Monday, September 30, 2013

Week 2 Complete

Last week was a hectic week with subbing and after school/evening activities so I am glad I got a head start to the week with getting my workouts in.

I was super pumped because the week before I had attempted to do a "pyramid workout" consisting of a succession of 25-20-15-10-5 reps of squats, push-ups, crunches, and lunges.  Last week I only made it to the 15 section, but this week I completed the whole thing.  I wanted to quit, but once I got to the 10s, I knew I could do it and kept pushing myself.  My legs were like jello afterwards, but the feeling of accomplishment was worth it.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Book Review: The Old Rectory By Julia Ibbotson

Escape to a Country Kitchen

By: Julia Ibbotson

Published: March 8, 2013


I am bringing you this review today as part of the PUMP UP YOUR BOOK Blog Tour.  For more information or to read other reviews, check out their site, HERE.

This is the memoir of Julia and her husband who found a lovely old Victorian rectory and wanted to make it theirs.  Through many ups and downs, their perfect little hideaway in the English moorlands eventually becomes theirs.  After many years of being neglected, the author and her husband have a lot of work ahead of them.  Especially after finding out their home was built in 1860.  Through the process of renovating, many historical stories emerge.  Julia revels in cooking for her family and friends, sharing their experiences, and "living the dream" in their quaint country home.

While reading, you will have to put your mindset in the language of the British.  Words like "chum" and "vicar" will put you in the true setting of the book.  As the author discusses the meals she fixed for her family, your mouth will water.  Each chapter then closes with recipes of the meals described that will delight your senses.  I would expect that you would want to run to the store and get these meals on your dinner table. 

The story is full of detail and charm and makes you want to visit an English village in your future. I feel like I could be sitting with Julia having tea and relishing in their story of finding their dream home.  

If you like memoirs of historical significance and charming stories that will bring a smile to your face, check out THE OLD RECTORY, brew yourself a cup of English tea and settle in for a enchanting journey.

I read this on my Kindle, but it is also available in paperback.

Julia Ibbotson is the award-winning author of THE OLD RECTORY: ESCAPE TO A COUNTRY KITCHEN, first published to acclaim in the USA and now re-launched with a brand-new cover by her new English publisher in the UK. Julia has been writing creatively all her life (unpublished!) but her day jobs to pay the mortgage have been as a school teacher and later a university academic, gaining her PhD at the age of 57. She delights in being a wife and mother to four, with four little grandchildren. She loves reading, gardening, growing food, cooking for family and friends and country life. Having published many academic texts and papers, she came late to actually publishing her creative writing, at the age of 60 plus, when she was persuaded to write the story of the renovation of her Victorian rectory in The Old Rectory. She has combined memoir, history, research, story and recipes in this first published book, which has won a number of international book festivals in the biography category, gained 5 star reviews on Amazon, and has been widely featured (along with her house) in the media. She has begun to delve into the world of blogging, facebook and now has her own website at  at which she also posts blogs regularly, about writing, life and her passions. Her new project is a trilogy of novels following the life story of a new character, Jess, from fleeing to West Africa as a volunteer teacher/nurse in the 1960s to the millennium. The first of the series, Drumbeats, is due to be published later this year. You can find out more on her website and on her author page on Amazon.  Julia can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.  

I was provided with a review copy of this book for my Kindle.  I was not compensated in any other way for this review.  This review is my honest opinion.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Bible with A Jump

This weekend we had to travel about an hour and a half each way for Patrick's cross country meet.  He did awesome by the way.....

A very hilly course, a longer race than some of the other meets (1.8 miles) and against some tough schools and he placed 8th for middle school boys and was the first from our school to finish!  Super proud mom moment!! Each race he just gets better and better.

Anyway, we had to leave right after his race to head home for a wedding and stopped to eat a quick bite on the way home.  After coming out from the restaurant, we found our van to be completely dead.  We had just had the oil changed on Friday and the service mechanic said we were in need of a new battery and put one on order.  Guess we were more in need than he realized.  We were now an hour away from home with a dead battery and in a hurry.  

