Category Archives: Book Review

These Nameless Things

Title: These Nameless Things
Author: Shawn Smucker
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3530-2

“It’s my fault he’s not with us. There’s no way around it. How could I let him go back on his own?” Dan guiltily questions himself in Shawn Smucker’s novel, These Nameless Things.

~ What ~
This three-hundred-and-thirty-six-page paperback targets those who like other-world allegories about coming to terms with one’s past and accepting mistakes. The topics of dispair, mental abuse, torture, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The book ends with the author’s note, a chapter from another book by the writer, acknowledgments, the author’s biography, and advertisements.

Set in a small village at the base of a mountain, Dan and other survivors who had escaped unspeakable torture must make the decision to return for Dan’s brother or head east for a new life, hopefully free of pain and guilt. When a strange woman arrives from the other side of the mountain and uncovers the residents’ secrets, shame, and lies, Dan must find grace through the memories that haunt him.

~ Why ~
I like that this fiction read shows how the protagnist has to find his inner self while dealing with moral dilemnas. Since it is written in first person, it divulges the raw reality of how guilt eats away at the soul.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not care for a story that involves torture and abuse may not be interested in this book, but they are only alluded to and not described in detail. Some may not like that it is lightly based on Dante’s Inferno. Those dealing with trusting others as they work through their guilt may find it uncomfortable.

~ Wish ~
I wish the ending was not rushed and had more closure. I found loose ends in some of the characters and how they dealt with their own situations.

~ Want ~
If you enjoy mysterious fiction that is from a dark inner world, this is a good read that may force you to reflect on how you handle the guilt of your past.

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

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

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The Lake and the Secret Sweetheart

Title: The Lake and the Secret Sweetheart
Author: Judith Grimme
Publisher: Encourage Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-9985592-8-5

“Who do you think that card came from? It’s so mysterious, don’t you think?” Simone asks Lucy in Judith Grimme’s children’s book, The Lake and the Secret Sweetheart.

~ What ~
This one-hundred-and-fifty-six-page paperback targets nine- to twelve-year-old children who like stories about family relationships and friendships during the 1960s in the Midwest. With no profanity or adult situations, it would best be read out loud to some readers due to occasionally complicated wording. The ending includes extras and activities, the author’s biography, information about other books in the series, and content ratings.

The final of a four in The Front Porch Diaries, this series chapter book set in Indiana continues with third-grader Lucy and her family going to a cottage by the lake and having her best friend, Simone, and her grandparents visit too. Not only does Lucy have to overcome her past fears, but she wants to know who sent her a special valentine’s card. With her friend soon returning to France, the two cherish their last few weeks together.

~ Why ~
This is a nice read about the past when kids spent ample time outside, enjoying the dog days of summer swimming and fishing with family. I appreciate the references to games like Monopoly and Little League baseball along with G.I. Joe dolls, Cracker Jacks, McDonald’s, and various consumer items. Having read the 2 other books in the series to our six-year-old granddaughter via Facetime, she is anticipating hearing this one next.

~ Why Not ~
Children who do not like chapter books or series that are written about how it was over fifty years ago may not appreciate this read. Others may not be ready to learn about boy/girl relationships. Some younger readers may be concerned about the fear of swimming or do not like the mention of God and the Bible. It is helpful if you read the books in order to understand the background (we did not read the second book but wish we had since this one relates to its story).

~ Wish ~
I found the book may be too advanced for a first grader due to the protagonist’s fears and love interest. There were far fewer French words in this one compared to the first book. The series should be professionally edited.

~ Want ~
If your elementary-school-age child likes chapter books that are in a series, this would be a fun read if he or she wants to know about someone having a crush on them, overcoming a past fear, and praying about being afraid.

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

#TheLakeandtheSecretSweetheart #JudithGrimme #TheFrontPorchDiaries #EncouragePublishing #Bookcrash

This book can be found at https://amzn.to/2Nt6pTG

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Dream within a Dream

Title: Dream within a Dream
Authors Mike Nappa and Melissa Kosci
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-2646-1

“Trudi, I can’t let you go. I need your help,” Dream begs his new friend in Mike Nappa and Melissa Kosci’s novel, Dream within a Dream.

