Friday, February 26, 2016

Your New Money Mindset: Create a Healthy Relationship with Money REVIEW

I am so thankful I had the chance to review Your New Money Mindset: Create a Healthy Relationship with Money. It is so easy to get caught up in "keeping up with the Jones" that we lose track of responsible spending. Do we NEED everything we buy? This book brings a Christian perspective on how to view money, assets, and spending so that you can learn to reduce your stress over money and give more to others, while taking care of yourself too. It is not so much a how-to as it is a you-can-do. I didn't find this book a good fit for me personally. I was hoping it would be more on budgeting and less on mentality, but it's not. There are no real budgets helps or anything like that. Instead it tackles how we see things. Do we NEED that $5.00 Starbucks drink when there are those out there starving and thirsting? That sort of thing. I was hoping for more of a budget aid as well, but I did benefit from taking a step back and reevaluating what I spend, and why. 

About the book: 

Your New Money Mindset: Create a Healthy Relationship with Money (Tyndale, October 2015)

Have you ever thought: If I just had a little more money I would be happy? Research has shown this belief to be false. Through personal experience, Biblical passages and timely research, coauthors Brad Hewitt, CEO of Thrivent Financial, and Dr. Jim Moline, consulting psychologist, reveal that financial happiness and security have little to do with how much money you have, and a lot to do with the role moneyplays in your life.

Your New Money Mindset isn't just another book about managing finances. It's a book about reshaping your relationship with money by examining your attitudes and beliefs around money.

Your New Money Mindset:

-Defies the consumerism that infects our culture and sickens our hearts.
-Shows us how to replace the tension and fear we feel about money with contentment and peace.
-Guides us to live open-heartedly with our time, energy and money.
-Provides an online New Money Mindset Assessment™, which will help you pinpoint what attitudes about money you could work on in order to develop an openhearted attitude to life.
Regardless of your financial situation, we invite you to journey with us to discover how to transform your relationship with money by remaking your heart.

Purchase a copy:
About the author: 

Brad Hewitt is president and CEO of Thrivent Financial, a not-for-profit Fortune 500 organization dedicated to helping Christians be wise with money and live generously. He speaks regularly on how a redefined relationship with moneycan help us find and live out our call in life. He and his wife live in Minnesota.

Connect with Brad: 

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**I received this in exchange for my honest opinion. I wasn't required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions expressed are my own.**

Thursday, February 25, 2016

SimplyFun REVIEW

SimplyFun Review
We have had a blast reviewing Archery Dice, one of four of SimplyFun new releases. SimplyFun offers a large assortment of great games that are fun for the entire family. Not only are these games fun, but they also target education and development, too. Archery Dice is a strategy game that also targets hand-eye coordination. 

What is in the box:

The box consists of 4 sets of 3 colored dice, 4 matching wooden disks, and 16 bull's eye circular targets, and a set of rules.
How to Play:

In the spirit of an honest review, I have to say that the directions were not clear. The game play is easy, once you navigate the directions....but they can be confusing. Basically you take the circular bull's eye markers and you place them in a triangular form. You make sure they are at 1-2 bull's eye lengths away from each player's play space. You stack your dice your wooden disk, then you take turns "flicking" your dice at the targets. If you dice lands on a bull's eye then you stand a chance to win that bull's eye for the round. If you end up with "doubles" at anytime-where and two of your dice, with the exception of stacked dice, are face up on the same number you can yell "Doubles" and choose one to put back on your play stack. After each player has flicked all of their dice, the one with the largest number on the bull's eye gets to take that target and place it under their stack. If a die falls off for any reason, or goes out of bounds, that die is placed under the wooden disk and is no longer playable for that round. If a player has a target under their dice stack, another player can try to steal that stack by landing on it. You can also target another player's dice stack. If your targets remain at the end of the round then you "bank" them, and no other player can steal them.  The first player to bank four targets wins. 

