Monday, August 29, 2016

Time For Bed, Sleepyhead (The Falling Asleep Book) by Daniel G. Amen, M.D. illustrations by Gail Yerrill

The author has shared this book to be an aid to helping children fall asleep. It is designed for ages 4-8. The premise of the story is a mother bear helping her son get ready for bed. So she begins telling him a story of how important it is for children to get their sleep because it helps to clean their brains. Sleep helps to get rid of all the trash that builds up in the brain during the day. Baby bear asks what happens if he doesn't get enough sleep. So, mother continues to tell him, "If you don't get enough sleep, your brain doesn't have enough time to clean up. Trash gets left behind. It can build up and get in the way, making it harder for you to learn-or even feel happy." Little bear replies, "I want a nice, clean brain, Momma!" 

They get comfy cozy and she begins telling him a good-night story filled with many characters, Eli, the anteater, Chloe, the kitty, Liam, the baby llama, Aslan, the puppy, Louie, the lion, Emmy, the emu, and Shakespeare, the seal. They travel together for an adventure. 

Let me say that the illustrations by Gail Yerrill are just beautiful. I feel she marvelously captured these little critters and brought them to life for children to experience a delightful treasured adventure. Although most of the colors are soft hues, there's the perfect amount of bright and cheerful coloring for capturing the imagination of little ones. 

Throughout the story imagery is the highlight for the little ones, each character telling a story of their own, and enough activity to keep the mind busy for quite a long time. That's where my thoughts are differing from the author. I have always read books to my children and grands before bed. If your little ones love books and have a vivid imagination be prepared to have reading time last for a while. 

You could literally take off on a journey using your own words and have your children add to the story also making for a great afternoon escape. There's lots here for the imagination. They travel in a bus to the beach. They play until exhausted, the load up and head for home. Once home they enjoy a nice bath and then dinner. After eating they all begin to cuddle up and fall asleep.

As the book closes, the mother shares with baby bear, "You feel so happy, but also very, very tired. Eli, Emmy, Liam, Chloe, Aslan, and Shakespeare are all drifting off to sleep. Louie is gently snoring. Even though you want to stay up, your eyes seem to close all by themselves. They won't open again until the morning, when your brain is clean and you are ready to have another amazing day."

Now the little critters are pictured once again, all of them off in their own dreamland, giving once again lots for little ones to imagine. 

I understand teaching little ones reasons as to why our sleep is so valuable. I too understand sharing a beautiful story to set our children off to dreamland for a sweet night of rest. For my grands this just isn't a book to get them off to a quick sleep. It's one that I feel you could spend much time in exploring your words to share with these gorgeous illustrations. 

So, would I purchase this book for my grands? As for a falling asleep book, probably not. Would I purchase this book as a Christian book? That's whats missing. Prayer and thanksgiving were missing. I'm not sure why this book is listed as Christian because it didn't contain anything about teaching faith and prayer to little ones, filling their hearts and minds with thanksgiving before bed. There wasn't anything about God at all. It seems that would be a wonderful beginning to goodnight time with little ones. So, I'm disappointed to see that missing. But for a beautiful book to give them room for their imaginations to soar? You bet. It's a sweet book that has potential for the parent and child to spend time together using imagination and that alone is a sweet gift. 

This book was a gift from Zondervan for sharing my review with you. 

Daniel Amen, M.D. The Washington Post called Daniel Amen, M.D. the most popular psychiatrist in America. He is a physician, child and adolescent psychiatrist, and ten-time New York Times bestselling author. Dr. Amen is widely regarded as a gifted teacher and storyteller. His public television programs about the brain have aired 80,000 times across North America. Dr. Amen is the founder of Amen Clinics in Costa Mesa and San Francisco, CA; Bellevue, WA; Reston, VA; Atlanta, GA; and New York City. He lives in Newport Beach, California, and has four children and four grandchildren.

Gail Yerrill lives in Befordshire, England. She has illustrated and designed products for Marks & Spencer, Harrods, and the BBC among others. Gail has illustrated many children's books, and is known for her soft, whimsical style which is well-loved by children and adults alike. 

The Witnesses by Robert Whitlow

If it's possible to have an author crush Robert Whitlow would be mine. I admire this author so very much. He has taken me on such marvelous journeys. I fell in love with his writing style with The Tides of Truth Series and fell head over heels after reading The Alexia Lindale Series. Both totally different, but each held such beauty. Jimmy is another favorite, along with Mountain Top.

Whitlow has a high standard of writing. He takes the reader on a journey with depth and detail. He brings out the inner strengths and struggles of each character. Absolutely everything holds value with his writing. 

