Friday, February 17, 2017

When We Last Spoke by Marci Henna

I usually prefer books that are suspenseful and action-packed, but since I have fallen in love with The Mitford Series by Jan Karon, I've become more open-minded about slow, "folksy" books. When We Last Spoke promised to be just that, so I looked forward to escaping into a simpler, better time. The book, set mostly in and around the 1960's, is the story of two sisters who were raised by their grandparents in the sleepy little town of Fireside, Texas. It opens as Juliet, the older of the sisters, is going through some of the old possessions of her late grandparents. We're zipped back into the childhood memories of Juliet, and are introduced to her sister Evangeline, her grandparents Walt and Ruby, and other memorable townsfolk and kin.

When We Last Spoke was difficult for me to get into, but I kept reading, hoping that it would begin to pull on my heartstrings and whisk me away to little town of Fireside. did...a little. While the characters were interesting and the tales of the people were charming, there was something missing. It came close to being really good, but fell short. It lacked heart. It seemed that the author tried a little to hard to be humorous and, while sometimes it worked, often it didn't. The book wound up feeling choppy and at some points, hard to follow. For a book that was supposed to be realistic, there were some pretty unbelievable situations. Still, I did find myself relating to some of the characters more than I thought they would, and some portions of the story were genuinely moving. One especially good and appreciated fact about this book: it's clean! However, there is a little bit of language, which I found very disappointing.

So if you're looking for a slow, meandering read and you're good at suspending your disbelief, this is your book. I'm sure there are many who would enjoy it more than I did!

More about the book:

With the heart and humor of Fannie Flagg’s Fried Green Tomatoes and Rebecca Wells’s Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, author Marci Henna introduces you to the Cranbournes—a mostly lovable and undoubtedly nutty family who’ve had more than their fair share of hard times.

A beautiful blend of tears and laughter, When We Last Spoke tells the tale of sisters Juliet and Evangeline, who are dropped off by their Broadway-bound mother at their paternal grandparents’ Texas ranch in 1967. After their cherished father is killed in Vietnam, the girls are orphaned. Still mourning their son’s death, grandparents Walt and Ruby accept their role as guardians, only to be surprised soon after by another permanent houseguest’s arrival—Walt’s kooky mother, Itasca.

Fast-forward to the present, where the warmhearted home in which the girls grew up is now just a faint memory. The estranged sisters are in need of a good dose of Walt’s famous stargazing wisdom: “You’ve got to look real close. Pay attention to what’s around you in this life. You’re liable to miss something important if you don’t.”

Packed with plenty of quirky characters and hilarious escapades, this must-read novel also digs in deep to the things that matter most—family, friends, love, and forgiveness.

Friday, January 27, 2017

I'm Going to Give You a Bear Hug! (GIVEAWAY!)

I don't often review little kids' books, but this offer came along and I couldn't resist. Playfully describing different types of hugs with sweet, lyrical, rhyming text combined with gorgeous artwork, I'm Going to Give You a Bear Hug! makes for perfect bedtime (or anytime!) reading. Also, because there aren't a lot of words per page, and a many of the words are just right for beginning readers, this is a perfect book to read together!

I’m Going to Give You a Bear Hug!, written by bestselling author Caroline B. Cooney, is a playful and comforting bedtime book that imagines all the wonderful ways a child might give and receive a hug.
Whether it’s a big bear, gasp for air, knock over a chair hug or a wet and drippy, slimy, slippy fish hug, children will giggle their way through all the imaginative examples. Cooney’s sweet and simple rhymes encourage playful interaction between parent and child and ultimately help them wind down before they snuggle into bed and drift off to sleep.
Official Website
Zonderkidz Facebook Page
Zonderkidz Twitter Page

Caroline B. Cooney (Author)
Caroline B. Cooney was born in New York, grew up in Connecticut, and now lives in South Carolina. Caroline is the author of 90 Young Adult novels in many genres, and her books have sold over fifteen million copies. I’m Going to Give You a Bear Hug is her first picture book. It’s based on a verse she wrote for her own children, Louisa, Sayre and Harold, who are grown now.

Tim Warnes (Illustrator)
Tim Warnes has been illustrating children's books for twenty years. He lives in Dorset, England, with his wife, children's illustrator Jane Chapman, and their two sons. When he's not drawing little critters, Tim loves to write, watch birds and play his banjo.  Visit Tim at

Here's how you can have a chance at winning your own copy of this beautiful book:

Just leave a comment with the name of your favorite bedtime storybook. That's it! :) 

Giveaway ends Tuesday, January 31, at 9 pm.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Fir Tree by Hans Christian Andersen (Review)

While not your run-of-the-mill, cheery Christmas tale, The Fir Tree, written in 1845 by Hans Christian Andersen, will (hopefully) make the reader stop, think, and enjoy the life they have, not the life they dreamed of. This edition, illustrated by Sanna Annukka, is absolutely exquisite! I love the vintage look and feel of the cover, and the illustrations are rich and beautiful. This is a book that I don't want to hide away on a shelf! I look forward to reading it to my children during this holiday season. 

One of the amazing illustrations.

Back cover.

From the Book Description:

Gorgeously packaged with intricate illustrations from Finnish illustrator, Sanna Annukka, this new edition of Hans Christian Andersen's well-loved fairy tale, The Fir Tree, is the perfect holiday gift for adults and children alike.

