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Mysteries, polka dots, California Rolls, TJ Maxx, cozy blankets, rainy days and getting the first spoonful of peanut butter out of the jar make me smile. Spiders, rude people, cold fingers and toes, baby leashes, people that don't wrap their packages before going to the Post Office, poison ivy and Math (pretty much all of it) make me want to scream. My perfect day would be spent with my wonderful husband and sweet girls- watching movies in our jammies! Of course, having the movie theater to ourselves would be great, too. Please pass the popcorn and M&M's.:) I am saved by the grace of God. He is my constant companion and hears my every prayer. What a blessing! I'd love to hear from you! Lori at toosillysisters@cox.net

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Pass It On by Jim Burns & Jeremy Lee- What Will Your Family Legacy Be?

My Thoughts:
Pass It On is an amazing book filled with creative Rite of Passage ideas designed to help pass down your faith to your children. I wish I had read this when my children were younger! Broken down by grade they are as follows:

-Kindergarten: An Invitation to Generosity
-First Grade: An invitation to Responsibility
-Second Grade: An Invitation to the Bible
-Third Grade: An Invitation to Rhythm
-Fourth grade: An Invitation to Friendship
-Fifth Grade: An Invitation to Identity
-Sixth Grade: Preparing for Adolescence
-Seventh Grade: The Blessing
-Eighth Grade: Purity Code Weekend
-Ninth Grade: Driving Contracts
-Tenth Grade: Money Matters
-Eleventh Grade: Family Tree
-Twelfth Grade: Manhood/Womanhood Ceremony

I was incredibly impressed with the planning and thought that went into designing these milestone experiences! All the details are in the pages of Pass It On, you only need take the time to read and follow through. 
Each chapter includes 1) The Rite of Passage for that year 2) What You Need to Know about that particular age (Physically, Emotionally and Relationally) 3) Personal Stories and Examples

I was particularly interested in the Ninth Grade chapter on Driving Contracts. It was detailed and thorough and included a sample Driving Contract. It covered what and how to talk to your teen about responsibility and consequences. Excellent! I'll absolutely be using this book in the near future!

Parenting can often be daunting and even intimidating but Pass It On gives you a plan for sharing God with your children. It's a wonderful tool for guiding the direction of your family's legacy. Highly recommend! 

About the book:Pass It On (David C. Cook, September 2015)

Parents often experience a "freak out" moment when they realize their children's view of God will primarily come from what they learn at home.
Most parents spend more time helping their kids succeed at academics or athletics than infusing shared spiritual experiences into the rhythm of everyday family life.

While the idea of strategically passing down our faith can seem intimidating, the annual Rites of Passage Experiences contained in Pass It On make it easy for your family to celebrate milestones from kindergarten through high school graduation. Forever change the direction of your family's spiritual legacy . . . starting now!

Purchase a copy: 
About the authors:

Jim Burns is president of HomeWord and executive director of the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University. He has more than 1.5 million resources in print and a radio broadcast heard on 800 stations a day. Jim resides in Southern California with his wife Cathy and their three daughters.

Connect with Jim onlinewebsiteTwitterFacebook

Jeremy Lee is the founder of ParentMinistry.Net, a subscription-based service for children and youth ministry workers. He was on the writing team for the Simple Truth Bible from Group Publishing and the Ignite Study Bible from Thomas Nelson Publishers. Jeremy lives in Nashville with his wife and children.

Connect with Jeremy online: 
*I was given a copy of this book from Litfuse in exchange for my honest opinion. No other compensation was received.*

Saturday, September 26, 2015

A Wedding at the Orange Blossom Inn by Shelley Shepard Gray

My Thoughts:

A Wedding at the Orange Blossom Inn is book 3 in the Amish Brides of Pinecraft series by Shelley Shepard Gray. It can be delightfully enjoyed alone without having read the first 2 books. The first thing I want to mention is that Shelley Shepard Gray is all heart. I was charmed, not only by the story itself, but by the extra effort she put forth in sharing the town of Pinecraft, Florida (a real place!) with her readers. One of the first things in the book is a quaint little map of Pinecraft that makes you want to climb right into the story....

The main characters are a Emma Keim, a young widow with 3 precious daughters and Jay Hilty, a young widower with 3 handsome sons- sound familiar? ;) Yes, it is a bit like the Brady Bunch but their history is shared with us and we get a peek into their hearts and minds. It's not quite as easy as the Brady Bunch made it out to be. There is also the relationship between young Ben Hilty and his girlfriend, Tricia. Love is in the air but there are obligations and expectations all around and life isn't always easy. A Wedding at the Orange blossom Inn is a sweet story with lots of endearing characters, even Frankie the mischievous beagle!

