Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mine is the Night

SHE LOST EVERYTHING SHE LOVED.
HE HAD EVERYTHING SHE NEEDED.
BUT COULD SHE FIND THE COURAGE TO TRUST HIM?

Stepping from a battered coach on a rainy April eve, newly widowed Elisabeth Kerr must begin again, without husband or title, property or fortune. She is unafraid of work and gifted with a needle, but how will she stitch together the tattered remnants of her life? And who will mend her heart, torn asunder by betrayal and deception?

Elisabeth has not come to Selkirk alone. Her mother-in-law, Marjory Kerr, is a woman undone, having buried her husband, her sons, and any promise of grandchildren. Dependent upon a distant cousin with meager resources, Marjory dreads the future almost as much as she regrets the past. Yet joy still comes knocking, and hope is often found in unexpected places.

Then a worthy hero steps forward, rekindling a spark of hope. Will he risk his reputation to defend two women labeled as traitors to the Crown? Or will a wealthy beauty, untainted by scandal, capture his affections?

The heartrending journey of the Kerr women comes to a glorious finish in Mine Is the Night, a sparkling gem of redemption and restoration set in eighteenth-century Scotland.

Book Review

I was so anxious to read the second half of the Kerr story.   The first half was told in the book, Here Burns My Candle.    Although set in Scotland, this is the story of Ruth told in a contemporary setting.

In Mine Is The Night, Marjorie and Ruth have to leave Edinburgh to go into the countryside.    It is very reminiscent of Ruth and Moab leaving their home.     It is not a move they want to make as they are in mourning having lost their precious Kerr husbands.   

They arrive in Selkirk clinging only to each other and their newfound faith.    Their hope is placed on a relative that they think is still living there.     They find her to realize that she is living in one small tiny room.   She takes them in and they soon realize the reality of their situation which is dire.

Elizabeth, also known as Bess, immediately sets out to find work to provide for their daily needs which are very immediate.    It is that desire to provide for her mother-in-law that ultimately lands her at the steps of the Lord Jack Buchanan.    

Despite going against conventional wisdom, Lord Jack falls in love with the beauty he sees inside of Bess.   Bess falls in love with the integrity of the man she sees in Lord Jack.   Both see in each other a future they dare not wish or hope for.

It is Majorie who gives them the push they need to see what is right before their eyes.      While it the illusions are vague, the story of Ruth and Boaz is definitely there.    Although based on that Biblical story, don't miss the beauty of this story which stands all on its own!

Passport to the World

Travel the world, and learn some common phrases along the way! 

Each country's two-page spread features the words for hello, goodbye, thank you, and peace, fast facts about the country, money images, a proverb, pictures of both modern & traditional dress, interesting facts, and a geographic picture.

Twenty-six languages are covered, including Armenian, French, English, Cherokee, Dutch, Turkish, Hebrew, Yoruba, Oriya, Zulu, Mandarin, Ukrainian, and more. Written from a Christian perspective, the introduction explains how language differences developed from the Tower of Babel, and the note from each country comments on the religious makeup of the country. As students move through the book, they can fill in the included "passport" with the passport stickers in the back of the book. 64 pages, hardcover.

 Book Review

What a creative way to take a tour around the world!    The first tour of the world happened because people built the Tower of Babel.     God decided to give all of the people different languages so that they couldn't communicate and they all began to travel to different parts of the world.     This is in the Bible and you will find it in this book as well.    How refreshing!  Each of the twenty six languages is associated with a specific country.   

Our homeschool co-op is sponsoring a travel club this semester and this would have made an amazing book to use as a basis for that club.     If you have kids who are in PreK through 3rd grade levels, I really think this is a great introduction book to both countries AND languages.    What makes it perfect for these grade levels is because the book is set up in alphabet form.    For example:   "G" stands for German.   "M" stands for Mandarin.   "C" stands for Cherokee.   

It is fun and unique to study geography in the alphabet/language format.    Each language is set forth in a two page format.      These pages include a lot of information:   food, how to say "hello" and "goodbye", pictures of how people dress in that area, proverbs from that area, and many other things.

You won't be disappointed having this book in your library!   

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher, New Leaf Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Time With The Sweeties

Spending a day with our sweet twin girls ranks right up there with one of our favorite things to do.    My sister had to go out of town for the day for a business meeting so we asked if we could have some of that fun time.

I was a ding dong and forgot my camera, but I took these few with my cell phone.

Dressed in princess dresses and rain boots, they wanted to take a walk.    They decided to push their babies in their shopping carts.      We stopped at every mailbox to say the numbers and at every house to point out the birdhouses, pretty flowers and other things they noticed.




You know that when you are wearing rainboots, you have to find at least one puddle.     I don't think there was any other puddles in their entire neighborhood.   Weren't we lucky that this one was at the end of their driveway?   hee hee



It was too cool and breezy to spend as much time outside as we wanted, but we found plenty to do inside.   We read books, played tea party, played Barbies and Barbie cars, and played on the computer.  

Big Guy had several ebooks on his computer which the girls loved.    They could click and build words to put inside the books.    LK wanted to do those over and over again.

She was also infatuated with his iPod.    She didn't want Big Guy to help her.    She would say, "I can do it by myself."     And she could.  


No doubt about it.    We love every second with these sweet girls.

False Pretenses

Zoe Broussard loves the life she and her husband Pierce have built in her beloved Louisiana hometown. She owns a thriving Cajun eatery in South Louisiana and is married to the love of her life.

But it’s about to become hell. One day, out of the blue, she receives a series of anonymous notes that sends her life into a tail spin. Five simple words, “I know what you did.” Zoe has a secret so terrible it could leave the business in shambles and tear her marriage apart. Unbeknownst to anyone, even Zoe’s husband, Pierce, she has a past—a past she had covered so well she never thought she would have to confront. How could anyone know what she did? Can she find the courage to face her past?

If you would like to read the first chapter of False Pretenses, go HERE.

