Thursday, July 30, 2009

Read and Share Toddler Bible

Read and Share Toddler Bible
By Gwen Ellis
Published at Thomas Nelson
About the book
This new addition to the Read and ShareTM brand contains 40 stories plus a 60 minute DVD including bonus features just for toddlers.

The Read and Share Toddler Bible is a delightful way to introduce little ones ages one to four to God’s Word. Gwen Ellis’s engaging retelling of Bible stories along with Steve Smallman’s colorful art communicate God’s Word clearly to small tots with short attention spans. Stories from both the Old and New Testaments include all-time favorites ranging from Creation, Noah, Moses, Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, David, to Jesus’ birth, miracles, death, and resurrection.

Bonus DVD includes stories and bonus features from the popular Read and ShareTM DVD Bible series. Each story is three minutes long to keep toddlers attention span engaged.

Who is Gwen Ellis?
Gwen Ellis is a writer, editor, speaker, and consultant who established her own company, Seaside Creative Services, Inc., five years ago in Southern California. Gwen has been a professional in the publishing industry for 27 years.

Some people say Gwen has experienced just about everything that can happen in a woman’s life. She battled ovarian cancer, lost premature twin daughters at birth, lived as a single-again for many years, and she also knows the pain of losing one parent to cancer and the other to Alzheimer’s Disease.

But life hasn’t all been tough stuff. In fact, Gwen sees life as an awesome adventure!

My thoughts
This little gem is wonderful. The stories are short and vary colorful to catch the eyes of a young child. This toddler bible is accompanied by the 60 minutes DVD that contains animated stories from the bible to reinforce the stories.

We all know that the attention span of a toddler is very short. The author of this little Bible took the time to insure that the stories are short enough for the little ones. No need to go in complete details on many of the stories but the big idea is there. I was surprised though to find the story of the talking donkey in it. Often, toddler or young children bibles do not contain this story. It was good to see that it was included.

I sat down one day with the three youngest kids in my family – ages ranging from 19 months to 5 years old. I really enjoyed watching the DVD with them. And to see the story of the talking donkey was refreshing. I had a nice chat with my 5 and 3 years old about God using anyone or anything for His purpose. I asked them if God could use children and they said YES! You bet I said, if He can use a donkey, He could certainly use a child.

This toddler bible is a smaller version of the Read and Share Bible already published at Thomas Nelson. The publisher had a great idea to create the same kind of Bible geared to younger children. This toddler Bible will help you to establish a pattern for the kids to spend time in God’s Word. This can easily be used as a devotional for homeschooling families who have little ones with them. The younger kids will have their own devotional while the older ones work on theirs. This and seeing mom and dad spending their own time with God will strengthen this discipline for the children.

My only negative points I have concern the DVD. Unfortunately not all the story in the book are found in the DVD. Also, when you are at the main menu of the DVD, if you decide to go to the other options, the cursor do not go from one to the other as it is shown but rather randomly on the screen. For me, it bothers me that someone had not been careful in programming the order. For someone else, it might not matter. But usually the cursor should go from one to the other as presented on the screen…

In summary, the DVD and the Toddler Bible would be a nice addition in your house if you have little ones. It could also be a wonderful gift for a dedication or a baptismal. I pray that this Toddler Bible will touch my 3 year old as well as his little sister (who really enjoyed watching the DVD by the way!).

The toddler Bible is available everywhere you can find Christian products, even on and

Monday, July 27, 2009

Matter Its Properties & Its Changes

Matter – Its Properties & Its Changes
By Tom DeRoda and Carolyb Reeves
Published at Master Books
This book is part of the Investigate the Possibilities series and is geared toward students from grade 3 to 6. Its content is about elementary chemistry and the book is packed with tons of activities. Learning is fun when you have the possibility of applying it yourself.

The book is bright in colors and includes many images to attract the eye of the child. There is information to make you think as well as observation to be made while experimenting. In total there are 20 investigations to be made by the kids while going through this book. They will discover more about chemicals, bubbles, colors, water, acids, salt, metals, electricity and much more. The teaching deals also with the faith in God. The experiments use household items and teach the why and how things work, what they are made of and where they come from. The students will also get introduce to the periodic table.

Each chapter has various sections in it going from engaging the students to explain, apply, expand and assess the information. In each lesson the student will learn to think about an aspect of chemistry and he/she will also read about the science aspect of it as well as making connection with the methods, instruments and so on. At the end of the lesson, there are questions to make sure the student has understood the information he read and learned during the lesson.

