Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Stars Collide - A Review

Kat Jennings and Scott Murphy are the leads on the popular sitcom Stars Collide. On the show, they play a couple in love. But, there's a secret - they're not just in love on the show, they really are head over heels for each other in real life. As the pair struggle to keep their real life romance out of the pages of the Hollywood gossip magazines, they discover that sometimes it's ok to let life happen.

This is the first book in the Backstage Pass series. I'd read the third one a while back and loved it. Even though I already knew the ending, I still enjoyed going back and seeing how Kat and Scott actually got together. Filled with hilarious supporting cast members and antics, I laughed and laughed while reading this book.

I read the Kindle edition for pure pleasure. If the book is still free, I highly recommend downloading it.

Recommended to fans of romantic comedy, Denise Hunter, Mary Connealy.

Rating - 4 stars

Monday, October 29, 2012

A Year in the Life of a Hogwarts Student - The Letter

Ok, so on the Harry Potter site I'm a member of, we are currently going through a challenge called "The Year in the Life of a Hogwarts Student." Which means I get to go to Hogwarts! Of course, someday I'll go visit the theme park in Florida, but for now, I'm going to share my entries. The way this will work will be I tell you the prompt we were given and then my entry. These are supposed to be anonymous, so for my friends who follow my blog here and are also members of the site, remember you know nothing. ;)

The first task was call the Letter. Here's the prompt we were given.

You have received a letter from Hogwarts. The first challenge you face is to write a story about what your reaction would be. Are you surprised, because as a Muggleborn you have no clue what´s happening? Excited because your whole family has already been at Hogwarts?
Tell us if you are a Muggleborn like Hermione or a member of a magical family like Ron. That’s the only requirement. Oh and no visits to Diagon Alley as of yet please

  • Number of words: between 850-1050
  • Entries should be anonymous, so don't use any identifying elements in your story.
 And here is my entry.

Dear Diary,
Summer. My time to sleep in. At least usually. That so was not the case this morning. What happened? Well, it was like this…

I’d stayed up entirely too late last night reading and so I was tired. I sure wasn’t expecting to be woken up by Mom shrieking. Yes SHRIEKING!  Needless to say, I bolted out of bed and ran down the stairs. Mom was in the corner of the kitchen, near the stove, just pointing at some thing. I looked in the direction she was pointing and there flying around the open window was an OWL. I stood in the doorway for a second and watched it. Anytime it flew near Mom, she screeched and the owl was so startled it flew into the wall opposite of her. I stifled a chuckle while wondering why a nocturnal creature like an owl was in my kitchen in the morning.

“Do something,” Mom begged as it came in her direction again. This time, I noticed something attached to its leg.

“Alright,” I said as I shook myself fully awake and walked into the kitchen. Owls don’t really bug me. Intrigue me yes, but scare me – no. Now if it had been a snake on the other hand, I’d not go within 10 feet of it!

The owl noticed me as I walked into the kitchen. It flew over towards me and held out its leg. I looked at it in confusion. What did it want me to do?

“Poor guy,” I murmured to it as I reached out to untie what I could now tell was some sort of document. “Is this hurting you? There you go. Does that feel better?” I promise the owl looked at me like I was insane as I took untied the document. Once it was free, it flew straight out the open window.

“Well what is it,” Mom asked once it was gone.

“It’s some sort of document,” I replied turning it over in my hands. Then I noticed it. My name written on it in bold letters. Complete with my address and the words “kitchen doorway.”

“I think it’s a letter. It’s addressed to me,” I told her as I looked up.

“That’s a strange way to send a letter,” Mom replied as she placed a platter of chocolate chip pancakes on the table in front of my place.

“Yes, it is,” I agreed while absentmindedly drowning the pancakes in butter. I opened the letter and started to read it out loud.

“Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardy… some person and a bunch of what looks like titles…We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardy.
What? Mom, it’s telling me that I’ve been asked to go to a school for witchcraft. I don’t understand.”

I looked up at Mom in confusion. “I thought that magic only existed in the books I read and in fairy tales. How is this possible?”

Mom was silent for a few minutes before she looked up. “I’ve never told you about your father. He died long before you were born. In fact, we’d only been married just a short time, a few months really, when he died.”

“Ok,” I said, trying to understand. “What does Dad have to do with why I’ve been accepted into a school of witchcraft?”

