Fun Things For Readers — Easy Cross Bookmark Project

27 Mar

A few years ago, my good friend Tina gave me a cross bookmark made with plastic canvas and satin ribbon. It immediately captured my heart. Just in time for Easter, this quick and easy craft project is perfect for elementary school children, a mom’s group, or a senior’s group. The ladies at the transitional center where I volunteer loved making them as well. Whether you make them as gifts or for yourself, you will love this bookmark. I found the instructions at ThriftyFun.com.

 

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Easter Cross Bookmark

This is a simple craft for Easter using only plastic canvas and ribbon.

Materials and Tools:

1/8 inch ribbon
plastic canvas
scissors

Instructions:

First you should cut a pattern, start with a rectangle that is 21 squares by 17. Find the center on top edge, leave center square uncut. Cut diagonally until you reach side. You now have a start to the top of the cross. Cross points should go, 1 square/3 square/5 square and then switch to strips of squares, that meet in center.

Hopefully you were able to cut a pattern from my instructions. Once you have pattern you can hold it up against more canvas to cut more out easily.

Cut a piece of 1/8 inch ribbon that is 4 or 5 feet long. Knot one end, and seal the other end with a lighter (angle cut edge is best), this will make a built in needle. Put through very center of cross.

Start to “sew” from bottom right of cross, through square and around back, up through the top left of cross. You will continue to go to opposite sides in a “loop” fashion (this is so back and front of cross are visually pleasing). Once you finish vertical part of cross, bring to center: loop around and start to do the same thing to horizontal cross arms. When you are finished, wrap to the center, and either knot or run through top center square and use as a bookmark.

Book Review: A Heart’s Disguise

26 Mar

10341xIn the celebratory mood of the recently-ended Civil War, Sarah discovers her betrothed has been keeping a devastating secret.

While the tiny town of Wabash, Indiana, celebrates the end of the fighting, Sara Montgomery attends the parties, but inside she’s fighting a deep sadness. The love of Sara’s life, Rand Campbell, didn’t come back from the front.

So her brother and ailing father persuade her to pledge herself to another man—despite her misgivings. When Sarah finds out that Rand is in fact alive—and that her fiancé Ben Croftner knew it—she indignantly breaks off their engagement.

Croftner doesn’t take rejection lightly—and a single woman with a sick father makes an easy target. He abducts Sarah, his intentions anything but honorable. Then Rand comes to her aid . . . only to reveal that he has been posted at Fort Laramie, Wyoming, and asks her to go with him as his wife.

Will Sarah leave her dying father’s side for the only man she’s ever loved? And what plans are forming in the jealous heart of Ben Croftner?

 

colleen-coble-headshot-smallBest-selling author Colleen Coble’s novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, the ACFW Carol Award, the Romance Writers of America RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers’ Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has over 2 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana.

 

My Impressions:

Colleen Coble’s A Heart’s Disguise is the first installment in a 6-part serialized novel. Originally published years ago, the series is being offered after ten years of being out-of-print. Filled with what fans of Coble have come to expect — well-researched historical details, well-developed characters and a decidedly romantic thread, A Heart’s Disguise is a quick read sure to whet your appetite for more.

Sarah Montgomery has been mourning her fiance’s death since the end of the Civil War 5 moths before. Determined to please her family, she agrees to marry another, although she does not love him. But Ben holds some deep secrets and conceals a heart full of menace.

A Heart’s Disguise is the perfect read for those looking for a well-written historical romance. At just 90 pages, it is indeed a very quick read. And because this collection is serialized, you have a definite to be continued ending. But this 6-part series will have one installment released per month, so book 2, A Heart’s Obsession, will be released shortly. If you have a hard time waiting, you can always buy all six when the last is released. (There will be a full 6 book Kindle version available in September.) But I dare you to wait! I am reviewing all 6 books as they are released — cannot wait to find out just what happens!

With sweet romance, dastardly villains and a spirit of adventure, A Heart’s Disguise is a recommended read.

Recommended.

Audience: older teens to adults. 

(Thanks to LitFuse and Thomas Nelson for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

To purchase this book, click HERE.

 

Children’s Corner — Easter Basket Books

25 Mar

My children are all grown now, but when they were small I liked to add a little something to their Easter baskets that was not candy. Here are two books perfect to include with the eggs and bunnies.

