Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Book Review: Heaven is Real for Kids by Todd and Colton Burpo

Heaven is for Real, Kids: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and BackHeaven is for Real, Kids: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back by Todd Burpo

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This is a synopsis of the Kids Version: Heaven is for real, and you are going to like it!

Colton Burpo came back from his trip to heaven with a very important message: Jesus really, really loves children. In effort to reach even more families with this eternally significant story, this runaway bestseller is now told from Colton-kid to kids! Children will receive the same comfort and assurance that so many adults have received from the trade book.

Beautifully illustrated, this book is uniquely written from a child for a child. Colton tells of his experiences in first person and comments on things that will be important to kids.  A letter to parents is included to guide them in talking to their children about heaven, Scripture, Q&A pages with answers from the Bible, and a prayer of salvation.

My daughter (11) read the kid's version and I read the adult version and skimmed the children's version.

Her review:

The kids version was easy to read, probably great for kids from age 5 to 9.  There are scriptures scattered throughout, the illustrations are gorgeous and the language is easy for a child to understand.  Definitely a book that can be used for a bedtime story or in a children's Sunday School class.  My daughter liked it and it was a very quick read for her.

Love and Blessings!
Margaret


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Book Review: The Crossing by Serita Jakes

The CrossingThe Crossing by Serita Ann Jakes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From the book cover:
Imprisoned by memories, Claudia Campbell lives each day in the shadow of a ten-year-old murder. Who can set her free?

On the way home from a football game, a decade earlier, a masked gunman opened fi re on a Texas school bus. Cheerleading coach B.J. Remington was killed, but her murderer was never found. Claudia, who had a close friendship with the young, spirited teacher, constantly relives the anguish of that day, caught in one moment in time. When her husband, the assistant district attorney, becomes determined to uncover the mystery of that tragedy, the secrets buried over the years threaten to tear their family apart.

Officer Casio Hightower will never forget the day his dreams were destroyed. A star quarterback with a promising future, Casio was on top of the world—until one bullet changed everything. He is eager to help Victor Campbell find B.J.’s killer, the man who shot him. Maybe solving the case will help silence the demons driving Casio to hurt the woman he loves.

As the Campbells and Casio teeter on the brink of losing everything, will they be able to discover that what begins at the crossing ends at the cross?

My review:
I have to admit, I was skeptical of this book. I mean I respect Serita Jakes as a minister... but as an author??? I wasn't so sure!

Needless to say I was pleasantly surprised. The book had a great story line, fantastic character development and really drew the reader in. I loved following the thought processes of the characters and trying to put myself in their shoes. Ms. Jakes is off to a wonderful start!

Love and Blessings!

Margaret
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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Book Review: Shadow in Serenity

Shadow in SerenityShadow in Serenity by Terri Blackstock
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Carny Sullivan grew up in the zany world of a traveling carnival. Quaint and peaceful Serenity, Texas, has given her a home, a life, and a child. Logan Brisco is the smoothest, slickest, handsomest man Serenity, Texas has ever seen. But Carny Sullivan knows a con artist when she sees one---and she's seen plenty, starting with her father. As far as Carny Sullivan can tell, she's the only one in town who has his number. Because from his Italian shoes to his movie-actor smile, Logan has the rest of the town snowed. Carny is determined to reveal Brisco's selfish intentions before his promise to the townspeople for a cut in a giant amusement park sucks Serenity dry. Yet, as much as she hates his winning ways, there is a man behind that suave smile, a man who may win her heart against her will. Shadow in Serenity is a modern-day Music Man, penned by a Christy Award-winning, New York Times bestselling author.

I'm not familiar with this author, so I didn't know how much I would enjoy this book. But I did... enjoy it! There was mystery, intrigue, romance and most importantly forgiveness. I loved the two main characters, Carny and Logan. They way Carny was at him, you kind of knew where it was leading. But that's OK, sometimes you need the sappiness (or happiness!)! I love how the author described Logan and his change of heart. It was just a good book all around. I could see this really happening in any small town. The members of Serenity were real and believable. Just a nice, well-written book.

As a treat, here is the book trailer:



Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this book for the purpose of review. Opinions expressed are my own!

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Women of Faith Imagine! #wofimagine

Well it's been over a month but it's still fresh in my mind!

On September 9th and 10th, I had the pleasure of attending the Women of Faith Imagine! conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  My friend Lisa and I decided to attend both days.  This was my first Women of Faith event and it was AMAZING!! 

Throughout the weekend, these men and women, encouraged us, educated us, cried with us and helped us find restoration in Jesus Christ.  We heard from Henry Cloud (funny and serious), Sheila Walsh (amazing!), Angie Smith (so sweet!), Lisa Harper (tough!), Luci Swindoll (no nonsense but a softy!), Nicole Johnson (funny, sweet, honest!).  They each dug down so deep and shared with us.  This encouraged me, because a lot of times I feel like I'm alone in a situation, but I'm not.  Jesus never leaves me, even when I feel like I'm alone!


Dr. Henry Cloud
   
Sheila Walsh
Throughout the weekend, we were given scriptures and stories that allowed us to see that these strong women and men of God are just like us.  Broken, betrayed hurt!  We're all sinners and we all need Jesus!

Nicole Johnson did some amazing skits, I just can't even describe to you how wonderful they were!  Each one had a message, some funny and some very serious.  But when she spoke my heart broke for her and with her.  Yet she stood professing her faith in God in a strong voice.  Just amazing!  Each woman shared from her heart, their time of loss, their time of betrayal and their time of fear.  Even through it all, God restored them and brought them to NEW heights.    I felt restored when I left this conference.