“I’ll try to explain what I know,” she replied gently. “I met your father during my last year of college. I was with one of my girlfriends at a club. She dared me to go over and talk to the man at the bar with the t-shirt that had some strange rock band’s name on it. I’d noticed him when he entered the club as there was something about him that stood out, even from across the room. I accepted her dare. He was very charming. And I loved his accent. So I asked him if he was here in the States on vacation or as a student. He told me that it was a bit of both. A vacation before enrolling as an exchange student at the same college I was attending. We talked for hours that night. When it was time to leave, he asked me when he’d see me again. I gave him the name of my dorm and told him he could find me there the next day. I got home from my classes the next day and found a bouquet of roses waiting for me. With a note asking me to join him for dinner. I accepted, and that was the start of a whirlwind romance. Within six weeks we were engaged. He knew everything about me. All I knew about him, other than the fact that I loved him to distraction, was that he was British and his name was Kyle. At times, he’d mention something regarding “the Ministry” or “Muggles.” One evening, a few days before he died, he looked at me in all seriousness, and asked me ‘Do you believe in magic?’ I told him that if it’s magic that caused us to meet, then yes I did. He smiled at my response, and we were interrupted by a knock on the door. Kyle went to answer it, and after a hurried conversation, he came back to me. I’d only caught snatches of the rushed conversation. I’d heard things like “Attack. Aurors. Portkey. Immediately.” Kyle told me he had to go. An emergency. And that’d he be home just as soon as he could. He kissed me and then he left. A few days later, I received a letter telling me that my husband had died in an accident.

I haven’t thought of that night really in years. Not until you opened your letter.”

“So what are you telling me, Mom,” I asked.

“I’m saying that magic is real. And your father was a wizard. I know that now. I also know that had he lived, he’d have told us himself. Then neither of us would have been so shocked when that, that owl arrived. So evidently you’re a witch. And that’s why you received the letter.”

A witch! Diary! I could hardly believe it. The father I’d never known was a wizard and magic was real!

So welcome to my fun world. I plan on sharing the entries as I do them. Well at least after the scoring of them is done. This contest is totally just for fun.

The Girl in the Glass - A Review

Meg has longed to go to Florence, Italy since the time she was a child. Over the years of disappointment in her father's promise to take her, Meg has grown into a woman who works for a publisher of travel books. Finally circumstances come together to send Meg to Italy. Only it's not quite the trip she's dreamed of. Searching for her missing father, Meg comes to know a woman, Sofia, who claims to be a direct descendent of the Medici family. Sofia shows Meg the Florence of the long ago Medici princess Nora Orsini, and Meg learns that some things are can't be gray but are black and white. As the stories of Meg, Sofia, and Nora intertwine, Meg learns some important lessons along the way.

This book was beautifully written. Yes it was slow moving at times, but it added to the beauty of it. I felt that I was there in Italy with Meg, Sofia, and Nora as they explored the secrets that Florence has to offer and tell. What I found the most fascinating was the way that Meg learns to accept the black and white along with her gray. She had to face a difficult decision and while making the right choice, she grew up a bit.

This is a perfect book to snuggle up under an warm blanket with a cup of hot tea, coffee, or hot chocolate and get lost in the beauty of Italy.

I received this book for free from the publisher, Waterbrook Multnomah's Blogging for Books program for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended for fans of contemporary fiction, Lynn Austin, Deborah Raney, and Lisa Wingate.

Rating - 4 stars

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Farmer's Daughter - A Review

Dawn Stoltzfus shares the recipes from her recipe box from her days growing up on a Mennonite farm as well as being a restaurant owner. She also includes little stories through out the book that tell a little more about her life. The recipes are simple and hearty.

I've never reviewed a cookbook before. I love cookbooks, though I don't use them as often as I should. I'm not saying that I can't cook, because when I take the time, I can. Most of my cooking is baking. There are several recipes in this book that I am looking forward to trying - Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls and Cinnamon Rolls for example. I have tried a couple of the recipes - Baked Rosemary Chicken and Creamy Hot Cocca.

Here's what I thought about the cookbook in general.

  • Organization - well put together. Sections are easily divided. There was even a simple section that includes things like making a dishwasher rinse agent and laundry soap that I found very helpful.
  • Pictures - there weren't any. I like to see a picture to know what the finished product is supposed to look like.
  • Index - the index isn't broken down by ingredients, but more by title. I think it could have been broken down by subject or even ingredient to be more helpful.
  • Recipes - written in very simple and easy to understand steps. For a non-cooker, that's great. 
Overall, I'm glad to have tried the recipes in the cookbook and I will be using more. This is definitely one cookbook I'll keep!

