The Sister CircleThe Sister Circle by Vonette Bright & Nancy Moser

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

About the Book:
The Sister Circle, book one of this charming contemporary series, introduces Peerbaugh Place, the quaint Victorian house that becomes a refuge to seven women of vastly different ages, personalities, and backgrounds. Through struggles and triumphs, the women forge a special bond of sisterhood. Readers will find their own place in the circle, gaining insight into their own spiritual gifts, as they laugh and cry with each of these women.

My Thoughts:
This starts out looking like fun, light Christian chick lit but reveals a surprisingly deep side as the women in the book grow closer to each other and examine their lives in the light of the gospel. I would recommend it and am planning to continue reading the series.

Pearl in the SandPearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the second book I have read by this author (the first was Harvest of Rubies), and I wish there were more! I am definitely a big fan.

The depth of the characters, the detailed historical settings, and the intimate look at our relationship with God and others are all done so exquisitely. I loved too that this had a different approach to the main character’s restoration, as in this story the husband is instrumental in her healing.

Wonderful book!

Meet Lily Lapp, a sweet and energetic little girl growing up in a small Amish community in upstate New York. Her Papa and Mama have just welcomed a new baby brother, making her a big sister for the second time, and she loves playing with her cousins and spending time with her Grandma and Grandpa who live nearby.

It seems every day holds a new adventure, as Lily helps around the house and farm, goes to school, makes friends, and even occasionally gets into a bit of trouble. And, even as Lily is exploring and having fun, she is also learning from her parents’ example what it means to be Amish.

Read my full review and enter to win one of THREE (3) copies of Life with Lily at 5 Minutes for Books.

Blood TypeBlood Type by Melissa Luznicky Garrett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

About the Book
Since getting attacked by a vampire, I didn’t believe in beginnings. Only endings. Every person born to this world comes with an expiration date, but I had never considered mine. At least not until I met John.

Now the end was all I ever thought about. I woke up every morning wondering if that day would be my last. Venom pulsed in my veins and seeped into my bones, infecting all my vital organs and changing me from the inside out. Slowly killing me.

But I’d welcome death in the end, if only because the alternative was even more frightening.

Popular girl Blake Ehlert has it all: a prime spot on the cheerleading squad, a jock boyfriend who’s strong and sensitive, and the winning vote for Homecoming Queen two years in a row. But when she strikes up a conversation with loner John Kelly, her entire world starts to crumble.

John Kelly is a vampire—what’s known to his kind as a Compeller. It’s his job to recruit human Donors with a particular blood type.

And Blake is his next target.

My Thoughts:
Another great YA novel from an up and coming author! In Blood Type, Garrett gives us her take on the popular vampire story, with this one centering on a young girl who has been infected by a vampire and now has to decide whether to allow herself to die or choose to be turned into a vampire.

The details of the vampire society in this book were fascinating, with each one having a different role to fulfill as they attempt to live undetected by the humans. I also enjoyed the way the plot unfolds, alternating between the present time when she is trying to figure out what to do and the recent past so we can understand how things got to this point.

Most importantly, I can safely recommend it as appropriate for my teenage friends as there is nothing too explicit or adult taking place!

Editors Note: This is a guest post on a topic that affects us all in one way or another. I received no compensation for posting this, but simply wanted to share it because I think it’s an important issue in our society.

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), and this year’s theme is “A Strong Workforce Is an Inclusive Workforce: What Can YOU Do?” The topic couldn’t be more salient. A job is a precious commodity, but never more so in a slowly recovering economy; and it is up to each of us to insure that the economy we’re reviving is predicated on jobs that are open to all qualified applicants.

NDEAM is a national campaign sponsored by the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). It originates from a 1945 law declaring the first week of October “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week” and has undergone several permutations since then. The campaign’s current primary aim is to educate and empower the public, employers, and individuals with disabilities in order to celebrate diversity and safeguard equal opportunity to work.

The first step we can all take this month is to acknowledge that the biggest barrier to employment many individuals with disabilities face is not always, in fact, a disability: it’s a stereotype.

Human beings are quick to label, and when a job applicant discloses a disability, the disclosure can often overshadow the applicant. Even conscientious employers may unintentionally focus more on the disclosure—or some of the most pervasive myths about hiring individuals with disabilities—than on the unique skills, knowledge, and other qualifications the applicant may possess.

Individuals with disabilities also face practical obstacles, such as transportation or scheduling issues. They may have had fewer opportunities to cultivate and refine skills essential to their fields, and their resumes may not reflect continuous employment (or the entirety of their professional worth). It is therefore the responsibility of employers and human resource administrators not only to fully adhere to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but also to foster an inclusive professional culture.

This means more than disregarding pervasive myths, such as the idea that people with disabilities have a higher absentee rate than employees without disabilities or the fear that employing people with disabilities will be more expensive than not. In fact, according to a 2008 Rutgers University study, employees with disabilities have a lower absenteeism rate than other employees, and ODEP reported the same year that most large and mid-sized companies report no significant increase in cost with the addition of employees with disabilities.

A truly inclusive professional culture can only be attained when human resources administrators undergo appropriate training and education. Some of the requisite subjects in which human resources administration should be fluent include disability etiquette and “person-first” perspectives; ADA and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance; tax incentives that support the employment of individuals with disabilities; and all relevant ethical and legal perspectives on wages, benefits, and job-evaluation equity.

Human resources administrators can further enrich the workplaces they oversee by exploring the ways in which diversity and accessibility build business. For instance, an inclusive and vibrant workplace leads to greater employee engagement—which leads to greater productivity and fewer turn-overs. That’s because all people, with and without disabilities, flourish in communities that honor diversity, inclusion, and individual recognition. In other words, we all stand to benefit by adopting NDEAM’s mission not just in October, but every day of the year.

About the Author
Dafe Ojaide writes on human resources degree and training programs for University Alliance on behalf of Florida Tech. For more information visit Florida Tech.