Faith, Family, Love and Reviews

FIRST Tour: Annie’s Truth by Beth Shriver

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:
Beth Shriver
and the book:
Annie’s Truth
Realms (May 15, 2012)

***Special thanks to Althea Thompson | Publicity Coordinator, Charisma House | Charisma Media for sending me a review copy.***


Beth Shriver received a degree in social work and psychology from the University of Nebraska. She worked as a caseworker for Boulder County Department of Social Services before starting a family. Beth and her husband of twenty years and her two children live in Texas after moving from their first home in Colorado. She freelances for the local papers in her area and writes columns, devotionals for magazines, and novels in a variety of genres in both fiction and nonfiction.

Visit the author’s website.


Annie Bieler sets out on a journey of the spirit when she discovers she was adopted after being found as an abandoned newborn. Her father is strongly against her decision to go as it could mean Meidung, or excommunication from the community and even her family. But Annie knows she must find “the path that has her heart.” Her search also takes her away from John, the young man who is courting her.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99

Paperback: 304 pages

Publisher: Realms (May 15, 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 161638607X

ISBN-13: 978-1616386078

The dinner Bell rang just as one of the milk cows slapped Annie’s kapp with its tail. Now she was late for the evening meal. She pulled the black kapp off her head. When Maggie swatted Annie, the pins were knocked loose. She wiped off the dirt and cow manure then hastily twisted up her hair into a bun and pulled the kapp over her mess of hair.

“Need some help?” John Yoder’s dark eyes smiled at her.

She jumped at the sight of him looking down at her with a

grin. “Nee, I can finish up.”

Her mamm would scold her for her tardiness and her unruly hair, so she quickly grabbed two containers of milk, clutching them to her chest. When she turned around, John was removing the cups from the Guernsey’s udders.

“Danke. The boys must have missed a couple.” The cover of one of the containers lifted, causing milk to spill out onto her black dress. Annie wiped her hand on her white apron. Frustration bubbled up and burst out in an irritated groan.

“Now what?” John opened the barn door and shut it behind them.

Annie pointed to the milk stain and slowed her walk so he could catch up. Her mamm wouldn’t be as upset with her if she saw Annie with John.

“I spilled on myself, my hair’s a mess, and I’m late.” She jug- gled the containers to keep them in place as she walked.

John’s smile never left, just tipped to the side while she listed her worries. “You’re never late.”

“You will be too if you keep talking to me.” The milk sloshed
Beth Shriver
around in the containers as she adjusted them again. “Taking the long way home?”

“Jah, thought I’d come by to say hallo.” He took one from her then reached for the other.

She turned slightly so he couldn’t reach the second bottle. “I’ve got this one.”

“Suit yourself.” He shrugged as his grin widened.

They walked together toward their houses, which were down the path from one another, divided by a dozen trees. John was three the day Annie was born and had been a part of her life more than her own brothers were at times. His brown hair brushed his collar as he walked with her, holding back to keep in step with Annie.

“Aren’t you late to help with cooking?” He nodded toward her white clapboard house. A birdfeeder was hung at the far end of the porch, which had a peaked black roof, and daisies filled her mamm’s flower garden in front of the house. Mamm created a colorful greeting of flora for every season.

She shook her head. “Nee, Eli’s helping the Lapps, so I’m helping the boys with milking. What were you doing, cutting tobacco?”

He nodded. “Nice day for it too. The sun was bright, but there was a breeze that kept us cool.” He lifted his strong, handsome face toward the sunshine and took in a deep breath.

He was just trying to irritate her, so she ignored his jab. John knew she preferred being outdoors and that she would trade places with him in an instant. When the time was right she would help with the tobacco harvesting and, along with many others, would then prepare the meal after the task was done.

“It looked warm outside to me.” She took the milk from him and kept walking. The last of the warm summer days were coming to an end, and soon it would be time for fall harvesting.

They reached the trail that led to John’s home on the far side

of a stand of tall oak trees. “Not as hot as in the kitchen.” He
Annie’s Truth

snapped his suspenders and turned onto the trail leading away from her.

“John Yoder . . . ” was all she could say this close to her daed’s ears. She watched him continue on down the roughed-out dirt lane thinking of what she would have said if she could. Her gaze took in the many acres of barley, corn, and oat crops and then moved to the Virginia mountainside beyond, where the promise of fall peeked out between the sea of green.

Annie walked up the wooden stairs and into the kitchen. The room was simple and white, uncluttered. A long table and chairs took over the middle of the large room, and rag rugs of blue and emerald added color and softness. For a unique moment it was silent.

“Annie?” Her mamm’s voice made her worry again about being late, with a soiled dress and unkempt hair.

