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“Below the Surface” by Tim Shoemaker
Chills, Excitement, Mystery & Fun
This is the story of four teenagers, one girl and three boys. They are all good friends who, along with their families, are taking a lake vacation together right before starting their first year of high school.
The action starts right at the beginning, and a mystery develops involving a missing girl who might have died–or she might not be missing at all. There is a mix-up over the girl’s identity. The teenagers in this story are immediately thrown into the middle of the confusion and possible danger. Much of the story has the lone female teenager, Hiro, convinced that foul play has taken place, while the rest of her friends waver between partially believing her, to complete disbelief.
This is a real page-turner that involves lots of suspense and mystery along with believable dialog and situations. Although this is the third book in a series, the story definitely stands on its own. There is a small amount of referral back to earlier books, but it is easy to understand the story-line, and is not confusing. I have not read the other two, but did not have trouble following Below the Surface. The author states this is the end of this series. I hope not, because I would like to revisit these characters after they have had some high school experiences.
I was pleased with the way the author handled the book’s characters that had fears which ran the gamut from swimming under water to doubts about fitting in. Also, at the end of the book, the author has some great advice about fear, and what should be done when one experiences it. I appreciated that this was a clean story written from a Christian point-of-view. Although this book is supposed to be geared toward young adults, the story and characters are so well-done that adults would like this tale as well. I certainly enjoyed it, and highly recommend this 5-star book to adults, young and old alike.
The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book through Zonderkids/Thomas Nelson Publishing for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are my own, and I have not been compensated in any other manner. Despite my receiving the book free, it has not influenced my judgment, and I have given an honest opinion.
More Information: http://www.zondervan.com/below-the-surface.html
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“Smoking Springs” by Robert C. Mowry
This is a fictional tale that takes place during the Civil War in The New Mexico Territory. There is lots of action and adventure as the story unfolds of Texan Judah Ward who joined the Confederate cause with his cousin, Sam Houston McCoy. At this time, the Confederate army is a rag-tag group that is almost starving, and is out-numbered.
This book follows Judah through military battles, shocking betrayal from a fellow soldier, Indian attacks, and dealing with sometimes deadly weather. Judah also suffers horrible wounds that are so serious, it is doubtful he will live–and if he does, Judah will lose part, if not all, of a limb. His Cousin Sam sticks by Judah through battles, and searches for medical care and help for him.
This is a clean story that has lots of twists and turns. The tale also includes mining for gold, a small amount of romance, and a dysfunctional parental relationship. There are many diverse characters, and they are well-developed. The situations and people are believable. I especially enjoyed the parts where individuals questioned God’s existence, and the conclusions that were drawn. Also, I really appreciated the underlying theme of the story which was everyone deserves fair treatment. A good example of this was Judah’s statement about how Bones should be compensated towards the end of the story–and the gift Judah gave to him. I recommend this 5-star book to anyone who enjoys tales of the Old West or the Civil War.
The author provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are my own, and I was not required, or influenced, to give anything but an honest review. I have not been compensated in any other manner.
Author’s Website: http://rcmowry.com/
The show features lost letters that were meant to be mailed but for some reason have not been delivered. There is a group of four people, postal employees, whose job is to locate the person the letter should have been mailed to and make the delivery. These employees, two men and two women each have unique personalities and some quirkiness that adds interest to the show.
The show centers around the results these found letters have on people’s lives. Detective work and mystery can be involved while searching for the true owners in these stories.
Martha Williamson, the creator of Touched by an Angel, is the creator and executive producer of this series. The show is planning on featuring scripture in its episodes and The American Bible Society is offering a Bible study that goes along with the series. There is a sign up here: http://www.americanbible.org/features/signed-sealed-delivered
I watched the segment that was aired on Sunday, May 25 2014. The show featured two individuals with Down Syndrome, and the effect a found letter had on their lives. The show was very sweet and engaging. It didn’t have any objectionable language or scenes. The end of the program had “The Wedding Song” (There Is Love) playing in the background, which has references to God. I enjoyed the show, and believe people of all ages would like it. It would be a great for a family to watch it together. I highly recommend this 5-star program, and hope everyone tunes in Sunday nights to watch it.
“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising): I received a complimentary link from FlyBy Promotions Blogger Network to watch this show ahead of time. All opinions expressed are my own, and I was not required, or influenced, to give anything but an honest review. I have not been compensated in any other manner.
