Monthly Archives: May 2014

Book Review: Hailee (Montana Skies series) – by Penny Zeller

Hailee by Penny ZellerBook: Hailee
Author: Penny Zeller
Publisher: Whitaker House
Date: January 2, 2011
Genre: Christian historical romance; fiction
Pages: 432
Price: $12.99 paperback; under $8.00 Kindle
My Rating: good clean romance and adventure

 

Hailee is book three in the Montana Skies series by Penny Zeller. You can read my review of book two, Kaydie, here.

In this volume we meet Hailee, an orphan with two younger brothers. Because they were left on their own, she took on the responsibility of her little brothers. Eventually, Hailee is separated from them through bad choices she made, and was taken to a home for delinquents. There her life is changed despite her rebellion.

We meet Hailee in 1893 when she is nineteen and setting out to make a life for herself as a teacher. Through her memories of guilt and shame, and her learning to accept God’s forgiveness, we learn about her past and her heartache over still not knowing the whereabouts of her brothers.

There is another main character in this story. Nate, although brought up in Boston’s high society, chose to live a much simpler life as a pastor in a small rugged town – much to the great displeasure of his parents. He loves his new life among the varied and interesting personalities in the little town in Montana.

Hailee and Nate come from very different backgrounds, so when their paths intersect their lives take an interesting turn. There is drama, danger, love, family conflict, and more.

The reader is invited along in the journey in a way that makes one unwilling to leave the story even when necessary. Penny Zeller created characters who are believable, scenes that are well-described, and unfolding drama that keeps the pages turning. She subtly presents the message of God’s love and grace in a gentle and convincing way, making this an enjoyable read. 

Although Hailee is book three of the Montana Skies series, the first two books are not needed to make this one understandable; the author neatly ties them all together. Having said that, once you read Hailee you will probably want to read McKenzie and Kaydie.

You can find Hailee listed on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

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Mother’s Day, and time away

To all my readers to whom this applies …

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY

This day is sometimes bittersweet. Today I visited my mother’s grave, not something I do often since her spirit is not there, but it seemed right to do today. Not sure why.    I miss her so much.  I miss her hugs, her gentle loving touch, her soft voice, her sweetness, her tears when she is touched by kindness.  I miss her.

I have heard from all four of my girls today, which is so nice for this mother’s heart. ♥♥♥♥

Time away…

Remember the trip I mentioned I would be taking this month? It happened this past week. Since it was on my week at Dad’s, my sister took the overnight shift so I could be free to go, and a morning shift was adjusted a little. It all worked out well.

On Tuesday I left Dad’s with my friend at 9:00 AM, went to her house for a few minutes, then on to the bus stop in town. Left there at 9:40 on our way to Moncton, New Brunswick. There were a few brief stops along the way, only one transfer, and we arrived at 4:00 PM. It was very good travelling and I even was able to read in my Kindle and not get motion sick — a huge plus for me! Yay! I’m making my way through a book I will be reviewing soon.

When we arrived in Moncton we walked from the bus stop (grateful for luggage on wheels) to our hotel – The Crown Plaza – where we rested a few minutes, then went down to the restaurant for our delicious evening meal. Back to our room where we got ready for the Steven Curtis Chapman concert, and then a taxi picked us up. The driver was friendly but sneaky, took us the long way around since we were out-of-towners.

The concert was worth the bus trip. It was Steven Curtis Chapman‘s first night of his tour in Canada, and he got off to a good start with loads of audience support. He had with him his good friend Geoff Moore, also a contemporary Christian singer, and the show was opened by Canadian artist Dan Bremnes, who is making great strides in the Christian music scene.  The concert was also to raise more awareness about Compassion and Show Hope through which orphaned children find their forever families through adoption. That part was emotional and well-delivered. 

Of course, I purchased some CD’s before our taxi ride back to our hotel. The ride back was much shorter, and that amiable taxi driver was surprised to receive a sizable tip. He was told it was because he was honest, but he looked a little puzzled at that explanation. 🙂

In the morning we received room service … both of us propped up against pillows on my bed and enjoyed a yummy breakfast. That was worth the trip, too! 🙂  After we checked out we moseyed on downtown and eventually sat at a sidewalk table and talked about the redesign of my kitchen. My friend is skilled in kitchen design, and my outdated kitchen needs it! When we had just enough time for dinner before boarding the 2:00 PM bus home we found a little eatery called Eva’s Restaurant. Oh my! It is just a wee little Japanese restaurant but that was the best meal I enjoyed on the whole trip! If you are ever in Moncton, look for this little place and tell Eva you were sent by the two ladies from Nova Scotia who ate there before catching the bus home. I think she will remember us. 🙂

The ride home was as good as on the way there, I got more reading done, and my friend and I had lots of laughs along the way. I am grateful for the friend He gave me so many years ago. That evening around 8:00 our husbands met us at the bus stop in town and actually seemed pleased to see us. 🙂 I went back to Dad’s for the rest of the week, but I must say, for two days I was wiped out. Even with the Lord’s blessings I find travelling to be exhausting.

