Saturday, January 31, 2015

Saturday Scribbles Vol 5

Welcome friends to another edition of Saturday Scribbles. It's where I just talk. About whatever.

Today, one of the sweetest little girls I know turns four years old. I'm blessed that I've been able to dote on her like an aunt since the day she was born.

But in honor of it being her birthday, I figured it'd be fun to talk about birthdays and birthday parties.

My birthday is at the end of November. Which means that it typically falls around Thanksgiving. Growing up, I had typical birthday parties with cakes my mom made and decorated to be a certain theme. I remember a Barbie one one year. Another year there was horses. I'm sure that I had a Sesame Street one one year. My mom has photo albums chronicling the birthday parties my brother and I had growing up.

My oldest cousin and I share a birthday. So family gatherings at Thanksgiving typically included birthday presents for us both. I'd get toys, games, books (because we all know I LOVE to read), and various other things for my birthday as I grew up.

Even now, I get to pick the restaurant that my family will eat at. It's typically Gringo's because of the free meal we can get. And I get presents. Of course now, I don't always celebrate my birthday on my birthday with my family. There have been years when I was in college that I'd be traveling back up to school over my birthday weekend. There have been years I've been in school on my birthday. But it still gets remembered.

One memorable one was the surprise party my mother planned with my high school drama teacher for my 18th birthday. I seriously still don't have a clue as to how she and my teacher managed to keep it from me. But she did and it was a lot of fun. The year that I was teaching, my now sister-in-law (though at the time she was my brother's girlfriend) came up to the school with a BEAUTIFUL bouquet of flowers she had put together for me. Another year, my family decided to go chop a Christmas Tree down on my birthday. In that case, it was probably the only Saturday we could go before Christmas.

The Zoo trip was two weeks before my birthday.
This year's birthday was pretty fun. I turned 37 this year. My mom had gone to Waco for a big family Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday the 29th and my brother and sister-in-law were out of town for Thanksgiving. I wasn't able to attend because I had guests coming to a skin care class that Saturday at our training center. Plus I was responsible for providing breakfast that day at it. So my birthday was on Sunday the 30th. I already knew I was going to my best friend's house for lunch that day. Her kids are almost 9 months old, 4 today, and 2. When I was helping her with the girls at church that morning, both the older two looked at me and said "Happy birthday Miss Dawn." I grinned and told them thank you. Then the oldest looked at me again, her eyes widened, and she said "You get a balloon bath!" I couldn't help it. I busted out laughing. Because that's what my best friend and her husband do for their girls on their birthdays. But then after church, the 2 year old goes "You're coming to our house." I told her yes. But she somehow didn't quite understand that I was going to drive my own car to their house. After lunch, the oldest goes "I finished all my hamburger. Now I get cake!" I chuckled. Because cake is so very important to a little one. Sure I had a gift from them. But we spent the afternoon playing games with the kids took a nap. It was fun relaxing day. My family celebrated the next day for dinner at Gringo's with fun presents of an Amazon gift card, Captain America: The Winter Solider, and some light-weight long-sleeved t-shirts.

But I think kids' birthday parties are some of the best. I've seen a lot of different themes on Pinterest. And tons of ideas for games and things. The birthday party I'm going to today has a butterfly theme.

So tell me, what are some of your birthday memories?

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Dandelion Field - A Review

Published - January 2015, Zondervan Books
Author - Kathryn Springer
Title - The Dandelion Field
Format - ebook, paper
Find on Amazon

Ginevieve Lightly wasn't planning on staying in Banister Falls. Until her daughter, Raine, asked to stay until she completed her senior year. Gin certainly wasn't expecting to come home from work one day to find her daughter sitting on the couch with tear filled eyes and say two words "I'm pregnant." Fire captain Dan Moretti vowed when his best friend died in a fire that he'd be there for his son, Cody Bennett. For Dan, it was an easy decision as Cody's mother, his father, and Dan himself were inseparable growing up, and Dan has always held a soft spot in his heart for Evie Bennett, Cody's mother. He wasn't expecting to answer a frantic call from Evie one day begging him to find Cody. When Dan does locate Cody, neither he nor Evie are prepared for him telling them that Raine is pregnant let alone his next words, "The baby is mine." Dan soon finds himself mediating between Evie and Cody, Raine, and Gin. As he gets to know Gin, he's drawn more and more to her. Gin's instincts tell her to run, but with Raine and Cody needing her, she can't. But can Gin trust Dan through it all?

