What is your favorite genre to read?

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

15 Books I'm Thankful For

At this time of year it's important to think about the things we're thankful for, right?
The typical list usually includes family, friends, health, a home, etc. Well, today I'm stepping
out of that box! There are many books that have influenced my life in different ways, and today
I'm giving you 15 of the non-religious books that I'm thankful for. (I could do another whole post
on religious books...that's a post for another day.) 
(All the credit for the book photos in this post goes to goodreads.com)


When I was probably too young to be reading chapter books, I begged and begged my mom to let me read them. She gave in, thankfully, and that is where my love of reading began. The Beezus and Ramona books were some of those very first chapter books I read. I loved them, and read them over and over again. I'm thankful for this book because it's books like these that capture the young mind and get children, like me, hooked on reading. 


The Little House On the Prairie books were also books that I read again and again as a young child. Thankfully, I live in this day and age with grocery stores, furnaces, cars, and hospitals. I would not have lasted long as a pioneer or as a settler out in the middle of the prairie. Reading these books allowed me to live that life vicariously through the stories. I'm thankful for this book because it was one of the first series that I read that allowed me to travel to a new place and experience a different life through reading. 


How I loved The Secret Garden! Yep, you can guess...I read it so many times while I was growing up. I loved it because as the garden came to life, so did the characters. And what little girl wouldn't love a secret garden all to herself? Ok, maybe lots of girls wouldn't, but I would have loved it. However, it would have to be secret, and my own idea, because I didn't like it when I had to go weed the gardens as my chore growing up. I'm thankful for this book because it allowed me to experience living in a different part of the world, and to learn about friendship.


I cannot even count how many times I read the Anne of Green Gables series in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. I loved Anne so much! I would laugh with her, cry with her, and learn lessons right along side her. Reading this book allowed me to escape into a different place and time. Poetry came to life when Anne read it. I'm thankful for this book and series because it taught me a lot about people and how everyone just wants to be loved and nurtured. 


My dad read this book to me when I was younger. It was one of the only books that he read to us, and I loved every second of it. I thought Buttercup was the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen, and I loved each of the characters. I'm totally going to date myself here, but when we finished reading the book we went and saw the movie in the theater. It was amazing! To this day, I love this book and the movie. This was one of the first experiences I had with reading the book and then watching the movie. Thankfully, to me, the movie was just as good as the book. I'm thankful for this book because of the many memories I have of the time we spent reading it as a family.


I am the oldest of six children, and that includes one sister and four brothers. My sister and I always felt out numbered, even though we were the oldest. We would dream of having more sisters (We do have more sisters now because all of my brothers are married-it's so fun!!). Reading Little Women allowed me to experience life with more sisters. I'm thankful for this book because of the experiences these women had, and all that I learned from them. 


Where do I even start with this one? Reading Pride and Prejudice opened the door for me into Jane Austen's world. And oh, how I love that world! I believe I've read all of her books now, although I may have missed one, and they are my favorites! I love the romance and the characters. I'm thankful for this book because it opened up a whole new world to me.


I've read most of Agatha Christie's books, but I chose And Then There Were None because it was one of the most memorable to me. I loved the mystery of her books, and I enjoyed trying to figure it all out before I got to the end. I wasn't very good at it, but I sure enjoyed it! I'm thankful for this book (and her other books too), though, because it was something that I shared with my sweet grandma. My grandma and I would read these books and discuss what we thought about them. She's gone now, but I'm so thankful for the memories we shared with these books.


Oh, how I love this book! I've read the UNABRIDGED version of Les Miserables at least three times, and I love it more and more each time I read it. You should see my copy. It's definitely well loved! Victor Hugo was a master of character development, of description, and of emotion. The characters are beloved friends in this book. I love how Jean Valjean grows and develops throughout the book, and how Cosette begins to come out of her shell under Valjean's love and care. I love all of it, including all the history. I love the language in this book; it is so well crafted. I'm thankful for this book because of the lessons it teaches me, the beloved friends that I have made, and the emotion I feel as I read it.  