I called AAA right away and was told someone would be out within an hour and a half.  Could be sooner, but wasn't sure.  That wasn't going to work in our schedule too well, but what choice did we have?  Right then two older gentlemen started getting in to the vehicle right next to us.  We had noticed several tables of older men in the restaurant and figured there was some type of convention somewhere.  Pat asked the men if they had jumper cables and if so, had time to give us a jump.  Thankfully, they had cables and had a few extra minutes.  Pat started talking to the gentlemen while hooking up the cables and found out they were in town for a Gideon convention. How about that?  A minute later, the man was handing Pat a Bible.

A few more minutes of charging later, and our van was running and both of us were back on the road.  So we ended up with more than a jump, but a wonderful book.  Inside it says....

The Gideons International is an Association of Christian business and men, banded together in more than 190 countries for fellowship and service.  The purpose of the Association is the promotion of the Gospel of Christ to all people, to the end that they might come to know the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. 

With the help of Christian friends of many different churches, Gideons have been able to place and distribute over 1.8 billion Bibles and New Testaments to hotels, motels, hospitals, penal institutions, members of the armed forces, school students, and those in the public nursing field.

We are pleased to present you with this copy of God's precious Word and trust that you will enjoy reading it daily. 

As you can see in the photo, it fits in your palm...might need glasses to read the print....and just contains the New Testament as well as the Book of Psalms and Book of Proverbs.  It also includes a topical section with verses to help you in time of need, such as addiction, disaster, stress, and worry.  There are also verses to help you to live with a Christian character.  

Thank you to the Gideons for taking the extra time to help us out and for sharing God's Word and message with us and many others.  For more on the Gideons, check out

Monday, September 23, 2013

A Little Monday Inspiration and My Week 1 Check In

I finished Week 1 of the Living and Active challenge with Peak 313.  I have been pretty sore this weekend after doing some different exercises and getting out of the "treadmill box". I'm looking forward to pushing myself forward another week.  This quote really sums up my thoughts from the week....

It's important to remember that each footstrike carries you forward, not backward.  And every time you put on your running shoes you are different in some way than you were the day before.


John Bingham, "The Penguin" - author, columnist, and advocate for the "slow runners" at 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Tips for Getting Your Child Through Allergy Season from Claritin

As a member of the Children's Claritin Mom Crew, I am happy to share with you Back-to-School tips to help your kids feel their best during this high allergy season.  I know that when your child is suffering from allergies, their performance isn't going to be what it should be.  They are constantly interrupting their learning to blow their nose, sniffle, cough, walk to the wastebasket and start all over again a few minutes later.  I've got some tips to share with you to hopefully help make allergy season a little easier for all of you.

Claritin's Allergy Season Tips

1. Be sure to have Children’s Claritin, the #1 pediatrician-recommended non-drowsy allergy brand, on hand!

2. Multi-vitamins are building blocks to having a strong immune system. Make taking a multi-vitamin part of your child’s daily routine.

3. Let there be light! Mold doesn't like sunlight, so try to keep your curtains open during the day. Should be easy during the summer months!

4. Did you know that most pillows trap allergens, dust mites, and bacteria? Monitor the cleanliness of the pillow your child with allergies sleeps on and replace if necessary.

5. Back to school season means lots of laundry for many moms. Be sure to remove laundry from the washing machine promptly. Allowing wet clothes to sit in the washer means mold can quickly grow there.

6. Monitor pollen counts and adjust outdoor before and after school activities accordingly. Dry, windy days can be particularly high in pollen.

7. Showering or bathing at the end of the day as opposed to the morning can be helpful in removing allergensfrom body surfaces and hair.

8. Stay hydrated! Always send your child to school with a bottle of water. Drinking lots of clear fluids through the day can help get rid of toxins and flush out body.

9. Peak pollen production typically occurs in early morning, so try to plan outside activities at other times of the day.

Obviously, not all these can be avoided or kept every single day.  Our son is in Cross Country and has to run every day outside after school as well as at early morning meets...sometimes on trails, kicking up dust and pollens.  What works best for us is being consistent with our allergy medication.  Taking it every single morning during the season helps keep his allergies under control.

These are just a few tips to help ease those who suffer from allergies.  For more tips and information, check out or

As a member of the Children’s Claritin Mom Crew, I receive product samples and promotional items to share and use as I see fit. No monetary compensation has taken place and any opinions expressed by me are honest and reflect my actual experience.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Book Review: A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams


By: Beatriz Williams

Published: May 30, 2013


A HUNDRED SUMMERS tells the story of two friends, Budgie and Lily.  They have grown up spending their summers together on Seaview, a oceanfront community in Rhode Island.  The book begins in 1931 while the two are in college and meet two dashing football players, Nick and Graham.  What happens between the four of them that year and the years ahead is what is the premise of the story.  There are secrets, betrayals, and long-held beliefs that will change Lily and Budgie's friendship forever.

