Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cleaning Up the Clutter by Emilie Barnes



Harvest House Publishers (March 1, 2004) 176 pages

Description:
Most women feel overwhelmed as they juggle raising a family, pursuing a career, and keeping a home. Emilie Barnes comes to the rescue in Cleaning Up the Clutter: Easy Ways to Keep Your Family Happy, Healthy, and Organized.

Emilie shows readers how to...

Get the house clean and keep it that way
Involve family members in helping with chores
Plan healthful meals that save time and cut grocery bills
Helpful organizational tools and charts add to the usefulness of Cleaning Up the Clutter. Readers will be able to sort through the chaos to discover more hours in each day as they create a positive home environment.

Formerly titled Simply Organized and Simply Dinner.

My Review:
This isn't a detailed book on organization. Emilie has some wonderful tips and tricks scattered throughout, and I have came away with lots a new ideas to help in my organization quest. BUT, it's very short and sweet. For the most part, you'll be left on your own to decide HOW to organize. For certain projects, though, she gives a lot more detail. Pages 1-94 is apparantly the book that was formerly Simply Organized and the rest of the book is recipes, so it was apparantly Simply Dinner. I was a bit confused as to why half the book was recipes when it was a book on organizing, but I understood a bit more when I saw the description.
It also seems like a lot of the advice she gives is more for parents of children that are a bit older. At one point, she mentions that a 3 year old should be able to unload the dishwasher with some help, and a 5 year old can set the table(with the good china... don't leave it packed away). I guess I need to work on my parenting skills. While my son is 2 and 1/2, I don't see him maturing enough in 6 months to help unload the dishwasher. I'm jealous of you moms who have did such a wonderful job of teaching your young ones to do some jobs!!! :)And even though I don't have any good china and if I did I would totally understand using it with my family, and not just for company, I'm not sure I would let my 5 year old loose with it. And just to point out for those of you who may be new here, my son isn't even close to the level he should be for his age, so I probably don't understand the full capabilities of a 3 year old. (???)And also, I totally believe in getting children to help out even very early, just with realistic chores. The rest of her chore advice, for both adults and children, seems to target parents of older children, though.
While some of the advice was great, some was just not realistic for me. It is still a wonderful book that can be bought very cheaply, so it's definitely worth what you could get it for.
I like Emilie Barnes' books. I have a couple more waiting on my shelf to be read, so even though I did enjoy reading through this book, I hope the other one I have on organization will help me even more in my quest.

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Cowboy's Touch by Denise Hunter




Thomas Nelson (March 29, 2011) 320 pages

Description:
Wade's ranch home needs a woman's touch. Abigail's life needs a cowboy's touch.

Four years ago, rodeo celebrity Wade Ryan gave up his identity to protect his daughter. Now, settled on a ranch in Big Sky Country, he lives in obscurity, his heart guarded by a high, thick fence.

Abigail Jones isn’t sure how she went from big-city columnist to small-town nanny, but her new charge is growing on her, to say nothing of her ruggedly handsome boss. Love blossoms between Abigail and Wade--despite her better judgment. Will the secrets she brought with her to Moose Creek, Montana separate her from the cowboy who finally captured her heart?

My Review:
I've heard great things about Denise Hunter's books, so when I saw two of them come up on booksneeze, I knew I couldn't pass up on the opportunity. I think it was cruel of them to make us pick between two, though!! ;)
If the rest of her books are as good as this one, I will have a new author to add to my favorites list. Cowboy books aren't usually my favorites, only because there's usually roping and branding and all. Most of you probably know, I love animals, so it's very hard for me to read all that. It wasn't too bad in this story, and I was so caught up in the characters that I was able to overlook it. I'm also usually not a huge fan of kids in my Christian romance books. I love children and children's books and all, but I usually like my romance books just single people. That probably makes me look bad now. :P BUT, for me to still love this book with two things going against it, you know it was good!! And you can't help but fall in love with Maddy!
Denise did a wonderful job with the characters. I can't think of a single one that I didn't like. I just fell in love with all of them.
I hate that I'll have to wait an entire year to read the next one in this series, but I'm glad that Denise has so many other books that I can catch up on.

*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Resurrection by Mike Duran




Realms (February 1, 2011) 320 pages

Description:
When Ruby Case, an unassuming crippled woman, inexplicably raises a boy from the dead, she creates uproar in the quiet coastal town of Stonetree. Some brand her a witch, others a miracle worker. Yet Reverend Ian Clark couldn't care less. Dogged by demons and immersed in self-pity, Clark is being unwittingly drawn into a secret religious order--one that threatens his very life. But he's about to get a wake-up call.

