Odyssey Adventure Club iPad Mini Giveaway!

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The end of summer is in sight, and OAC is giving away an iPad Mini back-to-school bundle!
It might seem like summer just began for your kids, so if they need some added motivation to get their homework done, remind them they can jump on the Odyssey Adventure Club after their papers are written and their math problems are solved.

As members, your kids can also listen to Album 58 before the album is released to the public! Sign up today for just $5!

Here’s what part one is about (which you can listen to for free HERE):

It’s a time of surprises as Wooton becomes the celebrity guest at Comic-Connellsville and Whit finds himself in conflict over the upcoming “Let’s Get Together Festival” in Odyssey. Plus, hear an interview with writer-director Paul McCusker about the entire 14-part series.

Album 58 was inspired by Focus on the Family’s The Family Project, a 12-session small group experience that explores the theological, philosophical, and cultural underpinnings of the traditional family, and combines that information with inspiring stories and practical tools to help 21st-century families thrive.
Plus, here’s a sneak peek of a new episode called “The Lone Lawman”!

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Jason, Whit, Red and the gang rustle up herds of fun while performing a new Kids’ Radio show set in the Old West. “The Lone Lawman” features a confused boy getting mixed up with a shifty band of bank robbers. Can a hero on horseback set things right? See just how wild the West can get in this action-packed send-up of old-time radio dramas.

NOW . . . on to the iPad Mini back-to-school bundle.
One grand prize winner will receive:

  • An iPad Mini

Hurry, the giveaway ends on August 27th. All winners will be announced August 28th on the widget on this page.

Don’t miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to visit this page again on the 28th to see if you won! (You’ll see the winner’s name in the widget.)

Book Review: Pilgrim’s Wilderness

Pilgrim’s Wilderness
by
Tom Kizzia

According to the book description on randomhouse.com, Tom Kizzia has captured the story of the Pilgrim family in a book that is “Into the Wild meets Helter Skelter in this riveting true story of a modern-day homesteading family in the deepest reaches of the Alaskan wilderness—and of the chilling secrets of its maniacal, spellbinding patriarch.” The book tells the story of the Pilgrim family’s fight with the National Park Service over land they purchased in a national park in Alaska. Papa Pilgrim has a twisted view of religion and lords over his family with these crazy notions, leaving one to question whether his family actually abides by these rules by choice or more as hostages. His religious fervor combined with his anti-government mentality leads to a situation that the back of the book calls “an era-defining clash between environmentalists and pioneers ignited by a mesmerizing sociopath who held a town and a family captive.”

For some reason, I am fascinated by stories of those who have been in cults or very fundamentalist religions.  I enjoy reading their accounts and learning more about these factions that we sometimes don’t even know exist. That’s the reason I picked up this book, I thought it would be an interesting story, unfortunately that wasn’t the case for me this time.

It’s not very often that I pick up a book and am not able to read through the whole thing without losing interest; I love reading so I’m usually game for ready most anything.  That was not the case with this book.  With a subtitle that boasts about it being “a true story of faith and madness on the Alaska frontier,” I expected the book to be something that would really pique my interest and tell an intriguing story.  While I’m sure the story is fascinating, I can’t get through how much information is included.  There’s so much description and detail at time that I lost the story trying to get through it all. The writer also bounces around in time, going back and forth between past and present.  Given the amount of other information included, I think  I would have been able to follow it better if it was set up in chronological order. I’m sure there’s an interesting story under all the fluff, but I have yet to find it.  I’ve had this book for two months and haven’t even gotten halfway through it.

Disclaimer:
I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for this review. All thoughts are my own and I was not required to write a positive review.

Exciting Giveaway

A few months ago I was given the opportunity to read and review Kim Vogel Sawyer’s book, Through the Deep Waters. You can read that review here, but to make a long story short it was a really good book and I really enjoyed reading it.

I’ve been given the exciting opportunity to test out a new method of hosting giveaways and one of you lucky readers will receive your very own copy of this fantastic book. All you have to do is follow the link below, enter your name and email and you will be entered.

http://form.jotformpro.com/form/42147582007956

Good luck!

