Monday, December 26, 2011

Leather and Lace

by DiAnn Mills

Casey is a female outlaw who escapes from a gang she was in for seven years, but the gang leader wants her back and will go to any lengths. Someone helps Casey escape and wants to help her clear her name but she is not sure that she can trust him.

This was an okay book as far as historical western Christian romance goes. Not my favourite style, but it was interesting.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The President's Daughter

by Mariah Stewart

She had a perfect life--until she was marked for death 

A reporter is asked to write a new biography of a deceased former U.S. president who was known by all as extremely moral and honest. When the reporter discovers the president had had an affair that resulted in a child, several lives are suddenly in danger. Who is it that wants these secrets to remain hidden?

This is a fascinating mystery story with just enough clues to keep you guessing.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Try Fear

by James Scott Bell

Lawyer Ty Buchanan successfully defends a suspected drunk driver, but when his client is killed he ends up defending the man's brother on the charge of murder. The evidence points to his innocence, but who committed the crime?

Try Fear is a very interesting mystery story. It's supposed to be a Christian book, but it's really just a "clean" story. There is a bit of romance.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

crazy love

overwhelmed by a relentless God 

by Francis Chan

A true Christian should show his faith by love to God and others through giving time and resources. The author argues that you cannot be truly saved if you are only living for yourself.

I think this is a really good book. Mr. Chan backs up most of what he says with scripture and doesn't hesitate to say it like it is even when his ideas are not popular. Crazy Love did not stir me as much as I had expected it would, but it did move me further along the path I have been on for the last little while.

Book website at

Thursday, December 15, 2011


how I lost more than a quarter ton and gained a life

by Nancy Makin

Nancy describes the events of her childhood, early marriage and motherhood and how several things contributed to her excessive weight gain and the loneliness she experienced when she was housebound for many years. She tells about the gift that changed it all and her euphoria in discovering life again.

This is not a book about losing weight; it is the fascinating autobiography of a woman who has seen and experienced many events and circumstances. I was pleasantly surprised at how interesting her story was and highly recommend this book.

I listened to an audiobook version of this book which was a great way to make my ironing more fun, but the narrator's voice was somewhat inconsistent and changed from soft to harsh several times and she pronounced a few words incorrectly.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Homemade Gifts

easy techniques and great projects 

by Nicki Trench

A collection of projects to make by hand; mostly knitting and sewing along with some crochet and cooking, one tile mosaic and one garden journal. The instructions are detailed and seem very clear.

Unfortunately, nothing jumped out at me and I didn't make anything from this book.


recipes and techniques for putting up small batches of seasonal foods 

by Eugenia Bone

Instructions for preserving foods using several methods and recipes for using those preserved foods.

While the instructions were clear and the photos were nice, the foods were mostly not things that I eat--I guess we eat rather more simple meals around here.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Steady Days

A journey toward intentional, professional motherhood 

by Jamie C. Martin

A mother of three preschoolers shares her thoughts and ideas for adding routine, peace and purpose to her family's days. She suggests having a flexible weekly schedule that changes over time as your family's needs change. She also talks about her ideas for preserving memories and for living in the moment.

This is a nice book and I think it would be helpful for mothers with young children whose days seem to go by with nothing being accomplished. I probably would have appreciated it about 10 years ago, but my kids are a bit older now and since we homeschool, I have already developed a routine as I would be completely lost without one.

The author has lovely blogs at and

Sunday, December 4, 2011

From this moment on

by Shania Twain

This Canadian girl was born into a poor family in the northern Ontario town of Timmins. She had a difficult childhood in which violence was common and enough food to eat was rare. In spite of it, she became the world's best-selling country singer. She describes a lot of what goes on behind the scenes and shares her desperate grief when her parents died when she was 21 and then when her marriage ended 21 years later.

While I'm not a big country fan, I found Shania's story very interesting and I even listened to a few of the songs she mentioned in the book. I did find one mistake: on page 202, she talks about hunting "Ontario forest foul" instead of fowl. She also says 3 or 4 times that she has been a vegetarian for 18 years; once would probably have been enough. I don't mean to be picky though; it was a pretty good book.

Edited to add: In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that there is some pretty crude language and bad situations in this book that some may find offensive.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Gorgeous things to make with love

by Ros Badger & Elspeth Thompson

Lots of things to make with stuff you probably already have. Everything from sewing, gardening, and painting to crochet, baking and crafts made from natural materials and more. Unfortunately, I didn't find this book terribly inspiring; the only thing I wanted to try making were the cushion covers made from old wool blankets or sweaters.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Photo Card

Modern Christmas Christmas
Browse Shutterfly's unique Christmas card designs.
View the entire collection of cards.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

one thousand gifts

by Ann Voskamp

A dare to live fully right where you are 

Tragedy early in Ann's life and later in her extended family made her anxious and fearful, but one day a friend dared her to write down a thousand things that she loved and that began a tremendous change in Ann's world. She realized that giving thanks is the key to joy and that there is always something to give thanks for.

