Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Torchlighter Animated Heroes of Faith (WITH DISCOUNT CODE!!)



ABOUT THE TORCHLIGHTERS:

The Torchlighters series began when creator Bill Curtis was reading biographies of great Christian heroes to his 10 year old daughter. After finishing a chapter about missionary Gladys Aylward, she looked up at her dad and said, "I want to be a missionary when I grow up."

Realizing how clearly the power of this story moved his own child's heart, the Torchlighters Heroes of the Faith animated series for children was conceived.

"Young people are often drawn to heroes in the sports and entertainment industry," says Curtis. "Many of these figures convey values contrary to our faith. We wanted to offer parents an alternative. We wanted to offer parents the opportunity to share with their children the stories of real heroes whose lives have had a lasting impact for the Kingdom of God."

The first 12 episodes have been bundled into a 12-pack. Each of the 12 discs includes a 30-minute animated story, four-lesson curriculum in PDF, feature-length documentary on the hero, and English and Spanish languages and subtitles. The episodes included in the 12-pack are:


Jim Elliot
Gladys Aylward
William Tyndale
Richard Wurmbrand
John Bunyan
Perpetua
Eric Liddell
Amy Carmichael
William Booth
Samuel Morris
Augustine
Corrie ten Boom
Would you like to learn more about the Torchlighters Series? You can visit the website at http://www.torchlighters.org/.

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ABOUT THE JIM ELLIOT STORY:

In 1956, news from the steamy jungles of Ecuador spread rapidly around the world. Five young American men had been mercilessly killed by members of the Auca (Woadani) tribe - the very same people those young men had gone to serve and befriend. That seemingly senseless tragedy has become an inspirational marvel as family members of those young men have now befriended that very same tribe.

This is the story of one of the brave torchlighters who lost his life that fateful day. Jim Elliot spent his youth preparing to share the Gospel with those who'd never heard it. But nothing could have prepared him for the dangers and challenges he would face in the jungles of Ecuador. The remote Auca tribe was suspicious and antagonistic toward even the friendliest gestures from outsiders.

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ABOUT THE CORRIE TEN BOOM STORY:

Corrie ten Boom and her family repair broken clocks and watches. But as the evil of World War II sweeps through their city, a new kind of "watch" comes to their care: an innocent Jewish baby, desperately needing protection from the cruelty of the Nazi invaders. How will the ten Booms keep this baby and many others out of harm's way, and what will be the cost of serving God amidst unthinkable evils? When faith is tested, hope is tried, and love is strained, will Corrie's God prevail? This gripping episode of the torchlighters is an amazing story of courage, sacrifice, and forgiveness.
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My Thoughts:

Several months ago, I somewhat experimented with doing away with animated/cartoon type books/movies that were supposed to teach about real people, whether Biblical or not. I wanted my children to know the difference between pretend and real. I'm so glad I decided not to do that anymore. I brought many of our animated books back out of storage, and my boys treasure those! I talk to my boys and I do believe they are doing a wonderful job of keeping things straight in their mind. I bought the boys a little sling bookshelf for their homeschooling books, but my Grasshopper quickly made it a "Bible" bookshelf. ALL of their Bible "storybooks", animated or not, were put in it. I love that he considers them special, and it also proves he's doing great at learning between fact and fiction.

I LOVE when things that are good for their mind and teach them good things become animated. My children pay more attention and I believe they simply learn better. That is why I love this Torchlighters series so much. I haven't watched every episode, but I hope to add this whole set to our homeschooling year next school year. My little ones get to learn more about REAL people that put God first, and really, I can't complain about that! ;) I believe by watching these movies now, their appetite to learn in greater depth later in life will be fed.

There are extras on each DVD to go into greater detail, either for the children who want to learn, or for older children that it's time to learn a little deeper.


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DISCOUNT CODE:

Would you like a $10 discount on the 12-pack? Of course! :)

Promo Code: tl12brh

You can order the 12 pack HERE.

All codes will expire on June 1, 2015. Promo Codes will only work on the Torchlighters 12 pack (item #501631d). A $10 discount will show on the cart summary on the bottom of the page. You can call (800 523 0226) to order also as long as you mention the promo code.

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Three Little Horses and the Big Bully Donkey and Donkey's Kite by Liana-Melissa Allen(With Interview AND GIVEAWAY!!!!)



About The Three Little Horses and the Big Bully Donkey (Book 1):

A tale (based on the “Three Little Pigs”) about three little horse brothers who suddenly lose their house that is destroyed by a fire. The young horses are totally alone and thrust into the reality of having to depend on themselves and each other against a bully donkey, who wanders the forest wrecking homes and bullying the other animals. This warm-hearted tale promotes strong values and has a fun premise. Written and humorously illustrated in vivid color throughout by Liana-Melissa Allen, the story is a proven winner for reading aloud to children.
My Thoughts:

My Grasshopper fell in love with Max, Lax, and Jack! I read both books together, and afterwards, he wanted to go back and read the stories to me(through the pictures). I call that success!

