Thursday, May 30, 2013

GIVEAWAY for Roses Have Thorns OR Belle on a Budget Necklace!!!!!!!!!!!




I have a special giveaway for you today! Y'all should already know how much I love the "Ladies in Waiting" Series by Sandra Byrd! Roses Have Thorns: A Novel of Elizabeth I was my favorite of the 3, though, and I'm thrilled that 2 of you have a chance at it now. These books are quite lovely on my keeper shelf and even more lovely in my hands. ;)

Here's my review if you missed it.

-The first winner chosen will get to pick between a final copy of Roses Have Thorns: A Novel of Elizabeth I OR a beautiful necklace made by the talented Christy of Belle on a Budget.

*SIMILAR* to this one.





-The second winner will receive an ARC of Roses Have Thorns.

My Giveaway Policy:

-U.S. only.

-You MUST be 13 years or older to enter!

-I'm not responsible for books or items that are lost or damaged in the mail.

-Winners will be picked randomly!

Good luck! :) (If you have problems entering, just let me know!)


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Once Upon a Prince by Rachel Hauck



Once Upon a Prince by Rachel Hauck

Zondervan (May 7, 2013) 352 pages

Description:

Once Upon a Prince, the first novel in the Royal Wedding series by bestselling author Rachel Hauck, treats you to a modern-day fairy tale.

Susanna Truitt never dreamed of a great romance or being treated like a princess---just to marry the man she has loved for twelve years. But life isn’t going according to plan. When her high-school-sweetheart-turned-Marine-officer breaks up instead of proposing, Susanna scrambles to rebuild her life.

The last thing Prince Nathaniel expects to find on his American holiday to St. Simon’s Island is the queen of his heart. A prince has duties, and his family’s tense political situation has chosen his bride for him. When Prince Nathaniel comes to Susanna’s aid under the fabled Lover’s Oak, he is blindsided by love.

Their lives are worlds apart. He’s a royal prince. She’s a ordinary girl. But everything changes when Susanna receives an invitation to Nathaniel’s coronation.

My Rating: 5/5 stars

My Thoughts:

If you've been around me in the blogosphere at all, then it's probably no surprise that I couldn't stay away from a book with that cover! It has to be one of the most gorgeous, fairy tale-ish covers I've ever seen! I think I would have had to keep it on my shelf, even if it ended up being horrible. Thankfully, that wasn't the case with Once Upon a Prince! The story is just as lovely as it's cover!

I've really been craving a great "princess" story lately! I've been thinking about re-reading The Princess in order to fulfill that craving. I even DVRed The Prince and Me, with hopes of getting to re-watch it at some point. I'm thrilled that this adorable story satisfied my craving. Susanna and Nate's is just about as sweet as you can get, and they both made me smile throughout their story.

Nate and Susanna's story was made even better by an amazing group of secondary characters. Aurora was especially interesting. She added a mysterious vibe and a fun touch to the reading experience. I would have loved to have seen more of her. She was sort of like a Fairy Godmother, which makes me love this book even more. ;) Susanna's family is the Southern experience at its best. You can't help but love them.

Overall, I adored Once Upon a Prince, and it's going straight to my keeper shelf. This is now the second book of Hauck's that I've loved, so I'm promptly adding her other books to my reading list!

*I was provided a review copy from Zondervan through Litfuse Publicity in exchange for my honest opinion.

Rachel Hauck is celebrating the release of Once Upon a Prince with a fun "Royal Wedding" Giveaway and connecting with readers at her May 28th Facebook Party.



PrinceHauck300



One "royal" winner will receive:


  • A Kindle Fire
  • Once Upon a Prince by Rachel Hauck
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on May 27th. Winner will be announced at the "Once Upon a Prince" Facebook Author Chat Party on May 28th. Connect with Rachel for an evening of book chat, wedding trivia, laughter, and more! Rachel will also be sharing a sneak peek at the next book in the series and giving away books and fun gift certificates throughout the evening.



So grab your copy of Once Upon a Prince and join Rachel on the evening of May 28th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 28th!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Love's Miracles by Sandra Leesmith(PLUS FREEBIE TODAY ONLY!!!!!!)



Love's Miracles by Sandra Leesmith (FREE THROUGH TODAY-MAY 27th ON KINDLE!!!!!!!!)

May 15th, 2013

Description:

Dr. Margo Devaull came to Dominic Zanelli's mountain retreat confident that she could help this Vietnam veteran overcome the torment that kept him apart from the world. But her training as a psychologist had not prepared her for the tragic, explosive contradictions brewing inside him. For here was a sensitive artist who could be gentle – and a man whose eyes flashed with violence and pain when he told her to leave and never come back. Yet Margo did come back, slowly gain his trust, and awaken the sleeping needs of his heart. Only by reliving her own wounded past and helping Zane confront a terrible memory from the war could she set them both free – and save their last chance for love.