Tiny Bear’s Bible is a board book with rhyming Bible stories written by Sally Lloyd-Jones. This beautifully illustrated book features Tiny Bear and the promises God makes to him (and all of us!). It is targeted at children ages 2-5.

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The First Easter Ever tells the story of Jesus’ adult ministry from His baptism through the crucifixion until his ascension into heaven. I really enjoyed Dennis Jones’ detailed illustrations, especially the facial expressions. The target audience for this book is children ages 4-8 and is perfect for read-alongs or intermediate readers.

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(Thanks to Zonderkidz for review copies. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

Book Review: The Song

24 Mar

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise. Ephesians 5:15

403339Jed King’s life has been shaped by the songs and mistakes of his famous father. He wants to sing his own song, but the words and melody are elusive. Haunted by the scars inflicted by his broken family, Jed’s dreams of a successful music career seem out of reach . . . until he meets Rose.

As romance quickly blooms, Jed pens a new song and suddenly finds himself catapulted into stardom. But with this life of fame comes temptation, the same temptation that lured his father so many years ago.

Set in the fertile mid-South, this quest for success leads Jed and Rose on a journey that will force them to deal with the pain of loss, failure, and the desire to be who God created them to be.

Lyrical and deeply honest, The Song asks the hard questions of love and forgiveness. When even the wisest of men are fools in love, can true love persevere?

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAChris Fabry is an award-winning author and radio personality who hosts the daily program Chris Fabry Live! on Moody Radio. He is also heard on Love Worth Finding, Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, and other radio programs. A 1982 graduate of the W. Page Pitt School of Journalism at Marshall University and a native of West Virginia, Chris and his wife, Andrea, now live in Arizona and are the parents of nine children.

Chris’ novels, which include Dogwood, June Bug, Almost Heaven, Not in the Heart, Borders of the Heart, and his latest release, Every Waking Moment, have won three Christy Awards and an ECPA Christian Book Award, but it’s his lyrical prose and tales of redemption that keep readers returning for more.

He has also published more than 65 other books, including nonfiction and novels for children and young adults. He coauthored the Left Behind: The Kids series with Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye, as well as the Red Rock Mysteries and The Wormling series with Jerry B. Jenkins. RPM is his latest series for kids and explores the exciting world of NASCAR.

 

My Impressions:

The Song by Chris Fabry is a novelization of the movie by the same name. My experience with such books is usually disappointing. Many times authors follow so closely to the script that the books feel like a movie instead of a book. While I have not seen the film version of The Song, I can say that the book most definitely reads like a book. Those of you who care about such things will understand. Fabry is one of my favorite authors and he did an outstanding job. I found this novel deeply moving and personal, often speaking to and convicting my heart. Inspired by the life of King Solomon, this book is one I highly recommend.

Jed is the son of country music great David King. He has a lot to live up to and a lot to live down when it comes to his father. Determined to make his own way and music, Jed seeks wisdom and the heart of God. Unfortunately, fame, riches and and other temptations lure Jed from the family he loves and the God he first sought to serve.

The Song is a story of love, commitment, and marriage in the midst of life’s joys, griefs and temptations. The story of Jedediah King may be inspired by King Solomon, but it is one that everyone can relate to. Who doesn’t want the best for himself and his family? But when the pursuit of earthly things takes the place of God’s will, all becomes vanity. The contemporary setting of the novel really proves that there really isn’t anything new under the sun. And while Jed bears much of the blame for the decline of his family, it is easy to see that little foxes can be let in by both spouses. It is the lack of communication, the hurt feelings, and the separate lives and agendas, that most readers will identify with.

The Biblical allusions were a clever touch. Be on the lookout for those. My favorite was the name of Jed’s musical partner, Shelby Bales. In King Solomon’s life he allowed his many wives and concubines to keep their baals or idols. We may think we can manage the indiscretions of others, but they often lead to sin in our own lives.

Included in the book is an excerpt of a couple’s devotional also based on the movie. Be sure to check out this great resource as well.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults (especially couples).

(Thanks to Tyndale for a review copy. The opinions expressed are mine alone.)

To purchase this book, click HERE.

Book Review: The Boy Who Loved Rain

23 Mar

641292They say that what you don’t know can’t hurt you. They’re wrong.

