Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Miracle at the Higher Grounds Cafe


Miracle at the Higher Grounds Cafe by Max Lucado, with Candace Lee and Eric Newman is a Christian fiction book published by ThomasNelson that is delightfully reminiscent of films like It's A Wonderful Life or The Bishop's Wife.

Chelsea Chambers has recently had a very public split from her NFL superstar husband. She and their children return to their hometown in Texas to reopen the coffee shop left to her by her mother. Even with her incredible cupcakes, hard work, and determination, Higher Grounds Café is having too many set backs. In despair, she prays for a miracle.

An endearingly likeable, albeit clumsy, strangers shows up at her door, eager to help. Not long after, she gets a free trial for a most unusual internet deal. Users can only connect to one website...God.com. Higher Grounds is soon buzzing with new business eager to ask the one question they are allowed, but this creates as many problems as it solves. When Ryan returns, begging for another chance, Chelsea is certain that her world has been turned upside down once again. No matter how hard she tries, disasters keep arriving.


My Review: At first, I wasn't sure. I absolutely love Lucado's nonfiction books and find all of his children's books and DVDs absolutely delightful. This brand of fiction/fantasy was a bit different, but I found myself enjoying it more and more until I finally just relaxed and had fun with the adventure. It was a bit fluffy, so I would prefer a bit more indepth look at the characters in future books of this type, yet I really liked it enough to want to read more. This is a lighthearted book, in spite of touching on some harsh realities, that warms the heart and leaves a smile that grew more as I read. Great book for a couple of free hours or to take with you on vacation.

Read the first 3 chapters!


I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review and all  opinions are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Monday, March 2, 2015

Growing a Strong Marriage: Starting Strong


Hendrickson Publishers introduces Starting Strong,  the first in a video Bible study series called "Growing A Strong Marriage". The series, designed to help you strengthen and grow in your marriage. Whether you are in the early days of your marriage or have been married for over 50 years, your relationship is always going to need nourishment and tender loving care to survive and thrive.  

Volume 1, Starting Strong, teaches the importance of a strong Biblical foundation.
Four DVD sessions, ranging from 8 to 20 minutes long, feature touching interviews and personal advice from:
John and Staci Eldredge
Chip and Theresa Ingram
Gordon and Gail MacDonald
Les and Leslie Parrott
Art and Lysa TerKeurst
Gary and Lisa Thomas



Hendrickson Publishers website


My Review: This marriage dvd series is a bit different than others I have gone through, but I like it. I was more familiar with some of the couples featured than others, but loved hearing the stories each shared. It actually seemed they were more part of the group and were opening the way for others to feel more comfortable about sharing. Starting Strong, the 1st volume of the Growing A Strong Marriage series is divided into four sessions:
Session 1 – How We Met
Session 2 – Foundation in Marriage
Session 3 – Identity in Christ
Session 4 – Paths to Christ in Marriage

Using these video clips, along with a wonderful study guide written by Amy McGowan, the facilitator of the group study is able to steer the conversations into ones that help the group get to know one another and for the couples to be able to open up to the group and one another. This is not a serious set of sessions for repairing deep hurts in a marriage, but more like a refreshing time to remember and reflect on how far you've come as a couple and the importance of keeping lines of communication open. I was especially glad to see the subject of satanic attacks on a marriage. That session definitely honed in on the importance of talking it out with your spouse AND to pray together as a couple for your marriage.


  I received a free copy of this product to review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations. I am part of The CWA Review Crew.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Keys of Heaven by Adina Senft

Keys of Heaven by Adina Senft

Sarah Yoder is learning to help the people in her Amish community as a Dokterfraa, creating teas and tinctures from the herbs she grows. But her latest patient seems to have a problem that can't be resolved. Meanwhile, Sarah's relatives attempt a little matchmaking between her and a new visitor. This is the second book in the Healing Grace series (the first, Herb of Grace, received a 4 stars from RT Book Reviews!).

