Thursday, October 29, 2020

{ Cosmos by Ann Druyan - TLC Book Tours }


• Hardcover: 384 pages
• Publisher: National Geographic; Illustrated Edition (February 25, 2020)

This sequel to Carl Sagan’s blockbuster continues the electrifying journey through space and time, connecting with worlds billions of miles away and envisioning a future of science tempered with wisdom.

Based on National Geographic’s internationally-renowned television series, this groundbreaking and visually stunning book explores how science and civilization grew up together. From the emergence of life at deep-sea vents to solar-powered starships sailing through the galaxy, from the Big Bang to the intricacies of intelligence in many life forms, acclaimed author Ann Druyan documents where humanity has been and where it is going, using her unique gift of bringing complex scientific concepts to life. 

With evocative photographs and vivid illustrations, she recounts momentous discoveries, from the Voyager missions in which she and her husband, Carl Sagan, participated to Cassini-Huygens’s recent insights into Saturn’s moons. 

This breathtaking sequel to Sagan’s masterpiece explains how we humans can glean a new understanding of consciousness here on Earth and out in the cosmos–again reminding us that our planet is a pale blue dot in an immense universe of possibility.

Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

About Ann Druyan

ANN DRUYAN is a celebrated writer and producer who co-authored many bestsellers with her late husband, Carl Sagan. She also famously served as creative director of the Voyager Golden Record, sent into space 40 years ago. Druyan continues her work as an interpreter of the most important scientific discoveries, partnering with NASA and the Planetary Society. 

She has served as Secretary of the Federation of American Scientists and is a laureate of the International Humanist Academy. Most recently, she received both an Emmy and Peabody Award for her work in conceptualizing and writing National Geographic’s first season of Cosmos.


My husband and I are huge fans of anything to do with Space.  I don't think there is a space related movie or tv show that we haven't watched.

Cosmos was one of our favorite tv shows.

It was absolutely brilliant, giving us insight into space, what it is presumably comprised of and filled with interesting information that will make even the least space enthusiast, let their imagination run wild.

In this new book by Ann Druyan she takes us through many of Voyagers discoveries, and goes into detail about the possibility of space life, organisms in the remotest corners of the universe and weaves it all together with relatable connections to the life we lead today.

Her book is not just the usual space filled textbook or research document, it is a personal story of her journey through space discoveries, her marriage to Carl Sagan and the continuing work he left behind.

Using the cosmic calendar as a guide, we are taken on a voyage through space and time.  Ann writes in a way that reads almost like a novel which makes the subject matter understandable to those of us who are not quite versed in the world of quantum physics and so forth.

Gorgeous photography, a plethora of interesting what ifs and for sures, makes this one of the books you need to read.

I particularly enjoyed not only the more scientific side of the book, but also the personal side that gives us a little more insight into the mind of Carl Sagan, his life's work and the missions that both Ann and Carl were involved in.

 Thank you to TLC Book Tours and National Geographic for providing me with a review copy.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

{ Winter Storm.....what?!?! }


Sunday, the weather started getting cold. Not the usual October in Texas cold, where it gets to the high 60s and 70s, but I mean cold as in 30 degrees. 

_MG_9286 _MG_9289 _MG_9291 

The rain started coming down, and I remember sitting back and thinking "Oh this is perfect Fall weather, rainy, dark, just perfect to stay in, watch movies and snuggle under a blanket." 
And then Monday morning rolled around, and the minute I stepped out of bed, I knew that it was not only cold but freezing cold. 
The temperature was 24, with a real feel of 18. WHAT?!?!?!? 
The weather warnings started coming in, but honestly I didn't think it would get that bad.  I know, I'm one of those who doesn't really believe the meteorologists and thinks they often get it wrong.
 It kept getting colder, the rain kept coming down, and then by Monday afternoon it had switched to freezing rain.

By Tuesday morning, we woke up to a winter wonderland.

Beautiful, but, wow, everything was iced over.  We have so many broken trees on our property, I guess the weight of the ice was too much for the branches.  We will be out there this weekend chopping wood for the fireplace.


One thing we weren't counting on was the damage to our veggie garden. I knew that we would eventually face frost, later in the year, and we had planned on winterizing the garden, covering the veggie beds and such, but this winter storm came out of nowhere. 

