Monday, September 24, 2012

Unending Devotion | Jody Hedlund | Book Review

Unending Devotion
by Jody Hedlund

{ About This Book }

Lily Young longs to find her lost sister or will die trying. Heedless of any danger, she searches logging camps and towns, posing as a photographer’s assistant. And then she arrives in Harrison, Michigan–and the sights of Connell McCormick.

Connell is determined to increase the fortune of his lumber-baron father and figures as long as he’s living an upright life, that’s what matters. But when Lily arrives in town she upends his world, forcing him to confront the truth that dangerous men have gained too much power while good men turn a blind eye.

Vexing but persuasive, Lily soon secures Connell’s help, drawing them ever closer to each other. Will standing for what’s right cost them both everything?

{ My Thoughts On This Book }

Set in the logging camps of northern Michigan in 1833, Unending Devotion is a fast paced and exciting story of a young woman trying to find the little sister who ran away from an abusive foster home hoping to make a quick fortune as a saloon girl in a lumber camp brothel, only to become a captive of her poor choices. It is also the story of a man who must choose between standing against sin and slavery, and turning a profit in an industry that leaves barren wastelands in its wake for the sake of his father's will.

I enjoyed this story, and was impressed that Ms Hedlund exposed both the debauchery of prostitution and the horrors of white slavery (girls were often lured into captive lives as prostitutes on the promise of honest work as maids), as well as touching on both sides of the lumber industry issue - the devastation of clear cutting and the fact that lumber barons relied on prostitution, gambling and alcohol to keep their drastically underpaid and overworked men on the job, as well as the eventual push to reform labor laws and working conditions, and find a new way to harvest lumber while preserving our forests.

I recommend this story to anyone who enjoys historical romantic fiction with sound moral undertones.

{ About The Author }

Jody Hedlund is the bestselling author of "The Doctor's Lady" and "The Preacher's Bride". She won the 2011 Inspirational Reader's Choice Award, the 2011 Award of Excellence from the Colorado Romance Writers and was a finalist for Best Debut Novel in the 2011 ACFW Carol Awards. Currently she makes her home in central Michigan, with her husband and five busy children. She loves hearing from readers on Facebook and on her blog.

Visit her website:

{ Buy This Book }

You can purchase your own copy of Unending Devotion for $10.19 here.

{ Disclosure }

I received a copy of this book from the publisher with LitFuse Publicity Group in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own, and this post is in compliance with FTC regulations. To learn more, visit my PR and Disclosure pages.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Happy Birthday, Sis! | Jessica's Visit

Happy 24th Birthday, Jessie!!

{ Copyright 2012 @ Jessica Purkerson. DO NOT COPY. }

Jessica, you are an amazing woman, and I am glad to call you my sister. You overcome the odds daily, and I am proud of you! I think about you often, and hope someday we live much closer together, so you can hang out with Nick and me, and get to know your little niece. It was so nice to hear your voice today, and I am glad you had a nice birthday. Enjoy some Jello Fluff and know we love you tons and tons!

~ Alena, Nick & Serenity

Jessica visited us back in March during her school's spring break...

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Author Interview | Cathy Gohlke | Band Of Sisters

The following is a Q&A interview with Cathy Gohlke, author of the new book Band Of Sisters, courtesy of her publicist. You can read my review of this moving novel here.

What motivated you to write Band of Sisters?

I’ve always been fascinated by the abolition of slavery and the civil rights movement. But I was horrified to learn that there are more than twice as many men, women and children enslaved today than at the height of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. This book was born of a passion to end modern-day slavery, and most of all, to ask, “What can I do to help in a need so desperate?” 

Why did you choose NYC 1910-1911 to tell this story? And how does human trafficking in that era compare to human trafficking today?

 I was inspired by an article I’d read about Alma Mathews. Alma was a small but determined woman who, armed with her umbrella and a hefty douse of fury, stood against dangerous men bent on exploiting immigrant women as they entered the U.S. through Castle Gardens, in old New York City. Alma ushered young women to her home, prepared them for employment, and helped them begin a safe new life in the city. It became a full time ministry involving many—all in the early days of the settlement house movement.

