Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Guest Review- Dangerous Children- Mark Morrow

Dangerous Children
Mark Morrow
Published by Tate Publishing

Dangerous Children
Guest Blogger Dakota

The book has a lot of action and adventure. The storyline opens with a clever twist; all be it a little confusing. the kids lose their parents to a mysterious man from another dimension. They only way to save their parents is to play a living board game. The children go to several amusing worlds. Each world must freely give its greatest possession to the children, so that the children can trade them for their parents.
As the book progresses the children learn valuable life lessons such as trusting each other, working as a team, and being honest. The biggest thing they learn is how much their parents love them.

The sequence of events was a little off, and there was like a limited third view narrator that didn't always know what was happening.

I received a copy of this book from Tate Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

Homemade Review

101 Beautiful and Useful Craft Projects you can Make at Home
Ros Badger and Elspeth Thompson

Encompasses a full range of craft ideas for each season of the year. Crochet, knitting, paper crafts, sewing, cooking, gardening.. anything you can imagine is in this book Homemade.

Divided into the 4 seasons this book gives detailed instructions that go along with each season. Full color photographs give with full effect and finished products.

Homemade cards, recycled containers, Patchwork Walls, colorful cupcakes, tea cosy, and Christmas ornaments are just a few of the crafts available to make in this hardback book.
Patterns are included in the back of the book for a few of the projects.

The authors are knowledgeable in the craft area and both are seasoned authors.
Fantastic gift book idea for the holidays that will keep on giving year round.

I received a copy of this book from Skyhorse Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

A Marriage Carol- Fabry & Chapman

A Marriage Carol
Chris Fabry & Gary Chapman
Published by Moody

We all know the traditional Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, remade into a variety of different movie versions from Muppets to Jim Carey. But what happens when you take the Christmas Carol concept and apply it to marriage. 

Introducing Marlee and Jacob Ebenezer (of course), married 20 years, deciding to call it quits on their marriage that slowly has been dieing. They are on their way to sign papers of divorce when they have a car accident in the blizzard like conditions.  When Marlee awakes, Jacob is gone and she goes in search of him, finds a cabin in the woods and meets Jay and his wife.
Jay has a way with words and insights and shares a magical snow with Marlee that allows her to see her past, present and future options. 

Beautifully written Christmas story of really taking into account what we have been given and not taking it for granted. Gives the reader a glimpse of what our path could be like if we don’t stay the course in our marriages. For those hurting in their marriages, and those who have had the longevity it is a darling story of forgiveness and redemption, bringing to fruition all that God brought us on that first Christmas morning.

I received a copy of this book from Moody in exchange for an honest review.  

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Truth & Dare -Ann Margret Hovsepian

Truth & Dare
One year of dynamic devotions for girls
Ann-Margret Hovsepian
 David Cook Publishing

One year of devotions written specifically for tween girls. Interactive daily activities to keep the girls engaged and excited about diving into God’s word! Designed to be used daily with Monday-Friday headings. The headings aren’t dated so the tween can start this study anytime of the year. The weekend picks up a devotion to expound on what the tween learned through the week.
Beginning with a scripture verse to read in their own personal bible, each day emphasizes a Truth from the word. Truths to utilize the senses, memories, and experiences to bring the Words of God alive.
Daily this devotional dares the reader to do 3 three things.. a triple dog dare!
The dares go along with each truth, adding emphasis to what was read and daring the reader to dive in deeper.
Then there is a section for journaling where some of the dares ask the tween to write something down that they learned, or leave a note to remind the reader of something later on.
Sometimes it is hard to find devotionals that are just right for the 9-12 year old age. Many of the teen devotions go too in-depth with subjects that tweens aren’t ready for. Many women type studies feel too ‘old’ for young girls. They need something energetic and relevant to where they are in their walk with God. Written to their level and for their experiences, Ann-Margret brings a very relevant and much needed devotional study for young girls. The best I have seen for this age group and highly recommend it. Perfect resource for getting the younger set to grown their habit of daily devotions, while at the same time helping them grow in God.  
I received a copy of this book from B& B Media in exchange for an honest review.

