Monday, February 24, 2014

"Tuck Me in Talks with Your Little Ones" Review

Some of the most memorable moments for a child and for parents are often those precious minutes before bedtime each night.

Author Grace Fox has created an enjoyable little book of questions to ask your children as you are tucking them in. Along with prayer and bedtime stories, these questions – ranging from silly to serious – can become an unforgettable part of the bedtime routine for your children ages 3 – 8.





--If you could play a musical instrument, what would you play? Why that instrument? Show me how you’d play it.

--Name ten things God created.

--What’s the best way to eat spaghetti? Ice cream?

These and many other thought-provoking and fun questions can be found in Tuck-Me-In Talks with Your Little Ones.

My husband and I have had a nighttime routine for our daughter since she was only a few weeks old. Over the years (she is now five), the routine has changed somewhat, of course, but it is still a highlight of our day with our daughter.

When I first requested this book, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. We have tried several devotion-type books for bedtime, but we keep coming back to just switching between our two favorite storybook Bibles instead. When we received this book, it was smaller than I thought it would be, and it is just a little book of lots of different questions to ask your kids. I have to say that I thought the book would be more than what it is, but is has actually turned out to be really good. The simplicity of it is what is so great.

For the first couple of nights we used these questions before bedtime, but over the last few days I have switched to using this little book in the car when we are driving back and forth to preschool. My daughter and I have always had great conversations while driving, and these questions just give us even more to talk about!

From the outside, this book just seems like a bunch of questions – something that you could just do on your own. But I think it’s more than that. It’s a tangible object to help you really get into the hearts and minds of your kids. We have only used this book for a few weeks, and I have already written down several things – both funny and serious – that my daughter has told me in answer to these questions. It’s also a good reminder to actually engage your children during times that you might be tempted to just zone out (like in the car or in a waiting room).

This book a simple concept, but its effects can last a lifetime.

I will give Tuck-Me-In Talks with Your Little Ones ... 4 BookWorms.








Tuck-Me-In Talks with Your Little Ones
by Grace Fox
Harvest House Publishers
February 1, 2014






Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Harvest House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Saturday, February 22, 2014

"Where Courage Calls" Blog Tour

Her courage and her heart will be tested in ways she never expected . . .


About the book:

Beth Thatcher has spent her entire life in the safe, comfortable world of her family, her friends, and the social outings her father's wealth provides. But Beth is about to leave it all behind to accept a teaching position in the rugged foothills of western Canada. Inspired by her aunt Elizabeth, who went west to teach school several years ago, and gently encouraged by her father, Beth resolves to put her trust in God and bravely face any challenge that comes her way.

But the conditions in Coal Valley are even worse than she'd feared. A recent mining accident has left the town grieving and at the mercy of the mining company. The children have had very little prior education, and many of the locals don't even speak English. There isn't even a proper schoolhouse. In addition, Beth's heart is torn between two young men---both Mounties, one a lifelong friend and the other a kind, quiet man who comes to her aid more than once.

Despite the many challenges, Beth is determined to make a difference in the rustic frontier town. But when her sister visits from the East, reminding her of all the luxuries she's had to give up, will Beth decide to return to her privileged life as soon as the school year is over?

Purchase a copy and read an excerpt: http://ow.ly/tyWJH




About the Authors:

Janette Oke: Celebrated for her significant contribution to the Christian book industry, Janette Oke is the recipient of numerous awards. Her novels have sold more than 30 million copies and are beloved by readers around the world. Janette lives with her husband, Edward, in Alberta, Canada.

Laurel Oke Logan: is the daughter of Edward and Janette Oke, is the author of "Janette Oke: A Heart for the Prairie," as well as the novel "Dana's Valley," which she co-wrote with her mom. Laurel and her husband have six children and two sons-in-law and live near Indianapolis, Indiana.