As the description states, this is somewhat of a "3 Little Pigs" retelling. I love that I was able to get a lesson in laziness out of the story, along with a lesson in bullying. Although I didn't plan it so, reading this particular story when I did worked out perfectly. A little brother had just been shoved in the floor, and a tablet had been taken away as punishment, so I decided it was time for a reading break. This story was the perfect conversation starter concerning how we shouldn't hit or bully or laugh at someone when they're hurt.

Grasshopper loved the pictures, too. They're simple, but cute. He got lots of laughs out of them, and I loved how they followed the story so closely, capturing several humorous parts just perfectly.

We had fun getting to know Max, Lax, Jack, and even Donkey. After reading the "Llama Llama" adventure with the "bully goat", I've continuously told my boys that they don't want to be a "bully goat". After reading this book, Grasshopper has started saying we don't want to be a "bully donkey". These sweet books have ended up making quite the impression on him.

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About Donkey's Kite (Book 2):

The three horses Jack, Max, Lax and their friend Donkey are back!

In Horse Valley, it's a perfect day to go kite flying. Jack, Max, Lax, and Donkey decide to get creative by putting together their own homemade kites. However, Donkey's kite doesn't work. No matter how hard he tries to get it to fly, it just keeps tumbling to the ground. How will poor Donkey get his kite to fly? A friendly goose named Gusty is delighted to help him out.

In this Horse Valley Adventure, Donkey learns not to give up when all seems hopeless. The friends all learn a lesson about helping others and true friendship.

My Thoughts:

As I mentioned above, we went straight into this book after finishing the first one. Grasshopper wanted to see more of Max, Lax, Jack, and Donkey. I recommend reading them in order, so you can see the character growth, and get to know each one better.

Once again, there was a lesson concerning bullying, but from a different character this time. This book mostly touched on helping those who need us, though. Sometimes it's easier said than done, but we should always drop what we're doing to help friends/loved ones when they need us. I always appreciate books that help me get little lessons into our day. (I call them conversation starters.) I appreciated getting so many mini lessons into our reading time with both of these books!

Grasshopper loved the pictures in this book, too. He got several more chuckles out of them.

Overall, we've really enjoyed spending time getting to know Max, Lax, Jack, and Donkey. If you enjoy reading books that open up conversation/mini lesson possibilities, definitely give these books a try. They're fun, sweet, and humorous!

*I was provided e-copies of both books, in exchange for my honest opinion.


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Purchase Links:

On Author's Website

Amazon

Barnes and Noble


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About the Author:

Liana-Melissa Allen is a young author and illustrator of children's books and books for youth. She has written, illustrated and published six books. Her most recent one is the colorfully illustrated children's book "Donkey's Kite", the second book of "A Horse Valley Adventure" series. The first was "The Three Little Horses and the Big Bully Donkey". The lovable cartoon characters, Max, Lax, Jack and Donkey makes them a favorite of first and second grade students. She is now working on her third book of "A Horse Valley Adventure".

The magical world of fantasy has inspired Liana's imagination since as long as she can remember. Part of this was fueled by her dad reading aloud to her every day when she was younger. As a result, reading is her primary passion along with music. These two passions feed her imagination into stories and drawings, which she joyously sketches out into storyboards for a potential book.

Liana-Melissa is also a dedicated classical/jazz pianist, and mostly enjoys older music, especially from the big band era and the 1940's, 50's and 60's. While playing the piano, her imagination often leads to a great amount of improvising. Frequently, Liana will improvise a theme for one of the stories she is writing. Capturing this improvised music became a priority, which ultimately resulted in theme music for "A Horse Valley Adventure". The "Horse Valley" theme will be used for a short animated video featuring her Horse Valley characters.

Liana-Melissa loves to hear from her young readers. Please visit her website at www.lmabooks.com for more information, and to contact her by email. Visit her on Facebook too.

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Interview with Liana-Melissa:

Where do you get inspiration for your stories?

My childhood. I get inspired when I reminisce on how I used to look at the world as a kid. Through the eyes of my childlike self I lived my world with a sweet simple mindset. I looked at everyday as a fun adventure, which is the reason I call my series A Horse Valley Adventure.


What advice would you give budding writers?

Read as many books as you can and try to write everyday. Your craft should be tended to, not neglected. Think of it as if you are caring for a beloved pet.


If you could put yourself as a character in your book, who would you be?

I think I would say Jack. He likes to read and paint and puts a lot of importance on creativity.


In today’s tech savvy world, most writers use a computer or laptop. Have you ever written parts of your book on paper?