But my editor suggested that I set the story later, when immigrants entered the U.S. through Ellis Island. As I researched that possibility, I found that the problem of exploitation and human trafficking had not only grown during those years, but that the strikes of NYC shirtwaist factory workers had made public the desperate need for women to make a living wage in safe circumstances. Necessary elements for the story and high drama were all a matter of public record—everything from the passing of the Mann Act to address the fear of white slavery to the Triangle Waist Factory fire.

Even though our technology, transportation, communication, etc., is different from the story’s era, many countries today are no further in providing rights and safeguards for women than the U.S. was in 1910. Some are further behind.

Many of the same ruses are used by traffickers to lure women into their snare now as they were then: better paying jobs for themselves and/or money for their families, flirtation, pretense of emotional caring and support, marriage, offers specifically for modeling jobs, offers for education, appeals for help of various kinds, plays on sympathies, etc.

In some cases, after having sex with someone they trusted, or after being drugged and forced into having sex, women or children are/were blackmailed. Fearful that their families will not believe them or will accuse them of promiscuity and reject them, they are afraid and feel compelled to sneak out and “service” men when called. Some are sold to traffickers or users by members of their own family, or by someone they trust.

Once trapped—sometimes after being unwittingly drugged and/or blackmailed—women are often transported far from their home (crossing borders to other states or countries). Held against their will through abuse, enforced poverty, lack of ID, lack of language skills, lack of visas or passports, they may simply not know who to trust or where to go for help in the country in which they find themselves. Isolation, threats to their person or their family, repeated brain washing that they are dirty, worthless, unwanted, unloved, and good for nothing but sex with paying customers are all tools that traffickers use to intimidate and control their victims.

Fear of what will happen if they try to escape, fear that they have ruined their lives and will have no other way to live, fear for themselves and loved ones, resulting health problems, feelings of hopelessness and a constantly reinforced sense of self-worthlessness all form formidable prisons for victims of trafficking. Even if it seems they can physically escape, they may not be able to break the emotional or mental chains that bind them.

All those things happened then, and they continue to happen to victims today. 

What research did you do?

My research began with human trafficking today and the fight to abolish modern-day slavery through books, the internet, and through organizations and individuals that are helping in various ways—raising awareness, rescuing, restoring and healing victims, tracking down and prosecuting predators, education of men and boys re. the human rights and intrinsic worth of women, safe houses, etc., and those who fundraise to assist organizations or individuals who are already doing these things.

For historical background I watched documentaries and read (books, old newspapers, archives) about the growth of old New York, the social conditions and desperation of the poor and of immigrants in particular, the disadvantages to those who did not speak English, the unique problems of women and children—the opportunities for and difficulties of making a living wage outside of prostitution, the threats made to women and their families to coerce them into sexual service, of their economic desperation without a male provider, of their few legal rights, and of the unfair treatment women received in court. Those studies led me to the development of the sweatshops, the growth, expansion and revisions of the settlement house movement, the work of Jacob Riis in making the abject poverty of thousands known to the public.

Learning of those conditions led to a special interest in Irish immigrants—their cultural and social strengths and weaknesses, their views of family, their aptitude for and reception in different types of employment in America.

My husband and I made two trips to NYC. From there we conducted research at Ellis Island, took several tours in the Tenement Museum, and bought more research books and maps, including more on the Triangle Waist Factory fire.

Once I knew my storyline, I mapped out locations of the story and trekked through Manhattan, exploring old sites, especially between Mid-town Manhattan, through Washington Square and the surrounding NYU area (including the site of the Triangle fire), the Bowery and the Lower East Side. As I walked, photographed the city, explored, and talked with residents, the voices of my characters erupted. I gladly followed their lead.

Your characters are strongly influenced by the question asked in Charles Sheldon’s classic, “In His Steps”—“what would Jesus do?” Why did you choose that book to help tell your story?

