Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"Crimson Eve" by Brandilyn Collins

I liked Crimson Eve by Brandilyn Collins because there was excitement and a fight for survival right from the start. It dealt with consequences of sin and showed how our actions can have an impact on others. Carla, the main character, is pursued by a hit man hired by someone in her past and goes on the run. She has kept a lot of secrets but the truth comes out eventually. Fantastic book that I think women would especially enjoy. This was hard to put down.  This is the third book in her Kenner Lake series that I highly recommend.

(Karen's Review April 2009)
Please tell us: What categories of literature do you like? What are you reading now? Who are your top five favorite authors? Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

"Violet Dawn" by Brandilyn Collins

Violet Dawn by Brandilyn Collins is a double mystery! It has a murder mystery plot as well as a personal mystery plot. The author builds to a climax and then switches to another story line altogether and leaves the reader hanging. This pattern occurs throughout the book and kept me hanging on--kind of like a soap opera. It has both suspense and action that made me want to keep reading. I was hooked right from the start along with Leslie, the small town reporter looking for her big story. I recommend this to anyone who likes suspense or mysteries. 
(Karen's review April 2009)

Please tell us: What categories of literature do you like? What are you reading now? Who are your top five favorite authors? Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

"Cheer: Inside the Secret World of College Cheerleaders" by Kate Torgovnick

I'd give this book 10 stars if I could! Cheer: Inside the Secret World of College Cheerleaders is just an outstanding book! It tells the story of three cheerleading teams and what they have to go through. It made me really feel like I knew these people. It's a real page turner. I found myself cheering for them!! Superb job, Kate!!!

(Gerard's review 5/8/08)

"Pearl" by Lauraine Sneling

Pearl by Lauraine Sneling1930 story of teacher and hotel businesswoman. Teacher moves west and lives at hotel; teaches town’s children and falls in love with another boarder. All the workers at the hotel were prostitutes when it was a whorehouse and Ruby made it into a respectable hotel and promised her father she would take care of the girls.
 (Karen's review July 2004)

What are you reading now?  What categories of literature do you like?
Who are your top five favorite authors?  Have you read this one?  What did you think of it?

Mistaken Identity by Don and Susie Van Ryn and Newell, Colleen & Whitney Cerak

Mistaken Identity by Don and Susie Van Ryn and Newell, Colleen & Whitney Cerak is a fascinating nonfiction book about how the families of their two college daughters coped with the awful incident resulting in their identities being switched. The one daughter was killed in the accident while the other survived with extensive injuries. 

The parents of the one who was killed, Laura, thought the one in the hospital bed was their daughter and only found out after five weeks that she wasn't and that their daughter had really died. The parents of the one in the hospital, Whitney, were told she was killed in the accident and didn't know Whitney was actually alive until five weeks later.

Both were strong Christian families who relied on God to get them through and saw him provide for their needs.

Although I felt sadness for what the families went through, I was uplifted and encouraged in my own faith by all the scripture and their great Christian example. I'd say the moral of this is to go and make a positive ID yourself when you find out a family member was killed. Whitney's parents both just took the word of the coroner instead of checking out the body for themselves. 

I still don't really understand how Laura's parents didn't realize that it wasn't their daughter in that hospital bed all that time. Eventually, other visitors had doubts and when Whitney could communicate, she told them her name was Whitney.
(KAREN'S REVIEW:6/20/08)

WOW, what a book! I could go on and on about this book, but the main thing is both families' unwavering faith in the Lord. You will feel a wide range of emotions. Quick read, you get into it right away. I thank both families for sharing this story and their love of the Lord. Continued blessings from our Lord to all. Please read this awesome book, it will stay with you.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

"Love Dare" by Stephen Kendrick, Alex Kendrick

Love Dare is a handbook that I think would benefit any marriage.  After seeing the movie, "Fireproof" I was curious to check out the book that was used in the movie.  

It gives a scriptural basis for 40 practical things to do to strengthen your marriage.  The idea is to do one of the challenges each day and then of course continue to integrate them into your life.  Some I found to be hard, others easy and most we already do.  

I especially liked the 20 questions listed in the back to help me get to know my spouse better and assist me in discovering his needs.  I recommend this to any husband or wife. I think anyone could improve their marriage if they followed the suggestions in this book.  
Related Posts:
Fireproof and the Love Dare
Movie "Fireproof" and Dinner

(Karen's review 11/16/09)

Dogs of Bedlam Farm

I found Dogs of Bedlam Farm by Jon Katz to be a fun, enjoyable, quick read. If you love animals, you will love this book. It has dogs, sheep, a ram and donkeys. The best part of this book is the parts that deal with the dogs. I recommend it.
 (Gerard Review 4/5/08)

"Sworn to Silence" by Linda Castillo

 SPECIAL URGENT NEWSFLASH--CAN YOU HELP?: A friendly cat in Georgia is scheduled to be put down at the end of business June 30, 2010. See Sparkle's Hoping for a June Miracle post about it.

Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo is a gruesome thriller mystery about a woman with Amish background  Chief of police of Painters Mills, Ohio finally getting to the bottom of the rape/murders that have been going on for years by a serial killer with a little romance thrown in.  It has an unusual twist that I didn’t expect and the book builds tension along the way enticing me to stay up late to finish it.  The story line was super but because of the language and the horrific details of the torture that took place, I gave it four stars instead of five.  If you like murder mysteries and don‘t mind gory details, I recommend this one!
--Karen's review 7/25/09)

"A Real Page Turner--You Will Never guess" (50 plus stars)
I really enjoyed Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo a lot.  The story flows and you never get bored with it.  The last 60 pages or so I dare you to stop and put it down!  You will not be able to!!  I look forward to her next book.
(Gerard's review 729/09)

What are you reading now?

Monday, June 28, 2010

"Born to Play--My Life In The Game" by Dustin Pedroia with Edward J. Delaney

He’s My Guy!  Being a fanatical Red Sox fan and Dustin being my favorite player made Born to Play--My Life In The Game a no-brainer for me to read.  That being said, I really enjoyed this book a lot!   

Born to Play reads like he plays--all out all the time.  There is lots of inside information about him and how he came to be the Most Valuable Player of the American League.  The two stories about Manny are priceless.  Just a super read!  Let’s go Red Sox!!  Get Well soon, Dustin!!  The Sox need you and we miss seeing #15 out on the diamond!
(Gerard's review)

Since Dustin Pedroia is Gerard's favorite player and he keeps saying how little the guy is, just like him, I felt I wanted to read Born To Play too.  This would be inspirational for short guys wanting to go pro in sports.  He always played hard and gave his all--a good lesson for anyone.  This is all about his love for the game of baseball and how his career developed.  I especially liked the insight into what rookies go through.
(Karen's review 7/9/10)

What are you reading now?

"Stolen Innocence" by Elissa Wall

A Remarkable Journey (10 Stars)

To give Stolen Innocence by Elissa Wall 5 stars does this book an injustice! It's a 10 Plus!! It is the true story of Elissa Wall, who grew up in the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints ("FLDS") and was taught to believe all she was told. You will laugh and recoil in anger at what she goes through. Then she finds the courage to go to court and face the "Prophet." 

You are a remarkable woman, Elissa! Thanks for sharing your story. Everyone will enjoy this book. It reads like fiction, but you know it's not. I hated to see it end. It's just incredible!
(Gerard's Review 8/18/08)

A Fascinating and Shocking Story!

This was a long story of how Elissa grew up in the FLDS community, how her life was controlled by a man called "The Prophet" whom she was taught to believe spoke for God and how she eventually broke free. She was forced to marry at age 14 against her will, was raped and finally left the community and brought charges against "The Prophet." This book gives the reader an inside look into the workings of a polygamous cult and shows how difficult it is for people to leave. It is shocking that this really happened in America in recent times.
(Karen's review 8/18/08)

A Beach Tail by Karen Lynn Williams

This children's book, A Beach Tail by Karen Lynn Williams, tells a story about a boy named Gregory who went to the beach with his dad.  He drew in the sand and obeyed his father.  The story is nicely told with large illustrations. 

Gerard and I both read this one because it is so short and quick.  As children's books go, I wasn't much impressed with this one but Gerard liked it.  Guess you'll have to read it for yourself to see who you agree with. 

Sunday, June 27, 2010

"Gang Leader For A Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes To The Streets"

Gang Leader For A Day by Sudhir Venkatesh is just awesome!! Sudhir tells the story of J.T., a Chicago gang leader of the BK's, the project that they run and the people in the projects that their lives are affected by. It's just so fascinating!! You will get hooked on page 1 and will find it hard to put it down. I hated to see it end. This is a must read book for sure.

Gang Leader For a Day by Sudhir Venkatesch is a fascinating book about a sociology student doing research in a low-income project in Chicago to find out how it feels to be black and poor and how they survive. He started with a questionnaire, but after getting laughed at and challenged to hang out with the people and see how things are, he abandons his questionnaires and hangs out with a gang for several years. This is non-fiction, based on actual experiences of the author who also talked to others in the community to find out their view of the gang and how they live. The funniest part was when J.T., the gang leader let the author be the gang leader for a day so he would find it wasn't at all as easy as he thought and his respect and admiration for J.T. increased. It was surprising to see that the gang was actually a well-run drug business. It's primary purpose was selling cocaine and keeping "peace" in the neighborhood, not fighting with other gangs or stirring up trouble. Whenever there was a fight or someone would get hurt, no one ever called the cops. They'd call on the gang members for help instead. No ambulance would go to the projects.

