Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Family Friendly Blog Hop



Family Friendly Blog Hop where you can find new blogs to follow!
My blog is primarily a book review blog where I review Christian books, Children's books, homesteading, craft, cook books.. anything good and wholesome for the whole family to read!
Check out my sidebar for giveaways I am currently running
Hope you join my blog through google friend connect so you can be updated on all of the fabulous books awaiting my reading! I have some great cookbooks, kids books, and Christmas books all lined up to review in this next month!!
Be blessed
Melanie

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Deeply Devoted- Maggie Brendan

Deeply Devoted
Maggie Brendan

Catharine Olsen becomes a mail order bride, leaving Holland for the USA, travelling by train to prairie land WY with her 2 young sisters in tow. Catharine became the guardian of Anna 15, and Greta 17 when her parents perished in an accident.

Peter anxiously awaits the arrival of Catharine and is surprised when he sees her arrive with her two sisters. She kept that from him for fear he wouldn’t want her if he knew she had to care for them. Secret number one.

Peter’s mother Clara had high hopes for him to marry Dorothy and is struck clueless when she runs into Peter and Catharine on their way to be married. Clara hires a PI to find some ‘dirt’ on this ‘gold digger’ that is taking up with her son. Secret number two.

The PI finds that Catharine was married prior to coming to the USA, and she had not mentioned that to Peter either. Secret number 3.

Secret after secret are kept between the couple, that slowly begins to tear at the trust that they had built up through their correspondence and courtship. They both seem deeply devoted, but are they enough so to reveal all the burdens that they are carrying, and bring them into the light?

Rich in Wyoming history the novel felt like I was walking down the streets of WY in the late 1800’s. Mail order brides was an actual happening in America where there were hard working men, but no women to share their lives with.  This is why I love historical fiction so well. Not only do you get a glimpse of history, of a different way of living, a different economy, dress, etc, but you also get a story that helps make that time period more real to the readers mind.
I sure hope Maggie Brendan continues the series right where she left off. I can’t wait to see what happens to the sisters as they grow up on WY, and how deeply devoted Peter and Catharine can become to one another.
I received a copy of this book from Revell in exchange for an honest review.

Gluten-Free Cooking Made Easy- Susan Bell

Gluten-Free Cooking Made Easy
Susan Bell
Walnut Springs Press

Celiac disease occurs in 1% of the population worldwide. I have run across friends and acquaintances in my own small town who suffer from the disease. One of the best ways to combat it is to eat a gluten free diet. Several ingredients are crucial to making gluten free breads; xanthan gum, potato starch, sorghum flour, corn flour, quinoa flakes, brown rice flour, etc. Having these on hand will make using this cookbook all the more easier.
Susan Bell includes useful tips and hints in the beginning of the book on kitchen basics, eating out, and reading labels.
Just like your basic cookbook she includes recipes from each category of food needs. Great sounding pancakes and muffins, that are completely gluten-free. Cakes, pies and candies all utilizing either premade gluten free products or making your own. I did notice that several of the recipes were naturally gluten free, which adds to the completeness of the cookbook. Great recipes for everyone in the family. Why go to the trouble of cooking separate for your celiac when you can use a cookbook like this one to provide the same wholesome meal for your whole family.
I think cookbooks like this are definitely needed as those diagnosed with gluten allergies or celiac disease are on the rise.
Thanks to Walnut Springs Press for providing me a copy of this book to review.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Crystal Prince- Jeanette Clinger Hurley

The Crystal Prince
Jeanette Clinger Hurley

Long ago King Xithius had 2 sons and bestowed upon the youngest, Xanthian,the reigns of the kingdom, while the eldest Ganthian held a revolt against his brother. Evil turned Ganthian and his followers into trolls and they were cast out far away from the kingdom.
Years later the Ganthites return to capture and kidnap a decendant of Xanthian, Xabian.
Xabian was born with a hole in his heart and required special gems near him at all times to mend his heart. His friend Jenevieve falls into a coma when Xabian is kidnapped and is able then to have her spirit visit him in the trolls care. She is able to bring him gems to heal his heart.
Xabian being from the kingdom of kindness is able to show the trolls kindness and love, something they have not experienced.
The golden rule is the theme of this novel, Treat others how you would like to be treated.

