August 20th, 2016

address to die for
For professional organizer Maggie McDonald, moving her family into a new home should be the perfect organizational challenge. But murder was definitely not on the to-do list . . .

Maggie McDonald has a penchant for order that isn’t confined to her clients’ closets, kitchens, and sock drawers. As she lays out her plan to transfer her family to the hundred-year-old house her husband, Max, has inherited in the hills above Silicon Valley, she has every expectation for their new life to fall neatly into place. But as the family bounces up the driveway of their new home, she’s shocked to discover the house’s dilapidated condition. When her husband finds the caretaker face-down in their new basement, it’s the detectives who end up moving in. What a mess! While the investigation unravels and the family camps out in a barn, a killer remains at large-exactly the sort of loose end Maggie can’t help but clean up . . .

My Comments: Interesting concept—a professional organizer moving into a mess! Not only a mess, but a murdered body! Great beginning to what looks to be an engaging series! Thank you Ms. Feliz, this was a delightful read.

June 21st, 2016

the shark

At the grisly murder scene of a teen prostitute, Virginia state trooper Riley Tatum’s past roars back to haunt her. When she was a teenage runaway, she was kidnapped, drugged, and left unconscious on the streets. She has no memories of what happened, only strange recurring dreams of two men playing cards.

Former FBI agent Clay Bowman, Riley’s old flame, is Shield Security’s newest member. He’s plagued by the unsolved case of a serial killer nicknamed the Shark who murdered girls as part of a sadistic poker game. Only one girl survived. With the Shark now bent on evening that score, Clay has a chilling suspicion: Riley is the girl who escaped the Shark’s deadly amusement—and she is his next prey.

As the Shark gets ready to play his hand, can Riley and Clay stop him—or will this killer finally claim the one who got away?

My Comments:  

May 12th, 2016

The Gift

A New View on the Old Rugged Cross

Are peace, joy, and significance on your wish list? How about redemption, forgiveness, the salvation of your soul? Each of these descriptors bring us to the main event: grace. Saving grace, God’s immeasurable gift intended for all. Regardless of accomplishments or station in life, despite sins of the past, anyone can receive the free gift of grace.
Yet too often we take God’s incomparable gift for granted—despite the fact that God’s very Son paid for it with his body, breath, and blood. Understandably, we often find ourselves caught up in the daily routine of life, not taking time to reflect on the enormity of God’s mercy.
So here’s a suggestion: give yourself the gift of a few moments spent in the world of God’s grace. Read pastor Max Lucado’s unique, stirring insights into God’s role as grace-giver. Spend some time reflecting on the gift of grace, in all its magnificent meaning.
Let grace, the gift for all people, speak to you personally through these pages.
For All People—Even You

God loves you more than you can imagine.

Is that hard to believe? Many of us consider ourselves unworthy due to past sins and mistakes, wrong turns and missteps.,
But God’s gift of grace is limitless. Though we are undeserving, he offers grace. Though we are weak in our faith, he extends strength through grace. God’s endless grace is a free gift. It cannot be earned.
No matter who you are or what you’ve done, the all-powerful God waits for you to choose him, to choose life in his presence—here and in heaven.

“[God] simply wants you home with him. And to bring you home, he offers you a gift. My prayer is that through these pages you’ll see his gift like you’ve never seen it. If you’ve already accepted it, you’ll thank him again. And if you’ve never accepted it, you will. For it’s the gift of a lifetime, a gift for all people.”
—Max Lucado

My Comments:

This is a great devotional-type book. It’s easy to read, it has short chapters, and it’s a short book. Max Lucado is a prolific writer for good reason. I love every book I’ve read by him, this one included. The first half of the book focuses on Jesus – how He came. The second half deals with Jesus as well – why He came. The whole book deals with how he feels about us – His great love. God’s grace is hard for us to comprehend. This book full of short stories gives us a little more understanding. I recommend it. The book is short and an easy read.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.

May 7th, 2016

5 Habits

Have you ever gotten to the place where you just couldn’t take it anymore?

Dreams. Programs. Jobs. Relationships. There are so many different areas where we feel like calling it quits.

It’s time for an honest conversation on how not to give in to the temptation to give up.

Nicki Koziarz is a woman who has thrown in the towel a time or two. In fact, she’s quit just about everything in her life. But with God’s help, she’s discovered a few habits that have helped her and others conquer the choice to quit.

5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit will enable you to:
Evaluate the internal personal struggles that make you want to quit.
Cultivate consistent habits to help you progress toward your goals.
Receive a fresh dose of perspective from the Bible that will help you develop perseverance.
You are not made to quit! Join Nicki as she identifies five habits to help you keep going no matter what struggles may come your way.

