Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Month in Review: January

  • Wrote 365 words
  • Sculpted 0 babies
  • Tatted 0 crosses
  • Sewed 0 sock monkeys
  • Knit 0 hats
  • Exercised 20 days
  • Read in the Bible 29 days
  • Wrote up 2 backlogged book reviews 
  • Posted 4 old blog posts 

Book Review, Blog Tour, and Giveaway: "Summer on Sunset Ridge" by Sharlene MacLaren

About the Book

Click to purchase

Book: Summer on Sunset Ridge, Freedom Series Book 1
Author: Sharlene MacLaren
Genre: Historical Christian Romance
Brought up on a Quaker farm near Philadelphia at the brink of the Civil War, plainspoken Rebecca Albright is charitable, peace-loving, submissive—and a feisty abolitionist. Determined to aid the Underground Railroad no matter what the cost, her path collides with that of formidable slave-catcher Clay Dalton. When Rebecca is assigned to nurse Clay back to health following a near-fatal gunshot wound, her uneasiness around him and the questions surrounding his mysterious past complicate their strained but developing relationship.
Sherriff Clay Dalton is grimly fighting several battles of his own as he stays on at the Albright farm to work off his debt to the family that has saved his life and taken him in. He is torn between his past commitments in the South and his unlikely present among this quiet Quaker community in the North. Almost against his will, he begins to ponder the impossible idea of a future with Rebecca.…
When tensions between North and South escalate, Rebecca and Clay find themselves propelled on a journey to discover just who God has called them to be, and they soon realize that each holds a key to the other’s answer.

 My Thoughts

I had a hard time getting into this book. In part it was because of the Quaker "thee's and thy's" but also from the mention of concrete sidewalks and Rebecca getting her own groceries from the shelves in 1855. There are records of concrete sidewalks from the 1860's, but 1855 seems a bit early. The first "self serve" grocery store wasn't until 1916. Prior to that time, the shopper gave their list to the clerks and they retrieved the items for the customer. It might not seem like that big of a deal, but it really pulled me out of the story. I had to put the book aside and read a different book before coming back to it. I was able to get into the story when I started into it again. This was also about the point in the book where Clay and Rebecca's stories intersected. I liked how there was an emphasis on how you need to have a personal relationship with God. I found the characters to be realistic and I wanted them to find their happily ever afters. I laughed, cried, and got angry over things in the book. I am looking forward to reading other books in this "Forever Freedom" series.

About the Author

sharmaclarenhs_blue13Sharlene MacLaren Born and raised in western Michigan, award-winning, bestselling author Sharlene MacLaren attended Spring Arbor University. After graduating, she traveled with a nationally touring Christian vocal ensemble, returning home to Spring Arbor to marry her husband, Cecil, whom she’d known since childhood. Together they raised two daughters. Now happily retired after teaching elementary school for 31 years, “Shar” enjoys reading, singing in the church choir and worship teams, traveling, and spending time with her husband, children, and grandchildren. Her novels include the contemporary romances Through Every StormLong Journey Home, and Tender Vow; the beloved Little Hickman Creek series (Loving Liza JaneSarah, My BelovedCourting Emma, and  Christmas Comes to Little Hickman Creek, a novella), and three historic romance trilogies: The Daughters of Jacob Kane (Hannah GraceMaggie Rose, and Abbie Ann); River of Hope (Livvie’s SongEllie’s Haven, and Sofia’s Secret); Tennessee Dreams:  Heart of Mercy, Threads of Joy, and Gift of Grace.

Blog Stops

January 19: Giveaway Lady
January 20: The Power of Words
January 21: Bigreadersite
January 21: just the write escape
January 22: Moments Dipped in Ink
January 22: For The Love of Books
January 23: Genesis 5020
January 24: Pause for Tales
January 25:  Book by Book
January 26: A Greater Yes
January 27: Splashes of Joy
January 28: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS
January 28: Christian Bookaholic
January 29: Stuff & Nonsense
January 29: Bibliophile Reviews
January 30: cherylbbookblog
January 30: Daysong Reflections
February 1: Rhonda’s Doings


To celebrate Sharlene’s tour, Whitaker House is giving away:
Grand Prize
Brown and tan fashion purse with cross, multiple interior and exterior pockets and
Five Sharlene MacLaren titles: Summer on Sunset Ridge (Forever Freedom #1); Heart of Mercy (Tennessee Dreams #1); Livvie’s Song (River of Hope #1); Hannah Grace (Daughters of Jacob Kane #1); Loving Liza Jane (Little Hickman Creek #1)
Second Prize
“Keepers of the Light” Orange/Cinnamon/Clove candle from www.acheerfulgiver.com and
Summer on Sunset Ridge
Third Prize
Summer on Sunset Ridge
Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post to earn 9 extra entries in the giveaway!

