Friday, December 21, 2012


I had a highly-respected reading friend suggest the book, Wonder by R. J. Palacio.  So I promptly got a copy and began reading - and thus begins a wonderful story.  I can hardly even relay how strongly I feel about this book - it hit me as a mom, it struck strong cords as a friend, and it moved me deeply on a human level in general.  This is the powerful story of August Pullman, a fifth grade boy born with a severe facial deformity, who is just trying to make his way through middle school - just like all the other kids.  However, his way through school is not at all easy - which can be normal for all kids - but even worse when you look like an "orc".  My heart ached for August as he tried to be like all the other kids - but he was very rarely accepted for who he really was.  What you do come to see through a few close friends, are strong friendships that are based on looking beyond the outward and looking inside to see who our friends REALLY are.  I just LOVE this book - and feel so strongly that I even think it should be required reading in middle school!  I mean that - let's see each other and how we are alike - not how we are different - let's see each other's hearts!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Snow Child

Eowyn Ivey has written a novel, The Snow Child, that is sure to be a gem for many readers.  This is based loosely on the children's novel, The Snow Child, by Freya Littledale.  And maybe that's what caught me - I loved it that it was based on a child's fairytale and yet turned itself into a novel that had me riveted from very early on.  I was drawn right into the story of Jack and Mabel and their life on the Alaskan frontier.  I felt for them when they lost their first child, and I was so excited for them when they had a little girl show up on their property - it just seemed perfect.  However, the story takes quite a twist when their little Faina grows up.  It was pure fabulousness on the part of Ivey to take the story in the direction she did - she follows the premise of the fairytale, but takes you in a round-about way.  I thoroughly enjoyed this novel.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Blackberry Winter

I finished another of Sarah Jio’s books – Blackberry Winter. Jio is a writer that gives you a fabulous story from page one! You are drawn in immediately – and she takes you full circle until you hit the last page and are left wondering if you really wanted it to end! This novel is one of my favorites of hers so far – it ties in the stories of two women – Vera Ray, who lived in Seattle in 1933, and Claire Aldridge, also a mom that lives in Seattle during present day. The moving story shows the loss of children and the impact it had on these two women’s lives. Their stories are profoundly different and yet SO much alike. It is well told – the characters are real and become people you care about as you read. Jio has done it again – another enthralling read!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Love Anthony

Love Anthony is the latest novel by Lisa Genova. You may remember Genova has written Still Alice and Left Neglected, both intriguing novels that showcase Genova’s expertise in neuroscience. Love Anthony is much the same in nature – a novel that focuses on autism from the mind of the autistic child. I thought just getting into the mind of the autistic child was fascinating. When we observe autistic children, we often wonder how much they are relating to our world. According to Genova, they are VERY MUCH involved and have strong feelings about how they are treated. I thought that aspect of the novel was riveting – in fact, I could have used more of those thoughts/feelings throughout the novel. The other story lines, family-related issues, were good, but, I didn’t think they were as strong as those of her other novels. I think it’s worth a read – just maybe not one of my “top-of-the-list” of Genova’s novels.

Friday, October 05, 2012


When I first started, Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton, I thought for sure I would not like it - it was just too odd.  I could hardly get past the fact that two dead people were talking to each other - but when I figured out that it was a mother and daughter, both of which went through a fire and are near-death, who are talking with each other - learning about each other - trying to put together pieces to the mystery of the fire - it was enough to keep me going.  I loved that this book is told unlike any other I have read - a mom and daughter - hovering on the brink of life and death - learning how to really love each other.  I thought it was a great read - a super mystery and a strong novel that delves into family relationships as well.

Love what Amazon's review says:

The school is on fire. Her children are inside.
   Grace runs toward the burning building, desperate to reach them.
   In the aftermath of the devastating fire which tears her family apart, Grace embarks on a mission to find the person responsible and protect her children from further harm.  This fire was not an accident, and her daughter Jenny may still be in grave danger. Grace is the only one who can discover the culprit, and she will do whatever it takes to save her family and find out who committed the crime that rocked their lives.  While unearthing truths about her life that may help her find answers, Grace learns more about everyone around her -- and finds she has courage she never knew she possessed.
   Powerful and beautiful, with a riveting story and Lupton’s trademark elegant style that made Sister such a sweeping success, Afterwards explores the depths of a mother’s unswerving love.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

The Homecoming of Samuel Lake

Jenny Wingfield's debut novel, The Homecoming of Samuel Lake, is a book that is guaranteed to keep you reading.  I was taken in immediately by the intricacy of her characters and the plot that unfolds simply as you read.  It is the tender story of the Moses clan - Willadee, Moses' daughter, and her husband, Samuel Lake, and their three children, that head back to Arkansas every June for the Moses family reunion.  This year, the reunion starts out like any other but tragically takes a turn as they lose an important family member.  What unfolds after the loss, becomes the major crux of the story - and it revolves around Swan, Willadee and Samuel's eleven year old daughter.  She is a fabulous character that you will love from the start.  I was drawn to her simple and yet very complex line of thinking - she is a wonderful eleven-year-old.

There were some tough parts to the novel - abuse of animals and children - but it wasn't drawn out so much that I couldn't get through it - and the end is redemptive.  The novel left me in tears - I would highly recommend this one!  I agree with this review:

“It’s all here. Faith. Honesty. Sin. Redemption. . . . Anyone who loves Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird will delight in Swan, the Lakes' eleven-year-old daughter.”—USA Today 


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Age of Miracles

I had heard lots of talk about Karen Thompson Walker's The Age of Miracles.  That is what prompted me to pick it up when I saw it sitting on the shelf.  It is in interesting premise - Julia, a teenager, wakes up to find that the world is changing - drastically, in fact.  The earth is slowing - days and nights are growing longer, gravity is also being affected, and it affects every part of her life.  Even her mother, already not coping with the change well, contracts a disease related to the slowing of the earth.  I have to say that it kept me intrigued - great idea for a book.  But I have to admit that it didn't draw me in as much as I had hoped.  The characters didn't grab me - even though the storyline is a great idea.  Give it a whirl and let me know what you think - I love to hear what others think!

