Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Masterpiece By Francine Rivers

The Masterpiece
by Francine Rivers
Publisher: Tyndale
ISBN: 978-1-4964-0790-0

Every year when I come back to Minnesota I join my old book club for their book of the month! It's one of my favorite things to do when I come home. Spending an evening with friends like we always did once a month, what could be better? I found out they were doing Francine Rivers' book The Masterpiece and was SO excited. If you've ever read a book by Francine Rivers, you know why I was so excited. If you haven't, then you're missing out. I reached out to Tyndale House hoping I could do a review of the book, and they agreed!

Summary:

New York Times bestselling author Francine Rivers returns to her romance roots with this unexpected and redemptive love story, a probing tale that reminds us that mercy can shape even the most broken among us into an imperfect yet stunning masterpiece.

A successful LA artist, Roman Velasco appears to have everything he could possibly want—money, women, fame. Only Grace Moore, his reluctant, newly hired personal assistant, knows how little he truly has. The demons of Roman’s past seem to echo through the halls of his empty mansion and out across his breathtaking Topanga Canyon view. But Grace doesn’t know how her boss secretly wrestles with those demons: by tagging buildings as the Bird, a notorious but unidentified graffiti artist—an alter ego that could destroy his career and land him in prison.

Like Roman, Grace is wrestling with ghosts and secrets of her own. After a disastrous marriage threw her life completely off course, she vowed never to let love steal her dreams again. But as she gets to know the enigmatic man behind the reputation, it’s as if the jagged pieces of both of their pasts slowly begin to fit together . . . until something so unexpected happens that it changes the course of their relationship—and both their lives—forever.


My Review:

When my friend told me once I started reading The Masterpiece I wouldn't want to put it down, I thought she might be exaggerating slightly. I couldn't have been more wrong, and she couldn't have been more right! From page one, I was hooked!

Francine Rivers' writing draws the reader in and holds on to them until the very end. Actually this book in many respects reminded me of Bridge to Haven, which I read not too long ago. The characters have so much depth and realness. 

Roman was easy to dislike at the start of the story. He was living a very worldly life and only concerned for himself. Then there was Grace, a broken woman trying to find a way to make ends meet and figure out if she was keeping her son or giving him up for adoption. Two people who have been hurt tend to have walls built. Grace and Roman are no exception.

Book club was fun discussing the book. One gal thought Roman was a jerk. We all got a chuckle out of her response. Our hearts all went out to Grace. Our discussion was wonderful and insightful. The questions at the end of the book helped with our chat. Be sure to give them some thought after you read the book!

We agreed that we like how Francine wrote chapters specific to flashbacks of Grace & Roman's individual pasts. It gave us insights to how they became the people we meet in the story. Those chapters made them relatable, and I think helps us as readers to remember that the people we meet have a story.

Be prepared when you start this book to stay up late and to tell yourself, "Just one more chapter!"

About the Author:
New York Times bestselling author Francine Rivers had a successful writing career in the general market for several years before becoming a born-again Christian. As her statement of faith, she wrote Redeeming Love, a retelling of the biblical story of Gomer and Hosea set during the time of the California Gold Rush. Redeeming Love is now considered by many to be a classic work of Christian fiction and it continues to be one of the industry's top-selling titles year after year.

Since Redeeming Love, Francine has published numerous novels with Christian themes—all bestsellers—and she has continued to win both industry acclaim and reader loyalty around the world. Her Christian novels have been awarded or nominated for many honors, and in 1997, after winning her third RITA Award for Inspirational Fiction, Francine was inducted into the Romance Writers of America's Hall of Fame. In 2015, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). Francine's novels have been translated into over thirty different languages, and she enjoys bestseller status in many foreign countries.
Francine and her husband live in northern California and enjoy time spent with their grown children and grandchildren. She uses her writing to draw closer to the Lord, and she desires that through her work she might worship and praise Jesus for all He has done and is doing in her life.
Visit her website at www.francinerivers.com and connect with her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/FrancineRivers) and Twitter (@FrancineRivers).