It was exciting to see Mary Mary, Natalie Grant and the hilarious comedian Tim Hawkins (really, he had us hysterical!).  The entertainers we had were truly anointed.  The Worship team was amazing too!  There is so much to say but I really can't describe it in words, you really have to experience it for yourself.

What was my favorite part?  I love music so Natalie Grant and Mary Mary were amazing to me!  After that it was a tie between Tim Hawkins and Nicole Johnson!  But believe me when I say EVERYONE was Great!!   I can't wait until NEXT YEAR!!

Disclaimer: I was provided tickets as a Booksneeze Blogger to attend the events and share my thoughts!  I shared on Facebook and Twitter while I was at the event and on my blog now! 

Love and Blessings!
Margaret

Monday, October 31, 2011

Beautiful Christmas Ornaments at Zulily

OK, I admit it... I LOVE Zulily.  I think they just offer beautiful quality products at great prices!  This is a completely unendorsed post, I really just love the site.  Today they have some beautiful Christmas ornaments.  I have a few of these pieces and I know they are high quality:
Christmas Angel from Zulily







Take a look and see all of the items that Zulily has to offer. You have to be a member to see it! Love and Blessings! Margaret

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Book Review: Wrapped in Rain by Charles Martin

Wrapped in RainWrapped in Rain by Charles Martin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From the book:

An internationallly famous photographer, he has traveled the world and seen both the serious and the strange. But when his brother escapes from a mental hospital and an old girlfriend appears with her son and a black eye, Tucker is forced to return home and face the agony of his own tragic past.

Back in rural Alabama, Tucker comes to terms with the ghosts he left behind. Miss Ella Rain once loved Tuck and his brother like they were her very own. Hiring her to take care of Waverly Hall and to keep them out of sight was the only good thing their father ever did. And though Miss Ella has been gone for many years, Tuck can still hear her voice.

My review:

The book starts off telling the story of a mental patient Mutt (the younger brother) until he escapes, then Tucker Rain (the older brother) takes over the story. The transition between storytellers was seamless though. It's a story about two boys who grew up with an abusive father and relied on Miss Ella for protection. Miss Ella was a deeply religious black woman who was a combination housekeeper/nanny. Although she wasn't allowed to take the boys to church, she manages to instill in them the love of God.

It's a question as to which character is the main character because they each play such an important role. The story wouldn't be complete without any of them. The author does and excellent job of weaving this story and bringing it to it's comforting conclusion. This book reads more like a biography than a fictional book. Although it started off slow, I really enjoyed the book and would recommend it to friends.

Disclaimer: This book was provided to me free of charge by Thomas Nelson's Booksneeze program for the purpose of review.  All opinions are 100% my own!


Love and Blessings!
Margaret


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Book Review: Waiting For Morning

Waiting for Morning (Forever Faithful Series #1)Waiting for Morning by Karen Kingsbury

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


From the descriptions:


Hannah Ryan is the mother of two adorable little girls and the wife of a doting husband. Her life is perfect -- until the night her husband and eldest daughter are ripped away from her by a drunken driver. Torn by grief and rage, Hannah finds her faith -- like that of Jeremiah weeping over Jerusalem -- tested to the limits. As she walks the long road of her own modern-day Lamentations, she must learn to forgive... and finally discover that God's mercies truly are new every morning. Sometimes the road home is only found by letting go.


My review: 

Hannah Ryan is placed in a position that would cause many of us to "lose" our faith, to get angry with God...  And she does for a time.  But this is also a story of redemption, forgiveness and the love of Christ! Karen Kingsbury once again allows us to reach into the depths of our soul and draw out those "deep down" feelings.  How would I react if I was in this situation?  Would I be able to forgive?  Would I be able to continue with life?  Hannah Ryan had to face all of these questions and help her surviving daughter in the process.

I really cannot find all of the words I need to say how great this book was. As always, I found myself crying along with the characters, trying to place myself in their shoes while praying I never have to.  I found myself wondering if I would reject my faith, or is it "strong enough" to go through a tragedy like this.  What I love most about Karen's book is that you can't just read them and not make a decision about your faith and where you want it to be!  Highly recommend this book!

Disclaimer: This ebook was provided to me by the Waterbrook Multnomah Blogging for books program for the purpose of review.  The opinions expressed are 100% my own!

Love and Blessings!
Margaret
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Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Truth About Butterflies: A MemoirThe Truth About Butterflies: A Memoir by Nancy Stephan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From the "book jacket:"

They belong to each other. Nancy and Nicole—mother and daughter. They’re two halves of a whole, two facets of the same breath—until the day Nicole exhales. . . and never inhales again.

After the death of her daughter, and quickly losing her own battle with grief, Nancy moves from the house she can no longer bear to live in. While packing, she finds a box in the attic. Inside she uncovers treasures she didn’t know existed and evidence that she and her daughter’s lives had been more divinely entwined than she could’ve imagined.

The Truth About Butterflies is a true story of grief, hope, and transformation, and a single enduring truth: Life cannot be restrained by death


My review:
The Truth about Butterflies is a heartfelt story of a mother and daughter, a story of life's challenges and a story of loss.  I couldn't imagine the pain of losing a child.  But Nancy shares the joy of raising her only precious daughter... and of losing her, first to her daughter's rebellion, then to death.  My emotions were up and down throughout the book.  I felt the joy when Nicole was born, I felt the pain when Nicole was "lost," I felt the sadness when Nicole took her last breath. 