With his latest legal writings he brings triumph over tragedy. With the truths about the law alone they would be fascinating. Add in the history with The Witnesses and you have a masterpiece. This story is absolutely amazing in every possible way. I am never left wishing I'd chosen another book with Whitlow doing the writing. He captured by attention from the first pages. This is just one I didn't want to put down. I was excited every time I had a bit of quiet. In the kitchen while cooking I had this book in my hand. Cleaning? Who needs to be so busy with a Robert Whitlow book in the waiting!

Seriously though. This novel unfolds with perfect timing. I so loved Parker House, but even more so I loved his grandfather. The intrigue behind the WWII stories being shared was fascinating. This is a well developed novel with a story that easily flows from past to present. 

I would suggest Robert Whitlow over and over again. This one is a masterpiece and one you shouldn't miss! I was so moved by these characters. So much about them stands out. Unforgettable indeed!

This novel was a gift from Thomas Nelson for sharing my review with you.

Robert Whitlow is the bestselling author of legal novels set in the South and winner of the Christy Award for Contemporary Fiction. He received his J.D. with honors from the University of Georgia School of Law where he served on the staff of the Georgia Law Review. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Saffire by Sigmund Brouwer

The exquisite cover caught my attention. Next was the fact that Sigmund Brouwer was the author. I had read, Thief of Glory, when it was released and just couldn't put it down. I was captivated by this story. So, I was intrigued to see what this new novel held for me. 

We are taken on a journey to the Panama Canal in 1909 in a time when Teddy Roosevelt is president and all is uncertain. Even the life of the main character, James Holt, is uncertain. He knows where he has come from. A fantastic life as a Buffalo Bill cowboy! Now, he has been called by the president to come and do some research for him. Only he isn't so sure what that entails. 

His life grows more exciting by the day. I don't think this character ever has a dull moment. There is so much detail in this story. The history alone is phenomenal. There is a huge history lesson throughout this novel, but in the last pages in the Author's Note there is much insight for the reader to gain about the characters and time. I would suggest reading the Author's Note first. 

I have to be honest and share that I didn't have a lot of information about the life and times of the Panama Canal. I now have been given a great gift that has invited me to dig deeper into this time in history that isn't shared too often. For that I am grateful.

This selection took me a while to finish. It was just loaded with such detail and history it was a lot for me to absorb when I simply just wanted to escape for a few hours. I think a second reading would cause me to fall in love with this novel. This is a beautiful story that is penned deep. If you're ready to read a novel unlike the norm where you know where the next page is taking you, this is a gem for you. 

Intrigue, sabotage, romance, just about everything you want in a novel. But what was lacking was the faith. That is my only draw back from sharing this with my readers who want to see faith come to life off the pages they are reading. That aspect is disappointing for me. More and more I am seeing Christian publishers release novels that aren't faith filled. For the history lover this will be a selection you won't be able to put down. 

This novel was a gift from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing for sharing my review with you.

The best-selling author of the multi-award winning World War II novel Thief of Glory, Sigmund Brouwer has written nineteen novels and has more than three million books in print. Through his Rock and Roll Literacy Show, he leads writing workshops to eighty-thousand students a year in schools from the Artic Circle to inner-city Los Angeles. Sigmund is married to recording artist Cindy Morgan and has two daughters.

A beauty Refined by Tracie Peterson

As a sapphire must be mined to bring it to refined beauty so too do we as believers. It's removed from a place where it's beauty has been hidden away and brought into the light where it's transparent glory catches the eye of all who are blessed to capture it's beauty. 

This is a novel that could be a stand alone, but as a series with each novel read in order you get are blessed to capture more of the story as they all weave together to bring about a complete story.

Tracie Peterson does history better than most. She's in a league all of her own. I love how she dives in to learn the history that flows around the story spinning in her head. Because of her gift we are able to capture the details of the places and times, but experience them as the story leaps off the black and white pages. 

This novel flows easily. This is one of those novels that will leave you pondering. At least it did that for me. I pondered the abuse of women and children during this time in history. I felt that Peterson brought this to light in a powerful way. It was so hushed during this time. No one dare speak of it. Not even those being abused. For them it was about remaining quiet and allowing their bruises to heal. But we see these women move far beyond the chains of abuse that held them captive. We see life not only return, but renew before them. 

This is more than a romance novel. This novel carries many valuable lessons about trust, hope, and faith. There are many aspects of this novel that are certainly deep and are troubling, but I thought Tracie brought them to light in a powerful way. For me, too many romance novels are filled with fluff and perfectness. That just isn't life. I would prefer to read novels that run deep and take me to a place that leaves me pondering for days to come. 

This novel was a gift from Bethany House for sharing my review with you. 

