Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Heart Most Worthy by Siri Mitchell

Bethany House (March 1, 2011) 379 pages

Luciana and her grandmother(The Contessa) has fled from their home in Rome after Luciana's father is killed. The killer is after them, also. AnnaMaria is the oldest of her family and therefore has to take care of her family. She cannot get married until her parents die. Julietta longs for love. Madame Fortier tries to hide her past life and become a completely different person. She claims to be French and now runs a dress shop in America. All 4 women are Italian and will grow closer through working at this dress shop. I would say these are the main characters, but there's lots more.

The narration of this story was unlike any book I've ever read before. I knew that it would be a bit different from a few of the reviews I had read, but it's something that you don't really understand until you read the book. To me, it was like I was reading/watching a play. The narrator would tell you what was going on inside each person's head in each scene. One sentence might be one person's thoughts while the next has moved on to another character. And then it's almost like the lights of the play go out and the narrator gives you bits of information to make you understand WHY the person is thinking or acting like they are. And, what's best is that it's not near as confusing as you might think! :)It was actually wonderful to get inside so many characters minds. It was also odd to be inside a character's mind one minute and later, they are dead. Yes, Siri doesn't mind killing off characters. It does make the story more real, but still shocking. There's so many characters, though, that this isn't a spoiler!

The history in A Heart Most Worthy was also great. I learned about things I had no idea about. I never realized that Italians suffered through so much prejudice, not only from Americans, but from themselves(different regions). I also didn't know that influenza killed SO MANY people. It was an educating read for me.
This is the second book I've read from Siri and I'm just amazed at how much history she puts in her books. A Heart Most Worthy was just a beautiful book!

*I was provided a review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Good Advice and An Apology

I apologize to my fellow bloggers. I have been trying very hard to leave comments, but blogger will not let me. It keeps making me sign in over and over and OVER! It still won't let me leave comments, though. Is anybody else having this problem? Well, if you can't comment, I don't guess you could let me know if you were, though, could you?! ;)

I received this advice in an e-mail. I'm not one to forward e-mails, but since I'm not clogging your inbox here, I thought I would share. :) Some of these would make my life so much easier and better.

1. Pray
-I pray regularly, but there's been times when I'm so stressed out about something, and realize I haven't even prayed about it yet.

2. Go to bed on time.

3. Get up on time so you can start the day unrushed.
-#2 and #3 are extremely difficult with a newborn!! I have, more than once, been so exhausted that I turn the alarm off in my sleep, and missed where I needed to be.

4. Say No to projects that won't fit into your time schedule, or that will compromise your mental health.
-I've really taken on too many review books lately! Who knew my reading time would be so drastically cut?! I'm trying once again to only accept books that I desperately want to read. There's books I've won(or bought-used of course) that I desperately want to read.

5. Delegate tasks to capable others

6. Simplify and unclutter your life.
-My biggest goal right now.

7. Less is more. (Although one is often not enough, two are often too many.)

8. Allow extra time to do things and to get to places.
-I'm always late. I hate that, and I'm trying very hard to change it! Last Sunday night, since my Jonathan wasn't here, I started getting stuff(and me, Grasshopper, and Firefly) ready 2 hours early. I arrive at church 30 minutes early, so that my parents could help me usher in my little ones, and I'm shocked that they are already sitting in the church building. My goodness! How early do I need to get there to arrive before them?! ;)

9. Pace yourself. Spread out big changes and difficult projects over time; don't lump the hard things all together.

10. Take one day at a time.

11. Separate worries from concerns. If a situation is a concern, find out what God would have you do and let go of the anxiety. If you can't do anything about a situation, forget it.

12. Live within your budget; don't use credit cards for ordinary purchases.

13.. Have backups; an extra car key in your wallet, an extra house key buried in the garden, extra stamps, etc.
-This would have saved my family TONS of time through the years!!

