Sunday, December 15, 2013

Book Review - Stranded (Alaskan Courage - Book Three)

A cruise ship is an intriguing place to have a mystery.  It’s even better in Alaska in the book Stranded by Dani Pettrey.  Darcy St. James wants to help her reporter friend on an Alaskan cruise.  After boarding the cruise ship, Darcy’s friend disappears.  

On this trip, Darcy runs into Gage McKenna again.   He is in charge of some of the cruise excursions. Darcy and Gage met before while trying to solve a murder mystery in the previous book, Shattered.  There are unresolved feelings from their last meeting so you have tension right away when they see each other again on the cruise.  One major problem between them is Darcy’s faith in God.   Gage’s past personal tragedy causes him to doubt the goodness of God.

Explanation from the cruise staff about the disappearance of Darcy’s friend are not satisfactory.  Darcy digs deeper with help from Gage.  They find more disappearances and even murder.  The pursuit of the truth puts them in danger from an unknown source.   The reason for the disappearances are disturbing and sad.  It reminded me of terrible things that are actually going on in this world.  Despite the sinister things happening in the background, I thought the overnight excursions were a great idea.   The whole cruise was truly set for adventure.

Pettrey has woven together a great mystery again in Stranded, book three of the Alaskan Courage series.   I wanted to keep reading.  I was nervous when I knew the bad guy was close.  I cheered when the good guys came to the rescue. I am enjoying this series about the McKenna family.  It’s like a great mini-series.

Once you start the series, you will be looking for the next book.  I cannot wait to read Silenced. You can read more about the author, Dani Pettrey and this series on her website

Rating: 5 stars

I received this book from Bethany House Publishers for my opinion.

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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Book Review - A Home For My Heart

A Home for My Heart by Anne Mateer describes the plight of orphans and Sadie Sillsby’s desire to see their lives filled with love.   Sadie is an assistant at the Raystown Home for Orphans.   She understands these children because she was also a resident of the Home. Throughout the story, you will see her try her best to distance herself from her background which landed her at the Home in the first place.

Sadie is in love with Blaine.  Their love was built on friendship and a mutual understanding of what it is like to come from unstable family situations.   Sadie receives a wonderful opportunity to become the matron of the Home because the current matron decides to get married.   The matron must remain single to stay in the position.  Sadie is torn between a life with Blaine and “this calling” to the children.  She accepts the position which drives a wedge between herself and Blaine.

The new job seems like a natural fit for Sadie.  She loves the children at the Home and wants their life to improve with a forever family.   The position of matron comes with more responsibility than expected - managing staff, soliciting donations and writing up expense reports.  She would rather play baseball with the kids and tuck them into bed at night.

Sadie has difficulty determining what is real or fake.  Is her newly hired assistant, Viola right for the job?   Does Earl, a representative from The Children’s Aid Society have the best interest of her and the Home at heart?  Has Blaine really moved on without her?  Mrs. Fore is the wise cook that seems to truly understand the nature of people.   Miranda is the housekeeper who is misunderstood, but is an undiscovered jewel.

Through prayer, Sadie eventually understands who and what is most important.   As she matures, she makes decisions to follow the will of the Lord.   That decision has wonderful results for herself and her community.

I liked this book.  It was a sweet story with a young main character who was passionate about her work for children, but grew to be more concerned about God’s will.

Rating: 3 stars

I received this book from Bethany House Publishers for my opinion about this book.

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Book Review - Pocket Your Dollars

“When a fundamental building block is missing from our lives, then no amount of fine-tuning can move things forward.  That’s why we’re not starting with budget or expense trackers.  Those are mechanisms for fine-tuning once we have a solid foundation.”

Pocket Your Dollars by Carrie Rocha is an easy and honest read about a difficult subject.  It is about building a strong mental foundation for financial success by changing your attitude.  Her first recommendation is not a budget although it is an important tool.   Our greatest hope for real change is to take personal responsibility for past decisions.  More money is not always the answer if you are not fundamentally different than when you had less money.  The author gives us examples of lottery winners who lost it all to illustrate this point.

