Smoky Mountain Family Historian

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Christmas Joy Ride

Carlson, Melody. The Christmas Joy Ride. Grand Rapids: Revell, 2015.

Miranda is a recent divorcee who lost her job and is facing foreclosure on her home. Her almost 86-year-old neighbor Joy is heading to Phoenix to live in an assisted-living facility near her sons. Instead of flying out as she is supposed to do, she decides to drive her RV along Route 66 all the way from Chicago to Phoenix. She has held a contest on her blog to spread some Christmas cheer along the way. She invites Miranda along to help her spread some cheer. Miranda quickly assumes the driving responsibilities. The plot is somewhat predictable, but this is a great Christmas feel-good read that is certain to help many readers get the Christmas spirit. This review is based on an advance review copy which is clearly labeled as "not the final version" provided by the publisher through NetGalley for review.


Monday, September 14, 2015

Keeping Christmas

Walsh, Dan. Keeping Christmas. Grand Rapids: Revell, 2015.

Experiencing an empty nest for the first time at Thanksgiving and soon to be at Christmas makes Judith gloomy. Her husband Stan and friend Betty try to find ways to lift her spirits. Will they be able to help her overcome the depression this holiday season brings? This book is certain to resonate with many readers who are experiencing Christmas without a family gathering. I love the parts that showed how Judith and her children created ornaments each year and how much that meant to both Judith and her children. While I never contemplated putting the book down, the story itself did not flow flawlessly. I can't quite put my finger on the reason. I do, however, believe this is a worthwhile Christmas read that may even help a few persons struggling with the holidays. This review is based on an advance review copy which clearly states that it is not the final text received through NetGalley for review purposes.


Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Adventures in Writing Adventures in Writing. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2015.

This is a workbook designed to help first graders learn capitalization, punctuation, sentence completion, and creative writing. It also provides a few mazes, paper folding, and other activities to go along with creative writing prompts. It's probably a good supplement for some students. The book is a compilation of several previously published workbooks. This review is based on an advance review e-galley provided by the publisher through NetGalley for review purposes.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Let's Learn About the Lord's Supper

DeVries, Catherine. Let's Learn About the Lord's Supper. Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2015.

Emma, the young narrator in this picture book, takes us to her room on a play date. Her mother calls her down for a snack. When she prays, she uses and briefly talks about the Lord's Prayer that she has been learning. When returning to the room, she teaches the prayer to her stuffed animal. The illustrations by Ryan Jackson in this picture book are colorful and certain to please young audiences. My biggest problem with the book has to do with the manner in which the stuffed animal was introduced. The narrative seems to imply that a question was asked earlier for which Emma is now giving the answer so that the reader will know if he guessed correctly. It is possible this will be corrected in the final version that will be marketed. The author still fails to break down certain phrases in the Lord's prayer for the intended audience level. It is, however, a book that many Christian parents and schools will want to purchase. This review is based on an advance reader's copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley with the expectation that a review be written.


Thursday, August 27, 2015

History & Me History & Me. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2015.

This contains several activities designed to increase reading comprehension and writing skills using activities based on history. The "She's So Cool" section contains activities based on women's biography. The "American Heroes" section uses important figures from American history as a basis for the activities. All the subjects are U.S. Presidents in the "Presidential Potpourri" section. Barack Obama, the current president, is one of those included. My personal favorite section, because of my interest in genealogy, is the one on "Tracing Your Roots." While it is a good starting point for pre-teens interested in learning about their family history, the charts are not very adequate. The four sections were taken from other publications with the same titles as the sections. This review is based on an advance e-galley provided by the publisher through NetGalley for review purposes.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Swedes in Canada

Barr, Elinor. Swedes in Canada: Invisible Immigrants. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2015.

Swedes in Canada: Invisible Immigrants is a very detailed and well-researched look at persons of Swedish descent who live in Canada. The book touches on the Swedish influence in many sectors of Canadian life. The appendices are useful for persons researching family history as there are place and people lists. The end notes would probably be more valuable as footnotes since many of them further describe things in the text. The bibliography is extensive. In the advance review e-galley, the index had not yet been compiled but there was a place marker for it. Recommended for academic collections with an interest in Swedes and for genealogical collections which serve areas with high concentrations of Swedish researchers. This review is based on an e-galley received by the publisher through NetGalley for review purposes.


Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Lasting Love

Begg, Alistair. Lasting Love: How to Avoid Marital Failure. Chicago: Moody, 2015.

Alistair Begg's book on marriage has been around for about eighteen years and is being re-released by Moody Publishers in 2015. My hopes that it was a new edition were shattered when I ran across a reference to it being the 1990s. The latest works cited in the bibliography are from 1996. Much of the advice Begg provides to couples is still valid; however, it is a shame that the content has not been updated and that he has failed to draw from more recent authors such as Gary Thomas and Timothy Keller. Although the advice is sound, I feel that some of the concepts will not be heeded by today's generation without a slightly different approach to the argument. The book has a study guide written by James S. Bell, Jr. which can be used by couples or by groups studying the book. It would probably be quite helpful in many premarital counseling situations. The foreward to the book was written by Howard Hendricks. It seems a new foreward by someone who is at the forefront of today's Christian leaders would have been a good addition to the book. This review is based on an advance readers e-galley provided by the publisher through NetGalley for review purposes.


The Hog's Back Mystery

Crofts, Freeman Wills. The Hog's Back Mystery. Scottsdale, Ariz.: Poisoned Pen Press, 2015.

When a doctor and a nurse go missing, it's up to Inspector French to solve the case. It soon becomes apparent that both were likely killed, but where are the bodies? Suspicion runs to members of the doctor's household, to the doctor's partner, and to other persons connected with them. When another person goes missing, clues such as blood and dirt begin to surface. It's a complex mystery requiring the use of logic from the Golden Age of Mysteries that is certain to delight fans of the genre. An advance review copy was received from the publisher Poisoned Pen Press via NetGalley in exchange for a review.