A ★★★★★ Book Review of One Final Breath by Lynn H. Blackburn in the Dive Team Investigations, Book Three | A Christian fiction romantic suspense novel

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell at Baker Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts below are my own.  Also, this blog post includes affiliate links which means I will receive a commission based on sales generated via these links.


All the praise for a fantastic new suspense novel by Lynn H. Blackburn!

In book three of the Dive Team Investigations series, a decade old kidnapping, a budding romance between two intense characters and a recent murder binds the pages of this story together in a riveting read! After reading In Too Deep (Book 2) last November, I was elated to dive into this story and delighted to find out that it did not disappoint but rather exceeded expectations!


Revenge has no statute of limitations — When investigator Gabe Chavez had his cover blown by an aggressive reporter, the silver lining was being able to rejoin the dive team. The downside? Dive team captain Anissa Bell, a woman who both fascinates and frustrates him. Anissa grew up as a missionary kid on the Micronesian island of Yap and always planned to return after college. But she remained stateside, determined to solve the case that haunts her--the murder of her best friend and the disappearance of a three-year-old child. When Anissa's fractured past collides with Gabe's investigation into the tragic shooting death of a teenage boy in Lake Porter, they'll have to put aside their complicated history with each other in order to uncover the killer's identity.

Praise for the Dive Team Investigations series — "A genuinely extraordinary novel by an author who is an established master of the genre."--Midwest Book Reviews on In Too Deep

"A real page-turner."--Booklist on Beneath the Surface

"Blackburn grabs readers by the throat and doesn't let go."--Fresh Fiction on Beneath the Surface


★★★★★ |   One Final Breath, book three in the Dive Team Investigations series by Lynn H. Blackburn follows the story of homicide detective and dive team captain, Anissa Bell and Investigator Gabe Chavez as they find themselves suddenly thrown into a mysterious shooting and subsequent murder on Lake Porter in Carrington Co., North Carolina. Both characters are intensely professional, strong and wildly passionated about their work, each with their own past influencing their daily lives at present. As the mystery begins to unfold, these two characters find themselves facing a decade old murder and kidnapping case, a current murder and a series of events that leads to Anissa’s life being threatened. With the help of their co-workers and friends, the dive team works together to uncover the truth.

One Final Breath was a definite page turner for me. I had trouble putting it down and enjoyed it even more than In Too Deep. While this story line isn’t constant action, it flows well and has many elements of surprise throughout. The suspense held my interest and the start of a relationship between two dynamic characters was something to savor as they work embrace their newly discovered feelings and connect on a deeper level. Blackburn creates a beautiful vision of professionalism, camaraderie and friendship between the dive teammates and characters from the previous two books, focusing on how each member has a unique talent and uses that gift to uplift others. The elements of faith that Blackburn wove into this novel are subtle yet profound, covering topics such as guilt, forgiveness and reliance on God.

This novel can be read as a standalone but will surely be enjoyed just as much as part of the series. I highly recommend this story to both those who like romantic suspense and those who enjoy mysteries. This novel is appropriate for older teenagers in my opinion. It is a great read, for certain and I hope you enjoy One Final Breath as much as I did!

Their shared history was... complex. She’d tried to keep her distance, but he kept showing up. On random Saturdays when she went for a run. On Tuesday nights when she stayed late to finish paperwork. And unlike the way he was with the group - loud, flirty, the life of the party - when it was the two of them, he rarely spoke. He was just - there. With her. Not asking for anything, but present. Available. Gabe Chavez. He’d gotten under her skin for years, but lately he’d gotten inside her head.
— Lynn H. Blackburn, One Final Breath

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Image courtesy of www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

Image courtesy of www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

Lynn H. Blackburn is the author of Beneath the SurfaceHidden Legacy, and Covert Justice. Winner of the 2016 Selah Award for Mystery and Suspense and the 2016 Carol Award for Short Novel, Blackburn believes in the power of stories, especially those that remind us that true love exists, a gift from the Truest Love. She lives in South Carolina with her true love, Brian, and their three children.

You can visit her website at www.lynnblackburn.com or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram!


Lastly, pick up your own copy of One Final Breath or borrow it from your local library.  Then, I'd love to hear YOUR thoughts on the book in the comments below! 


A ★★★★★ Book Review of One More River to Cross by Jane Kirkpatrick | A historical fiction novel

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell at Baker Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts below are my own.  Also, this blog post includes affiliate links which means I will receive a commission based on sales generated via these links.


A truly remarkable tale of courage, endurance and pioneering spirit. 

Jane Kirkpatrick does a magnificent job of remaining true to the real story in her newest novel, One More River to Cross, creating a narrative that is both historically accurate and beautifully told with dynamic characters based on the exceptional pioneers of the day. 


Adversity can squelch the human spirit . . . or it can help us discover strength we never knew we had.

In 1844, two years before the Donner Party, the Stephens-Murphy-Townsend company leaves Missouri to be the first wagons into California through the Sierra Nevada. They enjoy a safe journey--until October, when a fierce mountain snowstorm forces difficult decisions.

The party separates in three directions. Some go overland around Lake Tahoe. Others stay to guard the heaviest wagons. The rest of the party, including eight women and seventeen children, huddle in a makeshift cabin at the headwaters of the Yuba River awaiting rescue. The months ahead will be long and at times terrifying. But with friendship, family, and enough courage to overcome their fear, these intrepid pioneers will discover what truly matters in times of trial.


