Tuesday, November 29, 2011

America: The Last Best Hope ~ Volume III by William Bennett

As a fan of William Bennett, I was eager to receive and read his 3rd and final volume in America: The Last Best Hope Series. Once again Bennett delivers American History, (the last 20 years in this volume) in a manner that is articulate, honest and fair. Bennett himself is an amazing historian and a pretty good storyteller, which makes history interesting, alive and easy to read. Even people who may not normally be History buffs are easily drawn in by his ability to relay the why of historical events, as much as what they were and when they occurred.

Many of us will remember the events of the last 20 years well. Bennett discusses the fall of Communism; the presidencies of George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush, along with the election of Barack Obama; the first and second Gulf Wars; the first bombing of the World Trade Center; the Oklahoma City bombing; the attacks on 9/11; and even Princess Diana and Pope John Paul II and their influence on America. He tackles political and social topics in way that is seemingly effortless. This book, and the whole series, would be good for someone who is even mildly interested in American History. I highly recommend it!

This book was provided to me for review by Thomas Nelson Publishers.


America: The Last Best Hope (Vol III)

From the Fall of Communism to the Rise of Radical Islam

by William Bennett

Author, historian, and educator William J. Bennett examines America’s last two decades.

Twenty years ago, John McCain was serving his second year in the Senate, and Colin Powell had just been promoted to chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. There was no Fox News Channel, no American Idol. Saddam Hussein and the Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeni ruled Iraq and Iran, respectively. George W. Bush was the fairly unnoticeable son of the then-president. If you asked someone to “email me,” you would have received a blank stare, and “Amazon” was a forest in South America. Finally, 20 years ago a young man named Barack Obama was elected the first black president of the Harvard Law Review. The two decades from 1988 to 2008 have proved to be some of the most pivotal in America’s history. Based on a lifetime of experience in government and education, William J. Bennett defines the events that shaped American history during the final years of the century.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

One Call Away by Brenda Warner

One Call Away . . . An appropriate title. This is a memoir by Brenda Warner, wife of Super Bowl Champion Quarterback Kurt Warner. We’ve all either gotten “the call,” or will be at some point. The phone rings, we answer and BAM! life is no longer the same. Many times, the ringing of a phone brings news of death, loss, tragedy, and illness, all of which lead to pain. Brenda Warner has gotten several of such calls. And she invites us into her life to witness the aftermath of these calls. She also shows us how she has gotten through these crises – with strength, determination, and most-importantly, her faith. She leaned on and trusted in God through the tragedy, through the pain, through the anger.

The thing I liked so much about this book is the raw honesty with which Brenda shares her story. She is not a perfect woman and seems to share her flaws openly with both thought and regret. She admits that she hasn’t always handled everything well and she’s made mistakes – some that she’s still dealing with today. But it’s real and it’s fresh. Most of us can’t relate to the lifestyle that comes with being a sports celebrity and we often see it as a sort of fairytale. However, most of us can relate to the authentic struggles she faced throughout her life before, and even after, the “glamorous” life of NFL stardom arrived. With the blessings of life that have come their way, she and Kurt seem to truly live out the phrase “blessed to be a blessing.” I enjoyed this book very much and would recommend it to others.

This book was provided to me for review by Thomas Nelson Publishers.


One Call Away: Answering Life’s Challenges with Unshakeable Faith

Brenda Warner

with Jennifer Schuchmann

Brenda’s life has taken twists and turns that are stranger than fiction. It always seemed as if she was just one phone call away from the next explosive change. Each time her plans fell apart, she had a choice: would she give up, or would she press forward and learn from the unexpected? One Call Away is the inspiring story of a woman who has prevailed through many of the circumstances that discourage women: tragedy, poverty, betrayal, and humiliation. But unlike most women, her life has been on display in the media.

Brenda’s faith and God’s strength enable her to face challenge after challenge: an accident that leaves her son blind and brain damaged, a crumbling marriage, a tornado that kills her parents, a new relationship with promising football player Kurt Warner, and the pressures his sudden success brings to their growing family.

Through food stamps and funerals, Super Bowls and serving others, Brenda’s strength is unwavering. Her determination to dream new dreams, willingness to learn from her mistakes, and commitment to giving back to her community make her a role model for women of all backgrounds.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Place Called Blessing

The book A Place Called Blessing: Where Hurting Ends and Love Begins is a rare treasure. It is a fictionalized retelling of the bestselling relational classic, The Blessing. Josh is a character that many people can identify with – an angry, distrusting, hurting and lonely young person who is merely a product of the life he grew up with. Bad things happen all the time, especially it seems to children. They then grow up wounded, believing they are damaged goods and can only count on themselves and that there’s no such thing as unconditional love.

