icRKphJXQm-ezth8lntKydifkDg The Loose Screw: June 2015

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Children's Book Review~The Amazing Adventures of Ellie the Elephant

Ellie Makes a New Friend is the first book in the series The Amazing Adventures of Ellie the Elephant.  The books in this series were written and photographed by author Marci Fair and her daughter Elle Fair (age 10). 

In Ellie Makes a New Friend, Ellie the Elephant moves to a new neighborhood.  She is still doing her favorite things, but now she is all alone while she does them.  She finds everything not as much fun without a friend.  So, she sets out to make a new friend and finds one at the playground.  Her new friend is a penguin named Pudgy, and together they have lots of fun!

In Ellie's First Plane Ride, Ellie the Elephant is going to visit her relatives, and her friend Pudgy the Penguin is traveling with her.  Pudgy likes to fly, but Ellie has never flown on a plane before and is nervous.  Pudgy helps her every step of the way!  They visit her relatives at the zoo, and have a wonderful adventure together!

 My Thoughts: As a mother, grandmother, and former homeschool teacher, good books for children have always been very important to me.  The books in this series are a wonderful addition to our library.  They are bright and colorful, and have actual pictures taken of the stuffed animals, rather than illustrations of them.  Along with the colorful, whimsical artwork on the pages, this combination is quite eye-catching! The pages have clear, larger, easy to read text for beginning readers, with just one or two sentences per page.

Here is my grandson Daniel, 3, enjoying Ellie's First Plane Ride.  We had recently taken one of his first plane trips together, so he related to the story. He is thoroughly captivated with both of these stories, and finds the real-life pictures fascinating.  We will be reading The Amazing Adventures of Ellie the Elephant stories often, and look forward to new volumes!

I am very impressed with this series and the two books I received for review. Books that combine fun with valuable lessons are my favorite!  The topics covered in these books are ones that children have to face, and reading these books would help with the transition. I think they are perfect for children and adults to share together, and would make a great gift!  It is wonderful to see that a ten year old is helping to create such creative stories!  What a great start for new author Elle Fair!

You can purchase your own copies of the Ellie the Elephant books at Amazon:
Ellie Makes a New Friend
Ellie's First Plane Ride

*Disclosure:  I received copies of these books free in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed here are my own.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Book Review and Author Giveaway~A Heart's Betrayal

About the Book:
A Heart's Betrayal is part four in a six part collection of Journey of the Heart by author Colleen Coble.

Emmie finds shelter in the arms of a soldier, but her secret could drive them apart.
When Emmie Croftner answered the door to her late husband’s home, she discovered an awful truth: her deceased husband was a bigamist. And what’s more, the home she thought she inherited never belonged to her at all.
Suddenly displaced, powerless, and ashamed, Emmie can’t stay in Wabash, Indiana. She makes a hopeful start for Fort Laramie, Wyoming, to find her friend Sarah Montgomery and a new beginning. But when she arrives, she discovers she’s pregnant—and without a husband. The new start she’d hoped for slips from her fingers.
But then she meets Isaac Liddle, a handsome soldier with a kind heart. When he begins to court her, Emmie wonders whether she could ever really be his—and whether she dares to tell him she is carrying another man’s baby.

My Thoughts:  A Heart's Betrayal was an exciting story!  I think this may have been my favorite of the four novellas I have read so far from the Journey of the Heart series. With the introduction of Emmie, a new character is introduced who is innocent and emotionally wounded. The characters have to move to a different fort, which is a dangerous trip, especially for a pregnant Sarah. At only 96 pages, this is a quick read.  I had a hard time putting it down, so I read it in one sitting. I'm itching to get my hands on the next installment of the Journey of the Heart series, A Heart's Promise!

More reviews of A Heart's Betrayal are available to read here. Learn more about author Colleen Coble at her website. You can purchase your own copy of A Heart's Betrayal at the Thomas Nelson website. 

