Category Archives: Book reviews

Over 50, Defined: Words just for us that aren’t in the dictionary…YET! By Shel Harrington

Shel Harrington is one of the wittiest authors, word inventors I have ever read. Her book, Over 50, Defined: Words just for us that aren’t in the dictionary…YET! covers words for common things people over 50 often do that leave them scratching their heads. She dubs her invented words “Quinbloits,” apt, descriptive terms you won’t find in the dictionary (YET!).

I laughed so hard reading Over 50 and kept tracking down different family members insisting they listen as I read the definitions.

The illustrations are on target and add to the enjoyment of the book.

Link to buy:

https://amzn.to/3essEpQ

Dying Laughing GIF by memecandy - Find & Share on GIPHY

I defy anyone to read Over 50, Defined: Words just for us that aren’t in the dictionary…YET! and not laugh, not to mention recognize yourself in a couple of the definitions. Over 50 is one of the funniest spot-on books, about common occurrences that confuse and amuse you that I have read.

#over50defined

The Delicious Shadow by Srividhya Lakshmanan/Illustrated by Akansha Krishnan

Publisher’s Summary

Some want to become stars overnight doing nothing!

Stickle, the squirrel, lives in the forest with her family. She dreams of becoming the most famous person but is lazy and decides everything in a rush. With the support of her parents, Stickle thinks of a way to reach her goal. She decides on becoming a scientist but is lazy to work for it. In haste, Stickle pretends to have found something, but things become strange afterwards. Did she make her wish come true? Discover now from this illustrated picture book that will help your child learn an important moral.

Best suited for preschoolers and children up to the age of eight.

Stickle the squirrel, lives with her family in a mango tree. She plays with friends in the morning then sleeps all day.

Like many people, Stickle wants to be famous but doesn’t want to work for success. As she ponders different careers, she realizes what she doesn’t like about each one.

One day, Stickle makes a discovery. . .

The Delicious Shadow is a clever story teaching children many lessons about career choices, a few life choices and pleasant surprises.

I enjoyed how the author, Srividhya Lakshmanan, integrated reasons why different career choices would not be compatible with Stickle’s personality nor her life.

The illustrations are attractive and aptly present the story.

The Delicious Shadow, perfect for beginning readers, teaches lessons all children can learn from.

I received The Delicious Shadow from BookSirens. I am leaving this review voluntarily.

Flashback Friday-You’re Amazing by Julie Arduini and Hannah Arduini

Hannah Arduini and her mother, Julie Arduini, have created and co-authored another beautiful story, it too will resonate with a female of any age.

You’re Amazing focuses on Jazmin, a teenage ballet dancer, and Lena, a young mother of two boys and a mentor at Linked. Both are overwhelmed and questioning whether their roles are right for them.

The authors have done an amazing job of capturing Jazmin and Lena’s feelings in a way that young girls and women can understand and identify with.

I love how they take the feelings of inadequacies and hurt and not only show Biblical discernment to help them, but also use their friendship and friends to help, too.

Jazmin and Lena had different childhoods, however, their feelings of failures and shortfalls come from the same deceiver. Throughout the book, the authors point us back to the only One who tells us the truth. In fact, God’s truth permeates this book, but one really caught my attention. A conversation between two of the characters reminds us how deeply God loves us, something that is too easy to forget in our day-to-day life.

This storyline is constructive, encouraging and re-affirming, written to help us readjust and release our harmful thoughts and turn them over to God.

The Arduini’s have written a third book in the series, too. I can’t wait to read it.

(I purchased You’re Amazing.)

Publisher’s Summary

YOU’RE AMAZING: Beautiful things happen when a group of girls and their mentors discover they’re worthy.

Jazmin’s a natural at dance until a series of changes make her wonder if she should even keep up with her favorite hobby.

Lena’s a mom with young children overwhelmed with her schedule when a woman remarks that what Lena does isn’t even important.

Both Jazmin and Lena belong to Linked, a mentoring ministry where all ages encourage each other and build friendships.

Can these two surrender the lies they are believing and realize they are amazing?

