Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Books Recently Added to my TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly theme hosted by The Broke & the Bookish

This week, the topic really did make me laugh. You see, it's the top ten books recently added to my to be read list. My first thought when I saw the topic was "I'm glad I've got a Goodreads shelf that has a list of books to read on it!" 

So yes I went to that shelf to obtain my ten books. I sorted the list by date added and just selected the first ten that appeared. I typically discovered these based on various lists or things looked interesting. 

So here is my list.

1. Like Never Before by Melissa Tagg - This is book 2 in the Walker Family Series. And that's about all I know about it.

2. Hand Me Down Husband by Rosanna Huffman - The cover caught my eye. It looks like it'll be a fun read.

3. Last Chance Hero by Cathleen Armstrong - It'll be fun to revisit the little town.

4. A Reason to Stay by Kellie Coates Gilbert - This author's grown on me.

5. Five Brides by Eve Marie Everson - Five women. One wedding dress.

6. Hidden Pearls by Hayden Wand  - Another beautiful cover that captured my attention.

7. The Sea Keeper's Daughters by Lisa Wingate - If this one is anything like The Story Keeper, I'll be beyond thrilled. 

8. Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter - A new to me author, this looks captivating. 

9. Valley of Decision by Lynne Gentry - I've yet to read the first book in this series, but I hope to soon. 

10. The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson - I love her fairy tale retellings. This one is Rapunzel. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Saturday Scribbles Vol 10

You know my friends, yesterday was a perfect day. A perfect day to spend in Galveston. No I wasn't at the beach. But I was in Galveston. My Mary Kay Career Conference is this weekend. And yesterday was perfect. Not too hot. Not too cold. Sunny. Just beautiful. I'm hoping today will be a repeat of yesterday.

The only downside to that is that I started sneezing on Wednesday. After seeing pollen counts through the roof for the last three weeks, I finally start sneezing. So I've been using a mix of a couple essential oils that have helped with the congestion. I'm still learning about the oils and I have a ways to go, but I've learned that peppermint and eucalyptus work really well to breathe in. I'll probably talk more about them in another post on another day.

So as you go about your day today, try to sit back, relax, and maybe go outside to enjoy the beauty of the day. Once summer gets here, it'll be too hot to really go out and enjoy the weather. Try just doing nothing outside. It's really quite refreshing.

Friday, March 27, 2015

From the Start - A Review

Published - April, 2015 Bethany House Publishers
Series - Walker Family Book 1
Author - Melissa Tagg
Title - From the Start
Format - ebook, paper
Find on Amazon

Kate Walker is a romantic screenplay writer. Yet her scripts are falling flat. When a tornado draws her back to her hometown of Maple Valley, she sees this as a chance to figure out what she needs to do with her life. She wants to do something meaningful. Colton Greene is an NFL quarterback who saw his career end with an injury. Temporarily hiding out in his best friend's hometown of Maple Valley, Colton hopes to avoid the media and be normal. There's one problem. He doesn't know normal. Maple Valley is a small place, so it's only natural that Kate and Colton will see a lot of each other, especially since he is staying at her father's house. As the pair find themselves forming a friendship while working a project together, they soon realize that they both ave new dreams and just possibly a future together.

I don't know how Melissa does it. but each book just keeps getting better. I loved it! While her author's note at the end of the book tells the reader that this was her hardest book to write, I found I appreciated that even more. 

The characters are well developed. There is the author's trademark style of humor and classic film/literature throughout the book. I loved the interactions with the Walker Family. I loved the way that the community stood together to make things happen. 

The cover itself is also true of Melissa's other books. It's bright and fun and just begs the reader to pick it up. I was delighted to be captivated by the cover and into the book's rich story. 

I cannot wait for the next book to come out. Melissa's books have become, for me, a fun way to escape the reality of life. 

Fans of romance will love this book. 