 

PS. The contest starts on July 31, 2014 at 6:00am EST and ends on August 20th, 2014 at 11:59pm. One winner will be chosen at random on August 21st, 2014 and will be alerted by email.

 

Book Review: All for a Sister

All for a Sister
by
Allison Pittman

This book set in the 1920’s tells the story of aspiring actress Celeste DuFrane. After her mother passes away, Celeste discovers that half of the family estate has been left to Dana Lundgren, a woman accused of killing Celeste’s infant sister before Celeste was born.

After spending most of her life in prison for the murder of Celeste’s sister, Dana is shocked to learn that she has been left half of the estate. She wonders why a woman who accused her of murder would do such a thing.

As the two women learn more about each other and read Celeste’s written mother’s confession, they realize that they have more in common than they ever thought possible.

It took me a while to really get into this book, it seemed to start out a bit slow for my taste.  Of course that could be because I was reading 3 other books at the same time.  However, once I delved into the story a bit further it drew me in. Once I got sucked into the story of Celeste and Dana, I couldn’t read it fast enough. The author stayed true to the time period, really making the reader feel like they could just immerse themselves into the story’s settings. I really enjoyed the way she told the character’s stories and the way she intertwined their lives so carefully and creatively.

Disclaimer:
I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for this review. All thoughts are my own and I was not required to write a positive review.

Buy the Book:
If you’re interested in checking out this book you can find it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, as well as many other retailers.

Book Review: Penny Wise

This review is part of a blog tour. To see what others are saying about Penny Wise, click here.

Penny Wise
by
Dave and Neta Jackson

If you’re unfamiliar with Dave and Neta Jackson, you’ve been missing out on some great novels.  Dave and Neta are the husband and wife team behind a group of Christian fiction series set in and around the city of Chicago. While each series focuses on one core group of characters, you’ll see these characters pop up in other series – all the stories are interrelated. (Read more about that here.) I’m a sucker for books and series that interrelated, so I jumped at the chance to be able to read and review their latest work, Penny Wise. It was really awesome to run into characters I’d previously “met” in series such as the Yada Yada Prayer group and House of Hope. This was the first book I’ve read in the Windy City series, but I didn’t feel like I’d missed out on anything by picking it up part way through.

Penny Wise focuses on the Jasper family as they navigate the busyness and struggles of life. Just when Michelle thinks she finally has it under control, life throws her a few curve balls that have her seriously rethinking her future. When she thinks her life is just too much to handle, God shows his faithfulness on penny at a time.

I thoroughly enjoyed getting to catch up with some of my favorite characters from the Windy City. Dave and Neta write some fun stories with characters who are completely relatable and go through trials that many of us face on a day to day basis. Penny Wise was another great story to read and I look forward to seeing what’s next.

Disclaimer:
I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for this review. All thoughts are my own and I was not required to write a positive review.

Buy the Book:
If you’re interested in checking out this book you can find it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, as well as many other retailers.

Family, Community, and a Free Episode of Adventures in Odyssey

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For a limited time, you can listen to a new episode of Adventures in Odyssey for FREE! Album 58, The Ties that Bind, will be available this fall for digital download and CD purchase, but if you join the Odyssey Adventures Club, you can listen to the full album now! Guess what? The $5 special held last month was extended through the end of July, too, so you can join in the fun for only $5!
Here’s what part one is about (which you can listen to for free HERE):

It’s a time of surprises as Wooton becomes the celebrity guest at Comic-Connellsville and Whit finds himself in conflict over the upcoming “Let’s Get Together Festival” in Odyssey. Plus, hear an interview with writer-director Paul McCusker about the entire 14-part series.

