Money Secrets of the Amish

Money Secrets of the Amish
Finding True Abundance in Simplicity, Sharing, and Saving

By Lorilee Craker
Published by Thomas Nelson

In Money Secrets of the Amish, established author Lorilee Craker embarks on a journey to reveal the secrets to the financial success of the Amish people.  From Mennonite lineage herself, Craker delves into the Amish culture with a fresh but somewhat experienced perspective.  She meets and interviews successful Amish families as she journeys into Pennsylvania Amish communities.  Craker soon finds more than simple answers to her questions and discovers some welcoming and generous friends in these genuinely humble people.

The financial advice Craker receives, and then relays to her readers, is as plain and simple as the Plain folk themselves. Though Craker does include a good many valuable suggestions, the “secret” answer lies more in the Amish people’s simplistic way of thinking, based on Biblical values and moral standards, than any so-called secret strategy.

I thoroughly enjoyed the quick pace and easy reading style Craker takes with this book. After reading the publisher’s book description, I expected a book full of specific examples and suggestions of money-saving techniques.  However, I was pleasantly surprised to read a book more on the way of life and mindset of the Amish rather than simply a collection of thrifty suggestions. Money Secrets of the Amish is written in a refreshingly candid, first person style. Craker’s admiration of the Amish people is  obvious.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

See a preview of this book here.

The Waiting Place

The Waiting Place
Learning to Appreciate Life’s Little Delays

By Eileen Button
Published by Thomas Nelson

I loved it!

I have to admit, I started reading The Waiting Place with a bit of a critical attitude.  After reading the book description, I had formed the idea that this book was going to consist of a collection of inspirational stories surrounding the “waiting” theme.  It sounded a little like just another themed devotional, but probably worth my while.

However, once into the first chapter or two, I was pleasantly surprised to be reading more than another devotional.  The Waiting Place is more a collection of essays relating the author’s life story – an autobiography of sorts.  Told in first person, author Eileen Button describes the many times in her life where she has waited for her circumstances to change.  In each essay, she conveys some of the life-lessons she learned during those times.

As I continued to read, I began to relate more and more to Buttons’s life. She candidly discusses her own struggles in being a daughter, pastor’s wife, mom, writer, and friend. Wearing all of those “titles” myself, I can personally relate.  It is refreshing to read not only how she resolves her own her struggles in dealing with critical real-life issues, but how honestly she shares these personal struggles.

Recommend? Absolutely!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

See a preview of this book here.

Jesus, My Father, The CIA, and Me

Jesus, My Father, The CIA, and Me

By Ian Cron
Published by Thomas Nelson

The book description was intriguing.
The cover had a kind of cute coolness.
I was hooked.
Then … I was disappointed.

Jesus, My Father, The CIA, and Me is the “mostly true” story of Ian Morgan Cron’s life growing up within an affluent, roller-coaster ride of a family.  Ian’s father, an unpredictable alcoholic, is not only the center, albeit generally absent, of the family, but leads a secretive life as an agent for the CIA.  Beginning in his early teenage years, Ian’s life spirals out of control through alcohol and drug abuse.  His alternating “bad-boy” vs. “good-boy” lifestyle portrays a confused and hurting young man. As his partying lifestyle continues into adulthood, Ian is forced to face his childhood past. He must make the decision of whether to deal with his ghosts, or allow them to continue to control his life.

Once the reader finally gets to the actual story, it is a good tale.  However, from a Christian viewpoint, it presents some very questionable theology.  From a literary viewpoint, I also found way too much extra content and general “fluff” to recommend this book.  I ran across a number of unnecessary “big words” that I had to actually look-up. (Note: Thanks to reading it on my NookColor that was feasible.)  This certainly presented a distasteful ostentatiousness (yes, ironically ostentatiousness is not found in my dictionary … ).

Recommend? Maybe, if it is on the bargain shelf. I would not spend much money on it.  That said, it does have some read-worthy content … after the literary fluff is sorted through.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

See a preview of this book here.

