Friday, December 17, 2010


I just had a chance to view some wonderful Christmas short films. They are available on iTunes. You can download them and watch them whenever you want. Not only will your kids enjoy them, but you will love them just the same.

Once Upon A Christmas Village

Have you ever woken up one morning and no matter what you did, nothing seemed to turn out right? Well, that is what happens to Santa in this short film. Due to the fact that his day goes awry, it allows for a town of decorations to come alive. They for once get to verbalize and experience things that they never could before.

The graphics are amazing. Along with the great colors, it really draws you in to this short film. The storyline is great too, which includes song and dance. Two of the actors that lend their voices to make this a really great story come to life are Tim Curry (The Rocky Horror Picture Show) and Jim Belushi (According To Jim). I actually watched it more than one time and I am not a child.

Mr. Bojagi

Everybody wants to find someone the perfect gift right? If only we had a magic way of telling us what would make the perfect gift for someone. In this short film, a grandmother goes to a special gift selector to enlist him in helping her find the perfect gift for her granddaughter. What she finds out is, what really makes a great gift vs. what she thinks makes a great gift.

This short film had an amazing learning lesson and great actors that brought this story to life. The amazing shop owner in this short film is played by British acting legend Brian Blessed (Flash Gordon, I, Claudius).

Monsters & Rabbits

Did you have a make believe friend when you were little? Or do you have a child who has one? Either way you guys will enjoy this short film about a boy who has a pretend friend/world that he goes to when things aren't working out right in his own. But what happens to that make believe friend when you find another friend to play with?

This was just as cute as the rest of them. It can teach kids lessons about friendships and how important they are to have.

After watching these three short films, I have decided to go to iTunes and download some for my daughter to have on hand. I have only downloaded music from iTunes, but do want to see more of these, so off I go to iTunes. If you don't want to purchase any, at least go and check them out. You may know someone who would like to watch them or download them for their kids to watch.

Thanks to Debbie Park for giving me the opportunity to watch and review these short films.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Little Liza Freeze and the Magical Ice Cream Cone Tree, by Barbara Walker

About the book:

Little Liza Freeze and the Magical Ice Cream Cone Tree by Barbara Walker
ISBN: 978-1439243343
Publisher: BookSurge Publishing
Date of publish: Nov 17, 2009
Pages: 34

When Liza Freeze prepared to move to a new town, she expected one thing to remain exactly the same: that her shyness would prevent her from making friends. But her new home, Chill Junction, turned out to be a magical place where wishes come true. Liza soon asks for a magical ice cream cone tree that will bring children together and help make her new friends. The tree appears and children flock to Liza's yard, excited to meet her and play in front of the colorful tree.

About the author:

Barbara Walker is a care giver and writer. A recent graduate of the Children's Institute of Literature in West Redding, CT., Walker is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and illustrators. She resides in Oak Park where she is currently working on other projects.

My view:
I think this is a really cute book. The story line is a great one that every child who is moving to a new town could identify with. This book will allow a child to feel comfortable with the idea of moving and meeting new friends all over again. Also, the illustrations are drawn as though a little child drew them. I feel this can help them identify with and also stay intrigued when read the story.

Wear Joy

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas! Enjoy these Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom"! Please follow along through Christmas day as Melody Carlson, Lauraine Snelling, Rachel Hauck, Tricia Goyer, Maureen Lang, and more share their heartfelt stories of how God has touched their life during this most wonderful time of the year.

AND BEST OF ALL ... there's also a giveaway!!!! Fill out the quick form at the link located at the bottom of this post to be entered to win a PEARL NECKLACE, BRACELET AND EARRINGS! You may enter once a day. The winner will be announced on New Year's Day at the Pearl Girls Blog! Pearls - a tangible reminder of God's grace to us all.

Wear Joy
by Rachel Hauck

Thanksgiving day in central Florida broke warm and sunny under a blue sky. The thin fall breeze beckoned me. Taking my bike out, I rode the neighborhood feeling so grateful for all my blessings.

Joy bubbled up in my spirit. I’d been feeling it for a day, these waves of joy, but as I rode my bike and talked to God, the waves strengthened and splashed my heart the entire ride.

I’d laugh. Then tear up. And laugh again. As one who’s battled and won the war on anxiety and fear attacks, the onslaught of joy was welcomed, and actually sparked a new prayer in my heart. I’ve endured attacks of panic, time for attacks of joy.

The journey of joy began earlier in the year while writing a book coincidentally named, “Dining with Joy.”

Sitting at my table one day, revelation hit me. “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” Nehemiah 8:10. The more I meditated on it, the more I wanted His joy. I don’t want my strength. I want His.

Not long after, I went to Nashville for a girl’s weekend. One of my friends handed me a coffee cup inscribed with “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”

Ever just know? God is calling.

During the holiday season, I turn 50. Yep, the big 5-0. Can’t stop it, I might as well embrace it.

Fifty is often associated with jubilee, a time of restoration, and healing, even release from debt and slavery. It’s a time of returning to property, and inheritance.

A time of rest.

A time of JOY!

This past week, a friend gifted me with a beautiful Christmas ornament. Inscribed on it? You guessed it.


To me, the world doesn’t look very joyful. There are social and economic woas. But God is speaking and offering joy.

As you go into this holiday season, ask God for a pearl of joy. Like pearls, crafted through abrasion, God’s true joy is often formed in us during difficult seasons.

Here’s the thing, His strength isn’t doled out based on our goodness, our success or failure, or the fact the holiday season is hard or sad for you. He is ready, willing and able to overcome all your weaknesses, fears and anxiety, sadness with the power of His very own joy.

His joy. Your strength.

I’ve been walking into rooms, houses, outdoors, raising my arms and shouting, “Joy!” People look at me funny, but I want to spread the joy of the Lord. To spread the very essence of His strength.

How about you? Can you find the pearl of joy in your life, in the essence of God’s heart toward you?

Wear joy this season.


About Rachel: RITA-finalist Rachel Hauck lives in Florida with her husband, Tony. She is the author of Dining with Joy; Sweet Caroline; Love Starts with Elle; and The Sweet By and By, co-authored with Sara Evans. For more information please visit

Oh, and be sure to enter Rachel's Dining With Joy NOOK eReader giveaway!


A three strand pearl necklace will be given away on New Year's Day. All you need to do to have a chance of winning is {FILL OUT THIS QUICK ENTRY FORM}. The winner will be announced on the Pearl Girls Blog ( on New Years Day!

