teen

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

Author’s website
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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

children

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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Illustrator’s website
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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

Christian

Refine & Restore


Author: Rachel C. Swanson
Publisher: FaithWords
Genre: Christian
ISBN: 978-1-5460-1344-0
Pages: 272
Price: $15.99

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If you’ve ever wondered Why does this Christian life feel so empty?, Rachel Swanson can sympathize. After years as a happy and fulfilled Christian, she sought answers for why she felt distant from God. Refine & Restore offers us a glimpse into her life story, and how she came to be in the place she suddenly found herself in.

Reviewing her life, Swanson realized that some of her own actions contributed to her unrest. Unhealthy friendships, body wars, lust, anxiety and depression are just some of the issues she faced in her past. But with prayer and faith in God, she made the decision to turn back to Him for healing. As she shares her own story, she gives us guidance and hope in moving away from the damaging worldly influences in our lives.

Swanson holds nothing back as she shares her own missteps along this journey. Refine & Restore is a breath of fresh air to those who also are living ordinary, mistake-filled lives – not the airbrushed, holy ones we often read about.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

cooking

The Quick & Easy Healthy Cookbook


Author: Carrie Forrest, MBA, MPH
Publisher: Rockridge Press
Genre: Cookbook
ISBN: 978-1-64152-963-1
Pages: 186
Price: $17.99

Author’s website
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Making the decision to switch to a whole foods diet can be difficult. Many recipes are time-consuming and complicated, making the assumption that you have access to specialized markets and exotic and super expensive ingredients. The Quick & Easy Healthy Cookbook provides simple recipes that are healthy and taste great, without requiring a huge investment in time and money.

This cookbook has 125 recipes that cover the major categories: breakfast, soups & salads, vegetarian main dishes, seafood, poultry, meat, snacks & sides, basics & extras, and desserts. Some of the yummy and super healthy ideas include Cinnamon-Raisin Breakfast Cookies, Sweet Potato & Chickpea Curry Bowls, Pineapple Turkey Burgers, and Edible Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.

Carrie Forrest runs a clean eating website that showcases even more of her healthy recipes. She has a master’s degree in public health nutrition, and knows how to prepare healthy food that isn’t a chore to create. The Quick & Easy Healthy Cookbook would be a great addition to any health conscious cook’s bookshelf.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

Christian

True Reflections


Author: Laura L. Smith
Genre: Christian devotional
Pages: 60
Price: $10.00

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God may have created us, but do we really know who we are? We may know our personalities, preferences, and occupations, but do we know who we are deep inside? In this 30 day devotional, Laura L. Smith guides us through an exploration of what the Bible says about who God created us to be.

Each of these thirty devotions is designed to be completed in one day. On one page, we’re given a Bible quote, followed by the author’s musings on the topic presented, and a probing question for us to ponder. The second page offers a reflection opportunity with lots of blank space for recording our thoughts. Finally, the devotion ends on a nugget of truth for us to hold onto as we go about our day.

The Bible offers so many great affirmations about our worth to God. This 30 day devotional will help us hold them close in our hearts. I highly recommend True Reflections.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

Christian

The Unknown God


Author: Mathew P. John
Publisher: David C. Cook
Genre: Christian
ISBN: 978-0-8307-8074-7
Pages: 208
Price: $17.99

The Mosaic Course
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God created humanity, and it’s no surprise to find that He’s active in all religions – not just Christianity. In The Unknown God, author Mathew P. John shares his perspective on these world religions and how they all point to Jesus as Messiah.

Having grown up in India, John has a unique perspective of witnessing several religious practices in his home country. He looks at Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Muslim, Jewish, and Christian beliefs in an attempt to show how Jesus appears in each, and how God is still using those religions to bring his people to Christ.

God sent a Gentile group of Wise Men in search of his beloved Son on the eve of his birth. These men had no Jewish upbringing, yet they knew that a Savior was to be born, as they set off to follow the star. The Unknown God provides a wonderful explanation as to how He’s still reaching the people who don’t yet know Him.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

mystery

Remember, Remember (A Sherlock Holmes & Lucy James Mystery #3)


Authors: Anna Elliott and Charles Veley
Publisher: Wilton Press
Genre: Mystery
ISBN: 978-0999119112
Pages: 350
Price: $12.99

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Lucy wakes up on the streets of London to Constable Jack Kelly’s insistent prodding. She’s right outside the museum entrance, and needs to leave as quickly as possible. All she seems to remember is being in danger, and she wanders off, feeling lost and disturbed. After a narrow escape, she finds herself back in the care of Constable Kelly, who has come to believe her story.

Finally, her memory returns, and she and her father, Sherlock Holmes, have a new problem to solve. How can they keep Jack safe, after he’s arrested for a murder he didn’t commit? An unexpected tip warns of a future calamity, and only their quick thinking can save the day for everyone involved.

Remember, Remember is a quick and fun read, drawing the reader into the story from the opening scene. Even though I read this out of sequence, I didn’t feel I missed out on anything important. This is the second book I’ve read in this Sherlock Holmes takeoff series, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how enjoyable they are. Lucy James is a spunky heroine with a sharp mind of her own, and I look forward to reading the rest of this series.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

children

Out of a Dark Winter’s Night


Author & Illustrator: Flora McDonnell
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-0-500-65195-7
Pages: 40
Price: $16.95

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A child is facing a very dark period in his life. He knows something is wrong, and he sets about trying to fix it. He struggles, gets tired, rests, but continues to hope. And finally, he finds the sun again.

Out of a Dark Winter’s Night was created as a gentle expression of the author’s own experience with anxiety and depression. However, kids may need some guidance in interpreting the images they see. Without understanding the subtle message, it’s very easy to take this book literally and see only a dark night. Children facing similar dark periods in their lives will find comfort in this book.

Reviewer: Alice Berger