Friday, February 25, 2011

Seek Me with all your Heart by Beth Wiseman

Seek Me with all your Heart is a tender story of finding promise in the land of Canaan...Canaan, Colorado. Several Amish families have left their friends and loved ones behind to start over in a new settlement but will they truly find hope, peace and promise in the new land?

Emily Detweiler has suffered a personal that has shook her to the core of what she believes, even believes about God.  Her family has moved to Colorado to start over and to hopefully help Emily on her journey of healing and renewal.

David Stoltzfus's family moved to Colorado but he doesn't know why. However, David has his own issues  that he is working through and he believes he is only in Colorado temporarily.  David is a carry-over character from Wiseman's early series, Daughters of the Promise. If you have read this series, it is nice to have a character you can follow into her new series.

Like any good romance story, Emily and David meet and a relationship is formed.  Wiseman treats their relationship and its many "real" issues very well and with great sensitivity.  Emily's fears about marriage are valid and the way that Wiseman has David and Emily handle their concerns are very believable.

But Emily and David are not the only characters in this book that are noteworthy.  David's Aunt Katie and Uncle Ivan are a great addtion to the story as well as the character of Martha.  Wiseman does an excellent job of weaving all of their lives into the main storyline so that you feel as if you are living amongst them in the town of Canaan.

Seek Me with all your Heart is the best book by Wiseman so far!  The saddest part is that you will have to wait until Fall 2011 for the next book in the series!

4.5 stars

In exchange for my fair and honest review, I was provided a free copy of the book by Thomas Nelson Publishers.  All opinions are my own.  

Friday, February 18, 2011

Just Jane...A Novel of Jane Austen's Life by Nancy Moser

"Oh Mr. Darcy..."  

I believe Pride and Prejudice is the most famous of Jane Austen's novels.  Set in the English countryside, who cannot fall in love with the Bennett family as Mrs. Bennett desires to wed her young daughters to a better station in life?  And with such drama and flair, Mrs. Bennett is a character to watch.  One of my favorite lines said by Mrs. Bennett is this, ""Nobody can tell what I suffer! -- But it is always so. Those who do not complain are never pitied."  But it is her daughter, Elizabeth, and the young Mr. Darcy that captures one's attention.  It is about this character that Moser notes about Jane, "unable to find her own Mr. Darcy, she created him."  

Just Jane is a fictional autobiographical story of what Jane Austen's life could have been like based on family letters, historical writings and research.  Moser takes the reader back to the early 1800s, to the English countryside, to experience life as Jane Austen.  What was it like having grown up as a daughter of a clergyman?  Did she obtain ideas for her characters in her novels from life at home?  Is Mrs. Bennett similar to her mother?  an aunt?  a neighbor?  

Or how did Jane begin to write stories?  who read them?  

Did she fall in love?  find HER Mr. Darcy?  

Interestingly, Jane Austen writes about romance but truly never experiences the romance that she penned.  So her life story is not what you would expect....or it wasn't what I expected.  I have read all of the Austen novels and why did I think her life would be like her stories?  Just the opposite....her real life was full of disappointments, trials, and heartache.  Yet somehow she managed to create novels that have endured centuries, been made into movies many times over, and are studied as classics.  Yet...Moser captures her life in two simple words....Just Jane.  I would add "a real woman."

If you like anything about Jane Austen....her novels, her biography, any movie that has been made about would probably enjoy this book.  Nancy Moser has a way of writing that draws you into the time period....where you can almost taste, smell, and hear what is happening.  She does the same with the characters in the book...they have become your friends (or enemies) by the end.  

Go ahead, grab a cup of coffee, and pick up this book for a relaxing read.  Just be might not surface again until you have reached the end!

4.5 stars

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Fasting by Scot McKnight

Whoa!  What a read!  I have to say one of the better books about fasting that I have read. Not that I routinely pick up books on fasting, but I have read a few over the course of my Christian journey.  What makes this book stand out is McKnight teaches as you are reading.  The book has the feel of being in a  teacher/student situation and that McKnight is pouring into the reader all he knows about fasting.  The information is presented in an organized manner and easy to follow.  One must understand his presentation of the "whole-body spirituality" and how he uses this analogy to describe different areas in your life.  For example, McKnight calls the whole-body "Body Talk" or when fasting was performed to confess sin, he calls it "Body Turning".  But once you understand the analogy, the layout of the material is good.  

Another interesting point regarding this book is that McKnight notes early on that many people in Western cultures separate the spiritual from the physical.  He found himself doing the same thing as he was writing about fasting.  In other words, my paraphrase would be that he was in his head more than in his heart.  So he decided to fast when he would write about fasting.  A novel thought!  I would like to believe that his fasting impacted his writing.

Included in this book is information on the history of fasting, how to fast, the types of fasts, and the various struggles people have with fasting.  The author constantly addresses motivation issues in the one fasting and points us back to look inside ourselves to deal with improper motives.  He addressses "results-based" fasting, too.  Is that why we fast?  So God will give us something?  or do something for us?  McKnight says we fast in response to a grievous sacred moment and in that response, we may be asking the Lord to move but our fasting is IN RESPONSE, not to get a result.  This really changes your focus.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a good, foundational book on fasting.  It isn't too deep theologically yet at the same time, it doesn't just skim the surface either.  It is practical, with many how-tos if you should choose to fast.

