Greatly Blessed

Greatly Blessed

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Brothers' Keepers book review & Kindle Fire #giveaway

Intrigue!  The Brothers' Keepers is another suspense book, this time, set in Europe.  At the core of the story, we have a mom, a dad, and their grown son and his wife, and their grown daughter, who gets kidnapped at the start of the book.  Along the way, their group picks up various other members, including not one, but two love interests for the daughter, creating a love triangle sideline, that we can only hope gets explored further in the next book.

The book is fast paced, and mostly takes place in a span of just 11 days.  I enjoyed this story, especially since there was a mention of Constantine, and we just studied his time period in our homeschool.

This is a book two, although the cover does not indicate that, and you can, of course, read it on it's own, as I did.  However, I liked it enough that I wished I had read book one, When Camels Fly first.

The ending was a bit of a cliff hanger, which I guess is supposed to make you want to buy book 3, due out next fall.  However, the story line is interesting enough, the characters are real enough, and the writing is good enough, that she could have tied it all up at the end, and I still would have wanted to buy book 3.

Don't miss NLB Horton's The Brothers' Keepersinternational suspense at its best. While cataloguing looted antiquities in Brussels, archaeologist Grace Madison discovers her daughter has vanished in France, and her son's bride has been attacked in Switzerland. After the Madison family unearths a relic whose taproot pierces the Ancient Near East, they realize before they can save themselves, they must rescue an old friend . . . if he'll let them.

Learn more about book one in the series, When Camels Fly, and enter to win a Kindle Fire.


One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • When Camels Fly and The Brothers' Keepers by NLB Horton
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on December 7th. Winner will be announced December 8th on NLB's blog.


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For Such a Time as This book review and $25 GC #giveaway

Our family was asked to review For Such a Time as This.  Brought to you by the same author and illustrator duo who created Audrey Bunny, you'll recognize the same lovely style from that sweet story, but also includes some black & white drawings as well.

For Such a Time as This is a lovely book that is all about the girls in the Bible.  An impressive 40 stories, from the well known Eve and Mary, to the lesser known Gomer and Tabitha, and even several women that the Bible mentions but does not name.

The book is designed for girls ages 6-10, and I think could be beneficial even a little older than that.  Hannah is 7, and while she enjoys the stories, I think the He/Me/She section at the end of each is beyond her right now.

This large, hardcover book is available from Family Christian Stores.  They are generously allowing me to give one of my readers a $25 appreciation certificate!  They have more than just books, so poke around their site and see some of the other products they carry.

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Thanks for entering!  Be sure to check out our other giveaways, while you're here, including Stomp Rockets from 4Knowledge-4Fun, coming later today!

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Thursday, November 27, 2014



More than anything in this world, I am thankful for my family.

I'm thankful...

For Zachary, my guinea pig child, who bore the brunt of my ignorance and selfishness, yet loves me anyway, and turned out pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.

For Annaliese, with her beauty and her independence.

For Josiah, who appreciates my wit and who I can talk to in the middle of the night, when everyone else is sleeping.

For Samuel, on the edge of manhood, who tempers his strength when we wrestle (cuz we both know he could totally take me!).

For Brianna, my artist, growing and changing leaps and bounds in her first year of high school.

For Eli, no longer my fluffy Bub, yet not quite as big as the bigger bigs.  I appreciate his willingness to help out, his sensitivity to when Mom's had enough.

For Jack, my snugglebug.  It's hard to be the baby with 3 younger siblings, but somehow, he pulls it off.

For Hannah, the child who made me a China mom.  I love your resilience and the way you never let anything slow you down.

For Katie, my sassy girl.  I laugh at so much of what comes out of your mouth.

For Luke, who has taught me a lot about myself, yet continues to remain such a mystery.

And for Paul, who makes it all possible, and who puts up with my crazy ideas, like homeschooling and adopting.

While it's fun to look at these old pictures, from when the kids were all little, I am enjoying who they are now as they're big, as well.  Fully half the kids in my house are teenagers, which is actually a lot more fun that I thought it would be.

