Category Archives: Book Review

Review: You Can Shine So Bright

Title: You Can Shine So Bright
Authors: Jinger & Jeremy Vuolo
Illustrator: Naomi C. Robinson
Publisher: WorthyKids
ISBN: 978-1-5460-1381-5

“One act of love or kindness can change the world. Let your light shine!” states the back jacket cover of Jinger and Jeremy Vuolo’s children’s book, You Can Shine So Bright.

~ What ~
This thirty-two-page oversized hardcover with a matching jacket targets children ages four to seven years old who like to learn about letting their light shine by loving others. With no scary scenes, it contains easy-to-understand colorful illustrations on almost every page. A simplistic font covers the pages.

Written by the television couple who promotes their faith and values, this book teaches young ones about the Biblical fruits of the spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23 of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. With engaging artwork that includes many nationalities, there are usually four-line rhymes about the topics along with two-line rhyming statements. The story reminds us how God loves us so we should love others as we shine in the world.

~Why ~
This is a lovely way to encourage children to care for and love others, especially by befriending others, sharing toys, giving of ourselves, and helping one in need. I appreciate the drawings were interesting and included a boy in a wheelchair in some of them.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like a book that mentions God and Jesus may not approve of this one, but both are pivotal to letting our love shine. Some children with visual stimulation issues may not like a couple of the illustrations as they may be too busy, but they will keep a child entertained.

~ Wish ~
I wish all pronouns of God and Jesus were capitalized for reverence.

~ Want ~
If you want a book that helps little ones learn about the many Biblical fruits of the spirit, this read will wet their tender minds to want to shine like God does.

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

#Hachette #WorthyKids #JingerJeremyVuolo #YouCanShineSoBright #NaomiCRobinson #ChildrensBiblicalFruitsoftheSpirit

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

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

Review: Adventure’s Invitation

Title: Adventure’s Invitation
Author: Cheri Swalwell
Publisher: Cheri Swalwell
ISBN: 9798670379786

“Life isn’t lived during the happily-ever-after anyway — those are celebrated because of the lessons learned during the tough stuff,” Holly is told in Cheri Swalwell’s novel, Adventure’s Invitation.

~ What ~
As the first book in The Redemption of Green Pines series, this story focuses on a young woman trying to overcome grief and resentment when life does not turn out the way she had planned it. With no profanity but topics of premarital sex, pregnancy, and death, it may not be appropriate for immature readers. While the beginning has a list of characters, the ending includes an excerpt of the next book in the series.

In this tale based in Indiana that spans more than ten years, college-aged Holly is jilted when her perfectly planned dreams abruptly end her anticipated happily-ever-life with her true love. As she tries to pick up the emotional and spiritual pieces, she discouragingly sees her family and friends move on without her. It is only when she completely trusts God that she understands He is the one in control of her life.

~ Why ~
This heartbreaking but redeeming story brings out the worst and best in Christians who can be judgmental and legalistic to compassionate and loving. I appreciate how the author tenderly handled crossing God’s set boundaries and dealing with an unplanned issue. Although it is the first book in the series, it is a stand-alone read.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like a Christian-based story that centers on God’s grace and mercy as one deals with trials may not like this read. Others may not care for the anger and frustration portrayed in some of the characters, but they are raw and realistic.

~ Wish ~
Being one who is fixated on correct punctuation and grammar, I wish the book was professionally edited. I do not recall the eternal plan of salvation was clearly stated.

~ Want ~
If you want a wholesome series that promotes God’s plans are often not our plans viewed from a young woman struggling with forgiveness and acceptance, this first book in the series will invite you to read more.

Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

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

#CheriSwalwell #AdventuresInvitation #TheRedemptionofGreenPines #WholesomeRomance

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

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

Review: Deception

Title: Deception
Author: Patricia Bradley
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3576-0

“There’s always an explanation … even though you might not be prepared for it,” Madison is told in Patricia Bradley’s novel, Deception.

