Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Making Marriage Beautiful

What makes a marriage beautiful? Honesty? Compatibility? Physical and emotional intimacy? All of these are important, but there’s one component that determines the quality and longevity of a marriage more than anything else: a willingness to grow.

Because a wedding joins together two imperfect people, all couples experience disappointment, conflict, and pain. How husbands and wives respond to these challenges determines the kind of people they will become and the kind of marriage they will have.

Making Marriage Beautiful reveals how the pursuit of Christ results in profound transformation for both the individual and the marriage. Rather than offering clich├ęs and formulas, Greco relies on candor, humor, and real life stories to bring encouragement and wisdom to all couples, regardless of whether they have been married four weeks or forty years.

My thoughts: I have read a fair number of books on marriage over the years (especially during pre-marital counseling!), but this one wound up being refreshingly different. I really appreciated how Dorothy and Christopher Greco open up about their marriage to help others. I had to laugh at their example of how differences come out in the early days, sometimes even just the little things like how our families have entertained.;) In our marriage, it was how different our families approach holiday meals.:)
This is a wonderful book for couples in all walks of life! There are things in it to help new couples to avoid pitfalls and there is plenty to help seasoned couples to examine ruts, addictions, and the need for forgiveness.
I received this book from Litfuse in exchange for my honest review.

Talking With God

Life is crazy. Prayer is simple.
Prayer seems like it should be so simple. Yet, when it comes to actually praying, often it feels awkward and complicated.
I mean ... what should you actually pray about? What do you say?
Is there anything you should or shouldn t say? Do you have to speak out loud? Where do you even start?
To make matters worse, we ve heard about prayer for so longthatwefeel awkward asking about it. It s like having to ask a person s name after knowing them for years. Becausewereallyshould know their name by now, we feel embarrassed toask.
Then comes the reality and craziness of life. Between work, changing diapers, walking the dog, a full inbox, trying to keep up with our neighbors and the laundry, who has time to pray?
The truth is, prayer is simple.
It s like talking. Talking with a good friend. And what we may not know is the best part: no matter where we are in life, God can t wait to talk with us.
What does it look like to pray in the midst of your life?
What do you say when you don t know how to pray?
I m asking the same questions.
Let s talk."

My thoughts: It seems like my focus for this year in my non fiction reading has been prayer, since the women's group I am in at church is doing the Draw the Circle devotional that is 40 days of prayer (which, is a wonderful devotional and a great way to start the new year, but I digress!). This is an excellent book to accompany the others that I have been reading. I appreciate how easy this one is to get through and that Adam is so very open about the questions he has had and the storms his faith has weathered. This book is engaging and excellent!
I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Take Ten: favorite picture books

As I have mentioned before, we read a ton at my house, which includes bringing home a huge stack of pictures books from the library every opportunity we can (my husband tells me that I probably get on the librarians nerves for checking out so many at time. I know the truth though. They love me, since they see job security when I walk in the door. lol). I will attempt to keep my list at our top ten favorite picture books.;)

1. 123 Vs. ABC

I adore this one! It's such a fun, imaginative way to teach the ABC's and numbers.;)

2. Superhero Instruction Manual

3. Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs

I love the sarcastic humor of Mo Willems!

4. Monsters Love Color

This one is such a fun book on colors!

5. Dear Zoo

I don't know how I missed this one when I was a kid, but it's now a favorite at our home! We can no longer go to the zoo without quoting it.;)

6. Little Green Peas

All of the Little Green Peas books are wonderful!

7. The Dot

This one is such a great book for teachers, to show how some encouragement can go a long way.

8. My Blue is Happy

I love this one and how it talks about colors and the emotions they can express, but how those emotions can be totally different.

9. Hippos Go Berserk

I adore Sandra's books, as they are fun to read and my kids love the colorful pages! This one is an especially fun counting book.;)

10. Little Nelly's Big Book

This one is an adorable story about an elephant who is fairly certain she is a mouse, since she fits the description she found in a book.;)

Friday, January 27, 2017

Ham and Cheese Scones

I made these with some of the leftover ham from Christmas (which, was in the freezer. lol) and they were incredible! I may need to cook up another ham to make more, since they were the perfect blend of meat, cheese, and buttery goodness.

