Friday, November 30, 2012

Secret Keeper by Dannah Gresh

Have you ever heard Dannah Gresh speak? I had heard her on Moody's Midday Connection a few years ago and I remember being very interested in her great ideas for girls regarding modesty. Skip ahead a few years to now and I have an almost-teenage girl and am so much more interested in Mrs. Gresh's suggestions regarding modesty!

The book Secret Keeper (with the subtitle The Delicate Power of Modesty) is a short, cute-looking, unintimidating sized book. I say that because it's a book written for teen-ish girls and that'll probably feature into their decision of whether to read it or not. The segments are short and interesting to read.

In a world where modesty is definitely not the norm, there are so many influences fighting for our daughters' attention and conformation. Biblical standards are not illustrated too often when we walk through the mall, or often even not always at church! The author directly addresses several different aspects of modesty--clothing, fashion, attitudes, value/worth, etc. She gives brief to the point explanations of why certain things are or are not acceptable--and she also gives guidelines for "modesty" -- for instance if certain clothing is modest or not. She gives easy practical steps for evalutaing items -- with a fun touch.

I am very happy with this book. My daughter will certainly be reading this (probably with me) in the not too distant future. There is also a devotional book which goes along with this book (my review of that is here)

If you are a teenaged girl, have a teenaged daughter/granddaughter, or have influence with a teenage girl, you ought to read this book and give her one as well! I'm very happy with the content of this book and would definitely recommend it!

I received a free copy of this book from Moody Publishers in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Understanding World Religions in 15 Minutes a Day by Garry R. Morgan

This book is a great reference to hold a place on our bookshelf! How many times do you hear about someone or a people group who holds to a certain religion and you think to yourself, "Now, what do they believe? What sets them apart?" This little book will give you a quick concise overview of many of the world's religions, including some of the origins of some religions and their historical context. It really does seem quite comprehensive for how short it is. I'm not reviewing this book in terms of accuracy in describing the different religions, I'm not familiar enough with them for that, but as far as the readability and ease of use, this book is very good.

I did appreciate the reminder in the beginning matter which tells readers, "Followers of different faiths sometimes use the same words but intend very different meanings, which can lead to confusion." and, "We need to 1.find out what people actually believe and 2.not assume words mean the same thing in every context."

I would recommend this book. It's a great resource for homeschooling as well as daily life! Easy to read concise word pictures of many of the different religions in the world.

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Great zipper fix!!

My daughter's winter coat zipper would not "start" -- the end of the zipper was a little frayed and it wouldn't fit into the slot on the bottom of the connection side (a little hard to describe. . .)

So, I thought, if I could just widen that receiver end a little. . .but the zipper is plastic, and I didn't want to crack it--so here's what I did :)

I used a table knife to kind of wedge it open a little more and poured boiling water over the zipper end in a cake pan, and let it sit in the hot water till it cooled. Then I put ice water in to chill it up, and . . .VOILA!! :) It opened up enough to zip the coat easily!


Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden

Now here's a good book for you! This book, Against the Tide, by Elizabeth Camden, has a beautiful, striking cover (okay, I know it's superficial, but it is a nice cover!). . .and now that we've gotten that out of the way :) I'll say that this is a wonderful book. I enjoyed reading this book over the course of several days and I think it'll be enjoyed by a broad audience. I have not read anything else by E. Camden, but having read this one, I'll gladly move on to her other books!

Against the Tide begins with the tragic story of a little girl who started out life in an unconventional home before being orphaned in a new place where she did not even speak the language. This little girl, Lydia, grows up alone and gains an interesting job using her linguistic talents. As the book progresses, she is faced with many difficulties and challenges. She meets the male "hero" of the story, a man obsessed with ridding the country of opium, its trade, and its insidious usage. They join forces (first of all her intent is just to earn enough money to save her home, but then she begins to believe in the fight on its own virtue) and become involved in a dramatic adventure to stop the biggest force behind opium in their area.

