Writers to Read (Moody Program)

065572234cd7367aa85b2edf1cd24c0aHi, all!  I wish I hadn’t slept too long on listening to this program on Chris Fabry Live! on Moody Radio.  I just listened to it and heard enough interesting thoughts to write a three page document of notes!  Featuring the guest Douglas Wison, author of The Case for Classical Christian Education and Writers to Read (both of which I will be looking for at the library sometime), the discussion revolves around his latter book in which he suggests nine specific great authors to read and why.  Books are always a great discussion, but I actually had to laugh out loud a time or two while listening to this!  :)  Please don’t wait too long to listen, as it expires Sept. 17.


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Non-Fiction Books I’m Liking (Summer 2016)

Thought I’d get my Summer non-fiction faves posted before summer turns to fall!  Ha!  During what’s left of this season, learn the truth about discounts and controversial figures…

Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half with America’s Cheapest Family, by Steve & Annette Economides ~ I’ve been on a coupon, money-saving roll ever since last summer when I read “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Couponing” by Rachel Singer Gordon (see book review here). Although I wouldn’t consider myself an extreme couponer, I have felt the thrill of being able to stretch the budget a little further.  As many of you know, I’m an avid listener of Moody Radio and I have heard the Economides interviewed on In the Market with Janet Parshall. So I was curious to take my saving skills a little deeper and check out their book from the library to see what I could learn from yet another book.  I found their style user-friendly and appreciated the fact that they were writing from a Christian worldview.  The Economides aren’t hoarders, but they are savvy and make it their life calling to teach others how to save money.  I probably won’t be following all of their advice in their book (for example, grocery shopping one day a month or grinding my own meat), but I’ve been implementing a few tips here and there.  For example, we’ve reorganized our whole deep chest freezer to be able to utilize it more efficiently.  We’ve also gone the extra step to print out price tracking sheets for each item we regularly buy and chart the price differences from the local stores we frequent.  I wouldn’t have believed it would make that much difference, but it does and the work pays off!  I learned organization is the key.  I’m already benefitting greatly from the Economides’ book.  Hooray!!

The Story of Alice, by Robert Douglas-Fairhurst ~ How much do you know about Charles Dodgson (aka, Lewis Carroll), the author of Alice in Wonderland?  If you’re like me, you knew little snatches here and there.  Something about a boat ride and a real little girl named Alice.  And oh yeah, wasn’t he in love with her?  Forget all you thought you knew about Mr. Dodgson and introduce yourself anew with this well researched biography.  Although I didn’t read it cover to cover, I did find it fascinating as I spent several days skim reading my way through.  I really appreciated that the author didn’t clamp onto scandalous rumors in order to churn out something sensational.  He thoughtfully presented all the possibilities and the end result was a well-balanced account that one can make up one’s own mind about.  It’s my opinion that Charles Dodgson was an old-fashioned Victorian who was terribly misunderstood in his own day, and especially in our’s.  I also enjoyed looking at his hobby photographs displayed in the book.  I think this would be of interest to anyone who is an Alice fan, or who enjoys history.

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Posted by on August 24, 2016 in Non-Fiction Books I'm Liking


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A Visit from Johnny Heller

serveimageHi! It’s been a while since I’ve had some time to sit down to blog…  I thought I’d tell you about an interesting opportunity I had to go see a professional audiobook narrator perform live!

If you love audiobooks and have ever listened to “Marley & Me”, the “Horrible Harry” childrens’ series, or “Lusitania”, chances are you probably were listening to the voice of Johnny Heller.  Having narrated over 200 titles, won many different awards including a few Audie Awards, Heller has been named among the top 50 narrators of the 20th century by Audiofile Magazine.  Last June Johnny Heller came to a library in my local area.

I really appreciated that he and his wife came all the way from New York, even though there wasn’t as big of a turnout as was expected.  It didn’t seem to bother them and Mr. Heller was gracious and relaxed as he started out the evening by describing the process of creating an audiobook.  He brought humor to it all as well, when he chose a couple of his favorite excerpts from past projects he’s recorded.  I was also pleased to hear that he explained he doesn’t accept reading titles that go against his values, such as books that denigrate women.

During the last part of his visit, he accepted Q&A time, and I got to ask him two questions that I had.  I only wish I could have asked him more.  It never occurred to me to take pictures, so sorry about that oversight!  It was a fun evening, I wish it had been longer– but thank you Mr. Heller for coming to perform!🙂

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Posted by on August 20, 2016 in Uncategorized


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Book Review: “Traces of Mercy,” by Michael Landon, Jr. & Cindy Kelley

17165463Genre: Inspirational fiction; Civil War

Plot Summary: In the days after the Civil War, a young woman awakens after a head trauma only to discover she has lost her memory.  A sisterhood of nuns at the local convent take her in and give her the name Mercy.  While nothing seems to jog her memory, the handsome son of a wealthy neighbor becomes enamored with her and begins to court her.  But as their relationship deepens, a stranger arrives who could threaten their happiness.  Mercy isn’t sure she can lose everything a second time around…

My Book Review:  I’ve seen several of Michael Landon, Jr’s films and have even reviewed a couple on this blog.  Their quality is so-so in my opinion, but some are better than others and they’re always wholesome entertainment.  I didn’t expect his fiction novels to be much different, but the plot of this book had me interested enough to give it a try.

I felt the quality of writing in this first installment of the Mercy Medallion Trilogy was better than I expected, yet not as good as I’d hoped.  I found that I was interested during the first third of the story.  Great plot, some promise….  The middle lagged and I got bored…  And then came the last third where I totally lost my sympathy for the heroine and (even worse), lost faith in the story.  The very ending had me somewhat wondering what would happen next between Elijah Hale and Mercy, but I have little interest in reading any more of this series.  I think if I ever come across books 2 & 3 at the library, I might skim read them, but I don’t feel like investing myself further in the series.

