Without the love of books the richest man is poor, but endowed with this treasure the poorest man is rich. –Leon Gutterman

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Blog Book Tour--The Swiss Courier

by Tricia Goyer & Mike Yorkey

I received an offer from Revell/Baker Publishing Group to join the blog book tour forThe Swiss Courier a while back. There were a lot of very positive reviews out there. Since I am a huge fan of historical fiction and this was an era that I didn't have fiction from, I agreed and looked forward to reading the book.


From the publishers: Award-winning authors Tricia Goyer and Mike Yorkey join forces for the first time with the release of their thrilling World War II-era fiction novel, The Swiss Courier.

Set in Switzerland during August 1944, The Swiss Courier whisks readers into the height of World War II as Nazi threats mount and governments race to develop the world’s first atomic bomb.

Gabi Mueller is a young Swiss-American woman working as a spy for the newly formed American Office of Strategic Services (the forerunner to the CIA) close to Nazi Germany. She is asked to put her life on the line to safely “courier” a defecting German nuclear physicist—who’s working on the atomic bomb project—out of Germany and into Switzerland, sending her into enemy territory to keep him (and his secrets) safe from the hands of the Gestapo.

As Gabi takes on this do-or-die mission, the fate of the world rests in her hands. If she can lead him to safety, she can keep the Germans from developing nuclear capabilities. But in a time of traitors and uncertainty, whom can she trust along the way?

This fast-paced, suspenseful novel takes readers along treacherous twists and turns during a fascinating—and deadly—time in history. Well-researched, The Swiss Courier includes true historical events to give the story greater authenticity. Danger, suspense and romance abound in this engaging page-turner.




Revell/Baker Publishing asks that as a member of the book tour I post my own review and I've had little problem with enthusiastic endorsements about the books I've read prior. This review has been a little harder; maybe given the seriousness of the subject matter and the era that it addresses I had higher expectations. While I thought The Swiss Courier was a good book, I'm not sure it lives up to the kudos I had read about it. Perhaps it is the limited size that limited the detail of the book.

It was pretty fast paced, but the characters were lacking in dimension. The main character Gabi Mueller is definitely sweet and likable. She is certainly a naïve young woman with limited vision. There were some rather stereotypical descriptions of secondary characters that included barmaids' bosoms and paramours that seemed unnecessary and interrupted the flow. If one were to only read this book as an account of the underground movement that defied Hitler, the reader might believe that only non-denominational Christians were the only members of the brave people who rescued, hid and transported to safety, the Jews who were brutally annihilated by the Nazi regime.

All in all it was a good book. If I were given to "stars" or "bookmark" ranking systems, I would give it a three and a half out of five. There are definitely some surprising twists and if you are looking for a Christian romance this would be a book you would enjoy.

Thanks to Revell/Baker Publishing for the copy of The Swiss Courier. Available October 2009 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Blog Book Tour--The Y Factor

by Liam Roberts

Glass Road Public Relations asked if I would be interested in a book described as a "Medical AND political thriller? You bet! Liam Roberts is a debut novelist with characters who are bent on unraveling the genetic code...and applying it to the simmering situation between Christians and Muslims." That caught my attention!!

How could I turn it down? The Y Factor was a sprint race read--a book that kept me turning the pages and comparing it to the headlines. Mr. Roberts has been compared to one of my favorite authors--Tom Clancy. And I would say for a first published novel that was close to the mark. But as a Christian writer, Mr. Roberts offers a unique perspective; not only politically astute, but also with an eye on eternity.

The characters were young and enthusiastic, fresh out of university and ready to change the world. Little did Eric Colbern and Alana McKinsey realize that their first "real jobs" might be their last.

The Y Factor will take you around the world and back. You will be immersed in technology, history and human intrigue. There's even a little romantic intrigue to top it off.

Look for The Y Factor by Liam Roberts. Definitely a gripping read.

Thanks to Glass Road Public Relations for the copy of The Y Factor for review.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Blog Book Tour--Intimate Conversations

Intimate Conversations: Devotions to Nurture a Woman's Soul by Alicia Britt Chole

In the middle of interrupted sentences, suffering, making breakfast for your child, fear, during the storms of life and in the car; Intimate Conversations by Alicia Britt Chole will provide a dose of reality that points you to closer communication with your Heavenly Father.

Chole's kind and familiar tone make each of the 52 devotions like talking to a friend. And more importantly give you ideas to get you talking to God.



From the Press Releases:

Relief for Busy Women and Moms

To Draw Closer to God—During All of Life’s Busy Moments

Author Alicia Britt Chole shows women how to rejuvenate their spiritual lives with this collection of short yet deeply thought-provoking meditations.

Women spend a large portion of their lives serving everyone around them—making sure the kids are fed and to school on time, the house is in working order, the to-do list is full of checkmarks and they’re volunteering on Sunday mornings at church. After pouring into everyone and everything else, it’s a struggle to have any time or energy left over at all—not even when it comes to cultivating their relationship with God.

Author and seasoned mentor Alicia Britt Chole offers relief. In her latest book, Intimate Conversations: Devotions to Nurture a Woman’s Soul, she shows women how every season—even those marked by hectic schedules and overwhelming responsibilities—can offer unprecedented opportunities to actually deepen your faith without having to put God on hold.

She reveals how that’s possible through this set of 52 daily readings. Each takes only moments to read, yet these poignant meditations will bring a refreshing perspective to a reader’s entire day.

Rather than ignore the daunting real-life issues and faith struggles that complicate your connection with God, Chole addresses them with grace and understanding. Whether it’s yearning to love God more, to learn to listen, to not give up or to overcome fear, she helps women understand how they can develop a more intimate and satisfying relationship with God in the midst of everyday challenges.

“I want to show women how each minute of every loud, distracting day is pregnant with potential for intimacy if we can learn how to simply and intentionally live it with God,” Chole says.

She draws from her experience as a mentor, daughter, wife and mother to weave personal stories of laughter and tears alongside Scripture in these meditations. Paired with thought-provoking questions for reflection or group discussion, Chole’s insightful writing will be cathartic for any woman who is hungering for a more intimate connection with God, no matter how crazy life gets.

Alicia Britt Chole speaks nationally and internationally to leaders, pastors, professionals, students, women, and churches. She has been a mentor for students and women for more than twenty years. She is the author of Anonymous and Finding the Unseen God. Chole lives in Missouri.