"Jane Kirkpatrick has turned a scrap of history into a story of courageous women strong enough to meet the challenges of nature--and of men."--Sandra Dallas, New York Times bestselling author

"What an incredible journey this novel is! It's moving and beautifully told, and I absolutely loved it."--Molly Gloss, award-winning author of The Jump-Off Creek and The Hearts of Horses


Image courtesy of www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

Image courtesy of www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

★★★★★ | I can’t say enough about this masterful retelling of the Stephens-Murphy-Townsend pioneer party. Author Jane Kirkpatrick weaves her magic in a soft and easy to read narrative that inspires, delights and encourages the soul with the perseverance, determination and faith of her characters.  In true early American fashion, these Irish Catholics make their way westward in hopes of finding land for their families to experience religious freedom, peace and prosperity.  As they face the challenges that nature presents them, they come to grips with hard decisions, endure hunger and starvation, and bond together while holding onto hope and ultimately preserving.

Kirkpatrick used historical resources to build her dynamic cast of characters in such a beautiful way, they immediately become engraved on the heart and soul of a reader who will find themselves rooting for these pioneers and their families. I personally found myself intrigued by the story enough to do my own research into the history and real people behind One More River to Cross.

I enjoyed the dialogue throughout the book, the historical accuracy, the well developed characters and learning about the struggles these families overcame.  The book is well written; a beautiful unfolding of difficult but triumphant events that evoke a spirit of pride, perseverance and hope. As a result, I can’t recommend this new novel enough to lovers of historical fiction of all ages. It will remain a passionate favorite of mine for this particular time era.

I trust God is with us whatever choice we make. It’s what I draw on in the hard times. That I’m not alone and that God wants good things for us at the end.” Ailbe leaned in. “Truth is, I’d rather be happy than right.”
— Jane Kirkpatrick, One More River to Cross

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Jane Kirkpatrick is the New York Times and CBA bestselling and award-winning author of more than thirty books, with nearly two million copies sold, including Everything She Didn't Say, All She Left Behind, A Light in the Wilderness, The Memory Weaver, This Road We Traveled, and A Sweetness to the Soul, which won the prestigious Wrangler Award from the Western Heritage Center. Her works have won the WILLA Literary Award, the Carol Award for Historical Fiction, and the 2016 Will Rogers Medallion Award among others. Jane lives in Central Oregon with her husband, Jerry. Learn more at www.jkbooks.com.


Lastly, pick up your own copy of One More River to Cross via one of the purchase links below or borrow it from your local library.  

Then, I'd love to hear YOUR thoughts on the book in the comments below! 

WHERE TO PURCHASE ONE MORE RIVER TO CROSS BY JANE KIRKPATRICK:


 

A Mini Review of Fire Storm by Nancy Mehl, Book Two in the Kaely Quinn Profiler series | A Christian Fiction Suspense Novel

Note: This post contains affiliate links. I received an e-copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review.


Fire Storm delivers a new mystery and dangerous twists and turns for FBI profiler, Kaely Quinn. Follow Kaely on her journey to uncover the story and track down the perpetrator.

When FBI profiler Kaely Quinn's mother is diagnosed with cancer, Kaely takes time off work to go to Dark Water, Nebraska, to help her brother care for their mother. Upon her arrival, she learns of a series of fires in the small town, attributed by the fire chief to misuse of space heaters in the frigid winter. But Kaely is skeptical, and a search for a pattern in the locations of the fires bolsters her suspicions.

After yet another blaze devastates a local family, Kaely is certain a serial arsonist is on the loose. Calling upon her partner from St. Louis, Noah Hunter, and her brother's firefighter neighbor who backs Kaely's suspicions, Kaely and her team begin an investigation that swiftly leads them down a twisted path. When the truth is finally revealed, Kaely finds herself confronting a madman who is determined his last heinous act will be her death. - Synopsis from Fire Storm


★★★ | Nancy Mehl is a new favorite author of mine. I thoroughly enjoyed Mind Games, Book one in the Kaely Quinn Profiler series, so I was excited to begin this second book. Fire Storm brings us the story of Kaely’s family and her mom’s current cancer diagnosis. As Kaely visits to help care for her mother and bridge the gap in their relationship, she’s drawn to a case of mysterious fires that begin consuming and terrorizing the town where her mother lives.

I enjoyed following Kaely as she tracked down the perpetrator and uncovers the mystery. I like Kaely’s character and her backstory; she’s strong, independent and fierce. Fire Storm reads more as a Nancy Drew mystery to me than a suspense/thriller which is what I was anticipating after reading the synopsis. Regardless, the story flows well with suspense and dramatic scenes inserted appropriately throughout and holds a readers interest. Kaely learns more about herself and her faith along the way, and her relationship with Special Agent Noah Hunter is definitely growing. I would have loved to have seen more flourish there but that wasn’t the main focus of this book. The only thing that kept me from a higher rating was how this story gave away the ending. Once I felt certain who the culprit was, I felt myself rushing the end of the story. I would have loved a bit more of a twist personally, but there were elements of the ending that still surprised me. While this second book isn’t as good as the first, in my opinion, it still is good and worth a read! I’m definitely looking forward to the next book in this series.


A Mini Review of The Art of Rivers by Janet W. Ferguson (A Coastal Hearts Novel) | A Contemporary Christian Romance Novel

Note: This post contains affiliate links. I received an e-copy of this book from the author and JustRead Publicity tours in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review.


The Art of Rivers is an excellent story that deals with the harsh realities of overcoming addiction, social stigmas surrounding them, forgiveness, fear and trauma. I truly loved this book, it tugged on all my heart strings!

The novel is well written, endearing and even cute! I devoured it; a definite page turner.

