Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Hospital Bags - What's going!

I've hit the 37 week mark! I have no idea when the baby will come. I've yet to have someone from the OB office suggest that I schedule the appointment for my cesarean. I'm going to ask at my next appointment so that hopefully we can at least have a suggested date. Both my previous births have had spontaneous membrane rupture, but that doesn't mean it'll happen again!

I've got everything ready for the baby to arrive. I'm quite bored now, and the nesting feeling is still there, but there's really very little left to do other than the typical school work with the boys, laundry, dishes, and decluttering. I've read and watched so much TV in my free time that I'm tired of that!

So anyway, I've got the hospital bags done and ready to roll. The only thing that's not done is putting my cell phone charger in my bag. But that can be done as I head out the door.

My Bag
It seems like my hospital bag for this baby is a lot fuller than previous hospital bags. lol I tend to over pack when I go somewhere, so you're seeing the results of that.

- two days' worth of clothes
- pajamas
- socks, including some with tread so I won't fall
- a pair of slip-on shoes to wear home (a $15 find at Walmart)
- toiletries (wash, lotion, deodorant, makeup, brush, hair spray, facial wipes, shampoo/conditioner, hand sanitizer, lip balm, coconut oil for dry skin)
- a hair scrunchy
- candy (of course!)
- Kindle
- my digital camera (not pictured--it was in use hehe)
- a disposable camera (my MIL's purchase in case she can't get to the hospital in time)
- Walmart bags for soiled clothes
- an extra bag for any take-home items that won't fit in my hospital bag

Baby's Bag
I've no idea how much this kiddo will weigh. Hopefully no more than 8 pounds, but my second son weighed 8lbs 3oz at 38 weeks, so if Joel is born at 39 weeks, he might be bigger. I just don't know. So I've got two outfits chosen to take him home in--one newborn size and one 0-3mos. Also included:

- nursing cover
- newborn diapers and wipes
- bibs
- changing pad, washcloth, receiving blanket
- a heavier blanket and heavy receiving banket
- two knitted/crocheted hats
- two pairs of mittens (all my kids have scratched the snot out of their faces at the hospital, so I'm sure this one will too)
- two pairs of booties and some knit booties
- three pairs of socks
- pacifiers
- brush, comb, nail kit
- hand sanitizer

Also I have a nursing pillow ready to roll as well. That was one thing I wished that I'd had at the hospital after my second son was born. Trying to nurse with pillows stacked everywhere isn't the easiest thing in the world, because they slide everywhere.

I also have a bag ready for our boys to take along to the hospital with their DS's, games, a Kindle Fire, and some activity books. We're all set--now, let's get the baby here!!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Pregnancy Files - Less Than Three Weeks to Go!

I know it's been a long time since I've updated about the pregnancy! It's been fairly uneventful and wonderful!!

Symptoms
Symptoms are pretty typical for thirty-six weeks! The worst is the pelvic floor pain. It hurts to lift my feet to put on my pants or to walk up a few steps or to climb into a vehicle. Putting on and taking off even slip-on shoes sends a zap of pain to my pelvis. Rolling over in bed is very painful. Even sitting down and getting back up is quite painful. I'm limiting my time outdoors now because of the pain. I plan on trips out of the house being no longer than two hours so that I'm not in extreme pain later on.

I get heartburn just like most pregnant women do. Thankfully, it's fairly mild compared to previous pregnancies and typically only rears at night!

I'm still able to wear all of my shoes and my wedding rings. Swelling is very very minimal and on some days completely nonexistant!

Cloth diapering
One cover missing from picture--another yellow one
I've finished the diaper covers I was going to make. I only made five covers just in case there's something about them I want to tweak or change. PUL is expensive and something I don't want to waste! All of my prefold diapers are dyed and ready to go.

We also have some homemade diapers made that aren't shown here because my mom hasn't given them to me yet. I'll share a picture of my full stash once everything is set up and ready to go. I may even make a blog post about how cloth diapering works for us and how I wash the diapers, etc.


Changes
Total Weight Gain: 6 pounds 
Stretch Marks: Still no new ones this pregnancy...yet
Sleep/Insomnia: Sleep-deprived but not quite on an insomnia level
Cravings: Chili and grilled cheese for weeks!
Symptoms: constipation still, pelvic girdle pain
Belly button: Barely an inny!
Wedding rings: Still on! Thank you, Lord!

Looking forward to: BABY!!



Coming Soon!
I hope to make my next post about what's in our hospital bag(s)!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Pregnancy Files - Less than 100 days to go!

I now have less than a hundred days to go until this baby will be born! Technically, my due date is Nov. 25, but I will likely have a cesarean the week before (unless he decides to come early like his brothers both did), so taking the c-section into consideration, I've probably got about 95-96 days to go! Third trimester is just around the corner!

Things are going fairly well, as well as pregnancy at age 36 can go. I'm still suffering from costochondritis (some days are very very mild and other days are a bit more achy), and I've got symphesis pubis dysfunction, which means that my pelvic bones are very very sore, and it hurts to sit on hard surfaces. Getting up from sitting on said hard surfaces makes it feel like my pelvis is going to break. It will get worse as the baby gets bigger, but I've been through this before so it will be no surprise. Eventually, it will get to the point where I'll be more in bed than I will be up for the last few weeks of pregnancy, because walking, housework, and something as simple as getting in and out of a car is extremely painful. Raising a foot to step into the shower or go up steps feels like the pelvis is going to snap. And heaven help me if I cross my legs!

I spent several days working on cloth diapers with my mom, but we got very little accomplished. We spent the majority of the days discovering that we were doing things wrong, so the last couple of days that we managed to work together, we got three diapers done. Yes, only three! Since then, I've been bombarded with garden produce and canning, so I've not had a single moment to sew. Fortunately, my mom has, and I can't wait to see what she comes up with.

Right now, we're working on finding space for baby gear and baby clothes. Our home is twelve hundred square feet, roughly, and with two adults and two children already living here, we're finding it hard to figure out where we're going to put a crib and baby's clothes. We have no room for an additional dresser, so we're going to have to remove clothes from our dresser to make room for baby's clothes. But that means finding a place to put the clothes we removed from the dresser. We've got every space in closets filled, underneath of the beds taken, and the building is full. And this AFTER we have recently gotten rid of stuff we didn't need! We desperately need to find a bigger place, because we're tripping over boxes of our home-canned food, bags of baby items, and garden produce just laid out on the floor on towels! It looks like a tornado hit our house.