The author covers a large range of topics. She included information about some of the differences, and similarities, between America and Australia. This included using mummy for mommy, however, dad is the term used in both countries. She noted that the seasons are opposite, January is warm there, not cold. Both countries use paper money, but American and Australian money are completely different. At the end of the book, there is a page that lists Australian words that were used in the work along with pronunciation.
The author presents interesting information about Australia in a creative way. I especially liked the Great Barrier Reef section. Australia is a very big country to try to cover in a small book, so realize not everything could be included. I do wish it had something specifically about the Aborigines, and had included kangaroos.
Since there is such large developmental difference in three-year-olds to eight-year-olds, it would be difficult to create a book that would interest children in that age range. This book does try to do that. There are lots of large, colorful pictures, and the topics included would be of interest to the targeted ages. The vocabulary, though printed in a large font, is at a level that, I think, would be hard to read by the oldest children in this age range. That would make this 5-star work a read-to-me book for everyone else.
I’d like to thank the author for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of review, as well as, some goodies that represent Australia–pencils, Australian flag, blow-up globe, key chain and mini ball. All opinions expressed are my own, and I was not required, or influenced, to give anything but an honest review. I have not been compensated in any other manner.
Author’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CarolePRomanAwardWinningAuthorAndBooks
Author’s Website: http://caroleproman.com/
Author’s Blog: http://caroleproman.blogspot.com/
The story-line in this book immediately pulls the reader in, and then keeps the interest going to the very last page. The main character, Juliette, is from a family of restaurant owners and cooks. Her French-Italian family is passionate about eating, cooking and each other. Every Sunday night, Juliette’s parents have a family dinner. This is a time for them to all connect with each other, but it can also be a time when this loud and boisterous group meddles in each other’s lives. Secrets aren’t easy to keep with this group, and everyone has opinions they aren’t afraid to passionately share.
Juliette works as a food writer and restaurant critic for the local paper. Her brother wants her to help launch a new restaurant, but Juliette doesn’t know if she can juggle two jobs. She also wonders about the conflict of interest that could develop as a food critic and owning a restaurant herself. A nice inclusion in the book are recipes for some of the dishes prepared in this story.
Recently, their beloved Grand-mère (Grandmother) has passed away, and her entire family is grieving, especially Juliette and her mother. While looking through Grand-mère’s cookbook, Juliette discovers an old picture of a man hidden beneath the book’s cover. This man is unknown to her, but he is the spitting image of her brother. Thus begins the quest for Juliette to find out who this mystery man is, and who he was to her Grand-mère.
After a long dry-spell in her love life, Juliette has started a relationship with Neil. Although she cares deeply for him, this romance has some problems. The main one is that Juliette lives in Portland, Oregon, while Neil lives in Memphis, Tennessee. She doesn’t know if she can survive this long-distance arraignment. In fact her brother is strongly encouraging her to give up on Neil, and go out with a local man he wants her to date.
It has been a long time since I liked a book as well as I like this one. The French-Italian heritage adds a richness to the story-line, the recipes sound wonderful, and the characters are believable and very endearing. There is even a romance and a bit of a mystery–so the story is very interesting. There are two things I disliked. The first was the light amount of faith in a book that is Christian fiction. However, I was happy the romance was kept clean and sweet.
The other thing I didn’t like was the ending. It seemed to stop suddenly. That is when I discovered that this is the first book in a series. I was glad to see that there is more to the story, but wished the ending wasn’t so jarring. Despite that, this work does stand on its own, it is a 5-star read and I enthusiastically recommend it.
The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book through WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are my own, and I have not been compensated in any other manner.
Author’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hillarylodge
Author’s Website: http://hillaryonwriting.blogspot.com/
Twitter the Author: https://twitter.com/hillarylodge
This is the true story of the Leininger Family, devout Christians, who had immigrated to America from Germany. The Leiningers purchased land from the Indians, built a cabin and began farming. The family often talked of the hardships faced in Germany before coming to this new land. They gave God the credit for getting them through the difficulties they faced. Their father told the children everyone has trials in their lives, but the thing that would help them, and could never be taken from them, was their faith in Jesus Christ. Every evening the family memorized a Bible verse, and they often sang hymns. One of their favorites was “Alone Yet Not Alone.” The entire family liked to sing, but they called Regina, the youngest, their “little song bird” since she loved to sing.
