Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The Tinderbox By Beverly Lewis

The Tinderbox
by Beverly Lewis
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 9780764232831

One of the things I like most about my days is when book mail comes! When I received The Tinderbox from Bethany House for review, it was an excellent day!

Summary:

I've marveled at Dat's ability to accept the Old Ways so readily, considering his modern upbringing. Mamma says it's like he was born to be Amish. Maybe so, but all the same, I wished I knew something more about his past.With her parents' twentieth anniversary approaching, eighteen-year-old Sylvia Miller finds her father's cherished brass tinderbox left unlocked. Against her better judgment, Sylvia opens the heirloom, not realizing that what she is about to discover will splinter apart her happy life and alter everything for her close-knit Old Order Amish family. As the long-kept secret emerges into the light of day, can the Millers find a way forward through the turmoil to a place of forgiveness?

My Review:

I can't tell you how long it's been since I've read any Amish genre. You'd think with our visits up to Lancaster country I'd have devoured all of them. Beverly Lewis is definitely my favorite author in this genre. Reading The Tinderbox was like wrapping myself in one of her beloved quilts.

This book was different than what I'm used to with Amish fiction. It was a fresh twist on how Englischers fit into the Plain world. Earnest has been part of the Plain world for 20 years. It's clear as we read the story that he's fit in perfectly with their ways. When his daughter Sylvia opens up the tinderbox that's she's wondered about since she was little, she has no idea what is about to happen. I think we've all been there, right? We think we want to know about something, and once we do we wish we could give back what we know and never think of it again.

Of course this comes at the same time she becomes engaged to Titus, the preacher Kauffman's son. There's really never a good time for your world to spin out of control, but at this time in her life is when Sylvia would want it the least.  As she gets to know Titus better, we get to watch their engagement unfold. Can I just say for the record that I really liked Sylvia's insight as she gets to know him better. I also love her (and the other ladies) interaction with the Wise Woman, Ella Mae.

Now we can't talk about this The Tinderbox without talking about Earnest and Rosalind. When we meet them, they've been together for 20 yrs. You can feel the adoration and love between them. It's so sad how secrets can come to light and how destructive they can be. In an Englischer world, the secrets might not have the same impact, but in the Amish world they can be life changing. I thought my heart was going to break numerous times as I read this story and watched the Miller family work through the past.

I read this book in just a few days. The busyness of life sometimes gets in the way of my reading. I thoroughly enjoyed the characters and the writing. There are twists and turns that you just aren't expecting and will keep you on the edge of your seat. I was happy to get to the end of the story and read that the conclusion to it will be out in September. It's called The Timepiece. I'm looking forward to it!

About The Author:

Beverly Lewis (beverlylewis.com), born in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country, has more than 17 million books in print. Her stories have been published in 12 languages and have regularly appeared on numerous bestseller lists, including the New York Times and USA Today. Beverly and her husband, David, live in Colorado, where they enjoy hiking, biking, making music, and spending time with their family.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Around The World Embassy Tour

The first Saturday of May was the Around the World Embassy Tour in Washington D.C. Did you know that there are typically a gazillion things going on that same day? Goodness! I have been wanting to visit these embassies for the past couple years, but we've always been so busy on that day. We were even busy this Saturday with my daughter and her husband being in town, but I made a point to have a half day at the event.


Having never been on this free tour, I had no idea what to expect, but I knew that it would be packed. Little did I know it there were more people than I could've imagined.


Our first stop was the most meaningful one to me. We went to Peru! I would say it's not a surprise to anyone. There was quite the line to get in, but it went surprisingly fast. And when I say fast, I think it took us about a half an hour to get through the line and to walk through the embassy. Also, the Peru embassy is at the far end of this tour. So, it was our starting point.

The Ambassador's office


I was imagining how many people have touched
this door handle over the years!

Next to Peru was Trinidad & Tobago. It was so fabulous to walk by and hear the steel drums. Across the street was the Philippines, but we were on a mission to get to the hub of the other embassies we wanted to visit. The great part about our walk to the bulk of the embassies we visited is we passed the  Information Station where I was able to meet the media people for Passport D.C. and got a media pass.


Now, since the Around the World Embassy Tour was free what the media pass did was get Fred and I through the lines. We didn't have to wait. As much of a difference that made, out of the 51 embassies participating today, we only visited 6. Five really because there wasn't much to do at The Republic of Kenya.

