Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Friendship Book

Product Description (taken from

This childhood keepsake book is made in the USA and designed for ages 6–12. Record and share the memories of childhood in a Good Ideas Friendship Book by Silke Jauck. Friendship Books inspire youngsters to gather, keep and write about the moments and relationships that mark their school year, summer camp, sporting team or other group activity. And, a Friendship Book is a safe alternative to online social networking sites.

Intimate and lively, the books boast wonderfully illustrated pages in warm colors and are presented in a variety of themes (Off to School, Pet Buddies and the recently-released Animals at Play). Prepared prompts—such as name, birthday, likes, dislikes, favorite color, favorite athletes and music—encourage children to share personal details and fun facts about themselves and their lives, and practice their reading and writing skills. Most kids adorn their pages with stickers, doodles and other artwork creating a kaleidoscope of color, emotion and memories.

But what really sets the book apart from a traditional diary is that a Friendship Book is meant to be shared. Once the book’s owner has filled in his (or her) personal information, he (or she) then passes it along to select friends, gathering their stories as well. And always, the Friendship Book is returned to the owner so he (or she) may then decide where and to whom it should go next. The end result is a year-book type memory keeper of up to 30 different friends’ thoughts, comments and impressions at a given time.

Ideal for birthdays, back-to-school, farewells and holidays, a Friendship Book is sure to become a valued and treasured keepsake that you and your child turn to time and again. Each Friendship Book is English/Spanish bilingual.


I think the Friendship Book is a really cute idea. My sons weren't too interested in it but I think it would appeal to a lot of girls in their age group. I asked a few of my friends' daughters what they thought of it and they thought it was a great idea. They thought it would be fun to get all of their friends to fell it out and they liked that there were so many different questions for their friends to answer.

The Friendship Book is very pretty with lovely graphics and a very nice design. It would make a nice gift for most young girls in my opinion.

*I was sent a copy of this book to review*

Monday, December 20, 2010

Gift Idea: Show Me the Honey

About this Book

Where does honey come from? The Cat in the Hat knows that! It comes from bees, and what better way to learn about honey making than to visit inside a hive and see firsthand how it’s done? In this rhymed easy reader based on an episode from the new PBS Kids television show The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!, the Cat, Sally and Nick, and Things One and Two shrink to bee size and learn how bees communicate via dance, collect nectar and spit it into combs, turn it into honey, and seal the combs with wax.

This is a sweet, funny Step into Reading book that kids will gobble up (without realizing they are ingesting an important natural-history lesson!).

Tish Rabe is the author of eleven Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library books (as well as many others).

Christopher Moroney has illustrated countless books for children.


We love The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That TV show so my kids were happy to read Show Me the Honey. It is about the perfect reading level for my sons (Aiden age 8 and Owen age 7). Both were able to read it on their own. The illustrations are bright and colourful and fun. I read the story out loud and it held all three kids' attention. I appreciate that it is entertaining AND educational.

This would make a fun little gift for any grade 1-3 kid. It would also be good for classrooms and libraries of course.

Thanks so much to Random House Canada for sending me a copy of this book to review.

Gift Idea: Ice Is Nice

We adore the Cat in the Hat and books always make a great gift for kids!

About this Book

What purrrfect timing! Fall 2010 marks the launch of the new PBS Kids television show The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!—an animated preschool science program based on the Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library book series—and to celebrate, we’re coating the cover of our new Learning Library book Ice Is Nice! with a shimmery finish! In this latest installment of the bestselling series, the Cat in the Hat takes Sally and Dick to visit the North and South Poles, where they mingle with native animals—reindeer, musk oxen, polar bears, caribou, and all sorts of penguins. They discover how the animals stay warm in the freezing cold, learn why it’s colder at the South Pole than at the North Pole, find out that one pole is located on land and the other isn’t, and learn that scientists are studying climate change to keep both poles icy cold.

This is the perfect book to curl up with on a cold winter’s day—made even more perfect with a glistening cover!

Bonnie Worth is the author of countless books for young readers, among them the Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library books If I Ran the Rain Forest, A Great Day for Pup, Oh Say Can You Seed? (winner of the 2003 Ohio Farm Bureau Award for Children’s Literature), There’s No Place Like Space!, Wish for a Fish, Oh Say Can You Say Di-no-saur?, and Would You Rather Be a Pollywog?


My kids love The Cat in the Hat Knows a lot About That TV show and so they were very excited to see it in book form! Ice is Nice is a fun book that is entertaining and enjoyable to read. The best part of this book though is how educational it is. Ice is Nice teaches kids a ton about the North and South Poles in a fun, kid-friendly way. Owen (my 7 year old son) had no problem reading this book on his own. I read it to all three kids ( 4, 7, 8) and they all enjoyed it. Olivia really liked the pictures and the rhyming.

This book would make a great gift or stocking stuffer for any kid out there. It would also make an excellent addition to classrooms and school libraries.

Thanks so much to Random House Canada for sending me a copy of this book to review.

The Giving Jar

Nourish your soul with the first in Doodle Dots Heirloom Collection.
Designed to be treasured and passed on for generations to come
There are moments in life when a seemingly small act of kindness can teach unforgettable lessons. A memorable summer spent at his Grandma’s farmhouse is such a time for 11-year-old Billy. Join Billy on his incredible journey where he discovers the magic of giving, the healing power of love, and that angels can reveal themselves in the most unlikely of places.
- information taken from the website
Krissy Smith is a mother of 5 and created this book for her family to teach them the importance of giving.

So what did I think of the book?

The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous. Each picture is a work of art and enhances the story beautifully. The story itself is very nice. The main message of the story is the importance of unselfish giving and that is communicated very well.

