Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Review of Tandem by Tracey Bateman


Six months ago, brutal murders shook the small Ozark town—murders that stopped after a house fire reportedly claimed the killer’s life. Lauryn McBride's family auction house has taken responsibility for the estate sale of one of the victims—the enigmatic Markus Chisom. Submerging herself in Chisom’s beautiful but strange world, Lauryn welcomes the reprieve from watching Alzheimer’s steal her father from her, piece by piece. She soon realizes that centuries-old secrets tie Abbey Hills to the Chisom estate and a mysterious evil will do anything to make sure those secrets stay hidden. Even the man who grew up loving her may not be able to protect Lauryn from the danger.


This book is NOT what I was expecting at all. I thought it was a murder type mystery from reading the back. In a sense, it was. But with a twist. It was a terrific plot line, a suck-you-in read (no pun intended). Why a pun you say? Because it was a story about vampires. Yes, vampires. A Christian book about vampires? Yes, it's true.

There was blood and murder and yes, it was a bit dark, but good in a different sort of way. I was thoroughly confused at the beginning as it felt like there were a bunch a pieces scattered around but nothing connecting them. In the end though, I was surprised that I just read an entire book about vampires. And enjoyed it. I now know probably more than I ever need to about vampire life.

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

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Eyes opened

Last evening was a night like no other. A night I will never forget and a night that opened my eyes.

The kids and I changed into nice, dressy clothes and made our way down to the Union Gospel Mission to meet Ed. We were spending the evening with him and the guys he lives life with every day of his internship at the Men's Shelter.

It was graduation night. A night that is celebrated every month. Honoring the men who have completed their 13 months in the Mission's year program. Ed interns with the Blue Badge group which are the men who are in their last months of the program before graduating.

Ed asked if we would come celebrate graduation with him by having dinner with the guys then heading over to the ceremony at the Town Hall.

I was a bit reserved and hesitant to go. I know some of the guys' stories through Ed. Being beaten as kids. Severe drug and alcohol addictions. Witnessing shootings. Homelessness. Loss of family members. Unsafe homes growing up. Jail. If you can even begin to imagine the worst scenario, it has more than likely happened to one of the guys that Ed sits with every day. I had it all pictured in my head how they would look. Act. Be. Rough. Dirty. Torn clothes. Scary. Not all there mentally. And it made me a bit nervous.

And I was way off the mark.

These are some of the most sincere, kindest, humblest, friendliest, sound-minded, men I have ever met. And well dressed! Suits. Ties. Sport coats even.

Sitting talking with a man from Iowa about snowstorms and his love for photography. I was cracking up at his humor and jokes. He was hilarious!

Listening to a guy from Indiana talk about how much he doesn't miss the ice.

One man showing me the scar on his forehead from when he slipped and fell on the rocks down by the sound while hanging with some sea otters and had to have 40+ stitches.

Shaking hand after countless hand.

They were so glad to meet Ed's family. I lost count of how many guys told me they appreciate Ed and are so thankful for him. They doted over the kids. I had to tell the guys no more candy canes at the dinner table. My purse was already full from the ones they kept giving!

Being in my husbands daily environment was amazing. Seeing him joke with the guys, giving hugs, hearing how much they appreciate him and meeting guys my heart has broken over in the safe confines of my home.

I wanted to squeeze them all in my mini van, bring them home and have a meal around the table with them. Young and old. The one's in the early 20's and the men in their 50's and 60's. Their faith is so much stronger and deeper than my own. They have seen, been a part of and lived horrid things. Things I can not even begin to imagine. But there they were. Living. Growing. Loving. And my husband is a part of them. And he loves them. And they love him.

I told Ed I can now understand why he loves working there so much. It's far from glamorous. But he could care less. They have changed him. How could they not?

Thank you my love for inviting us. For introducing me to some amazing guys. It opened my eyes to what you live every day. And you are exactly where you are supposed to be.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

looking back

As December starts and will quickly end, just as every month has this year, I wanted to write a "looking back" post.

I must say that I have loved this past year of my life. When the year started, I was staring at the mid-30's coming at full speed and wasn't quite sure what exactly to expect.

January was Ed's 40th. Surprising him at school with his best sherpa in tow was the way to start out the year with a big bang. Seeing Ed smile and be able to rest in his friend and have life breathed into him couldn't have been more pure.

On my birthday in February, I went and got my haircut. I decided that this was going to be a memorable year. 10 days later I was on a plane to MI to surprise a friend for her 30th and stay with another friend. A very quick trip, but a very memorable one.

I found myself the day before I came back to WA at a tattoo place with my friend Anne. Inwardly rocking back and forth trying not to let the needle sounds get to me. I was escorted into a room, had a mark put on my nose, said yes, and narrowly escaping passing out, got my nose pierced.

Two weeks later I started going to therapy. I hit a place in life where I was feeling stuck. For years I had felt this way. I had no words, no emotions, not a whole lot going on inside of me. It was one of the best choices I made for myself and even a ways to go yet before I can be done, I have met myself and have gotten to know me, of whom I like.

April found me in a running store, buying a pair of running shoes. Why in the world would I want to do something that gave me shin splints and exploding lungs? With the right kind of shoes and a slow pace, I had met a new love. I'd tie the shoes on after work, pop my ear buds in and hike it down to the lake, run around it and collapse back at my car feeling wonderful. It's a time where I don't think. I can't. I've tried and it's impossible. I just be. It's cathartic. Exfoliating. Cleansing.

The summer sped by with working long hours and then September hit. Ed began his last year. The kids are in school full time, me at work full time and between school and internship, Ed's schedule is a 4 day regular work week. I've had to learn to plan for the following week on my day off and have succeeded and failed. I'm still getting into the groove of this crazy routine knowing that it's going to change again next month.

November was an exciting month knowing we were headed to MI for Thanksgiving for the holiday and my dad's 80th birthday surprise. Keeping that secret was excruciatingly hard. We stayed with friends for two days then headed to my parents to surprise my dad. That Saturday my mom threw him a party and had lots 'o people show up. Even my Uncles from Northern Ireland and my youngest brother from FL. My family was all together for the first time in 10+ years. It was magical.

December 4th. Today. I ran a 5K. Never in my life did I think I would do such a thing. It was A. Mazing. The feel of accomplishing something on this level was unbelievable. It was only 3+ miles, but a grand 3+ miles. Seeing my family all bundled up at the finish line was the cherry on top. I pushed myself (with being sick I had only been able to run twice in the past two months) very hard. It's such a mind over matter sport. And it was worth every single step.

So I look forward to the next year. It's going to be a big one. Ed graduates in less than 7 months (29 weeks to be exact) and what then? Another move? New jobs, schools, area? Back to MI? Stay here? Only time will tell. And I'm so thankful that I don't have to worry about it. We have been praying from day one that we will end up exactly where God wants us and believe we will.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Review of Masquerade by Nancy Moser

Bethany House sent me this complimentary book to review for them.

1886. Charlotte Gleason embarks from England with conflicting emotions. She is headed for New York to marry one of America's wealthiest heirs--a man she has never even met. When her doubts gain the upper hand, she swaps identities with her maid Dora. She wants a chance at "real life," even if it means giving up financial security. For Charlotte, it's a risk she's willing to take. But what begins as the whim of a spoiled rich girl becomes a test of survival beyond her blackest nightmare.

