Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Christmas Cats Encounter Bats, by Constance Corcoran Wilson



Title: The Christmas Cats Encounter Bats

Author: Constance Corcoran Wilson

Publisher: Quad Cities Press

Date: September 13, 2014

Paperback: 24 pages








About the Book
The third book in the Christmas Cats adventure teaches us to honor life in all its forms. Love and accept all God's creatures. Some animals--(puppies and kitties come to mind)--are popular with nearly everyone. Others (spiders, lizards, bats, etc.) may not seem as worthy,  but all are small cogs in the universe. Bats serve a very useful purpose in God's grand scheme. All life should be valued. The bats of story three are just as deserving of respect and have as much right to life as any other creature on the planet.

My Take
This book happens to be just as cute as the other one I reviewed, The Christmas Cats Chase Christmas Rats. Just like the other book, this one has a lesson that one can learn. We all have issues with certain animals and some of us take drastic measures to make sure those types of animals are not to be seen in our dwellings. For instance, like the bats in this story. The cats must go on a journey to help figure out what is making a certain sound. They find out it is a bat. Of course they don't hurt the bat and explain that it can be helpful to have them around and so we should enjoy them.

I like the fact that the author doesn't drag the story out to make a point. I know the younger a child is, they don't tend to want to sit as long and hear a story. Another good thing is that it rhymes. This is also helpful for the younger ones. It can come across more or less like a song and so they tend to enjoy it more. The bright colours in the book will also attract a lot of readers. They make the pages stand out. Lastly, but not least, there is a colouring page at the end that has the reader or child interact with the story by colouring a page and adding to the "story". Once you are done, you can email them in and see it posted on the website.

Like I stated before. This book is cute and the lesson is just as good.

About the Author
Connie graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in English and Journalism, but she began writing for her hometown (Independence, Iowa) newspaper at the age of 10 and was Editor-in-Chief of her high school newspaper. She continued her education, including a Ferner/Hearst Journalism Scholarship and a Freshman Merit Scholarship at Iowa, and then at Berkeley, WIU, NIU and the University of Chicago. Connie holds a Masters (+30) in English, Journalism and Education. Her career path led to teaching 7th and 8th grade language arts (Silvis, Illinois) and teaching writing at 6 IA/IL colleges or universities, including a class teaching film at Black Hawk Junior College. She then established the second Sylvan Learning Center in the state of Iowa and a Prometric Testing site, in conjunction with ETS of Princeton, NJ. She has taught writing and literature classes at all 6 IA/IL Quad City colleges.

Connie lives in East Moline, Illinois with husband Craig and in Chicago, Illinois, where her son, Scott and daughter-in-law Jessica and their newborn twins Elise and Ava reside. Her daughter, Stacey, a graduate of Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, has been living and working in Australia since February of 2012.

This complimentary book was given to me by the author for my honest review.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Bend Your Brain, by Marbles The Brain Store




Title: Bend Your Brain: 151 Puzzles, Tips, and Tricks to Blow (and Grow) Your Mind

Author: Marbles: The Brain Store

Publisher: Three Rivers Press

Date: August 19, 2014

Paperback: 192 pages






About the Book
Want to get your frontal cortex breaking a sweat? Make your blood pump to your cerebellum? Stretch your occipital lobe to its limits?

Then you need to bend your brain! This first book from the team behind Marbles: The Brain Store, a chain devoted to building better brains, offers puzzles and brain teasers to help enhance memory, build problem-solving skills, and reduce stress.
        Since Marbles started helping people play their way to a healthier brain, they've sold, solved, and been stumped by more than their fair share of puzzles. Along the way, they've learned which puzzles tie people in knots (not in a good way) and which ones make the neurons downright giddy. With the help of their in-house team of BrainCoaches and access to cutting-edge neuroscience, they've designed these puzzles to keep your mind flexible and fit.
        Arranged in five key brain categories—visual perception, word skills, critical thinking, coordination, and memory—Bend Your Brain offers a variety of puzzles ranging from mind-warming (easy) to mind-blowing (hard!):

·  Connecting the dots? More like working your spatial-orientation skills.
·  Identifying famous smiles? Flexing your visual memory.
·  Taking a closer look at your keyboard? Coding, storing, and retrieving.
·  Word-doku? Summoning cognitive abilities like appraisal, inference, impulse control, and evaluation.
·  Word scrambles? Tapping your brain’s association areas.

