Archive for May 2012

Review: The Secret

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Secret
The Secret by Beverly Lewis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"The Secret" by Beverly Lewis is the first book in the "Seasons of Grace" series. This book chronicles the lives of the Byler family. In this book, as the title suggests, we find out that one of the characters has a foreboding secret. I am usually a big fan of Lewis, however for some reason I am not very drawn to this series. I feel that Lettie Byler's story is too much like Sadie's from the Abram's Daughters' series. The story seems to jump a lot from Grace's view to that of an English girl who - in my opinion - was introduced entirely too early, as it is very obvious what her part of the tale is. Overall, it was very predictable and the characters just aren't as captivating as Abram's Daughters. I feel conflicted giving this story only 4 stars since it is well written... However I can't help but feel that the story is a bit predictable and unoriginal.

A quick summary -- The story starts with Lettie Byler's peculiar behavior stemming from depression that her husband fails to understand. Grace is the oldest daughter of Judah & Lettie and is somewhat oblivious to the carrying-on of her family, as she's being courted and is close to accepting a marriage proposal. However, when her mother warns her of marrying a quiet and awkward man, Grace begins to question if her mother is unhappy with her marriage. In turn, Grace questions if she is ready to take the plunge.

Lettie's depression continues to spiral and though she tries to let her husband in on her secret, she just can't seem to get the words out. All of this culminates in one big "Wow, really? Did that really just happen?" moment, and from that point on the Byler's lives are thrown for a loop.

We see views shift from the Byler's family to Heather's, the English girl I mentioned before. Heather's mother passed away in recent years and she herself has been diagnosed with cancer. Eager to get away, she books a trip to Lancaster, PA and finds herself staying in an Amish Bed and Breakfast. She wishes to explore natural methods to curing her cancer, as well as mend her broken heart and spirit in the wake of a dire diagnosis and a bitter breakup. As I said earlier, I'm almost certain I've figured out her part in the story as her presence makes no other sense otherwise.

Despite my reservations about how similar the story is to another series, I'm still looking forward to finishing the series and seeing if my predictions are true or if there is some big mystery I didn't foresee!

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Song of Tinúviel

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The leaves were long, the grass was green,
The hemlock-umbels tall and fair,
And in the glade a light was seen
Of stars in shadow shimmering.
Tinúviel was dancing there
To music of a pipe unseen,
And light of stars was in her hair,
And in her raiment glimmering.

There Beren came from mountains cold,
And lost he wandered under leaves,
And where the Elven-river rolled.
He walked alone and sorrowing.
He peered between the hemlock-leaves
And saw in wonder flowers of gold
Upon her mantle and her sleeves,
And her hair like shadow following.

Enchantment healed his weary feet
That over hills were doomed to roam;
And forth he hastened, strong and fleet,
And grasped at moonbeams glistening.
Through woven woods in Elvenhome
She lightly fled on dancing feet,
And left him lonely still to roam
In the silent forest listening.

He heard there oft the flying sound
Of feet as light as linden-leaves,
Or music welling underground,
In hidden hollows quavering.
Now withered lay the hemlock-sheaves,
And one by one with sighing sound
Whispering fell the beechen leaves
In the wintry woodland wavering.

He sought her ever, wandering far
Where leaves of years were thickly strewn,
By light of moon and ray of star
In frosty heavens shivering.
Her mantle glinted in the moon,
As on a hill-top high and far
She danced, and at her feet was strewn
A mist of silver quivering.

When winter passed, she came again,
And her song released the sudden spring,
Like rising lark, and falling rain,
And melting water bubbling.
He saw the elven-flowers spring
About her feet, and healed again
He longed by her to dance and sing
Upon the grass untroubling.

Again she fled, but swift he came.
Tinúviel! Tinúviel!
He called her by her elvish name;
And there she halted listening.
One moment stood she, and a spell
His voice laid on her: Beren came,
And doom fell on Tinúviel
That in his arms lay glistening.

As Beren looked into her eyes
Within the shadows of her hair,
The trembling starlight of the skies
He saw there mirrored shimmering.
Tinúviel the elven-fair,
Immortal maiden elven-wise,
About him cast her shadowy hair
And arms like silver glimmering.

Long was the way that fate them bore,
O'er stony mountains cold and grey,
Through halls of iron and darkling door,
And woods of nightshade morrowless.
The Sundering Seas between them lay,
And yet at last they met once more,
And long ago they passed away
In the forest singing sorrowless.