Together, Ruby and Reverend Clark are thrust into a search for answers... and a collision with unspeakable darkness. For behind the quaint tourist shops and artist colonies lies a history of deceit. And a presence more malignant than anything they can imagine. Yet a battle is brewing, the resurrection is the first volley, and the unlikely duo are the only ones who can save them. But can they overcome their own brokenness in time to stop the evil, or will they be its next victim?

My Review:
It wasn't until I was 1/3 of the way through this book that I really got into it. Then I ended up staying up until 12:30 in the morning to finish it. For this exhausted pregnant momma, that's a great compliment!! :) I'm not going to blame the slow going on the book, though, because I started trying to read this book at the doctor's office, and I've learned not to do that. I can't properly focus on the story and it's not fair to the book.
During the first third I was almost disappointed that I wasn't finding it creepy. Which is sad, because I debated long and hard whether or not to review this one because of the creepy factor. Those kind of books, though I rarely read them, are usually the most memorable for me. I got over that, though, because it definitely got way more creepy for me, but not TOO creepy. :) There's so much in this book that COULD happen. I won't give anything away, but make sure you read the whole book before you make a judgement on that statement.
I'm not sure where this book is set. I may have read over it and missed it. I know it's set in Stonetree, but other than that, I'm not sure. Does anybody know? I think most of the things in this story are more realistic in other, poorer countries, but not as much in the U.S.
Since I'm very much recommending this book for those of you who don't mind the creepy factor, I think it's important that I mention I DON'T believe in modern day miracles. I very much believe they happened in Biblical times, but I don't think they exist today. I know we throw that word around...."the miracle of childbirth"....."it's a miracle you survived that wreck." My first son is even called a miracle baby many times. Well, those aren't miracles, to me. Yes, I definitely think God had a hand in them, though!! I don't believe someone can be raised from the dead, or can be touched and healed. And that doesn't take away from my incredible faith in God! I'm not wanting a debate in stating that! It's just my opinion. :) I just don't want someone to read this book and think I'm promoting something I'm not.
To be honest, I'm not sure exactly what the spiritual message of the book is supposed to be concerning the miracle aspect. Is it saying I should believe it was God if someone was raised from the dead, or is it suppose to be symbolic for our faith in God? I'm not sure, but I think you can take what you want out of the story. I may have gotten something out of it different from what the author intended, but I still got a great lesson in faith from the pages.
From my understanding, this is a debut novel from Mike Duran. I'm very impressed!!!! I can only imagine how much better his future works will be if this was a first.

**In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. This is my honest opinion.

About the author:
Mike Duran was a finalist in Faith in Fiction's inaugural short story contest and was chosen as one of ten authors to be published in Infuze Magazine’s 2005 print anthology. He is author of the short story “En Route to Inferno,” which appeared in Coach’s Midnight Diner: Back from the Dead edition, and received the Editor’s Choice award for his creative nonfiction essay titled “The Ark,” published in the Summer 2.3 Issue of Relief Journal. In between blogs, he also writes a monthly column for Novel Journey and has served as editor on the Midnight Diner’s editorial team. Duran is an ordained minister and lives with his wife of 29 years and four grown children in Southern California.

Mike's Website

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I'm looking forward to seeing what others have to say!

*******As a side note, I won't be around for next month's tour. Lord willing, I'll be busy with a newborn at that point. (Less than a month to go!!!!!!) :)

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Courting Trouble by Deeanne Gist




Bethany House (June 1, 2007) 336 pages

Description:
Essie Spreckelmeyer loves her hats, her snakes and her bicycle--Peg, for short. But the one thing she wants to love, but can't, is a husband. The year of her thirtieth birthday, Essie creates a list of potential husbands to catch...but the catching, and the unintended consequences thereof, might cause her more trouble than it's worth.


My Review:

Just a warning.....This review will contain a mid-point SPOILER!!!!

I'm not giving away the ending, but I just don't feel like I can do a proper review without talking about something that happens. If you are conservative at all, though, you might want to know about this "incident" before reading the book.

