Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My Favorite Books for 2014

Wow! Another year has flown by at an incredible rapid pace. This was my busiest year reading and there were some great books to be read. Some of the ones on my list were not published this year though most of them were. I had to read some older ones and with authors, Susan May Warren and Jody Hedlund, I had to get caught up in the series and read multiple.
They are in no particular order but I can say I loved each of them!

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Such a great read. Jody Hedlund is a new favorite.

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I love everything that Joanne writes. She has such a way with words.

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Elizabeth Camden created two great characters for this book, I couldn't put it down.

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Lisa Wingate has such a unique writing style and the story within this book is beautiful.

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Laura Frantz continues her series of the Ballantyne legacy. Great series!

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Irene Hannon knows how to write suspense! Great book keeps you on the edge of your comfy chair.


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Francine Rivers creates such depth with her characters and doesn't mind getting into the deep tough issues. Couldn't put it down.

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I loved this book because it was so fun to read more of a young adult type book.

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This book took me on quite a journey that I won't soon forget. Read it.

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Dani continues her family saga with all the suspense and action you can imagine.

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Cathy Gohlke takes the reader right into life during World War II. Great eye-opener.

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This is such a great series that Susan May Warren has created. This book might just be my favorite from them all.



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I love Ted Dekker and this book took on a totally different setting that I loved.

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I finally read the book that everyone had been talking about! I admit, it's a pretty good read, much better than the movie.

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I love this book. It has a purpose for it's story.


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This book kept me wide awake as I couldn't put it down or read it at night. Very good suspense.

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I think this is one of Robin Lee Hatchers' best books. I felt connected to the characters and even with two story lines it flowed beautifully.




Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Always On My Mind Book Review

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About the Book
 
 After a failed dig in Honduras, aspiring archaeologist Casper Christiansen heads home to Minnesota to face his unresolved feelings for Raina Beaumont, the woman of his dreams. But when he arrives unannounced on her doorstep, he receives the shock of a lifetime: Raina is pregnant with someone else’s baby.

Heartbroken, especially when he discovers the identity of the baby’s father, Casper tables his dreams and determines to be dependable for once, helping his older brother, Darek, prepare the family resort for its grand reopening. Casper longs to be the hero of at least one family story, but a never-ending Deep Haven winter and costly repairs threaten their efforts—and the future of the resort.

Worse, one of Casper’s new jobs constantly brings him into contact with Raina, whom he can’t seem to forget. A tentative friendship begins to heal fresh wounds, but can they possibly overcome past mistakes and current choices to discover a future together? (Goodreads)

 My Review


This Christiansen series has been simply wonderful! This book focuses on Casper who a middle child and who got his heart broken in the previous book. I like this book because it's a bit different than the previous ones. This story line has a history to it and another past story line connected with Raina's new job. She starts going through an estate and finds an old journal that connects with a long lost story that no one in town believed to be true. I am not sure how I feel about Raina and Casper's relationship, I'm sure we will find new details in the next book. I felt like the book just ended but at least I know there is more to come.
This was a great continuation for this series!

Please start with the first book in the series and read them all if you haven't yet. 

"I received this book from Tyndale for free in exchange for an honest review."












Sunday, December 28, 2014

Frosty VoxBox!

I was so excited to receive the Frosty Vox Box from Influenster!! If you haven't signed up for this program you really should!

Check out my Pinterest page to see info on all of the products.


I had no idea what would be in my voxbox and was really surprised at all of the goodies!! 

I LOVE the Rimmel Scandaleyes Waterproof Kohl Kajal Eyeliner! It doesn't smear and it's super easy to put on. I was reading and it looks like I'll have to sharpen this one because it doesn't twist up. I will definitely be buying this again! 

Rimmel Gentle Eye Makeup remover came at perfect timing! I had just got someone makeup that I really needed remover to take it off. I LOVE this stuff! It doesn't irritate my skin and takes the makeup right off. I will be buying this in the future. 

The No7 Protect and Perfect Advanced Sachet is not something I have really used but oh well. 

The NYC expert Last Lip Color in Sugar Plum is wonderful!! The color is great, not too bright and blends well. 

