Thursday, June 25, 2015

To Win Her Favor by Tamera Alexander

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Prejudice: what place does it have in your life?  Tamera brings out the prejudices present in the 1800's in Nashville, TN against the Irish and the former slaves.  The story was based shortly after the Civil War and slavery had come to an end.  It's easy to glibly say, "Oh, I don't have any prejudices. God made us all equal." But do we always live like that or can we tend to look down on people who we think don't measure up to the bar we have set? I'm not talking just skin color or nationality either; this could include education level, personality, social skills, etc. etc.  Do we truly look at each person as being in God's image and accept them for who they are regardless?  It's a challenge for me.

This is the story of a marriage of convenience to start with: Cullen marries Margaret and becomes owner of a farm. Margaret agrees to the marriage and she gets to keep the farm which otherwise was going to go to auction.  Of course, they fall madly in love, etc. etc.  I enjoy stories like this, but I do wonder that the man is always handsome and the girl is always beautiful or so it seems.  Be that as it may, Margaret did have to work on her prejudices against the Irish to marry Cullen.

I did enjoy the book.  A few scenes could have been left out, but over all it was a good book.  I especially like how Margaret was able to not only overcome her prejudice against the Irish but against the Freedmen and become friends with them.  Of course, the heroine of the story is the horse, Bourbon Belle, who was poisoned, but came back and won the Peyton Stakes.

This book was given me by Book Look Bloggers for the purpose of reading and writing a review on it.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

It's Father's Day

I know Father's Day isn't toted around like Mother's Day, but it is a special day nonetheless and I wonder if Dad's wouldn't feel more loved and respected if we wouldn't make a bigger deal out of it. Or maybe I've had my head in the sand all these years and it really is a big deal.

But today is Father's Day and you know that saying: "You don't fully appreciate what you have until it's gone."? That's how I'm feeling today.  Actually I'm not sure I'm even feeling at all, but if I could feel I think that is how I would feel.  I didn't buy my father-in-law a Father's Day card this year; I told D if he wanted to send him one, he needed to go pick it out. I did get Amber's Daddy a Father's Day card (Ssshhh don't tell, he hasn't gotten it yet), but I went and only looked at the kiddy looking cards. I didn't want to see any nice flowery words that gave great attributes to a great Dad.  Wasn't into that.

 So this is my tribute to my Dad.  We miss you!!! You were quiet and rarely had a lot to say, but you were there. Your truck sat out in the driveway every night--a symbol of security, though we didn't think about it at the time.  Now, when I come over it sits in the grass with a "For Sale" sign on and it breaks my heart. I'm ready for it to be gone. Though I think in some ways the For Sale sign is easier than it sitting in the driveway and it appearing as though you are home when you aren't. You are finally TRULY HOME!!!!  You never said a lot, but we always knew you were going to come home every night. We never wondered if this was going to be the night you made a break for it and left all of us alone and destitute.  Yes, you have gone now and left us alone and feeling destitute, but you have left us with pride and dignity. We can hold our heads high when we go to town because Amos Mast is a name well-known and respected. Integrity and honesty are words associated with your name and that is the best legacy ever. So Dad, you are now at rest and we are trying to pick up the pieces and take care of Mom and move on. I don't know if you had any premonition or not when you told us the morning of your surgery to take care of Mom, but we are doing our best, though I think we might be smothering her a bit :) :) But to you, with more sincerity than ever: HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!!!

And to Nicole and Amber's Daddy, I wish you a Happy Father's Day from them through me.  You held the title of Daddy long before there was a little girl that grinned her toothless grin at you and chatted with you about your day, but now you can enjoy the benefits that go with that name.  It's been fun watching you be a dad and you make a really, really good one.  You have put up with so much in the last two years and currently in the last two months. I haven't been the wife that you as a husband and Dad deserve, but you have stood with me as I've fought whatever black hole has threatened to devour me. You have washed more dishes than you should have, lived through more depressing evenings that you ever want to repeat, and you have held on. I don't often make public tributes to you because I think it's cheesy, but you ARE THE BEST!!  And Amber is starting to realize that as well!!! Praise the Lord!!!  As I watched last night as you told her the story of the Five Loaves and Two Fishes and she drank it all in, I was blessed. To raise our daughter for Jesus is our heart's desire and I know it needs to begin now. 

And if Nicole could be here with us, I know she would be a Daddy's girl!!  I can try and imagine as the verse says, "Little voice that I hear is my little girl calling for her Daddy to hear just what she has to say" and while it can make me cry I just try to imagine the day when we will hear Nicole calling for her Daddy but in the meantime she is enjoying Father's Day with Grandpa. And to you from Amber: HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!!!

