Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Christmas from Heaven

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir takes part in a yearly Christmas tradition.  At each program,
some story is shared.  One of those true stories was read by Tom Brokaw.   This is from the book:

                                                       Christmas from Heaven

It is the story of "The Berlin Candy Bomber," Lt. Gail Halvorsen who was only 27 years old when he first gave 2 pieces of gum to children in Berlin.   This American pilot was delivering necessary food to the city of Berlin in 1948.    He noticed the children standing by the fence, watching.  They were sweet children who didn't ask for anything.  This moved him to share what he had.  It also gave him an idea.  He decided to share his own rations of chocolate and gum with the children. Other soldiers joined the cause.  They made little parachutes out of handkerchiefs and dropped down the treats to the children.

This kind act helped bring hope to the children and their families.  The entire story is told very sweetly in the book, "Christmas from Heaven."  You will also see beautiful illustrations by Robert T. Barrett.  There are even black and white photographs from historical archives.   Inside the book you will find a DVD. This is a short program showing The Mormon Tabernacle Choir performing while Tom Brokaw reads the story to listeners.  We also get to meet Lt. Gail Halvorsen at the end of the program.  This kind, humble man is now in his 90's and a delight to see. 

At the end of the book, we read more about the accomplishments and life of the Lieutenant.  It is impressive and makes one proud!

This is an excellent book for children and families.  The companion DVD is a marvelous resource.  The true story will inspire excellence and compassion in children.  It is a charming lesson in history.

* Disclosure - I received this item for review purposes.*

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Smart Woman's Guide to Retirement Planning by Mary Hunt

Book - The Smart Woman's Guide to Retirement Planning

Author - Mary Hunt

Publisher - Revell

Hardcover, 213 pages

Mary Hunt always has great ideas for managing money. In each of her books, I find inspiration and motivation!  In her latest book, "The Smart Woman's Guide to Retirement Planning" she shares what it takes to get control of one's finances with the later years in mind.

I was specifically intrigued by the latest resources in money management (including specific banks she considers trustworthy; online banking, bill paying, etc.). I also loved her revelation when she realized she, herself, was very close to the age to begin receiving Medicare, and she had a moment of panic!

Her insight and friendly advice on different types of investments, ideas for savings, and her wonderful "you - can- do - it" attitude is just what we need in today's difficult economy.

She compared taking care of one's health to taking care of one's finances.  When we neglect our health, eating junk food, ignoring our need for exercise, and live stressful lives, the result is damage and disease to the body.  This is very similar to our reckless, and careless approach to our money.  We can live financially healthy lives, or we can live in a financial mess! 

She reminds us that we are responsible for what we do with our money.  Here is a quote from the book:

"If you have a management style like the one I lived by for so many years in which you spend money until it's gone then white - knuckle it until you can manage to get more, you need a change. Your system doesn't work."  (page 57)

She tells us that in our lives, it doesn't matter how much money we made, it will only matter what we DID with that money.

*Disclosure - I received a copy of each book for review purposes.*

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Review - Home to Heather Creek Books

1. "Before the Dawn" by Kathleen Bauer.

The story starts with an elderly couple, Charlotte and her husband Bob.  After the death of their daughter, they are given custody of their 3 grandchildren to raise. One is a young boy and the other two are teenagers.   The family adjusts to living all together on a rural Nebraska Farm.   There is a lot of grief to deal with and routines to establish.  The children barely know their grandparents and don't feel settled.  Charlotte was very unsure of her parenting skills and found it difficult to make decisions.  Bob's more set-in-his-ways view of life helped bring more stability to the family. This was a modern story with normal trials.  Overall the story is an interesting read, but was a little hard to warm up to the characters.

2. "Sweet September" by Kathleen Bauer.

The story continues and the family is more settled.  Life has become more normal for the family.  We deal with more than just grief this time.   The family seems to have bonded and there is more action and excitement.  There are a few mysteries and fun things happening.  Charlotte seems to have gained more confidence in the parenting of her grandchildren.   We meet the same neighbors in the same community from the last book, and get to know them a little better.

