Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Andi Unexpectedby Amanda Flower

Andi Unexpected
An Andi Boggs Novel
by Amanda Flower

Andi and her sister finds themselves living with their aunt in a rural Ohio town after the death of their parents.  While fixing up the attic to make a bedroom for herself, Andi find a trunk that hides a mystery, and leads Andi and her friend into a search for a missing child. 

This mystery book is gears to the preteen age group, and will keep them guessing.  Overall, it was well written for the age group, but is no Nancy Drew mystery.  I think more development and  connectedness between the clues and the resolution could be helpful.  I also would like to have the story delve more in to the conclusion/resolution than was done. 

The story did keep me interested in the resolution, which was great.  I love the concept of the story as well.

As a Christian book publisher, I didn't see any real faith demonstrated in the story.  I hope that as the series continues that this will be introduced.  They go to church once, but it was really motivated by the need to interact with another character.

I would recommend this book for preteens and hope that as the author continues to write more stories and grow as an author, that she will develop her  stories further.

 I received this book from the publisher for a review, all opinions are my own.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Peace on Earth: A Christmas Collection by Mary Englebreit

Peace on Earth: A Christmas Collection

Mary Englebreit


Sit down and open a beautifully illustrated picture book that takes you into a compilation of Christmas songs, poems, and scripture. Mary Engelbreit's illustrations are tied to a particular written piece, such as the old hymn “Angels We have Heard on High and a poem by Cecil Frances Alexander called “All Things Bright and Beautiful”. The are nativity pictures, angel pictures, children and animals and more which have her unique signature style
One of my favorite pieces in the book is the two page spread called “Friendly Beasts” that shows a checkerboard of the poem and illustration. My least favorite would be the four page spread called “Another Boy” because it states in it “the festival of all children everywhere.” Christmas is about Christ and what He did for those children everywhere, and it seems a little lost on this story.
One other note, I'm not too fond of Madonna and child illustrations where Mary is seen with a halo or crown (queen of heaven imagery). I deviate theologically from Catholicism on many points, and this is one. I do not teach my children anything more than that Mary was blessed to be chosen to be Jesus earthly mom. Although these images abound in the book, most of the book keeps focused on Christmas and the baby that was born, and I will share it with my children.
Ultimately the story of Christmas is about Christ and His love for us. It looks forward to the cross and the resurrection. Simply, we sinned against God (for the wages of sin is death), God became a man, died on the cross in our place (those who place their faith in him, by grace alone through faith alone), and rose again. Christmas is about the gospel.

I received this book from the publisher.  I was not required to write a positive review.  Thank you.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The War on Christmas by Bodie Hodge

The War on Christmas: Battles in Faith, Tradition, and Religious Expression

Bodie Hodge, General Editor

Master Books

As we march onto the front lines of the Christmas season, we again face the war on Christmas. It is a war that fights battles on many different fronts. On the secular front, people have made it about Santa Clause and Black Friday shopping. On the church front, many call it a pagan holiday celebrating other gods and promoting pagan ceremonies. Misconceptions are shot out from fox holes, and error is return fire. So what is the truth about the war on Christmas? What is the truth about Santa, the Nativity, paganism and more? Bodie Hodge and his book The War on Christmas will attempt to clear up our battling perceptions with the truth and more specifically the  truth of the Gospel.
The books takes us on a tour through the following general topics:
  1. What About Christmas?
    In this section, we are introduced the origins of Christmas, the birth of Christ, and the time line of events around the nativity.
  2. Confusion and Misconceptions
    In this section, we face the many traditional Christmas ideas that are factually incorrect.
  3. It's All Baby Jesus
    On this front, we are focused on Christ, the true meaning of Christmas.
  4. How Christmas Came to Be
    Here we get into the foxhole of basic false teachings about the birth of Christ, of Mary and the nativity and more.
  5. The War on Christmas
    Here we are battling the war on Christmas from Genesis and on.
The softbound book is beautifully presented with photographs, illustrations, and charts. It is not long and drawn out, but attacks the subjects accurately and simply. Each chapter has been written by a different author and is easily read. The gospel is strategically placed and very relevant to the whole Christmas story.

One of my favorite quotes from the book is found on page 21, “The Church has often failed during Christmastime because we simply talk about the birth of Christ without talking about why He came.”

