Sheerluck Holmes and The Case of the Missing Friend – Karen Poth

Sheerluck Holmes is published by ZonderKidz, a trademark of Zondervan.

Sheerluck Holmes is published by ZonderKidz, a trademark of Zondervan.

About the Book

Summary: Sniffy is missing and no one knows why! Sheerluck Holmes to the rescue!

Review: As soon as I opened the package my kids took the book and I had a hard time getting it back! They insisted that I read it as soon as possible so we sat down to read.

Our 5 yr. old asked is she could help me read and of course I said yes. We settled in and opened up the book. The book itself is engaging for a number of reasons. 1) It’s Veggie Tales! 2) The pictures are great. 3) It’s a beginning reader with simple sentences. Our daughter read all the words she knew and I read the other. The kids were definitely interested and tried to figure out the mystery along the way.

But, who better to give you a review about a kid’s book than kids? Here are some things they had to say about Sheerluck Holmes and The Case of the Missing Friend.

X: “I like it.” “I like how it shows you the other books available.” “I pretty much liked all of it.” “Some of the pictures were funny.”

A: “The doggie in the pictures was cute.” “I liked all of it.”

Q: This kiddo is currently sleeping so I can’t ask but I can tell you that she’s always handing it to me asking me to read it.

They might not have many words to describe it but their faces are priceless when we read it. The smiles are worth it!

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own, no other compensation was received.

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Messy Beautiful Love – Darlene Schacht (And a GIVEAWAY!!!)

Messy Beautiful Love is published by Nelson Books, an imprint of Thomas Nelson.

Messy Beautiful Love is published by Nelson Books, an imprint of Thomas Nelson.

About the Book
About the Author
Author Website

Summary: Love and marriage aren’t always easy. Darlene Schacht (from The Time-Warp Wife) shares with wives the importance of giving your marriage up to God. We’re all imperfect beings so we really can’t fix things ourselves. More than likely, we’ll just make them worse! But God is perfect, and marriage was His design, so who better to turn to? Drawing from personal experience and Scripture, Darlene shines the light on hope and where to turn when it gets messy.

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Review: My husband and I have been married for 9 1/2 years. It hasn’t always been easy, but it’s always been worth it. We’re not exceptionally wonderful at it, but when we’re following God’s design for marriage things just go better. That’s the basic premise of Darlene’s newest book Messy Beautiful Love. I love how open and honest she writes, it’s like you’re sitting down across the table from each other talking. Personal experience that’s got Scriptural backing is always a plus! I know it’s discouraging to hear how God wants your marriage to work but then you don’t see any real evidence of it. If you haven’t seen it in your life and know what I mean, you’ll be happy to know that Darlene doesn’t just tell you about God’s design and then not give you real-life examples.

The book is divided into 15 chapters that break your marriage down into several parts. Rather than telling you how to do it all at once, which is overwhelming, Darlene does a great job breaking it up into smaller pieces that make it feel a lot more do-able! Each chapter has a little challenge at the end so that you can put what you’ve just read into practice. At the end of the book she includes her “31 Prayers for My Marriage”, which you download from her website and then print out to keep with your Bible or on the nightstand.

My favorite part of the book was the paragraph in chapter nine about the difference between “submission” and “equality” on page 120.  “Submission is yielding your will for the good of another. . . . Equality of people refers to our value.” Yes! This is something I get into discussions about often and Darlene’s explanation is a good way to explain it.

This would make a GREAT book to go through as a small group. I’d love to get a group of ladies together, either online or in person, and then go through it. I loved it and once I started reading I didn’t stop (which means another read through would be a good idea!).

If you’d like to WIN a copy of Darlene Schacht’s book Messy Beautiful Love, enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway! Thank you to the author and publisher for providing a copy to giveaway. US & Canada only. Giveaway ends Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014 @ 12:00 a.m.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Edited to add the winning entry: winner

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher in exchange for an honest review. As part of the launch team I also received the order bonus items. All thoughts are my own, no other compensation was received.

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$10 Great Dates – Larson & Arp

$10 Great Dates is published by Bethany House.

$10 Great Dates is published by Bethany House.

About the Larsons
About the Arps
About the Book

Summary: From the writers of 10 Great Dates comes the book $10 Great Dates. It’s all well and good to do date night, but what if you have limited funds? The Larsons and Arps show you that you CAN have fun dates for $10 or less!

