Friday, December 30, 2011

Fodor's Germany - 26th Edition

Fodor's Germany
Copyright 2012 by Fodor's Travel, a division of Random House, Inc.
ISBN 978-0-679-00959-7

Having travelled extensively about Germany in the late '70's and early '80's, I wanted to get a look at what a travel guide regarding this country looked like today. I was pleasantly surprised to see how much more eclectic it has become in 30 years!

Covering everything from beer houses to wine country, and romance to fairy-tale, this guide is unique and thorough! It covers the best markets, restaurants, places to stay, and of course, the best and must places to see! From the small child to the elderly, Fodor's Germany offers a plethora of travel excitement that will lend you a lifetime of memories to cherish!

I give Fodor's Germany...

...Five Stars and... Thumbs Up!

***DISCLOSURE: This book was provided by Amazon Vine in exchange of an independent and unbiased review.

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Giveaway! - The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge by Tony Dungy

The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge
Tony Dungy and Nathan Whitaker
copyright 2011 Tony Dungy
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
ISBN 978-1-4143-4828-5

I have to admit, before I received this book I had no idea who Tony Dungy was! Come to find out, he is a Super Bowl - winning coach! [Even I know what the Super Bowl is!]

Not being sports minded, however, I was a bit trepidatious at reviewing this book. I mean, what was this coach going to tell me about life's daily challenges! I even said so to Texican, my dh, who usually reads everything I do, but after I have reviewed it.

"Honey, give it a chance!" he coaxed me.

"Why don't you read it then?" I asked. I thought perhaps he could read it, give me his thoughts on it, and then I could simply re-write those thoughts as my own review. After all, that would be just as good, right?

"Babe, that wouldn't be very honest," he warned.

So, I sat down one evening, wrapped in my favorite afghan, with a cup of warm cocoa, and opened the book. 'I'll just give it a good skimming, and then write the review from that,' I promised myself.

Five and a half hours later, I finished the last page and sat there stunned that I had read a daily devotional completely through without even taking a break.

Yes.... Tony Dungy is that good!

Super Bowl-winning coach? Well, I can't say anything about that, except that if this man coaches football anywhere near as excellent as he can coach Christians into an 'Uncommon' walk in this life, there's no wonder his team has won such an honor!

I've used daily devotional's before, mostly as a guide when I was feeling lazy about coordinating my personal Bible study time. But this book is something that will lead you along paths of walking a different life than the world about you. An Uncommon Life!. This is one devotional that will be used again, and again, and again!

Take a listen to what Coach Dungy has to say about this:

You can read more about Coach Dungy here, and view the book on Tyndale's website here.

I highly recommend The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge to readers of all ages! There are daily scriptures, followed by Coach Dungy's words of encouragement, and closing each day with an Uncommon Key, to help you walk each day in an Uncommon way!

I give this book...

...Five Stars and... Thumbs Up award!

And thanks to Tyndale Publishers you can win your very own copy of this fantastic new book!

A random drawing will be held on Saturday, December 31st, 2011 to determine who the winner is! To enter, make sure you are following this blog [click Follow on the right] and then simply leave a comment below, stating why you would like to win this book, as well as your email for notification. I will announce the lucky winner before Midnight, so be sure to check back often!
You may enter as many times as you like.

Good luck!

****DISCLOSURE: This book was provided by Tyndale Publshing in exchange for an independent and non-biased review.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Sherman - The Ruthless Victor by Agostino Von Hassell and Ed Breslin

Sherman - The Ruthless Victor
Agostino Von Hassell and Ed Breslin
copyright 2011 Agostibo Von Hassell & Ed Breslin
Thomas Nelson, Inc.
ISBN 978-1-59555-133-7

This book was a difficult read for me. At my age, I prefer books that are uplifting and inspiring.

I found nothing uplifting or inspiring in the story of William Tecumseh Sherman.

Instead I found a military man who regarded his in-laws as domineering, and wished to make himself aloof to them. At times to the point of alienation.  His gruff demeanor would have been a burden on any wife, and yet how his wife perceived him isn't addressed by the writers.

I found him harsh and uncaring. And when reading between the lines, perhaps even endangering to those put under his charge.

I do not care for this book at all, and cannot begin to imagine how this biography made it into The Generals series of books.

