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Wednesday, June 29

Bridge to Better Days (Joe Bonamassa)

Here's a round of the newest books on the market that will help you create better days ahead....they range from fiction stories (that will make you think) to non-fiction books to even children's books!  As always, we will begin with the kids...

Children's Books
Berenstain Bears School Time Blessings (Mike Berenstain)
After the long and lazy summer, it’s time for school. Brother and Sister are ready to see their friends and get busy with all of the things they enjoy about school—but are nervous about the more challenging subjects like math and history. And Honey Bear will be going to nursery school for the first time—but how will she handle not being home with Mama and Papa all day?  In this new Berenstain Bear Living Lights book, Mama and Papa Bear remind their cubs that prayer and God’s love are always there to guide them and that they will support them no matter what the challenge.

If you have a preschool child, or even a child returning to early elementary grades, this is a good book to help them transition. It covers separation anxiety, different classes (and why some are fun and some are not), and general ‘back to school’ principles and rules.  It talks about being dropped off and picked up, getting along with other kids, dealing with older kids, asking for help from the teacher, and some of the other basics that most adults never think about anymore. Another good book from this series that helps children to understand the world around them through stories.

Berenstain Bears Caring & Sharing Treasury (Mike Berenstain)
Time after time the Living Lights,
Berenstain Bears series has attracted young readers through creative and engaging stories that not only entertain but teach values and life lessons. Now, five of the series’ most loved books are available in a comprehensive bind-up. This Living Lights collection Back to School is sure to be a popular choice for Berenstain Bears readers who have enjoyed the series in the past.  This collection includes:  Jobs Around Town, Get Involved, Love Their Neighbors, The Biggest Brag, and Gossip Gang.

This collection of stories covers many aspects of the world around young children.  I love that it focuses on relationships and communication issues.  This seems to be an area that it lacking in modern society.  While the newer BB books are not my favorites (prefer the older ones), this is still another good book from this series that helps children to understand the world around them through stories.

The Weekenders (Mary Kay Andrews)
Some people stay all summer long on the idyllic island of Belle Isle, North Carolina. Others come only for the weekends-and the mix between the regulars and “the weekenders” can sometimes make the sparks fly. Riley Griggs has a season of good times with friends and family ahead of her on Belle Isle when things take an unexpected turn. While waiting for her husband to arrive on the ferry one Friday afternoon, Riley is confronted by a process server who thrusts papers into her hand. And her husband is nowhere to be found. So she turns to her island friends for help and support, but it turns out that each of them has their own secrets, and the clock is ticking as the mystery a murderous way. Cocktail parties aside, Riley must find a way to investigate the secrets of Belle Island, the husband she might not really know, and the summer that could change everything. 

In true MKA fashion, this book made you feel all of the emotions....and I really liked that it harkened back to some of her earlier books, like Hissy Fit or Savannah Blues - with less flighty characters. A little mystery, a little romance, a little family drama, and a lot of southern! And no - you'll never see the end coming! I may not recommend this for my students, but I will certainly recommend it for my girlfriends...and my momma. She loves MKA as much as I do!

You & Me, Always (Jill Mansell)
On the morning of her twenty-fifth birthday, Lily Harper opens the very last letter written to her by her beloved mother, who died when she was eight. Learning about the first and only real love of her mom's life is a revelation. The same momentous day, Lily meets Eddie Tessler, an actor fleeing fame who could change her world in unimaginable ways. But her childhood friend Dan has his own reasons for not wanting Lily to get too carried away by Eddie's attentions. As secrets past and present begin to emerge, Lily's not sure what-or who-to believe. But one thing is clear: in the beautiful Cotswold village of Stanton Langley, nothing will ever be the same again...

This was such a lovely book! It took about 2/3 of the book before I was sure of how it would end, which was nice...typically you can tell within a couple of chapters. The characters were believable and the story line was realistic. I loved the journey and how it all played out. Will definitely be looking for more from JM!

