Monday, August 26, 2013

On Distant Shores - A Review

Flight nurse Lt. Georgie Taylor is serving overseas in North Africa and Italy during WWII. She followed her best friend, Rose, into the program despite the objections from her family and long time boyfriend. When she meets Sgt John Hutchinson, Hutch to all who know him, they strike up a friendship. Hutch has a degree in pharmacy and serving as a pharmacist in the 93rd Evac Hospital. Even though he has a degree, he's only an enlisted man and not an officer. He longs for two things - the war to be over so he can marry his fiance and to be an officer in the Pharmacy Corp. As their friendship develops, they both fight the attraction to each other and vow to remain true to their loved ones at home. When a tragedy sends Georgie and the other nurses in the 802nd back home, she discovers that her parents and boyfriend want her to quit the program. While she's home, Hutch also receives devastating news from home as well. Will Georgie find the strength she needs to fly again? Will Hutch learn to let go of things he'd planned for himself and to walk this new path before him? And will these two broken hearts be able to find happiness together?

When I first met Georgie in With Every Letter, I loved her. I was thrilled to be able to read her story and get into her head. I absolutely loved this book! Through the pain of broken hearts and crushed dreams, both Georgie and Hutch had to learn to let go and let God. I loved how their surrenders happen. I found the other characters to be engaging as well. Plus it was nice to catch up with Mellie and Tom from With Every Letter. Next summer cannot come soon enough to read the final book in this series and get to know Kay Jobson better!

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

Recommended to fans of WWII, Sarah Sundin, Francine Rivers, Julie Lessman

Rating - 5 stars

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Giveaway - Welcome to Last Chance

Happy Sunday morning everyone. Today, I'm going to giveaway a print copy of the novel Welcome to Last Chance. I really enjoyed this book.

To enter, leave a comment answering this question - Tell me about a time when your car broke down and you were stranded somewhere.

For me, I won't ever forget the time when my car battery died while I was at work. It happened to be on an evening in December and it was snowing! Snowing in Houston, doesn't happen all that often. Anyway,  thankfully, I had a co-worker who hadn't left yet who not only lived on my side of town, but he was able to bring me home. Then the next day, I bought a battery and lugged it to work in a suitcase and had one of the guys who work with me change it for me.

Additional Entries
  1. leave a separate comment telling me you follow my blog and how.
  2. Leave a comment on any of my book reviews from 2013 (one entry per comment) and come back to this post and a leave a comment telling me which ones you commented on.

Ends on Saturday Aug 31. I can only ship US.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Icing on the Cake - A Review

Scarlet Lindsay's dreams are coming true. Her bakery is booming in it's new location on Galveston's popular street. Her best friend is getting married and Scarlet is planning a dream cake. She's also the baker that Bella Neely consistently recommends to her brides. So everything is great right? And what could go wrong? A lot evidently. First an Italian heartthrob, Bella's brother Armando, breezes into town and melts Scarlet's heart. Then there's her overbearing Aunt Willy. Oh and a cake competition on the Food Network. Plus the troubled teen at Scarlet's church and the talent show. Will Scarlet figure out that sometimes God's plan is better than all of hers?

I've read quite a few books by Janice Thompson and each one has been a delight. They always make me laugh. With Icing on the Cake, readers are introduced to a delicious bakery - if I could gain weight just by reading, then I've probably gained 10 pounds - where the owner, Scarlet, is very self conscious about her body image. She thinks she's fat. One thing that I ABSOLUTELY loved about Armando was that he never saw Scarlet as fat. In fact, he worked hard to build her image up. As always, the gang from Splendora is a treat to reconnect with. As is the large Rossi family. Filled with humor and lessons of learning to not judge and to trust (to name a few), Icing on the Cake will delight readers. I always know I'm in for a treat when I read one of these chick lit books. I am eagerly awaiting the third book in the series.