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Thoughts:

This was a huge leap from my typical read! I don't tend to read "war" related books, because they're generally more "gritty" in nature. I thought it fitting to read Love's Miracles in remembrance of Memorial Day, though. After all, it's not "National Bar-B-Que" Day! Not only does the wars affect these soldiers long after it's over, but it also affects those that love them long after, too.

Sandra did an amazing job of bringing the world of war-related PTSD to the pages of this book! Dominic(Zane) has flashbacks of when he fought in the Vietnam war in Love's Miracles, and they aren't always easy to read! It's actually quite painful to think of what our soldiers go through for us! It put me in a more grateful state of mind today.

Love's Miracles takes place in the 1980s. I found that an interesting aspect to the story. It's not too often that I escape to that time period, other than my childhood memories. ;) The descriptions of the clothing that is worn makes it the most obvious. Otherwise, you wouldn't really know you'd stepped back 25-30 years ago. I couldn't help but smile thinking about how much clothing choices have changed since then.

Just a word of warning, this is NOT a Christian book. It has been edited and reprinted as a "generally clean romance", but it's still pretty passionate(without going too far) at times. There's also a few words of mild profanity. It's kind of like an "edgy" Christian book, so don't let that deter you! (Sandra explains a bit more in the comments as far as content goes, so read that explanation).

Overall, while it wasn't *always* pleasant to read, I enjoyed escaping into it's pages, and I'm glad my mind was reminded of what today is all about!

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


Don't forget to grab your FREE copy TODAY ONLY!!!!!

Love's Miracles



Enter to win:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Bloglovin

As I'm sure all of you know, Google Reader will soon disappear. I moved all of the blogs I follow over to Bloglovin. I'm not too great with change, so while I'm not thrilled with it at the moment, I'll adjust. Eventually!

I'm not positive all my blogs transferred over. I have all of the blogs I regularly check up on in a special folder to make sure I see them. Only two of those transferred in that folder, so I'm still trying to figure out how to get blogs in their proper folders. :S

I have to post this link to claim my blog, so here it is....

Follow my blog with Bloglovin




I hope all of you are enjoying your Sunday! :) I'm finishing up 2 books that I post about tomorrow. I'm really enjoying them both so far! Back to reading now while the boys are napping/occupied.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Emma Dilemma Series



Emma Dilemma and the New Nanny

My Rating: 3/5 stars

My Thoughts:

Emma's family has 5 children. The father is a pilot and the mom works a lot. They can't seem to keep nannies, due to the mom firing them all. Annie, the new Irish nanny, comes along, and the kids fall in love with her.

It's obvious that lessons are to be taken away from these books. I just didn't like the lessons I took away from them. (I am an adult, though!) I'll let you know now that while I had hesitations with this book, it's the next one in the series that caused me more alarm.

SPOILERS!!!!

Emma lies a lot! At the start of the book, she wants to take her pet ferret to school. She comes up with a plan to sneak him out of the house, so she's not technically lying to her mom. When her mom starts asking questions, though, she flat out lies to her. THEN, Annie helps her sneak the ferret out anyway! When the ferret ends up biting a boy at school, the mom finds out anyway. Emma gets grounded for a week, but according to her, it's not so bad. Great lesson learned, huh?!

Although sweet, Annie is a very irresponsible nanny. I couldn't imagine keeping her as a nanny to my precious children after everything she hides from the mom. But they do keep her, despite all the other nannies not being good enough.

END SPOILERS

While this particular one isn't horrible, there's better reading options, in my opinion.


Emma Dilemma and the Two Nannies


My Rating: 2/5 stars

My Thoughts:

In this title, Emma's behavior gets worse! Now don't get me wrong. I don't think a book character has to be perfect in middle grade books, but Emma is not a good role model in the slightest kind of way. Her parents aren't either! Emma has some major lying/stealing problems, and once again, I just don't think she's learning her lesson. Too many things are hidden from the parents with the help of Annie, too. I know kids will hide things from their parents. Mine will! These characters just lie and scheme too much, though.

The parents! I was annoyed toward the end that they were portrayed as terrified out of their minds at the thought of having to take care of their own children ALL BY THEMSELVES...for 3 WHOLE weeks. The horror! :P

Plus, this part made me furious.....

There is a girl in class crying and telling the teacher about being bullied. This is what Emma has to say as she attempts to hide her smile...

"And then they got into the Big Talk about bullying. Bullying was the main topic in school these days, and Emma thought it was silly. If someone made fun of you, you got even, that is all. There were all sorts of ways to do that. And if someone punched you, you punched them back. Big deal."