For Dora, it's the chance of a lifetime. She is thrust into a fairy tale amid ball gowns and lavish mansions, yet is tormented by the possibility of discovery--and humiliation. And what of the man who believes she is indeed his intended? Is this what her heart truly longs for?


Loved this book except for a couple things. At the time in the book where the girls switched identities, the author changed the names throughout the rest of the book to their "switched identity" names, but then back to their original names at the end. It was rather confusing as the switch didn't come until almost half way in and so you had to switch your mind too. It was a very creative idea though in having them switch identities. Good book!

Review of Somewhere to Belong by Judith Miller


Bethany House sent me this complimentary book to review for them.

Johanna Ilg has lived her entire life in Main Amana, one of the seven villages settled by devout Christians who believe in cooperative living, a simple lifestyle, and faithful service to God. Although she's always longed to see the outside world, Johanna believes her future is rooted in Amana. But when she learns a troubling secret, the world she thought she knew is shattered. Is this truly where she belongs?

Berta Schumacher has lived a privileged life in Chicago, so when her parents decide they want a simpler life in Amana, Iowa, she resists. Under the strictures of the Amana villages, her rebellion reaches new heights. Will her heart ever be content among the plain people of Amana?


This is the first book in the Daughters of Amana series. A fast read that follows these two girls and their journey of their late teenage years in the late 1800's. One wanting to see the world beyond her village and one entering the village from the outer world. Great writing with some turns in there as well.

Looking forward to reading the second book in this series.

Review of Hearts Awakening by Delia Parr

Bethany House sent me this complimentary copy to review for them.

Life has left few choices for Elvira Kilmer. Her hopes for marriage and a family of her own have long since passed her by, and her arrival on Dillon's Island, nestled in the Susquehanna River, is not of her choosing, either. She needs work. And Jackson Smith needs a housekeeper.

Yet Ellie never imagined the widower would be so young... so handsome.

Jackson, on the other hand, has never met anyone quite so... plain. But he quickly comes to realize that Ellie's presence may solve his own problems--both the rearing of his young boys and the scandal that surrounds his first marriage.

When Jackson offers her something quite out of the ordinary, will Ellie look beyond mere necessity and risk opening her heart?


Set in the mid-1800's, this book speaks of love from the inside out. Not based on a young, beautiful woman, but of a plain woman past the "prime" marrying age. One who was scorned and thought of as a thorn in the side by her extended family. One who has to find work on her own but yet stands up for herself. It's also about a man who loved a woman he couldn't have and married a woman he didn't love, but found out about what true love really is. True love of God and those he created.

A good book that will be read again in the future.

Review of In Every Heartbeat by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Bethany House publishers sent me this complimentary book to review for them.

As three friends who grew up in the same orphanage head off to college together, they each harbor a special plan for the future. Libby Conley hopes to become a famous journalist. Pete Leidig believes God has called him to study to become a minister. And Bennett Martin plans to pledge a fraternity, find a place to belong, and have as much fun as possible. But as tensions rise around the world on the brink of World War I, the friends' differing aspirations and opinions begin to divide them, as well.

When Libby makes a shocking discovery about Pete's family, will it drive a final wedge between the friends or bond them in ways they never anticipated?


Set in the early 1900's, three orphans are embarking on a new stage in life when they head off to college. This book follows the three as they struggle with who they are and who they desire to become. The reader journeys with these three as they learn about true friendship and what it mean's to accept God's love.

Nothing too in depth or cliff hanging in this book, but if you like a good, easy read, this one is for you.

Review of The Falling Away by T.L. Hines

Book Sneeze sent me this complimentary copy to review for them.

He's been running from his calling, his troubles, and his demons. His demons just caught up.

He has a unique name...and a unique problem.

A member of Montana's Crow Tribe, he is called Dylan Runs Ahead. But that name couldn't be more off, because he's spent years running away--from his family, his people, his past...and himself.

Now he's running out of places to run.

He's haunted by his younger sister's disappearance, the recent death of a friend, and his impending sense of being chosen for something of great importance.

But before Dylan can figure out what it really means to be chosen, and whether he's going to embrace the cost of that calling, he's going to have to slow down and face the demons he's been running from. Demons that are all too real...and aren't about to back down.

Enter a world where things aren't quite what they seem...a novel bursting with supernatural suspense, well-crafted characters, and spiritual insights that will defy your expectations and leave you both breathless and hopeful.


Having read a T.L. Hines book before, I somewhat knew what to expect. I wasn't taken off guard when the flash backwards started happening. Or when strange circumstances started taking place. What an interesting read of which I had no idea where it was going or how it would end. Boarding on the line of a Frank Peretti type book, this one had me hooked from the beginning to the end.

Review of Christmas at Harrington's by Melody Carlson

Revell Books sent me this complimentary book to review for them.

Christmas is approaching, and Lena Markham finds herself penniless, friendless, and nearly hopeless. She is trying to restart her life after false accusations landed her in prison, but job opportunities are practically nonexistent.
When a secondhand red coat unexpectedly lands her a job as Mrs. Santa at a department store, Lena finally thinks her luck is changing. But can she keep her past a secret?


This short book was a very sweet, simple read. It showed how there are people who intentionally hurt and those who intentionally love and how both can affect a person on so many different levels.

In this book, Lena has been intentionally hurt and intentionally loved, her struggles through how her past has affected her present and how non-judging love of others helped her move on.

With the holiday season approaching, this book was a simple reminder to be thankful for what you have, for those placed in your life who love you no matter what and for a God who never gives up on you.


Available November 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group
Lots of book reviews coming down the pike. After that, there will be lots to write about!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Review of Within My Heart by Tamera Alexander

Bethany House Publishers sent me this complimentary book to review for them.

This is Book three in the Timber Ridge Reflections Series. "Deep in the Colorado Territory, widow Rachel Boyd struggles to keep her ranch afloat. Faced with a loss she can't afford--and forced to trust the one man she's always avoided--she is about to learn that sometimes the greatest step of faith is taken neck-deep in fear."

A good read all around. With not having read the first two books in the series, it was a stand easily a stand alone book and easy to follow. It was intriguing reading about the beginnings of using chest compressions to restart the heart and how during this time period it was unheard of and even controversial.

The characters were well developed and the story line was smooth and easy to follow. A good book for the shelf.

My favorite part? The opening scene. Bizarre and very attention getting. Loved that part.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

time....

Time just doesn't stop.

Today reading about a friend entering heaven and being made whole again was hard. Not for her though. She was ready.

And time keeps going.

Thursday holding a friend as she sobbed with sadness and grief because she received the police report from when her 3 year old son tragically died eight months ago. She wasn't ready.

Yet time keeps ticking on.

As one friend said yesterday, "There's no second chances with death. That's it. No do overs. It's just so final."

Makes me realize how short life is. So many times we get second chances. And thirds and fourths. And 100th's.

So what do you do with your second chances? Make the most of them? Brush them aside? Or both?

One day we won't have any do overs left.

Seize the day. Enjoy your kids. Love your spouse. Keep asking God those questions (He doesn't mind). Enjoy life. Talk things out. Don't fear. Hug your friends. Kiss your kids. Savor flavors. Smell a flower. Heighten your senses. Tune in to your emotions. Grow. Give. Love. Learn. Challenge.

