Friday, December 31, 2010

Catching Up Before the New Year!

So today, I hope to get all caught up on family news and then add some book reviews that have been waiting for a while for me to write. News first!

1. Aidan turned 18 months
Aidan has grown up so much in the last few months. He is definitely more little boy and less baby. He LOVES trains and cars and actually probably likes Thomas the tank engine even more than Eóin now.  He is a total snuggle bug and loves to cuddle with his nookie and blankie (this is getting limited to bed soon which I am not looking forward to!). He hates wearing pants and would run around naked all day if I let him. It seems like every time I turn around he has his pants off! At his check-up he was 35% height and weight and 90% head :-)

2. Christmas Celebrations
We had a great time celebrating Christmas with the Harrisons. We had 15 people at our house for Christmas dinner and we managed to get everyone around the table! It was yummy and lots of fun. Eóin especially loved having everyone around. He also loved opening all his presents! The boys are quite worn out from all the fun - it might take them a few days to recover and get used to our quieter schedule again! I lost my camera charger so I don't have many pics from this year - I'll try to post what I have soon though.

3. New Baby
We are expecting our third (and final!) baby on July 31, 2011. When I told Eóin there was a baby in my tummy, he told me that it was only chicken and crackers (what we had for dinner that day). Obviously, he doesn't quite get it yet :-) We are very excited and a little nervous about being outnumbered  - lol

That's about it from around here. I'll try to get pics up soon! Happy New Year :-)

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Great Kid's Book!

One Hand, Two Hands, Five Fingers, Ten
God, Thanks for my hands, please use them again!

This is an adorable children's book by Max Lucado that shows the you are never to small to be a help and serve others. First it shows all the ordinary ways we use our hands every day and scores big points by using words like "stinky" and "oo-ey goo-ey." Then it shows all the ways that even little kids can use their hands to care for others and be a help from giving hugs to picking up your stinky socks :-)

My son is three years old and enjoys this book. The first day we got it, we probably read it five times in a row. The only thing I wish was different was if they used pictures of boy too, instead of just a girl. He doesn't care too much right now, but my son is starting to enter the stage of "that's for girls" and I wouldn't want him to miss out on such a good lesson because there are only pictures of girls. (Even though they are very cute pictures :-)

I would highly recommend this book though. It's a great and simple way to teach our children about serving others!

Thank you to Thomas Nelson for a free copy of this book to review.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Love's First Bloom by Delia Parr

Under the cover of darkness, Ruth Livingstone is ferried to a new home, under a new name, with a new charge under her care. Scandalous accusations have been raised against her father - a minister! She leaves town with a small baby in her care under the name Widow Malloy until her father's name is cleared and she can be free to be herself again and find a real home for sweet Baby Lily.

When things don't go well with the trial, Ruth finds herself feeling lost and alone. She finds comfort tending a old forsaken garden until Jake Spencer arrives. Can she trust this stranger? Finally, a friendship forms between them which starts to blossom into more. But when the secrets they each hold finally come to the surface, their love is in danger of being lost forever.

I found this book a little slow, but I still enjoyed it. Although it had a little mystery behind it, it didn't grab me til near the end. The concept was good though and the love story was sweet. I'll probably read it again some time in the future.

Thanks to Bethany House Publishers for a free copy of this book to Review.

Saturday, November 06, 2010


What's a good fall without playing in the leaves? Even though the tree in our backyard still has plenty o' leaves left on it, I managed to rake up a pile for the kids to play in and work off some of their wiggles :-) It was pretty windy so the leaves went everywhere.  Good fun!

I had music for this whole thing but after the first song it stopped working - too lazy right now to fix it - maybe later :-)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Book Review: Don't Look Back by Lynette Eason

Jamie Cash has spent the last twelve years trying to get on with her life after she was brutally abducted 12 years ago. Although she struggles with trust and keeps her life very private, she is finally starting to recover her independence and make a good life for herself. There is even a guy interested in her, and though she is not quite ready for a relationship, she finds herself drawn to him too.
Everything seems to be going well until her attacker comes back to finish what he started - to end her pain and be her hero. The one that got away will pay!

As the second book in a series, I thought this read pretty well as a stand alone book. I could tell there was a story behind some things, but everything important was explained and it didn't take long for me to catch up.  I enjoyed the action and though I had a pretty good guess about who the bad guy was, it actually probably made the story more exciting for me.  I thought it was scary enough to keep me on my toes but not keep me up at night :-) A good read.

Available October 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group

Thank you to Revell Publishers for a free copy of this book!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Book Review: The Waiting by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Jorie King is waiting for Benjamin Zook to come back from war to his own people. She is hoping he will have grown into the man she knows he could be - free from his discontent and ready to settle down among his own kind. The plain kind. But she is devastated when she receives the news that Ben will never come home - he has been killed at war.

Caleb Zook is dealing with his own grief while trying to raise a family by himself while fending off the match making wiles of his well-meaning aunts.

As Jorie and Caleb become friends and help each other through the pain, a new love begins to grow. Everything is turned upside down when they receive some shocking news that could change everything.

This book was the best book I have read in a while. Because it's the second in a series, it took me a while to get to know everyone. But once I was into it, I was hooked! I loved that even though the characters were Amish, the book focused on their "normalness" rather than their customs. They struggle with things everyone struggles with. You will definitely need a box of tissue for this - I must have spent half the book balling but it was so good! I will definitely be looking for the rest of the series!

Available October 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Thanks to Revell Publishers for a free copy of this book to review!

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Book Review: The House on Malcolm Street by Leisha Kelly

Leah Breckenridge's life is unfair. How could God take away both her husband and baby? And on top of that, there is no more money and she doesn't dare look to her father for help. She turns to her only hope, her late husband's aunt who has invited them to visit. With her young daughter's strong faith challenging her at every turn, Leah is constantly confronted by her bitterness against God.
As Leah settles into her new home, she begins to heal and find hope for her future again. Will she be able to finally trust God with her hopes and fears and find her faith again?