Monday, September 17, 2012

An Unmarked Grave

My first encounter with Charles Todd as an author was a hit!  An Unmarked Grave is a "Bess Crawford Mystery" which means almost nothing to me as I've never read a Bess Crawford Mystery nor have I ever heard of them.  But now I have and you can be sure I am on the lookout!  This is a wonderful mystery set in 1918 - I loved the history AND the plot.  Bess Crawford is a battlefield nurse that is drawn into a baffling mystery because people she worked closely with are now dying or being killed - she has to decide which.  Because of Bess' family background and inability to leave a mystery alone, she is determined to get to the bottom of this rash of deaths.  It was suspenseful and well-written - great World War I intrigue and history to boot!!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Ivy and Bean - Week 3

Here is Week 3 in our countdown to Ivy and Bean Day!
This week - leave a comment to win Ivy and Bean Break the Fossil Record AND some Ivy and Bean Mini Notes!!!  If you've read Ivy and Bean books before, leave me a comment telling me why you enjoy them.  If you haven't read them - tell me one Ivy and Bean title that looks good!

I will choose a winner on Sunday, September 2.

Last week's winner was Comment 2 - Jasmine Ko - so Jasmine, I need your mailing address!!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Back to School Books!

Here is a fabulous post with some back-to-school books!

Over a Steaming Cup of Tea

*I was sent all of these as review copies by the publisher.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Ivy and Bean Countdown

There's a new Ivy and Bean Book out SOON!!  And in honor of that - we have fun prizes!!

So leave a comment and tell me your favorite Ivy and Bean title, OR, if you have not read them yet, tell me which you'd like to read!  Winners will receive a copy of Ivy and Bean and the Ghost that Had to Go and some mini notes too!  So comment away - winners will be announced 8/26/2012!!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Mother of Pearl

I want to encourage you to read this new book by Margaret McSweeney - Mother of Pearl is a book that is full of collective wisdom from women - women that have been there and know life.  It will encourage you to pull through the busy life of a mom and a woman and come out on the other side -strengthened and full of hope.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I am confident you will too!

About the Book:
Like oysters, women often encounter unexpected grit during their everyday lives. In response, God’s love and grace covers this grit and transforms the pain into a precious pearl that leaves a layered, luminous lining within a shell: Mother of Pearl. This brilliant luster is strong, lasting, and purposeful—just like the love, lessons, and legacies left by the special women in our lives. Mother of Pearl celebrates the collective iridescence of motherhood. Margaret McSweeney presents a collection of heartfelt vignettes from authors who communicate the importance of the unique relationships between mothers and their children, between granddaughters and grandmothers and between children and the mother-figures in their lives. These stories tell of the power of faith, prayer, and values, exploring coming of age, the joy of becoming a mother, the importance of motherhood, the ways to heal from a bad relationship with a mother and weathering the death of a special loved one. Poignant and thought-provoking, the stories serve to inspire, encourage, instill hope, and strengthen faith. The proceeds from the sale of Mother of Pearl will be donated to organizations helping struggling women and children. The charities include Wings (Women in Need Growing Stronger) to help fund the Safe House in the Chicago suburbs and to Hands of Hope to help build wells for schoolchildren in Zambia.
About the Author:

Margaret McSweeney is a well-published author often writing online articles for Make It Better (the former North Shore Magazine) and freelance articles for the Daily Herald, the largest suburban Chicago newspaper. In addition, she has authored and compiled several books including A Mother’s Heart Knows; Go Back and Be Happy; Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace, Mother of Pearl and Aftermath. With a master’s degree from the University of South Carolina in international business, Margaret became a vice-president in the corporate finance division of a New York City bank and worked there 1986–93. As founder of Pearl Girls, Margaret collaborates with other writers on projects to help fund a safe house for WINGS, an organization that helps women and their children who are victims of domestic violence, and to build wells for schoolchildren in Uganda through Hands of Hope. For the past 10 years she has served on the board of directors and leadership advisory board for WINGS. Margaret lives with her husband and 2 daughters in the Chicago suburbs.
To read what others have to say about this book - visit the blog tour - Mother of Pearl.

* I was sent a review copy by the publisher for this blog tour.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

My Pop-Up Bible Stories

What a fun little book with a new twist on Bible Stories - a Pop-Up version!!  Juliet David has created My Pop-Up Bible Stories.  This is an adorable book with tender illustrations by Daniel Haworth.  The book will need to be used with care as any pop-up would - and it does only include 5 stories - I'd LOVE to see more!!!  But it is still fun and my girls are enjoying it!  The five stories are a combination of Old and New Testament stories so it gives a fun and simple overview that we can share with our little ones.  This is an author that KNOWS her stuff when it comes to Bible Stories - her list of books she's written is long - enjoy another new one by this "seasoned" author!

*I was sent this book to review by the publisher - Kregel Books - as part of a blog tour.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Extra Yarn

Mac Barnett has written a children's book that is "THE BEST" according to my 6 and 8 year old girls!  Extra Yarn is such a fun picture book - the story of Annabelle and her ball of yarn that just never stops!  She knits for herself, her family, her friends, her pets, other animals and then just keeps knitting for trees, houses, and even trucks!!  It isn't until the Archduke comes to find the secret to the yarn that we, as readers, get to see what is truly inside that secret yarn box!  SO fun - and Jon Klassen's illustrations are MAGNIFICENT - check out his use of limited color - I just LOVE it!!