This is a lovely book and its lessons are true and powerful. I found the style very poetic; this was difficult for me and it took me longer than usual to get through the book. I found she took a lot of words to get her point across and actually seemed to be making the same point several times. Recommended if you like poetic writing and are having a problem with control or fear of the future. Remember, "all really is outrageous grace."

Visit the author's blog at

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Encounter

Sometimes, God has to intervene 

by Stephen Arterburn

Jonathan Rush was abandoned as a child in Alaska and later adopted by a family in Miami. As an adult, he realizes that he is angry at his birth mother and that his anger is ruining his life. His pastor pressures him to return to Fairbanks, Alaska and find out as much about her as he can. With the help of a reporter who befriends him, Jonathan finds more than he had bargained for and has to make difficult choices. There is a section at the end of the book explaining the author's inspiration and reasons for writing the book and also a study guide.

The Encounter is a short but interesting book. The theme of forgiveness, its necessity and difficulty, comes through quite well. The cover says, "sometimes, God has to intervene," but I'm not sure what the intervention was in the story; it didn't seem like anything unexpected happened. And there was a scene where Jonathan was rude to someone and the reporter took him up on it, but it was never resolved or even talked about again. I thought that was rather a loose thread. While this book might be helpful to people struggling with difficult situations, the author seems to expect more results than I would. So all in all, I would consider this a nice story but not really life-changing.

Disclaimer: I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Organized Simplicity

The clutter-free approach to intentional living 

by Tsh Oxenreider

Part 1 helps clarify what is important and meaningful in life and why living simply is better in every way. Part 2 is a plan for arranging your home to fulfill that vision. It lays out a 10-day full house cleaning and organizing overhaul and includes recipes for cleaners and toiletries.

I think this is a beautiful book. The author has obviously spent time thinking about what is of real value and turning her desires into reality. She presents the information in a clear, easy-to-follow manner. I agree with her values and want to put some of these plans into practice.

The author has a lovely blog at You can also read more about her at

Wednesday, November 2, 2011 love, honor, and vacuum

by sheila wray gregoire

When you feel more like a maid than a wife and mother

How to reduce stress and bring your housework, relationships, finances and more under control. Sheila shares insights that will help your entire household function better.

I found this book interesting and practical; you can use the information right away. There are even helpful organizational charts in the book that you can use. It's all presented from a Christian perspective and there is even an appendix especially for homeschoolers.

Visit the author's website at

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Charlie's Raven

by Jean Craighead George

Grandad is sick so Charlie captures a baby raven to cure him because his Native American friend says that ravens make sick people better. The raven ends up changing everyone who meets it, including the neighbors who hate ravens.

This is another great story from a well-known author of children's books.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The big wander

by Will Hobbs

It began as a summer trip... and turned into the adventure of a lifetime.

Clay and his older brother go searching for their missing uncle in southern Utah. When his brother decides to go back home, Clay stays and spends time among the Navajo people. This is a great adventure story for teens, but I liked it too. It's set in the 1960's.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The surgeon's family

A saga of love and survival
by David Hernandez and Carole Gift Page

The Peralta and Hernandez families both immigrated illegally to the US from Mexico in the 1930's and lived in difficult circumstances for many years. Eventually, Margarita Peralta got saved and met and married Jose Hernandez Jr., who had also become a Christian. They started their life together with nothing but a determination that their children would have a good education and the opportunities they had never had. Their son, David, became a well-known surgeon.

I really enjoyed this intriguing true story.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Lost in Shangri-La

A true story of survival, adventure and the most incredible rescue mission of World War II 
by Mitchell Zuckoff

A plane carrying 24 US army personnel on a sightseeing trip crashed in the dense jungle of western New Guinea during World War II. Two men and one woman survived and were spotted by a search plane a couple of days later but it was impossible to land nearby to pick them up. The jungle was so dense, they had to walk for hours just to find a place to lie down and, worse, it was rumored the natives were headhunters. This completely factual story of the crash and the heroic rescue of the survivors is a captivating tale.

Visit the author's website for photos and original video footage.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Hudson Taylor's spiritual secret

by Mr. & Mrs. Howard Taylor

Taylor was saved as a boy and as a young man was called by God to be a missionary in China. After difficulties with his mission board, he left it and went on, trusting only God to provide for his needs. In time, he founded the China Inland Mission (now OMF International), which never made an appeal for funds (in his time), and yet the Lord always met their needs. This is a condensation of a larger, two-volume work by the same authors.

This is a captivating, uplifting story that teaches the power of prayer and reliance on God. Highly recommended.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Best recipes ever

from Canadian Living and CBC 

fresh, fun & tasty tested-till-perfect recipes from the show

This book has a nice layout and lots of nice recipes. I made several and there were more that I'd wanted to try, but it was a library book and I had to return it, so I found the website which has all the recipes (at least all the ones I checked): Best Recipes Ever. The instructions were clear and easy to follow and the recipes turned out well. I made Chunky Chili Con Carne, Lean-but-Lucious Chocolate Brownies and No-Bake Lime Cheesecake Squares and I plan to make Creme Brulee as well.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Handmade Home

by Amanda Blake Soule

This is a lovely, cozy book full of projects you can make. The directions are clear and simple. Most of them are sewing projects that use old things to make nice, useful new things.

