Friday, March 29, 2013

REVIEW: Get You Good by Rhonda Bowen

Date:                          3/25/13
Title:                           Get You Good
Author:                        Rhonda Bowen
ISBN 13:                       978-0758281364
Pages:                         327
Publisher:                    Dafina/Kensington
Cover:                         Paperback
Rating:                         4 Stars

Sydney Isaacs has poured all that she has into Decadent, the family business. The only problem
is that Sydney’s step-father specified in his will that her half-brother Dean obtain ownership of the high class eatery once he turned twenty-one. Upon turning twenty-one Dean has managed to forfeit a degree, gain a wife and has a baby on the way. In addition, he wants to follow his dreams of being a music producer and that takes money—money he doesn’t have unless he sells Decadent. Sydney is in fear of losing her dream to a brother who has never had an interest in the eatery and his greedy new wife Sheree.

In addition to dealing with her family drama, a very handsome blast from her past shows up. Hayden is a former NBA player who has always had his heart set on Sydney. He will do anything it takes to win her over. After fighting hard not to fall for Hayden, Sydney gives in. Things seem to be going well until Sheree shows her true colors and Sydney finds that Hayden and Sheree are closer than she could ever imagine.

It’s often said that love and money can make anyone stoop to the lowest levels and that even goes for squeaky clean Sydney. She vows to take Sheree down, and in doing so it could cost her Decadent and the man she loves.

Get You Good, is a twist of family drama, girl fights, tall dark and handsome and whole lot of Decadent Red Velvet Cake. Rhonda Bowen did good with Get You Good.

Literary Wonders!/The Author’s Hideaway Disclaimer:
I received a free copy of this book for my honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

REVIEW: Stop Dieting and Start Losing Weight by Jen Brewer, RD

Date:                          3/12/13
Title:                           Stop Dieting and Start Losing Weight
Author:                        Jen Brewer, RD
ISBN 13:                       978-1462110636
Pages:                         168
Publisher:                    Cedar Fort
Cover:                         Paperback
Rating:                         4 Stars

I must admit when I first started reading this book, I was a bit skeptical. I mean after all, I could
open up a mini-bookstore with the books about dieting and losing weight that I currently have on my shelf, or being used as a door stop in my office.  However, what caused me to read the entire book, a small one in size, is the section on carbohydrates.  Being a type 2 diabetic for 8 years, it wasn’t until recently that I realized why I could not lose weight and why every time I went to my doctor she wanted to put me on even more medications. When I paid more attention to my carb intake to exercise ratio than my calories and fats, it hit me like a light bulb—this was one of the main keys in my weight loss.

In Stop Dieting and Start Losing Weight, Jen Brewer writes about a more permanent lifestyle. The book is full of no nonsense principles that debunk myths we’ve learned over the years. We must realize that in addition to learning what works for our bodies and what doesn’t, we must get the proper amount of sleep and we must exercise. Many diets talk about food combinations and even brag about losing weight without having to do a bit of exercise; these are usually the diets that fail.

Brewer gives valuable tips like partnering with a buddy for motivation, getting to the root of emotional eating, and other vital tips for your life-long weight loss.

Literary Wonders!/The Author’s Hideaway Disclaimer:
I received a free copy of this book from Cedar Fort Publishers, for my honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

REVIEW: Personal Branding for Dummies by Susan Chritton

Date: 2/7/14
Title: Personal Branding for Dummies
Author: Susan Chritton, M.Ed.
ISBN 13: 978-1118117927
Pages: 360
Publisher: Dummies
Cover: Paperback
Rating:         4 Stars

This book is a confirmation of what I tell many of my clients regarding branding. I'm amazed at how many opportunities to brand themselves, people let get away on a daily basis.

If you own a business, or are someway associated with a business, product or service, it's very important to brand yourself. From the start, Chritton writes about the importance of letting the world know who you are. This book is packed with tons of advice on how to brand yourself, get your name out to the masses and how to stand apart from your competitors. 

The authors touches on topics like press releases, media outlets and resources, social media, right down to your email signature. This is one of those books that every brand should have--even if you don't consider yourself to be a walking brand right now, I guarantee that will change once you navigate the pages of this book that should be in every small business owner's library.

Finally, the book has a handy little study and discussion guide at the end. 

