Saturday, November 29, 2014

Math Night

The school hosts a "Math Night" where there are different games having to do with math.  The kids get "tickets" for doing the games that they can enter to win door prizes.  This year, they had people come in and share how they use math in their jobs.

Putting up the Tree!

As is our tradition, the Christmas tree went up today (the Saturday following Thanksgiving).  It is a lot easier for me nowadays, since the kids do most of it!

We realized we forgot the tinsel and had to add it after the ornaments!

Book Review: "Handcarved Christmas" by Cynthia Hickey

I won a copy of "Handcarved Christmas" from Overcoming With God and was gifted a Kindle copy from Carrie Pagels.

Laura Worth doesn't have any prospects of marriage at home. As the oldest of 10 children, getting married would be beneficial for her family as well, so Laura excepts an ad for a mail order bride.  She packs up her family heirloom nativity and a few mementos, and heads to Montana.

Benjamin Cooper had made his mother a promise as she lay dying: he would get married before his 30th birthday, which is coming up in a couple of weeks.  He hasn't done anything about his promise thus far, but his brother has.  Laura Worth shows up on his door step in a snow storm, a Christmas present for Ben.  He agrees to marry her as she has come so far and it will fulfill his promise at the same time.

As Christmas draws near, they struggle to find out how to best reach the other and if their love is true.  How will they get to know each other better when sharing a roof with Ben's brother, too?

I liked reading this story.  It had believable characters and just enough tension to keep the story moving forward.  I liked how they tried to find something special to do for the other for Christmas.
I enjoy being able to read a complete story in an evening.  The characters are Christians and seek to know what God's will is for them.

You can get "Handcarved Christmas" for Kindle:

  • File Size: 4372 KB
  • Print Length: 63 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Winged Publications (August 10, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00MMJQ286

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Book Review: "A November Bride" by Beth K. Vogt

"A November Bride" by Beth K. Vogt is the last of the "A Year Of Weddings Novella" books.  I once again was given a free eBook by BooklookBloggers in order for me to read it and give my honest review.

Sadie McAllister is a personal chef and at 30 has been dumped by text more times than she cares to recount.  Her best friend, Erik Davis has also seen his share of girlfriends, but through it all, they've stuck together.  Twelve years ago, they shared a kiss, but that didn't lead anywhere.  So, could they become more than best friends now?  And what happens to their friendship when Sadie is offered a job out of state?

I enjoyed reading "A November Bride".  I liked the depth of character found in the story and didn't feel the story was rushed or lacking.  They know everything about each other, but aren't willing to acknowledge what the other truly means to them.  The characters pray and try to see what God would have them do in their lives.  A big plus in me liking the book was that it lives up to its name and actually has a November wedding!    I was able to read the book in a few hours which is nice when you want a nice, clean romance but don't want to take several days to read it.

"A November Bride" is available in Kindle edition
  • File Size: 1710 KB
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Up to 5 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
  • Publisher: Zondervan (October 28, 2014)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishing
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00I7J6D16

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Book Review: "Huckleberry Christmas" by Jennifer Beckstrand

Anna Helmuth is at her matchmaking again in "Huckleberry Christmas" by Jennifer Beckstrand.  This time, she sets out to match up her Great-granddaughter, Beth Hostetler with Tyler Yoder.  But after a miserable marriage, Beth isn't planning on ever getting married again.  Tyler suffered a broken engagement and doesn't believe in romance anymore.  He finds himself wanting to rescue Beth and he likes her spunk.  Beth doesn't like to be rescued because it means she can't do for herself and she wants to be able to care for her son Toby without help.  She decides she will help Tyler find the right girl to be his wife.  Will they realize that they are meant to be together?

This is the third "Huckleberry Hill" book I've read, so I knew that Anna always makes her match.  That meant I knew that  Beth and Tyler were going to end up together, but I didn't know how the path to get them to that point would look like.  It was fun to go on the journey with them and find out how they fall in love.  I look forward to reading more of Anna's matchmaking adventures in the future.

Huckleberry Christmas" is available in Kindle edition:
  • File Size: 1092 KB
  • Print Length: 353 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1420133608
  • Publisher: Zebra Books (October 7, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00J7W1F3S
and paperback edition:
  • Series: The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill
  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Zebra (October 7, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1420133608
  • ISBN-13: 978-1420133608
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 1 x 6.8 inches

I received an digital Advance Reader Copy from Kensington Publishers through netgalley in order for me to do a review.  The opinions are my own.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Happy 7th Birthday William!

