Monday, October 22, 2007

No Experts Needed

No Experts Needed
Louise Lewis
iUniverse, Inc., 2007.
Reviewed by Lori Plach for Reader Views (10/07

Losing a job has probably happened to everyone at least once in their lifetimes. Do you see losing your job as devastating or an opportunity to discover something different in your life? It all depends on how you lok at it. Louise Lewis had lost her job of eleven years. There were all the emotional and financial concerns to get through. She had a mortgage which required paying and needed to get back on her feet again. Where do you go for comfort when a blow likes one gets delivered to you.

Louise decides to embrace life and find out just what life means. Through many interviews with people and getting their definitions of life, a book is born. Sometimes people are brought into our life for just a time and for a specific purpose. There is comfort in the Scriptures as noted many times throughout the text of this book.

"No Experts Needed" is more than just a book in dealing with job loss. It is a book of self-discovery, insights into what life is and how to make the most of every opportunity as it is presented. The book doesn't bring out the expert's advice but rather everyday people who share what they believe and how they face the bumps along the road of life. If you catch yourself wondering just what life means, you can come to your own decisions. There are truly "no experts needed" when making life what you want it to be.

A New Promise

A New Promise
Julie Eller
Tate Publishing & Enterprises, 2007.
Reviewed by Lori Plach for Reader Views 10/07.

Promises, promises. Everybody knows what a promise is and has probably made hundreds of them throughout their lifetime. When you get married in a Christian ceremony you are promising your spouse a lifetime commitment. The notorious words "till death do us part" are a part of this oath taken at the wedding. Scott Parnell has made his wife Rachel a lifelong commitment. They had fallen in love when in high school. They have been blessed with 2 children, teenage Tyler and 12 year old daughter Tawnya. How were they to know that Rachel would be stricken with Huntington's disease. Would he be able to remember his promise of "no tubes or wires to sustain life" that they had talked about years ago. Would he be able to let go when the time came?

Letting go is never easy, Its not an easy thing for Rachel's mother either letting go of her daughter. She is a well meaning grandmother who tries to help Scott with the kids but is out of touch in raising children in these troubled times in the 21st century. Tyler is in a rebellious state he doesn't want to lose his mother but doesn't want to show that her health condition bothers him. His best friend Dwight is dealing with some family problems of his own but will Tyler go that far to escape from reality. Tawnya is at a difficult time in her life. She is dealing with her adolescent problems and a grandmother who insists that she is too fat. She turns to a destructive lifestyle. Celeste is Rachel's younger sister who always wanted to trail along with Rachel and Scott during their courtship. Celeste has a successful career in Seattle and agrees to give Tawnya a female role model yet she has never been a parent much less in a serious relationship. As Tawnya and Celeste become closer, will Scott be able to keep from growing closer to Celeste too. They have both made promises to Rachel, will those promises be broken even as Rachel's life is deteriorating. Just how far will these promises keep the Parnell family from telling all the issues of their life.

"A New Promise" is an excellent book by a very talented new author Julie Eller. "A New Promise" encompasses many issues of the 21st century. The book is a must read for anyone who enjoys a great storyline and seeing how God works in people's lives for his purpose. Sometimes when faced with adversity, its easiest to blame God rather than see His blessings throughout your trials. Julie Eller has certainly used her God-given talents in order to show Christ's providence. I hope she writes more books in the near future. Pick up "A New Promise" soon, you certainly will enjoy it.

A Big Apple Christmas

A Big Apple Christmas
Vashti Reyes Acosta, Gail Sattler, Lynette Sowell, Carrie Turansky
Barbour Publishing, 2007.
ISBN: 978-1-59789-5
Reviewed for Reader Views, 10/07.

Every year about about a million people cram into Times Square in New York City on New Years' Eve, while another billion TV viewers tune in to watch the ball drop and a new year to begin. There are bound to be plenty of stories of people who venture to New York City to take in all the lights, sounds and activities of the holiday season. "A Big Apple Christmas" gives you four stories of people who ventured to New York not for love but find themselves enjoying being in one of the United States busiest cities.

In "Moonlight and Mistletoe"" Sarah Montgomery has made friends with her neighbor in her apartment building. Lillian is an elderly lady with a big heart and way too much stuff. After Lillian's accident, Justin comes to help with Grandma's things. He hires Sarah to organize Grandma's belongings. How can he take this much time off in order to help Grandma, doesn't he even work? Why is he offended when Sarah tries to rid Grandma's home from children's poetry books?

In "Shopping for Love," Emily Jones just wants to forget Brian. She has been burned in a relationship and just needs some rest and relaxation so she takes off to New York City. The farthest thing from her mind is literally falling into the arms of another Bryan. Why won't this Bryan just leave her be, but every chance he gets he invites her to go shopping and seeing the sights?

"Where the Love Light Gleams" is a heartwarming story of Gwynn Michaud's trip to New York to see a tree from her land be the centerpiece of Rockefeller Center. As chance would have it, her daughter's roomate Maline is from New York and offers to house Gwynn during her stay in the Big Apple. Theophilius Stellaki is Maline's father and is a cranky professor but being a proper gentleman offers to accompany Gwynn to the lighting ceremony. Will he end up escorting her to more than just a tree lighting?

"Gifts from the Magi" is by far one of the most romantic stories I have ever read. Elias Perez is youth pastor at the church where he grew up. Cecilla was one of the few girls who didn't make fun of Elias and his being sickly when they were kids. Throughout the Christmas season, the two work together on many projects. He's a friend to her so she asks who would possibly be giving her all these anonymous gifts like 2 dove candy bars and 4 cell phone pictures of pigeons.

Once reading "A Big Apple Christmas" you won't be watching the ball drop on New Years quite the same way. Maybe there are stories like this one developing out there on Times Square. Even if you can't make it to New York to celebrate Christmas this year, you still can enjoy "A Big Apple Christmas!"

God Is In the Small Stuff at Christmas

God Is In the Small Stuff at Christmas
Bruce Bickel & Stan Jantz
Barbour Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-59789-671-9, $12.97, 2007.
Reviewed for Reader Views 10/07.

Do you feel that there is no more Christ in the celebration of Christmas? People already have Christmas lights lit around their house the night after Halloween. The stores are already pushing Christmas materialism in late summer. It seems like the big push for Christmas comes earlier each year. Many houses do not even have a nativity set outside with all their other outdoor decorations.

There are 41 different sections in "God is in the Small Stuff at Christmas." Such topics as Advent, Prepare Him Room, Christmas Carols, Lights and Peace and many more are explored. Each chapter is only a few pages long which makes it ideal to keep handy during the hustle and bustle of the season. At the end of each chapter is about 5 statements or suggestions in keeping Christ in Christmas. Just taking a break and reading a chapter will certainly life your sprits and remind you that Jesus is the Reason for the Season.

"God is in the Small Stuff at Christmas" would make an excellent gift for a close friend, loved one or someone who needs to reflect to reflect on what is truly important in a non-threatening way. Portions of this book could easily be shared at Christmas parties and church get-togethers. God is truly in the small stuff at Christmas. May your celebration of Christmas center around the baby in the manger this year and always.