Review: There are 52 great dates included in $10 Great Dates. That’s easily one for every week of the year! The dates are divided by sections: Adventure Dates, Out-on-the-Town Dates, At Home Dates, Great Outdoors Dates, Marriage Pick-Me-Up Dates, Romantic Dates, Seasonal Special Dates, and Unique and Unusual Dates. They even include a section with inexpensive childcare options, just in case finding childcare is one reason that you don’t want to have date night.

Every date is broke down into basic parts. There’s the overview of the date, some preparation suggestions, ideas for things to do during your date, some conversation starters, and what your big objective is. One of the dates suggested is a date where you are “out of towners” and you go downtown together and be “tourists”. Another type of date is one where you go out just to get dessert. Or, you can stay in and have a game night at home (this is one of our personal favorites!), go out and go hiking (also a favorite!), do volunteer work together, make an at-home spa, check out the local farmer’s market, and even estate sale-ing.

This is perfect if you’re struggling to do date night with your spouse at all or if you want to make a habit of it but don’t have many ideas. The nice thing is, you don’t have to follow everything to a tee, these are just suggestions that you can take and run with them. Highly recommended for coupes who don’t regularly get a date night, those who’ve been struggling and want to reconnect, or for couples who are in a “date night rut”. Dates don’t have to be big and fancy! Get out there and treat your spouse to a fun night out (or in, depending on your $10 date choice).

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own, no other compensation was received.

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My Irish Table – Cathal Armstrong & David Hagedorn

My Irish Table is published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Crown Publishing Group.

My Irish Table is published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Crown Publishing Group.

About Cathal Armstrong
About David Hagedorn
About the Book

Summary: Cathal Armstrong was born and raised in Ireland. When he was 20 he moved to the U.S. and started working at an Irish pub in D.C.. From there he worked at a number of restaurants and discovered that it was something he wanted to pursue as a career. In 2004, Cathal and his wife Meshelle opened Restaurant Eve in Alexandria, Virginia. This cookbook is his life story in food.

Review: Ireland is a country on my bucket list. This cookbook was an introduction to Irish foods for me. It’s a compilation of recipes that Cathal grew up with and some that he uses in his restaurant. There are 10 chapters, starting with breakfast and ending with sauces and stocks. I love the inclusion of a glossary because not everyone knows all the fancy cooking terms used in recipes. The authors also included a list of places where you can get cooking gear and special ingredients. The index and conversion charts are also very handy! I like that there is historical information included between some recipes as well. You learn a little bit about the country and why the dish is important to Ireland.

Of all the recipes I am looking forward to trying, I think the potato pancakes and Quiche Lorraine are tied for first place. As soon as I’ve got the money, I’m definitely going to get the ingredients for both. Once I do that I’ll post a recipe review too!

My Irish Table is a great cookbook! It’s well-organized and easy to follow. If you’re a fan of Ireland, definitely check this one out!

Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own. No other compensation was received.

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Tosca Lee Q&A Continued

Before we continue with the Q&A, here’s a little bit about Tosca Lee.

tosca lee

“One of the most gifted novelists writing today.”—Steven James, best-selling author.

Tosca Lee is the award-winning, New York Times best-selling author of Iscariot; Demon: A Memoir; Havah: The Story of Eve, and the Books of Mortals series with New York Times best-seller Ted Dekker (Forbidden, Mortal and Sovereign). Her highly anticipated seventh novel, The Legend of Sheba, releases September 9, 2014.

Tosca received her B.A. in English and International Relations from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts with studies at Oxford University. She is a lifelong world adventure traveler and makes her home in the Midwest. To learn more about Tosca, visit www.toscalee.com.

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  • I understand you created a special bonus for your readers with Legend of Sheba. Can you tell us more about that?

Ismeni—a free eBook short story prequel to The Legend of Sheba—will be available August 26. This is the story of Sheba’s mother, and sheds some light on the man who would become the queen of Sheba’s right-hand councilor. It’s about 34 pages long, and also includes a preview of the Prologue and first chapter of The Legend of Sheba.