Your brain is your most important muscle, so let the brain-building begin!

My Take
I am one who loves to be challenged cerebrally and I have to say this is an amazing book that does it. If you love puzzles or physical activities, then you are going to love this book.

The book starts out by telling/showing you the different parts of your brain and how if you don't use it, you can lose it. It also shows you the best way to use the puzzles for a maximum result. Before each puzzle group, you are shown what it does and how it works. The different puzzles in the book are:

Visual Perception (my favourite)
Word Skill
Critical Thinking
Coordination (loved this one as well)
Memory (hands down the funniest)

At the bottom of some of the pages you will find little brain facts that go along with what you are learning.

I really enjoyed this book and answered most of the questions on paper so that I could either do it again or have a friend try it. It could easily be the entertainment at your next party. Or possibly a way for the family to spend some time together.

So, whether you  are out to train your brain, challenge it or just want to have some fun, I highly suggest you pick up a copy of this book to add to your collection.

About the Author
MARBLES: THE BRAIN STORE is in malls across the country. They and their branded products have been featured in Good Housekeeping, Real Simple, USA Today, and Wired, as well as on the Today show and Martha Stewart Living.



Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for my honest review.





Monday, December 8, 2014

An Amish Second Christmas, by Kathleen Fuller, Beth Wiseman, Ruth Reid, and Tricia Goyer



Title: An Amish Second Christmas

Author: Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller, Ruth Reid, and Tricia Goyer

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Date: October 7, 2014

Paperback: 432 pages







About the Book
“When Christmas Comes Again” by Beth Wiseman
Katherine knows the first Christmas without Elias will be hard for her and the children. But when a mysterious Englischer appears with photographs of her late husband, Katherine  begins to wonder what other blessings Christmas could have in store.

“Her Christmas Pen Pal” by Ruth Reid
Joy was expecting a wedding proposal from Henry; what she got instead was news of another woman. But when her heartfelt letter to a cousin ends up in the hands of a young cabinetmaker, an unexpected correspondence between two strangers gets interesting fast.

“A Gift for Anne Marie” by Kathleen Fuller
Anne Marie and Nathaniel have been best friends since they were kids. Now things are evolving . . . in ways everyone else predicted long ago. But when her mother suddenly decides to remarry in another state, Anne Marie’s new chapter with Nathaniel looks doomed to end before it begins.

“The Christmas Aprons” by Tricia Goyer
Vanilla crumb pie has been Esther’s mem’s calling card for decades. But when Esther finally gets her hands on the secret recipe, she discovers that vanilla crumb pie is more than just dessert . . . it’s bachelor bait.

My Take
I love Amish stories. And what better book to read during the holiday season than, An Amish Second Christmas. This book contains four different novellas from four different authors. The great thing about this is that they all have their own style of writing, so it is like four books in one. I actually own books by Kathleen Fuller and Beth Wiseman, so I knew what their stories were going to be like. The other two authors, Ruth Reid and Tricia Goyer, I had never heard of and wasn't sure what to expect. For me, Ruth Reid and Kathleen Fuller had the best stories. Ruth Reid has me feeling like I was the main character going through the story with everyone else. I think I have found a new Amish author to follow.

At the end of each story there is a small discussion section. It will help you go even deeper into the story and perfect for group discussions. There is also a glossary section at the beginning of each story to help out with the words you might not understand that are in Pennsylvania Dutch. You will also find a recipes from each story that you can make. I love this, because it can make you feel a part of their community.

So, if you love to read Amish books or want to see how different writers interpret their versions of the Amish, this is the perfect book for you.

