Friday, December 30, 2011

Top Ten Books I Read in 2011

I had intended to hang on to this post until next week, but I'm going to go ahead and post now. Warning: All next week will be "Top Ten" posts, too! I had 4 that I really wanted to do, and they all seemed like lists that I needed to put up at the beginning of the month, so I decided to make one more and just make make a week of them. Now I've decided to go ahead and do a "New Year's Goals" list, too, because maybe it will help me stay on track better. Hopefully!

I decided to make 2 "Top Ten Favorites of 2011" lists. I don't usually review many of the children's books we read around here, so I'm giving a separate list just for my favorite children's books of 2011. That one will go up next week.

This list was really hard to narrow down. I've read some awesome books in 2011!

1st place goes to........

Married Mom, Solo Parent: Finding God's Strength to Face the Challenge by Carla Anne Coroy

This book had a HUGE impact on me, and I desperately need to read it again. Right now! I don't hesitate at all to recommend this book to every mother out there!


The rest are in no order at all. I adored them all!

To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer

So, so sweet! Karen's writing is just lovely! I can't wait to finally get to Head in the Clouds. I have no doubt that I will love it as well!


The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

This one has one of my favorite leading ladies of all time!


Entwined by Heather Dixon

If you like fairy tales at all, I HIGHLY recommend this book. It's clean, and just simply a beautiful book!


Beautiful Bandit by Loree Lough

Another very sweet romance! I've got to read the next two books in the series. They are both patiently waiting on my shelf.


A Lasting Impression by Tamera Alexander

This one is beautiful in SO many ways!


Down the Mysterly River by Bill Willingham

This is one of those books that you have to read all the way through. DO NOT give up on it! Read to the end! It was just such a wonderful book!


Emily of Deep Valley by Maud Hart Lovelace

Adored it!!!!(At the time I'm writing this post, it's on sale for $5 at Amazon).


Veiled Rose by Anne Elizabeth Stengl

Despite the fact that this one left me a little confused, I just loved it. I think I'll probably like it better when I read Heartless . It's one I hope to get to in the next couple of weeks!


Bound by Guilt by CJ Darlington

This book just really tugged at my emotions. It's definitely not my normal type of read, but I still think it deserves a spot on my favorite reads of 2011! There was some powerful stuff in there.


I re-read one of my favorites, Wildwood Dancing, in 2011, but I'm not including it on this list. Y'all already know I love it!

Y'all feel free to leave links to your "Top Ten of 2011" posts. I would love to see what books I need to add to my reading list.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Should I admit that I actually didn't have plans to put up a big tree this year? I was going to decorate our little one(maybe 2 feet), and that was it. That tree got put up only because of rainy weather. Our fall family pictures had already been re-scheduled several times due to rain, so our photographer suggested just taking the pictures in front of our Christmas tree. :P I made Jonathan drag it our for me, and he had pity on me this year and helped "fluff" out the limbs. He did a MUCH better job that I ever have. ;) I couldn't find any of my ornaments, though! (the nicer ones we collect through the years). I still haven't found them, by the way. That is what I came up with on short notice. You can't see all the lights in the picture, but we actually ended up liking it.

I'm ready to take it down, though, and get our playroom space back. I'm horrible, I know.

I found the handprint tree idea on Pinterest, of course! We love it so much that we plan on doing another "neutral" handprint tree to hang in the playroom through the rest of the year.

I hope all of you have a wonderful, MERRY Christmas! I'm going to take a little blogging break. It's way past due, and I just need some time away from it. My blog! I still plan on catching up with all my favorite blogs! And, simply catching up with everything else, including reading. I want to have FUN reading and getting lost in another world. I plan on being back the first or second week in January. I've just got to re-set my priorities! :)

God Gave Us Two by Lisa Tawn Bergren

WaterBrook Press (September 18, 2001) 40 pages

Description from Amazon:

Now that Mama polar bear has another baby in her tummy, Little Cub is bursting with curiosity. “Why do we need a new baby?” she asks. “If we don’t like the new baby, can we send it back?”
“Will you forget me when the new baby comes?”
Gently and lovingly, Mama and Papa assure their firstborn that the new baby is a gift from God they want very much, just as Little Cub was–and still is.
“God gave us you. Now he’s given us two!”
The winsome sequel to God Gave Us You, God Gave Us Two playfully affirms a child’s uniqueness and place in the family and helps little ones accept, appreciate, and love their new siblings.

