Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Repurposed & Upcycled Life by Michelle Rayburn

Have you ever wished you could...

  • Unpack emotional baggage and deal with the past
  • Confront perfectionism and negative attitudes
  • Change your perspective on your circumstances
  • Let go of regret and shame
  • Build positive healthy relationships
  • Dream big and live with purpose
Discover the repurposed and upcycled life. With her laugh-out-loud Erma Bombeck way of looking at life, Michelle will help you see how some of your greatest disappointments, mistakes, and hurts can be beautiful treasures from God. Part memoir, part inspiration and self-help, this book will help you: Through inspiration from God's Word and examples from everyday life, you'll discover the joy-filled, hope-rich way of viewing your past, present, and future.

What a fun book this is! Michelle offers tips for addressing real life issueswith a generous dose of humor. She's not afraid to let us see the real Michelle and give us comfort in knowing that the trials we are dealing with are not ours alone.

There are great ideas and if you like crafty things, there are some suggestions at the end of each chapter to make something to remind you of what you've learned.

I did the book as sort of a Bible study - a chapter a week - and really enjoyed having the week to think on what I had read before moving on to the next chapter.

Click here for a wonder Q&A with Michelle to get some insight to her life.

I highly recommend this book.


Many thanks to Michelle and KCW Communications for my free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

I Shall Be Near To You by Erin Lindsay McCabe

An extraordinary novel about a strong-willed woman who disguises herself as a man in order to fight beside her husband, inspired by the letters of a remarkable female soldier who fought in the Civil War.   Rosetta doesn't want her new husband Jeremiah to enlist, but he joins up, hoping to make enough money that they'll be able to afford their own farm someday. Though she's always worked by her father’s side as the son he never had, now that Rosetta is a wife she's told her place is inside with the other women. But Rosetta decides her true place is with Jeremiah, no matter what that means, and to be with him she cuts off her hair, hems an old pair of his pants, and signs up as a Union soldier.
   With the army desperate for recruits, Rosetta has no trouble volunteering, although she faces an incredulous husband. She drills with the men, proves she can be as good a soldier as anyone, and deals with the tension as her husband comes to grips with having a fighting wife. Rosetta's strong will clashes with Jeremiah's while their marriage is tested by broken conventions, constant danger, and war, and she fears discovery of her secret even as they fight for their future, and for their lives. Inspired by more than 250 documented accounts of the women who fought in the Civil War while disguised as men, I Shall Be Near To You is the intimate story, in Rosetta’s powerful and gorgeous voice, of the drama of marriage, one woman’s amazing exploits, and the tender love story that can unfold when two partners face life’s challenges side by side.

When I first read the description of this book I was simply fascinated. I love all things Civil War but I had never heard anything at all about women disguising themselves as men and fighting alongside their husband, fathers and brothers.

When the lists of casualties start being posted, Jeremiah and his friends decide they need to join up. Rosetta doesn't want Jeremiah to go without them being married, so in just a few short weeks time, they get married and he goes off to fight. Once he leaves, Rosetta decides she can't stay behind and be a wife without a husband so she cuts her hair, puts on a pair of pants and heads off to join him. These actions are tied to the Bible in a couple of different ways - a husband and wife leaving their parents and cleaving to each other and the story of Ruth and Naomi (wither thou goest, I will go). It's a beautiful action of a woman who can't bear to be separated from her husband - and a husband who can't bear to be separated from his wife, because when Rosetta finally reaches Jeremiah, even though he fears for her safety, he can't bring himself to insist she go home.

This book was very compelling. The descriptions make you feel like you are there. The courage of all these people - men and women - is simply amazing. The raw fear combined with the need and desire to fight for what they believed in is inspirational.

I laughed, I cried, I loved it all.

Be sure to read the author's notes at the end of the book - some really interesting information - and I was, quite frankly, shocked by some of it.

This is a not to be missed book.

More information can be found here:


I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Rumspringa's Hope by Beth Shriver

Torn between the affections of two men, will Emma's time away from home help her choose?

Although promised to the widowed neighbor Zeb, Emma is considering leaving her Amish community to watch over her younger brother Mark when he leaves for Philadelphia to explore the outside world during his Rumspringa.

There, she reconnects with her former beau Caleb, who protects the Amish teens, introducing them to his life evangelizing and helping the homeless. Unbeknownst to Emma, Caleb is glad for the opportunity to spend time with her and hopes to win her back.

Struck by the power of evangelism and outreach, Emma begins to feel a draw to Caleb's way of life. When she doesn’t return home when she promised, Zeb goes to the city to find her, forcing Emma to choose in which of their two worlds she really belongs.

I was thrilled to win a copy of this book on one of my favorite authors, Vanetta Chapman's website.

I really enjoyed this book. It's a bit different than some of the other "Amish" books I've read. I know that all Amish communities are not the same. In most books I have read "rumspringa" is a time of experiencing the outside world - and so it is in this book. But in this book it's more of a specific "time and place". What I have heard about it before is that it's mostly a secret thing - the parents not necessarily knowing where and what the kids are doing and a lot of it is done with the kids coming home at night and still, for the most part, carrying on with the normal day to day life.

In this book it's a group of kids going to the inner city and staying at a homeless shelter. The parents know where they are and they either stay there and make a life for themselves or return home after weeks or months there.

It was interesting reading about a different way to do rumspringa. This one reminded me a lot of what our local churches do as an outreach - although for only a week or two at a time.

These characters were easy to like - they had flaws, no one was perfect and they had struggles. What happened at the shelter was a good view in to inner city life and very real.

