Thursday, December 3, 2015

Fantasy Novel: The Shock of Night

The Darkwater Saga by Patrick W. Carr begins with The Shock of Night.  Willet Dura serves the king by investigating crimes.  Things get frightening when Willet receives an unexpected gift that puts him in league with a small group of people who are not supposed to exist anymore.  Add to that the fact that Willet has a dark secret hidden away in his mind, where he cannot retrieve it.

Lovers of mystery and of fantasy can both enjoy this novel.  I will be adding this series to my church library, looking forward to future installments.

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House for my honest review.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Dangerous Beauty Series Continues

Angela Hunt has a gift for imagining the lives of women about whom the Bible tells us only the essentials.  Using the Bible and other history of the times, she has fleshed out a fictional account of the life of Bathsheba--the wife of Uriah the Hittite, one of David's Might Men.  Stolen by the king, Bathsheba endured the loss of her husband by David's plot and the loss of her infant son by God's judgement.

She also went on to give birth to Solomon, future king of Israel and builder of the first Temple.  What must it have been like to be her?  I believe Angela Hunt has given an excellent story that might be close the truth.

As a church librarian and lover of history, I recommend Bathsheba: Reluctant Beauty as part of a fiction collection.

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House for my honest review.

Dangerous Beauty series on Amazon

Book of Nehemiah Comes to Life

On this Foundation by Lynn Austin is the third volume of The Restoration Chronicles.

Using careful historical research to inform the storytelling, Austin offers historical fiction heavy on the history.  The story of Nehemiah's faith and leadership in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem against tremendous opposition is a story we need today.

If you like romance without silly sappiness, courage without hubris, and faith with flaws, this story is a very human and uplifting read.

I highly recommend the entire Restoration Chronicles series for church and home libraries.  

I received a free review copy of On this Foundation from Bethany House publishers in exchange for my honest opinion as a church librarian.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Solar-Powered Airplane: Fun and Educational

Children learn with their entire bodies, not just their eyes and ears.  Hands-on activities are ideal for teaching basic STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) principles such as gravity, speed, momentum and lift.  Eye-hand coordination is developed when children read illustrated instructions and translate 2-dimensional diagrams into 3-dimensional models.  When the resulting model can also fly, well, that is one great educational activity! That's why I'm excited to introduce you to the Volta Flyer.

Get kids active outdoors while also teaching them important STEM concepts such as aerodynamics, electronics, and mechanical engineering.  This earth-friendly flyer uses the power of the sun and is made of super-lightweight, eco-friendly materials.  It is hand launched, so there are no dangerous chemicals or flames involved, either.

Check out the Kickstarter campaign from Toylabs and be rewarded with a Volta Flyer of your own!  You can also follow @ToyLabs in Twitter to keep up with new developments.

Early interest in STEM careers begins with parents and teachers engaging children in meaningful activities that show how math and science relate to real-world processes.  Even children who end up in non-STEM careers will still benefit from the experience of carefully following instructions, building, measuring, testing, and correcting mistakes.

Add the family bonding time involved in a project like the Volta Flyer and you have a gift that keeps on giving.  Fresh air, family fun, and STEM education--all in one!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Subversive Living: A More Prosperous Planet

Subversive Living: A More Prosperous Planet: About time somebody wrote about helping people prosper instead of just demonizing success!  It's been a while.  Felipe Tudela offers a rational look at wealth...

Friday, October 30, 2015

Review: The Girl Who Roars by Shirley Wu

Shirley Wu used to be a people-pleasing person who worked hard for the wrong reasons.  She then realized she wanted to be her best self, investing in her dreams and maximizing her gifts.  Shirley shares her 3-step process:

  1. Intention
  2. Initiating
  3. Immersion.
Instead of seeking approval from others, seek purposeful experience.  My favorite quote from the book is "Do things that you don't tell anyone about. Don't put it on Facebook."  In other words, live your own best life.  Try things and fail. Learn from the experience.  Don't live in a box.

This is a concise book with a defined action plan.  If you are a wallflower, doormat, or just want to get out of a rut, let Shirley inspire you.  You can get The Girl Who Roars for Amazon Kindle.

