Saturday, May 28, 2016

Go Big or Go Home - The Journey Toward the Dream by Scotty Mcreery with Travis Thrasher ~ Review

Publisher's Description:  
It was just a simple singing competition that would be fun to audition for. Who knew what kind of doors it might open for a sixteen-year-old from Garner, North Carolina.

 Go Big or Go Home is the story of a kid with country songs in his soul. The special thing with Scotty McCreery, however, is that he has this God-given ability to sing those tunes the exact way they should be sung. Daring to enter the limelight at such a young age, Scotty finds himself embraced by the nation, and even overseas, as he competes on "American Idol". This is his journey from his North Carolina roots to winning America’s most popular singing competition and launching a musical career he had always dreamt about.

 Go Big or Go Home narrates Scotty's journey from a kid imitating Elvis on the school bus to 30 million across America tuning in to see him win Season 10 of "American Idol”. Now as he completes his ground-breaking fourth album, Scotty shares a glimpse of where he came from and the impact his faith, family and friends have had on a humbled guy who keeps asking “why me?”

My Thoughts:  
I'll be honest here, I originally ordered this book for review so that I could give it to my daughter, who is a fan. I did watch the American Idol season that he competed on and eventually went on to win. And though I really enjoyed his work on American Idol, not being a big country and western fan myself, I didn't really keep up with his career after Idol. But I was struck by what a seemingly very mature teenager he was who really seemed to have a solid relationship with Lord and wasn't afraid to show it. And he really impacted me when he apologized for not sticking up for a younger person on the show when they had been dropped from a group. I thought that took a lot of guts for such a young person to do in an every man for himself competition.

 I really enjoyed reading Scotty's story. It's written in a very conversational tone, almost like having him sitting with you talking and telling his story. I loved reading about the faith in his family and how it has passed onto him and his deep love for his hometown in North Carolina. His story really starts with how he grew up with a love for Elvis and old time country music. His audition on Idol was not because he came up with the idea but because his mother solidly believed that God gives everyone giftings and it was the job of a parent to recognize them and do everything in their power to nuture those gifts and set the child onto the road of using them. I love how throughout the book he is very humble about his whole journey considering the great success he has already had at the ripe old age of 22. His realization that it is a blessing and that it could end at any time, and how thankful he is for what he's received is prevalent throughout his story. And his love for Jesus shines through without being preachy.

 While his story itself was a joy to read, I did wish the layout of the story was a bit different. Woven throughout the story is small framed comments from different fans or people in Scotty's life. While they also were interesting to read, they are interspersed randomly in the chapters and I did find that a bit distracting as you have to stop in the middle of whatever story he's telling to read it and then continue on or back up to it after said story or paragraph or chapter. I would have much preferred those at the beginning and/or end of each chapter.

 I would recommend this story to anyone who watched his journey on Idol or who listens to or knows his music today or anyone who likes a good autobiography. It really "fleshes" out the story of a very solid, very mature young man who just desires to serve the Lord with the gift he has been given.

 Thanks to BookLook Bloggers for a free copy of this book for my honest review. I was not required to give it a positive review and all opinions are my own.

 "Go Big or Go Home" is available for purchase here.   

Friday, May 27, 2016

Friday's Fave Five #381

Welcome to Friday's Fave Five.  Looking for the blessings from the past week and sharing, you guessed it, 5 of them.  If you are new, you can take a peek at the guidelines linked in the sidebar and then just jump right in!  This has been a long week, in spite of the Monday holiday, so having the discipline of looking for blessings resets my perspective.  So here we go:

1.  Monday off.  I always, always appreciate extra time off from work, whether it's getting off a little earlier or that precious extra full day.  When you work with babes, toddlers and preschoolers in a 10 hour day Monday - Friday that extra day to get things done or to just plain wind down is precious indeed.  Unfortunately it rained all weekend long so we didn't do any walking trails or biking but I did get lots of reading done and lots of coffee drank.  And that was just fine with me.

2.  Rain.  Though it made it an indoor kind of weekend I am very thankful for the rain.  Even fire ravaged Northern Alberta received some which was a huge blessing.  Not much but it's a whole lot better than heat and dryness for the tireless firefighters.  Everything around here is now beautifully green and smelled wonderful.  Then yesterday and today warmth and sunshine.  Lovely.

3.  Taste of the Islands.  On our dinner date, hubby took me to a favorite restaurant and they were featuring a spring menu.  So we shared a Paradise salad full of coconut, mango, pineapple, greens, lime and mint with a yummy dressing.  And for the main course I had macademia crusted mahi mahi with a coconut peanut sauce.  Oh my goodness.  If I closed my eyes I could just about imagine dining on a nice patio on a tropical island beach somewhere. That is until we went back outside into the cold rain.   LOL.  