It's sad really, Nicole doesn't know Grandpa Glick and Amber doesn't know Grandpa Mast.


And last but not least to my father-in-law. No, these obviously aren't my children. I have a picture of you holding Amber, but I am too lazy to go dig it out of my camera. This is such a great picture though, you being surrounded by some of your grandsons.  You are delighted with each new grand child that comes along. It was fun to see you come out to the car Monday night and be so eager to greet the newest granddaughter.  She's going to love you; after all you are the only Grandpa she is going to know.

You are a great father as well; you have raised an amazing son who speaks highly of you. You have accepted me as a daughter-in-law and treat me as one of the family even though I know I do things differently than you do. I appreciate your acceptance and can learn from it for myself. Even though it's a LONG drive to come see, we always enjoy our times together. So to you as well, even though I doubt you will ever read this: HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Five Brides by Eva Marie Everson

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Ah, I found this a fascinating, refreshing story.  I enjoyed the book the whole way through and then when I got to the end and realized that it was actually based on a true happening and the author had visited with one of the brides and retold her story while making up the other four brides' stories, it was an even better read.

This is the story of 5 room mates back in the 50's who went shopping together one Saturday on a whim.  Something they likely had never done before or after and they found this amazing wedding dress. They pooled their resources and bought the dress and each one wore it to their wedding. The last one to get married got to keep the dress and it passed on down through at least two more generations.

Eva definitely flipped back and forth a lot to keep up with all the characters, but I thought she did a pretty good job of holding it all together. I was able to follow it very well.  The thing I didn't really like is that as soon as they were married, they pretty much dropped off the scene of the book and that made me sad because I wanted to know if Inga ever was able to love Axel or if Magda made up to her husband's late wife's mother, but I also know it would have made the book way too big.

I could have done without the filler swear words and while the book was clean there wasn't much Christianity in it.

This book was given to me by Tyndale House for the purpose of reading and writing a review.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Yogurt by Janet Fletcher

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Yogurt: I like yogurt. It's a great breakfast food by itself, with granola or with fruit. I like to make yogurt though I haven't for awhile.  To me the cover image of this book does not inspire warm, fuzzy feelings about yogurt. That is not something I really think even looks good, but that being said, the book description intrigued me and so I asked for a review copy.

What the book did do is inspire me to make my own yogurt again and when I make it to take the time to drain it and make a thicker yogurt. It inspired me to try it plain without sugar or gelatin added and to experiment with add ins like coconut, fresh fruit and maybe some choice nuts. The book gives recipes and ideas for breakfast, soups, meats, desserts, etc.  Some of them I have no intention of trying, but some of them intrigued me like the Harissa-Roasted Chicken with Sweet Peppers or Yogurt with Mango, Tasted Coconut and Cashews.

If the only thing the book does for me is gets me to make yogurt again and experiment with a few new ideas for breakfast, it will have been worth it for me, but maybe, just maybe I will branch out and try something new like Roasted Tomato Bruschetta with Yogurt Cheese or Grilled Zucchini with Yogurt Sauce, Feta, Lemon and Dill.

Another thing I liked about the book was the detailed description about how to make yogurt at home. Now I just need to be able to justify buying a yogurt maker, but in the meantime, I do know how to make it at home without the fancy, schmancy equipment.

This book was given me by Blogging for Books for the purpose of reading and writing a review on it.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Drawing Fire by Janice Cantore

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"Peace does not dwell in outward things, but in the heart prepared to wait trustfully and quietly on Him who has all things safely in His hands."  Elisabeth Elliot

The book grabbed me from the start with this quote, a quote I would do well to remember at this point in my life when peace, trust, and quiet feel elusive.

I have read a couple other Janice Cantore books and thoroughly enjoyed them even though mystery, cop books are not my normal reading genre.  Janice used to be a police officer in Long Beach, California where the story takes place.  This is the story of a homicide detective whose parents were murdered 27 years prior to the story line.  She is determined and obsessed with finding the killer. It intertwines other crimes into the story and in the end, the few people who had info have committed suicide so there are no real answers to the questions, but she (Abby) is learning to be okay with that. She is trying to learn not to obsess about this case.

Is there romance?  A tad.  Abby is engaged to Ethan who is sure that she would make a much better missionary than detective and she is equally sure that she wouldn't and that her calling is to helping victims find closure by finding who committed the crimes. The PI, Luke Murphy, had an uncle who also died at the time of her parents' murder and he too has been desperate to find the killers. They connect on the case and sparks fly, but nothing happens at the end of the book.  I can appreciate that. There is a sequel coming and I am sure they will get together there because it was pretty obvious Abby and Ethan's relationship wasn't going to advance.

