biography, Christian, literary

Becoming Mrs. Lewis (Expanded Edition)

Author: Patti Callahan
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Historical fiction / Biographical novel / Christian
ISBN: 978-0-7852-1809-8
Pages: 448
Price: $17.99

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When Joy Davidman Gresham wrote to C.S. Lewis for the first time, she was seeking answers to her newfound questions of faith. Born Jewish, and an avowed atheist, she was confused at her sudden knowledge of the presence of God in her life. Over time, letters between the two became more personal and conversational, and Joy began to see Lewis as more than a friend and confidant. Becoming Mrs. Lewis shares a fictionalized account of their friendship, and ultimately romance, that took place over a decade.

Patti Callahan drew on many sources for this masterful recreation of their unlikely love story. Joy and Jack (as he was known to his friends) come alive in this well-written tale. Their story is compelling, and the reader is eager to get to know them better. Bonuses in this expanded edition include discussion questions, an imagined letter from Joy to Jack, a timeline of events in their lives, ten things you probably didn’t know, and some information about Oxford.

This is one of the best biographical novels I’ve read, and I couldn’t put this book down. I had to know how this romance would end, since I was unfamiliar with their story. I highly recommend Becoming Mrs. Lewis.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


Fresh from Poland

Author: Michał Korkosz
Publisher: The Experiment
Genre: Cookbook / Polish / Vegetarian
ISBN: 978-1-61519-655-5
Pages: 256
Price: $19.95

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When I think of Polish cooking, the first things that come to mind are kielbasa and pierogies. While I absolutely love them, there is so much more to authentic Polish cuisine than I ever realized. Fresh from Poland shares some yummy vegetarian dishes for us to enjoy.

No Polish cookbook would be complete without pierogies, and a basic dough recipe is provided along with several intriguing and unusual fillings. For those who want to make their own farmer’s cheese, a recipe for twaróg shows us how. Various bread recipes tempt us, along with scrumptious desserts like pączki and angel wings. The main dishes and sides are filling, nutritious, and tasty, made from all natural ingredients.

Fresh from Poland is natural Polish cooking at its best. The recipes are carefully itemized, and there are full color photos of every dish. The book opens fully, remaining open on the table for ease of reference while cooking. Whole foods are prepared in delicious combinations to create a wonderful feast for the senses. I highly recommend this cookbook for any home chef who is interested in exploring some delightful new Polish dishes.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

children, nature

Garden Jungle

Author & Illustrator: Hélène Druvert
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
Genre: Children / Nature
ISBN: 978-0-500-65224-4
Pages: 32
Price: $24.95

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Tom is bored, so his mother sends him off to explore the garden. After a butterfly catches Tom’s attention, he and the cat begin to explore. Trees, birds, animals, and a pond suddenly turn into a jungle, and even the cat is now a leopard. What once seemed ordinary, now looks so much more interesting, as they see the sights together.

This unique book contains several pages with laser-cut silhouette images showing the garden as Tom sees it. These pages are gorgeous in their detail, but small hands will have a hard time handling them gently. Parents will want to supervise while children read this book, or even hold the book themselves to preserve the fine cutouts.

Children will delight in reading Garden Jungle as they see the ordinary come alive in new and exciting ways. They may even want to turn into backyard adventurers, themselves. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


What I Like About Me

Author: Jenna Guillaume
Publisher: Peachtree Publishing Co.
Genre: Young Adult
ISBN: 978-1-68263-160-7
Pages: 304
Price: $17.99
Kindle Price as of today: $2.99

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Maisie Martin was looking forward to her vacation, until she was given the school assignment to keep a journal while away. Recording her thoughts seems so silly, but soon she finds that she looks forward to writing, especially when the vacation takes some unexpected twists.

