September 28, 2014

"Game Changer" by Kirk Cousins

Washington Redskins' Quarterback, Kirk Cousins, is a class act.  Prior to reading this book, I admit I didn't know very much about him.  After all, I come from a long line of Green Bay Packers fans. :)  But after reading this, I think I may have just become an instant Washington Redskins fan. 
Cousins comes from an extraordinarily supportive and wonderful Christian family. He was raised to make good decisions in life, and it turns out that making good decisions is one of the most important parts of being a successful quarterback  In "Game Changer", Cousins takes the reader through his football backstory.  We get a very real and transparent description of how God lead him through the ups and downs of his journey toward a successful career in the NFL. And in the process of telling his own story, he guides the reader toward how to be a success using God's standards and guidelines for our everyday living. 
I found this book to be a very interesting and encouraging read. About half of the book is really directed toward young students, but the principles he teaches in the book can be applied to us not-so-young people very easily as well.  I would recommend this book to families- especially those with teenage boys.  Reading it together could lead to some very good discussions about good life decision making, including where we as Christians should place our trust, and how to not let ourselves get off track.   

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Booklook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review. 

September 26, 2014

Reviewing "940 Saturdays"

"940 Saturdays" is a cute, hard cover journal by Harley A. Rotbart, MD, which includes a small booklet filled with ideas for activities to do with your children.  The idea behind this large journal is that there are 940 Saturdays between the day your child is born and the day they leave for college. There is a space for each one of those Saturdays in the book, where you are supposed to write the date and then write what you did that day.  In the back of the book there is a pocket which holds the small booklet of ideas.  Each idea is grouped into an age range, so that within a category of ideas there are age appropriate activities to complete with the child.
I think the idea of chronicling every Saturday you get to spend with your child is a great and lofty goal.   For some moms and dads this would be a wonderful gift to get at a baby shower and they would completely eat it up. I'm sorry to say that I'm probably not one of those people, because I am more likely to write about something we did when I feel compelled to write, and not when I'm forced to write. Being "forced" to write every single Saturday's activities down is a slight turnoff for me because I would feel guilty looking at all the blank Saturdays I didn't remember to fill out.  I'm also wondering how it would work with multiple children. Buying one of these large (2 inch thick) journals for each child and then filling them each out separately and finding a place to store said journals doesn't seem realistic.  I would probably rather blog about our special activities with photos and with the whole family included. That said, it is a sweet idea and I would recommend this book to anyone who really enjoys keeping daily journals, because you would probably be more likely to keep up with it.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. 

Reviewing "Miracle in a Dry Season"

"Miracle in a Dry Season", by Sarah Loudin Thomas, is a wonderful book about the practice and art of forgiveness.  Forgiveness gives us freedom, spreads love, and releases us from the bondage of our past. Thomas does a beautiful job of illustrating the effects of forgiveness, both in the forgiveness of others and ourselves, in this, her first book.
When Perla Long arrives in the town of Wise, West Virginia, she is looking to escape a life of scorn and live a quiet life with her sweet daughter Sadie. However, as soon as she arrives she realizes that turmoil has followed her and that this sleepy town is capable of causing a large amount of hurt.  But in spite of the hurt and the stares, Perla continues to use her gifts to bless others, causing a ripple effect through the hearts of the people of Wise.
The lessons of forgiveness in this book are deep and far reaching.  The profound effect of the simple words "I forgive you" is exhibited through many different story lines in the book, and the act of being able to forgive oneself is shown to be one of the hardest things to do. God shows us incredible grace by forgiving us over and over for our shortcomings, and if we can learn to free ourselves from the guilt of the past, we can move on to bless others in even bigger ways.  I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys great Christian fiction. I will definitely be on the lookout for Thomas' next works. She has a wonderful gift.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Bethany House for free in exchange for an honest review. 

September 22, 2014

A Creative Outlet For Busy Moms and Dads

I have recently rediscovered the amazing and fun, artsy and creative hobby of coloring.  But instead of using crayons I'm using a ginormous box of colored pencils that my sweet husband bought for me and a bunch of really fun gel pens. And instead of coloring in Strawberry Shortcake or Care Bears books, I've found a wide array of beautiful artist coloring books on the market right now. My favorite has to be "Secret Garden" by Johanna Basford. If you find any enjoyment in coloring whatsoever you must pick this book up ASAP.
Having a cute little six-month-old at home, my creative outlet needed to be something that was easy to clean up quickly and easy to set up quickly. (For those times when he's napping and I have a little time to myself for some creative fun.) It turns out coloring is absolutely a perfect fit because not only is it easy to set up and clean up, it's also portable and can be done on the floor in the living room, on the kitchen table, or even sitting in our recliner. If the baby happens to be napping in the swing, I can pull out my book and my pencils and sit right down next to him on the floor as he sleeps.  I would highly recommend the exercise of coloring to anybody who has short bursts of free time and is craving an artsy fix. 

