Tuesday, December 4

Isle of Shadows and an Ancient Wonder

Colossus of Rhodes

Living Under the Shadow of Colossus, Ancient Wonder of the World

It is 226 BC.  Tessa, a slave who is as beautiful as she is clever, lives in Rhodes where numerous gods, including Colossus, are worshiped.  Before she becomes a Christian, Tessa feels that her entire life is wrapped around the magnificent statue of Colossus.  His shadow hovered over her as her mother sold her into slavery at a young age.  His shadow seems to call to her in her darkest moment when she decides to take her life.  She runs to his statue even as a Christian who grasps for not only spiritual freedom, but bodily freedom as well.

I love historical fiction and thought there was much promise in Isle of Shadows.  The good characters were likeable, the evil characters were detestable.  Tessa herself was very interesting.  She was a courtesan to Rome's political leaders (the highest bidder seemed to own her; when the book begins she is owned by a very powerful man, Glaucus) Interestingly, Tessa actually advised on political affairs.  Reading about a woman like her made me want to find out if any women slaves truly did have such a voice.  The book seems to ask the question: Is Glaucus powerful only because of Tessa?  Or is he truly wise via his own merits?

The entire book leads up to the historical Rhodes earthquake, which stood for 56 years until 226 BC, when the earthquake hit and significant damage was done to large portions of the city, including the harbor and commercial buildings, which were destroyed. The statue, which was actually at the harbor, snapped at the knees and fell over on to the land.  In the book, Tessa was there when it happened. Afterward, the Rhodians were afraid that they had offended Helios, and they declined to rebuild it. All of these events worked in Tessa's favor.

This book was a quick read but it definitely whetted my appetite for more Roman history.  You can read the first chapter on Amazon here.

If ancient Rome interests you like it does me, I also recommend Francine Rivers' Mark of the Lion series.  It's amazing!  But unlike this one, it's not a quick read.  More like deep and thought-provoking.  If I were you, I'd read them all.  ;)

Special thanks to the awesome people at Tommy Nelson for providing me with this book for review!

Saturday, November 10

The Memory Jar

A memory jar is a bit like a journal except that, instead of words, it houses tiny treasures that will bring back your favorite memories. Reading Tricia Goyer's new book The Memory Jar inspired me to start my first one. I've always written a journal to keep my memories fresh and remind me of where God has brought me from and through, but I'd never heard of a memory jar before. Like Sarah from between the pages of the book, I plan to start a new memory jar each year.

Like the memories she carries in a jar along with the small items connected to them, Sarah carries around her emotions instead of allowing them to penetrate deep into her heart. One of the most touching stories I've read in a very long time, I often cried both tears of joy and tears of sadness for Sarah.

The Memory Jar was such a powerful and touching read! Heartwarming, inspiring, romantic, sweet, and unpredictable, it had pretty much everything a good book should have. I've just discovered Tricia Goyer this year but each of her books has touched my heart. Unlike many authors, her stories seem to always be something fresh and new. Her books move at the perfect pace--never boring, captivating my interest, and not tempting me to read the last page.

If you like Amish fiction you'll love this or, gosh, if you've never tried it, let this be your first!  

Special thanks to the wonderful people at Litfuse for providing me with this book to review.

Friday, November 2

Life With Lily: Amish Fiction for Kids!

I was so excited to see that there's now Amish fiction for children!  I had the opportunity to review Life With Lily, the first book in a new series.  The author, Suzanne Woods Fisher, grew up Amish and based the books off of her own childhood.  I thought this would be the perfect way to help my children to understand the Amish. I've been reading it to my children at bedtime.  Since it say for ages 8 and up and Lily is only 6 years old, I was a bit surprised that the book is so long (almost 300 pages) and it's not really something most early elementary children would read.  Since Lily is in first grade, I expected these books to be more like the shorter Imagination Stations series we've been reading and perhaps with more and larger pictures inside (there a few small illustrations).

Perhaps in the future, Miss Fisher will write something that a younger audience can read themselves.  We are enjoying it, though, in our own way.  :)

Lily is six in this story, just starting first grade in a one-room schoolhouse in upstate New York. Her parents are busy building a farm, and soon animals join the family—Jenny the cow and Chubby the miniature horse. A baby brother arrives, too, which Lily has mixed feelings about. (She wanted a sister!) Aside from a mischievous friend like Mandy Mast, Lily is happy at school and even happier at home. 

Trouble is brewing at the schoolhouse and change is on the horizon for Lily and her family.

Special thanks to the wonderful people at Litfuse for providing me with this book for review! 

