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Monday, October 5, 2015

Book Review~Ties That Bind

About the Book (from the publisher):

Twenty-year-old Ariana Brenneman loves her family and the Old Ways. She has two aspirations: open a cafe in historic Summer Grove to help support her family's ever-expanding brood, and keep any other Amish from being lured into the Englisch life by Quill Schlabach.

Five years ago Quill and her dear friend Frieda ran off together, and Ariana still carries the wounds of that betrayal. When she unexpectedly encounters him again, she realizes he has plans to help someone else she loves leave the Amish.

Despite how things look, Quill's goal has always been to protect Ariana from anything that might hurt her, including the reasons he left. After returning to Summer Grove, he unearths secrets about Ariana and her family that she is unaware of. His loyalty to her beckons him to try to win her trust-because when she learns the truth that connects her and a stranger named Skylar Nash, Quill knows it may upend her life forever.

What I Thought: 

Cindy Woodsmall is one of my favorite authors, so I was very excited to find out she has a new series coming out! Ties That Bind is the first book in The Amish of Summer Grove series. It took me a few chapters to get into the story and the characters, but once I did it was hard to put the book down! Babies being switched accidentally at birth is such a frightening, yet fascinating topic. Ariana is so devoted to her Old Amish lifestyle, and is close to accomplishing her dream of owning her own cafe. She also has a loving boyfriend she is planning to marry, so this news that she is not biologically from her Amish family has the potential to change everything. Skylar Nash is the opposite of Ariana-her life is a mess, so maybe the Amish lifestyle could bring her some much needed stability.  I can't wait to read the next book in the series and find out how Ariana and Skylar adapt to their new lifestyles.

*Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed here are my own.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Children's Book Review~God Made All of Me

God Made All of Me: A Book to Help Children Protect Their Bodies was written by Justin S. Holcomb and Lindsey A. Holcomb, and illustrated by Trish Mahoney.  The Publisher is New Growth Press along with GRACE, Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment.

About the Book: (from the publisher):

 "God made every part of you!"

It's easy to convey the message to children that their bodies---or particular parts of their bodies---are shameful. This misconception fuels confusion, embarrassment, and secrecy, and often prevents children from recognizing or reporting sexual abuse.
God Made All of Me is a simply-told, beautifully-illustrated story to help families talk about these sensitive issues with two- to eight-year-old children. Because the private parts of our bodies are private, the home is the ideal environment where a child should learn about his or her body and how it should be treated by others.

God Made All of Me starts from the fundamental truth that God created everything and applies that truth---the doctrine of creation---to kids and their bodies. It equips parents to talk with both boys and girls about their bodies and to help them understand the difference between the appropriate and inappropriate touch of others. God Made All of Me allows families to build a first line of defense against sexual abuse in the safety of their own homes.

God Made All of Me is the first children's book written by Rid of My Disgrace authors Justin and Lindsey Holcomb. Parents of young children themselves, the Holcombs regularly counsel victims of sexual abuse and are profoundly aware of the dangers kids face. Their simple and relatable story, designed to help children protect their bodies, will be an important resource for every family with young children.

About the Authors: 

Justin Holcomb, PhD, is an Episcopal priest and professor of theology and Christian thought at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Reformed Theological Seminary. He is the author of On the Grace of God, Know the Heretics, and Know the Creeds and Councils, as well as the coauthor of Is It My Fault? and Rid of My Disgrace. He also serves on the boards for REST (Real Escape from the Sex Trade) and GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in Christian Environments). 
Connect with Justin online:website, Facebook, Twitter

Lindsey Holcomb, MPH, counsels victims of sexual assault and domestic violence and is the cofounder of REST (Real Escape from the Sex Trade). Lindsey has provided crisis intervention to victims of sexual assault and domestic violence and conducted a variety of training seminars to service providers. She is also the coauthor of Is It My Fault? and Rid of My Disgrace.
Connect with Lindsey online: website, Facebook, Twitter

What I Thought: 

Before I reviewed God Made All of Me, I had my husband read it.  He is a social worker and worked in the area of child abuse for several years. He was very impressed with the book and thought it hit on all the important points and would make a great resource for parents. When I read the book, I was also impressed on all that it covered while still staying brief enough to keep young children's attention.  The illustrations are cute and colorful, and there are occasional scripture verses to back up what is being discussed.  At the end of the book are 9 Ways to Protect Your Children from Sexual Abuse.  The photo above is of our grandson, who just turned four and started preschool.  This is a perfect time for us start talking to him about this very important topic. 

I highly recommend God Made All of Me, and think every parent would be smart to read it with their children.  You can read more reviews of this book at Litfuse, and purchase your own copy at New Growth Press.  

*Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed here are my own.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Product Review~Memory Cross

Memory Cross cards are origami cards that share a message.  There are Bible Memory Cards, Bible Story Cards, Outreach Tracts, Coloring Cards, Wedding Announcements, Health Education and more!  I received a sampling of different Memory Cross Cards in different applications and sizes:

Here is a video showing how the Memory Cross cards work:

These Memory Cross cards are awesome!  My entire family, from children to adults, had so much fun with them!  We all enjoyed opening each one, and were so fascinated and impressed with the impact these cards can make!  Perfect for Sunday School, handing out, gifts, crafts for kids, and on and on!  My daughter, who is 20, loved the wedding Memory Cross Cards and thinks they would make perfect 'Save the Date' cards for when she gets married some day.  My son, who goes to a private Christian School, was excited to take the samples to his school to show the other kids and teachers. Everyone was very impressed and enthusiastic about Memory Cross cards!

For More Information:

 *Disclosure:   I received a free copy of this Product to review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations. I am part of The CWA Review Crew.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Children's Book Review~Let's Learn About the Lord's Prayer

About the Book: In this first book of the HeartSmart series, preschoolers are invited on a playdate with Emma. Together they learn the Lord's Prayer and practice "teaching" it to Emma's favorite teddy bear.

