Tuesday, September 10, 2019

YESTERDAY On Digital TODAY & Giveaway

If you saw any of the commercials for the movie YESTERDAY, you had to have wanted to see it! I mean, how could you not? I grew up listening to the Beatles, and while I enjoyed them, I wasn't a crazed fan. THAT being said, this trailer for this movie sparked something in me that compelled me to have to see it! When I found out I was going to receive a copy for myself and one for a giveaway there was no way I could refuse!


Includes original musical performances not seen in theaters, an alternate opening and ending, gag reel, loads of deleted scenes and more. Bring family and friends together with The Beatles’ music inspired film Yesterday, on Digital September 10, 2019 and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray™, DVD and On Demand September 24, 2019.

COME TOGETHER WITH THE UNFORGETTABLE MUSIC OF THE BEATLES AND BREAKOUT PERFORMANCES BY HIMESH PATEL, LILY JAMES, KATE MCKINNON AND ED SHEERAN IN THE FEEL-GOOD COMEDY

YESTERDAY
 
INCLUDES ORIGINAL MUSICAL PERFORMANCES NOT SEEN IN THEATERS, AN ALTERNATE OPENING AND ENDING, GAG REEL, LOADS OF DELETED SCENES AND MORE

ON DIGITAL SEPTEMBER 10, 2019
4K ULTRA HD, BLU-RAY™ AND DVD SEPTEMBER 24, 2019
FROM UNIVERSAL PICTURES HOME ENTERTAINMENT

"I BELIEVE IN YESTERDAY AND YOU WILL TOO'"
— MIKE REYES, CINEMABLEND
 
ONE OF THE BEST-LOVED FILMS OF THE YEAR WITH AN 89% AUDIENCE SCORE ON ROTTEN TOMATOES


Universal City, California, August 13, 2019 – Bring family and friends together with The Beatles’ music inspired film Yesterday, on Digital September 10, 2019 and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray™, DVD and On Demand September 24, 2019. Jack’s life is changed forever when he discovers he is the only person on earth who remembers the music of The Beatles and must decide if he truly wants the spotlight, or if all he needs is love, after all. Filled with heart and humor from beginning to end, Yesterday on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray™, DVD and Digital comes packed with exciting bonus features including deleted and extended scenes, live performances at the iconic Abbey Road Studios, an alternate opening and ending and several featurettes with the filmmakers and cast that take fans further into the charming story. Hailed as “Funny, original, and touching” (Patrick Stoner, “Flicks” WHYY-TV (PBS)), Yesterday is a rock-n-roll comedy about music, dreams, friendship, and the long and winding road that leads to the love of your life. Stay in, “re-experience the Beatles' songs as if they're brand-new” (Mara Reinstein, Billboard) and celebrate the 50th Anniversary of The Beatles’ Abbey Road this year with the perfect at-home movie night when you own Yesterday on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray™, DVD and Digital.
 
Jack Malik was just another struggling songwriter...but that was yesterday. After a mysterious blackout, Jack (Himesh Patel; BBC’s “EastEnders”) discovers he is the only person on earth who remembers The Beatles! As he rockets to fame by passing off the Fab Four’s songs as his own, Jack risks losing Ellie (Lily James; Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, Cinderella) – the one person who has loved him and believed in him from the start. Kate McKinnon and Ed Sheeran also star in this romantic rock ‘n’ roll comedy from Academy Award®-winning director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, Trainspotting, 28 Days Later) and Academy Award®-nominated screenwriter Richard Curtis (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually).
 
The soundtrack to YESTERDAY is available on digital/streaming services as well as CD from Capitol Records/Polydor Records. The album will be available on vinyl this Friday, August 16.
 
