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.

March 20th, 2016

Back in the Saddle

The Prodigal Is Coming Home

It’s been a long time since Colt Stafford shrugged off his cowboy legacy for shiny Manhattan loafers and a promising career on Wall Street. But when stock market manipulations leave him financially strapped, the oldest son of legendary rancher Sam Stafford decides to return to the sprawling Double S ranch in Gray’s Glen, Washington. He’s broke, but not broken, and it’s time to check in with his ailing father, and get his legs back under him by climbing into the saddle again.

He doesn’t expect to come home to a stranger pointing a loaded gun at his chest— a tough yet beautiful woman that Sam hired as the house manager. Colt senses there’s more to Angelina Morales than meets the eye and he’s determined to find out what she’s hiding…and why.

Colt’s return brings new challenges. Younger brother Nick has been Sam’s right-hand man at the ranch for years and isn’t thrilled at having Colt insert himself into Double S affairs. And the ranch’s contentious relationship with the citizens of Gray’s Glen asks all the Stafford men to examine their hearts about what it truly means to be a neighbor. And as Wall Street recovers, will Colt succumb to the call of the financial district’s wealth and power—or finally the courage to stay in the saddle for good?

My Comments: I love books about cowboys and I love books about prodigals. This is a winner! We have mystery, redemption, romance, and reconciliation all wrapped up into this book. If all the books in this series are as engaging as this one, ladies and gentlemen, we have a winning new series!

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

March 10th, 2016

newsmakers

About the book:
Erica Sparks is a beautiful and ambitious reporter who has just landed her dream job at Global News Network in New York. And while it was hard to leave Jenny, her cherished eight-year-old daughter, in the custody of her ex-husband, Erica is determined to succeed in the cutthroat world of big-time broadcasting. She can only hope her troubled past won’t come back to sabotage her dreams.
Although the wounds from her divorce are still fresh, Erica can’t deny the chemistry between her and her new producer, the handsome and empathic Greg Underwood. But a relationship is the last thing she wants right now.
On her very first assignment, Erica inadvertently witnesses—and films—a horrific tragedy, scooping all the other networks. Mere weeks later, another tragedy strikes—again, right in front of Erica and her cameras. Her career skyrockets overnight, but Erica is troubled. Deeply. This can’t just be coincidence. But what is it?
Erica will stop at nothing to uncover the truth. But she has to make sure disaster—and her troubled past—don’t catch up with her first.

My Comments: I read this book after quite a dry spell with reading and I found it very engaging. The book was somewhat predictable, but not completely, and the not completely part made it quite a page turner. Erica lives the American dream. She is successful, beautiful, curious and just plain smart. Her quest for success brings her into contact with some people who are not all that ethical. Those unethical people (quite rightly so) cause her to question the others around her. She also, however, tends to find people who can help her in her search for truth.

Erica has a drive to find truth. This is what makes her such a great reporter. However, it also causes her and her close friends and family problems. Too many “events” just seem to happen when Erica is around. I wondered why and had my suspicions throughout the book.

If you enjoy clean, suspense novels, you will love this book. I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review, which I have given. This is a four star book!

March 6th, 2016

Flossopher

An adventure book for young Tooth Brushers. A children’s book that teaches the importance of taking care of your teeth. The Brite Forest is where Flossopher, who knows everything there is to know about teeth, lives with his friends. The evil Cavidorg plots to steal the magic Brushing Crown from, Sparkla, the mother of all Brushing Trees. Without the toothbrushes that the Brushing Trees grow, no one will brush, and everyone’s teeth will turn rotten. That way Cavidorg’s plant, Denture-Con, can make even more fake teeth for the world. Flossopher must find a way to save the Brite Forest from Cavidorg’s army of cavity bugs.

My Comments: What a fun book! I read this book to my second graders last week and they were completely engaged. The story is cute, the characters are darling, and the message is clear. STAY away from candy and sweets and make sure you brush your teeth at least twice a day—or else you may lose your teeth 🙂 Another completely fun thing about the book is that a you need to search for a tooth care kit. We could only find 6 of the 7. Five are easy to find and one is just about impossible (at least for us, maybe you will have better luck). I would say this is a great book for primary-aged children. My class of second-graders is about 7 or 8 years old. Maybe even up to fourth grade would enjoy this book. The illustrations are colorful as well. I will read this every year now!

February 26th, 2016

the bishop's son

Two men offer Leila two very different futures. Will she choose with her heart or with her faith?

Leila Lantz has been in love with Jesse Glick from the day she first saw him at his father’s store, but she can’t make sense of his intentions. One day he wants to come courting, the next he seems to be putting distance between them.

Jesse may be the bishop’s son, but his faith has been wavering of late. If he is so unsure, is it fair to give Leila false hope for a future he doubts he can provide?

Then there’s Will, Jesse’s cousin. He has been trying to keep his feelings for Leila a secret, but he also knows Jesse is wrestling with his faith. Would declaring his feelings for Leila be in her best interest or simply serving his own selfish desires?

Leila knows she can choose Will and be secure in her own future. But when her heart speaks, it’s Jesse’s name she hears. When will God make His will known to her? Could leaving everything she knows—even her own faith—be a part of God’s plan?

My Comments: It took me a little bit to get into this book, but I really liked it. The thought that the Amish would ban or shun a member who got involved in a different church group is unbelievable to me. Also the thought that they feel that they cannot share their faith bothers me. It makes it sound like a cult, which I don’t think technically they are, but to have such great news as our faith in Jesus and not share it, especially with people who may need to hear, bothers me. Personally I am drawn to Jesse, so I am rooting for him throughout the book. I feel that Leila and he are like-minded. Well in order to not spoil the book that is all I will share. This is an interesting book taking things to a different level. I recommend it, especially if you enjoy Amish fiction.

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

February 20th, 2016

duck devotional

With the ongoing popularity of A&E’s Duck Dynasty, the much-loved Robertson family has more to share about family, faith, and love than ever before. Alan (the beardless brother) and his wife Lisa have created a devotional combining their hard-won wisdom about love and marriage to help bring couples closer together and closer to God.

Alan and Lisa Robertson had a failing marriage. But with unwavering faith and the unconditional love of their ever-present family, they got through the tough times and rekindled their love. Now the Robertsons want to share what they’ve learned. Combining the spiritual with the practical, The Duck Commander Devotional for Couples has a simple purpose: to bring couples closer to God and to each other. Designed with busy couples in mind, this devotional encourages husbands and wives to set aside time weekly to enhance their relationship. Spending spiritually meaningful time together every day is often impossible, but Al and Lisa arranged this devotional with realistic goals, allowing you to experience success and the desire to meet together regularly.

Each devotional includes inspirational messages, relevant scriptures, thoughtful questions, and prayer suggestions. Whether you are happy in your marriage or struggling to hold it together, setting aside time to focus on each other and deepen your connections will improve your relationship and bring you closer to God.

My Comments: I like the way this book is laid out. There are weekly devotionals with some food for thought, a scripture, thought-provoking questions, and a space for the husband to write a reflection and a space for the wife to write a reflection. I wish my husband and I would have had something like this early on in our marriage. Some of the topics include Uniqueness, Promises, Prayer, Love, Forgiveness, Communication, The Holy Spirit, Trust, Friendship, and many more. There is a devotional for every week of one year. This is a great resource for Christian couples.

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