You can also visit Ms. Chole's blog Truthportraits.

“Intimate Conversations: Devotions to Nurture a Woman's Soul--available September 2009 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

Friday, September 25, 2009

Blog Book Tour--An Eye for an Eye

by Irene Hannon

Take a handsome FBI agent re-introduce him to the still beautiful woman he fell for twenty years ago, add the bumps and bruises and scars that come with maturing and living full lives and you have a wonderful romance. Add an atypical sniper after one of them and you have great suspense.

An Eye for an Eye
was a marvelous blend of fast-paced action and a quiet and mature romance. Romantic suspense--an interesting blend. Just right for keeping me awake later than I needed to be more than a few nights because I couldn't leave the characters (really me) hanging.

Emily Lawson is the beautiful psychiatrist; a young widow with a lonely and broken heart. Mark Sanders is the rugged FBI agent recovering from a hostage incident where he was injured and a teen was killed. An unexpected meeting reunites them and the sparks they knew as teens still smolder.

Then there is the less than average attempted murderer who wants to kill one of them. But the question is which one? Irene Hannon leads the reader on a roller-coaster chase to catch the killer and keep both Jack and Emily alive.

Thoughtfully researched and written, Ms. Hannon gives the reader characters that are easy to become attached to. The characters journeys of faith are also interesting. Fear of loss, choosing forgiveness, and accepting personal weakness were all dealt with. Most touching to me were the reminders that no one can totally control life and the circumstances we find ourselves in. A strong faith in God can create peace even in the darkest moments.

An Eye for an Eye, book two in The Heroes of Quantico series is a great stand alone read--no need for reading Book One, Against All Odds--but I'm off to look for it! (Ms. Hannon actually notes in the Acknowledgments that An Eye for an Eye was written first.) The book is available from booksellers and Revell/Baker Publishing, who kindly provide me with the opportunity to read it. Book Three, In Harm's Way in on the horizon.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fall Into Reading 2009--At the Goal Post

My favorite season is autumn, time for turning leaves, turning the air conditioner off, turning a few pages of some wonderful books. Time for Katrina's Fall Into Reading 2009.

I've done this with varying success twice before in 2007 and 2008 and had a blast. There's something about having a goal and at least attaining part of it. Being a book addict is consuming sometimes. I have a habit of getting distracted from my original list.

This year I thought I might pick a limited list and just add to it as the days go on. As I stood in front of my burgeoning "To Be Read" SHELF I had to fight the urge to list all the books on there. I see & smell books and reason just flies out the window. What can I say?

So this is my "limited list" for 2009:

Out to Canaan by Jan Karon

Karon's books are always fresh and like a vacation in the town I've wanted to visit since I read her first book--At Home in Mitford. I'm sure I'll fly through this one, just as I've done with the predecessors.




Herbs and Apples by Helen Hooven Santmeyer

Santmeyer became one of my favorite authors nearly twenty years ago when I found her huge novel "...And Ladies of the Club." Within the last year, I've run across a couple more of her less published books and am glad for the chance to read more.



Bygones by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Stories of the Amish--the "Plain Folk" always interest me. I received this book a long time ago, read a few very interesting chapters and then for some reason got sidetracked. Time to pick it up again and finish it.




Armageddon Summer by Jane Yolen and Bruce Coville

Roo and I are reading books with themes including: futuristic projections, overpopulation, post-apocalyptic societies, dystopian/utopian societies. This caught my eye and I wanted to pre-read it before I handed it off to him. I've always been a fan of Jane Yolen's varied work and look forward to seeing how this story is handled.



Of Beetles & Angels by Mawi Asgedom

My sister gave me this book quite a while back with high recommendations. The story of this man's journey as a child from war torn east Africa to a Harvard scholar sounds remarkable.




M.C. Higgins, the Greatby Virginia Hamilton

It's hard to go wrong with a Newbery Medal book, although some of the Amazon reviews weren't terrible flattering. I'll reserve judgment until I read this children's literature myself




Ascension (Water Trilogy, Book 1)by Kara Dalkey

Honestly, the beautiful cover art on this book caught my eye. I have the trilogy and am looking forward to this young adult fantasy.



Thanks again to Katrina for her lovely challenge. Check out all the readers, and she has giveaways!! Always a fun thing.

Time to cozy up with tea or coffee and a good book.

I'm double posting my first Fall Into Reading 2009 post on both my blogs, the reviews will be here at Joyful Days Reviews & Recipes.

Fall Into Reading past;

Fall Into Reading 2008

Fall Into Reading 2007

Friday, September 18, 2009

Fall Into Reading 2009

Katrina is hostessing



once again!!

Can you believe it's time for Fall already?

Getting my book list ready. And my computer.

OH!! And of course my BOOKS!!

Blog Book Tour--Silent Savior

by A.J. Gregory

For when you are dry in the desert, for when the flood waters are up to you ears, for when you can't seem to find your candle to light in the darkness...for when God seems silent.

A.J. Gregory says the things you are afraid to say when you go to church, when you talk to your brothers and sisters in Christ over doughnuts in the fellowship hall, when you sit in Bible study, when you confess your sins. Many are able to admit to sin, but few want to admit to wavering faith, to doubt and questions when your heart is raw and you haven't heard a word from the LORD lately.

Have you been told you, "Just don't have enough faith about_____" or there's some "hidden sin" you haven't confessed, or that if you pray this or that prayer or follow just the right doctrine, your prayer request would be answered.

Society has convinced us that we can have it all and it all can be put together packaged and wrapped with a pretty bow and that message has seeped into our "church lives." Do you put on a happy face and answer, "Fine!" when asked how you are? Because a Christian should be happy and fine. But are you?

Gregory's book isn't going to tell you the magic answer to have your prayers all answered by the LORD. Silent Savior isn't going to tell you why you have prayers that haven't been answered. This refreshing and real book will let you know that it is okay to have questions, to ask them out loud and to hang on to the threads of faith when threads are all you have.

From reviews and the publisher:

What do you do when there's not even a still, small voice?

There are times in our lives when it's not just hard to hear God--it's impossible. We've all been there. Knowing on some deeper level that God is present no matter how things look, but still feeling the trickle of doubt. And wondering why the God whose faithfulness is never supposed to fail seems to be turning a giant deaf ear toward us. It's not always like this, but silent seasons are common in the life of any believer.