Grab your box of Kleenex for a great story that looks into the hard time of life. I really loved this story. The  characters were real hurting people who were struggling with hard issues and it was great to watch them grow and heal together!

Available September 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Thank you to Revell Publishers for a free copy of this book to review.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Book Review: No More Christian Nice Girl by Paul Coughlin and Jennifer D. Degler

Sugar and Spice and all things nice - that's what little girls are made of. So we've been told, and have been expected to be in society for centuries. But Paul Coughlin and Jennifer Deglen say differently. Jesus expects Christians to be like him and although he was always loving,he was not always what today's society would consider nice. He was instead, GOOD. He did what was right no matter who was offended or who got upset. He was not afraid of whether others perceived him to be nice or not. And he expects us, as women, to be like him.

Coughlin and  Degler give examples of how we are nice but not good in our marriages, friendships, churches and workplaces. When we try to love up to every one else's expectations instead of obeying what God has for us we damage the relationships around us and instead end up burned out and resentful of all those that take advantage of our "nice-ness."

I thought this book had some good things to say about being an authentic Christian. I especially liked their explanation of how conflict increases intimacy when handled correctly.  I wasn't the biggest fan of their writing style, however. I thought the examples were a bit cheesy and I didn't like that they used acronyms for everything. It was a bit over the top for me - almost seemed a little condescending. But I thought they made valid points and I'm sure others would enjoy the writing style - it just wasn't my cup of tea :-)

Thanks to Bethany House Publishers for a free copy of this book to review.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Book Review: A Memory Between Us by Sarah Sundin

Lieutenant Ruth Doherty brings cheer and hope to the many World War II soldiers who have been injured and are under her care. Her gentle ways and easy laugh beings many declarations of love and offers of marriage from the men, but Ruth will have none of it. Her goal is to support her orphaned family at home and not to be distracted from that goal by any man. So she lets nobody past her kind and polite barriers she has erected around her heart.

Major Jack Novak has always succeeded in every area of his life, until a mission lands him under the care of Ruth Doherty and it seems he will not succeed in getting to know her better.
Slowly, Jack is able to befriend the Lieutenant, but as World War II comes to a dangerous climax, everything he has built threatens to fall apart around them.

I am not usually one for stories about war - they are usually just too sad for me to handle, but I thought that this book did a great job of presenting the story with the backdrop of a war without it being too graphic and heart-wrenching for me to read.  I thought her details were great - in fact, I looked up pictures of the planes she described and that really made her descriptions come to life! I enjoyed the plot too - some turns I didn't expect. A great story of following God's will, forgiveness, and friendship! (I totally did not even mean to aliterate that but it's pretty cool ;-)

A big thanks to Revell Publishers for a free copy of this book to reveiw!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Story, by Eóin William Harrison

Tonight, Jonathan was telling Eóin a story but since Eóin kept interrupting with his own ideas, we let him tell his own story. I grabbed the computer and tried to dictate it as he was telling it. Next time I'll have to tape it because there are lots of actions involved (I added some where I thought it necessary :-) Enjoy.

There was a triceratops. And he was orange, and he had to get some food. He was a baby one. He was flying to get some food. I think there was another bird. It was a daddy bird. And then there was another one - it was a mommy bird. And then there was another dinosaur picking some ovals. It was like this (scratching motion). And then he saw a washing machine. It was building the foundation. There was another machine pulling dirt (like this - moving with swishing sounds). And then there was another one - a mixer pouring concrete. And then they put some walls on it.  And then they paint the house. And then there was people and then the people go inside the house. The End (book closing motion with a pretend book).

So if you couldn't tell, he is really into dinosaurs, food, and building stuff at the moment :-)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Book Review: A Hope Undaunted by Julie Lessman

Katie O'Conner has just graduated high school and has endless possibilities ahead of her. Living in the 1920's opportunities for women are opening up and Katie plans to take advantage of that. After being under her father's unbending rules, Katie has no plans to be under the same kind of husband. That is why Katie is dating the wealthy and good-looking Jack Worthington. He is besotted with her and will let her do as she pleases with enough money to fund it. Both planning to be lawyers with the same dreams and goals, they are the perfect fit. Everything is going as Katie planned.

Until Katie is forced to spend the summer working for Luke McGee, the boy who made her childhood miserable. Except he is not a boy anymore. Can they put aside their differences to work for a greater cause?  And will Katie still follow her dreams to fight for women's independence after a summer of conflict, hope, and maybe even love?

I enjoyed most of this story. I definitely wasn't expecting all the twists and turns in the plot - so that made it really interesting. I enjoyed getting to know the O'Conner family, although there was so many of them it took me a while to keep them all straight in my head. I also liked seeing into that time period. It is the first book I've read which looks into the themes of women coming into independence and being freed from the restraints of the past so it made a good fresh backdrop. My only complaint was that it seemed to focus on sensuality a little too much for my taste. I realize that as society became more freed from the strict restraints it had before, that it was more abundant but it seemed a part of nearly every character and it was a bit overboard, I thought. Besides that, I really did like the plot, characters and themes.

Thanks you to Revell for a free copy of this book to review.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Book Review: Making Waves by Lorna Seilstad

Marguerite Westing feels trapped in courting Roger Gordon. He is the most boring man she has ever met, especially considering that Marguerite is anything but boring. Always looking for a new adventure or way to brake out of the norms of the confining society she lives in, Marguerite cannot stand to be chained to a man who never talks of anything but himself and expects her to listen in rapt attention, just thankful to have caught a wealthy man. But riches are not enough for her, and when her father suggests the family spend the summer camping at Lake Manawa, she is elated at the thought of escaping Roger's company and having a new adventure.