*DVD format includes over 35 minutes of bonus content

BONUS FEATURES ON 4K ULTrA HD, BLU-RAY™, DVD & DIGITAL
  • Alternate Opening*
  • Alternate Ending
  • Deleted Scenes
    • Corden & Roxanne – Includes deleted performance by Himesh Patel of “Something”
    • Late for School
    • Nutters Italian Ice Cream
    • Sortisimus
    • Moscow Audience
    • Alexa
    • A Gonk
    • W Hotel
    • Jack Calls Ellie
    • Hilary in the Mirror
    • Nick and Carol
    • Hazel's Selfie
  • Gag Reel*
  • Live at Abbey Road Studios - Watch Himesh Patel perform "Yesterday", "I Want To Hold Your Hand", and "Let it Be" at Abbey Road Studios.
    • "Yesterday"
    • "I Want To Hold Your Hand"
    • "Let it Be"
  • Ed Sheeran: From Stadium to Screen* - Acting in his first major role, Ed Sheeran reflects on his experiences making the movie.
  • Agent of Comedy: Kate McKinnon* - Kate McKinnon shares how eager she was to play the role of "Debra Hammer" while the cast and crew reflect on the fun and energy that the queen of improvisational comedy brought to the set.
  • A Talented Duo* - Richard Curtis and Danny Boyle, two of the most successful British filmmakers, team up for the first time.
  • Playing for Real* - The re-interpreting of the Beatles songs was a huge undertaking for newcomer Himesh Patel. Learn how he spent months learning to play the songs perfectly as the production decided to take the more challenging route of recording the musical numbers live on set.
  • Soul Mates* - Beyond the music and the laughs, the film is, of course, a love story. This piece looks at the relationship between Jack & Ellie and the actors playing them.
  • A Conversation with Richard & Ed* - Long-term friends Richard Curtis and Ed Sheeran have a funny and informal chat about the making of YESTERDAY.
  • Feature Commentary with Director Danny Boyle and Writer/Producer Richard Curtis
Yesterday will be available on 4K Ultra HD in a combo pack (4K Ultra HD+ Blu-ray™ + Digital). Bonus features on the 4K Ultra HD will all be delivered in stunning 4K resolution.
  • 4K Ultra HD is the ultimate movie watching experience. 4K Ultra HD features the combination of 4K resolution for 4X sharper picture than HD, the color brilliance of High Dynamic Range (HDR) with immersive audio.
    • Yesterday 4K Ultra HD is available with HDR10+™, providing premium HDR picture quality. HDR10+ transforms your movie watching experience with incredible brightness and contrast for each scene, delivering brighter brights and deepest darks.
  • Blu-ray™ delivers a pristine HD picture and theater-quality surround sound.
  • Digital lets fans watch movies anywhere on their favorite devices. Users can instantly stream or download.
  • MOVIES ANYWHERE is the digital app that simplifies and enhances the digital movie collection and viewing experience by allowing consumers to access their favorite digital movies in one place when purchased or redeemed through participating digital retailers. Consumers can also redeem digital copy codes found in eligible Blu-ray™ and DVD disc packages from participating studios and stream or download them through Movies Anywhere. MOVIES ANYWHERE is only available in the United States. For more information, visit https://moviesanywhere.com.
* Exclusive to 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray™ & Digital 

Website: http://uni.pictures/Yesterday
Trailer: http://uni.pictures/YesterdayTrailer
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Yesterday
Twitter: https://twitter.com/yesterdaymovie
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/yesterdaymovie/ #YesterdayMovie
 

FILMMAKERS:
Cast: Himesh Patel, Lily James with Ed Sheeran and Kate Mckinnon
Score By: Daniel Pemberton
Costume Designer: Liza Bracey
Editor: Jon Harris
Production Designer: Patrick Rolfe
Director of Photography: Christopher Ross ASC
Associate Producer:­ Emma Freud
Story By: Jack Barth And Richard Curtis
Executive Producers: Nick Angel, Lee Brazier, Liza Chasin
Produced By: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Matthew James Wilkinson, Bernard Bellew, Richard Curtis, Danny Boyle
Screenplay By: Richard Curtis
Directed By: Danny Boyle

 
TECHNICAL INFORMATION 4K ULTRA HD™:Street Date: September 24, 2019
Selection Number: 61203051 (US) / 61207088 (CDN)
Layers: BD-100
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 2.39:1 Widescreen
Rating: PG-13 for suggestive content and language
Languages/Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish and French Subtitles
Video: 2160p UHD HDR10+/HDR10
Sound: English Dolby Atmos and Dolby Digital 2.0, Spanish and French Dolby Digital Plus 7.1
Run Time: 1 hour 56 minutes
 

TECHNICAL INFORMATION BLU-RAY™:Street Date: September 24, 2019
Selection Number: 61203050 (US) / 61207083 (CDN)
Layers: BD 50
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 2.39:1 Widescreen
Rating: PG-13 for suggestive content and language
Languages/Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish and French Subtitles
Sound: English Dolby Atmos and Dolby Digital 2.0, Spanish and French Dolby Digital Plus 7.1
Run Time: 1 hour 56 minutes

 
TECHNICAL INFORMATION DVD:
Street Date: September 24, 2019
Selection Number: 61203049 (US) / 61207082 (CDN)
Layers: DVD 9
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 2.39:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: PG-13 for suggestive content and language
Languages/Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish and French Subtitles
Sound: English Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0, Spanish and French Dolby Digital 5.1
Run Time: 1 hour 56 minutes

 
About Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment (UPHE – www.uphe.com) is a unit of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group (UFEG). UFEG produces, acquires, markets and distributes filmed entertainment worldwide in various media formats for theatrical, home entertainment, television and other distribution platforms, as well as consumer products, interactive gaming and live entertainment. The global division includes Universal Pictures, Focus Features, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, Universal Brand Development, Fandango, DreamWorks Animation Film and Television and Awesomeness.  UFEG is part of NBCUniversal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production and marketing of entertainment, news and information to a global audience.  NBCUniversal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, world-renowned theme parks and a suite of leading Internet-based businesses. NBCUniversal is a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation.
 Now you have the opportunity to win a Blu-ray/DVD of YESTERDAY!



