Friday, August 30, 2013

How to Combat Sibling Rivalry by Guest Blogger Sara Dawkins


When you have more than one child you can also get sibling rivalry. The arguing and fighting between siblings seems almost inevitable. However, it does not need to escalate into an all-out war. While some arguing is expected, your children should not be at each other’s throats. Here are some ways to instill an enduring and tolerant love between siblings.

1.      Love equally– Many times sibling rivalry stems from a fear of being unloved. When a new baby enters a family the older child can feel left out or abandoned because the baby needs so much time and attention. You can help deal with this proactively by telling the older child that you love them and will not love them any less after the new baby is born. Try to explain to them that babies need more attention because they can’t take care of anything alone. Emphasize the fact that the older child can help you and the baby and be loved by you both. Make sure that even when the children get older you do not show preference for one over the other. Instead take the time to love each child for the things that make them special and point out what those things are.

2.      Separate times– In order to love more than one child at a time you need to make sure you give each child individual attention. This can be a few minutes or a trip that you and the child take alone. This little time away from the other sibling can help to make the child feel loved and like they got the attention they needed with no distractions. Even teens can get jealous, so be sure you make spending individual time with them a priority.

3.      Don’t compare– Never compare your kids. This is not fair and is very hurtful. Each child has a talent of their own. While one may excel in sports the other may be a great artist or thinker. That does not mean you should compare their grades, their art or their athletic ability. Instead try to find at least one thing to praise about each child. That way they feel like you appreciate their talents and are not wishing they were more like their sibling.

4.      Encourage cooperation– Last but not least, encourage cooperation instead of competition. Unconsciously many parents encourage competing in their kids. They do races, game and so on where one child can beat the other. Instead try to focus on team activities that allow each child to do what they are best at. You should also encourage them to help each other to become more well-rounded. If one child loves sports and the other loves to read, have each child help the other gain some ability in their preferred activity. They may not excel in it, but the spirit of teaching and helping can smooth over any angry feelings.

These are just a few of the ways you can help your children to overcome sibling rivalry. Start when they are small and make sure that all your children know you love them for who they are.

Author Bio

Sara is an active nanny as well as an active freelance writer. She is a frequent contributor of http://www.nannypro.com/.  Learn more about her http://www.nannypro.com/blog/sara-dawkins/.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Things That Make A Mom Chuckle



Sometimes you just have to laugh. Things have been tense around here. It's been a crazy couple of weeks with vacation Bible school, back-to-school, and the start of school. In addition, the Lil' Diva's birthday sleepover is tomorrow night. Unexpectedly, I have to pick up two of the girls. Normally that wouldn't be a big deal, but I have deadlines looming and had other plans for my Friday afternoon.

Today as I was cleaning--why I am cleaning so they can destroy the house tomorrow night, I don't know--I stumbled upon a note the Lil' Diva wrote out that says, "List for the Make Mom Angry Club." I didn't even know there was one of those. On it, are the names of my girls and the friends that are usually hanging out here. Out of the six girls, four of them--the ones that are here most of the time--are circled. I'm guessing the two names that are crossed out must be on my good list.

I'm saving this note for one day when she's older so I can show it to her. It will go perfectly with the portrait one of the girls' friends drew of me as the Cheryl Monster. I have red eyeballs, three legs, hands that look like horse hooves, and I am screaming, "No! No! No!"

Product Review: NatureBox Snacks



Here is a product I'm excited to share with you. I'm not one to use Facebook to find things to purchase, but an advertisement caught my eye and I clicked on it. NatureBox is a box of snacks shipped right to your door each month. I was able to test our first box for only $9.95 with free shipping. In the sample box we received six items:

  • Tart and Tangy Fruit Medley: cranberries and apples
  • Cherry Crumble Granola
  • Cherry Ganache Granola
  • Tuscan Summer Mix: seeds, nuts, herbs, sun-dried tomatoes, and Parmesan bran chips
  • Mango Almond Bites: crispy rice, mangoes, and pineapple
  • South Pacific Plantains
Because this was new to us, and because I wanted true opinions from my girls, I set up a little taste testing display at home. I gave each item a number, but didn't tell the girls what was in each snack. This took some convincing on the Lil' Princess' part, as she's not much into food adventures. She eats what she eats, but don't ask her to try new things.


Items 2, 3 and 6 were big hits here. The others were a mix of yes, no, and just okay. Dad really enjoyed the Tuscan Summer Mix, which actually made me think of the stuffing I make for Thanksgiving. My favorite item was the Cherry Ganache Granola and the girls went through that bag of plantains quickly. 

This month, we received the standard five snack box. The cost is $19.95 a month with free shipping. Our new selections were:

  • Smoky BBQ peas
  • Chia Seed Crackers
  • Salted Caramel Pretzel Pops
  • Cranberry Macaroon Granola
  • Sea Salt and Cracked Pepper Pumpkin Seeds
The girls loved the pretzel pops. My favorite and Dad's was the granola. I like granola anyway, so it was a given I would enjoy it. None of us liked the peas and we haven't worked up the courage to try the pumpkin seeds yet. 

Each shipment includes a card with color pictures of the contents. In addition, there are some suggestions on how you can use these snacks, such as topping a dessert with Cherry Crumble Granola or dipping the Chia Seed Crackers in hummus. Each card also has a recipe idea. 

What I love about NatureBox is that it helps me stick to my goal to help our family eat healthier. We've always been big snackers, so it's not realistic to say we will cut out snacks; but we can snack on better, healthier foods. I also like the convenience of the product being shipped right to my door. 

Having visited the company's website today, it looks like they are testing the ability for customers to personalize their NatureBox, which would be great. I don't want to pay for a box that has snacks my family won't eat. While I feel the price is a bit high for 5 - 4 to 5 oz. snack packages, the free shipping and convenience are a big plus. And since the girls ask me to pack these snacks for their lunches, I know the snacks they enjoy won't go to waste.


