Archive for the 'Reviews' Category

Sweet Caroline by Rachel Hauck

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

About the book:   Caroline Sweeney has always done the right thing – the responsible, dependable thing – unlike her mother who abandoned her family.  But when her best friend challenges her to accept an exciting job adventure in Barcelona, Spain, Caroline says “yes” to a new destiny. 

    Then, without warning, ownership of the run-down café where she’s been waitressing falls right into Caroline’s lap.  While she’s trying to determine the cafe’s future, handsome Deputy Sheriff J.D. Rand captures Caroline’s heart.

    But when her frist love, Mitch O’Neal, comes back to town, fresh from the heat of his newly-found fame as a country music singer in Nashville, Caroline must make some hard choices about love and the pursuit of the sweet life.

My review:  Cute story!   I went to university in South Carolina so it was fun to read the southern words and phrases, town names, and unique culture that she sprinkles throughout the book.  The characters are nicely developed.  In fact, I was happy to see that there are more books from Rachel based on some of the other characters in this book.  The main character is great, but maybe a little too perfect.  I’m in a phase right now where I like the characters to be flawed – maybe looking for some empathy out there!  But she is darling and likeable.  The ending is a bit unexpected and makes you wish the story went on just a bit longer.  Now that’s the way to end a book!

Mr. Duey – Class Dis-Missed CD or Download

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

Mr. Duey’s Class Dis-Missed CD (or download on contains 17 rap type songs on different aspects of education. Mr. Duey created this CD while teaching sixth grade and observing where his students were struggling. Included on the CD are five Math songs (integers, GCF/LCM, Point plotting, fractions and measurement); four Language Arts songs (nouns, verbs, essays, and adjectives); four science songs (state of matter, rocks, cells, and atoms) and four social studies songs (lattitude/longitude, core democratic values, branches of government, and things changed).

This CD is excellent for grades 5-8, however, I will be using six songs with my second graders: nouns, verbs, adjectives, measurement, things changed (speaks of Martin Luther King, Jr.) and core democratic values because I think my students would understand these and they go with our standards. The songs have a great beat, and I’m pretty sure my students will love them. Words are included, so they can be easily taught to students. Students remember words to songs they like and enjoy singing. I think they will especially enjoy rap. Thank you Mr. Duey for providing another way to reach students with valuable information that they need to know!

For more information on this CD, visit

Calvin Miller

Monday, July 21st, 2008

I love using Calvin Miller’s Devotionals. I found the first one I used, “The Christ of Christmas” when browsing in a local Christian bookstore in St. Louis. I bought it to help me really get ready for the spiritual significance of the holiday. It did just that. The next one I bought was “The Christ of the Easter” which helped me again zero in on what Easter is all about. Because I loved these books so much I also bought “The Christ We Knew: Eyewitness Accounts from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.” Even though I have had this book for several years, I am just now getting into it. It is thought-provoking and very helpful. The devotionals have really given me something to chew on for several days a piece. The format of this particular book is you first read the devotional on a particular passage of Scripture in one of the Gospels, then you read the entire chapter from the Holman Christian Standard Bible. This book includes classical art and explanations of each picture and gives a little information about the artist.

Calvin Miller’s writing is profound, yet easy to read and practical. The Christ We Knew takes you through the birth of Christ right to the Ascension of Christ. Each book is divided into 31 days of devotions. I usually spend about 5-10 minutes each morning before work reading them – that’s about how long it takes. I have gone back to reread several.

Calvin Miller is a writer and speaker. He worked with others on the translation of the Holman Christian Standard Bible. Miller is a career pastor and teaches at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama. For more information on Calvin Miller visit his web site at

The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti

Thursday, July 10th, 2008

About the Book: Twelve year-old Ren is missing his left hand. How it was lost is a mystery that Ren has been trying to solve for his entire life, as well as who his parents are, and why he was abandoned as an infant at Saint Anthony’s Orphanage for boys. He longs for a family to call his own and is terrified of the day he will be sent alone into the world.