I’m glad I went; I really needed the change since I seldom go anywhere. Now I am home for a week and glad to be here – although I have a lot of housework to do, much reading to catch up on, reviews to write, and so on, and so on …

How was Mother’s Day for you? Were you the giver or the recipient?

Do you enjoy travelling? Why or why not?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Book Review: I AM OTTER – by Sam Garton

I am Otter - by Sam GartonBook: I AM OTTER
Author: Sam Garton
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Date: April 29, 2014
Genre: picture book, ages 4-8; Preschool – grade 3
Pages: 32
Price: hardcover $16.99 US suggested price, but can be found for less
My Rating: amusing, amazing illustrations to go with a delightful story. Love it!

 

If you have never met Otter or Otter Keeper (Sam Garton) through the blog I am Otter: The Unheard Ramblings of a Modern Day Domestic Otter, then you really must remedy that situation and go there. (But wait! Please read my review first, of course.)

I don’t remember how I was introduced to Otter, but I’m glad I found her and Otter Keeper because I always enjoy reading about what new antics have occurred. The best news yet is this book: I AM OTTER. I had to pre-order and be patient, but when it arrived it was certainly worth the wait.

I AM OTTER by Sam Garton is a gorgeous book! Sam is both the author and the illustrator, and he certainly has found his voice and artistic talent. Otter has attitude and determination which come across in amusing mishaps. The detail worked into each illustrated page is amazing and entertaining.

Otter Keeper is very patient and tolerant. Otter is such a loveable character who is always getting herself into trouble of one kind or another, and Teddy is always getting the blame. For example, on the jacket cover Otter says: I hope you like the story! (And if you don’t it’s probably Teddy’s fault.)

Small spoiler alert … enough to tempt you: Because Otter Keeper, no matter how much Otter tries to prevent it, goes to work every Monday, and Otter and Teddy don’t have jobs, they decided to open a toast restaurant. Unfortunately, they immediately ran into problems. Here’s an excerpt: Next, Teddy hadn’t told anyone how much our toast would cost. As a result, no one brought any spending money, which led to some embarrassing situations. Finally, Teddy got several of the toast orders wrong. Some of the customers complained and had to be asked to leave the restaurant.   The customers are toys from Otter’s toy box, and the illustration is of a few toys having been escorted (tossed) out the window. Too cute!

There are such pleasing and amusing surprises to this story, I laughed out loud. When my grandson was here for a short visit the day my book arrived, he and I enjoyed reading I AM OTTER together. Every page has so much to see, and the situations created are truly funny. I love books like this.

Check out this book trailer and get a taste of I AM OTTER by Sam Garton.

If you are looking for a fun and entertaining picture book for a little someone special, I urge you to consider I AM OTTER by Sam Garton. When I asked my grandson to read my copy with me he didn’t want to then, so I suggested we take turns reading the pages. That was acceptable, but he got so into the story he forgot a couple of times it was my turn and kept reading. 🙂 Now that’s a great recommendation.  😉

You can find I AM OTTER listed on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!

 

 

 

Book Review: Cowboy Christmas by Rob Sanders

Cowboy Christmas by Rob Sanders
Book: Cowboy Christmas
Author: Rob Sanders
Illustrator: John Manders
Publisher: Golden Books-Random House
Date: September 11, 2012
Genre: picture book
Pages: 32
Price: $11.49 or less, in both hardcover and Kindle
My rating: A funny and colourful book that is enjoyable to read
 
 

 

I bought this book – Cowboy Christmas by Rob Sanders – as a Christmas gift for my grandson and borrowed it from him to review. He said he likes the book, and then enjoyed reading it to me.

Even though it currently is not in season, Cowboy Christmas is well worth the read anytime. Rob Sanders is expert with words, using some that will broaden a child’s vocabulary while enhancing the story. He has written such a cute twist on the idea of preparing for Christmas when things are not the same as one is used to having available.

Three days before Christmas four cowboys are in the desert – three are taking care of a herd of longhorn cattle and the fourth is the fatherly cook. The three worry that “Santy” won’t find them way out in the desert. They individually lament over being without a Christmas tree with decorations, yummy Christmas cookies to eat, and horses to dress up as reindeer to hitch to a wagon. Cookie (the cook) quietly convinces each that they can do that, and each makes the attempt – with hilarious results. For example, did you ever see a cactus Christmas tree with cans of corn hanging from it in lieu of popcorn? Rob Sanders wrote: Dub corralled cans of corn. “No corn popper,” he explained.