Now this is where we were confused. The directions do not specifically say whether or not the dice must be ON the bull's eye completely, or if it counts if it is just partially on the bull's eye during this stage of the game play. It does specifically state that in order to steal a target the die must be completely on the target. The directions are also not fully clear on instances where a player has more than one target under their stack and another player tries to steal. Does the player stealing win the whole stack, or just one? Once we played one game, we caught on fairly quickly and did not find we needed to refer to the game rules much. Since it wasn't clear in the directions, we chose to play by the rule that as long as part of the die was on the target it could be claimed, and a player only steals one target at a time. 

Overall, we found this game to be very fun and enjoyable. It is fast paced and great for a family game night. It does not take long to finish a full game, and it is really great for hand-eye coordination and strategy building skills. For special needs, it's a great game to reinforce turn taking skills, and fine motor skills. It helps with proprioceptive and spatial awareness since you have to carefully gauge how hard to flick your dice. Archery Dice by SimplyFun is a fun, fast family game. 
SimplyFun Review
Crew Disclaimer REVIEW

HelpTeaching Review
We have had the blessing to review a Pro Plan by is a membership based site that offers a variety of printable goodies. Here you can find printable tests, test makers, worksheets, online lessons, and even games. You can even do online tests. For this review, we received a 1 year pro-plan subscription with access to all grade content. For the purpose of this review, we focused on the middle grade content for a 6th grade student. 
HelpTeaching Review
How we used this:
We used this as a really nice supplemental subscription. There's so much to choose from, we've only scratched the surface. Here's a screen shot that shows just a little of what is offered for 6th grade. 

As you can see, there's a LOT to choose from. Mr. B loved the Color Wheel printable. I would have taken a lovely photograph of it, but he decided he loved it so much he refused to let me have it back! HAHA! We also used a lot of Language Arts printables, science, math, and Life Skills. 

Here is a screensnip of one of the Language Arts worksheets. 

I appreciate the minimalist aspect of the language arts worksheets. It saves on ink, and is less distracting. 

I really like the variety of work found here. I like that it's not all subject/predicate stuff, or main idea. I can find printables on the common topics such as subject/predicate or I can find them on comparative language. Mr. B LOVES the information texts pages! These are informational reading passages with multiple choice questions that follow. 

The worksheets are well designed and work with a wide variety of styles and subject matter. There are printables for specific books, language arts, art, music, life skills, science, social studies, holidays, and more.  In addition to the worksheets and tests, there are also online lessons for a number of topics. Here are a few more graphics to show you what I mean about the lessons, and a few more examples of the worksheets. 

HelpTeaching Review
HelpTeaching Review
HelpTeaching Review
HelpTeaching Review
There is so much to this site, I can't even possibly begin to cover it all in one review. I'd be here for weeks!


Overall, I found he Pro Plan from to be WELL worth the money. It is a treasure trove of supplemental goodies. After 6 weeks, we're not even close to having explored all of the possibilities. We used a variety of Language Arts, math, science, art, and life skills worksheets. I dabbled with the test maker just to see how easy it is to use----very easy as it turns out---and we looked over the lessons. Mr. B. thoroughly enjoyed the lesson on lakes and ground water, followed by river systems!

Does the Pro Plan from Pass My 4 Ingredient Test?

1.) Customization: Is it easily adaptable? Can we customize it to fit “us?” Can we modify or set our own schedule? Can we take breaks, jump ahead, or flat out skip?

You pick what you want, when you want, and the level you want! It can't get much more customizable than this! And if you can't find exactly what you want, use the test maker and POOF! Now you have it!

2.) Value: Is it long lasting? Will it cover multiple grade ranges? Are you locked in to one specific grade level? Are there hidden fees?

NO hidden fees. As of the date of this blog, the 1 year pro-plan is only 24.95. With everything available with the pro-plan it is DEFINITELY worth the money!

3.) Attention span: Is it boring? Is it engaging? Is it varied enough for ADHD? Does it last too long? 

The work sheets are straight forward. They aren't flashy or anything like that. They aren't distracting, but they aren't necessarily attention grabbing either. They aren't too long, so the length of time wouldn't be a problem at all. 