Tuesday, October 30

At The Feet of Jesus

I was drawn to the devotional book At the Feet of Jesus because it called out to us Mary's in a Martha world.  As moms, wives, and Christians we get so caught up in the busyness of life. Even when we want to make time for God, we get distracted.  God has called us for more than just serving Him as Martha did, but He wants to know us, too, as Mary did.  That's what this devotional is all about.

You were made for more than serving God; you were made to know Him.

Next Thursday, Nov. 8th, the author is having a Facebook Party to celebrate her release of At the Feet of Jesus. It will be an evening of encouragement, laughter and a Q&A with the author. There will also be gift certificates and books given away to participants. You can enter and RSVP by clicking the pic below.  The winner will be announced at the party on 11/8. 

One blessed winner will receive:

  • An iPad
  • The Year in Bethany Trilogy (Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, Having a Mary Spirit and Lazarus Awakening 
  • At the Feet of Jesus for YOU and Five of your friends.
If you win, stop by here and let me know so that I can be happy for you! 

Wednesday, October 17

The Fantasy Fallacy & 50 Shades

Once upon a time (oh, about four years or so ago) I began looking for a book that would challenge and inspire me as a woman who loves to have fun, has (I'll confess) been considered a flirt in the past, has always been more comfortable with guys than girls, who likes to be real, and who has had a hard time trying to find the balance between being "myself" and being who I'm supposed to be as a woman of God.  Obviously, God made me who I am... but sometimes it's kind of hard knowing exactly who that is after growing up in a culture that tells you certain things are right when they're wrong, and certain things are wrong when they're right.  I tried a certain book (the title of which shall remain nameless) two years in a row and ended up trashing it both times.  I decided I'd just stick with the bible until God gave me something in addition to it.

And then last year I stumbled upon Shannon Ethridge's book "Every Woman's Battle", a book that had me excited from the first chapter--it was just what I'd been looking for for three years!  Shannon addresses topics most authors and Christian woman speakers seem to be afraid to address--how to wisely navigate male/female relationships outside of marriage, how to to have a richly rewarding sex life the right way, and now she addresses fantasy in light of the recent "Fifty Shades of Gray" craze with her new book "The Fantasy Fallacy".  

She begins by pointing out common misconceptions that people have about sex and builds off of them throughout the book.  All of the below are false:
  • The Sexual Revolution of the past forty-plus years is all about sex.
  • The church does an adequate job of teaching Christians how to appropriately assess and discuss the topic of sexual fantasy.
  • All fantasy is inappropriate, unhealthy, and sinful. 
  • Sexual fantasy and lust are always the same thing.
  • Christians control their sexual thoughts and actions better than others.
  • Sexual fantasies provide a road map to the sexual fulfillment we crave.
  • Sexual fantasies are better left unspoken and unexplored.
  • Sexual fantasy is really just the brain's way of driving us to do evil things.
  • Anxiety, confusion, or fear over sexual fantasies is not a common issue.
  • Interpreting sexual fantasies isn't going to solve any of the world's problems.
Shannon doesn't, like some speakers I've heard, believe that all fantasy is sinful.  God was incredibly creative and we're made in His image, after all.  He can use fantasy for His glory: "The Chronicles of Narnia", for instance, but in our sex lives, too.
I love the way Shannon writes because she's real, she's honest about her own failings and temptations, and she is not writing about something she knows nothing about.  She writes with a heart for her reader, whether you're into this "Fifty Shades of Gray" thing or not.

Consider that...
  • to fantasize about where to go to college and what to study means we are intelligent.
  • to fantasize about getting more out of our careers means that we are ambitious.
  • to fantasize about getting physically fit means that we are health conscious.
  • to fantasize about getting more out of our sex lives, well, that means we must be lustful, perverted, sick, and twisted.
Of course, that last statement is simply not true.  It is normal and healthy to want the most out of our sex lives, and sometimes fantasy is the best way to achieve that goal--to envision what you might find pleasurable and especially to envision what kind of pleasurable acts you would enjoy offering to your spouse.  -S.E.

If you are into "Fifty Shades", if you're just wondering what all this sexual fantasy is about, if you've struggled with inappropriate fantasy in the past, or if you'd like more fulfilling sex in your marriage, please read "The Fantasy Fallacy"! It's something I believe God put on this woman's heart in His always-perfect timing.  You can read an excerpt by clicking any of the hyperlinks in this post. 

This book was provided to me by the awesome people at Booksneeze in exchange for a thoughtful and honest review!

Tuesday, September 18

Bride's Pocket Bible ♥

As you can see, I needed a new pocket bible sooo badly!  My old Air Force one was quite falling apart... but I love having a bible that will fit into my purse, so I jumped at the chance to review Thomas Nelson's new KJV Bride's Bible. Of course, I haven't been a new bride for 11 years but once a bride, always a bride, right?  I think so.  It's pretty with a lacy cover and silver edged pages.  My daugthers ooed and ahhed over it asking, "Mommy, when can we have a beautiful bible like that?"

