Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Pocket Letter #3 - Favorite Color

I recently sent out another Pocket Letter for a Color Swap over at Pocket Letter Pals.  

My partner chose red and I really had fun working on this for her.  I like the color red and have had it as my main bedroom color for years.  I went with a deeper red, so I hope she is happy with that.

I am going to include a prayer in each of my pocket letters that I send.  I believe there is such power in prayer!  I tried to collage that insert and I like it but I'm not in love with it, KWIM?  The left pocket says "My Favs" in the thought bubble.  On my desk, it showed up much better than it is in the picture.  I didn't take a picture of the back of this card but I love how it turned out. I just handwrote some favorites on scrap cardstock and arranged them hodge-podge on the back.

The center insert features the frame stamp I am going to incorporate on each pocket letter and some layered, glittered tulle.  The left insert was taken almost directly from the pocket letter Tmika recently sent me - I loved how the stacked banner/flags looked!

I stamped the days that I worked on this letter on the left insert, another element I am working into each pocket letter.  The center insert has a Vanilla Caramel tea bag behind that is so tasty!  Are you singing yet with the scrap of hymn?  I am, every time I sat down and worked on this pocket letter.

Here is a peek at all the little goodies I included behind the inserts: napkin, glitter, gems, punched shapes, washi, tea and a letter with a key paper clip.

Are you swapping pocket letters?  If you are interested, check out the Pocket Letter Pals forum.  Leave a comment if you are interested in swapping!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Pocket Letter # 2 - Coffee is Always a Good Idea

Coffee is Always a Good Idea

Sharing the pocket letter I created for a swap with one of my favorite youTube crafters - Scrapdaworld.  I photographed them outside of the page protector to avoid glare.

I know she loves shabby chic so I tried to use soft colors and lots of lace and pearls.  With the browns, this is probably more vintage than shabby (needs more white) but I am still really happy with how it turned out.

My signature frame on the left block and the cup on the lace background is my favorite I think.

I tried making a little shaker on the center block but the sequins do not show up very well.  The right block is embossed with some "vintage" embossing powder that kinda puffed up when I heated it. Really loved the way it looked!

I failed to take a picture of the back with the goodies.  I included some embossing powder, glitter, sequins and lace for her as well as a letter and a prayer.  I wrapped it in a graphic I printed off and wrapped that with a vintage handkerchief I picked up at an estate sale recently, finished off with a little flower closure.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Pocket Letter #1 - Better Get Better

I came across a new "thing" that uses my craft supplies and feeds my creative side.  They are called Pocket Letters, created by Janette Lane.  If you click on the link (in that last sentence), you'll pull up all her posts on Pocket Letters. Basically, they are ATCs (which the more I create and work with them, the more I enjoy it), decorated and slipped into a page protector.  Also integrated is a letter so there is the pen pal concept as well.  You can also view quite a bit about them on youTube and link over to the community at Janette's blog.

I have been creating ATCs for many years now with my local stamp club.  We make 12 every month which involves quite a bit of assembly line work, not unpleasant but after the initial design, not entirely creative.  What I really enjoy with the pocket letters is creating a set of coordinated cards and the letter component.

Better Get Better

The first PL I created was sent as a cheer me up for a lady that has a hurt wrist and as such, limited creating time.  I am out of practice in taking photos so I apologize for the glare.

I pulled out the floral print paper first as I wanted something bright and cheery - yellow and red seem to fit the bill!  The center pocket is stamped and painted; the third pocket is stamped and then flocked.

I wanted to have something to incorporate on every pocket letter I create.  The frame stamp on the center block fits perfectly and I will use it for each one as well as dating when I work on the project.  I know that many people create the entire letter at one time; I enjoy crafting as a form of relaxation and so tend to linger over my projects. 

My favorite bit in this letter is the far right block.

The fun comes in adding little bits to the pockets as well.  I've included some of the items I used: tags, stamped labels, twine, washi tape as well as a prayer, and a list of books I enjoyed last year.

I'll share another Pocket Letter later this week.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

House Divided Blog Tour

House Divided (1)
house divided

There is a law irrevocably decreed in the state of Alabama that you must choose a team. You're either an Auburn fan or an Alabama Fan. There is no fence sitting or waffling. It’s one or the other. However, it doesn't mean that you can’t fall in love with someone from the opposing side. They even have a name for it ... House Divided. Ellie Eaton and Brady Jackson were just such a couple, but unfortunately they were separated by more than just their loyalty to a university. Against the odds and against the rules, Ellie and Brady dove right into the forbidden current of friendship and then love. Their sweet, innocent romance was one for the storybooks, but old rules and family prejudices ultimately tore them apart, just as they were each ready to depart to their beloved universities, Ellie to Auburn and Brady to Alabama. But years later, when near tragedy strikes, they're brought together again and given a second chance at love, this time with help from some very unlikely sources. House Divided is a sweet romance filled with southern charm, a dash of humor and, for good measure, a pinch of lies and intrigue.