I would say this book is geared for the tween age group who enjoy fantasy fiction. There is nothing problematic with the book, nicely written and positive ending. Youngsters just venturing into the world of fantasy would do well with this novel to ‘get their feet wet’ in some of the imaginary creatures and elements in fantasy.
I did struggle a bit with the time flow of the book as the prince left when he was 12, and when he returned he was quite a bit older and I hadn’t caught on that years and years had passed.
The drawings by BC Hailes definitely adds a charm to the novel, helping the reader to picture the story as it unfolds.
I received a copy of this book from Media Guests in exchange for an honest review.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jeanette Clinger Hurley is an accomplished world-class singer, songwriter, story teller, Entrepreneur and lifelong dreamer. As a child she performed with luminaries such as Bob Hope, Liberace, Sammy Davis Jr. and Gene Kelly to name just a few. In the 90′s, Jeanette fronted and recorded with the best selling jazz contemporary artist Hiroshima, as well as recording and touring with Yanni and many others. She’s written, Produced and recorded several CD’s of her own with abundant success.
The Crystal Prince marks her first foray into children’s literature and her decade of passion and persistence have finally come to fruition in the book you now hold in your hand. Jeanette is a loving wife and proud mother to Logan and London, who are her greatest and proudest accomplishments to date.
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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Wounded Heart Review & GIVEAWAY!

The Wounded Heart
Adina Senft
An Amish Quilt Novel

First in a new Amish quilt series!
Widow Amelia is left to run her husband’s pallet shop in addition to managing her household and two young children, after he is killed in a buggy accident. 11 months later Amelia still struggles and entertains the idea of possibly selling the business after an English customer inquires into it.
Amelia begins to notice pins and needles in her hands that are becoming much more than just a nuisance. 
Consulting her mother she tries her home remedies and then tries the local chiropractor that many Amish go to. That doctor strongly suggests she see a medical doctor. An MRI shows the early stages of multiple sclerosis. Treatment options are to take medications, expensive for an Amish women without medical insurance, or travel to Mexico for an experimental study. Both are extremely expensive and need approval of the Amish community.
Thankful for her friendships of Emma and Carrie and her time with them quilting, she is able to walk through her journey with their help as well as that of God.
Unique spin on the typical Amish novels, tackling a disease like MS. I enjoyed the information on what Amish do in the case of serious illness like that and how the community works together to help provide funds needed for medical procedures. I loved how the quilting weaved into the story line and the author even includes a sample block instructions at the end of the novel. I look forward to reading the rest of the books in the series!
I received a copy of The Wounded Heart in exchange for an honest review.

And for one of my blessed readers the Publisher is giving away a copy of The Wounded Heart!

 You must be a GFC follower to comment, then leave me a message with what you like about Amish Fiction novels.
Be sure to give me your email address so that after the contest I can get your snail mail address and pass it along.
The contest is for USA and Canada residents.
 I will leave the entries open for one week, and use random. org to select a winner.
Good luck!!


The Wounded Heart Blog Tour Schedule
September 26
http://www.bibliophilesretreat.com
http://uselesscrafts.blogspot.com
http://rannthisthat.blogspot.com
http://overweight-bookshelf.blogspot.com/
http://www.kittycrochettwo.blogspot.com
September 27
http://www.moms-pace.com
http://ashleysbookshelf.blogspot.com
http://reviewsfromtheheart.blogspot.com
http://a-long-the-way.blogspot.com
September 28
http://bookinwithbingo.blogspot.com/
http://shoopettesbookreviews.blogspot.com/
http://libslibrary.blogspot.com
http://sugarpeach.wordpress.com/
http://www.frommipov.blogspot.com
http://southernsassythings.blogspot.com
http://detweilermom.blogspot.com
http://camys-loft.blogspot.com

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Language of Flowers- Vanessa Diffenbaugh

The Language of Flowers
Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Published by Ballantine Books
Source: ARC review copy

