Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Book: Gathered Waters

Gathered Waters

They want to worship as their hearts demand...but is it something they can give up everything for?

Brianna has only ever been what her life demanded. A wife, a hostess, a mother. But when a stand her husband takes ostracizes them from the Lutheran church that controls so much of life in Sweden, Brianna finds herself needing to find a strength beyond her station...a strength that will see her through prejudice and persecution and to a home she never dreamed she would find.

Based on the true story of the author s family s journey from Sweden to America, this sweeping saga paints the brilliance of new faith, the bravery of a new land...and the beauty of plunging beneath the waters and emerging a new person, capable of what one never thought one could do.


I am super excited to read this one because I have relatives in Sweden.  My grandfather came over on a boat at the turn of the century, although not from religious persecution.  I just think stories of the immigrants are fascinating.

I'm hoping to have a chance to read it this weekend, it's not a super long book, and then I'll update my review!


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

A Word from Cara Leucht

I never planned to be a writer. In fact, it took me a while to finish college. But I did, and here I am. And I now I can’t imagine not being a writer.

By day, I am an English Instructor for a local college, Marketing Manager for Degnan Design Builders, Inc., mother to four amazing children, and wife to an eternally patient and supportive husband.

In the evening, when I can squirrel away some quiet time, I read and write historical fiction.

I have a B.A. in English Lit. from UW Whitewater and an M.F.A in Creative Writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, NJ.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Super Secret Sample Sale at Tea Collection!

For those of you who are at all interested in my favorite brand, Tea Collection, this week is the time to shop! (Monday April 27th through Wednesday the 29th)

They are having a sample sale that you can only get to by shopping through me, a Tea affiliate!*

All past destinations will be included (so not India, which is current) and these can be super hard to find anywhere else!  Items will be up to 60% off original price too!

Can you tell I'm excited?  Shop early for the best selection!

Please note that all sales will be final.

*This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated a small amount if you make a purchase after clicking on one of my links.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Saddle Rock Adventures

Nana took the sisters for a couple of days so I took Noah on a hike I knew they wouldn't be able to do. We had a blast and my little five year old would have beat me to the top if I let him!

View near the bottom. That's where we're going!

We saw all kinds of nature on the way. A spider that wanted to hide under my shoe in the shadow. This snake crossing the trail. Noah touched it. Then a very large black beetle. And finally a large flying ant thing that was walking and carrying a caterpillar pupae that was bigger than it was!

We also learned all about erosion as the trail has a crevasse in it most of the way.

We climbed all the way to the top and sat on the right part of the saddle for our snack.

Top of the world! The view is so worth it! 

This is my valley!

On the way down we were in a bit of a hurry so guess who fell? The mom, and banged up her knee.

The flowers were still gorgeous, but they're getting to the end of their spring run. Pretty soon everything will be dry and brown again.

One of the highlights, we had to stop and use the crooked potty of course!

It's so different just having one child and this one needs his mom time, poor middle child. But we had an awesome hike!

Then off to Lowe's to have a kitchen cabinet consultation... overwhelming!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Kid Quotes

One of the girls wailing about her shoes, "They're all brinkled!"

Talking about how much Cory had grown Noah says, "We need to put bricks on your head!"

When Joy smells something she wants to know what it is she says "What's that in my nose?"

In an attempt to delay bedtime my oldest child comes out of his room, "Mom, one of my nostrils feels like it's plugged."  Answer: you have a cold child, go blow your nose!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Snuggles

This is what happens when I take a nap and the girls find me after their nap is over.  It reminded me of another photo from exactly three years and one month ago.  How has it even been three years already?

And now I'm sitting here listening to them sing and giggle in the next room.  Crazy girls!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Book: Jaded


As a child, Ruthie was shunned by the local congregation. Thirteen years later, Ruthie’s heart begins to stir when an attractive single preacher arrives. But their relationship is bitterly opposed—unearthing a string of secrets which threaten to turn the church, the town, and her world upside-down.

Jaded is the rare novel that is both love story between a woman and man ... and God and His church. Plunging deep into the waters of shame, forgiveness and restoration, it will resonate with every woman who’s experienced a loss of heart ... and a thirst for hope.


Trust, betrayal. Love, cynicism. Hope, despair.  What will win out in this story? 

There were so many different themes running through this book, the story, and then the meta-story.  I could think about it for days. 