And adventure is what she finds! A new love of sailing - but how is she to accomplish learning to sail when all the rules of polite society forbid a woman out on the water? Of course, nothing is impossible for the spunky girl, but while she is hiding her secret, she finds out her family has other secrets of a much ore dangerous kind. Meanwhile, Marguerite starts to fall for her sailing instructor - the handsome and never boring Trip Andrews. But it seems like marrying Roger is the only way to save her family from ruin. Marguerite learns many lessons about secrets, lies and the danger of hiding the truth as she decides whether to follow her heart, or save her family.

This is another one of those books that you cannot judge by it's cover. I almost didn't read it because it looked a bit goofy, but I'm glad I did! This is Lorna Seilstad's first novel and I think it is a fun, exciting read. I love the spunky character in Marguerite and the funny way she thinks. I also enjoyed reading about the "camping" of the upper class - hilarious :-) A great summer read!

Available September 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Thanks to Revell Publishers for a free copy of this book to review!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Book Review: Outlive Your Life by Max Lucado

I have to admit that usually when I hear that someone will be preaching or writing about the book of Acts I sort of inwardly groan. And I know why. Chances are, if you are going to be talking about the book of Acts, you will have to talk about sharing your faith. I know I do not do a great job of sharing Christ with others and so, knowing I will feel guilty, I dread hearing the truth again.

This book is different. Lucado goes through the book of Acts and encourages us to follow the example of the early church, while reminding us that they were ordinary people just like me. Not only that but he tells wonderful stories of ordinary people from today who are touching the world with the choices they make every day. I don't come away feeling discouraged about my failure, but excited about what God could really do through me if I follow Christ in faith.  The topics are practical, including using your home to reach out, reaching out over cultural boundaries, unity among Christians, and so much more!

The chapters are short and include Scripture and a prayer at the end. Perfect for reading along side your normal Bible reading. I would HIGHLY recommend this book to any Christian!

A HUGE thank you to Thomas Nelson's BookSneeze program for a free copy of this book to review. I loved it!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Book Review: The Boy Who Changed The World by Andy Andrews

Every choice you make can make a difference.  That is the main story behind this book for children about the super seeds that fed over 2 million people all because of some young boys who made good choices. The story follows 4 boys as they grow up and all end up having a part in feeding the hungry of the world.  Norman wanted to help hungry people as he looked at all the corn on his family farm, Henry wanted to use his knowledge of plants to help others, George had a kind heart that he used to help his friends, and Moses reached out and saved a little boy in need of help. All of their lives touched each other by the choices that they made, and eventually they changed the world!

I love the idea of this story and the pictures are fabulous. I will only say that it is a little confusing to go backwards each time. I even had a bit of a hard time connecting the people - I had to look back and see where they fit in. I read it to my three year old son and he seemed to enjoy it but by the last story, he was losing interest. I think that as we read it over again though in the future, he will be able to connect the dots. I think it just takes more than one read for younger kids. For older kids, though, it would make sense and they would learn a lot. A great way to talk to your child about the choices he makes every day.

Thank you so much to Thomas Nelson Publishers (through their BookSneeze program) for a free copy of this book to review.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Book Review: Sixteen Brides by Stephanie Grace Whitson

"April 7, 1871: Another cargo of war widows arrived in Plum Grove last Tuesday morning, sixteen in number, and filed upon claims adjacent to town. This was decidedly the best lot of widows that has arrived so far."  (from newspaper clipping on back cover)

Hamilton Drake has promised land, homesteads, and freedom to sixteen eager and willing widows. Each one embarking on her own personal journey to start a fresh start in the world. What they don't realize is that while it is legal for women to homestead in Americas new territory out west, that is not at all what Mr. Drake has in mind. Men will be lining up to marry these women once they get to Nebraska, and he plans to line his pockets from the matches.
The women find out his plan just in time, and while some don't mind the idea, marrying is the last thing the others have in mind. Teaming together, these brave women build their own homesteads, form new friendships, and even find love out in the wilderness of Nebraska.

I thought this was a great look into this interesting event in history. I really grew to love the characters and cheer them on as they faced obstacles and worked so hard to achieve their dreams. It was a little hard for me to learn all their names, especially when it switched back and forth from their formal names to their Christian names, but besides that I have no complaints. I loved learned each woman's individual personality, history and goals and watching them all come together!

Thank Bethany House for a free copy of this book to review.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Blog Tour Book Review: The Bishop

A grotesque murder, with no trace of evidence has been committed in DC. FBI Agent Patrick Bowers is called to the case even though it seems to be a stand alone crime and his specialty is serial killers. But as he delves deeper into the case, more deaths occur and all he can find are loose threads that lead nowhere.
With his personal life falling apart, trying to solve this case is even harder. Will he be able to find the killer before it's too late and someone close to him gets hurt? Time is running out!

I have mixed feelings about this book. I enjoyed the plot and the twists in it, but it was a little too gorey for me. It's not like tv when you can look away at the gross bits - you have to keep reading in a book :-)
I really liked getting to see the relationship between him and his step daughter evolve, but the romantic interests kind of annoyed me.
I spent the entire time trying to figure out who the murderer was, but wasn't able to guess.  I enjoyed how he set up my expectation for the ending - a good page turner. I would recommend this book if you have a strong stomach and like a good mystery, but if you prefer less detail about the gorey side of death you may want to pass on this one. If you are interested in his take on writing about evil, you can visit his blog here.

Thanks so much to Revell Publishing for a free copy of this book to review.

Note: I can't put a cover picture up at this time due to poor internet quality. Will post one as soon as possible.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Blog Tour Book Review: The Seeker by Ann H. Gabhart

Charlotte Vance has known exactly how her life would turn out since she was a little girl. Marry the boy next door, join their lands, and continue their family's legacies together. All was on track until one day when everything in her world got turned upside-down. On that day, she learns about her new, very young stepmother, who has no intention of keeping Charlotte around. Then her fiance tells her that he plans to join the local Shaker community. But Shakers don't believe in marriage, so what of her plans? Not only is her personal life is turmoil, the country is on the brink of civil war with her homeland right in the middle!