Boy trouble, best friend trouble, parent trouble, and sibling trouble would definitely be enough to drive a teen girl mad, but when she suddenly finds herself entering a beauty pageant, things get really out of control. Maisie has always considered herself unattractive because she’s overweight, and hiding her body has been more comfortable than seeking attention. But when a teen boy tells her he finds her beautiful, she starts to wonder. Maybe being overweight isn’t reason enough to hide?

Maisie is such a fun character that teen girls will relate to. She’s spunky and definitely has a mind of her own, but she also has a sweet and caring side. All she really wants is to be accepted for who she is, and by the time this vacation is over, Maisie has even finally accepted herself, also. What I Like About Me is impossible to put down, as we share this wild ride of a vacation with Maisie.

WARNING: This book contains some adult themes including alcohol, nudity, and same-sex relationships.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

fitness, health

Yin Yoga

Author: Diane R. Paylor
Publisher: Rockridge Press
Genre: Yoga / Fitness
ISBN: 978-1-64611-245-6
Pages: 325
Price: $15.99

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Yin yoga works to stimulate the connective tissues in the body. It’s a slower paced practice, which emphasizes spending a long time in postures and cultivating stillness. Poses are generally held for three to five minutes, but can also be held for as long as twenty minutes.

Since most readers are unfamiliar with yin yoga, Diane R. Paylor explains the practice in some detail. She breaks down these various poses into two categories: Yin asanas, and Yang asanas. Sequences of several of these poses are grouped into Energy rising, Grounding, Body matters, and Seasonal practices. Each pose is featured on a two page spread. On one page, a casual ink and watercolor drawing of the pose is shown. The other page provides a step by step guide to going into and coming out of the pose. Modifications and variations, as well as contraindications are also given.

I was unfamiliar with Yin yoga, and wanted to give this a try. Some of the illustrations were a little hard to decipher, as a complete newbie to yoga, and I might have had an easier time with photographs. The stillness of this practice is soothing, making it a nice way to slow down and meditate at the beginning or end of the day. I highly recommend Yin Yoga for all who are looking to add a yoga practice to their lives.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

Amish fiction, romance

The Englisch Daughter

Author: Cindy Woodsmall & Erin Woodsmall
Publisher: WaterBrook
Genre: Amish fiction / Romance
ISBN: 978-0-7352-9102-7
Pages: 352
Price: $15.99

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Jemima is concerned about her husband’s actions. Roy has become increasingly distant from her, taking strange phone calls at all hours of the day, and making overnight trips for business. Their marriage seemed to change about a year ago, after an accident and a difficult pregnancy kept them apart for a while, and now it seems they’re unable to reconnect. And now an Englisch woman Roy dated during his rumschpringe is living in the family cottage. Jemima can’t help but wonder if something is going on.

Suddenly, Jemima finds out the cause of Roy’s mysterious behavior, and the evidence shocks her to the core. As a traditional Old Order Amish wife, her choices in this circumstance are limited, and she has to determine how much she’s willing to forgive. But as they begin to talk, Jemima finds her heart softening toward her husband.

The Englisch Daughter is one of the best Amish romances I’ve ever read. Not only is it a beautiful story of reconciliation between an estranged husband and wife, but it’s also an amazing story of forgiveness and unconditional love in its highest form. I was really blown away by how good this story is and I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


Only You Can Be You

Author: Nathan and Sally Clarkson
Illustrator: Tim Warnes
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
ISBN: 978-1-4002-1143-2
Pages: 32
Price: $16.99

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If children feel they’re different from everyone else, they might not feel like they fit in. Or worse, they may even believe they’re not good enough. But Only You Can Be You says that’s just not true.

Kids may be loud or shy. Tall or short. Funny or wishful. Tough or tender. Each personality characteristic is illustrated to show them in a positive light. There are no two children just the same, and it’s their differences that make them uniquely themselves. “Everyone’s different, and that’s okay. The Maker of everything made us that way.”

This delightful book celebrates everyone’s special uniqueness, reminding them that God didn’t make a mistake – He created them just the way they are. What a wonderful, hope-filled message for kids!

Reviewer: Alice Berger