A Mini Review of The Art of Rivers by Janet W. Ferguson (A Coastal Hearts Novel) | A Contemporary Christian Romance Novel

★★★★ | Author Janet Ferguson opens with a chapter that is tender yet shocking then continues to weave a story that is both entertaining and touching. The main and sub characters are charming, witty and relatable. I loved the occasional banter between Rivers and Cooper, was enamored with how their love story unfolds and enjoyed how Ferguson used their relationship to bring about healing in a family. Readers will find it hard not to "feel" along with Rivers and Cooper. They're so lifelike and the things they struggle with are very real. Through them, Ferguson gives readers a look at life after trauma and addiction. She doesn't sugarcoat it, but uses faith as a basis for recovery and depicts the redemption found only in Christ. It's truly beautiful.

The faith based elements of this book are strong, but do not overpower the story in my opinion. I do enjoy books with a Christian viewpoint however and realize that some people may feel this book comes on a little strong. Nevertheless, I encourage readers to read between the lines and see the power that comes from overcoming addiction, helping others and allowing struggles to make us stronger.

This book is a SOLID FOUR STARS and was very good!

I highly recommend it to readers who enjoy a cozy romance, comtemporary fiction and faith based fiction. I believe the story would be suitable for teenagers 16+ as it is clean. Please be aware the story does contain triggers and mentions of things such as a shooting, addiction, teenage death, drinking, drugs, loss and drug trafficking.

SPOILER ALERT! The only thing that kept this novel from tipping over into five stars for me, was simply a personal preference. The ending wrapped up beautifully but the last chapter made me cringe. Throughout the story, I had imagined and felt Rivers as a whimsical romantic with a playful side. The fact that she proposed to Cooper, who supposedly couldn't get enough of her, detracted from their romance. I'm not against women proposing, it just didn't feel right for this couple. I also wasn't a fan of the fact that Ferguson included the song Jesus Freak in their wedding music and used the phrase "I'm always willing to let my freak flag fly." (this was also alluded to earlier in the book). As a Christian, I don't enjoy being stigmatized as a freak and don't think anyone should be categorized that way under any circumstance. Between those two things, I ended the book with distaste but felt it didn't really detract from the story I had enjoyed so immensely up until those last closing lines.


A ★★★★ Book Review of Deadly Intentions by Lisa Harris | A Romantic Suspense Christian Fiction Novel

*I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from Revell at Baker Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts below are my own.  Also, this blog post includes affiliate links which means I will receive a commission based on sales generated via these links.


A wonderful new release from bestselling author Lisa Harris! With a threatening potential bioweapon in the balance, two unlikely characters team up to face their fears, confront evil and uncover the truth.

“There is no such thing as random. Research scientist Caitlyn Lindsey is convinced that someone is taking out her team one by one. First, a friend and research partner was killed in a home invasion. Three months ago, her boss died in a suspicious car accident. Four days ago, another partner supposedly committed suicide. And now Caitlyn herself has miraculously survived a hit-and-run. Afraid for her life with nowhere to turn, she reaches out to one of the victims' husbands, Detective Josh Solomon.

Though initially skeptical about Caitlyn's theory, Josh soon realizes the attack that took his wife's life was anything but random. Now the two of them must discover the truth about who is after Caitlyn's team--and what their end game is--before it's too late.” Synopsis from Deadly Intentions


Image courtesy of www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

Image courtesy of www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

★★★★ |  I was delighted to dive into my e-copy of Lisa Harris’s newest release, Deadly Intentions. Harris is an excellent suspense writer and I’ve enjoyed many of her books in the past.

This novel opens with quick moving action amidst a heartbreaking scene. Readers are introduced to detective Josh Solomon and research scientist Caitlyn Lindsey as their lives take unexpected turns and connect them in a way they never imagined. The two characters work through dealing with their own fears, doubts and real life struggles as the plot thickens and moves along, holding interest. In the lull of action, Josh and Caitlyn find themselves connecting and getting to know each other on a a more personal level.

Both characters are well developed and likable. Their budding romance is sweet, light and believable. I enjoyed reading about the potential bioweapon and felt Harris did an excellent job of making that aspect interesting and easy to understand. As a result, readers grasp onto the storyline of Deadly Intentions and are pulled along with the two characters as they work to uncover the truth.

Harris doesn’t shy away from topics such as murder, domestic abuse, or marital affairs. Instead, she touches on them, using them as an avenue to explore how our faith impacts those realities of life and the redemption that can be found through Christ.

Harris focused more on her plot unfolding than a romance so if you’re looking for a heavy romance with a thrilling plot, this isn’t that type of book. It’s a little more cozy, but at the same time has an edgy tone, which is the magical way Harris writes.

Deadly Intentions was a solid four stars for me.

It was an excellent book. Interesting, exciting, great characters, a sweet new romance and a plot that moved along well. There wasn’t anything in particular that tipped it over into the five stars for me. It was just really good. I highly recommend this book to older teen and adult readers who enjoy romantic suspense and are fans of authors such as Irene Hannon, Dani Pettrey and Nancy Mehl.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Author Lisa Harris | Photo Courtesy of Baker Publishing Group

Author Lisa Harris | Photo Courtesy of Baker Publishing Group

Lisa Harris is a bestselling author, a Christy Award winner, and the winner of the Best Inspirational Suspense Novel from Romantic Times for her novels Blood Covenant and Vendetta. The author of more than 40 books, including The Nikki Boyd Files and the Southern Crimes series, as well as Vanishing Point, A Secret to Die For, and Deadly Intentions, Harris and her family have spent over 16 years living as missionaries in southern Africa. Learn more at www.lisaharriswrites.com.

