Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Nature Girl by Karen Whiting and Rebecca White

My copy of Nature Girl by Karen Whiting and Rebecca White is subtitled "a guide to caring for God's creation," although the picture on Amazon.com subtitles it "a guide to going green." Hmm, weird, I wonder why that's different. Anyhow. . . It is a book that is written for junior high age girls. The chapter topics cover things such as nutrition, beauty (person), caring for the earth, animals, air, alternative energy, parties, etc. There is a little bit of Scripture and a little bit of talk about God, but I was hoping for something more. I was hoping for more information about WHY a person should care about God's creation and care for it. I didn't really find much of that in this book. I was also surprised that it really wasn't very science-strong either. There were some statements made which I would consider opinion that were put forth as fact.

I have a background in biology and have worked in environmental education for many years and now have my own family. I guess this book really wasn't what I thought it would be. I don't think it's offensive or objectionable, but not necessarily a "must have." There are sections on things like parties, making beauty products, and such~~ Do you know what it reminded me of? Kind of like what you'd find in an American Girl magazine or something (with a little "God" thrown in).

So -- I guess I'm pretty ambivalent on this one. I wouldn't recommend it, but I also wouldn't steer you away from it. Just~~ "whatever." :)

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.

Hope Crossing by Cindy Woodsmall

Hope Crossing by Cindy Woodsmall is a collection of three books, all 3 of the books in the "Ada's House Trilogy." How nice to have three great books all bound together! The books contained in this volume are "The Hope of Refuge," "The Bridge of Peace," and "The Harvest of Grace." These three books are written by the same author and cover the same characters, region, religion, etc. It is fiction about Amish folks and though the characters remain the same, the predominant character/characters are different in each book. The story of one main couple, Cara and Ephraim, weaves throughout all 3 of the books.

The story begins with Cara attempting to escape from a horrid present and past, searching for something. She finds a place and a fight, a family that she wants but doesn't want, connections, friends, and a puppy :) Haha, that's pretty cryptic, huh? I really don't want to give away the stories. Read it!

The books are very interesting, light, a bit of romance, and the allure of reading about the Amish culture. They were a very light and enjoyable read, and it was great that as one finished, there were still 2 left in the series, right there! No waiting! :) The book is big (over 1000 pages) and is a little unwieldy, but you get used to holding the bulk of it! It also pictures the plain folks as more like the non-plain than we might think! They're not all perfect.

I would definitely recommend this book! It's a fun, light, entertaining read. I'll share my copy around!

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.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Homemade Decadence by Joy the Baker (Joy Wilson)

Yummmmmmmmmm!!!!! That's my review of this book! :)

Oh, you wanted a little more information? Okay! This cookbook, entitled "Homemade Decadence" by Joy the Baker (aka Joy Wilson) is a gorgeous book to inspire you to satisfy your sweet tooth!

This book is a cookbook, and more. It's a cookbook that you'll want to read also. Interesting little snippets of information or entertainment by each recipe keep you reading!

Some cookbooks annoy me, this does not! :) One thing this book has is GORGEOUS photographs of each of the recipes. Not just the item, but beautiful plates and a pretty picture of the whole thing. Does that mean that your cake (or whatever) will look just like that? Probably not, but it's beautiful to look through!

The Recipes: here's where my pet peeves do not apply to this cookbook! The recipes are actual recipes, not made with cake mixes and canned fillings, etc. They're recipes made with ingredients. AND they are mostly regular ingredients that you would probably already have in your cupboards--not exotic ingredients which you will have to seek out and purchase particularly for only one recipe (some are more exotic than I have in my cupboard, but not most!)

Ohhhh--and the end products--I will easily admit that I have a big sweet tooth. We like to have dessert for every dinner. I never realized till I was an adult that not every family does have dessert every day, but we surely do in our family! The recipes in this book are mouth-watering, and better yet -- very do-able. Listen to some of these: peanut butter cream pie, apple pie with cheddar-bacon crust (!!!!), lemon poppyseed pancakes, maple-apple upside down cake, brown sugar cream cheese ice cream. and on and on!!

It's a great book. Obviously I like this cookbook. My children like it as well! :) Lots of tasty treats will be inspired by this book!

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.

Monday, November 10, 2014

To Everything a Season by Lauraine Snelling

This book, "To Everything a Season" by Lauraine Snelling, is a sweet book about a picture-perfect town and its residents. The town is Blessing, North Dakota, and this is one of a series of books about this town. The town is full of strong characters who are very helpful and growing the town. There are a few female doctors and they run a training center for nursing students. There are some strong families who tie the town together.

The book follows several events, one of which is a bank robbery and one of the perpetrators. Part of the story focuses on one of the nursing students and her family responsibilities and heartaches. There is a little bit of a love story here as well.

Basically -- it's a sweet story about family and a town you might wish you were a part of. It was an easy story to read, though I think if I had been more familiar with the characters (from earlier books in the series) certain things might have made more sense. However, I wouldn't that you won't enjoy this book even if it's the first you've read in this series.

This was a nice, light, easy-to-read, entertaining book. I would definitely recommend it.

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

Crap Taxidermy by Kat Su

Silly silly book :) Although the title "Crap Taxidermy" is a bit ummmm. . .crass. . .(not a word that is allowed to be used in my home!!) this book is hilarious. I am married to a hunter/fisherman whose family are also avid sportsmen, so taxidermy is commonplace to see--on people's walls, etc. I don't think I've seen any specimens as odd as those featured in this book!

I'm not sure if these examples were a part of someone's learning curve or products that they were proud to complete, but you'll be laughing as you go through the book. The titles only enhance the pages.

