Book Review: The Gift

The-GiftToday I’d like to tell you about this charming Christmas story.

The Gift by Shelley Shepard Gray

(Shelley is another author that I had the privilege of meeting in August. I’ve read some of her other historical fiction books, and when I saw the chance to review this one, I took it!)

She has written many suspense stories. I love Christian suspense. This one is a bit different than most I’ve read in that it is also an Amish story. It is the third book in a series, but can also be read as a stand-alone (what I did).

I have to be honest here. My one drawback for reading this book is that it is an Amish story. This is not my preferred genre. If you know me personally, you already know that I am a Mennonite, (or our specific denomination can be further classified as “Amish Mennonite”.) This means that although I did not, strictly speaking,  grow up Amish, (I have been asked quite frequently though, when I’m out shopping, if I’m Amish)I do come from an Amish heritage, and understand a bit better than the general population what the Amish are really like. Mostly, I don’t really care for Amish stories because they are not realistic or true to life. Maybe some other time I’ll do a post about this, or tell you more about my own growing up years.

Today, I’m doing a book review about The Gift, so I’ll move on with that! 🙂 I wanted to read this book because I’ve read & enjoyed other books by this author!

The Gift is an Amish Christmas novel that contains life, love & intrigue. Shelley Shepard Gray is a talented author, and this book does not disappoint. The suspense starts right from the very first chapter, Susanna Schwartz & her family are in the middle of something—is it danger? Or are they simply the target of angry neighbors?! At first it seems as though the former owners of their farm are trying to get even at them for buying their home away from them. Then Susanna meets their son Neil, and they become friends. They work together to try & solve the mystery.
Cozy, heartwarming, homey, & yet suspenseful, all in one book, it’s an excellent combination!  Forgiveness, being neighborly, a bit of romance, and more are found in this story.

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

The Gift: The Amish of Hart County

A special Christmas story about love and blessings in the next book in the Amish of Hart County series

The Schwartz family is happy to be spending Christmas on their new farm in Hart County. But when Susanna Schwartz hears gunshots that causes her buggy to overturn, and then her little sister falls through a wooden bridge into the icy creek, it becomes clear from these dangerous “accidents” that someone wants them gone.

Neil Vance has been heartbroken ever since his parents lost their family farm. He knows it’s not the Schwartz family’s fault, but he can’t help but be resentful. Until he meets Susanna. She is kind-hearted and bold, and Neil can’t stop thinking about her pretty green eyes.

Neil thinks the accidents are just that, but Susanna’s father is convinced the Vance family is responsible. Susanna refuses to believe Neil would do anything to harm her. She’s fallen in love with him and knows he is a good man. But her family is ready to pack up and move, and time is running out to uncover the truth before someone gets hurt . . . or worse.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shelley Shepard Gray is a “New York Times” and “USA Today” bestselling author, 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 out more about Shelley at http://www.shelleyshepardgray.com.SGray-342

Visit this page to enter a giveaway to win a copy of this book

 

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Book Review–Out of the Ordinary

out-of-the-ordinary-FB-Banner-copySo today I’m doing a review/book blog tour for Out of the Ordinary by Jen Turano.

Back in August, my oldest daughter N & I had the wonderful privilege of meeting this charming author. It was at the CFRR (Christian Fiction Readers’ Retreat–I had an earlier post explaining about this in great detail). We had been told to move to a new area to participate in a planned activity, and were attempting to find seats. As I sat down, the lady sitting in the chair beside my hoped-for seat looked over and said “Hi”. I looked at her, smiled, then glanced at her name tag and did a double take. I tried to keep my voice under control, and said “Hi” back to her. Then I turned the other way and whispered to N “Hey!!! Do you know who is sitting on the other side of me?! It’s Jen Turano—she’s the author of those books that you said you really like!” After a bit, I told Jen that my daughter loves her books, as do I. We kept chatting throughout the morning. She gave us some autographed bookmarks, told us about her books, and it was great. I felt like I had known her for awhile already, like she wasn’t a ‘new person’ to us. She was friendly, and fun. A person to share jokes with.

Oh. But this review is not about Jen Turano, is it. Sorry! I still get a bit carried away when I think of the fact that I got to sit with her for most of a day!

