May 31, 2013

We Have A Winner!!!

So remember last week when author Sandra Leesmith had giveaway here? Well, the winner has been chosen! Hooray!!! And the winner is......(drumroll please).........


Karen, Congratulations! You should have an email from Amber at Seasons of Humility telling you all the details. Thank you to all who entered and commented. I appreciate it. And I know Sandra and Amber appreciated it too!  :)

Happy Friday y'all!

Little Letters Seventh Edition*

Dear Holiday Weekend, thanks for making my workweek a day shorter! That was awful nice of you.

Dear Rachel Hauck, please keep the lovely prince/princess stories coming! I absolutely loved your most recent adventure and can't wait for more to come. Really, really, really can't wait! At least I have one sitting on my shelf to re-read over and over.

Dear Twitter, well. I've joined your ranks. Only a couple days old! I foresee you becoming a slight obsession. Remind me not to pester people on there, okay? I'd hate to wear out my welcome. But my friends were certainly right! You are lots of fun.

Dear Welcome to Sanditon People, I'm so happy to finally understand what's going on! There were a few days when I wasn't sure what you were doing. But it has been explained and so all is well! Plus this week had some plot development finally and cute ones at that. I love Clara! Especially sassy Clara. Can we have her show up every week? She's totes adorbs!

Dear E.M. Forster, I'm enjoying A Room With a View. Really! I am! But I've been reading it aloud to others and do you know how many words you wrote that I have no idea how on earth to pronounce? Let alone what they even mean! I'm beginning to think I'll need to keep a dictionary handy through the entire book. But never fear! I'm finding Lucy's observations of those around her so funny. I never realized humor was a skill of yours? Who knew? Well. I suppose Hamlette did.

Dear Charles Dickens, I recently picked up Bleak House from the library. Whimsey Keith convinced me that I just might enjoy this story of yours (thanks Rebecca!). She told me there is a happy ending, which I had doubted before. But I'm inclined to believe her. Hence why I borrowed it. What do you think? Is that a good plan for my weekend?

Dear Rain, where did you come from this week? Don't you know how surprising it is when you show up in May? But I still enjoyed getting a free car wash. So thanks for that!

Dear Readers of Books, do you/can you read multiple books at the same time? I always thought I could only read one at a time, but I'm finding out that's no longer true. I can listen to one in the car and have two or three going on at home. Both real and Kindle versions. Is that weird?

Dear Friday, I'm so happy you've arrived! But Saturday will make me even happier. Why? Because I get to sleep in later! What better thing to look forward to? I do love my bed.

*courtesy of Rissi.

May 30, 2013

Review: Once Upon A Prince by Rachel Hauck

Once Upon a Prince
Once Upon a Prince

Once Upon a Prince, the first novel in the Royal Wedding series by bestselling author Rachel Hauck, treats you to a modern-day fairy tale.

Susanna Truitt never dreamed of a great romance or being treated like a princess---just to marry the man she has loved for twelve years. But life isn’t going according to plan. When her high-school-sweetheart-turned-Marine-officer breaks up instead of proposing, Susanna scrambles to rebuild her life.

The last thing Prince Nathaniel expects to find on his American holiday to St. Simon’s Island is the queen of his heart. A prince has duties, and his family’s tense political situation has chosen his bride for him. When Prince Nathaniel comes to Susanna’s aid under the fabled Lover’s Oak, he is blindsided by love.

Their lives are worlds apart. He’s a royal prince. She’s a ordinary girl. But everything changes when Susanna receives an invitation to Nathaniel’s coronation.

A modern day fairy tale indeed! This is such a lovely story. I quickly devoured it once I had it in my possession, but I've been waiting a little to try and get my thoughts to make sense. I didn't figure you wanted to hear, "It's awesome! Go read it!", and that's it. (Although it is! And you should!) I think what convinced me that I'd love this story is the hero, Nathaniel. He is such a great guy. Kind, gentle, God-fearing, and once he falls in love, he's incredibly loyal to Susanna and not afraid to show it. Even when she tries rebuffing him! (Emphasis on tries. She's not very good at denying her heart. But she tries! Oh how she tries.) And did I mention how kind he is? While Susanna dithers about, he stays by her side. Simply just being there and helping and supporting her and her family. Even when he's on the other side of the ocean, he still helps her by staying away with no contact to try and make things easier on her. (They aren't allowed to marry. It's a law.) Oh he is such a good man. I want a Nathaniel for me! ;)

The setting, the romance, it's adorable! There are moments when you're reminded that this is very much a fairy tale type of story (far from real life.....although Will & Kate might beg to differ ;), but it's so much fun! To attempt to make it clear why you should read this one, and give you a taste of the story, I'm going to try something a little different. I wrote some notes while I was reading. I don't normally do this, but I kept talking to myself about this phrase or that scene and finally decided maybe I should write them down instead of shouting them in an empty room! :D Anyway, here are my (lengthy) thoughts:

If you're going to create a fake country, then you have to pick grand names for your cities. "Cathedral City"? I like it!  :::  I just love this: "...after he spiffed up the bathroom, I plum near put a place setting in there." ;)  :::  I love Aurora!  :::  Okay, these two people are idiots. Lovely and sweet idiots, but idiots all the same. Who do they think they're fooling?  :::  Definitely reminding me that I would never want to be royalty! How tiring must it be to always have part of you that millions of people know and expect to know? Sounds perfectly awful.  :::  Yup, he's twitterpated all right! :D  :::  Yes! Have a t-shirt made! "I don't want to marry her." Great plan.  :::  Stephen seems to think he knows all, but oh boy, does he ever not! What a horrid plan! Poor Susanna. But I've a feeling this is gonna backfire on him.  :::  If you feel guilty, then why are you trying to manipulate your son? Shouldn't the guilt be a clue not to?  :::  I love Aurora!  :::  Lady, you're a mom. Shouldn't that mean you actually listen to the son you're so concerned about?  :::  Well! It's about time she showed her true colors!  :::  Ah! The joys of being royal means you get to tell other people to shove it if need be! Politely of course. :D  :::  Susanna, never question a man who looks like that and talks like that when he says he loves you. Of course he means it!  :::  You know what? I totally agree with Susanna. Not a nice move there, bub.  :::  You go, Susanna! Show them that you're the bigger person!  :::  I love Aurora!  :::  This whole family is terrible at lying! (This is a good thing, but still. Surprises don't stay surprises this way!)  :::  For once, listen to your mother, Susanna. At this moment? Her advice is excellent! Oh my stars a mighty!!  :::  By George I think I'm in love with this man myself! He's got me swooning at his feet. I don't know how Susanna could resist him for so long!  :::  *Sigh* Melt my heart won't you, Ms. Hauck? It's in a puddle at my feet right now! *Sniff sniff*

