Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Capture the Moment by Sarah Wilkerson

 I recently started shooting with a DSRL camera. Let me tell you, I have no idea what I am doing. Seriously, I am pretty much incompetent at this point. I have always yearned to capture great photos of my kids, yet lacked the skill and equipment to really do that. I have started to look for resources to help me on this journey.

Capture the Moment by Sarah Wilkerson has been so helpful to me. Not only is it filled with practical tips, the book is bursting with inspiration.

The book has six chapters, each tackling an aspect of photography. Sarah teaches us about natural light, composition, storytelling, fine art, black & white and low light.

Within each chapters she has numerous tips; like "experiment with white balance" or "become part of your own story". Each of her tips is accompanied by an amazing photo that perfectly exemplifies what she is talking about. The photo is almost more helpful than the text.  As a visual learner, these photos really drive the lessons home. The photos contained within the book are from numerous photographers. A lot of these photos are from women just like me. They are moms who want to capture their life and families.

At the end of each chapter there are "creativity exercises". These exercises give the reader practical assignments to practice what they have learned. These lessons are great for beginners and more advanced photographers alike.

In fact, I think that's what makes the book so unique; it is not necessarily directed at any particular skill level. For me as a beginner, I found the tips really helpful. At the end of the book there was a section called "technically speaking". This is a reference of photography terms. Perhaps you speak fluent photographer and could have written the tips yourself-- I  think just about anybody would be inspired by the collection of photos.

If you are looking to expand your photography knowledge, creativity and skills, this book is for you.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Berenstain Bears Harvest Festival- By Mike Berenstain

 I have a severe hankering for fall. I just can't shake it. Reading this Berenstain Bears book with the kids did not help. This book is all about fall and the Creator of the seasons! I think most of us remember reading these classic books growing up. I loved The Berenstain Bears.

This book is particularly special because it encourages wonder and thankfulness for God's creation. As the bears travel to Farmer Ben's harvest festival, they witness the beauty of fall. They see a buck, a caterpillar, and geese; they smell rich fallen leaves and wood smoke.
The book does make mention of "mother nature". However, it is quick to explain that creation is God's.

The bears participate in a variety of autumnal activities, including picking pumpkins and a hayride. My kids loved thinking about the fun things they do during the fall. My son especially, who has a
special love for that season. It was great to hear him talk excitedly about AWANA and preschool beginning, making applesauce with gram, making apple cider and going to the pumpkin patch.

If you love fall as much as our family I would encourage you to pick this book up! It's fun read that held my kids attention. I think this quote from Mama Bear about fall sums the book up nicely--

  "It is time to give thanks to God for all His blessings-- for the food that grows in His good, rich earth and for the wonders of nature that he has created."
I received a copy of this book from Book Look Bloggers, in exchange for my opinion.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Trial Run by Thomas Locke

So here's a little something about me you din't know... I read a lot of speculative fiction. That's right, I'm a total nerd. I do things like watch Doctor Who and devour 1000 page fantasy novels (I'm looking at you Brandon Sanderson).  Needless to say, I was excited to read Trial Run by Thomas Locke---

"Dr. Gabriella Speciale has assembled an international team of elite scientists with one goal in mind--to create and control out-of-body experiences that transcend the limits of time and space. Reese Clawson's mind-bending experiments aim to explode the boundaries of human consciousness--and annihilate the opposition in the process.

When a terrifying discovery and a string of failed tests threaten to dismantle both programs, the key to survival may reside in the mind of a gifted grad student whose unsettling dreams have thrust him into the center of a dangerous battle for control.

As the threads of perception and reality become tangled and time itself twists in unexpected directions, one warning remains clear: what you don't know can kill you."

I would say that the book mostly lived up my expectations. It was undoubtedly a fun and fast paced read.

The first few chapters of this book introduce the large cast of characters. There are a lot of characters and each one is important. It was a little daunting at first, trying to keep all the names/occupations of the characters in order. My suggestion is just to read slow. I promise things will start meshing and making more sense.

Science Fiction can be a hard genre. The author has to make the reader believe the unbelievable in their plot. This book relies heavily on science to support the ideas presented. There needs to be enough science to make the reader believe these events are plausible-- however too much just confuses, annoys and weighs down the reader.

Unfortunately I think that is where this book misses the mark. At first I was really enjoying the scientific explanations of the out-of-body-experiences. I thought they gave depth and believability to the book. However, by the time they were talking prions, I began skipping sections. It is never good when your reader tunes you out. The plot is strong enough to pull the reader along, even when the science begins to weigh you down. I think the book would have been much improved if some of the information was streamlined.

No doubt the author put a lot of time and research into the book. I thought the book well written (besides one instance when a character calls another "sport" three times in one page). Even with so many characters, they all seem developed and interesting. They build complex relationships and have multifaceted personalities. The book never goes too dark and is even humorous in places.

Trial Run leaves us with a lot of questions unanswered. I'm guessing Locke is saving those for the sequel. I would recommend the book to anybody looking for an adventurous, interesting read. The book is clean enough that it would be appropriate for  teenagers as well. If you are looking for a book to read on these dwindling late summer night pick this one up!