We're given a short time on this earth.

Live it authentically.

Live it to it's fullest.

It's the only chance we have to live.

review of Emily's Chance by Sharon Gillenwater

Revell Books sent me this complimentary book to review.

Emily's Chance is the second book in The Callahan's of Texas Series. Here is a brief description of the book:

Emily Rose may be in the tiny West Texas town of Callahan Crossing for the moment, but it's just a rung on her ladder to success. Her work at the Callahan Crossing historical society will look good on her ever-growing resume as she attempts to break into the prestigious world of a big city museum curator.


This wasn't one of my favorites. It was hard to get into and I waited and waited for something to happen. Then the book ended. I'm sure it wasn't meant to be a cliff hanger book, but there just wasn't anything gripping.

The book cover kind of hindered the story. Being called Emily's Chance, but with a picture of a guy. A bit confusing and a turn off. I tend to be drawn toward books without pictures of actual people on the front as I want to form my own picture in my head.


Available October 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dolly

I knew the day would come, but I was hoping it wouldn't come so soon.




Dolly has been officially been declared an "end of the bed" toy.







Dolly has been a mainstay at the head of the bed since day one. She was a gift from her Uncle John and Aunt Crystal on the day our baby girl was born.





She has had flying privileges on the airplane flying between Michigan and Washington.










She has been strapped to the backpack on camping trips in Michigan and Washington. She's always packed on short overnight trips. She has always been the side kick.








Not only has Dolly been put aside, the Polly's are heading to the attic as well as their doll house. "I think I'm too old for these now" was the comment.

It's seriously like Toy Story, but in real life and I know the 3rd edition will be here in the blink of an eye.

It's hard watching your baby girl grow up. I don't want her to. I always want to feel her little hand in mind while out and about. To hear her "I love you's" and feel her little arms around my waist no matter where we're at. To see her skip along with nary a care in the world. But I want her to experience so much in life. But I don't want her to have to deal with the harshness and hurtfulness in the world. I want to keep her tender heart safe and protected from all that's out there.

So if you have a baby girl of your own, enjoy and cherish her. She's a rare gem that is so worth investing in. There will come a Toy Story day for you too. Mine consisted of sadness and celebration mixed into one. And a splash of thankfulness too that I get to be the one to live life with and love a Beautiful Woman. Also known as Alina Carlen.

Review of Don't Look Back by Lynette Eason

Revell Books sent me this complimentary copy to review for them.

This is book #2 in the Women of Justice Series. I really enjoyed the first one in the series and the second book was just as good. At times it was a bit squeemish for me, but if you like crime stories, then this is the book for you. A bit predictable with the story line and I knew instantly who the "bad guy" was, but the unexpected twist at the end was perfectly timed and caught the reader off guard.

Twelve years ago, forensic anthropologist Jamie Cash survived a brutal kidnapping. After years of therapy, she has made a life for herself—though one that is haunted by memories of her terrifying past.

She finally lets herself get close to a man, FBI agent Dakota Richards, when signs start appearing that point to one frightening fact—her attacker is back and ready to finish the job he started all those year ago. Can she escape his grasp a second time?


Available October 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Review of The Waiting by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Revell Books sent me this complimentary book to review.

"A multifaceted story about complex people living the simple life, The Waiting is the second book in the Lancaster County Secrets series. Readers will find themselves transported into the world of the Amish and deeply invested in these wonderful characters."

I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in this series and looked forward to reading the second. With a complete different set of characters, this book did not disappoint. Again, simple story line, great writing with little twists here and there. A predictable ending, but good none the less.

Available October 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Friday, September 24, 2010

because

because he knew I was so very tired

because he knew I had a long day and week at work

because he knew I would be up late helping with a book report

because he knew how hard I've been working

because he knew my heart

because he wanted to show me his love and appreciation

because he is so sweet

and it made me cry.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A review of A Hope Undaunted by Julie Lessman

Revell Books sent me this complimentary book to review for them.

The 1920s are drawing to a close, and feisty Katie O'Connor is the epitome of the new woman--smart and sassy with goals for her future that include the perfect husband and a challenging career in law. Her boyfriend Jack fits all of her criteria for a husband--good-looking, well-connected, wealthy, and eating out of her hand. But when she is forced to spend the summer of 1929 with Luke McGee, the bane of her childhood existence, Katie comes face-to-face with a choice. Will she follow her well-laid plans to marry Jack? Or will she fall for the man she swore to despise forever?


If you like lots of romance, this is the book for you. It was a bit too much for my taste as I like a more meaty book rather than a heart-throbbing book. It felt a bit long (maybe because I was waiting for more meat) as well. It took awhile to sort out the siblings of the main character as there were a lot of them. Maybe they are in other books? That would make sense as it seemed like I was supposed to know these people already.

All in all, not one of my favorites.

Available September 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Review of Making Waves by Lorna Seilstad

Revell Books sent me the complimentary copy to review for them.

When spunky Marguerite Westing discovers that her family will summer at Lake Manawa in 1895, she couldn't be more thrilled. It is the perfect way to escape her agonizingly boring suitor, Roger Gordon. It's also where she stumbles upon two new loves: sailing, and sailing instructor Trip Andrews.

But this summer of fun turns to turmoil as her father's gambling problems threaten to ruin the family forever. Will free-spirited Marguerite marry Roger to save her father's name and fortune? Or will she follow her heart--even if it means abandoning the family she loves?



This wasn't one of my favorites that I have reviewed. Pretty straightforward with a predictable plot. An easy read. If you are of the nautical mind, you may enjoy this as the majority of the story revolves around a nautical theme. Personally, it didn't grab me.

Available September 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Friday, September 17, 2010

My Go-Go and "the one"

One of the greatest memories of my "Go-Go" (decoded that means grandma) was her chocolate chip cookies. Big, soft, and yummy. Every time we went to visit her, she had a batch ready for us. Nothing compared to her chocolate chip cookies. Nothing. It was my grandma's signature. She was even buried with a bag of chocolate chips. I kid not.

My mom, bless her heart, just couldn't replicate her mom's chocolate chip cookies no matter how many times she tried (love you mom!). And tried she did. For years. I, as well, have tried recipe upon recipe to find "the one". The one that brings back the memories of Go-Go.

The recipe on back of the Tollhouse chocolate chips just didn't cut it (though that was my grandma's recipe...I think she added an extra ingredient and told no one). I've used this oatmeal recipe with tahini and it's pretty good. More "healthy" than regular chocolate chippers, but not exactly what I was looking for.

Two weeks ago whilst out sale-ing garages, I stumbled upon a lady selling Cook's Illustrated cookbooks (big, huge, hardcover books). I'm a sucker for cookbooks. They are my downfall and I fall hard. I ended buying 3 (a total purchase of $3..can't beat that!). I figured you just can't go wrong with Cook's Illustrated. Love them! I found a chocolate chip recipe and thought, "I should try that one...might just be the one" but then put it on the back burner of my brain. Some days later I was going to try these cookies, but clicked on the link for "thick and chewy chocolate chip cookies" instead and saw that it was the exact same recipe as Cook's Illustrated.

Coincidence? I think not.