12 Pearls of Christmas Series and contest sponsored by Pearl Girls®. For more information, please visit

Monday, December 13, 2010

Pearls of Patience

Hello - I'm thrilled to announce the 2nd Annual 12 Pearls of Christmas! We've lined up several authors to share their Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom"! Please follow along beginning today (Monday the 13th) through Christmas day as Melody Carlson, Lauraine Snelling,  Rachel Hauck, Tricia Goyer, Maureen Lang, and more share their heartfelt stories of how God has touched their life during this most wonderful time of the year.

We are also providing this series as free content for your own blogs (as 12 html posts) - if you'd like to share the 12 Pearls of Christmas with your blog readers email ( and she'll send you the content.

AND BEST OF ALL ... there's also a giveaway!!!! Fill out the quick form at the link located at the bottom of this post or any of the following 12 Pearls of Christmas posts (on any of the participating posts) to be entered to win a PEARL NECKLACE, BRACELET AND EARRINGS! You may enter once a day. The winner will be announced on New Year's Day! Pearls - a tangible reminder of God's grace to us all.


Pearls of Patience
by Margaret Mcsweeney

As I write by the light of my Christmas tree on a late winter’s night, I reflect upon the poignancy and purpose of this season.  The tiny white lights look like strands of pearls draped gracefully (perhaps haphazardly is a more honest description) across the evergreen boughs.  Tomorrow I will hang the ornaments and at last place the angel atop the tree   

Angels carry a special meaning this Christmas.  My brother, Randy passed away on December 2nd from a heart attack at age 53.  He was feeding a stray cat on his side porch.  Randy was always like St. Francis of Asissi – animals would find him, sensing a kind soul.  And my brother was a gentle and patient soul.  He loved to fish.  He tried to teach me, but I immediately lost interest when I realized worms were involved. And I could never sit still on the banks of a river and just wait.  However, Randy could do that.  He could wait, and waiting is a true gift.  He put into practice the Scriptures.  “Wait upon the Lord.”  “Be still and know that He is God.”  Patience doesn’t have to be passive.  Wait is still an action verb.  Part of the waiting process for fishing is seeking.  Elaine (Randy’s wife of 31 years) told me that Randy said he could see the fish deep beneath the waters.  He actively waited for the right time to catch them.

During Randy’s last fishing trip on earth – just a week before his death, he felt an urgency to take a picture of the clouds with his cell phone.  When he returned home, he showed the picture to Elaine.  They realized that a face of an angel was looking at Randy from the sky – perhaps waiting for God’s timing to bring Randy home to heaven.  Maybe this “angel in the sky” was part of the heavenly host that appeared to the shepherds over two thousand years ago.  A Christmas Angel.

The Christmas Angels brought tidings of great joy that Jesus, our Lord and Savior was born.  And because of that incredible gift from God that these angels announced, we all have the promise of eternity. As we await Christ’s return, let us actively wait by seeking fish – not the kind you have to catch with worms, but rather with words.  Words, or rather good tidings, can bring hope to the hopeless and faith to the faithless. 

May each of you be blessed this Christmas season by the words you say, the words you hear and the Word you share.   And may the 12 Pearls of Christmas be a blessing to you, too.


About Margaret: Margaret McSweeney lives with her husband, David and two teenage daughters in the Chicago suburbs. After earning a master's degree in international business from the University of South Carolina, Margaret moved to New York City to work at a large bank where she met David. Charity and community involvement are very important to Margaret. She is the founder and director of Pearl Girls. For more information please visit Margaret is fast at work on several fiction manuscripts and her book Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace was written to help fund the Pearl Girl Charities. Connect with Margaret on Facebook or Twitter.


A three strand pearl necklace will be given away on New Year's Day. All you need to do to have a chance of winning is {FILL OUT THIS QUICK ENTRY FORM}. The winner will be announced on the Pearl Girls Blog ( on New Years Day!
12 Pearls of Christmas Series and contest sponsored by Pearl Girls®. For more information, please visit

Sunday, December 12, 2010

12 Pearls of Christmas

Here's a sneak peak post of the 12 Pearls of Christmas series that I'll be hosting at my blog for the next few weeks! Please follow along through Christmas day as each post shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during this most wonderful time of the year. AND BEST OF ALL ... there's also a giveaway!!!! Fill out the quick form at the link located at the bottom of this post to be entered to win a PEARL NECKLACE, BRACELET AND EARRINGS!  Pearls - a tangible reminder of God's grace to us all.


Did She Know?
by Anna Joujan

Mary, did you know . . . that your baby boy is Heaven’s perfect Lamb?  And the sleeping child you’re holding is the great I AM

I am in the middle of a revival of my used-to-be-annual project of a Christmas card sketch.  For several years, with a few years missed, I have done a sketch of some image of Mary the Mother of Jesus, something that came to my mind without complete awareness of why that particular picture was needing to be put to paper.  It was originally a simple pencil sketch that, once completed, I would have printed out into a set of cards that would go out to all my friends and family.  Along with the sketch, however, I have always had a verse that came to mind to signify the meaning of the drawing in my mind.  And so I have had images such as “Be it unto me according to your word,” as well as a more enigmatic one that went with “Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me . . .”  But each one was important for that year of my life.  And so I would spend the necessary costs in order to produce and mail in relatively large scales, for my general penny-pinching tendencies.

This year I did not expect to produce a card.  The fact of my life lately as a boarding school librarian/teacher in Zambia, Africa, has made such projects feel rather far-removed from the realm of possibility.
And yet, I have had an image in my head for several months now.  I started to put it to paper, and I abandoned it for a bit, figuring it was a bit frivolous with all the practical work I had to do.  But then I picked it up again, and it is now nearing the stage of completion, hopefully to be completed with printing and mailing once I arrive in the U.S. for a holiday visit with family.

What I realized is that, frivolous though it may seem, it is actually quite important.  For women [especially Western women of faith], the holidays carry with them great amounts of expectation and stresses.  So much so that we often get swallowed up with the hectic pace and forget to soak in the meaning.  What is important for each of us, I believe, is to “pick and choose.”  We must resist the pressure to do what doesn’t not bring meaning for us.  And we must cling to those traditions and activities that promote an aura of true, Christ-centered celebration for ourselves and for our loved ones.

