Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Circle Maker Devotions for Kids

The Circle Maker Devotions for Kids 


April 24, 2018

by Mark Batterson

  • Age Range: 8 and up 
  • Grade Level: 3 - 4
  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Zonderkidz 
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310766810

Based on the New York Times bestselling The Circle Maker and Draw the Circle by Mark Batterson, The Circle Maker Devotions for Kids encourages kids ages 8 and up to pray circles around their biggest dreams.
Boys and girls will learn the story of Honi the Circle Maker, who drew a circle in the sand and didn’t budge from it until God answered a seemingly impossible prayer. Kids are encouraged to be brave and bold in their prayers and dreams just like Honi, and to see how God answers prayers in big and small ways. Featuring 100 inspiring messages and a beautifully designed interior, this devotional makes a perfect gift for young readers.

My thoughts:  THE CIRCLE MAKER DEVOTIONS FOR KIDS is a great devotional. In today's day and age some churches do not encourage praying over and over for stuff. Pray it once, God knows, don't ask again, you'll just annoy Him. That is kind of sad to me, and even our own children don't ask once on stuff they really want or need. They remind us.  Not that God forgets. 

Honi is NOT a biblical character, I didn't remember him in the Bible, so I looked it up to see. His story is set around Jewish legend that says he drew a circle and stood inside it and prayed and told God he wouldn't leave the circle until his prayer was answered. 

I like that legend. I like the idea behind it.  I have prayers I am still waiting on answers for, and prayers I pray every day, and other prayers I say once and not again, but like with my adult son who is/was making bad choices. He is on my heart, in my thoughts and I am praying constantly for him. My husband, who is at the age where a lot of men have heart-attacks. He is constantly in my prayers.  I have other things, too, that I constantly pray about.  I don't want to pray once and then never again pray for them.  

This devotional has a verse, a passage related to it, and then lines to write your own prayer requests, verses, thoughts, etc with a circle already drawn around it. 

Children can write their requests (adults too) and go back and see how or when God answered their prayers.  

I love this devotional. Highly recommended. 

I was given a copy free. All opinions are my own. 

Monday, June 18, 2018

Always Close to Home

Always Close to Home 

(The St. Lawrence County Amish #3) 

Paperback, ebook, hardcover

February 1, 2017

by Jerry S. Eicher 

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
  • ISBN-13: 978-0736965910

Are Two Miracles Too Much to Ask For?
Twins Laura and Lydia Mast keep few secrets from each other, but even Laura doesn't sense the great ache Lydia has held in her heart since Laura started dating the charming John Yoder. When will it be Lydia's turn for love?

Despite having a willing suitor in Wendell Kaufman, who once unsuccessfully pursued her sister, Lydia's attention is fixed on Milton Beiler. Milton hasn't paid Lydia the least bit of attention, and worse still, he's on rumspringa and conflicted about permanently joining the church.

Meanwhile, Laura's world is turned upside down when a tragic accident threatens her dreams of becoming John's frau. Despite the obstacles in her path, Laura remains steadfast in her faith.

Will Lydia's love for Milton win out over his love for the world, and is Laura strong enough to face an uncertain future with John? Only the Lord has the answers the Mast sisters so desperately search for.

My thoughts:  ALWAYS CLOSE TO HOME is the third book in Mr. Eicher's The St. Lawrence County Amish (The first two are: A Heart Once Broken and Until I Love Again). ALWAYS CLOSE TO HOME stands alone as I didn't read the first two in this series. 

There are three romances in this story with three main characters. Lydia, Laura, and Nancy all struggle to gain acceptance for their loves as all three are discouraged from marrying the man of their dreams and encourage to settle with someone who is dependable. Except the dependable one turned into the meanest of characters when one of the three gave into the demands.  I liked him well enough at first, but not afterwards.  

I would've liked more details of the wedding that ended the book -- how did that man and woman really feel about each other -- since neither were a main character.  

Mr. Eicher's story was engaging and I enjoyed getting to know all three women and hearing their stories. 

If you like Amish romances I recommend Mr. Eicher's ALWAYS CLOSE TO HOME. 

I was given a copy free. All opinions are my own. 