This is the perfect bible.  I absolutely love it.  It's thin and lightweight, thin enough to tuck into your purse, briefcase, backpack, or glove compartment, yet large enough for easy readability. It's the perfect gift for a soon-to-be bride or for (ahem) yourself. It includes a few features, too, like:

*A Presentation Page
*Self-pronouncing Text
*Special Photograph Pages
*Words of Jesus in Red
*Full-color Maps

The cover is soft imitation leather and it seems to be a bible that will hold up very well for years, even with everyday use.  ♥  If you get it, you'll love it!

 Special thanks to Thomas Nelson for providing this book for review!

Thursday, September 13

Be Still My Soul: Sweet, Mountain Historical Fiction

Be Still My Soul is a sweet love story of Lonnie, who lives in a small Appalachian Mountain town. She reminded me much of Cinderella--her family life was terrible, her father very cruel, but she loved God in spite of her surroundings, and she sought to do the right thing no matter the cost.  Hers was a character I could admire: she was the perfect example of meekness.  And no, meekness doesn't mean "weakness."  It means "power under control."  Lonnie exemplified that to a t. 

Forced to marry a man who was nothing less than a womanizer and a selfish jerk (Gideon's super cute but that's about all he's got going for him), Lonnie is forced on a journey by foot far away from her home.  Gideon won't even give her a bite of breakfast at one point.  I wanted to reach through the pages and... well... But God was with this imaginary character through every page, overshining Lonnie and her husband's seemingly-hopeless circumstances.  The way all ends were tied up was perfect.  I highly recommend this book if you're looking for a heart-warming read!

Thanks to the wonderful people at Waterbrook Press for providing me with this book to review!

Thursday, August 9

Promise Me This: Titanic History, WWI, and a Voyage to America... Simply Amazing!

Promise Me This is such an incredible story!  The reader is swept away from the first page.  Michael and Annie, the two main characters of the story, begin the book's pages in their early teenage years.  Neither of them are much to admire. However, God sees things in people that we don't always see...

Let me first say that I rarely find current authors I can truly admire because, well, because most of them don't write much better than I do. "Well then, why don't you write a book?" you ask.  Trust me, I'm workin' on it. ; ) The only person I can begin to compare Cahty Gohlke to is Francine Rivers.  The way these women write is a cut above most other modern authors.  They capture you, you're in another time, you're a starving child with a terrifying uncle, you watch as the Titanic is built and then filled, and suddenly you're a stowaway on board "the ship not even God Himself could sink."  And then you're seeing the Titanic go down and feeling the panic of the people around you, you're hearing the last songs the musicians played as the ship sunk, you're feeling the weight of the tragedy as people jump to their deaths because there's no escape, and then you're rescued... a stowaway who didn't deserve the sacrifice one man made for you, not to mention the grace of God.  And later, you're in Germany on a grand tour when World War I suddenly breaks out.  You're English, stranded in a foreign country where the citizens hate you.  You're on a train taken over by Nazi's who force you to leave it and then you're marching on foot to France and then going on to England.   This story is gripping!  And woven through it all is "Sweet Jesus," the author of our lives who weaves everything perfectly together (even the tragic) to create a masterpiece.

Reading Promise Me This feels like reading "Gone With the Wind."  Just like that book, this is one that I'll want to read every few years.  I recommend it more than any other book I've read in the last two years.  Read it... promise me this!

Wednesday, August 8

Almost Amish: A balm of truth filled with heartwarming conviction

One woman's quest for a slower, simpler, more sustainable life...

I this book! I borrowed Almost Amish from a friend last week and, though fiction it may be, I couldn't put it down! The message of the book is both purely Christian and purely green. No, those two are not incompatible; quite the opposite! After all, we're living on God's beautiful, amazing creation. Shouldn't we cherish it? 

Almost Amish is a simple, realistic guide to becoming “almost Amish” in whatever areas of life you choose. Reading it brought some heartwarming conviction to my soul, and didn't leave me there (thank goodness!). The author gives numerous, doable examples of changing your life and the lives of those around you for the better. 

Almost Amish isn't pushy but is a helpful balm of truth that centers on these ideas:

Homes: Homes are simple, uncluttered, and clean; the outside reflects the inside.
Technology: Technology serves as a tool and does not rule as a master.
Finances: Saving more and spending less bring financial peace.
Nature: Time spent in God's creation reveals the face of God.
Simplicity: Small and local leads to saner lives.
Service: Service to others reduces loneliness and isolation.
Security: The only true security comes from God.
Community: Knowing neighbors and supporting local business build community.
Families: Family ties are lifelong; they change but never cease.
Faith: Faith life and way of life are inseperable.