~ What ~
The fourth book in the Natchez Trace Park Rangers series, this three-hundred-and-ninety-two-page targets those who like romantic suspense that searches for the truth about the past and forgiving others. With no profanity but topics of addiction, murder, and death, it may not be appropriate for immature readers. The ending includes acknowledgments, an excerpt of another book by the author, her biography, and advertisements.

In this story, thirty-five-year-old Madison Thorn is an ISB ranger who switched from violent crimes to cybercrimes after killing an FBI agent in self-defense. When she has a case in Natchez, Mississippi, where she spent summers as a child, not only does she become involved in several shootings under mysterious circumstances, but also she must trust another man to help her. As the two work together to solve several crimes, they try to resolve their shortcomings while avoiding their feelings for each other.

~ Why ~
This quick read reinforces how the past’s secrets can be hard to accept yet, with forgiveness, they can be redeeming. I liked the protagonist’s determination to find who is trying to kill those she cares about as she learns to rely on God for answers. Although it is the fourth book in the series and I have not read any of the others, it is a stand-alone read.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like a Christian-based story that centers on God being with us always, prayer, and forgiveness may not like this read. Others may not care for the many characters and the roles they play as their lives intersect because it sometimes gets confusing.

~ Wish ~
I wish the eternal plan of salvation were clearly stated. I prefer all pronouns of God capitalized for reference.

~ Want ~
If you want to read a story that promotes forgiving pasts that are full of deception, this one with suspense will keep you engaged.

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

#Revell #PatriciaBradley #Deception #NatchezTraceParkRangersSeries

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/3va4ppB

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Review: The Stories of God (and Kiki)

Title: The Stories of God (and Kiki)
Author: Dave Connis
Illustrator: Amy Domingo
Publisher: WaterBrook
ISBN: 978-0-593-23357-3

“God thinks Kiki is awesome. He loves when Kiki does Kiki things. And because God thinks you’re awesome. He loves when you do you things,” Dave Connis writes in his children’s book, The Stories of God (and Kiki).

~ What ~
A part of the Made in His Image series, this forty-page hardbound targets three to seven-year-old children who like reading how God is writing our story. With no scary scenes, there are colorful illustrations on all the pages that contain one to two sentences each.

In this short tale, Kiki is a young child who is creative and imaginative as she is compared to God and how He made her like Him. Correlating her designing artwork and writing stories to the Almighty, it describes the similarities and differences between them. As she writes the biggest story ever, it reminds us how God is also writing a story of each of us plus making all things new in the future.

~ Why ~
This is a story that contains silly writing ideas of an inventive girl mixed with the awesomeness of God. Not only does it have an otter prince, sea cucumber, and gerblins, but it also mentions in passing the Bible stories of creation, the Garden of Eden, Queen Esther, Jesus’s resurrection, God being all-knowing, and a reference toward eternity.

~ Why Not ~
Some children will not like the confusing choppy sentences with the overly-busy artwork, especially if they have issues with visual stimulation. Others may not realize the book is more about feeling special in the way God made you and your God-given talents. With such a title, I expected this book to have Biblical stories in it, so I was disappointed at its minimal reference to Scripture. Often I did not understand what was going on in the writing and illustrations until I reread the book several times.

~ Wish ~
Although I appreciate the book mentioning how we are created in God’s image and He brings us joy, it does not give the plan of eternal salvation. Stating that God loves you “when you do you things” may be misconstrued as there is no right or wrong included.

~ Want ~
If your child does not mind a read that has a lot more of a little girl’s imagination and creativity than actual stories from the Word of God, this may be perfect for him or her, but I didn’t care for it.

Thanks to WaterBrook and Multnomah Book Launch Team for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

#WaterBrook #MultnomahBookLaunchTeam #TheStoriesofGodandKiki #DaveConnis #AmyDomingo

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

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Review: The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip

Title: The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip
Author: Sara Brunsvold
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-4027-6

“But he is a God of new life, Miss Kelley. A God of rescue and redemption,” Aidyn is told in Sara Brunsvold’s novel, The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip.

~ What ~
This three-hundred-and-sixty-eight-page targets those who like fiction that focuses on dealing with one’s end of life here on Earth. With no profanity but topics of alcoholism, dying, and death, it may not be appropriate for immature readers. The ending includes the author’s note, biography, and advertisements.

