Thursday, September 26, 2013

Grace Unplugged and Own It! Review

Grace Unplugged by Melody Carlson is the story of 18 year old Grace Trey. She is an incredibly gifted singer who believes she has what it takes to be a star. The hold-up is her dad; he leads the worship team at church and tries to stifle her creativity---in Grace's eyes.  Johnny Trey was a "one hit wonder" back in the day, and wants to protect his daughter from the rock star lifestyle. When his old manager tries to lure him back, Grace decides Johnny's refusal is the break she has been for to prove her talent. Will she remain true to her faith or will Grace slowly conform to the standards of her new life?

The search for fame has become an obsession in our culture over the years and this book paints a realistic view of  how one can easily begin to compromise their values in search of it. It was a good book though. I especially enjoyed that part of the action took place in AL, but the location could have been anywhere. The book held my attention and was believable. In the end, it is all about your priorities and becoming your own person and owning your own faith and beliefs rather than living in the shadows of your parents.

Grace Unplugged is also a film that will be releasing nationwide on October 4th. Watch the trailer below:

Looks good, doesn't it? Make sure you read the book and see the film!!

Near the end of the trailer, you will have seen the book, Own It!: Discover Your Faith In God.  In the movie & book, the fictional Grace is given this book to read by Quenton to read while she is on tour. It was a book that had changed his life and he wanted to share it with her.

The topic of the book is about making your faith your own and not just a habit you picked up in childhood and continue to follow. Authors Michael and Hayley DiMarco use personal anecdotes and Biblical references to make their points on what this really means. They explain what they mean by Own It and the following chapters are about how owning your faith will save you, cost you, change you, complete you and free you. To be honest, I liked it (and agree that you have to make your faith real and not just go through the motions) but had trouble focusing on it. I have read another on this subject lately that simply suited my reading preferences better. So, for me, it was good, but not great.

 Hayley DiMarco is the best-selling author of more than thirty books including Dateable, Marriable, Mean Girls, and The Woman of Mystery. She has been a featured speaker at Women of Faith, Precept National Women's Conference, and MOPS Intl. among others and has consulted on the creation and enhancement of some of the largest stadium events for teens and young women in North America.

Michael DiMarco is a skillled communicator and teacher who has authored more than a dozen bestselling books including the 2010 Christian Bookof the Year for Youth, B4UD8 (Before You Date). He and his wife, author Hayley DiMarco, have one daughter and live in Nashville, Tennessee.

Melody Carlson has sold more than five million books. A professional writer for twenty years, she recently received the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award. Melody has two grown sons and lives with her husband in the Pacific Northwest.

** DISCLOSURE: I received both of these books from FlyBy Promotions in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.**

The giveaway this time is for BOTH books!! Leave a comment saying you want to be entered and if your name is selected, you will win Grace Unplugged by Melody Carlson AND Own It! by Hayley and Michael DiMarco. I would say recommend ages are high school (mid to late teens) but appropriate for 12+.
Deadline to enter is Thursday, Oct. 3rd at 9pm CDT.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Peter Lamas and Project Beautiful

Peter Lamas
Peter Lamas and the Project Beautiful team recently asked me to take a look at their project and to try out some of the Peter Lamas products for myself. Using the Scripture Genesis 1:31- "And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good" as inspiration, Project Beautiful was created to help women realize that real beauty is found both outside and inside. Peter was quoted as saying, "You are beautiful and unique. God does not make any mistakes, and He made you special. There is only one you."

Project Beautiful is meant to be a place where people of all nations, socio-economic levels, ethnic backgrounds and ages can gather together, via the internet, to share their dreams, hopes, experiences, and encouragement with one another. Project Beautiful is a community where you are inspired and encouraged to explore and to reach your dreams. Part of having the confidence to pursue your dream is how you feel about yourself. Using products and services that bring out your best features for your outward appearance does create an aura of confidence, but nothing compares to creating inward beauty that gives people the assurance that each of us are truly wonderfully made. When you look and feel your best, you feel more capable of being the person God created you to be.