My Comments: I have been there – I was a quitter. I still quit at times. I just can’t do all that I want to do. Sometimes that is not a good thing, however, that is why I was interested in this book, especially since it is based on the Biblical character of Ruth. The author is very honest in her struggles, which I could relate to. I think this book encouraged me to wait a little longer before quitting. It also helped me to understand people who give up on things I’m interested in or involved in before giving it half a chance.

This is a great book for young mothers who need to set a good example for their children — not to give up and quit something that may seem very difficult.

I bought this book on Audible and enjoyed listening to it each day as I drove to work. I also received a free copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review which I have given.

May 1st, 2016

unstuffed

STUFF. It’s everywhere. Lurking in corners and closets, spilling onto counters and coffee tables, creating havoc everywhere we look. And it’s not just the physical clutter that weighs us down. Oh no, it is the stress of overbooked schedule, and the weight of a life that sometimes feels oppressive and totally out of whack.

New York Times bestselling author Ruth Soukup feels your pain–she has been there too. Through personal stories, Biblical truth, and practical action plans, she will inspire and empower each of us to finally declutter not just our home, but our mind and soul as well. Unstuffed is real, honest, and gets right down to the question we are all facing–how can we take back our lives from the stuff that is weighing us down?

In this book we will:
Create a comprehensive vision for our homes, and make instant changes to improve its overall function.
Discover that more closet space is not the solution, and instead learn how to set strict limits for the stuff we bring in
Overcome the frustration of dealing with our kids’ influx of stuff and implement practical solutions for keeping the chaos at bay.
Recognize the pitfalls of an overstuffed schedule BEFORE it gets out of hand, and instead learn to combat the culture of busy that keeps us running from one thing to the next.
Finally conquer that mountain of paperwork that threatens to tumble down around us at any moment.
Let go of the guilt that gets attached to gifts and instead learn to separate our loved ones from their stuff.
Begin to cultivate our real friendships while eliminating the toxic relationships that weigh us down.
Who Needs This Book?

Unstuffed was written for anyone who feels stressed out or weighed down by a life that feel chaotic, out-of-control, and completely overstuffed. It speaks to the mom who is overwhelmed by the clutter that comes pouring into every facet of her home and schedule, from trinkets and paperwork to endless obligations and activities.

It is for the woman who craves not just a step-by-step guide to ridding our lives of STUFF, but a true understanding of why our lives become so stuffed in the first place–and what we can do to stop the madness, once and for all.

Most of all, it is for the person who is tired of feeling guilty for not being able to do it all, the woman who can’t ever quite seem to keep up with other people’s obligations of what her home is supposed to be, the mom who is exhausted by always trying to get it right.

Want to know if this book is for you?
Have you ever found yourself buying more storage containers to organize stuff you probably should have just gotten rid of?
Do you ever find yourself frustrated that even when you do manage to get your house cleaned up, it never seems to stay that way?
Do you sometimes feel like you can’t keep up with all the activities and obligations you have committed to?
Do you ever struggle to find an important piece of paper because there are just too many pieces of paper to keep track of?
Have you ever felt guilty for getting rid of something that was a gift, or held on to something you didn’t really like because someone gave it to you?
Do you feel like there are people in your life who simply suck the life out of you?
Have you ever felt like you need more balance?
If the answer to any of these questions is YES, this book provides realand practical solutions from someone who has been there. Ruth doesn’tjust offer advice, she walks it with you, and shares with brutal honesty her own mistakes, failures, and shortcomings. It is encouraging,motivating, and life-changing.

My Comments:  This book is so practical and helpful! My favorite part is titled “The Unstuffed Weekend Challenge.” I plan on doing this this summer when I’m off. I don’t feel I can do it now because my work (teaching) takes all my energy and I need to rest on the weekends, but this summer…watch out! Another section that spoke to me was the amount of paper a school child takes home. I’ve rethought what I send home to parents — I won’t send everything home anymore, just what’s necessary for them to understand how their child is doing.

We have clutter and “stuff” in all areas of our lives and this book addresses those areas – our homes, our minds, and our souls. The American way says to stay busy, busy, busy. This really isn’t good for any of us. I suggest this book as a great start to get our lives under control. I bought it on Audible and have started listening to it again. The book is engaging, practical and helpful. I highly recommend it!

I received a free copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review which I have given.

