Friday, February 12, 2016

Friday's Fave Five #365

Hello and welcome.  Today is Friday so that means Friday's Fave Five.  Join us as we look back over the week and look for blessings sharing our five favorites.

1.  Relaxing Sunday afternoon.  Hubby popped his world famous (well probably not world famous, but family famous) popcorn and we both enjoyed Age Of Adaline.  I certainly needed an afternoon where I wasn't running around trying to catch up on errands.

2.  Lunch with friends from way back.  A couple we knew from way back has started coming to church and it was nice to have lunch with them.  We haven't seen them in years, I mean our kids were little when we last visited, and it was so nice to catch up and have it be comfortable and enjoyable.

3.  Babies dancing.  How fun is it to watch little one years olds dance as soon as some music comes on?!  And I get to watch this everyday right now.  The way they bounce their little diapered bottoms up and down always makes me laugh and smile.  So cute!

4.  Some nice mild days.  We've had some really nice milder days the last week.  The sun has come out, the kids and I have have been able to get out and soak it up a bit.  So unusual for this time of year for us.  I mean, I was out with no coat on soaking up the sun the other day.  So awesome!

5.  Jalapeno and cheese bagels.   Toasted, one of  my favourite lunches plain with cream cheese.  So good and keeps me full till almost supper.

What were your favourites this week?

Monday, February 08, 2016

Mermaid Moon by Colleen Coble ~ Book Tour and Review

Publisher's Description:  
Mallory’s mother died fifteen years ago. But her father’s last words on the phone were unmistakable: “Find . . . mother.” Shame and confusion have kept Mallory Davis from her home for the last fifteen years, but when her dad mysteriously dies on his mail boat route, she doesn’t have any choice but to go back to Mermaid Point. Mallory believes her father was murdered and childhood sweetheart Kevin O’Connor, game warden in Downeast Maine, confirms her suspicions. But Kevin is wary of helping Mallory in her search. She broke his heart and left—without a word—years ago. When Mallory begins receiving threats on her own life—and her beloved teenage daughter, Haylie—their search intensifies. There’s a tangled web within the supposed murder, and it involves much more than what meets the eye. As answers begin to fall into place, Mallory realizes her search is about more than finding her father’s killer—it is also about finding herself again . . . and possibly about healing what was broken so long ago with Kevin. She just has to stay alive long enough to put all the pieces together.

My Thoughts:  This is the 2nd installment of the Sunset Cove series by Colleen Coble. (The first one "The Inn at Ocean's Edge" is reviewed here.)   Like all her contemporary books that I have read it is a suspense romance.  The mystery starts almost immediately with Mallory receiving a phone call from her father that has a confusing message for her.  But as she listens to him talk Mallory thinks her father is having a heart attack.  Her first instinct is to call Kevin, a game warden, who lives in her father's area and with whom Mallory had a relationship before she left 15 years before.  Now with her father's death Mallory must take her 14 year daughter back to Folly Shoal's and take care of her father's affairs.  It's the last thing she wants to do.  But when it's looking like her father didn't have a heart attack but was murdered she is determined to stay and find out what was going on in spite of the fact that she feels everyone is upset that she is back.

A "Mermaid Moon" refers to a pink moon that Mallory's mother, who died when she was young, used to tell her gave a mermaid the power to overcome her troubles and make a new start.  It becomes significant to the story as Mallory's story deals with guilt and shame from her past that paralyzes her future.  The story explores what happens when we can't forgive ourselves for something we've done and how it affects all our decisions.  And what do we do when that past catches up with us?  Mallory has a hard time moving forward past her mistakes and living a happy life.

The mystery was good and I never guessed the surprise twist at all.  Mallory's relationship with her teenaged daughter was totally relatable and the romantic tension between her and her ex, Kevin, was just enough without being overdone.  I enjoyed going back to the area in Maine where this story is set after the author introduced it in the first book to the series.  Her descriptions are lovely and makes me want to visit there.  One of the only criticisms I would have is that there was quite the cast of characters in this story and near the end I was getting a little mixed up as to who was who.  This was a fast paced, enjoyable "escape" read.

