Friday, July 31, 2009

What He Must Be

Are you prepared for that day when a young man sweeps your daughter off her feet?  What will you say when faced with the question of giving your daughter’s hand in marriage?  What does he need to be . . .if he wants to marry your daughter? 
Honestly, as a mommy, I’d rather not think (at all) about the day that any of my four children will approach a conversation on marriage.  I’d like to stick my head in the sand and pretend that day is a million years from now.
If you’re honest you’ll agree to feeling this way yourself.
The marriage of our daughters is a very important topic though.  It’s worth our time to evaluate our expectations for a future son-in-law and be in prayer that God will send the right man at the right time.
Voddie Baucham addresses how to do this in his book What He Must Be . . .if he wants to marry my daughter.  His book will provide a list of qualities that will allow you to determine if a man if worthy and capable of  leading and loving your daughter for the rest of her life.
This is more than just a parenting book though.  This is wisdom and instruction for men to step it up and be worthy of the wives they’ve pledged their love to.  What He Must Be . . . if he wants to marry my daughter is manly guidance to Dads to set the example for what their daughters should look for in a man.
Baucham holds to a biblical view, and not a cultural view.  He even follows that biblical view to the point of challenging his own beliefs of what a husband looks like.  His commitment to what the word says is unwavering and admirable.
What He Must Be . . .if he wants to marry my daughter is  encouragement and instruction for parents.  It is a push toward a biblically-defined family.  What He Must Be. . .if he wants to marry my daughter provides wisdom for finding your daughter a God-ordained husband, inspiration for fathers and a checklist for raising a godly son. 
I’ll probably never get this book back from my husband.   He has also already read and claimed this book (and even made a spot for it on his book shelf).
You can read an excerpt of ch. 1 here.
Order What He Must Be . . .if he wants to marry my daughter at Crossway
Voddie Baucham Jr. is the Pastor of Grace Family Baptist Church in Texas and he has a respected ministry supporting biblical manhood.  If this book impacts you, be sure to check out the author’s ministry site to listen to four of his powerful sermons.
Also be sure to check out other great offerings from Crossway at the Crossway blog.
Happy Reading!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Blue Like Play Dough

Photobucket Blue Like Play Dough by Tricia Goyer is a book about those important discoveries that occur in motherhood which shape us and mold us into something better.  With a transparent and honesttone, Tricia pours out of her heart the lessons she’s learned along the way.  With each growth experience she is adjusted and changed by the work God is doing within her to shape her into a form that pleases Him.  We could all benefit from her example of surrender and learn to become putty in God’s hand.

Tricia doesn’t hold back anything of her journey through motherhood.  I could relate to so much of it.  She shares her need for independence and how she learns to be vulnerable to God and wait when she want to rush in and rescue.  She confesses the struggle of sharing parenting with her husband.  Learning to appreciate a spouses differences rather than bending them to our desired shape is a challenge I could truly relate to.  Marriage isn’t always easy and parenting adds a whole new set of challenges. 

In chapter 5 of Blue Like Play Dough, Tricia shares her decision to homeschool.  As a homeschooling mom myself I can only imagine how hard this chapter was for her to write.  Homeschooling is a huge responsibility and there is this feeling that you are being evaluated by everyone around you.  As a homeschooling mom, I work very hard to mask the days of frustration because I don’t want to look incompetent or overwhelmed.  I don’t want to give a window for anyone to disagree with my choice or find fault in what I’ve chosen for my children.  Vulnerability is very hard for moms who homeschool because criticism is everywhere.  Tricia was brave enough to admit the overwhelming feeling that wash over a homeschooling mom at times.  She confesses the tendency to try too hard and she shares how she began to learn and teach through life and by questioning and observing.   She saw God’s faithfulness to be present in the good days and the bad and she grew closer to Him as a result. 

Tricia talks about junk from her past and shares how God can work through the “crumbs in our play dough”. 