April 18th, 2016

Angels Wings
Despite needing a heart transplant and against the advice of her doctor, Mary Catherine moves to Uganda to work at a new orphanage. Whatever time she has left, Mary Catherine wants to spend it helping children—especially since there will be no children of her own. The only problem is Major League Baseball player Marcus Dillinger, the man she never meant to fall in love with. Neither Marcus nor Mary Catherine’s other friends—Tyler Ames and Sami Dawson—know just how serious her heart condition is.

Still, Marcus is sure in the depths of his soul that something isn’t right. Ultimately his correspondence with Mary Catherine leads him on a desperate life-or-death mission to rescue her and get her to a US hospital before time runs out. Meanwhile, Sami and Tyler struggle with issues of their own. In a season when Tyler plans to ask Sami to marry him, the very core of their relationship is in jeopardy.

The team of angels walking is busier than ever in this epic battle between life and death. Brush of Wings is a poignant tale of love, sacrifice, and the power of faith.

My Comments: This was a very typical Karen Kingsbury book. I would recommend this series to young adults and teens. It speaks of “Touched by an Angel,” and everything will turn out happily every after. I think for young adults it gives hope and maybe introduces them to the spiritual, angelic world. I’m not really sure that real angels play the role that they do in this book, however. I got totally frustrated by the stubbornness of Mary Catherine (which I’m not sure others would view as stubborn, but I did, others may see it as self-sacrificing.) Nevertheless, I read the book in its entirety and found it somewhat entertaining. It doesn’t seem real to life, but it give a great escape. It was quite predictable.

The publisher sent me a free review copy in exchange for my honest review, which I have given. I also listened to it on Audible on my commute back and forth to work. The Audible edition was well read and acted out.

April 17th, 2016

 

picture perfect family

MY PICTURE PERFECT FAMILY:
What Happens When One Twin Has Autism
http://margueriteelisofon.com/

By Marguerite Elisofon

In their family photos, the Elisofons look like they stepped out of a Hollywood movie—handsome father, beautiful mother, adorable son hugging his twin sister as she beams a radiant smile. The reality was quite different.

Out of the 11,600 children who were born today, some 171 will be diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). Receiving this news can be heartbreaking for parents whose fondest wish is to have a healthy child. Marguerite and Howard Elisofon were first alarmed, and then overwhelmed, when their daughter Samantha was diagnosed as being on the Spectrum. The family’s struggle to understand ASDs and find the optimal interventions—in the days before internet resources and autism parenting groups—are at the heart of the compelling memoir MY PICTURE PERFECT FAMILY: What Happens When One Twin has Autism by Marguerite Elisofon (Central Park Publishers; April 4, 2016).

Marguerite and Howard Elisofon eagerly anticipated starting a family. After receiving medical help to conceive, Marguerite joyfully found herself pregnant with twins. Born after only 33 weeks, Samantha’s introduction to the world was much more challenging than her brother’s. The differences between the twins continued to escalate after they left the hospital. The Elisofon’s overly sensitive infant daughter grew into a toddler who fell further and further behind her twin in language and cognitive development. Finally, at the urging of family members, they sought professional help and received the diagnosis they feared—their daughter was on the Autistic Spectrum.

MY PICTURE PERFECT FAMILY paints an engaging and at times heart-wrenching picture of the courage it takes to raise and advocate for a child who is far more than the sum of her ever-shifting diagnosis. Elisofon details the therapies, treatments, school searches and day-to-day victories of a little girl who so desperately wanted to fit into a world that didn’t understand her. She shares the considerable challenges met by the entire family including Samantha’s twin brother, Matthew. And she reveals the eventual triumphs as Samantha grows into a young woman who discovers a hidden gift for singing and pursues a college degree.

ASDs are the fastest growing developmental disabilities in the United States with an increase in diagnoses from 1 in 150 in 2000 to 1 in 68 in 2016 (1 in 42 for boys). Elisofon’s memoir is a stark reminder of the human being behind the diagnosis and the important work we must do in order to offer these children and young adults their best and brightest future.

MY PICTURE PERFECT FAMILY:
What Happens When One Twin has Autism
Marguerite Elisofon
Central Park Publishers; April 4, 2016
$14.95; 276 pages
ISBN: 978-1-938595-04-2

My Comments: I loved this book! Our school houses the autistic population in our district, and I, myself, have had a couple of high functioning autistic children in my second grade class. I found this book extremely informative from the families point of view. I feel that the Elisofons were very fortunate to be able to afford all of the help they were able to provide for their daughter. It was very enlightening to read about all the help available and how it actually helped (or didn’t). Also, since Samatha and Matthew were twins, I loved reading Matthew’s point of view and feelings. I could definitely relate to the mom, Marguerite. The marriage of Marguerite and Howard was very strong, even with all of the challenges a special needs child brings to the plate. I highly recommend this book to families dealing with autism and/or other special needs children.