Our next stop with the Tour was at The Republic of India. This was their first time participating in the AWET. We didn't see it, but they were doing yoga demonstrations as well as dancing and music. From there we headed to the next 4 embassies we were planning to visit.



We got to Kenya and found that visitors were only able to be outside in a common area where people were selling a variety of cultural items. Across the street was the Guatemalan Embassy so we figured we'd pop in there to see what they had going on. They had beautiful displays of fruit and outside they were selling cultural items.


Next we headed to the Korean Cultural Center. This was probably my favorite embassy to tour. I think it was because they had SO much going on. It wasn't a quick peek inside and then you were done. After you walked through the embassy they had some games you could learn and a few things for kids to do. From there as you walked behind the building, they had dancers as well as music. There were also 2 rows of tents to interact with people doing a variety of activities. We didn't have time, but they were writing things in Korean at one of the spots. I just really liked how they immersed you in their culture.


Our last stop, if I remember correctly, was Haiti. People were leaving Haiti with really cool, colorful straw hats. This was an embassy you really got to walk through as well. In one room they had a large painting for everyone to add to. As we were leaving, a volunteer gave us some plain straw hats saying lots of people were taking multiples. What was funny about the hats was, the tags said, "Made in Vietnam." lol


I was sad we had to leave half way through he day, but since we had other plans I was glad we had a chance to even spend part of our day there. I'll have some tips coming up on how to plan your visit in case you decide to take the Tour next year. It's well worth your day and I would highly recommend it!

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Awesome Con 2019

Last year was super busy at this time of year and we wren't able to get back to Awesome Con. Watching all of the coverage definitely made us keep our schedule clear so that we could go this year. We were able to get Press Passes thanks to Awesome Con and we couldn't wait to go!

Awesome Con, in case you've never attended it's the Washington D.C.'s Comic Con. If you love comics, movies, tv shows, gaming, etc, this is the place for you. They literally seem to cover every conceivable angle at this Con! And if you love cosplay, you will love all of the costumes you see over this 3 day event.


Jacob and I spent all day Friday at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. We got there around 11:30am and lasted until about 5:30pm. It's so great getting there early on Friday because the people are slowly trickling in.

We didn't have an agenda, but Jacob knew that he wanted to try to find the artist who did his Arrow picture. He also wanted to see Danielle Panabaker. She is from the The Flash tv show. I think I remember her from Hers, Mine, and Ours. lol Other than that, we were just excited to be able to see every thing Con related.

We started off at the Backlot with the 80th Anniversary of Batman. It had props from all of the Batman movies. That was pretty fascinating to to walk through. Seeing all of the outfits from the Batman movies (and judging each actor as we did) really got our excitement going for the rest of what Awesome Con had for us.


From there the crowds were starting to come in and we headed for Artist Alley to see if we could find the artist Jacob likes. We literally went up and down every aisle checking out the artists. There were a couple that we both got to meet and were new fans of. Unfortunately we didn't find his artist.


That section spills into the merchandise area which is huge. Anything your mind could imagine is probably something that could be found in this section. From LEGO figurines to light sabers to unicorn socks. Everything under the sun is there. Connected to the merchandise section is Future Con and Awesome Con Jr. I love that this area is so kid friendly!


We made our way back to the opposite end of the Exhibit Hall to see where the guests would be. We caught a glimpse of Lou Ferrigno, Wallace Shawn, and Kate Flannery. I got in line to see Kevin Sorbo because he was in the first God's Not Dead and he's from Minnesota so...

Jacob and I decided to go to a panel so we had to walk through the entire convention center to get to it. We saw the gaming area and planned to check it out after the panel. The program was called "A Galaxy With/Without Jedi". There were 2 women and 3 men with different knowledge of Star Wars. It never ceases to amaze me how much knowledge super fans have of these subjects. The people in the audience laughed and responded to the things they said so clearly we were in a room of those same kinds of fans, including Jacob.


After the panel was finished we checked out the Gaming area. It's basically a huge room with a variety of games you can play that are all stacked on a rack as well as times throughout the day to play specific games. Across the hall they had a video gaming area. That was pretty amazing. Lots of games that we'd never heard of as well as a whole wall of arcade games! They had one of those dance competition "games" set up. Ah, if only my sister-in-law were there! lol


We finally went back into the exhibit hall and after wandering up and down the artist rows to try and find the guy he had been wanting to find again. I finally went to an artist whose work was similar to the other artist, but on a much smaller scale. He thankfully knew exactly who I was talking about and they told us where to find him. He was tucked away in a section we didn't realize we hadn't been to at the back of the exhibit hall. Needless to say, I was relieved and my son was elated!