14. K.M.S. (Keep Mouth Shut). This single piece of advice can prevent an enormous amount of trouble.
-I'm an extremely shy person, so throughout school it was joked that my motto was, "Nobody ever got in trouble by keeping their mouth shut." I think any man will tell you this is wrong. There's many questions a wife can ask, that do require an answer. ;) 99% of the time, though, this is great advice.

15. Do something for the Kid in You everyday.
-I always say I wish I had the energy and simply the wonder of my Grasshopper. We all need the heart of a child.

Mark 10:15 and Luke 18:17(New King James Version)

Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it."

16. Carry a spiritually enlightening book with you to read while waiting in line.
-I almost always carry a book with me if I'm going places, just in case. They're not always spiritually enlightening, though. I don't read fiction for inspiration or enlightenment. I simply read it for entertainment. Don't get me wrong, if a piece of fiction does inspire me, that's all the better, but I don't search it out. I do read my Bible and non-ficiton books for inspiration, though. You just can't go wrong with the Bible!! :)

17. Get enough rest.

18. Eat right.
-I'm trying very hard at this right now. I've already lost all pregnancy weight, plus about 6 pounds. Yah!! I'm thinking about starting a challenge and posting results, just to make sure I stay(and get more) motivated.

19. Get organized so everything has its place.
-My house is far from organized at the moment, but I desperately want it to be! I repeat, in my mind, "A place for everything and everything in it's place." Maybe one day it will happen.

20.. Listen to a cd while driving that can help improve your quality of life...
-I've really re-evaluated what I listen to lately. I've been watching the Duggars(that I DVR) during late night feedings, and they've encouraged me to re-evaluate a lot of things. (and no, not the amount of kids I want). ;)

21 Write down thoughts and inspirations.

22. Every day, find time to be alone.
*sigh* again. This one isn't realistic for me. I'd rather it be that way than to not have my babies, though!!!!

23. Having problems? Talk to God on the spot. Try to nip small problems in the bud. Don't wait until it's time to go to bed to try and pray.
-When I wait until bed to pray, I usually end up asleep before I even really get started.

24. Make friends with Godly people.
-Again, being shy, this one is very difficult for me. Important, though!

25.. Keep a folder of favorite scriptures on hand

26. Remember that the shortest bridge between despair and hope is often a good 'Thank you Jesus .'

27. Laugh.

28. Laugh some more!
-If I hear that a book has made someone laugh, I'm almost always searching it out(if it's clean). Recently, I purchased a used copy of a Wodehouse book that was recommended by Carrie @ Reading to Know. I can't wait to read it! Along with several of the others on this list. I linked to the list if you want to check it out.

29.. Take your work seriously, but not yourself at all.
-This is so important for me. I'm attempting some sort of schedule to make sure I can get my work done. There's been days I haven't even been able to shower. "sigh", yet again. Firefly has definitely altered the way things work around here. It's a struggle just to get things halfway clean. We love him, though!!

30. Develop a forgiving attitude (most people are doing the best they can).
-I DO believe that MOST people are truly doing the best they can.

31.. Be kind to unkind people (they probably need it the most).

32. Sit on your ego.

33. Talk less; listen more.

34. Slow down.

35. Remind yourself that you are not the general manager of the universe.
-I think this one is just funny.

36. Every night before bed, think of one thing you're grateful for that you've never been grateful for before. GOD HAS A WAY OF TURNING THINGS AROUND FOR YOU.
-I used to keep a thankful journal. I really need to start doing that again.

'If God is for us, who can be against us?'

(Romans 8:31)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Abandon by Meg Cabot

Point (April 26, 2011) 320 pages

My Review:
This was my first time to read anything by Meg Cabot. She's the author of the books that The Princess Diaries and Avalon High were based on, just in case you didn't know. I really enjoyed all three of those movies. I think this series is a bit darker, though. From what I can tell looking around she has a pretty wide range of book topics.

Abandon was an interesting read! The story is loosely based on the myth of Hades and Persephone. I'm somewhat familiar with the story, since I read Radiant Darkness by Emily Whitman last year(which was the story with a twist).