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Killer Country Reunion

Killer Country Reunion 

(Love Inspired Suspense) 

Mass Market Paperback. ebook

June 5, 2018

by Jenna Night 

  • Mass Market Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense; Original edition 
  • ISBN-13: 978-1335490452

Her family’s being eliminated, one by one…

But he won’t let her be next

After gunmen attack Caroline Marsh, she’s stunned that she survives—and shocked that her rescuer is her ex-fiancĂ©, Zane Coleman. With her family’s safety on the line, there’s no time for grudges over the past. The killers on her trail won’t give up easily. And although Zane already left her once, for her own protection, he’s not about to lose Caroline again.

My thoughts:  As far as Love Inspired  Suspenses go, KILLER COUNTRY REUNION was kind of on the quiet side. I was worried it wouldn't be as it started out with the familiar bang and the heroine attacked without warning just out of the clear blue sky. Since her brother had just been murdered and he has an estranged wife fighting for custody and his money (not that he had any) Caroline is convinced it was pretty cut and dried. Owen must've stumbled into something--or his exwife had him murdered. 

BUT of course, it isn't that easy. It quieted down and days went by without an attack while Caroline and Zach get reacquainted and then the attacks start again.  

I thought I had figured out whodunit, but I was wrong.  I read the entire book through in an afternoon to find out who and why.  Ms. Night is a very talented author and she kept me guessing, and hoping for restoration with Caroline and Zach and even Zach and his dad. 

If you like romantic suspense, pick up a copy of KILLER COUNTRY REUNION. It will snag your interest. 

I was given a copy free. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Andi Dreams of Gold / Andi Far From Home

Andi Dreams of Gold 

(Circle C Stepping Stones #5) 

Paperback, ebook

July 17, 2018

by Susan K. Marlow 

  • Age Range: 7 - 10 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 4
  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Kregel Publications
  • ISBN-13: 978-0825444340

Andi Carter has gold fever! Someone near town has struck it rich. Now Andi can't stop wondering if there might be some of the glittery metal in the creeks on the Circle C ranch. Her brothers agree that she might find something that sparkles. But they laugh whenever they talk about it. Andi is determined--when she finds gold, she'll be the one laughing!

Her friend Cory is excited to track down treasure too, and together they set off on an adventure. Panning for gold is cold, wet, tiring work. But Andi and Cory won't give up.

Success! Just when they discover what they're looking for, real trouble shows up: a spring storm, a missing horse, and a frightening bear. And those are just the beginning.

My thoughts:  ANDI DREAMS OF GOLD is the fifth book in the Circle C Stepping Stones series for beginning chapter book readers but it easily stands alone. In this book Andi and her friend Cory go gold hunting, both of them expecting to strike it rich and making big plans for spending their earnings. Both kids are really naive about it - but Andi is only ten and Cory is 11 so it is realistic.  I liked Loonie Lou and the trouble Andi and Cory get into. 

Tween girls will love this book and this series, and it is great for summer reading programs that schools and libraries encourage for kids. My early teen daughter read this and she loved it, too. She is greatly excited to read all the Circle C stories, no matter which series it is in. 

If you have a beginning reader tween girl you might want to pick up ANDI DREAMS OF GOLD for her reading time. 

I was given a copy free. All opinions are my own. 


Andi Far from Home 

(Circle C Stepping Stones #6) 

Paperback, ebook

July 17, 2018

by Susan K. Marlow

  • Age Range: 7 - 10 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 4
  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Kregel Publications 
  • ISBN-13: 978-0825444357

When Fresno is hit with an unexpected outbreak of deadly scarlet fever, Andi Carter is scared. Her town friends are getting sick and school is closed until it passes. Far from the danger, at least Andi has her horse Taffy and plenty of work on the Circle C ranch to distract her.

But is she really safe? First one ranch hand, then two, and then her brother Mitch fall ill. Mother is convinced that the only way to protect Andi from this terrible disease is to send her far away to fussy Aunt Rebecca in San Francisco.

The noisy city and Aunt Rebecca's bossy ways may be worse than scarlet fever. But then Andi has an idea that might help save her friends back home . . .

My thoughts: ANDI FAR FROM HOME has a scarlet fever epidemic raging through Fresco, California. school and church closed, and Andi's family think she'll be safe on the ranch--until two of the ranch-hands and Andi's brother catch the highly contagious disease. Scared for Andi's life, her mother sends her to live with bossy Aunt Rebecca who finds fault with everything and worse won't talk to a doctor about going to Fresco to help out when the only doctor in town catches ill. 

