Thursday, June 28, 2012

Five Miles South of Peculiar by Angela Hunt

Angela Hunt consistently puts out books that capture my interest from the moment I crack the cover open and Five Miles South of Peculiar is no exception. This book gently takes the reader to the fictional town of Peculiar, Florida, where the Caldwell sisters have lived all of their lives, in the family home. The estate, known as Sycamores, holds memories and secrets. Twins, Carlene and Darlene, have been separated by more than miles since Carlene has lived in Manhattan chasing her Broadway dreams. Darlene has raised a family and buried a husband during those years. Baby sister Magnolia has kept herself busy and has become a recluse, confining herself in the home.

Life slowly changes for everyone when disillusioned minister Erik Payne ends up on their doorstep begging for work in exchange for room and board. What he needs is a place to heal.

This story reminds the reader that family ties bind stronger than any other and that no one gets through life unscathed. What you do with your hurt is up to you, but healing is available when you learn to forgive.

Five Miles South of Peculiar is new and is available from Howard Books. 
This book was provided for review by Glass Road Public Relations.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Starring Me by Krista McGee

I haven't been this excited about a new author since I discovered the fabulous Jenny B. Jones. Krista McGee blew me away with her debut novel, First Date, and this follow up, Starring Me, is just as good, if not better. In we first met Kara and Addy in First Date (which told mostly Addy's story). This time we get to follow Kara McKormick as auditions for the role of a lifetime as co-host of a new teen based series in the likes of Saturday Night Live. This role to be filled is very specific and the girls auditioning for it have no idea that their "house mother" is actually the one they're auditioning for, and her real boss is teen singing sensation Chad Beacon, winner of America's Next Star. What ensues is a lot of girl-drama as the teens in the house try to outdo each other in front of their audiences, yet act like mini-diva's in the house, where it really matters. The only thing is, Chad and his family want his co-host to be a Christian girl and Kara, though she has all of the other qualities, isn't sure she even believes in God.

This is such a good book. Even though it's written for the YA audience, I loved it and can't wait until Krista's next book is released.

Teen girls will learn through the characters in the book and also through their circumstances. Krista writes the truth without being preachy. Excellent!

This book was provided for review by Booksneeze.

From the back cover:
Kara McKormick is told she's auditioning to star in a new teen variety show. It's what she isn't told that could change her life.
The feisty New Yorker moves or sunny Orlando to participate in a month-long audition, where she'll live with nine other contestants and an eccentric housemother. Kara knows that the show already has a big-time celebrity lined up for the co-host, but she doesn't know who it is.
Chad Beacon quickly rose to fame after winning America's Next Star, but he doesn't want his entire career to be about singing. There is so much more he wants to do-like act. The new variety show sounds like the perfect next step for him, but his parents want him to have a co-star who share his faith since they'll be spending so much time together.
Acting is high on Kara's priority list. But a relationship with God? Not so much. But God is after Kara's heart and He's put people in her life who are showing her there's far more to Christianity than rules and judgment.
And just when it seems that Kara's going to have to give up her acting dream, God reveals that she may have a starring role after all-in a story so big only He could write it.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Glamorous Illusions by Lisa T. Bergren

It is unfortunate that books such as Glamorous Illusions by Lisa T. Bergren aren't as easy to find as books without any substance. This book, the first in her Grand Tour Series, was a delight to read and I fully immersed myself into Cora's world.
The only thing that really bothered me was the way the book ended, very abruptly. I understand that it's the first in a series, but I want more. Now. Not later. *insert smiley face here*
Cora is a poor farm girl, accustomed to hard work. She wakes one day to find everything that she's ever known about home and family to be a lie. Thrust into a world that's unfamiliar, she soon finds herself taking The Grand Tour of Europe in the early 1900s.
It was interesting to watch Cora try to relate to those around her and to watch her grow into an even stronger young woman than she was at the beginning of the book.
This was truly a joy to read and I can't wait for the rest of the series.

