this fast-paced, electric page-turner by Erin Brockovich!
Wow! This is not only an interesting book to read, but also one that is appropriate for today. The characters are life-like and the story is well-written. This book is great for many types of readers, but groups will especially enjoy discussing topics like: cerebal palsy, nuclear power, death, and child custody. It will certainly make you think as you follow AJ through the problems. I received my free review copy from FSB Associates, and thank them very much!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

"Love on the Line" by Deeanne Gist

You're an independent woman working as a switchboard operator and spending your off time studying birds. Then, the phone company sends a man to check in things. Would that get your back up? What about when you find out he really isn't a phone repairman, but rather a Texas marshal? Come meet Georgia Gail, the switchboard operator who is proud of what she has accomplished, and Luke Palmer, a Texas Ranger posing as the phone repair guy. The chemistry is fiery and the confrontations between the two electric. Can each see through their individual worlds to find love? Will Luke "get his man"? This entertaining story will keep your attention all the way to the end.

I really enjoy Ms. Gist's books. Her writing is realistic and shows just how much time she spends researching. In this book you can not only enjoy the story, but learn about being a switchboard operator and doing some birdwatching. The story comes to life as each character enters, bringing their own special charm to the book. I recommend this to a very broad base of readers including discussion groups. I received my free review copy from Bethany House and thank them very much!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

"Forever Faithful" (the complete trilogy) by Karen Kingsbury

"Forever Faithful" combines Karen Kingsbury's trilogy into one volume. "Waiting for Morning" is the story of Hannah Ryan. The life that she had with her husband and children was wonderful until a drunk driver took that happiness away.  Her personal journey of loss, love, and forgiveness, combined with those who helped her along the way, will keep you reading. "A Moment of Weakness" is the story of infidelity and broken dreams. Jade Connor's husband not only broke her trust, but now battles her for custody of her son. She and Tanner Eastman had a relationship in the past that ended badly, but he comes back into her life. Characters from the first book, like Matt Bronzan (the DA) show up here to help. "Halfway to Forever" brings all the characters from the previous two stories together. This story deals with the loss of a child, cancer, and love. How the story unfolds will have readers turning the pages to find out how the story ends.

I love reading books by Karen Kingsbury, and when the opportunity to read a complete trilogy came along, I jumped. The stories are wonderfully written and interwoven. The characters are real, the stories poignant. I found myself tearing up more than once. This book is great for any fan of Mrs. Kingsbury, and book clubs will enjoy the discussions these stories incite. Themes of love, loss, broken trust, infidelity, adoption, cancer, and more can be found within the covers of this book. I recommend it to all! I received my review copy from the Blogging for Books program and thank them so much for the opportunity!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

"A Year with Jesus" by R.P. Nettelhorst

Daily reflection, devotion, and prayer should be part of every Christian's life, but sometimes it is hard to get the routine right. Having a devotional to help start or end your day can be very helpful in keeping on track. This new devotional by R.P. Nettlehorst is filled with Scripture passages and thought provoking lessons that will give your day a boost. The peace that comes from spending time with the Lord in His Word is priceless. Come take the journey and begin "A Year with Jesus."

I love devotionals that speak the words of Jesus and give me inspiration and help for the day to help combat the discouragement and discord found in the world today. This book does that. There is wisdom in these pages that can be of use to everyone. This book will make a great gift, and will become a welcome addition to the family library. I received my review copy from the Book Sneeze program and thank them for it!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

"A Good and Perfect Gift" by Amy Julia Becker

How would you react to the news that your new baby girl has Downs Syndrome? That is the news Amy Becker received about her daughter Penny. Was she disappointed? heart-broken? feeling alone? "A Good and Perfect Gift" answers all these questions and more as Mrs. Becker shares her innermost thoughts about the first years with her daughter. The honesty and openness with which she approaches the topic will let you come away with a realistic view of what happens when a "perfect" life is hit with disappointment. The journal entries are poignant and open, the information about Downs Syndrome eye-opening. Faith, courage, disappointment, heartache, and love are just a few themes of this wonderfully written, true story.

This book ran me through the gamut of emotions. I cried, laughed, cheered, etc. finding understanding in the story of the Beckers and Penny. I appreciated the honesty Ms. Becker writes with, and her ability to bring me into her story. Parents everywhere can benefit from this story, especially when faced with the disappointments that can accompany parenthood. But, I think readers of all types can benefit from reading this book because life is full of disappointments and it is how we handle them and who we rely on, that shows what type of person we are. I received my review copy from Bethany House and thank them for it!