Also available are the Teacher’s Guide and the Student Journal. The Teacher’s Guide contains information on how to plan and teach the lesson as well as guidance for the teacher. It also provides the answers to the questions the students have to answer. Each page also has a copy of the page from the book so that it’s easy to know which lesson the information refers to. The Student Journal is mostly a book where the student can write down the observations made during the experiments as well as answering the questions for comprehension. There is a section called Dig Deeper where the student can jolt down some answers to the questions/challenge offered in the Dig Deeper section of the book. For example, in lesson 1 the student need to find the name of one charity whose mission is to provide clean water to people who don’t have clean water to drink. Obviously, some research is needed to find the answer.

I was a little bit anxious on how I would introduce chemistry to my kids eventually. I think this book is an answer to prayer. You see chemistry was not my strong subject when I was in high school neither when I was in cégep which is why I gave up on being a vet and went into administration to eventually go into information technology. But deep down, I always loved medicine and so on. So when I got this book and saw how fun the book has been made for children, I was very happy to have had the opportunity to review it. I look forward to do some lessons with my 3rd grader this year when we start school. This book is well taught and contains relevant information as well. I like the fact that it gives the creation perspective of things. I’m very pleased to have discovered a chemistry book that doesn’t put God aside to teach the children. The experiments look very fun to do. I am particularly looking forward to do the one in lesson 2 which requires diapers.

I strongly recommend this book to every homeschooler who are teaching 3rd to 6th grades. You won’t be disappointed for sure.

Matter – Its Properties & Its Changes books are available at New Leaf Publishing as well as Unfortunately, this title is not available at

Saturday, July 25, 2009

What He Must Be... If He Wants to Marry My Daughter

What He Must Be… If He Wants to Marry My Daughter
By Voddie T. Baucham Jr.
Published at Crossway

About the Book
All parents want their daughters to marry godly young men. But which qualities, specifically, should they be looking for?

What will you say when that certain young man sits down in your living room, sweaty-palmed and tongue-tied, and asks your permission to marry your daughter? What criteria should he meet before the two of them join together for life? What He Must Be… If He Wants to Marry My Daughter outlines ten qualities parents should look for in a son-in-law, including trustworthiness, a willingness to lead his family, an understanding of his wife’s role, and various spiritual leadership qualities.

Author Voddie Baucham follows up on his popular book Family Driven Faith with this compelling apologetic of biblical manhood. By studying the principles outlined in his book, parents who want their daughter to marry a godly man—as well as those who want their sons to become godly men—will be well equipped to help their children look for and develop these God-honoring qualities.

Who is Voddie T. Baucham Jr.?
Voddie T. Baucham Jr. is the preaching pastor of Grace Family Baptist Church in Spring, Texas. Author of Family Driven Faith and The Ever-Loving Truth, Baucham is also a sought-after Bible teacher and conference speaker. He and his wife, Bridget, have four children.

My Thoughts
I was a bit surprise when I received this book. I first saw the title – What He Must Be… If He Wants to Marry My Daughter – and laughed. You see my little girl is only 19 months right now. I thought it was funny because she was so young and far away from the dating/getting married years. But after I started the book, I realized that it wasn’t only a book about what to look for in the young man who will catch her heart but also for us to train our own sons to become strong men of faith and loving husbands.

The major problem these days is that many people get married without taking the covenant seriously. And when we are not happy or just plain dissatisfied, we divorce and try to found someone else. The truth is nobody is perfect and we need to work at our marriage. I like the view of the author on the fact that marriage is a ministry and raising our children too – we need to instill in them a love for God and a willingness of seeking Him.

The author has definitively some interesting views but sometimes I feel as though it is just too much. For example, in the section where the guy must be a leader – I agree with the fact the ultimately the man should lead his family especially when important decision are made. Don’t take me wrong, I think we as spouses can voice our concerns and thoughts about it but the final decision need to be made either both agree on it or if there is disagreement I think the man should listen to his spouse and then decide for the better or for the worse. However, when it concerns who should stay home and who should work – I don’t think that only the guy should work and only the woman should stay home. We live in a time where anything could happen. If for whatever reason, the woman could have a job which pays more and the guy is able to pitch in the house and care for the children – why not? For example, we own a business and if by any chance contracts don’t come in for whatever reasons, I am prepared to apply to work for the government (just I like I was doing before). Would I like it? No. But when it means you keep your home and there is food on the table – I won’t hesitate a minute and do it. I know my husband will do a great job caring for the kids and even homeschooling them. On the other hand, knowing how the young man thinks about the headship in a marriage is important. If he overvalues it, then you can prevent the future abuse of your daughter and her children. It’s important to be aware of that.

I am still reading the book and pondering on what is written. I discuss it also with my husband when I am not agreeing about something – and I am glad that my husband thinks like me. The author also brings the issue of women pastors in the book. I know it is a touchy subject of conversation for some of you but personally I see no problem to it.

