Monday, July 28, 2014

Captured by Love - A Book Review

Jody Hedlund has done it again!  She has captivated me with another beautifully written historic romance novel.  Captured by Love is the third book in the Michigan Bride Collection series.  You do not have to read all three books in order to know what is going on.  The one thing that the books have in common is their setting is in Michigan, however, all of these books are so great I don't think you want to skip any of them!

Captured  by Love takes place during the war of 1814 on the Mackinac island.  The British have control of the island and America wants the island.  In their attempts to gain control of the island they block supplies from coming to Mackinac.  The people of the island are starving.

Angelique lives on the island with her stepfather who is very controlling and likes to punish her by locking her in the attic.  She is betrothed to Jean but is in love with his brother Pierre.  Pierre is a fur trader and when he comes back to the island as a spy sparks begin to fly between him and Angelique.  Angelique knows that he will not stay on the island and she does not want to leave the land that she loves.  She also battles with staying true to her betrothed.

Pierre has recently come to know God, but still struggles with knowing what the right thing to do is.  He finds himself helping both the British and the Americans and soon finds out you can't ride both sides.  As the war begins and his betrayal is revealed his own life becomes endangered.

Jody Hedlund is an amazing author who knows how to paint beautiful pictures with her words.  She has such an elegant writing style!  I love the playfulness that she brought out with Pierre and Angelique and I truly felt as if I was sitting on the sidelines watching the story unfold before my very eyes.  I can't wait to see what Joday Hedlund has in store for her readers next.  Whatever it is I m sure it will be great!

***This book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for my review.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Super Stitches Sewing - A Book Review

Super Stitches Sewing is A Complete Guide to Machine-Sewing and Hand-Stitching Techniques by Nicole Vasbinder.

I was so excited when Super Stitches came in the mail and I got even more excited as I began to flip through the pages.  This book is loaded with so much information and beautiful illustrations that are easy for even the beginner sewer!

I have been sewing for about 10 years and most of what I know I have taught myself.  I usually stick to the basic stitches and I knew that I was not getting the full benefit of my sewing machine.  Super Stitches has opened up a whole new world for me.  I finally "get" what some of the other features of my machine do.  The book not only gives step by step instructions it shows step by step pictures so you can actually see what you are supposed to be doing.  An example of some of the things shown is how to do a zipper, button hole, hems and smocking and that is just to list a few.

In addition to all the great sewing machine techniques the book also covers hand stitches.  I was super excited about this feature as well.  I remember a few hand stitches from home economics, but that was quite a few years ago (I'm not telling how many).  Like the machine stitching the hand stitching section is complete with instructions and pictures.  A few examples of the stitches to be learned are the ladder stitch, darning, basting and the whip stitch and there are many more!

Another feature that I loved about the book is that the author includes a section on tools and equipment. This section describes the different kinds of needles and their uses for both machine and hand stitching, it shows and describes the different pressure foots and also the different kind of threads and their uses.

Whether you are just starting out as a seamstress or you have years of experience this is an amazing book that I know I will be referring back to for years to come!

As a homeschool mom I must add that this book is a great resource for teaching home economics as well!

***This book was provided to my by the publisher in exchange for my review.

Love Letters from the Edge - A Book Review

Love Letters from the Edge


by Shelly Beach and Wanda Sanchez

I think it is safe to say that whoever you are, wherever you live, no matter what your circumstance in life, at some point you, or someone close to you has been affected by a traumatizing event.  Maybe it was abuse, (do you know that it is reported that one in every four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime) or rape, maybe a medical trauma or the loss of a loved one.  There are so many things that can shake our lives and turn them upside down, leaving us feeling abandoned, afraid and alone.

I have experienced my share of "trauma".  I was a one in four.  I'll never forget the night that me and my kids fled in fear of our lives from our home.  The abuse had been going on for years, but that night....that night was different.  There was an eerie feeling in the air and things had been really bad for days.  I can honestly say that I have never been so scared before or since in my life.  I had been warned that he was going to "take care of us" once and for all and that night it was all getting ready to explode like never before.  In our pajamas with no money we fled, certain that if we stayed we would not survive.  We spent that night in a parking lot.  My nine year old slept in the back seat while me and my fourteen year sat in fear with each passing car, afraid that he was coming after us.  That night was a turning point in my life.  In the days following, with the help of family, a restraining order was issued and we relocated.  

After fourteen years in a tumultuous relationship I finally had the courage to stand on my own two feet.  It has been 7 years since that night and I can honestly say I am happy.  My kids are happy and we have come out stronger, but I would have never survived if it had not been for God, an awesome family and lots and LOTS of prayer! 

You may have a similar story, or maybe it's not a story, maybe it's your reality.  The events of your life may make my story pale in comparison.  Whatever the case I can tell you that there is a God that loves you.  He loves you so much that He wants to carry you through this dark time.  I know you feel broken, that you feel that no one cares.  That you are tired.  Just tired.  I know that feeling.  I know the feeling of crying till you can't cry anymore and then somehow the tears start falling again.  Feeling worthless.  That it is your fault.  That you deserve it.    You believe the lies you've been told.  "You're worthless, mental, crazy.  No one will believe you, you'll never make it on your own".  But I have one word for you...HOPE.  There is hope.  There is a BETTER LIFE.  There is HEALING.  I KNOW the God who can give it to you!  