365 Most Important Bible Passages for You

The 365 Most Important Bible Passages for You

It is that time of year again to explore devotional guides for the upcoming year. Books to give you a morsel of the word during your busy schedules.
This devotional includes Daily Scripture readings, from a variety of the different versions of the Bible. You can read it directly off the page or look up the verses in your preferred version. There is a meditation after, or reflection on the scripture. Picking up on some of the important verses in the Bible, this book will give you a kick start to your day, a place to jump off from to get your God eyes on.
Not exceptionally deep if you are looking for that kind of study. Should only take 5 minutes a day, so easily can be done at a specific time and incorporated with additional studies.
I received a copy of this book from Faithwords in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Remembering You- Tricia Goyer Review and Giveaway

Remembering You
Tricia Goyer

Ava Ellington’s Grandfather Jack was in WWII and has the opportunity to travel to Europe for a special ceremony in honor of the heroes. Ava doesn’t really have an interest in all the battles and that, but to see Europe sounds like a great plan, especially if she can get some good video footage for her morning show in Seattle. Dual purpose, to spend time with Grandpa Jack and to make her spot on the morning show shine bright.

Grandpa Jack and his best friend Paul along with Paul’s grandson Dennis join Ava on a trip following the historic battles. Dennis and Ava just so happen to have been young and in love when they were 18, only to have been apart for the past 15 years. Will this trip bring them back together, or have the years changed their lives too much?

Beautiful story of WWII veterans, the struggles and memories that they went through. The relationship building between Grandfathers and their grandchildren was fantastic, and made me want to give my own Grandparents a phone call. Dynamic characters really draw the reader deep into the story, the past and the present.

Tricia Goyer has brought facts of WWII alive in this novel and it is obvious the immense research she put into it.

Thanks to Litfuse group for providing me a book for this tour!

Title: Win a Kindle Touch for YOU and a Friend from Tricia Goyer!
Tricia Goyer is celebrating the release of her novel, Remembering You, with a KINDLE Touch Giveaway for you ... and for the friend of your choice. Then on 11/29 she'll be wrapping up the release of Remembering You with a Book Chat Party!

During the first half of the party Tricia will be chatting, sharing a sneak peek of her next book, and giving away a ton of great stuff. Then she'll head over to her website for a Live Chat! Readers will be able to chat with Tricia via video or text.

Don't miss your chance to win a Kindle Touch for yourself ... and to "remember" a friend this holiday with a Kindle Touch for them!

Read what the reviewers are saying here.

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Brand New Kindle Touch and a Kindle Touch for a Friend (winner's choice!) 
  • A copy of Remembering You by Tricia Goyer for each
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends at noon on November 29th. Winner will be announced at Remembering You Facebook Party on 11/29. Tricia will be hosting an author chat (on Facebook and Live from her website) and giving away copies of her other WWII books and gift certificates to Starbucks and So grab your copy of Remembering You and join Tricia on the evening of the 29th for an author chat, a trivia contest (How much do you know about WWII?) and lots of giveaways.

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 29th!

Pinky Bunny's First Day of Kindergarten- Kristina Cardoza

Remember back to your first day of school, five years old and timid about beginning your journey into the world of education. Kristina Cardoza remembers it well as the author is only 9 years old currently. She wrote Pinky Bunny when she was 5. How many of us considered writing a book at age 5?? I was barely reading at that point.
Kristina wrote the book because she wanted to express her feelings on that first day of Kindergarten and share with others who will be going through that experience. Not only did Kristina write the book, she is the illustrator as well, developing the illlustrations over time and updating them as a 9 year old.

Pinky Bunny starts kindergarten and doesn't know any other bunny in the class. Timid and lonely Pinky sits alone at story time and played alone. Blue bunny asks her to play and she joyfully accepts. As they are playing later, a mean green bunny is trying to hinder their play.
I love how the author uses color words throughout the story, to not just tell a story about kindergarten but to utilize color coded words and language for the young children to find.
A story of finding friends and forgiveness at an early age.
Fantastic work by a young 5 year old girl!! Your timid preschoolers would love to have this story read to them.

