Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Snow Day Favorite Things

A few of my favorite things...
  • Lazy mornings with nowhere to go, which means coffee and devotions by the fireplace
  • The way snow looks
  • Red noses and rosy cheeks
  • The kids' faces while they're sledding
  • Pancakes made by my husband
  • Watching a movie with the family
  • Chicken corn chowder for lunch
  • Playing Super Mario on the Nintendo with Brianna while the boys napped
  • Having a sledding competition with Stephen (even though I lost)
  • Listening to Brianna scream every time she went down a hill
  • Watching Brianna figure out that she enjoyed sledding backwards
  • Hunter making tracks for almost an entire half hour by dragging his sled behind him
  • Making snow angels
  • Eating snow cream
  • Hunter's idea to put sprinkles on the snow cream
  • Pulled pork barbecue in the crockpot all day, making the house smell incredible
  • Lots of Uno and Old Maid
  • Making sugar cookies in the shapes of snowmen and snowflakes to commemorate the event of an official snow day

The day BEFORE the snow day... anticipating the snow's arrival:

Okay, now it's officially snowing. Bundle up!

Oops, not used to taking pictures with gloves on.

Snow angels: Mine's on top, Bri's is on the left and Hunter's is on the right

The obligatory (and delicious) snow cream:

The cookies: (highly decorated thanks to Grandma presenting us with lots of varieties of sprinkles!)

Brianna sledding - 11 seconds

Hunter sledding - 25 seconds (Beware - at the end I say "Yay!" and it's super loud!)

Hunter sledding - 15 seconds

Brianna sledding - 25 seconds (watch out - another big laugh from me at the end!)

Brianna telling our "plan" for tomorrow - 21 seconds (she was so adorable I just had to video tape it but then we got sidetracked by her cuteness)

Brianna just being her cute self - "The Plan" take two - 2 minutes, 15 seconds

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Stepping Out in Faith Review

I was very interested to read the book "Stepping Out in Faith: Former Catholics Tell Their Stories" which was edited by Mark Gilbert. I know several former Catholics who go to my (Baptist) church. I know their stories and they're all very interesting stories, so I figured this would be a great book to read. Honestly, though, I wasn't blown away by it. It was a "fine" book, but it wasn't very compelling. The stories didn't really keep my attention.

I think this book would be wonderful for a person of Catholic faith who is questioning leaving the church, and wondering about the differences in Catholics and Protestants. It may answer a few questions for them. I think it is awesome that the book includes stories from both genders, all ages, and from all over the world. Every one of these people has had such a different experience and life journey, but they've all kind of led to the same place. That's interesting to me.

Thank you to Cross Focused Reviews and Matthias Media for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

10 Days Without Review

I have to be honest. I wasn't really interested in reading "10 Days Without" by Daniel Ryan Day. I didn't know anything about it and I didn't know what to expect. In fact, the only thing that was of interest to me was the fact that Day graduated from Appalachian State (my college school) and seemed to be right around my age.

I am so glad I read this book. Day set out to challenge himself and others to become intentional Christians. He sacrificed different things for 10 days and blogged about the challenge. He gave up things such as shoes, his legs, and even human touch. Meanwhile, he created fundraisers and brought attention to great organizations such as International Justice Mission, prisons, domestic violence shelters, and Joni and Friends among others. Every sacrifice he made was intentional and really propelled people towards noticing these organizations and the people they service.

Check out his blog here and the 10 Days Without website here. This is an awesome book to read and it's really motivational. I guarantee you it will start you thinking. Of course, his whole point is that he wants us to stop thinking and start acting! I highly recommend all Christians read this book, and then go out and do something.

Thank you to Waterbrook Multonah for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Calling Review

I just finished reading "The Calling" by Suzanne Woods Fisher. She is one of my favorite writers of Amish fiction.

This novel is the second in a series - The Inn at Eagle Hill. I actually did read the first in the series, "The Letters". After reading this one, I can't wait to read the next in the series. Unfortunately, I believe this is one series that you need to read in order to fully understand. There was a lot going on in this book that related to the first one. I had not read the first one in several months and it took me quite a while to catch back up to the back story.

