Thursday, June 30, 2011

Prayer Walk by Janet Holm McHenry

Prayer Walk by Janet Holm McHenry is an easy to read primer on how to jump-start both a prayer life and a fitness routine. McHenry shares reasons why walking is an excellent way to boost your health, lose weight, gain strength and how to turn an ordinary stroll into a life-changing pursuit of God. She teaches how to pray, why to pray and gives ideas of things to pray for. The back of the book has a study guide and gives instruction for a group leader to start a prayer walking group of her own.

This little book is big on information. Published by WaterBrook Press, the back reads:

Challenge your body. Feed your spirit. Change the world.

Ask any Christian woman about her most recent New Year's resolutions, and you'll likely find that "exercise regularly" and "pray more" were at the top of her list. We all long to look and feel our best, to live actively and healthfully. More than that, we desire to connect intimately with our God. Yet physical health and spiritual growth often take a backseat to the urgent demands of grocery shopping and bill paying, time with friends and family, and long hours at the office.

It's time to exercise your prayer life.

Thirteen years ago, author Janet Holm McHenry suffered from depression, weight gain and exhaustion. Then she began a prayerwalk routine that not only transformed her life but also profoundly impacted the lives of those around her. Learn how you, too, can set out on a journey to increased energy, better health, and greater joy--and experience a rich, full prayer ministry that will have a lasting impact on your loved ones and community.

This book was provided for review by WaterBrook/Multnomah.

The Heart of Memory by Alison Strobel

The Heart of Memory by Alison Strobel is unlike any Christian novel I've read before. Absolutely gripping and fascinating. Alison has taken a subject that I've never heard of and written a remarkable story. My only complaint is that it seemed to be wrapped up too quickly at the end, it left me wishing for more.

Savannah Trover is a Christian writer and speaker who suddenly falls ill and has to have a heart transplant. After the transplant she notices that things about her have changed, like a sudden craving for all things strawberry, and an intense dislike for God. How can she go back into the routine of speaking and writing and proclaiming love for the Lord when she isn't sure she believes in Him anymore?

This is one that you don't want to miss! New from Zondervan, it can be purchased here.

This book was provided for review by the Amazon Vine program.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Love Letters in the Sand by Diann Hunt

It's been far too long since Diann Hunt has released a new book, but Love Letters in the Sand was worth waiting for. It's a perfect summer read that I savored every page of. Step back in time to the mid 1950s when Elvis topped the charts and it was safe for a young woman to get lost in her thoughts while walking alone on the beach in the evening. The story of Julia & Stefan's young love was so well-written that it warmed my heart and made me remember long ago pinings of my own summers.

Young love separated by time and distance is what Julia and Stefan faced when he was sent overseas during WW II. Seventeen years later Julia is still aching over the lost love and wondering what ever happened between them when she meets Lucas, new in town. Can she risk opening her heart to love again? What about the secrets from Lucas' past? Will Julia ever be able to trust him when she finds out the truth about him?

This book is dotted with scenery from the 50s including the Cherry Coke at the diner, the malt that is shared with friends, a few (now) classic films that are seen. Truly a wonderful way to spend a few days.

Thanks so much, Diann, for this CLEAN READ!

This book was shared with me by the author. You can purchase a copy here.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Trigger by Hon Hoh

I did not find this book as fascinating as I'd hoped to. I actually found it to be quite "sensational" and unbelievable. I couldn't get through the whole thing because it angered me. It felt more like I was being force-fed the author's beliefs than I was reading a story.

Here's what it's about:

Do each of us play a role in the kingdom of God? Can the choices we make affect God’s timing of future events? Hon Hoh examines these questions while taking his readers on a riveting adventure in The Trigger: A Novel on the Revelation. Through twists and turns, readers will be led on a powerful journey.

The Trigger follows three individuals (a pastor, a spy, and a missionary) from three continents (the United States, China, and Australia) who find their lives merged in a single divine purpose: to win the last unreached people group on earth and usher in the Second Coming of Christ. They must succeed in order to release the trigger for the return of the Lamb as declared in Matthew 24:14

In their way stands a legion of demonic principalities intent on destroying the plan. Against the backdrop of unprecedented persecution and the onslaught of cataclysmic events, they must remain steadfast in order to carry out the priority revealed to them by God. It is evident that no believer will escape the greatest tribulation in human history and that only the matchless return of the King can deliver mankind from evil’s reign.