I allow this book ... star alone and that is entirely for the photographs included.

I do not recommend this book to anyone under the age of 18, and it  should be read solely as a lesson in how a young man should not lead his life.

****Disclosure: This book was provided by Book Sneeze in exchange for an independent and non-bised review.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Innkeeper - John Piper

The Innkeeper
by John Piper
Paintings by Glenn Harrington
Copyright 1998, 2011 by Desiring God Foundation
Published by Crossway, Wheaton, IL
ISBN 978-1-4335-3025-8

Piper brings a visit from the Savior to the Innkeeper of the Inn where He was born.

A touching poem of loss and grief, and how the Lord will bring a sweet reunion to those who believe with their loved ones.

Harrington's paintings are lovely! And they bring life to the story, making it even more endearing.

Not just for the Christmas season, this book would make a wonderful gift of hope for those who have suffered the loss of a loved one, and especially a child.

This book is highly recommended for individual homes and study groups. I would think the reference to Herod's violence may be a bit much for children under ten, but should be fine for those old enough to understand the story of Herod's baby-boy killing.

I give this book...

...Five Stars  and... Thumbs Up Award!

****DISCLOSURE: This book was provided by Amazon Vine in exchange for an independent and non-biased review.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Journey To Christmas - A DVD Review

Journey to Christmas
Five Strangers, The Nativity Is Now Reality

This two-DVD, four-episode program, 180-minutes, unveils five individuals search through the Holy Land for the real Christmas.

A twenty-day journey that takes two men and three women through the mountains and deserts, where they will ride on camels as the Magi did; travel to Bethlehem;  visit Qumran where the lost scrolls were written; venture into ancient life at Nazareth; and touch the place of the manger.

You will rejoice with those who find the real meaning and experience what the Nativity really means. As well as feel your heart break when one individual says all he wanted for Christmas was a real experience with God, and not get it.

The video is commentaried by Bible experts Hugh Ross, Paul Maier, Craig Evans, Claire Pfann and Stephen Pfann.

Beautiful cinematography that takes us to the place where our Savior was born; breathing new life into an ancient story of truth and heavenly love.

You won't want to miss this touching adventure!

Published on DVD by Tyndale.

I give this DVD...

...Five Stars and...

...give it my Thumbs Up!

This program is suitable for individuals of all ages, and for group study.

****DISCLOSURE: This DVD was provided by Tyndale Publishing in exchange for an independent, non-biased review.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Whisper of Peace - Kim Vogel Sawyer

A Whisper of Peace
Kim Vogel Sawyer
Copyright 2011 Kim Vogel Sawyer
Bethany House Publishers
ISBN 978-0-7642-0785-3

When Clay Selby and his step-sister Vivian travel to the frontier of Alaska to be missionaries to the Athabascan people, one wonders just how they will make it in the rough wilderness.

Clay has a heart for winning the native people to the Lord. Vivian wants to teach.

When Vivian is befriended by an ostracized native girl, their mission almost comes to a screeching halt. But when God has a plan, Man need only hold on for the ride!

This is a must read for good Christian historical novels. It is also a love story, of the very tender and sweet kind.

Be sure to have a hanky on hand. You WILL be touched and warmed through and through by A Whisper of Peace.

I give Sawyer's book...

...Five Stars and... Thumbs Up!

****DISCLOSURE: This book was provided by Bethany Publishers for a non-biased and independent review.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Was Jane Austen Poisoned?

Portrait of Jane Austen based on one drawn by her sister Cassandra. Courtesy of the University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin/Wikimedia Commons.

Jane Austen, the author of classics such as "Pride and Prejudice" and "Sense and Sensibility," may have died of arsenic poisoning, according to a crime writer who has reviewed the last letters of the British novelist.

The crucial clue lies in a line written by Austen a few months before her mysterious death in 1817.
Describing weeks of illness she had recently experienced, Austen wrote: "I am considerably better now and recovering my looks a little, which have been bad enough, black and white and every wrong colour."

According to Lindsay Ashford, a British crime writer, the description matches the symptoms of arsenic poisoning, "which causes skin spotting if taken in small doses over a long time."

"Known as the ‘raindrop’ effect, it causes some patches of skin to go dark brown or black; other areas lose all pigment to go white," Ashford wrote in the Daily Mail.