From the back cover:
It's the summer of 1913, and Cora Kensington's life on the family farm has taken a dark turn. Not only are the crops failing, but someone dear to Cora is failing as well.
One fateful afternoon, a stranger comes to call, and Cora discovers a terrible secret about her past...a secret that will radically change her future.
Cora is invited to take the "Grand Tour" of Europe, a trip intended to finish a person's education and solidify an understanding of refinement and ancient culture. As she travels from England to France with kin she's never known, Cora encounters the blessings of a family name, as well as the curses. But when an unbidden love begins to form, she realizes there are far greater challenges ahead....
The first book in the Grand Tour series will take you on a journey of cultural refinement--but, moreover, on an inner journey of self-discovery.

Lisa T. Bergren is the award-winning author of over thirty-five books, with more than 2 million copies sold. A former publishing executive, Lisa now divides her time between writing, editing, parenting three children with her husband, Tim, and dreaming of her next trip to Italy.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Director's Cut by Janice Thompson

The Director's Cut by Janice Thompson is the kind of book you want to read when you need a fluffy escape. It is light reading with enough humor to make you giggle, romance to make you swoon and tenderness to lighten your mood. It's a perfect escape when life is crazy.

This book is not only entertaining, but educational. It was fun learning the insides of sitcom directing through the author's eyes. The characters were warm and delightful. I especially liked Lenora and her stories of the stars she knew way back when. 
Available June  2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group

From the back cover:
The one thing she can't direct is her heart.
Tia Morales is used to calling the shots. She's the director of the popular sitcom Stars Collide, and her life on the set is calculated and orderly. Well, most of the time. Life outside the studio is another matter. If only she could get other people to behave as well as her stars do! When she starts to have feelings for handsome cameraman Jason Harris-with whom she's been butting heads for months-it's enough to send a girl over the edge. Will she ever learn to let go and take life-and love-as it comes?
Full of the humor and crazy family dynamics Janice Thompson fans have come to love, this colorful story gives you an inside look at Hollywood and a healthy dose of romance.

Enjoy Janice's blog here. Where she shares stories of her time in Hollywood. And here is a nice article on Janice from Family Fiction.
This book was provided for review by Revell.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Praying God's Word for Your Husband by Kathi Lipp

Praying God's Word for Your Husband by Kathi Lipp is a book full of inspiring ideas from the Bible on how to cover your spouse in prayer. My favorite part was the section on "His Relationship with You" and how we need to pray for him in relation to other influences in his life that might distract him from his thoughts of his wife.
What bothered me about this book was how often the author mentioned her first husband, her first marriage. I felt that it took credibility away from her and honestly, it rubbed me the wrong way. I understand that for some reason things didn't work out and she was divorced, but some things are better left unsaid. It might give some readers the idea that there's an easier way out.
While this book may help readers learn how to pray for their husbands, my hope is that it also gives them a closer relationship to their heavenly father and that He will provide the strength to mend marriages so that divorce is no longer an option.
This book was provided for review by Revell.
Available June 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Anniversary Waltz by Darrel Nelson

The Anniversary Waltz is the debut novel by author Darrel Nelson and for the most part I enjoyed this book. It opens with a couple celebrating their 60th anniversary and re-enacting the conversation that they had decades ago when they danced together for the first time. This is something they've done on their anniversary ever since. 
The book then goes back to the beginning of their love story and gives background on both characters. While the story was good, I got bored about halfway through. It was sweet but didn't "wow" me. I found it to be forgettable.
I really enjoyed reading about the era that Adam and Elizabeth lived in. I've always been fascinated with the 40s and this was a fun book to live vicariously through.
It was a clean read and I applaud the author for that.

