Monday, May 26, 2014

Reviewer's Bookshelf: Captured by Love by Jody Hedlund

The British Army has taken control of Michilimackinac Island and its fort, forcing the Americans to swear an oath of loyalty to the crown in order to retain their land. Pierre Durant is a fur trader who returns after being away from the island for years, only to find the family farm a shambles and those he cares about starving and at the mercy of British invaders.

Torn between the adventurous life of fur trading and guilt over neglecting his defenseless mother, Pierre is drawn deeper into the fight against the British--and into a relationship with Angelique MacKenzie, a childhood friend who's grown into a beautiful woman. She now finds herself trapped by the circumstances of war and poverty, and the cruelty of her guardian, Ebenezer Whiley.

As tensions mount and the violence rages on, Pierre and Angelique must decide where their loyalties rest and how much they'll risk for love. (Amazon book summary)

Once again, Jody Hedlund has succeeded in opening up the history books and letting us in to a time that was filled with danger, starvation, war, and passion.  Although our main characters are fictional, it is based on events and people that were a part of our nation's history.  This is one of the things I love about her books.  I feel like I've not only read a wonderful piece of fiction, but I've also learned about a time and place I knew little to nothing about.

Another thing I loved about this story was the internal struggle Angelique and Pierre went through...and how they dealt with it.  In many novels, characters are permitted to do all sorts of things in the name of love.  Whether it be breaking promises or commitments, allowing passion to outweigh purity, and even betraying those who care for them.  It is obvious that Pierre and Angelique care deeply for one another, but both have made a commitment to follow God.  They are convicted of letting their passions and selfishness rule them and have to make some hard decisions because of it.  I appreciated the fact that they held themselves accountable for those actions. The book didn't just wrap up with a happily ever after for the main characters and broken hearts for the rest.  There was resolution and definite satisfaction when I read the last page.

Hedlund is very gifted at portraying the realities of her novels' settings.  Characters are flogged, mistreated, there is hardship, starvation, but there is also good to be found in the midst of it all.  The conflict of good vs evil is ever present, but hope is not absent.  There were moments when I couldn't put the book down...I had to have the knots in my stomach settled!  At the end of the novel there is also historical information in the Author's Note that affirms the accuracy of the setting.

I would highly recommend Captured by well as Jody's other novels!

5 stars---absolutely loved it!

**I received a free copy of this novel from Bethany House via NetGalley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review**

Friday, May 23, 2014

Signed, Sealed, of a family friendly tv show

A few weeks ago the hubby and I watched the season opener of a new Hallmark series called, "Signed, Sealed, Delivered." To be honest, the show caught my eye because I LOVE Eric Mabius (the lead male character) from a few Hallmark movies I had seen.  He's the perfect swoonworthy gentleman in previous roles, so I wanted to check out this new character he was playing.  Not only did Mabius do a great job and fit the part perfectly, but the rest of the cast did as well.  This week I had the privilege of being able to view this Sunday's episode (yes...this Sunday!) and tell all of you about it.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered 
The new original series "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" is a wonderful combination of romance, comedy and drama that follows the lives of four postal detectives who transform themselves into a team of detectives to track down intended recipients of undeliverable mail. Their missions take them out of the office where redirected letters and packages can save lives, solve crimes, reunite old loves and change futures by arriving late but somehow always on time. The team includes charming Oliver O’Toole (Eric Mabius), the group's leader is a man of faith who prayerfully approaches his work with the goal of making a difference in people's lives; new team member, Shane McInerney (Kristin Booth), a technophile who brings 21st century sensibility to the group; free-spirited, “girl next door” Rita Haywith (Crystal Lowe) who has a photographic memory; and lovable Norman Dorman (Geoff Gustafson), a master in conventional research methods.
The show aires SUNDAYS, 8/7c on Hallmark

This week's "mission" focuses on a letter found in an old school desk that is written by a young student who has Down Syndrome.  She wrote it to her future self, telling her to marry her high school boyfriend who also has Downs, when she's supposed to receive it 10 years later.  When the team figure out who it belongs to, it's only been 7 years since she wrote it, but she is still dating her high school boyfriend...and they want to get married.  The only problem--her parents are hesitant to let their daughter take such a big step when they feel she might not be ready.  It was a wonderfully told story, with real life concerns the parents of a child with Downs Syndrome might have. 