The author, "Kathleen Bauer" is the pen name of the various authors who actually write each story.  The first book was written by Carolyne Aarsen.  The second book was written by Tricia Goyer.  This gives each story a more unique perspective, even though it is an ongoing series. These wholesome stories are gentle Christian entertainment.

*Disclosure - I received a copy of each book for review purposes.*

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Secret Keeper by Beverly Lewis

Book - The Secret Keeper

Author - Beverly Lewis

Publisher - Bethany House

Paperback, 346 pages

Beverly Lewis is known for introducing the genre of Amish Fiction.  Millions of her books have been published.  She is a trusted and much loved author. 

In her latest book, "The Secret Keeper," she takes us through a beautiful story about a seeker who wants to be Amish.  The main character, Jenny, wants to leave her old life and go live with an Old Order Amish family. We get to see what it would be like through her eyes!  The storyline is peaceful, instructive and enjoyable. 

Jenny gets to wear Amish clothes, sew, bake, cook, do housework and go to church services. Any homemaker reading this book will be inspired to get right up and start cooking and cleaning!  One might even want to start mending!

There is a peaceful beauty in the way the author brings us into Amish life.  There were moments when the wisdom of the Amish people soothed my own personal worries!  The trials of some of the young people who considered leaving the Amish way of life, to join progressive churches was very sad.  I love the example Jenny set for them. 

There was a point in the story where I almost panicked. I didn't like the way it was going for Jenny. But as it all played out, I began to understand the reasoning behind her actions.  It had to happen the way Lewis wrote it.  Her wisdom in writing combined with her knowledge of the Amish world is incredible! 

Overall, this has to be my favorite of all her books thus far.  The last page, actually made me want to cheer!  It was an excellent story!

*Disclosure - I received a copy of this book for review purposes.*

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Letters by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Book - The Letters:  The Inn at Eagle Hill

Author - Suzanne Woods Fisher

Publisher - Revell

320 pages, paperback

What intrigued me most about this book was the idea of having one's very own INN!  Rose Schrock, and her children, had to move in with her mother-in-law because of financial difficulties.  The story begins after she becomes a widow.  Her husband had some investment problems and left Rose with debts.  Rose felt very strongly about paying everyone back, despite a bankruptcy.  Even if she could only send each person a few dollars, here and there, she planned to pay them all back.  This is part of the reason why she opened a little Inn.  She also wanted a way to support the family.

The story goes back and forth between the Amish community and Englishers in the outside world.  Some of the English people stay at Rose's Inn.   There is an intense contrast between those living in "the world" and the Amish.   One is full of intense, stressful troubles; the other has a great deal of support and help for whatever comes up!  I sensed the Englishers were the loneliest and most anxious people in the world, compared to the Amish.

In the beginning  of the story, I had a little trouble understanding what was happening or who was who!  But eventually I got the hang of it.  I enjoyed reading about the Amish neighbors and Rose's children.

Overall, it is an interesting story.  It is a long read, with some funny moments along the way.

Bonus!  The book includes a delightful recipe for Blueberry Cornbread, which was a specialty at the INN.

“Available August 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

*Disclosure - I received a copy of this book for review purposes.*

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Knitting Answer Book

Book - The Knitting Answer Book - "Solutions to Every Problem You'll Ever Face.  Answers to Every Question You'll Ever Ask."

Author - Margaret Radcliffe

Publisher - Storey

Pages - 400, including index.

List Price - $14.95

This handy little book works as a manual for knitters.  Whether you are an amateur or experienced knitter, you will find this book very helpful.

There are 13 chapters:

1. Casting on. (Problem solving; Basic Cast on; Special Cast on; etc.)

2. The Basics. (The Knit Stitch; The Purl Stitch; The Slipped Stitch; The Yarn Over; Etc.)

3. Binding Off. (Solving Problems; Standard Bind offs; etc.)

4. Tools.  (Knitting Needles; etc.)

5. Yarn.  (All About Yarn; Working with Yarn; etc.)

6.  Reading Patterns. (Sizing; Gauge; Abbreviations and Charts; etc.)

7.  Pattern Stitches.  (Cables; Lace; Basic Pattern Stitches; etc.)

8.  Circular Knitting.  (Getting Started; Changing Colors; etc.)

9.  Color.  (Stripes; Mosaic; etc.)

10. Shaping. (Increases; Decreases; etc.)

11. Fitting.  (Before; While you work; After; etc.)

12. Finishing.  (Blocking; Sewing up; etc.)

13. Embellishments.  (Beads; Cords; etc.)

The book also includes an index and a section on resources.    There are small illustrations throughout to help us understand the explanations.  The entire book includes questions with the answers designed to teach us.  Overall it is beautifully done and a valuable book. 