If you have read the first one and are wondering whether or not you should read this one, the answer is that you should. It's a great story with lots of elements - mystery, romance, well-written, interesting characters, and fun to read. Fisher is a great author and I enjoy every book I read by her.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity and Revell for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

Enter Today | 1/20 - 2/8!
The Calling Suzanne Woods Fisher

A Promise Kept Review

I have read several of Robin Lee Hatcher's books in the past and I've always enjoyed everything I read by her. "A Promise Kept" was no exception. It was a really interesting story which intertwined a woman's present struggles and her great-aunt's past struggles.

Allison's story is probably pretty common... her and her husband had the perfect life until he started drinking. One day she finally gave him an ultimatum. Unfortunately he chose the drink over his life with her. As she moved on with her life she struggled a lot with being a Christian and a divorcee. Then she moves into her great aunt's old house and finds her old journals. As she reads the truth of Emma's life, she finds out a lot about herself.

This is a great story about a spiritual journey and it's very well-written and will keep your interest. And yes, there's a happy ending for everyone involved. Great story, great book, I wouldn't expect anything less from Hatcher. Highly recommend this book.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity and Thomas Nelson for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

Enter Today | 1/20 - 2/6!
A Promise Kept Robin Lee Hatcher

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Prepared for a Purpose Review

I received Antoinette Tuff's book "Prepared for a Purpose" in the mail yesterday, and finished it easily last night. I remember last August when I was driving alone, listening to the radio, and heard that there was a shooting at a school in Georgia. Normally I would not have paid attention, but when the county was named, I was familiar with it. It turned out that a gunman walked into a local school, and while he did shoot at police officers, he was kept calm by one of the school staff members. That staff member was Antoinette Tuff, and this is her story.

The book goes back and forth between what transpired in the school office between Tuff and the gunman, and the events in Tuff's life that she felt had happened to prepare her for that day. Her story - both the past and the event in August - were a really interesting, compelling read. She has overcome so much adversity in her life. And although she has had many ups and downs, it is so evident that they all led up to this one day in August, and the effect she was able to have on this one gunman. She continues to point to God throughout the book and the events in her life, and I think it is awesome. It is so true, in my opinion, that there are no coincidences, and so I really do think it's amazing to see how God worked throughout her life. I believe He will continue to use her as well.

I thought this was a great book. The story was fast-paced and I just didn't want to put it down until it was done. I think I would like to hang out with the author. I could just hear her speaking throughout the words in the book and I really respect her. I highly recommend this book.

Thank you to Bethany House for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Unstoppable Review

When I saw the opportunity to review Nick Vujicic's new book, Unstoppable, I made sure to get that book before all the copies were gone!

If you've never heard of Nick, go to his website and check out his story. He was born with a disease which caused him to have no limbs when he was born. As you can imagine, because he never had limbs, this didn't really present a problem to him. He mastered everything as it came - just did it a little differently than you or I would do it! But the older he got, the more it was pointed out to him that he was "different". His story of bullying is saddening, and it was so bad it led to a suicide attempt when he was just eleven years old. By the grace of God he realized he was put here for a greater purpose. Now he travels all over the world spreading the word of God and telling people that they CAN have a bright future.

This book is a compilation of Nick's stories and stories from people he has heard from all over the globe. He touches on bullying, suicide, his marriage, financial problems - all kinds of issues that he has personally dealt with and has placed in God's hands.

I love this guy. He's funny, he's a great speaker, he is real, he's honest. It's an easy read because he's so interesting and down to earth. I highly recommend that everyone read this book!

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

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Carolina Gold Review

I enjoyed the recent novel "Carolina Gold" by Dorothy Love. I had never read a book by Dorothy Love before and I was not sure what to expect from this one.

This is the story of Charlotte, who goes home to South Carolina after her father's death. She is determined to revive his rice plantation and make her living from growing and selling rice. Unfortunately, the war has left the country in ruins, and due to slaves going free, there is really no one to help her with the farm. She has to take on odd jobs to make ends meet, and it turns out she is a fabulous tutor/teacher.