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Saturday, August 31, 2019

Something Needs To Change By David Platt

Something Needs To Change
by David Platt
Publisher: Multnomah
ISBN: 9780735291416

I requested to review this book because my husband is a big fan of David Platt. I haven't read any books of his, so I figured I'd give this a go. Thanks to Multnomah for sending me a review copy.

Summary:

While leading a team on a week-long trek of the Himalayas, bestselling author and pastor David Platt was stunned by the human needs he encountered, an experience so dramatic that it "changed the trajectory of my life." Meeting a man who'd lost his eye from a simple infection and seeing the faces of girls stolen from their families and trafficked in the cities, along with other unforgettable encounters, opened his eyes to the people behind the statistics and compelled him to wrestle with his assumptions about faith. In Something Needs to Change, Platt invites readers to come along on both the adventure of the trek, as well as the adventure of seeking answers to tough questions like, "Where is God in the middle of suffering?" "What makes my religion any better than someone else's religion?" and "What do I believe about eternal suffering?" Platt has crafted an irresistible message about what it means to give your life for the gospel--to finally stop talking about faith and truly start living it.

My Review:

So it's funny how God works sometimes. I asked to review Something Needs to Change because of my husband. Turns out, this hit me where it counts. Can I be honest with you? I'm not a big fan of non-fiction. Heck, I'm not even a little fan of non-fiction.

This book though, I read it and soaked it all in!

I wasn't sure I was going to care for it at the start, but I was so thankful David Platt had the forethought to journal his journey. I'm also not one to highlight or dog-ear pages of a book. Probably a good thing this was an ARC (advanced readers copy).

"The question is no longer 'Whom do I need to love?' Instead, the question is now 'Who is the one who is loving?'"

Something Needs to Change has made me think of our mission trips to Peru. How I've gone down there and done good things, but did I see the needs? The spiritual needs. I think to a degree I did. Like Platt, I wondered why God allowed me to be born here in USA where there is an abundance of everything and not in a jungle sleeping on a dirt ground. Those trips have been "easy". I've liked them because they haven't taken me out of my comfort zone. And that's where this book hits me.

"There is a kind of love for God and for others that simply can't be manufactured by religious learning."

Are we , as Christians, willing to be uncomfortable for Christ? For the lost? When we go back down hopefully next year, will I be willing to say, "ok, let's do a jungle trip!"? Am I willing to see the need that those who are unreached and go? My fervent hope is that I would say, "Yes!"

"We want to make the most of this life now (we even market Christianity as the key to our best life now). But it sure seems as though Jesus's message sounds more like our best lives later. And forever."

The end of Something Needs to Change reminds me of what it's like as we prepare to come home from Lima, Peru. Fred and I joke about moving down there and Stalin and Paige encourage us to do it! I worry that when I get back I'll be lulled into a sense of complacency. Comfortable in my house with our 2 cars, enough food to feed one of the villages David's been to, and with enough clothing to give multiple pieces to each person - that's my fear.

If God calls, will I be willing to live in a remote jungle in Peru? Will I be willing to live even in Lima? What about my desire to be a hands-on grandma? My hope to move back to Minnesota where friends and family are? I'm not saying God isn't calling me to those things, I just wonder if I'll be able to hear him above the noise in my own head.

Ok, so this was more than a review. Clearly you can see that this book has caused me to be very reflective of my own life. I hope I don't stop just because I've finished the book. Go. Get. This. Book! If anything, it'll give you a new perspective. I know it's done that for me.



About the Author:

David Platt serves as pastor at McLean Bible Church in Washington, D.C., and he is the founder and president of Radical Inc., a global ministry that serves churches in accomplishing the mission of Christ. David previously served as the president of the International Mission Board, and he has authored several books, including RadicalRadical TogetherFollow Me, and Counter Culture. Along with his wife and kids, he lives in the Washington D.C. metro area.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Dear Grandchild, This Is Me

Dear Grandchild, This Is Me
Publisher: WaterBrook
ISBN: 9780525652830

I was so excited to see Dear Grandchild, This Is Me available for review thanks to WaterBrook. My step-daughter made me a grandma for the first time 15 yrs ago and again 9 yrs ago. So I'm a grandma twice over and I'm waiting somewhat impatiently for my oldest daughter to tell me one day that she and her husband are going to have a baby!

Summary:

Preserving a family legacy can feel like a daunting task, but this new keepsake journal makes it easy for grandparents to capture memories, wisdom, and stories in one beautiful package.

Being a grandparent is an incredibly rewarding experience. Dear Grandchild, This Is Me--designed for any grandmother or grandfather to complete--will allow grandparents to collect these priceless memories in one heartfelt keepsake. 