My Review:

I really like this series! They're just cute and sweet, and they teach a lesson at the same time. You may remember there was one of them I didn't care for. I just thought it was a little odd, but I've very much enjoyed the other two I've read. I can't wait to add this whole series to our book collection.

I think Lisa has really captured what a great deal of older siblings are feeling when they are anticipating a new little brother or sister!

"Papa helped Little Cub dress for church. "Papa," she said, "if we don't like the new baby, can we send it back?"
"No, Little Cub. You don't send back a gift from God. He gave us you. Now he's given us two!"

I think this is a great book for families expecting new little ones, or have recently added a new little one!

*I was provided a review copy from WaterBrook Multnomah in exchange for my honest opinion.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Real by Shelley Malcolm

AuthorHouse (December 16, 2010) 156 pages

About Real and Shelley Malcolm:
“REAL” is a collection of 60 inspirational stories by Shelley Malcolm, with photos by Terilee Dawn Ouimette. The stories are deeply revealing, while the photos are anonymous, focusing only on each subject’s hands. Subjects range from adolescent to elderly, from former gangster to humble homeless, international refugee to hero-housewife, from pro athlete to Hollywood celebrity. While “Real” is her first published book, Malcolm is no stranger to creative projects, as co-owner and restorer of an historic chapel, La Perla del Mar in Shell Beach, CA, and a set designer for theater and film. Shelley Malcolm was named Pismo Beach’s Citizen of the Year in 2011 for her extensive contributions and involvement in the community. Proceeds from the book will benefit the Alzheimer’s Foundation and other charities. Shelley Malcolm graduated from University of Southern California with a degree in dental hygiene. For more information, please visit or Shelley Malcolm resides in Shell Beach, California with her husband, Doug.

Shelley has four adult children. Her interests include painting , drawing, sculpting, building, playing piano and other musical instruments, outdoor activities including hiking, ocean kayaking, running, water and snow-skiing, international travel, sewing, reading, writing and others. Visit for more information.

Real - The Book from David Malcolm on Vimeo.

My Review:

First of all, I want to mention that 100% of the proceeds of Real go to fund several charities. (If you'd like to see what charities, just go HERE. It's the blog for the book and the charities are listed in the sidebar).

This is a perfect coffee table book! There are 60 stories throughout the book about a different person. Each story only takes up one page, with the companion page showing a picture of the hands belonging to the person in the story. It's a perfect book to pick up and read a story or two here and there.

The pictures just really touched my heart. It's amazing what you can take from a picture of hands. Just looking at some of them brought tears to my eyes. I could "feel" how fragile or how strong the person might be, and see how some have struggled through life. They were all unique, yet beautiful!

Real is quite simply a beautiful and inspirational book. It's artwork! It's one of those books that should be shared. The fact that all proceeds go to helping others is a definite bonus!

*I was provided a review copy of Real in exchange for my honest opinion.

**There are also notecards with pictures and stories from the book for sale. If you're interested in those, go HERE.

***If you'd like to buy the book, go HERE.

****To see what other people are saying about Real, go HERE.

Friday, December 16, 2011

My Reading Challenges for 2012

Reading to Know - Book Club

Reading to Know Bookclub-2012

First of all, I want to apologize for my last post about the Bookclub. I wasn't thinking when I wrote it, and I realized I very well could have hurt someone's feelings. I had no intentions at all of doing that. I really hope this person didn't see my original post, but if you did, I am so, SO sorry. I have edited it now. :) If I ever write anything that hurts anyone's feelings, I definitely didn't mean it that way.

I've already wrote about the Bookclub HERE. Just follow that link if you want to look into more details about it, and see all the books.

