A New Book from Julie Klassen

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I am a long time fan of author Julie Klassen. I have read every book she has written with the exception of The Silent Governess. My favorites include The Secret of Pembrooke Park, The Girl in the Gatehouse, and The Painter’s Daughter.  Klassen’s new novel, The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill, is a bit different than her prior novels. I can’t say that it will make my list of favorites, but it could be a start to an interesting series.

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill isn’t so much about a single character but about an entire town with a focus on a number of characters.  If you follow period dramas and novels, I would liken the setting to Lark Rise to Candleford with hints of Jane Austen and even the Mitford Series by Jan Karon. Klassen discloses these as inspiration in her Author’s Notes, but I assumed so as I read…especially because of a character named Sir Timothy (Lark Rise to Candleford).

Of all the characters Klassen writes about in this novel, my least favorite was Thora who gets quite a bit of page time. I am pretty sure she was meant to be more like a Dorkus (Lark Rise again) but I couldn’t shake the image of Harriet Olsen from Little House on the Prairie.  Thora is a tough middle aged woman who lacks any gentility and was difficult to pull for in the story. My favorite character, Jane, didn’t get as much page time as Thora. Well, at least it felt that way.  The book begins with Jane and her current predicament of widowhood, looming debt, and an Inn she never really had much to with that is now hers to run. This novel is not about Jane finding love again, or being rescued by anyone but herself.  I’ll admit that I am a sucker for romantic historical fiction and because all romance in this book belongs to Thora…I struggled.

I will read the next book in this series, with hope that I will see some closure for characters I feel like I have come to know. Klassen is still one of my favorite authors, this just wasn’t my favorite book. It took me longer than usual to get through, but I did finish.  I would encourage you to read The Painter’s Daughter to really get why Klassen is such an amazing writer. She really is top notch.  I was given a complimentary copy of this title by its publisher. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions and thoughts are my own and I have not been compensated.

Skinnytaste Fast and Slow, a Review

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skinny-taste

 

I am a long-time raving fan of Gina Homolka, the author and blogger of skinnytaste.com.  In a frantic search for dinner ideas a few years ago I stumbled upon her blog and new instantly I had hit the jackpot. I love Gina’s recipes for many reasons including their simplicity, flavors, and fresh takes on old favorites. If you aren’t familiar with Gina and skinnytaste.com, it’s time to visit her blog and be blown away by the endless dinner ideas and meal plans!

To say that I was excited to get my copy of skinny taste Fast and Slow,  would be the understatement of the year. First of all, this cookbook is beautiful. The pictures inside are lovely and definitely inspire me to cook everything in the book! Secondly, the cookbook is well organized, with sections devoted to healthy mornings, one-bowl meals, to meatless mains and so much more. Each recipe also has a key (just like her blog) labeling it quick, pressure cooker, slow cooker, vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, and/or freezer-friendly. Every recipe has nutrition information and well thought out instructions.

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Because I am long time fan, I have already tested and tried a few of the recipes in this skinnytate Fast and Slow. I have made Gina’s Avocado Toast, Lasagna Soup (ah-mazing), and One-Pot Pasta and Broccoli. Last night I made her Pasta e Fagioli.  I am embarrassed to admit that I love the Olive Garden for this particular soup. If I am there, Pasta e Fagioli is what I eat.  I love Gina’s take on this classic soup because it is light and healthy.

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It so happens I had company last night and I made the soup two ways. One of my guests has a disease that requires her to eat vegan with no animal fat or any fat of any kind.  You can find Gina’s recipe here. I made her version with one exception. I added my basil to the blender with the beans so my kids wouldn’t detect it and I wouldn’t have to chop it.  For my vegan friend, I cooked the onion and garlic in a little bit of water instead of oil and omitted the Parmesan cheese rind. (which by the way does something amazing to the soup. I love so many of Gina’s recipes.This one will become part of my regular dinner menus because my kids ate it with gusto and asked for seconds!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books. I was not obligated to give this book a positive review. However, in all honestly, I would have purchased this book if I had not received a review copy! It is a cookbook worth its shelf space.

The Lord’s Prayer & Rick Warren

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I love this simple and lovely children’s book published by Zonderkidz. It is the Lord’s Prayer written in the King James Version, which is the version most of us would have memorized as children. Also included with each line of the prayer is a simple explanation of the verse written for children by Rick Warren.