It gives insight into the role gangs play in the neighborhood, how community leaders cooperate with the gangs, how hopeless some peoples' lives can be and the ineffectiveness of the police and government agencies. I recommend it to anyone who wants to see how life in the low-income projects is, at least in some places. Very educational and a good read!

 (Karen's Review 4/24/08: Fascinating, Educational, great insight)

"How To Speak Cat" by Sarah Whitehead

How To Speak Cat by Sarah Whitehead is a colorful, easy-to-read book with lots of good information on how to get along with cats including some games to play with them and some things you can teach them with simple step-by-step instructions.  Great for kids to learn how to treat and understand cats.
(Karen's review 11/10/09)

"House Rules" by Jodi Picoult

House Rules by Jodi Picoult is outstanding!  It’s the story of Jacob Hunt, who has Asperger’s.  He is accused of murdering his tutor, Jess.  The writing is outstanding to say the least.  You get into it right away and you really get to care about the characters in the book.  This book is actually laugh out loud funny some of the time.  I highly recommend you read House Rules.  It will make my top 5 books of the year easily and I read a lot!
(Gerard's Review 6/22/10)

House Rules by Jodi Picoult is about Jacob, an 18 yr. old boy who has Asperger’s that is charged with murdering his social skills tutor.  He was obsessed with watching “Crime Busters” to the point where he would take notes on every episode, even those he already saw.

I really liked this book a lot because it was funny and interesting.  The trial really cracked me up.  I also liked when the author outlined Jacob’s thought process.  He thought cats must have Asperger’s too because they are very smart like him and also sometimes just want to be alone like him.  The defense attorney was funny too--not being a criminal lawyer made his character humorous. 

Some books I have to make myself finish but this one I looked forward to reading and found it hard to put down.  I think it’s one of Jodi’s best.
(Karen's Review 6/19/10)

See another review:  Debra's Book Cafe

"Totally Fun Things To Do With Your Cat" by Maxine Rock

Totally Fun Things to Do With Your Cat (Play with Your Pet) is a wonderful book for any cat owner. It's ideal for children to learn positive ways of playing with their cat. Large print and easy reading adds to the fun of this book! It gives many ideas of fun things to do with your cat and some tips for better communication.  It mentions that trust is very important so we shouldn't do anything to scare the cat, even though it may be fun. Additionally, there are tid-bits of interesting information about cats.  It contains instructions for making some cat items instead of spending a lot of money on purchasing them from the store, for example a cat porch by a window and scratching post.

(Karen's review 4/4/08)

"The Associate" by John Grisham

The Associate by John Grisham is definitely a page-turner that kept my interest all through but was a bit of a let down in the end.  Kyle, a first-year associate at a big New York law firm was being blackmailed to steal confidential information from the firm he worked for and struggled to find a way out.  It demonstrates how one's past can come back to haunt them.  I enjoyed this book even though the story line seemed far-fetched to me and there were several loose ends.  I recommend this to anyone who likes some suspense and enjoys reading about lawyers.  Since I work for a law firm, perhaps that's why I could relate to the main character and got into this book.  I found it to be entertaining.
(Karen's review 11/17/10)

A Good Book, BUT!  (20 stars)
This book is Grisham doing what he does best--telling a story about a lawyer who has an incident in his past and unsavory people who try to use that against him to get trade secrets.  The writing is superb and the story moves along very well.  It gets off to a great start and pulled me in right away.  The ending though left me at loose ends.  I didn't like it but when you read it, you can form your own opinion.  Other than the ending, it's very good!

(Gerard's Review 11/10/09)

"Abby Finds A Good Home--From Death Row To Adoption" by Abby and Karen Zemek

Abby Finds A Good Home--From Death Row To Adoption by Abby & Karen Zemek is an AWESOME book!  I received this book for an early Father's Day gift from our pets--what a surprise!  I am thrilled!!  This book tells the story of Abby's (our dog) first year with us.  The year went by very fast and we sure have been through a lot!  It's a fast read.  Anybody of any age would enjoy it very much if they like dogs. 
--Gerard's review 6/18/10 (I may be a bit partial)

For more about how to make a book on Blurb and why I got my present early, check out Early Father's Day Gift Was A Hit--A Blurb Book.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

"Down River" by John Hart

Down River by John Hart is about a rich family torn apart by family secrets and betrayal.  It is about choices, anger, friendship, forgiveness and murder which makes for a very interesting read.  This book got my interest right from the start and kept it all along the way.  I found myself asking "why" quite a bit.  