Ham and Cheese Scones
3 cups all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
8 Tablespoons butter, cubed and cold
1 cup milk
1 cup cubed, cooked ham
1 small onion
1 cup cheeder cheese

In a food processor, mix your flour, baking powder, and salt. Add your butter and pulse until your batter resembles sand. Add your milk and mix just until incorporated. Turn onto a flour surface and gently kneed your ham, cheese, and onion in, just until mixed in. You don't want to over do the kneeding.;)
Bake at 375 F for 35-45 minutes. They will be golden colored.
Enjoy with a bit of butter! Be sure to refrigerate leftovers.

Greek Yogurt pancakes

My husband loves these pancakes, since they don't sit quite so heavy as most pancakes do. I love that they have some extra protein.;)

Greek Yogurt Pancakes
2 cups Greek yogurt
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour (it works well to do half all purpose and half wheat, if you like the taste of wheat flour)
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda

Mix the yogurt, eggs, and vanilla. Slowly add the rest of the ingredients, mixing once they are all added. Make sure the baking soda is thoroughly mixed in.;)
I like to make these on my electric skillet, since it makes about 15 good sized pancakes, which I can do in 2-3 rounds. Heat your skillet (on medium on the oven, at about 300 F on an electric skillet) before adding the pancakes. The batter will look like it's quite thick, but the pancakes spread as they cook, so be sure to allow space for them to expand. Wait until the batter begins to bubble before turning. Enjoy with your favorite toppings!
These freeze well or can keep in the fridge for 5 days.

The Returning

Twenty years have passed since Carrington and Remko Brant's baby, Elise, was kidnapped and they were forced to leave her captive in the Authority City. Though they fled with the Seers far from Authority reach, they've never given up hope of rescuing their daughter from the man who betrayed them. Now Authority President, he's ushered the city into a new era of "peace"--one where the Scientist Roth Reynard's Genesis Serum has eradicated all memory of emotion or rebellion.But the mysterious Aaron and his Seers are once again on the move, threatening the illusion the Authority has worked so hard to build. As the Seers send seven chosen warriors to rescue Elise and bring restoration to the Authority City, the lines are drawn for a final battle between light and darkness. The key to ultimate victory may rest within the strangely powerful girl who has felt forgotten but was never abandoned--a truth she'll need to wage war against the powerful forces of evil.

My thoughts: I've read all the books in this series. This one is the best, in my opinion! At first, I was a bit disappointed that so many years have passed since the second book, but it wound up adding a lot to the story. I can't imagine, as a parent, how hard it would be to have faith that leaving a child behind is where God can use them the most. Rachelle does a wonderful job of bringing the battle of Remko and Carrington to life.
I do wish that the light that Aaron represented was explained a bit more in the book, since it feels like more stalk is put into his character then the source from where he gets being a prophet and teacher. I would of liked more on the spiritual side of things.
I like that this book has a lot more going on. If you enjoy dystopian stories, then this series is one that you should check out!
I received this book from Tyndale in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

It Started With Goodbye

Sixteen-year-old Tatum Elsea is bracing for the worst summer of her life. After being falsely accused of a crime, she’s stuck under stepmother-imposed house arrest and her BFF’s gone ghost. Tatum fills her newfound free time with community service by day and working at her covert graphic design business at night (which includes trading emails with a cute cello-playing client). When Tatum discovers she’s not the only one in the house keeping secrets, she finds she has the chance to make amends with her family and friends. Equipped with a new perspective, and assisted by her feisty step-abuela-slash-fairy-godmother, Tatum is ready to start fresh and maybe even get her happy ending along the way.

A modern play on the Cinderella story arc, Christina June’s IT STARTED WITH GOODBYE shows us that sometimes going after what you want means breaking the rules.

My thoughts: I loved this story! I've mentioned before that I really enjoy fairy tales and reading retold fairy tales. It Started With Goodbye is my very favorite kind of retelling, since it was a Cinderella story while being totally original too. I loved the characters and that Tatum isn't the only one we connect with. I highly recommend this one, since it was delightful and surprisingly deep. It also is clean, which can be hard to find in a YA title.
I look forward to reading more by Christina!
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Top Ten: characters I would love to have in my family

1. Jo March

Really, the whole March family, since I love the way the sisters interact! They would be marvelous cousins.;)

2. Lady Miranda

With her dry wit, she would make a wonderful relative as well!