Literary Wonders!/The Author's Hideaway Disclaimer:
I received a free copy of this book from the Amazon Vine Program, for my honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

REVIEW: The 10 Second Rule by Clare Degraaf

Date:                          3/7/14
Title:                           The 10 Second Rule; Following Jesus Made Simple
Author:                        Clare Degraaf
ISBN 13:                       978-1476702773
Pages:                         240
Publisher:                    Howard Books
Cover:                         Hard Cover
Rating:                         4 Stars

The 10 Second Rule is made up of a group of principles and practices that are easy to follow
and ultimately teaches how to be more like Jesus. Many will find themselves relating to this book as they see instances of their lives displayed on the pages.

I found this book very useful and in addition to the helpful scripture and famous saying, one in particular I found to be very profound. The quote: The Bible is very easy to understand, but we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly. ~~Soren Kierkegaard.

With all the turmoil and denying of Christianity in today’s times, this book is refreshing and reminds us that some things happen for a reason, some must happen, but we must continue to seek to be more like Jesus. Truth be told, we need all the help we can get.

Finally, the book has a handy little study and discussion guide at the end.

Literary Wonders!/The Author’s Hideaway Disclaimer:
I received a free copy of this book from Howard Books, for my honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

REVIEW: The End of Worry by Van Der Hart & Waller

Date:                          2/22/14
Title:                           The End of Worry: Why We Worry and How to Stop  
Author:                        Will Van Der Hart and Rob Waller
ISBN 13:                       978-1451682809
Pages:                         240
Publisher:                    Howard Books
Cover:                         Paperback
Rating:                         4 Stars

We hear it all the time—we hear it from our spiritual leaders, we hear it from our doctors
and we hear it from our families, “Worrying is going to be the death of you.”

In The End of Worry: Why We Worry and How to Stop by Will Van Der Hart and Rob Waller dissect a)Why we worry, b)Understanding why we worry, and c) What happens when we worry. Humans tend to worry about things they cannot control. Some understand, while others don’t understand that worry can lead to unnecessary anxiety and real health problems.

The End of Worry is an interactive book that challenges its reader with exercises that helps to get to the root of worry and gives effective steps and tips on how to redirect stress into problem solving. The process can actually be quite therapeutic.

In addition the book ties into spiritual solutions to worry and gives biblical scripture as a point of reference. I love the prayers at the back of the book. Many do not know how to pray and this book helps in that area.

This book can be used by a single user or as the authors have indicated at the conclusion of the book, this book can be shared with other family members and even book clubs. This is definitely not one of those books you’ll read and just put on your bookshelf, this book will get plenty of use, end up with lots of writing and bent page corners.

Literary Wonders!/The Author’s Hideaway Disclaimer:
I received a free copy of this book from Howard Books, for my honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

BOOK TOUR: Get You Good Virtual Book Tour

About the Author
Rhonda Bowen is a writer and event planner living in Toronto. She enjoys spending time with her family, trying on shoes she can’t afford, and enjoying life’s unexpected twists and turns. You can reach her by dropping a note in the comment box below or emailing her directly at

About the Book

Sydney Isaacs has two priorities: her family, and Decadent, the gourmet pastry business they founded almost three generations ago. But both are in jeopardy when her brother, Dean, announces his sudden marriage to the conniving Sheree Vern. Furthermore Dean's inheritance of the ownership of Decadent from their father, despite Dean's lack of interest, leaves Sydney with few options. Now Dean and Sheree are selling the store to finance his music dreams—or so Dean believes… Thanks to Sheree, Dean’s plans, the business, and his marriage, soon implode in ways he never expected—leaving Sydney determined to salvage whatever she can and fix the mess left behind. Her only solace is her romance with Hayden Windsor. But Hayden is Sheree's half brother and it doesn't take long for Sydney to wonder: what if Hayden knew about Sheree’s scheming all along? Soon Sydney creates a deception of her own to find out the truth. Her strategy is working, until the consequences threaten to destroy everything she values most—including her faith. Overcome with guilt, can she make things right with her brother, with Hayden, and with God? 

Purchase the Book Online at:

Book Review
Review Coming Soon!

Visit the author online at:

View the blog tour schedule at:

Thursday, March 21, 2013

REVIEW: Lone Bean by Chudney Ross

Date:                 3/20/13
Title:                  Lone Bean
Author:              Chudney Ross
ISBN 13:           978-0061660115
Pages:             208
Publisher:         Amistad
Cover:              Paperback
Rating:              4 Stars

Chrysanthemum "Lone" Bean is the youngest of three girls. Her father is a music teacher and her mother is a ob-gyn nurse. The summer is coming to an end. Lone Bean is excited about seeing her best friend, Carla and starting the third grade. The excitement is short lived. This year will be full of surprises.

Lone Bean is a quick read that illustrates some of the issues third graders experience. This would be an excellent book for a parent and child to read together.

