Friday, December 31, 2010

The Clouds Roll Away

I have been introduced to a new author that I am bragging about! Sibella Giorello is a new-to-me-author that is FABULOUS!!! Her writing catches you from the first page - it is fresh and REAL - I enjoy that. She is a Christian writer and although I am not always a fan of Christian Fiction, this author is drawing me back!!! The novel I read, The Clouds Roll Away, is a book that I could not put down. The storyline is about Raleigh Harmon, an FBI agent, and the mystery is one that I could not even see how it was going to end - it kept me going until the very end! Great read - I highly recommend it! This is not her first novel and you can be sure I am going back and reading her others - what a great writer.

About Sibella: Sibella Giorello grew up in Alaska and majored in geology at Mount Holyoke College. After riding a motorcycle across the country, she worked as a features for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Her stories have won state and national awards, including two nominations for the Pulitzer Prize. She now lives in Washington state with her husband and sons. Find out more about Sibella and her other books at her website.

About The Clouds Roll Away:
Forensic geologist Raleigh Harmon returns home for Christmas but discovers Richmond, Virginia running low on goodness and light.

Although her exemplary service in Seattle lifted her disciplinary transfer, Raleigh lands a hometown civil rights case riddled with problems that could get her sent away again. When she helps out a fellow cop, her life goes on the line, forcing her undercover in a sting operation. As Raleigh realizes the lines are crossing and double-crossing, her domestic life starts to unravel. Her mother's mental health cracks like ice, her closest friend grows cold, and her old boyfriend DeMott comes a-calling, hoping for more than chestnuts by an open fire.

While the city glows with Christmas lights and carols, Raleigh is forced to rely on her sharpest skills to stay alive, hoping for that one clear moment when everything makes sense and the clouds roll away.

Win a KINDLE from Sibella Giorello!
The Clouds Roll Away KINDLE Giveaway
**I was provided a copy of the book for review purposes by the publisher.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Scholastic Favorites

In my Scholastic box a month or so ago I had some great titles I wanted to mention!

The Odious Ogre by Norton Juster and pictures by Jules Feiffer is a great treat! Chloe and I LOVED this one! This is the story of a mean, vicious ogre - no one likes him and most are afraid of him.d UNTIL, one day he takes a wrong turn and comes upon a sweet young lady that may just change his mind!! We enjoyed this - great read!! Watch the book trailer HERE.

Ivy Loves to Give by Freya Blackwood is another sweet story. This is a great one for our younger set. Ivy is a little tyke that loves to give things - she gives things to people and even her dog - even if they aren't always what they need or want!! But most of all she loves when people give to her - even is sometimes she likes to take more than she likes to give! Honest and sweet - our younger ones will enjoy this one!

The Sea of Sleep by Warren Hanson and illustrated by Jim LaMarche is another wonderful story to top off this box! This is the story of Mama and Baby Otter and their sights on their way to sleep. What a magnificent, go-to-sleep story. The illustrations are just what this sweet story needed - simply WONDERFUL!!! Makes me want to cuddle up and take a snooze with my little ones!

**These books were provided to me for review purposes by Scholastic Books.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Love At Last Sight

I wanted to read Love at Last Sight by Kerry and Chris Shook because I am always looking for more practical ways to love others. This was JUST what I was hoping it would be. This is a 30-day program that guides you step-by-step to building deeper, more meaningful relationships. It isn't rocket science, but it's true - when we invest ourselves, relationships will grow and mature. Their ideas are practical and do-able - it really was a great read!

Watch the book trailer HERE.

**I was provided a copy for review purposes by Blogging for Books.

Out Live Your Life

Max Lucado has long been an author I enjoy. His books have nuggets of truth throughout that make me want to underline and re-read. His latest, Out Live Your Life, is no exception. It is the common thread of how God chooses to use ordinary people just like us to live out His plan. I love that - you don't have to be anything special - you just have to be willing. Lucado backs it all up with scripture and examples of people God used that were just like us! This was an inspiring read - a good challenge for all of us - all we need to be is willing!!

Here is what the publisher said about the book -

These are difficult days in our world's history. 1.75 billion people are desperately poor, natural disasters are gouging entire nations, and economic uncertainty still reigns across the globe. But you and I have been given an opportunity to make a big difference. What if we did? What if we rocked the world with hope? Infiltrated all corners with God's love and life? We are created by a great God to do great works. He invites us to outlive our lives, not just in heaven, but here on earth. Let's live our lives in such a way that the world will be glad we did.

Watch a trailer for the book HERE.

Peachtree LOVE!

Peachtree Publishers sent me a box and I am THRILLED!! What great books they publish! You honestly can't go wrong.

No Bows! by Shirley Smith Duke and illustrated by Jenny Mattheson is a hit at our house. This little girl is opinionated! She certainly has her likes and dislikes and she lets it be known! My girls laughed the whole way through AND then told me what they liked or didn't like! What a fun one to share with our little ones - would be great for story hour as well!