This book takes place in 1755 during the French and Indian War. At that time, the Native Americans had sided with the French, and because of that, believed all the agreements with the white settlers were over. The Indians began systematically burning cabins, killing the adults and taking the children as slaves. That is what happened one fateful day to the Leininger family. Their mother and son, John, had gone to the mill when the cabin was attacked. Their father and oldest son, Christian, were killed in their home, while sisters, Barbara and Regina, were captured and drug away by a band of warriors.
The book recounts the mistreatment the girls suffered at the hands of their captors. They were made to be slaves, and ultimately the sisters were separated. The many stolen children were divided up between the warriors who were from different trips. Barbara, the oldest, was taken by the son of an Indian chief back to his village. It was a trip of hundreds of miles that was all done on foot. Regina was taken away by a Native American from another tribe. Barbara fought to keep her sister with her, but to no avail. The last thing Barbara told Regina was to keep her faith in Jesus. She also told her to never forget that or Regina’s favorite song, “Alone, Yet Not Alone”–to keep them always in her heart.
The story tells of the trials and hardships faced by Barbara, as well as that of the other white people who had been taken captive. The Native Americans forced them to rub black walnut juice on their skin and hair so it would not be obvious they were white people. The lack of food caused the white captives to often go to bed hungry, despite working hard all day. Barbara prayed constantly for Regina and her to be reunited, and for a way for them to escape. As the years went by, Barbara kept her faith, but then she discovered that the Indian brave who captured her was planning to make her his wife in the spring. Barbara was in a panic because she knew if she became his wife, her chance for escape would probably be over.
This book is based on a true story, and is very exciting to read. It is an uplifting saga of Barbara keeping her faith, and holding on to her conviction that eventually she would make it back home. This work is the heritage of author who is a descendant of the Leininger family.
A movie with the same title as the book will be released in June 2014. I received a CD of the film’s soundtrack as well. The theme song of the movie, “Alone Yet Not Alone,” is brilliantly sung by Joni Erickson Tada. Although the book is geared to eight-year-olds and up, anyone who likes action, adventure or true stories should like this 5-star tale and movie.
“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising): This book was published by Zonderkidz. Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. All opinions expressed are my own, and I have not been compensated in any other manner. Despite my receiving the book and CD free, it has not influenced my judgment, and I have given an honest opinion.
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. Limit to USA & Canadian addresses only.
Author’s Information: http://www.aloneyetnotalone.com/theauthor
Movie’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aloneyetnotalone
This is a collection of four different Amish stories that have the common theme of gardening. As the reader is led down the garden path in this book, one will discover that each tale is unique. The stories are: “Rooted in Love” by Beth Wiseman, “Flowers for Rachael” by Kathleen Fuller, “Seeds of Love” by Tricia Goyer and “Where Healing Blooms” by Vannetta Chapman.
The story of Rosemary and Saul is of love at cross-purposes. The two had courted as teenagers, and seemed to be in love. Then one day, out-of-the blue, Rosemary said the relationship was over. Saul had given his heart to her, and no one else has ever been right for him. Saul stills pursues her to no avail. The big question is, why did Rosemary call it off? Years pass, and she still won’t tell him. Even if Rosemary never goes out with him again, Saul needs the answer for his own peace of mind. Will he ever get it?
Hard working Rachael has left her home to nurse her grandfather back to health. She also spends a good deal of her time gardening to supply them with food to eat, as well as, items to sell to supplement their meager income. She doesn’t spend any time on social activities. Despite that, Rachael has suddenly started receiving things from a mysterious person. Gideon admires Rachael from afar. The one and only time he attempted to ask a girl out, she laughed at him. That was years ago, and he has never tried again. Can shy Gideon get the courage to tell Rachael how he feels about her? What will her answer be if he does?
Heirloom tomato seeds are all that Sadie has left as a heritage after the death of her beloved mother and father. The seeds have been carefully saved after each harvest by her mother, and the generations before her. Now it was up to Sadie to plant them, and keep the tradition going. After moving across country, she attempts to grow them in soil and a climate she is not used to. Despite her unfamiliarity with the area, she throws caution to the wind and plants every single seed–saving none of them. Eli offers his extensive garden knowledge to help her. He is hoping working together will lessen Sadie’s grief, and bring the two of them closer. But will she reject him when Sadie finds out the truth about Eli’s heritage? Was Sadie mistaken to plant all of the seeds without holding some back as a “safety net?”
