Friday, March 28, 2008

Dear to Me

Dear to Me
Wanda E. Brunstetter
Barbour Books
PO Box 719 Ulrichsville, OH 44683
ISBN:978-1-59789-611-5, 2008, $14.95
Reviewed for Reader Views.

When faced with a major decision and desiring for God's will in your life, don't you wish that the correct decision would come to you like a bolt of lightning? Melinda Andrews has everything that a young Amish girl would want. She has been baptized in the Amish faith, and is being courted by her longtime good friend, Gabe Swartz. She has learned all she has to learn in order to be an Amish wife and mother. That is all that young Amish girls are supposed to be able to do with their life anyway.

Melinda has a job working with the local veterinarian. She is able to put her love of caring for animals and make additional income for her family until she and Gabe are ready to be married. Everyone in Webster County realizes that Melinda has a heart for wounded animals. She often has injured animals delivered to her farm for medical attention. She is also known to bring animals (tame and wild ones) home from the veterinary clinic for personalized attention. Her parents and brother do not understand her caring spirit and why she is so fascinated with caring for animals rather than attending to her family's needs as expected.

Gabe sees her caring spirit as a valuable trait as it means she will be an excellent mother to their children. The vet, Dr Franklin, sees additional traits in Melinda which would make her an excellent vet assistant or even a veterinarian. But she will need additional education which is contrary to Amish beliefs.

Melinda is so focused on her dream of becoming a vet a reality. She insists that if Gabe really does love her he will follow her into the English world. Being outside the Old Order Amish world is not foreign to young Melinda as she lived her first 6 years in Branson, Missouri while her mother was chasing stardom. Why is Gabe being so stubborn, doesn't he love her at all? Does loving someone require you to give up all your hopes, dreams and all that you have ever known? What will it take for Melinda to realize what God's plan is for her life?

Wanda Brunstetter is a wonderful story teller. She uses her experience in visiting Amish settlements throughout the United States to add realism to her stories."Dear to Me" is the third book in her "The Brides of Webster County" series. "Dear to Me" will have you seeing what is really dear to Melinda's heart and how God can work in your hearts and show how you can utilize your talents to His glory!

Elvis Takes a Back Seat

Title: Elvis Takes a Back Seat

Author: Leanna Ellis

B&H Fiction

978-0-8054-4696-8, Copyright 2008, $14.99.

Have you ever found a note and not known what its true meaning is? Claudia has just that kind of note but is not able to ask the author for its meaning. Her husband Stu has recently died. Her friends keep telling her its time for her to move on, but she is unable to until she solves the mystery behind this note. The note is telling her to "return Elvis to where he belongs." So just where does the 3 foot bust of the king of rock and roll belong? Her life has become entangled with the mystery of where she should take him.

Memphis and Graceland are fitting places for Elvis, right? She enlists her eccentric aunt to travel with her. After all, Aunt Rae claims that she met Elvis Presley years ago. Wanting to be a positive role model for Ivy, she takes her along on the trip. Ivy is 17 year old daughter of her boss and good friend Ben who lost her mother at a very young age. The threesome set out for an adventure. When dining in a restaurant, Elvis gets unwanted attention being tucked in the back seat of the sedan. Will the bust make it to its rightful place without being stolen? Why is Ivy always sick, is it just carsickness?

"Elvis Takes a Back Seat" is a hilarious and yet very dramatic book. It will have you laughing and crying in different parts of the book. Your heart will go out to Ivy and the challenges of trying to grow up and face life's difficult decisions. Leanna Ellis has written an excellent novel. She is very talented and I anxiously await another book by her. Even if you aren't or weren't a fan of Elvis Presley, you will find yourself thinking "I can't help falling in love with you" while reading this book!

Par For the Course

Par For the Course
Ray Blackston
Faith Words Hachette Book Group USA
ISBN: 978-0-446-17815-0
Reviewed for Reader Views.

Are you looking to tee off on a golfing adventure which combines entrepreneurship, romance, humorous moments and a touch of mystery? Ray Blackston has just the book which will fit your interests to a tee. "Par For the Course" is Ray Blackston's newest novel and it is sure to please both golf enthusiasts and non-golfers alike.

