Sunday, December 6, 2015

Book Review: Andi Under Pressure

Book Description

Twelve-year-old Andora ‘Andi’ Boggs and her new best friend Colin Carter couldn’t be more excited to attend the prestigious science camp at the local university in Killdeer, Ohio. Unfortunately, Discovery Camp’s curriculum appears to include much more than just chemistry and biology. From day one, the university is plagued by a series of pranks—missing markers, loose crickets, and stolen scales. Campus security blames the mysterious janitor Polk, but even though Andi agrees he’s acting suspicious, she can’t believe the gentle old man would do anything illegal. Then one prank goes too far and their chemistry professor is injured by an explosion in the lab, upping the stakes of the investigation. Andi and Colin must unravel the secrets behind the chemistry department and Polk’s dark past before danger closes the camp for good.

Book Review:
I am always looking for new books for my 12 year old daughter to read and enjoy.  I gave her this one hoping she would.  She loves mysteries and spy stuff.  She really did enjoy the book and read it quite quickly.  She loved that it was a series and we are definitely going to order more from Andi's adventures.  The book is clean and not full of stuff that I don't want my daughter reading or dwelling on.  It is similar to the Nancy Drew series in my opinion.  I definitely recommend this book and the entire series for your young daughter.

I received this book for free in exchange for my honest opinion.  

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Book Review: Another Way Home

Another Way Home
Another Way Home (Abingdon Press, October 2015)
Sometimes God’s ways are not at all what we expect . . . and exactly what we need.
Grant and Audrey are adding grandchildren to their family left and right, but middle daughter, Danae, and her husband, Dallas Brooks, have been trying for years with no baby in sight.
Though Danae is ready to consider adoption, Dallas will not even discuss it. Despairing of ever having a family of her own, Danae decides to pour her passion and energies into volunteer work with a newly opened women’s shelter in town. Looking for a good cause to fill her lonely days, she never expects to give her heart to the hurting women she meets there. She’s finally learning to live her life with gratitude, but then heart-wrenching events on Thanksgiving weekend threaten to pull the entire Whitman clan into turmoil—and leave them all forever changed.

Deborah Raney
Deborah Raney’s books have won numerous awards, including the RITA, National Readers Choice Award, HOLT Medallion, and the Carol Award, and have twice been Christy Award finalists. She and her husband, Ken, recently traded small-town life in Kansas—the setting of many of Deborah’s novels—for life in the (relatively) big city of Wichita, where they enjoy gardening, antiquing, movies, and traveling to visit four children and a growing brood of grandchildren who all live much too far away.

My Review: 
Who doesn't want to live where the cover shows?  This is the third book in the series and I did not read the other books.  I think that it would have helped, but it was not necessary by any means.  I might go back to read the previous 2 now that I have read and enjoyed this one.  The story line is one that many people can relate to in one way or another.  I found it very easy to see myself in the story and it was completely captivating.  I wanted to keep reading to see how God would work things out in the story.  If you are looking for a great, easy to pick up read I definitely recommend this book.
I received this book for free in exchange for my honest opinion.  

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Book Review: Against the Grain (cookbook)

Revolutionary all-natural recipes for gluten-free cooking--from the owner of Against the Grain Gourmet.

Nancy Cain came to gluten-free cooking simply enough: Her teenage son was diagnosed with celiac disease. After trying ready-made baking mixes and finding the results rubbery and tasteless, she pioneered gluten-free foods made entirely from natural ingredients--no xanthan or guar gums or other mystery chemical additives allowed. That led her to adapt many of her family's favorite recipes, including their beloved pizzas, pastas, and more, to this real food technique. In Against the Grain,Nancy finally shares 200 groundbreaking recipes for achieving airy, crisp breads, delicious baked goods, and gluten-free main dishes.
     For any of these cookies, cakes, pies, sandwiches, and casseroles, you use only natural ingredients such as buckwheat flour, brown rice flour, and ripe fruits and vegetables. Whether you're making Potato Rosemary Bread, iced Red Velvet Cupcakes, Lemon-Thyme-Summer Squash Ravioli, or Rainbow Chard and Kalamata Olive Pizza, you'll be able to use ingredients already in your pantry or easily found at your local supermarket.
     With ample information for gluten-free beginners and 100 colorful photographs, this book is a game changer for gluten-free households everywhere.