I received the book for free from the author to help in promoting it. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of Becky Wade, Melissa Tagg, Debbie Maccomber, contemporary fiction, chick flicks

Rating - 5 stars

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

All Dressed Up in Love - A Review

Published:  February 24, 2015, Zondervan Books
Series: A Year of Weddings Novellas Series 2, Book 4
Author: Ruth Logan Herne
Format - ebook
Find on Amazon

Lawyer Greg Elizondo is working at his mother's bridal shop, trying to keep it afloat, since her death. He's got a full calendar of brides coming in that day and all of the employees are out (maternity leave, sick, vacation). He needs a miracle. When 3rd year law student Tara Simonetti walks in and immediately brings peace to the chaos, he hires her on the spot. But he's a lawyer. He knows how grueling law school can be, especially that final year. Yet Tara brings a joy to the shop that hasn't been seen since his mother's death. As they fight their attraction to each other and all of the obstacles that show up in their way, both Greg and Tara have to realize exactly what is important.

Novellas are fun, quick stories for me to escape into when I'm not in the mood to read a full length novel. I've read a lot of the Weddings novellas over the past year. This is one of those that falls into the "awww cute" category.

I loved how Greg was doing everything he could to save his mother's dream. I loved how there was more to him than just the corporate lawyer. Sure he was guilty of making assumptions, but so was Tara. Yet they managed to figure it out and make things work.

I enjoyed the camaraderie between all of the bridal shop employees. Tara came in as an outsider, but soon she was one of them. There was a real sense of family in the shop. I also loved how Tara recognized the need to target the "plugged in" generation. She knew it would be good for business and it would set the shop out as unique.

Fans of the Weddings series will enjoy this book.

I received the Kindle copy for free from Booklook Blogger's for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of Janice Thompson, weddings, novellas

Rating - 4 stars

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Books from Childhood

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly theme hosted by The Broke & The Bookish.

It's Tuesday! That means that I get to show you a list of books that are related to a specific topic. Today's topic is the top ten books from our childhoods we would like to revisit. There are so many excellent books I read as child. Some of them I reread regularly. So today, I decided to focus on ones that I've not reread in a very long time. And since I am not of the Harry Potter generation, there are no Harry Potter books listed as all of those were published after I grew up. 

1. The Little House on the Prairie Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder - I think every little girl at some has been introduced to Pa, Ma, Mary, Laura, Carrie, and Baby Grace. I still have my complete boxed set. 

2. The Trixie Belden Mysteries by Julie Campbell - I wasn't too big on Nancy Drew. I thought that she was spoiled. But I LOVED Trixie Belden. I still have my mom's copies and my cousin's copies. I may be missing only two books from having the complete collection. 

3. The Forgotten Daughter by Caroline Dale Snedeker - I discovered this book on the school library shelf when I was in 6th grade. It became a frequent check-out for me over those three years. For those of you not familiar with this book, here is the Amazon Summary - New printing of the 1934 Newbery Honor Book, with a beautiful new cover design. Chloé, the young daughter of a noble Roman man, has been lost to her father, and has spent her life as a slave on one of his own villas. Cruelly treated, and with no hope of freedom, her only escape in into the stories of her Grecian mother's home town of Eresós, as told to her by Melissa, a fellow-slave and her mother's dearest friend. Aulus, a brave young Roman solider, is banished from Rome and escapes to his own villa in the Italian countryside. There he is faced by a life-threatening misfortune, is saved by the enchanting young Chloé, and falls in love with her, despite the fact that she is a slave. This historically accurate 1934 Newbery Honor Book is a captivating story of adventure, love, Chloé's struggle with the anger and hatred she feels toward her father, and the forgiveness she learns that cleanses her soul. Also included in this book is a biography of Caroline Dale Snedeker.

4. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH - by Robert C. O'Brien - I was probably in 4th grade when I first read this book. I actually read the second book in this series first, and then discovered this one in one of the Scholastic catalogs from school. It's just a sweet fantasy tale. 