Links to Download FREE:
Amazon: http://bit.ly/IsmeniPrelude
Simon & Schuster: http://bit.ly/LegendofShebaPrequel

  • You recently won the 2014 Gold Medallion for fiction—what people may not know is this is the only award given each year by the ECPA for Christian fiction across all genres. And yet you’re known for your controversial points of view and pushing limits of the category. What is it about your books that you believe resonates so much with Christian readers?

I think it’s that I’m willing to go there and get gritty. To admit that halfway through the writing of Iscariot, I realized I was no longer writing his story… but my own. Havah is also my story. They all are. And we’re not that different, you and I. I like writing about these maligned characters because even though we may not want to, we can often identify with them far more readily than the good guys, who seem so untouchable. We all feel let down at some point by the way God fails to adhere to our agendas for Him. We all have moments when we think, “if you knew me—really knew me—you would not love me.” We all fail with the best of intentions, and we all want to be embraced exactly as we are. We are all as capable of darkness as we are of light—and often the darkness is far more tangible. The stuff in the Bible isn’t sterile—far from it. It’s gory, violent, sexual, and messy. But so is life. I want to be honest about fear and compromise as I am about hope, beauty and redemption.

  • You’ve also co-authored the Books of Mortals series with Ted Dekker. Aside from the obvious, how does co-writing differ from writing solo?

It takes twice as much time. You have to spend a lot of time talking, planning, plotting, and going over what you’ve done. When you write solo, there is no need for consensus, and for making sure you are sharing the same vision of character, plot, and resolution. But writing solo is also scarier; you don’t have the safety net of a partner to catch your writing foibles, pick up the slack where you are not as strong, and to get you out of bed and into the chair each day. They both have their pros and cons.

  • You get approached by a lot of writers early in the process of trying to get published. What is your best advice for writers and for those hoping to pursue a career in writing?

Finish the work first. Far too many people write to me asking how to get an agent/editor/publishing deal and they haven’t even finished a novel or built up a body of work to sell. Finish the novel, and start another. And another, even after you approach agents or start to self-publish. Agents, in particular, want to know what else you have to offer and if you can produce on schedule. If you haven’t completed at least one sellable book, you are not ready to approach the industry. Finish the work. And please don’t send files to an author you don’t know personally to ask for his/her opinion of your writing. Many authors teach, edit or offer critiques as a business to support themselves. Sending them something out of the blue for their opinion presumptuously asks them to work for free.

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Legend of Sheba Intro

Did you hear?! Tosca Lee has a new book out today! Click here to watch a trailer and then come back here to read a Q&A provided by the author and her crew.

The Legend of Sheba by Tosca Lee is published by Howard Books.

The Legend of Sheba by Tosca Lee is published by Howard Books, an imprint of Simon and Schuster.

The Legend of Sheba comes out TODAY (9/9/14) and is available from the following retailers or wherever books are sold:
Simon & Schuster
Amazon
ChristianBook.com

  • You are known for your meticulous research. How did researching Legend of Sheba differ from your other books?

After a year and a half of hard research for Iscariot, I thought research for Sheba would be much easier. Not so! It is much harder to fill in the historical record of 1000 years earlier than the time of Christ due to the dearth of archaeological progress in history-rich and troubled Yemen, natural phenomena such as the encroaching sands of the desert, and a lack of historical records recording any queen in the Southern Arabian region.

  • What do we actually know about the Queen of Sheba?

We know something about the Sabaean (the Israelite Sheba = ancient Arabian Saba) people: that they had a capital in Marib, a sovereign “federator” who united the kingdoms of Saba, an elegant and evolving script, a sophisticated dam near the capital that turned Marib’s dusty fields into oases, and that there is great evidence of Sabaean settlement in the area of Ethiopia near what would become Aksum. We know the Sabaeans of the 10th Century BC worshipped the moon god, Almaqah, though experts do not agree whether this was a male or female deity. We know that in terms of the ancient world, they were quite rich due in large part to their cultivation of frankincense in the southeastern region, and that they had an extensive and evolving trade network that extended as far north as Damascus, as far east as India, and as far west across the Red Sea as Ethiopia and the continent beyond.

  • The queen is a very minor character in the scope of the biblical narrative, but you assert that her famous visit to King Solomon is vitally important in the scope of Old Testament history. Why?