This is a small book and will make a great gift for certain people. For instance, my bachelor brother-in-law will be receiving a copy of this for Christmas -- and I'm sure he'll enjoy it. It's kind of a coffee-table book, again, for certain audiences. Some people may be uncomfortable with it -- don't give them a copy!! There's even a section at the back to learn to do-it-yourself-- making a taxidermy mouse, if you are so inspired. At any rate, this will fit the bill for some of those hard-to-shop-for folks!

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

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Perfect Score Project by Debbie Stier

This book, The Perfect Score Project, is subtitled, "One mother's journey to uncover the secrets of the SAT." Okay, I guess that does summarize the book. Thinking of a subtitle I'd give the book--maybe more along the lines of "a mother with lots of empty time and energy on her hands becomes obsessed with the SAT and addicted to pursuing a higher score." I think that subtitle maybe does not show my complete annoyance with the book, but might hint at it.

The author, Debbie Stier, had decided to help her son (who she thinks is not serious enough about academics) get a great score on the SAT. The method she chose was to try out various test-preparation strategies and earn herself a perfect score, helping him along the way. She spends her year trying out many many many many tutors, programs, ideas, and etc. in the quest to up her score. She immerses her life in the SAT. Now, I'm not talking a few, not talking getting tips, I'm talking crazy. Obsessed? Beyond. Really.

I'm sure you've discovered by this time that I was not thrilled with this book. There are so many reasons why. One of them is that it is hard for me to understand someone who lives the life (of a single mom, even!!) that allows them to spend so much time, energy, mental strength, money, etc. on such a single-minded pursuit of a high SAT score. Really?? She does mention that she has some issues with her relationships with her teenagers, which are apparently resolved by the last chapter, but--priorities! Way different than my priorities, I guess.

Another issue is that of standardized testing in general. Things like how accurate is standardized testing, who is it intended to reward. Much of her preparation work seemed to center on trying to figure out how to beat the tricky-ness of the test and its questions (sorry if that's not a word!) So, the point of the test is. . .? When the "A" in the SAT stood for "aptitude" I guess that went along with it. Now?

Apparently (not mentioned in her book) the SAT is going through a major change to begin in the spring of 2016--not sure how much of her advice/ideas/information will be un-applicable at that point.

Unfortunately, the book was even boring to me. It was slow and awkward with all the insets.

Before I began reading this book, I was excited to read it. I have a high-schooler, so we will be joining the ranks of SAT takers soon enough, and I was interested in the inside view; however, this view was just too much. I want my children to be educated to do well in life, be ready for a variety of experiences, both academic and pragmatic. I don't want their learning to be tunneled into how to pass the standardized test.

I received this book through a book review program. For that reason I read the entire book. That was the only reason. Had I picked it up a the library I would have returned it unfinished. I really don't recommend this book. I just found it annoying, weird, and boring! I guess you have figured out by now that I wouldn't recommend it.

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

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Beauty of Believing (Faithgirlz!)

Another kids' devotional to review! This time I chose one that is in the age range of my youngest daughter. This book, The Beauty of Believing is in the Faithgirlz series and is made up of daily devotionals taken from earlier books by the following authors: Tasha Douglas, Mona Hodgson, Kristi Holl, Lois Walfrid Johnson, Allia Zobel Nolan, and Nancy Rue.

Each daily devotion begins with a Bible verse at the top of the page and then a story or explanatory narrative to illustrate the topic at hand. The next segment is "More to Explore" which is additional Bible passages to read that will go along with the topic. Next is "Girl Talk" which is an application section ("Can you think of a time when you. . .?" which includes self-reflection. The last segment is "God Talk" which is a prayer idea to guide a prayer focus for the day.

These devotionals are easy to read and easy to apply. I think they would be great either for a girl to use solo or with her parent(s). Each day has a different topic, some examples of topics include: loneliness, prayer, God's power, selfishness, your relationship with God, relationships with others, obedience, etc. The suggested age for this book is 8-12 (I believe) but I think it would be good also for a little older girls as well. My oldest is 14 and I can see her reading, enjoying, and learning through this book as well.

(side note -- my girls LOVE Nancy Rue books, so they are excited to have this devotional!)

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

The One-Year Devotions for Active Boys by Jesse Florea and Karen Whiting

The One Year Devotions for Active Boys is a daily devotional book that is written for boys. The format is that there is a topic with a story (from the Bible or just a fictional story) which is then followed by some "weird facts" or an experiment, puzzle, or jokes. The next segment is a prayer starter and then a Bible verse that relates.

The narrative is written in an easy to read style, I think it would be easy for a boy to read himself or else a parent to read with their son. The topics are wide-ranging, from science to God's power to leaders to arguing to wisdom, and etc. The book is intended for 7-12 year old boys.

So how do I like this book? Fine, for a devotional. I think that it is engaging and that boys will like to read it. I think you would need to plan carefully when devotion time is (for instance, right before bed would not be the best time to begin an experiment or get out equipment to make something cool). I DO wish that there was a little more application focus in some of the days. Some days it is easy to understand how the verses and themes apply to your life, other times it's a bit more difficult. I guess it comes down to a couple of things. This is a good age to begin a habit of daily Bible reading and prayer, and I think that this book is a book that will encourage a boy to begin and stick with that habit. I have a preteen boy and we have seen several different devotionals for boys this age -- some I like better than this one, some not so much. I guess I'd give this a 4 out of 5 rating and hope that it helps to instill a good habit of spending time each day with the Lord.

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

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

"A Beautiful Mess" Happy Handmade Home by Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman

Fun fun fun!!

