(Yep... affiliate links are included which means, if you buy through me, I get some coffee money ... though not enough for the raisin toast as well. Full disclosure listed below.)
Silent Days, Holy Night- a heart-warming story that is worth reading anytime by anyone.
The Emerald Crest mansion stand high on the hill above the town for years, cloaked in mystery and silence. That is, until bright, inquisitive and warm-hearted Julia befriends the deaf, reclusive owner of Emerald Crest and ultimately alters the attitudes and outlook of the entire community.
Young Julia’s family knows the history of Emerald Crest and they nurture and guide her understanding of Henry Lafferty, the owner of Emerald Crest. She quickly sees beyond his disabilities to discover a kindly, talented sculptor- a brilliant but kind man who’s never been able to hear.
“His troubles could have made him a bitter, angry man, but they just seemed to make him better. In his silence, he must have learned some important lessons about living and making a difference in the world.”
There are some descriptive passages that paint the scene in greater detail. ‘Ice crystals around the windowpane fame the view where more snow clouds are settling on the mountains.’
But it is the warm family dialogue that moves the action and story development forward.
Indeed, it is through conversations with others that 11-year-old Julia learns about looking beyond exteriors to find someone’s inner motives and see them clearly through their actions. Henry Lafferty may be deaf and have difficulty communicating with others but he speaks kindness and gentleness through his actions.
What themes are included?
As she seeks to bridge the communication gap with Henry, Julia learns other lessons. Her grandmother reminds the curious Julia to keep confidences. “It’s their story story, not our story to tell.”
Prayer is frequently a natural response in the story to the growing tension at the mansion and within the community. Julia notes that her grandmother “..prayed like God was right there in the front seat. No fancy works like they used at church. I could tell she talked to God regularly like that.”
As the tension develops with unknown intruders on the property at night, windows broken and reports of other planned destruction, we are reminded of the importance of moments. One decision, one moment can change things.
“Yes, but it only takes a moment, just one moment, to change a lot of things. That one moment when someone decided to be generous… could be the turning point in their lives.”
The delight of the concluding scenes of the story and changes within the community and Emerald Crest are also reflected in the reactions and behaviour of Julia, fellow students and the whole community.
The narrative does develop slowly and I took a while to actually become involved in the story. The opening scenes seemed a little superfluous and, for me, did little to hold my attention. However, once the story progressed, it took form and built interest.
So who would enjoy this book?
First, the book has a Christmas focus but it could be read and enjoyed anytime. Although it is an adult novel anyone would enjoy it. Since Julia is a young girl, I think that even younger readers would enjoy the story and although there is tension and intrigue, no real violence is detailed. In fact, it would be a good way to teach some of the outlined values to young readers.
I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by NetGalley. I was not compensated for this review and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.
Silent Days, Holy Night -by Phyllis Clark Nichols
Publisher: Gilead Publishing
RRP: $9.86 - $22.50 (Kindle $8.45)
Format: Paperback, Kindle
Get your copy here..
Disclosure: At Grandma's Place is committed to high standards of integrity and quality. I do not promote any brand I do not believe meets these standards, and I only promote brands I would purchase myself. If I don't love it, and don't think you'll love it, it won't appear on my blog.
Ahh... a quiet afternoon, a hot cup of coffee, a cosy spot in the sun, and a good book... What better way to spend a relaxing afternoon.
It's even better when the book is one by Irene Hannon. I've enjoyed a few of Irene's suspenseful mysteries so I was looking forward to Dangerous Illusions.
The story opens on a tense scene enacted within a stormy setting.
'Fingers clutching the door knob, he stared at the shadowy figure as shock thrummed through his nerve endings. In the background, another eruption of electricity slashed across the inky sky. A sharp crack of thunder shook the walls of the house. Rain pummelled the tulips rimming the porch, beating their heads into submission!'
And so.. the scene is set. In fact, the introduction has all the satisfying elements of an exciting mystery: 'It begins with on a dark night where a dark man waits with a dark purpose' sort-of entrance to the story.
But more follows. There's an engaging but capable heroine, a quiet, pensive and insightful friendly investigator, a twist of romance and loose ends throughout that keep you wondering and guessing just how they all tie together.
And what about the illusions?
Let's begin with a close community, a respectable neighbourhood, that suddenly hears whispers of scandal and rumours of suspicious behaviour, lurking beneath a calm public facade.
The investigating detective notes: 'The neighbourhood might be posh, but as he'd learned throughout the years, ugliness didn't have a zip code. Crime happens everywhere.'