After all my research I knew I had the historical elements needed. What I didn’t know was the inner conflict of each character, or the answer to the all-important question: “what can I do to help in a need so desperate?” I found my answer by confronting the question Sheldon posed in his very popular book of the time, “what would Jesus do?”

If we all truly do what Jesus would do, slavery will end. Jesus never exploited men or women—He uplifted them and showed them a path of hope, a new way of thinking and living. He never used children, or child labor for ease or gain—He blessed little ones, demonstrating their great worth. He never bought or sold babies to fulfill the bride “needs” of a one-child culture. He never bought or sold human organs, or fetuses, or body parts. He never lied to immigrants, never enslaved them, never threatened their families or loved ones or lives if they did not comply with His demands, never coerced or forced, never shamed or punished a single person into submission to His will. But in every way He set a moral compass, employed Divine compassion to the broken hearted and broken bodied, and held to account any and all who victimized others.

In Band of Sisters your characters maintain that the answer to human trafficking is found in the question, “What would Jesus do?” What do you mean by that and how does that question impact this modern-day crisis?

In recounting the things Jesus taught, and in thinking about the life He modeled, I realized that He has already given us the answers. It is only for us to employ them.

Jesus would:
  • Open His hand and His heart to those society spurns—not only to receive those who come to Him, but He would go out and search for and engage them, as when He ate with publicans and sinners, as when He called Zacchaeus from the tree.
  • He would provide medical help, as when He healed the woman with the issue of blood, the man born blind, the paraplegic let down through a roof, and countless others.
  • He would not hesitate to confront the darkest of the dark in order to free victims—the things and people and forces we’d rather not see or deal with, as when He drove demons from the young man, and from Mary Magdalene.
  • He would open His purse strings, even His home to the needy as when He commanded us to provide for widows and orphans, as when hounded by Herod, he personally demonstrated the helpless plight and needed solutions for refugees.
  • He would expect that those who could provide financially for this ministry and need would do so, just as He accepted gifts from those able to finance His ministry.
  • He would protect lives and argue for victims legally—even those who’d made mistakes society deems unforgivable, as He did for the woman taken in adultery—the woman in danger of being stoned.
  • He would accept the thanks of and stand for those who looked to Him for answers. He would maintain relationship with them, even when they were misunderstood by society, as He did for the woman who anointed His feet. He would hold to account those who victimize others, as He did when He declared that for anyone who makes one of His little ones to stumble it would be better if a millstone were hung around their neck and they were drowned in the depths of the sea.
  • He would raise awareness and educate society to be on guard against this evil as much as any evil, to be vigilant, to accept responsibility to change, to train children to love God and care for and respect one another, just as He taught them everyday of His life.
  • He would advocate for the human dignity and worth of all people, women included, as He did when He breached society’s laws by allowing the unclean woman, desperately hoping for healing, to touch Him, when He reached out to the Samaritan woman, who lived with a man not her husband, and when He died on a cross in our place.
Band of Sisters takes place in NYC. Do you think human trafficking is limited to large cities?

No. That is why raising awareness of the crime and education re. the methods used by traffickers is so important. Small, rural, isolated or poor communities are targets just as vulnerable as big cities. Traffickers often enter such communities with bogus offers of better jobs, modeling opportunities for young people, and offers for education. But those dreams are crushed when willing applicants are unwittingly sold as sex slaves or used for pornography, with no way to get back to their homes and families. In some cultures, once a girl has been so abused, she is no longer welcome to return to her family, thereby compounding the problem and sense of hopelessness. Education and understanding is desperately needed on all parts.

Issues of sex slavery and human trafficking are foreign to most of us and uncomfortable to discuss. How can Christians respond?

By speaking for those who have no voice. These are among the poor and needy of our day, in many cases the orphans that Jesus commanded us to care for.

We must remember that the discomfort is ours, and the desperate need is theirs. Being a Christian, a Christ follower, isn’t easy in a fallen world. Doing what Jesus did wasn’t easy or comfortable. He confronted demons and hypocrites. He stood against people who cared more about the monetary value of their livestock than they did about freeing one human being from demonic possession.