3. Tatum

Granted, I'm not quite done with this one, but there is something about Tatum and her Cinderella story that makes one want to adopt her!

4. Elizabeth Bennet

Because really, who wouldn't want Elizabeth Bennet as a sister?;)

5. Anne Elliot

As an older, wiser sister.;)

6. Fred and George Weasley

Can you imagine these two as uncles? I know this one is kind of out there, but they would make hilarious, young uncles who would constantly be getting the younger generation in to trouble with their brilliant ideas.;)

7. Lucy

Lucy and her sweet imagination would make her a wonderful younger sister.;)

8. Henoria

She's just a cool aunt in this story!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Aspen Everlasting

Water splashed on all sides then took control of the tires. The car swerved right toward the river.
“No. NO. NO!” I turned the wheel toward the road. It didn’t work. Fast running water pulled the car into the flooded river.

Aspen Foster thinks she’s just a normal sixteen-year-old, but when her car’s caught in a flash flood, Aspen and her sister discover the superhuman strength they never knew they had.

Soon Aspen learns she’s not normal at all. She’s an Evermortal fairy, with powers beyond her wildest dreams. But the more Aspen finds out about her family’s past, the more dangerous her future becomes.

This riveting fantasy is full of action, adventure, and romance. Suspenseful and exhilarating!

My thoughts: This a fun story about what happens when a normal girl, and her siblings, find out they have super powers. I enjoyed getting to know the characters and found the story to be an imaginative one. I love that there are a lot of characters and thought that Kathryn did a fantastic job of bringing them to life, along with the world they wind up being a part of. Two thumbs up! This is a fun story for young adults and adults alike!
I received this book from Cedar Fort in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

An Uncommon Courtship

When her mother's ill-conceived marriage trap goes awry, Lady Adelaide Bell unwittingly finds herself bound to a stranger who ignores her. Lord Trent Hawthorne, who had grand plans to marry for love, is even less pleased with the match. Can they set aside their first impressions before any chance of love is lost?

My thoughts: While I enjoyed the previous two books in this series, I had a harder time getting into this story, since it was just so vague at the beginning. And, it felt like there wasn't much to the heroine. But, then more of the story came out and the reader starts to get why Lady Adelaide is the way that she is. I love that this story wound up being a different spin on the tale of a marriage of convenience. I also love that Kristi has captured the Regency way of verbal sparing, how to polietly get your point across, something I love about Jane Austen's stories.
If you enjoy Regency stories, I highly recommend this one! I would caution that it is for a little older audience. I was quite an advanced reader at a young age, and would not of wanted to pick this one up until at last high school.;) (though, things are handled with tact)
I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.

The Mark of the King

Sweeping Historical Fiction Set at the Edge of the Continent
After being imprisoned and branded for the death of her client, twenty-five-year-old midwife Julianne Chevalier trades her life sentence for exile to the fledgling 1720s French colony of Louisiana, where she hopes to be reunited with her brother, serving there as a soldier. To make the journey, though, women must be married, and Julianne is forced to wed a fellow convict.
When they arrive in New Orleans, there is no news of Benjamin, Julianne's brother, and searching for answers proves dangerous. What is behind the mystery, and does military officer Marc-Paul Girard know more than he is letting on?
With her dreams of a new life shattered, Julianne must find her way in this dangerous, rugged land, despite never being able to escape the king's mark on her shoulder that brands her a criminal beyond redemption.

My thoughts: I was really looking forward to this book, since I love the idea that the main character is a midwife who is wrongly accused of a crime in France, so she is sent to New Orleans as a prisoner to help settle the new land. While the attention to historical details is incredible, I found it hard to like some of the characters and really get to know them. I know it was a hard time to live during, but there is just so many hardships in this story. That said, I think that Jocelyn is a wonderful author who writes well and really researches her stories.
I received this book from Litfuse in exchange for my honest review.

A Moonbow Night

After fleeing Virginia, Temperance Tucker and her family established an inn along the Shawnee River. It's a welcome way station for settlers and frontiersmen traveling through the wild Cumberland region of Kentucke--men like Sion Morgan, a Virginia surveyor who arrives at the inn with his crew looking for an experienced guide. When his guide appears, Sion balks. He certainly didn't expect a woman. But it is not long before he must admit that Tempe's skill in the wilderness rivals his own. Still, the tenuous tie they are forming is put to the test as they encounter danger after danger and must rely on each other.
With her signature sweeping style and ability to bring the distant past to vivid life, Laura Frantz beckons readers to join her in a land of Indian ambushes, conflicting loyalties, and a tentative love that meanders like a cool mountain stream.