Things I learned or thought about?  I believe in nonresistance, so where does that put me for liking this book?  As someone who doesn't believe violence and taking up of arms is okay for a Christian should I be reading this book? And then on the other hand, do I believe you can be a Christian and a police officer at the same time?  I know this gets really sticky and I have heard people make strong statements on this, but my answer is I'm glad I don't have to make the judgment call.  D has a cousin who is a police officer and I am not about to say he isn't a Christian because I believe he is.  I believe we need Christians in places like this to help overcome some of the corruption that can abound.  Do I feel I can be a police officer?  Absolutely not, for more reasons than one. I think we have a duty to pray for our police force and our politicians, but I don't think we can make the call and say whether they are Christians any more than we can our neighbor next door.  Determining someone's relationship with Jesus is not our judgment call to make; that is between them and God. Yes, we can see fruit that would indicate, but ultimately my concern needs to be about where I am with God, not where my neighbor is. I need to be a witness and be a light in the world, but judging isn't my calling.

That being said, I am going to be on the lookout for the sequel to this book.

This book was given me by the Tyndale Blog Review Program for the purpose of reading and writing a review on it. All opinions expressed are my own.

Princess Joy Sticker and Activity Book

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Inspired by Jeanna Young & Jacqueline Johnson
Pictures by Omar Aranda

This is the second book like this I have reviewed and my thoughts are basically the same.  The book is beautiful: the nice shiny pink front cover, 50 reusable stickers and activities on every page. I appreciate the book's modest attire. The characters are Cinderella styled, but with long lovely gowns on. The thing I don't like as much is again, there is only one page that has a spot for the stickers and there is no real story line.  Princess Joy is having a birthday party and the activities are all centered around that. There are pictures to color, a find a word, a maze, a note the differences between the two pictures and a find the hidden objects page.  It's definitely a fun book and while it's a regular sized book, it is small and would easily slide into a bag without taking up a lot of room.

The book is geared to 4-8 year olds and while I don't have a lot of experience I would say that is pretty appropriate.  As far as being a Christian book, God is talked about a bit, but there are no spiritual truths really taught in the book, but neither is there anything questionable.  I am looking forward to Amber being old enough to have fun playing with the stickers and doing the activities in the book.  I would definitely recommend these books to anyone looking for something for girls this age. I don't think boys would be quite as impressed :) :)  In fact, I have purchased two other books in this series to give away as gifts.

This book was given me to review by Book Look Bloggers. All opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Now and Forever by Mary Connealy

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Okay, let me veer away from the dark and deep side of life and talk a bit about this book.  I got this book to review because I already at the first in the series and if we are getting free books, let's keep the series going, right?

This book was about Shannon Wilde and starts out pretty wild as well.  Mountain man Matthew Tucker falls down a mountainside because he's being chased by a grizzly bear and then Shannon grabs him and hurls him over the edge of cliff straight into the Slaughter River which has never been known to give out a man alive at the other end, but of course, they are rescued part way down, etc. etc. They fall in love even though Shannon has been pretending to be a boy. They are forced to marry by the Parson who thinks there may have been some indiscretions during their five days to rescue.  Okay, I could on and on but then I would be giving the story line away, so let me move on to the point I want to make from this book.

At the end, Matthew is telling Shannon that she is his wife and they are together forever and she will move up the mountain to his cabin either willingly or he will drag her up there if he has to.  Now, I'm not discrediting the author for adding this in nor am I saying that that was unrealistic because I'm thinking it is more true to life than we would like to imagine.  I consider myself somewhat opinionated and I can only imagine how it would go down if my husband came home and told me that in no uncertain terms we are moving to South Dakota and will only be coming back occasionally.  I'm thinking I would revolt a bit as well.

So that brings me to the question that I will not address long on this post because it isn't the point of the post, but what is submission? I'm talking submission of a wife to her husband, a child to their parents, etc. etc.  What does that look like? Should the husband or father just lay down the law and demand the wife/child to follow? Should there be respect involved? Discussion? Opinions shared? Does it vary on the situation?  These are just some of my thoughts that came as a result of reading this book.

I did enjoy the book. It was pretty fast-paced and fairly predictable, but I will probably be on the lookout for Book Three in this series and see who sways Bailey from her pretend male role.

This book was given me by Bethany House for the purpose of reading and writing a review on it. All opinions are my own.