In this story, seventy-nine-year-old Clara is living her last days in a hospice facility, trying ardently to show God’s love one last time before she meets her Maker. When the hospitable yet ornery spitfire is interviewed by a twenty-two-year-old journalist for her supposed obituary, the dying woman has to step up her game one last time to help guide the girl with a youthful, naive ego to understand the power of faith, prayer, and trusting the Lord.

~ Why ~
This is a tear-jerker read that tenderly shows how a person who has given others love deals with dying. The quickly growing relationship between the two women is uplifting and caring while the cub reporter matures observing a spunky but graceful lady passing into eternity. Since I have volunteered with the elderly for years and have dealt with loved ones passing, I appreciate how accurate the process of dying was told.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like a Christian-based story that conveys peace and comfort at the end of life may not like this book. Others may not care for the slow start of the story or that there were some presumably stereotypical characters, yet both were necessary to the flow of the tale.

~ Wish ~
I do not recall the eternal plan of salvation that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, was buried, and rose again the third day was thoroughly explained. I prefer all pronouns of God capitalized for reference.

~ Want ~
If you want to read a story about an elderly woman dealing with mortality and a young woman finding new life, this one that promotes the extraordinary gift of companionship will be cherished.

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

#Revell #SaraBrusvold #TheExtraordinaryDeathsofMrsKip

This book can be purchased at https://.to/3AxCKm3

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Review: In the Shadow of His Wings

Title:  In the Shadow of His Wings
Author: Roslynn Long
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 978-0-7642-3948-9

“Each bird photograph in this book is a kind of ‘Ebenezer’ of my birding expeditions–they are reminders of the love and care of the Lord in even the smallest matters of life,” Roslynn Long writes in the introduction to her devotional, In the Shadow of His Wings: 40 Uplifting Devotions Inspired by Birds.

~ What ~
This square one-hundred-and-sixty-page hardbound targets those who enjoy a devotional devoted to birds and how they correlate to God. With beautiful photographs by the author, it contains Biblical stories and applications that are taken from the Holy Bible. The NIV, ESV, NASB, NKJV, and NLT versions are referenced.

From three to five pages each, the forty devotions have one to two full-color photographs each of all types of birds that include bluebirds, cardinals, ducks, eagles, geese, hawks, herons, hummingbirds, loons, mallards, meadowlarks, owls, sparrows, swans, and more. The devotions relate to various topics such as the Garden of Eden, the attributes and characteristics of God, what Jesus did for us, and how we can be more Christlike. Bible verses are gleaned from books like Genesis, I Samuel, Psalms, Jeremiah, Nahum, Matthew, Luke, John, Galatians, Colossians, Hebrews, James, and I John to name a few.

~ Why ~
Those who like birds and reading short devotions that focus on God will enjoy this book. The photographs are simple yet stunning as they display our Maker’s creativity. The readings blend how birds can remind us of the Lord’s love, care, and encouragement.

One devotional I appreciated was Don’t Look Down about Peter faltering when he walked on the water to Jesus, which is mentioned in Matthew 14. The writer ties the story to a mallard duckling having to jump off a wooden ledge; he looked at his mother instead of down. Only by focusing on Christ can we address our fears and take a leap of faith toward Him as we go through day-to-day trials.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not have a personal relationship with the Almighty may not be interested in this type of book. Others may not care for the many stories that include the author’s personal experiences, although they do revert to God.

~ Wish ~
Since there are no page numbers listed, it is hard to find a specific bird listed at the back of the book. Adding a ribbon marker would be ideal.

~ Want ~
If you are or know a bird lover who loves looking at photographs and reading about God’s feathered creatures, this would be a thoughtful and uplifting devotional.

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

#BakerPublishing #IntheShadowofHisWings #RoslynnLong #BirdDevotional

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/3ag5tRD

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Review: I Can Be Your Friend

Title: I Can Be Your Friend
Author: Pamela Kennedy
Illustrator: Lisa Reed
Publisher: WorthyKids
ISBN: 978-1-5460-0214-7

“We all need good friends.
Veggies know that is true.
You can be friends with others.
They can be friends with you,”
Pamela Kennedy writes in the VeggieTales children’s book, I Can Be Your Friend.