Book Review

"I know what you did."   Imagine if you started receiving notes that said simply that.    I don't care who you are I think it would give you pause.   For the character of this book, Zoe, it sent her into a tailspin.    Since she left home to escape a life of abuse she has lied and made choices that would help her hide the life she left behind.

With that one note she is afraid she is going to lose the life she has carefully crafted.      She has a thriving restaurant, a loving husband and new friends.     Now she has to make even more choices about how far she is going to go to hide those choices.

I read this book in one sitting it was so well written.   However, it was such a great reminder that we are all products of the choices we make.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Our Week

In my life this week...
After so much loss, we experienced two more deaths this week.    One was so tragic.   If you live in this area you more than likely saw it on the news.    One of our community's police officers was killed in a tragic motorcycle accident.    I have known this man since I was a teenager.     The other loss was a precious lady from my home church who was 100 years old.    She was our Sunday School teacher when we were little.    We grew up with her grandchildren and used to go to church functions at her son's home.     It was sweet to go to her visitation and just visit with church family and talk about her life.    Those are funerals you don't mind attending.   

Other than that, we are still running.   Little Guy has baseball practice two time a week.   Both boys have 4H shooting practice two times a week.   Hubs has basketball on Monday nights.     Add in church on Wednesday nights.     Whew!

In our homeschool this week...
The boys took their standardized tests this week.   Our homeschool co-op coordinates with a private school to be able to take the Stanfords.     Can I just say that I don't miss getting up at 6:00 and being on the road at 7:00 every morning?     We had to drive to another city for our tests so it was early mornings and long days.    The boys did really well handling the 8:00-12:00 test schedule.    They both are so glad that testing is over.   We didn't take Spring Break when everyone else did so we are off all next week!   Yahoo!


Places we're going and people we're seeing...
As I mentioned, we had a couple of opportunities this past week to visit with homeschool friends. We also had an opportunity to see some race cars this weekend at our church. Some of the drivers who race at our local speedway brought their cars out for the kids to look at and climb into. They loved the cars and also enjoyed getting their flags signed by the drivers.

My favorite thing this week was...

Having lunch with some friends from our homeschool co-op.    After testing was over we went out to a Mexican restaurant to celebrate.   We haven't had a chance to get to know them really well, but we had so much fun and are already planning to get together next week during Spring Break.

What's working/not working for us...
My house.     Right now my house looks like a tornado came to the front door and ran away scared!     Everywhere I look is a disaster.    I plan to work on that today, but my energy to mess ratio is sadly lacking.

Homeschool questions/thoughts I have...
Big Guy is in the 8th grade.    High School looms.   Can I do it?    Is homeschooling him the best thing for him?    We are praying a LOT.   Constantly.     Parenting and homeschooling... it is not for the weak.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Simple Terms

There is a new book out there by a very popular Christian pastor that has stirred up a lot of controversy in the last week.     The premise of his book is that in the end God can't ultimately send people to hell.      He says that in the end "Love Wins" (also the book title in case you are curious).   

You all know that I am wary of the popular stuff.    Any author which becomes so hugely popular or any pastor whose church becomes so obnoxiously huge that ultimately the focus is on them instead of God is a HUGE red flag to me.

As far as this new book, let me just say in simple terms.    God won't send people to hell in the end.     People will send themselves to hell.     God gave us a choice.    He did everything possibly to lead us to Him.    He drew a path, wrote us a love letter, sent His only Son to die for us and gave us the Holy Spirit to whisper words to encourage us to make that choice.    Ultimately though?   That is our choice.    If we choose to reject him then that is our choice.     Will it grieve Him and break His heart.     I believe it hurts Him beyond words.     But as he said, "The wages of sin is death."   

This author's book is following the premise that too many churches are following today.   They don't want people to feel uncomfortable.      If thinking about hell feels uncomfortable now, being there is going to be a lot worse!

I have experienced a lot of loss and death since the beginning of the year.     Quite a few of those people did not know Christ.    They never made that choice.     My heart still hurts over that.  

However, it has made my burden for those in my life who haven't yet made that choice even greater.     I pray more for them than ever before.     Oh how I wish I could make that choice for them.    I know I can't.   

I guess that is why books like this recent one frustrates me so much.    

Vicious Cycle

When fifteen-year-old Lance Covington finds an abandoned baby in the backseat of a car, he knows she's the newborn daughter of a meth addict he's been trying to help. But when police arrest him for kidnapping, Lance is thrust into a criminal world of baby trafficking and drug abuse.

His mother, Barbara, looks for help from Kent Harlan---the man whom she secretly, reluctantly loves and who once helped rescue her daughter from a mess of her own. Kent flies to her aid and begins the impossible work of getting Lance out of trouble, protecting a baby who has no home, and finding help for a teenage mother hiding behind her lies.

In this latest novel of suspense and family loyalty, bestselling author Terri Blackstock offers a harrowing look at drug addiction, human trafficking, and the devastating choices that can change lives forever.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Vicious Cycle, go HERE.

Watch the Book Video:






Book Review

I was SO excited to receive Terri Blackstock's latest book.    She lives only about 15 minutes from my house which means she is a Mississippi girl.     She is coming to speak at our next ladies' night in about two weeks so I am excited to hear her talk.   

Ms. Blackstock has never been afraid to delve into the heady topics of life.    I wouldn't want to speak for her, but somehow I think she hopes that readers are influenced to "love the sinner despite their sin" through reading their books.   I know that is one of the themes that I draw from her books.

Vicious Cycle addresses issues that are so prevelant in our society right now.   Drug abuse, teen pregnancy, and even human trafficking.      Ms. Blackstock doesn't try to sugar coat the affects of these issues.   Some of what you read is raw and even hard to get through.     However, drugs lead to a life that rips away everything and leave you exposed.    What you end up in is a vicious cycle.

