Thursday, April 28, 2011

Book Review: My Foolish Heart

My Foolish Heart (Deep Haven)
My Foolish Heart
By Susan Warren
Tyndale House, 2011
English, 384 pgs

Unknown to her tiny town of Deep Haven, Isadora Presley spends her nights as Miss Foolish Heart, the star host of a syndicated talk radio show. Millions tune in to hear her advice on dating and falling in love, unaware that she’s never really done either. Issy’s ratings soar when it seems she’s falling in love on-air with a caller. A caller she doesn’t realize lives right next door.
Caleb Knight served a tour of duty in Iraq and paid a steep price. The last thing he wants is pity, so he hides his disability and moves to Deep Haven to land his dream job as the high school football coach. When his beautiful neighbor catches his eye, in a moment of desperation he seeks advice from My Foolish Heart, the show that airs before his favorite sports broadcast.
Before he knows it, Caleb finds himself drawn to the host—and more confused than ever. Is his perfect love the woman on the radio . . . or the one next door?

I enjoyed this more than just about any other Christian fiction book I've read. There was no denying that the characters were flawed and that they were working through their issues as well as their faith. It also didn't feel like a they-lived-happily-ever-after-all-of-a-sudden type ending. I like that the story was neatly tied up at the end, but not every question was answered. It was just a really good book and I enjoyed reading it.

I received a copy of the book from Tyndale House in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation has been received and all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Book Review: The Alarmists

Alarmists, The
The Alarmists
By Dan Hoesel
Bethany House, 2011
English, 320 pgs

The 2012 phenomenon that's going viral around the globe has led sociology professor Jameson Richards to study the impact on society when, like the Y2K scare, 12/21/12 comes and goes with hardly a wrinkle. This is the date that, according to the Mayan calendar, the doomsayers predict the world will end. Richards teams up with General Michaels, a scientist stationed at the Pentagon whose job it is to monitor the world's fanatics, keeping an eye out for potential terrorists. Together they uncover something sinister going on beneath the surface, linked to billionaire and media mogul Jeremy Maxwell, who also happens to be a huge manufacturer of weapons systems. The 2012 date has captured Maxwell's attention too, and he's looking to cash in on the public's fear and paranoia. And what he instigates--along with his corrupt partners--nearly starts another war in the Middle East, while also bringing the world to its knees economically. It's up to the professor/general team to blow the whistle on Maxwell, hopefully in time to avert a major catastrophe.

It's not bad. I found it a little hard to stay interested in the story and I had to force myself to finish the book. It's not a bad read though. It was predictable and jumped around a lot. There were a few times when new characters were introduced and I didn't know who they were.

I'm wondering why the Amazon description has a different name for the antagonist. There's no one named Maxwell in my copy of the book.

Anyway, it's not a bad weekend or beach read. I wonder if men would find it more interesting? There is a bit of action and a lot of thinking about what's going on in the story. It's just outside of my preferred genre, but I'm willing to bet my husband will like it.

I received a copy of the book in exchange for a review. No additional compensation has been received and I was only required to write an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Calling all North Texas "Extreme Couponers"

The firefighters battling in Palo Pinto County, at Possum Kingdom Lake, are in need of some items.

The firefighters are in need of personal hygiene items such as:
eye drops
baby wipes
lip balm

Tools/supplies such as:
leather gloves

Also, non-perishable snacks, such as:
peanut butter crackers
granola bars
protein bars
any pre-packaged food that can be eaten on-the-go
Gatorade/Powerade/water bottles

Non-Drowsy Benadryl
Beef Jerky

I know we all have stock-piles with these items in them. They need these things far worse than we need them.  There are drop off points in just about every area. Call your local fire department or the Red Cross to see where you can take these items.

Go HERE for more information about how you can help.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Product Review: Hormel Compleats for Kids

I was recently given the opportunity, through SheSpeaks, to try Hormel Compleats Kids microwave meals. I received one of each variety.

