Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Book Review: Night Night Blessings

I had the same concerns with Night Night Blessings as I did with the children’s book I reviewed yesterday. Picture books just don’t convert to eBooks very well. In this case, the text that went with the pictures didn’t even land on the same page. I can’t imagine how confusing that would be for a child. It’s crucial that the words and pictures go together.

That thought aside, the illustrations in Night Night Blessings are adorable. I especially liked the little critters scattered randomly throughout. As for the story, it’s a bedtime poem-prayer. The child in the pictures is thanking God for every part of a routine day from pancakes for breakfast, to time with friends and family, to bathtub fun, to God’s love, presence, and care.

The rhyme itself didn’t come naturally. I often had to think about it and work it out. This would be a challenge for parents trying to read the story aloud to active toddlers. Parents might want to practice it first. I also wasn’t sure about the child’s age. One moment she’s playing leap frog and kick ball with friends like an elementary age child would do. The next she’s building with blocks like a preschooler.

If I were going to invest $10 in a book for my child’s library, I would probably choose a different one. Children may love the pictures, but parents will get their tongues tied trying to read the words in rhythm.

Tommy Nelson Publishers sent a complimentary eCopy of this book for my review.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Book Review: Thank You, God, for Blessing Me

Thank You, God, for Blessing Me by Max Lucado didn't work very well as an eBook. Written for babies, it's a Read 2 Me book about Little Hermie. The book is adorable, but the layout didn't work as intended in eBook format. Besides that, I strongly believe that babies need books they can hold, flip the pages of and chew on. That's how they fall in love with reading! (You wouldn't want your baby to chew on your eBook device, would you? I think that would be dangerous for both the baby and the eBook device.)

The story itself is very sweet. Thank You, God, for Blessing Me is a 20 line poem-prayer with five pictures: four lines of poem for each picture. In the poem, Hermie thanks God for everything he encounters through his day from morning until night: self, food, friends, creation. He also asks God to help him be the best he can be.

Illustrations are done by Frank Endersby. They go perfectly with the poem-prayer. The bright colors and funny critter faces are sure to appeal to the book's intended readers (and to their mommies and maybe even daddies, too).

I thank Tommy Nelson Publishers for sending a complimentary eCopy of this book for my review. If you have small children (or grandchildren), I recommend the 10-page board book to you.

Book Review: The Baker's Wife

I chose The Baker’s Wife for review out of author loyalty. I’ve enjoyed both of Erin Healy’s other books (Never Let You Go and The Promises She Keeps), so I hoped I would enjoy this one, too, though it’s description didn’t really intrigue me.

Erin Healy did not disappoint me. This book turned out to be my favorite of the three. I’m happy to recommend it to you!

The baker’s wife is a former pastor’s wife—same husband, new career, brought on by unjust circumstances. The two, along with their grown son, continue their ministry of outreach to hurting people by turning their marriage hobby into a community business.

Unfortunately, when the baker’s wife is involved in a mysterious accident resulting in a missing person’s case, the man responsible for forcing them out of the church determines he must destroy them as well. The baker’s wife and two unlikely allies must work quickly to solve the mystery and set things right.

I enjoyed the story and also appreciated Healy’s subtle questions about and insights into what is a sincere Christian life. Diane Hall, the somewhat wrongly convicted murderess, was one of my favorite characters; I appreciated her side story and the message it contained.

If you enjoy a good mystery with a thought-provoking message, you’ll want to read this book!

Oops! Disclaimer here: Thank you, Thomas Nelson Publishers, for sending a complimentary copy of this book for my honest review.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Book Review: Attracted to Fire

How do you protect a suicidal drug addict with a price on her head? If she’s the vice president’s daughter, you imprison her on a remote ranch in Texas with six secret service agents, her own personal doctor and nurse, a cook and two ranch hands, a father and son.

Believing her parents are more interested in social causes and politics than in her, Lindsay Hall is determined to ruin their reputation by ruining hers even if this means destroying herself in the process. For reasons only he knows, the vice president handpicks secret service agent Meghan Conners to stay by his daughter’s side, to protect her from herself and other threats. Meghan joins Ash Zinder’s team for this assignment against Zinder’s wishes. He believes women have no place in the secret service. Meghan must show him he’s wrong while keeping her focus and protecting Lindsay.

Attracted to Fire is the second DiAnn Mills book I’ve been privileged to read. This one is exceptional! Action and adventure. Conspiracy. Suspense. And a bit of romance, of course.

My only frustration was with the cover art. As in the first DiAnn Mills book I read, the main character as pictured on the cover doesn’t match Mills description of her. More than once, Mills says Meghan has reddish blonde hair. The character on the cover is a brunette. But that’s only a minor nuisance. The quality of the story more than made up for it. I just don't understand why this detail would be overlooked.

I thank Tyndale Publishers for sending a complimentary copy of this book for my review. I am happy to recommend it to fans of the romance/suspense genre.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Book Review: Ascent from Darkness

This ain’t no bedtime story! I know. I actually read several chapters before bed last night, and then I prayed myself to sleep. I finished the book today. If you’ve put your trust in Christ, there’s nothing to fear in this book—not one thing. But it’s still one very creepy story.

And yet it somehow manages to end so happily!

This is something only God can do, and that gives all of us hope. If God can overcome Satan on this level, saving a man who dedicated his life by blood to the evil one, God can save anyone. Are you listening? Anyone! Our God is just that powerful.

As I read the story, it was eye-opening to read of Michael Leehan’s determination to attack and destroy Christians and the methods he used. He memorized Scripture, then attended services pretending to be a Christian. He used his knowledge of Scripture to twist it and confuse those who were weak in faith. And somehow he always knew whom he could prey on—and whom he had to leave alone. This definitely makes one think.