TOS Review: Big IQ Kids

We were offered the chance to review an e-learning site called BigIQkids.com.     BigIQkids.com offers FREE spelling, math, vocabulary, U.S. states and spelling game programs.

Their award winning programs are designed for students in grades K-8th and promote skills that every student needs to develop:   spelling efficiency, vocabulary, math fact mastery and US geography knowledge.  






Some of the things I LOVED about Big IQ Kids...


This was so easy to add into our daily routine.   Since each lesson only took about 10 minutes, it was a good brain wake up! 

Spelling: While there was already a preloaded spelling lesson program, you could enter your spelling words for the week and Big IQ would automatically create a week's worth of games, lessons and quizzes around those words.   That is like having a teacher assistant!!

Math: You can set up the lessons to mirror what they are doing in their regular lessons.  For example, Little Guy is working on multiplying decimals in his math so I chose that to work on in his math section.

Vocabulary:   I am kind of a freak about SAT prep words.    Big IQ's vocabulary is nothing but SAT prep words.    Love that!    However, just like spelling, you can enter your own vocabulary words.

U.S. States:    We happen to be doing an 50 states study this year so I liked that this gave me the option to add even more facts that we are learning to what they already had listed.

It emailed me after Little Guy mastered lessons   Loved that too!

What Little Guy LOVED about BIG IQ Kids...

"Mom asked me to do this in the mornings before we started our daily routine.    I was a lot of fun to do these activities.   I could earn coins to play games.    Sometimes I could play extra math or vocabulary games just to get extra coins.   I really liked the geography section.   There was a lot of neat information in there."



Sometimes when Little Guy was working on the website, the pings and robotic voices would get on my nerves... a LOT!    However, they never seem to phase Little Guy at all.    I just solved that by asking him to put in his earbuds.    


There are different pricing packages for a  Premium Membership for Big IQ Kids that range from $19.99 per month to $99.99 for 12 months.  You can also choose to purchase a membership to the individual subjects offered, as low as $7.99 per month for each subject.  You can learn more about the pricing options here. You also have the option of starting out with a Free Membership, and upgrading later to Premium, if desired.


Disclaimer:  As part of TOS Review, I did receive this online subscription for free from BIG IQ Kids.  The fact that I received complimentary products does not guarantee a favorable review.  It does guarantee a review. A fair review. But I am not going to praise something unless I think it deserves the praise.  If I don't like it, you'll hear that.  And hopefully with enough detail as to why so you can decide for yourself if what I hate about it makes it perfect for your family.



Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tyndale's Great Book GIVEAWAY

In celebrate the launch of Tyndale's new book club enewsletter, they are running a 30 day giveaway on their website. The Book Club Hub Newsletter will be an email newsletter geared towards people who are in or are running book clubs. It will feature suggestions, discussion guides and great ideas for your book clubs. You can see a preview by clicking here.

To enter the giveaway you just need to visit the contest page and click on the book you’d like to sign up to win. You can even go back and sign up for both books. Each day is a new giveaway so you can return to the site each day and try to win. Every few days the books change, so check back!

What is better than FREE books and a book club!

Monday, March 21, 2011

No Safe Haven

Jenna and Andi Tikaani-Gray are hoping for a fresh start. Though twelve year-old Andi has long struggled with a rare medical disorder, she and her mother have finally received good news from out-of-town specialists. It's news they desperately needed, especially after the recent death of Jenna's husband (Andi's dad) in a car accident.


But as they are flying home to Alaska, ready to begin again, the unthinkable happens. The pilot sabotages their small plane and crashes into Sultana, one of the most remote and dangerous mountains in the Land of the Midnight Sun. Even worse, a winter storm is headed their way along with someone who doesn't want to save them, but to kill them.


Only one man can keep them alive: Cole Maddox, the mysterious last-minute passenger who joined them on their flight. But trust doesn't come easy to Jenna or Andi√Ďand they both sense Cole is hiding something.


A relentless tale of survival and suspense unfolds, involving military technology designed by Jenna's late husband that some would do anything to possess.


Watch the Book Video:






If you would like to read the first chapter of No Safe Haven, go HERE.

Book Review

Wow!  Wow!  Wow!  Wow!   Wow!   I didn't know what was better than five stars so I decided to give it five WOWs that way if you didn't read any further in my review you would know how much I enjoyed this book.


The cover of the book states the fact that the mother and daughter who co-authored this book were featured on Extreme Home Makeover.    We don't really get a chance to watch EHM because we are at church, but I was curious about why they would have been a part of that show.     Reading the author information in the book revealed that Kayla, the daughter, has a very rare disorder called Hereditary Sensory Autonomic Neuropathy (HSAN).    For as hard as that was to type and say, it was even more difficult to diagnose as only twenty children in the world have this.     What HSAN means is that her body cannot regulate her temperature and can't feel pain until it is overwhelmingly intense.

A daughter with HSAN is one of the characters in this book.    Since you have most likely never met anyone with this, it definitely brings aspects to the book that you can't expect.

However, this book isn't about a disease.   It is an ACTION, PACKED, INCREDIBLE ADVENTURE!    And that is just in the prologue.    It gets even more intense from there.

I am so thrilled to know that this is the first of three books in a series.   The next book, Race Against Time, is scheduled to come out in November.   I can't wait. 

Meet Me On Monday






Every Sunday Never Growing Old posts five questions so you can get to know your fellow bloggers.   It is pretty simple.  

1. What jewelry do you wear 24/7?    Nothing.     I have tried wearing my weddings rings to sleep in, but I just can't.
 
2. Do you twirl your spaghetti or cut it?  I cut it.   I have tried twirling it, but it always winds up falling off my fork.   Gives me visions of what I would look like as a ballerina!