This book is appropriate for children ages birth (it is never to early to start reading to your kids!) to five or six years.  The cover is hardback and I would call this a board book. The pages are not paper but board. Inside, the illustrations are muted in color. The children pictured on each page appear real to life and are different ethnicities and varied ages. I love this book as a Christmas present for a baby or toddler on your list. It would definitely be treasured by the family that receives it.

I was given a complimentary copy of this book by its publisher. I was not obligated to give it a positive review and all my opinions are own. I was interested in this particular book because of its content and the contribution of Rick Warren.

Do Grown-ups Color?

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everything-is-beautiful

 

Do grown-ups color? I know they paint and sculpt, but do they really color…in coloring books? I will be the first to admit that when my kids were young enough to have coloring books, I would color with them. There is something relaxing about it. My two boys rarely color anything unless compelled to for a school project I have seen adult coloring books in stores recently and I have been more than a little tempted.

My interest was definitely piqued when I saw this amazing book by Waterbrook. Not only are the pages filled with beautiful design, but also with Bible verses and inspirational quotes. Some of my favorites include:

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 

Psalms 30:5 Rejoicing comes in the morning. 

“When in awesome wonder, Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made.” – Stuart K. Hine

And a sample for you:

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Yes, I think grown-ups can color! These images are beautiful and would look lovely around my house. (Provided I stay in the lines!) This book would be perfect for a daily quite time, a road trip, waiting on appointments, as a gift, or even for relaxing before bed as long as you are not OCD.

I counted 45 lovely pictures to color. Each picture is on card-stock type thick paper. On the back of each picture is the verse and reference or quote and author. These can definitely be framed. I received a complimentary copy of this book by its publisher. As a bonus, the publisher has included a soundtrack in the back of the book via Spotify  to enjoy as you color!  I was not required to give it a positive review!

I had a hard time finding it on amazon, so click here to find it!

A Devotional from Francine Rivers!

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The book I recommend first to those who ask is Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. It is my go to, must read for anyone who wants to read for enjoyment and substance.  I have yet to find someone disappointed with the book. Francine Rivers is a  gifted writer and ANYTHING she has written is well worth the read. Earth Psalms by Francine Rivers with Karen Stock Buursma is the same kind of wonderful.

Earth Psalms  is a weekly devotional, one for each week in a year. Each devotional includes beautiful pictures, writing from Rivers, an opportunity to reflect, apply what you have read, and connect with God. A few of the weeks really stood out to me personally. Number Forty-three, Letting God Be the Judge, encourages us to know that when we encounter people, we are only seeing part of who they are. People are like icebergs, and not everything about them can be seen. Week Forty reminds us the importance of staying in God’s word. In this week, I loved River’s illustration of the flamingo. Flamingo’s color comes from the food they eat. Pink flamingos get their color from pink shrimp. However, some flamingos are white from dining on small fish and frogs. Our diet of scripture, or lack there of is often obvious in our actions and attitudes.

I was so excited to get my copy of Earth Psalms. Francine Rivers is a personal favorite of mine and I knew this devotional would be lovely. Earth Psalms would make a lovely Christmas gift, birthday gift, or get well gift. I received a complimentary copy of this book by its publisher. I was not required to give it a positive review.

Great Christmas Gift!

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brave-girls

 

I love this devotional for girls! It is the perfect gift for any young girl in your life. Not only is the cover appealing, but the pages inside are helpful and on target for the day to day struggles. This devotional is written by Jennifer Gerelds and Tama Fortner. It is part of a series published by Tommy Nelson centered around the Brave Girls including a Brave Girls Bible and other devotional books.

First let me say that I love the cover of this book! These girls (although cartoon) are beautiful and different.  They don’t all look and dress the same. In the introduction we get to meet each girl. Hope is a bit of a tomboy who likes to play football and dress up. Glory sees beauty all around her. Honor is super smart but feels out of place. Gracie is a new kid who had to leave her friends behind and make new ones. Faith is homeschooled which makes her different from all the girls.

Once you get into the meat of this 365 day devotional, you quickly see that the writers strive to include situations that are real to young girls. For example, being nervous about a test at school or an upcoming softball game, how to be a good friend, and even the right way to use the internet and social media. It is difficult for me to say what the appropriate age is for this devotional. If I had to put a range, I would say 6-10. My kids aren’t allowed on social media, but they tend to be the exception.

I was given a complimentary copy of this book by the publisher. I was not required to give it a positive review. All opinions are my own.

 

A Prince Edward Island Novel!

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where-two-hearts-meet

 

Where Two Hearts Meet  was an absolutely delightful book that I am so glad I took a chance on. I often feel great apprehension choosing a book by an author I haven’t read. Where Two Hearts Meet is the second book in debut author Liz Johnson’s new series, Prince Edward Island Dreams. It is a guaranteed good read and worth your reading time and dollars!