Emmie finds shelter in the arms of a soldier in Fort Laramie, Wyoming, but will her big secret drive them apart? Find out in book four, A Heart's Betrayal, of Colleen Coble's A Journey of the Heart series. Suddenly displaced, powerless, and ashamed, Emmie can’t stay in Wabash, Indiana. She makes a hopeful start for Fort Laramie to find her friend Sarah Montgomery and a new beginning. But when she arrives, she discovers she’s pregnant—and without a husband. The new start she’d hoped for slips from her fingers.

Melt into summer with a new giveaway from Colleen: four books (books one–four in Colleen's A Journey of the Heart series) and a box of chocolates to pair with your new books!


One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A copy of A Heart's Betrayal
  • A box of Colleen's favorite chocolate truffles from DeBrand Fine Chocolates
  • A copy of A Heart's Disguise
  • A copy of A Heart's Obsession
  • A copy of A Heart's Danger
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on June 30th. Winner will be announced July 1st on Colleen's website.


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

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Book Review and Giveaway~A Flag For The Flying Dragon

My family has enjoyed the Captain No Beard series by author Carole P. Roman for the past few years.  A new adventure has arrived, and this book is titled, A Flag For The Flying Dragon.  In this installment, a new crew member has joined the crew-Zachary!  He's a baby, so as the crew is busy with their duties, they are having a hard time finding a job suitable for Zachary. The Captain also needs to find a flag for his ship.  Soon enough, the crew finds a solution to both problems, and everyone on deck has a job to do.  The crew learned to work together to solve problems.

The Captain No Beard books are a delightful series targeted to the preschool and kindergarten age range, but our 12-year-old son and the entire family enjoy reading them together. The sentences are short and easy to read, and there's just enough silliness to balance out learning an important lesson. The illustrations are bright, colorful, and simply adorable. My grandson (3), does not lose interest in these stories, and has read so many that he knows the characters well.  He is thrilled when a new book comes out.  Here he is reading A Flag For The Flying Dragon:

You can purchase your own copy of A Flag For The Flying Dragon at the author's website: www.caroleproman.com, or on Amazon in paperback or Kindle. Also be sure to visit the author's Facebook page.

I accidentally received two copies of A Flag For the Flying Dragon, so I am giving away my extra one!  Enter using the Rafflecopter form below.  Winner will be notified by email within 24 hours of the contest end.  Winner will then have 48 hours to respond to the email, or a new winner will be chosen.  Must be 18 or older and a resident of the USA.

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

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Product Review~Muller Dessert Inspired Yogurt

I love yogurt, and Muller is one of my favorite brands.   They recently came out with new Dessert inspired yogurts-yum! The flavors available currently are:
*Strawberry Cheesecake
*Raspberry Brownie Supreme
*Peach Cobbler
*Dulce de Leche Delight
These yogurts are 5.3 oz. each and 220 calories or less. They have no artificial flavors, sweeteners, or high fructose corn syrup. They are a good source of protein and calcium.

Muller Dessert Yogurts are available at Kroger stores-my local Kroger store is Smiths. You can find a Kroger Family store near you at  www.kroger.com I tried all of the flavors except Peach Cobbler, which was not available.  Of the three I tried, Raspberry Brownie Supreme was my favorite.  These yogurts are a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth while still watching out for your health.

*I received free products from Influenster in exchange for my feedback.  All opinions expressed here are my own.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Book Review~On Shifting Sand

One of my favorite book series of all time is the Sister Wife series by author Allison Pittman. I was excited to read her latest release, On Shifting Sand.  I quickly realized that this book was very different from the other series, but not in a negative way-just a different style.  On Shifting Sand is a beautifully written, haunting story of a desperate woman.

About the Book: Set during the historic Dust Bowl during the 1930s, Nola Merrill is drying up, inside and out. She married young to her pastor husband, a righteous man, and they have two children.  Nola suffered a sad childhood with her angry father, and wants to be a good mother, wife, and Christian.  The devastation their small town has had has left everyone hungry and poor.  Her husband busy with his pastoral duties, Nola feels isolated.  That all changes when an old friend of her husbands, a disabled war veteran, arrives needing shelter.  He gives Nola attention, and she is faced with betraying her husband, her children, and her God.