After we got the Flash colored in as much as Jacob wanted, we went over to see if Danielle Panabaker was around yet. She was, but she was just leaving!!! hahahaha Thankfully Jacob was able to get her autograph on his poster. Mission successful!


Overall we had a fun time at Awesome Con. I know Jacob will want to go back and probably dress in Cosplay. Already looking forward to next year, costumes, and more panels!

Jacob's review:

It was my first to attending Awesome Con, and it was an amazing convention that I’ll definitely be visiting again. There were so many amazing artists and writers there that I was able to interact with and admire their work.


We saw some amazing cosplay, I think my favorite had to be a man walking around as Deathstroke. I think next time I’ll have to attend in cosplay myself! It was just as awesome seeing all the past Batman suits used throughout the movies.


I think the longest part of the day was searching for Cory Smith; a black and white artist who draws amazingly nerdy characters. I had received one of his print drawings of Stephen Amell’s Arrow, so I thought it would be perfect to grab one of his Flash drawings. Afterward, asking Danielle Panabaker, who plays Caitlin Snow on CW’s The Flash, to autograph it. It was a great way to end the day.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Mother's Day With Precious Moments

How in the world is it May? I feel like it should still be March. Anyone else with me? When someone  in the family asked me what I wanted for for Mother's Day I asked when it was. lol I wasn't even paying attention to that it was already that time of year.

When Precious Moments reached out to me asking me to share about their figurines, how could I resist? They had two that would be perfect for a young boy or girl to give to their mom. Since my kids are grown I decided I'd review the "My Favorite People Call Me Grandma".


Why would I choose that one? Did you know I'm a grandma? I am. My step-daughter has 2 boys who are absolutely loves! Her oldest son is 14 and her youngest son is 8! I think if they were to get me a gift, this Precious Moments figurine would be the place to start.


Just like this figurine, I hope I'm one of those hip and fun grandmas! I would never want my grandkids to think I was old and crabby. lol I certainly wouldn't look as delightful as this "grandma" does. This "My Favorite People Call Me Grandma" is a bisque porcelain figurine that stands about 5.5 inches high.


She's wearing an adorable, pink sweater with a matching blue scarf. And don't you want to have a grandma who wears faux diamond studded glasses? This grandma has also accessorized with pink "pearls" and handbag that says, "Grandma Life". I can't wait until I can live the full time grandma life. It's hard to do all the way in Maryland. Let me tell you what, I have plans and those plans involve loving hard on my grand babies!


With Mother's Day just around the corner this figurine would be the perfect gift! You can also keep it in mind for Grandparent's Day or for your favorite grandma's birthday! Do you have a gift picked out yet? If not, Precious Moments has the best gift ideas. Visiting their site it looks like you can 20% on select items through 5/8. Restrictions apply. So many adorable options to choose from!

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Adopt A Shelter Pet Day!


April 30th is Adopt A Shelter Pet Day! I'm sure you've seen and read that our family has adopted 3 pets from our local SPCA over the past 5 yrs. Our first adoption was Peru, an American Bulldog. Our next adoption was Batman a couple years later. We had lost one of our older cats (she was 17) and Simba was alone, which we didn't want. Then Simba passed away at the age of about 15 so Batman was alone. He is a rambunctious cat so I wanted to get a kitten, but when we went to the SPCA none of the kittens seemed to be what we were looking for.



We did meet an older, chunky cat named Willow. She had come into the SPCA a month earlier and spent that month at a foster home. She was 20 lbs when she showed up, but by the time she made it back to the shelter she was down to 14 lbs! I found out that she'd had a lot of applications and that our chances were pretty slim that we'd get her. We went back the next day so the rest of the family could meet her "just in case". I couldn't believe it, but the next day I got the call that she was ours!


Have you been thinking about adopting a puppy or a kitten? My friends at Purina asked me to share these reminders as you consider expanding your family with a fur baby.

  • Consider your lifestyle. Take some time to truly evaluate your lifestyle and how much time and space you can dedicate to your new pet. If you’re not home very often, or don’t have space, a large breed dog may not be for you. Purina’s Breed Finder walks you through a series of questions to help identify the right dog breed for your lifestyle. 
  • Know your resources. Online resources such as the Petfinder offer plenty of tools to help guide you through this important decision and can help you locate the perfect adoptable friend for your family.

