Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Sound Among the Trees by Susan Meissner

Well, I'll start this review with my rating. . .I'd give it 3 stars out of 5. Average. Not especially interesting, not objectionable. The kind of book that if you are somewhere and have nothing to read, feel free to give it a try! Maybe you'll enjoy it.

The book introduces several characters, primarily Marielle (the new bride of widowed Carson), Adelaide (Carson's first mother-in-law), Carson (the husband), Sara (the deacesed wife), Susannah (Adelaide's deceased great-grandmother) and others. Marielle and Carson begin their newly-married life living with Carson's children and Adelaide in the old family home. This house is said to be haunted, or at least bad luck. Throughout much of the book Marielle is trying to find out the truth of the house and its family's past. She is searching for letters which will give the truth of Susannah's past and her possibly ghostly presence in the house. As a prodigal daughter returns to Adelaide, new information is revealed in the form of letters written by Susannah herself.

About 1/3 of the book is these letters, telling in Susannah's words her story of the Civil War, her love, marriage, and family situation. Upon reading these letters, some form of closure is arrived upon by Adelaide, Marielle, Carson, and others.

Overall, I thought it was a pretty "blah" book. It is not objectionable. . .it is not a ghost story. . .it is not religious. . .it is not a great love story. . .it did not make me cry :) . . .

I'd call it an average book, and I'll leave it at that.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Money-saving tips! Everyone has a favorite!

I know everyone has their favorite money-saving tips, some are very obvious, some are more elusive. How about sharing your favorite frugal tips with us?

As for me. . .one of my favorite money-saving ideas (and yes, it's pretty obvious, but VERY EFFECTIVE!!). . .

Don't go shopping! Stay out of the stores! I like to "window shop" or go shopping for fun or entertainment, but if I'm not in stores, I'm not buying. When you are in the stores, you tend to make a purchase or two. Maybe little ones, but they add up! Maybe you spot something you just can't live without (you know what I mean!!!) However it happens, I'd bet you buy something in most stores you enter!

Going to the store for one or two little things can turn into 4 or 5 items, most of which you'd have lived without if you hadn't been there at the store!

So--stay out of the stores! :) Make a list, stick with it, buy all your items in one trip to the store--and save your money!

Now--let's hear your greatest idea!

Feel free to share your favorite tip in the comment section here!

4 Days to a Forever Marriage by Gary and Norma Smalley

Gary Smalley is a name I was familiar with, so I could almost guess what this book would be like before receiving a copy! If you're familiar with him and his teachings, you'll find this a good book, without surprises. (Well, I was surprised to see his picture on the back--he is a lot older!! -- but aren't we all, I suppose!) As I read the book, I was reminded of his video series "Hidden Keys to Loving Relationships" which, incidentally, I loved!

This book is a nice short-ish sized book which is meant to be gone through by a husband and a wife who are interested in growing their relationship in a godly manner. The 4 Days are four topics, each addressed from the viewpoint of the husband and the wife. There are little stories and illustrations from the Smalleys' life which enhance the material. The writing is very easy to read, interesting, small segments. I believe that most of what he says in this book is what he also teaches in the "Hidden Keys. . ." videos. There are emphases on what a husband can do to honor his wife, and a wife her husband. Little and big things to do to increase intimacy and trust in your relationship. Ways to communicate with love rather than anger. These and other good topics and ideas are included in this short book.

This is a great book for a couple to address topics in their marriage together, to grow their marriage. As with any relationship book, there will be parts which don't jive with every individual (some of the characteristics of "women" in general don't fit ALL women, and ditto with men. -- one example of that in our life is talking--my husband way exceeds me with talking!) but I understand these are general principles. Note that this book is for both to work on together. It is not a book that adresses the one member of a relationship who wishes to enhance the relationship while the other remains uninterested or ambivalent to improving it.

This is a finely written book and would make a great wedding gift or a good tool for a couple who would like to make a good relationship even better.

I received a free copy of this book from the publishing group in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Scent of Cherry Blossoms by Cindy Woodsmall

If you're looking for a sweet, quick, clean love story, this book is for you! The Scent of Cherry Blossoms is an Amish/Mennonite focused story, a "Romeo and Juliet" type story (without the harrowing ending!!) about a conservative Amish man falling in love with a conservative Mennonite woman, despite family and community rules strongly against such a relationship. An interesting sub-plot involves the leading man's brother (who is confined to a wheelchair) and his search for faith in God, himself, and the possiblity of moving on with his own life and finding love.

The story is nicely told, with enough detail to make you feel a part of the story, but not enough to bog you down with too much. The characters were loveable, made you feel like they were real and the kind of people you'd like to know (or be!) I'm not one to give away details in a book review, so I won't tell you any more of the sub-plots, but the story is filled with more than just a love story. It's sweet and gentle, a great just for fun read. Make sure you have time to read, because you won't want to put this one down!

Thanks, Cindy Woodsmall, for another great sweet, clean, (and a bit tear-jerking) love story set in the Amish/Mennonite setting. I would certainly recommend this book.

I received a copy of this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Delicious cinnamon swirl bread!

Yummmmmmmmmm!!!!!!!!!!! Tried a new recipe for a cinnamon swirl bread today--it was nice and easy and turned out so delicious!! Oh, and it's whole wheat (1/2)! I doubled the recipe and it was wonderful. Thanks to Jenna at Eat, Live, Run blog (I don't know her, just stumbled on her recipe!) for this wonderful addition to dinner/breakfast/maybe even lunch! :) Her recipe is on her blog here.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Another great Children's Bible: The Grow! Bible ESV

Now, here's a great Bible for kids! Some Bibles which are made for kids are not real Bibles, but collections of Bible stories. It annoys me when those are labelled Bibles. BUT--this one!! This one is a wonderful Bible for kids!!

The Grow! Bible is an ESV translation of the Bible with added bits for kids. There are little blurbs at the beginning of each book which give information about the book--author, dates, people, places, themes of the book, etc. Also scattered throughout each book are little explanatory paragraphs (set apart by color/box so they don't get mis-identified as Scripture) which give helpful information and explanations about things such as, "What methods were used to feed the poor?", "Who was Nathan?", "What is a parable?" and many many many more!

There are lots of maps (my kids love maps!), timelines (interesting!), articles on different topics, and a great glossary for explanations of some words in the Bible.

It's a large book, but has a nice hard cover. It has a dust jacket, which I think is unnecessary. What child who actually uses this Bible will keep a dust jacket nice?! :) I think I'll discard it before I give the Bible to my son. The print is a nice size for easy reading; there are colors used throughout the pages (the extra sections as well as blue highlighting of summaries, green chapter numbers, orange book titles. It's an eye-pleasing layout, but not overly bright or distracting. I really like this Bible setup. It is just perfect for my 9 year old son. There are pictures in different places, not baby-ish, but not photos either. Just nice understated illustrations.

I'm sure you can already tell that I really like this Grow!Bible. I would certainly recommend it! It'd make a nice gift as well.

I received a free copy of this book from the publishers for the purposes of their blogger review program. I was not required to write a positive review.