In Silent Savior, A. J. Gregory navigates that labyrinth of sorrow, pain, angst, and doubt on the way to a soul-deep recognition of God's infinite faithfulness and perpetual, if sometimes silent, presence. And she encourages you to keep believing he's there even when that silence seems deafening.

Endorsements

"Many of us tiptoe around the eggshells of the doubts and questions surrounding an intangible God. Gregory doesn't. And after reading this book, hopefully you won't either, but instead rest in a haven of depth and holy wonder."--Chris Seay, author

"In a beautiful and reflective way, Gregory reminds us we don't have to be embarrassed, afraid, or shocked to find the presence of God's silence in our lives."--Ron Martoia, author

"If you're looking for a book to move your stagnant faith, to stir the dry bones, and to bring truth to your life, you've got the right book."--Michael Franzese, author


Thanks to Revell/Baker Publishing and A.J. Gregory for the opportunity to read this thoughtful book.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Blog Book Tour--Fools Rush In

by Janice Thompson

Janice Thompson certainly likes her weddings! Yes indeed, she does. The first Thompson wedding tale I read was back in 2007, Gone With the Groom, a wedding mystery with a missing groom. Her suspense filled Christian fiction was full of adventure and mayhem.

But Ms. Thompson really caught one of my weaknesses this time, she knows her Dean Martin. Oh yes indeed, she does! And one of my secret weaknesses is Dean Martin's singing. Dino croons the soundtrack of her latest novel, Fools Rush In: Weddings by Bella. Well...I suppose Ol' Blue Eyes sings a supporting backup, but it's Dean who leads the show.

Really, the story is about the very Itallian Bella Rossi and her search for the perfect country and western deejay. Because, you know, Italians and Texas have a lot in common...ummm, do they? Really? Well, maybe more than you'd think.

Bella has inherited the family business...ahem...the family wedding business, that is, and she intends on making it successful. Can a wedding planner who's never had her own wedding make it big designing others' happily ever after dreams? What about Bella's dreams? Will there ever be a wedding bell in her future? What happens when Bella's East-coast family meets the downhome Texas family of D.J, who may or may not be the deejay she's looking for.

Janice Thompson's quirky characters create madcap situations and manage to rely on the LORD at the same time. They are unapologetically Christian and are always ready to share what the LORD has done for them.

My only complaint with the book? Well, Ms. Thompson didn't work in my all time favorite Dean Martin song--Georgia Sunshine. I suppose given the book is about TEXAS and all I can understand. Book One of the Weddings by Bella series was so fun, I'll be on the lookout for Book Two, Swinging on a Star.

My thanks to Ms. Thompson and Revell Books/Baker Publishing for the great time I had with this fun, fast-paced read. Fools Rush In was just released and is available at your favorite bookseller, from Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing group.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Frontiersman's Daughter

by Laura Frantz

Blond and young, energetic and bold, Lael Click is a girl growing up fast in Kentucke, the territory destined to become the state of Kentucky. What is the destiny of the daughter of Ezekial Click? Will she remain barefooted and free living outside the fort named for her father? Will she become the young wife of her best friend's brother, Simon--an albeit charming boy, but harboring some troubling qualities? Will Lael turn to teaching inside the walls of the fort, feeling the walls containing her? Limiting her freedom?

This beautiful story set in the late 1700s is more than just a piece of historical fiction, it is an intensely personal glimpse at frontier life, the beauty and the raw realities of limited water, limited food, challenging weather and always close by, Indians.

Laura Frantz offers characters with many faceted personalities, many secrets shut away that come back to haunt, not only the secret bearer, but their children. The gritty everyday work of just surviving speaks from every page, but Frantz writes in such a way that the reader can catch a glimpse of the call that challenged so many to leave civilized life and endure many trials in the quest for "a new life."

The Frontiersman's Daughter was hard to put down. I must admit to a couple of nights lost sleep because I just wanted to finish "one more chapter." There was a little housework undone also. It was the perfect summer read for out on the patio.

Love, Loss and Forgiveness on the Kentucky Frontier

Stunning debut novel will delight historical fiction fans of Lynn Austin
in this story of romance and adventure during one of America’s most exciting eras

In The Frontiersman’s Daughter, debut novelist Laura Frantz plants readers into the demanding realities of frontier life during the time in American history when Daniel Boone was settling Kentucky. This story has personal significance to Frantz, because her ancestors were among those settlers who journeyed with Boone—and many remain in those original areas of Kentucky.

Drawing from cherished family lore as well as in-depth research in her writing, Frantz is able to paint a story with a distinct, captivating authenticity.

Frantz introduces readers to Lael Click, who is lovely but tough as nails and coming of age in the fragile Kentucky settlement that her father—a celebrated frontiersman—founded. Life as a pioneer isn’t easy, and it’s more than just the hardships of living in the wilderness that Lael must contend with: The arrival of an outlander doctor threatens her view of the world, God, and herself—as well as the power of grace and redemption.

In the midst of this, Lael must also face the loss of a childhood love, a dangerous family feud, the affection of a Shawnee warrior and the secret sins of her family’s past. Rather than give up, this strong woman draws strength from the rugged land she calls home. This epic novel gives readers a glimpse into the simple yet daring lives of the pioneers who first crossed the Appalachians, all through the courageous eyes of a determined young woman.


Laura Frantz credits her 100-year-old grandmother as being the catalyst for her fascination with Kentucky history. Frantz’s family followed Daniel Boone into Kentucky in 1792 and settled in Madison County where her family still resides. Frantz is a former schoolteacher and social worker who currently lives in Port Angeles, Washington, with her husband and two sons, whom she homeschools.

Monday, August 24, 2009

A Different Kind of Wild--Blog Book Tour

God's timing is perfect and this book--A Different Kind of Wild: Is Your Faith Too Tame? by Debbie Alsdorf was just what I needed to read right now. You know those little sticky tabs you can use to highlight a good part in a book? My copy of this is covered in stickies!

Debbie Alsdorf is not afraid to show the gritty realities of humanity and share the struggles to walk away from a listless life to a life that is untamed and, yes, wild for GOD.

"Many of us have learned to live like we are dead. Here's a news flash: dead girls aren't wild; they're lifeless, useless, and buried in self. But women who are alive in Christ and actively living up in the truth of GOD's Word are passionate, free, unconventional, and courageous." p. 23.

WOW. What do you say to that? How do you respond? The gauntlet was thrown just daring me to stay rooted in a stale state of selfishness.

