Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Flexi-Clip Winner!

The winner of my Flexi-Clip giveaway, courtesy of independent Lilla Rose consultant Emily Anne, is....

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Congratulations Dana!  I will email you to let you know, and forward your email address to Emily Anne.  Have fun picking your prize!

And, more good news for the rest of the participants in the contest - Emily has generously offered a 10% off coupon to everyone who participated - thanks Emily!  To use it you'll have to contact Emily via Facebook and arrange the order with her, citing coupon code TAMMY10 - happy shopping!  Coupon is valid for 30 days.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Book Review: All My Belongings by Cynthia Ruchti

About the book: A new life and a new identity can't protect Becca from a past that refuses to go away.
After spending years running from the shame her father put on her family, Jayne is determined not to let him steal her future in the same way he stole her childhood. Changing her name to Becca Morrow, she moves to California and settles into a new life and new job caring for ailing mother of handsome young businessman, Isaac Hughes.
But just as she's wondering if she and Isaac are headed for a relationship, Becca's patient passes away under unusual circumstances. Suddenly, her past catches up with her and the unnerving details of her heritage threaten to destroy all sense of home and all hope for love.

Even if she could clear her name, a phone call wraps a suffocating shroud around her heart. Her estranged father needs her help. But can Becca open her new life to the man who ruined her past?

My Thoughts: As far as I can recall, I've never read anything by Cynthia Ruchti before, but after reading this novel, I'll definitely be looking for more of her books.  This was just such a well-written story and I could not put it down - I was so swept away by the storyline and completely invested in the character's lives and how things would play out.

I particularly appreciated how sensitively the author handled the topic of dementia, and the importance given to the value of all human life.  She wrote in such a way that made the characters seem completely authentic as we watched them grapple with numerous issues including adoption, faith, healing, euthanasia, forgiveness, responsibility, and the struggle to find out what it is that makes us who we are.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with my complimentary review copy

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Lilla Rose Flexi-Clip Review and Giveaway

An online friend of mine recently became an independant Lilla Rose consultant.  When she offered me two of the clips to do an online review and a giveaway, I jumped at the chance!

We have many different hair types in our family, so it was interesting to see how the flexi clip worked with our girls' hair.

She sent me both a medium and an extra-small flexi-clip (sizes range from mini to mega) - the sizes are engraved right onto the clips, which is convenient.

The same day the clips came in the mail, I tried the medium on Emma's hair in a tails up hairstyle - doesn't it look great?!  Emma's hair is thick, curly, and has a coarse texture - the flexi-clip worked great.

I wasn't so sure the clips would work in my hair.  I general don't wear clips because my hair is quite fine and slippery, so they just don't work - at least not to secure the hair (I do wear clips as accessories, but they're not what holds my hair in place).  Well, the Lilla Rose flexi-clip works! The clip has kept my hairstyles secure all day long - with no sliding or flopping.

I've worn the XS in a half up....

And also to hold a twist.....

I think I'm going to have to get myself a size S yet as well - the XS is just a little small for a full pony tail in my hair.  And this is such a quick and easy way to turn a regular old ponytail into something a little extra.

Olivia's hair is thicker and curlier than mine, but also quite slippery.  Flexi-clip works for her hair too!  Here is the XS in Olivia's hair....

Check out my friend Emily Anne's Facebook page or her website to check out all the amazing styles available.

I prefer simple designs in either silver, black, or white - but they have lots of colourful options for those of you who are more adventurous!

They have several other products including headbands, bobby pins, and more.  Check them out! (Click on the "Go Shopping" link to see specific products)

That leads me to the giveaway portion of this post!  Yes, Emily Ann has graciously allowed me to host a giveaway.  The giveaway is open to new Lilla Rose customers (so as not to steal clients from other consultants) who live anywhere in the US or Canada, and the winner will receive a product of their choice from Emily's site, up to a $16 value.

How to enter?

Normally, when I do my own giveaways, I simply have you comment on my page and that's it, because I want the winner to be one of my regular blog readers.  However, for this giveaway, the purpose is to spread the word about Emily's new business, so we're going to go that route....

Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter the contest.  You can get up to 3 entries....
1) One entry for commenting on this blog and sharing which one of the items on Emily's page is your favourite.  This is not written in stone - you can pick something else if you end up winning the giveaway. I just want to make sure you've taken a bit of time to browse her site.
2) One entry for liking Emily's Facebook page.
3) One entry for sharing this giveaway on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram (only one of them, whichever is your social media outlet of choice) with a link back to this blog.