A Reluctant Queen

A Reluctant Queen
The Love Story of Esther

By Joan Wolf
Published by Thomas Nelson

Awesome read!

As a young girl, Esther dreams of one day marrying and having a family for all the right reasons –  love.  As the political climate directs, young Esther is convinced by her loving Uncle to be presented to the King of Persia as a candidate for Queen.  As she is challenged to decide whether or not to follow God’s plan for her life, Esther finds herself in circumstances she thought she could never endure.

The Biblical story of Queen Esther can be a familiar one.  As an author, the familiarity of a story, especially a Biblical one, can present a challenge in development as a novel.  Wolf herself discusses how she resolves this challenge in her “Author’s Note” at the end of the book. Wolf states “Where the Bible story and the novel come together is in the underlying premise.  God has a plan for the world, and He works His plan through the actions of humans.  The big question is, will we allow God to work through us?”.

When I began this book, I have to admit I was a bit skeptical in how Wolf would deal with the Biblical aspects.  By the time I finished the read, I was very pleased.  I find most contemporary authors tend to lean toward the liberal side when delving into a Christian topic.  Wolf delightedly takes this Biblical story and unfolds a tender love story. While tweeking the historical only a bit, Wolf preserves the underlying Christian premises.

Recommend? Absolutely!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

See a preview of this book here.

No Place Like Holmes

No Place Like Holmes

By Jason Lethcoe
Published by Thomas Nelson

Cute story.

When the young Griffin Sharpe arrives from America to visit his uncle in London, he is in for an adventurous summer.  Griffin quickly learns two things that will determine the course of his next three months.  First, his grumpy uncle, Rupert Snodgrass, lives next door to the famous detective Sherlock Holmes.  Second, that Rupert, a mediocre detective himself, holds a life goal to beat his renowned neighbor to solving at least one case.

As the events of the summer unfold, Griffin, an intelligently observant young man, and Rupert, a stogy but talented inventor, eventually begin to appreciate one another. Griffin’s faith in God is the foundation for his kindness toward his uncle, as well as his tolerance of his uncle’s harsh attitude.

No Place Like Holmes is a detective novel written for a young audience, specifically aimed at ages 9-12.  Lethcoe does an excellent job with an intriguing plot and a clean, entertaining storyline. Young readers and adults alike will enjoy reading this book, but it is especially geared for boys.  I found this book a refreshing read.  It took me back to my Jr. High school days of reading Trixie Belden mysteries. I would highly recommend this book as a great summer read.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

See a preview of this book here.

The Seraph Seal

The Seraph Seal

By Leonard Sweet, Lori Wagner
Published by Thomas Nelson

I have to admit, I had a hard time putting this one down. The Seraph Seal takes Biblical end-times prophecy and portrays the author’s idea of what that could look like in a fictional story format.  Many of the ideas presented are wonderful examples of how God reveals himself, and His Son Jesus, throughout elements in His creation. There are many references to ancient spiritual, as well as mystical, ideas. Though the Biblical Truths of the Gospel (i.e., Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and the only Way to salvation of man) are presented as the Truths they are, however, too much is left unsaid – and deceptively implied.

Many places throughout reading The Seraph Seal I picked up a smacking of ideas similar to “Universalism”. The idea that since God does not wish for anyone to perish (which is in itself a Biblical truth), God will give man-kind enough chances to realize the Truth until no-one ends up separated from God for eternity (i.e., in Hell) – which is not a Biblical truth. It is a tempting belief, but universalism is still a lie as old as Satan himself. Isn’t this the same lie Satan used to deceive Eve in the Garden of Eden?  To Eve, Satan first presented a partial truth – “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1b).  A partial truth because he takes it out of context to begin his twisting of the truth, i.e, deception. Satan then continues his deception by refuting the remainder of that truth with “You will not surely die. (Gen 3:4b). The same lie of universalism. This is the reason I cannot bring myself to give The Seraph Seal a higher recommendation. To me, it is dangerously deceptive in spreading Satan’s lies.