My thoughts: This story was incredibly fascinating! I haven't read as much about this time in history, when Kentucke was considered part of the untamed land and Indian raids were a very real fear. I thought that Laura did a fabulous job of bringing the story to life. While parts of it are sad, with life being so hard back then, she doesn't just focus on the hardships. This is an excellent story for those who love history. Laura is a master at historical details.
I received this book from Revell in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Chamberlain Key

Imagine you are a young, ambitious, successful appraiser of artifacts and antiquities—your services in demand by many of the most powerful individuals and branches of government in Washington, D. C. Your future could not seem brighter—except for a troubling dream...with the same mysterious message...on the same exact date...three years in a row...

A True Story...Better Than Fiction

Timothy P. Smith, heir to a renowned family business responsible for construction or renovation of some of America’s most cherished landmarks, struggled to understand the significance of his recurring dream...until he had another dream--one that identified a specific location where it seemed he might find answers to his questions. So Timothy drove to a remote spot in British Columbia. There the adventure--which later led to a startling discovery in the oldest Hebrew text of the Bible--began.

It took the convergence of the sacred text, one man’s life, and modern computer technology to reveal messages that may explain dramatic world events, as well as influence every person alive today.

Welcome to The Chamberlain Key.

“However one wishes to interpret the meaning and significance of the text, they may rest assured that the text on which Timothy Smith bases his interpretation has almost certainly been there for a very long time, since before the birth of Christ.”
—Eugene Ulrich, Ph.D.
Department of Theology, University of Notre Dame
Chief Editor, The Biblical Dead Sea Scrolls

“For more than fifteen years I managed to keep the lid on a discovery that will dramatically redirect biblical scholarship, Christian theology, and perhaps even the trajectory of history itself.” –Timothy P. Smith

What You Will Discover in The Chamberlain Key
• An encrypted code in Genesis, in the oldest known Hebrew text of the Old Testament, centuries before predicted the birth and resurrection of Jesus.
• Scientific evidence that this encrypted code was authored by the divine hand of God.
• Signs that there are more encrypted codes in this same Hebrew text that will lead to additional messages from God to humanity
• Hidden clues that may lead to the location of long-missing sacred artifacts, such as the Ark of the Covenant
• Insights on why Timothy P. Smith was chosen to uncover this encrypted code.
• A dire warning that God wants us to hear—and heed.

My thoughts: I was so excited to get this book, since it's always thrilling to read real life stories that are better than fiction.;) I found this book interesting and insightful, definitely a great read for anyone who enjoys theological debates and things like the Dead Sea Scrolls.
I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Take Ten: Hidden gems of 2016

1. The Kindness Challenge

I was reminded just how much I love this book when I listened to a podcast with Shaunti yesterday (since we were iced in...). Taking on the kindness challenge, for real, was one of my new years resolutions.

2. The Circle Maker

I discovered this one when we decided to do the devotional in our women's study group. It's made me excited about my prayer life.;)

3. The Giftsnatcher

I know I have mentioned this one before, since it was just excellent!

4. My Blue is Happy

I read a ton to my kids, so we are constantly bringing home bags of books to keep me entertained (I don't want to read the same five or so over an over again!). This is one of the gems that we brought home towards the end of the year.

5. As an Oak Tree Grows

This one was a bit over their heads at the moment, but I love how it shows the life of an oak tree!

6. Would a Worm Go on a Walk?

This one is just fun!

7. Beyond the Rising Tide

I love how impossible this story is!

8. We're in the Wrong Book

We love this one!

9. The Princess and the Pig

10. Tackling the Fields

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Midnight Sisters

Do not meddle with the Master’s daughters.

The words rattle around Jonas’s head. What is the punishment again? Death? Dismemberment? Jonas, the newest addition to the gardening staff, can’t recall the exact penalty for breaking the rule. What does it matter anyway? He would never dream of meddling with the Earl of Bromhurst’s haughty daughters.

Until he comes face to face with Lady Ariela, the eldest of the Master’s daughters.

