After the Last Page

The five year old grandson picked up at picture book that looked like a tale of medieval knights and noble deeds of derring-do. In fact, it is a medieval picture dictionary or an abecedarian: Illuminations, by Jonathan Hunt.

illuminationsThe illustrator used the theme of illuminated manuscripts, giving each page an illuminated letter and then a gorgeous picture with a short definition of the word or term. There’s a beautiful page of a dragon and a knight eyeing each other, for instance, on the page for D.  But there is nothing else about the knight and the dragon.

The DPG thumbed through the book thoughtfully, growing more serious as he looked. Then he looked at his mother with tears in his eyes and his lip quivering as he explained, “I thought this was a book where the knight slays the dragon, but that’s not in here. He doesn’t kill the dragon.”

He felt better after I explained that what he was looking at was a dictionary, not a storybook. In the story, I told him, the knight would slay the dragon. Even if you don’t see it, that’s is what would happen.

“Sometimes it’s after the last page?” he asked.

He is only five, so he still understands. Knights must always slay the dragons. It is their duty. A world where the knights let the dragons live is a scary and dangerous place, and stories continue beyond the last page.

st. george and dragon gk chesterton quote fairy tales

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Free Kindle Reads: Christian Fiction; Christian Living

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Books are free at the time I found the links and pasted them here. This changes sometimes, so be sure to note the price before you add it to your cart.

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You don’t need a Kindle to read these. More at the bottom of the post


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In The Pursuit of Wisdom: The Principal Thing

Just think of everything that has changed throughout the years.

We have already experienced the rage of two world wars, the plagues, the storms, the earthquakes and the recent global economic crisis that has shaken the very foundation of the world.

This book will help you lean to the Bible as the source of wisdom.

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The 7 Habits That Will Change Your Life Forever

Blurb: Becoming a highly spiritual Christian needs to be the goal of every believer. Love in itself is an action and should be practiced habitually by everyone. We through love should be fervently seeking the Lord, and cherishing one another. We must be constantly portraying the heart of God toward one another on a habitual basis.

As it is written,
“Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits.’” 1Co 15:33

In this book we will distill the best habits down to the seven most productive ones. If practiced properly, they will carry over into every other category of life and drive you to become a highly spiritual Christian.

Around 20 highly positive reviews. The one negative review says, and I quote, “I don’t like this book. It is weird.”

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He Chose The Cross

Every Christian must master a sacrificial life. Just as Jesus gave Himself for us so we must practice for Him from a free heart. He was bound but not against His will. He was crucified, but He chose it freely to love you. We all can learn from His sacrifice and everyone has heard His story but never from His point of view. Until now.

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The Daily Walk Bible NLT: 31 Days with Jesus

Blurb: Most people agree that Jesus was an amazing teacher and someone we could all learn from. At the same time, most of us have spent little time actually reading his story. The Daily Walk Bible NLT: 31 Days with Jesus is an open invitation to do just that. In just one month you will read through all four gospels, seeing Jesus and gaining insight into his purpose and message for us.

This special eBook, taken from the pages of The Daily Walk Bible, includes a simple reading plan to help you through. Each day includes an Overview that provides a bird’s-eye view of that day’s reading, an inspirational and practical My Daily Walk devotion, and an Insight that offers an interesting fact about the passage. Every seventh day you will be invited to pause and reflect—looking back over what you have read, looking forward to what is coming, and most importantly looking up to God.

It’s that simple, but be warned, Jesus has been changing lives for two thousand years—31 days and yours won’t be the same either.

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8 Reasons Your Life Matters

Blurb; “If I were to disappear, would anybody notice?”

Each of us has asked that question in dark, honest moments.

In his first nonfiction book, 8 REASONS YOUR LIFE MATTERS, bestselling author John Herrick combines personal struggles with biblical insight. Injecting eight chapters with humor, memoir moments, and a postmodern perspective on life, Herrick shares eight reasons your life matters:

Your Life is More Permanent than Your Struggles
God Sees You Differently than You See Yourself
You Have a Destiny
You are Remembered, not Forgotten
You Were Someone’s First Pick
Your Absence Would Leave a Permanent Hole
People Need to See You Overcome
You are Loved and Valued

Eight solid reasons to give life one more chance. Eight reasons your life matters.

Join John Herrick, author of the novels From The Dead and The Landing, and discover fresh purpose for your life.

For readers who enjoy best sellers by John Maxwell, Joyce Meyer, and Joel Osteen.

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40 Days of Prayer

One of the most significant numbers in the Bible is the number 40. Many of the most well known Biblical events can be connected with the number 40. Moses stayed on the mountain with God for 40 days. After Noah built the Ark, it rained for 40 days and nights. The Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years. Goliath challenged the Israelites for 40 days. David and Solomon both reigned over Israel for 40 years. Jesus fasted and prayed for 40 days. Each time the number 40 appears, God does something huge. In 2012, God began to speak to my wife Barbara and I about major changes coming for our ministry, Dallas Metro Dream Center. We knew that in order for us to prepare for these changes, we needed to become the people that God wanted us to become. Our whole staff and board members read the book, The Circle Maker, by Mark Batterson. This book reminded us of a principle that we have based our entire ministry on- bold prayers changes things. Quickly after reading the book, we decided to commit to 40 days of prayer. Every morning, I sent out an e-mail devotion to set the tone for prayer for that day. Each day people began to hear about the 40 days of prayer and asked to be added to the list, and our prayer circle continues to grow. It was an incredible 40 days that made a huge difference in the lives of everyone involved.
I want to share these devotions with you. My prayer is that God will speak to you about changes He wants to make in your life. If we allow the Holy Spirit to work in us, God can take us further than we can even imagine. I challenge you to spend the next 40 days praying. What is it in your life or home that needs to be circled in prayer? Each day for the next 40 days, read the devotion and then spend time praying about it. You will be amazed at what God does.
In 2011, God gave me a verse to live by, and I have been standing on this promise ever since. Habakkuk 1:5 “’For I am going to something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.” What is it that God is going to do? Ask. He will tell you.
Clay Wallace

Reader Review: While it was a decent, it was written for a pretty specific time and place. There is still value in it as a general guide, and I think the author makes some excellent points, but it would be nice if they would revise and release a version that is a bit less tailored to one situation.

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Transgression: A Time-Travel Suspense Novel (City of God Book 1)

He has well over 300 four and five star reviews and just a handful of one star reviews.

Blurb: What If …?

What if you were studying for your Ph.D. in archaeology and decided to take a break from your crummy life by working on an archaeological dig in Israel?

What if you met a great guy in Jerusalem who happened to be a world-famous theoretical physicist working on a crazy idea to build a wormhole that might make time-travel possible … someday?

What if he had a nutball colleague who turned the theory into reality — and then decided to use YOU as a guinea pig to make sure it was safe?

What if the nutball had a gun and went on a crazy, impossible mission to hunt down and kill the apostle Paul?

It’s A.D. 57 when Rivka Meyers walks out of the wormhole into a world she’s only studied in books. Ancient Jerusalem is awesome! Rivka can’t believe her friend Ari Kazan’s theory actually worked. But when she runs into Ari’s whacko colleague, Damien West, in the Temple, Rivka starts to smell a rat.

When Ari discovers that Damien and Rivka have gone through a wormhole that’s on the edge of collapse, he has to make a horrible choice: Follow them and risk never coming back — or lose the woman of his dreams forever

Reader Review: What do you get when you mix time travel, a Jewish man and woman who seriously disagree about their religion, the Apostle Paul, a dastardly fiend, and a prostitute?
Randy Ingermanson has pulled off an amazing feat, combining these eclectic elements into an action-packed novel that readers of diverse backgrounds can enjoy. The characters are believable; the premise is fresh and twisting. And with a Ph.D. in theoretical physics, Ingermanson handles the questions of time travel with aplomb, masterfully weaving them into his plot.
TRANSGRESSION is a rolicking, exciting read. This is a book I’ve recommended to many friends, and none has been disappointed. Fans of Ari and Rivka will be glad to know that Ingermanson plans more books in this series.

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Creston Mapes is the author of the #1 Amazon bestselling Christian fiction mystery, Nobody, along with the bestselling Christian fiction thrillers Fear Has a Name, Dark Star and Full Tilt.

Ideal for fans of Ted Dekker, Frank Peretti, Jerry Jenkins and Joel Rosenberg.

There’s More Than One Kind of Poison in This Town
People are sick and dying. Rumors are swirling. Some claim chemicals leaking from a manufacturing plant are causing the cancer that’s crippling people on the poor side of Trenton City, Ohio. Yet nothing at the plant appears amiss. The problem remains a mystery until reporter Jack Crittendon’s long-time mechanic falls ill and he investigates. Soon Jack becomes engulfed in a smokescreen of lies, setups, greed, and scandal. The deeper he digs, the more toxic the corruption he uncovers. As he faces off with the big-time players behind the scenes and tries to beat the clock before more people die, he realizes the chillingly unthinkable–he knows too much.