Nancy told her story with painful openness and honesty.  She didn't withhold the things Nicole did to herself during her "lost" period or the pain of seeing her laying on the hospital bed not knowing if she could hear her. I love this in a memoir because it allows you to connect with the emotions of the author.  I highly recommend this book for any audience!


Disclaimer:  Nancy provided me with a free copy of this book for the purpose of review.  The opinions are 100% my own!


Love and Blessings!
Margaret

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Friday, September 30, 2011

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Book Review: Sweet Sanctuary

When I picked this book I thought it would be an emotional story. I was a little disappointed in that I couldn't really relate to the characters. I'm not sure why though, they were well developed and personable but they just didn't speak to me!

Here's the synopsis:

Sweet SanctuarySweet Sanctuary by Sheila Walsh

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Out of the clear blue, Wren's Grandma Ruth arrives on her doorstep, dreaming of a grand party to celebrate her 95th birthday. Wren and her young son Charlie love the idea, but it quickly gets complicated: Ruth wants Wren's estranged siblings to attend and she wants Wren to sing her all-time favorite song: "His Eye Is On The Sparrow." It's the very song Wren sang one fateful day during her childhood . . . and Wren hasn't sung a note since.

Though she's glad to have Grandma back in her life, Wren's sleeping on the couch in her own house now . . . and worried about the expenses piling up. After all, her job at the community library is in jeopardy after budget cuts, and the fancy music program she wants for her son is getting farther and farther out of reach. What's more, Paul-the guy she's drawn to yet avoids-ends up being a major part of an important library project.

With family arriving and old wounds resurfacing, Wren's about to fly when she discovers something special-a gift of grace beyond her wildest dreams.


My Review:

Wren passed through life carrying a lot of guilt. While a sweet God-loving woman, she could not let go of her past hurts enough to forgive herself, her family or her ex-husband. She tends to put a shell around herself and her son to protect them from further hurt. As the story goes on and other characters are introduced, Grandma Ruth, Wren's sister Barb and brother Jack, Paul, the author does a good job of intertwining them and building the history. I'm not sure what was missing but this just didn't have the WOW factor for me. It was predictable throughout and maybe that was the issue. There's a little bit of anguish, romance, mystery of sorts so it was a pleasant read, just a little disappointing!


Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this ebook for the purpose of review as part of the Thomas Nelson BookSneeze program. Opinions expressed are 100% my own.


Love and Blessings!

Margaret



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Book Review: The Canary List

The Canary List: A NovelThe Canary List: A Novel by Sigmund Brouwer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Description from the paperback edition:

Protected by the dark of night, Jaimie Piper runs. But is anywhere safe when Evil is hunting you?


She’s just a twelve year-old girl, bumped around between foster homes and relegated to school classes for challenged kids, those lagging in their test scores or with behavioral issues. But her real problem is that she can sense something the other kids can’t—something dark. Something compelling her to run for her life.

All Crockett Grey wants is to mark the anniversary of his daughter’s death alone.

But when his student Jaimie comes to him, terrified, her need for protection collides with his grief, and a tangled web of bizarre events sends them both spiraling toward destruction.

Crockett’s one hope of getting his life back is to uncover the mysterious secrets of Jaimie’s past and her strange gift. It isn’t long before his discoveries lead him to a darker conspiracy, secrets guarded by the highest seat of power in the world—the Vatican.

My Review:

I'll start off by saying I liked this book. I was worried that I wouldn't because I thought it was just another book about corruption in the Catholic church. It was not that at all! It was interesting and had an excellent plot, which I didn't find predictable. While there were a few parts that I think were dragged out, once you got past them the story picked up. There were some occult references that made me uncomfortable but they were necessary for this story to work. While this is comes from a Christian publisher, I didn't find it to be preachy at all, just a good thriller. I would definitely recommend this book if you like mysteries and thrillers!

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this ebook for the purpose of review. You can rate my reviews at
Love and Blessings!
Margaret



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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Book Review: A Critical Loss of Balance

A Critical Loss of BalanceA Critical Loss of Balance by Mark Shaver

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


From the bookjacket:  Cliff Elliott thought he had endured the worst thing a parent could endure when his nine year old daughter was kidnapped, but he was wrong. The circumstances that led to her return were far worse than anything he could have imagined...



Disclaimer: This book was sent to me for the purpose of review. All opinions are expressed are 100% my own!

The storyline for this book was great and the characters were well developed. A family faces the unthinkable when their daughter was kidnapped. Although she was returned, there is so much more to the story than a safe return. The way Cliff executes a father's vengeance, it's gripping and keeps you interested. The supporting characters while bumbling at times, still are well thought out and likeable (or not).

This book had several spelling errors, which is a pet peeve of mine. One doesn't bother me so much but when you get up to 5 or 6, it's carelessness. But even more important than that, an important part of the story was inconsistent. One character found something and later in the book it was attributed to another character. That really ruined the book for me. Also, towards the end the writing got choppy and sloppy. I love to read and I really love to give the author the benefit of the doubt, but in this case I really think the book should have been edited a lot better!

I did finish the book and I did like it. However, the spelling errors and the inconsistent story cast a negative light.


