Monday, 10 October 2016

Book Review: That Place of Knowledge

From the Back:

Sabre, an autism assistance dog, stars as the perfect narrator in an imaginary journey to an enchanting city with Philip, his 15-year old partner. 

It all begins when Sabre is assigned to an autistic, non-verbal, boy who seems to have an adventurous streak. One sunny summer afternoon, the usual swim in the pool leads to an under water trap door opening a passage to a secret city. There, time seems to have stood still since Ancient Greece. 

The Classic surroundings are perfectly suited for wondrous, uplifting conversations. And that is just what Philip does. 

Sabre is right at his side as Philip encounters the philosopher Aristotle. Their conversations centre on a shared desire to seek knowledge, learning and happiness. 
Philip’s questions incite deep revelations, not only about himself but also about life in general. He gains insight and knowledge from Aristotle and it is clear that the philosopher also quite enjoys the company of his new friends. The young writer, who shows a wisdom beyond his years, gives you a glimpse of an alternate reality of deep and intriguing thought where you will want to return again and again.

My Reflections:

Philip Alan Shalka is one of a kind, and that is not because he was diagnosed with autism. This young 15-year old has more insight than most adults three times his age. His thoughtfully written story told in part by his dog guide Sabre is imaginative, captivating and enlightening. 

When asked to tell about himself Shalka acknowledges that most people don't expect much of a non-verbal autistic 15-year-old. I think we all need to take a good look at our perceptions and perceived expectations because this young man has a lot to say and it is quite profound and complex. 

Our misconceptions and overstated stereotypes are reducing the label of autism to one-dimensional diagnosis, whereas it is truly a multifaceted and complex set of characteristics that is not duplicated in each individual. 
If you have met one autistic have met one autistic person. 

Shalka is yet again a stark reminder that like Temple Grandin, autistic individuals have a lot to teach. Shalka is able to express his written thoughts in a unique and complex manner. I believe we must change the antiquated mindsets of the past and start to look upon these unique individuals with hope and admiration, as they have a very bright future.

"That Place of Knowledge" would be appropriate for all age groups. young people would enjoy the mystery and adventure surrounding the plot, along with the narrator of Saber the Dog guide. 
Adults will appreciate Shalka's views and philosophy in a deep and meaningful way. I don't think readers will come away from this very special book with the same perceptions the had going in. 

I am looking forward to reading more from this up and coming philosopher and author! 
I hope that he decides to write a memoir or perhaps books about how he views current therapies. I think I am not alone with my excitement over discovering ways in which we can improve on the cutting edge therapies currently available.

I aspire to discover ways in which the genius inside can be nurtured, because this young man is certainly someone you will want to keep your eyes open for, he will most certainly be changing the landscape of the autistic world!

About the Author:

*when asked to describe himself the author penned this response.

There is so much that I can say about who I am. My background is where my story begins.

I am the youngest son in my Ukrainian family. I have an older sister Roberta. We are the awesome kids of our awesome parents, Bob and Elena. How can I describe my family? They are interesting and supportive.

My parents traveled to many places and my sister is talented in drama. Most importantly, they all love me and think I am great. We have lived in this house for as long as I can remember. I was rather energetic growing up but mostly because I have always enjoyed seeing or hearing new things.
Typically much isn't expected from an autistic child. This might be the case for others but I am not typical. I understand things going on around me. Even if I look like I'm not paying attention, I actually am. I am just as capable of learning as anyone else. The difference is how I learn. I have
had many therapists since I was young that have worked with me to help me improve my skills. My time with my therapists really made a difference for me. I have found that working has made me feel smart. However that is not all.

At home my basement is my favourite place to be. (Phililps therapy room)
This is where I feel comfortable. I feel relaxed because it has been my space for so long. I feel like I always do my best work here. There is so much that I want to achieve in my life. I enjoy being different and people I look up to are those who have been known for being different. People like Albert Einstein. He was known for his intelligent ideas that were very different from anyone else's ideas. His ideas changed the entire world and I think that is exactly what I want to do. I think that it is important to inspire others. I would like to create something that is interesting and different that will inspire people in the future. Given all that I have said, I hope this is a good explanation of who I am as a person.