This book. Out of the Ordinary. The title fits it so well. It has fun, out of the ordinary characters. Gertrude, in spite of living in the day & age when young ladies were expected to do everything a particular way, she did her own thing.

She works for a quirky, eccentric older lady, Mrs. Davenport, as a paid companion. She finds herself in all kinds of unusual circumstances.

Like the time when her peculiar bustle, created by Mrs. Davenport herself, out of a large bird cage, comes apart, and she gets caught on a fainting couch in the library (I think) of the Sinclair yacht.

Her good friend Harrison Sinclair. The catch of the year, or decade. Some people keep making hints to one or the other of them that they should get married. But each one persists in continuing in the belief that the other would never dream of such a thing. And the insist they are only friends.

Unpredictable, fun, intriguing, and delightful are only a few of the words I’d use to describe this book.

This book is a wonderful way to pass an hour or two…or more, during these fall days. It’s light-hearted and fun, and will not disappoint!

Oh. and here is where I need to make a confession…I haven’t quite finished it yet. sigh. Yes, when I applied to do this book tour I signed up to receive a paperback copy. As I waited for it’s arrival, I was also given an e-version. So I was working on that. And like I’ve mentioned before, it’s so much harder for me to get through a book that way….I kept hoping my paperback would arrive. It came yesterday! Now the thing about book tours is that when you sign up to participate, you are assigned a date to do your blog post. And my date for this particular one is today.

I do plan to finish this book today…but I wanted to go ahead and post my review sooner rather than later…

And my daughter has informed me several times that she will be more than happy to take this book off my hands and in to her own, as soon as I’m done reading it! 🙂

(BTW–make sure and keep reading to end of this post–there is a giveaway involved, hosted by Bethany House)

About the Book

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Name of book: Out of the Ordinary

Author: Jen Turano

Genre: Christian historical

Release Date: November 7, 2017

”With all the charm of a Regency romance, the humor of a drawing room farce, and the swoonworthy delight of a fairy tale, Turano’s first Apart from the Crowd historical absolutely sparkles.”–Publishers Weekly on Behind the Scenes

Working as a paid companion may be quite commonplace, but Miss Gertrude Cadwalader’s eccentric employer makes her job unpredictable, to say the least. She finds herself carrying out an array of highly unusual tasks, including wearing peculiar outfits and returning items the woman pilfered. But when the wealthy Mrs. Sinclair catches Gertrude sneaking around the Sinclair yacht with some of the missing items in her possession, she immediately jumps to the wrong conclusion.

Shipping magnate Harrison Sinclair is caught in the middle of a misunderstanding between his mother and Gertrude, but he can’t help coming to his friend’s defense. Even as he hopes their friendship might become something more, Harrison is unprepared for the outlandish escapades that seem to follow the lovely, anything-but-ordinary Gertrude at every turn.

“The second installment of Turano’s Apart from the Crowd series is laugh-out-loud enjoyable. The foibles of the characters, balanced out with a light-hearted yet meaningful love story, is a true treat. . . . All of the threads are tied together in the end, even the small mysteries and side stories. It makes for a very satisfying read when the last page is turned.”–RT Book Reviews

Click here to purchase your copy!

About the Author

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Jen Turano, author of nine books and two novellas, is a graduate of the University of Akron with a degree in clothing and textiles. She is a member of ACFW and lives in a suburb of Denver, Colorado. Visit her website at http://www.jenturano.com.

Q & A with Jen Turano

What Readers Want to Know from Jen

Hey Everyone! Thank you so much for stopping by today. Because I’m in the midst of a first draft, and in case you don’t know, I don’t actually care for first drafts – all those pesky blank pages, but…I’m getting off track…where was I? Oh yes, why I brought up first drafts in the first place. You see, I’m a little scattered when I’m doing a draft, and because of that, and because my mind is a scary place to visit while filling up those already-mentioned blank pages, I was having a tough time coming up with a post for Celebrate Lit. That’s why I reached out to my fabulous readers, and…here are some of the questions their inquiring minds wanted to know about me or my books. I hope you enjoy them!

Why write in the Gilded Age?

