Friday, April 22, 2016

Join Becky Wade for a Facebook Party May 5!

I'll be reviewing Her One and Only later on, but I wanted to let you know about the release party coming up on May 5 with Becky Wade, the author!

wade event promo - fb 

A female bodyguard plus her star NFL client plus danger equals a great recipe for romance! Her One and Only, book four in Becky Wade's Porter Family novels, releases May 3. To celebrate, Becky is hosting an author chat party on her Facebook page on May 5 at 5 PM PDT/8 PM EDT. Join Becky for an evening of book chat with other bookworms and prizes.

Plus a portion of all pre-sales and sales the release week of Her One and Only will be donated to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. For more details on how to purchase a copy, click here.

wade 400 - fallen heroes

About the Book

After ten years in the NFL, super star Gray Fowler is accustomed to obsessive fans. But when Gray starts receiving death threats from a stalker, his team hires an executive protection agency to guard him until the culprit is caught. Dealing with bodyguards 24/7 is a headache, especially when one of them is a young, beautiful woman. How can a female half his size possibly protect him better than he can protect himself?

Dru Porter is a former Marine, an expert markswoman, and a black belt–none of which saved her from disaster on her last assignment. In order to rebuild her tarnished reputation, she’s determined to find Gray’s stalker and, since relationships between agents and clients are forbidden, avoid a romantic attachment between herself and the rugged football player with the mysterious past.

Yet every secret that leads Dru closer to the stalker also draws her closer to Gray. As the danger escalates, they’ll survive only if they can learn to trust their lives — and their hearts — to one another.

Learn more and purchase a copy.

April E.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Have you picked up your shield and sword today?

  Photo & Art Credit: Unknown Source

I have searched the internet - trying to find out who took this beautiful photo, and who wrote or spoke this quote. I couldn't find an answer. I found variations of it, including some with a quote I didn't like as much. But none of them had any attribution. I'm going to take a risk and share it because I really want to talk about this picture.

I saved this picture to my computer's desktop. I made it my facebook cover photo. When I look at this picture, I don't see a girl just putting on a crown, or straightening it. It is more than just a pretty picture that says "every woman is a princess".

I see a woman of God closing her eyes to the lies that are assaulting her. She is breathing deeply in the Grace of God, His peace, His love, and reminding herself that her true value comes from being His child. His salvation covers all her faults and sins. His forgiveness wipes clean all the guilt and shame.

She is clean. She is whole. She is beautiful. She is strong. She is loved. She is NEVER alone.

And as she receives that strength, that peace, she reaches up and straightens the crown that has been knocked out of place by the trials of the day. She stands up taller. And then she opens her eyes, ready to take on the world again.

The best way to do this is to spend time in God's Word. To spend time praying, and listening to praise music. When we let ourselves get too busy, when we avoid spending time with God, we are inviting those lies to attack us. We're letting down our guard.

What this little girl needs ... is a shield. She isn't just a pretty princess. She is a warrior - a woman of God - with the shield of faith and the sword of truth at her side each and every day. How often I forget to pick up my shield and sword, to defend my crown.

 Photo & Art Credit: Unknown Source

What about you?  Does this picture speak to you the same way it speaks to me? And have you picked up your sword and shield today?

April E.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Review: Restore My Soul - a coloring book devotional journey

Restore My Soul devotional coloring book by Ann-Margret Hovsepian
 I've really enjoyed collecting inspirational coloring books for myself, and purchasing them for my older children, as well. I was the high school student and college student that still colored in my own coloring books. It took me years to hand over my Precious Moments and Garfield coloring books to my kids. I'm so thankful that mindful and more complex coloring books for adults are gaining popularity!

Restore My Soul is more than just a coloring book, however. It's a devotional, with coloring pages to accompany each of the  devotions. These 40 pictures and devotions are written and illustrated by Ann-Margret Hovsepian. (On a side note, after receiving Restore My Soul, I'm going to look into her girls' devotional books for my daughter.)

A photo posted by April E (@elcloudapril) on

Each devotional is laid out in a two-page spread. The devotional reading is printed on the left, on the reverse side of the previous coloring page, and the coloring pages are on the right side. The book is square, just under 10 inches by 10 inches. The paper is thick, though I haven't tried using gel pens or markers in it. I have stuck with colored pencils.

A photo posted by April E (@elcloudapril) on

Ann-Margret's illustrations are varied. Some are more complex, some have less to color in. Some have blank spaces for you to write your own thoughts, and others have words and Bible verses already in the coloring page. Most of the pages have a curving, flowing, feel to them. Some of the pages have a more geometric shape or pattern, but not the majority of them. There are blank pages in the back of the book where you can create your own illustrations, as well. You can view sample excerpts from Restore My Soul at the Tyndale website. (Click the pdf button under the cover's picture on the left side.)