*Disclosure - I received a copy of this book for review purposes.*

Friday, April 26, 2013

Raise Him Up by Derrick and Stephanie Moore

Book - Raise Him Up - A Single Mother's Guide to Raising a Successful Black Man

Authors - Derrick Moore and Stephanie Perry Moore

Publisher - Thomas Nelson

Paperback, 265 pages.

For a Mother to be a sole provider for her family is a large burden to carry.  When she is trying to raise a successful son alone, she has it even harder.  This book is a perfect guidebook for single mothers. 

Derrick shares lessons and memories of his own mother.  Her strong and courageous wisdom floored me.  I am in awe of her.   Derrick grew up in a financially poor household. His Mother worked to support him, and his two siblings.  She did a fantastic job. 

Derrick gives us motivational lessons, including inspiring stories and brief Bible lessons.  He talks about mothers being the cheerleaders and coaches of their children.  His writing makes one feel like one is having dinner at his house and hearing incredible wisdom.  He is a valuable mentor!

Stephanie gives us wonderful pep talks.  At one point, I got out my pen and started highlighting sections.  To me, that means I intend to keep this book and benefit from its wisdom for a long time!

I want to share a couple of quotes from the book:

Page 45:  "It's very important that you stay disciplined.  Don't get caught up in attempting to give what your son wants; instead, give him what he needs."

Page 48:  "My mother was great at giving what she had and not complaining about what she didn't have."

Page 26:  "Will you put into use all the tools at your disposal to reach your son and call him forth into the destiny God has prepared for him?"

Throughout the book, you will find sections like:  "Mama's Stories;"   "Time Out;"  "Spiritual Impact;" and "Athletic Tale."     I realize this book was written specifically for single mothers who are struggling to raise their sons, but I found it highly valuable for me - as a wife and mother of five children.  Derrick and Stephanie share tremendous insights into what godly, successful motherhood looks like.  This is a valuable book!

*Disclosure - I received a copy of this book for review purposes.*

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Tutor's Daughter by Julie Klassen

Book - The Tutor's Daughter

Author - Julie Klassen

Publisher - Bethany House

Paperback, 412 pages

John Smallwood and his daughter Emma run a boarding school for boys.  The story focuses on Emma, who is a young lady.  When the family has trouble getting new students to enroll, they take up an offer to go live in a wealthy household to personally tutor 2 boys.  The home is a manor house in England.  It is fascinating to see how the family operates in such an environment. There are plenty of servants who work very hard.  The description of the different rooms and the meals is wonderful to read about. 

The story has mystery, and a little bit of suspense. There were also a few references to Gothic novels, which I didn't like.   The brief romantic descriptions did not interest me, but I enjoyed reading about the student's lessons.   Overall, it seems like a book that would do very well in the general/secular marketplace.

*Disclosure - I received this book for review purposes.*

Monday, March 18, 2013

Winner of Little Pilgrims Progress set of Books

For the "Little Pilgrim's Progress" set of books, the winner is:

Carolynn Stewart from Disorganized Thoughts of an Organized Heart!

Thank you so much to all who entered!


Monday, March 11, 2013

Little Pilgrim's Progress from John Bunyan's Classic - Giveaway

Set of Books:

1. Little Pilgrim's Progress from John Bunyan's Classic by Helen L. Taylor (60th Anniversary Edition)

2. Little Pilgrims' Progress Adventure Guide by Deanna Conrad

The books are written for ages - 8 to 12.  They may certainly be read and understood by older children and adults as well. The vocabulary and style of writing is very clear, interesting and easy to understand.  John Bunyan's classic story, written in the 1600's, is difficult for modern readers.  Helen did a fantastic job, gently taking his masterpiece and bringing it to a younger audience of today.

