Friday, September 19, 2014

Review: Messy Beautiful Love: Hope and Redemption for Real-Life Marriages By Darlene Schacht

  • File Size: 954 KB
  • Print Length: 211 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1400206200
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (September 16, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00I5QX60W

Book Description

Love gets messy.

Financial problems, sickness, aging parents, a chronically unhappy spouse . . . trials will inevitably come along to threaten your marriage. No matter how long you've been married or how strong your relationship is, sooner or later you are going to have a mess to clean up.

Messy Beautiful Love is about cleaning up messes God's way, exchanging our ideas for his, and being prepared for both the best and the worst that marriage has to offer.

Perhaps you've picked up this book because your marriage is messy already-now is the time to make a change. If your marriage is tidy, thank God-there is no better time to prepare for the future.

Married life is never straightforward or simple for long. But the reality is this: when you surrender your relationship to God; when you lay your marriage at his feet; when you finally cede control; then and only then will you experience the blessing of marriage as he intended-this is the blessing of obedience.

Messy Beautiful Love is an invitation to that obedience. An invitation to surrender. The cynical world says marriages don't last. God knows better. Tune out the world and tune in to him. When you do that, a beautiful marriage is not only possible-it's inevitable. That's something to be excited about.

About the Author

Darlene Schacht is the original founder of Christian Women Online Magazine and The Internet Café Devotions and writes the popular blog Time-Warp Wife. She is coauthor of Candace Cameron Bure’s New York Time’s best-selling book, Reshaping It All: Motivation for Physical and Spiritual Fitness. Darlene has been married to Michael Schacht for more than 25 years. They have four children.

My Review

I follow Darlene Schacht's blog, the Time-Warp Wife, as well as follow her on Facebook. I find her views on Christian marriage to be both informative, challenging, motivating and uplifting. I had been looking forward to her latest book, Messy Beautiful Love.

As Courtney Joseph explains in the Foreward: Loving our husbands through the hard times, through the valleys, and when they are most unlovable, reveals the gospel in our lives. It shows we are true followers of Christ as we love unconditionally and lay our lives down for another. I truly believe this and I am always glad to find inspiration for this most important form of prayer and love. Messy Beautiful Love contains the following chapters:

Table of Contents:

One: Messy, Beautiful Love
Two: Walk in Compassion and Grace
Three: Be Patient and Kind When the Going Gets Tough
Four: Give Up Your Right to Be Right
Five: Appreciate Him for Who He Truly Is
Six: Step Back and Allow Him to Lead
Seven: Handle Your Conflict Wisely
Eight: Communicate with Loving Respect
Nine: Be the Woman Your Husband Needs You to Be
Ten: Be Affectionate in Ways That Are Pleasing to God
Eleven: Seize the Day and Capture the Joy
Twelve: Build a Strong Friendship
Thirteen: Be Content with the Life That You’re Given
Fourteen: Walk in Virtue According to Wisdom
Fifteen: Pray for Your Marriage 

In the introduction, Darlene notes that: Life has been messy at times, but I’ve come to understand that true and incomparable love is a beautiful thing. We have each other to lean on when we both need it most. It’s a bit of a struggle some days, but yes, it’s worth battling for!

My marriage is worth battling for and I found this book to be very insightful toward this goal. Darlene writes from her heart and I found her words to be very encouraging. Men are very different from women and it is helpful to know that other women struggle with their relationship with their spouse at times. While every Christian couple strives to have Christ at the center of their marriage. Chapter 4 is titled: Give Up Your Right to be Right. As a strong woman, that is something that I struggle with. It is comforting to know that others struggle with it as well. Above all, pray for your marriage. Such an obvious thing but it is a good reminder!

I recommend this book. Darlene very honestly shares her testimony with the reader. It is a realistic accounting of how marriage really is. A good marriage takes work. Messy Beautiful Love is about not taking your marriage for granted. Remember to show appreciation always! I always like to remember that you get back what you give out. Give this a read!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Review: Avoidable Contact (A Kate Reilly Mystery #3) by Tammy Kaehler

  • File Size: 854 KB
  • Print Length: 293 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press; 1 edition (August 1, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English

Book Description

Racecar driver Kate Reilly is suited up and ready for the start of the legendary 24 Hours of Daytona. But what lies ahead is not just a racing challenge but a harrowing test of her will and nerve off the course. 