One thing that impressed me about this show is that it incorporates scripture into the dialogue...this Sunday's episode included.  It's not singled out with words like, "In the Bible it says...," but if you're familiar with the Word you'll recognize it.  That wasn't the only thing that impressed me.  This show has such wonderful, heartwarming subject matters, not only with the individual cases that the detective team faces, but also among each other.  The main characters care about each other and want the best for each other.  I think we can all agree it's a nice change from some of the backstabbing, violence, and deceptiveness that occurs during many of the popular shows (and I confess, I do watch some shows that have that...).  It's like a breath of fresh air and I even swiped a tear away at the end.

The American Bible Society has built a bible study to go with the series, 
Isn't that great? A seven-day Bible reading experience to dig deeper into the meaningful biblical themes revealed in each episode of Signed, Sealed, Delivered.
The Bible Reading Experience is free and currently available for one week only. We hope to see the American Bible Society reading series continue and value your support.  Please go sign up!!

If you'd like to find out more about Signed, Sealed, Delivered, check out these sites:

*I volunteered to watch this episode (for free) in order to give an honest review.*

Don't forget....stop by the Hallmark channel on Sunday, 8/7c to watch the next episode of Signed, Sealed, Delivered!!

God bless~

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Reviewer's Bookshelf: Full Steam Ahead by Karen Witemeyer

When Nicole Renard returns home to Galveston from an eastern finishing school, she's stunned to find her father in ill health. Though she loves him, he's only ever focused on what she's not. Not male. Not married. Not able to run their family business, Renard Shipping.

Vowing to secure a suitable marriage partner, Nicole sets out with the Renard family's greatest treasure: a dagger personally gifted to Nicole's father by the pirate Jean Lafitte. Many believe the legend that the dagger is the source of all Renard Shipping's good fortune, though Nicole is sure her father's work ethic and honorable business practices are the keys to their success. Before she can board the steamer to New Orleans, Nicole finds her father's rivals--the Jenkins brothers--on either side of the gangplank, ready to grab her and steal the dagger. Quickly, she decides to instead travel north, to Liberty, Texas, where she can decide what to do next.

Darius Thornton needs a secretary--someone to help him get his notes in order. Ever since the boiler explosion aboard the Louisiana, Darius has been a man obsessed. He will do anything to stop even one more steamship disaster. The pretty young socialite who applies for the job baffles him with her knowledge of mathematics and steamships. He decides to take a risk and hire her, but he's determined her attractive face and fancy clothes won't distract him from his important research.

The job offer comes at exactly the right time for Nicole. With what Darius is paying her, she'll be able to afford passage to New Orleans in mere weeks. But Mr. Thornton is so reclusive, so distant, so unusual. He can create complex scientific equations but can't remember to comb his hair. And his experiments are growing more and more dangerous. Still, there are undeniable sparks of attraction between them. But Nicole is leaving soon, and if she marries, it must be to a man who can manage a shipping empire. Darius certainly doesn't fit that description. And the Jenkins brothers have not given up on kidnapping Nicole and seizing the Lafitte dagger for themselves. (Amazon book summary)

When I saw the cover of this book my expectation was a kind of whimsical, fun-loving romantic story.  I was honestly pleased to find that this story had a nice Jane Eyre-ish feel to it, with the slightly darker, brooding Darius Thornton and the smart and capable Nicole.  Nicole is not just a girl with a fancy education and no grit.  Quite the contrary.  She's handy with a knife, she knows how to swim, and she's not afraid to fight back.  She also doesn't let Darius' dark moods get the best of her.  She stands up to him when she needs to, but she is also respectful of him.  Darius was a great hero.  He was fighting his own personal dark side, letting something from his past overshadow anything good in his present or future.  His darkness is what made him a very appealing character.  I love the combination of his character with Nicole's.  She also met his match with scientific and mathematical knowledge...and I love a smart heroine ; ).  