The author, Nancy Sleeth, has a delightful, personable writing style. Besides all the tips that she's gleaned from her own lifestyle changes, she's also included some of her favorite recipes. I especially can't wait to try the Homemade Cinnamon Rolls recipe. This morning as I scrambled eggs and bacon, my hubby asked me, “Aren't you going to make those Amish cinnamon rolls, too?” Too bad we're out of yeast! ; )

I was inspired to read this book as part of Tyndale's Summer Reading Program which runs through August 31st.  There's still time for you to join up and earn a free book or 2!

Thursday, August 2

Joel Rosenberg's "Implosion": Can America Recover from its Economic and Spiritual Challenges in Time?

My hubby and I discovered Joel Rosenberg last year when someone recommended his book Epicenter: Why the Current Rumblings in the Middle East will Change Your Future.  Epicenter was an amazing read!  It made me want to read everything Joel Rosenberg has written!

Implosion is non-fiction but it is incredibly intriguing and definitely a page-turner.  If Joel Rosenberg's name sounds familiar, you may have seen him on Fox News or heard him on Talk Radio.  They often interview him with issues pertaining to Israel and the Middle East.  He's a political expert who's very gifted by our Creator with great understanding of world events, not to mention with the gift of writing. 

This book tackles the intriguing question:

Is America an empire in decline or a nation poised for a historic Renaissance?

Implosion helps readers understand the economic, social, and spiritual challenges facing the United States in the 21st century through the lens of biblical prophecy.  It's very up to date, having been released this summer. It's a very, very timely book.  You can read the first few chapters at Amazon here.

If you can't afford to invest in a new book, I urge you--check out Joel Rosenberg's blog at http://flashtrafficblog.wordpress.com!  There are so many articles there that will give you wisdom and make you think about important issues.  If you want to better understand what's going on in this crazy, uncertain world we live in, check it out!  Oh, and by the way, you can get this book for free by participating in Tyndale's Summer Reading Program through the end of August!

Wednesday, August 1

The Bride Wore Blue: Intriguing Historical Fiction

The Bride Wore Blue is a charming story set in the historical 1890's western boom town of Cripple Creek.  (You can read about the town's actual history in Cripple Creek Days.)  While this book is a fictional love story, it loosely features real life events and people like Pearl DeVere, "soiled dove of crippled creek", who plays an important roll in this story.  It also features Susan Anderson, one of the first woman doctors in the old west.

The main character, Vivian, is spunky though sometimes self-pitying, sweet though tough, and quite loveable in spite of her (what she believes to be) glaring flaw.  She's made a mistake and feels bound to let it affect the rest of her life, though God's plans are often different from our own.  In the end, she learns about grace through a handsome lawman and changes into a strong woman who can, indeed, be everything and more than anything she ever dreamed.  I liked the character and enjoyed the western setting of the book. Very charming on all fronts, a quick and easy read.  Something nice to read after "Anna Karenina" and before "A Tale of Two Cities", I'd say. 

Now, if you're the kind of person who'd like to step back in time to the 1890s era and visit the gold rush days outside of a book, you can still visit Cripple Creek.  I'd never heard of it before.  Contrary to what my hubby keeps telling me, historical fiction can be more than just a good story!  I highly suggest you read this book before taking any road trips!

Read the first chapter of the book here, if you feel so inclined, and have a lovely rest of the day!

Special thanks to the wonderful people at Waterbrook Press for providing me with this book for review.

Wednesday, July 18

"Revenge of the Red Knight" Awesome Kids Historical Fiction from Adventures in Odyssey

This 4th book in the Imagination Station series, Revenge of the Red Knight, takes place during medieval England. Two kids, Beth and Patrick, end up on an adventure where they meet a good knight, a bad knight, and Lord Darkthorn, whose treasures have been stolen.  This book is written at a 2nd grade reading level, but even I was captured with the story!  Definitely a page turner with a surprise ending. 

My children and I have read all of the Imagination Station books in order up to Revenge of the Red Knight.  You could read them alone, but the story is a continuing one and I highly recommend starting with the 1st in the series, Voyage With the Vikings

As a homeschooling mom, I use these as part of my history curriculum.  Yes, historical fiction may be a bit unorthodox, but it grabs my children's interest, real-life characters are featured in these books, and the authors stick as close to possible to real life events as can be expected with 2nd graders historical fiction.  This is my favorite series for this age level and I couldn't recommend it more highly!

