Friday, March 25, 2011

FIRST Wild Card Tour: 84600: Manage Your Purpose to Make Every Second of Each Day Count

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

86400: Making Every Second of Every Day Count

FaithWords (March 25, 2011)

***Special thanks to Sarah Reck, Web Publicist, Hachette Book Group for sending me a review copy.***


Lavaille Lavette has worked as a schoolteacher, school district administrator, speechwriter, marketing executive, columnist and Co- Host on Radio One's Christian Radio Station, 92.1 FM. From 2001-2005, she served as special advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Education, Dr. Rod Page.

Visit the author's website.


Have you ever gotten to the point in your life where one day is like all the rest? Where the individuality, excitement and purpose of every moment is drained of its promising complexion? Through work, school, family and routine, people strive more and more to "get by" rather than "get going." But God didn't intend for it to be like this. Every precious second in a day, all 86,400 of them, is a gift from Him to us. Our lives, that we whittle away with routine and complacency, are meant for so much more.

86,400 is the instigator for a renewed life of intention and relevance-ultimately making the most out of every single day. By showcasing how she and Christians who carry either celebrity or inspirational significance manage their daily gift, Lavaille effectively teaches readers how they can fulfill God's intended purpose.

Product Details:

List Price: $21.99
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: FaithWords (March 25, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0446571474
ISBN-13: 978-0446571470

Press the Browse Button to View the Chapter:

My review: I'm still reading the to follow! :)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Review and Giveaway: Mr Bo Finds a New Home and a New Name

I've had the pleasure of reviewing a precious new children's book called Mr. Bo Finds a New Home and a New Name. If you follow my blog, you probably know that I am a reading specialist, so children's books are near and dear to my heart! This book did not disappoint. Told from the point of view of a stray cat wanting to be adopted, I firmly believe that you and your child will fall in love with this story as quickly as I did!

You can learn more about Mr. Bo and his author on his website,

Something else I really like about this book is that it comes with a FREE e-Live link to download the audio version of the book! This is a WONDERFUL idea! Not only can a child listen to the book alone this way, but this also makes the book much more helpful for students who might have difficulty reading. The more a child who struggles reading hears words read aloud, the more likely he or she is to remember the words and to be able to recognize them in print. There are many children who may struggle sounding out words successfully but can comprehend books well. This is ideal for that child! This also gives a child who is not yet a very fluent reader a good example of a fluent reading of the book. A child can then began to imitate the reading of the story, and thus become a more fluent reader in return!

I'm so excited that not only do I get to share the story of Mr. Bo Finds a New Home and a New Name with you, I also have a copy to give away! All you have to do to enter is tell me the name of one of your favorite children's books. That's it! I'll keep the giveaway open until April 2 at noon.

Thanks so much for dropping by and for entering the giveaway! I hope you enjoy the book as much as I do! Thanks again to the Family Review Network for the opportunity to review this book!

Disclosure: I received a copy of the book for review. All statements and opinions herein are my own.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Review: Save the Date

Are you looking for an uplifting Christian novel about a young woman and the lengths to which she'll go to help others? Then I've got the book for YOU! Save the Date tells the story of Lucy, who in a spot to save her non-profit foundation, agrees to pose as fiancee for Alex to further his political career. Lots of interesting things happen along the way...I won't give away exactly what, but I promise it will keep your attention!

What I liked about this book: The storyline was totally believable and real. The characters were well developed and well thought out. I loved that it was about realistic relationships, and didn't contain any unnecessary sex, etc.!

What I didn't like about this book: there were a few points where I thought that it dragged, but obviously not enough for me not to finish it, which is saying quite a bit since I am bad to put books down if I'm not really into them!

If you're still not sold on the book, check out the author Jenny B. Jones website! She seems very cool! I'd like her to be my friend!

I recommend this book! Check it out sometime!

Disclosure: I received this book from BookSneeze in exchange for a review of the book. All opinions herein are my own.

Is dinnertime a struggle at your house, too?

Yep, mine too! That is the time that the baby wants to be fed, Isaac coming up and saying,"What's for dinner?! I'm STARVING!" and usually for Isaac and Adam to start arguing about something minor that soon escalates to either screaming or tears.

Now, I gotta add a disclaimer here. I'm not the one who does the cookin'.

For those of you who know me personally, this comes as no surprise, but for my loyal reader, whoever you may be, that hasn't met me in person yet.....I'm sorry to disappoint you. I'm no cook! Chris is an excellent cook and enjoys it, whereas I stink at it and hate it. So we decided early in our marriage that he'd do the majority of the cooking.

If it brings him such pleasure, why should I take that from him, right??


But that seriously doesn't diminish the fact that dinnertime is a hard time for most mothers as they prepare to get a meal on the table. Since it is usually moms who are doing this, Ragu has heard your plea for help!! They have created a Facebook page called "Mom's the Word for Dinner!"

