Wednesday, April 29, 2015

John Shaw's Guide to Digital Nature Photography, by John Shaw

Title: John Shaw's Guide to Digital Nature Photography

Author: John Shaw

Publisher: Amphoto Books

Date: March 17, 2015

Paperback: 240 pages

About the Book
For over four decades, John Shaw’s authentic voice and trusted advice has helped photographers achieve impressive shots in the great outdoors. In his first-ever book on digital photography, Shaw provides in-depth advice on everything from equipment and lenses to thorough coverage of digital topics including how to use the histogram. In addition, he offers inspirational and frank insight that goes far beyond the nuts and bolts of photography, explaining that successful photos come from having a vision, practicing, and then acquiring the equipment needed to accomplish the intention. Easily digestible and useful for every type of photographer, and complete with more than 250 jaw-dropping images, John Shaw’s Guide to Digital Nature Photography is the one book you’ll need to beautifully capture the world around you.

My Take
If you love photography, then you're going to enjoy this book. I don't know anyone who doesn't like taking pictures, especially if they had the right camera on the right setting for the right situation. That is pretty much what it boils down to if you want a great photo to frame or even sell. Plenty of times I have taken photos that I thought were going to be amazing, just to develop it later and then go, "that doesn't look like what I thought it would". But with the right equipment and advice, all of your pictures (or at least most of them) can look like a professional took them.

John Shaw will teach you a lot if you invest in his book. Not only do you get to see some amazing photos that have been taken by him, he also tells you what kind of camera he used, the type of lens, and the settings that he had it on. You will also learn about the right equipment that you would need in order to take nice nature photographs, using the lens, different compositions, close ups and finally the photographer at work. I have to say my favourites were the discussion on High ISO (I have always wanted to know how to work with that) and close ups (my favourite kind of nature pictures).

So, if you (or someone you may know) are anxious about getting out there and taking amazing photos for your blank wall or to give someone on their birthday, John Shaw's Guide to Digital Photography will help you with that and so much more.

About the Author

John Shaw is one of the world’s leading nature photographers and the author of many enduring bestselling books. His photographs are frequently featured in National Wildlife, Outdoor Photographer, Natural History, Sierra, and Audubon magazines, as well as in calendars, books, and advertisements. He lives in Colorado Springs.

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

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Esther: Royal Beauty (A Dangerous Beauty Novel), by Angela Hunt

Title: Esther: Royal Beauty

Series: A Dangerous Beauty Novel

Author: Angela Hunt

Publisher: Bethany House Publishing

Date: January 6, 2015

Paperback: 352 pages

About the Book
When Xerxes, king of Persia, issues a call for beautiful young women, Hadassah, a Jewish orphan living in Susa, is forcibly taken to the palace of the pagan ruler After months of preparation, the girl known to the Persians as Esther wins the king's heart and a queen's crown. But because her situation is uncertain, she keeps her ethnic identity a secret until she learns that an evil and ambitious man has won the king's permission to exterminate all Jews - young and old, powerful and helpless. Purposely violation ancient Persian law, she risks her life in order to save her people...and bind her husband's heart.

My Take
I really like the story of Esther. So when I saw I had the chance to review this book, I was ecstatic. But for some reason, this book didn't wow me. I don't know if it was the fact that I know the story and in this particular book it was done in the "not so traditional" way. It could have been the elaboration to make this story more interesting that I didn't like. I do understand that one would have to stretch it a little to create a more enjoyable story for most people reading, but for me, sticking the facts is what I like better. I guess I should have paid more attention to the part where it stated that it was a novel.

I must admit I fell in love with the cover and the back of the book. They were both beautifully done. The jewels, make-up and colors of head dress I felt really made the book stand out. I also love books that focus on different people per chapter and that is what this one does. It would have been nice if we could have had a point of view from Mordecai. But I guess the story being about Esther made more since with it being from her point of view and one of her palace helpers.