The Count of Monte Cristo is another book that I am thankful for. Yes, I have read the UNABRIDGED version probably three times as well, and have loved it more each time I've read it. Getting lost in the story is my favorite part! I can't imagine being imprisoned for so long for something you didn't do. The hatred, bitterness, and anger you would feel would be hard to break free from. I'm thankful for this book because you get to see Edmond grow, learn, and change, and you are able to experience life in a different place and time.


The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is an amazing book that opened my eyes to many things! I learned a lot from this book, and it was nonfiction! That is why I'm thankful for this book today; I'm thankful for this book because it showed me that nonfiction doesn't need to be poorly written, long, and boring. This nonfiction story was written so well that it read like fiction. Loved it!


1776 by David McCullough is another nonfiction book that is so well written it reads like fiction. The Revolutionary War is one of my favorite subjects to learn about, and I loved getting caught up in this story! I enjoyed learning about George Washington and his leadership; you learn that he wasn't perfect, but he worked hard, and did his best. I also enjoyed learning about some of the other key players in the war. I am thankful for this book because I'm thankful to be able to learn about the history of my country.


The books I've been thankful for so far have revolved solely around me. And most of them have been classics. Here, my focus changes a bit. I'm thankful for Fablehaven because it is fun series that 2nd-3rd graders are able to read, and it gets them excited about reading. Times have changed, and although my children are great readers, they have not enjoyed the classics. I'm going to write about this at a later time, but for now I'm thankful for Fablehaven because it has introduced my children to the fun of reading, and has gotten them excited about reading. 


The Harry Potter series is the same way. I read these as an adult and enjoyed them, and was excited to pass them onto my children. I'm thankful for these books because they open the doorway into reading for many children. My oldest three have read all of them, and my youngest is reading book #5 as we speak. It's so fun to watch your children get involved in the story! 


I had to choose at least one picture book! I have always loved picture books! I'm sure my mom got tired of reading them to me; I haven't read them to my kids in awhile now, but I loved it! The Best Nest is especially good because it combines humor with a cute story. The illustrations are super cute, and I love how hard the daddy bird works to find the perfect home for his family. I'm thankful for this book because picture books are the foundation for good readers! They're the perfect starting point because parents and children get to spend time together, and reading together brings such wonderful memories. 

Which books are you thankful for?

I hope you all have a very
Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Monday, November 20, 2017

[Book Review] Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage

Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage
Photo Credit: Amazon.com

Jesus the Christ
James E. Talmage

Blurb (Credit: Amazon.com):

Considered one of the all-time great classics of LDS literature, Jesus the Christ is a comprehensive look into the life and ministry of the Savior. Written at the request of the First Presidency by the Apostle James E. Talmage, and penned from an office inside the Salt Lake Temple, this volume is more than a simple outline of the Savior's life. It presents a far-reaching view of the Savior-including His life in the flesh, His antemortal existence, and His activities across time as the world's Redeemer. Allow this unparalleled work to enhance your knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ as it magnifies your understanding of the scriptures.

My Review:

Every once in awhile a book comes along that changes your life. As you read it, the words influence you so much that you will never think the same way about the subject again; you will never be the same. A few books I've read in my lifetime have made me feel this way. Believing Christ by Stephen Robinson was one, Les Miserables by Victor Hugo was another. And today I add Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage. It's hefty, for sure! The edition I read has 793 pages, and it is not an easy read. It took me months to read. James E. Talmage was a very intelligent man, and his vocabulary is off the charts. I had to look up the definitions of many words. It's strange, because at first it took me forever, but by the end I was in the groove, and his style and language became easier to understand. This is the most comprehensive book on the life and mission of Jesus Christ that I have ever seen. It's incredible. It begins with why we need a Savior. Then it takes you through many of the prophets of the Old Testament that prophesied about the coming of a Savior. A Messiah. It delves into the lives of Mary and Joseph and the birth of Christ in Bethlehem. Talmage takes you step by step through the New Testament and the life of Jesus Christ here on earth. He is very comprehensive in his writing. He discusses Christ's teachings and miracles. I loved learning about life in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas; who the different groups of people are and how they came to be. The events take on different meanings when you know more about the context in which they happened. Sometimes when I'm reading the parables of Christ I understand their meanings and sometimes I don't. This book explains them all, and it helped me so much. He goes into detail about the symbolism in the writings of the New Testament, which, once again, is very helpful in finding new meaning in the words on the page. One thing in particular that helped me was learning about the difference between the Pharisees and the Sadducees and scribes, the Samaritans and the Jews. It was also extremely helpful to learn about the structure of the Roman government in Jerusalem, and who was in power over what. The detail Talmage puts into his description of Jesus Christ's Atoning sacrifice helps you to understand the importance of this moment. 