- from The Lord of the Rings: One Vol. Edition, by J.R.R. Tolkien

Review: Heaven in Her Arms: Why God Chose Mary to Raise His Son and What It Means for You

Friday, May 18, 2012

Heaven in Her Arms: Why God Chose Mary to Raise His Son and What It Means for You
Heaven in Her Arms: Why God Chose Mary to Raise His Son and What It Means for You by Catherine Hickem

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"Heaven in Her Arms: Why God Chose Mary to Raise His Son and What it Means for You" is written by Catherine Hickem - a licensed psychotherapist, an author, speaker, coach, and counselor with years of experience. This non-fiction story is a look into the heart and life of Mary. Why exactly did God choose Mary to be the mother to His son? Did she share the same anxiety and fears that any other mother faces? How did she deal with those fears and anxiety? All of these questions (and more) are presented in this book. By looking at how Mary dealt with her fears and insecurity we can learn how to emulate her and to develop our own close relationship with the Lord. "Heaven in Her Arms" is absolutely fantastic for any mother or mother-to-be. I thoroughly enjoyed this book as well as the study guide in the back. I typically do not enjoy non-fiction or self help books but this one is worth the read!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

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Fearless Part 2

Saturday, May 12, 2012

How does one man who was addicted to crack, jailed, and disabled become a member of the most elite fighting teams? NBC 7's Lea Sutton spoke with family members of Adam Brown, the subject of a new book by Eric Blehm called Fearless. Mother Janice Brown, father Larry Brown and wife Kelley Brown discuss their loved one in this report

Source: Latest Videos, News Video, and Video Clips | NBC San Diego

Recently I became aware of a new book called Fearless that is soon to be released and I blogged about here. I have just started to pick up this book this week and it promises to be a good read. It is also starting to gain media attention. NBC recently ran a touching article about the life of Adam Brown and I would like to share that with you today.

View more videos at:

I hope these videos touch your heart and you decide to pick up a copy of the book when it is released!

Review: Brisingr

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Brisingr by Christopher Paolini

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hrmmm, what can I say about Brisingr? I've been delaying writing this review simply because I haven't been able to come up with words to describe my mixed feelings. So, I'm going to be as raw and honest as I possibly can without giving away too much of the story.

I feel as if Eldest and Brisingr should have been one story instead of 800 pages or so apiece. I enjoy the story and I do feel as if it has promise, but Paolini has tried too hard to emulate other authors and this has been a complaint for me from the very first book. His extensive use of the "Old language" drags on and on, unlike Tolkien who was so inventive and expressive without it feeling forced and unreal... Paolini just didn't nail it. While reading Tolkien I feel as if he, the author, knew his language well and could speak it fluently. With Paolini, I feel as if he put his letters into a hat, gave it a good shake, threw it into the air and pieced the letters together to form his language. I don't feel that if he were asked to speak his language that he would be able to string together a sentence.

The plot of this story continues where Eldest left off. There's little to be said here in terms of plot. This story - I think - is less about plot and more about character development, which I feel is unnecessary this far into series. I did enjoy learning more about Brom even though I had already guessed his role in the story.

I look forward to seeing the conclusion to the story. It's a long time coming. I have no real complaints about the series except that it drags on unnecessarily long and the content feels unoriginal in parts. I do enjoy it but I feel as if the series could have wrapped up in three books.

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Review: The Revelation

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Revelation
The Revelation by Beverly Lewis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Revelation is the final chapter in the Abram's Daughters series. A very suspenseful conclusion, I must say! All secrets came out in this book, including one you may have already suspected but will still be shocked to read. We see how deceit and lies of one person can effect the lives of an entire family or community. When Jonas and Jake return home, they're essentially kicked out of their home by their dad. He has so much hate and animosity in his heart that his life has spiraled out of control. All because of hidden secrets that are now being fleshed out in the open.

Jake and Lydiann are both coming to terms with the fact that they will never be able to love each other as a couple. It's this turn of events however that open new relationships between Jake and his birth mother, Sadie. For Sadie, it is the answer to her prayers and is mending the ache that has been ever present in her heart. A void she thought would never be filled is mending with the power of revelation and her heart is finding a peace she never thought would be possible. She's also finding love again in a widower and finally, all seems to be well with Abram's oldest daughter.

Things are still up in the air for Jonas and Leah. The bishop of the district has taken an immense dislike to Jonas and the Ebersols and he is determined to do what he must to keep them apart. He has made Jonas' return and "Proving" period to be much longer than deemed necessary by anyone in the church district. The Proving is a time period for wayward church members to transition back into the fold and prove they intend to stick to their commitment to the church. He has decided to make things difficult for Jonas and you may be shocked to find out why that is. And even more surprised at the slightly tragic solution to this predicament! I won't say how everything wrapped up as to not spoil the story, but you won't be disappointed!