The main character, Adam, is acquitted after being falsely accused of murder but moves to New York City to put the past behind him and get away from those who still believe he did it, including his father.  After five years, he returns home to try to make things right with his father and help out a friend, but finds his friend dead and goes on a mission to find out who did it.  He also tries to pick up his romantic relationship with Robin, a former cop who is now a detective.  There are a lot of complications and he discovers more truth than he bargained for.  

I liked this book even though near the end I felt completely baffled and confused.  I recommend it to anyone who likes not only a “who done it” but also a “why did they do it.”
(Karen's review 6/18/10)

"The Lucky One" by Nicholas Sparks

The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks is an interesting romance involving a single mom who took care of her elderly mother and helped her with the kennel, and a vet who felt the photograph he found of her in Iraq brought him luck so wanted to find her because he felt he owed her.  He walked across the country with his dog to find her and had a little run-in with her ex who happened to be the Sheriff.  He also had a dog who traveled with him which added to the interest of the story for me.  This was a good read if you’re looking for a light family type story with some suspense tossed in.  I liked it!

(Karen's review 10/25/09)

Our Boys: A Perfect Season On The Plains With The Smith Center Redmen by Joe Drape

I really enjoyed Our Boys: A Perfect Season On The Plains With The Smith Center Redmen by Joe Drape.  It is about the Smith Center Redmen led by their coach, Roger Barta.  It is located in a small town of Kansas, but this book is so much more.  You see how the whole town gets behind "Our Boys" and you get to know the players and the assistant coaches as well.  You will get caught up in this book right from the start and feel the excitement all the way to the end!  It's a good read and I recommend it.
(Gerard's review 10/8/09)

"The Neighbor" by Lisa Gardner

I would think The Neighbor by Lisa Gardner is more of a woman's book, but I read it and enjoyed it.  It's a fiction story about a woman who disappears one night, all signs point to foul play and to her husband.  This book is a real page turner!  The characters are very believable.  I have to admit, the ending surprised me very much!  I highly recommend you read this book.

(Gerard's review 9/23/09)

"Big Little Life" by Dean Koontz

First off, this is a MUST READ for all dog lovers.  Big Little Life is a true story of the author, Dean Koontz, who gets a C.C.I. dog by the name of Trixie.  You will know what kind of special dog these are when you read the book.  you will fall in love with Trixie and also learn things about Dean Koontz that you did not know.  The book moves pretty fast and I found it very entertaining.  Enjoy!

(Gerard's review 9/21/09)

Life's That Way by Jim Beaver

Before I get started on my review, please pray for Jim Beaver and his daughter, Maddie.  Life's That Way by Jim Beaver is probably the most emotional book that you will ever read.  Do not expect to just breeze through it because it is too emotional and gut wrenching.  It’s also a fantastic and tender love story.  There are so many reasons to read this book. 

This book is a collection of emails that Jim sent to family and friends when his wife, Cecily, was diagnosed with lung cancer.  It got turned into a book!  You will feel so many emotions while you read this book.  Anyone will be able to relate to what Jim went through and is still going through.  You will remember this book long after you finish reading it.  I highly recommend you read Life's That Way!

(Gerard's review 10/15/09)

"New Tricks" by David Rosenfelt

New Tricks by David Rosenfelt is a murder mystery that is a good fun read.  It goes fast, I got into it right away and it has an unbelievable ending.  What more can you ask for?  I recommend you read this book.  I give it 7 stars.

(Gerard's review 8/23/09)

"The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch is a popular book full of good advice for living written by a terminally ill cancer patient, a husband of 8 years and father to three young children.  Randy Pausch was a college professor who lived a full life and had an optimistic attitude.  He gives lots of tips that parents could find useful.  The book has lots of good advice in it and I highly recommend it.  The actual “last Lecture” can be viewed at
(Karen's review 8/7/09)

"The Reluctant Cowgirl" by Christine Lynxwile

The Reluctant Cowgirl by Christine Lynxwile is a story about following one’s dreams as well as romance.   

Basically the cowgirl leaves home at 18 pursuing a career on Broadway and returns seven years later to help take care of her family’s ranch. This is a Christian Romance that isn’t completely like a fairy tale as most.  My favorite part was when the little girl directed her dad and Crystal acting out “Sleeping Beauty” in the barn.  Although the ending is predictable, I liked it because there is enough tension and reality to keep things interesting.    

