Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Price of Victory by Sandra Leesmith




In celebration of Sandra's newest release, Love's Refuge, I decided to read The Price of Victory. I'd got it on my kindle earlier this year, and I figured there was no better time than now to crack open its pages. I meant to get it up earlier in the tour, but here it is on the last day. Sorry, y'all!

Don't forget to grab your copy of Love's Refuge while it's only .99 during the blog tour. TODAY is the last day of this sale!!!!!!



The Price of Victory by Sandra Leesmith

Montlake Romance (June 3, 2011) 192 pages

Description:

Sterling Wade, a successful professional cyclist, finds the one thing he's missing in life is a woman to love. But Debra Valenzuela refuses to allow a relationship with any man to interfere with her determination to become a professional cyclist.
When Debra is seriously injured during a race, her ambition and wish to succeed and win her father's love are put to the test. With Sterling at her side during her rehabilitation, Debra learns that love is not a race to be won, but something to be earned. Can Sterling help Debra follow her dream and in the process discover new purpose for his own life? Will they accept the price of victory?

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Thoughts:

Just like Love's Refuge, I found this story a relaxing one. This time of year is my favorite, but I always crave lighter, relaxing reads as far as fiction goes. (I tend to crave non-fiction more than ever, too, judging by my reading stack this coming month.) The Price of Victory proved to be a perfect story to balance the stress of the season. It would make an even better "beach read", since it takes place during the hot months.

This is now the third book of Sandra's I've read, and I actually think it may have been my favorite. Love's Miracles was a little dark and edgy. Love's Refuge and The Price of Victory have both been light reads, with a touch of "sweet and sappiness", which was just what I wanted right now. I love that Sandra's books have all taught me something in the midst of the story, too. With this particular story, I learned more than I ever knew(which was nothing, unfortunately) about women's cycling. It was pretty interesting to pull my thoughts into that world for a bit. I also loved that a little ethnicity was thrown into the mix of this story!

I found The Price of Victory to be a quick, light read, with a sweet dose of romance.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!!!



(photo credit)


Happy Thanksgiving, Y'all!!!


I hope you're all enjoying time with your families!

Don't forget to pray about those who are away from their families in order to keep us safe. A huge "Thank You" to all of those in the military, healthcare workers(doctors, nurses, paramedics), firemen/women, police officers, and anyone at all who is away from their families in order to serve and protect us! I appreciate you all!!!

Please remember those who are lonely and grieving in prayer, too! This is an especially hard season for many out there, and I'm sure they'd appreciate your prayers!


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

Now, if you're still in the mood for a little cooking......

And, you're craving something sweet, yet different, I have to recommend you give these Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies a try! I'm typically a chocolate girl, but these are pretty awesome! They're very rich, so thankfully they freeze well.


If you need a recipe to use up some of that leftover turkey, this "Best-Ever Homemade Chicken Pot Pie" recipe is delicious. For us, it was a new twist on the old fashioned pot pie, using parsley and parmesan cheese in the crust. The filling consists of sweet potatoes, broccoli, sage, and a few other things. Even better, it was easy to adapt to both the vegetarian in the house AND the meat eaters. Mine was a bit more "liquid-y", but still delicious!

I forgot to pin that recipe before using it and almost never found it again. Now, I have it in two places. ;)

Both of those recipes are new keepers for us AND perfect for the season!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Until That Distant Day by Jill Stengl Cover Reveal(With Giveaway!)

If you've been around here long, you probably know I'm a huge fan of Anne Elisabeth Stengl's talents! Today, I'm thrilled to be a part of the cover reveal for Jill Stengl's (Anne Elisabeth's mother) newest book, Until That Distant Day. This is Jill's first book in 7 years, and I'm looking very much forward to reading it!!






Paris, France
1792

Colette DeMer and her brother Pascoe are two sides of the same coin, dependent upon one another in the tumultuous world of the new Republic. Together they labor with other leaders of the sans-culottes to ensure freedom for all the downtrodden men and women of France.

But then the popular uprisings turn bloody and the rhetoric proves false. Suddenly, Colette finds herself at odds with Pascoe and struggling to unite her fractured family against the lure of violence. Charged with protecting an innocent young woman and desperately afraid of losing one of her beloved brothers, Colette doesn’t know where to turn or whom to trust as the bloodshed creeps ever closer to home.
Until that distant day when peace returns to France, can she find the strength to defend her loved ones . . . even from one another?