I highly recommend this book. It's book one of a series and I'm looking forward to reading the next two.

Thanks to Beth Shriver for sending me the copy and to Vanetta Chapman for the offer to win it.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Giveaway!!

The wonderful folks at Blogging for Books is coordinating a giveaway for a copy of this book. My review (I really liked this book!) can be found here.

The contest starts on July 31, 2014 at 6:00am EST and ends on August 20th, 2014 at 11:59pm. One winner will be chosen at random on August 21st, 2014 and will be alerted by email. For a complete listing of the rules, please see below.

Here's where you will go to enter the drawing:

Please make sure to read through all their rules and guidelines before entering.

Good Luck!!


Sunday, August 3, 2014

A Heartbeat Away by S. Dionne Moore

When a band of runaway slaves brings Union-loyal Beth Bumgartner a wounded Confederate soldier named Joe, it is the catalyst that pushes her to defy her pacifist parents and become a nurse during the Battle of Antietam
Her mother's mysterious goodbye gift is filled with quilt blocks that bring comfort to Beth during the hard days and lonely nights, but as she sews each block, she realizes there is a hidden message of faith within the pattern that encourages and sustains her. Reunited with Joe, Beth learns his secret and puts the quilt's message to its greatest test—but can betrayal be forgiven?

This is a fabulous addition to the Quilts of Love Series.Each book is by a different author and I have loved each one I have read.

This one is very special to me because I love anything and everything about the Civil War and I know the places they talk about in the book - Sharpsburg, Frederick, Hagerstown (I work in Hagerstown!).

This book highlights something that I suppose was pretty common but yet untalked about in a lot of books - the relationships that built between Northern and Southern people. Yes, by shear definition of the war, people from one side were not supposed to support or aid people from the other side. But human nature and emotions don't always go by rules.

So grows the affection between wounded Rebel soldier Joe and his Northern nurse Beth. And what of Jim, the free black man who helps Beth to take care of Joe? Can he care for a Rebel soldier?

And what about the package Beth's mother sent her - a package of quilt blocks. What could she have been thinking - sending quilt blocks to a nurse who would be overwhelmed with wounded and dying soldiers? What is so important about those quilts blocks - and how will Beth figure out the riddle.

Highly recommended - this book as well as the series.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Match of Wits by Jen Turano

After his departure from New York two years ago to meet up with his almost-fiancée, Zayne Beckett is the last person Agatha Watson wanted to stumble upon in her travels as a reporter with the New York Tribune. Quite pathetically bedraggled, he clearly needs to be taken in hand and sent back East to his family. Although she no longer has feelings for him, Agatha realizes, by hook or by crook, she'll have to be the one to get the obstinate man home.

Zayne has no desire to be taken anywhere and is prepared to drag his heels all the way home... until he finds himself slipping back into the familiar banter of his former friendship with Agatha. Once they arrive in New York, Zayne realizes Agatha's determined nose for news has earned her a few enemies, and he hopes to repay her help with some help of his own. When she rebuffs all his attempts to prove himself a knight in shining armor, the lengths to which they'll go to win this battle of wills lead to some memorable antics.

Everyone else may think them a match, but nothing could be further from the truth--until Agatha finds herself in real trouble. Have these two stubborn, too-smart-for-their-own-good people been meant for each other all along?

This was a good, light comedic story. You really had to suspend belief for a lot of it though. For example, Agatha is supposed to be hiding because some unknown person is trying to kill her. However, she parades down the streets of New York with a pig on a leash. Matilda (the pig) was certainly an unusual character and brought a lot of laughter to the book, but we're supposed to believe that a woman knowing she is being hunted to be killed is going to go to all the trouble to put on a disguise and then go out with a pig as a pet.

I have to say I did like a couple of the characters - Mr. Blackheart and Mrs. Swanson were very endearing - and I would welcome a book about them in a heartbeat.

This book is actually the fourth in a series. I have not read any of the other books so I don't know if this one is just in the same vein or if the books build on each other.


My copy of this book was provided by Bethany House Publishers for my honest review.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Summer of Dead Toys by Antonio Hill

Argentine native Inspector Héctor Salgado is one of Barcelona's leading criminal detectives. After a stint on probation—he assaulted a suspect from a human-trafficking case—Salgado is back in the office and eager for something major.
      To his dismay, he's assigned to a routine accidental death instead: a college student fell from a balcony in one of Barcelona’s ritzier neighborhoods. But as Salgado pieces together details from the victim's the life, he realizes that his death was not all that simple: his teenage friends are clearly hiding something and drugs might be involved.  Salgado follows a trail that will lead him deep into the underbelly of Barcelona’s high society, where he’ll confront dangerous criminals, long-buried secrets, and, strangely, his own past. But Salgado thrives on pressure, and he lives for this kind of casedark, violent, and seemingly unsolvable.

As it turns out, the "routine, accidental death" is neither routine or, it seems, accidental. Stories don't add up. People seem to be hiding things. And Hector is not willing to let it go as accidental.

There are actually two deaths that seem accidental and seem to be tied together - but what is the link? Or is there a link?

Nice mystery with the two deaths colliding in an unexpected way. And I didn't see the solution to either of them coming!

This was not a book that I couldn't put down. But once put down, I kept picking it up because I wanted to get to the solution.

Good, solid book - if not a page turner. Be aware that there are some things not settled at the end. So if you can't let go of a story until it's completed - you'll need to continue the series.

For more info:


I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.