We've been so blessed to have had some baby items brought to us. We've had quite a bit of clothes donated to us, as well as things like some bottles, bibs, shoes, etc. We still need all of the big things like a crib, swing, carseat, etc. but we still have a good bit of time to get those things purchased. We're also not in a hurry, because we have nowhere to put those things! I've been tossing around the idea of going ahead and installing the one carseat that we have simply so we can get it out of hubby's closet so that we can put our canned food in there. But if we install the carseat, then our boys will be cramped before they need to be. :) It's a Catch 22 situation.

We'd wanted to move before we had to unload baby things, but we've just not been able to find what we need within our budget. Most everything that has been within our budget has needed major repairs, and we just can't afford major repairs. So, we're still looking, because we know eventually the right place will pop up and the right situation will present itself. We've learned to be patient about these things.

Changes
Total Weight Gain: 6 pounds
Stretch Marks: No new ones this pregnancy...yet
Sleep/Insomnia: Sleep!
Cravings: Mexican
Symptoms: bloating, some constipation, sporadically swollen fingers
Belly button: Still an inny!
Wedding rings: Still on!
Exciting happening(s) this week: Delivery of homeschool curriculum, dejunking the house
Looking forward to: Doctor appointment next week, and I think I'm supposed to have an ultrasound?

25 Week Development
Your little grower’s physical proportions are pretty much birth-ready and most of their remaining development will largely be weight gain and a ton of nervous system development. Head to heels, your baby now measures about 13 1/2 inches. Weight — 1 1/2 pounds — isn't much more than an average rutabaga, but he's beginning to exchange the long, lean look for some baby fat. As he does, his wrinkled skin will begin to smooth out and he'll start to look more and more like a newborn. He's also growing more hair — and if you could see it, you'd now be able to discern its color and texture.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Pregnancy Files - Halfway There!

Today I'm 21 weeks and 4 days. It seems like it has taken forever to get this far, and it feels like I still have a very long way to go. Having said that, summer has passed so quickly! It's amazing how much time passes when you're busy, and this summer has been one of those times.

The last time that I wrote about this pregnancy, I was 14 weeks along. At that point, I'd only been feeling movement for a little over a week, and that was very sporadic and wasn't every day. Now I'm feeling movement every day, multiple times a day, but it's still very light except for the occasional pummel.

Also, since that last update, we found out that we're TEAM BLUE again! I knew it! This is the only time that I have ever been correct about the gender of one of my kids. I just had this gut feeling that this was a boy. At seventeen weeks, I had an ultrasound after I'd had a slight scare. The tech had told me she thought she saw little boy parts but to not trust her judgment, because she might be wrong. But then two weeks later, during my 20 week scan (which was done at 19w1d), it was quickly confirmed that baby is a boy!

Little Baby J, who has been dubbed "Skeletor" because of this image. :P

Since finding out that Baby J is a boy, we haven't done much shopping. We've had some things handed down to us, and that helps a lot. We have a lot still to buy yet, but we're not in a hurry. I bought one set of boy-themed items to announce his gender and shared it on Facebook, but other than that I still haven't done a whole lot of shopping yet for clothes and other items. Save for one thing....

Pre-fold diapers! This image is a bundle of thirteen Indian pre-fold diapers that I've slowly been throwing into our towels and whites washes so that the diapers can shrink down to their proper size and become absorbent. I still have another dozen that need to begin the washing process. This is my first time cloth diapering, and after my second son's constant rounds of rashes and prescription-grade diaper rash cream, I decided to make baby's life a little gentler (though my life a little more hectic by all of the washing) and do something a bit different.

I also plan on doing a bit of sewing some regular diapers. With the help (and patterns) of my dear friend Steph from Pampered Cheeks, I've got a good head-start. I just have to get all of the fabric bought, cut, and sewn. In other words, I've not started sewing yet. lol

So far I'm not having any complications in pregnancy, other than your standard, run-of-the-mill stuff. I still am dealing with costochondritis, though it is mild and I've not had to take any Tylenol for it. I'm hoping it stays that way, though with baby moving up closer and closer to my ribs, I feel like I'm not going to get a break for long. I've not been doing my relaxation exercises at all and haven't for months, and I need to get back into that. Totally my fault that it's not getting better. My lower back pain has actually been better since I hit second trimester, but I have occasional flare-ups.

Baby's stats right now:
-Weighs roughly 12 ounces
-Length about 10.5 inches long head to toe, or about 7-8 inches head to rump
-Growth is slowing down so that fat can start to accumulate under the skin and organs, while fully formed, are maturing
-Baby hears sounds and responds to them
-Eyelids and eyebrows are formed

Friday, June 7, 2013

American History - a Creation Conversations (NewLeaf Publisher) review

It isn't often that I come across an opportunity to review curriculum. At this time last year, I was given the chance to review a copy of the Kindle version of American History by Dr. James Stobaugh and the teacher's edition of the textbook.

Book Description
Respected Christian educator, Dr. James Stobaugh, offers an entire year of high school American history curriculum in an easy to teach and comprehensive volume. American History: Observations & Assessments from Early Settlement to Today employs clear objectives and challenging assignments for the tenth grade student. From before the birth of our republic to the principles of liberty, American history trends, philosophies, and events are thoroughly explored. The following components are covered for the student:

- Critical thinking
- Examinations of historical theories, terms, and concepts
- History makers who changed the course of America
- Overviews and insights into world views.

Students will complete this course knowing the Christian influences that created a beacon of hope and opportunity that still draws millions to the United States of America. This 384-page student resource should be used in conjunction with the American History: Observations & Assessments from Early Settlement to Today for the Teacher. British History and World History are included in this comprehensive high school history curriculum for 10th, 11th, and 12th grades offered by Dr. James Stobaugh and Master Books.


My thoughts
First, let me say that I love history. My husband and I both do, and I'm one who could watch the History channel all day long if I had the time. So I was anxious to get my hands on this curriculum. Though looking back now, I wish that I had this in a paper, tangible version. Using it on the Kindle (I have a plain Kindle and my son has a Kindle Fire) is not as useful as having a hands-on textbook. I find that I much prefer hands-on textbooks than e-versions. Electronic just doesn't stack up to the real thing.

This is an independent study textbook for tenth grade history. I like how the book covers the positive parts about our American history as well as the negative. This textbook would be a great idea for a homeschooling family and would be good for use in a private school setting as well. This is a history textbook with a Christian foundation.