Special Features:
  *  Built-in envelopes to stash special, private letters for specific occasions in your grandchild's future.
  *  A sheet of adhesive photo corners to adhere photographs and special memories throughout. 
  *  Off-the-record questions to prompt fun stories.
  *  A family tree to track your ancestry.
  *  Space to share your favorite recipes, or those passed through the generations. 
  *  A world map to showcase your travels.

Within these pages you'll find a place to answer questions that speak to a grandchild of any age from the simple questions about favorite things to deeper questions about childhood memories, identity, and faith. This book will be a tangible way to keep a loved one close at all times.




My Review:

What an absolutely delightful book! I've always had a fascination with family history and passing on what we can to our children and grandchildren. We won't be here forever so leaving them a piece of ourselves (other than what we pour into them through relationships) through a book like this is a wonderful gift!

Since I'm early on with grand parenting, I don't know how many grandkids I'll have so having enough to give to each grandchild will be an important aspect of having Dear Grandchild, This Is Me. We don't want any grandchild to be left out. hahahaha

I really love the prompts throughout the book. There are questions that I never would've thought of so clearly someone took the time to put thought into what to ask for us to share. I mean, I never would've thought about sharing how I felt about major events in history - some I experienced and some I didn't. Actually, this would be a great book for my parents to fill out for their great-grandchildren they'll one day have.

There's also a page in each section where you can write a letter to your grandchild. Times where they're entering a new stage of life or buying their first home. What a sweet legacy to leave each of them!

I also like how the colors throughout the book follow the colors of the leaves changing on a tree. The sections go from green to brown like the path of our lives. I'll have to put some thought into the pictures I want to share with each of my grandkids. I think they'll be different in each book so that there is a menagerie for them to see in each one.

Dear Grandchild, This Is Me would make a perfect gift either for someone who is becoming a new grandparent or for Grandparents Day in September.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

September Bookstagram

I thought I'd go out on a limb and try and daily book challenge on Instagram using my bookstagram account. If you want to participate, we would love to have you. Do you have suggestions as to what we should do on a particular day? Be sure to comment on the imagine on my Instagram account. I'm open to ideas.



Be sure to save the image and share it on your account using the #InspiredBookChallenge hashtag. We look forward to seeing you participate!

Sunday, August 25, 2019

King's Shadow By Angela Hunt

King's Shadow
by Angela Hunt
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 9780764233364

As a long time fan of Angela Hunt's, I was excited to find out the final book in her The Silent Years series was coming out. I jumped at the chance to review King's Shadow thanks to Bethany House.

Summary:

Their Lives Couldn't Be More Different,
but Their Goal Is the Same:
Survive King Herod's Rule.
Two women occupy a place in Herod's court. The first, Salome, is the king's only sister, a resentful woman who has been told she's from an inferior race, a people whom God will never accept or approve of.

The second woman, Zara, is a lowly handmaid who serves Salome, but where Salome spies conspiracies and treachery, Zara sees hurting people in need of understanding and compassion.

Powerful and powerless, Idumean and Jew, selfish and selfless--both women struggle to reach their goals and survive each day within Herod the Great's tumultuous court, where no one is trustworthy and no one is safe.

My Review:

I don't know if there's an author who can write in any genre like Angela Hunt can. The Silent Years series has been an awesome one and I'm sad to see it finish with this last book.

Can I be completely honest about something? I saw this book come up for review and just requested it without even reading what it was about. Do you have an author who you don't care what they write, you're going to read it no matter what? Yea, that's me with Angela Hunt. So when the book came. I glanced at the back of the book to get a glimpse of the story, and then dove in. I didn't realize this story was about THE Herod. Know when I realized? When I got to the end of the book. Can we all just take a moment to facepalm? Honestly!

I have to say, I appreciate the research that goes into creating stories like these. Biblical fiction is becoming one of my favorite genres! After reading this fictionalized story of Herod's reign, I have to tell you, I would never have any desire to be in a position of authority. What he went through, what his wives and children went through, as well as his extended family was just awful! I can't even imagine anyone in that time desiring power to sit on a throne.

Anyhow, we meet Salome and in turn meet her new handmaiden, Zara. Believe it or not, I started out on Salome's side. I could understand how she wanted to protect her family, especially her brother, the king. Unfortunately, that desire to protect put many in danger. Then there's also, Zara, who I had hoped we would've seen her transformation a bit more detailed, but we got to see her heart for serving her mistress.

It was very interesting watching Salome transform as a character. Starting from when she is the king's young sister up to when she's an elderly grandmother, we watch her develop and mature. Not always in a positive way, but who of us has a straight and narrow path?

Zara spends her life serving Salome. It's clear she loves Salome and Salome learns to trust her. Because Zara isn't a slave, but a servant, she's allowed more freedom than most. This allows her leave the palace and spend time with those who live and share her faith. I would've liked to have watched Zara's faith develop more. We have glimpses of it, but I wish as a reader we would've see her have that "light bulb" moment. That's just my perspective from my view of the story. Others might be completely satisfied by how her faith life unfolded.