I've read a lot of Kathryn Springer's books in the past. So when I learned that she was releasing a full length novel, I was thrilled because I've always enjoyed her books. I really wasn't sure what to expect from this book. I knew that there would be more depth and more character development than the Love Inspired Books, and I wasn't disappointed in that at all. In fact, this may be one of the most surprising books I've read this year because these characters have decided to linger in my mind. And I've found myself continuing their story in my mind I enjoyed them so much.

First, I loved Raine and Cody. I loved how they admitted they made a mistake. But that they were going to stand by one another no matter what. I also loved how they each sought out the Lord through the repercussions relating to the pregnancy.

I also loved Dan. I found that he really was the one that held things together for Evie and for Gin. I loved his strength. I loved how Cody felt he could be real with him. And even Raine ended up looking to him. I found Gin to be one character I wanted to know about. I wanted to find out if she mended her relationship with her sister. But I also admired Gin's determination to be independent. I understood where she came from and that her life had been difficult, but I did want her to learn to trust others too.

Overall, I'd have to say that I really loved this book. It is currently my favorite one by this author.

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

Recommended to fans of Irene Hannon's contemporary fiction, Karen Kingsbury, Lisa Wingate, the Love Inspired books, Courtney Walsh, Susan May Warren

Rating - 5 stars

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Beyond All Dreams - A Review

Published - January 2015, Bethany House Publishers
Author - Elizabeth Camden
Title - Beyond All Dreams
Format - ebook, paper
Find on Amazon

Anna O'Brien loves her job as a map librarian at the Library of Congress. She loves being surrounded by maps and helping patrons with their research requests. When she is asked to sit in on a Congressional committee meeting, she unintentionally captures the attention of Luke Callahan, one of Congress's rising stars. Luke has been "demoted" from the prestigious Budget Committee onto a committee involving Fisheries. But Luke is determined to show that the Speaker of the House is corrupt and asks that Anna be the one librarian who pulls all of his research requests. When Anna stumbles across a discrepancy between a map and the Navy's report regarding the shipwreck her father died in, she ends up enlisting Luke's help. Before long, both of them are involved in something far more than a simple error. Anna's afraid to trust her heart and Luke's in danger of loosing his. Will these two manage to figure out what the future holds for them?

One of the things that I've discovered I love about Elizabeth Camden's books is the rich historical detail. Last year's With Every Breath wowed me to no end. And then I spied the cover of this one. I love the spiral stair case and added it to my to read list. When this one came up for review, I snatched it up. I couldn't wait to delve back into a novel rich in history.

Yes it is rich in history. But what I found was that it was a little more slow moving than I was accustomed to. I wasn't sure how I initially felt about either of the main characters. My first impression was probably that Anna seemed a little stiff and schoolmarm-y while Luke was a conceited jerk. Yet what changed my impression of Anna was when she put Luke in his place at their first meeting. And I admire that. I also enjoyed the fact that Luke had to pursue her. He had to get to know her. He had to make it a point to figure her out because she didn't fall for his charms initially.

I've also enjoyed the fact that this story wasn't built entirely on their romance. Each of the main characters had busy lives and it showed. I mean, Luke was a Congressman and involved in several different bills while at the same time being a parent to his nephew. And for Luke to decide that Anna was important to him meant that he had to make time in his busy schedule for her.

Still, I enjoyed the book. I keep being told I need to read Camden's Against the Tide and maybe one day soon I'll be able to get to that one. I enjoyed the look into the Library of Congress in the late 1800's as well as what Congress was like then too.