It's awesome! Go read it! :)
"I don't like him, Mickey. Not in the way you mean." Susanna set down the dirty dishes and reached into the jar, fishing out quarters. "Even if I did--which I don't--he lives four bazillion miles away. Across the Atlantic and halfway into the North Sea."
"So you know where he lives?"
Susanna banged into the kitchen, leaving Mickey and his amusing chuckle on the deck. What did he know? Old Irish-singing coot. He wasn't even really Irish, for crying out loud."

May 28, 2013

My Favorite Musicals {Classic Movie May}

Kristin over at Sew Technicolor has been having a month of classic movies. She had a post last week with her favorite musicals. As I definitely love movies I can sing along with, I thought I'd join in today. :) So here are my top five favorites in no particular order:

The Sound of Music

The songs, the outfits, the kids, the romance, JULIE ANDREWS! What on earth is not to like about this movie? It's all things awesome in my opinion. 'Nough said. :D

My Fair Lady

I've already expounded on my love of this one the other day. But suffice it to say that it's a favorite! :)

The Music Man

This is another one I fell in love with when my high school performed it. I love the new version also (with Matthew Broderick and Kristin Chenoweth) and I can just about sing along with every single song. Not quite, but close to it! Harold and Marion have so much fun together and I love it! The library scene is one of my favorites, along with the bridge scene too. ;) And Winthrop is adorable.

Hello Dolly

Yes. I admit it. I love the romance. The cute banter between Dolly and Horace is so much fun. As are the secondary characters! Everybody gets their happy ending and you know I love my happy endings. :D

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

It's ridiculous and silly and may not make a whole lot of sense to anyone else. The only reason that I watched it the first time was because my Latin teacher in high school made us. As in we had time set aside during class to watch it and then were given a test to make sure we were paying attention! (Evidently it does a pretty great job of depicting ancient Rome. Down to the clothes and set pieces and make-up.) (......the things I remember from high school....*shakes head at myself*)  I've only seen it a few times since then but somehow it's grown on me and it never fails to make me laugh. :)

A few honorable mentions are: The King and I, Mary Poppins, and In The Good Old Summertime (which I loved! But I've only seen it once so didn't feel like I could count it).

Also, looking back at my list I noticed that all five musicals were introduced to me in high school. And four of them were performed by our drama department who did a big musical every spring. (Thank you Miss Gibbons! For bringing these musicals to my attention and making my high school years so much more fun!)

Do you like musicals? What are some of your favorites?

May 27, 2013

Bite-Size Reviews :: Edition Two

I liked writing my mini-reviews like this last time  (thanks Amber for the idea!) and it seemed like y'all enjoyed it too. So I'm doing it again! Yay, right? :) Without further ado, here's a bite-size review(s). (Yes, I tried to rhyme on purpose. You're welcome to think I'm silly, cause I freely admit that I am! ;)

Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff That Made Me Famous
Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff That Made Me Famous

This was cute! A reality TV cooking show for teenagers with a bunch of 15 to 18 year olds? That has the makings of a lot of drama. But not terrible, angst-filled drama. Light and funny angst-filled drama! Light on the angst of course. Sophie is a sweet girl who goes on a reality show and quickly learns the hard way that it's not all peaches and cream, or in her case pasta and her mother's tomato sauce recipe. ;) There's her growing feelings for a close friend, cameras following her everywhere, and a cute French student popping up unexpectedly, not to mention having to cook stuff she's not heard of or ever cooked before! But new friendships help balance it all out. A quick and fun story that will make you smile. It even has a few real recipes you can try yourself.  :)

Rating: Sophie's Baklava (sugary and a little nutty)

Princess of the Silver Woods (Princess, #3)
Princess of the Silver Woods

It was fun to return to the lives of this family again. But goodness, these princesses have a hard time staying out of trouble. Petunia is determined to show that while she's the youngest, you should never underestimate her. Unfortunately, in the midst of trying to do that, she acts a bit impetuously and hinders things instead of helping. So she still has a little growing up to do. Oliver is a bit impetuous himself, but I enjoyed the parts with his POV. He kept the story going. The interactions between characters did seem to move a little quick. So quick that I could never quite feel a real connection to any of them. And the romance really wasn't quite believable for me. (Yes, I know it's a fairy tale, but still.) Plus I had a hard time keeping track of the sisters who have never had their own story. It was good to see Rose and Galen again though! And I'd love to have a cape like Petunia. :) This is a pleasurable fairy tale re-telling and I enjoyed it. I will certainly be interested to see what Ms. George writes in the future!

