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
A book review from AtGrandmasPlace of Stepping on Cheerios: Finding God in the Chaos and Clutter of Life
I cupped the steaming cup of coffee in my hands listening quietly to my daughter's latest recount of my grandsons and their exploits, and smiled.
"But Mum... I'm saying things to my kids that I could never have imagined would ever come out of my mouth. After all, who else has to tell their boys not to lick the floor? Why do they even do that?"
The painful truth is that family life little resembles the soft, watercolour scenes we often see painted in the movies. It's exhausting, full-on and messy.
It's something that Betsy Snyder shares in her book, Stepping on Cheerios- Finding God in the Chaos and Clutter of Life.
What you can expect in this book
You'll read about the author's experiences as she and her husband raise four small boys- one plus triplets. Betsy deals with 'neon-blue, glitter gel toothpaste smeared into the rug, hieroglyphic pencil marks along the hall and scratched furniture from assorted swords and ninja tools. (And you thought yours was the only home with Ninja warriors!)
You'll also find sane advice and plenty of bandaids, both metaphoric and real. You'll be presented with advice like... 'No-one can do it all', 'Less comparing please', and 'Nurture something with your kids'.. lessons in faith learned through the messiness of family living.
And you'll be reminded that there's something very special about the seemly overwhelming challenges of life with energetic young ones . 'And then God smiles, light breaks and the darkness rolls away, so that God can declare, "That's good!" '
Who will enjoy Stepping on Cheerios?
Do you struggle with the creative chaos of living with energetic little ones? Have you been bruised to the bone by stepping on Lego or maybe even believe the blocks are embedded in your feet? Have you entered your living area to discover metres of dental floss, duct tape and assorted containers assembled for a 'speriment? Yes? Then you'll relate to this book.
Betsy has written in a light, journaling style, noting the fun and messy exploits of her kids as well as the faith lessons she has learned in the process. It's makes the book easy to pick up read without feeling that you're reading out of sequence or context. The lessons are light and easy to live from and learn.
About the author
Betsy Singleton Snyder became a mother later in life, is a pastor and wife to a husband who served in US House of Representatives. She certainly found her life had changed dramatically when she found herself with 4 children, boys, within 21/2 years.
If you'd like to learn a bit more about Betsy and her book Stepping on Cheerios, you can listen to her conversation below where she shares, "What we get is not always what we want, but what we most need, is making it through the hard and fun stuff that happens in our families - that crazy, messy tangled ball of people who are learning to practice forgiveness, grace and love."
Friends with God Story Bible: Why God loves people like me.
Well, yes.... another Bible Story book and I guess you're thinking... 'Hey, I have a Bible Storybook for my kids or grandkids. Why would I need another one?'
So....do your kids need it? This review will help you decide.
5 Simple reasons you need the Friends with God Story Bible- why God loves people like me
When information about another Bible Storybook slid into my Inbox, I wondered whether I needed it, too. After all, three children and eight grandchildren translates into an already bulging bookshelf. Some we've read and enjoyed. Others have well-worn covers, ragged corners and loose pages.
Those are the ones that we've read and re-read over and over. Their vibrant illustrations have grabbed my kids' (and grandkids') attention and excited their imagination. The pages have held stories of a loving God who knows and deeply cares about each one of those young, captured readers. And the words have continued to live in their young hearts and minds. Yes, some of these Bible storybooks have been special.
So, do I (or you) need this new one? I can certainly understand the question.
But then, what if your kids.........
1. ...could actually feel a part of the story?
Friends with God Story Bible is written in the first person. So your kids will hear the story from the protagonist's point of view, with all the emotions that go with that. It's not just a story. It's a recount and it will resonate with your kids in a meaningful way. They will feel connected, involved.
2. ...could hear personal stories of 54+ friends of God?
This isn't just a handful of stories. It's enough for a whole year of exciting reading if you read and learn about one friend of God each week. And extra devotional material is included to help you extend each story beyond the pages of a book.
3. ...could also play Bible games and discover Bible facts
You'll find that this story Bible has an interactive element built in that works in conjunction with an app- IOS or Android. Throughout the Story Bible are special icons- a smiling face. Your kids will have fun finding them, too. Simply download the free app. Then scan the page with the icon. You'll come face to face with friends of God plus unlock interactive games.
4. ...could collect and share digital cards of the Friends of God
Not only does this connected app share more information and games, it enables your kids to win virtual collectible character cards. They'll learn even more entertaining facts about these Bible characters. They'll feel they really know them. And they can even add their own image to create their very own card.
5. ...could grow in their own friendship with God?