You can also follow Lisa Harris on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.


Lastly, pick up your own copy of Deadly Intentions via one of the purchase links below or borrow it from your local library.  

Then, I'd love to hear YOUR thoughts on the book in the comments below! 




WHERE TO PURCHASE MORE BOOKS BY LISA HARRIS:


Shop Lisa Harris’s books on ChristianBook.com:

728481: Vanishing Point #4 Vanishing Point #4
By Lisa Harris / Revell
729179: The Traitor"s Pawn The Traitor's Pawn
By Lisa Harris / Revell
729152: A Secret to Die For A Secret to Die For
By Lisa Harris / Revell

Shop Lisa Harris’s books Amazon:


 

The Best Markers for Little Kids (Plus, They're Mess Free!) | A Product Review, Creative Use Idea List, and Shopping/Wishlist Links for Crayola Color Wonder Mess Free Markers and Coloring Paper

*This blog post includes affiliate links to purchase products and I will receive a commission based on sales generated via these links. I only recommend products I use and love!


The perfect way to keep your littles busy while introducing art and coloring into their day!

Ok Mamas, so this isn’t a revolutionary product but if you’re like me and you just need ten minutes to get something done while your toddler is occupied, or if you’re looking for a fun way to integrate art and crafting into your toddler’s day, this is it! Crayola’s revolutionary Color Wonder Mess Free collection is PERFECT for busy littles and parents who want to maintain unmarked walls (*wink).

Want to learn some ways you can put these special markers and coloring books to use?

Keep scrolling down!

The Best Markers for Little Kids (Plus, They're Mess Free!) | A Product Review, Creative Use Idea List, and Shopping/Wishlist Links for Crayola Color Wonder Mess Free Markers and Coloring Paper

Pin This Idea: The Best Markers for Little Kids (Plus, They're Mess Free!) | A Product Review, Creative Use Idea List, and Shopping/Wishlist Links for Crayola Color Wonder Mess Free Markers and Coloring Paper

Pin This Idea: The Best Markers for Little Kids (Plus, They're Mess Free!) | A Product Review, Creative Use Idea List, and Shopping/Wishlist Links for Crayola Color Wonder Mess Free Markers and Coloring Paper

Recently, I shared a story on Instagram one afternoon about these really great markers that I purchased for my one year old and our Wacky Art Wednesdays - an intentional effort to create memories with my daughter and cultivate a love of arts and crafts at an early age.

Many of you already know our sweet girl is adopted, so this particular afternoon, we set out to color a picture to send to our girl’s birthmama. I tore a sheet out of the Color Wonder Mess Free paper book, handed her some markers and we colored on our white living room rug, with no worries about making a mess! Talk about a Mama’s dream!

The markers are the perfect size for her little hands and come in a good range of colors. The caps are a little hard to open; my daughter tried and struggled. However, I was able to easily open them and hand them to her, so that allowed for me to educate her on the colors as I was handing them to her. They’re durable and great quality. They didn’t write on anything but the Color Wonder Mess Free paper. Watching the lines magically appear on the paper after drawing was truly a wonder for my daughter as I’d explain, “Look, watch baby!”

The paper was sturdy, not easy to tear which is great with a one year old, and comes in tear off sheets in this book. I used Dollar Tree clipboards to hold our papers down and keep my little one from shredding it while coloring.

(I was excited to learn Crayola has coloring books in this line!)

We made an educational game out of me handing her the markers. I would tell her the color and ask her to try and say the word, then let her color on her paper. (Of course, at her age, coloring is a little more of marking lines across the page, but that’s ok!). I made a point of showing her how to use the markers by selecting a color myself and drawing her shapes on the paper, naming them aloud. I also wrote her name and spelled it with her. It’s never too early to learn!

At her age, her attention span isn’t very long so this was about a 10-15 minute activity in between her darting around the room and playing with other toys. She liked taking the markers out of the bucket and putting them back in more than she liked coloring. Again, I was totally ok with that because that helps to teach her to put her things away and develop motor skills.

Coloring is a great motor skill builder and educational tool.

I am so happy to have found these markers and be utilizing them now so my girl will (hopefully) love to color as she grows. I look forward to evenings laying on the living room floor with her coloring and listening to music or watching a movie!


The Best Markers for Little Kids (Plus, They're Mess Free!) | A Product Review, Creative Use Idea List, and Shopping/Wishlist Links for Crayola Color Wonder Mess Free Markers and Coloring Paper

SOME WAYS YOU CAN USE THE CRAYOLA COLOR WONDER MESS FREE MARKERS AND COLORING PAPER:

  • Road Trips & Plan Rides - No fuss, no mess, no worries!

  • Church/Dr. Office Waiting Room - An excellent way to encourage a quiet time and keep your little one entertained

  • Homeschooling - the markers are appropriate for toddlers and kindergarten-elementary school age kids!

  • One-on-One Time - Build confidence in your child by spending quality, intentional time with them doing this fun activity.

  • Create Gifts for Loved Ones - Let your little one color a great picture to give to a grandparent, aunt/uncle, sibling, etc. Who doesn’t love a gift that’s handmade and comes from the heart?

  • Random Act of Kindness for a Little One - Encourage your little to color a photo and give to a stranger, or person of their choice, as a random act of kindness.

  • Special Activity for When Mom Needs a Minute - Allow access to these special markers and paper when Mama needs a few minutes to herself (Or needs to cook dinner).


Where To Purchase the Crayola Color Wonder Mess Free Coloring Products:

Shop the Crayola Color Wonder Mess Free Coloring Products on Amazon:


Shop the Crayola Color Wonder Mess Free Coloring Products at Target:


Want to Earn a Portion of Your Mobile Purchase Back with the Ibotta App?

