2.08.2016

Hannah's Choice (Journey to Pleasant Prairie #1) by Jan Drexler {Historical Romance Review}



Journey to Pleasant Prairie #1
Historical Romance


When love and family 
conflict, will she listen to 
her head . . . or her heart?

HANNAH YODER loves her quiet life on the banks of Conestoga Creek. In 1842, this corner of Lancaster County is settled and peaceful--yet problems lurk beneath the placid fa├žade. Hannah strives to be the one person who can bind the threads of her family together in spite of her father's worries, her mother's depression, and her sister's rebellious ways. But her world threatens to unravel.

When two young men seek her hand in marriage--one offering the home she craves and the other promising the adventure of following God's call west--Hannah must make a choice. Will she stay true to the faith of her family or defy her father and abandon her community?

READ AN EXCERPT

My Thoughts

Hannah's Choice combines two of my favorite genres, Amish Fiction and Historical Romance. The story takes place in Lancaster County in early 1842. We quickly learn that Hannah's family has suffered tremendous loss and is struggling to regain their footing. Hannah's mother is in the throes of depression and her father is at a loss of how to help her.

Hannah has been able to seek solace and friendship throughout her growing up years with her neighbor Adam. Now that they are both adults there is a longing to make a move toward marriage but Adam is Mennonite and Hannah is Amish. Neither wants to convert to the other's faith so the relationship seems doomed.

 When Amish men from a nearby settlement come for a visit it appears that many things may be changing for Hannah's family. Not only are circumstances possibly changing but one of the visitors is a young Amish man looking to marry and begin a family. Hannah struggles to decide if she fits in that plan.

What I liked about this novel is that there were multiple story lines going on. Hannah's younger sister is headstrong and spoiled. She isn't very taken with the Amish lifestyle and seeks a way out. But there is a very high price to pay. 

Adam and his family are involved in the Underground Railroad. Through an unexpected twist Hannah gets drawn into the rescuing. It was interesting to read about the struggle she had with participating. 

Hannah's Choice is an intriguing look into the early settlers of Lancaster County and how they grew and expanded their numbers locally and in other communities. I can't wait to read the next book in the series and see how the People are settling into their new homes and lives.

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Photo Credit: © Magnified Photography









2.07.2016

Big Dreams Big Prayers Bible For Kids from Zonderkidz {Bible Review}



New International Version
Age Level: 8-12 Grade Level: 3-7

The Big Dreams, Big Prayers Bible for Kids, NIV includes the complete New International Version (NIV) of the Bible along with devotions, prayers, and highlighted verses to help kids pray and listen for God’s answers to their prayers. Features include:
  • Presentation page for personalization and gift giving.
  • Devotions about people who prayed and listened to God such as Abraham, Hannah, and Job.
  • The Lord's Prayer explained for kids.
  • The "hand" prayer model to help kids remember to pray for others and themselves.
  • Highlighted verses great for memorization and meditation.
  • Book introductions explain what each book of the Bible is about.
  • Prayer journaling pages with space to record personal prayers and answers to prayer.
  • Reading plans.
  • Complete text of the New International Version (NIV).

There are devotions throughout that show examples of what conversations with God can look like. There is a list of all the devotions in the back of the book. The verses that are highlighted show specific words about conversations with God.

My Thoughts

I'm so pleased with this new Bible from Zonderkidz. The text is from the New International Version (NIV) which is a normal thing for a Bible from Zonderkidz. What sets it apart is that all of the features throughout the Bible focus on prayer.

Prayer is a major tenet of our faith and we spend a lot of time teaching our children about it. The Big Dreams Big Prayers Bible For Kids is such an asset in our family to point out how important it is to incorporate prayer into our daily lives. 

From the devotions to the highlighted verses to the extra pages of visually appealing graphics the theme of prayer is carried throughout with the intent of not only teaching children about prayer but also empowering them to incorporate it into their lives.

One of the pages has a visual of a hand and gives a list of five things that you should pray for each day. Thumb: People closest to you. Pointer: People who point the way (leaders, teachers, pastors). Tall Finger: People in authority. Ring Finger: People who are weak. Little Finger: Yourself. You could easily use that model with your children. What a perfect way to teach them to use their prayer time for more than a selfish wish list. How great would it be to have our kids praying for those around them?!!

There is also a very doable reading plan in the back of the book. It is broken down into three different courses. Course 1 is an introduction to the Bible and it spends two weeks each on the Life and Teachings of Jesus, the Life and Teachings of Paul, and finally an overview of the Old Testament.  The second course is a Guided Tour Of The Bible. Your child will spend 180 days getting a sweeping look at the Bible from Creation to Revelation. Finally Course 3 is designed for your child to read Every Word In The Bible. A chapter a day is assigned (two chapters are sometimes combined if they are short) with the goal of reading through the entire Bible in three years.

My favorite feature of this new Bible is the Prayer Journal in the back of the book. There is space for your child to list their prayers to God and to also record the answers from God. Wouldn't this make a wonderful keepsake years from now. It would be such a great testimony to God's faithfulness in the big things, little things, and the everyday things.

If you are looking for a new Bible to take your older child to the next level of daily Bible reading and prayer this is an excellent choice.

The extra pages of beautiful graphics help to drive home the importance of prayer.