Hans Christian Andersen's tragic tale of naive greed and dissatisfaction is retold through the striking and contemporary illustrations of Finnish illustrator Sanna Annukka. Cloth-bound in rich forest green, with gold foil embellishments, The Fir Tree is elevated from a children's book to a unique work of art and makes an ideal gift for people of all ages.

I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

Amy Grant ~ Tennessee Christmas (CD Review and Giveaway)

I jumped at the chance to review this CD! I adore Christmas music and always enjoy finding new favorites! Honestly, I'm not a fan of country music, so I wasn't sure if this certain CD would become a favorite or not. So far a few of the songs, including "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm", "Christmas Don't Be Late" and "White Christmas" are promising, but others are easily skipped. I prefer Christmas songs to be, well, Christmas-y, and some of these weren't. But that's just me! I'm sure others would think differently. "Tennessee Christmas", even though it's country, is one I've always loved. (Amy Grant's voice hasn't changed a bit!) The insert includes song lyrics and photos of Amy and her family. 

Songs on this album:
  1. Tennessee Christmas
  2. To Be Together
  3. Christmas For You and Me
  4. Melancholy Christmas
  5. December
  6. White Christmas
  7. Joy to the World
  8. I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm
  9. Baby It's Cold Outside
10. Christmas Don't Be Late
11. Still Can't Sleep
12. Another Merry Christmas
13. O Come, All Ye Faithful

You can listen to a sample here, and purchase Tennessee Christmas here.

You can win one a copy of Tennessee Christmas for yourself! To enter, simply comment below with the name of your favorite Christmas song. That's it! The giveaway will end Tuesday, Dec. 6th, at 9:00 pm. Good luck!

The giveaway has ended. Congratulations to Vonnie Warden! 

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Today's Moment of Truth by Lee Strobel

If ever there was a time when Christians need to have answers to hard-hitting questions about faith, it's now. Lee Strobel, a former atheist, has a unique perspective and the ability to tackle those questions from both sides and offer clear, intelligent answers. I have been blessed and strengthened other books that he has written, and the same is true with this book, Today's Moment of Truth. I love that this book is in a daily devotional format, with easy to read and perfectly-sized portions of questions and answers, along with corresponding verses, to chew on throughout my day. Strobel's theology is sound, and his apologetics ministry is helping to fill in a huge gap in our Christian community. I highly recommend his books, and especially this one! (It's also a great introduction into his writings if you haven't read any before.)

From the back of the book:
Why do you believe what you believe? How can you know your faith is credible?

Many Christians today struggle to answer these questions. Though you may know what you believe, the why and how behind the thought can be complex, confusing, and even mysterious.

In Today’s Moment of Truth, bestselling author Lee Strobel articulates in 180 easy-to-read devotions the reasons why Christians believe what they believe. Combining his expertise in apologetics with his journalistic approach to parsing out the details, this devotionalwill leave you deeply encouraged and well-informed. Topics range from scientific discoveries to theological explanations, and each devotion is followed by a brief reflection and prayer for meditation.

The time has come to walk confidently in your faith. Today’s Moment of Truth will be an invaluable tool as you grow in your understanding of and faith in Christ.

5 out of 5 starts

I received my copy of this book for free in exchange for my honest review from BookLook Bloggers. 

31 Verses to Write on Your Heart by Liz Curtis Higgs

I need help with Bible memorization (I can barely remember my own name) and I enjoy trying out a new devotional book. This one fits the bill! 31 Verses to Write on Your Heart includes short, daily readings that help explain selected verses from Scripture as well as a place to write out the verse from your favorite version of the Bible, and helpful memorization tips. For a busy mom who doesn't have a lot of quiet time, this is perfect! 

From the book description:
Here are the words of hope you’re looking for when your faith needs a boost or a friend needs encouragement. Chosen by more than a thousand women as their favorite verses in the Bible, each one is worth learning, worth sharing, worth remembering,

You’ll find verses you already know and love: “I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13)Others may be less familiar but are no less powerful: “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe” (Proverbs 29:25). All of them capture the truth of God’s goodness, mercy, and love for His own.

Best-selling author Liz Curtis Higgs invites you to experience—

A deeper, richer understanding of thirty-one treasured verses. 
A fresh look at how these timeless truths can impact your life. 
A new passion for memorizing Scripture, verse by verse. 
Thirty-one creative ways to keep them in your heart forever. 

With a study guide included, 31 Verses to Write on Your Heart is a daily devotional and a small-group Bible study, wrapped in a lovely gift book overflowing with joy!

4 out of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

You're Saying it Wrong (by Ross Petras and Kathryn Petras)

I've heard people (and I'm sure you have, too) use big words to sound smarter and be impressive, and I've cringed when they've mispronounce those words. Of course, I've mispronounced a lot of words myself! And so have you. ;) We all could use a little help in that area. 

Enter: You're Saying it Wrong: A Pronunciation Guide to the 150 Most Commonly Mispronounced Words--and Their Tangled Histories of Misuse. This little guide is seriously helpful! If you're thinking that it's another dry reference book, think again. Besides the "shibboleth" words and their history and usage guide, there are other helpful lists such as: "How to Sound Like You're From Across the Pond" and "How to Sound like a Patron of the Arts." So, plenty of great info with a wonderful smattering of humor. (Oh, and if you don't know what "shibboleth" means, get the book! ;) )

I love that this little volume looks and feels a bit antique. 5 starts for design and content! 

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