They'll hear and share in the amazing stories when God stepped into the picture and everything changed. As they read this book they 'face lions, cross rivers, slay giants and stare into a glittering desert sky, awed by God making impossible promises come true.' And they'll realise that this same God wants to be friends with them, too.
This Friends with God Story Bible is just so much more than just a book of Bible stories. The vibrant illustrations add their own unique quality to the personal stories of these Bible friends. And, you'll discover fun, devotional ideas with real-life activity ideas to connect with family and friends.
You can choose either a hardcover version of the story Bible or download it as a Kindle version.
You can find it here...
A book review of 'The Joy of Letting Go' -Releasing your teen into real life in the big world.
How well prepared are your kids for the journey of life ahead?
As parents, we have become so adept at creating a safe, nurturing environment for our children, whether it's installing the latest, state-of-the-art car seat or stressing the importance of always riding a bike with a helmet to teaching stranger danger, that it's hard to pry our hands from the controls.
How can we learn to let go, bit by bit, in ways that will nurture and encourage our children's development, their confidence and their ability to increasingly stand on their own two feet without fracturing our relationship with them.
Letting go is a process and 'The Joy of Letting Go' shows us in small, manageable ways how we can navigate this process in ways that will enable both you and your child to thrive.
Vicki Caruana is an author of more than 70 articles and 13 books. She is also an experienced teacher, conference speaker, writer's mentor and frequent guest on radio and TV programs discussing education and parenting topics. And.. as a mother, she brings first-hand insights coupled with inspiration that overflows with real stories of families, mothers and kids. Their challenges long the road to mature confidence and independence will resonate with everyone.
More than that, Vicki's practical advice provides practical skills and direction for allowing your kids to move beyond the comfort zone of home and reach for what lies ahead.
Chapters in this easy-to-read book include topics like Telling the truth in love, First job frustrations, What's for dinner, and Milestones or millstones. The 52 short chapters are perfect for bite-sized daily reading. You might prefer to read one chapter per week and each reading's Thought Poke will provide incentive to do more than just read- but think through its application in your own family's life and take action, as well.
You'll read about allowing kids to make their own choices and live with the consequences, encouraging them to problem solve, developing college and career readiness and managing finances.
You will also be challenged yourself to choose words wisely and time-appropriately as you deal with your kids and teens, remembering that your actions speak louder than your words.
Is this a book for parents of teens? Yes.. but it's also a book for anyone with kids of any age. The journey towards independence is gradual and begins right now. Are you ready?
I only wish that this book had been written when my own kids were young. I'm sure these insights and advice would have helped me instigate many small but progressive steps that led my own children to confident independence. It would, I'm sure, have saved a lot of heartache.
Read more from Vicki Caruana
* Read 4-Day Reading Plan
* Vicki's blog- Apples & Chalkdust, where education and parenting collide and coincide
I would like to thank DavidCCook , NetGalley and Litfuse for providing me with the opportunity to read, and review, this book. (Copy provided for personal review through NetGalley.)
The Joy of Letting Go
'Releasing your teen into real life in the big world'
by Vicki Caruana
Publisher: David C Cook
FIND YOUR COPY HERE..
Brave is the new beautiful - a book review
Have you ever wished you were beautiful?
Our culture is so absorbed, even fixated, on the concept of personal perfection- beautiful skin, beautiful face, beautiful body, beautiful appearance and style and poise.
Advertisements and many businesses promote this striving for physical beauty. Fitness trainers, diet and weight-loss programs, skin clinics and plastic surgeons all provide help for those who seek another image than the one that stares back at them each morning from the bathroom mirror.
This book is not about that. It’s not about the idea that beauty is defined by a fit body or gap-spaced thighs. It’s about recognising a new kind of beauty that has nothing to do with sunshine and rainbows, butterflies and flowers. Rather, it’s about recognising that everyone experiences pain and suffering.
‘None of us walks through this life without a story to tell or wounds to be healed. The truth is, life is really tough, and it is full of challenges.’
Many of us are scarred both inside and out. And none of us is perfect. Life isn’t that simple.
“Beauty is the woman who sees her brokenness and acknowledges the scars of life but doesn’t try to cover them up or hide behind them.’
Instead, this book overflows with stories of beautiful women, women who bravely bear the pain and ask the hard questions. And sometimes the questions have no concrete answers.
Lee addresses these questions and more with inspirational stories of women who have bravely stepped beyond their suffering to true beauty.
‘The kind of bravery we’re talking about isn’t the kind that conquers; it’s the kind that submits and relinquishes control to God’ and asks, ‘Am I being true to who God made me to be?’
This is true bravery. This is true beauty.
The recount of each amazing, beautiful woman concludes with reflection questions, questions that challenge and inspire.