Reader Review:
Poison Town is the second book in the Crittendon Files series. It can be read as a stand-alone novel. Jack Crittendon is the main character. He is a journalist with the daily paper in Trenton City. A friend of his falls ill and rumors abound that the cause of the illness and the illness of many on that side of town is from the chemical emissions from the fiberglass plant on that side of town. Jack wants to do an investigative piece for the paper, but his editor is resistant. But Jack is like a dog with a bone and won’t let it go, and begins investigating one his own.

This was a very good book from the start. It is current in its theme and relevant to society today. Creston Mapes has a beautiful way of intertwining two stories together to develop his characters and help us understand and empathize with them. In this book, Granger Meade returns to town after being released from prison for kidnapping Pam, Jack’s wife. Jack is angry, fearful and wants revenge. Pam has come to terms with what has happened. The interpersonal relationship between Jack and his wife is realistic and adds to the stress of the situation of the main story.

I really enjoyed the plot of this novel. There were characters who were involved in things that were totally unexpected, yet not totally out of character. I really enjoyed that Mr. Mapes wrote his book in such a way that I could totally agree with Jack that something fishy was going on and when Jack was trying to convince someone else who wouldn’t believe him, I would get frustrated with that character just as Jack did.

Jack’s character was believable. Most Christians go through periods of doubt, or backsliding or times when they are just far away from God. The same is true of Jack Crittendon.

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The Scent of Lilacs (The Heart of Hollyhill Book #1)

469 reviews, only 4 of them are four star, nothing lower. The vast majority are wildly positive.

Until the summer of 1964, the most Jocie Brooke had to worry about was trying to be nice to obnoxious Ronnie Martin, being bombarded with Aunt Love’s Scriptural quotes and wondering whether her father would become interim preacher at Mt. Pleasant church.

She hadn’t had an entirely easy childhood. Her mother left, taking along Jocie’s older sister, seven years earlier.

Outside of a general curiosity about the woman who gave birth to her and periodically missing the sister she fondly remembers, Jocie had come to terms with having an unconventional family. She had her father, of course, and her grandmother and great-aunt.

Perhaps the most important person in her life, after her own dad, was “Jupiterian” and newspaperman extraordinaire, Wes. He had shown up out of nowhere not intending to stay, but an instant attachment to young Jocie meant he was still there a decade later.

Now, God had answered two of Jocie’s prayers–for a dog and the return of her sister Tabitha. Both were blessings in their own way, yet both also proved to be portholes to long-buried family secrets.

Jocie, having been weaned on the Bible and newspaper publishing, was a truth seeker and therefore determined to discover everything she could. However, when one hidden detail hit too close to home for her, she decided she wasn’t ready to face it. Soon the greater threat of having to confront tragedy just might be what’s necessary to put things into proper perspective for her.

The majority of Ann Gabhart’s novel has the feel of the relaxed summer it’s set in. Life, and the plot progression, is initially simple and easy-going.

One never knows what surprises God and nature has in store, though. Turbulent skies and unsteady pasts can change a person’s life in an instant.

Readers should not be fooled or prematurely disappointed by what appears to be a sluggish beginning. In The Scent of Lilacs, surprises wait around every corner.

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It’s Your Call: What Are You Doing Here?

Blurb; Discover God’s calling for your life …

Few spiritual concepts have fascinated and confused people more than understanding God’s calling for their life. Is it primarily about a job or a role? It is precise or general? Is a calling only reserved for those who work in professional ministry?

The truth is actually amazingly profound: What we are supposed to do is what we most want to do.

This is a guide for discovering God’s design and destiny for your life. Drawing from over 20 years of experience in ministry, Gary Barkalow shares how you can:

Live alert and oriented to the voice and choreography of God.
Discover and interpret the voice of your own story.
Discern the strategic assault against your calling.
Recognize God’s intentional training in your life’s journey.

Most of all, you’ll be inspired to let the glory of your life touch the world around you.

Reader Review: I just finished “It’s Your Call,” and I found the book refreshing, insightful, and delightfully written. I want to recommend it to all my Christian friends, in fact, to all my friends.

And I want my church to put this into practice.

Most religious organizations–and I’ve been a part of many–think mechanically about their members. We, as an organization, have a need and we look for someone to fill it. Scripture, however, offers an organic metaphor for the church’s organization, a body. So, instead asking ourselves “what do we need” we should be asking “why did God bring to us so-and-so–what do they uniquely bring?”

And as individuals we need to be asking: what am I called to offer? It’s Your Call describes how to find an individual’s “calling” so we can offer the very thing that we can uniquely provide. Our uniqueness–due to history, experience, gifts, gender, etc.–means we have something to offer that no one else in the world has to offer.

I struggled with the term “your glory.” It seems so, hmm, arrogant or self centered. But the author has a very long section on character development, with a great section on humility. Our calling is the “weightiness” of what we have to offer the world, so I tried calling it “your weightiness.” Apart from reminding me that I need to diet, I realized “weightiness” is simply the real Hebrew meaning of Glory (kaboth), thus I ended up agreeing with the author: there is a Glory (weightiness) that God does indeed have for each of us to offer the world.

Alas, I hate to agree with authors. It’s more fun to criticize; but he nailed this one.

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Consider the Thorns (The Trampled Rose Series Book 2)

First of all, let me say trigger warning, and I am not being goofy. Take a deep breath and move on if you need that kind of warning.
From the Author
“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” (Psalm 34:18 NLT)
We are meant to be beautiful roses that grow and bloom under the warmth of God’s love. However, many things can come through the garden of our lives and threaten to trample those roses. Some are things we let in, and others we have no control over. The weeds that threaten to choke our growth, the storms that threaten to rip the petals off, and the feet that carelessly trample over us might seem like insurmountable problems to an average gardener. During these trampling times, we must remember that He is the Master Gardener.Trampled Rose Series features women whose spirits are crushed. Miracles in Disguise, Consider the Thorns, and I’ll Settle for Love (coming Fall 2013), are the first three books in the series.
About the Author
Michelle Brown is a housewife, mother of three, military spouse, writer, blogger, hopeless romantic, and a cuddly lap for one very large cat. She was born in Dayton, Ohio, but raised in El Paso, Texas. And since she married her husband, the military has blessed her with the opportunity to live in many locations, from Germany to Pennsylvania, where she now resides. When she was a teenager, her mother used to take her to used books stores at least once a month. It was there she fell in love with the written word. As a writer, she uses this passion to share with others the joy of having a personal and intimate relationship with Christ.

Blurb: Barbara Houlton is a best-selling romance author, known for her achingly sweet love stories. However, her own love-life is nothing to write home about. Raped on the eve of her high-school graduation, she was left pregnant and scarred, both emotionally and physically. She has learned to hide the physical scars, but the emotional scars that taint her soul become harder to hide each day. Sarcasm, avoidance and denial have become weapons to keep her monstrous past at bay. Barbara avoids her home town at all costs. She denies to all those who are concerned for her that there is anything wrong. And those who try to pass her protective boundaries are met with her cutting sarcasm. Her emotional scars make intimacy a frightening thing, and those who try to grasp this beautiful rose are quickly met with her thorns. Instead, she loves through her characters, embracing her romantic dreams with every book she writes, and convinces herself it is enough.

When her father falls ill, she is forced to return home to Hamilton, New Mexico, a small town that comes with big problems, the biggest of which is Steve Meston. Steve has had a crush on Barbara since high school. But he is no longer the awkward, shy boy from her youth. He is now confident, handsome and relentless in his pursuit of her, despite her best efforts to put him off. His patient and steadfast love back her into a corner, and she finds that all her weapons are useless against his sweet love. Now she must stop avoiding and confront her past, or lose the one man who was able to get past her thorns.

Reader Reviews:

The subject of recover from rape and sexual assault is not something I’ve ever seen tackled in a Christian Romance novel before, but Michelle Lynn Brown did a masterful job. She realistically showed the difficulty of a woman’s struggle to get over the mental and emotional scars to allow herself to be loved by God or man. This story also takes a look at the relationship between a single mother and a daughter whose relationship was damaged by the actions of a violent man. I highly recommend this read!

Reader Review You must be in the mood for a deep book
This book covers a very heavy subject matter with the main character having been raped. This is not giving anything away as this is told in the first chapter if the book. Although this book does have romantic elements it seems like more of a drama too me. It was sad for me to read because the story is pretty heartbreaking for most of it. The end is uplifting and it does end on a good note. The story line reveals Gods love. I do think this was well written and the author covers a difficult subject in an inspirational way. However I will confess for me, this book made me feel a bit sad in spite of the happy ending. I think this is the type of book you need to be mentally in the mood for.