From doubting herself to doubting God’s direction for her life, Tricia shares all of the twists and turns, pushes and pulls of her life.  She learns trust, the value and treasure of God’s word, His faithfulness, and His better plan for her life.  Readers will learn along with her while recognizing many of her feelings and fears as their own.

Just as she’s learning surrender to God’s molding touch on her life, she becomes aware of the stretching He is doing on her children.  She shares the struggle to let God form not just herself, but her children too.   

Blue Like Play Dough is brave, honest, candid, and spiritually uplifting.  It’s encouragement and understanding from someone who has been there and done that. 

You can read an excerpt of Blue Like Play Dough here.

Swing by Tricia’s Blog and watch the promo video she created with her kids.  I love when her daughter says there is only one problem with the book — “the play dough is orange”.  Too funny!

 Go here to order Blue Like Play Dough.

* I was given this product free to review on behalf of Random House, July 2009 

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Silver Sword

The Silver Sword was a truly engaging story with genuine history tangled into the plot. 
When a Professor of Medieval European History intrudes on  Kathleen O’Connor’s study time, she isn’t too thrilled.  However, his elaborate story of  an Irish princess and her final dying words captures Kathleen’s interest.  Her growing interest  quickly becomes a quest for validation of the story and her possible connection to it.
Since Cahira’s death, four women have been born with similar traits of piebald-ism and a fiery disposition.  With each woman’s story spread out by 200 years, Kathleen wonders if she might be the next one to carry the legacy of Cahira O’Connor.
The Silver Sword is the first book in The Heirs of Cahira O’Connor series and it centers around Anika of Prague.  Anika is the first decedent of Cahira’s in two hundred years to have the distinguishing appearance of piebald-ism.   Her story takes place in the fifteenth century and covers the Hussite Crusades.
The author, Angela Elwell Hunt, is truly committed to the historic element of the story and writes so well that you’d swear you had traveled through time.  Her descriptions are packed with authentic details that are truly wonderful.
I really enjoyed the story and the layout of the plot.  I’ll be looking for the rest of this series for sure.
As a bonus, I also learned a bit of factual information regarding John Hus, Baldasarre Cossa, and the life of a knight. 
Angela Elwell Hunt really studied her history when creating The Silver Sword.   Her hard work paid off and produced an excellent work of historic fiction. 
Next time you visit your book store, keep your eyes pealed for the series.  You’ll want to read them all.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Captain’s Bride

Enjoy engaging and affordable fiction
The Captain’s Bride by Lisa Tawn Bergren is book one in Northern Lights series.  Experience an epic saga of perseverance and passion, faith and fidelity in a sea adventure from the gentle hills of Bergen, Norway, to rocky coast of Camden, Maine.

My thoughts: 
The Captain’s Bride is a saga for sure.  Dynamic and complex characters are woven into the fabric of this story. 
At the beginning of the story we meet Elsa who is about to marry Peder, a sea captain, and travel with him to America.  Her younger sister, Tora, is a mess of a girl who is driven to have her own way.  Determined to make the voyage (against her parent’s wishes) Tora conspires to be a stowaway aboard the ship.  Her presence creates long term havoc.  On board are several interesting characters like the Soren and his pregnant wife, Kaatje, who simply want a fresh start and a solid marriage in the new land.  Karl is Peder’s best friend and (as far as he knows) about to be partner in the shipping business in America.  Karl also has a secret love for Elsa that he struggle to resist. 
The Captain’s Bride is drama on the high seas.  The characters are engaging an believable and the story is so full it can barely fit between the covers.  The Captain’s Bride is rich and involved and it will leave you thirsty for more.  The conclusion of the book is abrupt and you’ll be out buying the second book within minutes of closing the first.  The good news, at $5.99/ book it won’t break the bank to read them.  You’ll get your money’s worth too.
So grab a copy and sit back.  Embark on the tumultuous journey to America that rides waves of discovery, confronts hidden sin, and determines to persevere.