This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Teaser Tuesdays - August 27th

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!



"This is wrong!" I exclaimed. 
"Colonel Brookline, tell them what you discovered."

~ page 231 from Murder is Fine Art by David Morrell

Monday, August 26, 2013

You've Got Mail Monday



I didn't post one of these last week for two reasons: a) it was vacation Bible school week and I simply didn't have a lot of free time, and b) nothing much worth talking about arrived. I think I've got the post-Lil' Diva birthday bash blues. Rest assured, by the end of this week I'll be glad it's all over. We're having her friends sleep over Friday night. I'm already wondering if Calgon can take me away.

Here are the vendors who loved me enough last week to send catalogs my way: Mary Kay, Land's End, Grandin Road, and Bluestone Perennials. I really want to plant some bulbs this year, but I am so fickle that I planted some bulbs the second year we were here and then pulled them out a few years later. I also have a mostly shady area that we mulched this year that I would like to add plants to for next year.    

Planning to improve my overall health, I subscribed to Health magazine. I haven't read a single issue yet, but the article in the September 2013 issue featured on the cover that says, "Fight Flab and Win" is right up my alley. I could use some lean legs, a flat belly (I honestly don't remember what that looks like anymore), and a firm butt.

My recent issue of Homecoming Magazine also arrived. This is the Gaither magazine my in-laws purchased for me. The women of Homecoming are on the front cover. There's and interview with first lady Laura Bush and one with Amy Grant, who is one of my favorite artists. I have also somehow ended up with ESPN magazine. No one admits buying it for me and I know I didn't order it. The first issue that arrived was all about fitness and had several mostly naked bodies in it. This new issue covers college football. I don't watch football unless the New England Patriots are in the Super Bowl. I don't really understand the sport or its rules. I would much rather watch baseball or hockey.

The most fun gift that the mail carrier delivered to our doorstep is a new book I hope will help with my garden--A Homeowner's Guide to Landscaping with Fruit by Lee Reich. It includes numerous ideas to make "your yard an edible paradise."  This book features landscape design basics; things to consider such as climate, soil, and sun; selecting plants, pollination, pest control, and soil care; landscaping plans, and a guide  to fruiting landscape plants. I had no idea there was such a thing as a raisin tree! I'm eager to dive into this book as I try to add more fruits to my garden.

That's it for this week's You've Got Mail Monday. Hope you all have a great week.  

Friday, August 23, 2013

Garden Update



I'm way overdue with a garden update. When we came back home from the Outer Banks in July, I found my herbs in rough condition. It was hotter up here than down south; and though the garden was watered in our absence, a friendly woodchuck was helping himself to our parsley and oregano. The rosemary and thyme fared even worse; not handling the heat at all. I harvested what I could, but the plants died off. I wish I could grow them in my house, but the sun comes up over the front of the house, which has a porch on it. The only window I could put plants in also happens to be the youngest cat Giggles' sleeping spot, and she eats every plant she can reach. The parsley and oregano bounced back and we've been enjoying them in our chicken dishes.




The Lil' Princess' cabbage grew and grew. I originally had it in a container, but moved it into her garden. We enjoyed some wonderful coleslaw and cabbage salad as a result.



The Lil' Diva's best crop this year by far has been pumpkins. She has seven little ones growing right now. It must be the place her garden sits, because she had several pumpkins last year, too, but the Lil' Princess struggles to grow one or two before powdery mildew kills off her plant. I've used fungicide, but it hasn't helped any.

My best crops have been tomatoes, potatoes, and onions. I've never grown potatoes and onions before, but I thought I would give it a whirl. The potatoes and onions from the garden have been delicious. I love the potatoes so much I simply bake them in the microwave and eat them plain. I've used the onions in almost every supper dish I've made since I harvested them. The tomato plants grew like gang busters this year and I had to put in extra supports to hold them up. My hubby isn't a tomato sauce fan, but I tweaked a recipe I found in my canning and preserving cookbook and he had pasta with sauce.

What didn't work for us this year? We've been unsuccessful in growing these plants from seed: broccoli, spinach, squash, cauliflower, and strawberry. I purchased a spinach plant from Home Depot, but it was close to dead when we came home from vacation. The heat simply did it in. We ended up buying a strawberry plant and put it in the Lil' Diva's garden, but her pumpkin plant swallowed it up. By the time I moved it to a different location, we didn't get any berries from it. I'm trying to find a way to expand the garden next year and get rid of the raised beds.

Our blueberry bushes didn't give us any fruit yet, but we had several delicious red grapes to snack on. If I expand the garden, I'm planning on moving all the fruit plants over to the other side of the yard and building a trellis for the grapevines. I have supports in their now, but I think they will grow like gangbusters if I give them some room. I had purchased two blackberry bushes, but only one survived the new roof being put in. Actually, many of the new bushes we added this year struggled thanks to being covered by tarps and having roof shingles tossed around them. I think they'll come back next year.



The flower garden I put in front offered mixed results. The Catmint (Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low) and the Yarrow (Achillea ‘Fireland) have grown in nicely. The Penstemon Navigator Mixture didn't like this year's heat. I'll have to be sure to water them more often next year.

I already have my next project figured out. I am going to take a shady portion of the yard where mostly moss grows and put in two or three sections of fence to hide the compost pile. We've tried to grow grass, but it's too wet there and the tree cover too dense. It's the far corner of the yard anyway. Inside the fencing, I'll pull up the moss, then add a couple of standing bird feeders and a bird bath, then mulch the rest of the area. That should keep the birds, chipmunks, and hopefully other critters farther away from the vegetables. I find if I feed them regularly they are better about leaving my vegetable alone.