So I gathered all ingredients, whipped them up, popped them into the oven, took them out and tried to distract myself while they cooled (WARNING: THERE IS NOTHING HEALTHY IN THESE, but as a treat? You better believe it!). Finally it was time to try one. I was rushed back to Go-Go's house. Sitting at her table with my cookie and milk in her kitchen with the half wall to my back that lead into the living room (I thought a half wall was really neat as well as her laundry shoot in the bathroom that I would throw toilet paper down (clean mind you) to see if it would land in the laundry pile in the basement). I opened my eyes to find myself standing in my kitchen with a pan full of cookies in front of me. These were as close as humanly possible I think I would ever get to my Go-Go's cookies. Not as thin as hers, but the taste? Nailed it on the head.

You need to make these. No, seriously. You NEED to make these. Right now. No, I mean RIGHT now. I've made two batches in the past week (it makes about 18 cookies depending how big you want them) and they didn't last a day and a half. Mixer not even required!! The trick is an extra egg yolk and breaking your dough ball in half and then putting it back together with the pulled-apart side facing up. Read the recipe. It may just take you back to your Go-Go's.


Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Source: Baking Illustrated, page 434)

Makes about 18 large cookies.

These oversized cookies are chewy and thick, like many of the chocolate chip cookies sold in gourmet shops and cookie stores. They rely on melted butter and an extra egg yolk to keep their texture soft. These cookies are best served warm from the oven but will retain their texture even when cooled. To ensure the proper texture, cool the cookies on the baking sheet. Oversized baking sheets allow you to get all the dough into the oven at one time. If you’re using smaller baking sheets, put fewer cookies on each sheet and bake them in batches.

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (10 5/8 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm

1 cup packed (7 ounces) light or dark brown sugar

1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar

1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1-1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1. Adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or spray them with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.

3. Either by hand or with an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Beat in the egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed just until combined. Stir in the chips to taste.

4. Roll a scant 1/4 cup of the dough into a ball. Hold the dough ball with the fingertips of both hands and pull into 2 equal halves. Rotate the halves 90 degrees and, with jagged surfaces facing up, join the halves together at their base, again forming a single ball, being careful not to smooth the dough’s uneven surface. Place the formed dough balls on the prepared baking sheets, jagged surface up, spacing them 2 1/2 inches apart.

5. Bake until the cookies are light golden grown and the outer edges start to harden yet the centers are still soft and puffy, 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time. Cool the cookies on the sheets. Remove the cooled cookies from the baking sheets with a side metal spatula.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

a new look

I decided it was time for a change. Since life has shifted in the past couple of years, coming to my own blog started becoming more a chore than an enjoyment. So hopefully with a fresh look, I'll be visiting more often and continue on the journey of sharing life.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Book Review of Choosing to See by Mary Beth Chapman with Ellen Vaughn

Revell Books sent me this complimentary copy to review for them.

This book was hard to read emotionally. Mary Beth Chapman's heart is on every single page, sharing moments of her life that have shaped her into who she is today. From growing up, to marrying Stephen Curtis Chapman to growing their family, to adopting to losing their baby girl to learning to live again. And so much more in between. I was holding back the tears even in the opening pages which was written by her husband.

It was written with a style that flowed so well. It was easy to track her thoughts and read more like a conversation than a story. It was so personal, so revealing of who she is that one feels left almost feeling like you know her. That you could sit down over a cup of coffee and have a conversation.

It was a very powerful book. But not in the "good feeling" sense. It was hard. And I can't even begin to imagine how hard it was to write, let alone live each day. Mary Beth hits it home over and over again.... life comes comes down to choosing to see God's story in our lives or choosing not to. It doesn't make the pain go away, but He's always there, even when we don't feel like we can go another step.

Available September 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

It's been a very long while since I've posted anything other than a book review (insert: "um, yes, yes it has been).

Vacation came and went and was completely wonderful.

Now we are gearing up for school. Tomorrow is Ed's last first day of his last year of school. I never thought this day would come. Seriously. 10 months from now he will have graduated. Not that I'm counting or anything.

Tuesday is the kids' first days of 4th and 1st grades. It's going to be one very interesting year.

Seems like every so often I post (a non-book post) it's to catch up. But besides catching up, I'd like to take you over to my side bar over there to your right. Go ahead...look. One box has been there for awhile. Book Sneeze is program through Thomas Nelson Publishing where you can review books for them for free. The only "cost" is that you need to write your review of the book (good or bad) on your blog. They even mail the book to you for free and you get to keep it when you're done.

The 2nd box for Swag Bucks is new. I mainly use Swag Bucks as my search engine and often you win points. I also complete surveys on their site for points. You can delve more into Swag Bucks to earn even more points, but using the search engine and surveys has been good for me right now. Wrack up your points and you can trade them in for prizes (I already qualify for a $5 gift card to Amazon). They wrack up fast and it's super easy.

I'm hoping to keep up more non-book posts (more of those to come too). Don't hold your breath though...you may pass out while waiting.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Review of Beguiled by Deeanne Gist and J. Mark Bertrand

Bethany House sent me a complimentary copy of this book to review for them.

Rylee Monroe, a dogwalker in Charleston's wealthiest neighborhood, never feared the streets at night. But now a thief is terrorizing the area and worse, someone seems to be targeting her.

Reporter Logan Woods is covering the break-ins with the hope of publishing them as a true-crime book. The more he digs, the more he realizes this beguiling dogwalker seems to be at the center of everything.


Loved this book! Filled with mystery, whit, twists and turns, it was a great read right up until the end. Deeanne Gist is one of my favorite authors as well and J. Mark Bertrand's books will now be checked out at the library.

A fantastic storyline that follows Kylee during her dog walking jobs for high end clients. What I loved about this book was the mystery surrounding the plot and it not being easily identifiable as to "who dunnit". There were no lagging parts and the characters were well developed. Who would've thought a book about a rollerblading dog walker could be so good!

Review of She Walks in Beauty by Siri Mitchell


Bethany House sent me this complimentary copy to review for them.

As Clara Carter's social debut looms, she's been given one goal: secure the affections of the city's most eligible bachelor. As celebrity's spotlight turns her into a society-page darling, it seems she may just achieve this.
Yet life in the limelight feels hollow--until a man appears who seems to love her simply for who she is. But as gossip backlash turns ugly, Clara realizes it's not just her heart at stake. In a world where wealth and image are everything, is true love too high a price?


Siri Mitchell is one of my favorite authors who is just coming onto the author scene. This book was well written and eye opening as to how the culture may have been back in the 1890's. Living in a well to do culture, having your marriage planned, and all the games that come with whom you are supposed to marry. Corsets, status quo, friendships, opulence, greed and convenience are some topics this books surrounds.

Great book, great author and a quick read.

Review of Sixteen Brides by Stephanie Grace Whitson

Bethany House sent me this complimentary copy to review for them.

With the promise of prime homesteads and fresh starts, sixteen Civil War widows uproot and move out West. But they soon find that more than land is awaiting their arrival.

When the women finally stumble off the train, they are greeted by the local bachelors--eager to propose marriage! As the true motive behind the offered land is revealed, the women muster all the faith, courage, and cunning they can to survive their new circumstances.


An ok, alright book. It was hard keeping track of 16 people from the beginning. I had to keep referring back to the beginning throughout the book to remember who was who. Two chapters in, it was mainly about seven "brides", still a lot of people to remember. Some of the "brides'" histories were more developed than others, even up until the end of the book. I think it was too many main characters in one book to develop well and have it be a good, smooth story line.

