Tag Archives: nonfiction

Book Review: Second-Chance Dogs

9 Oct

Everyone loves an underdog, and nothing gives us warmer feelings than seeing someone get a second chance in life. A problem pup who flourishes under the right kind of training. The struggling veteran who finds unconditional love wiggling around at the end of a leash. The lonely child who finds comfort in the steady breathing of the warm, furry friend at her side. Each of us needs to be rescued from something — and each of us has the capacity to rescue someone, or something, else.

This collection of more than thirty contemporary, true, feel-good stories spotlights the beauty of being rescued — dogs rescued by people, people rescued by dogs, and even dogs who rescue other animals. It’s the perfect companion — well, besides the four-legged, tail-wagging kind — for your morning cup of coffee or an evening curled up on the couch. Contributors include Susy Flory, Dusty Rainbolt, Lauraine Snelling, Melody Carlson, Wanda Dyson, Suzanne Woods Fisher, and many more.

Callie Smith Grant is the editor of The Cat in the Window, The Dog Next Door, The Cat on My Lap, The Dog at My Feet, and The Horse of My Heart. She is the author of several nonfiction books for young readers and adults as well as many animal-themed stories and poems which can be seen in Guideposts anthologies and in magazines such as Small Farmer’s Journal.

 

My Impressions: 

If you like a good dog story, then you are going to love Second-Chance Dogs, a collection of personal stories that share special thoughts about rescue dogs. And when I say rescue dogs, I mean more than a shelter dog. Yes, all of the beloved dogs in the more than 30 stories started their second lives as rescues, they did a lot to rescue their humans. In this book you’ll meet Rusty Dog who brought two people together and taught them to love and trust again. There’s also Jazzy who taught her human about God’s great gift of rest. And there are so many more heartwarming encounters that are found within the pages of this book. Each story is just a few pages, but the messages will stay with you for a long time. I think Second-Chance Dogs is the perfect book for family reading time. You will probably find yourself talking about more than the dogs highlighted in each story. And don’t be surprised if you and your family start longing for another faithful member to join you! 😉  The book is great for when you have limited reading time, but be prepared for one more story.

Recommended.

Audience: adults (but good for family time too)

To purchase, click HERE.

(Thanks to Revell for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

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Book Spotlight, Guest Post, + A Giveaway!: Made Like Martha by Katie M. Reid

12 Jul

An invitation for overachievers to discover what it means to rest as God’s daughters without compromising their God-given design as doers.

Though she didn’t sit at Jesus’s feet like her sister Mary, biblical Martha was loved just as she was — and you are too. This practical resource invites modern-day Marthas to sit down spiritually as they exchange try-hard striving for hope-filled freedom without abandoning their doer’s heart in the process. Doers need to be affirmed in their innate design to do rather than sit, yet also be reminded that they don’t have to overdo it in order to be worthy. This book is not an exhortation to add or subtract things off your to-do list, but it is an invitation to embrace the “good” of the Good News. Here is an offer to step into your position as a daughter of God and to enjoy life as a doer.

Katie M. Reid is an author, speaker, and singer who encourages others to find grace in the unraveling of life at katiemreid.com. Her first book, Made Like Martha: Good News for the Woman Who Gets Things Done, released on July 10, 2018 (published by WaterBrook). Katie’s writing style is transparent, poetic, and reflective. She has published articles through: Focus on the Family, HuffPost, MOPS, LifeLines, iBelieve, and LightWorkers and is a contributor in Tales of Our Lives: Reflection Pond and the Five Minute Friday book. Her album, Echoes of My Heart, is also available for purchase. Katie delights in her hubby, five children, and their life in ministry. Hot or iced tea and cut-to-the-chase conversations are a few of her favorite things.

 

Guest Post by Katie M. Reid

While we don’t know for sure, there is speculation that Martha and Mary, the famous sisters from Bethany (see Luke 10:38-42), were either orphaned (and not yet married), widowed (and not yet remarried), or a part of a celibate Jewish sect. (1)

Regardless, in Luke 10:40, it seems that Martha exhibited a mindset that is often associated with the orphan spirit, when she talks about feeling like she has been left alone to do the work. 

But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

I don’t know about you, but as a women who identifies with Martha, I can relate to feeling like it’s all up to me to get things done. I can be resentful of others when they don’t help out in the way I think they should. Sometimes, I even get frustrated with God when He doesn’t show up in the way or timing that I think is best. 