The teacher's edition provides extra thoughts for the teacher and extra guidelines for instructing and/or helping the student. Each of the lessons have a suggested time of thirty minutes each and instruction time is approximately 34 weeks.

I highly recommend this text. It was thorough and enjoyable!

I received American History - student and teacher e-textbook as a complimentary gift in exchange for review from New Leaf Publishing Group. My opinions are my own.

Love in the Balance - a Bethany House review

Regina Jennings is a fairly new author. Love in the Balance is her second novel published, and her first novel Sixty Acres and a Bride, which I reviewed, was absolutely fantastic. So, when I had the opportunity to get my hands on this second novel, I jumped at the chance!

Love in the Balance is a historical romance, Christian fiction, set in Lockhart, TX, in 1879. Molly Lovelace has been brought up by "fancy" parents. Her father owns a mill, and they want only the finest things for their daughter--including a well-to-do bachelor to wed. Molly, although liking some of the finer things in life, wants to get out from under her father's controlling clutches. So, she moves out of town and gets a job working for a judge.

Meanwhile, she has her eye on a handsome hard-working, though poor Bailey Garner. She finds his character and his handsome good looks charming, and she finds herself drawn to him inexplicably. In turn, Bailey is captivated by HER, too.

But when a family tragedy strikes and Molly sees her opportunity to wed someone well-off, who is she going to pick? Someone who can provide for her and appease her father, or the man who she really has her eyes on?

I'm not gonna tell!!! You'll have to find out for yourself.

I really like Regina's writing. She has a knack for creating personable, hilarious characters and situations. The characters were not without flaw--Regina created them to be realistic and sometimes frustrating to the reader! Sometimes I wanted to shout out, "C'mon, people!! Common sense, here!" at some of the characters. haha Also, I felt that the storyline wasn't completely predictable. She took me by surprise with the direction she took the story.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I look forward to reading more! This is definitely an author you will want to watch!

I received Love in the Balance as a complimentary gift in exchange for review from Bethany House Publishers. My comments and opinions are my own.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Promise Box - a Launch Teammate review & a chance to win!

Tricia Goyer is celebrating the release of her lastest novel, The Promise Box (Zondervan), by hosting an Amish Baking Box giveaway and connecting with readers during her June 12th Book Chat Party!
ThePromiseBox300

One "promising" winner will receive:
  • Apron, hot mitts, and kitchen towels
  • Amish baking items (rolling pin, pie plate, etc...)
  • Sherry Gore's Simply Delicious Amish Cooking
  • The Memory Jar and The Promise Box by Tricia Goyer 
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on June 11th. Winner will be announced at the "The Promise Box" Facebook Author Chat Party on June 12th. Connect with Tricia for an evening of Amish fun - book chat, trivia, laughter, and more! Tricia will also share an exclusive look at the next book book in the Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors series and give away books and other fun prizes throughout the evening.

So grab your copy of The Promise Box and join Tricia on the evening of June 12th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 12th!

 -------------------------------------------------------

Book Description and My Thoughts

I am on Tricia Goyer's 2013 Launch Team. This means that I've been provided an opportunity to review her novels for this year in exchange for a free novel(s). I last reviewed Love Finds You in Glacier Bay, Alaska, and now I'm reviewing The Promise Box (a Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors series).

 
The Promise Box is the story of Lydia Wyse, an adopted Englisch child into an Amish home. Lydia has left her Amish community of West Kootenai to move to Seattle to edit books. While she is gone, her Amish mother passes away, leading to her return to the Amish community.

 

While visiting the community again, she finds herself falling for bachelor Gideon Hooley. The problem is that she can't forget where she came from--the dark history of her birth haunts her. Gideon himself has his own secrets that plague him.

 

I've been reading Amish novels since I was a teenager. I love them! Unfortunately, I had a hard time getting involved with this one. It didn't capture me like some of Tricia's books have in the past. I'd read a few pages, then set it down and do something else. That bothered me, and I wondered what was wrong with me! It took me several weeks to finish the book, because it just didn't draw me in.

 

The story was sweet in itself and had proper development, but I didn't feel a lot of emotion (i.e. love or interest) between the two characters. It almost felt like they were being drawn together by sheer force by the author. I enjoyed the progression of the story about Lydia. Tricia did a good job about making me wonder about what actually happened to Lydia and where she'd come from. However, I felt that Gideon's history seemed unrealistic and trivial in comparison.

 

There was some slang used in this story, but it wasn't overwhelming. This is a problem many others struggle with. Being an Appalachian, the overuse of slang in a story bugs me--it seems forced and unrealistic. The Amish also have their own slang, and sometimes that can get a bit overwhelming in an Amish novel. Thankfully, this wasn't a big issue for me. There was one spot in the story where I thought slang should have been left out. It was in Chapter Seven in the letter from Lydia's adoptive mother. The going back and forth from using "yer" to "your" felt unrealistic. I know "yer" is often used in conversation among the Amish in novels (the same as Ja or ach), but in a letter, the fact that she used "your" equally to "yer" made me feel like the character wouldn't have thrown in "yer" as well. Otherwise, the character's spelling was correct, so the misspelling of your didn't make sense.

 

Overall, this story was a nice read. If you enjoy Amish fiction, I think that you will enjoy this one, too. 

 

I don't like to write reviews that aren't full of positive response, especially when I've been asked by the author to review it. My intent is not to be harsh or judgmental but to provide my honest responses while I read.



I've been given a copy of The Promise Box, in exchange for my honest review. My opinions are my own.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Penelope

Back in December, I had the opportunity to read and review a novel by Anya Wylde called The Wicked Wager. Since then, I've read a second novel, Penelope.

Book Description
Leaving behind the rural charms of Finnshire, Miss Penelope Fairweather arrives in London with hope in her heart and a dream in her eye. The dowager, no less, has invited her for a season in London, where she will attempt to catch a husband.

Thus begins our heroine's tale as she attempts to tackle the London season with all her rustic finesse. Unfortunately, her rustic finesse turns out to be as delicate as a fat bear trying to rip apart a honeycomb infested with buzzing bees.