William's birthday was Sunday.  He woke up to snow on the ground (without any ground showing through, too) and thought that was cool.  The pictures don't show it, but William liked his presents and having his party.  He was just "on the spot" and tends to retreat into his shell in those situations.

I forgot I was supposed to bring treats in for Will's class on Monday until he said something in the morning.  I didn't have everything I needed to finish the cupcakes, so I had to stop at the store on the way to the school (so I didn't have to go out and back again).  I didn't think straight that I'd need 2 Oreos for each and ran out with 4 more to do!  Thankfully, I'd brought some chocolate frosting with and used that to make eyes!

And to show the weather we've been having this week:

Monday, November 17, 2014

Book Review: "Honor" by Lyn Cote

"Honor" by Lyn Cote is set in 1819-1820 America and deals with the issue of abolition and the treatment of free people of color in the North.

Honor Penworthy had been raised to be the lady of High Oaks Plantation, but she intended to free the slaves following her grandfather's death and fulfill her father's greatest wish prior to his own death.   Instead of being able to free the slaves of High Oaks, Honor is left with nothing but her personal slave and $100.  Honor travels to PIttsburgh to the only family she has left, Miriam Cathwell, a distant relative of her mother's.

Samuel Cathwell lost his hearing when he was 8 due to a cholera outbreak leaving him cut off from the world and dubbed an outcast or a freak.  He is not thrilled that his mother has taken in a stranger. When Miriam is unable to travel to Ohio and settle the land he bought, he needs someone who can speak to the hearing world for him.

Neither Honor nor Samuel is excited about the arranged marriage, but they have no other choice.  They each need the other for survival.  Life in Ohio isn't easy and they must figure out what kind of a relationship and marriage they have.  When Honor becomes involved in helping runaway slaves, will Samuel stop her or help her?  Will they finally know what true love is?

It took me a little bit to get used to Honor's use of thee and thy, but once I did, it didn't throw me off any more.  I found the characters to be realistic with strengths and weaknesses like we do.  The story was well written with historical features that made you feel like you were there with them.  I was unaware the extent of hardship for free people of color even in the North.  I liked how Honor wanted to follow the "Inner Light".

I would recommend this book to those who enjoy Christian Historical romances.

"Honor" is available in Kindle edition:
File Size: 2563 KB
  • Print Length: 385 pages
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (September 1, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00J37IHNS

  • Series: Quaker Brides (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (September 1, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 141437562X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1414375625
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 1 inches

and hardcover:
  • Series: Quaker Brides (Book 1)
  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Thorndike Press; Lrg edition (December 10, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1410474038
  • ISBN-13: 978-1410474032
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1 x 8.6 inches

I received a free paperback copy of "Honor" from Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for my honest review.  The words and opinions are my own.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Book Review: "An Amish Christmas Quilt" by Charlotte Hubbard, Kelly Long, and Jennifer Beckstrand

Netgalley gave me an eBook Advance Reader Copy of "An Amish Quilt" in order for me to be able to review it.

"An Amish Christmas Quilt" is made up of three novellas all set in Amish communities at Christmas time with each having a quilt worked into the story.

Novella #1: "A Willow Ridge Christmas Pageant" by Charlotte Hubbard.  Mary Kauffman comes to Willow Ridge to spend time with her Aunt Miriam and Uncle Ben after the death of her husband.   When she passes out along side the road in front of Seth Brenneman's woodworking shop, he rushes to help.  Afterwards, he plans on getting back to life as it was, but finds himself drawn to the young mother, her newborn son, and two step children.  Will they find the light while performing in a live Nativity?

I really liked "A Willow Ridge Christmas Pageant" and wanted Seth and Mary to get together as much as the people in Willow Ridge did.  I liked the pacing of the story and it flowed together nicely.

Novella #2: "A Christmas on Ice Mountain" by Kelly Long.  Laurel Lapp and Matthew Beider have been secretly courting and wish to be married, but their fathers have a long standing grudge and aren't talking to each other.  How can they bring their families together so that they can finally be together?

"A Christmas on Ice Mountain" shows how a small misunderstanding can grow into a big chasm that is nearly impossible to repair and how God can do the impossible.  This story has some "fade to black" type scenes like on their wedding night.  It shows the lead up and then it "fades to black" and doesn't describe what they are doing, but you know.