The book begins with Budgie and Lily attending a football game.  Budgie is there to see Graham Pendleton and is hoping to introduce sweet, quiet Lily to the quarterback, Nick Greenwald, who just happens to be Jewish. Lily is smitten and their weekend together has them both head over heels in love.  Then we suddenly jump to 1938, with Lily, her 6 year old sister, Kiki, their mother, and Aunt Julie settling into their beach house for the summer.  At a gathering, Lily finds out that Budgie and her husband, Nick Greenwald are coming for the summer to restore her family beach home. So, at this point, the reader is obviously shocked because you are wondering how did Nick and Budgie end up marrying each other when Nick and Lily were so in love.  You also find out that Lily and Budgie haven't spoken in the last 7 years.  As Budgie works her way back into Lily's life, she also brings back an old friend, Graham Pendleton, to stir up their summer.

As each chapter tells the story, you flip back and forth between 1931 and 1938.  The author is wise in her telling, revealing just enough from each timeline to keep you guessing and turning the pages.  You will have suspicions, predictions, and absolute angry moments as the story is revealed to you.  Lily is well loved by all and you find out she has been alone all these years with a deep pain in her heart, blaming herself for the past. As you read, the truth of the past is revealed to you right along with Lily and you feel her anger, shock, pain and heartache.

As if there wasn't enough drama in the book, the final chapters end with a hurricane that slams into Seaview, similar to the New England hurricane that hit in 1938.  The author took great care in the details of these events and shared similar (yet fictional) accounts of the true details of the hurricane and it's devastating aftermath.

This is a book easily read in a weekend.  The chapters flow quickly and once the story begins you won't want to put it down.  Even though this is a perfect "beach read" since the setting is in an ocean community, it would also be the perfect read to warm you up as the winter storms are raging outside.  I bought this book as a birthday gift for my cousin and also purchased it for myself so we could read it together.  This would make for a great gift book for birthdays or holidays for someone you know who loves to read.

A HUNDRED SUMMERS would also make for a great book club selection as there are many topics to discuss.  Budgie's actions in the book will cause many frustrating moments as you read and will give you plenty to talk about.  The time frame, location, and decisions made by each of the characters could be questioned and talked over for hours.  Don't let the idea of this book being a "beach read" fool you.  This book is full of rich detail, characters full of personality, and consuming drama and suspense.

Lily is a character you will want to root for and even though not everything works out as it should, you hope everything works out for Lily in the end.  You will just have to read it to find out!


Beatriz Williams is the author of OVERSEAS and A HUNDRED SUMMERS. She is a graduate of Stanford University and Columbia and worked in the corporate world before becoming an author. She now lives near the Connecticut shore with her husband and four children.  Her time is divided between writing and laundry. For more on Beatriz Williams check out her website, HERE. You can also "Like" her on Facebook, HERE or follow her on Twitter, HERE.

I purchased this book on my own and read for my own enjoyment.  This review is my honest opinion.  I wasn't compensated in any way for this review.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Book Review: Capturing Every Day Life By Jane Goodrich

The No-Nonsense, Cheese-Free, Read-While-They-Nap, Easy-as-Pie Guide to Taking Top-Notch, World-Class Photos of Your Kids

By: Jane Goodrich

Published:  July 1, 2013


Jane Goodrich is one of the top New York based newborn and child photographers.  In her book she shares very simple and clear tips for getting the best out of your photographs, whether you are taking pictures of your kids or your pets or the gorgeous view on your vacation.  She takes you through step by step, explaining terms to dummies like me including ISO, shutter speed and aperture.  Even if you have a basic "point and shoot" type of camera, this book can still be extremely helpful to you.  

Beyond working your camera and playing with the settings, she also teaches you, the photographer, how to "set up" your photos like making the best use of your lighting, the rule of thirds, and using contrast in your backgrounds.

After reading through all the tips, I want to pull my kids out of school for the day and take some fun photos. There are definitely ideas and tools that I know I can put to use.  You just might start seeing some awesome photos on here soon!