Ms. Alsdorf address wild living in the forms of not conforming to culture, not waiting to be perfect, forgiveness, refusing to worry, making the decision to love and so many other areas.

No sweet sounding, but unattainable dreams in this book; Alsdorf offers real choices we all can make, if only we are brave enough to be seen as different. As WILD.

This would be a fabulous book for anyone as a personal devotional, but I am sure it would be a wonderful study for a women's group, offering a chance to grow together and upwards in relationship with GOD.

A Different Kind of Wild: Is Your Faith Too Tame by Debbie Alsdorf from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, is available now for purchase in stores and online. Many thanks to Baker Publishing for allowing me to review this blessing of a book.



From the publisher:
Time to Leave Tame Faith Behind

Get ready to experience the adventurous spiritual life God has for you

When Debbie Alsdorf speaks to Christian women, she has a message for them: “Go wild.” And she means it—but she’s talking about a different kind of wild living than the image we’re most familiar with.

“This new wild is about taking our lives back,” she says. “It’s about becoming women who dare to live differently—wild in surrender, wild in devotion, wild in service, and wild in following what God calls us to.”

She encourages women to embrace the adventure God has for them, and watch their faith flourish like never before. She looks at how women can be risk-takers for Christ, stand firm in crises, confront fear with truth, dare to live by a different standard and find courage to follow a new life path.

Alsdorf explains this call to becoming wild: “’Wild’ stands for ‘women in lifelong development.’” While this might sound intimidating and out-of-reach to some women, she points out that it is a process. “The key is understanding that it’s a lifelong development. There are no overnight spiritual success stories. We are on a journey with God: Each day the pages of life are turned, and line by line our story unfolds. It is a process.”

With passion and deep, Scriptural insights, Alsdorf—an exciting conference speaker, women’s ministry leader and Bible teacher—helps women live transformed lives with untamed faith and courageous obedience to God’s leading. Reflection questions are included, making this book an ideal resource for personal study or small-group use.

Debbie Alsdorf is the author of Deeper. As the founder of Design4Living Ministries, she seeks to encourage women to Live Up! in the truth of God’s Word. Since 1997, she has been the director of women’s ministries at Cornerstone Fellowship, where she and her team lead a vibrant women’s ministry. Debbie is a biblical lay counselor and a member of the Association of Christian Counselors. She lives in Northern California.

"Wow! This book is a must read for everyone who desires to live life wildly different. Instead of being led by our emotions and ever changing circumstances, Debbie shows how to live a life of confident faith in God’s truth. Her honest reflections, practical advice, and God inspired insights show us a radically different way to live. I’m encouraging every woman at our church to get a copy."
— Rachel Johnston, pastor of women's ministry, Bayside Church, Granite Bay,California

"A Different Kind of Wild is Debbie Alsdorf's best work yet … and it's no doubt the result of its message being lived and proved out in her own life. Now that's the kind of book I want to read; as well as the only kind of book I'll recommend."
— Julie Barnhill, author of One Tough Mother

Hello Cupcake!

by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson

Looking for a fun way to dress up cupcakes? Look no further than this sweet book, Hello Cupcake!: Irresistibly Playful Creations Anyone Can Make An unbelievable number of fantastic ideas that will make you the hero when you deliver the goodies.

Part of this book's appeal is the lack of special cake decorating tools that are needed. Plastic sandwich bags, tubs of premade frosting and a couple boxes of cake mix and the ability to read and follow directions are all that is required.

What fun!

I have to admit I bought the book solely for the Pup Cakes to delight my sometimes hard to impress newly nine year old. More results can be seen at my Joyful Days blog. But there are so many great ideas in this book, we will be using it again and again.

For the cupcake enthusiasts, there is a website and a blog to further the cupcake cuteness.

Too sweet! Literally!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Blog Book Tour--The Knight

Doctor Patrick Bowers, FBI agent and geoprofiler is facing off with yet another serial killer. This killer is unlike any other he's seen before. One of the victims? A murderer on the FBI's Most Wanted List, a man stalking Agent Bowers and his stepdaughter Tessa. Why? Has a serial killer saved Patrick Bowers?

The victims are killed in pairs. The death scenes are nearly works of art--almost poetic...almost? What or who has inspired these brutal homicides? How many more people are on the grizzly list? Just as important might be who else is on the list?

And this latest killer is not Bowers' only concern. A convicted cannibal Bowers helped put away thirteen years ago is being considered for release. How much of the truth will Patrick be willing to share in the name of justice. Agent Bowers wrestles with himself to see where the line is between himself and the criminals he tracks down.

Author Steven James weaves the twisted and sinister tale magnificently. This master storyteller's web is deathly and disturbing. It is hard to comprehend how he can look repeatedly into the minds of ruthless killers and share their manipulative methods.

As in The Pawn and The Rook, Mr. James style is rapid fire and unrelenting, leading the reader on a frantic chase with Bowers where time has already run out for so many victims. How many more people will succumb to the terror of this madman?

Mr. James subtly injects a strong Christian message into his writing. I was deeply touched by the pro-life theme he included in this novel. But a serious note of caution: The Knight is graphic and not for the faint of heart. Be prepared to lose a little sleep if reading into the wee hours.

The Knight is available August 2009 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Many thanks to Baker Publishing for providing this chilling read.


From the publisher, reviews for The Knight and Steven James:

Killer is on the Loose with an Ancient Manuscript as His Guide

New thriller from critically acclaimed novelist takes readers on a shocking rollercoaster ride to stop this violent killer before it’s too late.

Steven James is one of the nation’s most innovative storytellers—with a Master of Arts in Storytelling degree to prove it. For the past decade, he has been crafting compelling and evocative stories that pull readers into the thick of his brilliant, mind-bending plots, and his latest creative endeavor is no different: The Knight, the third installment in his bestselling series of thrillers, is full of the chilling twists and adrenaline-laced action that readers have come to expect from James.

The Knight picks up in The Bowers Files series, starring FBI criminologist Patrick Bowers, who is assigned to tracking the country’s most dangerous killers. But when he is called to his most disturbing crime scene yet, Bowers begins to realize that this criminal mastermind has actually been tracking him.

To get to the bottom of this cold-blooded case, Bowers uses his cutting-edge investigative techniques to decipher the evidence and Your browser may not support display of this image. discovers that the murderer has been using an ancient manuscript as a blueprint for his crimes. This sends Bowers on a race against time to stop the killer before he takes his next victim in another grisly crime.

