Thursday, May 31, 2012

what's in the mail? 5-31-12 edition

I got several things in the mail these past two weeks—more cereal, a movie, and lots of books!

Quaker Oatmeal Squares, Cinnamon
Apparently Vine has discovered I like cinnamon ... I've gotten cinnamon-flavored cereals two newsletters in a row! This one doesn't hold a candle to the other. It's bland and not very cinnamony. Don't get me wrong—I'll eat it for breakfast ... but I definitely won't be buying it in the future! Here's my review.

I thought this adaptation of a Shakespeare play would be my cup of tea. I was wrong. So, so wrong. I haven't posted my Vine review yet (because I'm a bit afraid of getting my review voted down—all the less-than-glowing reviews are getting voted down like crazy!), but I did post about it on Cinematic Survey, where I can be completely candid. You can see the post here.

Tarnished by Daniel & Christina Morrison
Earlier this week, the Morrisons did a guest post about their fantasy novel and the Kickstarter project to fund the audio book. My book arrived yesterday; I'm looking forward to reading it as soon as I finish the one I'm currently reading.

The Anniversary Waltz by Darrel Nelson
When this book arrived earlier this week, I had no idea where it came from. I'm not so in demand as a reviewer that I have unsolicited books arriving at my door, so I knew I must have requested it. And I did—a mere 18 days ago! How quickly we forget ... Anyway, it appears to be mainly set around WWII, which is my favorite historical era to read about, thus explaining why I requested it from Glass Road!

After All: A Hanover Falls Novel by Deborah Raney
This is the book that I mentioned last time—the one that got sent to the wrong mailing list. I loved After All and finished it in one afternoon. Here's the review.

Prize of My Heart by Lisa Norato
Some of you may have picked up the Kindle edition of this book for free a couple weeks ago. I did! I requested this from Bethany House in March. I never got a confirmation e-mail, so I assumed I didn't make the cut. Then this showed up last week ...

Legacy Road by Graham Garrison
I'll be reviewing this for Kregel in July ... which means I probably won't read it for another five weeks! It's about a journalist, and that's all I know. I signed up for this tour because I really like working with Kregel.

One.Life: Jesus Calls, We Follow by Scot McKnight
This is the lone book on the list that I purchased myself. I bought it because it was quoted in an article I recently read, and I was intrigued. Now that I've flipped through a few pages, I think I will be challenged by what I read. I haven't read a book that I really have to think critically about in a long time, and I'm looking forward to it!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received some of these products free in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review and received no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

"after all" by deborah raney

About the book (from the back cover): Eighteen months after the tragic Grove Street Fire took the life of her husband, David, and four other heroic firefighters, Susan Marlowe thinks she's finally beginning to heal.

But then she discovers that David carried a secret to his grave. A secret that changes everything she thought their marriage had been. For the sake of their sons, can Susan forgive the unforgivable?

Andrea Morley lost her closest friend in the fire. But she has no right to mourn him. Instead, she must forever grieve in silence—because her dearest friend was someone else's husband.

Peter Brennan carries the weight of the world on his shoulders. As Hanover Falls' fire chief, he was responsible for the brave firefighters who lost their lives that awful November night.

Can he ever shake the feeling that he should have somehow prevented the tragedy?

As he tries to rebuild the team at Clemens County's Station 2, it seems he might find comfort in the arms of the woman he least expected.

My take: After All provides a satisfying conclusion to the Hanover Falls series, all of which deal with the aftermath of a fatal fire at a homeless shelter. (I reviewed book two, Forever After, here.) In After All, shelter director Susan Marlowe gets a second chance at love ... but the woman who came between her and David also threatens this new relationship.

After All is a story full of heartbreak, redemption, and forgiveness, and I really enjoyed this final trip to Hanover Falls. I especially liked watching Pete's transformation as he fell in love with Susan and found his way back to God. I read the entire book in one afternoon—it was so good I didn't want to put it down! 4-1/2 out of 5 stars.

