Monday, April 30, 2012

Bookshelf Monday :: 33

Culture Overflowing 
THIS is the reason why it is good for me to be married to my husband because otherwise, there would be piles of books everywhere in our home. I swear there IS some order to my madness though honey! :)



image courtesy of: David Serra

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Blog Tour & Review: Baroness by Susan May Warren

Title: Baroness
Author: Susan May Warren
Publisher: Summerside Press (2012)

Source: Received from publisher via LitFuse Publicity Group

Buy book: here
About the Book:
Baroness – Book Two in the Daughters of Fortune series

Lily and Rose, daughters of an empire coming of age in the roaring twenties, can have anything they want ... except freedom.

Expected to marry well and to take the reins of the empire, they have their lives planned out for them. But, Lily, Esme's daughter longs to return home to Montana, to adventure outside the confines of New York City. And Jinx's daughter Rosie dreams of the bright lights of the newly emerging silver screen. But following their dreams - from avant garde France, to Broadway, to the skies in the world of barnstormers and wing-walkers will take all their courage.

And if they find love, will they choose freedom or happily ever after?

Find out more from Behind the Pages: http://www.susanmaywarren.com/books/baroness

Review:
Wow! What a whirlwind! I was definitely swept up into this coming-of-age story set in the Roaring Twenties in Susan May Warren's latest book, Baroness. I haven't read the first one, so I felt like I was lacking some of the background knowledge to really understand the story more in depth, but I don't think that it took away too much from my reading of the 2nd book. This story took you on a very emotional roller coaster with all it's twists and turns, especially since it sweeps you from the first page and doesn't let you go until the end.

Rosie and Lilly are both daughters of wealthy families, who couldn't be more different than each other, are faced with the obstacles of finding love, happiness and their self-worth amidst many trials and tribulations. I found myself feeling more for Lilly, maybe because I named my daughter Lily? I'm not sure. Her story resonated with me more than Rosie's. I liked that you followed the characters over the span of many years while watching their stories unfold before you. What a journey!

This was my first Susan May Warren book and I am impressed with the way she makes you care so much about her characters by making them so real and believable. I am very much looking forward to catching up on the first book, Heiress, and reading the third one - hopefully SOON!

Rating:
4 stars

About the Author:
Susan May Warren is the RITA award-winning novelist of over thirty novels. A five-time Christy award finalist, a two-time RITA Finalist, she’s also a multi-winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice award, and the ACFW Carol Award.

A seasoned women’s events speaker, she’s a popular writing teacher at conferences around the nation and the author of the beginning writer’s workbook: From the Inside-Out: discover, create and publish the novel in you!.

She is also the founder of www.MyBookTherapy.com, a story-crafting service that helps authors discover their voice. You can find her online at www.susanmaywarren.com.

Baroness Roaring 20s Kindle Fire Giveaway from @SusanMayWarren!

Expected to marry well and to take the reins of the family empire, they have their lives planned out for them. But following their dreams -- from avant garde France, to Broadway, to the skies in the world of barnstormers and wing-walkers -- will take all their courage.  And if they find love, will they choose freedom or happily ever after?

Celebrate with Susan by entering her Roaring 20's Giveaway!




One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • Signed copies of Baroness and Heiress by Susan May Warren
But hurry, the giveaway ends on 5/7/12. The winner will be announced on 5/9/12 on Susan’s blog, Scribbles!

Just click one of the icons below to enter! Tell your friends about Susan's giveaway on
FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning.

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Please check out the other stops on the blog tour! Special thanks to Litfuse for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Bookshelf Monday :: 32


I saw this staircase bookshelf a year ago and the first thing that came into my mind was that I couldn't stand that my books where stored where my feet and subsequently all the dirt and muck that you find on floors would be. I do have to commend the owners on a great use of what is usually wasted space though!



Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Blog Tour & Review: Comeback Love by Peter Golden

Title: Comeback Love
Author: Peter Golden
Publisher: Washington Square Press (April 2012)

Source: Received from publisher via Crazy Book Tours
Summary from Goodreads:
What would you do if you had a second chance with the one that got away?

More than thirty-five years ago, Gordon Meyers, an aspiring writer with a low number in the draft lottery, packed his belongings and reluctantly drove away, leaving behind Glenna Rising, the sexy, sharp-witted med student he couldn’t imagine living without.

