Monday, February 01, 2016

Undaunted Hope by Jody Hedlund

Product Details

I just finished another great book by Jody Hedlund, Undaunted Hope.  I didn't want to put it down, so I read in every spare moment I had this week.  (always a sign of a good book!)

Here's a description from the publisher:
Tessa Taylor arrives in 1870s Upper Peninsula, Michigan, planning to serve as a new teacher to the town. Much to her dismay, however, she immediately learns that there was a mistake, that the town had requested a male teacher. Percival Updegraff, superintendent and chief mine clerk, says she can stay through winter since they won't be able to locate a new teacher before then, and Tessa can't help but say she is in his debt. Determined to become indispensable, Tessa throws herself into teaching, and soon the children of the widowed lighthouse keeper have decided she's the right match for their grieving father. Their uncle and assistant light keeper, Alex Bjorklund, has his own feelings for Tessa. As the two brothers begin competing for her hand, Tessa increasingly feels that someone is tracking her every move, and she may not be able to escape the trap that has been laid for her.

Hedlund does an excellent job developing her main characters.  You can feel Tessa's fear and passion.  You can feel Alex's protectiveness, loyalty and longing.  You can feel Michael's grief.  You can feel Percival's evil nature.

She also does a wonderful job painting the scenery.  You can imagine yourself walking into the town, seeing the homes, the mines, the snow, the lighthouse, the water, the treacherous weather...

I appreciated the character struggles, the plot twists, and the struggle for good to overcome evil.  I loved seeing such a strong female character, fighting for justice and for the people.  I enjoyed the love story and the friendships.

Undaunted Hope is a great historical fiction novel, and I would recommend it to readers age 17+.

I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

8 things to give up

I found this on facebook and thought it was perfect;

Thursday, January 28, 2016

A Great Resource to Study BIble Prophecy

Thomas Nelson Pulisher sent me a copy of John Hagee's NKJV Prophecy Study Bible, asking me to share an unbiased review.  If you are interested in studying prophecy from Genesis to Revelation, this edition of the Bible will impress you.  Here are samples of some of the study helps in this BIble:

  • An introduction to Prophets and Prophecy
  • An outline and reading about the end times
  • Top 20 Questions about Bible Prophecy  from "How can I know Bible propecy is accurate" to "What role does Israel play in th eend times" to "What are the 5 different views on the rapture".  Hagee answers each question with scripture and the explanation of scripture.
  • Diamonds for Daily Living - 40 one-page devotions scattered throughout the book of Psalms.  He covers topics such as rest, faith, fear, protection, and spiritual fitness.
  • God's Great Promises - articles that explain the covenants God has made with Christians throughout the ages.  this explained some covenants that I had looked over or didn't understand.  The promises range from Adam to Abraham to Moses to Israel to the Church.
  • God's Great Salvation.  This explains the story of our salvation from Genesis to Revelation.
  • Evidences.  These one page articles explain some of the tenants of the Christian faith through modern day stories, scriptures, and teaching. Ex: the trinity, demons, the alpha & omega, perfection, sins, eternal life..
  • Spokesmen for God.articles on 19 prophets in the Bible - who they are and what message they shared.
  • Bible Insights - reference articles about the Bible, cultural understanding, and general prophecy.
  • Bible Prophecy Charts - 16 charts outlining different prophetic messages in the Bible.
  • Master index to Bible Prophecies and fulfillment (very cool 16 pages of small print!)
  • Intro to each book of the Bible includes notes about the book, the author, the time period, how Christ fits into the book's story, key passages/themes, and a survey of the book.
  • a 64 page concordance
You can see that this Bible is packed with great study material.  You can tell that Hagee put a whole lifetime of studying into this Bible.  It's like reading someone's journal about the BIble, seeing all of their Bible notes, and listening to them explain the BIble prophecies.  It's a heavy hard-cover Bible with small print on thin pages.

I recommend this book for anyone who wants to study the Bible with a focus on God's promises, the prophecies and the big picture of how Christ is present throughout the Bible.