4.  Haircut.  Funny how something so simple can just make one feel better.  And bonus:  the gal who washed my hair also gave me an incredibly relaxing scalp massage.  Felt like a new person when I left the salon.

5.  Movie night with the ladies.   A fun night out with the ladies study group.  

What were your favorites for the last week?

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Book Beginnings and Friday 56 May 2016 #2

Book Beginnings hosted by Rose City Reader  and Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice

"share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author’s name". 

*Grab a book, any book. *Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader (If you have to improvise, that's ok.) *Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it) *Post it. 

So I'm reading 2 books at the moment:  a fiction and a non fiction.  So which to choose?  I think I'll go with the non-fiction.


The day they sent the Romanovs away the Alexander Palace became forlorn and forgotten - a palace of ghosts.  

I've always been fascinated with this historical time in Russia and in particular with this family, the last of the Tsars of Russia.  That first sentence really does start the beginning of their tragic end.  Although this is a big book in non-fiction standards for me I'm hoping it's going to be worth the time and effort.  I've never really read about the sisters as most books focus of the Tsar, Tsarista, Rasputin, or of thier son and heir who had hemophilia.  Should be an interesting perspective.

And page 56:

"The attack of typhoid while serious was not ultimately life-threatening, but in all he was confined to bed for five weeks, suffering at times from agonizing pain in his back and legs and becoming very thin and weak.  Despite her pregnancy, Alexandra had from the first taken exclusive control of his nursing and proved a exceptionally capable sickbed nurse."

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear by Max Lucado ` book and study review

This world can be a pretty darn fearful place.  The news programs are full of things to fear.  A constant bombardment of financial fallouts, oil patch downturns, terrorists, global warming, natural and unnatural disasters, war, teens and people gone bad.  Fear is a ruthless taskmaster in our lives and can cause us to be imprisoned.  In this book and study Max Lucado ventures to teach us to make faith and not fear our default reaction.  By developing a better understanding of God in our lives he challenges us  to ask if we can live more without taking on those fears and live life the way God intended.

I ordered this book and small group discussion guide for our ladies study.  All of us had some kind of overwhelming fear in our lives, some very much under the controlling power of fear, and I thought this would be a great way to learn to address those fears.

I loved this study and the way it was set up.   Max Lucado writes in his typical story-telling style.  If you've read Max Lucado you'll know what I mean.  Each chapter in the book addresses a different fear.  I did find that some of the chapters were more involved than others and I did find a couple of them a bit rushed. Now doing this as a group, I encouraged ladies not to skip the chapters they didn't feel pertained to them because you never know if that fear would one day come a'knocking or that they might end up encouraging someone else who was facing that fear.  Anyway,  at the end of each chapter there is a discussion guide at the back that takes you into a deeper, more personal searching of the heart.  The format can be used both for personal study or group study.  It is set up under the following headers which I though were a really great way to approach this topic.

1. " Examining the Fear" in which questions were asked to make you search your heart and/or to pinpoint that particular fear in your own life.  Or your lack of that particular fear.  And how it might have taken root.

2.  "Exposing the Fear" in which specific scriptures were studied and exposed that fear against the truth of the Word of God.

3.  "Battling Fear" where you were given specific tasks to do to help you make this study very pertinent and real and applicable to your personal life and fears.

I loved the set up.  Sometimes these kinds of studies can get bogged down in just discussing a whole lot about the subject but never takes the steps to aggressively help you deal with the subject.  This did.  The questions in the Examing Fear part brought out some really good discussion on the part of the group as some of them were quite indepth.  But the part I liked best was then it hit you with scriptures and questions to make you think what the Word says about that fear. It's one thing to talk about fears and dissect them but a whole other thing to bring the Word of God which gives truth to those fears.   It didn't just mention the scriptures, it asked deep questions to help you get that Word into you and give you a perspective on what God thinks.  Knowing what the Bible says about that particular fear is the first step in dealing with it.  The scriptures given also taught on how to deal with the fear using the Word of God.  And the Battling Fear part helped you to take those steps to not just learn about it but to do it.  It was easy to lead this study with the format this discussion guide had.

