Monday, October 21, 2013

Book Review: Perfectly Matched by Maggie Brendan

Anna Olsen is excited at the prospect of a new life with her brand new husband, Edward. After responding to his ad for a mail order bride, the two corresponded and it looked like things would work out well between them.
When the first thing Edward does is hand Anna a list of the chores he expects to be completed, Anna has a sinking feeling in her stomach. And when perfectionist Edward realizes that the beautiful young woman he married is less perfectionist and more free spirit, he also sees that things are not going to be as easy as he planned.
The question is whether opposites really do attract, or if their difference are too great to be reconciled.

This is the third book in the Blue Willow Brides series. I have read the second book, but did not read the first installment and though it's not completely necessary to have read the previous books, I think I would still recommend it to get to know the characters and their background a bit better. I did enjoy this story - I liked that the main guy was not the typical perfect broad shouldered perfect man but a normal guy with quirks and flaws. I think you will especially love the story if you happen to be an animal lover as it goes a bit into the background of the ASPCA.

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

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

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Book Review: Stranded by Dani Pettrey

Gage McKenna has a lot of baggage from his past. He has spent the last few months avoiding Darcy
St. James, the one woman who made him want to open his heart again. He is excited to get away from it all, helping a cruise ship with an adventure excursion. It's just what he needs to get his mind off a certain woman...until he gets on board and discovers Darcy is also on board as an adventure journalist.

But all is not as it seems to be. Darcy is investigating her missing friend and the huge story her friend was covering while undercover on the ship. Gage is afraid that his original instinct was right and she would do anything to get ahead in her career, even lie. But as he helps her get behind the strange happenings on the ship, more is at stake then just a story.

This is the third book in the Alaskan Courage series and I would highly recommend reading the first two books before starting this one. While the plot itself is stand alone, the characters and their history are covered much more extensively in the past books, which lead up to this point in the story. I enjoyed the plot though, and finished it pretty quickly - always a good sign.

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

Book Review: Shattered by Dani Pettrey

Piper McKenna is extremely loyal, especially to her family. When her brother finally comes back to town and is arrested for murder, Piper will do anything to clear his name. Unfortunately for Deputy Landon Granger, that means he has to been on call to protect Piper for all the trouble she manages to find while she does anything that she can to solve the mystery surrounding this death.
As Piper finds herself getting closer to solving the mystery, the danger mounts and Landon and Pipers family must stick together to clear her brother's name and stay safe doing it!

This is the second book in the Alaskan Courage season and having not read the first one, I would highly advise reading the first book before starting the second. I felt like there was so much background information I was missing that would deepen the plot and characters (though I didn't need it to follow the plot). The characters did tend to survive some rather crazy situations, but it is fiction after all and makes the story a little more exciting. A pretty good read overall.

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

Monday, September 16, 2013

Book Review: Dangerous Passage by Lisa Harris

Detective Avery North has two Jane Doe murders to solve, and when she discovers matching magnolia tattoos on their shoulders, she fears she is dealing with a serial killer. Teaming up with medical examiner Jackson Bryant, she follows the clues that lead further and further into a world of dark and dangerous secrets. On top of trying to solve the murders, Avery must keep herself and her daughter safe, as well as her heart - which proves to be quite difficult!

I thought this book was refreshing on a lot of levels. An older main character with a teenage daughter is not common, as well as dealing with some modern issues and problems that really need to be addressed in the real world outside her book. I like that she was able to draw attention to a huge social injustice, while at the same time writing a great story.

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

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

Book Review: The Invention of Sarah Cummings by Olivia Newport

Sarah Cummings has been a maid in the lavish Banning household for far longer than she planned. Her wardrobe is ready for her big breakthrough into Chicago's high society. She has been altering cast off gowns to make spectacular clothing just waiting for the right time and finally it has arrived.
When she bumps into a young lady new to the area, Sarah takes the chance to introduce her new name and new life as Serena Cuthbert. She can almost taste her new life in high society.
The only glitch is her work at St. Andrews orphanage and it's director Simon Tewell. Sarah will have to choose between the life she has always wanted and a life filled with real love and hope.

The third book in the Avenue of Dreams series, I think this one was my favorite. I loved all the descriptions of the gowns and outfits Sarah creates. There were lots of fun situations where you just had to wonder how she would handle the web of lies she had to weave to be a different person. A very fun book to read!