But then a young man named Benjamin Nab appears, claiming to be Ren’s long-lost brother, and his convincing tale of how Ren lost his hand and his parents persuades the monks at the orphanage to release the boy and to give Ren some hope. But is Benjamin really who he says he is? Journeying through a New England of whaling towns and meadowed farmlands, Ren is introduced to a vibrant world of hardscrabble adventure filled with outrageous scam artists, grave robbers, and petty thieves. If he stays, Ren becomes one of them. If he goes, he’s lost once again. As Ren begins to find clues to his hidden parentage he comes to suspect that Benjamin not only holds the key to his future, but to his past as well.

My Review:This book is really different from anything I’ve read lately, and I absolutely loved it! It’s a really fun book with vivid characters, imaginative descriptions, and spot on perfect pacing.

I have to admit that the idea of resurrection men wasn’t totally new to me, having just read Tess Gerritsen’s The Bone Garden last year. (and that’s a GREAT book, too). This book, however, takes a different look at it. I’ve read some reviews that say the characters are like Dickens characters, and I can kind of see that…I also kept thinking of Pinnochio!

That’s not to say the book is at all juvenile, the world in this story is brought quickly to life, I came to care about Ren and the people who enriched his life very quickly, and the adventures and experiences he has in the company of Benjamin Nab are masterfully spun like a grand tale. This is the sort of book you pick and don’t want to put down until you’ve turned the last page. Highly recommended.

I received this book as part of Book Browse’s First Impressions program. It will release in stores at the end of August and is published by The Dial Press an imprint of Random House.
I enjoyed the book so much that I went looking for more information! Hannah Tinti has a great website with some questions and answers and a chance to read the first chapter. I hope you’ll check them out!

Leigh by Lyn Cote

Friday, June 13th, 2008

leigh.jpgThe third in a tale of four generations of women set against the sprawling tapestry of the 20th century from award-winning author Lyn Cote. Linda Leigh Sinclair is born in the aftermath of WW II. Lovingly raised at Ivy Manor with everything she could possibly need, she is still discontent and finds herself gravitating toward the fringe elements of society. At 17, the modern civil rights movement comes crashing into Leighs life. Choosing a journalists life over her parents wishes, she immerses herself in the rights movement and anti-war protests over Vietnam. She is caught up in the winds of change, falls in love with a young radical, and is devastated when he leaves her. Shes made some bad choicesand shes pregnant. Leigh must learn to juggle single motherhood with workand more importantly, learn that with Gods help she can finally grow into the strong and mature woman she is capable of being.

My comments: I loved this book because it was just before and part of MY history. Leigh faced some real tragedies and didn’t always make the best choices. In many ways I feel like she was ahead of her time in some of her tastes. She had an interesting group of friends and most of the time she made good choices, but made one very wrong choice which had life-long consequences. Her mother, Bette, came across as cold and intolerant, but thankfully she had other women of Ivy Manor to support her during her rough periods. Again, this book is a winner and I recommend it!

Super Six

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

super-six.jpgIf you are really interested in learning more about improving your child’s reading comprehension, or you are a home schooler, or you are a teacher, this is the book to get.  We were very blessed to have the author, Lori Oczkus do a workshop at our school last year.  She has tremendous ideas that help children with the comprehension skills of: predict/infer; question, monitor/clarify; summarize; and evaluate.  The book and cd include many reproducibles to support the strategies.  I have tried many of her ideas in my classroom.  They are fun, upbeat, and memorable.  The children learn.  Give it a try!