My Review:

I have a gluten intolerance so when I saw this book as one to choose to review I jumped on it.  Although my family seems to handle gluten just fine, it is easier to make everything similar and it is also an opportunity to take out unnecessary gluten (and usually unhealthy) filled foods at the same time.  This book is beautiful, which I really appreciate in a cookbook.  The recipes have been about 70% able to be duplicated.  Cooking or really more baking gluten free is not the easiest thing to transition to.  Overall, I am very happy having this resource in my home and love the ideas I get from it.  

I received this book for free in exchange for my honest opinion.  

Book Review: The Ology

The_Ology_cover final - PK
Help your kids understand who God is in The Ology by Marty Machowski, a beginners’ theology book great for kids of all ages. In the cellar of the old stone cathedral, Carla and Timothy uncover a life-changing treasure, a carefully wrapped ancient book known as The Ology. What adults might describe as a beautifully illustrated storybook of systematic theology, the kids discover to be a story of adventure, mystery, and wonder that leads them to the truth about God, themselves, and the world around them.


The Ology: Ancient Truths Ever New (New Growth Press, October 2015)
A page-turning storybook of theology for kids
In the cellar of the old stone cathedral, Carla and Timothy uncover a life-changing treasure, a carefully wrapped ancient book known as The Ology. What adults might describe as a beautifully illustrated storybook of systematic theology, the kids discover to be a story of adventure, mystery, and wonder that leads them to the truth about God, themselves, and the world around them.
Truth is for kids, not just for adults! So The Ology gives kids of all ages a beginner’s theology book to help them understand who God is and how we, as his children, relate to him. Arranged within a traditional systematic theological framework, each truth in The Ology is also connected to the larger redemptive story of Scripture. The doctrine of God, for example, is presented in the larger framework of creation, where the attributes of God are more clearly on display. The Ology takes abstract theological concepts and makes them easier to understand with the use of creative examples, illustrations, and analogies. The goal is not to say everything that could be said about a theological topic, but rather to share the key thoughts behind a theological concept. The Ology is a starting point to learning theology and aims to create a hunger and desire in children to learn more as they grow older.
Designed for six-year-olds through preteens, this flexible resource includes built-in adaptations for use with younger or older children, so that entire families can enjoy it together. Read The Ology to preschoolers, read it with grade-school kids, and let older kids discover the “hidden” truths by reading the corresponding Scripture passages for each section. However you read it, The Ology will give your children a gift that will last a lifetime—a solid foundation of life-changing biblical truth that will point them to the God who loves them and gave himself for them.
A companion The Ology CD from Bob Kauflin and Sovereign Music is also available.
Marty Machowski


Marty Machowski is a Family Life Pastor at Covenant Fellowship Church in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, where he has served on the pastoral staff for over twenty years. He is the author of the Gospel Story for Kids series, which includes “The Gospel Story Bible,” “Long Story Short,” “Old Story New,” and the “Gospel Story Curriculum,” as well as the Advent devotional and curriculum “Prepare Him Room.” He and his wife, Lois, and their six children reside in West Chester, Pennsylvania.
Find out more about Marty at

My Review:
This book is beautiful!  This book is designed for children six through preteens and I cannot wait to read it with my littlest one when she gets a bit older.  The beginning is written in story form with the intent to rope a child into the book.  The rest of the book is written mostly in Bible study form, but at a level that is enjoyable for children in that age range.  It is such a treasure to have in our house now and can definitely be used a resource to refer back to when needed or desired, not only as a great story book!

I received this book for free in exchange for my honest opinion.  