I tried to read the story to my children (ages 7, 6, and 2) but it was a little long to hold their attention. They did enjoy the pictures though. I suspect older children would enjoy the story more.

Here is the book trailer:

Thanks so much to Krissy Smith and The Moms Review for providing me with this book to review!

Going Bovine by Libba Bray

About this Book 

Can Cameron find what he’s looking for?

All 16-year-old Cameron wants is to get through high school—and life in general—with a minimum of effort. It’s not a lot to ask. But that’s before he’s given some bad news: he’s sick and he’s going to die. Which totally sucks. Hope arrives in the winged form of Dulcie, a loopy punk angel/possible hallucination with a bad sugar habit. She tells Cam there is a cure—if he’s willing to go in search of it. With the help of a death-obsessed, video-gaming dwarf and a yard gnome, Cam sets off on the mother of all road trips through a twisted America into the heart of what matters most.


Going Bovine is an odd, but entertaining book. I loved the humour and the main characters. I thought the plot line was engaging and it certainly kept my interest. I did not love some of the things the main characters did and I positively hated the ending.  So it was certainly a mixed bag for me. I am not sure it would be an appropriate book for younger teens because of some of the content... but older teens would probably get a kick out of it. The highlight for me was the humour, it really was funny.

Thanks so much to Random House Canada for sending me a review copy of this book.

Gift Idea: The Complete Photographer

Do you have a photog in your life? This might be the perfect gift for him/her!

Taking the successful thematic approach of How to Photograph Absolutely Everything and combining it with the practical tools and genre tutorials of Digital Photography Masterclass, The Complete Photographer encourages photographers to explore every discipline and experiment with different approaches, to hone their skills, and find their own personal style. Unlike other books, which tend to cover the principles of photography in a general way, The Complete Photographer is based around tutorials on ten different genres-Portraits, Landscape and Nature, Fashion, Wildlife, Sport, Documentary, Events, Travel, Architecture, and Fine Art-and shows in step-by-step detail how an idea progresses from concept stage to final image.

Guest Review by my husband Doug (our resident photographer)

This book is big.  Almost 400 pages of material.  Tom Ang writes about photography at a different level.  Many books I’ve read that are instructional in nature spend time talking about photography basics.  Aperture, shutter speeds, how to focus, equipment, all of this takes a back seat.  In this book he talks about subjects.  How to capture moments.  How to direct models. Where to find inspiration.  

Fashion and nude
Wildlife and Nature
Event and milestone
Fine Art

In each section there is a discussion of the genre and some considerations for it.  He includes an interview and a behind the scenes view of a shoot in that genre with several established photographers in that style.  There are tutorial pieces throughout the book that challenge you to stretch beyond what you might normally do if tackling that style.  

There are also “image analysis” breakdowns of photos that discuss why things in the example photo were done the way there were.  Identifying different elements and what the purpose of those elements are.

I enjoyed this book, or rather I am enjoying this book, it’s got so much stuff in it that I am working my way through this book and going back as I tackle different projects and photos that I come across.  It has become a resource for me.  I particularly enjoyed the step by step behind the scenes way that show how established photographers tackled various photos.  The interviews look at motivations behind photos and photography in general.  I found these to be a great way to get my mind thinking more about images and my approach to photography.    

Highly recommended for the photographer who is looking for a book about more then just f-stops and how to use a camera.

Thanks so much to DK Canada for sending me a copy of this book to review. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Gift Idea: Angel Song

This book would make a fabulous gift for any Christian Fiction lover...

 Angel Song

Angels eagerly watch over Ann Fletcher's every move. She just doesn't know it yet. 

Ann Fletcher has returned to Charleston to see her younger sister Sarah receive her master's degree. But she soon finds herself riding in the back of an ambulance, watching helplessly as Sarah fights for her life. As they race to the hospital, Sarah talks to someone who is not there...and hums a melody Ann has never heard before.

That unfamiliar, unearthly beautiful melody keeps finding Ann--first in the hospital chapel, then in her dreams, and finally in Sarah's empty house.

Two neighbors have a profound effect on Ann. Ethan McKinney lends her a shoulder to lean on. And as a carpenter, he volunteers to help Ann get the Fletcher family home into shape for selling. His strong presence is a pleasing distraction. Ann's twelve-year-old neighbor, Keith, has Down Syndrome and the guile to believe he can actually see and hear angels. In fact, he insists they are looking out for her in ways she's never imagined.

God begins to reveal himself to Ann--both in her newfound friends and through supernatural events. As she discovers the very real presence of angels around her, will she finally open her heart to receive God's healing love?



I thought this was a beautiful story. Angel Song is incredibly poignant and I found myself completely drawn into the story right from the beginning. The main character was very easy to relate to and the supporting characters were just perfect. I thought the authors did an amazing job of showing the lengths God will go to when He is wooing someone to Himself. I loved the honesty of the main character and watching her struggle with God and those around her. This is in no way a cheesy Christian romance novel.  I didn't want the story to end.I hope that there will be a whole series of books to follow this one!

Thanks so much to Thomas Nelson for sending me a review copy of this book.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Amazing Cows by Sandra Boynton * GIVEAWAY!! * CLOSED

This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Michele Bornert for winning.

About Amazing Cows

From Sandra Boynton—as it could only come from Boynton—an inventive new exuberant jumble of a book for the young reader. Amazing Cows is a picture book, a storybook, a book of fun and games—it’s all those things in one. Plus it even shows you how to find the startling recording of Maurice Ravel’s “Bolero Completely Unraveled for Orchestra and Kazoos” performed by Sandra Boyton & The Highly Irritating Orchestra. (Running time is 17:14, but seems MUCH longer.)

