28 October 2013

An Untamed Heart by Lauraine Snelling

Ingeborg Strands longs to be a midwife, to help others bring forth life into the world, and perhaps she has a gift for it. Her fathers allows to her to help with the animals, even though such things are generally not permitted among women. Her mother seems to approve, but then refuses to help her learn, even though her mother is usually the one the local women turn to when they need assistance in birthing.

Ingeborg knows that she won't find love in her community, so she pushes those thoughts aside, until she meets someone and finds that she can love him. Suddenly though, the chance for love is gone and she is forced to make a tough decision when Roald Bjorkland comes along. Should she go with him to America and start life afresh? His young son desperately needs a mother to love him, but this is not what Ingeborg had in mind at all. And how will being a midwife fit in this decision?

I really enjoyed reading An Untamed Heart by Lauraine Snelling. Snellings' way of telling a story is very thought provoking and I love how she is able to capture the details of the landscape and the Strands' way of life in Norway. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction or adventures in a culture different from their own.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Bethany Publishing Company book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

15 October 2013

Smiles can go pretty far sometimes .. ..

Today, I was reminded that sometimes a warm smile can really go a long way . . . in today's case, it went all the way to Iraq.

And it had nothing to do with my husband and his job.

Little Man, Flower and I were at Target today picking up a few things, and since it was lunch time, I treated them to lunch at the Target Cafe. We ordered our food, and went around to sit in the little cafe area.

Seated at one of the small tables was a young Middle Eastern woman sitting in front of her i-pad talking with someone. Little Man and Flower brightly smiled at her and said "hi!", just like they do with everyone they see. She looked at me and I gave her a big smile and said hi.

Then I got the kids out the cart and seated at the next table and she went on with her conversation on her i-pad in Farsi. The kids were pretty well behaved during lunch and towards the end of our lunch, she politely interrupted and explained that she was talking to her family in Iraq. She said that they wanted to know if Americans are friendly and that they had heard my kids talking and wanted to know if they could say see them and say hi.

I said sure, and turned around, as I had had my back to her to give her privacy, and turned Flower's high chair more towards the young lady. She turned her i-pad around and there was her family, half way around the world in Iraq. There was even a little boy Flower or Little Man's age running around.

We smiled and said hi and waved, and Little Man and Flower said "hi!" in their bright, friendly manner and her family smiled and said hi and waved and thus we continued on in our native tongue for a minute or so. The young lady thanked me and turned the i-pad back around and that was that.

We were just about done with lunch, so we cleaned up and headed out. I gave the young lady one more smile and said "have a good day!" and she nodded and said likewise.

I have to say that I felt a bit like an American ambassador. I think it was a really good reminder that sometimes a smile can go so far, so very far in a person's day or week . . . even half way around the world. I hope that this young lady and her family thought that we were friendly Americans and showed that there are people willing to ignore any differences and just be kind and smile to others.

14 October 2013

Author Give Away!

 No, I'm not giving away an author! But Lauraine Snelling is hosting a giveaway for her latest novel, An Untamed Heart. Check out it below!

In An Untamed Heart, the latest novel by bestselling author Lauraine Snelling, twenty-year-old Ingeborg Strand is certain she is destined to be an old maid.
When tragedy strikes, and the future looks bleaker than ever, Ingeborg considers leaving Norway to start afresh in America. But how will she accomplish that with little money and no one to accompany her?
Then she meets Roald Bjorklund, a widower who plans to go to America with his young son. He’s a good man, a hard-working man–and his son desperately needs a mother. But is he the answer to her prayers? Could love grow between two people whose hearts are filled with grief?  And can Ingeborg leave her treasured Norway for such an uncertain future?
To celebrate the novel, author Lauraine Snelling and Bethany House Publishers are pleased to present the TREASURES OF NORWAY Sweepstakes, and your chance to win one of three spectacular prizes, all closely connected to the story.