~ What ~
This four-hundred-and-sixteen-page paperback targets those who like suspense involving mobsters, artwork, and shattered relationships. Containing the slang words such as darn, the topics of physical abuse, torture, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The book ends with the authors’ biographies and advertisements.

Part three of the Coffey and Hill series, Trudi may be divorced from Samuel, but somehow both still care enough about each other, especially since he works as a CIA operative who is trying to avoid his past and she, a private investigator, is dragged into helping Dream, an accused murderer who has a knack for quoting random facts. As the pair try to protect Dream, they are caught up searching for stolen art that everyone including the Boston mob wants.

~ Why ~
This is a fast read that not only has the chase to find stolen artwork but also how two past lovers try to reconnect their hurtful paths. As each is forced to trust one another along with others, the palette is painted by a frightened yet highly intelligent artist determined to find answers, no matter the cost. I liked the first-person writing by Dream and pace of the book, which could be read as a stand-alone novel.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ may not like the Biblical references, but they are not too often or deep. Others may not care for a story that involves torture and abuse. Some may wish they knew more about the protagonists’ background from the prior books in the series.

~ Wish ~
I prefer Christian books not to have slang words as they detract from the story. I wish the ending was not rushed and a bit hanging.

~ Want ~
If you enjoy mystery and suspense while gleaning the truth, this is an engaging read, especially some of the interesting tidbits of random facts spread throughout.

Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars

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

This book can be found at https://amzn.to/2YbnPu7

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Mr. Inker Finds a Home

Title: Mr. Inker Finds a Home
Author: Christina Francine
Illustrator: Ksennia Kudriavtseva
Publisher: Waldorf Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-64764-880-0

“Your friend will have something solid from you to hold, and maybe he will write a letter back to you,” Mr. Inker tells Rafiq in Christina Francine’s children’s book, Mr. Inker Finds a Home.

~ What ~
Part of the Waldorf Readers series, this forty-four-unnumbered-page paperback targets children ages six to twelve years old who enjoy stories about a talking pen. With no scary scenes, it may be best read out loud to beginner readers due to some complicated wording. Simplistic illustrations grace half the pages.

In this short story, a writing pen named Mr. Inker is given as a birthday gift to a boy named Rajiq. When the pen begins to talk, the child is excited but leary as he is new to the country and misses his friends from Pakistan. As the writing tool coaxes the kid to write a couple of jokes, he also suggests writing to his old friends, hoping he will get a response.

~ Why ~
Since we have a six-year-old granddaughter who is learning to read, this is an apropos story that stresses how writing is not only fun, but important in keeping in touch with others. I like that it focuses on writing instead of typing letters on a computer. With a drawing on one side of the open pages, the opposite sides have bold font wording against white backgrounds, making them easy to read.

~ Why Not
Those who do not like reading may not like this book. Others may struggle with the three-and four-syllable words, and some may not understand the corny jokes. Those who prefer picture books may not like the rudimentary drawings.

~ Wish ~
Although the illustrations are understandable, it would be nice if there were more detail to each of them. There are a few punctuation errors that could be corrected.

~ Want ~
If you are looking for a book about a talking pen that finds its home with a young boy who is new to America and misses his friends, this may be a good way for a young reader to adjust to a new life while keeping in touch with the past.

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

#WaldorfPublishing #ChristinaFrancine #WaldolfReaders #Bookpleasures #MrInklerFindsaHome

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/37ihUq3

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Discipling Your Grandchildren

Title: Discipling Your Grandchildren
Author: Dr. Josh Mulvihill
Publisher: BethanyHouse
ISBN: 978-0-7642-3129-2

“Grandparents are fellow laborers created to point grandchildren to Christ and help raise them to spiritual maturity,” Josh Mulvihill with Jen Mulvihill and Linda Weddle writes in his book, Discipling Your Grandchildren: Great Ideas to Help Them Know, Love, and Serve God.

~ What ~
This one-hundred-and-ninety-two-page paperback is targeted toward both male and female grandparents who have a burden to help their grandchildren get closer to God. After a foreword by Wess Stafford and an introduction, there are eleven chapters about the topic, followed by notes, the authors’ biographies, and resources.