A work of pure obsession, Amazing Cows celebrates cows and offbeat cowness with a miscellany of cow stories, cow poems, cow jokes, and other bovine ephemera. Along the way, expect lively guest appearances by ducks, pigs, and excessive numbers of chickens. There’s a song: "It Had to Be Moo." A game: "Find the Hidden Cows." Famous Barnyard Composers (surely you’ve heard of Wolfgang Amadeus Moozart and Johann Sebastian Bockbockbock). Knock-knock jokes, a cow myth, and an Amazing Cow comic-book adventure: "Trouble on Zebblor 7." Cow fashion. Cow Limericks. How to Speak Cow. Plus so much mooer.

Amazing Cows is full-color, 96 pages long, and packed with the kind of silly fun that young readers adore, especially when they can read it to themselves—and then read it to their parents, and then to their little brothers, and then to the family dog. Or the family cow.

Cows Intro


We love this book! Amazing Cows is hilarious. I have been a fan of Sandra Boynton's books for years- I think we got our first one when Aiden was just a baby. This book is just plain fun. It is clever and entertaining, with bright and colourful illustrations. My sons both love Amazing Cows. Owen was thrilled to find some cow jokes to tell everyone. Both Aiden and Owen were able to read the book on their own with very little parental intervention. Olivia loved the illustrations and enjoyed listening to the stories.

Amazing Cows would make a great gift for any kid this Christmas!

Thanks so much to Workman Publishing for sending me a copy of this book to review and sponsoring this giveaway.


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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Gift Idea: What Good is God? by Philip Yancey

What Good Is God?
by Philip Yancey

Journalist and spiritual seeker Philip Yancey has always struggled with the most basic questions of the Christian faith. The question he tackles in WHAT GOOD IS GOD? concerns the practical value of belief in God. His search for the answer to this question took him to some amazing settings around the world: Mumbai, India when the firing started during the terrorist attacks; at the motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated; on the Virginia Tech campus soon after the massacre; an AA convention; and even to a conference for women in prostitution.

Philip Yancey, a journalist by profession, is a bestselling writer and speaker. He is known for his honest, thoughtful explorations of Christian faith, particularly in areas of questions, struggles, and mystery. His devoted readers have bonded with him on his own journeys through doubt and faith, and they count on him as a trusted companion in the search for a faith that matters amid the world's deepest problems as well as its shining joys. Visit Philip online on his website or facebook page.  

Guest Review by my Mom :)

Philip Yancey's book What Good is God? is one of the most encouraging books I have ever read. He looks at the most horrendous happenings in our world today, and then relates how God has worked in and through these devastations, how lives have been changed and healed, and how Christianity has grown in spite of everything. I was touched to see how God never leaves us or forsakes us no matter how bad our situation is. I was impressed by the fact that no matter how evil our world becomes, God's plan nevertheless moves forward. As always Philip Yancey reaches the heart.

Thanks so much to Hachette Book Group for sending me a review copy of this book. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Gift Idea: Room by Emma Donoghue

A Novel by Emma Donoghue

To five-year-old-Jack, Room is the world....

It's where he was born, it's where he and his Ma eat and sleep and play and learn.  There are endless wonders that let loose Jack's imagination-the snake under Bed that he constructs out of eggshells, the imaginary world projected through the TV, the coziness of Wardrobe beneath Ma's clothes, where she tucks him in safely at night, in case Old Nick comes.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it's the prison where she's been held since she was nineteen-for seven long years.  Through her fierce love for her son, she has created a life for him in that eleven-by-eleven-foot space. But Jack's curiosity is building alongside her own desperation—and she knows that Room cannot contain either indefinitely....

Told in the inventive, funny, and poignant voice of Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience-and a powerful story of a mother and son whose love lets them survive the impossible.

About the Author

Born in Dublin in 1969, Emma Donoghue is a writer of contemporary and historical fiction whose novels include the bestselling Slammerkin, The Sealed Letter, Landing, Life Mask, Hood, and Stirfry. Her story collections are The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits, Kissing the Witch, and Touchy Subjects. She also writes literary history, and plays for stage and radio. She lives in London, Ontario, with her partner and their two small children. For more information, go to


This is the most incredible book I've read in ages. I was 100% engaged from the very first sentence. I seriously doubt I can convey just how moved I was by Room. It is a story unlike any I have ever read before. Emma Donoghue did an incredible job drawing me right in to the world of Jack. I loved that the story was written from Jack's perspective. The story really is so very tragic but it is filled with beautiful moments and humour. It sounds so cheesy but I really did laugh and I really did cry... several times... while reading Room. I couldn't put it down.

In case you can't tell by now I REALLY loved this book and I think you all should immediately go out and purchase a copy for yourself and several copies to give away as Christmas gifts to everyone you know. Really.

Thanks so much to Hachette Book Group for sending me a copy of this book to review.

Faith's Reward

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Whitaker House (January 4, 2011)
***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling of Whitaker House for sending me a review copy.***


Tammy Barley’s roots run deep and wide across the United States. With Cherokee heritage and such ancestors as James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry David Thoreau, she inherited her literary vocation and her preferred setting: the American Wild West. Besides her recent three-book Sierra Chronicles for Whitaker House, she’s published two series of devotionals for the Lutheran Women’s Missionary Society. A homeschooling mother to three teens, Tammy’s speaking engagements often become living history lessons with the Barleys dressed in Civil War-era attire, demonstrating 19th century needlework and leather crafts. Barley is a professional editor, ghostwriter, and frequent contributor to fiction publications. She’s developed a strong fan base among lovers of the Christian western genre not only through her books, but also through her Lassos -N- Lace Newsletter and blog.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $9.99
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House (January 4, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1603741100
ISBN-13: 978-1603741101


January 1865

Honey Lake Valley, Northern California


Jessica Bennett jolted upright in bed, her hand trembling as it searched the cold sheets in the darkness beside her. Her fingers brushed Jake’s equally cold pillow, then the soft fur of the cat that huddled on it, the only trace of warmth in the place where her husband had gone to sleep beside her. “Jake?”