All in all, it was an okay story of Esther. Like I stated before, more to the point of the Bible would have been better for me, but I guess it wouldn't have been considered Biblical Fiction if that were the case.

About the Author

Christy-Award winner Angela Hunt writes for readers who have learned to expect the unexpected in novels from this versatile author. With over four million copies of her books sold worldwide, she is the best-selling author of more than 100 works ranging from picture books (The Tale of Three Trees) to novels.

 With nearly four million copies of her books sold worldwide, Angela Hunt is the New York Times bestselling author of The Tale of Three Trees, The Note, and The Nativity Story. Angela's novels have won or been nominated for several prestigious industry awards.

This complimentary book was given to me by Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Trouble With Peer Pressure: A Simple "My ADHD Story" for Young Teens, by Darlene R. Wood

Title: The Trouble With Peer Pressure: A Simple "My ADHD Story" for Young Teens

Author: Darlene R. Wood

Illustrator: Victor Guiza

Publisher: Outskirt Press

Date: October 29, 2014

Paperback: 31 pages

Genre: Family & Relationships/ Peer Pressure

About the Book
If you have ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), you already know that sometimes, everyday life seems like it’s too much to handle. And probably you’ve already experienced the fact that when you’re already overwhelmed, peer pressure seems to compound any situation. The Trouble With Peer Pressure is a friendly, practical guide to help you navigate the challenges of peer pressure. Author Darlene R. Wood provides information you can use, including ways to think about the consequences of your actions, and strategies to feel less isolated by the label of ADHD. You may feel that figuring out how to deal with peer pressure is hard—but guess what? It doesn’t have to be. Like any other issue, it just requires that everyone step back, evaluate, and design a thoughtful and respectful solution. The Trouble With Peer Pressure is a valuable resource for you and your family that will make life easier for you, both in school and at home.

My Take
I was really excited to read this book because my daughter was diagnosed with having ADD/ADHD. I thought it would be nice to have a book that she can refer to when feeling like things weren't feeling okay in her life. Unfortunately, this book wasn't it. The story was nice. A boy who was struggling to get through life because of something he had to deal with that most people didn't understand. It showed how he had to go through life having one downfall after another, but later coming out on top, which is good. I liked that aspect of the story. Show children no matter how hard things get, they can still come out on the top.

The one major issue I have with the book, and believe me I hate writing negative things, is the part where the authour constantly repeats "peer pressure". It would have been nice if she could have explained a little more what different peer pressures he was going through and how he came out of it. Like one part of the story speaks about peer pressure, but talks about the boy going to the principals office with his family. I don't see what that has to do with peer pressure. Granted, I know fitting in is hard, I can see what my child has gone through, but to me there is more to ADHD then suffering with peer pressure. Now I know, that is part of the title of the book, but I feel like she could have gone deeper into it and gave us a better understanding of what he went through.

I still think it is a good book to read with your children who suffer from ADHD. It might make them realize that they are not alone in how they feel and what they go through.

About the Author

Darlene R. Wood is a full-time mom who loves to create art in a variety of media, from designing wedding cakes to sewing cloth “How-To” books for children, painting, and now writing. The Trouble With Peer Pressure is her first book.

This complimentary book was given to me by Bostick Communications and the authour for my honest review.

Lighten Up, Ya'll, by Virginia Willis

Title: Lighten Up, Ya'll

Author: Virginia Willis

Publisher: Ten Speed Press

Date: March 3, 2015

Hardcover: 232 pages

About the Book
Lighten Up, Y’all, is a soul-satisfying and deeply personal collection of Virginia’s new favorite recipes. All the classics are covered—from a comforting Southern Style Shepherd’s Pie with Grits to warm, melting Broccoli Mac and Cheese to Old-Fashioned Buttermilk Pie. Each dish is packed with real Southern flavor, but made with healthier, more wholesome ingredients and techniques. Wherever you are on your health and wellness journey, Lighten Up, Y’all has the recipes, tools, and inspiration you need to make the nourishing, down-home Southern food you love.