REVIEW: Nikki and Deja Wedding Drama by Karen English

Date:                 3/20/13
Title:                  Nikki and Deja Wedding Drama
Author:              Karen English
ISBN 13:           978-0547615646
Pages:              12
Publisher:         Clarion Books
Cover:              Paperback
Rating:              3 Stars

Nikki and Deja are best friends. Their teacher is getting married has has two invitations to give out. She has a drawing the the girls won. They are excited and looking forward to attending but one experiences some hard times. Will they both be in attendance?

This is my first read by Karen English. It is part of series but can be read as a stand alone. This wouldn't necessarily appeal to little boys. It's a quick read I would recommend.

REVIEW: When Two Become One by Alicia Hill Jones

Date:                 3/20/13
Title:                 When Two Become One
Author:              Alicia Hill Jones
ISBN 13:           978-0979464621
Pages:              320
Publisher:         Destiny 11 Publications
Cover:              Paperback
Rating:              5 Stars

Shayna is a God fearing accountant. Jonas is a real estate agent who has turned his back on God. They are having some marital issues. Shayna turns to God while Jonas blames God for all of the wrong going on in his life. They're on the verge of divorce when tragedy strikes. Will the tragedy bring them back together or expedite the split?

I absolutely loved this book. The character development was phenomenal. Jones does an excellent job of telling a story without being too preachy. This is a book that will make you reflect on your relationship. The material is real and for that reason, I highly recommend especially to those who want to work things out but don't know how.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

BLOG TOUR: Where are the Christians Book Tour

Ponder if you will the state of our world; and in particular the condition of America. Although one can easily argue the United States is still the greatest nation in the world and a country so many desire to come to—even risk their lives to enter into—there is no denying America’s social, moral and spiritual fabric continues to deteriorate at an accelerated pace. For many this is an alarming and discouraging trend.

Now consider the fact that 76% of Americans claim to be Christian, making the United States one of the highest per-capita Christian nations in the world. A nation full of Christians in a deteriorating society? If this indeed be the case then WHERE ARE THE CHRISTIANS? To solve this conundrum author Eric Shuster gives us a book that bears this question as its title with the promise of answers and unique journey for readers.

Where are the Christians? uses the classic format of who, what, where and how to explore Christianity and the dynamics that unite and divide the religion into the unrealized potential it suffers from today (thus the subtitle of the book—the Unrealized Potential of a Divided Religion). The book enlightens readers as to who the Christians are from a historical perspective; what a Christian is from a spiritual perspective; where the Christians are from a behavioral perspective; and how Christianity can be strengthened and more united from a societal perspective. Where are the Christians? examines hundreds of Biblical and scholarly sources, analyzing data from a multitude of studies leading to unique perspectives and solutions to the challenges facing Christianity in the modern era.

Where are the Christians? contains 17 chapters arranged into four sections:

·         SECTION 1:  WHO ARE THE CHRISTIANS?—a history4 chapters providing a concise history of Christianity spread across four distinct periods:  Evangelization and Formation, Legitimacy and Codification, Corruption and Division, and Reform and Denominational Proliferation.

·         SECTION 2:  WHAT IS A CHRISTIAN?—a definition4 chapters examining the definition of a Christian from the perspectives of the world, the Bible, landmark religious studies, and what Shuster refers to as Modern Day Pharisees.  

·         SECTION 3:  WHERE ARE THE CHRISTIANS?—a categorization5 chapters profiling the five types of modern Christians including a unique and enlightening exercise to help readers understand what type of Christian they are among the five. 

·         SECTION 4 – HOW IS CHRISTIANITY TO UNITE?—a vision:  4 chapters describing the ways Christians in America can unite into a force for good by focusing on individuals, families, churches and communities. 

For the next 4 weeks author Eric Shuster will take us on a tour through each of the four sections of Where are the Christians? providing a glimpse of what the book is all about—the questions it will answer in each chapter, the insights it will provide, and the vision it lays out in bringing together a deeply divided religion into realizing its true potential for America. This is one tour you won’t want to miss!

Albert Schweitzer once said "One truth stands firm. All that happens in world history rests on something spiritual. If the spiritual is strong, it creates world history. If it is weak, it suffers world history.” Section one of Where are the Christians? takes on the daunting task of providing a concise and compelling history of Christianity to give readers a background of where it all began as a foundation moving forward. To help the reader navigate an otherwise complicated history Shuster divides the 2000 year period into four segments, one for each of the four chapters in section 1.

