Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Best Art You've Never Seen * review *



Book Description

Across the globe there are scores of beautiful and unusual works of art that are largely unseen or fail to receive the critical acclaim they deserve. The Best Art You've Never Seen is your essential companion to this hidden world of artistic treasures. Travelling from Peru to Papua New Guinea, The Best Art You've Never Seen restores to view 101 wonderful treasures - uncovering neglected artistic wonders from off-beat corners of the world to store rooms in the world's great museums. Written by art expert and former museum director Julian Spalding, The Best Art You've Never Seen takes you into a world of beautiful and arresting artefacts and reveals their amazing stories. It unveils a surprising and unfamiliar alternative canon of works to offer a fresh and controversial take on the world of art.

Guest Review by my mom :)

This book is an art lover's dream. It not only has full colour photographs of hidden pieces of art from around the world, but also explains why this art has been hidden, in some cases since 30,000 BCE. There is a section in the book that goes through these artworks piece by piece and tells how and where to find them. A very thoughtful, fascinating and well-put-together book which could appeal to all ages.

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

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Save the Date by Jenny B. Jones * review *

 

Book Description

When Alex and Lucy pick out wedding invitations, they wonder if they can be printed in vanishing ink.
Former NFL star Alex Sinclair is a man who has it all--except the votes he needs to win his bid for Congress. Despite their mutual dislike, Alex makes Lucy a proposition: pose as his fiancée in return for the money she desperately needs. Bound to a man who isn't quite what he seems, Lucy will find her heart on the line--and maybe even her life. When God asks Alex and Lucy to scrap their playbook and follow his rules, will they finally say, "I do"?

MY REVIEW

I enjoyed this book. Save the Date was an easy, entertaining read. I read the whole book, cover to cover, in one afternoon. I really liked the main characters and the storyline held my interest. It was fun and had some good humour in it. It was not overly cheesy or preachy which is always a bonus. Jenny B. Jones is an excellent writer in my opinion. If you are a Christian fiction lover than this book would probably suit you perfectly.


I review for BookSneeze®

Cosmic ( book for 8 to 12 year olds) GIVEAWAY !! CLOSED

This giveaway is now CLOSED. Congratulations to SweetMummy for winning.



Cosmic
by Frank Cottrell Boyce

Synopsis:
Liam has always felt a bit like he's stuck between two worlds.   This is primarily because he's a twelve-year-old kid who looks like he's about thirty. Sometimes it's not so bad, like when his new principal mistakes him for a teacher on the first day of school or when he convinces a car dealer to let him take a Porsche out on a test drive. But mostly it's just frustrating, being a kid trapped in an adult world. And so he decides to flip things around. Liam cons his way onto the first spaceship to take civilians into space, a special flight for a group of kids and an adult chaperone, and he is going as the adult chaperone. It's not long before Liam, along with his friends, is stuck between two worlds again--only this time he's 239,000 miles from home. Frank Cottrell Boyce, author of MILLIONS and FRAMED, brings us a funny and touching story of the many ways in which grown-upness is truly wasted on grown-ups.

MY REVIEW
I really enjoyed Cosmic. Even though Cosmic is geared to kids I thought it was humourous and entertaining. I think most 8-12 year old kids would love it. I am certainly going to keep it around for my boys to read. Cosmic is well written and very readable.  It would make an excellent gift for the young reader in your life... it could probably even get a reluctant reader interested!

Thanks so much to Harper Collins Children's  books for sending me a copy of this book and for sponsoring this giveaway.

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This giveaway is open to readers in Canada & the USA.  I will a winner on March 10, 2011.

Winners will be chosen with random.org and notified by email. Winner will have 48 hours to reply to my email or I will choose a new winner.

The Rough Guide to the Energy Crisis * review *


Book Description

The Rough Guide to the Energy Crisis is a comprehensive guide to the workings of today’s energy world, explaining the seductive nature of fossil fuels and the reasons why international climate change negotiations are proving so difficult. If you’re interested in escaping the trap of fossil fuels and moving to a low carbon world, this is the guide for you. Realistically looking at the pitfalls, pressures and prospects for renewable energy, The Rough Guide to the Energy Crisis also shows that there is hope in new energy conservation techniques, made possible by smart grids and smart metering. You’ll also discover energy security issues and future tensions that could occur, like the possibility of the lights going out, jeopardising public support for a world of cleaner energy.


Guest Review by my mom!

This book provides a clear understanding of the energy crisis, its causes and the political and monetary concerns that prevent a quick fix. But it also provides an understanding of alternative energy sources, the obstacles and benefits, and how they might be implemented. Ultimately, it is the will of the people that drives the need for fossil fuels and other non-renewable resources. Developing countries are looking for cheap fuel, and so oil is chosen over the cleaner alternatives. Even in highly industrialized nations people generally go for the cheapest alternative - fossil fuels. So this book can provide many skills and methods for those who want to change their consciousness to embrace green alternatives. Highly recommended for young adults to the elderly.

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

Friday, February 25, 2011

A Billion Reasons Why

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:

Thomas Nelson; Original edition (February 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Kristin Billerbeck was born in California to an Italian father and a strong Norwegian/German mother. Her mother tried to teach her to do things right, how to cook, clean, sew, and budget accordingly—all the things a proper girl should know in order to be a contributing member of society. Yet Billerbeck said she “failed miserably,” although her grandmother must still hold some hope since she gave her a cookie gun for her 40th birthday.

Billerbeck has authored more than 30 novels, including the Ashley Stockingdale series and the Spa Girls series. She is a leader in the Chick Lit movement, a Christy Award finalist, and a two-time winner of the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year Award. She has appeared on The Today Show and has been featured in the New York Times. She lives with her family in northern California.


Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

There are a billion reasons Kate should marry her current boyfriend.

Will she trade them all to be madly in love?

Katie McKenna leads a perfect life. Or so she thinks. She has a fulfilling job, a cute apartment, and a wedding to plan with her soon-to-be fiance, Dexter.

She can think of a billion reasons why she should marry Dexter…but nowhere on that list is love.

And then in walks Luc DeForges, her bold, breathtaking ex-boyfriend. Only now he's a millionaire. And he wants her to go home to New Orleans to sing for her childhood friend's wedding. As his date.

But Katie made up her mind about Luc eight years ago, when she fled their hometown after a very public breakup. Yet there's a magnetism between them she can't deny.

Katie thought her predictable relationship with Dexter would be the bedrock of a lasting, Christian marriage. But what if there's more? What if God's desire for her is a heart full of life? And what if that's what Luc has offered all along?


Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson; Original edition (February 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595547916
ISBN-13: 978-1595547910

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


A Fine Romance


Katie McKenna had dreamed of this moment at least a thousand times. Luc would walk back into her life filled with remorse. He’d be wearing jeans, a worn T-shirt, and humility. He’d be dripping with humility.


That should have been her first clue that such a scenario had no bearing on reality.


“Katie,” a voice said.