Monday, January 25, 2016

A step back in time with Elizabeth Camden's newest novel

Another great book from Elizabeth Camden - Until the Dawn.  Unique story, intriguing characters, and another jump into times past.  

From the publisher: 
A volunteer for the newly established Weather Bureau, Sophie van Riijn needs access to the highest spot in her village to report the most accurate readings. Fascinated by Dierenpark, an abandoned mansion high atop a windswept cliff in the Hudson River Valley, Sophie knows no better option despite a lack of permission from the absent owners. The first Vandermark to return to the area in sixty years, Quentin intends to put an end to the shadowy rumors about the property that has brought nothing but trouble upon his family. Ready to tear down the mansion, he is furious to discover a local woman has been trespassing on his land. Instantly at odds, Quentin and Sophie find common ground when she is the only one who can reach his troubled son. There's a light within Sophie that Quentin has never known, and a small spark of the hope that left him years ago begins to grow. But when the secrets of Dierenpark and the Vandermark family history are no longer content to stay in the past, will tragedy triumph or can their tenuous hope prevail?

Camden describes the scenery so well that I felt like I was watching it in a movie.  She has a gift for painting pictures with words! The scenes she paints are beautiful, and I would love to jump into the pages and take a tour of Dierenpark.

Her characters also come to life on the pages.  I feel like I really now Sophie, Quentin and others in the novel.  She brings the character struggles to life also - the reader can almost feel the heartaches, the fear, the pain, the sorrow, the beauty and the hope that the characters experience.  Also the sign of a gifted writer!

I enjoyed every moment of reading the book, and I appreciate the faith-filled messages in the book.  I would recommend this for readers ages 16+, and it would be a good book club read in company with the question in the back of the book.

I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Keys for Healthy Living

1.     Eat six times a day.  Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner and three small snacks between meals.  Metabolism is key to weight maintenance or loss.
2.       Serving sizes should be the size of your fist.
3.       Drink at least 64 ounces of water a day.
4.       Try to get 8 hours of sleep a night.
5.       Try to get at least 15 to 20 minutes of uninterrupted walking in per day. [the more the better]
6.       Remember to tell someone what you are thankful for and tell those you love that you love them. [powerful words]
7.       Say thank you and please.  [more powerful words]
8.       Read a good book.
9.       Make time for your family and yourself every week.  [if you need to schedule it, then schedule it.
10.   Help someone in need.  [the best gift you can give someone and yourself is the act of giving]

from Rob Brooks

Friday, January 22, 2016

Wanna learn more about Martin Luther?

Check out this new book!  Luther and Katharina

Wow!  I loved this book!  I didn't want to put the book down!  

It's the perfect historical fiction book,  combining elements of history with fiction in a seamless and believable tale. Jody Hedlund did a lot of research on Martin Luther's life in order to write this book and it paid off with a 5 star read. I enjoyed learning more about church decisions, church politics, and traditions from this era. I appreciate the character struggles with faith, guilt, love, fear, and perseverance.

From the publisher:  She was a nun of noble birth. He, a heretic, a reformer…an outlaw of the Holy Roman Empire.  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.  

I highly recommend this book to readers age 16+ and I think it would be a good read for book clubs.

I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World

I just previewed a new book titled, "Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World" by Kristen Welch.  It's a great parenting resource, and I'm thrilled to share it with you

From the author's website:
No one plans to raise a selfish child or spoiled brat. Every parent dreams of their child being selfless, generous, and appreciative. But it’s challenging to raise a grateful child in a culture that has a hard time saying no. We love our kids and want to give them the world. How do we say no to our child when “every other child” gets “everything they want?”
Kristen Welch, author of We are THAT family and founder of Mercy House, is learning the way to give the world to her children is by giving them perspective. She’s discovered the ultimate yes in bringing up faith-filled kids who love God and others.
It’s never too late to raise grateful kids. With Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World, get ready to cultivate a spirit of genuine gratitude in your family and create a home in which your kids don’t just say―but mean!―“thank you.”
While there was a lot of content related to teaching kids the practice of gratitude, there is also a lot of good overall parenting advice. I very much enjoyed reading Welch's stories and her practical advice.  Here are some of the topics she bravely ventures into:
wants vs. needs