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Land of Dust and Tears (A Prairie Heritage)

Blurb: Look for Book 6, Lost Are Found, the compelling conclusion of the series, A Prairie Heritage, October 18!

Land of Dust and Tears is the gripping prequel to the breakthrough historical novel, A Rose Blooms Twice, and is the foundation of the acclaimed series, A Prairie Heritage.

Brothers Jan (Yahn) and Karl Thoresen have left their native land of Norway and braved many perils and hardships to bring their families to America—the land of freedom and hope. Like thousands of others, Jan and his wife Elli long for the opportunity of a better life and a future for their children.

After enduring an ocean crossing and the arduous journey west, they encounter a land so vast and wide that it defies mastery. Jan finds that his struggles are not only with the land, but with a restless and unmanageable heart. Will Jan find a way to overcome this wild land or will the prairie master him?

Author’s Note:
Land of Dust and Tears is also published as Part 1 of Wild Heart on the Prairie, Book 2 of the series, A Prairie Heritage. Land of Dust and Tears is priced to introduce you to this beautiful saga. Read the conclusion of Land of Dust and Tears in Part 2 of Wild Heart on the Prairie.

The author suggests that you follow your read of Land of Dust and Tears with A Rose Blooms Twice, Book 1 of A Prairie Heritage, followed by Wild Heart on the Prairie, which includes Land of Dust & Tears and concludes the story in Part 2.

A Prairie Heritage:
Prequel: Land of Dust and Tears
Book 1: A Rose Blooms Twice
Book 2: Wild Heart on the Prairie
Book 3: Joy on This Mountain
Book 4: The Captive Within
Book 5: Stolen
Book 6: Lost Are Found, October 18, 2014

“Vikki writes the kind of faith-filled fiction that hooks you within the first few pages, will not let you go until you have finished, and leaves you wishing for more.”
—Janis Braun, Seattle, Washington

“Her books are not just for ‘chicks’! I was amazed how engrossed I became in the lives of Vikki’s characters, and how much I could relate to their situations.”
—Ed Dunne, Los Angeles

“Be prepared to put life on hold. That’s all I have to say!”
—Rebecca H., New Jersey

“You will laugh, you will cry but, most of all, you will be uplifted.”
—LaTisha Holland, St. Augustine, FL

Reader Review (there are around a hundred, all very positive) A beautiful written book. Captured you within the story with the drive and spiritual force of people, families conquering hardships of life during this period of time. Even though there were sadness and hardships the story gave you an uplifting feeling that life can go on with joy and a future with God being your leader.

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Time and Again (The History Mystery Series Book 1)

Blurb; Book 1 in the “History Mystery” Series

Abby Thomas is spending the summer in a run-down old house with a bratty pre-teen named Merrideth she is supposed to tutor. Not a dream job. But it does come with perks.

There’s John Roberts, a devastatingly attractive neighbor who is almost too wonderful to be real.

And there’s the new computer program Beautiful Houses—also too amazing to be real. No one knows how it works, but with it she can rewind and fast-forward the lives of all the people who ever lived in the house, including Charlotte Miles.

In 1858, the house is a train stop on the Alton & Chicago Line. And Charlotte is stuck there serving meals to the passengers, wondering if she’ll ever get to have any fun. And then she meets two travelers who change her life forever.

There’s James McGuire with whom she falls in love. And there’s his boss, a young Springfield lawyer named Abraham Lincoln. His debate with political opponent Stephen Douglas catapults him onto the national stage. And it inspires Charlotte to take up the cause of abolition.

The House

A stop on the Alton & Chicago Line. A stop on the Underground Railroad.

Watching the house’s history unfold, Abby and Merrideth gain a new perspective on their own lives as time and again they see God’s loving hand in the lives of its inhabitants.

Reader Review: When Abby volunteered to be a tutor over her summer break from college, she had no idea what she would get into. Abby ends up living with Merrideth, a sullen preteen dealing with being a child of divorce, and Pat, her well meaning but largely absent mother. Merrideth is resistant to Abby, and spends most of her time complaining that she misses living in the city. When Abby and Merrideth learn that the house they are in is full of history, and that this history can play out in real time on a program on Merrideth’s computer, the girls form a very unique and powerful bond.

Let me start off by saying this book had a very unique premise to me, sort of a “Back to the Future” meets virtual reality, with a little dash of “Seventh Heaven” thrown in. I loved the idea of this book being focused on several generations of women. Abby and Merrideth are wonderfully developed characters, and I loved watching them bond over the history behind the house and its previous inhabitants. I though Merrideth was a fairly accurate representation of a sullen tween girl with a tense family life. I actually felt a lot of sympathy toward Pat’s character, what little we saw of her. I think there is more to her story.

I felt like this book had two distinct storyworlds, one in the present, and one in the past, and both were developed in rich detail. The historical aspects of the story were particularly fascinating to me, and I really loved learning the backstory to the house and town. I liked how real historical facts were woven into that backstory as well. I was a little confused about the technical aspects behind the computer program, and whether or not it was a program or internet based; the plot could have been just a bit tighter and more clear regarding the program, but I do understand that the writing may have been intentionally ambiguous in order to build mystery.

There is a definite Christian flavor to the book, without being preachy or over the top. Abby’s character is a Christian, though she has her flaws, and there are some scenes where biblical principles are discussed, but I think that the book still has secular appeal. The book is actually appropriate for both young adult and adult readers. All in all, I found this an engaging, entertaining read, and I hope that there are more stories to follow.

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This is a 3 star reader review: Messages was a very enjoyable book. The writing was what I would call an easy read. Smooth and easy to follow, which made reading very nice. Although the storyline was message-driven it was very entertaining and had enough of the unexpected to keep me wanting to read more. Although marketed to adults I think this could easily be enjoyed by teenagers and young adults since the violence is not graphic. The Kindle version is a good price so for the value I give it a good rating.

Good things said, if you are looking for a book that will go down as a classic this is not it. The story needed to be tightened up and fine-tuned.The plot-line has some things in it that should have been corrected by the proof-readers. (Maybe John needs a new editor.) For instance – why would a ten year old boy be allowed play outside alone when terrorists are looking to kill him? Why, when one finds out their family is in mortal danger, would he not call them immediately to warm them? Why when your cell phone is your lifeline do you leave it in the car? Why did the news crew have to give obvious GPS coordinates to a “geek” to find out what the numbers meant? Why did the FBI and Homeland Security disappear from the storyline? What intelligent person thinks the President of the USA is the one responsible for starting wars and sending troops over seas? Are they not aware on how our government works? But even with the story problems the book was enjoyable.

Overall I enjoyed the book. The biblical worldview was obvious to the reader and the conversations between David and Frank were interesting. There’s a fine line sometimes between a contrived message and the message being part of the story. This book was walking that line. I would have liked the ending of the book to not stop so suddenly. The plot-line was mostly complete but the characters needed to have closure. Seemed like it needed an extra chapter.

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The Collins Case (Heartfelt Cases Book 1)

Blurb; Working for the FBI certainly isn’t a “normal” job, but Special Agent Julie Ann Davidson has never encountered a case as personal as this one. Although not officially assigned to the case, Ann and her partner, Patrick Duncan, take up the cause of finding Rachel, Jason, and Emily Collins. As if that task wasn’t enough, Ann and Patrick also have a baffling case of internet thievery to investigate.

Who is Christopher Collins and what about his past is endangering his family? Where are Rachel and the kids being held? Where is God in the midst of chaos? Will Ann and Patrick arrive in time or will they find only pain?

Reader Review: Julie Gilbert is writing in a very competitive field, but boy, does she pull it off. Her style is perfectly-pitched for young teens, with a warm, intimate tone, a gripping storyline that never lets up the suspense, and believable family characters.

There are evil villains and dastardly plots afoot, but not a single word in this novel is misplaced or unfit for kids to read — in fact, there is a wholesome Christian theme — I won’t call it a “message” because the book is primarily a thriller — which makes sense of the awful things that happen in real life.

Snappy dialogue, lots of interesting characters and a mystery that holds up to the end make this a thrilling read. My 14 year-old loved it, too!

Highly recommended to kids and parents.

