A Cinderella Christmas by Amanda Tru

 

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My Review:

When I picked up this book, back around Christmas time, I assumed it would be a light, happy, fun Christmas read. I didn’t think it would have a life changing message. I wanted to review it so that others would look it up!

In the story, it begins with a car accident, and one that is the characters fault. She struggles with the guilt of it, even though it was an accident. When she is distressed, no one stopped to check on her. She made the comment in her journal about how many times she walked by someone or walked away when she should have spoken up. The story goes on to show how her thought on that, changed many lives, from young to old.

I read this book last week, and yesterday, I noticed a girl sitting on a bench. She looked very serious, almost upset. I smiled at her and our eyes caught. Before I could stop myself, I asked her, “Are you ok?”

She smiled and I realized she was probably just deep in thought and I moved on. But she seemed relieved to be noticed, someone cared… I don’t know her story and likely never will, but the book gave me a lesson that sometimes it is the little things that speak to someone.

If you are looking for a fun inspirational read, check this one out.

 

A Cinderella Christmas 

https://amzn.to/2wz3W4W

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The Devaluing of the Fiction Story

Once upon a time there was a fiction story written. It was taken from true facts, stories and the many experiences of the author on the topic. The readers rejoiced to see the story come to life and feel as though they experienced it.

But the naysayers came up to say, “Is it a true story? If it is fiction we cannot have it. We need to read true stories.”

The fact of the matter is, most truth is stranger than fiction. If you have read a fiction novel and it made you look up the facts, it has done its job. The author likely created the story with facts, and made up a story around it. Other times a fiction story is written with true facts that cannot be revealed as the truth.

I wrote a fiction novel that will never be published, based off of life experiences I had. At one point, I shared a portion of it with someone and some of the comments were laughable. The points they called out as unrealistic and too much fiction, were facts and experiences that had happened to me. I realized then that I could never publish a non fiction book of my life or people would do this even more so.

Yes, I have had an odd life. It is not one you would read everyday, as even to myself when I start to repeat what I have experienced, I stop and think, “How on earth?”

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When you read a fiction novel, instead of thinking, “Is this a true story?” look at the facts that it is based on and what you can learn from it. If you find yourself irritated by fiction, take some time to look at your life and why that is.

Fiction at times, can be the most truth telling about a life. It is often protecting those that cannot share their stories in the most pure form.

When you critique a book, realize to look at it in a critical format, without partiality.

  1. When was the setting of the book?
  2. Were times different then than now?
  3. Why am I assuming that I know more than the author that spent many, many years of research before writing this book, without looking it up? (Always look it up before you critique, I learned that the hard way).
  4. Distinguish that fiction allows liberties and not everything has to be factual, but you want to figure out the difference, usually by reading the authors notes.

These are helpful when you post a book review or critically offer suggestions. Fiction is valuable. Let’s stop putting it in a secondary place value.

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Veiled in Smoke by Jocelyn Green

 

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Description

My Review:

This novel takes us to the Great Chicago fire, to give us an inside view of other stories happening at the same time. The eye opening experience of soldiers suffering from PTSD or “Soldier’s Heart”, was really sad, but also so educational. You live through the trauma of the fire with the characters, see what they saw, and live it. The trauma from the fire, also demonstrates a great example of PTSD from a traumatic event as well.
The book is well written, well researched and highly enjoyable. It has one of the most beautiful covers ever as well. This author takes her time on research, and while some of her books have a small romance thread, this is a historical novel, not a romance. It would appeal to both men and women, in my opinion.

I obtained this book from the publisher. The opinions contained herein are my own.

 

This book is available for purchase wherever books are sold. It is also available on audio. 

Veiled in Smoke 

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Homeschooling: How is it done?

Education looks different for everyone.

How I do it may not work for you. Sometimes I am not sure if it is working for me. But everyday I seek to perfect it, and make it better.

I know a lot of families that make education their secondary priority. Homeschooling or traditional schooling, it doesn’t matter, it happens in both. School is not the priority and the kids end up getting the short end of the stick.

