Sunday, May 21, 2017

"The Cottage" Book Review

Mysteries abound in many family trees, and even more so if that family heritage and lineage is unknown to us.  Thus is the case of Alonnah "Loni" Ford, and American businesswoman who is suddenly thrust into a legacy she never knew existed.  This is the main theme of "The Cottage", one of many fiction books by author Michael Phillips.

The setting for "The Cottage" is a modern 2006, and the aforementioned Loni Ford has her life given quite the surprise at the death of one Mr. Macgregor Tulloch.  Macgregor Tulloch turns out to be a distant relative on her mother's side and the former laird (lord - as in landlord) of Whales Reef, Shetland Islands, Scotland.  His death and the subsequent search for an heir to his title leads to Loni, and she becomes the heiress to the island.  Yes - you read correctly - the island - and the entire estate therein.

Loni at first decides that she would rather sell it and continue with her life in the States unaffected by the situation.  Her boss, Madison Swift, convinces her she should at least go to the island and see exactly what all of it entails.  She, out of sound advice and her own curiosity about her unknown genealogy, decides to do just that.  This proves to be a bit bewildering and challenges Loni in ways she never considered.

As in many of these cases, there are often others who claim to have a part, or all, of family inheritances.  There is another on the island who claims that he is the rightful heir to the estate in its entirety.  Thus enters one bitter fisherman by the name of Hardy Tulloch.  This man joins the efforts of an oil tycoon from Texas to try to get the island in Hardy's name, with less than honorable plans. Sort of like making a deal with the devil.

References to the reformation of Christianity in Scotland, the development of the Quakers, and the details of the change in how aristocracy works among the people makes for another interesting part of this story.

Sometimes visiting your childhood home and taking time to listen to God amidst the confusion reaps peace and clarity one doesn't expect.  Thus is the case for Loni as she travels back to her grandparents in America after the confusion of all that transpires.  It is there that she finds that the Lord has a surprise or two, and gives her the peace she needs to continue her journey.

A small island, villagers with big hearts (and big mouths), letters and a journal from the past, and a wool factory all take their place in this very delightful book.  Of course, let me not forget to mention the island's Chief, an interesting man by the name of David Tulloch, whom many of the islanders believe to be the rightful heir.  You'll have to read the book yourself to see how his presence changes the grande scheme of things.

While "The Cottage" is Book 2 in the series Secrets of the Shetlands, it stands alone very well.  Once again, I'm thrilled that Bethany House provided this book for me to read and review.  Michael Phillips is becoming one of my favorite authors and I look forward to reading more of his books.

Twists and turns, questions and sometimes surprising answers, and a little bit of romance make this a read well worth your time.

"The Cottage" by Michael Phillips gets 'two thumbs up' from me!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

"When God Made You" Book Review

My heart has a soft spot for children's books.  So when I have the chance to read a new one I take it. Partly because I'm always looking for good books to read to my grandchildren, partly because I love giving books to kids as gifts, and partly because I really enjoy reading them myself.

The latest book I've looked at is "When God Made You" by Matthew Paul Turner, illustrated by David Catrow.

This book has a fun quality to it that definitely stirs the imagination.  The message throughout the book is that God makes each of us as unique individuals, thinks about every detail of what makes us that unique person, delights in each one of us, and has a part in His story for every person He creates. Turner puts it so beautifully in his words:

"That you - yes, YOU - in all of your glory, bring color and rhythm and rhyme to God's story."

The story encourages children to discover and explore the world around them, and use the talents and passions that God has given them to make a difference.  It encourages imagination, creativity, and love for one another.  It's rather empowering and encouraging to children, giving a message of love, hope, joy and kindness.

The illustrations are a bit unusual, but colorful, rich, lavish, and fun.  Catrow uses a unique style of his own to bring across the visual splendor of the book that was unexpected, but grew on me as it continued.

My only concern while reading the story is that Turner writes things like:

"You, you, when God dreams about you, God dreams about all that in you will be true."

"You being you is God's dream coming true."

"Over YOU, God was smiling and already dreaming."

My wish is that the author would have used more biblically accurate words instead of dreaming like:  

"When God thinks about you, God thinks about all that in you will be true,"  
"You being you is God's plan/desire coming true," 
"Over YOU, God was smiling and already planning."  

It may seem a silly thing, especially when you consider the fun rhyming that is throughout the book, and it may even seem a little technical.  But when I read the word dreaming, I thought to myself, "Does God dream?  Where in the Bible does it say God dreams?"  When I consulted a few resources about it, I found nothing to verify that God dreams.  We know that God creates all things, and that He has a plan, purpose, and desire for our lives.  But when you replace plan, purpose, and desire with the word "dream", it places God in the light a bit less than Who He Is.  It places Him in the light of a dreamer, who really doesn't have full control over what happens in our lives, and removes His status of Sovereign Creator and Lord.  And that is where I have a problem.  God isn't a dreamer.  He is our Creator, our Maker, Lord of All, and definitely in full control.  