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No Greater Love

“No Greater Love” is a beautiful and gripping romance that has been repeated over the centuries. It will enhance your life – pulling you into its pages to experience tender love, tears, the terror and hardships of war, hope, and unspeakable joy. The novel contains true to life situations that Christians find themselves facing every day; therefore, the author recommends it for mature readers only.
The troops are coming home but will it be too late for Emily and Scott? Step into the emotional mountains and valleys of this young couple as they are torn thousands of miles apart to serve their country.
Scott and Emily fell in love at first sight while Scott was serving in the Marines. After Scott gives twelve years of service to his country, they are extremely happy to start a new life in the civilian world where everything is going great for them. With only a few weeks until his final discharge papers are to arrive, they are shocked to learn that Scott must report back for duty in the war zone.
This romance is set in the beautiful Smokey Mountains near Black Mountain, North Carolina, and in a lonely world far away where Scott goes to serve his country as a 1st Lieutenant in the United States Marines Corp.
The novel will allow you to experience a few of the challenges that face a military family when their loved one is in harm’s way serving their country. It will remind you of the need and the power of prayer and it will help you understand God’s great gift of love to man.
This book is dedicated to all American men and women who are now serving, or have served, in our armed forces since the beginning of this great country and to their families who have endured hardships here at home.
We are especially grateful to those who served and came home gravely injured and for those who made the ultimate sacrifice so we might live free.
We must never forget that the price our soldiers have paid for freedom is so great it cannot be calculated.

88 pages

Reader Review: This novel is full of emotion starting with a sweet love story entwined in the life of an American military family, the joy and sorrow that these families must endure, and the realization of the love that God has for us all. I became a part of this family feeling the trials that a military family must go through and I have a greater appreciation for all of our American soldiers and the sacrifice that they give for America’s freedom. The author did a superb job of portraying each character as I felt this family’s joy and pain is truly what our American military families experience. I can’t wait for the sequel!

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Subject to change without notice: Free Titles were free at the time I copied and pasted the links. But they don’t always stay free.  Deals were reduced prices at time of listing, but these prices generally don’t last more than the day they were listed.

Same for reduced price titles.

Shameless money grubbing: I thought this was common knowledge, but it turns out it’s not- these are affiliate links. If you click on a free title and download it, I get….. nothing.  If you click on a free title and while you are at Amazon also buy something else, I get….. something.  Depending on what you buy, it will probably be somewhere between 4% and 7.5% of what you spend (I don’t get a percentage on penny sales) but I don’t pretend to understand how all of that side works.

Also, Swagbucks remains my favorite source for free Amazon gift cards. And if you haven’t joined, please click on the link and join so that I can keep getting free Amazon gift cards because I am still shameless.

Don’t have a Kindle? : You don’t have to have Kindle to take advantage of these offers. You can read them on various free reading apps. I often read mine on my laptop if they are short enough books, even though I have two kindles.  That’s because my kids keep taking off with the Kindles to read their school books and they don’t remember to recharge them before returning.  I wouldn’t say I’m bitter about it, but I might be a little disgruntled. If you’re curious, this is the Kindle I have, and I have used others and mine remains my favorite. Mine has Keyboard 3G, Free 3G + Wi-Fi and I don’t have commercial screensavers.  The second Kindle is actually one I was given in exchange for some writing work, and I gave it to my two teens.  It does not have 3G, which is why it’s their Kindle.  Personally,  I don’t like Kindle Fires because I am a crank like that.

If you like these free listings, you should also like my Facebook page, because I list other free titles there several times each week.

Yes, my Kindle gets slow because I stuff it too full. You can left click on a title on your Kindle anddelete it from your device, while still keeping it in your list of titles at Amazon in case you want to add it back to your Kindle later without paying for the title all over again. Don’t delete it from folder at Amazon unless you want to rid yourself of it permanently.  Now that I have my tricksy little new phone, I have added it to my list of devices to which I can download devices.  Woot!

Most of the blurbs and book descriptions above are not mine, but come from  reviews on Amazon’s page.

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Vintage Fall Colouring Page and Poetry: Under the Chestnut Tree

vintage children under chestnut tree autumn fall


Other ideas: Print, color if desired:

paste to thin cardboard.  Cut into four squares and use as a puzzle.

laminate, play ‘find the…’ with your younger children (or don’t print, just do this with the picture on the computer screen)- find the squirrel, find the basket, where are baby’s shoes? etc.

Tell a story about the picture.

Here is some information on the artist:

Florence Pearl England Nosworthy

Here is some information on gathering, storing, and using chestnuts.

Obligatory inclusion of the poem famous for the line ‘under the spreading chestnut tree…’

The Village Blacksmith


UNDER a spreading chestnut tree
The village smithy stands;
The smith, a mighty man is he,
With large and sinewy hands;
And the muscles of his brawny arms 5
Are strong as iron bands.

His hair is crisp, and black, and long,
His face is like the tan;
His brow is wet with honest sweat,
He earns whate’er he can, 10
And looks the whole world in the face,
For he owes not any man.

Week in, week out, from morn till night,
You can hear his bellows blow;
You can hear him swing his heavy sledge 15
With measured beat and slow,
Like a sexton ringing the village bell,
When the evening sun is low.

And children coming home from school
Look in at the open door; 20
They love to see the flaming forge,
And hear the bellows roar,
And watch the burning sparks that fly
Like chaff from a threshing-floor.

He goes on Sunday to the church, 25
And sits among his boys;
He hears the parson pray and preach,
He hears his daughter’s voice,
Singing in the village choir,
And it makes his heart rejoice. 30

It sounds to him like her mother’s voice,
Singing in Paradise!
He needs must think of her once more,
How in the grave she lies;
And with his hard, rough hand he wipes 35
A tear out of his eyes.

Onward through life he goes;
Each morning sees some task begin,
Each evening sees it close; 40
Something attempted, something done,
Has earned a night’s repose.

Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend,
For the lesson thou hast taught!
Thus at the flaming forge of life 45
Our fortunes must be wrought;
Thus on its sounding anvil shaped
Each burning deed and thought!

This one is far less known, but is specifically about gathering chestnuts:

gathering chestnuts poem 1

gathering chestnuts poem 2

gathering chestnuts poem 3

gathering chestnuts poem 4

From Onkel Jeff’s Reminiscences of Youth, and Other Poems, Volume 1
By Thomas Jefferson Boyer Rhoad, 1904


If you like this, Lisa kindly put it together as a more printable set of coloring page and poems here- thanks for sharing, Lisa!

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Things Mother Used to Make: Biscuits

2014-10-20 09.52.12The original receipt is from the 1914 cookbook Things Mother Used to Make A Collection of Old Time Recipes, Some Nearly One Hundred Years Old and Never Published Before, by Lydia Gurney

Here’s the recipe as it appears in the cookbook:

=Cream of Tartar Biscuits=

1 Pint of Flour 2 Teaspoonfuls of Cream of Tartar 1 Teaspoonful of Soda 1/2 Teaspoonful of Salt 1 Tablespoonful of Lard

Stir cream of tartar, soda, salt and lard into the flour; mix with milk or water, handling as little as possible. Roll and cut into rounds. Baking-powder can be used in place of soda and cream of tartar.

This is pretty much what I did, except I had to use vegetable shortening and I did make use of the baking powder instead of cream of tartar and soda because I couldn’t find my cream of tartar. The converted recipe is reposted below (scroll down).

Preheat the oven to 400.

Get out all your ingredients and the tools you’ll need.  Oil a baking pan. Remember to set your ingredients all together on the left side of your bowl, and as you finish using them set them down on the right.

2014-10-20 09.12.54
Measure the dry ingredients into the bowl and stir with a fork.

Add the lard- or other fat. You could use coconut oil or ghee.  I was surprised at the small amount of fat in this biscuit recipe, but I used just a Tablespoon to see how it worked, and it was fine.

I prefer to cut fat into the flour mixture of biscuits or pie crust using a Pastry Blender.  I start on the outside of the bowl, press down and in, and work my way around, periodically shaking or scraping off the blades of the pastry blender.  For this small amount of fat, you could also use a fork.

Gently stir in a little milk- I didn’t measure.  Just pour in your liquid and stir until the dough is thick and soft but not too sticky, and kind of clears the sides of the bowl.

This dough isn’t ready yet.  I scraped the sides and then added a little more flour.

2014-10-20 09.12.46

Mix until there is no loose flour in the mix.

This dough was soft enough that I didn’t even need to roll it. I put the ball of dough on a surface lightly dusted with flour and then just pressed it down with my hands until it was the size I wanted.

tough biscuitI don’t cut round biscuits anymore. It entails too much rolling and rerolling.  Not only do I find this tedious, but the more you manhandle and meddle with the dough, the tougher the biscuit (that’s a metaphor for child-rearing, too).

So I spread out my dough- I made these too thin.  Aim for about 1/2 an inch thick-  and then I use a pizza cutter to make squares.  I will usually end up with a couple of smaller corner pieces.  I squeeze those together to make one handshaped rounder biscuit.

2014-10-20 09.22.09

Put the biscuits onto your greased baking sheets and bake on a middle rack of the oven  at about 450 for 10-12 minutes.

2014-10-20 09.46.51

Serve hot

2014-10-20 09.51.17

With plenty of butter

2014-10-20 09.51.52

And maybe some fruit or jam.