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

Recommended to fans of historical fiction, Elizabeth Camden, Jody Hedlund, Laura Frantz

Rating - 4 stars

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday - Books for a Book Club

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly theme hosted by The Broke & the Bookish
Feel free to join in.

Well friends, it's Tuesday. That means a few things. My favorite show of NCIS is on. And NCIS New Orleans too. But that also means another Top Ten. I've gotten to where I really enjoy finding something to post for the Top Ten. I love the topics are varied and make me think outside of my box. 

This week's topic is the Top Ten Books for a Book Club. I've not really been a part of book clubs in the past. So I decided to focus on those books that I feel would generate the most discussion if I were in a book club. I do sometimes read the discussion questions at the end of a book. Sometimes I find them useful, other times, not so much.

1. Do You Think I'm Beautiful by Angela Thomas - I read this one with my best friend. I'd tried reading it in college and couldn't get past page 11. But when my friend and I read it, we talked about all the various chapters and how we felt. I'd highly recommend it.

2. Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver - My best friend and I are currently reading this one. We've both been hit on so many sides with people telling us to be the Mary. That we finally started reading this book. For those unfamiliar with this book, it is pulled from the story of Mary & Martha told in the Gospel of Luke and the Gospel of John. It talks about learning to seek Jesus in the midst of being busy.

3. The Secrets of the Immortal of Nicholas Flamel Series by Michael Scott - This is a series that I wished I'd had someone to talk about with while I was reading them. Sure the online forum was useful, but it wasn't the same as the Harry Potter community I was a member of. I'd have loved to been able to discuss this series with others over coffee/tea and just pick their brains about the various theories going on.

4. Wuthering Heights by Charlotte Bronte - I remember my high school English class having a round table discussion of this book. It got pretty lively and the eraser (the tool the person used to speak) was tossed around the room pretty rapidly. But this is one book that I can see generating a lot of discussion in a book club.

5. Juliet by Anne Fortier - I loved this book when I read it. I'd love to be able to discuss it with others just to get their take on some of the scenes.

6. The Story Keeper by Lisa Wingate - When I read this one, I had no idea what to expect. I'd have loved to have been able to discuss this one with friends and see what they thought of it. I loved this book. 

7. Wings of Glass by Gina Holmes - This is a book that I could generating a TON of discussion. Especially if the book club consisted of only women. Because this book deals with a very hard topic - domestic abuse. I could see how it could be used as a healing tool for women. 

Accidentally added two of Eye of the World but can't remove without both disappearing. 
8. The Wheel of Time Series by Robert Jordan - I was so glad my friend Laura was around when I read the first 10 books of this series. She was able to answer some questions and we'd discuss theories. Even after we lost touch, I was grateful for the resources she'd steered me towards as I waded through books 11, 12, 13, and 14. But this would be a fun series for science fiction/fantasy geeks to discuss together.

9. Here Burns My Candle & Mine is the Night by Liz Curtis Higgs - I love things set in Scotland. I love the book of Ruth. So a series that combines those two is right up my alley. These two books are so rich in historical detail that I'd have loved to talked to someone when I read them. Hmmm. Maybe I should reread them.

10. The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling - While I didn't like the book at all, I think it would have generated some lively discussions had I been in a book club while reading it.  

Monday, January 26, 2015

At Home in Last Chance - A Review

Published - January 2015, Revell Books a division of Baker Publishing Group
Series - A Place to Call Home Book 3
Author - Cathleen Armstrong
Title - At Home in Last Chance
Format - ebook, paper
Find on Amazon

Kaityln Reed has always run from her problems. The last time she ran, she left her seven year old daughter in Last Chance with Kaitlyn's older brother. Now she's back and trying to start over. She has a lot to prove to the town, to her brother, and to her daughter. Will Kaitlyn finally find her own home?

