Monday, October 31, 2011

A Whisper of Peace by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Well, I just finished reading A Whisper of Peace by Kim Vogel Sawyer, and loved it! It is a great book about a brother-stepsister pair of missionaries to an Alaskan Indian people group in 1898. It’s not a love story, not an adventure per se, but it is a nice historical fiction.

Clay and his step-sister Vivian have come to spread the Gospel to an Alaskan Indian people group. As they arrive they meet a young woman, Lizzie, who is part white, part Athabascan, and is forced to live separate from the tribe due to her mixed blood. As the story progresses, Clay builds a school building and begins his work among the tribe members; Vivian assists and makes friends with Lizzie. This turns out to be very unpopular with the tribal leadership. I don’t want to give more away, but read the book to see how this part of the story develops! There is also a great sub-story about Vivian, which I wished the book addressed even more.

So, I already said I liked the book. It was a clear, easy book to read. It had interesting “scenery” not just the Alaskan landscape, but also the tribe and its customs and traditions. There actually wasn’t much character development of Clay, who was seemingly one of the main characters, but that seemed okay. As the story unfolded Lizzie and Vivian took center stage. I don’t want to give any more away, but really, it’s a nice read. It’s not so much a love story, so for those who don’t like romances, this book may be for you!

If you’re looking for a nice, clean, easy, entertaining read, check this one out!

I received a copy of this book for free from Bethany House Publishers for the purposes of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Barber Who Wanted to Pray by R C Sproul

The book The Barber Who Wanted to Pray by RC Sproul is a children's book. Though it is written for children, I'm not sure if it's meant to be read alone by a child. The paintings are gorgeous and detailed. The topic is interesting, a story told of another story, of Martin Luther and his advice about how to pray. As an adult reading it, I was interested in the pattern of praying using parts of famous prayers.

As far as its appeal to children, I'm not sure. My children thought it was interesting and they enjoyed the pictures, but I'm not sure they understood what it meant to pray in this fashion. I do think it could be a good devotional tool, a starting point for discussing this method of praying. So. . .I'll call it a valuable book. Kids who read it themselves may ask questions which lead to their understanding it. Therein lies its value.

Would I buy it for my family? Yes. Would I give it as a gift? Hmmmm. . .maybe, maybe not. That would depend on how I thought their family would use it.

You know, it might actually make a nice book for a Sunday School or children's church class--with plenty of follow up explanation and discussion--and example.

The publisher provided me with a free copy of this book for the purposes of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Raspberry Applesauce!!

I had a bunch of apples to do up into applesauce and I found a bag of raspberries in the freezer, so I threw them in--YUMMMMMMMMM!!!! It'll be a great treat for the winter! :)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Living Close to God (When you're not good at it) by Gene Edwards

I loved the honesty of the title of this book, and I loved the first few chapters. A book, written for those of us who have a hard time following the standard, ”wake up, read 10 chapters of the Bible, and pray for 30 minutes” pattern. The author appears to be a “real guy” who struggles like his readership in the area of spiritual closeness with God. He goes on to describe the way he slowed down and became deliberate in his seeking communion with God.

The mid-section of the book kind of reviews the beginning part, with further illustrations and reminders. The end section just. . .ends. I thought it was a really abrupt ending, and was kind of confusing, in referring to “Scott”—I had to flip back through the beginning of the book again and again until I realized it must be a person he referred to in the Acknowledgements section. The book is written as a reference, to be read several times—maybe upon reading a second or third time I would feel the flow of the book better. It even has a study guide to enable an easy use with group study. I think this is how I would have liked to use it.

Would I recommend this book? I’m not sure. Yes, it is a nice read. It gives some good ideas for consciously focusing on the Lord. I felt at times that the author was trying so hard to explain an abstract thought or process but didn’t quite make the point. Or maybe I didn’t quite get the point. I don’t know. It was a nice short book, so give it a try. You may gain something which could enhance your relationship with the Lord.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Tehran Initiative by Joel C. Rosenberg

I haven't read a book like The Tehran Initiative for a long time,but it was an interesting book to read. Here's an exerpt from the cover of the book:

The world is on the brink of disaster and the clock is ticking. Iran has just conducted its first atomic weapons test. Millions of Muslims around the world are convinced their messiah—known as “the Twelfth Imam”—has just arrived on earth. Israeli leaders fear Tehran, under the Twelfth Imam’s spell, will soon launch a nuclear attack that could bring about a second holocaust and the annihilation of Israel. The White House fears Jerusalem will strike first, launching a preemptive attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities that could cause the entire Middle East to go up in flames, oil prices to skyrocket, and the global economy to collapse. With the stakes high and few viable options left, the president of the United States orders CIA operative David Shirazi and his team to track down and sabotage Iran’s nuclear warheads before Iran or Israel can launch a devastating first strike.

