Monday, July 28, 2014

Just so you know, my blog has moved!  Check me out at
www.ourmilkandhoneymeadows.com

And keep up with our crazy Farm Life!!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Book Review : The Revealing

Arriving back at the Inn at Eagle Hill, among the folks of Stony Ridge, is like going back to where you once lived.

 

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You see familiar places, reunite with old friends, and are flooded with memories.  I have so enjoyed reading all of the Amish novels by Suzanne Woods Fisher.

In the latest novel, The Revealing, the third in The Inn at Eagle Hill series, we conclude the story that has been building since the first page of The Letters.  We meet up with the Schrock family in book 1, and finally in book # 3 we find closure with many of the mysteries that we have wondered about in all three books!!

Suzanne Woods Fisher is a master of developing characters you want to grow closer to, learn more about, and follow as they face challenges and struggles.  Not only are the characters delightful, the twists in the plot keep you turning pages.  I have thoroughly enjoyed each of Ms. Fisher’s Amish Novels, and I have anxiously read each one, eager to solve the mystery and see the relationships blossom.

One of my favorite parts of all three books has been the character Mim, or Miriam.  She has managed to become an advice columnist in the local newspaper at the age of 12!  I love seeing her replies to the many questions people pose to her, but I also love watching her get all spun up about her relationship with Danny.  While Mim and Danny have grown closer in the past stories, in this one Danny is her teacher and their relationship is very strained.  In the end, Mim learns to trust Danny, despite how things appear.

If you are looking for a book that will keep you interested, but also lift your spirits, look no further!!  I do suggest you start with book #1 in this series though, as the story is best read in order.  However, there is plenty of review if you start with The Revealing – so don’t miss it!!


About the Book:

Naomi King, soft spoken, loyal, and easily overlooked, has a gift. She sees what others can't see. Intuition, she calls it. Others in Stoney Ridge don't know what to make of it and dismiss her hunches and inklings altogether.
When a young woman arrives at the Inn at Eagle Hill with a shocking secret about Tobe Schrock, Naomi fears the worst. She can't ignore the feeling that something sinister is at work--- something more than a threat to the tenuous love begun between her and Tobe.
As signs mount, they begin to point to Jake Hertzler, the elusive mastermind behind Schrock Investments' downfall. Soon, events spiral hopelessly out of control and Naomi must decide whether to listen to her head or her heart.
In this riveting conclusion to The Inn at Eagle Hill series, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher pulls out all the stops with a fast-paced tale of deception, revelation, and just the right dose of romance.


SFisher-245Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of the Inn at Eagle Hill series, Lancaster County Secrets series, and the Stoney Ridge Seasons series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace. She is also the coauthor of a new Amish children's series, The Adventures of Lily Lapp. Her interest in the Anabaptist cultures can be directly traced to her grandfather, who was raised in the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Suzanne is a Carol Award winner and a Christy Award finalist. She is a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazines. She lives in California.


NOTE : I was offered a copy of The Revealing, in exchange for an honest review by Litfuse.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Adventures in Odyssey

I am so excited to be sampling the new Odyssey Adventure Club!! 

 

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My boys have been fans since my oldest was about 4 years old.  He would listen at night when it was on the radio and he loved it!  I loved that is helped him relax after a busy day, but I also loved the truths that Odyssey teaches! 

So, fast forward 9 years and my little girl has suddenly become a devoted fan of Odyssey.  However, it is not on the radio anymore!!  Bummer!

So what am I to do?  I have all the free podcasts downloaded, but I think she has heard them all.  So I was beyond thrilled when offered a chance to check out the OAC for 3 months and then share what I think!!

So far we have loved hearing new episodes!  We can download 5 at a time onto my phone and then we can listen in the car.  There is an APP (of course there is) that allows you to listen when you have wifi too.  So I have enjoyed scrolling through and checking out episodes I want to listen to.

My most favorite thing though, is the Adventure Challenge!!  OAC has partnered with Compassion International!!  We love Compassion!!  So I cannot wait for a day when we can listen to both episodes of an adventure in Uganda!  Then you watch a video about sponsorship, then there is a webquest adventure followed by a chance to share your story!

If this does not sound like a perfect family devotion night, I am not sure what would!!  I hope that my family will carve out some time to do this over the coming weekend!  I think it will spark some great discussions!

So check it out and see what you think!!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Book Review : Seagrass Pier

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Colleen Coble has written another great novel!!  I loved Tidewater Inn almost 2 years ago, and I thoroughly enjoyed Seagrass Pier too!

The setting of these fast paced romantic novels takes place on the coast of North Carolina.  Colleen has a gift in the way she illustrates a place in your mind, one that you have never seen and yet can imagine with perfect clarity!  I feel like I am on the islands of the Outer Banks, I can almost feel and smell the sea breeze!  I think that is one of my favorite things about her books, she takes you there, immerses you in the beauty!

I love the characters too, as the main character Elin is adjusting to a healthy life after a heart transplant, her challenges were intriguing.  I am not sure how real cell memory is, where a patient has memories from the person whose organs they received.  However, the story was so interesting as Elin struggled with her new self.

The thriller part of the book kept my attention as well.  There is someone stalking Elin and her daughter and we are never quite sure who it is or why until the very end!

This is a great summer read, but one that might keep you up to finish the last page!

I enjoyed this book just as much as I did Tidewater Inn.  I enjoy Colleen’s writing style and her stories and I look forward to reading more by her in the future!!


About the Book :

Readers have really loved my Hope Beach series, and the 3rd book is coming in July! There is a pre-sale campaign going on, and you can get the digital version for only $4.99 if you order before the release date. And click this link to win a Kindle! So don’t miss out on the great deal! Here is the back cover copy:

In a secluded corner of Hope Beach, one woman must decipher a stranger’s memories . . . before they cost her everything.