The second book in the Surrendering Stinkin’ Thinkin’ series that can be read as a stand-alone for tweens, teens, and women of all ages by mother and daughter authors Julie Arduini and Hannah Arduini.

Rosie the Dragon and Charlie Say Goodnight written by Lauren H. Kerstein, Illustrated by Nate Wragg

About the Book

Rosie the dragon and Charlie are ready to tackle bedtime—dragon-style

Rosie the DragonRosie the dragon’s bedtime routine has been a little bumpy lately. But not to worry! Charlie is prepared with his lists, rules, and fire extinguisher—everything a boy needs to help guide his pet dragon (and best friend) to a peaceful night’s sleep. But with bath-time bubble trouble, fiery-hot pajamas, and stuffed animal search-and-rescues, tucking this dragon into bed is not an easy task. And what happens when thunder strikes? Snuggle up with this adorable duo as they conquer bedtime the best way: together!

Charlie and Rosie, Charlie’s pet dragon, are best friends and superheroes. However, Rosie does not like bedtime!

Enchanting, vivid pictures illustrate all the mischief Rosie gets into to avoid bedtime. Poor Charlie has his hands full!

The antics are laugh-out-loud funny, but also, in some cases, a little scary. (I don’t want to give any spoilers.)

Rosie’s creative and sometimes unintentional consequences while trying to avoid bedtime may cause some parents to feel the story sets a bad example. Yet the story is not written to teach as much as to entertain. Little children may recognize themselves and Rosie’s antics in the story. Even though some of the shenanigans could hardly be duplicated, Rosie the Dragon and Charlie Say Goodnight does offer an opportunity to teach the importance of bedtime.

Overall, the story is cute and enjoyable. The illustrations are bright and are true to the adventures. Rosie the Dragon and Charlie Say Goodnight is a picture book. The story should be easy for a beginning reader with a little help from a parent or sibling. It’s a cute story to read to children from Pre-K up.     

About the Author

Lauren Kerstein is an author and psychotherapist. She is a Jersey girl at heart who currently lives in Colorado with her husband, their two dragons…er, daughters, and their rescue dog. Lauren is the author of the Rosie the Dragon and Charlie picture book series (Illustrated by Nate Wragg/Two Lions). Her latest picture book, Lauren H. KersteinHOME FOR A WHILE (Illustrated by Natalia Moore/Magination Press) moves into shelves February 2, 2021. Lauren also writes books in her field. Lauren is one of the founders of #ReVISIONweek, a judge with Rate Your Story, runs a critique business, and is a long-time member of 12×12 and SCBWI. Her writing goals are simple. Read voraciously. Embrace feedback. Grow each day. Work hard. Be passionate. Write courageously. Touch children’s hearts. You can visit her at www.LaurenKerstein.net and follow her on Twitter and Instragram (@LaurenKerstein) and FB (https://www.facebook.com/laurenkersteinauthor).

The Storm Breaks Forth by Terri Wangard

Publisher’s Summary

World War I rages in Europe, and now the United States joins in. Peter Bloch heads to France with the Wisconsin National Guard, but his wife Maren is the one under attack. She’s German born, and anti-

German hysteria is running high. Simple suggestions for coping with wartime measures lead Maren into an active role in the community, but her service doesn’t help deflect suspicion from her. Zealous patriots target her with a vengeance. Peter caught the eye of a major who seems intent on using him as a spy.

He’s been fortunate to avoid injury so far, but these activities are likely to get him killed. Peter and Maren dream of the day they will be reunited, but more and more, that day appears to be a mirage.

Terri Wangard’s book The Storm Breaks Forth debuted on April 6 th, 2021, 104 years after Good Friday, April 6th, 1917, when Congress approved a resolution declaring war on Germany.

Wangard’s stirring and compelling characters draw you into this story with precise detail, historic accuracy and great skill at evocative and gripping realism.

We reunite with Peter and Maren Bloch and Geoff and Rosaleen Bonnard from the first book, Roll Back the Clouds (link to my review). 

Great trials face the couples as they are confronted with an unfamiliar and vastly different world than they were previously accustomed to.

I was familiar with the flu pandemic, the Liberty Gardens which were the precursor to the Victory Gardens, and the horrors of the war. However, I did not realize rampant prejudice and bigotry were directed toward the German Americans. How difficult a time they must have endured.