"Summer on Sunset Ridge" is available in paperback:
  • Series: Forever Freedom Series (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Whitaker House (January 10, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 162911796X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1629117966
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 8.9 inches

and in Kindle edition:
  • File Size: 3479 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Whitaker House (January 10, 2017)
  • Publication Date: January 10, 2017
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01NCKG343

I got a free copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own and voluntarily given. No compensation was received.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Temperature Blanket - Week 4

So, I've made it through a month (almost) of working on my temperature blanket. So far, it hasn't seemed overwhelming. It is a little fiddly having to add the precipitation (and remembering to make note of the time when it is precipitating!)

This week's high temperatures:

Jan 22: 41
Jan 23: 39 Rain from 6:30 pm - midnight
Jan 24: 39
Jan 25: 38 Rain from 6:00 pm - midnight
Jan 26: 35 Snow from midnight - 6:00 pm
Jan 27: 31 Snow from 9:00 am - noon and 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Jan 28: 29 Snow from 11:00 am - midnight

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Book Review: "The Silent Songbird" by Melanie Dickerson

To avoid a forced marriage as her cousin King Richard's politcial pawn, Evangeline runs away and joins a group of servants going home to Glynval. In order to avoid detection, she pretends to be mute.

Westley le Wyse feels protective of the new servant girl, but when he learns the truth, will it be the end to their budding relationship?

"The Silent Songbird" is the 7th book in Melanie Dickerson's "Hagenheim/Fairy Tale Romance" series, but the 3rd book that deals with the le Wyse family. Of those three, this one is actually 2nd in chronology, though, since we meet their son in "The Princess Spy". I really liked this book. I liked how even though Evangeline didn't know how to do any of the tasks, she threw herself into them without complaining, even when she got hurt. I liked Westley's gentle, caring nature. The spiritual thread was woven easily into the story. I found it interesting how Melanie Dickerson tied the book into real history with the inclusion of King Richard and his marriage to Anne at the age of 15, the Peasants' Revolt, and the plague. There were several "bad guys" that Evangeline and Westley had to deal with. I was very glad that the interactions with them was not just running away from them through the woods. I found this retelling of "Little Mermaid" to be cute and a good rendition with Evangeline's beautiful singing voice, being "mute", rescuing the "prince" and someone else taking credit for it. I enjoyed being back in Glynval and seeing Ranulf and Annabel again.

I made this picture to show the relationship between the 7 books in the Hagenheim/Fairy Tale Romance series (Click to enlarge):

"The Silent Songbird" is available in hardcover:
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (November 8, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0718026314
  • ISBN-13: 978-0718026318
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.7 inches

and Kindle edition:
  • File Size: 2432 KB
  • Print Length: 302 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Up to 5 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (November 8, 2016)
  • Publication Date: November 8, 2016
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishing
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01CXE9L1O

I got a free copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own and given voluntarily. No compensation was received.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Book Review: "NIrV Minecrafters Bible"

@Zonderkidz "NIrV Minecrafters Bible" is geared to appeal to 6 - 10 year olds who love Minecraft. On the back cover it says, in part, "Do you ever feel like it's more fun to exist in the computer world than the real one? Is that the only place you can control your destiny? Well, God is the original great world builder, and he gave us the power and the skills we need to make changes in the real world. " I was disappointed that the Bible didn't have any aids or special features.  It only has a dictionary and "Great Stories of the Bible" list. I did like the 24 full color pages done in a Minecraft-esque way. These pictures have a title and short summary of that Bible story. They also have a section that says "What to Read" and "What to Do". This section ties the Bible story into something they could do in Minecraft. I liked how it got them actively involved in the Bible by using something they really enjoy. This Bible is not an official Minecraft product and is not affiliated with Mojang.

 "Minecrafters Bible" is available in hardcover:
  • Age Range: 6 - 10 years
  • Grade Level: 1 - 5
  • Hardcover: 1152 pages
  • Publisher: Zonderkidz (June 7, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310754976
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310754978
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.1 x 8.8 inches

or in Kindle edition:
  • File Size: 11457 KB
  • Print Length: 1152 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Up to 5 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
  • Publisher: Zonderkidz (June 7, 2016)
  • Publication Date: June 7, 2016
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishing
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01863JT4A

I received a free copy of this Bible. All opinions and thoughts are my own and voluntarily given. No compensation was received.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Book Review: "The Legend of the Christmas Cookie" by Dandi Daley Mackall

"The Legend of the Christmas Cookie: Sharing the True Meaning of Christmas" tells the story of how Jack helps his mother make cookies for the needy. As they work, Jack's mother tells him about the first Christmas cookies and how they were used to tell the gospel message to people who could not read.