Colom had the perfect childhood, the much-loved only child of a church pastor. Yet he wakes screaming from dreams in which his sister is drowning and he can’t save her.

Fiona turns to her husband, desperate to help their son. But David will not acknowledge that help is needed—and certainly not help from beyond the church.

Then they find the suicide pledge.

Fiona, in panic, takes Colom and flees… but when will she acknowledge that the unnamed demons Colom faces might be of her and David’s own creation?

 

 

51rPN7grZhL._UX250_Gerard Kelly is a writer, speaker and poet and a co-founder, with his wife Chrissie, of The Bless Network. Bless works alongside churches in the UK, France, The Netherlands, Croatia and Spain, empowering young people ‘to encounter the God of mission and find their place in the mission of God’. A member of the ‘Theme Group’ of Spring Harvest, Europe’s largest Christian teaching event and formerly Pastor of Crossroads International Church in Amsterdam, Gerard currently lives in Normandy, France, where he and Chrissie are developing a centre for missional formation.

 

My Impressions:

March has found me reading books with pretty heavy subjects. Four books involved abuse of one kind or another, with three involving children. You would think I would be pretty depressed by now, but all of the books have a Christian worldview and writers that care about the subject and their craft. The Boy Who Loved Rain by Gerard Kelly is a beautifully written novel that, while not an easy read, was nevertheless a page-turner and is one of the best books I have read this year.

Colom is a fourteen year old boy who may not live to see his next birthday. Filled with anger that seems to have no source, Colom and his parents struggle to get from one day to the next. After the suicide of one of Colom’s friends, Fiona, Colom’s mother, flees with him to the wild coast of Brittany to try to unearth the demons that torment her son. With the help of an old friend, the family comes to grips with long buried secrets and trauma.

The Boy Who Loved Rain is one of the best written books I have read. Its prose is lyrical and the story nuanced. Kelly uses third person narrative and first person reflections with great success. The relatable characters gradually disclose their fears, doubts and motivations as the story unfolds. Most of the book takes place on the Breton coast, a place wild with waves and weather which takes on its own personality and place in the story. Secrets designed for pride and self-preservation as well as protection are exposed for their destructive nature. Truth, no matter how ugly, is shown to be the only means to healing. The book does not have an overt faith message; many of the characters are either agnostics or tepid in their faith. But the untamed nature of a God bigger than our boxes is explored in a subtle manner. Each chapter is introduced with a fact or a quote featuring rain. While each foreshadows the action or mood of the chapter, it wasn’t until the end that I finally had the aha moment for them and the title (which is indeed very clever).

Because The Boy Who Loved Rain is a British novel, there were some things I had to look up. But I find that to be a plus. I like to be challenged and stretched now and again. ;) And I now know what a Renault Espace is!

Moving, poetic, and riveting — The Boy Who Loved Rain is a highly recommended read.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(Thanks to Kregel and Lion Hudson for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine.)

To purchase this book, click HERE. It is currently 99 cents for Kindle!

This Book Is Making Me Hungry + Review — Miracle at The Higher Grounds Cafe

20 Mar

There is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents. Luke 15:10

000882What if you could ask God anything? What would you ask? And how would He answer?

Chelsea Chambers is on her own. After a public split from her NFL superstar husband, Chelsea takes a bold step out of the limelight and behind the counter of the Higher Grounds Café, an old-fashioned coffee shop in dire need of reinvention. But when her courage, expert planning, and out-of-this-world cupcakes fail to pay the bills, this newly single mom finds herself desperate for help. Better yet, a miracle.

Then a curious stranger lands at Chelsea’s door, and with him, an even more curious string of events. Soon, customers are flocking to the Higher Grounds Café, and not just for the cupcakes and cappuccino. They’ve come for the internet connection to the divine. Now the café has become the go-to place for people in search of answers to life’s biggest questions.

When a catastrophe strikes and her ex comes calling, Chelsea begins to wonder if the whole universe is conspiring against her quest to make it on her own. After a shocking discovery opens her eyes to the unseen world around her, Chelsea finds the courage to ask God a question of her own. Heaven answers in a most unexpected way.

 

MLucado-261More than 120 million readers have found comfort in the writings of Max Lucado. He ministers at the Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas, where he lives with his wife, Denalyn, and a sweet but misbehaving mutt, Andy.