However, even though I disagree with some comments made in the book, I love the idea of the strengths and weaknesses of the young man and work with him to strengthen the parts that need to be stronger before there is a marriage. Yes it is important that our daughter marries a Christian man who is prepared to lead like Christ and be committed to her and our future grandkids. I hope and pray that he will be a protector, a provider, a priest and a prophet within his own family. I pray that he is raised within a Christian family and if it isn’t the case that he won’t hesitate to ask for guidance from us. I also pray that my own sons become the kind of future son-in-laws that will take care of their wives and children. I know I am blessed to have such a husband in my own life and I am thankful for the upbringing he got from his parents. Thanks mom and dad in law. I love you!

The contents and the first chapter as well as the back cover of the book are available at Crossway. Simply click on the link for Crossway in the beginning of my review.

What He Must Be… If He Wants to Marry My Daughter is available everywhere even at and

A Dream To Call Her Own - Brides of Gallatin County Book Three

A Dream To Call My Own – Brides of Gallatin County Three
By Tracie Peterson
Published at Bethany House
About the Book
Lacy Gallatin, the youngest of the Gallatin sisters, is a woman with a mission: to find her father's killer. Haunted by the belief that she's failed him, Lacy is also battling a desire to have something more than just revenge, something she can't quite figure out.

Enter Dave Shepard, deputy sheriff for the area. Dave has been fervently trying to find the man who killed George Gallatin, but he always feels inadequate when it comes to the beautiful Lacy. When they are together, the tension crackles between them--both when they argue and when they kiss. Lacy finds him frustratingly irresistible, but is it truly love?

Who is Tracie Peterson?
Tracie Peterson is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than 70 novels. She teaches writing workshops at a variety of conferences on subjects such as inspirational romance and historical research. Tracie and her family live in Belgrade, Montana. Visit

My Thoughts
This is the last installment of the Brides of Gallatin County and when I saw this title among other ones that needed some review, I just had to get my hands on it since I have reviewed books one and two previously. * grin* Besides, I wanted to know more about the characters especially Lacy since this book revolve around her and Dave Sheppard.

I really enjoyed reconnecting with the characters of this series. It was nice to read more about Gwen and Beth, their families and friends. I was curious if and when Lacy will see that Dave is the man for her and how the story will continue. I wasn’t disappointed.

First, Lacy is still searching for the person who killed her dad. And after various events in the Gallatin house, you come at peace concerning this subject. More events will keep on the edge and you will read this book in a flash. It was difficult at times to put the book down to tend to other duties. I really appreciate that when an author makes sure that there is enough “meat around the bone” when they are writing a book. And it’s even better when the meat is realistic – if you know what I mean!

The author even took the time to write an epilogue in the book. This epilogue happens 5 years after the happy ending on the book. I was happy to have tidbits of news from the three sisters and their neighbors and friends. It was nice to see that their life wasn’t plagues with negative people around them anymore as well as peace finally. I had a smile on my face when I read the sisters commenting on the telephone being available in every house someday – if only they knew that this was just the grand-father of the cell phones… LOL! Would they be able to imagine people carrying their phone one them? I doubt it…

A Dream To Call My Own is a wonderful read while you are on vacation. I read it during our own vacation and I found the book refreshing. I was able to escape in a different world every time I was able to pick it up to pursue my reading.

The conclusion of the Brides of Gallatin County series is available everywhere even at and

Friday, July 17, 2009

CSSF Blog Tour - The Enclave

The Enclave
By Karen Hancock
Published at Bethany House

About the book
When Lacey McHenry accepts a prestigious research fellowship at the world-renowned Kendall-Jakes Longevity Institute, she sees it as a new start on life. But when a disturbing late-night encounter with a bizarre intruder leads to a cover-up by Institute authorities, she soon realizes all isn't as it seems.

Caught in an elaborate game of deception and seduction, her only ally seems to be the brilliant but absent-minded geneticist, Cameron Reinhardt. A favorite of the Institute's charismatic director, Cameron, too, came to K-J hoping to escape his past. But the more he learns about Lacey's attacker, the more he fears that the past still pursues him.

Not certain they can trust each other, Cameron and Lacey reluctantly work together to uncover the shocking secrets that lurk behind the Institute's respectable façade—secrets that turn out to be bigger, stranger, and far more dangerous than either of them could have imagined.

Who is Karen Hancock?
Karen Hancock has won Christy Awards for each of her first four novels--Arena and the first three books in the Legends of the Guardian-King series, The Light of Eidon, The Shadow Within, and Shadow over Kiriath. She graduated from the University of Arizona with bachelor's degrees in biology and wildlife biology. Along with writing, she is a semi-professional watercolorist and has exhibited her work in a number of national juried shows. She and her family reside in Arizona.