What a message for young minds! Bullying is funny. If only bullying were so simple, too!

This series could have been cute and it had potential, but I just can't recommend it.

*I was provided a review copy of both books through Amazon Vine in exchange for my honest opinion.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Vine Basket by Josanne La Valley



The Vine Basket by Josanne La Valley

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Thoughts:

Mehrigul is a Uyghur(WEEgur) girl. She lives in a place where young girls are sent to work in factories if they don't attend school. When those girls are needed at home just to make end's meet, their families are put in a tough spot. When Mehrigul's brother leaves home, she is forced to stay at home to help her family. Now Mehrigul is in danger of being sent away to the factories, though.

While at the market with her father, an American lady spots her plain, useless grapevine basket, and pays Mehrigul far more than she would possibly expect. Even more amazing to Mehrigul is that she offers to buy more when she comes back in three weeks. Can Mehrigul find the time and bravery to make those baskets?

It was hard for my mind to wrap around the fact that this book is set in modern times, not historical. It was eye opening to me that such issues(and worse) take place miles away from me RIGHT NOW! I also never really understood why some people refuse to buy items "Made in China". (Yes, I'm pretty sheltered!) I understand now. It's *not* because it's made overseas. It's because these innocent young girls are forced away from home to make these cheap little items in factories. It's opened my eyes to the way I will shop from now on. Now beautiful items like the baskets made to help one's family, that's another story!

Mehrigul's parents throughout the story aren't the best of role models. Since her brother left home, her mother and father have sunk into deep depressions. Her father is an alcoholic and gambles money away that should be spent on food and debt. Her mother can barely function at times due to her depression, and she relies on a special tea to help her sleep. I just wanted to smack them upside the head quite frequently! At the same time, she is also surrounded by wonderful people that love her. Her grandfather was so wonderful, you can't help but want to hug him. He's so graceful and sweet, it will bring tears to your eyes. La Valley actually has such a beautiful way with words, that she will bring tears to your eyes quite frequently. She had an amazing way of bringing her characters right off the pages.

Mehrigul has an outstanding journey with her struggles not only making the baskets, but taking on a role in her family she isn't supposed to have to take. She also struggles with her family's rapid loss of status, and the teasing and disrespect that comes with it. She is an amazing and strong character. She sometimes had a hard time keeping her place. Even if I didn't agree with her low status as a woman, that is her land's traditions. She tries to make things right, though, and for that I think she is an excellent role model for any young lady.

Overall, I highly recommend The Vine Basket, both for the amazing characters it contains, and the educational experience it provides.

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

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Twerp by Mark Goldblatt



Random House Books for Young Readers (May 28, 2013) 288 pages

My Rating: 5/5 stars

My Thoughts:

Twerp is written in the form of short stories(diary entries) by 12 year old Julian Twerski. His teacher, Mr. Selkirk, made a deal that he could get out of some other assignments if he wrote these stories. It's so easy to imagine Mr. Selkirk sitting behind his desk chuckling away at these things, too! The whole book comes into existence because of some bullying event that Julian was involved in, and an attempt to find out just what did happen.

Twerp mainly consists of the mischief and adventures of a group of young guys. It takes place in the 1960s, so it's in a time when television and electronics weren't so much in the picture. I'm a bit more scared about the fact that I have 3 boys so close together. Lots of mischief potential!! At first, the stories don't seem to overly connect, but they start to pretty quickly. There's hints from the very beginning of the bullying event, but it's not until the last chapter that we have that story. At times, it was too easy to forget the reason for the writing assignment. I was just so caught up in the life of this group of kids!

It reminded me throughout the whole story of the movie, The Sandlot. That's always been one of my favorite movies, so it's no wonder I couldn't seem to stop turning the pages. I read this at record speed for me these days. The last chapter left me in tears, but I still wish that game of "battle" was played! I'm still a little disturbed at just what happened, too. It was pretty impacting!


My biggest complaint is some of the "guy talk" about a certain body part they have. There's an accident where a guy falls on a fence split legged. It refers to the "area" hurt and even mentions that he shouldn't be looking at a girl or something will happen that shouldn't with his "area" in that condition. (Is that vague AND clear enough? If you want more details, I'll be glad to give them to you.) As far as girls go, be prepared to explain if she's somewhat sheltered. If she goes to public school, she's already knows! ;) There's also mention of a mom sunning with her bikini on. Honestly, it depends on how conservative you are whether or not this would bother you. I'm pretty conservative in this area, and want to go to any lengths possible to keep my sons' minds pure. I don't think these things will help them with that goal. That said, you'll easily see much worse on a family channel commercial break! I hope I've explained that well enough. I wouldn't want to recommend a book, and then you be so surprised, you never take my advice again. ;)

Other than the warnings I've given, I HIGHLY recommend Twerp! There's a note from the author at the end that I wish I could quote. Since I read an e-ARC, I can't. It made me smile, though. I'm glad he has been talked into changing his writing ways! I'll be picking up his future books as quickly as I can.