Praise for the Book 
 "House Divided was one of those books that made me want to ignore my children, my to-do list, my need for food, and pretty much anything else that would keep me from reading. Jennifer Peel has a real gift for depicting first love, heartbreak, and hope." "A tender, soft, story that truly is a gem to read." "Ms. Peel has created a story that stands as a tribute to true southern gentility, it's foibles and strengths. Truly a beautiful read that gives heart and meaning to true devotion. She truly knows how to weave a story that has beauty and true southern charm."

                                                                   My Review

You can see my updated review at Goodreads. 

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour.  House Divided is a great book so far.  I must be honest and say that I am still reading it.  It is told from Ellie's point of view - I tend to read slower in first person. That coupled with an unplanned gathering that has taken my attention this week means I have not been able to read more than just a few clicks at a time.  That being said, it is off to a great start.  So far, I like Ellie's devotion to her aunt and hate the way Brady walked away from her in high school.  Stories that explore a couple's second chance at love are one of my favorites.  Often authors will set up the plot where they were good friends or such.  Peel has a unique twist in Ellie and Brady were forbidden to even talk to each other let alone have a "we're just friends" relationship.  I can't wait to see where the journey goes.  
   add to goodreads     Jennifer Peel Headshot
Author Jennifer Peel 
 I'm a Colorado native who currently calls Alabama home. I'm the mother of three amazing children who have grown up way too fast. I enjoy the mountains, vacations at the beach, date night with my husband, late night talks with my kiddos, touring model homes, and pink bubblegum ice cream. I grew up on the Western Slope in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. I learned to love the beauty of the outdoors, but not camping--unless staying overnight at the Marriott counts. I met my husband while living in Denver and then several years later we traded the beauty and majesty of the Colorado Rocky Mountains for the art and culture of Chicago, Illinois. My family and I enjoyed living near this world class city, despite the crazy cold winters, but new adventures awaited in Northern Alabama--just six hours away from Orange Beach, Alabama. These three magical places (the Colorado Rocky Mountains, Chicago, and Orange Beach) are the inspired locations used in several of my books.

Jennifer Peel   25_Amazon_Paypal

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 4/12/15 
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.
  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, March 23, 2015

Need You for Keeps by Marina Adair, A Review

Need You for Keeps (St. Helena Vineyard, #6)

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Book Description

When it comes to caring for the furry residents of St. Helena, California, groomer and pet rescuer Shay Michaels can handle anything. Humans are another story, though especially Deputy Jonah Baudouin. He's the town s resident superhero: upright, uptight, and jaw-droppingly gorgeous, even when he s investigating complaints about Shay s beloved foster animals. And that spells danger for Shay, a free spirit who can't risk trusting the wrong person again.

Jonah and Shay have been circling each other ever since she came to town, and h' s running out of reasons to "not" kiss her senseless. But this deputy is a straight shooter with his eye on the sheriff s badge. He can't afford to get involved with Shay, a chaos magnet with luscious curves who's liable to turn his career and his life upside down. He enforces laws. She breaks them repeatedly. Keeping her out of trouble is becoming a full-time job and i' s one he hopes is never going to end."


I received an eARC copy of this book from the publisher. Here is my honest review.

While this book is a contemporary romance and follows the formula you typically find, it is much more.  The characters are beautifully written; not just Shay and Jonah, but even the most minor of characters as well.  Shay was exceptionally well-written as a woman who finds it hard to trust those around her but she does it without what I think of as "weak girl whining".    

I always enjoy romance series that are set in small towns with a cast of characters that you can't help but fall in love with - this book definitely delivers that.  My husband walked in at one point with me shaking my head at one of the characters.  Adair wrote a story telling Shay and Jonah's story that drew me in as a reader.  And since each book is a standalone, it is easy to catch up on the series.

Please note that the cover of this book made me think it would be a "sweet" romance.  It was full of sweetness, but did have a few very racy scenes. 

