Friday, April 25, 2014

Book Review: The Last Bride

I am a big fan of books by Beverly Lewis and have read and reviewed several of her books in the past. Her latest book in the Home to Hickory Hollow series is The Last Bride. The Last Bride is the story of Tessie Miller. She is the only unmarried daughter in a family of five girls, but she is being courted by and plans to marry Marcus King. Her father refuses to allow the pair to marry, and won't explain his reasoning to Tessie and Marcus. Tessie and Marcus make the decision to elope at the local courthouse, then live as though they are single until the time is right to share what they've done with their families. They are sure their marriage will eventually be accepted by Tessie's father. Things don't go as they plan and when tragedy strikes, Tessie must face the consequences of her decision.

The setting of this series of books is a key component of each one. There are recurring characters, such as the Wise Woman Ella Mae, and brief references to previous characters, but the book truly is stand alone. It's not necessary to have read any of the other books in the series to enjoy this one - but I do recommend the others in the series as well. Throughout the course of the book, the reader sees the struggle that Tessie goes through as a result of the decision she made to go against her father's wishes by marrying Marcus. I think all of us can relate to taking situations into our own hands to do what we want, even when it might not be in our best interest. I did feel that some aspects of the plot were not as believeable and caused the storyline to take longer to resolve than it should have. Some of Tessie's decisions seemed strange to me, but I think that might be due her character being Amish and me being "English". That being said, I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to people that like reading Amish fiction.

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for this review; all opinions are my own.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Spring Style Me Challenge Catch Up

Happy Monday! I hope you all had a great Easter weekend. I am excited to maybe do a little bit of shopping this week since Lent is over. :)

I wanted to share a couple of my takes on the outfits for the Spring Style Me Challenge at Get Your Pretty On. It's been a lot of fun and I've gotten some great new ways to wear things that I already have which is always my mission.

This last outfit is what I wore for Easter. I put the last hem in my skirt before church. :)

I'm linking up!

I Feel Pretty @ Get Your Pretty On

pleated poppy

Tucker Up

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Book Review: A Shining Light

A Shining Light by Judith Miller is book #3 in the Home to Amana series. I read and reviewed book #2, A Simple Change, several months ago, so was pleased to get an opportunity to read another of these books.

A Shining Light is a historical fiction novel set in the late 1890's. The book begins in Baltimore where a young mother named Andrea receives the news that her husband has been lost at sea. Andrea has no way to support herself and her son, Lukas, so she makes the journey back to her childhood home and her family's farm. When she arrives, she is shocked to discover that her father has passed away and the farm was sold and now belongs to the Amana village located close to the farm. Andrea and Lukas must accept generosity from the people of Amana as they begin to live and work among them. All of this is a temporary solution as Andrea is not sure that she wants to stay in Amana forever. However, the longer she stays in the colonies, the more content and peaceful she feels.

The setting of the Amana colonies is an interesting and unique feature of this book. There are similarities to Amish fiction, but the lifestyle of these colonists is truly different from anything else I've read about. I really enjoy the rich history portrayed in this book and learned a great deal about the colonists from reading this book. I like the authentic way that the author dealt with Andrea's conflicting feelings about staying in Amana. The book contains more suspense and mystery than I anticipated, although this type of storyline was a part of the other book in the series that I read. Andrea and her son have a great deal to overcome in this book from dealing with an abusive husband and father to finding themselves without a way to support themselves. Much of this book deals with trusting in God for the future in spite of the difficulties we face. I would recommend this book to fans of historical and Amish fiction.

I received a copy of this book for free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for this review; all opinions are my own.

Book Review: A Broken Kind of Beautiful

I have three book reviews coming up and they all were excellent! Looking forward to sharing them with you. :)

First up is A Broken Kind of Beautiful by Katie Ganshert. I enjoyed her book that I reviewed previously, Wishing on Willows, so I was looking forward to reading this one as well.

A Broken Kind of Beautiful is the story of model Ivy Clark. She's been a top model in New York City for years, but at the age of 24, she is beginning to lose her command of the industry. There are always younger girls ready to be the "next big thing" and replace her. She never expects to end up back in Greenbrier, South Carolina modeling for her stepmother's new line of wedding gowns. She's willing to do this to try and remain a model, but she is surprised at the revelations she uncovers in this small town. She doesn't anticipate meeting a top-notch photographer, Davis Knight, while on this project and she's amazed that he used to be an up and coming photographer in the industry as well, but chose to leave the field and give up taking pictures.