4.) Does it tie into other things we already have.

Oh Mercy yes! I can't imagine it not tying into something! There are worksheets, tests, lessons, printables galore! There are even games. I can't think of a single subject component that is not represented by the pro-plan!

I tried to give an overview of what we have used so far from the Pro-Plan by Please click the banner to read more reviews and see how others used this great product! 
HelpTeaching Review

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Saturday, February 20, 2016

Fuller House

I can't WAIT for this to hit Netflix! I'm also addicted to reruns of the Golden Girls. Ok....Ok....I'm just a HUGE Hallmark channel fan! What are some of your favorites?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Home School in the Woods U.S. Elections Lap-Pak REVIEW

U.S. Elections History Lap-Pak  Review
What better time than an election year to study HISTORY Through the Ages Hands-on History Lap-Pak: US Elections from Home School in the Woods? I am a HUGE Home School in the Woods fan, and a huge politics nut. I have always hoped B would take after me and love politics just as much. I have always made it a point to take him with me while exercising my right to vote so that he can learn the process in a hands-on way. So of course this lap-pak is a natural fit for us. 

Like all the other great products from Home School in the Woods, the US Elections lap-pak is a host of hands on projects that give students a firm understanding of the topic at hand in a fun and creative way. This set focuses on elections at the Federal level, but a lot of the principles can be applied at the state level, as well. Marketed to students third through eighth grades, the US Elections lap-pak is a great resource that includes 21 lap-booking projects and a 24 page booklet that also doubles as the educational reading text for each project.  For this review, we received the digital download version. There is also a physical disc available, and both options contain the same materials. 

U.S. Elections History Lap-Pak  Review

How did we use this?

I couldn't wait to get started with this lap-pak! As soon as I heard about it I was way too excited! Two of my favorite things-Home School in the Woods and Elections....combined?! YES! The first thing I did was go over the Project directions to get a sense of how much prep was going to be needed. As with all Home School in the Woods products, there is a bit of prep time and supplies that are needed. I did find this particular lap booking set has less prep needed than some of their others. For the most part, all I had to do was read over the directions and make sure I had the right PDFs printed on the right paper. I very much appreciate the easy to follow directions that break everything down into easy to follow sections. 

I decided I wanted to work slowly through this, and stretch it out a bit. As a result, I scheduled us to do 2-3 projects a week, taking our time to fully explore each topic. Home School in the Woods is great to suggest further reading! I print everything I want us to do for the week at one time, and I gather all the supplies needed. Some projects are pretty fast and we completed those in minutes. Others I chose to spend more time on, such as the branches of government, so we worked on that one for a couple of hours spread across 2 days while reading about the topic on a 3rd day. 

Each set of directions will tell you what needs to be printed and one what type of paper. There are suggestions for colored paper, as well. The instructions also tell you what supplies are needed for each step. We like coloring, so tend to print EVERYTHING on white, then color what we want. A few supplies you'll want to keep on hand for any Home School in the Woods product are regular printer paper, card stock paper, double sided tape, glue/glue sticks, scissors, exacto knife if you prefer for some intricate cuts, paper brads, folders, and colored pencils. It sounds like a lot, but I usually have most of this on hand all the time anyway. 

He's filling in a sheet that contains "fill in the blank" sentences. 

This is an example of the instructions suggesting to print on colored paper. Mr. B wanted fall leaves, so we colored them in ourselves!

How clever! I loved this project! You can see in the background how the directions are presented. We took liberties with the coloring, giving this grass, sky, and even clouds! 

Each branch of the tree details the branches of government. 

This has nothing to do with the branches of government I chose to showcase for this review. I just really liked this project haha! You have to use an exacto knife to cut around the thumbs and insert the amendment pages. I had way too much fun with this one haha!!

We aren't finished with our entire lap book yet since I'm choosing to work slowly with each topic. But as you can see from the graphics below, Home School in the Woods has once again given us the opportunity to learn while created nothing short of a work of art. 