When I started writing historical romance after experimenting with other genres, I didn’t write Gilded age but Regency pieces. However, when I ran across the book “The Court of Mrs. Astor in Gilded Age New York” by Greg King, I was intrigued, and a little baffled about how it came to be that I was so unfamiliar with that riveting time in history. It’s an era where unprecedented fortunes were made at a remarkable rate, those fortunes responsible for so many scandals that I’ll have enough fodder for stories to last me for years. The antics of the members of high society are vastly intriguing, as are the fashions of the day, which is exactly why I’ve never had second thoughts about choosing to write Gilded Age romances.

How do you come up with such unusual names for your characters?

I get asked this a lot. And, contrary to popular belief, I don’t make up the names of my characters. I search through obituaries from the 1800’s, peruse books on the New York Four-Hundred (those were members of high society – chosen by Mr. Ward McAllister, the social arbiter of the day,) and I also scour old census records. I do occasionally pair a first name with a different surname so that my main characters aren’t real historic figures because that can get tricky. Not long ago, while reading through Memoirs of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania: Person and Genealogical, Volume 1, I found a bit on my great-grandfather, which was cool – not that I’ll be using him, but I might have a character modeled after him at some point in time. Another interesting tidbit about choosing names is this – names only work for me if the characters decide they like the names I select for them. If they don’t like the name, they simply stop cooperating. I can’t write their stories until I choose another name. An example – I was recently going to name a heroine Georgianna – but it was like trying to write through mud. As soon as I changed her name to Myrtle, I was back in business.

What is the most ordinary thing you enjoy doing?

I love to shovel snow.

Who is responsible for your book covers? Do you choose the model/setting?

Bethany House’s design team does all of my covers, and occasionally they hire out the job to other design houses. The only input I give is when I send in a character/setting sheet, describing my heroine and listing a few scenes that I feel might be good for the background. In “Out of the Ordinary,” I suggested having Gertrude on or near a boat, and the design team then hired a model who resembled my character sketch and put her on a boat.

Which character has been the most difficult to write?

All of my characters give me trouble at some point in time, but recently, Mrs. Davenport was the character who was being incredibly difficult. For the first three edits of “Out of the Ordinary,” she was too complicated and a bit on the dark side, but after I changed her backstory, and remembered she was supposed to be eccentric, not deranged, she turned into a delightful lady, one I enjoyed writing.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever Googled while doing research for a book?

I don’t know if this is crazy, more on the lines of idiotic, but I once googled Gentleman’s Clubs when I was looking for an all-male club my hero would want to join. That was a definite mistake, especially since I didn’t include a very important word – historic. Well, the next thing you know, all sorts of naughty sites were flashing in front of my eyes, and to this day, I still get advertisements for singles looking for a good time and all sorts of other interesting…offers.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Nope, it never entered my head to pursue a career in writing, nor was I ever a person to even keep a diary or a journal. I’m pretty sure I wanted to be a movie star when I was younger, but when that didn’t pan out, I majored in fashion and spent quite a few years working for department stores. It wasn’t until my son was in third grade and we wrote a book together just for fun that I began entertaining the thought of trying to see my stories in print.

How long did it take you to break into the publishing world, and how many books did you write before that happened?

What everyone needs to understand is that publishing is a cut-throat business. I had no idea when I decided to try and get published what the competition was like, and if I had, well, I might have nipped the whole idea of getting a book into print right in the bud. But, because I knew I only wanted to go the traditional route, it soon became clear, what with all the suggestions I was getting about the work I was sending out to agents, that I needed to up my game…a lot. I experimented with quite a few different genres – middle grade, YA, contemporary women’s fiction, Regency romance, and then Gilded Age, getting really proficient with query letters in the process. It wasn’t until I started writing historical romance, though, that I really began getting requests for full manuscript. After I’d been writing for about three years, I finally signed with an agent. She never sold the book she signed on to represent, but after I wrote “A Change of Fortune,” she sold that within two months. Long story short – it took me about seven years to get published from the time I wrote my first book, and…I have seven manuscripts that will never see the light of day because they’re awful.

Is there a reason you include so many animals in your stories?