"A Beautiful Mess -- Happy Handmade Home" by Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman is such a fun decorating book! :) It is totally my kind of decorating! :) Really! I loved so much of it!

The book is filled with ideas for decorating different areas of the home: Living Rooms, Kitchens, Dining Rooms, Bedrooms, Studio Spaces, Outdoor Spaces, Playrooms, Small Spaces. The style of decorating is kind of quirky, bright, and fun. Totally my idea of great decorating! The book is filled with photos to inspire you with ideas of how to do your own spaces. There are unique wall coverings, bright artwork, interesting furniture and combinations, and lots of do-it-yourself projects!

Some of the projects have instructions, some are more like inspiration. None are very deep, and they allow wiggle room for your own touches.

Looking at the reviews on Amazon for this book, there are a lot of people who were disappointed with this book because they follow the authors' blog and didn't see much new in this book. Well, I had never seen that blog (!!) so these ideas were new to me! :) It's basically just a fun book that you can look through and envision new looks for your spaces in your home. The style is not for everyone, there is so much variation in people's tastes, but it certainly is for me!

There were a few typos which can be a little annoying, but you can get past them, and some projects that I thought were a bit too tacky for me (using electrical tape on a fridge or coffee table??) but hey! You shouldn't expect to love every single idea, right?!

I would recommend this book to someone who has similar tastes to mine in decorating (kind of free, bright, quirky, and colorful. Other people (such as my sister, who has much more "dignified" decorating tastes than mine) probably would not enjoy it quite so much, therefore I would not recommend it to them! But as for me--I like it!

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

Tried & True by Mary Connealy

Tried & True by Mary Connealy is a book about three sisters and their father who have moved out west following the Civil War to homestead land and gain property. The twist is that the three grown girls are pretending to be men, they are ex-soldiers (fought in the Civil War disguised as men) and are using an exemption for fighting in the war to cut down their required years of living on the land in order to claim it as their own. It's a little bit of a romance, a little bit of a western story, and a little bit. . .boring.

It was a fine book, kind of a weird premise, especially that three women could have lived as soldiers for a few years without their identities as females being discovered (one was in the hospital for awhile even. . .???. . .must've been some unobservant doctor!!) and also kind of weird that as grown women they were happy to pretend to be men just to obey their father's wishes. I didn't think there were any inappropriate parts, just that it was kind of boring and disjointed. There's a teeny bit of Christian-ness in it, but not too much -- mostly nearer to the end.

I don't know, it just didn't grab my attention. I'm sure it'll be of interest to some, but for me--I could take it or leave it. Would I recommend it? Probably not. There are lots more interesting books :)

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

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Miracle in a Dry Season by Sarah Loudin Thomas

Miracle in a Dry Season by Sarah Loudin Thomas was an interesting quick read, with many developed characters who draw you into their stories. It is a book about a town in the '50's who are under the reign of a harsh preacher who seems to want the parishoners to worship and follow him rather than God and the Bible.

I do not want to give too many details, so I will not go into the story line much, other than to say that it is a story of love, as well as reconciliation, as well as difficulty and want, and more!

Unmarried Casewell is a woodworker who had a difficult relationship with his father, and everyone in the town seems to have a warm spot in their hearts for him. Perla is an unmarried woman with a sweet child who moves into the town and attracts all kinds of attention, mostly negative. The town enters a period of excessive drought and as the stresses increase, so do emotions and reactions. Okay, that's all I'll say!

This is a Christian romance, and there was one part that I was a little iffy with and that is the "gift from God" that Perla has of making a lot of food from not much in the way of ingredients -- not just creative cooking, but actually multiplying the foodstuffs. Other than that, the story could have been very realistic, but that "miracle" part just seemed unrealistic to me, and made me a little uncomfortable.

The end of the story is predictable (which I do like!) and also a happy ending (which I like as well).

I guess I have mixed feelings on this book. Would I recommend it? Maybe with reservations/explanations about the weirdness of Perla's "gift". I did like it most of the way, and it is an easy-to-read book, which is nice.

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

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Story Keeper by Lisa Wingate


Phew, got that out of my system! Honestly, The Story Keeper, by Lisa Wingate is an exceptionally wonderful book. It enfolds the stories of actually a few people, addressing things in lives that are emancipating in the end.

This is the story of a mountain girl with a tough past leaving her past, starting a "new" life, only to find it intersecting with her "old" life. The story of a lost manuscript which tells an amazing story from the past. The story of children and adults with no hope. The story of some with hope. I really do not want to give too much information about this book, because it is so wonderful to discover it for yourself in the pages of this book. I will tell you that it is about a book editor named Jen/Jennia and a journey she takes and a story she discovers.

This book is one that you are going to want to read and keep reading. It touches you emotionally and draws you right in to the multi-dramas. It brings up mental struggles in the reader as well, right vs just vs pragmatic, . . .and on.

I think this review is pretty cryptic, huh? :) I will say I really recommend this book. It is a fictional story, but definitely not fluffy :) It's also not hard to read -- you will want to fly right through it! Give it a try! Read it! I highly recommend it!

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

Simplify by Bill Hybels

"Simplify" is a term we hear tossed around frequently. As in, "I am going to simplify my life by. . ." or "I am going to aim for living simply." I wasn't sure what exactly this book would be like.

The author of Simplify, Bill Hybels, has written a series of chapters which give you ideas to simplify your life by simplifying your mind and emotions and schedule. Not simplifying your mind as in becoming less-intelligent, but rather uncluttering it from anxieties that take precedence over everything and wear you down mentally and physically.