Coming April 25, 2014

From Rooglewood Press


EXCERPT FROM THE STORY:

Until That Distant Day
Opening of Chapter 1
I was born believing that the world was unfair and that I was the person to make it right.
One of my earliest memories is of Papa setting me atop a nail keg in the forge; I could not have been older than two at the time.
“Colette, give Papa a kiss,” he said, tapping his cheek.
“Why?”
“Come and sit on my knee.”
“Why?”
My response to every order was the same, asked with genuine curiosity. I did not understand why his watching friends chuckled. Why should I press my lips to Papa’s sweaty, prickly cheek? Why should I hop down from the keg, where he had just placed me, and run to sit on his knee, a most uncomfortable perch? I felt justified in requesting a reason for each abrupt order, yet he never bothered to give me one.
Mama, when thus questioned, provided an answer in the form of a sharp swat. This I could respect as definitive authority, although the reasoning behind it remained dubious.
My little brother Pascoe was born believing that the world was his to command. As soon as he acquired his first vocabulary word, “No,” he and I joined ranks in defiance of established authority.
Many impediments cluttered the path of destiny in those early years: parents, thirteen other siblings, physical ailments, and educational difficulties. And as we grew into adulthood, more serious matters intervened, even parting us for a time. But I will speak more of that later. For now, let me assure you that, no matter the obstacles thrown in our way, our sibling bond seemed indissoluble; the love between us remained unaffected by any outside relationship.
Pascoe and I were young adults when revolutionaries in Paris threw aside the tyranny of centuries and established a new government based on the Rights of Man. From the seclusion of our little village in Normandy we rejoiced over each battle fought and won; and when our local physician, Doctor Hilliard, who had first mentored then employed Pascoe for several years, was elected as deputy to the National Assembly from our district, a whole new world opened at our feet.
My story truly begins on a certain day in the spring of 1792, in the little domain I had made for myself in the kitchen at the back of Doctor Hilliard’s Paris house. Perhaps it wasn’t truly my domain, for it did not belong to me. I was merely the doctor’s housekeeper and could lay no real claim. Nevertheless, the kitchen was more mine than anything had ever been, and I loved that small, dark room; especially during the hours when sunlight slanted through the bubbled-glass kitchen windows, making bright, swirling shapes on the whitewashed walls, or each evening when I arranged my latest culinary creation on a platter and left it in the warming oven for the doctor to discover whenever he arrived home. That kitchen was my home. Not the home I had grown up in, but the home I had always craved.
On that particular day, however, it did not feel the safe haven I had always believed it to be. Loud voices drifted down from the upper floor where the doctor and Pascoe were in conference, disturbing my calm. When I closed the connecting door to the dining room, the angry voices drifted in through the open kitchen windows. I couldn’t close the windows; I might smother of heat. Yet I needed to block out the sound, to make it stop.
So I slipped a filet of sole into a greased skillet and let it brown until golden on both sides. The hiss and sizzle did not quite cover the shouting, but it helped. Then I slid the fish onto a waiting plate lined with sautéed vegetables fresh from my kitchen garden; and I topped all with an herbed wine-and-butter sauce. A grind of fresh pepper finished off my creation.
But my hands were still trembling, and I felt as if something inside me might fall to pieces.
Pascoe often shouted. Shouting was part of his fiery nature, a normal event. He shouted when he gave speeches at section meetings. He shouted about overcooked meals or inferior wines. He shouted when his lace jabot refused to fall into perfect folds.
But never before had I heard Doctor Hilliard raise his voice in anger.
Doctor Hilliard was never angry. Doctor Hilliard never displayed emotion. At most, he might indicate approval by the glance of a benevolent eye or disapprobation by the merest lift of a brow. Yet there could be no mistaking the two furious voices overhead. I well knew Pascoe’s sharp tenor with its sarcastic edge; but now I also heard the doctor’s resonant voice crackling with fury.
I managed to slide the hot plate into the warmer alongside a crusty loaf of bread and closed the door, using a doubled towel to protect my shaking hands.
Behind me the connecting door was flung open, and Pascoe burst in as I spun to face him. “Gather your things; we are leaving,” he growled. His eyes blazed in his pale face, and the jut of his jaw allowed for no questions. He clapped his tall hat on his head as he passed through the room.
I donned my bonnet and sabots and picked up my parasol. “What has happened?” I asked just above a whisper.
“I’ll tell you once we are away from this house.” His lips snapped tight. His chest heaved with emotion, and he grasped a portfolio so tightly that his fingers looked white.
I could not recall the last time I had seen my brother in such a rage.

____________




AUTHOR BIO:

Jill Stengl is the author of numerous romance novels including Inspirational Reader's Choice Award- and Carol Award-winning Faithful Traitor, and the bestselling novella, Fresh Highland Heir. She lives with her husband in the beautiful Northwoods of Wisconsin, where she enjoys her three cats, teaching a high school English Lit. class, playing keyboard for her church family, and sipping coffee on the deck as she brainstorms for her next novel.