The crime writer strengthened her theory when she learned that a lock of Austen's hair bought at an auction in 1948 by a now deceased American couple, had tested positive for arsenic.

"The arsenic in Jane’s hair meant that she had ingested the poison in the months before her death," Ashford said.

Austen's untimely end at the age of 41 has long been a cause for speculation among historians.

Her mysterious and fatal illness was first identified as Addison’s disease, a rare disorder of the adrenal glands; other diagnoses included the cancer Hodgkin's disease, the auto-immune disease lupus, Brill- Zinsser disease (a recurrent form of the typhus the novelist had as a child) and disseminated tuberculosis of bovine origin.

"All these conditions display some of the signs Jane reported, but none matches her description of her face in the letter," Ashford said.

She added that it is very likely Austen was given medicines containing arsenic.

Indeed, the poison was widely prescribed at that time for anything from rheumatism –- something the novelist admnitted to have suffered from -- to syphilis.

"There is, of course, another scenario: that she was deliberately poisoned. Improbable perhaps; but not impossible," Ashford said.

The crime writer explores the murder theory in her new novel, "The Mysterious Death of Miss Austen," focusing on Austen's family, which she believes is a source of shadows and doubts despite being thoroughly investigated.

****Read the remainder of this article on Discovery News here.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Comfort Food Fix - Ellie Krieger

Comfort Food Fix
Ellie Krieger
copyright 2011 - Eliie Krieger
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Comfort Food Fix promises to take our favorite comfort foods and remake them into healthier dishes.

I have used some of Krieger's recipes in the past and been well pleased with them. However, this book has been a bit of a disappointment. First, I found few recipes that resembled anything that I call comfort food! [I said few... there are some, however.] These were the more sophisticate of choice, evidently! [Perhaps it's simply my own down to earth choice of comfort foods that makes these seem a bit beyond what I like.]

I also found that while fats were reduced in almost every recipe, sodium seldom took more than a minimal dip,  with a few exceptions. However, those exceptions substituted other items that totally remade the dish instead of simply allowing the dish to remain as true to original form as possible. [Give me Diabetic Cooking magazine any day!]

The recipes were "okay" that I tried, and I am sure there will be more that I will yet try, I just do not care for the four I picked at random to sample, and I especially can't call them "comfort food".

The layout was superb in the book, and the photography was excellent.

While I did not like the few recipes I have tried thus far, I still have to give this book...

...Five Stars and...

...a Thumbs Up!

****DISCLOSURE: This book was provided free of charge by Amazon Vine for exchange of a non-biased, independent review.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday, November 4, 2011

Woodstock Handmade Houses - Robert Haney, David Ballantine and Jonathan Elliott

Woodstock Handmade Houses
Robert Haney & David Ballantine with Jonathan Elliott, photographer
Copyright 1994 Robert Haney & David Ballantine
Printed 1994 - Korea

Little text mars the brilliant photography of Jonathan Elliott as page after page of idyllic and natural, woodsy, Woodstock-like homes are shown!

From the all natural built of natures bounty and natural materials, to that of recycled items.

Earth, stone, timber, and even canvas are highlighted with interior and exterior shots.

A great coffee-table book. Or one to dream through on a wintry afternoon while curled up next to the fire.

Each page will make you "wish you were there!"

I give this book five stars

and my thumbs up!

DISCLOSURE: This book was a private purchase and under no obligation for review.

All New Slow Cooker - Easy Home Cooking

All New Slow Cooker
Easy Home Cooking
Copyright 1999 Publications International LTD
Publications International LTD

I've been looking for some recipes that would truly taste like the dishes that Grandma used to slave over the old hot cook stove for. This is about the best I've found yet!

Yummy chicken and dumplings, stews made with beef, lamb, meatballs, casseroles, pastas and turkey!
I have already made the chicken and dumplings, and look forward to making every single one of the rest of the recipes in this wonderful 94-page hard-back book.

I got this book for a steal in a local thrift shop for only $1. It's already paid for itself in yummy goodness! And the recipes are super easy, and straightforward. No guessing!

All are made in your convenient slow cooker!

I give this book five stars

 and my thumbs up!

****DISCLOSURE: This book was a private purchase and was under no obligation for review.

Night of the Living Dead Christian - Matt Mikalatos

Night of the Living Dead Christian
Matt Mikalatos
Copyright 2011 by Matt Mikalatos
Salt River Publishing
ISBN 978-1-4143-3880-4

What can I say about this book?