The Reluctant Cowgirl addresses grieving, letting go of the past, making tough choices, love of family, and God’s love.  
(Karen's review 8/5/09)

"Life on the Refrigerator Door" by Alice Kuipers

Life on the Refrigerator Door by Alice Kuipers is a very quick read that reminds us that actually spending time with our loved ones is important because life truly is short, shorter than we expect sometimes.  It is about a mother and daughter communicating with notes on the refrigerator because both are too busy to actually make time for each other.  I liked this book okay for a light read.
(Karen's review 7/28/09)

Old Dogs Are The Best Dogs by Gene Weingarten

I LOVED OLD DOGS ARE THE BEST DOGS by Gene Weingarten!  If you have a dog, thinking of getting a dog, or unfortunately, just lost your dog, read this book!  It’s wonderful!  The pictures alone are enough for you to get this book.  They are fantastic and in the stories about each dog, you can just feel the love the owners have for their dogs!  I’m so glad I read this book and you will be too!  (I give it 138 stars, one for each page!)
(Gerard's review 9/30/09) 

Spooner by Pete Dexter

Spooner by Pete Dexter is a novel about a boy named Spooner.  I especially enjoyed the early part of his life through his high school years.  This book hops around a bit after that, but overall, it’s quite a remarkable fiction story!  The other characters in the book are very interesting for the most part.  I give it 10 stars!
(Gerard's review 9/29/09)

"Angel Dogs" by Allen and Linda Anderson

Angel Dogs by Allen and Linda Anderson is a fascinating non-fiction book of amazing stories about dogs from different people.  One of the most uplifting and fun stories was from a family sharing about how they celebrate “Dog Day.”  All day, they focus on their dogs and make it a very fun day for the whole family.  I thought this was a wonderful idea!  The stories range from how people’s dogs brought joy to their lives to amazing things they did to revisiting their owners after they died both in dreams and in signs and one even appeared to wake his owner up when he fell asleep on guard duty to save his career!  It certainly is comforting for any dog owner in that it gives us hope of seeing our pets again who have crossed over the Rainbow Bridge.  Who knows?  Read it for yourself and you’ll see what I mean.
(Karen's review 8/26/09)

"Raining Cats and Dogs" by Laurien Berenson

Raining Cats and Dogs by Laurien Berenson is a murder mystery with some dog and cat stories tossed in which added some humor.  The main character has five poodles and a neighbor who has a bunch of cats.  Her private life relating to her neighbor was the humorous part of the book.  She and her poodle went to a dog obedience class which invited her to join them on their visit to the nursing home.  Although they weren't therapy dogs exactly, many of the residents enjoyed seeing the dogs. I was interested in this aspect of the book because it's something I would like to do with Abby some day.  

The murder was committed while they were at the nursing home and the Poodle owner is the one who just started her own informal investigation and discovered who did it.  The highlight of the book for me was the cat lover lady who didn't like dogs but tolerated the poodle during the visits at the nursing home. 

I liked it overall, but it was very slow moving.  This was one I had to plow my way through.

(Karen's review 9/17/09)

"The Siege" by Stephen White

The Siege by Stephen White is about a terrorist plot on the Yale campus. The first few pages set the tone for the book and got my attention. Then I just kept turning pages. The Siege is a novel but reads like a newspaper story. I enjoyed it a lot. I connected with the characters and cared what happened to them.
(Gerard's review 9/9/09)

Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI 1933-34

Public Enemies:  America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI 1933-34 by Bryan Burrough and Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of US Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan are so far tie for my number 1 books of the year.  This book is about the gangster era of the early 30s featuring Pretty Boy Floyd, Baby Face Nelson, Bonnie and Clyde, John Dillinger and a few more.  The stories about these people are so fascinating that it made me want to keep reading.  A ton of research went into making this book come alive.  I really, really enjoyed this book and plan to see the movie based on it one day.  I think this book would appeal more to men than women though--a great read!

(Gerard's review 9/3/09)

"Heart of the Game" by S. I. Price

"Heart of the Game" tells the true story of Mike Coolbaugh, who spent many years in the minors trying to make the majors.  When he eventually gave up on that dream and decided to coach, he was hit by a foul ball and died instantly.  What lead up to that and the person who hit the ball is the story.  I will not soon forget this story!
(Gerard's review 7/23/09)

"The Courage To Survive" by Dennis J. Kucinich

The Courage To Survive is enlightening and very interesting.  Even though I am not very interested in politics or political figures, I thoroughly enjoyed this autobiography by Dennis Kucinich, former Mayor of Cleveland. It is a fast read because it's so well written and fascinating. He shares how his family lived in poverty and struggled along. He had health problems but still had a desire to help other people. Parts were sad while other parts were cute and humorous. It gave me insight into how the poor live and a new respect for Dennis Kucinich.
(Karen's review 4/4/08)

