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February 21st, 2013

CSFF Tour: The Orphan King by Sigmund Brouwer

This week CSFF has been touring The Orphan King by Sigmund Brouwer.  I love Brouwer’s writing, and I’ve indulged in it a few times, and it doesn’t disappoint here.  I haven’t had the time to write up a full review yet – perhaps the fact that 4 out of 5 of our children have come down with the flu over the past 3 days has something to do with it?  Hmm.

In any case, I did want to dig in a bit to the question of magic and fantasy.  I see that Rebecca Miller – an awesome book blogger who focuses on Christian fantasy/spec-fic/sci-fi and other underserved genres of Christian literature shared her thoughts on Brouwer’s use of – or lack of – magic in the series.  To be honest, this is an ongoing issue for me.  I was saved directly out of paganism and the occult, and for good, or professedly Christian-type characters to use magic in a novel is abhorrent to me.  Bad guys + magic = okay, they’re the bad buys.  Good guys + magic = nuh uh, it’s a no go for me.

When God is so clear in His Word that witchcraft is an abomination and grievous sin, I simply can’t understand Christian authors who put this ‘tool’ in the hands of their characters and claim it’s all for the good.  BUT I LOVE fantasy!  It is one of my all-time favorite genres ever, and I struggle, STRUGGLE to find novels where the protagonists don’t indulge in practicing magic.  However…the Merlin’s Immortal Series, including both the first book The Orphan King, the second book Fortress of Mist, and future releases, don’t seem to use magic in this way.  They have people who seem to practice magic (even the bad buys are presented in this way), yet they aren’t – everything has its roots in the natural world, and can be explained away as it were.

But, not everyone entirely agrees with me, and I’m always up for healthy discussion.  So dig around the tour links below and see what folks have to say about this Christian fantasy series!


Gillian Adams
Julie Bihn
Thomas Fletcher Booher
Beckie Burnham
Janey DeMeo
Theresa Dunlap
Victor Gentile
Nikole Hahn
Jeremy Harder
Ryan Heart
Janeen Ippolito
Becky Jesse
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Emileigh Latham
Rebekah Loper
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Megan @ Hardcover Feedback
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Anna Mittower
Eve Nielsen
Nathan Reimer
James Somers
Steve Trower
Phyllis Wheeler

January 21st, 2013

Book Review: Candle BIBLE for Kids: Toddler Edition by Juliet David, Illustrated by Jo Parry

With such a wide age range of children (a few months old up to nine-years), I’m always reading a variety of different story book Bibles to try to cover everyone’s needs developmentally.  Our current Bible time in the morning currently includes a story Bible for my 2-year-old, a story Bible for my 4-year-old, and a Bible study that includes catechism and readings from the Bible (using the NIrV).  My 9-year-old is studying independently this year.

That might seem like overkill, but suffice it to say, my children are very familiar with the major stories of the Bible.  They’re able to start small and build up, adding details as they grow and mature.  Lately we’ve been reading the Candle BIBLE for Kids: Toddler Edition for my 2-year-old (though of course, it seems that ALL of my smaller children listen in no matter which story Bible we’re reading).

This cute, cheerful story Bible has a padded cover and fairly sturdy, small pages.  While it isn’t a board book, the smaller format pages are easier for little hands to turn without the risk of ripping.  So far, so good – my 2-year-old looks at this book on her own, turns pages, packs it around, and it’s hanging in there.  No rips so far.

The book is 160 pages in length and includes 14 Old Testament stories and 22 New Testament stories.  Most of the stories are around 4 pages long.  Some in the New Testament section are as short as 1 page or 2 pages.  Some in the Old Testament section are as long as 7 pages, but most seem to be 4 pages in length.  Each page has only two to three short, easily understood sentences on it.  The Bible stories themselves are fairly bare bones, but they cover all of the major points and bases.  Juliet David’s renditions are concise and readable.

Jo Parry’s illustrations are modern, bold and cheerful.  They are high interest, and my little girls like to look through this title on their own just for the sake of the illustrations.  They do portray Adam and Eve as children – something I’m never too keen on.

Overall, this is a good solid starter story Bible for toddlers.  It is holding up to our active toddler despite its many trips under the couch and around the house between Bible times and the stories are basic and readable – a good starting point for familiarizing wee ones with the major plot points in the His-story of God’s people.



January 17th, 2013

CFBA Tour: Hurt by Travis Thrasher

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


David C. Cook; New edition (January 1, 2013)


Travis Thrasher

After college, he targeted working in the publishing industry and was fortunate to find a job early after graduation. He worked as Author Relations Manager for Tyndale House Publishers, the publisher of his first two novels.

The thirteen years he spent working in author relations taught him the business of publishing as well as the psyche of writers.

Early on, he made a deliberate choice of not wanting to be boxed in by a brand or a genre. Instead, Travis has chosen time and time again to write the stories that mean something to him at that moment. He views his first ten years of being published as training and practice. Those novels in many ways were written for himself.

