Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Do's and Don'ts by Hayley Rose, With Illustrations by Mark Sean Wilson



The Do's and Don'ts by Hayley Rose, with illustrations by Mark Sean Wilson

Inkwell Productions (August 24, 2013) 44 pages

My Rating: 5/5 stars

My Thoughts:

A few years ago, I got the opportunity to read and review Fifo "50 States", also by Hayley Rose. I loved it, and already have it lined up for our geography lessons when schooling begins this fall. When I saw that Hayley had a new book out, I knew I had to see it.

My little ones are 5, 2, and 1 now. We're always trying to teach them manners. Some things we've been more successful than others! ;) To me, visuals are a great way to get the point across, more often than not. The pages within this book almost act as posters. There's a lesson in manners on each two page spread. We're told at the beginning to not be manner monsters. With each lesson, the first page shows what we don't do, with a picture of the manner monster in action. The next page shows what we should do, with a picture of a well behaved boy or girl.

For example:

"Don't make fun of people who aren't like you. (Picture: The manner monster is pointing and laughing at someone.)
Do become friends and learn from others' differences.
'Nice shot Greg. You play well.'" (A picture of someone complimenting a basketball shot.)

While the pictures are *super* bright and glossy, I like the simplicity of the word portion of the book. It also covers many different "rules" and safety precautions, in addition to manners. There's a "lesson" in looking both ways before crossing a road, not opening doors for strangers, not lying, coughing into your arm, not screaming, among many others.

While there's really nothing in here that I think most of us aren't already trying to teach our little ones, again, the visuals are great! Plus, review is always needed.

I would hope it'd go without saying, but I will just in case. As a Christian, all things come back to the Bible for my family, so I think this book is a wonderful tool to use *alongside* Bible teaching. The pictures and mini lessons are wonderful discussion starters, and paired with Bible verses, I think makes an excellent tool for teaching manners to little ones, especially preschool aged.

*I was provided a review copy through Pump Up Your Book, in exchange for my honest opinion.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Shadow Hand by Anne Elisabeth Stengl



Shadow Hand (Tales of Goldstone Wood) by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

Bethany House Publishers (March 4, 2014) 416 pages

My Rating: 5/5 stars

My Thoughts:

Let me start off by saying that this is the 6th book in the Tales of Goldstone Wood series. **Please do not start with this book!** I absolutely adore this series, so I DO recommend you read them, just in order. I can't imagine the confusion you'd feel if you started in this book! I've read them all, and I was still a little confused at times. I think that means I need to take a month off, and reread all of these books! ;)

In Shadow Hand, Daylily and Foxbrush take center stage. (Lionheart and Felix also make return appearances with secondary parts.) Daylily flees into the forest on her wedding day, and Foxbrush goes to her rescue. Really, if you've read this series, that's all you need to know to imagine the adventurous possibilities that await and be excited about it!

The books within this series have taken us back and forth through time. Shadow Hand also takes us back and forth, but in present time, it's the newest story on the timeline. Especially when it comes to Eanrin, I found myself very confused (as far as his blindness goes). It took awhile for him to show up in the story, but once him and Imraldera made their appearances, my heart did a little leap of joy. A couple of new characters even won my heart in this book, too. Nadawi is a character that used every bit of my imaginative abilities to "see". And, the Baroness of Middlecrescent proved to have many layers beneath her "airiness".

Shadow Hand is a sad and dark story, and it even felt creepy to me at times. (From the beginning, it's made clear the story revolves around blood and love.) It may have been the fact that I was up late one night reading, hoping to finish. I'm finally learning that with these books, I won't be able to devour them. They are complicated books that take every moment of my concentration. I can't read these books with chaos in the background, and there is always chaos with children. I WANTED to devour this book! I was hooked every single moment. There's a bit of mystery and I wanted to know what was happening. I celebrated my little moments of quiet with this book, and reread many parts to make sure I was understanding. There's so many little details and secrets that I could reread and reread and still find new discoveries. The stories and characters that have been entwined together is pure brilliance.