Friday, 30 September 2016

Book Review: A Heart Most Certain

From the Back:

". . . a memorable read for fans of redemptive historical romances."--Publishers Weekly on A Bride at Last
Lydia King knows what it's like to be in need, so she joins the Teaville Moral Society hoping to help the town's poor. But with her father's debts increasing by the day and her mother growing sicker by the week, she wonders how long it will be until she ends up in the poorhouse herself. Her best chance at a financially secure future is to impress the politician courting her, and it certainly doesn't hurt that his mother is the moral society's president. Lydia's first task as a moral society member--to obtain a donation from Nicholas Lowe, the wealthiest man in town--seems easy . . . until the man flat-out refuses.

Despite appearances, Nicholas wants to help others but prefers to do it his own way, keeping his charity private. When Lydia proves persistent, they agree to a bargain, though Nicholas has a few surprises up his sleeve. Neither foresees the harrowing complications that will arise from working together, and when town secrets are brought to light, this unlikely pair must decide where their beliefs--and hearts--truly align.

My Reflections:

I simply loved this book, everything about it was captivating. Melissa Jagears is a solid writer who can be counted on for producing entertaining and relevant novels, in this day and age that is saying quite a lot!
 I have always had a passion to help out women from all walks of life. This novel made me ponder just how my biased nature could view women and their delicate situations. It was an uncomfortable feeling but a very good reminder that we can not judge, or let our experiences color our judgment. God sees us all exactly the same. No one is better than another, sin is sin be it doing it or thinking about it..

Lydia King is in for a surprise, she thinks she is just going to waltz into Nicholas Lowe's office and come out with a hefty donation for the Teaville Moral Society. Things are rarely easy, however, and Nicholas is alike to Ebeneezer scrooge. Lydia's life is going to be turned upside down as she badgers the man incessantly. Not one to give up she intends to get what she is after, and perhaps a whole lot more!

Nicholas Lowe is used to turning people down, he is as pig-headed and stubborn as they come. However, what is is not accustomed to is a certain Miss King being so endearing and stubbornly beautiful! Nicholas sees potential in Miss King and her kind heart, coupled with unbending perseverance may be just what he needs to help him with his secret acts of charity.

This book can change the way you view life around you, it can open up your eyes to things unseen and unspoken, if you open up your heart and really soak in the underlining significance.

It is not a usual occurrence to come away from a novel and ponder the issues in my surrounding community and the ways I can contribute to society as a whole. This book is so well rounded it is labeled historical fiction but it is oh, so much more than that. We have redemption, self-sacrifice, hypocrisy, charity and deceit all wrapped up in a beautifully done well-flowing story line that melds all these elements perfectly. 
Sigh, I so can't wait for Jagears next edition!

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc


  1. Melissa Jagears

    Melissa Jagears, an ESL teacher by trade and the author of A Bride for KeepsA Bride in Store, and A Bride at Last, is a stay-at-home mother on a tiny Kansas farm with a fixer-upper house. She's a member of ACFW and CROWN...
    Continue reading about Melissa Jagears

Book Review: A Tapestry of Secrets

From the Back:

What is the weight of a secret?

And what happens when that burden becomes almost too much to bear?
For decades, Perla Phillips has hidden the truth of a decision that still fills her with guilt. But now, seeing her granddaughter, Ella, struggle in a similar way, she's prepared to finally open the past to her family, no matter the consequences. But when the opportunity is snatched from her in a most unexpected manner, will she have waited too long?

Spanning generations, this moving family drama weaves together the interlocking stories of two women as they navigate relationships, family, faith, and the choices that will shape their lives. Heartwarming and nostalgic, the story explores the courage to share the wounds of the past and celebrates the legacy a family passes from one generation to the next.