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Tales of the Not Forgotten

As a parent, one thing we strive to do is keep our children mission-minded.  That is not easy in this world we live in - but we sure try!  We forget how fortunate we are - we get focused on our own lives and our problems and we forget about the rest of the world.  So I was thrilled to be a part of a blog tour that focused on Beth Guckenberger's Tales of the Not Forgotten.  This is a wonderful book/DVD that challenges our young teens to look beyond themselves and see kids their own age - following God.  I can not even say enough good about this book, leader's guide, and DVD!  I see this being so powerful in our homes but also in our churches - for use in youth groups or middle age programming.  Do not miss this wonderful tool!
Visit the blog tour HERE.
Here is what others have said:
"Throughout Scripture we see that God's heart is for the orphans. He is in constant pursuit of them and has placed a special call on the church to care for the orphan. The church is waking to this truth at a very intense level these days and God is using Beth as a means to call the church to action on behalf of the orphan. Beth speaks clearly, powerfully, and with a passion that comes from living among and serving orphans in distress. Beth is able to deeply engage her audience in understanding the reality of life as an orphan and how the orphaned heart is affected when abandoned or abused. In a compelling way, Beth moves the openhearted person from just caring about the orphan to becoming a person who will care for the orphan. She presents the clear and emotive reality of life as an orphan in such a manner that people rise up to take action for these precious ones." - Steve Biondo, SVP, Family Christian Stores, President, The James Fund
"Our NASCAR community had the opportunity to hear Beth speak in our chapel at the racetrack. She captured the hearts of our community and has made a lasting impression in lives. Her heart for the orphan is evident and contagious." - Lonnie Clouse (Motor Racing Outreach), Lead Chaplain, NASCAR Nationwide Series

Beth Guckenberger and her husband, Todd, are the founders of Back2Back Ministries (based in Cincinnati, OH) which communicates a lifestyle of service by sharing the love of Christ and serving God through service to others. Back2Back Ministries connects willing workers to open hearts through international and local ministry opportunities. Their ministry is currently caring and providing for orphan children and needy people in Mexico, Nigeria, India and most recently, Haiti.

Beth travels and speaks regularly at women's and missions conferences, as well as youth gatherings and church services. Her topics include orphan care, missions, parenting, marriage/intimacy, and faith. Her story-telling style captures audiences, and she draws from her field experience as a missionary and parent for illustrations to biblical concepts. In addition to her latest release, Tales of the Not Forgotten (Standard Publishing 2012), Beth has written Relentless Hope (Standard, 2011) and Reckless Faith (Zondervan, 2008).

The Guckenberger family lives and serves in Monterrey, Mexico where they have hosted thousands of guests on their ministry campus. Between biological, foster, and adopted additions to their family, Beth and Todd are raising nine children. Learn how you can join Beth in ministry at or

More from the publisher:

Follow these real-life stories as they take you on a journey to faraway lands and unknown faces. Travel through their challenges and see the hand of the great Storyweaver writing endings you’d never imagine! Joel dares to ask for what he can’t have. Seraphina sacrifices what she can’t afford to give. Ibrahim looks for an answer buried out of reach. Christiana, saved by a mission, searches for her own. These are the tales of the ones the world doesn’t see . . . the tales of the not forgotten. In this collection of four real-life stories written for preteens, a compelling storyteller paints a picture of God’s dynamic movement in four foreign cultures, inspiring children to trust that God is weaving a story in their lives as well.

This resource will shrink the macro picture down to approachable, individual stories of real children and teach about fundamental survival issues. The stories address some of the challenging questions that kids have and weave God's promises to orphans into each one. The Tales of the Not Forgotten Leader’s Guide is a 6-session kids' missions resource (sold separately) that walks adults through an easy-to-follow guide for making the abstract real and for designing an action plan to help others. Preteens will be challenged to answer the questions: How do I pray? What can I give? Where can I go? Who will I serve?

*I was sent a copy for review purposes by the publisher.

Friday, July 27, 2012


Chris Cleave hit it out of the ballpark with Little Bee and now, I am again reminded of what a fabulous writer he is with Gold.  When I first started this book, I thought racing bicyclists - hmm, maybe not.  But I was drawn in right away and caught up to the very end of the book.  The book does not bog down with bicycling details, but is very interesting to see the life of a professional Olympic bicyclist.  It follows the story of three Olympic bicyclists - Kate, Jack and Zoe - and how their lives intertwine to tell their stories.  Their lives certainly intertwine - Kate and Zoe train together and race together but also compete together.  Jack and Zoe have a history but Jack and Kate are now married - hmmm - need I say more - the characters are pretty tangled in this one!  A story of 8 year old Sophie and her battle with leukemia - a story of the hopelessness of life for a character that seemingly "has it all" - and a story of devotion and sacrifice of parents.  I loved this book - I could feel for each character and I was riveted to the very end!  (And it's oh-so-timely here in the days of our current Olympics - don't miss it!)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Turn of Mind

Alice LaPlante's Turn of Mind is a riveting read.  It is the incredibly sad story of Dr. Jennifer White, a 64 year old retired orthopedic surgeon, who is learning to live with dementia.  The story is told from Jennifer's perspective and can be so hard to read at times - how she can not even remember her son or daughter must be a challenge for the whole family - but seeing it all from Jennifer's side is almost worse.  What makes this book even more appealing is the murder storyline.  Jennifer's best friend has recently been murdered and the police suspect her as the murderer.  This book is one that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the final pages - I could not believe how it ended - I had no idea and DID NOT see it coming.  It is just gives some great insight into dementia patients and what they live with, and what their families and friends live with - all from an insider's perspective.  I would highly recommend this book - it was a fabulous read!

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Are you feeling bored in your spiritual life?  Feel like you've hit a wall and are sliding down?  Brian Hardin tackles this in his book, Passages.  If you feel like your daily Bible readings are not very meaningful - you will love how Hardin tries to challenge you that your daily reading might just change you AND become the highlight of your day.  First he helps you to see that there is a big God that loves you and wants to be part of your life and he shows you how you can find time to spend with God and make a plan to see it happen.  He sets up a reading plan for the next year to get you through the entire Bible chronologically.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book - Hardin makes you think AND laugh - and I value that in a writer!  He is grounded and practical - just what we NEED!  Check out his great book AND his website.

