Monday, August 19, 2019

Homeschool Bravely Review


Quiet the voices of "not good enough" and step courageously into guilt-free homeschooling
Many homeschool parents have a long-term relationship with self-doubt. "Did I make the right decision?" "Could someone else do this better?" "Am I robbing my kids of something by not sending them to ‘regular school’?"
What if there’s a better way?
Not a 3-step technique or a shiny, new curriculum, but a change in perspective that transforms the way you plan, teach, and homeschool?
Homeschool Bravely teaches you to see homeschooling as a calling, helps you overthrow the tyranny of impossible expectations, and guides you through the common bumps in the road, including how to:
juggle school and parenting with toddlers at home
teach a struggling learner
plan with the end in mind
accept your own limitations without feeling guilty
stay the course even in the face of criticism
Reclaim your hope, renew your purpose, and transform your homeschool. Because the truth is: God will use every part of your homeschool, even your fears, faults, and failures, to weave good plans for your kids.

My thoughts: We had already made the decision to homeschool when I picked this book up, though I wanted to see what it was all about with a new school year starting. This book is geared more towards those who have just made the decision to homeschool and are still unsure about their choice, though I think that it has something for every homeschooling parent. I personally loved the ideas Jamie includes for entertaining toddlers while homeschooling, keeping the end goal in mind, and her tips for avoiding burnout. I also loved the reminder of why we choose to homeschool, so that we can encourage a love of learning. This book is excellent for all homeschooling parents or those looking into homeschooling!
I received this book from Moody. This is my honest review and is in no way influenced by receiving a complimentary copy.

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Sunday, August 18, 2019

The King's Shadow


Two women occupy a place in Herod's court. The first, Salome, is the king's only sister, a resentful woman who has been told she is from an inferior race, a people God will never accept or approve.

The second woman, Zara, is a lowly handmaid who serves Salome, but where Salome spies conspiracies and treachery, Zara sees hurting people in need of understanding and compassion.

Powerful and powerless, Idumean and Jew, selfish and selfless--both women struggle to reach their goals and survive in Herod the Great's tumultuous court, where no one is trustworthy and no one is safe.

My thoughts: I have learned so much from the previous books in this series about the time period between the Old and New Testaments! The King's Shadow was no different. I didn't know a whole lot about Herod's reign, outside of what it mentioned in the scriptures. Reading this book made me realize that I am glad to not be a part of the royal court back then, since it was fraught with politics, jealousies, suspicion, and death. Trying to keep ahead of the rumors and ruler's ire would of been a full time job!
I like that the story is told from two point of views, that of the historical figure and sister to Herod, Salome, and the fictional one of her handmaiden, Zara. This is an interesting story that will keep you reading late at night to see what becomes of the two women and their loved ones!
Even though there is a cloud of distrust and sinking feeling of what will happen that hangs over the story, I do appreciate the message at the end of it.
I received this book from Bethany House. This is my honest review and is in no way influenced by receiving a complimentary copy.

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Saturday, August 17, 2019

Vow of Justice Review


FBI Special Agent Lincoln St. John is living his own personal nightmare. When the woman he loves, Allison Radcliffe, is killed, he devotes his life to tracking down the killers and making them pay for their crimes. He expected it to be a challenge. What he never expected was to find Allison very much alive shortly after her "murder." As his anger and hurt mix with relief, Linc isn't sure how he's supposed to feel. One thing he does know for sure: he and Allison will have to work together to stop a killer before she dies a second time--this time for good.

Bestselling and award-winning author Lynette Eason closes out her Blue Justice series with a story that will have you tearing through the pages to get to the stunning conclusion.

My thoughts: I have loved this series since I read the first book! Vow of Justice concluded the series perfectly, though I was sad that it had to end.
I love the premise of this story, that of an agent thought dead to protect those she loves from a powerful mob member. This story has so much more going on to it that first appears, which I loved. I don't want to give away any spoilers, so suffice it to say that you need to pick this one, along with the rest of the series, up!
I received this book from Revell. This is my honest review and is in no way influenced by receiving a complimentary copy.

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Standing Together


A true story of hope and courage in the face of astonishing challenges

During his fourth deployment, US Marine Corps Sergeant Carlos Evans stepped on an IED--and the loss of both legs and his left hand was just the beginning of the struggle for his life.

For the next two years, he and his wife, Rosemarie, went through the rehabilitation process together. As a nurse and mother of two young children, Rosemarie was used to caring for people, but the task of taking care of her triple-amputee husband brought new challenges every day. In addition to his limb loss, Carlos faced PTSD and developed an addiction to painkillers. He was sure Rosemarie's life would be better without him--and that it might have been better if he hadn't survived at all.

But unlike the majority of marriages put under similar strain, Carlos and Rosemarie stayed together. With the help of family, friends, and--most importantly―a strong faith, they've built a solid marriage and discovered a ministry they never expected. By the hand of God, their story, which began in devastation, has turned into one that draws in and lifts up more people than either of them would ever have dreamed.

Not only will disabled veterans and their loved ones find help here, Carlos and Rosemarie's captivating journey also speaks to those who long for stronger marriages, care for loved ones with disabilities, or are facing a new normal in their own lives, small or large. It is a powerful resource for leaning on God in the midst of life's great difficulties--and for finding ways that, through faith, profound loss can bring incredible blessing.

My thoughts: This is such a powerful read! I appreciated it on multiple fronts, both from the standpoint of his being a veteran, since my parents are both veterans and a lot of my family works with veterans, but also how Carlos and Rosemarie share about their marriage and how their experiences have molded them into the couple they are today. This is a well written book that is easy to read. I appreciate Carlos and Rosemarie for their honesty with what they share, since their message is one that needs to be heard. I highly recommend this book!
I received this book through Reading with Audra. This is my honest review and is in no way influenced by receiving a complimentary copy.

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Daughters of Northern Shores Review!


Aven Norgaard understands courage. Orphaned within an Irish workhouse, then widowed at just nineteen, she voyaged to America where she was wooed and wed by Thor Norgaard, a Deaf man in rural Appalachia. That the Lord saw her along the winding journey and that Aven now carries Thor’s child are blessings beyond measure. Yet while Thor holds her heart, it is his younger brother and rival who haunts her memories. Haakon—whose selfish choices shattered her trust in him.
Having fled the Norgaard orchard after trying to take Aven as his own, Haakon sails on the North Atlantic ice trade, where his soul is plagued with regrets that distance cannot heal. Not even the beautiful Norwegian woman he’s pursued can ease the torment. When the winds bear him home after four years away, Haakon finds the family on the brink of tragedy. A decades-old feud with the neighboring farm has wrenched them into the fiercest confrontation on Blackbird Mountain since the Civil War. Haakon’s cunning and strength hold the power to seal many fates, including Thor’s—which is already imperiled due to a grave illness brought to him at the first prick of warfare.
Now Haakon faces the hardest choice of his life. One that shapes a battlefield where pride must be broken enough to be restored, and where a prodigal son may finally know the healing peace of surrender and the boundless gift of forgiveness. And when it comes to the woman he left behind in Norway, he just might discover that while his heart belongs to a daughter of the north, she’s been awaiting him on shores more distant than the land he’s fighting for.

My thoughts: The first book left off with a bit of a cliff hanger, since Haakon runs from the mess he has made and goes out on his own. It was hard to wait for the sequel and the chance to find out what happened to Haakon and his family afterwards! Both books are raw and unlike any other I have ever read, since they are full of surprises. I really loved the message of Daughters of Northern Shores, that of forgiveness. I think that it is a message that, if we are honest with ourselves, touches all of us. This is an excellent series to pick up! I look forward to reading what Joanne writes next!
I received this book from Celebrate Lit. This is my honest review and is in no way influenced by receiving a complimentary copy.

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About the Author:
Joanne Bischof is an ACFW Carol Award and ECPA Christy Award-winning author. She writes deeply layered fiction that tugs at the heartstrings. She was honored to receive the San Diego Christian Writers Guild Novel of the Year Award in 2014 and in 2015 was named Author of the Year by the Mount Hermon conference. Joanne’s 2016 novel, The Lady and the Lionheart, received an extraordinary 5 Star TOP PICK! from RT Book Reviews, among other critical acclaim. She lives in the mountains of Southern California with her three children. Visit her online at JoanneBischof.com; Facebook: Author, JoanneBischof; Instagram: @JoanneBischof.

More from Joanne
One of the questions I receive most often is “How do you get it all done?” As a single, homeschooling mom, I’ve long-since learned that there would be easier ways to have a day job than being an author, but God has been gracious in providing abundantly in so many areas. Here are four that I am most thankful for as I look back over the last few years, including this season of writing Sons of Blackbird Mountain and Daughters of Northern Shores.

Togetherness
Now, most authors would agree that “togetherness” isn’t exactly conducive to quality writing time – especially when kids are involved! And while I do need quiet focus to be able to work through a scene or chapter, what I’ve been thankful for is the chance to share story and research discoveries with my children. It’s created more unity around the stories. Instead of needing to usher the kids away, isolating them from the novels I’m writing, I’m able to invite them into them. For the Blackbird Mountain series, I walked them through the Pinterest boards, showing them the different characters. Then we did a history unit on Vikings since that’s the Norgaard Family’s background. We had a blast and it helped make “the story that Mom was working on”, something that they were more aware of and interested in. For my current work-in-progress, we just recently finished an all new history unit including visits to a few local museums and stories that the kids wrote on their own!

Patience
I used to want to write, write, write all the time. And often, that’s what I did! Well, I still would love to write as often as I can, but God has been teaching me something oh-so-important: patience. As part of this, I set aside certain parts of the week for writing office hours. These slots of writing time typically occur on Tuesday evenings, and include a few additional 1 ½ hours slots during the week, once homeschooling is done. In this manner, I am able to carve out some quiet writing time while still making sure the kids are having a great and productive day. But for any writer or working mom, we can agree . . . that’s not a lot of time when added up! In God’s wonderful provision, though, He seems to extend much richness to those little snatches of time. They might not be many, but they are mighty! It’s been a prayer of mine for several years now, that by keeping my writing below these other priorities, that God would help me fill in the cracks of time and energy—and He has been so faithful to supply. I still have my moments when I feel frazzled, especially when deadlines are near, and that’s why I am thankful for this next lesson that God has been teaching me . . .

Communication
The thing about living with a writer, is that you often find them staring at a computer screen. That doesn’t look all that productive, does it? But what we’re doing on the other side of that screen is weaving a story-world of plot, characters, purpose, and heart. Typing words onto the page that we hope will touch lives, digging through old articles for research, or jotting down messy plotting notes that we pray will somehow amount to a story one day. By communicating with my kids (like sharing with them about the story and characters) I’m able to help them see what I’m doing and why. And since kids can be rambunctious and full of life (and questions, and needs for snacking, and ideas, and messes . . . *wink*) and since this writer works well with quiet, I have a little chalkboard that I hang on my doorknob when it’s one of my “office hour” slots. I jot down my start time and end time for that 1 ½ hour block, add a heart or smiley face, and often make note of what our next task will be like preparing a meal or doing an activity together. Then I shut my door and the little sign dangling from the knob outside helps the kids remember what I’m up to. It reminds them that I won’t be tucked away for long, but that I do need to focus for a little while. They’re always allowed to come knocking if a need arises, but for the most part, they’re happy on these afternoons with their own projects. When the hour or so is up, we reconvene and go back about our day, usually slipping into something fun that we do together. By having these slots of time in the week, and by communicating carefully with them in a way they can understand, it helps to bring us all what we need.

Grace
There are days when I blow it, and days when I need a lot of grace. Maybe I’ve spilled iced tea on one of the research books (don’t worry, this is a hypothetical example ) or maybe I didn’t save a scene properly, or just feel stuck and exhausted with a plot thread. These days can certainly tamper with the harmony, which begins with my heart and the need to remember the reason for why I write these stories: for God’s glory. When I begin to lose my calm, or grow frustrated or weary with the challenges afoot, I know it’s time to circle back to what it’s all for. It’s for the readers, it’s for my children, it’s for my joy, and most of all, it’s for God’s glory. By me being harried or stressed, very little of this is being accomplished! God has used the writing process to speak to my heart in ways that have reminded me of what I can surrender, and more and more of the ways that I can look to HIM for guidance. The lessons aren’t always easy, but through each season, and through each book, I have come to see more and more all the ways to be thankful.

For a complete list of blog stops, go here!

Friday, August 16, 2019

Wally's Misadventure Review!


Wally had been cooped up all winter and was ready for a great adventure! His chores came first, then after his father reminded him of the rules, Wally was off. The first rule was to never go exploring alone, but when none of Wally's friends could go, he was determined to go anyway. Look inside to find out what Wally faces on his adventure!

My thoughts: Little ones will be able to relate to Wally as he sets out on an adventure after being cooped up for the winter. Despite being told not to venture off alone, when his friends are all to busy for him, Wally does just that. I like that this picture book has an important lesson in it, that of rules being in place for a reason. I felt like the illustrations could of been better, having more depth and detail to them. That said, I think that children will enjoy the bright colors of the forest.
I received a copy of this book from Just Read Tours. This is my honest review and is in no way influenced by receiving a complimentary copy.

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The Story Raider Review and Giveaway!


Deceiving an empire is a treacherous game.
Tanwen and the Corsyth weavers race to collect the strands of an ancient cure that might save Gryfelle. But Tanwen has a secret: Gryfelle isn’t the only one afflicted by the weaver's curse.
As Queen Braith struggles to assert her rule, a new arrival throws her tenuous claim to the Tirian throne into question. Braith’s heart is turned upside down, and she’s not sure she can trust anyone—least of all herself.
The puppet master behind Gareth’s rise to power has designs on the story weavers and will stop at nothing to reclaim the throne. A plot to incite the angry peasants of Tir takes shape, and those dearest to Tanwen will be caught in the crossfire. As the fight for Tir consumes the realm, no one can remain innocent.

My thoughts: Where to start with this one? I really enjoyed the first book in the series, so I was thrilled to have the chance to read The Story Raider so quickly! The only downside to that? Now it will feel like I have to wait even longer until the third book comes out!
I enjoyed the direction the series took with this story. For the most part, it goes back and forth between Braith and Tanwen, as the two young women fight the enemy from different fronts. I love the quest that some of the characters go on to find the cure for Gryfelle, since it brings to life the world that this story is set in. I highly recommend picking this series up, since it will keep you on your toes!
I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. This is my honest review and is in no way influenced by receiving a complimentary copy.

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About the Author:
Lindsay A. Franklin is a best-selling author, freelance editor, and homeschooling mom of three. She would wear pajama pants all the time if it were socially acceptable. Lindsay lives in her native San Diego with her scruffy-looking nerf-herder husband, their precious geeklings, three demanding thunder pillows (a.k.a. cats), and a stuffed wombat with his own Instagram following. You can find Lindsay on social media, too, if Wombatman hasn’t hijacked all her accounts. She’s @LinzyAFranklin on Instagram and Twitter, and she Facebooks at www.facebook.com/LindsayAFranklin.

More from Lindsay
I often get asked how I came up with the idea for The Story Peddler, book 1 in The Weaver Trilogy. It’s a dangerous thing to dig too deep into a fantasy novelist’s imagination (it’s pretty weird in here, you guys), but the short answer is I was sitting in a workshop at a writers’ conference, and an acquisitions editor made a comment—something like: “I have to peddle your stories to executives. At the end of the day, I’m just a story peddler.” When I heard that phrase, my imagination exploded. I thought of what a “story peddler” might look like if we added a little wonder and a sprinkling of fairy dust to the equation. Then Tanwen emerged as a character who might be a fun vehicle for this story-peddling process, and I imagined a story that would suit her. The Story Peddler was born.

But someone recently asked me why I visualized the supernatural art of storytelling in the way I did—as strands of color, light, fabric, or glitter coming out of the hands of the person telling the story, then crystallizing into a solid object for her to sell. And I have no real answer for that, except, again, “It’s pretty weird in here, you guys.” The Weaver Trilogy is a celebration of creativity and art, and that gave me reason to think about what other types of strand-weavers in this story world might look like.

If you’re new to the series, here’s a primer on the weavers you’ll find in these books.

Storytellers: Strands pour from their hands as they tell stories. When they reach the moral or ending of the story, the strands come together to form a crystallized sculpture. A story peddler then sells the sculptures to make her living.
Songspinners: Strands are lighter, airier, and come from their mouths instead of their hands as they sing. Songspinner strands are emotive and speak to the hearts of the hearers. Once the song is over, the strands disappear.
Colormasters: Strands are like streams of paint, ribbons of fire, or jets of water. When they hit a solid object, they create an image on the object. Colormasters seek to reflect the beauty of their surroundings, capturing the physical world exactly as it is or simply as it feels.
Stoneshapers: Their hands light up as they manipulate rock and stone with their fingertips. They create beauty by molding something that already exists and releasing the art trapped inside.

If that sounds like fun, welcome to my weirdness! Tanwen can’t wait to weave a sparkling adventure for you.

For a complete list of blog stops, go here!

Giveaway!
To celebrate her tour, Lindsay is giving away a grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card, The Corsyth custom Story Peddler candle from Novelly Yours, The Cethorelle custom Story Raider candle from Novelly Yours, choice of two tea tins from the Adagio Story Peddler Tea Shoppe, “Hedgenibblers, fluffhoppers, mountainbeasts, oh my!” mug
Story Peddler book sleeve, Story Raider enamel pin, and assorted bookmarks, stickers, and art prints.
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link here to enter.