The contest will be open for 1 week.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks for providing me my complimentary clips Emily!  Now to figure out what I'd like to get next....

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Book Review: The Heart's Pursuit by Robin Lee Hatcher

About the book:  A jilted bride desperate to save her family from ruin.
A bounty hunter seeking vengeance for a ravaged past.
An arduous trek toward justice---or redemption.

Silver Matlock and Jared Newman know traveling together is a bad idea. Bad for Silver's already tarnished reputation in her small Colorado town. Bad for bounty hunter Jared's secret, single-minded mission for revenge. But Silver is determined to track down the rogue who left her at the altar and stole the last remnant of her father's fortune. And Jared's in a hurry to hunt down the murderer who destroyed his family---even if Silver is too distractingly beautiful for comfort.

The pair takes off over mountain and desert, past bleak homesteads and raw mining towns, hot on the trail of the two villains who took what wasn't theirs to take. Soon supplies dwindle, secrets emerge, and suspicion leave Silver and Jared at odds when they need each other most. To confront an enemy deadlier than desert rattlesnakes and rocky cliffs, Silver and Jared must learn to forgive and trust and face the question they haven't dared voice: What happens next?

My Thoughts: I always enjoy books by Robin Lee Hatcher and this one was no exception.  I thoroughly enjoyed the characters and the storyline.  I thought one or two things were a little too unrealistic (like an honourable man agreeing to have a single woman accompany him unchaperoned on a trip of any length - during that day and age).  There is one other thing I thought was unrealistic but it would involve a spoiler, so I'll leave that one out.  

Aside from those two picky details, I immensely enjoyed this book and would recommend this, and any other work by Hatcher, wholeheartedly.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with my complimentary review copy.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Disney through the eyes of Sophia - Part 2

Here is Part 2 of our Disney trip, as recorded by Sophia in her journal.

For Part 1 click here.

Day 9 - Friday April 4 2014
Today we went to Denny's for breakfast. I had French toast with sausage and scrambled eggs. After Dad dropped me, mom, Emma, Olivia and Jacob off at Blizzard Beach while he dropped Grandma and Grandpa off at their cruise. At Blizzard Beach I went on the family raft first. We went on that twice and then went to the kid area. In the kid area I went on a tube slide, ice bergs that you jump on to, and other little water slides. In other places I went on the Double Dippers water slide. You race someone down a REALLY fun water slide. It has two big drops that put my stomach in knots. After that I went on another racing ride. You go on a mat on your stomach and race two other people down the slide. After that I went back to the kid area and went on everything again. We found a different slide on the kid area that's hidden in the back! It was really fun! It was a tunnel slide. Then Dad came to pick us up. We went to Mc Donald's for lunch. We got chicken burgers and Mc Flurries. We went back to the house for more swimming and then got ready for supper. We went to Chuys. It's a Mexican restaurant. I had a taco. After we went to the outlets. I got my friends presents from the Disney store. I got them Disney cups and Mickey earrings. There was like a party going on at the outlets so it was very buzzy. We didn't stay long because of that. We went straight to Payless after that because us girls needed shoes for the Bibbity Bobbity Boutique tomorrow. We found the shoes we needed and went to the house. Dad got donuts so we ate them and then went to bed.

Day 10 Saturday April 5 2014
Today we went to Magic Kingdom. We went on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad three times, Winnie The Pooh twice, Peter Pan once, Under The Sea once, Pirates Of The Caribbean once and Jungle Cruise once. After we left Magic Kingdom we picked up subs from Subway and went back home. When we got home we ate right away. After lunch me, mom, Emma and Olivia went to Downtown Disney to get our hair done at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique! Mom already got our dresses earlier in the year, they weren't princess ones, they were regular dresses. We had to wait a little bit before we got in so mom got us a drink. Me and Olivia had water and Emma got a smoothie, but we all shared. Then we got called in. The laddie that did my hair was from Philadelphia. Her name was ________. I felt like a real princess the whole time she was doing my hair. We got to pick nail polish, eye shadow, lipstick, a comb, a jewel to put on our face and a crown for us to use. I picked blue nail polish, red and blue eyeshadow, red lipstick, a purple comb, a star jewel and a blue crown. They put A LOT of gunk in our hair so it stays in for along time. After the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique we went back to the house to get ready for supper. We were going to one of Magic Kingdoms many resorts, called the Grand Floridian! It was super fancy! It was like a castle in there! It was a buffet so we got our food faster then other places. I had Root Beer to drink and had chicken fingers, Caesar salad and strawberry soup. I thought the strawberry soup would taste weird, but it was actually the best soup I've ever had (considering I am not a soup person). Cinderella, her stepmother and stepsisters were coming around talking to us, signing autographs and taking pictures with us. After we had supper we went to see the electric water parade. It was a very short show, which I say took about 5-10 minutes or so. After we went home, watched a show and then went to bed. It was also Olivia's last chance to see Beth again and exchange phone numbers and stuff. But they didn't get to. I feel bad for Olivia.