The devotional readings each begin with a Bible verse, and then an anecdotal story with application for your life. The devotional ends with a suggestion to pray about or meditate on (not in the Ohm-y zen way) as you color the page next to it. Sometimes you are directed to add your own thoughts to the image.

I wouldn't consider this a regular devotional. After all, I don't have time to color a page completely every day. But I like that when I want to sit down and color for awhile, it has an accompanying devotional and thought to focus on while I color. It's a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon or Friday evening. Or to unwind and color even for a few minutes after the end of a long day of homeschooling.

April E.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Review: Pressing Pause by Karen Ehman and Ruth Schwenk

A photo posted by April E (@elcloudapril) on

I was initially drawn to Pressing Pause by its book description: "Kids bickering? Jam Packed? Dishes and laundry both piled high? Perhaps it's time you pressed pause." 

A photo posted by April E (@elcloudapril) on

Obviously the author had been peeking in my windows and suddenly I needed to read this devotional written just for moms like me, who needed to take a moment in the chaos of everyday life to re-focus and refresh. Because when my kitchen looks like that, and my kids are fighting with each other, and arguing with me about chores ... the last thing I usually think about is digging into God's Word. I either turn into drill-sergeant-mom, get grouchy and snappy, or go into avoidance-mode.

I have a lot of devotional books in my home. I have some for Christians in general, some specifically for women, some for homeschool moms, and a couple for moms in general. Most of them are paperback, and none of the ones written for moms are very deep. Pressing Pause, on the other hand, has a beautiful hardcover, with a ribbon bookmark built in. It's the perfect size for holding, with font that's easy to read. There is a neatness to the book that is appealing when the rest of your house is messy. I mean, can we just admire the nice, white pages, the pretty leaf print at the top, and the fact that nobody has drawn in it? (yet)

A photo posted by April E (@elcloudapril) on

Each devotional begins with a Bible verse, unwraps into a devotional lesson, then closes with a prayer and some questions to really help you apply the lesson. There are a few lines at the end of each devotion where you can write your answers if you want. I have an issue with writing in devotions, because then I feel I can't re-use it again later, so I prefer to journal my thoughts in a notebook instead. Some of the devotions are light and refreshing. Others are more challenging, like the one I read this week about parenting in unity with your spouse. Ouch ... and very timely!

I am enjoying these short devotions. I can sneak into my bedroom for five minutes and just take some time to focus on God's plan for my life, and his heart for me as a mom. I can pray and breathe in some peace ... until someone bursts in with the news that my preschooler needs her bottom wiped or the toddler has a poopy diaper. Deep breath, one last prayer, and back into the fray.

Pressing Pause will make a lovely Mother's Day gift for the moms in your life: new moms, older moms, working moms, stay-at-home moms. Give them the gift of a few moments peace, a few moments to stare at a clean, white page, and read life-giving words!

April E.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Better Together: Because You're Not Meant To Mom Alone - my Review

A photo posted by April E (@elcloudapril) on

Momming is hard. It just is. We pour out our lives on a daily basis for our families, often neglecting ourselves. We don't take care of ourselves, we don't rest, we don't nurture friendships with other women. But we should.

Jill Savage is a mother of five, and she's walked that road. Developing friendships with women didn't come naturally for her, but she realized it was important and pushed herself to find her mom tribe. Her daughter, Anne McClane, grew up watching her mom invest in and benefit from these mom friendships. Now, as a wife and a work-at-home mom of two, she is having to grow her own mom tribe. Each of them share their experiences and their challenges in Better Together: Because You Aren't Meant To Mom Alone.  

Better Together begins with building a case for why women need real, in-person, local friendships. There are benefits that come from these skin-on relationships that can't be replaced with social media and discussion groups on the internet. Jill and Anne then discuss ways to find potential friends and develop those friendships. Yes, it is a bit of Friendship 101, but sometimes we need to be reminded of how to make a connection with a stranger or acquaintance. I really enjoyed reading about their different styles of mothers and personalities, and even learned a few things I hadn't really thought about before. The majority of the book focuses on ways to actually live out those friendships in difficult times, through life struggles, health problems, conflict, and just the busyness of life.

In other words, Better Together is a how-to book for taking the MBF (Might Be Friends) moms in your life to the next levels: TBF (Trying To Be Friends), GGF (Good Girl Friends) and BFF (Best Friends Forever). I love the ideas in each chapter to inspire me, because I am just too brain dead to think about growing friendships most days. Even with their ideas, I'm going to have to work up the energy to try to implement them. I'd probably better start with prayer for God to open my eyes to opportunities.

