Monday, September 28, 2015

Girl Meets Change by Kristen Strong

From the publisher:
Whether chosen and celebrated--like going off to college or welcoming your first baby--or unexpected and anxiety-inducing--like losing a job or grappling with a broken trust--all change brings stress. Kristen Strong knows about change--especially the kind you didn't choose or expect. What she's fought hard to learn over the years is that change is not something to be feared but something to be received as a blessing from a God who, more often than not, works through change, not in spite of it. Strong has learned to see change not as a grievance but as a grace.

I would have recommended this book just for chapter three alone.  It was incredible.  But the fact is that the whole book was a blessing to read.  Kristen Strong takes you through three stages of change: acknowledge, accept, and adapt.  In each section she allows you to feel and admit the pain and change going on, yet points you to God and the blessings He has for you. In the book she shares personal stories of herself and others, as well as scripture.  This combination is powerful because it shows how the same God in the Bible is the same God working today in your own life.

I am going through a lot of changes right now, and that's why I wanted to read this book.  I am so glad I did.  It was a blessing and I will be recommending and sharing this book with others.

I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

The Time Garden: A magical journey and coloring book by Daria Song

From the publisher:
The Time Garden features extra-thick craft paper, ideal for non bleed-through coloring, and the jacketed cover with flaps is removable and colorable. Special gold-foil stamping on the cover and spine and a To/From page make it perfect for gifting to adults and kids alike.

I have never reviewed a coloring book before and was excited to see what Daria Song would give us.  This coloring book for adults is magical.  It is a perfect coloring book because it excites the imagination and the child in all of us.  The drawings are not just single pages to be colored but rather it tells a story and takes you through a journey.

Daria Song has created this beautiful book for adults and children to enjoy and I really enjoyed it.  It is a thick coloring book so it isn't something to fly through but take your time.

I received this book free in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

God Made All of Me: A Book to Help Children Protect Their Bodies by Justin & Lindsey Holcomb

This is a book I am glad, so very glad is published for parents and children.  As a mother I want my children to know that God made them and every part of them is good but some parts of private.  This book allows children to put away the guilt or embarrassment or shame of their private parts--all the while realizing that the private areas as not for sharing.

As a former teacher this is a book I would want to have in the hands of every parents.  This book deals with the difference between secrets and surprises and about how just because a part of your body is private or not, you have the right to say no.  Children will be able to relate to the illustrated characters and this is a book that does not have detailed body pictures and therefore is a safe book to have around the house for all ages.

I cannot express what an amazing book this is, so you need to go get it for your family to see for yourself.

I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Citrus by Valerie AIkman-Smith and Vicotira Pearson

The beautiful recipe book drew me from the cover.  I thought, "Wow! I'd like to make that!"  And so it was through the book.  The beautiful and yet simple photographs drew me into the recipes. The directions and needed ingredients were neatly laid out.  The layout was simple and clean.  There was not any clutter in the book.

Not all the ingredients are common or easy to find, but if the reader wanted to make the dishes they could with just a little extra effort to find or make what was needed.

This book is organized by citrus (lemon, lime, orange, tangerine, grapefruits, etc.) but if you want it by dishes there is also a table of contents where the recipes are organized by courses.

I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Intersect: Where Your Story and God's Story converge DVD

Intersect: Where Your Story and God's Story Converge

From the publisher:
This five-week small group resource helps spark spiritual conversations. Starting spiritual conversations with those outside of the church is a worthy, yet often difficult and intimidating task. Intersect was designed to help overcome those barriers. It is an easy-to-use resource, perfect for sharing with co-workers, friends, neighbors, and family to enter into meaningful conversations. 


This DVD is a good beginning resource for drawing people together to begin spiritual discussions.  And honestly, it isn't even always just with those outside the church that it is hard to have spiritual discussions with but those inside the church as well.  So this could be something that someone who wants to have a small group at their house could study.  

This is easy to use, as the leader would only need to read two pages in preparation for the meeting and then play the DVD and ask a few questions to generate discussion.  

Each of the five sessions are personal stories that open up spiritual discussion.  The videography is well done and pleasant to watch without being distracting to the story that the individual is telling.