Here's what Ragu has to say to you moms:
We strive to bring moms together to share stories and tips, celebrate the small wins and laugh about situations that only other moms can relate to. Each month, this online community will be tackling topics from how to deal with picky eaters, to getting them to eat their veggies to what's being discussed at the dinner table, with some tips from parenting expert and author, Dr. Michele Borba, and Registered Dietician, Dr. Felicia Stoler.

In addition to giving moms an opportunity to talk and have fun together through their community, there will also be videos, pictures, polls, quizzes, and even dinner ideas with quick and easy recipes! (Hey, maybe even I could make these!!)

While we're talking about Ragu, did you realize that Ragú® Old World Style® Traditional pasta sauce, Ragú® provides two full servings of veggies in every half cup of sauce? This company does strive to help moms not only have a community, but also to get those veggies into our kids....something we all know isn't that easy!

There is even a contest going on right now where you could tell your story and have a chance to be in an ad in People magazine!!

So go check it out! Who might even see me there!!

Disclosure: I was entered for a chance to win a Ragú® prize package in exchange for this post. No monetary exchange took place.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Control Car Clutter with the Kiddie Catch All!

Here's another product that has me saying,"How come I didn't think of that?!"

Introducing the Kiddie Catch-All!

Having recently re-entered the world of small toddler toys, I am starting to remember how frustrating it can be for my little one to not have toys or sippy cups available close by when he needs them, especially when his older brothers aren't in the car to help fetch said objects when Robbie drops them. The Kiddie Catch-All is perfect! It fits easily on the side of your child's car seat and is deep enough and has a wide enough opening to store all he or she needs within easy reach!

From the website:
Kiddie Catch-All™ is the perfect accessory for your car, truck or minivan! Fill it with books, toys, games, snacks, sippie cups...whatever your child wants is now right at their fingertips with the Kiddie Catch-All™. Never worry about picking things off the floor while driving again! And no more taking your eyes off the road! Keep your car organized, your family safe and your children occupied with the Kiddie Catch-All™.

We tried the Kiddie Catch-All out in my husband's car. We installed it on the side closest to the door, since both big boys also sometimes need to fit in the back seat with him. I was pleased to see that Robbie could reach it and the door handle cleared it, too! Perfect!

The website also is offering a buy one get one free offer, as well as a free bonus CD! Since Robbie has recently started dancing along to music, I'm sure we're going to get much use out of it, too!

These are not sold in stores, so to order one, visit the Kiddie Catch-All website! Thank you to Kiddie Catch-All and the Family Review Network for the opportunity to review this much-needed product!

I was provided with a product to review for this post. All statements and opinions are mine, unless otherwise stated.

Now if I could only get the big boys to control their clutter.....

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Review: Infantino Cloud Shopping Cart Cover

Once again, Infantino to the rescue! Just when I needed a shopping cart cover and/or a high chair cover to take with me when out and about, this great company introduced a quality product!

The Infantino Cloud has several great features. It is very washable and can also be wiped off. It is designed to be used as a shopping cart cover, and as a high chair cover. Not only that, it is designed to cover both smaller, backless high chairs and taller ones as well. It has its own safety strap, too...but my favorite feature are the toy loops to which I can attach toys! This keeps Robbie from playing his favorite game of late: drop-it-so-mommy-has-to-retrieve-it! You remember that game, right?!

We have tried the Infantino Cloud out at several restaurants, and it not only kept him from having access to touch and mouth the materials that other children had touched, it also kept him occupied and comfortable while we were waiting for our meal. We haven't yet had the opportunity to take it out shopping with us, but I have no doubts that it will help out in that capacity as well!

The only drawback I might see would be that it has a light colored background, making it a necessity to wash it more often than a darker background might. With three sons, though, my washer runs pretty constantly, so this is a problem I can easily manage.

Thanks again to Mom Central and Infantino for the opportunity to review this product! Remember, you can always interact with Infantino on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter

“I am a participant in a Mom Central Consulting campaign for Infantino and have received various Infantino products as part of my participation.”

Monday, March 7, 2011

FIRST Wild Card Tour: Iris

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Iris: Trophy of Grace

CrossHouse Publishing (September 15, 2010)

***Special thanks to Jennifer Nelson, PR Specialist, Hannibal Books for sending me a review copy.***


Ron Owens--born in Canada, son of missionary parents to Europe--has multifaceted ministries. These include teaching, preaching, and music ministry in North America and beyond. He has authored other books and articles and has composed, recorded, and had published many songs in collaboration with his wife, Patricia. The Owens have one son, Jeff, a daughter-in-law, Jessica, and two grandson, Ethan and Evan.

Visit the author's website.