I didn't particularly care for it, but know others who have read it that did enjoy it.

Review of The Seeker by Ann H Gabhart

Revell Books sent me this complimentary book to review for them.

Set during the 1860s, The Seeker introduces readers to Charlotte Vance, a pampered Kentucky gentlewoman who knows what she wants. But when the man she planned to marry joins the Shakers—a religious group that does not allow marriage—she is left dumbfounded. And when her father brings home a new wife who is young enough to be Charlotte’s sister, it is more than she can bear.


I was skeptical in reading this book as I shy away from any Amish-type books. This one was different in that it was a group of people called the Shakers, whose religion was very interesting to learn about. After the Civil War, the Shaker communities started dying out, but one still remains today in Maine.

What was also different about this book was that it wasn't about someone wanting to leave their religious community (as most Amish books write about), but someone who was wanting to join the community (with skewed intentions).

I thought the history lesson throughout this book was what made it shine. Especially about the Shaker community and their beliefs.

Available July 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Review of Courting Morrow Little by Laura Frantz

Revell Books sent me a complimentary copy of this book to review for them.

Here is a short overview of the book:

Frantz introduces readers to Morrow Little, who is haunted by the memory of the day her family was torn apart by raiding Shawnee warriors. Now that she is nearly a grown woman and her father is ailing, she must make difficult choices about the future. Several men--ranging from the undesired to the unthinkable--vie for her attentions, but she finds herself inexplicably drawn to a forbidden love that both terrifies and intrigues her. Can she betray the memory of her lost loved ones--and garner suspicion from her friends--by pursuing a life with him? Or should she seal her own misery by marrying a man she doesn't love?


I was thinking this was another fluff book, but I was quickly proved wrong. From the first page, it was heart wrenching and chalked full of emotion. I didn't want to put this book down and ended up staying up until 1:30 in the morning to finish it. Around every corner there was another challenge for Morrow to face.

The main character was well developed throughout the book as well as the secondary characters. The plot flowed well and had me hooked from the beginning. The history was educating as well. I can't even imagine what it was like living on Indian territory. So much hostility between the British, Americans and Native Americans. A completely different life.

I'd highly recommend this book. I'll definitely be reading this one again.

Available July 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Review of Hunter's Moon by Don Hoesel

Bethany House sent me this complimentary copy to review for them.

Bestselling novelist CJ Baxter has made a career out of writing hard-hitting stories ripped from his own life. Still there's one story from his past he's never told. One secret that's remained buried for decades.

Now, seventeen years after swearing he'd never return, CJ is headed back to Adelia, NY. His life in Tennessee has fallen to pieces, his grandfather is dying, and CJ can no longer run from the past.

With Graham Baxter, CJ's brother, running for Senate, a black sheep digging up old family secrets is the last thing the family and campaign can afford. CJ soon discovers that blood may be thicker than water, but it's no match for power and money.


The summary of this book sounded riveting and fascinating. I was excited and looking forward to reading it.

I was sorely disappointed. It took a very long time to get through this book. The plot was very slow moving until the last couple chapters. Secondary characters were interspersed throughout the story line which helped the story move a bit. Towards the end, all of a sudden those secondary characters' perspectives were shared (which weren't at all through 95% of the book). It just read choppy. The last couple chapters were chalked full of suspense that was lacking throughout the rest of the book.

It took a long time to figure out who was related to what character as there was a bombardment at the onset of son's, uncle's, cousins, in-laws, brothers, wives, husbands and sisters and it was very confusing and hard to navigate through. I think it could've been a much better book if it didn't move slowly, have less characters and the suspense was distributed throughout the book instead of at the very end.

Review of Not A Sparrow Falls by Linda Nichols

Bethany House sent me a complimentary copy of this book to review.

Mary Bridget Washburn is tired of running, tired of being haunted by the empty shell her life has become. how in the world did the little girl she once was become a woman on the wrong side of the law?


This was an great book, well written and one that I didn't want to put down. Very emotional and it sucks you right in from the beginning. It's also a great reminder that your lies will catch up with you eventually and that if in ministry, it can run your life and ruin it if you're not careful.

I really enjoyed this book, right up to the end and will stay on my bookshelf to read again.

Review of Touching the Clouds by Bonnie Leon

Revell Books sent me a complimentary copy of Touching the Clouds to review.

Kate Evans is an adventurous and independent young woman with a pioneering spirit. When she leaves her home in Washington State to follow her dream of being an Alaskan bush pilot, she knows it will be an uphill battle. But she never expected it to be quite like this. As the lone woman in a man's world, she finds that contending with people's expectations is almost as treacherous as navigating the wild arctic storms.

This story follows Kate on her flights during the 1930's in the Alaskan wilderness and the feeling of needing to be more. A good, quick read, this 1st book in the Alaskan Skies Series started off this series well and I'm curious as to what the 2nd book will be about.

One thing that caught me off guard was the quick ending. I wasn't expecting it to wrap up in a half page and thought that book two will be a continuation and leaving one hanging, wondering what happens to Kate and her new relationship. Obviously, this could very well still happen.

Looking forward to reading book two!

Available July 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Friday, July 16, 2010

no agenda today

It's been a long while since I posted anything on here. As my boss said yesterday, "If you work in Children's Ministry, your summer doesn't start until after VBS is over." I'm thankful that our VBS wasn't in August!

Today is the first day I've been home in the last 10 days. 10 days straight of working 12+ hours each finally took its toll yesterday at about noon. I thought I had hit the wall on Wednesday, but found yesterday it wasn't the final wall to hit, and it wasn't the wall that broke. Our women's ministry director just happened to be walking by the room I was decorating and asked how I was holding up. The wall crumbled with that one question and I finally cracked and broke. I was purely exhausted and it finally caught up with me. Thankfully she has big shoulders and completely understood and gave me a big hug. Our entire team was spent and by the grace of God, we all still love each other :)

I have the most amazing co-workers as they forced (literally) me to take a break yesterday and took over my job of putting together the bins for Sunday. I was able to sit outside and eat lunch (Mary's leftovers that she graciously thrust into my hands). It was just the break I needed to finish that last day of our Kids' Summer Adventure. My boss sat us all down and told us to take next week off and only do what absolutely needs done. I'll be able to take Tuesday through Saturday off to spend with my family whom I have missed so very much.

My amazing husband has held down the home fort and has taken care/played with the kids. His patience is mind blowing as he has held it together every day of me not being here and has been so supportive and encouraging of me and working. I couldn't have made it as long as I did without his support. Thank you my love!

The week was a huge success, tons of kids, amazing volunteers and kids hearing about Jesus. The set was beyond amazing. The weather was perfect. I loved hearing those 3 year olds to 4th graders sing at the top of their lungs as a huge group. Yelling "Let's GO!" after the Bible point was spoken every single time. The excited buzz in the air each night as kids rotated from station to station, laughing and having a blast. It was worth all the hard work and long hours.

It's 1:30 and I'm still in my pajamas. No agenda. No set to tear down and put together a new one (had to do that each night for the Bible story room). No walking from building to building to make sure everything is set for the evening (I think I walked miles over the week). Nothing to do but sit. And make pb&j sandwiches for lunch.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Review of A Love of Her Own by Maggie Brendan


Revell Books sent me this complimentary copy to review for them.