The four years of writing full time have taught him the discipline and determination necessary to make it as a novelist. They’ve also served to close the chapter on what is hopefully just one era in his writing journey.

The stories continue to fill his head like they did when he was in third grade. The only difference is that Travis now knows what to do with those stories. His goal continues to be to tell stories that move him as well as his readers. He wants to continue to experiment and take risks, but more than anything he wants to provide readers a satisfying experience.

The dream remains the same. To try and write something magnificent. To make up wild worlds full of wonderfully rich characters. To make sense of the world through the stories he tells. And to try and inspire hope with the words he writes.


His Rebellion Will Soon Turn to Hope

When Chris Buckley first encountered the mysteries of creepy Solitary, North Carolina, he had little idea how far he would fall into the town’s shadows. After losing the love of his life, Chris tried to do things his way. He hunted answers. Then he gave up trying to find them.

But now Chris comes back to Solitary knowing there’s a purpose for his being there. As he watches his place in a twisted and evil bloodline become clear, Chris waits for the last battle—and wonders who will be left when he finally makes his stand.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Hurt, go HERE


MY NOTE: I’m not up to this final book, but I have read the first, and I just want parents to note that it is dark and intense.  While classified as YA, you might want to save this one for older readers capable of handling the high-intensity.

January 1st, 2013

New Homeschooling Approach/Homeschool Name Decided!

Well – what a year it’s been!  House fire, two moves (one cross-country), new baby, house renovations (yes, these will be in progress for some time)!  All that being said, I don’t think we’ve EVER had a year like 2012.  It was pretty insane to say the least.

I’m SO GLAD we decided to go with a more independent approach to school for my oldest daughter this fall after our move (9, grade 4).  Of course, my second daughter is in grade 1 (6), so it’s all teacher intensive for her still at this stage of the game.  I’m going to write a series of posts detailing what we’re doing, but really, I’m pretty happy overall despite the fact that I felt like I was copping out by going heavily with worktexts for my oldest.

We also decided on a name for our homeschool!  Again, I always felt like it was sort of silly to name a homeschool, since it’s just our family here at home, but since Nova Scotia doesn’t offer a diploma for homeschoolers, any diploma I issue will have to have a school name on it, right? ;)  Well high school IS a ways away, but I’ve always struggled to name things, but this name just clicked!

Our new house (where we plan to STAY) is on a bit of a hill, on high ground…and I’ve always loved the hymn Higher Ground (hear it here), so we went with…

Higher Ground Academy

Even my husband likes it!

Well, babe is squirming so I’m off to nurse!  Till later…

January 1st, 2013

Security Guards in Stockton?

Lately I’ve been reading some science fiction of the speculative nature (isn’t it all?) that has had me toying with the changing nature of celebrity and its potential dangers.  With celebrity becoming increasingly viral and web based, it’s growingly likely that anyone could experience unwanted attention.  I think updating my domain name contact information only exacerbated these thoughts.

That being said, I don’t think I’m in any danger of developing stalker-worthy pursuits, but fame isn’t the only reason a family could be needing to call a company like Security Stockton, who provides not only bodyguards but also more mundane types of security guards that may be needed in the course of a regular life.

After visiting the Security Guard Stockton website, it really drove home how helpful a security guard can be – not only in celebrity situations (which I’ll likely never encounter), but also for day to day experiences that most of us will encounter in our lives.

  • Guard your home while it is being fumigated and you’re away at a hotel (heaven forbid pest infestations!)
  • Guard your moving van while you’re packing it in the busy city, going in and out of the house, taking breaks etc.
  • Provide crowd control at parties – even those that include family members mainly (like weddings) can get a bit dicey if there is alcohol involved and if there is any bad blood between family members or if anyone attending has a temper problem.  I can really see the value of this one – who wants to break up arguing wedding reception guests themselves when a security guard could do it instead?
  • Events, conferences, and meetings – if you’re in leadership and involved in planning large homeschooling events/church concerts etc., security guards might be something to keep in mind if your venue doesn’t include the service in their rental fees

We haven’t personally needed a guard ourselves yet, but they are becoming more affordable and accessible for personal/family use situations, not only high-intensity situations.

Glad to know that for the next time I have sci-fi fueled visions of viral celebrity dancing in my head.

December 31st, 2012

Ooka Island Deal!

Our family reviewed Ooka Island last year in 2011 and my now six-year-old STILL remembers it!  She continually asks to get Ooka Island back, and now that she’s blending consistently now and reading CVC words, I’m excited for her to try the program out again!

Would you like to try out the program for yourself?  Here’s a special link you can follow to get 30% off your homeschooling subscription to this fun, adventure-filled reading program!


December 14th, 2012

Our Baby!