A Place Called Blessing shows how important love is and how much of a difference it can make in a life. Relationships are difficult. There are challenges and hurts that must be overcome and forgiven for any relationship to thrive. Unconditional love and acceptance, plus forgiveness and understanding have immense power to change a life and a person. However it doesn’t just happen, it is a choice that must be made – sometimes even daily. This wonderful book touches the soul and does a superb job of showing that the past doesn’t have to be the future. It stays with you long after the last page has been turned. I really loved this book, consider it to be a must read, and would enthusiastically recommend it to others.

This book was provided to me for review by Thomas Nelson Publishers.


A Place Called Blessing

John Trent, PhD

with Annette Smith

Five-year-old Josh and his two older brothers lose their parents in a drunk-driving accident. A series of foster homes and a shocking tragedy eventually separate them, leaving Josh alone, angry, and distrustful of most everyone. At age eighteen, Josh strikes out on his own to find work. With only a high school education and few life skills, he is one step away from homelessness when Providence brings him to a place where he finds much more than physical shelter. For the first time in his life, Josh receives unconditional love and something every human being craves, the gift of "the blessing."

The book includes an introduction and reader’s guide designed to identify and discuss the five elements of the biblical blessing that every person needs. Through the power of Josh's story, readers are shown how to give this gift to their children and others as outlined in the more than one million copy bestseller, The Blessing.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Time to Dance by Karen Kingsbury

Karen Kingsbury is an amazing Christian author who writes stellar fiction, and in A Time to Dance, she does not disappoint! Marriage, and relationships in general, can be both rewarding and challenging. It is often tough to navigate the path from young, fresh, newly married and “in love,” to a long-term, mundane, everyday married life with challenges, children, work and activities. Kingsbury shows us the importance of putting first things first ~ God, then marriage, then family and so on. It is far too easy to take our marriage and our spouse for granted, rather than to continually focus our time and energy into keeping it fresh and thriving. The truth is that even “perfect” couples have issues, problems and struggles in their marriages.

Can a marriage be saved? Does blaming ever get us anywhere? Can one person make a difference? Can pain, loneliness, distrust and anger be overcome? Does any of it really matter? Marriage takes work. It takes commitment. It takes active (not feeling) love. Kingsbury shows us deftly that it takes all of these and more. It takes forgiveness – forgiveness of others and sometimes self. And it even takes A Time to Dance.

This book was provided to me for review by Thomas Nelson Publishers.


A Time to Dance

Karen Kingsbury

Karen Kingsbury’s celebrated series that shows the depth, passion and power of marriage.

A Time to Dance - John and Abby were the perfect couple with the perfect family. But on the verge of an affair, John is no more the man Abby married than she is the bride of his dreams. So they decide to divorce. But when they gather their children to tell them the news, their daughter announces she’s getting married.

Determined not to ruin Nicole's happiness, Abby and John agree to postpone their divorce. But as the wedding nears, they wonder: is it possible to still find joy and perhaps the time…to dance?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Love on a Dime ~ by Cara Lynn James

If you’re looking to add to your summer or beach reading list, this book should definitely be on it! Author Cara Lynn James has written a positively delightful debut novel, and Love on a Dime is the first in the Ladies of Summerhill series. It was fun, light, humorous and easy, but it was also well written and had great object lessons. The characters were well-developed and likeable. The story was charming and intriguing, and moved along at a comfortable, yet quick pace.

Love on a Dime was thoroughly enjoyable. I simply did not want to put it down. I really liked the characters and was even a bit disappointed when it ended, because I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to them. I can’t wait to meet them again in the other books of the series, and am eagerly anticipating the release of the other books in the series! Cara Lynn James is definitely an author to keep an eye on for future good books. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical, Christian, romantic fiction. I assure you, it does not disappoint!

This book was provided to me for review by Thomas Nelson Publishers.


Love on a Dime

Cara Lynn James

Turn of the century novelist Lilly Westbrook learns that being faithful to her calling means more than just putting pen to paper.

It's the summer of 1899 in Newport, Rhode Island, and Lilly Westbrook is struggling to conceal her career from family and friends because of the stigma attached to dime novels. Lilly feels good about her secret—after all, she’s enlightening working class girls with her books and honoring God by using her talents to His glory.

But her secret is threatened when Jackson Grail, a former suitor, becomes Lilly's new publisher. He's determined to revive his floundering publishing house by maximizing their most promising--and most secretive--author. His plan? Find “Fannie Cole” and convince her to go public.

