"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read."--Groucho Marx

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Cowboy Father by Linda Ford

Sweet, but Interesting Christian Love Story

Louisa Morgan spent last year in bed recovering, after almost dying from pneumonia.  Now, her family, that includes her mother and sisters, is struggling to survive during the depression, after the death of her father.  Her desire is to somehow add to the family income, taking care of all her doctor’s bills, but with her still precarious health, there is lettle she can do.  The town teacher refers her for a tutoring position.  Ellie is a young girl recovering from a fall that broke her leg.  Louisa realizes that Ellie has no desire to learn, and is spoiled by her guilt ridden father.  Determined to keep the job, Louisa uses all her creativity and God's help to intest Ellie, but not fall in love with Elliot, Ellie's father.

This sweet love story has enough interesting twists and turns to make it above average. If you enjoy Christisn love stories, you should definitely check this one out.

Received Galley from NetGalley.com

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Checks and Balances: A Look at the Powers of Government

Kowalski, K. M. (2012). Checks and balances: A look at the powers of government. Minneapolis, MN: Lerner.

Checks and Balances: A Look at the Powers of Government is an excellent addition to any elementary school library.  Checks and Balances explains clearly the balance of powers between the three branches of the United States Government.  Teachers could use the book in classes to clarify those powers in early civics lessons.  The pictures are current and clear including the current Supreme Court and president.  This is an excellent choice to update a library, and is written for third through fifth grade.

Received Galley from NetGalley.com

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Halflings by Heather Burch

Burch, H. (2012). Halflings. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Evil targets 17 year old Nikki beginning with an attach from the Hounds of Hell, but some strange great looking guys save her life out of the blue.  Nikki discovers that the young men who saved her are her guardians, but not guardian angels.  Suddenly, a new, old friend appears in her parent’s life, then insinuates himself in hers.  The story races from the beginning, as Nikki discovers secrets in her life and taking the reader on a wild ride that doesn’t stop at the end of the book…it only pauses. 

I cannot wait for the next book in Burch’s series to continue the wild ride.  A Christian answer for the Twilight phenomena, though Halflings is Young Adult, it will appeal to anyone who enjoys paranormal novels with a romantic element.  

Received Galley from NetGalley.com

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tall: Great American Folktales Edited by Donnie Lemke

Lemke, D. (2012). Tall: Great American Folktales. North Mankato, MN: Capstone.

Tall: Great American Folktales is a wonderful retelling of the tall tales of Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill, John Henry, and Johnny Appleseed in graphic novel format.  It is sure to be a hit, as well as fit a requirement in the TEKs, here in Texas.  The illustrations are superb and the stories true to the old tales.  Tall recreates the tales in a ways that the reader will remember them for years.  This is a definite purchase for my early elementary library.

Received Galley from NetGalley.com

Honor Redeemed by Loree Lough

Lough, L. (2012). Honor redeemed. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.

Honor Mackenzie became a firefighter to honor her fiancĂ©’s memory after he died in 9/11.  She was working hard to succeed in the fire department, when an investigative reporter published stories of Honor sleeping her way to the top.  Honor resigned to stay out of the limelight, training and working with rescue dogs. 
When reporter Matt Phillips meets Honor at the scene of a jet crash, they begin a rocky relationship due to the stories and Matt’s desire to protect his twin boys.  Matt uses his investigative skill to reveal the truth, but Honor’s past comes between them anyway.  Though the second in Lough’s First Responders Series, Honor Redeemed can stand alone.

The story is interesting and the characters pull at the reader's heart as they try to make difficult decisions.  The book leaves the reader with an overall sense of sadness as the main characters attempt to work out deep personal problems.  The story wraps up quickly, without much resolution.

Received Galley from NetGalley.com

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Canal House Cooking Volume No. 7: La Dolce Vita

Hamilton, M., & Hirsheimer, C. (2012). Canal House cooking volume no. 7: La
     dolce vita.Open Road.