Here’s How: Before you shop, add offers from the retailer you plan to shop at. Make your purchase through the Ibotta app and you can earn cash back! To learn more about how Ibotta works, click here to visit their website and download the app. When you sign up using my link below, you’ll receive cash back, I’ll earn a referral fee and you can refer your own friends to earn even more cash back!

I hope you enjoy my product recommendation for your little kiddo/kiddos!

I’d love to hear how you used this product in your own life.

Drop me a comment below and share with me.

 
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How To Spend Intentional Time With Your Little Ones While Cultivating Creativity Through A Focus on Art | Including A Supply List and Tips!

*This blog post includes affiliate links to purchase products and I will receive a commission based on sales generated via these links. I only recommend products I use and love!


In the middle of busy days and lives, YOU CAN press pause to spend intentional one on one time with your child(ren). Why not do that in a joy-filled, interactive and sensory way that encourages them to be creative and get a little messy?!

Coloring, noodles, glue sticks, crinkly papers… It’s what preschools and churches have been doing for ages to help children learn and expand their creativity so why not try it at home? It doesn’t have be to grand; even the simplest of projects can be fun for toddlers and school age children. All it takes is a desire to have fun with your child, get a little messy and think outside the box!

Ready to get started?

I have a list of tips I’ve learned along the way and some supply suggestions to get you started!

Keep scrolling!


Pin This Idea: How To Spend Intentional Time With Your Little Ones While Cultivating Creativity Through A Focus on Art | Including A Supply List and Tips!

Pin This Idea: How To Spend Intentional Time With Your Little Ones While Cultivating Creativity Through A Focus on Art | Including A Supply List and Tips!

One of the greatest inspirational books I’ve read during my motherhood journey so far was Memory Making Mom. While devouring that book and allowing author, Jessica Smartt, to inspire me, I felt a tug on my heart strings regarding how I spend my days with my daughter. It was then that I decided I wanted to be more intentional about the time we spend together one on one, at home, during the day. I wanted to begin making memories with her like the ones Smartt talked about in her book and the ones I so fondly recalled from my own childhood. Allowing time to reflect on my own memories that stood out to me brought to the realization that those memories often involved crafting with my mom, doing art projects for school and creating random paper projects with friends. 

Feeling inspired by the idea of cultivating creativity in my little girl’s life, I decided to choose one day of the week to try new art projects and crafts with her in an effort to expose her to fun, new things at an early age while expanding her sensory experiences.

For us, Wednesday is usually a day where I strive to refocus after the craziness of the start of the week and gear up for the weekend that’s around the corner. I felt like it was the perfect day to set aside 30 minutes and do something artsy and fun with my toddler!

I dubbed it Wacky Art Wednesday.

My daughter is currently a little over age one so I sat down to make a list of art supplies  I could pick up at the store for her and set out the next day to shop both in the store and gather items from around our home.

Below, I’m sharing a quick peek at my list if you’d like to make one of your own!

That said, not only did we enjoy the one on one shopping time together, but we have really been enjoying our artsy projects! Keep in mind, with a one year old, we don’t always spend a full 30 minutes doing a craft or project (unless you count the time it takes me to set up & clean up!) but it is always a sweet, precious time together that I value. I’m passing on something I love doing to my daughter and cultivating a joy in her heart for art, which I hope is encouraging her to learn more about herself, her capabilities and her creativity.

Along the way, I’ve gleaned a handful of useful tips I wanted to share with you today in hopes that it makes your own art projects easier and simpler!


Tips for spending intentional time together with your child(ren) cultivating a love for art and sparking creativity at a young age:

  • Plan Ahead and Prep Beforehand - This means a little extra work for you ahead of time, but it’s well worth it in the end. Little kids don’t want to wait around while you decide on a craft, drag out the supplies, set up, etc. They want to come in, sit down and get busy. Usually one week in advance I choose an idea for the next Wacky Art Wednesday. Then, the night before, or morning of, I’ll get out the supplies and set them up so they’re ready to go when my little one sits down.

  • Don’t Stress - Let them be little! They’re going to make a mess, maybe get frustrated and even mess up the project. It’s okay. They’re little and it’s their project. I learned this the hard way on our first day. I was getting frustrated because I’d really looked forward to this time and here my toddler wanted nothing to do with coloring, but was instead chucking the markers off her high chair at top speed. When I finally got that under control, she began ripping the paper to shreds. Seriously, kid? LOL So instead, we had fun tearing paper and laughing.

  • Play Music - Kids music or classical music playing softly in the background is a great mood setter for both you and your little one.

  • Interact & Have Fun- Use the time together to talk to your kiddo(s), laugh, smile, teach colors and shapes and textures. Create along with them! Make your own project too!

  • Use Various Textures - a great way to introduce sensory play! Use new textures such as cotton balls, pom pomps, tissue paper, glue sticks, Elmer’s glue, tape, washi tape, cardboard, etc. I have some great ideas on my Pinterest Board for 1-2 Year Olds and my Pinterest Board for 2-5 Year Olds.

  • Invite Some Friends - Make it a fun play date in the future! Invite a Mama friend and her kiddo(s) over and make it a party! Offer a little finger foods and snacks, perhaps? See the above referenced Pinterest boards for snack ideas to compliment the craft ideas!

  • Create Gifts for Friends and Family - who doesn’t love a handmade gift? I mean, really?! We created bookmarks for Father’s Day, a Flamingo for a friend who was visiting from FL and colored a picture for our daughter’s birth mama!