Love and Blessings!
Margaret



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Monday, August 1, 2011

Book Review: How to Reach Your Full Potential for God

How to Reach Your Full Potential for GodHow to Reach Your Full Potential for God by Charles F. Stanley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


In How to Reach Your Full Potential for God, acclaimed pastor and speaker Charles Stanley connects readers with the plan and purpose God envisioned when He created them.
"Things are never going to change" or "This is just the way I am--I'm never going to get better" are just a few of the damaging lies Christians believe about themselves, their situations, and their walk. But Dr. Stanley shares the real truth as God sees it.  In this powerful and inspiring message, readers reconnect with the grand vision God had when He uniquely created them. They learn that regardless of setbacks, failures, and frustrations, there is a better path based in His Word, one that's full of freedom and purpose. This book takes them to their specifically designed path to become exactly who the Father made them to be and achieve exactly what He designed them for.


Charles Stanley has always been one of the foremost Christian teachers and this book is no exception.  He breaks down the steps in the simplest forms and uses stories to reinforce.  I find that I'm most receptive to this type of "self help" books.  I found this book easy to read and follow.  It took me a LONG time to read this because I would read a chapter, let it sink in, read it again while changing my thoughts and actions to reflect the teaching.  If you are looking to take your walk with God a step further I highly recommend this book! 


I was given a copy of this book for the purpose of review.

Love and Blessings!

Margaret

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I'm going!!!! Are YOU? #wofimage



I'm SO excited!!  BookSneeze (Thomas Nelson Books) invited ME to go to the Women of Faith IMAGINE! conference in Philadelphia, PA.  I've always wanted to attend a Women of Faith Conference but could never manage it.  Now I'm going and I can wait.  If you want to see who will be there, you can check here:

Women of Faith

Has anyone been to one of these conferences?  What was your experience like?

Love and Blessings!
Margaret

Friday, July 22, 2011

Book Review: Sisters of the Quilt Books 1&2

Sisters of the Quilt: The Complete TrilogySisters of the Quilt: The Complete Trilogy by Cindy Woodsmall

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I read books 1 and 2 from the trilogy in my personal collection and read the full edition of book 3 (reviewed separately) that I received from Waterbrook Multnomah for the purpose of review.

This trilogy is the story of an Amish Girl named Hannah Lapp. Hannah faces a series of traumatic and life changing events in her life. After the first horrific event, Hannah turns to her parents for help. At first, they recognize the horror of the situation and do everything they can to protect their daughter. When the Elders become involved, their view changes and even Hannah's friends cannot help her. Over the next several months more and more comes to light and Hannah is left feeling all alone. In one final attempt to save her sanity, Hannah runs away to a long lost Aunt. Her aunt helps her overcome the trauma of the last year and helps her find herself outside of the Amish faith and Order.

Hannah's story is one of triumph over tragedy. It's heartwarming and encouraging to those who have faced trials in their life. The only issue I had with this series is that it's like so many other Amish stories that I read. They girls grow up and live to "escape" the faith. I would have liked to have seen some fresh views and storylines. Even so, it was a nice read with a solid storyline.

Love and Blessings!
Margaret



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Friday, July 15, 2011

Book Review: When the Soul Mends (A Novel)

When the Soul Mends: A Novel (Sisters of the Quilt, #3)When the Soul Mends: A Novel by Cindy Woodsmall

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From the book:
The capstone novel in Cindy Woodsmall's Sisters of the Quilt trilogy places Hannah Lapp at the most difficult crossroads in an Amish woman's life. She must choose between her new love and contented life in the Englischer community or the renewal of ties with her Old Order suitor, Paul. Called back to the congregation that ostracized her, she struggles to find her heart's desire as she attempts to ease her conscience. A romantic novel woven deep with strands of faith.

My review:
I actually started reading this book first but realized I was lost without reading the other two books and getting the history.  This is a series where a terrible tragedy occurs to an young Amish girl.  Instead of embracing her, her parents and community turn their backs on her.  Throughout the series, Hannah is able to overcome her setbacks and move on to a happy and fruitful life. While she ends up leaving her faith, she finds a path that brings out her true calling of helping others. In this book she has to choose between returning to those who rejected her and staying with those who freely accepted her regardless of her "past."

I rated this book high because I love these type of stories.  While I enjoyed the storyline, I cannot honestly say there was a lot of depth.  Once you get past the tragedy in the first book, the story loses it's steam.  However, if you are looking for a book with and easy to follow story line and a happy ending, then this is the perfect book for you!

Love and Blessings! 
Margaret


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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Book Review: Journals of a Big Mouth Bass Book 1: Keeping Secrets

Journals of the Big Mouth Bass: Keeping Secrets: Book One (Volume 1)Journals of the Big Mouth Bass: Keeping Secrets: Book One by Debbie Williamson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a guest review by my daughter who agreed to read and review the book for me.


Mom: What was the book about?
M: A girl named Debbie Bass who writes to God in her journal.

Mom: Do you think Debbie was a good character?
M: Yes, because she's different in her own way and she has spunk.

Mom: Can you tell me about some of the other characters in the book?
M: Debbie is the main character.  There is also the Sunnyside Gang (Dell her brother, Bro, Jesse, Beamer), her Mother and Father, her dog Chopper, and Margaret a new girl from NYC.

Mom: What was your favorite part of the book?
M: My favorite part was when she made friends with Margaret because she found someone like her. 

Mom: Why was that part special?
M: She finally had a girl to hang out with instead of boys all the time.

Mom: What did you learn from this book?
M: You can trust God with your secrets, and always love even if you don't like the person. 