For two reasons. If the story of the United Monarchy (the kingdom of David and his son/successor, Solomon) is not true, then the bedrock of three major world religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) collapses into fiction, and the claim of Jews to the land of Israel with it. Perhaps the authors of 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles knew that, because they took the opportunity to basically say, “Hey, this queen from the ends of the earth, that famous Queen of Sheba, came and brought tribute to our king, and blessed him and our god and said ‘All that I heard was true, and I never even heard the half of it!’” This is fascinating. It begs the question: what was it that was so great about this female sovereign—in a time when the world was ruled by men—and a pagan, no less… what was it about her that was so outstanding that her endorsement of Solomon, his riches, wisdom, and god, held so much weight as to be included in the Old Testament narrative? Who was this woman who matched wits with the wisest man in the world—whose throne was so secure that she could leave it and make the 1400 mile journey of half a year to visit this king… before making the long trek back? Well, this must be a woman worth knowing something about.

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To find Tosca Lee online you can hop over to any of these sites:

Website: http://www.toscalee.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorToscaLee
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ToscaLee
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/427839.Tosca_Lee
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/toscalee/
Instagram: http://instagram.com/toscalee

Upcoming this later this week: More Q&A with Tosca Lee and most importantly a review of The Legend of Sheba!

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C.S. Lewis & Mere Christianity – Paul McCusker

C.S. Lewis & Mere Christianity is published by Tyndale House Publishers.

C.S. Lewis & Mere Christianity is published by Tyndale House Publishers.

About the Book
About the Author
Read a Sample

Summary: C. S. Lewis & Mere Christianity: The Crisis That Created A Classic is a look at the historical events of C. S. Lewis’s life and how they impacted his writing. The book also has tidbits of  information about the important people of the time period and the important people directly connected to C. S. Lewis. If you’ve ever wondered why C. S. Lewis wrote the way he did, or if you love all things C. S. Lewis, this will become an important book for your personal library.

Review: I love history and I love C. S. Lewis. That said, this is the perfect book for a nerdy book-lover like me! Paul McCusker did a great job bringing Lewis’s time period to life. This wasn’t just a book about C. S. Lewis, it was about the events that were happening during his life. After reading the book I have a better understanding of what C. S. Lewis lived through which in turn helps me understand a little better why he wrote Mere Christianity (which is one of my absolute favorite Lewis writings). I love the fact the Paul McCusker included pictures, not only of Lewis but of WWII. The book itself was well-researched and is easy to read. Sometimes history/biography can be a little bland and boring, but the author did a great job keeping this not overly heavy. The chapters are fairly short which helps keep you reading. None of this, “Great, I’m only halfway through this chapter and I’ve already read 50 pages.” (if you know what I mean).

There was really only one place that I felt confused when I was reading, and that may have been because I missed something earlier. In Chapter 5 the author mentions Minto and I can’t seem to figure out who that was. That doesn’t take away from the greatness of the book though. C. S. Lewis & Mere Christianity will definitely find a home on our bookshelves and will make a great homeschool resource!

Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own, no other  compensation was received.

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Woman of Courage – Wanda E. Brunstetter

Woman of Courage is published by Shiloh Run Press, an imprint of Barbour Publishing.

Woman of Courage is published by Shiloh Run Press, an imprint of Barbour Publishing.

About the Book
About the Author
Author Website

I’m doing a little different format this post. I think the book trailer is a great summary so I’ll let you watch that and then get on to the review!

If you’ve been following me for any length of time you know that romance isn’t usually my genre of choice. Too much yuck and not enough character development, all that sort of stuff. Having never read any Wanda Brunstetter books I wasn’t entirely sure what I was getting into, but based on the fact that the main character was a Quaker I was pretty sure it would be a decent read. And it was. There’s great character/story development but it does move a little slow for me. Admittedly, that’s probably just because I’m not used to the style.

What did I like about the book:

  • Clean romance. None of this hot and heavy stuff that people call romance. This was a true blue example of what real, pure romance is.
  • Great story line. Some parts did move a little slow but it was necessary for the character or story development.
  • The slowness didn’t take away from the book or make it hard to read.