Now, decades later, Gordon is a former globe-trotting consultant with a grown son, an ex-wife, and an overwhelming desire to see Glenna again. Though she’s stunned when Gordon walks into her Manhattan office, Glenna agrees to accompany him for a drink. As the two head out into the snow-swept city, they rediscover the passion that once drew them together—before it tore them apart. And as the evening unfolds, Gordon will finally reveal the true reason for his return. . . .

Comeback Love is an evocative journey into the hearts of two lovers who came of age in the 1960s, and who never truly let each other go. Plumbing the depths of youth, regret, and desire, Peter Golden deftly illuminates the bonds that mysteriously endure in the face of momentous change.

Review:
This is hands down the best book I've read all year so far. I fell hard for this book from the moment it grabbed me in the first couple of pages. I've waited all year for a book to do that to me and it was such a pleasant journey. I couldn't put it down and finished it during a couple late nights of not sleeping to keep reading.

What I enjoyed most about this story was that you really understand why Gordon goes searching for Glenna after twenty years and Peter Golden was masterful in writing the dialogue between the two. It is so witty, intelligent and real. Within the first few pages of dialogue between the two, you know right away why these two individuals were attracted to each other so many years ago. Their chemistry just oozes off the pages and you can't get but swept up by their young love.

I especially enjoy stories that flashback and it was very well done in Comeback Love. It wasn't too frequent and it didn't give away too much. I love that you follow their journey from the beginning of their relationship to the present time through the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Being a child of the 80's, I was intrigued by all the history about the 60's and 70's in this book. It was very enlightening and I learned so much.

The only negative thing with this book was that the abortion stuff made me uncomfortable. Being a pretty conservative Christian, those parts were a little hard to digest.

I just loved this book so much. Read it. NOW! You will not be disappointed by this book. If you are in search of a beautifully-written love story, look no further. Comeback Love will sweep you up and take you on a wonderful journey.

Rating:
5 out of 5 stars

Monday, April 16, 2012

Blog Tour & Review: The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck

Title: The Wedding Dress
Author: Rachel Hauck
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (April 2012)

Source: Received from publisher via LitFuse Publicity Group

Buy book: here
About the Book:
One dress. Four women. An amazing destiny.

Charlotte Malone is getting married. Yet all is not settled in the heart of Birmingham's chic bridal boutique owner. Charlotte can dress any bride to perfection-except herself. When she discovers a vintage mint-condition wedding gown in a battered old trunk, Charlotte embarks on a passionate journey to discover the women who wore the gown before her.

Emily in 1912. Mary in 1939. And Hillary in 1968. Each woman teaches Charlotte something about love in her own unique way. Woven within the threads of the beautiful hundred-year-old gown is the truth about Charlotte's heritage, the power of faith, and the beauty of finding true love

Review:
I fell in love with the cover when I saw it for the first time. I don't know what it is about weddings, especially bridal gowns, and women, but I am a sucker for all things wedding-related even though I am already married. This story was a wonderful read and I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end.

The Wedding Dress tells us the story of four very different women whose stories are woven together by a dress. The main character, Charlotte, owns a bridal gown store and can find a dress for every woman but herself. I really enjoyed learning about all the different women, Emily, Hillary, Mary and Charlotte as she goes about finding about the women that wore the vintage wedding dress before her and how this particular dress impacts each of their lives over the span of multiple generations. It reminded me a lot of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants because miraculously this wedding gown did not need any alterations between the four women.

It is a wonderfully crafted tale of true love, faith and redemption. You will enjoy learning about the characters, especially Emily and Charlotte, and grow to really be invested in them as a character. I appreciated the little doses of God sprinkled through the book to tie in the spirituality aspect as well. What a wonderful reminder about how the Gospel of Jesus Christ is always in style, never wears out and fits everyone!

This story is as beautiful as the cover. I know you will fall in love with it!

Rating:
5 stars

About the Author:
Rachel Hauck is the bestselling author of Carol Award winner Sweet Caroline, and RITA Finalist Love Starts With Elle, and of the critically acclaimed fiction collaboration with multi-platinum country artist Sara Evans, The Songbird Novels.

She lives in sunny, though sometimes hurricane plagued, central Florida with her husband and their ornery pets.

Visit www.deboracoty.com for more about Debora and her books.

Rachel earned a degree in Journalism form Ohio State University and is a huge Buckeyes football fan. She is the past President of American Christian Fiction Writers and now sits on the board as an Advisor. Visit her web site at www.rachelhauck.com to reader her blog, and to follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

What is "true" beauty? Join the conversation at Rachel's Author Chat Party Event Page. On the eventing of 4/19 we'll gather to talk about inner and outer beauty and share moments of beauty in our lives.