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Homeschool Basketball team top in West side of State

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Homeschoolers play competitive Sports

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Learning how to care for trauma victims

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Titanic Tea

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Book Club

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Workhouse Kitchen Diorama

These are a few photos of some of the things we do with homeschooling. What you don’t see here is the nitty gritty part of the days. I am seeking constantly to make sure my children are doing their work and staying on top of it. I have one away at  a university in his Junior year, one that is working on his own business and for a local company, and two in high school. My homeschooling days are winding down, and I have learned some valuable lessons.

  1. Sometimes doing your best is not good enough. What I mean by that is that if you are struggling to keep up, your kids are all not getting things done, it is time for outside help. I know, I know. It is expensive, you don’t have the money for it, and all that. Your kids are worth it. If you don’t want them to think you neglected their education, don’t neglect this.
  2. Teaching other peoples kids is easier than teaching your own. Maybe trade off with someone, join in teaching classes and send your kid to someone else’s class.
  3. Sports helps kids learn better. Exercise can work out a lot of pent up emotion and work out some of the struggles that stop their brain from working.
  4. If nothing is going right today, push through. Don’t put off for tomorrow. You will just end up farther and farther behind as something will always come up. Make it different than you tried, use videos, books, interpretative dance, music, whatever, but do something every single day. What? There is no behind in homeschooling? I am sorry, but there is.
  5. If you can’t get school done at home, find a school that works for their needs, hire a tutor or something, but don’t give your kids the short end of the stick because you can’t do it.

Now, time to take my own lessons and apply them this week. =)

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Failure?

What is failure?

To me, I see it is in the eyes of the beholder.

We look at what someone else did and we see they have failed to do what we believe they should have done.

In another’s eyes, they may be happy with what is being done, and irritated by what the first person expected.

So, did we fail? Or did we succeed?

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For me, this picture represented some of the produce I grew this summer. For an accomplished gardener, it may have been a failure.

It was a success for me.

In our lives we will have people that speak into them. They will speak into our lives telling us what we did right and what we did wrong. More often, it is easier to hear what we did right, but what will stick with us is what we did wrong.

I was hammered by opinions and talk these last few weeks. It was overwhelming to the point that I realized something. There comes a point where it becomes about putting someone down, without building them up. There are some amazing people that cared, spoke up and really fought through to make sure people heard that they loved enough to strive for the truth.

There were others that do not do this.

It is hard to go into the next week without seeing failure. It might have been that grade you got on a test. It might have been the friend that told you that you had poor style. It may have been the sermon at church talking about how to have a perfect marriage, when yours is less than perfect. Failure.

I know I learned with my kids that if all you focus on is punishment, you will never reap the reward of your child coming to you when they messed up. What they expect from you is punishment. But when you have build them to the point that when they mess up, they admit it, humble themselves and learn from it, with natural punishments rather than forced ones, they learn to trust.

A group I visited online earlier was discussing things in the world, that are pretty standard. The group defended speaking poorly of someone, because they looked scary to them. The words were cruel and hateful, in any form, let alone someone who was claiming to be a supposed follower of Someone that never spoke like that. My comment was deleted, along with some of the hateful comments, but the shame I carried remained. I stopped though to think, maybe the fear that bespoke the response this person had came from someone who felt they had failed. They were only shown hate towards those that didn’t match perfection, and therefore knew no different.

It made me sad for them.

Failure is a state of mind or being.

As I face this next week, I am going to remind myself that I am not perfect. I don’t expect myself to be so anymore, and I do not need to fear punishment. We can go through life and make mistakes, own them and move forward. Our lives can be better for learning through peaceful correction and love. The hate does not have to rule that drives us to feel we failed.

 

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Silencing those that Speak Up

In my last post, I spoke on fake support. This one goes along with that a bit, in silencing those that speak up.

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When you look around in  a room full of people, what do you see?

You see people.

When you are speaking, you are often speaking from your own experience and may use phrases that to you are clear. You think the person in front of you is coming from similar beliefs, background and therefore will take what you say the same way.

I would love for you to stop, think and listen more before we use phrases that silence.

It could be a topic that encompasses any subject, polarizing or not. You may be in a place where you think everyone is anti- abortion, and make a comment, “Only an insane person would ever consider an abortion.”