I really had to explore my thoughts on this book before reviewing. My first impression was not good! The more I read, though, and the more I thought about it, the more I liked PARTS of it. It's still more edgy than my comfort levels allow, but I can see the message the author was going for. And just so you know, I'm a very conservative person, but I've learned that with my reading, I'm not as conservative as some. I'm usually okay with "edgy" Christian books as long as there's no details and I do have a line that I don't want crossed! :)
The main character does have premarital sex in this story. While I STRONGLY believe in waiting for marriage, I'm not against this being in the book. Everyone sins and everyone makes mistakes. I think the author turned this into a beautiful story of forgiveness(on several levels) and love. I feel like I would be very closed minded if I pretended to think that many Christians don't make this same mistake. The author shows some of the consequences of not waiting, but I think forgiveness and support from loved ones and accepting yourself for EXACTLY who you are is the main message I came away with. I just felt sorry for Essie throughout most of the story! Self confidence is so important!! IF I have a daughter, I think this will probably be one of the biggest subjects I study up on. I'm glad, though, that Essie's story will continue in Deep in the Heart of Trouble. The ending just truly broke my heart!

What I'm not comfortable with is the details leading up to the "incident." I didn't like how edgy and flirtatous Essie became.
There was also descriptions of what two men were thinking about what was underneath Essie's dress. One was thinking about, in his opinion, the many faults that lay underneath and the other one just wanted to get under the dress. I wish that was left out. I don't think it's good for the self-esteem, especially in young, single girls to read things like that!
There was also a word I didn't like. The "b" word for a child without a father. I know it's in the Bible, but in today's society it's used as profanity and I cringe when I see it. I looked over some reviews and noone else had mentioned it, so I asked my husband, and he's with me. He considers it profanity. My momma does not think it is, although she doesn't use or like the word. So, I'll throw it out there just so you know it's in the book. I guess that's something we're all different on.

I'll end this review saying overall I love Deeanne's writing style!! I greatly enjoy the humor she brings to the pages and I'm looking forward to reading more from her. But, this just wasn't my favorite book and I was a bit uncomfortable with it. It did remind me of a less serious version of Redeeming Love, though(IN SOME WAYS)!! That was a book I was also uncomfortable reading, but I'll leave that for another day.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Plain Wisdom by Cindy Woodsmall and Miriam Flaud




WaterBrook Press (March 15, 2011) 240 pages

Description:
Two friends from different worlds—one Old Order Amish, one Englischer—share the truths that bring them together.

Best-selling novelist Cindy Woodsmall might seem to have little in common with Miriam Flaud, a woman immersed in the culture of Old Order Amish. But with nine children and almost 60 years of marriage between them, Cindy and Miriam both have found the secrets to facing life with strength and grace. Whether enduring financial setbacks, celebrating new babies and times of prosperity, grieving the crushing losses in the deaths of family and friends, or facing disappointments with their respective communities—through it all they find guidance for each day by looking to God.

With poignant recollections, unexpected insights, and humorous tales, the two women welcome you into their unique friendship. You’ll also gain a rare glimpse into the traditions and ways of the Amish as Miriam recalls special occasions and shares family recipes throughout the book.

Plain Wisdom is a heartwarming celebration of God, womanhood, and the search for beauty that unites us all. So grab your cup and your quilt and settle in for a soul-comforting read with Plain Wisdom.

My Review:
I was really looking forward to reading this book!! I've only in the past year started reading Amish fiction, but I'm very much intrigued by their lifestyles. I don't share very many of their beliefs, but I like the simplicity of their lifestyles. I think we all desire a bit more of that.(with electricity, of course)!

Plain Wisdom was a bit different than I expected it to be. I thought it would read more like a conversation between the two women, but each one wrote up a short story on a certain subject and that was a chapter. Each chapter was usually 2-3 pages. I think I actually like this way better than what anticipated, though.
It was very interesting to learn more about the Amish way of life, and more about Cindy. There are bits of wisdom scattered all through this book. I say "bits" simply because they kept each lesson short and sweet. More than anything, you can take what you want from the stories. There's also some Amish recipes after some of the chapters. I wish there were more of these, but I know this isn't a cookbook, so that's not a complaint. I've learned from the recipes in Plain Wisdom that I have to get me some Amish cookbooks. I'm all about simple recipes!! :)

Overall, I greatly enjoyed reading Plain Wisdom, and thought there was lots of humor, wisdom, and thought provoking stories.