This story was rich with historical facts concerning the steam ship/shipping industry and the deaths that would occur due to exploding boilers. Darius' personal mission was to test and figure out why so many accidents were happening.  I was rooting for him.  I liked the combination of fact and fiction.  It was also one of Witemeyer's more romantic novels in my opinion.  The scenes between Nicole and Darius had the sparks flying.  I honestly couldn't put this book down!  I stayed up til 2 am finishing it and didn't want it to end.  My top Witemeyer book has always been "To Win Her Heart"....but "Full Steam Ahead" may just have claimed first spot.  I would definitely recommend it!!  

5 stars!  (Absolutely loved it!)

*I received a free e-copy of this book from Bethany House publishers to give an unbiased review*

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Family Friendly Movies

What is and what is not a good movie is often debated among Christian circles.  I'm not here to judge (we love that phrase "don't judge" don't we?! ; )).  My goal in this post is to share some movies my husband and I have enjoyed that I would consider conservative.  Because I am a Christian, I also love faith-centered movies that have a clear Gospel presentation, so I'm going to recommend some of those, too.  Can I take just a few seconds to share my own personal journey concerning movies?  I'll try to be short ; ).

My story....
Basically, I love entertainment.  I love a good book (I read A LOT!) and I love a good movie.  Good music, too.  In my early years, I didn't have a lot of convictions about books or movies.  There weren't a lot of good "Christian" movies and books like there is now, but I honestly didn't try to find them.  I was happy watching pretty much anything.  As a young Christian, these different movies I would watch were starting to affect my heart and mind.  I didn't realize to what extent until I got older, but I was very desensitized to things like bad language, mild sensuality, what most would consider mild sexuality, and violence.  As I grew in my walk with God, and had some strong mentors who challenged my perspective on entertainment, I began to question what I was putting into my mind.  I remember twice one of my good friends walked out of a movie that within the first few minutes had some bad language and sexual innuendo.  I was kind of uncomfortable with her reaction.  But the second time this was a movie that was shown in my home, and she later wrote those of us who were there a long letter explaining why she had to leave and why the words and actions being portrayed were dishonoring to God in the name of entertainment.  Wow.  That was very uncomfortable!  But exactly what I needed.  I was challenged by what she said.  Other friends challenged me on some other movies I had recommended to them.  That was hard for me, too....I realized how unaffected I was by what I was watching, but I was beginning to see that it was an issue I needed to take more seriously.  I began to eliminate rated R movies and some PG-13 out of my life. I began to see the benefits mentally and spiritually.  When I got married, God used my husband to convict me even more.  His perspective on movies seemed incredibly conservative to me!  : )  Honestly, my pride was a little hurt.  I thought I was SO conservative and doing so well guarding my heart and mind...then I marry a guy who even refused some of the movies I thought were ok.  That was tough.  But I'm so glad that God used him to help me grow even more.  We both love to watch movies, but guarding our minds and hearts are of utmost importance.

With that said, this is what I do when a new movie comes out.  I go directly to the website Plugged In.  It is basically a Christian-based site that reviews contemporary movies, tv shows, games, music, and videos.  It breaks down different aspects of the movie that I'm looking out for: language, violence, sexuality, and a few others.  I will say that Plugged In RARELY gives a top rating to any movie.  I mainly use this site as a tool.  If a movie doesn't get a great review for plot but is reasonably conservative on the areas that are important to me and my hubby, then we try it.  We've had great success with this.  We've been surprised both ways with some of our choices, but for the most part we've been on target.