And there was a crime. An unexpected, unfortunate and seemingly accidental death camouflages a murder and a sinister purpose.
Where does the guilt lie and why? When everyone involved presents the illusion of innocence and respectability, who can you trust? As danger hovers in the shadows, will the answers be found too late?
'Evil intent often lurked beneath a veneer of respectability.'
If you enjoy a good mystery, especially one with suspense and romance thrown in as well, then you should read Dangerous Illusions. Can you solve the puzzle? Can you break the illusions?
About the Author
Irene Hannon has written more than 50 romantic suspense and women's fiction novels. She has received a string of awards such as Daphne du Maurier award, Carol awards, HOLT medallion, National Readers' Choice award and more. She is also a member of the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame.
You can read more about Irene Hannon on her author website.
I would like to thank Revell Books & NetGalley for providing me with the opportunity to read, and review, this book. (Copy provided for personal review through NetGalley.)
Book One Code of Holour
by Irene Hannon
Publisher: Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group
Why you rarely see a boy reading and what you can do about it....
"Reading? It's boring, Mum! I just want to go outside and play!"
Ah yes.. I know.. I've been there. I feel your pain.
For a long time, and despite an early introduction to books and reading, my son refused to read fiction or for any book for enjoyment. Well, he did read non-fiction and he said it was enjoyable, but never fiction. So, I guess he was reading. But this is so typical of boys.
Research tells us that, in general, boys:
But don't despair!
Check out the following hints and you may find it difficult to get your son's nose out of a book. I'd also like to introduce you to Charge to Glory, one of the Time Crashes Choose Your Own Ending books by H.Michael Brewer. (Choose your own adventure-style books were a game-changer for my own son!)
Boys crave action and adventure
Most boys have enough problems with just sitting still for any length of time. (They just want to be doing something physical.) So any book they read needs to include the same sort of action and adventure. If they're not actually doing it, at least they want to read about someone else doing it. So, encourage your son or grandson to read a book that you know is filled with action.
Boys like books and heroes that match their image of themselves.
I really don't think that this is any different from anyone else. We all like to imagine ourselves as the hero or heroine so it makes sense to look for books that boys can relate to.
A good book is a rollicking yarn that tweaks his sense of adventure and absorbs him so completely that he battles alongside the hero and rejoices in the final victory as if it was his own. -James Moloney
The length of a book can be daunting.
Especially if boys are not in the habit of reading books, a book with a lot of pages, or with print that is too small, can be daunting. Check that the book has plenty of white space, too, on the pages. If it includes illustrations, maps or diagrams, it's even better as boys are often visual learners. (I know, I know... there are lots of exceptions butdon't take my word for it.)
Be creative in your approach to boys and books
There are creative ways to encourage boys to read more books. First, boys like a role-model so ensure that there are plenty of others, including dad, reading books. Second: try turning reading into an event. Plan an action-filled afternoon. And then, perhaps camp out with toasted marshmallow etc followed by reading a chapter or two from a well-chosen book.
I found it helpful to load up a few bowls with potato chips and snacks and read to my kids, while they enjoyed the snacks.
But make sure you choose a good book.
And a good one to consider isCharge to Glory. It's one of Time Crashers series and it's a choose your own ending. If you're unacquainted with this style of book, it means that, throughout the book, there are pages where the reader must make a choice about how they think the adventure should develop. Depending on their choice, they flip through to a different page for the story to continue. This is great for boys! They are involved in the story development. (It also makes them think that they'll get through the story faster, although I've found that they often go back and choose another ending, too.)
This series involves Ethan Conway and his friends as they travel through time using a time machine to find Ethan's dad who is trapped somewhere in the past. Not only is the plot exciting, but the book includes plenty of other activities to keep the reader focused. The book is filled with exciting illustrations, codes to decipher and puzzles that also encourage the reader to find Bible references and verses. And... the reader gains historical and biblical knowledge and understanding as he works through the consequences of his decisions throughout the book.
So... do you think this book sound exciting enough to hold a reader's attention?
Listen to the introduction to the book and decide yourself!
"Can the boys survive long enough to find Dr Conway? That's in your hands. You are the fourth Time Crasher. If you have the guts, you can join Ethan, Jake, and Spencer as they tumble through the centuries. If you make this trip, you'd better have a quick mind and a brave heart. History is filled with dangers you've never dreamed of. The difference between life and death may depend on a split-second decision. The Time Crashers are counting on you to help make those choices. Will you think things through? Will you follow your feelings? Will you play a hunch? When sabre-toothed tigers are charging or swords are slashing, you'll need every ounce of bravery to choose a path and see it through. It's not too late to turn back!"