It’s a reminder that, more than anything, we need each other. We need to encourage. We need to share. We need to draw close and listen to each other- not because we can fix the problems, but because, in turn, we can be vulnerable. We can be brave and help others see hope. We can look for and see beauty in others. We can cheer others on. And, importantly, we need to remind one another that we can never run out of God’s grace.
Are you fighting a battle? Have you been wounded, scarred?
This book whispers, like a Christopher Robin telling Winnie the Pooh: “There’s something you must remember… you’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
Brave is the new Beautiful is a powerful reminder that ‘when we put a period in our life story and think it’s the end, God puts a semi-colon’.
A Bible that rhymes is fun to read,
"See you later, alligator." My grandson grinned and waved from the car.
I laughed and called back, "In a while, crocodile!"
"Give a hug, ladybug," he replied. I laughed again.
"Good one, Caleb. How about... Out the door, dinosaur."
There's no doubt about it- kids love rhymes. It's not for nothing that, across generations, nursery rhymes have universal appeal.
So, any Bible Storybook for kids that rhymes has instant allure. And this one is no exception.
It's been said that, if you think reading is boring you're doing it wrong. Well, whether you're reading these stories to your kids or your early readers are reading the stories themselves, they're sure to delight.
34 Bible stories from both Old & New Testament
You'll enjoy reading aloud the 34 stories included in The Children's Rhyming Bible: 16 Old Testament stories and 18 stories taken from the New Testament.
From Creation to stories of Paul in the New Testament, these short, easy-to-read stories are biblically accurate and perfect for young children.
The storybook is filled with colourful illustrations, bright language rhythms and age-appropriate vocabulary.
'So Moses led his people out,
Author: Courteney & Janice Emmerson-Hicks
Illustrator: Anna Shutterwood
Publisher: Rose Publishing
(Copy provided for a honest review.)
Everything you wanted to know about making your own natural spa products at home..
Do you know what's the most frustrating aspect of living with Coeliac Disease?
Reading the food labels. No, really.... I mean it! I spend so much time in the food aisles of the supermarket just reading the fine print on labels.
I know that seems really trivial. But I'm sure that anyone with a food intolerance, sensitivity or severe allergic reaction to certain foods will agree, it's crucial to read food labels on products. It's time-consuming, and frustrating. But the result of consuming something containing gluten can be most unpleasant for me. There are many times when a food product will look natural and appetising and often state that it is made from rice or corn. But when I've read the fine print, I've discovered that wheat, or barley or oats, has also been listed as an ingredient.
Now, while I'm very careful about what I eat, what I put into my body, I'm equally careful with the ingredients I use on the outside as well.
And that's why I was really interested to read Botanical Beauty by Aubre Andrus.
After all, have you read the ingredients included in so many of the beauty products on the shelves of supermarkets, pharmacies and even health shops? And, if you have tween and teens, it's an added concern to find natural, healthy alternatives for them to use. This book is written for this younger age-group but I think it would be something you could do together.
This is a recipe book that is filled with recipes to soothe your body on the outside from your head to your toes.
You'll be able to create your own home-made beauty spa products that are as wonderfully relaxing as the bought version on the shelves. Make them for yourself or your teen or, better yet, involve them in making their own beauty products. And... the recipes are all made with natural ingredients.
For Hands & Feet - Body - Face - Hair
As the book states: "It's time to pamper yourself!"
You'll find recipes for products like:
*Minty Homemade Toothpaste *Exfoliating Face Scrub *Foot Soaks for tired toes *Vanilla Honey Shower Scrub.
There's even instructions for making a Shower Pouf and Boho Hair Wrap.
Many recipes use ingredients already in your home.
Your home is probably already stocked with many of the simple ingredients needed such as baking soda, olive oil and vanilla extract.
Other specialty ingredients should be easily found at local stores or online. (I've included some links to online stocks if you can't locate them elsewhere.)
The book contains a full list of ingredients along with the use and benefits of each but check what you'll need for each natural beauty product before you buy anything. Most beauty recipes only use a couple of ingredients so there's no need to buy everything on the list. Only buy the ingredients as, and when, you need them to avoid unnecessary expense.
Essential oils in recipes
Essential oils are also included in many recipes and these can be readily found at health food stores, organic grocery stores pharmacies or online.
Essential oils have become very popular not merely for their wonderful fragrances, but also for aromatherapy and the health benefits for your hair, skin and body. Please take note, though, of the recommended quantities in the recipes. Generally, only a few drops are needed.
Package these spa products as gifts
The book also includes ideas for packaging your products so that you can give others some beautifully presented, and wonderfully natural, products as gifts.