  • Make sure your new pet will have his (or her) nutritional needs met. Like people, puppies and kittens benefit from a complete and balanced diet – helping set the stage for a lifetime of health. Dr. Brian Zagnhi, DvM, Research Nutritionist at Purina encourages new pet owners to look for foods that have the right balance of nutrients like DHA to promote brain and vision development, and encourages new pet owners to look for puppy and kitten specific formulas with “complete and balanced” on the packaging, meaning it has the right blend of proteinfat and carbohydrates. Nearly half of pet owners dive right into buying adult pet food for their little furballs, and it’s not the recommended choice.

  • Puppy/kitten-proof your home. Welcoming a new pet into your home can come with some growing pains, but you can make the transition easier with a little prep work. Look for items that can help make your pet comfortable, while deterring potentially destructive behavior. Scratching posts, puppy pads, chew toys and a heap of patience can go a long way.
  • Check out gadgets to help ease into pet parenthood. Consider an automated feeder, which creates a slow release of food at various times throughout the day – helpful for pets who are eager eaters and pet owners committed to following feeding guidelines to keep their pet at an ideal weight. For cats, you can make things more interesting for them by creating a puzzle feeder, a great way to fulfill your cat’s instinctual desire for the pursuit of food.

Something else to consider is the cost. One of the questions that we're asked when we apply for a shelter pet is something along the lines of how much we think it's going to cost yearly to care for our new pet. You have to consider that you have their food, toys, and vet visits, but even more than that, what if there's an emergency? Not only an emergency, but on a Saturday night after hours. That won't be a cheap visit and are you prepared have the willingness to know that cost will be high?

Getting a new pet to join the family is one of the most fun you can have! Be sure to find the right one that will fit your family. Do the research you need to be sure you make the best decision possible for everyone included. Good luck and have an exciting time rescuing whichever animal you decide on!

Monday, April 29, 2019

Christmas In April - A Volunteer Opportunity

This past Saturday our church had the chance to join an organization called Christmas in April (CIA). This was the first time we've participated as we're new to the church. Our church serves a lot of individuals and families in Calvert County. Our church had the opportunity of serving by helping do repairs at 5 homes.


I was put on a team with Pastor Robert, his 2 sons, 2 other men from church and my oldest son. I had no idea what this experience was going to look like because I didn't know what skills the pastor had or the 2 guys who were with us. Our task at this house was to install a door and gutters.


We headed to North Beach to check out the task ahead of us. One of the guys, Ben, was someone I hadn't met before. Jason is a guy I've talked with a few times since he heads up our Greeting team. We arrived at the home and the homeowner brought us around to the back of the house to show us what needed to be done.

I was selected to run to the local hardware store to get some painting supplies for the door & frame, work gloves, silicon, and some drain tile. We actually made a few trips to the hardware store as well came up as we were working on the project. Thank goodness we were only a few minutes away from the store. Each home was allocated about $100 from CIA for supplies. Thankfully we came in much lower than that.


It was great being able to get the door painted, installed, and the gutters up for this family. The door had to be replaced because the homeowner had no gutters so the water was rotting the wood so hopefully that problem will be resolved. We didn't have enough gutter to cover the entire back of the house, but the owner said the family had old gutters they could put up at a later time on the areas we weren't able to do.


One of the things I appreciated was watching the pastor teach my son how to do what needed to be done. Pastor Robert's boys (one 14 and the other a preteen) both got into the job and went to town. It was clear he's been teaching them construction skills for a while! Watching him explain to Jacob about installing the door was terrific. Who knew the pastor was also a handyman?!


During my 2nd trip to the hardware store the guys cut 2 holes in the deck so that the water from the gutters would go under the deck instead of spilling over onto it. This will definitely help keep the home in good shape!


I definitely wish I could've gone to each house to see the work everyone was doing. It was wonderful hearing about the repairs that were done: windows installed, water heaters replaced, clean up, and so much more.

I'm already looking forward to participating next year!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

The Job Search Continues

The past month has been pretty frustrating. It's been 5 weeks since I was let go from my last job. It hasn't been going as well as I had hoped. When you work in Influencer Marketing you realize what a small industry it is once you don't have a job.

I tried to do what most people suggested this time. I decided to network. I'm not comfortable trying to sell myself to others. I've reached out to pretty much all of the Influencer Marketing companies I'm aware of. I've also been applying to jobs that have what looks like a strong need for social media help. Honestly, it gets discouraging applying to job after job and either not hearing back or reading that the company has decided to pursue other candidates.