 

 

My Impressions:

I confess that I have never read any of Max Lucado’s non-fiction books. I am a fiction gal and find it hard to get into most non-fiction. But when I saw that he had written his first novel, I just had to read it. Miracle at The Higher Grounds Cafe captured me from the beginning. Wonderful characters and a great setting add to this inspiring tale. This book is great for any fans of Max Lucado or for anyone who needs a little encouragement and hope that God is really listening.

Chelsea Chambers and her children have moved back to her hometown of San Antonio, Texas following her separation from NFL star, Sawyer. Reopening her mother’s cafe is challenging enough with her family changes, but a whopping tax bill puts Chelsea into panic mode. With some angelic help, Chelsea finds her faith and forgiveness.

Lightly written with plenty of chuckle-inducing moments, Miracle at The Higher Grounds Cafe still packs a punch on the spiritual front. Spiritual themes of forgiveness, the personhood of God and prayer are skillfully interwoven. A clever device is used to show how God wants to have personal relationships with his creation. Lucado also emphasizes that once prayers are sent up, they linger like a heavenly aroma. The book also gives a glimpse at how things on earth must look from the spiritual realm. I especially loved the scene where the angels are rejoicing when a character accepts the gift of salvation. Fun characters, inventive plot devices and mouth-watering cupcake creations are icing on the cake (pardon the pun!). Miracle at The Higher Grounds Cafe is definitely a must-read.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: older teens and adults.

To purchase this book click HERE.

(Thanks to LitFuse and Thomas Nelson for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Chocolate-Raspberry Layer Cake

GH0507H_chocolate-raspberry-layer-cake-recipe_s4x3.jpg.rend.sni12col.landscapeMain character, Chelsea Chambers bakes up scrumptious goodies in her cafe. One particularly yummy dessert plays a role in her dealings with a real estate agent. So in honor of Chelsea, here is a recipe for Chocolate-Raspberry Layer Cake  from Giada De Laurentiis (courtesy of the Food Network).

Ingredients

Puree:
One 12-ounce bag frozen unsweetened raspberries, thawed

Cake:
Butter, for greasing the pans
All-purpose flour, for dusting
One 18.25-ounce box chocolate cake mix, such as Betty Crocker Super Moist Chocolate Fudge
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, such as Ghirardelli
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs, at room temperature

Frosting:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (4 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup sour cream, at room temperature

Fresh raspberries or chocolate curls for garnish

For the puree: Place the raspberries in a blender and blend until smooth (yields 1 1/4 cups of puree). Remove 1/4 cup of puree and reserve.

For the cake: Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter and flour the bottom and sides of two 8- or 9-inch round nonstick baking pans. Set aside.

Place 1 tablespoon of the cake mix and the chocolate chips in a small bowl. Toss until the chocolate chips are coated.

In a large bowl, combine the remaining cake mix, 1 cup of the raspberry puree, vegetable oil, eggs and 1/4 cup water. Using an electric hand mixer, blend on low speed for 30 seconds. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. Mix in the chocolate chips. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes.

Cool the pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack, about 1 hour.

For the frosting: In a large bowl, combine the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, butter, cream cheese and sour cream. Using an electric hand mixer, beat on low speed until smooth. Increase the speed to high and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.

In a small bowl, mix together 3/4 cup of the frosting and the reserved 1/4 cup puree until smooth.

To assemble the cake: Place one cake layer, flat side-up, on a cake stand. Using a spatula, spread the raspberry-chocolate frosting over the cake layer leaving a 1/2-inch border. Place the other cake layer on top. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining chocolate frosting. Decorate with fresh raspberries or chocolate curls. Using a damp knife cut the cake into wedges and serve.

Cake can be made 1 day in advance. Refrigerate in an airtight plastic container. Allow the cake to stand at room temperature for 1 hour before serving.

 

Spring Cleaning Giveaway Hop!

19 Mar

Welcome to the Spring Cleaning Giveaway Hop hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Bookhounds. Bloggers have been busy clearing their shelves to bring you great books. To find all those busy bloggers, click HERE. The hop runs from March 20 through March 25, so make sure you get all your entries in.

 

spring-cleaning
I have a surprise box of books — contemporary, historical, and romance — to give away to one lucky reader. Just leave me a comment to win. Good luck!

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