Novella #3: "A Perfect Amish Christmas" by Jennifer Beckstrand.  Anna Helmuth decides that Dottie Schrock would be the perfect match for their grandson Gideon Stutzman and writes a letter to get him to spend Christmas in Bonduel near them instead of in Mexico with his parents.   Dottie Schrock is trying to make this Christmas perfect for her Mamm who missed Christmas due to being diagnosed with cancer starting with a party.  She feels the only one able to pull it off is herself, so when Gid shows up the day of the party, she sees him as the cocky, adventuresome teen from the last time she saw him.  Can she learn to rely on others for the perfect Christmas?

I have also read "Huckleberry Summer" by Jennifer Beckstrand and enjoyed that one as well.  I have "Huckleberry Christmas" to read and "A Perfect Amish Christmas" takes place during the same time as it does.  "A Perfect Amish Christmas" mentions the couple Anna is trying to match in "Huckleberry Christmas" and the outcome.  It doesn't tell how they got to the outcome, but it isn't really much of a spoiler, because Anna always makes her match!

  • File Size: 905 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Kensington Books (October 28, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00JVW6H5U

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Review: His Kids United Christmas Vol. 1 Album

I was given a digital copy of His Kids United Christmas Vol 1. mp3 album from Cross Focused Reviews for me to review and participate in their blog tour.

There are 12 tracks on this album:
  1. Here We Come A-Caroling (Wassail Song)
  2. Light Up the World
  3. Jingle Bell Rock
  4. O Come, O Come Emmanuel
  5. All I Have To Give
  6. Light Of Christmas
  7. Jingle Bells
  8. No Better Holiday
  9. Away In A Manger
  10. Christmas Time Is Here
  11. I Hope This Gets To You
  12. Hark!  The Herald Angels Sing
These songs are all up beat and peppy.  My kids really enjoy listening to the songs and the fact that they are sung by children.  I do like the traditional carols, but this is a nice pick up once in a while.  I'm sure the kids will want to listen to it often. I liked how there were more familiar songs as well as new offerings.

You can get a free download of "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing"  HERE which gives you a good feel of what the songs are like.  You can also play clips of all of the songs here.  

  • Release Date: October 14, 2014
  • Label: His Kids United
  • Copyright: (c) 2014 His Kids United, a division of Jimmy Swan Productions, LLC
  • Total Length: 41:57
  • Genres:  Miscellaneous > Holiday

Book Review: "NKJV Adventure Bible"

The "NKJV Adventure Bible" is a great Bible for children of the ages 8-12.  It is full of colorful elements in a jungle safari theme.

The features include:

  • Life in Bible Times (tells what life was like)
  • Words to Treasure (Important verses to learn)
  • Did You Know?  (Facts to help you understand the Bible)
  • People in Bible Times  (Up close look at important people of the Bible)
  • Live It!  (Activities to help you apply the truths in the Bible to your life)
The Bible also gives introductions to each book of the Bible
  • Who wrote the book
  • Why it was written
  • What happens in the book
  • Who was the book written for
  • What do we learn about God in the book
  • Who is the key person in the book
  • When and where did it happen
  • Some stories that take place the book
I thought all of these features made this Bible interesting and relevant for kids.  The 20 special pages in all color jungle safari theme will also be appealing to children.  I also liked the color maps, concordance, and subject index.  

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Series: Adventure Bible
  • Hardcover: 1568 pages
  • Publisher: Zonderkidz (October 14, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310746264
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310746263
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.6 x 8.7 

I received a free copy of this Bible from ZonderKidz in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: "Our Presidents Rock" By Juliette Turner

"Our Presidents Rock" by Juliette Turner is an awesome book!   It is a treasure trove of information about our nation's presidents. 

For each president, it gives:
  • Which number president he was
  • Nickname
  • Term in office
It also gives his 'fast stats"
  • When he was born
  • His parents
  • When he died
  • Age when he became president
  • Religious affiliation
  • Political party
  • Height
  • Vice President
The sections that it covers for the president are
  • The Bottom Line
  • What Was He Thinking
  • Why Should I Care?
  • Breakin' it Down:
    Early Life
    First Couple
    Previous Political Career
  • Presidency
  • Congressional Corner
  • Election Results
  • What has he done for me lately

There is also a time line of when he was president that shows other things that were going on at the same time, trivial information that is interesting about him, and a page made to look like a newspaper called "Presidential Times" that gives some of the headlines of the day.

