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!