When emotions are too raw, flowers become a catalyst for expression. Foster child Victoria, abandoned as an infant, shuttled from foster home to foster home until she is 9 years old. At 9 she becomes the foster daughter of Elizabeth, a grape farmer. Isolated from the world herself, Elizabeth pulls Victoria into her ‘family’ in the hopes of adoption.
Flowers and their language is a skill Elizabeth teaches Victoria over the course of the next year.
Victoria learns and takes in so much that when she is released from the foster care system at age 18 she eventually finds herself back with flowers, working for a florist named Renata.
Excelling in her knowledge of flowers and their expression of emotion, Victoria begins to make a name for herself in the floral world. Victoria continues to struggle with her own sense of belonging and self-worth that follows her in a relationship with Grant. Unable to express herself, Grant and Victoria begin a flower dictionary of expressions.
Fears of not knowing how to belong, of feeling inadequate causes Victoria to jeopardize her own happiness. Will she be able to pull out of herself and find the love she deserves?
Amazing look into the depth of flowers and a creation of a floral dictionary, detailed with their origin and meanings. I had never given much thought to the depth flowers could express, depth of emotion when our uncertainties make our words unavailable.
Great focus on the foster care system and the need for programs to integrate these 18 year olds into adulthood, into a society where they can feel they finally belong.
Told with heart and deep emotions, both verbal and through flowers.
Unique and Powerful!

About Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Vanessa Diffenbaugh was born in San Francisco and raised in Chico, California. After studying creative writing and education at Stanford, she went on to teach art and writing to youth in low-income communities. She and her husband, PK, have three children: Tre’von, eighteen; Chela, four; and Miles, three. Tre’von, a former foster child, is attending New York University on a Gates Millennium Scholarship. Diffenbaugh and her family currently live in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where her husband is studying urban school reform at Harvard.
You can visit Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s website at www.VanessaDiffenbaugh.com

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

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Blog Direction.. Design?

I would like to be able to incorporate my Book reviews and reading finds with my creative skills and my Etsy site. So reading, quilting, sewing, soap making, all in one blog.. I would obviously need to change the name of the blog. My etsy site is country Mommy to 6. I do like the idea of incorporating the country mommy part. All that I do with the reading and crafts spring out of my living in the country. I need to think of a theme so I can make a 'button' for the blog. I sure wish I knew more about computers, but at this age, 39 today :) I am just not overly interested in learing about it. I much rather read or quilt!
Looking for feedback from my followers if you had other things than a book review blog would you still be a follower? What sort of title or theme can you brainstorm?
I want to be able to offer blog hop giveaways for soaps and not just books..
Give me your brainchild ideas and there could be a free book or two in it for you if I use your ideas!!

Melanie

Friday, September 23, 2011

Unbroken

Unbroken
Written by Unbroken Corporation
Published by Tate Publishing

Unbroken is a series of testimonies on how God loves us and never leaves us. A book on real life stories of the world and its enemy Satan tearing down women of all walks of life. Stories of alcoholism, sexual promiscuity, low self-worth and dysfunctional upbringings, all affecting women’s view of themselves and the life created for them.
Stories of hope in God and being ‘unbroken’ rather than broken as our Father fixes the broken hearted.

9 women share their stories but the reader does not know whom each story belongs to. Photos of each of the women, untitled follows the introduction. This shows the reader that you can’t just look at someone and see that they look ‘normal’ on the outside, so you assume they are ok on the inside. Each of these beautiful women have been through struggles that only God could redeem. Showing awareness that each person has a story and we should be wary to start rattling off things when we don’t know how each person struggles. Each story draws the reader into their turmoil and discord, only to be brought back through the hope that only the love of Jesus Christ can bring.

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

A Heart Revealed by Julie Lessman

A Heart Revealed
Julie Lessman

10 years ago Emma Malloy leaves Ireland to escape her abusive, drunk excuse for a husband, taking her married status with her to America. From the time she was a young child her sense of value and worth has been denied. Emma feels her marriage is her just reward and though 10 years later and on another continent she continues to bind herself to a punishment of forever being alone.

The O’Connor family, Emma’s best friend Charity’s family, ‘adopts’ Emma as their own. Scarred by her husband Rory it takes years for Emma to fit into a life of normalcy in America.

The book has several stories intertwined with the different O’Connor children, Emma’s coworkers, friends and even the O’Connor parents. It was almost like watching a BBC series on TV of an Irish family and their lives and all the different stories that came with having several children grown with families of their own. Well thought out characters that blend together well with each of the themes.
It was a little slow for me in the beginning but I am glad I hung in there as it got more thorough as the plot thickened.

