Category Archives: Book Review

The Giving Manger

Title: The Giving Manger
Author: Allison Hottinger
Illustrator: Emily King
Publisher: WorthyKids
ISBN: 978-1-5460-3422-3

“This year we’ll offer gifts to Jesus by serving and helping others. You see, when you serve others, you also serve Jesus,” Anne and Ben are told in Allison’s Hottinger’s children’s book set, The Giving Manger.

~ What ~
This is a complete gift box set that contains a hardcover picture book, wooden manger, bundle of straw, and sturdy baby Jesus figure that can be used as a yearly tradition to celebrate the meaning of Christmas. The manger needs minor assembly, and the straw is to be used as a teaching prop while the baby compliments the birth of Christ. The book is thirty-two pages and includes an ownership page, story, and service ideas. The sophomoric cut-paper illustrations are faceless but easy to comprehend.

The book tells the heartwarming story of young Anne and Ben who reluctantly are given their father’s manger to promote serving others during the Christmas season. Disgruntled at first about the homemade gift, the two children learn that by loving and serving others we can be like Christ as they add the straw to the manger before Jesus’s birthday.

~ Why ~
This is a delightful gift box that not only has a charming book to read about thinking about others at Christmas time but also challenges young ones to willingly offer to help others and add pieces of straw to baby Jesus’s manager. I love this concept of it being a tradition. Adding the suggestions at the end for young children, teens, and families to do is thoughtful and creative.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not want to promote teaching a child about learning to be Christ-like may not appreciate its Biblical content. Others may not like the idea of being pushed to do something nice for someone else, yet it is geared toward preschool and older children who need to be taught in a positive manner to think about others.

~ Wish ~
I prefer all pronouns of God capitalized for reverence.

~ Want ~
If you are looking for a unique present about the real meaning of Christmas to give to a family with young children, this will be a cherished tradition to keep throughout the years.

Thanks to WorthyKids for this complimentary book that I am freely reviewing.

#WorthyKids #Hachette #TheGivingManger #AllisonHottinger #EmilyKing

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/3o2fPsN

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Filed under ***** Great - A Keeper, If You Borrow It, Give It Back!, Book Review, Childrens

Feels Like Home

Title: Feels Like Home
Author: Marian Parsons
Publisher: Worthy Books
ISBN: 978-105460-1583-3

“This journey is unique in that there is no time limit, there is no competition, and you are the one who decides where the finish line is,” writes Marian Parsons in the introduction of her book, Feels Like Home: Transforming Your Space from Uninspiring to Uniquely Yours.

~ What ~
This three-hundred-and-four-page hardbound targets mainly women who want to decorate their house with their own particular style. After an introduction and instructions, it contains eleven chapters and ends with prior design photographs, credits, acknowledgments, sources, an index, and the author’s biography.

In this coffee table book, the author draws the reader into finding his or her own artistic touches when designing or decorating their home. The first chapter centers on what a home feels like while the second chapter is on telling your story by adding character. The next five sections cover living space, dining rooms, bedrooms, workspaces, bathrooms, halls, laundry rooms, foyers, and mudrooms. The last three chapters involve custom furnishings, finishing touches, and loving your home for what it is.

~ Why ~
It is always nice to spruce up a room and make it feel like you uniquely designed it, and this read has a lovely layout of room-to-room suggestions and projects to make a house a customized home. I appreciate its many practical step-by-step projects such as picture frame molding, box beams, painting cabinetry and furniture, a wall mural, heirloom napkins, starched fabric walls, paneling, sandpaper primer, and more.

~ Why Not ~
Those who are not homeowners or tenants who cannot alter their abode may not have any interest in this book. Others may not like the decoration additions as they may not match their personal style. Since we are currently updating our master bath, I was disappointed that only seven pages were dedicated to the topic and they were all about professional remodeling.

~ Wish ~
With the book having many projects with detailed instructions, including a list of them at the beginning or end of the book would be helpful to quickly find a topic and turn to the page.

~ Want ~
If you are looking for a home decor book that has both professional and do-it-yourself ideas and projects, this is a keeper for those who want to decorate with individualized character and class.

Thanks to Worthy Books for this complimentary book that I am freely reviewing.

#Hachette #WorthyBooks #WorthyPublishing #MarianParsons #FeelsLikeHome #TransformingYourSpacefromUninspiringtoUniquelyYours

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/3ESsK6n

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Bedtime Snuggles

Title: Dream Big, My Precious One
Author & Illustrator: Patricia Reeder Eubank
Publisher: WorthyKids
ISBN: 978-1-5460-0070-9

“Mama cradles her child in the streaming moonlight–then a kiss and a prayer and a snuggly good night,” Patricia Reeder Eubank rhymes at the end of her children’s book, Bedtime Snuggles.