5. The Babysitters Club Series by Ann M. Martin - I read most of these through elementary and junior high school. They were what really got me started babysitting and knowing what to bring with me when I was babysitting.

6. The Sweet Valley Twins by Francine Pascal - I enjoyed these younger versions of Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield way more than the high school and college ones. I've heard that there is a couple new ones that came out with the twins as adults, but from what I've heard of them, is that I shouldn't waste my time reading them. 

7. The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare - I remember reading this in 6th grade English. I've read it countless times since then. But I still enjoy it.

8. The Wrinkle in Time Series by Madeline L'Engle - I was never able to get into her books about the Austins, but I loved the Time books. I loved Meg, Calvin, Charles Wallace, and the rest of the Murrary family. I've even read the others in this world.

9. The Ramona books by Beverly Cleary - I thought that Ramona was hilarious. There was a lot that she got away with that she probably shouldn't have, but I still loved reading them.

10. The Fudge books by Judy Blume - I've read all of these except for the last two. They came out years later and I never got around to reading them. 

So tell me what are your childhood favorites? Did I spark any fun memories with my selections?

Monday, March 23, 2015

My Heart Stood Still - A Review

Published - February 2015, Harvest House Publishers
Series - Sisters of Mercy Flats Book 2
Author - Lori Copeland
Title - My Heart Stood Still
Format - ebook, paper
Find on Amazon

Anne-Marie and her sisters are beautiful thieves. But they got caught. Disguised as nuns, the sisters find themselves in a jail wagon heading off to jail when a Comanche party attacks the wagon. Each sister is rescued by a different man and sets off in a different direction. They each vow to meet up again at Mercy Flats. Anne-Marie finds herself rescued by the Crow warrior, Creed Walker. Creed is a man of secrets and few words. The more time that he spends in Anne-Marie's company, the more that he is drawn to her. When they find themselves seeking refuge with the Apache tribe Creed was adopted into, Anne-Marie hopes to learn more of the man she is falling for. She doesn't expect to meet the woman he is promised to. Add some outlaws after the gold they inadvertently stole, Anne-Marie and Creed have what appears to be insurmountable obstacles to overcome before they can find happiness together.

I enjoyed this book much more than the first in the series. I think the reason for that is that Anne-Marie was rather funny. The situations she found herself in were humorous. And the chemistry between her and Creed was fun to watch develop too.

I don't think that this was up to the standards I've come to expect from Lori Copeland. I've read almost all of her books, and this one just didn't seem quite as developed as some of the others. Still it was an enjoyable read. I look forward to the third book in the series.

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

Recommended to fans of Lori Copeland, Lori Wick, Janette Oke

Rating - 3.5 stars, 3 stars on Amazon & Goodreads

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Saturday Scribbles Vol. 9

It's Saturday my friends. That means that it's time for Saturday Scribbles! This is a feature that is unique to my blog and it's where I talk about whatever. Literally whatever.

The few weeks of not having a specific Saturday post were missed by my reader friends. Ones I know personally kept asking me where it was and when it was coming back. :)

Today, I want to talk about fairy tales. And fairly tale movies. You see, my mom and I went to see the new Cinderella movie yesterday afternoon. I've always loved the Disney animated one. And Ever After (The Drew Barrymore Cinderella story) is by far one of my favorite movies ever. So when I learned that Disney was doing a live action version of Cinderella, I knew I just had to go see it.

Watch this trailer and see for yourself just why I was so excited about it.

This was a delightful movie. I loved the costumes. I loved every thing there was about it. I was basically expecting it to be the same as the animated movie. But it wasn't. It was so much more.

The prince is CUTE!!!!! He was more than just a pretty face though. He actually had dreams and wishes. In some ways, he reminded me of Prince Henry in Ever After. He was very well developed and the actor who played him did an excellent job. His portrayal of the prince has me wanting to hit up IMDB to discover what else he has played in.