  • self-centered culture
  • kids & technology
  • obedience
  • creating and maintaining a Christ-centered home
  • the choice of gratitude
  • navigating rough waters of life

I would recommend this to any parent who wants to raise children in a a Christ centered home, with the goal of raising children that love Jesus. 

Wanna sneak peak into the book?  Read the first chapter here.  Or check out Kristen's blog.  Here is a post that she wrote about 3 questions to increase your gratitude.  As a gift for being a part of this book launch, Kristen gave me this lovely bracelet. It is to be worn as a reminder to answer three gratitude questions from the blog post. A good habit for everyday. 

I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

DC comics meets the BIble in this new book

By Siku, Richard Thomas, and Jeff Anderson

Think DC comics meets the BIble.  The Bible has bold comic images and a Marvel-like font.  The BIble characters have superero like names such as Iron Maiden, Fierce Friend, The Accuser, The Son, and The Rock.  I found the images to be disturbing (though I admit that I'm conservative about images).  Adam and Eve were very naked - Eve with an extreme hourglass figure - much more shock aspect than I expected.  The images are very dark and violent - there is a picture of heads on sticks!  It's very well done, it's just ot my style.  I was expecting something that I could share with my 10 and 14 year old son, but I'm not comfortable giving it to them because of the images.  If you know that you are purchasing a Marvel style comic for 15+, then you will enjoy this.  But don't buy expecting a light-hearted children's comic Bible.

I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Word Of Promise New Testament (Audiobook)

The Word Of Promise New Testament (Audiobook)New Testament Audio Bible

By Thomas Nelson

I am thrilled to review this product.  I have so enjoyed listening to the Bible over the last few weeks!  As a mom of 4, it's tough to find the time and energy to dive into the word.  Sad, but true.  Listening to the Bible, though, is very doable with all of the driving I do around town!

Listening to the Bible is such a different experience than reading the Bible.  I continually discover passages, that I don't remember reading.  And I notice new aspects to passages I've read again and again.  I think it's because the actors using different inflections and emphasize different words.  This version is also recorded in radio theater style, so you can hear the story unfolding as the actors tell the story - you can hear things like the disciples' silverware at the Last Supper, or Pilate washing his hands after the people told him to crucify Jesus.

I've also been listening to some of the stories with my children.  My daughter commented on how difficult the Bible is to understand, but she really likes listening to the Bible.  It's great to present kids with a different style of learning the Bible!

The only downside to this Bible is the case.  I have a hard time getting the CDs out of the case.  But it could just be me!

I would recommend this Bible to anyone who wants to sink themselves into God's word.

I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exhange for my honest review.

She's almost a teenager!

Well my daughter is only 9, but i know the time will be here before i know it, so I jumped at the chance to review this book: 

She's Almost a Teenager: Essential Conversations to Have Now by Peter & Heather Larson and David & Claudia Arp

This easy to read book is a great tool for parents of young girls! The authors teach parents how to navigate conversations to see what your daughter really thinks about boys, school, God, and her future -  important topics don't often come up in everyday conversation. Some of the specific topics includes: 
  • Physical and emotional changes your daughter is facing
  • Taking ownership of her spiritual life
  • Using social media responsibly
  • and much more
I love that the book is about investing time, thoughtful attention and love in your daughter with the outcome of helping your daughter choose good life paths.