  • Consider the Project Clean Up - Make it easy on yourself. If it’s going to be a messy project, consider doing it outside where clean up will be easier (and a hose is nearby, ha!) or put down a cheap painter’s tarp over your floor where your child will be sitting. Use a highchair perhaps. Cover your table in an old tablecloth or plastic one. Be prepared for anything to happen, because it probably will.

  • Clean Up the Kiddo FIRST! - Don’t worry about the mess that’s everywhere. Clean up the little one before they take their paint smeared fingers and touch your walls. You can thank me later. (Also, I’ve learned this to be an extension of fun time. My daughter LOVES to play in the sink so she enjoys washing her hands after her art projects) Then, let your little help you with the cleanup by giving them smalls tasks like hanging up their project on the fridge, throwing things away or wiping off the table/highchair.

  • Keep A Set of Old Clothes Or An Art Smock Handy - find an old, too large shirt, art smock or apron for your kiddo to wear over their clothes (or over their diaper) for messy projects.

  • Choose Age Appropriate Supplies - Depending on the age of your little(s), keep in mind that smaller hands will enjoy chunkier markers, chalk and glue sticks, while older children might enjoy a spirograph or paint-by-color. Simply keep a variety of things in a storage container.

  • Supervise Continuously - Make certain your schedule is free for this amount of time to supervise young children if they will be using scissors and the various supplies. Never leave a child unattended.


Suggested Starter Supply List:

Collect these items from around your home, shop online or grab them at your local store!

Our Art Supply Box for a One Year Old | How To Spend Intentional Time With Your Little Ones While Cultivating Creativity Through A Focus on Art | Including A Supply List and Tips!

Our Art Supply Box for a One Year Old | How To Spend Intentional Time With Your Little Ones While Cultivating Creativity Through A Focus on Art | Including A Supply List and Tips!

  • Construction Paper

  • Crayons (Triangular Crayons are great for toddlers!)

  • Markers (I LOVE the Color Wonder Mess Free Markers or Washable Markers)

  • Paper (Check out the Color Wonder Mess Free Paper and Coloring Books)

  • Chalk

  • Chalkboard

  • Non Toxic Elmer’s Glue and Glue Sticks (Try the Washable Metallic Collection!)

  • Washable Fingerpaints

  • Washable Watercolors

  • Paint brushes

  • Foam brushes

  • Tissue Paper

  • Apron or oversize tshirt

  • Dropcloth (or old bed sheet) to cover the floor

  • Storage Container (with locking lid)

  • Small Artists Canvases

  • Child Safe Scissors

  • Tape

    Fun Extras:

  • Uncooked noodles

  • Pom Poms

  • Pipe Cleaners (contain metal, use with supervision)

  • Stickers

  • Popsicle Sticks

  • Color or Paint by Number Kit

  • Spirographs

  • Washi Tape

  • Yarn

  • Stamps

  • Googly Eyes

  • Clay or PlayDough

  • Beads (only recommended for children 6+)

  • Paper Straws

  • Scratch Art Kits

Where To Purchase the Art Supplies for Kids:


Shop Kids Art Supplies at Target:


Shop Kids Art Supplies on Amazon:


Want to Earn a Portion of Your Mobile Purchase Back with the Ibotta App?

Here’s How: Before you shop, add offers from the retailer you plan to shop at. Make your purchase through the Ibotta app and you can earn cash back! To learn more about how Ibotta works, click here to visit their website and download the app. When you sign up using my link below, you’ll receive cash back, I’ll earn a referral fee and you can refer your own friends to earn even more cash back!


I hope you have enjoyed this post and feel inspired to get messy and create with your little one(s).

May your one-on-one time be magical and memorable!

I’d love to hear how it went and what you did!

Drop me a comment below and share with me.

 
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A ★★★★ Book Review of The String by Caleb Breakey | A Christian Fiction Psychological Thriller

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell at Baker Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts below are my own.  Also, this blog post includes affiliate links which means I will receive a commission based on sales generated via these links.


A PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER THAT WILL BLOW YOUR MIND AND LEAVE YOUR THOUGHTS KNOTTED UP!

When the “Conductor” has over half of the campus in his back pocket as he pulls the strings, wreaking havoc and simulating murders, it’s up to one man to break The String and stop this madman… This new fictional thriller came highly recommended and rightly so. With an ever twisting and turning plot that keeps readers guessing and gasping, Breakey delights and horrifies readers with each new page.


Welcome to the string. Let's go over the ground rules.

Rule #1: Participation is mandatory.
Rule #2: If any one person refuses to play, the threats to all players will come to pass.

Since this is my game, allow me to introduce myself. I am the conductor. Just as musicians in a symphony must follow the conductor's direction, the selected students and staff of Trenton University must submit to my commands . . . or risk massive chaos and deadly consequences. Even that pesky university cop, Markus Haas, who thinks he'll find a way out of the impossible dilemma in which I've trapped him. Oh, the surprises I have for him. Ready to play? - Synopsis from The String

"Every now and then an author comes along who makes me say, 'Where have you been!' Even though you and I didn't know we were waiting, we were. Breakey's debut thriller is intricate, electric, and twisted--in the best sense of the word. Extremely difficult to put down. Highly recommended."--James L. Rubart, five-time Christy Award winner


Image courtesy of www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

Image courtesy of www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

★★★★ |  Breakey’s debut novel, The String, is an epic thriller all its own. Readers will find themselves tangled up in the pages of this book as they eagerly move through the twists and turns of this well designed thriller with an intense plot.