I also ordered the Small Group Discussion Guide to help me as the leader with this study.  This I found not quite as helpful as just the guide in the back of the actual book.  I thought it would be a chapter by chapter helps book but in actuality it only had 6 lessons as compared to the 15 chapters of the book.  It made huge jumps between chapters, giving lessons on some but not others.  The way we chose to do the study was to study one chapter at a time because of the time involvement of answering the questions so this guide really didn't help but to maybe give an extra thought provoking question or two.  Others doing the study in a different way might find this more helpful.

There is also a dvd that can be purchased but I can't comment on that because we didn't use it.  I'm thinking the small group guide fits in more so if using this dvd in your study.

All in all, this was a great study.  We all face fear at some point in our lives.  And this proactively taught you how to realize that God is so much bigger than the fears we have.  But like any other study it takes effort from the person.  Those ladies that were serious and didn't just read or skim the chapters but actually took the time to reflect and answer the questions and search their hearts and study the scriptures before the study each week got the most out of the study.  I think I, persoanlly, will be rereading this book or portions of it.  I highly recommend this study for individual or group use.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Book Beginnings and Friday 56 May 2016

I'm going to try something a bit new that I have found around the internet.  It's a double link post based on one of my favourite things and that is reading.  It happens on Fridays but I think starting next week I'll post it up on Thursdays.  Let me know if it's something you enjoy.

The first is Book Beginnings on Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader.  The idea is to

"share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author’s name".  

The second is The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice.  Here we

Rules: *Grab a book, any book. *Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader (If you have to improvise, that's ok.) *Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it) *Post it. *Add your (url) post below in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. *It's that simple.

Sounds like fun.  I know sometimes those opening lines are what really grab me and set up my anticipation for the story.  And around pg 50 is usually where I decided if I'm going to give up on a book that I've been struggling to get engaged with.  Doesn't happen often but I figure if I'm not into by that time I'm just wasting precious reading time.

So right now I am reading "Go Big or Go Home - The Journey toward the Dream" by Scotty McCreery with Travis  Trasher.

The prologue opens with:

" Everything changed when I first heard that voice.
     I was in preschool when I discovered Elvis Presley in the pages of a book."

So begins the story of Scotty McCreery, Season 10 winner of American Idol.  Perfect hook for me as I was in grade 2 when my mom got me going on listening to Elvis by gifting me with an album.  Looking forward to reading Scotty's story as he has been a young man who has stuck to his faith and values during his AI journey and beyond and wasn't afraid to apologize and admit when he'd done a wrong on national tv when he was only 16.  That took guts.

And ironically enough pg 56 opens up with just that story:

"Even after getting this far and making a mistake.  I just have to man up and move on.
  Lord give me strength".

Enjoying this book, a full review will come next week.  My review blog is here

Friday's Fave Five#380

Welcome to Friday's Fave Five.  Time to intentionally look for blessings from our last week and to pause and be grateful for those things in our life that make our days, that keep us going, that lift us up.  I have found over the years of doing this exercise, that if I discipline myself to do it during good and not so good times, that I am more likely to find good things even in the midst of situations that might not in themselves be good.  It's cultivating a thankful attitude and in my experience, when I have that it makes the not so good times not quite so crushing.  So onwards and upwards towards more thankfulness.

1.  Dad's birthday.  Lovely bbq at my  sister's place.  Because Mother's Day and my Dad's birthday are so close and we celebrate them separately because they, meaning Mom and Dad, are not together, my sis and I share the dinner responsibilities.  Last week I was the meat and bun and she was sides and dessert and for my Dad's bday it was switched around.  We had a nice time celebrating my dad who turned 85.  I can't believe that!

This is my dad with Kim, our oldest child, at her wedding last month.  What a blessing that was having both my mom and dad still alive and able to attend her wedding!

2.  Worship night.  Our church hosted a 2 hour worship event on Saturday night.  Although I went late because of my Dad's birthday the time I did get to spend in extended worship was really nice.  It was nice to see a great turnout and even to see people from other congregations there!  I know it is a ton of extra work for the worship team and I so appreciate them doing it.

3.  Bit of a break on the job.  This week the littlest one's (16 months) family went camping so it gave me a break.  Don't get me wrong, I love the little ones to bits but boy oh boy, sometimes you don't realize how much you really need that break until you actually have it.  That age is a LOT of work!  The rest of the kids and I did some stuff that's hard when there is such a little one around.

4.  Movie afternoon with Hubby.  This last Sunday actually found me with all my chores remarkably done.  Even grocery shopping.  So Sunday was actually what the Lord meant it to be:  a day of rest.  We had a lovely bbq steak lunch with just me, Hubby and our girlafter church.  We put our feet up and read and ordered a $1 movie off the tv.  Turned out we really enjoy it.  Then hubby and I went for a lovely yet challenging coulee trail walk.  Listening to the birds singing, watching storks feeding on the river off in the distance and just enjoying each other's company was totally refreshing.  Ready for the new week!