About the book: 
A Wedding at the Orange Blossom Inn
 (Avon Inspire, September 2015)

A wedding brings together two young widowed parents . . . and gives them a second chance at love.

Emma Keim was heartbroken when her husband, Sanford, passed away, leaving her to raise three young daughters alone. Though several years have passed, her relatives have made it no secret that they expect Emma to remain a widow, mourning Sanford indefinitely. But when she meets Jay Hilty---a handsome widower with three young sons of his own---Emma is delighted to have a new friend who understands her struggles. Still, she is dismayed that her family is so opposed to their friendship---and the idea of it ever becoming anything more. She honors her husband's memory every day, but is she destined to be alone forever?

Emma's gentleness with Jay's boys stirs something in his heart that's been quiet for far too long. But when his oldest son becomes engaged to a local woman, suddenly Jay, Emma, and their children are swept up in wedding preparations. Witnessing his son's joy, Jay wonders if it's time for him to move forward, too, and find happiness again.

Once again, love has come to Pinecraft. But can these two parties of four become a happy, healthy family of eight?

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/1USUEQM
About the author:
Shelley Shepard Gray is a two-time New York Times bestseller, a two-time USA Today bestseller, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time Holt Medallion winner. She lives in Southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town's bike trail.

Find Shelley online: 

*I was given a copy of this book from Litfuse in exchange for my honest opinion. No other compensation was received.*

Friday, September 25, 2015

Gather Around the Amish Table by Lucy Leid- Charming Combination of Recipes & Stories

My Thoughts:

Gather Around the Amish Table is a charming book filled with delicious recipes, delightful, color photography (a *must* in any cookbook) and engaging stories. The recipes are easy to follow, in fact my 12 year old enjoyed making Peanut Butter Granola and the rest of the family was happy to sample it when she was done! :) I personally can't wait to try Elizabeth's Soft Pretzels (they taste like Auntie Anne's Pretzels!). There are a few fun extras "recipes" included in this book: Homemade Baby Wipes and Bird treats are also inside. With the colder weather just around the corner, my girls and I will be busy creating Bird Treats for our feathered friends! Gather Around the Amish Table would make a wonderful birthday or Christmas gift.

(Making Peanut Butter Granola- YUM!)

Incorporate Amish cooking traditions this fall in your kitchen with Lucy Leid’s Gather Around the Amish Table. Straight from Amish kitchens to yours, this cookbook offers favorite family recipes and charming stories from Amish and Mennonite cooks. Gather your family around the table to sample the nourishing fare and trademark charm of the plain people. In the words of one cookbook contributor: “Bake someone happy!”
Get your fall baking underway with an Amish baking basket giveaway from Lucy and MennoMedia!
One grand prize winner will receive:
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on September 29th. The winner will be announced September 30th on the Litfuse blog.
About the book: 
Gather Around the Amish Table
 (MennoMedia, September 2015)

Straight from Amish kitchens to yours, this cookbook offers favorite family recipes and charming stories from Amish and Mennonite cooks.

Bake the pecan rolls that taste best after an ice-skating party, or try the hoagies that a community sold to help an Amish family with hospital bills. Discover the cocoa cupcakes with instructions to "stir by hand" that one young cook took literally, or whip up the whoopie pies that one Amish woman took to market in her horse and buggy.

These cherished recipes speak of comforting traditions, lively communities, and strong Christian faith. Gather your family around the table to sample the nourishing fare and trademark charm of the plain people. In the words of one cookbook contributor: "Bake someone happy!"

Purchase a copy: 
About the author:
Lucy Leid is an Old Order Mennonite wife, mother, and cook in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

*I was given this book by Litfuse in exchange for my honest opinion. No other compensation was received.*

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Only With Blood by Therese Down- A Story of Ireland

My Thoughts:

Only With Blood is riveting and heart breaking. At times the harshness takes your breath away but then tender moments steal in and warm your soul. This incredible story is filled with extraordinary people living life the best that they know how in a country where struggle is an everyday occurrence and dreams are a luxury afforded to very few.

Jack Flynn is 43 years old and to say that his life has been harsh is an understatement. His mother left him at a tender age (never to return) with his abusive father and this harsh reality  left Jack with built up anger and a sour countenance. Suffering terribly with tuberculosis, unanswered questions and guilt from the past, Jack wishes to marry before it's too late. He sets his sites on the beautiful, fiery, 17 year old, Caitlin Spillane. Caitlin's one wish is to go to university but her father has other plans and selfish motives of his own...