My Reflections:

A Tapestry of Secrets is book three in Sarah Loudin Thomas's series Appalachian Blessings. 
Ah, I so enjoy reading a novel that you simply cannot put down, and this is one of those books. Lucky for me I fell sick with a terrible cold and had to read this book straight through!
Loudin Thomas has a unique style to her writing, she draws her characters in with slowly unfolding tidbits that develop the story line fully by its conclusion. Her style is so inviting and the story line is multidimensional which makes the reader feel like she has stepped into a whole new world. I so love when a book can take me away! 

Ella gets the call no granddaughter wants to receive, her beloved grandmother Perla has suffered a stroke. Ella rushes home to help care for her ailing grandmother, and in the process escape a certain Mark Arrington.

Ella is am an artist by trade so her profession is flexible enough that she is able to accommodate the needs of her family. Ella is prepared to hunker down and help where she is needed and hopes her dear grandmother can continue to stay in a familiar environment. With conflict arising from her aunt Sadie who would rather see Perla in a home, Ella must stand firm and do what is right. 
The plot thickens when a land developer arrives to build a hunting preserve. The townspeople along with Ella are concerned about the long-term impact this kind of development could have on this quiet little piece of heaven. This hunting lodge would be located right where the church is sitting. Although the church is suffering in many ways Ella is determined to stand strong for her family and the townspeople and do everything she can in order to save this refuge.

Perla has such little time to make her past known to her daughter and granddaughter. The stroke has taken her ability to communicate effectively, but is there some way in which she can convey the secrets that are locked in her mind?

I simply loved how the suspense builds as the story progresses, it makes it impossible to reenter your regular life until you reach the last pages. Definitely a page turner! I have read all three books in this series now Miracle in a Dry Season and Until the Harvest, and I can safely say that they all could be stand alone novels but to get your full enjoyment I would certainly recommend you read these as a series!

I am looking forward to the next book from this very talented author, so please hurry up and write Sara Loudin Thomas!

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc


  1. © Kristen Delliveniri

    Sarah Loudin Thomas

    Sarah Loudin Thomas is a fundraiser for a children's ministry and has written for Mountain Homes Southern Style and Now & Then magazines, as well as The Asheville Citizen-Times. She is the author of Miracle in a Dry Season and...
    Continue reading about Sarah Loudin Thomas

Monday, 26 September 2016

Book Review: The Artisan's Wife

From the Back:

As Ainslee McKay reluctantly leaves all she's known, the beauty of forgiveness and new beginnings comes to light in a West Virginian town with hidden depths. Ainslee McKay's world is upended when her twin sister secretly elopes and leaves Ainslee alone to move to Weston, West Virginia, to fulfill their obligation at the McKay family's new tile works. While her brother, Ewan, agrees to travel with her and help her learn the ropes, she still intends to sell this business she no longer wants if a buyer can be found.

When the talented Levi Judson arrives to show Ainslee his designs for new tiles, she's impressed at his skill and passion for the business but feels she must keep her true plans for the business a secret from him. And though Levi hopes for a long, successful career at McKay Tile Works, he's hiding his true reason for coming to Weston. Can the growing feelings between them survive if the truth comes to light--or is a future together as untenable as the future of the tile works itself?

My Reflections:

Judith Miller's newest book "The Artisan's Wife" is set in West Virginia in the late 1800's. This is book three in the series, Refined By Love. The final installment wraps up the previous books (The Brickmaker's Bride and The Potter's Lady.) 

I so loved getting to know the Mc Kay family and the three different professions the ladies were involved in. I was acquainted with the inner workings of a brick maker, a pottery maker, and now a tile maker. The history in Miller's books is well researched and extremely interesting, but then again I love museums and history alike!

Ainslee has given her word to fulfill her part in the tile business, much to her dismay her twin sister has eloped and the burden lies on Ainslie's shoulders. Making the best of a complicated situation she moves to West Virginia to run the new tile works business until her brother can sell it. Will the men of this new town listen to a young woman? Not wanting to make too many connections Ainslee works to cut her losses and move on with her life, that is until Levi Judson enters into the equation. 

