Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Watching Cartoons

We've done a lot of this this week with the sick in our house.  It's a nice spot for sitting though!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Book: Aloha Rose

Aloha Rose

When Laney Carrigan sets out to find her birth family, her only clue is the Hawaiian quilt—a red rose snowflake appliquéd on a white background—in which she was found wrapped as an infant. Centering her search on the Big Island and battling fears of rejection, Laney begins a painstaking journey toward her true heritage. Kai Barnes, however, is determined to protect the people he’s come to regard as family. He thinks Laney is nothing more than a gold digger and blocks every move she makes toward her Hawaiian family. As their conflict escalates, it puts at risk the one thing that Kai and Laney both want most—a family.


Well, the book description is pretty misleading here.  Laney knows who her birth family is and she's going to Hawaii to meet them for a few weeks.  Sparks fly between she and Kai, but Kai is hiding a dark past he can't seem to get over and keeps pushing her away.
Grandma Mily, the only real link to her mother, seems to be fading farther into Alzheimer's, but Laney's quilt is a comfort to her as it was started by her mother and grandmother before she was born.

At first I thought this was going to be a fairly typical light romance, but there are plenty of twists and turns in this story to keep your interest until you find the secrets at the end!


If you would like to read the first chapter of Aloha Rose, go HERE.

A word from the Lisa Carter:

I am a wife and mother. My husband and I have two daughters and make our home in the beautiful state of North Carolina.

I am a teacher. With a Master’s degree in history, I have taught at the university, high school and middle school levels. After years of church involvement as a soloist, choir member and worship leader, I also teach music.

I am a writer. Delighted by the rhythm and musicality of words, I have been writing since childhood. In 2001, I won the Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) Story Writing Contest that re-ignited a lifelong love of writing.

I am on a journey of faith. My ultimate desire through my life and my writing is to proclaim the truth of God’s Word, His redeeming love as seen in the life of Jesus Christ and to help others know for themselves this great, awesome God of all comfort and wisdom. He is enough for every need.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Book: Dear Mr. Knightley

Samantha Moore has always hidden behind the words of others-namely her favorite characters in literature. Now, she will learn to write her own story-by giving that story to a complete stranger.
Growing up orphaned and alone, Sam found her best friends in the works of Austen, Dickens, and the Brontë sisters. The problem is that she now relates to others more comfortably as Elizabeth Bennet and Jane Eyre than as herself.

Sometimes we lose ourselves in the things we care about most. But life for this twenty-three-year-old is about to get stranger than fiction, when an anonymous benefactor (calling himself "Mr. Knightley") offers to put Sam through the prestigious Medill School of Journalism. There is only one catch: Sam must write frequent letters to the mysterious donor, detailing her progress.

As Sam's program and peers force her to confront her past, she finds safety in her increasingly personal letters to Mr. Knightley. And when Sam meets eligible, best-selling novelist Alex Powell, those letters unfold a story of love and literature that feels as if it's pulled from her favorite books. But when secrets come to light, Sam is --- once again --- made painfully aware of how easily trust can be broken.

Reay's debut novel follows one young woman's journey as she sheds her protective persona and embraces the person she was meant to become.


If you don't understand the reference in the title of this book, it may not be the one for you... however, if you are a fan of Jane Austin at all then you will probably enjoy it.
I wasn't sure how I was going to like the style at the beginning because it's written as a series of letters to Sam's anonymous benefactor, but it actually works really well with the story.

Sam gets one last chance to make something of herself, but she can't seem to find normal. Instead she resorts to hiding behind quotations from all her favorite literature characters. As she begins to find her way in the real world she realizes that by trying to protect herself from hurt she's only managed to become more alone. But coming out of that shell also means risking; hurt, rejection, and causing pain for others.  Perhaps she's more like her favorite heroine than she ever imagined.

One other thing, about a quarter of the way into the story I could feel a major plot twist coming. I ended up being right even though I managed to keep myself from peeking. In a way it was fun to be on the outside of the story and know what was coming. It's kind of like how you watch a movie and then there's a plot twist you never saw coming and then you can never watch the movie the same way again.


Katherine Reay has enjoyed a life-long affair with the works of Jane Austen and her contemporaries. After earning degrees in history and marketing from Northwestern University, she worked as a marketer for Proctor & Gamble and Sears before returning to school to earn her MTS. Her works have been published in "Focus on the Family" and the "Upper Room." Katherine currently lives with her husband and three children in Seattle. "Dear Mr. Knightley" is her first novel.