To read what others have to say about Hardin's book - visit this tour schedule.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Surprised by Oxford

I am telling everyone I know that they MUST pick up this book - what a wonderful read Carolyn Weber has crafted.  Surprised by Oxford is Carolyn's memoir of her journey to Christ through Oxford.  I loved everything about this book - her writing is fabulous!  She weaves in many references to literature as she teaches literature and her background comes through loud and clear.  What I love about this book is that Weber heads off to Oxford to study - NOT to find God - but her journey is chronicled so well that you, as the reader, can feel her struggle as she strongly makes it clear she DOES NOT need God.  Weber is a pretty strong woman with strong feminist ideas - her journey is fantastic and will resonate with many people that read it.  Her questioning is real and the answers people give her in her journey are thoughts we can all relate to and may have heard ourselves along the way.  I would give this to skeptics, new believers, and people who've been believers for ages - it will challenge and encourage - I loved it!

*I was sent a copy of the book by the publisher for review purposes.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

If you like......

What a great tool - plug in your favorite authors and they will give you more suggestions - hmmm, check it out!!!

Monday, July 09, 2012

I See, I Learn Series

Stuart Murphy's I See, I Learn series is SO good for our preschool-aged kids!  These books are packed with topics that our little ones are encountering and he handles the subjects in such tactful ways.  Hillary has a couple of them she has reveiwed on her book blog.
Happy, Healthy Ajay!

*I was sent copies for review purposes.

Sunday, July 08, 2012


I am trying to find a book for a friend - she is sure she read it when she was a child.  Here is how she describes it:
The story was about a girl who has an invalid grandmother (or great grandmother) living with her family. The girl doesn't like her grandma because she is old and cranky and does nothing but scold. The little girl ends up finding her grandma's fort (I think it was a soddy underground.) and reads her diary from when the grandma was a child and the girl realizes that they were very similar.
Does that sound at all familiar?

Anyone, Anyone!?!?!

Thanks for the help - I am really struggling with this one!

Clothesline Clues to Jobs People Do

What a fun review!  Thank you, Hillary!  I totally agree - this is such a fun book to share with your little ones!

Clothesline Clues to Jobs People Do

*I was sent a copy by the publisher for review purposes.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Monkey Colors

Hillary has another great book review for us!!

Monkey Colors

*I was sent a copy by the publisher for review purposes.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Out on the Prairie

Thank you, Hillary, for another superb book review!!
Out on the Prairie

*I was sent a copy by the publisher for review purposes.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Hope Springs

Kim Cash Tate really hit the nail on the head in her latest novel, Hope Springs.  In a simple and yet clear way, she shows that change is NEVER easy - and I think many can relate to that - but change in the church can often be even more challenging.  I appreciate the way she tackles this topic and delicately points out just exactly how hard the politics of church can be.   I love the characters in her novel - they are well-developed and you are drawn into the storyline almost immediately. 

Here is what the publisher says about the book:

In a small community where everyone is holding tight to something, the biggest challenge may be learning to let go. Hope Springs, North Carolina, is the epitome of small town life-a place filled with quiet streets, a place where there's not a lot of change. Until three women suddenly find themselves planted there for a season. Janelle hasn't gone back to Hope Springs for family reunions since losing her husband. But when she arrives for Christmas and learns that her grandmother is gravely ill, she decides to extend the stay. It isn't long before she runs into her first love, and feelings that have been dormant for more than a decade are reawakened. Becca is finally on the trajectory she's longed for. Having been in the ministry trenches for years, she's been recruited as the newest speaker of a large Christian women's conference. But her husband feels called to become the pastor of his late father's church in Hope Springs. And Stephanie has the ideal life-married to a doctor in St. Louis with absolutely nothing she has to do. When her cousin Janelle volunteers to stay in Hope Springs and care for their grandmother, she feels strangely compelled to do the same. It's a decision that will forever change her. As these women come together, they soon recognize that healing is needed in their hearts, their families, and their churches. God's plan for them in Hope Springs-is bigger than they ever imagined. Thomas Nelson 2012.

And about the author:

Kim Cash Tate is the author of Cherished, Faithful, Heavenly Places, and the memoir More Christian than African American. A former practicing attorney, she is also the founder of Colored in Christ Ministries. She and Her husband have two children. Connect with Kim: Twitter @KimCashTate and Facebook.

Do not miss this wonderful novel - it would be a super summer beach read!

*I was sent a copy by the publisher for review purposes.

Presidential Pets

Over a Steaming Cup of Tea has another fun blog post for us!

Presidential Pets

*I was sent a copy for review purposes by the publisher.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Eight Days Gone

Hillary has another informative blog post:
Eight Days Gone

*I was sent a copy for review purposes by the publisher.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

The Kitchen House

I LOVED The Help and I thoroughly enjoyed Their Eyes Were Watching God.  I enjoy books set in the slavery era - that just intrigues me and I enjoy reading about that time period.  So when I saw The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom, I knew I had to add this to my reading list.  I thought the story was strong although it wasn't always easy to read.  I will never get over how horribly these women were treated - that is very hard to read.  However, the story is powerful.  What I loved about this story is how the author ties in slavery issues but also slavery of another kind - a small girl, Lavinia, orphaned during her passage from Ireland.  She ends up on the plantation and becomes part of the servants' family - a little white girl in a black family.  They don't see the color - they just love each other because they are all they have.  It is just so hard to read how these women have no choices - no options - they are forced to live lives they would never choose for themselves.  I was drawn into Lavinia's story - which also ties into many other slave's lives as well - you see their good choices and you cheer them on.  You see their poor choices and you cringe inside knowing this can not end well.  This was a book that kept me thinking.  It is also a story of deep sadness, secrets, family, and maybe foremost - dignity.  It is WELL worth your time.

Lerner Goodies!

I have another super review for you from Over A Steaming Cup of Tea...
Can you Tell A Cricket from a Grasshopper?