This is the 3rd book in the Heart of the West series, but stood by itself very well. Here is a little synopsis of the book:
It’s here, in Lewiston, Montana, where April McBride travels to attend her brother’s wedding. Still cautious after a broken engagement, she fully intends to guard her heart. One look around the small mining town convinces April that doing so won't be difficult—just a bunch of dusty shops, bad service, and ill-bred cowboys.


A very well developed book that didn't completely lose you by being the 3rd book in the series if you hadn't read the first two. In this story the main characters were well defined and the main characters from previous books were introduced as secondary.

This was a very easy read, flowed very well and had a good story line. Not a whole lot of suspense or "I wonder what's going to happen in the end", but I don't think it was intended to be like that.

Overall, a good read.

Available June 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Friday, June 18, 2010

trickery

My kids enjoy trickery. They try to get the other one to look at something and then say, "made you look!" The other night this was one of their tricking sessions while at the table.

Sam: Alina look! A hummingbird! Quick! Look!!! HA! Made you look!

Not missing a beat Alina said: Sam look! It's Jesus! Made you look!

I about fell over laughing. The both cracked up as well. I love hearing their banter and the funnies that come from their teasing and talk.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Review of This Fine Life by Eva Marie Everson

Revell sent me this complimentary copy to review.

What a tender-hearted story. The reader follows Mariette Puttnam through the early years of the 1960's right after her graduation from high school. A story about finding faith and love, experiencing heart ache and learning about growing up.

Here is a small clip from the back:
This Fine Life is a stand-alone novel by popular author Eva Marie Everson that transports readers to small-town Georgia in 1959: Mariette Puttnam has just graduated from boarding school during the summer of 1959. When she returns to her privileged life at home, she isn't sure where life will take her. More schooling? A job? Marriage? Nothing feels right. How could she know that the answer is waiting for her within the narrow stairwell of her father's apparel factory, exactly between the third and
fourth floors?


For a quick, heart warming story, pick up this book.

Available May 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

and still going strong!

15 years ago at about this time, I was standing in a church packed with 400+ people getting ready to say "I do" to the man standing across from me. We were so, so young. I was only two years into college and Ed had a full time job at the YMCA. There was so much I didn't know at the age of 20, let alone so much I didn't know about myself.

Little did I know what the journey would look like for us.

And what a journey is has been.

We have been together over half my life now between dating and marriage and learning life with you, my love, has been amazing. I couldn't ask for a better companion along this road or a better friend to journey it with. There have been valleys I never thought we would make it out of alive. The mountain peaks have been filled with so much adrenalin it was hard to come down. The peaceful meadows of when life was quiet. And riding the roaring rivers where life seems to move so swiftly we barely see where we've been or where we're going.

I'm looking forward to the next 15 years and beyond. The areas that haven't been traveled yet. The mountains we haven't seen. The part of the river that is around the next bend. The valleys where we can encourage each other through.

I'm glad we haven't arrived yet. There's so much left to live with you. Happy Anniversary my love!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

the beginning


This week marks our 15th wedding anniversary. When I tell people how long I've been married, it's quite humorous to see their reaction. Last week one coworker said he thought I wasn't even 30 yet. The week before another said she thought I looked like I was in college.

I thought it'd be fun to share some of our story from way back when.

The picture you see is from my Senior Banquet (not prom mind you. That wasn't allowed). Ed and I had started dating the summer between my Junior and Senior year. Of high school. We had been making eyes at each other for a couple years before Ed finally asked me out.

He was wisely advised by his friends not to ask me out when he wanted to as I was just 15 years old. So two years later he did. But I informed him that he had to ask my dad first for permission.

That sure didn't deter him. He went out to lunch with my dad and asked permission of which was granted.

Our first date he feigned cold hands while sitting at an outdoor MSU play and slipped them into mine. Yeah...he's sneaky like that. He also blatantly lied and said for dinner he was going to get a sandwich from Quality Dairy (if you know Lansing, you know QD..think 7-11, but also having ice cream. And milk in a bag. I joke not.) We did end up at QD, but also in the same parking lot was a little restaurant called Swenson's. He headed that direction while I headed to QD. Yeah...he's sneaky like that too.

From the first time he told me he loved me (in which I threw up), I continued to get sick in his presence. It took months to recover from that. I even broke up with him one day, calling the next saying I made a mistake.

He claimed he was going to marry me to his mother even before we started dating. Yeah...he's persistent like that.

So many stories in our courtship. All of which make me smile.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

labels

Whilst in the store the other day, I was reading labels to Sam on cereal (showing him how much sugar is in the sugary cereals as he and his sister always ask for them and I always say no) and noticed a little thing called BHT that is added to the packaging material to preserve freshness. It also appears in things like potato chips, which tend to be high in fat, along with baked goods and a wide variety of other foods.

Onto Google I went and found, according to good 'ole wikipedia, the definition.

First off, I can't even pronounce this additive. Butylated hydroxytoluene. Exactly. It's an antioxidant food additive.

Then I read what else this is used for as an antioxidant additive. It's used in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, jet fuels, rubber, petroleum products, electrical transformer oil,[2] and embalming fluid.

Yum! And it's great that I have unopened boxes of what I thought are healthy cereals sitting in my cupboard with this on the label.

As with everything else out there, debate and controversy ensue with one side saying it's safe and others saying it can increase tumors and malignant cancers.

I just want to live on a plot of land with a milk cow, some chickens, maybe a pig and a garden, hang my wash on the line and churn butter. I know. It's harder than it sounds, but doesn't it sound grand?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Last week I was yet again reminded how much we have.

For our anniversary coming up, we splurged and bought a new bed. Ed was waking up more tired than he was when going to bed and in serious pain each morning.

The same day we bought the bed, I received an e-mail from one of my coworkers stating a man in the congregation was working with a couple from Pakistan who needed a bed. The wife is 7 months pregnant and the husband is looking for work. I thought in my wee brain, "we have a bed that's still in good condition."

Two of the custodians at church came and got it from our house on Monday and took it to the couple. One of the guys took pictures and video to show me their journey.

He said, "this is their couch. She slept there while her husband slept on the floor." He then showed me their bedroom and the bed on the floor. There was about a foot of space to walk on one side of the bed and that was it. No dressers or anything else could fit in the room.

He also said, "they washed out their two cups just to give us a drink." Two cups. That's all the dishes they had. I received an e-mail later from the man and from a woman that is working with them also, saying they absolutely LOVE the bed and are so very thankful for it.

Here I sit on my comfy chair surrounded by bookcases full of books and a piano against the other wall. My kitchen is chalk full of dishes. Do I really need all this? There is a couple out there with a bed, a couch and 2 mugs.

What can you do to help someone? Goodwill is great and helps a lot of people, but there's just something about seeing who you are giving to that pierces the heart.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Again, it's been a while since I've written anything other than a book review. Life has a way of flying by without realizing it. By the time you stop and look back, weeks have come and gone.

So here we are, the 2nd week of May. The year is almost half over! Time...where have you gone? The kids have four weeks left of school.

Then summer. We're hoping to travel to lots of places this summer and experience the West Coast. Our list keeps getting longer and longer of places we keep finding.

Ed has started summer classes and I'm pretty excited I get to take one of the classes with him. Child and adolescent counseling.