GIVEAWAY:

Jill is offering an enormous bundle prize of ten print novels and novellas, including her award-winning Faithful Traitor, several novella collections, and her three-book Longtree series. These will all be autographed! (US and Canada only, please.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway




http://untilthatdistantdaynovel.blogspot.com/

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Love's Refuge by Sandra Leesmith




Love's Refuge by Sandra Leesmith

Love's Refuge is temporarily on sale for only .99 in celebration of the tour!!!! Grab it while it's on sale! (Check price before buying, particularly if you're reading this much later than the post date).

Description:

Skye Larsen loves her peaceful life on Leeza Island in Puget Sound – the tranquility, the friendly neighbors, and especially the safety from big-city dangers. So when cruel pranks start to escalate and changes threaten to overtake the island, Skye is determined to fight for her haven. The presence of a handsome vacationer and the unexpected feelings he awakens can’t distract her from her goal.

Danny Fraser doesn’t realize how desperately he needs a rest until he meets Skye. By allowing him to glimpse her simple way of life, she helps him reorient his priorities – and steals his heart in the process. But his work and home in Seattle keep Skye at bay.

An isolated island girl with painful memories. A dedicated city boy with a wild past. What will it cost for them both to find a refuge from their storms?

Amber Press (November 9, 2013) 321 pages

My Rating: 4 stars

My Thoughts:

Love's Refuge is one of those books I could easily see as a Hallmark movie. It's sweet and a little sappy at times, but still filled with pain and healing. Reading this book was so cozy, I just wanted to curl up on the couch and watch a sweet movie after finishing. But alas, with 3 little ones and a football loving hubby, the TV was not mine to watch. ;)

I related all too well to Skye's struggle to deal with the public. Her issues were due more to a traumatic past, and thankfully, I did *not* relate to that. I DO struggle with social phobia daily, though. It would be all too easy to hide away on an island with very few people, like Skye. The longer I'm away from the public, the harder it is to enter back. Skye has spent so long hiding away that her entries into the real world was a hard and slow process. I also understood all too well her realization of just how patient Danny was with her. It's only through God that Jonathan was/IS patient with me and my oddities. I understood her feelings of thinking Danny deserved and could do better when Skye's oddities were coming into play full force.

Despite the many issues happening around Skye, I still found this a relaxing read. The island that Skye lives on sounded like such a peaceful environment! With my chaotic life, I couldn't help but desire a tiny bit of that peace.

Overall, this is a sweet read! I enjoyed it!

*I was provided an e-copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

**Stay tuned for my review of The Price of Victory, also by Sandra, later this week!!






Sandra is giving away a KINDLE during her tour for Love's Refuge. Even better, it's loaded with her books! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Burning Sky by Lori Benton



Burning Sky by Lori Benton

WaterBrook Press (August 6, 2013) 416 pages

Description:

"I remember the borders of our land, though I have been gone from them nearly half the moons of my life. But who there will remember me? What I have seen, what I have done, it has changed me.

I am the place where two rivers meet, silted with upheaval and loss.

Yet memory of our land is a clear stream. I shall know it as a mother knows the faces of her children. It may be I will find me there.“

Abducted by Mohawk Indians at fourteen and renamed Burning Sky, Willa Obenchain is driven to return to her family’s New York frontier homestead after many years building a life with the People. At the boundary of her father’s property, Willa discovers a wounded Scotsman lying in her path. Feeling obliged to nurse his injuries, the two quickly find much has changed during her twelve-year absence—her childhood home is in disrepair, her missing parents are rumored to be Tories, and the young Richard Waring she once admired is now grown into a man twisted by the horrors of war and claiming ownership of the Obenchain land.

When her Mohawk brother arrives and questions her place in the white world, the cultural divide blurs Willa’s vision. Can she follow Tames-His-Horse back to the People now that she is no longer Burning Sky? And what about Neil MacGregor, the kind and loyal botanist who does not fit into in her plan for a solitary life, yet is now helping her revive her farm? In the aftermath of the Revolutionary War, strong feelings against “savages” abound in the nearby village of Shiloh, leaving Willa’s safety unsure.

Willa is a woman caught between two worlds. As tensions rise, challenging her shielded heart, the woman called Burning Sky must find a new courage--the courage to again risk embracing the blessings the Almighty wants to bestow. Is she brave enough to love again?