Andi still manages to find fun--and trouble--when she befriends the little boy next door who has a cat who prefers mice to it's highly-fancy canned diet and keeps escaping the big house next door. A trip to the seashore and an earthquake adds more excitement to Andi's visit. 

Tween girls will love ANDI FAR FROM HOME is  a great book for summer reading programs for girls just beginning chapter books. My own teen daughter loves the Circle C series for girls. 

I was given a copy. All opinions are my own.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Falling for You

Falling for You by Becky Wade

Willow Bradford is content taking a break from modeling to run her family’s inn until she comes face-to-face with NFL quarterback Corbin Stewart, the man who broke her heart—and wants to win her back. When a decades-old family mystery brings them together, they’re forced to decide whether they can risk falling for one another all over again.

  • Series: A Bradford Sisters Romance
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Bethany House Publishers 
  • (May 1, 2018)
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764219375

Famously beautiful model Willow Bradford is taking a temporary break from her hectic schedule to work as the innkeeper at her family's small-town bed-and-breakfast. She was enjoying the peace of her hometown, Merryweather, Washington, right up until she came face-to-face with Corbin Stewart, the man she loves to hate. A thoughtful rule-follower by nature, Willow threw caution to the wind four years ago when she entrusted her heart to Corbin--and suffered the consequences when it all fell apart.

Former NFL quarterback Corbin is forceful, charming, and accustomed to getting what he wants . . . except where Willow Bradford is concerned. Unable to forget her, he's never stopped regretting what happened between them. When their paths unexpectedly cross again, he's determined to make her give him a second chance.

When a decades-old missing persons case finds Corbin and Willow working together, they're forced to confront their past and who they've become--and whether they can risk falling for one another all over again.

My thoughts: FALLING FOR YOU is Becky Wade's newest book. Becky Wade is a hugely popular author and I've tried her books a couple times, but just can't get into them.  I was planning on passing on this one, but my sixteen year old daughter also heard great things about Becky Wade and wanted to try it.  I don't want to influence her taste, so I told her she had to review it. She agreed. 

Said daughter's review: "It's all telling. She doesn't show. I can't get into it."  Book tossed down on my desk. Might I add said daughter is an avid reader and she reads almost everything that crosses her path?

Um. And I'm supposed to come up with a seventy-five word review from that?  So I picked the book up. I really really really wanted to like it because Ms. Wade IS a hugely popular author and well, super models and football players, cute little tween girls and a family mystery -- what isn't to like?  

Said daughter was right. It was all telling. I couldn't into it either and I did try.  Really I did.  Ms. Wade writes well, but the characters were distant, and even though they were flawed, I couldn't find myself liking them.  The tween girl seemed the best developed of the book.  

Don't listen to my thoughts though. Read the over 100 five star reviews and think about how wonderful Ms. Wade is. I am probably one of the few people who just don't get it. 

If you like football heroes, super models and long hidden family secrets -- not to mention drama -- you will likely love Becky Wade's FALLING FOR YOU.  

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Reading and Writing -- Old Friends? by Amberly Kristen Clowe

Reading and Writing -- Old Friends? 

by Amberly Kristen Clowe 

You know what first attracted me to my husband? (Besides his dashing good looks. For real.)

He made me laugh. 

And it wasn't some pity laugh. It was one of those don't-care-how-you-look, full-on belly laughs. After that, I was swooning all over the place. 

Over the years, I've discovered the same thing about my literary likes. When an author has that hilarious voice, the kind that you leaves you simultaneously reading and smiling without even realizing it, this is my jam. This is my happy place. 

I've perused so many library and bookstore shelves that I can now flip open a book and, usually within a paragraph, know if this story's for me. I know you know what I'm talking about. 

Well, guess what?

I write how I read. I'll rack my brain for the funniest way to speak to kids. I've always heard that authors should spend just as much time reading as writing, and I'm a total believer. Reading has helped me pinpoint what I enjoy, and when a writer truly enjoys her story, it shows. 

I'm curious. 

Is this the same for you? Do you grab the kind of titles you wish you had written? Do the books on your nightstand inspire your writing? 