3. How many siblings do you have?  I have two amazing sisters.   One is three years younger than me.   She is a high school math teacher because she loves math (everyone has to have a quirk!).    Because of her I have my beautiful niece, J, and artistic nephew, A.     My other sister is eleven years younger than I am.    She works for the government in national security.     My heart smiles every time I think of the two precious twin nieces that she had.    Among my greatest joys in life is to have a night out with my two sisters.    Anytime we get together, we can't decide what to do because our favorite thing to do is just be together to talk.  We don't care of we are shopping, at a coffee shop, or at a restaurant.   We just want to be able to sit, relax and talk.    When I grew up, I want to be my sisters.

Although siblings are technically children that your parents had, I have two brothers.   They are my cousins.   They lived next door to us for our entire lives.    One cousin, F, is one month younger than I am and the other cousin, R, is two months younger than my middle sister.    Growing up we would play together.   F and R loved to play cowboys and indians.   They had guns and cowboy outfits.  Guess who had to be the indians and get shot?    *smile*    As we got older and rode the bus home from school, we would spend the time talking of our dreams and future, frustrations, and everyday at school.    When F was going through law school, he would call and have me talk him down from the "ledge" as he was studying.    R adores my sweet boys and has been there for them since the minute they have been born.   He was at the hospital for both of their births.    In fact, he came and stayed with Big Guy while I went to the hospital in labor with Little Guy.   I can't count the number of times that R has been there for us.    No doubt about it.  I have two brothers.

4. Were you named after anyone?  For forever I thought I was named after a soap opera character.    However, my mom corrected one time, but I can't remember what she said.   I think it may have been a neighbor or something.

5. Coke or Pepsi?  I gave up both of those at the beginning of December.    I had a terrible addiction.     Every once in a while when I just have to have a carbonated drink I have found that I like Diet Dr. Pepper.  

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Regret Free Parenting and GIVEAWAY (Now Closed)

Every mother wants her children to grow up happy, healthy, and fulfilled. But reaching that destination can be full of indecision, worry, and second-guessing. Ask any mother, "Do you think you're doing a good job?" and she’ll likely give you a mixed answer. In her groundbreaking book, Regret-Free Parenting, Catherine Hickem offers seven principles for mothers to raise their children well . . . and know they’re doing it right.

With nearly thirty years of experience as a psychotherapist, speaker, women's ministry director, and founder of Intentional Moms, Catherine Hickem shows how to build respect, companionship, trust, and emotional health as well as how to usher confident, centered, and secure adults into the world. If any mother has ever wondered, am I raising a good kid and am I doing it right? she needs the impactful teaching of Regret-Free Parenting.

For the latest updates on Catherine join her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, or visit her website.

Book Review

You are probably asking the same thing I did when I first saw the cover of the book.   Regret Free?   Really?!?     I have been a Mom for almost 14 years now.    Are you kidding me?   

I'll be honest.   I started reading this book with a very negative attitude.    I was having a challenging Mom week.    Our schedule was packed, school lessons were challenging for everyone including me, and the boys have been going through one of their "pick on each other" phases.    The last thing I wanted to do was read a parenting book much less one that had already given me a guilt trip before I read the first page.

However, once I started reading the book I discovered it was a very easy read.    She didn't make me feel guilty at all.     Despite the fact that Ms. Hickem is very educated and very knowledgeable, she writes as though she is just talking to you as a friend.     Her style is open and honest.

She focuses not on our kids as much as she focuses on us.   The saying "If Mama ain't happy, nobody is happy" is not one she uses, but rang true in a lot of what she said.     She explores how a woman is raised shapes the type of mother she becomes herself.     Wow!   Isn't that the truth?   I know that my own childhood definitely played a huge role in my decisions on how to parent my own boys.

I also appreciated the chapter on living peacefully during the teenage years.    Thankfully that is not a problem for my sweet Big Guy and I.   However, I know that the independent stage is coming and I want that time to be peaceful for our family as a whole.

Ms. Hickem's key "word" for the book is intentional.   She believes if you are intentional in your parenting then that is how you can be regret free.       Again, borrowing a popular phrase, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions."     I believe that being intentional in making good choices and relying on God's grace are definitely the key to being the best parent you can be.     Being insured that you will never make a mistake or have a regret.    I don't believe that.

When I was about two-thirds through the book, my husband asked me about the book.   I told him that one of my only complaints was that I thought the book had the wrong title.    Ms. Hickem calls her book Regret Free Parenting, but she doesn't include dads in the book at all.   It is entirely focused on moms and their role as a parent.     Parenting as a definition to me is mom AND dad raising children.     Although ultimately I enjoyed this book more than I thought I was going to, one of the major errors of this book is putting the entire burden of raising the kids on the mom.

GIVEAWAY!!

Thank you Thomas Nelson for the copies you sent to share with my blogger friends!   All copies have now been claimed!  

Disclaimer:  As part of Thomas Nelson BRB, I did receive these books for free.  The fact that I received complimentary products does not guarantee a favorable review.  It does guarantee a review. A fair review. But I am not going to praise something unless I think it deserves the praise.  If I don't like it, you'll hear that.  And hopefully with enough detail as to why so you can decide for yourself if what I hate about it makes it perfect for your family

From the Library of A. W. Tozer

A Collection of Writings That Shaped 
One of the Most Influential 
Pastors of the Twentieth Century

Pull back the curtain on the life and mind of A. W. Tozer as you read selections from the authors and thinkers who influenced his spiritual journey. Without their words to serve as guides, Tozer never would have become the man of God that he was. Drink deeply from these selections, chosen to emphasize major themes from Tozer's life and ministry--worship, practicing the presence of God, living the Christian life. As you do, you too will grow in your devotion to and understanding of God.







Book Review

Have you ever read anything by A. W. Tozer?    He has written quite a few books:  "The Pursuit of God", "The Knowledge of the Holy", "The Divine Conquest", "Wingspread" and "Let My People Go".

Some of my favorites quotes come from Tozer:

"What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us."

"I can safely say, on the authority of all that is revealed in the Word of God, that any man or woman on this earth who is bored and turned off by worship is not ready for heaven." 

