Unwrapping the Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp | Book Review

I love Christmas. Everything about Christmas. I know I’ve gushed before, but I can’t help it. It’s such a beautiful time of year. I love the family times that come with the holidays too. The traditions, the laughter and the love. So when I come across something that makes all those things even deeper, I’m happy to share about it!

Based on the overwhelming success of The Greatest Gift, Ann Voskamp has expanded her presentation of the timeless Advent tradition of the Jesse Tree so families can celebrate together. Each day, families can read the provided Scripture passage (in connection with the original book), engage with a specially written devotion to help children of all ages understand the Advent theme for the day, and participate in suggested activities to apply the theme.

This special edition is beautifully illustrated. It can serve as a precious guide to help recapture the sacredness of the Advent season and to help the entire family understand and celebrate the epic pageantry of humankind from Adam to the Messiah.

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This is such a beautiful and lovely book for a family to go through at Christmas. Discussing important life lessons and key bible stories, this will definitely provide a deeper and more real understanding of God, Jesus and the Gospel for young kids. With beautiful and bold colors and illustrations, it’s a fabulous book I can see drawing families closer together every holiday season.

Each day has a scripture reading, a short devotional, thoughts to discuss and family activities. Not only that, but when you buy the book, you get access to ornaments for your family’s advent tree. So yes, this is wonderful book to add to your family traditions!

What’s a family tradition you have during the Christmas season?

(Thank you to Tyndale for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Christian Books

Pre-Release Party for Price of Privilege Series by Jessica Dotta!

If you’ve been around for the past year, you’ve heard me share about my love for Jessica Dotta’s debut series, Price of Privilege. The first two are already out and when you read them you forget all things, like sleeping and eating. How important are those really though?

Anyway, I’ve been ANXIOUSLY awaiting the final in the series (January friends, we’re almost there) and I can’t wait to read it! I didn’t get a chance to post a review about the first one (I read it for the INSPYs and adored it), but I did for the second, Mark of Distinction (you can find my review here), so be sure to check it out if you’re on the fence.

AND GOOD NEWS!! The first in the series, Born of Persuasion is FREE for all you e-readers through November 15th! You know what you should do? Download it as fast as you can!

Here’s some enticing graphics for y’all, just in case my non-stop love of these in the last two paragraphs hasn’t convinced you ;)

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Where to grab this freebie: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | CBD

If you’ve read the first two, can we PLEASE talk about them in the comments? SO MUCH to discuss!

Fun Finds for the Booknerd #20

October 2014 Fun Finds 2

Tomorrow I’m headed to Chicago and I’m super excited! My body will probably hate me though, because I’m going from Texas “Fall” (which equates to 80s right now) to the temps where the low is in the 40s with possible rain. No ma’am. So please forgive me if my tweets are full of my woes in cold weather. We’ve always had a difficult relationship, meaning no me gusta. But since I’m flying that means one thing: Skymall! Can’t wait to see what gems await, like this guy. Maybe I’ll even find some future Fun Finds. Until then, here are a few :).

1. Mr. Darcy Proposal scoop neck t shirt. Not only is the t-shirt design cute, look at that font and it’s one of Mr. Darcy’s greatest lines. So yes, I want this in my closet. $24.00

2. ‘I Cannot Live Without Books’ print poster. I knew I liked Thomas J for a reason – looks like he knew a thing or two about happiness as well as Presidency. :) $15.00

3. Big Cozy Books. How cute are these??? They’re great for kids, but let’s be honest internet, I want one (Or two :).

4. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings: Deluxe Pocket Boxed Set. This just came out! Look at how pretty it is! Each book features a leatherette cover with stamped title and all four books are held in a leatherette bound box with gold foil stamping. So yes, I need to add this to my collection. $32.56

5. Harry Potter inspired Glasses Cookie Stamp. This is obviously the perfect tool for your next HP marathon. Lots of cookies and lots of movies make for a good weekend. $11.95

Are you a cold weather fan? I admit, I don’t mind it if I’m in my house warm and cozy and don’t ever have to leave :). How about these fun finds? Any you like?

RECAP: The Walking Dead Episode 503 or as I like to call it “Don’t Eat Our People”

Welcome to another Walking Dead recap! As always, this post has spoilers from the episode, so if you haven’t seen it yet, feel free to read previous recaps first!