The Bottom Of The Ninth by Michael Shapiro

A Grand Slam Homerun!
The Bottom Of The Ninth is a wonderful book.  It tells the story of a group of men who tried and failed to start a new league called the Continental League to rival the American and National Leagues which was news to me.  It tells the story of Casey Stengel and goes in-depth on the 1960 World Series between Pittsburgh and New York.  The Bottom Of The Ninth is a well-written fast-paced book that includes fascinating behind the scenes information.  Any baseball fan will love this book!  Good job, Mr. Shapiro.  Lots of research went into this.
(Gerard's review 7/14/09)

"First Family" by David Baldacci

I know David Baldacci Has written a ton of books but this was the first of his that I read. First Family was pretty good but I thought it had a bit too many story lines. I didn't care for the ending, but the majority of it was very good. I cared about the characters and the main plot was well written and kept me turning pages. From now on I'll be looking for new books by him and maybe, probably read another one by him.

(Gerard's review 7/6/09)

"Still Growing" by Kirk Cameron

I liked reading Still Growing by Kirk Cameron because I liked him on the sit com, "Growing Pains," and also know he is a Christian.  I was curious to find out more about his personal life. I was surprised to find out he had an atheist belief through is teens until he became a believer at age 19.  

In his autobiography he shares how he got into acting, how he was used to having anything he wanted, how he began to ask the questions about life, how his beliefs changed and how they affected his career and decisions. 

I found it interesting that he is one of few actors who has only been married once to an actress and has six children and has been married 17 years as of when the book was written.  It was so refreshing to read about his love for his wife and family. 

Another thing that I found very interesting was the fact that after he married, he vowed he would not kiss any other woman, even if acting.  This has been something I've wondered about myself, how actors and actresses who are married can take those parts where they kiss in the shows.  Kirk shared that when he agreed to do a movie produced by the creators of "Facing the Giants" that these producers respected this and for the big kiss at the end, let Kirk's real wife step in and did a silhouette shot. 

An Appendix is included as well sharing some about his religious beliefs and books he highly recommends to the reader.  I liked Kirk Cameron before reading his autobiography and after reading it, I even have more respect for him.  His websites are: and the Way of the Master ministry:

For a review of the movie, see my other blog:  Fireproof and the Love Dare.

The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University by Kevin Roose

The Unlikely Disciple is about a college student from Brown University going "under cover" to see what evangelicals were really like at Liberty University. He pretended to be a Christian in order to experience a semester at a very conservative Christian University and write about it. Being a Christian, I was interested in seeing his perspective on things and of course was hoping he would be converted along the way. Issues addressed in the book included classes, dorm life, dating, rules, homosexuality, Church, witnessing, judging. I did not get the impression that he was knocking the school. I think college students or people who are curious as to what Liberty University is like would enjoy this book.
(Karen's review 6/16/09)

An Inside Look At Liberty College (50 stars)
What an awesome book this is! It tells the story of Kevin Roose who spent a year at Liberty University, an Evangelical Christian college. He covers all the bases. There are a lot of funny moments in this book, but what you believe will also be challenged in this book. Kevin says it all out and you may agree or disagree with his opinion. That's what is so good about this book. You will also meet his fellow classmates and learn about their beliefs too.

I really enjoyed this book a lot! No matter your religious belief, I think you will enjoy this book as well and get something out of it!! Super job, Kevin, thanks for sharing your experience.
(Gerard's review 6/8/10)

"My Sister's Keeper" by Jodi Picoult

My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult is a story of a family coping with a daughter who has Cancer and the sister who is destined to be the donor for her.  It also has an interesting subplot of romance between the lawyer Anna hires and the lady appointed to make a recommendation to the court as to what she thinks is in Anna’s best interest.  This would be a great book for a book club to discuss.  It’s about feelings, ethics, motivations and relationships.  It kept my interest all the way through and as usual in Picoult’s books, has a surprise ending.

(Karen's review 8/14/09)

How To Speak Dog by Sarah Whitehead

How To Speak Dog by Sarah Whitehead is very informative and practical for learning about dogs and how to train them.  It is geared to kids but I liked it too because it's easy to read and very attractive with lots of colored pages and pictures.  It gives step-by-step instructions for teaching dogs specific commands and  checklists to evaluate if the dog has mastered the trick.  It also includes some game suggestions for playing with your dog.  I give it 4 paws up!
(Karen's review 7/2/09)

"The Ultimate Cat Lover: The Best Experts' Advice For A Happy, Healthy Cat" by Marty Becker