Rocha appears to be doing an operation on our thoughts about money.  The sharing of her personal experience with help us improve our financial life. She does not want us to put a band-aid on our financial woes like more money or a budget. She wants us to get to the heart of the matter.  When our attitude is correct then tools like a budget become more effective.

Buying can fill an emotional need that we did not even know we had. I have been done the “I deserve a treat” road.  Life is tough, hard day, annoying boss and family problems can lead to “I deserve this something special”, but this behavior does not keep money in your pocket.

Satisfaction with what we have helps us to keep more of our money.  We do not have to get caught up in comparison with others when we choose to be content.  

Once our attitude is correct then we need skills to maintain our new outlook on money. Rocha helps us with that, too.  Resilience will keep me moving even when I mess up.  Her discussion about reframing was helpful to me.  Instead of looking at failures as the “nail in the coffin”, you can reason that I am successful because of my failures.  I learned from my past and I will keep moving forward.

The creation of a spending plan will definitely keep you focused on what is most important.  The spending plan is not just about the mundane bills we have.  It is even about the extras that use to get us in trouble before our attitude change.  The extras like gifts and vacations do not have to produce guilt if properly planned.

This book is full of common sense.  We need to own up to our mistakes and figure out what attitude is preventing us from moving forward.  Financial tools like a budget and the right attitude will give us long-term success in our financial life.

Rating: 5 stars

This book was provided to me by Bethany House Publisher for my opinion.

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Book Review - Shattered (Alaskan Courage - Book Two)

An open and shut murder case in Alaska...right?  Reef McKenna was found with the victim and the evidence points to him as the murderer.  The sheriff is ready to close this case as quickly as possible due to the overwhelming evidence.  Reef’s sister, Piper, is not ready to lose him.  She does everything possible to prove her brother’s innocence.   She expects that those that are close to the McKenna family will see Reef’s innocence especially Deputy Landon Grainger.  Landon has been a part of the McKenna family for years.  Piper is like a sister to him until romantic feelings start to change his perspective.

Piper and Landon disagree many times on how to solve the murder case.  She places herself in danger more than once to discover the truth. Landon is trying to let the facts tell the story. Conflict comes up often between the two because of unresolved feelings and their approach to solving the case.

I really enjoyed this book.  Here are a few reasons why I think you should read it. This book is a good murder mystery.  The answer was not obvious to me initially who committed the murder.  Bravo to the author for keeping me guessing.   The dialogue between Piper and Landon was fun especially before their true feelings were realized.  The location of Alaska was great.  It became its own character to me like someone or some place I wanted to visit.

Shattered is a romantic suspense novel, but there are some excellent spiritual lessons for us, too.  Landon is a rugged, manly character who depends on himself.   There comes a point in the book where he realizes that he is not in control.  He humbles himself before God when he is hit with this realization.

One of my favorite quotes is advice from Piper’s older brother, Cole to Landon “You need to be sure you are in the right place, that the urge to self-destruct isn’t your default setting anymore, that God is the one steering your life.”

This book has so much of what I like in a story - mystery, interesting people, great location and a reminder that God is with us through it all.

Shattered is book 2 of the Alaskan Courage series by Dani Pettrey.   You can read this book without reading Submerged, but I highly recommend reading book 1 first.  

Rating: 4 stars

This book was provided to me by Bethany House Publishers for my opinion about this book.

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Pilgrims at Midnight

I went searching for a nonfiction book for my eight year old twins. I used the Overdrive app on my nook HD+ to borrow an eBook from my library. Why am I reading Magic Tree House Fact Tracker: Pilgrims near midnight? I am in the middle of several other books for parenting, fiction and religious study, but the Pilgrims got me up reading. 

My kids recently saw The Mayflower Voyagers starring the Peanuts gang. This book I'm reading now will expand their knowledge of the Pilgrims.

Is it to early to say Happy Thanksgiving?!