I received the Kindle copy of this book for free from Revell Books via NetGalley for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of Janice Thompson, chick lit, romantic comedy, romantic comedy movies like Legally Blonde, Sweet Home Alabama, Never Been Kissed, Mary Connealy, Becky Wade, Rachel Hauck

Rating - 4 stars

Available August 2013 at your local bookstore from Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Welcome to Last Chance - A Review

When Lainie Davis's car breaks down in the small town of Last Chance, New Mexico, all she wants to do is find a way to get out of this small town where the people's hearts are huge and they truly care. Lainie has never experienced the love that the small community shows her. She's a bit unnerved by it to be truthful. Yet the longer she remains in Last Chance, she begins to think that maybe she has been given a second chance.

This is the debut book by Cathleen Armstrong and I found it to be a very quick read. I found myself feeling for Lainie when her car broke down. Having had my own car coast into the repair shop before, I understood what she went through. I loved how she had to come to a point where she could not only accept the love of the people of the town, but also had to surrender to God. I'm looking forward to more books by this author.

I received the paperback for free from Revell books for the purpose of reviewing. I later bought the Kindle edition.

Recommended to fans of contemporary fiction, Irene Hannon's contemporary romances, Susan May Warren, Katie Ganshert

Available in August 2013 at your local bookstore from Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Rating - 4 stars

Monday, August 12, 2013

Governess of Highland Hall - A Review

Julia Foster has returned to England to help care for her ailing father after twelve years of serving as missionary in India. She takes the position of governess at the nearby Highland Hall where she finds that not only will Sir William Ramsey's young children be in her care, but she will be responsible for educating his young teenage cousins in the social graces to prepare them for Seasons in London. Julia quickly falls for all of her charges, and finds herself drawn to the master as well.  Her position as governess puts her as neither family or servant. Will she allow herself to act on the feelings of love she feels to the Master of the House? Or will Sir William deny his own feelings for the young governess and marry a wealthy American heiress to pull Highland Hall out of the financial mess it is in?

This is the first book I've ever read by Carrie Turansky. There were parts that had me very much engaged and engrossed in the story. Maybe it's the time period it was set in, but it felt that the characters, specifically William and Julia, were a bit stiff. I thought that Julia lived her faith out in her actions, but to me she came across as a little too perfect. And William needed to learn to soften up. Maybe that's why I enjoyed his interactions with the children and his sister. I LOVED his sister Sarah. I loved that Sarah just needed a little encouragement to blossom and to grow. The subplot of some of the servants doing all they can to make Julia leave was something I'd have liked to have seen developed a bit more. Overall, though I really did enjoy this book. It was a quick read that I read on lunch while at work.

I received this book for free from the Waterbrook/Multnomah's Blogging for Books program. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of Downtown Abbey, Regency romances, Julie Klassen

Rating - 4 stars - I really did enjoy it. And my issues with it didn't distract me from enjoying the story.

Please rank my review.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Misery Loves Company - A Review

Juliet Belleno has rarely left her home since her police officer husband was murdered in the line of duty a couple years ago. She spends most of her time on her blog and Facebook page. When she runs into her favorite author at the grocery store, she's thrilled to be able to talk to him. And that's the last thing that she remembers until she wakes up in a strange room. Why is she here? The bigger question is where is she? And why does the man who is holding her insist that she has something to learn? Sergent Chris Downey is determined to find her. After all he promised his best friend and her late husband he'd look after Jules. But as the clues to her whereabouts lead to seemingly dead end after dead end, Chris uncovers some information about Jason's death that has him more determined to find Jules. But the clock is ticking. For all involved.

It's been a while  since I read a book written by Rene Gutteridge. I'd forgotten how suspenseful her books are. This one literally kept me guessing throughout. I wasn't sure how Jules's kidnapping would connect with Chris's investigation and I sure didn't see the way that they connect coming! Juliet had to learn some painful lessons including how to fully trust God. I won't giveaway the reasons she was kidnapped or who kidnapped her, but trust me  when I say this is a book worth reading!

I received this the Kindle edition of this book for free from Tyndale House Publishers via NetGalley for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of suspense, mysteries, thrillers, Colleen Coble, Steven James, DiAnn Mills

I also read this as part of the Tyndale Summer Reading Program.