It's helpful, too, that the book lists safe storage suggestions for your ingredients. And... if you or your friends or family have skin sensitivities and allergies, it's always wise to check with your doctor or dermatologist before ensuring any product, whether it's store bought or naturally prepared.
80 essential recipes for natural spa products
Author: Aubre Andrus
Publisher: Switch Press
Publish date: May 1, 2017
Nonfiction: ages 14-18
(Copy provided for a honest review.)
Do you have toddlers, little ones under 5? Do you struggle with sharing the story of God's truth and love with these little ones?
Sure, you can read to them or tell them the stories from the Bible.... and you should. But you know it should be more than that. You know you want to make it real, and regular, and a natural part of life.
(Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deut 11:19)
So.. how do you make it real? How can you share Bible truths in a way that even two and three-year-olds can understand?
The truth is.... you're not the only person concerned about Bible devotions for toddlers. In fact, many parents and grandparents avoid regular family devotion time when their kids are small becuase they just don't know how to do it.
Are you the same?
What if I could tell you how to share Bible truths in such a simple way that even the smallest child will understand?
What if I could show you how you could help kids see God in the small, but important, details of their life?
What if there was a way that you could show your toddlers how God loves them and explain, in real ways, how He cares for them and their troubles?
Easy! It's done for you!
Mary Gross Davis and Rose Publishing have created a series of devotional books for kids of all ages that does all this and more, even for two and three-year-olds.
You'll find 4 parts to each devotion.
1. Each lesson begins with a simple story to read that little ones will enjoy and relate to. It helps them see God as real and personal. Each story is short .... and you'll find it easy to keep the attention of your toddler.
2. There is a simple prayer to encourage your child to talk with God about everything plus a Bible verse.
3. The 'Talk About It' segment provides some simple questions to reinforce understanding and help you child apply the Bible truth to their own life.
4. Last, there are some ideas presented in the 'Try This!' segment. It help you continue to apply the story and Bible truth in a fun way. The suggestion may be to act out something, play a game, look for something special, draw or discuss some aspect of the story.
Take a look at a couple of sample pages below.
I wouldn't like to conclude without mentioning the illustrations by Olga & Aleksey Ivanov. They are lovely- bright and colourful, and they really add interest and appeal to the devotion book.
You'll find God and Me devotional books for Girls and Boys of all ages so check them out.
God and Me! for Little Ones
My First Devotional for Toddler Girls
Author: Mary Gross Davis
Illustrator: Olga & Aleksey Ivanov
Publisher: Rose Publishing
(Copy provided for a honest review.)
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.
Review of: Falling to Pieces- a Shipshewana Amish Mystery by Vannetta Chapman
Do you enjoy quilting or love the intricate piecing and needlework involved in creating an heirloom quilt?
It will come as no surprise that quilting is the connecting thread throughout this Shipshewana Mystery, Falling to Pieces. Threads, needlework scissors, pins and quilting, along with a misty image of a horse-drawn buggy, feature on the book cover. And, too, the setting for the prologue with its first hints of mystery is Daisy's Quilting Shop plus, you'll find a large part of the book and the dramatic closing scenes all occur at the quilting shop.
(Just as an aside, I really like the cover design of this book. I've seen an earlier print edition of this book and much prefer this version of the cover.)
Callie Harper, escaping recent personal tragedy, reluctantly reopens her late aunt Daisy's quilt shop and joins forces with three Amish women, Deborah, Esther and Melinda, to sell their beautiful handcrafted quilts. Mystery deepens with a murder, and the evidence grows and mounts against Callie.
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There are plenty of mysteries, puzzles and lessons throughout but perhaps the greatest for Callie is learning and growing a greater understanding of how God can use pain in our lives.
But Callie is strengthened, encouraged and supported by her new friends. As Deborah Yoder, points out, "Families and friendships are like quilts- each person intricately connected to the other."
Who will enjoy reading this book?
Well, I certainly did. You won't find 'edge-of-your-seat' suspense but if you enjoy a good mystery, you'll find plenty here, as well as the hint of romance. The book is set in Shipshewana and taps into the current popularity of Amish novels for greater appeal. And, Falling to Pieces is the first in a series so, if you enjoy it, you can look forward to more mysteries to follow.
This book also includes a helpful Glossary of some of the Amish words used in the book and an explanation of their meaning and... discussion questions for personal use or book clubs.
Grab yourself a copy or download it, add some atmosphere with a cozy quilt, get comfy and read this first-in-the-series book and see if you can piece together the clues to solve this Amish mystery.
If you enjoy quilting, you'll be pleased to know that the author, Vannetta Chapman, has provided a free companion resource: Amish Quilting.