About the author: Deborah Raney is the award-winning author of numerous novels, including A Nest of Sparrows and the RITA award-winning Beneath a Southern Sky and its sequel, After the Rains. Deborah's first novel, A Vow to Cherish, was the inspiration for World Wide Picture's highly acclaimed film of the same title, which in December 2004 aired on prime time network TV for the second time. Deb's novella, Playing by Heart, was a National Readers Choice Award winner and a 2004 Christy Award finalist. Her novel with Howard/Simon & Schuster, Yesterday's Embers, appeared on the ECPA Christian fiction bestseller list. Known for her sensitive portrayal of family struggles and relationships, Deb has also written nonfiction books and articles and often speaks at women's retreats and writers' conferences around the country. She and her husband, illustrator/author Ken Raney, have four children and make their home in Kansas. Learn more at

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free for review from Glass Road Public Relations. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

i really should be working ...

I had my gallbladder removed last week. (That's a post for another day.) My yearbook submission date was May 25, but I knew there was no way I'd feel like working on yearbook right after my surgery, so I got an extension from my yearbook rep. Now I'm back at work and feeling good, so it's time to buckle down and finish the yearbook. So tonight, I silenced my phone, turned on some music, and sat down with a stack of spreads to proofread.

That was three hours ago. In those three hours, I did manage to proofread three spreads. But I also ...
  • Carried on a Facebook conversation with Blendy and Janae about The Bachelorette. I have somehow managed to be spoiler free so far this season, so I have no idea what's coming down the pike ... and I'd like to keep it that way! My top three right now are Arie, Doug, and Sean. And Kalon and Ryan so have to go!
  • Perused this list of celebrity Republicans. I have no idea how accurate it is, but I always knew I liked Freddie Prinze, Jr.!
  • Watched a couple episodes of What I Like About You. (Yes, Val, "Ground-Turkey-Hog-Day" was one of them!)
  • Fell into that black hole known as YouTube. Seriously! What is it about being under pressure that makes terrible fan videos so appealing?
  • Played "Words with Friends" on Facebook. I'm truly terrible, but I enjoy it—and I'd be willing to play any of you ... just send me a request!
  • Fell into that black hole known as Pinterest. I am totally trying this tightlining tip I found!
And now, it's time for bed. Maybe it's time to start using LeechBlock again!

Monday, May 28, 2012

guest post: "reclaiming fantasy" by daniel morrison

Recently, I learned about Daniel & Christina Morrison's fantasy novel, Tarnished, and their Kickstarter campaign to turn it into an audio book. I'll be reading and reviewing the book soon, but in the meantime, I asked if they'd like to do a guest post on my blog, telling a bit about themselves and their project. 

“Why can’t you like something girlie like bunnies or something?” her boyfriend quipped.

“But I’ve always loved dragons and I think God wants me to help redeem them,” Christina answered. Needless to say, it was an ill-fated relationship.

When she began writing her novel, it was a historical fiction based on a popular story in the Old Testament. After some expert advice from an accomplished writer she reworked it as a fantasy novel. He said, ‘Write what you know’ and she had always known and loved fantasy. C.S. Lewis took characters from the theological mess of Greek mythology and cleaned them off, putting them into a fantastic Christ-centered narrative. Christina decided she wanted to do the same thing.

It was more than a rewrite later with her fantasy novel lying on the shelf that she met and married me, a creative director with a film degree and a calling to media. “I went from feeling like this was just a wildly out of touch dream to suddenly being centered and connected with God’s plan for my writing,” Christina says. “Before Daniel, it was just a somewhat good story sitting completed in my computer hard-drive. But with his help I suspected it could become much more.”

While joining in marriage was a journey, joining in creativity was another battle all its own. It’s hard to drop your pride and defenses and offer your skill and ideas up to each other. And I wasn’t on board with the project at the beginning. There were some serious issues which I think all fantasy writers have to pin down: how magic is approached, the general context of the world and how God is presented in that world are all delicate and pivotal parts of reclaiming the fantasy genre.