Recommend?  Yes, but only for a Christian reader who possesses sound, rock-solid Biblical knowledge.  With this in mind, to me, The Seraph Seal presents an example of the deceptive combination of truth and lies that remind this reader (me) of the Apostle Paul’s reference in 2 Timothy 4:3-4 – “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.”

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

See a preview of this book here.

The Skin Map

The Skin Map

By Stephen Lawhead
Published by Thomas Nelson

The Skin Map is the first book I have read by Stephen Lawhead.  I am a fan of author Ted Dekker and I expected The Skin Map to be similar to books by Dekker or Randy Alcorn, but I was disappointed.

The story consists of a young man, Kit Livingstone, being visited unexpectedly by his great-grandfather, Cosimo Livingstone. Cosimo then engages Kit, though somewhat unwillingly, in a sort if time travel by means of what Lawhead calls “leys”.  These leys are “pathways” said to be scattered throughout the earth and allow “travelers” to physically leap between realms.

The storyline, though somewhat interesting, is a bit too “New Age” for this Bible believing Christian (me). There are a few references to God, including page 285 where the evil-portrayed character Burleigh states “There is no God” and Cosimo responds with “You are wrong, … Utterly, fatally, and eternally wrong.” However, moreover the idea of God is referenced vaguely such as providence. Being promoted by a publisher of primarily Christian material, I expected this book to at the least briefly point to the basics of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (which is central to Christianity). Merely a sentence it two would suffice. However it does not.

From a purely literary standpoint, the storyline starts out a little slow, including unnecessary detail, but ends a bit too abruptly. The twist at the end jumps the reader to a place where too many questions are unanswered.  Even though this is the first of a series, another chapter or so to explain how some of the characters get from one place to another would help tremendously. It left me wondering what happened in between and a little disappointed.

I received this book as a free eBook from the publisher for review. As to whether I will reading the continuation of this series, I will probably do so only if again can do so free.  I would more than likely not spend money on this series.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

See a preview of this book here.

Strike It Rich with Pocket Change

Strike It Rich with Pocket Change
By Ken Potter and Dr. Brian Allen
Published by F&W Media

Strike It Rich with Pocket Change is a great reference book with good information on some of the lesser known elements of valuing coins. Authors Ken Potter and Dr. Brian Allen discuss the rare, and sometimes no so rare, oddities of specific coins that increase their value to certain collectors. These oddities include irregularities and errors in the coin making process.

Issues addressed include what to look for when examining a coin, how to examine coins, (whether with the naked eye, or for more detail, with instruments), and specific tools a collector might need.
The middle of the book is comprised of a catalog, or guide, to collectible coins with descriptions of coins, what to look for, approximate market value, as well as corresponding photos.

Sections are also included on how to sell your coins (which includes a mini-directory of dealers and on-line sites to contact), a listing of sources of information (including coin clubs and associations, on-line sources, newsletters, publications and coin verification providers), a section on myths in the area of coin collecting, and even a helpful glossary of “coin terms and definitions” is located toward the back of the book.

To view a preview of this book click here

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

How To Write A Book Proposal

How to Write a Book Proposal
4th Edition
By Michael Larsen
Published by F&W Media

Details, details, details.  And that’s a good thing!

How To Write A Book Proposal, by Michael Larsen, is so much more than a step by step how-to of writing a book proposal. Jam-packed with practical ideas to promote and “sell” your book, your book idea, and essentially yourself,  How To Write A Book Proposal, goes beyond simply writing the proposal.  Larsen includes information on choosing a title, promoting your book, marketing, self-publishing, selecting an agent, and, my personal favorite, a great little visual flow diagram of the publishing process itself.

It can be difficult to sift through the overabundance of information currently available. Larsen helps navigate at least the publishing process. Practical, specific, detailed suggestions and examples appear throughout the book including the decision as to what should and shouldn’t be included in your proposal, the specifics of how to format your proposal, to the setting of necessary goals in order to become a successful author.

I recommend this book to anyone considering writing a book or simply interested in gaining insight into the publishing industry. If I ever decide to take the plunge and write a book, I will certainly be using the most current edition of title as a reference guide.

To view a preview of this book click here or here

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”