Tuesday, February 25, 2014

3-Minute Devotions for Women

3-Minute Devotions for Women
Barbour Publishing

Everyone seems to be incredibly busy these days. But a day started out with God makes the whole day better. These short, but inspirational little devotionals are just the thing to read at the beginning of a busy day. Each one starts with a Bible verse that the thought is centered around and ends with a prayer to tie the thought and scripture together.

First, I loved the look of this book. The soft leather cover and engraved flowers are beautiful. It also came with a convenient little ribbon to mark the spot, since the devotionals are numbered and not dated. I have a paper copy, but my cover is purple, just like the one being shown for the kindle version.

I loved the little devotionals. The author was able to pack a lot of thought and inspiration into each page. It's the perfect amount to read when in a hurry or a great jumping off place for longer devotionals. These will make great gifts to the women in my family.

I received this book free of charge from Barbour Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

Praying for Boys

Praying for Boys
Asking God for the Things They Need Most
Brooke McGlothlin

Praying specific prayers for your son will not only bring results, but will also give you a peace about your son's life that isn't possible without a direction connection to the heavenly Father. The author has taken specific concerns that moms have for their boys and designed chapters to address each of them with prayer. Each chapter has the title of a positive trait. It then begins with a thought from a "grown up boy", scripture and thoughts to work towards this trait. It ends with prayers and some discussion or reflection questions.

Each chapter is well laid out and very concise. The author brings her own personal experiences into the book, but has also pulled from other moms and grown men to get a very good feel for specific topics to address. Each chapter resonated with me as a mom. While written by a mom and probably for a mom, it can definitely be used by dads, grandparents, or other people. I also think it can be adapted to work for my daughter. I will definitely be keeping this book and intend to gift it to several of my friends who are pregnant with boys.

I received this book free of charge from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.

I Like Giving

I Like Giving
The Transforming Power of a Generous Life
Brad Formsma

Giving generously can transform your life and the lives of those around you. It has a ripple effect that can be felt by people around the world. The author started a website to encourage people to give generously. He gives practical advice on how to teach your children generosity, how to give every day, how giving isn't just about money. There are also stories sprinkled throughout the book that will inspire and encourage.

I was really impressed with this book. My husband and I are currently helping out with the Financial Peace University (Dave Ramsey) at our church, and I think this book should be part of the curriculum. It is so inspiring. The author was able to break down the different ways to give so that even the poorest person realizes they have something to give back to humanity. Would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking to change their outlook on giving.

I received this book free of charge from Shelton Interactive in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn

The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn
Lori Benton

Tamsen Littlejohn is being forced into a marriage by her stepfather. Fearing for her life she places her life in another man's hands as she tries to run away. Jesse Bird was a stranger. Was he the right person to help her escape? Soon it is a race across the country as her stepfather and would be husband chases them down. Her faith is the only thing keeping her together at times as the men close in on the two of them. Indian fights,

Drama, romance, and history are all complied together to make a fascinating story. The author mixed the perfect elements of all three. The characters were realistic and the plot was well thought out. The plot is complicated, but I never felt lost or confused. The plot twists were perfect and definitely added to the story. Elements of faith are all throughout the book, but it didn't come across as preachy or too heavy. There were some aspects and hints of violence, but it was tastefully written. It was truly a captivating story. I hadn't previously read anything by this author, but will be adding her other book to my list. She has a gift for storytelling.

I received this book free of charge from WaterBrook in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Modeling Poo

The Poodle Tales
Book Nine
The Modeling Poo
Little Poodle puppy has always dreamed of being a model. Her biggest dream was to have a runway show and star in her show. She carefully picked out each outfit and set the stage. The rest of the book tells all about her runway show.

The illustrations are cute and funny. My five year old daughter loved this book. She's read it through several times and I've found her just looking at all of the details in the pictures. We haven't seen the previous eight books, but this didn't seem to affect the story at all. The story was sweet and sends the message that you can be anything you want to be with hard work and the right attitude. My daughter is requesting we get the rest of the books in this series.

I received this book free of charge from Kelley & Hall Book Publicity in exchange for my honest review.

What Color Is Your Money?