Jesus ate with “publicans and sinners” to the ruin of His reputation. Just as He is our example in loving one another and in protecting innocent young children, so He is our example in setting captives free, in loosening cords that bind, in rescuing women and children from prostitution, men from slavery.

In many countries of the world Christians pay with their lives for standing up for their faith and/or for protecting others. I’ve heard it said that only in America do we expect it to be easy to be a Christian. Talking about things that are uncomfortable to our sensibilities don’t seem so hard in comparison to the challenges our brothers and sisters in Christ face the world over.

Human trafficking and the abolition of slavery is such a huge problem, let alone rescuing and restoring its victims. What can I do to help?

First, learn all you can through reading and talking with individuals and organizations who have already joined the fight:
  • Google “human trafficking” to learn what is happening in the world.
  • Contact your local library, social services, churches or police force and ask what is being done in your community to raise awareness and prevent human trafficking. They can help you find books, organizations, and on-line information to educate yourself about:
    • The crime (what is human trafficking and where in the world it occurs—you will be astonished)
    • The people at risk
    • The methods traffickers use to capture and enslave
    • The tracking down, arrest and prosecution of predators
    • The rescue, restoration, and healing of victims
    • The fight to abolish slavery through legal means
    • The education of men and boys re. the dignity and worth of women and girls
    • Organizations and/or Individuals that are already working to do the above. (See my website at for a growing list of these sites. If you find more, please let me know so I can add them.)
  • Once you understand what organizations and opportunities are already in place, determine what you are able and equipped to do. That might include:
    • Work directly with one of these organizations, either in this country or in a foreign country
    • Validate, affirm, encourage and engage girls or women who are at risk or in the process of healing
    • Welcome strangers into your church as part of the church family
    • Take a rescued victim into your home or provide housing
    • Mentor a victim, or a girl or woman at risk
    • Help a woman find safe and gainful employment and/or child care
    • Help a woman applying for a job find appropriate clothing
    • Provide childcare and/or transportation when needed
    • Tutor a student, young or not so young and encourage hopeful options
    • Invite women or girls for a meal in your home or take them out for a meal or event, using the opportunity to reaffirm their worth
    • Provide assistance for medical care—practical or financial
    • Speak up when others make slurring or disrespectful comments re. women, immigrants, homeless, etc.—attitudes must change to make change last
    • Do not patronize stores, hotels, sporting events or other venues where you believe women or children are trafficked
    • Provide legal counsel, assistance or finances for same for victims
    • Write or speak out against trafficking
    • Hold public figures and men within your circle of acquaintance accountable for their actions toward women and children
    • Be vocal and proactive about the need to raise a generation of men who will not exploit women and children
    • Be vocal that the only way trafficking will stop is to eliminate the demand for supply
    • Support legislation to stop trafficking, to prosecute and to re-educate predators
    • Write letters of support and concern to elected officials re. human trafficking
    • Contribute financial support to one of the organizations that is already in place and helping
    • Create and/or support films, documentaries, plays, or various art forms that raise awareness or needed funds
    • Fund-raise for organizations that are helping
    • Help to educate publicly or privately those you know re. all of the above
    • Work with others to create new possibilities
    • Pray—continually
  • Most importantly, realize that while you can’t do everything, we can each do something. Together we will raise a symphony that must be heard.
How does your faith impact your writing?

My faith is part and parcel of all I do. While writing my first novel I learned that I cannot divide the heart God knit inside me, cannot separate what I write from how I live in response to Him.

That’s when I began praying, not just that the Lord would lay on my heart a “story,” but that He would lay on my heart His “purpose,” and a story to illuminate that purpose. Later I understood that “purpose” is what is known in writing circles as a “strong moral premise.”All the characters must respond to that premise in some way or other. It is what ties the story together. Faith weaves the moral premise in my life, and as I live out that faith—as I respond to my Savior—my own life story is written. 

Are you a plotter or a seat of the pants writer?