Thanks to the author for a copy of her book inexchange for an honest review.

Winners, Winners, Winners!!

Three winners this morning in So Many Books.. So Little Time giveaways!!

Gratitude Hop Giveaway

***** Mrs. Sherman*****

Common English Bible


100 Read and Sing Devotionals

**** Rose D.****

Thanks so much to all my readers!
Lots more giveaways this holiday season!!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Holy Night Nativity Set

Beautiful Silhouette Style Holy Family Nativity Set

Beautifully designed, high quality plastic scene
Comes with easy to read instructions to assemble, which I did completely on my own.. that is saying a lot.
I didn't even need my engineer husband to help figure out the instructions like many foreign pieces require.
Outdoor Nativity offers an online video to see the ease of assembly, but you probably won't even need it.
I have not purchased any outdoor decorations for the holiday season in the past because of the 'cheap' look of them, the plastic likeness of them just was not an eye appeal.
When I first saw these nativity sets I immediately was drawn to their simplicity, and the sense of the Reason for the Season.

Each piece snaps into place in less than 10 minutes. It does come with metal stakes to help secure it and I think I may need to use those with the wind.. I will let engineer hubby attach those as they need a screwdriver :)

Additional pieces have been designed to add to the basic scene, Angels, animals, shepherds, and wise men.. all made of the heavy duty plastic

The company also offers window nativity sets, Christmas ornaments and yard signs.

You can Like them on Facebook at 

About the company 
Many thanks to Outdoor Nativity Sets for sending me a sample of their work in this beautiful Christian scene. I have given an honest review of his great product

OUTDOORNATIVITYSETS.COM was launched in late 2010. With the challenges of the economy, our parent company Teak Isle Manufacturing, a 30 year supplier to the marine industry, was faced with cutting its workforce during the holidays. The hard fact was that fewer people were buying boats and the holiday months were going to be extremely slow. Toward the end of last year we were brainstorming of ways to increase our business. As we were talking, one of our employees reminded us that we had built some nativity sets in the past and maybe we could do this again during the holiday season.

Years ago one of the owners of Teak Isle saw a silhouette nativity set at a Christmas tree stand that was made of plywood and painted white. He was taken by the simplicity of the part and loved the message that it conveyed. He bought the set and proudly displayed it in his yard. Later that year, he decided to work with his designers to build a set that was similar to the one he had purchased, but designed and cut from marine grade plastic to withstand the weather conditions for years to come. Teak Isle built some of these nativities for friends and family members and eventually supplied some to local Christmas tree stands. At the time, this was done more for the satisfaction of seeing the nativities around the neighborhood and the joy of being able to offer such a meaningful keepsake.

In October 2010, the decision was made to redesign our nativity sets so that they could be shipped UPS and broken down for easy storage for the rest of the year. We stayed true to the simple, white and non-commercial style and continued to make them from marine grade plastic. Our feeling was that if we offered a high quality AMERICAN MADE product at an affordable price that people would be happy to support us. We were excited by the fact that we were able to keep all of our employees working through the holidays and found peace in the thought of our nativities sitting in neighborhoods all around the country reminding people of the true reason for the season.

This year we are excited to introduce a new line of nativity figures to add to your set including angels, wise men, shepherds and a variety of animals. You can purchase a new figure each year or buy a whole set to complete your nativity scene. Also new this year is a larger, six foot tall version of the nativity for churches or homes with larger yards.

We are proud to report that, in this struggling economy, we were able to hire additional people to work on our nativities this year. Thank you for your business and we wish you all of the peace and joy that comes with the Christmas season.