When a gossip columnist discovers Lilly’s true identity, she finds that being faithful to her calling involves more than just putting pen to paper. It requires that she stand up for her faith and for herself, no matter the consequences.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

They Almost Always Come Home ~ by Cynthia Ruchti

This is a blog tour of a fantastic book, by first time novelist Cynthia Ruchti. They Almost Always Come Home is a stellar debut novel. It is deep, thought provoking, humorous and wonderfully complex. It is one of those rare books that is a page turner and it will stay with you long after you finish. I highly recommend They Almost Always Come Home and look forward to more books from this talented author.


About the Book:

(Wausau, WI) – At the foundation of each relationship resides the need to know love can survive even when feelings fade. In Cynthia Ruchti’s debut novel, They Almost Always Come Home, readers feel the desperation of this foundational yearning in a marriage clearly pulling loose from its moorings. Compounded by other issues—an unrewarding career and mismatched dreams—it’s enough to drive a man into the arms of the Canadian wilderness. When Greg Holden doesn’t return home from a wilderness canoe trip, his wife Libby wrestles with survivor guilt, a new layer of grief, and the belief that she was supposed to know how to fix her marriage. She planned to leave him—but how can she leave a man who’s no longer there? He was supposed to go fishing, not missing.

Libby has to find him before she can discover how their marriage ends. She plunges into the wilderness on an adventurous and risky manhunt, unsure what she will do if she finds him…or if she doesn’t. She expects to meet hardship, discomfort, and danger in the wilderness. She doesn’t expect to face the stark reality of her spiritual longing and a faint, but steady pulse that promises hope for reviving her marriage. If Greg’s still alive.

They Almost Always Come Home provides a glimpse into common, however uncomfortable, marital conflicts. Cynthia weaves a page-turning story, suspense building scene by scene. Her characters mirror ordinary people, living real-to-life situations, allowing readers to relate and sort through a myriad of emotions and life decisions. If fiction can contain adventure, riveting self-awareness, and romance all between the same covers, this is the book!

About the Author:

Cynthia Ruchti writes stories of “hope that glows in the dark.” She writes and produces The Heartbeat of the Home, a syndicated drama/devotional radio broadcast, and is editor for the ministry’s Backyard Friends magazine. She also serves as current president of American Christian Fiction Writers. Cynthia married her childhood sweetheart, who tells his own tales of wilderness adventures.

The Interview:

1. How would you describe your book?

The tagline for the book is “She’d leave her husband…if she could find him.”

When Libby’s husband Greg doesn’t return from a two-week canoe trip to the Canadian wilderness, the authorities write off his disappearance as an unhappy husband’s escape from an oatmeal marriage and mind-numbing career. Their marriage might have survived if their daughter Lacey hadn’t died and if Greg hadn’t been responsible. Libby enlists the aid of her wilderness-savvy father-in-law and her faith-walking best friend to help her search for clues to her husband’s disappearance. What the trio discovers in the wilderness search upends Libby’s assumptions about her husband and rearranges her faith.

It’s my prayer that this fictional adventure story and emotional journey will reveal its own hope-laden clues for those struggling to survive or longing to exit what they believe are uninspiring marriages. How can a woman survive a season or a lifetime when she finds it difficult to like the man she loves?

2. How were you different as a writer and as a person when you finished writing They Almost Always Come Home?

This book changed me in a profound way. It forced me to take a more honest look at myself and my reactions to crises so I could write Libby’s character with authenticity. Libby is a composite of many women. I haven’t experienced what she did, but I identify with some of her struggles and longings, as I hope my readers will. I see my friends in her eyes and know that her tears aren’t hers alone. Her shining moments feed my courage. Libby speaks for me and for many others when she discovers that she is stronger than she realized and weaker than she wanted to admit.

Writing her story was a journey for the author as much as for the character.

3. What did you feel the tug on your heart to become a writer?

My journey toward a lifetime of writing began by reading books that stirred me, changed me, convinced me that imagination is a gift from an imaginative Creator. As a child, I read when I should have been sleeping…and still do. I couldn’t wait for the BookMobile (library on wheels) to pull up in front of the post office in our small town and open its arms to me. Somewhere between the pages of a book, my heart warmed to the idea that one day I too might tell stories that made readers stay up past their bedtimes.

4. What books line your bookshelves?

My bookshelves—don’t ask how many!—hold a wide variety of genres. The collection expands faster than a good yeast dough. I’m a mood reader, grabbing a light comedy one day and a literarily rich work the next. Although I appreciate well-written nonfiction, I gravitate toward an emotionally engaging contemporary women’s fiction story.

