Saturday, May 25, 2019

Whose Waves These Are By Amanda Dykes

Whose Waves These Are
by Amanda Dykes
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 9780764232664

Ok, can I be honest with you? I'm terrible at giving new authors a chance. I like staying cozy and comfy with my familiar, tried and true authors. I mean, true, they were all new to me at some point, but then they became reliable. When I saw the offer to review Whose Waves These Are come through my email, I actually glanced over what the book was about and past the cover. I decided I'd read Amy Green's (BHP Fiction Publicist) reason as to why they chose it as their book of the month to see if I'd have any interest.

There'd already been some buzz about this author, that somewhat, sorta piqued my interest, but I'm not a hype person. I don't get pulled in. BUT, I have a lot of respect for Amy and with how she described the book, I knew I had to give it a try. And with that, I'll have to share my review.


In the wake of WWII, a grieving fisherman submits a poem to a local newspaper: a rallying cry for hope, purpose . . . and rocks. Its message? Send me a rock for the person you lost, and I will build something life-giving. When the poem spreads farther than he ever intended, Robert Bliss's humble words change the tide of a nation. Boxes of rocks inundate the harbor village on the coast of Maine, and he sets his callused hands to work.

Decades later, Annie Bliss is summoned back to Ansel-by-the-Sea when GrandBob, the man who gave her refuge during the hardest summer of her youth, is the one in need of help. But what greets her is a mystery: a wall of heavy boxes hiding in his home. Memories of stone ruins on a nearby island ignite a fire in her anthropologist soul to uncover answers.

Together with the handsome and enigmatic town postman, Annie uncovers the story layer by layer, yearning to resurrect the hope GrandBob once held so dear and to know the truth behind the chasm in her family's past. But mending what has been broken for so long may require more of her and those she loves than they are prepared to give.

My Review:

I had high hopes for Whose Waves These Are. Everything I read in reviews about this novel was how incredibly well written it was. The anticipation was strong and I'm happy to tell you it's as good as everyone is saying.

The book actually starts off in September 1944, which was the month and year my mom was born. A few chapters in it switches to May 2001. I wonder why 2001 and not 2019, but that's a question I'll have to ask the author.

We meet Roy and Robert Bliss, twins who have futures looming in front of them neither are ready for. No one is ever prepared for war and being sent to fight will have an impact on families, friends, a whole town, and an entire nation. Getting to know these men as the story flashes back throughout the book, you see how strong their ties are, even apart from being twins. Their lives are intertwined with each other, and span the generations in unexpected and beautiful ways.

Then we meet Annie Bliss along with all of the inhabitants of Ansel-by-the-Sea. What a cast of characters. They're exactly what you'd imagine in a small fishing village in Maine. They're the kind of people, salt of the earth people, who you hope you get to meet in your lifetime. One of those people is actually a newcomer, Jeremiah Fletcher. He's rooted himself in this coastal harbor. This is where he and Annie begin a journey that will have her working on getting her sea legs again and him figuring out what his future looks like.

The way this story is written, you literally feel like you're in Ansel. You can picture the post office, The Galley, and especially Sailor's Rest. You're in the moment with each of these characters being pulled along with their stories. The writing is incredibly descriptive and it seems not a word is wasted. As you read Whose Waves These Are you'll be tossed and turned like the waves on the sea as each of the main characters' stories unfold before you.

This is the author's debut novel, but along with the novel there's a novella called Up From The Sea. It's free, so a perfect way to become introduced to a new author because it'll have you setting sail for this novel immediately! Get your summer started with a great read!

About the Author:

Amanda Dykes ( is a drinker of tea, dweller of redemption, and spinner of hope-filled tales who spends most days chasing wonder and words with her family. Give her a rainy day, a candle to read by, an obscure corner of history to dig in, and she'll be happy for hours. She's a former English teacher, and her novella, Bespoke: A Tiny Christmas Tale, was met with critical acclaim from Publishers WeeklyReaders' Favorite, and more. She is also the author of a novella in The Message in a Bottle Romance CollectionWhose Waves These Are is her debut novel.