 Christ's agony in the garden is unfathomable by the finite mind, both as to intensity and cause. The thought that He suffered through fear of death is untenable. Death to Him was preliminary to resurrection and triumphal return to the Father from whom He had come, and to a state of glory even beyond what He had before possessed; and, moreover, it was within His power to lay down His life voluntarily. He struggled and groaned under a burden such as no other being who has lived on earth might even conceive as possible. It was not physical pain, nor mental anguish alone, that caused Him to suffer such torture as to produce an extrusion of blood from every pore; but a spiritual agony of soul such as only God was capable of experiencing. No other man, however great his powers of physical or mental endurance, could have suffered so; for his human organism would have succumbed, and syncope would have produced unconsciousness and welcome oblivion. In that hour of anguish Christ met and overcame all the horrors that Satan, 'the prince of this world' could inflict.

Next, Talmage takes you through Jesus' arrest and trials before Herod and Pilate. Then he thoroughly discusses Christ's death, burial, and resurrection. At the end, he goes into some detail into the lives of the eleven apostles and what occurred after they were all gone, and he even goes a little into the dark ages. 

This is an amazing book! It takes a long time to get through it, but it's worth it. It was written by a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes known as Mormon or LDS), but anyone wanting a better understanding of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ will benefit from reading this book. I promise it is worth the effort. Your understanding and love for the Savior will grow tenfold. Reading this book changed my perceptions and increased my love and appreciation for my Savior, Jesus the Christ. 

Rating: PG (Clean)

Recommendation: 16 years-old and up. (A younger person could read it, as it is taken from the Bible, but Talmage's language is difficult to understand because of his awesome vocabulary, so I think 16 and up are more likely to understand it.)

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Printable Bookmarks

I don't know about you, but I'm always tearing off pieces of receipts or
using gum wrappers as bookmarks. No more, my friends! I have for you, hot
off the press, my new theReadathon bookmarks!

Simply click on the image above, print (cardstock works best), cut, punch a hole in the
top, and then thread yarn through the hole. Easy peasy! 

the Readathon free printable bookmarks

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

[Book Review] Hum If You Don't Know The Words by Bianca Marais

Hum If You Don't Know The Words by Bianca Marais
Photo Credit: Goodreads.com

Hum If You Don't Know The Words
Bianca Marais


"Life under apartheid has created a secure future for Robin Conrad, a nine-year-old white girl growing up in a mining town in the 1970s Johannesburg. In a rural village, worlds apart, Beauty Mbali struggles to raise her children alone in the blacks-only Bantustan of the Transkei. Their lives are divided by the colors of their skin, and their paths should never have crossed...until the historic Soweto uprising, where government forces violently crush a protest by black students, igniting reprisals on both sides. Their worlds shatter in the aftermath when Robin's parents are found dead and Beauty's daughter goes missing. After Robin is sent to live with her irresponsible aunt, Beauty is hired to care for Robin, and, for the first time in her sheltered existence, Robin learns about life beyond the white, upper-class privilege she has always known, discovering in Beauty the love and support she desperately craves. While Beauty's frantic search for her beloved activist daughter puts her in contact with whites and blacks secretly combatting apartheid, her growing responsibility and affection for Robin, whose loss mirrors her own, forces painful choices on them both. When it becomes clear that Beauty could be lost to Robin forever if Beauty's daughter is found, Robin makes a risky decision with devastating consequences. Her quest to make amends and find redemption is a journey of self-discovery that brings to light the harsh truths and injustices of a society she thought she knew."