*I was sent these books by the publisher for review purposes.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Angel Eyes

If you are looking for a quick summer read - I've got one for you!!  Shannon Dittemore's Angel Eyes is wonderful!  It is YA fiction and does not preach - but truly challenges you spiritually as you read!  Some of the quotes in the book were such great wisdom that I had to copy them down - they share truths but not so overtly that it turns readers off.  It is an intriguing story of Brielle and her finding her way back after a devastating life event as she was just setting out on her own.  When she returns home to take some time to heal, she meets Jake - but Jake is ANYTHING but normal and she sees in him many things that just do not add up.  When she finds out that Jake and his friend are sent to help her - the ride really begins.  I thoroughly enjoyed this and can't wait for the sequel!
What the publisher says about the book:
Once you've seen, you can't unsee. Everything changes when you've looked at the world through . . .Angel Eyes

Brielle went to the city to chase her dreams and found tragedy instead. She's come home to shabby little Stratus, Oregon, to live with her grief and her guilt . . . and the incredible, numbing cold she can't seem to shake.

Jake's the new guy at school. The boy next door with burning hands and an unbelievable gift that targets him for corruption.

Something more than fate has brought them together. An evil bigger than both of them lurks in the shadows nearby, hiding in plain sight. Two angels stand guard, unsure what's going to happen. And a beauty brighter than Jake or Brielle has ever seen is calling them to join the battle in a realm where all human choices start.

A realm that only angels and demons-and Brielle-can perceive.

*I was sent a copy for review purposes by the publisher.

To read what others are saying on the blog tour - click HERE.

Celebrate with Shannon by entering her "Angel Eyes" Giveaway and connecting with her during the Author Chat Party on 6/26!

Find out what readers are saying here.

One "angelic" winner will receive:
  • A Brand New Nook Color
  • A copy of Angel Eyes by Shannon Dittemore
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends at noon on June 25th. Winner will be announced at the "Angel Eyes" Author Chat Facebook Party on 6/26. Shannon will be hosting a book chat, testing your trivia skills and giving away some great prizes!

So grab your copy of Angel Eyes and join Shannon on the evening of the June 26th for a chance to meet Shannon and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book - don't let that stop you from coming!)

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Don't miss a moment of the RSVP today. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 26th!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Lucy Come Home

I have loved Dave and Neta Jackson's work for YEARS!!  I enjoyed them as a young reader - I have enjoyed them with  my children and now am enjoying new ones as an adult!  Lucy Come Home is their latest novel.  As usual, their books have a lot of intrigue - tying history with mystery and exciting adventures!  My boys have enjoyed their work right along with our girls - I love that  - their books appeal to all genders and many ages. 

This is the story of 15 year old Cindy - she lives in Michigan and lives a hard life - she works hard and becomes enamored with a traveling carnival fellow.  He adds a whole new side to her life and that excites her.  But their future becomes quite  twisted as they flee for their lives together.  I love Lucy, the old lady that the two meet up with, she is a gem and leads Cindy on finding all new meaning to her life. 

Here is what the publisher says:
Lucy Come Home
Dave and Neta Jackson
Fifteen-year-old Cindy worked long days beside her migrant worker family in Michigan's sugar beet fields in the early 1940s -- the "war years" -- until she met a dashing young man from a traveling carnival, bringing some joy and fun into her hard-scrabble life. But a tragic twist of fate -- and a dead field boss-- sent the two young people on the run, leaving behind family and everything she'd ever known. Lucy Tucker, the crotchety old bag lady from the popular Yada Yada House of Hope series, is a veteran of Chicago streets and not about to give up her independence, even as she approaches her 80th birthday. Until, that is, a young displaced woman with her gentle aging mother and a dog named Dandy seem to need her -- unsettling the secretive Lucy, who doesn't let anyone get too close. But just when it seems her past is catching up with her to bring her in out of the cold... Lucy disappears again. How these two tales intersect and intertwine between past and present gradually shines light into the dark corners of Lucy's murky past. But... why won't Lucy come home?

Dave and Neta Jackson are award-winning authors living in the Chicago area where their parallel novels from the Yada Yada House of Hope and Harry Bentley series are set. As a husband/wife writing team, Dave and Neta Jackson are enthusiastic about books, kids, walking with God, gospel music, and each other! Together they are the authors or coauthors of over 100 books. Visit for more info.

If you would like to read others' reviews on this blog tour - visit HERE.  This is a great new book - if you want a book that will make you think AND provide some suspense and mystery - this one will do it!!  And when you read it - let me know what you think!

*I was provided a review copy by the publisher.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The House that George Built

Hillary has another wonderful review of a brand new book that was sent our way - go see what she has to say!!
The House that George Built

*I was sent a review copy by the publisher for review purposes.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Moon Over High Street

I do not think I have ever read a Natalie Babbitt book that I did not like - and her latest, The Moon Over High Street, is no exception!  I loved everything about this book - at first I was copying quotes like crazy - there were just hints of wisdom all over in this junior fiction novel.  So I gave up copying all of my inspiring quotes and just sat back and read.  It was wonderful - it is the touching story of Joe, a young teen boy, with almost no family left to raise him.  His Grandma and Aunt take over the responsibility and Joe thrives under their care.  But when a stranger, Mr. Boulderwall, offers to take him under his wing and raise him and give him an opulent lifestyle, Joe must make an important decision.  I thought the story was brilliant and one our young readers will enjoy but SO WILL ADULTS - there is just so much to love about this touching tale!

*I was sent a copy by the publisher for review purposes.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Growing Up Ziglar

"No one can tell you who you are. It doesn't matter who your parents are or where you come from; you're the only one who gets to decide who you're going to be. Few people can demonstrate that better than Julie Ziglar Norman. The daughter of one of America's most well-known and loved motivators, Julie found God where most of us do: somewhere in between the lofty ideal we're told about and the big mess we often make of our lives."
~ Dave Ramsey, New York Times bestselling author and nationally syndicated radio host

And if that isn't enough to get you intrigued - then pick up a copy and read Julie Ziglar Norman's Growing Up Ziglar.  Julie has not lived an easy life - so what she says comes from the heart.  I was touched by her story - it was real and encouraging.  She is honest and admits where she made some wrong turns, but she is also honest that God has never let her down and that's where her true source of life comes from.