Rather than get caught up in making a SALE! SALE! SALE! post for Black Friday, to try to cash in on some commission from various affiliate programs, I'm going to let today be about family.

I'm super excited that Zach and Heather are coming over later, after he gets off work.

Whether you're able to be with family or not today, I hope that you have a blessed Thanksgiving.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Hilltop Sunset book review and $50 #giveaway

Different.  Hilltop Sunset was unlike the other books I've been reviewing lately.  Not a spicy romance, and certainly not a sweet Amish story, this book is more suspense than anything else.

I had a hard time relating to the main character in the beginning of the story.  Brynn has the morals of an alley cat, sleeping with her married boss, her ex husband, a guy she meets at a conference... pretty much anybody.  By the end of the story, however, Brynn shows considerable personal growth.  I think being thrust into a non-threatening parenting role with teenager, Josh, helps her begin to heal from her own lousy childhood.

Unfortunately, this book has a "book two" vibe to it, leaving the reader wondering, "Who is this Isabel chick, and why did she attack Jillian and Brynn?" questions we can only assume were answered in author Joyce T. Strand's prior series, mentioned below.  Still, I found myself caught up enough in the storyline to wonder when the next book comes out.  I'd like to follow what happens with Brynn, Liam, and Josh.  Not to mention, there's a bit of a cliff-hanger we're left guessing about at the end.  

A mystery set in wine country pitting financial exec Brynn Bancroft against a determined stalker, a troubled love interest, and career clashes.

Brynn Bancroft learns that a former employee who beat her nearly to death has returned to stalk her and her friend, Jillian Hillcrest, also a former victim.

Recently divorced, Brynn turns to a new love interest only to encounter additional unwelcome issues. Meanwhile, short-timer Brynn, who has resigned from her Silicon Valley company, becomes bored fulfilling her remaining responsibilities there. She begins to prefer supporting the launch of her ex-husband’s new hilltop winery while waiting to move to her next position. Between her stalker and her new love interest, Brynn faces a series of life-changing events.

Book available from....   Barnes & Noble

About Brynn Bancroft
Brynn Bancroft evolved from the Jillian Hillcrest mysteries where she served as Jillian’s manager while Chief Financial Officer of Harmonia Therapeutics in Silicon Valley. A shapely blonde with a MENSA IQ, she had an affair with the CEO of the company. Unfortunately for Brynn, the CEO’s wife figured out that the two were involved and asked Brynn to leave the company, which she agreed to do. In the meantime, her husband, Liam—not unfamiliar with extramarital affairs himself but also understanding that Brynn grew up in an abusive household- grew tired of waiting for Brynn to commit to their relationship and asked for a divorce. At the same time, he solicited her assistance in developing his new winery in Sonoma County, Calif. Much like Jillian--who does appear in the Brynn Bancroft mysteries--Brynn, too, attracts mystery and murders as she grows to enjoy life at her ex-husband’s Hilltop Sunset Winery.

Other Books Available

About the Author
Joyce Strand, much like her fictional character Jillian Hillcrest, served as head of corporate communications at several biotech and high-tech companies in Silicon Valley for more than 25 years. Unlike Jillian, however, she did not encounter murder in her career. She focused on writing articles and press releases and delivering presentations to publicize her companies.

Joyce has been a mystery fan since she read her first Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy stories as a teen-ager. She has always enjoyed the challenge of following clues to solve a mystery before it is revealed. Therefore Joyce relished the transition from writing press releases to writing fiction.

Joyce received her Ph.D. from The George Washington University, Washington, D.C. and her B.A. from Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA.   She lives with her two cats in Southern California near San Diego.

Follow the Author
Website,   Blog,   Facebook,   Twitter,   Pinterest   Goodreads 

Follow the book tour

I received this book to review through Beck Valley Books Book Tours, all the opinions above are 100% my own.


Two lucky winners will win either a $50 Giftcard or Paypal Cash
(winners choice)
Open Worldwide
Ending on Sunday 21st December at 11.59pm EST

Enter Below and Good Luck !!

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Odie the Stray Kitten & Odie's Best Friend

We just got Odie the Stray Kitten and Odie's Best Friend for review.  These books were written by Kristen Mott, and illustrated by Lowell Hildebrandt.