If you are going through a difficult situation, something that has left you feeling depressed, anxious and maybe even considering self harm I encourage you to pray, to find someone to talk to, read the Bible and maybe the book Love Letters from the Edge can help you!  It is a 12 week book of meditations that will help you with some of your questions and frustrations that you are feeling.  The book has activities such as journaling, letter writing, art projects and more that will help you in your healing process and also build a stronger relationship with God.  

The book is written from two perspectives.  The first half of each entry is a letter from the brokenhearted to God.  The second half is God's love letter of response to his wounded child who has been hurt by sexual abuse, violence, abandonment, victimization, or other painful life events.  

I'd like to share a couple excerpts with you from the book.

From the wounded individual to God:

This thing called life has taken a toll on me God.  I'm beyond exhausted.  Weary, bone tired.  I don't feel like I can take another step.  Everywhere I turn, life pounds away at me, and I'm panicking.  With each passing day, I'm less able to pull myself together.  

I long for calm and quiet.  I struggle to remember what peace felt like.  I try to shut out the chaos in my head and listen for your voice, but exhaustion tells me to give up.  You seem so far away, and I just can't seem to hear you...

From God to the wounded:

Dear Child,  I feel the sting of sweat when it streams into your eyes.  I know the ache of illness, the burn of disappointment, and the exhaustion that suffocates sleep from you spirit.  I know the pounding of your heart when you cannot catch your breath.  I know the weight of weariness that bows you back and saps your spirits.  

I know because I took on flesh and blood, sweat and sorrow, betrayal and bruises to sit beside you in the dirt and the darkness, even when you did not see my face or my tears for you.  I know because I exchanged my strength for your weariness....

This is just a small sample of what is inside the pages of this book.  I encourage you to read and see for yourself that God loves you.  When all else fails, God never will.  He can be your rock!

This week you can get Love Letters from the Edge in ebook form for a special discounted price.  Just click HERE.

***This book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for my review.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The New Colored Pencil - A Book Review

The New Colored Pencil by Kristy Ann Kutch is a great resource book for the aspiring artist.  It is full of beautiful pictures of artwork created with colored pencils.  I am fairly new at creating pictures with colored pencils and I was simply amazed at some of the pictures in this book.  It really is amazing what you can do with pencils.  The book is very informative and gives so much insight to the average person (like me) who is wanting to get started in making beautiful artwork.

The author give lots of information on the tools needed and I had no idea there were so many choices not only in pencils but in the surfaces that you can use.  The book takes you step by step through the techniques it takes and the whole book has broadened my knowledge greatly!

The book has ten chapters and is divided into three sections.  Part One is on Wax-Based Traditional Colored Pencils, Part Two is on Water-Soluble Colored Pencils and Part Three is on Wax Pastels and Combining Colored Drawing Media.  If you are an art student, a seasoned artist or just a novice like me I think this book will be a great resource in your library!

About the Author:  

Kristy Ann Kutch has taught more than two hundred colored pencil and watercolor pencil workshops to artists and students nationwide.  She is the author of Drawing and Paining with Colored Pencil, and is a contributor to several colored pencil publications, including The Best of Colored Pencil, Creative Colored Pencil, and Colored Pencil Explorations.   Her work has appeared in International Artist Magazine and Pratique des Arts.  She also authored a DVD called Colored Pencil Landscapes: Beyond the Basics.

***This book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for my review.

The Loving Kitchen - A Cookbook Review

The Loving Kitchen is a cookbook by food blogger Leann Rice and is chocked full of delicious recipes that your family is sure to love!  

When it comes to cookbooks I am pretty picky.  I want recipes that I will actually use with ingredients that I actually have.  Is that really too much to ask?  I think not!  The Loving Kitchen offers exactly what I always look for in a cookbook.  Not only is it full of delicious recipes with ingredients that I usually have on hand it is centered around family and God.  It has Bible scriptures throughout and little notes from the author on how to make your kitchen a loving, family atmosphere.

Extending hospitality to family and friends through the recipes you make can be a blessing to both the giver and the receiver.  This great cookbook is an awesome resource to help extend the love of God to others.  Even if the only people you cook for is your immediate family this cookbook will help you show your love and appreciation with the meals you prepare for them.

It has recipes for every course including:  Morning Fare (breakfast), Bountiful Breads, Starters and Salads, Soups and Sandwiches, Entrees, Vegetables and Sides and Desserts.  I loved all the categories but I was particularly fond of the Vegetables and Sides section and the Dessert section.  I get tired of making the same side dishes and this cookbook has some great new recipes that I know will be a hit with my family.  The dessert section has so many yummy recipes that I literally want to try them all!

I hadn't heard of Leann Rice up until I got this cookbook, but I will be looking up her blog now and her cookbook is one that I will be using for years to come!