The climactic battle between Good and Evil unfolds as Lucifer executes his definitive act of defiance: the global genocide of all Christians. With the sound of the trumpets reverberating throughout the heavens, the events that have been set in motion must now complete their course. Eternity and the fate of the earth are at stake, and there is no plan B.

Far more than just another End-Times novel and theologically distinct from the Left Behind series, Hoh will alter the way you see the world and prepare you for the future. This novel is based closely on Hoh’s theology expressed in his book Risen Lamb, Empowered Saints: The Book of Revelation Made Easy. Although the events described are entirely fictional, they are but one of many plausible scenarios in which the end could occur. Though these depictions may not arise for more than another hundred years, it is conceivable that they could begin to unfold within the next decade—or less.

This book was provided for review by The B&B Media Group

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Vision of Lucy by Margaret Brownley

When I spend over a week trying to get into a book and am only at page 54 I know it's not the book for me. Such is the story with Margaret Brownley's A Vision of Lucy. The premise is a good one, female photograper in the late 1800s trying to make it into the local newspaper with her work. The execution of it doesn't work well for this reader. In just the few pages I read I felt like time and time again things were over-explained.

Case in point: "Though the students for a liberal amount of reading, writing, and arithmetic with their Bible lessons, no one dared call it a school. The Texas constitution required that a separate building be provided for colored children, and Reverend Wells stubbornly refused to comply. He insisted that separating pupils based on the color of their skin went against God's will. Since no such law governed churches, Rocky Creek was able to educate its young beneath a single roof....Twelve year old Johnny made a face, but he scampered up the steps of the church, which doubled as the school..." (pages 53-54)

The reader already knows it's being used as a school as the first paragraph tells us, to mention it again is redundant. I found many instances of this and couldn't bear to read any further.

This book was provided for review by BookSneeze and Thomas Nelson.

Monday, June 6, 2011

An Unlikely Suitor by Nancy Moser

Every time I begin a book by Nancy Moser I think it won't be as good as the last, and every time I am proven wrong. An Unlikely Suitor is perhaps my favorite so far, due to the subject matter (which I'll get to in a bit). Nancy Moser is one of those authors that when I start to read I don't want to put the book down. She quickly grabs your attention and before you know it the story is playing out in your mind.

This volume takes us from New York City at the end of the 19th century and progresses north to Newport, Rhode Island. The characters include a family of Italian immigrants.

See why I love this story? Rhode Island and Italians. What could be better? Maybe more linguine with clam sauce.

This book also has some mystery, intrigue and some surprises that I never saw coming!

From the back cover:

New York dressmaker Lucy Scarpelli befriends socialite Rowena Langdon as she's designing her summer wardrobe. Grateful for Lucy's skill in creating fashions that hide her physical injury, Rowena invites Lucy to the family mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, encouraging the unusual friendship.

One day Lucy encounters an intriguing man on the Cliff Walk, and love begins to blossom. Yet Lucy resists, for what Newport man would want to marry an Italian dressmaker working to support her family?

Rowena faces an arranged marriage to a wealthy heir she doesn't love, but dare a crippled girl hope for anything better?

And Lucy's teenage sister, Sofia, falls for a man well above her social class--but is he willing to give up everything to marry a woman below his station?

As the lives of three young women--and their unlikely suitors--become entagled in a web of secrets and sacrifice, will the season end with any of them finding true happiness?

Thanks to Bethany House Publishers for this review copy.

Thanks Nancy, for this CLEAN READ!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Blackberry Bush by David Housholder

The Blackberry Bush by David Housholder is one of the strangest books I've ever read. It begins with Angelo (the angel) telling the reader to, "...uncover your own backstory that will change you in ways you can never imagine. And you'll never be the same again..." With that big of a statement I truly thought I was in for something special. Perhaps if I had never taken time to contemplate my own life in the scheme of eternity it may have spoken to me like a lightning bolt in my foggy mind, but having acquianted myself with the Bible from a young age I've never gone for a moment without knowing that everything is woven together by the Lord. An arrogant statement to begin a book with in my opinion.

This story follows several people and how their lives are woven together through the years until the culmination of a near disaster. I found it very hard to read, it didn't grasp my attention and while the end notes say that it's laced with symbolism (some that needs to be dug deep to be found) I didn't think it was all it was promised to be.

Yes, I was disappointed, but I do have a friend who saw this book from a totally different view and she loved it. You can read her review here. Just goes to show you that not every reader will love every book.