In the meantime, celebrate with Rachel by entering her True Beauty Giveaway!



One "beautiful" winner will receive:

  • A $200 Visa Cash Card (Treat yourself to a spa day or weekend
    get-away!)
  • The Wedding Dress (by Rachel Hauck)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends 4/18/12. Winner will be announced at Rachel's "True Beuaty" Author Chat Facebook Party on 4/19. Rachel will be hosting an evening of beauty (inner/outer) chat, fun trivia, laughter, and encouragement - bring your friends! She'll also be giving away some GREAT prizes: gift certificates, books, and a Book Club Prize Pack! (Ten copies of the book for your small group or book club and a live chat with Rachel via Skype.)

So grab a few of your friends and your copy of The Wedding Dress and join Rachel on the evening of April 19th for an evening of fun.

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter
Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 19th!


Please check out the other stops on the blog tour! Special thanks to Litfuse for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour.

Bookshelf Monday :: 31


This beautiful library is aboard the Queen Elizabeth cruise liner, The Queen Elizabeth II. It houses over 6,000 books. Isn't it exquisite? I think I would go on a cruise just so I could spend sea days roaming this lovely place. I do have a soft spot for spiral staircases after all.


image courtesy of: Daily Mail UK

Monday, April 9, 2012

Bookshelf Monday :: 30

What an interesting looking chair. I doesn't look very comfortable though, which is very high on my list of reading chairs. It must be cushy and be able to adjust to all my various positions of hanging legs over the edges to tucking both legs in. This chair looks like it'd be painful to do any of that even though it would be interesting to look at. Who else would have fun deciding which book you would be on which level and which slot? Anyone?



image courtesy of: Timorous Beasties

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Book & DVD Review: Heaven is for Real DVD-Based Conversation Set

Title: Heaven is for Real DVD-Based Conversation Kit
Author: Todd Burpo
Publisher: Thomas Nelson Publishers

Source: Received from Booksneeze

Description from Thomas Nelson:

The best-selling book about heaven that has changed the world is now a DVD-based conversation kit for churches and small groups. In addition to learning more about what the Bible teaches about heaven, groups will hear first-hand from the Burpo family about Colton's experience in heaven and the way it has changed their lives. Each video session features Todd, Sonja, and Colton, and is filmed interview-style with Natalie Tysdal, the Denver FOX/CW News reporter whose initial interview with the family has gone viral on the internet.

The Conversation Guide (ISBN 9781418550684) will take group members through key Bible passages about heaven, helping them understand more about who goes to heaven, when they go there, and what heaven is like.

Features include:

  • 5 (10- to 18-minute) video sessions featuring Todd, Sonja, and Colton answering frequently asked questions about heaven and their experiences
  • A special message of hope from Sonja to women who have experienced miscarriages
  • Conversation Guide written for both believers and non-believers in accessible language to help group members discover what the Bible teaches about heaven

Review:

My husband and I really enjoyed reading Heaven is for Real last summer. We have since shared it with as many people as we can in hopes that more people will come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. When the opportunity to review the DVD-Based Conversation set came up through Booksneeze, we were so excited to do this study with our small group. However, we were very disappointed with the study.

We had high hopes going into this study, but it felt very disconnected. We had a hard time understanding the order of each of the videos. We couldn't figure out how it was organized.

The video segments were somewhat awkward to watch because the questions seemed very forced upon Colton and his answers sounded like he's rehearsed them over and over again, especially since his visit to Heaven was when he was three and he is now ten years old. The line of questioning was very uncomfortable to watch because it felt like the interviewer was asking leading questions and Colton struggled to answer the questions.

The best part of the study was listening to Todd Burpo speak. He made the stories real and I appreciated his honesty and vulnerability.

There was a lot of potential for a very enriching study to come from this book to bring up rich discussions, but it greatly disappointed. As a bible study group, most of us was hoping for a better DVD series. The book is such an amazing book and in this case, the DVD study did not live up to book.