Thus begins Only with Blood. Read one page and you won't be able to out this book down! I believe I forgot to mention one other character, the dashing, handsome (and young!) Donal! He also has his eye on the lovely Caitlin. Donal is educated, clever and capable- but sadly, also has ties to the IRA. 

I never knew what was going to happen in this book- and I relished every second of guessing. Texting my 17 year old updates as I read (she was out with a friend) because she also wanted to know what was happening in the story! Survival, secrets, compassion, justice, forgiveness, and history are all here. This isn't a fluffy book. The story is raw and beautiful. The words will stay with you long after you read the last page. Thank you for this masterpiece, Therese Down!

**Read an excerpt here!**

About the Book:

When dying Jack Flynn decides he needs a bride so that he can father a son, his young wife Caitlin proves far more than he intended to buy. 

Jack Flynn, strong and aggressive but slowly dying of tuberculosis on his farm in Tipperary in the Republic of Ireland, decides to acquire--purchase--a young wife who can bear him sons to inherit his family's land. His choice, Caitlin Spillane, is less than half his age, attractive and intelligent, and resents bitterly the obedience that is forced upon her. 

When a young firebrand, a supporter of the IRA, arrives in the village, he and Caitlin are drawn together in their detestation of Flynn. Flynn, traumatized by his own insurgent IRA experiences twenty years earlier, is secretly convinced that Eamonn de Valera's more diplomatic, peaceful approach to Ireland's problems is the only sane one. 

Could Caitlin be won for the cause, and leave her unloved husband? 

A novel set against the struggle for the heart of Ireland in the Second World War, when the IRA notoriously sought assistance from the Nazis, Only with Blood explores flawed characters placed in extraordinary situations. - See more at: http://www.kregel.com/fiction/only-with-blood/#sthash.gDHkO1eX.dpuf

*I was given this incredible book from Kregel in exchange for my honest opinion. No other compensation was received.*

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Captive by Ashley Smith review and giveaway!

The winner is Shaylin!!! Congratulations! Send me your address and I'll get this incredible book in the mail to you! (toosillysisters@cox.net)

My Thoughts:

Captive is the amazing, true story of two broken people- one is a mother (Ashley Smith) drowning in a drug-filled life after the death of her husband, the other is a man (Brian Nichols) on the run after allegedly killing 3 people. They are both born again Christians. Not quite the picture of your typical Sunday school members, right? But you know what, every one of us has struggles, secrets, regrets and sadness in our lives. Every. one. Thank goodness, through God's love, we can have the hope of forgiveness.

Captive is a very easy read. Ashley Smith shares her thoughts and memories with us as she relives the fateful night that Brian Nichols came into her life. Did God send him her way? I believe that He did. She was terrified, and rightfully so, while being held captive in her own home. Guns, pepper spray, utility cords, were all at her captor's disposal. Prayer and the presence of the Lord got her through this horrific ordeal, along with her honesty and frank conversation with Brian Nichols. She connected with him and I believe that God worked through her. The story is compelling, pule pounding and thought provoking. The beauty of the story is how God worked a miracle through two broken people that had almost given up on life.  I highly recommend this book and can't wait to see the movie!

**Would you like to read Captive? I'm giving away a copy of the book to one lucky reader! (Thanks, Propellor!) Leave a comment on this post and I'll randomly choose a winner on September 23rd!**
CAPTIVE, based on a miraculous true story that drew the attention of the entire nation, is a thrilling drama about the spiritual collision of two broken lives. When Brian Nichols - on the run as the subject of a city wide manhunt and desperate to make contact with his newborn son - takes recovering meth addict Ashley Smith hostage in her own apartment, she turns for guidance to Rick Warren’s best-selling inspirational book, The Purpose Driven Life. While reading aloud, Ashley and her would-be killer each face crossroads where despair and death intersect hope.  

The movie stars David Oyelowo, who played Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the recent film, Selma.
Click HERE for a special greeting from David Oyelowo.

Paperback; 272 pages 


AUDIO BOOK BYTE  (Audio excerpt from the audiobook format of CAPTIVE (chapter 1), read by the author, Ashley Smith.) 

*I was given this incredible book by FlyBy/Propellor Promotions in exchange for my honest opinion. No other compensation was received. * 

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Biggest Story review and Giveaway!

The WINNER is Rebecca!!! Congratulations, Rebecca!!!

My Thoughts:

Kevin DeYoung and Don Clark have created an impressively written and visually remarkable journey through the Bible! The Biggest Story begins in the Garden of Even and goes alllllll the way to the Resurrection of Jesus. There are 111 pages and 10 short chapters- perfect for the wiggliest of little ones yet filled with easy to understand truth. There will be giggles and plenty of oohs and ahhs as you read this as a family, to your Sunday school class or alone with a cup of coffee as I did- the first time. I couldn't wait to share it with the little sweet peas at church!