The sound sent a surge of adrenaline through her frame. She’d forgotten the power and the warmth of his baritone. A quick glance around her classroom assured her that she must be imagining things. Everything was in order: the posters of colorful curriculum, the daily schedule of activities printed on the whiteboard, and, of course, the children. All six of them were mentally disabled, most of them on the severe side of the autism spectrum, but three had added handicaps that required sturdy, head-stabilizing wheelchairs. The bulk of the chairs overwhelmed the room and blocked much of the happy yellow walls and part of the large rainbow mural the kids had helped to paint. The room, with its cluttered order, comforted her and reminded her of all she’d accomplished. There was no need to think about the past. That was a waste of time and energy.


Her eyes stopped on her aides, Carrie and Selena. The two women, so boisterous in personality, were usually animated. But at the moment they stood huddled in the corner behind Austin’s wheelchair.


Carrie, the heavyset one in the Ed Hardy T-shirt, motioned at her.


“What?” Katie pulled at her white shirt with the delicate pink flowers embroidered along the hem and surveyed the stains. “I know, I’m a mess. But did you see how wonderfully the kids did on their art projects? It was worth it. Never thought of the oil on the dough staining. Next time I’ll wear an apron.”


Selena and Carrie looked as though there was something more they wanted.


“Maddie, you’re a born artist.” Katie smiled at the little girl sitting behind a mound of colorful clay. Then to the aides: “What is the matter with you two?”



Selena, a slight Latina woman, shook her head and pointed toward the door.


Katie rotated toward the front of the classroom and caught her breath. Luc, so tall and gorgeous, completely out of place in his fine European suit and a wristwatch probably worth more than her annual salary, stood in the doorway. He wore a fedora, his trademark since college, but hardly one he needed to stand out in a crowd.


As she stared across the space between them, suddenly the classroom she took such pride in appeared shabby and soiled. When she inhaled, it reeked of sour milk and baby food. Her muddled brain searched for words.


“Luc?” She blinked several times, as if his film-star good looks might evaporate into the annals of her mind. “What are you doing here?”


“Didn’t you get my brother’s wedding invitation?” he asked coolly, as if they’d only seen each other yesterday.


“I did. I sent my regrets.”


“That’s what I’m doing here. You can’t miss Ryan’s wedding. I thought the problem might be money.”


She watched as his blue eyes came to rest on her stained shirt. Instinctively she crossed her arms in front of her.


“I came to invite you to go back with me next week, on my plane.”


“Ah.” She nodded and waited for something intelligible to come out of her mouth. “It’s not money.”


“Come home with me, Katie.” He reached out his arms, and she moved to the countertop and shuffled some papers together.


If he touches me, I don’t stand a chance. She knew Luc well enough to know if he’d made the trip to her classroom, he didn’t intend to leave without what he came for. “I’m afraid that’s not possible.” She stacked the same papers again.


“Give me one reason.”


She faced him. “I could give you a billion reasons.”


Luc’s chiseled features didn’t wear humility well. The cross-shaped scar beneath his cheekbone added to his severity. If he weren’t so dreaded handsome, he’d make a good spy in a Bond movie. His looks belied his soft Uptown New Orleans upbringing, the kind filled with celebrations and warm family events with backyard tennis and long days in the swimming pool.


He pushed through the swiveled half door that separated them and strode toward her.


“That gate is there for a reason. The classroom is for teachers and students only.”


Luc opened his hand and beckoned to her, and despite herself, she took it. Her heart pounded in her throat, and its roar was so thunderous it blocked her thoughts. He pulled her into a clutch, then pushed her away with all the grace of Astaire. “Will you dance with me?” he asked.


He began to hum a Cole Porter tune clumsily in her ear, and instinctively she followed his lead until everything around them disappeared and they were alone in their personal ballroom. For a moment she dropped her head back and giggled from her stomach; a laugh so genuine and pure, it seemed completely foreign—as if it came from a place within that was no longer a part of her. Then the dance halted suddenly, and his cheek was against hers. She took in the roughness of his face, and the thought flitted through her mind that she could die a happy woman in those arms.


The sound of applause woke her from her reverie.


“You two are amazing!” Carrie said.


The children all murmured their approval, some with screams of delight and others with loud banging.

Luc’s hand clutched her own in the small space between them, and she laughed again.


“Not me,” Luc said. “I have the grace of a bull. It’s Katie. She’s like Ginger Rogers. She makes anybody she dances with look good.” He appealed to the two aides. “Which is why I’m here. She must go to my brother’s wedding with me.”


“I didn’t even know you danced, Katie,” Selena said. “Why don’t you ever come dancing with us on Friday nights?”


“What? Katie dances like a dream. She and my brother were partners onstage in college. They were like a mist, the way they moved together. It’s like her feet don’t touch the ground.”


“That was a long time ago.” She pulled away from him and showed him her shirt. “I’m a mess. I hope I didn’t ruin your suit.”


“It would be worth it,” Luc growled.


“Katie, where’d you learn to dance like that?” Carrie asked.


“Too many old movies, I suppose.” She shrugged.


“You could be on Dancing with the Stars with moves like that.”


“Except I’m not a star or a dancer, but other than that, I guess—” She giggled again. It kept bubbling out of her, and for one blissful moment she remembered what it felt like to be the old Katie McKenna. Not the current version, staid schoolmarm and church soloist in Northern California, but the Katie people in New Orleans knew, the one who danced and sang.


Luc interrupted her thoughts. “She’s being modest. She learned those moves from Ginger and Fred themselves, just by watching them over and over again. This was before YouTube, so she was dedicated.”


Katie shrugged. “I was a weird kid. Only child, you know?” But inside she swelled with pride that Luc remembered her devotion to a craft so woefully out-of-date and useless. “Anyway, I don’t have much use for swing dancing or forties torch songs now. Luc, meet Carrie and Selena. Carrie and Selena, Luc.”


“I don’t have any ‘use’ for salsa dancing,” Selena said. “I do it because it’s part of who I am.”


“Tell her she has to come with me, ladies. My brother is having a 1940s-themed wedding in New Orleans. He’d be crushed if Katie didn’t come, and I’ll look like a hopeless clod without her to dance with.”


Katie watched the two aides. She saw the way Luc’s powerful presence intoxicated them. Were they really naive enough to believe that Luc DeForges could ever appear like a clod, in any circumstance or setting? Luc, with his skilled charm and roguish good looks, made one believe whatever he wanted one to believe. The two women were putty in his hands.


“Katie, you have to go to this wedding!” Selena stepped toward her. “I can’t believe you can dance like that and never told us. You’d let this opportunity slip by? For what?” She looked around the room and frowned. “This place?”


The cacophony of pounding and low groans rose audibly, as if in agreement.


“This may be just a classroom to you, but to me, it’s the hope and future of these kids. I used to dance. I used to sing. It paid my way through college. Now I’m a teacher.”


“You can’t be a teacher and a dancer?” Selena pressed. “It’s like walking and chewing gum. You can do both. The question is, why don’t you?”


“Maybe I should bring more music and dancing into the classroom. Look how the kids are joining in the noise of our voices, not bothered by it. I have to think about ways we could make the most of this.”


But she hadn’t succeeded in changing the subject; everyone’s attention stayed focused on her.


“You should dance for the kids, Katie. You possess all the grace of an artist’s muse. Who knows how you might encourage them?”


Katie laughed. “That’s laying it on a bit thick, Luc, even for you. I do believe if there was a snake in that basket over there, it would be rising to the charmer’s voice at this very minute.”