Rating:
2 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Blog Tour & Review: The Money Saving Mom's Budget by Crystal Paine

Title: The Money Saving Mom's Budget (audiobook)
Author: Crystal Paine
Publisher: Oasis Audio (February 2012)

Source: Received from publisher via LitFuse Publicity Group

Buy audiobook: here
About the Book:
Crystal Paine, who has helped busy women everywhere take control of their finances, presents her most effective strategies designed for families of all sizes and income levels

With hundreds of inspiring “why didn’t I think of that?” TIPS, plus WORKSHEETS, Paine breaks down your goals into easy, manageable steps so you can:

• Achieve a complete financial makeover

• Set up a realistic budget

• Never pay retail

• Slash your grocery bill

• Organize your time & your home

• Use coupons wisely

• Pay with cash only

• Live simply

• Become debt free

• Choose contentment

• Make every dollar count

Review:
It is hard to admit, but several years ago, I found myself buried underneath consumer debt without any real plans on how to get out. I was very much into retail therapy, especially when my boyfriend at the time (who is now my amazing husband) was away for two years in the Peace Corps. It was my way of coping with loneliness. Unfortunately, it led to a lot of bad habits with the ways I spent money. It wasn't until we were engaged and talking about merging our money together that I had to come face-to-face with the consequences of my poor financial habits.

I think there are many young adults that start their adult lives without much teaching on financial planning. I did not stick to a budget until my husband and I came up with one. My parents were sporadic with giving my siblings and I allowances between money was tight, so I never really had a cash flow until I was in college and taking out loan after loan to pay for school. I was lured into the temptation of credit cards and never really found my out until my husband and I made a debt snowball repayment plan. I wish someone along the way had taught me how to manage my money wisely and how to be a faithful steward with what God has given me. I wish that I had spent my twenties saving more instead of spending every penny (and more) of what little I earned. I wish I had read/listened to something like "The Money Saving Mom's Budget" many years ago!

Luckily, my husband and I have taken a financial course at our church called The Rock Financial Life (actually a few times now) and I am happy to report that the basic principles of "give, save, live on the rest" are very much embedded and central to way we run our family financially. We have successfully paid off all our of consumer debt, are chipping away at our student loans and saving to buy a home. We praise God that we are trying out best to be good stewards from the very beginning of our marriage and that we are starting our financial life together as man and wife on the right foot.

"The Money Saving Mom's Budget" was a great reminder on all the principles that we've learned before. I would recommend it to anyone that is looking to be more financial saavy. Paine was easy to listen to and gave lots of different ideas for ways women could better manage their money. The worksheets would be helpful starting points for newbies. I especially liked the chapter on coupons because that is a new area that I have been wanting to get more into.

What I didn't like about the audiobook was that it felt like topics jumped around a lot. I have only listened to less than a dozen audiobooks in recent years and I think I would have liked this audiobook better as a printed book because I wanted to make sense of the various tips that she was giving out. I found myself wanting to take notes to remember all the little tips. This might just be because I am not a very good auditory learner. I also wish there were more Biblical references because the Bible says SO much about money. It would nice to tie some of the principles into

Overall, I hope that all women, especially moms, will take the time and effort to become more financially literate. Paine's audiobook is a great way to be a better steward of all that God has blessed you with.

Rating:
4 stars

About the Author:
Crystal Paine is a wife and homeschooling mom to three young children who has been writing on topics related to frugality for the last five years—and living a frugal, simple, and debt-free life since she was born. Her blog, MoneySavingMom.com, is one of the top personal finance blogs on the web averaging over four million pageviews per month. Crystal has contributed to articles in Woman's Day magazine and All You magazine, as well as being mentioned on National Public Radio and CNN.com, in USA Weekend, and Real Simple magazine and numerous other local newspapers and radio and television stations. www.moneysavingmom.com.

"What I love about the audio edition of The Money Saving Mom'®s Budget is that I can listen to it on the go - on my run, in the car, or while I'm folding laundry. AND ... I love that it comes with the downloadable workshets. I am able to work through those while listeing to Crystal speak. So helpful. Perfect for my busy schedule." --Anne, blogger (and reformed budget breaker!)

Check out her videos here.



Celebrate with Crystal by entering her iPad2 Giveaway (a GREAT tool to keep track of your budget!) and RSVPing to the Live Webcast Event on 4/5!



One savvy winner will receive:
  • A Brand new iPad2
  • The Money Saving Mom's Budget by Cyrstal Paine, audio edition
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends 4/4/12. Winner will be announced at The Money Saving Mom's Live Webcast Event on 4/5. Crystal will be hosting an evening of chat, laughter and encouragement - bring your friends! She'll share tips and advicde and her husband will be joining her to share how the prinicples Crystal outlines in her book have dramatically impacted their family life. She'll also be giving away some GREAT prizes: gift certificates, books, and much more!