Check out her other books as well on her website, Base Camp Shirls

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

I woke up one October morning, got the kids off to school, and picked up my coffee and my Kindle. Allegiant had downloaded at midnight and I was eager for the grand finale of the Divergent trilogy from Veronica Roth. I read through the morning and at lunchtime was finished. Handkerchief, please! I thought Veronica was brilliant. I hurried off to post my 5-star review on Amazon.
I was shocked to see so many 1-star reviews. Do young adults not have the ability to appreciate great writing even if they don't like the ending? While some reviewers rightly pointed out some loose ends that were not tied up and had some legitimate questions about certain plot details, review after review was the venting of children who were angry because the writer did not do things "their way." If you can do better, kids, please write your own excellent series of novels. I will be glad to read them and give them a fair-minded review.
What follows is a spoiler-free review to give you a taste of the book. Start at the beginning of the trilogy, though!
In Divergent, Veronica Roth introduces us to a city organized around five groups. Each faction values one virtue above all others. At age sixteen, at a Choosing Ceremony, young people must choose to join the faction in which they were raised or transfer to another faction, leaving family behind forever. Those who fail initiation into a faction become factionless, and live as outcasts, doing the jobs nobody else will do. Those who have aptitude for more than one faction are called "divergent" and are in danger of death from certain leaders who fear them for their ability to think and act outside the boxes built for them by the founders of their community.
Tris Prior is divergent. She also discovers secret after secret as we follow her through the books. In Insurgent, the secrets really pile up and the characters have to sort through many questions, such as:
  • Who can be trusted? Anyone?
  • Who/what is worth dying for?
  • What kind of world do we want to live in?
Veronica explores themes such as heredity versus environmental factors, the ethics of experimentation on human populations--especially without informed consent of all participants, obedience to government versus obedience to moral principles, and the nature of love, e.g. do we just fall in love, or is it a choice we make every day? This is a lot for young adults to process, but the questions are important. Allegiant asks these questions and shows some possible answers.
I recommend this series to teens and older. Because of the important questions they ask, these books could be a good literature unit for homeschoolers. I also recommend it for family reading. I look forward to my daughters reading this so we can discuss it together as we have so many other books.

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Great Apopcalypse: Complicated and Thrilling

Do you enjoy fiction that also makes you think?  If you do, I understand--some of us enjoy thought experiments as a leisure activity!  Daniel Thompson presents The Great Apocalypse as a "philosophical thriller."  If you think philosophy is boring, let this book challenge you to rethink.

Have you ever wondered if everything you assumed to be true wasn't?  Follow Thomas Adams as he sorts ancient mysteries, popular beliefs about the end times, stock market collapses, and danger to the woman he loves.Is he seeing the fulfillment of ancient prophecies?  Is he losing his mind? What is truth?

Buckle up and read cover to cover as all the pieces and layers start to come together.  Available for Kindle or as a paperback.

Daniel Thompson's Author Central page

The Sparlock Blog

Friday, October 9, 2015

Orphans: Fallout from the Vietnam War

Bruce King presents the story of his mother, his family, and his own life.  Along the way, readers learn about Americans in Thailand during the Vietnam war, the plight of the mixed-race children they left behind, the work of the Pearl S. Buck organization, and the journey one might take from Buddhism to Christianity.

If you have ever sponsored a child or been involved in orphan care, this book is a look from the child's perspective as well as from the perspective of an adult looking back at a long journey.

Bruce King's Blog: Orphans, Servants, Loving our Community

Buy Orphans of the Secret War on Amazon

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Gray Zone: YA Novel with Important Themes

Gray Zone by Veronica R. Tabares is an excellent addition to any YA book collection.  This novel is a compelling, well-written story about high school students.It also incorporates important concerns of modern teens: bullying via social media.

Autumn, the main character, has a supportive family that helps her survive bullying so severe she had to change schools.  Some of her classmates at her new school were not so fortunate--or they never gave their parents a chance to help them.  This story has victims and survivors, as well as  one who decides to be a champion/defender.

Many teens will identify with one or more characters in Gray Zone.  Parents or teachers can use a discussion of this book to teach teens how to ask for help when needed.  I would recommend parents read this book along with their teens, since suicide is one element of the story. My family has often read together, a practice that continues as I discuss books with my grown children and we recommend books to one another!

I received a free review copy of this book and offer my endorsement as a librarian and as a mother of six.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Are You a Prankster? Try Glitter Bombs

While I'm not a prankster myself (not often, at least) I can recognize an interesting idea when I see one. GlitterBombd specializes in sparkly pranks for special people in your life.  Choose from a variety of designs, all combined with glitter and mailed to your favorite (or least favorite) person.  Political, celebrity, and cartoon designs are some of your choices.

Use Coupon Code 2125AA20 to save 50% on your order for a limited time.

 A portion of  GlitterBombd proceeds go to Wounded Warrior Project.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Math Comic Books? Yes!