Ry loves canned ravioli (ugh) so we decided to try the beef ravioli version first. The most positive thing I can say about the meal was that there was a really fun exercise game on the inside of the wrapper. Seriously. He wouldn't eat more than one bite. Even with tons of parmesan sprinkled on it. My husband tasted it and didn't like it either.

I was extremely disappointed in the sodium content of the meal. There is more in one "kids" meal than we adults eat in one day. 

I tried getting him to eat the spaghetti and meatballs (again, a salt fest) and he didn't like how mushy the pasta was or how the sauce tasted. I couldn't bring myself to taste it. I just made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for him instead of trying to force him to eat.

The pasta and chicken variety...well...if you have a cat in the house, it may think that is his meal. It smelled bad and Ry wouldn't touch it. I tried getting the macaroni and beef out of the cabinet and he ran away as soon as he saw the package. 

I do not enjoy writing a negative review. At all. But these were really gross and I will not purchase them for my child. I do appreciate the opportunity to try the product.

In the spirit of full disclosure, Hormel Foods provided samples of Hormel® Compleats® Kids Microwave Meals for me and my family to try. No payment was given and as always, all opinions given here are fully my own.

Book Review: The Girl in the Gatehouse

Girl in the Gatehouse, The
The Girl in the Gatehouse
By Julie Klassen
Bethany House, 2011
English, 400 pgs

Miss Mariah Aubrey, banished after a scandal, hides herself away in a long-abandoned gatehouse on the far edge of a distant relative's estate. There, she supports herself and her loyal servant the only way she knows how--by writing novels in secret.

Captain Matthew Bryant, returning to England successful and wealthy after the Napoleonic wars, leases an impressive estate from a cash-poor nobleman, determined to show the society beauty who once rejected him what a colossal mistake she made. When he discovers an old gatehouse on the property, he is immediately intrigued by its striking young inhabitant and sets out to uncover her identity, and her past. But the more he learns about her, the more he realizes he must distance himself. Falling in love with an outcast would ruin his well-laid plans.

The old gatehouse holds secrets of its own. Can Mariah and Captain Bryant uncover them before the cunning heir to the estate buries them forever?

I wanted to like this book. I'm a huge fan of Jane Austen and all things British fiction, but this was just too much like a mash up of books that have already been written. In the end, the author even acknowledges that the reader should notice themes from Austen and Hornblower. Well yeah, she kinda ripped off some things: Navy man loves girl, girl's parents don't approve of girl, Navy man goes to prove himself to her family. At least the author changed things up enough to make it not completely Persuasion, but it's really close.

Mariah struggles to overcome her past mistakes and just keeps on making them. She didn't learn from them at all. She lies to Matthew, she craves his touch...she learned nothing from her mistake which caused her to outcast from her family. I do like the themes of family reconciliation and of trying to make something of yourself to support yourself.

For what was supposed to be "Christian fiction", there wasn't a lot of talk of God and there was a lot of sexual content (albeit not graphic, but it doesn't leave much to the imagination). Personally, I did kind-of enjoy the book even though I'd figured out the plot and twists way to early. It's not one I'd have paid for and it's not one that I'll heartily recommend. It's just okay.

I received a copy of the book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review. No additional compensation has been received.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Book Review: Max on Life

Max On Life: Answers and Insights to Your Most Important Questions
Max on Life: Answers and Insights to Your Most Important Questions
By Max Lucado
Thomas Nelson, 2011
English, 256 pgs


We have questions. Child-like inquiries. And deep, heavy ones.

In more than twenty-five years of writing and ministry, Max Lucado has been the receiving line for thousands of such questions. The questions come in letters, e-mails, even on Dunkin Donuts napkins. In Max on Life he offers thoughtful answers to more than 150 of the most pressing questions on topics ranging from hope to hurt, from home to the hereafter.

Max writes about the role of prayer, the purpose of pain, and the reason for our ultimate hope. He responds to the day-to-day questions-parenting quandaries, financial challenges, difficult relationships-as well as to the profound: Is God really listening?