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Precious Moments 40th Anniversary & Review

What do you think of when you hear the company, Precious Moments? I think of how beloved their figurines are and how meaningful they are to the people who have them. The little faces of the sweet characters, whether they're from the birthday train, celebrating a wedding, or just because, they just warm the heart. I was so delighted to be able to share my memories of having them and collecting them since the early 1990s for this review.



The year I was married to my first husband, we found a wonderful tree topper that was a Precious Moments angel. We used her for years until I passed her on to my daughter. My mom got in on the action and started doing a collection of yearly mini plates, bells, and figurines for each of my daughters. Let me just say, they have quite the collection. Then my former mother-in-law started collecting them for me and giving me a new figurine every Christmas!

This is the Precious Moments BIG 40th Anniversary! I feel like they've been around for a lot longer. They're such collectors items that you'd think they were celebrating 100 yrs. It's wonderful being able to celebrate such a wonderful anniversary with them!


See what I mean? Everyone knows how sweet these figurines are and they make the sweetest gift! When I had the opportunity to do a review, I wasn't sure what I wanted to review, that would be meaningful to me. At first I was going to do this adorable wedding figurine for my daughter's upcoming wedding, but since I already had a gift for her, I decided to get something for myself.


I love my garden. It's my place of peacefulness and relaxation. I spend most of my time in the garden reflecting and talking to the Lord. Sometimes I try to solve all of the problems in my life as I pull the weeds in my garden.


One thing lacking in my garden is anything decorative. Up until now I didn't have any statues or garden decor. If I was going to add something, I wanted it to "add" to it, not distract from it. Yea I'm a bit picky about my flower garden. HA! After searching for the perfect way to start, I found the "Faithful and Feathered Feeder", Bird Feeder.


The bird feeder has just the right spot at the corner of the garden. Earlier this spring I had to pull out a plant that didn't make it this year. That left the corner of my garden open with just dirt. There wasn't a good transition and this filled that spot wonderfully!


Watching birds come to a feeder is incredibly relaxing so having this sweet feeder included in my garden brings a smile to my face every time I see it. Now, the only thing I have to do is add sand so that it'll be sturdy in case some rogue squirrels try to get to the bird seed.


We'll have to figure out a way to drain any water that might collect from rain. I was talking to the hubby about it and he has some ideas on how to do that. All I need is seed all over the ground. lol I'm looking forward to enjoying this bird feeder in the years to come!

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Hersheypark Birthday Fun

My baby, my youngest child turned 15 on June 2nd. I don't even know how that's possible. To say time flies is putting it mildly. I mean, we're almost halfway through 2018!!! I've been so busy lately with work, having my daughter's wedding on my mind, and life in general, planning something for his birthday kept getting pushed off. I finally reached out to Hersheypark to see if we could work together and thankfully (and graciously) agreed! That means this post is sponsored by them.



Speaking of last minute, I also told my hubby it would be awesome if his dad could come with us. He made a phone call to see if Pap could come, and with a few arrangements he agreed! I went online and got him a ticket. Let's talk tickets really quick. Through June 30 if you purchase your tickets you get the kids price. What I like about buying tickets online is that the ticket is valid all summer!


We grabbed Pap since he's not too far from Hershey, PA, and got up to the park around noon. Next time we're staying up there because we always get a late start thanks to me. I'm the person who wants to be at the amusement park when the gates open until they close! I think they're meant to be enjoyed and soaked in as much as possible.


Since we were heading up to Hersheypark for my son's birthday, I wanted the kids to be able to take in as many of the rides and enjoy the waterpark as much as possible. Instead of doing my usual planning of our rides, I let it all play out and the boys chose where to go. Pap and I did a lot of people watching and I took lots of pictures of the rides. I love that this park has something for everyone. He and I went on the Tea Cups and Carrousel. The guys started their rides in The Hallow with the Comet and Skyrush rollercoasters. Fred didn't go to the Super Dooper Looper with the boys, but came to find Pap and I who had been getting drinks, an ice cream cone, and a King Size Shake!