Modern Version:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease cookie sheet.

2 cups of Flour- I used freshly ground whole wheat pastry flour
2 Teaspoonfuls of Cream of Tartar and 1 Teaspoonful of baking Soda OR one scant tablespoon of aluminum free baking powder
1/2 Teaspoonful of Salt
1 Tablespoonful of Lard (or other fat)

Stir cream of tartar, soda, salt and lard into the flour, using a pastry blender or a fork to cut the fat into the flour; mix with milk or water, handling as little as possible. Roll and cut into squares.  Slide on baking sheet.  Bake for 10 to 13 minutes.

Baking-powder can be used in place of soda and cream of tartar.

2014-10-20 09.51.34

I ordered more Cream of Tartar from Amazon. It’s permissable on whole30 whereas baking powder is not. With the 15% discount for 5 subscribe and save items, comes out to just .46 an ounce.

My shortening: Spectrum Organic Shortening , it’s non-hydrogenated. I bought several containers on sale a while ago.

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My Whole30 Shopping List from Trader Joe’s

trader joe whole30 shopping list

The nearest TJ is 90 miles from me, and I don’t get in the car and go anywhere but to therapy and an occasional rare outing for very special occasions these days. However- a friend who lives closer was starting whole30, and she lives halfway between TJ and me.  She offered to pick things up for me.  So I asked around.  Here are some of the things to look for:

  • Pumpkin spice coffee with no artificial ingredients is a seasonal item, and this is the season.  This is good stuff.  Tip:  I put a spoonful of Thai Kitchen Coconut milk (the organic kind has no other additives) in my coffee and then I put in a spoonful of canned organic sweet potato some some cinnamon. I know this sounds weird, but the sweet potato tastes just like pumpkin.
  • Figs right now,both fresh and in the frozen section.  I find their fresh fruit section entirely hit and miss, so check it out, but you might need to go elsewhere for other things.
  • Their frozen fruit and frozen vegetables are very good- although do read labels on the mixes.  I accidentally got a stirfry mix with edamame (soy) in it, and soy is prohibited.  I had plenty of frozen fruit on hand, so I didn’t get any, but I did get their tri-color peppers and their pearl onions, as well as those stir-fry vegetable mixes.  I’ve used the stir-fry mix before and it was really, really good.  Maybe I could just pick out the edamame in mine.
  • Freeze-dried fruits- these are nice to have in the car for quick snacks when you didn’t quite plan as well as you meant to.
  • dried unsulphered fruits
  • Nuts and nutbutters: I buy my nutbutters locally and freshly ground- the fresher the grinding the better for the best flavor, and the difference between fresh and in a jar on the shelf is significant.  But if you don’t have a fresh source and don’t want to make your own, then these are good, or so I’ve been told.  No peanut butter for the whole30 eating plan, of course. You can do sunbutter.  Go for organic, I’ve heard the non-organic has some other additives you don’t want.
  • Coconut milk (only the lite cans at TJ have no additives, so I didn’t get any because I don’t like lite.  After trying three other brands of coconut milk which I despised, I am a pretty loyal Thai Kitchen organics customer and am afraid to try any others. But if you’re not as passionate about Thai Kitchen as I am, maybe you’ll like their Lite coconut milk)
  • spices and herbs, including saffron at a very good price (for saffron)
  • Plantain chips (YUM!)- 1.69 for a smallish bag. There are three ingredients- plantain, olive oil or sunflower oil, and salt.  Chips are not precisely whole30 for psychological reasons, so think twice.  And then get them anyway and just limit yourself.  Good as crunchy toppings on salads. 
  • California Estate Olive Oil, also garlic infused olive oil
  • coconut oil
  • Cheese from grassfed animals in New Zealand- well, we used to buy this when I wasn’t doing whole30, which disallows all dairy but ghee. Just thought I’d through it in there.
  • TJ’s seafood blend (shrimp, scallops and calamari) = from the frozen section this was amazingly delicious, a total wow for my mouth.  But it’s  7.99 for a bag that is somewhere between 12 and 16 ounces.   A different kind of wow. But I am torn.  So, so delicious.
  • Cruciferous Crunch~ This is a blend of shredded broccoli, kale, red cabbage, & brussels sprouts in a bag all ready to use in the produce section.  2.29  I have used it twice now for stir-fries and love it.  
  • Smoked Paprika, as well as other herbs
  • Chicken broth
  • Grassfed beef- 
  • Olives, especially the garlic stuffed (you can also find these at Vitacost)
  • Prosciutto
  • 2014-10-19 23.14.15 I’m undecided about this one- Trader Joe’s Coconut Cream.  It has two ingredients that surprised me.  Guar Gum, which is Whole30 compliant, and sodium carboxy methyl cellulose, which I assume isn’t, but I don’t know. It’s also in toothpaste and other things we put in our mouths, medications, and more.  It helps maintain a stable, consistent, smooth, creamy texture. I was thinking of using2014-10-19 23.14.32 it for my coffee so as to leave more of my Thai Kitchen coconut milk for soups and curries. 
  • Eggs (I didn’t buy any, but you might want to)

The Whole30 website is here, and I suggest you take a look at it and don’t take my word for whether or not anything here is approved.  I’m just trying it out, and I haven’t read the book yet (I keep nagging one of the girls to put it on hold for me at the library).

I started doing this September 6 or 7.  I haven’t been totally faithful- I had three total cheat meals so far.  I snack and they frown on that. I eat more nuts than they say I should.  I put stevia in my coffee. I made pancakes that have all whole30 ingredients but pancakes are totally not allowed (no substitutes for yummy baked ingredients).   On the other hand, I don’t sweeten things with fruit juice, eat white potatoes, and I almost never eat dates or raisins, all very high carb, high glycemic index foods that are permitted on Whole30.   So I’m not really doing the program as much as using it for some major guidelines 90% of the time.

In spite of all the cheating, and the fact that I have seen great-toes sloths with more energy and a more active lifestyle than I have, I have lost ten pounds, which isn’t all that much, but it’s not nothing, either.


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Milkweed Pod Coloring Page

milkweed pod coloring page


I think this would make a pretty bookmark.

Here are pictures I took of the milkweed the grandbabies and I picked a few weeks ago.

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George and Martha Visit The Equuschick

You remember George and Martha, yes? Of course you do. Because no self-respecting reader of the Common Room could neglect George and Martha: The Complete Stories of Two Best Friends, those two lovable hippos and their many adventures.

There is one particular George and Martha tale, from which original collection The Equuschick now can’t recall, where George begins painting a beach scene and Martha stands behind him and critiques his careful work. The trees look funny. The sand is the wrong colour. Etc. In a huff, George stalks off and leaves her with the painting to see if she can do better. “My,” she says, “some artists are so touchy.” Her finished work is very much in the modern abstract style, with splashes of colour everywhere that splashed coloured paint right back all over Martha. George is aghast. “You’ve ruined it!” he cries. But Martha “was one of those artists who aren’t a bit touchy.”

The other day at The Equuschick’s, the children painted.

Here is the Dread Pirate Grasshopper’s work of art:
haydons art

Carefully and pain-stakingly done, the colours just so and a careful attention to the lines and where they were. He was very pleased, delighted in fact, with his work and its exactitude.

Here is the Ladybug’s masterpiece:
Lizzies art

She was also pleased with her work. The Dread Pirate Grasshopper was not. His spirit was neither critical or mean, but he was sincerely distressed. “You’re RUINING it,” he kept crying in dismay. “Oh dear, be careful! You’re messing it ALL UP!”

Fortunately however, the Ladybug (like Martha) is “one of those artists who aren’t a bit touchy.”

Liz for blog

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Atrazine, Syngenta and the EPA

New_Yorker_HayesSeveral years ago Dr. Hayes did some research studies that indicated to him atrazine in our water was causing birth defects and fertility issues in frogs.

What is atrazine?

What it is: Atrazine, a white, crystalline, solid organic compound, is the second-most heavily used herbicide in the United States.

Where it’s used: According to its main manufacturer, the Swiss corporation Syngenta, atrazine is used on two-thirds of all cornfields and sorghum fields in the United States and on 90 percent of sugar-cane fields. It is also used on residential lawns, golf courses, and Christmas-tree farms. More than 76 million pounds of atrazine are applied annually, mostly in the Midwest and Southeast. It is applied to the soil before planting to control broadleaf weeds and some grassy weeds.