It is very important that we understand why He came, and I heartily agree that the church has lost ground in this battle. We need to understand the truth, seek it out and proclaim it.

I was excited to be able to receive this book and review it for the publisher, and I have not been disappointed. It is not only a book I highly recommend to read, but also to share with family and friends.

Get out on the front line and share the true meaning of Christmas. Let us proclaim the gospel this Christmas season and not fall in the battle, but stand firm.

If you are looking for your own copy,  can  buy the book here: 


Note:  I received an advanced PDF copy and printed book as part of being a member of the launch team for the book in return for my unbiased review.


I will be giving away my review copy.  If you would like to be in the drawing, please leave a comment about your favorite Christmas memory!  Drawing will be on November 1st!

Don't forget to leave your email!  Thank you.

Congrats to Alison G from Canada!  For being my winner!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

A Plain Disappearance by Amanda Flower

A Plain Disappearance

An Appleseed Creek Mystery

By Amanda Flower

Imagine going on a date, romance is in the air, and so is murder. When Chloe and Timothy are on their first date, they come across the body of a murdered teenage Amish girl. Now they are plunged into a mystery that compels Chloe to investigate. Could it be Timothy's friend, Billy Thorpe, whose mysterious past makes him a suspect?

I'm not usually a reader of mysteries, but I have to confess, I read this book an enjoyed it. In fact, I read it in an afternoon. Flower creates a world that shows the imperfections and nuances of people, and the Amish. Her characters are realistic and enjoyable. I like that she has various characters, Chloe, an Englisher, Timothy, an former Amish, Timothy's little brother, and his sister who has left the Amish life. I also enjoyed how she had a particular character impacted for Christ by Chloe's life.
In regards to the mystery, she kept me guessing, although certain elements were predictable, others were well hidden until the necessary revealing. Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone who likes Amish literature or mysteries.
I received this book from the publisher, and was not required to give a positive review. All opinions on the book are wholly my own.

Monday, September 30, 2013

The Beard Family

Another fall shoot.... I have gotten to know the Beard Family through cub scouts.  This is the first time that I have had the privilege to photograph them, and it couldn't have been a more beautiful day.  The only thing to make it better would have been to have had less wind, but this is Nebraska, and that is a rare thing. 
We started in my yard in one of our treed areas, then moved to another part of the yard that was more open.  There were grape vines yellowing in the background, and cats wandering around, curious.

Then we moved a little farther to my driveway where there was a tiny patch of sumac, red like fire, and ready for some individual portraits. After that, light was fading quickly behind a cloud and a sunset... and we rushed a mile down the road to some tall grass on one of our pastures.....


Senior portraits can be really fun, and Collin's was a lot of fun.  Collin wanted to do a shot like superman, and he was also open to whatever locations I suggested.  So here are some great shots that I wanted to make sure and share.

I love this shot at the old gas pumps.  I love the red and green of the pumps with his red and blue shirt.

Now  here is my favorite Superman style shot.  Love this one...

I will have to say that I couldn't help but take a "Jimmy Olson" shot.  He brought this bow tie, and I had my old Pentax K1000 and a flash....  Perfect.
Here is my favorite shot of the session.  Collin pulled his convertible up in front of O'Neill High School, and I had him loosen his tie and pose... the wind blew his tie, I snapped and the rest is history.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Jennifer and Alex's Love Story Video

       Friday afternoon, I had the privilege to shoot my first Love Story Video for Jennifer and Alex.  Rain was looming in the air, and so I changed from shooting the interview first, to shooting the B-roll first.  We started at St. Mary's High School where Alex went to school, and I first me the couple when I took their portrait at prom.  Then we moved to Carney Park to shoot a little more footage.  We then proceeded to shoot their interview to complete the shoot.  So here is a little teaser video.  I will upload the complete video sometime in the near future. 


Monday, September 23, 2013

Hodson Wedding

Here is my latest wedding.  This wonderful couple had a beautiful day for a wedding... blue skies, warm weather and a light breeze.... 

Dobias Wedding

Wow I've been slow on my photography posting.  I have had a couple of wedding since my last wedding post, so here I go!
I had the privilege to photograph Jean and Isaac's wedding.  A few years ago, I photographed Jean for her senior portraits, so this was a wedding I was really looking forward to shooting.  Jean and Isaac were great subjects, and the day turned out beautifully.