Thanks to BookLook Bloggers for providing Mermaid Moon free of charge for my honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own and I was not required to write a positive review.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Friday's Fave Five #364

Welcome to the first of February's Friday's Fave Five.  Another month to take our Friday to pause and reflect on the good things that God daily sends into our lives to bless us and uplift us.  Join us in sharing our five favourites of the past week.

1.  The gift of friendship.  I so appreciate my dear friend.  We haven't known each other more than 5 years but in that time we have developed an extremely close bond.  Unfortunately, last year their family moved to another province.  Though I miss her terribly, there is always the phone and I appreciate her listening ear.  I sure needed it this week.  As always I hung up in a much better head space after talking with her.

2.  Smooth mornings.  I am so not a morning person so when I have a super smooth morning I am always very appreciative of it.  And by super smooth I mean no one talks to me until I've had my first coffee.  I need peace and quiet until that is accomplished.  No noise, no voices, no music blaring.  Then the next step is there are no hiccups, no stresses or major events that put me behind in getting ready for work. Yay for a couple of mornings like that this week.

3.  Yummy salad made up on the spot.  Saturday I was trying to throw something together for supper for the two of us.  Peering into the fridge it was slim pickins'.  But this is what I came up with:  Very thin sliced red cabbage, yellow pepper, fresh cilantro, black beans and lime italian dressing.  Was it it ever good.  Went perfect with the jalapeno peppers and chicken that we had.

4.  Easy peasy reads.  Sometimes you just need a book that lets you escape without having to think too much.  This week I definitely needed one of those and my review book for this month totally fit the bill.  Romantic suspense that just let me wind down.

5.  American Idol.  Been really enjoying this last season of a show I've been watching since season 1.  I think this year it's been produced and edited really well.  And I love how it's really focused on the positive and the talent and not so much on the weird auditions.  I am going to miss this show.

Well that wraps up my five for the week.  What were your favourites for the week?

Monday, February 01, 2016

Bathsheba: Reluctant Beauty by Angela Hunt ~ Book Review

This is book #2 in the A Dangerous Beauty Series by this author.  It focuses on 3 different women from the bible who's supreme beauty didn't necessarily benefit them but, if fact, betrayed them or put them in danger.  I reviewed the 1st book, Esther:  Royal Beauty here.

When King David looks out from his rooftop and sees the beautiful Bathsheba bathing in her courtyard, he sends for her and forces himself upon her in spite of the fact that she is married and married to one of his most loyal soldiers at that.  To see this side of David who worshipped God with such great abandon, was a shock to Bathsheba and it threw her young life into great turmoil.  She loved her husband, Uriah, and hoped she would have a lifetime of loving him and bearing his children.  But when Uriah left for war, young Bathsheba still had not conceived a child.  Now with King David forcing himself upon her she finds herself pregnant.  With this news, David furthers his sin, by bringing Uriah home from the seige of a city and trying to get him to go be with his wife, but in his loyalty Uriah refuses so David has him killed.  He then takes Bathsheba into his palace as his wife.

The story of David and Bathsheba is not a happy, fluffy romance.  The consequences of David's sin reverberated throughout his life and caused much sorrow not just for him but for Bathsheba as well.  Modern movies and stories have always involved Bathsheba as a quite willing partner in the whole affair but this author has taken a different viewpoint.  Bathsheba lost her sense of self, her husband, her child, her home and everything she knew of her life.  And probably at a very young age in a very short space of time.  From the author's notes in the back, which are well worth taking the time to read, she once again states that she took great care to not purposely contradict anything in the bible.  The viewpoint of Bathsheba not being a willing participant in the affair and that her whole life was ruined and changed against her will was one I never thought of before and it took her story in another path with emotions for me.  The whole tale, even straight up from the bible is so sad. I love how this story explored the feelings of devastation Bathsheba would have been going through and how she had to learn to forgive and not turn bitter.   For the most part, I really enjoyed this look into Bathsheba's life and emotions and thoughts from this perspective.  And I appreciated how the author conveyed that through it all God remained faithful and the story is filled with Bathsheba trying to raise her sons to honor the Lord.   I also really liked the the exploration of how David's other wives would have reacted to Bathsheba and everything she had to overcome in trying to make friendships within the palace so that she didn't lead a totally isolated and lonely life.  The story is told in alternating chapters in Bathsheba's words and in Nathan, the prophet's words.  In all honesty, there were just a handful of paragraphs or sentences that made me uncomfortable from the perspective of this being Christian fiction, but it was not anything near what you would find in secular novel and can easily be skipped if you are sensitive to that.  I also was a tad uncomfortable with a storyline concerning Nathan's feelings for Bathsheba which I don't think added anything to make the story better.  