Mom: Is there any part of the story you would change?
M: No, it was too good the way it was.

Mom: Who do you think this book was written for?
M: Girls that have a broken heart and girls that are tomboys.

Mom: Why a broken heart?
M: Because at the end of the story something happens to Debbie.  I can't tell you because it will ruin the story.

Mom: Anything you want to share about the book?
M: It definitely relates to me because she has a crush on someone.

Thanks dear for sharing your thoughts on this!

From an adult perspective, I've read a few chapters and I think this is written for the older elementary school student.  It's written in a child's language and it's easy to get drawn into the story. There are some sad parts and your child should be able to handle emotional stories if they read this book.  I really like how comfortable Debbie feels communicating with God.  The one thing I have noticed though is that while the family seems to be of a faith that believes in God, there's not talk of bible reading, church or any type of fellowship.  That could very well be because of the manner the book is written. The book teaches a lot about friendship, disappointment and choices.  I highly recommend it!

Disclaimer: I received this book from the Cadence Group for the purpose of review.  No other compensation was received. Opinions expressed are my own.
Love and Blessings!
Margaret



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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Book Review: Love the One You're With by Emily Giffin

Love the One You're WithLove the One You're With by Emily Giffin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


About the book (from Goodreads)

How do you know if you’ve found the one? Can you really love the one you’re with when you can’t forget the one who got away?



Ellen and Andy’s first year of marriage doesn’t just seem perfect, it is perfect. There is no question how deep their devotion is, and how naturally they bring out the best in each other. But one fateful afternoon, Ellen runs into Leo for the first time in eight years. Leo, the one who brought out the worst in her. Leo, the one who left her heartbroken with no explanation. Leo, the one she could never quite forget. When his reappearance ignites long-dormant emotions, Ellen begins to question whether the life she’s living is the one she’s meant to live.
At once heartbreaking and funny, Love the One You’re With is a tale of lost loves and found fortunes—and will resonate with anyone who has ever wondered what if.


My Review:

What I liked most about this book was the story development. I was drawn in from the beginning. I enjoyed the interaction of the main character Ellen and the other less important characters. I was wondering all the way through whether or not she was going to make the right decision. The ending, while a little surprising, was perfect!


If I could change anything about this book I would make the secondary character more of a jerk! As it's written, you can't help but like him a little!


This is a book from my personal collection. Opinions expressed are my own.


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Love and Blessings!
Margaret

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Book Review: Judgment Day by Wanda Dyson

About the book (from backcover): SENSATIONAL JOURNALISM HAS NEVER BEEN SO DEADLY.

The weekly cable news show Judgment Day with Suzanne Kidwell promises to expose businessmen, religious leaders, and politicians for the lies they tell. Suzanne positions herself as a champion of ethics and morality with a backbone of steel—until a revelation of her shoddy investigation tactics and creative fact embellishing put her in hot water with her employers, putting her credibility in question and threatening her professional ambitions.

Bitter and angry, Suzanne returns home one day to find an entrepreneur she is investigating, John Edward Sterling, unconscious on her living room floor. Before the night is over, Sterling is dead, she has his blood on her hands, and the police are arresting her for murder. [Correction, she finds her dead boyfriend's secretary] She needs help to prove her innocence, but her only hope, private investigator Marcus Crisp, is also her ex-fiancĂ©–the man she betrayed in college.

Marcus and his partner Alexandria Fisher-Hawthorne reluctantly agree to take the case, but they won’t cut Suzanne any slack. Exposing her lack of ethics and the lives she’s destroyed in her fight for ratings does little to make them think Suzanne is innocent. But as Marcus digs into the mire of secrets surrounding her enemies, he unveils an alliance well-worth killing for. Now all he has to do is keep Suzanne and Alex alive long enough to prove it.

My Review:

This was a very quick read for me, I read it in about a day. The characters were nicely developed and interesting. The author provided "profiles" with out being too wordy about it. The main story was well written and easy to follow. The book was very interesting because there were several subplots. The author tied the whole story neatly together at the end. I tend to like this type of ending because I don't like being left with questions!!

My favorite character was Alex. She is a partner in the PI firm that takes the case. She was a tough as nails debutante but she didn't seem fake. Matched up with Marcus, it made for a great story!

I really can't think of anything I would change in this book. Just a nice, quick read.  If you would like to read the first two chapters, you can go here.

Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of this book to review as part of the Bloggers for Books sponsored by Waterbrook Multnomah. My opinions are my own.


Love and Blessings!
Margaret

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Tough Day for this Mom!

You know your a mom when someone does something to your child and you just want to shoot tell them off! 

Someone did something really terrible to my son.  I won't go into details because it's his story to share.  But these were people we trusted and we took them at their word.  Obviously their word wasn't as important to them as it was to us.  He's processed it and he's adapting.  I'm so proud of him and the way he has handled this.



Mom is not doing as well though, I want to strike back.  I want to hurt them like they hurt my son.  But in Roman's 12:19-21, the Lord tells me that vengeance is His. Instead, I have to treat my "enemies" with kindness and caring.  So I will, not because I want to, but because I know any small revenge that I could exact, would be disobedience.  I will continue to pray and to leave it in the Master's hands.

What is one of the toughest moments you've had as a parent?

I posted this in response to a Social Mom's blogging prompt but it was something I needed to talk about.  Love to see your comments!