My tomato plants are now completely gone, and it's sad because I had so many tomatoes on there still. Curt went out yesterday afternoon and harvested all the tomatoes. Of course they're still green, but I wasn't about to let them go to waste. I made a Green Tomato Sauce this morning, in the pressure cooker. 

I got two pint jars out of it, one I will can later today or tomorrow, and the other I will use for dinner tonight, since I'm making pasta anyway. 



My husband's work got cancelled, and thankfully Jasmine wasn't working yesterday either, but I guess everything just shut down, including schools. 

The roads were really bad, so much so that even our driveway was impossible to drive in. 



I've been loving these days when my whole family is home. I know it can get a little crazy at times, but I really love having my whole family around. 

I lock the door, make yummy food, bake good stuff and we just relax all day long. 



So that is what happened yesterday. Did school with Nick, Jasmine did her own thing, Curt did his school work and I just pottered around the house, made some burgers for dinner and some Portuguese donuts, which are called Bollinhos de Chuva. 
If I had to translate exactly it would be Rain Cakes. But they're just Rainy Day Donuts. 
They are very easy to make, but boy are they delicious and very dangerous to have around. Guess that explains why we don't have many left. Hahah 


 I will have the recipe on the food blog today. 
By the way, I've been trying to keep the blog updated, I know I don't really get comments over there, but that's fine, I understand. If I'm not updating and keeping up with the recipes, it's normal that traffic will eventually disappear. So I'm trying, my life is so busy lately and nothing like it used to be a few years ago. 
 I think when Curt was still active duty and we were stationed in Arizona, things were easier, which is so strange if you think about it, because both kids were little and in school. Usually that means a busier life, and I kept thinking once they are older I'll have more time. Nope! 
Their needs just change, so in some ways I feel like I have less time now than I did back then, which also means all the time I had to blog and try new recipes, upload the and so forth, is just gone. Maybe one day I'll get back to it, but maybe not. Only God knows the future right? 
Anyway, Curt is off to work today, the ice is completely gone, we just have rain right now, and the temperatures have raised slightly. We are at 48 degrees, which is cold but not that bad. 
It is now almost 11:30 in the morning, so I'm going to make another cup of coffee and a cheese and ham sandwich for lunch.  Then back at the computer to reply to some emails, and work on the new menu plan for the next two weeks.
I got some new of home Fall recipe magazines, and there are tons of yummy meals in there I want to make.  I actually have a huge list that I wrote down when I first looked through the magazines.  
The rest of the day is just more homeschooling, oh and laundry, I'm busy with laundry as always.
I hope you all have a blessed Wednesday, stay safe and stay warm wherever you are.   

Monday, October 26, 2020

{ Sisters of War by Lana Kortchik - TLC Book Tour }

• Paperback: 384 pages
• Publisher: HQ Digital (September 22, 2020)

*The USA Today bestseller!*

Can their bond survive under the shadow of occupation?

For fans of The Tattooist of Auschwitz and The German Midwife comes this unforgettable tale of love, loss, family, and the power of hope.

Kiev, 1941: Watching the Red Army withdraw from Ukraine in the face of Hitler’s relentless advance, sisters Natasha and Lisa Smirnova realise their lives are about to change forever.

As the German army occupies their beloved city, the sisters are tested in ways they never thought possible. Lisa’s fianc√© Alexei is taken by the invading army, whilst Natasha falls in love with Mark – a Hungarian soldier, enlisted against all his principles on the side of the Nazis.

But as Natasha and Lisa fight to protect the friends and family they hold dear, they must face up to the dark horrors of war and the pain of betrayal. Will they be strong enough to overcome the forces which threaten to tear their family apart?

Why readers love Sisters of War:

‘Captivating from the first page’

‘Powerful and heart wrenching’

‘A touching story, beautifully written’

‘Well-researched and fascinating’

Originally published as The Story of Us.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


About Lana Kortchik

Lana Kortchik grew up in two opposite corners of the Soviet Union – the snow-white Siberian town of Tomsk and the golden-domed Ukrainian capital, Kyiv. At the age of sixteen, she moved to Australia with her mother. Lana and her family live on the Central Coast of NSW, where it never snows and is always summer-warm.

Lana studied IT at university and, as a student, wrote poetry in Russian that she hid from everyone. For over a decade after graduating, she worked as a computer programmer. When she returned to university to complete her history degree, her favourite lecturer encouraged her to write fiction. She hasn’t looked back, and never goes anywhere without her favourite pen because you never know when the inspiration might strike.

