Tuesday, April 30, 2013

bread and wine review

"Bread and Wine: a Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes" by Shaunna Niequist is a collection of essays(?) centering around food, body, Christ, and house socializing.  The stories are sectioned off and usually end with a recipe.  They sometimes read like diary entries or blog posts.  Niequist is a wonderful writer.  Her voice is clear, touching, and, this gal is funny!  I really enjoyed reading this book.  However, the recipes are  not ones that most people would try or would probably like if they did.  They tend to be either bazaar or upper crust complicated.  Personally, I think she eats weird. Maybe it's a Chicago thing.  I don't know; but if you are looking for recipes, I would suggest you look elsewhere.  The recipes are more of a footnote to the stories.  I would give "Bread & Wine" an A-.  I received this book for free from Handlebar Publishing.

Monday, April 29, 2013

julianne review

"Julianne" (Book One in Coastal chronicles) by Rebekah Lyn is a novel about a woman in her twenties living on the East Coast who has finally finding herself.  Julianne is a telemarketer who is a Public Relations wanna be.  She has the degree, now she needs the opportunity.  She is also surrounded by men.  All love her and want to take care of her.  Julianne grows up in this story both in the career and the man department.  She is also introduced to God, Whom she knows little about, but is interested.
This is a pretty quick read.  The Julianne character is fairly well developed, but the men tend to blend.  It is also well researched.  I didn't realize how little I knew about the theater.  I would recommend this book for a young adult: late teens, early twenties, leaning more towards women.  I would classify it as a beach read.  Easy to read and yet entertaining. I received this book for free from the author through www.bodyandsoulpublishing.com

All My Children

As everyone knows, today is the day that All My children has been risen and brought back to us.  It started playing online on Hulu.  I started watching this show at birth and watched on and off throughout my life.  As far as the new online version I must say it is something like, the Count got a hold of a '57 Chevy and souped it up big time.  The show has everything that made it a classic plus a lot of chrome and flames to make it a show piece.  Here is the scoop: Pine Valley has jumped 5 years ahead, with all of the kiddos having grown up and ready to do the heavy lifting.  It runs half an hour instead of one; it still has commercials, but not as many or as long. It still has the big guns (David and the Hubbards), but has weeded out all of the characters that were filler before. The down side is there is no Erica, but Adam is back, so hey.  Since they are online, you can watch anytime, you don't have to wait for 12 or Soapnet.  They also don't have to stick to the daytime rules.  They can be as sexy as they wanna be and have artistic freedoms (cussing and innuendos), yet still classy enough not to get carried away with it.  Oh, and Petey.  Yes, Petey is my new boyfriend. 
I will definitely be watching this daily.  Probably at my lunch hour, just for old time's sake.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

north of hope review

"North of Hope: A Daughter's Arctic Journey" is a memoir written by Shannon Huffman Polson reliving the author's grief and recovery after her parents having been killed by a bear in the Arctic while camping.  After the killing of her parents, Shannon, an Alaskan, decides to follow the route her parents took during their last trip in the Arctic.  She gets to know her parents better and settle her grief.
Though this is an amazing story, and really, how could she not have written a book about such unusual circumstances; it isn't all that good.  She goes into overkill with the descriptions.  She also goes off on off-the-wall analogies.  Shannon, the main character, is hard to get to know.  Rather than getting to know her personally, she presents herself to the reader in a melodramatic fashion that is a bit unnerving.  It's not poorly written; but it is distracting.  The writing style makes it hard to care about the characters.  I would recommend giving this book a try, for the storyline alone, however, it just wasn't my brand of book. C+
I received this book for free from Handlebar Publishing.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Mary review

