Saturday, January 28, 2012

Four Letter Words

A "needed" book?? Yep, this is it!  I have three teenage boys that I am trying to prepare for the big world - and what do we discuss with them the most?? How to stand firm in what we believe and how to share that with others.  So I feel that Bill Giovannetti has hit the nail on the head with his book, Four Letter Words.  We need to know WHAT we believe, WHY we believe it and WHAT to say when it seems there are no ways to put it into words - Giovannetti does just that.  As a pastor and professor - he's been through the trenches and knows how to put our faith into words that others will relate to.  This is relevant for everyone, but especially so with our teens and those heading into college - as this is when we get challenged and asked so many of these tough questions. 
Don't just take my word for it though - here is what others on the book blog tour are saying.  AND if you want even more information - go to Four Letter Words.  I love what the publisher says:

Thou shalt tolerate every opinion... except the Christian's. Today's postmodern "prime directive" leaves many followers of Jesus tongue-tied. In the global village, isn't it unreasonable, and even dangerous, to suggest that the Bible has a monopoly on truth? The church needs a new breed of Christ-follower. We need Christ-followers who are alert to today's touchy ideas, the truths that fire up more heat than light. We need Christ-followers who can make a clear case for the Bible's worldview; who are ready to help our friends think through their beliefs; who can recognize inconsistencies and challenge them; and who can do all of this with humility, confidence, humor, and love.
*I was sent an ecopy for review purposes.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Shadow of Your Smile

I do not want you to miss Susan May Warren's latest book, The Shadow of Your Smile!  It is a heartwarming book that challenges us as we read - remember back - why we fell in love with our spouse - just as the main character, Noelle, has to do when an accident erases part of her memory.  The story made me laugh and it kept me intrigued - it would be a wonderful read when you need a quick book that will make you smile!

This is interesting - read here what prompted this story for Warren.
Read what others say about this book HERE.
Sometimes love requires a little forgetting ... Come back to Deep Haven and find out what's been happening in your favorite quaint hamlet. If you're new to the Deep Haven series - this is the perfect book to start with - each book in the series is a stand alone story.

Susan is celebrating the release of The Shadow of Your Smile by giving away a prize pack worth over $200 from 1/9-1/28.

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A $200 Visa Gift Card (Use that to rekindle a little romance, treat yourself to a spa day, snap up those shoes you’ve been eyeing, or purchase a few great books!)
  • The entire set of Deep Haven Books 
The winner will be announced on 1/30/12 on Susan’s blog, Scribbles! Just click one of the icons below to enter and tell your friends about Susan's giveaway on FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning.

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter
*I was sent an eCopy of this book for review purposes.

Unhallowed Ground

Mel Starr is the author of Unhallowed Ground - the fourth book in the Hugh de Singleton, surgeon, series.  I had not read any of this series until this one.  I was pleasantly surprised - this is a mystery that will keep you guessing - at one point I really thought I had it figured out - I was ALL WRONG!  (And yes, I do love that!!)  These books are definitely stand-alones - but now that I've read one - I will be on the hunt to find more - Starr is an author that wraps you right up in the time period and culture with his wit and dry humor, there is never a dull moment to be sure!  Although it is not super fast-paced as some mysteries are, it is a read that still draws you in and keeps you focused.  It is set in the medieval time period so the history is rich and the story is strong!  Come along with Master Hugh, a 14th century English surgeon, as he unravels the murder set in Bampton - and be surprised at the ending!!

*I was sent a copy of the book, by the publisher, for review purposes.