For discussion and further information, Karen invites you to visit her Web site at

My Thoughts
Since the 90s we have heard many times about cloning and the reasons why this is a scientific advancement. But when you think about it, the people who are doing cloning – either with animals or even with humans – are playing God in a way. How ethical is it to clone animals or humans? It doesn’t feel right to me. However, I think the author of The Enclave has used this idea of cloning with incorporating Christian characters in an interesting way.

This book is packed with suspense. It will keep you wanting to read more at each turning page. The author took the time to describe every scene at the point that I seriously think that it would be a wonderful movie. There are so many details that I wouldn’t be surprised that someday we would see this story on the big screen.

Honestly, reading the book made me think a lot about the movie The Island. In a similar way, the plot is about people living in a special environment awaiting their possibility of being sent to The Island which is almost like a lottery for them. One of them discovers that in reality they are clones and that they exists only because someone wealthy sponsored one of them to eventually be used if that sponsor would be in need of organs or something else. I won’t give out the plot but the movie is quite interesting.

While reading this book, you can also see the tactics of a leader to manipulate and control the people under him. He also modified various aspects of the Bible to create a New Eden, New Babylon and so on. In a similar way, we need to remind ourselves that some leaders do manipulate the information or modify it so that their followers believe them. It is all part of a sect. I tip my hat to the author for being thorough in her writing with the Truth and with her imagination in creating such a wonderful environment for the story. You can see she has thought a lot about all the details for the various places presented in The Enclave. It was easy to imagine the various places where the characters where living, working and entertaining themselves.

I must admit that I am not done reading this book. But I plan to finish it and discover what the end of the story will be. I am quite enjoying it and find it a good read for our vacation time. I also know that my husband would love to read it too and I strongly recommended it to him. He just loves this kind of plot in a book. Anyone who loves science fiction or futuristic kind of story would love it.

The Enclave is available everywhere, especially at, and

UPDATE: It is June 20th, 2009 and 7pm EST. I have just finished to read The Enclave. The end of the book is packed with events that will blow you mind. And questions arise... What will happen to the children Zowan and Terra? And what will Cam and Lacey do now? Will there be persecution against the leaders? Will the main leader evade justice? Where did he go? Is the cover up work or will truth be stronger than the lies? Honestly, I fell as though I am left wanting more. Does the author plan to write a sequel? I sure hope and pray that she does. This is definetively a hot subject to write about. Again, I reinstate the fact that this story would be great on the big screen. If someday there is a movie made about this novel, you can be sure that I will be one of the first ones to go see it!

Here's the links of the other participants on the tour. Take the time to read what they think of the book.

Participants’ Links:

Brandon Barr
Jennifer Bogart
Keanan Brand
Grace Bridges
Melissa Carswell
Valerie Comer
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Janey DeMeo
Jeff Draper
Emmalyn Edwards
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Beth Goddard
Todd Michael Greene
Heather R. Hunt
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Dawn King
Mike Lynch
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
Steve Rice
Crista Richey
James Somers
Speculative Faith
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Elizabeth Williams
Dona Watson

A Perfect Mess

A Perfect Mess – Why You Don’t Have to Worry About Being Good Enough for God
By Lisa Harper
Published at Waterbrook
About the book
Caught up in the self-imposed pressure to do and be all the things they think a Christian woman ought to do and be, countless women are working desperately to convince everyone, including God, that they have it all together. Few have any idea that the Creator of the universe looks at them with delight even when they yell at the dog, drive a minivan littered with French fries, or think bad words about that rude clerk at the store.

A Perfect Mess offers hope to every woman who yearns for a vibrant relationship with God but worries she isn’t good enough or doesn’t do enough to merit His affection. With characteristic authenticity, speaker and author Lisa Harper shares poignant stories from her own imperfect life to showcase the real-life relevancy of the Bible in the lives of modern women.

As she guides readers on a story-driven journey through selected Psalms, they will be inspired to experience for themselves how God’s incomparable love transforms the messiness of life into a gorgeous work of grace.

Who is Lisa Harper?
Lisa Harper is a master storyteller whose lively approach connects the dots between the Bible era and modern life. She is a sought-after Bible teacher and speaker whose upcoming appearances include the national Women of Faith Conferences. A veteran of numerous radio and television programs and the author of several books, she also is a regular columnist for Today’s Christian Woman magazine. Lisa recently completed a master’s of theological studies from Covenant Theological Seminary. She makes her home outside Nashville.

My Thoughts
I am enjoying this book, learning a lot, and I am taking my sweet time going through the chapters. What makes this book special is that the author illustrates each subject of the chapters with her own experiences and stories. I love it when a teacher/author does that. It makes it more personal and also more realistic to the readers I find.