The Ultimate Cat Lover was a delight to read!  It had many short stories that were by different people about their experiences with their cat that were entertaining and amazing.  The full-page color pictures of the cats interspersed in small sections throughout the book gives the reader a nice little break between the stories so it doesn't get monotonous and 29 pages are filled with expert advice about all kinds of cat related issues with recommended websites and other resources listed for further information.  My favorite story was about the homeless man with his cat.  I recommend this book to every cat owner!
Some of the recommended websites are: (pictures of the pet rescue of New Orleans after the hurricane); and (both these have advice on how to prevent loss or find a runaway pet).  A foundation that is an identification system for pets in any emergency, such as lost, house fire, car accident, natural disaster, travel emergencies, can be reached at 1-800-HELP-4-PETS.
(Karen's Review 6/5/10)

The Last Child by John Hart

The Last Child by John Hart had my attention all the way through.  It's a novel about Johnny, a very brave 13-yr-old boy who conducts his own private investigation when his twin sister turns up missing.  With his help, Detective Hunt eventually finds her and figures out what happened as well as solving the disappearance of another missing girl.  I liked this book because the ending caught me by surprise and I was right there trying to figure out what happened along with the detective.  I felt bad for Johnny and was pulling for him and his mom throughout the book.  His faith in God was shattered, but restored in the end.  This book deals with abuse, law enforcement issues, friendship and dealing with grief.
Karen's Review (5/22/10)

One of the Best Books I’ll Read This Year!

The Last Child by John Hart is fiction.  It’s about Johnny Merrimon whose twin sister was abducted.  Johnny thinks he can find her and then their family will go back to being together again.  I really liked this book.  All the characters are very believable as is the story line.  I did not see the ending coming at all!  The Last Child rocks!  It’s a can’t put down thriller!
(Gerard's Review 5/7/10)

Friday, June 25, 2010

"Donovan's Daughter" by Lori Wick

Donovan's Daughter is a Christian romance set in the 1800s which is the last in the Californians series by Lori Wick.  I hadn't read the previous books but this one is good enough to stand on its own.  Marcail's dream was to be a school teacher in her own classroom.  She moved to Willits on her own to accept her first teaching position. One grandmother of a bratty boy in her class that sat on the school board and ran the town became the "thorn in her side." 

When Marcail's reputation was at stake, Alex, the town doctor who was falling in love with her came to her aid.  All through the book is a Christian theme of sharing the gospel with the people in this town and her relationship with Alex developing into a real marriage.

As usual in Christian fiction, everything turns out perfect in the end.  I enjoyed this book which showed dependence on God throughout and that communication is key in developing trust in a relationship.  It is a light, quick read that has the predictable happy ending.
(Karen's review 7/29/08)

"Change of Heart" by Jodi Picoult

Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult moved much slower than the others I read by her. I was a bit disappointed in this one. It was very philosophical about Shay, a convicted murderer, sentenced to death. The priest who was his spiritual adviser while he was on death row was a member of the jury that found him guilty. His only concern while on death row was that he be able to donate his heart to the victim's sister once he heard she needed a heart transplant. It was a strange book with religious undercurrents and far out "miracles." I had to really work my way through this one, but it did get better near the end and had a "happy ending," well, sort of. It was a great finish! No peeking!!!

I have read better by Mrs. Picoult but this was good enough for me. A real page turner with interesting characters. It kept me guessing all the way to the end and speaking of the ending, a real good one!! It left me wanting more!!! I would recommend you read this book.

A Bride For Donnigan (Women of the West #7) by Janette Oke

I liked A Bride For Donnigan by Janette Oke because both characters were well developed and the plot was unusual about man out west and two of his friends ordering brides from overseas. Three women were matched up with the three men, sight unseen. When the woman arrived, they married right away. It was a fun and interesting read, and revealed the adjustments that were involved in making the marriages work. One did not. Donnigan felt a strong responsibility to teach his children and prepare them for life after death, but had to search the scriptures himself to find out about God and how to get to heaven because there was no church near by. It was a very enjoyable read!
(Karen's review May 2, 2008)

Perfect Match by Jodi Picoult

Perfect Match by Jodi Picoult is an excellent book about a parent taking the law into her own hands and the devastating consequences. Nina, a prosecutor of child molesters, finds out first-hand what parents go through when it happens to her own 5-yr.-old boy, Nathaniel and refuses to trust the court system to administer justice because she is so familiar with how things usually go. This novel is about love, justice, right and wrong, and poses the question, "Just how well do we really know ourselves"?

The story is told from the perspective of the mother, the father and the little boy. I particularly enjoyed how the author let the reader inside the boy's head to know what he was thinking and his take on things. I found myself sympathizing more for the victim than for the main character.