Pierce is a 17 year old girl who died a couple of years ago due to a drowning accident, but is brought back to life. She starts having trouble with school and life in general, including the suicide of one of her friends. Her and her mom decide it's best to move to a new place that translates, Island of Bones.
John is an around 19 year old guy that she meets and gets to know a bit throughout the story. If you know the story of Hades and Persephone, then you'll pretty much know the main points of the plot, but I still don't think you'll figure out all of it.

Cabot has a unique type of writing, at least in this book. I really liked the story, but part of it drive me insane!! It goes back and forth in time so much that it was sometimes confusing. You VERY slowly find out exactly what happened 2 years ago when Pierce died. I was thinking that I wish Cabot would just tell us already. In present time, I think the book only covers a few days time. I still really enjoyed it, despite that, though. The ending is a definite cliffhanger, so I'm really looking forward to the next book, Underworld.

Was it clean?
Mostly, yes. There's a few of the "minor" words of profanity. There's some talk and references that make it not totally innocent, but nothing bad, by any means.

*I was provided an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Winners of Blogoversary Giveaways

First of all, my good news. Since 5 hours is considered sleeping through the night, my Firefly has officially slept through the night!!! Yah! This tired momma needed it!! :)

It's funny that I almost just drew names out of a hat(well, bowl), because I figured all the first and last comments wouldn't have an equal chance. It seems the random number generators pick in the middle sometimes. My Jonathan wasn't home, though, so I used and the first and last commentors actually had pretty good luck. ;)

And the winners are:

Christy @ Southern Sassy Things won Larkspur Cove by Lisa Wingate

Joy @ Edgy Inspirational Romance won The Resurrection by Mike Duran

Carrie @ Reading to Know won the ARC of Entwined by Heather Dixon

Winners Pick of 3 books:
1st place: April @ Book Away
2nd place: Joy again. :)
(and since saving money on shipping here, I drew a 3rd winner and added a few more books to the pile).
3rd place: Annette @ Live, Learn, Love
(I'll contact you as soon as Joy has picked her books).

Congratulations everyone!!!! I hope you all enjoy your books!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Amish Prayers by Beverly Lewis

Bethany House (April 5, 2011)139 pages

My Review:
As the title says, this is a book of Amish Prayers. I found it to be a great devotional-type book. I'm not one who memorizes or recites prayers. I think they should come from the heart. I like reading them, though, because they give me ideas about things that I should be praying about, but haven't thought about.
Although I love reading about the Amish, I don't share most of their beliefs. I do admire their simplicity and their desire to please the Lord. I think that desire shines throughout this book!
The prayers are divided into sections, and have a Bible verse after each prayer. There's also pencil-type sketches throughout the book. I think it would make a wonderful gift! It's also simply a great addition to YOUR own library, too. ;)

Would you like a chance to win this book??

Head on over to Kav's Best Reads. She is having lots of giveaways, and this is one of them. Click HERE for the Amish Prayers giveaway. You will have to hurry. The giveaways end Sunday.

I also have one as part of my Blogoversary giveaway HERE. It ends Monday morning at midnight, so you'll have to hurry for it, too. :)

*Thanks to Jim Hart at Bethany House for my review copy! This review is my honest opinion.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg

Point (January 1, 2011) 288 pages

My Review:
This was a quick, fun, and VERY light read. If you've ever read or watched the movie(s), Pride and Prejudice, then you will know exactly what will happen in this story. There's no surprises. The characters are even named the same as in the book. Lizzie Bennett, Will Darcy, Jane, ect. Part of me liked this, because it was cute, and you don't have to figure out who is who. BUT, part of me would have liked the challenge of figuring out which person was going to be Lizzie and which one Darcy. It would have made the book a TAD less predictable. As I always say, though, I don't mind predictable books. There are a couple of changes, like the time period, setting, and Lizzie has no siblings in this story. Jane is a friend and Lydia is her sister.

Overall, this was a sweet book. I think it will be more enjoyable for the younger, young adult audience, though.

