Wednesday, March 08, 2017

A Novel of the Great Depression

A Trail of Crumbs
A Novel of the Great Depression
By Susie Finkbeiner

Set in the great Depression, this novel is about the ups and downs of life. Themes include hope vs. despair, persevering vs. giving up, light vs. darkness, acceptance vs. rejection, and friendship . isolation.  It is a sad story, but rich with emotions. Finkbeiner has done a very good job with developing her characters - you can feel their every struggle.  it is an interesting peek into history.

It's a heavy read - not a beach read. It's not for readers who want light-hearted fiction. But if you want to sink into another time, another place, another family, and another era of history, you might enjoy reading and pondering over this book.

I would recommend this book for male and female readers age 15+.  It would be a very good book for a book club that is interested in historical fiction.

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

words and art combine to make this beautiful devotional coloring book

Images of Grace by Jacqui Grace

Images of Grace: An Inspirational Coloring Book by Jacqui Grace

I love this little devotional coloring book. The illustrations are beautiful and whimsical. The devotions are well-written, encouraging, uplifting, and challenging. The four weeks of devotions are short - only one page - and very easy to read. I love the idea of pondering God's truth while coloring an illustration inspired by a verse, and I know other readers will want to spend time reflecting on the devotion while coloring.  
Each week has a different them related to grace: knowing who you are, intimacy with God, when life gets tough, and now this is living.  Each week ends with discussion questions or individuals or groups.
I would recommend this coloring book to women ages 15+. I can't wait to share this with ladies in my life! 
I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Must Read for Parents!

Quick Tips for Busy Families by Jay Payleitner

Quick Tips for Busy Families by Jay Payleitner
The subtitle says it all - there are 144 ideas to 'Bring Out the Best in Your Kids--and Yourself!'.  This book is filled to the brim with great parenting advice.  It's not so much philosophy of parenting, but more about embracing the daily moments with your children. The ideas will help you be intentional with building relationships that are well poised to make a positie impact on your children. most of the tips are short and to the point - 1 page, maybe two. They range from responsibility to kindness/compassion, to discipline, to teachable moments, to safety, to boundaries, to accepting help.  There really is something for every parent. Read it with a friend or with your spouse, and share your favorite ideas. Prepare to dog-ear pages or take notes. And I'm sure you'll find youself sharing payleitner's tips with your friends.  I'm grateful that the publisher asked me to review this book, and in exchange, I've shared my honest review.


Monday, March 06, 2017


I asked my students to write poems about their home state of Tennessee today, and when I realized they were struggling, I decided to write one with them.

From the trickling creeks to the raging rivers,
From the mountain peaks to the valleys below,
From the rolling hills to the acres of lush farmland,
From the sprinkling rain to the lashing thunderstorms,
From the thick forests to the wide open spaces,
From the city delights to the peace of the quaint countryside,
From skyscrapers to tiny cabins,
From vibrant green leaves to a blanket of colorful leaves,
From the winter snows to the summer warmth,
This is the land I love,
Filled with the people I love.
I’m grateful to call this beautiful Tennessee home.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A Deeper Look at Ruth from the Bible

I enjoyed this book very much. It's a historical fiction account of Ruth from the Bible. The author builds a story around the truth we know from the Bible, and helps us get into the heart and mind of the main characters. It's quite creative and educational, as she paints a picture of two different cultures (Bethlehem and Moab) and religions during Ruth's life.  It's the story of grief and healing, desolation and hope, friendship and isolation, faith in gods vs. the one true God.

I've never read a book by Jil Eileen Smith, but I'll be on the lookout for more novels from her, as I enjoyed her writing style. She does a very nice job building a fictional tale based on stories in the Bible and historical accounts. The story is part of the Daughters of the Promised Land series, but it is also a stand-alone story.

I would recommend this book to readers ages 17+.  There is no sexually graphic material in the book, but there is talk about sacrificing babies to gods.  

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

Friday, February 24, 2017

When God Made You

When God Made You

my 10 year old daughter's review
"cute cover! i like the pictures - and all the colors. the book had good ideas, but it didn't always make sense because the words were hard.
​it has ​
tough vocabulary that younger kids won't understand.
didn't know some of the words at age 10, and
read a lot
​. It's rare for me to not understand a word in even long chapter books."
i wanted to love the book, but i didn't love it. the concept is great, and the pictures are really cute, but it didn't flow very well. parts of it seemed awkward to read. but it offers great discussion points for parents and their children. how God made each of us uniquely in his special design for each of us. how we shouldn't try to be someone else - we should just enjoy who God made us to be and do what makes us shine. how the color of our skin or our appearance doesn't affect our hearts and minds.  

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

the beauty of Alaska - in fiction

In the Shadow of Denali, by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse, is a very well written historical fiction novel that has captivated my attention this week.Though I've never had the privilege to see the magnificent Mount McKinley (Denali) or even see a glacier at all, I feel like I have a better picture of the beauty of the Alaska.  One day I'm sure I'll get to go!! 