Movies we enjoy...
As I mentioned, I love the movies that have been recently put out by Christian-based film companies. Some of these movies do tackle difficult subject matters, so even though they are "Christian" you may not want your young children watching. Some of my favorites are:
*Fireproof (marriage)
*Courageous (family/fatherhood)
*Facing the Giants (faith/trusting God)
*October Baby (abortion/life)
*Seasons of Gray (modern day retelling of Joseph--seen on INSP channel)
*Homerun (alcoholism/family/abuse/Celebrate Recovery program)
*Grace Unplugged (fame/family)
*Love Comes Softly and others in the series...great family-friendly love stories set in the west based on books by Christian fiction author Janette Oke
*The Last Sin Eater...based on a book by Francine Rivers
*I want to see "Mom's Night Out"--I've heard it's hilarious and from a Christian movie company.
*I know there's more I'm probably forgetting.  If you have some you enjoy...please comment!

*When Calls the Heart--series on Hallmark and made for tv movie (love this!)...also based on books by Janette Oke
*Of course, the movies on Hallmark and INSP are always fun to watch : )
*Here Comes the Boom--y'all...this movie is HILARIOUS!  And guy-friendly.  Kevin James is a trip! This movie is all about Mixed Marshall Arts and also has a nice romantic, family friendly element to it.  It does have a few profanities.  Here's a clip:

A recent favorite of Joe and I's is The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.  We love it!  It does have a few profanities, but we walked away really enjoying this one.  It's about Walter, a kind of sedate guy who dreams of adventures but never actually has one.  Then his life changes...(this is a long trailer...)

*I'm a big Pride and Prejudice fan, so I like all of those types of movies and consider them great for any age.  Here are my favs in that genre: Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, Sense and Sensibility,  and Emma.  The BBC did remakes of several of these not too long ago and I thought they were very well done.  The BBC also has older versions of Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice that are wonderful...classics and very detailed.  The newer versions of Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice (done by Focus Features) are also well done in my opinion, but they have to cut a lot of the detail to fit it into a 2 hour movie.  The settings and costuming is excellent, though.  Even more so than the more detailed versions.  I also think the soundtracks from both are excellent.
*Along the lines of historical, I must recommend North and South with Richard Armitage.  It's a little slow in some parts, but the chemistry between him and the lead actress is awesome.  It also gives a historical look into the cotton mills that were prevalent during the Industrial Revolution.
*I can't neglect to say that my hubby and I are big action movie fans.  We loved the first Captain America movie, although there is some violence and a scary looking bad guy.  We also like the new and older Spider Man movies and I honestly love Man of Steel, the newer Superman movie, although there is violence and some profanity.  We also enjoyed the newer Batman movies, specifically the first and third, but the second was a little too dark for our preference.
*The new dystopian trend hasn't escaped me, either.  I read The Hunger Games series and I know that the movies are popular.  They are, however, quite violent, specifically the first one.  It's hard to stomach children killing children, but I did watch the movie.  I honestly liked Catching Fire better, but there's still a strong violence element.  I really enjoyed the newest movie in that genre, Divergent.  I really liked the story line and thought the violence was not quite as intense as Hunger Games.  The hubby isn't a big fan of these types of movies, and you may want to look them up on Plugged In to see if these are good movies for you and/or your family.
*The of the few Jim Carey movies I enjoy.  It is a PG movie, but I regret that there is a harsh word of profanity (totally unnecessary!) that stands out.  Other than that, it is a very entertaining movie.
*Bedtime of the few Adam Sandler movies that's family appropriate.  This movie is funny, heartwarming, and I would even say "clean"! : )  It's an older movie, but it would be worth looking it up!

Again, there are many more movies out there that are family-friendly.  This post would be so long if I continued on, but I just wanted to point out a few of our favorites.  If you have any other recommendations, I'd love to hear about them!

As always....God bless!  My next post will be a review of the book I just finished...and couldn't put down...Full Steam Ahead by Karen Witemeyer!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Family Friendly Music for Kids

The kids and I love listening to music throughout the day.  Whether we are belting out the songs from "Frozen", singing some of our favorite worship songs, or listening to classical pieces by the composer we're is flowing.  As a musician, I love it!  I look forward to the day when (I hope!) at least one of my children will show some musical abilities...and enjoy it as much as I do.  In light of that, I really wanted to share some things we're listening to.