Her tall, slender mamm stopped picking up the biscuits from a baking pan and placed both hands on the counter. She let out a breath when Annie came into the kitchen. “Ach, good, you brought the milk.” Mamm’s tired gaze fell on Annie.

“I was talking with John.” She opened the cooler door and placed the milk on the shelf.

Her mamm’s smile told Annie she wasn’t late after all, so she continued. “He said it was a good day for baling.”

Hanna and her brother strolled in, and he grabbed a biscuit, creating a distraction that allowed Annie time to twist her hair up and curl it into a tight bun. A tap from their mamm’s hand made her son drop the biscuit back into the basket with the rest. “I’m so hungry.” Thomas’s dark freckles on his pudgy face con- trasted to his light hair and skin, so unlike Annie’s olive-colored

complexion, which was more like their daed’s.

She tousled his hair. “You are always the first one to dinner

and the last one to leave.”

“I’m a growing child. Right, Mamm?” Thomas took the basket of biscuits to the table and set them next to his plate.

“That you are. Now go sit down and wait for the others.”
Beth Shriver
Mamm placed a handful of biscuits in the breadbox and brushed her hands off on her white apron.

While they waited for the others to wash up, she addressed

Annie. “John walked you out this morning and walked you home?” “Like he has most every day of my life.” Annie’s voice almost

reached the edge into sarcasm, but she smiled to make light of it. Didn’t her mamm know that her obvious nudging turned Annie away from John, not toward him?

Hanna had been quiet, listening, and walked over to Annie. “Should we ask Mamm if we can look in our chests in the attic?” Annie peered over Hanna’s shoulder at Mamm. “Jah, but let’s

wait until after supper.”

Her mamm’s brow lifted just as the buzz of her family coming into the room sidetracked her attention from Annie and Hanna. The younger ones were restless with hunger, and the older sib- lings talked amongst themselves. Frieda, Hanna, Augustus, Eli, Thomas, and Samuel all sat in the same chairs they were always in, and Annie took her assigned seat with the rest.

Her daed sat at the head of the table and waited with watchful eyes until everyone was quiet. When Amos folded his hands, all followed suit, and they all said silent grace.

Geef ons heden ons dagelijks brood. Give us this day our daily bread. Amen. Annie thought the words then kept her eyes closed until she heard movement from the others.

Amos passed the food to his right until it made a full circle back to him.

“We’ve almost finished with the Lapps’s tobacco field,” Annie’s oldest brother, Eli, informed Amos. He and Hanna had Mamm’s silky blond hair and blue eyes, but Hanna didn’t have her disposition.

Amos nodded and lifted a bite of chicken to his mouth.

Eli leaned toward Amos. “I can then tend to our barley day after tomorrow.”

Amos spoke without looking at his son. “You will work the

Lapps’s land until they say you are finished. Not before.”
Annie’s Truth

The gleam in Eli’s dark eyes faded as he took up his fork. “Jah, Daed.”

Mamm spoke then. “It’s an honor you are able to help them while their daed recovers.” She shifted her attention to her hus- band. “Have you heard how Ephraim is healing?”

Amos continued to eat as he spoke to her mamm. “His back is mending. It’s his worrisome wife that keeps him laid up.”

“Ach, I’d probably do the same if it were you.” Mamm waited a moment until Daed’s mouth lifted into a half smile.

He gave the table a smack to stop Frieda from tempting Thomas with another biscuit. “The boy can help himself without your teasing him.”

She set their hands in her lap. “Jah, Daed.”

He nodded for them to eat again. Conversation was uncommon during meals, so Annie let her mind wander. Harvest season was approaching, and the excitement of upcoming weddings was on everyone’s mind. Although the courtship was to be kept quiet, most knew which couples would most likely be married in the coming months.

Annie’s mind went to John, the one she knew her parents, as well as his, would expect her to be with. Although she had feel- ings for him, she wished her spouse would not be chosen for her. It had changed her relationship with him just knowing what their expectations were. He had been her best friend, but she now kept him at bay, hoping for more time before the pressure became too great and they were forced to marry.

She put the palm of her hand to her forehead, resting there with thoughts of who else she could possibly be with from their community. Names went through her mind, but not one appealed to her in the same way John did.

Hanna nudged Annie as everyone began to clear the table. Annie’s mind rushed back to the present. She knew why Hanna wanted her attention. She was thinking about the upcoming nup- tials too. Their wedding chests gave them promise for their own

special day.
Beth Shriver
“Let’s ask Mamm.” Hanna’s eyes shone with excitement. Annie felt a lift in her spirits at the thought of having the privi- lege to rummage through their special treasures. She looked at her mamm laughing at her brother’s story of his britches getting caught on the Lapps’s fence. Her smile faded when he showed her the hole the wire made, which she would be mending that evening.