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

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

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Book Review: Made to Last by Melissa Tagg

Miranda Woodruff is facing some hard news. Her hit tv show From the Ground Up,  is losing ratings and she needs to boost them fast or risk losing everything she has worked so hard for. Her manager has a great idea to help give her show a shot of enthusiasm - show everyone the husband she has been talking about on the show for the past three years. There is only one problem with that plan - there is no husband. That ship sailed long ago when her fiance ran out on her, but only a handful of people know her secret.
Miranda agrees to be seen with a fake husband for publicity - anything to help her show - but she just gets tangled deeper in a web of lies. How can she hold everything together when a nosy reporter starts to tag along with day and night and is the truth worth keeping hidden?

I thought this was a sweet, easy read. Lots of good characters to get to know and a fast paced plot keeps pages turning.  I don't think I'd put it on my read over and over list, but it was a good, fun, light read. A perfect summer, beach kinda book.

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

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Book Review: Trapped by Irene Hannon

Darcy is 16 years old and tired of too many rules. Her step-sister has done her best, but there is just no way and free spirit like Darcy and a stuffy librarian like Laura can make it work. So Darcy decides to follow her free spirit and head out to make a life for herself. Unfortunately, a winter storm keeps her from heading to her destination and she ends up on the street.

Laura is a librarian who is worried about the terrible things that could happen to her sister out on her own. The police can't do much, so she turns to a private detective agency hoping to find the help she desperately needs before it's too late.

Dev is a former ATF agent who is dedicated to his job and his professionalism. When Laura enters his life as a client, he has a hard time keeping the line between personal and professional clear. He needs to keep a clear head to find Darcy before something terrible happens....

Because something terrible is about to happen...

I really enjoy Irene Hannon's stories and usually finish them the day I start them. Good page turning action. The fast pace of the romance bugs me a little but besides that, it is a great read. Has a good fast pace and I like that she tells the story from everyone's point of view including the bad guy. This is the second book in the private justice series but I think it stands alone well.

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

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

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Book Review: Into the Whirlwind by Elizabeth Camden

Molly Knox wakes up every morning looking forward to her predictable, orderly life. She loves making watches and as the owner of the 57th Illinois Watch Company, she is proud to carry on her father's work. But when the Great Chicago Fire strikes and takes everything away from her, Molly will have to keep her wits about her to survive.
Zach Kazmerak is a powerful attorney working for one the largest department stores in Chicago. He is a loyal employee and works hard to earn his reputation for getting things done. Now he must go up against Molly Knox, which is a problem, since he has admired her since he first set eyes on her.
As Molly and Zach work to get through the time of terrible disaster, they must learn to trust each other despite their opposite personalities.

This is the third book I have read by Elizabeth Camden and I have really enjoyed all of them. She really can bring history alive and make you feel like you are immersed right in the culture of the time. Her descriptions of the Chicago fire were amazing and I enjoyed also the look into the advances of machinery and technology at the time. Loved it!

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

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Book Review: The Letters by Suzanne Woods FIsher

Rose Schrock's life has been turned upside-down since her husband's death. Living with her ailing and disapproving mother-in-law while trying to take care of her family is hard enough. Trying to also come up with a way to support them financially while also dealing with the troubles her husband left behind is just enough to make her feel like giving up.
But hope comes in some strange forms for Rose. One, being her kind but quiet neighbor Galen. The other being a strange idea to open her home as a bed and breakfast.
What Rose could not have imagined is how much opening her home up would bring healing both to herself and her guests.

I always look forward to reading Suzanne Woods Fisher's stories. I don't always stop to think about how the amish community mixes with the modern day world and what that looks like on a daily basis. I love that she combines the two in a realistic way. Her characters are far from perfect and face realistic challenges and I think it makes her stories come to life. I also love that Jimmy Fisher from a previous series makes an appearance again :-)

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

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

Monday, July 15, 2013

Book Review: Dolled Up to Die by Lorena McCourtney

Cate Kincaid is settling in to her job as assistant private eye quite nicely. She basically runs the office for her uncle these days and handles all the small day to day things. But when she receives a call about not just one, but three murders, she knows this is way over her head. Finding it strange that the police did not rush to help, and while knowing that it was against policy to get involved with murder cases, Kate couldn't just  leave the poor victim without any help!
Arriving at the scene of the crime, Kate discovers the reason for the police slow response. The victims are dolls! But still, it is a crime and a creepy one that gets even creepier when Kate discovers a real human victim. While trying not to investigate the murder, Kate focuses on the doll case, but it's hard to keep the two apart!