I received this book as part of a giveaway deal (contest closed) that included chocolate and 2 books. Amish fiction is not my favorite, plus this is #2 in a series and I did not read the first book. A very pleasant surprise. As usual, there was enough background given to give me a gist of what had happened in the first book. This book had characters that were flawed, but that made them more realistic. The mixture of people in this community from the Amish, those who had experienced living as Amish, and outsiders who knew nothing...and various experiences in between. This also showed a different slant than the usual stereotypical look at the Amish that seemed prevalent in many other books I have read.

I was caught up in the story and cared about these characters. They were humans who made errors, but were quick to make amends. There was also not a cut and dried plot that followed predictable territory. The series may, indeed, end up exactly as I expect, but I like that other trails are being explored. The fact that they can all accept and respect their differences is also refreshing. Sarah definitely has faults, but is open to admitting and correcting wrongs. I liked that she is a more mature woman who is rebuilding her life. Good book!

Copies are available for purchase at
Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million or Amazon.
 
 Disclosure: I did receive a copy of book from Hatchette Book Group for review. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions are my own.

Love Gently Falling by Melody Carlson

Rita Jansen is living her dream in Hollywood when her father calls with news that her mother is sick. When she gets home to Chicago, Rita finds her mother is facing a long recovery and could lose the family-owned salon. As Rita takes her mother's place at work, she also finds herself renewing a friendship with her classmate Johnny and is surprised by how far he will go to help her.

I am a fan of  Melody Carlson's books, but this is not one of my favorites by her. Perhaps it was just meant for a younger person than me because I got exasperated with Rita more than once. The story was a bit predictable, but I don't mind that as much as the ending seeming a bit rushed. To be fair, that is a common problem with novellas.

I did like the interaction between characters who have met again after a long time apart. Getting to view current situations and gaining a greater insight to issues from their past is a terrific reminder to the reader that things may not always be what they seem. It was also set in a unique setting that is different from most books. Since the book appears to be better suited to a young adult audience, that is a good lesson to learn. While I did not love the book, I did like it. It was a nice quick read and an enjoyable way to spend the evening.

You can also buy a copy at the following:
  Books-A-Million, Barnes & Noble, ChristianBook.com, or
Amazon.

Disclosure: I did receive a copy of book from Hatchette Book Group for review.
All opinions are my own.

Dance With Jesus: From Grief to Grace

In Dance With Jesus: From Grief to Grace, Susan B. Mead shares her story of how God comforted her with unimaginable love and insight during a time of overwhelming grief. She heard His voice and was shown her son as he danced with Jesus and as he worshiped in the presence of God. In this book, Susan shares her encounters with God that led her into a more intimate relationship with Him as she struggled through the loss of several close family members, including her youngest son. Along the way, He taught her about the power of forgiveness and faith, restoration that restores, and that joy can be found again as you move from grief to embrace God's grace. 

video

My Review: This is a heartfelt book dealing with grief, but is filled with moments of humor, enlightenment, and encouragement, as well as sorrow. The chapters are short enough to hold the attention of even those in the midst of deep grief, but also contains questions at the end for those who want to explore their own feelings more. The book leads to reader to the knowledge that there can be hope and healing despite the suffering and sorrow that comes with the loss of a loved one. Pointing to God as the One who can and will bring comfort through the pain, this book is a witness to the fact that we can find the light and love of God even while we are still in the darkness of despair. There is hope and joy to be found again.

Susan B Mead website

Susan B Mead on Facebook Dance With Jesus website  Twitter:  @susanbmead
LinkedIn:   SusanMead1
Amazon - Susan B. Mead
YouTube

I received a free copy of this book from the author to review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations. I am part of The CWA Review Crew.

Susan is a Charter Blogger on the Bible Gateway Blogger’s Grid, has been published in Medical Laboratory Observer (MLO), is on the path to becoming a Chaplain with the IFOC and has been described as a solid, comforting voice in a messy world. 10% of the profit from Dance with Jesus: From Grief to Grace will benefit Water for LIFE to help dig water wells in remote locations around the world. People Matter!