Promoting meaningful connections with grandchildren, this book is written by a father with the help of two women who are parents and a grandmother. The first chapter discusses what the Bible says while the second contains gifts, encouragement, and prayer tips. While the third section is about intentional meals, the fourth is teaching and telling others about Christ. Reading, memorizing, sharing, and serving are in the fifth to seventh chapters, and relationship building, the home, the church, and during holidays complete the book.

~ Why ~
Having four grandkids under the age of six, I know how vital it is to be proactively telling them about Jesus and all He has done. I like the many lists for gift-giving, graduation gifts, suggestions of books by age, topical Scriptures to pray, teaching skills, formats of the plan of eternal salvation, overnight visits with games, and holiday ideas with teaching, crafts, and activities.

~ Why Not ~
Those who are not grandparents or do not have children may have no interest in this book. Others who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ may not understand the value its contents. Seasoned parents looking for new ideas for their grandkids may feel the concepts are common and have been already done by them decades before.

~ Wish ~
Since we live out of state from our grandchildren and have to rely on Facetime during COVID-19, I found the book contained only a few long-distance suggestions. It is mainly geared for Christians and their church-going families with few tips for those who have to deal with non-believing children and their offspring.

~ Want ~
If you are looking for grandparent-tested and parent-approved read about how to disciple your grandkids from toddler to teen, this may give you some good ideas, but it may not help if your grands do not know Christ or do not live nearby.

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

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/3cCxKg7

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What Momma Left Behind

Title: What Momma Left Behind
Author: Cindy K. Sproles
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3704-7

“Answer me, Momma! Where am I gonna put these youngins?” Where?” Worie cries out in Cindy K. Sproles’s novel, What Momma Left Behind.

~ What ~
This two-hundred-and-fifty-six-page paperback targets those who like historical suspense involving orphaned children fighting to stay together to survive. Containing slang words such as darn and hell, the topics of illness, rape, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The book ends with the author’s note, author’s biography, and advertisements.

Set on the rural Sourwood Mountain in Tennessee in 1877, seventeen-year-old Worie Dressar is devastated when her mother makes a personal sacrifice that she cannot understand. When homeless children appear at the young girl’s doorstep, Worie has no other recourse them to take them in and feed them. With the help of an awkward pastor and friends with secrets, the out-spoken girl becomes closer to her charges and is forced to make decisions that will alter her dreams and wishes.

~ Why ~
This is a precious, tearful read written in first person that shows the love, angst, and trust one must have in another when it comes to uncovering the past and dealing with the present. I love how Sproles describes her protagonist as broken, bold, and bewildered when learning about God’s timing, forgiveness, and acceptance. The loss of parents and family members due to typhoid fever and influenza over a hundred years ago is tragic and sad.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ may not like the Biblical references, calling on God for His protection, or confessing past sins. Others may not care for a story that involves the hardships and suffering children endured as it is discouraging and depressing. Some may get frustrated with the intentional misspellings and incorrect grammar that convey the uneducated language of poor mountain living.

~ Wish ~
I prefer Christian books not to have slang words as they detract from the story. It would be thoughtful to have included the complete plan of eternal salvation.

~ Want ~
If you enjoy tenderly told stories of heartbreak, redemption, and trust from the 1800s in the Appalachian Mountains, this will make you realize how family bonds are tied tightly, even when sorrow and hurt abounds.

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

This book can be found at https://amzn.to/2XRrT1i

 

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The Farm and the Risky Ride

Title: The Farm and the Risky Ride
Author: Judith Grimme
Publisher: Encourage Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-9985592-7-8

“I cannot wait, either! That will be such a fun holiday! But I’m still a little nervous about riding horses,” Simone confides to Lucy in Judith Grimme’s children’s book, The Farm and the Risky Ride.

~ What ~
This one-hundred-and-forty-four-page paperback targets nine- to twelve-year-old children who like stories about family relationships and friendships during the 1960s in the Midwest. With no profanity or adult situations, it would best be read out loud to some readers due to occasionally complicated wording. The ending includes extras and activities, the author’s biography, information about other books in the series, and content ratings.

The third of four series chapter book set in Indiana continues with third-grader Lucy and her new friend, Simone, going to Lucy’s grandparents’ farm for two weeks in the summer while her brother and Simone’s sibling stay home and build a treehouse. Lucy and Simone not only get to collect chicken eggs, milk cows, pick berries, and make camp pies, but they also go horseback riding and witness the birth of a foal.