Chapter 1:  They Were Evangelizers and Builders (up to AD 299)
While some might think Christianity began the day Christ was born, Christianity was long prophesied in the Old Testament. The over two centuries that followed during the Evangelization and Formation Period were defined by seven major categories of events:  persecution of the church, martyrdom of its early leaders, the spreading of the gospel outside of Palestine, the conversion of Paul, the formation of the church, early heresies, and the writing of the New Testament.

Chapter 2:  They were Legitimized and Codified (AD 300-999)
The Legitimacy and Codification Period from AD 300 to 999 was a time for Christianity to continue its global proliferation, while codifying its doctrines and legitimizing its place in religion and politics. This period of Christianity was defined by seven categories of events:  the continuation of persecution and evangelization, increased heresies, doctrinal codification, hierarchy and politics, validation, and the seeds of corruption.

Chapter 3:  They were Corrupted and Divided (1000-1499)
As the Christian Church neared the millennial landmark it began to be faced with significant issues of leadership that would rupture its unity. Although Christianity was still spreading throughout the world, the organization of the Church would be challenged by its integration with the political structure and an increasingly corrupt leadership.  The Corruption and Division period (1000-1499) is marked by four categories of events including doctrinal evolution, church and state integration, corruption and division.

Chapter 4:  They were Reformed and Scattered (1500 to the Present)
The final segment of Christian history covers the year1500 to the present and is called the Reform and Denominational Proliferation Period. During this period individuals came forward to challenge the established Christian Church to reform itself from corruption. This period is marked by five major activities including the carryover of corruption, the emergence of refiners, reformers and restorers, Christian movements and influencers, the propagation of published scripture and the proliferation of denominations.

Modern-day Christians are influenced by the past and are products of their own history. It is a history that produced the best and worst of humanity over a 2,000 year period. Our faith walk today is affected by and reflects these four periods of Christian history. Having a better understanding of where we came from as a Christian people we are now ready for the next leg of our journey to answers the question:  “What is a Christian?”  

The next leg of the journey will define what a “Christian” is. A simple task, right? Think again. There are hundreds of definitions of a Christian that have been generated by individuals and institutions over the centuries. Not all of them can be right as the variations are sometimes mind numbing. In the next four chapters Shuster digs deeply into the definition from multiple angles to reveal the confusion, clarity, illumination and complication of coming up with a practical and meaningful definition of a Christian.

Chapter 5:  It’s Confusing According to the World
The first stop is to research the definitions of a Christian offered by respected secular publications, religious organizations, America’s ten largest Christian Churches and the internet at large. The result is a convoluted set of definitions with little commonality and plenty of confusion. 

Chapter 6:  It’s Clear According to the Bible
The title of the chapter suggests one need only proceed to Acts 11:26, Acts 26:28, or 1 Peter. 4:16 (the three places in the New Testament where the word “Christian” appears) and read a sentence that begins with “a Christian is…” Unfortunately it is not that easy. Jesus taught that we must “search the scriptures” (John 5:39). After finding little satisfaction in the previous chapter’s effort Shuster searches the Bible and uniquely segments the words attributed directly to Jesus Christ in the New Testament and those attributed to the New Testament authors starting in Acts. The effort leads to a clear two-part definition of a Believing Christian and a Practicing Christian.     

Chapter 7:  It’s Revealing According to the Data
The definition of a Christian developed in chapter 6 is put to the test in Chapter 7 using data from a number of landmark quantitative studies conducted in the United States from 2000 to 2012. Analysis from the studies reveals how the major Christian denominations in the United States today are performing in inspiring their members to be Believing and Practicing Christians. The results are nothing short of astounding.

Chapter 8:  It’s Complicated According to the Critics
Complicating matters in defining a Christian is the existence of Modern-day Pharisees—the “critics” among the Christian community. Jesus Christ during his public ministry was often confronted by the Pharisees who challenged his authority and spiritual legitimacy. The Pharisees viewed themselves as defenders of the Mosaic Law and the oral Torah just as Modern-day Pharisees view themselves as defenders of “true Biblical doctrine” as they interpret it. A review of America’s Founding Fathers and other historical figures helps demonstrate the dangers of reckless spiritual profiling.    

After completing the first two sections of the book readers are armed with a knowledge of Christian history (the “who”) and a comprehensive understanding of the profile of a Christian (the “what”) preparing them for the next leg of the journey to answer the question “where are the Christians?” While readers may have some inkling as to the answer, nothing could prepare them for what is offered by the author in Section 3.

The five chapters of Section 3 answer the question of “where are the Christians?” by revealing the five major types of Christians in America today:  Departing, Adequate, Hesitant, Laboring and Latent—and how the reader can complete an exercise to identify themselves among these five.    