The Classic Double Challenge

This one is hosted by One Librarian's Book Reviews. This blog is one of my favorites, but I've always been a "silent lurker" over there. ;) I'd pretty much taken on all that I thought I could, but this challenge is just such a unique(and fun!) idea, AND she has created such an awesome list of book possibilities, that I HAVE to join in. The whole idea is to read a classic of some sort and then read a more modern "re-telling" or a book that mentions the classic in some way. I'm only going to go "small" (read 2 books-one set), but I REALLY hope to read more. I haven't decided what I'm going to read yet. Right now, The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling and The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman is standing out the most in my mind. I also like the sound of reading Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie and one of the books she has listed with it. Then there's all kinds of fairy tale re-tellings she has listed HERE that I want to read anyway. So, I'm not sure yet!

The Armchair Cybils Challenge

This one is hosted by Amy at Hope is the Word. It's already happening now, and goes through February 15th.

L. M. Montgomery Reading Challenge

The Lucy Maud Montgomery Challenge

This one is hosted by Carrie at Reading to Know in January. I didn't do very well last year! And poor Anne! I've had full intentions of reading Anne of Green Gables SINCE last January and I STILL haven't. SHAMEFUL! ;)


The Laura Ingalls Wilder Challenge

This one is hosted by Barbara at Stray Thoughts in February. I've been trying to pick up the Little House books when I see them at used book places. I've ended up with 4 so far. Unfortunately, two ended up being the same book. :P AND, I've ended up with the last 3 books. That's okay, though. I'm pretty sure my library has at least the first two. I've never read any of these books, so I'm excited about this one, too.

Chronicles of Narnia Reading Challenge

The Chronicles of Narnia Challenge

This one is hosted by Carrie at Reading to Know in July. Last July when I participated, I really and truly wasn't in the best mentality to read them. I know that sounds crazy, but I'd had my reading challenged, and I was battling that while reading them. I'm through that, so I'm anxiously anticipating finishing up this series. I really enjoyed them even with my "battle", but I know without it I could have enjoyed them more! Like all challenges, I don't plan on waiting until the next challenge month to continue. I really want to read them before July. Time has a way of getting away from me, though. I've actually ended up with several Narnia and C.S. Lewis related titles since then, so they've really been calling out to me!

The Maud Hart Lovelace Challenge

This one is hosted by Sarah at A Library is a Hospital for the Mind. I've read 4 of her books now, and I'm really looking forward to seeing the girls grow up. (Well, sort of)!

I think that's it. That will keep me busy reading through 2012!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Looking for a Great Charity? Some Are Even Free!

I know that there's simply no way to help out each and every charity there is out there. If you're looking for a great one, though, I want to recommend Christian Relief Fund. They are a very reputable, caring organization! Sponsors or simply monetary gifts are always welcome! Year round!


If you'd like to help out for free, these are some "click to give" sites. You simply click on a button and advertisers donate to the charity. It doesn't take long! The best thing is, you can do this once EVERYDAY!

Click to Give Website


Feed the Poor

Stop Child Abuse

End Homelessness

Impact Kids Cancer


Care 2 Click to Give Website
-This one works the same way. I'll just send you to the main site and you can click on all the different charities. They include: children, rainforests, cancer, animals, and many more. You can also earn butterfly credits by clicking, commenting, doing the daily action, sending e-cards, and other ways. You can swap these credits for things that are needed by someone, like safe drinking water or cement for a cooking stove. There's all kinds of things. I really like this site and there's lots to explore! This site is just awesome! It's a game that for every right answer you get, you donate 10 grains of rice to help end hunger. It's not just a mindless game, though! It will really increase your vocabulary. Not only do you donate rice, but you get smarter in the process.

Provide food for dogs at
You answer a trivia question. Right or wrong, you still donate kibble.

Provide food for cats at


If you do couponing, you're probably like me and throw lots of them away after they expire. You may not know that those expired coupons are actually still good for 6 more months for military folks.

