Friday, August 28, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
“The Sweetgum Ladies Knit for Love” by Beth Pattillo is a characteristically complex novel. It follows the stories of several women in a knitting club. There, they talk about literature they are reading--particularly classics that involve some sort of romance. As the book progresses, the women juxtapose the lives of literary characters with their own. The ages and situations of the women vary, but all have struggles. One woman has lost her husband and not sure how to act around men anymore. Another is focused on her career and doesn’t know what to do when a boyfriend distracts her. A teen struggles to forgive a football player that doesn’t want to recognize their relationship in public to the popular kids. A wife juggles her priorities as her husband makes demands of her related to his occupation. A mother yearns to be a better provider and role model for her baby. The stories go on and on. While the book is a bit slow at first, eventually readers find their favorite character that most relates to them. This woman is the one that ends up making the reader turn the pages--eager to know what happens that that particular knitting member next.
“The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper” by Kathleen Y’Barbo is an enjoyable Western novel. Set in the late nineteenth century, the story follows the story of a well-off New Yorker who goes to Denver. She does this so her servant’s relative may marry and not have to be go be a governess in Denver. Catapulted into the new world of child rearing and subservience, Eugenia is beside herself. Eugenia must tame an unruly child named Charlotte, which is in itself an adventure. Speaking of adventures, Eugenia is an avid Mae West reader and desires to live a life akin to hers. In fact, each chapter includes an excerpt from the Mae West novels that parallels Eugenia’s experiences. The real drama ensues when Eugenia writes an indignant letter to Charlotte’s father. She tells him to come home and tend to his child instead of his business. Believing the governess was insulting his parenting skills, Charlotte’s father Daniel returns home ready to fire the girl’s governess. Eugenia and Daniel meet in a store, and neither know who the other is. Flirting ensues, and both characters are enamored by the new stranger they have just met. When Eugenia and Daniel learn who each other are, they are flabbergasted. So begins the back and forth melodrama. Both are infuriated with the other’s character but intrigued by the other’s physical appearance. In no time, Daniel makes his feelings for Eugenia clear. Also, a dear new friend of Eugenia claims to love Daniel (who does not pay her a wink of attention). Delicately, Eugenia also falls in love with Daniel. The town lets on, and both Daniel’s and Eugenia’s reputations are at stake when they kiss in public. Romantic displays of affection without being married are outrageous. The details in the novel are enough to allude to romance but not enough to be considered graphic. The couple goes only as far as kissing, and the honeymoon is only alluded to once they are married. In the end, Eugenia’s cover is blown throughout town when people realize she isn’t who she said she was. The whole secret was kept away from her family, as well as her soon-to-be husband banker. In a shocking turn of events, Eugenia leaves behind her New York life and fiance banker for a wild west adventure with her new husband Daniel.
These books were provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
"Farmer Dillo Shapes Things Up" by Jesse Adams is a fun book for little ones. Farmer Dillo, who is actually an armadillo fixes things that are misshapen around his farm. This is an excellent idea for little ones in terms of righting wrongs and cleaning up. When he fices each individual item, the reader is asked what shape the item is in and what it needs to be. The shapes are obvious and really hone in basic geometric skills for little children. The illustrations by Julie Speer and Bruce Polhamus are computer generated but still capture imagination. This book highlights the notion of doing what is right just for the sake of doing what is right.
"Girl in the Mirror" by Michelle Grover is a reflection book for teens, specifically teen girls. It centers on Proverbs 31 and many questions of self esteem / self worth. Each chapter starts off with an opener. This is usually a story, prompt, or some question directed to the reader. Next, there is a Focus Passage from the Bible that the teen is urged to look up. Facing the Facts is next. This is where teens assess what they just read and answer questions (lines are provided to write on). Then, the Closer Look dives more into the analytical and less into the details. The Time to Reflect segment takes the Bible theme and applies it to real life--specifically the teen girl's real life. An Additional Study passage is given for girls to look up if they are hungry for more. Finally, there is a Memory Verse for girls to either highlight or copy. While the topics tend to be similar and the Bible verses similar, this book is more of a journal for girls.