I like to write down my first rough drafts on paper. There’s something about just writing it down the old-fashioned way and getting all your cluttered and jumbled thoughts down. Then I type a second-draft on the computer and it seems to clean it up.


Favorite dessert?

Chocolate. Dark, white, milk chocolate, you name it. I love chocolate like my character Max loves carrots. Of course, his love is healthier.

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Giveaway:

Win one of ten sets of A Horse Valley Adventure books! One winner will also get a $30 Amazon gift card.

Open internationally.

Ends April 17.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



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See what others are saying: Tour Schedule for Donkey's Kite


iread Book Tours

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Berenstain Bears' Country Cookbook: Cub Friendly Cooking with an Adult by Mike Berenstain



Zonderkidz (February 10, 2015) 96 pages

About the Book:

It’s The Berenstain Bears' Country Cookbook! Bear lovers everywhere are sure to find favorite recipes for fun food in this new kid-friendly, cookbook—ranging from Bear favorites that use honey and berries to delicious main meals and breakfasts, and even Berenstain favorites like Jan Berenstain’s famous Green Lasagna.

Featuring breakfast, lunch, main meal, and dessert recipes as well as kid-friendly cooking tips such as food and measurement conversions, this is sure to become a go-to cookbook for delicious and fun recipes kids can cook with an adult.
My Thoughts:

When I first started collecting and reading the Berenstain Bears books with my little ones, I quickly learned that I had a love/hate relationship with them. I've loved some, and greatly disliked others. But, it seems the more we read of them, the more of them we like. My boys were super excited when this one arrived in the mail!

This cookbook definitely centers around the Berenstain bear family, as opposed to just smacking them on the cover and putting some recipes on the pages. The recipes are divided into Breakfast, Lunch, Main Dishes, and Desserts/Snacks. In the back, there's a few extras: a sample prayer to say before eating, some "sweet facts about honey", kitchen measurements, and the final page shows the Berenstain bears cooking as a family, along with a Bible verse. Before each recipe section, there's a *mini* story. Each recipe gets a 2-page spread, which includes a picture of at least part of the family, the ingredients and directions, and a full page color picture of the finished product.

I love that most of the included recipes are real cooking! Of course, there's one for peanut butter and banana sandwich, which is perfect for my littlest one to "cook" or when there's no power. Most of them involve a stove or oven or griddle, though. They vary in simplicity, making it perfect for a parent with various aged children. Some of them only have a few ingredients, but some of them have quite a few. As the title says, this is definitely recipes to do WITH an adult(at least for younger children). They're simple, though, and I'm all about simple. To keep some of them so simple, there is things like cans of mushroom soup or cans of biscuits, a scone mix, tator tots, etc, included in the ingredients. I'm perfectly fine with this, but I'll mention it in case that bothers any of you. The recipes DO tend to request whole wheat breads, and includes lots of fruits and veggies and herbs, though.

This is a precious cookbook to share with little ones. My kitchen is short and narrow, and just tiny, overall. I'm pretty stingy with it, unfortunately. As important as I believe cooking with children is, I still need encouragement to do so, and this book has done just that.

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

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Purchase Link:

The Berenstain Bears' Country Cookbook: Cub-Friendly Cooking with an Adult (Berenstain Bears/Living Lights)

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The Island of Dr. Libris by Chris Grabenstein



Random House Books for Young Readers (March 24, 2015) 256 pages

Description:

What if your favorite characters came to life? Billy’s spending the summer in a lakeside cabin that belongs to the mysterious Dr. Libris. But something strange is going on. Besides the security cameras everywhere, there’s Dr. Libris’s private bookcase. Whenever Billy opens the books inside, he can hear sounds coming from the island in the middle of the lake. The clash of swords. The twang of arrows. Sometimes he can even feel the ground shaking. It’s almost as if the stories he’s reading are coming to life! But that’s impossible . . . isn’t it?

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Thoughts:

This book has a zany kookiness about it, which I like to refer to as "wonderfully weird", that reminds me a bit of Roald Dahl. There are lots of goofy lines and situations that made me snicker, and even laugh out loud. This book is a salute to the many worlds that can be visited and created through imagination. There's also a strong pull to read great classic books out there, especially one of the many mentioned within this story. With that combination, how can one go wrong with this book?!

On top of all that, there's a bit of mystery added in, as far as who Dr. Libris is and what exactly he's trying to accomplish, even if I was hoping for more concerning him. There's new friendships made, and favorite characters from classics reinvented. Even better, there's a bit of diversity added in. (Walter and his sister are African American. This is only mentioned briefly through descriptions, but I appreciated the diversity, either way.)

There's a side story that I know some parents won't care for. I appreciated the way it was done, though. Billy's parents are separated. He's determined to get them back together. The ending of this particular part is left open, so each reader can decide how happy to make their future, or make it to match their own family situation. Really, each reader can decide how much of the story, as a whole, is "real".