Timeframe & Notifications:

This giveaway starts October 5, 2013 and ends October 24, 2013 @ 11:59 pm (PST). Entry is open to US residents only, age 18 and over. Winners will be selected Friday, October 25, 2013, and announced at laurainesnelling.com.
Treasures of Norway Grand Prize
In An Untamed Heart, young Ingeborg Strand is tasked with cleaning her Onkel Frode's house, an ominous task indeed! But Ingeborg never backs down from tough tasks, and the result is a house so clean, any woman in Norway would be proud to call it home.
We might not have the luxury of a housecleaning visit from Ingeborg, but our Grand Prize winner will win the next best thing: a $200 housecleaning gift card to Maids.com, plus a handmade Tokheim Fjordhorse Mug and a bag ofIngebretsen's Viking Coffee so you can brew a cuppa, sit back, and relax while your house is transformed.
       Treasures of Norway Second Prize
Ingeborg and her cousin Gunlaug are some of the best cooks in the in the mountain village of Valdres, Norway. Cookies, cheeses, flatbreads, jams...their cooking and baking is a culinary-lover's dream!
Our Second Prize winner will have Gunlaug's and Ingeborg's favorite Norwegian foods delivered right to their door with this $120 Norwegian gourmet prize pack.
This package includes fresh Norwegian lefse, cheeses, flatbread, Nordic butter, jelly, Romme Grot cream porridge, Gjende shortbread, Uff Da chips, Fattigman cookies, and Norwegian chocolate.
       Treasures of Norway Third Prize
Ingeborg and the Strand family prepare for Christmas with music and handmade decorations, while secretly weaving and carving special gifts to give each other in celebration of Gott Jul.
Our Third Prize winner will have the chance to bring Gott Jul to their home this holiday season, with this $100 Christmas In Norway prize pack.
This prize includes a Norwegian Christmas CD, a set of 2 Norwegian wood spool candle holders, and a woven, 14" wide x 43" long, Åttebladrose Christmas table runner, perfect for dressing your dining table in the warm colors of Norway.
How to Enter:
Go to http://www.laurainesnelling.com/html/giveaways.html and complete the entry box, anytime between October 5 and October 24.  

12 October 2013

A Plain Disappearance by Amanda Flower

It seems trouble has followed Chloe Humphrey since she moved to Appleseed Creek, a small town in Ohio Amish country. Just when it seems things are settling down, and Chloe can focus on her budding relationship with Timothy Troyer, trouble strikes again, this time in the form of the murder of a young Amish girl. Clues point to a friend of Timothy’s, and Chloe and Timothy must work together to figure out what is going on before danger strikes again.

A Plain Disappearance by Amanda Flower is my first Amish mystery and I really enjoyed it. I haven’t read a mystery in years, and Flower’s story telling really had me turning the pages to find out what happens. The scenes in Amish country that she paints are amazing, I felt like I was right there with the characters in the snowy, cold Amish countryside.

I would recommend this book for anyone who is a fan of Amish fiction or mysteries.  As mysteries go, the twists and turns kept me guessing and I was really surprised by the ending. There was plenty of drama and suspense without going over the edge. The Amish aspect was very interesting and I thought it added a whole extra layer of intrigue to the story. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

06 October 2013

An Enchanted Morning

This weekend was the start of the annual International Balloon Fiesta here in Albuquerque. Come every October, the bright blue skies are filled with beautiful colors floating gracefully through the sky across the city. Not one or two balloons, but hundreds upon hundreds as balloon pilots descend upon the city from around the world.

It is an amazing sight! There is nothing like driving through the city and high, and sometimes not-so-high above you, float these amazing feats of men. It's like being in a fairly tale.

This weekend, we did not attend the actual Fiesta (although there is still time!), but today we did drive down to a favorite "Balloon-landing" spot off of Osuna Road at our old church, Desert Springs.

And this morning was THE morning to be out to see the balloons descend from the lofts and land upon the ground as gracefully as a bird upon a branch. We saw dozens of balloons, of all colors and patterns gracing the skies with their presence. Some floating slowly down to the ground, others descending in rapid fashion to meet the ground quickly. All stunning and brilliant in color.

Butterfly, Little Man and Flower were so excited! We parked in the parking lot, got out of the van, and walked to the street where we stood on the sidewalk to witness this colorful spectacle. It was the perfect morning for it: October cold, October clear, October blue, October Enchanted for Balloons.