There are a lot of industries that require degrees and it seems like most of the social media type jobs also want someone who has marketing, graphic design, or some sort of analytics experience/degree. They want someone who does it all. You should know HTML, SEO, Adobe, Management, marketing, design, copywriting, etc.


It's been a huge blessing to have so many people in the Influencer Marketing world who know me and have been passing along jobs they find. I've gotten so many messages from people I've worked with in the past. They've been an incredible encouragement. So far none of the leads have gotten me anywhere, but at least they're rooting for me!

One of the perks of my last two jobs is that they've both been remote. I haven't had to go into an office. It's given me the freedom to work from anywhere, which has allowed me the opportunity to go back to Minnesota every July. My boys and I drive out there. Jacob is now only staying about a week, but my youngest volunteers at a camp. I can go get him every weekend to give him the opportunity to spend time with friends and family. I'm not sure that will be possibility this year, and that will be a very difficult pill to swallow.


I'm hoping that I can find a job locally that will give me the option of going into an office occasionally and have the option of working remotely. I mean, it's the best of both worlds. I can go in to an office and interact with people, but still be able to go to Minnesota for a month.

In the meantime I'll keep applying to jobs that seem like they'll be a good fit and applying weekly to my unemployment. Maybe one of my connections from networking will be the golden ticket. If you have any suggestions, I'm open to hearing them! You can find me on LinkedIn and message me.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Danny Gokey Pop Up Concert

About a week ago I found out that Danny Gokey was going to be at our previous church, Chesapeake Christian Fellowship. 95.1 Shine FM was bringing him to the church to do a Q&A with him and having him sing for the audience. I was super excited until I realized it was the same night as my Bible Study Fellowship. Since I wasn't able to go, I got tickets for my boys to go.

My oldest son decided not to go and I wasn't sure how I was going to get my youngest there and back so I decided I would use my oldest's ticket and miss Bible study. Not what I wanted to do, but realized that this was where I was going to be.


It was kind of a rush to get dressed, get out the door, and get to the church in time to get a good seat. That meant I didn't eat. My stomach was growling for dinner by the time we were standing in line. lol There was no way I was getting out of line to go grab something to eat so everyone around me was just going to have to deal with my loud, growling stomach.

Now, I haven't been back to CCF since we moved churches back in December with Fred's new job. It was like a mini church family reunion. Seeing so many of my brothers and sisters in Christ who I absolutely love just filled my heart to overflowing!

We got in and grabbed our seats, but my youngest ended up going to sit with one of his friends. Turned out ok, even though I thought we were going to have bonding time over the music we love. One of our young adults who we adore came and sat with me and our time together before the concert was so blessed.


Danny came out to do an on-air session with Jack and Erin from 95.1 Shine FM. They chatted for a while, answering listeners questions. After they were off the air, the 3 of them sat at the front of the stage and talked with the audience. This was probably my favorite part of the concert.

I knew that Danny had been on American Idol and that his first wife had passed away just before he auditioned for the show. I have to admit that I don't watch the show so didn't know anything about his time on there. It was incredible to hear his testimony and learn more about his faith. Having never heard anything other than his songs, I had no clue about how much of an impact his faith had in his life. I tell you what, he could easily be a preacher. He knows how to share about the Lord!


Now, this wasn't one of his full blown concerts. He only had his keyboard player with him. Apparently when he "brings the funk" he's got all kind of instruments. Without having all of that there he was limited to what he could sing. Thankfully he sang Come Back, Hope In Front Of Me, Rise, and Haven't Seen It Yet. Then he played a song that he and Mandisa recorded together called Tell Somebody. It was so incredible. I'm so excited for his album to release and for the rest of the songs to be played on the radio. The other songs he sang with us were worship songs.

I want to encourage you to listen to one of his newest songs. It is beyond incredible. The song is called Wanted. The lyrics are powerful beyond belief. If you've been in dark places, know that YOU are wanted. That God was right there with you in that place. You were never alone. You will never be alone. When he sang this song, I was DONE! More that I was un-done! Powerful my friends.