One feature I thought was interesting was the "State of the Union" that shows the population at the time of his presidency, what $1 then would be worth now, and what the US debt was at the time.

I found the Election Results maps to be a little confusing as they used purple for the winner of the race with blue as runner up (with other colors as needed for more candidates).   I found this hard to follow since from one election to the next, the color representing that person changes if he lost the 2nd time.  It may also come from our familiarity with the traditional red and blue colors used now to identify the parties.

"Our Presidents Rock" also includes a section at the beginning of how to read this book explaining what each section covers.  The back of the book shows what the make up of President Washington's cabinet looked like compared to what President Obama's cabinet looks like today.  I liked seeing the presidents represented on the height chart together so you could see how they compared to each other.

  • Age Range: 8 and up 
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Zonderkidz (September 30, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310730953
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310730958
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.8 x 10 inches

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: "Conrad and the Cowgirl Next Door" by Denette Fretz

Zonderkidz sent me a free copy of "Conrad and the Cowgirl Next Door" in exchange for my honest review.

"Conrad and the Cowgirl Next Door" by Denette Fretz is the 2nd in "The Next Door Series" and is just as delightful as the first story ("Pirates on the Farm").

Conrad is going to spend the summer with his Uncle Clint.  He plans on becoming a cowboy, but he doesn't know the rules, so he packs his Mega Ultimate Extreme First Aid Kit.  He starts learning some of the rules of being a cowboy on his own and then Imogene Louise, the cowgirl next door, shows up.  Imogene knows everything and isn't shy on letting Conrad know, either.  When Imogene takes a tumble, Conrad is able to lend a hand and learns that his heart knew the most important cowboy rule: Forgive your enemy.

"Conrad and the Cowgirl Next Door" is full of Conrad's fun misadventures that kids will have fun with, but also be able to relate in that they are sure to have had problems of their own and maybe even a know it all kid in their class.    Gene Barretta once again did a great job on the illustrations.  They are bright and colorful and portray the story perfectly.  The book has a section called "Vocabulary Poetical" which gives the meanings of some of the cowboy terms used in the book as poems.  There is also a "Parents letter" in the back of the book with suggestions of discussion topics with your child.

I would whole heartedly recommend this book.

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Series: The Next Door Series
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Zonderkidz; Nov edition (September 2, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310723493
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310723493
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 0.4 x 9.2

Monday, November 3, 2014

Book Review: "The Perfect Blend" by Deanne Durrett

I had previously read and reviewed "Lucy's Mansion" by Deanne Durrett, so when she asked if I'd like to read and review "The Perfect Blend", I agreed.  She gifted me a free copy of "The Perfect Blend" so I would be able to review it.

"The Perfect Blend" starts up right where "Lucy's Mansion" left off, with Becca McGee and JT Harrison having just gotten engaged.  Marie Springfield is thrilled to be Becca's maid of honor, but she also is a bit jealous that Becca will now likely have another baby, while she is widowed without any children.  She decides that she needs to do something about being childless.  Slade Turner walks into her second hand clothing store as the best man in the wedding, but he has ulterior motives.  He wants to get to know Marie.   His wife left him for another man and now he would like what he's always wanted, a wife who loves him and wants kids.  He sees Marie as the answer to that problem. So when it seems that Marie cares more about the pregnant, aged-out foster kid, Chloe, and her plans to adopt the baby, he wonders if they can get around this obstacle.

Marie and Slade are both in  "Lucy's Mansion" so I'd "met" them there, but it was nice to get to know them a little better through "The Perfect Blend".  I enjoyed the book.  I felt a little bit like Slade came into the book already sure that Marie was the woman he needed, and felt a little short changed that we didn't get to see him falling in love with her.  Towards the end of the book, he does show/express how much he loves her, so I felt better about that.  I didn't guess what JT's suggestion to Slade as the solution to their obstacle and how they could make the perfect blend of a family.   I would have liked to find out what the favor Slade did for JT was that made him leave town for a few days.   I really wanted to smack Julia Monks and Trudy Fox for trying to interfere with Becca's "new money" again!  I liked how Deanne Durrett put a "cast of characters" at the beginning of the book so you can be aware of who all the players in the story were.   I loved that the characters wish to do what God wants them to do.

  • File Size: 2416 KB
  • Print Length: 212 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English