Was it clean?
Yes! There was no profanity at all. There's mention of a character being drunk(Can you guess who that will be?) :) I found it to be very clean, though.

*I was provided an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Blogoversary Giveaway #4: Winner's Pick of Any 3....2 Winners!!!

This will be my last giveaway, but I'll pick a first and second place winner. Each one can pick any 3 books.

Books to choose from are:

All of these are just linked to the Amazon page. Some of these I liked and some not so much. That doesn't mean that the ones I didn't like wouldn't be your favorite, though. :)

-Amish Prayers-compiled by Beverly Lewis(my review will go up this week).
-An ARC of My Jane Austen Summer by Cindy Jones
-An ARC of Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg(my review goes up tomorrow).
-Love's First Bloom by Delia Parr
-Hollywood Nobody by Lisa Samson
-Fresh Ideas by Diana Davis
-Tales of the Dim Knight by Adam and Andrea Graham
-Coffee Shop Conversations by Dale and Jonalyn Fincher
-Keeping a Princess Heart by Nicole Johnson
-The Wolf of Tebron by C.S. Lakin
-An ARC of Plain Wisdom by Cindy Woodsmall and Miriam Flaud
-The Kingdom Life by Alan Andrews
-Part-Time Vegan by Cherise Grifoni
House of Dark Shadows by Robert Liparulo
101 Things I Learned in Culinary School
A Friend in the Storm by Cheryl Ricker
A Man's Journey to Simple Abundance

For entries: (Please leave a separate comment for each entry).
+1 Leave a comment saying you want to be entered.
+1 Be a follower.
+1 Blog, Facebook, or Twitter about my giveaways. (Just ONCE will get you an extra entry for EACH giveaway).

U.S. only, please. I apologize to my international followers. Shipping is just too expensive. :(

This giveaway will end Monday, May 23rd.

Blogoversary Giveaway #3: The Resurrection by Mike Duran

CLICK HERE for my review.

For entries: (Please leave a separate comment for each entry).
+1 Leave a comment saying you want to be entered.
+1 Be a follower.
+1 Blog, Facebook, or Twitter about my giveaways. (Just ONCE will get you an extra entry for EACH giveaway).

U.S. only, please. I apologize to my international followers. Shipping is just too expensive. :(

This giveaway will end Monday, May 23rd.

Blogoversary Giveaway #2: Larkspur Cove by Lisa Wingate

CLICK HERE for my review.

For entries:
+1 Leave a comment saying you want to be entered.
+1 Be a follower.
+1 Blog, Facebook, or Twitter about my giveaways. (Just ONCE will get you an extra entry for EACH giveaway).

U.S. only, please. I apologize to my international followers. Shipping is just too expensive. :(

This giveaway will end on Monday, May 23rd.

Blogoversary Giveaway #1: ARC of Entwined by Heather Dixon

CLICK HERE for my review.

Remember...this is for an ARC. It still has the beautiful cover, though. :)

For entries: (Please leave a separate comment for each entry).
+1 Leave a comment saying you want to be entered.
+1 Be a follower.
+1 Blog, Facebook, or Twitter about my giveaways. (Just ONCE will get you an extra entry for EACH giveaway).

U.S. only, please. I apologize to my international followers. Shipping is just too expensive. :(

This giveaway will end Monday, May 23rd.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Bluerose's Heart's 1 Year Blogoversary Party!!!!

Today is my 1 year Blogoversary, but the celebration will be tomorrow. :) I just wanted to give you a head's up.

I'll be having giveaways post throughout the day tomorrow, the 16th.

For entries, you can:

-Simply leave a comment at each giveaway you are entering.

-Blog about my giveaways(just ONCE will get you an extra entry in EACH giveaway).

-Be a follower.

The giveaways will include:
-An ARC of Entwined by Heather Dixon
-Larkspur Cove by Lisa Wingate
-The Resurrection by Mike Duran
....And at least a couple more that I'm still deciding on. I know...I'm such a procrastinator.