Reading this really made me pause and reflect on the story of David and Bathsheba and all there is to be learned from their lives and  I gave it a 8.5 out 10.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Friday's Fave Five #363

Welcome to the last Friday's Fave Five for the month of January 2016.  Let's take a look back over the week and remember some of those things that have uplifted us and blessed us.  

1.  This totally cracked me up.  Shared by JoLynne Shane.  Nothing like a good chuckle in the middle of the day.

2.  A great deal always makes my fave list.  I've been needing a coat for those not warm but not super cold days.  I saw one I liked last fall but at a price of $150 I was not willing to bite.  Then last week I saw the store had a huge sale on coats online.  And there was the coat I had been looking at.  My size was not available in the local store but it was online.  So I bought it, had it shipped to the store so I didn't have to pay shipping costs, and it's already in and waiting.  So between the clearance price and an additional 15 %, providing it fits and looks great, this coat is costing me a grand total of $33.99.    Yup, you read that right.  Keeping my fingers crossed!!  (And if it doesn't, I don't have to purchase it.  Now how can I lose on that sale?!)

3.  Boxing workout.  At Curves, which is the gym I belong to, they have added a boxing component.  And it's been great fun and highly motivating.  I like mixing up the workouts...keeps them from getting boring and keeps me from stagnating.  It makes me use my mind as well as my muscles because you have to learn the moves so I have to concentrate.   

4.  Naptime in dayhome.   This has been an absolute blessing this week as it's been very hectic in dayhome, some of the kid's aren't feeling great, and last night I didn't get much sleep for some reason.  So nap and quiet time today made me very, very happy!

5.  My Son's birthday!  He turned 24 this week.  I can hardly believe it.  Unfortunately, he is in school so is not at home to celebrate.  But it was fun to get his birthday package together and send it off, talk to him on the phone and then make his favourite traditional taco dinner he always asks for in spite of the fact that he wouldn't be here to partake of it.  It was a small consolation knowing his friends took him out for tacos to celebrate.

What were your favourite blessings this week?

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Anne of Avonlea ~ Book Review

So last year when I was shopping at Costco, low and behold they had the whole set of Anne books (all 8 of them) for a fairly decent price and seeing as I loved Anne of Green Gables so much after finally reading it instead of just watching the movie I took the plunge and bought the set. Which totally set me up to join in with Carrie at Reading to Know and her Lucy Maud Montgomery reading challenge. The challenge is to read as many titles as you can by this author in the month of January and I did all of one. But it did get me finally cracking open this set.

 This book sets up Anne as a young 17 year old who has finished school and is now the school teacher in Avonlea. It continues her adventures finding "kindred spirits" in the continuation of her friendship with Dianna and in her new fledgling friendship with the eccentric Miss Lavender. Anne's personality as usual was all bubbly, fresh, and still doing things without thinking them through though not quite as often as when she was younger. I must admit I did miss the precocious young Anne next to the more mature Anne. It was nice to read of her and Diana's friendship blossoming and being strong. The eccentric characters of Mr. Harrison and Miss Lavender were fun and added a quirkiness to the story. I especially loved reading of how her and Marilla's relationship deepened and moved to an "adult" relationship, reminding me of how my own relationship had changed with my mom when I moved out of the teen years. I missed the character of Gilbert a bit as he was barely mentioned, but there was a good set up for him for the next stories.