Lana’s short stories appeared in many magazines and anthologies, and she was the winner of the Historical Novel Society Autumn 2012 Short Fiction competition. Her first novel, Sisters of War, was acquired by HQ Digital, an imprint of Harper Collins UK, in 2018 and later became the USA Today bestseller.

Lana also writes psychological thrillers under the pen name of Lana Newton.

Find out more about Lana at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.



Wow, and wow and another wow!
Maybe I am biased because the Holocaust is a subject I am very interested in.  Lately, I have been inhaling books, movies, documentaries and anything I can get my hands on, that pertains to the Holocaust,  Auschwitz and so on.

I knew that I would enjoy this book, before I even opened it to the first page.  

The cover itself is beautiful and immediately draws you in.  The story, well, two sisters caught in the middle of the German invasion.  Yes, that draws you in as well, but I have to say I wasn't prepared for how well written this book was going to be and just how much I was going to fall in love with the characters.

The two sisters, Natasha and Lisa are quite different personality wise.  While Lisa is more outgoing and outspoken, Natasha is the quieter one, more withdrawn, more cautious in the way she approaches life.  They've always been the best of friends, but as the invasion draws near, as they both grow up and are faced with difficult decisions, their bond is put at risk.

I will say that even though I thought I would like both sisters, I truly truly loved Natasha and quickly became attached to her.  Lisa on the other hand, I felt bad for her at first but then started really disliking her personality and her way of dealing with the harsh realities of war.

Lisa is engaged to be married, and has taken that relationship to the next level without her parents knowledge, obviously.  Natasha unwillingly becomes an accomplice in that situation.  We are sort of led to believe that it will just strengthen their bond and that nothing could ever come between them, but that changes the night that Natasha is out for a walk with their grandmother, and they are approached by a German soldier.

In the blink of an eye, their grandmother is shot by the German, and they are both saved by a Hungarian soldier who kills the German on the spot.  They decide to keep it a secret so that he doesn't get in trouble, the two fall in love which is predictable but nonetheless, I don't think it took anything away from the story itself.

The problem is that because of that fateful night, many young men are taken by the Nazi army, interrogated and killed in an attempt to find out who was responsible for the murder of the German soldier.  Lisa's fiancee unfortunately, is killed during this interrogation.

Lana Kortchik takes us through the intensity of the realization by Lisa, that her sister knew who the culprit was and allowed her fiancee to get killed.  The bond is irreversibly broken, so much so anger, resentment and even revenge comes into play.

It was a beautiful story that touches on the horrors of Germany invaded Hungary, the struggle to survive and a family pushed to their limits.

This is WWII historical fiction at it's best, and the author did a great job of researching the era.

 Thank you to TLC Book Tours and HQ Digital for providing me with a review copy.

{ Happy Homemaker Monday - 10/26/2020 }

Good morning everyone, hope you've had a blessed weekend.  
The temperatures have dropped here, and we are actually in the middle of a Winter Watch, with Freeze warnings as well.  Brrrr! 
Anyway, it is currently pouring it down outside, so I'm going to quickly get this post up and then go deal with the cat.  He goes a bit nutty when there are storms and can be quite destructive, unintentionally, as he climbs and jumps through everything in his path.

Hope you all have a blessed week ahead.

♥♥The Weather♥♥ 

It is currently raining and windy outside.  It is currently 35 with a real feel of 24, so yes, quite chilly.  

Monday - 36
Tuesday - 34
Wednesday - 42
Thursday -  54
Friday - 59
Saturday - 66
Sunday - 62

♥♥How I am feeling this morning♥♥

I am ok, slept really well last night.  Just a bit on the edge with Elliott at the moment because in the last few minutes he has climbed on my tv, knocked over a plant, jumped on my shelf and attacked my foot.  *sigh* 

♥♥On my mind♥♥ 

We have a lot going on pertaining to my mother in law's passing.  Just a lot of paperwork and decisions and things we have never had to deal with before, so there's a lot to think about. 

 ♥♥On the breakfast plate♥♥

I've just had my coffee with White Chocolate Raspberry creamer.  I'm thinking as soon as this post is up, I'll be making myself a nice big bow of oatmeal.  Perfect for this weather.  

♥♥Right now I am♥♥

Sitting on my bed, trying to work on this post with a crazy cat running around, and my big doggie on my lap because he is also afraid of storms. 