What I Thought: On Shifting Sand was hard for me to get into at first, but ended up being a wonderful story. It is written in the main character's voice, and so the reader reads her thoughts and feelings.  Nola is a tormented woman, wanting to do what's right but so beaten down she gives in to temptation. The story is full of love, temptation, forgiveness, and learning to trust God. I knew nothing about the Dust Bowl before I read this story, and it peaked my interest in that time in history.  I am looking forward to researching it further. I highly recommend On Shifting Sand by Allison Pittman.

I received a copy of this book free from Tyndale Publishing in exchange for my honest review. 

DVD Review and Giveaway~Pirate's Code: The Adventures of Mickey Matson

My youngest son (12) and I recently had the opportunity to watch and review a new DVD release, Pirate's Code: The Adventures of Mickey Matson.

About the movie:
Releases on DVD June 2, 2015
91 Minutes // Genre: Adventure // Rating:  NR
 In this follow up to Mickey Matson and the Copperhead Treasure, Mickey Matson is at it again; this time pitted against the evil Admiral Ironsides and his gang of pirates who are intent on destroying civilization.  Their new invention, the Tesla Coil, is a weapon of mass destruction that will send an electromagnetic pulse throughout the world, destroying every electronic device in existence.  With the help of a secret organization, Mickey and his best friend Sully embark on a mission to stop the pirates from taking over a submarine and stealing the last part needed to complete their devastating weapon.  If Admiral Ironsides succeeds in his plan, civilization will be sent back to the Stone Age.  It's a race against time, and the fate of the world hangs in the balance. 

What we Thought: Having not watched the first movie, I wondered if we would feel lost.  We didn't-they did a good job of blending in a review of what happened in the first movie.  We both enjoyed Pirate's Code, and of course my son liked all the pirate stuff!  I felt like this movie could be watched by itself, but my son kept saying he would have liked it more had he watched the first movie, Mickey Matson and the Copperhead TreasurePirate's Code is a good family movie for all ages.  

With Dove.org, you know you are watching a movie that has been approved for all ages of the family, which is awesome!  We've spent lots of time pre-watching movies to make sure they are appropriate for the kids.  Dove.org does it for you!


Twitter:  @MickeyMatson

Official Website:  http://mickeymatson.com

a Rafflecopter giveaway

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Friday, June 12, 2015

Product Review~Orange Blossom Water Toner

I really like using toner on my face, for a number of reasons.  No matter how thoroughly I believe I've cleaned my face,  when I go to use toner there are always remnants of facial oil and makeup.  I like the way toner makes my skin feel, and the benefits to my skin of the ingredients. An all natural toner is even better!

Foxbrim's Orange Blossom Water Toner is the toner I've been using for the past month.  It comes from the bitter orange tree of the Mediterranean. It is a 100% pure natural blossom water, with nothing added. This healing water is renowned for its many benefits, and has astringent and anti-microbial properties.
Neroli Oil (or Hydrosol) is known to visibly soften wrinkles and scars, fade skin damage, stimulate new cell growth, and balance skin tone and oil production. It removes excess dirt and oil while leaving your skin feeling fresh and clean.

Foxbrim Orange Blossom Water Toner has been a welcome addition to my skin care routine.  It has a pleasant citrus scent, while not overpowering. It removes whatever dirt and makeup I missed in cleaning, without drying my skin out. My skin feels fresh and tight after using.

You can purchase Foxbrim Orange Blossom Water Toner on Amazon and at the Foxbrim website.

Disclosure: I received this product free in exchange for my honest review.  All  opinions expressed here are my own.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Product Review~Naturalico Rechargeable Electronic Callus Remover

Summer is here, and I love wearing cute sandals and flip-flops.  I walk barefoot at home all the time, on our hardwood floors, so my feet get dry and cracked around the heel area.  Pedicures are great, but they are expensive.  I have found that by using the Naturalico Rechargeable Callus Remover, I can extend the time between pedicures, or not get them at all!

The callus remover itself is pretty, with pinkish-purple details, and it is designed to hold comfortably in your hand.  It has an LED light that illuminates dry patches, making them easier to see.  The foot file has two speeds, and spins at 360 degrees with speeds of 40 turns per second.  That is faster than competitors tools, but less abrasive and much faster than manual foot files or pumice stones. The Naturalico Callus Remover is rechargeable, saving you money on batteries. Also included in the box is an extra roller head and a cleaning brush.