Another characteristic of the orphan spirit (or the hired help mentality as I like to call it) is that you serve to earn the Father’s love. But the good news is that Jesus offers us grace — a gift to be received, not a prize to be earned. His love for us is settled on the cross, and it is not dependent on how many items we cross off our to-do list.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. — Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV) 

Martha was designed to be a doer (which is a good thing) yet she did not have to work from a place of striving and anxiousness. And the same is true for us. Yes, there are good works prepared for us to do, but those works are not what make us worthy. 

We exchange our hired help mentality for a beloved daughter’s mentality, when we realize who we are in light of who God is: accepted, forgiven, and delighted in. Then, we serve — not from a place of striving and fret — but from a place of strength and peace; knowing that Jesus has not left us alone but adopted us forever. 

Learn how your soul can be at rest, even when your hands are busy, in Katie’s new book, Made Like Martha: Good News for the Woman Who Gets Things Done. A bonus 5-week bible study (for individuals and groups) is included. 

 (1) Source: https://margmowczko.com/martha-mary-and-lazarus-of-bethany/

 

Giveaway!

Thanks to Waterbrook, I have a copy of Made Like Martha to give away! Just leave a comment to enter. (US only.) The winner will be randomly selected July 19, 2018.

Book Spotlight: Imperfect Courage

31 May

Unfortunately, I can’t read every book out there. Because, well, life. LOL! But when I get a book that looks really interesting, but can’t fit it into my reading schedule, I like to spotlight it for my readers. Imperfect Courage by Jessica Honegger is one such book. Take a look!

 

The founder of the popular fair trade jewelry brand Noonday Collection shares her story of starting the rapid-growing business that impacts over 4,400 artisans in vulnerable communities across the globe and invites readers on a journey of transformation, challenging them to trade their comfort zones for a life of impact and adventure.

In 2015, Inc. magazine recognized Noonday Collection as one of the fastest-growing companies in America. Years earlier, as Jessica Honegger stood at a pawn-shop counter in Austin, Texas, and handed over her grandmother’s gold jewelry, her goal was personal: to fund the adoption of her Rwandan son, Jack, by selling artisan-made jewelry. This first step launched an unexpected side-hustle that would grow into Noonday Collection. She embarked on this new journey and teamed up with her first artisan partner, Jalia, a Ugandan jewelry maker. She saw the meaningful impact Noonday brought to Jalia’s community and knew it was the right move. Fear crept into Jessica’s heart as she realized her success, or failure, meant the same for Jalia. Refusing to let fear hinder her goals, Jessica found the necessary (if imperfect) courage she needed along the way–the courage to leave comfort and embrace a life of risk and impact. In Imperfect Courage, Jessica invites you to draw a circle of compassion around yourself and leads you through soul-searching aimed at setting you free from shame. Next, she challenges you to come together, risking all for each other and commit to building a culture of collaboration. Finally, Jessica calls on you to broaden your circles of compassion to embrace the entire globe–and to bring that cultivation of imperfect courage to a world that deeply needs you.

Jessica Honegger is the founder of Noonday Collection, a fair-trade jewelry company that partners with artisans across the globe to create unique and hand-made pieces of jewelry. She and Noonday work to empower women from a wide variety of communities and cultures to create their own, thriving businesses by partnering with Noonday as an artisan or ambassador. Jessica lives in Austin with her husband and children.

 

(Thanks to Waterbrook/Multnomah for a complimentary copy.)

 

Blog Blitz — More Than These

12 May

More Than These blitz

Welcome to the More Than These blog blitz and giveaway, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

ABOUT THE BOOK

more than theseTitle: More Than These
Author: June Kimmel
Publisher: Ambassador International
Release Date: May 11, 2018
Genre: Christian, NonFiction, Women’s Issues

More Than These: A Woman’s Love for God addresses the question that every woman who desires to walk with God must face. How can a woman love God as she should and keep the rest of her life in its proper place? Innumerable responsibilities fill her life and seek to take control of her time, energy, and focus. In spite of her best intentions, these worthy concerns can slip into a place of prominence in her heart-a place only God deserves. These people and situations that capture her love can quickly become idols when priorities go unchecked.

More Than These: A Woman’s Love for God addresses the issue of a woman’s love for God. Each chapter considers a different aspect of a woman’s life that can become an idol-family, friends, possessions, fears, accomplishments, etc. More Than These: A Woman’s Love for God clearly presents biblical truths and personal illustrations to teach why a woman must surrender these areas to the Lord for Him to remain her ultimate love.

Women are searching for the secret to balancing their lives. More Than These: A Woman’s Love for God declares that loving God supremely is the answer.