Rating: Doughnuts (sweet and delicious and gobbled up quickly)

The Chocolate Kiss (Chocolate, #2)
The Chocolate Kiss

This is definitely a romance. But my gracious! Ms. Florand's writing is incredible! Sumptuous and lovely, it sweeps you gently into the story and refuses to let you go. It almost gives a fairy tale feel to the story. (Which, aren't most romances fairy tale-like anyway?)  With the little bit of magic (maybe?) that Magalie wishes into her chocolate, and the crazy delicious macaroons that Philippe makes, this story will leave you hungry by the end! (note: it does have a little language and a few other scenes some may not like.) A relatively quick read that had me craving chocolate and more of Ms. Florand's writing. :)

Rating: The Cup of Chocolate Magalie Makes (swirly and luscious and wonderful)

The Trouble with Cowboys (A Big Sky Romance, #3)
The Trouble With Cowboys

A charming romance with cowboys. What's not to like? ;) Dylan (the cowboy) can certainly make the women swoon, but Annie's a tough nut to crack. She really wants to give in, but lets fear rule her instead. Trying to care for a wayward younger sister and her nephew, Annie's got a lot on her plate. But Dylan is determined and what ensues is lots of banter and denying of obvious attraction. Dylan and Annie are cute and I liked how Dylan seemed like a flirt (which he is) but he's so much more behind that facade. It takes the right cowgirl to rope him in. ;D A minor flaw in the story is Annie's sister Sierra. She never became likeable to me. She kept making bad decisions and wasn't helpful or understanding to Annie at all. I'm glad her story turned out all right, but I wish she had grown up a whole lot more than she did. I guess we're supposed to imagine she did, but she never acted like it. But overall, this is a lovely way to spend a few hours.

Rating: S'mores (yummy and you always want more)

May 26, 2013

'Liza Doolittle Day

I just figured out that last Monday (May 20th) was 'Liza Doolittle Day! (For reference, watch this.) How on earth did I let this go past with no mention? That's terrible. That I didn't realize I mean, not that it's a day to celebrate 'Liza Doolittle!!

So this is simply me noting the day that celebrates a character from one of my favorite musicals. My first experience with this story was middle school. Our high school would put on a musical every spring and I don't think I'll ever forget watching this one. I fell in love with the story and the outfits and the singing and the whole nine yards! Imagine my excitement when I realized that there was a movie! :D

I haven't watched it in a while, but I do love it. As much as I love it though, I think my favorite version will always by the one from school. Because it was my introduction to a wonderful musical, plus the girl who played Eliza had a beautiful voice and was a wonderful actress. She will always be "my" Eliza. I do not remember her name now, but I do remember her face. And I absolutely remember how I felt the day I first watched it! I think I begged my mother to let me go watch it two or three more times just because I loved it so much. I'm sure I was singing the songs for days afterwards and probably annoying my family. :D

And for your further enjoyment, this is one of the songs I remember singing a lot:

Anyway, happy belated 'Liza Doolittle Day! :)

8 Signs I'm a Book Person

I think I safely say from the state of my bookshelves that I'm a book person. (Those are double stacked, thank you very much!) But I saw this article the other day and rated myself against it. Turns out my bookshelves were right! Let's examine the evidence, shall we?

1. You get antsy if the stranger seated next to you on a train or airplane engages you in conversation for more than five minutes because they’re cutting into your eagerly anticipated hours of uninterrupted reading time.

This doesn't happen every single time I'm sitting by someone who wants to talk. Sometimes I want to talk too! But it has happened. Not on a train because I never ride one, but certainly on an airplane.

2. You’re running out of room for your existing possessions but you are still accumulating books anyway and lying to yourself that stacks of used paperbacks give your apartment scholarly charm.

TRUE! Well, I've never thought about whether they give my apartment scholarly charm or not, but I absolutely can't seem to stop collecting books. As you can see from my bookshelves above!

3. You get more excited about likes on your Goodreads reviews than on your Facebook updates.

Okay, I admit it.  I do get secretly excited when someone likes one of my reviews on Goodreads. Or posts a question or responds to me on there. And I hardly ever check Facebook anymore. So there. I admitted it. Out loud. anyway. Which as we all know, if it goes on the internet, it must be true! ;P

4. You will buy another copy of a book you already own if you encounter a particularly beautiful edition. Fancy endpapers! Genuine leather binding! It’s a collector’s item, really. You’d be foolish NOT to buy it.

I do have a few multiple copies of real books but not a whole lot. I do, however, have several Kindle books and real books alike. Cause I always have my Kindle with me, but not my real books.

5. On at least one occasion you’ve pulled an all-nighter or temporarily withdrawn from civilized society to power through a riveting novel, and upon finishing, experienced a sense of exhausted satisfaction as though you’d completed a half marathon or thoroughly cleaned your closet.

One occasion?  How about bunches and bunches of occasions? I am terrible (or excellent? you decide) at staying up way too late to finish a book that I cannot put down.

6. You are the friend or family member who gives books as gifts, even to people you know are not fond of reading: “But it’s about that thing/place/person you like! Just try it!”

Actually, I don't really do this. I only gift books if I know the other person really wants to read it. Although I have given books as wedding gifts before.

7. You don’t have a Kindle. Or, conversely, you do have one, and are completely enamored with the way it delivers books to you on-demand and travels so easily – but you feel kind of guilty about it, like when you finally got rid of your favorite stuffed animals from when you were a little kid.

Oh yeah. I have a Kindle and kinda do feel slight guilt. But the prices and deals are so awesome! And did I mention the fact that I can take loads of books practically everywhere?! So basically, the guilt might be there, but it's overpowered by the awesome. :D

8. You’re only reading this post because you left your current book at home, or you’re in between books and haven’t yet decided what to dive into next. 

This was kind of true the day that I first read the article. So yeah.