I received this DVD free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Perfect Arrangement by Katie Ganshert

From the publisher:
Amelia Woods is a small-town wallflower and the proud owner of Forget-Me-Nots, a quaint flower shop that once belonged to her mother. Despite her success in business, her love life has always been a bit lackluster. Until she spies on her ex-boyfriend's wedding and ends up in horrifyingly embarrassing fender-bender with handsome wedding guest, Nate Gallagher.
 Amelia and Nate strike up an online relationship, but always lingering in Amelia's mind is the fear that he'll realize she's not nearly as appealing in real life.
As Amelia works to craft the perfect flower arrangements for other people, she begins to wonder if real love is better than the dream. And if it is, will Nate still be interested when he learns who she is?
This was a brilliant novella.  There was a lot packed into this little book and yet, it was just perfect. I loved hearing all of the details about the flower shop and Amelia's life as a florist.  The supporting characters were definitely a strength to the book.  There were people to love and dislike in a way that is only human and natural in real life.  This story felt like it could easily have happened.
I felt just as eager as Nate and Amelia felt to read each others email.  I was in agony when there was a lapse in communication.  Why did he/she write back yet?!  Written as only Katie Ganshert can write this beautiful love story is perfect.  Not because the characters are perfect, or the situation, but because of its imperfections and the way that it all works together for good.  I like the emailing back and forth.  It added a different dimension to the story and allowed the reader a new way to get to know the characters and see what was going on. 
I received this ebook free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A Summer Road Trip and a Book

This summer I went on a mini-road trip from Portland, Oregon to Victoria, B.C.  That trip was about family.  We flew to Portland, OR for a family reunion and then we were driving to Victoria, B.C. to surprise my great-grandmother with her great-great grandson.  The passengers in the car were my husband, myself, our son, and my mother.  So you can see--the whole trip was all about family.

I read this YA book recently.

This book--even though it might not seem like it at first glance. This book is not only about a boy who loves a girl and is going to her.

It is about Becca's family's love and commitment to each other that drawn Riley in.

It is about Riley's dad who is desperate to get to Riley and make a connection that matters.

It is about Riley's journey to get to his father, who he pretends doesn't matter, but does.

There are many levels in this book and as I drove along Interstate 5 up through Oregon, Washington, and Vancouver I felt our family ties strengthen and bind us.  Just like in To Get To You there is something about a road-trip that can really create the atmosphere for family to bond.

Read my review for To Get To You here and then go read it for yourself!

Also, check out this awesome giveaway inspired by the book!
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Chivalrous by Dina Sleiman

From the publisher:
Strong and adventurous Gwendolyn Barnes longs to be a knight like her chivalrous brothers. However, that is not an option for her, not even in the Arthurian-inspired Eden where she dwells. Her parents view her only as a marriage pawn, and her domineering father is determined to see her wed to a brutish man who will break her spirit. 

When handsome, good-hearted Allen of Ellsworth arrives in Edendale searching for his place in the world, Gwendolyn spies in him the sort of fellow she could imagine marrying. Yet fate seems determined to keep them apart. Tournaments, intrigue, and battles--along with twists and turns aplenty--await these two as they struggle to find love, identity, and their true destinies.

This is the second in the Valiant Heart series by Diana Sleiman.  I enjoyed this book more than the first book.  And I enjoyed the first one! This YA book gives strong characters to both male ans females.  Both Allen and Gwendolyn are characters that readers can learn from and enjoy.  They are not perfect but inspire the readers to be true to themselves and God.

The secondary characters were also very powerful.  I was drawn to them and hope that they appear in a future book as they were just as important to me in the story as the main ones.  It was also fun to have characters from the first book show up in this one. That way you could know more about what has happened to them since the conclusion of the previous book.

I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Luther and Katharina by Jody Hedlund

From the publisher:
In the 16th century, nun Katharina von Bora’s fate fell no further than the Abbey. Until she read the writings of Martin Luther.
His sweeping Catholic church reformation—condemning a cloistered life and promoting the goodness of marriage—awakened her desire for everything she’d been forbidden. Including Martin Luther himself. 
Despite the fact that the attraction and tension between them is undeniable, Luther holds fast to his convictions and remains isolated, refusing to risk anyone’s life but his own. And Katharina longs for love, but is strong-willed. She clings proudly to her class distinction, pining for nobility over the heart of a reformer. They couldn’t be more different. 
But as the world comes tumbling down around them, and with Luther’s threatened life a constant strain, these unlikely allies forge an unexpected bond of understanding, support and love. 
Together, they will alter the religious landscape forever.

This book amazed me.  And shocked me.  It made me realize that I really had  no idea of what the Reformation was like and what everyone went through.  Jody Hedlund's research and historical accuracy will blow you away.  As I read this book what kept hitting me was that this was not just a novel, but real life.  The things in this book (for the most part) came from history itself.  And even if all the instances didn't happen exactly like that to one person, it probably happened to someone like that. 

Luther's character was written so well and it was eye opening to see his struggles and the immense amount of pressure that he was under during this time from peasants, princes, his friends, and himself.  Katharina's character allowed me to see that even when a person joined the Reformation they probably did so in stages. Not all at once.

This book deal with some very horrible times but it also showed what those during that time suffered to give us today.

I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

To Get to You by Joanne Bischof

To get to the girl he loves, 
Riley Kane must head off on a road trip with the 
father he never knew. Then pray for a miracle. 

Most teens would love to have a pro surfer for a dad. Just not Riley. Abandoned as a kid, he hates the sound of the ocean and the man who gave himself to it. 