Love and Blessings!
Margaret

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Book Review: Jubilee by Margaret Walker

JubileeJubilee by Margaret Walker

Imagine waking up each morning, knowing that your life was not yours to live, that you were under someone else's control. Imagine waking up and knowing that you had a hard day's labor, and you weren't getting paid. Imagine if you tried to "quit" this job, you would be whipped mercilessly.

For Elvira "Vyry" Brown, this wasn't anything to imagine, it was her life. Born a slave to her white master and his black slave mistress, fate was not on her side from the get go. Oh her early life, up until age six was charmed so to speak. Her only job was to play with her half sister and keep her company. That was until she reached working age... seven! After that Vyry's place on the plantation became clear, first as a house servant, later as the head cook. The story, written by Vyry's great-granddaughter Margaret Walker, takes us from her birth, through her life as a slave, to her eventual freedom. Her path to freedom was not easy but Vyry demonstrated an unquestionable faith throughout. She also demonstrated a kind and giving heart by taking care of the very people who persecuted her throughout life.

Margaret Walker heard the story of Vyry from her grandmother, Vyry's daughter Minna. How precious the words must have seemed!! You can feel the love and admiration through each paragraph of this book. It's not just an autobiography, it a family history and it's wonderfully written. I was drawn into this book from the beginning. The way that the author described the emotions and the plantation activities was so vivid. Having read other autobiographies about this time, I found that Margaret Walker is a top storyteller in this genre. By the time I finished this book, I had no doubt about the character of Vyry Brown.

Definitely a great read for a lover of African American history, Civil War buffs, and anyone who is interested in learning more about that time frame.

Love and Blessings!
Margaret


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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Book Review: When Sparrows Fall by Meg Mosely

When Sparrows FallWhen Sparrows Fall by Meg Moseley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I enjoyed reading this book.  The story is engaging as Miranda (Randi) a mother of six struggles to cope with raising six children as a widow, her overbearing Pastor and the involvement of her brother in law that she doesn't know. I love how she sticks to her principles for the things she feels strongly about, as well as allowing some latitude on the things she's used to doing but are not written in stone.  The author does a great job of describing each of the children as well as giving a great foundation for where the main character is in life.


The title of the book confused me.  I'm not sure how it fit with the subject of the book.  There were a few references to sparrows, but I didn't sense an underlying connection. It could have had something to do with a tragedy that occurred but that's as close as I can get.


What a liked most about this book is the way the author brought the whole story together.  Throughout she alluded to deeper secrets but didn't give them away until towards the end.  This kept me engaged and curious to know what happened.  There was a Christian theme throughout the book, although in the beginning it leaned towards the fanatical and evened out towards the end.


Overall, a nice, easy read.  I would recommend for anyone who has experienced children, tragedies and life in general!

Disclaimer: While the opinions expressed are my own, I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Love and Blessings!
Margaret


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Thursday, March 24, 2011

I have Sensitive Skin! #bMSkincare


Since the time I was in my preteens, I found out that my skin reacted to cosmetics in weird ways!  I get black marks on my otherwise smooth skin, I get dry rough patches and sometimes I would get this small breakout if there was something that didn't agree with my skin.  So I've been VERY careful about what I use.  Most of the time it was just water.

As I aged, I found that I needed something more than water to keep my skin happy.  I tried several major brands of cosmetics both available in stores and through direct sales.  While I had some good results, nothing seemed to provide the right combination.  So I resorted to just using cleansing cloths to wash my face and that's it.  But now I'm facing the same problem.  It's not quite enough!

So when BareEscentuals approached me about trying their bareMinerals line, I visited their website and thought maybe this is what I need.  Something doesn't have many of the impurities in cosmetics today:

RareMinerals ActiveSoil Complex

This proprietary complex in our skincare line is composed of the Earth's most natural, effective and mineral-abundant soil containing a comprehensive blend of beneficial macro and micro minerals that exist in nature. When extracted through a unique method, these minerals yield a densely rich, efficacious concentrate clinically proven to deliver faster cell turnover, noticeably smaller pores, increased luminosity and softer, smooth, younger-looking skin.

Healthy Ingredients

There are no synthetic fragrances, no artificial oils and no parabens within bMskincare.

It seems to be just enough to address the problems I'm having without overwhelming my skin!

I think I would like to try the deep cleansing foam and the Purely Nourishing Moisturizer to see how they work with my skin.  If the basics work well then I'll try the Blemish Therapy treatment to deal with the annoying black patches on my skin!

So if you had the opportunity to try the Bare Escentuals bareMinerals line, which would you choose?

Disclaimer: Please note, this is not a giveaway and I was not provided any compensation/product for this post.  I may have the opportunity to try this line in the future and provide a review. 

Love and Blessings!
Margaret

Friday, March 11, 2011

Book Review: Tandem by Tracey Bateman

TandemTandem by Tracey Bateman


My rating: 3 of 5 stars


From Goodreads:


As obsession and loss become dark partners, how far must the people of Abbey Hills go to survive?

Six months ago, brutal murders shook the small Ozark town—murders that stopped after a house fire reportedly claimed the killer’s life. Lauryn McBride's family auction house has taken responsibility for the estate sale of one of the victims—the enigmatic Markus Chisom. Submerging herself in Chisom’s beautiful but strange world, Lauryn welcomes the reprieve from watching Alzheimer’s steal her father from her, piece by piece. She soon realizes that centuries-old secrets tie Abbey Hills to the Chisom estate and a mysterious evil will do anything to make sure those secrets stay hidden. Even the man who grew up loving her may not be able to protect Lauryn from the danger.