Jane Goodrich has spent her life behind a lens. She staged her first shoot at age 4 and spent much of her childhood as a not-so-patient subject for her sister’s photography business. A twin herself, Jane loves shooting multiples and siblings. With every shot, she aims to let the individuality of each child shine through and capture something distinct and unknowable about their relationship. Jane’s natural connection with babies and children combined with her genuine aesthetic intuition translates into award-winning photos that are spontaneous, insightful, timeless and charming. Jane is based in New York and shoots regularly in Chicago, Denver and London, England.

For more on Jane Goodrich, visit her website, HERE. By visiting Jane's Blog, HERE, you can find tips for taking fun, creative fall photos! You can also like Jane's Facebook page, HERE and see beautiful photographs and instant tips for photographing your family.

Thanks to the author for sending me a copy of her book for review.  This review is my honest opinion.  I was not compensated in any other way for this review, although if she wanted to come to my house and take photos of our family, I wouldn't turn her away! ;-)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Surprise! Two Winners This Morning!

I had so many people register to win the Brennan Sisters Series of books, that I decided to draw a second winner that will receive a copy of THE GOOD WIFE, the final book in the series.  Thanks to all of you who entered and to Penguin for offering this giveaway.

Winner #1 of All Three Books in the Brennan Sisters Series by Jane Porter

#28 Teresa

Winner #2 of THE GOOD WIFE by Jane Porter

#7 Lori

I will be emailing the winners. If I don't hear from them in 48 hours, I will choose a new winner.

A Little Monday Inspiration


There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.
Beverly Sills, American Operatic Soprano

As I begin Day 1 of my 5 Week Living and Active Challenge,(See Post HERE) this quote reminded me of my focus for this next 5 weeks.  This is exactly what I needed to hear.  No Short Cuts.  Do the work. Make the effort. See results.  I won't see changes in my body or even my weight, right away.  I can't take short cuts or the easy way out and still expect those results.  But, I am worth it and I need to stick with it for the long haul!


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Children's Book Review: If You Were Me and Lived In...France By Carole P Roman

A Child's Introduction to Cultures Around the World

By: Carole P. Roman

Published:  May 2, 2013


Carole Roman has created a series introducing young children to cultures and people across the world.  Including the book above, she has also written books about Mexico, South Korea and most recently, Norway.

The book is written in such a fun and informative way, that even the adult can learn along with the child.  In France, Roman takes us to Paris and introduces us to places and people that we might see.  Rather than using the words we are used to, she introduces us to a Boulangerie (boo-Lawn-jair-EE) or a bakery.  By teaching us the correct French words and pronunciation we can really understand the culture.  You can teach your child the word and pronounce it effect learning a new language!

The illustrations in the book are vivid and fun for the child to see the places described on the pages.  Much like the cover, the children and places are drawn with realistic cartoon images and everyone is wearing a big smile!

I could see these books used in our elementary school as well as those who home-school. They are short enough to hold the child's interest and encourage use of the language as well.  I look forward to seeing more of Roman's series...introducing kids to places all over the world.

Carole P. Roman is a former teacher turned businesswoman and now award winning author. But her favorite title is Grandma.  She lives in Long Island with her husband.  Her first book, CAPTAIN NO BEARD - AN IMAGINARY TALE OF A PIRATES LIFE has also turned into a series.  Other books in the country series in the works include Kenya and Turkey.

Click to see all the Books By Carole P Roman

Today I am linking up with other bloggers to share Children's Book Reviews with you on Booking Mama. Check out other great children's books on her site with her link KID KONNECTION.

Thanks to the author for sending me a copy of this book.  This review is my honest opinion.  I was not compensated in any way for this review.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

I'm Joining the Living and Active Challenge

Through our 90-100 degree heat the last couple weeks, I've been such a slacker on getting exercise.  So, when I saw Clare from was going to run another 5 week challenge, I knew it was just the motivation I needed.

I completed this challenge in September/October last year.  Even though I completed it, I really didn't push myself as hard as I could have.  I basically just did the minimum effort needed to say I was accountable.  I traveled a lot in October last year (I turned 40) and life was kind of hectic.  Not to say that our life isn't hectic now....4 different sports that our kids are involved in right now, my own volunteer obligations, book review deadlines, and general housework and meal fixing...all those typical mom jobs.  But, I have looked ahead and know when I can fit these workout times in.  Some days I know I won't be able to get one in, but the challenge requires 4 days/week and I KNOW I can manage that.  I just have to make it a priority.