If I were being honest, I would admit that choosing Where Two Hearts Meet had much to do with the location of the novel!  As a lifelong fan of Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, Prince Edward Island is one of those magical places I would love to visit…and maybe even live. Johnson captures the nostalgia and intrigue of the island in this book!

Where Two Hearts Meet is the story Caden Holt, Rose’s Red Door Inn Executive Chef. Caden is a beautiful girl with real cooking talent and a heart of gold. When the Inn falls under financial strain, Caden looks for every opportunity to help. The Inn’s owners ask Caden to escort a travel writer, Adam Jacobs, around the island in hopes he will write a glowing review of the island and of the Inn. Reluctantly Caden agrees and finds herself with an uninvited guest in not only her kitchen, but her heart.

I am excited to find another author I love to read. What I love most about Johnson is the uniqueness of her writing. She seems to be outside of everyone’s box and formula. Where Two Hearts Meet is refreshing! I was given a complimentary copy of this book from its publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions are my own.

Book Review: Wild Montana Skies

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What I love about every Susan May Warren book I read is her uncanny ability to draw me into a story immediately. In her novels, there is never a hump to get over. You know, the endless stream of details the reader has to get through to get to the story. Warren drops her reader right into the story! Wild Montana Skies is a delightful novel that feels like watching a favorite movie. From the very beginning I was in all the way.

Wild Montana Skies is book one in Susan May Warren’s new Montana Rescue series. I am a big fan of Warren’s and this book lives up to her usual greatness. In this novel, the main story involves two people once in love returning to their home town. They are brought back together by a local emergency and a one tie that can’t be easily broken.  Warren also begins the story of another pair…but leaves us hanging! I do hope that she picks up the story in book 2, Rescue Me. I will be looking forward to it!

I was given a complimentary copy of this book by its publisher, Revell. I was not required to give this book a positive review, or compensated in any way. I recommend this book to both readers young and old. Warren tells a clean love story that is appropriate for girls in their late teens as well as adult readers.

Fantastic NEW Parenting Book!

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raising-an-original

 

I am a parenting book junkie. As my children grow and move from stage to stage, I am constantly looking for answers to help me navigate the new waters. It has been a long time since I have read such a helpful book. I have already recommended this book to many friends! In fact, there is currently a wait list to borrow my copy. My suggestion is to just buy your own copy…you will highlight as you read and you will want to keep this book!

There are many parenting books at your local bookstore. Raising an Original  is different because it looks at the make-up of your children. They are all so different and one parenting style isn’t going to cover it! In Part II of Raising an Original, author Julie Lyles Carr addresses common parenting pitfalls. My favorite chapter in this section was Carr’s treatment of fear-based parenting. I am often quick to helicopter to protect. I laughed as  I read this chapter because I find myself doing some of the very things she names.

The best part of Raising an Original is the 4-Style Personality Traits Assessment Tool included in Part III. Basically, Carr has included a DISC profile for your kids!! My husband and I sat down and took the assessment for both of our boys. The results were enlightening. I truly feel better equipped to handle the day to day obstacles in parenting my unique children!

I was given a complimentary copy of this book by its publisher. I am not required to give this title a positive review and I have not been compensated in any way. I do whole-heartedly recommend this book for all the parents out there who need some fresh advice! This book does include Christian principals and scripture references.

Book Review: 5-Minute Bedtime Treasury

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I love this 5-minute bedtime devotional from Really Woolly by Bonnie Rickner Jensen. My kids have watched Really Woolly cartoons and read Really Woolly since they were little. The sweet sheep always have a good message. I love the soft colors and big type in this delightful book. I also love the idea of spending a few minutes before bed with your kids. Those times with my own children are always my favorite.

The 5 Minute Bedtime Treasury is a big book. It’s size and color are appealing to the eyes. Inside you will find thirty, beautifully illustrated 5-minute devotionals. Each devotional covers a different topic like “You can Talk to God,” “Love One Another,” and “Have a Thankful Heart.” Each devotional contains a scripture, a poem of sorts, and a short prayer. Month after month, you can begin again and before long, your child will begin to know the verses and poems by heart. By this way, this is a tremendous help with early reading skills. My youngest son learned by this kind of repetition.

I think this devotional is the perfect Christmas gift for any family with a new baby. It is a gift that will be used and loved. I was given a complimentary copy of this book by its publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I am not required to give a positive review. I have not been compensated in any way.