This is the second book in the Cate Kincaid files and it was just as fun as the first. It would probably be helpful to read the first book to get to know the characters better before you jump in to the second but it would probably be ok as a stand alone too. A fast paced, good action filled mystery!

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

Available July 15, 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group

Monday, July 01, 2013

Book Review: Small Town Girl by Ann H. Gabhart

On a hot summer day, Kare Merritt watches the man of her dreams get his sister. Although she is trying so hard to be happy for her sister, her heart is aching. What's more annoying is the best man, who seems intent on flirting with her. Can't he just let her suffer privately. Still, when Jay Tanner decides to stick around in Rosey Corner for a while, Kate can't help but warm up to his charming smile. But she may have warmed up too late.
When news strikes that Pearl Harbor has been attacked, men are signing up to serve their country. Kate must decides if she is willing to risk her heart before Jay has to risk his life.

This book is a follow up book to the novel Angel Sister and though it stands alone pretty well, I think I would have enjoyed it better if I had read the other novel first. It really is mostly just a love story, and I generally prefer another story line with romance in it rather than the romance being the main story line itself. Still it was not a bad read, though it wasn't really a page turner.

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

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

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Book Review: Claudia, Wife of Pontius Pilate by Dianna Wallis Taylor

Claudia has lived a very sheltered life all her childhood until one day when her world is completely turned upside down and she is taken to live in the Roman palace with the emperor.  Her whole life has been dictated to her by the rulers of Rome and she must either comply happily or face the harsh consequences. It seems as though finally something good is coming her way, when she is ordered to marry the handsome Lucius Pontius Pilate.
When he is ordered to govern in the territory of Judea, Claudia stands by and encourages her husband through some hard times trying to deal with the Jews and their strange laws. But when this new Rabbai comes into the picture, Claudia has to choose what to do about this mysterious man that haunts her dreams...

I really enjoyed this look into the history behind Pilate and his rule in Judea at the time of Christ. It was so interesting to see Christ and the crucifixion from a new perspective. The book really makes Bible times come alive. Although much of the story is speculation and obviously some fiction, it makes you think about what it was like at that time and I loved it!

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

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

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Aidan Turns 4

I have one very excited boy who is so excited to be four. He feels different - now he is so big and strong and brave because he's four :-) It's hard to wrap up his personality in a nut shell - it's so big. Everything is all the way with Aidan. Something is either the best in the world or the worst. If he likes someone, they are best friends and he will not stop talking, but if he decides he doesn't like someone, then he mind is made up and it's hard to change it!  He will be super excited and delighted (like when he got new shoes), or melodramatic and in agony (like now that the strap is broken on his shoe). Life is never dull - that's for sure! He loves hugs, tickles, and pretty much any time you spend with him :-)

I asked him what some of his favorite things are and here's what he had to say:

Favorite color: black
Favorite toy: My new laser
Favorite Food: Mac and Cheese, yogurt and jelly and marshmallows and rolls and hot dogs and bananas and oranges and apples and sambos and what else? meatballs and marshmallows and mommy? that's all the things I like - some chocolate and hot chocolate and tea.
Fav video game: angry birds
Tv show: Bananas in Pjs, no no no Super Hero squad
Fav song: ABC
What do you want to be when you grow up: Make pizza with you mommy. I'm going to do every grown up thing, ok?

Here is the annual line up of birthday minute pics:

 Aidan James Harrison
June 2, 2009
3:07 pm

June 2, 2010
3:07 pm

June 2, 2011
3:07 pm

June 2, 2012
3:07 pm

 June 2, 2013
3:07 pm

Monday, May 20, 2013

Book Review: When Love Calls by Lorna Seilstad

When Hannah Gregory's parents die, she alone is left to take care of herself and two younger sisters.
With money running out, Hannah has no option but to quit law school and find a job. Becoming a switch board operator seems like the perfect gig, except for all the RULES. And Hannah is not really great a following rules. Hello Girls are carefully watched both during work and in their private life so Hannah has to be on guard everywhere. But things get even more complicated with a handsome young lawyer and a mysterious arsonist get thrown into the mix.

I always enjoy Lorna Seilstad's ability to pick out areas of history that are not written about much and bring them to life in her stories. I really enjoyed learning more about Hello Girls and all the funny rules that the job entailed. Mixing in a little romance and mystery adds up to a fun read.