April 6th, 2016

A Girl's Guide to Moving On

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • In this powerful and uplifting novel, a mother and her daughter-in-law bravely leave their troubled marriages and face the challenge of starting over. Leaning on each other, Nichole and Leanne discover that their inner strength and capacity for love are greater than they ever imagined.

When Nichole discovers that her husband, Jake, has been unfaithful, the illusion of her perfect life is indelibly shattered. While juggling her young son, a new job, and volunteer work, Nichole meets Rocco, who is the opposite of Jake in nearly every way. Though blunt-spoken and rough around the edges, Rocco proves to be a dedicated father and thoughtful friend. But just as their relationship begins to blossom, Jake wagers everything on winning Nichole back—including their son Owen’s happiness. Somehow, Nichole must find the courage to defy her fears and follow her heart, with far-reaching consequences for them all.

Leanne has quietly ignored her husband’s cheating for decades, but is jolted into action by the echo of Nichole’s all-too-familiar crisis. While volunteering as a teacher of English as a second language, Leanne meets Nikolai, a charming, talented baker from Ukraine. Resolved to avoid the heartache and complications of romantic entanglements, Leanne nonetheless finds it difficult to resist Nikolai’s effusive overtures—until an unexpected tragedy tests the very fabric of her commitments.

An inspiring novel of friendship, reinvention, and hope, A Girl’s Guide to Moving On affirms the ability of every woman to forge a new path, believe in love, and fearlessly find happiness.

My Comments: Debbie Macomber has another hit with this book. I loved it and was quite engaged throughout. I know I’ve read about these characters before in “The Last One Home.” It was great revisiting them and learning how they have come along. The main characters in this book, however, are Nichole and Leanne both have cheating, immature husbands. They each meet a new love, someone who actually deserves them. Each man is opposite of the women’s original husband, which makes the book very entertaining and unpredictable. Before they can have a good relationship, they need to learn how to live on their own. Interesting and happy book. I received a free e-copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.

March 29th, 2016

wedding cake murder

Everyone in Lake Eden, Minnesota, may have had their doubts, but at long last, Hannah Swensen is getting married!
Hannah is thrilled to be marrying Ross Barton, her college crush. And her excitement only grows when she learns he’ll be able to join her on her trip to New York City for the Food Channel’s dessert chef contest. They get a taste of the Big Apple before Hannah wins the Hometown Challenge and the producers bring all the contestants to Lake Eden to tape the remainder of the show. It’s nerve-wracking enough being judged by Alain Duquesne, a celebrity chef with a nasty reputation. But it’s even more chilling to find him stabbed to death in the Lake Eden Inn’s walk-in cooler—before he’s even had a chance to taste Hannah’s Butterscotch Sugar Cookies! Now Hannah has not only lost her advantage, she’ll have to solve a mystery with more layers than a five-tiered wedding cake…

My Comments: What a great read! I love Hannah and her family. I have to say though I will miss Norman and Mike. Ross is a relatively new character, but I guess that is what it took for Hannah to tie the knot, and he has already endeared himself to me. The food cooking contest was a great idea for this story–something a little different. All of my favorite characters were present and accounted for. I wonder what direction these stories will go in now that Hannah is married?.? I can’t wait to find out!

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.

 

March 25th, 2016

vulnerable

The Smallest Mistake

Three went in; one came out. For five years, no trace has been found of two high-school friends who went hiking in the woods near Nashville. The third teen, Amber Ryder, was discovered at the bottom of a ravine with a broken arm, head trauma–and zero memory of the horror that put her there.

Will Put You

What started as a cold case has become a fresh hell for forensic technician Georgia Morgan. Another woman’s body is found in the woods, and it leads to the missing teens’ remains. But while Georgia works with Amber to try and reawaken her memories, her gut tells her the worst is yet to come.

At A Killer’s Mercy

Homicide Detective Jake Bishop can’t be sure whether Amber is an expert manipulator or the killer’s next target. Either way, he’s determined to protect Georgia. Because the deeper she digs into the past, the deadlier the secrets that emerge, and a nightmare years in the making is about to come to a bloody, terrifying end…

My Comments: This book kept me totally engaged, and I read it in it’s entirety in one day. The characters were interesting and I remember them from previous books by Mary Burton which made it even more interesting. There were several twists and turns in the plot. It was a combination of a cold case and a current ongoing case(s). A little romance is thrown in (although too much graphic sex for me – the story would have been great without it). I speed read through those parts. Violence was also part of this book, although again I speed read through those parts. I enjoyed this book and recommend it for those who enjoy mystery and police-stories.