Sunday, July 29, 2012

Beach Bag Giveaway Winner

I spent the last several days in Dallas at my Mary Kay Seminar. I'll be sharing my thoughts and pictures soon.

After tallying all of the various entries, and I've loved reading your comments, I have a winner of the Beach bag giveaway. I'm so glad to see that so many of you entered!

Congratulations Nicole!! I'm going to email you shortly.

For those of you who love giveaways, my best friend is currently offering a copy of Francine River's Redeeming Love. This giveaway she has will end on August 1. And it's fitting that she's giving it away as our church is in the midst of reading the Bible in a year. You can find the giveaway to the book here on her blog.

I'll do another drawing in August for another book, or book bundle.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Beach Bag Filled up Giveaway

Since summer is the time of vacations, and I leave on vacation early this week, I  decided it was time to do a giveaway. There will be one winner. This winner will receive a box of books to fill up a beach bag or take on vacation. I'm not sure yet what books I'll put in it, but they will all be Christian Fiction.

The above picture is of me and my best friend when I went to visit her in Seattle. Of course that picture was taken at Mt. St. Helens. That trip was one of my favorite vacations. Mainly because I got to spend it with my best friend. Our next trip together will be to Ireland - someday.

To enter, do these things.
  • Leave a comment with your email address telling me your favorite vacation. Also if you tell me your favorite genres I'll try to make sure that I include some of that genre in the box.
  • Second entry - Follow my blog and leave me a comment telling me you follo via (GFC, Networked blogs, email)
  • Third entry - leave a comment on any of my book reviews posts, telling me something about that review. For a quick way to find the reviews, click on the label "Book Reviews". You can gain  multiple entries for this as long as you comment on a different review.
I will pick a winner when I return on the 28th. I will also have limited email access, so I won't be able to reply to comments immediately.

Prizes for May,  and June will be mailed out before I leave. And for those winners, I'm going to toss in a small Mary Kay sample.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Love In Disguise - A Review

Ellie Moore finds herself down to her last pennies and out of a job. In desperation, she seeks a job with the Pinkerton Agency. The only reason they hire her is because of her acting ability. When things quickly go wrong on her first assignment, Ellie's only course of action is to rely on her acting skills and play the roles of both elderly widow and her beautiful, vivacious niece. Steven Pierce is one of the mine owners who have asked the Pinkertons to come and investigate into the silver robberies the owners have been facing. He didn't expect to find a friend in Lavinia or fall for her beautiful niece, Jessie. When the thieves come after both Lavinia and Jessie, Ellie finds herself depending on Steven. What will happen to their budding love when she's got the case wrapped up? Or will she decide that it's time to take on the role she was born to play - that of herself?

This is the first book I've read by Carol Cox. I found that it started out a little slow, but then as the story moved along, it became quite entertaining. I really liked seeing how Ellie managed both roles. But in the process of that, she also found out who she really was and the importance of integrity. I also really liked how Steven was a man who wanted justice done. He'd also protect the people who managed to put themselves in danger. Overall, this was a really pretty good book.

I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

I would recommend this to anyone who likes a light-hearted mystery, Mary Connealy fans, and those looking for adventure in the Wild West.

Rating - 4 stars

Rebel - A Review

Alyn O'Bryne has returned to his homeland after spending the last six years studying in the East. He arrives at Arthur's court to find things in an uproar due to the death of Merlin. Feisty Kella O'Toole, a foster-sister of Alyn's, is the queen's scribe. She's holding a secret that can jeopardize her standing at the Court. When word arrives of an attack on the border guard and her father is missing and her fiance is dead, Kella is determined to do whatever she can to find her father. Alyn agrees to run an errand for the queen - see the Grail genealogies safely delivered to the priestesses of the Grail Church. With the land in an uproar between the Grail and Celtic churches over the teaching of the Roman Church, Alyn comes to realize that God has a far bigger mission for this unworthy priest. Will he heed God's call? And will Kella find the forgiveness that she longs for?