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

Available May 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Book Review: When a Secret Kills by Lynette Eason

Jillian Carter has been on the run for ten years. After witnessing a murder as a teenager, Jillian feared that she would be next and so kept hidden and kept quiet all this time. Now she decides that the truth has been hidden for too long, and no matter what, she will see that the truth comes out. Only is what she saw really the truth.
As Jillian fights to find out the truth, she is also fighting to keep one step ahead of those who would want to silence her forever!

I was so excited when this book came up for review. I've been eagerly awaiting the last book in this trilogy since each of the previous books ended with me wondering what was going on and what was about to happen. I would definitely recommend reading the first two books in the series before delving into this one, in fact I wish I would have read the first two books to review all that happened previously, but it didn't ruin the story that I didn't. Great story, with some good twists thrown in! A very good ending to the series.

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

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

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Spaghetti Amnesia: A Cautionary Tale

Tonight was literacy night at Eóin's school and we did not get home until later than our normal dinner time. So I thought to myself, "self - tonight would be a great spaghetti night. It's fast and easy." Really - what's not to love about spaghetti? There are only three steps:
1. Cook spaghetti
2. Brown ground beef
3. Crack open jar of sauce and mix with beef
Then you can sit, and have a hassle free dinner and move on with your evening.

This is where the amnesia comes into play. That is actually all you remember about making spaghetti, but those memories are from the years before your littles arrived. In reality, making and eating spaghetti with three children is more like this:
1. Boil water. The amount of time it takes said water to boil is directly proportionate to how quickly you actually need it to boil. For example, I have starving whining children so it will take at least 20 minutes before I see a solitary bubble.
2. Add spaghetti. Forget to set timer to ensure overcooked soggy state.
3. Turn on pan for meat.
4. Answer more inquiries on when dinner will be ready and forget to add meat to the pan.
5. When there is sufficient smoke as to remind you there is nothing in the pan, add meat and brown.
6. Crack open and add sauce to meat. (Thank goodness this step is still easy).

Ok - dinner is made. If you are feeling extra home-makery you can even do garlic bread simultaneously. Now for the sitting and enjoying. But wait - there's more.

Serve up meal on plates remembering who does and does not like it cut in advance.
Catch smallest child stealing bread in hunger thus beginning her life of crime.
Sit down.
Get up to get drinks which you forgot to pour.
Remind smallest child to eat with a fork, not her fist.
Tell oldest child he needs to eat 15 more bites before more bread.
Notice smallest child is hidden under layers of sauce so give her a cloth to wipe her face,
Notice smallest child is nowhere to be seen.
Find her under the table cleaning the floor with her face cloth.
Reposition smallest child at table and manage to eat rest of meal while ignoring the carnage.
Chase smallest child before she touches anything and place in bath, but not before a desperate attempt to get a picture of her messy state. (see video of fail).

How do I always forget that spaghetti is NOT an easy meal!!!!!????! The jar lies to you, parents. Just crack open and dinner is served? Not so much :-) I just sat down at 9pm!

Warning to future self - next time the hour is late and the littles are hungry, two words for you - FROZEN PIZZA. Two steps
1. Open Box
2. Cook pizza

....or is it?

Trying to get a pic of her messiness - even that is not as easy as it sounds!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Dear Children: A Dark Place

Dear Eoin, Aidan and Molly.

Yesterday, in church, Troy was talking about growing spiritually and at one point used a butterfly as an example of how you can still be the same person and yet completely transformed by the Holy Spirit's power. He said that a caterpillar and a butterfly (the same one) have the exact same DNA but look how different they are! One a gross, squirmy thing, and the other a beautiful creature - who can fly which is extra cool :-)

I started to think about what that caterpillar has to do to be changed into a butterfly. He doesn't just crawl along until one day "ta-da" he is a butterfly. No - that caterpillar has to enter his cocoon, all by himself, wrapped up tightly, in a dark place. It's while he is in that place where nobody else can see him that the transformation takes place. No one else can touch him or help him. The only person who sees what's going on in there is his creator. God know exactly what is happening in there and the amazing results that will come out of it.

Some day, there will come a time when you will enter a dark place. I think everyone does. Some day, you will have a problem and you may feel all alone, like no one else can help you - not even Mommy. It may seem like a dark place of isolation. I dread the day I can't help you with your problems, but I know that day will come. My job now, is to teach you that there is only one person who can truly see you at all times and help you through any problem - God. My job is to show you that when the dark place comes, that God can see you there even when no one else can.

