Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sorry Everyone!



If you got an e-mail from me with just a link, don't open it. I've been hacked again. I apologize to everyone!!! My password has been changed, and I'm off to change other passwords, too! :S

The Spindlers by Lauren Oliver



HarperCollins (October 2, 2012) 256 pages

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Thoughts:

Liza loves her little brother, Patrick. Sure, he may annoy her at times, but what little brother doesn't? One morning she wakes up to discover her brother isn't the same one from the night before. She immediately knows that the Spindlers have taken his soul. Anna, her former babysitter, told her all about the Spindlers and how to avoid them. Patrick must have forgotten to say the charm before going to sleep, though. Since her parents don't believe her, she must go Below on her own to save Patrick. Along the way, she meets Mirabella, a rat that tries her best to "beautify" herself. She also meets many new creatures, like the Nocturni, troglods, nids, and many more both good and bad.

I have a love/hate relationship with the whole "this-book-is-this-meets-that" comparison. The Spindlers was claimed to be a "Alice in Wonderland" meets "Coraline". I actually have to agree this time! There was one particular scene that especially made me think of Coraline, but The Spindlers does have a dark, adventurous feel to it. Reading it brought me back to my childhood days of watching Goosebumps.

I enjoyed it! This was my first time reading anything by Oliver, but I do have even higher hope for Leisl and Po, which is on my reading shelf right now. I've heard even better things about it. I especially liked Liza's commitment to her family. They aren't perfect. Her parents are particularly stressed with bills, and not so fun at the moment, but Liza loves them, and at least tries to remain respectful of them.

Overall, this is a wonderful middle grade book for younger readers. It is slightly on the creepy side, but I don't think it will bother most readers.

*I was provided an ARC through the Amazon Vine program in exchange for my honest opinion.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

David Sticker Book by Karen Williamson



Candle Books (April 1, 2012)

My Thoughts:

The David Sticker Book is a short 12 page book about David's life contained in I Samuel 16-19. There's also 4 pages of stickers, for a total of 16 pages. On each page there are places for some of the stickers. Those places are almost whited out, but with a very faint glimpse of details. (You can see those whited out spots on the cover). There are also extra stickers to place wherever your little one wants.

We really enjoyed playing with this sticker book. It was mostly used with Grasshopper(4). Even though there's a warning not for children under 3 on the book, Firefly(1...almost 2) still enjoyed it, too. Many of the stickers ended up going in places they weren't meant to go, but that's okay! :) This is a great book for both playing and learning about the Bible at the same time.

I like that the pages are on the thicker side. Since this is also a storybook, those thicker pages allow this book to be used over and over even after the stickers are placed. We're still working on trying to keep both of our little ones quiet during church and focused on something at least somewhat Bible related. I admit we used to bring small toys with us, but we're trying to keep "entertainment" limited to paper, colors, and stickers now. For us, this book is a great option for church "quiet time". (Don't let me leave you with the impression that our little ones are actually quiet all the way through church! They've came a long way, but it's very much a work in progress.) They've actually been conservative with the stickers, so it might even get a few more uses!

Overall, we've been very pleased with this book, and I'm even looking at more from this line to add to our bag.

*We were provided a review copy of this book in exchange for our honest opinion.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Desperate by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson


Thomas Nelson (January 8, 2013) 240 pages

My Rating 4.5/5 stars

My Thoughts:

As I near the end of my pregnancy, I'm miserable. I'm exhausted, in pain(!!), and ill AS. A. HORNET! My house looks like a tornado swiped through it. My precious little ones rarely get to see "the best of me" these days. As I collapse into bed at night, I'm filled with guilt and frustration because I realize I've did more fussing and complaining at them than I have shown them what a joy they really are to me. When I picked up this book, I was truly desperate! I was so desperate to know that I'm not alone with this battle that I cried reading these women's words. They felt like MINE! They were taking thoughts right out of my head, and I felt such relief.

When I started on the introduction of Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe, I thought, "Wow, this person writes just like Ann Voskamp!" When I got to the end, I realized it was no wonder, because it was Ann Voskamp! You may remember that I didn't care for her book, but I do think she has a beautiful style of writing(mostly). She only has two pages in the book, but I connected with what she wrote along with almost everything Sarah writes, too. Sally is the "wise" writer of this book, so I can't say I connected with her words. Believe me, though, I soaked them in my brain.