“You ask her,” Annie urged.

Hanna was the closest to Annie’s age and her confidante, as she was Hanna’s. “After dinner.” Hanna got up from her chair to help.

Frieda started the hand pump as the others gathered the dishes and put away the extra food. Once the dishes were cleaned and dried, Hanna and Annie went to their mamm, who stacked plates in the cupboard as the girls walked over to her.

“What do you want to ask me?” Mamm continued with the dishes until the last plate was put away.

Hanna and Annie looked at one another. Annie furrowed her brows to make Hanna talk.

“We’d like to see our hope chests.”

“It’s a long while from any weddings being published.” Mamm placed a hand on the counter and studied them. “Okay, then. But after your lessons are done.”

Hanna grabbed Annie’s hand, and they walked quickly from the kitchen. “Jah, Mamm,” they said in unison. Annie hadn’t looked through her chest since she’d given up the doll her mamm had made for her. Since it was her first, Annie had chosen to store it after receiving another from her aunt.

Hanna urged Annie to stop doing homework after she com- pleted hers, but Annie wouldn’t go until she’d finished her story. Finally the girls ran up the wooden stairs to the attic. Hanna grabbed the metal doorknob and pushed on the door to open it. The door creaked in the darkness, and Annie held the kerosene lamp up to examine the room before entering. It looked exactly

the same as the last time she’d been there.
Annie’s Truth

A chest of drawers held baby clothes, and beside it stood a cabinet full of documents and paperwork Daed kept but never seemed to use. Special dresses and a bonnet hung on the far side of the room alongside a box of old toys her daed and Eli had made.

The girls spotted the chests lined up next to one another, where they would remain until their owners were married. Amos had made each of his girls one in which to keep their sentimental belongings. One day, when they had their own homes, they would have a memory of their daed and the things they held dear during their childhood.

Annie ran to the last one. Amos had lined them up according to age, so Hanna’s was right next to Annie’s. “You first,” Annie told Hanna.

“Nee, you.” Hanna moved closer to Annie and watched her lift the heavy wooden lid. “I can’t wait.” Hanna went to her chest and opened it as well. “Ach, I’d forgotten.” Hanna reached for the doll Mamm had made for her.

Annie grabbed hers, and they examined them together, just alike and equally worn. “I loved this doll! I had forgotten how much I played with it when I was a child.” The black bonnet was torn around the back, and the hay stuffing peeked out the back of the doll’s dress.

“Mine is tattered as well. I’m glad we put them away when we did, or there would be nothing left of them.” Hanna glanced at Annie’s doll.

Annie placed the doll in her lap and pulled out her wedding quilt, the one of many colors. Hanna’s was a box design, and Annie’s was circles within circles, resembling the circle of life. She ran her hand across the beautifully stitched material and admired her mamm’s handiwork. When she looked up, Hanna was doing the same.

Their eyes met. “Hold yours up so I can see.” Hanna’s voice was soft and breathy. “It’s beautiful, Annie. You’re lucky to be

closer to marrying than me.”
Beth Shriver
Annie tilted her head and turned the quilt to face her. “I don’t feel ready.”

Hanna’s brows drew together in question. “Why? You’ve always known you’ll be with John. And he is a handsome one.” She grinned. “I’ll take him off your hands.”

Annie tried to force a smile. “Why has everyone chosen my spouse for me?”

Hanna put her quilt back into the chest. “Don’t let your mind wander. Just be happy with the way things are.”

Annie fell silent, in thought. “Questioning is how we find the


“The truth has already been found.” Hanna reached for her family Bible as she spoke.

Annie nodded, humbled, and looked for her special Bible. She moved a carved toy Eli had made for her and a book her mamm had given to her. Finally, at the very bottom, she found a Bible the minister gave her. As she opened it up, she skimmed through the flimsy pages. She went to the very front of the book and smiled when she saw how she had written her name as a young girl. The letters were varied sizes and uneven.

Her mamm’s and daed’s names were both written under hers, their dates of birth, and a list of her brothers and sisters under that. Births and other dates of additional relatives proceeded on to the next page, including the dates of their marriages. Annie flipped back to the first page and noticed the day of her birth was missing. Only the year was written; the day did not precede it, only the month.

“Hanna, come look.” Annie handed her the Bible and searched her sister’s face for some sign that she knew the reason for the omission. Annie thought back to the days her family recognized her birthday—one in particular.

Birthdays were often celebrated after church service on Sundays when everyone was already together and they wouldn’t take time away from daily chores during the week. This being

tradition, Annie didn’t think much of the exact date of her birth.
Annie’s Truth

Thoughts of self were discouraged. Everyone was treated equally so as to prevent pride.