I’m SO overdue with this birth announcement!  This picture is old already! :)

Our fifth baby (and first boy!) was born on November 8th at 4:41 A.M.  Johnathon is a sweet little baby (shown here at a couple of days old) who weighed 11 lb. 9 oz. at birth.  So thankful for his timely delivery – he was born near Lunenberg, NS so we could be close to our midwives and arrived only one day before our vacation rental time ran out (we had 10 days at Second Paradise Retreat in the Farmhouse, very lovely).  Six hours of labour, 10 minutes of pushing – no noticeable transition or throwing up (praise God – I took some Gravol when labor started).  Our fifth water, homebirth, though this one was another home-away-from-home birth really!

December 14th, 2012

Book Review: Starflower (Tales of Goldstone Wood) by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

You might have heard me say this before (ahem), but I am absolutely in love with Anne Elisabeth Stengl’s Tales of Goldstone Wood Christian fantasy series.  Having read fantasy since the time I was a wee girl saying that Stengl’s work is a must-have series is saying a lot.

Rich writing, heartbreakingly beautiful redemptive themes, vivid characterization, and what a world-builder!  Each progressive novel reveals more of this world she’s created for us.  Starflower surprisingly takes us hundreds of years into the past to reveal more back story and to fully examine characters who previously played only supporting roles in previous novels.

Uncovering Eanrn and Imraldera’s journeys made me ache to read back through the entire series to read their parts in a new light.  In all honest – each and every one of Stengl’s novels makes me want to do the same thing!  New parts of the world, its history, and workings are continually unfolded, creating an ever deepening understanding and unity between the novels.  Too bad the rest of my books are still in boxes after our move!

That being said, newcomers could jump in here, but I certainly wouldn’t want anyone to miss the rest of this beautiful series.  Since the first book – Heartless (my favorite) – is generally available as a free download, that is also a wonderful place to start!

I did find the story a bit more slow-moving than previous novels in the series and it took me a few more sittings to finish it than one of Stengl’s works normally does, but that could be the newborn in the house too.

I unreservedly recommend reading Starflower and the rest of the series, and – as alwas – I am eagerly anticipating the next release.  In fact, I think I could keep reading character-based explorations like this one for as long as Stengl will keep writing them!


Also available in all your favorite electronic formats :).

November 29th, 2012

CFBA Tour: Judge by R.J. Larson

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


Bethany House Publishers (November 1, 2012)


R.J. Larson

R. J. Larson is the author of numerous devotionals featured in publications such as Women’s Devotional Bible and Seasons of a Woman’s Heart. She lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with her husband and their two sons. Prophet marks her debut in the fantasy genre.


Kien Lantec, you will bear witness to my followers in ToronSea.

The last thing Kien Lantec expects on his first day of military leave is to receive marching orders from his Creator, the Infinite. Orders that don’t involve destroyer-racing or courting the love of his life, Ela. Adding to Kien’s frustration, his Infinite-ordained duties have little to do with his skills as a military judge-in-training. His mission? To warn the people of ToronSea against turning their backs on the Infinite to worship a new goddess.

Tell them I see they are beguiled. Tell them I seek their hearts. The wise will hear Me.

But why Kien? Isn’t this the role of a true prophet, such as Ela of Parne? Seeking answers, Kien visits Ela and finds her stricken by a devastating vision of her own. Her birthplace, Parne, has forsaken their Creator and will soon suffer judgment. Pulled in separate ways, each must seek to follow the Infinite’s leading…and hope He will reunite them again soon.

Child of dust, will you be My servant?

If you would like to read the first chapter of , go HERE.

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed the first novel in this series, and I’m looking forward to reading the second!

November 21st, 2012

CFBA Tour: Starflower By Anne Elisabeth Stengl

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


Bethany House Publishers (November 1, 2012)


Anne Elisabeth Stengl

Anne Elisabeth Stengl makes her home in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she enjoys her profession as an art teacher, giving private lessons from her personal studio, and teaching group classes at the Apex Learning Center. She is married to the handsome man she met at fencing class and lives with him and a gaggle of cats. She studied illustration at Grace College and English literature at Campbell University. Heartless is her debut novel.

Anne Elisabeth is also the author of the Tales of Goldstone Wood, a series of fantasy adventure novels told in the classic Fairy Tale style.


The Black Dogs Are on the Hunt, But Who Is Their Prey?

When a cursed dragon-witch kidnaps fairest Lady Gleamdren, the Bard Eanrin sets boldly forth on a rescue mission…and a race against his rival for Gleamdren’s favor. Intent upon his quest, the last thing the immortal Faerie needs is to become mixed up with the troubles of an insignificant mortal.

But when he stumbles upon a maiden trapped in an enchanted sleep, he cannot leave her alone in the dangerous Wood Between. One waking kiss later, Eanrin suddenly finds his story entangled with that of young Starflower. A strange link exists between this mortal girl and the dragon-witch. Will Starflower prove the key to Lady Gleamdren’s rescue? Or will the dark power from which she flees destroy both her and her rescuer?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Starflower, go HERE.

My Thoughts: I’m not through this installment of the series YET, but this is an AWESOME series!  My favorite all-time Christian fantasy author, don’t miss these books!


Jennifer. Follower of Yeshua. Wife of one man. Homeschooling mother of 5.