This is a lovely book. The pictures are bright and colorful and fill almost the entire two-page spread. With it's large size, this book is perfect for cuddling up on the couch and reading together with the special little person in your life. I enjoyed the story and learning about the origin of the Christmas cookie. There was also a more subtle message to the story of looking out for those less fortunate than you and sharing what you have. This story (according to the description) takes place during the Depression, but other than one picture where Jack's mom's dress for church is "old fashioned", I didn't feel like it had a specific era and could easily be contemporary and would be relevant to today's children. This book appears to possibly a republication of a book called "The Gift of the Christmas Cookie: Sharing the True Meaning of Jesus' Birth" as the description sounds exactly like this book (Same author and illustrator as well).

"The Legend of the Christmas Cookie" is available in hardcover:
  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: AD720L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Zonderkidz (October 6, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310747678
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310747673
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 0.4 x 9.2 inches

and in Kindle edition:
  • File Size: 7012 KB
  • Print Length: 18 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Up to 5 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
  • Publisher: Zonderkidz (October 6, 2015)
  • Publication Date: October 6, 2015
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishing
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01DX3BH7K

I got a free copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own and voluntarily given. No compensation was received.

Book Review, Blog Tour, and Giveaway: "Angels Unaware" by Rachel J. Good

Sometimes God sends angels into our lives…
Chocolate chip cookies are the perfect way to make friends. At least, Mark Daniels thinks they are. He hopes to forget his painful past and start over in new neighborhood. Everyone is warm and welcoming—everyone that is, but the dragon lady next door. She rebuffs all overtures of friendship and declines Mark’s invitations to church.
Jasmine Avery doesn’t trust men, especially not handsome ones who come bearing gifts. She’s been badly hurt and has walled herself off from love. Reluctantly, she agrees to attend church with Mark on Easter Sunday, not realizing how it will change her life and her future. But soon after she discovers the secret to a happy life, her whole world turns upside-down. Will these unexpected changes prove Mark can’t be trusted either? Or can she and Mark overcome their past heartbreaks to forge a new life together?

 My Thoughts

This was a quick read and flowed really smoothly.  I thought it was interesting how we only followed Mark's point of view as normally if there is only one point of view, it is the heroine. I liked the change in Jasmine after she came to know the Lord. Jasmine and Mark both had things that they had to work through and deal with from their pasts and I liked how Rachel Good used the Bible to show how they needed to deal with their issues. There were moments that made me cry in this book and others that made me smile. This is a good reminder to do "unto the least of these" as you may "entertain angels unaware". I look forward to reading more books by Rachel Good.

About the Author

rachel-photo-web-1Inspirational author Rachel J. Good writes life-changing, heart-tugging novels of faith, hope, and forgiveness.She is also the author of the Sisters & Friends Amish series and the Amish Quilts Coloring Book. A former teacher and librarian, she has more than 2300 articles and 30 books in print or forthcoming under several pen names. Rachel also juggles freelance editing and illustration careers. She loves reading (of course!), traveling, and spending time with her five children and three grandchildren.
Guest Post from Rachel J. Good
One of the important lessons in ANGELS UNAWARE is looking beyond the surface, seeing with new eyes. In the story, Mark has many opportunities to do this. When he first approaches Jasmine with a plate of chocolate chip cookies, she’s unwelcoming and prickly:
 The door opened a crack. “What do you think you’re doing?”
Mark turned. The woman’s narrowed eyes and belligerent stance made him quake. He took a step back. “I…um…here…” He held out the plate of cookies.
“What’s that?”
Mark took a deep breath and regained his composure. He smiled and started his usual spiel. “Hi, I’m Mark Daniels, and I just moved into the neighborhood—”
“I know.” She didn’t sound too pleased. “That’s not what I asked. What’s that in your hands?”
“Oh, these? I baked chocolate chip cookies and thought I’d share some with you.”
“Do you know what sugar does to your system?” she demanded. “I never touch sugar.”
That explained why she was so thin. So much for cookies then. Mark wracked his brain for another offering. “A meal perhaps? I make great spaghetti and meatballs.”
She drew back. “A meat eater? It figures.”
Oh, terrific. Mark cringed at the acid in her tone. He’d just offered a meat dish to a vegetarian. So much for his diplomacy mission.
 After a start like that, many people would have given up. But Mark feels led to share God’s love with this neighbor, and he tries again and again. Eventually he discovers she’s hiding some deep personal pain. His persistence brings unexpected rewards to both of them.
 I wanted to write this story because we usually avoid people who criticize us or hurt our feelings. Yet, often those who are unkind are actually aching inside. And they need God’s unconditional love and forgiveness, because only God can heal their pain and suffering.
 After God touches Jasmine’s heart, Mark can see her softer, kinder side. And she’s proof of that saying, “An angel resides in every heart.”
 Could your grouchy neighbor or critical boss be an angel in disguise? Maybe these annoying people have been sent into our lives to help build our character or to teach us a lesson. The Bible warns us to be hospitable to everyone, because we never know when we’ll come upon an angel “unawares.”
 “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Heb. 13:2 KJV
 Each person you meet has been sent into your life for a reason. Sometimes these angels come into our lives in unlikely disguises. We don’t always realize their purpose until much later. Looking back, though, we can see God’s hand in the encounters.
 Other times, we discover – like Mark did – that we’re supposed to be angels to those who are unkind to us. We may be the only ones who have ever touched their lives with God’s light.
 Who in your life needs God’s love? Can you be an angel to that person?