I have to start with Seeds Family Worship.  I honestly had never heard of this group until I saw an offer for a free download of one of their worship cds.  Like many of you...I like free stuff!  I thought I'd try it. They don't send you a hard copy, but you download the files online.  So I did that and put them on my phone.  I play them all the time while I'm cleaning and the kids have picked up on it.  Even my little two year old is constantly singing, "mouth speaks!" from the song "The Mouth" based on Matthew 12:34.  These songs are basically Bible verses put to song.  I can't say how much I love this.  We only have "Seeds of Praise" in our collection, but I hope to add more in the future.  Here is the page that shows the songs from Seeds of can listen to any of the songs and there are even links to guitar chord sheets!  They also have pages like this for each of the albums.  You can only buy the full albums on this site, but you can go on ITunes to buy as well.  Go here to see a youtube video of their song "More Than Conquerors"...catchy and great for kids.

Another favorite site is Making Music Fun.  I have used this site numerous times to print out a different composer coloring sheets for the kids.  You might think that seems a little over the top for young kids (I kinda did at first) but my kids have really loved it!  It's SO not hard to find samples of different composers' works on youtube.  I usually look something up on my phone and just let it play while we're eating.  Easy way to introduce different types of music.  I usually tape up the compose pictures and the kids refer to them all the time.  Kinda cool!  I also noticed there are some free music theory sheets and lots of other music related printables available on this site.

A good source for biographies on different composers, artists, and many other historical figures is the Cloud Biography page on YouTube.  I have thoroughly enjoyed using this throughout the school year to introduce different people to the kids.  It helps that these biographies are short and to the point, so it hits the highlights and helps you get a good idea for what each person is most famous for.

Some other music my kids have enjoyed in years past include Laurie silly songs!  Here's an example:

We've also enjoyed some of Laughing Pizza's songs:

I'd love to know any other music recommendations you might have!  My next friendly movies!  Until then, have a great rest of the week!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Freebies and Fun Things...part 2 : )

I really enjoy finding some fun...FREE...things to use with my kids and for homeschooling.  Hey...I like free stuff for myself, too ; ).  Here are a few fun things I've run across lately that the kids have really enjoyed:

My kids love the minions and I love this site...Art for Kids.  We're going to attempt this tomorrow.  Last week we tried the Olaf picture and the kids and I both loved it!  Art for Kids is also on's definitely worth a "like" and I love getting their newsletters via email.

This is such a fun states/capitals song and video.  I heard Sophie singing it around the house the other day after my niece shared it with us.  Wish I could get a copy of this drawing, too! : )
Below is the world version.  A little longer, but still pretty neat!

Free Kindle books--my favorite kind of freebies!
*The Edge of Light by Ann Shorey
*It Had to Be You by Susan May today (Tuesday) only...sorry for the late notice!
*Stallions at Burnt Rock by Paul Bagdon

Great price reductions:
One of my favorite authors has two great deals--
*Courting Morrow Little (it's awesome!!) for only $1.99 and Love's Awakening for only $2.99!
*The Gathering Storm by Bodie Thoene--99 cents
*Just Jane by Nancy Moser--$2.51
*Lady in the Mist by Laurie Alice Eakes--99 cents
*The Forgiven Duke by Jamie Carie (this whole series is good...I would suggest starting from the beginning, though)
*Fancy Pants, Serendipity, and Forevermore by Kathy Marie Hake--$3.99 each and Whirlwind is $1.99
*Waterfall by Lisa Bergren--99 cents (awesome series!!)

Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Reviewer's Bookshelf: Meant to Be Mine by Becky Wade

Ty Porter is the guy Celia Park has crushed on since he was so kind to her in high school.  They were friends then, but years later a whirlwind trip to Vegas created sparks.  Next thing she knew, they were spontaneously standing at the alter in a pink Las Vegas wedding chapel.  Celia couldn't believe she was in the arms of the man of her dreams.  The morning after, however, her world came crashing down.  Ty wasn't the man she thought he was...and he crushed her.  

