Saturday, April 12, 2014

A New Phase - Sports!

Today my mom and I drove all around and purchased all the needed supplies and equipment for Malachi to start soccer! I signed him up for a 5 week session of soccer with a local organization. He informed me he would rather play football, but I said that it's not football season, so he'd have to be happy for soccer....

I think buying all the new stuff today made him really excited to start though. He got new cleats, socks, shin guards and a new pair of shorts and shirt. He's supposed to get a team shirt and a soccer ball for signing up. I wish I could post the picture I took of him when we got home today... he had to try it all on and see how it made him run fast! Oh! Plus I learned something new... apparently WalMart carries cleats. Who knew? $8! Sounds pretty good for something he's going to wear about a dozen times before he outgrows them.

Some of his little friends started playing last year... at 3- and 4-years-old. That's all fine and good, but I just wasn't ready. Not that I wasn't ready because I didn't think he was old enough, but I just knew that once IT started (meaning sports), they would probably never end. This will most likely be our lives for the next 15 years, so I was purposely putting it off. I could probably put it off for another summer, but I think he's ready.

And a commitment it is! It's two nights a week for five weeks. That seems like a lot - plus it doesn't start until 6pm! Is it just me or does that seem late? My poor Zachary is going to be ready for bed by the time we get home those nights! Ah well... I'm sure I'll get used to it and they'll be cute out there while playing.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Book Review: A Broken Kind of Beautiful by Katie Ganshert

Book Details
Title: A Broken Kind of Beautiful
Author: Katie Ganshert
2014, Waterbrook Press
ISBN: 978-1-60142-590-4
Genre: Contemporary Christian Fiction

Book Summary
Sometimes everything you ever learned about yourself is wrong.

Fashion is a fickle industry, a frightening fact for twenty-four-year-old model Ivy Clark. Ten years in and she's learned a sacred truth - appearance is everything. Nobody cares about her broken past as long as she looks beautiful for the camera. This is the only life Ivy knows - so when it starts to unravel, she'll do anything to hold on. Even if that means moving to the quaint island town of Greenbrier, South Carolina, to be the new face of her stepmother's bridal wear line - an irony too rich for words, since Ivy is far from the pure bride in white.

If only her tenuous future didn't rest in the hands of Davis Knight, her mysterious photographer. Not only did he walk away from the kind of success Ivy longs for to work maintenance at a local church, he treats her differently than any man ever has. Somehow, Davis sees through the facade she works so hard to maintain. In fact, it seems that everyone Ivy comes across in Greenbrier challenges what she as come to believe about beauty and worth. Is it possible that God sees her - a woman stained and broken by the world - yet wants her still?

My Review
What an amazing book! I wasn't really sure I was going to enjoy this book after reading the back cover, but this book kept my attention all the way through! And isn't the cover beautiful?

This is a contemporary novel set in South Carolina. The author did a wonderful job of giving me an idea of the landscape without it detracting from the story itself. The story is told from the POV of Ivy, Davis and occasionally Marilyn, Ivy's stepmom. 

This book is full of twist and turns. There are some great secondary characters. Marilyn, whose husband had an affair and fathered a child (Ivy) with that "other woman". Marilyn is childless herself and causes a great conflict between everyone when Ivy shows up.  Then there is Davis's sister, Sara. Sara had an accident several years ago that left her blind. Despite her injury, Sara is a wonderful example of a woman of faith and is able to share that with Ivy when the two become friends.  Then there is Bruce - Ivy's agent. Through those scenes are when the reader gets a glimpse of the cut-through fashion world.

I don't want to give away too many details, but I would like to say that this book felt very realistic to me. The thoughts and emotions the characters expressed did not feel contrived. They all had hurts and different ways of dealing with them. Each a a different kind of relationship with God.

There was also some mystery to each of their lives that the author very gently unraveled as the story went on. I found myself looking forward to discovering what each of them was hiding or how something was going to work out in the end. 

This is my second book I've read by this author and I think she has me hooked. I would probably read anything she published at this point. 