So this year, Lord willing, I will be sending out my cards—and enjoying every bit of it; and in case you wondered, Mary did you know . . .?  will be the theme


About Anna:  Anna G. Joujan was born in South Dakota, as a Canadian citizen, and was raised in Zambia, the child of missionary teachers.  Since her family’s move to the U.S., Anna spent her childhood and early adulthood traveling throughout the world thanks to various educational and work opportunities . . . France, China, Peru, and Jamaica being some of the stops in her journeys. Her undergraduate degree in French Literature led to a Masters in Information Sciences, and to work as a college and high school librarian, and a cross country coach. She has also returned to Zambia multiple times to teach for individual families and for local schools. All the while continuing pursuing her passions of writing, artwork, photography . . . and card-production.  You can find her online at


A three strand pearl necklace will be given away on New Year's Day. All you need to do to have a chance of winning is {FILL OUT THIS QUICK ENTRY FORM}. One entry per person, per day. The winner will be announced on the Pearl Girls Blog ( on New Years Day!

12 Pearls of Christmas Series and contest sponsored by Pearl Girls®. For more information, please visit

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Then Sings My Soul (Special Edition), by Robert J. Morgan

Then Sings My Soul (Special Edition), by Robert J. Morgan is by far one of the most interesting books I have reviewed so far.What a great book to own!

I was first drawn in by the very beautiful, calm picture that covers the entire book. The green rolling hills along with the sun setting behind the clouds is just magnificent. Then to see the edges of the pages, which are jagged in a way to where it makes you feel as though you are reading a book set back in the era when most of these songs were written. I also love how the actual sheet music to the songs is on one side of the page and right across from it, you have the background story of each song. Underneath the title of every song, is the year that it was written, followed by a Bible verse. Then it goes into who wrote it and why it was written. The history behind some of these songs are very enduring. It is neat to find out where and why some of the best loved hymns (along with Christmas and Easter songs) have made their way into the hearts of so many people.

Within the book you will find 150 songs. Yes that is right, 150 songs! Some of my favorite that made it in the book are as follows:

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
There's a Song in the Air
It Came Upon the Midnight Clear

Christ the Lord Is Risen Today
There Is Power in the Blood

Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow
Great Is They Faithfulness

My Country, 'Tis of Thee

Spiritual Hymns:
Amazing Grace
What a Friend We Have in Jesus
When We All Get to Heaven

This book would make a great gift or can be used as a devotional or used to sing songs with the whole family as they stand together around the piano spending quality time together. I really love this book and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoy singing these songs either in church or at home.

I thank Thomas Nelson for giving me the opportunity to review this book.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Adventures of Isaiah James: Beach Boy, by Sabrina K. Carpenter

About the book:

The Adventures of Isaiah James: Beach Boy by Sabrina K. Carpenter
ISBN: 978-0982773710
Publisher: Perfected Pen Publishing
Date of publish: Sept 25, 2010
Pages: 30
S.R.P.: $12.95

About the author:

Sabrina Carpenter is originally from Connecticut and currently resides in Vero Beach, Florida. She is the business owner of both Perfected Pen and Perfected Pen Publishing and strives to continually act as an advocate for children, education and non-profit organizations.

My thoughts:

Some say good children books are hard to find. I believe this to be true at times. Well, I just recently read a really cute children's book, The Adventures of Isaiah James: Beach Boy, by Sabrina K. Carpenter.

This story is about a little boy who's parents decide to take him on a trip, which happens to be a surprise. He eagerly wakes up and tries to figure out where they are going to go. Once he is given some clues as to what to pack, he realizes they are going to the beach. After they arrive, he sees beach balls, makes a sand castle, plays with crabs, etc. They realize how much fun they have had and then decide to go home.

This is a really cute book. It is a very well written story. Every young child should enjoy this story along with the beautiful, soft, colorful graphics that accompany it. I believe every child should have this book on their shelf, along with the rest of the stories that will come with this series.

I thank Bostick Communications and Sabrina K. Carpenter for giving me the opportunity to review this book.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Kosher by Design Teens and 20-Somethings, by Susie Fishbein

How many of you love to cook? How many of you started out at a young age? Well, I have been given the opportunity to review a really great cookbook geared for teens and people in their twenties. I am referring to Susie Fishbein's latest cookbook, Kosher by Design Teens and 20-Somethings. This is her latest in the Kosher by Design series.

The beginning of the cookbook has a couple of different sections. The first one talks about what you need to do to get started cooking. The second one gives you different healthy eating tips along with the right equipment to use. The third one tells you about the different labels and how to read them. Beside every recipe is a label to let you know what type of recipe it is. For instance, there is V for vegetarian, GF for gluten-free, DF for dairy-free, and NF for nut-free. So as you can see, this cookbook isn't just for regular diets, it also accommodates those that have health issues, which in this day in age is a great inclusion.

Just like most cookbooks, the recipes are broken down into different sections. I will break them down for you along with one of the recipes that I liked from each section.

1) Starters - Jamaican Jerk Chicken Wings
2) Munchies - Scones
3) Soups and Salads - Lox and Avocado Salad
4) Poultry and Meat - Teriyaki Mushroom Chicken
5) Fish, Pasta, and Dairy - Pesto Salmon
6) Side Dishes - Banana Pumpkin Cornbread
7) Desserts - Chocolate Chocolate Chip Sticks
8) Parties - Gives you ideas of party themes you can have

The recipes themselves are well written and very simple. One thing that I really loved is that there is a picture for every single recipe in the book. I love this because I like to see what it is going to look like before I make it. I need some kind of idea how it is going to turn out. They are very colorful also. Great presentation!

All in all I have to say that I really love this cookbook. I think that everyone should go out and purchase it. It will make a great addition to the ones they have or a great starter if they don't have one yet. I know this one has convinced me to go out and get her other ones and try them out.

I thank Marcus Wynn Goup Public Relations for giving me this book for an honest review.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

City On Our Knees, by Tobymac

There are a lot of people out there in the world that want to do good for others. Some people still have a genuine heart, even though there is a ton of turmoil out there. In Tobymac's book, City On Our Knees, there is a collection of people's stories that show how much God still uses people in order to help the less fortunate. This book is also somewhat based on Tobymac's song, by the same title.

The book is broken down into four different sections, which are the lyrics from his song.

1) If We Gotta Start Sometime, Why Not Now? Step Across the Line

2) Two Worlds Collide: Out of the Comfort Zone ... and into the Light

3) We Are One Choice From Together: We Are Family

4) Through The Fog There Is Hope In The Distance: Hope Is Just a Prayer Away

Throughout the book you will find different quotes from people and Bible verses. He has them before the stories and at the end of them. You will also find little blog sections that he has included before each section begins. Some of the stories that you will find in the book are of people choosing to adopt a kid from a foreign country or even about a young child with terminal cancer who saves up enough money for research before she dies. A lot of the stories are very touching and make you realize how important God is in some people's lives. How much they rely on him to make the right choices. Within this book you can hopefully take the courage that some of these people have had and intertwine it into your own life.