I’ve always been an animal lover, and as such, I really enjoy writing different animals into my scenes. Dogs are my favorites, followed by pigs, and most of the characteristics my animals have are traits I’ve seen in real life. Matilda, the pig in “A Match of Wits,” was inspired by a pig I used to see in New York. She was so quirky, as well as intelligent, that I knew I would have to write a pig in at least one of my stories. This current series does not have as many animals because I do want to keep my stories fresh. But, having said that, my next series finds my heroine visiting a farm, and well, I don’t know many farms that don’t have animals, especially adorable cows by the name of Buttercup that may or may not have the odd tendency of moseying into the house to eat pie whenever the urge strikes.

Last question – Have any of the crazy antics in your books been inspired by real-life events???

I seem to be a magnet for weird things happening, so…yes, quite a few of those antics were inspired by real life events. I’ll share just one since I do need to get back to that first draft. I live near Denver, and when my son was little, we used to visit the Denver Zoo. That zoo just happens to have a very large flock of peacocks – peacocks that took one look at me one day – and I must add that I wasn’t doing anything except pulling my son in a wagon, and the next thing I knew, I was being chased through the zoo by what seemed to me to be the entire flock of peacocks – all seemingly intent on trying to murder me. Funny how fast a mom can run while pulling a wagon when in fear for her life. My son thought it was fabulous fun, and bless those members of the staff who came to my rescue. They were almost successful in not laughing, and…I received a free lunch after the dastardly peacocks were chased away. That event is what inspired me to write a mad flock of peacocks in “In Good Company.”

Thank you so much for visiting me today. Hope I answered a few questions you may have about me!

All the best,

~ Jen ~

Blog Stops

Blog Stops

Vicky sluiter, November 11

Bookworm Mama, November 11

cherylbbookblog, November 11

Book by Book, November 11

Lane Hill House, November 12

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, November 12

C Jane Read, November 12

The Power of Words, November 12

Smiling Book Reviews, November 13

Moments Dipped in Ink, November 13

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, November 13

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 14

Faithfully Bookish, November 14

Bigreadersite, November 14

Mommynificent, November 14

All 4 and About Books, November 14

Just the Write Escape, November 15

allofakindmom, November 15

Reflections From My Bookshelves, November 15

Pause for Tales, November 16

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, November 16

A Baker’s Perspective, November 16

To Everything A Season, November 16

Neverending Stories, November 17

Have A Wonderful Day, November 17

Christian Bookaholic, November 17

A Reader’s Brain, November 18

Karen Sue Hadley, November 18

The April Journal, November 18

Cafinated Reads, November 18

Bibliophile Reviews, November 19

Blogging With Carol, November 19

Mary Hake, November 19

Southern Gal Loves to Read, November 19

Baker Kella, November 20

Rachel’s Back Talk, November 20

Texas Book-aholic, November 20

Joy of Reading, November 21

Blossoms and Blessings, November 21

Remembrancy, November 21

The Fizzy Pop Collection, November 22

Splashes of Joy, November 22

The Important Things in Life: God, Books, & Chocolate, November 22

amandainpa, November 22

Inspiration Clothesline, November 23

Stories Where Hope and Quirky Meet, November 23

A Greater Yes, November 23

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 23

Radiant Light, November 24

Fiction, Faith, and Fun, November 24

Raining Butterfy Kisses, November 24


Giveaway

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To celebrate the tour, Bethany House is giving away a grand prize of Two Jen Turano Novels and a $20 Starbucks Gift Card!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/4664b04914/

 

And we have a winner!

The winner of this giveaway for an autographed copy of Fragrant Whiffs of Joy

is

Karen H

 

I am waiting for the winner to contact me.

If by chance I do not hear back from her, say in the next few days, I will draw another name.

 

Also, about the stencil giveaway. A winner was chosen, and has been contacted, but I have yet to get a reply. If I don’t hear back from her by tomorrow, I will probably be drawing another name.

A big thank you to each one that took the time to comment. I was a bit overwhelmed at the sheer number of visitors this site has had in the past week! It’s downright terrifying for an introvert like me! 😉 I’d rather hide here in my little blog corner and post things that a few people may or may not read….