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars

My Thoughts:

The Native American aspect of this book is what pulled my interest its way. I didn't know much about the plot before I began reading other than that. I was slightly disappointed that there wasn't more to the Native American aspect. There are a few main characters that are Native American, and a couple background characters that are so, but we don't get to see the true Native American lifestyle within its pages. There are references to certain traditions and customs made, though, which I enjoyed.

All of that said, my disappointment with anything in relation to this book was very slight! This is a beautiful novel! It was very different that what I expected, but still a gorgeous story. There IS a love triangle within this book. I know some people hate those things, but as long as the triangle consists of 2 worthy "opponents", I love a good love triangle included in a book. It keeps me guessing and breaks up the predictability of the story. The two men vying for Willa's affections couldn't have been more worthy! As always, I was also disappointed that my pick didn't win. My pick in a love triangle almost *never* wins. ;) Willa still gets a great guy, though!

While the romance IS a big part of this story, there's so much more going on. It's not a "light and fluffy" read by any stretch. There's hate and evilness and violence that Willa(and others) have to deal with. There's a great deal of side stories happening alongside Willa's story. Her childhood, and now adult friend, Anni, is expecting. She's worried! There's Francis, Anni's brother, that has many secrets, but can't express himself the way others would expect. Then there's Richard, the young man that Willa would have married if not kidnapped. The war and violence he's seen since Willa's parting has changed him, but everyone is having a hard time accepting that change.

If you're looking for a light and fluffy romance, you won't find it within these pages. If you're looking for a complex story full of healing and forgiveness, with a side of romance, then this might just be a great pick for you. I give it a highly recommended!


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

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Goddess Tithe by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

First of all, I'm having computer problems at the moment. **I'm not ignoring comments!** I'm currently using Jonathan's computer, and for some reason, it won't let me comment on my own blog. It actually won't let me do many things, or I should say, I don't know how to make it do what I want. It's very different from mine. :S I'm trying to use my kindle for commenting some, but I haven't completely learned my way around using it for purposes other than reading. I'm working on getting my computer fixed, hopefully soon! Sorry, y'all!!




Goddess Tithe (Tales of Goldstone Wood) by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

Through November 14th, the kindle version of Goddess Tithe is only .99!!!! Make sure you grab yours!

The Vengeful Goddess

Demands Her Tithe

When a stowaway is discovered aboard the merchant ship Kulap Kanya, Munny, a cabin boy on his first voyage, knows what must be done. All stowaways are sacrificed to Risafeth, the evil goddess of the sea. Such is her right, and the Kulap Kanya's only hope to return safely home.

Yet, to the horror of his crew, Captain Sunan vows to protect the stowaway, a foreigner in clown's garb. A curse falls upon the ship and all who sail with her, for Risafeth will stop at nothing to claim her tithe.

Will Munny find the courage to trust his captain and to protect the strange clown who has become his friend?
My Thoughts:

I'm thrilled I was able to enter into the land of Goldstone Wood once again! It's a land I always miss, and look forward to revisiting. The adventures never end in this land, and I never know what will happen next.

Goddess Tithe takes place within the book Veiled Rose. One of the characters, Leonard, travels in that book, but we don't see all of the adventures his traveling involved. In Goddess Tithe, we see what took place while he was on Kulap Kanya. The story is told through the eyes of a young man named Munny.

Goddess Tithe is a novella, with about 130 pages. I hate to be negative, however slight, in any way towards any book in The Goldstone series. I truly *adore* these books! I have every one of them, except this one(soon, though, Lord willing)sitting on my bookshelf, and if I ever found myself without my books for whatever reason, these would be first in line for replacements. They are all absolute favorites of mine! That said, I struggled a bit through this book. It didn't hold my attention as these books usually do, and the writing seemed different. Don't get me wrong. I DID still enjoy it, just not as much as I would have expected. I'm sure that's my own fault. Life in my household seems especially chaotic right now, and I'm sure that affected my reading. Plus, I almost never enjoy novellas quite as much as a full book, although I DO still enjoy them. And! I've been spoiled with my favorite character, Eanrin, being in the other books, and he's not in this one. ;)

Goddess Tithe is also the author's first illustrated book. Getting to see her drawing talent alongside her writing was such a pleasure!

Goddess Tithe is on sale through the end of today for only .99! I want you to grab it! I can't imagine you'd have any regrets about it. At the same time, I want to ask you not to let this be your introduction into the series. It's still a beautiful story, but I do think you'd appreciate the whole series more if you read them in order. Of course, I don't think it would hurt if you only read Heartless and Veiled Rose before picking this one up.