I really enjoyed reading this book. It showed me how much you can go out there and make a difference in other people's lives. God can use us all in different ways to benefit the lives of other people. I think this would be a good book for anyone to read.

I thank Bethany House for giving me this book for an honest review.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Love Is A Flame, by James Stuart Bell

How many of you are in love? Now, when I say in love, I mean truly in love. Have any of you ever had your love tested? In the book, Love Is A Flame, by James Stuart Bell, there are a collection of stories about people who either had their love tested or rekindled.

At the beginning of the book is a foreword by Gary Chapman. He is the author of the book The Five Love Languages. In the foreword, he writes about marriage and love and how important it is. He also talks about how he went through a myriad of emotions as he read this book.

When you get to the end of every story, the author gives a little explanation or more or less his insight into what the story is about.

There were a couple of stories that really stood out when I read this book. One touched my heart more than any other story in the book. It was about a couple who got into the typical rut of daily life. The husband wanted things to change, so he planned a trip to Paris for his wife's birthday. When they got there, they had the time of their life. It was what they had needed to get the spark back. After the trip, when things seemed to get down and out, her husband would turn to her and say, (in a Boggy voice) 'Will always have Paris, Schweetheart'.

This book has a lot of touching and enduring stories. I loved reading them. They will bring out all of your emotions. I really enjoyed this book and think that everyone should read it.

I was given a copy of the book from Bethany House for an honest review.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

"Big Red" Holy Bible - Contemporary 3-D Art, by Tommy Nelson

How old were you when you received your first Bible? Did it come from a parent or from a Bible class? Back when I was younger, the Bibles for kids weren't all that appealing. There were just the typical small little New Testament only books. Well, Thomas Nelson has come out with a really great revision of their International Children's Bible. It is the Big Red Holy Bible - Contemporary 3-D Art.  

When I first received this Bible I was in awe. First of all, the cover itself is very attractive. It has sparkly colors on the front and a couple of 3-D pictures of some of the Bible stories inside. The picture of Jesus in 3-D is also done very well. The way the Bible is translated for the kids to read is great also. My daughter is only 7 years old and she is able to read and understand it all by herself without my help. As stated before, the 3-D pictures are beautiful. They stand out and the detail in them are true to life. I caught myself looking at them over and over again and wishing that they had more. Also in the back of the Bible is a dictionary, Where do I find it?, a section of God's promises, memory verses, and a couple of maps.

I think this is a great Bible and highly recommend it for every kid to have. It is stated that it is for a Grade 3 reading level, but like I said, my daughter is 7 and can read and understand it on her own.

This book was given to me by Thomas Nelson for an honest review.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Red Ink, by Kathi Macias

Do you believe in God? If so, how often do you rely on him to help you through your life? In the story Red Ink, by Kathi Macias, the third book in the Extreme Devotion Series, shows just how important God is and how some rely on him to make it through the tough times that they experience.

Zhen-Li is a young woman who has a strong love for God. Even though it has put her in harms way and has landed her in jail away from her family and friends, there is no one who is more important to her than him. While in jail, she has learned that he is the only one that can help her deal with the torture that she faces from a guard who is trying to break her belief. She also takes the time to witness to her cell mate, Mei, about God and how wonderful he is. Even though she realizes that this is highly frowned upon and can get her killed, she risks it just so that she can show her love of God or more or less his love for us.

Tai Tong is a young twenty year old guard at the jail where Zhen-Li resides. He is one of the toughest ones that they have. He prides himself on how great he is at his job. He is know as being able to break anyone that is under his control. That is until Zhen-Li is assigned to him. She becomes the challenge that he has longed to have. Every time she mentioned how much she loved her God, it presented him with the rage that he needed and loved to torture her into breaking and becoming his personal "sex slave". But no matter how hard he tries, there is something or someone who keeps him from prevailing.

Julia is an older women, who lives in an assisted living home due to the fact that she broke her hip and can no longer live on her own. Though she has met a couple of people, God is the one she talks to the most and relies on for help. One day, she feels compelled to pray for a young woman in China who is in dire need of help. She doesn't know any information about this woman. All she know is that God has pressed upon her to pray for her, and she does. Not only does she pray for the young woman in China, she also prays for one of the residents, Margaret, who has a granddaughter that brings new challenges to their living quarters.

Mei (Zhen-Li's cell mate), Zhou Chi (Zhen-Li's husband), Maggie (Margaret's grandchild) and Yin Xei (Zhen-Li's mother) all have pivotal parts in this story also. The way that everyone is intertwined is amazing. It shows how one pray can affect a million people. And that is what happens in this story. A person prays for another and their life is changed by that devotion and pray, which leads to the most surprising result that one could even imagine.

I really liked this story. So much that I am going to go out and buy the first two books in this series. I am going to also purchase the fourth one when it comes out. This story shows you just how much your love for Christ can help you conquer anything if you truly put your heart and soul in his care.

I thank Dee for the opportunity to read and give an honest review of this book.

Friday, October 22, 2010

101 Recipes for GLUTEN-FREE Microwave Mug Cakes, by Stacey J. Miller

Do you or someone you know have a food allergen problem? I do and it is not always easy to handle. At times it can be hard to find really good food for them to eat and enjoy. Due to the fact that food allergies are becoming more and more prevalent, allergy free recipe books are starting to pop up all over the place. One book in particular, 101 Recipes for GLUTEN-FREE Microwave Mug Cakes, by Stacey J. Miller has become a household favorite of ours. If you are gluten intolerant and love cakes, this book is for you. Of course, you can use the book even if you are not gluten intolerant. There are cakes in here that everyone can enjoy.

*Click here to order the book* 

First of all, there are 101 different gluten-free microwave mug cake recipes. That alone should be exciting enough for someone who is gluten intolerant to want to own the book. That is over a cake a day for the next three months!!! Another great thing is that they take only 10 minutes or less to make from start to finish. All you do is mix the ingredients together, pour it into a mug, put it in the microwave and wait for it to finish. It is as simple as that.

Just to give you and idea of what is in the book, I have listed a couple of mug cakes below:

Very Cherry Microwave Mug Cake
Banana Chocolate Chip Microwave Mug Cake
Strawberry Cheesecake Microwave Mug Cake
Coffee Cheesecake Microwave Mug Cake
Lemon and Lime Microwave Mug Cake
Pina Colada Microwave Mug Cake

Beside every recipe, there is a small note with a whimsical statement or question for you to answer. Also at the top of some recipes, you will find icons that let you know if it calls for 'no eggs, dairy, sugar, or oil'. Another interesting tidbit is that at the back of the book, the recipes that require no eggs, dairy, sugar, or oil are all organized by their ingredient category. So if you are making one of these cakes for someone and they cannot have eggs, you can look down the list of all the cakes that do not require eggs and find one that they like. 