Rating - 4.5 stars. Which I'll round up to 5 stars.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Snow on the Tulips - A Review

With the Netherlands still occupied by the Nazis, war widow Cornelia  is just a shell of who she was before the war. She really just wants the war to be over and her brother to be able to come out of hiding. When her brother sneaks out one evening and returns home with an injured Dutch Resistance member, Cornelia doesn't want to help him. But she can't turn him away. As she nurses Gerrit back to health, she finds herself drawn to him. Yet can she bring herself to love someone who is involved in such a dangerous profession as the Resistance?

This is the first book I've ever read by Liz Tolsma. I did read it in about 2 days mainly because of the way the suspense built up. I'll be honest. I skimmed large sections of print because it was too wordy. Corrie struggled with her faith. She truly didn't understand how God would take her husband from her. Yet through her grief, Gerrit's gentleness wakened her heart to love again. Other characters came across as being a bit more shallow despite the fact that the author tried to give them depth. Did I like the book? Well yes I did? I enjoy WWII books, but I'm really mixed on this one. But if this type of story appeals to you, you may just love it. It was based on a true story.

I received this book for free from Thomas Nelson's Booksneeze program for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of WWII, Sarah Sundin, Susan May Warren, Anne Frank, Corrie Ten Boom

Rating - 3 stars - the story was good and I did enjoy it, but I felt that there was something off about it and couldn't put my finger on it.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Rescue Team - A Review

Kate Callison is the interim Emergency Director at Austin Grace Hospital. Wes Tanner is a member of the local search and rescue team. When he follows an ambulance after a rescue to Austin Grace, he had no idea that he would play a part in a tragedy involving a Baby Doe. The baby's death shakes the ER and all those involved. For Kate, it brings up buried secrets. For Wes, it stirs up long held anger at the mother who abandoned him as a child. With the ER staff not trusting Kate, and Kate herself holding herself aloof from her staff, the staff will need to figure out how to work together as a team to face the backlash of the baby's tragic death. Kate also finds herself drawn to Wes and the Tanner family. Will their love of God finally break through her walled heart?

This is the first book I've ever read by Candace Calvert and it's the second in the Grace Medical Series. The good thing is that the books stand alone, so I wasn't completely lost. I'll admit that it took me about a month to read this book as it didn't really hold my interest. There would be times I'd read it and be engrossed, but then there were times when I was easily distracted with it and would open another book on the Kindle and read it instead. I don't think that has anything to do with the actual storyline of the book, only my own interests and moods at the times I was reading it.

I loved loved loved the way that Kate came to recognize that even though she'd done some pretty awful things, the God that Wes and the Tanners loved, would still love her and that it wasn't too late for her. Forgiveness is a big theme in the book, and how the characters learn to forgive each other as well as themselves. The fast-paced ER setting reminded me of some of the medical TV shows. I did frequently gloss over all of the medical details, but still found the book to be enjoyable. I'll probably read more of this author.

I read this book for pure pleasure as part of the Tyndale Summer Reads program. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of medical dramas, Lynette Eason, suspense

Rating - 3.5 stars. I struggled with my rating. The book didn't grip me. But it didn't bore me either. In my opinion, it's really more of 3.75 star book. I'll round up to 4 stars.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

A Princess, a Queen, and a Lady of the Realm

Yes, you did just read that title correctly. No, this isn't a book review (for once). Let me tell you about my journey of becoming a princess, a queen, and a lady of the realm. There will be pictures peppered throughout. :)

I just returned from Dallas for my Mary Kay Seminar. This year (in September), the company is celebrating their 50th anniversary, so Seminar was a bigger than usual party this year. What is Seminar? Well the best way to describe it is as the Oscars, a Miss America pageant, a Broadway show, and prom all rolled into one. Well that's really more Awards Night. But Seminar is the awards celebration for the Mary Kay sales force. It's where diamond rings are handed out. It's where dreams are born. It's where secrets are revealed. It's 3 and a half days of education and recognition.