That’s a great question! My wonderful agent, Natasha Kern, is convinced I’m a “pantser.” I’ve thought of myself as a “plotter by force.” Over time, I’ve learned to plot enough to write a synopsis—but it’s like ripping teeth from their roots. I fear losing the passion for and organic nature of my story so am hesitant to commit or share details before writing a first draft. I’d much rather write a story and then severely revise and edit. But I’ve come to see that that is not always an efficient process—not for me and not for my agent or editors. The thing that’s helped me most is Michael Hague’s Six Point Plot Structure as he describes it in the DVD, The Hero’s Two Journeys, as well as The Moral Premise, by Dr. Stanley Williams.

Now I write a long and detailed—sometimes rambling—synopsis, then put it away, and only take it out if I find myself wandering off track. The finished product is often quite different from my original notes. 

What spurs your writing?

Writing has become my way of making sense of the world, of putting into perspective the struggles of humanity and of my own—past and present—of trying to see the world as God sees it, as He redeems it by pursuing and claiming one heart at a time. I want to know what gives Him joy, what breaks His heart—those are the stories that matter, the stories that bring me continually closer to Him.

Frederick Buechner expressed it best, “The place God calls you to is where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Finding that place spurs me on.

You can connect with Cathy Gohlke on her website and Facebook, and you can read my review of Band Of Sisters here.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Band Of Sisters | Cathy Gohlke | Book Review & Giveaway

Band Of Sisters
by Cathy Gohlke

{ About This Book }

Maureen O’Reilly and her younger sister flee Ireland in hope of claiming the life promised to their father over twenty years before. After surviving the rigors of Ellis Island, Maureen learns that their benefactor, Colonel Wakefield, has died. His family, refusing to own his Civil War debt, casts her out. Alone, impoverished, and in danger of deportation, Maureen connives to obtain employment in a prominent department store. But she soon discovers that the elegant facade hides a secret that threatens every vulnerable woman in the city.

Despite her family’s disapproval, Olivia Wakefield determines to honor her father’s debt but can’t find Maureen. Unexpected help comes from a local businessman, whom Olivia begins to see as more than an ally, even as she fears the secrets he’s hiding. As women begin disappearing from the store, Olivia rallies influential ladies in her circle to help Maureen take a stand against injustice and fight for the lives of their growing band of sisters. But can either woman open her heart to divine leading or the love it might bring?

{ My Thoughts On This Book }

This book moved me to tears. There are certain things I expect to encounter in my historical romantic fiction, and I'm sad to say that perception altering characters and narrative are not typically among them (though I have read some excellent exceptions lately). In Band Of Sisters, Cathy Gohlke brings to life an era in American history that is dark and full of human tragedy, and she does it in the most incredible and moving manner; simply incredible!

I relate to the fear and helplessness expressed by the main character and many of the other women in this book. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and exploitation, I care deeply about the issue of "white slavery" addressed in this story, and I am thrilled to see a novel come out that deal with these issues head on, and with incredible talent in the telling! Cathy has done a fantastic job, both in penning a compelling and gripping story that draws you in and connects you heart to heart with the young Irish immigrant, Maureen, and fills you with alarm and conviction as you realize that while the heroine is fabricated, the historical events are not. Women truly were abducted and forced into prostitution, and their oppressors did often get away with it. The most shocking realization, however, is that white slavery still exists all over the world.

The most moving moment in this story, for me, was at the very end, in the description of the Triangle Shirt Waist Factory fire. I remember reading about it in one of my history books as a teenager, but the factual nature of that tome failed to convey the horror and tragedy of hundreds of women and children leaping to their deaths rather than burn when the fire fighters could not reach the upper floors of the factory. A history book cannot send the scent of singed hair, the sight of arms crossed, hair streaming as a young woman plunges to the streets from six stories up, or the sound of thousands of onlookers crying and screaming as their loved ones perish.

It took me three attempts to read that scene, and I emptied my tissue box in the process. I have never, in all my life and years of reading, been moved to sob into my hands the way I was while reading that scene in Band Of Sisters.

I highly recommend this book to absolutely everyone! And I challenge you to look on it, not as just another great story, but as a challenge to find out how you can make a difference in the fight against white slavery.