Baby It's Cold Outside- Susan May Warren

Winter 1949 sees Dottie Morgan as a 44 year old widow, Frost Minnesota librarian, and mother of a fallen soldier in World War II. The holidays are simply another reminder of all Ms. Morgan has lost.
The town of Frost longs to see the big star light up the town's Christmas tree once more, but Ms. Morgan is the owner and hasn't displayed it since Nelson perished in the war. This year assistant librarian, Violet is determined to get the star from Ms. Morgan and relight the tree. Violet was in the war also, and understands that Nelson would have wanted his mother to keep on celebrating.
Violet drives up to the large Victorian on the edge of town in blizzard like conditions. Her car careens into a large pine tree in the front yard, making it undriveable, of all the luck! Jake, friend of Violet's long distance crush had followed Violet out of town unknown to her, wanting to give her some information on her crush Alex.
Violet and Alex are trapped at the big house as neighbor Gordie walks in to replenish the wood pile and is no longer able to see his way home either. Gordie, always a friend to tight lipped, stubborn Dottie, longs to share the loss of Nelson together.
The safe house in the storm, symbolic of God's hurting children and needing the arms of God as a safe house. As the storm traps them for several days, barriers are broken and a new 'safe house' family is formed.
Beautiful Christmas story of brokenness, becoming made new through forgiveness and the Christmas miracle.
Fantastic read, recommended for all this holiday season.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

National Bible Week- Giveaway!!

National Bible Week is Nov 20-27 and to celebrate I would love to introduce you to a new translation of the bible called the Common English Bible (CEB)

The Common English Bible version is just that, common english for today's reader to understand clearly the Bible passages that are so relevant to our lives today as Christians.
Known for being 'built on common ground", the Common English Bible is a  collaboration of 120 academic scholars and editors, 77 reading group leaders, and more than 500 average readers from around the world who joined together to clearly translate the Bible's original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek languages into 21st century English.

"When we say 'built on common ground' we mean that the Common English Bible is the resurlt of collaboration between opposites; scholars working with averag readers, conservatives working with liberals, teens working with retirees; men working with women; many denominations and many ethnicities coming together around the common goal of creating a vibrant and clear translation for 21st centuary readers with  the ultimate objective of mutually accomplishing God' overall work in the world; in essence, helping Bible readers live on common ground," says Paul Franklin, PhD., associate publisher for the Common English Bible.

The publishers are graciously giving a Bible to one of my readers this week in celebration!

Fantastic translation of the Bible for the common reader, in terms that are 'common' today, and easy for children and adults alike to comprehend. Watch next week for my comparision of verses in the Common English Bible with the KJV and NIV.

Leave a comment with Who you would give the bible to if you won, including keeping it for yourself :)
Make sure to include your name and email for the winner to be notified.  Drawing by on Nov 28th.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Nine Lives of Christmas Audio Version Giveaway 11-30

Nine Lives of Christmas
Sheila Roberts
Audio Version

It is said that a cat has 9 lives, and Ambrose the orange cat has already used up 8 of them!
Rescued from the possibility of a mongrel dog taking his 9th life, Ambrose promises that he will be a good cat and help others.. starting with the man that saved his 9th life.
Zach takes in Ambrose until ‘he finds a good home for him’.  While collecting supplies for his temporary guest, Zach meets Merilee at Pet Palace. Elflike in appearance, red headed Merilee loves animals but struggles to talk to men. Despite her unique qualities, Zach keeps thinking about her.
Zach’s girlfriend Blair schemes to get rid of Ambrose, a hater of cats and anything else that takes attention away from herself. Ambrose has the same feelings about Blair, wanting to get rid of her, and why can’t Zach like a nice girl like Merilee?
The author cleverly told the story from both Ambrose the cat, and Zach’s perspective. It was a fun story of how Ambrose sought to keep his 9th life full and relaxing, and in the meantime played matchmaker for Zach.
There was some swearing the book, but not an overwhelming amount. The cat antics were perfect for a cat lover and they will laugh out loud.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from Pump up your Book.

Review & Giveaway :Secret Agent Jack Stalwart- Elizabeth Singer Hunt

Secret Agent Jack Stalwart
Elizabeth Singer Hunt
Published by Weinstein books
 Giveaway Instructions at the End of the Review...
Books 13 & 14 given out Dec 2nd
How did I ever miss this series for my older boys? With a series title like Secret Agent Jack Stalwart, the name alone grabs the attention of every middle grade reader out there!
Thankfully these fantastic books fell into my lap while I still have young boys to read them to and have them get excited about reading. Fantastic series for the reluctant reader as it is jam packed with excitement!!
Ok but who is Jack Stalwart anyhow??