Elin Summerall was one of the lucky ones. Not only did she get a heart transplant, but the donor was a perfect fit. A miraculously perfect fit.

But when Elin begins having violent flashbacks—and vivid dreams of being strangled—she realizes that she has been the recipient of more than just a new heart . . . Elin is remembering her donor’s murder.

Her strange affliction has attracted some unwanted attention: from the press, from the authorities . . . and from the killer himself. Now, living alone with her young daughter and aging mother, Elin is being stalked—by a man she’s only met in her nightmares.

The police are dubious of her story, but one off-duty FBI agent is eager to help her: Agent Marc Everton.

Now, in a remote cottage on Hope Island, Elin and Marc must probe the secrets buried in her borrowed heart. And there’s no time to waste. One man is desperate to silence her—before she remembers too much.


NOTE : I was offered a copy of Seagrass Pier in exchange for an honest review, by LitFuse.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Book Review : finding spiritual whitespace

So after reviewing tons of books of various genres I have decided that my favorite are thriller fiction.  I have signed up to read many other types of books and thoroughly enjoyed almost all of them, but non-fiction is a category that I am SUPER picky about now a-days.    I have found that I struggle to get through a non-fiction too much. 

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However!!  Oh my.  When I saw the blurb about Bonnie’s book Finding Spiritual Whitespace – okay, honestly the title alone decided it for me.   I had not idea where she would take this title, but I KNEW I need some spiritual whitespace.

Where Bonnie took me?  wow.  To put it bluntly.

Bonnie Gray wrote this book as a journey that she went on.  When she started writing this book she wanted to explore what whitespace was and how having spiritual whitespace would impact our walk with the Lord, she had no idea He was about to take her on the walk of her life.

The first few pages of this book grabbed me, it spoke to me, I even took a picture of one page and texted it to a friend to show her what I had just read.  This book was meant to be in my hands right then. 

As Bonnie went on her journey to explore her past, and uncover her hidden memories, she learned a great deal about how to slow down and dig deeper into who she was.  As she writes about her journey she prompts you to take your own journey.  This is not a book you read and put down and walk away, you interact with the Lord as Bonnie leads you along.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading through this book, stopping along the way and journaling through ideas and questions that came out of the book.  I enjoyed reading her story, and seeing how the Lord moved mountains in her life.  I find when I read about what the Lord has done for someone else, I find more courage to believe what he is going to do for me.

If you have a lack of whitespace in your life, and really who does not?  Who has the quiet slow moments?  Maybe there are others who do (who are not homeschooling 4, tending to a small hobby farm, keeping the home, serving outside the home, etc) but in this season of my life, whitespace is at a minimum.  This book helped me find a bit and realize I need even more.

Check out Bonnie’s Blog for a video of the book, and more about her! 

NOTE : I was offered a copy of Bonnie’s book Finding Spiritual Whitespace, in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Book Review : Persecuted

First, I need to tell you how thrilled I was to realize that the movie for this book was coming out in a few months!!  Oh My!

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I loved the pace of this book, the characters, and the story line!  I could not put it down, and I admit I had to ask my kids to keep it down more than once while in the last quarter of the book!!  Oh my!!

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Okay, so check out the trailer for the book (including scenes from the movie)…..

 

I love action/thriller type books and movies, and I LOVE a movie my kids can watch!!  I will have to see this first, but I can tell you that in the book there is NOTHING inappropriate.  THe “event” that happens is referred to as him being with a girl (with clothes on) taking pictures.

Okay, so back up.  This book is about how Washington can spin what they want about just about anyone.   An evangelical preacher is targeted because he will not endorse a bill going before Washington Politicians that will open Christianity up to more persectuion.  The bill is named a Fairness act, but John Luther realizes the true implications.  John then uses his platform to speak out against the bill.  Washington has other plans and arrangements are made to smear John Luther, hoping to force his hand.

However, we get to see who John Luther was as a boy, when he relies on his ability to run and hide.  Throughout the book, John flashes back to his youth and younger years, he reflects on his relationship with his father, and how much has changed since then. 

I loved the dramatic Washington story, but I also really enjoyed the look back at what made John the man he is today.  It was easy to see how God’s hand was on John from day one, and how his father’s love ultimately showed John God’s love.

I cannot wait to see the movie, and I am pretty excited that there are some more well known actors in it!  This is going to be a great movie that we can take the kids to.  It is important that we realize just how precious our rights are, and how quickly they can disappear!

Movie Trailer :


NOTE : I received a copy of Persecuted in exchange for an honest review, by Bethany House.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Book Review : All My Belongings

I have had my nose in a book almost non-stop the past few weeks.  I have to admit I have gotten to read some amazing books, and All My Belongings was one!!

Cynthia Ruchti wrote a book that will draw you in through it’s charming characters, is dramatic plot twists and turns, and keep you hooked through the redemptive conclusion.

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I am drawn to books that address family issues.  I think there are many reasons I am drawn, one I was raised in a typical American family – WITH issues.  The older I get, the more I realize most of us, nearly all, have family issues.  However, the scale of issues does vary greatly between families.

All of My Belongings is a book about a family with some HUGE issues.  Jayne is the main character who is trying to leave her family issues in the past, but soon realizes that is much harder than she realized.  Jayne changes her name, and tries to re-create a history that she is not ashamed to share, when people ask.  The problem is that Jayne, now Becca is not a good liar.

Once Becca is settled into a new life, she is welcomed into a family with open arms.  Becca begins caring for an aged mother, Aurelia,  as she spends her last weeks dealing with dementia and fighting heart failure.  Meanwhile Isaac falls head over heals in love, mostly due to Beccas’ tender caring of his mother.