I've read both of the other books in this series and enjoyed them. This one was no exception. While it is a part of the series, it does stand alone. Readers don't really need to read the other two to fully enjoy this one.

Like the other books in this series, the story has the small town feel to it. I found it to be a quick read. I enjoyed not having to think through this book. I did think that Kaitlyn needed to really grow up. I also thought that the townspeople were a little hard on her. She was trying. She realized she'd made mistakes and was willing to change her life.

I thought that Steven was too much of a charmer. And he knew it too. I admired him for trying to show his family that he wasn't the same guy he was years ago. I didn't like him too much at first, but he grew on me. By the end of the book, I liked him.

Overall, I'd say this series is pretty good. I'm pretty sure that this was the conclusion, and if so, then it wrapped nicely. If it's not, I look forward to the new adventures in Last Chance.

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

Recommended to fans of women's fiction, contemporary fiction, Denise Hunter, Melody Carlson

Rating - 4 stars

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Saturday Scribbles Vol 4

Welcome to another edition of Saturday Scribbles. This is where I share what's on my heart or just talk about whatever. 

I was thinking the other about games. When you here the word game/games? What's the first thing that pops to mind? For most people it is one of two things - sports games or video games. And while those are the two most common associations with the word game, I wanted to talk about another - card/board games!

Growing up, my family played a lot of games. Card games such as a version of Rummy, Spades, and one unique to my family called Tarock. That's a cross between Hearts & Spades. We also played Spoons, Battle, Go Fish, and most other card games. But we also spent time playing board games. Games like Hungry Hungry Hippos, Scrabble, Clue, Monopoly, Life, Connect Four, Payday, and then as we got older, Rail Barons, Risk, and Scotland Yard.

I wasn't pretty good at Risk. My armies kept being taken. And Scrabble was one that I struggled with mainly because spelling wasn't important to me.

 I remember one time when my cousin Amy and I were playing Monopoly at our grandparents' house. I don't know if either her brother or mine were playing as well but I do know that Amy and I were playing. We were pretty far into the game when out of no where, our brothers come running into the room with handkerchiefs tied around their faces and yelled "Bank Robbery!" Both boys then proceeded to steal the bank and ran off. We of course put up a fuss. Another time I was playing Monopoly with my brother, and I ended up going bankrupt because he had hotels on Boardwalk & Park Place and I kept landing on them. But what makes the story even funnier was that I'd "saved" money for those instances and I'd completely forgotten about it until I stood up.

As far as the card games went, I was pretty good at Spoons, Battle, Go Fish, Spades, and Tarock. But both sides of my family enjoyed (and still do) playing a version of Rummy we call Continental Rummy. I've never played any other version other than this one. It's long. I'm good at it, but I don't like playing it. There was one Christmas that my family was gathered at my parents' house. I was in a mood and didn't want to play, so I'm playing Super Mario on the Nintendo, and one of my cousins was sitting on the bar stool watching the game. There were spare decks of cards and cookies & M&Ms all sitting on the counter by the bar. Frequently one of my aunts would get up with her hand of cards and grab a handful of cookies or M&Ms and, unbeknownst to the rest of the family, a card or or two to fit in her hand. When her kids found out, they were appalled.

As I grew up, I started playing other games. I was introduced to Scotland Yard while I was in high school.
I love this game, though I don't get to play it too often. All of the players are running around London trying to capture Mr. X. The only problem? Mr. X is sitting at the table hearing everything the rest of the players plan their strategic moves. You see, Mr. X has an unlimited supply of movement pieces and the players are limited. They also have a certain number of turns to capture Mr. X before he wins. Still it's a fun game.

After college, I was introduced to the games of The Settlers of Catan (and all its expansions) and The Betrayal at the House on the Hill. Yes, I know. Why did it take me so long to discover Settlers?