To celebrate her tour, Rachel is giving away:
Grand Prize:
  • Angel bookmark
  • Battenberg lace angel pin
  • Trio of jade angels
  • Prayer angel with a “Worry” poem to remind you to pray about your problems
  • Newest AMISH QUILTS COLORING BOOK (large print edition)
2nd – 4th Prize:
One copy of the ANGELS UNAWARE ebook
Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post to earn 9 extra entries in the giveaway!
Click here to purchase your copy.

Blog Stops

January 25: autism mom
January 27: Moments Dipped in Ink
January 28: A Greater Yes
January 29: Carpe Diem
January 30: Petra’s Hope
February 1: Christian Bookaholic
February 2: Karen Sue Hadley
February 3: Quiet Quilter
February 4: Daysong Reflections

"Angels Unaware" is available in Kindle edition:
  • File Size: 5158 KB
  • Print Length: 92 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Golden Fairy Arts; 1 edition (December 6, 2016)
  • Publication Date: December 6, 2016
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English

I got a free copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own and voluntarily given. No compensation was received. 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Temperature Blanket - Week 3

This week's high temperatures:

Jan 15: 35
Jan 16: 32 with freezing rain starting at noon. The kids got out of school an hour early.
Jan 17: 36 Rain 5:00 - midnight *Snow Day*
Jan 18: 37
Jan 19: 38
Jan 20: 34 Rain from 1:30 - 9:30 am
Jan 21: 55

Interestingly, the most used yarn so far is for the 35-39 degree range.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Temperature Blanket-Week 2

I realized that I was thinking that I was working my blanket from the bottom up like with other blankets I've made, when in reality it was starting with the top, because--January 1st, right?? It should be the top of my blanket, not the bottom! Not a big deal, I just have to flip it, so what I was thinking as the bottom is now the top and the back is now the front! I also decided to mark when the kids have a snow day from school (since we had 3 of them this week)

This week's high temperatures:
Jan 8: 18
Jan 9: 26 with snow from ~8:00 - 3:00 (and overnight)
Jan 10: 45 (Snow overnight until ~5:00 am) Rain from ~1:00 - ~10:00 *Snow Day*
Jan 11: 41 Rain from ~4:00 pm to midnight *Snow Day*
Jan 12: 33 snow from 9:00 am to 10:00 am  *Snow Day*
Jan 13: 21
Jan 14: 30

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Book Review, Blog Tour, and Giveaway: "Never Forget" by Jody Hedlund

Will she betray his trust to stay on the island she loves?
Abbie Wilson is content to spend her days clamming, crabbing, and tending Rose Island Lighthouse. Her grandpa is the head light keeper, but his senility may lead to their eviction. Since leaving the island would kill her beloved Gramps, Abbie will do anything to keep him in the one place he knows and loves.
Wealthy Nathaniel Winthrop III’s wild living has gained him a reputation as the ‘bad boy’ among the elite social circles of Newport. After a blow to the head in a yachting accident washes him up on Rose Island, Nathaniel has no memories of his past.
Abbie tends the wounded stranger in her home only to realize he assumes they’re married. Although she knows she needs to correct Nathaniel’s mistake, his presence calms Gramps and provides a way to prevent eviction from the lighthouse.
The longer the charade continues, the harder it gets for Abbie to tell Nathaniel the truth, more so as she begins to fall in love. Everyone she’s ever loved has abandoned her. Will Nathaniel leave her too, once he discovers he’s not really her husband?