This is a historical romance novel and has just about all the elements you could ask for - romance, history, and drama. If you enjoy this genre of book, it is well-written and I believe you would enjoy it.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity and Thomas Nelson for providing me a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

Enter Today - 1/4 - 1/14!
Dorothy Love Carolina Gold

The Painted Table Review

"The Painted Table' by Suzanne Fields is a book that is very haunting in it's tale of redemption. I suppose it is realistic - the telling of a dysfunctional family life that passes down through generations. Emotional scars that wear on the children in the story. Mental instability that affects women throughout the story.

This book was a difficult read. I really ached for the children in this story. It is a multi-generational story that I just wanted to end because of the difficulties in the lives of the characters. But then, finally, Saffee, one of the children in the story, finds hope. She finds hope at church and she finds hope in friends outside of her home. She finds hope in a young man who truly brings her out of the mess of her family life.

This story isn't sappy. Although the story is heartbreaking, it's a great read. It's just emotional. And beautiful. Very well-written. And I do recommend it to readers.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity and Thomas Nelson for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

Enter Today - 1/2 - 1/18!
Suzanne Field Thomas Nelson The Painted

Unspoken Review

I have read a couple of Dee Henderson's books in the past, so I definitely wanted to read her book "Unspoken". I was absolutely not disappointed.

Unspoken is a book of mystery, suspense, and a little taste of romance. It is an intense book. You are introduced to Bryce Bishop and Charlotte Graham right away, but you don't even learn everything about them until the end of the book. Charlotte is a survivor of a kidnapping, and she doesn't discuss the details with anyone. Her life is complicated when she receives an inheritance from her grandfather. Bryce is able to step in to help with some details, and the story goes from there.

For fear of ruining the book I don't want to talk about the plot too much. I will say this - although I didn't know a lot about some of the topics in the book (particularly coin collecting and finances), I was never disinterested. The story is intriguing. You can just see Charlotte beginning to open up to Bryce, which is very difficult for her. You are rooting for them the whole story.

I highly recommend this book. It has everything you desire in a book.

Thank you to Bethany House for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

The Dancing Master Review

I recently reviewed "The Dancing Master" by Julie Klassen. This is a Christian historical romance novel set in the 1800's. I have to say, I believe Klassen had to do a whole lot of research in order to write this book. I did not even know what to expect, but it turns out that historically, dancing instructors were called dancing masters. This novel is the story of a dancing master who, through personal circumstances, comes to reside in a town that does not even allow dancing.

This novel is full of mystery and romance. I enjoyed the story but I have to admit that there were a lot of twists and turns. I sometimes got a bit confused trying to figure out all the relationships and keeping up with all the different things going on with each character. It was a good story but it wasn't the kind of story you can just half-concentrate on while reading. Not saying that's a bad thing of course. I'd recommend it to those of you who enjoy historical fiction.

Thank you to Bethany House and Litfuse Publicity Group for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

Enter Today - 1/6 - 1/23!
Julie Klassen The Dancing Master

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The God Puzzle Review

I love this book that I was able to review. It is called "The God Puzzle: How the Bible Fits Together to Reveal God as Your Greatest Treasure" by Valerie Ackermann. It is a workbook for kids ages 7-12, so a little too old for my kids, but they still enjoyed looking through it with me.

The workbook is filled with scripture, puzzles, fun facts, and sections for kids to fill out on their own. Lessons include characteristics of God, teachings on the prophets, what is worship, how to study the Bible, and tons of other areas that kids this age really can learn to build that strong foundation. It is a great workbook to go over with your child. It will bring up great conversations. I highly recommend this book for parents with children in this age group. I recommend getting one per child so you can all do them together but they can write in personal things as well.

Thank you to Higher Life Publishing and Litfuse Publicity for the opportunity to honestly review the book in exchange for a copy.