I wasn’t attracted to the Psalms until about two years ago where I found that they are speaking to me more than I would have thought. I am a woman with many emotions and the Psalms are full of these emotions. So when I started reading A Perfect Mess, I was learning about some specific Psalms that I did read but learning through the pen of Lisa Harper. I love the way she present the “teaching” part of each Psalms she has selected for the book. I find it down to earth and simple. Lisa decorticates the psalm of each chapter so that the reader can fully understand the lesson. She is going verse-by-verse to make sure we fully understand the psalm. She takes the time to explain the meaning of specific Hebrew words as well as pouring out her life in each chapter.

Each chapter also contains many bits and pieces of information – a reflection question, the history or explanation of the Psalms, other information concerning something mention in the chapter from other sources with the thoughts of the author of them, and so on. To top it off, each chapter finishes also with a little study about what you have read and makes you think about your own life. Putting the chapter in perspective is wonderful and some of the questions make you really stop and think before answering. And she makes you dig for more in your bible while doing the study part. You couldn’t ask for more!

I can see this book being used in a mom’s bible study or a woman’s bible study. I think it would make many women reflect on their lives and put down everything to God’s feet. I strongly recommend every mom to take the time to go through A Perfect Mess.

As I said, I am taking my sweet time to go through this book. Consequently, I am not totally done with it. I take my time to digest the information and make sure that God works in me before continuing to the next chapter. I am dedicated to complete this book but this gem needs me to take my time – which is what I am doing. I wasn’t expecting this whatsoever before I started the book.

GREAT NEWS!!!! I have a copy of A Perfect Mess to give away for all my Canadian friends. Post a comment before August 1st, 2009 and I will draw a name from all who have commented on my blog in early August.
DRUMROLL PLEASE!!! Two people commented on this blog to win a copy of A Perfect Mess. So I wrote the names on pieces of paper and folded them. I then put the pieces of paper in my brand new Ladybug bucket my hubby got me in Niagara Falls and asked my 5 year old to pick on of the paper. The winner is: JAMIE! I will contact her and mail the book to her.

A Perfect Mess is available everywhere even at and

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Holy Roller - Finding Redemption and the Holy Ghost in a Forgotten Texas Church

Holy Roller – Finding Redemption and the Holy Ghost in a Forgotten Texas Church
By Julie Lyons
Published at Waterbrook Press

About the book
Julie Lyons was working as a crime reporter when she followed a hunch into the South Dallas ghetto. She wasn’t hunting drug dealers, but drug addicts who had been supernaturally healed of their addictions. Was there a church in the most violent part of the city that prayed for addicts and got results?

At The Body of Christ Assembly, a rundown church on an out-of-the-way street, Lyons found the story she was looking for. The minister welcomed criminals, prostitutes, and street people–anyone who needed God. He prayed for the sick, the addicted, and the demon-possessed, and people were supernaturally healed.

Lyons’s story landed on the front page of the Dallas Times Herald. But she got much more than just a great story, she found an unlikely spiritual home. Though the parishioners at The Body of Christ Assembly are black and Pentecostal, and Lyons is white and from a traditional church background, she embraced their spirituality–that of “the Holy Ghost and fire.”

It’s all here in Holy Roller–the stories of people desperate for God’s help. And the actions of a God who doesn’t forget the people who need His power.

Who is Julie Lyons?
Julie Lyons is an award-winning writer, editor and investigative reporter who for more than 11 years served as editor-in-chief of the Dallas Observer, an alternative weekly newspaper owned by Village Voice Media. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a B.A. in English from Seattle Pacific University. She and her husband, Larry Lyons Jr., live in Dallas with their son.

My Thoughts
I always think it’s important to know other people story – especially with brothers and sisters in Christ. This book is about a special church in South Dallas – a church found by a crime reporter who was trying to find a place where healing of addicts where happening. Julie Lyons found more than that while visiting this church and talking to its pastor. She found her church family.

In this book, you will read not only the ups and downs of The Body of Christ Assembly but also the stories of the pastor, his wife, the author herself and her husband as well as some members of the church.

We are also planting a church with little support or guiding. Consequently, reading about how Pastor Eddington continues to pursue what God had put in his heart is refreshing and inspiring. While travelling to our camping site, I read bits and pieces of the book to my husband and he also thought that it was encouraging and interesting.

Their stories are not all pink and you can see how God worked in their lives. It is encouraging to see that our Lord can use anyone to minister and speak to others. Chapter after chapter, you read about healing and experiencing God’s presence. And at the end, you learn where are the various people from the book are today.

