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6.28.2012

Five Miles South of Peculiar : Book Review


A brand new book from author Angela Hunt that I think you'll want to read.
My Review

Three sisters. One widowed and full of attitude. One quirky and naïve. The other a glamorous Broadway star. All so different, but so connected. In Five Miles South of Peculiar, by Angela Hunt, a 50th birthday party reunites twins Darlene and Carlene, and sister Nolie when Carlene returns to the family homestead, now occupied by her sisters. Secrets buried deep in the past have kept the women physically and emotionally separated for years. For three different reasons, each sister has a broken heart. Darlene has thrown herself into volunteer work to compensate for her sadness. Carlene stands at a crossroad wondering what to do now that her career has hopelessly and abruptly ended. She lost the love of her life years ago and never got over it. Nolie has immersed herself in sewing aprons as gifts for her neighbors and raising her dogs.

Each sister faces her own challenge and each has her own journey towards letting go of the past. It's a story of love, loss, betrayal and rivalry where each character seeks healing and forgiveness. The characters are interesting and engaging. Each is eccentric in her own way. It's a warm and endearing tale.

Most aspects of the story outcome were fairly predictable, but I really didn't mind, since this wasn't billed as suspense. I enjoyed watching the characters change and develop. Sometimes I just enjoy a book for the artistic portrayal of people and events, rather than the unexpected twists and turns. Angela Hunt knows how to deliver on intrigue by creating complex and multilayered relationships and she connects her readers emotionally to the story. She also knows how to weave in a subtle thread of faith without having it feel like someone pasted religion into the book.

I could see this made into a movie because it would be so fun to see these characters come to life. And the story line would be perfect for a movie. Reminds me of something like Steel Magnolias or Fried Green Tomatoes.

I highly recommend this for a fun summer read. I give it a solid 4 out of 5 stars.

I received a free review copy of this book from Howard Books.

About the Author
Angela Hunt PhotoWith nearly 4 million copies of her books sold worldwide, Angela Hunt is the bestselling author of more than one hundred books, including The Tale of Three Trees, Don't Bet Against Me, The Note, and The Nativity Story. Her nonfiction book Don't Bet Against Me, written with Deanna Favre, spent several weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. She and her husband make their home in Florida with their dogs. Learn more about Angela at AngelaElwellHunt.com.




6.16.2012

Book Review- Treasures of Healthy Living

Book Promo for Treasure of Healthy Living: "Get ready to get healthy God's way. There are dramatic health benefits when we eat the food God provides for us instead of the processed packaged food man provides. Since changing their diet in 2003, Annette and her husband have come off of all their prescriptions, lowered triglycerides from over 900 to 140, lowered cholesterol from 300 to 160, and lowered their blood pressure to normal." --from the publicist

I received a complimentary copy of the book Treasures of Healthy Living to review. I'll tell you a little more about it in my review. If you're looking for additional information, you'll find recipes, and lots of info on the Treasures of Healthy Living website.


Review of Treasures of Healthy Living

What does the Bible say about eating? Are there principles for general health to be found in scripture? In Treasures of Healthy Living, authors Annette Reeder and Dr. Richard Couey tackle the topic in a style that combines reference and Bible study.

This is a program in addition to a reference book. I'm reviewing this book, but there are additional books that make up the Treasure of Healthy Living program. There is a Healthy Treasures Cookbook, and a Treasures of Healthy Nutrition Manual that is available for the program. Throughout the book, the authors refer to topics to look up in one of these other books, as well as references to material on the website.

The program is divided into 12 weeks with each covering a topic related to nutrition and wellness. Those chapters are divided into daily assignments. Since I've only had the book for 2 weeks prior to the review date, I read straight through it without being able to actually take the time to do all the Bible study and do it as a 12-week program. It's also available with a DVD program and full leaders guide, as well as CD's (see the website).

Topics Covered:
•    Health
•    Beverages
•    Grains
•    Vegetables and fruits
•    Herbs, Spices, Vinegar
•    Protein and Meat
•    Fasting
•    Sweets
•    Toxins
•    Stress and Forgiveness
•    Exercise
•    The fullness of Christ and health

Daily assignments include reading and interactive assignments of filling in the blanks. Friday is a little different from the other days. It's called "Fabulous Foodie Friday" and it includes activities to do with a friend who is doing the same study and is an accountability partner.

