Monday, 29 October 2012

Book Review: Strength Renewed: Meditations for Your Journey through Breast Cancer by Shirley Corder

Book Title: Strength Renewed: Meditations for Your Journey through Breast Cancer
Author: Shirley Corder
Publisher: Revell
Date: October 2012
ISBN: 978-0-8007-2023-0

"Strength Renewed" consists of 90 devotions which follow Shirley Corder's cancer journey chronologically, but they can be read in any order as each one stands alone. Shirley's upbeat personality, laced with her lovely sense of humour, shines through this beautifully written book. She comes alongside her readers as she chats with honesty and transparency about the roller coaster ride of having cancer, her treatment, recovery and personal relationships. Her faith in God is evident throughout the book.

The meditations can be read on several different levels. Whether you want encouragment from the Bible, down-to-earth tips, words of hope, a short prayer or a connection with someone who really knows what the cancer valley is like because they've been there, you'll find it in this book. Shirley has included three questions in each devotion for those who wish to explore the cancer journey in more depth.

Shirley's prayer in the introduction is that "this book will strengthen your faith." My brush with cancer was many years ago, but I found much in "Strength Renewed" to strengthen my faith today.

I strongly recommend "Strength Renewed". It's an outstanding resource for anyone with cancer and for their companions on the journey through the cancer valley.

Shirley Corder is a registered nurse and a breast cancer survivor who has a passion for helping others as they go through treatment. She is a contributing author to several books, including four Guideposts anthologies, and has published many devotions. She lives in South Africa. Her website can be found at

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Book Review: The Baker's Wife by Erin Healy

Book Title: The Baker's Wife
Author: Erin Healy
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Date: October, 2011
ISBN-10: 1595547525
ISBN-13: 978-1595547521

A lie-based scandal forces Audrey Bofinger and her pastor husband Geoff  to leave their church. One of their ministries is baking breads—think  rosemary-potato loaves—to give away, so “Rise and Shine”, a failing bakery, becomes their new workplace, as well as being a healing place for their family wounds.

Early one morning Audrey and her son Ed drive to the bakery through heavy fog. They crash into a motor scooter, which turns out to belong to Julie Mansfield. Julie’s blood is found at the accident site, but her body has disappeared without a trace.

What happened to Julie’s body? Where is it? This mystery lured me through the book and kept me wondering and turning the pages to the end.

Julie’s husband, Jack Mansfield, a police detective and also the man responsible for forcing Audrey and Geoff out of their church, blames Audrey for Julie’s disappearance. He's a self-righteous man who twists scripture to suit his purposes and believes that God owes him for living a good life. He has no compassion whatsoever. He’s vindictive and seeks justice at all costs.

Jack is a complete contrast to Audrey, who is the embodiment of compassion. She’s gifted with empathy, so much so that she experiences the pain and suffering of other people. She hears voices audible only to her and feels the weight of an unseen arm turning her in the direction she should go to bring comfort to someone. Jack and Audrey show two different responses to hardship and suffering.

This supernatural element of Audrey’s empathy made me feel a little uncomfortable, but it was not overdone and did not detract from my reading experience.

I loved the symbolism of bread and the bakery. Bread, like Geoff and Audrey’s ministry, is life-giving and sustaining.

If you like Christian fiction with well developed characters, deep themes, mystery and suspense, then this is just the book for you.

I highly recommend this intriguing book and give it a four star rating.

Thank you to BookSneeze and Thomas Nelson for a free review copy. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions expressed above are my own.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Book Review: Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus by Joyce Magnin

Book title: Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus
Author: Joyce Magnin
Publisher: Zondervan
Date: 2012
ISBN: 978-0-310-33355-5

On Christmas Eve, 72-year-old widow Harriet Beamer falls while hanging her favorite ornament on the Christmas tree. She bets her daughter-in-law, Prudence, that her ankle isn't broken. But it is. To honor her bet, Harriet has to sell her comfortable house in Philadelphia and travel across the country to California to live with her son, Henry, and Prudence. However she's one feisty lady and decides to send Humphrey, her beloved basset hound ahead, while she makes her way there via the scenic route on public transportation. This makes for a delightful and often amusing read as we follow Harriet's adventures which range from stopping a thief in his tracks to dancing the cancan on the stage in Dodge City. We meet many marvelous characters along the way including David Prancing Elk and a snake-handling preacher