Chris Hack is a single man who uses his golfing knowledge, experience and skills to better golfers throughout the Charleston area. He is not alone in his quest of making Hack's Golf Learning Center the best facility in the area. He has his business partner, Cack to help his business on a successful course. Cack's quick sense of humor gives him his own notoriety for hurling insults at the golf range's customers while using his specially designed golf carts. This is one instance where hurling insults is all in good fun. The business has doubled and the customers all enjoy it.

Molly is a Washington political correspondent who wants to learn how to golf and may be finding more than just golf skills. Molly suggests to Chris that he should allow political groups to poke fun of each other and the idea catches on. Chris wants to date Molly however, will a long distance relationship really work for them? When Chris' business is a victim of arson, Molly uses her reasoning skills to help him find out who would want to see Chris out of business. Could it be one of the political parties in this election year, could it be the man whose business shares the other half of their leased property?

Finding clues and allowing time for pursuing Molly takes time. Will Chris find out that everything does work out for his best interest even though its not in the way he thought it would. Chapter after exciting chapter flows a wonderfully written story which will have you laughing and feeling for this young entrepreneur every step of the way. Instead of yelling "Fore" like in playing golf, when you reach the last chapter you will be yelling "More!" I certainly hope Ray Blackston writes more stories like this one.


Author: Karen Kingsbury
Tyndale House Publsihers, Inc.
ISBN: 978-0-8423-8749-1, $13.99, 2008.
Reviewed for Reader Views.

Many changes have taken place in the Baxter family! Some of them very good and are happy memories while others are not. Just like in normal every day life there are some experiences which we would rather not have to live through. Landon and Ashley have recently faced the birth and death of their daughter Sarah. The whole Baxter family rallies around the family who has two young boys.

John Baxter is facing one of the biggest decisions of his life. He has been a widower for a number of years losing his beloved wife and mother of his 6 children. Elaine has been there for him through this time of adjustment. Their relationship has grown into something which he would like to be a permanent part of his life. However, he is scared, how will the children react and is he still too much in love with his first wife to move on? He is looking for answers and approval from his kids. He has been preserving the kids' memories of their mother by putting together a scrapbook of pictures and copies of the letters which Elizabeth wrote to them through the years.

Dayne and Katy are now married. However, the honeymoon doesn't last nearly long enough. Like any newlyweds, reality is going to have to set in. But their life is anything but normal because Dayne is a popular movie star who is constantly being hounded by the paparazzi. To make matters worse, Katy is working on a film in London while Dayne is in Cobo San Lucas for a number of weeks. When the tabloids get ahold of a picture of Dayne's sexy young co-star and ex-girlfriend of Dayne's is pictured with a man in a provocative situation. Rather than giving him the benefit of the doubt, the tabloids exploit the situation. It puts the lifelong vows to Katy being questioned. Can their love survive? Is it possible that it was just someone who might have looked like Dayne in the pictures?

The theater which housed the Christian Kids Theater is due to demolition. Can the Baxters and the community of Bloomington, Indiana save an important landmark in their city? It would mean so much to the kids and those involved in the theater. What are God's plans for the family and the city?

"Someday" is an excellent book by the very talented author, Karen Kingsbury. This is a book which will have you glued from one chapter to another. You won't want to set the book down until you have finished every chapter. If you are looking for a book which will grip you and make you think about God's plan for your life and His ultimate control of every situation, this is the one you should select. Don't wait until some day to start this book. Start reading "Someday" today and you surely won't be disappointed!

Bejing Games

Beijing's Games: What the Olympics Mean to China
Susan Brownell
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
ISBN: 978-0-742505641-6, 2008.
Reviewed for Reader Views.

Why were the Chinese people all excited when it was announced that the 2008 Summer Olympics would be held in Beijing? Why was it so important to them? Sure, it is a major boost to their economy. What with all the people from all over the world coming to China to cheer on their children or country's athletes. It is more than money and people that will come to Beijing this year. It will be a first in all the years of the modern day Olympics.