Visit the author's blog at SouleMama.

Friday, September 30, 2011


A Cape Breton fisherman's abduction to Nigeria 

by Leif Morrison

Leif, a Cape Breton fisherman, was offered a job helping transport a large boat to Nigeria. Accepting the job was his biggest mistake ever; shortly after leaving Sydney, he realized that the captain was crazy. When they finally reached Nigeria after a harrowing voyage, he found himself a virtual prisoner with no way of contacting his family or getting home. He finally succeeded in contacting the Canadian embassy and, with their help, managed to escape the country after several frightening mishaps.

This is an intriguing story and I enjoyed reading it, but whoever proofread/edited it was not qualified for the job. I found many grammatical errors throughout the book--as many as four on one page.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The backyard homestead guide to raising farm animals

by Gail Damerow

This book contains detailed information on raising many different kinds of farm animals from fowl and bees to pigs and cattle. Very thorough.

Live more, want less

52 ways to find order in your life 

by Mary Carlomagno 

Each chapter describes a real-life problem the author, a professional organizer, encountered and her solution followed by practical actions for the readers to apply to their own lives.

Author's website: order.

Martha Stewart's new pies and tarts

150 recipes for old-fashioned and modern favorites 

This beautiful book has a full-page photo for every recipe. The chapters are: classic, free-form, sleek, dreamy, rustic, layered, dainty, artful, holiday and savory. They all look so good! When I finished the book, I had five sticky notes marking recipes I wanted to try. Recommended for all who love baking.

Home Dairy

All you need to know to make cheese, yogurt, butter and more

with Ashley English

History, methods and recipes for making all kinds of dairy products including cheese, kefir, buttermilk and ice cream as well as a few recipes that incorporate the finished products. This book seems very thorough and I noted several recipes that I want to try.

Visit the author's blog at Small Measure.
Also read my reviews of Ashley's books, Keeping Chickens and Canning & Preserving.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The pioneer woman

Black heels to tractor wheels: A love story

by Ree Drummond

Ree was a city girl who moved back to her small-town home temporarily where she unexpectedly met and fell deeply in love with a cowboy whom she calls Marlboro Man. She recounts their romance, explains her feelings about her parents' crumbling marriage, describes her wedding to Marlboro Man, their honeymoon and first year of marriage. There are a few recipes at the end of the book for foods mentioned in the story.

Interesting and funny.

Visit the Pioneer Woman's blog at

Monday, September 19, 2011

The floor of heaven

A true tale of the last frontier and the Yukon gold rush 

by Howard Blum 

The true story of three men in Alaska and the Yukon and the beginning of the gold rush. Siringo is a cowboy turned detective, Carmack lives with the natives for a while and then discovers gold in Klondike, and Soapy Smith is a con man who aims to be king -- of somewhere.

This is a pretty long book but a great combination of history and adventure. Recommended.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Nova Scotia guide to frugal living

How to save money and live well!

by Carol McDougall

Many different tips that can add up to saving a lot of money. The book includes a number of recipes and helpful website addresses.

Friday, September 16, 2011


A World War II story of survival, resilience, and redemption

by Laura Hillenbrand 

Louie Zamperini was an Olympic runner, member of the US air force in WWII, survivor of 47 days on a life raft after his plane was shot down, spent 2 1/2 years in a Japanese POW camp, was one of Billy Graham's converts (though this is not a Christian book and that was probably a spoiler if you're going to read it) and is still living today. Ms. Hillenbrand tells his riveting story in this book. I was hooked from the beginning and recommend it to those who like real-life adventure stories (there is a fair amount of cruelty described).

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Do it gorgeously

by Sophie Uliano 

How to make and do everything yourself from beauty products, home cleaners and pet products to fitness and massage. Very neat book.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

London refrain

by Bodie & Brock Thoene 

This novel is set in Poland, Germany, England, France and Israel near the beginning of World War II. I think it's a rewrite of one of their older books, but it was great. I love all their WWII stories.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

All that is bitter and sweet

by Ashley Judd

A moving memoir focused on Ashley's abusive childhood and her activism of late years on behalf of poor and exploited women in developing countries. Although parts of this book may be disturbing, I recommend it to those who want to know the truth of what life is like for those who have no choices or opportunities. They desperately need someone to speak up for them, and Ashley has stepped out of her comfortable world into theirs to help make a difference.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Suddenly Frugal

by Leah Ingram

Ways to save money on many things -- from cleaning supplies to vacations to home renovations and more.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The red tent

by Anita Diamant

A fictional re-telling of the biblical story of Jacob and his sons from his daughter Dinah's point of view. Note: This is not a Christian book.