I don't usually win at Settlers because I usually don't plan my placements. But it's fun. Every time I play it, I enjoy it. I think my favorite expansion is the Cities and Knights expansion because it adds so much more to the basic game. The most recent time I played this was at my best friend's on my birthday. We played Settlers with the Cities & Knights Expansions. Enjoyed it so much. I think we managed two complete games before we moved onto something else. Seriously, if you've not tried this game, find someone who owns it and ask to play.

Another one of my favorites as an adult is Betrayal at the House on the Hill. This is different because each player starts off as just exploring the house. You build it as you go. Certain rooms have things that happen and eventually one of the players turns into a traitor. Then things get really interesting. The traitor has monsters and the house working to his advantage. And the other players have to defeat the traitor before the traitor defeats them. Once the traitor is revealed, the scenario being played is specific to which room revealed the traitor. In all of the years I've played this game, I've not played the same scenario twice. It's a lot of fun. But it works the best playing with certain groups of people. Some of my friends and family don't like it. But that's ok, I've got other friends who do enjoy it.
I've recently learned that this orange box is the first edition and that the 2nd edition is a green box. There really isn't much of a difference between the two because the 2nd adds the various PDFs to the rules that were sent out as an expansion.

And of course I enjoy party games like Scattergories, Catch Phrase, Apples to Apples and other fun large group games. My Small Group had a game night a couple of months ago and it was a lot of fun.

I've had a lot fun times playing board games or card games with my family growing up. Because when we went camping, we brought  games to play. My parents encouraged us to play games or to read. I'm pretty sure that we did a family night thing where we would play games.

My best friend and her husband have recently started a family game night with their little ones. Lynnette, maybe you can share with the readers what games the girls enjoy playing?

A resource that I've found helpful with finding board games is Board Game Geek.

So tell me, what games did you enjoy playing as a child or as an adult. Maybe you've played one that I've never heard of before. You never know, I may just want to try it! Let me know in the comments?

Friday, January 23, 2015

Secret of Pembrooke Park Promotion

This is something different today. I'm part of a promotional team for Julie Klassen's latest book, The Secret of Pembrooke Park.

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes when researching/writing a book? Well the publisher has sent me a YouTube video that takes you behind the scenes of creating the manor house for Pembrooke Park.

Have fun!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Hidden Agenda - A Review

Published - January 2015, Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group
Series - Southern Crimes Book 3
Author - Lisa Harris
Title - Hidden Agenda
Format - ebook, paper
Find on Amazon

Michael Hunt is presumed dead by family and friends. Only he's not dead. Not at all. He's been deep undercover infiltrating a known drug cartel. The problem? His cover's been blown and he's about to be killed. Michael has no choice but to put his life and his trust into the hands of Olivia Hamilton, the daughter of the cartel leader he is trying to take down. When Olivia and her brother Ian find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time, they can't help but rescue Michael and escape. But with cartel members chasing them as well as leaks in the Atlanta Police Department, the trio doesn't know who to trust. Enlisting the assistance of Michael's family eases some of the danger while creating more. Michael is determined not to go down without a fight, and he will take as many cartel members down as possible. He wants this all to be over so he can explore his growing feelings for Olivia.

This was probably my favorite of all three novels in this series. Like the others, it was fast-paced and very quick to read. I had no idea how things were going to end up and I'm glad that they ended the way they did.

I loved Michael. I thought that he was very well developed. I also loved Ian. And I loved seeing how Michael interacted with his family once he was no longer "dead". I also loved how he was willing to admit he was wrong about things.

Fans of romantic suspense will love this book. I think it's the last in the series, but I would love to see more about Avery's team - Tori, Levi, Carlos.

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

Recommended to fans of romantic suspense, Irene Hannon, Dani Pettrey, DiAnn Mills

Rating - 4 stars

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday - Freebie

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly theme hosted by the Broke & the Bookish. Feel free to join in.

I absolutely LOVE this week's topic on Top Ten Tuesday. It's a freebie. Which means I get to pick whatever I want to. So I decided to pick my Top Ten movies that I happily watch over & over. These may not be my all time favorites, though most are. They are just ones that make me feel good when I watch it. And most are chick flicks.