Not one to stand idly by, Charlotte escapes her stepmother's plans for her and goes after the man she wants to marry. She joins the Shaker community with hopes convince her fiance to return with her and set everything right. But all does not go according to Charlotte's plan and she finds herself on a new path - one she never would have dreamed of!

I thought this story was very well rounded. I learned a lot about the Shakers that I never knew before - I just thought they were the same as the Amish but this book did a great job pointing out the differences. Also, the insight into the people surrounding the civil war was really good. The plot moved at a good pace and the characters were great! I also loved how the romance came about - very creative. A thoroughly enjoyable read.

Available July 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Thanks to Revell publishers for a free copy of this book to review.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

You are invited to The Bishop Facebook Party

Steven James Launch Party!

Steven James is launching his new book "The Bishop" on Facebook on Wednesday August 4th from 7-9 pm Eastern Time. Meet the author and win great prizes! (YOu must have a facebook account to participate)

Also stay tuned to this blog for a review of the book - coming soon!!!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Book Review: The Last Operative by Jerry B. Jenkins

Jordan Kirkwood has been faithfully working for the NSA for 20 years and finally felt like it was time to settle down. He is finishing up one small mission before he plans to meet his wife in London for a much needed time of rest and reconnecting. But just before he finishes his mission he receives intel of a serious terrorist threat to the US and he can't trust anyone - someone is working from inside the NSA itself!

When an attempt on his life is made, Jordan is forced to face secrets from his past in order to stop the threat in the future. He has to find whoever is involved inside the NSA without them knowing, while stopping a terrible attack from happening with very few people to help. Will he be able to figure it out on time?

This book was a nice change of pace for me than the fiction I have been reading lately. I enjoyed the fact the the protagonist was older and very human - the down sides of working in intelligence are well portrayed. It had a good bit of excitement but the details were not too gorey which I appreciated. The only disappointment for me was that the climax seemed to happen all at once and very quickly. I liked the general idea of the ending but it too seemed to be a bit short and choppy. Still it was a good read - I'll probably read it some time again in the future.

Thanks to Tyndale Publishers for a free copy of this book to review.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Blog Tour Book Review: Touching the Clouds by Bonnie Leon

Kate Evans does not want to settle down and be a wife and mother like every other woman - or at least not just yet. She has a dream she wants to realize - being a bush pilot in Alaska! So she breaks off her engagement, leaves her family behind in Washington and sets off not really knowing what lies ahead. She does know that she is glad to leave bad memories behind her in hopes of starting fresh.
It's not easy for Kate, though. Flying is still a man's arena, and especially in such a hard terrain to fly in, people are cautious about hiring one of the weaker sex.

Kate finally lands a job (no pun intended) and begins the life she has dreamed of. She loves the challenges and adventure and when she comes across a mysterious and handsome stranger living in the wilderness, her job becomes even more interesting! Will Kate overcome her past memories to keep her dream alive, and will she get past the mystery man's walls to find love with him? You'll just have to read it to find out :-)

I really enjoyed this book. Obviously, since people are in old planes flying in dangerous territory, there is going to be danger involved and I found myself almost worrying every time someone got in a plane. It kept me on my toes :-) I liked how Kate and Paul are hiding such similar secrets - that was a nice detail. I also enjoyed learning more about Alaska and it's beautiful landscape. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the books in this series when they come out.

Available July 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group

Thanks to Revell for a free copy of this book to review!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Book Review: Hearts Awakening by Delia Parr

Spinster. Elvira Kilmer is 31 years old, poor, and plain. With no friends or family to help her, she is truly on her own. She needs to find work to support herself so she goes to work for the widower, Jackson Smith. Two weeks volunteering in his home cleaning and taking care of his boys will earn her a reference so she can look for somewhere to live and work permanently. But her plans change when Jackson presents her with a marriage proposal after only a few days of work. He needs a housekeeper and someone to raise his children, and with her looks, she will not likely have another chance of a family of her own. 
This strange marriage is surrounded by mistrust, secrets and scandal. Can they work to make their marriage work, or will they let hurt and deceit drive them apart again?
Hearts Awakening is a great story of forgiveness and the goodness of God!

I really loved this heartwarming story! I was drawn in from the first chapter when it just jumps right in to this new and strange relationship. All the background is uncovered as the characters learn about each other. The only flaw I can think of is that in all the fights and misunderstandings in the marriage it seemed the man was always at fault when in reality, no matter how godly a spouse is, I am pretty sure there should have been times when Ellie needed forgiveness too. She seemed almost too patient to be true :-) I may have picked a different name for her too (Elvira!?!) but that is really not a complaint ;-) I will definitely read this more than once!

Thanks so much to Bethany House Publishers for a free copy of this book to review.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Watch Out World

Here is just a little clip of Aidan walking. He is sooo much happier now that he can walk by himself - and can get into so much more trouble ;-)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Book Review: Somewhere to Belong by Judith Miller

I will admit to being hesitant to read this book when I first got it. Something about the whole communal living thing just does not shout "interesting plot" to me. I mean, how interesting can it be when everybody does the same thing? On top of that, it's not only in the first person, it's two people switching back and forth, talking in the first person.

All of that said, despite all the things that I usually do not care for in a book being in it, I really did like this book :-)

The story follows two girls, Johanna Ilg, who has grown up in the Amana colonies. She enjoys her life there, and although she does having desires to see more of the world, she follows the rules and tries to live a life that would please her elders and the Lord.

Berta Schumacher has just moved to the colony from a pampered lifestyle in Chicago. She resists all aspects of life in the colony and gets into any and all kind of trouble!

These two completely different girls have been thrown into each others path and as Johanna is given the responsibility to train Berta, the girls from an unlikely friendship, though it's not without its' frustrations! When troubling secrets are exposed, the girls face the question of where they really belong.

