Book Review: Treasured Grace

Tracie Peterson has a knack for bringing history, particularly Western History, alive in her many novels. Her newest series, Heart of the Frontier, debuted with Treasured Grace. The novel follows Grace Martindale, who is traveling west to the Oregon Territory with her marriage-of-convenience husband and two sisters, Hope and Mercy in 1847.

On the road west Reverend Martindale dies, but Grace is not upset because the marriage was only one of mutual necessity and had never been consummated. The church said the reverend needed a wife in order to go west, and Grace needed someone to care for herself and her sisters on the frontier since their parents had both passed away.

Grace is a “healer” and uses herbs and tonics to cure people. On the trail west, many people are struck with measles, and she helps save many of them. They stop at the Whitman Mission in present-day Washington State to ride out the winter, but are met with angry Cayuse Indians, set on making Dr. Marcus Whitman pay because he was unable to save many of the tribe members from the measles epidemic.

Grace meets loner trapper Alex Armistead, and begins to bond with him. But, he is distant and seems to be weighted down by his past. Soon, the Americans at the Whitman Mission are in serious danger…is there anything they can do to save their friends and family, or will the vengeful Cayuse finally get their revenge on Dr. Whitman and everyone else at the Mission?

This novel was based in part by a true story-the massacre at the Whitman Mission. Grace, Hope, and Mercy were fictional, but many of the characters were actually real people. This was an intense book, but it was well written. I liked the historical facts weaved in with the fictional accounts, and I learned quite a bit about that event in history. The only thing I would have changed would have been to develop Alex’s past a bit more. With how weighted down he was by the past, I was expecting a bit more of a story, but the explanation was quite short.

But as usual from Tracie Peterson, I enjoyed this novel and look forward to the second book in this series!

*I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

An Update–And Junior’s Exciting News

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Is it me, or is 2017 going be at light speed? I mean, seriously. Wasn’t it just Christmas???

It has been insane around here. The week after Christmas, I surprised my husband with a long family weekend in Yosemite for his birthday. The day after we returned, my husband came down with the flu. He was down for a full week. Then both kids got it. Three days after we finally had health back in our home, we left for my husband’s business trip and had our Apocalypse III Blizzard experience.

The week after we returned from that trip in early February, my husband ended up in the ER and needed immediate surgery. He had a second surgery a couple weeks later, and spent the rest of February and most of March recovering. Then Junior started soccer, we got caught up in our schoolwork, and both kids began karate lessons. So, that, in a nutshell has been our year so far. So forgive me for not updating sooner =)

One exciting update has to do with Junior’s therapy. Since he was a baby, he’s suffered from sensory issues, eventually gaining him a diagnosis of Sensory Processing Disorder. We’ve been seeing an OT since he was 2. He’s going to be 5 next month, and we just received the results of his latest sensory profile test. He no longer has SPD! He has shed that diagnosis, and now his only diagnosis is deafness.

So that is exciting. He is starting a second weekly speech therapy session in attempts to get his speech up to peer level. Though he is almost 5, his speech is closer to that of a 3.5 year old, so we are hoping an additional session will help him bridge that gap sooner.

So, that’s the latest from us. Hopefully things slow down a bit. I have a lot of fun school activities and projects I’ve been wanting to post as well!

Bible Review: Precious Moments Precious Prayers Bible

I love Children’s Bibles. The often have fun and colorful features, and I don’t think I’ll ever grow out of enjoying things like that! I recently received Precious Moments Precious Prayers Bible. Precious Moments are an adorable set of illustrated characters that have been charming children (and adults) for decades.

I was excited to receive this Bible for several reasons. First of all, Precious Moments characters are just adorable, and secondly, it is a NKJV. I’m not a big fan of the children’s Bible versions, and since my oldest is almost 9, she’s ready for a more advanced version.

This Bible has a bunch of full color inserts (sets of 4 pages) that include a poem, several illustrations, a familiar Bible passage, and a prayer. The illustrations are obviously very sweet, and the page inserts are cute.

Each book of the Bible gets it’s own short introduction discussing the book’s author, timeline, key verse, and theme. It gives some good background information. There are also a couple of maps in the back as well as some resource lists.

The downside to this Bible is that, while cute, the page inserts are the only features of the Bible. I would love to see some key words, or small illustrations, or little tidbits strewn throughout the pages. I would also like to see the words of Jesus in red.

Overall, I thought this was a very cute Bible, and I know my daughter will love it, but I wish the features were more spread out throughout the Bible instead of all within the feature pages.

*I received a free copy of this Bible from the publisher and BookLook Bloggers. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way. I was not required to give a positive review.

 

Book Review: Deep Undercover

I’ve always been fascinated with the inner workings of the spy life. In fact, “spy” was often what I would say as a child when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. Movies and television have greatly romanticized the spy experience, so I was looking forward to reading the new memoir by an operative in the Cold War KGB Illegals program, in which KGB officers were embedded in the US as full fledged citizens, in an effort to gather intelligence for Moscow.

Jack Barsky was living the American Dream with a good job in the corporate world, a nice house and two beautiful children when he was detained by the FBI in 1997. To the surprise of his family and friends, he admitted to being a former KGB operative.