The authors do an amazing job describing the town and the beauty. The plot is unique and creative. The characters are well developed and easy to relate to. I laughed and cried. The Christian messages both inspired and challenged me, as I'm sure they will other readers. I especially appreciated the faith messages woven into the story relating to faith, forgiveness, and hardship. 

From the publisher:  Cassidy Ivanoff and her father, John, work at the new and prestigious Curry Hotel outside Mt. McKinley. While John will be expedition and wilderness exploration guide for the wealthy tourists, Cassidy has signed on as a cook's assistant. Both are busy as the hotel prepares to welcome the president of the United States on his way to drive in the golden spike to officially complete the railroad. Allan Brennan travels to the Curry Hotel to be an apprentice of a seasoned Alaska mountain guide. Ever since his father's death climbing Mt. McKinley, he's worked to earn enough money to make the trek to the Alaska territory himself. His father's partner blames their guide for the death of his father, but Allan wants to find the truth for himself. He finds an unlikely ally in Cassidy, and as the two begin to look into the mystery, they suddenly find that things are much less clear, and much more dangerous, than either could ever imagine.

This is the first book in the new "Heart of Alaska" series, and I look forward to reading more. I would recommend this book for readers age 15 and older. I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Essential Worship By Greg Scheer

This book came in the mail before Christmas an I was wowed by the amount of content in it.  It is jam packed with resources to teach and inspire the worship leader who wants to grow.  It is not, however, a book for the faint of heart or the quick scanner.  It's not a book for the casual christian who just enjoys worship - it's more like a textbook for a worship leader.  If you are willing to sit with it, you will be blessed.

I asked our worship pastor to read it, and he gave a lovely synopsis:  "A must read for any worship leader and their teams. One  of the most comprehensive and thorough resources I've ever read. It's both educational and engaging, exhaustive and approachable, challenging and encouraging, practical and contemplative. What truly sets it apart is that from beginning to end it is informed by scripture. A meticulous exploration of the who, the why, the what, and the how of worship; presented from a refreshingly God-centered and gospel-saturated perspective. It's format makes it easy for discussion amongst worship teams and challenges the reader with questions that will help them apply what they've read in their individual context. this resource has the ability to make you a more effective worship leader; but, more importantly, it could transform you as a worshipper, as your heart is stirred by the"surpassing worth" of Jesus Christ."

From the publisher: "Essential Worship is an easy-to-read primer on the basics of worship theology and practice that is perfect for pastors and worship leaders of all levels of experience. Each concept is introduced and unpacked with useful diagrams, charts, and lists, plus preparation and reflection questions to help you apply the material to your unique church context. Whether you're beginning a new service or hoping to deepen existing worship, this indispensable resource is your solid foundation for future success."

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

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

nostalgia and a beautiful Bible

Product Details
Nostalgia. I still remember how excited I was to get my first beautiful Bible in high school. It was a teal soft leather and NIV Bible and I loved it! It sounds trite, but having a Bible that felt beautiful made it so much easier for me to start reading.

I was so excited to get this new journal Bible in the mail to review last month. My Holy Bible for Girls, Journal Edition.has a gorgeous turquoise blue cover with swirly flowers and little tiny butterflies. It's beautiful! It's a very sturdy hardcover Bible. Open it up and the cover pages are also turquoise prints with polka dots. It has a beautiful inscription page with space to write presentation information. It also has a one page instruction guide on how to use the Bible. It includes challenges to set Christian goals, to consider Bible characters, to ponder ways to show God's love, and to choose vs to memorize. Like most Bibles, is it includes a table of contents, but this Bible also includes and alphabetical order of the books of the Bible with corresponding page numbers. I love that for new believers trying to find Bible verses quickly. The Bible includes two bookmarks. The Bible text is plain and simple text. No notes other than the headings for different passages. But what sets this Bible apart is the space on every single page to journal or doodle. At the end of the Bible, it has a table of weights and measures, but it does not have a dictionary or concordance. Honestly the Bible would probably be too thick if it added those things.

In conclusion, the Bible is gorgeous and lovely for any girl or a woman. My daughter latched onto it immediately and didn't want to give it up. If readers will take the reflection opportunities to heart, this Bible could be a wonderful way to encourage someone in their faith.

I received this Bible as a gift and exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Family Dynamics + Politics

A Primary Decision (The Worthington Destiny Book #3): A Novel by [Leman, Dr. Kevin, Nesbit, Jeff]

Before the holidays, I finished reading a political suspense novel, A Primary Decision (The Worthington Destiny Book #3) by Kevin Lehman and Jeff Nesbit.

Kevin Lehman's family dynamics plus Jeff Nesbit's politics = a good duo for political suspense. But woven among the political suspense is the story of a complex family's victories, struggles, secrets, and daily life.  And the thoughtful reflection of how the birth order of a person impacts some of their characteristics, insecurities, tendencies, and life patterns.

This book is the third in the series, and I haven't read the first two books, so there were some pieces that seemed to be missing in the story.  I was, however, still able to enjoy it as a stand alone book.  

The pros: good storyline, well-developed characters, twists and turns. The con: the story seemed to be drawn out a bit too long.