I will definitely say that I liked this book a lot more than I thought I would. Nothing in the plot is hugely dramatic or climactic, but it's the characters themselves that drew me in and kept my attention. Seeing the same story from two different viewpoints was a great way to get to know the girls better. A great story of family, friendship and the things that are really important in life!

Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for a free copy of this book to review.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

When Life Gives You Lemons....

How to make Lemonade:

First, roll the lemon to get the juices flowing

Then SQUEEZE them to get every last drop

Still got lots more to do!

Mix sugar and water and lemon zest and boil to make a simple syrup

After it's cooled, add the syrup to the lemon juice

Stir very carefully

Add some more cold water and some lemon slices and ta-da!


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Book Review: A Love of Her Own by Maggie Brendan

After her engagement is called off and her heart is broken, April McBride sets out on a trip for her brother's wedding. She had no idea what she was getting herself into!

While her brother is on his honeymoon, April waits for his return among the people there. Used to her father's money buying her everything she wants when she wants it, she is not prepared for the way things work in Lewiston. Nobody is about to fulfill her every wish here including horse trainer, Wes Owen. From their very first meeting, April and Wes are at odds with each other over everything! Each convinced that they are not looking for a spouse, they fight their attraction to each other.

Through embarrassments, frustration and even adventures, April gets a glimpse of how selfish her life has been.  As she grows and changes her ways, will she also open her heart up to find love once again?

This book is the third book in the Brendan's Heart of the West series but I thought it was pretty good as a stand alone novel. It didn't take me long to catch up with the events that happened in the past books and they weren't really that relevant to the story. I had a hard time with the fact that someone could fall in love or even change so much in such a short period of time. It just seemed a little far fetched. Sometimes it seemed a little cheesy, but overall I it was still a good read.

Available June 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group

Thanks to Revell Publishers for a free copy of this book to review.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Blog Tour Book Review: Out of the Spin Cycle by Jen Hatmaker

I seriously can NOT say enough good things about the book I am reviewing today. Out of the Spin Cycle (Devotions to Lighten Your Mother Load), is a book of 40 short devotionals written by a mom to a mom. I love Jen's style of writing and her sense of humor! Sometimes I felt like she was looking through my windows as she wrote these devotionals because they seemed to zero in on so many of the issues I deal with as a mom of little ones.

I love that the devotionals focus so much on the life of Jesus and how we, as moms, can be more like him as we raise our children. They are funny (Jen's kids sound like a riot), and so encouraging! I found myself sitting on the couch crying my eyes out more than once just because someone understood what I was going through and encouraged me to take it to the Lord and lean on him in this big job of growing my kids up to be like Christ!

I think I have found my go-to present for baby showers! Every mom needs a copy of this book!!!

A big thanks to Revell publishing for a free copy of this book to review. And no - it did not influence my review - I really did just love it :-)

Available June 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Book Review: Love on a Dime by Cara Lynn James

Lilly Westbrook has been brought up as a genteel young lady. The daughter of a banker, she is destined to marry well and preform her duties as a wife and a member of good society. And all outward appearance show her to be such a young lady: courted by a rich young man, soon to be engaged and involved in  worthy charity work.

But Lilly's calm life hits troubled waters when a local gossip paper threatens to unveil her biggest secret. Lilly has been writing dime novels under a false name and it seems the editor of the newspaper has found her out! Grossly looked down upon by her peers and family, if anyone finds out about her hidden work, both she and her family will be put to shame. To make matters worse, Jackson Grail, an old love, has bought the publishing house that publishes her books. How can she keep her secret from her family, her new love and her old love?

I enjoyed reading this story, although I will admit that the main characters struggle seems a little too drawn out. She is presented with many opportunities for help and I found myself getting annoyed with her stubbornness (although maybe that was the point).  I found the Christian viewpoint of the guilded age interesting, and I liked watching especially her mother grow in her struggle of what people think about her. I wouldn't exactly call it a page turner, but it was a pretty good read.  I'll probably read it again sometime down the road :-)

Thanks to Thomas Nelson, the publisher, for a free copy of this book to review.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Aidan's 12 month check up

We went for Aider's check up this morning and it wet well :-) He is now in the 35% for weight, 50% for height and 93% for head - lol
He is a few months ahead in his vocabulary (6 whole words! wohooo) but the doc said many time kids who are like that do well in music and foreign languages (same with Eóin) so to get him a little xylophone or baby piano and let him "make music."
He got two shots today and gave the SADDEST cry ever! He just looked at me like I betrayed him and had the biggest tears :-( We went to Mc Donalds as our traditional post-doctor treat.
That's the news from here.
Lots of book reviews to follow - I've been reading like crazy since I got back from vacation! Some good ones coming up :-)

Monday, June 07, 2010

Blog Tour Book Review: Momology by Shelly Radic

I am so excited to have the opportunity to blog about Momology: A Mom's Guide to shaping great kids by Shelly Radic!

I think every mother at some point or another has doubts about how she is raising her kids. It seems like every other mother we know has all her ducks in a row and never seems to have that stressed out, hair pulling moment where we feel like we are totaling blowing this whole motherhood thing.

On top of that, we read books about how to schedule our kids days so that they will never throw temper tantrums,disobey, or flush another valuable item down the toilet again. Or we read websites about games to play with our children that will have them ready for college by age 4. More guilt - another thing we are not doing right.

This book is not one of those books. It offers practical thoughts on real life parenting and I found myself challenged and encouraged by it but not guilty!

The book is divided into four sections:

Core: Getting to know ourself better. How has our childhood effected our parenting; Our strengths and weaknesses; how we deal with stress; taking care of ourselves and other topics that deal with helping us parenting from our individual personality.