~ What ~
This twenty-page oversized board book with rounded corners targets children one to four years old who like having friendships with others. With no scary scenes, it contains simplistic illustrations of playful vegetables that keep the attention of little ones. An easy-to-read font covers the pages.

Part of the VeggieTales series, this one told in rhyme focuses on how to be a friend to others shown through a bunch of veggies that include asparagus, cauliflower, cucumbers, peas, squash, tomatoes, zucchini, and more. It promotes that to have a good friend, one must be a good friend by caring, sharing, listening, helping, and being nice. It reminds young ones that friends come in all colors and shapes, play together, take turns, brighten another’s day, and always come through when there are problems. The ending confirms that God is our all-the-time, very best friend.

~Why ~
This is a cute way to combine vegetables with big eyes as friends who have fun outdoors and indoors. I like the expressive but simple artwork that keeps a toddler engaged. I appreciate the reference to God being our best friend.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like a book that mentions the Almighty may not approve of this one, but He is only mentioned at the end of the book. Others may not like scenes of veggies playing on playgrounds or sick in bed, but it is iconic of the VeggieTales’ series.

~ Wish ~
Since this book is part of the VeggieTales franchise, adding their website link would be helpful for parents who want to know more about their videos, movies, television shows, and other merchandise.

~ Want ~
If you want a book that helps little ones learn how to make and be a friend, this one would be a great addition, especially if the child likes anything related to VeggieTales.

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

#Hachette #WorthyKids #VeggieTales #ICanBeYourFriend #PamelaKennedy #LisaReed

This book can be purchased at https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/i-can-be-your-friend-with-cd-veggietales/1132448874

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

Review: Peach Not Plastic Stengthening Shampoo Bar

PLASTIC-FREE SHAMPOO

~ What ~
This small 3-ounce bar of soap is for washing damaged or split-end proned hair without having to use a plastic container. Able to reuse as many hair washings of a 17-ounce bottle of shampoo, it cleans and improves hair elasticity as it lathers. Using protein-protecting monoi oil, its first five ingredients are sodium cocoyl isethionate, sodium lauryl sulfoacetate, cocadimopropryl hydroxysultaine, stearic acid, and cetearyl alcohol. It has nice honeydew melon scent and contains no SLES, ALES, parabens, or synthetic colorants. Instructions on the box recommend rubbing the wet bar over the crown of the head, using the fingers to work it into a lather, and rinse thoroughly.

~ Why ~
With long hair that is not chemically treated or colored, I like to use plant and flower-based shampoos. In using this, I found the soft smell pleasant but not obnoxious so that it could be used on men’s hair. The soap bar lathers with plenty of soft bubbles. I like how it is made to improve damaged hair. The bar would be ideal for travel use, especially if camping, hiking, or being in the outdoors for days.

~ Why Not ~
Some may not like the fruity scent as it seems catered to women more than men, but it does not linger long afterward. I prefer more moisturizing shampoos on my hair so the hair ends do not dry out.

~ Wish ~
It would be great if a scent could last in one’s hair for hours like when wearing perfume or cologne.

~ Want ~
If you are looking for a nice smelling, plastic-free shampoo designed to strengthen hair, this is a perfect choice, especially if you want to use something eco-friendly.

Thanks to Peach Not Plastic for this complimentary sample that I am freely evaluating.

#PeachNotPlastic #ShampooSoapBar #BarofSoapShampoo #StentheningShampooBar

This product can be found at https://amzn.to/3bwGKso

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Review: Boldly Going Somewhere

Title: Boldly Going Somewhere
Authors: Ron & Aimee Cooper
Publisher: Palmetto Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-68515-209-3

“The most important lesson was that there was always something interesting waiting ahead,” Ron Cooper writes in his and his wife’s book about traveling in a recreational vehicle, Boldly Going Somewhere.