♥♥On my reading pile♥♥ 

Currently reading The Divine Revelation of Heaven and Hell and Trump's Pro Christian Accomplishments.  Also reading through Proverbs in the Bible.

♥♥On today's to do list♥♥

Homemaking.....Just tidying up.  I cleaned the house yesterday so not much to do aside from the usual daily chores.
Homeschooling.....Quite a few lessons to do today.

 ♥♥On my tv♥♥

My Portuguese Soap *Quer o Destino*.  Actually it is the last episode today, but a new one is starting tonight, so I'm hoping it is as good as this one.

Vlogtober videos on Youtube.

♥♥On the menu this week♥♥ 

Monday - Beef Stew, Homemade Bread, Salad  
Tuesday - Cheesy Baked Tortellini, Garlic Bread
Wednesday - Cowboy Burgers, Fries
Thursday - Spaghetti, Roasted Acorn Squash
Friday - Chicken Pot Pie, Salad
Saturday - Southwestern Corn Skillet
Sunday - Hearty Breakfast Casserole 

♥♥From the camera♥♥

My two boys ♥

♥♥Looking around the house♥♥

It is still really dark and we are only 20 minutes from 8AM.  Welcome to Fall!!!

♥♥New recipe I tried last week, or one that we really enjoyed♥♥

I tried a breakfast casserole and a new pumpkin pie using graham cracker crust.  I will have the recipes on the food blog sometime today. 

♥♥To relax this week, I will♥♥

Read, listen to the rain, take photos and do some baking.   

 ♥♥Something I want to share♥♥ 

This is such an interesting documentary.  The video is longer than the usual ones I share, but I think you will enjoy it.   


 ♥♥On my prayer list♥♥

My nephew's leg is healing nicely, thank goodness.
My brother Miguel's dog Jax is also feeling much better, so continued prayers for him.
Praying for my brother Paul and his family, unfortunately their dog Dexter passed away this weekend.
Our country, as we head into the elections.  That people don't forget to continue being human, to be compassionate and understanding of each other, and respectful of people's choices.
Praying for our President and his family, that God continue surrounding him with a hedge of protection, equipping him with the armor of God, and pouring the blood of Jesus over him and his family too. 

{ Clouds by Laura Sobiech - TLC Book Tour }

Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (October 13, 2020)

Originally published as Fly a Little Higher and now updated and revised to coincide with the film release of Clouds, Laura Sobiech tells the amazing, true story behind the song and the movie.

“Okay, Lord, you can have him. But if he must die, I want it to be for something big. I want someone’s life to be changed forever.” This is what Laura Sobeich prayed when she found out her seventeen-year-old son had only one year to live. With this desperate prayer, she released her son to God’s will.

At that point, Zach Sobiech was just another teenager battling cancer. When his mother told him to think about writing goodbye letters to family and friends, he decided instead to write songs. One of them, “Clouds,” captured hearts and changed lives, making him an international sensation.

This story is a testament to what can happen when you live as if each day might be your last. It’s a story about the human spirit. It shows how God used a dying boy from a small town in Minnesota to touch the hearts of millions—including top executives in the entertainment industry, major music artists, news anchors, talk show hosts, actors, priests and pastors, and schoolchildren across the globe. And above all, it’s an example of the amazing things that happen when someone shares the most precious thing he has—himself.

“I’m not a musician; I’m just a filmmaker, and my prayer is that you get an opportunity—both through the reading of this beautiful book and the watching of our film based on it—to experience what I will fail to put into words: the magic and inspiration of Zachary David Sobiech.”

—Justin Baldoni, filmmaker and director of Clouds


Purchase Links


About Laura Sobiech

In 2009 Laura Sobiech was living a very average life. She was married to her husband, Rob, for 20 years, had four children and was working two part-time jobs and volunteering as a firefighter/EMT at her local fire department.

Then, on a gloomy day in November 2009, everything changed. Her fourteen-year-old son, Zach, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare form of pediatric bone cancer. As Zach battled cancer, Laura blogged about it on their Caring Bridge website.

In May 2012 Zach learned he had only a year to live and, as a way to say “goodbye” to his family and friends, he wrote a beautiful song called “Clouds.” The song touched not only family and friends, but through the help of a team of people who believed in Zach’s music and message, it reached millions of people across the globe.

In May 2013 a documentary called My Last Days: Meet Zach Sobiech was released on the Soul Pancake YouTube channel. The video went viral and reached over 12.3 million people within months of it’s release. And the numbers continue to grow.