My first Seminar experience was in 2010. And I took the tour of the Mary Kay Corporate and the factory. I'd never experienced something like that before. Mary Kay is a completely different culture. It's hard to really explain it. But, I digress. Let me tell you about this year.

I typically head up to Dallas a day early. I'm more rested and can have more fun. This year, I stopped at my cousin's in Waco the day before I needed to be in Dallas. It's always such fun to visit with Sharon and her family. In fact, one of the boys insisted that Sharon, Danika, and I play Disney Trivial Pursuit with him. Danika and I were on one team and Sharon and Tanner on the other. I've got to say that Danika and I did pretty good - especially on the categories relating to Disney movies we'd not seen (and I've seen A LOT!). Still it was a lot of fun. I then headed out to drive on into Dallas the next morning. It's only about a 2 hour drive from Waco into Dallas. I wanted to be there when registration opened at 10am to get my packet and start enjoying Seminar.

My invitations
So I'm there, in line, when my director Laura and her husband Glen arrived. I join them in line. I go and pick up my packet. Inside my packet there was a name badge ribbon - a blue ribbon that said I'd achieved
Sapphire level as a 4 quarter star. There were also two invitations in my packet as well. The first was to the All-Star Prize Party and the second one was to the Go-Give Area Reception for earning Princess Court. I'd never had invitations to special functions in my packet before. I was so excited. Of course we also got free product as well (part of the new Fall/Holiday line of the Fairy tales & Fantasy Collection and the new on-the-go set of the Clearproof Acne System).

Me & Laura in line at Registration
I've got to say. It's pretty special to be able to hang out with your director and her husband all by myself without having to share her with the other consultants. And that's what happened. Roxanne and her car load decided to take the tour of the Company, and Gwen and Lois were taking their time in coming up. So I spent the day with Laura and Glen. Which worked out really well since we had to be back at the Convention Center by 4:30 that evening for the Reception.

So Laura, Glen, and I head over to the Prize Area. I actually heard the woman checking invitations tell people who didn't have an invitation to step to the left, but she waved us on in. I had no clue what to expect in this prize lottery. I knew I'd basically be spinning a wheel and whatever it landed on would be my prize. But it wasn't quite like I'd imagined it.
Typing in my ID
There were computer terminals (sorta) where we typed in our consultant number and hit Enter. Then whatever prize popped up on the screen was the prize you got. There were handbags, jewelry, electronics, and more. They ranged in price from $20-$400. So I typed in my number and hit Enter. Up popped the Dooney & Burke red handbag. My first thought was "it's another purse." Then when it was handed to me, I saw that the price tag was still on it. It was a $338.00 hand bag! I've never owned something that expensive! I'd NEVER have bought myself one either. I took a picture of it with my phone and it quickly found it's way onto Facebook. Talk about a Cinderella prize. And that was only the beginning!
Laura & I with our prizes

That evening, I dressed up and headed out with Glen & Laura to the Go-Give Reception. I've never earned a special function before, so it was rather special.
Going into the Reception
When we got there, our invitations were checked and we were ushered into two lines. One for Princess Court and one for earning a National Court. We were handed a GORGEOUS necklace and earring set.
Our Necklace & Earring Sets
Then we got to eat finger foods and chocolate! Oh was there chocolate! Yummy cookies and pastries. Then we got early entry into the Awards seating. So we were able to snag a table and wait for the other ladies from our unit to join us.

Right before 6, they called for all Princesses, which I'm one, to line up and we would get to walk across stage! Are you kidding me? A stage walk?! Just for doing our job?! Well, yes, that's how Mary Kay works. Success is celebrated. So I took part in my first ever stage walk. Afterwards, Laura met me at the edge of the stage and she asked me how it felt. I told her that it was a little nerve wracking to walk across stage and be cheered on, but it was fun.
My First Stage Walk!
She told me that it's not much further to do Court of Sales as I'd done over $20,000 in retail (Court of Sales is $36,000). And honestly, it's a bit more believable now. It doesn't seem as hard.