You do not know who you are speaking to and if that was something that they have experienced. It shuts down relationships that have any depth.

On Social Media, when you post praising someone that has abused others, defend them and claim that “It was in the past.” or “It was not like it seems,”, you tell the people in your social circle that have been abused that they cannot trust you. If they came to you, and told you of abuse they were suffering, would you say, “Abuse is such a buzzword these days. Everyone has been “abused”.”

I would hope not. But when you say it online, or in passing conversation, someone that has experienced abuse hears that you do not believe her. She is not going to be able to come to you for support.

I know, I know. Many people will say that they have freedom to speak, they should be able to say what they want on their own places without having to think about everyone else in the world.

But is that really how it should be?

Everyone has filing cupboards in their head, or at least I do. You have files of people you like, but they are not safe people to tell any info outside the surface level. When I hear statements that shut others down, I add them to the file.

It doesn’t mean I am not around them, but I am not going to ask them for help when I am in trouble.

Our lives are short. We never know when the end will come. If we want to be trustworthy people in this life, think before you speak.

A few practical ways you can do this.

  • Use supportive words.
  • Don’t assume political parties or affiliations
  • Do not use shaming words like “Buzzword” or “Drama Queen”.
  • Don’t hide your discrimination or racism in your faith.
  • Say, “I hope anyone that is struggling in that way feels I can be a support even though I have never been through it.”

 

 

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The Joy of Falling by Lindsay Harrel

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Description

 

My Review:

 

Sometimes you wonder if a favorite author can top her last book. This author did just that. She captured the grief process for the two women, life issues and wrapped it all up with a bow of conquering something together.
I related so much to Angela in this story, especially with her early struggles with running. Romance is not the focus of this novel, but there is hints of it all throughout. The theme would be healing, forgiveness and changing oneself.
If you have been looking for a book that will touch your heart for 2020, this is the book for you. It is such a beautifully told story, plus, you can almost hear the accents as you read it since part of it is set in New Zealand.

I obtained this book from the publisher. All opinions contained herein are my own.

The Joy of Falling  is available for pre-order! I would recommend you do that! It also available on audio and kindle.

 

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Daughter of Rome by Tessa Afshar

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Description

My Review:

When you read biblical fiction, there are always spoilers. However, this book since this was a less commonly known character or characters from the bible, it didn’t feel that way totally.
I loved the history thinking about a Gentile marrying a Jew because of Christianity. The racial divide was pronounced and as I see this often now, with the rampant racism, this book is so applicable for today.
The message of allowing Christ’s forgiveness of your sins spoke to me, as I read about someone that had committed sin, had flaws and struggled to forgive herself. It is well written, a bit gritty at times, and wholly challenging to my faith.
I obtained this book from the publisher. All thoughts contained herein are my own.

This book is available for purchase from your local booksellers and online.

Daughter of Rome is available on Kindle, audio, hardcover and paperback.

 

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Unsupportive?

Society tends to look at themselves as being supportive and offering unbiased support of others.

However, there are sly ways that people are often unsupportive that can come across as being “holy”, “protecting themselves” or the like.

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Phrases like “There are two sides to ever story”. “I am just tired of the drama.” or “We just need to not give them a platform.” are phrases that while can sound good, are really silencing techniques.

I recently heard a critique of the book above, that was similar to this. Basically, the storyline was so depressing to them, it was worthless. Instead they went and gave their time to something that had no depressing info in it at all.

I get it. We like to pretend these kind of things don’t happen. We like to pretend that Tara Westover was being dramatic. It is easier than realizing this is happening in our own communities and before our eyes.

I know when I have shared experiences I have had, I get a couple of reactions. It is either pity or possibly scorn. Another reaction can be that it is depressing and I am bringing the mood down.

I would love to see people think before they speak on that. Do you have any idea how hard it is for someone to speak on traumatic topics like this?

It is your choice whether to read it or not. It is not your choice to ignore it. When you stick your head in the sand and think, “I can’t handle it.”, you ignore others that are in your community. You may think it is “just a book”, “just a story”. For many people, a book may be the story they can’t write themselves.

You don’t know how many people can relate to “just a book” and hearing it that it was “dramatic” might be insulting those that are your readers.