Make sure you come by tomorrow!!!! :)

Larkspur Cove by Lisa Wingate

Bethany House (February 1, 2011) 360 pages

My Review:

The two main characters in this story alternate between the chapters. Andrea, a child counselor, is a newly single mom, with a teenage son. They are both struggling to adjust to life after a divorce. Andrea is also attempting to deal with her parents, who as much as they are trying to help, make Andrea feel like a child. She is also hurting at the fact that her son is growing up and doesn't need her quite so much.
Mart is a game warden who comes to Moses Lake to try and forget the death of his brother and nephew. The two of these characters meet when the town tries to figure out why Len, a man who isn't completely mentally there, has a young girl with him.

I had saw a couple of reviews saying this was a light read, but from the descriptions I saw, I just thought maybe their idea and my idea of a light read was different. Surprisingly, though, this really is a light summer read. There is suspense, mystery, and of course, some romance. I could look into my future and relate to Andrea's struggles with letting her son grow up. :) Not really, but I know I will have those struggles with my little boys.

Parts of this story were heartbreaking for me. Two things that will tug at my heart the most are children and elderly. Lisa did a great job of pulling at my emotions with both subjects. The story VERY slightly reminded me of Christy, by Catherine Marshall. This was my first read by Lisa Wingate, but I'm looking forward to reading some of her other books now!!

*I huge thanks to Jim Hart at Bethany House for my review copy. I was not required to give a positive review.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Entwined by Heather Dixon

Greenwillow Books (March 29, 2011) 480 pages

Description: (from Goodreads)
Azalea is trapped. Just when she should feel that everything is before her . . . beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing . . . it's taken away. All of it.

The Keeper understands. He's trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. And so he extends an invitation.

Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest.

But there is a cost.

The Keeper likes to keep things.

Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late.

My Review:
I LOVED this book!!! It was just a beautiful story, and I am incredibly impressed that this is a debut novel. I will definitely be keeping my eye on any of Heather's future novels.

I'm not familiar with the story of the 12 dancing princesses, so I can't say how well Heather stuck with the story or how much was elaborated, but I loved it either way. Entwined has quickly made its way onto my list of favorite books...ever, not just this year. I didn't want to put this book down. At almost 500 pages, it's pretty long, but I still hated to see it end. I wanted to keep reading about the sisters. This is a romantic fairy tale, but to me it seemed more about family than romance. It was very sweet to see the relationships growing between the sisters and the king(their Father).

The sisters are named after flowers and named in aphabetical order. Azalea is the main character, and then I would say Bramble next, and then Clover and so on. The younger they get, the less important role they play in the book. I thought it was a great change of pace that Azalea isn't considered beautiful. If I remember correctly, only two of the sisters are described as beautiful by the author. While I haven't (YET) read a lot of fairy tale retellings, I thought this book was unique and kept me turning the pages!

Was it clean?

Yes! I am thrilled that this story can be enjoyed without the worry of profanity or sex scenes. I am so grateful to the author for not taking away from the beauty of story with all that unneccessary "stuff." As mentioned earlier, there is romance in the story, but nothing detailed by any means. Three of the sisters are of marrying age, so there is the search for husbands within the story.
The only warning I have is if you or your child is spooked extremely easily, there's some creepy parts. Nothing drastic, but there's mention of an evil, magical person capturing souls and sewing their eyelids or mouths closed. There's also mention of an oath that requires drinking a person's blood. I would definitely say this is a suspenseful fairy tale for young readers.

*I was provided an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Fairer Than Morning by Rosslyn Elliott

Thomas Nelson (May 10, 2011) 400 pages

Ann dreams of a marriage proposal from her poetic suitor—until she meets a runaway apprentice who knows what a truly noble man is.

In 1826, Ann Miller travels to Pittsburgh with her widowed father and two young sisters, only to find that a mysterious man has pursued them all the way from Ohio. Is Ann’s father just a circuit minister, or is he hiding something that may endanger them all?