My Thoughts

"Never Forget" is the fifth book in the "Beacons of Hope" series. I did not read any of the other books and didn't feel like I was missing anything. I don't know if any of the characters were introduced in any of the previous books, although by reading the book description, I think that Nathaniel must have at least a small role in the fourth book. I think I'd like to go back and read the earlier books in the series. Abbie is strong and tough, but also scared and alone. I liked watching her fall in love with Nathaniel is not a very likeable fellow when we first meet him and it was encouraging to see his transformation into a man of God who desires to do what is honorable. While Abbie and Nathaniel kiss quite passionately, they do not go further than that physically. This book had twists I did not expect and kept me wanting to keep reading and to not want to put it down.

About the Author

jody-hedlund-web-copyWinner of the 2016 Christian Book Award and Christy Award,  best-selling author Jody Hedlund writes inspirational historical romances for both youth and adults.
Jody lives in central Michigan with her husband, five busy children, and five spoiled cats. Although Jody prefers to experience daring and dangerous adventures through her characters rather than in real life, she’s learned that a calm existence is simply not meant to be (at least in this phase of her life!).
When she’s not penning another of her page-turning stories, she loves to spend her time reading, especially when it also involves consuming coffee and chocolate.

Guest Post from Jody Hedlund

Which Do You Prefer: Series or Standalones?
By Jody Hedlund
Readers usually have strong opinions about whether they like series or standalones.
Some readers refuse to read books that are inter-related. Others can’t get enough books about their favorite characters.
I see the pros and cons of both.
For series, I don’t like feeling lost as I try to wade through previous characters along with their backstory. I recently started a series by a well-known author and was disappointed to realize the first book was connected to a previous series she’d already published. From the get-go, I felt left out as though I didn’t quite know who all the characters were or their significance.
On the other hand, for standalones, I sometimes feel as though I would like the story to continue. I’ve invested in the setting and characters and so enjoy when I can return to that place and continue to glimpse the characters I’ve fallen in love with—even if from a distance.
My favorites are books that fall in the middle between standalone and series. I like to think of them as standalones within a series. Becky Wade’s Porter brother series is like that. Each of the books centers around one of the brothers (and a tomboy sister). While characters from other books make an appearance in the stories, each plot is separate and complete without any reliance upon another book.
My Beacons of Hope lighthouse series falls in the middle too. The books are related in that they all take place at lighthouses and share a symbolic “cross of hope” that is passed on from one book to the next. A minor character in a previous book becomes the hero or heroine in the next book. But each book can be read by itself without having read any of the others.
In other words, readers can pick up my newest release, Never Forget, which is the fifth and final book in the series, and they wouldn’t be confused about who the characters are or what their history is. The plot starts with a bang and ends with a satisfying sigh. It is complete story unto itself.
And yet, for those who’ve read other books in the series, they’ll get to see the happily-ever-after of a character from a previous book. And they’ll also get to find out where the cross of hope finally ends.
If you’re not a fan of series, I encourage you to give the Beacons of Hope series a try. It might satisfy the need for standalones and series all in one neat little package.
To that end, I’m giving away all FIVE books in the series as part of the Celebrate Lit blog tour to one lucky winner!
Tell us: What is your preference: Standalones, Series, or Standalones within a Series?

Blog Stops

January 10: Karen Sue Hadley
January 10: Bookworm Mama
January 11: Faithfully Bookish
January 11: Inklings and Notions
January 12: Smiling Book Reviews
January 12: Genesis 5020
January 13: The Scribbler
January 13: Bibliophile Reviews
January 14: Daysong Reflections
January 14: Blogging With Carol
January 15: Moments Dipped in Ink
January 16: A Greater Yes
January 16: Bigreadersite
January 17: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS
January 18: Book by Book
January 18: Jeanette’s Thoughts
January 19: Carpe Diem
January 19: A Bakers Perspective
January 19: Splashes of Joy
January 20: Christian Bookaholic
January 20: Stuff and Nonsense
January 21: Radiant Light
January 21: cherylbbookblog
January 22: Neverending Stories
January 22: A Path of Joy
January 23: Henry Happens
January 23: Onceuponatime


To celebrate her tour, Jody is giving away the entire Beacons of Hope series. Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/ad6d

"Never Forget" is available in paperback:
  • Series: Beacons of Hope (Book 5)
  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Northern Lights Press (January 4, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0692770879
  • ISBN-13: 978-0692770870
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches

and in Kindle edition:
  • File Size: 3962 KB
  • Print Length: 284 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Northern Lights Press; 1 edition (January 4, 2017)
  • Publication Date: January 4, 2017
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01MTK39PB

I got a free copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own and given voluntarily. No compensation was received.