Monday, September 16, 2013

NIV Pink Bible, An Invitation to Hope

NIV Pink Bible

An Invitation to Hope

Zondervan Bibles

Zondervan, who supports the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF), has released a hot pink duo-tone covered red-letter NIV Bible with silver gilding that is geared towards women facing breast cancer. It has dark pink stitching that matches the darker portion of the cover and contrasts with the light pink. It is a thin line Bible in standard print, so it's not bulky. It also lays flat.
The Bible includes a brief forward by the founder of the NBCF, in which she tells a little about her journey with breast cancer and starting the NBCF. It also includes a few inserts, some of which have a prayer addressing breast cancer, or a poem following by some verses to look up and read. She also includes some advice to women facing this journey, which is think is essential.
The Bible also includes a one-year reading plan, an index of comforting verses, and simple book overviews.
If you or a loved one are facing this journey into cancer, this would be a nice gift to give them. God's Word is a powerful gift, able to draw people to the truth of salvation. Even if it weren't pink, I think God's word is the best gift a person can give. The extras in this printing, I hope, will give encouragement to women, and the convenient size of the Bible makes it easy to carry along in a purse.

I received this Bible from the publisher in return for review. I was not required to give it a positive review.

Born of Persuasion by Jessica Dotta

Born of Persuasion
Price of Privilege Trilogy
by Jessica Dotta
Tyndale Publishers

Step back into 1838 and into the life of 17 year old Julia Elliston. Julia is an orphan left under the authority of an unknown guardian who wants to ship her off to Scotland. Before that happens, she is allowed the opportunity to visit an old friend of hers and her mother's. At that time she hopes to save herself from what appears to be drudgery of being a servant. But Julia finds herself caught up in treachery, deception, and bad choices.

I sat and read this book in one evening. It was well written, the characters were interesting and the plot is engaging. Although, I really didn't find it hard to guess what would happen, what the characters' real motivations were, or the basic plot. Yet there were a few things did keep me guessing.

I do have to admit that the main character, Julia, is not extremely smart, but is a bit foolish. I would say that she  acts  like a modern 17 year old girl that doesn't understand the nature of people. I do wish she was a smarter character.

This book is the first in a trilogy, and I look forward to reading the next installments. On the other hand, looking at it from a Christian point-of-view, I hope to see more of the Christian faith developed. The character of Julia is basically an atheist, for that was how she was brought up. I would like to see more hints of how other characters' faiths will develop and influence her. I expect that in the next two books in the series I will be satisfied. I think many will find it an intriguing read. The discussion questions at the end of the book do help to give you a peek into things the author has written, that you might miss reading it.

Overall, I would recommend this book to an older reader because there is some material that is a little too romantic for younger readers.

I received this book from the author in return for a review.  All opinions are my own....

Friday, August 16, 2013

My Princess Devotions, Preschool Edition by Karen Whiting

My Princess Devotions, Preschool Edition
Karen Whiting
Tyndale Kids

Little girls will be delighted to receive this princess themed devotional filled with words from the King.  I got this because my 7 year old daughter just loves princesses and fairies and more, and I wondered if this would be a good book for her.  The exterior has artwork with princesses and some raised embossing for decoration, just right for little girls, preschool and older.  The question is... would God's Word be presented appropriately?  I think it was.
Each page is devoted to a day of the year and has a title, the Royal Words, Princess Thoughts,  A Prayer for the King, and Princess in Action sections.  The variety and subjects of the verses are well picked and show a wide range of verses that are great for anyone to learn.  The princess thoughts are explanations of the verses appropriate for a preschooler.  I didn't think any were out of line.  There is a brief prayer, and an action to go with the verse such as  showing your parents honor by obeying them, etc.  The thoughts do not go deep into meaning but  do provide sufficient information for the appropriate age level, although a few I thought digressed a little.
Overall, I would recommend this book for preschool and even up through about 7.  My daughter is excited about it, and I'm glad to let her have it.

I received this book from the publisher.  All opinions are my own, and I was not required to give a positive opinion.  Thank you.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


I've been very lax on posting photos lately, and I have a wedding and other things to post but for now I would like to share some senior portraits of Noble that I took on Monday evening.  Noble is my pastor's son, and I have gotten to know him over the past 12 years, and so it was a lot of fun to create his portraits....