The real drama begins once Aurelia passes away.  I will not go into details but everything is thrown into turmoil!  After his mom’s death, Isaac also begins searching for his birth mother, since he was adopted as an infant.

Why did I love this book?  Because while it may have a happy ending (hope that did not spoil it for you) – there is so much meat to this story.  There are multiple twists and turns, enough to keep you reading and even up a bit late!  This story is as real life as you can get.  The forgiveness that is offered, the redemption that takes place, it is so healing to read about.  As Becca learns to stand on her own, despite her past, is huge. 

As an adult who still looks back too often, I really connected with Becca and her past.  I felt that so much of what she learned about herself is what I still have to learn or remind myself of daily.  The look that Ms. Ruchti gives Dementia was pretty genuine too.  Having watched a few family members suffer from Dementia and Alzheimer's, I appreciated the sensitivity used to address the topic.  I also appreciated the honest emotions that the family felt and Becca felt while loving Aurelia and dealing with her disease.

This is a sweet story, with enough drama to keep it from being sappy.  The character are deep, strong and real.  I thoroughly enjoyed this story and I highly recommend it!


About the Book:

After spending years running from the shame her father put on her family, Jayne is determined not to let him steal her future in the same way he stole her childhood. Changing her name to Becca Morrow, she moves to California and settles into a new life and new job caring for ailing mother of handsome young businessman, Isaac Hughes.

But just as she's wondering if she and Isaac are headed for a relationship, Becca's patient passes away under unusual circumstances. Suddenly, her past catches up with her and the unnerving details of her heritage threaten to destroy all sense of home and all hope for love.

Even if she could clear her name, a phone call wraps a suffocating shroud around her heart. Her estranged father needs her help. But can Becca open her new life to the man who ruined her past?


About Cynthia Ruchti:

About the author: Cynthia Ruchti has more than three decades of radio broadcast experience with "Heartbeat of the Home" radio and currently serves as Professional Relations Liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers.


NOTE : I was offered a copy of All My Belongings in exchange for an honest review, by LitFuse.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Book Review : Moms’ Night Out Devotional

If you are in the market for a new Devotion Book to sink your teeth into, and if you are a mom, then I have a book for you!

mom devotion

Kerri Pomarolli has put together a wonderful devotion book, a great book for you or for a gift for a friend or family member!!  Kerri has a great sense of humor that she brings to her devotions, but she also brings  a serious perspective too.

Each devotion addresses a topic that is hardly new to any mom, she talks about real life issues that we all face, sometimes all day long. After each devotion there is a section of something to think about followed by a brief prayer. Topics include :Mirror Mirror in my car, Lies my daughter told me, Second Child Syndrome, Princess Mentality and many more!

Check out Kerri’s opinion of her book:

 

This is a great little devotion – I have enjoyed checking it out and plan to plant it next to my bed so that I can grab it before falling asleep and catching some humorous bits of truth to end my day with.  No matter what, these little stories will put a smile on your face as you brave another day as a mom!!

kerri

NOTE : I was offered a copy of Moms’ Night Out Devotional in exchange for an honest review, by LitFuse.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Book Review : Moms’ Night Out

I was so excited to be offered a chance to review Moms’ Night Out!  I knew when I saw the trailer I wanted to see the movie, and I was expecting the book to be just as enticing!

moms night out

I loved this book!  At first I simply enjoyed the story that sounded a whole lot like my life as a young mom with several little people.    But by the end I was really met with a message that resonated completely with me!  In fact I honestly think the main message of this movie is for any mom, dad or anyone who knows one! 

As a mom of 4 kids, 5 years apart, I can honestly say that this book is a true representation of a mom’s life.  So often we moms get so caught up in the doing, the being, the running that we forget why we do it.  I just loved how this story shows how women can encourage one another and build each other up.  I loved watching how the relationships between these three friends interact with one another, and how these women would each do anything for the others.

So I encourage you to grab a copy of the book, because the book is always better than the movie!  Enjoy each and every page and then run out and see the movie (that is on my schedule for this week)! 

Check out the trailer for the movie:

 


More about the book :

Moms' Night Out is a novelization of the hilarious family comedy that celebrates real family life---where everything can go wrong and still turn out all right.

All Allyson and her friends want is a peaceful, grown-up evening of dinner and conversation . . . a long-needed moms' night out. But in order to enjoy high heels, adult conversation and food not served in a bag, they need their husbands to watch the kids for a few hours-what could go wrong?

Chronicling one night out gone awry, three harried moms, their husbands, a sister-in-law with a misplaced baby, a tattoo parlor owner, a motorcycle gang, and a bewildered cabbie all learn to embrace the beautiful mess called parenting. This book spotlights the unfulfilled expectations and serial self-doubts many moms feel . . . then reassures us that the key is raising kids in a loving home. Mom's Night Out is an endearing, true-to-life comedy.

About the author:

USA Today best-selling author Tricia Goyer is the author of over 35 books, including meet-triciathe three-book Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors series and Lead Your Family Like Jesus (co-written with Ken Blanchard). She has written over 500 articles for national publications and blogs for high traffic sites like TheBetterMom.com and MomLifeToday.com. She is the host of Living Inspired, a weekly radio show. Tricia and family live in Little Rock, Arkansas. They have six children.

About the film:

The Moms' Night Out film features Sarah Drew (Grey's Anatomy), Sean Astin (THE LORD OF THE RINGS), Patricia Heaton (EVERBODY LOVES RAYMOND, THE MIDDLE), Alex Kendrick (COURAGEOUS), Robert Amaya (COURAGEOUS), Andrea Logan White (REVELATION ROAD), Kevin Downes (COURAGEOUS), and platinum-selling country recording artist Trace Adkins (THE LINCOLN LAWYER).