Good night.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Introduce Little House at a Younger Age

Going to Town (My First Little House):Amazon:Books

Going to Town was my bedtime story with my daughter. The My First Little House book series is a wonderful way to introduce Laura Ingalls Wilder and Little House on the Prairie to children at a younger age.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Book Review - Otter and Owl Set Sail

I was not expecting to find a lesson for me when I picked up Otter and Owl Set Sail by Crystal Bowman from the library for my 5 year old daughter.   I usually leave the library with 30 books mostly for my kids.  The lessons are meant for my children, but sometimes I am the one who is taught.

Owl had an idea to build a sailboat.  His friend, Otter helps him to make it.  When the boat is complete, it's ready to sail.  Well, at least that was what Owl and Otter hoped for.  Nothing happened when they first got in the boat.  After a few tries, the boat did not budge.   Owl was very disappointed.  He thought that his sailboat was not good.  Otter being a good friend reassured Owl that his boat was very good.   The boat just needs something that only God can provide - wind!   The sailboat finally takes off and Owl and Otter were finally able to make it to the other side of the pond.

This book made me think of things that I am working on that I am sure God wants me to do.   The problem is nothing seems to be happening.   Frustration comes and I think that maybe I'm not good enough.   Then I remember to trust in the Lord and not to depend on my understanding because He is leading.   God will send what is needed at the right time.  He did it for Owl and He will do it for me, too.

Rating: 4 stars

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Book Review - You Are Special

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.  (Psalm 139:14)

Psalm 139:14 came to my mind while I was reading You Are Special by Max Lucado.  You are  invited to a land of wooden people called The Wemmicks.   Every Wemmick was different in some way, but they were all carved by Eli, the woodworker.

The Wemmicks gave each other stickers.  Stickers were nice for some, but not for others.  The stickers separated the "good" from the "bad"; the "talented" from the "not so talented".   Punchinello was considered to be clumsy and without talent.   When anyone would met him, they would know the type of person he was right away.  Why?    It was because of the stickers on him.     

These labels did not make Punchinello feel good about himself.    Fortunately, he met Lucia.   She stood out from everyone because she did not have any stickers!   Lucia told him to go see Eli.  Something wonderful happens when Punchinello mets Eli.

This book is encouragement for children and big people like me to remember "I am special" because of what God thinks!

Rating: 5 stars

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Thursday, July 4, 2013

Book Review - Wonderfully Made

Wonderfully Made by Joyce Meyers is a charming story of Hayley the Hippo who wants to be in a talent show. She does not have any idea what to do for the show.   Everyone else she knows has an act ready for the show.  Hayley watches her friends practice, but it does not help her determine what she should do.  Hayley tries to copy others, but she is disappointed with the results.  Hayley can not do anything or so it seems. While Hayley is watching and trying to copy others, we the readers start to see her gift.  Hayley will soon realize that she had a talent all along and that she is “wonderfully made” by God.

This book is a great start to a discussion with kids.  It can be frustrating when you are young and want to stand out.   Everyone else seems so gifted and talented.   We all need to be reminded that God’s has a purpose for each of us.  Our unique talents can be used to carry out His purpose and bless others.  It may take time before you discover what you do best, but be patient.   Your gift will become obvious in time.

Wonderfully Made is a book full of wonderful illustrations and cute characters.  It tells children that they are special in many ways. It is a great addition to a child’s library.

Rating: 4 stars

I received a free copy of this eBook from Netgalley.

This post contains affiliate links.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Book Review - One Minute Prayers for Young Men

One Minute Prayers for Young Men by Clayton King is the right mix of practical advice, guy stuff and Godly wisdom.  Even though this book is for teen guys and up, I found many devotions were just right for me.  There were multiple devotions on prayer that were a blessing to me.  Here’s a recap of some of the devotionals in the book.

Made for Glory
Guy stuff -> What do players do when they win?  They celebrate their victory with their hands raised.
Wisdom -> Raise your hands in worship to God to celebrate His accomplishments.

Close the Gaps
Guy stuff -> The job of the defender on the football team is to close the gaps to stop the offense.  Gaps in the line can cause you to lose.