From the publisher:  Sarah Worthington never expected to become the US attorney general--at least not this early in her career. Plunged into the vicious vetting process, with all sides digging for secrets in her family closet, she steels herself for the path forward. Nothing will deter her from making her mark on the world in the biggest way possible--even if that means prosecuting the current president of the United States. Yet powerful forces conspire behind the scenes to take the Worthington family down, and the president orders her to close the investigation. Will she comply? Or turn the tables to pursue her ultimate dream--the US presidency? This exciting conclusion to The Worthington Destiny series will have readers on the edge of their seats--just in time for the 2016 presidential race.

I read the book in December. with America still tense with the 2016 election. I probably would've enjoyed reading it more before the mess of the 2016 election process.  I do hope our newly elected president will lead with the character of the book's main character.

Audience: male and female readers ages 16+

Good for a book club, as there are many good discussion points to delve into with a friend.

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

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Life in the Country!

Home on the Range

I love the country, so I enjoy a well-written fiction book with rolling hills, creeks, horses, and big families enjoying farm life together.  Home on the range is this second book in Ruth Logan Hernes' Double S Ranch series. I enjoyed it as much as the first in the series,  though a reader doesn't need to start with book one in order to understand and enjoy the book. It's the story of farmers on a large ranch and how they deal with change, trauma, haunting pasts, and family relationships. It's a story of forgiveness, hope, healing, and the power of relationships to make us stronger. The characters are delightful and easy to love. 

From the publisher: Nick Stafford stayed in central Washington, working his family’s large ranch after his brothers left to pursue other passions—but his toughest job is being a single dad. As a child he watched his father fail at marriage and parenting, so Nick was determined to show him up. He’d be a better husband, father, and ranch manager than Sam Stafford ever was. Despite that commitment, three years after Nick’s wife left him, he has a daughter in trouble at school and both of his girls are facing issues that force him to rethink his stubborn plans. For Dr. Elsa Andreas, life fell apart when tragedy caused her to abandon her family therapy practice and retreat to the backwoods of Gray’s Glen. Her school principal sister believes Elsa can guide the Stafford girls and that working with kids will draw Elsa out of her protective bubble. Summer on the Double S teems with life and adventure. Amid the bounty of God and land, will Nick and Elsa find the courage to build futures based on faith rather than fear?

I would recommend this book for readers ages 15 and older. I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Flip Bible Book - great for dining room table!

Candle Day by Day Walk with Jesus: The Story of Jesus Retold in 40 Days
Candle has a new Bible storybook out for children called Day by Day, Walk With Jesus. The subtitle is "Read the story of Jesus in 40 days". There is a table of contents that outlines all 40 stories and the pages where they start. Each day has a key verse, a one-page story, and illustration, and a reflection question or statement. The stories are well told. The graphics are simple, but cute. They offer a wonderful way to let your children meet our savior through stories from  the Bible.

Product Details

Candle also has a New Day by Day Bible. It's actually a flip stand book that could sit on your counter top or table to remind you to read your Bible story each day. There are 365 stories from a combination of the Old Testament and New Testament. Each daily reading is numbered, so you can keep on track if you want to. Each day is titled with a short story that is anywhere from 1 to 4 short paragraphs. A bright picture usually encompasses about half of the page , so the reading in total for each day is probably 2-4 minutes. The words are also somewhat simple, so a 2nd or 3rd grader could probably read the text out loud.

Candle sent me both of these Publications in exchange for my honest review. I think both publications are great. I especially like the flip stand Bible storybook - my 10-year old daughter read it cover to cover in a few days, and my 12-year old son is halfway through it. I would recommend this product for families with children ages 4 to 10.

Glacier National Park in Fiction

Product Details
I’ve never been to Glacier National Park, but I feel like I’ve seen some of it after reading Susan May Warren’s new book, Wild Montana Skies. Wow, what a beautiful place!  I enjoyed the light-hearted story and the way she developed characters and relationships over long spans of time. A little bit of mystery, a little bit of challenges, and a little bit of love – all woven together in a nice package. The storyline is very creative and full of small unexpected twists.  I appreciate the themes of love, forgiveness, hope, healing, faithfulness, and standing up for yourself.  

I would recommend this book to readers age 15+.  It would be a good book to read with a friend or as a mother/daughter, as an opportunity to talk about decisions made throughout the book.

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

If I had judged the stuff by its cover, I probably would not have read it, but now I have discovered that Michael Phillips can really write.  In The Cottage, Phillips paints a wonderful description of the Shetland islands in this new release, and leaves readers wanting to see the beauty of the islands in person. She develops her characters well, she tells a tail full of twists, and she gives readers I wonderful journey to another world via the pages of her books.  

This was actually the second book in the Secrets of Shetlands series, but I didn't feel lost, even though I hadn't read the first book.

I actually shared this book with a friend, and her comments echoed mine.  She said, "I didn't think it was going to be very good, but I actually enjoyed it."

I would recommend this book to female readers age 14 plus and some males will enjoy the book as well. I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.