Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Breath of Dawn by Kristen Heitzmann

This book, Breath of Dawn, was a great read! It has so many different elements in it (suspense, romance, history, etc) and a large cast of believable characters! It is a long-ish book, which is great, because once you begin reading it you hope it'll go on and on!

The book focuses on a young woman, Quinn, who is terrorized by an ex-prisoner she helped send to jail. She is trying to make a life for herself but soon finds that she cannot run from this man's reach.

There is another kind of tragic figure, Morgan--a highly successful businessman who has lost his wife in an accident and is devoted to his baby daughter.

The story is not, however, just about these two individuals (who of course end up together--it is partly a romance, remember?!) There is also a loving family, some not-so-loving family members, a marriage of convenience, a growing love, the overcoming of a huge problem in one of the characters' history, and so much other extraneous stuff that ties in to the story.

I want to be careful to not give too much away, as it is so enjoyable to discover it through reading this story!

I would certainly recommend this book to the fiction reader. There were a few things which I thought were a bit unrealistic, but they added to the story. The only thing I REALLY disliked about this book is the cover--really weird, and what on earth do the boats have to do with the story? And the girl's face/shoulder on the cover--very odd looking, I thought. So--superficial, but truthfully made me put this book on the bottom of my reading pile. Glad I finally got to it though! So just overlook the cover and read the book!

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

Friday, December 28, 2012

running. . .running still!

Running, who'd have thought it? :) Last year I (for some reason? Don't know why, must have been a push from God maybe?) started running. Now, I have always disliked running. I began with using a Couch to 5K program (you can see my first post about it here). I did mention it again another month into it here. But guess what? I'm still running! I cannot believe it myself. :)

Now, I'm not a great runner, I'm not a fast runner, I'm not even a distance runner! I just basically run between 1.5 and 3 miles three times a week. But HEY!! I'm still running! I'm not thin, I'm not athletic, but I RUN!!

I have a sister who runs, she began a little before me, and this fall she ran in and completed her first marathon; she's also a thin little thing who always looks good and. . .and. . .and. . .

I think that Satan uses these thoughts in my mind to compare with myself and make me feel bad, but you know what? Nope! I am running because I LIKE to :) and because it's healthy for me, and because my legs are now super-strong (hahahahaha--maybe not super strong, but I do notice when I hike with my kids I can hold out a lot longer than them before needing a rest!!)

SO -- let me encourage you -- if you have any inclination to run or begin a running program -- give it a try! I really liked the couch to 5K way of easing you into it, with mostly walking and a little running at first, enough to make you not get too easily discouraged. Give it a try!!

*****and as a sidenote to a previous post about running, I did not like running in the summer better--felt like I was dying (!) well kind of -- for me it's SO much more comfortable running in 20 degree weather with a bit of bundling up!

So--what do you think? Do you run? Are you thinking of it? Go for it!! I'd love to hear about your running in the comments section here!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Knitting inspiration!

Knitting! I've been inspired! I know I already wrote a post about knitting a couple of months ago (here) but I'm still keeping up with it! I have made several really cute hats (kind of limiting myself to hats to this point!)

I'm not a great knitter, I knit very loosely, and don't take the time to do the gauge thing of knitting a square to see if it's the right size -- so far I've just used a couple of sizes smaller needles and they've come out okay :)

So to show off a few of my cute things. . .

The fish hat!! SOOOO cute and not too hard! The instructions came from this site-- (fish hat) and here's my "finished" picture

This next one is really cute too and can be worn a couple of different ways.

the pattern for this one came from ravelry HERE.

And now I'm working on this. . .
just a random, no-pattern hat, knitting on these teeny little size 3 needles, since I can't find my bigger ones. Oh well, it'll stretch!

:) So what have I learned so far?

1--I prefer to work stuff (well, hats at least!) on 4 or 5 double pointed needles rather than on circular needles.

2--I cannot figure out circular needles!!

3--for hats, loose knitting doesn't matter SO much because you can always line them with polar fleece!! (and that makes them warmer and more wind-proof!)