That summary/intro gives you a feel for the tone of the book. It was an interesting read. . .kind of reminiscent of a Tom Clancy book. I enjoyed reading it. The reason I said at the start that it was not the sort of book I usually read is that as a mom I don't often read books so long and involved as this one. I used to read a lot of books of this type, and in reading it I found that I miss the type of challenging read such as this which really engages your mind. You have to read it with care, following the details, for the story to make sense to you.

I enjoyed the way the book was written, little segments in which different characters of the story are in the first person mode, in different geographical locations. Careful reading allowed the reader to follow the story line as it unfolded and brought all those segments together. It was high suspense, political intrigue, life and death situations. The story was very realistic sounding to me. The author did a great job of writing little vignettes and then drawing them all together to show the big picture of what was happening.

By the way, this book is a second in a series, and I had not read the first book. It did not hinder my enjoyment or understanding of this book.

I would certainly recommend this book. It's not a fluffy book, or a romance, but a thought-provoking read. It does take some time to read, but is very interesting! It does have a Biblical message within it, not especially strong, but a nice touch. I'll definitely pass this book on and suggest it to others!

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for the purposes of this review and the Tyndale House blog tour for this book. I was not required to write a positive review.

If you'd like to see more info about this book from Tyndale or watch a video of the author speaking about this book, click

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Jackson Jones: The Tale of a Boy, an Elf, and a Very Stinky Fish

Like reading my 9-yr old’s mind!

This book that I’m going to tell you about was perhaps the most PERFECT book for my nine-year old son. It’s like reading his mind—like all the stories/adventures he makes up—like his dreams and daydreams—but put together in a more polished way.

This book, Jackson Jones: The Tale of a Boy, and Elf, and a Very Stinky Fish was superb—it’s just right for the age group for which it was written. It’s imaginative, quirky, silly, and has a wonderful amount of rabbit trails. It’s the story of a boy’s overnight journey into a magical world in his great-aunt’s hair! Weird, huh?  It’s an amazing journey for a normal, kind of insecure young boy—as he travels along with the help of a guide (Meeka the elf)—into many different mini-adventures and meets many more folks living in “Great-Aunt Harriet’s Hair.” In his travels he meets several very wise residents of this place (Great-Aunt Harriet’s Hair!) who teach him lessons about his value as a person and his outlook on life as well as teaching him about “The Author” who created him/life/etc and has a plan for his life.

I don’t want to give any more of the story away, you need to read this book if you have kids in this age range! It’s a fun fun read, and it has a nice gentle message about life and God’s control/purpose/plan for it. It’s not an evangelistic book by any means, but it’s a great nudge in relation to God’s hand in each of our lives. This will be a great addition to my son’s library—of course it’s not the only type of reading material he loves reading, but it’s certainly a winner!

I would totally recommend this book! I will say that some readers might find it totally ridiculous, not their type of reading, but for my son and his friends—this is it!

I received a copy of this book for free from Zondervan Publishers for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Most Important Thing You'll Ever Study by Starr Meade

This set of books, entitled The Most Important Thing You'll Ever Study, A Survey of the Bible, is AMAZING!!! It is a set of five workbooks, two on the Old Testament, two on the New Testament, and the fifth book is an answer key.

The setup of the books is that it goes through each of the books of the Bible. At the beginning of most of the books, there is an introduction about the book, a summary of what is in the book, and a bit of historical or explanatory material about the book as a whole. Following that, it moves into segments of that book to read and then questions on that day's reading, questions to make you pay attention to what you're reading! Going through all 4 books you will end up reading the entire Bible.

I love this set of books. It is a great value (very inexpensive for what you get!) and I am planning on using them in our homeschooling. Actually, I think I'll use one set for myself, and purchase others for my children. There is not a lot of "application" per se in the textbooks, but it is a great tool for learning about what is in each of the books of the Bible, and the Holy Spirit can use this for personal application.

I would recommend these books to anyone!! Homeschooler or not, it's great material for everyone to use.