~ What ~
This twenty-two-page board book with rounded edges targets children ages two to four years old. With no scary scenes, it focuses on farm animals getting ready for bed and snuggling. Detailed and charming full-color illustrations grace the pages with easy-to-read font size.

In this cute story, farm animals are ready to call it a day and head to bed. Baby chicks, bunnies, a colt, raccoons, mice, lambs, foxes, owlets, and a child are hugged and snuggled with as their mothers tuck them in bed at the end of the day.

~Why ~
This is a nice tale to read to a young child who loves to look at animals that live on a farm and how they go to bed. I loved the artwork as it is well done and engaging for a toddler to view. It is thoughtful that the dog and puppy are in almost all of the opened pages so can be searched and pointed out by a young observer.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like books that mention prayer may not like this one, but there is only one reference and it does not state to pray to God. Others may find the two and three-syllable words too hard for beginner readers, yet it is geared toward toddlers.

~ Wish ~
I wish this book had illustrations that included fathers as mothers are mentioned all but one time.

~ Want ~
If you are looking for a lovely bedtime read for a preschooler, this one that promotes cuddling and snuggling will help relax and calm a little one as they drift off to sleep.

Thanks to Hachette Book Group, WorthyKids, and the author for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

#Hachette #WorthyKids #BedtimeSnuggles #BooktoReadatBedtime #PatriciaReederEubank

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/3nIcYoJ

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Filed under ***** Great - A Keeper, If You Borrow It, Give It Back!, Animals / Pets, Book Review, Childrens, Christian

The Mystery of Israel and the Middle East

Title: The Mystery of Israel and the Middle East
Author: James W. Goll
Publisher: Chosen
ISBN: 978-0-8007-9981-6

“Pray and take a stand for Israel because God wants to bless Jerusalem and her inhabitants with His peace and goodness,” James. W. Goll reminds the reader in his book, The Mystery of Israel and the Middle East: A Prophetic Gaze into the Future.

~ What ~
This three-hundred-and-twenty-page paperback targets those who want to be urged to pray for Israel and the Jewish people while recalling what God has done for His chosen people. Using mainly the New American Standard Bible, other versions referenced are the KJV and NIV. Beginning with a forword by Don Finto and acknowledgments, there are four sections of twelve chapters, complete with personal prayers. The ending includes three appendixes, notes, a glossary, and index.

In this quick read with four divisions that have three chapters in each, the first section is on prophetic beginnings that include the birth of Israel, when the Berlin Wall came down, and three types of awakenings involving Israel and the Church. The second part covers the prophetic and prayer with the appointed watchman, Israel’s regatherings, and anti-Semitism while the third involves prophetic promises through the three wives of Abraham and their descendants. The final section is about the future of Israel regarding Jerusalem, God’s road map, and the great hope. The ending has an overview of the country’s history, an insert by Don Finto, and ways to pray for Israel.

~ Why ~
Knowing that Israel is the apple of God’s eye and the focal point of mankind, I appreciate any book that concentrates on the country, especially in regard to past and future prophecy and prayer. The listing of the many miracles that prompted the Jews to return to their land was interesting as well as the correlation to fishermen, hunters, watchmen, and Jericho-type prayer warriors. I appreciated the attention to praying for the country that God has made unique from all others, and I enjoyed reading the history of Israel in the appendix.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ may not be interested in this read about Israel and the need to pray for her. Some may not agree with the charismatic or pentecostal approach that includes prophetic declarations, visions, angelic encounters, and dreams about the natural and spiritual realms. Others may question the title of the book as prayer is the main thread throughout it, containing only a chapter or two about the future of Israel.

~ Wish ~
While I totally agree with Goll’s plea to pray for Israel and the Jews, it would be ideal if he went a step further to explain more about what happens to believers after we are raptured and during the millennium and include information on the New Jerusalem. I wish the eternal plan of salvation was at the beginning of the book as it is pivotal to redemption and God’s grace.

~ Want ~
If you, like me, are looking up for our Savior to return at any minute, this is a refresher book about past events in Israel that were controlled by God and a tender reminder to pray ardently for God’s chosen people.

Thanks to Chosen and the publisher for this book that I am under no obligation to review.