I think any parent will be drawn into this book very quickly and won't be able to put it down! It has some surprising twists and turns as well as a shocking ending which makes for a great story but really makes one think about the ramifications! The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars is because I disagreed with the ending. Read it and judge for yourself. Turns out Caleb was Nina's hero.

(Karen's review 4/12/08)

Other Reviews On this Book:  Reading Without Restraint

Paws of Wisdom by Sophia Steryo-Bartmus

I enjoyed it, was uplifting.
Paws of Wisdom by Sophia Steryo-Bartmus is a delightful and uplifting book about the author's beautiful dog, Bunny, who suffered from Addison's disease but was very loved. The author shares lessons she learned from her special dog and matches them up with wise sayings or scripture. Each chapter is a new lesson and is followed by cute advice from Bunny as well as some checklists to help the reader apply the lesson. It's a cool book. Helpful information about Addison's disease and general dog care is given in Appendix 1 and 2 at the end of the book.
(Karen's review 5/1/08)

"At First Sight" by Nicholas Sparks

At First Sight by Nicholas Sparks is a romance between Jeremy, a successful New York magazine columnist, who falls in love with Lexie, a country girl, and moves to her neck of the woods away from the city. The author delves into the dynamics of friendship, commitment, marriage, pregnancy and fatherhood. It gave insights into the adjustments involved in entering and maintaining a serious relationship by centering on Jeremy's and Lexie's feelings as their relationship progressed. The ending surprised me so I'd say it is a good book and recommend it to anyone who likes romance. 
(Karen's Review 8/18/08)

"The Road" by Cormac McCarthey

This is not a beach book or a chick lit book.  You need to really use your brain on this one.  It's an interesting book about a dad and son going across a land after a major attack with nothing out there and how they survive.  I describe this as a thinking person book.  It goes quick. (Gerard's Review 8/13/08)

"The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls

The Glass Castle was a very interesting but also disturbing memoir about a very strange mother and an alcoholic father raising a family of four and barely scraping by needlessly. Jeannette tells about her childhood from a child's point of view and does an excellent job of communicating the feelings she had towards her parents and their situation. Her dad was a very smart man, but drunk a lot which caused him to have difficulty holding a job and neglected his children. He'd talk about big plans, but did little in handling everyday problems.

The mother was selfish, thinking mostly of just herself, choosing to live in poverty instead of selling land she inherited. She'd rather see her children go without food that get a job. Her priorities were all mixed up.

This was a sad book from the standpoint of the parents being so pathetic. It seemed as though the kids had more sense than they did. Reading her story made me even more grateful for the parents I had and I couldn't help but think that could have very well have been the life my foster sisters and brother may have had if my parents hadn't taken them in. It is disturbing to me that kids actually live in conditions such as in this book.

The author shares many unusual experiences which made for a very interesting book.

(Karen's review 8/10/08)

"Crazy Good: The True Story Of Dan Patch" by Charles Leerhsen

I give Crazy Good:  The True Story Of Dan Patch by Charles Leerhsen 5 stars!  This story takes place in the late 1800s, early 1900s.  You will fall in love with the horse like all of America did!  He was adored wherever he went and broke many records.  I wish I could have seen this horse.  I hope to see a movie based on this book.  It would be a good one!

"Touching Spirit Bear" by Ben Mikaelsen

Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen is about an angry kid with an alcoholic father named Cole who is abused and beats up a kid named Peter. Cole has to live on an Alaskan island by himself as part of Circle Justice. He changes with some wise help along with this experience on the island. I got into Touching Spirit Bear from the beginning! It's a page turner with a somewhat predictable ending, but a good read!" (GERARD'S REVIEW 8/7/08)

Touching Spirit Bear is an excellent story about Cole, an angry abused boy, who was mad at the world and his personal journey of dealing with his anger and becoming a better person through Circle Justice or Restoration Justice.  He beat up Peter to the point of causing him permanent harm and never took any responsibility for his actions until he faced death and began questioning his life.  This is a story about helping others and how the Circle Justice system works which Native Americans practiced for years. 
The idea is to restore the criminal to become a good citizen and not just punish them.  Instead of jail or a detention center, Cole was banished to live for a year on an island in Alaska alone.  At the end of the year, the Circle Justice group, made up of all those involved, would meet again and determine if he should go to jail or not.  Cole had a traumatic experience while on the island and after just three days was hospitalized after being mauled by a spirit bear.  After his rehabilitation he went back.  Peter tried committing suicide twice and Cole learned much while on the island, including how many mistakes he made and wanted to make things right if he could. 
I really liked Touching Spirit Bear a lot and had trouble putting it down.  I was anxious to see what would happen next.  There is no boring part in it.  There are many themes running through this book such as abuse, justice, survival, anger, forgiveness, healing.
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