Another area Peter Lamas feels very strongly about is the ingredients to be found in many beauty products and the harmful consequences that can come from using such harsh products. After researching and coming up with herbs, vitamins, and botanicals that will nurture rather than harm the person using them, he has created a line of products that fits his high standard of acceptability. Peter Lamas Products are vegan and free of Parabens, Propylene Glycol, Dyes, Sodium Lauryl and Laureth Sulphates, DEA, TEA and Petrochemicals. Peter Lamas Products are also never tested on animals. Watch the interview below as he discusses the connection between cancer and beauty products:


As I mentioned earlier, I was given the chance to test a few Peter Lamas Products myself.

1. Sheer Zinc Moisturizer Broad Spectrum spf 30

I really liked this sunscreen/moisturizer. It did not feel too oily or heavy on my face, yet provided the protection I needed when I was outside.

2. Exfoliating Pumpkin Spice Scrub

Loved it! It gently washed my face, leaving it feeling clean, fresh, and soft.

3. Soy-Baobab Oil Hydrating Shampoo 

The first thing I noticed was how great the shampoo smelled. It wasn't overwhelming, but still a delightful scent. My hair has always been a bit on the oily side, and this product was meant for dry and damaged hair. But, my hair has looked good for a longer time since I have began using this. 

4. Soy-Balboa Oil Hydrating Conditioner

I liked this product too. I do have very fine, limp hair, so I am interested in trying the conditioner that is meant for my hair type, but I am pleased with how soft my hair feels and it did make it easier to come through tangles later. As with the shampoo, it smells really good.

5. "Truth About Sun Exposure" book

This book was also included for me to read. I have never been one of those who wants to lie out in the sun, but I admit that I do not take the measures I should when I am going to be outside. It's a small book, but packed with a lot of information. It will definitely make you think twice about protecting your skin.

Peter Lamas was born in Cuba, but has lived in the US since 1961. After discovering he had an eye for hairstyles and make-up, he earned a degree in Cosmetology. His talent enabled him to train and work with some of the top beauty experts and photographers in the nation and his clients have included Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Sharon Stone, Diana Ross, Cindy Crawford and Kate Winslet. Project Beautiful was born from  his desire to make all women feel beautiful inside and out, and to have the products he has developed that will not harm them. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

When Ashes Are All That Is Left

Courtesy: Pathlight Entertainment
A sleepy Texas town's nativity is burned to ashes by a former U.S. senator and the media swarms, starting a national debate; pitting the town, the senator and a minister's family in a fight ending in sacrifice.

Beyond the Farthest Star has a storyline that revolves around a nativity that was burned by an angry senator...leaving it in ashes, but there are more than the literal flames in this film. There are the flames of jealousy, mistrust, abuse, depression, loneliness, and rage that threaten to consume these multi-dimensional characters. Some are smoldering embers that threaten to deaden the emotions, but others shoot off sparks that reignite and cause fresh fires that threaten to consume and destroy.

Yet, sometimes fire is not meant to destroy. 1 Peter 1:7 tells us, "
These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold--though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.". (NLT) Sometimes people are destroyed by the fires that rage within them, but there are times we go through other virtual fires in order to refine and strengthen us. As we are reminded in the film, God will "...give unto them beauty for ashes..." (Is. 61:3, KJV)

 This film touches on topics like
  • Separation of Church and State
  • Teen depression and Self Harm
  • Abortion / Sanctity of Life
  • Priorities of Life - Leaving a Legacy
  • The Importance of Marriage Vows
  • Fathers
A great idea is to buy DVDs as an outreach for those whose lives are affected by some of the issues above. There are teens feeling depressed or suicidal, people struggling with marriage issues, or men wanting to be a better father. Or, this is ideal for anyone who is letting their dreams die and need to know that there is hope to be found. You have heard that "A picture is worth a thousand words", so a movie will speak volumes!

BEYOND THE FARTHEST STAR is a tremendous film. Hope From The Heart calls it, “Dynamic! A great story of restoration and a gateway to address difficult issues and brokenness!" Richard Propes, The Independent Critic says, “ Inspired. It's refreshing to watch a film that so successfully infuses faith into the frequently harsh realities of life... without turning its faith into a greeting card sentimentality." And multi-Dove Award-winning artist Crystal Lewis said after watching with her teen daughter, "This film shows that there is hope, that restoration and redemption can come out of the darkness, and that beauty truly can be found among the ashes."  