Will Hanby indentures with a Pittsburgh saddle maker, only to discover that his master is a cold-hearted tyrant. After years of abuse, Will becomes a prisoner of his own mind. But then lovely Ann Miller comes to stay next door and her compassion lights a long-dark part of Will’s soul. His renewed courage puts his life in jeopardy as he begins to assist fugitive slaves.

Will's murderous master and Ann's questions about her family may keep both of them bound in the shadows forever. Or will they find freedom—together?

My Review:
I just didn't want to put this book down once I got started reading. Upon starting the story I didn't fully understand what the book was about. I didn't realize it mostly revolved around slavery and an apprentice with an extremely cruel master. It just broke my heart to read about how evil some people were and are.
I've never had a problem with flipping to the end of a book and reading the ending. What I DO have a hard time NOT doing is reading the author's note at the end. Almost every time, the ending of the story is given away, so as I've mentioned before, don't read the author's note until the end! ;) I did learn from reading it, though, that the main characters are real and parts of the story are true. That made me appreciate the book even more. And from my understanding, the story will continue in the rest of the series. Most the time I actually prefer stand alones, just so I don't have to read in any specific order. I very much hope that the characters carry over this time, though. I really want to learn more about characters and their families and the work they do.
I thought this was an amazing book!

*I was provided a review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.


Monday, May 2, 2011

My Jane Austen Summer: A Season in Mansfield Park by Cindy Jones

Morrow Paperbacks (March 29, 2011) 352 pages

Description: (from Amazon)
A down on her luck woman goes on an Austen-inspired journey of self-discovery in Jones's middling debut. After Lily Berry loses her mother, gets dumped by her boyfriend, and is fired, she finds in her passion for all things Jane Austen (Jane, indeed, is Lily's imaginary friend) an escape route: she travels to England to participate in a Jane Austen re-enacting festival. Full of enthusiasm—but not acting talent—Lily is not embraced by many of the Janeites, but this doesn't prevent her from meeting a charismatic actor, contending with an impossible roommate, and struggling with dark family secrets, all while trying to find the courage to be the protagonist of her own story.

My Review:
I'll admit I haven't read any of Jane Austen's books. I've tried at least 3 times to read Pride and Prejudice, but I don't think I ever made it halfway through. I adore most of the movies and Jane Austen spin-off books. I've saw the movie, Mansfield Park, and I didn't love it. I assume from watching the movie that it would be my least favorite book of the 6. I DO want to read them, and am determined to do so one day!
My Jane Austen Summer revolves around the book Mansfield Park. IF I had read the book, I might possibly have enjoyed this one more. I don't know. But, I didn't like this one at all. I hate to say this, because it is a debut novel, and more than any other books, I really want to like a debut novel. Unfortunately, though, that wasn't the case with this one.
I didn't like the main character. I didn't connect with her, or really sympathize with her, and I should have!! Throughout the book, though, there's mention of how most people either love or hate Fanny Price. Maybe that was suppose to be the case with Lily? I don't think Fanny put herself in the positions that Lily did, or seemed to have mental problems like Lily, either. Don't get me wrong, if I was going through some of the things Lily did, I'd have problems, too. BUT, she was portrayed as stalker-like, needy, nosy, and desperate for love. I guess I like my heroines to be a bit stronger. I'm not convinced she was really changed at the end...if I can call it an anding. Of all the characters, Omar is the only one that I half-way liked.
I just had a really hard time getting into the book. If I hadn't commited to reviewing it, I probably wouldn't have finished it.
But again, keep in mind that I haven't read Mansfield Park or I may have liked My Jane Austen Summer. It's actually gotten great reviews from lots of others.

Was it clean??
It very easily could have been, but NO, it is not a clean read. Pretty much all of the "minor" words of profanity are used, along with the "f" word 3 times. There's also a couple of "sex" scenes. One you have to pretty much read between the lines to know it's a sex scene and the other was just so weird, I didn't know what to think about it. There's also mention of alcohol a few times.

*I was provided an ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.