China has never hosted an Olympic Games. China is not known to have many Olympic champions so the host country. In the last few Olympic games, China has accomplished their first medals of any color including Gold.

Susan Brownell has written both a brief history book about China and its customs but also an explanation about what impact more than financial these Olympics will bring to Beijing and China itself. The author uses her personal experience as a previous exchange student to China to bring her book to life. She has even competed in athletic events with Chinese women and can bring their stories about not having the advantages that men have. In recent years, more has come out about possible doping in order to make better athletes achieve even higher, she addresses some of the issues of performance enhancing drugs.

For anyone who will be watching any of the 2008 Olympic Games from Beijing this book is very good reading. Through the pages of this book, you will learn more about this Olympics history, host country, host city and their invitation to be the "people's olympics."

08/08/08 is the day the Olympics open in Beijing and history will be made!

The Essential Engstrom

The Essential Engstrom Proven Principles of Leadership
Ted W. Engstrom
Authentic Books
1820 Jet Stream Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80921
ISBN: 978-1-934068-06-9, 2007.
Reviewed for Reader Views.

Some people are leaders, while others are better off being followers. From the time we are children we are already looking for others to be leaders. Who doesn't like to be at the start of the line in the popular game "Follow the Leader?" Are leadership traits just inherited are some people just born leaders or can true leadership traits be learned? If you are a leader who is looking for principles of leadership and possible ways you can become a better leader you need to check out "The Essential Engstrom."

Ted W. Engstrom uses his experiences as presdient, CEO and board member of some of the most successful and largest Christian organizations. Where did he get his knowledge about being a terrific leader. He starts with the book with the best ever leader, Jesus Christ. He uses Holy Scripture references to bring out how leadership principles can be utilized. The Bible has a wealth of leaders in both the Old and New Testaments. There are certain characteristics that most all proven and successful leaders have. Do you have what it takes?

"The Essential Engstrom" is a terrific resource for ministry leaders, leaders in the workplace who want to use successful Biblical principles to enhance their positions and teachers who want to instill strong leadership traits through their students. There are plenty of practical strategies within the pages of this book. Anyone can put these principles to use and not be toted as "preachy." "The Essential Engstom" is an essential resource for any leader in the church, workplace or any one who wants to eventually be placed in a place of leadership.

If you want to "Follow the Leader" you will definitely want to read and put Ted Engstrom's principles to use in growing your business relationships and ultimately your faith in your God-given abilities.

New York Brides

New York Brides
Pamela Griffin
Barbour Books
PO Box 719, Ulrichsville, OH 44683
ISBN: 978-1-59789-984-0, $10.95, 2007.
Reviewed for Reader Views, 03/08.

What do Eliza Doolittle and 2 children who survived the sinking of the Titantic have in common? These are just two similar stories to the ones inside "New York Brides." In "Heart Appearances," our young heroine is not named Eliza but instead Darcy Evans. She talks much like Eliza and is placed under the care of the harsh schoolmaster Brent Thomas who does not see himself as much of a Henry Higgins type man. Will Darcy be able to break through his tough outer shell and discover that inside Brent has a heart of gold and eager for true love to impact it?

"A Gentle Fragrance" is a gentle story of a young man named Bill Thomas who has to let go of his past and focus on his present and his future. Set in 1921, he is enlisted to escort a missionary's daughter from the South Pacific to New York. What happens along the way is truly God's plan as Sarah La Rue and he travel alongside each other to another location and another time in their life. When God is at the control, no one can stand in the way, not even those who think they have complete control over every aspect of their lives.

Peter Caldwell and Melissa Reynolds are survivors. They had survived the sinking of the Titantic. They may have been on a sinking ship but the waters continue to get very rocky but just as clouds have silver linings, the waves will subside and something truly beautiful will result. They need to take "A Bridge Across the Sea" and discover what lies before them and if they will share more than just their past together.

This is an excellent book for anyone who likes historical romances. There are plenty of historical facts presented in 3 beautifully crafted storylines. "New York Brides" of days gone by are her for today's readers to enjoy and embrace!