When Amede Dastillon receives an unexpected package from Abbey Hills, she hopes it might be the key in tracking down her beloved sister, long estranged from her family. Visiting Abbey Hills seems the logical next step in her search, but Amede is unusually affected by the town, and when mutilated carcasses begin turning up again in the small community, the local law enforcement isn’t sure if they are confronting a familiar evil or a new terror.

Two women brought together by questions that seem to have no answers. Can they overcome the loss and darkness threatening to devour them—or will their own demons condemn them to an emotional wasteland?

My Opinon:

I'm torn about this book. First I want to say the book is not a bad read. It's not a GREAT read but it's not bad. The story is structured well and you can read this book without reading the prequel Thirsty (I did not read Thirsty). The story lines are good, the struggles about doing the right thing are realistic, I tried to think what I would do if I was in some of these situations.

What bothered me is that this is marketed as a Christian fiction book. I have no problem reading "non-Christian" fiction but I was expecting to see more about faith and victory. While this was alluded to, there was no really proclamations of faith, or demonstrations of God's faithfulness. There was a lot of darkness (think the Twilight series which I read entirely), much more than I expected. I would say I wouldn't let anyone under the age of 16 or so read this book, the material is too mature in the darkness sense (no sex or anything like that).

Love and Blessings!
Margaret




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Is there a Dr. in the House?!?!

I'm thinking there is something seriously wrong with my 17 year old.  He has cooked dinner three times in the last two weeks!!!  OK, I admit the first time he grilled the steak because he wanted to go driving when I got home from work.  But the other two time, there was no prompting!!  Oh don't get me wrong, I am NOT complaining and I wouldn't even be concerned really, except, he cleaned the kitchen too!  Now come on parents, this is NOT normal behavior for a 17 year old boy.  Should I get him checked out????

Wanna know what he made?  On Saturday, it was actually lunch that he made.  He grilled fresh fish and made Onion Rings on the side.  The fish was seasoned perfectly!! Can you say YUM! 

Then Wednesday, he made chicken (fried and grilled), his own version of creamed spinach (another YUMMY!) and a pasta side (from Knorr's).  He had the table set and all of the dishes ready to serve when hubby got home!  I got home later but it was still great to just come in and take my shoes off and eat! LOL!

I asked him why and he said he was bored!  I wish he would get bored more often!  It sure is nice coming home to a clean house and fully prepared meal!

Thanks B!  You are a great son! 

Love and Blessings!
Margaret

The IPAD 2 is here!

I know because I got the email this morning!  I'm a little excited because I might be getting one!!  I like that it has two cameras, I like that it's bigger than my Ipod Touch which I LOVE!  It just sounds like something great to travel with and have fun with.  So far the reviews from the beta testers is positive! 

What have you heard so far about the IPAD 2? 

Is now the time to buy?

Should I get the regular one or the 3G if I do decide to purchase?

I'll let you guys know what I decide.  Oh and if you are purchasing one, don't forget to go through Ebates and get 1 % cash back at the Apple store!!!!

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post, I really just want an opinion of whether I should get one or not.

Love and Blessings!
Margaret

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Time to Hit the Road!

March starts AAU basketball season for my son, and that means LOTS of traveling, very few free weekends and numerous hotel stays! It can get really expensive so I really need to focus on ways to save this year. I do have a few ways I plan to save that I’ll share with you! Who knows, maybe some of it will be useful!


1. First, with gas prices the way they are, we have to determine the least expensive routes to travel for our trips. This means minimal toll roads without adding a lot of miles. I invested in a new GPS system with current maps. I have the TomTom and I really like it! I will invest in updating the maps before our travel season so I have the most recent information available. This will save us time and money (as well as keeping us from wasting gas being lost!!).

2. For me anywhere I can save money is a deal to me. I am putting my car in the shop for maintenance, tire checks and anything else that needs to be done before we hit the road. This way we will not only be safe, we will safe money on gas and unnecessary repairs.

3. Since we don’t have a choice as far as when we travel, I signed up for the loyalty clubs for the major hotel chains (Marriott, Hilton and Sheraton). These points add up really quickly when you are doing a lot of traveling. Plus I have some classes scheduled for work so by the end of the summer, I should have enough points for a free room or two! Some of the rewards clubs also have “stores” where you can cash in the points for items.

4. I start looking for hotels early to try and catch a good deal. For instance we have a tournament in the Disney area this year. While we may not be able to enjoy the parks all that much, we can surely cash in on some of the hotel discounts that abound in this area. Since we will be there for a week, I plan to rent a vacation condo and hit up the nearby Walmart to stock the refrigerator! Some places I like to check for discounts in the area are Passporter.com and Deb’s Unofficial Walt Disney World Vacation sites. For other areas I like to check Expedia and Travelocity.

5. When I arrive at the hotel, after checking in, I look for the ad board. I don’t know the official name for it but it’s the place where all of the little pamphlets for local and area attractions are. There are usually some discounts for local food places.

6. I always visit the area’s Chamber of Commerce website prior to my trip. This is another place you can find coupons, and discounts for local businesses. Also if you are going to be in the area for a few days, you may find some local events that you can attend! Once we attended a local fair and had a blast!!

7. My son plays basketball so that keeps him pretty busy, however my daughter sometimes gets a little restless from having to sit in a gym all day. I shop ahead of time for little treats for her. Since I use Swagbucks as my search engine, I’m always accumulating Amazon gift certificates. I use these to purchase games for her DSi and also books and puzzles that she can do in the car. Saves a lot of grief and fighting over the laptop!!