Day 11 Sunday April 6 2014
Today we went to Blizzard Beach. I know it's not the best idea going to a water park right after getting your hair done, but at Blizzard Beach you can only get your body wet. Anyway, we went on tube slides, the lazy river, the kid area and some racing water slides. I had so much fun! After Blizzard Beach we picked up from Mc Donald's, I got a chicken burger and fries. After lunch we went swimming and got ready for supper. We went to Chili's. Me, Emma and Olivia shared 3 meals. We got a cheese quesadillas, grilled cheese and cheese pizza. I had Coca cola to drink. After supper we went to the outlets. I got mom's birthday present (hair accessories), loom elastics, and me and Emma together got nail polish to help your nails. Dad got me two Under Armour t-shirts. After the outlets we picked up Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and went to Target.

Day 12 - Monday April 7 2014
Today Dad and Jacob went to pick up Grandma and Grandpa from their cruise. So they were gone while I was asleep. I made eggs for breakfast. After breakfast we got ready for swimming right away. Me, mom, Grandma, Emma, Olivia and Jacob beat the Keep It Up record of 78 hits. Me, Emma and Olivia started a loom bracelet company. We made a lot of bracelets. After swimming we got ready for supper and outlets. We went to Cracker Barrel. I had a cheeseburger with fries. At the outlets I got Emma lip balm and nail polish. I got Olivia different lip balm and different nail polish. After the outlets we went back to the house. We had night snack, watched a show and then went to bed.

Day 13 Tuesday April 8 2014
Today we went to Hollywood Studios! It's my 2nd favourite park because of Rock'n Roller Coaster and Tower Of Terror. We went on both Rock'n Roller Coaster and Tower Of Terror except for Jacob and Mom. Jacob was too short for Rock'n Roller Coaster and was too scared of Tower Of Terror, and someone had to watch Jacob so mom did. On Tower Of Terror there was a high school group of 18 kids right in front of us in the line that were pretty annoying. But then the loudest guy yelled, " Hay! Let the family go through." So then their whole group moved out of the way and was clapping and cheering us on. It was weird. We also went on The Great Movie Ride, I thought it was a little boring, but everyone else seemed to like it. We also went to see Indiana Jones. It was raining the whole time so they didn't do all the scenes. Which was a bummer, because they didn't do my favourite scene. Where they fight each other, chase people and a bunch of falling off tall buildings. After the Indiana Jones show we went home because of the raining. When we got home we made loom bracelets and watched Dukes Of Hazard. We went to Carabas for supper, I had pasta and some of mom's salad, because she didn't like it. What a surprise. After supper we went back to the house. We had Mc Flurries from Mc Donald's. We picked them up at lunch time, but we didn't want them then, so we decided to have them for night snack. After night snack we watched a show and went to bed.

Day 14 Wednesday April 9 2014
Today it's mom's birthday! We went to Epcot because that's were she wanted to go. We went on Soar'n, Test Track, Norway, The Mexican Fiesta and Spaceship Earth. After the rides we picked up from Subway and went to the house. After lunch we went swimming. After swimming we went to Long Horns. Mom got to pick where we went because it's her birthday and all. I had steak with fries and oranges. After supper we went back to the house. We watched shows and then went to bed.