I enjoyed learning about how women’s roles evolved from homemaker to employee and champion of the burgeoning Liberty gardens.

The portrayal of front-line battle was vividly painted and heartbreaking.  Newer technology and the advent of the machine gun and poisonous gas brought warfare to a whole different playing field. Portions were exceedingly difficult to read.

Wangard does an extraordinary job of penning a story of hope, love, faith and peace, juxtaposed against despair, hatred, indifference and war. Reading The Storm Breaks Forth will be enlightening and at times gut-wrenching.

Some scenes are extremely intense and horrific, which may be difficult for a few readers; for this reason, I would suggest the book be read by those over 16.

I received The Storm Breaks Forth from the author. All opinions are my own.

Blackberry Beach by Irene Hannon

Irene Hannon’s newest Hope Harbor story (releasing April 6th) is Blackberry Beach. Even though I didn’t know this was part of a series, it still works well as a standalone.

Hope Harbor “harbors” the picturesque and enchanting Blackberry Beach, home to several idiosyncratic and unconventional people and birds. Needless to say, they were some of my favorite characters!

I would love to stop in at The Perfect Blend coffee shop and talk with the owner, Zach Garrett, and sample his fantastic blends and desserts. And, oh my, Charlie, the owner of the fish taco stand!  Hannon has created a must-visit, perfect friend. Can you guess that I would love to live there?

Kat, the mystery woman, piques everyone’s interest, especially Zach’s, and uses her wonderful culinary skill to create blackberry and blackberry lavender truffles. So, is Kat a chocolatier? Why is she in Hope Harbor, and what is she hiding?

Hannon is amazingly skilled at creating a place you want to visit and characters you would love to have as friends. Not to mention, she leaves you starving for treats from the Perfect Blend, Kat’s chocolates and fish tacos, even though I have never really cared for fish tacos.

As you can see, Blackberry Beach features mystery and intrigue, along with romance and wonderful doses of Biblical insight.

I received a copy of this book courtesy of Revell through NetGalley and Interviews & Reviews.

Photo of pie by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Publisher’s Summary

Katherine Parker is on the cusp of having everything she ever wanted–fame, money, and acclaim. So why isn’t she happy? In search of answers, she comes incognito to Hope Harbor on the Oregon coast for some R&R. Maybe in her secluded rental house overlooking the serene Pacific she’ll be able to calm the storm inside.

Coffee shop owner Zach Garrett has found his niche after a traumatic loss–and he has no plans to change the life he’s created. Nor does he want to get involved with his reticent new neighbor, whose past is shrouded in mystery. He’s had enough drama to last a lifetime. But when Katherine and Zach are recruited to help rehab a home for foster children, sparks fly. And as their lives begin to intersect, might they find more common ground than they expected . . . and discover that, with love, all things are possible?

Bestselling and award-winning author Irene Hannon invites you to come home to Hope Harbor–where hearts heal . . . and love blooms.

His Wagon Train Sweetheart by Catherine Kennedy

Catherine Kennedy has written a sweet book about Georgiana “George” Walton, her father, Harry and Elijah Mitchell in His Wagon Train Sweetheart.

I felt poor George’s dilemma when confronted with a gentleman she feels is way out of her league while she’s the one tasked to handle his and his mother’s wagon. George didn’t feel as if she looked like a woman, and she knew as the driver of a wagon on a wagon train, she sure didn’t act like one.

I appreciated Kennedy’s introduction to a spiritual life through Eli’s mother, Grace. She used Grace as the means to help George understand how to live a life of faith and honor to God without beating anyone, including George, over the head with her spirituality.

Reading His Wagon Train Sweetheart made me appreciate our modern conveniences while at the same time marveling at the hardiness and resilience of pioneers. The story is set in the 1800s on the Santa Fe trail and highlights some of the dangers of traveling in a wagon train.

The story is sweet and delightful, with a few lessons to be learned, like acceptance, confidence and love for one another and God.

His Wagon Train Sweetheart is a novella that introduces the new series, Walton Valley. Book 1 premiers on March 31, 2021.