My Review:

Growing up as a white girl in the United States hasn't always been easy, and my parents, and now my husband and I, have worked very hard to get where we are. After reading this book, however, I realize that I've definitely lived a sheltered and fairly easy life. My eyes were opened while reading this book. I've learned about apartheid in school, but I had no idea that things like the Soweto uprising occurred. I loved this book. I couldn't put it down. The writing draws you in and captivates you. Ms. Marais' descriptions and writing style are very well done. To be drawn into this time and place, and to be a part of such a difficult and harsh period in South Africa's history, is surreal. The emotion seeps from the pages. Beauty is a difficult character to understand; she leaves her sons alone in order to go find her daughter. She thinks this journey will be a quick one. When it's not, she doesn't give up. Her sons are being taken care of by the community at home while she continues to search for her daughter. I love her determination and love for her child. Robin is just a child, but she and Beauty are bound together by the grief they share following the uprising. I had to keep reminding myself that Robin was just a child; she made some choices that, as an adult, made me scream at her through the pages. How could she be so selfish? Thankfully, she realizes her mistake and tries her best to fix it. The growth of both of these characters throughout the book is amazing to watch. It's unthinkable the atrocities that occur around the world today, and those that have occurred in the past, and it's when we step out of our own worlds, our own boxes, and truly see around us that we can begin to make things right. I loved that this book took me out of my comfort zone. I loved the lessons learned. This book is very well written. The characters come to life on the page, and you feel like you are there, living the story along with them. There are so many lessons to be learned in this book. We are all the same. We may look different, come from different places, speak different languages, have different experiences, but we are all the same. We just want to live, provide for our families, be loved, and be safe. Selfishness may seem ok when we rationalize it, but it can cause so much pain and heartbreak. Doing what we know is right, even when it is difficult. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I highly recommend it. 

Rating: PG-13+ (There is a little bit of profanity, but not much. There is no "intimacy," but there is violence. The Soweto uprising was difficult to read because of how many children were killed or injured. There was a character beaten almost to death, and there was also some domestic violence.)

Recommendation: 16 years-old and up. This book is not appropriate for younger readers. 

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

I have a free copy of this book to give away!
(All you need to do is "like" my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TheReadathon/ 
then comment on this post (below) with your name and email address 
so I can contact you if you win.)

Monday, November 13, 2017

[Book Review] Mustaches for Maddie by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown

Mustaches for Maddie by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown

Mustaches for Maddie
Chad Morris and Shelly Brown


"Twelve-year-old Maddie has a quirky sense of humor and a fondness for spotting fake mustaches--a neon pink handlebar, a green fuzzy chevron, a blue pencil mustache--her fake mustaches always seem to get a laugh. Being funny gets her noticed by class queen Cassie and things are looking up when Maddie is cast as the lead in the school play. When strange things start to happen to her body, like tripping when she walks and having her hand curl up by her side, she blames it on growing pains, but her mom isn't so sure. The doctor confirms Maddie has a brain tumor and in an instant her world is turned upside down. With scary medical tests and surgery ahead of her, as well as typical sixth-grade problems--including the class queen who quickly turns into a bully--Maddie uses her friendliness, positive attitude, imagination, and her fake mustaches to battle her challenges. Maddie even gets an unexpected surprise when she receives hundreds of photos from friends, family members, and even complete strangers wearing fake mustaches to cheer her on. Based on a true story, Mustaches for Maddie teaches that everyone is going through somethings hard and everyone needs a compassionate friend and maybe a little bit of laughter from a mustache."

