Being a mom is the hardest thing I've ever done, but it has brought me so much joy! I want to encourage other moms on their journey, I'll share motherhood tricks, spotlight tips I've learned from friends, and I hope you will share your ideas. I will focus on secrets that help families stay balanced, healthy, frugal, creative, and closely knit. I will also share favorite fiction and nonfiction books that I have enjoyed. Many blessings to you on your mothering journey!

Friday, September 21, 2018

Historical Fiction from Melanie Dobson

Hidden Among the Stars

Hidden Among the Stars is a riveting story told from the perspective of multiple characters over an 80 year period on two continents. 

Half of the book is set in 1938, as Hitler’s troops sweep into Vienna, Austrian It's the story of friends uniting to help Jewish friends in need. The heartwrenching story of love and loss, hope and despair, desperation and sacrifice.

The other half of the story is told from the perspective of a bookseller and children's storyteller in America in 2018. It's her quest to reunite treasures found in books with their owners. It's her quest to find her best friend's family. It's her quest to heal, to dream, and to learn to love and be loved again.

Author Melanie Dobson does an amazing job weaving the two stories together. Letting modern-day characters see into the lives of characters from 80 years ago. There is mystery, intrigue, twists, turns, sweetness, and sorrow between the pages. You won't want to put the story down, and you might even feel a little lonely when you finish the book, wanting the story to continue on.

Excellent read for ages 15+.

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

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Conversations and Memories with Children

A thought-provoking 365-question journal designed to spark daily interaction with your child while simultaneously creating a memory book that captures your child's life, personality, and faith journey over a 3-year period.
Each page represents a different day of the year, for example, January 1. There is a question associated with that day - perhaps a funny question or a creative question or a spiritual question. Then there is a space underneath the question to write a response for three different calendar years, thus tracking a child's thoughts and feelings over a long period of time.
It's a very clever concept and a wonderful legacy gift to leave to your children. With my over-achieving personality, I'll need to give myself the freedom to skip a day, or even just to capture a few questions a week without feeling guilty about leaving blank spaces in the book. Perhaps you will be the mom that never ever skips a day though! (LOL!)
Links for purchase can be found here.
I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Sawyer: Ours for a Season

Bridging the gap between a traditional Mennonite community and the world at large.
Bridging the gap in marriage when spouses have lost touch with one another.
Bridging the gap in lifetime friendship through letters.
Bridging the gap between teens in crisis and resources to help them.
Bridging the gap between health and sickness.
Bridging the gap between hopelessness and faith in the One that gives us hope.

This new novel by Kim Vogel Sawyer tells the story of so many gaps being bridged. She tackles so many tough issues - from fertility to teen pregnancy to homelessness to financial hardship to forgiveness to cancer to character choices. But she weaves all of the issues together into a really good story with a great plot, believable characters, and a unique setting. I loved the social justice elements in the book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book, and I already passed my copy along to a friend to read. I recommend this book to female readers age 15+.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, but they gave no stipulations on the content of my review.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Moving Historical Fiction

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Tara Johnson's new book, Engraved on the Heart. I don't think I've ever read anything by this author, but I'll be looking for more of her books.  Well-written, good pace, great characters, powerful storyline. I especially appreciate the themes of overcoming personal challenges and stigmas, as well as the service/missional element of choosing to fight for a cause on the underground railroad. Readers will be inspired and challenged to look for hurting and disadvantaged people around them, and discover ways they can make a difference. I hope they are challenged (and myself!) to avoid being a spectator of courageous community change, but instead, to step up and take action!

I recommend this book to male and female readers age 15+.  There is a love story woven throughout the book, but it's completely clean.

I received this book as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. I can't wait to share it with other readers!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Legal Thriller by Rachel Dylan

Lone Witness (Atlanta Justice)

If you are a Dee Henderson fan, you should try reading 

Lone Witness 

by Rachel Dylan. It's a legal thriller with a great balance of mystery, suspense, and light-hearted clean romance. Dylan is a lawyer by trade, and the details in her book let her expertise shine through. The novel feels very authentic, yet easy for a non-lawyer to relate to and understand.

From the publisher: "Prosecutor Sophie Dawson's first job in the White Collar division of the Fulton County D.A.'s office is to build a case against a local bank employee who may be cheating clients. But when circumstances beyond her control leave her as the only witness to a double homicide involving a vengeful gang, her world is turned upside down. Former Atlanta police officer turned private security guard Cooper Knight is hired to ensure that Sophie is kept safe. But as threats escalate, they don't know who they can trust. Sophie is determined not to back down, but her bank case gets more complicated by the day, and the gang will stop at nothing to keep her from testifying. Sophie wants to take a stand for what's right--but can Cooper, who is determined not to be distracted by their growing attraction, keep her safe so that she can finish her pursuit for justice?"

It's a "hit the ground running" kind of book, and the action doesn't stop until the last page of the book. With so many twists and turns, I was constantly guessing who the villains were. Amidst the action, there is plenty of time for character development and relationships to build among the characters. I enjoyed the conversations around life purpose, family relationships, faith/hope, courage, forgiveness, and friendship.  

This is book two in her Atlanta Justice series. .You can start with book one, which I also enjoyed, or jump straight to book two. You won't have trouble following the storyline.  I look forward to reading more Dylan books!

I recommend this book to male and female readers age 15 plus.  

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

Monday, May 21, 2018

Blind Betrayal by Nancy Mehl

Blind Betrayal is the newest book from Nancy Mehl. It's the final book in her series titled Defenders of Justice, but I never felt lost despite the fact that I have not read the other titles.

This is the story of several US Marshals coming together to protect a witness from a dangerous crime lord. It's suspenseful and full of twists and turns. Quiet themes of faith. Just a touch of romance, but completely clean. It has some great natural conversations about love, loss, grief, guilt, and friendship. Mehl is a good writer, who keeps her readers on their toes, anxiously awaiting the next pages.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the novel and I would recommend it to other readers age 16 plus. I don't think I've read any other books by this author, but I will be looking to pick more of them up in the future. I received this as a gift from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Raising World Changers in a changing World by Kristen Welch.

I believe Kristen Welch's new book, Raising World Changers, speaks straight from the heart of the gospel. She talks a lot about loving God and loving others. She talks about taking time to notice people around us, and to see beyond the surface to their hearts. She talks about the importance of using our time, talent, and treasures to meet the needs of people around us. She tells lots of stories of her family's journey to serve others sacrificially, and the trials that have come as a part of that journey. She also talks about how serving selflessly has changed her heart, her marriage, her children, and even her outlook on life. 

I especially enjoyed the full chapter she devotes to taking time to rest, as that's a critical step that servant-hearted Christians tend to miss. Myself included! Welch is vulnerable and real. It is not a quick easy "beach read", but read in small doses, this book will invite you to reflect upon your heart and perhaps even change your life as you also change the lives of others in your family and sphere of influence. I'm excited to see the ripple effects of how her book could change hearts all around the world.

I would recommend this book to any parent who wants their family to find true joy by focusing on God and others. This would be a great book for parents or friends to read together, taking time to discuss it as they read each chapter.

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