When you find yourself in a dark place, know that He can see you and He knows the changes this place can bring. Instead of despairing, dream of what color your wings will be! 

Psalm 94:19 "When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul"

Friday, April 05, 2013

Remember the Benefits

I'm back in a blogging mood apparently :-) I've been wanting to write a little more about what I have been learning from God

Today I read these verses in Psalm 103. They are very familiar, but as I took the time to reflect on each one individually, I was so refreshed, I thought I would share them on here too.

Psalm 103:2-5

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,

  • who forgives all your iniquity
  • who heals all your diseases
  • who redeems your life from the pit,
  • who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy
  • who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's
I love the picture of being crowned with steadfast love and mercy. No matter if it's a sweatpants and t-shirt, baby has been up all night and I haven't had time to shower in 2 days kind of morning, when I am CROWNED with such things, I'm a beauty queen, man! 

Glad I took the time to forget not these things today :-)

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Dear Molly : "The Fit"

It all seemed fine when we walked into Walmart today and you said you wanted to walk. You walk with me in the store all the time, and generally do a great job. Even today, you stayed right by me and even pointed out "pretty" clothes while I was looking for jammies that didn't squash your toes.  Since all was going well and we had some extra time, I decided you guys could look around in the toy section for a while. You did a great job looking at things and moving on when we went to look at something else.
Then we got to the pink aisles. You saw all those dolls and shouted "babies" at the top of your lungs and spent the next 20 minutes having a great time looking at all the babies :-) We had a slight moment of confusion when a lady decided to buy one of the babies you tucked into bed and you tried to take it back from her. You kept asking me "where baby go?" I hope she went to as good a mommy as you are to your babies :-)
little girl heaven

Then it was time to leave. When I said it was time to go you thought it would be hilarious to plop down on the floor and since my hands were full of coats and stuff to buy, I couldn't come get you. You had a cheeky grin on but when I pretended to keep going (despite Aidan's freaking out that I was "leaving you") you got up and walked after me with THE TINIEST STEPS IN THE WORLD!
I managed to get all my stuff under one arm so I could hold your hand when you went all limp noodle on me. So. Not. OK.  I tried to use my foot under your bum to scoot you up to standing position and pretty sure I was getting some great looks from people at that point. You flopped on the ground and when I bent over to get you, you started scooting backwards on your belly while balling your eyes out like I was a deranged kidnapper out to get you. At this moment, I dropped half the stuff I was trying to carry. My hair was turning more gray by the second.
I finally got you up and we went into an empty side aisle for a little "chat" (with your backside). Ok - everything picked up, you had stopped crying and we were ready to go. For about ten feet. Then you started again. Finally I picked you up in front of all the stuff I already had. I know I looked ridiculous at this point. You were not too happy about his new uncomfortable position but at least by the time we got to the checkout you were calm again.
Sweet girl, when you look back at pictures of yourself as a baby, you look like a little cutie angel girl.  And you are so adorable, but also a little Dennis the Menace in pigtails! Also remember, I have a good 13 years to think of a good revenge for embarrassing you as a teenager and when you ask me why I would ever do such a thing, I shall hand you this post ;-)  Just kidding, but at least when you come to me with a crazy, fit throwing toddler, I can at least let you know you are not alone :-)

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Book Review: Moonlight Masquerade by Ruth Axtell

When Rees Phillips from the British Foreign Office is sent on assignment to spy on Lady Celine Wexham, he was prepared to do anything to help his country and move up in his career. What he was not prepared for was Lady Wexham's beauty, charm, grace, and goodness! There was no way that someone so kind and noble would spy for Napoleon Bonapart, was there? The more time he spends around this remarkable lady, working as the butler in her home, the more he starts to doubt himself and his mission. What will win in the end - loyalty to the crown, or to his heart?

Though this time period is the setting for many of the historical novels I read, I have never yet read one that was based on the politics of the day, and it's always a breath of fresh air to read a new idea. I admit, it's been a long time since I ever studied Napoleon, and if you are like me, and don't remember much about battles and this part of history, you may want to do a quick wikipedia catch up because this story does include quite a lot of references to the state of the empires at the time. Otherwise, it's fabulous! I love a good spy story and the cat and mouse games that go on. A new and fun read!

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

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

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Book Review: Picture Perfect by Janice Thompson

Hannah, a wedding photographer is doing well in life. She has her own business which is soon about to be featured in Bride magazine. She just has a slight problem - her photography arch nemesis, Drew Kincaid. Well Drew and the bridezilla she must photograph who could make or break her career.