{ About The Author }

Cathy Gohlke is the two-time Christy Award–winning author of William Henry is a Fine Name and I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires, which also won the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Book of the Year Award and was listed by Library Journal as one of the Best Books of 2008. Her newest book, Band of Sisters, released this month, September, 2012.

Cathy has worked as a school librarian, drama director, and director of children’s and education ministries. When not traipsing the hills and dales of historic sites, she, her husband, and their dog, Reilly, make their home on the banks of the Laurel Run in Maryland.

You can connect with Cathy on her website and on Facebook. Check back tomorrow for a special Q&A interview with Cathy Gohlke about her new book!

{ Buy This Book }

You can purchase this book here.

{ Win This Book }

Cathy Gohlke has generously offered a copy of Band Of Sisters to one of my readers here on Our Little Bit Of Wonderful! To be entered to win, simply complete the mandatory entry on the Rafflecopter form below, and be at least 18 years old (the winner may be from any location worldwide). Additional entry options will appear after you complete the mandatory entry, and you may complete as many or as few as you like for extra chances to win. This offer is VOID where prohibited by law. And don't forget to check out the author interview with Cathy, tomorrow, here on the blog!

{ Disclosure }

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own, and this post is in compliance with FTC regulations. Learn more by visiting my PR and Disclosure pages.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Is It Breakfast Or Desert? | Seneca Farms Oatmeal | Product Review

I've always loved breakfast, but I am a bit of a lazy morning person; while I love a good home cooked breakfast, I have a hard time motivating myself to whip up a batch of eggs and bacon. I even love oatmeal, but...well, like I said = lazy morning person.

So when I was given the opportunity to review Seneca Farms' new instant Oatmeal & Fruit cups, I jumped at it. Real fruit pieces in real oatmeal, no need to add water or milk, ready in less than a minute? Yes please!!

The first one I tried was the Apple Cinnamon flavor. Just peel off the plastic film, microwave for less than a minute, and enjoy! Don't worry, the metal ring is microwave save (no idea how that works, but it does).

I was extremely impressed with this oatmeal! Savory and sweet, hinting of cinnamon and redolent of hazy August afternoons in the apple orchard, this breakfast bowl could easily be a stand alone desert or a delicious topping on a bowl of vanilla ice cream.

The second flavor I tried was Vanilla Peach. I have never, in my entire life, been a fan of hot peaches, but this oatmeal blew me away. Incredibly delicious!! Moist, decadent, almost transcendent ~ I am suddenly a big fan of peachs, haha!! This oatmeal would also make a spectacular ice cream topping, or a stand alone desert.

You can find out more about Seneca Farms on their website, Facebook, and Twitter. These delicious 6oz microwavable cups come in 4 flavors ~ Vanilla Peach, Apple Cinnamon, Cranberry Apple, and Maple Brown Sugar ~ and you can find them at a large variety of stores nation-wide (find a store near you on their website).

{ Copyright 2012 @ Alena Belleque. DO NOT COPY. }

Unless you're made of stone, you're probably drooling over this fantastic oatmeal by now. Thanks to the fine folks at Seneca Farms, one lucky reader of Our Little Bit Of Wonderful is going to win a 2 pack of each of the flavors I tried out! All you have to do is complete the mandatory entry on the Rafflecopter form below (additional entries will appear once you do, and you can complete those for extra entries if you wish), be a resident of the United States and at least 18 years old, and cross your fingers!

{ Disclosure } I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using
Mom Blog Society Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. Learn more by visiting my PR and Disclosure pages.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Woodrow For President | Peter & Cheryl Barnes | Book Review

Woodrow For President
A Tail of Voting, Campaigns, and Elections
by Peter W Barnes and Cheryl Shaw Barnes

{ About This Book }

Written and illustrated by bestselling authors Peter and Cheryl Barnes, this adorable children’s book explains the presidential election process from start to finish. Woodrow for President is the story of Woodrow G. Washingtail, a little mouse whose parents dream he might one day be president of the entire mouse nation.