"The fact of God is necessary for the fact of man. Think God away and man has no ground of existence." 

A. W. (Aiden Wilson) Tozer heard a street preacher one day on the way home from working at a tire company.     The street preacher simple said, "If you don't know how to be saved.... call on God."    A. W. felt God so strongly that he went home and crawled up into his attic and did exactly that.      He began studying God's Word.     Five years after beginning his relationship he was asked to pastor a church.    The first church led to 44 years of ministry.

One of the reasons Tozer resonates with me so much is that he felt like churches tried too hard to mesh wordly concerns into the church life.     They were forgetting the "do not conform to this world" Scriptures.     He wrote many sermons and prayed many hours over this concern.     

Prayer was the root of all things in Tozer's life.    He wrote his sermons out of his prayer time.    He lived his life out of his convictions from the time he spent in prayer.    He made no decisions without spending time with our Father.

Reading this book gave a wonderful peek into Tozer's studies for his sermons.

Disclaimer:  As part of Blogging for Books, I did receive this book for free.  The fact that I received complimentary products does not guarantee a favorable review.  It does guarantee a review. A fair review. But I am not going to praise something unless I think it deserves the praise.  If I don't like it, you'll hear that.  And hopefully with enough detail as to why so you can decide for yourself if what I hate about it makes it perfect for your family.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Indivisible

An inseparable bond.
An insatiable force.


Battling his own personal demons, Police Chief Jonah Westfall knows the dark side of life and has committed himself to eradicating it. When a pair of raccoons are found mutilated in Redford, Colorado, Jonah investigates the gruesome act, knowing the strange event could escalate and destroy the tranquility of his small mountain town. With a rising drug threat and never-ending conflict with Tia Manning, a formidable childhood friend with whom he has more than a passing history, Jonah fights for answers—and his fragile sobriety.

But he can’t penetrate every wound or secret—especially one fueled by a love and guilt teetering on madness.

From best-selling author Kristen Heitzmann comes a spellbinding tale of severed connections and the consequences of life lived alone.

Follow Kristen Heitzmann online at www.KristenHeitzmann.net.




Book Review

Indivisible goes beyond the line of suspense into the realm of psychological thriller.     Piper, Jonah, Liz, Miles and Tia all bring to the story line the the scars and emotional torment from their childhood.    It has affected and ultimately shapes how they live their life.     Of course, isn't that the way it is for all of us?

Someone is torturing animals and the town sheriff is trying to figure it out.   Like any community, politics is playing a role into how public he can allow his investigation to become.     He begins to realize that those same politics played a role in his own father's time as sheriff.

Among the community he is trying to protect and serve is Tia.   She owns a candle shop.   Wait... owns is a bad word because she was left behind by her family to run it against her will.    Then there is Miles.    He has severe issues regarding germs and fears regarding people touching him.    But he is also brilliant.   Bill Gates brilliant.     There is also a veterinarian who is carefully guarding demons from having a twin sister.   A sargeant who runs a bakery like the military.    His apprentice who has no desire to be in the military, but just wants to create flaky masterpieces.

Although I felt the "who done it" was kind of predictable, Heitzmann knows how to weave suspense through every page making you want to read until you get through the very last page.

To really get hooked on this book, read the first two chapters HERE!

Disclaimer:  As part of Blogging for Books, I did receive this book for free.  The fact that I received complimentary products does not guarantee a favorable review.  It does guarantee a review. A fair review. But I am not going to praise something unless I think it deserves the praise.  If I don't like it, you'll hear that.  And hopefully with enough detail as to why so you can decide for yourself if what I hate about it makes it perfect for your family.



The Caregiver

Two lives converge one stormy night on a train headed to Cleveland.

Lucy is traveling by herself via train to Jacob's Crossing to help care for her cousin Mattie, recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Trying to overcome the sudden death of her husband, she's glad to get away and focus on someone else for a while.

The only other Amish people on the train are Calvin Weaver and his little sister, Katie. When their train breaks down outside of Cleveland, Calvin and Lucy band together to face the outside world. But Calvin also carries the weight of past hurts. When an altercation brings both their wounds to light, they question whether they can trust each other.

Once in Jacob's Crossing, Lucy is occupied with caring for Mattie, while Calvin does his best to run his family's farm. But they can't stop thinking about those special hours spent together. Will the bond they formed last? And will Lucy and Calvin be able to put away the pain in their pasts to recognize the happiness that is suddenly in their grasp?


If you would like to read the first chapter of The Caregiver, go HERE.

Book Review

After an onslaught of Amish books recently, I wasn't overly excited to read this one.   However, this book had one thing going for it.   The author.  Shelley Shepard Gray.   Shelley writes books centered within the Amish community that aren't weighted.    What I mean by that is that each book is unique and doesn't feel like the same story just written in the same way.     The Amish is such a rigidly traditional society that finding a new way to write a story seems to be a challenge for some authors.     Not so for Shelley.    

The Caregiver is the first book in Shelley's latest series, Family of Honor.     The next two books in the series will be The Protector and The Survivor.    After reading this first book, I have my hopes regarding who these books will be centered around, but I guess I will just have to see.

The Caregiver centers around a young woman, Lucy.    After suffering through an abusive marriage, she has come to stay with her cousin who is enduring chemotherapy treatments.     Reading this was tough for me as my son's best friend is going through chemotherapy treatments right now as well.     Seeing some of Mattie's doubts and fears written out on paper are some of the very thoughts and fears that my son's sweet friend are having to deal with right now.     There are many tear stained pages, as well as many prayer covered pages, throughout this book.      Mattie's story is one that wasn't completely brought to an end and is one that I hope will be covered in the book The Survivor.

Lucy also has to deal with her own fears and insecurities regarding relationships.    God opens the door for her to love again through a friendship she makes with neighbor of Mattie's, Calvin.     

The Caregiver is an amazing story of what God can do when we allow our heart to be repaired by Him.    