*I was provided an e-ARC through the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

Monday, May 6, 2013

My Reading Suggestions for Young People

Annette @ This Simple Home has asked a few bloggers to put together lists of reading suggestions for the younger generation. You can keep a check at her blog for a list of other participants' lists. I'm looking forward to seeing them all AND pinning them! :)


***As someone who really needs to challenge my reading more, I feel a little unqualified to be making this list. ;) Just keep in mind that *most* of my suggestions are probably more for fun as opposed to challenging a reader(some exceptions!). I DO think several of these have more value than the average read, though.

**Also, please excuse the lack of pictures. I've had computer issues and now I'm attempting catch-up. That many pictures would just take forever. :S

Younger readers:

*gender neutral unless otherwise stated

The Mysterious Benedict Society Series by Trenton Lee Stewart(I've only read the first one so far, but the others have came highly recommended to me, too)

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (I'm about halfway through, but I'm going to include it anyway)

Tomorrow Girls: Behind the Gates by Eva Grey (I only read the first one, but enjoyed it as a light middle grade dystopian, for the girls)

The Owl Keeper by Christine Brodien-Jones

Pie by Sara Weeks(a cute little mystery set in the 1950s)

The Betsy-Tacy Treasury: The First Four Betsy-Tacy Books (P.S.)(first four books are gender neutral, in my opinion)

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale(for the girls, a little bit of romance in this one)

The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic by Jennifer Trafton

The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson(I've only read the third one)

Under A Fairy Moon by T.M. Wallace

Grandma's Attic Series by Arleta Richardson

The Friendship Doll by Kirby Larson


***The rest of these are generally for the girls.

Tween/Teen:

Emily of Deep Valley by Maud Hart Lovelace

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Christy by Catherine Marshall *It's been years since I've read this one! It was recommended by my grandmother, and I remember loving it. I *think* I recall there being more romance in this one and maybe even discussion of a past rape(although not in great detail). I really need to re-read it.

Mitford Seriesby Jan Karon

Wildwood Dancingby Juliet Marillier

Entwined by Heather Dixon

East by Edith Pattou

Tales of Goldstone Wood Series by Anne Elisabeth Stengl (gender neutral)

Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale

Non-Fiction:

These are more or less books that have had the greatest impact on me, and are great for all ages and situations. I don't necessarily agree with all the views of Biblical teaching in here. That's the great thing about recommending these kinds of books to a daughter(if I had one). Lord willing, I would be there to discuss any questions she had(just like Jonathan and I will do with the boys). If YOU take these suggestions and have any questions, I'll be glad to have those discussion with you, too! :)

Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

She's Got Issues: Seriously Good News for Stressed-Out, Secretly Scared Control Freaks Like Us by Nicole Unice

Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books by Tony Reinke(I need to re-read this one sooner, rather than later)

Pursuing Peace: A Christian Guide to Handling Our Conflicts Robert D. Jones

Almost Amish: One Woman's Quest for a Slower, Simpler, More Sustainable Life by Nancy Sleeth

Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food by Lysa Terkuerst

Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions by Lisa Terkuerst

Bible Study Books:

These are written by people more in line with what I believe the Bible teaches. Again, I'll be glad to have discussions with you if you have any questions! :)

Anything by Don McWhorter and/or Jane McWhorter(Mrs. Jane recently passed on to her reward. I cry as I write that because I miss her so, but I'm thrilled that she is with the Lord and with Brother Don. They were such a wonderful Christian couple who are *still* impacting lives with theirs).
*A few favorites: She Hath Done What She Could, Friendship: Handle With Care, Special Delivery: A Course in Letter-Writing, Roses in December: Why God Gave Us Memory, We Bow Down(several women wrote this one)

Anything by Cindy Colley
*Women of Deliverance, Women of the Genesis

Because I Said So by Celine Sparks(A love to read this lady's work! She is effortlessly hilarious!)

Happy Anyway! by Jo Ann Mills

Evangelistic Women A Study Of Women's Ministries by Pamela Stewart

My Sister's Keeper by Kerry Duke

The Begging Place by Becky Fowler Blackmon

The Six Gifts of Hospitality by Laurel s. Sewell

Come to the Garden by Teresa Hampton

From Vultures to Hummingbirds (6 Attitudes to Eliminate...7 attitudes to cultivate) by Mary Alice Wilhelm

Easing Life's Hurts by Jack Wilhelm and Bill Bagents

*I really need to get back in some of these books soon!!