About the Authors
Beth Wiseman
Award-winning, bestselling author Beth Wiseman is best known for her Amish novels, but she has also written several successful contemporary novels, set primarily in her beloved Texas, including Need You Now and The House that Love Built. Both have received glowing reviews. Beth's The Promise is inspired by a true story. Website: www.bethwiseman.com Twitter: @bethwiseman Facebook: Fans-of-Beth-Wiseman


Kathleen Fuller
Kathleen Fuller is the author of several bestselling novels, including A Man of His Word and Treasuring Emma, as well as a middle-grade Amish series, The Mysteries of Middlefield. Website: www.kathleenfuller.com Twitter: @TheKatJam Facebook: Author Kathleen Fuller


Ruth Reid
Ruth Reid is a CBA and ECPA best-selling author of the Heaven on Earth series. She's a full-time pharmacist who resides in Florida with her husband and three children. Facebook: Author-Ruth-Reid Twitter: @authorruthreid


Tricia Goyer
USA Today best-selling author Tricia Goyer is the author of 35 books, including the three-book Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors series. She has written over 500 articles for national publications and blogs for high traffic sites like TheBetterMom.com and MomLifeToday.com. Tricia and her husband John live in Little Rock, Arkansas where John works for FamilyLife. They have six children. Twitter: @triciagoyer Facebook: authortriciagoyer

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Christmas Cats Chase Christmas Rats, by Constance Corcoran Wilson




Title: The Christmas Cats Chase Christmas Rats

Author: Constance Corcoran Wilson

Publisher: Quad City Press

Date: October 22, 2013

Paperback: 32 pages







About the Book
The second book in the Christmas Cats adventure, the lesson to be learned is: In life, always keep an open mind. Don't accept stereotypes as true or let the unfounded opinions of others prevent you from finding out the truth for yourself. We all need to act without prejudice and learn to accept each other as individuals.

The Christmas Cats learn that rats, too, should be judged as individuals. Another message: all of us should try to help others.

My Take
When my daughter first saw this book, she wanted to read it. I will admit, the cover art really drew us in. It has bright colors and rats in a tub looking like they are having fun. Obviously, this was going to be a good book. Inside the book the artwork is just the same. It is very colorful and whimsical. The artist has "cartoon" life mixed with some everyday life. I like this because it helps kids identify with the story better. Not only do they see it as a cartoon, but they seem some reality in it.

The writing style Mrs. Wilson decided to take, is rhyming. This I think helps kids enjoy the story because they get a rhythm going with the story and it is easy to read the book. The words are printed in a larger format than you would see most stories and they alternate between red and green. Of course it would, it's a Christmas book!

Like I stated before, my daughter liked this book. I also liked it too. I think it is one that should be included on children bookshelves. Especially around Christmas time.

About the Author
Connie graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in English and Journalism, but she began writing for her hometown (Independence, Iowa) newspaper at the age of 10 and was Editor-in-Chief of her high school newspaper. She continued her education, including a Ferner/Hearst Journalism Scholarship and a Freshman Merit Scholarship at Iowa, and then at Berkeley, WIU, NIU and the University of Chicago. Connie holds a Masters (+30) in English, Journalism and Education. Her career path led to teaching 7th and 8th grade language arts (Silvis, Illinois) and teaching writing at 6 IA/IL colleges or universities, including a class teaching film at Black Hawk Junior College. She then established the second Sylvan Learning Center in the state of Iowa and a Prometric Testing site, in conjunction with ETS of Princeton, NJ. She has taught writing and literature classes at all 6 IA/IL Quad City colleges.

Connie lives in East Moline, Illinois with husband Craig and in Chicago, Illinois, where her son, Scott and daughter-in-law Jessica and their newborn twins Elise and Ava reside. Her daughter, Stacey, a graduate of Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, has been living and working in Australia since February of 2012.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Mickey and the Plow Horse, by Edward Dreyfus PhD




Title: Mickey and the Plow Horse

Author: Edward A. Dreyfus, PhD

Publisher: Edward A. Dreyfus

Date: September 30, 2014

Paperback: 172 pages








About the Book
Mickey Brandfield is a 12 year old self-proclaimed nerd who spends his time alone with his iPad, his iPod, and his countless video games. His ongoing struggle with asthma renders him unable to participate in the rough and tumble activities kids his age enjoy, including sports, but that doesn't stop his parents from packing him off to camp for the summer. There he meets Jackson, a lonely and beaten down plow horse that seems to need Mickey's friendship as much as Mickey needs his. The moment Mickey touches Jackson,something magical happens: he discovers that he and the plow horse share a gift that will change their lives forever.