At first I wasn't overly fond of the set-up of Desperate. I did eventually see its benefit, though. Each chapter starts out with a letter from Sarah to Sally and then one in response from Sally to Sarah. There's a subject assigned to each chapter, with Sarah writing about the topic first, and then Sally going next. There's Bible verses and challenges at the end of each chapter, too. At the end of the book, Sally has a "Question and Answer" session. I didn't read all of the Q&A part word for word. Some of the questions just didn't apply to my current stage of life/children. I'm sure I'll be referring back later.

I have TONS of quotes marked throughout this book, but this one sums up the whole feel of the book for me!

"I spend hours poring over homeschooling materials. I listen to inspirational audio about homemaking. I read books that encourage me to be a kind and loving wife. I desire to live well. But, as we all know, good intentions don't lead to a life well-lived; a life well-lived is accomplished when we walk each day in faith, keeping our eyes on Jesus and our hearts inclined to His Word.
It is accomplished when we choose right in the little things: to get off the computer when our little one wants us to read them a book. To cuddle when our children watch a movie. To kiss our husbands instead of push them away, so we can finish cooking dinner. To spend an hour making our bookshelf look ordered and pretty. To light a candle at dinner. To take the time to feast on the Word. To pray earnestly and with vulnerability. To hold our tongue when we want to scream. To hug tighter when we want to hurt.
Living out our intentions is not easy, but it is rewarding.
And we do have a choice. We can choose to live little by little."
(pages 143-144, Sarah Mae)

I like that these ladies' biggest advice is "don't take so much advice". It becomes SO overwhelming trying to keep up with everything I'm "supposed" to be doing. I just need to relax(not be lazy!) more than anything and enjoy my children. More than anything, I need to turn to God and His Word through it all. There's chapters on discipline, housework, beautifying your home, etc.

Overall, this is a book that I greatly appreciate. I highly recommend it for mommas out there with little ones(especially multiple little ones).

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

Bon Appetit and Piece de Resistance by Sandra Byrd

*****There are slight spoilers for the previous books with each of these!



My Rating: 5/5 stars

My Thoughts:

Lexi gets the opportunity of a lifetime! She's going to France to study cooking and work in Luc's family's bakery. This doesn't come without a price, though! She's leaving her family and friends. It's especially difficult being away from her best friend, as things progress very quickly with her boyfriend. Lexi feels guilty not being there for her. Then there's Dan. Lexi doesn't know if she's leaving something special uncovered or not.

While in France, Lexi meets new people and friends. She even meets a little girl that she actually likes(she's not a kid person, to say the least). Plus, a new man enters her life.

I liked Let Them Eat Cake. It was fun and cute. It's with this book, Bon Appetit, though, that I fell in love with the series. I adored that it was set in France. I gained a better appreciation of the culture over there. You will learn the difference between preservatives and preservatifs! ;) I appreciated that laugh!

Lexi now has two amazing guys in her life, and I honestly didn't have a clue who she would end up with as the story ended. I enjoyed seeing Lexi's spiritual growth, and even passing that growth on to others. It was fun to see her thaw out many of the cold shoulders she encountered, and even strengthening her relationships with friends and family.

As I mentioned yesterday, once again there was recipes throughout this book. I have quite a few of them bookmarked!

Overall, I loved Bon Appetit, and jumped right into the next book.

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



My Rating: 5/5 stars

My Thoughts:

Lexi is back in Seattle, working at her dream job. It's a little more difficult than she imagined with responsibilities she didn't realize she was taking on with the job. She's determined to make it work, though, and quickly! It's only a matter of months before she could lose it all.

In Piece de Resistance, Lexi has to work through her feelings for both Dan and Phillipe. I had my pick, and anticipated who would win her heart pretty early on in this book. It still warmed my heart to see it all come together, though. I'm not one for "edgy" Christian romances. While I do have a few "edgy" authors I'm pretty loyal to, I prefer "sweet" romances. I love FEELING those looks across the room. Sandra's writing gave me that and more! When I can feel the warmth from two characters holding hands, or a simple kiss on the cheek melts my heart, I know I've found a talented author!(Of course, I already knew that with Sandra!) ;) While many of the "sweet romances" I've read sacrifice greatly in the romance department, that wasn't the case with this book! It was a "melt my heart" romance without the edgy, and THAT made me one happy and content reader as I turned the last page.

I grew to love this series more and more as it went along, and with Piece de Resistance, this series officially made it to my favorites list. Not to mention, I'll never look at suspenders without thinking of this series now. ;)

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

****************


 photo FinalButton1_zpsac14075d.jpg



***Don't forget that through TOMORROW, FEBRUARY 14th, you can grab Let Them Eat Cake for FREE on Kindle. I highly recommend grabbing Bon Appetit and Piece de Resistance for only .99 while you're at it! This deal also ends tomorrow! Seriously, you can't beat reading this whole series for $1.98!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Let Them Eat Cake by Sandra Byrd (FREE for a limited time!)