The second season vegetables are in, but not much seems to be happening. I might have planted them too late. I put them in the last week of July, but August has been cool. I see some of the salad greens coming up, but not much else. We'll see what happens. I'm actually in the mood to plant the winter rye crop cover. I'm ready to be done and plan for fall.


Designed for Relationship Winner!




Congratulations goes out to Dorothy T., who won a copy of Designed for Relationship by T. J. MacLeslie.

Thanks to all who participated. Look for more giveaways coming soon.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

How Writing Book Reviews Can Develop Your Child's Analytical Skills




The analytical thinker can reason and address problems effectively. They'll see a problem or understand how something needs to be accomplished and then carry out steps toward a solution. Analytical thinking sometimes is a natural quality within a person, but more often than not it needs to be taught. One creative way to instill analytical skills within your child is to have him write book reviews, a multi-step process. Here's what you need to know and do if you're looking to make this idea a reality

It's a Review
Reviews are opinions. Opinions are one of the first steps towards analytical thinking. Many times we aren't given the chance to make our opinions known, or if we offer them, we're made to feel they're wrong. If a child is encouraged to review a book or story, it will allow her to open up her mind to what she truly thought about it. Explain how reviewers are many times paid to give their opinion, such as Siskel and Ebert, the famous movie reviewers. Rotten Tomatoes is a great website for seeing if a current motion picture is good or bad, and it also aggregates reviews through analysis to come to a consensus.

It's About Freedom
Great analytical thinkers are created when given the freedom to not be afraid of their thought process. Creative solutions arise out of people that are comfortable with their own thoughts and processes to come up with an end result that others may not think of. Someone like Steve Jobs never would have given the world the products he did if he hadn't been encouraged to be an analytical thinker. He saw need and produced results, many times needs we didn't t even know we had.

In the story of Cinderella, who would've ever thought that the lowly servant girl would need transportation to the ball eventually? And who could've anticipated the solution of a simple pumpkin being turned into a regal coach? If your child didn’t like a portion of a story, encourage her to voice that opinion. Perhaps in the same story, she thinks it is silly that the birds help Cinderella get dressed. Help your child tell you why she didn’t like that section. This will empower a child to start to understand that her opinion matters.

It's a Process
When writing a book review, a child will get a chance to not only read a good book, but look at the book in a series of steps. This will make him view it from a completely different angle. He'll be forced to deconstruct the entire process. Every good story has a beginning, middle and end. Make your child identify these parts in the book and realize that life is like this. Emphasize that problems have beginnings, middles and ends. Have him write about what the “problem” is in the book, then outline and concentrate on the steps that were taken by the characters to come to a solution. Again, relate this to how tasks or problems can be approached in this manner in real life. Sometimes it's just a matter of breaking something down (placing it within a larger context) to understand it, especially if he's stuck somewhere.

Perhaps she's reading about the prince in Cinderella where he is looking for his love from the ball who lost her slipper. If the prince simply sat at home and stared at the slipper, wishing for the owner to show up and claim it, it would've been a much different book. Instead, the prince goes into the world and tries every possible solution he can think of to finally realize his dream.

Reading is one of the greatest gifts we can give a child. Going beyond that gift and into the world of understanding and deconstructing what they read will go beyond providing a great gift--it will hone their analytical skills, something infinitely important in today's job market and education system.

Joseph Rodriguez writes about all things related to child development and psychology. His recent work is about the Top Online Early Childhood Education Degree Programs.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Vinland Viking Winner!



Congratulations goes out to Patty W! She picks up a digital version of Vinland Viking by Gary L. Doman.

Thanks to all who participated. Check out our sidebar for more current giveaways.

WWW Wednesday - August 21st



This weekly meme is hosted by Should Be Reading.

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?


What are you currently reading?


Loving this one so far.

A ghost in Colonial dress has been wreaking havoc at an old plantation house in Virginia. The house is owned by Elizabeth Smithwood, the best friend of Ellen McKenzie’s Aunt Mary. Mary is determined to fly to the rescue, and Ellen has no choice but to leave her real estate business and new husband to accompany her. Who else will keep the old girl out of trouble? When Ellen and Aunt Mary arrive, they find that Elizabeth’s “house” comprises three sprawling buildings containing all manner of secret entrances and passages, not to mention slave cabins. But who owns what and who owned whom? After Monty—the so-called ghost and stepson of Elizabeth’s dead husband—turns up dead in Elizabeth’s house, suspicion falls on her. Especially when the cause of death is a poisoned glass of syllabub taken from a batch of the sweet, creamy after-dinner drink sitting in Elizabeth’s refrigerator. Monty had enemies to spare. Why was he roaming the old house? What was he searching for? To find the truth, Ellen and her Aunt Mary will have to do much more than rummage through stacks of old crates; they will have to expose two hundred years of grudges and vendettas. The spirits they disturb are far deadlier than the one who brought them to Virginia. Murder by Syllabub is the fifth book of the Ellen McKenzie Mystery series.

What did you recently finish reading?



Gen's family is more comfortable spending time apart than together. Then Gen's mom signs them up for Camp Frontier—a vacation that promises the "thrill" of living like 1890s pioneers. Forced to give up all of her modern possessions, Gen nevertheless manages to email her friends back home about life at "Little Hell on the Prairie," as she's renamed the camp. It turns out frontier life isn't without its good points—like the cute boy who lives in the next clearing. And when her friends turn her emails into a blog, Gen is happily surprised by the fanbase that springs up. But just when it seems Gen and family might pull through the summer, disaster strikes as a TV crew descends on the camp, intent on discovering the girl behind the nationwide blogging sensation—and perhaps ruining the best vacation Gen has ever had.

Fabulous book. The author took her love for Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder and used it as inspiration for a modern day story that today's kids will enjoy.

