Friday, May 22, 2015

Mystery and History in The Secrets of Shakespeare's Grave by Deron R. Hicks

I read this book for an article I wrote for Brightly.  I checked it out of the library and read the entire book in one sitting.  It was easy to read and a fun mystery to get lost in.

It's a current-day mystery about a young girl trying to figure out how to save her family business. Someone is sabotaging her father's hard work, so she joins her middle aged cousin in a hunt for a family treasure. The combination of humor and intrigue made this book enjoyable and fun to read. The characters go on a National Treasure style treasure hunt where they find a series of clues and have to figure them out in order to move on to the next one. While it's a classic idea, it was done well. Who doesn't love a treasure hunt?

Content: clean


Bonus: You can read this book for free with Amazon's Kindle Unlimited program.

About Secrets of Shakespeare's Grave:

  • Age range: 9-12
  • Grade Level: 4 - 7
  • Series: The Shakespeare Mysteries (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (September 10, 2013)


Twelve-year-old Colophon Letterford has a serious mystery on her hands. Will she discover the link between her family’s literary legacy and Shakespeare’s tomb before it’s too late? Antique paintings, secret passages, locked mausoleums, a four-hundred-year-old treasure, and a cast of quirky (and some ignoble) characters all add up to a fun original adventure. Readers will revel in a whirlwind journey through literary time and space in real-world locales from Mont St. Michel to Stratford-Upon-Avon to Central Park!

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Review of A Love Like Ours by Becky Wade

What I Thought:

Becky Wade is one of my favorite authors, especially when it comes to romance. Her characters are real, flawed individuals that I can't help but love. They each overcome obstacles and grow throughout the story. This is Christian fiction, but the religious aspect is presented in a non-preachy way.  Faith is part of the characters' lives and it feels natural in the story.

A Love Like Ours is the third book in the Porter family series, but it can be read on its own. It's Jake's story and quite a bit different from the other two in that Jake is dealing with some very heavy and serious issues. I loved Lyndie, her big heart, and her perseverance. I loved the way she looked past Jake's gruff exterior and wormed her way into his heart. The two of them had great chemistry and it was wonderful to watch them grow together the way they did.

If you've never read a Becky Wade novel, I would highly suggest you fix that.

Content: clean

Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


About the Book:

  • Series: Porter Family Novels
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (May 5, 2015)


Former Marine Jake Porter has far deeper scars than the one that marks his face. He struggles with symptoms of PTSD, lives a solitary life, and avoids relationships.

When Lyndie James, Jake's childhood best friend, lands back in Holley, Texas, Jake cautiously hires her to exercise his Thoroughbreds. Lyndie is tender-hearted, fiercely determined, and afraid of nothing, just like she was as a child. Jake pairs her with Silver Leaf, a horse full of promise but lacking in results, hoping she can solve the mystery of the stallion's reluctance to run.

Though Jake and Lyndie have grown into very different adults, the bond that existed during their childhood still ties them together. Against Jake's will, Lyndie's sparkling, optimistic personality begins to tear down the walls he's built around his heart. A glimmer of the hope he'd thought he'd lost returns, but fears and regrets still plague him. Will Jake ever be able to love Lyndie like she deserves, or is his heart too shattered to mend?

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Reading Hemingway: The Old Man and the Sea

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

This is such an interesting story. It's my first Hemingway book, but I'll definitely be reading more from him. He's a fascinating person and I want to learn more about him.

Interest in the author aside, the story itself was quite remarkable. At the beginning I kept wondering what the point was, but I kept reading. I loved the struggle between the old man and the marlin. It was amazing how he persevered through everything and struggled to win his battle. I liked how Hemingway depicted the old man's fight to stay sane and strong. **Spoiler Alert** My heart broke for him when he sailed back home, but I liked the way his attitude toward his great catch changed. At first he was proud of his fish and kept looking at it, but as the sharks tore away the pieces, he grew to regret killing such a beautiful fish and began wondering about right and wrong. **End Spoiler**

How often do we become the old man, struggling against God and nature to achieve a goal, only to find out that it wasn't meant to be? The saddest part is the regret that we feel over the sacrifices made, both by ourselves and the people or things we destroyed to accomplish our goal.

It's a thought provoking book, and one that makes you take a step back and ask yourself if the reward will be worth the struggle.