Breakey magnificently creates a diabolic, evil villain who is characteristically offset by a heroic and daring protagonist. Markus Haas is a man woman might ideally swoon over. His strength, determination and protective nature leave little to be desired as he finds himself up against a monster who hides in the shadows and manipulates those around Markus. While astonishingly deep and masterfully planned, this novel’s narrative reads easily keeping readers guessing, gasping and turning the pages late into the night! With an epic battle over the mind, Breakey not only covers the strength of the human will but the impact our faith can have on it as well knowing God controls all our circumstances and outcomes. The underlying message of good vs. evil was one to relish.

I enjoyed this book immensely and the only thing that kept me from a five star rating is personal preference.

I would have loved to have seen good win over evil in the ending, but alas, there’s a twist! I won’t say more for fear of spoilers, but I do want to encourage you to pick a copy of The String for yourself! It is an excellent read, flawlessly created and quite edgy. It’s fresh and exciting also.

I recommend this thriller to both men and women as it easily appeals to both genders. For readers who enjoy psychological warfare, murder mysteries and suspense, this is a great read. For readers who enjoy cozy mysteries and mild suspense, this book may come on as shockingly strong. It is better than your favorite crime show, I’m convinced!

I’m excited about the fact that this book is book one in a series and I’m already looking forward to Breakey’s next release.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Author Caleb Breakey | Photo courtesy of www.getthestring.com

Author Caleb Breakey | Photo courtesy of www.getthestring.com

Caleb Breakey and his wife spent their wedding money on 52 books about writing fiction. Then, for years, he spent his days off penning stories for 16 hours straight. He loves fiction because they teach without a lecture, inspire without a speech, and entertain without any props.


Along with being an ECPA Award finalist and a winner of the prestigious Genesis Contest for fiction writers, Caleb is also the Founder of Sermon To Book and Speak It To Book, the premier ghostwriting agencies for faith-filled thought leaders.


Caleb writes in the beautiful Pacific Northwest alongside his wife, Brittney, and enjoys visits from two mischievous mini huskies and a smiley Shiba Inu.

You can follow him on Facebook or Instagram.


Lastly, pick up your own copy of The String via one of the purchase links below or borrow it from your local library.  

Then, I'd love to hear YOUR thoughts on the book in the comments below! 

WHERE TO PURCHASE THE STRING BY CALEB BREAKEY:

Buy The String at ChristianBook.com


Buy The String on Amazon.com


 

A ★★★★★ Review of the Sparkle and Change Holy Bible for Girls | Available in Various Versions Including International Children's Bible and New King James Version!

*I received a complimentary copy of these two Bibles free of charge from Tommy Nelson (an imprint of Thomas Nelson) in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. All thoughts below are my own.  Also, this blog post includes affiliate links to purchase the book and I will receive a commission based on sales generated via these links that helps me keep this blog going!


A sparkly, fun treasure for young girls to cherish as they grow spiritually!

These beautifully crafted Holy Bibles are not only gorgeous and well designed, they’re an invaluable gift and resource to young girls as they seek to read God’s word, learn how to pray, grow in Jesus and deepen their relationship with the One who created them!


A ★★★★★ Review of the Sparkle and Change Holy Bible for Girls | Available in Various Versions Including International Children's Bible and New King James Version!

★★★★★ | What better gift can a young girl receive than the Word of God in a format she can relate to, understand and feel empowered by? I distinctly remember receiving my first Bible, shortly after I asked Jesus to come into my life at age six. I still have that little white Bible to this day, it’s cover worn, pages ear marked and Scriptures highlighted or underlined from years of Bible drills and Sunday School.

Flipping through these beautiful new Bibles brought back floods of memories and encouraged me as I eagerly anticipate the day when my daughter is old enough to read and hold God’s Word in her little hands. The Sparkle and Change Holy Bible is available in various versions so you can decide what fit is best for your child and family.

Each Bible comes with a sequined cover that girls will enjoy flipping to reveal sparkly hearts and designs. The Bibles are hardcover formats making them durable and sturdy for years of use. Inside, there are 24 high gloss pages inserted throughout that offer places for girls to easily study and learn things like the Biblical timeline, maps, and topics such as“Why Should I Read the Bible?”, “How Do I Know Jesus Loves Me?”, “ How Do I Forgive” and “How Can I Let God’s Love Shine Through Me?”. In addition, these pages offer places for girls to write their favorite verses, plus review cheat sheets on topics covering the Disciples, Names of God and Miracles of Jesus. The fonts and colors on these pages are soft, girly and fun, encouraging young minds to dive deeper in the Word.

The Bible pages are light and easy to read with chapters and verses split apart for easy reference. One feature I personally loved was how there are 300 pre-highlighted key verses throughout the Bible that are perfect for memorization or study points on the promises of God. At the back of Bible is a helpful dictionary, “Where Do I Find It?” guide, a section on God’s promises and memory verse index

The International Children’s Bible is a translation younger kids can read and understand on their own. The New King James Version can be understood by mature young girls, but felt a bit more pre-teen to me. Of course, I always highly recommend reading Scripture with your children! These Bibles are a good resource and tool for a young girl to use independently or at school as her freedom in Christ grows.

The Sparkle and Change Holy Bible would make a great gift for your daughter, granddaughter, niece, friend or any young girl. I personally think this would make an excellent birthday, spiritual birthday or Christmas gift as well! It seems to be geared best for elementary school children to pre-teen. Keep scrolling for options on where to buy!