U.S. Elections History Lap-Pak  Review

U.S. Elections History Lap-Pak  Review

See the blue project there on the bottom that says The Rule of Many, Anarchy, etc? Mr. B learned so much from this lesson that he has used what he learned in his pretend play! He created his own country and said it was a "Rule of Many" nation haha! And the "Who do we vote for?" project is hanging on the fridge. He isn't quite finished "playing" with it for me to add it to the lapbook. 

U.S. Elections History Lap-Pak  Review

The American Experiment project is neat! The test tubes go on the cardstock sheet with paper brads so you can twist them around. 

U.S. Elections History Lap-Pak  Review
This is the reading text!


Overall, Home School in the Woods knocks it out of the park, once again! We LOVE this! I can't recommend Home School in the Woods or the US Elections Lap-Pak enough! 

Does Home School in the Woods HISTORY Through the Ages Hands-on History Lap-Pak: US Elections pass my 4 Ingredient Test?

1.) Customization: Is it easily adaptable? Can we customize it to fit “us?” Can we modify or set our own schedule? Can we take breaks, jump ahead, or flat out skip?

I found it much better to work the lessons in order due to the nature of the text pages. The text pages can be printed as one document, or printed as a booklet.  I found it easier to work in order so the information in the text would make more sense. You can definitely set your own schedule and take breaks as needed.

2.) Value: Is it long lasting? Will it cover multiple grade ranges? Are you locked in to one specific grade level? Are there hidden fees?

There are no hidden fees with the program itself. It does NOT include the supplies, so you will need to make sure you have the needed supplies. But again, it's basic arts and crafts supplies that most of us will have already. Ink can be an issue with a lot of printing, but I purchased an inexpensive laser jet printer that I can get toner for, for around $14.00, and it prints 2500 sheets so that's not been a problem for us at all. You can use this with multiple age/grade ranges, easily. It's long lasting if you extend the lessons the way I do, or it can be relatively short lived if you work faster.

3.) Attention span: Is it boring? Is it engaging? Is it varied enough for ADHD? Does it last too long? 

It is probably a perfect program for kids with ADHD and autism. You may have to help special learners, especially those who lack fine motor skills, but it is a fun and entertaining, yet calming activity. I really enjoyed doing the projects with Mr. B. I did some of the more detailed cutting, so that is something to think about. 

4.) Does it tie into other things we already have.

Right now is the PERFECT time for this with it being an election year. This will tie in perfectly with election history-such as suffrage, political parties, types of government, etc. It will also tie into civics lessons. 

Please check out the Schoolhouse Review Crew to read others' reviews on this product!

U.S. Elections History Lap-Pak  Review
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Tuesday, February 16, 2016


This is one of those books that sticks with ya when you go to bed at night! This is a psychological drama, and then some. Casey's dad committed suicide when she was 12, or so they say. She never believed this and felt comfort in her best friend Brent, trusting him to tell him the truth of what happened to her father. She ultimately finds Brent dead, and his blood is everywhere. She knows she's going to be framed for his murder, so she runs. PTSD affected investigator Dylan is charged with finding her, and the more he uncovers the more he begins to see her not as a killer, but as a strong woman incapable of murder. This book is written in first person, which adds to the suspense since we are able to "see" inside the character's mind. I thoroughly enjoyed this read. It was entertaining, active, and kept me turning the pages!

Casey Cox doesn’t fit the profile of a killer . . . but her DNA is all over the crime scene, and she's now a fugitive. Don't miss Terri Blackstock's next page-turner, If I Run. Unraveling her past and the evidence that condemns her will take more time than Dylan has, the war-weary veteran hired to find Casey. But as Dylan’s damaged soul intersects with hers, he is faced with two choices. The girl who occupies his every thought is a psychopathic killer . . . or a selfless hero. And the truth could be the most deadly weapon yet.