PURCHASE A COPY: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

june kimmel

June Kimmel is a pastor’s wife, author, mother of three, and grandmother of seven! She and her husband have been in ministry for over forty years. June’s greatest joy is teaching God’s Word to ladies of all ages and walks of life. She regularly speaks at ladies’ conferences and retreats, educators conferences, and other special events in the United States and internationally. Through their ministry, Training the Nations, June and her husband are training pastors, their wives, and Christian educators around the world.

CONNECT WITH AUTHOR: Website | Facebook | Twitter

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

EXCERPT

For the first time in my life, I realized my definition of obedience was inadequate for what I was facing.

My excitement was genuine as we anticipated the new ministry, but the agony of my heart overwhelmed and overshadowed what the Lord was giving us. Our son was leaving for Spain to study for the semester. When he returned in June, we would be gone. Our daughters and their families would no longer be nearby. The thoughts of the many miles that would separate us seemed to crush my grieving heart. Yet I knew this was God’s call. There was no option but to follow.

I turned to the Bible, and there in His love and faithfulness God met me.

(from pg. 10 of More Than These by June Kimmel)


more than these blitz giveaway

GIVEAWAY

Ambassador International is giving away:

Grand Prize: (1) print copy of More Than These (US Only)
PLUS 5 more winners will receive an ebook copy of More Than These (open internationally, except where prohibited by law)

Enter via the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Giveaway will begin at midnight May 12, 2018 and last through 11:59pm May 19, 2018. Winners will be notified within a week of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

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tour schedule

LAUNCH @ JustRead

Book Reviews by Steph
Remembrancy
Bookworm Mama
Singing Librarian Books
All-of-a-Kind Mom
The Fizzy Pop Collection
Edits and Reviews by Leslie
Maureen’s Musings
By the Book
Reflections From My Bookshelves
Reading Is My SuperPower

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Book Spotlight: A Pair of Miracles (A Story of Autism, Faith, And Determined Parenting)

3 Apr

Did you know that April is Autism Awareness Month? Because of this, I wanted to help get the word out about what autism really is and how it affects not only the individual but the whole family. Karla Akins has written a book reflecting on what it is like to raise children with autism. To find out more about Karla, her kids, and their journey with autism, check out the blurb and the excerpt below.

 According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated one in 68 children has been identified with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Although a growing number of parents face similar circumstances, many still feel isolated and alone. In A Pair of Miracles: A Story of Autism, Faith, and Determined Parenting (Kregel Publications), author Karla Akins, the mother of twin sons with autism, offers encouragement and reassurance.

It was not long after Akins and her husband brought their adopted sons home from the hospital they realized the boys were not behaving and developing as they should. A few months later they learned the boys were on the fetal alcohol disorders spectrum, and by the time they were four, they were diagnosed with autism. Twenty years ago, autism was not as prevalent as it is today, and Akins admits she knew nothing about it. 

When she voiced her hopes her autistic sons could learn to read and function independently, doctors warned her those expectations would never be met. Despite those warnings, she set out to prove all things are possible through God.

Laced with humor and compassion, A Pair of Miracles is the heartwarming story of the Akins family’s journey of raising Isaac and Isaiah. However, the book is more than a moving biography from a mom on the front lines. It is a powerful tool, full of practical help for parents, educators and church members working with children who have intellectual disabilities, speech impairments and other limitations on the autism spectrum. It is also a challenge to the church to welcome and celebrate all of its members, no matter their abilities.

“I hope families and caregivers will be encouraged by reading about our journey and might gain a few ideas on how to work with their child,” shares Akins. “I also hope they will feel like they’re not alone in the struggle. I know I like to read books that validate what I’m feeling. It’s always good to know you’re not the only one in the trenches, fighting the good fight of day-to-day survival with autism.”

For parents seeking hope, answers and peace, Akins leads the way to all three down a path she’s already been. In addition to the inspiration, lessons learned and advice for becoming your child’s best advocate in all aspects of life given throughout the book, she includes appendices, offering: therapy and teaching strategies, listings of autism organizations and websites, skills checklists and suggestions for additional reading resources and online apps.

Thanks in large part to Akins’ determination, faith and unconditional love, her adult twins are now able to function independently in many ways, contrary to doctors’ predictions. They help their dad install pools, do carpentry work and serve in the church as ushers, sound engineers and children’s ministry workers. However, she warns, “Autism is different in every person. It’s a spectrum disorder, which means people fall on a wide spectrum. Remember all children are unique, no matter what their ability or diagnosis, and a diagnosis is not who they are. They are children and people first. They just happen to have a label.” 

Learn more about A Pair of Miracles at www.KarlaAkins.com.

To purchase, click HERE.

Karla Akins is the mother of five, including twin sons with autism. She has a bachelor’s in special education from Western Governors University and a doctorate in Christian education from Kingsway Theological Seminary. She has nearly four decades of teaching experience in homeschooling, private school and public education. 