From there we headed to the Boardwalk & Water Rides. We ran across the Hersheypark Band as we walked to the rides. Wow were they fun to watch! They have two new rides this year: Breakers EdgeSM Water Coaster and WhitecapSM Racer. There's so much to do there, and thankfully it's included in your park admission! Pap & I grabbed a couple of low chairs to do some people watching. You can't really watch the Coaster ride, but the Racer is great to wait at the bottom to see who comes out first. Before getting on the Racer, be sure to grab your wrist bracelets. That's how they can keep track of your speed down the ride. Jacob's friend, Aaron, ended up in 2nd place for the day! While the boys and Pap relaxed for a bit, Fred and I went around the Intercoastal Waterway. It was so relaxing.



In case you have little kids, there are a TON of rides for the wee ones. To start you can go to the Bayside Pier with water no deeper than 18". The East Coast Waterworks is a super fun place for the kids to find adventure. Sandcastle Cove is a wonderful place to explore and play in water. Lastly the Shoreline Sprayground is a great place to get wet with sprays, fountains, and jets.



The boys had changed while Fred & I were going around the Waterway so while I changed, the two older boys did the Sidewinder and then the Storm Runner. Those are two rides that would have me losing my cookies. hahahaha



After those two rides, we were all hungry for dinner so we headed to Hersheypark Place. We chose that location because they will celebrate birthdays if you let them know about it, which Pap did! Man am I good at training the men in my life! So, at the end of the meal, they brought my youngest a sundae and sang to him. What a fantastic way to spend your 15th birthday!



With dinner over, the boys headed to a few more rides and Pap insisted Fred & I get our portraits done by an artist. Fred went first and I went shopping! Listen, I needed to find a way to spend my time. Besides, it started raining, and I wanted to be dry for my portrait. I got my Doodle a t-shirt for him to remember his day and then went to the S. Claus & Co. Gift Shop. Every year when we go to an amusement park I purchase an ornament for Christmas. This year's won't include Fred or me because the most "characters" I could find on an ornament was 8 and we'd 9 since we have the privilege of adding my future son-in-law this year. I went with a 7 character one and just put all of the kids' names on them.



I went back to get my portrait done, and the boys were heading back from their rides. The gal who did it was incredible and really captured both of us. The boys never had the chance to get on the Great Bear roller coaster. Even though the rain had stopped they didn't start the ride again. The boys were bummed, but they had such an incredible day, they didn't complain.


I'm already dreaming of when we can go back. I can't wait and we have a lot of summer birthdays! I think any excuse would work: birthday, anniversary, it's summer, it's a warm day, it's Tues (or whatever day you want to insert), etc. I hope you have the chance to get up there this summer and have as much fun as we did.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

The Wounded Shadow By Patrick W. Carr

The Wounded Shadow
by Patrick W. Carr
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 9780764213489

When I saw book 3 of The Darkwater Saga available for review from Bethany House, I didn't even think about it. I requested it! I'd been waiting for almost a year and a half for the next book. What I didn't realize? It was the last book in the series. Cue the silent sobbing!

Summary:

The Final Battle over the Darkwater Has Begun. Will Anything Be Able to Stop the Evil Sweeping across the North?

The kings and queens of the northern continent lay siege to the Darkwater Forest, frantic to contain its evil. But rumors of gold and aurium have lured deserters and the reckless into its shadow, creating a growing army that can see in the dark and fight like the gifted. Desperate after the death and dissolution of their greatest ally, Willet and the rest of the Vigil seek the truth of what lies at the heart of the evil they face. They delve the mind of an ancient enemy and find an answer far worse and more unimaginable than they had feared. 