Introducing HeartSmart, a Scripture memory series designed to create opportunities for children to fill their heart with God's Word. HeartSmart combines key Scriptures with songs, giving parents a spiritual formation path for building a strong foundation of faith.

The entire Lord's Prayer is included, along with a custom song (free download with access code).

About the Author:

Catherine DeVries has written twenty books for children, including the bestselling The Adventure Bible Storybook. As associate publisher of Children's Resources at David C Cook, she leads product development for The Action Bible collection, which has sold over a million copies. Catherine lives with her husband, their three children, and their big furry dog in the Colorado forest.

What I Thought:
I was really impressed with Let's Learn About the Lord's Prayer.  It is a beautiful board book, with shiny pages with bright illustrations that are eye-catching. Each page has just enough text to tell the story without being too much to lose little one's interest. The character Emma is adorable, and my grandson loved the story. He enjoyed guessing who her friend is, and was excited that Emma has a stuffed bear just like him! Let's Learn About the Lord's Prayer is a perfect way to introduce preschoolers to The Lord's Prayer. 

You can purchase your own copy of Let's Learn About the Lord's Prayer at David C. Cook Publishing. 

*Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Litfuse in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Book Review~The Plain Choice: A True Story of Choosing to Live an Amish Life

About the Book: As a young adult, Sherry Gore dreamed of a radio career, but instead, a series of terrible mistakes left her wrecked and alone. Then one morning she walked into a church and the truth of Jesus' forgiving love shattered her world-and put it back together again. She began to rid her life of anything that might keep her from God, but still she wanted a deeper faith. Something more.

Soon the life Sherry remade for herself and her children featured head coverings, simple dress, and a focus on Jesus Christ. Only then did she realize that there were others like her: the Amish.

The Plain Choice is the fascinating story of one woman's journey toward God through the Amish community. After making the rare transition into Amish life, Sherry learned how to live off the land and make it, grow it, or do without it. She learned the adventure of the horse-and-buggy life and began to thrive on faith, family, and pie. And when her teenage daughter was diagnosed with a devastating illness, she learned again how bright God's light can shine when everything else seems dark.

This unusual memoir offers a riveting look at the choices we make toward or away from God-and how God pursues us in the most unexpected ways.

About the Author: Sherry Gore is the author of two cookbooks, Simply Delicious Amish Cooking and Me, Myself, and Pie, and co-author of the novel Made with Love. She is also a weekly scribe for the national edition of the Amish newspaper, The Budget, established in 1890. The National Geographic Channel featured Sherry prominently in their documentary series, Amish: Out of Order. Sherry's culinary adventures have been seen on NBC Daytime, The Today Show, Mr. Food Test Kitchen, and more. Sherry is a year-round resident of beautiful, sun-kissed Sarasota, Florida, the vacation paradise of the Plain People. She has three children and is a member of the Beachy Amish Mennonite Church. When not spending time with her family, writing, or eating, Sherry is a cooking show host and an official pie-contest judge.

My Thoughts: The Plain Choice: A True Story of Choosing to Live an Amish Life is a fascinating memoir that I couldn't put down.  I have read many articles about the author, Sherry Gore, and knew she joined the Amish as an adult, but I had no idea what a crazy, difficult life she has led. She takes you through her life, the good and the bad, and shows what it means to pursue what God wants for your life. There are many interesting stories, and she includes pictures taken throughout her life as well.  If you are interested in the Amish, this is a book you should read!

*Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed here are my own.

Book Review~A Wedding at the Orange Blossom Inn

About the Book:  
A wedding brings together two young widowed parents . . . and gives them a second chance at love.

Emma Keim was heartbroken when her husband, Sanford, passed away, leaving her to raise three young daughters alone. Though several years have passed, her relatives have made it no secret that they expect Emma to remain a widow, mourning Sanford indefinitely. But when she meets Jay Hilty---a handsome widower with three young sons of his own---Emma is delighted to have a new friend who understands her struggles. Still, she is dismayed that her family is so opposed to their friendship---and the idea of it ever becoming anything more. She honors her husband's memory every day, but is she destined to be alone forever?

Emma's gentleness with Jay's boys stirs something in his heart that's been quiet for far too long. But when his oldest son becomes engaged to a local woman, suddenly Jay, Emma, and their children are swept up in wedding preparations. Witnessing his son's joy, Jay wonders if it's time for him to move forward, too, and find happiness again.

Once again, love has come to Pinecraft. But can these two parties of four become a happy, healthy family of eight?

About the Author:  

Shelley Shepard Gray is a two-time New York Times bestseller, a two-time USA Today bestseller, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time Holt Medallion winner. She lives in Southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town's bike trail.

Find Shelley online: website, Facebook, Twitter

 What I Thought: 
A Wedding at the Orange Blossom Inn is the third book in author Shelley Shepard Gray's series Amish Brides of Pinecraft.  I have read  all of the books in  the series and thoroughly enjoyed them all.  I read a lot of Amish fiction, and it has been refreshing to leave the farmlands of the east for the sunny beaches of the south! A Wedding at the Orange Blossom Inn is my favorite book of the three in the series so far. Remniscent of The Brady Bunch with a widow with three daughters and a widower with three sons, it is a sweet, romantic story.  There is also lots of fun with the antics of a feisty Beagle thrown in the mix! I love Shelley Shephard Gray's style of writing-I always feel like I get to know the characters so well.  I look forward to the final book in the series, A Christmas Bride in Pinecraft. 

Purchase a copy of A Wedding at the Orange Blossom Inn here.

*Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Litfuse in exchange for my honest review.   All opinions expressed here are my own.