And Cinderella herself. Yes she was pretty. But she was sweet and kind and gentle. My favorite scene was at the ball of course. Her gown was simply stunning.

I'd totally go see Cinderella again.

For those who aren't aware, there is a Frozen short featurette before Cinderella starts. And with Frozen becoming one of my all time Disney favorites, I was thrilled to visit Elsa and Anna again.

But back to fairy tales. I've seen (and own) just about every Disney one. I've read countless fairy tale books. I think in college I even had to do a themed lesson on fairy tales. But as far as movies go, it seems like Cinderella is the one that has been made into the most movies. I know of several different versions of it. The Rogers & Hammerstein one, the Disney animated one, an older musical called the Slipper and the Rose, Ella Enchanted, Ever After, and I'm sure there are countless others that I can't remember off of the top of my head. Disney's Into the Woods was a mix of several different ones including Cinderella. And while I loved that movie because it was so different, this Cinderella version was special. It makes me even more excited to see Beauty & the Beast when the live action one releases next year. Emma Watson (Hermione Granger) will me a beautiful Belle and I can see her pulling it off exceptionally.

I think one thing that intrigues me the most about fairy tales is that, specifically in the Disney versions, they are happy. All of the characters live happily ever after. But if you actually read the fairy tales, the Grimm Brothers ones especially, then you discover that they really aren't happy. Things don't always work out in a happy ending.

But, I think that everyone needs to be able to dream. To live at times in the fantasy world. To not worry about tomorrow. To have the happy ending.

What would your favorite fairy tale be? And if you have a favorite movie version of one, what is it and why do you like it?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Books on my Spring TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly theme hosted by the Broke & the Bookish.

This week it's what is on my spring to be read list. So I decided to limit my titles to books ONLY releasing in March, April, or May.

1. An Uncertain Choice by Jody Hedlund - Jody's first young adult. It's delightful (I'm currently reading it.)

2. From the Start by Melissa Tagg - I got this one in yesterday and cannot wait to dive into it. I ADORE Melissa's books.

3. A Love Like Ours by Becky Wade - Probably one of my most anticipated reads of the spring. 

4. Dauntless by Dina Sleiman - A female Robin Hood. Yes please!

5. Buried Secrets by Irene Hannon - I've fallen in love with Irene's Romantic Suspense.

6. Creole Princess by Beth White - Such a beautiful book cover. The first in the series surprised me last year. 

7. Every Bride Needs a Groom by Janice Thompson - A new wedding series! Janice's books are always good for a giggle.

8. Together With You by Victoria Bylin - I've read her historicals but neer her contemporaries.

9. The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert - Cannot wait for this one!

10. In Firefly Valley by Amanda Cabot - I enjoyed the first in the series last year and this looks to be just as fun. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Saturday Scribbles Vol 8

Hello my friends. Welcome to a new edition of Saturday Scribbles. I realize that I've not had one in almost a month. All I can say is that life got in the way. I've gotten very very busy. But I'm trying to figure out how I can work this feature back into my week.

I think I've managed to figure it out. At least for now. Because of how busy I've been, my blog has suffered. I'm barely having time to get the book reviews that have specific dates posted let alone anything else.

So I figured, that for the time being, I will spend Sunday afternoons scheduling blog posts for the week. This can include book reviews, Top Ten Tuesday, and of course the Saturday Scribbles. I think that may work for me for now. So yes, this particular post was written on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

I've felt bad that my blog has suffered because life decided to get in the way. But like all things, I can adept. I can change my schedule to account for my busyness.

In spite of all my busyness the past few weeks, I've had some pretty awesome days. I had a party recently where I sold $540 in products. It was so much fun. That party helped lead to one of my highest weeks ever in Mary Kay - $708 in sales for that week.