I was given a copy of these books for free from Crossway Books as a part of their blogger review program. I was not required to write a positive review. Crossway's blog is found at

Monday, October 10, 2011

Free Christian Music downloads

Two Christian radio stations that I know of offer free new music downloads occasionally on their website--just wanted to share my info with you in case you're looking for a good free download now and then! One is Air1 radio station--their free song is here and the other one is KLOVE and their free song is here . They have new songs every couple of weeks, so check with them periodically!

If you know of any others, feel free to let me/us know! Enjoy!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Big Book of History

Timelines! My children love looking at timelines and seeing progressions and innovations. This book, the Big Book of History, is a wonderful timeline, full of an amazing amount of information.

First of all, let me tell you about the format. It looks like an oversized book, with heavy card-stock pages, but they’re more than pages! The “pages” which you can flip through book-style, also fold out into a fifteen foot timeline, so you can visually see the passage of time through the important dates/events highlighted in this edition.

The pages are bright with color, several different timelines moving through each era: Biblical/Christianity themed events, World events, Civilizations/Empires, and Inventions/Technology. The color coding makes it easy to pick out the events in each category.

Along with all this color is an enormous amount of pictures and text illustrating events from different segments of time (for example: when was bookbinding developed, info about King Arthur, the first modern bicycle, and so important—the first chocolate bar). There are also paragraphs on topics of interest sprinkled throughout, such as mummies, the Olympics, Homer, the Flood/Ice Age, the Holocaust, and so many more.

In case you were wondering about the extent of the timeline, it begins with Creation and goes up until 2010. Of course, it is not all-inclusive, but it does a good job of hitting many high-points and items of interest.

I would certainly recommend this book/timeline. It is very entertaining and educational to look through. The colors and illustrations, as well as the way the pages are set up are very appealing and just beg you to look one more time and notice one more thing. I think the creators of this book did a wonderful job and I appreciate their inclusion of Biblical events. It says on the back of the book that it is for 7 to 12 year olds, but I believe that many people outside of that age range will read and enjoy this timeline!

I received a copy of this book for free from the publishers in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Family Illustrated Bible

What is a Bible? My definition of The Bible is the 66 God-inspired books of the Old Testament and New Testament. I have mentioned before that it annoys me when a book purports to be a Bible when it is actually just a collection of Bible stories chosen by the book’s editor, and most often paraphrases of the Scriptural story (**and when I say story, I in no way mean to imply that they are fictional—I mean a section/happening from Scripture). Honestly, if it’s a book of stories from the Bible, call it that, not a Bible!!

This book is called The Family Illustrated Bible, and although it is not a Bible (as discussed above), it is a book filled with stories from throughout the Old and New Testaments. Each story is nicely illustrated and the Bible reference from which it was taken is cited at the top of the page. It’s eye-catching for sure. Sprinkled throughout the text are 2-page spreads which give current day information about the places, archaeological finds, etc.—with plenty of pictures as well. I loved this about this book—the current-day connection is great for reminding people that it is not in fact a “made up” book.

I will however, say that there are several things that concern me about this book. In the introductory section, to me it sounded like it was written by a nonbeliever, just in kind of a documentary form—for instance when it talks about Old Testament prophecy—it doesn’t say it is fulfilled in the New Testament, but rather that “Christians believed. . .or Christians linked. . .” they’re not saying it WAS fulfilled, but rather that that is what Christians thought. There are other things—liberties taken by the author in her paraphrasing of the story—which are not in the Bible. This may sound nit-picky, but if it’s not in the Bible, it’s not in the Bible! It bugs me when kids are told a Bible story a certain way and then believe it as truth—even if it’s not in the Bible (for instance the apple/rather than “fruit” thing with Eve {not in this book, thankfully!}) A little embellishment or “imagination” goes into stories as people tell them, and as long as it’s understood to be just that, fine, but when it’s taught it should be from the Scripture itself. Okay, off my soapbox  Another large concern to me was the book’s use of the BCE and BC terminology over the traditional BC/AD. It’s not even as if BC/AD are outdated—they’re used by most people—this BCE/BC thing looks to me like another way to take Christ out of our daily life.

All in all, would I recommend this book? I don’t know. It’s easy to read to your children, and has attention-grabbing illustrations. I love the archaeological explanations and the current-day pictures of Bible scenes. BUT it’s not a Bible, and it should be remembered that it is just a person’s re-telling of some of the Bible stories. If accuracy is what you’re after, read the Scriptures to your family and you can go from there.

I received a copy of this book for free from New Leaf Press in exchange for my honest review.