It was also hard for Christina to put her work on the chopping block. The story was already well-crafted and most of it stayed the same. It was really just a matter of a few wires in the heart of the story that needed switching, and once that happened there was a ripple effect that required a technical overhaul of most of the dialogue. Together, we wrestled through another re-write, changing character’s arcs, redesigning creatures, and switching the genders of some characters to better suit the story and avoid unintended undertones.
Daniel & Christina Morrison

Six months of rewriting and a pass through our editor brought us to our final scrutinized manuscript. Being artists and media creators, we were able to manage much of the publishing process ourselves. But having a completed book self-published is really only the beginning.

We have plans for developing a graphic novel, dramatized audio book and eventually a feature film of Tarnished. That’s a lot to bite off at once so we decided to begin with the audio book. We found and hired a professional Scottish voice artist to narrate Tarnished. John Cavanagh is amazing and did a fantastic job of the narration. But hiring artists and developing assets is a pricey endeavor when we are raising two kids, working a full-time job and running a media production company after work. We spend most of what we make in our own company (Remnant Studios) on the Tarnished production because we believe God has called us to spend ourselves on what He has given us to do.

“We want to engage as many people as possible in bringing excellent fantasy to life,” Christina says. “For too long Christians have backed away from important arenas like media and fantasy.”

And we are aiming to engage like-minded people: Launching a Kickstarter campaign (active until June 15th) to invite fans to fund the audio book.

Our core motto is to “Be Spent” by inviting God to direct us how to do that well.

And there's more: The Morrisons are sponsoring a Tarnished review contest. If you read the book and post a review on Amazon by the end of June, you'll be entered into a drawing for a Kindle Fire. Check the book out here. You can also keep up with the project on facebook.

Friday, May 25, 2012

"dreamspell" by tamara leigh

This is one of my rare "I didn't have to write this review" reviews. When I saw a review of Dreamspell on another book blog, I knew I needed to check it out. And, as Dreamspell is one of the books Amazon Prime members can read for free, I didn't even have to pay for it!

About the book (from Amazon): 
A time to live. A time to die. A time to dream.

Sleep disorders specialist Kennedy Plain has been diagnosed with a fatal brain tumor. When her research subject dies after trying to convince her he has achieved dream-induced time travel and her study is shelved, she enlists herself as a subject to complete her research. But when she dreams herself into 14th-century England and falls into the hands of Fulke Wynland, a man history has condemned as a murderer, she must not only stay alive long enough to find a way to return to her own time, but prevent Fulke from murdering his young nephews. And yet, the more time she spends with the medieval warrior, the more difficult it is to believe he is capable of committing the heinous crime for which he has been reviled for 600 years.

Baron Fulke Wynland has been granted guardianship of his brother’s heirs despite suspicions that he seeks to steal their inheritance. When the king sends a mysterious woman to care for the boys, Fulke is surprised by the lady's hostility toward him--and more surprised to learn she is to be his wife. But when his nephews are abducted, the two must overcome their mutual dislike to discover the boys' fate. What Fulke never expects is to feel for this woman whose peculiar speech, behavior, and talk of dream travel could see her burned as a witch.

My take: Dreamspell had me at time travel. I am predisposed to loving anything dealing with time—time travel, time loops, etc. So even though medieval romances aren't usually my cup of tea, I thought I'd give it a chance. To my surprise, I loved the action in the 1300's ... and I couldn't get through the modern scenes fast enough, as I wanted to know what would happen in the "past."

I enjoyed watching Nedy try to fit into the middle ages—especially when it came to hygiene issues!—and I liked her relationship with Fulke. I also especially liked Marion, Fulke's sister ... her defense against an unwanted marriage was pretty genius!

While I preferred the scenes in the 1300's, the most touching scene was the epilogue involving Kennedy's mother in the present. It was an absolutely genius way to wrap up the story!

Tamara Leigh is known for her Christian fiction, but Dreamspell is more of a general market romance. That said, it's a clean, enjoyable read. 4 stars.

About the author: Tamara Leigh holds a Masters Degree in Speech and Language Pathology. In 1993, she signed a 4-book contract with Bantam Books. Her first medieval romance, Warrior Bride, was released in 1994, followed by Virgin Bride, Pagan Bride, and Saxon Bride. Tamara continued to write for the general market, publishing three more novels with HarperCollins and Dorchester and earning awards and spots on national bestseller lists.