About the book:
Some mistakes are just a part of the bigger plan.
Can the lives of two strangers intertwine to influence the world?
Have you ever wondered if there is a bigger plan to your life or if everything just happens by chance? In his newest book, The Blackberry Bush, David Housholder will take you on a journey across two continents to discover that your life may be bigger than you think and that even the worst of mistakes can find redemption. While on this journey, he will also examine today’s youth cultures and their complex relationship with the Christian faith.

According to Housholder, “We are all products of an extensive root system, whether or not we believe it or acknowledge it.” The tapestries of our lives have been woven together using the pasts of our parents, grandparents and generations before who influenced who we will become. But we can take the mistakes from their pasts and weave them into something beautiful in our futures. We can be a product of generational blessings and generational curses, but it is up to us to sort it out.

The Blackberry Bush begins with two babies, Kati and Josh, who are born on opposite sides of the world at the very moment the Berlin Wall falls. You would think that such a potent freedom metaphor would become the soundtrack for their lives, but nothing could be further from the truth. They will follow a parallel path connected by a mistake their great grandparents made years before.

Despite his flawless image, Josh, an artistic and gifted Californian skateboarder and surfer, struggles to find his true role in the world. He fears that his growing aggression will eventually break him if he can’t find a way to accept his talent and the competition that comes along with it. Kati, a German with a penchant for classic Swiss watches and attic treasure-hunting, is crushed with the disappointment of never being “enough” for anyone—especially her mother. She wonders whether she will ever find the acceptance and love she craves and become comfortable in her own skin.

Craving liberation, Kati and Josh seem destined to claim their birthright of freedom together. With the help of their loving grandparents, they will unlock the secrets of their pasts and find freedom and joy in their futures. Today, like Katie and Josh, our youth often fall into two different cultures. Josh is part of the “bro” culture which is outdoor-oriented, with sports as a focus, and generally more conservative. Whereas Kati is part of the “scene” culture which is more liberal and indoor-oriented, focusing on music. These cultures are apparent in the novel and can aid in a better understanding of the issues today’s 21st century youth are facing as well as the struggles they have in coming to faith.

“The Blackberry Bush is a beautifully written novel of two characters’ search for meaning and their powerful rescue from the relational and societal expectations that are crushing them. It’s the story our own hearts might tell from our journey through life,” says Debby Griffith, radio host of Everyday Matters. Housholder’s journey will take readers into the deepest recesses of the soul while pulling them from their own thorny thickets. And along the way we may just discover a life of redemption and meaning.

View the trailer for The Blackberry Bush here.

This book was provided for review by The B&B Media Group

Can You Get Hooked on Lip Balm?

Can You Get Hooked on Lip Balm? From the creators of, while full of interesting information, is not as thorough as I'd hoped it would be. It was easy to read and I whipped through it in a little over an hour. Some of the product details are good to know (that Pantene and TreSemme are as good as salon products), but the fact that this book denies that parabens and other ingredients in hair/body care products are of concern is a little disheartening. This book also has some unkind things to say about products with natural ingredients (in other words, it's biased towards mainstream products). Some good information, but you still need to use your own judgement when choosing products to put onto your skin (your largest organ).

This was provided for review from The Amazon Vine Program.

Forever After by Deborah Raney

While I did enjoy reading Deborah Raney's latest title, Forever After, I did find it to be a little unbelievable, predictable, and not as suspenseful as I'd hoped.

Jenna Morgan is a widow who was never in love with her firefighter husband, Zach. Lucas Vermontez was Zach's best friend, is also a firefighter and was on the scene of the fire that killed Zach (and also Lucas' father, among several other firemen). Jenna and Zach spent money that they didn't have to keep up appearances and to impress the wealthier residents of their town, including his parents. Jenna sells her house and moves in with her former in-laws who lay down some unrealistic "house rules" for this 29 year old to live by.

More fires at the same location as the fatal one, some romances, and the snobbish mother-in-law make this for one soap opera of a book. It is a clean read though and is light reading so if you're in for an easy beach read this might be the one for you.

Thanks to Glass Road Public Relations for this review copy.

Deborah Raney's first novel, A Vow to Cherish, was awarded a Silver Angel from Excellence in Media and inspired the acclaimed World Wide Pictures film of the same title. Since then her books have won the RITA Award, the HOLT Medallion, and the National Reader's Choice Award; Raney was also the finalist for the Christy Award. She and her husband, artist Ken Raney, make their home in their native Kansas.