Friday, October 24, 2014

Stars, Stockings and Shepherds by Shersta Chabot, Illustrated by Corey Egbert

Do you know the symbolism behind evergreens, sheep, or the color red? This adorably illustrated picture book teaches the meanings behind 24 Christmastime objects and is the perfect gift for any children, parents, or grandparents on your list. Make your family’s holiday season one to remember with this inspiring reminder of the gospel roots behind our treasured Christmas traditions.

I love all the symbolism that surrounds Christmas.  This book does such a great job of explaining the symbols in a way that children will understand.  The pictures are perfect- colorful and happy.  I'm having visions of curling up on the couch with a snuggy blanket and the little ones close, sharing a few precious minutes of quiet time to think of and remember Jesus Christ, whose birth and life we celebrate at Christmastime.

I loved this book.  I wish I would have had it when my kids were little!  I had a tradition when my kids were little of wrapping up all my children's Christmas books and putting them in a basket.  The kids unwrapped one book every day before Christmas and we read it together.  As my collection grew, we were able to start earlier and earlier in December.  It was a fun tradition and one I hope to start up again when I have grandchildren!  This will be a fantastic addition to my Christmas book collection.

Another thought I had was wrapping up each symbol from the book and letting the kids open it and read about the symbol for the day.  There is 24 in this book which would be the perfect countdown to Christmas.  If only my kids were younger!!  :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Mirror (Northwest Passage #5) by John Heldt

On September 11, 2020, Ginny and Katie Smith celebrate their nineteenth birthday at a country fair near Seattle. Ignoring the warnings of a fortune-teller, they enter a house of mirrors and exit in May 1964. Armed with the knowledge they need to return to their time, they try to make the most of what they believe will be a four-month vacation. But their sixties adventure becomes complicated when they meet a revered great-grandmother and fall in love with local boys. In THE MIRROR, the continuation of THE MINE and THE SHOW, the sisters find happiness and heartbreak as they confront unexpected challenges and gut-wrenching choices in the age of civil rights, the Beatles, and Vietnam.

This is the fifth book in this Northwest Passage series and now I think I've officially caught up.  I've been reading one every few months for the past year or so and I've enjoyed the journey.

All of these books deal with characters who travel back through time- some of the time travelers are even in the same family!  In this particular story twin sisters travel back through time to the 1960's.  As with all the books I've read by John Heldt, the events and attitudes of the time are accurately done and feel very authentic.  I really love feeling like I am in another time and place.

After finishing the last book, I was a little perturbed at the ending and I said so in my review.  The author told me that the ending in this book would probably be more to my liking and he was right.  I can't help it.  I'm a girl that likes happily ever after and all loose ends tied up nicely.

I don't think this was my favorite of the series, but that may be that in the beginning the books seemed new and fresh.  I do hope that Mr. Heldt continues his writing.  I would love to see a book outside of this time travel genre.  My continues thanks to him for allowing me to read and review his books.

Content:  Mild swearing, sex ouside of marriage. (Nothing descriptive but you know it happens.  Repeatedly. )  Both girls in the book are sexually active in the time they are in and were in the time they came from.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

HUGE GIVEAWAY!! Kindle Fire, Books and more!