Day 15 Thursday April 10 2014
Today we went to blizzard beach. Guess what?! I went on Summit Plummet for the first time! I'm very proud of myself. After me and Dad went on Summit Plummet, Dad took Olivia on Slush Gusher. After Slush Gusher we went on the family raft. We went on it twice. Then we went to get in line for the Down Hill Double Dippers. The line looked long but we decided to wait. Not even half way through the line and we decide not to go on it because it would take too long. So we went on the red slope tube rides. We went on those twice, and boy, there are a lot of stairs to walk up. After that we went on the lazy river and went back to the house. We picked up from Mc Donald's. After that we went swimming. Me, Grandpa, Olivia and Jacob went for a walk. We went on almost every street in the area. We went to a little park and played there a little. Then we went back. When we got back I had to take out my Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique hairdo. I was disappointed, I loved it so much, but it lasted a LONG time. 5 days! Then we got ready for supper, Buffalo Wild Wings! I had wings with Root Beer. After supper we went to the outlets one last time. I got two lip smackers and nail polish. After the outlets we went back to the house and straight to bed.

Day 16 Friday April 11 2014
It's our last day. Today we went to Magic Kingdom. We went on Peter Pan twice, Whinny The Pooh twice, Under The Sea twice, Pirates Of The Caribbean once, Splash Mountain once, Goofy's Barn Stormer once, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad once. It was a lot of fun, but sad because it's our last day. Every time we went on a ride I said, "We won't go on this again until next time." Which was sad. After Magic Kingdom we picked up from Chick-fil-a and went swimming for the last time. After swimming we got ready for supper. Cracker Barrel is where we went for the last supper. I had my usual there, a chicken burger. After supper we went to the house to pack up. While we were packing we saw a lizard in Emma's bed! It scared all of us! We still don't know how it got there because Emma's bed is upstairs. She didn't want to sleep in her bed so she slept in my bed. Olivia came to join us because she was scared a lizard was gonna go in her bed. Anyway, after packing we had night snack. We had chocolate covered strawberries Mr. Mark and Mrs. Holly dropped off, with some Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. After night snack we watched a show and then went to bed.

Traveling Saturday April 12 2014
I am writing now as we're flying back home. We're all sad. But it has to be over at some point, which I don't like. I do look forward to seeing my friends though. Anyway, guess what time we woke up this morning? 4:00 am! That's ridiculous! So we drove to the airport. I slept the whole way. Once we got to the airport they weighed our bags and we went right to security. After that we got breakfast. I had a breakfast sandwich. It tasted so good, I think it's the best breakfast I've ever had. Well, I was extremely hungry right before I had it, so it probably wasn't the best breakfast I've ever had. But it was really good. After breakfast we went to the bathroom and got on the plane. I can't write any more until later because I'm on the plane right now and I can't predict the future. It's later, and I'm not liking "later" very much, because we're not in Florida. Anyway, after the flight we went to Menards (which is in Grand Forks, which is where our plane landed), because Pizza Ranch didn't open yet. We just looked around Menards and then went to Pizza Ranch. I had a piece of Buffalo Chicken pizza and a piece of Hawaiian pizza. For dessert I had ice cream with a piece of dessert pizza. After lunch we went to Scheels. I didn't get any thing there, but I think Mom and Dad got some shirts. After that Grandma and Grandpa went home, and we went to the mall. I got two sleeping masks at Claire's. After that, we went to Paradiso for the last supper. I had a taco and fries with a slushy to drink. After that, we went home.

And there you have it - our trip through the eyes of Sophia!

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Disney through the eyes of Sophia - Part 1

On our relatively recent trip to Disney, Sophia kept a journal of all the things we did on our trip.  When I eventually get around to making a photobook of this trip, I am planning to use her journal to make it.

Here is the tale of trip, through the eyes of Sophia....

Day 1 Thursday March 27 2014 
Today we woke up at 4:25 am! I know what your thinking, how could people do that to Sophia? It wasn't as bad as I thought. Anyway, we drove to Grand Forks and had breakfast at Denny's. I had chocolate chip pancakes and water. We then drove to the airport. Moms suitcase was too heavy so she had to put some stuff in Jacob's suitcase. Then we went through security, which went faster then I thought it would be. It usually takes 20 minutes, but it took 5-10 minutes. We waited a long time before going on the plane. Dad got me and Em a sandwich to share, and a water. We all went to the bathroom, and then got on the plane. When we boarded, it took a long time before we took off. Once we started going onto the runway we went pretty fast. Then we lifted off the ground and were above the clouds! It felt pretty cool. My ears didn't pop as much as I thought they would. I played on my iPad mostly the whole time, the flight was just under 4 hours. When we landed we rented a vehicle that seats 8 (me, mom, Dad, Emma, Olivia, Jacob, Grandma and Grandpa). It was an hour drive from the airport to the house (We rented a house, not hotel). Once we got to the house, we unpacked and went to Buffalo Wild Wings for supper (I got the jungle room).Me and Emma shared two meals of wings off the kids menu. Emma ordered BBQ wings and I ordered honey garlic wings, and Root Beer (which I obviously didn't share). We went back to the house after supper because we were tired from all the traveling. But we decided we could still go into the hot tub before bed. 