Overall I really enjoyed this book and am sad to see the series come to an end. I felt like I was on a constant roller coaster of emotions because of all the intensity the Herodians carried. Let's just say I'm glad I wasn't part of his court or family! lol The way it ushers in the beginning of Jesus' time is fluid and gripping! Imagine being a king and knowing there are people who believe there's a king coming who will be greater than the one ruling!

I'm looking forward to reading her next set of stories about women in the New Testament.

About the Author:

The author of more than 100 published books and with more than 5 million copies of her books sold worldwide, Angela Hunt is the New York Times bestselling author of The Note, The Nativity Story, and Esther: Royal Beauty.Romantic Times Book Club presented Angela with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. In 2008, Angela completed her PhD in Biblical Studies in Theology. She and her husband live in Florida with their mastiffs. She can be found online at www.angelahuntbooks.com.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Standing Together By Carlos R. Evans And Rosemarie Evans With Cecil Murphey & Giveaway

Standing Together
by Carlos R. Evans and Rosemarie Evans with Cecil Murphey
Publisher: Kregel Publications
ISBN: 9780825444975

I don't know about you, but I'm one of those people who gets emotional around people who have and are currently serving in our military. When I learned about the opportunity to receive Standing Together for review from Read with Audra, I knew it would be intense, but so worthwhile!

Summary:

A true story of hope and courage in the face of astonishing challenges

During his fourth deployment, US Marine Corps Sergeant Carlos Evans stepped on an IED--and the loss of both legs and his left hand was just the beginning of the struggle for his life.

For the next two years, he and his wife, Rosemarie, went through the rehabilitation process together. As a nurse and mother of two young children, Rosemarie was used to caring for people, but the task of taking care of her triple-amputee husband brought new challenges every day. In addition to his limb loss, Carlos faced PTSD and developed an addiction to painkillers. He was sure Rosemarie's life would be better without him--and that it might have been better if he hadn't survived at all.

But unlike the majority of marriages put under similar strain, Carlos and Rosemarie stayed together. With the help of family, friends, and--most importantly--a strong faith, they've built a solid marriage and discovered a ministry they never expected. By the hand of God, their story, which began in devastation, has turned into one that draws in and lifts up more people than either of them would ever have dreamed.

Not only will disabled veterans and their loved ones find help here, Carlos and Rosemarie's captivating journey also speaks to those who long for stronger marriages, care for loved ones with disabilities, or are facing a new normal in their own lives, small or large. It is a powerful resource for leaning on God in the midst of life's great difficulties--and for finding ways that, through faith, profound loss can bring incredible blessing.


My Review:

Starting with the first page of Standing Together, you know Carlos & Rosemarie are about to take us along on the wild ride of his injuries and their family's road to recovery. To me, the book read like either an interview (think 60 Minutes) or a diary. They are so open with everything they went through  from start to where they are today.

In my head I generically understood how difficult it must be for families to go through the devastation of surviving trauma while serving. Obviously, I had no real clue and I knew that, but reading how difficult it was for both Carlos, Rosemarie, and their kids put it in a new light. The ups and downs throughout the recovery was overwhelming and to see how God sustained them and was their strength is incredible.

Honestly I wasn't surprised by all of the ups and downs both of them had. Also, to see the way so many things actually came together to help and bless them was amazing. Reading their story made me want to find a way to help out those families and open my home up so that when these families are going through the recovery and rehabilitation time they can all stay together as a family instead of kids being one place, the soldier being in recovery, and their spouse trying to find a bed to sleep in. I don't think most of us realize how long the rehabilitation can be.

After reading Carlos' side of the story, I can understand why so many become depressed to the point of taking their own lives. His raw emotions make it clear how important it is for them to have family, friends, and a team who will walk through this time with them. Also, for Rosemarie's side, I can see how some spouses find this time unbearable and find a way out. To see God move and work in their hearts & minds was incredibly encouraging. As hard as it is, it can be done.

It was clear throughout the entire story how so many people played a part in the recovery of Carlos and the sustaining of their family. From the people who came alongside them at the hospitals to the people who found an apartment for them, to the organization that helped with their dream home, and then those who encouraged Carlos to become a speaker, there were an incredible amount of people who wanted to help! Honestly, I was blown away.

As hard as it was to read everything Carlos & Rosemarie went through, it was an incredible example of how God can use the circumstances in our lives. No one understands that more than this family! They are truly an inspiration!