Eli read Odie the Stray Kitten to the girls while I took pictures.

It's a sweet little story, but I want to caution adoptive parents.  There are abandonment themes in both books.

In the first book, Odie loses his mother, brothers, and sisters in the cold, snowy woods.  He eventually finds a farm with a warm barn, and is welcomed by a girl and her cat, Bandit.

The second book, Odie's Best Friend, tells the story of how Bandit came to be at the farm where Odie ended up.

Hannah and I took turns reading this aloud (a page for you, a page for me).  She's a second grader, and the reading level was perfect for her.

Bandit's story is very sad.  He starts as a kitten with an owner that he loves.

Then the girl's family has to move, and cannot take the cat.  Bandit ends up at an animal shelter.

Which had some uncomfortable parallels to an orphanage.  And it gets worse.  The family that adopts Bandit from the shelter takes good care of him, but "doesn't love him," so he runs away.  Not the message I want to be sending my girls.

Eventually, Bandit finds a new home, and learns to trust again, and guess what?  More loss.  The woman moves away and leaves him.  I cannot in good conscience recommend the second book to adoptive families.  Other families might enjoy the whimsical drawings and see the eventual friendship of the two cats as a happily ever after story, but for kids from hard places, I'm afraid the take away is, "Don't get too comfortable, because life has a way of yanking the rug out from under you again and again."  Our kids don't need to be reminded of that.

I wanted to like these books, I really did.  I just don't think they're a good choice for adopted children.

You can connect with author Kristen Mott through her blog, Facebook, or Twitter.

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Weekly Wrap Up - week 13

Has another week flown by already?  I feel like we're careening toward Christmas at breakneck speed.

During our homeschool time, my boys have the freedom to move around while I read aloud, as long as they're not noisy.

Jack got out the light blocks one day, and I'm glad he did, because then Katie remembered them, and has played with them a couple times since then.

During the same time, Eli made a paper car from a book we got last time we were in China.  (Notice Jack is doing some actual schoolwork in the background here.  We do "real" school stuff, I promise.)

Isn't it cute?

Another favorite activity this week was drawing on the windows with our new Liquid Chalkers.  Yes, Eli's drawing a taco.

We listened to Rich Mullins' song, Creed, when we learned about Constantine's Nicene Creed, in 325 AD.  I love our history curriculum!  I'm learning things I never knew about the history of the church.  We've just reached the split between the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church in the 400s.  We were all amazed to learn that after this point, the heads of the two churches did not meet again until 1964!

We labelled some parts of the body in Latin this week.

And we studied the Fall of Rome.  Yes, they really are that punny.  Actually Josiah thought this one up.

Oh look, here's those blocks again.  I think I'm going to make the kids a light table for Christmas.  There are so many fun things we could play with on a light surface.

So, I've mentioned that the boys are not enjoying this body book with all the coloring and cutting nonsense.  I decided to have them collaborate on the digestive system.  It actually went okay.  Although I did overhear at one point, "Who taped the liver?" which is not something you hear every day.

They also made a book that shows the different layers of the stomach.

Katie is SUCH a ham!  She climbed up in my lap, and we're having a moment, and then Jack (who thinks all cuddles should involve him) comes along and joins in, and Katie pipes up with, "'Siah, take a picture!"  So he did.  I'm a lucky mama.

We are starting a new art program.  Today was just a dabble.  I introduced the boys to art pencils, and they experimented with the different lead types.  Eli liked the B pencil, and immediately said, "Oh, this is nice!"  I told him that I've always liked the B side pencils more than the H side ones.  Looking forward to learning more from this book.  Watch for an upcoming review.

Hannah and Luke are off from school all next week, for Thanksgiving, and the high school kids have half days Monday and Tuesday only, so we're going to work on review items and extra fun stuff next week, instead of the next week of Rome to the Reformation.  There's an art project I've been meaning to do for weeks, that hopefully we'll get to.

While you're here, please remember to enter the Lauri Pegboard and Peg Stackers giveaway!

Have a lovely Thanksgiving!

Linking up with:
For the Display of His Splendor

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