Did I like it?  Well, let's just say I finished it in about 24 hours. Yes, all 400 pages.  It wasn't suspenseful per se, but I just wanted to find out what would happen!  I had a suspicion from about half way in, but I didn't know for sure until the last couple of chapters.

The writing was solid and I enjoyed the alternating perspectives of Ruthie and Dodd.  The length of the book felt just about right, there was time for the story to develop slowly and thoughts and emotions to come out.  That being said, I didn't want it to end!

This is the very first book by author Varina Denman, there's a sequel to this one, and I just can't wait to read more of her writing!


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

An avid reader and blogger, Varina Denman enjoys writing fiction about Christian women and the unique struggles they face. She seems to have a knack for describing small town life, and is currently working on a three book Texas series which will soon be published by David C. Cook. The first book in the series, Jaded, won the 2013 ACFW Genesis contest for romance.

Varina attended three Texas universities over a span of five years, majoring in four subjects and earning zero degrees. However, she can now boast sixteen years as a home educator, volunteering in the local cooperative where she has taught numerous subjects including creative writing and literature.

Even though Varina has spoken at ladies’ retreats and taught women’s Bible classes, she finds the greatest fulfillment facilitating prayer groups. She lives in Burleson, Texas, where she helps with Family Ministry in her home congregation. Varina is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and North Texas Christian Writers.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Games with Grandma

We're so happy to have had Grandma and Grandpa here with us this whole past week!  One last game of Candy Land before they headed home this morning.  They are greatly loved!

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Book: Mist of Midnight

Mist of Midnight

In the first of a brand-new series set in Victorian England, a young woman returns home from India after the death of her family to discover her identity and inheritance are challenged by the man who holds her future in his hands.

Rebecca Ravenshaw, daughter of missionaries, spent most of her life in India. Following the death of her family in the Indian Mutiny, Rebecca returns to claim her family estate in Hampshire, England. Upon her return, people are surprised to see her...and highly suspicious. Less than a year earlier, an imposter had arrived with an Indian servant and assumed not only Rebecca's name, but her home and incomes.

That pretender died within months of her arrival; the servant fled to London as the young woman was hastily buried at midnight. The locals believe that perhaps she, Rebecca, is the real imposter. Her home and her father's investments reverted to a distant relative, the darkly charming Captain Luke Whitfield, who quickly took over. Against her best intentions, Rebecca begins to fall in love with Luke, but she is forced to question his motives—does he love her or does he just want Headbourne House? If Luke is simply after the property, as everyone suspects, will she suffer a similar fate as the first “Rebecca”?

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


Unfortunately, once again it's really hard to review a book you've never read, or even received.  I hope the publishers can figure this out because this is happening quite a bit more frequently lately.  

I've read a few of Sandra Byrd's books before and really enjoyed them so I was looking forward to this one.


After earning her first rejection at the age of thirteen, bestselling author Sandra Byrd has now published more than forty books. Her adult fiction debut, Let Them Eat Cake, was a Christy Award finalist, as was her first historical novel, To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn. To Die For was also named by Library Journal as a Best Books Pick for 2011 and The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr, was named a Library Journal Best Books Pick for 2012. The Tudor series’ end cap, Roses Have Thorns: A Novel of Elizabeth I published in April, 2013.

A life-long lover of Victorian Gothic romances, Sandra’s new series, Daughters of Hampshire, weaves elements of that mystical, traditional genre with inspirational and literary threads. Mist of Midnight, the series’ first book, debuts in March, 2015.

Sandra has also published dozens of books for tweens and teens, and is passionate about helping new authors develop their talent and their work toward traditional or independent publication. As such, she has mentored and coached hundreds of new writers and continues to coach dozens to success each year.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Easter Fun

Easter weather was perfect for us yesterday.  We actually made it to church on time, an hour earlier than normal.  That's an Easter miracle right there.

Then we went up to Nana and Papa's house and rode tricycles in the street.

This is Joy

I forgot to grab the second one from our house so they had to share... horrors!


This is Hope

Then we hid the eggs all around the back yard and let the kids loose.

Joy found the ones up high in the tree

Hope couldn't reach this one

There it is Daddy, please get it for me!

Joy had no trouble finding her quota, while Hope needed some suggestions.

Checking all the places...

I promise the boys got theirs too, they just move waaaay too fast for pictures!

Checking out the loot!

Mmm, chocolate!

And then we attempted to get a nice family photo...

This is probably actually more accurate of our life anyway!

Hoping you and yours had a wonderful Easter!