Landing page for this blog tour: 
 


My Take:

The first Christian fiction book I ever read was Janette Oke's A Bride for Donnigan. As soon as I finished the final page of that novel, I was hooked, and Christian historical fiction has been my favorite genre ever since.

I was so excited to see this new release from Janette Oke and her daughter Laurel, especially since it is so closely related to one of my favorite Oke series - the Canadian West series.

In a lot of ways, Where Courage Calls is very similar to the Canadian West series. Beth is very much like her aunt Elizabeth, and she encounters circumstances that are very close to those that come to pass in the first Canadian West book.

But even though those two books are similar, they are still different enough to be recognized as separate novels. After a bit of a slow start, Where Courage Calls got much more interesting when Beth arrives in Coal Valley. What she encounters there would probably have made me turn around and go home right away, but, true to the title, Beth found courage that could only come from the strength of God, and she was able to stay and minister to the people of the mining town. After the somewhat slow start, getting to know all of the characters in the town and even a bit of a mystery kept the story moving later on.

Overall I really liked the flow and feel of this book once Beth arrived in Coal Valley. I did think that sometimes Beth was a bit too cookie-cutter perfect. She seemed to singlehandedly change the attitudes and direction of the entire town. But even though I thought this to be the case, she still experienced some growth over the course of the novel. I also thought the romance was a bit lightweight - Beth didn't always spend a lot of time with the two male suitors - but it was still enjoyable, and the ending of the novel promised much more to come in the remainder of the series.

Where Courage Calls gets back to the roots of Christian fiction. It's a sweet story of romance and faith from the first author who helped me fall in love with this amazing genre.

I will give Where Courage Calls ... 4 BookWorms.

 
 
 
 
Where Courage Calls
by Janette Oke & Laurel Oke Logan
Bethany House Publishers
Publication date: February 4, 2014
 
 
 
 
 
 
Janette Oke's newest book, Where Courage Calls (co-written with her daughter, Laurel Oke Logan), is receiving rave reviews. It is the companion story to Hallmark Channel's TV series When Calls the Heart, set in the Canadian west.

Janette and Laurel are celebrating with an iPad Mini giveaway and a Facebook author chat party on March 4th.

couragecalls-400-click
 
One winner will receive:
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on March 4th. Winner will be announced at the Where Courage Calls Facebook Party on March 4th. Connect with Janette and Laurel for an evening of book chat, trivia, laughter, and more!

So grab your copy of Where Courage Calls and join Janette and Laurel on the evening of March 4th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP today by clicking JOIN on the event page. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 4th!

 
 



Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publisher through LitFuse Publicity. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

"Butterfly Palace" Review


Lily Donaldson arrives in Austin, Texas, in 1904 hoping for a new beginning. Abandoned by her true love years ago and overcome with grief over the recent loss of her mother, Lily is determined to make her way in the world starting with a position as a maid at the prestigious home of Everett and Camille Marshall – Butterfly Palace.

But Lily’s hope for a new life in Austin is quickly tarnished when she finds that her former beau – Drew Hawkes, as he is now known – is also in Austin and is involved with some business dealings with Mr. Marshall. Not only that, but someone known as the Servant Girl Killer is once again terrorizing the town, and no servant feels safe.

When Lily discovers that there’s more to Drew’s visit in Austin than just everyday business, she finds herself in the middle of an intricate snare of lies, betrayal, and murder. Who can she trust? And will she be able to determine the truth before it’s too late?

Colleen Coble has been a favorite of mine since I read her Mercy Falls series a few years ago. That series is probably still my favorite of her novels, but I have enjoyed others as well.

The setting and feeling of this novel were interesting and gave it a unique air. The upstairs/downstairs aspect gave it a high society feel but with politics involved, since it took place in the capital city of Texas. I normally get really bogged down in political storylines, but this one was intricately woven into the suspense portion of the plot, and it was done well. The butterfly angle gave the novel a unique flair as well.