This book was a wonderful contemporary Christian offering. It gave a great deal of insight into the fashion industry and shows how damaging it can be to focus only on our outward appearance. I think the story creates a compelling picture of God's love toward us and shows us that no matter what our past is like, it can be redeemed. I think it is a good reminder to realize that our worth doesn't come from our appearance or accomplishments, but instead our worth and identity comes from being a child of God. I really liked the characters in this book and felt that the whole book was very realistic in the way it conveyed the characters' emotions and struggles. I really found myself rooting for Ivy, Davis, Sara, Marilyn, and other characters throughout the course of the book. I would definitely recommend this book to readers that enjoy contemporary Christian fiction.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review; all opinions are my own.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Spring Thoughts

I haven't been posting too often, so thought I would check in. I am so glad that spring has arrived!

I'm participating in the Get Your Pretty On Spring Style Me Challenge. I've pulled the items for the challenge from my wardrobe (no clothes shopping during Lent - one more week!) except for a couple of necklace deals I found at Macy's and Penney's. I'm hoping to get photographs of some of the outfits to share here!

I've also been getting back into some sewing. Finished a custom order and am in the process of making a dog blanket for a customer, plus I made a baby blanket for a couple at church expecting their first little on in June.

I've made a couple of new recipes lately (oatmeal breakfast bars - I added chocolate chips! and creamy chicken and pasta - made a homemade white sauce and used pepperoni and bacon) and started this snack basket idea from Pinterest. My daughter really likes it!

I've also got a giveaway up on the blog Facebook page. Check it out and leave me a comment!

So what are you up to? We will be at church a lot this week for Holy Week. When will you have services? What are your Easter plans?

Saturday, April 5, 2014

What I Wore: Early Spring

A few early spring looks from the past week!

Black Skinnies: Target, Black Tee: Penney's, Boots: Target: Blazer: Target, Scarf: Charming Charlie, Bracelet: Elder-Beerman, Earrings: Avon

Boyfriend Jeans: Apt. 9 (thrifted), Plaid Shirt: Kohl's, Flats: Target, Necklace: Kohl's

Dress: Target, Boots: Target, Scarf: Target, Denim Jacket: Macy's, Bracelet: Elder-Beerman, Earrings: Groopdealz
I'm linking up!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Book Review: Hands Free Mama
I finished reading this book a little while back and it is definitely the type of book that gives the reader a lot to think about. Hands Free Mama by Rachel Macy Stafford is the author's story of realizing how distracted she was by cell phones, social media, her to-do list, and more. Once she became aware of this, she decided to stop living this way and developed strategies to help herself to be fully present with her family during their time together. I had previously seen The Hands Free Revolution on Facebook, and many of the posts I saw really resonated with me.

I really liked all of the practical ideas in the book. Divided into 12 chapters, each section includes reflections, intentions (action steps), personal stories and more. This is the type of book that can be worked through a little at a time and referred to over weeks and months as we make changes and develop new habits.

I have seen where some readers are working through this book one chapter at a time. I think that would be a great way to take small steps toward lasting changes. It would be easy to become overwhelmed with trying to read this book straight through and implement all the ideas at once.

That being said, I’d like to share a few of my favorite ideas from my initial reading of the book. In Chapter 1, the author really addresses being aware of the problem of distraction and makes the suggestion that the reader set up a time each day to take time off from technology. In Chapter 3, one idea that is mentioned is to involve children in daily household tasks. Sure, they take longer and might not get done quite right, but what a great way to spend time together, talk, and even teach! We’ve tried this a couple of times by allowing our daughter to assist us with chores she doesn’t usually help with. She really enjoys rinsing and loading the dishes.

This book is great for all of us that need a little reminder about what’s really important in life and how to take time and focus on our family and friends.
I received a copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

March Clothing Budget

I've given up shopping for clothes during Lent, so I don't have too much to share this month. I did pick up a couple items before Lent started on March 5th using Old Navy rewards. I also replaced a returned item from Christmas and got a few accessories.

March Purchases and Budget

Tan Merona Crossbody - Replacement from Christmas (On sale for $13.50)
Apt. 9 Crystal Statement Necklace - $1.65 (On clearance plus my mom had a $5 promo card she got in the mail and let me have)
Old Navy Gray Tee, Floral Sweatshirt, and Navy Tank (not pictured) - Free after rewards certificates
Gold Avon Hoops (not pictured) - $3.25
Leopard Print Scarf from the library gift shop (not pictured) - $9.65
Total spent: $14.55
While I'm not shopping too much, I've been working through the capsule wardrobe series at Greater Than Rubies (more to come) and cleaning out my closet. I just updated the Shop My Closet page, too!
I'm linking up to Franish!

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