Woodrow grows up to be a kind, generous mouse who is loved by many people. He is encouraged to run for the presidency but first must choose a political party, debate his way through the primaries, and be chosen by the states as the candidate for the Bull Mouse party. In the general election he is up against tough competition from the candidate of the Country Mouse Party, Senator Rufus C. Tuftmouse, who created the U.S. Department of Cheese but, in the end, Woodrow wins and becomes the official president elect.

Woodrow for President will help children understand what all the hype is about this year as the country gears up for the presidential election. The book also explains why it is so important to get involved, volunteer and vote in presidential elections. Woodrow for President is a wonderful way for parents to educate their children about political parties, primaries, debates and all the other events that will be prominent this year.

{ My Thoughts On This Book }

What a fun book! Written in verse, it clearly and easily communicates the process of becoming the President of the United States. Cute illustrations, a "find the Secret Service mouse" picture hunt on each 2 page spread, and an entire section in the back of the book to continue the dialog between parents, teachers and students, this is not only a fun book that I believe children will enjoy reading, but it is a very informative and useful resource in the task of educating the next generation of voting Americans. Woodrow For President is definitely staying in my collection for the homeschooling years!

Read what other bloggers are saying about this book here.

{ About The Author }

Peter and Cheryl Barnes are the author/illustrator team behind many books featuring animal characters that teach children about history and government, including the bestselling House Mouse, Senate Mouse, which teaches how Congress makes our laws, and Woodrow the White House Mouse, about the White House and the job of the president.
Peter is a journalist and broadcaster who reports on public policy issues in Washington, D.C. Cheryl is an illustrator with a background in architecture. They live in Alexandria, Virginia, have two grown daughters, and are very proud grandparents of Tristan James Joyce.

{ Buy This Book }

You can purchase this book for $11.53 here.

{ Disclosure }

I received a copy of this book from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own, and this post is in compliance with FTC regulations. Learn more by visiting my PR and Disclosure pages.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Midwife Of Hope River | Patricia Harman | Book Review

The Midwife Of Hope River
by Patricia Harman

As a midwife working in the hardscrabble conditions of Appalachia during the Depression, Patience Murphy's only solace is her gift: the chance to escort mothers through the challenges of childbirth. Just beginning, she takes on the jobs no one else wants: those most in need--and least likely to pay. Patience is willing to do what it takes to fulfill her mentor's wishes, but starting a midwife practice means gaining trust, and Patience's secrets are too fragile to let anyone in.

The Midwife Of Hope River is, by far, one of the best books I have read this year! Harman's prose is incredible, full of rich imagery and poignant moments that will bring tears to your eyes and a smile to your lips. I have long been interested in birth work, and this moving story really cemented that desire in my heart.

Patricia Harman, CNM, has published in The Journal of Midwifery & Women's Health and The Journal of Sigma Theta Tau for Nursing Scholarship as well as alternative publications. She is a regular presenter at national midwifery conferences. Harman got her start as a lay-midwife on the rural communes where she lived in the '60s and '70s, going on to become a nurse-midwife on the faculty of Ohio State University, Case Western Reserve University, and West Virginia University. She lives and works near Morgantown, West Virginia, and has three sons. Read more about Patricia Harman.

You can connect with Patricia through her website, and on Facebook and Twitter. Read what other bloggers are saying about The Midwife Of Hope River here. Patricia is also on a physical book tour right now! Check out her tour dates and locations here to see if you might be able to meet her in person.

Disclosure:: I received a copy of this book from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own, and this post is in compliance with FTC regulations. To learn more, visit my PR and Disclosure pages.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Yard Sale Weekend

I woke up two Friday mornings ago with a great deal of excitement mixed with trepidation. It was yard sale day, and I had a lot to do before I would be ready. My tagging plans were derailed from the get-go, when Nick dropped my keys into the main pocket of the diaper bag instead of the small pocket on the front (and since searching for anything smaller than the Titanic in the big pocket is akin to trying to find a blue crayon in a bucket full of office supplies in the dark with your hands tied behind your back, I naturally assumed that he had left them on the credenza the night before since that was the last place I saw him set them), and I spent all day Monday locked out of my own house. The rest of the week went in a similar fashion, and by Friday morning I had only managed to tag one small box of items. But the happy news was that I had managed to get all of the yard sale junk over to my sister-in-law's house the previous evening, so while I still had to set everything up and finish tagging a bazillion things, at least all the hauling was already done.