Image from

So often parents and teachers try to make up ways to make math meaningful and fail.  This is too bad, because we live in a world full of math and that world is exciting and interesting to explore!  Yamie Chess' math comics are a place where math concepts meet the time-tested, ever popular game of chess.  Kids love games, games involve math concepts--everyone wins.

School Library Journal and a host of math education professionals endorse Yamie Chess' math comics.  The cartoon adventures merge reading with algebra, geometry, and other number skills for elementary grades through middle school.  Develop thinking skills and show students that reading and math can go together.

Fight Common Core confusion with real math from STEM professionals.  Fight boredom with engaging adventure stories.  Introduce children to chess as well--a worthy pursuit that may be enjoyed for a lifetime.

Everyone wins with Yamie Chess comics.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

A New Twist on Pride and Prejudice

 Buy on Amazon

Denise O-Hara, author of a series of novellas depicting Life after the Wedding for Jane Austen fans, has done it again.  Disdain and Deception weaves a mysterious and delightful alternative story beginning with the engagement of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy.  What if Mr. Darcy were in an accident?

True to the style Jane Austen used, the characters remain true to themselves despite the plot twist.  I will give no spoilers, but will say I found the ending quite satisfactory!

I received a free review copy of the novel for my honest opinion and highly recommend it for both Austen fans and those who have yet to meet the delightful Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Book Giveaway: The Bridge Builder

 buy on amazon

If you have ever heard of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, you have Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein to thank.  Zev Chaffets presents The Bridge Builder, an authorized biography of a man who joined Christians and Jews to support Israel--a nation uniquely blessed by God to be a blessing to all nations.

Photographs are included in this excellent account of a life lived to repair relations between two groups that have at times in history persecuted one another and to unite them as a witness to those who would persecute both groups.  People of any faith or no faith could learn from the example of a rabbi who simply followed where God was leading him.

Simply leave a comment on this blog post for a chance to win your own copy of The Bridge Builder.

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): 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.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Use Social Media Productively

Yes, you could spend hours on Facebook looking at pictures of cute kittens.  Alternatively, you could harness the power of social media to build your brand and get your business in front of people who share a need for or interest in your product.  If you want to do the latter, I recommend Jason McDonald as a teacher.

I was recently sent a draft chapter from a book Dr. McDonald is writing (Social Media Marketing Workbook) and learned things I didn't know about Facebook.  I was an early adult adopter of Facebook, trying to stay in touch with college kids, but still have a lot to learn about searching and about the algorithms used to rank Facebook pages and posts.  McDonald is able to teach me.

Learn to create a profile and then a page for your business or organization.  Then learn to strategically post after first looking round to see how your market interacts on social media.  One key is to be social--not just "buy my stuff" but building relationships through sharing interesting quotes, pictures, and stories.  Relationships are key to long-lasting business success.

Contact Jason McDonald and get on his mailing list for more information about training in SEO and social media use.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Caleb: Mighty Man of Faith and Action

I have always appreciated the stories of Joshua and Caleb--the 2 spies who wanted to obey God and take the promised land after 10 other spies said it was too hard.  After the 40 years in the wilderness, only Joshua and Caleb were left of those original 12 spies.  And old man Caleb was ready to conquer!

Cliff Graham uses his experiences as a soldier, writer, and theologian to weave a fictional account that honors historical and Biblical accuracy.  If you enjoyed his Lion of War series, you will enjoy Shadow of the Mountain.

I received a free review copy from Bethany House for my honest opinion of the novel.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Powerful Tool for Better Writing


As a writer, do you ever agonize over a word choice? Does your proofreading turn up the same word over and over? Do you resist using an awkward thesaurus?

Jesse Gilbert understands your struggle and offers a high-speed alternative to an online thesaurus.  Brainstorm Pro allows you to search for up to ten words at once and often returns results in just a second.  Speed does not compromise quality, however, as Brainstorm Pro offers up to 20 times the word choices of a typical thesaurus.

If you sometimes work in languages other than English, this software is for you as well.  Spanish, Italian, and French have been tested and many more languages are supported, from Afrikaans to Zulu.  You can even "translate" among the various flavors of English--handy if you are a United States writer who sometimes writes for Canadian, Australian, or British clients.

Try out this software and see how your writing improves.  Teachers, copywriters, translators, and students can all benefit from an outstanding thesaurus with Brainstorm Pro.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

DVD Giveaway: Did the Exodus Happen as The Bible Says?

Those who know me know my answer to that question is "Yes, of course."  I believe God's Word.  I am not an authority on ancient Egyptian history or archaeology, however. I'm just somebody who believes, as an engineer and as a Christian, that Truth always prevails, eventually, simply because it is true.