I am a fan of tea-all kinds. I will say the Celestial Seasonings Candy Cane Lane Decaf Green tea is now the one and only holiday tea flavor I will drink! I usually am not a fan of the holiday blends, they leave a weird aftertaste. But this specific kind is super yummy!

The EcoTools Hair brush I will not use. It's the bristles and it really makes my hair static up even though the label says otherwise. 

The Fruit Vines Bites I didn't like but my husband did...so hey he got something too!!

The McCormick Gourmet Thyme of course is delicious! We use a lot of spices when we cook though thyme is not used as often. In any case I still love this spice and look forward to using it!

This was a great surprise "Christmas gift" and I really do recommend checking out this program.

"I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes."



Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Price of Privilege Book Review



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About the Book
Having finally discovered the truth of her birthright, Julia Elliston is determined to outwit Chance Macy at his own game. Holding a secret he'd kill to keep, however, is proving more difficult than she imagined.Just when Julia thinks she's managed to untangle herself from Macy's clutches, he changes tactics with a risky ploy. As the scandal of the century breaks loose, drawing rooms all over London whisper what so far newspapers have not dared to print: Macy's lost bride is none other than Lord Pierson's daughter--and one of the most controversial cases of marital law ever seen comes before Victorian courts.Though Julia knows Macy's version of events is another masterful manipulation, public opinion is swaying in his favor. Caught in a web of deceit and lies, armed only with a fledgling faith, Julia must face her fiercest trial yet. (Goodreads)


My Review

I have mixed feelings with this book. I have really enjoyed this series because it's so unique and the story line is complicated and deep with characters. The first book remains my favorite but this final book leaves me unsettled. This final book takes you into the climax of Mr. Macy vs. Julia and you know everything bad will happen before anything good. The manipulation and politics within the pages made it a tedious read but I couldn't put it down. With all of Jessica's' books I have been engrossed with the story line I just feel like the ending could have been a little different for this trilogy. In any case, this series is splendid and wonderfully written! The history and details from society and expectations for this time period are astounding. There is black mail, murder, romance, and an incredible faith in God to withstand it all.

Great read highly recommend!

"I received this book from Tyndale for free in exchange for an honest review."











Sunday, December 21, 2014

It Will Be Okay Children's Review



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About the Book
 
Whether we like it or not, growing up brings change. For many children, this conjures fears that are sometimes real and sometimes imagined. How can kids learn that even when they face new and unfamiliar situations, they don’t have to be afraid?  
Little Seed and Little Fox are facing changes and brand new circumstances—and they don’t like it one bit! Through this unlikely friendship, children will discover that no matter how new or fearful their circumstances, God is always with them. The whimsical art by Natalia Moore will put a smile on kids’ faces and put their minds at ease. Just as Little Seed and Little Fox learn to trust that the Farmer is good and kind, children will also learn to trust God. 
Written by New York Times bestselling author Lysa TerKeurst, It Will Be Okay will help kids discover that the end, it really will be okay because we have a God who is good and kind and always with us. (Goodreads)


My Review

This book really surprised me. I think it really speaks to everyone, not just children. The story is about a seed, a fox, and a Farmer. The Farmer is God and she interprets him as one who takes care of us or the seed and fox in the book. I loved the analogy because I live in a big agriculture area where everyone is a farmer. I love how God's love is portrayed through the book to children and how sometimes things are scary and it will not always be perfect, but God is your farmer, He will always take care of you.

Great children's book, I can't wait to share it with all my littles!!

Thanks to BookLook Bloggers for giving me a free copy in exchange for an honest review.












Provence, 1970


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About the Book
Provence, 1970 is about a singular historic moment. In the winter of that year, more or less coincidentally, the iconic culinary figures James Beard, M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, Richard Olney, Simone Beck, and Judith Jones found themselves together in the South of France. They cooked and ate, talked and argued, about the future of food in America, the meaning of taste, and the limits of snobbery. Without quite realizing it, they were shaping today’s tastes and culture, the way we eat now. The conversations among this group were chronicled by M.F.K. Fisher in journals and letters—some of which were later discovered by Luke Barr, her great-nephew. In Provence, 1970, he captures this seminal season, set against a stunning backdrop in cinematic scope—complete with gossip, drama, and contemporary relevance. (Goodreads)


My Review

This is a unique book in the fact that it's about multiple people's lives. Luke Barr is the grandnephew to M. F. K Fisher so he had good knowledge on all of these famous culinary folks meeting. The book grabbed me in the first few chapters, but then things got a bit slow. There is a lot of jumping around with the different people and it reads like a biography, which is the category the book is under. I like biographies and I really enjoyed the many parts about Julia Child. There are letters and so many little details that give the reader a glimpse into the lives of these people and Provence. 