Levi moves to Weston, West Virginia to be close to his brother Noah who is a patient in an Asylum. His brother, however, is not crazy!
When Ainslee Levi and Noah get together they discover a real, creative edge to the tile works designs, could this be a promising career or should Anslee cut her losses and return home to her safe and predictable life?

I so enjoyed Miller's female characters, they are strong, stubborn and delightfully real. I also enjoyed how this novel tied up the loose ends of the previous two. It was a delicious, bittersweet read as I knew I was saying goodbye to all my beloved characters!

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc


  1. Judith Miller

    Judith Miller is an award-winning writer whose avid research and love for history are reflected in her bestselling novels. Judy and her family make their home in Kansas. Learn more at
    Continue reading about Judith Miller

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Book Review: Your Powerful Prayers

From the Back:

The all-powerful God of the universe loves us and wants to talk with us--but it doesn't always seem that way. Why is prayer so hard at times? And why are some prayers answered while others are not? Susie Larson knows the struggle. But through the years she has learned to pray with confidence and joy, approaching God as His beloved child. 

In this warm and wise book, Susie shares how you, too, can reach the heart of God. Discover how to:

· Pray more persistently, humbly, and boldly
· Overcome common hindrances to effective prayer
· Combine reverence, expectancy, and a tenacious hold on God's promises

Prayer isn't merely a means to an end. God invites you to an intimate and profound dialogue with Him, to experience His movement in your life, and to know His overwhelming joy, power, and peace. Experience God's presence as He strengthens your faith, encourages your heart, and shifts your perspective.

Includes reflection questions for personal or group use. A DVD study companion is also available separately.

My Reflections:

Susie Larson's book Your Powerful Prayers was a balm to my parched prayer life. Her perspective and nurturing spirit spoke to those quiet places in me that usually get ignored with the bustle of everyday life.

Who wouldn't want the reminder that God loves us fiercely! 
God is right there waiting for you, all you need to do is talk to him. 

Meaningful and nourishing biblical truths mixed with honest and heartfelt stories make this a fabulous tool to get your prayer life vibrant again!

Broken down into three sections the reader is guided through relevant and well laid out topics that include God, Your Fortress, God Your Father and Jesus, Your King. 
The back also includes sample prayers. I loved this inclusion, sometimes my mommy prayers can be so repetitive, and predictable, it's nice to have something more substantial than "give me patience, wisdom, and stamina!" Or my favorite "help!" LOL kidding aside (well kind of) 
These prayers are handy to pray when words are lost and exhaustion is at its peak.

Larson's book is not a tool to get God to do what you want but rather a reminder to us of who God is and how the Bible says we should live and grow closer to him. 

I will certainly be checking out Larson's other writings and adding her to my author lists.
A great book for parents, prayer groups, or anyone looking to deepen their prayer journey.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc


  1. © Jenny Bedard Photography

    Susie Larson

    Susie Larson ( is a radio host, author and national speaker. She hosts her own daily live talk show,Live the Promise with Susie Larson, which airs across the Upper Midwest and in several other locations around the country. Active in...
    Continue reading about Susie Larson

Monday, 29 August 2016

Book Review: No Way Up

From the Back:

The Fight for the Cimarron Ranch Has Just Begun!
When Cimarron Ranch patriarch Chance Boden is caught in an avalanche, only the quick actions of hired hand Heath Kincaid save him. Before leaving by train to receive treatment to save his leg--and possibly his life--Chance demands that Heath read the patriarch's will and see its conditions enforced immediately. If Chance's three bickering adult children, Justin, Sadie, and Cole, don't live and work at the ranch for an entire year, ownership of the ranch will pass to a despised distant relative.

Before long, however, Heath discovers that the avalanche may have been intentionally set--and that more danger lurks ominously. Finding his own future--and a desired future with Sadie--locked up in saving the Cimarron Ranch, Heath and the Boden siblings must work together against outside forces that threaten them all.

My Reflections:

No way Up is Book one in Mary Connealy's newest addition, aptly named The Cimarron Legacy. 
chuck full of sweet romance,  dust billowing action and laugh out loud humor this novel certainly lived up to my top favorite author list. Although I may be a tad bias as I have read every single book Connealy has written and loved each and every one of them. 