*I was provided an e-copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Bible and Prayers for Teddy and Me



Bible and Prayers for Teddy and Me


My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Thoughts:

This is a precious little book for babies! It's a perfect baby shower type of book(*see my note below, though). The stories and prayers are told in the simplest of forms, and you can't help but think about snuggling with your little ones before bedtime.

Firefly(2) was especially drawn to this book. The pictures are sweet, and teddy bears are all throughout. There are 14 different story/prayer combinations. The stories are each spread across 3 pages, and then the fourth page is a little prayer/poem.

"God, who made the earth,
The air, the sky, the sea,
Who gave the light its birth,
Careth for me.

God, who made the grass,
The flower, the fruit, the tree,
The day and night to pass,
Careth for me.

God, who made all things,
On earth, in air, in sea,
Who changing seasons brings,
Careth for me."

*The story of Jesus' birth and resurrection is referred to as Christmas and Easter. Since my family doesn't celebrate these events as holidays, I will skip these. (We DO think these events are important! I remember Jesus' resurrection every week with The Lord's Supper. We also DO celebrate Christmas and Easter, just not as religious holidays.)If you know someone else that doesn't celebrate those holidays as religious events, this might not be the best book choice for them.

Otherwise, this is a precious little book. There's also the choice for a pink version for girls(Bible and Prayers for Teddy and Me (Pink edition))

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

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator



Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator


My Rating: 5/5 stars

My Thoughts:

It's been several weeks since I've read these books, but it's also been awhile since my last post, so I figure it's time for some review catch up! I DO have quite a few headed your way!

I knew that this book was actually the sequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I HAD to read it first, though. It was calling my name so strongly, I just couldn't seem to keep myself from it. After reading Carrie's review, I had *high* hopes for this book! (Plus, I knew the story of Charlie's adventure at the Chocolate Factory from the movies, so I didn't feel like I'd be missing information.)I am always on the lookout for the next book to add to my "wonderfully weird" list of books/authors. It's such a small list, and they're my favorites!

I was not disappointed! At all! I can officially add this book to my "wonderfully weird" list, and that just makes me happy. :D

I couldn't stop smiling while reading, except when I was laughing. I have somewhat of a childish sense of humor. I also find dry humor exceptionally funny. Roald seems to mix the two beautifully.

*I should clarify on the child humor. I despise the tendency to resort to such things as boogers and poo and talking dead rats(talking to you, Wayside Stories!)and such in an effort to make a child laugh. Those things lose me quick! (That said, I'm a mommy of 3 little boys. There's always stories of "poo" that I'll look back on with humor.) ;) Roald seems to avoid the "bodily humor" that I hate(at least in the 3 books I've read), which I greatly appreciate. Even so, he's still hilarious, and I think children will find his writing especially appealing.

My cousin asked recently for something to cheer her up, and I had to recommend this book. It IS simply ridiculous! Absolute nonsense! I'll do the same for you. Do you need a little cheering up? Read this book!

But!

As you read it, it's important to keep in mind the words of Mr. Willy Wonka(Roald Dahl).

"A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men."




Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Thoughts:

As you may already know if you've been around here long, I'm a huge fan of Tim Burton! I'm drawn to reading things that he's drawn to, and obviously he felt a connection with Roald Dahl's writing. Now I can say that they are BOTH "wonderfully weird"(their writing/directing/etc talents, anyway)in my book! After reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, I think Burton did an amazing job of *mostly* staying true to the book, except for the Willy Wonka childhood flashbacks. Admittedly, even I found this odd, and would have preferred the movie without it. What I remember of the older version, I don't think it stayed true to the book at all.

I'm a HUGE fan of the Burton movie version of this book, either way. Despite that, as I read it, I couldn't help but picture Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka. He fits the character more, to me. I felt like I was betraying the Burton/Depp duo with this, though. It made me want to watch my favorite version. If only there was more time!

The book was cute and funny! Still, it's "odd" level was nowhere near what I expected from Dahl. It was on the same level as Matilda. I feel like he went all out with The Great Glass Elevator. THAT book earned a special place in my memory! This one was fun to read, though! I still really enjoyed it.

Probably the only thing that bugged me about these books is the fact of the age contradictions. In this book the grandparents are well over 90 years old. In the sequel, they range in age from 78-81(except Grandpa Joe, whose age wasn't given that I noticed). It drove me a little crazy that they were younger starting out in the sequel. Of course, if you've read the book, you know they get even younger.

Overall, my opinion of Roald's work is a pleasant one. I've made it a goal for myself to read at least one Roald book a month until I make my way through all of them. So far, my experience has been with 2 of the 3 books being based on movies that I at least somewhat knew the stories of. I'm excited to see what else has came from his imagination!