"Where I Belong" by Rebecca Kenney is about Miu. She is an Egyptian girl living contently with her family when she is one day whisked away by bandits. Treated terribly and seen as a slave, she is beside herself. Then, Abraham of the New Testament comes to buy her. While she is still a slave, she is treated better by Abraham than by the bandits. She comes to know Sarah, Hagar, Hagar's son, and other servants. Tensions rise when Sarah has a child. Then, Hagar's son (is seen as son of Sarah due to the concubine) is angry because he is not longer the heir. Young readers will be intrigued by Miu's journey as she learns about God. Her questions of why God allows slavery and why bad things happen to good people are answered in a most appropriate way for youngsters to understand. She learns that things happen for a reason and that, while she may not see the end picture, God does, and He knows best. Times may get tough, but God never leaves.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Katie Pasek’s “Sure-foot Sam in Jeopardy” is a fun little adventurous short story. Narrated by a British bulldog, the exploration and escapades have some humor injected into them. The bulk of the plot takes place in the Amazon Rainforest, and Pasek provides an artfully colorful treasure map on the first page. To make the story seem more realistic, the events begin in a British bank, where a young worker is sent on a mission from an investor to go seek out a lost family fortune. Brad claims he owns this fortune, and he is escorted by Sure-foot Sam and the dog Sir Reginald Higgins. Once the team leaves their country, the real fun begins. The bulldog first accounts for the tumultuous traveling, which involves much hiking and rafting. Danger ensues when dangerous animals enter the scenes, predominantly cold-blooded snakes. Waterfalls also heighten the suspense. Once closer to their treasure in the Amazon, the team encounters some natives. These prove to be quite friendly and even assist the team. This amiable scene teaches young ones to be accepting of other nationalities and denominations. Later, the real treasure is found in an ancient temple. While the temple’s origin is said to be polytheistic, no strong religious views are pushed upon readers. In fact, the temple serves more as an adventure site with old fashioned booby traps and hidden clues. Picture rocks falling from the ceiling and rope bridges collapsing. Towards the end of the short story, there is a little activity page for younger ones to complete. This serves to make sure youngsters kept track of what they read and that they can interpret it. There are even prompts for journaling. This is an excellent way for readers to feel involved in the story. The story ends with a shocking twist that is anything but predictable. The route to this twist is foreboding but well worth it. Readers finish this short story with blood pumping adrenaline, wishing it were a longer novel.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
"The Friends We Keep" & "Rising to the Call of Leadership" & “How Do You Walk the Walk You Talk?" + FREE Giveaway
“Rising to the Call of Leadership: A 6-Week, No-Homework Bible Study” by Kay Arthur, David & B.J. Lawson is a devotional book centered around the book of Samuel (both the first and second). The authors introduce what leadership is and how it is important, as well as the different types. Then, each week delves into the Scripture to teach readers valuable lessons. The verses are provided in the margins. These correspond to questions and active reading activities that include marking certain words and phrases. By the end of the book, readers learn how different men of the Bible took on the role of leader, and which one they should emulate.
“How Do You Walk the Walk You Talk? --A 6-Week, No-Homework Bible Study” by Kay Arthur is focused on the book of Ephesians (the letter). Arthur introduces the notion of acting out what you say, and he even gives helpful advice. Then, the Bible quotations in the margins give readers more to think on. He also provides questions with room in the page to answer, as well as active-reading strategies. Luckily, since the quotations are provided, readers do not have to worry about underlining and marking up their own Bible. At the end of this short book, readers learn who Jesus wants them to be, as well as what they should do to carry their own cross.
These books were provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.
*To enter to win a free copy of “The Friends We Keep,” leave a one-sentence response with why you should get the book. Full names are not required, but please leave your email. This contest ends August 15.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Monday, August 3, 2009
This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.
New York Times bestselling author Cindy Woodsmall is on tour, and she may be coming to a city near you! Don’t miss your opportunity to meet Cindy and have her sign her newest title The Hope of Refuge at one of the following events.
*Tuesday, August 11 7 – 8:30pm, Barnes & Noble, 5141 Peachtree Parkway, The Forum, Norcross, Georgia, 30092, (770) 209-4244
*Wednesday, August 12 7 – 8pm, Barnes & Noble Opry Mills, 515 Opry Mills Drive, Nashville, Tennessee 37214, (615) 514-5000
*Thursday, August 13 6 – 8pm, Barnes & Noble, 2540 Futura Pkwy. #135, Plainfield, Indiana 46168, (317) 838-7941
*Friday, August 14 6 – 8pm, Barnes & Noble, 1550 West 75th, Downers Grove, Illinois 60516, (630) 663-0181
*Saturday, August 15 1 – 3pm, Baker Books, 2768 East Paris Ave SE, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49546-6139, (616) 957-3110
*Sunday, August 16 2 – 4pm, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, 3700 Rivertown Parkway Ste. 2058, Grandville, Michigan 49418, (616) 531-1825
*Monday, August 17 7 – 8:00pm, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, 1739 Olentangy River Road, Columbus, Ohio 43212, (614) 298-9516
*Tuesday, August 18 7– 8:30pm, Joseph Beth Booksellers, 2705 E. Carson Street, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15203, (412) 381-3600
*Wednesday, August 19 6 – 8pm, Hackman’s Bible Book Store, 1341 Mickley Road, Whitehall, Pennsylvania 18052-4610, (610) 264-8600
*Thursday, August 20 1 – 3pm, Rachel’s Country Store (Amish dry goods store), 6352 McClays Mill Road, Newburg, Pennsylvania 17240, (717) 530-9452
*To enter to win a free copy of “The Hope of Refuge,” leave a one-sentence response with why you should get the book. Full names are not required, but please leave your email. This contest ends August 11.