I had fun reading this book, and I won't hesitate to hand it over to my children down the road. I highly recommended it, as long as you don't mind a bit of silly corniness.

*I was provided an ARC, in exchange for my honest opinion.

Purchase Link:

The Island of Dr. Libris



Thursday, March 19, 2015

Spring Cleaning Giveaway Hop



It's time for Spring cleaning, y'all! I decided to pass on these books to one of you:




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Whisper Goodbye: Till We Meet Again by Myra Johnson (ARC)

For Love or Loyalty: The MacGregor Legacy by Jennifer Hudson Taylor (ARC)

A Company of Swans by Eva Ibbotson

Bees in the Butterfly Garden (The Gilded Legacy) by Maureen Lang

Academy 7 by Anne Osterlund

The Heiress of Winterwood (Whispers On The Moors) by Sarah E. Ladd

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The Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Rules:

-US only.
-Must be 13 or older.

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Make sure you stop by and enter all the other giveaways!




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Easter Stories and Prayers by Kathleen Long Bostrum, with Illustrations by Elena Kucharick



Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (February 1, 2015) 144 pages

My Thoughts:

I ADORE this book! BUT, I've changed several words when I read the stories, so that they fit better with our family.

Easter Stories and Prayers is a 4 in 1 book. Inside, you'll find:

Why is There a Cross?
Who is Jesus?
What is Prayer?
What About Heaven?

Each of the stories(rhyming poems, really) read like children asking questions in the first part, and then a "let's see what the Bible says" response in the last part. There are Bible verses listed at the top of each page to show the reader where the answer came from.

Why did I choose to change several words?

You may or may not know that my family doesn't celebrate Easter(or Christmas) as religious holidays. We take the Lord's Supper every first day of the week, and we remember Christ's Death and Resurrection at that time(and try to remember every day!). I'm simply not comfortable celebrating Easter and Christmas the way most choose to. (I don't judge others for doing so, though!) Therefore, I changed the words "Easter" to "Resurrection" and "Good Friday" to "a Friday". Some of you may be wondering why I would choose a book with "Easter" in the title, despite my beliefs. My little ones are constantly asking questions, and I don't always know how to answer them. This book looked like a perfect way to help me out with some of those questions. And, it is! I have no regrets testing it out with them.

Also, especially within "Who is Jesus?", the poem is written as if Jesus is talking. I'm typically uncomfortable with words being put into Jesus/God's mouth. This is mostly why I'm uncomfortable with Christian allegories. Now this is completely hypocritical of me, because one of my most favorite poems does *just that*! I'm pretty sure I've posted it on my blog before, and I love to share it with others. I'm grateful for God's grace and mercy that it seems I held this poem more special than His word at one point in my life. I tell you this, so you know I'm not judging, nor do I hold my opinion and my conscious above all others. I just want to explain for those of you who know my beliefs and then see this book, and wonder. (For me, there's always the great struggle with explaining myself, and just keeping my opinions to myself...which is hard when reviewing books!) ;)

So, during those times that Jesus is supposed to be talking within the poems, I just change the words I/Me to He/Him. I'm more comfortable with it that way, and I LOVE the message of all the books, so changing a few words to make it work for my family is okay with me. Within that particular poem, it opens a little one's mind to the fact that Jesus was like them as a child. He probably had a favorite food, and he laughed and cried, just like any other child.

This whole book is super precious, and the illustrations just add more sweetness to the pages. It can work with/for various Christian beliefs. Therefore, I can highly recommend it if you're like me and struggle through some of the sweet and innocent questions that come from curious little minds. I'm now curious to see some of the other "Little Blessings" books!

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

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Purchase Link:

Easter Stories and Prayers (Little Blessings)

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White



HarperTeen (September 9, 2014) 288 pages

Description:

Jessamin has been an outcast since she moved from her island home of Melei to the dreary country of Albion. Everything changes when she meets the gorgeous, enigmatic Finn, who introduces her to the secret world of Albion's nobility, a world that has everything Jessamin doesn't—power, money, status . . . and magic. But Finn has secrets of his own, and the vicious Lord Downpike will do anything to possess them. Unless Jessamin, armed only with her wits, can stop him.

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My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Thoughts:

I've heard awesome things about White's writing, so I've been wanting to give more of her books a try. Not too long ago, I read Mind Games. The writing style drove me insane, and rattled my nerves, even though I enjoyed the story. After reading this book, which didn't have the same nerve rattling writing, I realized what an awesome job White did for the personality of the main character in Mind Games.

This book was pure fun, though, and it also robbed me of sleep. There's little mysteries entwined in the story, and I couldn't wait to see how everything came together. There were some parts that I thought would be more mystery than there actually was, especially concerning a certain little bird. I couldn't help but be left disappointed with that whole situation. There were people that I knew had some sort of connection, but I couldn't figure out how.