1.29.2016

Where She Belongs (Misty Willow, Book 1) by Johnnie Alexander {Contemporary Romance Review}



Misty Willow, Book 1
Contemporary Romance

CAN LOVE REDEEM
A BROKEN PAST?

Shelby Kincaid is ready to move forward after the death of her husband left her devastated. With high hopes for the future, she longs to purchase her family's homestead, Misty Willow, so she can raise her young daughters in the only place she ever truly belonged. She plans to transform the abandoned house into the perfect home of her memories. But she has her work cut out for her.

AJ Sullivan never wanted Shelby's family homestead in the first place. His grandfather left it to him as punishment for not following his wishes, and he's let it fall into ruin. AJ's more than happy to unload it to this spitfire of a woman. But even after angry exchanges over the state of the house, he can't get her off his mind.

With writing that evokes a strong sense of place and family history, Johnnie Alexander deftly explores the ties that bind us to home--and the irresistible forces that draw us to each other.

Read An Excerpt

My Thoughts

When you are a book nerd your biggest thrill is to find a new author that tells a great story. I think I've found that in Johnnie Alexander. She's not a new author but rather a new to me author and I look forward to reading more of her work.

Where She Belongs is considered a contemporary romance . . . and it is. But it also has a dash of mystery and intrigue thrown into the mix. What I liked about the book is that there were several layers of story going on. Shelby Kincaid is a recent widow and is interested in reclaiming her family home to give her girls the childhood she had. AJ Sullivan wants to bury the past and get on with the life he's chosen. The problem for AJ is that his family has other plans.

When you add to the mix a Hatfield vs. McCoy situation there are sure to be a few dust-ups. There is underhanded schemeing going on that threatens Shelby's new life. When the whole situation unravels and you get to see what is behind it all you'll be surprised.

It is such a good read and I can't wait to see where the story goes from here. If you like a tension filled romance with some mystery thrown in I think you'll like this one too.

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Photo Credit: © Jodie Westfall Photography

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1.28.2016

God Remains The Strength Of My Heart {Bible Journaling}


One of the blogs that I follow is Little House Studio. Jenn just inspires me! Not only is her art beautiful, but the words she shares on her page are ones that uplift and encourage.

A few days ago she generously shared this free printable. I couldn't resist printing it off and adding it to my Journaling Bible. I just printed it on cardstock and then cut it out and secured it with washi tape so it would be like a tip in. The size is about 5 x 5. You can download it yourself here.

I enjoy doing my own artwork in my Bible, but I also like to include work from others. It's a nice reminder to me that we aren't on this journey alone. 

Do you print out other people's artwork and include it in your Bible?

1.27.2016

London Art Chase (Glimmer Girls, Book 1) by Natalie Grant {Children's Book Review}



Glimmer Girls, Book 1
Juvenile Fiction (ages 8-12)

JOIN TWINS MIA AND MADDIE and their little sister, Lulu, as they travel the country finding adventure, mystery, and mischief along the way. Together with their father, their famous mother, singer Gloria Glimmer, and their slightly wacky nanny, Miss Julia, the smart and sassy sisters learn lessons about being good friends, telling the truth, and a whole lot more.

Their first trip to jolly old England brings their
first chance to be private investigators!

There is pure excitement in the Glimmer family as the group heads to London for the first time to watch mom, famous singer Gloria Glimmer, perform. But on a day trip to the National Gallery, Maddie witnesses an art theft and takes her sisters and Miss Julia on a wild and crazy adventure as they follow the thief through London to his lair.

Will the Glimmer Girls save the day? And will Maddie find what makes her shine?



My Thoughts

This highly anticipated series is finally here! I am a fan of Natalie Grant and I have been excited to read her new children's series in hopes of sharing it with my grand girls. After reading this first installment I have to admit that I have mixed feelings about it. Most of the book I really liked but there is a part that I did not like at all.

Let me start by telling you what I liked. The three sisters Maddie, Mia, and Lulu are clever and fun yet come across as true siblings (can you say sibling rivalry?). Maddie and Mia are 10-year-old twins. Mia is very outgoing and loves to perform. Maddie is more of an introvert and loves art. Lulu is six and she's a handful.

The family is on a business trip to London where the momma, Gloria Glimmer, is scheduled to do several concerts. While the parents are busy with rehearsals and concerts the girls and their nanny take in the sights of London. I enjoyed the way that facts about the sights were slipped into the dialogue. What a fun way for your girls to learn a little while they are being entertained with a good story. 

All in all this is a good read that is sure to keep your daughter's attention. But I would be remiss if I didn't say what disturbed me about the story. I'm about to provide a bit of a spoiler but I am assuming that the parents are reading this review so it shouldn't matter in the scheme of things.

Without giving too many details about the story there is a point in the book where Maddie sneaks out of the hotel by herself and seeks out the art thief. She is a 10-year-old little girl wandering the streets of London. She does eventually meet up with a presumably safe man that helps her. While that is disturbing what made me frustrated was that when all was said and done and Maddie was once again safe with her family, her mother wound up apologizing to Maddie for not paying better attention to her needs. The momma did say that there would be consequences for Maddie's actions but those consequences didn't materialize. Instead the family went to eat ice cream and ride the giant ferris wheel. I really would have preferred a better lesson on self-control and making better decisions to stay safe.

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