My Review:

I loved this book! This is such an inspirational story!  I love Maddie's voice in this book; her humor and wit are refreshing and so much fun, and her positive attitude during such a difficult time is truly admirable. Although this book is based on a true story, a big portion of the story is fictional. Part of the fictional story is about Cassie. She is a bully in Maddie's class, and the way that Maddie decides to handle the situation makes her an example to all children in similar situations. Instead of being mean back to Cassie, or turning inward and becoming depressed, Maddie decides to use her wit, her kindness, and her sense of humor to change the dynamics. I loved that part of the book! Maddie is actually the daughter of the authors, and she really did have a brain tumor. Neighbors, friends, and even strangers, sent her pictures of them with silly mustaches to cheer Maddie up after her surgery. How sweet is that? Seriously! That is how we should always treat each other; building up and doing everything we can to help during difficult situations. It's heart breaking to hear stories of children battling cancer, and to hear of such an amazing outcome is truly inspirational. The author was in the hospital with his daughter when his debut novel The Inventor's Secret was published. I did not know that at the time, but I was lucky enough to participate in his book tour, and his book has turned into one of my all-time favorite middle-grader reads! Mustaches for Maddie is well written, it flows well, the voice in the book is witty, charming, and so cute, and the character development is great. Another fabulous thing about this book are the lessons that it teaches. They are very powerful: standing up for yourself, anti-bullying, being yourself, enjoying life, and doing things that you love are just a few. So great! This is a fast, easy read that will leave you wanting to hear more from cute Maddie. I laughed and cried, and couldn't put it down. I highly recommend this book for kids and adults alike! It'll make a great read aloud too! My copy came with these cute "Compassion in Action" postcards as well.

Compassion in Action postcards from Mustaches for Maddie by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown

Rating: PG (Clean!! There is a bully in the book, and she does some mean things. It also discusses Maddie's medical issues. There isn't any profanity, "intimacy," or violence.)

Recommendation: As a silent read I'd say 2nd or 3rd grade and up, and as a read aloud I'd say K or 1st grade and up. All children should read this book to see how their actions affect those around them, and to see how Maddie handles the situation. I'm going to have all four of my kids read it!

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Also by Chad Morris:

Cragbridge Hall: The Inventor's Secret (Book #1) by Chad Morris
Book #1

Cragbridge Hall: The Avatar Battle (Book #2) by Chad Morris
Book #2
Cragbridge Hall: The Impossible Race (Book #3) by Chad Morris
Book #3

Thursday, November 9, 2017

[Book Review] Adventurers Wanted: Sands of Nezza (Book #4) by M.L. Forman

Adventurers Wanted: Sands of Nezza (Book #4) by M.L. Forman
Picture from amazon.com

Adventurers Wanted: Sands of Nezza (Book #4)
M. L. Forman


"After hundreds of years without a true king, the desert land of Nezza is in danger of falling under the rule of a ruthless lord advised by an evil wizard with dark intentions. A desperate cry for help brings Alexander Taylor to this perilous land and sets events in motion that will require him to rescue an old friend from an impenetrable dungeon. Once in Nezza, Alex meets a new band of adventurers and joins them in their quest to find young Prince Rallian--the man destined to become the rightful king of Nezza. In their path lies a deadly sand monster, a wise and insightful oracle, a massive army of illusions, and a host of lords and leaders ready to fight for--and against--the king of their land. But a dark shadow threatens Alex's every step. And in Nezza, a land where magic is feared and wizards are held in suspicion, Alex will have to be more wise and cunning than ever before if he and his friends are to succeed--or even survive."

My Review:

At first I wanted to be an adventurer...after reading this book, I'm not so sure! Eeek! I think I'm too big of a wuss! I would NOT want to be captured by an evil lord and kept in an impenetrable dungeon! I wouldn't want to come face to face with a scary sand monster! I wouldn't want to fight against an evil lord's army, and I wouldn't want to try and broker a peace treaty with warring peoples. Sheesh! I WOULD, however, want to read about it! I would love to read all about it from the comfort of my couch and my warm, snugly blanket! Of course, I could do that all day! Sometimes by the time you get to book #4 in a series, you can tell that the author is just done. The writing goes downhill, the characters don't act like themselves, etc. That is definitely not the case with this book! I love how creative this series still is, how Alex is still learning and growing, and how the underlying plot is still there, and maybe even becoming more apparent. Alex's humility is refreshing, and even though he's a pretty big deal, you wouldn't know it by talking to him. It was fun to see Skeld again, and I liked many of the new characters, especially Rallian and Virgil. Stonebill was a fun character as well. I laughed every time I though of Alex talking to Stonebill, and I laughed even harder when I thought of how it looked to his friends. This book is full of action, lots of magic, a slight romance, and a good amount of mystery. It's well written, the character development is very good, and it is a great addition to this fun series.

