Friday, June 12, 2009

Sisterchicks In Wooden Shoes

Are you a Sisterchick?
The Summary:
When a mammogram result comes back abnormal, midlife mama Summer Finley makes a snap decision to relegate fear to the back burner and fulfill a lifelong dream. Summer heads for Holland where she meets up with tulips, wooden shoes, and her best friend, Noelle.
Pen pals since fourth grade, Summer and Noelle have never met face-to-face. Through decades of heart-level correspondence, they have sustained a deep friendship. A week of adventure helps both women trade anxiety for a renewed and deeper trust in God. When Summer confides in Noelle about the abnormal medical report, Noelle finds the freedom to share a long-held heartache, and both women discover they needed each other more than they realized.
My thoughts:
In Sisterchicks In Wooden Shoes, Robin Jones Gunn captures the authentic feelings of friendship and demonstrates the deep need we have for each other. I felt like I was a stowaway on Summer’s trip, traveling with her through her exciting adventure in Holland. Her characters begin awkward with each other and grow more comfortable as the story progress. Summer and Noelle are great examples of the ease and comfort of friendship and the informal intimacy that occurs between Sisterchicks.
This was my first Sisterchick book. I’ll have to pick up the others now.
Sisterchicks In Wooden Shoes is like a travel book wrapped around a story and tied up with faith. It will inspire you to call a friend. It will gently teach you more about Holland, Corrie Ten Boom, and the Holocaust. It will challenge you to forgive those who’ve hurt you and walk in faith and not fear.
One of my favorite things about Robin’s writing is that she captures the essence of scripture beautifully and coveys it in a way that I can really grab hold of and “own” (as Summer would say).
Another bonus of Sisterchicks in Wooden Shoes is the discussion questions at the end of the book. This seems to be a growing trend in Christian Fiction and I love it. The questions will provide an easy road map for discussion in any book club.
You can get more Info or order Sisterchicks In Wooden Shoes by clicking here.

* I was given this product free to review on behalf of Multnomah, June 2009 

Monday, June 1, 2009

Saints In Limbo

Saints In Limbo
About the book:
Ever since her husband Joe died, Velma True’s world has been limited to what she can see while clinging to one of the multicolored threads tied to the porch railing of her home outside Echo, Florida.
When a mysterious stranger appears at her door on her birthday and presents Velma with a special gift, she is rattled by the object’s ability to take her into her memories–a place where Joe still lives, her son Rudy is still young, unaffected by the world’s hardness, and the beginning is closer than the end. As secrets old and new come to light, Velma wonders if it’s possible to be unmoored from the past’s deep roots and find a reason to hope again.
My Thoughts:
Saints In Limbo was not what I expected it to be.  When I requested it I was expecting a Women’s Fiction novel with  southern style warmth and a message on the value of life (regardless of your age).  What I read was very lyrical as it has been described, but it was also so mystical/science fiction that it lost the feminine character that I need as reader. 
I’m a sucker for women’s fiction.  I love a good heart-warming story.  Add in time travel, magic stones, and mysterious man-creatures and I glaze over pretty quick.  I’m just being honest.  I’m simply not wired to respond well to science fiction.
I continued reading to the end, but scratched my head in confusion may times.  Who would be so crazy that they tie strings onto their porch and refuse to go anywhere without holding one?  It was just too nutty to comprehend.  Also, I was repeatedly annoyed with the character, Rudy, who seemed to take hardly any interest in his aging and mentally unstable mother.  I don’t know . . .if my Mom tied strings to her porch and held it with one hand while gardening I think I’d call the funny farm. . . I’m just saying .
River Jordan does write passionately and her use of language and vocabulary are very impressive.  However,the movements of her scenes seemed a little awkward to me at times.  I found areas where I struggled to figure out if Velma was in reality or sailing through time in a memory.
I’m kind of stumped on this book.
In my opinion, Saints In Limbo is not a solid fit into any real genre.  It’s a little too lyrical for sci-fi and way too sci-fi for general Women’s fiction.   With all the mystical and magical elements in the story, I  wouldn’t consider it a Christian novel either.  Again, I’m stumped. 
If you really enjoy science-fiction and don’t mind mystical elements and female characters, then you might want to check it out for yourself.   
You can find Saints in Limbo here.  Saints In Limbo can be purchased for $13.99.  
About the Author:
River Jordan is a critically acclaimed novelist and playwright whose unique mixture of southern and mystic writing has drawn comparisons to Sarah Addison AllenLeif Enger, and Flannery O’Connor. Her previous works include The Messenger of Magnolia Street, lauded by Kirkus Reviews as “a beautifully written, atmospheric tale.” She speaks around the country and makes her home in Nashville
* I was given this product free to review on behalf of Random House, June 2009 