I've also managed to slowly enjoy a couple of books for pleasure. One was rather short, so it only took me a couple of hours to read. Others were a little longer, so it took me like a week or two to work through. These aren't review books. Though I've got several of those on my plate. Some of my review books coming up (either recently finished or need to start) include Dauntless, Pharaoh's Daughter, Fuzzy Mud, Blood of a Stone, At the Water's Edge, My Heart Stood Still, Where Trust Lies, By Your Side, Crossroads, Pajama Girl & the Coronation of the Cupcake Queen, All Dressed Up in Love , and Sword of Forgiveness. Of those 12, I'm reading 3, finished 3, and have 6 to read. So hopefully the reviews will be up and posted soon. Some will have made it up this week.

And I've managed to take a few hours for myself here and there. I had a pedicure a couple weeks ago. Always very refreshing. And I had my hair cut. I took four inches off. See.

So yes, I've been busy. I will try to arrange my schedule to allow for these posts.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Where Trust Lies - A Review

Published - February 2015, Bethany House Publishers
Series - Return to the Canadian West Book 2
Author - Janette Oke & Laurel Oke Logan
Title - Where Trust Lies
Format - ebook, paper
Find on Amazon

Beth Thatcher is home for the summer after teaching in the small mining town of Coal Valley out in Canada's West. She isn't the same girl who left home the year before. As Beth looks forward to a summer of catching up with her mother and sisters, she soon realizes that perhaps she no longer belongs in the world she grew up in. A surprise cruise along Canada's east coast & the Northeastern United States has Beth wishing for the simple summer she'd planned. Yet Beth realizes that the trip is a chance to bond with her mother and sisters and perhaps bridge the gap that grown between them. When one of her family members trusts the wrong person, Beth has draw on the strength she found out West. Will her family ever be able to move forward?

I think I've outgrown Janette Oke. And that makes me rather sad. I mean I can still enjoy her books, but not like I did twenty something years ago. You see, I was between the ages of 10 and 14 when I first picked up one of Janette Oke's books. And I loved the Love Comes Softly Series and the Canadian West Series. But something happened. I grew up. I discovered authors whose stories grabbed me and wouldn't let me go. While I will always have a soft spot and fond memories of the Janette Oke books, I think that I'd be better off not requesting to review her new releases. Oh, I'll probably still read them. I can easily rent them from the library. But I seem to hold reviewing books to a different standard than the ones I read for pure pleasure. Anyway, all that is to say that my thoughts on this one may seem a little more harsh or critical than I mean to.

I enjoyed this book much more than the first in this series. I did find that it was a very slow moving book. I literally went for days without picking it up. Beth has grown up since I first met her in the first book. And her character has developed more too. But I still found her rather shallow. Though no where near as shallow as one of her sisters or a family friend.

The romance I was hoping for in this book between Beth and Jarrick, Jack from the first book, is almost nonexistent. I get the fact that they are on different sides of the continent, but I still wanted more. Sure there are a couple of phone calls and letters exchanged, but not at all what I was hoping for. I also had hoped for more of Coal Valley. I'd grown to like that little town by the end of the first book. I would have liked to revisit that community.

I really felt that this book was too long. I felt that there chapters that did nothing to move the story along. And once the climax of Beth's family member trusting the wrong person occurs, there was too much time spent describing everything.

Still fans of the Hallmark series will enjoy this book. I'm not saying that it wasn't a good book, because it was good. But like I said earlier, I think I've outgrown Janette Oke.

I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers for the purpose of reviewing. I was not required to like the book, only give my honest opinion. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of Janette Oke, Beverly Lewis, Little House on the Prairie, Hallmark's Love Come Softly movie series, Hallmark's When Calls the Heart movie & series

Rating - 3.5 stars - It was better than the first, which I struggled through, but not stellar. Goodreads/Amazon Rating will be 3 stars.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Adventures of Pajama Girl: the Coronation of the Cupcake Queen - A Review

Published - March 2015, Worthy Publishers
Author - Sandra Hagee Parker
Title - The Adventures of Pajama Girl and the Coronation of the Cupcake Queen
Format - hardcover
Find on Amazon

Ellie has magical pajamas. Her pajamas transport both her and her sister Sis to worlds of their imaginations. When she puts on her pair of cupcake pajamas, they are taken to Cupcake Kingdom in time for the Cupcake Queen's Coronation. There's just one problem there. All of the sprinkles have been stolen! How can the Cupcake Queen be crowned if there are no sprinkles? Ellie and Sis set out to find the sprinkles and discover the importance of not stealing.