Friday, April 3, 2015

Le-Vel's Thrive and an Announcement

So I was doing the Le-Vel 8 week Thrive challenge and I was loving every minute of it! 
 I had tons of energy.  
I woke up happy and ready to live my crazy life.
 I wanted to workout and continue to workout once I already was.  
I had lost 10 pounds in 14 days.  
I was making better eating choices.
I was in love with my Thrive.

Change of Subject.... to some girly stuff :)

I don't ever get my period.  I have PCOS.  So since I had my last daughter 20 months ago, I had one period that I induced with an essential oil called Sclaressence.  I used it just like you would use birth control to regulate your period.  That was in November.  I was pretty sure that month I ovulated.  I also gained 7 pounds in the 8 days I used it so I didn't do it again until February, which according to my first ultrasound was when I conceived! 

So, because I don't get my period, I randomly take pregnancy tests because I feel like it's the responsible thing to do.  I need to know so I can put better, more, less, etc of certain things in my body.  

The Wednesday before last I took a test.  You know when you take tests every month or so and you think there might be a little chance you get so crushed when it's negative.  Devastated.  This time, I really, truly thought there was no way, but I was ok with that.  I knew I was getting in better shape and I knew that our time would come again in a couple months.  

Wellll.... I'm sure you can guess.... POSITIVE!!  

And I always think I'm going to hold it in and announce things so wonderfully creative and fun to my family, but I can rarely keep it in.  The closest I got was with Paisley where I made Kassidy a shirt that said Big Sister and showed it to her and Mike. 

Back to Thrive....

I need to check with my dr about taking it.  There's not really anything in it that worries me so I'm pretty sure I'll be cleared just like I've heard other women are.  
My biggest pregnancy symptom is complete exhaustion.... like the world could be on fire and all I want is to take a nap!!  But, guess what?!  I didn't have any of that exhaustion until I stopped taking my Thrive.  So I am really, really, really hoping that I can start to take the pills again.... after all it is just a vitamin and probiotic.  (all natural, non-gmo in case you were wondering :)

Book Review: Halo Found Hope

Halo Found Hope (December 2014)
Machines beeping, the blur of medical staff running, a crash cart whizzing into an ICU room—was there any hope?
A young woman lay, packed in ice, as doctors attempted to somehow stop the swelling in her brain that threatened to take her life… and her family waited.
Six days turned into eight weeks. She awoke to discover that she was not the same. She saw two of everything, couldn’t feel half of her face, couldn’t hear from one ear, and could not speak. She couldn’t even tell anyone that she felt hopeless… or could she?
Halo Found Hope is the story of a beautiful, busy wife, and mother of three whose life changes instantly with the diagnosis of a rare brain tumor. An exceptional ENT, a brilliant neurosurgeon and a dedicated medical team tackle the tumor, setting off a series of unbelievable miracles. Helo’s story is not one of survival, or of salvaging a life through a broken body. It is not about endurance through pain, but victory because of it. While the family heard her silence, God heard her prayer. Helo’s story is simply this: Wherever you are and whatever you are going through, God is right there. He doesn’t need to be re cognized by you, to be there for you. He can replace fear with courage and discouragement with determination, if you let Him. Helo did, and that is how she found hope.

My Review:
I can often be paranoid about certain things, one of which is having a crazy tumor somewhere and dying while my kids still "need me".  Of course, God knows what they need infinitely more than what I can even imagine.  He has a plan.  So I try to talk myself down from my paranoia.  Helo's story hit me quite hard.  She is a mother.  She is a wife.  Her kids "needed" her.  Helo's story is amazing.  It is the first dramatic book I've read in a long time and I really enjoyed it.  It was so hard to put down as you feel like you are living through her and that her fragile life is yours.  The hope and encouragement gained throughout this book is wonderful.  I recommend this book very much as long as you can have some tissue nearby.

I received this book for free in exchange for my honest opinion.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Book Review: How Many Times Do I Have to Tell You?

About the book: 

How Many Times Do I Have to Tell You? (Apologia Educational Ministries, September 2014) 

You've probably said these things to your kids, but have you listened to what you're saying? 