What do you think you’ll read next?


No one believed she was destined for greatness—until she became one of history’s most powerful and controversial queens.

Young Isabella is barely a teenager when she is thrust into danger. Suspected of treason and held captive, she treads a perilous path, until, at age seventeen, she finds herself heiress of Castile, the largest kingdom in Spain. Plunged into a deadly conflict to secure her crown, she is determined to wed the one man whom she has vowed to love yet is forbidden to her—Fernando, prince of Aragón.

As together they unite their two realms under "one crown, one country, one faith," Isabella and Fernando face an impoverished Spain beset by enemies. With the future of her throne at stake, Isabella resists the zealous demands of the inquisitor, Torquemada, even as she is seduced by the dreams of an enigmatic navigator named Columbus. But when a violent, treacherous battle against an ancient adversary erupts, it will test Isabella’s resolve, her courage, and her tenacious belief in her destiny . . . .

From the glorious palaces of Segovia to the battlefields of Granada and intrigue-laden gardens of Seville, The Queen’s Vow sweeps us into the tumultuous forging of a nation and the complex, fascinating heart of the woman who overcame all odds to become Isabella of Castile.

I've been trying to get through this book in between my reviewing commitments. I love the author's work, and if I could simply concentrate on this book alone I'm sure I could polish it off within a few days. If I finish Murder by Syllabub early, I should have time to get to it. If not, I'll be reading, Who I Be by Annie Brown next.

Wordless Wednesday


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Career Advancement Opportunities For Book Reviewers




If you love to read, then you should consider doing it for a living. A book reviewer is someone who loans their opinion on recent books to publishing houses. There are many ways that you can begin earning extra money doing what you love best. However, this can be a rare opportunity, and you'll need to actively search for it. The following tips will help you advance your career opportunities as a book reviewer.

1) Establish Yourself
If you want to be recognized with publishers, then you need to get your name out there first and foremost. You can join mailing lists, apply for reading internships, or even offer your services free of charge. You want them to know you, so that your name comes to mind if and when an appropriate opportunity arises.

You could also try starting a website featuring your previous work. Try to join programs like Amazon's Vine, where you can give reviews on an easily accessible platform. There's plenty you can do to build a positive reputation as a new book reviewer. However, you have to be willing to be creative and take your chances when it comes to a succeeding in a profession like this one.

2) Create a Blog
One of the best things you can do is create a blog about books. It can be full of your personal thoughts of the publishing industry and the latest bestsellers. Link to your favorite book blogs and author sites to build your connections. If you write well and engage the reader, then others will take notice.

3) Reach Out to Self-Published Writers
If you really want to start reviewing books, then try reaching out to self published writers. They might be willing to send you an advanced ready copy or a digital file of their work in exchange for your opinion. This might not be paid work in the beginning, but it could definitely lead somewhere.

4) Send a Portfolio to Major Literary Agents, Publishing Houses etc.
Every aspiring and talented book reviewer should have a portfolio of their past reviews. Try sending this to publishing houses to get work. If they like your style, then they just might hire you.You can even reach out to literary agents who need help reading all of the books they receive on a weekly basis. Who knows? You might find the next Nicolas Sparks or J.K. Rowling!

As you can see, there are plenty of ways for you to advance your career as a book reviewer. You just need to be proactive as this career path is not very well known. You will need to be willing to read all kinds of books from mystical young adult fiction to autobiographies of presidents. The key part of this job is to read everything with an open and objective mind. This is what will make a you a sought after and successful book reviewer.

Joseph Rodriguez writes about literature and education. His recent work is about the Top 10 Masters in Creative Writing Online Programs.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Series Spotlight: The Magic Crystals by Stephen Hayes




The Magic Crystals is a story of the greatest power in the world, a power so supreme that it can control most aspects of life. Amazing if used for good, terribly dangerous if in the wrong hands, the question throughout is exactly how this power should be used.

Should it be wielded to its fullest extent to benefit all of humankind, or tamed in order to protect others from it?

Follow a group of teenagers from out in the bush as they are forced to mature rapidly as the world they always knew unravels around them. Watch as romance blossoms and is then tested by circumstance; listen as the youngsters resort to ridiculous humour in the face of danger just to find something to smile about; and above all, enjoy an intense and somewhat controversial tale of how human society can become so horribly unstuck simply due to mankind’s own insidious nature in the face of power.

Purchase your copy of The Seventh Sorcerer:

AMAZON | BARNES and NOBLE

Purchase your copy of Rock Haulter:

AMAZON | BARNES and NOBLE



Stephen Hayes lives and writes in Melbourne, Australia. Having been born partially blind in 1986 and lost his limited vision in 2000, he started writing stories at the age of eight, winning the Harold Dickinson Memorial Australian Literary Competition for a short story about a haunted house at the age of eleven. He completed his first novella in Braille at fourteen and by sixteen, had completed the first draft of ‘The Seventh Sorcerer’.

Since 2002, Stephen has allowed his imagination to run wild with The Magic Crystals saga; sometimes pushing boundaries that today’s somewhat moral society deem to sweep under the carpet. Although classified as fantasy genre due mainly to the prominent magic component, Stephen’s writing also includes a good balance of drama, mystery, romance, humour, and he isn’t afraid to address controversial moral issues.

His latest books are The Seventh Sorcerer and Rock Haulter from The Magic Crystals Series.

Visit his website at www.themagiccrystals.com.


Friday, August 16, 2013

Guest Blogger and Giveaway: T.J. MacLeslie, Author of Designed for Relationship


Mankind has always struggled with the big questions: Why are we here? What is life all about? The search for answers has led in many directions, not all of them helpful. In this age, we are inundated with information, but this flood of knowledge has not necessarily produced wisdom. We find answers to the really important questions as elusive as ever.