I loved Emma’s faith in God and her care for others. Loved the characteristics of forgiveness and faithfulness throughout the novel. God can certainly redeem the time as depicted in this novel by Juile Lessman
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Review & Giveaway Lancaster Christmas- Suzanne Woods Fisher

Lancaster Christmas
Suzanne Woods Fisher
Jamie Fitzpatrick struggles with the death of her mother 6 months prior as the Christmas holiday approaches. Unable to pull out of her slump she has been relying on sleeping pills to help her rest more easily at night. She is refilling her prescription unknown to her husband CJ and meets a young Amish family at the Dr. Office. Danny the couple’s 6 year old son is blowing on a hand carved bird whistle and begins a conversation with Jamie. Later he leaves the whistle behind and the Dr. asks Jamie to return it to him at his home. CJ and Jamie are supposed to be leaving on a cruise with her estranged father and really needs to be moving on toward their destination but feels she should return the whistle to the Amish farmhouse.
Danny’s parents Sol and Mattie are struggling themselves with several miscarriages since Danny’s birth 6 years ago. Mattie so desires more children and feels in some way she is less because she has only had one.
While returning the whistle to Danny, Jamie and CJ encounter a problem with their car when it rolls backward into a pond. The blizzard conditions are going to prevent help from coming to get the car out and getting them back on the road. They must find refuge with the Amish family as God has a weekend in store for all of them.
A story of friendship based on the love of Christ. The couples have the weekend to get to know one another, share their stories and grow. A time of healing inside of themselves while the storm outside rages.
A weekend of renewal, with twists and turns to keep your finger turning the pages!. I just loved the character development and honesty of each of the characters. By the end of the book the reader really has a sense of who the characters are and where God is leading them.
About the Author
Her interest in the Amish began with her grandfather, W.D. Benedict, who was raised Plain. She has many, many Plain relatives living in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, and travels back to Pennsylvania, as well as to Ohio, a couple of times each year for research.

Suzanne has a great admiration for the Plain people and believes they provide wonderful examples to the world.  In both her fiction and non-fiction books, she has an underlying theme: You don't have to "go Amish" to incorporate many of their principles--simplicity, living with less, appreciating nature, forgiving others more readily-- into your life.

When Suzanne isn't writing or bragging to her friends about her first new grandbaby (!), she is raising puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. To Suzanne's way of thinking, you just can't take life too seriously when a puppy is tearing through your house with someone's underwear in its mouth. 
Suzanne can be found on-line at: www.suzannewoodsfisher.com.

Link to buy the book: 
 
It’s Christmas in September!







To celebrate the release of her first Christmas book, Suzanne Woods Fisher has teamed up with her publisher, Revell, to bring you the "Christmas in September" iPad Giveaway! The winner will be announced on 9/27 at the A Lancaster County Christmas Facebook Party! Details below. Tell your friends and join in the fun (9/7-9/27).








Oh and be sure to follow the blog tour here - many of the bloggers have copies of the book to giveaway! 













Suzanne and Revell will be presenting one merry winner with a Christmas Prize Pack (valued at over $600):





  • A Brand New iPad 2 with Wi-Fi
  • $25 gift certificate to iTunes
  • A copy of A Lancaster County Christmas




To enter, click one of the icons below. But, hurry the giveaway ends on 9/26.





But, wait! There's more! The winner will be announced at the A Lancaster County Christmas Facebook Party on 9/27 at Suzanne's author page. During the party she'll be revealing something *BIG* - you won't want to miss it. She'll also be hosting a book chat, trivia contest and giving away a few early Christmas presents! Hope to see you there.









Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Friday blog Hop



I found this great blog hop for Friday that you simply get an opportunity to find other blogs like mine!! I am at number 16 this week and the bunnies up above should take you to the list.
Have fun hopping around other Family Friendly blogs and thanks for following my blog. Great book reviews coming soon!!
Blessings and Happy Friday
Melanie

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Night Night Blessings- Amy Parker

Night Night Blessings
Amy Parker
Illustrated by Marijan Ramljak

God’s blessings from “Good Morning to ‘Night Night”.
Rhyming, sing song words that young toddler will know and understand. Being thankful for pancakes, playing with friends and pets. Thanking God for toys, family and bubble baths.
Perfect size for a little one to have read to them at night night time! Reminds your little one of all the blessings God bestoys upon our days and to know that He is watching over us as we sleep.