About the Authors:
Sgt. (Ret.) Carlos R. Evans is a minister with the Assemblies of God USA, a Wounded Warrior spokesman, and a motivational speaker. Born in Puerto Rico, Carlos was an avid athlete through his high school and college years.  At university, he studied Theology and was very active in his church. When the tragic events of September 11th occurred, he felt compelled to join the family legacy of service in the US Marine Corps, and originally planned to join as a Chaplain.
Carlos served three tours of duty in Iraq and was assigned to Afghanistan for his fourth deployment. In May 2010, he was the squad leader on foot patrol when he stepped on an improvised explosive device. The blast took both of his legs and his left hand. Medically discharged after his rehab at Walter Reed, Carlos served in the Marine Corps for eight years.
Rosemarie Evans, also a native of Puerto Rico, is an experienced nurse. She is now a full-time caregiver and student working toward a master’s degree in marriage and family from Liberty University. Carlos and Rosemarie live in Orlando, Florida with their two daughters.
Learn more about Carlos and Rosemarie Evans at CREvans.org as well as on Facebook (CR Evans)Instagram (@crevans923) and Twitter (@crevans923).
You have the opportunity to win Standing Together through 8/20/19!
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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Hiking Interstate State Park, Minnesota

My son and I went hiking last year at Minnehaha Falls on one of the weekends he was back from camp. I think we're going to be making this a tradition. It gets us out of whoever's house we're staying with and allows us to enjoy the beautiful state of Minnesota.



This year we decided to go to Taylors Falls. Now, I'll share a bit of my ignorance here. I thought Taylors Falls wasn't just a city. I thought it had a waterfall. You know, hence the name of the town. Turns out, nope, no waterfalls there. lol


We decided to do the hike regardless and I'm glad we did! It was an absolutely beautiful day. It took us about an hour to get there from the Cities. There are 2 sides to the Park, hence the "Interstate" part of the name. It's joined with Wisconsin. It was only $7 to park for the day. We probably could've parked on the street in Taylors Falls, but this worked out just fine.


You have several options when you visit Interstate State Park. You can rent canoes and kayaks, hike, or take a scenic boat tour. I didn't realize about the boat tour until it was too late, but that would've been fun. There are also a few trails you can explore. If we go back I'd like to check out the Glacial Potholes. We started our adventure off on the River Trail. That probably took us about an hour to hike? We stopped along the way to take photos and enjoy the scenery. It's only a mile and a quarter hike.


You walk along the road for a bit of the hike and then veer off into the woods. There were a decent amount of people hiking the day we went, but only so much that we'd pass someone occasionally. It was a very peaceful hike. The views of the St. Croix River were beautiful. The trails were pretty well maintained. I can see how on a rainy day some areas could be a bit slick.


After we finished with the River Trail, we crossed under the road to tackle the Railroad Trail which is 1.5 miles. We saw a couple of young gals who had just come from that direction so I asked them if we were headed the right way. Thankfully we were.


Now, when I was talking with the gal who I paid at the visitor center, she mentioned an extra piece to the Railroad Trail. She told me the Sandstone Bluffs Trail was 250 steps. I'm like, ok, so that's really nothing. Welllll, what she actually meant was there are 250 actual steps!! Stairs, people!! This is actually and added 1mi hike. Oh my goodness, I thought I was going to die. HAHAHAHA There was one point where we were completely confused and so was another lady who came upon us. About halfway through the hike it just dead ends.


Just before we reached the dead end. As in about 15 seconds before, this man scared the nonsense out of us as he was climbing down through the rock and he was sweating something awful. All of a sudden he was just there next to us. Turns out, that's where we had to climb up. I debated about turning around, but didn't. lol My son climbed up too fast for me to grab a shot of it. The arrow that points to the "steps" is rather deceiving. It looks like it's pointing to the dead end. Needless to say, I survived. My son basically ran up all of the steps. Show off.


We got back onto the Railroad Trail and it spits you out in what seems like a deserted parking lot. It was such an odd end to the hike. lol We walked out to the street which took us to the main part of Taylors Falls. Across the highway is another area to hike, but we just chilled out for a few minutes before we made our way back under the road to the visitor center. We grabbed our car and ate at a restaurant in town. Let me just say I would suggest eating anywhere other than Chisago House for your meal. I don't normally call out places that aren't great, but this place was probably one of the worst restaurants I've ever eaten or been served at.



All in all, this was an extremely beautiful place to visit. It's pet friendly so there were lots of people with their dogs. One gal actually had hiking boots on her dog so you know they explore a lot. It would be a fabulous place to camp as well. I definitely want to go back and possibly try kayaking, the boat tour, and the potholes.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Storm Rising By Ronie Kendig

Storm Rising
by Ronie Kendig
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 9780764231872

When I had the opportunity to accept Storm Rising for review from Bethany House, I was pretty excited. I hadn't read any of Ronie's books and I'd heard what a great author she was. As you know, most of the books I read are historical fiction, but every now and again I get an itch for something different. Storm Rising fit that bill.

Summary:

Does an Ancient Book of Prophecy Hold the Answers to Saving the World . . . Or Predict Its Destruction? 
Mentioned in the pages of the Old Testament but lost to history, the Book of the Wars has resurfaced, and its pages hold secrets--and dangers--never before seen on earth. 