I think the book could have been written a little better perhaps with a different organization of the story line? I also wish it wasn't just the author telling me what happened. I want to feel like I'm in Provence with them and this book was not that way.

Four stars.

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













Friday, December 19, 2014

Reese Witherspoon and the Good Lie DVD Giveaway







I love Reese Witherspoon but more than that I like good quality movies! I had no idea what this movie was about but I thought I would give it a try. Wow!! The Good Lie takes you from Africa to the U.S. in a way I never knew about. Of course I have heard of the civil war in Sudan but this movie makes it more personal, as many of the main actors are actually survivors and refugees from Sudan. 
Witherspoon's character in the movie I think is very to relate with and I was blown away by this story based on fact. 
This is one of the better movies I have seen for awhile but it is rated PG-13 for a reason. There is some language, drug use, drinking, and survival while the Lost Boys walk through Africa. There are some things you really won't want to see during the first part of the movie because it's not comfortable, it's not what we are used to in the comfort of our own homes. They are hungry they are running from soldiers, and they see death. These kids survive crazy awful circumstances in Africa and the film doesn't shy away from what happened. 

I loved this movie and I am so excited to get the word out!
Thanks to Grace Hill Media for giving me a free copy in exchange for an honest review!
Grace Hill Media has also given me a copy of the movie to give to one of my readers! 



Enter below for a chance to win the Blue-Ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack of the Good Lie!

U.S. and Canada only please. 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Wisdomantics DVD Interactive Board Game Review & Giveaway









About the game:
For 2-4 players, ages 12+
Wisdomantics–New King James Version (NKJV) is an interactive DVD board game for players of various faiths who desire to gain the vast wisdom of King Solomon. Wisdomantics-NKJV utilizes the proverbs of Solomon and blends chance, knowledge and strategy to create a fun experience while you learn! The game’s intent is to bring individuals together to learn how to cope with numerous situations in a fun and relaxed environment. Inside the box you’ll find 2 interactive DVDs with 400 questions, score cards, blessing cards, and more!




My Take


We love games so I am always looking for something new to try. I made sure this game could be played as two player because it's just the two of us who usually play.
I was excited to get the game in the mail and it's a lot bigger than I thought! I started pulling things out of the box and reading the directions and I thought it could be a little cheesy. In any case I set everything up and the rules are fairly simple to understand just make sure you read them.
The DVD part is easy and it  has all of the Bible trivia questions that you will answer. It asks a question and you choose: A, B, C, D and so on. Then you advance on the board and draw cards. The game ended up being really fun! The music on the video and the narrator got a bit annoying on the DVD so we just turned off the sound.
You don't have to have the Bible memorized to play but it does help you learn new verses which is neat. I am not sure how it would go with more than two people, it would be more of a challenge.
I think this game would be fun with kids though it does say 12 and up.  

I recommend if you need a new game to play with a Biblical theme!


The Rules


GIVEAWAY!!
Flyby has kindly offered to give one of my readers this game for free!! This is a great deal guys, this isn't a cheap game to buy at the store.