What follows is a series of misadventures, love affairs, moonlit balls, fancy clothes, fake moustaches, highwaymen, sneering beauties, pickpockets, and the wrath of a devilishly handsome duke.
My thoughts 
Just like the last novel, this one was very witty. The characters have a corny, nonsensical way about them that makes me laugh. However, there were some things about the story that were unbelievable. The characters, falling in love, didn't convince me. I'm not sure if the author is trying to make the reader disbelieve that the characters really are in love (I remember feeling that way about the previous story's characters, too) or if this is just a wee faux pas in character weaving. The story has a ridiculousness that sorta has me confused--does Anya Wylde WANT her reader to feel that its characters and the things they say are ridiculous? I'm not entirely sure.

The story is clean--no offensive language or lewd scenes take place. A bit more editing would be my suggestion, along with some clearer purpose from the author. All in all, it's a light read, inciting chuckles, and a quick read!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Pregnancy Files

We're expecting baby number three!! You who know me on Facebook already know about our baby who is due sometime in mid-to-late November. After our surprise pregnancy last year which ended almost as soon as I'd found out, when I found out about this baby, I was nervous. I almost steeled my heart because I was afraid to get attached. I was afraid to get excited. And I guess that still remains to a small degree. I tested with five pregnancy tests over a six-day time-frame because I wanted to see if the lines got darker. With the last loss, they didn't. Knowing that I had progression going on, that helped give me some hope that maybe things would be ok.

Almost immediately I began having nasty lower back pain. I went to the ER, fearing the worst. They did beta hcg panel and did an internal ultrasound. I was only four weeks along at the time, and I told the doctor that, but he must have misunderstood what I was saying, because he told me that because nothing was on the ultrasound (and you WON'T see anything at four weeks), and my hcg was only 439 (I think that was the number), I was likely to miscarry. But they gave me some antibiotics because they also suspected UTI. I was a basket-case. We had told no one--no friends, no family--because of the possibility that we'd suffer another loss, so hubby and I had no one to talk to but each other. I cried, and he prayed, and we were just generally miserable for three days, when I had a follow-up hcg panel, which revealed a very nice doubling hcg. The doctor also suspected an intrauterine pregnancy, so I was thrilled. A week later, we had an ultrasound which revealed baby was measuring 5 weeks, 6 days, with a heartbeat of 95. Because of the lower heartbeat (which is often very normal at that time), I was in a panic again. I checked google, and found that most women measuring around that time had babies whose heartbeats were higher, but there were some that measured just like our baby did. Still, I wasn't settled.

It wasn't until my ten week appointment that I saw the baby again on ultrasound. It was moving and kicking and waving its little hands. The heartbeat was a nice 164. I finally felt like things were going to be ok and I calmed down.

We finally announced it to everyone at that point.

A week and a half later, I was back at the OB office with that nasty back pain again. I saw the baby on ultrasound again because it was still a little too early to hear on the doppler, and the heartbeat was 174. I was diagnosed with lumbar issues and issued a prescription for a custom-made lumbar support belt. I'll be stylin' now!! :P

I've hit fourteen weeks now, and I'm feeling a lot of movement. I bought a cheapy Angelsounds doppler that I use once a week (on the weeks I don't have an appointment) just to hear the heartbeat. It's a lot of fun to hear it, and even though I can feel it kicking, it's also fun to hear the boom-boom of the kicks against the doppler and the chug-chug of the heartbeat. It's been in the mid-140s lately, so it has calmed down from the original 160-170 heartbeat that it had early on. At first I thought that maybe I'd have another high-wired child like my first son (his heartbeat was always in the upper 150s-160s), but now this one seems to be trending like my second son did. Yay for laid-back babies!!! One can hope, right? ;)

I plan on regularly updating as the pregnancy progresses. I've never documented a pregnancy before like this, so it will be a lot of fun.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

When Jesus Wept -a Litfuse Review

I have long been a fan of Bodie and Brock Thoene's books. Several years ago I read the Zion Covenant series, and I recently have been going through the A.D. Chronicles series. If you like Bible fiction, World War II fiction, and fiction centered around the Jewish people's history, you will thoroughly Bodie's and Brock's books!!

When Jesus Wept, Bodie's and Brock's newest fiction novel written from the perspective of the resurrected Lazarus of Bethany, was one of the best novels I've read by this duo. Set around the time of Jesus' appearance into the ministry, I was quickly drawn into Lazarus' life, the characters' situations, and the portrayal of the Lord Jesus. Bodie and Brock have a magnificent way of making the Lord palpable, as if I could reach through the book and touch Him. The emotion, the plot, and the writing are all beautiful. I highly recommend this novel, and I know I'll be looking forward to Book 2!

About the Book
Book 1 in the Thoene’s new  Jerusalem Chronicles.
Brock and Bodie Thoene’s most powerful and climactic writing project to date, When Jesus Wept, captures the power and the passion of the men and women who lived through the most important days in the history of the world.

Lazarus occupies a surprising position in the Gospel accounts. Widely known as the man Jesus raised from the dead, his story is actually much broader and richer than that. Living as he did at Bethany, near Jerusalem, Lazarus was uniquely placed to witness the swirl of events around Jesus. When Jesus Wept, the first novel in The Jerusalem Chronicles series by bestselling authors Bodie and Brock Thoene, unfolds the turbulent times in Judea during Jesus’ ministry, centering on the friendship between Jesus and Lazarus. With rich insights from vineyard owners and vine dressers, the Thoenes explore the metaphor of Jesus as the True Vine, harvesting the ancient secrets found in the Old Testament.

Weaving the life of Lazarus, who owned a vineyard, into the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ will help you understand it is the hand of Love Divine that holds the knife, that cuts and breaks with such tender and loving touch, and that we who have born some fruit, after the pruning, can bear much more.

Purchase a copy here.

About the Authors
Bodie and Brock Thoene (pronounced Tay-nee) are bestselling authors of over sixty-five works of historical fiction. Their timeless classics have sold more than thirty-five million copies and won eight ECPA Gold Medallion Awards. The Thoenes have four grown children and eight grandchildren. They divide their time between Hawaii, London, and Nevada.








Celebrate the release of When Jesus Wept with the Thoenes by entering their iPad Mini giveaway and RSVPing to their {4/23} Facebook Author Chat party!

When-Jesus-Wept-giveaway300

One fortunate winner will receive:
  • A brand new iPad Mini
  • A book club kit - 10 copies of When Jesus Wept
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 22nd. Winner will be announced at the "When Jesus Wept" Author Chat Party on 4/23. Connect with the Thoenes, get a sneak peek of the next book in the Jerusalem Chronicles series, try your hand at a trivia contest, and chat with readers just like yourself. There will also be fun giveaways - gift certificates, books, and more!