But what if there were more worldly and learned folk who uncovered evidence that any conflicts between the historical timeline and the Biblical timeline are problems on man's end and not on God's?  Patterns of Evidence chronicles one filmmaker's journey to ancient lands and his conversations with scholars of other faiths and of no faith.  Timothy Mahoney wanted to see the evidence and separate tradition from history.

This film includes appearances by Shimon Peres and Benjamin Netanjahu, as well as scholars from around the world.  Timeline animation helps the viewer see just what the scholars are talking about.

Not only do I recommend this DVD for your family viewing and for church libraries, I am offering a Free DVD Giveaway.  Comment on this blog post and you are entered for a drawing to be held August 11.  You may also purchase a copy at the official Patterns of Evidence website.

Friday, July 17, 2015

From Farmer to Hunter: Here's How

The big business ideas of the world come from a group of people Gutsche calls Hunters.  Most people are Farmers--not in the agricultural sense, but in mindset.  Here is a brief outline of the 3 Farmer traps and the contrasting Hunter instincts:

  1. Complacency Trap: Farmers want stable job security--which hardly exists in the 21st century.  The Hunter instinct that counters this trap is insatiability.  Hunters are always looking for the next meal, taking nothing for granted.
  2. Repetition Trap: Farmers value duty and responsibility.  Hunters, while they shouldn't be irresponsible, are curious and will rebel/innovate when it seems advantageous.
  3. Protectiveness Trap: Farmers erect fences (physical, organizational, or psychological) to protect the status quo.  The Hunter instinct is a willingness to destroy--to question the status quo and adapt to new conditions.

There is much more to this book, but you will need to read it for yourself.

I received a free review copy through Blogging for Books.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Next Book I'm Reading--For Free

I will be sure to leave a review here once I finish the book. I just downloaded it.  If you don't have a Kindle or Nook or Kobo reader, you are missing the fun and convenience of downloading more free books than you can ever read in a lifetime.  You can download your own copy by clicking the banner below.

Review: The e-booklet is the plan Jon Olsen used to work his way out of a pizza job and into a full-time career as an internet entrepreneur.  He spent a small amount for advertising each month and tells exactly which programs he used (or would have used--he updated the book to include new programs that didn't exist when he began.)

It's free and it's quick to read, so even if you only use one idea you will come out ahead for a small investment of time.

Monday, July 13, 2015

My +1 Journey Begins

I enjoyed reading Jon's simple formula for success: just do one more thing every day.  Seems simple enough, right?  Here are examples of the +1s I have done so far:

  • Add a photo to one of my splash pages.  A splash page is a quick-loading ad that gets attention and leads the reader to more detailed information. Many programs supply splash pages, but adding a photo lets people know they are being asked to do business with or read an article by a real person--not an emoticon or a kitten or a cartoon.
  • Send personalized tweets about the free +1 book as well as one of my own books.
  • Send an email offering to teach a class at a co-op. (BINGO!)
  • Clean out one more overstuffed idea file.
None of these things took more than a few minutes, but any one of them could set in motion something much bigger--a sale, a downline member, an idea for a great new story.....

The journey continues.  There is always one more thing you can do (Col. Hal Moore in We Were Soldiers...)

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Reading about Extreme Cognitive Gifts--Part 2

IQ is a Controversial Topic to Some

This third book is included because it is controversial, and I firmly believe people should be exposed to controversial ideas. It is good exercise for the mind! Doctors Herrnstein and Murray provide loads of data and footnotes to back up their observations and conclusions.
Whether or not one likes the authors' conclusions, this is a book that raised important questions people were (and still are) afraid to ask. Many Americans think we must pretend everybody is the same in order to maintain equality under the law. In fact, our system of equality under the law is to ensure that all of us, while different in abilities, interests, religion--and intelligence--can get along with one another. Full of footnotes, this book is worth reading whether you like it or not.