As Hannah prepares for the wedding, she is thrown into Drew's path repeatedly and is shocked to find out that he is not quite the arch nemesis she thought, and it not bad looking either :-) Will she be able to let go of the doubts from the past holding her back and forge a picture perfect future?

I very rarely have major issues with a book; I'm generally easy to please. However, this was the wrong book for me to have as a reader because in this book Hannah McDermott is "Irish" and since I am from Ireland, I could barely read it, the "Irish-ness" was so corny. I groaned outwardly at the stereo types, and granted not everything was wrong, but my husband read the first chapter and asked me why I would even keep going. I feel bad because the story itself wasn't bad - I really like when the story continues a little after the couple gets together, but it was hard for me to get past the awful references to my culture :-(

Here are some corrections - Probably the most important one is that people who are actually from Ireland generally roll their eyes and groan at Americans who are "Irish." I consider my own kids "American" since they were born here like the girl in the story AND her father.  While I know Italian families who are like the family in the story whose culture is rich and passed on and they do seem to use a lot of Italian even though they weren't born there, Irish families aren't really like that.

We never refer to our families as clans and are not really that into our lineage. When I asked my dad what he knew about our ancestors he said, "They're dead." We love to be Irish and Heaven help you if you say anything against us, but beyond that most people don't even know more than the chorus - actually the first line, of our national anthem.

The Irish language is only spoken fluently by a very small minority of the country and so the chances of a second generation Irish person not born in Ireland going off on rants in Irish is very small. I had to learn Irish for all of my schooling up through high school and beyond the odd phrase I hardly ever use it and forget almost all I learned.  (I will give her that the Irish she did use was translated and spelled correctly though).

And most importantly we NEVER say "top 'o the morning to ya."  

However, if you are not from Ireland, these things probably won't bother you the same way they did me, so you will probably enjoy it. The story itself is ok and there are some good spiritual thoughts too. It just happened to hit on a raw nerve.

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

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

ps - if you want to hear some real Irish sayings, in real Irish accents, these are the ones I grew up with :-)

Book Review: When the Heals Heals by Ann Shorey

Rosemary Saxon served as a nurse during the civil war and now is looking to use her skills to keep her independence. The trouble is that she and Dr. Stewart don't seem to see eye to eye on many things. To make things even more stressful, someone seems to be out to get Rosemary and the threats are getting more dangerous. When it seems she can take no more, Rosemary must chose to either leave town or find the courage to face her problems head on.

I thought this was a sweet story, though it did not stand out as remarkable to me. I thought it ended quite abruptly which kind of bothered me, but it besides that it was a good story. It is the second book in a series but I did not feel like it took away from the story - it read well as a stand alone novel.

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

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

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Eóin's BIrthday Minute Pics!

Can't believe my little boy is 6 already! His teacher was kind enough to take a birthday minute pic for me while he was at school so I can continue my tradition :-) I also asked him the same questions as last year so we can keep track of how his likes change over the years.

 Feb 15th, 2007 1:40pm 

Feb 15th, 2008 1:40pm

Feb 15, 2009, 1:40pm

Feb 15, 2010, 1:40pm

Feb 15, 2011, 1:40pm

Feb 15, 2012, 1:40pm

Feb 15, 2103, 1:40pm

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Book Review: The Tutor's Daughter by Julie Klassen

Emma Smallwood and her Father are to spend a year at Ebbington Manor tutoring a baronet's twin sons. But when they arrive, it seems they have come at a bad time, although no-one is saying exactly why. When strange things start happening around the house, especially in Emma's room, her curiosity and soon her fear is piqued. 

Adding to the tension around the house is the presence of the baronets older sons, both of whom have lived with the Smallwoods in the past, leaving memories and impressions that are hard to alter.
When the strange happenings start to turn dangerous, Emma will need figure out who to trust with her safety and her heart.

Julie Klassen is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors! I loved, loved, loved this book!!! Definitely in my top five! It was like Pride and Prejudice meets Jane Eyre.  So fantastic - I was sad to see it end. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is a Jane Austen fan. So good!

A huge thank you to Bethany House Publishers for a free copy of this book to review.