This is the last week in my current position at work. Next Monday the new boss starts. Hopefully this week I find out what that means for my hours. I already have something new with helping one of the satellite churches with their children's ministry, so that'll be a new learning experience to add to my belt.

I can tell my noggin is weary as this is the most stumbly post I've ever written.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Review of Irene Hannon's In Harm's Way


Revell Books sent me this complimentary book to read and review.

In Harm's Way is book three in the Heroes of Quantico series. I was a bit hesitant to review this book as I haven't had great success with books further along in a series. But this one was a great read all by itself. I could tell who the other books were about as those characters overlapped into this book, and they were more minor characters which was really nice.

This book was a great mystery even though you knew who the suspect was from the beginning. The reader had the inside scoop and was able to watch how the suspect was found and caught. How the main characters put the pieces together. And there was still the sense of justice at the end even though the reader knew the conclusion.

A great read and an author that I would definitely read again.

Available April 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Review of A Million Miles In A Thousand Years by Donald Miller


Thomas Nelson sent me this complimentary copy to read and review for them.

This book sat on my shelf for a few weeks before I decided to pick it up. I'm not a big non-fiction fan, and I have heard that this was a good book, but I had to be in the right spot to be ready to be challenged.

To start out, this was an amazing book. A very, very easy read in the sense that you are listening to someone talk. The flow of this book made complete sense and the reader could easily track Donald's train of thought. His sense of humor would pop up unexpectedly and I would literally laugh out loud. This is such a down to earth book, both heart and life compelling.

Donald makes you think about your life as a story being written. He says, "If I have a hope, it's that God sat over the dark nothing and wrote you and me, specifically, into the story, and put us in with the sunset and the rainstorm as though to say, Enjoy your place in my story. The beauty of it means you matter, and you can create within it even as I have created you."

The part that resonated within me the deepest and still sticks to me like thick molasses is this (it's long, but oh so good):
Growing up in church, we were taught that Jesus was the answer to all our problems. We were taught that there was a circle-shaped hole in our heart and that we had tried to fill it with the square pegs of sex, drugs, and rock and roll; but only the circle peg of Jesus could fill our hole. I became a Christian based, in part, on this promise, but the hole never really went away. To be sure, I like Jesus, and I still follow him, but the idea that Jesus will make everything better is a lie. It's basically biblical theology translated into the language of infomercials. The truth is, the apostles never really promise Jesus is going to make everything better here on earth. Can you imagine an infomercial with Paul, testifying to the amazing product of Jesus, saying that he once had power and authority, and since he tried Jesus, he's been moved from prison to prison, beaten, and routinely bitten by snakes? I don't think may people would be buying that product....It's hard to imagine how a religion steeped in so much pain and sacrifice turned into a promise for earthly euphoria. I think Jesus can make things better, but I don't think he is going to make things perfect. Not here, and not now.
He hit the nail right on the head.

I'm ready to read this book again. Such great nuggets of wisdom that totally make sense in life. I would recommend this to anyone to read. Go out and buy it! It's a must have for your personal library.

Review of Too Close To Home by Lynette Eason


Revell Books sent me this complimentary copy to read and review for them.

What a great book! I'm becoming more and more of a fan of mystery books, especially ones that I can't figure out "who done it" until the end.

Here's a short overview of the book:

In this thrilling first book, readers meet Samantha Cash, who is the FBI's secret weapon. Her methods are invisible, and she never stops until the case is closed. When missing teens begin turning up dead in a small Southern town, Samantha is assigned to help homicide detective Connor Wolfe find the killer. s they get close to an answer, the case becomes personal. The killer seems to be taking an interest in Connor's 16-year-old daughter, who thinks her dad is getting way too protective.


I had a hunch who The Agent was (the bad guy), but not until well over half way through. It was a hard book to put down as it sucked the reader in right from the beginning. The characters were well developed and the story line flowed smoothly.

The teaser at the end for the 2nd book was just as rivating and it'll definitely be a book I will want to read.

Available April 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Review of Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen


Bethany House sent me a free copy of Sense and Sensibility to review for them.

This is a bit different version as it is an Insight Edition which has notes along the margins. Trivia, notes, and inspirations to enhance the story.

A great classic as any Jane Austen book is. I really liked the comments about the movie, the little blips about Jane Austen's life and their humorous remarks about the characters.

It took a bit longer to read with all of these side comments, but they did enhance the story. I didn't care for the inspiration notes as they seemed to almost force the story towards God (which isn't a bad thing, but just distracting with an already true classic story).

I liked this book overall and it'll hold a spot on my bookshelf.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Year two is coming to a close. I never ever thought it would ever come. I really, truly didn't. But it is upon us. Ed has one more class on Wednesday and then year two is complete (though he does have to take some summer intensives, but his 2nd year will be "officially" done).

His internship for the fall has been confirmed and he's ready to start.

After this summer he has 18 credits left.

18 credits.

And then he's done.

I can't even imagine what that is going to feel like for him, for me or for our family. Or what life is going to be like after that (we still do have another year...).

We dream of what is to come and before we know it, he'll be walking down the aisle and receiving his diploma for all of his hard work.

And then what? (that's the question everyone asks).

Good question.

Monday, March 22, 2010

awakening

Amidst other firsts happening this, my first year of mid 30's, I've taken up running. I have to say that I heart it. I thought I'd never be able to run as I get horrendous shin splints even when walking or hiking. I found out at the running store that I have unbelievably high arches which causes the pain. And after purchasing the most amazing shoes on earth with the highest arch support possible, it's wonderful. It's like walking on a cloud of marshmallow yumminess. Course, that would totally defeat the purpose of running.

The last time I ran I didn't have any shin splint pain. Now granted, I've only run twice, but the days I can't run, I wish I could. I yearn. Long. Drool. ok..not that bad. Even when it's raining outside. Even after a long day of work. It's so theraputic. I pop my ear buds in after work, crank up my Black Eyed Peas (and other assorted fast paced, loud music) and head down to the lake for the three mile trek.

Then my friend Katie threw a challenge at me. You see, she's a runner. Has run marathons. Many marathons. She was SO excited when I told her I started running. She said I should run a marathon and my first question was, "how long is it?" I balked at her answer and said NO WAY! (yes..that loudly too) But she wasn't about to give up heckling me (she really didn't heckle me...ok maybe a wee heckle). A week later she asked "How about a half marathon?" My question: how long is it? 13 miles. That sounded a little more doable. She even said I don't have to talk to her while running. So I agreed.

June 26th is my day of death.

I asked about training and was informed to start with a mile. I laughed out loud and explained that the longest I've run is 3/4 of a mile and about died. But she waved it off as no biggie.

I have 3 months right?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Review of A Distant Melody by Sarah Sundin


Revell Books sent me this complimentary book to review. A Distant Melody was the first novel for author Sarah Sundin.

A tale set during WWII about two of the least likely people who find friendship through corresponding across the ocean. Heartache, loss of family and friends and discovery of one's self are waves of themes throughout this book.

A great book overall. A bit long in places, but for a first novel, it was good. This is the first book in the series Wings of Glory and I would definitely read the second.