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Snow on Tulips by Liz Tolsma

Snow on Tulips

Liz Tolsma

Thomas Nelson

Cornelia lost her husband to the ward on her wedding night, now she seeks to protect her impulsive brother from the Third Reich. Yet, something invades her tightly closed world.

Johan's sister has a tight leash on him in the name of protecting him, but he brings home Gerritt – a resistance worker wounded after being shot by the Germans. Now Cornelia, faced with a wounded man, makes the decision to nurse him to health, and the story takes off from there.

I really enjoyed this book. It is well written,and it brings the focus on the sovereignty of God. The characters are well developed, although I would like to have had the various side stories more deeply developed – e.g. develop the resistance workers and their missions, develop more of Johan's experiences, etc. I did like how she wove her sister's story into the book, although; again, I would like more development.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book, especially if you enjoy the WWII era.

I received this book from for reviewing. The opinion is my own.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Bride For All Seasons by Brownley, Clopton, Connealy, and Hatcher

A Bride For All Seasons
 by Margaret Brownley,
Debra Clopton,
Mary Connealy,
and  Robin Lee Hatcher

Four women, four authors and four stories that take you back into the old west as women and men searched for each other through the mail.  This book is a compilation of four short stories focusing on mail-order brides who met their husbands through the Hitching Post Mail Order Bride Catalog andit's mischievious editor.

The first story introduces us to Mary-Jo who, when finding her future husband has passed away just prior to her arrival, finds herself helping his wayward young son and falling in love with her would-be brother-in-law.

In the second story, we meet Ellie, whose faith is just what her future husband didn't want in a wife.  But Ellie's persistence, her love for his daughter and her beauty convince her future husband to fall in love with her.

In the third story, we meet Luvena, and her nieces and nephews, an unexpected addition to the package.  Will she be sent away, or will she win over the heart of the man she came to marry?

Finally, we meet a dying man, or so he thinks, as he welcomes a wife to care for his son after he passes.  Will Megan change David's diagnosis?  Or will she be a widow soon....

All four short stories are easy read for a lazy afternoon.  All are written well, yet predictable as this genre is.  I enjoyed each one and read them steadily.  There are a few character quirks that I thought unnecessary for the first story, such as one character's superstitions.  I really didn't like that the character at the hitching post, who changed the personal letters to bring people together, considered himself a Christian, yet used deceit and justified it because of the end.  That was my big problem in the book.  I would recommend this book to anyone wanting a fun and enjoyable afternoon read.

This book was provided by Thomas Nelson for review, and I was not required to give a positive reivew.  Thank you.

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Outcast by Jolina Petersheim

The Outcast

Jolina Petersheim

Tyndale Books

In this contemporary story patterned after the Scarlet Letter, which is set in an old order Mennonite community, we meet Rachel Stoltzfus. Rachel has found herself being shunned after bearing a child outside of marriage and being unrepentant of her sin. She has found herself living with a kind but odd older woman as she faces shunning, a loving suitor, and the illness of her child that will set the truth in motion.
This story is told from the first person present tense, which I found hard to enjoy initially, but her story and writing kept me reading. The story is told from Rachel's first person perspective, and a dead relatives' perspective (Amos) as he watches the scenario unfold from his heavenly home. I really did not like the dead relative's perspective at all. I think my theology differs from the author's enough that I have some trouble with Amos. In one instance, Amos is asking God if he can “speak life” into a particular character. This is word faith theology (error) showing through. I did like how she portrayed that the plain folk are not perfect, but face sin like everyone else.

Overall, Ms. Petersheim writes an engaging story that is somewhat predictable but a good afternoon read. I just wish she had left out Amos' word faith theology, fortunately it's a small part.

This book was provided by Tyndale for review purposes. Reviews were not required to be positive.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

We have to paint what? Part III - Bats and other fun things...

After various interruptions in painting the house, we got another afternoon under our belt.  One thing that was holding us up is the availability of a safe tall ladder.  We got one and proceeded...
Here is Brian painting a window.

Get that corner Brian!

I thought this was a neat perspective.

Ahhh here is the ladder... At first I didn't like being up on it, but I got used to it... I love the orange against the white...
Here is my scraping and painting perspective...

Here are the electrical wires that lead into our house... Hmm, I want to stay away from those!

Nothing is complete until you have painted yourself.

Gotta watch out for that hand...
One and a half side slowly primed and much more to go!