How do you rate? Are you a book person too? :)

May 24, 2013

Fun Friday

Okay, so I admit it. I went in Barnes & Noble last night and came out with these two lovely and gorgeous books. Seriously! Aren't those covers awesome?! You know you think so too. ;P

I knew I wanted Once Upon a Prince and that I'd get it someday soon, I just wasn't sure when. I don't know much about Gone South other than Kellie loved it. I even entered a giveaway for one of the books, but I just couldn't pass them up! It simply was not humanly possible I tell you. I actually hadn't been in a B&N in ages. When I stepped inside, it felt just like home. Ever happen to you? Bookstores just have this certain feel about them, don't they? :)

Regardless, when I saw each book sitting on its respective shelf, I couldn't stop my hand from reaching out and grabbing them up. A small trek to the cash register (and a lighter purse on my shoulder) later, they were mine. MINE! My precious! Okay, so I'm not that obsessed with them. Really! But I'm pretty positive I can safely say that I'll be doing some reading this weekend. Hooray for reading! What I'm not looking so forward to is the fact that my Friday at work is going to be so slow. When I really want to be home, I know my work day is probably guaranteed to make me (extra) crazy. Isn't that how it always works? *big sigh*

Anyway! Next pointless topic. If you're on Pinterest, you may have seen this pin floating around.

A friend and I were trying it out the other day and this is what I figured out about myself:
  • Peter, with all his charming personality and engaging wit, is not the best housekeeper. So evidently I'm a great conversationalist (who knew?) but I'm terrible at housekeeping (most definitely). And I have no idea about the Peter part.
  • The meal they call dinner here is not the simple lunch of sushi or ham on wheat I'm partial to back home. Sushi is a simple lunch (??? I've never actually tried it) and I must like to eat (TRUTH).
  • There are certain irremovable barriers between myself and them, and I must accept them. Now I go from being engaging to having barriers?
What say you? Based on the admittedly little you may know about me, do you think these describe my life? What about you? What would your books say about you? If you try it, let me know what you came up with! I'm very interested to see if someone else had better luck than I did. :D

Happy Friday y'all!

May 23, 2013

Love's Miracles Blog Tour & Interview + 2 Giveaways!!

Welcome to the Love's Miracles blog tour hosted by Seasons of Humility! I have the very great pleasure of author Sandra Leesmith dropping by today to answer some questions.

Sandra, welcome to Flowers of Quiet Happiness! So glad you could stop by today. What inspired you to write Love's Miracles?

Sandra:  Thank you, Kara. You have a lovely blog site and I’m delighted to join you today. Love’s Miracles was definitely a book of my heart. My brother served in Vietnam in the Air Force and it just broke my heart how the Vets were treated when they came home. We all hated war, but the men and women who served went to war believing they were making a sacrifice for their country. And they were. But when they returned home, they were spat upon, ridiculed and worse. I wanted to honor that sacrifice. The research of this story brought to life the horror those Vets faced and I wanted the world to know the terrible price they paid.

Your character, Zane, is a Vietnam veteran. Was it difficult to write such a character who's dealing with so much pain and turmoil due to his experiences? Did you draw on personal experiences for the character or research or both?

Sandra:  Zane is a fictional character and fortunately I did not personally know anyone who experienced what Zane experienced. I was blessed to hook up with a psychiatrist who worked at the Veteran’s Hospital and she gave me more information than I would ever want to know. It always amazes me how I meet the people I need to know when I’m researching for a book. I also interviewed several Marines who helped with the accuracy of the war scenes.

If you could pick a song that would describe the mood of your story, what would it be and why?

Sandra:  There is a song in the story, Forever Friends, that plays a key role in the story. I wrote the poem that are the lyrics so the song is not real, but I always pictured Bob Dylan singing it.

What were your favorite books as a child and have they influenced your writing in any way?

Sandra:  As a child, I bypassed Nancy Drew and went straight for my mother’s books.  So I read romance from as far back as I can remember. Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell and Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne Du Maurier stick in my mind.

Name five things you can't live without.

Sandra:  Five things I can’t live without would be my Bible, my family, my motorhome, my pickleball paddle and my reading glasses.   (I’m assuming you aren’t talking about the basics like air, food, water. LOL)

Pickleball?! I've never heard of that before. The name alone intrigues me! :D

Tea or coffee?

Sandra:  Coffee for sure and I absolutely adore Chocolate Velvet. Black.

I'm a tea person myself, but chocolate velvet sounds delicious.

Where's your favorite place you and your husband have visited? Where do you want to go that you haven't been yet?

Sandra:  Lake Tahoe used to be our favorite place, but we discovered Bend/Sunriver in Oregon and really enjoy that area. I want to travel to Spain and will be doing that next fall. My hubby and I would love to go to New Zealand and Australia.

I'd love to visit Australia or New Zealand. And Spain sounds wonderful. I hope y'all have a lovely trip! :)

What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer that question?

Sandra:  This is a tough question. I never thought about it before. I suppose the burning question still in my mind is, "What is heaven like?". I will have to wait until I get there to really know.  *smile*

I can't wait to find that out either!

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions, Sandra! I really appreciate it.

Sandra:  You are welcome, Kara. It has been a pleasure.

 About the Author

Sandra loves to hike, read, bicycle, and write. She lives in Arizona with her husband and Labrador retriever. During the hot summer, she and her husband travel throughout the United States in their motorhome, where she enjoys the outdoors and finds wonderful ideas for her next writing project.

You can learn more about Sandra and her books at her website.

 About the Book

Dr. Margo Devaull came to Dominic Zanelli's mountain retreat confident that she could help this Vietnam veteran overcome the torment that kept him apart from the world. But her training as a psychologist had not prepared her for the tragic, explosive contradictions brewing inside him. For here was a sensitive artist who could be gentle – and a man whose eyes flashed with violence and pain when he told her to leave and never come back. Yet Margo did come back, slowly gains his trust, and awakens the sleeping needs of his heart. Only by reliving her own wounded past and helping Zane confront a terrible memory from the war could she set them both free – and save their last chance for love.

{The Kindle book is now available through Amazon and will be free on May 24th - 27th as a special Memorial Day promotion.}

Giveaway #1

Sandra has generously decided to giveaway one of her books (The Price of Victory or Current of Love) to one of YOU! Please leave a comment below in order to be eligible, along with your email address so we can contact you. Giveaway ends on May 31st.

Giveaway #2

Note: US residents only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

May 22, 2013

A Poetic Look At My Favorite Book(s)

 If you ask me for my favorite story,
I might say it's Daddy Long Legs.