#ChosenBooks #JamesWGoll #TheMysteryofIsraelandtheMiddleEast #PrayforIsrael #Charismatic #Pentacostal

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/3kieA6y

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A Midnight Dance

Title: A Midnight Dance
Author: Joanna Davidson Politano
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3690-3

“Even in the theater, Lord? Are you truly with me there too?” Ella ponders in Joanna Davidson Politano’s novel, A Midnight Dance.

~ What ~
At four hundred pages, this paperback targets those interested in a historical romance in the mid-nineteenth century involving the ballet. With no profanity, the topics of alcoholism, illness, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The ending includes the author’s notes, notes on the era, ten discussion questions, an excerpt for another book by the author, acknowledgments, the author’s biography, and advertisements.

In this Victorian-era tale set in London in 1833 based on Marie Taglioni’s reputation, personality, and fascination, young Ella has always felt she was born to be a dancer in the theater. Following her mother’s footsteps, she tries ardently to excel at ballet at the Craven Street Theatre. Following the rules as a safeguard, she insists she will take a different course when it comes to a theater romance. One encounter long ago with another dancer makes her determined to dance again with him, no matter what the cost. With the persistence and fortitude of a flirty choreographer, she finally realizes that she must give God the glory to learn from the past.

~ Why ~
I normally am not a fan of the ballet, but I found this book riveting in not only explaining how dancers had to stay on their toes to be successful on the stage but also how it orchestrated trusting God in all things. I loved the crescendo of interactions between Jack and Ella and how they resolved their past pains and disappointments. My sincere compliments to the writer on her expressive writing style which had me rereading sentences for the sheer pleasure of appreciating their exquisite wording.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ may not understand how important it is to rely on God and pray to Him. Others may not like a theatrical mystery that involves complications that may be hard to keep organized due to its twists and turns.

~ Wish ~
I prefer all pronouns of God were capitalized for reverence.

~ Want ~
If you like a romantic theater story of how one’s lack of worthiness is resolved by dancing for God, this shows a ballerina’s ache to be loved and belong both on and off the stage.

Thanks to Revell for furnishing this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

#Revell #AMidnightDance #JoannaDavidsonPolitano #DancingforGodNovel

This book can be found at https://amzn.to/2YXvoYl

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Filed under ***** Great - A Keeper, If You Borrow It, Give It Back!, Book Review, Christian, Fiction

The Healing of Natalie Curtis

Title: The Healing of Natalie Curtis
Author: Jane Kirkpatrick
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3613-2

“When was the last time you sang? When was the last time you danced? When was the last time you told your story?” Natalie is asked in Jane Kirkpatrick’s novel, The Healing of Natalie Curtis.

~ What ~
Based on a true story, this three-hundred-and-sixty-eight-page paperback targets those interested in American Indians’ music, lore, and legends. With no profanity, topics of mistreatment, abuse, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The beginning includes a list of characters while the ending has a glossary, author’s notes, acknowledgments, a dozen discussion questions, suggested additional reading, part of another novel by the writer, biography, and advertisements.

In this tale set in the early 1900s in America, twenty-six-year-old musical prodigy Natalie Curtis feels no joy, having not played the piano professionally for six years. To get out of her funk, she leaves the comfort of her New York family home and travels to the West, falling in love with the Native Americans’ singing, dancing, and story-telling. Criss-crossing the country multiple times, the music ethnographer makes it her goal to write a book of the eighteen tribes she visited and their music.

~ Why ~
This is an interesting rendition of how a broken woman became an observer and agent of change as she befriends indigenous people and heals from her past. I appreciated the detail of her not wanting to be a usurper of the Indians yet was the Song Maid of the West who approached President Roosevelt to challenge the United States government’s Code of Offenses that disallowed the natives to cherish their history through music.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like stories of the hardship of American Indians and how they were forced to assimilate into the white man’s world may not enjoy this book. Although Biblical references are mentioned throughout the read, it may not be of interest to those who do not believe in God. Some may think the author’s notes capture more of the protagonist’s life than the novel itself that covers only a ten-year period.

~ Wish ~
As with other books by the author, there is too much information and detail on the many places the main character visited and who she met to the point it was monotonous, especially the last quarter of the book. I also wish all pronouns of God were capitalized for reverence.

~ Want ~
If you like historical fiction based on how a woman found her calling loving American Indians who expressed their heritage through song, dance, and tales, this is a good read that focuses on their culture, love of the land, and ways of life.

Thanks to Revell for furnishing this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

#TheHealingofNatalieCurtis #JaneKirkpatrick #Revell #AmericanIndiansCodeofOffenses

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/38UxEB7

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Filed under **** Good - Will Be Glad to Pass On to Others, Biography, Book Review, Christian

Since You’ve Been Gone

Title: Since You’ve Been Gone
Author: Tari Faris
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3649-1

“Failure can be a good thing, but you have to learn from it and fail forward. Let the failure push you on to something else,” Leah is told in Tari Faris’s novel, Since You’ve Been Gone.