Release Date: April 15, 2014

More Info
Author's website
Author's Facebook
Read Chapter One

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this  book from Waterbrook Press through the Blogging for Books program for my honest review. No other compensation was received and all thoughts and opinions are strictly my own.

Quick update

I still haven't gotten myself a new computer - which is why I'm still only basically posting book reviews. One of these days....

We've been pretty busy around here lately. At the moment, both of my boys are sick with some nasty bug, which means we are staying home and watching movies and I'm doing millions of loads of laundry... unfortunately. I'm praying I don't catch whatever they have - yuck. Anyway... since they're moving kinda slow today (the 5-year-old is currently sleeping!!) I thought I'd take the opportunity to write a little post.

We celebrated Malachi's 5th birthday party on March 22nd. I can't believe my boy is FIVE! He wanted a Seahawks themed party, so we served Game Day food and he wore his jersey. It was fun. His big gift from us was a new bike. It's SO big. 

We are trying to make decisions on school for Fall, which has been a bit stressful. I want Malachi to attend a public school Montessori school in our area. The complicated part though? We're out of the school district. I was all prepared to use my parents address to give him a higher chance of getting in, but I just couldn't bring myself to lie. If it had been a situation where we were just trying to switch to another regular school in a different district, I think I would have been fine. Since it's by priority though, I felt like I was cheating and decided that if he was really meant to be in that school, it didn't matter where he was on the list, he'd get in. Well.... he's currently on the waiting list. They say there is a lot of movement over the spring and summer, so I guess I'll just have to keep my fingers crossed and if he doesn't get it - well - then it wasn't meant to be. The school in our neighborhood is supposed to be fairly good. Maybe he is just meant to go there. =)

Zach is currently crawling like a crazy-kid. He's into everything. He likes to get in all my cupboards and do things that Malachi never got into. We're still going to physical therapy every couple months, but I think he is definitely making good progress. Maybe he'll walk by his 2nd birthday if I'm lucky! 

His vocabulary is also growing steadily and that's always a fun stage. He's always pointing and saying "look!" everywhere we go. His new thing is that he waves to all "doggies". When we take walks or just see people around town with dogs he waves to the dog - not necessarily to the people. Ha! A veterinarian in our future maybe?

Okay... well,  that's it for the day, I guess. Got to get back to these sickies. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Book Review: Tide and Tempest by Elizabeth Ludwig

Book Details
Title: Tide and Tempest
Author: Elizabeth Ludwig
Series: Edge of Freedom #3
2014, Bethany House Publishers
ISBN: 9780764210419
Genre: Christian Historical Fiction

Book Summary
Two years ago, her fiancé perished during their voyage to America
Now she discovers it may have been murder …

Dreaming of a better life, Tillie McGrath leaves Ireland behind and, with her beloved fiancé by her side, sets sail for America. But when illness robs her of the man she holds dear, she’s left alone with only a handful of tattered memories. While forging on proves difficult, Tillie soon finds some new friends at her New York boardinghouse, and begins pursuing a new dream – to open a home for orphaned children.

Despite two years passing, Captain Keondric Morgan has never forgotten the lass who left his ship so heartbroken. When a crewman’s deathbed confession reveals her fiance’s demise was the result of murder, the captain knows he must try to contact her. But his attention draws the notice of others as well – dangerous men who believe Tillie has in her possession something that could expose their crimes. And to their way of thinking, the best way to prevent such an outcome is to seize the evidence and then hand Tillie the same fate as her naïve fiancé.

My Review
I was excited to read this novel. It is the first, I think, that I’ve read by this author. The title and the cover of the book looked intriguing. This is the 3rd book in a series, Edge of Freedom, and I have not read the previous two titles. I felt that this book could stand alone. I’m not sure if they are meant to go together or not, but I felt like this was a stand alone novel.

The setting of this novel is in New York City. This book is told from the perspective of Tille McGrath, Captain Morgan and some of the villians. There are many other notable secondary characters – most prominent is Cass Morgan, the captain’s younger brother. Many of the others are resident’s at Tillie’s boardinghouse. They add a lot to the story.