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Well, I’m going to have to ask our Walking Dead people to maybe not keep opening with absolutely DISTURBING opening scenes. The close ups of the Termys snacking on Bob really had to stop. Plus, as if we needed another, we got a few more examples of how creepy Gareth was. Ew. Ew. Ew. Remember when he said he can’t wait to try Carol? I mean stop.

Side thought: When Gareth mentioned them making markings, do you think that is what Morgan is following? And where the hey is he?

When Bob started crying, I was sad, but as soon as it switched to a laugh, I knew my theory was right!

HE WAS TAINTED MEAT!!! I have to be honest, I was cracking up quite a bit at Bob yelling out “TAINTED MEAT!!” I’ve never been so happy to see one of our people bit. Not really, but you know what I mean. He died later in the episode, but that was a good death Bob, a good death. I was just starting to really like him too. Figures he’d be killed off.

Before they found out what happened to Bob, Sasha is out by herself calling Bob’s name. Girl, why did you go out by yourself? Recruit people. Geez. Then she goes a little crazay with Father G. I thought she might stab him. I know he’s shady, but hear his story first! Then Rick gets all Rick and is up in his face, forcing a confession. The big confession? He kept the doors locked. I knew it! Clearly he’s still dealing with the guilt. Did anyone else hear him say they were scared after they learned Atlanta was bombed? Did he mean like a bomb bomb or when everyone turned?

Before he went a little nuts with the red handle machete. Photo by Gene Page/AMC

Before he went a little nuts with the red handle machete. Photo by Gene Page/AMC

While Father G is working through his breakdown, there’s some mischief outside and the crew runs outside to find Bob on the ground. They drag him inside, there’s some shots fired and as Rick runs back inside, there’s a mysterious large A painted on one side of the building. What does it all mean?!

Poor Bob has to share his insane story and the group learns that Carol and Daryl drove off. Then we have the weekly make-you-cry scene when he has to show the group that he was bitten. Poor Sasha.

Remember the times I’ve said I’m not a big fan of Abraham? Well, the next scene added ammo to that. We see show down of Abraham and Rick over leaving and who gets the bus. Glenn is the voice of reason and reminds good ol Abe that leaving in the middle of the night is probably not the best idea. We also see that Rosarita and Eugene have a backbone. Oh wait…just kidding, they don’t. What ever Abraham says apparently goes. Lame.

After a few more near punches, they agree to stay through the night and battle the Terminus folks. Then they’re off. As Sasha takes care of Bob, he tries his “good things in every situation” game. You gotta love Bob for that. And….now I’m totally going to miss him :(

They are plotting what to do next and plan to go on the offensive. Tyreese has no input expect telling Sasha no. I can understand Sasha’s anger, but I also understand Tyreese’s point of spending those final moments with Bob. But then, oh snap! I thought when she gave Tyreese the knife, it was to help him kill those folks. Instead she wants him to make sure Bob doesn’t turn.

Quick question: Why must everything happen in the middle of the night?

You annoy me. Photo by Gene Page/AMC

You annoy me. Photo by Gene Page/AMC

Then the majority of the group leaves to attack and of course Gareth and the rest of the man eaters head towards the church. I still don’t understand the “A.” Would they forget where the church was? As they saunter on in, I realized I forgot Carl was left behind. Oh my word and Judith too. Gareth announces they are armed and have I mentioned HE IS CREEPY? Why did they leave them behind??? My heart could barely handle that scene.

Of course Gareth knows all the big guns left, so while they’re in the room and Gareth is trying to get them out, I couldn’t breathe. Any time Rick and crew wanted to come barging would have been fine by me. Seriously my heart, my stomach and my breathing patterns were not doing well during those 10 minutes.

Then Judith cries, so they know which door to open. Just as they are about to open the door, you see two Termys go down. To which I yelled out FINALLY!

I hope you didn’t want those fingers Gareth because a bullet took them out. As he was trying to keep himself alive, I had to ask, why did he always go back to what he used to do? You turned looney buddy, so is doesn’t matter that you used to help people. Oh, how cute, he tried making promises about not harming them again. Finally, Rick did what he needed to do – he used the red handle machete to kill Gareth (poetic justice!). I have to admit, I thought it was a bit excessive on how they killed them. Yikes! The good news is Michonne got her katana back, so there’s that.

Then, internet, comes all the goodbyes to Bob.

“I just want to say thank you. Before the prison I didn’t know if there were any good people. I didn’t know if anybody was left. You took me in. Cause you took people in. It was you man…..They shouldn’t end who you are. And that is just this man’s opinion.” Bob

“I’ll take it.” Rick

I HOPE SO RICK. Don’t turn Gov/Gareth on me.