Finesse: The really practical part! Instead of rules to follow, seeing the big picture of what our real goals are in parenting. Forming attachments with our children and just the day to day things of life - doing them to fit our goals and our children - not a prescribed method or formula.

Circle: Building relationships. Marriage, Family and Friends all play a big role in our parenting. This section works on improving and building those mutual relationships.

Grandscape: Probably the most important section, it deals with how our relationship with God is essential to our relationship with our children.

There are so many things I liked about this book. Hearing what other mothers said through surveys, the nice SHORT divisions so that when someone has a potty accident I always have a good stopping point close by, and the practical questions that help to apply the ideas to my own parenting.

I highly recommend this book to any mother - especially ones with younger children!

Available June 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

A big thank you to Revell  for the free copy of this book to review!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Book Review: She Walks in Beauty by Siri Mitchell

Clara Carter has been dreading her debut into New York's finest society. She has been putting off learning about dancing, socially acceptable conversation, and which fork to use at meals, in favor of math, poetry, and science. All of that changes suddenly when her Aunt decides she will debut a year early. New York's most eligible bachelor will be choosing a wife during this season and Clara must win his heart and a proposal before season's end. But how is she to capture his attention when she knows nothing of the rules of society?

Clara is rushed through a whirlwind tutelage from her aunt and thrown into operas, balls and parties. She soon becomes the debutante of the season, but what will it ultimately cost her?

Although I have to admit that stories written in the first person are not my favorite, I really enjoyed this book. Not only was the overall plot interesting, I learned quite a bit about the "gilded age" that I never really considered before.  The note to readers at the end of the book shed extra light on some of the social issues from the time period that were mentioned in the story. I loved getting to know the characters. Even though it is written in the first person, I felt that I got to know them well through the eyes of Clara.

 I look forward to reading more from Siri Mitchell!

I received a free copy of this book to review from Bethany House Publishers.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Happy Birthday Aidan!!!!!

I can't believe a whole year has passed since Aidan joined our family. That went by soooo quickly. We had his big party while on vacation at Grandma and Grandpa Harrison's house (pics to come with our vacation pics) but today we had Aunty Tina over for dinner and had a cake just to mark the day :-)

Still no walking which surprises me because he loves to walk holding our fingers. He took a few wobbly steps at the Harrison's between me and Grandma but nothing since. We'll keep working on it. He'll be a MUCH happier guy once he can do it on his own. 

His favorite thing to say is "hi" which he is usually saying trying to get you to walk with him :-) He also says "da-deeee" and "all done." I think that's about it on the talking front but he is always babbling!

He doesn't really have a favorite type of toy - just whatever Eóin is playing with at the time. 

He is much more of a snuggle bug than Eóin was. He LOVES his blankie and has hugs and kisses for any teddy bear who should need one.

Here is his "birthday minute picture." He was climbing on me so it was hard to get a good pic :-)  We love our little Aider Tater - Happy Birthday buddy! 

Aidan James Harrison
June 2nd, 2009  3:07p.m.

Aidan James Harrison
June 2nd, 2010  3:07p.m.

So he was a bit crabby up until he got to actually eat the cake - then he cheered up a lot!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Book Review: Happily Ever Laughter

Happily Ever Laughter: Discovering the Lighter Side of Marriage by Ken Davis

One of the first things that attracted me to my husband was his ability to make me laugh. We love laughing and we love laughing together. WAY too many times we have stayed up late laughing at funny videos on the internet :-) So the title of this book seemed like it would fit our marriage well.

There are a lot of books on marriage out there and they are mostly very serious. Which is ok - marriage is a serious responsibility. But it's easy to get lost in the seriousness of life and forget to enjoy each other. I enjoy how this book points out the lighter side to marriage. It's also interesting to me that a lot of these funny stories are looking back at situations that may not have been so funny at the time. Arguments, things that irritate us about our spouse, personality differences... We can either let all the little things build up or find a way to laugh at ourselves.

This was a great read. The chapters are short - just a quick laugh and short thought and adding humor to your marriage. I tried reading one of the stories out loud to Jonathan and couldn't finish it because I was crying laughing so hard. I actually read a few chapters while I was making dinner and finished it off when the kids went to bed :-) I think it's a great addition to any family library!

I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Aidan is 11 Months!

So this is quite a bit late but I missed Aidan's 11 month update.

There is never a dull moment with Aidan. He is always on the move and desperately wants to walk. He follows me around the house using my legs to pull himself up to stand, then grabs my hands and starts walking. He can walk just holding my one hand now but if he is tired he won't go unless I give him two hands :-)
He and Eóin have a love/hate relationship at the moment. They love giggling together and getting into mischief but they have all out knockout fights too (usually over trains or the tv remote). Aidan is usually the one to inflict damage though - he is one feisty kid!
He is getting to a stage where is he really starting to enjoy reading now. He will sit still on my lap for a good few books - I love the extra snuggles :-)
He also LOVES music. He will "sing" and dance along to music on toys, tv, anything :-)

Here is a comilation of videos I have taken over the past few months and forgot to ever put up. The first one is from when he first started to pull up to stand. The only place he could do it was on Eóin's bed so he would scoot down the hall to stand up there.  It's kinda long but I figured the grandma's wouldn't mind. I just wasn't in the mood to edit it much.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Book Review: The Rewards of Simplicity

Keeping a home functioning, raising children, involvement at church - sometimes life just feels a little hectic around here. That's why I was pretty interested when I saw this book up for review.  I was especially drawn by the subtitle: "A Practical and Spiritual Approach."

Pam and Chuck Pierce Co-athured this book and each took half the book to deal with different aspects of simplicity. Pam takes the first half which contains a lot more of the practical approach. Although I did notice along the way that I definitely have a completely different stand on how God speaks to us today (ie. they believe God still reveals  himself in dreams), I did like a lot of her ideas. We love technology in our house, and though she came off as a bit of a "techno-phobe" (if that is even a real word), she made some good suggestions on how to not let it take over your life so that you are forgetting the important things. I enjoyed the section on sabbath - it was a good reminder to take time out of a busy life to recognize God's hand in creation and my life.