This book was delightful. Absolutely delightful. The pictures are vibrant and detailed. I loved it. I'm not sure if this is the first book about the Pajama Girl, but I certainly hope to see more of this series.

I took this book over to my best friend's house to read with her daughters. The girls are 4 and 2 and loved it. They were captivated by the pictures and the cupcakes and everything that made this a delight. I also love how the cover picture is also on the actual hard cover book and not just on the slip cover.

I'd say that this is targeted at the ages of 5-7, but obviously younger children can delight in this story.

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

Recommended to Kindergarten teachers, Sunday School Teachers, parents of young children, children ages 2-7.

Rating - 5 stars

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Books for Readers Who Like Fantasy Novels

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke & The Bookish.

This week's topic is the top ten books for readers who like ______. Which means that I get to pick something to fill in the blank. 

So I have chosen Fantasy novels (Both Christian and Secular).

1. The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien - the epic saga. I really liked the Appendixes best. ;)

2. The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis - a fantastic series. I grew up on these books.

3. The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan - I was introduced to these books when I was in college, actually the summer before I graduated. They are long and wordy, but worth the chance to read them.

4. Elantris by Brandon Sanderson - I don't know what it was about this book that captured my attention, but something did. 

5. The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott - one of my Harry Potter friends, Spacecadet, introduced me to this series. I read these after Deathly Hallows came out.

6. The Harry Potter Books by JK Rowling - If I'm talking fantasy, these are definitely on this list.

7. The Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Mariller - a retelling of the Seven Swans fairy tale. I must admit, I like this book the best in the series.

8. The Books of the Infinite by RJ Lawson - Christian fantasy is hard to really put a finger on. Sometimes they are awesome. Other times, not so much. I enjoyed this series tremendously.  

9. Dauntless by Dina Sleiman - I'm currently reading this one. It's got the feel of a female Robin Hood.

10. The Percy Jackson/Heroes of Olympus Books by Rick Riordan - for someone who loves mythology like I do, these are wonderful books.

So how about you? What would make your list?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Favorites From the Past 3 Years

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.

This week, it's all about favorites. But that means that creating this post was very difficult to come up with. Because I have read so MANY books that have found a spot on my favorites shelf. Many of these have shown up on other TTT lists.

So I limited mine from 2013 through current.

Here they are, in no particular order.

1. The Story Keeper by Lisa Wingate. - The book Wowed me. Seriously read it if you haven't.

2. Stealing the Preacher by Karen Witemeyer - I think this one surpassed Short Straw Bride as my favorite one of hers.

3. Promise Me This by Cathy Gohlke - This was my first book I'd read by her and I was captivated.

4. Bridge to Haven by Francine Rivers - I loved this one.

5. The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck - This beautiful tale drew me in and didn't let go.

6. Deceived by Irene Hannon -  I think what sold this one for me was Connor.

7. A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan - The epic conclusion to a fantasy series that I read for over ten years.

8. Dandelion Field by Kathryn Springer - Wasn't too
sure what I was expecting with this one, but it shattered all of my expectations.

9. Love at Any Cost by Julie Lessman - Jamie stole my heart.

10. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer - I kept being told I needed to read this series. I probably devoured the library books in a period of a month. I'm number 2 on the waiting list for Fairest.

11. House of Hades by Rick Riordan - I think it was my favorite in the series

12. Rose Gordon's Books - I couldn't pick one. I discovered her books right before Christmas  years ago and read all she had out in a week.