Disclaimer: I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: The Aleppo Code

The Aleppo Code: A Novel (The Jerusalem Prophecies)

Oct 27, 2015by Terry Brennan

The publisher describes the book in this way:
Will the code reveal history’s most powerful weapon for destruction―or humanity’s only hope?
(The characters gather to) examine a copy of the tenth-century Aleppo Code, the oldest complete text of Jewish scripture. What the clues inside reveal could lead to the reuniting of the Ark of the Covenant with its true source of power, a weapon that could lead to victory for this ragged bunch trying to save the world.  Hunted by the relentless assassins of the Prophet’s Guard and caught in the web of an international conspiracy plotting the conquest of Europe, Bohannon’s team searches the ruins of Ancient Babylon. Their search lands them amid the chaos that engulfs western Iraq, but they must press on to accomplish one of the most pivotal pieces of end-times prophecy. This intrepid group will uncover secrets that require them to risk everything for their faith, their country, and the peace of all mankind.  Unfolding against the backdrop of an Israeli/U.S. strike against Iran and the planned economic overthrow of the European Union by the sinister, secret head of the international Muslim Brotherhood,The Aleppo Code is a heart-pounding race. Brennan takes an epic story on a grand scale and tells it primarily through the eyes of one man who is desperately trying to save the world as he follows God’s purpose for his life.

This is the 3rd book in the series.  I would recommend reading the books in order, as this book picks up where book number 2 left off.

The plot weaves biblical ideas into modern day events.  It's highly creative, though some readers will have difficult with the stretch from biblical truth into fantasy. I really liked the suspense scenes and the action scenes.  I was less interested in the political aspects of the book. 

It was hard for me to get into the book - it's a complex story that takes a long time to read. I was overwhelmed by the multiple storylines and characters.  Part of my challenge, I'm sure, was that I'm trying to read a book with a 9 month old and three other children in the house!

I would recommend this book to male and female readers age 13+, as long as they enjoy complex Tom Clancy - like novels.

I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

A New Perspective on the Christmas Story

The Midnight Visitors is a very sweet retelling of the Christmas story from a surprise narrator - a cute little cow named Miriam.  Miriam is a cow who lives in the Bethlehem stable where Christ was born.  You will love the sweet vibrant pictures.  It's a well told story that children will enjoy reading - and ask you to read it again and again.  I would recommend this for children ages 3-8.  I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Love Everlasting by Tracie Peterson

I totally expected to love this book, so I was disappointed that I didn't get lost in the storyline immediately.  I almost gave up on the story, but I'm glad I kept going because I really enjoyed the second half of the book.  I'm not sure why it took me so long to get hooked (honestly, it could be that i have a short attention span with a new baby in the house!), but once the pace of the story picked up, I didn't want to put the book down.  A little bit of mystery, a little bit of adventure, suspense, and falling in love = a great combination for a novel.  You will easily feel the struggles that the main character wrestles with - fear, love, faith, friendship, betrayal, defeat, loyalty, and feeling overwhelmed.  You will also find your spirits buoyed as she chooses to trust in God's provision and care during dire circumstances.  I would recommend this book to any female reader age 14+.  Disclaimer: I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Teaching Girls to Fix Their Hair

My daughter and I have been talking a lot about hair care and styling hair lightly, so this book, "Best hair book ever!" was perfect to read when it came in the mail. It is so cute, and so well done. The articles on hair care are simple, practical, and very helpful. The hairstyles are quite diverse in time and talent required. I love that it's a very balanced look at taking care of your hair, instead of getting caught up in fashion pressure. I'm thrilled to put this kind of tool and my daughters hands. I would recommend this book to any girl age 9 to 16. I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Diaper Changing Stations

It's been 9 years since we had a newborn in the house, and there are so many things I don't remember!  One thing I don't remember is having multiple diaper changing stations in the house.  It's definitely something I appreciate now, as our family stays constantly on the move with the older children (9, 10 and 13).  We have one changing station in the nursery, one in our bedroom, and one downstairs.  Each changing station is simple - diapers, wipes and a toy to keep him busy during diaper changes.  But having multiple stations saves steps during the day, and therefore helps with my sanity!  I'd love to hear your tips for keeping life simple with a large family!