Part of the ending was beautiful. As I've come to expect and admire with Anne Elisabeth's writing, it wasn't a perfect "happily ever after". The other part of the ending left me sad and disappointed. I wanted to change it! I'm holding out hope, though, since I know there's another book coming soon, although not soon enough for my tastes! ;)

Needless to say, but I loved it! I can't wait until I have the next book in my hands. I may just have to arrange for a sitter, so I CAN devour the next story.

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

**The kindle version of Shadow Hand is only $3.99 right now!



Tales of Goldstone Wood:

Book 1:
Heartless
Book 2:
Veiled Rose
Book 3:
Moonblood
Book 4:
Starflower
Book 5:
Dragonwitch
Book 6:
Shadow Hand
Tales of Goldstone Wood Novella:
Goddess Tithe

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

One Lost Sheep by Rhonda Gowler Greene, Illustrated by Margaret Spengler



One Lost Sheep by Rhonda Gowler Greene, illustrated by Margaret Spengler

Zonderkidz (March 25, 2014) 32 pages

My Rating: 5/5 stars

My Thoughts:

(From what I can tell this book is being reprinted with different artwork.)

Firefly(almost 3) completely fell in love with this book! When it first arrived, I read it to him 3 times in a row before I had to cut him off. ;) The illustrations are precious, and we all loved the rhyming flow of the words.

The story is based on the parable in Luke 15: 3-4.

"Now shepherd counts
just ninety-nine.
One lost sheep,
he must find!

Step,
Step,
Step,
up mountains, steep.
Where, oh where, is that lost sheep?"

I think I can officially proclaim this as one of our favorites!

*Thanks to BookLookBloggers for providing me with a review copy in exchange for my honest opinion!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Bellflower with Bonus Short Story, Fairy Slippers by Amber Stokes(With GIVEAWAY!!!)



In the past few months, I've had the pleasure to read Bleeding Heart and Forget Me Not(FREE on kindle through March 21st!!!!!!). It was nothing but joy to read Bellflower and Fairy Slippers to learn more about some of the characters within those books. The fact that they are sweet little fairy tale re-tellings were just icing on the cake. Make sure you grab your copy! ;)

About the Book:

"The Heart's Spring" Short-Story Combo eBook

BELLFLOWER: Short Story Prequel to Forget Me Not

Spring 1880

Annabelle knows only one way of life. Jacob knows only one way to feel secure. When their paths cross in a Western mining town, can they find a way for love to bloom? Discover the story behind two hurting hearts in this short but sweet retelling of Beauty and the Beast.

FAIRY SLIPPERS: Bonus Short Story Companion to Bleeding Heart

Spring 1888

Margaret is fragile. Zachary is tough. Both are lonely. Will a dance in a redwood lumber town bring them together—or drive them apart forever? Discover the continuing story of the cook from Bleeding Heart in this short but sweet retelling of Cinderella.

GIVEAWAY:

In celebration of Fairy Slippers’ first appearance in a published ebook, Amber is giving away a horse & carriage beaded bookmark from Belle on a Budget—so one lucky reader can enjoy a bit of Cinderella charm! The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only, and you can enter using the Rafflecopter form below:

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Friday, March 14, 2014

Love's Promises by Sandra Leesmith Cover Reveal

It's been such a pleasure to be included in each of the cover reveals for Sandra's books. I've enjoyed seeing how each of them work together, and how great they look beside each other!

Today, we reveal the cover for Love's Promises!



This is my favorite one! The couple is a little further back than the other two cover couples, but I like that the guy is looking at the girl. I like that they're smiling, too. My favorite part? The crinkles around the guy's eyes. It makes both of them seem real, for one, but it also makes me think this guy has a good sense of humor, along with an easygoing personality. I guess I will see when I read the story, though! ;)

About the Book:

For Monica Scott, building her late father’s house at Lake Tahoe isn’t an option—it’s a necessarydistraction from confusing memories and an uncertain future. But a handsome planner working for the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) is keeping Monica from moving forward with the project. Never mind that he’s young and charming with a great sense of humor. No one is going to stop Monica from making her father’s dream—and her own—a reality.All Greg Linsey wants is for his work to mean something. His job at TRPA gives him the opportunity to fight for the environment he loves and make a difference in his small corner of theworld. But with the sophisticated Monica Scott’s arrival, his dedication is tested as never before, especially when Monica turns to his unscrupulous nemesis for assistance.As Greg and Monica’s animosity turns into something far sweeter, can they learn to accept each other’s promises and avoid the growing danger to their lives and hearts?

