Monday, July 24, 2017

Fun, Refreshing take on Motherhood & Parenting {Hiding from my Kids in my Prayer Closet--Book Review}



If reading a book with a chapter titled : 'Children's Parties; Where Saturdays go to Die' causes you to say, "Amen, Sister!" you will truly enjoy this breath of fresh air written by Jessica Kastner. I've read many books on parenting and motherhood, and it's wonderful to read a Christian book that addresses day to day life with such transparency. Kastner blends humor, sarcasm, truth and tenderness in ways that can encourage moms and also spur them along to accept their individual gifts and personal parenting styles. 

Kastner does not shy away from sharing snippets from her own motherhood journey, which began as an unwed, single mom and continued with two surprise pregnancies after she was married. The author is never snarky or irreverent, but does a great job of putting a magnifying glass on the unimportant, and putting a flashlight onto the aspects of parenting that truly do matter. She ends her chapters by focusing on the relationship between a mother and Christ, and also the need to help our kids develop a heart that is going after God. I enjoyed this book quite a bit, and look forward to recommending it to friends.

*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.*

Hiding from the Kids in My Prayer Closet (David C Cook, July 2017)
Finding grace and laughter when motherhood gets real
Soon after Jessica Kastner became a mother, she wondered if she was the only mom who found pretend play more boring than watching playdough harden and who dreaded yet another friend’s Instagram post of homemade deliciousness.
In Hiding from My Kids in the Prayer Closet, Kastner shares her experience as an “unmom”—a mom who loves her kids more than she loves the daily experience of mothering. She helps readers laugh at the ridiculous, delight in the unpredictable, and enjoy being the mothers God made them to be.
Jessica KastnerJessica Kastner is an award-winning journalist and a contributor for the Christian Broadcasting Network’s CBN.com, Beliefnet.com, and the Huffington Post’s Christianity blog. As Connecticut’s coordinator for Straight Ahead Ministries, she shares God’s message of hope by leading Bible studies in juvenile detention centers. When she’s not on the trampoline with her three boys in Connecticut, Jessica shares her unapologetically “real” commentary on the Christian life at www.JessicaKastner.com.

His Guilt {Book Review}



His Guilt is the second novel in the Amish of Hart County series, but it definitely stands on its own as a suspenseful, well-developed, and independent work of fiction! The main characters in this second novel are Mark Fisher and Waneta Cain, who were not prominently featured in Her Secret. Author Shelly Shepard Gray shows her writing expertise by creating yet another Christian Amish Fiction series that  manages to tie the novels together and still allow them to stand alone.

I don't like to read reviews that give away the entire plot of a novel, nor am I willing to write them. As the key characters, Mark seeks a fresh start by returning to his childhood home. Wanetta has never left home and begins to see her world view expand as she starts to grasp the complexities that surround Mark's past, his present, and what it means to truly accept others. While the journey isn't easy, Wanetta truly 'puts her stake in the ground' as she stands up for what is right, stands against the false accusations from the past that still affect Mark, and puts into action what it means to be a true friend. In turn, Mark must learn to balance standing on his own yet accept friendship, kindness, and acceptance when it's offered. 

*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.*

His Guilt: The Amish of Hart County(Avon Inspire, July 2017)
A suspenseful tale of an Amish man who will risk all to protect the woman he loves
Mark Fisher has returned home to Hart County, determined to put the past behind him. Two years ago, after being wrongly accused of assault, he left the Amish community, though never forgot his home. When the one person who had helped him through his rough times asks for help, Mark returns. But it is pretty Waneta Cain who makes him want to stay…
Neeta is one of the few people in Hart County who doesn’t believe Mark is guilty of hurting anyone. However, his worldliness and tough exterior do make her uneasy. As she begins to see the real man behind all the gossip and prejudice, she wonders if he is the man for her.
Just when Mark starts to believe a new life is possible, a close friend of Neeta’s is attacked. Once again, everyone in the community seems to believe he is guilty. But what hurts most is Neeta’s sudden wariness around him. When another woman is hurt, a woman who is close to both Neeta and himself, Mark fears he knows the real culprit. And time is running out. Will Mark be able to find him before Neeta becomes his next victim?
Shelley Shepard GrayLearn more and purchase a copy.SH
ELLEY SHEPARD GRAY
Shelley Shepard Gray is a "New York Times" and "USA Today" bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town’s bike trail.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Israel-God's Heart {Book Review}



