Tag Archives: nonfiction

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!


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


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



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


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.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

tour schedule

LAUNCH @ JustRead

Book Reviews by Steph
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



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 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.


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.)


Celebrate the release of Service Tails with Ace by entering to win the Take-Your-Dog-to-the-Park Pack!
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


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.)


Book Review: Surviving Henry

6 Aug

723569You don’t always know what you’re getting into when you bring home a puppy. Enter Henry, a boxer who suffers from Supreme Dictator of the Universe Syndrome. He vandalizes his obedience school, leaps through windows, cheats death at every turn, and generally causes his long-suffering owner Erin Taylor Young to wonder what on earth she did that God would send this dog to derail her life.

Through his laugh-out-loud antics and escapades, Henry will steal readers’ hearts. Anyone who has ever owned a dog, especially a canine catastrophe like Henry, will enjoy this lighthearted book about a dog who brings new meaning to the concept of unconditional love.

UnknownErin Taylor Young has a remarkable gift for making her readers laugh out loud even as she’s delivering hard truths about living a life of faith. Her down-to-earth writing style invites readers into the books that God has given her and sends them away refreshed and assured that we’re not in this gig alone. Her first humorous nonfiction, Surviving Henry: Adventures in Loving a Canine Catastrophe, will release in August, 2014.

Erin has written for Today’s Christian Woman, Thriving Family, Outdoor Guide, and Midwest Outdoors. In 2013 she received a Higher Goals award from the Evangelical Press Association. She was a finalist in the 2012 Genesis contest and a category finalist in the Phoenix Rattler 2011-2012 writing contest for her contemporary fiction.

Erin resides in Oklahoma with her well-meaning husband, their polar-opposite sons, and a noncompliant dog. When she isn’t writing or rescuing the dog from mortal danger, she works in a library where she gets to wander among books.


My Impressions:

My sweet Boston Terrier aka The Best Dog EVER has had her moments — chewing furniture, peeing in the house, chewing furniture, rolling in dead stuff, chewing furniture — but she is the best dog I have ever owned. But dogs, like people, are an investment of our time, talents and, yes, money. In her book Surviving Henry: Adventures in Loving A Canine Catastrophe, Erin Taylor Young details the often hilarious moments in dog-rearing.  I am a long time dog owner and the wife of a veterinarian and have just about heard it all. But Young’s experiences with her charismatic and frustrating Boxer take the prize. From puppy-hood, through the rebellious adolescent age to adulthood, Henry taxed even the most committed owner’s patience. Tempted to give up on Henry, Young states she heard a small voice telling her to stay the course. And in the end, she can honestly thank God for Henry. In talking about the kind of love it takes to be Henry’s owner, she voices a universal truth — It’s choices and challenges and changes that are about you and not the other person. It’s embracing — no embodying — the notion of unconditional giving. Of mercy. Of commitment. Fun and laugh-out-loud funny, Surviving Henry is a quick read that will appeal to the dog lover. I liked it — check it out!


Audience: all ages

(Thanks to Revell for a review copy. The opinions expressed are mine alone.)

To purchase this book, click on the image below.

Book Review: 30 Quick Tips for Better Health

15 Jan

36209830 Quick Tips for Better Health motivates you with timeless health principles from the Bible that are easy to put into practice. By focusing on the positive and sharing simple, straightforward advice, Dr. Don gives you the tools you need to look and feel your best, including:

          The key to relaxing and eliminating stress
          The diet designed by God specifically for you
          The importance of a peaceful night’s sleep
          Tips for making exercise a regular and enjoyable part of your day

These thirty, practical steps will help you build new habits throughout the month or simply now and then, whenever you have the time or need a simple health solution.
Today is a new day! Take one step towards better health by reading just one of these thirty quick tips. You will find yourself on the path to a happier, healthier tomorrow.

VerHulst_famDr. Don Verhulst received his B.S. in Zoology at the University of Michigan in 1978, and his M.D. from Wayne State University School of Medicine in 1982. Dr. Don lectures in schools, churches and businesses. He is a regular guest on television and radio programs across the nation. Susan has hosted a Christian radio program for the last 20 years.

Dr. Don has a real passion for writing music and loves to share his songs on health and healing when he teaches. When Dr. Don and Susan are not busy traveling or lecturing, they enjoy spending time with their four children. Donnie 10, Aidon 8, Jaclyn 6 and Vivian 3.

My Impressions:

30 Quick Tips for Better Health is a small book packed with tips to help improve and maintain your spiritual, emotional and physical health. Each chapter focuses on one aspect of healthy living, such as diet, exercise, rest, etc., and provides information, scripture references and suggestions for changes that will enhance your life. Verhulst asserts in the first chapter that God’s Word is our Owner’s Manual and is the foundation for anyone looking for improvement and change. And while I believe this to be true, I do not agree with all of the connections Verhulst makes between scripture and physical health. Containing interesting food for thought, it is a bit heavy on prosperity gospel. I know many people who live healthy lifestyles, along with a vibrant faith life, and still suffer from illness. Unfortunately, we live in a fallen world with all the attendant evils, including sickness. The tips he shares are good, but do not ensure a disease-free life. Read this book with a dose of skepticism and the Bible at your side.

(Thanks to Booketeria for a review copy of this book. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

To purchase a copy of this book, click on the image below.

Book Review: What’s Your Mark

22 Apr

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:
and the book:
 Zondervan; Special edition (March 19, 2013)
***Special thanks to Rick Roberson for sending me a review copy.***

Award-winning photographer Jeremy Cowart has traveled the globe photographing some of the biggest names in the music and entertainment industries. With boundless energy, indomitable faith and a mind ever-flowing with creative ideas, Cowart appears utterly tireless and rarely stops. There is always something unique and interesting going on in his world, whether it’s starring in an episode of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, raising money to fight poverty through his Twitter feed, teaching photography online or taking the cover shot for Tim Tebow’s best-selling autobiography.

Born in Nashville, Cowart continues to make Music City his home. Here in the comfort of familiar surroundings he draws continual inspiration from his wife, Shannon, and their two beautiful children, Aidler and Eisley, ages five and seven. Though he clearly considers his craft a labor of joy, when not holding a camera he has time for his favorite pastime which is doing anything that involves his children, and much to his delight, joy around the Cowart home is about to increase as the family is in the process of adopting two children from Haiti.
Visit the author’s website.


What do an actor, a TV producer, a businessman, and a leader in social justice causes have in common? They’re all making their mark on the world because their lives have been eternally marked by Jesus. You’ll be captivated, challenged, and changed as you read their stories in this full-color, fully illustrated softcover book created by celebrity photographer Jeremy Cowart. With text from the Gospel of Mark, you are invited to ask—and answer—the question “What mark am I making?”


My Impressions:

What’s Your Mark, a compilation of stories and photos put together by photographer Jeremy Cowart, is a seriously cool book! Jeremy has taken the stories of the famous and not-so-famous, stories of the way God uses His people, and added his wonderful photography and placed them between the words of the Gospel of Mark. This book is innovative and inspiring and just the perfect way to see God at work both today and in Jesus’ time. I am looking forward to sharing this book with my daughter, the art student. But this book is for everyone, so check it out.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99

Paperback: 120 pages

Publisher: Zondervan; Special edition (March 19, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0310411092

ISBN-13: 978-0310411093