5 stars

I was provided this book by Thomas Nelson Publishers through their BookSneeze program in exchange for my fair and honest review.  My opinions are my own. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Something Different....A Magazine Review

Everyday Food...A Martha Stewart Magazine

Wait!  Before you roll your eyes and think this is a magazine for "froo-froo" cooking or one that has recipes that has such odd ingredients you have to go to three stores and take out a loan just to make dinner...stop!  The only way you know this is a Martha Stewart publication is because it says so right under the title.   Oh...and it has her picture, too.

But this magazine is what it says it is....EVERYDAY FOOD.  You know, chicken, beef, potatoes, peas.  Now, they may mix it up a tad different but it is the food you can find at your local Walmart or Publix.

In my most recent issue, here are some of the recipes:  Asian Chicken Salad or Sandwich (a 2 for 1 meal), same with Greek Salad/Sandwich, Grilled Steak Salad/Sandwich,  several simple pasta dishes - some with chicken, shrimp, or meatless, sides of green beans with spiced breadcrumbs (who couldn't use a NEW way to serve green beans!), Cheese Enchiladas with 3 different options for sauces, and several dessert options. And each issue comes with a recipe index as well as each recipe has nutritional values listed.

The magazine comes monthly for as little as $14.95 a year.  If you have a child or neighbor's child that is fortunate to go to one of the schools that sells subscriptions as a fundraiser, well, here is your chance to try Everyday Food.

As a subscriber, you have access to their website Everydayfoodmag which opens the door to the magazine, the tv show, and the blog.  You can also subscribe to have a dinner recipe emailed to you each day.  They have a search function where you can enter an ingredient and the results will yield recipes.  For example, I entered chocolate chips and received 55 results.  These results included recipes as well as 6 video recipes.

All in all, Everyday Food is not for the advanced chef looking for a culinary degree.  If it was, it would be entitled Culinary Delights Magazine for Chefs (or something similar).  But it is for regular cooks, like you and me, looking to put a delightful dinner on the table!

I did not receive any compensation for my review of Everyday Food - not even a free magazine or discounted subscription!   I thought it might be something different to read on this blog as well as an encouragement to my friends who enjoy cooking as much as I do:).  

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Faithful by Kim Cash Tate

This is a great book!  I thoroughly enjoyed Faithful by Kim Cash Tate.  Three women, all friends, yet each with their own struggles in life centered around faithfulness - their own and God's.

This is the first book I have read by Kim Cash Tate and I have to say I will read a second one. Her style is easy to read and I found myself wrapped into the storyline quickly.  The story moves along and there is never a slow moment.  The characters are highly likeable and will even make you find a tissue or two as Kim Cash Tate does not shy away from dealing with real life issues in this book.  It is a title in the Women of Faith Fiction Series so it is written to encourage women in their walk with God.  Tate does an excellent job of making her characters real without oversimplifying their lives.  Overall, I enjoyed the book and would recommend it as a good read for any woman that wants to be reminded of God's faithfulness.

Quick introduction to the book:  Cydney thought she knew God's plan for her life.  It included marriage and a family.  However, at 40 she finds herself still single until God brings a man into her life.  But she struggles with knowing if he is "Mr. Right" because he does all the wrong things.  Why, he doesn't even have a Bible!  Then Cydney's best friend, Dana, who has had the perfect marriage, uncovers her husband's affair.  What now?  They used to mentor marriages...teach couples how to have the "perfect marriage".  How can she return to the church?  The third part of this trio is Phyllis, who is tired and weary because she is married to an unbelieving man.  Hayes doesn't seem to even like God, muchless want to go to church.  How can Phyllis raise their children with a man that hates God?  Then she goes to a reunion for her college soriority and reconnects with an "old friend".  Uh-oh...this man is everything Phyllis has dreamed of in a husband and he is a recent widower.  Will Phyllis remain faithful to Hayes?  All three lives are intertwined as they journey these paths.

About Kim Cash Tate:  She is a Women of Faith speaker and the author of Heavenly Places and the memoir More Christian than African American.  A former practicing attorney, she is also the founder of Colored in Christ Ministries.  She and her husband have two children.

5 Stars

I received a free copy of this book from B&B Media Group in exchange for my honest and fair review.  

Friday, February 11, 2011

Scholarship Opportunity - Check it Out!

Here is a scholarship opportunity for an High School Junior or here.  Hurry, though, entry must be mailed by April 1, 2011.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sports Trivia Devotional - Inspiration for Kids from Sports and Scripture

Full of interesting facts about every sport you can imagine, this book captures your attention from the beginning.  The main stories are varied and will introduce the reader to interesting atheletes from across the globe.  In addition to the standard sports stories, you will read about the disabled golfer, the pro women's bowler, and the one-legged mountain climber just to name a few.  Each day's reading includes Birthdays, "On This Day" section and a "Fun Fact".  Mixed in with all of these cool readings is a weekly quiz so that you can see how much you remember from the readings.  Sadly, though, where is the devotional message within the book?  It is in one small verse on each page.  Easily missed if you are not looking for it.  Occasionally the devotional thought is tied into the reading for the day...maybe making the last sentence of the last paragraph.  Disappointing especially when the back cover of the book indicates that "you'll discover points and principles from the Bible and sports for your own life and competition."  This book is strong in sports information and trivia; weak in Biblical application.

I would not purchase it as a devotional.  However, if I had a child who loved sports trivia I would purchase it for the triva information alone!

Rating:  2 stars

I r         I received this book for free from ZonderKids Publishing Group for this review.  I was not required to give a positive review and my opinions are my own.