Book Review: Unending Devotion by Jody Hedlund

Lily Young's sister is missing. Desperate to find her and keep her family safe and together, Lily travels from town to town, working as a photographers assistant, heedless of the dangers in Michigans logging communities. Eventually, her travels lead her to Harrison, Michigan and Connell McCormick.

Connell is working hard to build up his father's logging business. He keeps his business to himself and while he is an upright man himself, he ignores the wicked lifestyles of the men around him. But it gets harder to ignore the exploitation and filth when Lily comes to town and is determined to fight it at all costs. But will those costs be too high for both of them?

This was a very interesting historical fiction to me as my husband grew up in this part of the country. I enjoyed learning about the harsh conditions of the time through this story. It was also a good challenge not ignore injustices around us, but to take a stand for right, even when the cost may be high.

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

Book Review: A Change of Fortune by Jen Turano

Miss Eliza Sumner is an English governess working with an elite family in America. But underneath her humble exterior lies a lady on a mission. In fact, Miss Sumner is not just Miss Sumner but Lady Sumner, heiress, whose fortune has been stolen, and she intends to find the man who stole it! Masquerading as a governess allows lady Eliza to be around the wealthy patrons of New York without drawing attention to herself - precisely what she needs to find and reclaim her fortune.

What she wasn't planning on was the amount of trouble her mission would land her in and the handsome man she will need to depend on to help her out of it!

This book drew me in from the very first page. It's funny and charming with good plot twists sewn throughout the story. I loved all the predicaments Eliza finds herself in - such a fun character! I will put this on my read again list :-)

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

Book Review: Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden

Lydia Pallas has known great hardship in her life. She has gone through many trials and struggles, and now that she has a steady job translating for the US Navy and an apartment that she loves and calls home. Her very orderly world is about to be turned upside down when she meets Alexander Bainbridge and agrees to do some translating work for him on the side.

Alexander Bainbridge is on a mission to end the opium trade in America and will stop at nothing to see his mission completed. He certainly has no time for women and love. Yet he relies on Lydia and her translating work to help him take down the people involved in the industry.

When the mission suddenly turns very dangerous, Lydia is tested to her very limit and Alexander is forced to see how much he really needs her.

I totally enjoyed every minute of this book.  The funny thing is that the whole time I was reading it, the plot kind of reminded me of another book I had read, but I couldn't put my finger on it. I didn't realize until I saw an ad in the back of the book, that I had read this book, with the same main character a few years ago. When that clicked, it made the book even better! I will go back and read them both together in the future :-) This is a great page turner - romance, mystery, and danger - kept me up to the wee hours of the morning because I didn't want to put it down!

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

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Book Review: 5 Days to a Clutter-Free House

Sandra Felton and Marsha Simms are the authors of this book designed to help even the messiest of messies find freedom from clutter in just 5 days. The book gives a very detailed plan for how to use a team method to quickly clear floors, counters and even inside cupboards and drawers from chaos. The first half of the book explains how to box up everything in sight, sending each item to the room where it belongs. By the end of 5 days you will have clear spaces. Then the second half of the book explains how to deal with the items in the boxes and how to keep your home from becoming cluttered again.

When I first ordered this book to review, I thought it was more of an organizational tip book. I generally do not deal with the amount of clutter that needs a team of people to clean up. My kitchen island tends to be a catch all for mail, school work etc... so I thought it might have ideas for keeping it clear. However, this book tends to deal with more extreme clutter. I am more of a tosser than a keep of things so it didn't really apply very much to my situation.

I did think it was easy to read, and thought that the ideas seem like a very reasonable and doable approach to someone dealing with an overwhelming mess. It is encouraging and helps you keep envisioning the end goal of a neat and tidy home. I thought it was a little repetitive at times, and maybe told one too many stories, but besides that, I would recommend it to someone dealing with this issue in their home.

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

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

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Book Review: The Dilema of Charlotte Farrow by Olivia Newport

Charlotte Farrow has been working as a maid in a wealthy Chicago home for almost a year now. All while keeping a huge secret. She has a son. As servants are not allowed to have children, Charlotte has trusted the care of her son to another lady, and secretly visits during her every hour off. But when her son's caretaker must leave town, she abruptly drops the boy with Charlotte at the Banning's home leaving Charlotte with a huge dilema; should be claim the child as her own, to lose her job and means of keeping them both safe, or watch as the Banning family choses how her son will spend the rest of his life - away from her.

As a mother, this book had been on edge the whole time. I could never imagine having to face the choices that Charlotte had to make. I always enjoy reading about that time period and the difference between the servant's lives and the lives of the people they work for. A good read!