Rating: PG+ (There is no profanity and no "intimacy."There is, however, quite a bit of violence. They are in the middle of a war, so there's a lot of fighting. A few main characters die, and a bunch of others die as well. The deaths are not overly graphic, but some of them are sad.)

Recommendation: 4th-5th grade and up (Perfect for middle-graders and YA)

Adventurers Wanted Series:
(Click on the images to find out more about each book!)

Adventurers Wanted: Slathbog's Gold (Book #1) by M.L. Forman
Book #1
Adventurers Wanted: The Horn of Moran (Book #2) by M.L. Forman
Book #2
Adventurers Wanted: Albrek's Tomb (Book #3) by M.L. Forman
Book #3

Adventurers Wanted: Sands of Nezza (Book #4) by M.L. Forman
Book #4

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

[Book Review] Adventurers Wanted: Albrek's Tomb (Book #3) by M.L. Forman

Adventurers Wanted: Albrek's Tomb (Book #3) by M.L. Forman
(Pic from amazon.com)

Adventurers Wanted: Albrek's Tomb (Book #3)
M.L. Forman


"Two thousand years ago, the dwarf Albrek went looking for new mines in the land of Thraxon in the hopes of becoming rich--and vanished. Now the dwarves must find Albrek's magical Ring of Searching before their mines run dry, a possibility which threatens the livelihood of the entire dwarf realm. Alexander Taylor joins a familiar company of adventurers on a quest to discover what happened to Albrek, find his mythical tomb, and locate the lost talisman. But finding the ring may be the least of the adventurers' problems once they cross paths with an ancient, wandering paladin, Bane, who warns of a great evil working in all of the known lands. Following in Albrek's footsteps, Alex and his friends travel to the haunted Isle of Bones, where a mysterious creature lurks in a deserted village, to the the cursed city of Neplee, where the dwarfs are hunted by the undead hellerash, and through the shadow of an empty oracle's tower, where a whispered legend is about to come true."

My Review:

Wow! What a ride! I have loved this series so far (my boys are 16 and 14 and have also loved it), and this book has a lot to offer! It's a great third book, which is sometimes difficult to find. So much happens that Alex almost transforms right before your eyes! He grows and learns a lot throughout this book, and it's fun to watch. I love that there are familiar friends, and new ones, on this adventure. Thrang, Thrain, and Arconn were a few old favorites, and the newbie Kat soon became a favorite adventurer of mine. There is so much action, adventure, magic, and mystery in this book! Seriously, Alex learns a lot of new things about himself and his abilities; I loved it! There are many surprises in this book, which made it super fun to read. It's well written, the character development is very well done, and it's an all-around fun read! If you enjoyed the first two books in the series then you'll love this one!

Rating: PG (There is no profanity or "intimacy," but there is some violence. Alex has to fight a very scary character.)

Adventurers Wanted Series:
(Click on the images to see more info about each book.)
Adventurers Wanted: Slathbog's Gold (Book #1) by M.L. Forman
Book #1

Adventurers Wanted: The Horn of Moran (Book #2) by M.L. Forman
Book #2

Adventurers Wanted: Albrek's Tomb (Book #3) by M.L. Forman
Book #3

Adventurers Wanted: Sands of Nezza (Book #4) by M.L. Forman
Book #4

Monday, November 6, 2017

The Forgotten Carols Giveaway!!

The Forgotten Carols Giveaway by Michael McLean

 The Forgotten Carols Giveaway!!

Would you like to win tickets for your family of four to The Forgotten Carols this Christmas?? 
Yep, they will be giving away two family four-packs of tickets! Just scroll down and enter your info. on the Rafflecopter below!!