From the back cover:
At their sixtieth anniversary party, Adam Carlson asks his wife, Elizabeth, for their customary waltz. After the dance they gather the family and share their story. A story of love and courage overcoming adversity and thriving in the fave of overwhelming odds.
It's the summer of 1946 and Adam has just returned from the war to his home in Reunion, Montana. At a town festival he meets Elizabeth Baxter, a young woman going steady with his former high school rival and now influential banker, Nathan Roberts.
When Adam and Elizabeth share a waltz in a deserted pavilion one evening, their feelings begin to grow, and they embark on a journey, and a dance, that will last a lifetime.
This book was provided for review by Glass Road Media & Management and is published by Realms, a division of Charisma.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Treasures of Healthy Living by Annette Reeder and Dr Richard Couey

Treasures of Healthy Living by Annette Reeder and Dr Richard Couey is one of the best books I've ever read. It's actually a twelve week get-healthy program and Bible study all in one. It's a treasure trove of information that is subtitled, "A Journey Unveiling God's Plan for Ultimate Health and Relationships" and that's exactly what it is. The authors take the reader on a journey to discover exactly what the Bible says about what we should eat and how we should live. God truly did give Adam and Eve a gift when He told them that they could have anything in the Garden (save that one notorious fruit....) He provided everything that we need to live a long healthy life and alas, Twinkies and Oreo's weren't meant to be a part of that.
I've long believed that many of the diseases that plague our world are caused by what we eat and other environmental toxins and this book explains in detail all of that. It was eye opening (once again) to read the changes in our food supply over the past one hundred years. If people don't take notice of what they're doing to their bodies soon our hospitals will be over run. 
There is a natural cure to most every disease and this book can change your life if you will follow the principles in it.
I'm so excited about this that I plan to use it very soon as a twelve week class if I can get enough interest in it.
This book was provided for review by Glass Road Public Relations.
Annette Reeder is having a contest and you can win a Bosch Mixer, but hurry, contest ends June 15th. Enter here.
More about Annette:
Get ready to get healthy God's way. There are dramatic health benefits when we eat the food God provides for us instead of the processed packaged food man provides. Since changing their diet in 2003, Annette and her husband have come off of all their prescriptions, lowered triglycerides from over 900 to 140, lowered cholesterol from 300 to 160, and lowered their blood pressure to normal. 
Annette Reeder, a Biblical Nutrition Consultant, is leading people all around the country on an adventure with the power of food to change lives one meal and prayer at a time. Annette is a graduate of Liberty University and Huntington College Health Sciences and the founder of Designed Healthy Living a nutrition consulting ministry. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Waiting for Sunrise by Eva Marie Everson

Waiting for Sunrise by Eva Marie Everson was a delight to read. I didn't want to put this book down, even when it brought me to tears time and again. It isn't often that a book can capture my world like this one did. The characters came alive to me and I wanted to spend as much time in their world as I could. 
Young Patsy touched my heart and I ached with her as she got on the bus and headed to a new life.  How desperate her mother must have been to do that! And the open arms that greeted her made me cry all over again.
The dedication and patience of her husband was endearing and the surprises along the way made for a deep story.
I highly recommend this book. It's a perfect summer read. I enjoyed it on my back porch with a glass of lemonade.

Go here to enter a contest that the author is having. You could win a Kindle Fire!

Available June 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

This book was provided for review by Revell.

From the back cover:
Patsy Milstrap wishes she could leave her past behind. Though she tries to put on a brave front for the sake of her family, the wounds still ache, and the scars on her soul are still deeply felt. At her concerned husband's gentle insistence, they take a vacation on Cedar Key, an idyllic island on Florida's Gulf Coast. A week in paradise will do them good, he says.
When a familiar--and most unexpected---face greets her at a seaside restaurant, Patsy knows she can no longer fun from the past. But what will opening old wounds mean? And what will the future hold?
With a large helping of Southern charm. Waiting for Sunrise is a touching story of family, young love, and the need for forgiveness. Eva Marie Everson expertly draws out the bittersweet moments of life, weaving them into a tale that will envelop your soul.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Blood Sugar Solution by Mark Hyman, MD