If I say it's Daddy Long Legs,
I might have to show you the book.

If I show you the book,
I might tell you about Judy Abbott.

If I tell you about Judy,
You might want to read her letters.

If you read her letters,
You might learn about her friend Sallie McBride.

If you learn about her friend Sallie,
You might want to know Sallie's story too.

If you want to know Sallie's story,
I might tell you it's called Dear Enemy.

If I tell you it's called Dear Enemy,
You might want to know who the enemy is.

If you want to know who the enemy is,
I might tell you just to read the book.

If you read the book,
You might fall in love with all the orphans.

If you fall in love with all the orphans,
They might remind you about Judy.

If they remind you about Judy,
You might want to read her story again.

If you read Judy's story again,
It might become a favorite.

If it becomes a favorite,
Someone might ask about your favorite story.

If someone asks about your favorite story,
You might tell them it's Daddy Long Legs.

May 21, 2013

Review: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

My Life Next Door
My Life Next Door

"One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garrett's. All the time.”

The Garrett's are everything the Reed's are not. Loud, numerous, messy, affectionate. And every day from her balcony perch, seventeen-year-old Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs her terrace and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely in love, Jase's family makes Samantha one of their own. Then in an instant, the bottom drops out of her world and she is suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

This was definitely a story that swept me away for a few hours! I'd opened to the first couple pages planning to only read a little bit. But when I looked up, several hours had passed and I had read the entire thing! :) It's a sweet love story. The romance itself is cute and Samantha and Jase have good chemistry. But what makes this story so much fun is the entire Garrett family. They are awesome! From mom and dad all the way down to little Patsy. Once you meet the Garrett's, you'll wish you could be part of their family yourself! They are loud and teasing and fun, with everyone understanding that love is always a given. No matter what. They are the type of family that will tease and fight with each other constantly, but stand up for each other to anyone else.

My favorite member of the family is George of course! How do you not fall in love with him? He's simply adorable and immediately likes Samantha. She never stood a chance. Her family life is so entirely different and rigid in comparison. The Garrett family, with their warmth and love, is just what she needs! She soaks up every moment she spends at their house. And since they're next door neighbors, once Jase climbs into her life (literally!), she is able to spend as much time as she wants at their house.

So there's lots of blissful moments. But stories never stay blissful for long. Trouble comes, and life gets really, really complicated. Samantha proceeds to make some very bad mistakes, unfortunately. She's got a lot of learning to do when it comes to knowing how to handle bad situations. One of those lessons being the fact that you have to handle them, you can't run away. But Samantha is a great girl and with some time, and some pushing from other characters, realizes the right thing to do.

I will say that there were a couple scenes that get pretty explicit. I didn't actually feel that they were necessary. One happens right after an awful situation, and could have been left out entirely. The story still would have been just fine without it. However, they are easily skipped over, as you can pretty well tell when they are approaching. So beware if you decide to read this one. Overall, this was a fun story. It would make a great beach read in my opinion! :) 

"I'm left with George. He sucks on his Popsicle meditatively for a few minutes, then asks, "Did you know that in space it's very, very cold? And there's no oxygen? And if an astronaut fell out of a shuttle without his suit he'd die right away?"
I'm a fast learner. "But that would never happen. Because astronauts are really, really careful."
George gives me a smile, the same dazzling sweet smile as his big brother, although, at this point, with green teeth. "I might marry you," he allows. "Do you want a big family?"

May 19, 2013

Questions & Ponderings

  • Have you ever picked up a book, opened to the first couple pages "just to check it out", and many hours later put the book down because you've finished it? No? Then I won't tell you that's what happened to me today, lest you think I'm silly or something. :D
  • Is three trips to the library in one week too many? I had several books requested and they kept coming in on different days. I could have waited til the end of the week and just went once I suppose, but I had no idea that any of the others were going to arrive! Plus when I know the book is waiting for me, it's awful hard not to run out right then and pick it up, especially when the library is close. What if I want to read it that very evening? (Completely disregarding the fact that real life prevented this most of the week.)
  • Why does time go so fast? My oldest niece just became a teenager recently. A teenager!! What joys her parents are in for the next few years, right? ;) I can't get over the fact that she's that old already. It seems like just a couple years ago that she was still little. But I do love the fact that we can have meaningful chats now. I hope I can always stay the "cool aunt" that I am today (one of my nephews called me that, so of course it's the truth!).
  • How crazy awesome is this? I found out this week that one of my favorite bloggers actually lives just a couple towns away from me! And. And! We actually have several mutual friends and connections that I just discovered! Is that not crazy? Yet awesome?! I always picture my online friends as living other exotic places. You know, exotic places like Montana or Illinois or Canada or England. But to find one that's basically my neighbor? Made me smile all day long when I found it out. :)
  • Why is it that I can't get any enthusiasm up for doing some sewing? I have a couple dresses I'd love to have made and the pattern pieces are all cut out and everything! So all I have to do is sit down and start sewing. Yet I seem to find everything else imaginable to do instead of sew. Hmmmm. Does that say something about my priorities?
  • Do you like receiving real mail? Versus email I mean? I do. And I got a lovely card from a dear friend this week. Nothing special, she just wanted me to know she was thinking of me and hoped I was having a wonderful week. Isn't that sweet? It was so encouraging for me! Made me think I should do that more often for others. Encouraging notes really do make a difference.
  • Are you on Twitter? I'm not, but have been pondering the idea of joining for a while. It sounds so fun to keep up with some lovely people that way. Not to mention it would be great for keeping tabs on the Sanditon happenings! I know The LBD characters were very active and there were several things I missed or was late to the game on because I didn't have Twitter then. I think my biggest question is whether I'd have time to keep up with it. And whether anyone would pay attention to anything I'd have to say in 140 characters. So tell me. Yea? Nay? Should I? Shouldn't I? Rissi was already sweet enough to expound on some of the ups and downs of tweeting (thanks friend!), but I'd love to hear more thoughts. Care to share?
  • Did you know that there's a blog tour starting this week? And I'm going to be part of it! Head over here to find out more details and where to visit for the next two weeks. And be sure to come back here on Thursday! The author, Sandra Leesmith, will be answering some questions and there will be a giveaway or two. So please mark your calendars! :)