But while they seek to understand their past and peril, danger stalks the cities of the north striking at the rulers of the kingdoms. As Willet and the rest of the Vigil search for answers, the Vigil is scattered with an ever-growing darkness around them. They must discover a path to keep their land safe or risk losing the world.

My Review:

I know that Christian fantasy is different than what I normally read, but I actually grew up reading secular fantasy novels. Now, unlike the first two books where I was confused the first couple of chapters, I dove into The Wounded Shadow and didn't want to put the book down.

As with any great adventure, our heroes are sent in different directions trying to find ways to stop the evil coming from the Darkwater Forest. As each group is traveling, I found myself loving their apprentices as much as they unexpectedly do. If it were acceptable, my review would say, "Oh my gosh, and then they did 'this' and it was so cool" "and they did 'this' and it was incredible" "then I got to 'this' part and wow" because I was so deeply involved in the story as I was reading.

I don't know why but the north continent came alive this time more than with the other books. Actually, I want to go back and re-read the first 3 books (incl the prequel) because I feel like I'd have such a better understanding of what is going on. I've also told my 15 yr old son to hurry up and finish the series he's currently reading so he can read the Darkwater Saga and we can talk about it.

There's not a character who stuck out to me more than the rest for who I liked the best. I loved Gael, Willet's love and protector. She's so fierce! And I still think Bolt rates pretty high up there for me. His sarcasm and exasperation with Willet never ceases to amuse me. Of the urchins, I think Rory is the one who's storyline I enjoyed the most. Honestly, I loved everyone, including Toria Deel.

Have you ever read a book or a series and you enjoyed getting to know the world, country, or town so much that you wanted more, then you'll know what I mean when I say that's how I feel about the world Patrick Carr has created. Ok, so the series is over, please bring us back there so we can enjoy other adventures!!! I also have some questions for the author. Maybe he could skip ahead a couple of generations and we can get to know the urchins all grown up and children of people we know. While I'm sad to leave this series behind, I'm going to start The Staff and the Sword series next! Thank goodness I have A Cast of Stones already.

About the Author:

Patrick W. Carr is the author of the acclaimed fantasy series The Staff and the Sword. A Cast of Stones won the 2014 Carol Award for Speculative Fiction and the 2014 Clive Staples Award. A Cast of Stones and The Hero's Lot were both finalists for 2014 Christy Awards. He teaches high school math and makes his home in Nashville, Tennessee, with his incredible wife, Mary, and their four sons. Learn more at www.patrickwcarr.com.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Disney's Peter Pan 65th Anniversary - Blu-Ray & DVD

Does your family love Disney movies as much as mine? You can't be a classic like Peter Pan! I'm trying to wrap my brain around how it can be having it's 65th Anniversary! It seemed brand new when I was a child. I loved it as a child and was thrilled to share it with my kids as they were growing up. When I was given the opportunity to get a copy of the movie to enjoy again with the Anniversary Edition, I couldn't pass it up.


Of course, after visiting Disney World nearly a year ago, I fell in love with Tinkerbell all over again! She might not be a princess, but she's a fierce little fairy, and that's the way I like her. That makes me all the more excited to watch this movie again. It's been a number of years since we've seen it.


Now that I think about it, I'll have to talk with the neighbors because they love doing neighborhood movie nights and this would be perfect! Their kids are a completely different generation than my kids so I'm guessing this would be a new movie to most of them. First, you can't go wrong with classic Disney movies, and second, we're talking Peter Pan so no matter your age (or your child's age) you'll love it!