I am a firm believer in the adage you are what you eat and this book reminded me once again that I need to get back to being more careful about what I put into my body. This is the only one I've got and I've got to treat it as the treasure that it is. 
The premise of this book is that you can reverse many illnesses by eliminating foods from your diet and reintroducing food that we were intended to eat. Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and many others can be controlled and even eliminated by simply following the instructions in this book. 
Most people don't want to hear that though. They're happily dying with a Diet Coke in one hand and a Big Mac in the other.
Unfortunately the foods that most of us eat are killing us.
If you are desperate enough, I dare you to read this book and follow the principles inside. You can change your life.
 About the book:
n 2010, Rick Warren was in the middle of baptizing 800 members in his California-based Saddleback Church when he made a startling discovery: Both he and a large number of his congregation were overweight.  Unfortunately, though what he discovered was sobering, it was not unique. In the past three decades, obesity, and all the myriad health risks that accompany it, has grown to epidemic proportions.
According to Dr. Mark Hyman,  a family physician and author of the five-time New York Times best selling non-fiction book, The Blood Sugar Solution, (Little Brown and Company, February 2012) over 70 percent of Americans today are clinically obese. Even more sobering is the fact that  the majority of those toppling the scale have no idea they may also be diabetic or pre-diabetic.  Hyman call this double-whammy health risk diabesity, a condition of metabolic imbalance and disease that ranges from a mild blood sugar imbalance to full blown diabetes. Diabesity is the 21st century’s leading cause of chronic illness, including heart disease, stroke, dementia and cancer. It is not only making us sicker. It is killing us.
Upon realizing that he and his congregation were weighing in on the heavy side, Warren decided to get religious about getting healthy. No stranger to leading scripture and prayer-anchored experiments in sustained personal growth and change, he had already successfully encouraged his congregation to form 5,000 small groups that met each week in their community to study, learn and grow together.  When he contacted Hyman to get advice on tackling the weight issue head on and described the small-community concept, the doctor got excited.
“It was a light bulb moment for me,” Hyman recalls. “Immediately, I envisioned using those same small groups as a means of creating healthy lifestyle change. Eventually, with the help of Drs. Mehmet Oz and Daniel Amen, we created an easy-to-follow curriculum for physical and spiritual health and renewal. Rick dubbed it “The Daniel Plan” because it is Daniel, in the Old Testament, who is responsible for forming the first health support group when he and his friends resisted the King’s rich food and wine. Not only did they become healthier for it, they also became a well-fit example for others to follow.”
 “The experiment that continues today at Saddleback may catalyze decentralized, community-based, systems approaches to health for corporations, cities, states and nations throughout the world,” he added.
“I wrote The Blood Sugar Solution as a personal plan for individuals to get healthy, for us to get healthy together in our communities and for us to take back our health as a society. Obesity and diabetes is a social disease and we need a social cure. My personal hope is that together we can create a national conversation about a real, practical solution for the prevention, treatment and reversal of our diabesity epidemic. “

This book was provided for review by The B&B Media Group.
Purchase a copy here.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Best Friend by Melody Carlson

The Best Friend by Melody Carlson is the second installment in her Life at Kingston High series for young adults. I'd recommend this book for 7th-12th graders. Melody once again proves that she's got what it takes to captivate young readers with stories that they will relate to and learn from. You'll meet Lishia Vance, a girl who's feeling abandoned by her church friends, looking for someone to relate to her. She re-friends Riley Atkins and has an overnight new image, but things aren't always as easy as they seem and Lishia begins to question Riley's motives and her own eagerness to find true friendship.

There were a few things about this book that I didn't like. One character yells at another and calls her, "you bi--". Yes, I get that the character is an evil person, but did we have to know what she was going to say? I think, "she let out an expletive" would have gotten the same point across.

The other thing is that Ms Carlson is showing her age by using phrases as, "her main squeeze" and "don't be such a wet blanket." Teens these days not only don't know what those mean, but probably have never heard them before.

Other than the half swear word, I recommend this book. Teen girls can learn a lot from Lishia's experiences with Riley and the other popular kids.

Available June 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

This book was provided for review by The Baker Publishing Group.