Book review to be posted in just a few hours…all these book tours I’ve signed up for…now I have one book I must post about today, and then another for tomorrow! Stay tuned! 🙂

NEW book giveaway!

Today I have the privilege of introducing you to a delightful new book, just released, by Dorcas Smucker! This book is a compilation of essays she wrote for her column in her local newspaper.

Back cover: When you’re responsible for a large, hungry, and ever-changing household that includes young adult children and their friends, elderly parents, and too many cats, it can all feel overwhelming. In these essays, Dorcas Smucker looks for, and finds, the joy hidden in everyday work and the blessings found when you embrace the life that showed up when you weren’t looking. Fragrant-Whiffs-COVER-only

The title “Fragrant Whiffs of Joy” is spot-on! Words that come to mind as I read this book—charming, refreshing, delightful, down-to-earth. Dorcas gives us many glimpses into her life as the wife of a Mennonite pastor. She offers bits & pieces of wisdom she’s gleaned over the years as they’ve raised their six children. She shows how to find blessings in the small things in life.

I am thoroughly enjoying my reading of this book! (I’m not quite through it yet) I had received a copy via email about a month ago, and started reading it that way. However, that is not my favorite way of reading a book, and I find it much harder to get through a book when I’m swiping pages on my kindle app on my iphone. Then when Dorcas said that she’d mailed out the paperback copies, I emailed her to see if it would be ok for me to wait & do this blog once I had her books in my hand. So we decided on a later date. Wouldn’t you know it, they arrived Wednesday! Shipped all the way from Oregon to central Ohio in two days!

And yes, you might have noticed that I said THEY…she so very generously shipped me not one, but THREE copies!! Which has added to my excitement! I get to keep one and read it. I have one to give to a friend that I think would enjoy it. And I have one more to give away here!! And…they are all autographed!

Have you had the privilege of speaking with Dorcas? I’ve never met her in person, but I have had the privilege of hearing her speak…last year, I think it was, she was a key-note speaker at a ladies’ retreat weekend, and I listened to all of her talks. I was so encouraged and challenged. I love how she lets God use her life to help others draw closer to Him.

Taken from the back cover: Dorcas Smucker is a Mennonite pastor’s wife and a mother of six who lives in a farmhouse in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. She has written a newspaper column for 17 years and is the author of six books.

I’d like to leave you with a few thoughts from this book, thoughts that I want to ponder on…

From a chapter on a day of rest: “Faith will always be both solid in its source and fluid in its application. We will always be adjusting for balance, and there will always be tension between individual and community priorities, between valuable old ways, and equally valid new ones, and between freedom and duty.”

From one on mothering: “We are not all called to be mothers, but we can all choose that essential selflessness of motherhood: the giving, the self-forgetful investing of our lives in others.  The maturity this choice requires reconciles us to the truth that much of our sacrifice won’t be appreciated until long after we’re gone. But after we’ve received that kind of loving involvement ourselves, we realize how immeasurably it mattered, and we are honored to pass it on.”

She writes about finding joy in a journey full of surprises. About finding peace amid a storm. About family. And friends. About life and living it to the fullest.  And love. And most importantly, of course, of following Jesus.

I’d love to send you an autographed paperback copy of this fragrantly delightful new book. Take a minute and sign up via the giveaway below.

If you’d like to order the book, contact Dorcas Smucker at 31148 Substation Drive, Harrisburg, OR 97446. Books are $12 each plus $2 postage. Checks or PayPal accepted. (dorcassmucker@gmail.com)

This book is now also available for purchase on Amazon!

She also has a blog that I enjoy reading, visit her at Life In the Shoe

Enter the Giveaway Here!

Edited to add: There have been some issues with this giveaway link. I thought I’d try doing it the professional way and use rafflecopter. There is the very real possibility that I might not have it linked  properly or something. When I go to do the drawing for the giveaway, I will include the name of everyone who left a comment on this blog post, as well as everyone who entered through the rafflecopter link. (if you did both, it will still only count as one entry) So…if you haven’t yet, PLEASE do enter the giveway!! 🙂

This giveaway is open through November 14th (closes at midnight)

Thanks for your patience as I try to make this work!