Luc’s very presence brought her into another time. Maybe it was the fedora or the classic cut of his suit, but it ran deeper than how he looked. He possessed a sense of virility and take-no-prisoners attitude that couldn’t be further from his blue-blood upbringing. He made her, in a word, feel safe . . . but there was nothing safe about Luc and there never had been. She straightened and walked over to her open folder to check her schedule for the day.


Tapping a pencil on the binder, she focused on getting the day back on track. The students were involved in free playtime at the moment. While they were all situated in a circle, they played individually, their own favorite tasks in front of them.


“Carrie, would you get Austin and Maddie ready for lunch?”


“I’ll do it,” Selena said. “And, Katie . . . you really should go to the wedding.”


“I can’t go to the wedding because it’s right in the middle of summer school.”


“You could get a substitute,” Carrie said. “What would you be gone for, a week at most? Jenna could probably fill in. She took the summer off this year.”


“Thanks for the suggestions, ladies,” Katie said through clenched teeth. “But I’ve already told the groom I can’t attend the wedding for professional reasons.”


The women laughed. “I’m sorry, what reasons?” Carrie asked, raising a bedpan to imply that anyone could do Katie’s job.


It was no use. The two women were thoroughly under Luc’s spell, and who could blame them?


“Maybe we should talk privately,” Luc said. He clasped her wrist and led her to the glass doors at the front of the classroom. “It’s beautiful out here. The way you’re nestled in the hills, you’d never know there’s a city nearby.”


She nodded. “That’s Crystal Springs Reservoir on the other side of the freeway. It’s protected property, the drinking water for this entire area, so it’s stayed pristine.”


“I’m not going back to New Orleans without you,” he said.


Apparently the small talk had ended.


“My mother would have a fit if I brought one of the women I’d take to a Hollywood event to a family wedding.”


Katie felt a twinge of jealousy, then a stab of anger for her own weakness. Of course he dated beautiful women. He was a billionaire. A billionaire who looked like Luc DeForges! Granted, he was actually a multimillionaire, but it had been a long-standing joke between the two of them. Did it matter, once you made your first ten million, how much came after that? He may as well be called a gazillionaire. His finances were too foreign for her to contemplate.


“And who you date is my problem, how?”


“If my date tries to swing dance and kicks one of my mother’s friends in the teeth, I’ll be disinherited.”


“So what, would that make you the fifth richest man in the United States, instead of the fourth?”


“Katie, how many times do I have to explain to you I’m nowhere near those kinds of numbers?” He grinned. “Yet.” He touched his finger to her nose lightly. “My fate is much worse than losing status if you don’t come. My mother might set me up to ensure I have a proper date. A chorus line of Southern belles. And I guarantee you at least one will have the proverbial glass slipper and think her idea is so utterly unique, I’ll succumb to the fantasy.”


“Wow! What a terrible life you must lead.” She pulled a Keds slide from her foot and emptied sand out of her shoe. A few grains landed on Luc’s shiny black loafer. “To think, with courtship skills like that, that any woman wouldn’t be swept off her feet—it’s unfathomable.” She patted his arm. “I wish you luck, Luc. I’m sure your mother will have some very nice choices for you, so go enjoy yourself. Perk up, there’re billions

more to be made when you get back.”


“Sarcasm doesn’t suit you, Katie.”


e was right, but she didn’t trust herself around him. She’d taken leave of her senses too many times in that weakened state. Since moving to California, she’d made it her goal to live life logically and for the Lord. She hadn’t fallen victim to her emotions since leaving New Orleans, and she’d invested too much to give into them now.


“I’m sorry,” she said. “I only meant that I’m sure there are other nice girls willing to go home and pretend for your mother. I’ve already done that, only you forgot to tell me we were pretending. Remember?”


He flinched. “Below the belt.”


A pencil fell from behind her ear, and she stooped to pick it up, careful not to meet his glance as she rose. “I’m sorry, but I’m busy here. Maybe we could catch up another time? I’d like that and won’t be so sidetracked.” She looked across the room toward Austin, an angelic but severely autistic child in a wheelchair. He pounded against his tray. “The kids are getting hungry. It’s lunchtime.” She pointed to the schedule.


Luc scooped a hand under her chin and forced her to look at him. “Where else am I going to find a gorgeous redhead who knows who Glenn Miller is?”


“Don’t, Luc. Don’t charm me. It’s beneath you. Buy one of your bubble-headed blondes a box of dye and send her to iTunes to do research. Problem solved.”


He didn’t let go. “Ryan wants you to sing at the wedding, Katie. He sent me personally to make sure you’d be there and sing ‘Someone to Watch Over Me.’ I’m not a man who quits because something’s difficult.”


“Anyone worth her salt on Bourbon Street can sing that. Excuse me—”


“Katie-bug.”


“Luc, I asked you kindly. Don’t. I’m not one of your sophisticated girls who knows how to play games. I’m not going to the wedding. That part of my life is over.”


“That part of your life? What about that part of you? Where is she?”


She ignored his question. “I cannot be the only woman you know capable of being your date. You’re not familiar with anyone else who isn’t an actress-slash-waitress?” She cupped his hand in her own and allowed herself to experience the surge of energy. “I have to go.” She dropped his hands and pushed back through the half door. “I’m sure you have a meeting to get to. Am I right?”


“It’s true,” he admitted. “I had business in San Francisco today, a merger. We bought a small chain of health food stores to expand the brand. But I was planning the trip to see you anyway and ask you personally.”


“Uh-huh.”


“We’ll be doing specialty outlets in smaller locations where real estate prices are too high for a full grocery outlet. Having the natural concept already in these locations makes my job that much easier.”



“To take over the free world with organics, you mean?”


That made him smile, and she warmed at the sparkle in his eye. When Luc was in his element, there was nothing like it. His excitement was contagious and spread like a classroom virus, infecting those around him with a false sense of security. She inhaled deeply and reminded herself that the man sold inspiration by the pound. His power over her was universal. It did not make her special.


“Name your price,” he said. “I’m here to end this rift between us, whatever it is, and I’ll do the time. Tell me what it is you want.”


“There is no price, Luc. I don’t want anything from you. I’m not going to Ryan’s wedding. My life is here.”


“Day and night . . . night and day,” he crooned and then his voice was beside her ear. “One last swing dance at my brother’s wedding. One last song and I’ll leave you alone. I promise.”


She crossed the room to the sink against the far wall, but she felt him follow. She hated how he could make every nerve in her body come to life, while he seemingly felt nothing in return. She closed her eyes and searched for inner strength. He didn’t want me. Not in a way that mattered. He wanted her when it suited him to have her at his side.


“Even if I were able to get the time off work, Luc, it wouldn’t be right to go to your brother’s wedding as your date. I’m about to get engaged.”


“Engaged?” He stepped away.


She squeezed hand sanitizer onto her hands and rubbed thoroughly.


“I’ll give a call to your fiancé and let him know the benefits.” He pulled a small leather pad of paper from his coat pocket. “I’ll arrange everything. You get a free trip home, I get a Christian date my mother is proud to know, and then your life goes back to normal. Everyone’s happy.” He took off his fedora as though to plead his case in true gentlemanly fashion. “My mother is still very proud to have led you from

your . . .” He choked back a word. “From your previous life and to Jesus.”