Rating - 4 stars

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

Find Farmer's Daughter at your local bookstore in October 2012 from Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group. 

Here are pictures of the recipes I tried.

Creamy Hot Cocoa
The hot chocolate was really simple to make. It was so smooth and so yummy! It was a perfect temperature.

Baked Rosemary Chicken
The Rosemary Chicken turned out tender. It was also really yummy. The entire house smelled of rosemary and garlic as it cooked. This recipe called for using a roasting pan covered in foil. I used my Pampered Chef deep dish covered baker and it turned out beautiful.

As part of my review, I am allowed to include one recipe. I am including the Baked Rosemary Chicken.

Baked Rosemary Chicken

1 (3-5 lb) whole roaster chicken
1 small onion (I used yellow)
1 apple (I used a Gala)
2 stalks celery
1/2 cup salted butter (1 stick)
1/4 c fresh rosemary (pull the leaves off of the twigs first) OR 2 Tbs dried rosemary
8 garlic cloves, peeled, sliced thin or minced
1 Tbs seasoned salt
1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 cup water

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Place chicken in baking dish. Chop onion, apple, and celery into large pieces and stuff inside the chicken cavity. Melt butter in a small saucepan, add rosemary, garlic, seasoned salt, pepper, and paprika. Heat through, then remove from heat and pour over top of chicken. Rinse sauce pan with 1/2 cup water and pour water into baking dish. Cover dish with foil and bake 3-3 1/2 hours. Serves 5-6.

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Promise to Love - A Review

Swedish immigrant, Ingrid Larsen, is in Michigan searching for her missing twin brother. With nothing left to lose, she proposes to widowed farmer, Joshua Hunter, in order to ensure that his children aren't taken from him. Josh is still grieving the death of his wife. He doesn't really want a new woman around but she's managed to reunite all five of his children and for that he's very grateful. When circumstances force a temporary separation, Josh ends up finding Ingrid's brother while Ingrid must deal with the struggles of the farm. Will Josh ever be able to let go of his late wife and love the Swedish girl who loves his family and will fight to protect them?

This is the first book I've ever read by Serena Miller. I was quickly drawn into the story of Josh and Ingrid. Ingrid's strength had me astounded at times. I saw that she loved Josh's children  as if they were her own and she would do anything for them. I did feel that Josh could have treated her a little bit better, but he comes around. I mean he wasn't abusive or anything, just really reluctant to share his heart with her. When the book ended, I sighed happily and had to wonder if these characters will appear in a future book by Miller.

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

Availaible in October, 2012 at your local bookstore from Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Recommended to fans of sweet romances, Maggie Brendan, Susan Page Davis, Robin Lee Hatcher

Rating - 4 stars

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Giveaway Winner

Using Random.org to find a winner, the winner is

Sarah Richmond!!!!

Congratulations. I've just emailed you.

I hope to mail all prizes this next Saturday (from last month and this month).

Next month's drawing will be a bundle of Love Inspired Historicals. Haven't decided yet on which ones...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Mark of Athena - A Review

The seven demigods, a mixture of both Greek and Roman, of prophecy are together aboard the magical Argo II and are heading to the ancient lands to defeat the giants. What they don't know is that Gaea will use what ever forces and monsters she can to stop them before reaching the ancient lands. Will the seven learn to work together and use their powers as a team or will their individual powers cause the entire quest to fail?

The third book in the Heroes of Olympus series doesn't disappoint. The book's told in the point of view of four different demigods. What I loved of course was the reunion between Percy and Annabeth. But there were other moments that I loved as well. Watching the demigods realize that working together, they are stronger than on their own because the strengths of one compliment the weaknesses in another. That and they're way more powerful when they work together. The cliffhanger at the end of the book has me eagerly awaiting the 4th book due out next fall.

I read this book for pure pleasure. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommend to fans of Harry Potter, Nicholas Flamel, young adults, Percy Jackson, and those who love Greek/Roman mythology.

Rating - 4 stars

Monday, October 15, 2012


It's time for another giveaway!

Today, I"m giving away Where Lilacs Still Bloom by Jane Kirkpatrick.