So grab your copy of The Money Saving Mom®'s Budget and join Crystal and friends on the evening of April 5th for an evening of fun of learning, sharing and encouragement.


Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP TODAY and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 5th!

Want more info about the MSM?
Click here!


Please check out the other stops on the blog tour! Special thanks to Litfuse for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Blog Tour & Review: By the Light of the Silvery Moon by Tricia Goyer

Title: By the Light of the Silvery Moon
Author: Tricia Goyer
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Inc. (March 2012)

Source: Received from publisher via LitFuse Publicity Group

Buy book: here
About the Book:
Amelia Gladstone's hopes are tied up in the Titanic--hopes for a reunion with her sister and an introduction to an admirer. But when she offers a spare ticket to a down-and-out young man, her fate is about to change.

Quentin Walpole is stunned when a sweet lady secures his passage to America--and even more surprised to find his wealthy father and older brother on board the ship. Suddenly Amelia finds herself caught between the attentions of two men, but who should she entrust her heart to? As the fateful night arrives, will Amelia lose everything to the icy waters?

Video trailer:


Review:
I was obsessed with the movie Titanic when it came out over a decade ago. And when I say obsessed, I really mean OBSESSED. I saw the movie in the theater 3 times. I made a binder of photos I printed out from the Internet of Leonardo DiCaprio. I bought posters and plastered one of my walls of my childhood bedroom with Titanic photos. I bought and listened to on repeat, Celine Dion's album, over and over again. It was one of the first times that I was really into a love story as a teenager (other than Gone with the Wind) and I was truly obsessed with it! I am trying to convince my husband that he needs to watch Titanic again in 3D with me. (I'm still working on it...)

That being said, I was eager to read By the Light of the Silvery Moon because it takes place on the Titanic. Historical Christian fiction + Titanic?! I was sold! I knew going into it that I would have very high expectations going into this book. I am happy to say that it did NOT disappoint. It grabbed me from the first few pages and I couldn't put it down. It is a wonderfully written historical fiction novel with lots of romance embedded within the Biblical story of the prodigal son.

I really don't want to say too much because it would be so easy to spoil so many little treats Goyer leaves you to discover throughout the book, but I thoroughly enjoyed the love triangle between Amelia, Quentin and his brother, Damien. There were many unexpected twists that kept me guessing all the way to the very end. Goyer's extensive research is especially evident in the cameo appearances, especially by John Astor and Margaret Brown. Goyer's words captivated and enchanted me from the first page and kept me going back for more. I very highly recommend this book to all those who are looking for very satisfying, beautifully told story about the tragic sinking of the Titanic.

Rating:
4 stars

About the Author:
Tricia Goyer is the award winning author of thirty-two books including Beside Still Waters, Remembering You, and the mommy memoir, Blue Like Play Dough. Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences and is the host of Living Inspired. She and her family make their home in Little Rock, Arkansas where they are part of the ministry of FamilyLife.

More info: Living Inspired (http://toginet.com/shows/livinginspired) and www.triciagoyer.com.

Win an Flip HD Camcorder during @TriciaGoyer's Unsinkable Titanic Giveaway and RSVP for 4/10 Titanic Party!


Celebrate the release of By the Light of the Silvery Moon with Tricia by entering her giveaway and RSVPing to her Titanic party.



One "unsinkable" winner will receive:
  • Flip HD video Camera (Make your own dramatic saga!)
  • Titanic movies from the ages {Titanic (1953) Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964), Titanic (1997)}
  • Secrets of the Titanic (Get the facts from National Geographic.)
  • And the Band Played On (Music Played on the Titanic.)
  • By the Light of the Silvery Moon by Tricia Goyer (Be swept away in this tale of love and courage.)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 9th. Winner will be announced at "Silvery Moon" Titanic Facebook Party on 4/10. Tricia will be hosting an author chat (on Facebook and Live from her website) and giving away books, gift certificates and a book club prize pack! (Ten copies of the book for your small group or book club). During the live chat Tricia will have a *special guest* join her. More details coming soon!

So grab your copy of By the Light of the Silvery Moon and join Tricia on the evening of the April 10th for a fun chat, trivia contest (How much do you know about the Titanic?) and lots of giveaways. 

Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 10th!


Please check out the other stops on the blog tour! Special thanks to Litfuse for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour.

Bookshelf Monday :: 29


This is one of the most unique reading nooks I've ever seen. I think it's very elegant and a great use of closet space - every side is filled with shelves from top to bottom. 


image courtesy of: El vuelo de las mantarrayas
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