Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Great Chattanooga Bicycle Race {Book Review}

I'll just come out and say it; I truly appreciate how this book was written by a man, as that in and of itself adds a neat component to the complexity of 'The Great Chattanooga Bicycle Race'. Author Mike Mizrahi has taken an element from our Nation's history--women riding bicycles--and wrapped within in it various layers that focus on equality. Trailblazers and dissenters collide when Anna Gaines takes up cycling in the 'sleepy' town of Chattanooga. While Anna has confidants in her Aunt Harriet, cousin Oscar, best friend Emma and boardinghouse owner Rose, the rest of the city (and even whispers of it reaching as far as New York) is either up in arms or undecided on how they feel about women taking up cycling. Anna's parents are at odds over their daughter's decision, and even Anna's romantic interest Grover Biggs rarely hides his distain over such brazen independence. 

The book doesn't just focus on women riding bicycles, but also touches upon the long hours women worked as seamstresses, and the stark reality of how the first and second generations of freed slaves lived and were treated through the poignant storyline of  Hattie and her family.

The final element of the novel adds a layer or mystery and intrigue to the storyline and helps weave the whole book together. Peter Sawyer is an upright citizen, president of the Cycling Club, and owner of the Dry Goods store. Grover Biggs is a rogue from Atlanta who appears to be in Chattanooga for all the wrong reasons and has a very shady past. Throw in the fact Grover is courting Anna, Peter is smitten with her, and Anna can't figure out which one is truly the "knight in shining armor", and you have the makings of a fantastic plot! Mizrahi does a great job of creating a novel that is full of detail without any of it becoming murky or confusing. I truly enjoyed this book and look forward to having my teen daughters read it as well. 

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher, but was under no obligation to write a review. My honest opinion has been provided without any requirement to write a positive review.*

The Great Chattanooga Bicycle Race (Redemption Press, April 2017)
Chattanooga society is turned upside down as a young woman has the audacity to ride a bicycle–in bloomers!
It’s 1895. Anna Gaines, 19, struggles to conquer her insecurities after a horrible fall years ago from her beloved horse, Longstreet. On a visit with her aunt in Brooklyn, she’s drawn to the new pastime of bicycling. But back at home, cycling is a scandalous sport for a proper lady. Southern women did not engage in activities meant for men.
Anna has her eye on Peter Sawyer, president of the Cycling Club. As community outrage grows, an unexpected turn of events pits Anna against Peter in a race between the sexes.
Will Anna prove that women deserve the same right as men to ride “the wheel?” Will she choose to live a quiet, traditional life of a housewife and mother? Or will she pursue college and become one of the “new women” emerging into the twentieth century on the seat of a bicycle? What will become of the spark between Anna and Peter?
Faith, patience, and courage help Anna to become the person she was meant to be.

Mike Mizrahi has a master’s degree in public relations, advertising, and applied communication from Boston University. After a career in corporate public affairs, he retired to pursue writing. After a mission trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo, he wrote his first novel, "Kabirizi’s Revenge," and is also the author of "The Unnamed Girl." Mike and his wife Karen live in Woodland Hills, Calif., where the couple raised their two adult children, and he enjoys readi

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Enjoyable Christian Mystery Novel {Driver Confessional}

Driver ConfessionalIt's very rare to find a 'Christian Mystery Novel' that puts the protagonist's faith front and center within a storyline, yet David Winters takes a bold stand and weaves it wonderfully throughout Driver Confessional. Antonio's Christian walk is part of his everyday life as a husband, father, law school student and ride-share driver. Although I enjoyed the fact that Antonio's life as a Christian is displayed in such a personal, natural way, I was very impressed that it did not deter from the suspense & mystery that falls into Antonio's lap due to one of his ride-share passengers and the briefcase she leaves in his car. Action, espionage, murder, shady politics, kidnapping, detective work, and run-ins with the Russian mob all take place. The novel is quick-paced and well-developed, and I am looking forward to the next book in the series.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher, but was under no obligation to write a review. My honest opinion has been provided without any requirement to write a positive review.*