I think what always gets me so frustrated in these challenges is that I am not seeing a difference.  What I need to realize is that it is more about forming a habit, making my health a priority, and gradually seeing and feeling different.

My motto for these next 5 weeks is going to be...

and Positivity.  

What I also appreciate about this particular challenge is that it isn't just about the fitness aspect, but also the spiritual aspect of your health. Each week there will be a verse to memorize and a short devotional based on that verse.  It really helps you focus and get in the right mind-set not just related to your fitness, but your whole mind and health.

I plan to continue running on the treadmill experimenting with sprints and inclines, riding my new bike(I need to tell you about that yet), using my Jillian Michaels DVDs, and even using Clare's workouts that she posts on her site.  By changing it up a bit, I hope to not get so bored.  Plus I have plenty of shows/movies I want to watch while on the treadmill.

So, you are welcome to join in with me in this 5 week challenge.  To join in on Clare's page, please click HERE.  Let me know in the comments so I can cheer you on!  

Can you commit to 25 minutes, 4 days/week for 5 weeks?  

I know I can do it!  I won't regret it!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Book Review: The Good Wife By Jane Porter

Brennan Sisters #3

By: Jane Porter

Published:  September 3, 2013

Fiction - Series

The final book in the Brennan Sisters series features Sarah, the youngest and prettiest of the family.  Sarah tries to be the "good wife" to Boone, a MLB player who travels, is gone too often, and also cheated on her three years ago.  Something she hasn't forgotten or forgiven. Sarah tries to focus on their two children and their marriage, but she can't forget what Boone did and is always questioning and second-guessing where he is and what he is doing.  Sarah loves Boone, but can that love overcome her pride and anger at Boone's betrayal?

I was really excited to finish up the series with this book.  I really enjoyed the first two in the series.  See my review of THE GOOD WOMAN and THE GOOD DAUGHTER by clicking each title.  Even though, THE GOOD DAUGHTER was my favorite of the three, this story had me emotionally involved as well.  I think any woman can identify with Sarah's raw emotions through this novel....her need to keep her husband close, to believe him, to want to trust him even when she can't find a way to.  You will be able to see and understand Sarah's point of view while also understanding that she is wrong to assume the worst about Boone and seeing his side too.

When the story begins, we pick up where THE GOOD DAUGHTER leaves off.  Sarah's mother has just passed and her illness and following funeral have been tough on the whole family.  Just as you think the story is going to move on, Porter shakes you with another unexpected tragedy.  You are expecting the story to be only about Sarah, but it isn't.  This novel really encompasses the whole family and all of their personal struggles.  Some are tidied up and you are left knowing there will be a happy ending and others are left hanging in the balance.

Porter also introduces another character - apart from the Brennan family - early on in the story.  It was confusing as to what her role would be and why her story was being told in between stories of the Brennan family.  Eventually, you see the connection, but it was a side story that wasn't as interesting to me.  I had really come to care about the Brennan family, a big, bold Irish Catholic American family.  Their family was all I was really interested in.

Sarah struggled with her identity and her pride and let that overshadow what really mattered.  Sarah didn't seek out the support from her family like she should have and instead turned to alcohol and anger that only festered her obsessive attitude toward Boone.  I think a lot of women could identify with Sarah and will be able to appreciate her story.  I was pleased with how Sarah and Boone's story ended in the novel and the hope it could give other struggling couples.

My favorite line from the book was such a life lesson, that I wrote it down so I wouldn't forget:

I've learned that not everything is life and death because there is real life and death. Page 134

Porter accurately displays the anguish and heartache felt by each family member in this and the other two books in the series.  You will want to read all three and even though you will shed tears, get angry, feel frustrated, and exclaim shock and disappointment, you will want to ride on this emotional roller-coaster with this family.

NOTE:  You can win your very own copies of the Brennan Sisters series.  Win all THREE books in my giveaway.  You can enter through September 15 by clicking HERE and entering your information in the form. 