So grab your copy of When Jesus Wept and join Bodie and Brock on the evening of the April 23rd for a chance to connect with the authors and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book - don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun, RSVP today. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 23rd!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Swept Away - a Litfuse Review

I really enjoy Mary Connealy's novels. (I reviewed another one of her novels, Over the Edge, last summer.) I've always loved historical fiction, and this one is no exception. Swept Away is the first novel in the Trouble in Texas series.

Ruthy MacNeil is literally swept away when her wagon train's attempt at fording a river didn't go over so well. When she is separated from her abusive adoptive parents and adoptive brother (aka fiance) in the fray, Ruthy is discovered and rescued by Regulator (and Civil War soldier) Luke Stone, who is on his way to Broken Wheel to take over his father's stolen property and, as a result, to settle a nasty score.

When Luke finds that Ruthy is mostly unconscious and not able to fend for herself, he has no choice but to take her along with him. Looking forward to getting farther away from her family in case some of them managed to survive, Ruthy went willingly.

When Luke arrives at Broken Wheel and forms his posse of friends from the Civil War to help him win back his dead father's ranch, Ruthy finds herself wanting to take part, too.

This story went from interesting to intriguing to chair-gripping excitement. Love that! This is a novel that, once you began reading, doesn't stop! Constant flowing plot, constantly building. Mary is great at plotting an exciting story that leaves you not wanting to put it down. I thoroughly enjoyed all of the characters in this story. There were a lot of them, and Mary introduced them all in a logical way and in a manner that wasn't confusing. Each new addition was timely and well-described so there was no confusion about who was whom.

Mary Connealy is celebrating the release of Swept Away by giving away a $250 "Swept Away" Vacation Package and hosting a Facebook Author Chat Party! 


Swept-Away300

One fortunate winner will receive:
  • A $250 Visa Cash Card (Get away for the weekend or use it to buy an eReader for a relaxing ‘Staycation’!)
  • A copy of Swept Away (For you AND a friend!)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on March 27th. Winner will be announced at the "Swept Away" Author Chat Party on March 28th. Connect with Mary, get a sneak peek of the next book in the series, try your hand at the trivia contest, and chat with readers just like you. There will also be many fun giveaways -- gift certificates, books, and more!

So grab your copy of Swept Away and join Mary on the evening of the March 28th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun, RSVP today. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 28th!

 

I received Swept Away as a complimentary gift in exchange for review from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to give a favorable review; my opinions are my own.

Courting Cate - a Bethany House Review

It isn't too often that I want to bang my head against a wall from the stubbornness and unmoving character qualities of a heroine. But that's what I desperately wanted to do while I read Courting Cate by Leslie Gould.

Cate Miller, a self-proclaimed spinster at age twenty-three, has tried her best to be happy with her life as her father's store secretary. Her father was considered wealthy, and any time that Cate thought a man might make a move on her, she and her fiery attitude cut him down. He was only after her father's money, right? Cate believed that she wanted to stay unmarried--let her younger sister Betsy have the husband and kids!

But when her father Bob decides that Cate has to get married before Betsy can, things get ugly. Cate, in her stubbornness, attempts to refuse. Betsy, flirty and friendly (unlike Cate), is already being courted. Knowing that her father has made this declaration, Betsy is driven to grief and hatches a plot to get Cate hitched.

When drifter Pete Treger comes to town looking for a job and a wife, Cate's family gets some bright ideas. (Or not so bright.) But Pete arrives in town with his own issues to deal with, and, like Cate, is about as stubborn as they come. When he gets a job working for Bob Miller in his store, he soon proves his worth to Bob. And Bob's decision for Cate to marry first is just all the more solid in his mind.

I found a few things in this novel that irritated me, and it's all about the character development. SPOILER ALERT!!

First was the feeling that the author was trying too hard to make these two butt heads. Their behaviors were very annoying to me. Second, Cate had no homemaking skills. This didn't add up for someone who had decided to be a spinster--she'd still need to take care of herself, right? Third, Cate raised her sister Betsy after their mother died, and Betsy ended up being a bit spoiled and conniving. Although I will say at the beginning of the story, Betsy didn't seem that way. The fact that Cate made a decision that would benefit Betsy so much seemed a bit too unreal to me. Fourth, Pete started out as this nice, friendly guy who doted on Cate, and then in the middle of the book he became this hard, uncaring person who paid her no attention. Shoot, he even made her hitch-hike to another state in the pouring rain!! For a guy who seemed to really really like her at first, this just felt unbalanced. Fifth, at the end of the story, Cate comes to an epiphany about Pete's family that was too rushed. When I read it, I turned back a page to see if I'd missed something--it was that shocking to me. Sixth, it was devoid of feeling between the two main characters until the very end, and even then it wasn't a "Wow, they are SO in LOVE!" moment for me.

I liked this story, though, because I think that Leslie genuinely had a nice story line. The plot was very much more developed than the characters were. Her description was very good, and the writing was very nice. There were bits of unpredictability thrown in that was refreshing. The story is written in First Person POV, and it read smoothly.

All in all, I liked this book and look forward to the next book in the series.

I received Courting Cate as a complimentary gift in exchange for review from Bethany House Publishers. My comments and opinions are my own.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Wishing on Willows - GIVEAWAY!

Congratulations to Kristin Y. for winning Wishing on Willows! An email has been sent to you letting you know of your win!

For those of you who like winning books, come back this weekend for another giveaway. I'm giving away two of Robin Lee Hatcher's books!! 

I'm thrilled to be giving away a free copy of Wishing on Willows by Katie Ganshert!

The release date is on March 19, but I have been given by the author and publisher an advanced reader's copy to give away to my readers! (An advanced reader's copy is not the final copy, so they usually contain a few errors. It cannot be sold.)

If you would like to win an Advanced Reader's Copy, please fill out the form below. You can enter once a day. Good luck!!

This giveaway is only open to residents in the U.S.  Winners will be randomly chosen by random.org and will have 48 hours to respond from the time I send the alerting email. Failure to respond within 48 hours will result in a new winner being selected.

About the book
Does a second chance at life and love always involve surrender?

A three-year old son, a struggling café, and fading memories are all Robin Price has left of her late husband. As the proud owner of Willow Tree Café in small town Peaks, Iowa,  she pours her heart into every muffin she bakes and espresso she pulls, thankful for the sense of purpose and community the work provides.
                                     