The week of Zach’s death, on May 20, 2013, his song reached #1 on iTunes and made it’s way up Billboard’s Top 100 chart, debuting at #26, and topping the Rock Digital Downloads at #1.

Laura’s memoir, FLY A LITTLE HIGHER, How God Answered a Mom’s Small Prayer in a Big Way, is about her family’s amazing, joyful and heartbreaking journey with Zach through cancer and his incredible last year of life.

Learn more about Laura, Zach and the book at #flyhigher



Goodness, this was not an easy book to read.  I think maybe because of the state of mind I am in at the moment, with my mother in law's passing due to cancer.  I wasn't ready for another book that focused on death and cancer, and especially one that dealt with the passing of the author's 17 year old son.
Laura Sobiech wrote a memoir in 2012, it was called FLY A LITTLE HIGHER, How God Answered a Mom’s Small Prayer in a Big Way. 
Through Zach's last year of life, she kept a record of the family's journey.  She was able to get it all down and write her way through the pain and fear.  This is not an easy book, it is not something that you go into and can detach yourself emotionally.

We are all mothers, we have children, and none of us want to think of our children ever having to face such a horrible merciless disease.  I don't even know what to say, it is heartbreaking to think about, but I also think it is important to understand that through these diagnosis, are families that are fighting not only a disease, but the brutal effects it has on everyone around the sick person.

Zach didn't give up, even to his last day.  He was a fighter, and he chose to face the cancer head on, write music and laugh to the very end.

Laura does a phenomenal job of sharing every moment, her thoughts and feelings, the ups, the downs, the fight and the tough decisions that none of us ever have to think about. 

Clouds is the name of the song that Zach wrote during his illness.  It became an immediate hit and is now the name of the film that is being released by Disney, which tells the story of Zach Sobiech.  I want so badly to watch the film and I know I will, but I'm not sure I am ready for it at this moment.  The book itself was heartbreaking to read, and again, I am smack dab in the middle of grieving my sweet mother in law's passing, just a month ago.

Thank you to TLC Book Tours and Thomas Nelson for providing me with a review copy.

Friday, October 23, 2020

{ National Geographic's America The Beautiful - TLC Book Tours )


• Hardcover : 400 pages
• Publisher : National Geographic (October 20, 2020)

This glorious book of photography, featuring more than 200 magnificent National Geographic images of all 50 states, is a gift-worthy celebration of America’s unique natural and cultural treasures.

America the Beautiful showcases the stunning spaces closest to our nation’s heart–from the woods in the Great Appalachian Valley that Davy Crockett once called home to the breathtaking sweep of California’s Big Sur coast to the wilds of Alaska. It also celebrates the people who have made this country what it is, featuring a wide range of images including the Arikara Nation in the early 1900s and scientists preparing for travel to Mars on a Hawaiian island. Culled from more than 130 years of National Geographic’s vaunted archives, this provocative collection depicts the splendor of this great nation as only National Geographic can, with a dramatic combination of modern and historical imagery–from the creation of architectural icons like the Golden Gate Bridge and Lady Liberty to the last of the country’s wild places currently preserved in our national parks.

Organized by chapters focused on region (west coast and the Pacific, east coast, the south, and the Midwest) that are themselves inspired by verses of the original poem America the Beautiful, this book also features a moving introduction offering perspective on the country’s unique journey. You’ll also find behind-the-scenes commentary from the world-renowned photographers who captured this unforgettable imagery, and observations from the conservationists, activists, and historians who help keep America beautiful today. Profound and inspiring, this is a book for everyone who has ever marveled at the beauty of the United States.

Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble




I have always thought America was one of the most beautiful countries in the world, but my goodness, National Geographic does a phenomenal job of showcasing just how gorgeous this nation really is.
Have you ever just wanted to sit on a couch, and flip through endless stunning photos of all the different regions in the US?  It is like taking a virtual tour while never leaving your home.
The book is divided into 4 chapters, highlighting the North, South, East and West.  But it doesn't just show us what the areas look like, it is filled to the brim with fascinating facts, and even comment from local residents.
If you've ever wanted to do a road trip across the country, this book will help you plan one, no doubt.
I spent a few hours just paging through, coffee cup in hand.  I saw areas I had traveled through, and others that I have only dreamed of visiting.
America The Beautiful would make a gorgeous coffee table book, that your family and friends would surely enjoy.