About the Book:

  • Age range: Adult (appropriate for teens, too)
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; Reissue edition (May 5, 1995)


The Old Man and the Sea is one of Hemingway's most enduring works. Told in language of great simplicity and power, it is the story of an old Cuban fisherman, down on his luck, and his supreme ordeal -- a relentless, agonizing battle with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream.

Here Hemingway recasts, in strikingly contemporary style, the classic theme of courage in the face of defeat, of personal triumph won from loss. Written in 1952, this hugely successful novella confirmed his power and presence in the literary world and played a large part in his winning the 1954 Nobel Prize for Literature.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

5 Books for Horse Loving Kids (and Adults)

I know I'm not the only horse nut out there, but (fortunately) I no longer want to turn INTO a horse.  That dream died along with my childhood. 

I did my best as a single gal to find a cowboy that would buy me a horse, but the man I married is not a cowboy (as much as he would like to argue the point).  He works in the tech industry.  So now I'm holding out for the day we can retire to a ranch in Montana.  He can be the cowboy he's always wanted to be and I can have horses to moon over.

Since my girls are already horse lovers as well, I've collected some of my favorite horse books from when I was young so we can read them together. If you have a favorite horse book, let me know in the comments!  I'd love to check it out.

King of the Wind 

by Marguerite Henry

This is my favorite horse book of all time!  It's about a young boy and his little Arabian stallion that runs faster than the wind. It's a beautiful story and one that every horse lover needs to read.

Misty of Chincoteague 

by Marguerite Henry

From the same author as King of the Wind, this is another gem of a tale and one that I can't wait to read with my girls.  I know they will be as enamored with Misty as I was/am.

The Black Stallion 

by Walter Farley

The thing I loved about The Black Stallion (I read it many, many times as a kid) was that it was as much about survival as it was about the relationship between a boy and the wild horse he manages to rescue from a sinking ship.  The stallion later saves the boys life, and the two develop an unbreakable bond.

The Island Stallion

by Walter Farley

Most people have heard about The Black Stallion, but far fewer people know about Walter Farley's other series, The Island Stallion.  I liked this series just as much as The Black Stallion books.  I liked the setting and the main character.  I liked the way the boy and the fierce stallion formed an unlikely alliance and partnership.  It's not a series to be missed. 

Black Beauty 

by Anna Sewell

No list of horse books would be complete without mentioning Black Beauty.  This is another book I read over and over as a child.  It was eye opening to see how horses were treated, what their owners demanded of them, and what was considered desirable.  This book not only solidified my love of horses, but also impressed upon me the importance of being kind to animals and treating them with respect.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Nonfiction Review of 7 Men and the Secret of Their Greatness

What I Thought:

While 7 Men and the Secret of Their Greatness wasn't quite what I was hoping for, it was an interesting read.  I hadn't heard of many of these men before (please don't judge me) so I got to know some interesting figures from history that I wouldn't have learned about otherwise.  I also liked how the author focused on the good influence these men had on the world and the way they stuck to their guns and didn't back down when faced with pressure.  This is a collection of impressive men that relied on God to see them through the challenges they faced and were able to accomplish amazing things because of it.

Since I knew little to nothing about most of these men before reading this book, I would have liked more information about them than what was included.  Most of these men had very eventful and interesting lives and it was difficult to get a sense of that with a 30 page mini-biography.  However, if there had been as much information as I'd wanted, the book would be a monstrosity.

If nothing else, Eric Metaxas has piqued my interest in some of history's men and I'd like to learn more about them, especially William Wilberforce.

Content: Some violence and prejudice, but I consider this a clean book

Source:  I received a copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.


About the Book:

  • Age range: adult (appropriate for teens)
  • Genre: nonfiction/biography/history
  • Print Length: 221 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (April 29, 2013)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Christian Publishing


In Seven Men, New York Times best-selling author Eric Metaxas presents seven exquisitely crafted short portraits of widely knownùbut not well understoodùChristian men, each of whom uniquely showcases a commitment to live by certain virtues in the truth of the gospel.

Written in a beautiful and engaging style, Seven Men addresses what it means (or should mean) to be a man today, at a time when media and popular culture present images of masculinity that are not the picture presented in Scripture and historic civil life. What does it take to be a true exemplar as a father, brother, husband, leader, coach, counselor, change agent, and wise man? What does it mean to stand for honesty, courage, and charity, especially at times when the culture and the world run counter to those values?