I was also impressed at the way God worked with Leehan, never allowing him to kill anyone, though he had decided to more than once, and putting strong, determined, and spiritually-sensitive Christians in his life over and over again.

Of his story, Leehan says, “'Ascent from Darkness' addresses issues pertaining to hopelessness, depression, mental illness, spiritual warfare, incarceration, addictions, and many other struggles with which you or someone else you may know may be afflicted. My intent in writing this book is to shed God’s light into these dark circumstances and to give hope to those who feel hopeless.” I believe he accomplished this mission, and I pray this book finds its way into the hands of those who will be encouraged by his words.

After telling the story, Leehan continues, “Remember, no matter how badly you think you’ve sinned or what kind of mess you may have made of your life, it probably pales in comparison to mine. Never give up, never lose hope. Jesus Christ specializes in fixing broken messes just like us.”

I’m so thankful this is true! Thomas Nelson Publishers sent a complimentary copy of this book for my honest review. I recommend it—just not before you go to sleep!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Book Review: Falls Like Lightning

Falls Like Lightning by Shawn Grady is the story of smokejumper Silas Kent and his ex-girlfriend Elle Westmore. Not having seen each other since his sudden departure several years before, they are caught off guard when he’s called to lead a team to fight a massive fire in the Sierra Nevadas, and she’s called to fly them in.

Complicating matters for Elle are her concern for her young daughter who has been suffering from sudden seizures and her reluctance to fly over the area where her father’s plane mysteriously disappeared never to be found a few years before. With thousands of homes at risk, though, Elle must put her personal feelings aside and serve as only she can.

Falls Like Lightning is an action-adventure suspense novel with just a touch of romance. I had trouble following at first; the story was there, but character development was indistinct. Elle was easy to follow because she was the only main female character. But, at first, I kept getting Silas and Caleb confused. Bo’s sudden entrance came out of left field and made me wonder if I’d accidently picked up another book. Once everyone got on the plane and started their flight over the Sierra Nevadas, though, it all became mostly clear.

I liked the story overall. I don’t recall seeing much of God in it, which surprises me coming from Bethany House. It's a good, clean story written by a Christian author. Two people with extraordinary careers found each other again, overcame great difficulties, and lived happily ever after. The end.

Bethany House Publishers sent a complimentary copy of this book for my honest review.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Book Review: Gabby, God's Little Angel

Gabby, God’s Little Angel is a guardian angel on her first assignment. Her job is to keep Sophie safe. Since Gabby and Sophie both tend to be a little bit accident prone, it’s a challenge for Gabby. But by protecting Sophie, she shows her God’s love and care.

The story is based on Psalm 91:9, 11, “The Lord is your protection . . . . He has put his angels in charge of you. They will watch over you wherever you go.”

While it is a sweet story with darling pictures, it left me with some concerns. If the message is that God sends angels to keep us safe because He loves us, what will children think when they get hurt? What happens when they really do fall out of trees or off their ponies? What happens when injuries occur?

What’s more, while Gabby is absolutely adorable, she’s a child herself, appearing younger than Sophie and prone to accidents, too. She comes through for Sophie in the end in the story, but she’s not what I’d want my children to picture when they think of angels watching over them. I’d have reservations about what they’d learn from this book. The intent is good, God loves you and sends angels to watch over you, but what comes through is a little mixed up.

Thomas Nelson Publishers sent a complimentary eCopy of this book for my honest review.

Book Review: Hermie, a Common Caterpillar

I just finished reading Max Lucado’s newly revised version of Hermie, a Common Caterpillar. It’s been rewritten as a Level 2 Reader for children who are learning to read for themselves, using simple and familiar words and lots of repetition. As children work their way through this story, they’ll learn to read while learning God loves them just the way they are, and He isn’t finished with them yet!

Hermie and his friend, Wormie, are common caterpillars. No spots, stripes or distinctive markings for them. When they see other caterpillars, they talk to God about their commonness. He assures them He loves them just the way they are and isn’t finished with them yet. They are content for a while, then they see a strong ant and talk to God again. He reassures them of His love once more. This repeats with a snail’s house and a ladybug’s spots. The pictures tell part of the story that words don’t showing Hermie and Wormie trying to wiggle into shells like a snail and painting spots all over themselves.

In the end, God has a big surprise for Hermie which gives hope to Wormie. God loves them just the way they are, and He isn’t finished with them yet!

Thomas Nelson publishers sent me a complimentary eCopy of this book for my review. I’m happy to recommend it, though I’m partial to the hold-able version with pages to turn, for children learning to read.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Book Review: Stained Glass Hearts

The subtitle for Patsy Clairmont’s book Stained Glass Hearts tells what the book is about: seeing life from a broken perspective. As stained glass windows are made up of pieces of broken glass arranged to make something beautiful, broken lives reveal truths of God, perhaps otherwise not seen.

The book is a collection of Clairmont’s reflections on stories and events from her life. The theme of each chapter is not always clear; she sometimes allows her thoughts to wander where they will as she shares lessons learned through the varied experiences of her life. And this book doesn’t contain as much humor as we’re used to from Clairmont; this time she’s much more serious. But it is a thought-producing read, comforting for those who’ve experienced pain and suffering on the level that Clairmont has.

Unique to this book is The Art Gallery at the end of almost every chapter. Here Clairmont invites us to explore other works that express the thoughts she’s tried to convey through words. She invites us to explore art, music, YouTube productions, architecture, poetry, prayers, Scripture, and related books, telling us where to find them—whether to purchase, Google, or visit personally. To explore all of these would take some time, but I’m sure each holds a blessing for the determined observer.

I thank Thomas Nelson Publishers for giving me a downloadable e-version of this book for my honest review.