My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Thoughts:

Lexi is in between jobs...again! She's determined to find the perfect job to fit her dreams, and insists that she shouldn't have to settle. Though she's living with her parents until she can get her act together, she's feeling the rush to get out the door not only from her parents, but herself. When she meets a handsome French guy at an upscale bakery, things start looking up...maybe.

Since reading Sandra's "Ladies in Waiting" series, and one of her YA books, Asking for Trouble, I've been anxiously awaiting getting the chance at her French Twist series, too. I was thrilled to finally have the opportunity to dive into it. Let Them Eat Cake was actually the first book I read on my Kindle Fire that my sweet hubby bought me. :)(And I quickly followed with the next two books!)

I'm not typically the target audience for contemporary Christian books. Generally, I prefer to save my contemporaries for non-Christian stories. This is one of those few books that break through that barrier for me. It actually took me a little time to adjust to the contemporary writing style, since I've grown accustomed to Sandra's historical writing style. I did enjoy the lighter, fun side of this series, though! I'd forgotten just how much I enjoy a good story with international accents. Hearing the French accents throughout this book warmed my reading heart for sure.

While there's almost always a certain amount of predictability in Christian books, there's some aspects of this book that took me completely by surprise! I thought I knew how it would turn out from the beginning, but it didn't happen that way. Despite that fact that I don't mind a predictable story in the slightest way, I did find this refreshing(especially in the 2nd book).

Cooking plays a huge part of the storyline, so there's lots of talk of food. You know my mouth was watering for some French cooking! Unfortunately, I didn't get to enjoy any, because as much as I was inspired to do some "French" cooking, I'm constantly reminded I'm not an expert in the kitchen. (I'm still determined to make a decent loaf of bread someday). There are recipes sprinkled throughout all three books. Some of them actually look simple enough for me!

Overall, Let Them Eat Cake is a fun and cute story!

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


**************

 photo FinalButton1_zpsac14075d.jpg

Now for the best news! Through February 14th Let Them Eat Cake is FREE on Kindle. What a great Valentine's Day gift, right?! :) Plus, the next two books, Bon Appetit and Piece de Resistance are only .99 each!! (I'll be posting my thoughts on those later this week, Lord willing. I enjoyed the series more and more as it progressed!)

If you spread the word on Twitter, Facebook or your website you can enter here, to win a "sweet" prize -- delicious petits fours from Sandra Byrd and Divine Delights. US residents only. If those petits fours don't sound appealing, I assure you they will after you read Let Them Eat Cake!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Story Girl by Lucy Maud Montgomery

L. M. Montgomery Reading Challenge




My Thoughts:

I decided to read The Story Girl for a few reasons. First of all, it was free on Kindle. Secondly, I wanted something that was completely new to me, and lastly, I read that it was Montgomery's favorite of her works. After reading Carrie's post(from 2009) on this book, I realize that I probably shouldn't have based my reading on that little fact.

It wasn't until Annette mentioned that Montgomery is slow reading for her that I remembered the same for me last year as I read through Anne of Green Gables. I have to say, The Story Girl was even slower reading for me. I enjoyed the story well enough, but it's definitely not "edge of my seat, can't turn the pages fast enough" kind of reading. It's very "gentle" reading. Considering the fact that the Lucy Maud Montgomery Challenge has been over for a week already, and I'm just finishing up, gives you a clue of just how slow it was for me. :S

I was surprised to discover that the narrator of The Story Girl is a boy. I found this a little confusing at first, since his name is Beverley. I know several females named Beverley, but not a single male. Was that a common male name back then? I'm sure you see why I was confused at first, though. The strange thing about Bev's narration is that he doesn't refer to himself very often, or make himself the center of attention. He keeps the story's focus on his friends and relatives. I would be reading quite awhile when he finally refers to himself, and I'd think, "Oh, you're still here." It did make my reading experience a little strange, but still enjoyable.

The Story Girl is about a group of children that are friends or relatives. For the most part, it consists of several unrelated stories. There's some connection with many of them, but it was mostly just the varied days and adventures(and mischief) of a group of kids. A great deal of these adventures revolved around religion. These children had a great bit of bad theology in their minds, but it did make for some humorous reading. There were also quite a few stories from Sara(the Story Girl) sprinkled throughout the chapters. I thought these added a punch of fun to the story .

Sadly, I think my favorite part of the book was Paddy! He reminded me of McTavish, the barncat in Down the Mysterly River. I not only adored that book, but that cat, too.