Each of the seven biographies represents the life of a man who experienced the struggles and challenges to be strong in the face of forces and circumstances that would have destroyed the resolve of lesser men. Each of the seven men profiledùGeorge Washington, William Wilberforce, Eric Liddell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jackie Robinson, John Paul II, and Charles Colsonùcall the reader to a more elevated walk and lifestyle, one that embodies the gospel in the world around us.

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Saturday, May 16, 2015

Weekly Update (5/16/15): What I'm Reading + New Books!

I got one new picture book this week, and it's from Joan Holub!  She's one of my favorite authors for children and my kids love her books.  She recently had two Mini Myth board books released and my five year old adores them.  So it's no surprise that I was so excited to see Itty Bitty Kitty show up in my mail.

I also got some other books in the mail too.  I was excited to see the second Anton and Cecil book will be coming out in August.  I really enjoyed the first one and I have high hopes for Cats on Track

New Books (Stacking the Shelves):

Thank you to Joan Holub for sending me a copy of Itty Bitty Kitty! This is such a cute book and I'll be sharing my thoughts on it soon. :)  Thank you to Algonquin Books for sending me the two Anton and Cecil books.  I haven't decided if I'm going to try to read them to my kids or if I'll just read them by myself.  I might give it a try with the kiddos and see how it goes.

I'm VERY excited to read Venture Mom.  I've been having  a great time reading self help business books and this one sounds perfect for me.  

What I read last week:
7 Men and the Secret of Their Greatness was the only book I read this week.  I made a little progress on some other things, but I didn't finish anything else. 

What I'm currently reading:
I'm still reading Little House in the Big Woods to my kids at night.  It's funny how kids connect with certain stories.  My poor five year old is now paranoid that a panther is going to jump out of the trees and get her.  My seven year old just wants a doll like Charlotte.

My kids are both dealing with shyness to some degree, but my five year old really struggles with it, so I snagged a copy of Nurturing the Shy Child from the library.  So far, it's been very informative and it's given me hope that my kids can have a less socially awkward childhood than mine was.  

What I'm Reading Next:
Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin is up next on my list.  I've been looking forward to this book for quite some time, so hopefully I can finish my other books soon.  I haven't decided what to read after this, but I have a huge stack of middle grade and YA novels that I need to get through, so I'll probably start on those.

What are you reading?

Giveaways to Enter:

My Rules for Being a Pretty Princess by Heath McKenzie (2 winners will get a copy of the book!)

Friday, May 15, 2015

Signup to Read Along with Me! Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George

I'm posting this a little early, but I'm so excited about it!  Tressa from Wishful Endings and I are hosting a read-along for Jessica Day George's new young adult novel, Silver in the Blood.  I can't wait to read this book.  The read-along will run for two weeks, so you only need to read a chapter a day.  You don't need a blog to participate, either.  The book will be published on July 7, so you'll be able to pick it up at the bookstore or possibly get it through your library before the read-along starts.

If you want to participate, sign up here, then be sure to come back throughout the read-along for a great giveaway and interviews with the author. 

Need to know a little bit more about the book?

Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George
As spoiled society girls from New York City circa 1890, Dacia and Lou never desired to know more about their lineage, instead preferring to gossip about their mysterious Romanian relatives, the Florescus. But upon turning seventeen, the girls must return to their homeland to meet their family, find proper husbands, and-most terrifyingly-learn the secrets of The Claw, The Wing, and The Smoke. The Florescus, after all, are shape-shifters, bound by a centuries-old tradition to do the bidding of the royal Dracula family and it is time for Dacia and Lou to take their place among the ranks. But when the devilish heir, Mihai Dracula sets his sights on Dacia as part of his plan to secure power over all of Europe, the girls choose to fight against this cruel inheritance with all their might. Only the dashing Lord Johnny Hardcastle and the mysterious Theophilus Arkady- members of a secret society charged with ridding the world of monsters-can help Dacia and Lou, but breaking the shackles of their upbringing will require more courage than the girls ever imagined.

The thrilling start to a richly drawn, romance-filled series, this epic adventure of two girls in a battle for their lives will have readers coming back for more.

Ready to sign up? Add your link!  If you don't have a blog, just leave a comment to let me know you will be reading with us.


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