What a detailed glimpse into modern day Israel! This book weaves ancient history with today's busy lifestyles, not just through gorgeous photography, but also through fantastic paragraphs on each page. The book is simply exquisite! I have not been to Israel, but as a Christian I fully appreciated the details regarding the area and both past and present cultures. In addition to content, the book itself is a perfect size to purchase as an affordable gift or your own side table. 

*I received a complimentary copy, but was under no obligation to write a review.

Israel—God’s Heart: Landscapes and Legacy of Israel (Skypics Israel, November 2016)
**Click Here to see the Flip Book!**
Soar across the skies of beautiful Israel and visit contemporary and historic sites beckoning visitors to stay and explore.
The beauty of Israel from above is captured by top aerial photographer Ron Gafni.  As you sweep over ancient ruins, fly high in hot air balloons, and view vignette’s of Israel’s modern lifestyles, Holy scripture will also come alive. Author Kathleen Barrett offers reflective narrative with scripture pointing to God’s redemption plan for the world.

Ron Gafni works as a professional aerial photographer after spending more than a decade in Israel's High-Tech Industry. He brings his vast experience and personal perspective through the lens of a proud Israeli citizen. His work has been featured in "National Geographic," and his company, Skypics.co.il, provides books from its "Israel From Above" collection to the Israeli government, Army and Air force, as well as to large corporations in Israel. **||** Kathleen Barrett, a south Florida resident and former teacher is a student of the Word. She shares her thoughtful point of view in "Israel-God's Heart" from a personal, 40 year walk of Christian faith and study. In 2002, she authored a children's devotional. Before that and since then, she has published numerous articles from mission's outreach to local political events. Her more personal and reflective work has been featured in a number of collections.

Stepping on Cheerios~Book Review {Authentic Book for Moms}



Stepping on Cheerios: Finding God in the Chaos and Clutter of Life is an refreshingly authentic account of how motherhood can flip the most organized, detailed life into one that is lived not knowing what each day will hold. Author Betsy Singleton Snyder is pretty witty as she describes having her first child at 44 and triplets 3 years later. If anyone has earned the title "Boy Mom", it's her!

Snyder's Christian life became one of complete reliance on God as she faced a serious health issues after birthing her triplets. I appreciate how a person already in ministry can be vulnerable to sharing all that God revealed to her as she learned to rely less on herself and more on Him.

*I received a complimentary copy, but was under no obligation to write this review.

Stepping on Cheerios: Finding God in the Chaos and Clutter of Life(Abingdon Press, April 2017)
Family life is beautiful and motherhood is a privilege, but it ain’t no picnic!
Being a mother isn’t easy. Sometimes it’s hard to experience a personal connection with God and community when you are caught up in the chaos of just “doing family”.
Independent and self-sufficient, author Betsy Singleton Snyder lived a full and busy life as a pastor, missionary, and wife to a husband who served in the U.S. House of Representatives. She had her first child at age 44, then at 47, she found out she was carrying triplets. Suddenly finding herself overwhelmed is an understatement.
Stepping on Cheerios is a collection of funny, warm, and charming tales from the frontlines of parenthood, written for women who are juggling to accomplish everyday feats of work, motherhood, marriage, church, and more. It’s a comical story of one woman’s realization that her crazy life is a gift and how she found the grace in it.
Betsy Singleton Snyder, author of "Stepping on Cheerios," is a pastor, a former missionary to the arts community, writer, and blogger. She and her husband, Dr. Vic Snyder who formerly served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 14 years, live in Arkansas with their four sons, Penn (10), and triplets Wyatt, Sullivan, and Aubrey (8).

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 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.