Reviewing "Love's Fortune"

     "Love's Fortune" by Laura Frantz is an angst-filled story of love and loss that takes place in mid- 1800's Kentucky and Pennsylvania.  The main character, Wren, spent most of her growing up years sheltered by her father in Kentucky. But her life changes in dramatic ways when her father gets a letter asking him to return to his roots in Pennsylvania.  Suddenly Wren finds herself in the midst of High Society where not only does she meet her entire extended family, but she finds out that many expectations have been immediately placed upon her and her future.
      Even though this book takes place in a slightly earlier time period, I felt like the story lines and lavish gowns could be taken right out of a "Downton Abbey" episode.   Being a huge "Downton Abbey" fan, I also really enjoyed this book and setting that the book takes place in.  I loved reading the descriptions of all the elaborate affairs, beautiful clothing and extravagant homes.  Though I'm thankful not to have lived in that time period, it's fun to visit it through a novel such as this one.
     I do have a confession to make, though. I turned to the last page of the book when I was about halfway through because I couldn't stand the suspense. Even knowing how it ended, my anxiety level was quite high throughout the book. The amount of drama, intrigue and hardship kept me wanting to know what happened next, and thus kept me up late at night. :)  I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Christian historical fiction with romance as a main theme.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Revell in exchange for an honest review. 

September 17, 2014

Reviewing "Cowgirl Trail"

        "Cowgirl Trail", by Susan Page Davis, is the fifth book in the Texas Trails series. I have read the whole series leading up to this one and have enjoyed them all. That said, there was something special about this book in particular that really captivated me.  It was different from the rest in that the main character was a very strong girl/woman named Maggie who was the only child of the founders of Rocking P Ranch.  In an effort to save her family's ranch, she was forced to lead a cattle drive through some rough and dangerous terrain, with a wonderful all-female group of drovers.
        I thoroughly enjoyed this book and believe it would actually make a great movie.  The concept was unlike any historical western fiction I had ever read, and because of that fact it drew me in even more.  The group of women who banded together to get this job done was full of many different character types, each with their own gifts.  It was neat to read about how they took care of the job and took care of each other under such tough circumstances.
        I would recommend this took to anybody who enjoys Christian historical fiction, especially western themed fiction.  The storyline is very empowering to women and is extremely unique.  I would enjoy a whole series based on the Maggie character alone.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review. 

September 13, 2014

Reviewing "A Grand Design" by Amber Stockton

"A Grand Design" by Amber Stockton is a very sweet book that would be perfect for a summer or vacation getaway read. I actually finished the book in one evening and I felt like I had just spent the night watching a romantic comedy, with a hint of drama.

When I was in Junior High I was addicted to the "Babysitter's Club" books and the "Nancy Drew" series.  My parents would get me a stack of those books for Christmas and I would finish them all in a week. I felt the same way about "A Grand Design", in that it was so entertaining, fun and captivating, I wasn't able to go to bed without finding out what happened.  If I had a pile of books written by Amber Stockton, I would probably find myself sleep deprived in a matter of days.

The main character, Alyssa Denham, and her best friend Libby, embark on a summer trip to a fancy hotel on an island on which Alyssa's sweet grandmother happens to live. They find adventure and some romance as soon as they arrive, and the trip gets more and more interesting as it progresses. Alyssa's grandmother assigns her to retrieve some quilt blocks her friends have made over the years, and in the midst of this challenge,  Alyssa revisits her history on the island.  I don't want to give away too much because it would take away the fun, but I will say that this trip is one that Alyssa will never forget.

Being that I read this book in one evening it won't be a surprise when I say that I enjoyed it.  The quilting theme of the book really takes a back seat to all of the relationships that develop  but the theme is there nonetheless. I would recommend this book to anybody looking for a fun summer romance type read which will transport you to an island paradise, even just for one night.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Litfuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

September 12, 2014

Reviewing "The Case for a Creator: Student Edition"

"The Case for a Creator: Student Edition" by Lee Strobel and Jane Vogel, is a wonderful tool for students to use in their investigation into where the universe came from.  Having read the full edition years ago, I knew that the book would be full of fascinating and convincing scientific evidence for the Creator.  Lee Strobel has written a plethora of wonderful materials for adults and I think it's great that his books are being transformed into a form that is even more accessible for students.

The small/skinny book (only 95 pages) is the perfect size for a teen to be able to handle without getting overwhelmed with the feeling that they are reading a text book. There are 7 concise chapters exploring such topics as the Big Bang and DNA. Each chapter contains interesting illustrations, charts and side bars which are done in a style that is stylistically targeted toward the student.  While flipping through the book those neat features catch your attention and draw you into the chapters even more.