I gave this book: 

★ = I did not like it     ★ = It was okay     ★ = I liked it    
★ = I really liked it     ★ = I loved it

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Saving Justice by Susan Crawford, A Review

Saving Justice by Susan Crawford

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Book Description

After losing her brother to gang-related violence, elementary schoolteacher Kinley is on a mission to help her at-risk students. When one of them, Justice, is caught in an act of vandalism, she intervenes. 
Entrepreneur Nash McGuire has gone to great lengths to overcome the poverty he grew up in. When working on a renovation project in his old neighborhood he collides with a juvenile delinquent and his
 do-gooder teacher. 
Kinley believes Justice can overcome the influence of his environment; Nash knows the odds and has little patience with Kinley’s naivety. But as the boy’s mandatory community service forces Justice and Kinley into Nash’s life, he can’t help but discover a boy searching for love and purpose–a boy very much like he once was. 
Then Justice is accused of another crime. And Kinley’s stubborn belief in the boy’s innocence is just too much for Nash to accept… 


I received an eARC copy of this book from the publisher. Here is my honest review.

This book is darling - and it also had something happen in it that I did not see coming and still almost can't believe that Crawford included it. It was handled very well and added so much authenticity to the plot.

Kinley is a wonderful heroine: she's the kind of teacher I educator I strive to be and that I pray my child has. She's also unfailingly optimistic and it is easy to know why Mr. Grumpy (Nash) was drawn to her. 

This is a faith-based book and demonstrates how God is at work and can use things that happen for good. 

I really enjoyed this story: so much I gave it four stars when most of the formulaic romances I read (and enjoy) get 3 stars. This one has something that has just went deeper when I was reading it than your typical fluff romance.

I gave this book: 

★ = I did not like it     ★ = It was okay     ★ = I liked it    
★ = I really liked it     ★ = I loved it

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Disappeared by Roger Scruton, A Review

The Disappeared

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Book Description

The Disappeared is a story of our times, of kidnap and rescue, of abuse and healing. It is the story of Stephen, a teacher whose love for the pupil who shares his dreams brings him face to face with ruin; of Sharon, the child of a feckless stepmother, and her criminal abusers; of Laura, the investigative high-flyer, now faced with rape and sexual slavery; of Justin, environmentalist and Heavy Metal fan, whose obsession with Muhibbah, rescued from forced marriage, spells disaster for them both. 

It is the story of a police force fearful of charges of racism, and a social worker, Iona, expected to make a viable community from fragments that will not join.
With dizzying speed The Disappeared uncovers the chaotic underworld of a Yorkshire city, its characters eventually stumbling across one another in a single catastrophe. A victim may bring redemption: but who will it be?


I received an eARC copy of this book from the publisher. Here is my honest review.

I'm not really sure how I'm going to rate this book, which is an odd place to be when writing a review.  The plot was gripping although after the first two chapters, the point of view shifted to what seemed to be a completely unrelated story.  Scruton masterfully wove three seemingly unconnected stories together.  The plot was the best part of this book.  The characters were interesting and the writing style (almost stream of consciousness and first person for Laura's character) was very different from what I typically read, which I found to be a nice change.  

It was very violent in parts and human trafficking is a serious issue that is quite frankly difficult to read about.

I gave this book: 

★ = I did not like it     ★ = It was okay     ★ = I liked it    
★ = I really liked it     ★ = I loved it

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Repeat Year by Andrea Lochen, A Review

The Repeat Year by Andrea Lochen


I borrowed a copy of this book from my library.  Here is my honest review.

What would you do differently if you could live a year over? Lochen explores this very question in The Repeat Year, a book that I completely enjoyed despite my doubts. I joined a reading challenge that required a science fiction read, a genre I do not read since the few I've read in the past have not been especially enjoyable. Fortunately, my library has a science fiction section that I began to browse in search of a book that would fulfill the criteria. The Repeat Year was a title that stood out from the rest and the cover definitely did not look like what I expect to see in science fiction, so it came home with me. 

The story was immediately engrossing and the characters were easily to sympathize with. With the way the story plays out, the reader can form opinions as whether Olive is making the best choice the second time around. "Hindsight is 20/20" shines out as a true adage in the events that unfold. There were moments when I doubted that Olive would be able to accomplish her main goal of repairing the relationship with her ex; the twists that Lochen added to the plot enhanced the story and kept it from being a predictable love story to one that had me on the (virtual) edge of my seat, with fingers crossed that Olive and Phil would have a happy ending.

I will definitely keep an eye out for Lochen's second book and would read more science fiction if it was this enjoyable to read.  I found Lochen's debut book to be exceptionally well written with great character development and an intriguing, well thought out plot.

I gave this book: 

★ = I did not like it     ★ = It was okay     ★ = I liked it    
★ = I really liked it     ★ = I loved it

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Heaven Help Heidi by Sally John, A Review

Heaven Help Heidi

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          Christian Book          Book Depository

Book Description

From bestselling Christian fiction author Sally John comes the second book in a series featuring new beginnings and unexpected romance.

