Thursday, February 9, 2012

Hook Line and Sinker

Susan May Warren has a gift for making Christianity and romance come together to create wholesome reading with purpose. With characters that live Godly lives and strive for Godly relationships, Hook, Line and Sinker is a perfect example of this gift.

Hook, Line and Sinker has a cast of college kids who attend a Christian college while trying to raise money for an organization. For a new fundraiser, students set off to Deep Haven to participate in a fishing contest. The guy heading up the event and the girl dragging her feet just happen to have a history together that left them on less than friendly terms. As the events of the fishing contest take place over a few days these two young loves are forced to spend time together and realize the truth behind their relationship.

I enjoy reading novellas and yet for the very reason I enjoy them I also dislike them. Due to the shorter word count author’s must get right to the point—no dilly dallying. This fact makes every word and page count and it makes for attention-grabbing reading. There are no dull moments when reading novellas. I have great appreciation for that but, I miss the development and teasing element that comes with a longer book. Novels allow the author more time to detour or go haywire for awhile. The extra drama also keeps me reading. Whether I read a short story or full length novel I am equally satisfied, it’s just a different kind of gratification.

Hook, Line and Sinker will reel you in and before you know it you’ll be fishing for another novella.

I received a complimentary digital copy of Hook, Line and Sinker as a participant in Tyndale's blogging program.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Books for Kids

A Christmas season tradition at the Archer home is reading Christmas children’s books. Each year I go through my row of books from my teaching days and pull out all the Christmas books. The stack sits on the couch all season and we read at least one each day. We also like to check some out from the local library, even though we have a large pile.

Here are several books that are our favorites for this year. Some are my son’s favorites and some are my books of choice.

My son 's favorite part of this book is the last page which is the music to the song. He places the book at the piano and proceeds to grace us with a unique rendition of Jingle Bells.

This is a cute pop-up book full of bugs. The singsong story is to the tune of The Twelve Days of Christmas. Day 12 is a stunning 3-D display of Angel bugs.

This story is about a family who decorates a tree in the forest each year with edible ornaments for the animals. Every year when we read this story I remember that I think it's a really neat idea and I remind myself that I would like to do this someday.

Jan Brett is an extremely gifted illustrator. If you've never read one of her books, you simply must. The detail will astound you. Her style of illustrating gives this classic poem new life.

This is one of my favorites. I've met the author and she has written in our book a message for my son. Michelle Medlock Adams tells the story of Christ's birth from the perspective of the dove and other animals. The rhyming lilt makes the book endearing.

I like to read this book on Christmas Eve before bed. The words are the lyrics to Silent Night and the accompanying pictures are Thomas Kinkade paintings.

And finally, our reading would not be complete without a trip to the North Pole. This book was awarded the prestigious Caldecott Award and once you've read it you'll see it is deserving. My son likes the version of this book that has pictures from the motion picture by the same name. To me, nothing beats the original.

What do you and your children read together this time of year? Do you have a favorite Christmas story from your childhood?

Merry Christmas reading--

J Renee

Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas Reading

Reading Christmas stories is a December tradition for me. The last few years I’ve breezed through many and nothing is better than a heartwarming story during the Christmas season. Unfortunately, not all Christmas stories are equally created. It sounds impossible but, I have encountered some stories that do not capture the dreamy, cozy, romantic, feel-good emotion I desire from a Christmas-themed book. And let me say now that all of the books I mention in this post are quick reads—they are novella-size.

First, Donna VanLiere has written many Christmas books, all of which are outstanding.  I have read several and can say that each one makes you sigh, cry and leaves you with a fairy tale feeling. Isn’t that the best kind of story to read this time of year? The Christmas Blessing is her title that I’ve most recently read. This book is the sequel to The Christmas Shoes and it addresses the purpose each of us is on earth to fulfill. It’s a story of hope and love and miracles. If you’d like to see what else VanLiere has to offer, click here.

Christmas in Harmony by Philip Gulley is another recent read. I thought the book was mediocre. I have certain criteria, as I’ve stated, that I expect to have in every Christmas story and this novella did not match my criteria. It is fairly well-written but the storyline doesn’t really go anywhere. Gulley has written a series of books revolving around the small town of Harmony and the quirky people who reside there. Philip Gulley isn’t the romantic that Donna VanLiere is but your yuletide reading pleasures may be different than mine.

I’ve also read, The Perfect Love Song by Pattie Callahan Henry. This one had plenty of everything I desire in a seasonal read. It was a good plot but, there was one element that tips the scale for me. There were occasions when the characters would speak the name of God in vain. Really? In a Christmas story? That’s a huge turn off—in any book I read, but especially in a Christmas book!

I have a few more Christmas tales to read before the season passes by. Check out my lists of books I’ve read in past years for other great Christmas books. What books do you enjoy reading this time of year?

Back to my Christmas book—

 J Renee

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Quest for the Nail Prints by Don Furr

Furr’s debut novel, Quest for the Nail Prints, is a gripping tale of three people from modern era who find themselves following Jesus around for the few days before his crucifixion. These three individuals do not know each other prior to traveling on the same flight to Israel and they have no inkling how much this trip will change their lives.

When I read the summary of Furr’s book I thought it would prove to be hokie and shallow. Time travel and such tom foolery is not what I typically choose to read. Then I started reading the book and discovered I couldn’t put it down.

At the very beginning Furr states, “A fictitious account of an actual event….” I thoroughly enjoy reading books based on biblical events where the author adds interpretation and details not provided in the Bible. In that regard, Quest for the Nail Prints seemed at home on my bookshelf. Fictitious accounts of actual events enhance the factual, add drama and force the reader to think about something well-known in an all new way. Quest for the Nail Prints is exactly what I expect with this type of book.

As for the time travel and other potentially hokie scenarios, it turns out the story flows smoothly with no awkwardness. Furr handles the switch from modern-day to ancient-day and back with ease. Most of the book is set in Jesus’ time so it was easy to forget how we even got there. There are plenty of twists and unforeseen details that keep the reader intrigued. The characters are well developed and dialogue flows nicely. Quest for the Nail Prints brings to life in a totally new way the story of Christ. Furr wrote an excellent adventure.

I received a complimentary copy of Quest for the Nail Prints in exchange for a review.

Friday, September 30, 2011

It Couldn't Just Happen by Lawrence O. Richards

I can’t wait to use It Couldn’t Just Happen to teach my children the truth about creation and evolution. Richards has written a comprehensive text for kids in the 9-13 age range that regards God’s creation and God’s word as the ultimate truth. Questions about dinosaurs, the Big Bang Theory, humans evolving from apes, and any other question your child will ever ask is addressed in Richards’ book.  
Richards wrote the book in classic textbook form but left out the boring and blah. This book captures your attention from your first glance at the cover. Pages are not filled with words alone; pictures abound with captions that add intrigue. This book will hold the attention of kids with ease, not to mention the very readable language. Plus the “Just for Fun” section at the end of each chapter supplies additional questions for kids to ponder, research suggestions to further explore the topic and some sort of biblical or God-centered question.

What I particularly enjoyed about It Couldn’t Just Happen was the direct approach to disproving evolution. Richards is quite frank and unapologetic about proving Evolutionists’ theories incorrect without being disrespectful or demeaning. I appreciate his boldness and confidence. It Couldn’t Just Happen makes it very clear that this world and everything in it did not just happen.

I envision this book being a useful resource in several settings including homeschooling, Sunday School and even a study parents do along with their child. Grab a copy and your kids and start learning just how awesome creation is!

I received a complimentary copy of It Couldn't Just Happen from Thomas Nelson Publishers as a participant in their book review blogger program.