I see the words "great sense of humor", so it look like I was right! ;) (Have I mentioned I usually don't go into a book knowing much at all about it? I typically prefer NOT reading book summaries, though I do occasionally. I skim summaries!)

Love's Promises is now available at Amazon as a kindle edition.

Here are the other two covers to refresh your memory and compare:



Love's Miracles




Love's Refuge

I DO still really like all the blues in this cover, though!


Which is your favorite?

Make sure you see what others are saying about Love's Promises cover! Just go to the landing page at Seasons of Humility.




About the Author

SANDRA LEESMITH loves to travel in her RV and explore all of nature’s beauty, discover America’s history, and fellowship with the wonderful people she meets while on the road. She enjoys reading, writing, hiking, swimming, and pickleball. Learn more about Sandra and her books at www.sandraleesmith.com.




About the Cover Designer

LENA GOLDFINCH writes fantasy and romance for teens and adults. She's a sucker for a good old-fashioned romance, whether it's a novel, novella, or short story, young adult or adult, fantasy or realistic, contemporary or historical. Elements of romance, fantasy, and mystery have a way ofcreeping into her writing, even when she's writing something light and contemporary like her latest releases, Haunting Joy and Take a Picture. Lena has been a finalist in several national writing contests, including the RWA Golden Heart and ACFW Genesis contests. She lives in a scenic small town in Massachusetts with her husband, two kids, and a very spoiled Black Lab. Learn more about Lena and her books at www.lenagoldfinch.blogspot.com.


To celebrate the cover reveal and e-book release of Love’s Promises, Sandra is giving away a red leather-bound journal perfect for recording your own promises! The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only, and you can enter via the Rafflecopter form below:

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Thursday, March 13, 2014

It Had to be You by Susan May Warren



It Had to Be You (Christiansen Family) by Susan May Warren

Tyndale House Publishers (January 17, 2014) 480 pages

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Thoughts:

In this book, Eden takes center stage. I haven't read the first book, but it looks as though each of the six Christiansen siblings will get their own story. Eden(A name I LOVE, by the way! It was to be my little girl's middle name, only I ended up with boys. ;)) is used to being the "cheerleader" in her family, especially when it comes to her brother, Owen. She doesn't feel she has any real talent, unlike her amazing siblings, so she cheers from the sidelines. Owen is a hockey player, so she does so literally for him.

Jace is the "bad boy" of hockey, with fans coming to games hoping for a fight from him. His life and his health have suffered as a result! His life is complicated more by the fact that his best friend's daughter is having serious health problems. Through a great series of events, the characters within this story have to learn how much trust and faith they really have in God.

As is the case in most romances out there, there comes a point where I just want to smack the characters upside the head at the lack of communication and the abundance of false assumptions. Without them, though, we wouldn't have a story, would we?! ;) As much as I liked Eden, she was starting to get on my nerves. She has a guy being so super sweet, and she keeps rejecting him for crazy reasons. She finally comes to her senses and then he starts acting crazy. Mercy!

That said, I really did enjoy this book. I read an e-copy, so I was shocked to see it has almost 500 pages! (I didn't notice it!) Other than the few moments, I really connected with Eden! She is really sweet and caring. She's still searching for the talent that God has blessed her with. I can relate! The sweet bond that her family has warmed my heart. As with all families, there is trouble at times, but there is an abundance of love to make up for it.

I was surprised at how much I wanted to cry within the pages of this story. Of course, I seem to recall the same thing with her other books I've read, but it's been too long! There is a great deal of emotion tugging throughout, so if you're like me, just grab a few tissues before you settle in with this book. There's one point where a daddy is trying to sing "Jesus loves me" to his little girl through his tears, and I just had to turn my kindle off, and cry a little bit.