Here is what the publisher says:
Julie Ziglar Norman often says her dad is the king of 'doing life right' and she is the poster child for 'doing life wrong.' For over a quarter of a century she lived every day with regret, shame, guilt, and depression. But she was the daughter of the motivator's motivator, Zig Ziglar, and knew that she needed to be positive. So she gathered up all her negative self-talk and squashed it deep down inside where it couldn't ruin the bright and practiced smile she presented to the world. 'People might assume Zig Ziglar's daughter would automatically grow up to have a positive attitude,' Julie says. 'For a large portion of my life, I was just positive I was miserable!' Her powerful and heartwarming story will move readers to laughter and tears. Mostly it will renew their faith in God's power to redeem all the wrong choices and bring them full circle to hope and healing. Julie urges readers not to settle for okay when God has true joy waiting for them. She shares tools to equip them to make the changes needed to find true freedom in every area of life.

Julie Ziglar Norman is the daughter of Zig Ziglar and for 20 years has been his personal editor. With a background in sales and business management, Julie has become a dynamic international motivational speaker. She lives in Texas with her husband, Jim, and continues the Ziglar legacy of encouragement.

I would encourage you to take a minute and read through this inspiring book - it's a quick read and it will challenge you!  Also don't miss Julie's website meant to encourage women - ZiglarWomen.

*I was sent a copy for review purposes by the publisher.


Emma Donoghue has written Room, a haunting fiction tale that is like nothing I have ever read.  It is the story of Jack, a five year old boy, that is being kept in an 11 x 11 foot room with his mother - against their wills.  Their captor has created this tiny room for them and just gives them weekly rations of food and necessary clothes, etc.  Wow - does this ever make you think - not only how you would survive - how they DID survive - but it broaches questions like "What would you be like when you did get out?"  or "What is ok to survive?"  I thought the book was very readable - I could hardly put it down and that's saying something since we were even on vacation!  I thought the characters were strong - you honestly feel sometimes like you are right inside Jack's little 5-year-old mind.  And yet you feel so strongly for his mom as well - she is all Jack has and she does the best she can with her limited resources.  It is quite a psychological read - I would highly recommend it!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Lifeboat

The cover is what caught me on this one - Charlotte Rogan's The Lifeboat is Rogan's debut fiction.  I had read fabulous reviews and although I thought it was good - it did not ever "catch" me.  HOWEVER, I did keep reading until I conquered it!  And I am glad I did - the story is quite different from anything I've read - 40 some people on a lifeboat after their ocean liner has an explosion in the summer of 1914.  It is quite a study in psychology and personalities - very intriguing.  You see personalities and conflicts explode on this small lifeboat - as well as the overall goodness of man.  It culminates with the trial that Grace Winter has to go through after they are rescued as she is charged with murder.  Again - an interesting twist on a very different storyline!  I just felt it got a little long - although I enjoyed seeing the characters develop, it just didn't do enough to keep me glued to the pages.  I would love to hear what others thought though - so if you've read it - leave a comment - maybe I can be convinced otherwise!!

Friday, May 25, 2012

More Sylvan Dell by my Favorite Guest Blogger

I asked my resident guest blogger, Hillary, if she would be willing to read a couple of Sylvan Dell books for me and blog about them - fortunately we agree - you can't get much better than Sylvan Dell!! :)
Here is her review!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Summer Fit Learning

When I was asked to review Summer Fit Learning - I was excited!  I am always looking for something to keep my girls learning in the summer - and we had not heard of Summer Fit before.  My second grader is SO excited to work in this workbook and I am excited as well.  This is a well-thought-out program.  Each day begins with exercises that you can do by watching the videos on Summer Fit's website.  From there, you move to math skills and reading skills with some science and social studies mixed in.  I think this is such a well-rounded curriculum - not so long that the kids will think they are in school all day, but enough to keep their skills strong for the upcoming school year.  And as a librarian, I love that there are book lists included at the end of each week!  What a great plan for our summer!!

Make sure and check out their Facebook page!


*I was sent a copy for review purposes.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Defending Jacob

Previous to this, I had not read anything by William Landay.  But I picked up his latest book, Defending Jacob, and I do believe my jaw is STILL wide open - even finishing a week ago!  This book was not my typical read - I tend to not go to trial/lawyer stuff - it usually gets too deep into law for me.  But this one was a riveting read - kept me going right from the start!  It is the story of Jacob, a 14 year old boy, charged with murder of a school mate - BUT Jacob is also the son of Andy Barber, the assistant district attorney for more than 20 years.  There are twists all throughout this novel - and you really get involved as you can relate to the narrator, Andy, as he battles the doubt, fear, and worries that any parent would encounter going through a court case like this.  I truly enjoyed this novel - it was tough but real.  What leaves my jaw sagging is the ending - NO SPOILERS HERE - but if you read it - please leave a comment - I mean really, that's the end!?!?!?  I demand a sequel!!!

Pick it up - it is well worth the read!  It is a murder/thriller that is guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat!

Monday, May 21, 2012

God Helps Me Bible

Yes, there are a lot of children's Bibles out on the market - and yes, you've looked at many of them if you are anything like me, BUT, I have a new one that I think you will find fun for that "younger" crowd!  The God Helps Me Bible by Juilet David is a new release by Candle Books that is quite clever.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the spiral binding - WONDERFUL for our beginning readers!  AND, the illustrations, by Clare Caddy, are sweet and tender - perfect for a child's Bible.  And here's my favorite part - I love how every Bible story points back to God - how God helped each person in the Bible to accomplish His tasks.  Our little ones need that God-focus - that is where we want them focused anyway - on the One that makes it all possible!  The stories are simple for our young ones but yet they are hearing God's Word even at an early age.  I think this Bible is a delight for families with little ones - do not miss it!!