What Color Is Your Money?
Your Personalized Roadmap to Business Success
Tope Ganiyah Fajingbesi
Part financial advice and part insight into human nature, the book takes each small business owner on a journey to figure out their personal money personality. Once each owner recognizes their personalities and the pros and cons they can move forward in managing their business.

The author is an accountant, but never once did I feel overwhelmed with technical talk. The approach that is taken is simple and yet full of useful information. While some of the information is a bit basic, the book will be perfect for those of us just starting out as entrepreneurs or as a refresher course for the more seasoned business owners.
I received this book free of charge from Goodreads in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Cleaning House

Cleaning House
A Mom's 12-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement
Kay Wills Wyma

Entitlement seems to be engrained in children these days. The author was astounded to realize that her children fit squarely in this category. Her strategy to combat this was to come up with challenges that would show her children what life was really about, while teaching them the lessons they needed to know to go out as well rounded adults. Each month she presented a different skill.

I loved the concept. I purchased it because I occasionally see glimpses of entitlement in my own children. The book started out strong. The author writes with humor and it was entertaining to hear how she began her journey. I liked several of the experiments she tried with her children. But after about experiment 2-3 I, kind of, lost interest. The author seemed to loose steam with not only her experiments, but also writing about it. It began to fill up with her ideas about life and thoughts on other subjects. I took away several great ideas that I will tweak and implement with my own children. I was also a little amazed that she didn't get her husband completely on board before starting something so major. That seemed to put a sour note on the whole thing. It also lessened the enjoyment for me to read about their fighting. I appreciate the honesty that she brought to the story, but would have enjoyed it more if she had stopped to include her husband in the whole thing from the very beginning. 
My overall impression was that it was a fun and entertaining book to read. It was a story of one person's journey. Not everything would apply to everyone, but it has some great take away thoughts that make it worth the purchase in my opinion.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Thick Skin

I have been mulling over this blog post for several years now. A review of a review (yes, such a thing exists) has prompted me to finally put my thoughts into words. I am sorry that it's so long. Anyone who knows me, knows I can't say anything quickly. =)
Authors are a group of people that I love working for. They are amazing, talented, wonderful people. But every once in a while an author comes along that makes me grit my teeth and roll my eyes. People like these tend to be the apple that spoils things for the whole bunch.
When I first started reviewing I received an email from an author that just warmed my heart. She has agreed to let me share a bit with you.
There is no possible way I can adequately express my thanks and appreciation for your time and attentions to my novel.  I can tell you for certain that you are a dream reader for any author! Not only in light of your stellar review, but your super prompt reading and then sharing your thoughts at lightening speed -- well, no question, you're positively awesome!!  You must know that I am both humbled and thrilled by your review and thank you, thank you for taking the time and trouble to put it out there. 

I am not a writer. And yet this lady was so sweet and gracious about my first fumbling attempts to write about her book. It was a great book, I certainly didn't lie. But my writing such as it is now, was even more feeble then. SHE was a dream to work with. I have since worked with other authors who I would love, love, love to meet. If they are as nice in person as they are in print then I know I'd love to be friends with them. I might have even gotten a bit giddy to get a friend request from them. =)
But there have been a couple of bad apples and this is my frustration now. I will be very careful to make sure that their names are not revealed. But I have to vent my frustrations. And lucky you, you get to hear about them. =)
 I received some books a while back from an author. She was very difficult from the very beginning. I'd been promised a hard copy by the publicist. And yet weeks later, no book. Finally the author emailed me with a request to send an ebook. I replied "no thank you" to which I never received a response. Another week goes by and I get a message on my phone. She'd gotten my phone number from the publicist and had called to try to persuade me to take an ebook. Apparently part of her contract was she be the one to mail the books to reviewers. And she didn't want to swing for the postage. I told her my kindle was not working properly and I wanted my hard copy. She reluctantly agreed to send the book. She ended up sending 2 books, one of which I did not request from the publicist. It was THIS book that I wrote the review for.
I hated the book, and felt it to be poorly written. But I know that an author puts their heart and soul into a book and I knew several of my reading friends would overlook the issues I had and might even enjoy it. So I very carefully wrote the review and gave it 3 stars. Here is the review. The only changes (italicized) are made so as to make the book anonymous.
The story jumps right in and gives the reader a view into their personalities. But after arriving at the location it seems to lag a bit. She has a forceful personality that might annoy some readers. Towards the middle/end of the story it picks up and gives some conflict and drama. The story ends with all of the loose ends neatly tied up. I appreciated the Christian way that several of the issues in the book were handled. While probably not my favorite style of writing, I can definitely see why this story will appeal to Christian fiction readers.
Here is the email that she sent me.