So--I'm definitely in a hat rut. Not sure what else I should try -- I don't need to make mittens, since I already have a system for making mittens (see my post HERE. Feel free to leave ideas in comments! :)

(joining up with Downhome Blog Hop found here!!)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sisterchicks in Gondolas by Robin Jones Gunn

Interesting, fun, uplifting, encouraging!

:) Great book! I enjoyed reading this one! Sisterchicks in Gondolas is the story of two women from the US and a trip they took to Venice for a week to serve ministers and to laugh and enjoy the area together. I don't want to give away any of this book! Read it! It's great!

I WILL give you a little info about it -- Sue, who is the wife of a recently paralyzed husband, accompanies her sister-in-law Jenna (herself a divorced single mother of an adult daughter) to Venice -- to cook for a small group of ministers/missionaries from various places around the world. They both relax, release guilts which are holding them, and develop hope and lightness for the future. They move through quite a process of self-discovery and spiritual growth and freedom in this week overseas.

There are funny parts, touching parts, interesting trivia, and an all-around entertaining story. The woman Jenna discovers that "I'm not done!" and that there is still a lot of her life left to live, enjoy, and serve. Sue regains a whole new look at herself and her life and a new devotion to the Lord.

This book is not only a sweet story, it also makes you think a bit about your life, where you are, and what you have yet ahead of you. It gives hope that the Lord still can use you!

I'd definitely recommend this book! Read it~~Give it as a gift~~enjoy it and let God speak to you through it!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through their Blogging for Books program. I was not required to write a positive review.

Betrayal by Robin Lee Hatcher --Review and GIVEAWAY!!!

Are you looking for a new series of fiction/historical/romance books to read? This book, Betrayal, by Robin Lee Hatcher is the second book in a series (see the end of this post--I'm giving away book 1 and 2!!) that focuses on adults who were orphaned and separated as children in the 1800's and who long to be reunited. The first book (Belonging) focused on Felicia, the middle daughter. This book, Betrayal, takes a look at Hugh, the eldest brother.

Betrayal is the story of Julia, recently widowed from an abusive husband, running a ranch alone, and intimidated by her ex-brother-in-law who wants her land. Hugh enters the picture randomly, as he's traveling through the area and his horse becomes injured. He takes a position as a temporary ranch hand and, hey, it's a historical romance, so you can probably guess what happens :). . .

The book is a nice story. It IS part of a series, and as such, mentions a little bit about Hugh's past and his search for his sisters. It kind of abruptly throws that in at the end and jumps--boom--into life with his newfound sister and her family (without addressing how he found her,etc) I kind of wished they had put that part into the book. I did not really like the title, Betrayal. I think it was named that because of huge betrayals that had happened in the pasts of Hugh and Julia, but not so much what the book was about.

The book was a nice read. A kind of predictable historical romance with details about ranch life. It's a Christian book and as such is a very "clean" story, which is good. I read the first book of this series and I honestly liked it a bit better than this one. Nevertheless, I would still recommend this book for a little light reading! And I'm looking forward to book 3 in the series!


I have a copy of book 1, Belonging, and book 2, Betrayal to give away! I'll plan to draw a name on Friday, Dec. 28.

To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment below (and make sure I have your contact info!)


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

WINNER!! The winner of the giveaway is the number 2 comment, Jan! Hope you enjoy the books! :)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Jack Frost nipping at your. . .fingers? No more!

I'm sharing with you a double winner today! :) The mittens that we use to keep our fingers toasty (usually!) and also the Craft Fair products that I have people coming back to buy year after year.

These are my felted wool, fleece-lined mittens! They're made from old wool sweaters which I've felted (shrunk down) in the washer/dryer then cut mittens out of. I make the fronts/backs of the mittens twice, once from the wool and once from fleece (yeah, I'm a recycler! I usually use fleece from pj's or outgrown or yard sale sweatshirts, etc). The cuffs are either from sweaters or else (especially for the kids' mittens) I just purchase (!) ribbing and make the cuffs from that. The ribbing cuffs are nice and long to keep the mittens inside sleeves and to keep the snow out of sleeves!