The announcement of her engagement seemed to have had little effect on Luc, and Katie felt as if her heart shattered all over again. “My previous life was you. She was proud to lead me away from her son’s life.” She leaned on the countertop, trying to remember why she’d come to the kitchen area.


“You know what I meant.”


“I wasn’t exactly a streetwalker, Luc. I was a late-night bar singer in the Central District, and the only one who ever led my reputation into question was you. So I’m failing to see the mutual benefit here. Your mother. Your date. And I get a free trip to a place I worked my tail off to get out of.”


She struggled with a giant jar of applesauce, which Luc took from her and opened easily. He passed the jar back to her and let his fingers brush hers.


“My mother would be out of her head to see you. And the entire town could see what they lost when they let their prettiest belle go. Come help me remind them. Don’t you want to show them that you’re thriving? That you didn’t curl up and die after that awful night?”


“I really don’t need to prove anything, Luc.” She pulled her apron, with its child-size handprints in primary colors, over her head. “I’m not your fallback, and I really don’t care if people continue to see me that way. They don’t know me.”


“Which you? The one who lives a colorless existence and calls it holy? Or the one who danced on air and inspired an entire theater troupe to rediscover swing and raise money for a new stage?” Luc bent down, took her out at the knees, and hoisted her up over his shoulder.


“What are you doing? Do you think you’re Tarzan? Put me down.” She pounded on his back, and she could hear the chaos he’d created in the classroom. “These kids need structure. What do you think you’re doing? I demand you put me down!”

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Meet Mrs. Smith

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 (February 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Anna Smith is a wife and mother of six children. Her husband Martin was the lead singer for the band Delirious? for over sixteen years. Smith and her husband founded CompassionArt, a nonprofit organization built to raise money through art and music to help orphans and the poor around the world. Meet Mrs. Smith is Smith’s first book. She and her family reside in the seaside village of Rustington, England.


Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Are you tired of just feeling bogged down by your daily life? Do you wonder if your life will have an impact on your family or, even yet, the world? Come join Anna Smith as she encourages you to live a life of abandoned love for Christ.

Meet Mrs. Smith is Anna Smith’s life story—the story of how God used her, alongside her husband Martin, to raise a family, live a wild life for God, launch the worldwide phenomenon that is Delirious?, and start a ministry to orphans around the world. With a good dose of spiritual insight, parenting advice, and wry humor, Anna shares the hard lessons she’s learned. She also shares stories from behind some of Delirious?’s most popular songs while encouraging readers with her warm authentic voice.




Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (February 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434702030
ISBN-13: 978-1434702036

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Introduction


The phone rings just as I’m straining the potatoes and promising the waiting tribe that supper’s nearly ready.


“Indi, get back to the table.… Noah, try not to spill the water, my love.… Elle, can you encourage Levi not to arch his back in the high chair?”


Chaos.


I’m feeling slightly nauseous, and I wish the pregnancy hormones would take mealtimes into consideration—it’s far too inconvenient for me to have my head down over the toilet right now. I hear ringing from the other room.


I rush to pick up the phone.


“Helloooo, Anna here.”


“Hi, love, how are you?” Martin says.


“Yeah, good … general supper-time craziness, but we’re all fine. How’s your day been? What’ve you been up to?”


As he replies, I sense something different in Martin’s voice tonight. I don’t know, he seems bothered or troubled … just different. But there’s no time to chat.


“Can’t you phone in a couple of hours?” I ask him.


“Probably not,” he replies. Later I guess that he’ll be onstage or fast asleep in his hotel—I don’t know; I get confused with the time zones. He starts to talk about everything he’s experienced in India and how his heart’s caving in at the poverty he’s seeing.


What can I say?


“Sorry, honey, must be awful,” I say. “Right, got to go, the broccoli’s disintegrating.”


My words sound pathetic. And I can’t quite hear him anyway as the line is breaking up.


“Bye, I’ll call again soon, I love you.”


What horrible timing! As Martin wrestles with the impact of this great poverty he’s seeing and experiencing, I’m here trying to hold down the fort. He’s getting “all emotional” about someone else’s kids, but all I can think of in that moment is how I need him here. Our children miss their daddy.


But every trip to India seems to ratchet up the intensity inside Martin—something’s breaking his heart: He’s moved, challenged, and provoked by everything around him there. What’s God saying? What’s shifting? Martin’s seen poverty before, but this is something else altogether. It’s another telephone call we’ll have to resume later when the kids are in bed and my head’s clearer.


The thing is, I want him in the kitchen with me now, pouring out his heart to me, like a proper married couple going on this journey of discovery together.


Not tonight though. He’s somewhere in India, and I’m watching Pop Idol on TV.


~~~~~


We have been on a journey of so many paradoxes.


I’m on this adventure with my kids and my husband, Martin, who toured the world with the band Delirious? On this path I discovered both the joys and the chaos of family, but along the way, we

found that our chaos was little compared to the chaos of the poverty in the world.


The clash of emotions and heartbreaking stories led my children and me to a rubbish dump, a slum where people live, outside Hyderabad, India.


What am I doing here? I thought as I stood there in the refuse and dirt. Why did I bring my children to this place? Then I saw the children run up to us with huge smiles on their beautiful faces—and I wept when they sang to us.


As I said before, this has been a journey of paradoxes.


The book in your hands is about this exhilarating, enriching, exciting, and downright exhausting journey. It’s about being a wife, mother, friend, auntie, and sister. I’m a mother to six children, and due to that fact, it’s a miracle that this book has actually been published and that I’m not yet wearing a hairnet to bed and putting my dentures in a plastic cup! Rather than wait until my life calms down, I want to tell someone my story while I am right in the middle of it.


This book is about not wishing away the time or waiting until the house is empty before we look out to the world beyond our own. It’s about seeking God in all of the mess and exhaustion.


On this path, we look back on key events as turning points. For me, one of those moments came fifteen years ago. That moment accelerated my passion to embrace life to the fullest and birthed a band that played to hundreds of thousands of people around the world and spread a powerful message to the nations.


After three house moves, seven pregnancies, numerous flights with children in tow, many trips to India and Africa, dozens of tour buses, hundreds of gigs, thousands of earplugs in little ears, and too many dirty nappies (some might call them diapers!) to mention, I’m here to share a little of my story, from the sublime to the ridiculous.


Thanks for coming along!


—Anna



Chapter 1: The Longest Night


Little did I know that one moment would change everything.


I sit motionless in the passenger seat. Frightened and disorientated, my muddled brain tries to make sense of my surroundings. Slowly I turn my head and look across at Martin lying semiconscious, his inert body collapsed in a heap next to me. His head is slumped against the steering wheel, his foot in perfect synchrony, pressed down flat on the accelerator.


I don’t know what to do.


My head feels fuzzy and my thoughts move in slow motion.


~~~~~

At the time it seemed like a great idea to drive through the night. Waking up at home sounded sweet. There’s nothing like your own bed, and after spending a week cooped up in a leaky caravan, sleeping under what I can only describe as soft cardboard, my bed called to me.