May 18, 2013

Fairy Tales

"Fairy tales, then, are not responsible for producing in children fear, or any of the shapes of fear; fairy tales do not give the child the idea of the evil or the ugly; that is in the child already, because it is in the world already. Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The babe has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imaginationWhat the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon."
G. K. Chesterton

I think maybe what resonates in fairy tales and fantasy stories (at least for me), is the idea that ordinary people can do amazing things! Yes, some have the help of magic and such, but most of the time the villains are defeated by someone who simply needed to realize how strong they actually are on the inside. And that good will defeat evil!

That's true for us too. That's why it resonates. Because we need reminded that we are all: ordinary people learning that we have the power to do extraordinary things!

May 17, 2013

Audiobook Review: The Duck Commander Family by Willie and Korie Robertson

The Duck Commander Family: How Faith, Family, and Ducks Built a Dynasty
The Duck Commander Family
Read by Willie and Korie Robertson

Faith. Family. Ducks—in that order. This audiobook gives readers an up-close and personal, behind-the-scenes look at the family in the exploding A&E show—Duck Dynasty. This Louisiana bayou family operates Duck Commander, a booming family business that has made them millions. You’ll hear all about the Robertson clan from Willie and what it was like growing up in the Robertson household. You’ll sample some of Willie’s favorite family recipes from Phil, Kay, and even some of his own concoctions; and you’ll get to know the beautiful Robertson women. You’ll hear from Korie about the joys and hardships of raising a family, running a business, and wrangling the Robertson men while staying fashionable and beautiful inside and out. Discover more about the family dynamics between brothers Willie, Jase, Jep, and parents Phil and Kay. You’ll even meet a fourth brother who isn’t in the show.

I confess that I have not seen their show. But I've certainly heard of it! I think everybody and their brother has. I've been curious about it, so I figured maybe a look into their family life might be interesting. I was right! It begins from both Willie and Korie's childhood and continues until present day. The Robertson family has certainly had it's fair share of ups and downs. I really enjoyed hearing about their adventurous beginnings. Because adventurous they were!

When hunting is more than a sport, when shooting that duck means you'll have meat for supper tonight and missing means you won't, you get pretty good at it. And these Robertson boys are hunters in every sense of the word. I don't think there's a single animal they haven't shot or eaten. It's quite obviously in their blood and they can't imagine life without it. Not being a hunter myself, I could still understand the need to have food on the table and if you can have fun while getting it there, then all the better. ;) Willie and Korie aren't afraid to talk about the struggles they've had and the mistakes they've made either, yet the obvious love and respect they have for Phil and Kay shone through every word. The Robertson's are a family that refuse to stop dreaming and still keep each other grounded at the same time. Life wasn't always easy for them, especially in the early days, but it's a testament to Phil and Kay that their family has stuck together no matter what.

Listening to Willie and Korie talk about their lives made me feel like I was right there involved and part of the family. That was definitely the fun part of them reading their own story for the audiobook. Plus hearing their southern accents made me feel like I was back home again! :D The downside though, is they tend to sound monotone sometimes. The book could have used a little tighter editing also. There were several moments that felt choppy and some repetitiveness that could have been eliminated. And while I do believe that their faith in God is a big part of their life (and I'm absolutely thrilled that they want to talk about it!), they repeatedly mentioned it so often that it started feeling slightly forced by the end of the book. Like they felt they had to add it in there to appeal to a certain audience or something.

But don't let that discourage you. While it's not perfect, this was easily a fun way to be entertained. Life is never dull down in Louisiana! And you get to hear all about the family with the beards and the duck calls. ;) Sharing their hearts as well as lots of recipes and funny stories, they make you feel like you could pull into their driveway unexpectedly and they'd immediately open their doors and invite you in. Then they wouldn't let you leave until you'd been thoroughly filled with Kay's or Willie's cooking and with loads of stories filling your head. A happy thought indeed. :)

"My advice is don't take yourself too seriously. Laugh a lot. Enjoy your time with family and appreciate the unique talents of others. Trust in God, love your neighbor, say your sorry, forgive, and work hard. Sit down to a good meal, turn off your cell phone, respect your elders, and of course, get out in the woods and enjoy some good old frog legs. That's the Robertson way."

May 14, 2013

Welcome to Sanditon :: Episode 1

Welcome to Sanditon had it's first episode on Monday. Last week, there was a teaser video, but it wasn't an official episode. If you've been reading my blog for a little while, you'll know that I've been looking forward to this web series since The Lizzie Bennet Diaries ended! So I thought I'd post my thoughts thus far. I may do this more as we go through the series, I'll just have to see if I have any more thoughts to share later. But I promise not to bombard you with Sanditon stuff! (At least, I'll try my best not too. ;)

Sanditon: Jane Austen's Last Novel CompletedI had to go dig out my copy of Sanditon by Jane Austen and Another Lady (yes, that's how the author is named) to do a little research. It's been a while since I've read the story, so I needed to remind myself who the characters were and what they were like. (On a side note, if you haven't read this uncompleted manuscript by Austen, I'd really recommend this particular book. The second author completes the story and does it in a way that, I feel, makes it hard to tell where Austen's work ends and hers begins. I've read a couple of versions of the story, and so far this one is my favorite.)

Now for the characters we've met:

Gigi Darcy was adorable on The LBD and I knew that she'd be great here. I was right! Yes, it's only one episode, so it may seem a little early to be saying that, but I'm pretty confident I won't be changing my mind. ;)

We have Mayor Tom Parker, who is remarkably similar to his book character. All focused on getting news about his town out and about and definitely interested in health and fitness.