 Nine-year-old Jack Stalwart is like most young boys. He spends his days going to school, playing sports, and finishing his homework before bedtime. But Jack is no ordinary kid. Not when he’s the most decorated junior agent in the Global Protection Force (or GPF) arsenal. Nearly every night, Jack travels to a new country to fight evil villains and protect the world’s most precious people, places and possessions.

Each book takes the reader to a new country, and Elizabeth Singer Hunt preps the reader for the adventure before the story even begins. A world map showing where Jack is heading, Jack’s correspondence with the GPF, his secret agent gadgets and how they work, a synopsis of the country he is going to including some key words in the foreign language, and some facts to get the reader all set to tackle the adventure. The reader is getting an educational look at each country and the fun thing is they may not realize it!! Love how Elizabeth is sneaking in ‘learning’ in each one of her books.
I read Book 13, The Hunt for the Yeti Skull

 THE HUNT FOR THE YETI SKULL (Book 13 in the Secret Agent Jack Stalwart series), features Jack Stalwart, THE action-adventure hero for the younger reader, on a quest to recover the first true Yeti skull—proof that the legendary Abominable Snowman really existed. Surviving the highest mountain on earth and the threats of a band of Russian spies is all in an evening’s work for this junior agent.  
Book 14, The  Mission to Find Max which takes place in Egypt.

 While the GPF had always refused to share details with Jack about Max’s whereabouts, Jack was able to collect clues in previous books pointing to Max being in Egypt. With the help of a GPF insider, Jack finally travels to Egypt where he finds not only his brother, but the reason behind his brother’s disappearance. Jack’s arch nemesis—a greedy archaeologist from Book 5—has captured Max and pried from him the location of the ancient treasure that Max was guarding—King Tut’s diadem, a crown believed to possess unspeakable power. With the archaeologist now in possession of the diadem, Jack, Max and Kate (also from Book 5) race against time to stop the archaeologist before he unleashes the power across Egypt itself.
The final globe-trotting adventure in the million-copy selling hit series, THE MISSION TO FIND MAX is the perfect way to entertain—and educate—boys and girls alike.
I will be collecting the first 12 in this series for sure to add to our ever growing book collection. I know for certain I have a 10 year old who will love these books, and as a homeschooler I love that he is getting some world geography thrown in with his reading skills!! Highly recommend The Jack Stawart series for your 6-9 year olds, and even older!!

Elizabeth Singer Hunt is originally from New Orleans and now lives in Northern California. Inspired by her love of travel, she created the Secret Agent Jack Stalwart series as a way to educate children about the countries and cultures of the world. It has been selected by Britain’s Education Secretary as a “must read” for boys, featured on various UK talk and radio shows and hand-picked by Virgin Atlantic Airways to educate and entertain children on their long-haul flights.
You can find out more about Elizabeth on her webpage
Want to win book 13 & 14 for a special youngster this holiday???
Leave me a comment on which country you would love to see Jack visit, make sure you leave your name and email address to contact you if you are chosen by Random. Org on Dec 2nd. This giveaway is for USA only please.
Can’t wait?? You can purchase the entire series at just in time for Christmas gift giving.
Thanks so much to Little Bird Publicity for sending me a copy of these books in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Answers Book for Teens- Review

Know a teen who is struggling with the basic questions of the Christian Faith? Uninterested in reading deep books on apologetics? Answers Book for Teens is a great gift idea for the holidays, or use as a small group Bible study.

Geared for teens specifically, this book by New Leaf Publishing takes 15 popular faith based questions and discusses them in a way a teen can relate. Nothing overly theological, just the basic gist to get teens started into deeper research if they are interested.

Questions like “How do we know God really exists”?,  “How can we be sure Jesus is the only way to heaven?” and many more.

Using scripture references and highlighting biblical answers to the questions, the authors convey acceptable answers for these questions.

Hip and current for teens, but in-depth enough to answer their probing questions.