In 2006, Tamara's first inspirational contemporary romance, Stealing Adda, was released. In 2008, Perfecting Kate was optioned for a movie and Splitting Harriet won an ACFW "Book of the Year" award. Both books were released as audiobooks. In 2009, Faking Grace was nominated for ACFW "Book of the Year" and RITA awards. In 2010, Leaving Carolina was featured in Target stores' "Emerging Authors: New, Notable, Red-Hot Reads" section. In 2011, Tamara wrapped up her "Southern Discomfort" series with the release of Restless in Carolina.

Tamara lives near Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and sons, a Doberman that bares its teeth not only to threaten the UPS man but to smile, and a Shih Tzu with a Napoleon complex and something of an eating disorder.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

"waking hours" by lis wiehl with pete nelson

About the book (from the back cover): All towns have secrets. Some have demons.

Welcome to East Salem. A deceptively sleepy town where ancient supernatural forces are being awakened.

A local high-school girl is found murdered in a park amid horse farms and wealthy homes of northern Westchester County, New York. The shocking manner of her death confounds the town and intrigues forensic psychiatrist Dani Harris, who is determined to unravel the mystery. All the suspects are teenagers who were at a party with the girl—yet none remembers what happened. Could one of them be a vicious killer? Or is something more sinister afoot—something tied to an ancient evil?

But it's not just her waking hours that challenge Dani. Each night, her eyes open at 2:13 due to troubling dreams. Dreams filled with blood, water, and destruction. Is it a clue—or a supernatural sign?

Across town, former NFL linebacker Tommy Gunderson finds his state-of-the-art security system has been breached by an elderly woman. Mumbling threats in Latin, she attacks him with an uncanny, preternatural strength. Before he has time to process the attack, someone close to him is implicated in the girl's murder at the park. He agrees to help-and finds himself working with Dani, the only girl who could resist his charms years ago when they were in high school.

A heavy darkness is spreading. Yet a heavenly force is also at work.

It will take astute analysis and forensic skills to solve the crime. But Dani and Tommy suspect there's more the the mystery than murder, more to their growing friendship than chance . . . and more to the evil they're facing than a mere human killer.

My take: Lis Wiehl has done it again! I'm a longtime fan of her Triple Threat series (written with April Henry), and Waking Hours is just as engaging as—though completely different from—those books. Taken as a mystery/detective novel, Waking Hours is good. But when you add in the supernatural element (which really doesn't come to the forefront until the end), you have a fantastic story that sets up what will hopefully become a long-running series.

Because Waking Hours is the set-up to the series, it's not as suspenseful as I expected. (It kind of acts like a TV show pilot—it gives you all the elements you need to embrace the series as it continues.) The action definitely ramps up at the end, and the book ends on a cliffhanger. I wish I could have kept reading—I can't wait to get my hands on book two! 4 out of 5 stars.

About the authors: Lis Wiehl is a New York Times best-selling author, Harvard Law School graduate, and former federal prosecutor. A popular legal analyst and commentator for the Fox News Channel, Wiehl appears on The O'Reilly Factor and was co-host will Bill O'Reilly on the radio for seven years.

Pete Nelson is the author of I Thought You Were Dead. He was listed in the Esquire Register of Best American Writers, the recipient of the 2003 Christopher Award, and nominated for the prestigious Edgar Award. He lives with his wife and son in Westchester, New York.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this product free for review from through its Vine reviewer program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own.
 I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

"my stubborn heart" by becky wade

About the book (provided by Litfuse): Kate Donovan is burned out on work, worn down by her dating relationships, and in need of an adventure. When her grandmother asks her to accompany her to Redbud, Pennsylvania, to restore the grand old house she grew up in, Kate jumps at the chance.

Upon her arrival in Redbud, Kate meets Matt Jarreau, the man hired to renovate the house. Kate can't help being attracted to him, drawn by both his good looks and something else she can't quite put her finger on. He's clearly wounded--hiding from people, from God, and from his past. Yet Kate sets her stubborn heart on bringing him out of the dark and back into the light...whether he likes it or not.