Rather than address the problem, atrazine’s maker, Syngenta, targeted Dr. Hayes and spent years trying to destroy his reputation- and worse. You can read about it here:

” Liu and several other former students said that they had remained skeptical of Hayes’s accusations until last summer, when an article appeared in Environmental Health News (in partnership with 100Reporters)* that drew on Syngenta’s internal records. Hundreds of Syngenta’s memos, notes, and e-mails have been unsealed following the settlement, in 2012, of two class-action suits brought by twenty-three Midwestern cities and towns that accused Syngenta of “concealing atrazine’s true dangerous nature” and contaminating their drinking water. Stephen Tillery, the lawyer who argued the cases, said, “Tyrone’s work gave us the scientific basis for the lawsuit.””
The unsealed documents also revealed Syngenta’s bizarre secret campain to undermine Dr. Haye’s professionally and personally.

You needn’t swallow it all whole.  Some of Syngenta’s actions are just the basic self-defense mechanisms any human or institution would take.  Actions that aren’t unethical are couched in terms that make it seem otherwise. There’s a rebuttal of sorts here (it’s even more poorly sourced than the New Yorker, which is ironic).   However, it seems to me there is more than enough information here to cause concern.

More here:

By 1999, working with African clawed frogs that he had raised in his lab, Mr. Hayes began to see indications that doses of atrazine in concentrations as low as one part per billion would inhibit the growth of the larynxes of male frogs. He says he shared the information with colleagues on the Ecorisk panel and with Syngenta. The findings were noteworthy, he says, because under EPA guidelines, atrazine is considered safe in drinking water as long as it is found in levels no greater than three parts per billion.

Panel members asked for additional confirmation of his findings, but Mr. Hayes says they would not provide payment or approve guidelines for the additional work. By controlling the money, “they had control over the pace of the work,” he says. By mid-1999, “I started to feel like they were stalling progress.” He agreed that analyses of additional samples were necessary, but was frustrated that the money for the work was not forthcoming. He says he eventually did the additional analysis with his own funds.

By early 2000, Mr. Hayes was eager to begin a second round of analyses, but he still could not get approvals for the financing or the research protocols. By September, he says, he was growing so impatient that he decided to begin that work on his own, assuming that Ecorisk and Syngenta would eventually reimburse him for his costs. He paid for some of the work with money from grants from his department and from awards he had won. His rapport with his students helped. Many of them volunteered their time.

The new studies looked not only at the larynxes but also at the sex organs of the frogs treated with atrazine. Mr. Hayes says that by early fall, he began seeing signs that the effects of atrazine on the sex organs of male frogs were occurring at levels as low as 0.1 parts per billion—a concentration a tenth of that affecting the larynxes. “The testes essentially start changing,” he says, because atrazine triggers production of estrogen. “They grow ovaries and eggs.”


The EPA still approves attrazine for use in our food crops.  In some areas it’s even used on lawns.

In 2012, the EPA again approved atrazine for use in America’s crops.  According to the New Yorker article:

the E.P.A. determined that atrazine does not affect the sexual development of frogs. By that point, there were seventy-five published studies on the subject, but the E.P.A. excluded the majority of them from consideration, because they did not meet the requirements for quality that the agency had set in 2003. The conclusion was based largely on a set of studies funded by Syngenta and led by Werner Kloas, a professor of endocrinology at Humboldt University, in Berlin. One of the co-authors was Alan Hosmer, a Syngenta scientist whose job, according to a 2004 performance evaluation, included “atrazine defence” and “influencing EPA.”

During Eisenhower’s 1961 farewell address to the nation he issued a warning that is eerily prescient:

During the 1961 address, in which the president famously warned of the danger to the nation of a growing armaments industry referred to as a “military-industrial complex,” he included a few sentences about risks posed by a scientific-technological elite. He noted that the technological revolution of previous decades had been fed by more costly and centralized research, increasingly sponsored by the federal government.

“Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields… ,” Eisenhower warned. “Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity.”

While continuing to respect discovery and scientific research, he said, “We must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.”

Regulations at agencies like the EPA are written not by elected officials, not usually even by scientists, but by bureaucrats and lobbyists who are the offspring of the unholy alliances of crony capitalism.

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Fall Picture to Color

vintage fall girl with squirrel



Primary Plans, Volume 7

By Elizabeth P. Bemis, 1909

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Free Kindle Titles, history, biography, and more

Books are free at the time I found the links and pasted them here. This changes sometimes, so be sure to note the price before you add it to your cart.

Sometimes, for some reason, the links get stuck while loading. Just refresh the Amazon page and that should help.

You don’t need a Kindle to read these. More at the bottom of the post.

1.99 for Georgette Heyer’s These Old Shades (Alastair-Audley Book 1)


Education in The Home, The Kindergarten, and The Primary School- vintage, published in 1887.


Whoever proposes to become a kindergartner according to the idea of Frœbel, must at once dismiss from her mind the notion that it requires less ability and culture to educate children of three, than those of ten or fifteen years of age. It demands more; for, is it not plain that to superintend and guide accurately the formation of the human understanding itself, requires a finer ability and a profounder insight than to listen to recitations from books ever so learned and scientific? To form the human understanding is a work of time, demanding a knowledge of the laws of thought, will, and feeling, in their interaction upon the threshold of consciousness, which can be acquired only by the study of children themselves in their every act of life—a study to be pursued in the spirit that reveals what Jesus Christ meant, when he said: “He that receiveth a little child in my name, receiveth me, and Him that sent me;” “Woe unto him who offends one of these little ones, for their spirits behold the face of my Father who is in heaven.”

Not till children who have been themselves educated according to Frœbel’s principles, grow up, will there be found any adult persons who can keep kindergartens without devoting themselves to a special study of child-nature in the spirit of devout humility. For we are all suffering the ignorance and injury inevitable from having begun our own lives in the confusions of accidental and disorderly impressions, without having had the clue of reason put into our hands by that human providence of education, which, to be true, must[2] reflect point by point the Divine Providence, that according to the revelations of history is educating the whole race, and which may find hints for its procedure in observing the spontaneous play of children fresh from the hands of the Creator.

books black and white


Thorns In The Heart: A Christian’s Guide To Dealing With Addiction

Reader Reviews: I first read this book several years ago. I was so impressed, I gave my copy away. Thus began a mission of sorts, to try and keep a copy, yet provide copies to others who struggle with pain in their lives. Many times I have faced crises and pain in my life and found help in Thorns in the Heart. It helps lead me to the One who loves us most and encourages me to place my trust, in all situations and circumstances, in Him. I have been learning that I don’t need to carry pain in my heart.

5.0 out of 5 stars Pain explained in a way that resonates February 8, 2011
By Emmanuel DeNike
This book has changed my life. It addresses the issues of addiction, pain, and human frailty with compelling and poignant depth. Similar to The Problem of Pain, by C.S. Lewis, which searches the interface between human suffering and the meaning of life from a philosophical and spiritual perspective, Steve Stiles has put forth a practical approach that strikes at the heart of the human condition. At the same time his writing is accessible, to the point that people from all walks of life can put the ideas to use in their own lives, as well as when trying to understand and help friends and family members. The stories of heart-wrenching pain are written with beauty and grace, and serve to provide real-life examples that elucidate so much of the material. My spiritual life, view of addiction, and approach to my own pain will never be the same.

books black and white

The Life of Marie Antoinette- a vintage title


By the spring of the next year all the necessary preparations had been completed; and on the evening of the 10th of April, 1770, a grand court was held in the Palace of Vienna. Through a double row of guards of the palace, of body-guards, and of a still more select guard, composed wholly of nobles, M. de Durfort was conducted into the presence of the Emperor Joseph II., and of his widowed mother, the Empress-queen, still, though only dowager-empress, the independent sovereign of her own hereditary dominions; and to both he proffered, on the part of the King of France, a formal request for the hand of the Archduchess Marie Antoinette for the dauphin. When the Emperor and Empress had given their gracious consent to the demand, the archduchess herself was summoned to the hall and informed of the proposal which had been made, and of the approval which her mother and her brother had announced; while, to incline her also to regard it with equal favor, the embassador presented her with a letter from her intended husband, and with his miniature, which she at once hung round her neck. After which, the whole party adjourned to the private theatre of the palace to witness the performance of a French play, “The Confident Mother” of Marivaux, the title of which, so emblematic of the feelings of Maria Teresa, may probably have procured it the honor of selection.

The next day the young princess executed a formal renunciation of all right of succession to any part of her mother’s dominions which might at any time devolve on her; though the number of her brothers and elder sisters rendered any such occurrence in the highest degree improbable, and though one conspicuous precedent in the history of both countries had, within the memory of persons still living, proved the worthlessness of such renunciations.[1] A few days were then devoted to appropriate festivities. That which is most especially mentioned by the chroniclers of the court being, in accordance with the prevailing taste of the time, a grand masked ball,[2] for which a saloon four hundred feet long had been expressly constructed. And on the 26th of April the young bride quit her home, the mother from whom she had never been separated, and the friends and playmates among whom her whole life had been hitherto passed, for a country which was wholly strange to her, and in which she had not as yet a single acquaintance. Her very husband, to whom she was to be confided, she had never seen.