On November 4th, HarperCollins unveils Forbidden, a seductive YA debut from award-winning middle grade author Kimberley Griffiths Little. Forbidden transports readers back in time to the deadly deserts and sweltering heat of Ancient Mesopotamia for a tale of danger, duty, and forbidden love. Jayden is on the brink of womanhood and betrothed to her tribe’s prince, cold-hearted Horeb. But when tragedy strikes, Jayden meets Kadesh, a mysterious visitor from the south who makes Jayden doubt everything she knows. Torn between loyalty to her tribe and the chance to escape her fate, Jayden must make a choice that will change her life forever.
Kimberley is also offering a HUGE preorder giveaway from October 6th to November 4th (release day!) to celebrate. See below for full details on how to enter. TO ENTER:
  • You must preorder Forbidden through an online retailer or your local bookstore, then email a photo of your receipt to forbiddengiveaway@gmail.com.
  • Fill out the rafflecopter below
  • US/Canada Only
  • Ends at midnight EST on November 3, 2014
  • Optional entries: share the trailer on your own site or social media, follow Kimberley on twitter, and tweet about the giveaway (can be repeated daily for extra entries!)
  • Winners will be announced and contacted November 4th (release day!)
  • If the winner does not respond with their mailing address within one week, a new winner will be chosen.
PRIZES:
(1) GRAND PRIZE WINNER: 1. NEWLY RELEASED Kindle Fire HD6 Tablet with 6" HD Display, Wi-Fi, Front and Rear Cameras, 8 GB -- choose your color! (Black, Magenta, White, Citron, or Cobalt) 2. GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson 3. CHAOS OF STARS by Kiersten White 4. Satin Belly Dance Skirt 5. Belly Dance 150-Coin Hip Scarf 6. Red Silk Veil (not pictured) 7. Red Middle Eastern Earrings 8. Belly dance DVD: Sensual Belly Dance with Blanca, a professional dancer (technique, choreography, and performances) 9. "Will YOU risk it all?" button (not pictured) 10. Set of 10 Book Club Cards 11. Jeweled bookmark (not pictured)
(1) SECOND PLACE WINNER:
1. GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson
2. Red Middle Eastern Earrings
3. Red Silk Veil (not pictured)
4. Belly dance DVD: Sensual Belly Dance with Blanca, a professional dancer (technique, choreography, and performances)
5. "Will YOU risk it all?" button (not pictured)
6. Set of 10 Book Club Cards
7. Jeweled bookmark (not pictured)
(13) RUNNERS-UP WINNERS:
1. Red Middle Eastern Earrings
2. "Will YOU risk it all?" button (not pictured)
3. Set of 10 Book Club Cards
4. Jeweled bookmark (not pictured)
Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
About Forbidden: In the unforgiving Mesopotamian desert where Jayden’s tribe lives, betrothal celebrations abound, and tonight it is Jayden’s turn to be honored. But while this union with Horeb, the son of her tribe’s leader, will bring a life of riches and restore her family’s position within the tribe, it will come at the price of Jayden’s heart.
Then a shadowy boy from the Southern Lands appears. Handsome and mysterious, Kadesh fills Jayden’s heart with a passion she never knew possible. But with Horeb’s increasingly violent threats haunting Jayden’s every move, she knows she must find a way to escape—or die trying.
With a forbidden romance blossoming in her heart and her family’s survival on the line, Jayden must embark on a deadly journey to save the ones she loves—and find a true love for herself.
Set against the brilliant backdrop of the sprawling desert, the story of Jayden and Kadesh will leave readers absolutely breathless as they defy the odds and risk it all to be together.
Follow Kimberley:
About Kimberley: Award-winning author Kimberley Griffiths Little was born in San Francisco, but now lives in New Mexico on the banks of the Rio Grande with her husband and their three sons. Her middle-grade novels, When the Butterflies Came, The Last Snake Runner, The Healing Spell, and Circle of Secrets, have been praised as “fast-paced and dramatic,” with “beautifully realized settings.” Kimberley adores anything old and musty with a secret story to tell. She’s stayed in the haunted tower room at Borthwick Castle in Scotland; sailed the Seine in Paris; ridden a camel in Petra, Jordan; shopped the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul; and spent the night in an old Communist hotel in Bulgaria. You can visit her online at www.kimberleygriffithslittle.com.
Share your thoughts on the trailer in the comments!

I loved this book!  You can read my review of this book HERE.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Cinder & Ella by Kelly Oram + Awesome Book Giveaway!

It’s been almost a year since eighteen-year-old Ella Rodriguez was in a car accident that left her crippled, scarred, and without a mother. After a very difficult recovery, she’s been uprooted across the country and forced into the custody of a father that abandoned her when she was a young child. If Ella wants to escape her father’s home and her awful new step family, she must convince her doctors that she’s capable, both physically and emotionally, of living on her own. The problem is, she’s not ready yet. The only way she can think of to start healing is by reconnecting with the one person left in the world who’s ever meant anything to her—her anonymous Internet best friend, Cinder.