This is the third and final book in the Brides of Alba Series. Like the other two, this one is action packed and filled with lively characters. I had been waiting anxiously for this book to come out and was glad to be able to read it. I love the way that the author makes the history of Britain's early years come to life along with the struggle of the early Christian church. Very similar in nature to her Irish series, Fires of Glennmara, this series looks at Christianity in early Scot/British history.

I recommend this book to those who are intrigued by all things Celtic, fans of historical romance, and Christian fiction.

My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Rating - 5 stars

Monday, July 16, 2012

Atonement Child - A Review

Dynah Carey is a Christian Golden Girl. She's the doted upon only child, engaged to a man who intends to become a pastor, and just has life together. Yet one moment shatters it all. In that one moment, her life is changed by a rape that leads to an unwanted pregnancy. Her dreams are in shatters. Secrets long held in her family are brought to light. Through it all, her family and those she loves encourage her to get an abortion, yet she remains confused and clinging to the One who loves her beyond anything and can bring healing even to the most broken.

This is my favorite book that Francine Rivers has written. I've read it several times. Dynah's faith starts off strong, then wavers, but slowly becomes strong again as she has no choice but to cling to God. She has one friend who doesn't throw stones at her and allows her to make her own decision, and that friend, Joe, truly loves Dynah with a Christlike love. This is a book that offers hope to women who have had abortions, and offers love to women who find themselves in a situation much like Dynah was in.

I reread this book for the Tyndale Summer Reading Program. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommend to - Karen Kingsbury fans, women who have suffered from abortion, fiction lovers