  • Paperback: 130 pages
  • Publisher: Morgan James Publishing (March 31, 2015)
  • Language: English

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Dashing Dish by Katie Farrell

From the creator of the wildly popular cooking and healthy lifestyle website DashingDish.com, comes a clean eating cookbook designed to give home cooks a healthy start to 2015. Dashing Dish: 100 Simple and Delicious Recipes for Clean Eating (Nelson Books) by Katie Farrell combines delicious and simple recipes with easy tips for incorporating clean eating habits for a healthier lifestyle.  As a registered nurse, Farrell has spent years teaching others about nutrition, health and overall well being.  Since its inception, her hit website DashingDish.com has garnered more than 25,000 monthly subscribers who access her recipes, cooking videos and fitness plans.
For readers new to clean eating, Dashing Dish makes it easy to transition by providing lists of valuable pantry, fridge and freezer items helpful for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The book also includes important conversion charts and offers clean substitutes for some popular unhealthy foods, making the jump to clean eating as simple as possible. (from the publisher)

My Review: Let me begin with the disclaimer that I am NOT a cook! One of my favorite quotes is by Rita Rudner:I read recipes the same way I read science fiction. I get to the end and say to myself "well, that's not going to happen But I am trying to eat healthier, so I decided to check out this cookbook.

For starters, I found out that "clean eating" does not mean the same to everyone. I was thinking Levitical Law clean and unclean foods, so I was startled to find bacon in the very first recipe. Granted, I was also delighted!Of course, I also just browsed through looking a the bright colorful photos of very tempting looking prepared dishes. Some of the ingredients are more suitable for Summer when the price is more reasonable, but most of the recipes were for things readily available in local grocery stores. There is also a wide variety of recipes.

Having the nutritional values and calories is another helpful addition. One of my favorite parts, though, was the inclusion of a staples list of foods to keep in stock. Some of my more 'creative' attempts at cooking have been trying to come up with food made out of whatever I pull out of the cabinet. She also had a list of healthy snack items. Snacking is often my downfall. While I am still not really excited about cooking, I did find quite a few recipes that may raise my enthusiasm. The only part I am less certain of is the sugar substitutes used since I hear so many warnings, but most of the dishes I want to try don't need sweetener. Also, a bit expensive, but there is the convenience of having them all bound together to consider.


Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book for this review from Icon Media Group
Dashing Dish Links:

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Give Books, Not Roses

Recently I received an email from HACHETTE BOOK GROUP about a fun giveaway they thought I would enjoy for my blog readers. To celebrate Valentine's Day and promote a love of reading, they came up with #ValentinesDayReads campaign! They are offering 2 FaithWords books and chocolate! Here are the details of what is in this prize package:




Rita Jansen is living her dream in Hollywood when her father calls with news that her mother is sick. When she gets home to Chicago, Rita finds her mother is facing a long recovery and could lose the family-owned salon. As Rita takes her mother's place at work, she also finds herself renewing a friendship with her classmate Johnny and is surprised by how far he will go to help her.
Link to my review of Love Gently Falling


You can also buy a copy at the following:
  Books-A-Million, Barnes & Noble, ChristianBook.com, or
Amazon.


Sarah Yoder is learning to help the people in her Amish community as a Dokterfraa, creating teas and tinctures from the herbs she grows. But her latest patient seems to have a problem that can't be resolved. Meanwhile, Sarah's relatives attempt a little matchmaking between her and a new visitor. This is the second book in the Healing Grace series (the first, Herb of Grace, received a 4 stars from RT Book Reviews!).
Link to my review of Keys of Heaven

Copies are available for purchase at
Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million or Amazon.


And for that added touch of sweetness to this giveaway package...CHOCOLATE!! The winner will also receive a bar of Olive and Sinclair Chocolate. Olive & Sinclair is a BEAN-TO-BAR Chocolate Maker in Nashville TN. Our Chocolate is made with select single origin cacao beans, slow roasted, stone ground with only Pure brown sugar for a robust flavor unique to Southern Artisan Chocolate™.

Olive and Sinclair Chocolate Co. on Facebook
Follow @olivesinclair on Twitter


Disclosure: I did receive a copy of books (and chocolate) from Hatchette Book Group for review.