What Once Was Lost Review

"What Once Was Lost" by Kim Vogel Sawyer is a Christian historical romance fiction novel that I finished reading in just a few short days. I have read a few of her books in the past and always enjoyed them, and this one did not disappoint. Set in the 1800's, Christina Willems is a single lady who runs an asylum for the poor, against the judgment of her board of directors. When the house burns down she goes through all kinds of hassles with them trying to shut her down. Throughout the novel she grows in her independence and also finds some romance. I really enjoyed the plot of this book and found the characters and story enjoyable.

Thank you to Waterbrook Multonah Press for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

100 Books of 2013

In 2009, I pledged to read 100 books over the course of 2010. Here's my list of 107 books in case you're interested.

I did it again in 2011 (why not?). Here's my list of 109 books.

The tradition continued in 2012 where I read a whopping 144 books! Here is my list from that year.

This year I was hoping to read 125 but I didn't quite make it. I'm not upset though, I read some really great books and still broke 100. Here's my list for this year:

  • "What Once Was Lost" by Kim Vogel Sawyer (104)
  • "The Sure Cure for Worry" by Kent Crockett (103)
  • "Christmas Peril" by Margaret Daley and Debby Giusti (102)
  • "Memoirs of the Way Home: Ezra and Nehemiah as a Call to Conversion" by Gerald M. Bilkes (101)
  • "A Simple Christmas Wish" by Melody Carlson (100)
  • "The Calling" by Suzanne Woods Fisher (99)
  • "Carolina Gold" by Dorothy Love (98)
  • "The Painted Table" by Suzanne Field (97)
  • "Christmas in Apple Ridge" by Cindy Woodsmall (96)
  • "Stones for Bread" by Christa Parrish (95)
  • "Snow on the Tulips" by Liz Tolsma (94)
  • "My Hope is Found" by Joanne Bischof (93)
  • "A Marriage in Middlebury" by Anita Higman (92)
  • "Related by Chance, Family by Choice" by Deb DeArmond (91)
  • "Critical Reaction" by Todd M. Johnson (90)
  • "Unspoken" by Dee Henderson (89)
  • "The Glory of Heaven" by Betty Malz (88)
  • "Dear Mr. Knightley" by Katherine Reay (87)
  • "Forever Friday" by Timothy Lewis (86)
  • "Why Christ Came" by Joel Beeke and William Boekestein (85)
  •  "To Know You" by Shannon Ethridge and Kathryn Mackel (84)
  • "Daybreak" by Nathan Ward (83)
  • "The Golden Years" by Christopher Bogosh (82)
  • "Bag of Bones" by Stephen King (81)
  • "A Hope Deferred" by J. Stephen Yuille (80)
  • "Behind the Shades" by Sheila Raye Charles (79)
  • "Chasing Hope" by Kathryn Cushman (78)
  • "Made to Last" by Melissa Tagg (77)
  • "Sweet September" by Kathleen Bauer (76)
  • "Before the Dawn" by Kathleen Bauer (75)
  • "Red Like Blood" by Joe Coffey & Bob Bevington (74)
  • "Fired Up" by Mary Connealy (73)
  • "Finally Free" by Heath Lambert (72)
  • "Running for Cover" by Shirlee McCoy (71)
  • "INsourcing: Bringing Discipleship Back to the Local Church" by Randy Pope (70)
  • "The Passionate Mom" by Susan Merrill (69)
  • "Whispers on the Dock" by Evangeline Kelley (68)
  • "By Grace Alone" by Derek Prince (67)
  • "Compassionate Jesus" by Christopher Bogosh (66)
  • "Telling Yourself the Truth" by Backus and Chapian (65)
  • "Reinventing Leona" by Lynne Gentry (64)
  • "Hidden Steel" by Doranna Durgin (63)
  • "Falling Star" by Diana Dempsey (62)
  • "Homefires" by Emily Sue Harvey (61)