The chapters include such topics as forgiveness and the power that bitterness holds over us, financial stuff, scheduling and emptying out your schedule a bit, prioritizing, and focus (among others). These may not be what you expected for simplifying, but it really addresses the stuff that "hangs over you" as I would say :)

I enjoyed reading this book for the most part. Some sections more than others :) I really felt that this book was written more to someone in a career outside of the home, not for the demographic of stay-at-home/homeschooling mom such as myself. I really did enjoy parts of chapter 3, "From Overwhelmed to In Control: Mastering your finances."

Would I recommend this book? I would definitely recommend it for people in careers outside of the home. For someone who is choosing to raise your children in a God-honoring way at home, staying at home, homeschooling--I think there are better books to read for you. ones that resonate more with me.

I received this book in exchange for this honest review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The StickyFaith Guide for Your Family by Dr. Kara E. Powell

The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family by Dr. Kara E Powell is written for parents and grandparents of children. It is a follow-up to research that has been done and publicized in recent years about how few children that are raised in a Christian home/church will continue in that tradition as they become college-aged and older.

I am a mom of 3 children and we have taken many steps thus far to ensure that our children are building a faith of their own, not just going along for the ride with my husband and me, but I am definitely always interested to hear/read new ideas for further firming this in their lives.

The "sticky faith" terminology is apparently a movement or series of books/etc that I was not familiar with. Not knowing about these beforehand wasn't detrimental to understanding this book, however. I WAS annoyed a bit at first with the terminology "sticky faith" (it seemed to be used so much throughout the book) -- bothered me at first, but by the time I hit the middle it was fine, I guess I got used to it :)

The set-up is that each chapter has a theme, such as mistakes, relationships, connecting, community, grandparents, service, and more. Each chapter is filled with narrative about the given topic, followed by many examples of the practice in action. Each chapter also ends with a ranking of how you are doing on each topic and discussion questions. As far as my personal preference, I don't usually like writing in books, especially ones I might share. So I didn't use those sections, but just read through them (and thought about some of them).

I really enjoyed all the stories about how different families do things that were discussed in the book. It was great pictures of putting into practice these ideas, done by a variety of different families at different life-stages. I felt like there were many examples for many different stages of family growth. Not every idea was new or earth-shattering, but different families do things differently and I bet that most people can find some great ideas and encouragement in the chapters of this book. Reading about life-stages above where we are right now also gave me some things to think about and plan for in the future. The book was also very readable. Nicely written and easy to go right through. I would certainly recommend this book

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

Your Family in Pictures by Me Ra Koh

Family pictures!! Don't we all love taking pictures of our families? Have you ever looked at someone else's photos of their families and thought "How did they get such great pictures?"

This book by Me Ra Koh is written to enable moms (and others!) to take gorgeous artistic photos with whatever photo equipment they have available.

First of all, this is a beautiful book, filled with inspiring pictures of families and kids. Not only are they great pictures, but there are "recipes" for how to take that type of picture for yourself! The author is all about empowering moms (people) to take gorgeous pictures of their families. The directions are not difficult to understand and it does not require you to purchase pricey equipment -- information on how to use the equipment you already have; even instructions on how to use your smartphone to take beautiful photos!

I really appreciate this book -- it has given me lots of ideas and inspiration of how to take special pictures :) My daughter has also read the book and has started trying out some of the different techniques introduced. There are suggestions of when are good times to capture photos and also ideas for getting cooperation of the family when picture-taking might take a bit longer than they would wish :)

Obviously the title lets you know that this book is primarily geared toward taking pictures of your family. The author (Me Ra Koh) also has other publications about photographing different subjects. I will be looking for these for sure :)

I would definitely recommend this book. It is a very interesting and inspiring read with ideas that are easy to try right now!

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

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Princess Within for Teens by Serita Ann Jakes

The book The Princess Within for Teens by Serita Ann Jakes is written for teenagers (obviously!) I happen to have a teenaged daughter, so I was interested in reading and reviewing this book.

No beating around the bush, I did not care for this book. Why? Primarily readability. It jumps from topic to topic to topic without much cohesion or follow-through.

The author tries to put too much "cutesy" type stuff in (Cinderella story updated, in bits and pieces; suggested music; quizzes (but no answers or interpretations!), personal stories, stories by others, letters to her "secret keeper", etc) So much stuff and it doesn't really follow any logical pathway or lead you to understand the topic at hand any better.

I get that the author is trying to catch girls' attention by offering all these different styles of writing, but it's just too much, in my opinion. She covers some good topics, things that are a part of teen life. Scriptures are used to support her writing and encourage girls to seek God's help.

I wouldn't really recommend this book. It's pretty confusing (in layout) and though it covers lots of topics, I just think that I've read much better. I'm sure some people will really enjoy this book and this style of writing, but it just wasn't for me.

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.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Snap Decision by Nathan Whitaker

Ahh! Time to read a book designed for my middle child, an almost junior-high boy! :) I actually like a lot of his reading choices right now (Hardy Boys, Hardy Boys, and Hardy Boys! haha); occasionally he does take a break from the Hardy Boys and read other books :) SO I knew this book would be a great one to review!

Snap Decision is written by Nathan Whitaker (I recognized his name from his co-writing of books with Tony Dungy); just a look at the cover lets you know it's all about football. The main character, Chase, and his friend, Tripp (sound like two good football names, huh? haha, just my corny sense of humor I guess!) are 8th graders, football players, and good buddies. Tripp plays varsity, while Chase is on JV, longing for varsity. The story follows the boys and their football experiences and family experiences somewhat~~kind of day to day stuff and thoughts. Chase eventually gets the chance to join the varsity squad and the book talks about his thoughts and feelings about that as well.

