Wednesday, May 26, 2021

IMMORTALS by Steven T Collis

IMMORTALS by Steven T CollisThis is truly an awe-inspiring story. The courage these 5 men had in the face of life and death, the encouragement and love they showed, the sacrifices not only they made but their families shows the core goodness in people. Highly recommend this book.

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During World War II, on January 29, 1943, the SS Dorchester and a small convoy sailed the perilous route from Newfoundland to the Army Command Base in Greenland. Four chaplains were assigned to the Dorchester with more than 900 men on board. Alexander Goode, a Jewish rabbi; John Washington, a Catholic priest; George Fox, a Methodist minister; and Clark Poling, a Baptist minister, all offered comfort, reassurances, and prayers with a warning from the captain that a German submarine was hunting their convoy. The Nazi U-boat captain, Karl-Jurg Wachter, had been stalking the Americans for days. When the weather finally gave him an opening, Wachter was in a position to strike.

Just past midnight, on February 3, just hours from their destination, the Dorchester was torpedoed and sank, throwing its passengers into the frigid waters and creating the worst single loss of an American personnel convoy during WWII. Many of the survivors credit the four chaplains with saving their lives. Those chaplains would become known as "The Immortal Chaplains" for their heroism in making the ultimate sacrifice. With no thought of themselves, they calmly helped men to safety through the chaos of their badly damaged ship, searched for spare life jackets for those without—eventually giving away their own life jackets and encouraging men in the freezing waters.

The celebrated story of the Immortal Chaplains is now joined for the first time in print by the largely untold story of another hero of the sinking of the Dorchester: Charles Walter David, Jr. was a young Black petty officer aboard a Coast Guard cutter traveling with the convoy who bravely dived into the glacial water over and over again, even with hypothermia setting in, to try to rescue the men the chaplains had first helped and inspired to never give up. Through his efforts, he joins the Chaplains as one of "The Immortals".

Thoroughly researched and told in an engrossing non-fiction narrative, the book alternates between accounts told from the perspective of the Nazi U-boat captain and his crew (as found in their journals and later interviews), and the hunted--the men of the American convoy. Using his expertise as a law professor specializing in religious freedom and constitutional law, the author, Steven T. Collis, also paints a thought-provoking portrait of religious life in America during wartime and how American views of faith affected the chaplains and the men they served.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

STRONG LIKE THE SEA by Wendy S SworeThis cute middle does a good job of putting you in the mind of a middl grader, all the uncertainty, insecurities, and trying so hard to live up to whatever expectations they put on themselves. Overcoming fears, developing deeper Ohana relationships, and learning to be comfortable with yourself are all themes touched on. Through a series of codes to break, Alexis takes us on an adventure all over Hawaii. It's a cute read that really dives into dealing with the ups and downs of a middle grader. It's a good read for all ages.

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Twelve-year-old Alexis was born in Hawaii and loves exploring her island paradise, but she's afraid of the ocean, actually afraid of the various creatures who live in it. She still remembers the day a viper moray eel, looking like a monster, startled her when it popped out of a coral reef. When she tried to swim away, she got caught in a riptide until her dad rescued her. Now, even when her friends are surfing and swimming in the ocean, Alex watches from the beach.

Alex's mom works as a civilian contractor for the Navy. Alex thinks it's cool that her mom works in intelligence on a submarine, but her job requires her to be away from home a lot. When she's gone, she leaves codes and puzzles for her daughter and friends to solve, including a small prize.

A special birthday puzzle has a new twist—it leads Alex to visit their grumpy older neighbor whom everyone calls Uncle Tanaka, a retired marine biologist. Knowing her mom is away on an assignment, Uncle Tanaka reluctantly allows Alex to tag along as he and his enormous dog, Sarge, collect marine samples.

Sarge isn't the only creature devoted to Uncle Tanaka. A deformed sea turtle that Uncle Tanaka rescued returns to his beach each day, but Alex is leery of it and any other creature hiding beneath the waves. Uncle Tanaka assures her that sea turtles are gentle animals and are ancient symbols of wisdom and good luck.

When Uncle Tanaka's Parkinson's disease acts up, making it hard for him to put the stoppers in his specimen vials, Alex is a pair of steady hands ready to assist. She's starting to believe that maybe old Uncle Tanaka isn't as grumpy as everyone says.

Alex's courage is put to the test when Uncle Tanaka has a medical emergency and she finds him stranded in his small boat. Alex knows there's no one else around to help but her. To crack her mom's codes, she had to be smart and use her problem-solving skills. But now she'll need to be strong like the sea and overcome her very real fear of the ocean to help save her new friend.