Cover Reveal

Good morning! First thing, this morning, I am showing you a brand new book! (I signed up to do a cover reveal) This is not the post I was referring to yesterday, I will be posting about my new giveaway later on today, but wanted to get this one posted before I forget.

I have not read this book personally (this IS a cover reveal!), so I cannot offer any personal opinions or reviews regarding it today. However, if you enjoy contemporary Christian fiction, you just might enjoy this!

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She renovates old houses. Can he restore her heart? Deidre McIntyre didn’t exactly purchase the gorgeous old home in the Shenandoah Mountains on a whim. The building had seen better days, but she had the skills—and the time—to fix it up. And maybe it would provide the fresh start she was looking for. Local handyman Jeremiah Crawford has a soft spot for Peacock Hill. When someone from out of town purchases it, he swings by to offer to help fix it up…and investigate the new owner’s plans for the property. The pixie-like Deidre isn’t at all what he expects, but he’s happy to hang around and enjoy the view. When Deidre’s ex-boyfriend, a popular TV house flipper, shows up demanding a piece of the action, Jeremiah must decide if Deidre—and Peacock Hill—are worth fighting for. Falling in love wasn’t on the blueprints, but it might just be worth the change in plans.

Pre-order the book HERE.

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Elizabeth Maddrey

Elizabeth Maddrey is a semi-reformed computer geek and homeschooling mother of two who lives in the suburbs of Washington D.C. When she isn’t writing, Elizabeth is a voracious consumer of books. She loves to write about Christians who struggle through their lives, dealing with sin and receiving God’s grace on their way to their own romantic happily ever after.

GOODREADS | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | INSTAGRAMWEBSITE

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  1. Peacock Hill is based loosely on Swannanoa Palace, which is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwestern VA
    2. I love to watch home remodeling shows and one of my favorites is Nicole Curtis and her show Rehab Addict. She’s, loosely, the physical basis for Deidre McIntyre.
    3. Swannanoa has swans all through the mansion. I don’t really like swans, so I changed them to peacocks.
    4. Jeremiah runs Bullfrog Home Services — that song was stuck in my head for the entire time I was writing the book.
    5. Jeremiah makes killer nachos. This is, to me, a very important trait in a man. Nachos are an important part of life.
    6. I visited Swannanoa with my sister over the summer (they open for tours periodically on summer weekends.) I expected it to be cooler and drier since it’s in the mountains, but it was still hot and muggy. For a place constructed to be a summer retreat, I was a little disappointed.
    7. The mansion is filled with gorgeous wood — from parquet floors to intricately carved paneling. I tried to incorporate a lot of that (and the tromp l’oeil paintings) in the descriptions.
    8. Swannanoa has a terracotta tile roof. I changed it to cedar shakes for Peacock Hill because I really wanted Deidre to have to replace the roof, not just a few broken tiles here or there.
    9. I’ve actually hiked to the waterfall Jeremiah and Deidre hike to — it’s not the most amazing waterfall I’ve been to, but it’s a nice hike all the same.
    10. When I started the book, I’d planned to have Deidre fall in love with a man who didn’t know one end of a hammer from the other. Then Jeremiah walked onto the page in chapter 1 and that idea flew out the window.7HeartRestored_FC_NS_A
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    Enter the giveaway HERE.

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    allofakindmom
    Baker Kella​
    Blossoms and Blessings
    Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen
    Faithfully Bookish ​
    Heidi Reads…​
    Mindy Houng
    Remembrancy
    Singing Librarian Books
    Wishful Endings

    cropped-rsz_1rsz_1rsz_2slbt_reviewer_blogger_button

Books and more books…

I wanted to share this picture. This is what I’m dealing with right now…all these books!! 🙂 This is the books I’ve received for free this year…from authors…I didn’t really realize the extent of it until I began stacking them together. Most of these are ones that I got in exchange for doing an honest review. After I snapped the picture, I realized that I happened to include a few that I received through giveaways. I also realized that I didn’t get quite all of them included. And of course there are also a few others that I’ve already given away through this blog.