You can get any of these books at Amazon.com for $4.99 new or do what we did and...

Get Imagination Station books for free by participating in Tyndale's Summer Reading Program!

Tuesday, July 17

Bringing Up Girls by Dr. James Dobson: A Must-read for any Parent of Girls!

Years ago, Dr. James Dobson wrote Bringing Up Boys, a book from Focus on the Family that I highly recommend for any mom or dad with a son.  I've been the mama to 3 beautiful little girls for the last 7 years.  All that time, Bringing Up Boys sat on our bookshelf and I often wished there were a version focusing on girls. When I found out there was one (it was just released earlier this year) I was totally excited! And when I found out I'd have the opportunity to review it for Tyndale House, I was even moreso!

Practical advice and encouragement for those shaping the next generation of women.

Dr. James Dobson is a very well-reknown, experienced psychologist with a Christian worldview.  That being said, even those who aren't Christians have benefited from his wisdom.  He's definitely been blessed with great insight into a great many things, especially family life.

If you've read Bringing Up Boys (and if you haven't and have a son, you should!) then this book is just what you'd expect.  It focuses on every important issue a parent of a young woman will come across.  It's written by a very conservative man who obviously loves God and believes that it's our purpose as parents to shape our daughters into women who will love Him and will stand with Him in a world that's quickly changing.

"Girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice, but boys are made out of snakes and snails and puppy dog tails."  A joke, of course, but everyone knew there was some truth to it.

The following are just a few of the subjects Bringing Up Girls dives into:

  • Teaching girls to be ladies.
  • The obsession with beauty.
  • Girls and their mothers.
  • Why daddies matter.
  • The river of culture.
  • Proteching your daughter from invasive technology.
  • And lots more.... but you can check it out by reading an excerpt here!
Special thanks to the wonderful people at Tyndale for providing me with this book to review!

Monday, July 9

Through Rushing Water: An Amazing Story!

I loved this book!

Through Rushing Water is based very loosely on the story of the Ponca Indian Reservation of Dakota Territory, which was forced to relocate in the middle of the winter.  It's the story of Sophia Makinoff, a college education major, who has great political aspirations which include marrying a politician.  She is jilted when he married her roomate and, in an attempt to run away from her problems, she volunteers as a missionary who will journey to Dakota Territory to teach the Ponca children there.

Sophia begins as a lukewarm Christian but ends with great faith.  She makes wonderful friends, her life changes dramatically, and the story takes many interesting twists and turns.  I had a very hard time putting this book down!  The fact that it was based on real life events made me want to learn more about the Russian French woman Sophia's character was drawn from, as well as more about the Ponka Indians.

I couldn't recommend this book more highly!  It's a wonderful read.  Read the first chapter here and I'm certain you'll agree.

Special thanks to the people at Booksneeze for providing me with this book to review.

The Scent of Cherry Blossoms... Sweet Amish Fiction

The Scent of Cherry Blossoms is sweet Amish fiction that makes nice, light reading.  This is the first book I've read by Cindy Woodsmall; the characters and their stories quite captivated me.  I read it quickly.  If you're interested in the Amish people, of the way they live, believe, and in the differences between Amish and Mennonites (it's all very interesting, I think!) then you'll like this story.  

Annie Martin is Old Order Mennonite and is falling in love with her childhood friend, Aden Zook.  Their love is forbidden because he is not Mennonite, but Amish.  Besides dealing with their confusing feelings, Annie also has turmoil with her mother and siblings.  Since their Dad left them years ago, Annie has grown closer to God while the rest of her family has grown farther from him.

A Romance from the Heart of Amish Country

The Scent of Cherry Blossoms is written by an author I've read and reviewed before.   My introduction to Miss Cindy Woodsmall came with the book When the Soul Mends, which was a wonderful story that deal with hard, real things.  This author deals with problems Amish and Mennonites face that we aren't familiar with, but that we can read of to better understand God's grace... and the kind of life that is very different from our own. 

Can Annie and Aden find a place for their love to bloom in the midst of a brewing storm?

 If you like light, inspirational reading, I wholeheartedly recommend The Scent of Cherry Blossoms.

Special thanks to the wonderful people at Waterbrook Multnomah for providing me with this book!

Wednesday, June 13

Glamorous Illusions... & the Intriguing Grand Tour

There isn't much more I can say after such an intriguing book trailer as that! Let me just say that Lisa Bergren's "Glamorous Illusions" totally swept me away. I loved it! The book isn't as predictable as most--there were many twists and turns I definitely didn't expect. The "Grand Tour of Europe" backdrop is also interesting; it's something I've heard bits and pieces about but I've never really researched it or read an entire series devoted to it.