Day 2 Friday March 28 2014 
When I woke up this morning I heard everyone (except mom and Emma who were sleeping in, what a surprise!!) in the kitchen making breakfast. By the sound of dad's voice talking to everyone I knew that he knew I was awake and wanted me to get up and help in the kitchen. So I went downstairs (my room was upstairs) and started making breakfast. Once we finished making the breakfast Emma came down as though she knew we just finished the work so she didn't have to do any. While we were eating Dad made a rule that whoever doesn't help make the meal has to clean the dishes. We all agreed except Emma of course. Then mom came down and made her own meal so she didn't have to do the dishes. (Btw, we had scrambled eggs that I made, toast and orange juice which I just love!) to be honest, I don't know who ended up doing the dishes. It wasn't me though. After breakfast we put our swimsuits on and went to the pool. I wanted to get a good tan. It wasn't too warm so we didn't last out there very long. So we went inside to shower off. After I finished showering I played on my iPad a little and had some lunch. We had left over wings from last night with a banana. I played on my iPad some more after lunch and played with Jacob. I then got ready for supper, by then it warmed up a little. Giordano's was on the menu tonight for supper! We all had pizza obviously. The adults shared a deep dish pepperoni, bacon, and mushroom because mom doesn't like anything else, and the kids ordered a split pepperoni and cheese. The kids don't like anything else, I don't know what their problem is! After Giordano's we went to the outlets. I got two packages of loom bands. Pink and white. Then we got Krispy Kreme and went back to the house. Once we got back we ate the donuts and went right to bed. 

Day 3 Saturday March 29 2014 
Mom woke us up early as we went to Epcot today. We had toast for breakfast and left right after. Once we got to Epcot we went straight to Soar'n as that is the busiest ride, and one of our favourites. After Soar'n we went to the Finding Nemo ride and to Turtle Talk with Crush. Jacob and Olivia got called up to speak with crush and Jacob was really funny. After we went on a Norway ride which Olivia complained not to go on. After we went on a Mexican ride that wasn't as good as the others but was still a good ride. We went to our favourite ride next, Test Track! It's where you design your own car and test it! You go on your own car and go SUPER fast! Then we went back to the house. As soon as we got into the vehicle it started raining, as if the rain waited for us to get to a sheltered area. We picked up food from Chick-fil-a for lunch. We all got chicken burgers except Jacob, he got a bun. Once we finished eating we all stayed in our rooms to watch tv and have quiet time because it was raining outside. We all got ready for supper. We went to Carraba's. The wait was very long! They told us 10-15 minute wait. It ended up being a 40 minute wait. We were a party of 8 and they sat 2 other party of 8's. We went and complained and we got our table right away. After that we went to Target. I got Emma a blue eos for her birthday. After that we went home and went to bed. 

Day 4 Sunday March 30 2014 
Today it's Emma's birthday! She is now 13. I'm to tired to write very much so this will be short. We went to Magic Kingdom for Emma's birthday. We had eggs for breakfast, chicken burgers from Mc Donald's for lunch, and went to Long Horns for supper. I had chicken salad there. After we got Emma an ice cream cake for her birthday from Target. Btw, Olivia met a friend from England named Beth, she has the most adorable accent! 

Day 5 Monday March 31 2014 
Today we stayed at home, not doing anything except swimming all day. My hands are all pruned. Like prunes! We went shopping at the outlets. I got cheetah pj shorts, two packs of loom bands (orange and yellow) and Jolly Rancher lipstick that I'm sharing with Emma. 