I really enjoyed reading Holy Roller and I personally think it’s important to experience a different kind of church. I’m not used to Pentecostal churches and even less of Black Pentecostal churches. It was an interesting read for sure. Amidst of reading this book, I think my own faith has grown and I know that God can do marvelous miracles still today.

What I also like about this book is the fact that it was written by a white woman who has made herself comfortable in a black church. And she made this church her family and most of her friends are black. Herself, she tends to forget that she is different than the rest of the bunch of attendees. For her, it’s her church family plain and simple. And I like that. A few years ago, we attended a black church in Toronto and there was two white couples attending that day – us being one of them. But you know what, we felt accepted right away and they were really friendly to us – one man going to the point of lending us his bible during the service so we could follow. We had a great experience with this congregation. If we ever go through South Dallas one day, I sure hope that we can attend The Body of Christ Assembly and visit this family of believers. I am 100% sure that we will be accepted by them. Besides, I wouldn’t mind experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit and seeing what God is doing in this church.

If you want to know more about The Body of Christ Assembly and how God is changing lives in this church, I strongly recommend that your read Holy Roller. You will see and read about changed lives and how God is still working in our midst even in this century. God is always present in our lives. We just need to be willing to let Him do whatever He wants to do. Plain and simple.

Holy Roller is available everywhere even at and

Friday, July 10, 2009

Vacation time...

We are on vacation as I write this.   It's pass 9pm EST and I'm blogging.   One of my kids just sneezed. 

Vacation.  AhhhhH!   Much deserved and much needed too!

Mind you I feel like we are running around since we arrived but we are having fun as a family and that's what matter.

We are camping.  We rented the place for a whole month.   There is much to do in the area.   So far we went to Marineland twice, went to see the Falls, saw the 4th of July fireworks, went to Rochester twice to go through the Museum of Science (for free since we have membership in our city for other museums) as well as Churchville to stop by the CampingWorld, went to the botanical garden in Niagara Falls.   We also went to the Oneida outlet to check it out because it was closing down and we found some new utensils. 

Not sure what we will do tomorrow.    But in case anyone are wondering why I am not updating my blog... the reason is simple.  I'm vacationing....

Sunday, July 5, 2009

First Grab Bag Blog Tour from Waterbrook

Recently I was asked to participate to the First Brag Bag Blog Tour. A Grab Bag tour is where the publisher – Waterbrook Multnomah in this case – randomly select two of the eight historical full-length novels and send them to the blogger for his/her review. So below are the two books I received and my thoughts about them.

A promise for Breanna – book 1 of Angel of Mercy series
By Al Lacy
Published at Waterbrook

About this Book
The Angel of Mercy series follows the adventures of certified medical nurse Breanna Baylor as she seeks to serve her fellow man and restore her relationship with her true love-John

Stranger of the Journeys of the Stranger series-in the post-Civil War West. A Promise for Breanna finds the heroine face to face with Frank Miller, the man who once broke her heart and led her to mistrust men, sabotaging her relationship with John Stranger. Suspense, danger, romance, and spiritual truth each play a part in this compelling story that draws readers into the life of an angel of mercy.

Who is Al Lacy?
Al Lacy has written more than ninety novels, including the Angel of Mercy, Battles of Destiny, and Journeys of the Stranger series. He and his wife, JoAnna Lacy, are coauthors of the Mail Order Bride, Hannah of Fort Bridger, and Shadow of Liberty series. The Lacys make their home in the Colorado Rockies.

My Thoughts
Even though this novel is a sequel of the life of Breanna Baylor from the Journeys of the Stranger series, it can easily be read as a stand-alone. Originally published in 1995, this novel has been revamped with a new cover.

The story starts with a dream and finishes with the dream becoming a reality. But it also finishes with leaving you wanting for more. I assume that there will be more books from the Angel of Mercy series and after checking on a popular Christian bookstore website that there is indeed more books in this series.

I discovered wonderful characters while reading A Promise for Breanna and lots of adventure. After serving as a nurse in a village with no doctor, she embarks on a new adventure partly because she is needed in a wagon train. While riding toward California more events come to them and you wonder how they will come out of these unhurt.

In a time where many were not following hygiene rules, Breanna strongly suggest to follow God’s rules from the Old Testament to avoid terrible sickness while travelling. It makes so much sense and I wonder how many people would have lived if such rules had been applied for the settlers of the west.

A Promise for Breanna is a wonderful read for the summer and I recommend it to anyone who would love to experience the life on the road while being on a wagon train.

A Promise for Breanna is available everywhere even at and
A Gathering of Finches
By Jane Kirkpatrick
Published at Waterbrook.