Driver Confessional (May 2017)

Ride share driver Antonio cruises the streets of Washington, D.C. looking for his next fare. 
He has an unusual gift for relaxing his customers and stimulating their desire to reveal more than they planned. By the completion of their ride, many feel so comfortable that they confess their sins great and small. Antonio’s faith guides his discussions and points him in new directions. Suddenly, his peaceful world is turned upside down by a mysterious business woman. As she heads to a midnight rendezvous, she confesses more than Antonio can handle. Her story sends him into a world of espionage, international terrorism and danger.

Learn more and purchase a copy.
David Winters
David L Winters is an award-winning author, humorist and speaker, originally from Ohio, who lives in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. His first book, "Sabbatical of the Mind: The Journey from Anxiety to Peace," won several awards including a Silver Illumination Award from the Jenkins Group and two Finalist Medals from the Next Generation Indies Book Awards.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Great Book for Parents of Teens {The Joy of Letting Go}

While The Joy of Letting Go~Releasing your Teen into the Big World is promoted as a devotional, the pages flow so seamlessly you'll find it absolutley impossible to read only one excerpt at a time. I'm a mother of six, and my oldest three children are 16, 15, and almost 13. I've read many Christian parenting books over the years, and this book is truly one of THE BEST I have ever read. It's specific focus is on the importance of you--as a parent--understanding how critical it is for you to raise up your kids in a way that releases them to their own independence. This independence includes: having their own personal walk with Christ outside of your family routine, learning how to prioritize and time manage school work, independent problem-solving skills, and having the opportunity to fail and learn from their mistakes.

Author Vicki Caruana uses stories from her own life and examples from other lives as she explains the importance of truly releasing your kids to their own adulthood. She doesn't write in a 'preachy' way, but in a way that is extremely approachable and helpful. I highly recommend this book to any mom who has children in junior high, high school, or even college....and the earlier in your child's life you can read it the better.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher, but was under no obligation to write a review. My honest opinion has been provided without any requirement to write a positive review.*

The Joy of Letting Go: Releasing Your Teen into Real Life in the Big World (David C. Cook, April 2017)
With readings of encouragement and inspirational quotes, this devotional helps parents prepare their hearts for their children’s independence, whether their kids are just starting kindergarten or graduating from college.
Parents let go of their children every day, even in ways they don’t realize. The 52 devotional readings within shine a light on all the times readers have loosened their grip on their children and encourages them to continue to let go in life-giving ways. Written by a parenting and education expert, The Joy of Letting Go will comfort and inspire parents in all seasons of parenting.
Vicki Caruana
Dr. Vicki Caruana is the author of 20 books and the blog Apples & Chalkdust—named after her bestselling book that has touched the lives of a million educators around the world. Caruana is one of four parenting experts on "Starting Points," Focus on the Family’s parenting DVD series. Formerly a public school teacher and a homeschooling mom, Vicki is now an assistant professor of education at Mount Saint Mary College in New York. She lives with her station wagon loving husband, Chip, in Newburgh, New York and has two grown sons in Colorado Springs.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Welcome to College {Book Review}

Welcome to College is a very detailed and thought-provoking book specifically written for incoming college freshmen & focuses on their Christian walk. I personally think a student should begin reading it their senior year of high school (and possibly junior year), as it may help play a role in a student evaluating where they will go to college and their motivation for choosing a school. It's also a fairly thick book, so a student should take his or her time going through it, consider doing the discussion questions with other Christian friends, taking notes, and not see it to as a "quick read". If a student is willing to sit down and read it, he or she will find it to be an incredible resource in their new journey of being away from home and still following Christ.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher, but was under no obligation to write a review. My honest opinion has been provided without any requirement to write a positive review.*