My favorite super-fast breakfast

My very favorite breakfast to make--primarily because it's so quick and easy to make--we just call it eggs in toast, some people call it eggs in a nest. . .my brother in law calls them "bunnies" for some unknown reason :)

In case you've never made them before, just tear the center circle out of a piece of bread and pop it onto the frying pan (put the center part on too!) crack an egg into the center and cook till it's done (flip halfway through). We like ours with soft centers, but if you don't,just cook it a little longer.

We always serve ours with jam and the kids love to put it on the toast circle and the toast on the edges.

Since we always have eggs available (we have chickens) we have this breakfast a couple times a week! :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

How Do We Know the Bible is True by Ken Ham and Brodie Hodge

Is the Bible true? Yes, I believe it is. So why am I reading a book entitled, “How Do We Know the Bible is True?” Although I do believe the Bible is true, sometimes it is difficult to explain why I do believe this to a person who does not agree with me on that. This book is filled with essays on the topic by Christian authors, dealing with a variety of topics regarding the Bible’s truth and authenticity.

There are chapters on how we got today’s Bible, the doctrine of the trinity, the authorship of the Pentateuch, internal consistency of the Bible, evolution, and many others.

I’d class this as an academic book. It’s not a “read-through” book, as it’s made up of many essays on different topics, but I’d better call it a reference. I do think it’s a valuable reference and addition to a Christian’s library. It’s not a light read, but valuable.

I was given a free copy of this book from the publisher for review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Pershing: Commander of the Great War by John Perry

General Pershing is known by most people as a famous person they learned about in school for his great command duties in World War I, but what else do you know about him? This biography, though fairly short ( 222 pages) is quite comprehensive in covering the many aspects of his life and his career. The title of the book is Pershing: Commander of the Great War and it not only follows his career as a soldier, but also his personal life to some extent.

After reading this book I am impressed with Pershing’s way of treating people as worthwhile, even those who were not treated thus by others (Indians, black soldiers, Phillipine tribesmen, etc). A humble heart shines out at least in those instances. The author also strives (too hard almost?) to convince us of Pershing’s fun-loving, kind, loving side of his character which was apparently not in evidence much of the time (in public). He was a very accomplished man, not only disciplined and very wise in military settings, but also quick to learn and excel at other things—such as poker and dancing (which the author points out multiple times.)

This biography was fairly easy to read and I did not find it objectionable—I would allow my pre-teen children to read it as a means of learning about his life. I will say that the cover/binding made the book look unappealing, but there’s another case of “Don’t judge a book by its cover”! I did find it interesting, even though I don’t have much interest in reading about war-related topics. I would recommend this book as recreational reading to someone interested in wars/soldiers and as educational reading to someone wanting to learn more about the many phases of Pershing’s life.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Falls Like Lightning by Shawn Grady

Smoke! Fire! Plane crashes! Murder! Deceit! Gold! True love! My goodness, what a lot of suspense and drama! This book, Falls Like Lightning, by Shawn Brady , has it all! It’s a crazy amount of action packed into a book spanning only a few days.

Silas is an experienced smoke-jumper, ready to jump out of a plane into a forest fire area to combat spreading fire. He’s been in some tough situations, but nothing like what he faces in this book. Elle is an experienced pilot, one of the best at getting the smokejumpers into position; she has also recently faced the loss of her father, also a pilot, and a mysterious illness causing seizures in her young daughter.

Mixed into the bunch is a deceitful plot by several smokejumpers to steal a cache of gold hidden deep within the forestfire area. . .so much gold that they are willing to eliminate anyone or anything that stands in their way.

I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll leave it at that, but I will say that it was a thrilling book, very entertaining, and enough action to keep the story moving right along! I did enjoy the book and would recommend it to anyone looking for a good fun read, with elements of mystery, suspense, and romance all mixed in.

I was given a copy of this book by the publisher for the purposes of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Grapey applesauce

We eat a lot of applesauce throughout the year and one year we kind of stumbled on this (Well, actually--it was a year we had grown a lot of concord grapes and I was sick of making jelly and juice. . .this was the next outcome!) It's what we call "grapey applesauce"!! Yummmmm!! So easy to do; it's basically just make applesauce with the addition of concord grapes.

Here's how we do it--chunk up apples and put them in a stock pot with some water. Add some (a few handfuls) concord grapes. Cook on medium till the apples are soft (make sure you stir them every few minutes so they don't burn). Put through foley food mill, add a little sugar (really! add some sugar--it brings out the flavors more, I think)

And voila! you have grapey applesauce!

Process in boiling water canner. Yummmmm!! :)