Akins has also served in ministry for more than 30 years and is co-minister at Christian Fellowship Church in North Manchester, Indiana, with her husband, Eddie. She is also a popular speaker at conferences and retreats. In addition to A Pair of Miracles: A Story of Autism, Faith, and Determined Parenting, Akins is the author of four other books. 

Akins loves hearing from her readers. Her online home is www.KarlaAkins.com, and she is also on Facebook (KarlaKAkins) and Twitter (@KarlaAkins). 

Excerpt

(Excerpt from the chapter “What is Autism?” from A Pair of Miracles by Karla Akins ©2017 by Kregel Publications.)

When the doctors first diagnosed my twin boys with autism in 1998, the only thing I knew about it was the character Dustin Hoffman played in the movie Rain Man. It sounds incredible, but I honestly wasn’t aware that there was a diagnosis for people with developmental disabilities who acted as my boys did. Society was just beginning to be more aware of a growing group of behavioral characteristics called autism. Looking back on people I knew growing up, I can now understand that they may have had autism, when I thought they were intellectually disabled. I didn’t understand that, just because someone couldn’t express themselves, it didn’t mean they weren’t intelligent.

Defining Autism

When my boys turned two, I realized that something wasn’t “right” with them. They spent most of their time biting themselves and each other, screaming, and hitting me. They didn’t play with toys and were just learning to walk. They didn’t babble and only cried. It was a constant guessing game trying to figure out what they wanted. They were simply miserable.

So was I.

All I had at my fingertips for support was a rickety, 1980s-era IBM personal computer. As a pastor’s wife, isolation was an issue for me. Because of my husband’s church position, I couldn’t openly share what we were going through as a family (I’ll share more about that later).

That’s how I wound up in an AOL autism chat room, filled to the brim with mamas and grandmas who had children with autism. In those days, proper citizens didn’t post selfies and Facebook was nonexistent. (Founder Mark Zuckerberg was then only thirteen years old.) Most people protected their privacy, so it was easy to remain anonymous. I spent hours every evening sharing my struggles and reading about others who fought the same battles. It was truly a blessing from the Lord to make these new friends. I don’t know how I would have managed otherwise.

What I learned from my desperate search for answers is that autism was, and continues to be, a complex condition not easily understood by researchers. Even though they had gathered and studied data, it was fragmented. There were (and continue to be) as many disagreements on how to interpret the data as there were ideas about how to treat it.

Since the twins were born in 1995, technology has advanced from landlines to cell phones and wireless computing. NASA has landed a rover on Mars. We’ve seen the invention of the artificial heart, YouTube, and iPads. You’d think there would be more progress regarding how science perceives autism, but there isn’t. Experts are still puzzled about the disorder and there are no one-size-fits-all answers.

However, the signs to look for in a young child have remained consistent. According to the United States Centers for Disease Control, a toddler with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) might:

• not look at what a parent points to

• not notice or point to unusual objects, such as an airplane flying overhead

• avoid eye contact

• play alone

• not be aware when people talk to them

• repeat or echo words instead of answering questions appropriately

• repeat actions over and over again

• have trouble with transitions

• be oversensitive to smells, tastes, textures, or water that touches the skin

• lose skills they once had (such as language)

• not play “pretend” games, such as feeding a doll or playing house

• prefer not to be cuddled or held, except on their own terms

If your child or grandchild has any of these symptoms, I urge you to make an appointment with your child’s pediatrician and ask for a referral to a developmental pediatrician or developmental psychiatrist. The earlier your child begins appropriate therapies, the better the chance of “rewiring” their brain.

A Neurological Condition

People with autism vary in IQ. They are not all cognitively impaired. In fact, some have quite high IQs. Autism has nothing to do with intelligence. It is a brain-based, neurological condition. It has less to do with psychology and more to do with biology. It is not a mental illness. It is a developmental disability that appears during the first three years of life, is five times more prevalent in boys than in girls, and respects no racial, ethnic, or social boundaries. Family income, lifestyle, or education levels have no effect on its occurrence.

Autism is often referred to as an “invisible disease” because you can’t see autism by just looking at a person. But if you watch someone with autism, you may see that they interact, behave, and learn differently than most people. This spectrum is extremely broad and ranges from those with giftedness to the severely challenged. Some adults with autism can live independently, while others need constant supervision and support.