NOTE : I received a copy of Moms’ Night Out from LitFuse

in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Book Review : Fatal Exchange

I have another great summer read for you avid readers!!  Lisa Harris is the author of my latest read – and her book is Fatal Exchange.  This is the second book in her latest trilogy, however I did not read the first and it did not slow me down. 

 

fatal exchange

The series focuses on two sisters and a brother, and I suspect the first novel was about Michael, the brother, but it may have been about the oldest sister who is a detective.  Either way at the onset of this story, Michael is “dead” and Emily and Avery are Michael’s sisters and Avery is a detective with the police department that Michael also served on.  Clear as mud?

Okay.  So this story starts with Mason, Michael’s best friend, trying to help a friend (who is a student of Emily’s) find his brother.   Emily and Mason have a brief past, that was cut short due to her faith and his lack of faith in God.  Fast forward to today and Mason is living for the Lord, and a changed man.

As Emily and Mason have to work together to figure out just what is going on with their mutual friend, they rekindle their interest in one another.

There is many unknowns throughout the story, enough to keep you flipping pages, just when you think they have it figured out, a new twist presents itself.

I enjoyed the characters, they were easy to connect to and relate with, and I really enjoyed the story.  There were a few real life issues that were interesting to think about in between my times reading Fatal Exchange.

The most interesting point was the cliff hanger at the end, I cannot tell you what it was, don’t want to spoil it – but I will get my hands on book number three even if I do not get to review it!!

I am a new fan of Lisa Harris’ and I look forward to reading her future works! I think this is a great summer read, and no, you do not need to read the first book, but it would be fun!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Updates

It has been so long since I have been on my blog for anything besides a book review! Oh My! It seems life has gotten a bit busy, a new computer has made updating my blog tough, and probably a slew of other excuses!

So I found a free trial of a software program to help with the blog updating issue. I hope to find a few spare moments to get back to updating this more often (I miss the journal it is for me) and I hope to conquer any other excuses!

So what is new?

Baby goats were born in January - 4 of them to my 2 does. We were there and loved it.
We added 2 turkeys in February along with 75 broiler chicks.
We love a turkey to a raccoon in May, and butchered all our chicks in April, after we showed.
We added a new chicken coop - still a work in progress - it will house our hens and offer a rotational grazing deal.
The garden is doing well, sans weeds! yay!! We have a slew of tomatoes, peppers, a few watermelon, and squash. We planted some green beans too, three varieties and hope something makes!
The cows are still growing out in the pasture. One should be leaving in about 3 months. The other has some growing to do still, so she will be around a bit longer.
The biggest addition has been our bees!! My oldest J has become a beekeeper along with his dad! They are both pretty cute in their bee suits! After we received our two hives and bee boxes and stuff, Robert was able to catch a swarm at work, so now we have three hives! Oh my!
He has tasted a bit of our honey and is sure it is the best he has ever tasted!!

Well, for today I think that is all the updates I have. Life certainly is speeding right along here. We are not too close to finishing school, but no matter what we are promoting and starting up July 8th. So we will be making a mad rush to finish all we can in the coming weeks - squeezing in VBS, a mission trip and friends & family visiting! It should make for a great summer!!
(I'll have to post pics later because I cannot seem to figure that out either.....oh well!)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Book Review : One Perfect Spring

If you are on the lookout for a perfect summer book, one that you can take to the beach, the mountains, or anywhere in between, I have it for you!!  One Perfect Spring by Irene Hannon is a great summer read. 

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From the first couple pages I connected with  the characters and was quickly pulled in to their story!  When 11 year old Haley writes to a philanthropist for help to find her neighbor’s son, more than just a lost son is found.  Take a little mystery, some romance, Christians at different stages of life – mix it all up and you get another great book by Irene Hannon.

I cannot say who my favorite character is, because there is work-a-holic Keith who has supper with his mom every Sunday while repairing her condo.  Then there is fun-loving Haley who thinks there is a happy ending most days!  Claire is a damaged divorcee trying to figure out what the future holds for her and Haley.  Then there is the neighbor Maureen, the philanthropist David – oh my!  Needless to say there are a few hearts that need to find each other.

I read this book rather quickly – which makes for a perfect, quick, summer read!!  I enjoyed it and it was a great message on many levels.

I recommend this book!!

NOTE : I was offered a copy of One Perfect Spring in exchange for an honest review by Revell.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Book Review : Critical Condition

I am always a fan of medical thriller or legal thriller fiction!   I have enjoyed reading other books by Richard Mabry, and I enjoyed this one too!!

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As it goes with medical mystery/thriller novels there is usually a death, in this case a few.  Throw in a doctor (or two) and mix it all up and you have the beginning of a book that will grab you and take you on an exciting journey.

I definitely felt this was a quick moving book, with several different story-lines going on.  Shannon is the main character who is having to deal with the mysterious death after a man dies in her front yard.  To make matters worse she begins to receive threatening phone calls which have her a bit worried.  At the same time her sister is staying with her as she is trying to get her life back on track.

I enjoyed the depth of Shannon’s character, but also the issues she is facing and dealing with.   Her faith is not what it once was, and through this story is grappling with who she is and who she is in relation to God. 

While dealing with all these things, at her side is her boyfriend Mark.  As a strong believer, Mark often encourages Shannon to rely on God and trust him, and he is a source of tremendous strength and encouragement.  Their relationship is very sincere and real, and I enjoyed watching them both grow individually and together throughout the story.

I enjoyed this book, it would make a great read for a summer vacation!

NOTE: I received a copy of Critical Condition from LitFuse in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Book Review : What Follows After

I have thoroughly enjoyed several of Dan Walsh’s novels, so I was excited to get my hands on his latest book What Follows After.