But even as he is working to crack the clues of this bloody trail, Bowers finds himself stumped by another matter: An old murder case haunts him, causing him to question himself and wonder which is more important—truth or justice. The answer might set a killer free or change Bowers into a criminal himself.

Keeping readers guessing until the very end, James has earned rave reviews from the likes of Publishers Weekly, which called his thrillers “a wild ride with a shocking conclusion.” The Knight offers readers more of the same, as the satisfying follow-up to his previous bestselling psychological thrillers in The Bowers Files series, The Pawn and The Rook.



Praise from real-life investigators

"Steven James's ability to use modern, up-to-date investigative
techniques to solve his criminal mysteries places him
at the forefront of current mystery writers."
— E. Cleon Glaze, retired FBI agent, Alaska

"Steven James combines 21st-century high-tech law enforcement
techniques with 18th-century Sherlockian deduction
to craft an exciting, suspense-filled story."
— Dr. Kim Rossmo,
Center for Geospatial Intelligence and Investigation, Texas State University

The Knight is available August 2009 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Many thanks to Baker Publishing for providing this chilling read.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Romancing Hollywood Noboday--Review

I finally caught up with the Hollywood Nobody, aka Scotty Dawn, a little later than I would have liked. But I was glad I did. Scotty is back in Lisa Samson's third book of the series. She is on the road with her grandmother and, hallelujah!--with her father and they are on the set of another movie where Scotty is growing in her faith and as a young woman.

Just like the previous Hollywood Nobody books, Samson's uses a fresh and open approach having her characters deal with relevant teen issues such as dealing with family, serious illness, dating, alcohol, celebrity idols, making a difference in the world around oneself and most importantly growing in a relationship with the LORD.

Familiar faces such as Seth Haas, Scotty's celebrity crush that she's actually friends with, Seth's parents, and Jeremy the indie film director, make appearances. New characters have a Scottish appeal. Will Scotty forget about Seth for a bagpiper who looks good in a kilt?

The first three Hollywood Nobody books are fun fast reads. I highly recommend them for the fourteen and older set and any moms out there that want an enjoyable positive treat. I'll be off to get Nobody book #4--Goodbye, Hollywood Nobody already out.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Vacationing on Blossom Street

A while back I won Debbie Macomber's Summer on Blossom Street at my sweet friend Renee's blog. (Renee is now posting mainly at her new blog--A Path of Joy, you should visit her!) I've been wanting to read Debbie Macomber's stories since I heard about her and this seemed like a great introduction.

But in true Julie fashion, after realizing Summer on Blossom Street wasn't the first of the Blossom Street books, I had to see if I could find the start of the story. And I did!! The Shop on Blossom Street was available at my library branch and I grabbed that and put the other stories on hold. Somehow I didn't realize that they arrived out of order and after flying through the first (in a day and a half) I jumped into Back on Blossom Street, which is the third book. And in a couple more days I had finished Summer on Blossom Street.

Five days on Blossom Street (amidst travel and restarting school for the boys and just general life) was awesome!! As a relatively new and very obsessed knitter, I was charmed by Lydia Hoffman's store. I love that Debbie includes a knitting project in each of her books. I think I need to start listening to audiobooks, though, because the only problem I've found with knitting, besides storing my yarn stash, is that you cannot knit and read at the same time!!

Debbie Macomber's characters are varied and vulnerable, each in their own unique way. The common thread that connects them all is Lydia Hoffman--a young, two time cancer survivor, who recently lost her father. Lydia is stepping out in faith, believing that she will meet life head on and enjoy it the way her father would have approved of.

In The Shop on Blossom Street we meet Lydia's sister, Margaret in the first book, we also meet Alix Townsend, a tough young woman with community service hours to fill, Carol Girard who prays for a child, and wealthy Jacqueline Donovan who proves money doesn't buy happiness. These original characters remain friends with Lydia, some of them taking background roles, some remaining in the forefront of subsequent books. And in the following books of the series we continue to meet new knitters, all with stories that lead them to A Good Yarn, Lydia's shop.

No one is perfect at A Good Yarn, and they certainly have mixed and sometimes questionable backgrounds, and yet they all charm their way into my heart. God's redeeming love is evident on Blossom Street and that is why I will be returning to visit there often.

Thanks, Renee for getting me started on Blossom Street and Debbie Macomber. I can't wait to go back!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Book Review--Mom Needs Chocolate by Debora Coty

When Glass Road Public Relations offered me a chance to read Debora Coty's new book, Mom Needs Chocolate, I thought, "That's the book for me!"

Did the title catch my attention? You bet!

Did the pages of the book live up to that title? Most certainly and then some!

Debora Coty writes the conversations you can only have with a friend, and not just any friend. These are the conversations between moms who have "been there, done that and gotten the t-shirts."

Part tea and sympathy (and a lot of laughs), part devotional-to-go, this small book has been my companion in waiting rooms and cars lately. To be quite honest, I'm not finished with it--I'm savoring it.

This would be a great read for a mom's group. The chapters are short, sweet, sometimes sassy and the three questions at the end are thought provoking and would make for great conversation.

From the publisher:

What’s a Rundown, Run-Ragged Mom to Do?!

Your spirit yearns to soar, but your feet—and faith—are stuck in the diaper-by-diaper mud of everyday responsibilities. How can you de-muck when you’re chronically exhausted and relentlessly robbed of abundant life by the joy-sucking dully-funks? Mom Needs Chocolate will help you get back in touch with rejuvenating joy and empowering faith!

In mom-to-mom, smile-provoking style, humorist Debora M. Coty paints her offbeat picture of reality with a tangy twist, and offers outrageous coping tips, off-the-wall insights, sisterly hugs and warm encouragement.

With witty frankness and wild abandon, she tackles the highs and lows (and mediums) of marriage, the horror of embarrassing children, the defeat and (and re-defeat) of depression, aging grossfully (er, gracefully), and a veritable grocery list of other mud-between-your-toes issues.

You will glimpse the all-too-familiar in these hilarious and heartwarming stories, and remember how to hear God's still, small voice above blathering kids, howling pets and snarling traffic!


I can definitely recommend sneaking five minutes a day to enjoy this book--with chocolate, of course! You deserve the treat.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thoughts on Thursday

So it's Thought's on Friday...but who's counting. Dollar short & a day late, isn't that how the saying goes?