Even before the green flag waves over Daytona International Speedway, Kate receives word her boyfriend Stuart is hospitalized nearby in a coma, fighting for his life after a hit-and-run. Stunned by the news, Kate can do nothing better for Stuart than complete her scheduled laps driving her team’s car. But more shocks follow as Daytona’s clock starts ticking. An on-track accident ends tragically. Some of her complicated family is spotted with other teams—why? And an eyewitness claims Stuart was run down deliberately by someone from the race paddock. 

Alternating stints behind the wheel of the team’s Corvette with stretches of quizzing colleagues and searching for clues, Kate circles the police and taps every possible source—friend, foe, and family—to find out who’s after Stuart and why. As the race clock counts down to zero hour, Kate must come to terms with her own fears rising from her past and decide who she’s willing to trust. Only then can she identify who’s willing to kill to keep a secret buried.

About the Author

Tammy Kaehler’s career in marketing and technical writing landed her in the world of automobile racing, which inspired her with its blend of drama, competition, and friendly people. Mystery fans and racing insiders alike praised the first two Kate Reilly Racing Mysteries, Dead Man’s Switch and Braking Points, and she takes readers back behind the wheel for the third time in Avoidable Contact. Tammy works as a technical writer in the Los Angeles area, where she lives with her husband and many cars. Find out more at

My Review

I'm not really a car racing fan but I have been enjoying this mystery series by Tammy Kaehler. Her real life experiences in the racing world have prepared her to write this suspenseful and enjoyable series featuring driver Kate Reilly.

I really like the setting. I've been to Daytona so I could picture the setting of the story. Race car driver Kate Reilly is participating in the 24 Hours of Daytona which is a 24 hour endurance race. Kate's boyfriend Stuart is injured in a hit-and-run just before the race.  He is fighting for his life and Kate learns that Stuart may have been run over deliberately. Who wanted to harm Stuart? Kate is puzzling over this while competing in the 24 Hours of Daytona. Add family stress and the stress of the race and Kate has a tense situation on her hands.

Good story. Kate is likeable. Tammy Kaehler brings the racing world to life. A great book for NASCAR fans and mystery fans alike.

Review: NIV Once-A-Day Bible: Chronological Edition Published by Zondervan

  • Series: Once-A-Day
  • Paperback: 1280 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan; Special edition (October 31, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780310950950
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310950950
  • ASIN: 0310950953

Kindle Version:
  • File Size: 4672 KB
  • Print Length: 1280 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Up to 5 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
  • Publisher: Zondervan (January 24, 2012)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishing
  • Language: English

Book Description


The NIV Once-A-Day Bible: Chronological Edition helps you encounter the Bible every day in a new and fresh way. It organizes the clear and accessible NIV Bible into 365 daily readings in chronological order so that you can practice the spiritual discipline of daily Bible reading within a new and different context.

About the Authors

The devotionals, insights and overviews contained in The Once-A-Day Bible: Chronological Edition were written by a team of writers at Walk Thru the Bible.

Walk Thru the Bible is a ministry whose mission is to ignite passion for God's Word through innovative live events, inspiring biblical resources, and a global impact that changes lives worldwide. Known for innovative methods and high-quality resources, we serve the whole body of Christ across denominational, cultural, and national lines. We partner with the local church worldwide to fulfill its mission, communicating the truths of God's Word in a way that makes the Bible readily accessible to anyone. Through our strong global network, we are strategically positioned to address the church's greatest need: developing mature, committed, and spiritually reproducing believers.

Our live events and small-group curricula are taught in more than 45 languages by more than 80,000 people in more than 100 countries. More than 100 million devotionals have been packaged into daily magazines, books, and other publications that reach over five million people each year.

Walk Thru the Bible...helping people everywhere live God's Word.


My Review

My review is based upon the e-version of the NIV Once-A-Day Bible: Chronological Edition.

The NIV Once-A-Day Bible: Chronological Edition belongs to a series a bibles: "Once-A-Day" bibles from the good people at  Walk Thru The Bible (  ).  The NIV has long been the most popular bible format today. The NIV Once-A-Day Bible: Chronological Edition is organized into 365 daily readings placed in chronological order. There is a daily Scripture reading followed by a short devotional thought written by the staff at Walk Thru the Bible. The daily reflections are brief but informative and interesting.