The thing that I really loved about this book is that it's about several other journeys. There's Harriet's journey to independence--all her life she has just let things happen to her, but now she's making her own choices and making things happen. She's an avid collector of shakers, so she starts by fulfilling a lifelong ambition to visit the Salt and Pepper Museum in Tennessee. As Harriet moves along and throws off her old ways, we see her discard her dresses and leather shoes for denim jeans and sneakers.

There's her journey into modern technology as she buys a Droid phone with GPS, which she calls Amelia, so she can find her way.

But the heart of the book is her spiritual journey. She yearns to feel God's pleasure in her and what she's doing again. She wants to know if she's still useful. Does God have a purpose for her or has she used up all her purpose?

This light-hearted book is an enjoyable read which will keep you turning the pages. I hope that Joyce Magnin will write a sequel.

I give this book a five star rating.

Thank you to Shelton Interactive and Zondervan for giving me an Advanced Reading Copy of "Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus" in exchange for my unbiased review.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Book Review: Stained Glass Hearts by Patsy Clairmont

Book title: Stained Glass Hearts
Author: Patsy Clairmont
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
ISBN-10: 0849948266
ISBN-13: 978-0849948268

Patsy Clairmont had fallen to pieces. She was emotionally and physically bed-bound, agoraphobic and dependent on drugs when God intervened and gave her a command of three words.Yes, just three simple words, but she obeyed them and her life changed. In Stained Glass Hearts- Seeing Life From a Broke nPerspective Patsy relates anecdotes and stories which show how God healed and pieced her together again.

The book is written in a light amusing voice, which makes it easy to read, but under the humorous surface there are depths of deep truths readers can apply to their own lives. Patsy does not hesitate to share her failures as well as her successes.

A feature which I really loved was the Art Gallery at the end of each chapter in which Patsy points readers to a world of wonder and healing found in books, scriptures, music, poetry, YouTube videos, prayers, and paintings. This feature would have been even better if links to the examples were given in the text.

God's light shines through the pages (or eReader screen!) as though they too were made of stained glass. Patsy shows that just as a craftsman makes a beautiful window from shards of colored glass, so God can take the hurting jagged pieces of broken hearts and fit them together with His grace and redemption to form beautiful masterpieces of lives.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this well written and interesting book and recommend it to anyone in the process of healing from some hurt, or wanting an uplifting read. I'll reread it, a chapter at a time, to refresh my mind with its wisdom, humorous insights and practical suggestions. I plan to take the time to follow some of the suggestions Patsy makes in the Art Gallery sections and discover the world of wonder in different art forms.

I give Stained Glass Hearts a five star rating.

Thank you to BookSneeze for a free review copy. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions expressed above are my own.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

The 11 Secrets of Getting Published

Title: The 11 Secrets of Getting Published                
Author: Mary DeMuth
Available at Amazon 

Mary DeMuth, one of my favourite authors, follows her own advice as she shares her secrets which will help writers improve their skills and have a better chance of being published.This is her "gift to the future. You never know the impact Jesus will make through another writer." 

Written in an informal chatty style, this book is packed full with hard-won and practical advice valuable to writers--published and pre-published--of any genre. I highly recommend this book.

Thank you to the author for giving me an electronic copy of "The 11 Secrets of Getting Published" in exchange for my unbiased opinion.

The 11 Reasons Why Writers Should Buy this Book
1 This book lives up to its title—it gives valuable insights and principles which can help writers get published.