As soon as Danny walked off the stage I was up, out of my seat, into the foyer to find the line to get the CD signed. I had to text the youngest to come find me because I was the first person in line. Only sad part was we weren't allowed to take pictures because he had to get going. I gave the kiddo the CD so he was able to get the autograph and shake his hand. I just moved out of the way. Yes, I did. I'm one of those people who would've just stood there just wanting to connect. hahahaha I'm not the type to fangirl, but I'm a people person and I like chit-chatting. He didn't have time for that so I just moved right along.

I'll definitely have to make plans to see him in concert because we've got to hear him bring the funk!

Monday, April 8, 2019

Far Side Of The Sea By Kate Breslin

Far Side of the Sea
by Kate Breslin
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 9780764217821

It's been a bit quiet around the house when it comes to book reading. I've been so busy doing so many other things, I've had to be intentional with my books. Can you even believe I'm saying those words? Thankfully I received Far Side of the Sea from Bethany House to be able to kick me into gear again!

Summary:

In 1918 England, Lieutenant Colin Mabry spends his days decoding messages for MI8 after suffering injuries at the front. When he receives an urgent summons by carrier pigeon from Jewel Reyer--a woman who saved his life and whom he believed to be dead--he can only hope he'll regain the courage he lost on the front lines as he's driven back into war-torn France. 

But Jewel isn't the one waiting for him in Paris. Instead, it is a stranger who claims to be her half sister, Johanna, who works at a dovecote for French Army Intelligence. She found Jewel's diary and believes her sister is alive and in the custody of a German agent. With spies everywhere, Colin is at first skeptical of Johanna, but as they travel across France and Spain, a tentative trust grows.

That trust is quickly put to the test, however, when their pursuit leads them straight into the midst of a treacherous plot and their search for answers quickly turns into a battle for their lives.


My Review:

This was my first novel by author Kate Breslin. What a great way to start off with her! Far Side of the Sea is book that you read slowly to take in all of the detail. It's not a slow read in the sense that the book is slow, but the author's writing is so detailed that as the reader you take it all in and feel like you're right there with the characters. Her book took me longer to read (NOT in a bad way because of that). It's not that often I have the pleasure of reading a book that is so vivid in description.

Have I whet your appetite for this novel? I sure hope so because that was the intent. lol

Another aspect of this story that I enjoyed was the suspense of who is who. Who can be trusted? Who is the enemy? I tried to pretend like a sleuth as the story began, trying to figure out Johanna is, but quickly realized I was going to have to wait until I got to the end of the story to know for sure. Don't think I was tempted on more than one occasion to cheat and check out a few of the last pages! Alas, I refrained.

PTSD wasn't a label back in this time, but it's clear that Colin Mabry is suffering from it. He dealt with so much at such a young age. You can almost sense his reactions as he heads into the danger area of Paris in search of Jewel Reyer. Every time raids come, his reaction is palpable.

While I was fascinated by Johanna, I was also leery of her as well. Is she Jewel's half sister? Is she a spy? What I was fascinated with was learning about the dovecote handlers. The detail of how the carrier pigeons worked during the was was completely new to me. I think it's probably a lost skill, training the birds.

The intrigue and espionage starts at the beginning of the story and brings the reader along for quite the adventure.  I have to admit, when they head to Spain in search of Jewel, I was a bit excited as I've been there before. As you get further into the story, if you're anything like me, you'll be thinking, "Did THAT just happen?" I don't even know how many times I thought, "Wait, what?!" hahahaha Can you tell I enjoyed this book?

I'm going to have to go read Not by Sight since that's the novel where we're introduced to Colin Mabry. It's the story of his sister, Grace and his friend (and boss) Jack Benningham.

About the Author:

Kate Breslin

A Florida girl who migrated to the Pacific Northwest, Kate Breslin was a bookseller for many years. She is a Carol Award winner and a RITA and Christy Award finalist and lives with her husband in Seattle, Washington. Find her online at www.katebreslin.com.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

The Memory House By Rachel Hauck Review & Giveaway

The Memory House
by Rachel Hauck
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
ISBN: 978-0310350965

It's been a while since a Rachel Hauck book has landed on my TBR pile. It was also my first time working with Audra Jennings PR to review a book. Do you ever love an author so much that you don't even check to see what the book is about? You just know whatever the topic is you're going to love it. That's how it is for me with Rachel Hauck.

Summary:

When Beck Holiday lost her father in the North Tower on 9/11, she also lost her memories of him. Eighteen years later, she’s a tough New York City cop burdened with a damaging secret, suspended for misconduct, and struggling to get her life in order. Meanwhile a mysterious letter arrives informing her she’s inherited a house along Florida’s northern coast, and what she discovers there will change her life forever. Matters of the heart only become more complicated when she runs into handsome Bruno Endicott, a driven sports agent who fondly recalls the connection they shared as teenagers. But Beck doesn’t remember that, either.
 