~ What ~
The third in the Restoring Heritage series, this three-hundred-and-thirty-six-page paperback targets those interested in a contemporary romance involving two couples in an inter-connected Midwest town. With no profanity, topics of physical abuse, premarital sex, and unexpected pregnancy may not be appropriate for immature readers. The ending includes acknowledgments, the author’s biography, and advertisements.

In this story set in Heritage, Michigan, Leah Williams has given up and returned home again, hoping to reestablish her grandfather’s local store. When she learns she has to work with Jon Kensington, her high school arch-enemy, to avoid a buyout of her business, she has hurdles to overcome emotionally and romantically. Jon, having had to abruptly take over his father’s company, hopes he can measure up to expectations and be successful. Both must learn what it means to never give up what is important. Meanwhile, a newcomer to the town who is trying to find himself falls helplessly in love with a woman who feels her past labels her and a teen learns to make better decisions.

~ Why ~
This is a fast, quick read about how four people have to move on from what is expected of them to what God wants for them. The underlying thread that the fear can make one believe they are worthless yet past failures can be sewn into a pattern of relying on Jesus for all things. I like the small-town environment that is charming and unassuming. Having the town’s hippo statue mentioned in all three books is fun and engaging.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not understand the charm of small-town living may not enjoy this read that focuses on letting go of worry and wanting to be perfect all the time. Those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ may not like the references of God’s grace, hope, and direction. The main character tends to be so fickle in making decisions that it may irritate readers.

~ Wish
Similar to prior books in the series, its kissing scenes are a bit overkill in their descriptions. I wish they were toned down a little and all pronouns of God were capitalized. This may be the final book in the series, yet there are enough loose ends that could produce another book.

~ Want ~
If you enjoy a small-town romance that shows how worry, perfectionism, and the fear of failure can overtake lives, this promotes finding lasting love while failing forward.

Thanks to Revell for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

#Revell #TariFaris #SinceYouveBeenGone #RestoringHeritage #FailingForward

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/3zPHmAv

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Filed under **** Good - Will Be Glad to Pass On to Others, Book Review, Christian, Fiction

Master Your Core

Title: Master Your Core
Author: Dr. Bohdanna Zazulak
Publisher: TCK Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-6316-111-62

“This book and training program will provide you with simple strategies to achieve all these benefits of a strong, stable, and resilient core,” Dr. Bohdanna Zazulak writes in the introduction of her book, Master Your Core: A Science-Based Guide to Achieve Peak Performance and Resilience to Injury.

~ What ~
At two-hundred-and-sixty-five pages, this paperback focuses on how to build and strengthen your core through physical, mental, and spiritual exercises. After a medical disclaimer, foreword, and introduction, there are two parts containing a total of thirteen chapters about the topic, followed by a conclusion, acknowledgments, glossary, author’s biography, and references.

With much detail and information, the first part of this book concentrates on understanding the core, its biomechanics, how it stacks up, how it relates to one’s sex, its connection with the mind and heart, a holistic approach, and its floor. This part includes how to identify the core, correct imbalances, posture, injury differences between the sexes, three types of meditation, cardio-workout, self-care/love, and mindful body scanning. The section covers breathing, awareness, stability, and empowerment plus personalization. Each chapter begins with a quote and ends with seeds of wisdom. There are fifty core strength and stability exercises added.

~ Why ~
Taking care of our bodies as we age is important to our well-being, and this book hones in on how to improve our core through many facets of care. Being in my mid-sixties and doing pilates almost daily, I appreciate the reiteration of working on the core to affect the entire body. Although standard to many programs, the exercises are described both in how they are implemented and how they improve the core.

~ Why Not ~
Those who have no interest in improving their health by paying more attention to their bodies’ cores will have no interest in this book. Due to religious reasons, some may not approve of the chapter on the mind that includes focused attention meditation, open monitoring meditation, transcendental meditation, and mindful meditation (I find praying to Jesus Christ remarkedly covers all of these issues).

~ Wish ~
Since the book seems to be geared more toward the younger, more active generations, I wish it mentioned those in their senior years and how to maintain a strong and sturdy core. Including daily, weekly, and monthly exercise charts would be advantageous and help one stay on track and encouraged. An index would be ideal so one could look up a topic or exercise and go directly to it for more information instead of having to search throughout the chapters.