There's plenty of romance, and plenty of hockey for those of you who enjoy those things. I'm not a sports fan, but I still enjoyed the change of scenery in my reading. I've never claimed to be a sports fan of any kind, but I have always said hockey is my favorite sport. I've been to one game that I loved. I was surprised at the fighting aspect of hockey, though, sadly. I guess it comes with the territory. :S

Overall, I've loved Susan May's writing so far, and I'm looking forward to reading many more of them. I have quite a few of them on my library wishlist! Despite this being the second in a series, I never felt I was missing anything, so it can be read perfectly fine as a standalone!

*Thanks to Tyndale, Netgalley, and Litfuse Publicity for providing me with an e-ARC in exchange for my honest opinion!


IT HAD TO BE YOU $100 Visa Giveaway from @SusanMayWarren!

Susan May Warren is celebrating the release of her newest Christiansen Family novel, It Had To Be You, with a $100 Visa cash card giveaway and offering readers a free book club kit.

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One winner will receive:


  • $100 Visa cash card
  • Take a Chance on Me and It Had to Be You by Susan May Warren
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on March 29th. Winner will be announced April 1st on Susan's blog. Also, visit her website to learn more about the It Had To Be You backstory and Susan's free book club kit.



Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to stop by Susan's blog on April 1st to see if you won.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Beloved Daughter by Alana Terry


The Beloved Daughter by Alana Terry

My Rating: 5/5 stars

My Thoughts:

The Beloved Daughter takes us to the world of North Korea, and gives us a peek into the life of a Christian. I don't typically read books like this. Unfortunately, I tend to live, more often than not, with an "ignorance is bliss" kind of mentality. With my "highly sensitive" personality, I turn my head away at sad things. Don't get me wrong! I pray about them when I see it, but then go on with the mentality of "out of sight, out of mind". This year I made a goal to challenge my comfort level(NOT conscience level!). Beloved Daughter was the perfect book to do just that.

At times it was difficult for me to read! The abuse, the torture, the neglect, the fear, and the harsh living conditions that these Christians suffer were horrible. Goodness, how spoiled we are in the U.S.! It made me realize how much I take for granted. I get the joy of attending church with my brothers and sisters in Christ 3(!) times a week. How often do I think about how much easier it would be to stay home with my 3 little ones. It IS A JOY and a privilege that I can freely worship God, and read my Bible at any given moment.

The Beloved Daughter is told in the form of a letter. It follows the life of sister Chung-Cha, the daughter of a Christian. The story is told through several parts, and follows the changes of heart and the changes of mind that Chung-Cha goes through. It follows the severe abuse that she, and her family, endures. We meets many different characters throughout the journey, and learn of different aspects of the life of a Christian in North Korea. The story almost seems non-fiction at times, but flows beautifully. I was pleased with some of the strings that the author tied together throughout. The story DOES end with a cliffhanger of sorts. I HOPE this means we will see more in either Slave Again, which comes out this summer, or a future book!

I highly recommend you grab copy of The Beloved Daughter, and, as hard as it is, learn a little more about the persecution our brothers and sisters in Christ are suffering! We need to pray harder for these lives!

Content: There IS violence and abuse throughout the story, BUT the author never gets too detailed. She perfectly balances giving us the knowledge of what's happening without making us sick. I can assure you, if she had went into into a great deal of detail, I WOULD have been sick. Again, though, I felt it was the perfect balance!

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

And, now, a little preview of Slave Again!


She escaped a North Korean prison camp only to find herself enslaved again.


Slave Again, by inspirational suspense novelist Alana Terry.

Cover Reveal: Mee-Kyong endured a childhood fending for herself in a North
Korean prison camp. When she finally flees across the border into China, Mee-Kyong must draw upon all her survival skills. Does Mee-Kyong have the cunning she needs to escape the world of abuse and
shame into which she's been sold? Can she manage to save both herself and the innocent child under her
protection?
 