Serenity woke up, her usual cheerful self, and promptly pooped like the end of the world for a solid 10 minutes while giggling and talking to herself. After 4 nights leak-free, Serenity managed to soak through my favorite of her sleepers (Oh, the poomanity, will the stains ever come out?), and was extremely amused by the whole thing. Jerry, her faithful and soggy giraffe friend, looked at me with something like resignation in his beady little eyes as she snarked on his nose and screamed happily at him.

Butters is always happy to see his baby in the mornings, and this morning he surprised her (and me) with a sneak attack ear bath and had to be chased off the bed. (Butters has a tendency to try and steal Jerry, so we keep a close eye on the two of them, otherwise we end up having to fish Jerry out from under the bed or the coffee table and wash him off so he's baby-safe again.)

Once Ren was dressed, and my lunch and the diaper bag packed, Butters went in his crate and Serenity and I took off in her new stroller I picked up for a steal at the Happy Kids Consignment Sale, run by my friend Tonja. Unfortunately, one of the front wheels fell off in route, and while my mother-in-law, Cindy, found it, it keeps falling off and we're back to needing a good stroller again. *sigh* Thankfully, we made it the last few blocks to my sister-in-law, Kristine's house with no trouble, and in time to set up for our yard sale!

Both Kristine and I thought we each had just a small amount of clothing and household goods to contribute to the sale, but we were a little off. Between the two of us (mostly me, I admit), we covered her entire front yard with stuff to sell!

Our first day, we only had 5 customers, and sold almost nothing. It turned out that both of our signs had blown down, and while her house is central it is off the beaten path a bit and no one knew we were having a sale! It was also a blistering hot day, and both of us got too much sun.

That night, we all had dinner down at Nick and Kristine's mom's house, which is only a few blocks down the street from Kris's place. Despite the heat, it was nice to take a walk together, and I always enjoy watching Cinda "help" her mommy push Nico in his stroller. Soon enough, they are going to need a double stroller! I can only imagine that next summer will be crazy-fun, wrangling all these kids together! *smiles*

Poor Cinda had a bit of a freak out on the way; she encountered a little girl with a Chihuahua, and when the dog saw Cinda it pulled it's leash out of it's owner's hands and started sniffing Cinda all over and jumping up. Cinda is little bit scared of dogs, and was crying and screaming, trying to get away from it! Kristine was able to snag the leash and the little girl too her dog in hand, and everything was fine. Cinda calmed down as soon as the dog was gone. I think she picks up on her mommy's mistrust of animals...

Serenity and Grama Cindy had a fun time talking to each other, and taking goofy pictures with the iPad (which horrified her poor Daddy, lol). It was nice relaxing after a long day in the sun, and not having to cook dinner.

Kristine and I ended up running down to my friend's 2nd baby sale of the season, and I picked up a really nice Baby Bjorn baby front pack, and was really excited about it until I found out that they're referred to as "crotch danglers" and are not good for the health of little baby hips. *bummer* On the bright side, a good percentage of the stuff I included in that sale sold!

The final day of our yard sale went much better, and we ended up selling a good chunk of stuff before packing the rest of it up and donating it to a local resale shop in a neighboring town. A couple of things came back home with me, that I know I can sell online, but from an entire room full of junk all the way down to a single half empty box is a big win in my book! Kristine and I decided that if we do another sale together next year, we'll host it at my house (huge shade trees and a covered porch!!), and much earlier in the season. Even though our sale ended fairly well, we still didn't get nearly the traffic we had expected, and while I'm glad all the rummage is gone, I do wish more of it had sold and less donated. All in all, though, a great weekend *smiles*