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

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

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Book Review: Waiting for Spring by Amanda Cabott

Widowed Charlotte Harding is starting a new life for herself and her baby boy in Cheyenne after a long, hard year. Fleeing her past, she works tirelessly at her new dress shop to build a safe and secure life away from the dangers she has known.

Barrett Landry needs to prove to himself and his family that he can make something of himself, and if becoming a wealthy cattle baron hasn't done it, surely becoming state senator will. He will need to marry well though - someone with a good social standing and connections he can use.

When Barrett visits Miss Harding's shop to meet his fiance, both of their plans for staying safe and building their lives take a turn. Will they let their friendship turn to something more, or let their fears of the unknown keep them to their separate safe paths.

I really enjoyed this story, I think especially because I really enjoy historical books that describe what people wear :-) I also enjoyed how the author added bits of history about raising children with special needs in the past, as well as what went on in the minds of states before they actually became one. I always enjoy when there are multiple facets to a book beyond just a romance story. This will be one I will read again.

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

Available January 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group

Thursday, January 10, 2013

I Am

The other day, we were talking with the kids about the question "What is God?" I was pleasantly surprised when Eóin remembered that "God is Light" from one of our Christmas promises we went through as a family during advent.

It got me thinking about how God is just what we need for every situation. You see, I think one of the reasons this particular aspect of God stuck with Eóin is that he is afraid of the dark, so it's important to him that God is Light. It meets his heart's present needs.

I've always loved that when Moses asked God who to tell Pharaoh sent him to free the children of Israel, that God said to tell them "I Am" sent him. God cannot be put in a box. He is not just one or two things - He is EVERYTHING we need when we need it!
To the Israelites he would be "I Am the Deliverer" - to Pharaoh he was "I Am Just and Powerful." To sinners he is "I Am Merciful and Redeemer;" to the broken he is "I am Healer." The list goes on and on! To my son He is "I am Light;" to the lost He is "I am the Good Shepherd" or "I am the Way." Where there is a need in our world, it is God who can fill it - He is "I Am."

Just enjoying reflecting on that today - whether you are five or ninety five - God can meet you right where you are!

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Book Review: Vanished by Irene Hannon

Reporter Moira Harrison is in the middle of nowhere on a dark, stormy night when out of nowhere a terrified girl appears in the middle of the road. There is no time to stop and as much as Moira tries to avoid her, she hits the scared girl and careens off the road hitting a tree before she comes to a stop.
Luckily for Moira, a good Samaritan is around and after checking on Moira, tells her he will call 911 and check on the girl she hit. Thats all Moira can remember before her world went dark. When she finally comes to, there is no ambulance, no good Samaritan, and weirder still, no girl! What's worse is that no one will believe her story.
Finally, unable to forget the look of terror in the girl's eyes, Moira turns to a private detective agency for help. Although skeptical, ex-homicide detective Cal Burke agrees to help and slowly clues unfold that reveal a deadly secret.
I always enjoy Irene Hannon's stories. They are easy to read, and I usually get through them in a day or two. Good twists and just the right amount of suspense without it keeping me up all night :-) The romance is a little predicable but that's ok for a light read.

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

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

Book Review: The Lesson by Suzanne Woods Fisher

I will admit, I was watching my inbox very closely for the release of this book, hoping it would come up for review. I enjoyed the first two installments of the Stoney Ridge Seasons so much, and MK was my favorite character so I was looking forward to what was going to happen to her.

At nineteen years old, not much has changed in the life of Mary Kate. She is still a crazy troublemaker who likes to stick her nose in where it doesn't belong, and this time she has uncovered a murder she feels she needs to solve! When the murder co-insides with the arrival of a mysterious new man, well that is enough to send MK on a lot of crazy hunts for the truth.
At least it will keep her busy since her hopes of world travel have been delayed due to being assigned to help in the school house. Good thing she is still in school because apparently Mary Kate Lapp has still a lot to learn! (Oh and Jimmy Fisher is it it too which if you've read the other books like me you were probably wondering what would happen with him. But I won't tell you ;-) )

As usual, I really enjoyed Suzanne Woods Fisher's take on Amish life. It's not the quiet, serene, scene with seemingly perfect people that a lot of books portray. Real people, dealing with real issues who just happen to be Amish is what she writes about. My only down side to this book was that it seemed really short - I wish it would have been a little longer - It was the last book after all :-)

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

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