Join Terri in celebrating her new book with a Fitbit giveaway and a special $4.99 digital pre-order deal!

if i run-400 

One grand prize winner will receive:
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry! The giveaway ends on February 16th. The winner will be announced February 17th on the Litfuse blog.

Plus don't miss out on the special $4.99 digital pre-order pricing, now through February 15. Pre-order the book through your favorite e-book retailer; details here.

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**I received this in exchange for my honest opinion. I wasn't required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions expressed are my own.**

Monday, February 15, 2016

Blue Ribbon Trail Ride REVIEW

This is such a lovely book! First, I love horses! Second, as you all know, my son has autism. As a result, I was very eager to get my hands on this book! I was not only sent this one, but 3 others in the series. I will tell you these are marketed to the teen- young adult audience, but I find them to be quite entertaining! Kate loves her brother, and that is clearly shown in this book. She wants for him, and others, to attend a summer camp but funding is the issue. Insert some problem solving with her friends, and they develop a great plan of holding a horse scavenger hunt with proceeds going to help get her brother to summer camp! Unfortunately, the box holding the money has gone missing and the trio of friends must solve the mystery to find out who took the box, and why. This is a great tale to not only put autism in a more positive light, but it highlights the love between siblings,  and how friends are blessed treasure! 

About the book: 

Blue Ribbon Trail Ride (David C. Cook, January 2016)

Thirteen-year old Kate and her friends came up with the perfect way to raise money for her autistic younger brother and others to attend summer camp---a horse scavenger hunt! As local businesses donate money and prizes, Kate keeps the entry fees in her mom's antique jewelry box.

But when the box and the money disappear, Kate and her friends must unravel the clues, hold on to hope, and solve the mystery along the Blue Ribbon Trail Ride

Purchase a copy:
About the author:

Miralee Ferrellis the award-winning author of more than a dozen novels. She and her husband live along the Columbia River Gorge in southern Washington State, where she enjoys riding the wooded trails and spending time with her grown children. In addition to horses and dogs, Miralee once owned two cougars.

Connect with Miralee: websiteTwitter, Facebook

Landing page:

**I received this in exchange for my honest opinion. I wasn't required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions expressed are my own.**

Weather Woes

Snow. Need I say more?

In December I kept saying all I wanted was snow for Christmas. It was nearly 80 for Christmas haha! Now? It's so cold we made "Insta-Snow" with boiling water the other night, and it snowed 6" overnight. Now we are expecting rain to melt the snow and add flooding. I'm praying for all who are affected by this, and I hope the damage will not be extensive.

I'm also more than ready for SPRING!

I have big plans for flower beds, and raised bed gardening, and finishing a playset for my son, and building him a sandbox....and walks....and bike rides.....and hikes....and sitting in my porch swing reading....ahhhh Spring!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Kissed By a Cowboy REVIEW

I LOVE THIS SERIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I could shout that from the rooftops! This is one of my most favorite series EVER!!!!!!! I have gotten so invested in these characters, I just love it! I was so excited, soooooooo VERY excited when I was chosen for this review. I LOVED Counting on a Cowboy so much, I didn't think anything could top it. It may not top it, but Kissed by a Cowboy at least equals it! Cassidy spent the best times of her life at her great aunt's home in Wishing Springs, TX, right next door to the 4 Hearts Ranch. Her parents were both in one bad relationship after another, and her great aunt provided her the stability she needed.  She grew up following the Monahan boys around, especially Jarrod. One evening, she and Jarrod share a kiss. She puts her heart on the line, and he runs off to Montana. She feels jilted so she leaves, and gets married. When her own marriage ends in divorce, she vows she will  never have another relationship for fear of becoming her parents. She moves back into her aunt's home that has been willed to her following the death of her loved one, and makes a decision to live life free from men, just like her aunt. One thing after another leads to her needing Jarrod, and as it turns out the flame that grew from that shared kiss so long as was never fully extinguished.