Available March 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Falling in love

This is not an official book review. I didn't receive this book from a publisher, but as a Christmas gift to our family from the school my husband attends. It has been collecting dust on the bookshelf for the past three months. This past week my friend and mentor, Jane (who is awesome), brought it with her to our meeting and read a story from it. It triggered something in me. I went home that night and blew the dust off of it.

We started reading it before bed. Alina has asked every night if we can read a story from the Bible and end up reading at least three. The language it uses is so appealing to kids my kids' age. It easily explains the lineage of Christ. In every story there is a reference to why Christ came and The Secret Rescue Plan. It has been a huge springboard in discussions about Christ and God and being in God's family.

I also think it's a great time to read it with Easter coming, though we'll more than likely finish it before then at the rate we're going.

I also don't think it's just for kids. With reading the stories out loud, it's seeping into my soul. This is a very good thing as my soul needs it.

So if you are looking for a kids' bible, I highly recommend The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Review of Abigail by Jill Eileen Smith


Revell Books sent me this complimentary book to review.

This is the 2nd book in the "Wives of David" series by Jill Eileen Smith.

Abigail's hopes and dreams for the future are wrapped up in her handsome, dark-eyed betrothed, Nabal. But when the long-awaited wedding day arrives, her drunken groom behaves shamefully. Nevertheless, Abigail tries to honor and respect her husband despite his abuse of her.
Meanwhile, Abigail's family has joined David's wandering tribe as he and his people keep traveling to avoid the dangerous Saul. When Nabal suddenly dies, Abigail is free to move on with her life, and thanks to her brother, her new life includes a new husband--David. The dangers of tribal life on the run are serious, but there are other dangers in young Abigail's mind. How can David lead his people effectively when he goes against God? And how can Abigail share David's love with the other wives he insists on marrying?


This is easily a read-alone book and was a very good read. I found it quite interesting how the author wove in some of the Psalms that David wrote right into the conversations/thoughts he had throughout the book. It also brought to light how hard it may have been for all the wives David had, how they may have interacted with each other and their feelings in having to share a husband. It flowed well and kept you captivated from beginning to end.

Available February 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Review of Swinging on a Star by Janice Thompson

Revell Books sent me this complimentary copy to review.

Bella Rossi's life is nearing perfection. She's got the perfect guy, she's running a successful business, and she's about to plan her most ambitious wedding yet, a Renaissance-themed fairy tale come true, complete with period costumes and foods, horse-drawn carriages, and even a castle. There's just one hitch. The best man just happens to be Brock Benson, Hollywood's hottest and most eligible bachelor. Oh, and did we mention he's staying at the Rossi house to avoid the paparazzi?


This is the 2nd book in the series "Weddings by Bella". It was a cute story and a very easy read. But it seemed very slow. At times I had to force myself through chapters to get to the next one. There was no anticipation of what was going to come next. I know it wasn't meant to be a mystery, but there really wasn't any "grab your attention" at the beginning to keep you wanting more.

Available January 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Have you ever seen God move in your kids? And you had not a single thing to do with it? To see your son in tears because of a song he was listening to about Jesus loving him. To hear your daughter say she prayed about how much to give to a school mission trip and take out a large bill she's been saving to give to it.

It's a very humbling feeling. To see that God feverishly loves my kids and makes himself known without me standing there. That he whispers to their young hearts and they know! Why should I even be surprised that God wants to be present in my kids' lives? They are his children too. Just like me. He loves them so much more than I ever could. And wants the best for them. Just like me.

Funny though how as an adult I have to work hard at hearing God. Make it a habit to listen for his voice. My kids don't. They just know.

Child-like faith ring a bell?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Review of The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen

I received this free copy of The Silent Governess from Bethany House to review.

What a great book! Totally unexpected ending. When I first opened the book in the mail it looked a bit daunting due to the length (438 pages to be exact). But boy, does it go fast!

Yes it's a romance, but woven in there is a mystery that keeps the book moving smoothly. Set during the nineteenth-century in England, this captivating story has unexpected twists and turns right up until the last page. The characters are developed well and there are just the right amount to keep track of.

Here is a little snip-it about the book:
"Believing herself guilty of a crime, Olivia Keene flees her home, eventually stumbling upon a grand estate where an elaborate celebration is in progress. But all is not as joyous as it seems."

A great read, one of which I will most likely pick up and read again.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Dreams That Won't Let Go by Stacy Hawkins Adams

Revell Books sent me this complimentary book to review.

"Indigo Burns is excited. Her wedding preparations to the man of her dreams are under way, her photography career is a success, and her family seems to be doing better than ever--all except her brother Reuben, who nobody has seen in years. But that's about to change."

This is book 3 in the Jubilant Soul Series. Totally a read alone book as well. I had no problem picking up where the story continued and easily jumped in with both feet.

I've read better books and worse books. The story line was easy to follow and the book was easy to read. Bitterness, heartache and forgiveness are the main components of the plot. A very easy, enjoyable read.

Available January 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Eating out of the cupboard

Last month I took up the challenge of making meals out of what I had in the pantry for the entire month. I sat down and made a month menu based on what I had in the cupboard and then went to the store for the supplement items. I have to admit that it wasn't a 100% success as I did end up at the store throughout the month, but I can say that my cupboard is much more bare than it was a month ago. I cooked much more than I have since starting my job 10 months ago. I love being in the kitchen, so getting the creative juices flowing again didn't take long. Healthier meals were cooked compared to the previous month which makes one feel so much better.

But I'm finding there's one problem. An empty cupboard. A much more empty cupboard. Not only the cupboards, but my fridge too. Makes for a little bit more of a food budget this month, but it was a good exercise overall. And getting into that habit has paid off.

The other night Ed had defrosted some ground chicken and I was going to grill hamburgers (I heart grilling), but realized after I was home, there were no buns. Menu changed to tacos. Threw in a can of black beans and corn, stretched the tacos into the next day for lunches too.

Today on the way to pick kids up from school I thought, "I need to stop by the store to pick something up for dinner" which was immediately followed by, "wait...what do I have at home? I have ground turkey in the freezer and a bag of red potatoes that need used. Shepherds Pie!" So grocery store trip was scratched off the list and I spent $0. Throw in some veggies (not IN the shepherds pie Anne...just in case you were wondering if I was feeling ok) and there's dinner!

So it CAN be done with a little brain work, some extra time and for me, creating a menu for the month (sure saves $$ when I'm shopping off a list instead of off my brain).

A Review of Songs of Deliverance by Merilynn Griffith


Revell Books sent me a complimentary copy of Songs of Deliverance to review.

Here is a short blurb about the book: "Four childhood friends have been torn apart by the mistakes and tragedies of their past. Now as adults, they are reunited in their hometown of Testimony, Ohio, where they sort through the messy, real-life struggles of secrets kept hidden, lost loves and unknown futures."

Unfortunately, I had a hard time with this book. I felt like I was jumping into the middle of a story I was expected to know. The characters were already developed and it took a long time to piece together what had happened "previously". It was hard to sync with the flow and by the end there were all sorts of characters it was a bit confusing. There seemed to be a lot of emotional trauma with the four main characters of which there was no sense of relief. I felt very weighed down by the end even with everything wrapping up happily. Not that every book has to end with happy, sun-shiny feelings. This ending seemed to try to do that, but it fell short.

I found out after finishing this book that it's a sequel, but is also considered a stand alone novel. Which then, made sense. For some books this works. For this one, it didn't.

Available January 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.