There's his assistant, who wasn't named, but I've a pretty good idea who he may be. I'll save my thoughts until I know for sure though. I could be wrong!

The other character is Clara Breton, owner of Sanditon Scoops. She seems very down to earth and nice. Her book counterpart is described as sweet and graceful and having the makings of a heroine. It will be fun to see if this Clara gets to be a heroine or not. I'm already fond of her!

I confess to being curious about who Lady Denham will be. But most importantly, I want to know about Charlotte and Sidney! They are my favorite characters from the book. With Gigi being an addition (not in the book obviously), I'm wondering if she's taking the place of Charlotte or if we've yet to meet that character. I'm hoping we've yet to meet her. And surely they'll have a Sidney! Can't wait til he shows up. Along with the Parker siblings! I think they would have the ability to provide lots of comic relief, so we shall see. I'm anxious to find out just what they do with all these characters and who shows up and who doesn't.

Of course, I loved the shout outs to William. Gigi is a Darcy after all, and this is supposed to be part of Pemberly Digital's testing of their Domino interface. I still hold out the small hope that William or Lizzie (or both!) will show up in these videos. I mean, William has to have contact with Gigi while she's gone, right? Right! ;D Ah well, regardless if anybody from The LBD shows up or not, I'm positive we're in for a fun ride. :) Have you watched the episode? What did you think?

May 13, 2013

Review: Poison by Bridget Zinn


Sixteen-year-old Kyra, a highly-skilled potions master, is the only one who knows her kingdom is on the verge of destruction—which means she’s the only one who can save it. Faced with no other choice, Kyra decides to do what she does best: poison the kingdom’s future ruler, who also happens to be her former best friend.

But, for the first time ever, her poisoned dart . . . misses.

Now a fugitive instead of a hero, Kyra is caught in a game of hide-and-seek with the king’s army and her potioner ex-boyfriend, Hal. At least she’s not alone. She’s armed with her vital potions, a too-cute pig, and Fred, the charming adventurer she can’t stop thinking about. Kyra is determined to get herself a second chance (at murder), but will she be able to find and defeat the princess before Hal and the army find her?

What a fabulously awesome story! Poisons and a dart-throwing Master Potioner, a charming fisherman who refuses to stay in the background, a pig and a "wolf" becoming travel companions, along with ex-friends and soldiers after them all. Who's up for an adventure?

First of all, Kyra is wonderful. Resourceful and always thinking ahead, when she's not distracted anyway, she's been in hiding for three months when the story begins. And we get no details about why she tried to kill her best friend. Of course we know that she has to have had a good reason for it, but she refuses to tell us. Instead we get to travel along with her as she eludes some of the best potioners in the kingdom and also a few soldiers with poison-tipped weapons that she helped create. Because Kyra is exceptionally good at creating potions and also at throwing poison-filled darts. Yet the most important dart she needed to throw, missed its mark. Which led to fleeing for her life. When you try to kill the next in line for the throne, people don't tend to appreciate that. Kyra is a feisty and quick-thinking tomboy who never seems to do what everyone expects she will. She has quite a lot of secrets and is wary to share them. Even with the reader!

Along her journey, she acquires a pig, Rosie, who she doesn't want to grow attached to, yet is unable to help herself. Rosie's adorable. And definitely has a nose worth having around! Fred and Langley soon join up, even though Kyra tries as hard as she can to leave them behind. Fred is a nice guy hero. He's cute, generally always cheerful, somewhat goofy, and helpful in getting out of some dire situations. Although he puts them into some dire situations a time or two also. Most notably, he's distracting. And Kyra doesn't need distractions, especially of the attractive kind. The romance between them is charming and innocent.

What Ms. Zinn does so well, is keep the secrets and mysteries just out of reach, with little hints here and there. You have so much fun while each one slowly gets revealed! Kyra is constantly on the move, she has to be, so the action doesn't slow down very often. When all is quiet on the outside, she's still got a brain planning ahead, or is busy bantering with Fred. Add in a few goblins, a witch who'd love some new slaves, a helpful gypsy or two, and you have lots of entertainment. As things rarely slow down, the story keeps you on your toes and makes for a delightful way to spend a few hours! Don't hesitate! Go read it right now. It's loads of fun! :D

"Kyra's left hand cramped as she reached for the next shingle. What she wouldn't give for a sturdy length of rope to climb. She cursed quietly. What was she doing wishing for rope? If she was going to wish for something, it should be something really important.
Like pie.

Kyra closed her eyes. This wasn't going very well. She hadn't gotten the potion, and she was trapped in a hermitless hermit home. Plus she'd just discovered that she looked old."

May 10, 2013

Review: The Heiress of Winterwood by Sarah E. Ladd

The Heiress of Winterwood (Whispers on the Moors, # 1)
The Heiress of Winterwood (Whispers on the Moors #1)

Pride goes before the fall . . . but what comes after?

Darbury, England, 1814

Amelia Barrett, heiress to an ancestral estate nestled in the English moors, defies family expectations and promises to raise her dying friend’s infant baby. She'll risk everything to keep her word—even to the point of proposing to the child’s father, Graham, a sea captain she’s never met.

Tragedy strikes when the child vanishes with little more than a sketchy ransom note hinting to her whereabouts. Fear for the child’s safety drives Amelia and Graham to test the boundaries of their love for this infant.

Amelia’s detailed plans would normally see her through any trial, but now, desperate and shaken, she examines her soul and must face her one weakness: pride. Graham’s strength and self-control have served him well and earned him much respect, but chasing perfection has kept him a prisoner of his own discipline. Both must learn to accept God’s sovereignty and relinquish control so they can grasp the future He has for planned for them.