We have the same cast of characters as in the previous books, but one need not have read the previous books to enjoy this one-even though I do HIGHLY suggest you pick up the others as well because the characters are great! I love the style of writing, and find myself feeling as if I'm really there. I made the comment this book series is like a Hallmark movie series, and anyone who knows me knows how much I LOOOOVE Hallmark movies! There's an element of suspense/turmoil, and the story line is believable. It progresses nicely, and the growth of the characters between the books is well done. Truly one of my favorites!

About the book: 

 Kissed by a Cowboy (Thomas Nelson, February 2016)

Cassidy was looking for a home and a place to belong . . . not for a cowboy to steal her heart.

Having lived through her parents' endless string of "matrimonial bliss gone wrong," Cassidy Starr knows when the odds are not in her favor. Divorced and humiliated, her faith on rocky ground, Cassidy is through with love. She's been bucked off that horse far too many times. Instead, she returns to Wishing Springs, Texas, and the rundown farm she's inherited from her great aunt Roxie. She'll reopen the strawberry farm and a bed & breakfast and follow in her aunt's footsteps, remaining forever-independent, happy . . . and single.

Rancher Jarrod Monahan's hands are full running the ranch, looking after his ailing grandfather, and chasing down a group of rustlers on the loose. He's pushed his longing for a family to the bottom of his list of priorities. Besides, he was in love once but ran scared and lost his shot at happiness. But suddenly, the biggest regret of his life has moved in next door with a wounded heart, determined to become a spinster . . . and that's a challenge that Jarrod can't pass up.

Jarrod sets his mind to breaking down the walls around Cassidy's stubborn heart. How can he show her that a cowboy's kiss lasts forever? For the good folks of Wishing Springs, falling in love has never been so much fun to witness.

Purchase a copy:
About the author:

Debra Clopton is a multi-award winning novelist and has written more than 22 novels. Along with writing, Debra helps her husband teach the youth at their local Cowboy Church. Debra's goal is to shine a light toward God while she entertains readers with her words.

Connect with Debra: websiteTwitterFacebook

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I received this in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Valentine's Day Plans

I plan to have a quiet day in. We will probably have dinner somewhere, then sit at home watching movies on TV. I've come to that age where staying in is way better than going out!

A River Too Deep

I am a private person. I don't typically speak of my past's in the past where it belongs. I prefer to keep things there. I received A River too Deep in the mail for a review. I placed it on the counter, not knowing how deeply the words on the pages would affect me. After a day or so I was ready to begin skimming the book, my standard first order of business with a new review book. I will feel the book to get a sense of the overall quality of the actual product. Then I check out the copyright page, then the table of contents, and get a sense of the length of the chapters, skimming a few pages in each as I go, before I start to read. I blame my college days for this method as this was the best way to study. Anyway...I digress....So, I turn the first pages and I see a lovely inscription from the author, to me, thanking me for my kindness. I'm instantly struck. Yes, there's usually a printed sheet saying thank you in the book by the publisher, and occasionally there will be a quick gesture of thanks from the author, but this was different for me. It is a rare treat indeed when the author takes the time to hand write a thank you note, including my name. And to thank me for kindness. I never really thought about my review as being kind, but instead I feel blessed to be given the opportunity to read and review. As a mom to a special needs child, finding me time is a rare occurrence and finding extra money for unnecessary things like leisure books for myself is rare as well. So I am the one who should be (and is) expressing my gratitude for the exchange of book for unbiased review. I realize this has nothing to do with the review, for the most part, but for me when the author takes the time to send a note, sign a book, include a small token of appreciation....and you know it came from them and not a mass produced thank you from the publisher, then you KNOW the work you are about to read truly means something to them. They have poured their heart into the words on the pages that I am about to read, and this makes it so much more to me. So for that, I thank you. After I saw the lovely "Thank You," I skipped my normal skim, and went straight to the reading part. And the first page had me. It begins not at the beginning, but in the middle, and we have Alcy fleeing her home for safety. She has been the victim of an abusive marriage for a number of years and she's using a rare moment away from her husband to make her escape. I know that feeling. I know the feeling of using a rare chance to escape to a safe place away from the abuser. I was Alcy once. I can't put into words my emotions while reading these words. It was like I reading my own diary. I was there. I was that person once. I KNOW what she was feeling, what she was thinking. My heart rate quickened. My hands shook. I knew. 