*I was sent a copy for review purposes.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Turning Guilt Trips Into Joy Rides

I needed this book!  Because I will admit - it is easy to load on the guilt - I am THE MASTER of that!!  Don't get me wrong - I'm not about loading it onto others but I load that guilt right onto myself.  So when I saw this blog tour I felt it was perfect for me.  Turning Guilt Trips Into Joy Rides by Shirley Brosius, Janine Boyer and Kim Messinger is a book that highly encouraged me!  This book is set up into 183 very short devotions - less than a page in length - but packed with thoughts that hit right to home.  And each is followed by scripture or prayers to encourage you to get your focus on God - where it should be.  I would recommend this book - it was easy to swallow and digest and PACKED with wisdom!  We need that, as women, to be reminded that guilt is not necessary - let's live in grace!

Guilt! She pokes you as you write about your quaint, eccentric aunt. She grabs you as you wander from e-mail to Facebook to laundry instead of focusing on your work. She kicks you as you complain about your husband to a friend. Have you noticed? Women seem riddled with guilt. And it’s hard to know if guilt is legitimate or simply a product of our imaginations. After all, should we really feel guilty about things over which we have no control? We are not perfect. We have no control over some things, so it's no use feeling guilty. We can't do it all. To celebrate the release of Turning Guilt Trips into Joy Rides, Shirley, Janine and Kim are giving away some great prizes during the blog tour. Share your own "guilt trip" or "joy tip" and be entered to win a free life coaching consultation and a $50 gift certificate. JUST CLICK THIS LINK and share what trips you up, holds you back or any tips you may have for overcoming guilt and keeping your joy. Fill out the quick form at the link and you'll be entered to win a free life coaching consultation from one of us AND a gift certificate to to use to purchase whatever strikes your fancy! Contest runs 4/23 - 5/12. Winner announced there on 5/14.

See what others have to say about the book on the blog tour - go HERE to see all the stops on the tour.

*I was sent a copy of the book for review purposes.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Silly Doggy!

I have found a new favorite children's book!!  Silly Doggy! by Adam Stower is simply wonderful!!  The illustrations are fabulous - they are tender and yet funny - and add so much to the story.  It is the story of a little girl that finds a "Doggy" in her yard - well doggy only in her sense of the word since it is really a bear!  She loves this "doggy" and proceeds to play with him until he is claimed.  The ending of this book will just make you smile - and will lead into more fun chats with the little ones when you read it!  Can't rave about this one enough - LOVE it!!

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Blue Sky

Audrey Wood's latest children's book, Blue Sky, is such a fun book!  There are not many words, but my girls and I had so much fun with this delightful picture book.  Each page is another beautifully-illustrated sky - even the words reflect the sky's characteristics.  What a fun book - from "Blue Sky" to "Dream Sky" - kids will love this!  It makes for a fun bedtime story or just a fun book to look at together and get conversation going!

Monday, May 07, 2012

Dancing on Broken Glass

Dancing on Broken Glass by Ka Hancock is a book that is my recent rant.  I am telling everyone how much I enjoyed this book.  It is not an easy or happy read, but it is real - and captured my attention from the very beginning.  It is the tough story of Lucy Houston and Mickey Chandler - two people that fell in love and knew from the beginning that their marriage was going to be a fight.  And what a fight it was!  Lucy battled breast cancer early on in the marriage which was a huge stresser.  Not to mention Mickey is bipolar and struggles to keep himself out of the hospital almost on a monthly basis.  The pair come together and fight through these issues - which only makes them stronger.  But when Lucy becomes pregnant - that is when the real story begins.  They made a promise to each other that they would not have any children because of their situations and health - now it all seems to come crashing down when this baby is on the way.  There are tough decisions ahead for both of them as they battle a pregnancy that may ruin their marriage AND other health decisions that seek to ruin them both.  This is a tear jerker - I was sobbing - literally sobbing at parts of this book - it is heavy and it hurts.  But what an amazing story and amazing characters.  Truly a book that stays with you long after you have turned the last page!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Quaker State Affair

The Quaker State Affair by Dan Romain is quite the book - I loved it!  (And I will say right off the top that it is not my typical read!!)  It was intriguing, suspenseful, and fascinating - and centers around government - I know SHOCKING for me!!  It is the story of nuclear secrets being stolen from Los Alamos - it is China and America racing in a battle of technology and what happens to each of their nations as they are racing forward technologically.  And it all centers around Patrick "Mac" McDaniels - a physicist who wants only to study science - he wants to stay far away from the government - but he seems to be the only answer to America's problems - or is he!?!?!?  This is a ride - fast-paced and intense.  I loved the aspects of government and espionage it opened as I read and the ideas and thoughts that presented themselves on a topic I don't give much thought!  This is a well-written, futuristic novel that really brings up some important ideas.

More about the author:

Dan Romain is a nationally recognized business consultant who built one of the most successful insurance firms in the country. A graduate of the University of Washington with a bachelor’s degree in economics and a member of the Omicron Delta Epsilon International Economics Society, he currently resides in Seattle, Washington, with his wife, Lori, their two children, Danielle and Brian, and their black Labrador, Kona. He has been widely credited as one of the few who accurately predicted the economic melt down.

To see other stops on this blog tour - go HERE.

* I was sent a copy for review purposes.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Sacred Thread

Here is one for non-fiction lovers - or maybe even if you don't LOVE non-fiction!  Adrienne Arieff's The Sacred Thread is an account of Arieff's experience with surrogacy - even more interesting, surrogacy in India.  You follow her miscarriages, infertility, and then her journey through surrogate birth.  I found the book fascinating - I may live under a rock, I'll admit that, but I had no idea this surrogate birth was as popular as it was - especially traveling to India to have it done.  It was a wonderful autobiography that lends a whole new way to look at another birth experience. 
I found Arieff's writing to be easy to read - and although some parts felt a bit long to me, I did feel it kept my attention and I wanted to know how it would all end for them.  I would encourage you to pick this one up!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Simon and the Easter Miracle

Mary Joslin and Anna Luraschi have teamed up and written and illustrated a children's book that portrays the Easter story in a whole new way.  I loved the idea of telling the story of Christ's death from Simon's view - the man who innocently was asked to carry the cross.  Simon and the Easter Miracle is a touching story - with a fresh way to see a story that we are told year after year - one that SHOULD NOT, but can become routine.  I enjoyed the story and the illustrations - I only felt it ended rather abruptly, but I did enjoy Simon's reward for carrying the cross and I think the kid will enjoy this too!