Thanks for your review of *, but what I'd like you to consider is that I personally pay for the books I send to readers (unlike the books published by the big publishers), I tried to e-mail you and then spoke with you personally on the phone. While I can certainly understand not everyone will like my characters and my stories, I'm disappointed and very hurt not to mention feel slapped in the face. Because this is a case where I personally invested myself in it, I wish you simply would not have reviewed it. I wish you the best, but feel free not to read or review any more of my books. 

  When I didn't respond (I was floored since I thought I'd done a decent job of stating my opinion without being mean), she sent this email.

 You should consider removing your reviews for *. I won't write to you again, and believe me, I've never had to write to a reader like this. But it's so upsetting and unbelievable to me that you soundly trashed one of them. If you didn't like it, then simply don't review it. I won't bother you again, and I'm sorry you obviously feel I wasted your time. In spite of it all, I wish you the best and thanks for reading Christian fiction.

I do wish you God's richest blessings but please prayerfully consider my request. It HURTS small published authors such as myself -- professionally and personally -- to have such low-rated reviews, and especially in this particular case because of the reasons previously stated.  

 I wasn't sure how to respond. I asked several friends of mine, including some authors and they all felt I was dealing with a crazy author and to just leave everything as it was. About a month later I get this comment on my review.

 this person did not have to trash the authors book, she could of been nicer in her veview, i hope its taken down 
This person used their real name and it took me about 10 seconds to trace them back to the author. Ironically enough, it was an another author who was friends with this particular author. Ugh! What is wrong with these people? Can't you take constructive criticism? The book was, honestly, very poorly written. I've read everything the author wrote and she just doesn't have the gift. I didn't want to hurt her feelings, but in reality I felt the book deserved a 2 star at best.
Fast forward to tonight. Amazon shoots me an email every time someone comments on my reviews. They also let me know if I get a "helpful" or "not helpful" vote on my review. I received two emails. Both of them say the EXACT same thing. One is by a person with the name of Jane Eyre. The other is the author. I go to Amazon and see the comment by Jane. The author one has been deleted. Clearly the author is writing under another name to slam reviews on her book. I then receive an email that these two people have have given my review "non helpful" votes. Seriously lady?!
Her book was a * self-help book. It was clear by her writing that she felt her way of doing things was the one and only way. The people who did not follow her plan were stupid and unfit to be *. I disagreed with quite a few things she said, but was able to find several redeeming thoughts as well. So I wrote the review accordingly. I know of several people that would agree wholeheartedly with what she wrote, so I couldn't diss the book. It wasn't the writing style, it was the topic that I didn't like. So I gave the book 4 stars and moved on. The author, in an argumentative tone, wrote a snarky review of my review. She basically said my review was worthless unless I said exactly what I disagreed with. Maybe she's right. But why hide that it was the author? Why give me 2 negative votes? It's clearly the same person, so that was cheating in my book. I'll be honest - I thought long and hard about saying why I disagreed with the book. But the tone of the book made it very clear that the author was the type to start an argument with anyone who didn't agree with her and I thought to hold off such childishness by not being specific. Turns out I was right about the argumentative, but my methods didn't work. 

Despite the ugliness of some people, I feel like I can't leave you with a bad taste in your mouth. So here is some more from another special author.
I  have the awesome privilege of being on her launch team. This was a post she wrote a couple of weeks ago. Such a beautiful person, inside and out!
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. ~Philippians 1:3-6 

For my launch teamers this Sunday - I hope you know how much I appreciate each and every one of you! I know we're not sharing the Gospel in the sense that Paul is talking about in these verses, but I do believe we are ministering together. My prayer is that as a team, we can reach out to readers who are hurting and broken, and point them to the only One who can bring healing and wholeness! Love to you all!