But, if something is bringing up too much from the past for you, it could be that this is a healthy response to have your memories triggered in a way that means you need to deal with them.

Get a therapist.

Make time to see one.

But don’t shut other people down because you can’t handle drama. That downplays their experience. Be honest instead. Even using the word “drama” to describe a situation that is traumatic for someone is really painful.

“This is traumatizing for me. I am not able to handle this now.” is a healthier statement.

A better one can be, “I am so sorry for what has happened to you. However, I feel I am not the best person to talk to about it since I have my own traumas. Can I give you a referral to someone I think would be good?”

Learn to think carefully as you speak. It will bear more fruit than the flippant ways of dealing with people with traumatic pasts.

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Top Ten Reads 2019

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What is a Girl Worth by Rachael Denhollander

Quote from my review:

“The quote from one of the women that testified in court was stated in this book, and it stuck with me. “Perhaps you have figured it out by now. Little girls don’t stay little forever. They grow into strong women that return to destroy your world.”

This woman writing the story enabled many, many women to testify against their abuser. I believe this story will continue to inspire many more to speak out against abuse in every way. We are not seeking revenge, but justice and safety for every child.”

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How much is a Little Girl Worth by Rachael Denhollander

You’re beautiful, worthy, and you should be loved
Because of all that you are.
Different from anything else in the world,
You are precious beyond the stars.”

A book that is applicable to both young and old, male and female, and will have you choking up if you try to read it aloud. Worth every penny to buy.

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One Woman Falling by Melanie Campbell

“It is rare that a novel is written talking about the topic of domestic violence in an accurate way without being too graphic or not very accurate.
Take a walk through the life of a woman experiencing domestic violence and her journey to safety, done in one of the best ways I have ever seen in a novel. The author did her research when she wrote this book, and while some, the fear would be that this book could cause triggers to arise. I would say that this book will be empowering for you. It will can help you go through the steps of seeing the abuse, achieving safety, Finding hope and establishing new patterns. This is a manual packed into a novel without feeling like you got preached at.
It is also an amazing story.”

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The Spice King by Elizabeth Camden 

“I loved the history with Washington politics, Good Housekeeping, and also the secondary characters with blindness. I am so thankful to people that fought to have ingredients disclosed on labels for us. I am really excited to see this is a series as well, as I want to know more about the siblings.”

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As the Light Fades by Catherine West 

“This story was so meaningful to me. She shows how a realistic women’s fiction story can be inspiring and not depressing in the least bit. I loved every second of reading it and highly recommend it.”

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The Pages of Her Life by James L Rubart 

“Do you ever read a book and stop to wonder if it was written just for you (but you know it wasn’t)?

I can’t count many times I did that with this book. I was sitting there, absorbing the story and thinking about how real and just amazingly deep this story was.”

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Educated by Tara Westover

“It is weird when you read a book that you relate to so well, without feeling like she placed blame where it was not due.
I would say if there is a tone to describe a book, this one is gentle…..
She told her story of her journey. The stories of her family, which I was not surprised to see a backlash from her family that believe they are doing what is right, and she did not judge them, but protected herself by having to be separate from them.”

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Broken Heart Strings by Staci Stallings

If there can be an author that combines non-fiction and fiction, it is Staci Stallings. I learned so much from this novel in addressing hard life issues. You walk through it with Nelson and Paige.  I loved the way the teacher was teaching with film as well.

 

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Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay 

“If you are a book lover, a book that features other book lovers warms your heart. This book is totally that way.
The author takes a story of friendship surrounding books that will make you wish the bookstore truly exists somewhere. One thing that is unique about this story is that none of the characters have it “all together”. They have messed up, some more than others. They were not really destined to be friends, until life throws them together.

Love, forgiveness and finding what is truly important in life are the themes of this novel. It is published as Christian fiction, but it is more for the thread of hope, love and forgiveness throughout the novel than for sermons, bible verses and quotes.

I found myself wanting to highlight portions of the novel and remember what was said. I would highly recommend it.”

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An Hour Unspent by Roseanna White 

This book has such an intriguing hero that he overshadows the heroine. I loved the history, but also the family that chose themselves.

 

 

 

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