"Paddy distinguished himself by catching a rat, and being intolerable conceited about it-until Sara Ray cured him by calling him a "dear, sweet cat," and kissing him between the ears. Then Pat sneaked off abjectly off, his tail dropping. He resented being called a sweet cat. He has a sense of humor, had Pat. Very few cats have; and most of them have such an inordinate appetite for flattery that they will swallow any amount of it and thrive thereon. Paddy had a finer taste. The Story Girl and I were the only ones who could pay him compliments to his liking. The Story Girl would box his ears with her fist and say, "Bless your gray heart, Paddy, you're a good sort of old rascal," and Pat would purr his satisfaction; I used to take a handful of the skin on his back, shake him gently and say, "Pat, you've forgotten more than any human being ever knew," and I vow Paddy would lick his chops with delight. But to be called "a sweet cat!" Oh, Sara, Sara!" (page 219-220)

This was only my second book of Montgomery's to read, but I don't think it will come close to making it on my favorites list. It was an enjoyable read, though!

Monday, February 4, 2013

A Few Clean Reads



Reached by Allie Condie

Dutton Juvenile (November 13, 2012)

My Rating: 4/4 stars
Source: Pre-ordered from Amazon

I'm still surprised that I ended up liking this whole series so much after not caring for the first book, Matched, all that much. In Reached, the chapters alternate between Cassia, Ky, and Xander. I really enjoyed all the different perspectives.

I can't say I liked everything that happens. I do wish that some things had ended up different, but overall, I was mostly satisfied. I typically like my endings tied up in a nice, tidy bow, and this one doesn't end that way. It worked for this series, though! I nice, tidy bow just wouldn't have worked, I don't think.

Content:

There's some mild profanity. Da** is used several times. Some kissing, but nothing more. Overall, very clean.



The Treachery of Beautiful Things by Ruth Long

Dial (August 16, 2012) 384 pages

My Rating: 4/5 stars
Source: Bought from Amazon

The cover drew me to this book, but now I've seen at least two other *new* book covers with the same girl, same dress, and same pose. That just drives me insane! ;P I do still like the cover, though.

The Treachery of Beautiful Things an old fashion kind of fairy tale. It's sweet, but just a tad bit creepy. Some of the characters seemed familiar enough that I suspected it was a re-telling of some sort. I did a bit of research and it seems that it's at least a partial re-telling of "A Midsummer Night's Dream". I'm not familiar with that story, so I can't say just how much of a re-telling it is. I'm guessing the "feature" story is on its own, and the secondary story is the re-telling. A few of the characters include Queen Tatiana, King Oberon, Queen Mab, and Puck. I'm assuming those of you who are familiar with "A Midsummer Night's Dream" will recognize those characters.

The ending was a bit rushed for my tastes. I do wish there were a few more details explained. Overall, I really enjoyed The Treachery of Beautiful Things. I'm looking forward to more from this author.


Content:
I don't think there was any profanity. I'm writing this up a couple of weeks after I read it. If there was any at all, it was very mild. God's name is used in vain a good bit. My G**, G** this, G** that. There's some violence, but it's pretty mild. I'm the wimp of all wimps when it comes to violence, and I was fine with it. It might be a little creepy for young readers, but otherwise, I'd say this is a great, clean read even for the younger tween audience!




Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Souce: E-book bought at Amazon

I was thrilled to discover that The Book of a Thousand Days has all Asian characters! I do like to go into most of the books I read not knowing very much. I like to know just enough to know it's clean and something I would enjoy. I'd heard from all over the place that this one was both clean and well loved. I didn't feel the need to read too much about it. I was surprised that it was absolutely nothing like what I expected! I enjoyed it, though.

The first half or so of the story was a little slow for my liking, but the second half made it worthwhile! I'd say it's fantasy, but VERY mild in that regard.

Content:

Some mild kissing and VERY mild violence. I'd say it's perfectly clean even for younger readers. There is pretty heavy talk of "gods" throughout the story and even praying to them. If that bothers you, then I wouldn't read this one.

As a side note on the whole "gods" issue: I used to really struggle with what I thought of reading books with "gods" in them. I grew past that issue, and for the most part it doesn't bother me anymore. No matter what "gods" are mentioned, despite the fact that they are fictional, I just keep in mind that God is above ALL! I still love the line in The Avengers that Captain America says when others are talking about Thor and Loki being "gods". "There's only one God, ma'am, and I'm pretty sure He doesn't dress like that." My favorite line ever AND one of my favorite movies ever! :)