And most importantly, can you recommend a hilarious work of fiction for moi


Amberly Kristen Clowe, an elementary school teacher, writes from her home in Kingwood, TX, where she lives with her husband, two children, and dog, Roxie. The author of two picture books and a chapter book, Amberly is an avid cycler and fan of all things coffee. Amberly spends her days teaching and crafting stories that share faith in a fun way with young readers. Teeny Sweeney and the Mustache Cash is the first chapter book in the brand new Teeny Sweeney series published with Little Lamb Books. 

Teeny Sweeney and the Mustache Cash blurb: 

Third-grader Teeny Sweeney has been one-upped by seemingly perfect Amanda Mayweather too many times. When their teacher assigns a project to create a business plan, Teeny knows she’s destined for success. After all, with two entrepreneurs as parents, business sense is in her blood! The best laid plans, though, often go awry. Teeny will have to learn that God’s plan is one she can always trust, and that with prayer it is possible to love everyone—even Amanda Mayweather. With Teeny, young readers will learn that even when things don’t seem to work out, you can always trust God’s plan.


Sign up for Amberly's monthly newsletter at her website, and also follow her weekly blog, Five Minute Friday, where she shares Bible lessons for children. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Andi Lassos Trouble / Andi to the Rescue

Andi Lassos Trouble 

(Circle C Stepping Stones #3) 

Paperback, ebook

November 28, 2017

by Susan K. Marlow

  • Age Range: 7 - 10 years
  • Grade Level: 2 - 3
  • Series: Circle C Stepping Stones (Book 3)
  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Kregel Publications
  • ISBN-13: 978-0825444326

When the Circle C ranch decides to host a rodeo competition with two other ranches, dozens of cowboys are eager to prove they're the best riders and ropers in the valley. But they're not the only ones who want to show off their skills--Andi aims to lasso her way to the prizes, even if big brother Chad says the contest isn't for kids.

The roundup is meant to be a time for food, fun, and friendship. But before Andi can prove she's got what it takes to be a real cowgirl, the day turns dangerous. Will a friendly rodeo turn into a range war between ranchers and sheepherders? Can Andi and her family keep their neighbors--and themselves--safe?

My thoughts: ANDI LASSOS TROUBLE is  a fun first chapter book for girls, full of suspense, humor, and of course adventure.  When Andi and her friends are treed by stampeding cattle and they notice different brands on the cows, they fear they've stumbled upon outlaws, but then they learn more exciting news--there's going to be a rodeo! Andi is determined to compete, but her horse is young and "green" and has to be trained for the lassoing. Andi takes to practicing on her friend's sheep, but that only adds a whole new level to the fun and trouble Andi finds. Beginning readers will love this book.  

I was given a copy free. All opinions are my own. 


Andi to the Rescue 

(Circle C Stepping Stones #4) 

Paperback, ebook

November 28, 2017

  • Age Range: 7 - 10 years
  • Grade Level: 2 - 3
  • Series: Circle C Stepping Stones (Book 4)
  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Kregel Publications 
  • ISBN-13: 978-0825444333

This is so embarrassing. Andi's teacher, Miss Hall, is sick--and Mother is the substitute teacher. What will Andi's friends think?

But it turns out embarrassment is the last thing Andi needs to worry about when two outlaws kidnap Andi and her mother after school in a case of mistaken identity! They can't even tell the kidnappers a mistake has been made without putting themselves in even more danger.

Now they're being held in a remote cabin until Mother can teach the man in charge how to read--and he's willing to go to any length to make it happen. Andi must escape and find help. But can she lead a rescue party back to Mother before the outlaws take their new teacher--and disappear forever?

My thoughts:  ANDI TO THE RESCUE is an exciting adventure when Andi and her mother are kidnapped by outlaws - with guns!  Andi is terrified but Mother remains calm, cool and collected.  My heart thumped with Andi's as she tried to find her way down the mountain--and yet remember to mark the way so the Sheriff could find his way there to arrest the outlaws and rescue Mother.  

Girls will be spellbound by this beginning chapter book and likely want to read it through from start to finish.  My young teen daughter was totally engaged.

I highly recommend this historical series for tween girls.  Each book stands alone so no need to read them in order. 

I was given a copy free. All opinions are my own