I was pleased to see how well this student edition was planned out and would definitely recommend it for families with kids who are in Junior High or older.  I would also recommend it for anybody who doesn't have the time to read the full edition and wants to get an overview of the most important themes and ideas, or as a gift to pass along to your friends who may have questions about God and where we came from.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

September 8, 2014

Reviewing "Home to Chicory Lane" by Deborah Raney

"Home to Chicory Lane" is a charming and eventful book about a family embarking on a new and exciting business venture, The Chicory Inn Bed and Breakfast. Although the plot centers around the Whitman family as a whole, it mainly focuses on daughter, Landyn, and her new husband, Chase.  The family has no idea about the turmoil the newlyweds are facing until Landyn shows up at the Whitmans' door with a U-haul on the day of the Inn's Grand Opening.
I really enjoyed this book and actually finished it in under 24 hours. The Whitman family comes across as a normal, large, Christian family dealing with all that life throws at them on a daily basis. The characters are charming and real, having all of their own faults and struggles they are dealing with.  Since this is the first book in the series, there also appear to be several plot lines being set up for future books.
Throughout the book, I found myself rooting for the main characters, drawn into their personal struggles, and hoping for the best. The suspense built all the way until the end, and it has left me wanting to read to the next book as soon I can get my hands on it.
I would recommend this book to anybody who enjoys modern day Christian fiction based on family life with some romance thrown in.
Also, please take a look at my previous post for information about entering a great contest!

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Litfuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

September 7, 2014

$200 B&B Weekend Getaway Giveaway & 9/9 Facebook Party with Deborah Raney!

The first book in Deborah Raney's new Chicory Inn series, Home to Chicory Lane, introduces us to Audrey Whitman, a mother who has launched all her children into life and now looks forward to fulfilling some of her own dreams during her empty-nest years. However, not all of her children are ready to stay out of the nest quite yet.

Deborah is celebrating the release of her new series with a $200 B&B Weekend Getaway and a Facebook author chat party.

  One winner will receive:
  • A B&B Weekend Getaway (via a $200 Visa cash card)
  • Home to Chicory Lane by Deborah Raney
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on September 9th. Winner will be announced at the Home to Chicory Lane Author Chat Party on 9/9. Deborah will be hosting a heartfelt book chat, giving away prizes, and answering questions from readers. She will also share an exclusive sneak peek at the next book in the Chicory Inn series!

So grab your copy of Home to Chicory Lane and join Deborah on the evening of September 9th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 9th!

Suspense and Romance- Reviewing "Truth Be Told"

"Truth Be Told", by Carol Cox, is a suspense filled Christian novel, with a side of romance, which takes place in the late 1900s Wild West.  When Amelia Wagner heads out on a trip to visit her father in Granite Springs, Arizona, a whole world of uncertainty awaits her.  Instead of balking at the challenges and succumbing to her fears, she pushes forward taking control of the local newspaper and vowing to uncover the truth behind what is happening to the town.
Never having read a book by Carol Cox, I had to idea what to expect and I was pleasantly surprised.  Some historical fiction I have read in the past had felt a bit bogged down with dates, places and facts. This book didn't feel that way at all. In fact, the suspense kept me turning the pages late into the night.  Even though the town that the book is based on is fictional, the business of what it was like to run a newspaper in the late 1800s seems very much based in fact.  The book is well researched and I found myself wanting to look even deeper into what the machinery would have looked like.
The characters are well developed and regularly draw strong emotions out of the reader.  Just when I thought  I could predict what would happen, another jaw dropping turn of events would occur, drawing me in even further.
I would recommend this book to anybody who enjoys Christian historical fiction, especially if you enjoy books based in the Old West.  If you haven't read any books in that genre before, this would be a great place to start. Except for the fact that it will leave you with high expectations for whatever you read next in the genre. :)

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. 

September 5, 2014

Reviewing "Let's Sew Together"

"Let's Sew Together" by Rubyellen Bratcher is an adorable book full of fun sewing projects that parents and kids can make together. Filled with a great assortment of projects, Bratcher's step by step instructions, colorful pictures and special attention to detail will enamor any sewing and crafting enthusiast. Each chapter is based on a particular part of a typical family's day. Getting dressed, eating, learning, playing and celebrating are all things we are all quite accustomed to. Bratcher took these familiar and routine aspects of daily life and provided the readers with a wonderful assortment of crafts, recipes and even theme specific books to read with your kids if they don't feel like participating in a particular sewing project.  Each chapter also has a no-sew project made from things that you can probably find around the house.
Each project lists a summary, skill level, materials, seam allowance and finished measurements along with tips to make the project extra special.   The directions are very clear and even include photos and drawings when needed.  I really love that the author included book lists with the projects.  It makes it very home school friendly if a parent is trying to plan a day around a certain theme.
I would definitely recommend this book to any family who enjoys making kid friendly projects together, or to any crafters out there who like to make fun gifts for kids.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.