All in all, it is a great book filled with tons of single-serving cakes to make. And they are so simple that a child can even make them. So, grab the book, a mug, the ingredients, and pop it in and out of the microwave and enjoy a gluten-free mug cake.

I want to thank Stacey J. Miller for providing me a copy of the book for an honest review.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Blog Tour and Giveaway for Red Ink: October 21st - 28th

I am happy to announce the Red Ink Blog Tour and Giveaway that will be running today through next Thursday (October 28th). Red Ink is the third book in the Extreme Devotion Fiction Series by Kathi Macias.

   Day #1 - Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Cozy Reader’s Corner Reviews

At the Water Cooler

Be sure to stop back through on the 27th of October to read my review on the Red Ink book. And leave a comment to let me know how much you enjoyed it!!

Here is a small preview of the book:


Yang Zhen-Li was nearing thirty but at times felt twice that old. Her back was becoming permanently bent forward from the heavy pails she carried daily, one attached on each end of the thick bamboo rod that stretched across her shoulders, mirroring the heaviness of her heart. There had been a time when she’d been acclaimed as a beauty, but she could scarcely remember why…or imagine that it would matter.

She tried to fight the encroaching darkness, tried to hold fast to what she knew was true, but the constant lies and propaganda were taking a greater toll even than the physical labor and abuse or the burning, gnawing hunger. If her situation didn’t change soon, she knew she would never live long enough to see her husband or son again. And with nearly eight years of her ten-year sentence left to serve, the possibilities of her emerging from prison alive grew dimmer by the day.

For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. She forced herself to focus on one of the many scripture verses she’d had opportunity to memorize between the time she accepted Zhu Yesu as her Savior and her arrest by members of the Public Security Bureau (PSB) on charges of teaching religion to children, including giving them papers containing religious writings. Even before her arrest, her parents had written to her—warned her, begged her, threatened her—and finally had her kidnapped in an attempt to convince her to go along with the government rules, especially the one limiting each family to one child. After all, she already had a healthy son. Why would she want another baby when they could scarcely afford to feed the first one? But though her abductors had forcibly aborted her second child, they had not succeeded in convincing Yang Zhen-Li to abandon the faith she had adopted before marrying her Christian husband. If anything, the ordeal had only strengthened her resolve to take a stand for the meaning of her name—Zhen-Li, “Truth,”—and spurred her to begin actively sharing the Good News of Yesu every chance she got. As a trained teacher, that quite naturally included talking with children about the gospel, a practice expressly forbidden by the government.

And now she was paying the price. Separated from her family and sentenced to ten years of hard labor and “re-education,” Zhen-Li struggled to survive against pain, exhaustion, and bitter loneliness. Worst of all were the times she felt God had abandoned her. It wasn’t enough to know in her mind that He promised never to leave or forsake her. She needed a visible reminder—soon—if she was to continue to remain faithful behind these prison walls.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Breaking Free of Parenting Pressures, by Debbie Pokornik

Break Free of Parenting Pressures: Embrace Your Natural Guidance

Have you ever felt overwhelmed with being a parent? Do you ever feel as though you cannot live up to your or someone else's expectations of a "good parent"? Well, in Breaking Free of Parenting Pressures, by Debbie Pokornik, we learn just how to do that very thing. Break free and let go.

In this book we are shown how to deal with the various tasks of being parents. The book is broken down into four different parts:

Part 1 - Being a parent
Part 2 - Understanding you and your family
Part 3 - A free parenting pack
Part 4 - Caring for the caregiver

All throughout the book the author has placed free parenting tips for us to read and use. I found a lot of them to be very helpful. For instance, one of the tips was regarding privileges and taking them away as a measure of punishment for misbehavior. Also listed throughout the book are other helpful tidbits. There was one that I liked in particular, In Case of a Power Struggle-Emergency Guidelines. She suggested that you take the list and copy it and put it somewhere you could see it (and possibly use). Duly noted!

I also found very helpful were the different exercises at the end of each of the chapters. This made me feel as though I was really engaged in the book and it helped me get into the book a little more.

I really think that every parent should read this book. No matter where one is in their life with their kids, there isn't anything that we cannot learn. Whether you have 3, 2, or even 1 kid, there is something new you can learn. Remember, ever kid is different and you will have different experiences with them. I enjoyed it and feel as though you will too.

This book was give to me for free for an honest review.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I Will Not Be Silent, by April Maley

I Will Not Be Silent

Have you ever experienced something so horrendous words could not explain? Something that ingrained itself in your brain so deeply, you didn't know how you would ever get it out? In April  J. Maley's book, I Will Not Be Silent, that is exactly what occurs.

April was a typical 9 year old little girl except for one problem, she had an abusive-alcoholic for a father. Because of this, she had to take care of her siblings and try to attend school at the same time. Among other things, she also had to do her best to keep the house nice and tidy and cook all the meals. Unfortunately, her parents still found fault in her. She would always become the target for abuse. At night she would pray 'Dear God, please let Dad not be so angry and drink all the time, and for mom, please let her not be so sad and just love me and protect me.'

Throughout time, she saw things that ingrained themselves in her head. Like the time she walked in on her mother holding the gun to her head. Or the time when her parents got in a fight and her father hog tied her mother with and electric heating pad cord. More importantly, she would witness her father threatening to kill her mother over and over again.

One couldn't imagine how things could possibly get worse, but they did. She and her younger siblings were in the car waiting for her mother to return, when she saw the blood coming from her uncle's chest, her mother slumped over in the corner of the bedroom, and her father shouting back and forth at the cops with a gun in his hand. That was the day that changed her life forever.

The actions that day left her being diagnosed with manic depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Her brother Colton became a drug dealer and was in and out of the jail system. Her sister Lilly has had brushes with the law and her sister Mia was diagnosed with a bipolar disorder.

Throughout all of this, April has been able to get her life back on track. She has experienced major ups and downs and had to go through a lot to get were she is now.

I had a hard time writing a review for this book. Even though I recommend every one to read it, it was a hard one to write about. The author wrote this book so well that I could actually picture everything that was going on. I really felt for the character in this book. But putting all that aside, it was a good book to read and should be read by many others.

This book was given to me for an honest review.

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Christmas Pray, by Amy Parker

A Christmas Prayer, written by Amy Parker and illustrated by Marijan Ramljak, is a cute little book that tells of one little girl's perspective on Christmas.