Since I just got home, well last night really, from a retreat with my Mary Kay sisters, my question for you is this. Where did you go on your last retreat (church, school, etc)?

Leave a comment answering the question for one entry. Be sure to leave an email address as well - myname(dot)hotmail(dot)com

2nd entry - leave a comment telling me you follow my blog & how.

Gain additional entries by leaving a comment on ANY of my book reviews (see link to the left called BOOK REVIEWS). You can do this daily on any of the reviews.

I'll pick a winner on Sunday Oct 21, 2012 at 9:00 pm Central.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Twice Promised - A Review

 Greta Olsen arrives in Central City, Colorado as mail-order bride. When she steps off the train, she finds out that she's not the only bride for Jess Gifford, his brother, Zach, meets the train, and her prosepctive groom has no idea that he even ordered one bride, let alone two! Both Greta and the other bride, Cora, find themselves being courted by a different brother. Will the women fall for the brother that is courting them? Or will they fall for the one courting the other bride? Will both women get the happy endings and new starts that they long for?

This is book 2 in the Blue Willow Bride Series, and they don't have to be read in order. I'd met Greta on the pages of Deeply Devoted and enjoyed being able to read her story now. While this was a fun, light-hearted read, there were times I was a bit annoyed with the characters, especially when it came to their lack of communication! I'd have to say my favorite character in the book was by far Granny. She's got a lot of spunk and knows how to put her grandsons in their place. Looking forward to reading the third book, Anna's story.

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

Find Twice Promised in October, 2012 at your local bookstore from Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Recommended to fans of tender romances, mail-order bride stories, Lori Wick, Janelle Mowery

Rating - 4 stars

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Twice A Bride - A Review

Talented artist and widow, Willow Peterson is seeking a new life in Cripple Creek, Colorado. She's thrilled to be able to be around her brother, pastor Tucker Raines, his wife, Ida Sinclair Raines, and the other Sinclair sisters. Jobless and still trying to make sense of her life, Willow accepts Ida's offer of a job at the family store, yet she longs to be able to use her talents. Photographer Trenton Van Deer is in need of a skilled artist who can paint portraits from his photographs. When he sees a sample of Willow's work, he knows he's found his artist. A few misunderstandings later, the two begin to work together. They also begin to fall in love. What will happen when Trenton's past collides with his hope for the future?

This  is the fourth and final book in the Brides of Cripple Creek Series, but it easily stands alone. I've not read any of the other books in this series but I fully enjoyed this one. I found the characters to be delightful and fun. I loved the boardinghouse owner, Miss Hattie. She also finally finds love. I will soon be reading the other books in this series just so I can get to know the Sinclair Sisters!

I received the kindle e-book for free from the publisher, Waterbrook/Multnomah's Blogging for Books program for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of Lori Wick, Karen Witemeyer, Susan Page Davis, Denise Hunter, and Tracie Peterson.

Rating - 4 stars

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Love Surrendered - A Review & A Contest Link

Annie Kennedy is a small-town girl who finds herself transplanted to Boston in the middle of her senior year in high school to live with her spinster aunt. She has one purpose - find true love - since it'll fill the void left in her heart by the deaths of her parents. Prohibition agent, Steven O'Connor, thinks Annie is too sweet for her own good. He cautions her stay away from men in the fast crowd she's running with, men like him. Annie finds herself falling hard for Steven, knowing he broke her sister's heart. Will he break hers as well or will Annie's heart be willing to surrender to a love she never expected?

The O'Connor family is back with this final volume in the Winds of Change Series. I've watched Steven grow up from the little boy in Passion Most Pure to the strong confident man he is in Love Surrendered. I have to say, I've become quite attached to this family and didn't want the book to end. Annie is like a breath of fresh air for the bitter Steven. When both of them figure out what it means to be loved by God, I couldn't help cheering. I would love to see more with the O'Connor family.

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

Available in October, 2012 at your local bookstore, from Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Recommended to fans of family drama, Karen Kingsbury fans, historical fiction, Mary Connealy fans.

Rating - 5 stars

Julie has a contest going on right now. I'm thrilled to be able to promote the contest she's got going on.

Just by pre-ordering her Christmas novella, A Light in the Window, and letting her know, you could win a Kindle Fire! Or maybe you'd like to have a character named after you in a future book? All of the details to both contests can be found here.