Chapter 9:  They’re leaving—Losing Their Belief as Departing Christians
The first Christian type to be explored is the Departing Christian. These are Christians who are literally or psychologically losing their faith. These are Christians that don’t believe as they once did (or perhaps never did), who are living watered down doctrines of Christianity, and losing their testimony of the Savior through inactivity and prolonged sin without repentance. Simply put, these are Christians who have one foot in and one foot out.

Chapter 10:  They’re Hiding—Not Practicing Their Faith as Adequate Christians
The second Christian type identified is the Adequate Christian. These are Christians that are not leaving but rather “in hiding,” concealing themselves in the shadows unseen, ducking any and all spiritual responsibility in a desire to be left alone. 

Chapter 11:  They’re Vacillating—Living Under Their Potential as Hesitant Christians
The third Christian type profiled is the Hesitant Christian. These are Christians who are not departing or hiding, but are instead dithering and vacillating with great faith waiting to be cut loose! These Christians have enormous potential but are sitting on the sidelines indecisive about entering the game of true discipleship.

Chapter 12:  They’re Endeavoring—Living Discipleship in Christ as Laboring Christians
The forth major Christian type is the Laboring Christian. In the ideal Christian world the disciples of Christ continually embrace all of the values discussed in chapter 6 and live lives exemplary of the Savior; such is the journey of the Laboring Christian. The fifth Christian type is extremely rare as one exercising abundant works, but with little faith to support those works—this is the Latent Christian which is only briefly discussed.

Chapter 13:  What Kind of Christian are You? Complete the Exercise
Christians in America are spread out among those who are departing, feeling adequate, hesitating, and laboring (understanding there are very few who are latent). These Christians—meaning all Christians—move along a continuum based upon the exercising of faith unto works in an often erratic and volatile way. The book offers an exercise to help the reader identify their Christian type on the day the exercise is completed. Come back a year later and perhaps that type has shifted up or down the Christian Continuum.

The question of “are you a Christian?” now becomes irrelevant and is replaced by “what kind of Christian are you?”The Christian community can eliminate the judgmental spirit of deciding who is a Christian and who is not by moving to a more useful and productive dialogue of where believers are along the Christian Continuum. With readers understanding where the Christians are it is finally time to chart a course to greater unity among these hundreds of millions of people, the vision of Section 4.

Christianity has been in a state of increasing division since its inception. The four chapters of Section 4 answer the question posed by examining the unification process from the smallest to the largest units of Christianity including the individual, family, church and community. This is a concept Shuster calls the Model of Christian Unity. As each unit is strengthened spiritually the impact on society is not merely cumulative, but rather exponential as a result of spiritual synergy.

Chapter 14:  Strengthen the Individual
The first and most basic unit in the kingdom of God is the individual. The Savior said “I am the vine, ye are the branches,” and as branches nourished from the same vine we are to “bringeth forth much fruit: for without me [Jesus Christ] ye can do nothing” (John 15:5). Jesus told Peter “…when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” Because conversion is a continual process those who are more mature in their conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ (along the Christian Continuum) should lift up and help those who are not as far along.

Chapter 15:  Strengthen the Family
The second rung in the Model of Christian Unity is the family. Family reaches beyond genetics or a physical home. The family is under constant attack from the adversary seeking to destroy is goodness and influence in a multitude of ways leading to disastrous results. Whatever the configuration, strengthening the family is of critical importance in the spiritual unification process on the road to Christian Unity.

Chapter 16:  Strengthen the Church
The third rung of the Model of Christian Unity is the church. Strong individuals and strong families should make for a strong church; however, that is not always the case. Bringing together two or more strong families full of righteous individuals does not always guarantee church unification where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. It is a challenge to achieve spiritual synergy. Strengthening the church is an important aspect on the journey to unifying disparate Christians toward a stronger society.

Chapter 17:  Strengthen the Community
The fourth and final rung in the Model of Christian Unity is the community. The ideal scenario is for a community to be made up of strong individuals, families and churches. There is a phrase “think global, act local,” a phrase which has great applicability to the concept of the church community. There are hundreds of community building efforts among diverse Christian congregations operating and changing lives of individuals, families, churches and communities around the United States.

Unifying Christianity is not just a utopian pipe dream. The Model of Christian Unity is already hard at work.

Our 5 week journey has briefly summarized who the Christians are from a historical perspective; what a Christian is from a spiritual perspective; where the Christians are from a behavioral perspective; and how Christianity can be strengthened and more united from a societal perspective. Thank you for joining us on this journey.

Go to to watch the book trailer, find out what type of Christian you are, and to order the book.