More Chinese New Year

I just found another great resource on Chinese New Year books - don't miss another great blogger in action!
My Overthinking..."Overthinking Chinese New Year Children's Books"

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Bungalow

After my second Sarah Jio book, I am convinced she's onto something!  I have enjoyed both of her novels - they are short, easy to read, and yet both seemed to pull me right in and left me sad to see them end.  They may not be long reads, but her character development is strong - and you really feel for the characters.  The Bungalow, her second novel, is a touching storyline set on the Pacific Islands during World War Two.  Anne Calloway, an Army Nurse, is sent to Bora Bora on her first assignment as a nurse.  The story is gripping as she and her best friend, Kitty, find a whole new world on the island - one with war, violence, and new love.  I think what I love most about Jio's books is that they are not predictable - AND I am a sucker for books that do not end "happily".  I know, it sounds horrible to say that, but I enjoy a book that isn't always rosy.  I cried through two chapters as I finished this one up - and it takes a lot for me to cry- but I was so disappointed at how it all was coming to a close - I wanted happy and yet resonated more with the heartfelt words of "real life" - it isn't always happy and perfect.  It's a fast read - but a great story!

Happy Chinese New Year!

I hang my head in shame - I have been remiss this year.  I haven't posted one thing on Chinese New Year AND with two daughters born in China - that is just not right!  So I'm going to make it right - and direct you to a wonderful post that one of my favorite bloggers has put together - don't miss it!!

Jama's Alphabet Soup - "A Little Chinese Take-Out"

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mornings with Jesus

There are just some devotional books that really hit you - as a woman and mom, Mornings with Jesus 2012 really impacted me.  These are devotions written by women for women.  They get it - they live lives, they mother, they work, they just get it.  And as a busy mom, I just need short nuggets to chew on throughout the day.  That is what this devotional book consists of - nuggets of truth that are easy-to-digest and yet challenge you to be the best mom, wife, follower of Christ you can be.  I don't know about you, but I need that - and I take it so much better coming from other women that understand.  Don't miss this compilation of "daily encouragement for your soul" - you WILL be encouraged!

*I was sent a copy of this book by the publisher for review purposes.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Sound of Red Returning

I am thinking it is the month for historical fiction over here!  This is my second or third historical fiction title and I am just loving this!!  The Sound of Red Returning by Sue Duffy is another great novel full of history.  This one particularly drew me in with the music-theme - it is so well-written one can almost hear the sounds of piano as you read!  Liesl Bower is the main character in this story and she is a famous pianist that is running from the Russian and American CIA agents.  Liesl changes throughout the novel, and as the reader, you can appreciate those life challenges and struggles that grow you and make you who you are, as she encounters them.  The story is fast-paced and full of action.  All of the musical themes are wonderful and for those of you that enjoy a little love story - yep, there's that as well!  Duffy's first novel in this series is page-turner!

  *I was sent a copy by the publisher for review purposes.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Darkly Hidden Truth

I was not familiar with Donna Fletcher Crow as an author - but after just finishing A Darkly Hidden Truth, I am going to find book one in this series!  This is book 2 of the Monastery Murders Series and this is really a well-written series.  I love the way she ties church history in with a murder mystery - I mean REALLY, not too many people can boast that!!  It is a wonderfully tangled mystery - I love it when, still halfway through the book, I have no idea what is going to happen.  This is not a book that you read and can guess the ending - Crow takes you for twists and turns.  GREAT read!!
*I was sent a copy by the publisher for review purposes.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Chasing Mona Lisa

Tricia Goyer and  Mike Yorkey have teamed up and written a historical novel that exposes a side of history I knew nothing about.  Chasing Mona Lisa is a fascinating story set in Paris in 1944 - the soldiers of the Third Reich are coming into Paris and totally ransacking the county - which includes stealing artwork by the great masters like Leonardo da Vinci and even the famous Mona Lisa.  This is an action-packed story - with tons of history and a little romance thrown in to keep it "light".  It was a fun read and a new-to-me part of history!

If you would like to read what others in this tour are saying about the book - go HERE.

AND here's another fun opportunity!!