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

TOS Review: Who Is God?

Apologia sent me book one of their "What We Believe" series called "Who Is God?".

"Who Is God?" introduces the concept of worldview while laying the foundational truths upon which the evangelical Christian worldview is built: God is truth and He reveals His truth to people; He is the one true and almighty God; He is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; He created everything; we are God’s children and are made to love and to praise Him; God meets all our needs; sin keeps us from God; and Jesus is the only way to God.


The book includes ten lessons.   These ten lessons are:
  1. Where am I building my life?
  2. How can I know what's true?
  3. What is God like? (part 1)
  4. What is God like? (part 2)
  5. Who are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost?
  6. If God created the world, why isn't it perfect?
  7. Why did God create me?
  8. Will God meet all my needs?
  9. Why does sin keep me from knowing God?
  10. Is Jesus the only way to God?
To view the complete Table of Contents, click here.


The first lesson (which you can read here:  Lesson 1 ) focuses on "Where Am I Building My Life?"   Like the song we learned in Sunday School, the lesson is about building your life on the solid rock instead of sinking sand.    I really appreciated that in addition to being Biblical sound, the lesson incorporated vocabulary, memory verses, notebooking, science, history and prayer prompts.     What a well rounded lesson!

These lessons are very easy to read.   So easy in fact that each of us who have picked up the book have started reading and just kept going.    That wasn't my intention for the way I was going to use the book.   I intended to use it during our family devotions at night, but we have all enjoyed just picking it up and reading it at our own pace and then discussing it.    

One of the things that we have been teaching our boys since they were tiny is "know what you know and why you know it".     A series like "Who is God?" is an amazing way to help reinforce the "knowing what you know and why you know it" concepts in your family.

If you would like to purchase a copy of this book, you can order a copy for Apologia for $39.00.

Disclaimer:  As part of the TOS Review Group, I did receive this book for free from Apologia.  The fact that I received complimentary products does not guarantee a favorable review.  It does guarantee a review. A fair review. But I am not going to praise something unless I think it deserves the praise.  If I don't like it, you'll hear that.  And hopefully with enough detail as to why so you can decide for yourself if what I hate about it makes it perfect for your family.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Dear Neighbors

Dear Neighbors,

I know when you are on your morning walks you wonder why we have the winter/Christmas wreath still hanging on our door.    I promise we realize that it is way past time to take it down.    However, for some reason our front door seems to be the ideal place for birds to build their nest every year.    It does not matter what kind of welcome wreath, sign or art I place there, the birds find it prime real estate to build a nest and raise a family.





Up until last night there were these five eggs nesting in our wreath.     Then we heard the crash and scraaattttccchhhh of nails.    I knew immediately.    Our neighbor's cat had been trying to figure out how to get up there for the last several days.     From the carnage, we think she stood on top of one of our wicker chairs and pounced onto the wreath.    She must have tried to hang on, but then slid down the front door.     She did manage to get what she wanted.    Her leap caused the nest to fall to the ground and all the eggs were crushed in the fall.   The boys were just furious although we explained that the cat was just doing what cats do.  

So I guess now we can change our wreath on the front door to something more seasonally appropriate.    I just wish I could figure out how to put up a sign for the birds that says, "No Vacancies"!

A Heart Most Worthy

The elegance of Madame Forza's gown shop is a far cry from the downtrodden North End of Boston. Yet each day Julietta, Annamaria, and Luciana enter the world of the upper class, working on finery for the elite in society. The three beauties each long to break free of their obligations and embrace the American dream--and their chance for love. But the ways of the heart are difficult to discern at times.


Julietta is drawn to the swarthy, mysterious Angelo. Annamaria has a star-crossed encounter with the grocer's son, a man from the entirely wrong family. And through no intent of her own, Luciana catches the eye of Billy Quinn, the son of Madame Forza's most important client.


Their destinies intertwined, each harboring a secret from their families and each other, will they be found worthy of the love they seek?


If you would like to read the first chapter of A Heart Most Worthy, go HERE.

Book Review

Picking up a Siri Mitchell book means you are getting lost in another world for a few hours.   It is what I love most about reading.  Siri pulls you into another time and place and in this book that place is Boston in 1918.    As a homeschooling mom, I love that Siri has so accurately portrayed the historical events of this time along with her storyline.    The flu epidemic, the popular dance called the mattchiche, The Great Emigration... all part of our American history.


More than the history, A Heart Most Worthy probes the choices of three women.   How their choices affect them, their families and ultimately each other.    

Friday, March 11, 2011

Hiding Nutrition

In my quest to eat healthier, I have been hiding some nutrition in our meals.    One of my terrible habits I have been trying to break is not eating breakfast.    I was a "just coffee for breakfast" girl.     I know.  I know.   Terrible habit.    For about six weeks now I have been eating either oatmeal or mini wheats for breakfast.    Not too long after I started eating oatmeal I decided to start sprinkling flax seed over the top.    My personal choice is Carrington Farms Organic Milled Flax Seeds.

I have heard so many great benefits of flax seed that I thought I might as well give it a try.    It is high in Omega 3s and has been shown to prevent or reduce the symptoms of arthritis, colitis, cancer, heart disease and even acne.    

After reading on the back of the package that it could be used in place of some of the flour of your baked goods, I tried it when baking muffins.    The boys never noticed.    I let Little Guy in on my secret and he loved the idea of hiding nutrition.


We even gave these bread machine cinnamon rolls a try we found at the Ameriflax website.

Bread Machine Flax Cinnamon Rolls

3/4 C2 % Milk
1 Egg
3 C All-purpose Flour
3/4 C Ground Flaxseed
1/2 tsp. Salt
3 Tbs. Granulated Sugar
4 Tbs. Margarine or Butter
2 tsp. Fast Rising Instant Yeast
Filling  
3 Tbs. Margarine or Butter
1/3 C Granulated Sugar
1 Tbs. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Nutmeg (optional)
Icing Sugar Glaze  
1 C Icing Sugar
2 Tbs. 2% Milk
1/2 tsp. Vanilla
• Measure ingredients for dough and place in bread machine pan in order recommended by manufacturer. Select Dough Cycle.