I truly did understand the author's analogies of Christians lacking in today's world, and comparing them to zombies, werewolves and vampires.All well and good.

However, unless one delves into the study material at the end of the book, which I fear younger readers will not do, then this is nothing more than a funny, comical Christian oriented book. And I fear the author is merely cashing in on the whole vampire craze of modern teens and young adults in America.

The message he brings is an important one. And if one already knows where to look with the analogies, the book is excellent. But I fear it is those who are reading it, simply as a fictional comedy, who will not benefit.

Therefore, I give this book...

And while I can't give it my thumbs up, neither will I give it a thumbs down. I believe the intent was good.

****Disclosure: This book was provided by Tyndale Publishing free of charge in exchange for an independent and non-biased review.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Sound Among the Trees - Susan Meissner

A Sound Among the Trees
Susan Meissner
Copyright 2011 by Susan Meissner
WaterBrook Multnomah
ISBN 978-0-307-45885-8

 Marielle has married a widower with two young children and is moving into the house that he shared with his first wife. Her family's old southern hospitality house located in historic Fredericksburg, Virginia. As if that weren't enough, the dead wife's grandmother still lives within the house; a 90-year old woman full of vim and vinegar!

Marielle thinks she can handle living in the house without difficulty. It was best for the children! That is until she hears about the alleged ghost, and the curse upon the house, Holly Oak.

A wonderful novel mixing today with Civil War era history.

Can Marielle make it work living in the house where her husband once lived with his deceased wife? Are there ghosts lingering the halls and stairways of Holly Oak?
Or is the house really the cursed place Marielle has been hearing about?

This is a novel I simply could not put down, sitting up all night to read it! At times goose bumps, at others reaching for the box of tissues...I give this book...

...Five Stars and... Thumbs Up Award!

Suitable for teens and older, this is a great read!

****DISCLOSURE: This book was provided without charge in exchange for an independent and unbiased review.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Plain and Fancy Christmas - Cynthia Keller

A Plain and Fancy Christmas
Cynthia Keller
Copyright 2011 by Cynthia Steckel
Ballantine Books - Random House, Inc.
ISBN 978-0-345-52875-9

When two baby girls are born in the same hospital, just two days apart, they are mixed up at the time their mother's were discharged for home. Each girl was raised in the home the other should have been raised in. Their destinies forever altered, each girl named Rachel, lived thirty years unknowing of the situation.

When a death bed confession brings light to the hidden secret of the mix -up, lives are once more altered.

What could have been a devastation forever changes who each woman thinks she really is.

This book brought laughter. And tears.

This was a read you simply did not want to set down!

I give this book a ...

...Five Star rating and ... Thumbs Up Award!

I highly recommend this book for all teens and adults! A great book for a study group as well! Released today... don't miss it!

****DISCLOSURE:  This book was provided at no charge from the Amazon Vine program for independent, non-biased review.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

It's Probably Nothing - Beach Conger, MD

IT'S PROBABLY NOTHING - More Adventures of a Vermont Country Doctor
Beach Conger, MD
copyright 2011 by Beach Conger, MD
Chelsea Green Publishing
Published on 30-percent postconsumer recycled paper.

I was enamored with this book! I found it lively and anecdotal.

As a retired nurse I was totally able to relate with Dr. Conger's stories of the amazing country folk of Vermont. [I have many tales of my own which I was able to relate to some of his characters!]

Through his relationship with his patients, to their every quirk and fancy, every ailment, and every imagined one, I felt that Conger made his charcters come to life! I felt by the end of each chapter that I knew the individuals of whom he wrote about! And that is so rare in today's authors.

To my amazement, Conger shares a wit and sense of humor that I was so in-tune with. I laughed and cried throughout the book. Loving every single chapter.

I am happy to give It's Probably Nothing by Beach Conger, MD...

...Five Stars! and... Thumbs Up Award!

***DISCLOSURE: This book was provided by Amazon Vine at no charge, in exchange of a fair and impartial review.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

I Was Wrong - Jim Bakker

I Was Wrong
Jim Bakker
Copyright 1996 Jim Bakker
Thomas Nelson Publishing
ISBN 0-7852-7136-8

When Bakker was accused and convicted, back in the day, I was one of a few who actually believed in him. Even though my parents lost thousands of dollars to his PTL program and Heritage USA, where they purchased life-long memberships, to this day they continue to support him.