The main character, Cora, is very likeable, flaws and all. She's a beauty who is swept from simple farmlife into grand European style.  She's trying to find herself in the midst of a quickly changing future, and she's finding God at the same time.  The faith in this book doesn't come across as fluffy or fake; it's real and genuine.

I am so captivated by Cora's story!  My only regret is that I have to wait months for the next book in the series! Thank goodness time flies. I can't wait to see what new and exciting twists and turns of adventure Miss Bergren has up her sleeve for the next two books in The Grand Tour Series.

Special thanks to the wonderful people at Litfuse and DavidCCook for providing me with this book to review.

Wednesday, June 6

"Peril in the Palace" from Adventures in Odyssey is AWESOME Kids History!

"Peril in the Palace" grabbed our interest from the first and it's full of great cliff-hangers!

This book takes place in 13th century China and is actually the 3rd book in the Imagination Station series from Focus on the Family. This book is about real-life explorer Marco Polo and Chinese emperor Kublai Khan.  The cover itself  gives an accurate description of the book: 2 kids, Beth and Patrick, end up going back to around AD1200 and getting mixed up in a perilous  adventure. "Peril in the Palace" delves into the Mongol history of China, the golden tablet of Kublai Khan and so much more... but you'll have to read it to find out the "more"!

You can get any of these books at Amazon.com for $4.99.  And if you're a mom, you can sign up for Amazon Mom for free and you'll get a complimentary, totally free subscription of Amazon Prime (that's free 2-day shipping on every order no matter how small)!   

You can also get Imagination Station books for free by participating in Tyndale's Summer Reading Program!

Saturday, June 2

Unplanned: An Amazing, True-life Story of God's Grace & Faithfulness

Unplanned, written by former Planned Parenthood leader Abby Johnson, is an absolutely amazing true story! You might have heard bits and pieces about Abby on the news in the past, but her story is so much deeper than any news snippet.

In Abby's words:

"What I have told people for years is a lie. What if I'd known... and what if I'd told all those women?"  As a Planned Parenthood leader, Abby Johnson thought she was helping women in crisis.  She was about to learn the truth.  And facing the secrets of her past would be the toughest truth of all.

Unplanned is a pro-life story that will touch your heart!  The realities this book talks about are tough truths, but if Abby faced them, so can we.  It's very eye-opening and touching.  In the movie, those "tough truths" are surrounded by God's obvious intervention in Abby's life, truly amazing graced, and heart-rending stories of change. I believe every American, especially every American woman, should see!  Unplanned is also a DVD.  I've watched it and shared it with numerous people.  If you don't have time to read the book, I definitely recommend the movie.  It's very, very powerful.

Friday, May 11

Beyond Hope's Valley: Last in an Inspiring Amish Trilogy

Beyond Hope's Valley is an honest and thought-provoking look at Amish life which takes place in Indiana, not far from my own hometown.  The simplicity of the Amish has always captivated me and I've read enough books about them to understand how they differ from Protestant Christians.  This book is the final in the Big Sky trilogy by Tricia Goyer.  It was my favorite of the 3 books and it isn't necessary to read the first 2 to enjoy this one thoroughly (I did read the 2nd book, but not the 1st one).

In Beyond Hope's Valley, Marianna has recently come to saving faith--she now knows Jesus as her Father, her Savior, and her confidant.  She has just returned from Montana, where she had lived for the last year, and hopes to be able to share her new found faith with her old friends.  At the same time, she is living out a love story as she tries to decide between 2 men, one of which has helped her to realize what a close relationship with God can be like.  I have to admit, both of Marianna's guys were very likeable but there was one I liked more than the other... and I was happy when she chose him. 

You can read the beginning of Beyond Hope's Valley at Amazon.  Please do--I think you'll be captivated with the story and the characters.  The book has a wonderful message, is written beautifully, and I highly recommend it!

Celebrate with Tricia and enter to win a custom-made Amish Wall hanging in the colors of your choice ... and much more! 

Enter Today - 5/2-5/20!

One fortunate winner will receive:
  • Custom Amish Wall Hanging {You choose the colors!}
  • An Amish Doll {Sweet.}
  • Amish-made basket {It’s picnic season!}
  • Doilies, potholder and an Amish cookbook {All items form Bird-in-Hand, PA!}
  • Three book Big Sky Amish series {Be swept away by this captivating series.}
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on May 20th. Winner will be announced at "All Things Amish" Author Chat Facebook Party on 5/21. Tricia will be hosting an author chat (on Facebook and Live from her website) and giving away books, gift certificates and more!
Also, check out these lovely videos about Marianna's continuing story:

This book was provided for me by the awesome people at Litfuse in exchange for a thoughtful and honest review.