Now, having said that, I can see where it appears harmless to use the word "dream" in place of these other words.  Perhaps Turner thought that children could relate to God better if they thought God was dreaming about them.  Perhaps God really does dream about us before He creates us.  I don't know that He doesn't necessarily dream about us before He creates us.  All I know is that God didn't reveal anything about His "dreaming" anything in the Bible, and that's all the authority I have and need in which to defer.

My point is, that when we are reading stories to children about God and His nature, we should be very careful about the words we use.  We want children to know God makes them with pride, thought and joy.  That they are all incredible individuals God created, that He delights in them, and that they have purpose in His plan.  The overall tone of this book does indeed have a beautiful, wonderful way to encourage children to be bold, brave, creative, unique individuals.  That part I dearly love.  But with the use of the word "dreamer", I'm hesitant to read this to a child.  If I did end up reading the book to any child for some unknown reason, I would have to explain that God is not a "dreamer", and would have to tell them that the other words like - thinks, plans, creates, desires, and hopes - are a better way to describe God.  Because I want them to have the reverence for God that He deserves, and requires, and I want to stress to them that God really IS in control and always watches over them.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  My only wish is that I could give it a big thumbs up because the overall tone is wonderful.  Unfortunately, I really can't because God is not a "dreamer".

I give this one a "proceed with caution and discernment", with the forewarning of the need to reinforce the true nature and status of God in His full sovereignty should you decide to add it to your collection.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

"Nourishing Meals" Book Review

This cookbook is really a wonderful resource.  We have people in our family who have food intolerance, sensitivity, and food allergies, so I wanted to have something on hand to prepare food for them. When I saw this cookbook I was attracted to the thought of whole, wholesome, allergen-free cooking.

There are many recipes for meats, veggies, meals, breads, smoothies, desserts and more!  The ingredients are easy to find, and the recipes are easy to follow.  Not only are these good for ensuring safe eating for those with food issues, they are really good, whole, wholesome foods.  Even if you do not have allergies or intolerance to specific foods or ingredients, you can use this cookbook for great recipes overall.

In addition to the recipes, they have information about different, common food allergies.  They address processed foods, the importance of whole foods, organics, and eating a "plant-rich" diet. There is information about gluten intolerance - which is becoming quite common - and the symptoms, where it may be hidden in foods, and what it's all about.  The authors provide information on why food allergies and sensitivities are on the rise, food additives, toxins, gmo, and the effects all of these have on our bodies.

So as well as being very informative to explain the process and effects of food intolerance, allergies, and sensitivities, you get recipes to use that will help ensure you're eating well, and eating within your own - or other's - sensitivities.

I was privileged to receive this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a review.  My review is honest, unbiased, and I do recommend this cookbook for everyone!

"Nourishing Meals" gets a 'thumbs up' for certain!

Friday, August 26, 2016

"Someone Like You" Book Review

There can never be too many Christian Romance books to read, and discovering new authors is great. I had such a great discovery with Victoria Bylin, who writes both contemporary and historical romances.  Her book "Someone Like You" is worth your time.

The story is about Julia Dare, a single mother, who owns and runs her own event-planning business, and is a new Christian.

Our other main character is Zeke Monroe, who had been a strong christian influence in his younger years, but strayed away from God.  He's the general manager of a financially-struggling historic California resort called Caliente Springs.

A big account from Julia's business sends her to Caliente Springs, where the two meet.  Again.  Yes - they had been college sweethearts, and along the way their relationship bitterly ended.  This would be their first encounter with each other since their college days.

With Max, the father of Julia's young son, causing problems, there's conflict interjected in real-life scenarios throughout the book.

There's a hopeful relationship between Julia's widowed mother and one of the owners of the resort, and of course, there's an attraction between Zeke and Julia that is hindered by their past.  Only a clear understanding of exactly what went wrong in their past and forgiveness can help them overcome their fears and doubts with one another.

This is a wonderful modern romance that has great Christian undertones of faith and forgiveness, and a nice relationship-redemption story.

I was privileged to receive this book as part of the Bethany House blogger program in exchange for a review.  I'm glad they sent it.  I can honestly say that it was a good read, and one I recommend buying!

I give "Someone Like You" a 'thumbs up'.  It was a joy to read!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

"God Gave Us Thankful Hearts" Book Review

Let me begin by saying I am in love with this book!