Although I liked Jessamin, she was one of the most stubborn characters I've read about! I was shaking my head at some of her decisions. Her background, and the treatment of women that she's used to, made her stubbornness more bearable, though. Eleanor was the highlight of the story, though(aside from Sir Bird). She was fun and surprising.

The ending happens kind of quickly, and I would have liked it stretched out a bit more, but loose strings were tied decently. As far as I know, this is a standalone. As much as I appreciate standalones, the more I think about it, the more I hope we get another book with these characters. It's also a quick read, at less than 300 pages, so every little thing isn't explained. I really liked the story, though, so I'll attempt not to let that bother me. I would have liked more details, though.

Really, this is a whimsical kind of read, with dark parts, but mostly sweet and fun. There are snicker worthy moments throughout. It's perfect for a quick read for those that want a little romance, but not overkill. ;) (which is me more and more, the older I get) I'm now excited to read more by White!

Content:

Clean! There's no profanity or sex, just mild kissing. There is some violence.

*Thanks to my local library for lending me an e-copy!

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Purchase Link:

Illusions of Fate


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Monday, March 16, 2015

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge



Balzer + Bray (January 28, 2014) 357 pages

Description:

Betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom, Nyx has always known that her fate was to marry him, kill him, and free her people from his tyranny. But on her seventeenth birthday when she moves into his castle high on the kingdom's mountaintop, nothing is what she expected—particularly her charming and beguiling new husband. Nyx knows she must save her homeland at all costs, yet she can't resist the pull of her sworn enemy—who's gotten in her way by stealing her heart.

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My Rating: 5/5 stars

My Thoughts:

I seriously loved this book, and can't wait to read more from Rosamund Hodge!

Cruel Beauty is a Beauty and the Beast re-telling, with a great deal of mythology mixed in the story. I'll admit that I don't know a great deal of mythology, so other than what I've learned from watching the Percy Jackson movies, most of that went over my head a bit. Still, I enjoyed it greatly, and devoured it, really. I was just too curious to see how things were going to tie up in the end. I DID figure out part of the mystery, but there was no way for me to figure out everything. There were little secrets revealed along the way, and it was just a fun read.

The romance was sweet and slow to build, but it wasn't overdone, in my opinion.

Very slight SPOILER: (this is mostly for those that might read it, and question my thoughts) ;)

**(A certain kiss came a little quickly for my taste, but it was somewhat necessary to move that portion of the story along. The whole situation was a little worrisome, too, considering my beliefs concerning marriage. I had suspicions, though, and I just won't think too hard about that whole situation.)**

End Spoiler

I don't know if the author had this in mind or not, but I get a "Christian allegory" kind of vibe from this book. I started reading her new book, Crimson Bound, and I got the same kind of vibe. If you enjoy that type of thing, that might be extra motivation to give this one a try. Even though some of my favorite books are considered Christian allegories, the allegory parts aren't overly my thing, so I didn't really dig within this story to see if my vibes were correct or not. ((That could be a project for you!)) ;) Still, the thought of a Christian allegory making it into mainstream publishing makes me a bit giddy. Again, though, I could be way off the mark with that vibe!

Also, this isn't a light read, in my opinion. It's a very complex story that can get easily confusing. That's exactly why I got halfway through Crimson Bound, and decided to start over(once I knock out a few review books). I was enjoying it greatly, but I felt a little lost. Make sure you give some dedicated reading time to get well into the story, instead of just grabbing little moments of reading here and there.

This is a dark, yet lovely book. Definitely give it a try if you're looking for a fairy tale to rob you of sleep! This one went straight to my favorites list, and I have plans to read anything and everything that has Hodge's name on it in the future!


Content:

For YA, this book is very clean! There's no profanity. It DOES have a more mature feel to it, though, since the two main characters are married. There's really no details, though. ((The most details come from a "wifely duties" talk. That might make this too mature of a read for the younger gals.)) Again, though, I'd label it perfectly clean for mature readers.


*Thanks to my local library for lending me an e-copy!


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Purchase Link:

Cruel Beauty


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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Lace Bookmark Giveaway!!!! (Hurry! 24 Hour Timeline)



Would you like to win this lovely bookmark? In honor of the new release of Mist of Midnight by Sandra Byrd, one of you can.

Just leave a comment, and I'll use random.org to pick a winner tomorrow night.

-US only.
-Must be 13 or older.


Good Luck!

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden: Grow Tons of Organic Vegetables in Tiny Spaces and Containers by Karen Newcomb



Ten Speed Press (February 17, 2015)

Description:

This classic gardening bestseller (over 500,000 copies sold) uses ecologically friendly, intensive biodynamic methods to produce large amounts of vegetables in very tiny spaces. Revised for an all new generation of gardeners, the 40th anniversary edition includes brand new information on the variety of heirloom vegetables available today and how to grow them the postage stamp way.