The second half of the book was by her husband and I have to admit I really thought it to be a bit weird. He made some good points about stress but when he started to get into how physical and spiritual things mix it sounded a bit strange. I also thoroughly disagree with his stand on modern day prophesy. He goes into something called "dominion rest" which were backed up by Scriptures that I think he took way out of context. It just did not sit well with me.

So, like many things - you could just take the good and ignore the bad, but it probably wouldn't be at the top of my recommendation list.

I was given a free copy of this book by the publisher to review.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Book Review: Hunter's Moon by Don Hoesel

I was so excited to get this book in the mail. It's been a while since I read a good intrigue book. Something with a good mystery and lots of suspense was just what I was in the mood for.

Unfortunately, this book was none of those things.

I was really disappointed in this book. I kept waiting for the good part, for the excitement to build, but it really never did until the last few pages. If I didn't have to read the whole thing for the review, I probably would not have made it that far.

The main idea for the book was not a terrible one. C.J. Baxter is a successful writer who draws on his childhood home for his stories. Though he claims his stories are not autobiographical, everyone at home knows the truth and some are not too happy about it. Not that it matters - C.J. hasn't been home in years.

When his grandfather dies, C.J. makes the journey back to his childhood home where he is confronted with the story he never wrote about. The one secret that his family would do anything to keep hidden, especially with C.J.'s brother running for senate.

Sounds like a great plot - I was expecting some good confrontations, investigations, action maybe. Instead I read a slow moving, deep look into C.J.'s thoughts about everything. I really was bored through most of it - it just seemed dry to me. The last chapter or so finally has a good showdown, but it came too little, too late for me.

If you like a lot of introspective insights, then maybe this book is for you. But it was not for me.

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers for review purposes.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Book Review: Beguiled by Deanne Gist and J. Mark Bertrand

Rylee Monroe is a dogwalker in historic Charlestown.  She loves her job and is loved and trusted in return by the families she works for. But when her client's homes start being broken into, Rylee looks like the obvious suspect.  To make things even worse, someone is after Rylee!

As she teams up with reporter Logan Woods, Rylee needs to uncover the secrets of her past to prove her innocence and find the person threatening her. Will she be able to do it in time?

This book had everything I like in a book: a good mystery, a bit of romance, and a little danger and suspense. Everything was well described and I had an easy time picturing the surroundings even though I have never been to Charlestown. I thought the idea of having the main character be a dogwalker made for a unique heroine. I didn't have a good guess as to who the real culprit was until toward the end so it made for a good read. I really enjoyed watching the plot unfold. It only took me a few hours to read this one and I have actually read it twice since I received my copy.

I usually don't prefer modern fiction as much a historical but I really enjoyed this one! I look forward to  reading more from these authors.

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers for the purpose of reviewing.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Book Review: Different Eyes: The Art of Living Beautifully

There are not many non-fiction books that I have a hard time putting down. Usually, I take them chapter by chapter and it takes a few weeks to get through one. I read this one in two days (probably would have taken only one if it weren't for the two very short people in my house who also need attention :-)

When I read the title of this book, I thought it sounded interesting so I immediately signed up to be a reviewer. THEN I read the description. ETHICS and MORALS! Ugh - sounded deep and probably one of those books complaining about how liberal our culture is becoming. I totally regretted signing up. Not that I don't care about issues, but I just don't care for the doom and gloom mentality I hear so often.

So anyway, I pick up the book hesitantly and straight into the first chapter I am hooked. It's all about GOD! Not issues, not politics, but all about GOD! I was immediately drawn in and challenged about how I make decision in my day to day life!

This book is full of surprises. First of all, the chapter titles really give you no indication of what they are really about so you just keep reading to find out what they mean :-) Then after two sections of discussion on how the story of the Bible and Jesus affect our morals, there is a section on a controversial ethical topic. Instead of telling us where our morals should stand on a certain issue, they provide two sides (both from Christians) and then ask thought provoking questions about where the reader stands (which also makes it great for small group discussion).

This was one of those books were every other sentence really struck me - if I had a pen I probably would have underlined half the book. I see some really great facebook statuses coming from this book in the future :-) I would definitely recommend this book to any Christian and I will also be re-reading it myself. There is so much to think about!

Click here to read a sample chapter from the book.

I received a free copy of this book from Zondervan for the purpose of reviewing. Thanks!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Aidan - 10 Months

I can't believe a month has gone by since my last  update already! Aidan is just showing his personality full force these days! He is always on the go - if he is not right behind Eóin, he is right in front! He decided to skip the real crawling, and instead scoots along like a little monkey on his bottom. He is pretty fast.
Walking is what he really likes to do though. He loves to hold my fingers and chase Eóin around the house. Most of the time Eóin is patient enough to let us catch him now and again. He does pull up usually only in bed and if he is on the floor in their bedroom - Eóin's bed is just the perfect height for pulling up. If If he holds on to anything else he just turns around like he is going to walk - he really thinks he can! Still too wobbly to go it alone but I'd say around his first birthday he'll be cruising right along.
I love listening to him talk now - he is really starting to sound like he is telling me something :-) He has started saying uh-oh and hello (although they sound quite similar).
Here are some videos that really show his funny personality. Apparently, he thinks Eóin is quite the musician!  He dances along to music on tv as well - so funny! Then the other one is him beating Eóin up. I'm so glad Eóin is such a patient big brother :-)

what a goober! this is nap time - he is supposed to be sleeping but he kept standing up shouting "hello"

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Book Review: Not a Sparrow Falls by Linda Nichols

You should never judge a book by it's cover. 

I got three new books to review in the mail a while ago and this book was among them. I put this one to the bottom of the pile - it just didn't strike me as something I really wanted to read. Just because of the cover.

