December 8, 2014

Reviewing "Swept Away" plus a Kindle Fire Giveaway!

       "Swept Away" by Laura V. Hilton and Cindy Loven, is a contemporary romance novel that I had a hard time putting down. The "Quilts of Love" series is always enjoyable, and although you sometimes kind of get a hint of what's going to end up happening shortly into the first couple chapters of the book, the authors always do a great job of putting that little bit of skepticism into the reader's mind that keeps you feverishly reading to find out what happens.
     Sara Jane Morgan is used to dealing with a roomful of students, but her grandmother is another story. Grandma has big plans to teach Sarah how to quilt, while Sara doesn't want anything to do with it for the most part. She is more concerned with her Grandmother's diminishing health and her unpredictable behavior, which sometimes puts Sara into difficult situations.  Drew the handyman, is a very complex character with a complicated past.  When he meets Sara, he is immediately enthralled by her beauty, but their relationship gets off to a very rocky/tricky start.  Their encounters throughout the book are sometimes cringe-worthy, but I found myself rooting for love to win all the way until the last page.
     I really enjoyed "Swept Away" and I would recommend it to anybody who enjoys Christian, contemporary romance with an underlying theme of quilting and crafting.   The only thing I was not happy with was the bad light that was placed on foster care in a couple quick moments of the book.   My husband and I are certified foster parents and while we know that there are some "bad apples" out there, the foster families we know have really big hearts for kids.  Our country desperately needs more good, loving foster families so the more encouragement there is out there for that, the better.  Ok, I will get off my soapbox now. :)   Anyway, like I said, this was a very enjoyable book. It's a fast, fun read and it will keep you turning the pages late into the evening.  The characters are well developed and complex, and the plot deals with a lot of real life issues such as dealing with elderly loved ones in kind and caring ways.  Read this book! :)

Disclaimer: I received this book for free in from Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for an honest review

Don’t miss the newest Quilts of Love book, Swept Away by Laura V. Hilton and Cindy Loven. November’s QOL release is a spark of romance and fun just in time for the holidays.

Enter to win a Kindle HDX, and RSVP for the “Merry Quilted” Quilts of Love Facebook party on December 9th. 
One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • Swept Away by Laura V. Hilton and Cindy Loven
  • Hidden in the Stars by Robin Caroll
  • Quilted by Christmas by Jodie Bailey
Enter today by clicking the button below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on December 9th. Winner will be announced during the "Merry Quilted" Christmas Facebook party on December 9th. RSVP today and connect with some of the Quilts of Love authors (Jodie Bailey, Laura V. Hilton, Cindy Loven, Cathy Elliott, and Gina Welborn) for a "merry" evening of book chat, Christmas traditions, prizes, and more!

RSVP today and spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on December 9th!

December 1, 2014

Reviewing "A Beautiful Mess Happy Handmade Home"

   "A Beautiful Mess Happy Handmade Home"by Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman, is a fun and beautiful look at DIY crafts and projects you can do to brighten and liven up your home decor.   Elsie and Emma are the sisters behind the very popular blog "A Beautiful Mess".  Their specialty is crafty, fun projects anyone can do without breaking the bank.
    The book is organized into home categories such as dining rooms, bedrooms, and small spaces.  Each chapter contains an array of projects with bold colors and design. (Eye candy for anybody who loves to decorate.)  The sisters make a point to say that these projects are created using their own personal style and taste, and that each one can serve as a jumping off point for your own decorating ideas.  So even if your taste doesn't quite match up with theirs, I guarantee you will find something that will inspire you to try something new in your house.
     I really enjoyed this book and all the ideas that popped into my head while reading it.   It's always nice to get a fresh perspective on decorating and this book is full of inspiration.   Even the projects that may not have been my style, planted seeds in my head for future decorating opportunities. I've been itching to do a little redecorating at our house and this was the perfect thing to get my brain going.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. 

Reviewing "Buttermilk Sky" by Jan Watson

   "Buttermilk Sky" by Jan Watson,  is based in early 1900s Kentucky.  The main character, 18-year-old Mazy Pelfrey, leaves her home in the Kentucky mountains to attend Secretarial school in Lexington.  While she's eager to leave her hometown and get a taste of city life, she finds lots of challenges along the way, not the least of which being some mean girls in her school. I could definitely identify with how mean school-age girls can be toward one another so I felt her pain in those moments.  
     The main story line revolves around a choice Mazy must make between a man named Chanis, a young sheriff from her hometown, and a man named Loyal Chambers who comes from a very wealthy family and lives in the city.  Mazy's vision gets clouded by the charming Loyal and all of his determination to marry her. When Chanis comes to visit, all of Mazy's friends are smitten by him and can't understand Mazy's reluctance to go home and marry him. 
    I definitely enjoyed portions of this book but found my mind wandering at times.  I really enjoyed the Cinnamon character and thought she would be an integral part of the plot since she's the first character we meet. But she remains on the sidelines for a lot of the book.   I think Jan Watson is a wonderful writer but didn't get into the plot of this one as much as I have in other books she's written. But if you are a Jan Watson fan or a fan of early 1900s historical fiction, I would definitely give it a try.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. 