This book had a strong Catholic bent to it, which I don’t necessarily mind reading even if I am Protestant Baptist.  But I don’t share the same spiritual views as these particular nuns in the story.  Their relationships with God did not seem very hopeful or personal and I would have liked it better if they could have influenced Mercy in a more uplifting way.

It could possibly make for an entertaining movie if the authors ever decide to.  This book wasn’t terrible, and I can imagine some might even like it.  It just wasn’t for me.

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Posted by on July 28, 2016 in Book Reviews


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New in the Audio World

204dbdf2d2c944349ce242b41a54d77cI’ve listened to a fair number of audio dramas in my time.  One of my favorite memories from my growing up years was laying on the living room floor in the evenings after supper, with my mom and my sister, with a pillow under my head and a blanket over me, eyes closed and listening to audio dramas.  We listened to the Focus on the Family radio theatre adventures, old time radio programs, Adventures in Odyssey, and anything else good we could get our hands on.

A friend of mine sent me a link to some relatively new dramas in the world of audio adventures, which she was considering purchasing for our church library.  Heirloom Audio.  Hmm, I’d never heard of it before.  (Probably because I’ve been out of the homeschool arena for some time now.)  But as soon as I watched the trailer to the first drama based on G. A. Henty’s historical novel, “In Freedom’s Cause”, I knew I was completely hooked!  No, I am not a paid spokesperson for Family Audio Adventures.  But I know good quality when I hear it.  The acting, the diction, the energy, enthusiasm, excitement, passion, and talent really shine and I can’t wait to get my ears hooked up to one of their complete adventures and escape.

This isn’t podunk acting as far I can tell.  Trust me, I’ve heard a few in the Christian audio world where I just wanted to stick a finger down my throat rather than swallow the lemon and honey.  Well-known actors are brought in for these productions who know what they’re doing in creating a good story.  Here are a few that caught my eye: Skandar Keynes, Sean Astin, Billy Boyd, Joanne Froggatt, John Rhys-Davies, Kirk Cameron, and Audie Award winner Katherine Kellgren.

I am unsure at this point whether Heirloom Audio Productions plan on only dramatizing the Henty adventure novels, or if they will branch out, but they have already won numerous awards, including being nominated for an Audio Award for “With Lee in Virginia.”  I was also thrilled to find out that John Campbell composed the original soundtracks for each production.

You can watch all four trailers to their first few productions below.  Apparently, a fifth adventure (Beric the Briton) is expected out in the near future, along with a few others.


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Posted by on July 24, 2016 in Audio/Radio Dramas


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Christy Awards & Summer Reading

29a10b1668c8b0713fa0770a6b42a8b3Hey, there!  Are you looking for something really good to read this summer while on vacation?  Or maybe you’re looking for a book to take you on vacation if you can’t get away for real?  Chris Fabry recently aired a program on Chris Fabry Live where he interviewed various authors awarded the Christy Award for 2016.  He spent two hours talking about their books and the stories behind the stories.  I haven’t listened to it yet, but I can’t wait to scout out for more interesting reads to add to my To Read Notebook!  *Please be aware these programs are playable for a limited time only.


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Movie Review: “America: Imagine a World Without Her”

MV5BMjM0MjgyOTQ4NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTQ1NzQ3MTE@__V1_SX214_AL_Based on the book by Dinesh D’Souza.

Version: 2014.

Genre: documentary

Plot Summary: [from IMDb]: “A story that questions the shaming of the US through revisionist history, lies and omissions by educational institutions, political organizations, Alinsky, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and other progressives to destroy America.”

My Review: Disclaimer*: I have not read the original book, so this review will not be comparing it to that novel.  Only as a story in and of itself, totally unrelated to the book.  

“God damn America.” You hear it everywhere nowadays.  Sometimes in so many words, sometimes only implied but it’s message becomes more popular all the time.  Indeed, sometimes it can be hard not to be embarrassed because of some of our leaders’ choices in this day and age.  But is what we so often hear said about America in school, on tv, and in books correct?  Should we be embarrassed about the idea of America and what it was founded on?

Settling down to watch this on Independence Day last year, I found this documentary to be enlightening and spot on with its assessment of America’s past. Writer and director Dinesh D’Souza addresses such topics as the discovery of North America, colonization, slavery, treatment of the Native Americans, and America’s wars up to the present day.  Saul Alinky and Howard Zinn’s books and worldviews are also discussed.  Some shocking stories from this country’s history that haven’t made the history books are also uncovered.

At first I felt depressed as I watched the facts about the present state of our nation honestly dealt with.  It was so heartbreaking, I wasn’t so sure I could watch to the end because I felt despair taking over.  However, about halfway through the film, D’Souza provides us with some inspiration to be the America we need and that the rest of the world needs.  By the end, I felt uplifted and encouraged.

Lest you might be hesitant to watch a film with snarky back-biting and mud-slinging, I’ll assure you that you won’t find those types of negative elements in this one.  Instead, I appreciated that D’Souza (himself an immigrant from India) treated with respect all of his interviewees who held a different opinion than his.  I would be interested in seeing D’Souza in a debate or lecture in person sometime.

Much of this documentary is dramatized for us through actors’ portrayals.  Overall, I found the film to be eye-opening, truthful, and balanced.  This would be great for families to watch together (especially high school/college age kids), or for the regular joe who would like some good arguments the next time he finds himself in a discussion about politics.

~Happy Independence Day, America!~

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Posted by on July 4, 2016 in Movie Reviews


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