2 This is no airy-fairy book, but one written by a popular author from her own hard-won experience

3 It will benefit writers of fiction and non-fiction.

4 The information in it is pertinent for published and pre-published writers.

5 It's written in a chatty style so that the information is easy to read and absorb.

6 The author isn't afraid to talk about her own mistakes so that writers can learn from them.

7 The advice given in this book is practical eg Mary gives instructions how to make an em dash, which font to use . . .

8 It covers a wide range of subjects including the craft of writing, finding your voice, formatting, the publishing industry, agents, critiques, queries, proposals and marketing.

9 Mary encourages writers to consider their readers. "Use your words too, to encourage others. Don't simply write for publication, but seek to write words to others that will bless them."

10 She encourages writers to give back wherever they can "Consider that helping other people become better writers is a gift you give to the future. You never know the impact Jesus will make through another writer."

11 There are three bonus sections at the end with more advice.

Thursday, 01 March 2012

"Downfall" Starts with a Bang

Book title: Downfall
Author: Terri Blackstock
Publisher: Zondervan
Date: February, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-310-20586-5

"Downfall" concludes the Intervention Christian suspense series by Terri Blackstock. It can be read as a stand-alone novel, but readers will connect more deeply with the characters if they read the other two books first.

The book literally starts with a bang as a homemade bomb explodes under Emily Covington's car. Is this a repercussion from her past? Emily, drug-free now for two years, is working hard to rebuild her family's trust and complete her studies, but the Avenger is after her. I found myself rooting for her as she plunges deeper and deeper into trouble as she attempts to prevent a murder.

Lance, her brother, is also caught up in the aftermath of Emily's addictions. He's a social misfit at his new school, and puts himself at risk to protect April, his only friend there.

I listened to interviews with Terri Blackstock and discovered that she relates strongly to Barbara, Emily's mother, as her own daughter was a drug addict for several years. She knows what it is like to fight for your child as she goes in and out of rehab in an effort to break free. She knows what it's like to learn to trust your child again. She knows what it's like to live with the fear of a relapse. I admire Blackstock's courage in drawing on her personal experience to write "Downfall" and that of her daughter in giving her blessing to the book.

"Downfall" is not just a compelling mystery which keeps you guessing to the end, it's a message of hope for drug addicts and their families—addiction can be broken with God's help.

I enjoyed this book and highly recommend it. Be warned though—if you start reading it, you'll get caught in the I'll-just-read-one-more-chapter-trap as I did! The short enthralling chapters captured me and I read the whole book quickly in a few sittings.

Thank you to Shelton Interactive for giving me an Advanced Reading Copy of "Downfall" in exchange for my unbiased review.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Shadow in Serenity- A Roller Coaster of a Read

Book title: Shadow in Serenity
Author: Terri Blackstock
Publisher: Zondervan
Date: 2011
IBSN: 978-0-310-33231-2

 "Shadow in Serenity" by Terri Blackstock is a roller coaster of a read—it twists and turns through loops as you race along the words to find out what happens next. What else would you expect from the fascinating premise of a conman trying to deceive an ex-con artist who grew up in the craziness of a traveling carnival?

Charming Logan Brisco arrives in Serenity well prepared to relieve the unsuspecting inhabitants of their hard earned savings. He promises them an amusement park to revive their failing economy, but Carny Sullivan sees through him immediately. After all, her parents trained her to be a con artist and she knows all the tricks of the trade. The kindness of the Serenity folk has allowed her to build a happy secure life for her son, and she is determined to expose Logan and his destructive scheme in order to protect the town. But Logan endears himself to the town and no one believes her.

I enjoyed this book and a Ferris Wheel of questions filled my mind so that I had to keep reading. Would Logan change? Would he develop a conscience? Would he believe and trust in God? How could he be sure that God believed in him? Could a person have too much baggage to change? Would he destroy Serenity?

And what about Carny, the Harley-riding widow who flew planes for a living? Would she be able to stop Logan? Would she trust Logan? Should she trust him? Was he deceiving her?

These questions were answered at the end of the book in a most satisfying conclusion.

I highly recommend this well-written book. Although light hearted on the surface, it's underpinned by a strong Christian message.

Thank you to Shelton Interactive for a free review copy. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions expressed above are my own.