• Remove dough from pan and place on floured surface. Cover and let rest 15 minutes.

• Roll dough into a rectangle, about 10 x 15 inches.

• Spread margarine or butter over dough to within 1 inch of the edges. Sprinkle sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg (if desired) evenly over dough.

• Roll up dough tightly on long side. Press edges to seal and form into a 12 inch long, evenly shaped roll. Cut roll into 1 inch pieces

• Place rolls onto a greased 9 x 13 inch pan.

• Cover and let rise until double in volume, about 30 to 45 minutes.

• Preheat oven to 375° for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

• Let cool in pan 10 to 14 minutes.

• Drizzle with icing sugar glaze. Cut apart and remove from pan.


Little Guy got into the game.    The last time we made lasagna he got the idea of "hiding" spinach in the sauce.    Oh you should have seen the pure giddiness on his face when we finished eating supper and he was able to tell is Dad and big brother that they had eaten spinach --- which they hate!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Made to Crave

Back when we had our 40 day fast leading up to our 180 Discipleship Weekend for our middle school students, I decided to give up all soft drinks for my fast.    Pastor Matt challenged us to give up something that we would truly miss.    For me it was soft drinks.     I was so addicted to Pepsi.   

Those first days of fasting were so tough.   I craved my Pepsi so much.   Of course, that is the purpose of fasting.     Every time I craved that Pepsi I turned to God in prayer.    

During that time I discovered a book called "Made to Crave".    The title caught my attention because I was fighting my cravings so much and it bothered me that I was so controlled by such a silly craving.      This book addressed everything that was bothering me.    

It is no secret that everyone has a "drug" of choice.   Mine is food.    I am a very emotional eater.     I always have been.     The last couple of years have been especially challenging and the increasing size of my clothing show just how well I have coped.     Instead of "satisfying my deepest desire with GOD" (as Lisa talks about in her book), I was trying to fill those desires with food.    Epic fail.

After 40 days of no soft drinks, I discovered that I didn't even miss the silly things.    I started thinking, "I stopped one bad habit.   Why not try another one?"    

What was next?   Eating out too much.    So I announced to the hubs and boys that we were not going to eat out for at least thirty days.     They shrugged until...  Every Wednesday we have a crazy busy schedule so it has been a given that the boys would grab a $5 Little Caesar's pizza after church while I am in choir practice.    With this new announcement they couldn't do this.      Even stopping and grabbing our $1 chicken sandwiches in between sports practices was out.     It was an adjustment, but we did it.

Since then I have been trying to make other little changes such as eliminating junk from our junk drawer and buying more organic foods.     I am learning slowly.    I had to print out a chart (below) so I would have a cheat sheet of what was OK to buy organic and not to buy organic.

   

This is all a process.    All I know is I am convinced that we are made to crave God... not food!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Do You Kindle?

My boys gave me a Kindle for Christmas.     As you know, I review books and quite a few books were beginning to be offered in ebook form for the Kindle.   

I will admit that I was kind of skeptical about my Kindle.   I love my books.    Yes, they are piled everywhere in my house.     I started to take photos to show you, but I was afraid you would have an intervention.    There is a stack as tall as my piano standing next to my piano.    It is the latest in interior decorating, didn't you know?    I have a stack on my nightstand that I just received from my publisher.    I went and counted and there are twelve books sitting there.     Beside my dresser I have three stacks of books:  one stack I have read and want to keep, one stack I need to take to the shelter, and one stack I will take to my Dad or give to my friend in Atlanta.    So, as I said, I love my books.   

However, I have discovered some things about my Kindle that I love too!

I can walk on my exercise machine and read very easily with my Kindle.    With a regular book I was trying to hold it open.   My Kindle just sits flat and all I have to do to turn a page is hit a button.    I can even change the typeface to be a little larger if I want to make it easier to read.

If I am sitting in a waiting room I love having my Kindle.    Those waiting room magazines creep me out.    No telling how many people have touched them.   Ew!    Makes me want to wash my hands just thinking about it.

Speaking of waiting.     In between baseball practice, choir practice, art classes, shooting sports and all the other things the boys are involved in there is a lot of time that a mom has to wait.     If I find myself sitting on the sidelines I have more time to just sit and read.

A great thing about the Kindle are all the FREE books you can download.    Here are a few of my favorites that are currently available...




The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
(This book was on Big Guy's reading list for this year.   So many of the classics are free for download on Kindle which makes it such a bargain.     We have been able to use my Kindle for our homeschooling too!)

Even if you don't have a Kindle you can get these books too.   Kindle has an app for your PC which means you can download these books to your computer.    

What about you?   Do you have a Kindle?    What is the best book you have read on your Kindle?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Hearts Aglow

The future should be bright for Deborah Vandermark, who is now pursuing her interest in medicine alongside Dr. Christopher Clayton, who is courting her. But the lumber town is resistant to the idea of a woman physician, and she feels thwarted at every turn.


A more devastating blow occurs, however, when Christopher breaks off their relationship to return home to his troubled family. Despite her own love life going awry, Deborah is still intent to be a matchmaker for both her widowed mother and her brother, who has caught the eye of the spit-fire daughter of the local pastor.


But what will Deborah do when faced with the truth about Christopher's family? Is there hope for the two of them...or will Jake Wyeth's attentions finally catch Deborah's eye instead?


If you would like to read the first chapter of Hearts Aglow, go HERE.

Book Review

The Good... Any book written by Tracie Peterson is one that is going to be filled with amazing characters and "pull you in" plot lines.    Here writing is just so easy to read.      At the end of this book, Peterson includes two recipes for dishes that were mentioned several times in the book.    If you know me, you know that I LOVE that so much.     We will be trying those recipes very soon.