 

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This novel takes place in 1962 during the Cuban Missile crisis.  Life in America in 1962 looks nothing like life does today.  This story drops you into life in the south while JFK is staging for a possible WWIII.  Meanwhile, a young couple, Scott and Gina,  is facing a possible divorce and yet hiding it from the public “disapproving” eye.  Two little boys are torn between keeping their parent’s secret of separation or telling their favorite aunt and uncle in the hopes of reconciliation.

When one of the boys is kidnapped, the mother and father are forced to deal with the trauma together. 

I did not jump right into loving this novel, the story line was a bit too real for me, however I kept reading and really loved the truths and the many messages in this story!  While life in 1962 may appear sweet and charming, families back them kept many things behind closed doors.  Couples did not communicate openly or honestly like is common today.  Racism was rampant in the south whether you approved of it or not.

Dan Walsh addresses each of these issues with a sensitive approach and offers a great message as well.  I loved watching Scott and Gina re-evaluate their marriage and make strides towards improving it and increasing communication.  Seeing this family heal and draw closer while dealing with the loss of their son was profound. 

Scott also decides to stand against his parents and reaches out to the woman who really was the mother to him, Mamie Lee, his family’s housekeeper.  Mamie Lee’s love for Scott and his family, as well as her faith in God were inspiring and were clearly what family was really about.

{Spoiler Alert}

So, I admit I started off a little slow with this book, I flew through it once I let myself connect with the characters and the story!  While the subject of a kidnapped child is tough, the story is told well, and it ends well!  The focus of this story is not the kidnapping, instead it is all about how the kidnapping causes everyone to re-evaluate priorities.

NOTE : I was offered a copy of What Follows After by Revell Publishers .

Friday, April 11, 2014

Win a Kindle HDX

Win a Kindle HDX!
The Queen's Handmaid

 

Check out my review HERE of this great book!!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Book Review : The Queen’s Handmaid

Tracy L. Higley has written a wonderful novel titled The Queen’s Handmaid.  I loved reading this book for many reasons, one of which is that we are studying Cleopatra and Antony in our homeschool right now!

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I was drawn into this novel from the very beginning!!  I loved the characters, as I immediately connected with the main character Lydia.  I loved her heart and her struggle to figure out just who God is and what she believes.

The historical connects in this novel are great too, I loved seeing it line up with the Bible, but also with our history studies in our home.  I plan to let my son read this book, as it is a very clean, well told story!

The romantic story that takes place is innocent, sweet and inspiring.  I loved seeing Lydia grow closer to Simon as they both were drawn to each other over and over.  Simon had honorable character, and respect for Lydia also.

There is a bit of suspense in this story as well, as we wonder just what the mystery of the scrolls is.  We also watch and hope that Lydia will be able to what she promised her friend as he dies, but will she be able to fulfill the prophesy?

I highly recommend this book, and hope to read other books by her soon!!


From the servant halls of Cleopatra’s Egyptian palace to the courts of Herod the Great, Lydia will serve two queens to see prophecy fulfilled.

Alexandria, Egypt 39 BC

Orphaned at birth, Lydia was raised as a servant in Cleopatra’s palace, working hard to please while keeping everyone at arm’s length. She’s been rejected and left with a broken heart too many times in her short life.

But then her dying mentor entrusts her with secret writings of the prophet Daniel and charges her to deliver this vital information to those watching for the promised King of Israel. Lydia must leave the nearest thing she’s had to family and flee to Jerusalem. Once in the Holy City, she attaches herself to the newly appointed king, Herod the Great, as handmaid to Queen Mariamme.

Trapped among the scheming women of Herod’s political family—his sister, his wife, and their mothers—and forced to serve in the palace to protect her treasure, Lydia must deliver the scrolls before dark forces warring against the truth destroy all hope of the coming Messiah.


NOTE : I was offered a copy of the Queen’s Handmaid in exchange for an honest review, by LitFuse.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Book Review : The Long Awakening

Every now and then I am completely surprised by a book. I know what I like, I try to stick with books that I know will inspire and encourage me. Over the years I have found I prefer fiction to non-fiction, even though I do enjoy an occasional non-fiction book.

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I was intrigued by my recent read, The Long Awakening. This is a story about Lindsey O’Connor. The description seemed interesting, but wow! I was pulled in to Lindsey’s true story of spending 47 days in a coma and many more recovering. I had no idea of the recovery - not only physically but emotional and spiritually.

A few years ago I read Running for My Life - that books changed my perspective for ever. This is another of those books. It will forever impact how I “see” others.

Lindsey wrote this book in a narrative non-fiction manner. It reads like a story, but it is real. She writes what she remembers and not just from her perspective - but also her husband’s and daughters at different times in the story. Her story will challenge what you think about a DNR. It will make you think about God and your relationship with him, as well as what you think about afterlife.

To say this book spoke to me is a to put it lightly, this book slammed into my head and still is bouncing around up there. It was so well written that I wanted to keep reading and reading. I still think about Lindsey and wonder how she is doing today - for real, not just from appearances. Her story is raw and real and will leave you wanting more.

March is Brain injury awareness month. I had no idea that there were so many levels of brain injury from mild to severe - many of which you would never recognize. The recovery from such injuries involves the entire family in ways you would never expect.  This experience rocked Lindsey’s world, and I think her story will rock yours. I highly recommend this book, and I plan to share this with my oldest boy and the next oldest too. It was that good!!


Here is an interview (2 parts) with Lindsey to get a bit of her story first hand.

 


NOTE : I received a copy of The Long Awakening in exchange for an honest review, by Revell.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Book Review : The Devil Walks in Mattingly

Sometimes I read a title and decide that I want to read and review it.  Other times I will allow the cover to help me decide about a book.  And every now and then I get a book to review that I was not expecting.  March seems to be the month of surprises.