A special addendum includes Max's advice on writing and publishing.

Including topical and scriptural indexes and filled with classic Lucado encouragement and insight, Max on Life will quickly become a favorite resource for pastors and ministry leaders as well as new and mature believers.

This is really a wide selection of questions he has received over his many years of ministry and publishing. I found a lot of questions that didn't pertain to me, but even more that were relevant to my life. All the answers are based in Scripture and contain so much Truth.

Max has become one of my favorite authors and I love that he took the time to make this book. I'm sure that there are tons of people out there who want to ask some of the same (or similar) questions and just don't know 1. who to ask or 2. if there really is an answer.

This book would be awesome for ministers and counselors to have in their library. Sometimes you just don't have the answer and this will help you find them.

This isn't a book you're going to just sit down and read. This is one you'll keep on your shelf and look into it when you have a question. When you don't know if your doubt means you're separated from God. When you don't know how to forgive someone who has hurt you or a loved one.

I received an advance copy of the book in exchange for a review. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Book Review: The Whole Bible Story

Whole Bible Story, The: Everything That Happens in the Bible in Plain English
The Whole Bible Story: Everything That Happens in the Bible in Plain English
By Dr William H. Marty
Bethany House, 2011
English, 300 pgs

Sometimes readers just want to know what happens next. Dr. William Marty presents the entire narrative of the Bible in chronological order from creation to the New Testament Church. The action moves smoothly from story to story without slowing down for law, poetry, prophecy, or instruction. The Whole Bible Story is perfect for new Christians looking to understand the overall flow of the Bible or seasoned believers wanting a refresher course. It can be read straight through or used as a reference tool for better understanding of specific biblical events.

I love this. This is so easy to read and understand. It can be overwhelming to try to read the Bible and this will help more people who have trouble with it. It's also simple enough to read to children. I'm teaching my son from it and he gets the story a lot better with this. The chapter summaries are good review sections and each chapter has a main character and setting information to help you understand what's going on and "where" you are at that point.

I received a copy of the book for review purposes. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Book Review: Heaven Revealed

Heaven Revealed
Heaven Revealed: What is it like? What will we do? and 11 Other Things You've Wondered About
By Paul Enns
Moody Publishers, 2011
English, 208 pgs.

There are so many questions in life... but few are as universal as: "What is the afterlife like?" For those who have put their hope and trust in Jesus Christ here on earth--Heaven awaits. Addressing questions as basic as What will we do there? and What is it like?, theologian Dr. Paul Enns dives deep into the Scriptures while reflecting on the very personal nature of what is to come. Heaven Revealed is concurrently a helpful, easy-to-read guidebook for Christians as well as an encouragement for those of us who are left here on earth after our loved ones who are Christians pass away. Follow along as Dr. Enns succinctly leads you through what the Bible has to say about Heaven.

In grief, we all need hope--hope for our loved ones who are now gone, and hope for ourselves as eternity looms closer. Heaven should be something to look forward to, not something to be confused about.

This is a scripture filled book with the questions most people ask about Heaven. I particularly enjoyed the chapters on "What will we do" and ""What will life be like". I agree with the author that too often people picture Heaven as just sitting around playing harps. I personally believe there will be more to it than that. I believe that we will have full, perfect lives. There will not be pain, suffering, sorrow or loss. There will be joy, banquets and perfection. There is just so much in this book and it's all pulled and interpreted from Scripture. I have a feeling this is going into my husband's sermon prep library!

I received 2 copies of the book, one to review and one to give away, in exchange for an honest review. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Book Review: Revenge of the Radioactive Lady

The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady
Revenge of the Radioactive Lady
By Elizabeth Stuckey-French
Doubleday, 2011
English, 352 pgs


This lively, intricately plotted, laugh-out-loud funny, and surprisingly touching family drama combines the wit of Carl Hiaasen with the southern charm of Jill McCorkle.