"God Gave Us Thankful Hearts" is the latest in the 'God Gave Us...' series by Lisa Tawn Bergren.  And it's perfectly set to arrive for reading during this Autumn season!  

Lisa Bergren carries on with the delightful, heartwarming, lesson-teaching books to which I've grown accustomed.  Her writing style hits true to the feelings and concerns of children and parents alike, and the illustrations done by David Hohn are colorful, attractive and fun.

While most of Bergren's 'God Gave Us...' book feature bears, "God Gave Us Thankful Hearts" features a wolf cub named Little Pup.  The book is set in the Great North Woods, where Little Pup and his parents live.  It is Autumn, and they are anticipating the coming 'hibernating season'.  Little Pup is sad because so many of his friends will go away to hibernate soon and he won't have anyone to play with.

His mother reminds him of all the beautiful colors of Fall, and the friends he will have in Winter.  She reminds him that "there's a reason for us to be thankful in every season". As they go about their day, and the various activities therein, he's reminded about all the fun, good things Autumn and Winter bring.  His mood is lifted and Little Pup gradually shifts from sad to thankful.

Through their fun activities and reminders of God's provisions, I found myself shifting my focus to thankfulness as well.  So, while this book is written for children, we adults can learn and enjoy it just as much as the little ones to whom we are reading (or who are reading to us).

We can all use a reminder to look more on the bright side of life
and be grateful for all God provides!

It was my pleasure, honor and privilege to receive "God Gave Us Thankful Hearts" from Blogging for Books to review before its release date.  I'm so very grateful to have read and reviewed it, and to have it in my library for anyone else to read.  My grandchildren are going to love it!

"God Gave Us Thankful Hearts" by Lisa Tawn Bergren releases on August 23rd, and I suggest you run to your local store or order it online as soon as it does!  This is a MUST for any child's (or grandparent's) library!  I'm so glad I have it in mine, and I'll be adding it to my grandchildren's collection of Lisa Bergren 'God Gave Us...' books.

Click on the book below and you'll be sent to a site where you can choose which online source from which to order.

To see the other 'God Gave Us...' books, as well as more of what
Lisa Tawn Bergren has written, visit the author's website HERE!

"God Gave Us Thankful Hearts" gets a big 'two thumbs up' from me!  Happy reading!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

"The Pediatrician's Guide to Feeding Babies & Toddlers" Book Review

Eight months ago our daughter had her first baby.  This is our third grandchild, and it is a privilege for me to be 'the nanny', as I babysit her while Mommy works.

Although, it's been 25 years since I've had to worry about a baby, and some things have changed over the years, particularly in the area of when, how, and what to feed babies. Enter in "The Pediatrician's Guide to Feeding Babies & Toddlers" by Anthony F. Porto, MD MPH & Dina M. Dimaggio, MD.

When I first picked up this book I wasn't sure what to expect, and thought it might be full of medical terminology and information way over my head.  What a relief to find out that it is written so we can all understand it, and is way more helpful than I ever expected!

If you have any concerns about nutrition, when and how to start solids, allergies, how to address picky eating, and general feeding, this is the book for you!  

Not only do they cover all of the aforementioned topics, the authors also address expected developmental milestones, breastfeeding, teething, and other medical concerns common in babies and toddlers.  There is even a section on when it might be necessary to visit a specialist and what to expect at the visit.

To top it off, there are healthy recipes for parents, babies and toddlers that are not only very easy, but very tasty!

Our little bundle of joy happens to have a reaction to anything associated with Dairy Protein.  Our daughter is still breastfeeding, so not only does Baby have to be dairy-free, but Mommy has to be dairy-free.  While that sounds easy enough, we found out that her sensitivity is so high that we have to be very careful and read labels for all of the "hidden" dairy in foods.  

On Pages 224 and 225 of this amazing resource, they've listed tips for 'Avoiding Your Allergen'. They actually have lists of all the ingredients to avoid when your child has a sensitivity or allergy.  Who knew that casein and all caseinates in all forms (a popular ingredient in a lot of foods) are dairy?  I had no idea.  On the list it warned that sometimes margarine contains milk product, and when we checked our margarine we found out that yes, indeed, it contained whey a milk protein.  Yikes!  So I snapped a photo of the list on my phone and have it available to review to be certain we don't make the mistake of getting something with "hidden" dairy in it.

They provide ingredient-free lists for dairy (milk), wheat, egg, soy, shellfish, tree-nut, peanut, and fish. Very valuable information these days with all of the allergies our little ones have right?  I love that they included this!

While I happened to receive this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a review, I am thrilled to say that my review is honest and unbiased.  I don't know what I'd do without this guide, and I am so grateful to have it to reference when I need the information. 