November 28, 2014

Reviewing "The Christmas Story for Children"

     "The Christmas Story for Children" by Max Lucado, Randy Frazee and Karen Davis Hill, and illustrated by Fausto Bianchi, is a neat children's book that can easily be used as a teaching tool in your household all year round. Even though it's called "The Christmas Story", it actually includes the story of Christ's life through his baptism and beginning of his teaching.  It's very Biblically accurate and paraphrases scripture well.  
     There is quite a bit of small print on many of the pages so it seems geared toward a slightly older age group of kids, but reading it out loud to the little ones would probably work well too.  The illustrations are very unique and not necessarily done in a typical children's book style.  I would describe it as a comic book style mixed with Italian Renaissance art. Although I probably would prefer the sheep to look a little cuter, I can see what they were going for style-wise, as it makes this book stand out from the rest.  I would recommend this book to anybody who has young kids in the house and is looking for a tool to tell the story of Christ's birth and start of his ministry.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

November 25, 2014

Reviewing "The Legend of the Candy Cane"

     "The Legend of the Candy Cane", written by Lori Walburg and Illustrated by Richard Cowdrey, is a beautifully illustrated board book with an inspirational tale about the symbolic meaning behind candy canes.  The book begins with a stranger arriving into town and renovating a dilapidated store.  All of the townspeople are speculating as to what kind of store it will be, and the children are delightfully surprised to find out that it's an adorable candy shop.  Lucy, the main character helps the store owner unpack his boxes and put the store together.  Upon opening the last crate, Lucy finds a sugary treat she's never seen before, a candy cane.  The store owner, Mr. Sonneman, proceeds to explain the story behind this special Christmas candy, an illustration of Christ's birth, death on the cross, and how He wiped away the sins of humanity.
     While the legend of the candy cane has unknown origins, it is a sweet way to talk about the true meaning of Christmas with your children.  The illustrations are sure to grab their attention and the fact that it's a board book makes it very durable for little hands.  Although the part about Christ being beaten and bloody may be a little mature for the toddler set, judging the mindset of your kiddos and  leaving that short part out until they are ready would be very easy to do.  I would recommend this book to families with young kids who want some fun ways to talk about the meaning of Christmas, and create some family traditions around a tasty treat.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Booklook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review. 

November 24, 2014

Reviewing "Christmas at Rose Hill Farm"

       When you combine roses, Christmas, an Amish love story, and an Author like Suzanne Woods Fisher, you have a recipe for the sweet smell of success. Pun intended.  The main character, Bess Riehl, is preparing for a Christmas wedding to a man she never expected to marry. Instead of following her heart, she is doing what she feels is the sensible thing, and marrying a nice sensible man who she knows will provide a good life for her.   But when she finds an unidentified rose growing in a pot in her family's greenhouse and her father calls in a rose rustler to identify it, everything changes and life becomes very exciting... and confusing.
       I enjoy Amish fiction and I love Christmas.  So it's not surprising that I really enjoyed reading this book.  The characters were relatable and I also found the overall theme of rose farming to be very interesting. I had no idea how many kinds of roses existed in the world, and it made me want to learn more and grow more roses on our patio. We have a large rose bush on our patio and this book made me realize that I don't even know what kind it is! My next assignment: patio rose identification.  I would recommend this book to anybody who enjoys Amish fiction with a love story as the main plot line.
Disclaimer: I received this book from Revell Reads for free in exchange for an honest review.

November 16, 2014

Reviewing "The River" by Beverly Lewis

     "The River" by Beverly Lewis is extremely heartwarming Amish Fiction that I would recommend to anybody who enjoys the genre.  Two sisters, Tilly and Ruth,  left the Amish community to become "Fancy" and basically had cut ties from their family.  They each left for different reasons, one escaping heartbreak, and one escaping a life of feeling like she didn't belong.  When they unexpectedly received a call from their bother inviting them to their parents' Anniversary party, they were both hesitant to re-enter that life they had run from.  But upon their return they find that life in their community is different from what they had left, and they spend a week working through their pasts and creating new ties with some members of their family.
     If you know the author "Beverly Lewis" it won't come as a surprise that this was an enjoyable read. She has authored more than 90 books and is a New York Times Best Selling Author.  She has a knack for making the reader feel entrenched in the Amish culture, to the point where you can picture the Amish life pretty easily.  I enjoyed the characters in "The River" and felt so bad about the pain they had experienced in their lives.  I was hoping for a breakthrough for each of the main characters as they were reintroduced to Amish life. The family seemed very realistic to me, with members who were welcoming of the women and others who will probably never forgive them for leaving the plain life.  I really enjoyed how it ended and won't spoil it, but I will say it is definitely a worthwhile read.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.