The good that comes out of this bad? Poor Bob doesn’t get to answer – his final moment was laughing though. Poor Sasha. She has to see her man die. Then big brother Tyreese comes in and takes care of the hard part. You guys, I don’t know how I’m going to handle when one of my favorites dies.

We see Abraham and crew grabbing the bus to go to D.C. Y’all, HOLD UP. GLENN AND MAGGIE ARE GOING WITH THEM? NO!! You can’t split up the group. No no no. The trio of bad hair can go riding off solo…why are they leaving? Beth is still out there!!! That ruined my night.

“Nightmares end, but they shouldn’t end who you are.”

We close out the episode with Father G talking with Michonne about the nightmares and screams he still hears and she tells him eventually it won’t be all the time. We hear some noises (and I laughed at how fast Father G booked it back into the church) and I’m not going to lie, a huge sigh of relief expelled from my entire being when Daryl appeared (side note: Daryl can never die). His response to Michonne about Carol’s status has me 100% nervous. Who is with him??? Do we lose our people?! And now I have to wait a whole week…

I was surprised Terminus folks were done and gone rather quickly. I thought they were going to be there for a while, but I’m glad they’re not. Now the whole season is a great unknown! Alright, what are your thoughts? Join in the discussion below or on Facebook!

Update: After a few chats this am, I discovered I missed the whole note from Abraham to Rick on the map. He earns a couple points back for apologizing. ;)

(If interested in previous recaps and Walking Dead discussions, just go here!)

Lizzie and Jane by Katherine Reay | Book Review

If this were, say, a pictorial review, it would look something like this:

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You know it’s a good book when…

All the buzz you have heard about Katherine Reay’s Lizzie and Jane is 125% true. I want to hug this book and tell everyone to read it. Right now. Sigh…where to start…where to start? I’ll start by saying this is most definitely one of my favorite books of 2014.

Sometimes the courage to face your greatest fears comes only when you’ve run out of ways to escape.

At the end of a long night, Elizabeth leans against the industrial oven and takes in her kingdom. Once vibrant and flawless, evenings in the kitchen now feel chaotic and exhausting. She’s lost her culinary magic, and business is slowing down.

When worried investors enlist the talents of a tech-savvy celebrity chef to salvage the restaurant, Elizabeth feels the ground shift beneath her feet. Not only has she lost her touch; she’s losing her dream.

And her means of escape.

When her mother died, Elizabeth fled home and the overwhelming sense of pain and loss. But fifteen years later, with no other escapes available, she now returns. Brimming with desperation and dread, Elizabeth finds herself in the unlikeliest of places, by her sister’s side in Seattle as Jane undergoes chemotherapy.

As her new life takes the form of care, cookery, and classic literature, Elizabeth is forced to reimagine her future and reevaluate her past. But can a New York City chef with a painful history settle down with the family she once abandoned . . . and make peace with the sister who once abandoned her?

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Y’all. I laughed out loud, I wiped away tears quite often and then thought of certain parts and started laughing all over again. I finished this book in one sitting. I only moved from the couch once while reading, but only because I needed water (I didn’t want to pass out and I was parched). My stomach was screaming at me, but that didn’t matter. I needed to finish.

For all you foodies, get this book! Oh my goodness, the way Reay described the food was so delicious I wanted to make all the things. But that would have turned into a disaster, so I just went back to reading instead. I’ll be waiting for the release of the official Lizzie and Jane cookbook though…hint hint publishing world! :).

Not only is Reay an incredible and talented writer, quickly drawing in the readers and creating characters you absolutely adore, but this story is something everyone can relate to. It’s about family, about relationships, about life. Having an older sister who I love and adore, a story about sisters (even if their story is different from mine), hit home. Plus, having experienced major health scares with both my parents, one being my Dad getting cancer when I was a teenager (I’m thankful everyday for God’s healing in both), probably explains my waterworks while reading this book. ;)

But even if you haven’t dealt with these specific issues and your family dynamics are very different, this story is one you need to read. We all have relationships in our life that may have brought hurt or we were the reason for hurt or any number of things. Yet, what’s beautiful is it’s never too late to seek healing and redemption.

Plus I heart Nick!

Lizzie and Jane officially releases next week, so you’ll probably want to pre-order today. For real. Like right now.

As mentioned this is one of mine, but what are some of your favorite reads of 2014?

Where to buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Christian Books

(Thank you to NetGalley for the copy in exchange for my honest opinion)