~ Why ~
This is a lovely read about the past when kids spent ample time outside, enjoying nature and animals. I appreciate the references to kite flying, Instamatic cameras, Barbie and Midge dolls, Bible stories, drive-in movies, the Amish, and various outdoor games. Having read the first book to our six-year-old granddaughter via Facetime, she was excited to start having me read her this one.

~ Why Not ~
Children who do not like chapter books or series that are written about how it was over fifty years ago may not appreciate this read. Others may not relate to the characters, especially if they have no siblings or do not live in a small-town environment. Some younger readers may be concerned about getting injured riding horses or do not like the mention of God and the Bible. It is helpful if you read the books in order to understand the background (we did not read the second book but wish we had).

~ Wish ~
I found the book a bit anti-climatic, so the series may not be for older readers. There were far fewer French words in this one compared to the first book.

~ Want ~
If your elementary-school-age child likes chapter books that are in a series, this would be a fun read if he or she wants to know about life on a farm before electronics consumed our lives.

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

#TheFarmandtheRiskyRide #JudithGrimme #TheFrontPorchDiaries #EncouragePublishing #Bookcrash

This book can be found at https://amzn.to/2Tsp7y7

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Jairus’s Girl

Title: Jairus’s Girl
Author: L.R. Hay
Publisher: Salted Lightly
ISBN: 978-1-916077003

“Well I’m not dead now, and I’m hungry. It’s essential I get some food: this Jesus person said so,” Tammie demands after she is healed in L.R. Hay’s children’s book, Jairus’s Girl.

~ What ~
The second in the Young Testament series, this one-hundred-and-eighty-page paperback targets nine- to twelve-year-old children who like enhanced Biblical stories. With no profanity or adult situations, it is a young girl’s version of the life of Christ as an adult.

Set in Capernaum two-thousand years ago, eleven-year-old Tammie is an only child who loves to help others with her tender heart as she happily keeps tabs of everyone and everything in her village. When she becomes deathly ill, she is awoken by a wonderful man named Jesus, who does miracles near and abroad. As she hears about Him and meets His friends such as Matthew, Simon Peter, Andrew, and Lucius, she learns and witnesses the many stories from the Gospels from Christ’s miracles and healings to His death and resurrection.

~ Why ~
This is a charming, quirky read from a young one’s standpoint living when Jesus comes to Earth. I enjoyed the blend of many Biblical characters such as the healing of the centurion’s slave, the woman with the issue of blood, the paralyzed man, and others. The added humorous comments and conversations between Tammie and her friends, Daniel and Dibs, will delight some readers.

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ may not approve of this book. Children who do not like chapter books written about the Bible may not appreciate it. Others may not agree with the made-up scenarios that have a young protagonist hearing, seeing, or talking about the multiple miracles of the Son of God. The eternal plan of salvation contains no obvious confession of one’s sin.

~ Wish ~
Due to the British punctuation, spelling, and grammar differences in the book, I wish an American version were offered to make it easier for young readers here in the United States to comprehend. I found the main character to be too perfect and idealistic. I prefer all pronouns of God capitalized for reverence.

~ Want ~
If your preteen likes historical fiction of Jesus in the New Testament, this would make a nice gift, albeit ample liberties have been taken that are not completely accurate to the Word of God.

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

#Bookcrash #SaltedLightly #LRHay #JairussGirl #TheYoungTestament
This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/2Zf6zoE

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14-Day Mediterranean Diet Plan for Beginners

Title: 14-Day Mediterranean Diet Plan for Beginners
Author: Christine Patorniti, RD, CDE, MBA
Publisher: Rockridge Press
ISBN: 978-1-64611-600-3

“This cookbook is centered on the three main Mediterranean guiding principles: using whole foods, eating what’s in season, and sharing foods with old and new friends,” Christine Patorniti writes in the introduction of her book, 14-Day Mediterranean Diet Plan for Beginners: 100 Recipes to Kick-Start Your Health Goals.

~ What ~
This two-hundred-and-twenty-page paperback targets those interested in cooking two weeks’ worth of Mediterranean meals. After an introduction, the book is divided into two sections that contain one-hundred recipes, followed by listings of measurement conversion tables, references, index, and the author’s biography.