How Gifted Students Challenge the System

Today's professional educator/bureaucrat (as opposed to the actual classroom teacher) wants all children to learn in a straight line, in a prescribed sequence, at the same rate. Gifted children can't help challenging this system. Many of them learned to read with no formal instruction before any educator had a chance at them (I was one of those children, as was a son of mine.) They arrive in kindergarten and are told they can't read their chapter book because it is time to sit on a rug and look at state-approved basal readers--boring!
Gifted students ask too many questions, especially those of the "Why?" variety. Their thirst for knowledge can seem unquenchable, especially for the modern classroom teacher who has a room full of students that range from several grade levels below grade to several levels above. What is he/she supposed to do in those circumstances? The obvious solution, promoting gifted students a grade or two, is rejected by bureaucrats for vague "socialization" reasons. Pull-out programs are just some token add-ons to the unchallenging (for the gifted student) curriculum rather than an appropriate program for their actual academic level. Parents need the resources to fight for their child--or to create an appropriate educational program themselves.
Gifted students also challenge systems created for typical children because of their asynchronous (out of the usual time) development, e.g. their emotional growth may lag behind their math ability and their fine motor skills may lag behind their reading skills. Thus even a classroom full of gifted students would present some difficulties for a teacher. Understanding the challenges is the first step to meeting them, so read these books and learn.
Gifted children grow up being told they are "too (fill-in-the-blank)" and wonder what is wrong with them. If your child is "too curious", "too active", or "too everything" you need this book. You can't force a child to not be intense, but you can teach them to channel the intensity appropriately. Intensity is a gift, not a disease!

Book 2 in Magicae Mathematica Series is Here

Jim West continues his fantasy series for children with another math-inspired episode.  The students of Archimedes journey to find Pythagoras and help their teacher solve an equation that could stop a mysterious man who threatens their city.  Can they stop the power of the circlet with perpetual power?  Is pi the key?

This book is good, clean fun for all ages.  I hope the fun continues for many more volumes!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Greatest Generation: Driving Grandpa

John Redstand's Grandpa saved the world from Japanese imperialism.  Then in his old age he evaded scheming relatives trying to put him in a retirement community, saving an abandoned dog, and teaching a neighborhood kid not to break into his house.  Those are only a handful of the many adventures John has as he tries to keep up with his delightful, indomitable, stubborn, and altogether awesome Grandpa.

Driving Grandpa brought back so many memories of my own relatives.  The saved the world, then humbly returned to their frugal, hardworking lives after the War.  In a world where college kids are demanding "safe rooms" and being "offended" and "triggered all the time, it's so good to have some of the Greatest Generation around to keep things real!  I hope some of them live to be 200 so our great grandchildren's generation can learn from them and laugh with them.

Well done, John Redstand.  And well done, Grandpa!

Business Resource for Developing Successful Habits

+1 Success by Jon Olsen

I downloaded this free pdf and am impressed with how Jon Olsen simply states a basic idea: Just do one more thing than you did yesterday.  Most people have dreams, but when they don't achieve them in a grand way in a short time they simply give up.  Successful people take one day at a time, one task at a time, with each step moving them a little closer to their goals.  Even a failure is a tep toward the goal--you learned something!

Take the time to read this short e-book and, more importantly, practice what it preaches.  Let me know what happens by leaving a comment, please!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

You Can Write a Memoir

Gail Woodard has created a detailed set of instructions for writing your own memoirs. Memoir Writing Made Easy takes the form of ten lessons that carry you from overcoming your initial inertia through outlining and research and, finally, to publishing.  Along the way she even covers legal issues involved in writing a memoir and dealing with troublesome family issues that might be holding you back.

Everyone has a story, but not everyone writes theirs down.  Whether you want to leave a written record for just your own family or publish a memoir for the world to read, Gail Woodard and The Memoir Studio want to help.  In addition to the e-book, a Basic Course and a Premium Course (one-on-one coaching included) are available from Dudley Court Press.

If you need a little help starting and/or finishing your memoir project, this book could be just what you've been waiting for!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Reading about Extreme Cognitive Gifts--Part 1

When it comes to children with cognitive gifts, misunderstandings abound. To help with the confusion, myths, and facts about gifted students, I've compiled a list of the best books I have found so far. From the definition of "gifted" to the education of the gifted to the special psychological makeup of students who inhabit the right tail of the IQ bell curve, these books will, together, give a basic education to any parent or teacher.
While programs abound for helping children whose gifts are not mathematical or linguistic, the students who excel and need more challenging material are often left alone. They will, of course, often take matters into their own hands and learn in spite of a standard curriculum that tries to keep them stuck intellectually with their "peers" (kids who have nothing in common except birth dates within a narrow range.) To simply ignore them, however, is to risk wasting their gifts by causing them to slack off (because they can get an A without any effort) or to act out because they are bored out of their atypical minds.
These books will offer valuable information to parents seeking ways to accelerate their children appropriately, even in the face of hostility from traditional educators. The information is also valuable to educators who truly want to help all their students grow, including those who are already several grades ahead intellectually.
Ellen Winner's book offers comprehensive coverage of cognitive gifts, while Sowell's concerns a special class of late-talking children with intellectual gifts. Both were very helpful to me in working with a variety of children, including my own six children and Sunday School children with various gifts.

Winner, Ellen, Gifted Children: Myths and Realities
I consider this the definitive work on the subject of gifted children for the layman or educator who needs an introduction to the broad range of issues these children present.