So here are my top ten. Or rather 13.

1. Ever After - This Cinderella story is by far my favorite film adaptation of ANY fairy tale. I remember when this first came out on VHS. (Yes, I just dated myself). I was in college. It came out on a Tuesday. I drove to Hastings between classes and bought the video. Came back went to class. Came back to my dorm room and watched the movie TWICE before I went to sleep. Watched it again the next day. By the end of the week, my roommate and I had practically worn the video tape out. Even now, when I watch the DVD, I can happily watch it over & over.

2. Mulan - This is probably my all-time favorite Disney animated movie. It surpasses even Little Mermaid, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Oliver & Co, Aladdin, and Beauty and the Beast for me. I'm not sure what it is about Mulan that I love so much. I just do.

3. Frozen - I can quote every line to every song. The soundtrack lives in my car. The DVD lives in the soundtrack case. And the Blu-ray lives at my brother's house with the Blu-ray/DVD combo case. For me, it ranks right up there with the movies I mentioned on #2.

4. Letters to Juliet - I love chick flicks. This one is sweet. And Amanda Seyfried is one of my favorite actresses. This is also the movie that introduced me to Taylor's Swift's music.

5. Sweet Home Alabama - This is another one that just makes me happy. Reese Witherspoon has some of the cutest outfits in this movie. Plus it is set in the Deep South. And I love how it accurately portrays a small town in the South. I went to college in one. Besides Reese is another one of my favorite actresses.

6. 27 Dresses - I can relate to the main character. I've been a bridesmaid in 6 weddings and have a closet that contains those six bridesmaid dresses, my high school prom dress, and possibly one or two of the formal gowns I wear to Awards Night at Seminar. Besides the co-star is James Marsden, Cyclops from the X-Men. And he's just adorable.

7. Down With Love - This is a remake of an old Rock Hudson/Doris Day Film called Pillow Talk. But it has Ewan McGregor in it. I developed a HUGE crush on him when I saw him in Star Wars Episode One The Phantom Menance. And then in Moulin Rouge, I saw him in a role that wasn't that of a Jedi. This movie is hilarious in all aspects of it.

8. The Marvel Collection: Specifically Thor, Captain America, Avengers, Thor: The Dark World, and Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier - Chris Hemsworth. Need I say more? Though I like the story line in Captain America. And I just love how each of these movies are fun, funny, and just awesome. Seriously. I've been on a Marvel kick since New Year's Eve when I watched the Guardians of the Galaxy, followed by over the past weekend Thor, Captain America, Avengers, Iron Man 3, and Thor 2.

9.Les Miserables - Yeah. It's not a happy movie. But I ADORE the Broadway musical and love the music. When this came out on DVD, I had a conference I was attending. I'd stopped by Walmart on my way home for the single purpose of picking this up. They didn't have it. The clerk tried to talk me into something else. I went across the street to Target, got it and the items I needs for my conference. Came home. Left for my conference. Got back the next day, watched it twice that Saturday, again the next day. With a friend a week later. And then loaned it to my best friend for a couple of weeks. I re-watched it recently.

10. Harry Potter Collection - Seriously. I love these movies. All of them. The books are reread regularly, but the movies are some of those that I will stick in and do a marathon watching session. Though I've never yet seen all 8 in one day.

11. Grease - Like Frozen, I can quote it. It's not one that I can crochet during. But I LOVE LOVE this movie. I've seen the play, and loved it. But this movie is still just a fun time.

12. Newsies - I'm not sure what it is about this movie that I loved so much. Maybe it's because I grew up watching Gene Kelly musicals and he consulted with this film. And Gene Kelly's influence is obvious specifically in the scene where "King of New York" is performed. Maybe it's because it's not the typical musical - the romances. But it's about a group of sweat shop newspaper boys who changed history. And have I mentioned how excited I am to see the Broadway show when it comes to Houston in May?!