Decades earlier, widow Everleigh Applegate lives a steady, uneventful life with her widowed mother after a tornado ripped through Waco, Texas, and destroyed her new, young married life. When she runs into old high school friend Don Callahan, she begins to yearn for change. Yet no matter how much she longs to love again, she is hindered by a secret she can never share.
 
Fifty years separate the women but through the power of love and miracle of faith, they each find healing in a beautiful Victorian known affectionately as The Memory House.


Click here to read an excerpt!

My Review:

From the start of page 1 I was invested in this book. The Memory House starts off with Beck in hot pursuit of a perp. We're thrown into her story right away and and from there the reader is taken on an adventure. The story has multiple characters that span generations. I love when authors bring us from one time period to another so we get to understand the characters' histories. Don't you wish you could have a glimpse into the past like an author can give us?

Next we meet Bruno. Oh, Bruno. He's a guy with a lot NOT going on, which means he's a dude with a lot going on inside. lol He and Beck are both people who have no idea where they're going. A match made in heaven? I think they might exasperate each other. That being said, I love the depth of both of them. Their storyline is rich and it just felt real to me.

Next we're introduced to Everleigh and life in the early 1950s. 1953 to be exact. There was an actual tornado that happened in Waco, Texas which the author wanted to add as the backdrop to Everleigh's storyline. What that poor woman lived through! It's incredible how God can use the terrible things that happen in our lives! Do you ever want to hug a character in a book? That's exactly what I wanted to do with this her.

Then comes along, Don. He's torn between wanting to help Everleigh move away from the past, but his family has expectations of him as well. The choices we have to make aren't always the easy ones, but when God is involved, He makes a way.

I have to tell you, this book was a fast read. I didn't want to put it down. I think it took me a day and a half to read it. I actually cried towards the end, which hasn't happened in ages! I wonder if other readers will be as moved as I was. Thankfully I was by myself as I finished the book so I didn't have to worry about anyone catching me. HA!

While I know this isn't a story that will have a sequel, it certainly makes me wish we could get to know Beck's dad's life from when he was a child until he met her mom. What Everleigh's life was like later on. lol I can't say much because there's so much connection throughout this story. Definitely the reason why I'd like to read "more".

Now you see why I enjoy books written by Rachel Hauck. She brings the reader deep into the story and gets you to invest your heart in them. She also weaves faith in the Lord into the story as well. Of course, this is the most important piece. It gives the reader the opportunity to see how God can work in people's lives, even in the midst of tragedy or going through unforeseen circumstances.

You definitely need to get your hands on this book. I guarantee you'll appreciate the writing style, the characters, and the storyline.

About the Author:

Rachel Hauck is an award winning, New York TimesUSA Today and Wall Street Journalbestselling author.
Her book The Wedding Dress was named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times Book Reviews. She is a double RITA finalist, and a Christy and Carol Award Winner.
Her book, Once Upon A Prince, first in the Royal Wedding Series, was filmed for an Original Hallmark movie.
Rachel has been awarded the prestigious Career Achievement Award for her body of original work by Romantic Times Book Reviews.
A member of the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers, she teaches workshops and leads worship at the annual conference. She is a past Mentor of The Year.
At home, she’s a wife, writer, worship leader and works out at the gym semi-enthusiastically.
A graduate of Ohio State University (Go Bucks!) with a degree in Journalism, she’s a former sorority girl and a devoted Ohio State football fan. Her bucket list is to stand on the sidelines with Ryan Day.
She lives in sunny central Florida with her husband and ornery cat.
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Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Visiting Gettysburg In March

For Valentine's Day I got my husband and I an overnight at a lodge in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. I did a search for B&Bs in the area and came up with The Lodges of Gettysburg. I've never planned anything for he and I because he's the one who usually does. He was pretty excited to get away even if it was only overnight.



Thankfully Gettysburg is only a few hours drive from us. If I remember right, I picked the last weekend before the prices went up on nearly all of the places to stay in the area. With spring around the corner, winter is definitely the time to get a reasonable price. I'm telling you, traveling during the off season is the way to go.