Wind rattled the windowpane with nearly enough force to crack it. The wintry cold had seeped through the glass and turned the bedroom to ice. Jess hugged her flannel nightgown firmly to her and sat still and alert, straining to hear over the storm for any indication of movement in the house, either upstairs or down. She heard no thud of boot heels on the plank floor, no jingle of spurs to suggest any presence inside the house but hers.

Judging by the thick darkness, dawn was still hours away. Though she and Jake had worked until sometime after midnight, until they were both exhausted, he must have rested in bed until she had fallen asleep, but no longer than that. Once he had been certain she and the baby within her were at rest, he must have gone back to work and joined the next shift of cattlemen who fought to keep their horses and cattle alive, digging them out of the snow and providing hay to stimulate their bodies’ heat.

The misty darkness abruptly grew darker, closing in around her.

Then, blackness.

An image flashed through her mind—she stood in boot-deep snow under a gray sky, a Henry rifle gripped in her hands. At her sides stood two of the cattlemen. More than a dozen Paiute Indian men stepped forward to stand alongside them. She recognized one Paiute who worked at the ranch. The others were strangers. Their faces revealed fear, and resolve. In front of her, perhaps five paces away, stood thirty or more renegade white men who, as one, reached their hands to their holsters, drew their guns, then took aim at Jess and the Indians. Jess cocked the Henry rifle, pressed the butt to her shoulder, and sighted down the barrel at the cold, glittering blue eyes of the man who aimed the bore of his revolver at her. Though fear burned like liquid fire beneath her skin, she firmed her grip, shifted her index finger from the rifle’s trigger guard to the curve of the metal trigger. And pulled.

An explosion rocked Jess, tearing her back to the present. Shaken, she waited for the effects of the premonition to ebb, and focused on palpable images as they came to her: Her pulse, pounding like rapid drumbeats just beneath her ears. Her breath, passing though her parted lips in deep gasps, drying her throat. She swallowed. A chill permeated her flannel nightgown. The scent of forest that clung to the pine log walls filled the bedroom. The storm…. A second explosion!—No, not an explosion. It was the windowpane, pounded by the wind. Something trickled down her temples, rolled onto her cheeks. Startled, she swiped at it with her fingers. Dampness. Sweat. Nothing more. Sweat misted her forehead as well. She dried it with her sleeve and forced her breathing to calm.

Jess felt beside her, then remembered. Jake was gone. He hadn’t gone to sleep the night before.

In one movement, she flung the covers aside and reached toward the end of the bed for the union suit she had purchased two months before, shortly after she’d realized she was expecting a child. Leaving her flannel nightgown and stockings on, she stuffed her feet into the woolen legs of the union suit then stood and buttoned it up to her neck, using her thumbs and fingertips to feel the buttonholes and shove the buttons through. Jess hurried to the pegs on the wall near the window and felt for one of Jake’s flannel shirts. Her hand brushed one, then a pair of his trousers. Frustrated with not being able to see, she grabbed both garments and flung them onto the bed then rounded it to Jake’s side, where she felt along the surface of the tall chest of drawers until her hands connected with the oil lantern they kept there and finally the matchbox. After three strikes, a flame flared to life, and she lit the lantern then replaced the chimney with a glass-on-metal clink.

Winter buffeted the window once again. Jess ignored it. Moments later, dressed and belted, she slid her feet into her cowboy boots, then stuffed the extra fourteen or fifteen inches of Jake’s pant legs into the boot tops. Just as rapidly, she plaited her hip-length brown hair and secured the bottom with a leather thong.

She grabbed up the lantern, threw open the bedroom door—the place where she first saw her tall, handsome Jake standing when she was brought to the ranch, she recalled with a sudden lightness in her heart—then hurried out onto the landing and down the stairs, her boots and the steps gilded by a wide ring of golden lantern light.

The fire in the hearth had burned down and gave off little heat. Jess set the lantern on the mantel and pulled her weighty sheepskin coat from its peg near the front door, then tugged it on, followed by her woolen hat, scarf, and gloves.

The premonition had shaken her more than the other few she’d experienced before it, but what truly unnerved her was the certainty that had woken her—something had happened to Jake.

Jess lifted the iron latch that served as a door handle. The front door blew in and struck her in the chest. Resisting the wind, she held tightly to the door as she stepped out onto the covered porch and pulled the door closed, straining against the force of the gales.

On the porch she huddled deeper into her coat, thankful it hung to her knees. Squinting against the wind, she scanned the ranch yard and glimpsed dots of orange that flickered ahead of her and to both sides, lit torches that were barely visible through the snowflakes being driven through the night and against her cheeks and chin. Most of the torches appeared to congregate near the smithy, ahead of her and to the left.

Jess descended the two porch steps and moved toward the smithy, leaning into the wind. Her nostrils stuck closed, and she was forced to breathe through her mouth. If Jake had walked in this direction and broken a path through the drifts, she was unable to distinguish his tracks in the blackness. Already her toes and fingers tingled in sharp pain as if rubbed by frost.

