Monday, September 28, 2015

Taming the To-Do List - Book Review

Do you ever wish there were a few extra hours in the day.  Do you ever feel like you will never get your ever growing to-do list completed.  You're probably constantly adding to it and most of the time left feeling drained and inadequate.  I'm sure that most moms can relate.  Trying to juggle everything can be exhausting.  Glynnis Whitwer's book is a great resource in helping any busy person prioritize their life.  I have to say I was a little skeptical at first.  I mean, for a busy person to stop what they are doing and read a book about to-do lists...wouldn't their time be better spent working on completing their list rather than spending time reading about it.   

The author is right on target with this book.  She shares practical advice and lessons that she has learned.  She discusses procrastination, prioritizing and so much more.   We feel like we have to answer every email, text, tweet and facebook comment and many times we put off doing the really important stuff and  at the end of the day we beat ourselves up and feel inadequate.  This book gives so much helpful advice on taking back your schedule and focusing on doing your best work rather than hurrying through just to mark it off the list.  

Even if you are super busy I think it would be well worth your time to sit down and read Taming the To-Do List.  A matter of fact if you are super busy you NEED this book!  Not only will you feel refreshed and uplifted you will have so many helpful pointers to help you be the best you, you can be each and everyday!  

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

Ties That Bind - A Book Review

When it comes to Amish fiction Cindy Woodsmall is my favorite author.  I have read all of her books and she never disappoints!  Her newest book, Ties That Bind, may be the best yet!  It is the first book in The Amish of Summer Grove series and I absolutely loved it.

The books starts out in an Amish birthing center where one women has just given birth and another is about to, when a fire breaks out.  It's complete chaos.   The story then jumps forward 20 years and we get to know Ariana Brenneman, a sweet Amish girl who loves her family and the Amish life.  Her family has always struggled financially and she longs to help them out by starting a cafe.  Her twin brother Abram is helping her raise the money.

Quill Schlabach left the Amish five years ago when he ran off with Ariana's best friend Frieda.  Ariana was devastated and still struggles with bitterness.  When she unexpectedly runs into him she knows he is there to help someone she loves leave the Amish community.  Ariana is desperate to protect her family and devises a plan of her own.

Despite how it looks, Quill has spent his life protecting Ariana and when her parents come to him for help he begins to learn of a secret surrounding Ariana that will turn her life upside down.  They are finally moving forward and forming a friendship and his involvement with "the secret" can destroy everything that they have rebuilt.

The book is fairly predictable at times, but that did not take anything away from it for me.  The characters are well developed and despite everything that has happened between Ariana and Quill I couldn't help but root for their relationship.  If I had to find one negative thing about this book it would be that I have to wait for the next book to see what happens next!  I seriously can't wait!  There are so many unanswered questions I have about this story and I can't wait to see what happens next in the lives of the characters I have already come to love.

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

The Memory Weaver - A Book Review

The Memory Weaver by Jane Kirkpatrick is a true story based the life of Eliza Spalding Warren, the daughter of Henry and Eliza Spalding.  Eliza's parents were missionaries to the Indian people and when Eliza was a young child she was kidnapped by the Cayuse Indians during a massacre. Eliza is now an adult, married and has children of her own.  Her husband wants to move to a new territory, the same territory where Eliza was held captive.

Eliza is haunted by memories of her past and she begins searching through her mother's diary to see how her her mom dealt with what had happened.  She begins to realize that things did not happen the way she thought they did.

When I read the prologue of the book, I just knew I was going to love this book!  It was so well written and automatically pulled at my heart strings.  Unfortunately, for me, the book soon lost it''s appeal.  It was rather slow paced and it jumps from present to future.  It goes from the mother's diary, to Eliza's memories, to present time, and at times I was confused.  

I did like the early story of Eliza and Mr. Warren.  Maybe because I'm a romantic at heart, but I can't even classify this book as a romance novel.  It's more of a memoir.  Even though it did not really suit my interest, I do think it is worth giving a chance.  The author pens the novel very well and I love her style of writing.  I just couldn't get into the story.  