Sunday, November 6, 2011


Wow! What a storm we had. I have been posting so many reviews today trying to get caught up after losing power this week. It went out last Saturday, as the powerful Nor'easter pounded us, and there are still people without power today. I hope this isn't a precursor of a harsh winter!

"The Traitor's Daughter" by Paula Brandon

Jianna is a rich, spoiled eighteen year-old on her way to meet her fiance. Her world has filtered out what is really going on outside, but the troubling truth meets her when she is kidnapped by men standing against her father. What will she do when she discovers that her aunt is holding her hostage? Revolution, magic, kidnapping, plague, chaos, and love all come together in this novel where competing family members vie for control of the land. The magic is failing. Will anyone be able to save the land and its people? How will Falaste Rione fit into the story? Will Jianna ever really know the truth about her family?

This is the first book in a new trilogy by Paula Brandon, and I can't wait to read the next one. I loved the complex story and character line. It made me pay attention. There are also plenty of hooks to keep me waiting for the next one! I recommend this book to any reader who enjoys fantasy or even stretching their own boundaries. I received my review copy through Net Galley and thank them for the opportunity.
This new cookbook by John Gregory-Smith will have you enjoying the aromas of dishes from around the world in no time. Most recipes are accompanied by a picture of the dish, and each has a legend of the spices needed and ideas of what other foods would go well with the dish. He promises to use no more than five spices and delivers on that promise. It is interesting to learn more about the twenty-five key spices he uses and have an exotic recipe to try out right away. A few spices covered are: lemongrass, star anise, tumeric, and ginger. There are over 100 recipes to excite and encourage just about anyone. Come wake up your palate with some new treats today!

I really like this cookbook and can't wait to get a hard-cover copy. Reading on my Nook just doesn't do justice to the pictures. Some of our favorite recipes are: "Pomegranate, Fennel, Orange, and Watercress Salad" pg. 22, "Chinese Tiger Salad" pg. 28, "Grilled Haddock, Apple, and Coriander Salad with a Lemongrass Dressing" pg. 45, and "Grilled Red Snapper with a Mexican Salsa Verde and Corn Salad" pg. 151. I recommend this cookbook to anyone looking to add some adventure to their cooking.  I received my review copy from NetGalley, and thank them for the opportunity.

"Nocturne" by Syrie James

The blizzard that has caused Nicole's car to run off a mountain road, strands her in the cold with no help in sight. But someone saw the crash, and soon Nicole finds a way to be warm and comfortable with the help of a stranger. Michael has a mystery that surrounds him but Nicole ignores it and their relationship progresses into one of love. As the blizzard rages outside, emotions rage inside. There is something each of them hides from the other, something that keeps feelings in check. Will their secrets tear them apart or bring them together? Which secret is worse, or are both equal? Will Michael and Nicole find happiness or simply part ways?

This book was an interesting read, some of it was predictable, but much was not. The characters and story pulled me in, and the emotional ending brought a few tears. This book is a great beach read, or something to read when you are stuck indoors. I received my review copy from FSB Media, and thank them for the opportunity!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

"Bound for Glory" by Timothy R. Botts with Patricia Raybon

"Bound for Glory" is a wonderfully illustrated book of African American spirituals that will have you tapping your toes to the musical memories. Timothy Botts pulls you into the lyrics with his calligraphy, breathing new life into the music. Patricia Raybon then adds more to the song with her interpretive words. As you go through each section, it isn't only the song that captures the imagination, but the meaning behind it. Whether by the drawing or the words, readers everywhere will be impressed with the power of the message these spirituals offer. There are four sections enabling the reader to enjoy the flow of the words and the calligraphy. Some of my favorites are "Them Dry Bones," "Wade in the Water," "I Shall not be Moved," "The Gospel Trains' a-Comin," and "Oh Happy Day." What will yours be?

I have really been enjoying this book. Whether enjoying one of these spirituals the first time through or successive visits, I have felt drawn into the pictures. Then, reading the words has made everything so alive. It is a book I will enjoy sharing with others and think it is a great book to have in your home, on a coffee table perhaps. It will help create many wonderful conversations. I found a lot of wonderful memories in the songs and found myself singing along, which made me stop and really pay attention to the details. This book will also make a wonderful addition to a Sunday School class or Bible study group. I recommend it to everyone. I received my review copy from Tyndale Books and thank them so much for the opportunity!