So all you need to do is enter through the form below.
U. S. and Canada only please.







a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Home for Christmas Book Review

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About the Book

For readers who are tired of Christmas commercialism, or who feel that Santa Claus and reindeer don t tell the whole story, these classic gems provide a winning alternative. Selected for their insightfulness, spiritual value, and literary quality (nothing moralistic here) they project the spirit of the season in a fresh, compelling manner that will resonate with readers of all ages from children too young to read to themselves, to parents and grandparents who enjoy reading stories aloud. Home for Christmas includes time-tested favorites by some of the world s most beloved children s authors Pearl Buck, Selma Lagerlof, Henry van Dyke, Madeleine L Engle, Elizabeth Goudge, Rebecca Caudill, and Ruth Sawyer as well as little-known European stories appearing in English for the first time." (Goodreads)

My Review

What a unique collection of  Christmas stories! I wasn't sure what to expect but I hadn't read or heard any of these stories until this book. Some of them are better than others as there are quite a few authors. I really enjoyed Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl S. Buck, No Room in the Inn by Katherine Paterson, The Christmas Lie, and A Certain Small Shepherd by Rebecca Caudill.
Each story is different and takes you to a new place and time. Some of them are a bit slow and took me awhile to read. With books like this I can't just sit and read because there are too many stories. So I spread it out and read about one or two a day which is fun during the holiday season anyway.

For a new take on Christmas stories this is a great read.

Four Stars.

"I received this book from the publisher and Handlebar for free in exchange for an honest review."





Friday, December 12, 2014

On a Personal Note..






I haven't really had many of these types of posts this past year. I would write about my life more but I just haven't felt compelled to do so. Not much changes from the day to day ordinary aside from me reading a new book.
I can't believe it's already December and Christmas is right around the corner. It doesn't really feel like either to me this year so any ideas on how to get into the holiday spirit would be appreciated!
I've decorated our little tree and for the first time this year we hung outside lights as well. I got ahead on my Christmas shopping this year which I am so thankful-I hate the rush when I haven't.
This year I attempted to follow a theme for our personal gifts, something they want, need, wear, and read. I was able to do this fairly simply with my husband and then added some stocking items into the mix.

I've been listening the to newish Piano Guys album...have you heard it?! It's fantastic.

I booked plane tickets to Virginia yesterday! We are taking a trip in March and driving to the many Civil War sites in that area.

I am also super excited to see Celtic Woman next week! I bought the tickets months ago and I know it's going to be great.







-Michelle








Make Up Book Review

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About the Book

Michelle Phan has believed in makeup since the first time she was allowed to try eyeliner. When she looked in the mirror and saw a transformed version of herself looking back, she fell in love with the sense of confidence that makeup could give her. Ever since she posted her first makeup tutorial on YouTube, she has dedicated herself to inspire millions by using makeup as a tool for transformation and self expression.

Now, Michelle has compiled all of her best wisdom into Make Up: Your Life Guide to Beauty, Style, and Success--Online and Off. From creating a gorgeous smoky eye to understanding contouring to developing an online persona, Michelle has advice to help you transform every facet of your life. Make Up is packed with Michelle’s trademark beauty and style tutorials, stories and pictures from her own life, and advice on the topics she is asked about most, including etiquette, career, entrepreneurship, and creativity. From the everyday (such as how to get glowing skin) to the big picture (such as how to turn your passion into a profession), Make Up is a practical and empowering resource to help anyone put their best face forward. ( Goodreads)




My Review

I'll be honest, I've never really read or seen anything by Michelle Phan until now. I've seen her in a couple commercials but that's about it. But I was interested in reading a book all about make up and putting it on etc. This book was a pretty big disappointment on that note. I found the parts about Michelle's life interesting, how she started her business is encouraging. She didn't know she would end up where she is today just from a few YouTube videos. 
I wanted a book that showed me how to apply makeup and new techniques with lots of pictures. This book really doesn't have much of that. I think there could have been a lot more pictures and more ideas on how to actually do things. She writes about how you need an eyeliner for example. She lists the different types and then states its a preference depending on the person...okay. I knew a lot of the things in this book already and the last part of the book is how to land your dream job and creating a resume. 
I think Michelle is a great example on following your dream but I think this book could have been a lot better. If you want to learn more about make up I suggest you watch her videos instead.

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













 









Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Wishing Season Book Review

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About the Book

She daydreams of whipping up sauces and souffles in her own restaurant. His heart is set on helping foster children. Both dreams are at stake. So are their hearts.

With grand plans to open her own bed & breakfast in Chapel Springs, PJ McKinley can't afford the most crucial part: the brick and mortar. But when the owner of a local historic home announces a contest and promises her property to the worthiest candidate, PJ makes a fervent wish and tosses her name into the hat.