Win an iTouch SPY Pack in the Chasing Mona Lisa Giveaway from @triciagoyer @mikeyorkey! Chasing Mona Lisa is the continuing tale of Gabi Mueller and Eric Hofstadler (first introduced in The Swiss Courier). This time the due are on a relentless quest to save the most famous painting in the world  - the Mona Lisa. You can help Gabi and Eric with your very own spy pack when you enter The Chasing Mona Lisa Giveaway!

One passionate protector will receive:
  • iTouch (The must-have device for any spy. Camera, Maps & Music.)
  • Starbucks Gift Card (For all those late nights.)
  • Moleskin Notebook (For those important notes.)
  • Invisible Ink Pen (Don’t want anyone reading those important notes.)
  • Chasing Mona Lisa by Tricia Goyer & Mike Yorkey (Great handbook and intriguing tale for any spy-in-training!)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends at noon on January 31st. The winner will be announced at the Chasing Mona Lisa Facebook Party on 1/31. Tricia and Mike will be hosting an author chat (on Facebook and Live from Tricia's website) and giving away their books and a Book Club prize pack! (Ten copies of the book for your small group or book club AND a LIVE Author Chat for your group with Tricia and Mike.)

So grab your copy of Chasing Mona Lisa and join Tricia and Mike on the evening of the 31st for an author chat, spy training (do you know how to pick a lock?) and lots of giveaways. 

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter
Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 31st!

*I was sent a copy of this book for review purposes.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

No Two Alike

This is a sweet children's book - Keith Baker is always wonderful but THIS one has a special place in my library since it's all about WINTER!!!  In No Two Alike, Baker compares animals and nature items found in winter and then shares how they may look VERY much alike - but if you look closely, you can see how they are not!  I thought this was a great book - the illustrations are wonderful and capture the winter-feel.  And the ending is a pleaser as well - my girls loved it!
 *I was sent a copy for review purposes.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Baking, Anyone?

Chronicle Books sent me a copy of their book, Cake Simple, by Christie Matheson.  This is a great cookbook!  It is full of recipes for bundt-style cakes - and I do mean FULL of recipes!  It is broken up into Bundt Classics, Bundt Decadence, Bundt Cakes for Food Snobs, and Mini Bundts.  I never claimed to be an excellent cook but I do enjoy baking - here are the ones I want to try first:
Brown Sugar
Vanilla Bean
Salted Caramel
Donating this one to the library but I sure will be checking it out once or twice to try some of these!!
*I was sent a copy of this book for review purposes.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Reluctant Readers No More!!

Yeah for authors - Yeah for books - especially for those that GRAB our reluctant readers!!!   Loved this interview and had to share!

Monday, January 09, 2012

The Bird Sisters

I hope I don't say this too many times - but I really LOVED this book!!  I think I have mentioned before, once or twice, on this blog that I LOVE birds.  So how excited I was when I found yet another book that had a theme of birds!  But this book has SO much more going for it than just the bird theme. The Bird Sisters by Rebecca Rasmussen is one of the best books I've read in awhile!  Milly and Twiss are twin sisters that have stuck together from birth - and I do mean that.  They have been there for each other and even grow old together.  I love their relationship and it only helps to strengthen them for all they've been through.  The girls do not lead a simple, easy life.   They struggle through many issues with their family - their father AND their mother, and their cousin, Bett, who comes to stay with them for a summer - a summer that will truly leave them forever changed.

The characters are well-developed - the story is one that draws you in and keeps you there.  Although it is a series of flashbacks and current life - it is not hard to follow.  I really can not say enough how much this book captured me - I am anxiously waiting for a new novel from Rasmussen.  IF you read it - please come back and comment - I'll be curious to hear your thoughts!

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

ABC 123 Fun

Here is an app that our Jada just LOVES right now!  She is SO into her ABC's and numbers that this one is perfect for her.  ABC 123 Fun is simple and yet perfect for your young learners.  You can work on letters or numbers.  Each screen has a letter or number, it says the name for you and then provides a picture, sometimes a sound to go along with the picture, and gives you the option to draw them.  The drawing part is simple for even the youngest child as it guides you line by line on your writing - not letting you continue unless you get the lines correct.  I like this app - it's colorful, simple and yet one that our daughter is just loving.  My only complaint??  I wish it would count for you in the numbers section when you click on each item.  But otherwise - fun and educational!