It really is all about relationship! This is the open secret, hidden in plain sight all along.

Purchase paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Designed-Relationship-Learning-Love-God/dp/0989016609

Purchase digital: http://www.amazon.com/Designed-Relationship-Learning-Love-ebook/dp/B00DJZW286



An Invitation by T.J. MacLeslie

There are many ideas about God circulating these days. Many of these portraits of God are ultimately lacking — painted with blacks and whites, depicting a forbidding and distant monarch or judge as their subject. Some are soft and blurry like the warm fuzziness of a Hollywood close-up but with little substance and clarity. Few today depict God as Trinity inviting us into a radically realigning relationship with Himself.

The Bible teaches that behind everything that exists is an eternal, divine Community. God is, by definition, always relating. God is not a force, but a unity of persons. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are each persons with emotions, will, intellect, etc. Together, They are the one true God.

This relational God chose to create us and to reveal Himself to us. This revelation of Himself actually started before the creation of the first human. He showed forth His power and wisdom in creation before there was a single person outside His Trinitarian Self to appreciate it. Before the foundation of the world, God is, and God is community. Our God is One and Three; the One true God of the Bible is not a singularity but a plurality. This is the mystery of the Tri-unity, the Trinity.

This Trinitarian Being created humans in Their image. When They created the first human, They invited us into fellowship with Them. As creatures made in the image of God, humans also are inherently relational because we were made to relate to God. Our capacities are best expressed in and through relationships. We were designed with eternal relationship in mind. We were imbued with an incredible capacity for love and unbroken relationship with God and one another. Scripture speaks of our time living and working in relationship with God and one another in paradise. We were given freedom to explore the world that points to Him – to walk and talk with Him in the paradise of His creation. Unfortunately, we spoiled paradise. Ever since, we live in a world of compounding unintended consequences. We were made for perfect, never-ending relationships; but we live in a broken world – a world where death destroys even the strongest of human relationships.

We were designed with the capacity for community, but we are born into a damaged world – a world where we experience isolation and separateness from birth. Many of us have been neglected by those who should have nurtured, preyed upon by those who should have protected. No matter what our family background, we have all experienced this brokenness, although not necessarily to the same degree. Through these and other experiences, we become isolated from one another. In extreme cases, we lose the ability to connect with others at all. Even the less wounded of us have been damaged in some way. We have all had our relational capacity stunted. We are broken, but not beyond repair. There is hope!

Today, even right now, the invitation is before us!


T.J. MacLeslie has been involved in a variety of Christian ministries since 1990, including pastoring, church planting, leadership development, prayer, and spiritual formation. He currently lives in the UK with his wife and two children where he leads a team focused on prayer and spiritual formation. You'll often find him walking the fields with his dog, reading a book, or enjoying a warm cup of coffee.

Visit the author online at http://www.about.me/tj_macleslie and his publisher at www.ParvaimPress.com.


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Journal, just in case . . .

I didn’t ask to meet ghosts. Shoot, I was fine without them in my life. Uncle Craig and Hannah were nasty to me, but at least I knew how to handle living pains in the butt. Now I have to figure out how to open and close a portal between the human and spirit worlds. And I have to find and return a bunch of angry ghosts through the gateway and lock them on their side. I don’t know why the portal chose me to do this, a fifteen-year-old kid with no ghost busting experience. But it did. And if I want a ghost-free night’s sleep anytime soon, I’d better figure out how to get the job done. Because I’ve about had it with murderous ghouls and their unpleasant agendas. “Signed Tallis Challinor”

After the death of her parents, Tallis Challinor and her brother Wyatt must move to the Midwest to live with their dead mother’s sister and her family. When Aunt Sandra dies three-and-a-half years later, Tallis and Wyatt find themselves moving yet again, this time to New Hampshire to live with their father’s sister, Aunt Gabbie, and her husband Noreis. Gabbie is young, pretty and fun. Tallis remembers being a little girl and playing with her Aunt at the family home in California, before her parents died. So Tallis is excited to re-locate and reconnect with Gabbie. But what should have been a happy reunion is plagued with problems when Noreis opens a portal between the spirit and human worlds located in the basement of the house.

Tallis is a practical kid. She doesn’t believe that ghosts exist. But she can’t deny what she sees with her own eyes and the two ghosts Tallis meets at Thanksgiving in the basement of her aunt’s house are definitely not figments of her imagination, although she wishes they were. Tallis is unwittingly drawn into the portal’s energy when one of the ghosts fixates on her and forces her to assist in the release of three particularly nasty spirits. As a final blow, the portal chooses Tallis as a temporary gatekeeper and she finds herself charged with the duty of returning the very ghouls she’s set free, plus a few of their buddies, back to the spirit realm.

As Tallis learns the secrets of the portal and begins to understand her newly acquired power, she formulates a plan to return the ghosts. Along the way, she receives help from many new friends who fill in the details about the identity of the escaped spirits, providing a possible motive for the outrageous actions of the escaped ghosts. Tallis must learn to trust herself and others as she taps into her inner courage to get the job done and save her town from the angry restless dead set.

Read an excerpt!

April 29th, 2:30 in the morning

One week to go.

I feel it, the nearness of the spirits. The fact thateverything is aligning to some sort of conclusion. I hope I’m ready. I hope I have the power to finish this thing. And, I hope that Gregory Millard calls soon.

The shrill ring of the phone pierced the late night silence ofthe house, startling me out of an exhausted sleep. My body jerkedto semi-awareness and I reached for it, knocking it to the floor inmy confusion. I reached down, patted the floor, and finally foundthe phone as it rang for the third time.

“Yeah?” I mumbled.

“Hello, can you hear me?” shouted a voice I didn’t recognize.