"Daughter of Jerusalem" by Joan Wolf is a fictional novel based on the biblical stories of Mary (of Mary and Martha fame) and Mary Magdalene.  In the novel, Wolf combines the two women into one and tells her story from childhood to the resurrection of Jesus.  The first half of the novel is the story of Mary from the age of 10,  to her forced marriage, and onto her reuniting with her sister Martha and brother Lazarus.  Then in the second half it follows her to meeting Jesus and learning of his teachings. 
If you have done much studying of the bible, this will be hard to swallow.  It is more of an introduction, or story bible for grownups.  It helps if you think to yourself "this is just a woman who lives in the Greater Jerusalem area during the Roman era."  That aside, it is well written, and entertaining.  I never really bought her as Mary Magdalene; I felt her more of the Mary/Martha Mary.  The novel brings possible answers to the questions that are there in the bible concerning the women.  I wouldn't recommend this to a die hard biblical scholar, but to a history buff, or to someone interested in the characters on a personal level.  I received this book for free from www.netgalley.com

cindy Woodsmall's new book

I have reviewed Cindy Woodsmall before and have always enjoyed her Amish Fiction.  Here is a trailer on her new book "The Winnowing Season."  Give it a try! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-oNgHdwg9Jg  And here is a sneak peek at the first chapter!  http://www.scribd.com/doc/122230567/The-Winnowing-Season-by-Cindy-Woodsmall-Sneak-Peek#.UW1qao7Q678

the hatfields and mccoys review

I listened to "The Hatfields and McCoys" written by Otis Rice and read by Dick Hill while I was at work.  This is a very interesting and extremely well researched story.  I love the whole family feud saga and the time in history in which it happened.  Anything you want to know about the Hatields and McCoys is in this book as well as history of that area and political issues of the times.  Very good book.  However, I would not recommend listening to it.  Not Dick's fault, he is great as a narrator, but there is so much detail in this book that it is hard to follow in your head.  There isn't a lot of imagery.  I have recently watched the mini-series on TV with Kevin Costner (you must watch that BTW) and that helped with the imagery in my head.  I would highly recommend reading this book.  I received this audio for free from www.edelweiss.abovethetreeline.com

Sunday, April 14, 2013

the tutor's daughter review

"The Tutor's Daughter" by Julie Klassen is a novel that takes place in 1812 England.  In classic Klassen style, Emma is an educated woman during a time when education on women was considered a waste of time.  Emma was considered a "bluestocking".  She was smart as well, and assisted her father in tutoring young men in preparation for university.  At the age of 21, Emma and her father close up the school for boys and move to a manor to be the private tutor to a pair of spoiled, wealthy twins, Julian and Rowen Weston.  While there Emma is surrounded in mystery, challenges, discrimination, and violence. 
Klassen's books usually involve the same time period and a feminine empowerment of sorts, not typical of the time.  I really enjoy Klassen and this book is no different.  It is not a masterpiece, but it is a well written and enjoyable book.  Emma is a clear character; Lizzie is a great contrast to Emma's straight and narrow.  It is a long read, but with the mystery build, the action, and then the climax, I am not sure what could be cut out.  I give it a B-.  I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

not for me

"Red Letter Revolution: What if Jesus really Meant What He Said?" by Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo is a book written by a couple of guys who seem to want you to agree with every idea that floats through their heads, because they are, of course, right on all things.  The book is a back and forth dialogue written between the two men about what they think Christianity is.  And of course, they agree with each other 100%.  Basically it is a "biblically based" ( I use that term loosely) string of excuses as to why they can mooch off of others.  I would not read this book if I were you; I couldn't even get through it the first time.  D-  I received this book for free from Thomas Nelson.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

invisible review

No matter what your size, there is a reason to connect with this book.  "Invisible" by Ginny L. Yttrup is a novel about three women and a man who are connected through their body image, physical health, and emotional trauma.  Allyn is an overweight middle aged bachelorette who owns and cooks in her restaurant.  Sabina, is a psychiatrist on sabbatical who is battling depression and probably a good case of post traumatic stress disorder.  Twila is an anorexic woman in her mid-twenties who works in a health foods store.  And finally we have the good doctor, Miles, who is the connection of the three.
The book is arranged so that each chapter is a first person telling of the four main characters.  Each character has a distinctive voice that is undeniably their own.  The characters are detailed and well written.  Mostly, the plot is the telling of each person's image and association with God.  This is a great book.  I received this book for free from Handlebar Publishing.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

veggie tales

I received "The Little House that Stood" a Veggie Tales DVD for free from www.servantwifemother.blogspot.com and showed it to my Sunday School class.  As a teacher, I thought it was funny in a way that the kids didn't get, but still appropriate.  The movie was 48 minutes long and included the House on a solid foundation parable using the three little pigs nursery rhyme.  This was a good way to introduce parables as well as this specific lesson.  A short of the Humpty Dumpty prequel was also included. A word of advice, don't show both stories together, it makes it too long for a class.  We also used printout color pages that were found on pintrist. Here is the review of one member of the class.
Sarah-8:  It was good.  I liked the Humpty Dumpty story best.
So there you have it.  It is good.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