Monday, October 19, 2020

{ Happy Homemaker Monday - 10/19/2020 }

Good morning everyone, welcome back.
It is  a pretty chilly Monday morning, well, chilly for us here in the South.  It is 46 with a high of only 65 today.  I'm ok with that.

I hope you've all had a good weekend, hope you got plenty of rest and are ready for the new week ahead.  
I need to get dressed and get Jasmine off to work, so I'm not going to blabber on about anything, but rather get right into our Happy Homemaker Monday.

♥♥The Weather♥♥ 

It is just 60 degrees so it feels amazing outside.  The rest of the week we are staying in the 60s and 70s, which means I no longer have to walk around feeling like I'm melting.   

Monday - 65
Tuesday - 79
Wednesday - 85
Thursday -  87
Friday - 62
Saturday -  62
Sunday - 78

♥♥How I am feeling this morning♥♥

I am a bit tired, but feeling good considering yesterday I was sick in bed with some sort of a stomach bug going on. 

♥♥On my mind♥♥ 

I am starting a list of all the projects we want to do around the house.  I'm going to do it room by room so that it will be easier to check off the list as we go.

 ♥♥On the breakfast plate♥♥

Cup of coffee with Sugar Cookie Creamer, that's all for now.

♥♥Right now I am♥♥

Sitting on my bed, watching some Vlogtober videos on Youtube, and working on this post.

♥♥On my reading pile♥♥ 

Currently reading The Divine Revelation of Heaven and Hell and Trump's Pro Christian Accomplishments.

♥♥On today's to do list♥♥

Homemaking.....Vacuum and mop the kitchen.  Laundry to put away and the usual tidying up.
Homeschooling.....American Government Unit Test, Earth Science

 ♥♥On my tv♥♥

My Portuguese Soap *Quer o Destino*.

Vlogtober videos on Youtube.

♥♥On the menu this week♥♥ 

Monday - Onion Steaks, Mashed Potatoes, Cheesy Cauliflower
Tuesday - Taco Pan, Salad
Wednesday - Cheesy Baked Tortellini, Garlic Knots
Thursday - Beef Stew, Veggies
Friday - Chicken Pot Pie, Salad
Saturday - Southwestern Corn Skillet
Sunday - Hearty Breakfast Casserole

♥♥From the camera♥♥

Wrapping up a book to mail off for Paperbackswap.  Love using this website to trade my used books for ones I want.

♥♥Looking around the house♥♥

It is still dark, both kids are asleep though Jasmine will be off very soon to get ready for work.  Curt is off to work already, and both Marley and Elliott are asleep as well.  

I love Fall mornings, crisp air, slow start, and the smell of coffee permeating the air.  

♥♥New recipe I tried last week, or one that we really enjoyed♥♥

Nothing new last week.  Have a few coming up from one of my new Gooseberry Patch books. 

♥♥To relax this week, I will♥♥

Read, read and read.  Really enjoying reading again and my new books should be coming in.  I had a few credits left on Paperbackswap so used them to order 4 books. 

 ♥♥Something I want to share♥♥ 

I bring you a shorter video today, but really interesting nonetheless.  Pringle of Scotland: Short Film: The History of Hand Knitting. 


 ♥♥On my prayer list♥♥

My nephews broken leg.
My brother's dog Jax, he has a pulled muscle on his back.
My other brother's dog Dexter who is fighting cancer.
Praying for our President, for protection over him always but especially the next few weeks. 

Friday, October 16, 2020

{ Breathe Again by Stacy Henagan - TLC Book Tour }


Publisher: Thomas Nelson (September 22, 2020)

What Do You Do When It Seems God Hasn’t Come Through for You?

When the miracle-working God whom Pastor Stacy Henagan loved and served did not answer the prayers on behalf of her terminally ill one-year-old daughter as expected, she was left crushed with grief and struggling to understand.

  • How could a loving God allow this to happen?
  • What do you do when it seems God has let you down?
  • Is God trustworthy?

Rather than choosing to remain in overwhelming pain and doubt, Stacy emerged with a much greater belief that God is good and trustworthy, even when we don’t think His plans make sense.

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

About Stacy Henagan


Stacy Henagan is copastor of Keypoint Church in northwest Arkansas, a multicampus church she founded with her husband, Casey. Stacy also hosts an annual women’s conference and speaks at other events in the United States and overseas. Stacy and Casey have four children: Haven, who is waiting for them in heaven, and Holland, Hayes, and Hudson.