The conflict part of the book comes when Chase sees something and doesn't know whether or not he should tell the responsible adults--though it might hurt his friend (I DON'T want to give it away, so I'm not going to give more details). It's a good message, though he has to deal with some repercussions.

All in all, it's a fine book. I truthfully thought it was quite boring and filled with rabbit-trail-type material -- very peripheral to the story, though given big chunks of text. Not very cohesive. It was not objectionable, however, a good, clean story with a lesson, just kind of slow and boring. I'm not sure if it's the first book in a series, maybe some of these things will be developed more in future books.

Would I recommend it? Sure, it's a fine book. It did seem very different from the middle school-aged books that are written these days -- so many of them deal with topics like death of a parent, abandonment, major physical difficulties, stuff like that. This book was unlike that (which I think is just fine). My issue with it is that it is very bland and just. . . slow. We'll see. I'm giving it to my son to read, so we'll see how he likes it.

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

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Nourished Kitchen by Jennifer McGruther


I recently received the book The Nourished Kitchen by Jennifer McGruther for review purposes -- and it's an instant hit, not only with me, but with the whole family!!

I am totally the demographic that this book was written for -- we try to eat mostly "whole" foods, local foods, grow our own garden, raise our own meat (chicken/turkey/rabbit) and harvest wild meat in season (duck/deer/fish), drink raw milk from a local organic farm that we volunteer on. . .

First off -- superficially :) -- this book is gorgeous. The cover alone will draw you in! The photos of the prepared recipes are enticing and the narrative that goes along with each recipe is a great explanation/encouragement about the benefits of that dish.

The recipes -- yummmm!! I have to tell you that my children have been looking through this book and they have actually already made a couple of items from this book! My 14 yr old daughter made the puff pancake and the buttered spinach for our dinner yesterday (here's a picture!)

and then tonight my 12 yr old son made the buttermilk herb dressing for our salad -- each of them looked through the book on their own and asked if they could try some of the recipes!

There are many things in this book that I had been wanting to learn to make -- things like kefir (if I can find a starter culture somewhere!) and yogurt! fermented stuff (sauerkraut of course, but swiss chard stems?! definitely to try this year!) Breads, cheeses, desserts, meats, SO many recipes -- and not just that, but also narratives speaking to why certain ingredients are good for you to use/eat and just info about many of the foods and their ingredients!

Am I gushing too much? :) Really, this book is great. It has given me tons of ideas as well as explanations -- a great resource for our family. It's beautiful and well-written. I DEFINITELY recommend this book!

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. I just loved the book!! Buy it! Enjoy it!! :)

Monday, June 16, 2014

Modern Pioneering by Georgia Pellegrini

Love this book! :) I won't make you wait till the end of this post to see what I think of it :) Okay, to be fair, this book is kind of "preaching to the choir" with me -- many of the things mentioned in this book are things that we incorporate into our life here already -- but -- it's a great book, with easy instructions and encouragement!

The book gives a little look at the author's life and how she became the person she is. Thereafter are SO many great ideas and instructions -- how to grow food, tools for gardening, how to decide what to plant, how to plant, how to take care of your plants, etc. -- and NO! It's not just about gardening! Delicious-looking recipes to give ideas of how to use those garden veggies -- complete with mouthwatering pictures :)

Different ways of preserving are addressed, with photos and recipes as well -- canning, pickling, fermenting, smoking, preserving with oil, drying, freezing. . .

Wild edibles! Making butter! Making tea! Survival Skills! Crafts and homemade products! Gift ideas!

Yeah, I like this book (you think?) My 14 yr old daughter also read the book cover-to-cover and has already tried a few things from the book :) It's an eye-catching book, written with excitement to grab your attention and have you trying what it's talking about right away! I also want to say that it's written in a style that if you do not already have this kind of lifestyle, you can easily try these ideas without them seeming overwhelming.

I would recommend this book! It'd be a good one to have in your own home or to give as a gift!

I received this book from the blogging for books program for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Body & Soul by Bethany Hamilton

The book "Body & Soul" is written by Bethany Hamilton (of the "Soul Surfer" movie fame). The front of it says "A Girl's Guide to a Fit, Fun, and Fabulous Life."

I chose this book to review because I have a 14 yr old daughter who LOVES the Soul Surfer movie and thus is interested in Bethany Hamilton and what she does.

If I were reading this book without my daughter in mind, I would have probably liked it more. It is a very well-made book -- catchy colors, great editing, nice graphics and photos. There are lots of exercise tips, clean eating ideas and discussion, and even some recipes. There was a small segment on spiritual things -- like do your devotions and love others--

As a mom I will not give this book to my daughter because she is 14!!! I don't want her worrying about her body right now. Please don't get me wrong, she IS learning about nutrition and healthy choices, but . . . I do not want to encourage so much thinking about her own body right now. A lot of that is still my responsibility (giving her healthy foods) and making sure she has ample opportunity for physical activity. Other things, such as the "thin is better" implications -- I may have some thoughts about that too, but seeing as this is more a diet and exercise book, that's par for the course.

HOWEVER! :) I do think this book is a good book for an older teen/college student who is actively involved in food and exercise choices. I wish that there was a bit more spiritual emphasis (maybe the book could have been called BODY & a teeny bit of soul. :) Just kidding -- I'm sure that the title was to tie in with the movie title. Truthfully, though, she has a good platform and I wish that there had been more on reading and learning Scripture and God's plan for your body and life. . .that type of thing.

So -- I guess I'm a bit ambivalent on this book.