My Take
I love recipe books. If it weren't for them, I wouldn't have a single clue what to make sometimes. But the most important, is finding a recipe book that has great tasting food, but not overly unhealthy. When I first saw this book, I was thinking if it is southern food, it probably is super fattening, but thought to give it a chance anyway.

What I like most about this book is how the author breaks down the different types of oils and fats. She lets you know who each of them stack up against each other. Not many books do that and it is helpful in deciding on which ones to have in your home. She then goes on to talk about 10 tips for lightening things up. For instance, drinking water (which we all know and do ~ hopefully), using spices in your food for flavour, choosing lean proteins, and measuring out your food vs eating straight out of the bag.

On to the recipes. There are 10 different chapters: Starters, salads, from the garden, grains, seafood, poultry, beef, soups, breads, and sweets. This was nice to see because most recipe books contain major meat recipes and I always have to figure out how to make it work for me ~ I'm a vegetarian. There are about 10 +/- recipes in each section. I don't think there isn't anything someone couldn't find. The pictures that went along with some of the recipes were amazing. So, if you are finding yourself wanting a new cookbook with tons of options, this would be the one.

About the Author

VIRGINIA WILLIS is the author of the acclaimed cookbooks Bon App├ętit, Y’all; Basic to Brilliant, Y’all; Grits; and Okra. Willis is a columnist for, a contributing editor to Southern Living, and was named one of “Seven Food Writers You Need to Know” by the Chicago Tribune. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

This complimentary book was given to me by Blogging For Books for my honest review.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Legacy, by Dan Walsh & Gary Smalley

Title: The Legacy

Series: The Restoration Series (Book 4)

Authors: Dan Walsh & Gary Smalley

Publisher: Revell

Date: April 7, 2015

Paperback: 336 pages

About the Book
For years, Doug Anderson has been drifting slowly but steadily away from both his family and his faith. His parents have been trying to reach him before he falls too far. His friend Christina hopes what she is seeing online isn't true. But sometimes you have to hit bottom before you're ready to grow up.

Just as things begin to settle down a bit, Doug's life takes a turn that requires every bit of faith and patience for both his family and Christina--whose growing feelings for Doug, a man who writes her off as not worth his time, keep her off balance. Will Doug's crisis finally clear his vision and help him focus on what he has right in front of him?

My Take

The Legacy is the 4th book in The Restoration Series. I didn't have the chance to read books one and two, but I did read book number three and found it to be a very good story. There is a connection between all of them and if you read them from beginning to end, it will make a lot more sense. When reading book #4, I had forgotten about the connection between #3. But after I realized what the connection was, it made it even more enjoyable to read. 

At the beginning of the book, you will find a text from Luke 15:20 about a father seeing his son and still having a ton of love for him as they approach each other. It kind of gives you an idea about what the story is going to be about. 

Doug is the youngest child in the Anderson family who is away at college but periodically comes home to visit. He does not have as strong of a relationship with the Lord as he once had or as his parents would want him to have. During some people's college years is when they are trying to find out who they really are and what they want to do with their life, and that is exactly what Doug was doing. There are things he is engaging in that he is trying to keep from his family, knowing that they would not approve of it, until he gets caught and has to truly examine the two lives he is trying to live. But sometimes it takes hitting rock bottom for people to realize what is truly going on in their lives and that is what happens to Doug. 

This was an amazing story. Like I stated before, if you read all four in a row, it will be even better, even though this one can hold its own. You will not want to put it down until you find out how it is going to end. I know that is how I felt. So, grab a blanket and a cup of tea and enjoy a great read.

About the Authors

Dan Walsh is the bestselling author of several books, including The Dance and The Promise with Gary Smalley, as well as The Unfinished Gift, The Discovery, and The Reunion. He has won three Carol Awards, and two of his novels were finalists for RT Book Reviews Inspirational Book of the Year for 2011 and 2012. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Dan served as a pastor for twenty-five years. He lives with his wife in the Daytona Beach area, where he's busy researching and writing his next novel. Visit for more.