Seventy-seven-year-old Marylou Ahearn is going to kill Dr. Wilson Spriggs come hell or high water. In 1953, he gave her a radioactive cocktail without her consent as part of a secret government study that had horrible consequences.

Marylou has been plotting her revenge for fifty years. When she accidentally discovers his whereabouts in Florida, her plans finally snap into action. She high tails it to hot and humid Tallahassee, moves in down the block from where a now senile Spriggs lives with his daughter’s family, and begins the tricky work of insinuating herself into their lives. But she has no idea what a nest of yellow jackets she is stum­bling into.

Before the novel is through, someone will be kidnapped, an unlikely couple will get engaged, someone will nearly die from eating a pineapple upside-down cake laced with anti-freeze, and that’s not all . . .

Told from the varied perspectives of an incredible cast of endearing oddball characters and written with the flair of a native Floridian, this dark comedy does not disappoint.

I really enjoyed this book. Sure, I don't promote revenge or murder, but geez, Marylou was funny! Once she finds Dr. Spriggs and realizes he really has no idea about who he used to be or what he used to do, she decides to destroy his family in his place. And oh boy, does she destroy them!

I like that the chapters shift perspective between the characters. This helped to understand what was going on way better than it would have if it all came from Marylou. You learn a lot more about motives and feelings.

There were parts of it that I really cringed and wish could have been done differently. I also don't understand why Asperger's is the "it" diagnosis all of a sudden. Seems like I'm seeing a lot of characters in books lately with it.

All in all, I enjoyed the book and have already passed it along to someone else to read.

I received a copy of the book in exchange for a review. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review.

Book Review: The Final Summit

The Final Summit: A Quest to Find the One Principle That Will Save Humanity
The Final Summit: A Quest to Find the One Principle That Will Save Humanity
By Andy Andrews
Thomas Nelson, 2011
English, 224 pgs


David Ponder is back.  This time the fate of mankind is in his hands.
This is mankind's last chance. Centuries of greed, pride, and hate have sent humanity hurtling toward disaster, and far from its original purpose. There is only one solution that can reset the compass and right the ship, and it consists of only two words.

With time running out, it is up to David Ponder and a cast of history's best and brightest minds to uncover this solution before it is too late. The catch? They are allowed only five tries to discover the answer.

Readers first encountered David Ponder in The Traveler's Gift.   Now, in The Final Summit, Andrews combines a riveting narrative with astounding history in order to show us the one thing we must do when we don't know what to do.

Many years have passed since David Ponder discovered the Seven Decisions during a divine journey through time. Now 74 years old, Ponder has lost the one thing that mattered to him most: his wife, Ellen. Despite his personal and professional success, he now sits alone at the top of his 55-story high-rise contemplating the unthinkable, just as he did 28 years ago.

However, just as things are looking their darkest, Ponder is informed through divine channels that he is needed now more than ever. Together, with the help of hundreds of his fellow Travelers, from Winston Churchill to George Washington Carver to Joan of Arc, he must work to discover the one solution that will save humanity. Time is running out, and the final summit of Travelers must work quickly to avoid dire consequences.

The Final Summit explores the historically proven principles that have guided our greatest leaders for centuries, and how we might restore these principles in our own lives...before it's too late.

I have not read the first David Ponder book. I picked this to review simply because it sounded fun. I'm glad I chose it. It was a quick read (one day for me) and it really had a lot of great one-liners. I'm scared to say too much so I give nothing away, but it's really good. I kinda questioned the whole Gabriel thing, but you know, it's fiction and no one really knows anyway. I do think that the archangel was exceedingly arrogant and I just don't see that as a trait of angels.

One part that really sticks with me is when one historical figure talks about self-control and discipline. It came on a day where I'm really fed up with going to the gym and want to quit. Strangely enough, I think this will keep me motivated and disciplined to keep working and doing something to help myself feel better.

Anyway, pick up the book, even if you haven't read the first David Ponder book. It's a good read.

I received an advance copy of the book in order to write my review. No additional compensation has been provided and I was not required to write a positive review.