13. Princess Bride - This is a classic. It's funny. It's romantic. It's a total feel good movie. And the book is even more funny than the movie if that's possible. Cary Elways, Westley in the movie, had a memoir come out this past fall. It's called As You Wish. And it's his experiences while making this amazing film. I'm not a non fiction reader normally, but this is one book I'd read!

Monday, January 19, 2015

January Quarterly Giveaway

Hello everyone. It's time for the first giveaway in ever so long. I've discovered that I'm not good at remembering to mail books out, so I figure I can handle a giveaway in January, April, July, and October.

Today, I've got this book by Tracie Peterson to give away. It came out in 2013, and I won a copy from a Goodreads contest. I enjoyed it, and now I want to share it with others who might enjoy it too.

About the book:
Emmalyne Knox has always loved Tavin MacLachlan. But when tragedy strikes her family, Emmalyne's father declares she can no longer marry. Despite Tavin's pleas to defy the decision, Emmalyne refuses. In her act of obedience, she gives up the future she'd always dreamed of. 

When Emmalyne's father returns to the quarry business years later, Tavin and Emmalyne meet again. And though circumstances have changed in both of their lives, they cannot deny the feelings that still exist. Can Emmalyne find a way to heal the decade-long wound that has fractured the two families...and change the hearts of those who stand in the way of true love?

To Enter:

Fill out the Giveaway Tools Form below. 


One print copy of Quarryman's Bride, open to US residents only. I cannot ship internationally. 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Saturday Scribbles Vol 3

Welcome to another edition of Saturday Scribbles where I share whatever is on my mind.

With the cold temperatures here to stay for a little while, I find myself trying to figure out ways to stay warm. Sure there's the most common of turning on the heater, which it is on. But there's also the piles of blankets. And my personal favorite for cold days, a cup of hot tea or a mug of hot chocolate.

I'm not too picky when it comes to tea, though I typically avoid most berry, peach, or lemon. I prefer the herbal teas. Mint, Peppermint, & Ginger are among my favorites.

But what I really love is a good mug of hot chocolate. Over the years, I've tried several different varieties. Like Nestle, Swiss Miss, Kroger brand, Hershey, Godiva, Ghiradelli's, etc. Even different flavors - mint chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, etc. But my all time favorite is the one my best friend and I made when I was reviewing The Farmer's Daughter's Cookbook. This particular homemade hot chocolate recipe is rich, creamy, and perfect as you can see from the picture below.

One of the best birthday gifts I've ever received was from my best friend last year. She figured out the individual serving size of the hot chocolate recipe. She put it into an airtight container with the instructions on the lid to add the liquid ingredients (water, milk, butter) and to microwave. I absolutely love it! The other evening, when it was really cold, I mixed up a mug of the hot chocolate, and savored it. Because a little goes a long way.

Anyway, here is the recipe for this super creamy, wonderfully delicious hot chocolate.

(Sorry it's not the individual sized serving!)

Creamy Hot Chocolate


  • 3 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 5 1/2 cups milk (whole milk works best)
  • 1 Tablespoon salted butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  1. Mix cocoa sugar, and water in a medium saucepan over high heat.
  2. Heat, stirring, until sugar is dissolved.
  3. Reduce to low heat and add milk and butter.
  4. Heat just until hot, stirring frequently.
  5. Add salt.
  6. Serve. Makes 6 cups


So tell me what are some of your favorite hot chocolate recipes?

Friday, January 16, 2015

Seeker - A Review

Published - February, 2015, Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Author - Arwen Elys Dayton
Title - Seeker
Format - hardcover, audio, ebook
Find on Amazon

Quin Kincaid has trained her entire life to be a Seeker. While she doesn't entirely know what that entails, she knows it is her destiny. The night that she and one of the other apprentices take their Oaths, she discovers the truth her father kept hidden from her. Vowing to be a different Seeker than her father, Quin soon finds herself in a battle for her life that leads her to question everything she'd been taught or told about her family, the boy she loves, and even herself.