TIME CRASHERS: Charge to Glory
One of the Choose Your Own Ending series
Author: Michael Brewer
Publisher: Rose Publishing
(Copy provided for a honest review.)
Read review on GoodReads.
A change of lifestyle can be exciting, but it can also bring adventures, problems and unexpected demands that can stretch you beyond your comfort zone.
That's certainly the scenario presented in 'That's Not Hay in my Hair.'
Yellow taxicabs driven by angry impatient drivers dotted Madison Avenue and the air was filled with a cacophony of blaring horns, shouting pedestrians and the muffled coos of street pigeons."
Jules, her writer mother, and a mixed assortment of pets change the cramped living quarters of a four-room New York apartment, with the accompanying dust, noise and frenetic activity, for a 300-acre ranch in Texas.
It's quite a change in lifestyle for Jules.. exciting, but also a little daunting, especially after a conversation with her school-mates.
What happens if you get bitten by a snake in the middle of the night? I heard you can start having a reaction within thirty minutes."
The challenge of this move increases in difficulty when Jules and her mother realise they will be running the ranch alone.
There's certainly no time to relax.
Jules has plenty to contend with running the ranch and the associated chores, plus an ongoing stream of troubles- snakes, bats, lost and injured animals, caring for cattle and horses, births of longhorn cattle and the difficulties of finding her feet and making new friends at a new school.
The book is written for 8-12 year-olds, and they will probably enjoy the farm life activities and adventures of Jules if they love horses or the outdoors.
But it's slow-moving and the plot is a little thin. The descriptions and expressions were a little trite or cliché. Apparently, it's based on real life experiences but all in all, I struggled to read the book to the end.
I would like to thank ZonderKids- Books for providing me with the opportunity to read, and review,
this book. (Copy provided for honest review through NetGalley.)
That's Not Hay in my Hair
-by Juliette Turner
RRP: $7.05 (Kindle $5.29)
Format: Paperback, Kindle
Key takeaways from this article
‘Beyond the Silence’ by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse
(Plus a Giveaway and Facebook Party)
Far-off screams filled the air and rattled six-year-old Jimmy Colton's bones.
It's a dramatic start to a book filled with questions. In fact, questions flood your thoughts as soon as you begin reading the dramatic opening scene of Beyond the Silence. Who is Jimmy? What pre-empted this situation? More importantly, how does the scene end? And, what's the connection to the rest of the story?
In fact, although initially it may seem unrelated, this opening scene has direct and far-reaching implications. It influences the characters and the course of events through to the escalating drama of the final scenes.
But this story begins to take shape with the introduction of Lillian Porter. Lillian is a young, tenacious woman struggling to throw off the sheltering, but constricting, confines of a wealthy, controlling, grandfather. In her attempt to find a life of purpose and meaning, she accepts the position of nanny for Jimmy Colton. This small boy has recently lost his mother under tragic circumstances which have left him non-verbal.
Although Lillian's entry into the on-going drama of the Colton family comes mid-way in the family's saga, she brings a courageous optimism. The whole homestead, including little Jimmy and Woodward, his overwrought father- still reeling from the tragic death of his wife and the ongoing hostility of the townsfolk, begins to see a glimmer of light... perhaps they can find hope for the future.. maybe they can move forward.
But the danger from the past still lurks in the shadows and even Lillian's bright optimism and faith is tested as they confront the suspicions and personal attack that threatens the family, and their very life and security.
Beyond the Silence is filled with enough action, drama and undercurrents of tension to hold your attention and demand an answer to the growing questions. Will Lillian be able to rescue those she has grown to love deeply and will there ever be peace and acceptance from her failing grandfather who steadfastly refuses to acknowledge her or even read her letters? But the story is more than just drama and tensions. It is also a narrative that is lightened by the interactions between the believable, and sometimes quirky, characters and their roles in the unfolding drama.
I really enjoyed the story and the characters and I'm sure you will, too.
I would like to thank Baker Publishing Group and Litfuse for providing me with the opportunity to read, and review, this book. (Copy provided for personal review through NetGalley.)
BEYOND THE SILENCE
by Tracie Peterson & Kimberley Woodhouse
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Format: Available as paperback or e-book
‘Beyond the Silence’ by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse
(Plus a Giveaway and Facebook Party)
Lillian Porter takes a chance on a new job and a new future . . . but rumors surrounding her job make Lillian begin to wonder if she made the right choice in Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse's Beyond the Silence. There are rumors in town that her new employer, Woodward Colton, caused the death of his wife. This accusation doesn't match the man Lillian comes to know . . . but soon the Colton olive farm is no longer a safe place. Lillian encounters suspicious characters on their land and mysterious damage done to the farm. Will Mrs. Goodman and Jimmy be able to speak what they know in time to save Lillian from tragedy?