Hollywood sensation Brian Oliver has a reputation for being trouble. There’s major buzz around his performance in his upcoming film The Druid Prince, but his management team says he won’t make the transition from teen heartthrob to serious A-list actor unless he can prove he’s left his wild days behind and become a mature adult. In order to douse the flames on Brian’s bad-boy reputation, his management stages a fake engagement for him to his co-star Kaylee. Brian isn’t thrilled with the arrangement—or his fake fiancĂ©e—but decides he’ll suffer through it if it means he’ll get an Oscar nomination. Then a surprise email from an old Internet friend changes everything.

I feel like I have so much to say!  I'm going to have to think of clever ways to condense what I want to say so I don't type a novel here.  I will admit that I read this book the minute I got it.  MONTHS before my review was scheduled.  And then I didn't write my review right away so I just HAD to go back and read it again.  haha.  Poor me.

I think Kelly Oram is an exceptional writer.  She has a knack for writing.  Her books always suck me in from the very beginning and keep me there.  I have no desire to stray to another book when I have one of hers in my hand.  (That is like the ultimate praise from a book reviewer because I am usually reading 3-4 books at one time.)

One of the things I think Kelly does so masterfully is write characters.  Her characters are always living, breathing, and full of life.  I can hear them and see them in my head.  The dialogue flows so well and fits the characters perfectly.  Kelly really nails these characters.

Poor Ella.  Seriously, how much can one girl endure?  Her life is so sad- a nightmare, really, but her determination to take baby steps toward getting better brings out the cheerleader in me.  She lost her mother in an accident that leaves her so broken and weak.  Her physical issues lead to mental and emotional issues.  After a ridiculous amount of time in the hospital having surgeries, Ella is sent home with her estranged father to a family she doesn't even know.  Her step sisters are abusive and mean.  She suffers ill treatment from strangers, peers and even her family.  She is bullied.  It's crazy.  And for all those crazy issues going on (and that's only with Ella!), I am amazed to say that this book never felt overwhelming to me as a reader.  That takes talent.

The relationships in this book evolve.  Understanding and compromise come through effort.  That is why things don't feel overwhelming.  Because hope is thrown in there and as a reader, I could see improvement.  It was so well done.

Cinder is a much better person when he is focused on Ella and not himself.  I love how the relationship between Cinder and Ella started (obsession over a book series), how it developed (by email, phone and then meeting at Comic Con) and even how it ended.  The road gets a little bumpy at times but I got the ending I needed for Ella and it made me happy.

My only negative about this book was the swearing (lots of it) and the sexual innuendo.  If I could take out the swearing and sexual stuff, I would be so happy because then I could recommend this book to EVERYONE.  As it is, I have to add caution.  I think a sentence from the book might sum up the way I feel about a lot of this book.  "Cheesy porno talk".  Not always cheesy but a lot of porno talk, and I really don't love that.  The book would be just as good without it.  (Well, better to me.)


Kelly Oram wrote her first novel at age fifteen—a fan fiction about her favorite music group, The Backstreet Boys, for which her family and friends still tease her. She's obsessed with reading, talks way too much, and likes to eat frosting by the spoonful. She lives outside of Phoenix, Arizona with her husband, four children, and her cat named Mr. Darcy.

Author Links:


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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Tried and True by Mary Connealy

Saddle up for a wildly fun ride with the Wilde sisters!

Kylie Wilde is the youngest sister—and the most civilized. Her older sisters might be happy dressing in trousers and posing as men, but Kylie has grown her hair long and wears skirts every chance she gets. It’s a risk—they are homesteading using the special exemptions they earned serving in the Civil War as “boys”—but Kylie plans to make the most of the years before she can sell her property and return to the luxuries of life back East.

Local land agent Aaron Masterson is fascinated with Kylie from the moment her long hair falls from her cap. But now that he knows her secret, can he in good conscience defraud the U.S. government? And when someone tries to force Kylie off her land, does he have any hope of convincing her that marrying him and settling on the frontier is the better option for her future?