Chill Out Josey by Susan May Warren

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

josey.jpgAbout the Book: Josey Anderson will be the perfect wife. She and Chase did have the perfect wedding—if you don’t count the matron of honor going into labor. Now all she has to do is find a cute Cape-style house, report for the Gull Lake, Minnesota, paper, bake cookies and learn to sew—is that so difficult?But when Chase lands a new job—in Moscow—Josey’s dreams disintegrate. After all, she’s been there, done that as a missionary, and a city without year-round hot water, decent takeout or…maternity clothes—that’s not perfection! But what’s the perfect wife to do?

My Review: I loved the first book, Everything’s Coming Up Josey and equally enjoyed Chill Out, Josey!. Josey has such a fun voice and Susan’s prose is effortless and fun. I devoured this book in just a few hours. It was interesting to me to read about how different Josey’s second Moscow experience is. Additionally, I found the ways Josey fills her time to be really interesting. There are some elements to the plot that might not be one hundred percent believable, but Susan handles them with such humor and fun that it’s hard not to just go along with it for the fun. These are among the best books in Christian chick-lit. 9.5 out of 10.

Step Up with Beth Moore

Monday, April 14th, 2008

stepping-up.jpgI have been doing Beth Moore Bible studies on my own for many years. I buy the workbook and the CDs and go from there. Now I am just finishing up “Stepping Up – a journey through the Psalms of Ascent.” I am always challenged by these studies and Stepping Up is no exception. I do five days of intense study on the passages – in this case Psalms 120-134, then I listen to the accompanying teaching cd. The new feature is that now you can download each teaching session online through LifeWay. I will do this for the last session.

For the six week study, Beth has us read each psalm in two different versions of the Bible, then we “Say It, Work It, and Pray It.” After saying it and working it, you are very ready to pray it – praying Scripture in your own words. This has been very beneficial to me. By the way even though it is set up to be a six-week study, I take my time. I’ve been working on this since the end of January. So this six week study will take me 8-10 weeks.

The Psalms of Ascent were sung on the pilgrimage to the three great feasts – Feast of Unleavened Bread, Feast of Weeks, and Feast of Tabernacles. The pilgrims go through many situations which we can easily relate to and they and we can learn many truths about God and His Word to apply to our own lives in difficult situations.

I highly recommend this and all of Beth Moore’s Bible studies. It is available through LifeWay bookstores.

Mary Higgins Clark’s “I Heard That Song Before”

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

i-heard-that-song-before.jpgI love Mary Higgins Clark’s books. I think I have read every single one and they never disappoint me. The most recent one I read was “I Heard that Song Before.” Again, this was a Sam’s Club find.

Imagine marrying a little later in life to a very wealthy, handsome business man. This is what happened to our main character. Only problem…he has been a person of interest in two murder cases. As soon as they marry he becomes even more than just a person of interest and lands in prison. There are a few twists and turns in this story (as in all murder mysteries). How do you feel about sleepwalking? Have you ever done it? Do you know somebody who has? What do you think a person is capable of? Read this book and you may find some answers.

I love Mary Higgins Clark’s books because they never fail to satisfy and definitely keep my limited attention, but not only that…they are clean. I don’t have to worry about filling my mind with garbage or filtering what I read. It’s nice to know there are some books out there like that!

Bad Heiress Day

Friday, March 28th, 2008

Have you ever inherited a surprise? That is what happened to the main character in this story. After her father died, she found out that he was WEALTHY and left her over one million dollars (dream come true, huh?). The inheritance comes with a catch though – her father wants her to give it all away. This book explores how that changes her relationships and how she decides to spend the money (providing spa treatments for weary and well-deserving women). It also explores how the recipients react to this “gift.” I love the premise. The book is a fairly quick and easy read – slow in places, but overall a great escape.

I buy tons of books at Sam’s Club because they are very reasonable in price (CHEAP). If it looks like a Christian book or just a plain good book into my cart it goes. This was one of those books. Amazon doesn’t even offer it anymore except used. The copyright date is 2005, so my guess is it didn’t do well. If you are interested in reading this type of book, however, Amazon is offering used copies at a VERY good price.