Connect with Stacy

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


I received this book, a few weeks before my mother in law passed away.
I knew it would be good, but I had no idea just who much it would come to help me, especially in the moments where the grief felt overwhelming.
Stacy and her husband Casey were over the moon happy, with their little girl Haven.  She was everything they had ever dreamed of.  And then one day, just out of nowhere, their little girl becomes ill.  They take her to doctors who don't seem to think anything is serious and they are sent home with their little girl, only to continue watching her deteriorate.
Stacy makes the decision to trust her instinct and take her baby back in.
Haven is just a year old, this shouldn't be happening.  But one doctor delivers the shocking news.  Their little one has a brain tumor, and worse than that, it is cancer and the diagnosis is grave.  Haven is terminally ill.
Stacy and Casey are pastors, they preach about faith, about trusting God's plan, about staying focused, not worrying and leaving it all in His hands.  But now they are facing their worst nightmare, so how do they reconcile the news they receive with the loving God they follow?
There is a very poignant moment in their journey, right in the beginning, when they are in the hospital room with Haven before surgery.  Stacy is holding a sleeping Haven, and her husband Casey is across the room.  He turns to her and says that no matter what happens, they will trust God and not turn their backs on Him.  He asks Stacy if she is in agreement.
At that moment, her flesh speaks louder than her spirit and all she can do is cry.
It is that battle between handing over control to the God we know will take care of us, or staying stuck in the horrifying fear of what is happening to them, that I found so relatable.
My mother in law got a stage 4 diagnosis.  My heart and soul told me to give it to God and let it go, no matter what the outcome was.
My human side fought it and felt selfish, not wanting to let her go, not wanting to accept the possibility that what we were praying for, full healing and a miracle, would culminate in her passing instead.
Stacy does a brilliant job of taking us through her grief journey and teaching us how NOT to turn from God but rather turn towards Him when circumstances get tough.
I can not relate fully to Stacy and Casey because I have not gone through their situation, but I have lost family members and know full well the process, the inner struggle, the fear and the anger and the what if's.
This was such a beautiful book and it helped me immensely through my mother in law's passing.  Sunday will be a month since she left us, and yet it feels like it just happened yesterday.  
Accepting life's hard lessons and losses, is not something any of us want to go through and as hard as it is to go through them, they have a way of making us stronger and growing our faith.   Faith in the midst of disappointment, of what seem like unanswered prayers, that kind of faith that tears you apart and builds you back up, stronger than ever before and closer to God.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

{ Daughter of Black Lake by Cathie Marie Buchanan - TLC Book Tours }

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Riverhead Books (October 6, 2020)

In a world of pagan traditions and deeply rooted love, a girl in jeopardy must save her family and community. A transporting historical novel by New York Times-bestselling author Cathy Marie Buchanan.

It’s the season of Fallow, in the era of iron. In a northern misty bog surrounded by woodlands and wheat fields, a settlement lies far beyond the reach of the Romans invading hundreds of miles to the southeast. Here, life is simple–or so it seems to the tightly knit community. Sow. Reap. Honor Mother Earth, who will provide at harvest time. A girl named Devout comes of age, sweetly flirting with the young man she’s tilled alongside all her life, and envisions a future of love and abundance. Seventeen years later, though, the settlement is a changed place. Famine has brought struggle, and outsiders, with their foreign ways and military might, have arrived at the doorstep. For Devout’s young daughter, life is more troubled than her mother ever anticipated. But this girl has an extraordinary gift. As worlds collide and peril threatens, it will be up to her to save her family and community.

Set in a time long forgotten, Daughter of Black Lake brings the ancient world to life and introduces us to an unforgettable family facing an unimaginable trial.

Social Media

Please use the hashtag #daughterofblacklake, and tag @tlcbooktours, @riverheadbooks, and @cathymbuchanan.

Purchase Links

Penguin Random House | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Photo credit Heather Pollack

About Cathy Marie Buchanan

Cathy Marie Buchanan’s previous novels, The Painted Girls and The Day the Falls Stood Still, were both New York Times bestsellers, with The Painted Girls named a best book of the year by NPR, Good Housekeeping, and Goodreads. Buchanan’s work has been translated into nine languages. She lives in Toronto.

Find out more about Cathy at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.