To accommodate today's lifestyles, a garden needs to fit easily into a very small plot, take as little time as possible to maintain, require a minimum amount of water, and still produce prolifically. That's exactly what a postage stamp garden does. Postage stamp gardens are as little as 4 by 4 feet, and, after the initial soil preparation, they require very little extra work to produce a tremendous amount of vegetables--for instance, a 5-by-5-foot bed will produce a minimum of 200 pounds of vegetables.

When first published 40 years ago, the postage stamp techniques, including closely planted beds rather than rows, vines and trailing plants grown vertically to free up space, and intercropping, were groundbreaking. Now, in an ever busier world, the postage stamp intensive gardening method continues to be invaluable for gardeners who wish to weed, water, and work a whole lot less yet produce so much more.
My Thoughts:

My desire to garden has kind of come and went through the years. One year, early in our marriage, Jonathan and I planted a full garden. It was pretty much a disaster. One year, we planted lots of tomato plants within buckets and containers. That was very successful until worms devoured them. DEVOURED them! I was heartbroken, and haven't ventured into the world of gardening again, other than planting flowers and trees(mostly of the fruit variety) here and there. There's been both great success and huge failures in that realm.

As I continue on a *somewhat* minimalistic journey inside our home, though, the desire to garden has hit me full force this year. Not having to clean every second of every day(as it has *seemed* for so long) opens up more possibilities! I already have several projects planned for our little outdoor world whenever the weather warms up(and it's not pouring rain) I DO want any projects I take on to be manageable by just me and the boys, though, since Jonathan isn't able to take on anymore at the moment. (He's working hard enough!) These projects will double as nature lessons for the boys, too, so getting fresh food in the mix can't be beat.

All of that is why this book is perfect for me. It's great for beginners, like me, and also great for learning to get the most out of any space used. This means a good harvest and variety within a small space, and less upkeep than a typical garden. Since my help will be 3 little boys, I need something that doesn't take a ton of time. I DO want plenty of time for reading, after all! ;)

This book will give you several different maps, depending on your "bed" size and what foods you want to harvest. It shows you exactly where to plant each plant. You'll also see examples of different shapes. There are ALL kinds of tips within these pages, from preparing the soil to harvesting to storing your food once you've picked it. It will let you know how many of each plant to include based on the number of people that will be eating it. (For example, you'll only need 1 artichoke plant per person, but 30-50 carrot plants per person.) It will tell you when to plant what, and even how to stretch out your space("crop stretching") For example, when you harvest broccoli, replace it with carrots, beets, or radishes. Pretty cool, huh? :) It'll tell you which foods freeze well(cabbage doesn't, but broccoli does). It will even tell you exactly how to prepare it for the freezer. There's even recommendations for what to use for each type of pest, and what symptoms to look for on your plants.

The only somewhat negative is the lack of pictures. There are very few of them, and they aren't really what I'd call "color" pictures. There is some green and grey and brown, but it's kind of like newspaper kind of coloring, and that's pretty much reserved for the "maps". The only photo-like picture you'll see is on the cover. Honestly, it's packed full of so much help and information that I don't even care about the lack of pictures!

This book is seriously a dream come true for a beginning gardener that doesn't really know where to begin, like me. It is *filled* with useful information for your whole gardening journey, and I definitely recommend it if you need a guiding hand through the whole process.

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

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Purchase Link:

The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden: Grow Tons of Organic Vegetables in Tiny Spaces and Containers

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Grace of Gratitude Journal by Deborah Purdue



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Description:

Grace of Gratitude is an exquisite journal that has lined pages for the reader to express their own thoughts of gratitude. Inspiring examples of gratitude by the author Deborah Perdue, and beautiful illustrations by Tara Thelen are interspersed throughout. Gratitude is a valuable spiritual practice, and through this journal, one can reap the benefits of appreciation of life to feel more joy and more peace on a sustained level. This journal is not only for the novice, but also for anyone who is already experienced at the spiritual practice of feeling gratitude in his or her life.

My Thoughts:

This is a beautiful journal to keep track of things I'm grateful for.

This journal is made to last about 40 days, but you could always stretch it out a bit, or use it for a shorter period of time. On one side, there is a space for the date, along with several lines for writing. The opposite page alternates between sayings and pictures(picture, two sayings, picture...). The pictures are gorgeous and bright. The sayings do have a non-Christian kind of "spirituality" about it. (I apologize. I don't know the correct term I'm looking for.) For example, one of them says: "Thank you, Spirit within and all around, for all knowledge and wisdom infusing my mind and soul." The focus of many of them are on ME. On the pages with the sayings, there's lots of white space, so it's really easy to write Bible verses and turn the focus to God. There's plenty of room, really, to do whatever you'd like. You could also add quotes or doodles, and make it even more personal and special.