So in conclusion - even though I have had some negative issues with authors and am still unsure how to proceed when they act juvenile and childish, I love my authors. They provide me entertainment, different views of the world, vacations from reality, inspiration to do/be better, and the chance to meet amazing people. 
Thank you authors! You guys are the best!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Smitten Book Club

Smitten Book Club
Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt & Denise Hunter

Four book club friends join together to find a treasure after discovering clues in an old book written by a town citizen from long ago. The book appears to be about how to get and keep a man. But it is filled with clues about a gold treasure. Each woman reads the book to find more clues, but ends up falling in love as well.

While technically four novellas, the story flows well enough that it felt like one novel written from four different points of view. The authors did a great job of making the transitions seamless and the characters true to form in each story. I enjoyed the romance, tiny bit of suspense, and history about the town. It was a fun read, and made me want to go back and catch the Smitten book I'd somehow missed reading.

I received this book free of charge from Booklook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


I received notification today that I will not be on the "preferred list" of yet another publishing company because I don't have enough blog followers. While I understand their desire to only send out multiple books to the blogs with heavy traffic, it frustrates me. I love working with these companies and they really make it hard for the little blogger to work for them.

So my plea is this - If you are reading this post, but not following my blog, please do so. I honestly don't care if you ever come back to this site again. =) My goal is to get 310 followers between my blog followers and Networked blogs.

I will be having several book-giveaways this month to try and get more followers. But if you could share, tweet, etc. I would also really appreciate it.

Thank you!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

America's Cheapest Family

America's Cheapest Family
Gets You Right on the Money
Steve and Annette Economides

In this economy everyone seems to be interested in spending less money, being more frugal, or getting their finances in order. The Economides have been labeled as America's Cheapest Family for a reason. Their lifestyle has been one of frugality, carefulness, and planning. The husband and wife team have written this book to help out the newbie to the frugal game.

I enjoyed reading this book. The authors have a way of making money issues and saving more palatable with their writing style. Most of the advice given are already things I've implemented. But the advice was clear, practical, and easy to put into practice. Anyone just starting will benefit from reading this book. Even though I'm on my way to being rather frugal myself, I still learned a couple of new things and was reminded of some more.

The Quilted Heart

The Quilted Heart
Three Novellas in One
Mona Hodgson

Dandelions on the Wind - I've already reviewed this book as a single, so I'll just make a couple of comments here. This book while sweet, it didn't really grab my attention. I felt it could have been more developed had it been made into a full length novel.

Bending Toward the Sun - Emilie's father thinks that she needs to get a better education and marry someone befitting her status. But Emilie suddenly finds herself interested in an Irish man named Quaid. Will her father's opposition ruin her chances at love?

I enjoyed this story. The plot and resolution felt right for a short-length story. The romance was sweet, the story connected with the previous novel and the characters were relate-able. It's the type of novella that would prompt me to check out other things by this author.

Ripples Along the Shore - Caroline has lost her husband to the war. She's left at loose ends trying to find her place in the world. Her attempts to join the wagon train going west are met with opposition by the leader. Can she convince him to let her come as a single woman or is she stuck in this town forever?

The story started off okay, but ended with out any resolution. It was very reminiscent of the first story that I felt could have been much better had it been made into a full length novel. There were just so many unanswered questions. The whole thing left me hanging, but unsure if I wanted to know the ending.

I was under the impression when I read the first story that the remaining novels would be full length. So to find that the author chose to make them into novellas was a disappointment to me. I really feel they would have benefited from being pulled out and some of the characters and plot sections fleshed out. Overall it was a nice omnibus, but had some disappointments for me.

I received this book free of charge from WaterBrook in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Love Me Slender

Love Me Slender
How Smart Couples Team Up to Lose Weight, Exercise More, and Stay Healthy TOGETHER
Thomas Bradbury & Benjamin Karney

Most individuals tend to work better towards a goal when they have encouragement or an audience. Working with statistics and data that supports this, the authors have created a book that is part diet book, part marriage counselor, and part life style change. The book covers how to work with your partner to change your way of eating and exercising so that it benefits both of you. They focus primarily on communication and how this works between partners trying to diet.

The concept is great. The text was easy to read and understand. It addresses quite a few of the communications issues that tend to happen between men and women when one or both want to lose weight. The humorous touches made for an enjoyable read. Check out this book if you want support from your spouse as you lose weight.

I received this book free of charge from Simon and Schuster in exchange for my honest review.