Thursday, May 3

The Founders Key: Every American Should Read!

Maybe you've read the title and you're wondering "What is the founders key?" From the book:

The genius of the United States of America may be found in the cooperation of all the causes that bring government into being.  There is a set of principles that locate man in his place in nature, above the beasts and below God. There is a people, living upon a vast land, responding to the call of those principles to form the first self-governing nation in history.  There were some statesmen, aware how unusual were their capacities, determined to use them for the rights of all.  They wrote a Constitution that the people adopted to become the most enduring and successful in history.  Because all these causes must cooperate to produce freedom and justice that we have enjoyed for so long, all of them must be preserved or all of them will be lost. 

Because the principles that our country serves , and the institution by which is serves them, have a beauty hardly matched in all history, they sound a call that all can answer.  In their attraction and in our response is the hope for a free people.  That is the Founders' key.

The Founders Key, the book, is a short, important read on "the divine and natural connection between the Declaration and the Constitution and what we risk by losing it."  The book itself is only 123 pages and goes into depth about:
  • Man's proper place in nature, above beasts and below God
  • Explains (better than I've ever read it explained before!) what "all men are created equal" really means.
  • Provides a definition of "rights" and their origin.
  • Recognizes that the Declaration and Constitution are born of the same principle, and why we need them both together.
  • Reveals the origins of the Progressive intellectual movement and how it actually threatens our liberty
Part II of the book includes foundational documents every American should read: The Constitution, The Declaration, and a selection of The Federalist Papers.  Definite must read!

Special thanks to the wonderful people at Thomas Nelson for providing me with this book to review!

Monday, April 30

Where Lilacs Still Bloom

Jane Kirkpatrick's Where Lilacs Still Bloom is based on the true story of German immigrant, Hulda Klager, who made new varieties of apples and lilacs using plant hybridization in the late 1800s, early 1900s.  I read another of Miss Kirkpatrick's based-on-a-true-story books, The Daughter's Walk, and thoroughly enjoyed it so thought this one might also capture my interest.

If you've read many of my book reviews or know me, you'll know I like a wide variety of books.  I love both fiction and non-fiction, science fiction, classic literature, children's stories, modern fiction like The Hunger Games, and pretty much any genre you can narrow a book down to.  However, I regret to say I didn't like this book.  I tried to like it (I must admit, even though I don't have to give a good review for any book I receive for free, I'm grateful to the company's who give them to me and appreciate them--I try to like their books but if I don't, I can't lie). 

I waded through 91 pages of boring.  There is no other word for it.  The only good thing that came from discovering this book is that I'd love to visit Hulda Klager's home and garden in Woodland, Washington.  It's worth googling it, and worth visiting if you live near the area. Perhaps if you love gardening or find a great interest in plant hybridization, you'd like this book.  Read a bit on Amazon.com here if you feel so inclined. 

Thanks to the super cool people at Waterbrook Press for providing me with this book to review.

Wednesday, April 11

God Gave Us You: Now a Board Book!

I love all of Lisa Tawn Bergren's picture books and now you can get 2 of them as board books: God Gave Us You and God Gave Us Love.  These books are so sweet and special, the perfect gift for your baby or for a baby shower.  I'm giving them to a friend who is having her first baby this summer.  I know she's going to love them!

God Gave Us You is very well-written.  Because of the sweet, eternal message it has, reading it to your baby or toddler will be sure to bond you even closer together.  The illustrations are beautiful.  The story itself is something special along the lines of Margaret Wise Brown's The Runaway Bunny (which is a classic in children's literature you should definitely read if you haven't already!)  I have to admit, I like this story even better than the famous Miss Brown's because of the inspirational message within its pages. Remember, this specific copy of the book is meant for babies and toddlers--it is in a board book format.

I highly recommend this book and am so glad I had the opportunity to review it!  I also recommend the others I've read in the series: God Gave Us Love and God Gave Us Two. You can read my reviews of them by clicking their titles.  Or you can read excerpts from each of them at Amazon. : )

The wonderful people at Waterbrook Multnomah provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for the purposes of this review.  All views presented are my own.

Thursday, March 1

God Gave Us Love

I love all of Lisa Tawn Bergren's picture books!  We began with God Gave Us You continued on with God Gave Us Two, and have just finished reading the new boardbook God Gave Us Love for the first time.

My children love to read and, even though they can read themselves now, having me read a picture book to them is special.  Some of my fondest memories were when my brother and I would spend the night at my Grandma's house.  From elementary through high school, she'd read picture books to us at bedtime. That's not something you ever outgrow!