This book moved a little slow for me – but I think it might have just been me. There were quite a few twists and turns in this novel to keep it interesting. Although the romance seemed fairly predictable, the story of Tille’s fiancés death was shadowy the whole way through. I wasn’t sure how that portion of the story was going to resolve itself - or who was involved - until the end.

Overall a very good read. Interesting and well-written and the characters were intelligent and thoughtful. 

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers for my honest review. No other compensation was received and all thoughts and opinions are strictly my own.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Book Review: Minding Molly by Leslie Gould

Books Details
Title: Minding Molly
Author: Leslie Gould
2014, Bethany House
ISBN: 9780764210334
Genre: Amish Fiction, Christian Fiction

Book Summary
Capable and optimistic Molly Zook has a slight issue with control: She doesn't like giving it up. So she's chafing against her mother's wish that, to save the family farm, she marry Mervin Mosier--especially after she meets Leon Fisher. He's from Montana but is working in Molly's district, training horses at a nearby ranch. He is tall and muscular, with a confident demeanor. Molly has never met anyone like him, and he seems to feel the same about her.

Determined to let nothing get between them, Molly decides the best course of action is to get Mervin to fall back in love with her best friend, Hannah. Molly organizes a weekend camping trip hoping to bring them together, but things quickly go awry and it seems Leon and Hannah might be falling for each other instead. Will Molly keep struggling to control everyone and everything around her? Or will she learn to let God handle the twists and turns of her life?

My Review
This was not my favorite Amish novel of all time. I found the main character of Molly fairly unlikable throughout most of the novel. She is extremely controlling to the point of being off-putting. I tried to keep in mind that she had just suffered some heart-breaking life events (her father had died, her mother was having scary health issues and she had some boyfriend issues), but she was still so annoying. 

This novel is set in present day and is told from the POV of Molly. It is the 3rd book in a series. I had not read the first two books in the series before starting this one, but I felt that this one could stand alone. I did not feel lost or like I had missed anything by starting on the 3rd book.

Some points that I liked about this novel though were that I enjoyed not being able to quite figure out who she was going to end up with in the end. Was Leon going to move back to Montana? Was Mervin going to transfer his affections back to Hannah or continue to want to marry Molly and help her save the farm? Was Leon going to be so turned off by Molly's control issues that he lost his affection for her? I honestly had no idea who she was going to end up with in the end (if anyone, for that matter) and I liked it that I had a hard time predicting. I was also unsure what was going to happen to the farm in the end and what the motives of her half-brother Ivan were.

Another thing I liked about his novel is that it gave small little examples of some of the problems associated with a closed group of people like the Amish. One example was a family with a daughter with some physical abnormalities, which the author pointed out was not uncommon among the Amish - I'm guessing because they intermarry so much. Also, Molly's friend Hannah has some depression issues requiring the treatment from a counselor at some point. Both things that I feel most Amish fiction author's avoid addressing. 

So other than really not enjoying the main character, this was a fairly good book. I may give this author another try and hope that I like her other main characters better.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers for my honest review. No other compensation was received and all thoughts and opinions are strictly my own.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Book Review: The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn by Lori Bentson

Book Details
Title: The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn
Author: Lori Bentson
2014, Waterbrook Press
ISBN: 9780307731494
Genre: Christian Historical Fiction

Book Summary
Frontier dangers cannot hold a candle to the risks one woman takes by falling in love.

In an act of brave defiance, Tamsen Littlejohn escapes the life her harsh stepfather has forced upon her. Forsaking security and an arranged marriage, she enlists frontiersman Jesse Bird to guide her to the Watauga settlement in western North Carolina. But shedding her old life doesn't come without cost. As the two cross a vast mountain wilderness, Tamsen faces hardships that test the limits of her faith and endurance.
Convinced that Tamsen has been kidnapped, wealthy suitor Ambrose Kincaid follows after her, in company with her equally determined stepfather. With trouble headed their way, Tamsen and Jesse find themselves thrust into the conflict of a divided community of Overmountain settlers. The State of Franklin as been declared, but many remain loyal to North Carolina. With one life left behind and chaos on the horizon, Tamsen struggles to adapt to a life for which she was never prepared. But could this challenging frontier life be what her soul has longed for, what God has been leading her toward? As her pursuers draw ever nearer, will her faith see her through the greatest danger of all - loving a man who has risked everything for her?

