Sunday, May 29, 2011

Crammed with Useful Information

With the economic situation in the country today, most of us need to read this book. The Amish have traditionally led simple, frugal lives. It was inspiration for Lorilee Craker to interview them and compile their ideas a book. The suggestions are simple, except for planting your own garden. Gardening is time consuming and a labor of love. However, most of us can implement the other ideas and best of all – save money!!

I particularly enjoyed the chapter dealing with children. The Amish are notorious for having large families, and generally, the children stay in the community and turn out well. This is not the case with large numbers of children born to X-geners. Children need good examples, but more than that they need to learn thrift from being giving specific tasks. I love the idea of making children wait for the thing they want and having them contribute to the cost. It's great training for being adult and not allowing your credit cards to rule your life.

I thought this book was excellent. The self-deprecating humor was a bit of a turn-off, but who wants to read a text book about personal finance, particularly now. We all need to laugh a little.

I reviewed this book as part of the Thomas Nelson Booksneeze Program.  

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Lovely Retelling of the Story of Esther

The book is a retelling of the biblical account of Esther, a young Jewish girl who won the heart of the King of Persia. Esther is a beautiful young Jewish girl living a comfortable life with her uncle Mordecai. Her uncle is concerned that the new king's advisors will try to destroy the Jewish people, so when the King Ahasuerus searches the kingdom for a new queen, he encourages Esther to try to win the king's heart.

I found the story very enjoyable and easy to read. The author gives us good background on what it was like to live in Esther's time. She makes her characters come alive in the setting.

The author takes some liberties with the biblical account; for example, the king in the retelling is Ahasuerus rather than Xerxes. However, Ahasuerus is such a romantic figure the change is quite delightful. I recommend this book to all lovers of the Bible story. The time and place and the motivations of the characters come to life. I enjoyed the book.

I reviewed this book as part of the Thomas Nelson Booksneeze Program.  

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Christian Da Vinci Code: The Seraph Seal by Leonard Sweet and Lori Wagner

Paul Binder is one of eight children born at the same time who will influence the fate of the world. When he's thirty-six strange thing start to happen to Paul Binder. He receives mysterious letters. He's invited to view a valuable manuscript. He meets a desirable woman. The puzzle deepens eh she receives her own mysterious package.

This is a fast paced thriller in the Dan Brown model. The book is based on scholarship, but the characters are totally fictional. I found the action fast paced and interesting. It was very reminiscent of the DaVinic Code with the short chapters and interesting esoteric knowledge. I feel that unless the author was trying to emulate the DaVinci Code, he sould had done better with character development.

I have the same complaints about this novel that I do about the DaVinci Code. I find the characters shallow. There's no growth. The chase is interesting, but it is a chase. We find the interesting clues at the end of the novel. There is an appendix worth reading for both Christian and non-Christians who enjoyed the book.

I reviewed this book as part of the Thomas Nelson Booksneeze Program.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Great Kid's Sherlock Holmes Tale

Griffin Sharpe, a brilliant twelve-year-old, is sent to England for the summer holidays. Gilbert is feeling low. He's so smart that he doesn't have real friends. Things seem to be taking the same course in England when he meets his uncle, who isn't interested in hearing his ideas about the recent disappearance of a clock repairman, or anything else for that matter. But he is at 221 Baker Street and the great Holmes lives there. At first he's convinced his uncle must be Holmes, but is quickly disabused of that idea. His uncle is far less successful than Holmes, but he does build wonderful machines to help with detection.

No Place Like Holmes is written for young adult readers, but it can be enjoyed by Holmes fans of all ages. The story is fast paced. Short chapters help. The mystery is intriguing, and Griffin is a character who will appeal to bright adolescents.

In addition to the main story, the book contains mini-mysteries that kids will love and a great recipe for scones. You'll be hard pressed to resist after reading about how much Griffin loves them. I highly recommend this book for middle grade readers and anyone who is a Holmes fan.