***Thank you to Revell publishing for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Deadlock - A Book Review

Deadlock is the third book in Diann Mills series called FBI: Houston.  I did not realize this until I finished the book, so it is definitely not necessary to read the books in order.  However, I was so engaged in this book that I am anxious to go back and read the other two in this series!  If you are a fan of fast paced murder mysteries then this is a great book for you.  Once I started I didn't want to put it down.  A lot of mystery books are easily pegged, but this one kept me guessing.  There were so many possible "bad guys" and so many twists and turns that I never knew what was going to happen next.  Plus, if you read very many of my reviews you know I am a fan of christian fiction and this book is a great example of how a murder mystery can be classified as a christian book!  Diann Mills did a fantastic job.  I had not read any of her work prior to this book, but this one definitely won't be my last.

The book begins with Special Agent Bethany Sanchez starting her new position with the FBI in violent crime and what better way to start her new position then with a murder to solve.  Her new partner is Special Agent Thatcher Graves.  Thatcher previously was behind putting Bethany's brother in jail, plus he has a reputation of not playing by the rules and being a lady's man.  Bethany goes by the book and her and Thatcher couldn't be more different.  Even though they clash on a lot of things there is a definite attraction that either of them can deny.

With more murders happening and they all have similarities, it looks like Bethany and Thatcher are looking for a serial killer.  Now their own lives are being threatened, but the case seems to be deadlocked.  To see how it all turns out you will have to read for yourself!

This book has so much to offer!  Page turning suspense, romance and faith!  It's fast paced and will keep you riveted through to the last page!

***Thank you to Tyndale Publishing for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest review.

Only with Blood - A Book Review

Only with Blood is a novel about Ireland in the 1940's.  There is a lot of history interweaved into this fictional story and I learned some things about Ireland that I didn't know prior to reading this book.  It touches on the struggle that Ireland faced during the Second World War between the Irish and the British.  This was the main thing that attracted me to this book.  I have always been interested in Ireland and I was anxious to read a novel rich in the history of this country.

I found the characters of Only with Blood fairly interesting.  Caitlin is a young, attractive girl that has big plans for her future.  She wants to go to a University to further her education, but her father sells her to Jack Flynn, a farmer who is twice her age.  Jack is a farmer and he wants a wife who can bare him sons, sons that he can inherit his land once he is gone.  Caitlin resents Jack and the obedience that has been forced on her.  Then there is Donal Kelly.  He is determined to set Caitlin free from Jack and goes to great lengths to do so.

Even though the story line was pretty good there was one thing that really bothered me about this book...the language.  When I request a christian fiction book I expect to get a book that is written with standards.  I know that different people believe different ways, but bad words do NOT belong in a christian book.  It is hard for me to understand how this book was even classified as christian.  Within the first few pages there were a couple curse words and I thought and hoped it would end there, but it didn't.  For that reason alone, I cannot recommend this book to others.

***This book was provided to me through Kregel's blog review program.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Camping Trip to Taum Sauk Mountain

We have been taking camping trips to Taum Sauk Mountain at least once a year for quite a few years now.  It is a place that is near and dear to my heart.  The scenery is just as breathtaking as the first time we went.

One of my favorite things to do while we are there is go up to the look out deck at night and lay down and look up at the stars.  The sky is simply amazing out there.  The stars are brighter and it seems as if you can see each and every one in the heavens.  This past trip I seen six shooting stars!  Simply beautiful!  While laying there we talk and we laugh.  It's the best!

While we are there it's my time to refocus, to clear my head, to be rejuvenated.  There are no interruptions, no social media, no television.  Just nature and its beauty.  I always feel a closeness to God there.  It's as if everything in all its beauty is crying out praises to the creator!

My kids are getting older and I know our trips like this are probably coming to an end soon.  The time will come that they will be too busy and have their own lives to lead.  And that is okay.  Life is full of changes and seasons, but one thing I know for certain...when I am old and gray these are the moments that I will look back upon.  They will fill my heart with smiles and I will look back on them with laughter and maybe even a few tears.   For now I will tuck them deep into my memory, not to be forgotten.

The Mistress of Tall Acre - A Book Review

The Mistress of Tall Acre is a beautiful written story by Laura Frantz.  My favorite genre to read is historical christian and books like The Mistress of Tall Acre is the reason why.  I love when an author can take a historical time period and make it come alive with a fictional story and characters.  Laura Frantz has interweaved true historical events with fictional events and the outcome is perfection!