"I remember the day you were born." 

"Turn down the music!" 

"This is going to hurt me more than it's going to hurt you." 

"Hold my hand." 

Your heavenly Father wants to tell you many of these same things. Rachael Carman knows how noisy it can be when you're raising children---she has seven! But this lovely devotional book will help you to hear God's still, small voice amid the chaos of carpools, cut fingers, and carpet crawlers. You'll learn how to recognize God's instructions for you, even as you seek to follow His example as a parent. 

Purchase a copy:

About the author: 

Rachael Carman is an author and speaker for Apologia Educational Ministries. The wife of Davis and the mother of seven children, Rachael challenges parents to live by reckless, obedient faith. As a direct reflection of her heart's desire to encourage, inspire, and celebrate motherhood, Rachael also leads Real Refreshment Retreats, weekend events that energize and invigorate homeschooling mothers with meaningful worship and speakers plus practical encouragement for the homeschool journey. 

Find Rachael online: websiteTwitterFacebook 

My Review:
There are so many things as parents that we say that we told ourselves we would absolutely, never ever say to our children.  Life is crazy.  Life with kids is even crazier.  Some of the crazy is joyful and wonderful while some of the crazy just makes you go crazy (and not in a good way!).  It is so easy to get caught up in stuff that doesn't matter and lose sight of the goal and the important things.  This book calls us all to take a second, breathe and focus on the bigger picture.  I love that reminders to calm myself in the terrible chaos and focus.  We know what Carman is saying is true and we have those truths deep down but when chaos is erupting it is too easy to forget everything we stand for and hope for.  I highly recommend this book to all moms.  It is a nice read to center yourself on your truths and goals.

I received this book for free in exchange for my honest opinion.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Book Review and Giveaway: Betting on Hope

Saddle up for a new romance from novelist Debra CloptonBetting on HopeIn Wishing Springs, Maggie finds what she has always been looking for: a community and a home. But when her past catches up to her, it threatens everything, even the tender hope that this town holds all of her heart’s desires.

Enter to win a Kindle Fire HD 6 to celebrate the release of Betting on Hope

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • A copy of Betting on Hope
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on March 8th. Winner will be announced March 9th on Debra's blog.



About the book: 

Betting on Hope (Thomas Nelson, February 2015) 

A bet gone wrong. A small town's meddling. And a cowboy intent on saving his ranch. 

Maggie Hope is an advice columnist whose background leaves her with little advice to give . . . and it's beginning to show. When Maggie fills in at an interview with champion horse trainer Tru Monahan, the on-camera chemistry between them is undeniable. Maggie's bosses know this is the opportunity she's been looking for to launch her career---and their bank accounts. In order to save her column, Maggie takes Tru up on the bet that he can teach her to ride a quick-stepping cutting horse like any cowgirl, despite the fact that she has never been on a horse. And in the meantime, she can get the scoop on the man under the cowboy hat. 

Tru has been on the competition circuit for longer than he'd like, but he knows it's the only way he can afford to keep the Four of Hearts Ranch that means so much to his ailing grandfather. So when his sponsors see the opportunity for Tru's fans to get to know the star on a more intimate level, he knows he must oblige. To his dismay, Maggie not only invades his small town of Wishing Springs, but she also invades his heart, and that is something he cannot let any woman do-for her own good. 

In Wishing Springs, Maggie finds what she has always been looking for: a community and a home. But when her past catches up to her, it threatens everything, even the tender hope that this town holds all of her heart's desires. 

Purchase a copy:  

About the author: 

Debra Clopton is a multi-award winning novelist and has written more than 22 novels. Along with writing, Debra helps her husband teach the youth at their local Cowboy Church. Debra's goal is to shine a light toward God while she entertains readers with her words. 

Find Debra online: websiteFacebookTwitter 

My Review:
The cover.  Who wouldn't want to open the book and read a romance between that cowboy and a wonderful woman?  This novel is another great one written by Debra Clopton.  This story contains a lot about life as a cowboy.  It will keep you entertained and make you feel a range of emotions for the characters and their stories.  If you like fun, romance novels with a western twist you should definitely check out this book.  It's so nice to be able to pick up a book and exit reality for a little while.  You can easily pick this book up right where you left off.