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

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Moment in Time by Tracie Peterson

A Moment in Time by Tracie Peterson is a fun easy read, just right for filling a couple of hours with some entertainment! :) The story centers around Marty (married to Jake) and Alice (an orphaned girl who has been taken in by Marty and Jake--first as an employee, later as a friend). Alice is being stalked by a man who thinks she has some valuable papers that were her fathers, though she does not have them (the same man scarred her face with a knife earlier). The setting is Colorado, 1893, in a time where jobs were scarce and banks were not strong and secure.

Jake lost his job and goes to find work. Marty and Alice are forced to leave the house they were living in, as it belongs to the bank. Marty has family down in Texas, but she's frightened to go back there (for reasons I won't tell you! You'll have to read it!) -- -- -- OH -- and there's also a large part about. . .well, I'll just say some relatives of Alice. . .I think I've told you enough. I don't want to give anything away! :)

The book is a good read, a good story, a story of reconciliation, of courage, of love, and with a happy ending! :) It WAS a little predictable in parts, but not in a bad way! (it was the second book in a series, I had not read the first, but it was not a problem understanding the book without having begun with the first!)

I would suggest this book as a good clean fun read!

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.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Preparing Your Teens for College by Alex Chediak

Preparing Your Teens for College by Alex Chediak is a book that I wondered if I would enjoy or relate to. My children range from young teens to pre-teens, and college seems like a lifetime away!

Well, as I read this book, I realized it is much more than preparing your kids for college, I think it's preparing them for LIFE! This book is full of wonderful ideas and suggestions for parents to help their children thrive and remain true to Christ throughout their early adulthood, college in particular.

There were segments on friends, finances, faith, responsibility, and many more. Great practical suggestions interspersed with lots of stories illustrating the topics and ideas. Things like encouraging Christian friendships and interconnections. Like staying away from financial irresponsbilities. Like doing your schoolwork as unto the Lord. Many, many great ideas.

I guess for me, it is a book that illuminates areas in which I need to be purposeful in these teen years. I always say that our goal with our children is to raise responsible adults, and this book is a helpful tool in that quest.

I would certainly recommend this book, I think it'll be helpful to a wide range of parents.

I received a copy from the pubilsher in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Undetected by Dee Henderson

Undetected by Dee Henderson was a GREAT book to read for fun! :) It is a romance with a predictable (and happy!) ending and it had a lot of science in it that made it even more interesting!!

The main characters of this book are a brilliant scientist and a submarine captain. They do what they do to keep the navy and its personnel safe. The scientist is looking for a husband and the captain for a wife, but they do not think each other would fill the slot (not until later).

It's a story that illustrates good character in men and women. It teaches a bit about submarine life, sonar, and related technologies (or technological possibilities/imaginations). It's a love story, though one-sided for quite awhile. It's a Christian story, clean and encouraging.

I really enjoyed this book. I have not read books by this author before, but after reading this one I will certainly look for more by her! I would recommend this book -- it is a nice long, interesting, enjoyable read!

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

Out of the Depths by E and D Harrell

Out of the Depths is a book about the USS Indianapolis, its sinking, and its survivors. It's the story told by a Marine survivor, Mr. Harrell. It's a book about World War 2 and the horrors of war.

I did not really care for this book. I don't so much like reading about war, yet I tried this book, so take my review with a grain of salt :) My husband enjoys WW2 history and enjoyed this book. Truthfully I didn't even care for the writing style of the book -- I thought it seemed more like reading a transcript of someone's verbally telling their story to an audience, it was a bit choppy and just not what I would call well-written.

If you enjoy WW2 History, you might like to check this book out. It is another telling of the story of the Indianapolis, some of the things that perhaps led up to its tragedy, the horrific end to many of its servicemen, the amazing survival of some of them, the perhaps unjust treatment of some of them after survival, and more.

I did read this book in Kindle form, and there were many issues with that which made the book very difficult to read, hopefully by the time the book is officially released these issues will have been fixed.

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

Saturday, May 17, 2014

A Broken Kind of Beautiful by Katie Ganshert

A Broken Kind of Beautiful by Kate Ganshert is a book about a lot of different things. It is the story of a girl who has lived superficially, as a model for 10 years, who is now faced with a new direction for her life/career. Ivy, the main character, seems to have a great life on the outside, but as the story progresses, she is seen to be a girl without connections, without love, without hope. Her family is all messed up, and her place/connection is as well. I don't want to give too much away, but suffice it to say that all is not well in her life :).

She goes to live with her biological father's wife and work with her on a special project. While involved in this, she faces many decisions and challenges, spiritual and emotional. As I read the book, I felt more and more hopeless where the main character was concerned. Near the end she gave her life to Christ, and begins to live with hope. Read the book, it's really not as abrupt as that may sound :)

One of the segments/themes that I enjoyed in the book was when Ivy confronted another character as he has stated that God would forgive her. She responded, how could God forgive me when He can't forgive you? You see, this other character was living a life of self-punishment for things that he had done in his past; he wasn't living according to the words that he gave Ivy. HE also needed to understand that God forgave him also.

Is it a good book? Yes. Is it an easy, fluffy summer read? no. BUT don't let that stop you!! :) It's an enjoyable book, with several good messages to share/illustrate for our lives as well.

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.

Life Behind the Wall by Robert Elmer

Great historical fiction book for teens/tweens! The book Life Behind the Wall by Robert Elmer is a collection of three different books, intertwined, connected by family and location. The books focus on young teens and their lives in East Berlin, just as the Wall was built, during the time that the Wall was up and around, and during the time that the Wall came down.