 I tested the links on my computer and on my iPad and they worked perfectly. 
Another great addition to my bible collection.

For further information: 

Review: NIV First-Century Study Bible Explore Scripture in Its Jewish and Early Christian Context By Edited by Kent Dobson

  • Hardcover: 1888 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan; Special edition (September 9, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310938902
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310938903

Book Description


Experience the Bible through the eyes of a first-century disciple by exploring the cultural, religious, and historical background of the Bible. This Bible allows you to understand God’s Word in its original cultural context, bringing Scripture to life by providing fresh understanding to familiar passages, beloved stories and all the Scripture in between. The NIV First-Century Study Bible invites you into the questions, stories, and interpretations—both ancient and modern—which introduce you to a world vastly different from your own. Let us read with an eye on the past and with our feet planted in our present questions and circumstances.

Join Kent Dobson as he unpacks the culture of Bible times, and illuminates Scripture passages while asking thoughtful questions along the way. Kent is the teaching pastor at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Michigan, where he initially served as the worship director. He has been featured on Biblical programs for the History Channel and the Discovery Channel. Kent fell in love with Biblical studies in Israel and had the privilege of learning from both Jewish and Christian scholars. After his time in Israel, he returned to the States to teach high school religion and Bible before responding to God's call to the pastorate. Today, he keeps his connection to the Holy Land strong as he leads tours to Israel that combine study and prayer, inspired by the ancient discipline of spiritual pilgrimage.

About the Editor

Kent Dobson is the teaching pastor at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Michigan, where he initially served as the worship director. He has been featured on Biblical programs for the History Channel and the Discovery Channel.

After completing his undergraduate degree, Kent lived and studied in Israel where he earned a Masters Degree in History and Geography of the First Temple Period from Jerusalem University College. He also studied Comparative Religion at the Rothburg International School of the Hebrew University.
Kent fell in love with Biblical studies in Israel and had the privilege of learning from both Jewish and Christian scholars. After his time in Israel, he returned to the States to teach high school religion and Bible before responding to God's call to the pastorate. Today, he keeps his connection to the Holy Land strong as he leads tours to Israel that combine study and prayer, inspired by the ancient discipline of spiritual pilgrimage.

Kent lives is Grand Rapids, Michigan, with his wife and three children.

My Review

I am reviewing the hard copy of the NIV First-Century Study Bible not the e-version.

As an eternal student of history, I was very interested in assessing this new bible. It is an easy to read bible. The format and the content are exactly what someone who wants a bible that they can refer to at times when they are being a student of the bible...a learner...a seeker. Sometimes you need a devotional bible but this is perfect for studying the Word.

I must confess that I prefer bible studies where we are studying the bible as it relates to history. The NIV First-Century Study Bible helps place the Word in its historical context. That is an important to me and if it is important to you and your study of the bible then this bible is for you.

This is an easy bible to navigate. There are introductions to each book of the bible that are well-written and insightful. The introduction contains the author, date, historical background, literary analysis, the theme and message and an outline.  There are articles and study notes that support the Word. I appreciate the layout and the use of color throughout. The font is small but not too small as in some bibles. It is well illustrated with colorful photos and charts.

A wonderful addition to my bible library. It is a beautiful volume as well!

For further information, please see:

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Review: Charlie Glass's Slippers: A Very Modern Fairy Tale by Holly McQueen

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2958 KB
  • Print Length: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; Reprint edition (Aug. 5 2014)
  • Sold by: Simon & Schuster Canada, Inc.
  • Language: English

Book Description

In this delightful, clever spin on Cinderella, Charlie Glass—a heroine as loveable as Cannie Shapiro and Bridget Jones—inherits her father’s shoe empire and snatches up a drop-dead-gorgeous, multi-millionaire Prince Charming. But is he truly the key to her happily ever after?

When Charlie’s beloved father, iconic shoe designer Elroy Glass, dies after a long illness, everyone expects that he’ll leave his business to his glamorous wife and eldest daughters. After all, they’ve been running the company for years. But Elroy surprises everyone from beyond the grave: at the will reading, it’s announced that his fashion empire has been left to Charlie, his youngest—and plumpest—daughter.

Before she can run the company, Charlie decides she needs to make a few changes in her life. After several weeks at a California boot camp, she returns to London a new woman: thinner, blonder, and ready to revitalize the Elroy Glass brand. But as she’ll soon discover, a good esthetician and a killer pair of stilettos can only go so far, and there’s more to reinvention—and running a fashion empire—than meets the eye.