Tasked with capturing the ancient text, former Navy SEAL Leif Metcalfe is once more given command of his own team. But their best efforts are ruined when a notorious Bulgarian operative known as Viorica snatches the volume right out from under them.

Iskra "Viorica" Todorova is determined to use the book to secure the thing that matters most--freedom. But a series of strange storms erupts around the globe, and the coming dangers foretold in the text threaten crops, lives, and entire nations. Though both are haunted by secrets of the past and neither trusts the other, Leif and Iskra must form an uneasy alliance to thwart impending disaster. However, the truth hidden in centuries-old words could unleash a storm of their own destruction.

My Review:

Do you like books that grip you from start to finish? Have you sitting on the edge of your seat wondering what's about to happen? If so, then Storm Rising is the book for you. Starting with the prologue, it's an action packed adventure until the epilogue!

Not having read Ronie Kendig's books before I wasn't prepared to be "all in" with the story. To be honest, my mind kept going back to the characters during my day when I was reading. Have you ever had that happen? Your mind wanders to the fictional characters you're reading about, and you're wondering what they're doing? lol As if they're doing anything without you reading the book.

I think for me, that's how great this writing is. The characters were brought to life through Ronie's writing. Leif, the former Navy SEAL, who has 6 months of his life missing from his memory. That's part of the storyline that I'm committed to. There's also something else fascinating about him that I hope will be answered in the books yet to come. The author and those who have read the book already should know what I'm referencing.

Then there's Iskra. The life she's lead - the terrible things she's done and been through - she's such a fighter. It's easy to see why she and Leif have a hard time building any trust. There's just something so "set apart" about her. Something that makes me want to cheer her on. Tenacity. Maybe that's it. Strange that I would hope a bit of her would be in me.

Next there's the rest of the special ops team who the readers get to know and you root for. I like that they're present throughout the entire story so that we become invested in them as well. Each one for their own reason, but trust me, you're going to like each one of them

Of course, what would a story like this be if we weren't questioning those in authority and wondering if they're for or against the team. Who can be trusted at all throughout this book? And of course, I have to mention the Book of Wars which is what this series is all about. I never even knew this was mentioned in Numbers. I read where it's mentioned, but don't understand it at all. How cool that the author ran with it as a storyline!

There is some romance in the story as well. When I'm reading books like this I tend to gloss over those parts. I mean, I realize it's an important part of the story and we get to know the characters better, but when the romance parts show up I tend to read over them a bit quicker. I'm in it for the action! hahahaha

I've already read the summary for book 2 which comes out in March 2020 and I'm on high alert! The only hard part about this book was finishing it so quickly. I enjoyed it so much I wasn't ready for it to end. Today has almost been like an adrenaline rush that I'm coming off of as I read the epilogue. This book is absolutely a must-read this summer!

About the Author:

Ronie Kendig (www.roniekendig.com) is an award-winning, bestselling author of over twenty novels. She grew up an army brat, and now she and her Army-veteran husband live a short train ride from New York City with their children and a retired military working dog. Ronie's degree in psychology has helped her pen novels of intense, raw characters.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Until The Mountains Fall By Connilyn Cossette

Until the Mountains Fall
by Connilyn Cossette
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 9780764219887

I was so thrilled to be part of the launch team for Conni! Her Cities of Refuge series was the first I've read of hers and have fallen in love with her writing. She's one of those authors where you want to devour every book that comes out.

Summary:

Recently widowed, Rivkah refuses to submit to the Torah law compelling her to marry her husband's brother and instead flees Kedesh, hoping to use her talents as a scribe to support herself. Without the protection of her father, Kedesh's head priest, and the safety of the city of refuge, Rivkah soon discovers that the cost of recklessness is her own freedom.

Malakhi has secretly loved Rivkah for years, but he never imagined his older brother's death would mean wedding her. After her disappearance, he throws himself into the ongoing fight against the Canaanites instead of dwelling on all he has lost. But with war looming over Israel, Rivkah's father comes to Malakhi with an impossible request.

As the enemies that Rivkah and Malakhi face from within and without Israel grow more threatening each day, is it too late for the restoration their wounded souls seek?

My Review:

Wow! Just...wow! Until the Mountains Fall was incredible. Do you ever read biblical fiction and you then want to dive into scripture? I've been reading through Joshua and Judges again, and reading Until the Mountains Fall has me hungering for more of the Old Testament. How often do you hear someone say that?!

Ok, so can I be honest with you about something? I have a 16 yr old son. Malakhi is 16 yrs old. Thinking of my son taking on the responsibility of marrying his brother's wife boggles my mind. Now, before you go crazy, here are a couple of things I know. 1) Things in Biblical times were obviously different. 2) Being 16 yrs old in different cultures makes a huge difference. It was just interesting reading about a character who's the same age as my son. HA!

Moving on... oh, Rivkah. You know when people are about to make a very, very bad decision and you can see it coming, but can't do anything about it? Yep, Rivkah! And the cost of her choice has an impact on everyone who has known her and love her.