One of the orange torches blew out. A moment later, another torch relit it. The man who held the relit torch shifted the flame away from the others, toward the ground. Its fire burst to nearly thrice its size, then gradually settled back to its original mass. The men must be using kerosene to keep them lit. On the wind, the faint smell of smoke drifted to her.

She pushed on and lifted one booted foot after the other over the snow as she forced her straining muscles to move as quickly as she could make them go, feeling oddly off-balance due to her inability to see.

A torch broke away from the others and wended its way in her direction, no doubt carried by someone bringing hay for animals to eat so they could produce their own warmth. She and Jake had done the same, beginning late the previous afternoon, when the storm had given its first whispers of the violence to come, and continuing until midnight, scattering hay about the ranch’s main compound. But now the snows made foraging impossible. The men who gathered near the smithy must have found another way to protect the animals.

The light of the single torch grew brighter and nearer, and she altered her path to move toward it. Orange light revealed Taggart’s surprised round face as his eyes met hers, his hairy eyebrows, mustache, and beard frozen white with ice and snow.

Jess leaned close to his ear and shouted over the storm. “Have you seen Jake?”

“He’s tendin’ the fireplaces in the buildings!” he yelled back and jerked a wool-clad thumb over his beefy shoulder. His fingers held a coiled lasso. “He told the men to string a rope corral from the smithy to the cookhouse to the bunkhouse, and back to the smithy. We’re searchin’ for the beasts and bringin’ them over, hopin’ the heat from the buildings will keep the critters from freezing.”

“By ‘beasts’ do you mean the horses?”

Taggart shifted the torch, apparently in mild impatience to be under way. “No, the cattle.”

Jess’s eyes searched the darkness and found a distant square of light emanating from the cookhouse window. Jake must be warm near the fires, or at least he remained so while inside, between jaunts from one building to the next in the deathly cold. Still, she couldn’t throw off the conviction that something was horribly wrong. “What about the horses? Without them, we’ll lose the ranch!”

“Jess, there’s no time for explainin’, though the boss knows about the horses,” he assured her above the scream of the wind. “He ordered us to wrangle the horses to the barn and stable.”

Jess nodded and held a glove over her nose, wishing she had a way to warm her face.

“Ye should be sleepin’,” Taggart chastised her, “but since ye’re here, we need ye.” He took her arm and turned her to face the outskirts of the ranch. “We’re able to drive the horses—a couple of the boys are on horseback doin’ just that—but the cows are the problem. They turned their backsides to the wind and lowered their heads to stay warm, but the snow is coverin’ them, and their breath and body heat have turned the snow into a casing of ice around them. They’re suffocatin’. Come on!”

Within her, Jess’s stomach sank in dread. She kept up with Taggart, step for step. They wended their way east past the ranch house and toward the Paiute village in the same manner he had approached her, occasionally changing direction from left to right as they continued forward, searching for cattle trapped in ice.

“Ye see? There!” Taggart held out the torch and headed toward a large mound half buried in a drift. The beast moaned, a pathetic plea that was nearly swallowed by the howl of the storm.

Jess thought the cow was merely covered in snow, but as she neared and touched its side, her glove stuck to ice.

Taggart kicked low to break the ice, again, then again, until it gave way with a dull crunch. The cow, with its first full breath, gave a loud bawl.

Desperate to help, Jess rounded the animal and kicked from the other side. Her toes stung unbearably with each blow, so she turned her boot and kicked with her heel. The frozen casing gave way.

Taggart secured the lasso around the cow’s neck and rapidly pushed off the rest of the snow. “Can ye take her to the rope corral, Jess, then come find me again? With two of us working together, one can break the cows free and the other can lead them to the buildings.”

Immediately, Jess took the end of the lasso from him. “If you wander too far, I won’t be able to see your torch.”

“Ye will. The wind’s still a fury, but the snows are dyin’ down. See?”

Jess realized he was right, though she was still forced to squint. Thank You, God, that the snows are dying. “I’ll hurry back.”

She had to pull to encourage the cow to move, and had to keep pulling against its wont to stop and hunker down. At the rope corral, she exchanged brief nods with the ranchmen there, then lifted the looped end of a rope from an iron post to lead the cow through to join the others. Jake’s idea was working. The cow nosed its way into the warm press of livestock and lowered its head to eat from one of the bales of hay. Though she paused to scan the open spaces between the buildings for Jake, she didn’t see him.

For the next several hours until sunrise, Jess helped the men rescue cows mired belly-deep in the snow, pausing only to gulp hot coffee kept in constant supply by the ranch cook and her longtime friend, Ho Chen.

Gradually, the snow had slowed until it resembled falling dust, but it wasn’t until dawn, while she led yet another cow into the corral, that she finally saw Jake. He was making his way toward the ranch house, hunched over, coughing uncontrollably, and was supported by two of the cattlemen, Seth and Lee.

The last of Jess’s strength bled from her. Jake had passed between extreme heat and cold, into hot buildings and out into the frigid storm, all night. She knew what such extremes did to miners who descended shafts to work in the hot steam more than two thousand feet beneath the surface of the Comstock, then later emerged up into arctic gales. Countless numbers of the miners died. From pneumonia.

“Lord Almighty,” she breathed, and ran toward the house. Never again, she promised God, never again will I doubt the instincts You gave me, if only You will let Jake live.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Emily of Deep Valley

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Emily of Deep Valley
Harper Perennial Modern Classics; Reprint edition (October 12, 2010)
Mitali Perkins


A word from Mitali: Who In The World Is Mitali Perkins?

That's a good question. I've been trying to figure it out myself, spending most of my life crossing borders.