I reviewed this book as part of the Thomas Nelson Booksneeze Program.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Delightful Romp Through the Ley-Lines

Kit Livingstone is bored with his mundane life. This changes quickly when he stumbles into an alley and accidentally ends up meeting his great-grandfather, Cosimo, who has learned the secret of using the ley-lines to travel through space and time. Kit is recruited by Cosimo to join in his hunt for the skin map and thus begins a fast-paced series of adventures. Kit's girl-friend, Wilhelmina, also accidentally becomes a time traveler and ends up in 17th Century Austria where she proceeds to change history.

Although a fantasy, the book is well researched. The characters are interesting and the plot fast paced. The places visited by the time travelers are realistic. The story moves back and forth between several characters. This jumping about could have been confusing, but Lawhead does a good job of making each jump immediately recognizable. I found that moving between the characters made the book move much faster. I kept wanting to know what was going to happen when I had to leave a character and move to the next chapter.

I recommend this book for readers who enjoy fantasy, historical fiction, or science fiction. It's a great summer read. Something to take to the beach. I'm looking forward to the next books in this series.

I reviewed this book as part of the Thomas Nelson Booksneeze Program. 

Family Drama at a Summer Cottage in Maine

Four women from a Boston Irish Catholic family converge on their summer cottage in Maine. Each has her own secrets, resentments and desires. Alice, the matriarch, is nearing the end of her life. A life that was stigmatized by the death of her sister and her unfulfilled desire to be an artist. Maggie, the granddaughter, is thirty-two, pregnant and unmarried. She agonizes about telling her boyfriend, mother and grandmother. Kathleen, Maggie's mother, is happily settled in California, but continues to be torn by unresolved issues with her mother and daughter. Ann Marie, the daughter-in-law, wants to be perfect, but her life is coming apart in little ways. The summer cottage becomes the setting for the women to confront themselves and each other.

I enjoyed the book, possible because the characters rang true. It's a book in which not very much happens except the women's internal dialog and their interactions with each other. It is very much a character study and a study of manners. I agree with other reviewers. The product description doesn't really fit the book. As a result, the reader is likely to be disappointed.

On the positive side, the book is well written, true to life, and the setting delightful. I recommend the book to lovers of literary fiction.

I reviewed this book as part of the Amazon Vine Program.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Crammed with Information for Website Builders

If you want to try building your own website, this is the book to buy. Bell covers the basics of what a website is, what you need to consider in building a website, and which tools are needed. Although the book contains lots of basic information, there are more advanced chapters on html, building business sites, and using multi-media.

I can't say enough good things about this book. I've used many of his tools to build my website and they are as useful as he says. The open source software he recommends is excellent. There are many useful websites to checkout and lists of places to get information. I wish I'd had this book when I built my website.

“Build a Website for Free” is a valuable resource for anyone interested in building and maintaining websites. I highly recommend it.

I reviewed this book as part of the Amazon Vine Program. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Elusive Jane Austen

Although Jane Austen is one of the world's best loved authors, little is known about her character. Most of the 3,000 letters she wrote to her family were destroyed after her death. We are left to wonder whether the real Jane was a sweet aunt, or a sharp tongued spinster. In spite of this handicap, Catherine Reef does a commendable job of showing us Jane's family and the era she lived in.

The Georgian Era was characterized by a rigid class structure and strict code of manners. Although she lived most of her life in country villages, Jane was an astute observer of human nature. She used this gift to give her novels unforgettable characters that people respond to today. I like the way Reef used this historical picture of Jane Austen to lead into a discussion of her novels and how they related to her life. In discussing the novels, Reed hints at the interesting question of why Jane remained a spinster. It's tempting to believe that she had as much experience of romantic attachments as her heroines which allowed her to understand them so well.

Although this short version of Jane's life is targeted at teen-readers, it can be enjoyed by adults as well. I found it fascinating and highly recommend it for all lovers of Jane Austen's novels.

I reviewed this book as part of the Amazon Vine Program.