My Review
This is the first book I've read by this author. It is set in North Carolina in 1797 - soon after the Revolutionary War. It is told from the POV of Tamsen Littlejohn and Jesse Bird. 

I really enjoyed this novel. It had enough snippits of historical facts in it to be interesting, but didn't spend so much time on them that it bogged down the story. I even learned a few things! I learned that at one time there was a State of Franklin some of the history around it. Who knew?

I was a little worried at first that the story was going to be a little too far-fetched for me. Tamsen running off with an Overmountain Man that she didn't know at all seemed a little crazy to me - even though I knew she was desperate. I got over it though because I liked what followed. I was pleasantly surprised that Tamsen and Jesse - although thrown together and alone - didn't fall immediately into one another's arms. Some time was taken to develop their relationship and I really appreciated that as a reader. As a lover of those marriage of convenience novels, I appreciated a novel in which they didn't use that "convenience" as an excuse for rushing into something they probably shouldn't.

I enjoyed all the secondary characters and how they brought a lot of interest to the story. Jesse's involvement with the Cherokee Indians was also interesting and I thought the author portrayed them in a very positive light. I also learned that a breachclout is not just two pieces of material hanging down as I thought... but actually covers from front, under and then to the back. Again... who knew?

Tamsen and Jesse's journey is fraught with danger and many lessons. At one point I thought it was going on a little too long, but then the resolution at the end started - perfect timing! I loved the way it ended and was satisfied with all the characters. I especially liked how the author kept bring to light how God works to bring all things together in his timing.

I really enjoyed this novel and would definitely pick up another by this author. I really appreciated how much historical research she must have done to make this novel possible. 

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this  book from Waterbrook Press through the Blogging for Books program for my honest review. No other compensation was received and all thoughts and opinions are strictly my own.

Release Date: April 15, 2014

Want to know more?
Author's Website
Read Chapter One
More Info

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

My Boys

What’s been going on with my boys lately? This has been a pretty great period of time. They have started really trying to play together. I knew that having three years difference in age was going to make it interesting when it came to playtime. Unfortunately, I think it got postponed even longer because of Zachary not being mobile for so long. Malachi wanted to play with him…. It’s just kinda impossible with someone who doesn’t move around.

Now that Zach is crawling –really crawling – I find them playing with their cars together and Malachi running with some ongoing imaginative storyline while they’re playing. It’s so fun to see them interact and Malachi is so thrilled to have a playmate. I know it’s only going to get better as they get older and Zach finally starts walking.

In November we started physical therapy with Zach. He had started a sort of army crawl on his own, but I was happy when we started the actual physical therapy. He very quickly figured out how to crawl on all fours and then probably mid-December we finally got him to roll over from his back to his front! That was a huge break-through of its own. He had only rolled over a handful of times and was like a turtle when he was lying on his back. The day he came home from PT able to flip himself over was an exciting day! Now he is into everything – no cabinet is safe now. This is something I never really experienced with Malachi. Zach loves the kitchen cabinets. I might actually have to child-proof them. Small price to pay for a mobile toddler though. Next is working on standing and walking. He is still very resistant to this… but we’ll get there. I’m so happy that he’s crawling now, that I don’t really mind that he’s not walking yet.

Malachi had his first visit to the ER a couple weeks ago. He was sliding across the hardwood floor in our house and caught his knee on the heating grate in the floor. It tore a L-shaped hole in his knee. Of course I was at work, so Daddy brought him in to see me down in the Birth Center and then up to the ER they went. Zach hung out with me until grandma came to rescue him (I didn’t really want him up there with all those yucky ER germs) and Malachi ended up with six stitches. What an experience! Trying to keep those stitches in there for two weeks on the kneecap of a very active four-year-old boy! Glad they are out and we all survived it.

Aren't you glad I'm not posting pictures? I could have had a nice gory one here. =)