Gary Smalley is one of the country's best known authors and speakers on family relationships. He is the bestselling and award-winning author or coauthor of 16 books, along with several popular films and videos. He has spent over 30 years learning, teaching, and counseling, speaking to over 2 million people in live conferences. Smalley has appeared on national television programs such as Oprah, Larry King Live, Extra, The Today Show, and The Sally Jessy Raphael Show, as well as numerous national radio programs. Gary and his wife, Norma, have been married for 50 years and live in Branson, Missouri. They have three children and six grandchildren.

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

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Sand in My Sandwich, by Sarah Parshall Perry

Title: Sand in My Sandwich: And Other Motherhood Messes I'm Learning to Love

Author: Sarah Parshall Perry

Publisher: Revell

Date: March 17, 2015

Paperback: 224 pages

About the Book
You know that thing when you're in Walmart at noon before you discover you haven't brushed your teeth? Sarah Parshall Perry gets that. She also gets weird things showing up in her bed, her daughter requesting war paint, and her son crawling into a giant blue sock on Christmas morning. Sometimes, she gets that conflicted feeling of finding her kids hanging out in the dog's cage and realizing that, yes, dog cages are not for people, but . . . they have stopped getting into trouble.

According to Perry, "The hardest stuff is the quickest way to God." And if the systematic destruction of her carefully planned life is any indication, she's on the fast track to sainthood! A mother of three children, two of whom are on the autism spectrum, she has experienced plenty of ups and downs. But from the chaos of her "ordinary" life, she pulls truth packed with humor, poignancy, and a naked honesty that will make you realize you are not alone in this delightfully messy thing called motherhood. 

My Take
When I first saw this book, I figured it would be an interesting read. But what I didn't realize is how much I would enjoy reading it. Seeing how she has two kids with special needs, I thought that there were some things that I could relate with her. I personally don't have a child with autism, but mine does have ADHD and we have tons of moments like she does with her kids in this book. When I read her reaction to certain situations, I was like, "yes, I am not the only mother who reacts that way". It made me feel a lot better. Some of the things that her boys have gone through, my child has gone through and to read her emotional ups and downs and how she relies on God to get her through, gives me hope.

The one thing I like most about Mrs. Perry's style of writing is that it is very light. I love how she can find the humour in most ordinary things. It gives me a sense of relaxation. It makes me take a look at life in a different way. I also enjoyed how she places a Bible text at the beginning of every chapter. It shows her dedication to God.

I guarantee if you pick this book up, you will not put it down until you have finished reading it. You will enjoy it from beginning to end.

About the Author

Sarah Parshall Perry (JD, University of Virginia School of Law) is a wife and mother of three young children. She is the coauthor of When the Fairy Dust Settles (with her mother, Janet Parshall) and the author of numerous magazine articles, award-winning short stories, and poetry. Sarah has served in youth ministry for over ten years and is currently writing for where she encourages other families living with disabilities. She lives in Maryland.

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

Monday, April 6, 2015

Anthony Ant Goes To Egypt, by Julie Bettendorf

Title: Anthony Ant Goes to Egypt

Author: Julie Bettendorf

Publisher: Outskirt Press

Date: November 30, 2014

Paperback: 31 pages

Genre: Juvenile Fiction/ Humorous Stories

About the Book
Where Will Anthony Ant Go Next?

Anthony Ant knows how to travel in style—since he’s so small, he can go just about anywhere, unnoticed! This time, he curls up in a suitcase and gets out in Egypt, ready for the fabulous adventure of a lifetime. Anthony Ant is in Cairo, Egypt…and luckily he meets an expert tour guide, Babu Beetle. Together they explore Egypt’s history, culture, and food, with adventures including a camel ride, and a visit to the famous pyramids…and more! The second book in the Anthony Ant series continues to introduce kids to the excitement of world travel, with an enjoyable companion who is ready to share his experiences.