I was groggy with sleep and confused as to my exact location.The voice continued hollering at me, but I had trouble focusing on it as my sluggish brain worked to figure out why I wasn’t in my bed. Finally, I remembered that I’d fallen asleep on the sofa in the front room. Satisfied that I could place my body in space, Idirected my mind to the person who was calling. A glance at the clock on the wall said it was 2:00. In the morning.
“Who is this?” I asked, stretching my neck until I felt a loud,satisfying crack.

“My name is …” a male voice started, then abruptly stopped.The connection appeared to be lost.

“Hey, are you there?” I hollered back into the phone, assuming that if the caller had to yell to be heard, he needed me to yell back at him.

“Tallis, what’s going on down there?” my aunt, Gabbie, called to me. She hurried down the creaky, wooden staircase.

“Phone call,” I mumbled when she appeared in the doorway.“But I think the connection’s broken. It wasn’t too good to start with.”

Gabbie moved to my side and looked down at me. The flickering fire in the wood stove illuminated the paleness of her skin and amplified the heavy shadows under her eyes. She looked awful, much older than her twenty-seven years.

“Do you think?” she began, and then swallowed. “Is it him?”

I shook my head. “I don’t know.”

The voice burst through the static. “Gregory Millard.” He was gone again.

Purchase your copy:

AMAZON


KD Pryor started life in Missouri, where she read lots of books, even sneaking them into baseball

games to the irritation of her father. Kelley graduated with a degree in International and Comparative Studies from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. After college and marriage to a great guy, she decided to pursue a law degree at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. Her oldest son was born soon after law school, followed three years later by her daughter and a move to Kentucky. One more son, a move to Ohio and four years later, her family jumped on the opportunity to move to India. They lived in Bangalore, now Bengaluru, for four wonderfully chaotic years, traveling all over Asia, Australia and Europe.

Now, settled in New Hampshire with her family and herd of cats (only three), she can often be found in her office, working on the next installment of “The Gatekeepers of Em’pyrean” series, reading one of a dozen books she has started, and dreaming of her future travel destinations.

“The Portal’s Choice,” book one in “The Gatekeeper’s of Em’pyrean” series featuring Tallis Challinor, was released on May 6, 2013.

“The Forgotten Gate”, book two in the series, is scheduled for release in 2014.

Visit her website at www.kdpryor.com.


Connect and Socialize with KD!

Pump Up Your Book and KD Pryor  are teaming up to give you a chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash!

Terms and Conditions:

  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Amazon Gift Certificate or Paypal Cash.
  • This giveaway begins August 5 and ends August 30.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on Monday, September 3, 2013.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!


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Monday, August 5The Road to Here
Monday, August 5Margay Leah Justice
Wednesday, August 7Books and Needlepoint
Wednesday, August 7Moonlight Lace & Mayhem
Thursday, August 8Literary Winner
Thursday, August 8Mom With a Kindle
Friday, August 9My Devotional Thoughts
Friday, August 9Inside BJ’s Head
———–
Monday, August 12Mary’s Cup of Tea
Monday, August 12Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews
Tuesday, August 13Rainy Days and Pajamas
Wednesday, August 14Books Books the Magical Fruit
Wednesday, August 14Books R Us
Thursday, August 15Must Read Faster
Friday, August 16The Busy Mom’s Daily
———–
Monday, August 19Book Reviews by Dee
Monday, August 19Literarily Speaking
Tuesday, August 20Authors and Readers Book Corner
Tuesday, August 20Miki’s Hope
Wednesday, August 21The Dark Phantom
Wednesday, August 21Mom in Love With Fiction
Thursday, August 22Sidewalk Shoes
Friday, August 23Review From Here
———–
Monday, August 26Lori’s Reading Corner
Tuesday, August 27Beyond the Books
Wednesday, August 28The Writer’s Life
Thursday, August 29Queen of All She Reads
Friday, August 30Janna Shay’s Fair Play

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Diary of a Busy Mom - End of Summer Blues



There are days I wonder if I am deficient when it comes to motherhood. There are posts all over Facebook from moms I know who are basking in the exploits of their children, praising God for blessing them with their little ones, and sharing all kinds of photos.

Me? I’m sitting her counting the days—13 to be exact—until the girls go back to school so that I can hear myself think. I’m tired of the fighting and the name calling that goes on between the two of them, even though I feel like it’s partially my fault for being so busy lately I haven’t lined up play dates or other exciting things for them to do while their friends are away on vacation.

Every August is like this. We go on vacation in July, but their neighborhood friends vacation later in the summer. Right now, there isn’t a single one of the neighbors’ kids they usually play with around. If I weren’t tied to my computer and money wasn’t so tight right now, we could do more. I could take them out and break up some of the time. But visiting the library doesn’t cut it at this point in the summer and everything they want to do involves spending bucket loads of cash.

Thankfully, next week is vacation Bible school and they are looking forward to it. We don’t have to be at church until around 6 p.m., but I’ll have plenty of running around to do during the day to keep them occupied.

Okay, enough whining. I think maybe we’ll go bake some cookies—if we can manage it without one of them calling the other person an idiot. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

WWW Wednesdays - August 14th



This weekly meme is hosted by Should Be Reading.

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?


Gen's family is more comfortable spending time apart than together. Then Gen's mom signs them up for Camp Frontier—a vacation that promises the "thrill" of living like 1890s pioneers. Forced to give up all of her modern possessions, Gen nevertheless manages to email her friends back home about life at "Little Hell on the Prairie," as she's renamed the camp. It turns out frontier life isn't without its good points—like the cute boy who lives in the next clearing. And when her friends turn her emails into a blog, Gen is happily surprised by the fanbase that springs up. But just when it seems Gen and family might pull through the summer, disaster strikes as a TV crew descends on the camp, intent on discovering the girl behind the nationwide blogging sensation—and perhaps ruining the best vacation Gen has ever had.