Coups For Troops
PO Box 147
Winnabow NC 28479

Just mail the expired coupons to that address, and they will be distributed. I don't remember where I got that address, so I'm just assuming that it's still good. I think there's lots of places you could mail them, though. Do a search if this interests you, and there might be a place close by that you wouldn't have to pay to mail them.

I think I'm going to make all these kinds of things a page, and then add to them as I go. There really are lots of things to do to help. Most of them really don't require much money, and they are all great things to help all year!

Feel free to leave any more "click to give" sites that you like!

I just realized this one is going up right after posting The Hidden Gift of Helping. I did NOT actually plan it that way! :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Hidden Gift of Helping by Stephen G. Post

Jossey-Bass (February 22, 2011) 224 pages

The Hidden Gifts of Helping ended up being a good bit different than what I thought it would be. It's mainly written for someone who has recently moved or is going to move. That would not me. At least, I don't have any plans to move. Maybe it was because of the fact that I wasn't the main intended audience, but I had an extremely difficult time getting through it. I don't typically skim when it comes to books, but I ended up skimming a good bit with this one. I don't want my review to come off negative, because I haven't read every word, but I also can't completely recommend it for the same reason.

I did see a great deal of good advice. I think that everyone could probably benefit from many of the points made. It's not completely just for "moving" people.

"Holding grudges is a terrible way to live. It saps all the positive energy from life and drives us into an emotional dungeon. Nothing interferes with creativity and good judgement more than bearing grudges, and few things have destroyed more otherwise good and promising lives. Forgiveness, difficult as it may sometimes be, makes us stronger, wiser, and happier, no matter what we have lost."

I write that quote thinking of myself right now! The devil has really worked on me lately. I've had to pray many prayers to release anger that I have for complete strangers. The internet definitely has its downfalls!

So, you will most likely come away with some wisdom from this book!

The main points of the book are how much you will benefit from helping others. It shows through a great deal of statistics, history information, and encouraging stories that if you are going through a hard time of any sort, helping others will do wonders for your state of mind, and in some cases, health.

I apologize for not having a better review! There's no doubt in my mind that if you will be moving or have recently moved, you will greatly benefit from The Hidden Gifts of Helping!

Thanks to B&B Media Group for my review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Common English Bible, Week 2

Well, my plans for posting about the Common English Bible once a week hasn't work out like I had planned. "sigh"

First of all, I'll announce the winner of the Common English Bible from my last post.

Linda Kish

She's already been contacted.

Now I'll get to my thoughts so far. When I learned that the Common English Bible was gender neutral, I was extremely disappointed. While I like to consider myself pretty open-minded on things, I have to admit I was very much close-minded on the gender neutral issue. When I learned that my favorite children's Bible of all time is also gender neutral, I realized I wasn't being fair. I hadn't even noticed anything "off" while reading My First Hands-On Bible. I'm NOT saying that I won't. I just haven't yet. I have to say the same thing about the CEB. I haven't found any verses YET that I feel the meaning of the verse was changed. When a verse is specifically talking about a male or female, the CEB keeps it that way. The only time SO FAR that I've seen the gender neutral change is for when I truly believe it was meant for both male and female. If you know of any verses where this is not the case, PLEASE give me those verses! The only problem SO FAR that I've had will be pointed out below.

As I mentioned on my last post about the Common English Bible, I really have no intentions of making this my reading Bible. I really like my New King James Version Study Bible and don't have any plans of changing that. The CEB is still simply for having a different take on Bible verses while studying.

Other than saying that, I'm simply going to give you the NKJV and the CEB translations of a few sets of verses, so you can have a bit more comparison.

Matt. 19:9 (CEB) "I say to you that whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery."

Matthew 19:19 (NKJV) "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery."

As you can see, the CEB took away an important part of that verse! That's a major negative for me, but I have no doubt that there is faults with every translation! I'll consider that strike 1.

Romans 7:2-3 (CEB) "(2)A married woman is united with her husband under the Law while he is alive. But if her husband dies, she is released from the Law concerning her husband. (3) So then, if she lives with another man while her husband is alive, she's committing adultery. But if her husband dies, she's free from the Law, so she won't be committing adultery if she marries someone else."