On Annie’s thirteenth birthday she had been surprised by her family and friends with a party. A cake with thirteen candles was brought out, and gifts were given. Her brother had made her a handmade wooden box, and her sister, a picture of flowers. Other useful gifts such as nonperishable food and fancy soaps made by her aunt in the shape of animals piled up on the picnic table next to a half-eaten cake.

The best gift was from John. He had taken an orange crate and decorated it with his wood-burning tools. It was filled with small, flat wooden figures of every significant person in her life. The time and care he had put into the gift had touched Annie. She treated the present with such care she had thought it wise to store it in her hope chest. Now Annie wished she had enjoyed the box more.

She searched for it now and found the pieces scattered throughout the bottom of the chest. She picked up the wooden figures one by one, examined them, and put them in the box. Although they all looked alike, as no graven images were per- mitted, she used her imagination to pick out each person. Frieda, Hanna, Augustus, Eli, Thomas, and Samuel were all accounted for, then Mamm and her daed, her mammi and dawdi—grandparents—then John and her. All of the boy fig- ures looked the same as well except for their height, facial hair, and a hat her dawdi always wore.

She’d envision John’s figure to be the exception. He had a thick head of black hair and always wore it a bit longer than he should. He could always get away with such things due to his charismatic personality. That was something not encouraged, so not often seen in their community.

Annie ran a finger along the small wooden likeness of John and wondered if she shouldn’t dismiss him so readily. As a friend she adored him, but the thought of marrying him annoyed her.

But did that feeling come because of him, or was it her?
Beth Shriver
Hanna’s sigh brought Annie back to the moment. Hanna looked from her Bible to Annie’s. “That’s odd, isn’t it?”

Annie turned a crisp page and stared at the words again. “I

wonder if Mamm simply didn’t remember to fill in the day.”

Hanna frowned. “It’s not like Mamm to forget to do anything like this.”

Annie didn’t want to believe that Mamm forgot, and Hanna was right in that their mamm never left anything undone, espe- cially when it came to her children. “I’m sure there’s a reason.”

“The only thing left to do is ask.” Hanna closed the Bible and handed it to Annie.

Annie took the black book, its pages edged with light gold. “Don’t you want to?” Hanna grasped her hands together and

set them on her knees.

“Jah, I do.” Annie stroked the top of the golden pages with her

finger. “And then I don’t.”

Hanna grunted. “Well, that’s silly.”

Annie stopped and took the Bible in both hands. “But I have a strange feeling.” Annie squeezed the Good Book. “Maybe it’s better if I don’t know.”

My Opinion:


Haven’t had a chance to read this yet, will update.

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Litfuse Tour: Lucy Come Home by Dave and Neta Jackson


About the Book:


Fifteen-year-old Cindy worked long days beside her migrant worker family in Michigan’s sugar beet fields in the early 1940s — the “war years” — until she met a dashing young man from a traveling carnival, bringing some joy and fun into her hard-scrabble life. But a tragic twist of fate — and a dead field boss– sent the two young people on the run, leaving behind family and everything she’d ever known.

Lucy Tucker, the crotchety old bag lady from the popular Yada Yada House of Hope series, is a veteran of Chicago streets and not about to give up her independence, even as she approaches her 80th birthday.

Until, that is, a young displaced woman with her gentle aging mother and a dog named Dandy seem to need her — unsettling the secretive Lucy, who doesn’t let anyone get too close. But just when it seems her past is catching up with her to bring her in out of the cold… Lucy disappears again. How these two tales intersect and intertwine between past and present gradually shines light into the dark corners of Lucy’s murky past. But… why won’t Lucy come home?



About Dave and Neta Jackson:


Dave and Neta Jackson are award-winning authors living in the Chicago area where their parallel novels from the Yada Yada House of Hope and Harry Bentley series are set.

As a husband/wife writing team, Dave and Neta Jackson are enthusiastic about books, kids, walking with God, gospel music, and each other! Together they are the authors or coauthors of over 100 books.

Visit for more info.


My Opinion:


I got hooked on Neta’s books when I read the Yada Yada series and while some authors fail to keep their audiences entertained and wrapped up in the story, Dave and Neta do not fail.  In Lucy Come Home I was wrapped up in the book until I finished it, there were some surprising twists at the end and even a moment when I wanted to wring Lucy’s neck to get her to come to her senses, and that is what makes a good book.  I felt like I knew the Sisters in the book, like they were old friends, although they aren’t the focus of the book this time, Lucy is.