There are definitely pluses and minuses going during an off season. To start with for the plus side, the prices are better if you're looking for a one night stay or for the weekend. Another plus is that it's lacking all of the tourists. The minus would be that not all of the shops are open or they open later than usual.

Since we were getting to our lodge later in the evening, Fred did some research before we left and decided we'd eat at The Historic Farnsworth House. It's a bed and breakfast as well as a dining room. Our menu came as a scroll. I got to try food I've never had before. There was pickled watermelon rind which to me was absolutely disgusting. I have it on good authority that people, especially those in the South, love it. We also had Southern Spoonbread. It kind of reminded me of bread pudding and rice pudding when it came to texture and appearance. For our main courses, Fred had the game pie and I had the chicken pot pie. We both loved our food and our server. The house was just surrounded by history.



Our lodge was upgraded. I had chosen the cheapest accommodation (Corporal's Quarters) because I knew we were going to get there late and only be there overnight. A king size bed and a bathroom was all we needed. Well, once I saw our upgrade to the Captain's Lodge, I had wished I'd booked the entire weekend and I didn't want to leave the next morning. We had a HUGE main room with the king size bed and a couple of dresses. I loved that there was an electric fireplace in the corner already keeping the room warm. We had a kitchenette, which we didn't need, but would've been great for an extended stay. The bathroom was stunning with slate everywhere and a really large closet. The exposed beams in the main room were incredible, and there was a fan light over the bed.


The next morning, we had a better view of the surrounding area on the grounds. Out the back side of our lodge was a patio with a couple of Adirondack chairs. As beautiful as the view was in winter, I could only imagine what it looks like in the spring and summer. We headed down to the main lodge to have breakfast. There was only one other couple in there. They had a pretty basic offering, but I'd imagine with as few people staying there, they wouldn't have much. There was enough to make me full, that's for sure! I didn't realize they had a ballroom for weddings and events. What I also like about The Lodges at Gettysburg is that some of the lodges hold up to 8 people which would be great for a whole family getaway. They also have packages for families & couples to enjoy. Can you tell I want to go back already?


As much as I didn't want to leave, there was the mandatory check out time, so we headed into town. We started off with coffee at Eighty Two Cafe. I'm guessing it might be the only coffee place in town.  Then we proceeded to walk around the little town of Gettysburg for the next 5 hours. lol We had no idea that we were going to walk up and down it numerous times. Pap invited us to go to dinner with him so we had to find something to do.

We tried to go into every store that was open. Gettysburg Emporium has incredible outfits that resemble the Civil War era clothes. And listen, if I ever went to an event where we had to dress up, this is where I'd get my outfit from. I was also excited to find out there's a shop called Gettysburg Polish Pottery. What a strange place for a store like that, but I'm pretty sure I spent about an hour there and came away with my first piece of Polish pottery!


We ate lunch at Hunt's Battlefield Fries. Not a lot of seating and it was very "cozy". The gal who waited on us was extremely pleasant. We got there just in time because the next thing we knew, there were a lot of people in the entryway. We offered to share our table with some other people and they accepted! I love that.

After lunch we decided to walk over to the Jennie Wade house to see if any tours were available. We were the last 2 for the one coming up. Great timing! We had a man dressed in period clothing give us a tour and tell us all kinds of stories about what might've gone on during the time of Jennie Wade's shooting. She was the only civilian killed during the Gettysburg battle. Seeing those beds I'm thankful for the mattresses that we have these days!





Wandering around more we made our way into A Lil' Something Gettysburg where Fred was able to sample lots of salsas. I think we went into the Country Curiosity Store at Dobbin House several times. Once it was just to look around, once it was to get out of the cold, and last was while we were waiting for dinner. Of course you can't go to Gettysburg and not visit a place that has some history. We walked through Gettysburg Museum of History and that was interesting to say the least. The number of items they have that are historic was pretty mind blowing.

I'm sure there are places I can't remember we popped into to burn the time until dinner. We thought we were going to have a late dinner so we grabbed some ice cream at Mr. G's Ice Cream. Needless to say, I was wrong and we were sitting down for dinner about an hour later at the Springhouse Tavern inside Dobbin House. That was a pretty cool experience. I wish I could've eaten something other than the Baked King's Onion Soup, but my stomach literally hurt from all of the eating we'd done that day!


Gettysburg is an incredible place to visit even if you don't do any of the tours (which we've done in the past). You also don't have to be a history buff to enjoy the little town. It's a great place for an overnight getaway or even an extended weekend when it's more bustling and there's more to do.

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