This book is hilarious. I haven't laughed this loud in a long time.

What did you recently finish reading?


Mankind has always struggled with the big questions: Why are we here? What is life all about? The search for answers has led in many directions, not all of them helpful. In this age, we are inundated with information, but this flood of knowledge has not necessarily produced wisdom. We find answers to the really important questions as elusive as ever.

It really is all about relationship! This is the open secret, hidden in plain sight all along.

This is an eloquently written, powerful book for those looking to study the relational aspect of God and those wanting to learn how to love Him.

What do you think you’ll read next?



A ghost in Colonial dress has been wreaking havoc at an old plantation house in Virginia. The house is owned by Elizabeth Smithwood, the best friend of Ellen McKenzie’s Aunt Mary. Mary is determined to fly to the rescue, and Ellen has no choice but to leave her real estate business and new husband to accompany her. Who else will keep the old girl out of trouble? When Ellen and Aunt Mary arrive, they find that Elizabeth’s “house” comprises three sprawling buildings containing all manner of secret entrances and passages, not to mention slave cabins. But who owns what and who owned whom? After Monty—the so-called ghost and stepson of Elizabeth’s dead husband—turns up dead in Elizabeth’s house, suspicion falls on her. Especially when the cause of death is a poisoned glass of syllabub taken from a batch of the sweet, creamy after-dinner drink sitting in Elizabeth’s refrigerator. Monty had enemies to spare. Why was he roaming the old house? What was he searching for? To find the truth, Ellen and her Aunt Mary will have to do much more than rummage through stacks of old crates; they will have to expose two hundred years of grudges and vendettas. The spirits they disturb are far deadlier than the one who brought them to Virginia. Murder by Syllabub is the fifth book of the Ellen McKenzie Mystery series.

This one should be next because I'm due to review it at the beginning of September at The Book Connection.

Wordless Wednesday


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Upcoming Product & Show Reviews



Things have been crazy around here, so I haven't reviewed many products lately. Here is what's coming up soon.

  • Arthur Stands Up to Bullying (DVD from PBS Kids)
  • Super Why! Hansel and Gretel: A Healthy Adventure (DVD from PBS Kids)
  • NatureBox snacks
  • Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Tall sneakers
  • Scott Naturals paper towels

Teaser Tuesdays - August 13th

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!


It wasn't fair. None of this was fair. How could everything she'd held onto slip through her fingers so quickly?

~ Location 2771 of 4536 from A Heart Deceived by Michelle Griep

Monday, August 12, 2013

You've Got Mail Monday



Well, we all survived the Lil' Diva's birthday. She was actually gone for the two days leading up to her birthday. Dad and I dropped her and the Lil' Princess off to their aunt and uncle and played single adults for two nights. We ate out at Longhorns on Friday night, then attended a KISS concert on Saturday night. Yes, KISS. What can I say, Dad has loved them since he was a kid and who knows how much longer Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and crew will be prancing around on stage. They are over 60.


KISS put on a great show. You have to appreciate their marketing abilities. Ads running on the big screen went from the KISS Kruise, to KISS mini-golf, to KISS Chapel weddings. Gene Simmons has a net worth of about $300 million, so the guy knows what he's doing.

Okay, back to the Lil' Diva. She and her sister came home on Sunday to celebrate with the family. We had a little cookout, ordered some wings from a local restaurant (yum), and opened gifts. That crazy gift I said she would be thrilled with--she was. And again, you'll be amazed when I tell you what it is.


Yes, my daughter is now the owner of a late 1930s - 1940s manual typewriter. The thing is so old it doesn't have a number 1 key. I bought some ribbons for it, and you would think this is the best thing ever created. She's using it constantly; loves it just as much as her laptop. Why? It's hellish to use. The ribbon sometimes doesn't go back into place and you have to use white out to correct any mistakes.

We also picked her up these great boots by Fergie. She's taller than me with them on.



These gifts, along with the golf practice net, golf balls, and tees all arrived thanks to our friendly mailman. 

The only other thing worth mentioning--unless you would like me to run through all my bills--is a book I'll be reviewing over at The Children's and Teens' Book Connection. Soccer Dreams by Clare Hodgson Meeker is a nonfiction book about a boy who moved from Kenya to Seattle and helps his soccer coach build a winning team. It's filled with illustrations and photographs. The Lil' Princess, our resident soccer player, is eager to read it. 

That's it for this week. Hope you have a great one.


Friday, August 9, 2013

Guest Post and Giveaway: Vinland Viking: An Original Saga by Gary L. Doman


The novella Vinland Viking is an epic fantasy-adventure, set at the time of the conversion to Christianity of Iceland and Greenland, about a young Northman who longs to lead the storied life of the pagan Vikings. His opportunity comes with Leif Ericsson’s exploration in North America, but his fortunes change in a way and by a means that he could never have anticipated, and which will thrill the reader.

The richly-textured narrative incorporates history, nature, and mythology, along with plenty of action. It is told from a Christian viewpoint, but can be enjoyed by a general audience, and, unlike so many other fiction stories, is acceptable reading for the young.


PURCHASE AT AMAZON!

Inspiration for “Vinland Viking: An Original Saga by Gary L. Doman” may have originally come not from books but from films. I've always liked motion pictures—not "movies", please!—in the genres of adventure and fantasy. (In fact, I once considered writing for the screen rather than for the bookshelf, and consequently started to rewrite a work of mine as a screenplay. I quickly abandoned the experiment, however, upon finding it less satisfying than being able to create the world of my characters without the cooperation of actors, a director, et cetera.) All the stories that I'm planning to write are adventures; “Vinland Viking” incorporates a large amount of fantasy as well. More immediate inspiration resulted from the convergence of three things: When the year 2000 came along, people spoke of "the" millennium, which prompted me to explore my imagination as to what kind of story might take place at the end of the first millennium AD; I had interest in the Vikings, but I didn't want a pagan for a protagonist; and, I noticed the parallels between Norse myth and Christian belief. I can't say any more, for fear of giving away the plot!