~ What ~
This two-hundred-and-seventy-eight-page paperback targets those interested in the experiences of a retired couple living in a motorhome for two years while crisscrossing the United States several times. After a table of contents, the two- to ten-page chapters that include sporadic black and white photographs are written by either the husband or wife. Its ending includes ten Lessons of the Road and the authors’ biography.

This easy-to-read story covers a hundred thousand miles traveled in a twenty-nine-foot RV by a married pair who are determined to take time to see the sights and remote areas of America. With analytical and statistical viewpoints from Ron about the where and when of the trip, Aimee often focused on the how and why that include social interactions, day-to-day emotions, and marital frustrations. It is a collection of some of their adventures staying at over five hundred campgrounds, eating at over a thousand places, riding a bicycle in twenty-six states, and working out at over two hundred YMCAs while zigzagging along freeways, highways, ferries, and backroads.

~Why ~
Having parents who did the same thing of selling their home and traveling around the States for two years, I appreciate how these two learned to search out and find the beauty of our land and the good of our people. I liked their stories of camping, fishing, swimming, biking, and eating local food as well as their tips on toilet paper, trash, and rest stops. Adding the chapter on their best places to eat, stay, take a scenic drive, and see was helpful. Their trip promoted going with the flow and accepting challenges in life.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like to drive for more than four hours a day or deal with setting up or breaking down camp repeatedly may not like this read or consider such a trip. Others may find a bit of repetition when places and experiences were repeated between the two writers or not care for the “and then we went to” dialogue describing their travels. A few may not approve of the minor profanity, but it is not overdone.

~ Wish ~
While I liked the style of both writers, I felt this was their RV experience, so it has more importance to them and not the everyday reader. Including an index by state/city/town or topic may be helpful to those who want to use the book as a guide when traveling. With a few grammar and punctuation errors, it would be ideal if it were professionally edited.

~ Want ~
If you are considering pulling up roots and going on the road in America for a couple of years, this would be a perfect book for a novice RVer who, no doubt, will have your own stories to tell as you roll your rig around the next bend.

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

#RonAimeeCooper #BoldlyGoingSomewhere #PalmettoPublishing #2YearsRving #OntheAmericanBackroad

This book can be found at https://amzn.to/3xP127X

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

Review: Among the Innocent

Title: Among the Innocent
Author: Mary Alford
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-4026-9

“You’ll never belong to him or any other man. You’re mine. Do you hear me? You’re mine,” Leah is told repeatedly in Mary Alford’s novel, Among the Innocent.

~ What ~
This three-hundred-and-four-page romantic suspense targets those interested in a serial killer taunting a woman a decade later in a small Montana town. With no profanity but adult situations, topics of violence, brutality, and murder may not be appropriate for immature readers. The ending includes the author’s biography and advertisements

In this story, Police Officer Leah Miller still has internal demons chasing her from when a sweet-talking man lured her away from the Amish faith and killed her family. With physical, spiritual, and mental scars from the past, her life is upended when another Amish girl is found dead. With the help of a new police chief named Dalton, the two try to stop more murders but are always a step behind the killer, especially when they realize she is the target.

~ Why ~
This is a non-stop thriller with a hint of romance that keeps the reader wondering what happens next to Amish girls who are swayed by an Englisher. The tale of secrets moves along quickly as both protagonists try to overcome their pasts to locate the killer. I liked the blend of the simple way the Amish live with a police force that erroneously closed a murder case years ago.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like romantic suspense with a touch of Christianity about praying to God may not consider this book, although it is lightly mentioned. Others may not care for the scenes containing violence and death, but they are pivotal to the read. I guessed the ending about halfway through reading.

~ Wish ~
I normally do not read any Amish novels anymore as they are predictable in the romance department, yet this one’s tone was not pivotal to the story and could have been omitted. It would have been thoughtful to include the eternal plan of salvation in this story. I prefer all pronouns of God capitalized for reverence.

~ Want ~
If you like an Amish story that has a psychopath determined to follow up on a past crime and characters who keep secrets hidden, this would be an engaging read that includes a bit of romance.

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

#Revell #AmongtheInnocent #MaryAlford #AmishSerialKiller

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

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