Our Family

Our Family

Monday, March 30, 2015

Review: A Heart's Obsession by Colleen Coble

Book Description

" Can a woman held captive by her family make it back to the one man she knows she can trust? When Sarah Montgomery's father succumbs to his long illness, Sarah is faced with a life-altering choice: submit to her brother's will and marry the deceptive Ben Croftner . . . or escape through the dangerous American West to reclaim the heart of her beloved Rand Campbell at Fort Laramie, Wyoming. From captivity in her family's home, Sarah makes her decision-and begins the perilous journey to Wyoming by train. But even in the company of Rand's brother, Sarah does not receive the reception she had hoped for. The necessity of a military wife has preempted her, and Rand is already engaged to Jessica DuBois, the seductive daughter of the post commander. With her heart broken and her life in ruins, Sarah has no choice but to remain at Fort Laramie and try to win Rand back. But things will get tougher before they get easier . . . the obsessive Ben Croftner has just shown up in Wyoming."

A Heart's Obsession is book 2 of 6 in the Journey of the Heart series which has just been released by Colleen Coble. It was her first series and was originally titled Where Leads the Heart and Plains of Promise.  The books in this series are short, only around 100 pages and are quick and easy reads.

I shared in my review of A Heart's Disguise that I am not a huge fan of series that are longer than 3 books.  They are of course written to keep you reading through the whole series so just when the story really starts to be developed it cuts off and you have to wait for the next book.  Plus I think publishing 6 separate books adds an extra cost to the consumer.  But as I mentioned before it appears as though this series will be released soon in one volume.  That is the way I would prefer to read it, but some people like the suspense of waiting for the new one to be released.

Colleen Coble has written a very good story that has had the designed effect on me.  After reading the first book I couldn't wait to review the second.  And now after finishing the second book I can't wait to read the third! It has everything you want in a book: christian romance, action, adventure, suspense, a villain or two, and those like us who have some character development to do.  I am eager to see where the adventure leads next!  I will be eagerly awaiting the next book.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation and all opinions are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance to FTC regulations.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Spring Break Trip to Dallas Part 3

Last year when we went to visit my parents in Florida, my 7 and 9 year olds really, really wanted to go to Legoland but it rained that day, not just a little, but pouring down ,cold rain (which honestly we can't complain as it was the only day of bad weather we had.)  So when I found out that there was a Legoland Discovery Center in Dallas I knew that would be something they really would want to do.  I didn't tell them though.  I wanted it to be a surprise.  I bough the tickets online since they were $7 cheaper that way and scheduled our visit for Wednesday at 11:30.  Also, since the little girls had just had a birthday we planned on taking them to Build A Bear Workshop for their present.

We slept in a bit, had breakfast, and spent the rest of the morning cleaning up and loading the van. We got to the Grapevine Mills Mall just a few minutes before our entrance time.  I have to say, in my opinion it was WAY overpriced.  I know I have a larger than average family, but for us to go it was just over $140 with the discounted tickets.  Personally, I think they should just charge for the children and not the adults that are accompanying them like other similar places do.  My 6, 7, and 9 year olds enjoyed it though.

When you enter they do a little introduction that talks about how LEGOS are made and everyone gets a free LEGO brick.

Inside there was a play place that Lily, Anthony, and Christian were the right size for.

And another play area with a slide some other play equipment and some building blocks that Emmie was the right size for and big brothers could play too.

There were 3 "rides", Merlin's Apprentice, Kingdom Quest, and one that you could drive LEGO police cars.

The city of Dallas made out of LEGOS.

A Ninjago area.

A theater (only Chelsea went in there), and a place where you could build and race your LEGO cars. There was also a cafe and a store.

After 2 hours we were ready to leave.  We grabbed some lunch at Applebees which was right outside the mall.  Stopped in 3 stores, including the Disney Store where Chelsea bought something for each of the children.  Then we headed to Build A Bear Workshop.

Lily and Emmie both picked the same thing, a My Little Pony named Princess Luna.

Lily picked a skirt, shirt, and pink shoes for her pony.  Emmie picked a cinderella dress and shoes for hers and they both got hair brushes.  They both got hair brushes.  Chelsea made a puppy.  Emmie named her pony Sparkles and Lily stuck with Princess Luna.

We grabbed a snack from the Original Cookie Company and started the drive home.  Within minutes Lily and Emmie had fallen asleep.

We had a great time but it is always nice to be home.  It seems our timing to arrive home was good because the next morning Christian was sick (and still is), that evening Anthony got sick, the next morning Art started not feeling well, and Emmie started running a fever too!  We are laying low this week-end and praying everyone is better soon!

Schoolhouse Crew Review: Circle C Milestones

I was first introduced to books by Susan K. Marlow back in 2011 when I had an opportunity to review Andi's Scary School Days, a Circle C Beginnings Book.   Then in 2013 I had an opportunity to review Tunnels of Gold  a Goldtown Adventures Book.  We loved those books!  I was very excited to be chosen to review the first book, Thick as Thieves  in the newest series, Circle C Milestones by Susan K. Marlow and published by Kregel Publications.
Thick as Thieves Book Review
The Circle C Milestones series was written for ages 12 and up.  In Thick as Thieves, the story of Andrea Carter from the Circle C Beginnings and Circle C Adventures series continues.  Andi is now 14 years old.  It is 1882 and life on the Circle C ranch is very busy.  Taffy is expecting her first foal and Andi has to try and find balance between chores, school, and foal training.  A new girl at school, Macy Walker, has been assigned as Andi's seatmate and her cruel behavior and bad manners has the whole school in an uproar, especially Andi.  Life at home isn't much easier when cattle rustlers strike the Carter Ranch.  The book is a 174 page paperback with 26 chapters.  