The suspense part of this novel was indeed intricate, and it was what really kept the plot moving throughout. I enjoy a little bit of mystery and suspense thrown into historical fiction, but this novel was really more suspense than anything else. At first I wasn’t sure if I was going to like that fact, but as I kept reading, I got very involved in the many twists and turns of the extremely suspenseful plot. The action in this novel is what gave it backbone and kept it moving, and it was enjoyable. There were a couple of things that were a bit over-the-top, but it was definitely entertaining.

While the suspense and actions portions of Butterfly Palace were good, the development of the main characters was not quite up to par. The secondary characters were interesting – I especially enjoyed Belle and her transformation and growth throughout the course of the novel – but I didn’t connect very well to Lily and not entirely to Drew, either. Lily seemed very na├»ve and extremely reckless at times, and she didn’t seem to change very much during the story, even though it was implied that she did. Drew was fine but I struggled to understand his dilemma over being with Lily or keeping his job.

I also didn’t always understand the connection between Lily and Drew. I realize that they had a past together, but their attraction to each other seemed mostly physical and feeling-oriented instead of true, deep, lasting love.

I also was not very impressed with the spiritual aspect of this novel. When God was mentioned it seemed to be mostly an afterthought. The significance of Christ did not come across clearly at all. In fact, people in the novel seemed to be labeled either “good” or “evil” as opposed to the book delivering the message of the gospel – that we are all sinners in need of a Savior.


As far as lighter mystery novels go, I thought Butterfly Palace was really good. If the other aspects of the plot had been as good, it would have been a much more excellent novel overall.

I will give Butterfly Palace ... 4 BookWorms.








Butterfly Palace
by Colleen Coble
Thomas Nelson Publishers
Publication date: January 21, 2014






Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
 
 

Friday, February 14, 2014

"Smitten Book Club" Blog Tour

About the book: The century-old Gentlewoman's Guide to Love and Courtship is no ordinary book club choice. But for the little book club in Smitten, Vermont, it might be their best pick yet!
 
The thick, leathery tome Heather pulled out of the dusty cardboard box was definitely coming home with her. Not only was The Gentlewoman's Guide to Love and Courtship an appealing curiosity by virtue of its title; it was also written by Smitten, Vermont, native Pearl Chambers, a local gentlewoman from three generations back.
 
Little did Heather know the repercussions this little curiosity would have on her and her friends' romantic exploits.

When Heather and her fellow book club members begin passing the book around, their respective interpretations are unleashed on their respective love lives . . . for better or for worse. Is it a mystery? An idealist fantasy? An intimation of Jane Austen? As romantic love finds its way to each woman, the Guide proves itself both surprisingly prescient and hilariously irrelevant.

 
What's more, a handwritten inscription indicates that the arcane book might hold the only extant clues leading to buried gold---exactly what one of the members needs to keep her house. How could they not go treasure hunting?
 
In this remarkable collaborative novel, besties Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Denise Hunter, and Diann Hunt tackle the tale of the Gentlewoman's Guide by writing for one book club member apiece. Smitten Book Club is a hopeful, hilarious story of friendship and healing, written by friends for friends.

Purchase a copy: http://ow.ly/t7BO1



Meet the Authors:

RITA-finalist Colleen Coble is the author of several best-selling romantic suspense novels, including Tidewater Inn, and the Mercy Falls, Lonestar, and Rock Harbor series. 


Christy Award finalist and two-time winner of the ACFW Book of the Year award, Kristin Billerbeck has appeared on The Today Show and has been featured in the New York Times. Her books include A Billion Reasons Why and What a Girl Wants


Denise Hunter is the award-winning and best-selling author of several novels, including A Cowboy's Touch and Sweetwater Gap. She and her husband are raising three boys in Indiana.
 

Diann Hunt has lived in Indiana forever, been happily married forever, loves her family, chocolate, her friends, her dog, and, well, chocolate. Diann lost her courageous battle with cancer in December 2013.