Most kids think about what gift they are a going to receive under the tree vs. what they have given or the true gift of Christmas. In this book, the opposite happens. The little girl thanks God for every thing that was a part of the "first" Christmas. For example, she thanks God for the star that led the wise men to baby Jesus. Or more importantly, she thanks God for Gabriel who came down and told Mary about her unborn child.

I had my daughter read this book to see what she thought about it. She liked it. She was especially drawn to the colorful pictures in the book. The style of the poem was also simplistic enough for her to read and understand on her own.

I believe this would make a cute addition to any child's book collection. And even though it is not Christmas yet, the book is nice to have so that when December comes, I have something to pull out for her to read.

This book was given to me by Thomas Nelson Publishing for an honest review.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

You Changed My Life, by Max Lucado

I had never heard of Max Lucado until this year. You Changed My Life is a good book to have. The initial reason for this book is for it to be given out as a gift. That was initially my intention, but after reading it, I decided to keep it for myself.

The book is filled with multiple stories of how people's lives were changed by certain situations. There are eight sections: Love, Kindness, Commitment, Compassion, Hope, Courage, Wisdom, and Friendship. Within each section are different stories based on each particular section. At the end of some of the stories are Bible texts that correspond with it. Some of the stories have an inspirational quote on a picture page before it. I found the quotes amazing. You could gain inspiration from the quotes alone.

I felt this book was very uplifting. Anyone could find inspiration in here that they could relate to or even pass on to someone else (the true reason for the book). I highly recommend this book for someone to read or give out as a gift to a friend.

This book was given to me for an honest review.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Thorn, by Beverly Lewis (The Rose Trilogy #1)

I must say that I am a big Amish fan and to be able to read books about their life makes it all worthwhile, especially when you pick up a book by Beverly Lewis. She is a very talented writer, which makes her stories come alive when you read them. The Thorn (The Rose Trilogy #1), is about two sisters and their struggles with life.

The older sister is named Hannah, but she goes by Hen. She is married to an outsider. This causes a lot of friction because he doesn't want her to have anything to do with her past Amish life. Even though she loves her present life with her husband and child, she longs for the way things were when she was living with her Amish community. The fact that she wants her daughter to be able to experience some of the things that she did makes matters even worse.

The younger sister is named Rose, who realizes she wants to dedicate her life to the Amish ways and not that of the world. The only problem is her closest friend, Nick. He is and outsider who was brought in as a foster child. Because of his outsider ways, he tends to stir up a lot of trouble. Rose is cautioned to stay away from him, but can't help being friends with him and spending a ton of "secret" time with him. She is also going out with a guy named Silas. She knows he wouldn't approve of her time with Nick, but he is a great friend to her. What is most important is her choice to spend time with Nick or to let him go and spend her time with Silas.

I really enjoyed this book and look forward to reading the next ones that will follow. I highly recommend it, especially if you enjoy reading Amish books.

This book was given to me by Bethany House for an honest review.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Duck Song, by Bryant Oden

I just recently had the opportunity to review a really great kid's book, The Duck Song, by Bryant Oden. When I pulled it out of the box and looked at it, I realized my daughter had to read it for herself and I am glad I did. As she read it, she laughed all the way through. She truly enjoyed it. She enjoyed it so much that she ran downstairs and immediately read it to her grandparents.

The story is about a duck who wants some grapes. The only problem is that he goes daily to a man at a lemonade stand. Of course he doesn't have any. The duck is very persistent and keeps asking even after the man becomes very irate. You see, the man offers the duck some lemonade but the duck refuses only to come back asking for grapes. Finally, the man has a change of heart and decides to take the duck to the grocery store to find some grapes, where the duck also has a change of heart and wants some lemonade.

The illustrations in the book, by Forrest Whaley, are perfectly drawn. They are in somewhat of a cartoonish form and are very colorful. I noticed my daughter was not only into the story but also into looking at the pictures while she was reading the book.

The book comes with a button on the front that plays the Duck song while you read the story. Along with the book, you receive a music CD in the back that contains 12 tracks.

Here are two songs off of the CD. I must admit, the first one (I Got A Pea) has become a house hold hit. We fell in love with this song and sing it all the time while laughing!

Here is a video clip of 'I Got A Pea', one of the songs off of the music CD that comes with the book:

And here is another video clip of the song 'Honey Bear', which is also off of the CD:

I highly recommend this book for every one to own. It would make a great addition to your children's collection. You will enjoy it just as much as they will.

This book was given to me by Flinders Press in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop

In the spirit of the Twitter Friday Follow, the Book Blogger Hop is a place just for book bloggers and readers to connect and share our love of the written word! This weekly BOOK PARTY is an awesome opportunity for book bloggers to connect with other book lovers, make new friends, support each other, and generally just share our love of books! It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs to read!

This week's question:
Do you judge a book by its cover?

Unfortunately I have to say yes. I tend to look at a book and if the cover looks decent it gives me more of a reason to want to read it. This is only if I am trying to find a book to buy/read. Most of the time I try to gauge it by what the synopsis says, but most of the time it is from the cover. If I am given the book to review that is different, but if I am perusing shelves myself, then books tend to get cover judged.

Monday, August 23, 2010

What We Have by Amy Boesky

When you were a child, did you grow up with pictures of family on your wall? You could have had them in your hallway along the staircase, or in the family room on a bookshelf. Most of the time, this was a good thing. You were able to see relatives or yourself progress from a child into a teen and then an adult. Well for Amy, this was not the case. The photos that aligned her wall were photos of family members that died of ovarian cancer. It was a memorial wall.

As far as Amy could remember, she was plagued with the idea that she could one day develop ovarian cancer. This, of course, caused her to live her life by a time line. The goal was to graduate from college, get married, and have a certain amount of kids by a certain age and then have a hysterectomy. Because of her family history, she had to have certain tests performed every six months to make sure she was in the clear. The questionnaire part was fine, but the blood work, ultrasound, and then the "waiting" was grueling. And then six months later, it was the same procedure all over again.

Things for her were starting out the way she had wanted them to go. She got married and became pregnant. The exciting part was that her sister was also pregnant too. The things took a turn for the worse and her life started to feel as though it was crumbling. Her sister lost her baby and they became somewhat distant. She also found out through her mother that her sister was moving. Along the way they found out that their mother developed breast cancer, which was odd to them because it didn't run in their family. She lucked out and beat it, according to her doctor. Then five years or more later, she started to have back and side pain. At first they thought this was an osteoporosis problem but later found out that it was breast cancer that spread to her bones. This was very devastating of course. Breast cancer didn't run in their family and now their mother had stage 4 breast cancer. Each time she went in for test, the results turned up worse and worse. Then they found out that not only did and ovarian cancer gene run in their family, but also a breast cancer gene.