Soft illustrations give off a warm feeling as you nestle in to read this book at night time. Simple use of what looks like chalk drawings, not overly detailed, just right for toddler aged children. The board book offers a book that they can hold while you read and even tuck under their pillow for bedtime.

Great book to get started with counting your night time blessings with a  little one as you tuck them at night night time!

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

Monday, September 19, 2011

TeaCup Art- Joyce Wilkens

TeaCup Art
Joyce Wilkens

TEaCup Art is a collection of teacups displayed in an array of artistic scenes, reflected on by author Joyce Wilkens. I have never given much thought to teacups prior to seeing this book, but I was drawn to the beauty of the photos.
People have sat around for generations, in all countries sipping tea, sharing their lives and conversation in a multitude of different styles of teacups, each with their own stories. Teacups conjure up thoughts of warmth, friendship and a break from the daily grind.

Joyce takes each teacup and either it’s heritage or something from its characteristics and designs a scene to photograph. I love the artistic edge she gives to the simplicity of a teacup, bringing to life its stories and the life it has lived. The variety of cups is so fun to see and I imagine collectors of teacups would love to see her collection in photos.

I have been inspired to firstly use teacups a bit more, not always coffee mugs, and to keep my eye out for unique teacups to collect. This is a fantastic book to leave out for guests to see, and lead into a discussion of cups they have used and seen. I loved the concept of the book and the combination of Joyce’s reflections and artistic photos.

I received a copy of this book from Bring it On Communications in exchange for an honest review.

Passion To Action- Beth and Jay Loecken

Passion To Action
Jay and Beth Loecken with Laura Morton

A testimony to God’s unfailing love, and how through Him your passion and desire to serve can be ignited.

Jay and Beth Loecken were a typical family living the American dream, great job, nice house, cars, toys, and not lacking for any ‘thing’. Yet they were missing out on something and couldn’t quite put their finger on it. Deciding to take a mission trip to Africa with 3 of their 4 children and serve in a small community changed their way of thinking from then forward.

They were missing what God had called them to and got caught up in the ‘stuff’ that the world calls us to. Giving up all the ‘stuff’ and going on the road in an RV the family set out to serve where God led them. They met families along the way that they were able to be blessed by and be a blessing. They worked side by side with churches sharing their message of not only talking about helping others, but coming along side of them and going out and getting programs started.

Throughout the book Jay and Beth share their own personal testimonies, stories from their childhood, and ways God has worked in their lives. We read bits from the children and how the experience of travelling in the RV has affected them. An autobiography of their mission and how God brought it to fruition, not only in their own lives but also in a way to share it with others.

I loved the open honesty of Jay and Beth, like they were talking to good friends in writing the book. They didn’t hold back from their story and make it sound all glittery and golden but gave us the hardships that came with starting a ministry such as this. They didn’t write as if they were hero’s, but more like those who they served were the real hero’s. They were very big into Random Acts of Kindness which is a universally understood concept. I loved how they could utilize that with fellow Christians as well as those who were unsaved.
It was definitely a book that got me thinking, am I living for the now or am I living for eternity??
You can see more about their ministry and mission at



Q&A with Jay & Beth Loecken,
Authors of Passion to Action

Q:  In your book, Passion to Action, you discuss how a trip to Africa changed the direction of your life.  Why did you decide to go on a mission trip to Africa and how did that trip affect you?

Something had been stirring in our hearts for some time before we decided to go on the mission trip to Africa.  We got away for a weekend to talk and pray about the direction of our lives, and we decided that going on a mission trip together would be a powerful thing to do as a family.  We wanted to teach our children that being a Christian involved more than just going to church; it required action.  When Jay was in college, he traveled overseas extensively for two summers.  Being exposed to the struggles and poverty of those outside of the U.S. made a profound impact on him, and he desired that our family experience what life was like in another culture.  We knew from Jay’s experience that the trip would impact our lives, but we had no idea how much it would affect each of us.  We were blown away by the poverty and conditions in Africa.  It’s one thing to see images of people in distress on a television screen, but to see and smell the poverty in person was overwhelming.  While the images we saw there will stay with us forever, the African people made the biggest impression on us.  In the middle of dire and desperate conditions they had such resilient spirits, coupled with an amazing sense of community and joy.  We came home with the realization that while we were rich in comparison to them materially, we were poor in comparison to the community and joy they possessed.