Endlessly entertaining, surprising, and ultimately inspiring, Charlie Glass’s Slippers is a modern-day fairytale about finding your own magic and transforming yourself from within.

About the Author

Holly McQueen has wanted to be a writer ever since discovering that the nuns at her junior school would let her off maths homework if she wrote a story instead. After unexpected detours via law, magazine journalism, and even musical theatre, she began writing her first novel in 2006. Holly lives with her husband in London. She still avoids math.

My Review

Who doesn't love a good fairytale! Charlie Glass's Slippers by Holly McQueen is a very modern fairy tale complete with a very modern  Cinderella, Charlie Glass.

Charlie's father, Elroy Glass, who heads a shoe empire, leaves the company to Charlie in his will. Our Cinderella, the plump Charlie, is left to deal with a wicked and cruel but glamorous stepmother and older half sisters. I had a wicked stepmother so I can complete relate! And of course you need a Prince Charming for a Cinderella fairy tale. Or more than one!

Charlie has always been the chubby, ugly duckling sister. Her inheritance prompts her to head to a California boot camp to shed some pounds and have a makeover. But does being slim and attractive make your life perfect? The reader will enjoy following Charlie's transitions and realizations.

Is the story predictable...of course. But that doesn't matter. You'll enjoy the story! It would make a great movie!

Wonderful chick lit book! Great romance and great comedic tale.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Review: Mean Streak by Sandra Brown

  • File Size: 706 KB
  • Print Length: 409 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1455581127
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (August 19, 2014)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00HQ2N52K

Book Description

Dr. Emory Charbonneau, a pediatrician and marathon runner, disappears on a mountain road in North Carolina. By the time her husband Jeff, miffed over a recent argument, reports her missing, the trail has grown cold. Literally. Fog and ice encapsulate the mountainous wilderness and paralyze the search for her.

While police suspect Jeff of "instant divorce," Emory, suffering from an unexplained head injury, regains consciousness and finds herself the captive of a man whose violent past is so dark that he won't even tell her his name. She's determined to escape him, and willing to take any risks necessary to survive.

Unexpectedly, however, the two have a dangerous encounter with people who adhere to a code of justice all their own. At the center of the dispute is a desperate young woman whom Emory can't turn her back on, even if it means breaking the law.

As her husband's deception is revealed, and the FBI closes in on her captor, Emory begins to wonder if the man with no name is, in fact, her rescuer.

About the Author

 Sandra Brown is the author of more than sixty New York Times bestsellers, including DEADLINE(2013), LOW PRESSURE (2012), LETHAL (2011), TOUGH CUSTOMER (2010), SMASH CUT (2009), SMOKE SCREEN (2008), PLAY DIRTY (2007), RICOCHET (2006), CHILL FACTOR (2005), WHITE HOT (2004), & HELLO, DARKNESS (2003).

Brown began her writing career in 1981 and since then has published over seventy novels, bringing the number of copies of her books in print worldwide to upwards of eighty million. Her work has been translated into over thirty languages.

A lifelong Texan, Sandra Brown was born in Waco, grew up in Fort Worth and attended Texas Christian University, majoring in English. Before embarking on her writing career, she worked as a model at the Dallas Apparel Mart, and in television, including weather-casting for WFAA-TV in Dallas, and feature reporting on the nationally syndicated program “PM Magazine.”

In 2009 Brown detoured from her thrillers to write, Rainwater, a much acclaimed, powerfully moving story about honor and sacrifice during the Great Depression.

Brown recently was given an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Texas Christian University. She was named Thriller Master for 2008, the top award given by the International Thriller Writer’s Association. Other awards and commendations include the 2007 Texas Medal of Arts Award for Literature and the Romance Writers of America’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

My Review

 I had not read a Sandra Brown novel in quite some time, and I was very impressed with Mean Streak. The story flowed easily and I had a hard time putting it down.  

Dr. Emory Charbonneau led a full life including being a wife, a doctor, a philanthropist, and a marathon runner. While preparing for her next marathon, Emory heads to the Blue Ridge mountains of western North Carolina. She meets with foul play while running in the mountains. Emory is found by a mysterious man who takes her back to his home and cares for her. Days later her husband Jeff finally reports her missing. They had an argument about her running right before she left and he didn't seem all that concerned when she did not come home on time. Did he ever really love her? Or did he love her trust fund and her "celebrity" as a philantropist?

