Thursday, 27 October 2011

Book Review: The Wonder of Your Love by Beth Wiseman

About the Book: Katie Ann lost the love of her life. Then God offers her a new beginning in Colorado.

Katie Ann Stolzfus lives in the small Amish community of Canaan, Colorado. At forty she is widowed and raising her first child. But baby Jonas will never know his father, and Katie Ann wonders if her Heavenly Father hasn't forgotten about her as well. Is it really God's plan for her to be a single parent?

Eli Detweiler has come to Canaan for a wedding and a long vacation. Having raised six children following the death of his young wife, Eli is finally an empty-nester. He's enjoying the slower pace of having no one to care for but himself.

When Katie Ann and Eli meet, there is an instant connection. Yet as strong as the attraction is, they both acknowledge that a romance would never work. He is done parenting, while she has just begun.

But as their friendship slowly blossoms into feelings that are as frightening as they are intoxicating, Katie Ann and Eli question if the plans they made for themselves are in line with God's plans.

Can Katie Ann entrust her heart to another man, and rediscover the wonder of God's love?

My Thoughts: This must be one of my favourite pieces of Amish fiction that has become so popular lately. In fact, it was downright humourous at times - which I love.

These Amish are not quite as conservative as some of the other Amish groups and the Katie Ann's best friend is an Englischer named Martha who is outspoken, set in her ways, devoted to God, and fiercely protective of Katie Ann and her baby Jonas. Martha steals the book for me!

The characters were well-developed and realistic - with foibles and quirks just like everyday people. Their interactions and the growth in their relationships were realistic and the storyline was original and captivating.

For me the biggest lesson to take away from this book was that we can make our plans, and they can be realistic, practical and just what we think we need. But sometimes God has other plans - and they are always far better than the ones we had lined up for ourselves.

This book is part of a series and I'm really looking forward to reading the others!

Thank you to Stephanie and Amy from Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with my complimentary review copy.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Book Review: Baby, It's Cold Outside by Susan May Warren

About the Book: Hope finds the hopeless when a storm hits.

It's Christmas weekend 1949, and despite the threat of a storm, the townspeople of Frost are determined to continue their holiday traditions, if only as a means to forget the war that they had all just suffered through. But the suffering hasn't ended for Dottie Morgan who lost her only son in the war. She's preparing to wallow in her isolation for the weekend, when Violet, nearly a spinster at age 29, dares to make a request that will force Dottie to publicly revive the memory of her dead son.

When a storm traps the two women at home with a strange young man who has an unbelievable confession and a neighbor with more to do with Violet's past than she would like, no one can predict how this Christmas will give them all a second chance.

My Thoughts: Susan May Warren is definitely one of my favourite Christian fiction authors so I snapped this book up when I saw it offered on a Litfuse blog tour. And I was not disappointed!

Set in rural Minnesota on Christmas Eve, post-World War II, this heartwarming story is perfect for curling up by the fireplace on a snowy winter night. 5 near strangers are snowed in together - an older couple, a younger couple and a young boy who pulls them all together as they all go through differing types of personal renewal, deepening faith and an awakening to the true meaning of Christmas.

From the author's note:
Jesus is the only reason we can celebrate anything. The only reason for Hope. Without Him, life blindsides us, traps us, steals our joy.... Jesus is our Storm House. Our safe place. Inside His arms we find family, comfort and hope, and the courage to face our secrets and discover forgiveness. He gives us that place of peace inside the storm.
Jesus is the answer to everything.

Thank you to Stephanie and Amy from Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with my complimentary review copy.

25 Ways to Wear a Scarf

For all you scarf lovers out there....

I didn't even know there were 25 ways to wear a scarf! ;)

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Book Review: Reclaiming Lily by Patti Lacy

About the Book: A storm the size of Texas brews when Gloria Powell and Kai Chang meet in a Ft. Worth hotel. They have come to discuss the future of Lily, the daughter Gloria adopted from China and the sister Kai hopes to reclaim. Kai is a doctor who had to give up her little sister during the Cultural Revolution and has since discovered that an inherited genetic defect may be waiting to fatally strike Lily.

Gloria's relationship with her daughter is tattered and strained, and the arrival of Kai, despite the woman's apparent good intentions, makes Gloria fearful. Gloria longs to restore her relationship with Lily, but in the wake of this potentially devastating diagnosis, is Kai an answer to prayer--or will her arrival force Gloria to sacrifice more than she ever imagined?

My Thoughts: I must admit that it took me awhile to get into this book - the lilt of English from a Chinese perspective took some getting used to I think. But am I ever glad I did! As I continued to read I was captivated by the story - in fact, multiple storylines, all masterfully interwoven to create a compelling read.

The characters are both well developed and realistic. Their many flaws, fears and struggles make it easy to empathize with them and the storyline is anything but predictable - with a surprise awaiting even on the last page (though my guess was correct, I was far from certain).

Foreign adoption, Chinese culture, discrimination, guilt, fear, life-threatening medical conditions, sacrificial love, teenage angst, natural disasters - a myriad of subjects dealt with in this book.

Thank you to Stephanie and Amy from Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with my complimentary review copy.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Book Review: Along Wooded Paths by Tricia Goyer

About the Book: All she wanted was a simple Amish life . . . But now Marianna Sommer finds herself depending on Englisch neighbors. Although proud of living apart from the world, she and her newly relocated Amish family have discovered that life in the remote mountains of Montana requires working together.

As Marianna begins helping those different from herself—and receiving their help—her heart contemplates two directions. She’s torn between the Amish man from Indiana whom she has long planned on marrying and the friendly Englischer who models a closer walk with God than she’s ever seen before.

Who should have young Marianna’s heart? What is God asking her to sacrifice? Her traditions? Her community? The answer is found along the wooded paths.