The next night, our unit went to Medieval Times. This is a restaurant and a show. Did I mention it all takes place inside a castle? Oh and you eat your entire meal with your hands - there are no utensils! Our dress code for the evening was pink and black. Pink shirts and black capris, jeans, or skirts. We had our group photo taken with the Royal Falconer and the Falcon. We each were given a copy of it. Then we had to quickly do our unit awards so that the Queen would be read to be knighted by the King of the Castle. Having earned Princess Court and already being a Princess, it was no surprise to anyone in the unit that I was our unit Queen of Sales. My total sales for the year was $20,065.00. Which is by far the highest I'd ever achieved. So I was also Most Improved. All because something clicked in my brain last year. I remembered the words one of my sister consultants told me during my first year "The Company will do all sorts of contests throughout the year. Just focus on being a Star every quarter and you'll hit the Company Contests." So I did. I also learned to not watch the scoreboard to see where I was at but instead to track my progress.

Being Knighted!
Anyway, back to Medieval Times. The announcer called for me, and all of the Foxy Ladies ran over to the place where the Knighting Ceremony was taking place. I had on my crown, my sash, my feather boa, and the fun ring my director had given me. I was asked to kneel on the red velvet pillow, and the Royal Adviser draped a cape over my shoulders,   pulled my hair out to lay over the cape's collar, and face the King. The King had his sword and he talked about chivalry and honor before he touched first my right shoulder, then  my left, and finally my head with his sword. He announced to all there that I was knighted as a Lady of the Realm and Queen of my area. It really is hard to put into words all that I felt at that moment. It was awe-inspiring I guess is the best way to say it.
My Photo with the King & Lady of the Realm

We were then given permission to wander about the Castle until we were called for dinner. The feast itself was delicious. Soup & bread. Chicken, BBQ rib, and potato. Finished with an Apple Tart. All of which we ate while watching the tournament. The knights jousted, competed in sword fights, and everything that you'd imagine with a Medieval Tournament. We even got to see the falcon soar. It was a little funny each time that the bar tender came and asked for drink orders. He'd do a gentleman's bow and call me "My Lady." At one point he asked if I'd gotten a flower yet, when I shook my head no, he handed me one. As he moved on, Laura leaned over and said "He either thinks you're cute or is hoping for a large tip." I laughed as I replied, "Well it still won't change the fact that I won't be ordering any drinks from him." It was truly a magical evening.

I wore my crown through the rest of Seminar. On Friday when I got back to my hotel, I'd made arrangements with a friend who has a ministry to the homeless in Dallas to swing by and pick up a box of things I'd brought with me to donate. She wasn't able to meet me, so she sent someone who worked with her to the hotel to pick up the box. When her friend called me and asked how he'd recognize me, I told him that I have blonde hair, would be wearing a black skirt, white blouse, a purple sash, and a crown.
Foxy Ladies on Awards Night!
He was like ok. When I got home, I texted my friend to make sure that she'd gotten the box. She said yes and let me know that her friend said he'd never picked up donations from someone wearing a tiara before! We had a good laugh about it. I even wore the crown home. I stopped at Buc-ee's in Maidsonville on the way home for gas and to stretch. I had some of the funnest comments while I was there. "Is it your birthday?" "Every woman needs a tiara." And my favorite, "Look Mommy! A Princess!" Seminar was a wonderful experience and I am already looking forward to next year.

I set some goals for myself this year. First goal - be a four quarter star again. I'm already on my way to that one as I've just finished my Sapphire Star for this first quarter! Second goal - move into my red jacket. I'm ready to team build. So in order to team build, I need to find people who are interested in the company, or who may know someone who would be great at selling lipstick! So my readers, if you or someone you know may be good at this, contact me for more information. Third goal - go on target for my car.
Diamond Ring
My car is currently being held together on a wing, a prayer, and duct tape. Yup duct tape. Or at least that's what it feels like. In order for me to earn my car, I have to have a team. And you and your team work together to earn the car. Fourth goal - and it's scary to put this out there - earn Court of Sales. But I realize it's only $16,000 more in retail than what I did last year. And I was over halfway done with it this past year. Besides I'd love to earn a diamond ring.