5.  Words of encouragement.  

I've always loved a good quote, especially ones that in a sentence can lift your spirits and give encouragement.  I like this one because it reminds me God is not finished with me yet in spite of mistakes or set backs.  I am not the same as I was!

What were your favourite blessings of the last week?

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Reading Challenge 2016 Running List

updated:  May 17, 2016

Back at the beginning of January I decided this year I wanted to really read through the piles of books that I already own.  They are forever growing and I seriously need to make a concerted effort to knock the pile down.  In perusing different challenges on pinterest I finally decided on the Read the Books You Buy Challenge.  Perfect because it was to set a percentage goal on not only actually reading the books you purchase in 2016 but it allowed you to go back to June 2015.  

I decided I would just post a little update each month or so adding any new books I buy and also crossing off the ones I finish.  I'm hoping this helps me to stay motivated.  I'm trying hard not to drop by the adult section of the library too often as that always tends to throw out the window all my good intentions of trying to make the piles of books in my closet a little smaller.  I cannot resist bringing home more from the library and then my books take a back seat as there is a deadline on the library books.  But not this year.  Nope.  I'm determined!

Books purchased June 2015 - December 2015

Bathseba: Reluctant Beauty by Angela Hunt

The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister 

The Titanic Enigma by Tom West

The Curiosity by Stephen P. Kiernan

The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg 

Every Last One by Anna Quindlen

Man Alive by Mary Kay Zuravleff

The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan

Chasing Fireflies by Charles Martin 

Where the River Ends by Charles Martin 

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson

 The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules by Chatharina Ingelman-Sundberg

 Keep Quiet by Lisa Scottoline

 The Offering by Angela Hunt

 The Truth Teller by Angela Hunt

 The Imposter Bride by Nancy Richler

 The Aloha Reef Series (book 1, book 2, book 3, book 4)  by Colleen Coble

 One Good Thing by Kevin Alan Milne

 Recipes for a Perfect Marriage by Morag Prunty

 The Midwife's Confession by Diane Chamberlain

Books Purchased January 2016

-The Lake House by Kate Morton

-Remember Mia by Alexandra Burt

February & March 2016

No books purchased as it was all things wedding around here

Books Purchased in April 2016  (great sale at  50% off scratch and dent books making these books any where from under $2 to no more than $5) 

 Above All Things by Tanis Rideout

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

Another Night, Another Day by Sarah Rayner

The Persian Pickle Club by Sandra Dallas

The Promise by Beth Wiseman

Malice by Keigo Higashino

Mary Coin by Marisa Silver

Books Purchased in May 2016  (I really need to stop now!  Yikes!)

The Last Midwife by Sandra Dallas

Sisters of Heart and Snow by Margaret Dilloway

Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey

The Sign Painter by Davis Bunn

Friday, May 13, 2016

Friday's Fave Five #379

Hello everyone!  It's Friday!  Are you ready to look for and share your top 5 blessings from the last week?    Join in with us as we endeavour to live lives of gratefulness.


This little graphic couldn't be more true this week as the last few days have been quite chilly and rainy outside.  That is when a warm drink, the couch and a good book call my name especially loud.  At my house though, a cat or a dog are interchangeable and are both enjoyable!  :)

2.  Mother's Day.  A lovely day it was.  We had my mom over for lunch, I received some lovely flowersand a starbucks card and a cute tea set from my kids, and the much coveted phone calls from them.  I even got an impromptu song text from my new son in law that brought a good laugh.  A lovely relaxed afternoon was enjoyed by all.  I felt honored indeed.

3.  Strawberries.  They have been really good lately and are my go to fruit at the moment.  I even treated my self to one serving of "Bavarian Strawberries" (a strawberry dipped in sour cream and then dipped in brown sugar).  It is amazing!  Slightly defeats the all the nature's goodness of a plain strawberry but I figure I can treat myself once a season.  

photo courtesy of Daisy Brand

4.  Price adjustment o workout clothes.  I needed a set of new workout clothes and went and bought a pair of capris and two tank tops (workout clothes are so pricey!) only to find out they went on sale 2 days later.  I went in and asked for a price adjustment and was told that the chain does not really do that but the manager was good enough to return the clothes and then resell them to me at the sale price.  That was a savings of $30!

5.  No more clunking in the car.  Finally we got the car in to have the clunking in the back end.  A new part later and a nice quiet ride again!

What have your favourite blessings this week been?