When the stilted, uncomfortable interactions between Kate and Matt slowly shift into something more, is God finally answering the longing of her heart? Or will Kate be required to give up more than she ever dreamed?

My take: Oh. My. Goodness. I loved, loved, loved this book! As soon as I read the prologue (which you can read here), I knew My Stubborn Heart would be something special. Author Becky Wade has such a unique voice, and the novel is funny (as in laugh-out-loud), poignant, and oh so romantic. Wade often shifts between the perspectives of Kate and Matt, and while a varying viewpoint often annoys me to no end, it works perfectly here.

As Kate and Matt tried to figure things out, I longed for them to be together. But they weren't the only characters I cared about: Morty—desperately in love with Velma, who made life very difficult for him—and Gran were especially endearing.

My Stubborn Heart is a novel that will stick with me for a long time, and I eagerly anticipate Becky Wade's next book! 5 out of 5 stars.

See what other bloggers are saying here.

About the author: During her childhood in California, Becky frequently produced homemade plays starring her sisters, friends, and cousins. These plays almost always featured a heroine, a prince, and a love story with a happy ending. She's been a fan of all things romantic ever since. Becky and her husband lived overseas in the Caribbean and Australia before settling in Dallas, Texas. It was during her years abroad that Becky's passion for reading turned into a passion for writing. She published three historical romances with Avon Books, then put her career on hold for several years to care for her kids, then recently returned to writing sheerly for the love of it. She felt led to move to the genre of contemporary Christian romance and couldn't be more thrilled with it.

These days Becky can be found failing but trying to keep up with her housework, sweating at the gym, carting her kids around town, playing tennis, hunched over her computer, eating chocolate, or collapsed on the sofa watching TV with her husband. Learn more at:

About the giveaway: Win a Nook Simple Touch™ with GlowLight™ in Becky Wade's My Stubborn Heart Giveaway and RSVP for FB Party {5/24}! 
Celebrate with Becky by entering her My Stubborn Heart Giveaway and connecting with her during the Author Chat Party on 5/24!

One fortunate winner will receive:
  • A Brand New Nook Simple Touch™ with GlowLight™
  • A $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Certificate
  • A copy of My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends at noon on May 24th. Winner will be announced at the "My Stubborn Heart" Author Chat Facebook Party on 5/24. Becky will be hosting an book chat, testing your trivia skills and giving away some great prizes!

So grab your copy of My Stubborn Heart and join Becky on the evening of the May 24th for a chance to meet Becky and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book - don't let that stop you from coming!)

Enter via E-mail Enter via Facebook Enter 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 24th!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

"wish you were here" by beth k. vogt

About the book: Allison fell in love with Seth because he made her feel safe. Now, he just makes her feel suffocated. As their wedding approaches, her cold feet become frigid; everything is wrong—the dress, the huge ceremony, and perhaps even the groom.

Allison becomes a runaway bride—and in the process, she rediscovers herself, finds out what it means to love and be loved, and reconnects with the God she abandoned as a teenager.

My take: Wish You Were Here, stripped down to its core, could be one of a zillion other romantic comedies. Boy loves girl. Girl is dating (or engaged to) another guy. Boy wins girl over. Boy and girl ride off into the sunset together. That plot by itself makes for an enjoyable romance. But what makes Wish You Were Here so completely compelling is the depth author Beth K. Vogt has added to that story line. Characters struggle with cutting, pornography, family relationships, and abusive situations. These aspects could weigh the story down, but somehow, Vogt keeps it light while still dealing with the gravity of the situations.

Wish You Were Here is a book I simply could not put down (and I stayed up far too late two nights in a row reading it), and I'm happy to recommend it! 5 out of 5 stars.

See what other bloggers are saying here or buy the book here.