The surprise ending (for the young reader) is satisfying and yet leaves the reader imagining what is coming next beyond the end of the story. The illustrations by John Manders are colourful, funny, and well-matched to the story, adding great visuals to the descriptive words. 

Visit Rob Sanders’ very informative website (www.robsanderswrites.com) and check out the trailer for Cowboy Christmas, a book you may want to buy now for a young reader for Christmas – or anytime.

You can find Cowboy Christmas listed on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

The last one standing

It happened. The sad news we knew was going to come too soon was delivered. My aunt – Dad’s youngest sibling – passed away very early Tuesday morning.

Alzheimer’s disease.

This leaves Dad the last one standing. All his three brothers and his three sisters have passed from this life. 

The memorial service was held Saturday morning. Uncharacteristically, Dad was very quiet during our hour-long drive to get there. He was a little jittery at the service but held his composure. It was a lovely service. The reverend who conducted the service shared Scripture in a way I had never heard it presented at such a service – or maybe ever before. He brought it alive and spoke it in a way that should make its meaning very clear to most there; it was wonderful. What was shared about my aunt was very fitting and even funny. Everyone loved my aunt who could brighten any gathering, the mischievous one who always made people laugh, the gentle one with the positive outlook and sweet spirit.

At the reception afterward I knew Dad didn’t immediately know most people who came over to talk with him, and most didn’t realize they should introduce themselves to him to give him a chance to remember. I tried to clue them in, but looking at Dad you wouldn’t know there is anything wrong – in his late 80’s he looks years younger and is very spry for his age – so unless you know about the dementia you just … wouldn’t know at first. And he covers it well, with grace, and with humour.

We all made it through that morning quite well, despite our loss. It is always wonderful seeing family members we don’t see much, but is your family anything like ours? It’s usually at funerals that we see each other again. Over forty years ago my parents, sister, and I moved to this county (notice I said county, not country), which means we live farther from most of our relatives on Dad’s side. We used to have a family gathering every Canada Day, but that hasn’t happened for many years. On Saturday my sister suggested to some of our cousins that we have a ‘cousins day’, which she wants to organize for down our way one day this summer. It seems to be a favourable idea, even though they would have the longer distance to travel for the get-together, but if they’re willing it could be fun.

Out of sorrow will come something positive. My aunt would like that.

Do you have family gatherings or reunions? How do you handle distance from family?

 Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

 

 

Book Review: The Moon Coin (The Moon Realm series, book one) – by Richard Due

The Moon Coin, book oneBook: The Moon Coin (book one in The Moon Realm series)
Author: Richard Due
Illustrator: Carolyn Arcabascio
Publisher: Gibbering Gnome Press
Date: June 20, 2012
Genre: middle grade fantasy
Pages: 283
Price: paperback under $8.00 from sellers through Amazon.com, Kindle $4.00; Amazon.ca – paperback $14.60, Kindle under $5.00
My Rating: A captivating, dramatic, exciting fantasy that keeps the reader enthralled to the end
 

I received a copy of The Moon Coin from the author through Library Thing in exchange for my honest review.

It took me awhile to get to The Moon Coin on my R&R (read-and-review) list but once into it I stepped away from my usual habit of having two or three books on the go at once. This one, once I started reading it, wouldn’t let me go until I had reached the end, no cheating allowed. And once I reached the end I wailed, “Nooooo!”  Uh, yes, I wanted more.

The Moon Coin is a full course of detailed worlds with their populace and drama. It begins on Earth where we meet four-year-old Lily, and Jasper, her five-year-old brother, along with their parents, and their uncle Ebb with his  outlandish ‘tales’. Their mother doesn’t approve of his storytelling, but the children love to listen because the way he relates adventures is as if they were real to him, as if he had been there himself.

We then are taken from the introduction and meet the children nine years later to where the story really takes flight. There are strange creatures, a mysterious pendant, hidden places, time travel, danger, adventures, battles, and so much more.

The author, Richard Due (pronounced Dewy), debuted with this book, which is quite amazing. His worlds and their inhabitants are very well described and thought out in great detail. It is a most enjoyable journey if you appreciate a good fantasy. In fact, The Moon Coin was nominated in the 2012 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards and became a Gold Medal Winner!

You can find out more about the author Richard Due, on his website. While there check out the illustrations by Carolyn Arcabascio. You can also enter the Goodreads giveaway for your chance to win a copy of The Moon Coin at the end of May!

The Moon Coin is book one of The Moon Realm series. Book two has been released, books three and four are to be announced,  and others are coming.

You can find The Moon Coin listed on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