Lucy has quite a story and at first I was confused when I read the intro and it takes place in a migrant worker farm during the dust bowl and how this could possibly tie into the rest of the book.  I really should have just kept reading and quit thinking – because in true Jackson style – it all wrapped in together and there was no stale plot lines.  I really enjoyed how we flip in between Lucy’s reminiscing of her story in the past to what is going on in her life today – it wasn’t confusing nor did it take away from the story line, in fact it added to it.  That said I have not read the books that come before this one and I seek to remedy that very soon.


**Disclaimer:  I was provided a copy of this e-book from Litfuse Publicity in exchange for my honest opinion, no other compensation was given.

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(in)spired Review: Hope for the Best – oil cloth tote

I’m a tote bag junkie!  As a homeschool mom tote bags are indispensable to me – I’ve never used a diaper bag, because I realized early on that tote bags were so much easier and better to well, tote, stuff.

I received a beautiful oil cloth tote with the inspiring message:

Hope for the best.

God’s in the habit of giving it.

There is a beautiful vintage picture of a girl and under that is the following Scripture:

Remember, your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask Him!
Matthew 6:8 TLB

Picture from Dayspring

This Scripture really spoke to me.  I’m good at asking for things that I think
I need but in reality the Lord knows what I do need and I don’t even have to ask for it.  Sometimes it’s hard to keep that in mind – especially when I think we need a new house, or well another baby – the Lord knows what I (we) really need and it usually isn’t what I think we need.  This tote reminds me of that and allows me to silently share my faith when I carry it on trips with our essentials (of course there are no more diapers in my tote bags!).

The oil cloth is able to be wiped clean, which is a big plus with several children and allows me to not be worried if something gets spilled while in the van!  The inside is lined and has several pockets, one is zippered – perfect for the cell phone, iPod or my lip balm so they don’t get buried under everything else.  It was comfortable to throw over my shoulder and I didn’t have to readjust it all the time which I appreciate when trying to keep up with active children.  Even my daughters and son thought the tote was pretty.

Picture from Dayspring.


You can read what others thought about the other totes available by clicking on that above banner.


**Disclaimer:  I was provided a tote from Dayspring in exchange for my honest opinion, no other compensation was givne.

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Awana Awards

Well April was the culmination of a year’s hard work for my little Awana people.  Bethanne and Hannah finished their books and Christian is half way through his.  I’ll be teaching T&T next year and I’ll have both my girls in my class, Christian is still a Spark.


Christian getting his award from the Spark leader.


Bethanne getting her award from the Spark leader.


Hannah and two other T&T’ers who received their book awards. The middle girl completed all 4 books for T&T!


Up close shot of Hannah with her Book 2 award. Isn’t it pretty?


We are looking forward to next year’s Awana – can’t wait to begin being a leader.


Crew Review: Pearson Homeschool; Reading Street Grade 3

Vendor Name:  Pearson Homeschool

Vendor ContactPearson Homeschool Contact Us Page

Name of ProductReading Street Grade 3

Price:  $124.99 for the homeschool bundle

Age/Grade Range: 3rd grade

Pearson Education has been providing textbooks to schools and they have now entered into the homeschool market and I was given the Reading Street Grade 3 set to use in my home with my 3rd grade daughter.  Before I tell you what we thought while using this program I’m going to tell you a little bit about Reading Street Grade 3 before telling you what we thought about this curricula.

The first part is the Guide on the Side which is as it says on the cover “a customized literacy approach for the third grade teacher.”  There is a lot of information in this book, which is written for the class room teacher, more than the homeschool teacher.  It explains how to use this curricula for a classroom complete with break downs for times for each area of study such as phonics/reading, writing, comprehension, and vocabulary.  This proved a bit confusing and a bit more information than I needed to use this with one student – I liked the research findings – but overall I didn’t see this as something that aided me in teaching as there were no suggested lesson plans for a homeschool parent and really nothing to help the homeschool parent organize how to use this in the home.

Next are the text books themselves, there are two for Reading Street Grade 3, and they are just like what you’d be handed in school.  Beautiful hard covered books, complete with a space to record students name and condition of book at the beginning and end of the school year.  They are colorful and with the large print they are easy to read for the child who is at reading level or struggling with being at grade level.  Each week has a theme so for unit two week 1 the theme surrounds plant and animal structures and everything the child is learning about will revolve around that theme.

The last two components of the set are the Teacher’s Resource CD and the Exam CD, both run once they are inserted into the disc drive and are easy to navigate.  If your child likes to do worksheets then the Teacher’s Resource CD is perfect, as it contains all the needed worksheets for each lesson/week along with the answers for the teacher.  The Exam CD is just what it sounds like, it allows all tests, exams and assessments to check on the students learning and other areas of comprehension.