sinners and the sea review

"Sinners and the Sea" by Rebecca Kanner is the untold story of Noah's wife.  In the bible Noah's wife has no name, and in the novel she has no name.  She is called whatever her relationship is with the person speaking or 'Demon Woman'.  The novel not only covers the well known story of the building of the ark and the flood, but also a fictional account of Demon Woman's life as a child with a mark (birthmark) and the agony of growing up in a society that keeps her separate from them. 
Most of this book is really good.  Again, the account of Demon Woman is very fictional, most of which has no biblical basing.  This is what could have happened.  In a world of sinners, thieves, murderers, and prostitutes, there is no lack of drama being had in this novel.  Even the ark gets pretty exciting.  There is an area in the middle of the book that hits a rather dull stretch, but most of the novel is well written and realistic.  I received this book for free from the publisher Howard Books.

Desperate Review

"Desperate: Hope for the Mom who Needs to Breathe" by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson is a devotional written by two moms, a newbie and a veteran.  Sarah Mae has three small children, is a SAHM, but also a writer and speaker.  Sally Clarkson is a mother of four, the youngest is in her late teens, she is a Home School mom and a missionary.  The two moms put together a series of "momisms".  Each chapter opens with letters to each other concerning an issue.  Then Sarah will give her side, then Sally hers.  Each chapter ends with a "Your Turn" which consists of scripture and journaling, followed by "Something to Do" which is a homework assignment.
I am a mom.  I have three (two are in high school, one in second grade) I also have four step children (two are graduating college, one is still in, and the younger is joining the army).  I have faced the bad from terminal illness, felonies, and head lice.  I have also seen the good, from Honor students, beauty queen, star athlete, and hunting trophies.  There was a lot in this book I totally got.  Sometimes it really hit home.  I could relate to both women, though not always on the same issues.  This is a good book for the mama.  Whatever "season" she is in.  I received this book for free from the publisher, Thomas Nelson, through Family Fiction.

a short story and a short not story

I have a couple of shorts that I have received for free that I will give a short review on.  The first is "Cultivating a Heart for Motherhood" by Joy Forney is a non-fiction short about dealing with motherhood using scripture to find the strength to make it through one more day.  This is only 33 pages long and takes less than an hour to read.  So think naptime.  This isn't the best writing in the world, but the message she is sending is a relief.  The website it came from www.gracefullmama.com seems like it would be a 'stay at home or you're going to hell' kind of site.  Sometimes it is, but mostly it is a ;granting permission; even, congratulating on a job well done' kind of site.  This is a good short for those feeling the strain of early motherhood.
"Broken Pieces" by TL Higley, www.tracyhigley.com, is a short story about a woman, Natalee, who works in a museum and meets who she believes to be a Roman soldier.  The soldier teaches her about God's grace regardless of how broken the person is.  The story is well written, but a little corny.  It is a good introduction to Higley's work. 

Marching right along

March has ended.  Kind of a weird month, full of snow and blizzards, thunderstorms, Easter.  Unusual.  This month I read 10 books.  I'm getting behind on my reading for review.  I've been doing some reading for no special reason.  I have purposely been doing less in my community in order to have some down time.  I tend to overextend myself, and then I get a little grouchy.  Hopefully I will be less grouchy and doing more reading this year.  That was my New Year's resolution; so far, so good.  Of the 10 books I read three were digital, one was audio, and the rest were real.  Here goes the list:
Love at Last Sight- The Shooks
Grits and Glory- Haley Whitehall
Congo Dawn- Jeanette Windle
The Inner Circle- Brad Meltzer
Echoes- Robin Jones Gunn
Scarlet Thread- Francine Cushman
Spare Change- Robert B. Parker
The Guardian- Beverly Lewis
Fever- Mary Beth Keane

Of the month's top books I would give the prize to Almost Amish and Fever.  Now, The Inner Circle got some bad review on Amazon, but I would have to say I don't agree with them.  It's not a classic waiting to happen, but it's still a good book.  If you like Meltzer or conspiracy, you should look it up.