Her elusive smile and open manner cause him to question his convictions. In no time, he’s drawn into Lady Ariela’s world of mystery and intrigue, a world where she and her sisters will do anything—including leaving twelve empty beds at midnight—to escape their father’s strict rules.

Only Jonas can uncover the truth and save them from their father’s wrath and their own folly, if he is willing to risk everything he’s ever worked for.

My thoughts: I love fairy tale retellings, so I was thrilled to get a hold of this delightful story by the author of Becoming Beauty (another great tale, might I add!). While there is no magic in the stories, they are still such fun! I enjoyed getting to know the 12 mischievous sisters as they seek for some freedom and, at least for some, find true love along the way. I highly recommend this to anyone who likes fairy tales! (or, who just loves an all around sweet story). Two thumbs up!
I received this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.
Buy your copy here

Meet Hayla & Isella:
The two small girls blinked up at me, their eyes round and full of innocence.
“Ladies,” I nodded down at them, forcing my lips into a smile. I straightened my livery and tucked my hands behind my back. They could probably smell fear.
“Want to play?” Isella shook the toy horse. I could have sworn the horse leered at me.
I swallowed. “Of course, Lady Isella.” I dropped into a squat before her. Isella trotted the horse over my knees, making various snorting noises.
“No!” Hayla snatched the toy from her sister. “Horsey says, ‘niegh, neigh!’” She pranced Horsey in the air to demonstrate.
Rage glimmered in Isella’s eyes and her rosebud mouth tightened into a dot. Dread pooled in my stomach. “He’s mine!” she screamed and grabbed for the toy. Did Horsey flinch? Hayla kept a tight hold on the toy. Back and forth Horsey went. Then with a mighty heave, Isella yanked the horse from her sister’s grasp. She released a cry of triumph. But it was too soon. She had pulled too hard. The toy arced through the air, flying out of her grasp. It fell impossibly slow.
Why couldn’t I move? I could have easily snatched it out of the air but my hands wouldn’t move.
“Owwwww!” I howled, clapping a hand to my eye. Tears poured down my face. “I can’t see! I can’t see!” Small people scurried away. At the same moment a larger form shuffled up to me. She sighed.
“Oh, Markus. Will you never learn?” Mrs. Jenkins said.

Friday, January 13, 2017

60 Days of Happiness

Would you like to experience true happiness?When it comes to happiness, most of us have the same questions. Why can't I be consistently happy? Is it wrong to be happy when there's so much pain and suffering in the world? And perhaps the biggest one: How can I be happier? Some Christians make an artificial contrast between joy and happiness, while others claim God wants us to be holy, but not happy. In fact, he wants us to be both, and the two go hand in hand!In "60 Days of Happiness," noted theologian and "New York Times" bestselling author Randy Alcorn shares sixty timeless devotions demonstrating that God not only wants us to be happy in him and enjoy his gifts, he commands and empowers us to do so.

My thoughts: This is an excellent devotional! I love that Randy Alcorn has written this devotional, since I have heard the arguments of happiness verses joy. I think that Randy makes a compelling argument on why we were made to long for happiness and seek it out. I love the length of these devotions, I feel like a lot of devotionals are so short and don't really allow to get past the surface of a thought. These devotions are a perfect length, longer but not too long to make them impossible.
I love the true stories included in these devotions. I also love the key message, that we were made to find happiness in the Lord.
I received this book from Tyndale in exchange for my honest review.

Meals from Mars

A fateful encounter late at night at a gas station in the hood brings together a white man from the suburbs and a young black man from the neighborhood. Stuck with each other for the night, they deal with their core prejudices, the walls that keep them from each other, and the discovery of their God-given humanity in one another.

When talking about race, it helps to have something specific to talk about―a story we can all wrap our heads around. In Meals from Mars, Ben Sciacca provides that story: two men from different worlds forced by circumstance to see and hear and consider one another. It is a novel that demonstrates the social challenges and relational potential for racial reconciliation.

My thoughts: I was thrilled to get this book, since it deals with a sensitive subject that needs to be talked about more. While I really enjoyed parts of the story. like Malik's uncle and his thoughts, as well as the parts about the meals and how to actually help people. I felt like the story has some holes in it and I would of personally liked to see a little more conclusion to the story. I know it would be pat to give it a happy ending, but I finished the book feeling like "Wait, that's it?!". These are just my personal thoughts on the story. I do think that there are a lot of difficult subjects tackled in this book and it's an interesting read.
I received this book from Tyndale in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Women of Easter

his Season of Grace,
Deepen Your Faith in God
Who So Loved the World
that He Gave Us His Son.