The green Ford Sierra did us proud, and the thought of seeing my sister’s baby, Abigail, who’d been born ten days early (which was the motivation for our early departure), gave Martin and me lots to chat about on the way. My brother Jon fell asleep as soon as we left the campsite, so we had the whole journey to talk while eighties classics pumped out of our dilapidated stereo.


The A1 motorway continued on forever.


Martin had endured a hectic week, as part of his job was recording live music and seminars at conferences around the country, and this week we’d been at Grapevine in Lincolnshire. So it wasn’t long before we’d exhausted all conversation and stared at the road, willing the journey to come to an end. Jon snoozed away in the back of the car—he looked peaceful, albeit a tad uncomfortable, curled up next to a load of musical equipment, trying to muster up an agreeable position with the seat belt across his face.


Five hours later we drove onto the A259 to Littlehampton. Waves of excitement came over me at the thought of seeing baby Abigail. I remember the delight of seeing the familiar Windmill Pub with the patrons long gone and the feeling that we were the only ones awake in this sleepy village. We were so nearly home.


The next few moments would change our lives forever, but the God who does not slumber watched over us.


~~~~~


My eyes photograph the scene. One by one, images develop to make sense of things: a green car turned the wrong way round; a crushed and crumbling brick wall; smoke swirling in the foreground; the driver motionless, covered in blood. My other senses start to kick into gear: Intoxicating fumes creep into my nostrils; the hiss and crackle of the engine whisper in my ear.


These impressions become clearer, and my thoughts accelerate—I need to get Martin and Jon out of the car. I desperately kick my chair back, but it stubbornly refuses to move. Every part of me clambers and scrambles to escape, but I can’t get free.


“Someone call for help!” The words tumble out of my mouth and race into the cold night air, frantically searching for help.


Finally, I manage to force open my door. I tentatively step out of the car. My two-inch plastic heels crunch underfoot as fragments of glass break like icicles with every step.


I nervously survey the scene, but the dark gives nothing away. A ten-minute eternity passes. I wait, a thousand thoughts sparking a thousand fears. Suddenly, two fire engines and an ambulance careen around the corner, and the stillness is swallowed by a voracious urgency: lights and people, questions and confusion.


~~~~~


I’m ushered into the ambulance, the paramedics buzzing around me, assaulting my weary brain with questions. Jon somehow managed to get himself out of the car, but now he’s dressed in a green surgical

gown, hallucinating and singing “Yellow Submarine,” the shock of it all messing with his reality.


But what about Martin—what about my husband?


Their answer is a constant, unsatisfying repetition: “We are doing all that we can.”


The firefighters cut the roof off the car, the harsh grinding of metal against metal, battling to free the fragile body inside. I’m riveted to the action but can’t watch—my heart needs protection, but my head doesn’t want to miss any important detail. Fear and panic and emptiness and shock wrap around me like an oppressive shelter. Then in the midst of all the craziness, I see my dad running toward me, abandoned in panic. All I can think is that I need to tell him it’s going to be all right. He holds me; he’s shaking with fear, a thousand questions falling from his trembling lips.


The hours drag on heavily. People move around me in a haze, and nothing seems to change. I feel exhausted, confused, scared, and numb. The firefighters finally cut Martin free from the wreckage,

and they are relieved to find that his feet are still attached to the legs that have been hidden from sight for two hours. Now that he’s free, the paramedics are desperate to get him to the surgeon to repair his

broken and battered body.


Blood is everywhere.


As we’re leaving I hear one of the firefighters asking about the fourth passenger. Where is she? he asks. The blonde girl in the backseat?


To this day no one knows who she was. Either Jon had smuggled a new girlfriend home, or heaven made sure we weren’t alone on this night.


Maybe she was our angel.


©2011 Cook Communications Ministries. Meet Mrs. Smith by Anna Smith. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Operation Bonnet




This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Operation Bonnet
David C. Cook; New edition (February 1, 2011)
by
Kimberly Stuart




ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kimberly says:



I am a writer of comedic fiction, and would like to suggest that you laugh regularly when reading my books. Let’s also try for one to two teary moments. If you are crying more than that, you don’t understand my sense of humor and should move on to another author.



I grew up in a book-loving home. Actually, that’s not entirely accurate. My mom loves books. My dad loves to read the first chapters of books and then make us all listen as he recites his favorite passages. I, however, enjoy reading books in their entirety and came into writing as a result of book-love. After earning two fancy degrees in education and Spanish, I promptly let the thinking part of my brain take a breather and instead became pregnant. (I’m sure a lot of other things happened between early literacy and pregnancy but I don’t really remember any of that. If you also have shared your uterus with another human, you understand.)



In an effort to author a book that would entertain my sassy, irreverent, breast-feeding/drooping friends, I wrote my first novel, Balancing Act. People were so nice to me after that, I decided to continue with writing. Also, I can’t craft, knit, or scrapbook, so what else was a nice, Christian girl to do?



In addition to writing books to make my friends laugh and cry, I observe the chaos at the home I share with my unfailingly supportive husband and three offspring. We’re doing our best and so far, no one’s been to prison.



ABOUT THE BOOK



Twenty-year-old Nellie Monroe has a restless brilliance that makes her a bit of an odd duck. She wants to be a private investigator, even though her tiny hometown offers no hope of clients. Until she meets Amos Shetler, an Amish dropout carrying a torch for the girl he left behind.



So Nellie straps on her bonnet and goes undercover to get the dish. But though she’s brainy, Nellie is clueless when it comes to real life and real relationships. Soon she’s alienated her best friend, angered her college professor, and botched her case.



Operation Bonnet is a comedy of errors, a surprising take on love, and a story of grace.



If you would like to read the first chapter of Operation Bonnet, go HERE.



Watch the book video trailer:



Delirious

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 (February 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Martin Smith is a singer, guitarist, and songwriter from England. He was the front man for the Christian rock and worship band Delirious? for seventeen years. Delirious? released numerous records, with some of their songs hitting the top twenty UK charts. In their career, Delirious? played many major conferences, festivals, events, and crusades. They won numerous Dove Awards, were nominated for a Grammy Award, and produced songs such as “I Could Sing of Your Love Forever” and “Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble?” Smith collaborated with the other members of Delirious? for the book I Could Sing of Your Love Forever and with other artists to complete The Art of Compassion book and the CompassionArt CD and DVD.


Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Martin Smith, one of the men behind the modern Christian worship movement, challenges readers in his autobiography, Delirious: My Life, Mission, and Reflections on the Global Worship Movement. Martin Smith fell in love with God early in his life. By his teen years, he was captivated by songs that expressed true intimacy with God. As he grew, he married a pastor’s daughter and became involved in his church’s outreach events. He began playing his own songs with a band at the events. Then, in 1995, Smith was involved in a near-fatal car accident. During his weeks of recovery, he decided to become a full-time musician. His new career quickly took off and he became the lead singer for the band Delirious?. Touring with groups such as Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams, Matchbox Twenty, and Switchfoot, Smith’s life became a whirlwind of balancing work and family.




Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (February 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434702375
ISBN-13: 978-1434702371

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


PARADOX


I never really knew what people meant when they said that their hearts had been broken. It had always seemed to me that people were exaggerating, that the description was all a bit too over the top. But on January 10, 2007, I found out exactly what it feels like to have your heart so comprehensively messed with that you know beyond all doubt, the rest of your life will be different as a result.