Something Extra From the Author’s Heart:

Ten years ago, my husband almost didn’t come home. His canoe adventure with our son Matt soured on Day Two when Bill grew violently ill from what we presume was either pancreatitis or a gall bladder attack. He’s an insulin-dependent diabetic, so any grave illness is a threat. One in the middle of the Canadian wilderness is morgue material.

With no satellite phone with which to call for help, Matt took turns caring for his father and watching the shore for other canoeists happening past their hastily constructed campsite. The few other canoes were headed deeper into the remote areas of the park, not on their way out. None had a satellite phone. And none of them were doctors.

As my husband grew sicker, his diabetes went nuclear. He couldn’t eat, yet needed insulin because his liver thought it should help out by dumping vast quantities of sugar into his system. Even in a hospital setting, the situation would have been difficult to control, and the nearest hospital was light years away across vast stretches of water and woodland, through peopleless, roadless wilderness.

Our son stretched a yellow tarp across the rocks on shore and wrote S.O.S. with charcoal from a dead fire. He scratched out countless notes on pieces of notebook paper torn from their trip journal:

Send rescue! My dad is deathly ill.

Read the rest of the story at the KCWC BLOG


There is a giveaway drawing to be held for this blog tour. Please leave a comment to be entered in the drawing. The blog tour giveaway includes:

North Pak 20 inch cinch sack (lime)

Day Runner journal

Canoe Brand wild rice

Canada's brand blueberry jam

Coleman 60-piece mini first aid kit

Wood canoe/paddle shelf ornament

Six original photography notecards from video trailer

"Hope" hanging ornament

Mini Coleman "lantern" prayer reminder

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Raising a Modern-Day Princess ~ by Farrel and Hanna

As I go about the daunting task of raising my daughter, I am grateful for sound, moral and godly advice that I can glean from others through various resources. The book Raising a Modern-Day Princess by Pam Farrel and Doreen Hanna is just such a resource. It tackles the importance of training up our daughters to be strong and principled, full of purpose, grace, kindness and good self-worth. We are encouraged to raise them up confident in the knowledge that they are our much beloved daughters, and also much beloved daughters of the King.

The author’s do a great job of sharing stories from their own lives, and also share stories from the lives of others. They expound key concepts including how valuable the father-daughter and mother-daughter relationships are, but in different ways, the significance of mentors, and how important and special a “coming-of-age” celebration is to a young lady.

Raising a Modern-Day Princess is a great resource for those who have daughters, for fathers and mothers, or for those who work with, spend time with, or want to have a good influence on girls (teachers, youth leaders, family members, neighbors, etc.) Got girls? Get this book!

This book was provided to me for review by Tyndale House Publishers.


Raising a Modern-Day Princess

Pam Farrel and Doreen Hanna

In the same tradition as Raising a Modern-Day Knight, this book is designed to equip parents to cultivate strong relationships with their adolescents. Raising a Modern-Day Princess stresses the importance of creating a rite of passage for teen girls—a defining moment in which girls can be blessed by significant adults in their lives, and a call for their families and communities to celebrate and support them as they enter womanhood. This book offers practical help in raising a generation of women to see themselves as God sees them—as daughters of the King.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Shattered ~ by Frank Pastore

This was a great book! I must confess, I’d not heard of Frank Pastore previous to being offered to review his book Shattered, but it looked interesting so I took it. It’s a memoir, sports story, inspirational book, self-improvement manual and romance novel all rolled into one! Travel with Frank as he journeys from brokenness to wholeness, from pudgy and awkward boy to professional athlete, and from success to failure and back to success again. The journey is filled with drama, betrayal, dysfunction, love, joy, peace, excitement, hard work and do-over’s. It is a thrilling ride from life in professional sports, to life in ministry, to life in radio.

Shattered will speak to anyone who’s been hurt by family, in school, by friends, in ministry, or simply in life. It will resonate with anyone who’s been broken and beat down by life, then lovingly and beautifully restored by God. It is an easy read, a bit of a page turner, and thoroughly enjoyable.

This book was provided to me for review by Tyndale House Publishers.


Shattered: Struck Down, but Not Destroyed

Frank Pastore

With Ellen Vaughn

Like its author, Shattered is “fun, fast, and real” and an intriguing mix of paradoxes. Frank Pastore was a physically awkward kid who became a professional athlete. An okay student who goes on to earn two masters degrees in philosophy. A former atheist who ends up hosting the biggest Christian radio talk show in America.