So when developer Ian McKay shows up in Peaks with plans to build condos where her café and a vital town ministry are located, she isn’t about to let go without a fight.

As stubborn as he is handsome, Ian won’t give up easily. His family’s business depends on his success in Peaks. But as Ian pushes to seal the deal, he wonders if he has met his match. Robin’s gracious spirit threatens to undo his resolve, especially when he discovers the beautiful widow harbors a grief that resonates with his own.

With polarized opinions forming all over town, business becomes unavoidably personal and Robin and Ian must decide whether to cling to the familiar or surrender their plans to the God of Second Chances.

Release date: March 19th, 2013

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, March 4, 2013

Living Debt Free on Under $50K a Year

Whoa. That title sounds ominous, doesn't it? Absolutely. Sounds impossible, doesn't it? Absolutely. But we're doing it and have for a while now. What's the secret? Well, let me first explain what we've done, and I'll tell you how YOU can do it, too. With a little sacrifice, a little sweat, and a little grunting. If you're interested in saving money, there are ways to do it. It may be difficult, but with a little time and research, you can do it.

We homeschool.
I have a degree in education, and when I decided to stay home the first year of my second child's life, I ended up deciding to stay home permanently and chose to homeschool. That said, we don't have private school money leaving our pockets, but we DO pay for textbooks and other supplies needed to accomplish our school year. For example, we bought a nice microscope with LCD screen and camera. It cost nearly $200, but it was a necessary purchase, because there were no options for  us to borrow a microscope from our library or local university. On average, it costs us about $600 a year to homeschool. That's including textbooks, supplies for the year, etc. We have a university nearby where we occasionally check out manipulatives or other items from the education section. We also utilize our local library, use some online freebies (including free typing programs). Below, you'll see a list of my favorite online websites that we use regularly during our homeschool year.

We drive old vehicles.
My husband's truck is fourteen years old. My SUV is thirteen years old. We bought them used several years ago, paid them off after a few years, and now we have no vehicle payments. Sure, we have random repairs that have to be made, and some costly (my vehicle currently needs a wheel bearing replaced--I think we've had the other three already replaced). But it still is cheaper for us than having a monthly $250-$300 payment. I don't need a pretty vehicle with all the bells and whistles--if it gets us around and can get me through snow and ice, I'm good.

We buy cheap.
We always buy things frugally. We buy school supplies, toiletries, etc. in bulk and store things in cabinets, closets, under our beds, in the building, etc. We look for sales, use coupons when we can, go to yard sales and visit stores like Goodwill. We can't always find something on sale, but we try. Expensive stores are not on my radar unless they have massive discounts.

Discount Books
I make great use of swapping sites like PaperbackSwap. I'm able to trade books with individuals who have something I need. And since new textbooks are fairly expensive, I get a lot of the boys' textbooks used on Amazon.

There are a lot of books I'd like to have right now, but I wait to see if I can get a great discount before I buy. Gone are the days of pre-orders!

I also check out the freebies section at Amazon, I get emails from my favorite authors so I don't miss out on great deals, and I check Facebook for great deals on books as well. A lot of times, my favorite authors will let their fans know about great deals and freebies. And naturally, I check out books at the library fairly frequently.

I also am able to get a lot of books for free by reviewing them. You can read my reviews to find out how to get involved in that, too.

College debt.
We have no college debt. We both went to a work-study college and never took out loans. That's incredible, I know. If you can attend a work-study college, I highly recommend it. If you can't, many universities have work-study options to help you better afford tuition costs. If you have to take out college loans, and I know most people do, make sure your loans don't go into default--if you must, have them deferred. Pay them regularly, and make sacrifices in order to make that happen. If you go into default, you may have to kiss your immediate financial future goodbye, because you will have a hard time building up your credit, may have a hard time getting an apartment, etc. And then of course, there's the collections agencies that will drive you nuts, and the possibility of having your tax returns kept by the government, because they WILL get their money from you somehow.

Buy with cash.
The joy of buying with cash means no monthly payments. And we have found that many times if we buy with cash (especially at a gas station here in town that we frequent), we get a discount. Look for these stores, and don't be afraid to ask if they will knock off a little of your bill if you pay them the full amount right now. You can also ask your doctor's or hospital's billing if they can knock a little off your bill if you pay in full. We have saved some money on medical bills this way.

We also buy our groceries with cash. We pull out what we need from the bank. Any leftover grocery money is saved for family activities or for something we really want. Sticking with using cash only at the grocery store means that you don't buy what you don't need. It's harder to go over your budget this way.

Credit Cards - emergency or online use only!
The use of major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, etc.) shows credit agencies that you can juggle your finances. I've heard some folks recommend that an individual have three credit cards--one in a safety deposit box for safety reasons, one in your home (in a firebox, preferably), and one or two in your wallet. The idea is to use at least one credit card on a fairly regular basis to keep your credit score up. When I need to make a significant purchase, which happens a couple of times a year (usually online purchases for curriculum and Christmas gifts), I make sure I can pay it off right away because I don't like to carry a balance and pay unnecessary interest (if I can help it). Retail store credit cards are a waste for me, so we only have one major credit card. (More about retail store credit cards in the next paragraph.) We use the credit card for emergency purchases or for online use.

The problem with retail credit cards is that while they may save you 10-15% on your purchase, the interest rates are usually insane. So if you absolutely have to have one, make sure it's a store you frequent a lot and only use it when you know you're going to pay off the balance right away or at least be able to pay off a large portion of it. Also, be wary of applying for multiple retail cards: for every retail store credit card you apply for, your credit score goes down a little because you're making a credit inquiry every time you apply.

Basic electronics
Cell phones
My husband and I have "dumbphones". There's nothing smart about them. Ha! We pay about $80 a month for our cell phone service, and our 13 year old has a ten dollar Tracfone for which I tri-monthly purchase about 200 minutes (and with the double minute benefit, we get +240 minutes for a total of 440 minutes) for $40. So, roughly his phone costs us $10 a month for a total of $90 a month for all three cell phones.

Internet/Cable
We have cable internet and cable. It's expensive, or at least it is to me. We pay $130 a month for cable and internet, which is insane, and this is another area where we are going to tackle. Our plan is to eliminate cable, get local channels only through a flat antenna, and subscribe to Hulu and/or Netflix. We will still have to pay for internet of course, but we should be able to cut that $130 bill in half.