~ Want ~
For those who realize their body’s core is the key to better health if maintained well, this is a helpful read, but one should be aware that it promotes new age concepts that may not truly be science-based.

Thanks to TCK Publishing and the author for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

#TCKPublishing #MasterYourCore #DrBohdannaZuzulak

Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/38Iq8ta

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Filed under **** Good - Will Be Glad to Pass On to Others, Book Review, Health

Aunt Ida Clare

Title: Aunt Ida Clare
Author: Michele McCarthy
Illustrator: Kerri-Jean Malmsten
Publisher: Elk Lake Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-6494906-81

“By cracky, you two learn lickety-split. Now, think about what salty words you can sprinkle around,” Rosalina and Roosevelt are told in Michele McCarthy’s children’s book, Aunt Ida Clare.

~ What ~
This fifty-page paperback targets children ages six to eight years old. With no scary scenes, it focuses on saying and thinking positively not negatively. Simplistic, colorful illustrations grace the full left side pages while the right sides have a small drawing with a decent font size wording. The end of the book has 29 descriptive vocabulary words and the author’s biography.

This story is about Aunt Ida Clare taking care of two siblings while their mother is away. When Rosalina and Roosevelt met the charismatic relative, they are fascinated by how she looks, talks, and acts. The woman with a verbose and artistic vocabulary gently corrects the children when they negatively comment on being hard on themselves by producing an antique salt shovel. Ida explains that words mean everything, bad thoughts should not be used, and to speak with positivity. She reminds them that God wants us to sprinkle truth, love, and goodness with every word we say.

~Why ~
This is a nice book for an inquisitive reader who wants to learn big and impressive words while keeping in mind that words can help or harm themselves or others. I like the fun, easy-breezy style of the aunt’s personification and how God is intertwined in their lives. The book confirms that speaking nicely to others is the best attitude to have.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like books that reference God may not be interested in this book. Others who are beginning readers may have trouble pronouncing and understanding the complicated four and five-syllable words, some of which they may never use in everyday conversation. Its content may be above some children’s educational level.

~ Wish ~
While I appreciated all the extensive words, it would be helpful if the vocabulary at the end of the book included pronunciations. I prefer all pronouns of God to be capitalized for reverence.

~ Want ~
If you are looking for a book that promotes salting our words and thoughts with positivity plus has interesting words to learn, this would be a fun read that also mentions Jesus.

Thanks to Christian Indie Publishing Association, Elk Lake Publishing, and the author for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

#CIPA #ChristianIndiePublishingAssociation #ElkLakePublishing #AuntIdaGrace #MicheleMcCarthy #KerriJeanMalmsten

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/3jJ30kt

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Filed under **** Good - Will Be Glad to Pass On to Others, Book Review, Childrens, Christian, Fiction

Under the Bayou Moon

Title: Under the Bayou Moon
Author: Valerie Fraser Luesse
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3751-1

“You’re the only one who’s come because you wanted to be here. You’re the only one I’ve felt was truly led to Bernadette,” Ellie is told in Valerie Fraser Luesse’s novel, Under the Bayou Moon.

~ What ~
This three-hundred-and-fifty-two-page paperback targets those who enjoy Christian romance with a Cajon flair. With no profanity, topics of loneliness, illness, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The ending includes a chapter from another book by the author, a note, acknowledgments, the writer’s biography, and advertisements.

Set in a fictitious town in Louisiana in the late 1940s, young Ellie Fields has left home to strike out on her own and find herself. Being young and naive, the idealistic woman secures a job teaching in the bayou where English is demanded as the only word spoken. Sensing the angst and fear of the children in her charge, not only does she learn how to circumvent a senator’s corrupt motives and laws of the land to help the children learn, but she falls in love with the land as well as a Cajun fisherman who must move on from the past.

~Why ~
This romantic story of acceptance and faith is a lovely read if you know little about the bayou and its heritage in Acaridan Louisiana. I appreciated learning the history of the French Canadians, their culture, and their way of living on stilts in the water. The addition of an old white alligator slipped in and out of the story effortlessly.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like fictions about the bayou that contain religious differences between Christian and Catholics may not be interested in this book. Others may find the romantic part of the story anti-climatic while some of its characters were stereotypical.

~ Want ~
If you do not know much about the Louisiana bayou and its people, this is an engaging read about finding love and oneself while dealing with life on the water, new-found friendships, and a legendary alligator.

Thanks to Revell for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

#Revell #UndertheBayouMoon #ValerieFraserLuesse #LouisianaBayouNovel

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/3Ctdvja

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Filed under **** Good - Will Be Glad to Pass On to Others, Book Review, Christian, Fiction