I received a copy of this book from Master books in exchange for an honest review.

Unveiling The Kings of Israel- David Downs

Revealing the Bible Archaelogical History
published by Master Books

The historical realiability of the Bible is being challenged by secular archaelogists claiming there is no eveidence to support many of the Bible passages.
Correctly interpreted however, the historic records of Egypt show amazing consistency with the Bible.
Through maps, current photographs and significant research, David Downs is able to provide the reader with evidence for many of the historic stories in Genesis, Exodus, Joshua, 11 Kings, Daniel, Esther and more!
Amazing organization, this breathtaking hardback book would make a fantastic text for a study in Biblical History. Excllent resource for homeschool families that will be treasured for the next generation.
I have yet to see a book so detailed in God rich history, yet simple enough for the basic scholar to glean from.
The highest rating from me on this book!!

Christmas Card Shopping!!

Despite the fact that you can see pictures via the internet, facebook, etc.. there is nothing like getting a Christmas card sent to your home during the holidays to display for all to see.
I love hanging my Christmas cards along the door frames to help decorate for the season and keep our loved ones and friends near and dear to our celebration. We take the opportunity as we unwrap that card to pray for those listed inside. Not only gives us the chance to see their smiling faces, but also to go to the Lord in their behalf.
Tiny Prints is a fantastic company for photo cards!!
I love Tiny Prints rich selection of religious holiday cards 
My favorite this year is

You have choices galore of cards for Christmas from contemporary, to vintage, to whimsical. No need for just religious cards, you can cover any style you choose to send.

And the best thing about Tiny Prints is that they have an entire line of cards for every holiday!!
With an impending move out of state we may choose to either send New Year’s Cards this year, or even a card for our friends once we get settled in our new home like this one

Great quality cards, easy to design your own flavor into it by choosing colors, photo arrangement, and more from the comfort of your own home computer!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Winner-Green Christmas

Random. Org has chosen, and Katie is the winner.. number 52

She will be notified by email and the tote and Christmas surprise books mailed out to her this week!!

Loved this giveaway and I hope you all had a great time!!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Remembering Christmas- Dan Walsh

Remembering Christmas
Dan Walsh

Rick Denton, career minded, business oriented, climbing the ladder to success is thankful to have left his childhood home in Florida years ago. Rick's father left the family when Rick was very young, and Rick blames his mother for the loss. He hates it even more when his mother remarries his stepdad Art who tries to father Rick, when Rick still longs for his own father. Wanting no relationship with Art, Rick barely keeps in touch with his mother and stepfather.

Rick's Mother out of the blue calls Rick in panic mode, Art is hospitalized with a possible stroke, later learned to be an anuerism and she begs Rick to come and care for their christian bookstore during the busy holiday season when half of their income is earned. Thinking it will only be for a couple days Rick agrees to drive down and attempt to help in the tiny little bookstore in the basement of a church.
What was suppossed to only take days, lasted into weeks and Rick begins to relax a bit and reflect on his past, and what he believes he remembers.

Sometimes past memories aren't remembered as they truly happened, and I love how Dan Walsh uses Rick to reflect on past hurts and feelings and brings him full circle in his self examination. Throw in a love interest in the least suspecting person, forgiveness on the deepest levels, and twists and turns to keep the reader moving forward. A fantastic story for all times of the year, but relevant for Christmas as well!

Thanks to Revell for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Modern Homestead- Renee Wilkinson

Modern Homestead.. Grow, Raise, Create
by Renee Wilkinson

Sixth generation gardener and homesteader, Renee Wilkinson shares generations of knowledge in thie easy to read book. Books on city homesteading are a bit harder to find than the full farming types of books, and Renee solves that problem by designing her own helpful resource.
Even if you are nestled deep in the heart of a city there are basic things you can grow and raise for a healthier lifestyle.
Renee shares ideas for container gardens, raised beds, and community gardens and gives an indepth look at plants, seeds, soil and compost for utilizing the best resources available to you.
I love her chaper on citified critters! Ideal plans for a mini chicken coop, a 20 by 20 goat yard to house 2 milkers (my favorites), and housing honey bees.
Beautiful color photos draw you into the book and exited the reader to get started on their homesteading!