I received this book for free in exchange for my honest opinion.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Book Review: Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family

Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family
Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family: Avoiding the 6 Dysfunctional Parenting Styles (David C. Cook, January 2015)
We all want to guide our children into the abundant life that Jesus offers. But when we pursue the more and better that the world offers above our pursuit of Jesus, we fall into dangerous parenting habits. InBecoming a Spiritually Healthy Family, Michelle Anthony unpacks six common dysfunctional parenting styles that we fall into out of habit, lack of attention, or just oversight due to busyness. If you long to show your children Jesus but don’t know how to do it, you’ll find hope in this practical guide to creating a relentlessly grace-filled home that is focused on God as first in charge.
Includes Scripture guides, reflection questions, ideas for family rites of passage, and other real life family examples.

My Review: 
Don't we all want to be a spiritually healthy family?  I don't know anyone who would say no to that!  The subtitle of this book is "Avoiding the 6 Dysfunctional Parenting Styles".  Ummm... yes please to that also!  This book was a wonderful read and is such a welcome addition to our family's book resources.  I love when "family help" books offer practical advice, wisdom and examples.  This book is all about being the example as a leader in your family.  It encourages and inspires you to build your relationship with God so you can be that example.  I highly recommend this book as a great read and also a great addition to your family "tool" books.

I received this book for free in exchange for my honest opinion.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Book Review: The Soup Club Cookbook

Food-sharing is the hot new thing in the "getting dinner on the table" conversation, and in The Soup Club Cookbook, four friends share not only their formula for starting a soup club--which gives you at least three meals every month when you don't have to worry about dinner--but also 150 fantastic recipes for soups and sides and storing tips for stretching those meals across the week.
The Soup Club began when four friends (who, between them, have four husbands and ten hungry kids and several jobs) realized that they didn't actually have to cook at home every night to take pleasure in a home-cooked meal. They simply had to join forces and share meals, even if they weren't actually eating them together. Caroline, Courtney, Julie, and Tina happen to be neighbors, but a soup club is for anyone: colleagues, a group of workout buddies, a book club. All you need are a few people who simply want to have more home-cooked food in their lives.

In a soup club each person takes a turn making soup--and sometimes other dishes for sides or for when everyone needs a break from soup, so if a club has four people, in a month each person will have dinner delivered three times--a dish that can start as a full meal and stretch into more dinners or lunches or even morph into a sauce. Soup is forgiving, versatile, and perfect for sharing; it can be spiced to taste, topped elaborately or not at all, and dressed up or down. It travels well and reheats beautifully.  The Soup Club Cookbook also has dozens of tips for cooking in quantity and for tailoring soup to individual tastes and needs. Here, too, are simple guidelines for starting your own soup club, anecdotes, and a few cautionary tales  that will inspire anyone to share food and eat well. 
Recipes include quick and easies, classics, twist on favorites, and dozens of flavor-rich new crowd pleasers:  

   * Carrot Coconut and Chicken Chili, 
   * Senegalese Peanut Soup 
   * Faux Ramen 
   * Red Lentil Curry Soup 
   * Potato Cheddar Soup 
   * Sun Dried Tomato Soup 
   * Jeweled Rice Salad 
   * Cheddar Cornbread, 
   * Summer Corn Hash 
   * Soy Simmered Chicken Wings

My Review:
This is my new favorite cookbook!  I love the way it is written... like a conversation between 4 friends.  The recipes include so much more than just soups.  They added in sides to go with the soups, salads, and pastas.  Each of the friends also added in tidbits of what toppings or seasonings they added to each of the soups.  I really cannot get enough of this book.  I could have sat and read the whole entire thing like a novel, which I've never said about a cookbook before.  I highly recommend this book (obviously)!

I received this book for free in exchange for my honest opinion.