There are five stages called the Kubler-Ross's Stages:

1. Denial

2. Anger

3. Bargaining

4. Depression

5. Acceptance

Amy went through all of these stages of emotions when it came to dealing with her mother's cancer.

This book is one that I believe everyone should read. It is a great memoir that takes you through the true journey of cancer and how it affects not only the person who has it, but also the family related to that person.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Geek Dad, by Ken Denmead

How many of you love working on projects with your children? Most of you I am sure. Well I have the perfect book for you. It is called Geek Dad, by Ken Denmead. The book is filled with many different hands on projects that you can do with your children. And a lot of them are reasonably priced also.

First and foremost, is an introduction on what a geek dad/(mom) really is and how it came to be. I learned in order to be a true geek you need to have three important factors: Knowledgeability ( being able to store a lot of information and easily recall it), Social Skills (being able to form lasting friendships, but not in the popular sense), and Obsessiveness (one's ability to be able to catapult himself into something that he is passionate about).

The projects are broken down into six different sections in the book. These categories are games and crafts, activities for outdoors, accessories, kids go green, build/learn/geek, and potpourri (the geeky way of course). Each project also has an informational chart at the beginning for you to look over. At the top of the chart is the concept, so you know what you are about to work on. Second, is the cost which gives you an idea of how much you need to spend. Third, is the difficult level of the project. What is neat about this is that it is broken down by age group, so you know if your kid will be able to fully hands on complete it with you or not. Fourth, is the duration. This ranges from zero to fifteen minutes to three hours or longer. Fifth, is reusability.  I found this really helpful. It lets you know how many times a project can be used over again after it is completed. And last but not least are tools and materials.

Some of the projects that I thought were really cool are: Make Your Own Cartoon, The Coolest Homemade Coloring Book, Create the Ultimate Board Game, Build an Outdoor Movie Theater, Lite-up Duct Tape Wallet, and Exploding Drink Practical Joke.

This is a really great book and I encourage everyone to go out and get one for themselves. I think you would really enjoy working with your kids on these different projects and your kids will love them just the same. I highly recommend it. And if I can pull a line from the book, 'Go get your kid (s) and get started!'

This book was given to me for an honest review.

Friday, July 23, 2010

To Whom It May Concern: A Struggle to Survive

To Whom it May Concern: A Struggle to Survive This was a very hard review to write. The story line of the book I felt was okay, but the grammar was horrendous. Every three pages I encountered some grammatical problem. This caused major problems for me. English was my favorite subject in school and I have a hard time dealing with bad grammar. I struggled to get through this book.

To Whom It May Concern: A Struggle to Survive, by Joseph A. Klingman, is a story about a girl who goes through life trying to make it. She encounters all kinds of problems, but has the world's strongest determination to get through them.

Cynthia Thomas didn't have a typical childhood. The only thing that got her through was looking forward to her future being out of the house. Her father was very abusive toward her and her siblings. Unfortunately she received the brunt of it all. One day she brought home a paper that she received an A on and the teacher put a note on it saying that she could have done better. So her father made her write 'I could have done better' over and over again well into the night.

Once she graduated from high school, she went to St. Alban's University on a scholarship. The unfortunate thing about it was that she met a guy at a bar by the name of Dan Callahan. A couple of nights with him and her life started to change. She lost her scholarship. This in turn caused her to have to move and get a job. When she started working at Grahams Department Store, she was in for a rude awakening. Dan turned out to be married to the lady who owned the store. What started out as a bad situation, started to take a turn for the better. Ms. Graham, the owner, offered to help Cynthia out by letting her stay with her and giving her a better position at work. She also helped her brother receive a scholarship to the college and brought her sister up to live with them also.

Throughout her life, she and Dan met up and had a relationship pretty much like her childhood. He technically wasn't any better to her than her own father. The night before her graduation (she was to receive her MBA) Dan raped her and beat her up to the point of hospitalization. Throughout the ordeal, she pictured her father saying and doing everything to her. No matter what, she felt like she could not get away from her childhood life. One good thing that came out of that dreadful night was meeting her doctor, who in turn, later became her husband.

After her marriage, her life started to look up. She started fundraisers and later on had three children.

This book was a good read. I will say that if you have a hard time reading books where the grammar isn't 100% perfect, you might want to reconsider.

This book was given to me from Dorrance Publishing for an honest review.

Monday, July 5, 2010

A Big, Big Dream by Michael Scott Roberts

Every parent wants a good book to either read to their child or have their child be able to read and enjoy. Well, I have found that very book.

A Big, Big Dream, written and illustrated by Michael Scott Roberts, is a story about Milton Hershey. The story is set up as though a teacher is speaking to his students about having dreams and making them come true. The story lets you know that no matter what your dreams are, big or small, they can come true.

Milton's story starts out when he was a young boy and was taught important values by his parents on their farm. When he gets a little older, he starts to work in a candy shop. That is where his love for candy began and also where his dream, of owning his own candy business came about. Sometime later, once he grows up, he opens his own candy shop. The first one wasn't successful. Neither was the second one. Yet he kept at it. One day a man from Europe purchases a large order from him, which enables him to build a big manufacturing company. He also opened up a school called the Hershey Industrial School, which is now called The Milton Hershey School.

At the top of the book are words to a song that goes along with the story. When you purchase the book, it comes with a code that lets you download the song and story so your child can follow along by themselves. I did this for my daughter and she loved it.

This is a really good book that can teach the older kids about their future becoming a reality and can also engage the younger ones because of the great illustrations and song. I highly recommend this book as a must read for all kids.

This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Scars and Stilettos, by Harmony Dust - Blog Tour and Book Giveaway

A lot of us think that we have a hard life. We whine and complain about the little things that go wrong in our life. Little do we realize, there are other people out there who are going through things worse than we are. In Scars and Stilettos, by Harmony Dust, we are taken through the life a young girl who has to struggle just to survive and make it to the top.

Harmony's story starts out around the age of three years old when she was shown pornography by a male relative. At the age of five, two female friends of the family had a "slumber party" with her. By the age of seven, she was threatened by a boy to take her panties off. Unfortunately, that wasn't the end. She wound up dating a friend of the families and he was completely controlling. He drove her finances into the ground causing her to find extra means of income. Through all of this, she maintained her place in college, striving to succeed and get a psychology degree.