It shows the desperation, the poor living conditions, the unfairness of life in one sector versus the other. It shows ideas, and heroism, courageous "regular" people, and their struggles.

I don't want to give too much information about the plots -- they are interesting and interconnected. I will say that my teenaged daughter has enjoyed these books as well as me! :) They are easy to read, clean, informative, and just a good story. There is suspense, fear, sadness, discouragement, hope, and so many other ups and downs.

I will give away a smidgen and tell you that it has a happy ending :) (haha, we all know the Wall came down, but more than that. . .) -- I DO enjoy books with happy endings :)

I would recommend this book, not just for teens/tweens, but for adults as well! My husband is next in line to read this and I'm guessing he will love it. If you like historic fiction, you'll probably like this, but it's pretty recent, too, so if you're not into history, give it a try and I think you'll find that you like it as well!

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.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Death by the Book by Julianna Deering

I just finished reading "Death by the Book" by Julianna Deering. It was not a book I really enjoyed -- I'm a busy mom and like to read but I felt like this book moved along so slowly that I didn't really look forward to having time to read it.

The book is set in (?? not sure, early 20th century maybe??) England and the main characters are folks who seem to live lives of leisure, interspersed with privately investigating crimes. Drew (the main character) has some kind of an "in" with the local police and is key in investigating mysterious murders all around him. He is also waiting for a "yes" to marriage from his love, and is trying to win over her aunt. Multiple murders occur and the police and Drew gather clues to try to figure out who is the killer. The end is kind of odd, but resolved.

I felt that this book was very dry and stilted, and sloooowww moving. I would not really recommend it. It did not have objectionabe parts, just very blah (basically not my style). If you look at other reviews of this book it appears that a lot of people really enjoyed this book, so I'm guessing it's just a case of it's not my type of book. Maybe it is yours :)

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.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Knitted headband pattern

My 13-year old daughter made up a knitting pattern!! :) It's for a sweet headband -- quick and easy to make! Give it a try!

:) Here are the instructions:

(size 10 needles)

Cast on 8 stitches

YO, K2tog, YO, K2tog, YO, K2tog, YO, K2tog

repeat this for every row till you hit your desired length to either tie it in a knot or else end it shorter and attach elastic so that it is stretchy.

Bind off.

YO = yarn over

K2tog = knit 2 together

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Storming the Black Ice by Don Brown

Do you like military suspense books? Here's one for you! Storming the Black Ice by Don Brown is a military-suspense type book, published by a Christian publisher, and though there's little "Christian-y" type stuff, it IS a pretty clean book, not saturated with swearing as some suspense books are.

The book centers over a fight for oil found under Antarctica, claimed by Britain and Chile. They are attacked by forces from Venezuela and Argentina. British military and civilians are captured, and an American/Chilean crew save the day. :) Basically that's it. There are many side-stories and some character development,(oh, and lots of submarine info) but that's the big picture.

There are side stories about loyalty and military service, love and romance, family, faith(well, a little), intrigue, death, and more. Some of the characters are introduced just to die shortly. Others have a peripheral part of the story. The hero (Austin) is a hero of good character, seems like an all-round great guy, wise and militarily cunning.

Some parts of the story seemed a little weird or strained, such as the mystical nun that shows up in multiple places, speaking words of wisdom. Also, Austin's child's mother who flies from Britain to Chile when she hears of his capture in Antarctica -- and then her best friend and child who also come to Chile. Really?? Sounds a bit unrealistic and really quite unnecessary to the story.

The role of the guy from Texas who was Chilean -- a little confusing and kind of peripheral as well.

Despite these kind of irregularities, I would recommend the book. It was an interesting story with a happy ending :) ALSO -- my husband, who's not much of a reader, raced through this book--thoroughly enjoying it. That says a lot as well!

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

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Stillness of Chimes by Meg Moseley

I began reading the book, A Stillness of Chimes by Meg Mosely primarily because of the title. It sounded very. . .surreal, or maybe just quirky. Though the title didn't really seem to personify the story, I'm still glad I read it.

The book revolves around sadness and mystery and some love. Laura has "come home" because of the sad situation of her mother's death and the need to take care of her property. Even at the beginning of the story there are rumors going around town about her father being sighted around the area (her father who died when she was a young girl). Her old boyfriend (who her father was a kind of mentor to) still lives in the area as do many of her childhood friends and associates. The rumors bring up hopes in Laura that perhaps her dad IS still alive, hiding out.

This is a story that you need to read without me giving away too many details. The details and different characters are scattered throughout the book and some are meaningful and others not that much. Some of them are anticipated, others quite a surprise.

So -- did I like it? Yes, pretty much. It was a bit hard to get into, because it was kind of like you just fell into it, but then the story caught you up. As far as pace -- it was a little slow, but it was not toooooooo slow. Ending? The ending was happy-ish, so I liked that :) Predictability? Yes, pretty predictable (but I like that too). Religious? Not too. I thought it was a Christian fiction book, but I don't think it was very Christian-y. It was not objectionable, however. A nice clean read.

Would I recommend it? Yes, if you're looking for an entertaining, not too quick read. I thought it was a nice story.

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.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

It Had to be You by Susan May Warren

Yes!! A great book! (after my last loooonnnggg and disliked book that I read for review (here)) I was SO happy to start into this great Christian fiction book It Had to be You by Susan May Warren.

This book is a wonderfully enjoyable read, with many dimensions -- it follows two major characters through several different plot strands. It is a romance, but not just that. Also touched upon in the book are themes of hope and grace, redemption, letting go, boldness, and faith.