Rating - 5 stars

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

One year into reviewing - My thoughts on my reviews

It’s been a little over a year since I first started reviewing books. I’ve learned quite a lot during this past year. Let me share what I’ve learned and how I like each publisher’s blogging program.
What I’ve Learned
The biggest thing I’ve learned is to keep my reviews short. My first review was really wordy. And I think it was too wordy. Here is my first review. So instead of trying to tell the entire story, I’ll do a brief summary, a paragraph of what I liked/didn’t like about the book. And who I’d recommend it to.
My early reviews also didn’t have me rating them. I saw on another blog that I follow that the author gives each book an xx star out of 5 star rating. So I snagged that idea. I then decided I wanted to add a picture of the stars into my blog post. I googled star images, but didn’t find any I liked. Then I had a brainstorm! I could utilize the drawing tools in Word and make my stars. So I did. I created a new document, drew my stars, filled them with green, and saved the document. My next dilemma – how to save them as a JPEG or GIF file? Another brainstorm – use Paint. So I did. And it was really very simple.
Blog Tours. I’d had no idea what one was before I did my first one for Promise Me This. It’s a book review tour that the publisher sets up on various blogs to promote the book. I really enjoyed being a part of that one. It made it easy on me that I was given a specific date I had to post my review on my blog.
I’ve learned how to schedule posts. If I’ve finished a book, and I’m not allowed to post the review until such and such a date, then not a problem. I just schedule the post to hit my blog on the date I need it to. Kinda nice really. Then all I have to do is go back and copy my review from my blog onto amazon & goodreads.
Best part of reviewing books – I get to keep them! Seriously, I’ve not spent over $500 on books. I’ve also discovered some really great authors that I probably wouldn’t have picked up at the store otherwise. Authors like Jody Hedlund, Regina Jennings, Shannon Dittmoore, Katie Ganshert, Cathy Gohlke, and others. I’ve had so much fun reading new authors or new to me authors.
I’ve discovered it’s fun to reward my followers with a giveaway. I don’t do them often, usually about once a month, and I’m terrible at remembering to mail the prize. But I’m working on that. A lot of the books I’ll give away will be ones I’ve reviewed and I’ve decided to share the book with others. They may books that for whatever weren’t my absolute favorites, or ones that I didn’t loan out to my cousin or my mom or a friend, but I figure that even if I didn’t really enjoy the book, someone else may. I’ve seen a couple of different tools for giveaways. One is This is a random number generator and is really simple to use. Another one I’ve seen, and it tracks entries, is rafflecopter. I’ve not tried it yet, but I’m intrigued by it.
Publisher Blogging Programs
While there may be things I don’t really care for in these programs, I still enjoy the overall program and will continue to be a part of it. These are just my thoughts on the different publisher’s programs. All of the programs require me to post a review on my blog & a retailer’s website. I have also gotten into the habit of posting my reviews on Goodreads. I’m slowly starting to post them on Pintrest, Facebook, Twitter, and Google +.
Blogging for Books – This is the blog program for Waterbrook/Multnomah. It’s pretty easy to understand. I told them what types of books I enjoy, and books that fall into those categories are available for me to review. There are usually both print copies and e-copies of the books. As part of their program, reviews are posted on their site, my personal blog, and a retailer site. I typically post them on amazon.
I’ve read several really good books from Waterbrook/Multnomah. I’ve also read a few that I didn’t care for. The communication is great. If I have any questions at all, I just shoot out an email, and I get a reply really quickly. I like the fact that other readers can rank each review. It’s kinda fun to see the rankings on my reviews when I go and manage my reviews. There are a couple of things I don’t like about the program. One is I can only have one book out at a time. Most of the time that’s a good thing since I always have a TON to read. But there are times when I see two titles and I want to review them both. I also don’t really like Klout. I’ve yet to figure out how Klout increases my reviews, but whatever.
Booksneeze – This is the blog program for Thomas Nelson. Every time I log on to their site, I have a chance to see all of the titles available to review. I love that. I also have found the monthly emails really helpful. They tell me what books are available and what dates they will be released. All I have to do in this program is post my links on their website.
What I don’t like about it, the fiction titles go fast! So in order for me to get the fiction title I want, I either have to stay up til midnight or wake up early. With my needing to leave my home by 6:30 in the mornings to drive in to work, I’ve not yet had the problem of not having any titles I want to review being gone. I also see in their monthly email several titles I’d like to review, but I’m only allowed to request one at a time. So that’s something I don’t really care for on that. I think that I’ve only read 2 books from Thomas Nelson that aren’t “keepers.”
Tyndale Blog Network – This is the program for Tyndale. When I first applied to it, I had to wait a month or so before I was approved to join in. And that’s because I had just started my blog, so I had very few followers. On their site, I post my links to my review on my blog and on Amazon.
I don’t like having to enter a word verification each time I log onto their site to post a review. I’m also not too thrilled with links must be approved before I can request another title. I’ve gotten 4 books so far through this program. The one nonfiction one I’ve gotten has been passed around to some of my Mary Kay sisters. What I’ve liked about this program is that the books have been really pretty good. Each of the four are by authors I’d not read (or have read very little from). So I’m exposed to new authors.
Bethany House Publishers – This is one that I get an email anytime there are books available and I am allowed to select one per email. So I typically have 2 or 3 books from them out at a time. I’m part of both their contemporary fiction & historical fiction groups.
With the exception of one book, I’ve really enjoyed each and every one I’ve reviewed for Bethany House. Once I’ve read the book, I send an email to Bethany House and enclose my links. What I wish was better is the communication between the editor and myself. I may email to ask a question, and I don’t really get a response.
Revell Books – This is the program for Revell Books, a division of Baker Book House. This is an invitation only program. I’ve only been doing this one since May, and I love it. I get an email each time that there is a blog tour. I’m given a chance to participate in it. If I don’t want to, then I don’t reply to the email.
What I love the most about this, is like Bethany House, I can have more than one book out at a time. I also like being given a specific date range in which I must post my review. This makes me actually read the book by that date. Once I have my review posted, I send an email to them and enclose my links. The communication has been great. Any time I’ve had questions, I shoot out an email, and I get a reply within a couple of days.