Cole Evans is cool, confident, and successful, but he'll never forget his roots. He's thankful for how far he's come and knows his life could have turned out drastically different. If he can win the stately old mansion, he'll turn it into a home for children aging out of the foster system.

When the eccentric house owner narrows the entries down to only two applicants, she extends the contest, giving PJ and Cole one year to prove which one of them can make the best use of her beloved home. As the pair competes in close proximity, something deeper than rivalry sparks between PJ and Cole. And in this battle, they're likely to lose their hearts. (Goodreads)



My Review

I read the first book in this series and while it was a decent read, it wasn't my favorite. I was hesitant on reading this one until I read that it had PJ cooking. I love books that involve cooking, restaurants, etc. So that being said, this was a pretty good book for a contemporary romance. Hunter has her own wit and humor that she adds to stories and this book was full of good lines. I love the setting and PJ's character, she is a good role model to read about. Cole struggles and I liked being able to see that he wasn't perfect. Some parts were really predictable but still enjoyable. The love story is sweet but I liked the other parts of the story line more.
I wish there was more detail on the foster children and cooking aspects but this book made a great combination of the two.



"I received this book from BookLook Bloggers for free in exchange for an honest review."











Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Watch for the Light Book Review


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About the Book

Though Christians the world over make yearly preparations for Lent, there s a conspicuous lack of good books for that other great spiritual season: Advent. All the same, this four-week period leading up to Christmas is making a comeback as growing numbers reject shopping-mall frenzy and examine the deeper meaning of the season. Ecumenical in scope, these fifty devotions invite the reader to contemplate the great themes of Christmas and the significance that the coming of Jesus has for each of us not only during Advent, but every day. Whether dipped into at leisure or used on a daily basis, Watch for the Light gives the phrase holiday preparations new depth and meaning. (Goodreads)



My Review

I enjoying read a book like this at least once a year. I was excited to read what Dietrich Bonhoeffer had to write about simply because I've heard a lot about him lately.
I admit this book was a pretty big disappointment for me, it's really slow going. The stories didn't really captivate my attention and I thought some of them far too long for a daily reading. I do like the overall ideas to slow down during the holidays and celebrate Christ. There is a constant hurry during this time of year that I think most people get trapped in. I myself feel that way this year but this book didn't really encourage me. Perhaps its simply my mood but this book didn't touch me much.

There are some great sayings/stories by C. S. Lewis, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Martin Luther among others.

I wish I had better things to say but this is just my personal opinion. Many other people have really enjoyed this book.

"I received this book from Handlebar for free in exchange for an honest review."




























Friday, December 5, 2014

Love Unexpected Book Review



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About the Book

A Perfect Blend of History and Romance, with a Whisper of Mystery

All she's ever wanted was a home. But stranded at Presque Isle port after their steamboat sank, Emma Chambers and her brother, Ryan, couldn't be farther away from security. While Ryan at least can find work, Emma can't even find a place to stay. An unlikely solution arises when the lighthouse keeper, who recently lost his wife and is struggling to raise his young son, arrives in town. A traveling preacher believes they might be the answer to each others' problems, and after a hasty marriage, Emma is headed back to the lighthouse with this handsome but quiet stranger.

But nothing in her wandering life has prepared her for suddenly being asked to raise a child and keep a house. Struggling at every turn, Emma also suspects Patrick may be keeping something hidden from her. In town she hears whispers about strange circumstances surrounding his previous wife's death, and it seems as though Emma's answered prayer for a home and family may actually be something much more dangerous. (Goodreads)




My Review

I couldn't wait to get this book in the mail! Jody is one of my new favorite authors, now that I've actually read all of her books! This novel is wonderful, the story line spins in a way that I simply couldn't put it down. While there is romance and a marriage of convenience, there is so much depth to the characters. There are issues that Patrick has struggled and argued with God about and he has a very strong character. At one point I was so into the story I was getting physically angry with the other secondary characters. 
I love the setting at Presque Isle and the lighthouse history was really fun to read.  
This book is a nice grouping of romance, history, mystery, and a stronghold faith in God. 

If you enjoy historical fiction this is a must read. 

*I haven't read the eBook prequel  though there is mention to it in the book.

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








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