In order to make more money to support herself and her boyfriend, she started to strip. At first it was really awkward. Then as time went by, it became easier and easier. As time went by she began to hate it more and more. Then one day, a friend of hers invited her to church. She decided to go and loved it. She felt like that was the place for her. With God in her life, there wasn't anything that she couldn't do. This prompted her to break up with her boyfriend and quit stripping.

After God came into her life and helped her turn it around, she met and married a wonderful Christian man. She also received her MA in Social Welfare and is part of a company called, Treasures, which help other women in the sex industry get out.

I recommend this book for everyone to read, especially those who are going through problems and feel as though there is no hope for them.

This review is part of a blog tour for Scars and Stilettos. Click here to see what other bloggers on this blog tour think about this book.

I also have a chance for you to win a copy of Scars and Stilettos by Harmony Dust for yourself.

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Giveaway ends Friday, 7/09/10, at 11:59pm EDT. Winner will be picked using a random number generator. Winner will have 72 hours to reply to my email with mailing info. If no response in that time, a new winner will be picked. US only, 18 and over. Book will be mailed by me.

LitFuse Publicity and Kregel Publications provided the books for review and giveaway. I was not compensated in any way for this review. 

Thursday, June 24, 2010

How To Get Your Kids To Embrace Reading During The Summer

 Twittermoms and HarperCollins are getting together and looking for people to write blog posts on how they get their kids to read (click here to learn more). This isn't hard for me because my daughter loves to read. I will admit that we do occasionally have our melt downs where she doesn't want to read or wants to just read a short book, but most of the time it isn't a hard thing to get her to do.

During the summer most kids have a harder time wanting to read because it is either a nice day outside or there is something on TV that they want to see or perhaps there is a video game that they want to play. One thing that you can do or that I do is sign your child up to a summer reading program with the library. Our library holds a summer reading program where children state how many books they think they can complete over the summer. Once they do this, they read their books and bring their tally sheets to have it signed off weekly. Each time they have it signed off, they get to pick out a prize. This creates a great incentive for a child to keep reading. Once they are done reading the amount of books they signed off for, they can pick out a book to take home and keep.

Another thing I do is go to a bookstore and have my daughter pick out a book that she wants to read. When she is done with that particular book, we will go back to the store and pick out another one. A good thing about this is that they can keep the book vs. having to return them when checked out from the library.

One other thing that one can do is have a picnic reading session. This can be really fun. You take a picnic basket with your blanket and sit at a park and read. I find my daughter enjoys reading more when I read with her vs. having her read on her own. And if you have a picnic reading session, you can eat (what kid doesn't like to eat) while your reading.

A finale thing you can do to get your child do read is have them read books over the internet. They have a ton of sites where your child can read a book in his or her age bracket/reading level. What child wouldn't love to pull a book up on the internet and read it? Children now days love computers and seem to be more competent with them then we are, so I can see where this would be fun. I have actually had my daughter do this and she really enjoyed it.

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Monday, June 7, 2010

The Girls from Ames: A Story of Women & a Forty-Year Friendship, by Jeffrey Zaslow

How close are you to your closest friends? Did you meet them in college, high school, or grade school? Not many people can say they are still friends with the same people they met up with in grade school, let alone have a strong lasting bond with a group of friends for a long period of time. Most of the time when we attend a different school or even go away to college, the bond that was there, slowly dissipates. And other times when we become married we start a new life with our “new” family and we slowly see things starting to trickle away. But there are some people who can actually make it work and keep a strong bonding friendship for years and years and years. And that is what happened between Angela, Cathy, Diana, Jane, Jenny, Karen, Karla, Kelly, Marilyn, Sally and Sheila. The Girls from Ames: A Story of Women & a Forty-Year Friendship, by Jeffrey Zaslow.

Every so often, the girls from Ames get together and reminisce about the past and engage in conversation about the present. When they are together at these reunions, they feel as though they are still those young girls in the pictures that they pull out to look over. And throughout this book, we are taken on that very journey with them as they discuss how their lives began and what they went through that led up to such an incredible bonding friendship.

It all started about forty some years ago when two of the girls were born in the same hospital days after each other. Little did they realize, they would become great friends later on. Some of the girls met up in kindergarten or first grade, whereas, a couple of them were pulled in by being friends with some of the girls already a part of the group or living next to them.

As they started to mature, they began going to formals and on dates, of course, some more than others. They experienced their first concerts, parties, hair changes, first jobs and even ostracizing. After growing up some more, they headed off to college. This is where you would suspect that their friendships would start to break off, but it didn’t. They maintained a steady friendship through letters and later on emails. Marriages, kids, health scares, divorce and even deaths couldn’t keep these girls friendships from separating. And to this day, they are still just as close.

Throughout the book we also learn about the benefits of women having close friendships. There are different studies on how close friendships can lead to women living a longer happier life. Some of the research showed that people with friends tend to be a lot healthier than those who didn’t have any. Another research showed that women with strong friendships tended to have better marriages.

While reading this book I learned a lot about the benefits of having lasting friendships. It made me want to call or write my friends and thank them for being in my life. There is nothing that can replace the closeness of a friend and this book proves it. I highly recommend this as a must read.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Somewhere to Belong, by Judith Miller

Have you ever lived in one type of “world” and was put into another one? Or lived in one place and chose to visit another? In a sense, that is what happens to the two girls in this story, Somewhere to Belong, by Judith Miller. This is the first book in the Daughters of Amana Series, which is set in the Amana colonies in 1877.

Johanna Ilg, a 24 year old girl, has lived in one of the seven Amana colonies all her life. Much like the Amish community, they dress in solid dark colors, eat in communal settings, and rely heavily on God. Johanna’s older brother has chosen to move away from the colony and live in Chicago. This peaks her interest, but her parents don’t approve of her wanting to visit Chicago. The only form of the outside world that she gets are visitors to the area, until the Schumachers move in.

Berta Schumacher, a 16 year old girl who hails from Chicago, has moved to the Amana colonies with her parents. She is devastated that she has to live in an area where life is pretty much dull compared to what her life was like in Chicago. With her stubborn ways, she wrecks havoc in her new world.

Johanna is chosen to show Berta the ways of the Amana colonies and has a hard time getting the young girl under control. Throughout their up and down times together, they become closer than expected and learn to confide in each other. Little by little secrets start to come out and unexpected situations arise. These are what leave Johanna and Berta to make the biggest choices in their lives.

I highly recommend this book. It was a great read. Judith Miller’s writing makes you dive into the book and has you feeling as though you are right there experiencing everything that the people are going through in the book.

This book was given to me by Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.