Thanks so much to Fulcrum Publishing for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I am giving this book away in a Gratitude Giveaway on my blog where you can enter at this link!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Inspired Design- ROxanne Packham

Drawing from a rich family history and her own collection of acclaimed designs, California-based interior designer Roxanne Packham has joined with her teenage daughter Hannah to create Inspired Design (Inspired Design Publications), an idea-provoking book filled with stunning photographs, treasured family traditions and a plethora of truly inspirational tips for creating a warm and welcoming home, not just throughout the holiday season, but every day to follow.

Whether seeking unique ways to entertain for the upcoming holidays, celebrate with friends, begin new family traditions or showcase the family history, talents and passions in the home’s interior design, the Packhams have shown the way. In doing so, they have utilized the beautifully structured pages of Inspired Design to reveal the classic truth that any home is made more beautiful when it is filled with love, joy and the determination to make those who enter it feel welcomed.

10 Tips for Setting a Beautiful Holiday Table

By Roxanne Hughes Packham,

Co-Author of the Hospitality Book: Inspired Design

In today’s rough economic climate, keep in mind that although I hope to inspire you to set a beautiful Thanksgiving or Christmas table the real beauty comes from the thought and love you show your friends and family. Beautiful tables comprise equal parts from the “Inspired” & the “Design” categories. See examples:


~Place cards

I love to use the ceramic place cards that can be written on with a wipe-off marker. You can quickly write people’s names, a favorite quote or sentiment. Friends love that you thought about them before the dinner and even something as simple as writing their names on the place cards really makes them feel remembered.

~Welcome Sign

It is so welcoming, to have a sign somewhere near the front door to greet your family and friends. From a very personal “Welcome Smith Family” or a seasonal “Merry Christmas” to “We are so glad you are here” on a casual chalkboard or an elegant mirror or glass framed, and write with a wipe-off marker, that welcome sets the tone for the rest of the event. I used an antique French cupboard door and painted it with chalkboard paint on the raised panel part.

~Quote or Scripture

The most inspirational part of the Holiday table is the beautiful quotes and scriptures. It depends on the occasion, but a quote that is either inspiring or focused on gratitude is the favorite. There is nothing like feasting your eyes, and then your thoughts, on what we can be thankful for, especially as an example for our children. Scattering them around the home (powder room, end tables, above door jam’s) is a great way to elevate your family and friends thoughts.


~Fresh Greenery

Sometimes we mistakenly think a tabletop has to have flowers as a centerpiece to be really elegant and festive. Greenery is a wonderful, fresh and festive way to make a beautiful Christmas table. Simply cut a few small twigs of trees/bushes like pine or ivy, or my favorite boxwood branches, bay tree and magnolia leaves and put them in three smaller glass or crystal vases.


No table is complete, in my opinion, with 5 to 7 little glass votives with white candles in them. The light sparkles and makes everything else on the table more beautiful and sets a soft, relaxing, often more romantic tone.

~Seasonal Piece

By seasonal I suggest a “Santa” figurine or such, a gingerbread house, or a standing cross to have in the center of the table. A clear jar of candy canes, M&M’s or such would do just fine, as well. Think: Something available only at this time of year. I usually have plenty of items in the Holiday Decor that I switch out to put on the table for each dinner.

~Napkin Rings

These can be such a pretty way to pull a linen napkin through to set on a place and make a really beautiful table setting. You can use french ribbons, or plain silver rings and they help to really make a bigger impact for an inspiring table.

~Sparkling Glasses

Whether crystal or glass, tall freshly washed glass sparkle so much with the votive candles that it is hard to wrong with this combo. A tall glass and short glass of whatever kind you like is very dramatic and beautiful, set together. Whether colored or clear the sparkle is crucial for the holiday table.

~White Plates

Although I love to use seasonal chargers and salad plates a crisp white plate is the most beautiful element to my favorite tables. They can be dressed up or down, and makes each setting look fresh and not heavy and overdone.