I have been outfitting my kids for years in this type of mitten--they are used to the things I make :) and have enjoyed them for sure. The mittens are nice and thick and keep their fingers warm and cozy -- even when wet they tend to retain a bit more heat, thanks to the wool.

Also -- for the past 3 years I've been making these to sell at the local holiday craft sale and have almost sold out of what I've made each year. I know people elsewhere sell them for much more than I do (or so I've been told), but I sell them for $10 a pair and do pretty well, enough to help with the seasonal bills.

So -- if you're in need of some new mittens, give it a try! Be inspired! Or, if you're not a sewing type person, email me if you'd like to purchase some!

'Tis the season! Don't let Jack Frost make those fingers uncomfortable! :)

Oliver Twist Audiobook


So. . .as far as my review, you can tell it's going to be a positive one, right? :) This Audiobook presentation of Oliver Twist put out by Focus on the Family and provided through Tyndale (here) is a wonderful way to read/listen to the great Dickens classic Oliver Twist. Now, my review is not of the text (review Charles Dickens' work? I think not!) but rather of the audio version. It is wonderful! The Focus on the Family Radio Theater produces such quality presentations!

Oliver Twist, the classic story of an orphan boy's sad life in London in the 1800's, is dramatized with different actors' voices and with great sound effects. As an American, it took just a tiny time to get used to hearing the English accents, and they definitely added to the listening experience! My family and I listened to this audiobook in the car, on our regular travels. We were all captivated by this classic story and looked forward to trips in the car to hear the next installment of the story (truthfully, a few times we sat in the car in the driveway for a few extra minutes of listening!!) The back cover of the case lists it as for 12 years and older -- my children are 8, 10, and 12 and I was fine with them hearing it -- there were a few harsh parts (such as when Bill kills Nancy and when Bill dies) but we were listening to it all together as a family, so we paused it and discussed a little bit (and I also turned the volume down a little to diminish the dramatic effect a little at those parts). The story was well done, the sound quality was great, and the listening experience was very enjoyable. The dramatization made it sound as though you were watching a movie with your eyes closed, better than a movie, because your mind was able to imagine.

No surprise, I definitely enjoyed this audio presentation and would recommend it highly. It is not for little children, but it's a great rendition of Dickens' classic work. It's a little over 5 hours and you'll look forward to listening to it!

I received a copy of this audiobook from Tyndale as a part of their book review program. I was not required to write a positive review.

There's a little more info about this on this website as well as a little video showing behind the scenes footage from the recording of it.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sing sing sing sing!! :)

I am so blessed to be able to participate in a county chorus for our rural county! It's an eclectic group of people mostly old enough to be my parents (and older!) -- who are VERY fine musicians!! :) Our director is wonderfully patient with us, and the group is a great blend of music readers and non-readers (but we have enough time to learn the music!)

We begin singing in early September and had our two concerts this weekend, Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon. I tell my family that this is pretty much one of the only things I do for just ME. I get to go every Monday night and just SING for an hour and a half. No socializing pressure, no children (sorry kids, I do love you!), nothing else going on but singing (and learning the music!) I'm so thankful for the love of music and the ability to sing (!) and for the opportunity to do something so joyous!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wondrous Works of God by Starr Meade

We will be using this wonderful book beginning in January as a devotional tool in our family! Yes, no question here, I definitely like this book!

This book is titled Wondrous Works of God and is written by Starr Meade, you can check it out here. It is a book of 90 stories from the Bible, chosen and used to show how Scripture points toward the coming of Christ and mankind's redemption. Stories such as Saul and Jonathan, Abram rescues Lot, Hannah Prays for a Son, David collects money for a temple, Jesus heals ten lepers, the Snakebite and the Shipwreck. Stories from both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Each chapter is written in such a lovely way, great to read aloud, and definitely will hold each person's attention. At the end of each chapter is an application section, with conversation starters or ideas for applying truths from the story in our lives.

I loved this book. I am so looking forward to its use in our family. I like that it is so user-friendly, great text and bright, kid-friendly pictures on most pages. I like the explanations of unfamiliar terminology. I like that the stories are not just the same ones found in many children's "Bibles" or Bible story books -- some are ones not even covered much in Sunday School lessons! I like the discussion/application at the end to continue the lesson. I like I like I like. . . :)

So--no surprise--I definitely recommend this book! What a great gift it would make! Why not purchase a few and use them as gifts for families whose homes you visit over the holidays, or for families in your neighborhood?