Tracie Peterson's love for history and research fuels the bestselling stores she writes. She is the author of over one hundred novels and the recipient of the 2011 ACFW Lifetime Achievement Award. Tracie and her family live in Montana.

Without Warning by Lynette Eason

Lynette Eason just may be the queen of series writing. Each one different, but all will give the reader a few hours of a thrill ride and leave you in anticipation for the next.

Who wouldn't love these body guards? Each joined for different reasons. Each with their own background and all have an amazing story to share as we witness them coming together to protect those who need their aid. 

In the first book of this series, Always Watching, we see these women, all capable, step into action to protect a man who is being stalked. Without Warning pics up with another in this group and we get to see her story unveil as Eason weaves these characters so brilliantly together. 

In the Elite Guardians  Protection Agency we see something remarkable. These women give of themselves using their God given gifts. They unselfishly step forward when others run the opposite direction. They are strong and courageous, but yet throughout the novel, Eason brilliantly allows us to see their weaknesses and inner struggles. As they defend others with such strength they battle their own fears and demons that invade them. 

What I love is that Eason brings us women who are fearless, but also women who know their limits. Their beauty shines through these pages and gives us examples of women who are real. Women who make the choice to fight evil every day, but not on their own. They seek to walk in faith. Sometimes we see that faith tested, questioned and at times void, but one thing is for sure, it comes alive over and over again as they learn more about themselves as they dig deep to help others.

Daniel is a character who highlights these pages. He is a strong character himself, but it is evident he too needs the aid of another when danger comes looking. Something else I love about Eason! She writes thrilling novels that are twisted with suspense, but as I see it she brings strength to the battle front to fight in the daily lives of people where evil is always watching and ready to pounce.

We meet quite a few characters within this novel. They are all well developed and all leave us with something to gain from knowing their story. We too witness love grow, trust increase, and faith bring peace to the soul. 

A great second installment to this series. I cannot wait to open the pages of Moving Target! It'll be worth the wait. It always it with Lynette Eason!

This novel was a gift from Revell for sharing my review with you.

Lynette Eason is the bestselling author of the Women of Justice series, the Deadly Reunion series, and the Hidden Identity series, as well as Always Watching in the Elite Guardians series. She is the winner of an ACFW Carol Award, the Selah Award, and the Inspirational Readers' Choice Award. She lives in South Carolina. Learn more at 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Things We Knew by Catherine West

It was the cover that caught my attention and also the love of being introduced to new authors. This is a great summer read. I poured a hot coffee as I took a sweet seat to read for the next few hours of retreat, but before I knew it the pages were still turning and my coffee had turned cold. 

It took me a while to read this selection. Busyness pretty much takes over at times, leaving little time for reading. I couldn't wait for a few moments here and there to escape into this gem of a read that took me to Nantucket to meet characters that I would love to call friends.

Catherine West won me over. Her writing is superb. The story-line flows easily. The characters are transparent. These are characters the reader can easily relate to. Faith is alive within these pages as Catherine easily brings the black and white alive before us.

Can you imagine losing your mother at a young age, having life topple upside down, and now as a young woman you now are taking care of your aging father who is slowly losing his memory? That alone would be enough weight to carry, right? But there is so much more unsettling for Lynette. 

Lynette loves to paint. An artist who expresses herself through color cannot escape the changing portraits that are bringing her to ponder a deepness of herself she can't express. She cannot remember things of the past, things that shouldn't have escaped her memory, which leaves her to question so much about the present. 

Ah, and then there's Nicholas who has surprisingly returned to town to help his father with the family business. This too gives us a glimpse into life that can be so troubling as a father and son do not see eye to eye and can't seem to understand one another. Nicholas plays a tremendous part in this story as it weaves together a story of love and friendship, trial and forgiveness, grace and growth. 

Things often happen in life that make us question our faith. This is true for these characters. So much unfolds within these pages to keep the reader heating up their coffee! Yes, this is definitely a great summer read!

This novel was a gift from Thomas Nelson for sharing my review with you.

Catherine West writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. When she's not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks on the beach or tending to her roses and orchids. She and her husband have two grown children.

How Big Is Love? by Amy Parker and illustrations by Breezy Brookshire

I love hedgehogs! How about you? This gem of a padded book uses a mama and son hedgehog to illustrate to us 1 Corinthians 13:13. 

When this twenty-four page book arrived my granddaughter was excited for me to read it to her. She happened to be painting. When I started reading she sat down her brush and followed the story of just how big love is. 

She enjoyed the illustrations and the story is a sweet one. The little boy asks his mama throughout the story just how big love is. This makes for a sweet bedtime story and introduces children to God's gigantic love for us. 