I was very excited at first when I found out I was going to get this to review, although after reading the Guide on the Side I became very confused at how exactly a homeschool family is supposed to utilize this – I don’t spend an hour or more on teaching reading/writing/literature and to me it seemed like it was just very ‘school’, which I do my best to avoid.  My daughter did enjoy the colorful book and the easy to read stories, some of which I thought were too easy for a third grader and were not what I would consider high quality literature.  I picked and chose what we’d use each week and still keep it within the four day school week that we use.

I looked through each week and decided what my daughter needed to work on, mostly skipping the phonics as some of the skills I was not sure what they meant such as CVC.  Concentrating on vocabulary, spelling, reading and writing skills versus the phonics – which if your child needs that or you want to teach it is included.  I didn’t use a lot of the worksheets because my daughter gets easily stressed with lots of worksheets and for the most part it seemed to be more busy work, but if your child enjoys worksheets there are plenty of them and they are easy to print off from your computer.

While I liked the product it needed a lot of tweaking and a lot of reading on my part in order to make it usable for a homeschool student.  Since I believe that reading, spelling, vocabulary and even writing can be easily learned through literature and being read to instead of through text books and worksheets.  I can see where the first time homeschool parent could definitely utilize this, or a family whose children are coming out of a school or even a homeschool parent who used to teach in a school and needs this kind of program.  I prefer a more streamlined and laid out curricula instead of one that needs a lot of tweaking and prep work on my end.  Yes, we liked it and we’ll probably continue to use it as a reader for practice and I may use it for my son when the time comes as he likes worksheets.  If you’d like to see what other homeschooling parents thought of this and other Pearson products visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

**Disclaimer:  As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.



Litfuse Tour: Angel Eyes by Shannon Dittemore

About the Book:

Once you’ve seen, you can’t unsee. Everything changes when you’ve looked at the world through . . .Angel Eyes

Brielle went to the city to chase her dreams and found tragedy instead. She’s come home to shabby little Stratus, Oregon, to live with her grief and her guilt . . . and the incredible, numbing cold she can’t seem to shake.

Jake’s the new guy at school. The boy next door with burning hands and an unbelievable gift that targets him for corruption.

Something more than fate has brought them together. An evil bigger than both of them lurks in the shadows nearby, hiding in plain sight. Two angels stand guard, unsure what’s going to happen. And a beauty brighter than Jake or Brielle has ever seen is calling them to join the battle in a realm where all human choices start.

A realm that only angels and demons-and Brielle-can perceive.

About Shannon:

hannon is a wife and mother. A sister. A daughter. A friend. She was raised in Northern California by her parents-pastors of their local church and constant figures of inspiration.

As a youth, Shannon traveled with an award-winning performing arts team, excelling on stage and in the classroom. As a young adult, she attended Portland Bible College, continued acting, and worked with an outreach team targeting inner-city kids in the Portland-Metropolitan area.

It was in Portland that she met her husband, Matt. They were married in 2002. Soon after, they took the reins of the youth ministry at Living Way Community Church in Roseville, California where they continue to serve in that capacity. In October of 2004, their son Justus was born, followed by their daughter Jazlyn, born in 2008.

Find out more at

My Opinion:

I don’t usually get into young adult fiction but this one was a great adventure and I’m looking for more books from Shannon, I was kept engaged the entire time I was reading this book.  Since this is a YA book some of the conversations were a bit, juvenile, but it was still an enjoyable book to read.  I must say that there are the use of the c*** word several times and there is also some flirting, mention of casual sex as well as a comparison to another series of books and werewolves.  I would not be handing this to my 10 year old and I would even have my doubts about letting her read this as a 12 or 13 year old, but I am a bit more conservative in what I allow my children to read.

I was able to chalk up the cussing and other issues about this book as almost all the main characters except for Jake and his guardian are unsaved so their actions and words will reflect that.  If your child is old enough to extricate the two, saved and unsaved, then it would maybe be okay, unless you just don’t want them reading that.  I did like the way the author switched characters, it didn’t prove as confusing as I first thought it would and I also liked the who evil versus good plot line.  Many books today blur the lines that there is some good in evil and some evil in good – however evil is evil and there was no blurring of those lines.  God’s angels were good while Satan’s demons were all bad – as I read I saw Brielle questioning faith in her mom’s God to having her own relationship.

Please, don’t think me overly harsh, I did enjoy this book and compared to other books in this genre that are given a Christian label, this was one definitely mild and as I said above keeping in mind that almost all the characters are unsaved – they aren’t going to talk or act like Christians should.  There is no neat tidy ending – which is expected for a good versus evil fantasy novel, although there is a definite romance blossoming between Jake and Brielle, but nothing inappropriate comes about in their relationship.  So if you enjoy a fantasy/sci-fi book with a Christian theme woven in then you just might want to check out this book.