Enter Today | 11/14 - 12/3!
Dear Mr. Knightley Katherine Reay

I received this book from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Monday, November 18, 2013

An Apple from the Teacher

Last week on the same day as the Veteran's Day assembly there was an awards assembly at 8:30am.
And yes I actually made it there with the three little ones only a few minutes late!

Cory got An Apple from the Teacher for being a hard worker and always turning in his best work.  Also for getting better about getting started so he can finish his work on time!  The teacher loves his company, but not at recess when it's her break time!  My little social man!

He didn't know I was coming so it was fun when he finally realized I was there!  I'm surprised he didn't pick up on his sisters fussing in the stroller!

I'm very impressed with his teacher after having been in the classroom a couple of times.  She's a very good teacher and very kind with the students.  Cory always has nice things to say about her.  First grade has been good to us so far!

Friday, November 15, 2013


Last week at my oldest's school they had a special assembly for Veteran's Day.  They asked the kids to invite any veterans they knew and/or bring photos of veterans that were special to them.  Cory took photos of his Papa (my dad) and two of his great grandfathers.

I've thought more than once over the last few years about how blessed my children are to have such a strong heritage of people in their family tree.  Grandparents on both sides that are lovingly involved in their lives as well as praying for them.  More than a few great grandparents that cared for them and they were able to know at least for a few years.

I've thought about how much your family influences who you become much more than you may realize when you are young.  And how we can make choices that affect those around us as well as our children.  This is my family tree.

A good person leaves an inheritance for their children's children... 
~Proverbs 13:22

This is a post prompt from The Gypsy Mama. Join in? If you don't have a blog or don't want to write there I'd love to have you write with me, even in the comments!

Thursday, November 14, 2013


The blog has been a little quiet this past week...  we all caught some creeping crud of a cold and apparently mine has turned into pneumonia.  Never had that before.
Makes me feel much worse for my oldest son that we let him go almost a month with the coughing this summer before taking him in to be diagnosed too.  I could only handle it for a week.
I even got an inhaler, never used one of those before either.  I'm feeling old.

I love this time of year too and I'm missing out.  The sunrise is actually late enough that I can enjoy it without being completely bleary-eyed!  This was taken 2 weeks ago, before the time change, just as Cory was going out to catch the bus.  I love living this far down in the valley where the hills don't block the sunrise and sunsets.  And that my house faces east/west so I get to see them frequently!

Today it was in the 50's and sunny, a beautiful day to play outside.  I'm thankful that Noah got to go play with his little friends Jasmine and Lily while their mom watched the girls so I could go to the doctor in peace.

Now, to being able to enjoy the fall a little more... and write about the girls who will be 20 months in 2 days!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Book: Derailed

Forced to give up his hard-earned retirement, Harry Bentley goes back to work as a detective. Receiving a bizarre undercover assignment that sends him across the country by train. Things suddenly go awry when it appears one of his new neighbors may be part of a smuggling ring and suspicion rises about his own son’s involvement in a major drug cartel. The second in the Windy City Neighbors series, Derailed is a contemporary, and often humorous, tale in an urban setting, featuring ordinary people wrestling with the spiritual and practical issues of real life. Intersecting with Grounded (book one), the Jacksons employ their innovative storytelling technique of “parallel novels.” Though each book follows its own drama and story arc, the characters’ lives become intertwined and affect one another. Derailed transports you to Beecham Street—a typical, isolated American neighborhood . . . until hope moves in.


More than intersect, this book parallels Grounded and I wasn't prepared for that.  So, while I think it would stand alone fairly well, you know a lot of the story going in and the first have of the book is more like getting to know a new character in the neighborhood.  Not bad, just not what I expected.

Playing on the title of the book, Harry, feels like his life is headed in one direction when all these distractions and issues keep derailing him.  But for him it's really more about who has the control in his life, he or God, and what that looks like in reality.


If you would like to read the first chapter of Derailed, go HERE.

Meet Dave and Neta Jackson: As a husband/wife writing team, we are enthusiastic about books, kids, walking with God, gospel music, and each other! Together we are the authors or coauthors of over 120 books. (You can see our Publication Record by clicking HERE.) In addition to writing several books about Christian community, we have been privileged to coauthor numerous books with expert resource people on a variety of topics from racial reconciliation to medical ethics to ministry to kids in gangs.

But over the years the we have especially enjoyed writing for children and young people! This includes our award-winning TRAILBLAZER series, historical fiction about great Christian heroes and heroines for young people ages 8-12, and the four-volume HERO TALES: A Family Treasury of True Stories from the Lives of Great Christians, and the companion book, Heroes in Black History.