I’m realizing that I have to use more care in what I all I sign up for–I have quickly allowed myself to get sucked in to this wonderful ‘job’ of writing reviews so that I can have the privilege of reading more wonderful books! I find myself almost addicted to this. 😦 Even though I love to read, I am discovering there is a limit…as much as I’d like to read for a full-time job (and I’m convinced the possibility is very real!! 🙂 ), real life keeps going on. I have other work, other projects that cannot wait. Not the least is 7 dresses that need to be sewn in the next month. 🙂 I keep going by doing one day at a time. And reading snippets here and there as I find time. (I’m blessed that I’ve been gifted the ability to read a book quickly…)001

 

Because of this stack of books, I will be doing a few more  posts about books in the near future. 😉 I can’t wait to tell you about them! We are so blessed to live in an age when so many people are using their talents in this way, sharing their mastery of words with us. The world of Christian books–both fiction and nonfiction–is overflowing with many great books to be read!!

Tomorrow I will be sharing about a book that has been so…charming..refreshing…fragrantly joyful…and yes, there WILL be a book giveaway!! 🙂

 

And…a reminder…we still have the stencil giveaway open through this evening! comment on this blog post to be entered.

 

Halloween-yes or no?!

Do you celebrate Halloween?

In our home, we’ve been having discussions about this topic numerous times over the past several weeks. We’ve never ‘celebrated’ it as such. But the older I get, the more I see wisdom in just staying away from it.

I was out and about today, getting groceries, shopping, etc., and was asked a few different times if I’m doing anything for Halloween. I usually err on the side of shyness, and not wanting to force my beliefs on anyone. I didn’t take the time to tell anyone I talked to about my beliefs. Which is one reason I felt prompted to share here.

As a child, I was taught very little about Halloween. I remember making a costume that I wore to a party when I was in kindergarten (attending public school). Because we lived in town, I remember trick-or-treaters coming to our front door. Some years, we’d have candy on hand to pass out to them, other years we’d keep that front light off. I do remember that one time I was so horribly frightened by a person with a grotesque mask that I ran crying to another room.

Now, I think there is a lot more teaching available, and because of the internet, it is a lot easier to do research on topics. Doing any studying at all on the subject of Halloween helped me to quickly realize that this is NOT something I want to be involved in, or have our kids involved in, at all.

 

Yes, I think it can be done in an innocent manner, strictly for fun. I mean, really…is there a harm in dressing up in a fun costume?! But WHY do it on Halloween?

I was directed to this article through a link shared on facebook. If you have a minute, take the time to read it–I think there are a lot of good points shared here. I’m not sharing this to start a debate, I realize there are many varied opinions on this subject, and we’re all in different places in life. If you have questions, I think a good answer is  “to search the Scriptures” or discuss it with someone you trust. May God bless you as you live for Him today!

 

 

And another giveaway!

Edited to add: This giveaway closed on November 10. The winner has been notified. Thank you for your participation.

 

Yes! I’m doing another giveaway–this time it’s along a completely different line.

This is what I’ve been staying busy with the past few weeks–my stencil business! (I don’t intend to make this blog a place to advertise, I don’t really want this to be about our stencils…but I decided to make an exception and do a giveaway.) This stencil company is a small business, something that I can do from home, stuff the girls can also help with, which I love…and I hope to eventually be able to turn it over to them.

Our stencils are designs that have been in use for many years. (I, personally have been doing them for just over two years now) We have transitioned these designs from the original process of being cut by hand, to now being  computerized, and cut by machine. Most of our stencils are shipped to quilt shops, and then individual customers, too. The majority are sold here in the US, but we also have some being sold at shops in Ontario, and even as far away as Germany!

In the past, I’ve mostly been doing quilt stencils. But I received a request for a custom stencil, one that is not a quilt stencil, and I wouldn’t mind at all getting in to more of this line of stencils.

What we have available is a laurel leaf wreath stencil. The one we are giving away is the 10″ size. However, we can resize this design in any size you like, up t001o 24″.

The winner of the giveaway will win one of these! Or…if this particular design is not your thing, I am also willing to do another new, custom design, also in a 10″ size, created from your idea! (I do require that it has to be something similar in complexity level to this design, subject to my interpretation of that. 😉 )

Giveaway is open to US residents only. To enter, all you need to do is leave me a comment, can be here or on FB. Tell me what stencil design you would like to see!