The first part has three chapters getting acquainted with the Mediterranean diet, preparing your kitchen and pantry, and meal planning. The second section has nine chapters of recipes for breakfast, soups, salads, snacks, sides, vegetarian, fish, seafood, poultry, and meat mains, sweets, desserts, sauces, dips, and dressings.

Each recipe includes its title, followed by a short descriptive paragraph. The type, serving size, and prep/cook time are on the outside of the pages, while the ingredients are located in the middle of the page in used order; numbered instructions, prep/ingredient/variation/substitution tips, and caloric information cover one to two pages.

~ Why ~
I am a fan of Mediterranean dishes so I appreciate the interesting information on the different regions and foods of the countries with their staples and flavors. The two-week meal plans make it easier to decide what to make, especially because there are comprehensive shopping lists for each week. I like that there are so many thirty-minute making meals.

Some of the notable recipes are Shakshuka Bake, Curry Zucchini Soup, Tricolor Tomato Summer Salad, Walnut and Freekeh Pilaf, Lemony Orzo, Linguine and Brussels Sprouts, Crushed Marcona Almond Swordfish, Moroccan Meatballs, Quick Herbed Lamb and Pasta, Cranberry Loaf Roll-Up, Pickled Turnips, and Cider Yogurt Dressing.

An example of one of the daily meals is Day 4:
South of the Coast Sweet Potato Toast
Spring Mix with Fig and Citrus Dressing
Cod a la Romana

~ Why Not ~
Those who do not like Mediterranean dishes may not have any interest in this book. Others may not like that many of the meals are made only of plant sources. While the diet touts drinking wine, no suggested wines are paired with the recipes.

~ Wish ~
Being a visual person, I wish there were colored photographs of all completed dishes. Several of the fourteen-day meals are left-overs or repeats.

~ Want ~
If you love making meals based on the Mediterranean diet, this book that has one-hundred healthy and delicious recipes will be used often.

Rated 4.5 of 5 stars.

Thanks to Callisto Publisher’s Club and the author for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

#CallistoPublishersClub #RockridgePress #2ChristinePatorniti #14DayMediterraneanDietPlanforBeginners

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/2ycG7kw

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How to Be a Big Brother

Title: How to Be a Big Brother
Author: Ashley Moulton
Illustrator: Kavel Rafferty
Publisher: Rockridge Press
ISBN: 978-1-64739-140-9

“By the time you’re finished reading this book, you’ll be ready to be the best brother ever!” Ashley Moulton writes in the welcome page of her book, How to Be a Big Brother: A Guide to Being the Best Older Sibling Ever.

~ What ~
This fifty-two-page paperback targets five- to seven-year-old males who are going to become older siblings for the first time. With no profanity or scenes, there are four chapters, ending with a congratulations page, acknowledgments, and author’s biography.

After ownership and welcome pages, the four sections cover before the baby arrives, becoming a big brother, being a big brother, and growing up together. Including personal stories of other big brothers, there are also topics about nap time, feedings, diaper changing, bath time, playtime, rolls, and family time. Each chapter concludes with suggestions of what to do together and questions about what the soon-to-be older brother thinks or feels. Several super safe brother tips are added.

~ Why ~
Our three-year-old grandson has recently become a big brother to a little sister, so this book may be helpful as he grows up and accepts the fact he is no longer an only child. I appreciate the personal stories of seeing the sibling’s ultrasound, meeting the baby for the first time, and playing with toys.

Some highlighted questions to discuss include:
What makes me the most nervous about becoming a big brother?
Who will be taking care of me while I’m waiting?
When will things go back to normal?
How do I feel about being a big brother?

~ Why Not ~
Those who are not becoming an older sibling or brother will not need this book. It is best for a parent to read this out loud to beginner readers as they may have trouble with the two- and three-syllable words. The illustrations are rudimentary and simplistic.

~ Wish ~
I found the book should only be read out loud to the targeted age group as it may be too hard for a first or second grader to comprehend reading alone.

~ Want ~
If your young son is going to be a big brother soon, this may be a helpful guide book for a parent to read to him as he transitions to not being the only child in the family.

Thanks to Callisto Publisher’s Club and the author for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.

#RockridgePress #CallistoPublishersClub #AshleyMoulton #KavelRafferty #HowtoBeaBigBrother

This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/2zNjkwc

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