The story follows Eden, a daughter who doesn't see her own potential as herself, one who wants to do right, but is afraid of being hurt. She is the big sister to a hockey star who she tries to take care of and keep out of trouble. She is an obituary writer who longs to write feature articles. Her place in her family is sort of as an observer, or, in her own words, a cheerleader. Other main characters are Jace, a professional hockey player; Sam, a dad and restaurant owner; "John Doe," who is. . .well, an unknown; Owen, Eden's brother; and many others.

I don't want to give you much more information, because it is a really great sweet strong story. I highly recommend it! :) You will want to read and read and read it! (you may stay up much later than you had planned to, just so that you can finish the book, as I did!) :)

I was not familiar with Susan May Warren and her books (here is a pic of her, shared by Tyndale Publisher) After reading this book, I will certainly be looking for more of her books! This is actually in a series of books about the Christiansen family (Eden's family)--I'd love to read all of them! I really enjoyed this author's style of writing, and the book in general!

I would certainly recommend this book! It is an easy, fun read; problems are resolved, and it has a happy ending. :) Just what I like to read! :)

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

Here's a link to a Q&A with the author regarding this book, in case you'd like to check it out. (here)

Thank you to Tyndale Blog Network for the opportunity to read and review this book!!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Praying for Boys by Brooke McGlothlin

Do you have young sons? This book may inspire you to pray for them in distinctive ways! The book Praying for Boys by Brooke McGlothlin is subtitled Asking God for the Things They Need Most. The author reminds us that boys are different than girls in many ways and encourages moms to celebrate their spirits.

The book is a series of short chapters--2 or 3 pages, then a series of Scriptures with a _________ for your son's name to help you pray Scripture for your son. The chapters end with questions "for reflection or discussion."

I think that anything that encourages/reminds you to pray for your children is a good reminder! I do have a son, and he is definitely unique from his sisters and stretches us all in certain ways ;) and enhances our family life for sure!

The author of this book has two sons, aged 7 and 5. I think her prayer suggestions and discussion topics and ideas that she covers are sweet and valid.

The book seems geared toward moms of younger kids (which makes sense I suppose, good prayer habits should begin early!) I have a son who is a young teen--I think many of the narratives in this book are a bit simplistic at this point for us. However, the Scriptures are a great thing to refer to and use, for example, "May ________________ taste the goodness of your Word (Hebrews 6:5)" I think that these were the most valuable part of the book for me. If I had younger kids, I'd probably appreciate this book a little more.

The book would be great for a small group or Bible study of moms of young boys.

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, January 19, 2014

Emma of Aurora (Trilogy) by Jane Kirkpatrick

This is a book review for the book Emma of Aurora by Jane Kirkpatrick; it's a trilogy, all 3 of the books together in one large volume. Since it is a book that I had agreed to review, I feel bad about not reading the entire thing, but


Usually when I agree to read it I go through with it all and read the book even if I don't like it, but I feel that I've wasted enough of my time by slogging through the first book of the volume. Bleh. So -- my review IS my opinion of the book, right? Well, I have certainly read enough to share an opinion.

I really dislike this book. It's hugely long (1153 pages), which would have been awesome had I liked the series! I think it's a great concept, putting all 3 together -- so often when I read one of a series I'd love to have the next book(s) in the same volume, so it's not just the size.

The book is about a religious cult-type community, following the leadership of one man who is seen as close to God. The men take their direction from him, as do the (more silent) women. The main character, Emma, is a young lady who becomes a wife and follows her husband out west to look for new land. Emma is kind of a whiner and deceitful, and throughout the first book at least does not seem to change. They go out west and have an incredibly horrible time, hardships are a never-ending saga, and when the leader of the original colony comes to check it out, his disapproval adds to the negatives. Book 2? ahhhhhhhh!!!! bad to worse!!!! :/ Yikes!!! I don't want to tell you. Emma's life? and family? ---------------------------

The book is long and incredibly slooooooowwwww and b-o-o-o-o-r-r-r-r-ing. So I stopped reading it. Blah. I really did not want to finish it. When I have time to read, I don't want to read this type of writing. I DO feel bad about not reading more than half of the book, but I certainly have an opinion.

On the other side. . .if you look on Amazon or other book review places, people have given glowing reviews for this book! So. . .obviously I'm not the norm when it comes to this book!

Would I recommend it? NOPE!! But apparently other people like it.

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

Friday, January 3, 2014

A Promise Kept by Robin Lee Hatcher

A Promise Kept by Robin Lee Hatcher is a Christian fiction book definitely worth your time to read. It's a wonderful story of life, disappointment, forgiveness, and hope. It's not a romance, but just a story that seems taken from real life.

Allison, the main character, is a newly-divorced empty-nester type woman. She has come to a place at which she never could have envisioned herself and is building a new life in her new normal. Her only daughter is grown and has moved far away and she has moved up to a new small town, to a house left her by her great-aunt.

The book alternates between Allison's story and that of her great Aunt Emma, whose lives seem to have some similarities and many surprises. Allison finds Emma's journals and reads them, learning things about her that she could never have guessed, and observing (through the journals) her aunt's healing and growth throughout her years. Allison's new life develops and she grows in many ways, as God works in and through her.

As with most of my reviews, I do not want to give away any more information about the story line, because I want you to read it! :) It is a very interesting book, a great read, and one which feels kind of "real" and "deep" but not bogged down. It's a story of surprises and, as I said earlier, hope and forgiveness.

I definitely enjoyed this book and would certainly recommend it. It's a good read, but more than that. This is one of those books I'll probably keep and re-read a time or two. Nicely written, enjoyably read. A real-life picture of God working in a normal life.

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