Friday, May 24, 2019

European Union Open House Experience

Fred and I were excited to have a full day ahead of us at the European Union Open House in Washington, D.C. After only spending a few hours at the Around The World Embassy Tour, we were ready to learn a lot at the Open House! Once again, this was a free event, but I was given a press pass which meant we were able to go straight into the embassies and not have to wait in line. You can see more of our experiences if you check out my Instagram Stories.

We started the European Union Open House at the EU Delegation. They're an incredible resource when it comes to learning about the relationships between the United States and the European Union. There are 28 countries represented in the EU, 24 official languages, and the Euro is used by 19 of the countries. We actually enjoyed the different learning stations as we walked through the Delegation.

From there we drove to the Spain and Poland embassies. Having lived a lifetime ago in Spain, I was excited to see their embassy. It was absolutely beautiful! The tile work on the walls and the floor made you think you'd just walked into a Spanish mansion. They also had amazing food which was affordable. I would highly suggest them for your lunch if you plan on experiencing the Open House.

Poland was a must. We grew up believing on my dad's side of the family that we were Polish. We were always joking about being Polack. There was no shame in our game! Turns out we weren't exactly Polish, but more Bohemian and Czech. Close enough I'd guess. lol This embassy is definitely a must-see! It was decorated beautifully, they had a young boy playing piano, had all kinds of tourism booklets, and had fun food to sample for free!

Next we headed to the Czech Republic. One of the cool experiences of visiting this embassy is that the Ambassador's house is on the same grounds and we were able to take a look at a few of the rooms and the grounds. They had musicians playing outside the embassy and inside a few learning stations. There were also police officers there with a Malinois, which is somehow connected to the country? They were doing a demonstration, but without a mic it was hard to hear what the officer was saying. We grabbed some desserts that were for sale so we could sample some of "the people of my country's" treats.

We drive over to the United Kingdom and Italy to check those countries out. We didn't have a heck of a lot of time because we spent so much time at the other embassies and more we wanted to see. First stop was Italy. It was one of the more modern embassies. As you walked in, out on the great lawn were several Ducati where you could hop on each one for a photo opp. Inside they had a fun opportunity to answer several questions around the grounds to win a prize.

The United Kingdom is just down the road from Italy. We walked around much of the outside, but didn't get around the whole grounds. The line, once you got onto the grounds was very long and there wasn't any way to move to the front of that line. They had an amazing display of Bentleys which are stunning vehicles. Honestly, I'm not sure what we might've missed out on seeing since we detoured back the way we'd started. I did manage to grab a picture with a couple men dressed in English garb.

As time was running out we rushed over to Portugal because my sister-in-love is Portugese and all of the ladies are planning to take a trip there in 2020, fingers crossed. They let people in by groups of about 50. They keep you in a room to watch a tourism video and in the same room display artisan creations. Pretty smart if you ask me! Outside in a tent they had food to sample and you could win a trip to Portugal!

Lastly, at 3:45, we made it to Ireland. Sadly, they had just closed the embassy to visitors. Thankfully, I had my press badge, flashed that bad boy, and in I went. What I didn't realize was Fred wasn't behind me. lol I just wanted to go in and take a few pictures. Obviously since they were basically finished there wasn't much to see or interact with. Outside they were finishing up their music and dancing.

As you can see, with a press pass we made it through 7 embassies and all 28 were represented at the Open House. Just like the AWET, you need to plan the ones you want to see the most and start there. If you can group the embassies together, all the better. We drove to each grouping we wanted to experience and didn't have to pay once for parking believe it or not. It took us a few minutes to find parking near each location, but we did it! Also, with the EUOH, they had 4 shuttle bus routes so that would be an option to get to each embassy group.

Be sure to take your ID with you. Believe it or not, we were asked for our ID at the Italian embassy. If possible, don't bring backpacks. Usually the embassies will give free reusable bags so if you start piling up free stuff from each of the embassies you can use those bags. Not having a big backpack helps you get through the line easier.

I'm already making a list of the countries I want to visit next year. We're going to start off with France & Germany who actually combine their embassy experiences. Then we'll check out the countries we really know nothing about because there's so much to learn!

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!


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 (, 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!

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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.