Sowell, Thomas, The Einstein Syndrome 
Dr. Sowell offers hope to a special group of parents: those who have a late-talking child who is not autistic or developmentally disabled. After typical reasons for late talking are ruled out, e.g. hearing problems or cognitive disabilities, Einstein Syndrome is a possibility.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Feline Movie Fun

Check out Mewvie: The Motion Picture for your Cat and enjoy watching your cat enjoy this film.

In episode 1: Backyard Buffet , birds chirp in the background as your cat sees videos of squirrels at play, bugs (not my favorite part, but this if for my cat's entertainment, not mine) and more.  Everything your cat loves to stalk is represented: rodents, birds, and insects.  I enjoyed watching the chinchillas play--knowing they were safe from my cats!

Other titles in the series include:

  • Birdland Bonanza
  • Bug Brigade, and
  • Hummingbird Happiness.
No animals were harmed in the making of these videos, but your cat can dream.  I received a free review copy and enjoyed it with my cats and my kids.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Quality Fiction for Church Library

Davis Bunn can be counted on for excellent suspense novels.  The Patmos Deception is the story of a journalist and an archeologist, joined by an interest in stolen Greek antiquities.  They are joined by a Greek businessman and discover more than they expected to find.

The Greek island of Patmos was the final earthly home of the exiled apostle John.  He was living there when he saw the Revelation.  Interesting setting for a novel.

This romance/mystery/suspense novel should have broad appeal to men and women and to readers of most fiction genres.

I received a free review copy of The Patmos Deception from Bethany House.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

DVD Giveaway Drawing: Pirate's Code

Family-Friendly Summer Viewing

This is the second movie in the Mickey Matson Series, but it can stand alone.  The story is a techno-thriller with a group of young people out to save all the world's technology from the Tesla Coil weapon.

Check out the trailer for a preview and order online from Great Christian Books.

Comment below and get entered in a drawing for a free DVD copy of Pirate's Code.  You can't win if you don't comment!

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): 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.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Shopping for Summer Learning

Mead is a leading manufacturer of quality notebooks and a variety of other school and office products:

 Mead Note Taking Products

Mead Early Learning Products

Mead Organizing Products

For children in need of productive play, check out these two catalogs: HearthSong and Magic Cabin:


Magic Cabin

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Debut Novel from Christian Author E.C. Jackson

A Gateway to Hope  by E.C. Jackson is a story of Neka, a quiet young woman waiting for her dreams to come true, and James, an ambitious man with a difficult family.  Neka's family turns out to be a bit troublesome, too, although it is done out of concern for Neka.  Can an impulsive trip and a surprise proposal end in happiness for James and Neka?

The novel includes a lot of real estate development talk, since both families are in that business.  The events of the story are universal, though, as families deal with common problems whatever their business.  What the novel does not have is gratuitous sex.  Nor will you find foul language.   You can just read freely, enjoying a detailed story about relationships.

One item I would like to see in a future edition of this book is a list of characters at the beginning of the novel for reference.  I sometimes had to stop and think about which names were sisters and which were friends or cousins, for instance.  Not a big problem, though.

E.C. Jackson Facebook Page

Friday, May 15, 2015

More Jane Austen-Inspired Fan Fiction

The exploits of the Bingley's son after they move from Pemberley to Bethany House are chronicled in Part 2 of A Pride and Prejudice Sequel: Life After the Wedding.  In Part 3 a great ball is planned by the Bingley's and the Darcy's--until influenza hits England hard.  The characters generations grew to love in Pride and Prejudice continue their lives in Denise O'Hara's three-part sequel.  Another generation now needs to learn the lessons once learned by their parents!

Check out all three parts together in paperback  if you prefer physical books to Kindle versions.  I wonder which Jane Austen would choose if she read and wrote today.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

After "Pride & Prejudice"...

Do you often feel sad when you reach the end of a good book?  Sometimes those characters feel like old friends and we miss them, right?  Denise O'Hara has crafted a treat for Jane Austen fans. Enjoy her interpretation of what might have happened after Pride & Prejudice.

In Book One of her novella series, Jane and Lizzy adjust to married life, meet extended family, and become mothers.  These experiences help them better understand their own mother.  Understanding Mrs. Bennet doesn't necessarily make her more pleasant, however.  The Bingleys do what they must to keep Mrs. Bennet from upsetting Jane any more.

I received a free review copy of this novella and will be reviewing the rest of the 3-part series soon.  Check back later!