~Seasonal Linens

Of course, linen napkins add the most wonderful touch of elegance to any table, and Christmas plaid or red and green are no exception. My grandfather, who was a “Silversmith to the Stars”, loved a bare table with only plates (or placemats) but wasn’t a fan of covering a beautiful wood table. I have followed suit. Try leaving the wood table bare! The natural elements together is beautiful and simple.

“I tell you, the more I think, the more I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.” ~ Vincent Van Gogh


For interview information, contact

Audra Jennings

Senior Media Specialist

The B&B Media Group

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Gratitude Giveaway- Nov 17-27

As a Thankyou to all of my readers and followers I am joining with the Gratitude Giveaway Hop sponsered by I Am a Reader, Not a Writer and All-Consuming Books.
The Hop runs from Nov17th through the 27th.
1 entry per person, please become a GFC follower of my blog, then leave me a comment at the end of the post with your follower name and email address to contact you if you are the winner..
So what are you going to win????
Since my blog is primarily a book review blog you are going to be winning BOOKS!!

Beautiful Cookbook from The Farmer's Wife collection. I will be reviewing this book later in the week, but it promises to be a fantastic find!!

Modern Homestead by Renee Wilkinson again i will be reviewing this week, a book that can be useful for everyone, no matter how much land they have to live healthier and grow, raise and create!

So Follow me on Google Friend Connect
Leave me a comment at the end of the post with your google name and email
Click on all the links to join in more wonderful giveaways as we are truly greatful for our readers!!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Song of Unmaking by D. Barkely Briggs

The Song of Unmaking by D. Barkley Briggs

From the Website
In a frozen, bitter land, hope and fear collide.

The dreadful Goths have invaded Röckval, testing the strength of Bitterland's ruler. Meanwhile, the Barlow brothers are growing stronger and stronger in their powers—all except for Ewan, who traded his gift away to save the life of his friends.

Soon it becomes clear that the Goths are the least of their worries. A terrible machine is being built high atop Mount Vishgar, above Röckval, where the raging winds never cease. If the machine really does release the Song of Unmaking, what will happen? Can Arthur lay aside his grief and once more become a great leader of men? And what is the mysterious Doorless Tower, Nein Dyrr?

As Kr'Nunos grows more bold, the Barlow brothers take their stand with the viks of the north. Yet it is Ewan alone who must answer the question: Is any music stronger than the most powerful song of destruction the world has ever known?
My Review
Fantastic series for young adults, yet engrossing enough for adults as well. Mystical lands and far out of the way places make this a creative fantasy. Sometimes fantasties can be too ‘far out there’, almost ‘new age’ in nature. What I love about this series is that it still incorporated the vision of Christ and his characteristics.
Dean Barkley Briggs is an author, father of eight, and prone to twisting his ankle playing basketball. He grew up reading J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lews, Patricia McKillip, Guy Gavriel Kay, Stephen R. Donaldson, Ursila K. Leguin, Susan Cooper, Madeline L'Engle, Terry Brooks, Andre Norton and Lloyd Alexander (just to name a few)...and generally thinks most fantasy fiction pales in comparison. (Yes, he dabbled in  sci-fi, too. Most notably Bradbury, Burroughs and Heinlein).
After losing his wife of 16 years, Briggs decided to tell a tale his four sons could relate to in their own journey through loss. Thus was born The Legends of Karac Tor, a sweeping adventure of four brothers who become enmeshed in the crisis of another world and aong the way, must find their courage, battle overwhelming odds, face their pain, and never quit searching for home.
In God's timing, beauty and joy arose in the real world, too. Briggs remarried a lovely redhead named Jeanie, who previously lost her husband in an auto accident. Together with her four children, their hands are quite full, and they spend each day grateful for their eight blessings.
The Book of Names is the first book in The Legends of Karac Tor.
Corus the Champion is the second. Both are in stores now!
The Song of Unmaking
arrives Fall, 2011.

Briggs previously authored two medical thrillers, God Spot (1999) and The Most Important Little Boy in the World (2001)

I appreciate Glass Roads for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.