*I was sent a copy for review purposes.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Fault in our Stars

I had heard so much hype over John Green's The Fault in our Stars, that I knew I had to read it!  So read it I did - and I could hardly put it down.  What an inspiring read!!  It is the beautiful story of Hazel and Augustus and their chance meeting at a cancer support group - and the relationship that develops because of that chance meeting!  You could empathize with their struggles with their health, their hopes for a full and rich future and yet see their angst as two teens falling in love.  I was touched by the story - it was well-written and stirring.  I would highly recommend it - although I hesitate to say gung-ho, have all of your teens read it.  I would caution that there are some things that I am not sure I'd want my teens to read in their early years - so I will throw that out there.  I enjoy a good love story and this one had that - the tragedy is very real but so is the humor - it was a wonderful balance.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Lone Wolf

Yes, I do think Jodi Picoult is a wonderful writer and yes, I do wait expectantly for her upcoming novels - so might this be a bit biased??  Maybe!  Once again, her latest novel, Lone Wolf, was a story that was told marvelously and was a topic that created conflicting emotions.  It is a tough story of a brother and sister torn apart as to what to do with their dying father - should they discontinue life support or continue to let him stay on support and see if his body takes over.  I love how Picoult tells her stories from all different narrators - it gives such a unique aspect to her novels.  And you come to feel for each character as you hear their stories from their viewpoint.  I thought the novel was also interesting as it centers around their father's lifelong love of wolves.  He actually has lived with wolves and so much of the story tells how wolves behave and live - intriguing, I thought, and such an interesting fit with the novel's ups and downs as well.

What I didn't like about the book?  Usually with a Picoult book, I'd say NOTHING!  But with this one I was really disappointed in the ending - I felt it was anti-climactic.  Usually when she ends - I am blown away and thinking, "I never saw this coming!"  But I did not feel that way in this novel - it seemed predictable to me and in that - I was maybe just disappointed.  I thought the ending was ok - it resolved itself and was a fine ending - but not the Picoult kick I am used to!

Friday, April 06, 2012

Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns

Sometimes I get SO many books to review that I can hardly keep up.  SO when a co-worker showed interest in blogging and asked for tips - I didn't have many tips, but I did have some books to share!  She gladly took them and wrote her own reviews of which I am quite proud and wanted to pass them along to you.  She has a great blog and if you are looking for new book suggestions - she is a great spot!!

Over A Steaming Cup of Tea - Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Dinosaur Pet

Kids love pet books - especially FUN pets - like dinosaurs!!  Dinosaur Pet is a children's book taken from Marc Sedaka's song lyrics, with an accompanying CD sung by Neil Sekaka, and illustrated by Tim Bowers - yep, it is quite the team and it makes for such a fun book.  And I am afraid this one must come with a warning - if you read it to your children, BEWARE, they WILL want a dinosaur for a pet!!  And how do I know this?  Because after I read it even I wanted one!!

*I was sent a copy by the publisher for review purposes.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

No Go Sleep!

As an adult I do wonder why children ever fight sleep!  :)  But after having 5 of my own children, I know it is true and this story will resonate with children everywhere.  Bedtime can be a fight!  So Kate and Jules Feiffer have teamed up and written and illustrated No Go Sleep!  which just makes me want to smile.  It will be a classic for moms and dads everywhere as they chuckle at the antics this little guy pulls when it is bedtime.  But it is a sweet lullaby as the story shows how all of the animals outside are wishing him a wonderful sleep as well.  I loved this one - truly a sweet bedtime story!

*I was sent a copy for review purposes by the publisher.

Monday, April 02, 2012

When You Are Camping

It is the time of year - that time when you begin to think about when you will be camping!!  And that is what makes Anne Lee's book, When You Are Camping, so much fun!  I don't think she's left out one fun thing about camping!  It is a fun read that explores the joys of camping and makes us all remember why camping is so much fun!  The illustrations are simple with the water color feel that gives a dreamy aura.  This one will be fun to share with our kids when we are dreaming of camping season!!

*I was sent a copy by the publisher for review purposes.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Monkey's Friends

Ruth Brown's latest, Monkey's Friends, is a picture book that I think you will want to share with your kids!  This is a fun read-aloud romp!  You get to talk about jungle animals and, at the same time, use your rhyming skills AND make fun guesses with your kids as you read.  This book has so many great things going for it - and yes, the boys will LOVE it too!!

*I was sent a copy of this book for review purposes by the publisher.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Mouse & Lion

Rand Burkert's Mouse & Lion is stunning.  This picture book takes Aesop's duo - mouse and lion - and brings them together again in a story that will capture children of all ages.  It is truly a masterpiece - the illustrations, by Nancy Ekholm Burkert, are so real - they capture the detail of nature and add to the stunning quality of this book.  This is a new picture book NOT TO MISS!  I keep opening it and looking at it again and again - it REALLY is that good!

*I was sent a copy for review purposes by the publisher.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Big Girls/Boys Go Potty

Marianne Richmond is ALWAYS a favorite author in my book - so when I saw these luscious little picture books come in the mail - I knew I was in for a treat!  I remember wishing for more options of books to read with my kids when I was working on potty training and there was not much out there.  These books, Big Girls Go Potty and Big Boys Go Potty, are perfect for reading to your little one to encourage them to use the potty!!  Don't miss these sweet books - the illustrations are wonderful too!

*I was sent review copies by the publisher.

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