Canal House Cooking Volume No. 7: La Dolce Vita is not a cookbook, it is dream travel. Elissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirshemeyer describe their trip to Italy in search of the Italian food made in home kitchens. While there, they lived in a small town in a small home and traveled the area eating the foods of the small cafes and inns or picking up fesh food in the markets.  They would take food home and preparing it in a similar manner.  In this way, they learn the daily diet of the Italian people, enjoying the Italian culture, and soaking up knowledge of home food preparation.  I realize that they were working, but they make it seem so wonderful and describe it so beautifully, that from my armchair, I visualize myself on their trip.  For me, this is the ultimate in armchair travel. The cookbook itself is very interesting, and their companion website describes palces to find difficult items. Unfortunately for me, this type of cooking is not possible because of time and scheduling, but the book is a joy to read. Maybe this summer, I can utilize some of their recipes. This book is for serious cooks and those who dream of being serious.

Received Galley from NetGalley.com

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Accidental Bride by Denise Hunter

Hunter, D. (2012). Accidental bride, The.

Shay Brandenberger’s life is difficult.  She is a single mom, her ranch is close to default, and her relationship record is pitiful.  A friend pushes her into participating in a wedding reenactment where the groom turns out to be the man who left her at the alter years ago.  The situation turns serious when the reenactment turns out to be a legal marriage.  Travis McCoy, the groom, returned specifically to attempt to reconnect with Shay, and decides to take advantage of the accidental marriage.  They both seek God’s will in this series of events as it winds through their lives.

Although the premise is farfetched, the story is good clean fun.  Both main characters wrestle with real life problems and well described characters.  I particularly liked the couple seeking the Lord’s guidance and striving toward unity as they work through their personal feelings and problems. I rate this an above average romance.

Received Galley from NetGalley.com

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Cherry Blossom Capers

Putman, C., Conroy, G., Devine, F., & Sowell, L. (2012). Cherry blossom capers.
     Uhrichsville, OH: Barbour .

Set in Washington, D.C., Cherry Blossom Capers tells the story of four women in four stories that are connected, but separate.  The four women live in condominiums that allow them to keep friendly track of each other.  Tara Whitley is an assistant chef at the White House who runs into an old friend searching for a breach in the security there.  Ciara Turner is an attorney fighting for women and children in divorces when she and another attorney become prime witnesses in the murder of their old employer.  Samantha Steele a budding archeologist is caught up in a forgery scheme at Mount Vernon. Susan Holland stumbles into danger when she inherits a mansion from her uncle.  All four women depend on each other and God to see them through to safety, encountering love interests along the way.

Christian fiction is often bland and uninteresting.  Cherry Blossom Capers has interesting characters, and interesting action to keep the reader involved.  All the characters suffer trials and stumbles in their day-to-day lives as they attempt to live according to their beliefs.  Possibly the four different authors lend the characters such separate personalities that they it gives the story more depth and perhaps one author might achieve.  Interesting book, written with an interesting format.  I really enjoyed it. 

Received Galley from NetGalley.com

Friday, January 13, 2012

Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski

Lenski, L. (2011). Strawberry girl (e-book).

Birdie moves to Florida with her family to build a farm, battling weather and neighbors opposing fences.  With work and neighborly effort, Birdie’s family finally makes the strawberry crop into profits and settles things with the neighbors.  The book contains descriptions of poor choices between the neighbors and the parents, as well as the strong dialect of the day.  

In Strawberry Girl, Lois Lensky painted a detailed picture of the lives of Floridians in the middle 1900’s.  It is astonishing to realize that not so many years ago, people were still speaking so poorly and education level so low in so many areas of the United States.  While the story accurately depicts the time, the dialect may cause many younger readers to stumble loosing much of the story.  This is an excellent read-aloud and better for later elementary due to the feud and the dialect.  The e-book contains an illustrated biography of Lenski.

Received Galley from NetGalley.com

Thursday, January 12, 2012

April Morning by Howard Fast

Fast, H. (2011). April morning. New York, NY: Open Road.

The setting is April 19, 1775 and the main character is a young boy, stretched under the demanding thumb of his father, one of the town selectmen.  When news comes that the British are coming, the boy wants to participate, only to see his father shot.  The book follows the boy as he grows up in a single day, working to defeat the British.