Romans 7:2-3 (NKJV) "(2)For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. (3)So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man."

1 Corinthians 14: 34-35 (CEB) "(34)the women should keep quiet during the meeting. They are not allowed to talk. Instead, they need to get under control, just as the Law says. (35)If they want to learn something, they should ask their husbands at home. It is disgraceful for a woman to talk during the meeting."

1 Corinthians 14:34-35 (NKJV) "(34)Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. (35)And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church."

Mark 16:16 (CEB) "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever doesn't believe will be condemned."

Mark 16:16 (NKJV) "He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned."

The last verse up there is an example of gender neutral. I don't believe that it was only talking to men. There's no doubt in my mind that it was referring to both men and women, so I don't feel the meaning was changed.

Please feel free to leave me your thoughts, and any verses you think I'd like to know about!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Book Club- 2012

Reading to Know - Book Club

I am thrilled to let you about an online book club that was created by Carrie from Reading to Know! I'm really excited about it, because as much as I would love to be a part of one, I have never had that opportunity. Until now! I think this is a wonderful way to pull me out of my reading comfort zone, and have a few books picked for me. You never know! I (or you) could end up with a new, unexpected favorite book.

Here's the line up:

January - Beyond Opinion, by Ravi Zacharias. Selected by Sky.

February - Running Away to Home, by Jennifer Wilson. Selected by *Carrie* at With All That I've Been Given.

March - The Pilgrim's Progress, by John Bunyan. Selected by Shonya at Learning How Much I Don't Know.

April - Any title by P.G. Wodehouse of your choosing (selected by Tim at Diary of an Autodidact) Just choose one. Especially if you've never read Wodehouse before. (Happy to make suggestions if you need some.)

May - The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain. Selected by Amy at Hope is in the Word.

June - A Girl of the Limberlost, by Gene Stratton Porter. Selected by Stephanie at Simple Things.

July - Any book in the Chronicles of Narnia series (as part of the Chronicles of Narnia Reading Challenge hosted annually here at Reading to Know, hosted by myself) (Again, just choose one. And make the most of it!)

Chronicles of Narnia Reading Challenge

August - The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, by Catherynne M. Valente. Selected by Bluerose at Bluerose's Heart.

September - Professionalizing Motherhood, by Jill Savage. Selected by Stephanie at Stephanie's Mommy Brain.

October - Uncle Tom's Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe. Selected by Barbara H. at Stray Thoughts.

November - Jewel of Persia, by Roseanna White. Selected by Annette at Live, Learn, Love.

December - A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. Selected by Carrie

As you can see, I picked The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. I feel a little bit like the black sheep of the group, which really makes me hope this ends up being a good book! ;) I think there's a good and interesting line up of books, though! I like the mix of Classics and Non-Fiction.

I already own books for 3 of the months, and I can get 5 of them at my library. That only leaves 4 for me to either find used or order. Most of them are very easy to find if you decide to participate!

I had a hard time choosing my pick! Just in case you're curious what other books were knocked off the list, here were my top competitors.

At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon (I knew I wanted a fantasy or fairy tale type of book AND one that I had never read, so this one was the first to go).

Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow
by Jessica Day George

Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George

The Aviary by Kathleen O'Dell(I don't think this one is fairy tale or fantasy, but it did stay longer).

The Aviary was the last to go, but I still REALLY want to read it eventually! There were two factors that made me pick The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. One, there are a whole lot of 5-star reviews at Amazon. That doesn't always mean much to me, but when blindly picking a book that others will be reading(hopefully!), I know the chance that others will like it are a little better. Two,(and the main reason) the pictures! Go to the Amazon page and scroll down a bit for a sample of the pictures. Now I know that the pictures won't necessarily make the story great, but for me, they do help. I love artwork connected with books. I really have high hopes for this book, though!

Be sure to check out Annette's post. She tells why she picked The Jewel of Persia, which is what encouraged me to post a little of WHY I picked what I did. :)

I hope you all decide to join in the fun!