Q:  Upon returning from Africa, you made the decision to sell your home and travel the country in an RV.  Had you ever envisioned yourself living in an RV before that time?

Since we were first married, we dreamed that one day we would travel as a couple.  We couldn’t imagine that would happen until after the kids were grown.  As a boy Jay had traveled for weeks at a time across the U.S. with his parents and grandparents.  He had many fond memories from these trips, and we imagined how amazing it would be to do this with our family.  We just didn’t see how it would ever be possible, so we stuffed our dream down and never pursued it.

        Q:  What were your biggest fears about uprooting your family and following your dream?  Were your family and friends supportive of your decision?  

Jay’s biggest fear was what this decision would mean to our family financially.  We were concerned that buying a motor home meant we were throwing our money away as RV’s depreciate quickly over time.  He also wondered how difficult it would be to continue his career as a mortgage broker while traveling from city to city.  We had concerns about the friendships our children would leave behind.  We wondered how they would adapt and if they would be able to make friendships as we traveled.  Our families at first questioned the financial wisdom of our decision, but in time they became supportive while many of our friends in Atlanta thought we were nuts. They had a hard time understanding why anyone in their right mind would want to trade a 4,500 square foot house with four bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms to live in a 340 square foot home on wheels with two rooms and one toilet.

Q:  How has your faith changed since you first began to follow your God-given dream?        
 
Our faith has grown tremendously since we began pursuing our dream as well as over the past three years we’ve been on the road.  As we’ve stepped out and broken past our fear, we have seen God show up in amazing ways.  We no longer question IF God will come through; we only wonder HOW He will come through for us.  Jay quit his job as a mortgage broker almost two years ago to pursue the non-profit we started, and while we haven’t had an official income we somehow miraculously always have enough to live.  This past September things were looking pretty bleak.  We only had about a month’s worth of income left in the bank, and we weren’t sure what to do.  We got on our knees and placed the situation in God’s hands, and then we waited to see how He would come through.  A couple of weeks later we met a couple from the church we were working with who were impacted by our ministry, and they generously donated $40,000 to our non-profit.  We were completely blown away by God’s faithfulness and His ability to meet all of our needs.  We have also seen our faith expand as we have gone into places and worked with people that we would have never even thought of going to or working with when we lived in Atlanta.

Q:  In Passion to Action, you discuss how you not only sold your home and began traveling in an RV, but you also decided to live your life serving others.  How do you decide where you will go and who you will help?

When we first got on the road, the decision of who and where we served happened organically.  We simply prayed and asked God to show us where we should go and who we should serve.  While it was invigorating to see God show up and serve in a variety of settings, it was also exhausting.  We would stay in a place for a week to three weeks at a time.  Over time our schedule left us fatigued and worn out.  When we started the non-profit, we developed a strategic plan that we believed would be more sustainable for the ministry and our family.  We decided it was best for us to spend two months at a time in each city where we work in order to develop relationships.  Because of this strategy we try to plan in advance and book ourselves out as far in advance as possible.  In regards to who we will help, we have always subscribed to the belief that it is better to work with existing non-profits or ministries that are already serving those in need versus trying to re-create the wheel.  As a result of this belief, when we work with a group or church we learn what organizations or people they are working with in their communities, and we join forces to work with them.  We specifically try to work with organizations that implement community development principles and who are committed to treating those they serve with dignity and respect.  We will go where we are invited, regardless of the size of the group, as long as we believe that God is working.  We try to be obedient to His leading and simply join Him in the work He is already doing.

Q:  You have now formed an organization based on your experience.  What is your mission for Passion to Action and how do you hope it will impact the lives of others?

Our mission for Passion to Action is to inspire, empower, and mobilize people to put their faith in action.  We believe that inspiration is the fuel for change.  In order to step out it’s critical that we first be inspired to act on our dream and passion.  Our desire is that our story would serve as a catalyst to inspire people to action.  We are all called to serve and that looks different for each of us.  While we believe it’s important THAT we serve, we also believe that it’s significant HOW we serve.  We hope to equip people by teaching them community development principles which empower them to serve others with dignity through developing relationships, avoiding the trap of dependency, and making a long term commitment to serve their communities.  Lastly, we hope to mobilize people into action to serve others.  Our desire is that when people step out of their comfort zones and break past fear, that this will create a heart change in them and help to catapult them into a lifetime of service.