***This book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for my review.

All for a Sister - A Book Review

All for a Sister by Allison Pittman is the first novel I have read by this author.  It is the third book in the "All for" series but you don't need to read them in order as the only thing that is similar is the fact that they are all set in the roaring 20's.  I was excited for the chance to read this book for review.  I have never read a novel set in the 20's and thought it would be a pleasant read.  I don't like to give negative reviews but I just did not care for this book.

First of all I must say that one thing that really bugs me is when a book is classified as a "christian" novel but has a story line that is not christian material.  There are no curse words and that is good, but there are a lot of references of adultery.  I do think the story could of been written without a lot of that and it really irks me when I get a book from who I think is a christian author only to find it full of worldly sins.

Second of all, I really disliked the set up of the book.  It jumped around so much that it kept me confused most of the time.  It jumped form character to character and time period to time period.  I found it confusing when it went from past to present to past again and again.  Some of the chapters were set up like a movie script and I didn't care for that either.

Thirdly, it was fairly predictable.  I pretty much figured out where the story was going after just a few chapters and the longer I read the more I realized that there were no surprises.

The story is about Celeste and Dana who have found out that they are sisters.   Celeste's mother was an evil woman who put Dana in jail at the young age of 12 years old.  Now Dana is 32 and out of prison.  Celeste's mother has died and her inheritance has been split between the two girls.  Also left is a 100 page confession of sins and regrets.  As Celeste and Dana share their stories and begin to get to know each other a movie producers wants to make a film of their lives.  Each chapter jumps between Celeste, Dana, the producer and the mother's confession.

***This book was provided to my by Tyndale Publishing in exchange for my review.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Garden Joys

I am starting to see the fruit of my labor and I am loving it.  We are having plenty of fresh produce straight from the garden to go with our meals each day!  Tonight I fried up our first zucchini and I've been picking green beans like crazy!  The cucumbers our tasting so yummy and everything in the garden looks so healthy.  The corn looks great and the tomato plants are loaded with green tomatoes.  This year I have been using Epsom Salt on the tomato plants and I really think it is making a difference.  We have caught four raccoons and we know there is at least one more that is out-smarting us, but hopefully we can get him soon too.  I am so happy that the garden is producing so well this year especially since last year was not so great (major raccoon problems that destroyed my entire garden).  

This year I have tried freezing some of my green beans.  This is a first for me and I hope they turn out good.  (I plan on doing a post on the procedure soon)  I've frozen 3 gallon bags so far and I picked so many beans today that I think I'll get the pressure cooker out this week.  The cucumbers are just starting to come on but if my plants produce well I would like to can some relish.  I've never done that before, but I love trying new things and I'm sure it will turn out great!

Lots of Kale!  So easy to grow and so yummy!

Lots of green beans to pick!

My little "field of dreams"!

SUNFLOWERS!!!!  Can't wait till they bloom!

Four Weddings and a Kiss - A Book Review

I love to read well written short stories.  In Four Weddings and a Kiss you get just that.  Four well written short stories by four different authors.  It's a great way to sample some writings from different authors.  The authors featured in the book are Margaret Brownley, Debra Clopton, Mary Connealy and Robin Lee Hatcher.  Each novella is set in the west and features a young lady and gentlemen who seem mismatched for each other, but somehow find love and make it to the alter.

The book begins with four pastors sitting around a fire and they begin to share stores of some mismatched couples that they've married and the four stories shared are the stories of the pastors.  I thought it was a cute way to start the book out and a neat way to connect all the stories.

The first story was Spitfire Sweetheart by Mary Connealy.  I knew I would like this story because I really like Mary Connealy writing's and you know what?  I was right.  It was a cute story about rough and tough Maizy who was raised by her pa and would rather wear britches than dresses, and about Rylan a young rancher who get's hurt because of Maizy.  Her pa decides that Maizy will take care of Rylan until he is better - while dressed and acting like a woman.

The second story is A Love Letter to the Editor by Robin Lee Hatcher.  It is about Molly who is a columnist for her father's newspaper.  Her father hires Jack to edit the newspaper and Molly resents his position, but it doesn't take long for sparks to fly between them.   I really didn't care for this story.  For some reason I couldn't seem to connect with the characters and the story line.

The third story was my absolute favorite!  A Cowboy for Katie by Debra Clopton is about Katie who lives on a ranch with her dad, but when a tornado hits their ranch and destroys her home and kills her father Katie seems to go over the edge.  Most of the town people thinks she's crazy and Katie is beginning to wonder the same thing.  She hires Treb, a cowboy with wanderlust to rebuild her home and the sparks that fly between them are undeniable.  This book is filled with compassion and romance that had my heart fluttering.  I am definitely going to be looking in to more of Debra Clopton's books as this was the first one I have read of hers.

The fourth and final story is Courting Trouble by Margaret Brownley.  This story is about Brock, a lawyer who is called to defend Grace aka the black widow.  She is on trial for the death of her husband.  This is her third husband and the other two have also died in a suspicious way.   The law states that you our innocent until proven guilty, but this is the wild west and not everyone plays by the rules.  I thought this was a cute story and would of been even better had it been longer.

I would definitely recommend this book if you like quick reads and are a fan of any of these author's!

***This book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for my review.