I received His Wagon Train Sweetheart from Book Sirens. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

Publisher’s Summary

Riding the Santa Fe Trail is a difficult and lonely profession…especially for a girl named George.

Georgianna Walton’s father sat her on the back of a horse the moment she could sit up straight. Ever since, they have traveled together from one side of the country to the other with no place to call home. With no mother to guide her, George has learned everything she knows from her father, Harry, but she wants nothing more than to settle down and have a place to call home.

Elijah Mitchell is traveling to Santa Fe to take up a position as a doctor. However, when Harry has an accident on the trail, Eli cannot leave him alone on the prairie. While he ministers to the cantankerous old man, his mother begins to teach George all the things her own mother could not.

She is a wild woman from the west…he is a very proper doctor from back east—can they form the unlikeliest of partnerships out in the wild, untamed Kansas prairie?

Where’s My Joey? by Wendy Monica Winter/Illustrated by Roxana Antochi

About the Book

Mother Kangaroo cannot find her Joey! Will she find the baby kangaroo before his dinner gets cold?  Who will help her in Australia? Does Koala, Emu or Kookaburra know where Joey is?

Who will help Mother Kangaroo in Canada?  Do Moose or Bear or Beaver have any clues?  Where’s Joey? Read and find out!

Written by a teacher who lived in Australia, this book is entertaining, engaging, and educational on many levels. (It has a secret spiritual message for those who want to discover it.) Filled with beautiful illustrations and a beautiful story, this is a book all ages will enjoy.

This is a book you will treasure for years and enjoy with your children (or grandchildren) again and again.

Where’s My Joey? by Wendy Monica Winter is a cute, cute story. Roxana Antochi beautifully illustrated this adorable book.

I fell in love with all the pictures. However, my favorite illustration is one of an ocean. The colors are so pretty and soothing. The creatures, for
instance, the whale, clownfish, all the sea creatures, plus the vegetation, are gorgeous!

Children will learn about animals in Australia and some in Canada, too. There were a couple of animals I wasn’t familiar with that I discovered also! (I remembered a song about the Kookaburra, which is a bird, that I learned when I was younger, too.)

Where’s My Joey? is a fun book to savor and read over and over again.

I received Where’s My Joey? from Book Sirens. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

The Key to Love by Betsy St. Amant

The only thing Bri Duval loves more than baking petit fours is romance. So much so, she’s created her own version of the famous Parisian lovelock wall at her bakery in Story, Kansas. She never expects it to go viral–or for Trek Magazine to send travel writer Gerard Fortier to feature the bakery. He’s definitely handsome, but Bri has been holding out for a love story like the one her parents had, and that certainly will not include the love-scorned-and-therefore-love-scorning Gerard.

Just when it seems Bri’s bakery is poised for unprecedented success, a series of events threaten not just her business but the pedestal she’s kept her parents on all these years. Maybe Gerard is right about romance. Or maybe Bri’s recipe just needs to be tweaked.

Novelist Betsy St. Amant invites you to experience this sweet story of how love doesn’t always look the way we expect–and maybe that’s a good thing.

The Key to Love, by Betsy St. Amant, is a contemporary romance novel about a bakery, The Pastry Puff, and its owners and an employee in Story, Kansas. This is the first book I have read by Betsy St. Amant.

The story is populated by several characters, from the previous owner’s daughter, Abrielle “Bri” Duvall to the nefarious Charles Richmond, Bri’s ex-boyfriend, who is a lawyer intent on getting The Pastry Puff by any means available (and maybe some that aren’t!). The true stars of the book appear to be the bakery, the Parisian styled love lock fence and the “love angels,” Mabel and Agnes, who are the bakery’s new owners.

I had a hard time becoming invested in the main characters, Bri Duval and Gerard Fortier. Their ongoing disagreements felt somewhat immature and off-putting.

The book also contains some mild vulgar words (though not profanity) and innuendo, with very little of a very spiritually uplifting content.

The Key to Love was, overall, a cute book you could lose yourself in for a few hours, with several laugh out loud moments created by the love angels, Mable and Agnes.

I received this book courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Revell through Interviews & Reviews. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.