When the eighteen-year-old learns that his best friend is stranded at a New Mexico hospital as her father fights for his life, Riley hits the highway to head east. But when his Jeep breaks down before he even leaves California, he must rely on the one man he despises to get to the girl who needs him the most. And when it comes to the surfer with the Volkswagen van and dog-eared map, a thousand miles may–or may not–be enough to heal the past. 

A story of new beginnings and second chances. 

Joanne Bischof is an author whose words create emotions.  One of the things that makes reading her books so amazing is that is it not just in the conversations that she gives you a story but in the thoughts and emotions that are going on behind the scenes.  You step into the characters minds and are a part of their story.  Maybe it was the road trip or thinking about Hawaii while I read this book, but it felt calm and steady through the book.  The tension and currents just right, like a perfect wind.  

This cleverly titled book is dual purposed in its meaning.  As you read through the story you will have to decide for yourself who it is most talking about.  There are multiple levels of relationships in this story and each one is woven seamlessly into one another.  Some books have too many characters or you don't feel attached to any of them, but not the case here.  Each character is important and you feel drawn to them and their own stories and how they all weave together.

I'll admit, I felt tears at the ending of this book.  For all the may or may nots that could happen.  There are phrases that stand out to me in this book and I know will stand out to you.  Truths that go beyond a novel and are for you and I right now.  

I highly recommend reading this book.

I received this ebook free in exchange for my honest review.

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The Mistress of Tall Acre by Laura Frantz

From the publisher: The American Revolution is finally over, and Sophie Menzies is starved for good news. When her nearest neighbor, General Seamus Ogilvy, finally comes home to Tall Acre, she hopes it is a sign of better days to come. But the general is now a widower with a small daughter in desperate need of a mother. Nearly destitute, Sophie agrees to marry Seamus and become the mistress of Tall Acre in what seems a safe, sensible arrangement. But when a woman from the general's past returns without warning, the ties that bind this fledgling family together will be strained to the utmost. When all is said and done, who will be the rightful mistress of Tall Acre?

Triumph and tragedy, loyalty and betrayal--readers find it all in the rich pages of this newest historical novel from the talented pen of Laura Frantz. Her careful historical details immerse the reader in the story world, and her emotional writing and finely tuned characters never cease to enchant fans both old and new._________________________

This is a time period I haven’t read a lot about, after the American Revolutionary and all the tensions of Patriots and Torys and what happened to each.  Laura Frantz really brought out historical details that I had never heard of.  From the big picture of post-American Revolution, to small details like the drinks form Scotland, or a buck and what is was for and from.  I loved each detail in this story.  It enriched my knowledge and enjoyment of the story.

All the praise you have ever heard for this author is true.  You will be amazed at her writing and the way you are drawn into the characters and time period.  Your emotions are with each character and you desire to know what will happen.  The spiritual aspect of the book is gently woven in.  The romantic aspects are steady and rich as the characters themselves. 

I received this book from the publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Falling Like Snowflakes by Denise Hunter

From the publisher:
Speeding north through rural Maine, Eden Martelli wonders how her life came to this—on the run with her mute five-year-old son dozing fitfully in the passenger seat. When a breakdown leaves them stranded in Summer Harbor, Eden has no choice but to stay put through Christmas . . . even though they have no place to lay their heads.
Beau Callahan is a habitual problem solver—for other people anyway. He left the sheriff’s department to take over his family’s Christmas tree farm, but he’s still haunted by the loss of his parents and struggling to handle his first Christmas alone.
When Eden shows up looking for work just as Beau’s feisty aunt gets out of the hospital, Beau thinks he’s finally caught a break. Eden is competent and dedicated—if a little guarded—and a knockout to boot. But, as he soon finds out, she also comes with a boatload of secrets.
Eden has been through too much to trust her heart to another man, but Beau is impossible to resist, and the feeling seems to be mutual. As Christmas Eve approaches, Eden’s past catches up to her.
Beau will go to the ends of the earth to keep her safe. But who’s going to protect his heart from a woman who can’t seem to trust again?

I love picking up a book by Denise Hunter.  Her writing is always a hook.  It draws you in from the very beginning and doesn’t let you go even after the story has ended.  This is a new series and I was excited to read the first book.

The story was reminiscent of Safe Haven in a small sense, and even the author gives a nod in that direction through the story.  Micah and Eden will tug at your heart.  As a mother I really felt the emotions of Eden and her struggle to do anything to keep her son safe and well.  The writing really brought that out.

Beau and his two brothers are characters that you immediately want to know more about.  I am glad this is a series so we can further get into the stories of this family.  Beau’s strong and loyal character is a compliment for the story and what is needed. 

The story was paced out perfectly, giving hints and clues along the way, but only revealing it at the crucial points.  There are tense scenes in this book, and also very tender ones.  A perfect blend.

I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.