And that was just the first few pages. Needless to say, I highly recommend A River Too Deep. The characters are dynamic and real. The plot is believable and real. Very real. The writing is fantastic. I can't recommend this book enough. I loved it. 

A River Too Deep is a 274 page novel in the Christian historical fiction genre and was released on October 23, 2013. To purchase your copy, click here.

About the Book


 In the spring of 1817, Alcy Callen and her father visit a step-uncle they have long presumed dead; but instead of enjoying a loving reunion, they are plunged into treachery and deceit. Nothing is as they expected and little is what it seems. Even the man who helps her escape is not the reliable suitor he appears. Alcy is caught between gratitude and fear, unable to avoid her rescuer’s attentions or understand the responses they stir. Neither can she tell what sort of man he is or what he intends to do with her in the strange place they are going. Will he keep her for himself or will he sell her to the highest bidder? Of one person only is she certain, but will he come for her before it is too late?

About the Author

 Sydney Tooman Betts and her protagonist-husband currently reside in the Shenandoah Valley near the extensive cavern system that inspired the setting for several early chapters of this book. While single, Ms. Betts (B.S. Bible/Missiology, M.Ed) was involved in a variety of cross-cultural adventures in North and Central America. After marrying, she and her husband lived in Europe and the Middle East where he served in various mission-support capacities. Her teaching experiences span preschool to guest lecturing at the graduate level and serving as the Sunday School Superintendent, Children’s Church Director, or Women’s Ministries facilitator in several evangelical denominations. Before penning her first novel, A River too Deep, she ghost-wrote several stories for an adult literacy program.

Blog Tour Stops

Feb 7: Mary Hake
Feb 10: A Greater Yes
Feb 13: BukWurmzzz

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**DISCLAIMER: I received this in exchange for my honest opinion. All opinions expressed are my own. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way.**

Spring is on my mind....

I found this in an image search. So fitting!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

‘Beyond the Silence’ by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse (Plus a Giveaway and Facebook Party)

Lillian Porter takes a chance on a new job and a new future . . . but rumors surrounding her job make Lillian begin to wonder if she made the right choice in Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse's Beyond the Silence. There are rumors in town that her new employer, Woodward Colton, caused the death of his wife. This accusation doesn't match the man Lillian comes to know . . . but soon the Colton olive farm is no longer a safe place. Lillian encounters suspicious characters on their land and mysterious damage done to the farm. Will Mrs. Goodman and Jimmy be able to speak what they know in time to save Lillian from tragedy?

Tracie and Kimberley are celebrating the launch of Beyond the Silence with a Loaded Fire Prize Pack giveaway (details below) and an author chat party on February 11!

beyond silence-400 

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • One copy of Beyond the Silence
  • A Kindle Fire 7
  • A $50 Amazon gift card to load your Fire with books
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on 2/11. The winner will be announced at the Beyond the Silence Facebook party. RSVP for a chance to connect with Tracie, Kimberley, and other readers, as well as for a chance to win other prizes!

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RSVP today and spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK, TWITTER, or PINTEREST and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 11th!

Tour Landing Page

My Thoughts

The character development is fantastic. The character of Colton is more than just words on a page, he become real the more you read. He is accused of murdering his wife, and his child is rendered literally speechless after his mother's brutal death. This story is a prime example of presumed guilt and the dangers of gossip. The townsfolk act as judge and jury and convict Colton in the land of gossip, even if not by the criminal justice system. Lillian longed to travel out west, much to the dismay of her family. She begins to question her choice when she hears the same rumors that have been plaguing Colton's life since the death of his wife. She longs to gain the trust of his son, and she strives to prove his innocence, if not for him but for herself because she falls in love with him. I felt Lillian to be a little prim and proper: From a rich family, naive nanny figure who falls in love with her heartbroken and in need of saving boss, but the character of Colton is so superb I didn't care. 
One of my favorite characters is Harry Longstreet. Having a son with autism, this character warmed my heart and shows the world of Autism in a more positive light. I can't say I agree with every way he was described (and he wasn't exactly described as being autistic, I just "read between the lines" I suppose) because I can't think of anyone with autism as being "simple minded" but he is a lovely character who warmed my heart, none the less! Even though we are given the "who" of the "who done it" the way the book is written, with this knowledge is mind, is so much more powerful than if we did not know from the start. Emotionally stirring to say the least!