The Revolutionary War has just ended, but even though the war is over, many of the town people of Sophie Menzies' Virginia Community has not forgotten that Sophie's father was a Tory (an American colonist who supported the British).  They continue to shun her and some are taking further actions.  This has left Sophie feeling very lonely.  She soon befriends the next door neighbors little girl, Lily Cate.

Lily Cate's father, General Seamus Ogilvy has his own set of problems.  His wife has died and he now is raising Lily Cate on his own.  After being gone in the war he is a stranger to his daughter.  His late wife's family is trying to get guardianship of Lily Cate.  Sophie agrees to marry General Seamus and become the Mistress of Tall Acres.  What seems to be the answer to both of their problems soon proves otherwise when someone from Seamus's past returns.   Everything and everyone is put to the test.

This book had me captivated from beginning to end.  It was heart wrenching at times and I was really surprised at the twists and turns it took.  There is definitely heart ache, but there is also rejoicing.  There is betrayal, but there is also loyalty.  You'll experience many emotions while reading this book and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction!

***Thanks to Revell for providing me with this book in exchange for my review!

Monday, September 7, 2015

A Noble Masquerade - A Book Review

A Noble Masquerade is the first book by Author Kristi Ann Hunter and it is also the first book in the Hawthorne House series.  If this book is any indication of what her other books will be like, I will be sure to read each and everyone one!  I absolutely LOVED this highly entertaining novel!  I could hardly put it down and did not want it to end.  I found it so amusing and it had me laughing out loud on more than one occasion.  

Lady Miranda has been trained to be a proper young lady since she was five years old.  She struggles with rules and regulations and just wants to have fun and be adventurous.  With most every thought she thinks she struggles with what she should do, what her mother would want her to do and what she wants to do.  She is such a fun and quirky character and you never know what she's going to do next.  

The Duke of Marshington has been missing from the social circle for quite sometime.  He has quite an interesting connection to Lady Miranda, but I am hesitant to give away too much information as it is so much better to read for your self.  So no spoilers here!  Just trust me, you should read the book and find out what is going on with The Duke of Marshington and Lady Miranda!  Be prepared to be entertained!

***Thanks to Bethany House Publishing for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Pursuit of God - A Book Review

I keep a journal where I write down my favorite quotes and through the years I have accumulated quite a few by A.W. Tozer.  Funny thing is that I had never actually read any of his books.  I was super excited when I got the opportunity to read for review The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer.  This book was so much more than I ever imagined.  It spoke to my heart on so many levels and encouraged me in my walk with Christ.  I really can't say enough good things about it.  It has the ability, if you are willing, to change your bring you to a deeper and closer walk, to awaken a desire within you to know more about pursue Him.

When I first received the book I anticipated it to be a fairly quick read.  It is not a real big book and is only a little over 100 pages, but a quick read it is not.  For one, the words within the pages need to be read slowly and meditated upon.  I found myself rereading paragraphs before moving forward.  Also, it is written in an educated manner.  Don't let that scare you off though.  I did not feel that it was hard to understand or "over my head" in anyway.  In fact I have already started reading it through a second time.  It really is that good.

The book contains 10 chapters.  Each chapter begins with a Bible verse and then the author shares some thoughts.  The end of each chapter concludes with a prayer and I especially loved this part.  Let me just share with you the prayer that was at the end of Chapter One.  This chapter was entitled Following Hard After God and here is the ending prayer:

O God, I have tasted thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more.  I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace.  I am ashamed of my lack of desire.  O God, the triune God, I want to want thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still.  Show me thy glory, I pray thee, that so I may know the indeed.  Begin in mercy a new work of love within me.  Say to my soul "Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away."  Then give me grace to rise and follow thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long.  In Jesus name, Amen.

I greatly encourage you to see for yourself the treasures within the pages of this little book!  You won't be sorry.  A.W. Tozer authored more than 40 books and this one and The Knowledge of the Holy are both regarded as christian classics.  I already put The Knowledge of the Holy on my Christmas list and am looking forward to reading that one as well!

***Thank you to Aneko Press for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest review.