I loved the conclusion to this series. I truly did! I was especially giddy over how things turned out for Sadie. Though she was not the main character in this story, I was really rooting for her! Honestly, the Ebersol family felt real. They had good times and a lot of bad times but at the end of the day they were still a family who loved and cared about one another. As I knew I would though, I am a little sad that the series is over but I also look forward to picking up another series by the very talented author, Beverly Lewis

You may find reviews for the following installments of the Abram's Daughter Series here:

Part 1: The Covenant

Part 2: The Betrayal

Part 3: The Sacrifice

Part 4: The Prodigal

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Review: The Prodigal

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Prodigal
The Prodigal by Beverly Lewis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Prodigal is book four in the Abram's Daughters series. In this book some time has passed and the focus has shifted more to Lydiann and Abe, the youngest Ebersol's who are being raised by their older sister, Leah. Lydiann has fallen hard for Jake who is none other than Jonas Mast's younger brother. Jonas is Leah's old flame who is shunned for leaving the community and pursuing a life as a carpenter. When Leah and Sadie find out a shocking secret about Jake, they find themselves in the same place that Abram was in years ago as he desperately attempted to keep Leah and Jonas apart. In an attempt to shield the hearts of Lydiann and Jake as well as that of his family, they make secret arrangments to have Jake sent away. When Jake arrives in Ohio he is paired up with a local carpenter to learn new skills. No one would have ever guessed that Jake would just happen to cross paths with his shunned brother.

With Jake gone, Lydiann is pining away for her love and they continue to contact each other. Leah and Sadie fear that they may have to bring Lydiann in on their secret, even if it means breaking her heart. Sadie carries this dark secret with the most pain and even grief. She longs to finally be free of all her secrets and to find peace. She also hopes to find love and to have a respite from the loneliness that eats away at her spirit.

Of course, this book also takes us into the lives of Mary Ruth, Hannah and their families. Hannah as we see is still tormented with thoughts of death and struggles with deep depression. She leans towards darkness and Mary Ruth and her family take her before the throne of grace to plead for divine intervention on her behalf.

As this family mends broken fences and grows closer to the Lord, old secrets and past sins bubble up to the surface, waiting to be confessed so that hearts are made pure and peace is made with God and with each other.

I love this series. It's something akin to a Amish soap opera but with themes of healing, forgiveness and coming clean of your sins so that you can find forgiveness. As the series draws to a close I am starting to see how things will turn out and while I am anxious to see resolutions but at the same time...I am sad that I am almost ready to say goodbye to Abram's daughters.

You may find reviews for the following installments of the Abram's Daughter Series here:

Part 1: The Covenant
Part 2: The Betrayal
Part 3: The Sacrifice

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Review: The Sacrifice

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Sacrifice
The Sacrifice by Beverly Lewis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Sacrifice is book three in the Abram's Daughters series by Beverly Lewis. It's safe to say, I am pretty well obsessed with this series. I cannot read fast enough! In the first half of this book two years has passed since Sadie left home. Jonas and Leah are no longer together and it is thought that he has settled down with Sadie who had betrayed her sister in the last book by stealing letters written to and from Jonas and deceiving him into thinking Leah is cheating on him. Sadie and Jonas have both been shunned by the community so the family hasn't been able to hear from either of them personally. We learn that Ida is expecting again and word through the grapevine is that Sadie is as well. Ida longs to hear from her eldest girl and prays that she will eventually repent and come back to the fold.
Leah is moving on from her sister and Jonas' betrayal and finding peace. Feeling blessed beyond measure to finally know the truth of her real birth mother, who happens to be none other than her precious aunt Lizzie. Things finally seem to be falling into place for Leah. She finds herself being courted by Smithy Gid who has patiently waited for her for years. He is so loving and attentive to her, and they speak of marriage until tragedy once again hits the Ebersol family. Leah must choose between the desires of her heart and doing what is right for her family.

Hannah and Mary Ruth's storylines are futher developed in this book. Both are of courting age and each have found a beau. Mary Ruth still has a defiant streak about her and her relationship with her father, and community is put to the test when she must endure her own personal tragedy. This poor family just cannot find their footing. Every single time they get ahead it seems the rug is just pulled right out from under them. However, there is hope still on the horizon as personal relationships are being forged with the Lord and hearts are being drawn to His love and salvation.

Towards the end of this book we have a jump forward in time, years into the future. Leah is still fulfilling a vow she has taken, Hannah has found love and has married with children of her own. Mary Ruth is on better terms with her family but has decided to leave the Amish faith, having fully embraced her new found faith in Christ and has joined with a Mennonite church. She even has a new beau and is fairing well in her new life. As she had never taken the kneeling vow into the Amish church she is not under the bann and is able to visit with and fellowship with her Amish family.

Finally, we are shed more light into what all has went on with Sadie since she left her community 7+ years ago. When she contacts her family asking if she may come home, recently widowed and ready to repent of her past indiscretions, old wounds are opened anew for Leah and the two has to come to terms with all that has happened between them.