Beauty and Loveliness

Mother Teresa's successor via Da Mihi Animas. She has some shoes to fill.

Just to make you smile...at Sassy & Sweet Notesa baby...go take a peek, I'll wait.

I didn't say what kind of baby!


Recipes

Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna at Arabian Knits. This looks so yummy!

Alfredo Chicken Pizza
from Renee's Kitchen Comforts. I don't want to share this.

Ginger Grapefruit Bread
at The Happy Belly Bakery. A new-to-me blog I found.


Arts and Crafts

Gorgeous Heart Pendant at But Is It Art?

Check out this Amish Dalia Square at On Pins and Needles.

Spring box directions at Out to Impress--it is for Easter, but could be modified the year through.


Parenting and Homeschooling

Talking to your child about disabilities

Is Gardasil worth it?
via ProLifeBlogs.com.


Politics

A nice visual to demonstrate the size of the debt
--The American Catholic

Why weren't all the memos released?? at Stop the ACLU

Is Quoting Scripture a Hate Crime by Jean at Catholic Fire


Religion

The Sacrament of Marriage at Quite the Normal Life

Do we need Sacraments? at Crossed the Tiber

Bishop Finn says, "We are at war..." I'm so glad he is our Bishop!

I'd be happy to include a link if you want me to & it is family friendly.

Have a great day!

Julie

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thoughts for Thursday


Beauty & Loveliness

How to Display Kids' Artwork... and Why We're Wired to Createfrom Holy Experience by Ann Voskamp

Susan Boyle just gets more lovely the more I learn about her. Via The Anchoress

Quilt Barns, Part 1 at Prim Rose Hill Studio


Recipes

Lamb Recipes h/t MacBeth's Opinion

Pumpkin & Chocolate Chip Cookies from Just Give Me Stamps

Lamb Shaped Cake
from Catholic Cuisine


Arts & Crafts

Easter eggs at Waltzing Matilda and (4:53 am)
Make a sofa table for under $20 from Thrifty Decor Chick

Tea for Two by Capture the Moment

Make Your Own Loom at Happy Hearts At Home


Parenting & Homeschooling

Homeschoolers' greatest fear from Patricia Lewis at WorldNet Daily

Are We too Busy? by Falling on His Grace

For mothers who need a fresh start - Resurrection hope
from Barbara at Mommy Life


Politics

Are You a Terrorist?

Stop Spending Our Future from Catholic Fire

Have you read the Teleprompter's Blog/TOTUS?


Religion

New Cross installed at Holy Family Shrine from RECONnecting to the Truth

To Bead or Not To Bead, That Is the Question from Scattering the Flowers

Esquire's Man of the Year from Mike's America

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thoughts for Thursday


Beauty & Loveliness

Miep Gies who sheltered Anne Frank and her family turned 100. neo-neocon has the story & links.

Recipes

Blueberry Buckle

Fried Tortellini

Art & Crafting

Gorgeous Necklace courtesy of Jewelry and Beading

Journal Pages with Inchies Ingrid Dijkers

The Shabby Nest--I can't pick just one post.

Homeschool & Parenting

Handwriting...Barbara at Mommy Life talks about it and I offered an opinion a while back.

Words being dropped from dictionaries? Faith & Country I'm not surprised, I had a public school girl tell me, "Bible Schmible. Who reads that?"

If I had it to do over I would have delayed vaccination. I am so grateful that my children didn't suffer because of my lack of knowledge. Catholic Fire offers some good links.

Ten New Species of Amphibian Discovered, Paul Ibrahim,Blog

52 Zoos in 52 Weeks!!!! I want to do this! H/t Jennifer's Favorite Links

Politics & Religion

Unborn Child Saved by 12-Year-Old's Popular Pro-Life Presentation LifeSiteNews

Obama orders 17,000 troops to Afghanistan - where are the peaceniks now?
Once a week I recommend some links. Everyday Barbara at Mommy Life offers great links on parenting and current events that are helpful to parents. Visit her!

Seven States Have Launched Efforts for Personhood Rights for Pre-born - More Expected
LifeSiteNews

It was okay to compare Bush to a chimp, but not the big O. Paul Ibrahim, Blog

Monday, February 16, 2009

Memememememe.....

I'm slowly catching up with some blogging blessings and blogging fun that have come my way.

lilly at Reading Extravaganza has tagged me for a meme:

The rules for the tag are simple.Link to the person who has tagged you.Write down six things that make you happy.Post the rules, tag six others and let them know you did it. Then tell the person when your entry is complete.

Six things that make me happy? Only six? Let's make it six things that make me happy with a book. 'K??

1) Books that capture my fancy within the first paragraph.

2) Characters that are so real I dream about them.

3) A book so rich I want to read it again.

4) Books with sequels that are already out so I don't have to wait two years for the next installment

5) New books (or previously undiscovered books) by a beloved author.

6) When I find a book on my list at the Half Price Book Store for $2 or less.

I will tag:
Barbara
Carrie
Mrs. Pogle
Esther
gemma

AND YOU!! If you haven't played it is always fun to think of things that make you happy.

You don't have to make yours about books--just things that make you happy. Make it fit you! Play only if you want & have time.


Barbara at Stray Thoughts also tagged me for The Bookshelf Meme

Tell me about the book that’s been on your shelves the longest... That's kind of hard to say because I have so many books. My father's copy of The Robe and The Silver Chalice are on my shelves. He knows that. We talked about them the last time he was here. There are a couple children's books called The Summerfolk and another called All Horses Go to Heaven (that's what it's called--not a theological opinion). They've been part of my personal library for forever.

Tell me about a book that reminds you of something specific in your life (i.e. a person, a place, a time, etc.)... Marguerite Henry and Walter Farley both wrote about horses. When I was growing up, I was as horse crazy as they come. I remember repeatedly, we are talking over and over and over, checking their books out from the library. I recently read Misty of Chincoteague with Boo and it took me back to the huge old library where I remember some of my happiest times. Walter Farley wrote The Black Stallion series; Marguerite Henry wrote about 40 different stories about horses; Misty had foals and they got stories, but it was from reading her books and Farley's that I traveled to other countries, rode on the backs of unrideable horses, cleaned stalls, groomed coats, picked hooves, drove carts and so many other horse experiences. I can still smell the horses and hay...