About the author: Beth K. Vogt provides her readers with a happily ever after woven through with humor, reality, and God's lavish grace. She's a non-fiction author and editor who said she'd never write fiction. She's the wife of an Air Force physician (now in solo practice) who said she'd never marry a doctor-or anyone in the military. She's a mom of four who said she'd never have kids. Beth has discovered that God's best often waits behind the doors marked "Never." She writes contemporary romance because she believes there's more to happily ever after than the fairy tales tell us. Beth earned a journalism degree from San Jose State University and met her husband Rob when he knocked her down at a karate studio. They've been married for 31 years. They have four children, ranging in ages from 28, 25, 23 and - thanks to a funny thing happening on their way to the empty nest-a 10-year-old. The Vogt Team, which now includes a "daughter-in-love" and "son-in-love," enjoys hiking and camping in Colorado. Read more about Beth at her website:

About the giveaway: Win an iPad2 from @BethVogt! Celebrate with Beth by entering her Wish You Were Here Giveaway!

One "happy" winner will receive:
  • A brand new iPad with Wi-Fi (The must-have, do-everything gadget!)
  • Wish You Were Here by Beth Vogt (Swoon worthy.)
  • $15 iTunes Gift Card (Music, books, apps, & more.)
Hurry, the giveaway ends on 6/4/12. The winner will be announced 6/6/12 on Beth's website!

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

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Sunday, May 20, 2012

crafting with blendy & becky: rice heat therapy bag

The title of this post should actually be "Crafting with Susan & Becky"—when I told Blendy I wanted to make these rice therapy bags (discovered through Pinterest, of course) for our April craft project, she politely declined. So I turned to the woman whose help I would have needed to enlist anyway: my mom!

I think the last time I used a sewing machine, I was a freshman in high school. The sewing part of Home Ec was rather tramatic for me—we were required to make items of clothing and then wear them to school. This was bad enough on its own, but the day I chose to wear my terrible plaid jumper was also a day I stayed after school to work on yearbook. So did my cousin, who was responsible for the yearbook page of the yearbook ... and she took a picture of me working on my spread. So my horrible jumper is now immortalized on the pages of The Reflector. After that experience, I swore off sewing ... until now!

Apparently, when I swore off sewing, I really swore it off because I remembered virtually nothing. My mom had to basically hold my hand the whole way through—from cutting out the fabric to pinning it together to threading the sewing machine to actually sewing!

If you want detailed instructions, you should really go to "Sew, Mama, Sew!"—the site that inspired me. They give great directions! I didn't really follow their directions, though—I needed something simpler. So here's what I did ...

Find a fun fabric for your bag. Or you could do what I did and raid your mom's fabric scraps! (I didn't care if my bag was particularly beautiful ... after all, I was going to be the one sewing it!)

Cut fabric into approximately 8x20 inch rectangle. Fold in half to create 8x10 inch rectangle. If you have a fabric that doesn't look the same on both sides, be sure to fold so the right sides (what will be on the outside at the end) are together.

Pin on the three non-folded sides. Leave about four inches unpinned.

Sew. Try to keep your lines straight. (I was very bad at this.) Be sure not to sew the unpinned section.

Trim the edges and turn the fabric right side out.

Pour two pounds of rice into a bowl. Add 10-ish drops of essential oil and stir together. (You may need more or less—adjust until it smells right to you. I went WAY overboard with my cinnamon bark. Repeat after me: Less is more!)

Carefully fill bag with rice.

Stitch the hole closed. (Sorry, I can't give better directions for that—I did what Mom told me to do, but I don't think I can accurately describe it!)

To use your bag, heat it in the microwave in 30-second increments until it's as warm as you'd like.


Note: This really was my April craft, and I did everything up to the rice part in April. It just took me a while to get my essential oils, so I finished in May.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

need a saturday morning laugh?

So true! My favorite line: Do you wanna be Jim & Pam, or do you wanna be Ross & Rachel?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

what's in the mail? 5-17-12 edition

Not too much in the mail these last three weeks. One of my review books seems to be perpetually lost in the mail (it's been sent to me twice, and I still don't have it!), and another was originally sent out to the wrong mailing list and should arrive next week.

Kellogg's Frosted Mini-Wheats Little Bites Flavored Cinnamon Roll, 15.8-Ounce (Pack of 4)
I got this through Vine. I'm not exaggerating when I say this is some of the best cereal I've ever tasted. I love it! It has a really great cinnamon punch—I always use more cinnamon than is called for in recipes because I love the flavor so much, and this cereal has the perfect amount! You can see my review here.