This brain disorder affects a person’s ability to communicate, reason, and interact with others. The fact that it’s a spectrum disorder (meaning it affects a wide range of conditions) makes it even more difficult to treat and understand because it affects individuals differently and to varying degrees of severity. As with my adopted twins—who were also diagnosed with fetal alcohol disorder, apraxia (an inability to manage coordinated movements, including their speech), and intellectual disability—autism is often found in combination with other disabilities.

Book Review: Service Tails

30 Aug

51Xq6jSY-cL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Not all heroic dogs wildly toss themselves into lifesaving situations. Some save lives simply by their incredible commitment to duty and service. Some lead the way to independence for people whose disabilities were supposed to limit their lives.

In Service Tails: More Stories of Man’s Best Hero, prolific author Ace Collins introduces us to leaders whose entire lives are wrapped in the banner of service. Their stories are remarkable snapshots of the value of vision and teamwork, as well as devotion to duty and unconditional love and acceptance – stretching the way we see both canine and human potential. Their training was intense, their loyalty unquestioned and each step of the way they constantly adapt to better serve those they lead. These unforgettable dogs are more than heroes; they are models from which we can learn how to love and serve unconditionally.

 

ACollins-382Ace Collins defines himself as a storyteller. He has authored more than sixty books that have sold more than 2.5 million copies. His catalog includes novels, biographies, children’s works as well as books on history, culture and faith. He has also been the featured speaker at the National Archives Distinguished Lecture Series, hosted a network television special and does college basketball play-by-play. Ace lives in Arkansas.

Find out more about Ace at http://acecollins.com.

 

My Impressions:

Dogs have long been given the distinction as Man’s (and Woman’s) Best Friend. Nowhere is that better seen than in the relationship between a person and his service dog. Ace Collins has written an eye-opening and inspiring book featuring the selfless dogs that have as their main focus service. Service Tails shares twelve true stories of dogs who have opened doors and restored hope to their owners. The men and women depicted in the stories have a variety of challenges — blindness, deafness, mobility issues — yet all benefitted from the marriage between man and dog. In fact that is one of the major themes running throughout Service Tails. Man and dog become one to break down barriers, relieve loneliness, regain full life and fulfill long held dreams. The first story features Buddy, the first service dog in the United States and the catalyst for the movement here in America. The last story is particularly poignant as it features Salty, a dog whose long service was heartbreakingly ended. But these stories all have great endings in which fierce human determination and canine loyalty and intelligence unite.

My husband is a veterinarian and has seen first hand how the human-dog bond can restore hope. He has several clients with service dogs who have dedicated their lives to their human friends. If you love dogs, dog stories, or just a triumph of spirit, then Service Tails is for you.

Recommended.

Audience: teens to adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to LitFuse and Abingdon for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Giveaway!

Celebrate the release of Service Tails with Ace by entering to win the Take-Your-Dog-to-the-Park Pack!
service-tails-400-2
One grand prize winner will receive:
A copy of Service Tails
A copy of Man’s Best Hero
A dog blanket
A dog leash
A dog-cape towel
A dog bandana
A dog toy
Dog treats

service-tails-prize-collage

Enter today by clicking HERE, but hurry! The giveaway ends on August 30. The winner will be announced August 31 on the Litfuse blog.

Page Turners Mini Reviews

13 Jun

My book club, Page Turners, is a diverse group of women with an eclectic taste in books. We read a combination of general market fiction, Christian fiction and non-fiction. We don’t always like the books we choose, often disagreeing on their merits, but always have a lively discussion. The following are my brief impressions on the books we have discussed so far this year

51Xjf4FMXbL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_In The Unlikely Event by Judy Blume. Set in the 1950s, this book takes as its focus fictional characters impacted by the real life events of multiple plane crashes in Elizabeth, New Jersey. There are lots of characters with multiple points of view. Most of my group did not like this book. I found it interesting, but skimmed the last quarter trying to get it finished before our meeting. Interestingly, one of our members is a pilot, having owned her own plane and competed in cross-country relays. We spent a lot of our discussion listening to her fascinating tales of flying solo. Our rating: 2.5 stars

UnknownThe Storied Life of A. J. Fickry by Gabrielle Zevin. This book got better reviews from our group. We loved the island bookstore setting, the references to books and short stories, and the complex characters. One member of the group mentioned that the story reminded her of Silas Marner. Our rating: 4 stars.

 

 

51hdFmoJ+TL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel. Only one of our members was familiar with this book before we read it. She had watched some of the TV show based on the book and liked it. However, she was surprised by how much she didn’t like the book. The feeling was unanimous. To me it read like a bad soap opera. I wanted more meat and less gossip. Our rating: 1 star.

 

We are discussing the Pulitzer Prize winning All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr this month.

Have you read it? What did you think?

 

(I purchased all the titles discussed in this post. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)