WHERE TO PURCHASE THE SPARKLE AND CHANGE HOLY BIBLE:

Shop/Sample the Sparkle and Change Holy Bible on Amazon:


Shop the Sparkle and Change Holy Bible at Target:


Shop the Sparkle and Change Holy Bible at ChristianBook.com:


 

A TEN STAR Book Review of Storm Rising, by Ronie Kendig, Book One of the Book of Wars Series | A heart-pounding paramilitary Christian Fiction Novel

* I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts below are my own.  Also, this blog post includes affiliate links which means I will receive a commission based on sales generated via these links.


Fast-paced action, secret missions, a highly trained assassin, hidden agendas, high octane courage, daring defeats and so much more!

STORM RISING TAKES THE TERM PAGE TURNER TO A WHOLE NEW LEVEL.

This newest release from best-selling, award winning author, Ronie Kendig, is sure to grab readers’ attention from the very first words. When former Navy SEAL Leif Metcalfe is recruited to lead a team of highly trained professionals in recovering the lost Book of Wars, he finds himself up against secrets, hidden agendas, a highly trained assassin and throngs of storms each with their own intent to kill. Readers will find themselves hungry for the next page as revelations are made and the heart-pounding hunt for the elusive Book of Wars begins…


Does an Ancient Book of Prophecy Hold the Answers to Saving the World . . . Or Predict Its Destruction? Mentioned in the pages of the Old Testament but lost to history, the Book of the Wars has resurfaced, and its pages hold secrets--and dangers--never before seen on earth.

Tasked with capturing the ancient text, former Navy SEAL Leif Metcalfe is once more given command of his own team. But their best efforts are ruined when a notorious Bulgarian operative known as Viorica snatches the volume right out from under them.

Iskra "Viorica" Todorova is determined to use the book to secure the thing that matters most--freedom. But a series of strange storms erupts around the globe, and the coming dangers foretold in the text threaten crops, lives, and entire nations. Though both are haunted by secrets of the past and neither trusts the other, Leif and Iskra must form an uneasy alliance to thwart impending disaster. However, the truth hidden in centuries-old words could unleash a storm of their own destruction
.- Synopsis from Storm Rising


Image courtesy of www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

Image courtesy of www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

★★★★★★★★★★  | Is it possible to give a book ten stars? Because I just did! Storm Rising, penned by author Ronie Kendig, is the first book in her newest series, The Book of Wars. Kendig masterfully creates a powerful, gripping story that not only takes readers along on a secret mission, but opens a world of conspiracies and lost artifacts as readers follow the main characters around the globe.

With this being my first Kendig book, my mind was completely blown. Kendig’s style and story crafting is pure genius. I love her edgy, military style with strong, heroic characters that enamor readers from the moment we meet them. Not to mention, the author clearly knows her stuff and did her research when it came to the creation of this novel.

Kendig introduces us to former Navy SEAL Leif Metcalfe who is tasked with his own unique team of military professionals to recover the Book of Wars, a book mentioned in the Septuagint but lost to history. As his team sets out, he unwillingly meets up with trained assassin Iskra Todorova, or Viorica, as she’s known, who has her own hidden agenda for retrieving the Book of Wars. When these two unlikely characters come face to face, there is certain to be a dramatic display of willpower, tension and… romance?

I loved the way Kendig wove the characters of Storm Rising together. Again, it’s masterful and creative. Her male characters are diverse, strong, cunning, heroic and dare I say, swoon worthy? The female characters are brilliant, professional, creative and just plain amazing. Half of the time, while reading, I was rooting for Iskra because I loved her devious, scary side! The dialogue between characters was perhaps some of my favorite as they banter and work together. A true team, I felt as if I were right there with them!

I never want to give too much of a good book away, so I’ll wrap up my review by saying this is a book I won’t stop recommending or talking about. Even though I finished it less than a day ago, I’m already tempted to read it again. It was incredibly good. As with any ten star book, I URGE you to grab a copy as soon as you can and dive in if you enjoy military and tactical style books, sci-fi, or even post apocalyptic style books. Storm Rising really does have it all and I can’t imagine a reader who wouldn’t enjoy this book!

Spoiler Alert: While reading the book, I kept talking about it, telling my husband he HAD to read this book. When it was over however, I actually threw the book at him. He glanced at me, completely stunned and said, I thought you liked this book?! I told him, of course I had, but in true Kendig fashion, she totally leaves readers wanting more immediately as she ends with an opening to her next book in this series, which isn’t due out for months!

She wrestled the terrible fear that Leif would die. That the glimmer of hope that had awakened at his incursion into her life would die with him. It was crazy. She barely knew him. But somehow she knew him better than she’d known anyone. He would always be there for her, if he lived.
— Ronie Kendig, Storm Rising

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Author Image Courtesy of www.roniekendig.com

Author Image Courtesy of www.roniekendig.com

Ronie Kendig is an Army brat who grew up in the classic military family, with her father often TDY and her mother holding down the proverbial fort. Their family moved often, which left Ronie attending six schools by the time she’d entered fourth grade. Her only respite and “friends” during this time were the characters she created.

It was no surprise when she married a military veteran—her real-life hero—in June 1990.  Married more than twenty-five years, Ronie and her husband  have homeschooled for the last eighteen years. Despite the craziness of life, Ronie finds balance and peace with her faith, family, and retired military working dog in Northern Virginia.

Ronie has a deep love and passion for people, especially hurting people, which is why she pursued and obtained a B.S. in Psychology from Liberty University. Ronie speaks and teaches across the country and mentors other writers.

CONNECT WITH RONIE: website |  facebook |  twitter |  pinterest |  instagram 


Lastly, pick up your own copy of Storm Rising or borrow it from your local library.  Then, I'd love to hear YOUR thoughts on the book in the comments below!