This author has a way of writing that pulls the reader in. She writes with depth and forethought as her novels are woven like a fine tapestry seamlessly meshing into the next books. This series is no different, you will notice subtle little clues dispersed throughout the story which I am guessing will be later foretold in future novels.

The dust gets kicked up from the get go when three grown siblings try to pull it together to save the family ranch.  
Strong and tough as nails Sadie, will not wait around for a man to do a job she can do better, even if that man has a tender heart for her.
Heath is such a fine example of a "hero." Good character, upstanding citizen, and fearless beyond reason, however, he must try and woo a damsel who wants to do everything on her own terms. No simple task, luckily Heath has enough to keep him busy, as this cowgirl will not be roped with the flick of a wrist.

Mystery surrounds the Boden family and it is up to Heath to unbind the noose that is entangling this family, can he figure out the source before it's too late? Can these siblings, Sadie, Cole and Justin  stop bickering long enough so that they can work as a family team?

I am eager to read book two in this series, well done Mary Connealy!

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc


  1. Photo courtesy of Ginger Murray Photography

    Mary Connealy

    Mary Connealy writes "romantic comedies with cowboys" and is celebrated for her fun, zany, action-packed style. She has more than half a million books in print. She is the author of the popular series Wild at Heart, Kincaid Brides, Trouble in Texas,...
    Continue reading about Mary Connealy

Friday, 26 August 2016

Book Review: What Matters Most

From the Back:

Just when she can't take it anymore, Leta finally catches a break. But when things seem too good to be true, they often are.
Finding her dream job went right out the window when Leta Breckenridge had to quit school to help care for her mother suffering from dementia. When a delinquent account may force her mother into a less desirable facility, Leta is thrilled to land a high-paying job at an Austin public relations firm. But her seemingly ideal job turns into a nightmare when she learns the firm is a front for a political opposition organization--and that the research she's been collecting will be used against Nathan Emerson, the handsome senator she's swiftly falling in love with.

Nathan is a rising political star being pressured to run a bid to unseat the current governor of Texas. He's already in a relationship with a woman much better suited to be a politician's wife, but he's never met anyone like Leta. Could
 this feisty woman hold the key to his heart--and his future?

With emotional depth and keen insight into what drives us, Kellie Coates Gilbert offers a salient story that calls us to consider what we value most in this life.
Kellie Coates Gilbert is a former legal investigator and trial paralegal and the author of A Woman of FortuneWhere Rivers Part, and A Reason to Stay. Gilbert crafts her emotionally charged stories about women in life-changing circumstances in Dallas, Texas, where she lives with her husband. Learn more at

My Reflections:

Kelly Coates weaves a dynamic tale filled with suspense, political drama and a thread of scandal. 

Our protagonist Leta Breckenridge has relinquished her dreams of completing her education as a landscape architect, in order to take on unsatisfying low paying jobs to pay for a care home for her mother who is inflicted with dementia.

Struggling to make the payments she receives the news that her past due account at the care home will cause her to find other arrangements. 
Then she backs into a car. A car with a very handsome, important driver. One she hopes she will bump into again, perhaps with less damage! 

The light at the end of the tunnel seems to shine brightly when Leta lands a job at the Ladd Agency. A place where she can shine and show off her researching abilities. Although something seems to be off with her new job...

Such a fabulous book filled with twists and turns. I loved how the author Kelly Coates snags you from the first page. The book has a faced paced cadence, that seriously makes you want to put your life on hold until you flip the last page. If you enjoy contemporary fiction I would recommend you check this one out!

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc


  1. Kellie Coates Gilbert

    Kellie Coates Gilbert is a former legal investigator and trial paralegal, and the author of A Woman of Fortune and Where Rivers Part. Gilbert crafts her emotionally charged stories about women in life-changing circumstances in Dallas, Texas,...
    Continue reading about Kellie Coates Gilbert
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