I like the layout and the length of the studies for each day. It covers a broad array of topics and everything is well documented. I find a few of the Bible study questions to be just regurgitating the answers already given in the scripture I just read, but some ask the reader to apply the material to his or her own life. The scripture references relate to concepts about food, seasonings (salt, herbs, etc.), fasting, and more. The book talks about the "Daniel Challenge" where participants eat the way Daniel did for 21 days (fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, and water).

There are so many references to the other two books that it would have been helpful to have all of the materials in order to do a more complete review. This book in itself is not a weight loss book. Readers might lose weight be following some of the principles, but it isn't a diet book. It's more about examining what scripture says about food, eating and more.

It would be nice if there was a topical index in the back to make it easier to find specific topics in the book. But the chapter descriptions are helpful in relocating material that the reader wanted to see again.

Certain features are more helpful for the reader. The "digging deeper" sections contain additional assignments for ways the reader can continue to study the topics.

There are some topics in the book that readers will possible see as hot-button nutrition topics. For example, stevia and agave nectar. The authors promote both in the book, but I've seen research that shows these aren't the perfect foods either.

All in all, it's a pretty good book. The concept lacked a little pizzaz for me, but the content is helpful. The authors tried to lighten up some heavy topics by adding humorous anecdotes here and there. Since this book is just part of the whole program, I think I'd like to see the whole program in action to get an even better idea of what it's all about. 

About the Authors
Annette Reeder, a Biblical Nutrition Consultant, is leading people all around the country on an adventure with the power of food to change lives one meal and prayer at a time. Annette is a graduate of Liberty University and Huntington College Health Sciences and the founder of Designed Healthy Living a nutrition consulting ministry.

Dr. Richard "Dick" Couey is Professor Emeritus of Health Sciences as Baylor University. Dr. Couey has spent nearly 50 years studying the physiology of the cell. He has especially studies how nutrition, exercise, and stress affect the cell's biochemistry and physiology.

6.06.2012

Book Review: After All by Deborah Raney

What would it be like if you discovered your husband was cheating on you? What if you didn't suspect it until after his death? I just finished reading the novel After All, by Deborah Raney. Lead character, Susan Marlowe wonders about the woman who showed up at the graveside on the day of her husband's funeral, but she puts it out of her mind until the woman crosses her path again. In this third and final book in the Hanover Falls series, Susan continues to work through the grieving process while trying to keep the homeless shelter she runs from going bankrupt. She lost her husband 18 months ago in a tragic fire that also claimed the lives of several of his firefighter comrades, a blaze at her previous homeless shelter location. As Susan copes with her new life, she finds a friend in the single Fire Chief Peter Brennan.

My Review

I enjoyed the element of the unexpected that the author wove through the story. There's a mystery about the fire, even though police think they've figured out how it started. Just when I thought I'd figured it out, Raney threw in a twist. A little mystery, a little suspense, a dash of sweetness, and a big dollop of romance make this a satisfying novel.

What I loved: The relationships in the story are multi-layered, and the characters are interesting. I enjoyed the little quirks each had, for example, Pete's love of Tootsie Pops. This is a book about emotional healing and starting over. The theme of grace and redemption run through it. I also like that it's possible to pick up at this book in the series without having read the previous book.

What wasn't my favorite: This romance part of this book was a little more than I usually prefer. Nothing was inappropriate at all. It's just that it felt a little like a high school romance with "does he love me?" "Is she thinking of me?" "Does he like another girl?" That kind of stuff. I prefer if romance is a thread of the plot, but it doesn't take over. I'd say it's more of a style or taste thing, but I think the store could have been even deeper.

I enjoyed the book, and I've read one other book in this series. I recommend it for anyone who likes romantic suspense.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.

About the Author

Deborah Raney is the award- winning author of numerous novels, including A Nest of Sparrows and the RITA award-winning Beneath a Southern Sky and its sequel, After the Rains. Deborah's first novel, A Vow to Cherish, was the inspiration for World Wide Picture's highly acclaimed film of the same title, which in December 2004 aired on prime time network TV for the second time. Deb's novella, Playing by Heart, was a National Readers Choice Award winner and a 2004 Christy Award finalist. Her novel with Howard/Simon & Schuster, Yesterday's Embers, appeared on the ECPA Christian fiction bestseller list. Known for her sensitive portrayal of family struggles and relationships, Deb has also written nonfiction books and articles and often speaks at women's retreats and writers' conferences around the country. She and her husband, illustrator/author Ken Raney, have four children and make their home in Kansas. Learn more at www.deborahraney.com.

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