You can also visit our stencil website, which is still a work in progress, but it gives you some ideas of (quilt) stencils we have available.

This giveaway will remain open through November 10th.

Cat Tales

We have had a lot of cat drama going on here at our place lately…

I guess I could say, since my girls are older and more grown up, they don’t provide the entertainment like they used to, so now I can depend on the cats for it! 🙂

I could tell you many cat stories, and might share a few of the interesting ones another time…this morning I just have to tell about our latest one, that has had a sad ending.

Almost two weeks ago, M went out to feed the cats and came back in to tell us excitedly that there was a little black kitten out there.

We have two mother cats here, the first litter had just all left for their new homes, and we still didn’t know where the other cat’s litter was hidden. (Our two mother cats don’t really appreciate each other, so they like to have their kittens elsewhere, but that’s a whole other story…)

Rio, the black cat, is the mom of the kittens we hadn’t seen. So, upon seeing the little black kitty, we put two & two together and assumed that she had for reasons unknown to us, decided to bring this one little one home.

But the poor kitty…he just lay there. All curled up in a bundle of black fur. Rio ignored him. He’d meow, and crawl around a bit, and she would walk away. I told the girls, “he’s too little, if she doesn’t take care of him, I don’t think we can do anything for him.”

The next day I went out and he was meowing, and one of the other cats was batting him around. That did it. I couldn’t handle it anymore. I went and checked my freezer, and sure enough, we still had a bit of leftover kitten formula from an earlier time when we had to feed kittens…so…I found a box and brought him in. Yes, you heard right–in! In my kitchen, no less. He was so tiny, we think about 2 weeks old, but a little on the small size for that age, only one eye was open. And I tried to give him the bottle. He did pretty good with it, almost right away. He wouldn’t drink a lot, but enough. Our youngest daughter K also took turns, and fed him and cared for him, whenever she could, when she was home from school. Of course there are many reasons why little kittens need their mommies to take care of them. Humans cannot do a proper job of cleaning them (or maybe that’s just me! :/)

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We had plans to go camping over the weekend, so we had no choice but to take little kitty along. (K wanted to call him Tokyo, another wanted to call him Bobo, I just kept calling him little kitty.) The girls helped out with his feeding over the weekend, I mixed bottles, we took turns feeding, he got held some, he’d meow when put back in our pet taxi, he slept, he seemed to be doing ok.

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Then we came home. He’d made enough messes on himself that I had to put my foot down and say, not back in the house! So out to the lean-to (our cat haven) he went.

But the nights were cold. And the other cats ignored him.

And I, myself, was the sole, one-and-only kitten-bottle-feeding person left in the house.

His eating began slowing down…

Yesterday morning, he was too weak to drink hardly anything.

I told K sadly that I just didn’t think he was going to be able to make it through the day. She had many tears, and I cried with her.

What was heartbreaking was the fact that he’d keep waddling around and doing his pitiful little meow.

This morning when we out to check on him, he was completely still.

More tears.

We laid him in his final resting place this afternoon.

Sometimes I just wish we could get rid of all our cats and FORGET about having pets. It hurts the girls (and yes, me too, more than I’d like to admit) too much when something happens to one of them.

I think God gave us little creatures to remind us of many things, not the least is how BIG His love is!! He very much loves ME! And YOU! All of us!!

Book Giveaway WINNER!!

Blind Spot giveaway.

We didn’t have very many takers for this giveaway….seems rather strange to me. Personally, I love giveaways, especially when they involve free books! 😉

Anyhow, it made the chances that much higher for each of you that took the time to enter! And, seriously, what fun is a giveaway if nobody is interested?! 🙂

Our winner is

 

Shannon!

We did like we’ve done before, write the names on slips of paper, put them in a bowl, mix, shake, and such.

Then I had one of my daughters close her eyes, reach in, and draw out a name….and Shannon was the one picked.

Shannon, I’ll get this book sent out to you within the next few days.

 

To those of you that entered and didn’t win, thanks for playing! Appreciate your support. 🙂