There are lots of twists and turns to keep the reader interested. The developing relationship between Emory and her rescuer also is very captivating. Brown is a great writer in that I did not see the surprise ending coming! Great job!

Great read! Very enjoyable!


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Review: Dollbaby by Laura Lane McNeal

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2150 KB
  • Print Length: 338 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0670014737
  • Publisher: Viking Adult (July 3 2014)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group USA
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00G3L7X4Q

Book Description

A big-hearted coming-of-age debut set in civil rights-era New Orleans—a novel of Southern eccentricity and secrets

When Ibby Bell’s father dies unexpectedly in the summer of 1964, her mother unceremoniously deposits Ibby with her eccentric grandmother Fannie and throws in her father’s urn for good measure. Fannie’s New Orleans house is like no place Ibby has ever been—and Fannie, who has a tendency to end up in the local asylum—is like no one she has ever met. Fortunately, Fannie’s black cook, Queenie, and her smart-mouthed daughter, Dollbaby, take it upon themselves to initiate Ibby into the ways of the South, both its grand traditions and its darkest secrets.

For Fannie’s own family history is fraught with tragedy, hidden behind the closed rooms in her ornate Uptown mansion. It will take Ibby’s arrival to begin to unlock the mysteries there. And it will take Queenie and Dollbaby’s hard-won wisdom to show Ibby that family can sometimes be found in the least expected places.

For fans of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt and The Help, Dollbaby brings to life the charm and unrest of 1960s New Orleans through the eyes of a young girl learning to understand race for the first time.

By turns uplifting and funny, poignant and full of verve, Dollbaby is a novel readers will take to their hearts.

“In this tender coming-of-age novel, McNeal brings to life a place, an era, and an amazing cast of strong, larger-than-life characters. Heartrending, captivating, and ultimately, triumphant.”
Cassandra King, New York Times bestselling author of Moonrise

“McNeal’s Dollbaby is such an impressive debut—a powerful roux of family drama, long-simmering secrets and resentments, and ultimately, forgiveness and redemption. Deeply evocative, with memorable characters, Dollbaby belongs on the keeper shelf along with The Help and The Secret Life of Bees.”
Mary Kay Andrews, New York Times bestselling author of Ladies' Night

“Deeply southern and evocative, Laura Lane McNeal’s beautifully written debut, Dollbaby, takes us back to a not-so-long ago time when we were learning to look through different eyes at the fabric of our society, race, youth and family."
Susan Crandall, author of Whistling Past the Graveyard

"This flavorful and enthralling novel brilliantly captures New Orleans during the civil rights era. It's a deeply personal tale about growing up and searching for family as well as a provocative exploration of race and kinship. I found it both thrilling and poignant."
Walter Isaacson, New York Times bestselling author of Steve Jobs

About the Author
 Laura Lane McNeal grew up In New Orleans where people laugh a lot, talk with their hands, love good music, good food, and will make up any excuse for a party.

After receiving two undergraduate degrees from Southern Methodist University (a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Bachelor of Business Administration), she went on to earn an MBA from Tulane University. She spent most of her career in advertising, working for firms in New York and Dallas, before returning to New Orleans where she started her own marketing consulting firm and became a free-lance writer as well as a decorative artist. In 2005, when the devastation of Hurricane Katrina left her with having to rebuild her life, Laura seized the opportunity to fulfill her lifetime dream of becoming a writer. She hasn’t stopped since.

Laura resides in New Orleans and is married with two sons. DOLLBABY is her first published novel. She is presently working on a second novel.

My Review

 I loved this book! Great characters with a great story set in a delightful location.

Family. The heart of Dollbaby is the family connections that exist between Ibby and Fannie Bell and the black family that look after them. Dollbaby is set in New Orleans during the turbulent times of the civil rights era and the Vietnam War. Dollbaby explores the divisions between blacks and whites in New Orleans and the changes that are happening in 1960s society.

Dollbaby is story about secrets. And locked rooms. And mental illness. But it is not a dark tale. It is uplifting as the characters are fascinatingly fleshed out by author Laura Lane McNeal. It is a love story about family relationships. Loved the ending! Fabulous!

Highly recommend Dollbaby.