Wisdom -> Gaps in your spiritual life can lead to problems.  Close the gaps with prayer and other spiritual disciplines to protect your heart and mind.

Made to Provide
Guy Stuff -> The author was taught by his dad that he is suppose to provide for his family.  Pride in your work is important even if you are just sweeping floors.

Wisdom -> There are lessons to be learned while you do things you do not like.   Pay attention and do the work anyway so you do not miss the lessons

Other favorite gems of wisdom:
  • “Remember God’s goodness. List it. Tweet it. Post it.”
  • “Real fun is honoring to God and free of regret.”
  • “Being dependable leads to great opportunities.”
  • “To be a Christian, get over your problem with authority.  God is your authority.  When I disobey, I will always pay.”

Each devotion ends in a prayer to help you apply the wisdom to your own life.  This book can be used by yourself, for parent and son discussions or in a small group of guys.

I have one small issue.  I remember one devotion that talked about the Holy Spirit as a Person in the Trinity.  My belief is in Jesus as God manifested as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and not as the Holy Spirit as the third Person in the Trinity.   I am not here to debate the issue.  I only bring it up for those who believe as I do.  I wanted you to know just in case you gave it your son without reading it yourself.  Even with this difference in opinion, I do recommend this book and I would use it with my own son.

Rating: 4 stars

This book will be available in August 2013.

This free eBook was provided to me by Netgalley.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Book Review - Whit's End Mealtime Devotions

I am a big fan of Adventures of Odyssey so I was pleased to read Whit’s End Mealtime Devotions. I kept this book in the kitchen so it was available quickly at breakfast, lunch or dinner. Each devotion is one page. It has five sections - Mealtime Prayer, Appetizer, Main Course, Table Talk and Vitamins and Minerals.

The Mealtime Prayer section starts you off with a prayer related to the topic. In the Appetizer you will be asked a question to get a taste of what is to come. Then the Main Course gives you God through scripture references and more questions. After you have “eaten” your Main Course then you will review with questions in Table Talk so all that good stuff can digest and work its way into your system. Of course, you need Vitamins and Minerals which is a scripture that will nourish you long after the “meal” is done.

The devotions worked great for us. Did we go through all the sections every time? No. Sometimes we got stopped at the Main Course because the discussion was longer than expected. Other times we read and talk about all the sections in the devotions. 
One of my favorite devotions in this book is the one titled “Got Milk?”.


Did you know that cows are good for more than milk and steaks? What else comes from cows?

Main Course

Follow the milk on your table backward to see where it comes from....God is responsible for the milk in your glass...He is the ultimate Provider!

Table Talk

What else ultimately comes from God?

You should get the book to enjoy the rest of Got Milk? and other devotions. The devotions are divided into Any Day Mealtime Devotions, Holiday Devotions and Theme Devotions.

If you want an additional way to make sure God is a regular part of your family discussions then I would suggest this book. And do not forget to take your family directly to the Bible itself so they can see the source of Whit’s End Mealtime Devotions.

Rating: 4 stars

I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers.
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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Nook HD+

This post contains affiliate links.  Read my disclosure policy.

I got the Nook HD+ a few days ago.  I was not planning on upgrading from my Nook Tablet, but the sale price from now until Mother's Day and the addition of Google Play helped me to change my mind.   Currently the 16 GB Nook HD+ is $179.  It is normally $269.   The screen is a 9" HD display.  It is so gorgeous that I could not put it down.

Why would I buy a Nook versus another tablet?   I am at the core a reader.  I like to see my books and organize them just like I do with my physical books.  I also like to surf the web, use Springpad and play Scramble with Friends.   I also have a phone where I can use many apps so a tablet that was pure Android was not my priority.  