The Devil Walks in Mattingly was a surprise.  I thought the story would be interesting; three characters dealing with guilt from an event that happened years ago.  I did not expect the story I experienced though.  There is romance (not the normal romance, something much sweeter), drama, youth issues, murder, and more thrills – I promise this story has it all and it is good!

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Normally I want to cut to the chase.  I want to be in the turning drama, wondering about the suspense and enjoying the thrills.  The pace of The Devil Walks in Mattingly was slower than I am used to.  At first, I was not so sure about it, but I quickly fell into the slower pace and really enjoyed it.  The slower pace allowed for a much greater depth of characters.  Instead of just knowing a certain level of what made them tick, you really go to know the real person.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Book Review : The A-Z of C.S. Lewis

Colin Duriez has compiled an amazing resource!!  If you love C. S. Lewis you will want this book in your home library.
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We are huge fans of Mr. Lewis.  We have listened to the Chronicles of Narnia while traveling to Maine or Oregon too many times to count.  I completely expect my boys to read some of his other books as they get a bit more mature in their faith, and a bit older too.
This book, The A-Z of C. S. Lewis is a treasure!!
I enjoyed just flipping through and reading.  Have you ever realized how things are connected far more than you realize?  Or wondered why someone used a character’s name in a  book?  Well, this book can answer many of those questions and connect many points too.
I loved reading through the descriptions of characters from our beloved books, it was like a quick trip back into the book!
I also would love for my children to get to know this man and his books more than they already do, so I look forward to sharing this book with them!
This is a fun book to flip through or also a perfect book to just read through; it would make a great  resource as students read other books and want to see connections beyond those books.
I love this book, just another way to go deeper into the mind of C.S. Lewis!

A Complete Guide to His Life, Thoughts and Writings
Published to coincide with the 50th anniversary of C. S. Lewis's death, this complete guide covers all of Lewis' works, from his literary criticism to Narnia.
C. S. Lewis's work is widely known and regarded, but enthusiasts are often only aware of one part of his work-his children's stories and his popular theology; and yet he wrote so much more, including science fiction and literary criticism. This volume brings together all aspects of C S Lewis's life and thought. Arranged in alphabetical order, it begins with The Abolition of Man-written in 1943 and described as "almost my favorite"-to Wormwood, a character in The Screwtape Letters. This book will delight anyone who is interested in C. S. Lewis and wants to learn more about him, his thought, his works, and his life.
Purchase a copy: http://ow.ly/tzmgH



About the Author:
 CDuriez-217Colin Duriez was for many years a commissioning editor at Inter-Varsity Press UK. He has subsequently appeared as a commentator on DVDs of Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings, and BBC television's The Worlds of Fantasy. He is also the author of The Inklings Handbook (with the late David Porter), J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis: The Story of Their Friendship, and Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings, and has contributed to definitive reference works relating to Tolkien such as The Tolkien Encyclopedia (Routledge).


I received a copy of The A-Z of C. S. Lewis by Litfuse, in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Book Review : The Sinners’ Garden

This is my first time to read a novel by William Sirls.  The Sinners’ Garden is William’s most recent novel.

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William writes a very detail oriented book, about a number of characters.  Andy is the main character of the book, a boys whose abusive father is out of the home, but still manipulating him.  Andy is fighting with his mom, depending on the support of his Uncle and trying to find his way through life.  Suddenly, his broken ipod starts speaking to Andy, in a way that makes him repeat what he hears.

Meanwhile, we are introduced to the “summer Santa” who is doing good deeds anonymously throughout town.  So we see God moving in Andy, but also in motivating this man to give to the most needy people.  Finally, there is the garden that just pops up – and gets better and better.  Andy and his family wonder who is doing this and why.

This is a heavier novel, it is a deeper read than most fiction books you will pick up.  I enjoyed reading about Andy and guessing who the Santa was.  There is a bit of suspense throughout, and some anxious parts too, where there is a clear evil, but at the same time not very clear.

I connected with Rip the most I think, he was Andy’s uncle and trying to be a solid male figure in Andy’s life.  I enjoyed the redemption seen through Rip’s life, from his salvation in prison to his turning his life around once he got out.

This book will make you think about not only serving others and giving, but also about forgiveness.  An underlying theme seems to be along the lines of coming to terms with your story, the one you are a part of, and trusting God in that.

William wrote a strong novel that will pull you in from the beginning.


NOTE : I received a copy of The Sinners’ Garden in exchange for an honest review by Litfuse

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Book Review : The Calling

Suzanne Woods Fisher has done it again!  I recently finished up Book #2 in the Inn at Eagle Hill series : The Calling.

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I have loved getting to know the Lapp family in The Stoney Ridge series and now seeing them pop up in the Inn at Eagle Hill series has been fun!!  Bethany is the main character in The Calling, she is the daughter of Rose, and sister of Miriam, and they all live in the Inn.

In this story we get to know more about Bethany, and watch her relationship bloom with Jimmy Fisher.   

I have loved all the books by Suzanne Woods Fisher, I think it is because of the heart of these stories is all about family.  You see time and again as different members of the family deal with some situation, the others surround them.  Over and over the relationships are stretched and no matter what they grow.

A sub-story in this book was of the current occupant of the Inn, Geena is a former Youth Pastor getting away before figuring out he future.  Geena has a way with youth, but not a gift of preaching.  I loved seeing her figure out who she was and what her calling really was.

Another favorite part of this series is an on-going line of Bethany’s brother.  We were introduced to him in the first book, and he appears again in this book.  However, we learn more about what sent him into hiding after the death of his father and what lands him behind bars this time.  I suspect we may get to know more about him and his story in the next installment, but we shall see.

Of course, I recommend this book.  I always enjoy my visit to the Amish homes in Ms. Fisher’s books.  I feel encouraged to keep investing in my own family! 