Small Business Marketing Resource

Small Business Acceleration: Get Noticed using Facebook, LinkedIn, Email Marketing, Public Relations and Video Marketing  is a long title, but perfectly describes this practical guide to getting noticed by the people who want your products or services.  Each of the five methods in the title gets an entire chapter.

The Facebook chapter includes step-by-step directions with helpful screen shots to guide you.  Instead of guessing which buttons to click, Pamela Wigglesworth tells you and shows you.  All those settings most casual users ignore are explained so you can adjust them for maximum benefit to your business.

What the author does for Facebook she repeats for LinkedIn.  A list of best practices helps you optimize your profile, join groups and discussions, create a company page and more.  

Email marketing is then explained in detail.  Wigglesworth offers recommendations for mailing list resources such as MailChimp.  Then it's on to press releases: how to write them and how often to write them.  Examples are included to make it easy to see what professional quality looks like.  Finally, video marketing is included with plenty of encouragement for reluctant business owners.  Consumers like video, so we must learn to use it even if video production is not our forte.

Overall, this is a great book packed with practical information you can use right away.  I received a free copy of the ebook for my honest review and am impressed with the quality.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Affordable ACT Coaching

Acing the ACT includes essential strategies for tackling tricky questions and generally approaching the exam.  The ACT is intended to be tricky to those who are not vigilant.  Author Elizabeth King shares her strategies from her experience preparing students for this college admission test.

Unlike most test guides, this book is compact enough to slip into a purse or large pocket.  Instead of endless practice tests, this book gives examples of the trickiest questions and how to conquer them.  King's advice on marking up a practice test to learn the types of mistakes you make means the student gets a customized test preparation that target their own areas of weakness.

I highly recommend Acing the ACT as an affordable, portable resource students may actually enjoy using.

I received a free review copy through Blogging for Books.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Intelligent Argument

Every time an atheist argues against God, he or she uses tools created by God to make the argument.  Thus Turek's title, Stealing from God.

Rather than try to prove the existence of God, Frank Turek addresses the question of which worldview best explains reality: theism or atheism.  As an engineer by training, I appreciate this approach.  Both sides must make their case when this question is posed.  Both theist and atheist must explain origins, physical laws of nature, logic, free will, the genetic code.....

Chapters include Causality, Reason, Information & Intentionality, Morality, Evil, and Science.  Each chapter illustrates how the atheist exhibits faith just as the theist does.  The difference is the theist acknowledges he is acting on faith while the atheist insists he is coldly logical (using laws and logic that only exist because of a transcendent "first cause.")

I recommend this book especially to youth teachers as preparation for seniors headed for college or career.  Parents can also use this at home for engaging dinner table discussions.  It is important to develop the mind.  Wisdom is crying out, offering itself to us; we should answer!

I received a free review copy of Stealing from God through the Tyndale Blog Network.

Atlantis: Legend or History?

Dennis Brooks has obviously read extensively about Atlantis and takes his reader through the writings of Plato as well as historians and archaeologists of several centuries.  Brooks has concluded that the Atlantis described in legends could refer to America.

Though the book jumps around a bit, being a compilation of several works, arguments are presented based on evidence of natural catastrophes (comet/great flood) that could possibly account for the similarities and differences between Atlantis and America.

If you are interested in ancient history, archaeology, or geology, this book is worth reading.  Many links to maps are included, although I would have preferred maps in the text for my convenience.

I received this book as a gift and enjoyed thinking about the ideas presented.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Vietnam-Era History: Legendary Bravery and Sacrifice

Legend reflects Eric Blehm's passion for true storytelling.  Research with primary sources and eyewitnesses adds detail to an inspiring story about one man's journey from orphan and troublemaker to selfless defender of his comrades.  This is a tribute to a life well lived.

Roy Benavidez was a Green Beret  who rescued a team on secret operations in Cambodia during the Vietnam War.  He and his comrades, like so many before and since, tested the limits of human endurance as they fought for each other's lives under impossible circumstances.  Roy Benavidez is an example of the American story--a poor migrant worker who persevered and went on to achieve great things because of his faith and the faith of those who raised him.

In 1980, new evidence--in the form of a man Roy thought had died in the operation--caused Roy Benevidez to be considered for, and ultimately awarded, the Medal of Honor.  

I received a free copy of Legend for my review from Blogging for Books.

Into the Mirror: Creative Fiction

Giuliani Faustini has crafted a story that is mystery, fantasy, and allegory all together. Pietro thinks he is merely a traveler, off to see the world.  He does not expect to find love, nor to save a city.  This story is full of twists and turns as interesting characters pull Pietro in different directions.  Pietro must decide what is true and what he will do about it.  There are souls at stake!