Welcome to College: A Christ-Follower’s Guide for the Journey(Kregel, March 2017)
Is there a more frightening question for a graduating high school senior than “What will you do with your life?”
In college, whether they realize it or not, students will answer that question every day with each decision. All of the new friends and new experiences of higher education will shape their future. It’s critical that students know how to handle college before they’re in the thick of it.
Jonathan Morrow tackles the tough questions that arise during these formative years, including:
—How do you grow spiritually?
—How do you manage your time to both study well and have fun?
—Is all truth relative?
—Are there good reasons to be a Christian?
—As a Christian, how should you view issues like dating and sex?
Each chapter of this new edition has been updated, and the author has included a new chapter on Christianity, homosexuality, and the Bible. Grounded in both his own extensive experience and biblical truth, Morrow’s book is full of quick, easy-to-read chapters and excellent advice.

Jonathan MorrowJonathan Morrow (DMin, MDiv) is the author of several books including "Questioning the Bible" and he speaks nationally on biblical worldview, apologetics, and culture. He is adjunct professor of apologetics at Biola University and director of cultural engagement at Impact 360 Institute where he teaches high school and college students. Jonathan is passionate about seeing a new generation build a lasting faith.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Perfect Blend of Mystery & Amish Fiction {Book Review for Her Secret}

If you love mysteries and enjoy Amish fiction, you absolutely want to read Shelley Shepard Gray's latest novel! On the surface, Her Secret seems like a fairly "cut and dry" storyline; you (as the reader) assume you're smart enough to know the plot from start to finish, so you settle into your chair for some nice Christian Amish fiction. You will find yourself surprised, however, when many things are not as they seem! Her Secret holds rich layers of plot, excellent character development, and several twists and turns you will not see coming. The fact this novel is the first in a new series for Gray makes it even more wonderful! You most certainly want front row seats for this series, and will not regret your purchase.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher, but was under no obligation to write a review. My honest opinion has been provided without any requirement to write a positive review.*

Her Secret (Avon Inspire, March 2017)
A suspenseful tale of a young Amish woman who is forced to move to a new town to escape a threatening stalker
After a stalker went too far, Hannah Hilty and her family had no choice but to leave the bustling Amish community where she grew up. Now she’s getting a fresh start in Hart County, Kentucky…if only she wasn’t too scared to take it. Hannah has become afraid to trust anyone—even Isaac, the friendly Amish man who lives next door. She wonders if she’ll ever return to the trusting, easy-going woman she once was.
For Isaac Troyer, the beautiful girl he teasingly called “The Recluse” confuses him like no other. When he learns of her past, he knows he’s misjudged her. However, he also understands the importance of being grateful for God’s gifts, and wonders if they will ever have anything in common. But as Hannah and Isaac slowly grow closer, they realize that there’s always more to someone than meets the eye.
Just as Hannah is finally settling into her new life, and perhaps finding a new love, more secrets are revealed and tragedy strikes. Now Hannah must decide if she should run again or dare to fight for the future she has found in Hart County.
Shelley Shepard GrayShelley Shepard Gray is the "New York Times" and "USA Today" bestselling author of the Seasons of Sugarcreek series, the Sisters of the Heart series, and the Families of Honor series. She lives with her family in southern Ohio, where she writes full time. Before her work in the inspirational market, Gray wrote several novels as Shelley Galloway. During this time her books appeared on the Waldenbooks bestseller list, and she won "RT Book Reviews'" prestigious Reviewers' Choice Award.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

A+ Series from Start to Finish {Home at Last Book Review}

Spent 10 minutes trying to find my book & my daughter had it!
Home at Last is the final book in the Chicory Inn series, and it is a series I highly recommend. While Home at Last is a fantastic novel, I highly recommend you read the other books in the series before you read Home at Last. Each book in the series not only focuses on a specific Whitman child, but also creates depth, character development and interweaving storylines from one novel to the next.

If I had to describe Link Whitman's role within the other books, I would say he most definitely was a minor character (even his deceased brother Tim played a bigger role within the plots of the first four books). Within his minor role, he always came across as kind, loyal, and fun. In Home at Last, Link takes center stage & his personality truly shines through. He is also a 29 year old bachelor, feeling trapped in a "dead-end" job. His desires, struggles, and connections with his family create a very realistic and endearing protagonist!