Saturday, May 8, 2021


SPIRITUAL RESILIENCE by Sharla Goettl. This was a very interesting read. I would have never dived that deep into 1 Nephi, but it is evident how much love Sharla has for the youth she has had the privilege of working with. This is a question I have asked myself over and over in the last several years: How to I teach my kids to become Spiritually Resilient? This book gives some very good perspective on how to make that happen. Although this book's target it audience are those who work with youth (or have youth in their homes), my thought through the whole book was that it should be taught to kids before they become youth. I would venture to say this book would be ideal for those with children ages 8-12 so that these principles have been already introduced and can be even more solidified once they become youth. It is a wonderful read that I would recommend for anyone who is looking for further ways to fortify children.

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Be sure to check out Sharla's website for a free gift and join the rafflecopter below for a free ebook. Click on the link at the top of the page for "The Goal Maker".

Latter-day youth and parents need spiritual resilience to face the future head-on. 

How do you get it? How do you teach it? Nephi had these same questions.

His answers will lead your family to resilient faith.

Raising youth who are Spirit-led and resilient requires parents who are Spirit-led and resilient. Christ can enable you to build faithful strength together with your children—in a way that uniquely fits your family.

In Spiritual Resilience, author and youth leader Sharla Goettl uncovers Nephi’s insights for parents on how, as a teenager, he developed his powerful testimony of Christ. His message will impact how you teach your children. You will learn how to:

Determine the next step in your situation
Discover your unique role in God’s plan
Fill the gaps in your faith
Motivate youth to make righteous choices
Act fearlessly by understanding your covenants
Feel confident you can succeed with Christ’s help

You can be exactly what your family needs—learning, as Nephi did, to prepare for an unpredictable future. Spiritual Resilience offers a blueprint for families to become spiritually prepared and committed to answering Jesus Christ’s call to “go and do."

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Tuesday, May 4, 2021


 LEGEND OF THE DRAGON SLAYER by Brandon Mull. I feel like I'm going to be copying the synopsis when I say this, but this beautifully illustrated story of the Legend we read about in the first Dragonwatch is the perfect addition to the Dragonwatch series. The pictures enhance the legend and bring it more to life. It's a book that is sure to get somewhat reluctant readers interested in this series. It's definitely worth taking a look at this summer. 

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The beautifully illustrated edition of the origin story of Dragonwatch the #1 New York Times best-selling series is an extraordinary collaboration between writer Brandon Mull and series illustrator Brandon Dorman. This exclusive volume also features a never-before-published dragon slayer genealogy, a detailed map of the Kingdom of Selona, and more than fifty full-color illustrations.

In ancient times dragons were the ultimate threat to the rest of the mythical world. At the height of the Age of Dragons, it appeared that dragons might not only gain dominion over the magical races, but could potentially overrun the nonmagical world as well.

A group of specially-trained dragon slayers called Dragonwatch banded together to stand against the dragons. Together, these dragon slayers confined the majority of them to dragon sanctuaries. Legend of the Dragon Slayer is the illustrated story of the very first dragon slayer who took to battle.

This epic legend comes to life with imaginatively rendered full-color illustrations. Powerful monsters have surrounded the Kingdom of Selona. A native and unlikely hero named Konrad, the cobbler's son, accepts the king's challenge to defeat the monsters: fierce yeti, a merciless vampire, a dangerous gorgon, and a deadly phoenix. Even still, Selona's biggest threat will come from the Dragon, and it will take every ounce of wit and experience that Konrad's acquired to stand a chance against such a formidable foe.

Legend of the Dragon Slayer is a stand-alone tale of valor, destiny, and magic sure to reward fantasy lovers.

Monday, May 3, 2021


ISABELLE AND ALEXANDER by Rebecca Anderson. This turned out to be a really cute story, although when the wedding happened within the first couple of chapters I was very confused. I honestly couldn't figure out where it would go from there. After the accident, the story really began to take shape and I fell in love with it. The struggles to make life work in the aftermath of such an accident, especially when the era dictated your worth based on how you look. Isabelle's growth and Alexander's growth was wonderful and inspiring. It leaves you with the question, "How would I respond to a situation like that?" Highly recommend it.

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Isabelle Rackham knows she will not marry for love. Though arranged marriages have fallen out of fashion, hers has been settled for some time to combine the upper-middle-class wealth of her father's coal mines with Alexander Osgood's prospering Northern country textile mills. Though not a man prone to romantic gestures, Alexander is well-known as an eligible bachelor. His good looks have turned more than one head, so Isabelle is content to think of herself as Alexander's wife.