Although the story is confusing at times, the confusion is an important part of Pietro's journey.  Stick with the book to the end and you will not be disappointed.

I received a free copy of Into the Mirror for my honest review.  You can find it on Amazon.  Faustini has made his story available in both English and Italian.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Lessons from Ruth

This study of the book of Ruth is a gift to any woman in need of hope while going through a valley.  Ruth and Naomi certainly had their share of troubles!  Veteran women's ministry leader Sarah Jakes leads women through daily lessons consisting of:

  • the Scripture text,
  • a short discussion (just a few pages,)
  • suggestions for writing in a journal, and
  • a prayer.
This resource is easy to use and targeted to women.  Ruth's life shows how God cares for women, sees their pain,and gives them joy and ultimate victory.

I received Colliding with Destiny free from the publisher, Bethany House, for my honest review.  As a church librarian, I am placing my copy in the library.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Historical Fantasy Novelettes

The Legend of Lord Randall Castle series begins as a tale told by parents to their children at bedtime.  Beth Durkee's books tell an engaging story of druids, magic, faeries, and hobgoblins--as well as humans.  Anyone who enjoys the historical fantasy genre will enjoy the plot twists and surprises in these short novels.

I received free copies of Engaging Enchantment and Spellbound Souvenir for my review.  As a librarian and parent, I can recommend these stories for preteen readers and up.  They can also be read aloud to younger children, just as the stories were told as bedtime stories in the books.

Read Aloud to Your Children!

Everydad by Chin Ko is a book your child will want you to read again and again.  Chin's illustrations are delightful pictures of a real family living everyday life.  Each 2-page spread is a picture and a poem about things like playing together, trick-or-treating, and other things kids and parents do every day.

Everydad would make a great gift for a baby shower of for a young child's birthday.  Preschools and Sunday School classrooms may want to add this to their collections as well.

I received a free digital copy for my review.  As a parent of 6 and grandparent of 3, I heartily recommend Everydad by Chin Ko. Check out the website to order a copy.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Subversive Living: Take Back "Cool" From the Hipster Frauds

Subversive Living: Take Back "Cool" From the Hipster Frauds: What does almost all the insanity in the United States have in common?  The pursuit of a twisted, distorted version of "coolness"...

Clever Tale of a Dog and His Art

This delightful story has talking dogs, yet is intelligent rather than silly.  Piccolo Fortunato is an Italian greyhound--and an artist.  After Piccolo's father goes to America to seek fame and fortune and does not return, Piccolo follows to look for him.  He meets a famous human artist on the voyage to America and becomes his intern.

Will Piccolo find his father? Will he ever return to his sweet mother in Italy?  Can the famous American artist be trusted?  These questions and more will be answered in a well-written story for lovers of art and/or dogs.

I received a free copy of this book for my honest review.  It is available on Kindle and makes an enjoyable read.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Mothers are a Tough Bunch

L.J. Charleston has provided a dictionary/encyclopedia for understanding the great variety of mothers that exist today.  I am a mother of 6 and grandmother of 3 who has worked with many types of mothers in dance, sports, church nursery, Sunday School, and home school groups.  Having dealt with parents as a teacher and as a peer, I can say this guide is spot on!  Are you part of The Mommy Mafia?

Meet ER Mom, Dictator Mom, Drop-Off Mom (the one the rest of us hate for defying rules of carpool decency) and Olympic Mom, along with many others.  This is a fun book to read, as you will find yourself attaching names and faces to each of these mothers.  I know I did.  My own name goes in front of a few of the titles, to be honest.

Enjoy a lighthearted look at mothering.  Perhaps even notice some areas where you have gone a bit overboard and need to back up.

Check out the official book website and take part of your busy days to read.

Apologetics and Science

Although this book is written by an actual rocket scientist, it is accessible to the reader without a Ph.D. Dr.  Leslie Wickman shares her love of science and the stars with her readers.  She also explains why she sees no incompatibility between her faith in God and her scientific investigation of the universe.

Having some engineering training myself, I also never had problems reconciling faith and science.  Like Wickman, I believe something called "truth" exists and we can learn it.  We also believe all truth is God's truth, so seeking the truth will never lead us away from God--only reveal more of God to us.

If you lack the confidence of people like Dr. Wickman and myself, read this book.  She lays out the arguments for the existence of God and for a beginning and a Creator in ways understandable without a seminary degree.  At the same time, the information is not simplistic/watered down.  Dr. Wickman is a naturally gifted teacher and leads you through the arguments with patience and skill.

I received a free digital review copy of God of the Big Bang from Worthy Publishing.