 
 
 
 
 
My Take:
 
I have enjoyed the previous Smitten, Vermont, novels - Smitten and Secretly Smitten - and I was looking forward to reading this next installment just in time for Valentine's Day!
 
Since I belong to a great book club myself, the premise for this novel grabbed me right away. I loved the friendship that was shared among the four friends (reminiscent of the authors, I suspect), and the book that was chosen for the book club to read just seemed like a riot.
 
Novellas are interesting to read, and I feel as if they need to be read in a certain way. Since they are short, the stories - and thus the romances - seem to play out rather quickly. Luckily, in the Smitten books, the four novellas are seamlessly woven together, which makes for a much easier and more believable read. There is also a mystery woven throughout, which always makes a novel/novella more complete, in my opinion.
 
The setting of Smitten, Vermont, a small resort town looking to make a name for itself as a romantic destination, is once again done very well in this collection of novellas. It's almost as if the town is a character of its own!
 
While most of the romances in this novel were sweet, I struggled with reading about the one who recently lost her husband. It was handled appropriately, I thought, but I just don't like reading things that are really, really sad! :(
 
Overall, Smitten Book Club is a collection of four sweet romances that all tie together in friendship and a fun mystery.
 
I will give Smitten Book Club ... 3.5 BookWorms.
 
 
 


 
 

The Smitten gals are back with their newest release, Smitten Book Club! Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, and Denise Hunter are celebrating with a Kindle Fire giveaway, a Facebook party on February 20, and a nationwide book-club brunch on March 22.


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One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • The Smitten books (Smitten, Secretly Smitten, Smitten Book Club)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 20th. Winner will be announced at the Smitten Book Club Facebook Author Chat Party on February 20th. Connect with Colleen Coble, Denise Hunter, and Kristin Billerbeck for an evening of book chat, trivia, laughter, and more! The Smitten gals will also be taking questions from the audience, giving away books and gift certificates, and sharing news about their upcoming nationwide Smitten Book Club brunch on March 22nd. (Sign up to host today!)


So grab your copy of Smitten Book Club and join Colleen, Denise, Kristin, and friends on the evening of February 20th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

 

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 20th!

Sign up to host a Smitten Book Club Brunch on March 22nd!
Smitten Book Club Brunch Coble, Hunter, Billerbeck, Hunt
 
 
 
 
 
 
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Cheerios Family Breakfast Project

I'm deviating from my usual book reviews today to tell my readers about a project that my family and I have been a part of over the last week - the Cheerios Family Breakfast Project.

Here's a summary of the event:



Cheerios believes that when families connect over breakfast, amazing things can happen.
 
That’s why Cheerios is partnering with the Family Dinner Project, a grass roots movement whose mission is to help families everywhere access the benefits that come from connecting over a meaningful family meal, to launch the Family Breakfast Project.

As part of the Family Breakfast Project, Cheerios will be encouraging families to take seven minutes for seven days to have family breakfast and explore the possibilities that brings. After all, breakfast is the meal of shared possibilities.


http://www.cheerios.com/family-breakfast-project




Family Breakfast is something that we almost never do during the week. We are really great at doing family dinners, but breakfast is usually rushed and/or not everyone eats at the same time (or at all).

My daughter absolutely loves Cheerios, so she was definitely on board with the Cheerios Family Breakfast Project. And the special Cheerios bowl was also a winner!

 
 
 
 
 
 
As I said earlier, my family really likes Cheerios. I've been eating them as long as I can remember, and my daughter has eaten them since she was a baby. And my hubby has always been a Honey Nut Cheerios guy! :)
 
 
Be sure to check out http://www.cheerios.com/family-breakfast-project for some fun family projects, recipes (check out the Cheerios peanut butter cup bars - yum!), and even some great high-value coupons!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Disclosure: The information and prize pack have been provided by General Mills through Platefull Co-Op