However, her marriage is not what she expected. Northern England is nothing like her home farther west in the lake country. Cold, dreary, and dark, the soot from the textile mills creates a gray hue that seems to cling to everything in the city of Manchester. Alexander is distant and aloof, preferring to spend his time at the mill rather than with her at home. Their few conversations are brief, polite, and lacking any emotion, leaving Isabelle lonely and desperately homesick.

Sensing his wife's unhappiness, Alexander suggests a trip to his country estate. Isabelle hopes this will be an opportunity to get to know her new husband without the distractions of his business. But the change of scenery doesn't bring them any closer. While riding together on horses, Alexander is thrown from his and becomes paralyzed. Tragedy or destiny? The help and care that Alexander now needs is Isabelle's opportunity to forge a connection and create a deep and romantic love where nothing else could.

Monday, April 19, 2021

IN TIMES OF RAIN AND WAR by Cameron Wright


IN TIMES OF RAIN AND WAR by Cameron Wright. I have read a lot of WWII novels lately and am continually dumbfounded at how all encompassing it was. That should be a given, but with each novel I have been given a glimpse into one small portion of the World War. This novel was no different. The job of the Bomb Disposal Companies were just as life threatening as being on the front. This story showed the importance of those crews, as well as the importance of friendships in a time of such uncertainty and frankly insanity. Audrey and Lieutenant Wesley were perfect for each other in so many ways. I loved watching their relationship grow through so many obstacles. There are some semi-graphic parts as humans and bombs are not a good mix, but I would say this is a must read for all the WWII lovers as well as everyone else.

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In September of 1940, during the Blitz in London, Audrey Stocking is blending in with other civilians who are trying to survive the nightly bombings, but she has a secret. She's not British; she's German and Jewish. Her fake passport and nearly perfect British accent allow her to blend into the city of London, and she works hard to help evacuate British children into the countryside. Audrey longs to reunite with her family in Germany, but her double-life, the bombings, and the watchful British Military Intelligence has forced her to stay put. And then there's the paralyzing nightmares and flashbacks—something from her past she can't quite remember.

Lieutenant Wesley Bowers is an American soldier training with Bomb Disposal Company 5, who meets Audrey when an air raid leaves an unexploded bomb in the floor of her flat. She is attractive, intelligent, and compassionate, and there's an immediate connection between them. As they open up to each other, sharing their innermost feelings, Wesley realizes Audrey is the one bright spot during the war's unending bleakness and constant threat of death. But will he still feel the same if he discovers the secret she is hiding? Secrets even Audrey is unaware of?

In Times of Rain and War is a gripping and heartbreakingly beautiful story about the strength and resilience of the human heart and spirit, reminding us there is always hope in hard times.

Friday, April 9, 2021


RAISED IN THE KITCHEN by Carrian Cheney. Well, I have to admit that I was blown away by this cookbook. I started out by having my 3 year old choose some recipes based on their pictures. He picked a couple seemingly sporadic ones before finally pointing at all of them. So I tried the first one he chose and it was a hit with everyone in the family. Can I just say that rarely if every happens?! Then the next one had the same results as has everyone we've tried since. Most of my Easter dinner consisted of recipes from this book. It's amazing. They are easy to follow. I would have no problem handing it over to my 10 year old and saying, "Have at it!" The 'pro tips' are very clear and easy to understand. This is one I will return to often. 

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From the time her children were toddlers, family cooking blogger Carrian Cheney found creative ways to get her children interested in cooking, partly to teach them basic kitchen skills so they could be part of the solution when they were hungry and partly to instill in them a joy of creating and presenting delicious meals, as her own mother had taught her.


From food prep to clean-up, this unique cookbook guides the way through every step, including meal lists and easy-to-follow recipes, and features dollops of heartwarming family stories, insights, and kid-friendly food activities to keep young chefs focused on fun in the kitchen.

The book includes 75 recipes that begin with basics such as fried eggs, pizza dough, and baked potatoes. As new cooking skills are learned, the recipes progress to guaranteed kid favorites like chocolate chip pancakes, steak fajitas, and apple dumplings. Recipes are joined with tips to help home chefs master the art of cooking, from stocking a pantry to proper kitchen etiquette and safety to how to add flair to a table setting—even how to coax a picky eater by tempting their tastebuds.


Raised in the Kitchen is a cookbook for parents and kids about much more than learning to love to cook. It’s about bringing families together with cooking memories that will last a lifetime.