Mary Connealy knows how to write clean western romances.  I love reading her books.  

The characters in this book are so well done.  I felt like I knew them and everything played out just like a movie in my head.  The beginning chapter with the roof scene when on too long and I was really glad when things finally got moving but from there on out, it was the perfect distracting read.

I love Kylie.  It was so nice to read about a girl who really just wanted to be a girl- completely feminine with pretty dresses.  So many books today have tough girl characters who can take anyone down.  Don't get me wrong, because I do like that too, but it was just refreshing to read a book about a girl who isn't so concerned about how tough she is.  Kylie wants a home where she cooks and cleans and takes care of a family.  She doesn't want to do "man chores".  She wants to be taken care of by a big, strong man.  It was kind of funny sometimes but endearing too.  Because Kylie spent a lot of time posing as a boy in order to serve in the army during the civil war, she is desperate to put that behind her and look and act like a girl again.  Can you blame her?  

She finds the perfect man in Aaron because all he wants to do is protect and love Kylie.  He wants to do all the "man chores".  See what I mean?  Perfect for Kylie.  

This is what I would call inspirational fiction.  God is mentioned and sometimes talked about but not in an overbearing or overly religious way.  This book is squeaky clean- yay!  I'm looking forward to the next books in this series.  This book set up the stories for the sisters perfectly and now I'm anxious to get reading them!



Friday, October 17, 2014

Because of Love by Shauna V. Brown

For Christmas, all Phoebe Brown wants is to give her daughters new shoes to replace their heavy leather boots. But because they have very little money, her husband refuses to pay for them. Inspired by true events, this Christmas story shows how the power of love can change even the most begrudging heart.

What a sweet, sweet book!  This book touched my heart and made me feel things.  I love when books do that to me.  

Phoebe longs to give her daughters new shoes.  The girls are ridiculed and hurt by other children because they wear big, heavy boots everywhere.  All the time.  One of the worst feelings, I think, as a mother is to know your children are hurting.  When your children hurt, you hurt.  But, just like most mothers, Phoebe is resourceful and creative and she devises a plan to work and get new shoes for her girls.  It's touching and powerful.  As a mother and a daughter, I connected with the emotion in this book.  Love is a powerful tool that can change lives.

This sweet story is less than 100 pages.  It reads quickly and is the perfect little Christmas story.  This will definitely set your heart in the right place leading up to Christmas.

My thanks to Cedar Fort for allowing me to read and review for them.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Wayward: The Prodigal Son

Wayward: The Prodigal Son (2014)

PG-13  -  Action | Drama | Romance

A dying father's last wish is to bring his rebellious son back home and into his loving and forgiving arms and reunite his family once again.

I had the opportunity to watch this movie as part of a prescreening for review.  This morning I was up early, before anyone else in the house and decided it was the perfect moment to pop in my earbuds and check Wayward out.  I should have brought a box of tissues along with me before I settled in.  Talk about a tear jerker.  I was crying a river before 8am.

This movie is based on the biblical story of The Prodigal Son.  It is a story I am familiar with and I was interested to see how this movie would go.  I would say that Wayward isn't overly religious or preachy although it does mention God several times and shows a character going to church and reading scripture.  It is based on a Bible story after all.  The movie was overwhelmingly about family and forgiveness and love.  As a parent, I was touched and moved.  There were so many emotions flowing through me.  To watch a child, or any loved one, make decisions that you know will hurt them is heartbreaking.  

What I loved throughout this whole movie was from beginning to end, the love that this father has for his son is constant and strong.  He always let his son know that he loved him.  His words were always to encourage and demonstrate that love.  "I will always support you."  "I will always love you."  "I will be here, waiting for you to come home."  His actions backed up his words.

I really enjoyed this movie, even if it did make me cry.  It was a good reminder to me that love is always the best answer.  Love and forgiveness.  We all need it and we all need to give it to others.

This movie is rated PG-13 for the dicey situations the main character finds himself in.  There is drinking, drugs, gambling, and references to prostitutes.


My thanks to Cedar Fort for allowing me to preview this film for them.