Tracie and Kimberley are celebrating the launch of Beyond the Silence with a Loaded Fire Prize Pack giveaway (details below) and an author chat party on February 11!
One grand prize winner will receive:
RSVP today and spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK, TWITTER, or PINTEREST and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 11th!
Key takeaways from this article
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Book review: The Amazing Adventures of Harry Moon- Wand- Paper- Scissors
Since the overwhelming success of the Harry Potter book and movie series, there have been many children's books mimicking a strong emphasis on magic, wizardry and witchcraft. While the fantasy and adventure of these stories has obvious appeal, some parents are naturally concerned about any ongoing mystical focus.
The Amazing Adventures of Harry Moon is not one of those books. In fact, there is a strong thread of faith throughout the stories.
In the town of Sleepy Hollow lives young Harry Moon, a typical boy in most respects, dealing with the typical, and relate-able, problems and concerns of school, friends and family. But Harry is, unfortunately, hair and vertically challenged and he must deal with the ridicule of an aggressive bully named Titus Kligore.
"The worst of it was that Titus was reckless. His hormones were raging. He even had nine chin whiskers when he was in 4th grade. Now, he was wildly out of control. The only thing Titus did have under control was the way he moved. He didn't walk through corridors like other guys- he swaggered."
The book provides many more fun, descriptive passages: 'The shop had cheery, yellow-and-red-striped awnings which shaded two windows. From far away, the awnings looked like eyelids revealing two forbidding eyes. The eyes were unblinking, staring down at Harry as the moved toward the giant face of the magic shop.'
My grandson loved it. "It's cool!.. really fun to read." The fun illustrations are also part of the appeal.
You'll find that Harry is also a budding magician and he decides to enter the middle school Annual Scary Talent Show with the support and assistance of a couple of unlikely friends- a rabbit and his ex-babysitter.
Although magic is often portrayed in other books as the solution to life's problems, Harry's mother (and his rabbit) remind him of the importance of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control. There is no place for vengeance in that magic but there is self-control.
The problems for Harry mount and he must ultimately decide to 'Do No Evil.' True Power only comes from heaven above. He learns that, "You will have a magical life. It will also be a life full of trouble. We are told that. That is why there will always be times for heroes."
Read The Amazing Adventures of Harry Moon: Wand-Paper-Scissors to find our how Harry becomes the hero he was meant to be.
There are more adventures for Harry Moon plus the opportunity to join the Harry Moon Book club and receive regular new books, ebook versions, audio version, a collectible box, posters, backpack, maps and more.
Key takeaways from this article
... 55 heartwarming short stories bring meaning to the Season
Christmas celebrations invariably involve overwhelming preparations, planning and activities. We long to focus on the simplicity of a God-centered holiday season. But instead, this event that happened thousands of years ago, causes us today to focus time and energy on decorating our houses and spending hours at the mall.
The writers of Once Upon a Christmas know the difficulties.
"Bypassing the commercialization of Christmas and the frenetic activities that cling to us isn't easy; it takes a conscious decision to do so. Focusing on Jesus' birth is the beginning of creating a God-centred celebration full of the peace we crave and the joy God meant of us to possess during the season."
Read this book yourself or share it with your family. You'll find the collection of 55 short stories will cause you to shift your perspective and encourage your whole family to celebrate Christmas in a new, joyful way. The co-authors Rosanne Croft, Linda Reinhardt, and Sharon Bernash Smith share stories like The Train Baby, a baby found by two children and hidden from a suspicious Nazi neighbour; simple gifts for a struggling family in Christmas in Pippa Pass, and heartbreak and joy bound up together in a Christmas miracle.
"Each story invites the reader to a place of delight and reverence for our most cherished Christian holiday."
With 55 stories to choose, you'll find something for every day leading up to Christmas and beyond. And the stories are bite-sized so reading one or two a day is relaxing and enjoyable, even if you're busy with Christmas preparations.
If you're looking for a meaningful reminder of the wonder and true meaning of Christmas and the peace it can bring to our lives, then read the stories in Once Upon a Christmas.
I would like to thank Barbour Publishing Inc for providing me with the opportunity to read, and review,
this book. (Copy provided for personal review through NetGalley.)
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