The Biggest Story would be make a delightful gift, especially with Christmas just around the corner. It's engaging to listen to, easy to read and absolutely thrilling to look through!

Would you like a chance to WIN a copy of The Biggest Story??!! Comment on this post and I'll randomly select a winner on September 18th!! Good Luck!
About the book:
Hardcover: 132 pages
Publisher: Crossway (August 31, 2015)

In The Biggest Story, Kevin DeYoung - a best-selling author and father of six - leads kids and parents alike on an exciting journey through the Bible, connecting the dots from the garden of Eden to Christ's death on the cross to the new heaven and new earth.  With powerful illustrations by award-winning artist Don Clark, this imaginative retelling of the Bible's core message-how the Snake Crusher brings us back to the garden-will draw children into the biblical story, teaching them that God's promises are even bigger and better than we think.  

About Kevin DeYoung:
Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan.  He blogs at the Gospel Coalition and has authored or coauthored numerous well-known books, including Just Do SomethingThe Hole in Our HolinessCrazy Busy, and Taking God At His Word.  He lives with his wife and their 6 children in Central Michigan. 

About Don Clark:
Don Clark is an artist and the cofounder of Invisible Creature, a widely respected and award-winning design studio in Seattle that has worked with clients such as Target, Nike, LEGO, and WIRED magazine.  He lives with his wife and their 3 children, 4 goats, 12 chickens, and 1 crazy dog on a farm just outside the city limits. 


S O C I A L • C O R N E R

*I was given a copy of this book by FlyBy Promotions in exchange for my honest opinion. No other compensation was received.* 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Curiosity Keeper by Sarah E. Ladd

My Thoughts:

The Curiosity Keeper grabbed my attention immediately as I was thrown into the mystery of a missing ruby. The story grew even more interesting as the main characters came on the scene. Camille, a beautiful shopkeeper who soon discovers she's in danger and James, a handsome young apothecary who comes to her aid. Both are from different classes yet the elusive Bevoy (the ruby) brings them together. 

The Curiosity Keeper is lavishly written. Sarah E. Ladd really makes you feel like you're a part of the story with her incredible imagery and the beautifully described inner thoughts of her characters. Camille and James are a joy to follow as they endeavor to make their dreams a reality. Camille wishes to begin a new life after discovering shocking news about her father and James longs to gain the approval of his father and also live the life that he has chosen for himself. 

Much of the book was entertaining, albeit predictable, until the very end. The author has a wonderful twist there which was quite unexpected. Bravo! The mystery of the Bevoy ruby isn't much of a mystery, but you'll be anxious to read the story to follow the love story of Camille and James. They are delightful together! James' father was my favorite character because, despite his gruff behavior, he has a lot of depth and passion. He transforms through the story so be sure to read to the end. All in all a wonderful book!

Book Description

Born into two different classes, James and Camille shouldn't even know each other. But when the pursuit of a missing ruby brings them together, much more than a mere acquaintance is ignited.
The daughter of a curiosity shop owner, Camille would never be considered a lady. Nor does she want to be. With a fiery personality, she dreams of adventures far beyond the walls of her family's modest business. But when her father thrusts a mysterious box into her hands and disappears, her whole world-dreams and all-shifts.
James is an apothecary, tending to the health needs of the town of Bentworth. His father, a well-known explorer and collector, is quite wealthy from the spoils of his adventures until one risky gamble and a stolen gem leave him on the edge of ruin. Seeking his father's approval, James picks up the hunt for the stolen ruby, leading him to the door of Camille's curiosity shop.
With both of their lives in danger as the ruby remains at large, James squires Camille away to the Bentworth School, believing that would be the last place her pursuers would look for her. They both find their hearts and dreams heading in a new direction, but before they are free to embrace their future they must solve the mystery looming around them. The more they uncover, however, the harder it becomes to know whom to trust. And they begin to realize that recovering the ruby may require a great sacrifice: their newfound love and maybe even their lives.
About the Author
Sarah E. Ladd received the 2011 Genesis Award in historical romance for The Heiress of Winterwood. She is a graduate of Ball State University and has more than ten years of marketing experience. Sarah lives in Indiana with her amazing husband, sweet daughter, and spunky Golden Retriever. Facebook: SarahLaddAuthor Twitter: @SarahLaddAuthor
*I was given this book by BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest opinion. No there compensation was received.*