My Thoughts: I was fortunate enough to review the first book in this series, Beside Still Waters, and looked forward to this one as well.

Many of the things I liked about the first book, I also liked about this one. I love how the author explores the differences between the Amish and "Englisch" faith, highlighting the benefits of the Amish lifestyle and belief system while also acknowledging some of the potential pitfalls of their tendency toward legalism.

The only thing that I did not really like about this book was Marianna's interest in two different men and her inability to choose between them for a long portion of the book. Maybe not so much her hesitancy in choosing, but rather that she seems to be in love with them both at the same time. And obviously, just because that's not something I've experienced, doesn't mean it can't happen, but I truly believe that when you're sincerely praying that God would guide your heart and reveal who you are supposed to be with, that it would be more obvious than this, and I guess the adolescent vibe it gave me just rubbed me the wrong way. So, feel free to take that negativism with a grain of salt.

Overall, I loved seeing Marianna grow in her faith as she was exposed to differing lifestyles and the needs and difficulties that went along with them.

Thank you to Stephanie and Amy from Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with my complimentary review copy.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Storage ideas

We are beginning construction on our new house. Yes, again! This will be our sixth house in this town. The first was built in summer 1998, the second over the winter of 2001/2002, the third in late fall 2004, the fourth in over the winter of 2006/2007, the fifth the fall of 2007 and now the sixth one will be over the winter of 2011/2012. Which means that the house we're currently living in is a record for us at 4 years - crazy!

Anyway, we will likely put our current house up for sale shortly, at least just on kijiji. If it doesn't sell now, we'll likely put it on the market at the end of winter or early spring. So, in preparation for the sale, I'm in the process of doing some major decluttering! I totally should've taken some before pictures because the changes have been dramatic so far, and I'm not done yet!

The first project was our mudroom. For anyone that's been to our house, you likely remember the shoe store we had going on in there, we had so many shoes! Between flip flops, Sunday sandals, regular sandals, outdoor runners and four kids - well, you can imagine! So, I let each kid keep one pair of flip flops, and their outdoor school runners in the mudroom, everything else had to go in their bedroom closets - and I got rid of one large garbage full of shoes they either no longer wore, no longer fit or were worn out. We can actually close the mudroom doors now!

Then I also decluttered one of our countertops that had paper clutter just multiplying all over the place.

Now I'm working on the office. That's taking a little longer.

In the process, I've also been looking up some pretty neat storage solutions. Here's some of my favourites....

Totally getting Nathan to build me this laundry basket dresser for our new laundry room (which will be complete with flooring and a window!)

Great idea for a mudroom, I think I'd use some prettier baskets (also available at the dollar store).

And check out this charging station - our phone desk needs this in a bad way!!

Innovative use of a spice rack for office or craft room storage...

Slipcovers for crates...

Turning every day containers into beautiful storage options...

Great idea for anything from craft paper to cd's to baby blankets to school projects to games with broken boxes....

And, I don't know about you but our puzzle boxes are forever falling apart, so here's an idea for how to store them, and still know which puzzle you're taking out!

Feel free to let me in on any of your favourite storage solutions!

Friday, 7 October 2011

Sophia's First Camping Experience

Literally the day after school was over we drove Sophia to Bible camp for her first ever camping experience. She was super excited to go, and would've loved to have signed up for the longer week (this was only 2 nights), but her friend invited her and she was looking forward to going with her friend.

Here's some of the highlights from camp!

Playing rock, paper, scissors (Sophia's on the left in the multicoloured swimsuit with pink ruffle trim)

Here she is horseback riding for the first time in her life - this was definitely her favourite "skill" at camp.

Decorating their cabin (girl's cabins had air conditioning, boy's did not!)

Sophia and her friend on Sophia's bunkbed when we came to pick her up - pretty sure they had fun :)

Sophia, her friend and their two counsellors in front of their cabin "Mizpah".

"The Discover Wall" where the kids wrote things they learned about God at camp.

Sophia (pink shirt) and the girls in her cabin at closing chapel.

We were sitting in the 2 rows directly behind them, she barely acknowledged us ;)

Playing outside at the camp after closing chapel, nobody in a hurry to leave!

Sophia loved the horseback riding, rifles (!!), and swimming (outdoor pool) the best. She also loved the food - they had spaghetti, pizza, hot dogs, pancakes. She had an absolute blast and can't wait to go for a week next summer! And we're not surprised in the slightest.

Book Review: Heiress by Susan May Warren

About the Book: They can buy anything they want—fame, power, beauty, even loyalty.

But they can’t buy love.

The beautiful and wealthy heiress daughters of August Price can buy everything their hearts desire. But what if their desire is to be loved, without an enormous price tag attached? When one sister betrays another for the sake of love, will she find happiness? And what happens when the other sets out across the still untamed frontier to find it—will she discover she’s left it behind in the glamorous world of the New York gilded society? What price will each woman pay for being an heiress?

Set in the opulent world of the Gilded Age, two women discover that being an heiress just might cost them everything they love.

My Thoughts: Susan May Warren is definitely one of my favourite authors. I've reviewed several books by her before, but this one is dramatically different than the others I've read.

Warren has a tremendous gift of storytelling. The Gilded Age of corsets, suitors, marriages arranged for wealth or status, fancy ballroom parties - all told through the viewpoints of two very different sisters, neither of whom realize how long term and far reaching the consequences of their actions can be. From the glitter and bustle of New York to the wilds of Montana, betrayal, cheating, lying and pride follow both sisters in a work of historical fiction that will have you turning the pages far into the night!

Absolutely loved this book and cannot wait to read the next books in this series!

Thank you to Stephanie and Amy from Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with my complimentary review copy.


Related Posts with Thumbnails