Jack Barsky was born as Albrecht Dittrich in East Germany right after World War II. He was brought up in an austere home with little in the way of family affection. He was raised a staunch Communist, and had dreams of becoming a chemistry professor (science was a noble effort in Communist countries.)

As Albrecht was getting ready to begin his chemistry career, he was approached by The Party (Communist officials), who attempted to recruit him. He said yes, and a new life had begun.

After several years in Moscow learning to speak English as an American native, Albrecht was sent to New York City with only a birth certificate for one Jack Barsky and money. He had to procure all his own legal documents and make his way up in the world on his own.

The book talked about Albrecht’s training, Jack’s early days in the US, and the ideological shift that Jack faced after being in the US. Albrecht had a wife and son behind the Iron Curtain, and Jack had a wife and two children in the US, and neither family were aware of the other. He also discusses how he cut ties with the KGB with a sneaky untruth. The book finishes by talking about Jack’s conversion to Christianity, and how that shaped his after-KGB life.

I really enjoyed this book. I enjoyed reading about Albrecht’s childhood (thought it was sad because of the lack of love from his parents and the harshness of his country), and I also really enjoyed the making of the spy–turning Albrecht into Jack, and all the training that entailed. It was so fascinating, and sobering that the USSR was able to put agents into place in the US, posing as US citizens and speaking perfect English.

I received a copy of this book from Tyndale Publishers. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.

Vacationpocalyspe Part III

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Remember Vacationpocalypse? The one where the roads flooded and I-5 closed for 36 hours? How about Vacationpocalypse II, where a 3 hour flight turned into 9 hours sitting on the airplane in an unplanned detour to a Wichita Falls, TX Air Force Base?

You’d think we would either stop going places that have weather, or stop traveling altogether, but when the opportunity for travel arises, we have a hard time turning it down =)

We recently returned from Vacationpocalypse III. Yes, another weather related adventure!

My husband had a work trip in Nevada, so we tagged along as usual. After his work was done, we planned to spend four nights in a little town in Utah, called Duck Creek Village. Duck Creek Village is very quaint (read: super tiny–the closest grocery store is 45 minutes away), and halfway between Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park, and close to several other National Monuments. We rented a beautiful cabin, and planned out our busy (or what we thought were going to be busy) days.

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The drive up the mountain (we were staying at an 8000′ altitude) was snowy, but plowed. We arrived at the cabin, excited to see “real” snow!

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The first night it snowed…a lot. We decided to stay at the cabin to sled, build snowmen, and just play in the snow. The kids loved it and we all enjoyed sipping hot cocoa by the fire.

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That night it snowed again…a lot…again We decided to try the trek to Bryce Canyon National Park, but it took us 2 hours to dig the truck out of the snow. We only spent a couple hours at the park, but it was glorious, and the kids got their coveted Junior Ranger badges, so all was well.

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That night it snowed…a lot…again. We stayed in the next day. More snow play. We played in the igloo on the property. Yes, igloo.

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Oh look! More snow!

So, Monday morning we were scheduled to leave. We packed up, cleaned out the fridge, tossed most of the food that wouldn’t survive the long drive, locked the door to the cabin and got into the truck. No sooner were we in the truck about to make the 10+ hour drive home when my mom called.

“Are you leaving?” she asked. I told her we were just about to drive out. “Check the roads,” she said, “According to the maps, they’re closed.” So, I checked the map. Main road down the mountain was indeed closed. I checked the back road. That one was also closed. We got out of the truck to figure out what to do next and immediately started getting pelted with snow. A freak blizzard. For reals. We couldn’t see in front of us more than a few feet, and the wind was blasting. Laughing (because sometimes that’s all you can do), I called the home’s owner and after a few phone calls with weather and traffic she called us back to say “Well, you’re officially snowbound. Enjoy another night in the cabin on us!”

We were happy to have one more day in gorgeous Duck Creek Village, and relieved to be off the road, but I had just thrown away a lot of food and there was no way to get to a grocery store. That day we nibbled on the food I had kept–chips and salsa, granola bars, trail mix, beef jerky, and water. We were definitely roughing it. Then, the power (AKA the heater) decided to go out. So there we were, it’s 7 degrees outside with a wind chill well below zero, huddled next to the small gas fireplace, eating beef jerky, waiting for the heater to start working again.

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We couldn’t do much snow play that day–once the blizzard settled down, it left us with local neighbors whose 4 wheel drive heavy duty trucks couldn’t even make it out! Once the power came back on, we had movie day, and enjoyed the beauty of the snow falling outside. (And the warmth of the heater!)

The next morning was Tuesday and we were determined to leave. The main road was still closed (and would be, we later found out, for the next 72 hours), but there was a back road that opened up that morning and would take us through Zion National Park. We decided to give it a shot.

The snow was deep, but since we had 4 wheel drive we made it through. It took a little extra time to get home, but the road through Zion was AMAZINGLY  gorgeous. We later found out that the snow storm we experienced was the largest one in the area in nearly a decade, and over the 5 days we were there, Duck Creek Village got 50 inches of snow!

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So, we made it home, and don’t have another trip planned until close to summer. Hopefully it won’t be snowing then :)