Iris Urrey was raised in a middle-class Christian home, but she was rebellious almost from the start. Running away at the age of thirteen, she became involved with drugs and prostitution, and at seventeen was arrested for armed robbery. Once released from prison, she continued down a path of self-destruction. From numerous abortions to using heroin, to managing a topless bar, Iris turned from God's calling again and again.

But God, who in eternity past had devised a plan for this "incorrigible" rebel, didn't give up on Iris. He had work for her to do, and would one day turn this "incorrigible" rebel into one of His beautiful trophies of grace.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.95
Paperback: 194 pages
Publisher: CrossHouse Publishing (September 15, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1934749915
ISBN-13: 978-1934749913



This is the story of one of God’s children who truly understands the meaning of what John Newton wrote many years ago, “I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.” Though reared in a Christian home and being expected to do all the things that a “church family” child should do, rebellion was simmering just below the surface. At the age of thirteen it erupted—Iris Urrey ran away from home. This was but the beginning of a life that would become increasingly involved in drugs, prostitution and other criminal activities. Being arrested, jailed and released, had become routine for this teenager until, at the age of seventeen, she was arrested for armed robbery. With her history of drugs and crime, the authorities worked the system and were able to hold her over until her 18th birthday so she could be tried as an adult.

“So what,” was her attitude. “If this is to be part of the life I’ve chosen to live—no big deal.” Iris found herself heading down the wide road that leads to destruction and she couldn’t get off. She was unable to resist temptation, she was living only for the moment, without any thought of her future. A casual observer would have written her off. “No hope for that girl.” But God was not a casual observer. He had already written the future chapters of Iris’ life; chapters that she would never have thought to write herself; chapters she would never have even dared to dream.

Years in prison, solitary confinements, released back into society to immediately return to the lifestyle that had led to her incarceration, she was headed toward the same tragic ending so many of her friends would meet. But this was not to be for Iris Urrey. Pursuing her, every step of the way, in and out of prison, in the middle of heroine highs and robberies, was her Creator, who in eternity past had devised a plan that would eventually turn this “incorrigible rebel” into one of His beautiful trophies of grace. As hard as she tried, she could not hide from Him. He was always there.

But this is not only a story of grace and redemption, it is the story of a world-wide ministry that has found this longest serving Mission Service Corps Volunteer with the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board, sitting beside top military brass at a NATO function one day, then serving tea and cookies to German prostitutes on a cold wintry afternoon, the next. It is the story of perseverance in the face of obstacles placed in her way by well-meaning fellow believers who sometimes had difficulty in accepting her non-traditional approaches to reaching the disenfranchised. Through discouragements and failures, through losses and gains, this unconventional “saint” pressed on, and still presses on, by faith, toward the prize of her high calling in Christ Jesus.

Finally, this book is more than a history of Iris, it addresses many of life’s issues that are common to us all, and in her unique way, Iris provides answers out of her own personal experiences. The impact she has had on countless lives over the years is affirmed in the tributes and testimonies recorded in these pages.

—Ron Owens

January, 2010


My life’s message is faith. That’s why I am excited to have my story follow Bro. Manley Beasley’s biography because he is the person God brought into my life when I was a very young believer, to teach me and show me by his life what living by faith really is.

A lot of people talk and preach the faith life but they don’t practice it because it’s a lot easier to just talk about it. The walk of faith is a choice. There are times that I get in the flesh and begin worrying about tomorrow, especially when we are facing major financial challenges. All I know to do then is to confess it to the Lord and go back to trusting Him with tomorrow.

If God can take someone like us—me and Blue—not educated and not smart like a lot of people think is important or necessary to accomplish anything, and use us however He’s been able to, it has to be Him doing it. When you look at our lives there is absolutely no explanation for how far we’ve come. When it comes to finances, which is so much a part of life, you can’t say we’ve been good managers or that we’ve figured out how to do things, or that we’ve made good investments. I admit that we’ve tried several “tent-making” things on the side, in order to help our ministry, and though that may be alright for others to do, we found that while everyone else was making money, we were going in the hole. So, we’ve learned, sometimes the hard way, that the Lord is going to honor our faith and nothing else. It hasn’t been easy because we’ve been led through some very deep valleys and we’ve had to climb some high mountains, but we can testify that He has never failed to see us through.

We’ve traveled around the world without any visible means of income. We have never had our way paid for any of our overseas trips. All the times we worked with Bro. Manley we had to trust the Lord for our own finances. One of my early learning experiences was when he said he would like me to go on a mission trip to Alaska. I had not been saved that long and was still crawling in the kind of faith walk Bro. Manley taught, but I thought I’d try to trust the Lord for the money to make the trip.