This is an excellent choice for a history or English class since the protagonist is a teenaged boy, and all the emotions of the day are wrapped throughout the story.  The book is a little slow to start, and the vocabulary is higher level, but the story is definitely worth the effort.  Teens can feel the frustration of the boy as he strives to be a man, then stumbles into terrorizing territory when the British begin shooting.  I would recommend this for school, but for personal reading as well.  Fast captured the astonishment and shock of the colonists expertly.  Great reading. 

Received Galley from NetGalley.com

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

SAVEUR: Easy Italian

The Editors of SAVEUR magazine. (2011). SAVEUR: Easy Italian. Retrieved from

The editors of SAVEUR magazine put together this e-book for iPad, iPhone, and iPod available through the Apple IBook store for $2.99.  This is an interesting formatting decision and an astonishing price.  The introduction claims that Italian food is inherently easy to make.  This, too, is an astonishing claim for this girl from Texas.  While my family enjoys pasta to excess, they would not have much knowledge of other Italian foods, so with this publication we have now eaten homemade Pesto Focaccia that was amazingly easy to prepare using my food processor and my large mixer with a dough hook.  We also ate the Bolognese Sauce from page 38, but with purchased pasta.  I will definitely use more of the recipes since the two that I have tried are absolutely wonderful.  The recipes were easy to follow and clearly written, but they were time consuming.  Do not translate the word ‘easy’ to mean ‘quick.’  I will utilize more of the recipes with time, but at $2.99, this cookbook definitely gives you value for the price.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Through My eyes: A Quarterback's Journey.

Tebow, T., & Whitaker, N. (2011). Through my eyes: A quarterback’s journey. Grand Raids, MI: Zondervan.
As a young boy Tim Tebow had dreams, dreams that he began working to achieve at an extremely young age.  In his book, Through My Eyes, Tim tells of his life as the youngest son of missionaries, homeschooling, and living on a working farm.  Tim began working to excel at sports through extra training at home both alone and with his brothers.  The book includes descriptions of many of Tim’s games from high school through college from his point of view.  Even though Through My Eyes centers on football, the book includes a personal analysis of what it takes to achieve high levels of success.  Tim’s accomplishments result from his hard work and drive, a strong family structure and support system, as well as his strong Christian faith.  

I totally enjoyed Tim’s story since it is always such a joy to me to hear about someone setting goals and reaching them.  I would recommend this book for anyone who likes football, young people who have dreams, and parents who want to help them reach those dreams.  Thoroughly uplifting and enjoyable story. Don't think that it is only for those who love football.  

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge

Dungy, T., & Whitaker, N. (2011). The one year uncommon life daily challenge. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House.

The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge is a devotional written on the rotating themes of core, family, friends, potential, mission, influence, and faith.  Since the devotions stand alone, the book can be started at any time of the year without confusion.  Each devotion has a scripture and a way to apply or act on the information and a challenge to “do more for God’s Kingdom.”

I found the devotions powerful and I enjoyed the format.  The book begins with information about how to use the book.  I particularly appreciated the final paragraph that encourages the reader to keep on going and not try to catch up after missing a day, but to “spend time with God today.”  I believe that this will make a great addition to a year, culminating in a stronger Christian life and relationship with God.

I received this galley through Netgalley.com.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Simply Great Breads

Leader, D., & Chattman, L. (2011). Simply great breads: Sweet and savory yeasted treats from America’s premier artisan baker. Newton, CT: Taunton Press.

Simply Great Breads is a wonderful authority of some of the lesser-known breads that home cooks do not often cook.  If you make your own bread, you will enjoy Simply Great Breads, because your repertoire will compound.  Daniel Leader is a professional baker, at his own bakery, and, in Simply Great Breads, he included recipes he uses in his own home.  When I travel, I realize that those of us who do not live in areas where we can easily purchase excellent artisan breads miss this pleasure.  Now, if you have the time, you can make your own.  Leader includes English muffins, bagels, and yeast pancakes.  Even if you have never baked bread before, the recipes are detailed enough that a beginner bread maker will achieve excellent results.

Happy New Year!