God Gave Us Love is very well-written.  Because of the sweet, eternal message it has, reading it to your children will be sure to bond you even closer together.  The illustrations are beautiful.  The story itself is something special along the lines of Margaret Wise Brown's The Runaway Bunny (which is a classic in children's literature you should definitely read if you haven't already!)  I have to admit, I like this story even better than the famous Miss Brown's because of the inspirational message within its pages. This one is meant for babies and toddlers--it is in a board book format.

I highly recommend this book and am so glad I had the opportunity to review it!  I also recommend the others I've read in the series: God Gave Us You and God Gave Us Two. You can read my reviews of them by clicking their titles.  Or you can read excerpts from each of them at Amazon. : )

The wonderful people at Waterbrook Multnomah provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for the purposes of this review.  All views presented are my own.

Sweeter Than Birdsong

Music offers Kate sweet refuge from her troubles . . . but real freedom is sweeter.
I love the book Sweeter than Birdsong not simply because it's an inspirational romantic story, but because it is based on the lives of real people: Kate Winter, who was the first American woman to receive a college diploma (from Otterbein College in Ohio, to be precise) and Ben Hamby, who was a songwriter and abolitionist before the Civil War.

A stirring novel of hope and faith inspired by real events.

The author, Rosslyn Elliott, wrote a captivating story which kept me hooked.  I loved and admired her characters.  The heroine, Kate, changes very much throughout the story; she overcomes both severe shyness (which I've struggled with in my own life and could relate to) and she realizes she can do so much more to bring people to freedom than she ever realized.  When life opens Kate's eyes to a great need, she doesn't turn away from it like so many people sadly do--she faces it head-on.  The decisions and the sacrifices she makes to bring slaves to the freedom she knows is touching and powerful.

Kate can no longer deny the need to find her courage-and her voice-if she is to sing a new song for their future.

This book made me want to delve further into the true stories of Kate Winter and Ben Hamby, and it gave me a better understanding of the  Underground Railroad.  Sweeter than Birdsong was a fast, easy read, but it was by no means purely entertainment.  It is something very much worth reading and I highly recommend it!

Special thanks to the wonderful people at Litfuse for providing me with this book to review!

Wednesday, February 22

Mary Jane, Her Book: Classic Children's Literature

Mary Jane - Her Book is the first book in the Mary Jane series which was written in the early 1900s by Clara Ingram Judson, a popular American childrens author of the time.  It recounts the happy, wholesome adventures of five-year-old Mary Jane and her family as she helps her mother around the house, goes on a picnic with the big girls, plants a garden with her father, learns to sew and more!

Salem Ridge Press also publishes the next book in the series Mary Jane - Her Visit.  You can read the first chapter of each here and here

 The Mary Jane books are recommended for children from ages 6 - 10 and are perfect books for children just beginning to read chapter books.  Children of even younger ages also love hearing them read aloud.  

The Mary Jane books are just 2 of many wonderful classic books which have been reprinted by Salem Ridge Press.  They do their best to find and publish wholesome books for younger readers as well as older readers which I why I think they're an asset to any homeschooling parent!  
Salem Ridge Press provided us with this book in exchange for a thoughtful and honest review.

Sunday, February 19

Everything Romance: A Celebration of Love for Couples

I've been married to my husband for almost 11 years now.  We have a great marriage and are best friends, but I'm always looking for new ideas to inspire me in our romance.  You can get a bit complacent the longer you're married so we like to find things to break the monotony and bring us a little bit of excitement once in awhile in the midst of everyday everythings!

Everything Romance is a small, coffee-table style book. It'd be a great wedding or engagement gift for someone actually, or a great anniversary gift. It's got all kinds of quick to read tidbits that are along the lines of a devotional.  It includes:

  • Creative Tips for romancing the love of your life
  • Gift Ideas for anniversaries and special occassions
  • Inspiration for memorable romantic dates
  • Love Letters to warm your heart 
  • Special Recipes for special times
  • and Quotes (which were probably my favorite part of the book) 
Some of my favorite quotes from Everything Romance are these ones (and they show you the wide variety of the style of this book!)

Brevity is the soul of lingerie.  -Dorothy Parker

Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute and it seems like an hour; sit with a pretty woman for an hour and it seems like a minute.  That's relativity.  -Albert Einstein

Love is friendship set to music.  -Joseph Campbell

If you absolutely must have the last word in all marital spats, how about making it, "Sorry."  -Rev. Robert St. John

We are most alive when we're in love.  -John Updike

This book lives up to its subtitle: A Celebration of Love for Couples.  I definitely recommend it for anyone who's married, will be soon, or hopes to be someday!  Of course, you can read an excerpt here and see for yourself.

A special thanks to the wonderful people at Blogging for Books for providing me with this book for review!