For me, though, it wasn’t that my heart broke. It was still beating—and faster than ever. It felt more like my heart had been ripped out. My head, on the other hand—now that was well and truly broken. Thoughts flew out like water from a broken pipe, and nothing made sense anymore.


I was a mess.


I sat in a hotel, waiting in the room for someone to take us to dinner. Nothing new there. But nothing could ever be the same. After what I’d seen that afternoon, I knew that if my world as Martin Smith carried on without any change, I’d be making the biggest mistake of my life.


We’d been in India for a day or so. In Hyderabad the band and I played to a crowd made up of four hundred thousand people, quite a few cows, and a whole lot of duct tape holding the PA system together.


Delirious? had toured India before, and we’d seen poverty around the world: We’d visited slums in Mexico and seen it from car windows on numerous drives to and from airports, but in India we always felt the greatest impact. Knowing that even our suitcases—not including the stuff inside them—cost more than a year’s wages for some of these people was enough to wipe the smiles off our faces.


Mumbai was different. The sounds, smells, and general chaos overwhelmed the senses, and somehow the children’s begging felt more intense and disturbing there than anywhere else. Every time we stopped at a red light and children approached the airtight windows of our cars, I wanted to empty my wallet and hand the contents over to them. It would have made the kids’ pimps happy, I suppose, and

I knew it was a bad idea.


So perhaps I should have known that I’d find it emotionally charged when we visited Prem Kiran, a project supported by Joyce Meyer Ministries that provides the children of prostitutes with food, education, and support. I should have known that their smiles and effervescent singing would lift my smile higher than the clouds, and I should have guessed that when we fed the children their lunch I would be fighting back tears.


But nothing could have prepared me for Farin.


You pronounce her name fa-REEN. For some reason she couldn’t stop looking at me all the time that she and the rest of the children sang.


I suppose I’m a little bit used to the “strangeness” of people looking at me, but this was different. At the same time that she was looking, God’s Spirit prodded me deep inside, taking my guts and wringing them out.


Once they finished singing and eating lunch, we spoke with the pastor. He told us that this project worked with more than seventy children, helping their mothers and families as well. He shared that Farin’s mum—like so many of the others there—worked as a prostitute.


I felt the air leak from my lungs.


Pastor Umale went on talking. This was a red-light district, and the chances were good that, yes, Farin would end up working as a prostitute just like her mother. Seeing as she was eleven years old then, that day might not be far off.


I looked back at Farin. She was so much like my eldest daughter, Elle: same age, same height, same way of moving, same big eyes, and a similar smile. But Elle’s future is one of possibilities and peace. Farin’s is a parent’s worst nightmare that never ends.


Pastor Umale invited us to walk across the street and visit the homes of some of the children and their mothers. We trod over the open sewer that ran between the brick and tin buildings; we wandered inside when invited and stood around looking like fools. There we were, a rock band that shouted about our faith in Jesus, standing in one room where the whole of life was played out: sleeping, feeding, playing, and working.


What did our faith mean in that place? We could take to the stage in front of hundreds of thousands, but what did our faith mean as we stood next to a bed on which a prostitute sold herself for a few rupees, and beneath which her children hid, in fear and silence, sometimes even drugged so that they would sleep? What did our faith mean, and what impact could it make? Were we out of our depth, or was that just the sort of place—and were those just the sort of people—that Jesus would have been found amongst, dealing in compassion, transformation, and restoration?


Our trip ended, and we got back on the bus. But it wasn’t enough to drive off and forget about it. It wasn’t enough for life to go on as before.


Back in the hotel all I know for sure is this: I am dying inside. Something has happened and I cannot find peace. All I can think of is Farin and the horrors that lie ahead unless some minor miracle takes place.


What would I do if she were mine?


The question makes me stop. What do I mean if she were mine? I realise the truth in that moment: There is no if in this scenario—I feel like I am Farin’s father and I am as responsible for her future as

I am for my own daughter’s.


——


That day we spent as a band in Mumbai changed things for me, though perhaps not in the way that I first thought it would. As I grabbed a few snatched phone conversations with my wife over the coming days, all I could tell her was that something amazing, disturbing, and beautiful had happened. I tried to tell her about Farin, but the words came out all wrong.


It wasn’t until the band and I got home that I had any sort of plan in place and the time and words to convey it to Anna.


“We need to adopt her,” I said. “We need to bring her back here to live with us, to be a part of our family.”


Anna was very good with me. She knows me well enough to let me talk and get the ideas out before those become actual plans, but she also knew that something different was going on. This wasn’t just

another case of Martin getting excited by someone he met at the end of a long tour.


But as I thought about it more and more, I grew even more convinced. We needed to adopt this girl. And the more I thought about it, the more I missed her. It was as if my heart—so blatantly ripped out from my chest upon seeing Farin for the first time—had now been put back but was wired up all wrong. I was constantly aware of the fact that she was still back there, living in a slum, surrounded by poverty and danger. This little girl was at risk, and I was doing nothing about it, other than looking at the photo of her that I’d placed on my piano while failing to put these feelings into song.


Eventually Anna laid it all out for me. My kids—the five we had then, sharing the house I’d been floating around in ever since I’d returned from India—needed me, but I wasn’t there. Physically I might have been in the room, but that was about it. I was drifting away, and it was starting to become a problem.


I wondered if I was having a breakdown. I struggled to concentrate and found it hard to connect with my loved ones, and all I could think about was this girl I’d only ever met once. What was going on?


Within a couple of weeks the air began to clear. The songs started to come—one about Farin herself and the other about her mother and her friends—and the adoption forms that I had ordered remained unopened on our kitchen table. Bit by bit I was starting to return to my body, to reconnect with the family, to come back to “normal,” whatever that meant. Being in a band means that life is a strange dance. You travel a lot and develop a life made up of stages, studios, and interviews that is far removed from the realities of family life. You have to work hard to smooth the transition between these two parts of life.


But coming back from India the landing was even bumpier.


Part of me liked that idea of everything getting back to how it had been. Part of me thought it was the most frightening thing that could ever happen.


Six weeks after meeting Farin, I found out that Farin’s mother had changed her mind. At the start she had been happy for Farin to leave India, for us to adopt her and bring her to England with us. Then she changed her mind. She couldn’t let Farin go.


How could I blame her? Honestly, I felt partly relieved, partly upset and sad. But then, finally, something like progress presented itself to Anna and me: If we can’t adopt Farin, then let’s take care of her and the other children in her neighbourhood. The pastor told me what the project in India cost to run, and we decided to contribute: We wanted to help with the care and education of all seventy children. After all, if we couldn’t bring Farin home, we could certainly help care for her along with all of her friends.


——


That is not the end of the story.


And it certainly isn’t the beginning either.


The day I met Farin was one of those points in life when so many threads come together. It was a junction box, with so many different experiences and influences colliding, and so many outcomes blossoming as a result. And part of the reason I wanted to write this book was to share a little of that bigger story.


But before we jump in, I need to do some confessing. Starting with a story like meeting Farin can sound impressive. That line about having my heart ripped out and my head broken makes it sound like I’m halfway towards being a saint. Don’t get me wrong—the feelings were absolutely genuine, but those were rare. On so many of the other trips our band made to projects that worked amongst the poorest people, life often went back to normal after a while.