Tell me about a book you acquired in some interesting way (gift, serendipity, in a used bookstore, prize, etc.)...
"...And Ladies of the Club.." by Helen Hooven Santemeyer is one of my all time favorite books. I first read it over thirteen years ago. Somewhere along the line I lost my first copy. I kept thinking..."Well, you already read it more than once. Why do you need to have it?" I wanted to read it again. And again. About two years ago I found a copy at a garage sale and since then have found a couple extra copies that I've been able to share with friends. At over 1000 pages it is a mountain of a book, but full of American history and memorable women.

Tell me about the most recent addition to your shelves... I picked up an old, old collection of Oscar Wilde's stories for $3 at (you guessed it) The Half Price Bookstore. It has The Picture of Dorian Gray, a story I've been meaning to read for a long time.

Tell me about a book that has been with you the most places... All of those books mentioned in the first question have followed me where ever I've gone. You can ask my family and friends--I don't travel light. My books go with me.

Tell me about a bonus book that doesn’t fit any of the above questions...Oh, I can't write about just one!! But maybe a set will do. I have my mother's collection of "Amish" books; some by Beverly Lewis and some by Wanda E. Brunstetter. They are good books that are refreshing to read.

The Rules
1. Tag 3-5 people, so the fun keeps going!
2. Leave a comment at the original post at A Striped Armchair, so that Eva can collect everyone’s answers.
3. If you leave a comment and link back to Eva as the meme’s creator, she will enter you in a book giveaway contest! She has a whole shelf devoted to giveaway books that you’ll be able to choose from, or a bookmooch point if you prefer.
4. Remember that this is all about enjoying books as physical objects, so feel free to describe the exact book you’re talking about, down to that warping from being dropped in the bath water…
5. Make the meme more fun with visuals! Covers of the specific edition you’re talking about, photos of your bookshelves, etc.


I took long enough on getting these out that I'm not posting visuals.

I will tag:

Kim
lilly
Renee

Only if you have time and want to play!

Whew!! That was some mememememeing...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Daniel's Den

Daniel's Den by Brandt Dodson



Edited to ad the book giveaway is closed. Judy of Apron Strings and Other Ties that Bind is the winner. Congratulations!!

Glass Road Public Relations sent me Daniel's Den for review at the end of last week. From press releases:

In this fast–paced thriller Daniel Borden, a young government accountant learns to trust God when his life begins to fall apart and unseen enemies pursue him with relentless zeal.

Borden is a thirty–year–old government accountant who lives a quiet life and plays by the rules. But when events transpire that shatter his orderly world and a team of assassins mark him for death, Daniel must flee for his life.

Laura Traynor had the perfect life until her husband's early death to cancer left her with a barely profitable bed-and-breakfast, a mountain of debt, and a young son to raise alone. Now she fights each day to stay afloat and to repel the man who keeps coming by and offering to purchase her place. Something about him doesn't quite seem right...

As they try to unravel the mystery that confronts them, they discover how tenuous life can be and how their very existence depends on the God who will never abandon them.

A perfect suspense tale for readers who love Dee Henderson, James Scott Bell, Brandilyn Collins, and James Patterson.




Dodson's attention to detail and descriptive style draw a reader into the scene quickly. His writing is fast-paced and moves you quickly from character to character.

Both Laura and Daniel have had great losses and lean years throughout their lives. They each reached a place where they thought they had it all. But will they have enough faith to carry them through danger, trials and a common enemy? Where is God in the midst of all this and will they find Him?

I was supposed to receive two copies of Daniel's Den, one for me and one for a giveaway but only received one. I'm offering the one I have for a giveaway. I'm posting the reveiw on my Joyful Days blog also. Leave a comment on either post to enter the giveaway.

I will announce the winner Friday morning, February 20th.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Thoughts for Thursday

Send a Red Envelope to our president. Let him know we care about all innocent lives.

Recipes

Triple Decker Quesadilla courtesy of Kraft Food & Family--check them out!

Melanzane alla parmigiana Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

For Fun

Valentines Day quotes from Barbara at Stray Thoughts.

Valentines Day Fun at Praying for Grace.

Do you want to read the Star Wars saga? Check out the list of all the novels or the complete list of books (the Wookiepedia). Who knew?

Homeschooling

Things about Lincoln
from Catholic Fire.

Surviving Winter at SmallWorld.

Bat Moms at These Things.

Make your own Waldorf Doll courtesy of Happy Hearts at Home
.
UN would take away parental rights at True Confessions of a Prodigal Daughter.

Al Gore says kids should not listen to their parents. H/t John Lott.

Around the World and Next Door

We're all socialists now - Newsweek makes it official courtesy of Barbara at Mommy Life (who I pray keeps posting the way she has been!)

“The cult of Moloch lives on today” California Catholic Daily

Senator Barbara Boxer wants to hand power over U.S. sovereignty to the United Nations at Stop the ACLU.

Nurse was suspended for offering to pray, but reinstated. First story found at Catholic Fire, second LifeSiteNews.

Resolutions of Independence in 10 States? Check out td blog.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Musing Mondays

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about bookmarks…

What do you use to mark your place while reading? Do you have a definite preference? Do you use bookmarks, paper, or (gasp) turn down the pages? If you use bookmarks, do you have a favourite one?

I actually have a bookmark collection! One of my hobbies is paper-crafting and I have participated in several swaps and so I've got a few really nice bookmarks. I also have a few prayer cards and little pieces of ribbons that I use.

I do have a couple favorites. I have a matching pair someone else made. They have rubber stamped images on black cardstock, a smooth ribbon at the top and a bead with a little weight to hang down over. They seem to stay put really well.

My poor children live with a picky mom. I do not like bending down pages or worse yet laying a book open face down--it breaks the spine!! For their books for school I use little post-it tabs that are really cheap at Wally-World. I will mark a weeks worth of reading that way and there is no chance of a bookmark falling out and a page getting missed.

Musing Mondays is at Just One More Page. Check out what others are musing about!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Thoughts for Thursday

Well it's Friday, but there are still links to share. Thursday just didn't seem to cooperate with blogging...


Recipes:

Lemon Drizzle Cake looks fabulous at Dragonfly.

Lovely Linds makes a lovely Carrot Cake!

Michelle at Scribbit always has wonderful recipes. The Cinnamon Dumplings with Apple Cider Syrup really caught my fancy.


Crafts:

I want to make and use beads like these at Art Bead Scene!