{To read what others are saying check out the Litfuse Page}


NOTE : I was offered a copy of The Calling, in exchange for an honest review, by Litfuse.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Book Review - The Secrets of Happy Families

{Click over to the blog to watch the embedded videos.}

After reading the first few pages of this book, and learning that Bruce Feiler was a NY Times columnist, I was sad.  I thought I signed up for a book that would not be of much value to me.  As a Christian, attempting to raise my children in an environment that keeps God in the center, I feared that this book would do the opposite.  I was worried as a NY Times writer he would hold a different World view that I do.

I WAS WRONG.

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You heard me.  I was wrong.  I kept reading.  And reading.  And reading.  I love this book.  Now, it does not talk about God (much) or the Bible.  Instead, Mr. Feiler approaches a number of individuals who are “experts” in many different fields.  He looks inside normal homes and sees how the nuts and bolts hold it together.

This book is based on a quote by Leo Tolstoy in Anna Karenina – “All happy families are alike, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”  Mr. Feiler realized that there may be a truth to this, that happy families have things in common.  He affirms that the building blocks of happy families are quite similar, how they face challenges and the skills they have to deal with day to day life may hold secrets for the rest of us.

I enjoyed it so much I have been telling my friends much about what I have learned!  My favorite parts were the dinner table suggestions and the morning routine ideas.  I also gained a tremendous amount of help with the chapters on conflict, between siblings and couples.

I did mention there is not much about God in here, however if the Bible is central to your family (like we are trying to make it to ours) it is easy to incorporate these ideas with a Biblical approach.  If God is a main player in your home, by applying these ideas you are not kicking him out – you are just changing the way you operate in your home with Him.

The reason I love the dinner time sections – like Mr. Feiler’s family, most meals involve my trying to talk to Robert while asking the kids to stop quoting movies.  Instead we do not have intelligent conversation around the table.  We value our time at the table, but honestly it wears me out.  So we are going to incorporate some of the ideas that Mr. Feiler has applied in his home, that he learned from a former Marine, turned chef/owner of 9 restaurants in Louisiana and Texas.  Both men spoke of how without some structure the table conversation can be about bodily functions, movies and other babble. 

Overall, I enjoyed the book.  I will say that the chapter on the sex talk was great, but was quite open about offering birth control.  While this does not line up with my plans in my home, I really valued the emphasis on having the talk : early and constantly – that it is, it is not a talk so much as a conversation.  So even this chapter that did not line up perfectly with our values had a great deal to offer me!

I recommend this book – it is a fascinating read.  Mr. Feiler did tons of research talking to many many experts in all areas of the family – and he quotes tons of statistics across the board.

PS – Lesson Learned Re-learned, you cannot judge a book author by it’s cover employer!!  Check this book out!!


NOTE : I was offered a copy of The Secrets of Happy Families by LitFuse.

Monday, February 3, 2014

4H Food & Nutrition Fun

We had the District competition this last weekend for Food & Nutrition with our 4H club/county.  This means we competed at County level and were able to advance to District – where multiple counties then compete against each other.

Henderson food challenge

My younger boys were on both a food challenge team and quiz bowl.  My oldest son was on an intermediate team for both competitions too.

  Food Challenge is where they are given a bag of food and they have to use each ingredient and create a dish.  Then, they must present that dish to judges and explain the health benefits, the safety steps, the steps of preparation, and the My Plate information. 

Quiz Bowl is where they are on teams and compete against other teams with facts about Food & Nutrition. 

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So our Junior teams won first place in both competitions.

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Our intermediate teams that J was on both placed second for their competitions.

quiz bowl intermediate

 

intermediate food challenge with food

intermdieate food challenge award

It was lots of fun, and we are so excited to have done well and have it behind us!!

county food challenge awards

Book Review : Cloak of Light

You never really know what you will get when you open a Young Adult Fiction book.  Chuck Black’s Cloak of Light is categorized as Young Adult and I wanted to read this one hoping it would be good enough to pass along to my (almost) 13 year old.

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I can say that I recommend this book without reservation!! I loved it.

Now, let me admit I enjoy spiritual warfare themes and stories with a bit of imagination or science fiction in them.  I loved that there are so many points in this book, subtle ones to very overt – and yet I did not think it was preachy at all!

Drew is the main character, with Sydney and Ben supporting.  There is some attraction in this story, but it is very innocent and clean and pure – and I loved it!

The gist of the story is that Ben believes in aliens of some sort at invaders to Earth and after a botched science experiment Drew is able to see them.  Both boys believe these invaders exist but that they are aliens of some sort.  In reality they are discovering spiritual warfare. 

Ben and Drew are self proclaimed atheists, so linking this discovery to spiritual warfare is a stretch, but as Sydney becomes more involved in what is happening she comes to realize the truth.  As a believer Sydney prays for both Ben and Drew, and has an impact on the spirits fighting.

Did I mention that the demonic spirits are following Drew, looking for Ben and wary of Sydney?  There is a great deal of suspense, and this book could be a thriller with all the excitement it goes through!

I enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.  My son read it in about a day and a half and he loved it.  There were many parts that we could talk about the consequences of what happens to Drew and the choices he makes.  Like I said, many noteworthy messages in this story!!



About the Author:

Chuck Black first wrote Kingdom’s Edge to inspire his children to read the Bible with renewed zeal. This captivating expanded parable led him to write the Old Testament allegories, Kingdom’s Dawn and Kingdom’s Hope. Chuck added three more titles to the series, Kingdom’s Call, Kingdom’s Quest, and Kingdom’s Reign which were released in May of 2007. chuck black

Chuck’s current works include The Knights of Arrethtrae series, Call to Arms, and his series in progress, Wars of the Realm. Chuck is a former F-16 fighter pilot and currently works as an engineer for a firm designing plastic consumer products. He has a degree in electrical and electronic engineering and served eight years in the United States Air Force. Chuck and his wife have six children.