 There were a few things, though, that I didn't enjoy so much about this second installment in the series. The first was a chapter in the story that had the school children writing letters to Anne about anything they pleased. After perusing letter after letter and Anne's reaction I grew quite bored and basically skipped most of that chapter. Have I mentioned I really dislike letter writing as a form of story telling? I also found some of the conversations of elementary age children, namely Paul Irving and Davy, so involved and long that it got me questioning whether little boys that age actually converse in looooong complicated paragraphs that way. Some of those were scanned by me too. And last but not least I really disliked how it was mentioned several times throughout the novel that of two siblings in their care, Anne and Marilla loved one well above the other. It wasn't "they liked the personality" of one more, it was they "loved" one more than the other. They had conversations about it. That really irked the mother and child care provider in me immensely. I kept asking the book aloud whether they had never read or heard the story of Joseph.

 As a whole, I enjoyed reading Anne of Avonlea. I don't know what has taken me so long because I love the movies starring Megan Follows, so thanks to Carrie for giving me the nudge to get reading.  I gave it an 8 out of 10 so not as high as Anne of Green Gables but still good.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Friday's Fave Five #362

Hello everyone!  Welcome to Friday's Fave Five!  I am so glad that I have this pause to take note of some good blessings in my life.  The days seems to be whizzing by and I find I am running to keep up so it's a good thing for me to deliberately be looking for the good in my life or those little things might just pass me by.  Please join me and the other faithful FFF group!  The link to the guidelines is in the sidebar.

1.  Tea with my Mom.  My mom still lives in her home at the age of 83 years old.  Amazing.  There is a senior centre close by that she goes to in the daytimes when she feels like company but they are closed on the weekends.  I know Sundays are really a difficult time for her in the feeling lonely department so we try to have her over to our house for Sunday lunch as much as possible.  This last Sunday I just had some other things to get caught up on so that didn't happen but Hubby, T and I popped over for a cup of tea in the evening.  The blessing was seeing how giddy with excitement she was.  I didn't realize how much it makes her happy to have us come over for a tea or coffee.  We'll have to try to do that more often too.

2.  A total relax day.  Saturday was cold and I was feeling right lazy after a hectic week.  Hubby was awesome and just encouraged me to have a total relax day.  I never have those.  The only time I went out was to the gym for a great workout.  Then I just came home and got cozy under a furry blanket, kept my coffee cup filled and read.  Hubby made homemade popcorn just the way I like it with half butter and half extra virgin olive oil and lots of salt.  I know, totally unhealthy, but totally indulgent.  We watched a movie together and made a point of no chores.  It was heaven!

3.  Dinner out with friends at an Indian restaurant.  I have never experienced East Indian cuisine in an actual East Indian restaurant.  It was awesome.  A new favourite added to my list.  The coconut rice was to die for as was the naan bread.  Oh my goodness, I could have just eaten that naan bread dipped into the sauce of my main dish until I exploded.  So good!  I had the Lamb Rogan Josh and Hubby had the Kali Mirch with beef which was peppery and also delicious.  Yummy!  Love the adventure of trying new Cuisines!

4.  Reading experience with Anne.  This month I've been reading Anne of Avonlea.  I have loved the tv movies of Anne of Green Gables starring Megan Follows since it first came out in the '80's.   In fact when my girls were younger we used to have a once a year Anne of Green Gables marathon where we stayed up all night and watched then all back to back.  Such a great memory to share with them.  But I had never READ Anne of Green Gables until I read the first book a couple of years ago.  I know.  Seriously!  So last year when the Anne series of books (8 of them) was sold at costco I grabbed a set and determined I was going. to read then all.  So far I've really been enjoying following Anne along in the book.  And had I have realized it was written in 1909 I so would have read one last year and thereby fullfilled one more category off that crazy challenging Reading Challenge of 2015 by checking off a book written more than a hundred years ago. 

5.  Reading time with dayhome kids.  In thinking of the "little" blessings in my everydays I realized that the time in the day when I read to the preschoolers is one of the favourite parts of my day.  I love passing on the love of reading to little ones!

What have your favourites blessings and good things been this week?