Sprout Your Own Sweet Scents

Sprout Your Own Sweet Scents is a garden kit that contains three packets of seeds, peat pellets, three planters, stickers, and a 30-page guidebook. Spearmint, lemon balm, and cinnamon basil are the seeds included in this kit. 

The guidebook will walk you through the steps for preparing the soil and planting the seeds. Be sure to follow the directions carefully. Lemon balm should be left on top of the soil to sprout and should not be covered. While waiting for your seeds to sprout, you can read the guidebook to discover all kinds of fun facts about how seeds grow, what makes them smell, and how each plant can be used. You'll even find experiments and recipes for using the herbs. 

I really like the guidebook. It was very thorough, educational, and fun to read. I also liked how colorful the planters were. Everything was packaged very creatively. Most of the seed packets contained enough seeds for multiple plantings. 

I was disappointed when I opened my cinnamon seed packet and found it empty. The other seeds sprouted, but they are thin and not as sturdy as I would expect. As much as I love the shape and color of the planters, they aren't the easiest for growing. I eventually replanted them into little clay pots and they did much better. The water didn't drain very well out of the pots provided in the kit, and the sprouts molded very quickly. 

Overall, I enjoyed Sprout Your Own Sweet Scents. I believe it was probably just a fluke that one seed packet was empty. The guidebook really impressed me, and honestly, I'd probably buy it with or without the rest of the kit. The kit costs $18.99. That is a little high for my taste, but the guidebook makes it almost worth the price. If I could buy the guidebook separately and pick up the seeds and planters on the side, I'd do that in a heartbeat. 

* I was given this product free to review on behalf of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June 2009 

The Christmas Porringer

The Christmas Porringer is a sweet and quick holiday read. Written by Evaleen Stein and first printed in 1914, The Christmas Porringer is a special little treasure. The novel is set in the Middle Ages and centers on a generous but poor little girl named Karen. Karen is determined to give the Christ-child a Christmas gift of His very own. When the special gift is stolen, it becomes clear that God desires to use the simple gift as a way of bringing change to those who desperately need it. The story shows that no one is too "messed up" for God to change. The Christmas Porringer is a compassionate look at redemption, and it is told in a way that can be understood and enjoyed by children and adults. 

Written for ages six and up, The Christmas Porringer is a great choice for a holiday read-aloud. The story could be used to introduce children to the way a poor child would have lived during the Middle Ages. In the story, Karen and her grandmother both do lacework to make an income. The story shows the importance of hard work, even for a child. There are many other moral concepts and ideas that could easily be applied to family discussions and extended into the homeschool day. 

Had I not been given The Christmas Porringer to review, I probably would have passed over this book without giving it any notice at all. The cover has a very simple and old-fashioned look that, honestly, would not have caught my eye. This book proves the folly of judging a book by its cover. It is a beautifully simple and heartwarming story, and I'm glad I didn't miss out on reading this book. 

The thee's and thou's in the book were, at times, a bit awkward. Maybe that's because it's not everyday that I read books set in other time periods. I thought the plot made for an endearing holiday read that any family would enjoy. The price of $7.95 is fair. I am happy to recommend this book for your holiday reading list.

You can order your copy through
* I was given this product free to review on behalf of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June 2009