This journal is also spiral bound, with hard covers on the front and back. This means it will lay flat when writing, and/or you'll have a built in "desk" with the cover.

This is a lovely journal, and I'm still amazed at the beauty of the artwork. Learning to be grateful is always a good thing, too! My grouchy, discontent side has been showing its ugly self more and more these days, and a focus on the simple(and big) things in my life I'm grateful for is just what I need. (Along with prayer and God's Word!)

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

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Purchase Link:

Grace of Gratitude Journal

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About the Author:




Deborah Perdue has been a licensed practitioner for the Center for Spiritual Living in Medford, Oregon since 2006. She practices gratitude as an integral part of her spiritual path, and attributes it to being the primary key to transforming her own life. In 1994, she received two Bachelor Degrees (Cum Laude) from Sonora State University, in English (emphasis: creative writing) and Studio Art (emphasis: photography) Deborah Perdue is the owner of Illumination Graphics where she works full time as an accomplished graphic designer with over 20 years experience. Deborah specializes in designing spiritual book covers.

Tara Thelen is an American artist living near Amsterdam. The inspiration for her work is emotion in all its various forms. As an artist, Tara’s drive is to create art that elicits strong, positive emotions – art that leaves an impression and truly touches those who view it. She teaches art lessons to children and teens at Museum Kranenburgh in the beautiful village of Bergen, near the North Sea, where she lives with her husband Paul and their two teenage boys. Her artwork has been exhibited in galleries throughout the US, Europe, and the Pacific. For the past six years, Tara has been working closely with Deborah Perdue on various projects, mostly book covers, as well as CD cover designs, posters, and other promotional works. Her artwork in the Journal is integral to the beauty of it!

Website: http://graceofgratitude.com/


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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Shondreka Palmer(Double Book/Author Spotlight)






About Shondreka:

Raised in St. Louis, MO, after graduating high school, Shondreka Palmer moved south to TN. Attending the University of TN at Chattanooga, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology. Her pastimes are writing, reading, most outdoor activities and spending time with her son. She loves to exercise, especially hiking and all things health and fitness.


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About Independently Raising a Man: Thoughts from a Single Mother's Perspective:

A positive, upbeat, inspirational book that provides support and advice on how to manage life as a single parent.
Getting the news that you are expecting a child is one of the greatest gifts in the world. Most people do not intend to be a single parent when starting a family. But for whatever the reasons, you are now faced with this challenge.

Life happens. The unexpected happens.

Single parenting is financially, mentally, and physically exhausting. But guess what? It's not the end of the world. You can do this and do it well! You and your child(ren) will survive. Though it comes with many challenges, it can also be very rewarding. It begins with you and your attitude towards it. You CAN successfully overcome all of the challenges of single parenting. In this book you will find insight and tips based upon my personal perspective and real life experiences that have helped me become successful throughout my journey of single parenting.
Purchase Links:

Paperback

Kindle

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About The Everday Mom's Guide to Being Fit and Fabulous:

Once you embark on the world of motherhood, life as you know it changes completely! Your world becomes extremely busy and it is no longer about just you! You have this (these) wonderful life (lives) that you are now responsible for. As moms, we become so consumed with taking care of everyone that it's easy to turn our back on ourselves and forget how important and necessary it is to set some time aside to take care of us. We also fail to remember that in order to keep our family healthy and strong, we must first be healthy and strong. Make a commitment to yourself to live a healthy lifestyle and join the 60 day healthy living challenge. Here are the ingredients: Start with healthy eating habits, add a dose of sweat, mix a little bit of determination, dedication and commitment - and there you have it!

FAD DIETS CHANGE YOUR WEIGHT BUT WORKING OUT CHANGES YOUR BODY!!

Purchase Links:

Paperback

Kindle


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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

10 Steps to Your F.I.T. Faith Inspired Transformation: Healthy, Happy, and Fit God's Way by Kim Dolan Leto(Book Spotlight AND GIVEAWAY!!!)



About the Book:

One of the most photographed fitness models in America is speaking out about the one thing that took her from overweight in her 30s to the cover of the top fitness magazines in her 40s, and the answer may surprise many: it was her faith in God.

Kim Dolan Leto, who has graced the covers of magazines like Fitness, Fitness Life and Oxygen, and competed in dozens of fitness competitions, says that it was her belief in Christ that kept her motivated to reach her fitness goals in a balanced and healthy way.