I was drawn in by this story. It's an emotional story, sorrow over Lydia's ever-increasing difficulties, anxiety when they're sneaking around gaining information, terror regarding the kidnapping of a child (and later semi-kidnapping of Lydia),discouragement on many fronts including fighting an addiction, hope of plans succeeding or nearly so, adoration and love growing, etc. This was not just your typical "romance" -- where you can see the end coming before you're into the story too far -- I'd rather call it more a historical fiction, centering on the opium trade and usage in the late 1800's. I will say that I did not fly through this book -- it is a nice length, the story line is quite developed, and the characters are full.

I really enjoyed reading this book, and I'll be looking for others by this author--it was not only a good story, but also a nicely-written adventure.

I received a copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Ginger-Clementine cream cheese spread!

Delicious concoction tonight!! :) We mixed softened cream cheese together with the "zest" of one clementine, the juice of two clementines, and some chopped ginger. Yummmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!! We used it as a spread on some baguette slices to accompany our dinner -- everyone loved it!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Fire of the Raging Dragon by Don Brown

If you enjoy tactical adventure books, take a look at this! Fire of the Raging Dragon by Don Brown is a detail-filled military adventure without gore or bad language. Published by Zondervan, a Christian publisher, some of those mainstays of regular books of this genre are pleasantly missing.

The story begins at some point in the future and follows as tensions between China and Taiwan escalate into suspicion and fighting, which eventually draw in the United States. The story jumps back and forth between the opposing sides and their respective commands. The fighting between the Chinese and Taiwanese forces expands when an atrocity of huge proportions is found on one of the captured ships. An American military physician is called in to document and from there the US becomes involved at a different level than their previous neutrality.

(I'm not going to tell you too much more, because I do not want to spoil the story)

There is a little twist in the story--the President's daughter is a member of the US Navy and is stationed on one of the boats entangled in the tensions. As the President makes decisions on this front, he is faced with this added detail, as are several other members of the service.

I would recommend this book if you like this military drama type of book. It is a bit choppy in style, jumping back and forth from one country/ship to the next, but you soon get used to that type of writing. I did think that there were some sections that were superfluous--not sure how/why they were included, but for the most part it was easy to follow the story line. It did take me a bit to get into the story--if you begin and it seems a little dry, I'd encourage you to keep on a little further.

One of the nice things about this book is its lack of swearing/inappropriate language. Don Brown shows that this is not a necessary element in a military drama.

To see the book on the publisher page, as well as a little video intro to it, please click here for the Zondervan product page.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Friday, November 2, 2012

MMMMMMMM :) Pumpkin!

Blessings come in all different ways. Last night I read in the local Front Porch Forum about someone who was selling the rest of their post-Halloween pumpkins for a great price. My daughter and I went out to check them out today and they had a pile of pie pumpkins -- so we came home with 14.

I cut them in two, my 3 kids scooped out all the inside strings and seeds. . .and then we baked/roasted them in the oven for an hour until they were soft. At this point we weren't quite sure how to make it nice and smooth, so we tried different things. First we tried a foley food mill. This seemed to hold back just too much pulp and only squeeze through a very liquidy small amount. Next we tried the blender -- didn't work. SO -- we settled on the masher and hand blender to partially puree it and THEN put it in the blender --- wonderful!!!!!!!!!

We packaged it in 4c and 2c portions and popped it in the freezer and it's being frozen right now. We had about 12 2-cup portions and three 4-cup portions and one a little over 4c. We'll be having a LOT of great pumpkin treats this winter!!

Now, you didn't think I'd freeze it all, did you? We also made two delicious pumpkin pies -- I'm not a huge fan of pumpkin pies that we usually have at Thanksgiving, made with the canned pumpkin pie filling -- but this was DELICIOUS! Yummmmmmmmm!!

A great blessing indeed.

(great linkup today with Farmgirl Friday Bloghop!)