A Haven on Orchard Lane (Lawana Blackwell)
In difficult circumstances, Charlotte Ward, once a famed stage actress, tries to restart her career--only to experience disaster. Against her better judgment, her estranged daughter, Rosalind, comes to her mother's rescue and moves her to a quiet English coastal village. Charlotte is grateful to get to know Rosalind after years apart. As one who has regrets about her own romantic past, it's a joy for Charlotte to see love blossom for her daughter. For Rosalind, however, it's time away from teaching--and now she must care for the mother who wasn't there for her. And what could be more complicated than romance? Together, mother and daughter discover that healing is best accomplished when they focus less on themselves and more on the needs of others.

This was my first Lawana Blackwell book, and I was pleased enough to go to the library and start investigating some of her older works. A mother gives up her baby so that the child can have a better life, but the daughter ends up feeling hurt and lost. When mother and daughter finally meet up, there is hurt and regret. Embedded within this story is the story of two little boys with a cruel stepmother (think : Cinderella) who use their brotherly love to overcome their circumstances. The pace of the story is a little bit slow, and it jumps around from character to character and storyline to storyline, but once you get into it, you won’t want to put it down. Everything eventually ties together, and you’ll want to know what comes next. Throughout the novel, you see the theme of love and forgiveness – and you’ll find yourself examining these themes in your own life as you see them acted out through the characters.

Broths and stocks have always had a central place in kitchens around the world owing to their ability to comfort, nourish, and heal. In Broth and Stock from the Nourished Kitchen, Jennifer McGruther, author of The Nourished Kitchen and an authority in the traditional foods movement, illustrates why a good broth or stock is the foundation of amazing and wholesome cooking. Included are over a dozen master recipes for base stocks and then 40 recipes using these stocks in complete meals. These accessible recipes are appropriate for vegetarians, pescatarians, and meat eaters alike and showcase the nutrient-dense, real food that nourishes the body and soul. The Whole Chicken Broth is the perfect base for Springtime Risotto with Asparagus, Green Garlic, and Chive Blossoms, while the recipe for Fish Stock will bring new life to a classic dish like New England Clam Chowder. People are catching on to this centuries old appreciation of bone and vegetable based broths, and Jennifer McGruther shows how these can be made quickly and cost-effectively at home.

We all know the amazing health benefits of chicken broth – but it can be daunting to try and make your own. This book provides simple recipes that are very easy to make at home. The author details and clearly describes the process, as well as how to obtain the ingredients, and the photographs are fantastically beautiful! There is background knowledge, a history lesson or two, and tips and tricks for in the kitchen. There are your basic broth recipes, as well as some new ones that I had never seen before, including international / indigenous ones. Even if you’re a seasoned cook, there will be something to learn in here!

7 Laws of Love (Dave Willis)
In our fast-paced, success-obsessed culture, we’re constantly tempted to chase after things that don’t matter. We’ve been conditioned to value possessions over people, status over relationships, and ourselves over God. But the reality is this: God created love to be the centerpiece of our lives. In The Seven Laws of Love, Dave Willis makes the case for a love revival and proves that in returning to a life of love we have no greater model than the one who is love himself. In Dave’s humorous, touching, down-to-earth style, The Seven Laws of Love takes you on a journey through the ins and outs of everyday relationships—with your spouse, your children, your friends, and your coworkers—using practical, applicable examples and guiding principles that demonstrate what a life of love actually looks like. There is no higher calling on earth than to love and be loved. It’s time to learn The Seven Laws of Love, and to make loving a priority over all other pursuits. Anything else isn’t really living.
  • Love requires commitment.
  • Love selflessly sacrifices.
  • Love speaks truth.
  • Love conquers fear.
  • Love offers grace.
  • Love brings healing.
  • Love lives forever.
The laws don’t just apply to marriage, though – they are demonstrated in examples of your spouse, family, neighbors, friends, yourself, your creator, and even your enemies. The stories are easily related and down to earth, and each chapter ends with a quick summary. At times, the book feels preachy, but the author is a preacher, so… Overall, it is an easy read, and always a good reminder to help keep your heart and actions on the right path. I know that a ‘refresher course’ always helps me, especially when life has begun to frustrate enormously. At the end of the book, there is a summary chapter, which is a good, short piece to go back and occasionally read again.

I received many, but not all, of these books in exchange for an honest review.  I enjoy bringing you the best new reads I discover, and hope that you will find something you love, too!
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