Though both mother and daughter felt the most entire confidence that the new position, on which she was about to enter, would be full of nothing but glory and happiness, it was inevitable that they should be, as they were, deeply agitated at so complete a separation. And, if we may believe the testimony of witnesses who were at Vienna at the time,[3] the grief of the mother, who was never to see her child again, was shared not only by the members of the imperial household, whom constant intercourse had enabled to know and appreciate her amiable qualities, but by the population of the capital and the surrounding districts, all of whom had heard of her numerous acts of kindness and benevolence, which, young as she was, many of them had also experienced, and who thronged the streets along which she passed on her departure, mingling tears of genuine sorrow with their acclamations, and following her carriage to the outermost gate of the city that they might gaze their last on the darling of many hearts.

books black and white

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass- his own story as told by himself. A classic.


As to my own treatment while I lived on Colonel Lloyd’s plantation, it was very similar to that of the other slave children. I was not old enough to work in the field, and there being little else than field work to do, I had a great deal of leisure time. The most I had to do was to drive up the cows at evening, keep the fowls out of the garden, keep the front yard clean, and run of errands for my old master’s daughter, Mrs. Lucretia Auld. The most of my leisure time I spent in helping Master Daniel Lloyd in finding his birds, after he had shot them. My connection with Master Daniel was of some advantage to me. He became quite attached to me, and was a sort of protector of me. He would not allow the older boys to impose upon me, and would divide his cakes with me.

I was seldom whipped by my old master, and suffered little from any thing else than hunger and cold. I suffered much from hunger, but much more from cold. In hottest summer and coldest winter, I was kept almost naked—no shoes, no stockings, no jacket, no trousers, nothing on but a coarse tow linen shirt, reaching only to my knees. I had no bed. I must have perished with cold, but that, the coldest nights, I used to steal a bag which was used for carrying corn to the mill. I would crawl into this bag, and there sleep on the cold, damp, clay floor, with my head in and feet out. My feet have been so cracked with the frost, that the pen with which I am writing might be laid in the gashes.

We were not regularly allowanced. Our food was coarse corn meal boiled. This was called mush. It was put into a large wooden tray or trough, and set down upon the ground. The children were then called, like so many pigs, and like so many pigs they would come and devour the mush; some with oyster-shells, others with pieces of shingle, some with naked hands, and none with spoons. He that ate fastest got most; he that was strongest secured the best place; and few left the trough satisfied.


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DIY HOUSEHOLD HACKS: 50+ HOLIDAY DIY Cleaning and Organization Hacks: BONUS CLEANING RECIPES INSIDE! (DIY Household Hacks – DIY – DIY Cleaning and Organizing … Hacks – DIY Household – Crafts & Hobbies)

Get Organized! How Cleaning Out Your Spaces Can Help You Become More Productive, Happier, & A Lot More Efficient

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Economic Crisis: World Food System – The Battle against Poverty, Pollution and Corruption

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Indoor Gardening: How to Grow a Luscious and Thriving Herb and Vegetable Garden Indoors (Your Guide to Growing Fruits, Vegetables, and Other Plants Indoors)

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Twelve Years a Slave: Narrative of Solomon Northup- another classic, recently made into a movie. Solomon Northup was a free black, kidnapped by slavers as so many northern blacks were, and shipped south to fill the ranks of the enslaved. He spent 12 years, in violation of laws both southern and northern, as a slave before he regained his freedom.

 Narrative of Solomon Northup, a Citizen of New-York,
              Kidnapped in Washington City in 1841, and Rescued in 1853,
              from a Cotton Plantation near the Red River in Louisiana

The Dedication: TO
Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin,

Excerpt: But in all the crowd that thronged the wharf, there was no one who knew or cared for me. Not one. No familiar voice greeted my ears, nor was there a single face that I had ever seen. Soon Arthur would rejoin his family, and have the satisfaction of seeing his wrongs avenged: my family, alas, should I ever see them more? There was a feeling of utter desolation in my heart, filling it with a despairing and regretful sense, that I had not gone down with Robert to the bottom of the sea.
Very soon traders and consignees came on board. One, a tall, thin-faced man, with light complexion and a little bent, made his appearance, with a paper in his hand. Burch's gang, consisting of myself, Eliza and her children, Harry, Lethe, and some others, who had joined us at Richmond, were consigned to him. This gentleman was Mr. Theophilus Freeman. Reading from his paper, he called, "Platt." No one answered. The name was called again and again, but still there was no reply. Then Lethe was called, then[Pg 76] Eliza, then Harry, until the list was finished, each one stepping forward as his or her name was called.
"Captain, where's Platt?" demanded Theophilus Freeman.
The captain was unable to inform him, no one being on board answering to that name.
"Who shipped that nigger?" he again inquired of the captain, pointing to me.
"Burch," replied the captain.
"Your name is Platt—you answer my description. Why don't you come forward?" he demanded of me, in an angry tone.
I informed him that was not my name; that I had never been called by it, but that I had no objection to it as I knew of.
"Well, I will learn you your name," said he; "and so you won't forget it either, by ——," he added.
Mr. Theophilus Freeman, by the way, was not a whit behind his partner, Burch, in the matter of blasphemy. On the vessel I had gone by the name of "Steward," and this was the first time I had ever been designated as Platt—the name forwarded by Burch to his consignee. From the vessel I observed the chain-gang at work on the levee. We passed near them as we were driven to Freeman's slave pen. This pen is very similar to Goodin's in Richmond, except the yard was enclosed by plank, standing upright, with ends sharpened, instead of brick walls.
Including us, there were now at least fifty in this pen. Depositing our blankets in one of the small[Pg 77] buildings in the yard, and having been called up and fed, we were allowed to saunter about the enclosure until night, when we wrapped our blankets round us and laid down under the shed, or in the loft, or in the open yard, just as each one preferred.

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The History of Normandy and of England Volume 1
by Francis Palgrave
Blurb; Pyrrhus Press specializes in bringing books long out of date back to life, allowing today’s readers access to yesterday’s treasures.
This is Volume 1 of a comprehensive history of the Normans and Anglo-Saxons in France and England respectively, culminating with the Norman Conquest by William the Conqueror in the 11th century. That event, one of the most influential of the millennium, charted a new course for the history of England.
From the preface:
“The richness of our Anglo-Norman history is so exuberant that I could not bring myself to compress the vintage into a juiceless residuum. Therefore, renouncing the hope of prosecuting the work to the Tudor era, I finally determined to restrict myself to such a portion or portions as my times would allow:—not stintedly, but upon a scale commensurate with their value;—hence the bulk which the work has acquired.
Arnold was blamed for the length of his volumes. I would reply to the like objection, should it be raised, in Arnold’s words: “I am convinced by a tolerably large experience, that most readers find it almost impossible to impress on their memories a mere abridgment of history the number of names and events crowded into a small space is overwhelming to them, and the absence of details in the narrative makes it impossible to communicate to it much of interest. Neither characters nor events can be developed with that particularity which is the best help to the memory, because it attracts and engages us, and impresses images on the mind as well as facts.”
Not merely are meagre abridgments devoid of interest, but, under the existing circumstances of society, they become snares for the conscience, seducing men to content themselves with a perfunctory notion of history, and, when occasion calls, to act upon imperfect knowledge.
Historical truth never can be elicited save by comparison. Particularly is this labour of comparison incumbent upon every one who, in his sphere, may be called upon to legislate or influence the duty of legislation, a duty perhaps involving the most fearful responsibility which can devolve upon any human being; for the function of the Lawgiver is the highest exercised by man. Human institutions are rarely, perhaps never, beneficial or mischievous, simply in themselves; they become beneficial or mischievous by their relation to other institutions; and therefore when presented to ratiocination without these concurrent circumstances, they only mislead the judgment, substituting words and phrases for real knowledge. No one book, however excellent, can teach you singly and alone. History requires no less study than Law. We cannot dabble in its practical application. Would you take upon yourself to pay down your purchase-money for an acre of land, upon your knowledge of conveyancing derived from Blackstone’s Commentaries
The publication of a work which has occupied the best part of my life is not unattended by considerable anxiety. In every stage it has been spoken that is to say, written down by dictation, and transcribed from dictation. Advantages and disadvantages, counterbalancing each other, attend this mode of composition. The sound of his own voice encourages the speaker to express his mind more fully than when he is sitting before his desk.—The single amanuensis represents a whole audience. But a speaker may also be seduced into many liberties of speech, and tempted to indulge in digressions and fancies which would not have occurred to him if penning his silent thoughts in solitude.”