My Take
This a really cute book. If your children like books that rhyme, which I am sure most children do, they will like this one. The story is about a little ant that travels through Egypt. While you follow the ant traveling through Egypt, your children will learn different things about the country. For starters, they will learn about the capital, different foods that can be eaten there, how they travel, some sights you would see, and what one would buy in the market place.

Another nice thing about this book are the illustrations. They are very colourful and the pictures will draw the attention of any child into the book. There are people of different nationalities in the book, which I fell will help children identify a little more with the story.

If you are looking for a nice book to cuddle with your child and read, this is the one.

This complimentary book was given to me by Bostick Communications and the author for an honest review.

About the Author
Julie Bettendorf is an enthusiastic world traveler, with a background in history and a degree in archaeology. Through her books, she shares the wonderful world of travel with children and their parents, as Anthony Ant teaches kids about other cultures, customs, and traditions. When Julie is not traveling with her daughter Erin and son Max, she lives in central Oregon.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Obama Confidential:Strange, Odd & Bizarre Letters to the 44th President , by Marc Berlin

Title: Obama Confidential: Strange, Odd & Bizarre Letters to the 44th President [Unabridged] [Audible Audio Edition]

Author: Marc Berlin

Publisher: Spoken Word Inc.

Date: December 1, 2014

Narrators: Jim Meskimen & Tamara Meskimen

Listening Length: 2 hours and 50 minutes

About the Audiobook
From celebrities as diverse as Warren Buffet, Bill Clinton, and Steven Spielberg, to anonymous everyday citizens like the minimum-wage waitress in Oklahoma and a dry cleaner named Al Kayda in Wisconsin,Obama hears it, and gets it, from everyone. And when you're the president, absolutely no subject is off-limits. An ex-student in Illinois is drowning in an ocean of debt; a harried housewife in Wyoming has dubious ideas about how to save hard-earned pennies; while a gun owner in Tennessee vigorously defends his right to bear arms. Obama, who's obviously a very busy man, sometimes answers with a brief innocuous letter of his own. Echoing another classic of U.S. history, Alex de Tocqueville's ; Democracy in America;, 'Obama Confidential' offers a vivid, consistently amusing snapshot of America in the second decade of the 21st century, with hilarious results.

My Take
This review is way overdue and I feel bad about that, but in my defense, I have this audiobook in my car and listen to it all the time. I love it and it keeps me laughing. The different letters that are "written" to the president are hilarious. They are very appropriate for the areas that they "come from". What makes it even better are the different voices that you hear along with each letter. To be perfectly honest, there were times when I forgot that it really wasn't the president or they were made up people. The narrator is very good at changing his voice and mimicking other people.

There are three different discs. All together it is about 3 hours long. This makes it perfect for when you are on a trip and you need to pass time. There are pictures of the president and his wife on the discs. It gives you more of a feeling that he is the voice that is answering the letters. The box set is nice and small and can fit in your glove box.

I don't tend to listen to a lot of audiobooks, but am glad that I had the chance to review this one. Like I stated before, I haven't laughed this hard in a long time. Granted, some of them are straight up political, but a lot of them won't be heard as super serious because of the different voices and storyline for all the letters.

About the Author

Marc Berlin is an American film director, producer, screenwriter, author, and satirist.

Berlin is the author of three books of humor, That Cloud Looks Like Jesus, The Skeptic’s Handbook and Obama Confidential.

He grew up in Marblehead, Massachusetts and attended The University of Pennsylvania. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania he went to film school at Columbia in New York City for a year. He says he learned zero, so he went out to Los Angeles and became a script analyst. Among other things, his background includes comedy writing for Joan Rivers and being a script analyst for Jack Nicholson.

He and his wife, Heidi, live in Plymouth, Massachusetts. They have no pets.

I was given this complimentary audiobook by Bostick Communications and the author for my honest review.