 *I was sent a copy of the app for review purposes.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

There are books that get a lot of hype and then I just have to read them just to see if the hype is really worth it. So I read Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.  As I'm sitting here deciding what to say - I am still torn on this one.  First of all - it took me FOREVER to get into - it seemed so disjointed to begin with that I had a hard time staying with it - in fact, I contemplated quitting a few times.  Then, I got going and figured I at least should finish - so it was about at this point that I decided I might actually be intrigued by the storyline and then it was almost over.  I guess I would say it just never really grabbed me.  It is a story based around vintage photos the author came across - but even that was hard for me - sometimes it felt like the author had to make up characters and events just to fit his photos - and it felt a bit stilted to me.

There are intriguing parts for sure though - time travel, the idea of the loops that take you back in time - that was fascinating in the book.  Even the children and their peculiarities were interesting but certainly never believable - the story just never "caught hold" for me.  I know there are some that just love it - but it never really made me want to keep reading enough to shut all else out (and that's the sign of a good read in my book!!).  The characters and relationships aren't as strong as I would have liked either - although you come to like some of the characters, you never really get to "know" them.

There are many interesting reviews on Goodreads - certainly check them out as well.
And the book trailer does do a good job of giving you a feel for the book - it is peculiar - that word fits it well - strange, peculiar, odd.

If you did read it and LOVE it - I'd love to hear your thoughts though - I'm hoping I didn't miss something while I was reading!!

Oh, and one more tidbit - I would NOT recommend this for Young Adult, as it was intended - the language can be quite foul and the innuendos are not something I would want my teens reading....only wanted to warn those that might suggest it to their teens - just know that that content is frequent throughout the book.


Preschool Cake Shop

Here's an app for your younger crew!  Preschool Cake Shop is really a great app.  It covers colors, puzzles, big/small, matching, letters, shapes, counting and more.  It is simple to use, intuitive, and gives them time to make choices - I always like that.  It is an iPhone app but plays nicely on the iPad as well.  The characters are fun and it is colorful and appealing.  My youngest really likes this app and I can see it being quite fun for the younger ages!

Watch the YouTube video HERE.

*I was given a copy of this app to review for this blog post.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

The 360 Degree Leader

Things about being a leader have always interested me - but my new job really forces me to understand leadership on a whole new level. John Maxwell is the go-to on leadership - and his latest book, The 360 Degree Leader was another thought-provoking, challenging read. This book is not just for those in leadership positions - it is for anyone in a company - at any level and show you how your role can be leadership - no matter where you are. It encourages you in how to support your leader and by doing so, increase your own leadership level. I was deeply challenged with this book - there is room for leadership on many levels and that is what makes our companies strong - I am planning to share this one around - everyone will see a place for themselves and those are the kinds of work places we want to build!

*I was given a copy of this book for review purposes.

Princess Stories

I had a hard time reviewing this book - it made it's way into our home and then was never to be seen BY ME again.  Yep, it was hiding in Chloe's bed!!  She quickly confiscated it and it has been missing ever since.  But there is a reason for that - it's an adorable book for little girls!!  Princess Stories by Carolyn Larsen is a book full of stories of Princesses from the Bible.  God's Princesses - Eve, Sarah, Hagar, Moses' Mom, Rahab, Naomi, Abigail, The Shunammite Woman and many more!!  The Princesses are listed with their scripture reference, a re-telling of their story, and them some points to ponder as you finish up the stories.  I LOVED this and we NEED more of this - these aren't princesses that are all about their looks and their riches - these are princesses that are focused on what God has for them and how He makes them into princesses.  What great examples for my daughters - fabulous!!
* I was sent a copy of this book for review purposes.

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