All-in-all, I have a pretty good first impression of Wanda Brunstetter and her writing. While it’s not my first genre choice, and it was a little slow for me, I’d definitely pick up another of her books.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

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Face to Face with Jesus – Samaa Habib & Bodie Thoene

Face to Face with Jesus is published by Chosen, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Face to Face with Jesus is published by Chosen, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

About the Book
About the Author (Samaa)
About the Author (Bodie)

Summary: Born into a Muslim family in the Middle East, Samaa grew up following Islam. Unsatisfied by following the faith of her family, Samaa came to know Christ after her experiences in tae kwon do and in church (that she secretly attended). When a bomb explodes next to her head during a church bombing, Samaa is killed and meets Jesus in Heaven. Her testimony and fire for God have shown Christ’s love not only to her family but to others around the world.

Review: I’m always skeptical about accounts of people who have “gone to heaven” because really, it’s not something to be trifled with. You know? It’s a serious thing! For me, there were a few specifics that gave the account more credibility (listed from the book in order of appearance):

  • She grew up a devout Muslim. For a devout Muslim to make such a dramatic life changing decision is, in itself, a miracle. Only God can change a heart that dramatically!
  • The fact that she faced persecution, even within her own family, and still she didn’t turn back.
  • Her account of Heaven and Jesus matches up with what we know of them both from Scripture.
  • The fact that her experience brought more of her family to Christ, and that she didn’t immediately share her experience with the world.

Did I agree with all her theology and uses of Scripture? No, and that’s ok because we really shouldn’t agree 100% with anyone but God. But I give her credit and don’t doubt her story because I didn’t live her story so who am I to say God didn’t move in her life the way she says He did. I especially like what she says on pg. 181 about people asking her what she saw in Heaven. She says, “People have asked if I saw the New Jerusalem and the twenty-four elders…or family members, angels, clouds of witnesses… It was all there, but my eyes were fixed on Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords.” Really, that’s how it should be in Heaven because it is all about Jesus. Not about the streets of gold or who from the earth is in Heaven. Jesus.

Her story is well told, and it’s not just about going to Heaven, it’s about her whole life. Had she not given us all the details (less her country of origin, for obvious reasons) we wouldn’t be able to make an accurate assessment about her experience as a whole. I, for one, am appreciative of her sharing her story. And I pray that she continues to live her life for God. We won’t know for sure until we get to Heaven if her story is true, but if you’re willing to read her account with your Bible close by, it’s worth a read!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Merlin’s Nightmare – Robert Treskillard

Merlin's Nightmare is published by Blink, a trademark of Zondervan.

Merlin’s Nightmare is published by Blink, a trademark of Zondervan.

About the Book
About the Author
Author Website

Summary: Book Three in the “Merlin Spiral” Series, Merlin’s Nightmare takes place 18-ish years after Merlin’s Shadow ends. Arthur is now grown and Merlin is ready to settle down with his family. In a twist of events, Arthur goes missing and Merlin goes off to find him. While they’re gone, Arthur’s true identity is revealed to him and he must decide if he’s going to embrace it or run away from it. Merlin, also, must decide if he’s going to overcome his fears or let them destroy him. And what of Natalenya, Garth, and Caygek? Pick up Merlin’s Nightmare and find out!

Review: Truly one of the best series that I’ve ever read. There have been many series I’ve read that have started out good and fizzled out by the end, but not this one! If it’s even possible, Merlin’s Nightmare was better than its predecessors Merlin’s Blade and Merlin’s Shadow.  Robert Treskillard does an amazing job of story-telling and painting pictures with his words. Definitely a page-turner novel that you won’t want to put down! For being a newer author, he’s quickly becoming a favorite in our household. And just in case you’ve missed my reviews of the two previous books I’ll say it again because it’s worth repeating, Robert Treskillard gives a whole new perspective on the Merlin/Arthur/Camelot stories of old with his “Merlin Spiral” series.  Merlin’s not a magician/wizard, as he’s often portrayed, he’s a bard and follower of Christ.

There really were so many parts I liked, it’s hard to pick a favorite. The Epilogue was the perfect ending to the “Merlin Spiral” series; enough closure to feel complete, but enough “what’s going to happen?” to keep you interested in the upcoming “Pendragon Spiral” series. A close second is all of Chapter 34, but especially the conversation (pg. 357-358) where Merlin is asked “WHO IS YOUR KING?” and eventually ends with what readers will recognize as Matthew 10:28 (or Luke 12:4-5). Talk about tears.

HIGHLY recommend this book, especially for those who love Merlin/Arthur stories. The whole series is amazing and I look forward to reading more from Robert Treskillard.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own, no other compensation was received.

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