I was born Mitali Bose in Kolkata (Calcutta), India, and always tried to live up to my name—which means “friendly” in the Bangla language. I had to! Because my family moved so much, it was the only way I could make new friends.

By the time I was 11, I'd lived in Ghana, Cameroon, London, New York and Mexico before settling in California just in time for middle school. Yep, I was the new kid again, in seventh grade, the year everybody barely makes it through.

My biggest lifeline during those early years was story. Books were my rock, my stability, my safe place as I navigated the border between California suburbia and the Bengali culture of my traditional home.

After studying political science at Stanford and public policy at U.C. Berkeley, I taught in middle school, high school and college. When I began to write fiction, my protagonists were often—not surprisingly—strong female characters trying to bridge different cultures.

Mitali Perkins is the author of several books for young people, including SECRET KEEPER (Random House), MONSOON SUMMER (Random House), RICKSHAW GIRL (Charlesbridge), and the FIRST DAUGHTER books (Dutton).


Often cited as Maud Hart Lovelace’s (of Betsy-Tacy fame) best novel, Emily of Deep Valley is now back in print, with a new foreword by acclaimed young adult author Mitali Perkins and new archival material about the characters’ real lives.

Emily Webster, an orphan living with her grandfather, is not like the other girls her age in Deep Valley, Minnesota. The gulf between Emily and her classmates widens even more when they graduate from Deep Valley High School in 1912. Emily longs to go off to college with everyone else, but she can’t leave her grandfather. Emily resigns herself to facing a “lost winter,” but soon decides to stop feeling sorry for herself. And with a new program of study, a growing interest in the Syrian community, and a handsome new teacher at the high school to fill her days, Emily gains more than she ever dreamed...

In addition to her beloved Betsy-Tacy books, Maud Hart Lovelace wrote three more stories set in the fictional town of Deep Valley: Winona’s Pony Cart, Carney’s House Party and Emily of Deep Valley. Longtime fans and new readers alike will be delighted to find the Deep Valley books available again for the first time in many years.

If you would like to browse inside Emily of Deep Valley, go HERE.

Pause for Power

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

David C. Cook; 2 edition (November 1, 2010)
***Special thanks to Karen Davis, Assistant Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe is an internationally known Bible teacher and the former pastor of The Moody Church in Chicago. For ten years he was associated with the “Back to the Bible” radio broadcast, first as Bible teacher and then as general director. Dr. Wiersbe has written more than 160 books. He and his wife, Betty, live in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Product Details:

List Price: $16.99
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; 2 edition (November 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 078140374X
ISBN-13: 978-0781403740


A Year in the Word

In the pages that follow, you’ll hear Isaiah’s invitation to wayward hearts, wrestle with Job’s dilemma, examine what Hebrews says about the breathtaking work of Christ, and listen in as Paul writes letters to infant churches. Such a task might seem daunting at first, but with the help of Pause for Power, it will take you only a few minutes a day. And here’s the best part: Over the course of a year, you’ll have read fifteen books of the Bible.

The devotions are undated, so you can start any day of the year. They’re also blended, so you can enjoy a variety of biblical voices and themes each week. One day you might contemplate Paul’s letter to the Philippians, and the next you might consider a wise saying from Ecclesiastes.

To get started, simply turn to Day 1, read the associated Bible passage in your favorite translation, spend time with the devotion, then ponder the question of the day. Repeat daily. In twelve months you’ll have studied Job, Ecclesiastes, Isaiah, Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, and 1 John. But more importantly, you’ll have gained insight into God’s Word—insight that will bring you closer to the Author Himself.

Day 1

Consistent Actions

Read Romans 2:1—3:20

To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.

Romans 2:7–8

God had given Israel great material and spiritual riches: a wonderful land, a righteous law, a temple and priesthood, God’s providential care, and many more blessings. God had patiently endured Israel’s many sins and rebellions, and had even sent them His Son to be their Messiah. Even after Israel crucified Christ, God gave the nation nearly forty more years of grace and withheld His judgment. It is not the judgment of God that leads people to repentance, but the goodness of God; but Israel did not repent.

In Romans 2:6–11, Paul was explaining a basic principle of God’s judgment: God judges according to deeds, just as He judges according to truth. Paul was dealing here with the consistent actions of people’s lives, the total impact of their character and conduct.

True saving faith results in obedience and godly living, even though there may be occasional falls. When God measured the deeds of the Jews, He found them to be as wicked as those of the Gentiles.

Something to Ponder

Is it possible for people to grow to have consistently good (not perfect) character and conduct? If so, how? How does this fit with Paul’s claim that no one is righteous apart from Christ’s sacrifice (Rom. 3:9–10)?

Day 2

Devoted to Devotions

Read Colossians 4:2

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

Colossians 4:2

It has well been said that the purpose of prayer is not to get our will done in heaven, but to get God’s will done on earth. Prayer is not telling God what to do or what to give. Prayer is asking God for that which He wants to do and give, according to His will (1 John 5:14–15). As we read the Word and fellowship with our Father, we discover His will and then boldly ask Him to do what He has planned. Richard Trench (1807–1886), archbishop of Dublin, said it perfectly: “Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance; it is laying hold of His willingness.”

Of course, it is possible to pray in our hearts and never use the gift of speech (1 Sam. 1:13), but we are using words even if we don’t say them audibly. True prayer must first come from the heart, whether the words are spoken or not.

Something to Ponder

As you pray, in what ways are you “watchful”? In what ways are you “thankful”?

Day 3

The Mark of Maturity

Read Philippians 1:6–10

This is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ.

Philippians 1:9–10

Paul found joy in his memories of the friends at Philippi and in his growing love for them. He also found joy in remembering them before the throne of grace in prayer.