I received this book from Revell in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, August 10, 2015


Good morning friends! It's Monday and everything is a mess. I spent most of my weekend going places, leaving the house as a crash site. It's pretty yucky here. I working up the courage to get some work done. Meanwhile, did you know that I live in a really beautiful place?
The coast is only a short drive away! After church we headed to one of our favorite spots.


Everyone in the family is happy with a day at the beach. I spend all my time scouring the rocks for sea glass. I have been collecting these ocean gems forever. In my collection I have pieces I found before I knew my husband. I have pieces we collected together on our first date, the day of our first kiss, pieces from the beginning of our marriage. I collected sea glass as I grew bigger and bigger with our first child. In that same collection now are pieces my son has found himself. I remember picking up glass just days before I gave birth to my daughter. Yesterday it was the four of us, with the newest 10 week baby tucked inside me. Afterwards we all went and got bowls of clam chowder, the perfect ending for a beach day.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Wild in the Hollow by Amber Haines

My latest read from Revell was Wild in the Hollow by Amber Haines. Here's the book description so you can become acquainted with it,

"Amber Haines is a woman haunted by God. Like Eve in the Garden, she craved the fruit that she thought would lead her to freedom. But the whispers of temptation led her instead down a devastating path toward isolation, dissatisfaction, and life-altering choices. In her most broken moment, Amber met God waiting for her in the fallout, freely offering her grace and life.

This is a story of the God who makes himself known in broken places. In prose that is at once lyrical and utterly honest, a brave new voice takes readers on a windswept journey down the path of brokenness to healing, satisfaction, and true intimacy with God. Amber calls readers to dispense with the pretty bows we use to dress up our stories and instead trust God to take our untidy, unfinished lives and make them free, authentic, and whole. Anyone who struggles with doubt or holds secrets, anyone who feels marginalized or like she is missing something, will find in Amber a sister and an inviting voice back home, into the heart of God."

Isn't it a beautiful book? It is even prettier in person. The book has received some pretty hearty praise from big names life Ann Voskamp and Emily P. Freeman. After reading it, I can see why.

The first part of the story, documenting Amber's rebellion as a teenager, was so familiar to me. It is not my story, but I know a few who are right there in the thick of it. It was such a good reminder to pray for those in my life who haven't "found God on the linoleum floor" yet. Early on she talks about trying to stay under the umbrella of God's grace by "saying prayers and no dirty words, wearing long shorts and vowing never to have sex before marriage (p.17)." I think most kids who grow up in the church can relate to this. Just as it did with Amber, it can often lead to guilt, shame and then turning away from God completely.

If I wrote my memoir, my "rebel" chapter would look a little different. I was pretty much your classic good girl. However that doesn't mean that my heart, my thought-life or even my actions weren't in rebellion to God at times. My life has been just as steeped in sin, just in an easier-to-hide sort. Anyways, I digress, back to the book.

Amber has a lot to say about the Church, sex, marriage and finding your place. Her story is a raw one. I thought it was so real to life how she kept making these tiny breakthroughs, only to be swept away by life's problems again. Finding God is not the end-all to her issues. Naturally, she still battles to belong and struggles with guilt and shame.

Personally, I loved reading about her births and her babies. Her description of life with many young-children is so spot on. That season of her life is right where I am now.

After initially being pretty cynical towards church, I thought her final conclusions were hopeful and practical. I loved the way the book just sort of wound down and ended. There was no fairy-tale, now my life is perfect conclusion. Instead it feels more like the closing of a chapter than the end of Amber's story.

I know her style of writing may not be for everyone-- but if you are initially turned off I would encourage you to finish the book. Her style in the beginning of the book- especially the introduction- is laid on pretty thick. As you read on her style accentuates the story more than it takes away from it.

I received this book from Revell in exchange for me review.

Monday, August 3, 2015

The Broad Fork by Hugh Acheson

I don't know if you have ever watched Top Chef, but if so the name Hugh Acheson will probably be familiar to you. Honestly, based only on his TV persona, I probably wouldn't have bought this book... He comes across as sort of a snarky know-it-all. BUT I do not see any of that in this cookbook. Instead you see Hugh, the down-to-earth dad. I actually really enjoyed reading the book and the introduction especially. Hugh describes the book best himself,
"The recipes here are all about vegetables-- what to do with them, ideas to  get you excited to cook and eat them. It's not a manual to a vegetarian lifestyle, but rather a compendium of seasonal recipes to help your bring vegetables to the center of your plate-- from quick things you can do right away with what you just picked up to longer, more involved dinners."  
The book is broken down into the four seasons, Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer. Then it is further broken down by specific ingredients. In the fall you will find a section of apple, chanterelles and fall mushrooms, eggplants, figs, kohlrabi and many more! Each ingredient has four or five recipes. These recipes vary in difficulty- some are for full dinners while others are quick preparations. He also included a lot of recipes for preserving the ingredients.

When I first started reading through the recipes, I was still really feeling my morning sickness. Food was really not sounding good. We had been eating pretty simple. Whatever I could whip up really quickly that didn't have a strong odor. This book really gave me a lot of inspiration and got me excited about being in the kitchen again. Now that my sickness has worn off a bit, I am excited to try these recipes out.

I received a copy of the book from Blogging for Books, but all opinions are my own.