* I was given this product free to review on behalf of WaterBrook, July 2009 

The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn

Myles Parsons is just another inmate in Kenzie Thorn’s GED course until he kidnaps her, offering only feeble explanation- that he’s actually FBI Special Agent Myles Borden.  Terrified, Kenzie doesn’t want to believe his story of being undercover to protect her.  Moreover, she can’t believe that someone might really want her dead.
But just when Myles thinks he has her out of harm’s way, his plans start to fall apart.  He attempts to take Kenzie to a safe house- but the stubborn woman won’t go!  So together they must uncover the clues that will reveal a most shocking perpetrator.  All the while Myles tries to keep his distance from Kenzie . . .but finds himself falling in love.
My thoughts:
It was an honor to read Liz Johnson’s first novel.  The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn is full of mystery and romance.  I loved the spunk of Kenzie as she boldly refused to be protected in the safe house.  Only a woman as stubborn and courageous as Kenzie would refuse to obey an FBI agent!  Kenzie’s spunk coupled with Myles’ instigating sass make this a sparking romance that is a pleasure to read. The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn is a great read! 
I had the opportunity to interview the author, Liz Johnson.  First let me tell you a bit about her:
Liz Johnson grew up reading Christian fiction, and always dreamed of being a part of the publishing industry.  After graduating from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff with a degree in public relations, she set out to fulfill her dream.  In 2006 she got her wish when she accepted a publicity position at a major trade book publisher.  While working as a publicist in the industry, she decided to pursue her other dream- becoming an author.  Along the way to having her novel published, she completed the Christian Writers Guild apprentice course and wrote articles for several magazines.
Liz lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she enjoys theater, ice skating, volunteering in her church’s bookstore and making frequent trips to Arizona to dote on her nephew and three nieces.  She loves stories of true love with happy endings.  The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn is her first novel. 

Photobucket Thanks Liz for stopping by and answering some questions for my readers.  (My questions are in bold print and Liz’s responses are in italics).
Having a background in publishing, was it challenging to be on the other side of creating a novel?
I’m not sure it was challenging so much as bizarre.  I’m so used to the publishing process from inside the publisher, and it was quite strange watching the publishing process of my book from a relatively external position.  But I really enjoyed it.  It was fun to see how a different house produces a book.
The character, Myles, gets injured during the story but you’ve written it in a way that keeps him from seeming wimpy even when he’s vulnerable.  Where you concerned that his vulnerability would undermine his FBI tough-guy feel to the reader?
Oh, gosh.  I never thought about the idea that I could undermine his tough-guy feel.  Don’t know what that says about me as an author.  I suppose that I’ve always enjoyed books where tough guys get injured and have to deal with it.  I think they deal with injury so differently than other character types, and I love how Myles puts the pain aside for the good of his assignment and the woman he cares for.  Plus, it adds drama and gives Kenzie a chance to shine in her concern and care for him.
I agree.  I loved Myles even more because he let Kenzie help him.  It takes a big man to see he’s vulnerable and accept help.  I think it made him stronger in my mind.
Your characters are often saying prayers in the midst of tough situations.  Do you find that you pray in your mind often when things aren’t going according to plan?
I definately try to.  I find especially when I’m at work or writing that if a pitch letter, press release, or scene just won’t come together, I definately sit down and pray.  It helps m clear my mind of all other distractions and focus on why I’m doing what I’m doing- the goal is always to glorify God.  It’s become a habit as well, as I’ve definately learned some of the lessons about relying on God that Kenzie and Myles learn in the book.
What message do you hope readers will take away from The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn?
I hope readers are encouraged to rely on God even when friends and family let them down.  I hope that like Kenzie and Myles do in the book, readers will find hope in knowing that God is walking with them in hard times and that His eyes are on those that fear Him.
Do you have any plans for future books?
I recently finished my second romantic suspence novel, which isn’t under contract yet, but is currently in consideration with my editor.  It’s not a follow up to The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn, but it has some overlapping characters and is a rousing romp into the fictional Crescent City, Colorado.  Since finising that manuscript, I’ve been working on a proposal for a contemporary romance set in my hoe state of Arizona.  I’m really looking forward to seeing what happens with both of these stories.
Thanks again Liz for stopping by and including me in this great blog tour!
Be sure to look for The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn on your next visit to the book store. 
You can keep up with Liz’s adventures in writing at

* I was given this product free to review on behalf of the author, July 2009 

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Shushybye Books and CD Sets

Shushybye Books and CD Sets are created to encourage preschoolers to go to sleep quickly. With a television series, books, CDs, a radio show, clothing, and toys, Shushybye aims to make sleepy time a special time of day. 