Interview with Michael McLean

1. What is your favorite Forgotten Carol scene?
I have so many scenes in THE FORGOTTEN CAROLS that are “favorites” for a variety of reasons.  But I’m surprised, performance after performance, how often something touches me differently and teaches me something that I’ve missed in performances past.  It’s the gift of doing this show for 26 years.  I keep learning things, understanding things, and feeling things that bring me closer to the One Christmas is all about…the One who we remember…It’s about remembering what’s been “forgotten” when it comes to the meaning of Christmas. 

2. Do you have a favorite snack you enjoy while traveling to each tour city? 
I'm a diabetic, so this is sort of a trick question.  I crave chocolate cake donuts, but have to eat Kind Bars.  That’s the reality, but the truth is, I cheat sometimes…and take a little bit more insulin to make up for it.  Don’t tell anybody :)

Michael McLean driving truck on tour

3. What do you enjoy most when you’re on the road performing? 

The older I get the more exhausting it is to be traveling from place to place…but the joy of that travel when it’s with people I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to pieces.  The cast and the crew make it a joy beyond measure.

4.       During the last song when the audience is hand-in-hand singing, what emotions do you feel from the stage? 

When the encore segment of The Forgotten Carols happens, I find myself focusing on the meaning of “together forever”.   Is it something that we hope will happen someday, somewhere down the road, or is it something we can feel right now, this moment?  Some nights I feel like I should sing a different lyric for families that can’t buy in to the idea of an eternal connection, for whatever reasons, and the appropriate lyric for them would be, “We can be together, whatever, today”.  Some nights, thinking about my own family and the challenges we face, those words are a great comfort and a celebration of now.  I believe that what happens to me, and many people who attend The Forgotten Carols, is that together in that moment, we feel the love and peace and comfort that comes at Christmas time to remind us that we are never alone, and the One whose birth we celebrate is ALWAYS with us.   Here’s a news flash for you, my blogger friends.  I’M ADDING A NEW CAROL TO THE SHOW THIS YEAR that I think will shine a beautiful light on that thought.  Hope y’all come and hear me sing it!!!
Michael McLean performing at the piano during the Forgotten Carols

The Forgotten Carols Blog Tour Image

Friday, November 3, 2017

[Book Review] Mysteries of Cove: Embers of Destruction (Book 3)

Mysteries of Cove: 
Embers of Destruction (Book #3)
J. Scott Savage


"After the battle of Seattle, Trenton and Kallista--along with their friends, Plucky, Simoni, Angus, and Clyde--fly their mechanical dragons south toward San Francisco, looking for any sign of Kallista's father, Leo Babbage. Arriving in a new city, the young riders investigate the area in secret, only to be reunited with Leo Babbage, who reveals that the humans in the city are working as slaves to the dragons. What's more, the humans don't want to be rescued--himself included. He says they are being protected by their new master: a huge, powerful white dragon who lives in an impenetrable tower fortress overlooking the city. Kallista is stunned by the news. Why would her father ever willingly work for dragons? With the white dragon watching their every move, Trenton and Kallista will need every bit of creativity and ingenuity they can manage to find a way to enter the dragon's tower fortress and break its hold over the city--and the world--once and for all."

My Review:

This has been such a fun series to read! My boys both got to this book before I did (they're now 16 and 14), and they loved it. I enjoyed it too, which I love because then we can talk about it together. We have our own in-house book group going on! Love it! Trenton is just such a great kid (and character). I love his humility, his creativity, and his ability to think and act appropriately under pressure. He has his flaws, he's not perfect, but that's one thing I like about his character. Kallista is a great character as well. She's a little more complex than Trenton is, and may be strong-willed, but I love her ingenuity, her work ethic, and I love that she's a strong female character. The descriptions in this book are very good. I loved reading all about the different dragons, especially the white one; you could just feel the evil dripping out of him! I love that the kids need to use their brains and skills, and that it's difficult, but they are determined and work hard. Some of those qualities are hard to find in kids these days, so it's a great example of what working hard and being smart can get you! This book is very well written, it's engaging, and I couldn't put it down! There are a few surprises, and a bunch of new characters. It's a great ending to a very fun trilogy. At our house we are sad that this is the last book in the series. I highly recommend this book and series for middle-graders and YA.