Malakhi, being the boy that he is, makes choices that Rivkah just doesn't understand. That only leads to her solidifying her decision not to marry him. The ripple effect hits both of their families. I have to tell you, watching their lives fall apart is terribly difficult, which is due to the wonderful writing of the author.

With Connilyn's writing, you literally feel as though you've been transported to Biblical time Kedesh. Also, reading about this time in the Bible really brings it to life. You see in a fictional setting of what life might've been like with the Israelites disregarding God's Word. Not following the Law, marrying Canaanite women, and living willfully sinful lives causes those who are following the Law to struggle. The tribes who left the bondage of Egypt have given way to idols and are in a new bondage.

Until the Mountains Fall is also a reminder of the prodigal son. When we turn back to the Father, He rushes to us as though we never left Him. This is incredibly clear as you read the story. What a story that compels you to dive into the Word and to seeing how devastating the impact can be when we disobey God's covenant as well as legal agreements we've made with others.

I'm already sad having read through this book so quickly! I catch myself thinking of the characters and all that they went through. Thankfully there's another book in the series. I'm pretty sure I will never tire of Connilyn's gift with words. Run, don't walk to get your hands on a copy!

About the Author:

When she is not homeschooling her two sweet kids (with a full pot of coffee at hand), bestselling author Connilyn Cossette is scribbling notes on spare paper, mumbling about her imaginary friends, and reading obscure, out-of-print history books. There is nothing she likes better than digging into the rich, ancient world of the Bible and uncovering buried gems of grace that point toward Jesus. Her novel Counted With the Starswon the 2013 Frasier Contest and was a semifinalist in the 2013 ACFW Genesis Contest. Although a Pacific Northwest native, she now lives in North Carolina. Connect with her at www.connilyncossette.com.

Monday, July 8, 2019

27th Annual Giant National Barbecue Battle

This was our second year attending The Giant National Barbecue Battle in Washington D.C. thanks to Liquified Creative who gave us Media passes to attend the event. I have to tell you, this is one of the best events that we've attended in the area. We went 2 yrs ago and had a great time.


When we first got there we talked to a couple of the people running the Famous Dave's restaurant. Holy smokes there was so much good food there! We were so bummed we hadn't been there the day before because Dave had been on-site. And can I just say, it was awesome seeing a woman at one of the bigger grills! She looked like she was having a blast.


Part of the plan when we go down to this Battle is to go with an empty stomach. There's SO much to sample throughout the entire event. Giant has several tents (extremely long tents) that you can get in line for. Now, you have to be prepared. The Giant tents have long lines, but always worth it!


Fred was in barbecue heaven. He loves barbecued food more than most people. While I'm not a sauce fan, I am a rub fan. I'm always searching for a new rub for Fred to put on our ribs. This is a great place to try some out. This is also the perfect way to try foods that you typically wouldn't.


For example, while I like hummus, I've never seen Fred try it. We were able to sample the Sabra flatbread and he literally said to me, "I want to try this recipe at home." Jaw. Drop! I couldn't believe those words came out of his mouth. We grabbed the recipe card and I'm looking forward to him trying it out.


Also, if you're anything like me, don't you want to try a sample of something before you spend money on it? I mean, there are some products out there you might buy outright. Like trail mix. All you have to do is look at what's in it to know if you'd be interested. Then there are other foods and drinks that I'm not going to spend $5 on just to take a sip or a bite and realize it's going in the trash. lol Please tell me I'm not the only one who feels this way.


While I was in line for one of the Giant tents, he ditched me for a barbecue station. The first one he went to was out of most of their food. he went to the next station, which was Dyvine BBQ and he loved their food so much he couldn't stop talking about it. Meanwhile, through one tent, I probably sampled 20 different brands. SERIOUSLY, I love going to the Battle!


Not everything is food related at The Giant National Barbecue Battle. They also had people there from the health industry. You could talk to people about nutrition, dental health, as well as day to day living. They also have 3 band stages with different artists playing throughout the day. It was so great to sit back and listen to the bands.

We also made sure to take pictures with the Planters vehicle and the Oscar Meyer one. Those are classics to check out. There's also a food booth that can't be overlooked. They have deep fried Oreos, Twinkie, Cookie Dough, and Reese's! Fred went with the singular Twinkie and I had 3 Reese's. Just...wow! I saved 2 for the boys to enjoy when we got home.


On a side note, Sundays are a great day to go, especially being there in the afternoon because they companies are trying to offload all of the samples they brought with them. They'd literally grab handfuls of their products and dump them into our bags. Thank you very much!

The next time we go I'll be taking a small, soft cooler with us. It was sweltering down there and we grabbed quite a few samples that weren't going to be good by the time we made it home: yogurt, mayo sample, and a few other drinks/food samples.

Speaking of "next time" we'll be heading down again next year. They've already set the dates of June 27th & 28th.

 
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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.