About this Book
Based on historical characters and events, A Gathering of Finches tells the story of a turn-of-the-century Oregon coastal couple and the consequences of their choices, as seen through the eyes of the wife, her sister, and her Indian maid. Along the way, the reader will discover reasons to trust that money and possessions can't buy happiness or forgiveness, nor permit us to escape the consequences of our choices. The story emphasizes the message that real meaning is found in the relationships we nurture and in living our lives in obedience to God.

Who is Jane Kirkpatrick?
Jane Kirkpatrick is an Oregon author whose work includes the three novels Love to Water My Soul, A Sweetness to the Soul, and Homestead. A Sweetness to the Soul earned the author and publisher the Wrangler Award from the Western Heritage Center as the "Outstanding Western Novel of 1995." Her award-winning essays have appeared in over fifty magazines and newspapers across the country. She is a clinical social worker, speaker, and teacher. Jane and her husband, Jerry, live on a remote ranch in Eastern Oregon. A Gathering of Finches is the third book in her compelling historical novel series.

My Thoughts
I was excited to have received the book from Jane Kirkpatrick. I’ve discovered her about two years ago when I borrowed a book from my sister-in-law. I was hooked by her way of writing and her research on historic events. So I was half-hoping to get to review this one when I got the request from Waterbrook. Well, I was pleased to see that it was one of the selection send to me.

This book is once again based on the history. This time the story will be developed in Oregon. But before leaving on the train to go there, the novel debuts in New York where an untimely event in the life of the Hendrick family happens. The main character of this novel is Cassie Hendrick who will soon become Mrs. Stearns thanks to the offer of Josiah Stearns. However, it’s a marriage of convenience and soon you can realize that it wasn’t for the best of worlds. Eventually, Cassie falls in love with Louis Simpson and leaves her husband and child to be with this man.

Right there, I think I lost the passion of finishing the book… I must confess that I am uncertain how the book finishes and the conclusion of it. Maybe someday I will pick it up again and conclude the story. I can understand that the marriage wasn’t perfect but honestly I don’t believe in separation and/or divorce. Learning that the main character leaves her home and family to follow her heart is appalling to me. Maybe it’s because myself is a child of divorce – even though I was in my 20s when it happened – I don’t know. I understand that this book tells the story of a real person who lived in the past and that’s how it happened. The Simpson family left a wonderful garden in Oregon and all this was Cassie’s creation.

Jane Kirkpatrick uses an interesting style while writing this novel. It is as though Cassie herself is speaking to us while we read. I like this because I feel as though I have some sort of relationship with the character.

If you want to know more about the life of Cassie Hendrick Stearns Simpson, you should read this book. It is based on her life and the events surrounding it. You would learn quite a lot about her for sure.

A gathering of Finches is available in every bookstore as well as on and

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Teaching preschoolers

I got the opportunity to read and review a brand new e-book titled “Creating a rich environment and a fun place to learn for preschoolers”. Various authors contributed to this e-book. Once again, I see quality in this wonderful e-book from TOS. I, myself, have four young children ages 8 to 18 months and I needed to get reminded how important it is to schedule time with my little ones. One-on-one time is important just as much it is important for them to feel included when you are teaching the older ones. I will have a multi-age homeschool this year and sometimes I wonder how I will do it. It doesn’t take much for a young one – take a wooden puzzle, play-doh, bricks, crayons, paper and you have a busy little one. My little Jasmine will be at the age where she will see her older brothers learning and I am sure that she will want to be included when September comes. Not always easy to adapt yourself to a demanding toddler and a junior kindergarten while teaching a senior kindergarten who is looking forward to read and a 3rd grader. So when I got the opportunity to review this new e-book I jump on the bandwagon even though I was in the midst of packing for our vacation. This e-book about preschoolers made me realize that little things can be a whole lot fun for an 18 months old. Take legos for example, how easy it is to sit down with her and show her how to stack them. Then there are the colors – repetition is a key for preschoolers. Take a blue brick and say “Here’s a blue brick” and so on with all the colors. Eventually she will pick up and realize what blue is and so on. Music is also something any kid – no matter the age really – would be attracted too. I think that is a reason why Veggie Tales is so popular because of the Silly Songs of Larry and the rest of the gang. Seriously though, I have seen my kids dancing of music when they were babies. I remember seeing Alexandre moving and grooving on a song of Elvis Presley when he was in his car seat while driving. He hasn’t change and now at 8 years old he loves to dance on various types of music. My other kids are just like him. This e-book also reminded me that the preschool years are challenging ones sometimes. But at the same time so rewarding and much easier that when they are older. Exploration is the number one way of learning – through snow, rain, sunshine, sand, grass, wood and yes even mud… Climbing, running, smelling the flowers, these are only examples of how the kids discover their world with wonder. It makes us slow down, sit next to them and relax. Life at a preschool age is so much simpler. Another way to include the little ones in the everyday life would be assigning age appropriate chores. Many suggestions are offered in this e-book about this specific activity. With time our little ones will realize that it’s not play all the time and that sometimes we need to work a bit. I am keeping this wonderful e-book on preschoolers close to me this year. It is packed with wonderful ideas and encouragements. I am 100% sure that I will refer to it often to remind myself that even though it is challenging to have little ones in the house it is also very rewarding! I strongly recommend getting this e-book for any homeschool mom who thinks she can’t handle her little ones while teaching the older ones or for anyone who is considering homeschooling when their little ones will be older. As for me, I will revise my schedule so that my little pumpkin feels more included in our school time. Thanks TOS for thinking of creating an e-book on preschoolers. I needed the ideas and the encouragements!