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Bash and the Pirate Pig by Burton Cole

Bash and the Pirate Pig, by Burton Cole, is the story of city couch potato, Raymond "Beamer" Boxby who prefers to spend his time inside with a bag of his favorite potato chips and a stack of comic books. To his horror, he learns that his parents have decided he needs to spend the summer getting fresh air, sunshine, and exercise...visiting his cousin on the farm!!

Sebastian "Bash" Hinglehobb is a bundle of energy who has a wild imagination and manages to convince others to join in his letting his "riding pig", aka Gulliver J. McFrederick the Third, be the Admiral of the flotilla they assemble for their various human and animal friends> What could possibly go wrong?

Beamer feels doomed to be dragged into one scheme after another, and is also puzzled that Bash only has one book that he reads and quotes from regularly. His "Fishin' and Farmin' book" (The Bible) seems weird to Beamer, but by the end of the summer he discovers that the Book isn't quite so boring after all and has the answers to questions he just hadn't asked yet.

This book is a really fun read that is sure to entertain boys, and probably a few girls. I laughed at several of the things the boys got into and loved the perpetual optimism and odd sense of logic Bash had at all times. If your child has a wild imagination too, you may want to give a stern warning, "Do NOT Try This!", but it is mostly good, messy fun...and brought back a few memories of my own childhood. It reminded me a bit of one of my childhood favorites, Tom Sawyer. I also love the way the Bible is integrated into the story in a way that is perfectly natural. Bash simply "owned" his faith at an early age and is always ready to give an answer when questioned. Book is recommended for ages 8-14.

Disclosure: I was provided with a copy of this book by FlyBy Promotions at no charge to me for review purposes. I was not required to give a good review or to promote anything I cannot recommend.

GIVEAWAY!! Flyby Promotions has another copy available for one of my readers. Simply leave a comment (if you are listed as Anonymous, at least give me a hint who you are!) and the winner will be randomly selected. All entries must be made by Mon., Sept 30, 2013 at 12 Noon (CDT).

 B&H Kids Facebook
Twitter: @BHKidsBuzz

About the Author
Burton Cole is a Pulitzer Prize nominated journalist with thirty years of experience and more than fifty humor writing awards to his credit. He grew up on a farm in northeast Ohio and attended a small-town church with a slew of cousins and buddies. That same boyhood inspires his colorful stories today. 

About the Illustrator 
Tom Bancroft has more than twenty years of experience in the animation and illustration industry and worked with Disney on films including Beauty and the BeastThe Lion King, and Aladdin. Other clients have included DC Comics and Big Idea Productions.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Sisters of Lazarus: Beauty Unveiled

Sisters of Lazarus: Beauty Unveiled  by Paula K. Parker is more than just a story about the two sisters, Mary and Martha, we know from the Bible. Anyone who has been raised on "Christianese" has heard someone described as a Mary or a Martha and made assumptions on their work ethic based solely on one word. This book goes beyond the few facts we know from Scripture and weaves a spellbinding tale that is sure to change the readers perspective.

Author Paula K. Parker was curious about why the sisters were so different and has told a story that infuses life into these women, their family, and their friends. The elder sister, Martha, is described as a plain woman who believes her only value is in her accomplishments. She is a hard-worker and takes pride in all she does. Mary has no apparent skills, and believes that her beauty is all she has to offer. When their brother, Lazarus, offers hospitality to Jesus and his disciples, the sisters learn that neither works nor outward beauty is the reason they are valuable to God.

 This beautifully told story quickly draws you in and the characters spring to life in a way that makes a familiar story fresh. I have even taken part in Bible studies on these 2 women, but have never considered them through much more than the 'working for God' vs 'listening to God' angle. More than just a photograph of their lives though, Paula creates a rich tapestry that is beautiful and functional. The research put into the time period and the characteristics of the people portrayed is outstanding. The veil truly is lifted to enable the reader to see the beauty of both women as well as the failures and faults. Seeing the transformations in their lives through the encounters they have with Jesus not only caused me to have a richer understanding of what life was possibly like for these two women, but to also think about what I consider of value in me and how God sees me.

