Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Book Review: Everything is Just Beginning by Erin Bartels

book Everything is Just Beginning by Erin BartelsI have another great new book to share with you. The book Everything is Just Beginning by Erin Bartels is a story that pulls you in with relatable characters, twist in the plot that keep you on your toes, musical and historical details making the story feel authentic and wisdom that stays with you long after the story ends.

The story follows Michael Sullivan after he is ousted from his band and apartment, resulting in moving in with his uncle in a run down trailer. An unexpected New Years party invitation, not addressed to him, provides an introduction to an unlikely friend, musical opportunity, and kicks off a year that will change their lives.

I was not ready for this story to end and wanted to know more of the characters that had been through so much. The story was filled with emotion, yet for the most part relatable and  realistic situations. The main characters each had unique hard journeys to travel, from completely different backgrounds and yet the author weaved their stories together expertly. This one is worth the read!

I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for a review. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Book Review: The Rose and the Thistle by Laura Frantz

It is a long time since I've posted in this space but with the chance to start writing book reviews again with Revell, I'm happy to dust off this writing spot.

The Rose and the Thistle by Laura Frantz is a historical Christian romance that released earlier this month. The book takes place in 1715 Scotland during the Jacobite uprising and tells the story of Lady Blythe Hedley who flees northern England for safety in southern Scotland at the home of her godfather during the political unrest and the dangerous situation caused by her father's Jacobite allegiances. At Wedderburn Castle, she finds shelter under the care of Everard Hume, the new Lord of Wedderburn, after the death of the godfather she had never met. 

Far from home in a strange area, full of worry, with danger on all sides, conflicts within the Hume family, Blythe faces challenges that push her outside of her comfort zone but with time she finds more than she ever expected. Everard, still grieving his father, new to the position of Lord and managing the family estate, and brothers adding challenges to his plate, is unsure of this new charge thrust upon him and the implications of his father's promise.

I enjoyed this book greatly, getting swept up in the storyline and at the same time also enjoying the historical details woven in by the author in a way that did not distracting from the story. I often find myself being cautious about historical fiction, especially Christian historical fiction, unless I know the author as often the plots become rather predictable, many still good for vacay reads but not a book to really dive into. Frantz has created characters with enough depth you will root for them, plot twists to keep you guessing, and faith elements woven in to encourage you. When the book ended, I was not ready yet to say goodbye to the characters nor the time period.

I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for a review. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

November of Thankfulness 2020

My mind is not ready to really think about Christmas or even Advent yet. In our household, November is for counting our blessing and recording our thankfulness, in the form of a paper chain we add to almost every day. It is so amazing to what the physical representation of our thankfulness grow and keep reminding ourselves how blessed we are.

And yes it is 2020 and one of our children included Toilet Paper in our Thankful Chain.

Just another tradition from Life on the Gravelly Road. 

Monday, November 9, 2020

Sharing is Caring

Sharing is Caring I say... this post is full of affliate links which means if you use the links, I get a bonus in one form or another, but my opinions and words are my own... all these services and products are things we use/enjoy.

 Walmart Grocery Pickup -

Even before "Shelter in Place" orders, I was using Walmart Grocery pickup to allow me to work a bit longer at my husband's real estate office then get our groceries on my way home without LINES or CROWDS. Since March, it has been my go-to every week. Use my link to try Walmart Grocery Pickup and we both get $10 off.  Great right?


Shutterfly is my fav place to make photobooks for family, order cards and print photos quick. (I use other sites for high quality prints that are going to be framed long term on my walls). Plus Shutterfly has some great deals just about anytime you order (so I make sure to google for codes before placing any order).

If you want to give Shutterfly a try, below are some referral link deals they have going on this month

50% Off Holiday Cards

Free Photobook

Free Personalized Metal Ornament


My husband has been an audible user much longer than the rest of the family but we are hooked. My husband routinely listens to business books - investing, real estate, money management etc while on the treadmill or mowing. The kids all have favorite books they listen to before falling asleep on their Alexa Dot devices (there are quite a few free kids books included in the "Plus" library that is free with a subscription). I enjoy finding a book we all can try on longer car rides... something to listen to together without movies or screens.

See some of the best sellers on Audible here


I've tried several online rewards programs but right now fetch Rewards is my favorite, mostly because you can connect your Amazon account and email so it can electronically scan for orders, besides just scanning receipts. Plus no web browser plug-ins or log-ins to get credit for online shopping.  Reward points can be turned into Amazon gift cards which is another bonus. Give it a try and we both get bonus points.

Download Fetch Rewards for free here: https://fetchrewards.onelink.me/vvv3/referralemail?code=M6Q2P


Ok, not really a online tool or hack but I love good books for me and the kids. Here's some of our favorites when our kids were younger: Books While We Wait

Our current read aloud series is Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson

Here's a list of books I've reviewed in the past: Book Reviews

Just a few of our favorites at Life on the Gravelly Road. What are some of your favorite online tools and hacks?

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Happy Halloween 2020

 from a King, The Madalorian and Dorthy (who was just about blown away to Oz during our little bit of trick-or-treating). We spent the evening with my parents and sister. Kids did a fun scavenger hunt my mom and sister put together and then we trick-or-treated a little. Somehow they came home with as many treats as usual even though, some amazing generosity and creative ways to give kids some fun safely.

Monday, August 31, 2020

First Day of School 2020


Today is the first day of school for our three kids, here on the Gravelly Road... first days of 6th, 4th and 3rd grades.  A day of new beginnings and new challenges for all of us. While this start of school is so different than past years (new routines and safety measures plus masks), all three get to start the year with in-person learning, build relationships with their new teachers, and see their friends!

I'm looking forward to hearing all about their first days when they return home to the gravelly road.

Dear Lord - 

We ask for an extra special blessing on the school year ahead of each of our three children. Each journey is unique and will be used fore your purposes in their lie, though all three start a new phase today after being home both spring and summer. We especially pray for the safety and health of everyone at their schools and that wise decisions will be made to keep school a place of learning not fear and worry.

Guide their teachers as they give instruction, encouragement, and build the tone of their classrooms.  Grant them wisdom for those moments when a child's tears or frustrated words are coming from a deeper hard place than just a tough morning.  May their classrooms be places of learning and inclusion, a safe place to try, fail and try again. 

Watch over our three as they start and strengthen friendships, handle challenges, try new hard things, work through conflict and learn the life lessons you have for them.  Guide their words and actions so that they are kind and compassionate to those around them.  Surround them with friends that bring out their best so that they can build each other up.  Help them to be part of the good and amazing things you are doing in their schools.

Thank you again and again for allowing us to parent these precious kiddos.  They are each growing and changing so fast it often takes my breath away.  Continue to grow them into the people you called them to be and help me to help them see how you are working in their lives.


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