***I received this ARC copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico by Lena Nelson Dooley



Summerside Press (May 1, 2010) 320 pages

Description:
All that glitters is not gold. It’s 1890, and Golden, New Mexico, is a booming mining town where men far outnumber women. So when an old wealthy miner named Philip Smith finds himself in need of a nursemaid, he places an ad for a mail-order bride—despite the protests of his friend Jeremiah. Hoping to escape a perilous situation back East, young Madeleine Mercer answers the ad and arrives in town under a cloud of suspicion. But just as she begins to win over Philip—and Jeremiah himself—the secrets she left behind threaten to follow her to Golden...and tarnish her character beyond redemption.


My Review:
I have officially read my first "Love Finds You" book!!! :) I'm know that they are all very much different and all by different authors, but I'm really looking forward to reading more of them. This was another book off my "won" shelf and after reading it, I really hate it took me so long to get to it. I enjoyed meeting the characters in Golden, New Mexico.
I have a feeling most who read this book will like Phillip's character the most. He was definitely my favorite! Actually, he's probably up there as one of my favorite characters in general. And I was very surprised at what happens with one of the characters. I don't see that with most books I read. Mrs. Lena has created so many wonderful characters in this story!
I didn't agree with most of the religious aspects of this story, but, I guess the main one I want to point out is the way one of the characters believed that God was working in his life. I don't believe that God works that way. For example: If I was hunting a nanny for my little boy. I wouldn't take a stack of resumes and pray over them and expect God to point me to the exact one He knew I should pick, without me even looking to see what the resumes said. Absolutely not!!!! BUT, this is a FICTION book, and I thought it was a cute addition to the story.
Aside from the religious aspects that I disagree with, I definitely recommend this book. I can't wait to read more from Mrs. Lena!

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Healer's Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson and Winners!!!!



Zondervan (September 14, 2010) 272 pages

Description: (from Christianbook)
An imaginative and romantic retelling of the classic fairy tale Sleeping Beauty! When Rose, a young woodcutter's daughter, falls in love with the village ruler, their relationship is complicated by a curse. Will their shared faith enable them to follow God's will for their lives---even if his plans don't include a happy ending?

My Review:
Since I've cut back on reviews, it's been wonderful to visit my shelf of "won" books. The Healer's Apprentice was one I very badly wanted to read, and I wasn't disappointed at all.
As I was totally hooked on the story, I was SOOOO ready to sit out on my porch and read. Imagine how broken hearted I was when I couldn't find my book. I finally had to settle on another one. My husband had taken it from my son and put it on our bookshelf. Of all places!! ;) Needless to say, I was very excited to finally get to finsish it. I did know mostly what would happen, but I still couldn't wait to read all the finishing touches.
I just loved getting lost in this fairy tale. And I haven't read a whole lot of medieval stories, but I think this is the first young adult one. Well, for that matter I can only think of one other young adult historical at the moment that I've read, but it was refreshing either way!!
I liked most of the characters. I think I liked who I was supposed to and vice versa. :) They really were great examples.
I absolutely can't wait to read more from Melanie!!

And just for fun, I decided to show who I pictured while reading this book. I rarely ever pick actors to picture while reading a book, but sometimes one just automatically comes to mind. After two came to mind I picked the others. But here they are:


I think the girl on the cover and in the trailer is perfect for Rose, but I think Anna Popplewell (from Chronicles of Narnia) would be a close 2nd.


For some reason, I automatically pictured Adrain Grenier as Lord Hamlin. It wasn't until after I started reading the book and pictured him that I saw The Devil Wears Prada on T.V. But anyway, I think he'd be perfect as Lord Hamlin.


Alex Pettyfer as Lord Rupert


And the Bowler Hat Guy from Meet the Robinsons is another one that automatically came to mind as I read the description of Peter Brunkhorst. :) Perfect!!

Parental Concerns: (Keep in mind I do this section for ALL my young adult books now. It doens't mean I think there are parental concerns).

Christian Beliefs
Yes. God plays a big role in this story. I think everyone has Catholic beliefs throughout.

Authority Figures
Rose's parents are good people overall, I think. They really don't play a huge role. The healer, who is like a mom to Rose, is a great example.

Language/ Violence
Definitely no language issues. I don't recall any violence.

Other Beliefs
Evil spirits and demons.

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality
Kissing and holding hands a bit.
I'm updating this part..... :) The young adults in this book are of a marrying age, so some of the content may be a bit mature for young adults. It's not bad or detailed, but the romance may be too heavy for some.

Drinking/Drugs/Smoking/Alcohol
None.

Gambling/Lying
None. There was some covering of the truth a bit, but nothing drastic that I recall.


