A Cross-Country Christmas

A Cross-Country Christmas by Courtney Walsh  was a holiday romance that has been getting rave reviews. I read it and really enjoyed it. It was full of Christmas spirit and romance. I was able to get a Kindle Unlimited subscription for 99 cents for 2 months so I was able to read this book. There are several titles I hope to read. If you have never used Kindle Unlimited before then you might be able to get a free subscription. I enjoy reading on my Kindle Fire and also use the Kindle app on my phone. I am looking forward to the sequel, A Cross-Country Wedding by Courtney Walsh.

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San Antonio, Texas

We had a fun trip to Texas. We flew into Austin and drove to San Antonio, Houston, Ft. Worth, Dallas, and Waco. Our first stop was San Antonio. It was our overall favorite city full of history. We stayed at the Grand Hyatt San Antonio River Walk. We were able to walk to the Riverwalk area from the hotel. We had dinner at Casa Rio which is the oldest restaurant on the river. They do not accept reservations and the restaurant is large so the wait was not too long. We were not impressed with the food. We had lunch at Schilo’s which is the oldest restaurant in San Antonio. It is open for breakfast and lunch. They are famous for their root beer which we all enjoyed.

The Alamo is free, but you do have to reserve a church entry ticket. It was really neat to experience this iconic place.

The Missions National Historical Park is free and there are 4 missions to visit, and they are all at different locations.

We did a daytime river cruise and along the way they point out Selena Bridge and Marriage Island

We visited San Fernando Cathedral which is the oldest operating sanctuary in the U.S. The remains of Davy Crockett and others from the Alamo are entombed there.

-Japanese Tea Garden was FREE and we loved it. We were so surprised at the beauty of the gardens and how it felt like you were stepping into a magical world.

I hope you get the chance to visit this beautiful city and experience all of the history that has been preserved for all of these years.

Raising Emotionally Strong Boys: Tools Your Son Can Build On for Life

Raising Emotionally Strong Boys: Tools Your Son Can Build On for Life by David Thomas is a new Christian non-fiction book for parents. This book is geared for parents of boys. The topics covered in the book are from the author’s experience working with boys and their families. There is great insight and advice in this book. It is a great resource for parents. Thanks to Bethany House Publishers for this review copy.

About the Author

David Thomas (www.raisingboysandgirls.com), LMSW, is the director of family counseling at Daystar Counseling in Nashville, TN, and the coauthor of eight books, including the bestselling Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys and Are My Kids on Track?. He speaks regularly around the country and is a frequent guest on national television and podcasts, including his own called Raising Boys and Girls.  He has also been featured in publications like The Washington Post and USA Today. He and his wife, Connie, have a daughter, twin sons, and a yellow lab named Owen.

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Trusting God In All The Things

Trusting God in All the Things: 90 Devotions for Finding Peace in Your Every Day by Karen Ehman and Ruth Schwen is a Christian non-fiction book. This is a great book to be able to read a chapter a day. The authors share from the Bible and from their personal experiences. I have really enjoyed this devotional and the hardcover would make a great gift. Thanks to Bethany House Publishers for this review copy.

About the authors:

RUTH SCHWENK is the founder of a popular blog, TheBetterMom.com, and co-founder

with her husband Patrick of a popular blog, FortheFamily.org, and the brand new

podcast, Rootlike Faith. She is the author of several books with HarperCollins Christian

Publishing including the best-selling Pressing Pause Devotional, award-winning Settle

My Soul co-authored with Karen Ehman and The Better Mom Book and Devotional.

Ruth and Patrick release their next book together this September, In a Boat in the Middle of

a Lake. Ruth is a Michigan football super-fan, lover of all things HGTV, and a self-

proclaimed foodie. But her greatest joy is her family. She lives with her husband and

their four kids in the dreamy college town of Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Karen Ehman is a Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker, a New York Times bestselling author, and a writer for Encouragement for Today,an online devotional that reaches over 4 million people daily. She has written seventeen books including Keep It Shut, Pressing Pause, and Keep Showing Up. Her passion is to help women to live their priorities as they reflect the gospel to a watching world. Married to her college sweetheart, Todd, the mother of three, and mom-in-law of two, she enjoys antique hunting, cheering for the Detroit Tigers, and feeding the many people who gather around her mid-century dining table for a taste of Mama Karen’s cooking. Connect with her at www.karenehman.com.

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The Path to Peace: Experiencing God’s Comfort When You’re Overwhelmed

The Path to Peace: Experiencing God’s Comfort When You’re Overwhelmed by Ann Swindell is a Christian non-fiction book. I enjoyed the layout of this book that it is broken up into sections influenced by people from the Bible. Each chapter has scripture and passages to reflect on. The hardcover book with a ribbon bookmark makes this book a beautiful gift. Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for this review copy.

About the author:

Ann Swindell and her writing have been featured widely by The Gospel Coalition, Risen Motherhood, (in)courage, Proverbs 31 Ministries, and many other publications. She is the owner of Writing with Grace (where she teaches Christ-centered writing courses), and holds an MA in Writing from DePaul University and an MFA in Creative Nonfiction Writing from Seattle Pacific University. Ann lives in West Michigan with her pastor-husband and their children. Learn more at annswindell.com.