**Disclaimer:  I was provided an e-copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity in exchange for my honest opinion, no other compensation was given.


Win a Nook Color from Shannon Dittemore (@ShanDitty)! “Angel
Eyes” Giveaway and Facebook Party {6/26}


Celebrate with Shannon by entering her “Angel Eyes” Giveaway and connecting with
her during the Author Chat Party on 6/26!

Find out what readers are saying here.

One “angelic” winner will receive:

  • A Brand New Nook Color
  • A copy of Angel Eyes by Shannon Dittemore

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends at
noon on June 25th. Winner will be announced at the “Angel
Eyes” Author Chat Facebook Party on 6/26
. Shannon will be hosting a book
chat, testing your trivia skills and giving away some great prizes!

So grab your copy of Angel Eyes and join Shannon on the evening of the June
26th for a chance to meet Shannon and make some new friends. (If you haven’t read the
book – don’t let that stop you from coming!)

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Don’t miss a moment of the RSVP
today. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you
on the 26th!


P is For Prayer




Prayer – we all know we’re supposed to do it – and we do, when times get rough, or we want to complain, or we need/want something.  Prayer, for the most part isn’t on our radar when things are going good – the children are doing what their told, everyone is healthy, etc  So we neglect our prayer life – I’m guilty of it, a lot.  I have this wonderful ideal in my head – my children should wake to see me with my Bible opened in front of me, eyes closed, head bowed – but the reality is they don’t.  They wake to a harried mom trying to get them moving for the day – as well as herself.


I don’t wake early – surely the Lord knows my need for sleep right?  He would understand, right?  When I face the Lord one day – will He question me like He questioned His Disciples who couldn’t stay awake to pray with Him in the garden?  Uh Oh!


Another thing on prayer is that do we actually pray when we are telling someone we are going to pray?  I’ll confess, sometimes I know that is the expected thing to say.  I know that is what I’m supposed to respond with as a Christian.  What I’m actually doing is lying – there are times I fully intend to pray and then I go about my day and realize as I’m laying in bed I haven’t prayed – not even a quick “Lord, please be with _________ as they go through _________.”  Yes, the Lord has been working on me.


When I have a friend who needs prayer, whether they post it on Facebook or their blog or elsewhere I do what I can right then to offer a heart felt, sincere prayer.  Even if it’s short, even if I have to type it out, I make a point to do it right then.  I’ve even touched the computer screen while praying for a friend it’s a tangible sign of them when they aren’t in front of me.  I’ve been reading about other faiths, some have certain times of prayer throughout the day, some pray 5 times a day.  Yes they are routine and rote but think about it – if Christians took the time to pray 5 times a day – what would happen?


The Bible tells us to pray unceasingly, that means to always be praying.  It doesn’t mean we have to be on our knees with heads bowed all the time – it means to be in prayer.  It can be a silent prayer – when your child is exasperating.  When that family member is just making one of those comments again.  Be in prayer – it can be as simple as a thought like “Lord help me get through this moment in Your strength.”  But pray.  We shouldn’t need a set time of prayer to remind us to pray, but if that helps so be it.  We are busy moms, so if setting aside five times a day to actively pray, either alone or with your children, then do it.


Keep a list of those prayer requests, talk to your children about them if you’re including them in your prayer time.  Choose a Scripture for each child and your spouse and pray that over them and him.  I like this idea at Lil Light O’ Mine for remembering to pray for her children – I can see this working for our husband’s and even our friends.  What delight would your friend get if you prayed a specific verse over them for a year and then sent them that to let them know what you prayed for them?


So let’s take the time to pray – even if that means you wake up early – I’ve done it and I know that the Lord will give you the energy to get through the day if you spend time with Him.  If you say you’re going to pray, do it right then, so then you’re also not guilty of lying on top of not praying.  Prayer should always be our first line of defense and not a response to hard ships or complaints.


Go pray!  😀

1 Comment »

The Captive Heart by Dale Cramer


About the Book from Bethany House:


Ravaged by disease, preyed upon by ruthless bandits, the Bender family’s second year in Mexico has taken a grievous turn. Faced with impossible choices, the expatriate Amish discover, more than ever before, what it means to live by faith and not by sight

But it’s Miriam who must make the hardest choice as her heart takes her on a new and dangerous course. Domingo. “He is gentle,” his sister said, “until someone he loves is threatened.” Is Miriam that someone?