Five years later, Celia is struggling to make ends meet and provide for her daughter.  Ty is a rodeo super-star, and Celia could care less.  Her heart is hardened towards him and would happy to never see him again, although they're still connected in so many ways.  When Ty enters into her life unexpectedly, it turns both of their worlds upside down.

Becky Wade creates the best male characters.  Ty oozes masculinity.  He's a bull rider, oh so confident, and has the physical appearance to match it all.  Basically irresistible.  But he's not perfect, by any means.  He is flawed, especially when it comes to relating to Celia.  She put her heart in his hands, and he trampled on it.  So it's easy to understand why Celia would be so angry and hurt by him.  And why she would keep the fact that she has a child a secret from him.  Ty doesn't disappear this time, though.  His reappearance into Celia's life is the very thing that God uses to break down the walls around both of their hearts.

This book was a joy to read.  The thing that stands out to me the most is the witty banter that was present throughout the book between Ty and Celia.  I caught myself smiling and even laughing out loud a few times. The sparks between them just fly off the page.
 Ty is the kind of male character that you're drawn to.  We all know that kind of guy...the one that can turn on the charm and have this magnetism that draws you in.  Even if he's fictional, we can all think of someone in real life who is like that.  The fact that he's SO confident and flirty just makes him even more irresistible.  Celia is also a girl that all of us can relate to.  She's trying to make ends meet, she wants to be a good mom, but has put her child on a pedestal.  She'll do anything for her daughter and loves her more than anything else.  Celia also struggles with unforgiveness.  She is so hurt by Ty that the only love she trusts is the love she has for her daughter.  Definitely relatable!  I also appreciated the spiritual journey that both Ty and Celia had to go through.  Everything wasn't all patched up when they looked deep in each other's eyes....God had to almost break them...physically and help them see the sin in their lives and turn to Him.  The author notes at the end of this book that the theme is forgiveness.  This theme is presented so clearly.  And haven't we all struggled with forgiveness at some point in our lives?  I know I have.  
The romance in this story was pulse-quickening and sweet, but the way Ty and Celia were drawn back into the arms of God was the best part of this love story.

*I was given a free copy of this book by Bethany House publishers to give an unbiased review*

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Freebies and Fun Things

I've been out of the loop for a couple of weeks.  Two weeks ago the boys had a terrible bout of viral bronchitis and last week the kids and I went out of town, so the post that's been brewing in my mind is finally being typed out : ).

Recently a mommy friend of mine sent me a message saying that she had just bought a Kindle Fire for her son and wondered what apps we had/which ones we liked.  When I responded she told me I could totally do a blog post about it.  So here we are.

Let's start with book/app freebies, inspired by my friend Michelle Repolles...who just happens to be an incredible photographer (she took the pic of my hubby and I to the right).  : )