I've been reading wonderful reviews of this one and had been really looking forward to reading it for myself. I am so glad to say that it was as excellently written as I'd anticipated! I had not realized that there would be switches in the points of view between Amelia and Graham. But it definitely helped keep the story flowing, to see what each were experiencing and thinking separately. Especially concerning one another, since they were virtual strangers at the beginning. It takes a while for their trust in one another to manifest. Which is only natural. It would be quite disconcerting to meet a lady for the first time and have her propose right then and there!

Amelia and Graham have good chemistry and an obvious love for baby Lucy (who adds much adorableness to her small part of the story). That helps them come to understand one another a lot easier. Which in turn helps Amelia immensely when she becomes in desperate need of an ally. By the time the second half of the story arrives, the poor girl is stuck in a pretty hard place with seemingly no easy way to go, no matter what she chooses. Amelia's intentions are good, yet her plans are not always so well thought out. And Graham has to come to terms with meeting his daughter for the first time, saying good-bye to his late wife, and adjusting to an attractive young woman who needs his help.

While the romance is cute, it stays more or less in the background while the mystery complicates matters. As the tension rises, Ms. Ladd keeps you on your toes wondering just who the bad guy is and what he/she is planning. Yet I do have to say that I'd anticipated the story flowing a little differently. Things weren't moving as fast as I'd thought they would in the first half, then the latter half of the story picked up, but we didn't get any farther than solving the mystery of what happened to Lucy (whose disappearance doesn't even occur until more than half-way through). I kept thinking that surely I'd get beyond this or that happening and then the romance would pick up and other things not mentioned in the synopsis would all wrap up on a sweet note. I ended up feeling like the description gave a lot of the plot away and the story didn't leave much room for surprises at the end.

While it ends very nicely and with the main threads tied up, there were still things that seem unfinished. It truly felt like the first book of a series. Which isn't a bad thing! Not at all. I sensed that there is much more to the story yet to be told and imagined that some of those parts were going to happen in this book, which they didn't. So hopefully this means that book 2 will pick up soon after this one and the untold parts will get their time to shine. Ms. Ladd is certainly a wonderful writer and knows her time period very well. I was delighted with the story overall and will look forward to more time spent at Winterwood in the future! :)

"No longer able to sit, Amelia jumped from her seat and stepped toward him. "Captain, I have raised Lucy these nine months. I could not love her more if she were my own. She is more important to me than a hundred Mr. Littletons and a thousand Winterwoods. Believe me when I say I will do whatever necessary to see her well cared for."
The Captain stood to his full height. "You said you had a plan, Miss Barrett."
Amelia's hands shook. It was useless to even try to prevent her lips from quivering as she spoke. "In order to continue raising Lucy when you return to your duties, and in order to inherit Winterwood and have the resources to provide Lucy with what she needs, I would need to marry someone besides Mr. Littleton in the next few weeks."
 His eyes narrowed. "What exactly are you suggesting?"
"You, Captain Sterling. you and I should marry. Immediately."

**I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookSneeze in exchange for my honest review.

May 9, 2013

Writing vs Story

After writing my review of Shades of Earth the other day, it got me to thinking about how some writing I really connect with and some I don't. I stated in that review that I didn't especially enjoy the story overall, yet the writing drew me in and made me want to read it. I wondered if anyone even understood what I meant. Then I remembered a conversation at Hamlette's blog that reassured me. So I don't think I'm the only one who has felt this way. And by "this way" I mean the fact that the writing can be awesome yet the story not be as engaging. Or the story could be awesome and the writing so-so. Do you know what I mean?

I do think that what we, as readers, deem good writing or a great story all depends upon what we enjoy. In other words, we all have the type of writing that will suck us in and the type we don't connect with. The type of stories that will catch our attention and the type that won't. So everybody has their own opinion on these subjects. Please note that my opinions could differ quite a bit from yours. :)
My first example is, of course, the Across the Universe trilogy by Beth Revis. As I said in my review, Ms. Revis' writing is amazing! She definitely had a way of hooking me in and keeping me engaged enough to want to find out what happened. Even though I wasn't all that thrilled about the actual story.
An opposite example is the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer. Yes, I've read that series and yes, I'm going to talk about it. The biggest thing I remember thinking while I was reading them, was that the writing was really mediocre. It felt pretty simple to me, if that makes any sense at all. Yet the story itself (while far from perfect and I do acknowledge that it has plenty of problems) was engaging enough to keep me hooked through four really thick books! (Seriously, have you looked at the size of those books recently? They're huge! Very difficult to hold in my hand while trying to read them. In fact, I had to prop them on something while reading because my hands hurt from trying to hold them up.) So Ms. Meyer certainly has a way of imagining a story that will grab people. (As millions of women can attest to.)
Obviously the goal of most writers (I assume) is to be great at both writing and story. And I'm sure it's not easy trying to mesh those two things. But it's definitely possible! There's plenty of those examples out there too.
Take My Hands Came Away Red by Lisa McKay. I was blown away by this book! The writing was wonderful and the story swept me up and didn't let go until days and days after I was finished with the book.
That's probably the kind of writing that every writer dreams of. To make their readers unable to forget the story days or even months or years later.
The Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner is another awesome example of great writing and a terrific story. I didn't think I'd enjoy these books nearly as much as I did. But she was able to make me fall in love with the characters and care about a war between three separate countries.
Of course then there are the books where both writing and story are incompatible with the reader. Books that I couldn't finish and couldn't get into the story at all.
For example, Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson. I had read so many excellent reviews of that book and I thought for sure I'd like it. Alas, the story fell flat for me. I simply had no desire to finish it.
Perhaps there really isn't any rhyme or reason as to why we fall in love with one book and not with another. While I may love one book by an author, I may not like any of his/her other books. It could just depend on the moment in time. Maybe what you're going through in your life helps your mind decipher what it will enjoy and what it won't. Possibly our moods affect it or other external things as well.

All I know is that there are some books I love and some I don't. Some authors (though very few) that I love everything they write and some I don't. Whatever the reasons behind it, it just is. What say you?


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...