Rating: PG+ (I marked this one a little higher than I did the other two because there is quite a bit of fighting (they're fighting dragons, mostly), and a character dies in this one. There is no profanity or "intimacy."

Recommendation: 3rd grade and up! (Middle Graders and Young Adults)

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Mysteries of Cove Trilogy:

Book One Mysteries of Cove: Fires of Invention by J. Scott SavageBook Three Mysteries of Cove: Embers of Destruction by J. Scott SavageBook Two Mysteries of Cove: Gears of Revolution by J. Scott Savage

      Book #1                                                       Book #2                                           Book #3

Also by J. Scott Savage:

Far World: Air Keep Book 3 by J. Scott Savage   Far World: Water Keep Book 1 by J. Scott Savage   Far World: Land Keep Book 2 by J. Scott Savage
                                  Book #1                       Book #2                      Book #3

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

[Book Review] Marysvale by Jared Southwick

Book Review of Marysvale by Jared Southwick

Jared Southwick


"John Casey was ten years old when his mother was murdered...and ten when his father hid the truth from him. Without that knowledge, he has no idea of the enemies that lie in wait. Now grown up, John lives a solitary life, in a world enslaved by ignorance and superstition, when anyone unusual is treated with distrust and even killed...and John has some very unusual gifts. When he is accused of witchcraft, John does the only thing he's ever done--Run! That is, until he meets Jane who lives in the bleak, imprisoned town of Marysvale. Life outside the safety of the town walls means certain death from the brutal monsters that hunt there. However, life inside, under the rule of a tyrannical leader, means no life at all. As the love between John and Jane grows, the dangers of Marysvale unfold; and for the first time in his life, John discovers that there is something worth dying for."

My Review:

I really liked this book. I like Mr. Southwick's style of writing. It is fast-paced and keeps you on your toes. I couldn't just stop at the end of the chapter, I'd have to keep reading, which turned into some very long nights. I really liked the character development in this book. I felt connected to each of the main characters, and even to some of the characters that only appeared once or twice, like the man who saves John when he is running from the town authorities. The descriptions Mr. Southwick uses to describe the characters make you feel as if you are actually face to face.  I liked the story line even though I sometimes have trouble relating to "monsters." In this book the "monsters" seemed plausible and were scary. I read a lot at night when I can't sleep, and can usually read on the couch, but with this book I had to read in bed with my husband next to me because it kind of freaked me out in the dark.

I liked that there was none to very little language in this book. I can't remember any profane words, but there may have been one that I can't remember. There is violence, and some of it is scary and graphic. There is a lot of "monster" killing, and fighting. There is a section that talks about human slavery, which I didn't really like, and thought it was graphic, but it only lasts a page or two. There are deaths in this book, and it can be dark at times, but there are also light-hearted and tender moments. There is some romance going on with kissing. One part that was quite disturbing was when John had to listen to two of his girl friends (not girlfriends) be tortured. You find out that it was only physical, not sexual, but during the scene it is almost implied. That scene was disturbing.

Overall I really enjoyed the book. There is a theme going on about how people will choose to lose their freedoms in order to be safe. I know this argument goes on every day here in the United States of America, and it was interesting to see why these people chose to give up their freedoms, and then how they wished they had them back, but it was too late.

Rating: PG-13+ (almost R) No language, but violence and death. There is the scene where the women are being tortured and there is also a scene about human slavery. It is also scary. At least it had me freaked out during some scenes.

Recommendation: I'm going to have to say maybe 15 or 16 and up. My 9 year-old who has read all the "Harry Potter" books asked if he could read it and I said no. It's not because of language, it's just that there are some scenes that I think would be too much for that age group. I don't want him reading about women being tortured and people being sold into slavery. I know that happened in history, but seeing it through Mr. Southwick's descriptions made me cringe. And, I don't want him coming into my room with nightmares of the "monsters."

I highly recommend this book. I hope I didn't make it seem too bad. It's not, it's just those couple of scenes. I loved it. I loved the tension, the scariness, the characters, the twists and turns, and the writing style.

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

*Note* I originally published this review on 8/9/11, updated on 10/29/14 and 10/31/17.