After seeing this book, I would next like to check out Starr Meade's earlier book, "Mighty Acts of God."

I was given a copy of this book by Crossway Books as a part of their Book Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Unending Devotion by Jody Hedlund

The book Unending Devotion is a Historical Fiction/Historical Romance type book by Jody Hedlund. I've not read other works by this author so I was not sure what to expect.

The book is the story of Lily, an orphan, who is now an adult, still with a responsible guardian, looking for her younger sister who whe suspects has been taken into the world of prostitution. This is her passion in life, to find her sister and make a home for them. The story follows Lily in part of this search and focuses on a romance between her and a lumber worker.

The story goes on and on and on and on and on and on and on. . .

If I had not promised to write a review for this book I don't think I would have continued past the first few chapters. It's very slooooooooooow moving and I really didn't feel like the characters were real people. Maybe because I'm not used to reading these historical fiction books, maybe because I don't usually read romances. I'm not sure why. It just wasn't my cup of tea. I wouldn't recommend it because I would not have even finished it if I had checked it out of the library.

I'm sure there are some who will love this book, just not my style.

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Genius of Ancient Man by Don Landis

This schoolyear we are studying ancient history using MFW Creation to the Greeks for my 3 homeschooled kids. This book, The Genius of Ancient Man by Don Landis falls right along with what we've been learning about.

This book uses many ancient artifacts, construction feats, etc. to illustrate that ancient man was not any less cognitively developed. There's a great chapter on monuments, mounds, and pyramids that shows this style of construction all around the world. There is a chapter about Biblical truth and counterfeit (counterfeit religions, practices, etc.) There's a great timeline showing civilizations and central events from the beginning to the 1600's. There are discussions of such topics as the Tower of Babel and the Ice Age. There are wonderful photos of many ancient sites displaying ancient advanced technology, "mysterious" sites (such as Nazca Lines, Peru and Stonhenge, England for example), and Monuments around the world (such as different pyramids, the Terracota Army, some mounds, etc).

The book was great. I highly recommend it. My children enjoyed looking at the pictures, though they haven't read the text. We will be using it along with our studies this year!

I would definitely recommend this book. It's a great explanation of how non-simple ancient man was. Not the "caveman" type societies but rather well-developed societies with more advanced technology than they are usually credited with. On a superficial level, the book is very attractive, a great layout, wonderful pictures, and a compelling cover. Great book.

I received a copy of this book from Master Books, a segment of the New Leaf Publishing Group for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

For more information on this book, check out the publisher's page for it here.

Chocolate-covered Baloney by K D McCrite

Chocolate-covered Baloney is the second book by KD McCrite that I have read to review. It's a book written for the middle-school aged girl, and as I have a child in that age group, I was interested in checking it out. My review of the other April Grace book, Cliques, Hicks, and Ugly Sticks is here.

The book follows April Grace and her family through some life-shaking episodes in their family. April Grace and her sister Myra Sue are continually embroiled in some heavy sibling rivalry. An unexpected relative shows up and features strongly in the story as well. I don't want to give away the story, so I'm being intentionally vague :) There are touching family moments as well as harsh disagreements. In the big picture of the story, the family and their neighbors work together as neighbors and family ought to.

So here comes the part where I give my recommendation if any. . .I did enjoy reading the book, it was funny in some parts and easy to read. . .(well, it IS written for jr high aged girls!)


I do not believe I'd want my daughter reading this book. There was an awful lot of name-calling and disrespect that went completely unaddressed. So much so that by the end of the book you hardly notice it--and that's just what I do NOT want my daughter becoming immune to. That kind of talk, though it may occur in some families, will not be stood for in this house. And I don't want us to become callous to it and not recognize it as sinful and wrong.

So--though I think the author wrote an easily readable book, I won't recommend it. Though it's published by a Christian company I didn't see much faith or Christian influence in the book.