Basic technology
I don't purchase expensive computers. I don't see the need--they become obsolete right after you buy them. lol When I need a new desktop, I save my money, and buy a new machine only (no monitor). My current PC was  purchased in February 2007 and has needed to be replaced for a year now, but I'm working right now on a $360 laptop (which, unlike the model linked, has only 1GB RAM).

I have no ipads, ipods, or other fancy gadgets. I do have a black and white Kindle that I bought two years ago that gets a lot of use. My boys bought Kindle Fires after Christmas of 2011 after having saved their birthday and Christmas money.

Have cash saved.
As you read above, I'm a big supporter of paying with cash. I'm also a big supporter of saving. It's hard to do that if you have several big repairs (replacing carpet, appliances, furniture, car repairs, etc.) at once, but you can do it. Putting back $20 a month adds up. We also put almost all of our spare change into savings. We make sure we have some money in savings for emergencies. Tornadoes and floods don't happen around here too often, but if one did occur, we'd have some money to put ourselves in a hotel and buy the clothes and toiletries we'd need.

We try to keep a good bit of money in savings so that we can pay with cash. We were able to pay for our son's braces by writing a one-lump sum check. It quickly depleted our savings for which we were hoping to use to buy new living room furniture, so now we're trying to build that back up. But that's what we do. We may have furniture that is greatly in need of replacing, but we don't live in debt. We live within our means and practice patience. Sure, having to wait results in grumbling on my part (lol!), but knowing that we aren't carrying debt helps me sleep better at night.

Eat at home.
Cook at home
This is a big issue for some people. The more you eat out, the more you tend to get used to doing that.  I'm a Wendy's nut. I like Wendy's chicken nuggets, but they're not exactly good for me. When I cook, I know what I'm buying, and I know exactly what's going into my food. My cooking is always cheaper than buying something at a restaurant or from a grocery store's ready-made food section. If you don't know how to cook, utilize youtube. There's a wealth of cooking lessons, tips for cooking, etc. And of course, the internet is a never-ending source for recipes. Granted, not all of them are great (I've found out the hard way a time or two--lol), but it's a good place to start if you're looking for something.

If you are very busy and on the go, consider freezer cooking. That's a once (or twice) a month cooking spree where you cook several meals and pop them into the freezer. You can make on-the-go breakfast biscuits, single-serve soups, or even whole meals. Google "freezer cooking", and you'll find a lot of great recipes and instructions for how to do this. You'll love yourself for it!!

Grow your own food
If you can have a little garden (or have room for a big garden), I highly recommend it. We're living in a country where pesticides are used on a regular basis, and obviously there's the concern over GMOs (genetically modified organisms) in our food.

Gardening is time-consuming but such a blessing. When all is said and done, and you're eating great tasting food that you've had the joy of watching grow, you'll be so glad that you took the time to do it. And if you can can your food, that's even better. Learning to can is not difficult, but it does require some time to make sure you can properly. We've never bought a pressure canner (last year we borrowed one), but this year we're thinking of investing in one. Having your own home-canned foods is cheaper and healthier for you.

Live in a reasonable home.
When we first moved here, we had to move fast. We had two months to get here, and with our very very small budget, we knew it would take us forever to find a home within our budget (less than $70k at that time--can't find too many homes around here in that range!!) that would allow us all to fit inside. We struck out quickly and realized that paying $600 a month on a very small two-bedroom house wasn't going to work either. Our best option was to quickly purchase a single-wide 16x80 trailer (much more spacious than the homes we'd viewed) and plop it down in a nice trailer park. That was exactly what we did. Our home cost us $33k at the time, we paid $100 a month for our lot it was set on. The result now is that we have no mortgage, only lot rent. Sure, living in a trailer isn't glamorous. We've heard comments about "trailer trash" on occasion, but we're not worried about someone else's opinion on our living arrangements.

If you're having a hard time with your finances, consider down-grading. I don't mean move into a trailer--just down-grade if you can. Obviously, if you've got several children and your bedrooms are filled, that may not be an option. But if you can do it, consider it. It may save you thousands of dollars a year.

Charities
My husband makes under fifty thousand a year, and we're still able to afford to support our local homeless shelter bi-monthly and two other missions monthly. This is part of our budget that we plan for. If you have a charity in mind, don't discount it. Plan for it. Sit down with your bills, figure out how much you need to spend on groceries, and find out what's left over. Take a percentage of what's left (hopefully, you're not in the red), and if it's enough to monthly give that amount, then go for it! Most charities prefer monthly giving than one yearly amount because they need a monthly amount that they can count on. It's much easier for charities (especially for those struggling to make ends meet) to plan monthly costs with a monthly donation than it is to take a year's donation and divide it into monthly costs.

A Difficult Task at Times
Living on one income is certainly not easy, but it is definitely something that can be done. It means living on a budget, planning, and being patient. If you're used to "living high off the hog", choosing to drop one income to stay at home can be a sucker punch to the gut. However, you reap the benefits when you see that your kids are happy and thriving. You reap the benefits when you're not coming home at 6pm to hurry and cook, clean up, and help the kids with homework without passing out from exhaustion. Having time to do what needs to be done has been a great source of stress-relief for me. It's a sacrifice financially, but it's been one of the greatest decisions I've ever made. And my husband loves coming home to dinner, an eager greeting from his wife, and hearing his youngest son's feet pounding the floor as he runs to greet him.

The cost of staying at home is a salary. But if that salary is costing you MORE (grief, frustration, unhappy family, or very little family time) than staying at home, consider an alternative if you can. Not every family can afford for one member to be at home, but if it's possible, consider giving it a try. It's not necessarily an impossible feat!


Resources
- Getting out of Debt - Dave Ramsey's tools and books also check out your local library for his books
- Clark Howard - Advice on Saving, Bargains, and Economics!
- Homeschool links:
  • Paperbackswap - an excellent way to get rid of your gently used books in return for new gently used books!
  • Typing Tutor - a great freebie for those new to typing!
  • KISS Grammar - awesome grammar lessons and activities
  • Intellicast - for kids (and adults!) who love weather and want to see global weather maps live!
  • Multiplication.com - addition, subtraction, and multiplication games
- About Credit Inquiries
- About Retail store cards
- Savingslist - a Great list of things you can save on!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Wishing on Willows Review

I recently read a novel written by Katie Ganshert called Wildflowers from Winter. It was one of those books that you really enjoy reading and when you're done, you wish you could wiggle your nose and make more of the story appear.