About the Author:  Alana Terry is a homeschool mom, pastor's wife, and Christian author. Her debut novel, The Beloved Daughter, has won awards from Women of Faith and the Book Club Network. The Beloved Daughter was a number one bestseller in Christian suspense on amazon. Her next novel, Slave Again, is due out this summer.





Giveaway Time! Alana is giving away free copies of her next release to anyone who makes a donation to Liberty in North Korea, an organization dedicated to rescuing refugees who escape North Korea. She's also giving away a mini kobo e-reader and several copies of Slave Again, so be sure to enter the giveaway below!







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Monday, March 10, 2014

Interview With Author Lyn Cote (With FREEBIE offer!!!)

I'm so excited that today I have the opportunity to feature Mrs. Lyn Cote here at my blog! She has also interviewed me at her blog, Strong Women, Brave Stories, so make sure you check that out, too! ;)



1. Of the books that you've written, do you have a favorite?

Since my books are my "babies," that's hard to answer. I will say that my Women of Ivy Manor (2005-2006) series was the one I had the most fun writing. That book contract was a gift from God. A publisher approached my agent and asked me to write the series I had always wanted to write. (They didn't know that but God did--a lovely gift to me.)



2. How much "real life" do you put into your stories?(events/personalities of yourself or those around you).

A writer is like a constant video and audio recorder. Everything goes in but comes out uniquely my style and voice. I always warn my friends--anything you say or do may appear in a book, but I'll change your name!

3. What authors/books have influenced your writing?

Georgette Heyer who died in 1977 was an enormous influence on me. In my mind she was the successor to Jane Austen. She created the Regency Romance and wrote so many wonderful ones, such as The Grand Sophy, Arabella, Frederica.

4. What are you working on at the moment?

I'm writing a series titled, "Quaker Brides." It takes one Quaker family through the chaotic times from the beginning of the Underground Railroad through the end of the Civil War.

5. Just for fun, what are some of you favorites?

Hobby? Knitting
Food? Anything fruit-flavored
Color? pastels
Musical Artist? George Winston
Season? All of them! (Even this dreadfully cold winter!"




Here's a little note from Mrs. Lyn:

My blog is titled, "Strong Women, Brave Stories" and every Monday a guest author shares about some strong woman in their family or a period when they had to be strong. I love how candid the authors are and how readers respond.

If any of your readers drop by my website and subscribe to my enewsletter, they will receive a PDF copy of Old Family Recipes, 15 Love Inspired Historical authors shares recipes and family stories. And I'm about to start a serial story via my newsletter. More about that in an upcoming issue!

-Lyn Cote

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

Thank you so much, Mrs. Lyn, for being at my blog today!

Readers, I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to reading some books by Mrs. Lyn now! Feel free to leave some comment love for her! ;)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Paris Connection by Cerella Sechrist





Make sure you go to The Paris Connection's Blog Tour landing page to see all the other reviews!



The Paris Connection by Cerella Sechrist

Harlequin Heartwarming (March 1, 2014) 189 pages

My Thoughts:

I'm going to be honest with y'all, and let you know that I didn't finish this book. I'm not exactly the target reader, though. The main character, Emma, is divorced, and her reasons for it go against my Christian beliefs. So, that makes it hard for me to read about a romance that I felt was wrong. :S

That said, I know my beliefs are much different than most people's, and YOU may truly enjoy this book!

I got about a third of the way through, and it was ONLY my personal conflict that made me stop reading. The setting of The Paris Connection IS Paris, and it was a pleasure to read little bits and pieces of life there. And, if you like office romances, this will definitely be your cup of tea! What I read was truly lovely, except(again), for my issues. IF that part doesn't bother you, I recommend you give this one a try! Plus, look at that cover! It just makes me more ready for spring weather to fully arrive! ;)

I highly encourage you to check out some of the other reviews!!!

*Thanks to Harlequin and Netgalley and Amber @Seasons of Humility for providing me with a review copy in exchange for my honest opinion!

In connection with this tour, there are TWO giveaways going on, so make sure you enter those!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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