Little Rabbit's Christmas by Harry Horse is another story that will be a Christmas favorite for years to come! All little rabbit wants for Christmas is a sled - it's all he thinks about UNTIL he gets it!! Then, since he doesn't want to share - he comes to wonder really how fun a sled is all by yourself. Cute story with a wonderful moral. Harry Horse is a wonderful author and I am glad his stories live on even though he passed away in 2007.

Immi's Gift by Karin Littlewood is a tender story - Immi lives in the Arctic and she is lonely - no one ever comes to visit her. Until, as she is fishing one day, she begins to find gifts. She loves the gifts so much, she decides to send out her own gifts via the ocean. This story is so sweet - someone finds her gifts and the story ends in a wonderful way! Truly a touching story that my girls LOVED.

**I was provided copies of these titles by the publisher for review purposes.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Family Media Diet Calculator

Nashville, Tenn. Dec. 15, 2010… After a season filled with record-setting cell phone and gaming gifts to teens and tweens, iShine is announcing the upcoming Dec. 26 release of the Family Media Diet Calculator. The calculator is a new tool providing customized awareness to families in regards to how much time they spend connected to media in comparison to the amount of hours they spend plugged in with real life interaction and content consumption.

By visiting, parents nationwide will be able to plug in amounts of time their families spend texting, browsing online, consuming television and more. They will then be able to print a free custom analysis of where their families are spending their time in comparison to their involvement in recreational and faith-based activities along with family time and reading. The campaign is not an anti-technology movement. It is about use awareness and being intentional about the content.

It is estimated that the 20 million tweens in this country spend 25 hours a week watching television and playing video games and only one hour in church. George Barna (The Barna Group), a pioneer in research on Christian culture, recently noted that kids spend more time absorbing media than anything else in their lives, except sleeping. A recent article in The New York Times titled “Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction” (insert link - also discussed the effects of technology compared to focusing and learning.

We as parents must be deliberate of what media our kids consume, understanding that it is forming the way our kids look at everything – self image, friends, parents, leaders, themselves,” remarks iShine Founder and Chief Creative Officer Robert Beeson.If we as parents aren’t actively forming the person our kid’s are becoming – make no mistake – someone else is.”

iShine, known for bringing family-friendly media options through tours, music, television and radio mediums, is sponsoring the free Media Diet Calculator. The organization will also be releasing a new interactive Bible for tweens with Tyndale House Publishers in Feb. of 2011.

# # #

More about iShine:

iShine is a Christian media group dedicated to ministering to “tweens” and their families. Tweens are defined as children between the ages of 7 and 13, and represent the single most influential age group in the world today. Mainstream media and consumer marketing groups focus their messages of identity, popularity and value predominately to the “tween” marketplace for a reason. iShine reaches today’s “tweens” through Biblically-based live concerts events (iShineLIVE!), unique television programming seen weekly on TBN (iShine KNECT), iShine artist releases to CD and DVD, interactive websites and coming in 2011, an entire line of books and Bibles all specifically designed to be relevant to this vital audience.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Language of Trees

Ilie Ruby's debut novel, The Language of Trees, is captivating, in a word. I was caught up at the first page and never wanted to put it down. The characters are real and become people you know, the places are places you can see and feel - it is a great read - one that will stay with you even after you've finished. Maybe "haunting" is a better word - because it is that as well - you are "pulling" for the characters and, even at the end, you continue to think of how their lives will change or continue on. Ruby is on my "watch list" - can't wait for her next novel!

Don't miss this one!

(And, as usual, my disclaimer that some content is mature - not recommended for younger teen readers, in my opinion.)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Big Fork Little Fork

As a mom who needs all the help she can get in the kitchen, I am excited about this opportunity!!
I am testing out Kraft's Big Fork, Little Fork app for iPad. This is a great app - for starters, it has:
  • 50 exclusive recipes spanning breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack-time, focused on families interacting in the kitchen; such as Yummy Roast Chicken, Sweet Potato Mash and Banana-OREO Lassi
  • Tips and tricks giving parents and kids cooking ideas
  • 10 how-to videos demonstrating cooking tactics with kids and offering step-by-step, professional instruction
And an exclusive recipe collection by Marcus Samuelsson.

I just see SO many great uses for this app. Just a few would be:
  • Parents and kids cooking together
  • Parents looking to expand their children’s (or even spouse’s) palates
  • Cooking inspiration during the holiday season
  • College kids learning how to cook on their own for the first time
  • Home-schooling parents looking to infuse food education into their curriculum
I downloaded the app itself, which is free, but the exclusive content of new recipes really intrigues me! As soon as I have played with the app more, I will be posting another review to let you know what I think! And Becky, in the kitchen, should be INTERESTING!!! :)

Here is a link so you can find the app too! Big Fork Little Fork is free until Dec. 31, 2010 and you can buy the new and exclusive recipe collection for just $4.99 right now on iTunes as well.