8. My kids don’t like this one so much, but we gotta do what we gotta do. If the hotel where we are staying does not offer a continental or some type of breakfast, I get bagels and cereal for us to eat breakfast in our room. That’s one less meal that we have to pay for. They don’t like it but they know!

9. One thing I just started doing is checking to see what supermarkets are in the area. This way I can take my coupon binder with me and still save money if I have to shop for food or other necessities. Most areas have a Super Target or a Super Walmart so this is usually not too difficult. There are tons of coupon sites where you can find out what the best deals are too! I tell them I’m from out of the area and I don’t have their store card and most of the time the cashier will swipe their card for me. More savings!!

10. Last but not least! We have fun! Whatever the situation, wherever we are, we make the best of it and have a good time. Fortunately our team is very close knit so we eat most of our meals together and enjoy each other’s company. This is the cheapest form of fun there is!!

So there are my tips for a fun filled travel season! If you have any, I'd love to know what they are! 

I’m looking forward to exploring some new places this Spring and Summer. If you see me on the road, be sure to wave!!

In the interest of disclosure, I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Alamo blogging program, for a gift card worth $25. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Love and Blessings!
Margaret

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Book Review: It Looked Like Spilt Milk

It Looked Like Spilt MilkIt Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles G. Shaw


My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This was a cute book to read! Great for new readers or younger.

The funny thing is the other night, my son was getting ready for bed.  He had testing at school the next day so he had an earlier bedtime.  He had taken his shower and was still putzing around. So I said in my best Mommy voice "B, it's time to go night night, are you finished getting ready for bed?  Do you want Mommy to read you a story?"  I didn't hear anything, then all of the sudden he comes tearing into the room with this book in his hand, lays on the floor in front of me and waits for me to start reading.  So I read him the book and all throughout, he said "Mommy what is it?", "Mommy I wonder what it is?", it was VERY entertaining.

Why you ask? Only because my son is 17!! Yes I said SEVENTEEN! LOL! I was hysterical by the time we were finished!! It was a really cute book though!!

This is a book from my personal collection. I reviewed this book on my own and was not compensated in any way!


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Love and Blessings!
Margaret

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Make A Change - Make a Difference


If you could make one simple change to improve your life, what would you do?

Sometimes a simple change can make a world of difference. It’s up to you to make the changes that will move you towards the life that you want for yourself, your family and the community around you.

I started this year off feeling a little down about where I am at this point in my life. I expected to be much further along in my life plan and it just hasn’t worked out the way that I planned… or should I say that I DIDN’T plan??
 
I am used to be terrible at setting goals and following through, but this year is different. I’ve made a list of some very simple changes to help me reach the goal that have been in my head, but need to be in writing.
 
  1. I will improve my health this year. I’ve already started drinking more water and finding some fun ways to exercise. Did you know that Just Dance 2 for the Wii is a GREAT workout for couch potatoes? It’s hilarious too but that’s for another post!
  2. I will make my family my priority. As a mom who works full time and has a side business, it’s easy to get wrapped up in all that. But that stuff is passing, my family is forever. I will sit and read a book with my daughter, even if she can read it herself. I will listen to my son when he tells me about his school day, and his friend issues, even though he’s almost an adult himself. I will stay up late once in a while to greet hubby when he comes in from a late night. I will sit and visit with my parents instead of running in and out. I will keep in touch with extended family using social media… or whatever means necessary.
  3. My most important goal this year is to develop my relationship with my Savior. I believe that God loves me and that He sent his son as a Savior for me. But a lot of times I don’t act like it. I worry… A LOT, I get depressed… A LOT, and I just don’t trust Him to carry my burdens… A LOT. So I really want to work on trusting the Lord to be my Savior and to act like that is what I believe. I believe that if I make this commitment, my other two goals will fall right into place!

Why now? Why make these changes now? Because in the past 2 ½ years, I have seen too many young people pass from this world. They left so many things that they wanted to do undone. They ran out of time… That’s not the legacy that I want to leave, it’s as simple as that!

 
So I ask you again, what is your simple change?

Disclaimer: I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Simply Orange® blogging program. If I am one of the first 65 blogs received by SocialsMoms, I will receive a $25 Target gift card and a gift pack that includes a Simply Orange® cooler bag and logoed fleece."

Love & Blessings!
Margaret

Friday, January 14, 2011

Well Hello and Happy New Year!

Hello Hello Hello!

Jumping back in here to wish you all the most blessed of New Year's (somewhat late!). I'm just coming out of a period where I felt overwhelmed and out of sorts! Do you ever get like that? Needless to say, blogging was the last thing on my mind!!

I'm happy to say that TODAY IS A NEW DAY! My spirit has been renewed and I'm looking forward to sharing!


So let's get started! I have so much to catch up on. Some WAY overdue book reviews, a few giveaways (including another CSN giveaway, maybe with Spring on it's way you can use it towards an outdoor playset!) and some product reviews.

I'd also like to incorporate some new things, like how I saved TONS of money of Christmas and gift shopping last year, or sharing about how coupons have helped me keep my family in food, deodorant and lotion for a LONG time!

My goal this year is to provide helpful information to my readers and some fun stuff to. I'm also considering combining this blog with my business blog but I have decided on that yet. I will keep you posted.

So once again, Happy New Year and I look forward to chatting with you all!

Love and Blessings!
Margaret