Lovely thoughts:

Have you met "MA"? She's a blogger that will make you smile. She has two lovely blogs--What's New at My House and On the Bright Side. She is a cup of sunshine everyday.

Offbeat Modest Dress has a series about dressing in a stylish manner while remaining modest. I love this series. Wish I had a little more to spend.

Lisa's Chaos--A visit to her site is a small vacation. Her photography is phenomenal!


Homeschool:

TangleDoodle Art, what a neat idea for Art Class--at Semicolon.


Of Interest:


Just how much money is $825 billion? from Soutenus.

Will the Post Office quit delivering on Tuesdays? via Paul Ibrahim on Blog.


Politics and Religion (the things we're not supposed to talk about if we want to be popular):

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill is Enthroned. And his remarks on the joyous occasion.

Translating "Liberal Speak" from Barbara at Mommy Life.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Monday Musings

"Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about book stores…

How do you choose what do buy from your local bookstore? Do you have a list, or just browse? What is the selection in your book store like? Do you find what you're looking for? Do you feel pressured to buy the kind of books the store makes prominent? (question courtesy of MizB)"


I decided to take a stab at Monday's Musings. This one's about one of my favorite passtimes--visiting bookstores!

I've seriously cut back on my purchases from bookstores and plan to try to keep my "hobby" in check this year, mostly because there are stacks and stacks overflowing to the floor. But when a "good deal" presents itself, it is hard to walk by.

My favorite bookstore is the Half Price Bookstore and I'm trying to limit my purchases to sale books only--50 cents--$3. I have a huge list of books I want to read (not kidding it is about 10 pages long) and if I see something on my list, I'll grab it. And then if I find something and the cover catches my eye, I can easily convince myself that it was put there just for me.

When I shop regular/new bookstores it is generally with a gift in mind, although about once a month while I am waiting for the boys I will go and inhale as much new booksmell as I possibly can. There again, I have a huge time passing up any sale, whether it is something on my list or not.

I never have a hard time finding "something" to buy. I don't feel "pressured" by the endcaps and displays, but it's the closeout sales that do me in every time.

Visit Just One More Page for more Monday Musings.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Thoughts for Thursday

Several "Thoughts for Thursday." Something for everyone...

Recipes I want to try:

Chocolate Gravy at Boo Mama's--I haven't had this in years.

Potato Leek Soup courtesy of Father John Zuhlsdorf

Blackberry Wine Cake from Lisa at It's the Little Things

Next Christmas I want to try Mommy's Martini's Christmas Cake


Homeschool Thoughts:

Taking Photos of Snowflakes at Pondered In My Heart

Pacifying the Beast at Life Without School.

Not just for homeschoolers, but for all parents--How Can We Encourage Reading Aloud? Jen Robinson has a great post.

Poiema reminded me about String Art! Looks fun.

Jena at yarns of the heart answers some questions, really good questions, about homeschooling.


Politics and/or Religion Thoughts:


Obama's Little Blue Book--didn't Chairman Mao have something similar???? Seen first at Michelle Malkin, but for only$5.95 on Amazon. I. Kid. You. Not. Gift wrap available.

Global Taxes??? I don't even like national ones. Yikes!

From Barbara at Mommy Life--Criticism in the pews. "While I was prepared to keep an open mind about Obama, my definition of open-mindedness does not include letting my brains fall out as so many previously self-identified conservatives seem to have done...

Why not a big party on the lawn?
asks the The Raving Theist (who, for the record, used to be The Raving Atheist).

What the FOCA?--learn what FOCA is really going to do for you. Courtesy of Jean at Catholic Fire.

“We consider right of conscience to be the biggest issue we face," said Dr. David Stevens, executive director of the Christian Medical Association. "If we lose this one, soon there will be no Christian health care personnel debating the other ethical issues like cloning or physician-assisted suicide.”Planned Parenthood: "pro-choice" for abortion, "no choice" for doctors from ProLife Blogs.com

"What have they got to be worried about?"
asks The American Thinker.

What are you thinking about this day?

If you have something you would like me to add to my Thursday links, feel free to e-mail me at ourjoyfuldays at gmail dot com

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sarah, Plain and Tall

sarah plain and tallSomewhere along while back when we began homeschooling, I got the mistaken notion that the Patricia MacLachlan series starting with Sarah, Plain and Tall was for little girls. I am happy to report that I was wrong.

The Sarah, Plain and Tall series is for boys and girls and grown-ups, too. I loved every one. And to my delight, both of my boys really enjoyed the story of Sarah, who comes to live with Jacob Witting and his children on the plains of Kansas.

skylarkI have been planning on writing a review of the books and movies. Don't know what took me so long, but I finally did get around to sharing. I'm sure everyone knows about them already, but I love them so much, I'm going to share anyway.

We have read them as read alouds and as readers. The boys have read them individually and I have reread them more than once. The series includes: Sarah, Plain and Tall, Skylark, Caleb's Story, More Perfect than the Moon, and Grandfather's Dance.

caleb's storyJacob Witting is a farmer in the late 19th century and has lost his young wife when she gave birth to his son Caleb. Busy with his farm and raising Caleb and Anna his daughter, Witting has little time for any fun or merriment.

One day he realizes the children need a woman and he places an ad for a wife in a newspaper.

Sarah Wheaton from New England answers his ad and travels by train to meet the motherless family. She brings her cat Seal and stories of a land where water is as endless as the prairie.

more perfect than the moonMacLachlan uses simple and few well selected words. The volumes are slim, but every sentence is packed to overflowing with content. While the stories are definitely prose they sing in the heart like poetry.

The first two volumes are told from the perspective of Anna, the oldest daughter. The third is told from Caleb's view and and number four and five from Cassie's view.

grandfather's danceThe books are listed as readers for Grades 3-5 and that is definitely appropriate, but younger children will enjoy them as read alouds. Parents will love the stories too.

New characters join beloved characters as the story unfolds and the family grows. The story of Sarah Wheaton and Jacob Witting is a lesson in history, a lesson in growing, a lesson in living and a lesson in love.

There are three beautifully done Hallmark movies with Glenn Close as Sarah and Christopher Walken as Jacob Witting. MacLachlan was involved in the scripting of the series of films and they are true to the books.

I think the simpleness of her writing allowed the movies to be all the more wonderful. They were exactly as I had imagined them as we were reading.

The movies are family fare, no bad language or questionable scenes. If you loved Little House and Caddie Woodlawn you will love Sarah, Plain and Tall.