This children's book was a gift from B&H Publishing for sharing my review with you. 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Charge Up With Cheerfulness

Today is my grandson's birthday. The big 2 for Liam. Oh, if we could live with the cheerfulness of a child. 

Liam has always been the child of laughter and smiles. He's the child that reminds the soul there's always something in which to smile. His smile can overcome in me any kind of rainy day storm that's brewing around me. 

See, Liam is that cheer my heart so often needs. No matter what the day has held for me all it takes for my heart to soar is to see his beautiful smile. Often my daughter will send a video of him giggling at something that tickles his soul. All it takes to bring a smile is opening that video and there I am partaking in a cheerfulness that charges my heart toward cheerfulness of such joy tears flow!

Even with difficult circumstance that takes place in our lives and the turmoil in the world around us we can remain cheerful because of our Lord. He has overcome this world and all the dread it contains. Right? In this hope we can live with cheerfulness. 

Get this! He has deprived this world of its power over us. Yes! There's no circumstance in this world that can take away my salvation. None that can separate me from my Savior. In that alone is enough to live cheerfulness!

Something happens to us along this journey. We allow this world to steal away our cheerfulness, that cheerfulness my grandson carries in his smile. We stop enjoying life as we get wrapped up in all that's wrong, losing track of all that is right and good. It's all enough to change our attitude from cheer to disappointment, right? 

Take for instance a car's battery. To make it connect and start it has to have a negative and a positive charge. You cannot have two negatives and expect something extraordinary to happen. But you put together a negative and a positive and Shazam!! 

Ever have a battery that's low or dead? I've gotten in my car, turned the key to ignite and there in the middle of my plans is a flat line that drives me to lay my head on the steering wheel in disappointment. It certainly puts a damper on the attitude. Makes you question why you even stepped foot on the cool of the morning floor. 

We too can become like a sluggish battery or one that is dead. We become filled with such sadness, anger, and all that can cause our attitude of cheerfulness to change into a heart flat-lined. To put it bluntly. We get fed up. We grow tired of trying. We begin to see the ugly before we ever see the beauty. Been there with me? 

What next? What happens when we give our car a start up and nothing happens? We ask for help. We flag down someone with battery cables to help us get a new start. We lift up the hood, connect the positive and negative and soon that battery that once had no charge is now turning over. We keep the charge running and before we know it the battery is fully charged and we are once again ready to roll.

Pretty amazing how a charged battery can put a smile on our face and give us a start filled with cheer! 

"A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones." Proverbs 17:22

"The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep." John 10:10-11

"These things I have spoken to you that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." John 16:33

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Always At Work In My Circumstances

Although my circumstances at times may be trial after trial, they do not define me. What they do, if I am seeking Christ, is to mold me into a new girl, the girl Christ is creating me to be.come.

When I call upon Jesus He never ceases to hear me. He responds in His perfected time, by setting in motion room for His will to unfold and room also for me to witness my God in action.

Over and over again He has shown Himself to me. His answers are not always immediate, but His presence is. Sometimes I am called to wait and remain still as He works in me.

See, the longer time I spend with my Savior the more of Himself He reveals to me. I don't have to do anything special, but to simply call upon the One who loves me mighty.

His love is wide, is deep, is high, and is long. His mercy is new every day. His grace always available. His love always present. In our earthly journey so much of our God cannot be explained. Why would He love us so? But for now, what we can do is experience all of Him. Through faith and love He will reveal Himself to us.

Such a beautiful gift of love, isn't it? We are known to to Him. He knows us by name. That should stir our hearts into motion to seeking to spend more time with Him as He continues to give us opportunities to explore Him through His Word and through quiet time spent alone with Him.

He invites us to spend time with Him. That's so amazing to me. He seeks to have a relationship with me. How can we not be in amazement at His love? We have access to the Father, through our Intercessor, Jesus Christ. Yes, it is in our every day life, through our circumstances, that we can witness our God moving on our behalf. All we must do is seek Him with pure and willing hearts.

It's easy to get lost in our circumstances, isn't it? They can overload us. We can feel limited. But friends, our God is not limited. He is always fighting for us. Always providing possibilities and creating opportunities for His glory to shine through even the ugliest of messes!

For all the weight that is so staggering today, friends, don't give up! Don't for one minute think our God isn't working. He is moving in us and around us. Hold tight to His Word, to His promises, and to all you know to be true. His love is mightier than any circumstance that tries to steal away our hope. Let us not stack tomorrow's worries upon us today. Let us be in this very moment of right now. It is here that He will reveal Himself strong to us to carry us mightily through our tomorrows.

"For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.But in this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us." 2 Corinthians 4:6-7

"He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them." Psalm 145:19

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:16-18


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