When I saw an opportunity to become a member of the launch team for Katie's newest book Wishing on Willows, I was elated! Knowing what a winner Wildflowers from Winter was, I was anxious for the newest novel in the series to arrive. The copy that I received is an Advanced Reader Copy (signed! yeep!), because the book hasn't been released yet. Wishing on Willows will be released on March 19. You can pre-order your copy now, and if you do, a bonus devotional pack will be included with all pre-orders. All you need is your order number.

Wishing on Willows is the story of a young widow named Robin Price whose life has revolved around her young son Caleb who was born several months after the death of her husband and her cafe in town. When Robin's beloved cafe is at risk for loss because of a condominium development project hatched by the townsfolk, she fights tooth and nail to keep her and Micah's dream alive. It's one of two things she has left of her beloved Micah.

When developer Ian McKay arrives in Peaks to do his job by buying up three local businesses and lay the plans for a condominium, he finds resistance by one of the business owners--Robin. Knowing that she's stubborn, he--stubborn himself--goes on a mission to find out why. Talking to her employees, her family members, and to her, he discovers that Robin's stance isn't just about being stubborn. She shakes his world quite a bit, and as a result, he worries about his family's business. The future of the family business revolves around how the Peaks project shakes out. So not only is Ian's project important for his own future, but the business' future is dependent on the project's completion.

With both of them having their own personal reasons for wanting their plans to work, they both face the possibility of stalemate.

Wishing on Willows was a fantastic read. Katie did a great job of weaving several emotions into the story effectively, without overkill (which I greatly appreciate!). Point of view was magnificent. The characters were realistic and well-developed. Another winner by Katie, and I look forward to reading more!!

If you want to know more about Katie, please visit her website. You can find free chapters of Wishing on Willows, go on a virtual trip to Robin's Willow Tree Cafe, read about the inspiration for the novel and learn about fun facts, or get to know Katie the author.

Katie Ganshert was born and raised in the Midwest, where she writes stories about finding faith and falling in love. When she’s not busy plotting her next novel, she enjoys watching movies with her husband, playing make-believe with her wild-child of a son, and chatting with her girlfriends over bagels. She and her husband are in the process of adopting from the Congo. You can find her online at her blog and on Facebook.


I was thrilled to receive a free copy of this novel in exchange for my honest opinion!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Belonging & Betrayal - Zondervan reviews

Two books are being reviewed in this post.


Belonging, by Robin Lee Hatcher, is a Christian Historical romance novel set in 1897.Set in a desert town called Frenchman's Bluff, Idaho, Felicia Kristoffersen has found herself set for an adventure as a school teacher for the first time. Having had her training for years but never actually been hired to teach, Felicia was a bit nervous. And so was the local merchant and widowed Colin Murphy, whose daughter Charity has reading problems.

Felicia just happens to be boarding in a little home on Colin's land and soon discovers Colin's hesitancy toward having her as the schoolmarm. In fact, he even voted against having her come!

Felicia's background plays a big part in her story. Her father had abandoned her and her siblings, and left her with a beloved mother who was dying. When Felicia and her siblings became orphans and went their separate ways to different families in different parts of the country, this leaves Felicia with trepidation and inadequacy.

I thoroughly enjoy Robin's books. She's one of my favorite authors because she's able to balance a well-plotted story with well-fleshed characters and leave you wishing there was more to the story!!

Belonging is the beginning of a series. The second book is called Betrayal, and the third is Beloved.



Betrayal, the second book in the Where the Heart Lives series by Robin Lee Hatcher, is set in 1899, on a ranch in western Wyoming.

Drifter Hugh Brennan has had his share of sorrow, betrayal, and disappointment. Making his way west to find his sister Felicia, Hugh finds himself without food and money. Finding himself on a little ranch belonging to widow Julia Grace, he soon becomes her employee.

Julia Grace has recently been widowed. Her abusive husband dead, she finds herself inundated with repairs she can't take care of, taxes she can barely pay, and an annoying brother-in-law who will stop at nothing to take her land from her.

With Hugh's help, Julia soon discovers that not all men are like her dead  husband. Hugh is resourceful, patient, and kind, and she finds herself drawn to his gentle ways. But when the going gets tough, will Hugh stick around?

This second book in the series was absolutely fantastic! Robin did an excellent job fleshing out these characters, and I genuinely look forward to the third book in this series.

Thanks to Zondervan for sending me two extra copies of these books. I'll be giving these away next month, so be sure to come back for the giveaway.

I received Belonging and Betrayal as a complimentary gift in exchange for review from Zondervan.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Tainted Coin - a Kregel review

Medieval fiction has never taken my interest in the past. However, in the last couple of years, I've had the opportunity to read and review two of Mel Starr's novels in the Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon series. Since then, I've read the series up to current release, and I hope to read more! What I like most about this series of books is the magnificent detail that goes into the novels. When I can feel the weather, smell what the character smells, and sense the tension that Hugh experiences, that's the mark of a great book!

The Tainted Coin is the fifth novel in the series. (You can read my reviews of the third and fourth novels.) Hugh de Singleton is the main character. Hugh is a surgeon and a bailiff. Much of his daytime activities revolve around these responsibilities. However, now he also is a father. His beloved Kate and he now have an infant daughter.

The story begins as Hugh makes the discovery of a badly beaten man at a nearby church, where he also discovers that the priest there is a former enemy of his! The enemy, thankfully, is a changed man and helps Hugh in trying to help the beaten man. The injuries sustained are too much for the man, however, and his last words are, "They didn't get me coin."

Hugh goes on a quest to find out what happened to the man, who happened to be a chapman selling goods. When the search gets personal, though, Hugh realizes that he must protect his family.

If you would like to read the first chapter of this novel, Mel has a copy that you can read here.


About Mel
Mel Starr was born and grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He graduated from Spring Arbor High School in 1960, and Greenville College (Illinois) in 1964. He received an MA in history from Western Michigan University in 1970. He taught history in Michigan public schools for thirty-nine years, thirty-five of those in Portage, MI, where he retired in 2003 as chairman of the social studies department of Portage Northern High School. Mel married Susan Brock in 1965, and they have two daughters; Amy (Kevin) Kwilinski, of Naperville, IL, and Jennifer (Jeremy) Reivitt, of Portage, MI. Mel and Susan have seven grandchildren.



I received Unhallowed Ground as a complimentary gift in exchange for review from Kregel Blog Tours. My comments and opinions are my own.