Day 6 Tuesday APRIL 1 2014 
These days are going by SO fast! Not cool. Happy April fools. Today we went to Hollywood Studios! I went on Rock'n Roller coaster, Tower Of Terror, Toy Story Mania and Indiana jones, which is a show, not a ride. Tower Of Terror is awesome! It was the first time I've ever been on the ride. I was really scared, but excited! I squeezed Emma's hand, and squeezed dad's shorts. Only me, Emma, and Dad went on. Mom went later with Jacob Emma. I wanted to go again but I couldn't. Olivia didn't know what dad's name was until today. She thought it was Nathan but it's Nathaniel. That girl. We went to Cracker Barrel tonight for supper as a joke, but we ended up liking it. I had a burger with fries. 

Day 7 Wednesday April 2 2014 
Today we went to Blizzard Beach! My favourite water park! Its winter themed. It feels strange when I just got away from the cold and back into it. Mom forgot grandma and grandpas passes to get in so Dad went back with them to get them. (My note: Grandma also admits to forgetting the passes, so we've decided to share the blame on this one) While they were gone the kids and mom went to the kid area. There was a zip line, tube water slides, other water slides and icebergs to walk on. When they got back we went on a family raft and went racing on toboggans. After we ate lunch, I had a hot dog. We then went on really big tube rides. There were two different kinds. I went on both. One was in the dark and the other was bright. After that we went on the lazy river with tubes. I pulled everyone along. After we went home. We went to Giordano's for supper. Everyone had the same stuff as last time. We all had left overs as well. 

Day 8 Thursday April 3 2014 
Today mom and Dad went to Universal Studios, or whatever that park is called. It's an adult park so Grandma and Grandpa stayed at the house with the kids. We watched The Aristocats while they were gone. I made a loom bracelet and swam. We had left overs from last night. We swam the rest of the day and went to Outback Steakhouse for supper. I had a burger with fries. Olivia had ceased salad and didn't finish so I finished it for her.matter we got Cold Stone ice cream. I got fudge truffle with Reese's, it was so good! After we went to bed. Btw, Grandma and Grandpa are going on a cruise tomorrow. That was sudden!

Stay tuned for the second half of our trip, through the eyes of Sophia!

Book Review: The Queen's Handmaid by Tracy L Higley

About the book: From the servant halls of Cleopatra's Egyptian palace to the courts of Herod the Great, Lydia will serve two queens to see prophecy fulfilled.

Alexandria, Egypt 39 BC

Orphaned at birth, Lydia was raised as a servant in Cleopatra's palace, working hard to please while keeping everyone at arm's length. She's been rejected and left with a broken heart too many times in her short life.

But then her dying mentor entrusts her with secret writings of the prophet Daniel and charges her to deliver this vital information to those watching for the promised King of Israel. Lydia must leave the nearest thing she's had to a family and flee to Jerusalem. Once in the Holy City, she attaches herself to the newly appointed king, Herod the Great, as handmaid to Queen Mariamme.

Trapped among the scheming women of Herod's political family---his sister, his wife, and their mothers---and forced to serve in the palace to protect her treasure, Lydia must deliver the scrolls before dark forces warring against the truth destroy all hope of the coming Messiah.

My Thoughts: I love historical fiction, and I particular love historical fiction that takes place around the time of Christ or other biblical characters, or even revolving around famous kings and queens.  So, I was really looking forward to reading this book, certain that I would love it.

Though I did like it, I didn't love it.  I liked the story line but I found the historical details were rather hard to keep straight and I found myself getting bogged down in the details instead of caught up in the story.  I'm not entirely sure if that was due to the writing, or to my frame of mind while reading (I was tired and perhaps not as ready as I needed to be to have my brain heavily engaged in processing the information).  From a quick glance at some of the other reviews, I seem to be in the minority here, so take that with a grain of salt.

That being said, the storyline was still engaging, the characters were realistic and well developed, and I really enjoyed watching all the different plot points come together.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with my complimentary review copy.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Book Review: Dancing with Fireflies

About the book: A Chapel Springs Romance.  Jade returns home to Chapel Springs after years of protecting her fragile heart. Then along comes Daniel, making her long to dance again.

Creative and complicated, Jade McKinley felt like a weed in a rose garden growing up in Chapel Springs. When she left, she thought she'd never look back. But now, pregnant, alone, and broke, she has no other choice but to return.

The mayor of Chapel Springs, Daniel Dawson, has been an honorary member of the McKinley family for years. While his own home life was almost non-existent, Daniel fit right into the boisterous McKinley family. He's loved Jade for years, but she always saw him as a big brother. Now that she's back, his feelings are stronger than ever.