Somewhere along the way, our own children grew up! Son Julian is Director of Experience Design for the Alder Planetarium in Chicago where he “provides the experience of exploring space” for visitors. He has two sons, Liam Isaac and Elijah David. Daughter Rachel graduated from Eastern Mennonite University and after working in the field of rape-crisis prevention went on to earn a Masters Degree in counseling from the University of Illinois. She is now a counselor at “Uni High School” in Champaign, Illinois. She is the loving mother of Havah Noelle (our first grandchild!) and Noah Zion, our youngest grandchild. The Jackson family also includes a Cambodian foster daughter, Samen Sang, who has four children.

We live in Evanston, Illinois, where for twenty-seven years we were part of Reba Place Church, a Christian church community. We are now members of a multi-racial congregation in the Chicago area.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Book: Paige Rewritten

Paige Alder is in a really good place. She’s dating nice guy Tyler. Her boss has offered her a raise. Her walk with God is strong. Life is great—and that’s when things start to change.

First, the youth pastor at church keeps asking Paige to work with him full-time. Then her sister shows up newly engaged and wanting to reconnect, even though they haven’t spoken in years. And now former boyfriend Luke has come back into her life. How is Paige supposed to know what the right decisions are?

This warm and humorous second book in the Paige Alder series will help young girls work through important issues, such as forgiving others and obeying God.


This is the second in a series about Paige.  I think it could be a stand alone book, but would make a lot more sense if read with the first one.  I'm about halfway through this one after having read the first one last week.  Yes, I sometimes don't get around to reading the books I review, but never without intentions!

Anyway, I would say that this is Chick Lit at it's finest.  Paige is your "normal" girl who has issues and needs to work through them.  After finally figuring out in the last book how to say "no" to some things her life seems more balanced, until her sister and past boyfriend show up to complicate things.

I think sometimes we would all like life to be "normal", but God has other intentions, like continually teaching us things! Normal gets kinda boring after awhile anyway, right?  (right? my life is never normal so I wouldn't know!)


If you would like to read the first chapter of Paige Rewritten, go HERE

A few things about Erynn Mangum:

So, if we were having this conversation in person, we would probably be hanging out at Starbucks or one of the cute coffeehouses in town. I’m nuts about all things coffee, I’m crazy about all things pink and girly, and I love, love, love the Food Network! I’m married to my best friend and the most amazing guy ever, Jon. He is amiable toward coffee, does not like anything pink or girly and tolerates the Food Network. So, we make a good match! In July 2010, we became parents to one of the funniest, cutest, sweetest little guys in the whole world (and nope, we aren’t biased at all!), our Nater-Tot, who is legally known as Nathan. Most days, I’m cleaning up messes, making goofy faces, trying to fit some writing in, and just LOVING the life that God has given me!

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Little Gymnasts

Our local gymnastics gyms have open time for little ones to play. It's nice when it's cold out and bonus for me, it's contained! I think we'll be going a few times this winter!

Noah climbed up on the parallel bars by himself.  Once the little girl there climbed up without socks and was more stable he took his off too.

Jumping Joy!

The girls had so much fun in a new place where they were (pretty much) free to run and play as they pleased!

The lighting was bizarre and I had my old camera since my new one was getting a tune up so I just couldn't make these look right.  Oh well, they're still cute!

Friday, November 01, 2013

Happy Halloween Cuties!

The girls before we carved the last two pumpkins... can you tell who is who?*

These are my munchkins! Cory was a very authentic pirate since he lost one of his front teeth just last week!


Daddy decided to be a beard. Nothing like asking me to help him sew his costume the night before Halloween... (with Hope) So this year I was the only one without a costume... unless you count photographer!

We let them walk a little bit, until we were holding up the line. Hope was absolutely fascinated by the candy and trying to figure out how to open it! When I finally picked her up I was feeding her M&M's out of my pocket and she was making the sign for "more"!

Monster Noah! This guy comes to church every year with his Metropolitan. It's such a cool car! (please excuse the wet bag for candy! I totally spaced on anything to collect candy in! Good think my coat has huge pockets!)

After the walk around to all the cars they have hotdogs and hot chocolate and popcorn.  The girls were feeding each other...

Then we walked over to a friend's who lives right around the corner and let the kids terrorize his house.  The girls found his candy bowl... it's a good thing they can't open wrappers yet!

Happy Halloween!

*In the top picture, Hope is on the left and Joy on the right.  The only reason I know for sure is because I have a photo taken a minute earlier that I know is Joy and it has the yellow dot right under her chin!