Beyond the Silence 

DISCLAIMER: **I received this free in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions expressed are my own.**

Shelley Shepard Grey's A Son's Vow REVIEW

Once upon a time ago, I was blessed to review my first Shelley Shepard Grey book, A Wedding at Orange Blossom Inn. This was my first experience with Amish fiction, and I was hooked! I was very excited to be chosen to review her next book, A Son's Vow. A Son's Vow is every bit as wonderful as A Wedding at Orange Blossom Inn!

About the Book

A Son’s Vow

Shelley Shepard Gray’s first book in her Charmed Amish Life series is set in the quaint Amish village of Charm, Ohio, and tells the stories of the Kinsinger siblings who are each struggling to find both forgiveness and love in the face of tragedy.
Three months ago, everything changed for Darla Kurtz and her family. Darla’s father was responsible for a terrible fire at Charm’s lumber mill which killed five Amish men. And though he, too, lost his life, the town of Charm hasn’t looked at her family the same since. Even Lukas Kinsinger—with whom Darla used to have a close friendship.
Now her brother’s anger at the town is spilling over onto Darla, and she has the bruises to prove it. The accident already cost five lives, but if something doesn’t change soon, Darla fears it will cost her—and her family—even more.
Lukas Kinsinger wants to mourn the loss of his father, but he can hardly find the time to breathe. Suddenly the head of his father’s lumber mill and responsible for taking care of his three siblings, he’s feeling the pressure. He has also never felt more alone—especially with the new tension between he and Darla. But when he learns of her troubles at home, Lukas knows he can’t simply stand by and watch. Someone has to help her before another tragedy occurs.
As Lukas and Darla attempt to repair their families, they discover something deeper than friendship growing between them. But will Lukas and Darla’s love be accepted after so much loss? Or will the pain of the past overcome any chance of future happiness?

My Thoughts

Shelley Shephard Grey hits it out of the ballpark once again. Her writing style pulls me in, and I feel as if I'm truly there. I could feel the heartache in Charm, and I could feel the emotional turmoil between Lukas and Darla. Lukas and Darla have a history together, and when her father is the cause of his father's death (along with the others) it is almost too much to handle. The town is in pain, and the bonds of family and friend are also pained. Shelley Shepard Grey does a superb job capturing the essence of these tense relationships. From the dynamics between Darla and Lukas, and their kindling love despite all that has transpired, to the violence Darla endures at the hands of her emotionally distraught brother, Grey does a remarkable job at tying everything together and writing a wonderful and compelling story. 

Tour Landing Page:

DISCLAIMER: **I received this free in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions expressed are my own.**

Monday, February 8, 2016

Cetaphil REVIEW

I was given a small jar of Cetaphil to review in my JingleVoxBox. I have really dry skin in the winter, like WAY dry skin. I must say, cetaphil was a very good choice of moisturizer. It moisturizes well, it is long lasting, but it doesn't feel weighted or anything. I am not a big fan of jarred types of moisturizer, and this smaller jar was just that, but overall I have no complaints. I don't like to stick my finger in to pull out a glob. I'd rather have a tube or an applicator to do that. But, it has no effect on the overall product at all! I use it as a solo moisturizer, or I will mix my foundation with it for a tinted coverage. It's a really nice product for dry skin!

I was given this in exchange for my honest opinion. I wasn't required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions expressed are my own.