I know lots of people who have experienced the same thing. Maybe you have too. After seeing the firsthand reality of what life is really like for so many of our neighbours here on the planet, you feel stirred up. You try your best, you try to respond to the compassion stirring within you. Most artists and creative people are by nature sensitive to suffering, and we often want to jump in and help, without thinking about whether there’s a lifeline. And even if you’re not a creative type, having faith in Christ more than sets us in line with compassion as a way of life.


Well, that’s the theory. Or, at least, that’s the start. What comes after the outpouring of emotion or the awkward feeling when you look in your wallet, that’s where I think we make the hard choices.


For those of us living in the West, when we come face-to-face with poverty it can be a problem. Especially when a trip feels more like a holiday romance than a blinding light on the road to Damascus.


For example, we fly into India, stay in a nice hotel, go visit these projects, go back to the hotel, have a shower, and eat a nice meal in a restaurant, and then, if we’re lucky, we get an upgrade on the flight home. In our culture, where selfishness is at worst a character quirk and at best a sign of inner strength, there is a real disconnect between head and heart, between passion and lifestyle. So we can be engaged in an issue, we can use our voices as our currency, and we can give cash. But the greatest tragedy is that we can come home from the short-term mission trip and get straight back into our everyday life and forget.


Not that there’s anything wrong with everyday life. For me that might range from driving one of the kids to a dance lesson today and piano lessons tomorrow, to taking out the rubbish bins; from getting the car fixed, to thinking about where we want to go on holiday next summer. Everyday life for me might be planning what I’m going to be doing this time next year or thinking about how to release these songs within me for others to hear. You can forget the pain, and you can forget the faces. That breathless feeling you get when you’re surrounded by life-and-death poverty can evaporate like the vapour trail left by the jet as you fly home.


I found this all to be true after my early trips to India. I didn’t like the way I, like the Israelites, could so quickly forget about what God had done just days before. It might not have been a miracle like the parting of the Red Sea, but facing children whose lives were on course for abuse, neglect, and horror stirred my compassion in powerful—but sadly, kind of temporary—ways.


Eventually I found what I thought was a perfect remedy for my wandering heart. Taking photos, and lots of them. All around my house now are pictures of many of the children—God’s children—through whom I have glimpsed more of life than I had known. As I sit at the piano or eat breakfast, all I have to do is look up to be reminded of their faces and to reconnect with their stories.


The truth is, though, that while the photos are a neat little device that I came up with, God had a better plan for helping me hold on to the sense of purpose that rose up after those days of seeing poverty up close. And that plan was Farin.


In one of those wonderful, God-only ways that showed how well my Father in heaven knows me, God broke into my heart and left it in pieces. Through Farin God made it all personal. And once that happened, there was no way I could ignore His call.


I’m not trying to sound like a saint again, but it’s true that one day in Mumbai back in January 2007 made the rest of my life different. Of course I still have one foot in my everyday life—the world in which I find myself getting more excited about the World Cup than about rescuing kids from sex trafficking. There are many, many times when I feel as though I just don’t know how to do this thing called compassion when there’s so much geography in the way. All those old temptations to go back to normal. But Anna and I have come so far down a new track that I’m not so sure I remember what “normal” looks like. I don’t think we can ever really go back to life being our own again.


So here we are, at the start of this book. Read it, and you’ll see that I’ve made plenty of mistakes. I’ve tried to be honest with you throughout—honest about the good as well as the bad.


But, thanks to the grace of God, this book is about more than just my failings. It’s about an amazing journey that I’ve been on. I’ve seen miracles, heard armies of Christians cry out in faith, and seen what happens when ordinary men and women decide to live their faith out loud.


And I hope that this book helps you unleash more of the same.


©2011 Cook Communications Ministries. Delirious by Martin Smith. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pilates Practice Companion * review *

Pilates Practice Companion
Alycea Ungaro

Accessible, authoritative, and inspiring, Pilates Practice Companion is a one-stop resource to guide people of all abilities in their practice of Pilates. Separated into exercises for beginner, intermediate, and advanced fitness levels, the book allows readers to focus on the exercises that are relevant to them and to progress at their own pace. With beautiful step-by-step photography, clear instructions on each exercise, and key features, such as annotated photographs of common faults and a list of the physical and mental benefits of each exercise, Pilates Practice Companion demonstrates how to practice Pilates without costly classes and equipment.

Alycea Ungaro is one of the most recognized and influential Pilates teachers in the world. As the owner of New York City’s top studio, Real Pilates, Alycea’s celebrity clientele have included Madonna, Uma Thurman, Sarah Michelle Geller, and many more. She is the author of DK’s top-selling Pilates: Body in Motion and 15 Minute Everyday Pilates.



Guest Review by my mom!

I love this book! For each movement described there are full colour photographs so that you can not only read how to do it, but also see it illustrated. The visual component makes it easy to learn. The exercises are divided up depending on what you need, i.e. "Beginner Sequences", "Pilates for Sports and Play", "Pilates for Rehabilitation,"  "Pilates for Sex," etc. It covers everything from correct breathing and posture to the Pilates diet. If followed, this book promises greater body strength, improved muscle tone and posture, relief from stress, and flexibility. This book will appeal to all age groups, is very easy to read and follow, and is recommended as a handy reference for getting in shape.

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

Siblings and Autism


Siblings and Autism

Stories Spanning Generations and Cultures

Edited by Debra L. Cumberland and Bruce E. Mills


What is it like to grow up with a sibling on the autism spectrum? What kind of relationship do such siblings have? How does that relationship change as the siblings get older?

In this moving collection of beautifully-written personal accounts, siblings from a variety of backgrounds, and in different circumstances, share their experiences of growing up with a brother or sister with autism. Despite their many differences, their stories show that certain things are common to the "sibling experience": the emotional terrain of looking on or being overlooked; the confusion of accommodating resentment, love, and helplessness; and above all the yearning to connect across neurological difference.

Siblings and Autism is a thought-provoking book that will appeal to anyone with a personal or professional interest in autism, including parents of siblings of children on the spectrum, teachers, counsellors, and psychologists.

MY REVIEW

I really appreciate that this book addresses the siblings of Autistic kids. They are often overlooked and they need support in their unique role. I love that this book acknowledges that their lives ARE different from many of their friends. Having a sibling with Autism certainly changes the dynamic of a family.
I enjoyed reading from the many different perspectives and seeing the unique ways in which various people coped with their Autistic siblings. I thought the book was well written and easy to understand.

Thanks so much to Jessica Kingsley Publishers for sending me a copy of this book to review.

Save The Date




This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Save The Date
Thomas Nelson (February 1, 2011)
by
Jenny B. Jones




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



I write Christian fiction with a few giggles, quite a bit of sass, and lots of crazy. My novels include the Katie Parker Production series and So Not Happening. I would also like to take credit for Twilight , but somewhere I think I read you’re not supposed to lie.



When I’m not typing my heart out (or checking email), I teach at a super-sized high school in Arkansas.



My students are constantly telling me how my teaching changes their lives and turned them away from drugs, gangs, and C-SPAN.