I received this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers as a part of their Booksneeze program for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Made in Heaven by Ray Comfort and Jeffrey Seto

FABULOUS BOOK!! Fun, enjoyable, timely read with great illustration! Okay, so I'm a bit of a science geek--I like science, experiments, reading Discover magazine. . .But even if I weren't, this book would be interesting to me!

Made in Heaven, Man's Indiscriminate Stealing of God's Amazing Design is a book of instances in which humans have copied God's design of something in nature to benefit society.

For instance: Velcro. That's a no-brainer, how many of us have had burdocks stuck to us as we walk through a field? Hmmm, burdocks/velcro -- ah, you can easily see how the inventor of velcro came about his inspiration!

The book is full of wonderful examples of natural things being used as patterns for manufactured items. Useful discoveries such as the lotus leaf leading to water repellant fabrics; shark skin leading to fast swimwear; and my family's favorite--the bombardier beetle (I'll let you read about that one yourself!)

My only criticism is that the way the book is made and the cover illustration, etc. make it look like it's a kids' book. It's not. Well, my kids did like it, but that was as I read it to them and we talked about it. I think this book is great for kids, older kids, and adults! It'd make a great book to set out on your coffee table or end table for browsing through!

Through the book it shows how the Great Designer (God) has made all this awesome stuff that humans are using to pattern things after. I didn't really like the subtitle (Man's indiscrimiate stealing of God's Amazing Design--that sounds pretty inflammatory to me), but don't let that keep you from reading it!

This book would also make a great gift for people of many different ages! The book concludes with a salvation message as well, so it's a great tool for spreading the Gospel as well.

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

The True Account of Adam and Eve by Ken Ham

Creation, from its absolute beginning--on up through its redemption through Christ-- this book covers a lot of information in a few (56) well-illustrated pages! This book, the True Account of Adam and Eve is just what the title leads you to believe. It's a Biblical account of man, from creation to the sinning/fall/expulsion from the Garden of Eden, and the redemptive work of Christ to pay for our sins.

The book is very well written, clear and explanatory. It's written at a great level for people of all ages to hear/read it and understand its message. There are sections about sin and about Christ dying for our sin. There is a great chart that shows how by looking at the birth/ages of some of the Bible characters, how their lifetimes overlapped with each other. There's also a great illustration and explanation of how population doubles every 150 years and leads to our world populations today.

I appreciated this book. It's very clear, great concise story of human creation, sin, and redemption. The only thing I would make a comment about here is that I hope this book isn't overlooked by older kids as being a "picture book". Yes, it is full of great illustrations, but I think the text is written so that a junior high student could read, understand, and enjoy it. (as long as they don't think it's a babyish book because of the design!)

I would definitely recommend this book. It'd be a great book to use as a read-aloud or for older kids (10 and up) to enjoy on their own.

For more info, please look on the publisher's site for this book! Master Books

I received a copy of this book from New Leaf Publishing for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

After You Drop Them Off by Jeramy and Jerusha Clark

The book entitled After You Drop Them Off is subtitled, "A parent's guide to student ministry," written by husband and wife team Jeramy and Jerusha Ann Clark. The authors speak from their own perspective as youth leaders on many topics related to youth ministry (like high school age youth.) The author writes on such topics as how to know what's going on in the youth group meetings/events, how to get to know the youth staff, how to best pray for your youth ministry, how to give constructive criticism to the youth director, etc.

To me the book wasn't anything surprising. I have children who will (sooner than I care to believe!) be entering the "youth group" age, so I thought maybe I ought to read this book. Well, truthfully, if I had not committed to review the book I might not have finished it. A lot of the information in this book seemed like just logical stuff, or maybe just normal courtesy. Yes, it was in the youth ministry setting, and the points made are valid, just nothing earth shattering :) I will qualify these comments by saying that I was a kid brought up in church/Christian school/Christian campyouth group and as an adult I've been involved in different capacities in the children's and youth ministries, so maybe I'm more familiar than some in the intended audience. Maybe to someone who doesn't know what youth group is would get a lot more out of this book than I.

So--I'll give my recommendation as this-- if you don't know a lot about youth groups/youth ministries, you may find this book to be helpful to you!

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