Here are some of the apps that we've gotten that I really enjoy.  Most are for the kiddos...but sometimes I enjoy playing with them, too.  And the majority of them are free.  Pretty much all of them, because my daughter's Kindle Fire came automatically with free "coins" that you can use to purchase apps with. We purchased apps with the coins that gave you more coins for purchasing that particular we earned more coins!
Frozen Free Fall, Minion Rush, Sonic Dash, Ice Age Village, Smurf's Village, Pet Spa and Salon, Smoothie Maker, Angry Birds Star Wars, Kid Doodle, My Little Pony, Chug Patrol: Ready to Rescue (Chuggington), Wreck-It Ralph, Thomas and Friends, Nemo's Reef, Watch Disney Jr
PBS, Brain Pop and Brain Pop Jr (We LOVE these!), Preschool All-in-one learning, Phonics Island--ABCs, Food Puzzle for Preschool Kids, Spelling Bee Genius (you can plug in spelling words--it'll read them to you and you have to type them out.  I love this for my 1st grader!), The Electric Company, WordGirl Superhero (my daughter loves this one), 50 States (gives info on each state...pretty neat!), Dr. Panda, Teach Me!, Draw N Learn, All About Learning Press app for phonics, Splash Math
*I've seen some advertisements for a Wallykazam! app that looks really cute and educational...don't know the cost or how good, but it looked cute.
I love a GeoBee app I got for my Iphone. It was free...too hard for my kids right now, but it's a great challenge for me!  I'm a geography nerd anyway ; ).
Book apps/ebooks for kids
The Cat in the Hat storybook app (I picked up several Seuss book apps on Seuss' birthday for a discounted price)
The Smurf's 2 movie storybook, The Sleeping Beauty (interactive storybook), Just Me and My Mom (Mercer Meyer storybook app), Bible for Kids, Bible Stories for Children;
I love the Brenda Ponnay books and alphabet cute!
We have several of the "I Love Reading" books which have a lot of real-life titles about things like puppies, kits (baby rabbits), starfish, etc.--all free
Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown
Ronnie Wilson's Gift by Francis Chan
Jake Bakes Cakes by Gerald Hawksley
Discover Series books: birds, farm animals, fruit, etc.

Many of the free books (you find those by searching "free kindle books for kids" or terms like that) I don't particularly love, but occassionally you'll find some cute ones.  Here are some children's authors I really love...but you could also look up "Caldecot Medal books" for award winning illustrations and "Newberry Award books" for chapter books:
Chris Van Allsburg
Lois Ehlert
Eric Carle
Simms Taback
Patricia Polacco
Robert Munsch

There's so many good ones!  These are just a few...and sorry if I spelled a few wrong!

Now on to book freebies for grown-ups!  I honestly primarily read Christian fiction books, but some of the free sites will offer secular books as well.  I subscribe to "Bookbub" and get a daily email with freebies.  You can choose what genre you like and it'll send you an email accordingly.  There's also lots of facebook pages you can "like" to find daily ebook deals.  But honestly, I've often found a lot of freebies or reduced priced books on Amazon on my own.  Often I just search the publishing company of choice.  For example, one publishing company I like is Bethany House.  So on Amazon I type "Bethany House Kindle free Kindle books" and it'll pull up a page of that publisher's freebies.  You can do this for any publisher.  Or you can type in, "free Kindle books" and wade through a LOT of them.  Also, when I find out about a free book, I often look at the bottom of the Amazon page and it'll say something like, "others who bought this book also bought..." and I'll scroll through it.  A lot of times if someone else finds one free book, they've found others....then it'll show up.  Another tip I've found is searching specific author's books you like...sometimes the publisher will reduce several of their books for one or two days can buy several books for a discount...or free!  One last thing..."like" your favorite authors' pages on facebook. Often I will see posts in my newsfeeds from different author's telling about discounts on their books.  And sometimes one author may help promote another author that writes similar books if there's a sale.  Gotten several goodies that way, too.  If you really like reading and writing reviews, you can also sign up to be a book reviewer for different publishing companies and receive free books in order to read and review them.  I do this with Bethany House, but other publishing companies and authors do this!  It's a lot of fun!

So I won't leave you without a little's some of the latest freebies for Kindle (not sure about Nook) to add:
Janette Oke "Once Upon a Summer"
Leslie Gould "Courting Cate"
Tracie Peterson "Treasures of the North"
Mary Connealy "Out of Control"
Jen Turano "Gentleman of Her Dreams"
Ann Gabhart "The Scent of Lilacs"
Suzanne Woods Fisher "The Choice"
Maggie Brendan "No Place For a Lady"
Lorna Seilstad "Making Waves"

 I know this post is getting long, but I wanted to add one more Free Resource if your kids like art.  I LOVE this site!! It's called Art for Kids and it is truly kid-friendly.  Here is a video from the site. There are videos and step by step instructions on how to draw all kinds of things!  There's also art supply reviews/info as well as sculpting and painting tutorials.

I realize that I'm not able to include everything I want to in one we'll have to do this again.  Stay tuned! : )