Overall, I’ve loved being a part of these review programs. And I’ve had several authors stop by my blog too. It’s rather fun. I look forward to what the next year brings as far as books.

Some of friends have also started to ask me to review this book or that book. I don't have a problem doing that as long as they are aware that it may take me a bit to get to those books.
*There are links to the publishers websites and review programs on the page called "Publishers I Review For."

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Fools Rush In - A Review

Bella Rossi has taken over her family's wedding business. She's busy planning her first themed wedding - a Boot Scootin' Wedding. Between knowing nothing about cowboys, Western decor, and country music, she's got her work cut out for her. Add into the mix her pasta-loving Italian family, a bird that needs to be reformed, an ex-boyfriend who hasn't figured out she's moved on, and a handsome cowboy that makes her melt, she's starting to wonder if she's taken on more than she can handle. But evidently God has a sense of humor as He gently shows Bella all her worries are for naught.

After reading one of Janice Thompson's Backstage Pass series, I knew I had to read this one. Especially since I'd gotten it as a free Kindle download. This book is hilarious. I felt at times that Bella's family was straight out of one of the Italian mafia movies, only in a good way. I'll be quickly adding the rest of the series onto my reading pile.

I read the Kindle edition when it was a free download.

Rating - 4 stars

If this book is still free on the Kindle and you've not gotten it yet, I highly recommend it. I haven't laughed this hard in a long time.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Prophet - A Review

Ela of Parne loves the Infinite. When He calls her to become His prophet, she doesn't refuse. With her sister, she sets out to follow the will of the Infinite. When she's thrown into prison for speaking the Word, she meets a young Tracelander, Kein Lantec, and they form an unlikely partnership. He is one of the few she's come into contact with that actually seeks the Infinite. Ela knows that prophets die young. Will her fate be death at seventeen or will the Infinite in His mercy have other plans for her and Kein?

It's hard to break into Christian fantasy. Yet, I feel that R. J. Larson has written a novel that does just that - break into Christian fantasy with a fresh voice. Early into the book, around the third page, I was captivated. My personal favorite character Was Ela's destroyer horse, Pet. The way that Pet protected her and was reluctant to let her out of his sight was quite funny. Even when Pet had been ordered to obey Kein. I recognized several Old Testament prophets and their stories in Ela's story. One thing that I picked up on, was that Ela understood the depths of her Creator's love. And she realized that she was worthless without Him.

I'm looking forward to book 2, Judge.

I recommend this book to Christian fantasy fans, fans of JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis, Brandon Sanderson, and fantasy lovers everywhere.

I received this book for free from the publisher, Bethany House, for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Rating - 4 stars

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Gifted - A Review

Jessamine Brady has spent the majority of her life in the quiet Shaker village. Her natural curiosity about life and the things of the world are considered sinful. When she happens to save the life of a man of the world, her entire foundation is questioned. Tristan Cooper is running from a future he's not sure of when he wakes up in the Shaker village. Drawn by their quiet ways, he uses the time to think about his life and the direction it's taking. A startling revelation from a forgotten letter set events into motion that Jessamine is helpless to stop. Will she find the love and happiness that she longs for or will she learn to be content in the village where she's grown up in?

I have never read anything by Ann Gabhart before or about the Shakers. While I did have some trouble wrapping my head around some of the Shaker beliefs, I allowed myself to get immersed into the story. Jessamine's curiosity about the world parallels Tristan's search for answers. They both long to be free. She to use her imagination and he to live his own life. There is a refrain that the Shakers sing at their meetings that is the biggest theme of the book - the gift to be free and the gift to be simple. Both Jessamine and Tristan come to understand those gifts in their own way. I especially loved the secondary character of Sister Sophrena and her journal entries. Through her we see the struggle that Jessamine goes through. Overall this was a very good book and I'll probably try to find the others in the series to read.

I received this book for free from Revell publishers for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

The Gifted is available in July, 2012 from your favorite bookseller courtesy of Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Rating - 4 stars