As Jade attempts to settle in, nothing feels right. God seems far away, she's hiding secrets from her family, and she's strangely attracted to the man who's always called her "squirt." Finding her way home may prove more difficult than she imagined.

My Thoughts:  I loved this book and had a really hard time putting it down.  Hunter has done a superb job of crafting a story that gets you personally invested in the main character's lives, rooting for the two to come together as a couple, hurting with them as they deal with different issues. The characters feel real, and to me that's always the mark of a well-written story.

Though this book is one of a series, you didn't feel like you were necessarily missing out on anything - except that it'll make you want to read all the others!

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with my complimentary review copy.

Book Review: The Devil Walks in Mattingly

About the Book: For the three people tortured by their secret complicity in a young man's untimely death, redemption is what they most long for . . . and the last thing they expect to receive.

It has been twenty years since Philip McBride's body was found along the riverbank in the dark woods known as Happy Hollow. His death was ruled a suicide. But three people have carried the truth ever since---Philip didn't kill himself that day. He was murdered.

Each of the three have wilted in the shadow of their sins. Jake Barnett is Mattingly's sheriff, where he spends his days polishing the fragile shell of the man he pretends to be. His wife, Kate, has convinced herself the good she does for the poor will someday wash the blood from her hands. And high in the mountains, Taylor Hathcock lives in seclusion and fear, fueled by madness and hatred.

Yet what cannot be laid to rest is bound to rise again. Philip McBride has haunted Jake's dreams for weeks, warning that he is coming back for them all. When Taylor finds mysterious footprints leading from the Hollow, he believes his redemption has come. His actions will plunge the quiet town of Mattingly into darkness. These three will be drawn together for a final confrontation between life and death . . . Between truth and lies.

My Thoughts:  To be honest, this was not my favourite book, and I only finished it because I had committed to reading it and writing this review.  However, this is not because the book itself is "bad", but more that the style of the writing is not my personal preference - the wording has an artsy feel and the subject has some supernatural/borderline weird aspects to it.  

That being said, the author deals with the question of how we deal with sin and guilt in our lives.  Some of us bury it deep inside, unwilling to deal with it.  Some of us try to atone for our sin by doing enough good deeds to somehow make up for what we've done.  Some of us try to rationalize it away but have to twist reality in order to do so.  But what we need to do with it is deal with it head on.  To acknowledge our responsibility (but not take on responsibility for the actions of others), and to repent, throwing ourselves upon the mercy of the only One who can forgive and wash away our guilt.

I liked the actual storyline, but would've enjoyed it more had it been stylistically different.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with my complimentary review copy.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Book Review: The A-Z of C.S. Lewis by Colin Duriez

About the Book: A Complete Guide to His Life, Thoughts and Writings

Published to coincide with the 50th anniversary of C. S. Lewis's death, this complete guide covers all of Lewis' works, from his literary criticism to Narnia.

C. S. Lewis's work is widely known and regarded, but enthusiasts are often only aware of one part of his work-his children's stories and his popular theology; and yet he wrote so much more, including science fiction and literary criticism. This volume brings together all aspects of C S Lewis's life and thought. Arranged in alphabetical order, it begins with The Abolition of Man-written in 1943 and described as "almost my favorite"-to Wormwood, a character in The Screwtape Letters. This book will delight anyone who is interested in C. S. Lewis and wants to learn more about him, his thought, his works, and his life.

My Thoughts: Lewis is famous for his children's series The Chronicles of Narnia, but only a brief glance through this encyclopedic book will confirm that there is so much more to learn about this man, his family, his career, and his other writings.  Anyone with a penchant for facts and love for Lewis would devour this book.

I'm not sure why, but I had a different idea in my mind about what this book would be.  For some reason I thought it would be a collection of excerpts from each of his works, giving you a taste of each one and enticing you to read them all!  However, that was not the case (though I would love to read such a book!).  Instead, this book is a veritable encyclopedia.  Literally arranged from A-Z this book covers facts and information about every aspect of Lewis' life - everything from his family, to his career, to his books, to the specific characters from his books, to his views on different topics, to people who were an influence on his life and theology - everything you could possibly wish to know, fact wise, about CS Lewis is included in this book.

This is not a leisurely read, but an excellent resource for Narnia and Lewis fans.  

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with my complimentary review copy.


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