This is a prayer for maturity, and Paul began it with love. He prayed that they might experience abounding love and discerning love. Christian love is not blind! The heart and mind work together so that we have discerning love and loving discernment.

The ability to distinguish is a mark of maturity. When a baby learns to speak, he or she may call every four-legged animal a “bowwow.” But then the child discovers that there are cats, mice, cows, and other four-legged creatures.

One of the sure marks of maturity is discerning love and loving discernment.

Something to Ponder

With daily decisions, do you tend to seek what is good, or do you try to discern what is truly best?

Day 4

Avoiding Oblivion

Read 1 John 2:17

The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

1 John 2:17

Every great nation in history has become decadent and has finally been conquered by another nation. Some nineteen world civilizations have slipped into oblivion. There is no reason why we should think that our present civilization will endure forever. “Change and decay in all around I see,” wrote Henry F. Lyte (1793–1847), and if our civilization is not eroded by change and decay, it will certainly be swept away and replaced by a new order of things at the coming of Christ.

Slowly but inevitably, and perhaps sooner than even we Christians think, the world is passing away, but those who do God’s will abide forever. Long after this world system—with its vaunted culture, its proud philosophies, its egocentric intellectualism, and its godless materialism—has been forgotten, and long after this planet has been replaced by the new heavens and the new earth (Rev. 21:1), God’s faithful servants will remain, sharing the glory of God for all eternity. And this prospect is not limited to Moody, Spurgeon, Luther, or Wesley and their likes—it is open to each and every humble believer. If you are trusting Christ, it is for you.

Something to Ponder

If you are expecting to share the glory of God for all eternity, what things are you doing now to prepare for such an encounter?

Day 5

Sovereignty and Responsibility

Read Romans 9:14–33

Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”

Romans 9:14–15

Moses was a Jew; Pharaoh was a Gentile, yet both were sinners. In fact, both were murderers! Both saw God’s wonders. Yet Moses was saved and Pharaoh was lost. Pharaoh was a ruler, and Moses was a slave, yet it was Moses who experienced the mercy and compassion of God—because God willed it that way. Nobody can condemn God for the way He extends His mercy, because God is righteous in His judgments (see Ps. 19:9 KJV).

Paul wrote of divine sovereignty and then human responsibility. Here is a paradox: The Jews sought for righteousness but did not find it, while the Gentiles, who were not searching for it, found it! The reason? Israel tried to be saved by works and not by faith. They rejected “grace righteousness” and tried to please God with “law righteousness.” The Jews thought that the Gentiles had to come up to Israel’s level to be saved, when actually the Jews had to go down to the level of the Gentiles to be saved.

Something to Ponder

When you can’t fully understand God’s working, what do you do to maintain your faith?

Day 6

Sins of the Saints

Read Hebrews 2:3–9

This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him.

Hebrews 2:3

We have the idea that believers today “under grace” can escape the chastening hand of God that was so evident “under law.” But to whom much is given, much shall be required (Luke 12:48). Not only have we received the Word from the Son of God, but that Word has been confirmed by “signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will” (Heb. 2:4). The phrase “signs and wonders” here refers to the miracles that witnessed to the Word and gave confirmation that it was true. Today we have the completed Word of God, so there is no need for these apostolic miracles. God now bears witness through His Spirit using the Word. The Spirit also gives spiritual gifts to God’s people so that they may minister in the church (1 Cor. 12:1–11).

I have often told the story about the pastor who preached a series of sermons on “the sins of the saints.” He was severely reprimanded by a church member. “After all,” said the member, “sin in the lives of Christians is different from sin in the lives of other people.”

“Yes,” replied the pastor, “it’s worse!”

Something to Ponder

Do you agree that sin in the lives of Christians is worse than sin in the lives of other people? Why?

Day 7

Heart Gifts

Read 2 Corinthians 8:10–24

Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it.

2 Corinthians 8:11

During my years of ministry, I have endured many offering appeals. I have listened to pathetic tales about unbelievable needs. I have forced myself to laugh at old jokes that were supposed to make it easier for me to part with my money. I have been scolded, shamed, and almost threatened, and I must confess that none of these approaches has ever stirred me to give more than I planned to give.

We must be careful here not to confuse willing with doing, because the two must go together. If the willing is sincere and in the will of God, then there must be a “completion of it” (2 Cor. 8:11; see Phil. 2:12–13). Paul did not say that willing was a substitute for doing, because it is not. But if our giving is motivated by grace, we will give more willingly.

God sees the “heart gift” and not the “hand gift.” If the heart wants to give more, but is unable to do so, God sees it and records it accordingly. But if the hand gives more than the heart wants to give, God records what is in the heart, no matter how big the offering in the hand may be.

Something to Ponder

Think about a time you gave willingly and a time you gave grudgingly. What made the difference?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Gift Idea: Dead Head by Rosemary Harris

Books make a fabulous Christmas gift or stocking stuffer! 

Dead Head 
Third in the Dirty Business Mystery Series
by Rosemary Harris

The talented Rosemary Harris continues to pick up steam, garner acclaim, and collect fans with her quirky, beloved Dirty Business Mystery series

Fugitive Mom. That’s the tabloid headline that rocks Springfield, Connecticut when one of the town’s favorite ladies is discovered to be an escaped convict. With a little help from the always game Lucy Cavanaugh, Paula is hired to find out which of her neighbors is a fugitive from the law and why the long-kept secret has finally come out.