I am absolutely loving this series. I cannot wait to pick up the next book and yet I'm feeling a little sad that there are only three books left and then I must say goodbye to Abram's daughters!

You may find reviews for the following installments of the Abram's Daughter Series here:

Part 1: The Covenant

Part 2: The Betrayal

View all my reviews

Review: The Betrayal

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Betrayal
The Betrayal by Beverly Lewis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Betrayal is book two in the Abram's Daughters series and continues where The Covenant left off. The storyline picks up in the midst of Sadie's grief following the premature birth and death of her illegitimate child. A burden she is mostly carrying alone as the only ones even aware that Sadie had given birth is her sister, Leah, her aunt, Lizzie and the doctor who helped with the delivery. Ironically, Doctor Schwartz also happens to be Derry's father and he pieces together that the child that he has delivered is actually his grandson. There is a mystery surrounding the baby's birth (and death) but for now that has not really been explored in the storyline.

When Jonas gets a chance to go learn carpentry in another state, he jumps at the chance, begging Leah to go with him but she politely declines because she fears leaving Sadie alone in her depression which is becoming more apparent to her family with every passing day. Eventually, she gets the idea to send Sadie in her stead and then confesses to her parents about the awful secret she has been hiding from them. The secret of Sadie's pregnancy and that the poor babe died before he ever had a chance to live. It's around this time that we find out some shocking news about Leah and her father spills his own secrets to Jonas in an attempt to drive a wedge between them.

Once Sadie arrives in Ohio she learns of Leah's confession, her sins have been found out and the church is demanding a kneeling confession from her or she will be shunned.Sadie is furious and refuses to repent and is of course, shunned. Bitter at her sister, she steals letters written by Leah to Jonas and plants the seed of doubt in his mind. Making Jonas question if Leah is cheating on him with Smithy Gid. Leah is heartbroken and confused by the turn of events as Sadie also intercepts Jonas' letters and Leah is left in the dark about why Jonas has given up on their relationship. As Leah learns secrets about her own life that have been hidden from her and with her love life in shambles, she turns to God. Seeking peace from the turmoil and strife that threatens to tear her world apart.

With Sadie gone and Leah grieving the loss of greatest love, we start to learn more about the younger Ebersol girls, the twins, Mary Ruth and Hannah. Hannah is quiet and a lot like Leah while Mary Ruth is outspoken and dreams of being a schoolteacher and out from under the confines of the Amish faith which just adds insult to injury given all the problems the family is enduring over Sadie. More of their struggles will be explored in the next book which I will be reviewing soon.

I cannot put these books down! I think this is my new favorite series by Beverly Lewis and I cannot wait to finish reading them although I am going to be a little sad to say goodbye to Abram's family when the time comes! To see my review of Book one in the Abram's Daughters series, Click Here

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May 1, 2012 Storenvy Stocking

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Oatmeal and Honey Hot Process Soap


Enchanted Dreams

2.5-3 oz 3.5-4 oz

Review: The Covenant

The Covenant
The Covenant by Beverly Lewis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"The Covenant" is book one in the Abram's Daughters series by Beverly Lewis. This story takes us to the heart of Amish country and into the home of Abram and Ida Ebersol, the parents of four daughters. "The Covenant" focuses mainly on the two older girls, Sadie and Leah. Sadie is in her rumschpringe, the running around period for Amish youth, in which they may experience the "English" way of life without facing the consequences of the Elders or risk being shunned. It's during this time that she falls for the handsome English boy, Derry with whom she carries on a sordid love affair. When the forbidden romance yields shocking results, Sadie is left alone to face the consequences of her actions and in the course of doing so she finds a confidant in her sister, Leah. This proves to be a great burden for them both and pushes them to the very limits of sisterly love.

Leah is a couple years younger and is known as "Abram's Leah" because she spends more time out of doors with her dad, helping with the outside chores since the family has no boys to do so. She enjoys her time out doors but she's also getting to an age where she has fallen in love and desires to become more womanly. She desires to join the church, marry and have babies. The very opposite of her sister, who has caught herself up in the sorrows of the world. Leah doesn't desire to drink or party or any of that stuff. She is fully committed to the love of her life, Jonas Mast, and she is determined to prove to her dad that he is the right choice in a husband.

The story progresses and we see Leah's unwavering love and support for sister and for her entire family. Unfortunately, you reap what you sew and Sadie's transgressions threaten to destroy this once loving family. Lives are in shambles and yet we still see a glimmer of hope for sweet Leah. If her dad doesn't meddle, that is. Abram is simply determined to do what he must to set Leah up with the boy he wants to see her to be with instead of with Jonas and it seems he may stop at nothing to have his way. Even if it means breaking his dear daughter's heart in the process.

This story is simply fantastic. It has drama, scandal, tragedy and a hint of a mystery! I cannot wait to finish reading the entire series to see how this story unfolds.

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