I picked a Nook tablet a few years because it was for readers and I could read books from the library.   You could not always read library books on the Kindle which pushed me towards the Nook.  Don't get me wrong, I think the Kindle is a great product and I would not have said no if you gave me one.  Today, you can borrow library books and read them on your Kindle

The addition of Google Play makes the Nook go from just an e-reader to a good Android tablet.   People use to complain that you could only buy apps from Barnes and Nobles store, but now they have knocked down that wall.  If you are in the market for pure Android then this tablet is not for you.   I would suggest getting the Google Nexus 7 if you want a pure Android experience. My husband has the Nexus 7 and it is great with Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean).  He lets me use it every now and then.  :)

Even with a recommendation for a Nexus 7 for those who are not "readers" like me I think you might be pleasantly surprised by the Nook HD+.    

I like the Nook HD+ because:

  • Books can be organized. 
  • The screen is large and beautiful.
  • Profiles can be created for my children to filter the content that they see and to prevent them from accessing my profile.
  • Google Play is available which means I have access to so many apps.

All of the Nook HD and HD + devices are on sale now starting at $149 until Sunday, May 12.

Get $90 off NOOK(R) HD+Tablets! Tablet Mom will love, now at our BEST price ever! Hurry Offer Expires 5/12!

Get $50 off NOOK(R) HD Tablets! Tablet Mom will love, now at our BEST price ever! Hurry Offer Expires 5/12!

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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Curriculum Review - Time4Learning

I have used Time4Learning for my 4 year old to determine if I want to use it for kindergarten.  It is an online curriculum for preschool and grades K - 8.  It is reasonably priced for what you are receiving.   My older kids are in an online public school, but my youngest cannot enroll in their school in the fall. Her October birthday makes her ineligible to attend kindergarten in my state.   I could allow her to complete kindergarten at her current preschool, but I want to save some money and I think I can do this myself (with some help). I wanted something where the curriculum was laid out for me whether it be online or books.  

The kindergarten curriculum contains Language Arts and Math lessons.  You can go up a grade to include Science, but the default for kindergarten is only Language Arts and Math.   When my daughter starts, she will see an Language Arts and Math icons.   After she clicked on one of them, she has a path to follow to complete her lessons.    I can change her grade level temporarily for a subject while in the lesson or permanently through the parent login.  Animated characters give instructions on what to do next.  She was able to follow along easily.

When she was using Time4Learning, she wanted to do more.  She was proud of herself while working through the lessons.  She likes going to the playground after completing lessons.  She has tried to go the playground before lessons, but the system would not let her do it.   The message says you cannot go to the playground until you complete a lesson.   Your student can complete as many lessons as they want.  Since she is so young, I only let her stay on for 15 minutes at time.  That was plenty of time to go through a couple of lessons.   I have other resources like workbooks, flash cards, books and playtime to reinforce what she is learning.  Time4Learning does provide worksheets and ideas to help your child when they are not on the computer.

Will I use Time4Learning  for my youngest daughter?  I am not sure.  I also like Abcmouse which is a curriculum just for preschool and kindergarten and it is cheaper.   If I need an online homeschool option beyond kindergarten then I could see myself using it for my children.   I could see using it during the summer for my oldest kids so learning does not have to stop.   I cannot comment on other grades because I only reviewed kindergarten.   I would take time to look at the Time4Learning Parent Forums, read other reviews and pray to determine if this choice is right for you.  I do recommend this online curriculum in addition to plenty of playtime and trips to the library.

I was offered a 30 day free trial by Time4Learning so I could have the opportunity to review this program.

Book Review - Grace for the Moment: 365 Devotions for Kids

I was already a fan of Grace for a Moment.   I have the morning and evening edition in one book in my bedroom   I could not wait to read Grace for the Moment: 365 Devotions for Kids by Max Lucado.  The book did not disappoint.  You have devotionals for every day of the year.   They are written in a way that makes sense to kids.  The book stayed near our kitchen table where we spend most of our time.  After a meal or anytime, I would read with my children today’s devotional.   

The devotion on January 3rd “Worry Doesn’t Work” was especially relevant to my son.  He tends to worry a lot about things that are not in his control.   Lucado compared worries to a big thunderstorm which my kids are afraid of and cannot change.    He says God can fix anything, but worrying does not change a thing.  The kids are reminded that God “put his angels in charge of you”.  The Growing In Grace section suggested that you can imagine putting your worries in a box, say a prayer and hand it over to God.  What a great visual and lesson on how to handle worry!