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The Fathers of New England A Chronicle of the Puritan Commonwealths

Reader Review: This book was originally published in 1919, and is more thorough than many newer publications. That being said, it was published in 1919 and more recent scholarship will dispute some long held facts, that does not diminish it’s contribution to colonial history. It is certainly a great starting place.

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An American Holocaust: The Story of Lataine’s Ring

On March 18, 1937 one of the most modern public school buildings in America exploded in a rural Texas community decimating the student population and destroying innocent lives. Considered the worst public school disaster in U.S. history, controversial theories surrounding this tragedy are still debated to this day. The event sparked changes that soon reverberated around the world and continue to affect each of us in our homes, schools, businesses and places of worship.

“An American Holocaust” is a story that begins with the giving of a child’s Christmas gift in 1936. The explosion took place at the London School in New London, Texas. This story relays more than simple facts. It is a personal account of unprepared loss and shattered dreams, followed by unfathomable grief. It describes the feelings of those who died in their innocence and of those who witnessed horror and lived through the aftermath. An unresolved silence persisted for forty years among the entire community of scarred survivors. For those who spoke out, their stories have been told and re-told for over three quarters of a century, but most people have never heard them.

Although the innocent still suffer from the ignorance and indifference of a few, especially those we should be able to trust with the lives and safety of our children, this is also a story of hope. Countless lives have been saved by bold actions that were taken in the wake of this unanticipated sacrifice of so many children who were literally consumed by fire on the day a generation died in Texas.

The following is an editorial review by John E. Roper, The US Review of Books:

“I remember being thrown up in the air like a toy… I keep turning and spinning. Then darkness.”

The attack on the World Trade Center in New York claimed almost 3,000 lives and changed America forever. A little-remembered explosion of a school in the 1930s resulted in just over 300 deaths, yet it, too, had a tremendous impact on society. Barger revives the story of one of the nation’s most poignant tragedies in his highly-moving tale.

The school in New London was considered one of the most modern facilities in the state for the time period, and the residents of the small East Texas town were extremely proud of it. Like in many of the small towns near the oil fields, school officials had decided to tap into the natural gas lines to cut heating costs at the facility. What they never realized was just how dangerous that practice could be. On March 18, 1937, a spark in the wood shop ignited the cloud of invisible and odorless gas that had slowly permeated the school. The resulting explosion killed children and teachers alike, littering the area with body parts and completely devastating a community. The catastrophe led Texas to mandate the inclusion of an additive to natural gas that would enable people to smell it. The nation and then much of the world soon followed suit.

Barger’s book follows the lives of several families affected by the tragedy, including his own. By giving the reader glimpses into the hopes and dreams of individuals like his cousin, Lataine, he builds a literary memorial to those who lost so much to make others safe in the future… it stands as a much-needed reminder of an event that should never be forgotten.

Reader Review: this book hit me in the heart and had me in tears. told by a member of one of families affected, with stories from survivors passed down a couple generations and verified this book tells the story of a school explosion in 1937 that didn’t make it into history book I read. it happened in New London, Texas, a gas leak in one of the first schools to be heated by natural gas lead the world wide regulations that put mercaptan in all natural gas lines. a must read for those who are interested in our countries industrial development.

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South! (Illustrated)
by Ernest Shackleton

Blurb: In 1914, as Europe braces for an unfathomably deadly war, explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton sets sail for Antarctica to do the impossible: traverse the continent. He has a ship (the aptly named Endurance), a head brimming with optimism, and 28 men willing to follow him on an expedition across some of the most treacherous terrain on the planet. But Shackleton’s optimism doesn’t last long. Despite his experience in the Antarctic, disaster strikes early on when the Endurance is trapped in packed ice and slowly crushed, forcing Shackleton and his men off the ship and stranding them in a sea of ice.

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Loyal To A Degree

Blurb: A World War Two Historical Fiction Novel Based On A True Story

A young boy in Nazi Germany is forced to become a man well before his time or perish.

As 14-year-old Karl Veth listens to the German special OKW report, the news he has feared and anticipated becomes a reality. Russian tanks have broken through the German defense lines east of the KLV evacuation camp in Poland where he and 120 other German boys are living. The time has come to leave the camp and return to Berlin.

Despite his young age, Karl is a trained member of the Hitler Jugend (Hitler Youth) and the assistant to KLV camp leader. Due to injuries sustained in battle, the camp leader is handicapped and unable to see to the evacuation of the boys from the camp. The job falls squarely on Karl’s shoulders as orders come from headquarters putting him in command of the mission. He must refine and execute an evacuation plan that will reunite the boys with their families and he must do it on his own. Berlin has no soldiers to spare.

Once back in Berlin, Karl is reunited with his good friend and fellow Hitler Jugend member, Harold. The two boys are close and share a common bond – they are both “subway rats.” They earned the nickname because of the time they spent playing in and exploring the subway tunnels under Berlin when they were younger. They are experts when it comes to the subway system but little do they know that their unique knowledge of the tunnels will put them in grave danger.

When SS leaders learn that Karl is a subway rat, they take advantage of his knowledge and order him to act as a guide for SS demolition commandos in the tunnels. Having been relieved of his previous post, Harold is ordered to assist Karl. The SS cannot be trusted and Karl walks a fine line between life and death as he follows orders while working on a secret plan with Harold. The fall of Berlin is imminent and it’s only a matter of time before the Russians take over the city.

Facing death at every turn, Karl must use his wits simply to stay alive. As the chain of command breaks down, the SS starts conducting court martials on the fly, executing anyone with a single bullet in their pocket. Meanwhile, the nightly air raids continue, scorching the city and leaving the stench of death in the air. Chaos reigns as the Russian Army moves closer and closer.

As a member of the Hitler Youth growing up, Karl has been taught that loyalty to the Fatherland comes first, yet he is fighting for a cause he does not understand. In the final days before Berlin falls, Karl finds himself hungry, scared, and completely disillusioned with the war. He also realizes that he can only afford to be loyal to a degree as he is forced to make a crucial decision – live or die.

Review: Our family has always been interested in history, so when I heard about this book, I had to read it.
This story is nothing like any of the others you may have seen/heard/read over the years.
This is the true account of a young man (a boy, actually) who had to make decisions during the final days of WWII.
No child should have to grow up before he/she is ready, but to survive, that is what Karl Veth had to do.

I have become so enamored with Karl. Everything he did, everything he had to go through and endure, yet, he always looked out for the others he met along the way.

He did not voluntarily choose his path, but he did it to the best of his ability, yet kept with him something very important; his morals.

Karl made me laugh, cry, and call out to him.

This is a very touching, very true story. I cannot wait for the next installment from this very talented writer/historian. Horst Christian has truly captured what happened during those final weeks.

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Sometimes when you click on a link, for some reason it won’t finish loading. Just hit refresh and it should work.

Subject to change without notice: Free Titles were free at the time I copied and pasted the links. But they don’t always stay free.  Deals were reduced prices at time of listing, but these prices generally don’t last more than the day they were listed.

Same for reduced price titles.

Shameless money grubbing: I thought this was common knowledge, but it turns out it’s not- these are affiliate links. If you click on a free title and download it, I get….. nothing.  If you click on a free title and while you are at Amazon also buy something else, I get….. something.  Depending on what you buy, it will probably be somewhere between 4% and 7.5% of what you spend (I don’t get a percentage on penny sales) but I don’t pretend to understand how all of that side works.

Also, Swagbucks remains my favorite source for free Amazon gift cards. And if you haven’t joined, please click on the link and join so that I can keep getting free Amazon gift cards because I am still shameless.

Don’t have a Kindle? : You don’t have to have Kindle to take advantage of these offers. You can read them on various free reading apps. I often read mine on my laptop if they are short enough books, even though I have two kindles.  That’s because my kids keep taking off with the Kindles to read their school books and they don’t remember to recharge them before returning.  I wouldn’t say I’m bitter about it, but I might be a little disgruntled. If you’re curious, this is the Kindle I have, and I have used others and mine remains my favorite. Mine has Keyboard 3G, Free 3G + Wi-Fi and I don’t have commercial screensavers.  The second Kindle is actually one I was given in exchange for some writing work, and I gave it to my two teens.  It does not have 3G, which is why it’s their Kindle.  Personally,  I don’t like Kindle Fires because I am a crank like that.

If you like these free listings, you should also like my Facebook page, because I list other free titles there several times each week.

Yes, my Kindle gets slow because I stuff it too full. You can left click on a title on your Kindle anddelete it from your device, while still keeping it in your list of titles at Amazon in case you want to add it back to your Kindle later without paying for the title all over again. Don’t delete it from folder at Amazon unless you want to rid yourself of it permanently.  Now that I have my tricksy little new phone, I have added it to my list of devices to which I can download devices.  Woot!

Most of the blurbs and book descriptions above are not mine, but come from  reviews on Amazon’s page.

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