“Cualnezqui,” he often calls her–the Nahuatl word for Beautiful one. The chiseled native has proven himself a man of principle, grace and power, yet is he the pearl of great price for whom Miriam would sacrifice everything, or is he merely a friend? Tormented by conflicting emotions, she’s haunted by vivid dreams: Dressed in the coarse cotton pants and shirt of a peasant, she stands on the precipice of a sun-washed ridge searching desperately for Domingo. Domingo the fierce. Domingo the protector.

Domingo the forbidden.


My Opinion:


If you are looking for a book to renew your enjoyment of Amish fiction, then look no further than Dale Cramer’s, The Captive Heart.  Filled with unexpected twists and turns this will have you flipping the pages long into the night, like it did me – I couldn’t go bed until I finished this book!  While it does have romance in it, this isn’t the kind that makes you want to gag or throw the book out, it’s a romance that seems real more than faked or pushed and it doesn’t involve a lot of kissing or hand holding, etc between two unmarried people.


I think knowing that the book is based on true events, makes it even that more exciting.  The Amish aren’t known for branching out – although they do it more today in search of land – or for evangelizing but this books takes them out of ‘Amish country’ that we and they are familiar with and puts them smack dab in Mexico which is facing it’s own tumultuous future.  Domingo and Miriam both want to put family and God first but don’t know how to do that without betraying one or the other but eventually realize how it could work if given the time.  This is an exceptional book and I can’t wait to read another book in the Caleb Bender series to see where this new Amish community ends up.


**Disclaimer:  I was given a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review, no other compensation was given.

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Crew Review: Mobile Education Tools; Storybuilder

Vendor Name:  Mobile Education Tools

Vendor ContactMobile Education Tools contact page

Name of ProductStorybuilder

Price:  $5.99 for iPod Touch (with camera) and $7.99 for the iPad

Age Range:  elementary

Before telling you what my children and I thought about this app I’m going to tell you a little bit about it and some of it’s features first, so that you can better understand where I’m coming from when I tell you my thoughts.  The Mobile Education products were born out of a need of a father to give his special needs daughter a way for her to learn and communicate.  To quote from their website: ” We exist to fill the large gap that exists between the availability and cost of commercial special needs software and the needs of everyday parents.”  When it comes to the Storybuilder app it works to improve paragraph formation, improve integration of ideas, and improve higher level abstractions by inference.

I’m going to begin by saying I do not have a special needs child so my review will be coming from the perspective that I allowed my children to play with the app in a fun, freestyle, educational way versus how someone who does have a special needs child would use this app.  It was very easy to install on my iPod and add all three children’s name to the account so they could each use it based on their own level.  The first level asks four questions about the picture in which each question will relate to something in the pictures.  Level two asks seven question and makes the child infer what is going on before or after the even in the picture.  While level three allows the child to make up their own story on their own.

The other settings are color code reinforcement and question text reinforcement, both of which the parent can control depending on the needs or age of their child.  Mine preferred to make up their own stories so even my 5 year old preferred level 3 as he found the color coding to be confusing and he hasn’t learned to read just yet.  The parent can choose on, off or intermittent and in the color code this will either have the question text highlighted in red, in off mode the text background will be same color as the picture and in intermittent the text will only be highlighted when the question is being read.  The question text reinforcement works in basically the same way as the color code does.

Once the child is ready to play they will press the play button and the question will be read or displayed, the picture displayed along with the buttons for record, repeat question, play answer and next question.  Once all the questions are answered in full sentences the child can then play their story back and even email it to family and friends, if the parent is okay with that.  The story can also be paused and resumed.  It was very easy to email the stories my children made to my email and listen to them once I installed the Quicktime player on my computer – a wonderful idea if the child has grandparents or other relatives who live far away but still want to share in the child’s accomplishments.

As I said I let my 10, 7 and 5 year old play with it more than actually using it as a part of our schooling however it was a hit, and I can see them continuing to use it and they enjoy being able to email me their stories once they are completed.  Since my 5 year old isn’t writing this is a great way for him to tell a story on his own or with prompting and get it down so to speak.  He did become frustrated with the questions being read but with help from me and his sisters we cut down on the frustration level.  Even I enjoyed it and made up a few of my own stories, using the children’s accounts.  Overall, I think this could be an assets for those children who need some help in writing and forming ideas into a story or who just enjoy telling stories and want to play around.  You can read what other parents thought about this and Rainbow Sentences by visiting the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

**Disclaimer:  As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.



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More drawings…..

I’ve posted before about Hannah’s love of drawing and usually she blesses us with her wonderful artwork.  I wanted to share some of her recent drawings.  She prefers to work in pencil without color.


She drew a soccer player for Christian.


She drew a cheerleader for Bethanne.


A panda for her dad.


And for me she drew me Scarlett O’Hara. Wonder if she can draw me a Rhett and Ashley and Melanie next?



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