The Bad... Hearts Aglow is book two in the Striking A Match series.    Being a part of a series isn't all bad.   However, even when books are a part of a series I like for them to be able to be read on their own.  

The Ugly...  This book ended with a very "to be continued" ending and Hope Rekindled won't be out until June!

Bravo!

Our homeschool co-op had two great opportunities on the calendar and we decided to do them both.     On Friday we went and saw The Center Players perform Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer.   

Photo from MCHerald
Did the boys enjoy this play?   "I should say so!"  (That was one of the favorite statements from the play.)


This morning, we went and saw Ballet Magnificat perform Corrie ten Boom's The Hiding Place.    I read this book several times as a teenager and Big Guy read this last semester.      If you don't know Corrie's story, she was a Dutch Christian during the time of World War II.     She and her family helped many Jews escape the Nazis during this time.     Corrie's father built a hiding place for the people they were hiding to stay when the Nazis performed their raids.       One night, the Nazis raided and took the ten Boom family to a concentration camp.      Corrie's father died ten days after his capture.     Betsy, Corrie's sister, died during their time at the camp.     After their release, Corrie went back to the Netherlands and began rehabilitation homes for concentration camp survivors.       She met the woman who was her concentration jailer and the woman who tortured her so much.     She was able to forgive her and lead her to Christ.

Below is the promo video for the Ballet Magnificat.    It was truly magnificant!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Science. Fun and Yummy.

Little Guy is taking elementary Anatomy and Physiology.    He takes his class online every Monday and then completes classwork assignments during the week.   During this past Monday's class his teacher assigned them two projects which were due for next Monday's class.      Little Guy doesn't like to wait so he finished those up yesterday, took his photos and emailed them in to his teacher last night.


Somehow it didn't surprise me when he told me that he was going to build his models using food!   ha!  ha!





Mmm... Science.    Fun AND yummy.

A Bond Never Broken




This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Bond Never Broken
Bethany House (March 1, 2011)
by
Judith Miller




ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A Word from Judith:

Most readers want to know how authors 'got started' writing. My first novel, Threads of Love, was conceived when I was commuting sixty miles to work each day. I wanted to tell the story of a pioneer girl coming to Kansas and the faith that sustained her as she adjusted to a new life. When the book was completed, I tucked it away. I had absolutely no idea how publication of a book occurred and had given no thought to the concept. However, through a co-worker, I was directed to Tracie Peterson who, at that time, worked down the hall from me. Having never met Tracie, I was totally unaware of her writing career, but God intervened. The rest is, as they say, history...


With a graciousness that continues to amaze me, Tracie agreed to read my story, directed me to a publisher, and gave me information on a Christian writers conference. Since that first encounter many years ago, I have been blessed with the publication of numerous books, novellas and a juvenile fiction book. Joyously, Tracie and I had the opportunity to develop a blessed friendship. In fact, we have co-authored several series together, including The Bells of Lowell, the Lights of Lowell and The Broadmoor Legacy. In addition, I have continued to write several solo series.


ABOUT THE BOOK


For many years, Ilsa Redlich has helped her parents run a hotel in South Amana, but as the United States enters the Great War, she can feel her world changing. The residents of the towns surrounding the Amana Colonies used to be accepting of their quiet, peaceful neighbors, but with anti-German sentiment running high, the Amana villages are now plagued by vandalism, threats, and insults.


Things get even worse when Ilsa finds out her family won't be allowed to speak German in public--and that Garon, the childhood friend she's long been smitten with, has decided to join the army. Jutta Schmidt is shocked when several members of the Council of National Defense show up on her family's doorstep. Sure, the Schmidts once lived in the Amana Colonies, but that was years ago. She's even more surprised when the council demands that she travel to Amana and report back on any un-American activities.


Not daring to disobey the government agents, Jutta takes a job at the South Amana hotel, befriends the daughter of the owners, and begins to eavesdrop every chance she gets. When Jutta hears Ilsa making antiwar remarks and observes Garon assisting a suspicious outsider, she is torn at the prospect of betraying her new friends.


But what choice does she have? And when Garon is accused of something far worse than Jutta could imagine, can the Amana community come to his aid in time?


If you would like to read the first chapter of A Bond Never Broken, go HERE.

Code of Justice


"Follow the drugs."
Her sister's last words shake FBI agent Heather Sloan to the core. They also convince her that the helicopter crash only Heather survived wasn't an accident. Sheriff's deputy Jeremy Latham is assigned the case—he's the only one who can help Heather find the person responsible. If she can convince him they should work together. As they dig for the truth, they learn to trust and care for each other. Will they lose it all when the killer targets Heather? She's willing to risk her life to find her sister's killer—but her code of justice could cost her the chance to win Jeremy's love. 





About the Author:
            Liz Johnson grew up reading Christian fiction, and always dreamed of being part of the publishing industry. After graduating from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff with a degree in public relations, she set out to fulfill her dream. In 2006 she got her wish when she accepted a publicity position at a major trade book publisher. While working in the industry, she decided to pursue her other dream—becoming an author. Along the way to having her novels published, she completed the Christian Writers Guild apprentice course and wrote articles for several magazines.
            Liz makes her home in Nashville, TN, where she enjoys theater, exploring the local music scene, and making frequent trips to Arizona to dote on her two nephews and three nieces. She loves stories of true love with happy endings. Keep up with Liz's adventures in writing at www.lizjohnsonbooks.com.

Book Review

 


I definitely encourage you to read the first chapter, click here.

Note:  I was provided a complimentary copy of the Code of Justice.     The fact that I received complimentary products does not guarantee a favorable review.  It does guarantee a review. A fair review. But I am not going to praise something unless I think it deserves the praise.  If I don't like it, you'll hear that.  And hopefully with enough detail as to why so you can decide for yourself if what I hate about it makes it perfect for your family.