You’re about to meet three women named Mary, each of whom has a life-changing encounter with Jesus. Mary of Bethany prepares the way for the Lord’s burial when she anoints His feet and fills the air with her perfume. His mother, Mary of Nazareth, remains by His side from His first breath to His last, her loyalty unwavering. Mary Magdalene, delivered of seven demons, bravely supports her Teacher through His darkest hours, then proclaims the glorious news of His resurrection.

What a trio. What a Savior!

Your mind and emotions will be engaged and your faith strengthened as each scene unfolds, preparing your heart for a richer, deeper Easter experience. Liz Curtis Higgs, a seasoned Bible teacher and award-winning novelist, combines her storytelling skills with a thorough verse-by-verse study of Scripture as together you explore the remarkable lives of The Women of Easter.

"The perfect companion for Easter and beyond!"
—Jennie Allen, visionary of IF:Gathering

“Liz Curtis Higgs is one of the most amazing teachers of God’s Word that I have ever experienced. Her in-depth knowledge of the Scriptures, gifting as a communicator, and personal relationship with the Lord make her unmatched in the ability to take biblical truth and make it applicable to anybody.”
—Priscilla Shirer, New York Times best-selling author of Fervent

"The Lord's resurrection is the most glorious, victorious moment in history. You and I will watch these ancient scenes unfold through the eyes of the three women who were mitnesses, who were there. Just the though gives me goose bumps. All three Marys will show us what happens when we encounter a loving Savior and are transformed. That's what Lent is all about. A time of renewal. A season of grace."
—Liz Curtis Higgs

My thoughts: This is such a wonderful Bible study to pick up as we approach Easter! I love how Liz brings to life the women in the Bible with her books. This one was so good, such an emotional journey as it talks about the Marys and their relationships with the Savior. I think this is an excellent book to do on your own, but would also be enjoyable to do with a group during the Lent season. Liz does a wonderful job of drawing our hearts closer to the Savior. Two thumbs up!
I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Never Forget review and giveaway

Click here to purchase your copy.

About the Book

Book: Never Forget

Author: Jody Hedlund


Genre: Historical Romance


Release Date: January 4, 2017


Rose Island Lighthouse, Rhode Island


June 1880


Will she betray his trust to stay on the island she loves?

Abbie Wilson is content to spend her days clamming, crabbing, and tending Rose Island Lighthouse. Her grandpa is the head light keeper, but his senility may lead to their eviction. Since leaving the island would kill her beloved Gramps, Abbie will do anything to keep him in the one place he knows and loves.

Wealthy Nathaniel Winthrop III’s wild living has gained him a reputation as the ‘bad boy’ among the elite social circles of Newport. After a blow to the head in a yachting accident washes him up on Rose Island, Nathaniel has no memories of his past.

Abbie tends the wounded stranger in her home only to realize he assumes they’re married. Although she knows she needs to correct Nathaniel’s mistake, his presence calms Gramps and provides a way to prevent eviction from the lighthouse.

The longer the charade continues, the harder it gets for Abbie to tell Nathaniel the truth, more so as she begins to fall in love. Everyone she’s ever loved has abandoned her. Will Nathaniel leave her too, once he discovers he’s not really her husband?

My thoughts: This one is such a quaint but complex story! I love the tale of Abbie, who is stuck between a rock and a hard place with carrying for the lighthouse with her Gramps. Back in a time when women were only allowed certain professions, she is afraid what will become of them if people find out. When Nathaniel waltzes into her life, it becomes harder and harder to reveal the truth.
I thought that this was a wonderful addition to the series, which is a fascinating look at life as a lighthouse keeper. I love the rich historical details and depth of the characters. If you enjoy historical history, then I recommend this one!
I received this book from Celelbrate Lit in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author

Winner of the 2016 Christian Book Award and Christy Award, best-selling author Jody Hedlund writes inspirational historical romances for both youth and adults.

Jody lives in central Michigan with her husband, five busy children, and five spoiled cats. Although Jody prefers to experience daring and dangerous adventures through her characters rather than in real life, she’s learned that a calm existence is simply not meant to be (at least in this phase of her life!).