My Take
I was lucky enough to ascertain a copy of the book Mickey and the Plow Horse. When I first received the book, I wasn't sure how great it was going to be. Whatever doubt I had was gone the minute I started to read the book. The author had me reeled in on the very first page. Within the first chapter alone, I was wondering how it was going to turn out and pretty much didn't put the book down until I was done. Once I had finished the book, I remember turning to my daughter and telling her she had to read the book. I actually started to tell her what the book was about after a couple of pages in and she told me to stop.

The book is set up for readers of all ages. Granted it was written for the younger group. I also really like how the words are spaced on the pages. It isn't jumbled up with small print like most books. I was able to easily see the words and move right through the book. I know this is going to appeal to my daughter as well. His writing is simplistic enough so that the younger readers will not have a hard time understanding the story. His style of writing is so amazing that I was able to visualize everyone and everything around "me" in the story. A good writing will make you feel like you feel like a part  of the story and that is exactly how I felt reading this book.

The characters in this story are all enjoyable. I don't think there was a character that I hated. I do know that you will feel for Mickey and "laugh and cry" with him all the way through the book.

Like I stated before, I really enjoyed reading this story and think everyone should include it in their home or school library.

About the Author












Dr. Edward A. Dreyfus was born and raised in The Bronx in New York City, attended City College of New York, and earned his PhD. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Kansas. He has been a practicing psychologist for the past fifty years in Santa Monica, California where he offers individual psychotherapy, relationship counseling, sex therapy and life coaching. He has been married to his wife Barbara for thirty years, has three grown children and five grandchildren, and a pooch named Charlie. He has published five previous books, and has written several screenplays.

This complimentary book was given to me by the author for my honest review.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Stolen, by Katariina Rosenblatt, PhD




Title: Stolen: The True Story of a Sex Trafficking Survivor

Author: Katariina Rosenblatt, PhD w/ Cecil Murphey

Publisher: Revell

Date: October 7, 2014

Paperback: 240 pages








About the Book
Katariina Rosenblatt was a lonely and abused young girl, yearning to be loved, wanting attention. That made her the perfect target. On an ordinary day, she met a confident young woman-someone Kat wished she could be like-who pretended to be a friend while slowly luring her into a child trafficking ring. A cycle of false friendships, threats, drugs, and violence kept her trapped.

As Kat shares her harrowing experiences, her ultimate escape, and her passionate efforts to now free other victims, you"ll see that not only is sex trafficking happening frighteningly close to home-it's also something that can be stopped. Stolen is a warning, a celebration of survival, and a beacon of hope that will inspire you.

My Take
First off, I am very critical when I read  books. I tend to see them as more than just a story. I have a bad habit of critiquing books while I read them. It is just what I do. I love reading and do enjoy different styles, but sometimes have a harder time with some over others. This unfortunately is what happened with this book. Don't get me wrong, the story is an amazing one. For someone to come out of a situation as strong as Katariina did says a lot but, it's just her way of writing her story that I felt came across like somewhat of a mix between a book and a lecture. I also felt at times she jumped around too much. Like I said, sometimes I can be very critical, and in this case this is what happened.

I do feel as though Katariina is a very strong person. To have had a full life filled with one heartbreak after another, most people wouldn't be able to say 'I made it and I am here to stay'. But her will, strength and trust in God brought her through her tough moments and had her come out on top a true survivor.