******WINNERS*********

I put all the entrant's names in a bowl for each of the giveways, and my husband drew the winner of Latte Daze and Double Shot.



Grace



And my little boy drew the winner of the Tales and Paws certificate for a free movie.




Mosi Esme





Congratulations y'all!!! I've already sent out e-mails. :)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Hollywood Nobody by Lisa Samson



NavPress (August 24, 2007) 224 pages

Description:
Scotty Dawn has all the freedom a fifteen-year-old girl could want. As she and her mom, Charley, travel to movie sets for Charley's work, Scotty's allowed to go anywhere and be anything. But there are costs to such a life. Scotty doesn't know who she is, where she comes from, or who to trust. And who is the mysterious man they've been running from? Does he hold the clue to Charley's big secret?
Scotty writes in her Hollywood Nobody blog, and the answers she finds are darker than she had expected. Will she discover who she can trust and finally make sense of her world?

My Review:
Most of you who read my blog know that I love reading young adult books. Even though I'm almost 30, I'm still a kid at heart. :) That said, reading this particular book just made me feel old. I know all the young people reading this are thinking, "Well, you are!" ;)
It wasn't my favorite YA book I've read, but it was cute. I like that Samson created such a unique character out of Scotty. It was fun reading about her obsession with cheese and having to be sneaky to eat it around her vegan mother. In many ways this seemed like a book most appropriate for the tween age group, even though the main character is almost 16. BUT, in other ways it seemed a little too old for that age group. There's mention of some of the characters doing drugs and sleeping around. The main character does not approve of this behavior, though.
There's also a bit of a mystery that develops more towards the end. I anticipate there to be lots more to come about this mystery in the following books in this series. Overall, it was cute, but I think whether or not you like it will depend on how mature you like your books.(And I don't mean adult content mature)!

Parental Concerns:

Christian Beliefs
I expect more on this section in the rest of the series, but Scotty doesn't really have any Christian beliefs in this book. There is some scenes involving tent meetings and Penecostal beliefs.

Authority Figures
I really would have liked to have seen a stronger mother figure out of Charley. She wasn't the best, but I guess she's trying.

Language/ Violence
There's none that I have a problem with(in books for this age anyway), but I do remember the word, "Shoot" being in there. I wanted to include it for the pickier ones. No offense!! Remember, we're ALL picky about something!! ;)(Just to clarify, if that word was in my 2 year old's book, I'd be picky, too)!!

Other Beliefs
None

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality
There's mention of characters kissing and sleeping around, but there's nothing more than a peck on the forehead or cheek for the main character.

Drinking/Drugs/Smoking/Alcohol
There's mention of some of the characters doing drugs.

Gambling/Lying
Scotty does lie to her mom a few times and then she's also constantly sneaking cheese when she isn't suppose to.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Bug Collection DVD Box Set by Max Lucado



2011, Thomas Nelson, Ages 4-8

Description:
Some grumpy bees, silly ladybugs and a non-praying mantis . . . all from the best-loved Max Lucado's Hermie & Friends® series!

Buzby and the Grumblebees—it’s about bee-having.

Haily & Bailey's Silly Fight—it’s about getting along.

Milo, the Mantis Who Wouldn't Pray—it's about prayer.

Enjoy the voice talents of Tim Conway, Melissa Disney, Richard Kind, and Sam Mercurio at their very best in this one-of-a-kind box set.

My Review:
I was surprised at how much I liked these DVDs!! I liked them enough that I hope to add more of them to our movie library. There were good lessons in each of the DVDs. The characters were adorable, and for the most part, the quality was better than expected. The first one we watched, I had no complaints at all, as far as quality. The second one was ok. I noticed at the beginning(kinda where the previews are) that the mouths of the characters and the actual words weren't lined up properly. That's actually my biggest pet peeve watching any kind of movie. I want it to look like they are actually speaking when I hear the words. When the movie started, though, it was better. The third one was that way throughout, and the overall quality was the worst. I'm not really sure why they were all different, but it wasn't bad enough that I wouldn't recommend these. I still loved them!!
Another negative is they didn't keep my little boy's attention. I think they will be more appropriate for when he gets a little older. (Just in case you're new to my reviews, my little boy is 2 1/2). He is pretty picky at this point what does keep his attention, though. And I think these were made for a slightly older audience anyway. We did watch them at two different settings on different days.
Overall, though, I definitely recommend these movies!!

*I was provided a review copy of this box set from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.