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Aggressively Happy

Aggressively Happy: A Realist’s Guide to Believing in the Goodness of Life by Joy Marie Clarkson is a new Christian nonfiction book. Joy comes from a family full of authors and I have enjoyed a few books from their family. This new book is Joy’s first solo book and the setup is unique and each chapter has suggestions to use what she writes about in your everyday life. I think this was just not a good time for me to read this book. I struggled to stay engaged while reading. Every book is not for every reader. Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for this review copy.

About the Author

Joy Clarkson (www.joyclarkson.com) is a lover of God and people, a crafter of words, and a dedicated evangelist for the soul-enriching benefits of teatime. Joy has pursued her doctorate in theology, imagination, and the arts at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and hosts a podcast called Speaking with Joy. Someone once tried to insult her by telling her she was aggressively happy. She took it as a compliment and wrote a book about it.

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One Word for Today

One Word for Today for Spirit-Filled Living: A 90-Day Devotional is a new Christian nonfiction book. This book makes reading it easy and convenient to do one word a day. Each word has a short two pages focused on that particular word. There is a scripture verse with each one. There are ways to apply the word and its meaning to your life. Thank you to Chosen for this review copy.

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The Girl Who Could Breathe Under Water

The Girl Who Could Breathe Under Water by Erin Bartels is a new contemporary fiction book. Not every book will be enjoyed by every reader and unfortunately this one was not for me. I enjoyed the setting of a lake in Michigan and that the main character was an author. There was a mystery element to the story. I didn’t care for the characters and the way the story was told by the main character having an ongoing narrative to her estranged friend. Thanks to Revell for this review book.

My favorite from this author is We Hope for Better Things.

About the Author

Erin Bartels is the award-winning author of All That We Carried, 2020 Christy finalist The Words between Us, and We Hope for Better Things, a 2020 Michigan Notable Book, 2020 WFWA Star Award-winner, and 2019 Christy finalist. A publishing professional for nearly twenty years, she lives in Lansing, Michigan, with her husband, Zachary, and their son. Find her online at http://www.erinbartels.com.

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A Trip to Magnolia

The Silos in Waco, TX

My daughter and I were able to travel to Waco, Texas for her 13th birthday in December 2021. We flew into Austin, TX and drove 1.5 hours to Waco, TX. We are fans of Chip and Joanna Gaines and their TV shows, Fixer Upper and Magnolia Table. We spent one and a half days visiting The Silos and all things Magnolia. On the first day we had about 3 hours at The Silos. I would highly recommend getting a passport at your first location and once you visit everywhere, then you get a small prize. Our first stop was Magnolia Press and we had a mocha, latte, coffee cake muffin, and apple pie cinnamon roll. They were all delicious.

Mocha and Apple Pie Cinnamon Roll from Magnolia Press.

We visited all of the shops and our favorites were No. 16, Chapter One, Juniper + Crew, Magnolia Market, and Seed + Supply. There were not a lot of options for dinner there since most of the food trucks closed early so we ate pizza from the food truck both nights and it was good.

Chapter One

We spent the morning driving by Fixer Upper houses and even their farm. We used the list from this post. We visited the Little Shop on Bosque and bought a few discounted items.

Joanna’s first store on Bosque.

We had lunch at Magnolia Table and it was amazing. I would highly recommend getting reservations. My daughter had the peppermint mocha and I had the merry berry juice. We shared Jo’s buttermilk biscuits with strawberry butter. My daughter enjoyed the pancake breakfast and I had the avocado toast. My choices were based from the Fixer Upper Season 5 episode 18 where they renovate the restaurant.

Jo’s biscuits and strawberry butter.

We spent the rest of the day at The Silos enjoying the sunshine and the garden. We played some corn hole and soccer too. We had delicious cupcakes from Silos Baking Co. We had the campfire and the chocolatier. We had a wonderful time and can’t wait to visit again.

The Silos

Prepare Him Room: A Daily Advent Devotional

Prepare Him Room: A Daily Advent Devotional by Susie Larson is a new book for the holiday season. It is the beginning of December and a great time to focus on the reason for the Christmas season. This advent book gives examples and resources to prepare our hearts for the holiday season. Each chapter is broken into a daily reading and has great reminders to focus on.  Thanks to Bethany House Publishers for this review copy. This would make a great gift for someone this holiday season.

About the Author

Susie Larson (www.susielarson.com) is a national speaker, bestselling author, and the host of the daily talk show Susie Larson Live, heard on the Faith Radio Network with over 2.3 million downloads. Susie has written 18 books and many articles. She’s been a guest on Focus on the Family, Life Today, and Family Life Today, as well as many other media outlets. Voted twice as a top-ten finalist for the John C. Maxwell Transformational Leadership Award, she is also a veteran of the fitness field. Susie has been married to her dear husband, Kevin, since 1985, and together they have three wonderful sons, three beautiful daughters-in-law, two beautiful grandchildren, and one adorable pit bull named Memphis. Susie’s passion is to see people everywhere awakened to the value of their soul, the depth of God’s love, and the height of their calling in Christ Jesus.

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