I first tried to get “Vinland Viking” published about a decade ago, when my uncle-in-law, who worked for the AmeriCorps Press, invited me to send him my manuscript. Later he told me that the AmeriCorps Press had decided against publishing any fiction that year, but by then a friend had told me about PublishAmerica, and so I submitted “Vinland Viking” to that firm, who accepted it. It went into print in 2005, but it didn't get as much publicity as I think it deserves, and consequently, didn't sell as well as it ought to have. (Granted, I'll not be completely satisfied until everyone in the world has read it!)

Some time after publication, I came up with a change that I could make to the plot; not a radical change, but one that I wanted to make for the sake of my personal satisfaction. PA, however, wouldn't let me make the alteration unless I paid them for it. (PublishAmerica is controversial, but I'm not disparaging it. That company got my book into print without subsidy and without my having to first convince an agent to represent me, which would have meant giving him 15 percent of my earnings.) They returned my rights to the book after seven years; by the end of that period, I'd begun to look for other publishing options. An acquaintance told me that electronic publishing is easy. Taking his advice led me to Kindle Direct Publishing, through which “Vinland Viking” was reborn on the twelfth day of the twelfth month of the twelfth year of this millennium. From shortly before PublishAmerica returned my author rights until “VV” made its KDP debut, I actually did what I could (short of violence) to discourage people from buying the print version, telling them that an improved, electronic edition would soon become available.




Gary L. Doman, whose (pen-)surname rhymes with "roman," the French word for "novel," was born in Syracuse (New York) and has spent the majority of his life in Connecticut. He has degrees from Fairfield University and the University of Connecticut. He has developed an interest in just about everything, especially history, geography, religion, language, and the natural world. He began writing as a child and has never really stopped, although he does periodically need to eat and sleep, and also devotes considerable time to his other creative and intellectual endeavors; these include his "weblog" the Doman Domain and one of the items of interest found there, namely, "The Best Comic Strip Ever!".


Enter for your chance to win a digital version of Vinland Viking: An Original Saga by Gary L. Doman. Good luck!




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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Diary of a Busy Mom

I can’t believe it. The Lil’ Diva will be 12 on Sunday. How did this…





turn into this…..




so quickly?

I worry about her sometimes. Have I told her often enough how much I love her? Is she happy?

I know she’s confident and beautiful. Does she really believe I feel that way?

Does she remember the times I sang her to sleep? Does she recall the winter I slept on her bedroom floor almost every night because she was so sick? Do these things even matter to her?

Can she understand I would do anything for her? Does she really think I enjoy saying no? Is it true she thinks I love her sister more than her?

Have I taught her enough about faith and Truth? Will she stay faithful as she gets older?

What career will she choose? Will she get married? Have kids?  Will one of them be as strong willed as she is?


What will our relationship be like when she’s an adult? What can I do to make it better now?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

WWW Wednesdays - August 7th



This weekly meme is hosted by Should Be Reading.

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?


What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading Designed for Relationship by T. J. MacLeslie.

Mankind has always struggled with the big questions: Why are we here? What is life all about? The search for answers has led in many directions, not all of them helpful. In this age, we are inundated with information, but this flood of knowledge has not necessarily produced wisdom. We find answers to the really important questions as elusive as ever.

It really is all about relationship! This is the open secret, hidden in plain sight all along.

What did you recently finish reading?

Just polished off Don't Let the Wind Catch You by Aaron Paul Lazar.

When young Gus LeGarde befriends Tully, a cranky old hermit in the woods who speaks to an Indian spirit, he wonders if the man is nuts. But when the spirit rattles tin cups, draws on dusty mirrors, and flips book pages, pestering him to find evidence to avenge her past, things change fast. What Gus doesn’t understand is why his mother hates Tully and forbids him to see the old man. What could Tully have possibly done to earn this distrust?

Faced with long-buried family secrets and danger, Gus summons courage beyond his years in this poignant and powerful telling of the sultry summer of 1965.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Hoping to get to A Wilder Rose by Susan Wittig Albert.

In 1928, Rose Wilder Lane—world traveler, journalist, much-published magazine writer—returned from an Albanian sojourn to her parents’ Ozark farm. Almanzo Wilder was 71, Laura 61, and Rose felt obligated to stay and help. To make life easier, she built them a new home, while she and Helen Boylston transformed the farmhouse into a rural writing retreat and filled it with visiting New Yorkers. Rose sold magazine stories to pay the bills for both households, and despite the subterranean tension between mother and daughter, life seemed good.

Then came the Crash. Rose’s money vanished, the magazine market dried up, and the Depression darkened the nation. That’s when Laura wrote her autobiography, “Pioneer Girl,” the story of growing up in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, on the Kansas prairie, and by the shores of Silver Lake. The rest—the eight remarkable books that followed—is literary history.

But it isn’t the history we thought we knew. For the surprising truth is that Laura’s stories were publishable only with Rose’s expert rewriting. Based on Rose’s unpublished diaries and Laura’s letters, A Wilder Rose tells the true story of the decade-long, intensive, and often troubled collaboration that produced the Little House books—the collaboration that Rose and Laura deliberately hid from their agent, editors, reviewers, and readers.

Why did the two women conceal their writing partnership? What made them commit what amounts to one of the longest-running deceptions in American literature? And what happened in those years to change Rose from a left-leaning liberal to a passionate Libertarian?

In this impeccably researched novel and with a deep insight into the book-writing business gained from her own experience as an author and coauthor, Susan Wittig Albert follows the clues that take us straight to the heart of this fascinating literary mystery.