Dolan Leto is now passionate about helping other women experience their own faith-inspired transformations that affect their physical, mental and spiritual wellness. To do so, she wrote the book 10 Steps to your F.I.T: Faith Inspired Transformation (Jan 1, 2015). This book guides women through every aspect of living a whole, healthy life, from diet and exercise to forming healthy thought processes about your body, and finding your true identity in Christ. Dolan Leto encourages readers to stop focusing on societal pressures to fit a certain standard and begin focusing on understanding what God says about faith, fitness and self worth.

“My faith is such an integral part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle,” Dolan Leto says. “After years of failed diets and frustration, it felt so freeing to hand over my health to the one I knew could fix me for good. Now that I am on the other side of the dieting and madness, my passion and heart’s desire is to help as many women as possible also achieve confidence in their bodies and comfort in Christ.”

To accompany the book, Dolan Leto is releasing the F.I.T. Faith Inspired Transformation workout DVD. The video features three 20-minute circuits that include cardio, core and functional strength training, along with a F.I.T. Push to challenge to maximize calorie levels, a F.I.T. Challenge to propel results further, and a faith-inspired message to provide spiritual strengthening as well.

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About the Author:

Kim Dolan Leto is a fitness expert, writer and speaker with a passion for leading women to experience faith-inspired transformations that affect their physical, mental and spiritual wellness. She is the director of family health and wellness for the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA), holds a degree in business, is a certified fitness trainer and nutrition specialist, has completed Dale Carnegie’s High-Impact Presentations speaker training course, and has been recognized as one of the most-published fitness professionals. Kim is devoted to Christ and desires to make His name famous in the world of fitness. She resides in Scottsdale, Ariz., with her husband and their beautiful children.

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Giveaway:


a Rafflecopter giveaway


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Monday, March 9, 2015

Mist of Midnight by Sandra Byrd (With Giveaway!!!)



Howard Books (March 10, 2015) 384 pages

Description:

In the first of a brand-new series set in Victorian England, a young woman returns home from India after the death of her family to discover her identity and inheritance are challenged by the man who holds her future in his hands.


Rebecca Ravenshaw, daughter of missionaries, spent most of her life in India. Following the death of her family in the Indian Mutiny, Rebecca returns to claim her family estate in Hampshire, England. Upon her return, people are surprised to see her...and highly suspicious. Less than a year earlier, an imposter had arrived with an Indian servant and assumed not only Rebecca's name, but her home and incomes.


That pretender died within months of her arrival; the servant fled to London as the young woman was hastily buried at midnight. The locals believe that perhaps she, Rebecca, is the real imposter. Her home and her father's investments reverted to a distant relative, the darkly charming Captain Luke Whitfield, who quickly took over. Against her best intentions, Rebecca begins to fall in love with Luke, but she is forced to question his motives—does he love her or does he just want Headbourne House? If Luke is simply after the property, as everyone suspects, will she suffer a similar fate as the first “Rebecca”?


A captivating Gothic love story set against a backdrop of intrigue and danger, Mist of Midnight will leave you breathless.

My Rating: 5/5 stars

My Thoughts:


I've probably made it pretty clear around here that Sandra Byrd is one of my most favorite authors. I had been greatly anticipating a new book from her, and the day I discovered one was on the way, there was happy dancing in my heart. When I learned that it was a gothic romance? Cheers were added! Needless to say, I'd been very excited to make my way into this book's pages.

Mist of Midnight stars Rebecca Ravenshaw. Her parents were missionaries in India, but have been murdered in the Indian Mutiny. Left alone, she escapes India, and returns home to England, where she hopes to claim her father's home. When her greeting is less than welcoming, she learns that months before, someone else has pretended to be her. Needless to say, most are suspicious of her.

With each book of Sandra's that I read, it seems I proclaim a new favorite. They just keep getting better, and I adored this one. The storyline is like none I've read before, and such a wonderful edition to the Christian fiction realm of books(to the realm of books, in general!). It's a gothic romance, which I love, so there's mysteries around every corner, making me want to devour the pages even quicker. There are little moments of creepiness, as investigating transpires. There's also the added side story of the missionary world in India during the 1800s. (The story opens up in 1858.) Mist of Midnight takes place in England, but there are stories and flashbacks from life in India, so we still get to see a bit of that world.

Rebecca is a strong heroine, with a lovely heart. She doesn't mind breaking free a bit from the mold women of that time were put into, and she doesn't mind giving compliments to "the help". Those kind of leading ladies are my favorite! Captain Whitfield has a reputation with the ladies, and a bit of a dark demeanor, but his kind actions defy it all. It wasn't difficult to like him.

Once again, I adored this book. It even exceeded my high expectations, so I feel perfectly confident highly recommending it! It is now my favorite book of Sandra's and a favorite book, in general.


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

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Purchase Link:

Mist of Midnight: A Novel (The Daughters of Hampshire)

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Sandra's Grand Prize Tour Giveaway:







a Rafflecopter giveaway



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