Little Pilgrim's Progress was originally written 60 years ago. This book is an anniversary edition and contains a few pencil illustrations, which are lovely and help guide the story along.

The main character of "Little Christian" is a young boy who is tired from his burdens and is trying to get to the "Celestial City."  We read about the people he encounters along the way, the trials he faces, his confusion at times, and the help he receives from God's workers - like Evangelist. It is a beautiful story explaining our own journey to Heaven, in a marvelous way. 

This story will stay with children for many years.  As they grow into adulthood, remembrances of Christian's adventures will come back to them and help them in their own walk with the Lord.

As for the Adventure Guide, it is a valuable addition to this book.  Inside you will find a brief biography of John Bunyan.  For many this will be the very first introduction, to young readers, of who he was.   There are comprehension and discussion questions, vocabulary words, and little fun sections for readers to fill in, such as the "Character Chart," which has a two column chart to separate those in the story who had a positive influence on Christian and those who had a negative influence on him.  There is also an answer key in the back of the book. It is paperback and contains 79 pages.

The adventure guide is an incredible tool, particularly for homeschooling students. Both books are published by Moody.

The Giveaway

Would you like an opportunity to win your own set of these books?  This includes one copy of "Little Pilgrim's Progress," and one copy of the companion adventure guide. 

This contest is closed. The winner is:

Carolynn Stewart

*Disclosure - I received a set of these books for review purposes.*

To find out more about my commercial breaks, please see my disclosure page.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Fiddler by Beverly Lewis

Book - "The Fiddler" by Beverly Lewis

Publisher - Bethany House

Paperback, 326 pages

Beverly Lewis is well known for her insightful portrayal of Amish living.  Her stories are always vivid, well written and fascinating.  In "The Fiddler," Englisher Amelia is a professional Concert fiddler. She has an exciting life and a loving family.  Somehow, she ends up in an out of the way area and meets an Old Order Amish man, Michael.   He is young and struggling with whether or not he wants to join the Amish church.  The two form a friendship.  We read about Amelia staying with the Amish for a time and seeing it all through her eyes.  We also learn about some of the antics of the Amish youth, during their time of deciding whether they will join the church, or leave it for the English world.  I was so saddened to read that some of the young people actually were using Facebook!  It shocked me.   There is something sweet, nostalgic, and precious about the Amish way of life - it is almost untouched and innocent.  It is a life that many crave. While reading this story, you  sense that you are there, living among them. There is a sense of peace that comes through which makes the story a delight to read.  Amelia's English life is also fascinating. Her classical music endeavors is calming and a nice contrast to Amish life.  Overall, it is a valuable, interesting story.

*Disclosure - I received this book for review purposes.*

To find out more about my commercial breaks, please see my disclosure page.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Book - Called to Controversy

Book - Called to Controversy

Author - Ruth Rosen

Publisher - Thomas Nelson

Hardcover, 320 pages

This is the biography of Moishe Rosen, written by his daughter, Ruth.  She did a phenomenal job describing his life and his ministry work.  

I loved reading about his growing up years, seeing the family portraits, and getting a glimpse into the time in which he lived. He was born in 1932. 

As he begins working in ministry, I was amazed to read how God worked in his life to perform miracles (often despite him).   He, like all people, had flaws but he was a tremendously dedicated worker! 

Ruth describes how "hecklers" would attack the street preachers.  Moishe experienced this and found a way to handle them peacefully.  He developed a training program for future street preachers so they were expecting these attacks and were able to continue their work without letting it get to them.  This was fascinating!

This book would be excellent for those working in ministry.  There are explanations of how the work was run, and how procedures were put into place to protect both the ministry itself, and trouble within.  Readers will also be greatly inspired by Moishe's dedication, energy, and work despite so many problems. We also get to read about his family, which is inspiring. His work and life will impact many people, and this book shares his story beautifully.

*Disclosure - I received this book for review purposes.*

To find out more about my commercial breaks, please see my disclosure page.

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