NOTE: This e-book will become available in the weeks to come through The Old Schoolhouse store. I will let you know when it will be available by provinding the link to purchase it.

How Sweet It Is

How Sweet It Is
By Alice J. Wisler
Published at Bethany House
About the book
When Deena Livingston moves into her grandfather's cabin in the mountains of North Carolina, she plans to keep to herself, start a cake-decorating business, and recover from the heartbreak she left behind in Atlanta. But a special request from Grandpa Ernest compels her to interact with the Bryson City locals, who have some surprising stories to share with the new girl in town.

Can a Dr. Seuss-quoting plumber who shows up at the most unexpected times, a handsome social worker who seems to know exactly what Deena is thinking, and a classroom full of mischievous middle-school students teach Deena to once again embrace the sweet things in life?

Who is Alice J. Wisler?
Alice J. Wisler was only eight when she mixed up Japanese seaweed, Rice Krispies, milk, salt, pepper, and sugar in an aluminium tin and baked it for her five-year-old brother, Vince. From then on, her cooking could only improve. When her children were small, she ran a cake business from her home. She is an author, public speaker, advocate, and fundraiser. She has been a guest on several radio and TV programs to promote her self-published cookbooks, Slices of Sunlight and Down the Cereal Aisle. These books were written in the memory of her four-year-old son, Daniel, who died. After graduating from Eastern Mennonite University with a degree in social work, Alice worked in a group home outside of Philadelphia for emotionally challenged children. She later taught English-as-a-Second Language in a refugee camp in the Philippines and at a church school in her birthland of Japan. At her “Writing the Heartache” workshops, she eagerly shares the value of writing through pain. Alice was raised in Japan and currently resides in Durham, North Carolina with her three children and one pet beagle. Visit her website at

My thoughts
When I choose this book to read, I pick it because of the cover and the fact that the main character wanted to open a cake-decorating business. I thought I could relate to Deena because I do cake-decorating for my own family. Well not quite as professional as Deena could do but still my kids loves their birthday cakes.

So I started reading the book. I was refreshed by it because I was discovering a new author. I like the way that Alice incorporated her own experiences in her writing. Cake-decorating, dealing with emotionally challenged children, teaching, and dealing with death (here as a broken heart)…

Her writing is simple yet very thoughtful. I like that. Reading through the book, I was reminded to having God as a friend need to be full and not kept at a distance when we don’t feel like it. Walking with God, hands in hands, means to fully give him my hand and not just one or two fingers. It is about trust. It is about truth. It is about time. These are needed for various reasons in our lives - Time to heal; trust in God to provide; and truth.

I’ve learned to love the many characters in this novel. I can relate to the peace and quietness of living in the mountains. There are days I wish that our house would be in the country with lots of acreage around us, woods for the kids to explore and lots of birds. Another aspect that I liked in this book is that at one point the kids found an owl sleeping in a tree. Not all characters wanted to see it but Deena did. She observed the bird sleeping – being at peace – even though a multitude of eyes wanted to see him. Sweet! I wish I could observe an owl sleeping in nature. I find that observing nature and discovering it brings me close to the Creator and my Father. It’s as though I can touch him and feel him closer to me.

The more I was reading the novel, the more the song How Sweet It Is (To Be Love By You) kept coming in my head. I searched the lyrics and I find them appropriate for the main character – Deena. She has been hurt in the past and need healing. Deena opens up her heart slowly to the kids and to other people around her. At the end she is a changed person. It takes time to heal and trust again. This is another truth that must not be forgotten by anyone. When we are in the midst of difficult events, when we think we are alone in the world, we must not forget that time is needed and that eventually we need to open up again to others.

Three recipes are included in the book – one being at chapter nineteen while the other two are located after chapter forty. I look forward to try these recipes. Also included in the novel are questions for conversation. More and more readers are coming together to participate to book clubs. This book comes with questions to ponder on and discuss. I highly recommend this book for a book club.

You can find How Sweet It Is in every bookstores even at and