For the previous excerpts:
Savvy Verse & Wit - Excerpt #1
Lit and Life - Excerpt #2
The Lit Bitch - Excerpt #3
Reading Reality - Excerpt #4


The loop of gut was doubled in such a way that by sliding the knots, it could be expanded to twice its size. He slipped the loop over her head and adjusted the knots so that the amulet hung at her throat.

She imagined going from roundhouse to roundhouse as she col‑ lected for the evening’s feast, the amulet in plain view on her neck. At each door, eyes would fall to the gleaming silver, and then a little smile would show what the matriarch handing over a clay flagon of wheaten beer had figured out. Devout—a hand—had drawn the attentions of Young Smith. He had recognized her piety, her skill, her place as apprentice healer and chosen her above any other maiden at Black Lake.

As Devout and Young Smith intruded on the woodland’s quiet with idle talk—the feast, the boar Young Hunter had speared, the late‑night merriment to come—she felt moisture collect at her hair‑ line. This, when in his absence, she had pulled her skin cape tighter against the woodland’s chill. When he wiped his brow, she saw that it glistened, no different from her own, and her heart fluttered. Oh, but he was humble as stone. And handsome, too—warm eyed, full lipped, broad shouldered—this boy she had never dared consider, this boy who had singled her out.

Eventually he said, “I should go,” but his feet remained rooted. Itll be my first Feast of Purification.

“Yes,” he said.

“Your second,” she said and thought herself daft. Boys attended the feast from the age of thirteen, and girls only after they began to bleed with the new moon.

He nodded, and her eyes fell to the woodland floor. “Tonight, then?” he said.

She forced herself to look up, but his warm eyes were on her and her gaze flitted to beyond his shoulder. “Tonight,” she said and lifted a hand to touch his arm, but too late. He had turned away.

When she could no longer make out his retreating back, she again put her fingertips to her lips and then the woodland floor. Before she had fully straightened, she heard the song of a bullfinch— a string of quick chirps broken by a longer, lower one. It was Arc— a boy, just her age, whom she had sowed and reaped alongside since childhood—calling to her. Should she answer, repeating the song, as was their custom?


Want to

Into the Hall of Books for Excerpt #7 (October 19th)
She just loves books - Excerpt #8 (October 20th)
Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile - Excerpt #9 (October 21st)
Kahakai Kitchen - Excerpt #10 (October 22nd)


What a fun wonderful read this was.
Cathie Buchanan takes us into a magical world during the era of iron, just think Britannia and somewhere along there.  Historical fiction, that pretty much sealed it for me, and I knew immediately that I had to get my hands on this book.

Imagine if you will a bog, a small settlement of simple nature loving people who just want to go about their days, do their chores and live life as simply as they can.  Unfortunately there is the constant looming threat of the Roman invasion.

The Romans have been inching their way across the land, taking everything within their sight.  Other authors would have ran with that, the Romans and their conquests.  Cathie chose to go the opposite direction and focus more on the Druid side and the dwellers themselves, and boy am I glad she did.

From the moment I read the first page, I was hooked, and I'm not just saying that to try and convince anyone that they need to read this book, I am saying that because I picked it up about an hour before my bedtime thinking I would read just a page or so.

2 hours later I was still engrossed in the story and quite frustrated that I had to force myself to set it aside for the night.

If you love historical fiction and fantasy and druids and so forth, then yes, this books is absolutely for you.

The characters are lovable, they're the kind that you root for and just want to jump into the pages and walk along for a chat.  The story itself is fascinating, a young girl with visions of the future, the bog dwellers way of life, a time in history that isn't talked about ad nauseum like others are.

The vivid imagery painted by Buchanan is like none other.  You can almost see, feel and even smell the area around you.

So who exactly are we following along the story?

Smith, Devout his wife and their daughter Hobble.  Hobble is a seeress with an incredible gift, and pretty soon she has a vision of the Roman invasion coming to their bog.  

The story shifts back and forth between Devout the mom, and Hobble her daughter, both women devoted to Mother Earth and their family.  What I love is that we get to see the daily going ons inside a an iron age bog, and we get to be privvy to their innermost thoughts and desires.

A story of coming of age for both mother and daughter, choices that were made, a bond between family and insight into a fascinating time and era.  It has it all.  

Daughter of Black Lake is by far, one of the best books I have read.  

Thank you to TLC Book tours and Riverhead Books  for providing me with a review copy.