You can read an excerpt of the book here.

Purchase your copy here for $9.99.

To go along with the book is a free downloadable Study Guide.  In this 40 page guide that is broken down into 6 different sections you will find vocabulary and comprehension questions, 1880 arithmetic problem, writing activities, and digging deeper questions.  Also included is information and activities on foaling, training a foal, lice, cattle rustling, the Palace Hotel, and dime novels.  An answer key is included along with further activity suggestions such as keeping a journal, writing a dime novel, and memorizing scripture.

I am reading the Circle C Beginnings books to my 6 and 4 year olds and they love them. They are a little young for the Circle C Milestones books right now, but I was interested in reading the series myself and having them on the shelf for when the girls will be old enough to read them.  The book arrived at my house at the perfect time because I had broken my toe and couldn't do very much.  I don't sit and do nothing very well so I was happy to have something new to read!  I read through the entire book in a couple of hours while the children enjoyed a movie.

I know I have said this before but it is true and worth repeating, it is hard to find good, wholesome, enjoyable for books for children in the tween and teen age range.  There is so much objectionable content that is added into books of this age range.  I know that when I pick up a book by Susan K. Marlow to read aloud or allow my children to read on their own that I have nothing to worry about. Thick as Thieves is a great story that will appeal mostly to pre-teen and teenage girls though as an adult I found it enjoyable as well.  Andi faces a lot of challenges in her life that girls today will relate to.  The story has a great message that is carried throughout the story about the importance of friendship and being a good friend.  Andi uses her knowledge of Scripture verses to help her through situations in her everyday life.  Knowing what God's word has to say helps her to make the right decisions even when it is difficult.  That is something we all can learn from!

I love the free study guide that you can download to go along with the book.  The vocabulary, comprehension questions, and digging deeper questions will help your child not only read and enjoy the story but take a deeper meaning from it.  I found the sections on foaling, training a foal, lice, cattle rustling, and the Palace Hotel quite fascinating and they added even more of an understanding of the time period and life situations that Andi was dealing with.  The activities that went along with these sections were fun and interesting, and I loved the Scripture mini posters to copy verses in.

I would highly recommend any books by Susan K. Marlow.  Girls will especially enjoy the different Circle C books.  Circle C Beginnings is for ages 6-9, Circle C Adventures for ages 9-14, and Circle C Milestones for 12 and up.  The Goldtown Adventures Series is for ages 8-12 and is geared more towards boys, but girls can enjoy those as well.

I look forward to the next book in the Circle C Milestones Series, Heartbreak Trail, releasing July 2015.

To see what my Crew Mates had to say, click on the banner below.
Koru Naturals Review

Friday, March 27, 2015

Spring Break Trip To Dallas Day Two

The hotel having continental breakfast was very convenient.  Even though the room had a small kitchen and I could cook, it's always more of a vacation when you don't have to!  They had a really good variety of hot and cold stuff and everyone was able to find something they liked.  I mentioned on my facebook page yesterday that I found it funny that my children didn't know how to open the little cartons of milk so they could drink out of them.  Something they missed out on going to public school.

After breakfast we took our time getting ready for the zoo.  Then we swung by Walmart for a few things.  By then it was almost lunch time and rather than pay zoo food prices we went ahead and grabbed something from Sonic.  Then we headed for the zoo!!

We have passes at the Little Rock Zoo, so we were able to get into the Dallas Zoo for 1/2 price.  It was a beautiful day, sunny and low 80's.  I had brought a stroller for Emelia but ended up renting a stroller for Lily too.  The zoo was bigger than I expected and she still was not completely recovered from being sick before we left.  She had not run fever in several days but she still tired quickly and was not eating like she should've been.  An extra stroller made it much easier!

It was a VERY nice zoo.  We were there 4 hours and did not get to see and do everything.  And they are expanding and opening a new exhibit this week.  It was very clean (a bit smelly but understandably so.)

We started off heading for Africa because Lily had just studied elephants in My Father's World and  really wanted to see some!

On our way we saw a few other animals.

Everybody loves penguins!

This baby was so cute!

Then the elephants!

Next we got to see the giraffes.  They had a giraffe feeding area that you could buy romaine lettuce and feed the giraffes $5 for 3 leaves.  So they got to feed the giraffes.  That's not something you get to do every day!

 This was a baby.

We moved on from there and saw many others animals.

Then we headed over to the children's area.  There was a petting zoo, fish you could feed, more birds, arachnids, and naked mole rats.  They also had a trading post that we didn't go into, a play area that had a little splash area, and pony rides but those were closed for repairs.

We saw flamingos and the children sat on a few elephants.

Then we headed back to Australia.  On our way we saw many different kinds of monkeys but I didn't get pictures of all of those.  We were on a mission to see something we had never seen before, koala bears.

We also saw kangaroos.

By this time the children were getting worn out.  So we saw the tiger but I couldn't get a really good photo of him and we stopped by the otters.

We headed back to the entrance cooling off with some ice cream on the way.

The children spent some of their money at the gift shop and we went back to the hotel to rest and then went swimming again.  We ordered take out from Buffalo Wild Wings and watched a movie.  By that time it was bed time.

Stay tuned for our 3rd and last day tomorrow.