Although historical fiction is not always my favorite genre, this story was told within the realm of possibility without attempting to distort facts that are found in Scripture. Fact and fiction were interwoven in a manner that highlight what was happening through characters you care about. Several things made me pause and think, which is a sign of a good book (or film) for me. But the line that hit me the most forcibly was said by one of the people whom Jesus healed . When others were celebrating him and his healing, he said, "I did nothing except look for Jesus". Wow! That is a simple, but profound statement that reminded me that only one thing is truly important...and, for the first time, I gained a better understanding of Jesus' words about Mary. I definitely recommend Sisters of Lazarus: Beauty Unveiled

Disclaimer: I did receive a free download of the book from the publisher, through in order to write this review. I was only asked for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Sisters of Lazarus Q & A
Paula Parker: Christian Entertainment Examiner
Paula K. Parker on Facebook

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Take Flight: A Sisterchicks Devotional by Robin Jones Gunn and Cindy Hannan

SISTERCHICK® n.: a friend who shares the deepest wonders of your heart, loves you like a sister, and provides a reality check when you’re being a brat.

I have enjoyed each of the Sisterchicks novels written by Robin Jones Gunn and was very happy to be given an opportunity to review this devotional. Thanks to the WaterBrook Multnomah Blogging For Books program for providing me a copy for an honest review.

If you have read the books, you will recognize a few quotes scattered throughout the book and they are sure to bring back fond memories. If you haven't (and you need to start soon!), you will still love this book. It is filled with stories of shared adventures with friends, quotes, photos, Scripture, and places to jot down what is on your mind. There are also suggestions of things you can do with, or for, a Sisterchick. The 2 authors work together well in sharing things from a personal perspective. I loved From Robin's Nest and From Cindy's Perch and the insight each brought. This book is filled with wit and wisdom that you are sure to enjoy on your own or as part of a devotion time with a Sisterchick or two...or a whole flock of them.

 For more information, check out the following links:
"I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review."

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Season of a Lifetime

Word Films just released the Endorphin Entertainment  / Fisheye Media Productions inspirational documentary Season of a Lifetime on DVD. The film follows Greenville High football coach Jeremy Williams as he perseveres and inspires his team throughout their winning 2010 season in the face of his progressing ALS disease. For his final season as coach, Williams’ beloved small-town Greenville Patriots battle to the playoffs and adopt his never-surrender attitude. “Season of a Lifetime” is produced by Rick Cohen, Bob McAllister and Jason Haley and executive produced by Chris Pullaro. Cohen also served as director and editor of the film. (press release)


"Faith, Family, Football" is what is on the dvd cover, and that sums up the 3 most important things in Jeremy Williams life...and in the order of their importance. This documentary on the final coaching season of Greenville High School (GA) football coach, Jeremy Williams, due to ALS (aka Lou Gehrig's Disease) could be a tear-jerker that leaves you feeling sad. It is not! This is an inspiring story of one man who, while facing an incurable progressive neurodegenerative disease, continues to love his God, his family, his players, his friends, and puts others ahead of his own needs. Many would have given up after such devastating news, but Jeremy quickly went into action to do what was best for others. He surrounded himself with a community of family and friends who would work with him as a team to accomplish what needed done while he could still do it.

Interspersed with highlights of the games played during William's final season of coaching, we also see both his faith and family in action. He was still speaking at churches, encouraging others to trust in Jesus at all times, and taking part in activities that support ALS research. His family, though, are as amazing and strong as Williams himself. Jeremy's bravery is echoed by his wife, Jennifer, who says, “This is God’s story for the Williamses." Their son, Jacob, born with Spina Bifida, is confined to a wheelchair, but positive outlook, determination, and sheer joy made me smile several times. Daughter, Josey,is a remarkable young girl who cheerfully helps her dad and younger brother with tasks they are unable to do. Her giggles when Williams is teasing her about something prove her to be a loving cheerleader who is very proud of her dad and a loving caregiver, but one who still knows the joy of childhood. This is a family who knows how to lean on one another and their faith when things are rough.
The special features in this 89 minute dvd includes footage featuring images from Williams’ college days, footage of the 2009 Greenville football team and the “Extreme Makeover Home Edition” segment. If you are looking for a film on team spirit and about the importance of "going the distance", this is about a man who goes beyond expectations. Very inspirational.

I received a copy of this dvd at no charge from WORD in hopes I would review it. No expectations were given for a good review, but for an honest one. All opinions given were my own.

For further info, visit
Season of a Lifetime on Facebook 

The Williams family
July 2010