There is not much more I can say, so I will leave you with a few pictures. :)

That's our van! (Gives you an idea of how close we were).

Balloon eclipse

Reading Bucket List - BBC's Top 100 Books

Apparently a few years ago BBC came out with a Top 100 Books to read. I heard that they thought the average person will have only read 6. I have read a few more than 6 from the list, however, my goal, as of today (well, last week when I saw this) is to read them all before I die. So no timeline, since I don't know when I'll die, but just to read them within my lifetime. I'll try to put a date down (if I remember.) Some of the titles on the list actually consist of several books, for example the Lord of the Rings by Tolkien (3). Also, I have read of some these in abridged version, and that doesn't count (except for the Count of Monte Cristo because the abridged version is still 1000 pages).

 Anyone want to join me? :)

I am 23/100 complete as of 1 Aug 2015. :)

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen June 2010
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien Christmas 2014
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte (1/2 way done)
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling Jun 2015
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible The New Testament 2008
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte 1999
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell -
9 His Dark Materials - Phillip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens -(1/2 way done)
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott 1 Aug 2015
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien  Jan 2014
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulkner
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegge Dec 2013
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell Apr 1996
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald -1999
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis Dec 2007
34 Emma-Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen 26 June 2015
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis  Oct 2007
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell 1998
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown -
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding 1998
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen 2010
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens 1997
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas July 2011
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens -
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett 1994
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Inferno – Dante
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens Dec 2011
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White -July 2009
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton 1992
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad -(1/2 way done)
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare -Dec 2000
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

05 October 2013

The Promise Box by Tricia Goyer

Lydia Wyse is a young woman who has run from her Amish roots and her Amish community to find an Englisch life in Seattle as a book editor. When her mother passes away, she returns to the small town of West Kootenai, Montana to comfort her father.  Upon arriving though, she is drawn back to Amish life and considers what returning will mean: facing a pain-filled past, her mother’s treasured possession of a Promise Box of prayers, letters and Scripture and a return to faith and God. Not long after arriving, she finds herself growing attracted to one of the young Amish bachelors who descend upon the town each spring. She has to face the pain of her past to find the possibility of a future that God wants for her.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Promise Box by Tricia Goyer. This second book of the Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors series was very well written. I loved reading Lydia’s journey on the path that the Lord wanted for her, and how her mother’s Promise Box of God’s promises that He gives His people in His Word impacted her life and how she grew in relationship with Him through that. This is a wonderful story of faith and how one’s faith can impact everyone around us.

I would recommend this book for anyone who loves Amish fiction, romantic fiction or Christian fiction.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

03 October 2013

Rebellious Heart by Jody Hedlund

Susanna Smith loves to learn and has a keen mind, but 18th century Colonies of the Americas have no place for higher learning for women. Susanna also desires to marry upward in society, so that she can continue her work  helping people in need that she enjoys so much. When she meets a runaway indentured servant, Susanna offers to help her, despite the trouble that she could bring down upon herself and her family.

Benjamin Ross is the son of a local poor farmer who has studied hard to become a country lawyer.  He dreams of changing the country for the better and has secret seditious ties with local colonists. When he is introduced to the Smith Family, he is taken by Susanna’s sharp mind, but her family refuses to allow him to court her.

I thoroughly enjoyed this historical fiction novel by Jody Hedlund. I thought Susanna’s journey on the road between learning about true justice and mercy was really well written and very thought provoking. The journey that Susanna and Ben take as well on the road of what society expects and what their hearts desire is very intriguing and filled with many emotional twists and turns. The journey that Susanna takes in helping the runaway indentured servant is an adventure in and of itself. Weave these three plot lines together and you have one incredible story that will keep you guessing and the pages turning. The writing of the Massachusetts location and historical setting of 1763 is extremely well written and I felt like I was right there with the characters.

I would recommend this novel for anyone who enjoys historical fiction or romantic fiction. Hedlund has written a compelling story and when you learn who the story is based upon, it makes the story even richer and more thought provoking.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Bethany Publishing Company book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”