Emma is a 50-year-old widow, who is taking care of her elderly, widowed mother-in-law, Mary Ann. Emma feels empty with her children grown and her husband gone. She is also overwhelmed by the enormous work involved in caring for the huge garden Mary Ann insists they keep. Then Emma discovers a runaway teenage boy has been sleeping in her barn, Mary Ann gets hurt in the garden and a new love might be sprouting in Emma’s life. Will the garden be a place for both plants and people to be nurtured? Will Emma’s love and loneliness for her deceased husband hold her back from growing in new ways?
I thought all of these tales were very entertaining, and each one included faith in God. It was enjoyable to have a different “voice” in each work. This book has four stand-alone Amish stories and they all have a garden theme, but that is where the similarities stop. The authors have all gone their own direction with each one.
The first story has a bit of a mystery concerning why Rosemary ended the relationship despite still loving Saul and vice versa. The tale of Rachel and Gideon involves is a tender and sweet love story. Eli’s other job as a traveling writer added an unexpected twist and a lot of interest to “Seeds of Love,” along with some humor.
I liked that the last story featured senior citizens as the main characters. That is a different age group than fiction normally centers on, and it added a refreshing addition to that tale. It also dealt with issues one rarely hears about occurring in Amish communities. Although this is fiction, it shows that the Amish, like everyone else, must deal with living in a fallen world–and the unhappy situations that can sometimes result. However, the solution this story gives has a distinctive Amish flavor.
This collection of stories involving gardens can be enjoyed anytime of the year, however, it is especially apropos to read it now, in the spring-time, when gardens are beginning to grow. I recommend this 5-star book to anyone who enjoys Amish fiction.
The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book through Thomas Nelson Publishing for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are my own, and I have not been compensated in any other manner. Despite my receiving the book free, it has not influenced my judgment, and I have given an honest opinion.
Author Information about Beth Wiseman
Author Information about Kathleen Fuller
Author Information about Tricia Goyer
Author Information about Vannetta Chapman
Most of the well-known Bible stories are included in this book. The author has shortened and summarized these tales so that they are interesting and understandable for the intended audience, small children. Stories from both the Old and New Testament are included. Little children will hear about Adam & Eve, Noah & the Ark, David & Goliath, as well as, Jesus & His disciples, Zacchaeus and Paul.
Two computer discs are included with this volume. They contain songs and printable coloring pages that correspond to the stories. The discs are stored in heavy-duty clear pouches in the front and back of the book. A word of caution, the pouches have a REALLY sticky seal, so make sure it does not come into contact with any of the pages.
This sturdy, thick book is very well-made, and has a padded cover that is brightly colored. The eye-catching colors are used throughout the book, making it very appealing to young viewers. Each story has a picture, a printable coloring page, a reference to the song that goes with it, along with a Fun Fact. The Fun Facts really are fun! For instance, the Sea of Galilee is about 140 feet deep, which is comparable to 23 men stacked on top of each other. Or, the fish Jesus and the disciples ate was more than likely tilapia–which is also known as St. Peter’s fish!
I think this is a wonderful work. When you open this book, you swing wide a door to good times and adventure–as big or as small as you want to make it–with the Bible. The stories are all short, so it can provide a jumping off point for adding more details, or can be kept as is, depending on the child’s interest. Having the discs really adds another dimension to the experience, because the catchy songs reinforce the stories, and it is another fun activity to share with a youngster. Dancing, singing or both, can take place with these tunes. The coloring pages print out full-sized, and are well-done pictures begging to be colored. Anyone with a small amount of computer knowledge should be able to use these discs. Reading this book, singing the songs, or coloring the pages–or all of the above–will make great memories, furnish an enjoyable time and introduce Bible stories to little ones. I look forward to sharing this five-star book with the child in my life.
The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book through Tyndale Blog Network (Tyndale Kids/Tyndale House Publishers) for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are my own, and I have not been compensated in any other manner. Despite my receiving the book free, it has not influenced my judgment, and I have given an honest opinion.
Author information: http://www.tyndaleblognetwork.com/1_title/author-bio.php?authorID=1504