The concept of Shushybye is built around a fantasyland where dreams are made. Snoozles, Dozie, and Zeez are the main characters who prepare the dreams and place them in dream boxes. Dream boxes are placed on a train and delivered to children as they sleep. Dreams can only be delivered to children who go to sleep in time for the delivery, so it's crucial that children obey their parents and go to sleep without a fight. 

I received two book and CD sets, titled Shushybye Sleepover Surprise and Close Your Eyes. I also received two CDs, titled Shushybye and Goodnight and Close Your Eyes featuring The Shushybye Dream Band. 

Shushybye is designed for preschoolers and is best suited for the younger crowd. The book and CD sets allow children to read along while listening to the narrator. A whistle is blown to indicate when to turn the pages. Glow-in-the-dark covers lend a fun detail to the books. The goal is for the books and CDs to be used throughout the day, not just at bedtime. You'll find several upbeat songs on the CDs that are intended to build an eagerness for bedtime throughout the day. Lullaby songs are more restful in sound, and they are placed toward the end of the CDs. This product is not designed solely for homeschoolers but for any preschooler in general. 

I like the colorful illustration style of Frank Caruso. The characters themselves are adorable. As for the CDs, the music is a mix of several genres that could be enjoyed by adults as well. Shushybye and Goodnight is my favorite of their songs. 

Personally, I wouldn't buy this product due to the emphasis on magic and fantasy. It wouldn't be a good fit for families who avoid wizards, magic, and fantasy. Think along the lines of Care Bears or Rainbow Brite. It's gently done but is still a little too much fantasy for my taste. If you aren't bothered by these elements and you are as desperate as I've been to get a preschooler to sleep, then you might give Shushybye a try. In that case, rest assured that the quality of the materials is very good. 

If you would like to learn more about this product, please visit

* I was given this product free to review on behalf of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July 2009 

The Smarter Preschooler: Unlocking Your Child's Intellectual Potential

What parent doesn't want to give their child every intellectual advantage? The challenge comes in trying to find just what it takes to build our little one's intelligence. The Smarter Preschooler: Unlocking Your Child's Intellectual Potential is a book that aspires to provide solid advice for raising a smarter preschool. 

The authors, Renee and Mike Mosiman, are very qualified in the fields of psychology and research. They share their combined knowledge regarding the intellectual needs of a preschooler, providing tons of research and evidence for the value of reading to, talking to, and playing with your preschooler. They suggest books, vocabulary, and toys that they believe will make the most impact. The book also tackles the issue of how much television is too much. In this book, you'll read about music and its influence on learning. You will also gain understanding of the nutritional and physical needs of your child. The authors conclude the book by laying out options for preschool learning. The book references many different teaching methods, both traditional and homeschool, without picking favorites. The authors try very hard to appeal to all parents. 

The first few chapters of The Smarter Preschooler have the feel of a child psychology textbook. I felt a little overwhelmed at the pace and amount of information being given. The rest of the book is much more approachable in its information, so keep reading. A light bulb went on when they addressed birth order and its affects on IQ. I was challenged to do better at one-on-one time with all of my children to give them the best start at life. The suggestions are very basic for most parents. You may be implementing many of the ideas already, but the explanations for why we should do them are profound. 

I thought The Smarter Preschooler was a very informative and encouraging look at the task of parenting preschoolers. I really enjoyed it, and I believe that parents of preschoolers will benefit from this educational parenting book. 

You can read more about this book at or purchase a copy of The Smarter Preschooler: Unlocking Your Child's Intellectual Potential for $11.66.

* I was given this product free to review on behalf of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July 2009