Glamorous Illusions: A Novel by Lisa T. Bergren
Lisa Tawn Bergren wrote some of the first romance novels I ever read. (Anyone remember the Palisades line? It's hard to even find anything about it on the internet ... here's a list of Palisades books I found on Goodreads. I've read most of them!) I absolutely loved her "Full Circle" series—Refuge, Firestorm, Torchlight, etc.—and I really enjoyed the "Northern Lights" series when I read them a couple years ago. Anyway, Glamorous Illusions will release June 1, and I'm on the Litfuse tour. Set in 1913, it's about a young woman who goes on a "Grand Tour" of Europe after learning a secret about her heritage. Sounds good to me!

Waiting for Morning by Karen Kingsbury
Can you believe I've never read this book? Me either! A Moment of Weakness, the sequel to Waiting for Morning, was the first Kingsbury book I ever read. I think I may have checked Waiting for Morning out of the library and flipped through it, but I'm certain I never actually read it from beginning to end because I already knew how it was going to turn out. But since it's been a good ten years since I read A Moment of Weakness, I can barely remember what happened in that book, let alone in this one! I'm very excited to read it now! I got this book through Blogging for Books.

Dawn Comes Early by Margaret Brownley
This is another Vine pick. I'd never heard of Brownley before, but I thought I'd give it a shot! (Another of Brownley's books, A Long Way Home, is free for Kindle right now.)

Flame of Resistance by Tracy Groot
This book doesn't release until tomorrow, but I got a copy through Tyndale's blogger program. I knew I wanted to read this book as soon as I learned it was set during World War II. It looks to be full of suspense, intrigue, and romance!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received these products free in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review and received no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

"beyond hope's valley" giveaway information

About the book: After an extended stay in Montana, where Amish traditions are different than in her home state, Marianna Sommer returns to Indiana for two reasons, first to help her brother and his girlfriend prepare for a baby and their wedding. Second, to plan her own wedding to Aaron Zook -- a marriage she’s been dreaming about ever since childhood. And yet, although she had missed the idyllic farms and families of her upbringing, Marianna is surprised that Indiana is somehow making her long now for Montana.

As months pass, secrets that were hidden in winter’s frozen grasp thaw and take on a life of their own. The truths about a child, about a past relationship, and about God’s plans are being revealed. Walking through a valley of questions, Marianna must hold on to hope as she decides where and with whom her heart truly belongs.

My take: Unfortunately, I haven't been able to read Beyond Hope's Valley yet. My book is apparently taking a circuitous route to me, and I haven't received it yet. I am greatly anticipating reading it, though, as it is part of my favorite Amish series ever.  I read and reviewed books one and two last fall, and I have no doubt I'll love this book, the conclusion of the series, just as much!

See what other bloggers are saying here or buy the book here.

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 and

About the giveaway: Win a Custom Amish Prize Pack from @TriciaGoyer in her Beyond Hope's Valley Giveaway! RSVP for All Things Amish Party {5/21}! 
Celebrate with Tricia and enter to win a custom-made Amish Wall hanging in the colors of your choice ... and much more!

One fortunate winner will receive: 
  •  Custom Amish Wall Hanging {You choose the colors!} 
  • An Amish Doll {Sweet.} 
  • Amish-made basket {It’s picnic season!} 
  • Doilies, potholder and an Amish cookbook {All items form Bird-in-Hand, PA!} 
  • Three book Big Sky Amish series {Be swept away by this captivating series.} 

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on May 20th. Winner will be announced at "All Things Amish" Author Chat Facebook Party on 5/21. Tricia will be hosting an author chat (on Facebook and Live from her website) and giving away books, gift certificates and more! 

So grab your copy of Beyond Hope's Valley and join Tricia on the evening of the May 21st for a fun chat, trivia contest (How much do you know about the Amish?) and lots of giveaways. (If you haven't read the book - don't let that stop you from coming!)
Enter via E-mail Enter via Facebook Enter 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 21st!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I will hopefully receive this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."