Bonus Features:
BLU-RAY & DIGITAL*:
New Signature Collection Bonus



  • Stories from Walt’s Office: Walt & Flight – “Think of the happiest things, it’s the same as having wings”. One thing you’ll notice inside Walt Disney’s office are all of the models and pictures of airplanes. Walt loved planes and was an aficionado of flying. As a continuation of the “Stories from Walt’s Office” series, we’ll soar into the world of one of Walt’s favorite pastimes and look at the history behind the company airplane he used to scout Central Florida looking for the perfect place to build his second theme park. 
  • A “Darling” Conversation with Wendy & John: Kathryn Beaumont and Paul Collins – Join Disney Legend Kathryn Beaumont (the voice of Wendy) and Paul Collins (the voice of John) as they reunite for the first time in many years to reminisce and discuss their experiences working on Peter Pan, meeting Walt Disney and learning to fly … literally. 
  • You Can Fly” – A new “Oke” rendition and graphic look of the classic Disney song, “You Can Fly,” with fun lyrics on screen and lots of your favorite “Peter Pan” characters.
  • “Never Smile at a Crocodile” – A new “Oke” rendition and graphic look of the deleted song, “Never Smile at a Crocodile”, with fun lyrics on screen and highlighting the relationship between Captain Hook and Tick- Tock the Crocodile.

Legacy/Classic Bonus
  • DisneyView
  • Sing-along Version of the film: Sing along with your favorite songs from the movie.
  • Growing Up with Nine Old Men – “Peter Pan is both a story of living with a child’s sense of openness to the world and an acknowledgement that the path to adulthood most often leads away from those qualities. A parallel of sorts to that duality can be found in Walt Disney and his core group of animators, the Nine Old Men, in their lives and in their work. Our short film will look at who they were and the parts they played in one of the most remarkable team of artists that ever worked together.
  • Deleted Song: “The Pirate’s Song” – Original demo recording of the song played over concept art.
  • Deleted Song: “Never Smile at a Crocodile” – With music played over static concept art of the crocodile from Pater Pan.
  • Deleted Song: “The Boatswain Song” – With music played over static concept art of Captain Hook and his crew.
  • Deleted Scene: “The Journey Home” – A proposed alternate ending where Peter asks the Lost Boys to return home with Wendy and the other children.
  • Deleted Scene: “Alternate Arrival” – A deleted scene where Wendy and the children are initially attacked by the Lost Boys because Tinker Bell tells them that Wendy is holding Peter captive. We also see in this version of the story that Nana the dog travels to Never Land with Wendy and the children.
  • Disney Song Select – Simply play the clip from the movie with subtitles underneath it.
    • “The Second Star to the Right
    • “You Can Fly”
    • “A Pirate’s Life”
    • “Following the Leader”
    • “Your Mother and Mine”
  • Audio Commentary Hosted by Roy Disney – Audio commentary hosted by Roy Disney, but carried on by several other people.

  • Music and More
    • ”Never Land”: The Lost Song – A bonus piece that sets up the backstory of where this lost song was found and how Richard Sherman recomposed it.
    • Music Video: “Never Land” – Music Performed by Paige O’Hara – A music video of the song “Never Land”
    • Music Video: “The Second Star to the Right” – Music Performed by T-Squad – A music video of the song “The Second Star to the Right” performed by T-Squad.
  • Backstage Disney
    • You Can Fly: The Making of ‘Peter Pan – A making-of video of the 1953 Disney classic, “Peter Pan.”
    • In Walt’s Words: “Why I Made ‘Peter Pan’” – Based upon an article written by Walt Disney retold as a dramatic recreation.
    • Tinker Bell: A Fairy’s Tale – An introspective video on the creation, history and personality of the one and only “Tink.”
    • The Peter Pan That Almost Was – Hosted by Ron Clements and John Musker, we take a look at the storyboards and early concepts of a version of the “Peter Pan” film that never saw the light of day.
    • The “Peter Pan” Story – An original featurette for the film created in 1952.
In time for movie night, be sure you print all of the activity pages for your kids to enjoy! What a great way to kick off summer. Here is a sample of what you'll find. How can you resist?



 
Creative Commons License
Woven by Words by Mimi B is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.