Well - I am so glad I made it past the cover. This was one to the best books I have read in a long time!

The story follows Mary Bridget Washburn who is struggling to escape her life of crime. She leaves her "friends" and runs away to make a fresh start in a new town with a new name. Still her past always haunts her. Eventually, she ends up trying to help a family who is torn apart and struggling to hold on to their faith - but how can someone who has forgotten their faith help someone else with theirs? God has not forgotten any of them and it is amazing to read how He works to heal and restore the broken.

I loved reading every part of this book. The characters are wonderfully deep and I love how Nichols opens windows into their thoughts, even changing the wording of her narrative to match how her characters think. It deals with great themes of grace and mercy and giving your past to God so he can give you a future. Make sure you have a box of Kleenex beside you - I was crying and happy and sad parts!

Thank you so much to Bethany House Publishers for a free copy of this book to review!

Book Review: Homeschooling for the Rest of Us by Sonya Haskins

My 3 year old Eóin LOVES to learn! Because he has such an interest in learning, especially reading, I have been thinking a lot about schooling for him - it's really not that far away. I was excited when I saw the title of this book because I really don't see myself as a "homeschool mom." I am not super organized and scheduled and always have my ducks in a row which seems to me you would need to homeschool your child. This book seemed to be about how to make homeschooling work in real life - you know for us not so perfect parents :-)

I would have to say that although the book was somewhat helpful, I found some of her ideas to be a bit weird. She devoted a good chunk of the book to answering skeptics and questions about homeschooling. She made some good points about how to kindly deal with family, and honestly evaluate criticism. I really liked her checklists for comparing different types of education and seeing which really is suited best to your family's needs.

There are a lot of examples or different schedules and ways to make learning fit into your life. I thought some of her ideas on what qualified as education were a bit far fetched. I don't really think that mowing the lawn should count at physical education, and cleaning your room as "life skills." Unless you purposefully set out to have a lesson about cleaning/hygiene, I think you need to be honest about how your time is spent.

I am not sure I would class this as a necessary book for a homeschool family, but it would certainly be worth a skim.

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers for the purpose of reviewing.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tyndale Contest

I just thought I would post about an opportunity to win some cool stuff through Tyndale House Publishers! Take a look at the details below!

The New Living Translation Break Through to Clarity Bible Contest and Giveaway
Visit and click on the tab that says “Sweepstakes”
Fill out a simple form, take a quick Bible clarity survey, invite your friends to join and you’ll be entered to win one of our exciting prizes.
With each fan number milestone a new prize will be given away.
Grand Prize
Apple iPad 64G and a Life Application Study Bible
Awarded when the NLT Fan Page hits the fifth milestone
Retail Value: $829.00
2nd Prize  - Already awarded
32G iPod Touch and a Life Application Study Bible
Awarded when the NLT Fan Page hits the fourth milestone
Retail Value: $300.00
3rd Prize – Will be awarded when fan count hits: 3500
Kindle DX and a Life Application Study Bible
Awarded when the NLT Fan Page hits the third milestone
Retail Value: $489.00
4th Prize Will be awarded when fan count hits: TBD
Apple iPad 16G and a Life Application Study Bible
Awarded when the New Living Translation Fan Page hits the second milestone
Retail Value: $499.00
5th Prize Will be awarded when fan count hits: TBD
Apple iPad 32G and a Life Application Study Bible
Awarded when the NLT Fan Page hits the first milestone
Retail Value: $599.00

Prize Eligibility – Recently updated to include more countries
Sweepstakes participants and winner(s) can be U.S. residents of the 50 United States, or residents of any country that is NOT embargoed by the United States, but cannot be residents of Belgium, Norway, Sweden, or India.  In addition, participants and winner(s) must be at least 18 years old, as determined by the Company. 

Sweepstakes Starts
March 17, 2010 @ 10:24 am (PDT)

Sweepstakes Ends
April 30, 2010 @ 10:24 am (PDT)

Wait, there’s more!
Visit for a chance to win a trip for two to Hawaii!
Here are the details:
Choose one of six passages of Scripture from the New Living Translation and consider:
How do these verses encourage you to know God better?
What is God teaching you in this passage?
How does this passage apply to your life?
Submit your answer and you’ll be entered to win.
Just for signing up: Everybody Wins! Win a Free .mp3 download from the NLT’s new Red Letters Project. It’s the dynamic, new presentation of the sung and narrated words of the Gospel of Matthew. You win the download just for entering! Or choose to download the NLT Philippians Bible Study, complete with the Book of Philippians in the NLT.
Every day, one person will win the best-selling Life Application Study Bible!
The grand prize: One person will win a fantastic trip for two to the crystal clear waters of the Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu’s North Shore in beautiful Hawaii.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Feed Me Books Friday!/ Book Review

This week, I am combining one of my book reviews for Thomas Nelson with my link up to Feed me Books Friday because the book fit the theme perfectly.

The Flowering Cross by Beth Ryan - perfect for Easter!

This is such a beautiful story of a girl named Katie, who along with her family, shows the love of Christ to her neighbor, Papa Jack. Everyone in the neighborhood knows him as Mean Old Jack but Katie's family keep showing kindness to him until finally he agrees to visit church with Katie on Easter Sunday. Katie shares with him the story of Easter and Papa Jack sees how much God loves him through this little girl. Together they place flowers on a wooden cross at church to show their thankfulness to Jesus.

Besides the lovely story line, this book also has little discussion topics and verses that parents can share with their child as they read. The back also includes instructions for making your own flowering cross. Such a great tool to have in teaching your child what Easter is really all about!

My son is three years old and it kept his attention the whole time. There is so much to talk about in the story though that I think it is great for a whole range of ages. The discussion guides for parents can help you adapt it to your own child and his understanding level. 

I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson for reveiwing purposes.

This review is also linked up to feed me books friday.