I was directing the girl’s home in Houston, Texas at that time, and with all I was having to trust the Lord for there, I began wondering if I would really get to go to Alaska. Then one day a lady brought me a pair of “long-handles” (thermal underwear) with little pink bows on them. If they had been “long-handles” for men I wouldn’t have thought anything about it, but those pink bows? It suddenly dawned on me that I would never wear “long-handles” in Houston, so I called Bro. Manley immediately and shouted into the phone, “I’m going to Alaska.” He asked: “How do you know, sister?” He probably thought I was going to say, “I’m really hoping to go,” like I had told him at other times. He would always answer, “Well, you’re not going because it’s going to take more than hope.” This time I said: “Bro. Manley, I don’t need ‘long-handles’ in Houston!” I went to Alaska.

I pray that this book will be a help and encouragement to you in your own walk of faith and that, as you read about my early years when I was running away from God, you will see how faithful He was, even then, to not let me destroy myself. Most people had given up on me, but God didn’t. I am living proof that, “…He who hath begun a good work in you (and in me) will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6). Amen!

—Iris Blue

January, 2010

Part One




“Those who rebel against the light;

They do not know its ways

or abide in its paths.”

(Job 24:13)


Texas Department of Corrections,

Goree Unit, Huntsville

“But Mama’s not going to be able to come way up here to Goree”

It’s about a ninety minute drive north on Interstate 45 from the south side of Houston to Huntsville, Texas—ninety minutes from the Harris County Courthouse to the Goree Unit of the Texas Department of Corrections. She had just been sentenced, shackled by handcuffs and leg irons and pushed into a paddy wagon. Now, convicted felon, Iris Urrey, would have 90 minutes to reflect on what had been happening during the nine months since her arrest for armed robbery. There was one thing for certain; she was glad the Harris County Jail experience was behind her.

From the time they’d locked her up to the time she heard the judge sentence her to seven more years, Iris had had a running battle with the jail guards who tried to control her. She was constantly fighting. The truth was, she never backed down from a good fight, she looked for fights, and in her own words, “was so ornery that it was not long before they began putting me in the “hole.”

“This next place can’t be as bad as where I’ve been,” she thought, as the paddy wagon drove north on Interstate 45. She remembered how hard it had been to sleep in “the hole,” curling her 6' 3" body around the 4' square space that had no mat, no blanket and no pillow. Now, as they approached Huntsville and were turning on to Hwy 75 where the Goree women’s prison unit was located, Iris began wondering how often her Daddy would be willing to make the 150 mile roundtrip to visit her. The last thing he had said as he watched his daughter being led off in shackles, was; “I’ll be coming to see you as soon as I get the visitation schedule.” She figured he would at least try. He had never missed a visitation day during the nine months she’d been in the Harris County jail, though on many of those visits, when she was in segregation, he was not able to see her. That had not deterred him, however. Every week on visitation day Pat Urrey had been there with the exact items he was permitted to bring his daughter, including $18.00 every second visit. “But now…will he…?

Iris thought of her mother and how badly she had treated her. When she was in the Harris County jail, her mother, Mama, would ride the bus all the way across town to often be told that her daughter was in segregation and could not be seen. One time, as her mother was walking toward the jail, she heard Iris shouting through the bars of her 4th floor cell window asking her to go to Foleys to buy some crazy game and to pick up as many Edgar Casey books as she could find. Her mother walked 16 blocks, each way, to do what Iris had asked her to do. “But Mama’s not going to be able to come way up here to Goree.”

Her father had not let Iris’ mother attend the sentencing. He felt it would be too hard on her. He did, however, take her younger sister, Punkin,1 with him, hoping it would put a scare into his youngest daughter who was already following in her big sister’s footsteps. What Iris didn’t know was that her mother would live in denial for the next seven years, doing her best to keep what was happening to Iris a secret from her friends, her church, and even relatives. When asked what Iris was doing, she’d tell people that she had moved to San Antonio to work in the Coca Cola Bottling Company. They would not press her for more information as they all knew the truth. They had read about it in the newspapers.

Goree was at that time an all-female unit, originally established in the early 1900’s. Twenty years prior to Iris’ arrival it had become famous, from coast to coast, when eight women inmates, all under the age of thirty, put together a Country Western singing group that became known as The Goree Girls. Fort Worth radio station, WBAP, heard about them and arranged to use them on a public service program called, Thirty Minutes Behind the Walls. The Goree Girls2 became an overnight sensation as they were broadcast on the Ft. Worth clear channel station all across America. For the next three years, every Wednesday night from ten to ten-thirty, central time, the program averaged a weekly radio audience of over 7 million listeners, while in excess of 100,000 letters a year poured into the Goree prison office.

Who knows but that Iris might have fit in with the Goree Girls back then. She was born with a strong, beautiful, God-given singing voice, but now, as she was about to drive through the prison gate, she had no song to sing. She would not find the song she was born to sing for another nine years, and Goree was to become anything but a place of music for her.

My review: I just got the PDF for this book, so I'll get my review up ASAP!