Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What's on my Nightstand - April

What's On Your Nightstand

It is time for the monthly What's on my Nightstand post hosted by 5 minutes for books.

It was a good month for reading. I read most of the books on my list and added a few others. Here is the list of what I read last month:

  • Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne (My Review)
  • Weekend Makeover by Don Aslett
  • The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
  • Beauty by Robin McKinley
  • The Door in the Hedge by Robin McKinley
  • Michal by Jill Eileen Smith
  • Blog Blazers by Stephane Grenier
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • Take One by Karen Kingsbury (My Review)
  • The Noticer by Andy Andrews (My Review)

On my nightstand for next month:

  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (for Classics Bookclub)
  • The Prayer Chest by August Gold and Joel Fotinos
  • Inside the Revolution by Joel C. Rosenberg
  • Children of God by Mary Doria Russell
  • Ulterior Motives by Mark Andrew Olsen
  • Boneman's Daughters by Ted Dekker
  • Tenth Stone by Bodie & Brock Thoene

Little League starts this Saturday and both of my children are playing. Maybe I can read between innings. Maybe I just won't sleep. Anyway, it should be a busy but enjoyable month.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Book Review: The Noticer by Andy Andrews

The Noticer: Sometimes, all a person needs is a little perspective.
Andy Andrews
Thomas Nelson
176 Pages

I was very happy to receive a copy of The Noticer by Andy Andrews from Thomas Nelson's Book Review Blogger program. I have read several of Andy Andrews books and heard him speak several times.

The Noticer is a story about an old man named Jones. Not Mr. Jones as he tells everyone, just Jones. At first, he seems to be a drifter. But as the story progresses, he seems to be much more. He finds people that are at a crisis point in their life and shows them a new perspective.

He talks to a young homeless man, a married couple headed for divorce, a worrier, teenagers, an old woman who feels useless, a business man who cuts corners to achieve the "big picture" and many others. He talks to them about how they can put their life in perspective and make it into something better.

I think that just about anyone can identify with one (or more) of the people in this book. I certainly did. I intend to reread that section and apply Jones' advice in my life. There is a good study guide in the back with some very thought provoking questions to ponder.

The Noticer is a quick read. It is meant to help the reader gain a new perspective on their own life. I found it enjoyable and it gave me a lot to think about.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Review: Hallmark Card Studio 2009

I will be the first to admit that I am terrible at sending cards. I never seem to remember until the birthday or event is already here or past. I would like to do more than just send a quick e-mail saying "Happy Birthday". I think that I now have the tool I need to help me do that.

I was asked to evaluate and review Hallmark Card Studio 2009 (HCS). HCS gives you the ability to create and personalize cards for just about any occasion. It has over 5,000 Hallmark cards and projects for all occasions. It has over 600 designs and 9,000 clip art images.


The disk is a dvd and needs a dvd drive. If you only have a CD-ROM drive, you can exchange it for a cd version for free. Details are on an insert with the dvd.

Installation was easy. After putting the disk in the drive, I just followed the prompts on the screen. One of the prompts asks if you want to setup a kid lock. Some of the cards have content that is inappropriate for children. So I chose to set a password for that content. It took 14 minutes to completely install. If you register after installing, you will be able to download a bonus collection of birthday cards.

Card Making

There are thousands of pre-made cards that you can click on, personalize and print in minutes. There are cards for birthdays, holidays, and special occasions. There is a day-by-day section that has cards for thank you, friends, secret pal, bon voyage, sympathy and get well. There are also cards in Spanish and for step-families.

If you would like to start from scratch, you can choose the art studio. The art studio allows you to use their clip art and sentiments or use your own.

If you wish, you can personalize cards by adding your own photos.

Other Projects

You can make more than just cards. There are options to make photo cubes, frames and mini albums. You can make announcements and invitations. There are also calendars, gift tags, stickers, envelopes, labels, stationary and note cards. You can even make scrapbook pages.

Event Planner

HCS has an event planner built in. It is an onscreen calendar that has most holidays already on it. You can add your friends and families birthdays and anniversaries. I am hoping that after I finish entering all the information in it, it will help me remember who I need to make cards for.


I found this program very easy to use. I was able to find cards for most occasions I could think of. I found it easy to create a card from scratch. I was pleased with how fast the program moved from screen to screen. I look forward to making some of the other projects.

I would recommend purchasing card stock to print the cards on. It gives the cards a more professional, finished look.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Book Review: Take One by Karen Kingsbury

Take One (Above the Line Series #1)
Karen Kingsbury
352 Pages

Take One is the latest book by Karen Kingsbury. It is the first of a four book series called Above the Line.

Most of this story takes place in Bloomington, IN. During the course of the story, Chase and Keith meet the Baxter and Flanigan families that millions have come to love from Karen's other books.

There are two story lines. The first one is about the making of the movie and all the problems they encounter. The second one is about Keith's daughter, Andi, and her roommate Bailey Flanigan.

Keith and Chase are trying to make a movie that will inspire and change people's lives. They are limited by a very tight budget. Things start to go wrong right from the beginning of the shoot. One star has a fit over what is served for breakfast and another star is bitten by a dog. Then the union causes problems for the crew. Every delay is costing them money. Without another investor, they will have to close down the shoot and admit failure.

Andi and Bailey are freshmen at Indiana University. Bailey is dating Tim but has strong feelings for Cody. Andi is going through a crisis of faith. She grew up as a missionary kid in Indonesia. Now that she is on her own, she is unsure if what she was taught is really relevant in today's world. She wants to live a little.

I enjoyed this book on several levels. First, it was a good story. Plot and characters were well written. Second, I enjoyed the familiar setting. The inclusion of the Baxter family made me feel like I was seeing old friends again. Third, I was very moved by an illustration of the power of prayer. When the union is causing trouble, the community comes together to "pray until something happens".

Karen Kingsbury has again written a story that will appeal to many people. I look forward to the next book in the series, Take Two, which releases June 23, 2009.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Classics Book Club: Around the World in 80 Days

Classics Bookclub

This months classic is Around the World in 80 Daysby Jules Verne. I remember reading an Illustrated Classic Edition of this story when I was young. This was my first time reading the full story.

I really enjoyed this story. The idea of just traveling for almost three months is very appealing. Today, traveling is just a means of getting where we are going. We can go anywhere in the world in a very short amount of time. My husband and I would love to someday take a train trip across the country. I think that would be a great way to see the country.

I found that I enjoyed the character of Passepartout the most. He was the one who had most of the adventures. He saw the sights. He experienced the local cultures and food. He enters a forbidden pagoda in India. He helped rescue Aouda. He helps rescue the train from the Indians and then gets captured by them. He was full of energy and curiosity.

I think this book would be very good for boys to read. I am always on the lookout for something interesting for my 10 year old son. He likes to read but it needs to have some adventure in it or he loses interest. I think that he would like this story.

If you would like to read more discussions of Around the World in 80 Days, check out 5 Minutes for Books.