While thinking about sex trafficking, I don't tend to think of it as happening in the United States. That is probably where a lot of us go wrong. We tend to think it is something that happens in other countries, so our children won't necessarily become victims to it. This story let me know that it is right in our "backyard". I also learned that it is not necessarily just "street" prostitution that kids get sold into. It can be a friend, neighbour or just someone you least expect. Stolen, shows us that we need to keep an eye on our children and make sure we know who they are hanging around and what they are doing. They may feel like we are overbearing, but I would rather be a somewhat overbearing person, than to have my child be sold into sex trafficking. And like she states in the book. More so than not, people don't tend to make it out and those that do make it out, don't tend to live past their twenties.

When you reach the end of the book, there is a section on how your church can start up a ministry to help others that are in need of help.

I think this is a book that most parents should read. Especially those who have the quieter type of children (which she mentions as prime targets).


About the Author













Katariina Rosenblatt, LLM, PhD, is living proof of the promise she heard long ago at a Billy Graham crusade that God would never forsake her. Katariina has PhD in conflict analysis and resolution and a LLM graduate law degree in intercultural human rights, and she works closely with law enforcement agencies such as the FBI and Homeland Security to eliminate human slavery. She also founded Stolen Ones - There Is H.O.P.E. For Me, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to freeing other victims of human trafficking. For more information, visit www.StolenOnes.com. She lives in Florida.

Cecil Murphey has written or coauthored more than 130 books, including the bestselling 90 Minutes in Heaven with Don Piper and the autobiography of Franklin Graham, Rebel with a Cause. He was a collaborator on the bestseller Gifted Hands with Dr. Ben Carson. Cecil resides in Georgia.

This complimentary book was given to me by Revell for my honest review.

Friday, November 21, 2014

YogaLean:Poses and Recipes to Promote Weight Loss and Vitality - for Life!, by Beth Shaw


Title: YogaLean: Poses and Recipes to Promote Weight Loss and Vitality - for Life!

Author: Beth Shaw

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Date: September 9, 2014

Paperback: 352 pages



About the Book
Forget diets and guilt and judgments! Achieve your optimal weight by developing what internationally recognized yoga and fitness expert Beth Shaw calls Lean Consciousness. The ultimate path to weight loss, weight management, and whole-life wellness, Lean Consciousness grows out of filling your mind with good intentions, fueling your body with good food, and then moving your body intentionally. Combining the latest nutrition and exercise science with yogic wisdom and principles, YogaLean offers an easy-to-follow and inspiring holistic lifestyle program.

My Take
I was given the opportunity to review an amazing life changing book, YogaLean. This book is chock full of information on how to take your life and change it for the best. Yes, there are a ton of diet and exercise programs out there, but this one shows you how to mentally and physically change your lifestyle.

The book has two parts: The Power of Lean and Gaining Lean Consciousness. The first part of the book gives you all the background of yoga and the different parts. It shows you how to mentally achieve what you are trying to do. The "learning" section. The second part is the physical part. It shows you different yoga positions (which comes with amazing step by step photos, descriptions and the benefit of doing the pose), meditation, cardio and weight training, and most importantly, how to eat lean.

The section on eating lean is amazing. She breaks down what are considered good foods, how to eat them, store them and amazing recipes to try. I tried two of the soups right away and was not disappointed. I tried Beth's Immunity Soup (recipes for immunity). It was really good. I am going to try to eat this at least once a week. I also tried the Spicy Tomato Soup (metabolism recipes). Another home run. My daughter even liked this one.

Another part of the book that a lot of people will find very helpful, is The YogaLean One-Week Jumpstart. Here she maps out one week of what to eat, how to exercise, and how to meditate.

Like I stated before, this is a really amazing book and anyone who reads it, will learn from it. If you like yoga or want to physically and mentally get better, then this book is for you.

About The Author









Beth Shaw is the president and founder of the world-renowned YogaFit training systems and the author of Beth Shaw's YogaFit. She and her company have been featured in O: The Oprah Magazine, Time, More, Entrepreneur, Yoga Journal, Glamour, Self, and USA Today, as well as CNN, NBC, CBS, Showtime, and E! Entertainment Television. She lives in Beverly Hills, California.

This complimentary book was given to me for my honest review.