Shayla is also single, and is busy working at her dad's bakery while also raising her niece. Their life has been a hard one in recent years, and the tough situations are compounded due to one thing; race. Shayla's father is African American, and Shayla and her niece Portia are biracial. The family lives in a predominantly white community. It's rare to see a Christian romance novel address current racial fears & tension, but Raney tackles in head-on and acknowledges how current events (such as Ferguson) have affected the country.

Link and Shayla do not remain separate characters in the novel, and interest in one another is revealed rather quickly. The novel does a great job of capturing the struggles of inter-racial dating, and analyzing if the struggles make it even worth pursuing a relationship. 

As the Chicory Inn series comes to an end, Raney does a good job of wrapping up the various storylines and providing a nice "riding off into the sunset" feeling in regards to the Whitman family. I was pleased with Home at Last as well as the Chicory Inn series, and would even read them all again.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher, but was under no obligation to write a review. My honest opinion has been provided without any requirement to write a positive review.*

Home at Last (Abingdon, February 2017)
Why did their differences matter so much?
Link Whitman has settled into the role of bachelor without ever intending to. Now he’s stuck in a dead-end job and, as the next Whitman wedding fast approaches, he is the last one standing. The pressure from his sisters’ efforts to play matchmaker is getting hard to bear as Link pulls extra shifts at work, and helps his parents at the Chicory Inn.
All her life, Shayla Michaels has felt as if she straddled two worlds. Her mother’s white family labeled her African American father with names Shayla didn’t repeat in polite–well, in any company. Her father’s family disapproved as well, though they eventually embraced Shayla as their own. After the death of her mother, and her brother Jerry’s incarceration, life has left Shayla’s father bitter, her niece, Portia, an orphan, and Shayla responsible for them all. She knows God loves them all, but why couldn’t people accept each other for what was on the inside? For their hearts?
Everything changes one icy morning when a child runs into the street and Link nearly hits her with his pickup. Soon he is falling in love with the little girl’s aunt, Shayla, the beautiful woman who runs Coffee’s On, the bakery in Langhorne. Can Shayla and Link overcome society’s view of their differences and find true love? Is there hope of changing the sometimes-ugly world around them into something better for them all?

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Tightropes & Teeter-Totters: Finding Balance in the Ups and Downs ofLife {Book Review}

Ever wonder how some Christian women seem to stay calm & steady regardless of the situation, and others sway in the wind? No matter where you fall within that spectrum, Pennington's book is a fantastic one for helping you seek or further establish balance in your life. Multitasking our roles as wives, moms, careers & managing a household can be overwhelming; finding ways to seek balance, embracing self-affirmation, identifying our weak areas, and relying in Christ are critical components to living the life God has planned for us. Tightropes and Teeter-Totters: Finding Balance in the Ups and Downs of Life is a great and authentic resource!

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher, but was under no obligation to write a review. My honest opinion has been provided without any requirement to write a positive review.*

Tightropes and Teeter-Totters: Finding Balance in the Ups and Downs of Life (David C. Cook, February 2017)
Do you wonder if you will ever find balance?
Lisa Pennington knows how to get up after losing her balance, even with a full house, a not-so-full bank account, and never enough energy. In her latest book, she offers readers:
—Strategies for finding balance in marriage, motherhood, and bad moods
—Playful yet biblically based tips for turning hard days around
—Inspiration for shaping obstacles into opportunities
—Ways to respond to irritations with gratitude
—Enthusiastic encouragement for living out God’s purpose.
For every woman who wonders if her satisfaction in life will ever match her dreams, Pennington has real-life answers full of hope and humor.
Lisa PenningtonLisa Pennington is a homeschooling mom of nine who shares her life—one laundry load at a time—on her blog, The Pennington Point. She is a sought-after speaker at conferences and women’s groups and is the author of "Mama Needs a Do-Over." Lisa and her family live near San Antonio.