Passion to Action by Jay and Beth Loecken
Guideposts Books/September 2011
ISBN: 978-0-8249-4857-3/256 pages/hardcover/$19.99

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Giveaway and Review Plugged-In Parenting

Plugged in Parenting
By Bob Waliszewski

The subtitle of the book is How to Raise Media-Savvy Kids with Love, not War.. I just loved that!
I tend toward being a bit ‘fussy’ about what my kids watch on TV and listen to in the music arena. Bob brings across the point that media does influence us and our children, that people are motivated by what they see and hear in the media. We cannot just take a back seat and be ignorant to the fact simply because it may be easier to not confront it.
Crimes shows are mimicked, love scenes are mimicked and bad morals are taken in as acceptable to some who watch the shows, even Christians!
Understanding where your kids are spiritually is the starting place for limiting media, not just setting up a bunch of rules. We are in a battle for our children’s minds and hearts. Encourage our Christian children to honor Christ with their choices in media.
Bob uses scenes from shows on today to emphasize his point of how easily media can ‘slip’ in things that are ungodly.
He then goes to quote scripture verses on how we should choose our friends, view our surroundings and keep from evil. All that can be used in our media experiences today.
I was fortunate to be pretty on target with the thoughts and descriptions that Bob discussed. Only one TV, out in the open, the children listen to Christian music by choice, and the computer is in an open space as well. Does that mean we are immune, not at all. We can just see more clearly the things that are going on, and can continue to monitor and guard against the evil one infiltrating our children’s minds.
Definitely a concept that Christian families need to consider and not just brush it under the rug!

Author Info
Bob Waliszewski is a parent and former youth pastor. He's also director of Plugged In Online, which is visited about one million times each month by people looking for detailed, trustworthy information on today's entertainment. Bob's weekly Plugged In Movie Review is heard on nearly 600 U.S. radio stations, as well as in about a dozen other countries.


This topic is one I feel strongly about and would encourage others to seriously consider reading Plugged-In Parenting. I am giving away my review copy as I feel this is a message that needs to be heard!
Leave me a comment on the area you would like to see change in your family within the media sphere.. TV shows, Music choices, Internet browsing, etc

Make sure to leave your name and email address so I can get ahold of you if you win!! Winner chosen 9-30 with Random. org

Blue Chicken by Deborah Freedman

Adorable merging of print and real life! The story begins as a picture of a barn scene is begin painted by an unseen artist. The brown chicken coop is complete along with the chicks and chickens. The artist is going to work on the barn now. One curious chicken eyeballs the blue paint, hops off the painting and decides to 'help' paint the picture. She ends up spilling the blue paint all over the pages and everything becomes a blue watercolored mess!
Goodness that little chicken has caused havic and is so sorry for the mess and wants to 'undo the blue'.

Artistic story line of this cute little chicken getting into trouble and becoming part of the real life scene though he was simply just a part of the painting. The other farm animals follow suit as the blue paint runs across their pages turning them blue as well. The creativity of having the painting come to life, run ammuck and then become a painting again is so fun for curious children. The words and drawings flow together so beautifully and you want to reread the story as soon as you come to the end!

Thanks to Penguin for sending me this book to review and to Deborah Freedman for passing along my information to them. This was a fantastic children' book!

Mirror Ball- Matt Redman

Mirror Ball
Matt Redman

I learn best from analogies, especially information that needs to stick in my mind. That is exactly the technique that Matt Redman uses in his book Mirror Ball. He shows how we are a small, insignificant mirror ball, in of itself not all that flashy. With the light of God shining on us we can penetrate into many venues with our brightness. Apart from God we are nothing, with His light we are bright and shining.
Matt writes “When God Shines upon His church, we become a dazzling testimony to His awesome radiance”. We may think we are too small, but with God it is just a matter of the His light. Don’t underestimate God’s power to use us if we are willing to reflect His light.
Matt brings his love of worship and his giftedness of being a songwriter into his writing as well, often times referring to the Psalms and songs of praise to better explain his theme. I love how there is a list of songs in the index and many quotes from his works in the study guide at the end of the book.
Similar message that Christians have heard, but given from a perspective of a worship leader, songwriter, and disco ball reflecting the glorious light of God.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Lancaster County Christmas Giveaway!

It’s Christmas in September!



To celebrate the release of her first Christmas book, Suzanne Woods Fisher has teamed up with her publisher, Revell, to bring you the "Christmas in September" iPad Giveaway! The winner will be announced on 9/27 at the A Lancaster County Christmas Facebook Party! Details below. Tell your friends and join in the fun (9/7-9/27).





Oh and be sure to follow the blog tour here - many of the bloggers have copies of the book to giveaway! 







Suzanne and Revell will be presenting one merry winner with a Christmas Prize Pack (valued at over $600):



  • A Brand New iPad 2 with Wi-Fi
  • $25 gift certificate to iTunes
  • A copy of A Lancaster County Christmas


To enter, click one of the icons below. But, hurry the giveaway ends on 9/26.



But, wait! There's more! The winner will be announced at the A Lancaster County Christmas Facebook Party on 9/27 at Suzanne's author page. During the party she'll be revealing something *BIG* - you won't want to miss it. She'll also be hosting a book chat, trivia contest and giving away a few early Christmas presents! Hope to see you there.





Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

The Queen by Steven James

The Queen
Steven James
Published by Revell

A Patrick Bowers Thriller! Take an FBI agent, Secret Russian Spies, Computer Hackers, Government Officials, and Environmentalist and throw them all into a novel and you have a thriller of utmost proportions!

This book is the 5th in the series and it definitely was able to stand alone. The Queen also known as Valkyrie was an unknown person in the plot who was the mastermind behind the plan to take out many with a ballistic missile. There were many subplots in this book that all melded into one another. They were searching for a serial killer who had resurfaced. I should have heeded the warning that parts of this book were graphic and not for the faint at heart, but I managed to muddle through those parts to get the basis of the plot. Romantic interests of course had to be involved in the novel for all of us not so technically minded. Patrick and his current love, past love and his brother’s love all had their subplots. This book easily could have become many books with all the subplots and interests in it, but it worked well for just one book too. Maybe a bit overloaded with information, but I think there is a niche for it in the reader world. I may try one of the other novels by Steven James when I can sit quietly and concentrate on the book, rather than being interrupted.

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

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Deadly Pursuit- Irene Hannon

Deadly Pursuit
Irene Hannon

Social Worker Alison Taylor has protected children for years, putting perpetrators behind bars. Her over-protective brothers, both in law enforcement spend much of their time making sure Alison is safe and happy, including her dating life. Brother Cole hooks her up with a new co-worker Mitch under the guise of her helping him in a sticky situation. Who would have known that they would hit it off right away? And little did Mitch know he would be pulled into a case involving a stalker scaring Alison.

Threatening notes, dead flowers and bingo cards begin haunting Alison as her brothers and Mitch try to find out who is behind it. For once she doesn’t mind all their protection. Suspenseful and page turning I read the book in one evening, not being able to put it down! I was concerned that it was in a series and I hadn’t read the first one. Deadly Pursuit totally stood alone and it was not an issue at all to not have read the first one, though now it is on my “To Read” list. Irene Hannon is a new author to me, that I am excited to read more from!!

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

Friday, September 9, 2011

WINNER- The joy of Keeping Goats

Fantastic News!
Lorelei has won the book The Joy of Keeping Goats!
I have sent you a personal email and the publisher will get this out to you.
Thanks to all of you for joining in the giveaway!!
Melanie

Gabby God's Little Angel- Sheila Walsh

Gabby God’s Little Angel
Sheila Walsh
Illustrated by Marina Fedotova

Gabby is a clumsy little guardian angel in training. She is ready to get her first assignment, Sophie who is a little girl who needs lots of protection, one of the main jobs of a guardian angel. Fearless Sophie is off to ride a pony and Gabby is right there to talk to the pony to let him know how much God loves Sophie and wants the pony to ride safely. Out of sight, Gabby is right there to help when the pony gets scared and Sophie is nearly thrown off. Sophie realizes that night that God must have been protecting her, and Mom reminds her of the Bible and how God says he will have his angels watching over us.

Adorable, girlie book! The illustrations are just darling, and Gabby is an angel you would want to hug! I love how Sheila Walsh took the subject of guardian angels and made it feel like a reality for young ones. Though we can’t see them, God has angels all around us to protect us. Just the book little girls can read to learn more about angels and how God uses them to show his love for us.

I received a copy of this book from Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review