Welcome to the Casa de Vida--eleven quaint bungalows located three blocks from the Pacific Ocean in tiny Seaside Village, California. Owner Liv McAlister never advertises vacancies beyond a small hand-lettered sign out front, preferring to trust that God will send the right tenant at just the right time. And He always does.

Heidi Hathaway's life has been turned upside down. After an accident leaves her injured, unable to work, and incapable of negotiating the stairs in her multilevel oceanfront condo, she leases her home and moves into a cozy little cottage in the charming garden complex where her friend Piper lives. There she finds so much more than a place to rest and recover.

Piper Keyes knows Jared is not coming back from Afghanistan. After making it through the fifth anniversary of his death, she wonders if she's at last ready to get on with life. She gingerly explores new avenues--photography, cooking, and buying her own boutique--and learns to open her heart again.

The most comforting thing about living at the Casa is that the women there become each other's mentors and confidantes, learning from their own mistakes and arriving at new, healed places in their lives.


I received an eARC copy of this book from the publisher. Here is my honest review.

Once I got into this book, I really enjoyed it.  I don't recall why I didn't fall into it right away; it was interesting, especially with the opening car crash and then the switch to a different character's perpective.  I must have had a lot going on because when I picked it back up this week, I read it very quickly.

The romance is fairly average - I fully expected Heidi to end up with who she did at the end.  What really made this special for me was the character development and the exploration Heidi goes through in finding herself after her accident.  I like every character in this book. Every. Single. One.  Even those that are more tertiary characters rather than secondary characters.  I want to live at Casa de Vida.  The sense of community and love that flowed through that courtyard was tangible and inviting.  

I was very happy to see this is only the second book in the series; it will be easy to catch up and future stories to look forward to! 

I gave this book: 

★ = I did not like it     ★ = It was okay     ★ = I liked it    
★ = I really liked it     ★ = I loved it 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Amish Clockmaker by Mindy Starns Clark and Susan Meissner, A Review

The Amish Clockmaker by Mindy Starns Clark

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 Christian Book          Book Depository

Book Description

From bestselling authors Mindy Starns Clark and Susan Meissner, The Amish Clockmaker (Book 3 in the Men of Lancaster County series) explores the men of an Amish community in Lancaster County, how their Amish beliefs play out in their unique roles, and the women who change their lives.

Newlywed Matthew Zook is expanding his family's tack and feed store when a surprising property dispute puts the remodel on hold--and raises new questions about the location's mysterious past.

Decades earlier, the same building housed a clock shop run by a young Amish clockmaker named Clayton Raber. Known for his hot temper, Clayton was arrested for the murder of his beloved wife, a crime almost everyone--including his own family members--believed he'd committed, even after charges were dropped. Isolated and feeling condemned by all, Clayton eventually broke from the church, left Lancaster County, and was never heard from again.

Now the only way Matthew can solve the boundary issue and save his family's business is to track down the clockmaker. But does this put Matthew on the trail of a murderer?

A timeless novel of truth, commitment, and the power of enduring love, where secrets of the past give way to hope for the future.


I was provided an eARC from the publisher via NetGalley. Here is my honest review.

I'm not sure how this book is classified: mystery, romance, romantic suspense. I am sure that it was very different from any other book I have read set in the Amish community, which is probably why I enjoyed it so much more than most of the books I read in that genre.

I found the plot to be really interesting and the writing/story to be incredibly authentic. The authors did a great job exploring how Amish people today work through situations that arise from the English community. 

I don't want to say much so as not to give away any spoilers; there are serious issues that are dealt with in this book (pregnancy, mental illness as well as trust and forgiveness). Oftentimes I read a romance book in the Amish genre and it seems so perfectly idyllic, which is unrealistic. 

The one scene that resonates with me is when Clayton is speaking to his mother after she expressed displeasure towards his wife. He reminds her that Jesus did not require us to be perfect before he sacrificed himself on the cross. He has a deep faith and his view of accepting his wife where she is while wanting peace for her was so touching. 

I enjoyed this story immensely - I practically couldn't put it down. Since this is the third book in a series, I will be looking to read the previous books and will watch for future books as well.

I gave this book: 

★ = I did not like it     ★ = It was okay     ★ = I liked it    
★ = I really liked it     ★ = I loved it

Want to Know More?

You can  pick up a copy of Lilies on Daybreak Pond, a short prequel novella in the Men of Lancaster series, at Amazon, free on Kindle,  as of the date of this blog post.