Shattered is part sports book, because you’ll go on road trips, enter clubhouses, and walk on the fields of professional baseball. It’s part romantic novel, because you’ll journey with two young kids who fall in love and eventually elope, evading not only her family, but the law as well—for she was only 16.

It’s also a story of brokenness, betrayal, and burn-out. If you were raised in a dysfunctional family, if you’ve ever had your dreams fall apart, been betrayed by close friends, or hit the psychological “wall” in your professional career, this is your book too. But, most of all, this is an uplifting story of how an unpredictable God can surprise any of us with His goodness and love when we allow Him to make beautiful the shattered fragments of our lives.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Anatomy of the Soul ~ by Curt Thompson, M.D.

The brain, or mind, is wonderfully complex, mysterious and amazing. And despite what science has attempted to prove throughout the (recent) ages, neurology and spirituality are connected. Dr. Thompson does a great job of communicating the complexities of this subject in a way that is not difficult for the average person to understand.

We all have pasts, and those pasts have helped to shape our present time. Many times in a negative way and we don’t even realize it. By rewiring our brains, we can become happier, have more peace and experience more freedom. It can radically change our lives and our relationships. Dr. Thompson uses Scripture and science to show how it works together. He helps us to realize how much God loves us, and how to become more like the person He created us to be. With this book it is easy to see how truly fearfully and wonderfully made we are.

This wonderful book is a great tool to have and to use. Dr. Thompson includes examples and exercises to be used to help us to apply the material to our own lives. I liked it very much.

This book was provided to me for review by Tyndale House Publishers.


Anatomy of the Soul

Curt Thompson, M.D.

Do you want to improve your relationships and experience lasting personal change? Join Curt Thompson, M.D., on an amazing journey to discover the surprising pathways for transformation hidden inside your own mind. Integrating new findings in neuroscience and attachment with Christian spirituality, Dr. Thompson reveals how it is possible to rewire your mind, altering your brain patterns and literally making you more like the person God intended you to be. Explaining discoveries about the brain in layman’s terms, he shows how you can be mentally transformed through spiritual practices, interaction with Scripture, and connections with other people. He also provides practical exercises to help you experience healing in areas where you’ve been struggling. Insightful and challenging, Anatomy of the Soul illustrates how learning about one of God’s most miraculous creations—your brain—can enrich your life, your relationships, and your impact on the world around you.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Bringing Up Girls ~ by Dr. James Dobson

It is a scary time to be bringing up a child. Nonetheless, we are doing it. So I was thrilled when I had the opportunity to read and review Bringing Up Girls by Dr. James Dobson. In his long awaited and highly anticipated follow-up to Bringing Up Boys, Dr. Dobson tackles the issues that are plaguing girls today. He discusses the importance of safe, healthy and nurturing familial relationships (with an emphasis on mothers and fathers in different ways) and the ways we can help our daughters to grow up well in this oftentimes difficult and dangerous world.

Girls today are dealing with drugs, alcohol, bullying (emotional, physical and cyber), immodest and immoral behavior, clothing and expectations, and for the most part, an over-sexed and largely morally bankrupt society. By default, many of their hero’s are celebrities who at best are out of touch with reality and at worst are immoral, shallow and typically “bad girls” who appear to be hell-bent on their own destruction. Adolescence (and even pre-pubescence) for many girls is a cesspool of pain and trauma. In their pain they drink and do drugs, have eating disorders and are involved in cutting or other self-mutilation tactics. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Dr. Dobson shines light on the issues and offers sound advice. He reassures the reader that we as parents are not without control. We have more power than we may realize and our children love and listen to us. He offers statistics and cites other great sources to back up his claims. In addition to his own book, he offers parents many other resources to refer to – some that are his, some that are not. His words are real, sometimes somber and other times humorous.

If you have a daughter, this book will speak to your heart and offer you wisdom and encouragement – especially when it comes to dealing with emotions and hormones! It will help you to navigate the murky waters of feminine maturation. If you don’t have daughters, but know someone who does, this would be a great gift that may be appreciated more than you could even know.

This book was provided to me for review by Tyndale House Publishers.


Bringing Up Girls

By Dr. James Dobson

Bringing Up Boys by parenting expert and best-selling author Dr. James Dobson was, and continues to be, a runaway hit, selling more than 2 million copies to date. Now, Dr. Dobson presents his highly anticipated companion book: Bringing Up Girls. Based on extensive research, and handled with Dr. Dobson’s trademark down-to-earth approach, Bringing Up Girls will equip parents like you to face the challenges of raising your daughters to become healthy, happy, and successful women who overcome challenges specific to girls and women today and who ultimately excel in life.