Album 58 was inspired by Focus on the Family’s The Family Project, a 12-session small group experience that explores the theological, philosophical, and cultural underpinnings of the traditional family, and combines that information with inspiring stories and practical tools to help 21st-century families thrive.
One way families can carry out God’s design for families is by serving their community—right where God has planted them, being His hands and feet together. Want to serve your community with your family, maybe make a day of out it? Here are some fantastic ideas from some Adventures in Odyssey bloggers and club members:

  • Make scarves through the year and deliver them to your local homeless shelter at the start of winter, or regularly donate food to your local food bank. —Shirley
  • Our family likes to help with Meals on Wheels. We also do reenactments of the Civil War and WWII to help educate people on history. I like to show my kids that we should be servers and givers by taking meals to people who need them (i.e. baby just born, someone died, someone had surgery, etc.). —Erin
  • We have been visiting a nursing home with friends once a month. The kids just sing and then we fellowship, but the ladies love it! —Lisa
  • We make lap blankets for nursing home residents and take the time to visit with them. We also collect food for the local food pantry. —Donna
  • We make blessing bags to give to the homeless when we encounter them. We also donate clothes and food to a local shelter. —Amy
  • Our MOPs (Mothers of Prechoolers) group supports our local Pregnancy Support Services with donations, gifts, and notes. We also supports the Durham Rescue Mission, which helps people break free from addictions and restore families. —Melissa
  • We live in a very rural area. Our church serves two of the poorest zip codes in the state, and about a decade ago, they started operating a food pantry out of a closet. It has expanded since then, so we now use the closet for storage, but the pantry is basically a classroom. The kids and I serve over there a lot. My 17-year-old and I go to Care & Share (50 miles away) to get food to bring back to the pantry. All of us help unload and stock shelves. On pantry days, everyone can get involved with helping people go through the line, playing with the kids, carrying boxes out to cars, etc. There are so many hungry folks, especially in the summer when school breakfasts and lunches aren’t available, and helping a bit to put food on some tables is such a blessing for us all. —Debra
  • We pack food bags each month for the homeless and needy through a thrift store that offers an outreach to the community. We also help clean our church and our Sunday school. —Michele
  • We work through our AHG troop to do several service activities a year. My girls just recently made bracelets they are selling, which 100% of the profits goes to Hope House in Africa to help young girls. —Sarah
  • Our church works with a homeless shelter in downtown Atlanta. We cook food ahead of time, and when our schedules allow we ride down with the group to serve the food. My son always reminds me when we haven’t been for awhile, so it’s something he looks forward to. —Maria
  • We do lots of random acts of kindnesses within our community: pay for others’ meals, leave change at a vending machine, hand out Gatorade/granola bars to people on the side of the road asking for food. We also love to support Mobile Loaves and Fishes. —Kathryn

Did that provide some ideas to give your family service activity the kick-start it needs? What other ideas do you have for serving your community? Share in the comments!

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Book Review: Plain Faith

Plain Faith
by
Irene and Ora Jay Eash with Tricia Goyer

When their daughters are killed in a tragic accident, Irene and Ora Jay Eash seek comfort in their Amish community. What they find is a culture that points the finger at them searching for sins or transgressions that may have caused this accident to happen. While looking for grace, they find the quality and quantity of their good works in question. Gradually, through interactions with those outside their own faith community, that God is a God of grace and that his love is not based on our works. As they begin to see that what they have been taught their entire lives may not be the whole truth, they struggle with how to embrace this new life they’ve discovered while trying to maintain at least a small connection with their family.

I’ve read a lot of books about the Amish, both fiction and non-fiction, but I’ve never read anything quite like this. While it can often seem like the Amish have it all together and are very religious, we often don’t see the whole picture. It was interesting to read something from the perspective of those who have lived in that community, but left and found freedom in Christ. It is not a book that just bashes the Amish, but it does give readers a look at what their religious, legalistic lives are really like. It took great faith and courage for Irene and Ora Jay to leave the Amish community, but what they discovered on the outside was freedom and grace that they’d never have seen otherwise. This was a beautiful story of courage and grace that kept me interested and engaged the entire time I was reading.

Disclaimer:
I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for this review. All thoughts are my own and I was not required to write a positive review.

Buy the Book:
If you’re interested in checking out this book you can find it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, as well as many other retailers.