It is Chuck’s desire to serve the Lord through his work and to inspire people of all ages to study the scriptures in order to discover the hope and love of a truly majestic King and His Son.

 


NOTE : I received a copy of Cloak of Light in exchange for an honest review by Multnomah Books.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Book Review : A Promise Kept

Another great book by Robin Lee Hatcher!  A Promise Kept is more than just another fiction story, instead this is a very personal story for Robin.

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Allison in the main character in A Promise Kept and she is navigating life after having her marriage destroyed by alcohol.  After being married for over 18 years, Allison on Tony parted ways.  Allison found comfort in a cabin in the woods left to her by her great Aunt Emma.  While nestled away and learning what life looks as a divorced woman, she finds Emma’s journals.

Allison and her great Aunt Emma both share a marriages destroyed by alcohol, but both also share redemption through that destruction.   As Allison reads Emma’s journals she sees her Aunt trust the Lord and grow in His truths.  She also learns to stand on her own as a woman, wholly leaning on the Lord. 

Seeing how Allison and Tony remain honorable toward one another, especially for their daughter’s sake, was very encouraging and heart warming.

This is a wonderful book to give to a friend who has dealt with divorce, alcoholism, and even just learning to lean into the Lord.  There is tremendous maturity modeled by the characters in this story!

The best part was reading how Allison’s life was similar to what Robin Lee Hatcher dealt with in her own life.

I highly recommend this book, I enjoyed the story tremendously!


Best-selling novelist Robin Lee Hatcher is known for her Robin-Lee-Hatcherheartwarming and emotionally charged stories of faith, courage, and love. She discovered her vocation after many years of reading everything she could put her hands on, including the backs of cereal boxes and ketchup bottles. Winner of the Christy, the RITA, the Carol, the Inspirational Reader’s Choice, and many other awards, Robin is also a recipient of the prestigious RWA Lifetime Achievement Award. She is the author of 70 novels and novellas with over five million copies in print.

Robin enjoys being with her family, spending time in the beautiful Idaho outdoors, reading books that make her cry, and watching romantic movies. Her main hobby (when time allows) is knitting, and she has a special love for making prayer shawls. A mother and grandmother, Robin and her husband make their home on the outskirts of Boise, sharing it with Poppet, the high-maintenance Papillon, and Princess Pinky, the DC (demon cat).


NOTE : I was offered a copy of A Promise Kept in exchange for an honest review by LitFuse.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Book Review(s)–Various Books by Callie Grant

While my kids are all reading their own books these days, I still love to read an occasional board book to anyone who will sit still!

I was looking forward to reading three new board books by Callie Grant, published by Graham Blanchard (I reviewed       recently which was published by Graham Blanchard too).

First Up

 Little Seed : A Life

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Little Seed is filled with wonderful illustrations by Suzanne Etienne.   (click on the title to peek inside the book)

In Little Seed, the story follows a little seed that falls to the ground and shows what happens to it.  As a family that gardens I would love to use this book to teach little ones why we plant seeds and how each season impacts those seeds. 

I love that God is woven into this story as well, reminding our little ones how amazing God is and how he impacts life around us all the time!  The colors are vibrant and engaging and I know that little ones all around would love to listen to this great story!!

Graham Blanchard categorizes this book as a Praise book – it celebrates who God is.


Next Up

Close as a Breath

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The story Close as a Breath is illustrated by Sarah Acherley. (click the title to take a look inside)

This follows a little girl as she and her father go about their day.  The little girl asks lots of questions about nature and life around her, and her father answers her questions by teaching her about God.  There is a rhyming pattern to this story that makes it a bit whimsical. 

I love how this story takes a simple question from a little girl to her father and starts to teach ideas of science, but also connects them to the Creator. 

Graham Blanchard publishers consider this an Absorb book as it teaches concepts.


Finally

Knowing My God – Jesus Saves Me

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Knowing My God varies from the others in that the illustrations are pictures, of animals, children and life.  One central part is sheep and there are many pictures of sheep while the text refers to actual scripture that ties sheep to the Bible and God.

Graham Blanchard publishers consider this Learn book as it teaches scripture and explains what the verses mean.


If you are in the market for buying books for little ones, make sure you check out Graham Blanchard publishers – I have LOVED all the books I have read from them!!

This company is committed to helping parents teach their children about God – and I love that!!

NOTE : I received a copy of each of the books mentioned above in exchange for an honest review, by Graham Blanchard Publishers.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Hunting Take #2

My boys (all 4 of them plus 2 friends) had a weekend to remember!!  Oh my!

Our gang was selected for another Youth Hunt as part of the TYHP here in Texas.  This hunt was held in honor of Jacob Krebs – he was a young man I never knew, but from the sound of it, was absolutely amazing.  Jacob was an Eagle Scout and destined for the Navy with hopes to be a Navy Seal.  While training last April he died while training for future Seal testing. 

Jacob was an active hunter in the TYHP program as well.  So this hunt was held in his honor and while I was not able to be there, I shed a few tears for Jacob myself.  I hope that my boys learned more than just more about hunting while being a part of this hunt!!

One of the adults involved with the hunt was a wildlife biologist, and she was able to teach the boys more than they were expecting.  For one thing, E’s doe was pregnant and they were able to see the fetus and even tell if it was a boy or girl!

Robert was on his own this time gutting the deer, with quite a bit of help from our friends, but there was no Leroy this time!  He says the processing is now up to me.  Lovely!

So, E got 2 Does, P for 2 does and J got 1 doe.  So we have 5 deer to process in this days to come.  Fun – fun!

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