Thursday, May 14, 2015

My Grandma's a Ninja by Todd Tarpley, A Review

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Books-A-Million          Lifeway          Christian Book          Book Depository

Book Description

When Ethan’s grandma suggests they take a zip line to school, Ethan realizes that his grandma is a little different. In fact, she’s a ninja! Ethan is soon the hit of the school when his grandma drops from the ceiling at show-and-tell, and teaches the kids karate moves and how to do backflips in slow motion. But when his grandma deflates his team’s soccer ball, everyone is upset—including Ethan. Why can’t he just have a regular grandma? But when Ethan tries out his new karate movesduring the championship game . . . he’s happy that his grandma isn’t ordinary.


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

Fun read for young students, especially boys.  My son and I read it and even though he is thoroughly into reading chapter books these days, he enjoyed the book and the elements of fantasy found in the book - what boy wouldn't think it was awesome for their grandma to be a ninja? Engaging illustrations are a bonus!

I gave this book: 

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

★ = I really liked it     ★ = I loved it

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Quick Book Reviews

I just have a few quick reviews to share with you today from my pile of books I've been sent by publishers.

The Fairy Tale Bride
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Review: The plot was interesting but the character development was pretty shallow and I found most of them to be annoying.  There were several four star reviews for this book on Goodreads so you should check those out as it seems other readers have a completely  different response.

My First - Jason & Katie (Crossroads, #1)

Source: Purchased - you can pick it up for free at Amazon (but I don't recommend it)
Review: I honestly could not remember anything about this book when I pulled up my list of books I needed to review.  I gave it two stars on Goodreads and I tend to rate books eve if I don't have time to write a review.  This is another book that had a good number of favorable reviews. 

A Bride in the Bargain
Source: Purchased
Review: I enjoyed this story; while I could never imagine myself in an arranged marriage situation, I enjoy those plot setups.  I think it is the finding unexpected love in less than perfect situations.  Strong heroine, secondary characters that added to the story and a believable story arc made this an enjoyable read. 

Source: Purchased
Review: I couldn't remember details from this story either but I gave it three stars so it must have been at least enjoyable as that is the rating I give to romance books that I liked, they weren't horrible but I didn't love them.  I definitely think this is a book that you should check out other reviews for 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Semi-Charmed Summer Reading Challenge

I participated in her Winter Challenge and discovered one of the best books for this year from the list.  I'm looking forward to this challenge - there are some interesting categories.

Click the link above to see the list and sign up!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Carry Her Heart by Holly Jacobs, A Review

Carry Her Heart

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Book Description

“Maybe we live our lives constantly becoming and rebecoming. Maybe we’re always in the process of metamorphosing into something new.”

In her journal, writer Piper George notes the change of seasons. Each entry marks the passage of time since she became a teen mother and put her baby up for adoption. Her words flow together, painting a picture of loss, hope, and enduring love for the daughter she’s never forgotten. But one autumn, a new presence appears in its pages and in her life: her neighbor, Edward “Ned” Chesterfield.

As winter thaws to spring, Piper and Ned develop a friendship that could be something more…if only Piper would open her heart. But the loss of her daughter has irrevocably shaped her life. And having given so much of herself away, she’s not sure if she can give Ned all that he deserves. But with him at her side, Piper just might learn that a heart’s love is never truly lost.


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

This book is on my short list of best book I've read this year.  What struck me from the opening chapter was the beautiful language that Jacobs uses.  This book is full of lovely writing - words that just capture your very inner essence.  Piper is likable even though she seems to have it all together.  She has such a wonderfully positive outlook on life, it is refreshing in a female character.

At one point, I thought the book was going to disappoint me horribly; Piper's visit to her father to discuss whether it was possible to just be friends left me convinced that she and Ned would not have a happy ever after.  But oh, what sweetness waited down the line.  Sweet romance, completely realistic and it is a friends to lovers story which is one of my favorites.

This book is so much more than a romance story however.  It is a story of relationships ultimately - 

I started this really late Friday night and read a chapter, maybe two.  Picked it up in the wee hours of Saturday waiting for the sunrise and finished it.  I was in tears as the book drew to a close. It's full of emotion and wonderful characters.  

I gave this book: 

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

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