So, when my parents offered to loan me this book, I was eager to read it. Before cracking it open, I continued to stand behind the man who admitted openly his mistakes.

However, after reading Bakker's "I Was Wrong", I am left with the feeling I used to get when my children [who are all in their late twenties and into their mid-thirties now] used to confess to doing something wrong when they were little, just to tag on at the end a little "...but...." to the confession.

Oh, yes, Bakker admits to his many mistakes, but has to add to each confessive moment a little "but" whereby he actually transfers the blame to another.

Admitting your guilt in my eyes will show me what kind of a man or woman you really are. But dragging someone else into the blame game.... well it only demeans you to me.

Accept your faults, confess your errors, and then move forward. Forgive those who have erred against you, and leave it all in the past.

Unfortunately, coming to terms with your guilt should not include making a fistful of money by dragging names through the mud with your own.

I give this book...

...One Star and... Thumbs Down Award.

Don't waste your money on purchasing this book should you feel compelled to read it. Borrow it from your library. I recommend that you not waste your time in reading it altogether.

****DISCLOSURE: This book was a personal loan and was not under obligation for review.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Christmas In Sugarcreek - by Shelley Shepard Gray

Christmas in Sugarcreek
Shelley Shepard Gray
an Avon Inspire Book
Oublished by HarperCollins books
Copyright 2011 by Shelley Shepard Gray
ISBN: 978-0-06-2089762

This is a wonderful faith-filled combination of stories taking place in the Amish community of Sugarcreek.

In this wonderful, quaint town we meet Rebecca, Judith and Lilly. Each young girl struggles with new-found responsibilities, as well as their faith, and a new love.

This is the first Amish love story I have read, although I understand they are quite the popular Christian book genre! Rest assured.... this will not be the last!

Rebecca finds a love with a young man running from his past. Judith with a young man that doesn't mind her impoverished state. And Lilly with an older man willing to go against his family, and his way of life, to embrace their life together.

All three find a love to last a lifetime! All in the Amish community of Sugarcreek.

Kind of makes me wish I could travel there to celebrate my own Christmas this year!

I give this book...

...Five Stars and... Thumbs Up Award!

I highly recommend this reading for youth, young adults and adults of all ages. Would make an excellent group study [and there's even group questions in the back!]

****DISCLOSURE: This book was provided as part of the Amazon Vine program in consideration for an independent review of the writer's work.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Elizabeth's Ultimate Sacrifice - Julie A. Bowles

Elizabeth's Ultimate Sacrifice
Julie A. Bowles
Coppyright 2004 Julie A. Bowles
Published by PublishAmerica, LLLP
ISBN: 1-4137-5065-6

This is the second book by Julie Bowles that I have been privileged to read this week! The first, Her Uncertain Future was reviewed here. And I was immediately enthralled with the young writer!

In Elizabeth's Ultimate Sacrifice we are shown a new character, Elizabeth, who is forced to become a responsible adult at way too young an age! Faced with the loss of both parents, and having to take on the responsibilities of raising her three younger siblings, even to the point of adopting the youngest, in order to keep them all together, Elizabeth must learn the hard way that sometimes being the one in charge comes with making sacrifices.

Through it all, Elizabeth relies upon her faith in God to carry her through. And He does!

Ultimately, in the end, Elizabeth is given all she could have ever dreamed for. And more! The lesson learned is simply this.... what an awesome God we serve! His eye is ever upon us, and He cares for our every need!

My only negative remark regarding this book is that I wish Ms. Bowles had used an editor. While not a true grammar efficionado, I was, at times, tempted to grab my red pen and do a little correcting! But, perhaps if I had, Elizabeth's true story would not have been the one I saw so clearly in this book!

I highly recommend Elizabeth's Ultimate Sacrifice for readers of all ages who enjoy a good romance! This is one that will make you smile, laugh, and maybe shed a tear or two!

I give this book...

...Five Stars and.... Thumbs Up Award!

****DISCLOSURE: This book was a private purchase and was not under obligation for review. [It helped that the author's husband is a co-worker and he sang the author's praises before I ever cracked the cover open!]