Watch the book trailer:


I have really enjoyed reading The Dirty Business Mystery series. Dead Head has a great storyline and held my interest the whole way through. I think you could get away with reading Dead Head even if you haven't read the first two books in the series but knowing the background certainly enhances the story. I love the characters in this series. Rosemary Harris has created a fascinating and entertaining cast! They are the type of characters that would make an excellent movie or TV series too.

I hope that there will be more books in this series :).

You can read my reviews of the first two books in this series as well:

Pushing Up Daisies
The Big Dirt Nap

Thanks so much to Rosemary Harris for sending me a copy of her fabulous book to review!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Divine Appointments

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Divine Appointments
WaterBrook Press; Reprint edition (September 21, 2010)
Charlene Baumbich


Charlene Ann Baumbich is the author of the previous three books in the Partonville series. A popular speaker, journalist, and author, for several years she has lectured to women’s groups and retreats. Baumbich is also an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Today’s Christian Woman, and numerous other publications. She is the author of six nonfiction books of humor and inspiration.

Charlene says: For over two decades of writing and speaking, my passionate pursuit to entertain and rejuvenate using humor (I love to laugh-especially at myself), uncommon wisdom, and passionate insights has been affirmed through countless calls, letters, and evaluation sheets. A reader recently e-mailed, "There is so much depression and sadness in this world. I applaud you for reminding all of us to treasure the moments in our lives, and for encouraging us to find joy in the little things. What you do helps so many to rise above the heaviness of life and live, and laugh, and face another day, so thanks!!!!" That is exactly why I keep doing what I do.

I am a firm believer in the power of story (short or book-length, funny or insightful, real or fiction, on stage or page) to accomplish my purpose, which is to remind you: Don't Miss Your Life! Whether you're tuning into me live or in print, fasten your seatbelt. I promise you a wild, fun, provocative, heart-warming ride.


Josie Brooks, at the age of 47, thought she was leading an enviable single life. A successful consultant, she calls her own shots, goes where the money is, and never needs to compromise. But her precisely managed world begins to falter during a Chicago contract when an economic downturn, a bleeding heart boss, and the loyalty and kindness between endangered employees ding her coat of armor.

Throw in hot flashes, a dose of loneliness, a peculiar longing for intimacy, an

unquenchable thirst—not to mention a mysterious snow globe with a serene landscape, complete with a flowing river and lush greenery that seems to be beckoning her in—and Josie’s buttoned-up life is on the verge of coming completely undone.

Maybe her solitary existence isn’t as fulfilling as she has convinced herself to believe. It will take a few new friends, a mystical encounter, and an unexpected journey to set Josie on her own path to “right-sizing” and making the life changes that really matter. Filled with laugh-out loud moments and a gentle dash of inspiration, Divine Appointments is another heartwarming charmer from a master storyteller.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Divine Appointments, go HERE.

Gift Idea: Power Thoughts by Joyce Meyer

If you know someone who loves to read than a book is always a good gift choice!

Full Description (taken from the Hachette website)

Joyce Meyer has a knack for coining phrases-her fans call them Joyceisms-and one of her best loved is "Where the mind goes, the man follows." This was the basis for Battlefield of the Mind, and in her latest book, Meyer provides "power thoughts," bringing the reader to a new level of ability to use the mind as a tool to achievement.
In POWER THOUGHTS, she outlines a flexible program to turn thoughts into habits, and habits into success. Sections include:

· The Power of a Positive You

· 5 Rules for Keeping Your Attitude at the Right Altitude

· More Power To You bulleted keys to successful thinking in each chapter

· The Power of Perspective

Nobody has more of a "can-do" attitude than Joyce Meyer. Now you can, too.
Joyce Meyer is one of the world's leading practical Bible teachers, with her TV and radio broadcast, Enjoying Everyday Life, airing on nearly 450 television networks and 400 radio stations worldwide, including ABC Family Channel, Trinity Broadcast Network, Daystar, and the Word Network.
Her bestselling books include Battlefield of the Mind, Look Great, Feel Great, The Confident Woman, I Dare You, and Never Give Up!
Joyce holds conferences approximately 15 times each year, worldwide, speaking to thousands.

Guest Review by my mom :)

Joyce in her usual direct, honest and down-to-earth way, challenges us to allow God to change our thinking. The book is well written and researched, and uses examples to which we can all relate. I especially like the Think About It sections where Joyce asks questions that lead us to personally apply the power thought being discussed. There is also space to jot down your answer to the question. In this way the book can be used not only as a reference tool as we work through the process of developing a new mindset, but also as an encouragement later on as we see our own spiritual growth while rereading our answers. Power Thoughts sets attainable goals and provides the inspiration to reach them. A great book for your library as well as a meaningful gift.

Thanks so much to Hachette Book Group for sending me a review copy of this book.

Gift Idea - Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Positive

101 Inspirational Stories about Counting Your Blessings and Having a Positive Attitude

Every cloud has a silver lining. With its 101 stories of optimism, faith, and strength, this book will encourage readers to stay positive during challenging times and in their everyday lives. Readers will be inspired by these real-life stories from people just like them, taking a positive attitude to the ups and downs of life, and remembering to be grateful and count their blessings. This book continues Chicken Soup for the Soul's focus on inspiration and hope and its stories remind us that each day holds something to be thankful for. A great start to the New Year.

Guest Review by my mom :)

This is a book you can pick up anytime, open to any chapter and read a short story about how someone's life was radically changed by choosing to see their situation in a positive light. Near the back of the book is a list of all the people who contributed to the book, and a brief bio of each. I highly recommend this book as a tool for helping to maintain your positive outlook. Chicken Soup's Think Positive would make a thoughtful and caring gift that could positively change someone's life.

Thanks so much to Chicken Soup for the Soul for sending me a review copy of this book.
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