This is the first book I've ever read by this author. And while there are comparisons to the Divergent Series or to Hunger Games listed on the back from various review sources, I found that comparing this book to those series is probably not the best thing. The only comparison to those series would be that this is in fact a dystopian novel. And that the main character is a girl. But that's where the similarities end.

I'll admit that the description of this book intrigued me. It really did make me want to read it. Picking it up, I had questions. And as the story unfolded, my questions didn't fully get answered. Even after finishing it, I still don't have a clear understanding of exactly what a Seeker is or the purpose of the Dreads. But I can live with unanswered questions because I know that there will be a sequel due out next year.

The story is told through the points of view of Quin, John, Shinobu, and Maud. It also takes the reader from Scotland to Hong Kong and back again. The various points of view didn't really bother me. I'm used to reading things with multiple points of view. The jumping from location to location didn't bother me too much either because I'm used to that. What did bother me though was that the "interludes" were back story into the characters that would probably have been useful to have earlier in the book.

As far as the characters go, my favorite was the Young Dread, Maud. I thought she was the best developed. John, Shinobu, and Quin all could have used some deeper development. And the whole love triangle thing drove me crazy. To me, the choice as to which of the boys Quin would ultimately end up with was obvious from the beginning. And while one of the two boys is made out to be a villain, I found that the author didn't do the best job in driving that point across. I actually thought that he was more misunderstood than anything else, and that his determination to reclaim what he considered rightfully his family's property had him heading down a path that could very well have been wrong. But was he a true villain? No, not in my opinion.

Overall, though, I enjoyed the book. It's probably not a favorite. But is was a fairly quick read. I'll look for the sequel when it comes out next year so I can see if my questions are answered.

I received a Kindle copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley for the purpose of reviewing. I was not required to like the book, only give my honest opinion.

Recommended to fans of young adult fiction, dystopian fiction

Rating - 3.5 stars - I liked it. I didn't love it. It's a little beyond just ok. Amazon/Goodreads rating will be 3 stars.

Review to be posted on Amazon on the book's release date February 10, 2015.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Emissary - A Review

Published - January 2015, Revell Books, a Division of Baker Publishing Group
Series - Legends of the Realm Book 1
Author - Thomas Locke
Title - Emissary
Format - ebook, paper
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Hyam is an ordinary farmer. Or so he thinks. Until his mother dies right before his 21st birthday. Her final request sends him on a journey where he finds out that he isn't who he always believed he was. His search for answers brings him to a telepathic people who commission him to be their representative to the other nations. Yet while he is the emissary, his own powers are growing. Hyam seeks assistance from one of the wizards of Long Hall. There he discovers that long held secrets and myths are actually real. But an evil power is growing across the Realm and only Hyam ,with the assistance of the friends he meets along the way, may be able to stop it.

I enjoyed this fantasy novel far more than I thought I would. There were times that the writing was reminiscent of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings or Jordan's Wheel of Time. But despite being very descriptive, I did find myself engrossed in Hyam's story. His past is a mystery that I'd hoped would be uncovered in the book. Parts of it were while others weren't. And so I was intrigued. I kept reading, even through multiple descriptions.

I've learned over the years that Christian Fantasy is really more of a hit and miss genre. Perhaps it's because this author, Thomas Locke, is a pseudonym for established author Davis Bunn that helped make this one more of a hit for me than others. Still, it ended up being a pretty fast read for me. I wasn't overly bogged down in pointless descriptions and there was enough action to keep me entertained.

I enjoyed the magic in this book. And the factors that made this a true fantasy book. While I didn't see obvious Christian factors like there are in the Chronicles of Narnia, I did see the good vs evil. I think my favorite part was when Hyam met the Elves. To me, that reminded me a lot of Frodo and Rivendell.

I think that fans of fantasy would really enjoy this book. I received the book for free from Revell Books for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of fantasy, Tolkien, Robert Jordan, Davis Bunn

Rating - 4 stars