If there is ONE BOOK you get when you want information about feeding your baby and/or toddler, this needs to be that book!  I have it on the bookshelf in my living room and use it all the time.  I've even used it to help other mommies and grandparents when they've had questions.  Of course, I tell them to buy it too, so they don't have to ask me.

Seriously though, this book needs to be in the hands of every parent, and will be one of the blessings I provide to parents when they have their first child.  It is that important and valuable.

"The Pediatrician's Guide to Feeding Babies & Toddlers" by Anthony F. Porto, MD MPH & Dina M. Dimaggio, MD is available in sturdy paperback and as an ebook for your convenience.  I am overjoyed to give this book an emphatic "two thumbs up"!

Here is the link for it again:  

Friday, July 15, 2016


"Father God bring us peace!  Please!  Bring us peace!"

I cried for our nation this morning as I cried out to God in prayer.  I prayed for peace.

What have we become?  How did our morals, our respect for the law, and our Christian livelihoods so quickly decline?  How did we let satan get such a huge stronghold in our Christian-founded nation? Most importantly, why are we letting the evil, the hate, the lawlessness, and the terror continue?

We aren't spending enough time in God's Holy Word.  We're not focusing our attention on obeying God and doing what makes God happy.  We've strayed away from living as Christ directed.  We're spending less time praying for one another and praying for peace.  We've stopped voting for and insisting upon godly leaders.  We need to get back to living our lives for Christ, and producing the fruits of the Spirit.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, 
faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law."
Galatians 5:22-23 NASB

We're spending too much time listening to (and falling for) the evil, hateful, violent, degrading, race baiting lies of the enemy.  Those who seek to do the devil's work are only too eager to seek, kill and destroy.

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; 
I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly."
John 10:10 NASB

I can't help but to think that if we spent more time honoring God, taking action in our nation as we stand for God, and less time standing back watching satan's minions destroy our nation, that we could take our country back and make it strong once again.

My fellow Christ followers, my fellow law-abiding citizens, my fellow Americans - it's time to take a stand for our lives, our families, our nation, and our God!  Generations before us dropped the ball, and it's been rolling downhill, gaining momentum and size ever since.  I call out to you to take action now.  If not for yourselves then for those who come behind us. The future of our children, our children's children, and generations to come depends on it.

The great Charles H. Spurgeon put it this way in one of his sermons from 1888:

"It is today as it was in the Reformer's days.  Decision is needed.  Here is the day for the man, where is the man for the day?  We who have had the gospel passed to us by martyr hands dare not trifle with it, nor sit by and hear it denied by traitor, who pretend to love it, but inwardly abhor every line of it...Look you, sirs, there are ages yet to come.  If the Lord does not speedily appear, there will come another generation, and another, and all these generations will be tainted and injured if we are not faithful to God and to His truth today. We have come to a turning-point in the road.  If we turn to the right, mayhap our children and our children's children will go that way; but if we turn to the left, generations yet unborn will curse our names for having been unfaithful to God and to His Word." 
                                        - (

We need to take a stand now!  That stand begins on our knees, and continues on our feet, heels dug in, our Armor on, fighting against satan and fighting for Christ.

"Therefore, take up the full armor of God,
so that you will be able to withstand in the evil day, 
and having done all, to stand firm.  
Stand therefore, having fastened on the BELT OF TRUTH, 
and having put on the BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, and, as
SHOES for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the GOSPEL OF PEACE.
In all circumstances take up the SHIELD OF FAITH,
with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;
and the SWORD OF THE SPIRIT, which is the WORD OF GOD,
praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.
To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,"
Ephesians 6:13-18 ESV

We must preface all action with prayer and petition to the Lord!  

"Be anxious for nothing,but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving
let your requests be made known to God."
Philippians 4:6 NASB

We must never rely on our own understanding, but seek the Lord's guidance at all times!

"Trust in the LORD with all your heard and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight."
Proverbs 3:5-6 NASB

Oh that we would ALL seek the wisdom of God and PRAY FOR PEACE!

I call upon God's strength and His peace in this tumultuous world.  I don't have the answers.  I'm just praying to the One and Only True God Who does!

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving
let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:6-7 NASB

I'm praying for peace for myself, my family, my church, my community, our leaders, my country and the world.  God directs us to pray for these in His Holy Word, and it just makes good sense!  

Paul put it in just the right words in his letter to Timothy:

"First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings
be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions,
that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way."
1 Timothy 2:1-2 ESV

I'm Praying for Peace.

Won't you?

Reba McEntire produced and sang a song called "Pray For Peace" and posted it on her facebook account on July 21, 2014.  I hope it helps drive my point home.  Have a listen: