Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Eraser art

My daughter, cousins, aunt, and I took on a fun project today: decorating small book bags with sparkly fabric paint and the eraser end of a (new) pencil! (You're  welcome, dad, for adding  paint to your new pencils! Thankfully, it comes off fairly easy once the paint dried)
What you need:
*Canvas bag
*New pencil
*Fabric paint
*Shapes cut out of card stock
We went with a Valentine theme, with coral color paint and hearts, but the sky is the limit! You can stick with one color of paint  or use a rainbow of colors. Something that might be fun would be varying shades of the same color.
Between Hobby Lobby and Walmart, it wound up being around $2.50 a bag, though that includes the cost of the paint, which can be used for other projects.
So, we started with a clean surface and cut out some hearts.

Then, we put some paint in a paper plate and went to work!

Each of us had a blast working on different designs! Once one side was done, we set them aside to dry for about an hour, before setting to work on the second side.

The fun thing about this project is that you can switch it up and apply the paint to other things, like t-shirts, sweatshirts, aprons, etc. It would also be a great school or VBS project!
I would love to know what others come up with!
Happy crafting.:)

Monday, December 29, 2014

Fight back with Joy

Joy is stamped on coffee mugs, sewn onto decorative pillows, even displayed on dish soap. But what if there s a deeper power and purpose to this mighty virtue?

Through vulnerable storytelling, a difficult diagnosis, and a good dose of humor, Margaret Feinberg reveals how joy is more than whimsy. It s the weapon you can use to fight life's battles.Fight Back with Joy will help you:

Expand your joy threshold by awakening to God's fierce love for you. Escape fear and regret by applying biblical strategies to whatever crisis you re facing. Overcome depression as you reignite your imagination for laughter and celebration. Discover freedom from the past by learning how to turn mourning into joy. Rise above endless demands and become more winsome, cheerful, and thankful

No matter what your circumstances, you can practice defiant joy. When you do, you will embrace a life that s richer and fuller than you ve ever known before—a life radiant with joy.

My thoughts: The title of  this  book  grabbed my attention, since being joyful through whatever life throws at one has been on my mind a lot lately. This book was just what I  needed! With her winsome way of writing, Margaret Feinberg presents readers with the challenge of leading a life filled with joy. As she weaves in her own story of battling  cancer, she encouraes readers through personal stories and scripture to embrace a life that is full and rich, one that is filled with joy.
One of my favorite parts of the book, things to say to those dealing with hard situations,  can be found here 

In no way is this just a book for those struggling with cancer. It's a great book for anyone seeking to be joyful through life and trials.
I received a copy of this book from First Look in exchange  for my honest review.

The Unexpected Bride

What's a man to do when his father orders him a bride?

Rebecca Sullivan has been "Becky" all her life, a real hoyden. Her childhood sweetheart taught her to ride bareback and shoot a rifle, but then he chose a "perfect lady" for a wife--a real Southern belle, who's now expecting a baby. Heartbroken, Becky signs up to be a mail-order bride to a Seattle man, sight unseen. She resolves to squelch her hoydenish ways and become a "perfect lady" for her future husband.

If logging-operation owner Isaac Jessup had wanted a bride, he'd have chosen a sturdy frontier woman, not some fragile lady from back East. Ready to explain the mistake, honorable Isaac takes one look into Rebecca's vulnerable eyes...and knows he'll marry her, even though this delicate waif is obviously unsuited for wild Seattle.

Could an unexpected marriage be a match made in heaven?

My thoughts: This story is such a sweet one! I find myself enjoying historical romances that have to do with mail order brides or marriages of convenience (Love Comes Softly, anyone? The books, that is). This story is a sweet tale of one young lady who decides that she needs to be a lady and heads to Seattle as a mail order bride after the Civil War. But, is there a place on the frontier for a perfect lady? Or is she more suited to life on the mountain than she realized?
Drawn loosely from the story of Isaac and Rebecca in the Bible, this is a delightful tale of adventure and love!
I received a copy of this in exchange for my review. That said, I found the author's style to be delightful and will be checking into more of her stories. Lena Goldfinch has some fun looking young adult stories on Amazon

Mist of Midnight

In the first of a brand-new series set in Victorian England, a young woman returns home from India after the death of her family to discover her identity and inheritance are challenged by the man who holds her future in his hands.

Rebecca Ravenshaw, daughter of missionaries, spent most of her life in India. Following the death of her family in the Indian Mutiny, Rebecca returns to claim her family estate in Hampshire, England. Upon her return, people are surprised to see her...and highly suspicious. Less than a year earlier, an imposter had arrived with an Indian servant and assumed not only Rebecca's name, but her home and incomes.

That pretender died within months of her arrival; the servant fled to London as the young woman was hastily buried at midnight. The locals believe that perhaps she, Rebecca, is the real imposter. Her home and her father's investments reverted to a distant relative, the darkly charming Captain Luke Whitfield, who quickly took over. Against her best intentions, Rebecca begins to fall in love with Luke, but she is forced to question his motives—does he love her or does he just want Headbourne House? If Luke is simply after the property, as everyone suspects, will she suffer a similar fate as the first “Rebecca”?

A captivating Gothic love story set against a backdrop of intrigue and danger, Mist of Midnight will leave you breathless.

My thoughts: I loved this story! It is a hard one to put down, with all it's twists and turns. I thought it was interesting to "journey" with Rebecca, as she not only tries to unravel the mystery of the other Rebecca who sought to steal her inheritance, but as she tried to fit into to English society after living in India most of her life. The characters come to life on the pages, and I loved how the story played out! This is quite the Gothic style novel.:) I found myself unable to decide if I liked or hated the hero.;) Two thumbs up!
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

A Brush with Love

Ginger Winters is a gifted hairstylist with scars no one can see. The last thing she expects from the New Year is a new chance at love.

Overcoming a childhood tragedy, Ginger emerges from the pain and trauma with a gift for bringing out the beauty in others. From the top big city salons to traveling the world as personal stylist to a country music sensation, success was almost enough to make Ginger forget her she would never be one of the beautiful people.

Almost. Now that she’s back home in Rosebud, Alabama and running her own salon, the truth remains: Ginger is still that girl, forever on the outside looking in. But she needs her confidence this weekend. She’s the acclaimed “beauty-maker” for the Alabama society wedding of the decade.

When high-school crush Tom Wells Jr. also returns to town and shows up at her shop looking for a haircut, Ginger’s thinly veiled insecurities threaten to keep her locked away from love, Despite Tom’s best efforts, Ginger can’t forget how he disappeared on her twelve years ago and broke her heart. Can she ever trust him again?

When Tom challenges her to see her own beauty, Ginger must decide if she will remained chained to the past or move freely into a new, exciting future.

My thoughts : I'm  not always a huge fan of novellas, since it seems  like x a  lot of time anyway, there is not enough time to develop the characters and the story  line. And yet , they appeal to me. I am glad that I picked this one up though! Ginger  and her story pulled me in from the get go! When her high school  crush rides into town, she is forced to face her past and the visible scars it left on her. This is a beautiful story of redemption and forgiveness! I  highly  recommend  it.
I received a copy of this book from Lit fuse in exchange  for my honest review.

Be sure to check out the giveaway that is to the right of this post!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Masterpiece Marriage

He wants to save his business. She wants to be a professor. But are they asking for more than they can really have?

After a flood damages the looms at Zenus Dane's Philadelphia textile mill and the bank demands loan payment, Zenus turns to his aunt for help repurposing his textiles. Trouble is . . . his aunt has already been hired by the lovely yet secretive Englishwoman Mary Varrs.
Eager to acquire his aunt's quilt patterns, Zenus attends the summer Quilting Bee, a social event his aunt has uniquely designed with the secret purpose of finding Zenus a wife. However Zenus only has eyes for Mary, but Mary has no such desire for him.

Though his aunt is determined to design a masterpiece marriage, both Zenus and Mary will have to overcome their stubborn ways. Can he realize that love requires stepping out of his routine? And will she recognize that following her heart doesn't mean sacrificing her ambition?

My thoughts: I wasn't sure how I would like the main characters, since they came across as a bit stuffy at first. As the story goes on, the authors did a wonderful job at developing the characters into individuals that were easy to like. The reader begins to realize why Zenus is stodgy and stuck in his ways and Mary is bent on proving herself. When the two come together, their best laid plans begin to go awry as they get to know one another and discover that God's plan for them may be different than the one they assumed.
This story is a fun, rich tale that brought to life the old quilting bees and scrap quilts.
I received a copy of this book from Lit Fuse in exchange for my honest review.

About the author: Gina Welborn is the author of several novels and novellas, including The Heiress's Courtship. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers; the president of Faith, Hope and Love; and a founding member of InkwellInspirations.com. She lives in Cache, Oklahoma, with her pastor husband and their five children. Visit her online at GinaWelborn.com.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Cover Reveal and Giveaway!

Join Becky and Isaac from The Unexpected Bride in a romantic short story complete with sleigh bells, mistletoe, and sweet holiday surprises.

It’s Christmas Eve, and smoke isn’t just rising from the chimney—it’s pouring from the stove due to yet another batch of burnt biscuits. Becky wants everything to be perfect for her family, but a ruined meal spells disaster for all her high hopes. Will the night end in despair…or with a happy Christmas dream?

Reconnect with your favorite characters from Book 1 of “The Brides” series and learn more about Jem (the hero of Book 2) in Sleigh Bells and Mistletoe. Includes an excerpt from Book 2, The Bartered Bride.

Short Story 1.5 in The Brides Series
Sweet Historical Western Romance / A Mail-Order Bride Short Story
The Kindle edition is available on Amazon for just .99!

James (“Jem”) Wheeler just wants to get back to the ranch in Colorado and make a fresh start after the loss of his wife. But when his train stops at a town in the middle of nowhere, his 2-year-old daughter runs off—straight to a mute young woman and a puppy. Before he has a chance to reclaim little Mae, he overhears an itinerant preacher preparing to sell off the woman to the highest bidder. It’s an injustice he can’t ignore, no matter the fact that he’d never planned on remarrying.

From a young age, all Annie has wanted is to belong. Abandoned and cast aside by those who should have loved her, and with no voice to protest against the wrongdoings she’s witnessed, her hope is but a faint flicker. When Jem steps into her life, she simply tries to get him to save the puppy—never expecting him to save her too.

Could a bartered bride and a grieving widower ever make a happy home together?

For a chance to take part in the giveaway, go to the author's site!

LENA GOLDFINCH writes romance and fantasy for adults and teens. She’s a sucker for a good old-fashioned romance, whether it’s a novel, novella, or short story, young adult or adult, fantasy or realistic, contemporary or historical. Elements of romance, fantasy, and mystery have a way of creeping into her writing, even when she’s writing historicals or something light and contemporary. Lena has been a finalist in several national writing contests, including the RWA Golden Heart and ACFW Genesis contests. She lives in a scenic small town in Massachusetts with her husband, two kids, and a very spoiled Black Lab. Visit Lena at www.LenaGoldfinch.blogspot.com.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Pierced by Love

Noelle Jensen doesn’t want to like Pierce Logan. After her boyfriend breaks up with her for her sister, Noelle is done with love. Plus Pierce Logan has commitment issues because of his parents’ divorce and a strained relationship with his dad. But as Pierce and Noelle inadvertently help each other to open up their hearts, they also rediscover the importance of family and love.
My thoughts: I had a hard time getting into the story, since I didn't care for the way Noelle was treated by her sister and boyfriend. I can see why her parents had concerns about he boyfriend being a good match for either daughter after being so fickle!
I did like that this book tackles some difficult topics. And, I fell in love with Noelle and Pierce! They are a fun couple.
This is an LDS story, which I don't have a problem with, I just thought I would mention it, since some things are a bit different.
All in all, I liked this story and give it a 4 out of 5!
I received a copy of this book from Cedar Fort in exchange for my honest review.

Top Ten books I wouldn't mind for Christmas

1. Thornewicke by Charity Bishop
This one just fascinates me. And, I love the cover!

2. Annabeth's War by Jessica Greyson

3. Glitch by Amber Gilchrist
This one just looks like a cute story!

4. The Giftsnatcher by Charity Bishop
Another one that looks intriguing!

5. Jewel of the Thames by Angela Misri

6. Two Renegade Realms by Donita K. Paul

7. A Modern Day Persuasion

8. The Hesitant Heiress

9. What is Hidden

10. The Runaway Princess

Saturday, December 20, 2014

I Know My Savior Lives

Put the fun back in your family home evenings! With this exciting new resource, you ll never spend more than a few minutes preparing a meaningful night for your family to enjoy. This book and accompanying resource CD provide a year s worth of lessons and activities to reinforce the gospel principles your children are learning at Church. Each lesson includes a thought that draws directly from the scriptures; discussion questions; a list of songs, hymns, pictures, and scriptures that fit each topic; activities tailored for both younger and older children; and a weekly challenge and reminder card. There s even a recipe section with yummy treats the whole family can make together. Stop dreading Monday nights, and start spending more quality time together as you all draw nearer to the Savior.
My thoughts: This a great book for family nights, but I also think that a lot of the ideas would be fun to apply to Sunday School and Vacation Bible School. I think that this book is a wonderful resource for breathing some new life into lessons as a family. Sometimes, it is just nice to have some help when teaching and re-enforcing what kids have already learned. I love that this book comes with printables and songs!
I received this book from Cedar Fort in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, December 19, 2014

DIY Type

Dana Tanamachi, the Brooklyn-based typographer whose exquisite hand-lettered murals fueled a chalk-writing trend, offers a book of alphabet stencils for all-purpose craft projects.

Inspired by the contemporary aesthetic of rendering type by hand, celebrated designer Dana Tanamachi shares a full set of upper and lower case alphabet stencils to create wall compositions, monogram t-shirts and jackets, personalize journals and school supplies, embroider pillows, and host parties filled with customized cakes and banners. With beautiful photographs and simple tutorials, you’ll find endless ways to decorate with type and joy in discovering the happy imperfections unique to your own application.

My thoughts: I was curious to see this book and the different ideas for stenciling. I love it! Lately, I have gotten into making banners for our house (right now, I have a Merry Christmas one up above the dining room table), so I love the idea of using the stencils in this book for making banners. There are two sets of alphabets, so the sky is the limit! There are ideas on different ways to fill the letters in and a myriad of projects to make. I love the idea of making monogrammed note cards or painting a child's name on a wall in their room. Like I said, so many fun ways to use this book! I shall enjoy it for years to come.
I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Compassion without Compromise

Loving, Biblical Answers on Homosexuality

In the next year at least one of these things will happen in your life:
• A family member will come out of the closet and expect you to be okay with it.
• Your elementary-age child's curriculum will discuss LGBT families.
• Your company will talk about building a tolerant workplace for LGBT co-workers.
• Your college-age child will tell you your view on homosexuality is bigoted.

Are you ready?

In their role as pastors, Adam Barr and Ron Citlau have seen how this issue can tear apart families, friendships, and even churches. In this book they combine biblical answers with practical, real-world advice on how to think about and discuss this issue with those you care about. They also tell the story of Ron's personal journey from same-sex attraction and sexual brokenness to healing.

Truth does not preclude kindness--and a good dose of humility is necessary to love our neighbors. With sensitivity and winsomeness, this book will offer an honest but inviting message to readers: We are all in need of the healing that can only come from the truth of the gospel.

Visit CompassionWithoutCompromise.com for more information.

My thoughts: I've been in my fair share of debates on the topic of what God has to say about homosexuality. So, my interest was piqued by this book! I think that it is a wonderful guide to help Christians prepare with answers to questions that may come up when tough questions come from those you love.
Backed with scripture, personal experiences, and insight, I think that this is a fabulous book for those looking to show God's love. I thought the authors have a lot of good points and appreciate that they have been open and honest in this book to help others.
I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Always on My Mind by Susan May Warren

In the 4th book about the Christiansen clan, Casper Christiansen returns home to Deep Haven after a failed dig in Honduras. Thinking he can fix the problems and relationships he ran away from 6 months before.
But, when he returns home, things are quite a bit different from when he left. As he struggles to settle into a normal routine and just be a friend to Raina, Casper learns some important life lessons.
My thoughts: I've enjoyed the previous books in this series, so when this one came up to review, I figured I would try it. I wasn't sure that I would enjoy it as much as the others, due to some of the weird twists. I have to say, the author handled the story remarkably. I fell in love with the characters and found myself rooting for them! I love the spiritual themes in this story. It's a wonderful addition to the series, and I highly recommend it!
I received this book from Tyndale in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Top Ten 2014 Reads

1. The Story Keeper
I stayed up late to read this one!

2. The Princess in the Opal Mask
I had a hard time putting this one down too! It is excellent.

3. One Realm Beyond
I have enjoyed all of her books thus far, but this one is the best yet! I have the sequel coming through the mail here soon. *sque*

4. The Secret of Pembrooke Park
I love a good Regency novel.:)

5.With Every Breath
The historical details in this story are incredible!

6. Unforeseeable
I mentioned before that Amish/Mennonite fiction is kind of a fun combination. This is the best series in that genre! I love the moral dilemmas that she weaves into her stories!

7. A Broken Kind of Beautiful
I LOVED this book!

8. Hidden in the Stars
I thought that this was a clever little mystery that surrounded one of the Quilts of Love.

9. Gathering Shadows
I am looking forward for the rest of the series to come out!

10. Rebels
Though, the whole series is a must!

Beyond Basics with Natural Yeast

With allergies to commercial yeast on the rise, natural yeast is the easy and healthy solution to baking all the foods you love. Brush up on your techniques with Melissa Richardson's newest book, Beyond Basics with Natural Yeast, with mouthwatering recipes like Soft Pretzel Rolls, Honey Whole Wheat Bread, and Lemon Chiffon Cake. Say goodbye to commercial yeast, and hello to a healthier body!

My thoughts: I love to make bread and bake, but I haven't done a whole lot of baking with natural yeast. So, when I saw this cookbook, I thought it would be fun to give it a go!
While I love making bread, my family seems to go through seasons where we don't eat a whole lot of it, which is probably why I haven't tried to get a natural yeast started going, with it being a bit of a commitment. After receiving this book though, I think it will be fun to get a starter going and begin making breads, cakes, crackers, and breakfast foods. I love that this book has a variety! And, it does a wonderful job of breaking things down, so one understands the science behind natural yeast. The photos are eye catching and helpful, the recipes diverse, and the topic fun. I highly recommend this cookbook!
I received a copy of this book from Cedar Fort in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

God Gave Us Angels

What do angels do? What do they look like? Why are they here? Follow Little Cub and Papa Bear as they wander their arctic neighborhood and discuss all the questions youngsters have about angels. A delightfully illustrated book that's perfect for teaching your 3- to 7-year-olds about heavenly beings.
My thoughts: When I saw this book, I figured that it would be a fun one to review, since I am in the need for new material to read to my young daughter. She has only just recently reached the age where she is beginning to enjoy her books. There already seems to be some favorites! So, as a result of reading a few of her board books a lot, I figured it would be fun to add a new book to the mix.
This little book is adorable! I love how the Papa talks to Little Cub about angels. True to the nature of a young child, Little Cub has a lot of questions about angels, and those questions are answered in an easy way that young children will be able to learn from. I look forward to reading more of the books in this series to my daughter!
I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Top ten New (to me) authors this year

1. Jenny Lundquist
She is one of my current favorite! It was nice to discover her after the conclusion to her "Princess in the Opal Mask" came out, so then I could read the books back to back.;) If you haven't read them, then I would recommend picking a copy of the first one up, since it is wonderful!

2. Lynn Gentry
I quite enjoyed the first Carthage Chronicles, and look forward to reading the next one!

3. Sarah E. Ladd
I actually finished one of her books this year, "A Lady at Willowgrove Hall" and loved it! I may need to go back and try to read her other books now.;)

4. Carrie Turansky
Her books are gorgeous stories about the Edwardian period!

5. April Erwin
A semi local author who writes some fun fiction that I enjoyed for the first time this year! I can't wait for her to write some more stories. :)

6. Sarah Beard
I adored this book!!!

7. Melanie Dobson
My sister has been telling me to pick up this author's books for some time now. I'm glad I finally did, since this is such a neat story. I just have to wait for a sequel...

8. Kristy Cambron
Love, love, love! Another one that has a delightful looking sequel to wait for.;)

9. Hillary Manton Lodge
Out of the characters I "met" this year through my books, I feel like Juliette is one of the ones I really "got". I understand being in the food industry and trying to figure out where you fit in. I am looking forward to the next book in the series and discovering the secrets around her grandmother!

10. Vannetta Chapman
In my opinion, Amish fiction is hit and miss, not to mention a bit overdone. But, Amish mysteries? Those can be fun!;) I enjoyed the first book and look forward to finally reading the second one (which has been on my kindle for a while... Life needs to slow down! lol).
So, there is my list for the week! If you are interested in joining in on the fun, be sure to check out the list of upcoming topics at Broke and Bookish!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Top Ten books released in 2015 that have me ready for the new year

Top ten 2015 releases that I am the most excited about

1.Realm Walkers by Donita K. Paul
So, I haven't read the second one yet (since it is coming out soon), but I am already looking forward to the third one! The first book was just THAT good.;)

2. An Uncertain Choice by Jody Hedlund
What? How did I miss that this one is coming out? I enjoy her historical novels, since she does an amazing bringing stories to life. This book looks to be quite different from her norm, so I look forward to reading it!

3.Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George
I just finished the last of the Dancing Princess books, so I am ready for a new book from this author!

4. Illusionarium by Heather Dixon
I know I have mentioned this one before too. It's because I CAN'T WAIT! :)

5. Valiant by Sarah McGuire
This one just looks like a fun debut.

6. The Storyspinner by Becky Wallace
I'm going for a lot of new authors in this list.;)

7.Lady, Maybe by Julie Klassen
Her books seem to be getting better and better, so I always seek out her new titles.:)

8.The Woods Edge by Lori Benton
I have enjoyed her first two novels set in early American history. This one looks marvelous too!

9. A Sparrow in Terezin by Kristy Cambron

10.Like a Flower in Bloom by Siri Mitchell