  • "Paradise Valley" by Dale Cramer (60)
  • "A Simple Change" by Judith Miller (59)
  • "The Letters" by Suzanne Woods Fisher (58)
  • "The Gospel Call & True Conversion" by Paul Washer (57)
  • "Life Without Limits" by Nick Vujicic (56)
  • "Is God Anti-Gay?" by Sam Allberry (55)
  • "A Dyeing Shame" by Elizabeth Spann Craig (54)
  • "Days of Elijah" by R.T. Kendall (53)
  • "I Heart Bloomberg" by Melody Carlson (52)
  • "A Purse to Die For" by Melodie Campbell and Cynthia St-Pierre (51)
  • "Pretense for Murder" by Karen Abrahamson (50)
  • "Memoirs of a Geisha" by Arthur Golden (49)
  • "Praise Habit" by David Crowder (48)
  • "The Joy Luck Club" by Amy Tan (47)
  • "Sweet Masterpiece" by Connie Shelton (46)
  • "Angels in the Fire" by Dann Stadler (45)
  • "The Zippered Heart" by Marilyn Meberg (44)
  • "The Someday List" by Stacy Adams (43)
  • "Fools Rush In" by Janice Thompson (42)
  • "Undeniably Yours" by Becky Wade (41)
  • "Catch a Falling Star" by Beth Vogt (40)
  • "When I Lay My Isaac Down" by Carol Kent (39)
  • "The Pact" by Jodi Picoult (38)
  • "Prayer Warrior Mom" by Marla Alupoaicei (37)
  • "Waking Up in Heaven" by Crystal McVea (36)
  • "Tedd and Todd's Secret" by Fernando Trujillo (35)
  • "Darkness Before Dawn" by Ace Collins (34)
  • "God's Good Design" by Claire Smith (33)
  • "Through the Fire" by Shawn Grady (32)
  • "The Woman I Am Becoming" by T. Suzanne Eller (31)
  • "Bitesize Biographies: John Newton" by John Crotts (30)
  • "Bound Together" by Chris Brauns (29)
  • "Ties that Bind" by Heather Huffman (28)
  • "Get Back Up" by Sheryl Giesbrecht (27)
  • "Crucifying Morality" by R.W. Glenn (26)
  • "The Wedding Gift" by Lucy Kevin (25)
  • "Avenged" by Janice Cantore (24)
  • "Rachel's Tears" by Darrell Scott and Beth Nimmo (23)
  • "When the Game is Over It All Goes Back in the Box" by John Ortberg (22)
  • "Night Fall" by Nelson Demille (21)
  • "Radical" by David Platt (20)
  • "Everybody's Normal Till You Get to Know Them" by John Ortberg (19)
  • "Witness in Death" by J.D. Robb (18)
  • "God is More Than Enough" by Tony Evans (17)
  • "The Second Thief" by Travis Thrasher (16)
  • "True Love: Engaging Stories of Real-Life Proposals" by Eva Marie Everson (15)
  • "Heaven's Lessons" by Steve Sjogren (14)
  • "Battle Cry for a Generation" by Ron Luce (13)
  • "On Every Side" by Karen Kingsbury (12)
  • "When Joy Came to Stay" by Karen Kingsbury (11)
  • "Where Yesterday Lives" by Karen Kingsbury (10)
  • "First Hand Faith" by Bruce Wilkinson (9)
  • "The Year of Living Biblically" by A.J. Jacobs (8)
  • "God's Gift" by Dee Henderson (7)
  • "Unstoppable" by Nick Vujicic (6)
  • "Fall Girl" by Marybeth Smith (5)
  • "Classmate Murders" by Bob Moats (4)
  • "Do or Di" by Eileen Cook (3)
  • "Delivery" by Diana Prusik (2)
  • "Clutter-Free Home Living: The How-To Guide" by Eugenia Ore (1)
Favorite authors of 2013: John Ortberg, Nick Vujicic, Paul Washer, Karen Kingsbury

Favorite new authors read: Christa Parrish, Shannon Ethridge, Sam Allberry, Paul Washer

Book that summed up my feelings better than I could: "Is God Anti-Gay?" by Sam Allberry

Books I highly recommend for everyone:  "Radical" by David Platt, "Prayer Warrior Mom" by Marla Alupoaicei, "The Gospel Call & True Conversion" by Paul Washer, "The Passionate Mom" by Susan Merrill

Any good reads of YOURS this year? I'd love to have the titles and authors of some of your favorite reads so I can look into them!