Here is a picture of my heel before the first use of my new callus remover.  It did a great job removing the dead skin and was very comfortable and easy to use.  I've noticed that every time I've used it since the first time, my feet look better after each use.  Here is my heel after the first use:

My entire family is using my new Naturalico Rechargeable Electronic Callus Remover, and everyone is impressed with it.  It is fast and easy to use, and does a great job removing dead skin and calluses. It is packaged very nicely and would make a great gift.

You can purchase your own Callus Remover from Amazon.

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

Friday, June 5, 2015

Book Review~The Proposal at Siesta Key

About the Book: Penny Troyer never disobeys her parents.  But tonight she's bending the rules because Michael Knoxx-the most famous member of the Knoxx family, a traveling Mennonite evangelical family-is scheduled to speak.  Penny has heard of Michael-how he lost part of his leg in a terrible accident and uses the experience to inspire others-and knows she must meet him...even if it means challenging her parents' strict rules and taking the first step toward her own independence. 

Though he speaks about living life to the fullest, Michael knows he needs to take his own advice. Life on the road is grueling and Michael wants to slow down, to rest...to perhaps meet someone who sees him as a man, not just a celebrity. So when a twist of fate allows him the chance to stay a little longer in Pinecraft, Michael knows God is showing him a new path, especially when he discovers that Penny has also survived a terrible ordeal. 

But as Michael's time in Pinecraft comes to an end, Michael and Penny are left to wonder what kind of future they could possibly have together. Are they brave enough to take the chance given to them? Or will they choose to cling to what is familiar, even if it pushes away their dream of happiness?

What I Thought: The Amish Brides of Pinecraft series has been enjoyable to read.  The Proposal at Siesta Key is the second book in the series, and is a story full of emotion.  Both Michael and Penny are kind, caring characters who are searching to find themselves.  They both have been doing what their parents want for many years, and feel trapped.  They decide together to cherish each moment, which is a great lesson for us all.  Shelley Shepard Gray is one of my favorite authors-I know when I open one of her books I will be lost in the story from start to finish.

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, Twitter, Facebook

 Read more reviews of this book here.You can purchase your own copy of The Proposal at Siesta Key at Amazon.  

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

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Book Review~Hutterite Diaries

Hutterite Diaries-Wisdom from My Prairie Community is the latest release from Plainspoken, a division of Herald Press Publishing. This is the second book I have read from Plainspoken, and I think it is great that people from Plain communities are publishing their writing. 

Hutterite Diaries is written by Linda Maendel, who has been a part of the Hutterite community in Canada her entire life.  In this book, she lets us into life as a Hutterite member with stories, information, and her insights into the lifestyle. 

The book is divided into four parts, each with several chapters.  The four parts are Fellowship, Celebrations, Values, and Heritage.  There is also FAQs about the Hutterites, Author's Note, About the Author, and "A Day in the Life of the Author", which is a fun hour by hour account of the author's day. 

My Thoughts: I enjoyed Hutterite Diaries very much.   Linda Maendel wrote her book in a way that makes the reader feel they are visiting with an old friend, sharing stories and chuckling over something funny that happened that day.  Not only did the author inform and describe how she lives, she went a step further and explained why the Hutterite people do things the way they do. 

The Hutterite people's way of living communally is beautiful, in my opinion.  I think it is great that they live simple lives, lives of service, but don't cut themselves off from the world or technology.  It seems to be the best of both worlds.

When my family lived in Oregon for a short time, I noticed women wearing black head coverings and simple dresses several times when I was out running errands. I knew they were not Amish, and wondered if they were Mennonite.  Now that I have read Hutterite Diaries, and noted that there are colonies in Oregon, I think I have my answer!

Hutterite Diaries is an educational and fun book to read.  There are pictures throughout the book, and the author has an easy, entertaining way of writing.  I had a hard time putting it down, and highly recommend it!

You can follow author Linda Maendel on her blog and on Twitter. 

To purchase your own copy of this book, go to MennoMedia.  You can read more reviews of Hutterite Diaries here.

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