When she’s not penning another of her page-turning stories, she loves to spend her time reading, especially when it also involves consuming coffee and chocolate.

Guest Post from Jody Hedlund

Which Do You Prefer: Series or Standalones?

By Jody Hedlund

Readers usually have strong opinions about whether they like series or standalones.

Some readers refuse to read books that are inter-related. Others can’t get enough books about their favorite characters.

I see the pros and cons of both.

For series, I don’t like feeling lost as I try to wade through previous characters along with their backstory. I recently started a series by a well-known author and was disappointed to realize the first book was connected to a previous series she’d already published. From the get-go, I felt left out as though I didn’t quite know who all the characters were or their significance.

On the other hand, for standalones, I sometimes feel as though I would like the story to continue. I’ve invested in the setting and characters and so enjoy when I can return to that place and continue to glimpse the characters I’ve fallen in love with—even if from a distance.


My favorites are books that fall in the middle between standalone and series. I like to think of them as standalones within a series. Becky Wade’s Porter brother series is like that. Each of the books centers around one of the brothers (and a tomboy sister). While characters from other books make an appearance in the stories, each plot is separate and complete without any reliance upon another book.

My Beacons of Hope lighthouse series falls in the middle too. The books are related in that they all take place at lighthouses and share a symbolic “cross of hope” that is passed on from one book to the next. A minor character in a previous book becomes the hero or heroine in the next book. But each book can be read by itself without having read any of the others.

In other words, readers can pick up my newest release, Never Forget, which is the fifth and final book in the series, and they wouldn’t be confused about who the characters are or what their history is. The plot starts with a bang and ends with a satisfying sigh. It is complete story unto itself.

And yet, for those who’ve read other books in the series, they’ll get to see the happily-ever-after of a character from a previous book. And they’ll also get to find out where the cross of hope finally ends.

If you’re not a fan of series, I encourage you to give the Beacons of Hope series a try. It might satisfy the need for standalones and series all in one neat little package.

To that end, I’m giving away all FIVE books in the series as part of the Celebrate Lit blog tour to one lucky winner!


Tell us: What is your preference: Standalones, Series, or Standalones within a Series?


Blog Stops

January 10: Karen Sue Hadley
January 10: Bookworm Mama
January 11: Faithfully Bookish
January 12: Genesis 5020
January 13: The Scribbler
January 14: Daysong Reflections
January 16: A Greater Yes
January 16: Bigreadersite
January 18: Book by Book
January 19: Carpe Diem
January 19: Splashes of Joy
January 20: Stuff and Nonsense
January 21: Radiant Light
January 21: cherylbbookblog
January 22: A Path of Joy
January 23: Henry Happens
January 23: Onceuponatime


[Insert Giveaway Picture Here]

To celebrate her tour, Jody is giving away the entire Beacons of Hope series. Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

Growing Up Social

Is technology drawing your family together or driving it apart?

In this digital age, children are spending more and more time interacting with a screen and less time playing outside, reading a book, or interacting with a parent. While technology can benefit us, it can also erode a sense of togetherness and hinder a child’s emotional and social development.

In Growing Up Social, Gary Chapman and Arlene Pellicane will empower you with the tools you need to make positive changes . . . starting today. Through stories, wit, and wisdom, you’ll discover how to take back your home from an overdependence on screens. Plus, you’ll learn to teach the five A+ skills that every child needs to master: affection, appreciation, anger management, apology, and attention.

Learn how to:

Replace mindless screen time with meaningful family time
Establish simple boundaries that make a huge difference
Discover what's working for families that have become screen savvy
Equip your child to be relationally rich in a digital world
Learn healthy ways to occupy your child while you get things done

Now is the time to equip your child with a healthy involvement with screens and an even healthier involvement with others.

My thoughts: So much has changed on the technology front even since I was growing up (which doesn't seem like it was that long ago! lol). With the technology boom has come new problems and the dilemma of how to deal with kids and all the screen time they get. How do we, as parents, figure out a good balance for them? Gary and Arlene do a wonderful job of showing parents how to help their kids balance technology and living life, along with how to be screen savvy (something that each parent needs to keep up with their kid!). This is an excellent book for all parents!
I received this book from Moody in exchange for my honest review.