Okay, that’s not exactly true.



Some facts that are true include:



I've always been refined!



A. I got my camera confiscated by big boys with guns at the American Embassy in Europe this past summer. O la la!



B. I once worked in a seed mill office and cleaned out mice on a regular basis. Ew.



C. I’m a former drama teacher.



D. I didn’t pass my drivers test the first time. Or the second…



E. I attract stray animals like a magnet.



F. I used to assemble and test paint ball guns for a local factory...



Since my current job leaves me with very little free time, I believe in spending my spare hours in meaningful, intellectual pursuits such as:



-watching E!

-updating my status on Facebook

-catching Will Ferrell on YouTube and

-writing my name in the dust on my furniture



I’d love to hear about you, so drop me a note. Or check me out on Facebook.





ABOUT THE BOOK



You’re invited to the engagement of the most unlikely couple of the year.

When the funding for Lucy’s non-profit job is pulled, she is determined to find out why. Enter Alex Sinclair, former professional football star and heir of Sinclair Enterprises—the primary donor to Lucy’s Saving Grace organization. Alex Sinclair has it all . . . except for the votes he needs to win his bid for Congress. Both Lucy and Alex have something the other wants. Despite their mutual dislike, Alex makes Lucy a proposition: pose as his fiancée in return for the money she desperately needs. Bound to a man who isn’t quite what he seems, Lucy finds her heart – and her future – on the line.



Save the Date is a spunky romance that will have readers laughing out loud as this dubious pair try to save their careers, their dreams . . . and maybe even a date.



If you would like to read the first chapter of Save The Date, go HERE

Words




This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Words
B&H Books (February 1, 2011)
by
Ginny Yttrup




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Ginny Yttrup is an author, freelance writer, and writing coach. As she writes, speaks, and coaches, her prayer is that God will use her words to replace the lies so many believe about themselves with the truth of His unconditional love and grace. To see someone grasp, perhaps for the first time, the truth of God's love, is truly an honor. Through a relationship with the Truth, Jesus Christ, the bonds of shame are loosed and freedom abounds!



When Ginny is not working, she loves spending time with her two college-age sons or with friends. She is surrounded by the most amazing people--each a gift in their own way. If she can spend time outdoors with those she love, it's even better. And she thoroughly adores her dog, Bear. He's a book lover too.



She has two grown sons and lives near Sacramento, California. Words is her first novel.



ABOUT THE BOOK



"I collect words. I keep them in a box in my mind. I'd like to keep them in a real box, something pretty, maybe a shoe box covered with flowered wrapping paper. Whenever I wanted, I'd open the box and pick up the papers, reading and feeling the words all at once. Then I could hide the box. But the words are safer in my mind. There, he can't take them."



Ten-year old Kaylee Wren doesn't speak. Not since her drug-addled mother walked away, leaving her in a remote cabin nestled in the towering redwoods-in the care of a man who is as dangerous as he is evil. With silence her only refuge, Kaylee collects words she might never speak from the only memento her mother left behind: a dictionary.



Sierra Dawn is thirty-four, an artist, and alone. She has allowed the shame of her past to silence her present hopes and chooses to bury her pain by trying to control her circumstances. But on the twelfth anniversary of her daughter's death, Sierra's control begins to crumble as the God of her childhood woos her back to Himself.



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



Watch the book trailer video:



Friday, February 18, 2011

The Rough Guide Book of Brain Training * review *




The Rough Guide Book of Brain Training contains 100 days' worth of puzzles designed to give your brain a thorough work-out. Just 5 puzzles a day will lead to a smarter you. Combining favourites such as sudoku and kakuro with many entirely new puzzle types, puzzle creator Dr Gareth Moore exercises every part of your mind - from processing speed, mental arithmetic and problem-solving to memory and creativity.

Every ten days, a test page allows you to chart your progress, while throughout the book Dr Tom Stafford's incisive and thought-provoking text explores the wonders of our brain and how we can get better at using it to its full potential. Offering much more than other brain-testing books The Rough Guide Book of Brain Training answers mind-boggling questions such as 'does classical music make you more intelligent?' and 'can we slow down or stop the ageing of our brain?' This guide is guaranteed to give your brain a thorough work-out.


Guest Review by my mom :)

The Rough Guide book of Brain Training offers 100 days to a smarter you. It gives you a plan, and guides you through the daily workouts, test workouts, and provides ways to keep track of your progress throughout the book. A 15 - 20 minutes/day time commitment to this program promises to restore brain power. I find that I tend to avoid the workouts that would likely improve my brain elasticity, but the book keeps me on track. Also, every few pages there are encouraging tips and tools you can use to improve how your brain functions. This book holds appeal for teens through to the elderly.

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


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Lone Star Intrigue


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Lone Star Intrigue
Avon Inspire (February 1, 2011)
by
Debra White Smith




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Debra White Smith is a seasoned Christian author, speaker, and media personality who has been regularly publishing books for over a decade. In the last twelve years, she has accumulated over 50 books sales to her credit with over 1 million books in print. Her titles include such life-changing books as Romancing Your Husband, Romancing Your Wife, The Divine Romance: Developing Intimacy with God, the The Lonestar Intrigue fiction series, and The Jane Austen fiction series.



As a woman of God, Debra is committed to the highest standards of integrity and to spending hours a week being still before the Father, staying in tune with Him, and listening for His voice of direction in all she does. This commitment to romancing the Lord, coupled with her lifestyle of devouring, analyzing, and dissecting the Word of God has allowed God to bring about a miracle of deliverance and healing in Debra's spirit, mind, and soul. For you see, Debra holds a double Ph.D. from the toughest schools in the world. The first Ph.D. from the "School of Hard Knocks" and the second, from the "School of Very Hard Knocks." Aside from that, she holds an M.A. in English from the University of Texas.





Along with Debra's being voted a fiction-reader favorite several times, her book Romancing Your Husband was a finalist in the 2003 Gold Medallion Awards. And, her Austen Series novel First Impressions was a finalist in the 2005 Retailer's Choice Awards. Debra has been a popular media guest across the nation, including Fox TV, The 700 Club, ABC Radio, USA Radio Network, and Moody Broadcasting. Her favorite hobbies include fishing, bargain-hunting, and swimming with her family. Debra also vows she would walk 50 miles for a scoop of German Chocolate ice cream.



ABOUT THE BOOK



In the small town of Bullard, Texas, the Mansfield brothers seem to have everything in order . . . except for their love lives. Jack is the lonely police chief still pining after Charli, his college girlfriend. Younger brother Sonny keeps busy on the road as a private investigator, and a secret from his past prevents him from finding someone to settle down with. But all that is about to change...



Read the two stories...



In Texas Heat, Charli is wrongly accused of a terrible crime. Now Jack must arrest the one woman he's ever loved and risk everything to prove her innocence and save her life.



In Texas Pursuit, a single mother is a target of a relentless stalker—and Sonny finds himself both the only man who can protect her and the one who inadvertently leads danger back into her world.



Page-turning novels of romance and suspense, the Lone Star Intrigue series will give you faith in the power of love, and remind you that having faith in a God who redeems our mistakes is the greatest love story of all.



If you would like to read the first chapter of Lone Star Intrigue, go HERE.
 
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