**“I wrote this blog post while participating in a TwitterMoms program, making me eligible to get an iTunes gift card in order to purchase the Marcus Samuelsson recipe collection on Big Fork Little Fork free. For more information on how you can participate, click here.”

Contests and More Contests!!

Another contest you need to check out!!

Sibella’s celebrating the release of The Clouds Roll Away by giving away a KINDLE prize pack worth over $150.00!


One Grand Prize winner will receive:

  • Latest Generation KINDLE with Wi-Fi

  • $25 gift certificate to

To enter simply click on one of the icons below! Then tell your friends! Winner will be announced January 3, 2011 on Sibella's blog:

About The Clouds Roll Away - "Beautifully written with exquisite descriptions, Giorello's mystery also features well-developed characters..."
—Booklist, starred review

Monday, December 20, 2010

Don't Miss This Fun Contest!!!!

I wanted to fill you in on an exciting contest that is currently being run and sponsored by the New Living Translation. They are highlighting three ministries, Wycliffe Bible Translators, Oasis International, and The Dream Center, (click on the link to learn more details about these ministries) and by voting for one of these ministries you’ll be entered to win one of many prizes.

To enter, visit the NLT Facebook page by clicking here.

There are several levels of prizes you can win, here are the details:

With the Give the Word Bible Contest and Giveaway:
• Ministries win: Each time the NLT Facebook Page reaches a fan count milestone, votes will be tallied and the three ministries will receive cash donations from the New Living Translation and Tyndale House Publishers.
• Everyone wins: Everyone who enters on the Bible Contest website wins a free download of Matthew West reading the Christmas story.
• Daily NLT Study Bible winners: Vote on the NLT Facebook page and you will be entered to win two NLT Study Bibles—one to keep and one to give away. A new winner will be chosen every day.
• Weekly Give the Word Locally winners: Tell us about a deserving local ministry on the NLT Bible Contest website and they could win five NLT Study Bibles and $250 worth of NLT products.
• One Grand Prize winner will enjoy a unique trip customized just for them and their family (or three guests of their choice), to Wycliffe Bible Translators world headquarters and the WordSpring Discovery Center where they will experience firsthand the exciting world of Bible translation. The Grand Prize winner could also choose to donate the value of the trip--$2000--to Wycliffe instead.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Garden Spells

For a total change of pace, I picked up Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen. Yes, it's a fiction romance-filled story but it totally intrigued me. It is the story of Claire and Sydney - two sisters that have chosen totally different paths in life but are brought back together later in life. They have to work through some things in order to build their relationship again, but what they build is something so much stronger than anything they had before. It is a beautiful story of friendships, relationships and flowers - yes, flowers. Claire's garden is full of flowers - each with a different "purpose" when it is used in a recipe. I really enjoyed it - it's a fast read - but one that reminds you to let love in - even when it might hurt.

*Just a note here - definitely an "adult" read - and it does have some scenes that are more graphic than I normally read. I just wanted to add that for those that pass my reading suggestions on to teens - not a book I'd want my teen to read because of the content.

Red in the Flower Bed

If there is one type of book I am ALWAYS on the lookout for - it is books on adoption for children. SO, when I was contacted by Tribute Books about Red in the Flower Bed by Andra Nepa - I was over-the-top-excited! Nepa is the mother of an adopted Vietnamese daughter so she KNOWS what adoption involves and what it can mean to our little ones that we bring into our homes. That is why I am so excited about this book - the theme of adoption all wrapped around a little seed that grows. The analogy is wonderful! I love how the seed becomes a flower and blends into the rainbow in the flower garden. I can't wait to share this one with my daughters - it is perfect!

*I was provided an online link for review purposes by Tribute Books.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Crashing Through

I think the very first conference we went to for our daughter was one put on by the Braille School here in Iowa. And what I kept hearing over and over was about a book - Crashing Through - I am not kidding - MANY people kept telling me to read it. SO that is just what I went and did. What an inspiring story - it is the true story of Michael May. He became blind at the age of 3 from a chemical reaction and spent the rest of his life NOT letting his blindness stop him. He truly faced his blindness and did not let it get in the way of life - in fact, he was even a champion downhill skier - he truly amazed me at how he tackled life. But the crux of the book comes when Michael is faced with a decision - there is a doctor that feels he can possibly restore May's sight with stem cells and surgery - and here is where the story got very challenging. In my mind, I am thinking - well, of course I 'd have the surgery - even in light of the risks - but May has learned how to live a very full life because of his blindness and you really wonder if he is going to go through with the surgery or not. It is a great read - it challenges me as a mom of a little girl that is nearly legally blind - but it will challenge all of us as well - what really is important in our life??

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