So if you're a lonely mom trying to make connections in your community, or a mom wanting to bring together some other moms for a group study, Better Together is the perfect book for you. Learn from other moms who have built their mom tribes through trial and error.

I also have to recommend you go to Anne's Everyday Small Things blog and subscribe. She has a free gift of phone wallpapers for moms. I subscribed, downloaded the two wallpapers, and changed my phone right away!

April E.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Curriculum Sale: History, Literature, and Vocabulary! REPOST

Reposting this with reduced prices!

I'm cleaning out my shelves and trying to just keep the items my children are actually going to use. It also helps buy what I need for next year, like Teaching Textbooks 7th grade set. 

All prices listed below include the cost of media mail shipping within the US. If you have any questions, just leave a comment or email me.

Greek Morpheme Lessons: It's NOT Greek to Me!

This set includes the Instructor's Manual, the Student Book, the CD-rom which includes lessons, self-review, and transparencies.  I also have the USB thumb drive that contains the same information as the CD-rom in case you don't have a disk drive in your computer. These are barely used. 3 pages of the student book had pencil writing, which I erased. Sells for $80 as a complete set, but I am only asking $35  $25 postage paid with media mail shipping.

PENDING: A Beka World History and Cultures for 10th grade

We used this for two of our daughters before deciding to use a different company's product. This 3rd edition set includes a good used condition student textbook, the answer key, the tests with map projects book, the test/map project answer key, the quizzes book, and the quiz answer key. I do not have a specific teacher's book, but we used it successfully with two students anyway. I am asking $30  $25 which includes the cost of media mail for this set.

  SOLD - Critical Thinking Press' World History Detective Book One

The World History Detective is in like new condition. We did not write in the book, though it is intended to be used as a text and workbook, all in one.We also only completed a few lessons from it, as it was a review item. The answers to the worksheets are included at the back of the book, so there are no other books required. Designed for 6th through 12th grade, though it would only stand alone as a full curriculum for grades 6 - 9. Sells for $35 new plus shipping, and I am asking $20 $18 postage paid with media mail shipping.

SOLD - The Book of the Ancient Romans Set

Memoria Press has re-published this textbook by Dorothy Mills, creating their own student guide and teacher's guide to go with it. These books are also in like new condition, with no writing at all. This set sells for $40 new and I am asking $25 shipped via media mail postage.

  SOLD - American Literature by James P. Stobaugh

This set includes the student book and the hole-punched teacher's guide which I have placed in a nice 3 ring binder. This is a very well-written, high quality literature program for high school students. This is in like new condition, though it might not be the latest edition. The curriculum sells for $60 new (or $45 from Rainbow Resources) but I am asking $30  $25 which includes media mail postage for the set.

As stated earlier, all prices include media mail shipping within the US. If you have any questions, just leave a comment or email me.

April E.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Book Review: Playing the Part by Jen Turano

Jen Turano has become one of my new favorite authors for light-hearted, humorous, period adventures. I don't enjoy sappy romances. I am pretty picky about historical fiction, as well. But I love Jen Turano's romantic-comedies with a splash of mystery ... all set in the Gilded Age of late 1800s New York City. Jen Turano's books are their own genre.

A photo posted by April E (@elcloudapril) on

Playing the Part is the third book in the A Class of Their Own series. In this series, three ordinary girls and one match-making benefactress each find the love of their lives - somewhat unwillingly, through adventure and disaster, and always with witty dialogue. This final book features Lucetta Plum, former Southern Belle, now belle of the New York theater stage. Lucetta is beautiful, brilliant, strong, and fed up with gawking admirers. Unfortunately, one of her admirers has become dangerous and Lucetta is whisked away to hide in a castle belonging to the mysterious Bram Haverstein.

Unfortunately, it soon becomes clear that Bram is another one of Lucetta's admirers, which seems to put a hole in Abigail Hart's plans to wed her young friend to her grandson Bram. But unlike her other admirers, Lucetta finds herself drawn to Bram, even while trying to hold him at arm's length. But Bram still has his work cut out for him, proving to Lucetta that he sees her as more than the fainting, weak, damsel in distress she plays so frequently on the stage.

Just when it seems things MIGHT be working out for Bram and Lucetta, the secrets of Ravenwood Castle begin to unravel. Will Bram and Lucetta each be able to get past the secrets of their past that are driving a wedge between them?

Playing the Part is full of fun, romance, and adventure. Who can resist a historical romance with a mysterious eye patch, a haunted castle, a woman-hating goat, midnight walks in Sleepy Hollow's cemetary, stolen jewels, a dangerous enemy, and a bloody sword falling out of a fireplace? Not me.
I hope this isn't the last book of this unique historical, romantic-comedy genre from Jen Turano.

April E.