My son actually tried the suggestion from the Growing in Grace section from the January 4th devotional.  It is titled “God Lives Here”.  Kids are encouraged to make room for Jesus.  He explained it as if you were decorating a room.   “Let Him live long enough in a heart, and that heart will begin to change.”  The suggestion in Growing in Grace was to decorate your room with God’s Word.   What did my son do after reading it?  He put sticky notes around his room with Bible verses.   At first I was upset because all I could see was that most of my sticky notes were gone, but then I realized he made a connection with what he read.  That was more important.

I originally received this book from NetGalley in an eBook format.  I liked it so much, I bought the hardcover book.

This book receives 5 stars.

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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Book Review - Where God Finds You

Do you know Puah from the Bible?  I will give you a moment to think about it.   She was a Hebrew midwife who refused to follow Pharaoh’s orders to kill Hebrew baby boys.  I forgot who she was.  I probably would have said the wrong answer on in a Bible trivia game if I was asked anything about Puah.  After reading Where God Finds You by Anita Higman, I cannot forget Puah.  She feared God.  She valued the life of babies despite facing severe consequences.  God blessed her because of her courage.  The Bible does not say anything about how Puah was feeling when Pharaoh asked her why she did not kill the baby boys.  The author of Where God Finds You gives you an idea of what she might be feeling as she is questioned.   She may have been nervous, but her conviction outweighed those feelings.  Puah is one of many people you can read about in Higman’s book.

Higman writes about 40 Biblical men and women.  I read about famous Biblical characters such as Joseph, Mary, Peter and Paul.   Higman also breathes life into not-so famous Biblical characters such as Puah and Noah’s wife.  Each devotional starts with how each person might be feeling about the situation they are facing.  I read the actual scriptures about the person and read a summary that connects the past with the present.  Questions at the end of each devotional encouraged me to apply the lesson to my own life.   

The people that I have studied in the Bible were real people with struggles, triumphs and emotions.   Sometimes I have just read their name without thinking about how did they feel when that happened.  I did not always make the connection from their life in the past to my life today.  While reading Where God Finds You, I thought their insecurities, fear and struggles are like mine’s.   Despite the obstacles and emotions, they overcame with the help of God.  I enjoyed this book because the people in this book were brought to life for me.

I give this book a 4-star rating.

I received a free copy of this book from Buoyancy Public Relations.  All opinions expressed are completely my own.

This post may contain affiliate links.  Read my disclosure page.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

App Review - Kids Place Parental Control

Many families have multiple devices to access the Internet.  The Internet is a wonderful place full of information, education and fun.  It is also full of bad places that we do not want our children to experience.  If you have an Android-based tablet or smartphone, I suggest getting an app that  gives your children a safe place to play and learn.    I have the app Kids Place - Parental Control and Child Lock installed on my smartphone and nook tablet.  It is also available from the Amazon App Store for the Kindle Fire.  The app will prevent your children from downloading other apps, texting, calling and Internet searches.  Of course, if you select Google as an approved app then the Internet will be available to them.   Double check your list of approved apps to be sure you got it right before turning your device over to your son or daughter.

How does it work?

  1. Open the app and select the apps that are appropriate for your child.
  2. Always open the app before giving your smartphone or tablet to your child.  You might need to password protect your device so he does not turn on your device and bypass the Kids Place app.   
  3. Select 'No Time Lock', ' Lock in 5 minutes', 'Lock in 15 minutes', 'Lock in 30 minutes', or 'Lock in 1 hour'.   On my smartphone, I have the additional options of specifying my own time in minutes or time of day.  If you select a lock out option then the tablet will stop when time is up.  It will go to a screen to enter a password.   At this point, your son will run to you and say "Can I play longer?".   You have to enter a password to select more time or not.
  4. Enter a password when you are ready to exit Kids Place.
This app and others like it are great.  It is also free.  I can limit what my child can do and how long they can do it on my tablet or smartphone.  It is a must-have app for me.