Jane Porter is an award-winning novelist with over 5 million books in print.  She grew up in central California, graduated from UCLA and holds an MA in writing from the University of San Francisco.  Porter writes full time and lives in southern California with her family.  Visit her website at

I was provided a copy of this novel by Penguin Group in order to give this review.  This review is my honest opinion.  I was not compensated in any other way for this review.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Book Review: Jesus, Mo, and Cheese Puffs By Lisa Boucher

Join Lisa Boucher, author of the cozy fiction novel, Jesus, Mo, and Cheese Puffs, as she tours the blogosphere  August 5 - October 25, 2013 on her first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book!

Jesus Mo and Cheese PuffsJESUS, MO, AND CHEESE PUFFS

By: Lisa Boucher

Published: February 18, 2013


Flo has been playing the lottery once a week for the past 25 years. Finally one day her prayers are answered and she wins $40,000. Due to an accident many years before, she has a bad eye and wears an eye patch.  Her husband, Mo, convinces her to use to money to fix her eye.  They make an appointment with a "TV Doctor" and head west to California.  Along the way, their travels put them in the path of others and makes for an adventure Flo and Mo will never forget.  

This isn't one of those great literary fiction novels, but instead, a "feel good" story.  One that can't help to make you see the people you interact with differently.  Flo and Mo have a wonderfully endearing relationship with each other.  They are of retirement age, and finally have extra money to do something special with it.  They aren't strangers to hard times after losing their down-syndrome son, Jimmy, much too early. Mo, still struggles with his acceptance of Jimmy's death and isn't quite so forgiving of Flo's God, whom she prays to on a regular basis.

Flo is self-conscious about her bad eye and patch and has ended up not engaging in some of the things she loves because she is so self-conscious about it.  When Mo suggests getting her eye fixed, she is very nervous about it, but agrees to it for Mo. Her favorite snack is cheese puffs and packs plenty to keep her nerves at bay for the trip.

Along the way, Flo and Mo meet many strangers who all show them a lesson or two on life.  Flo and Mo are easily waylaid on their trip due to their need to help others.  But, their interactions will prove to be something quite amazing.

I don't want to give any more away from this short, delightful story.  You will have to read it to find out if Flo gets her eye fixed and who Flo and Mo meet on their travels.  This story is perfect if you are looking for a light, quick read that will fill your heart with joy.



Lisa Boucher has Sicilian roots and thinks about cooking and food about as often as she thinks about writing more books! In her spare time she travels, holds a BA in English, works part-time as a nurse, and makes pesto and homemade granola, naming her local cottage product line (Simple Grace). Lisa is married, and has twin sons that play college football.

Next book in the pipeline: "Black Butterflies White Fences," an interracial love story was published on July 29, 2013.


Jesus, Mo, and Cheese Puffs Virtual Book Publicity Tour Schedule

Tuesday, August 6 - Book reviewed at Season of Opportunities
Tuesday, August 6 - Guest blogging and 1st chapter reveal at My Devotional Thoughts
Thursday, August 8 - Interviewed at Broowaha
Friday, August 9 - Guest blogging at From the TBR Pile
Tuesday, August 13 - Interviewed at Pump Up Your Book
Wednesday, August 14 - 1st chapter reveal at Examiner
Thursday, August 15 - Guest blogging at Inside BJ's Head
Monday, August 19 - Book featured at Between the Covers
Tuesday, August 20 - Guest blogging at She Writes
Wednesday, August 21 - Interviewed at My Devotional Thoughts
Thursday, August 22 - 1st chapter reveal at Margay Leah Justice
Monday, August 26 - Guest blogging at The Writer's Life
Wednesday, August 28 - Interviewed at Review From Here
Thursday, August 29 - Guest blogging at Literarily Speaking
Friday, August 30 - Guest blogging at Straight From the Author's Mouth
Monday, September 2 - Book featured at Reading Rendezvous Reviewz
Tuesday, September 3 - Interviewed at Reading Rendezvous Reviewz
Wednesday, September 4 - Guest blogging at Reading Rendezvous Reviewz
Thursday, September 5 - 1st chapter review at Reading Rendezvous Reviewz
Friday, September 6 - Guest blogging at Read 2 Review
Tuesday, September 10 - Book reviewed at Sincerely Stacie
Thursday, September 12 - Book reviewed at My Devotional Thoughts
Monday, September 16 - Interviewed at Literal Exposure
Wednesday, September 18 - 1st chapter reveal at Literary Winner
Thursday, September 19 - 1st chapter reveal at Authors and Readers Book Corner
Tuesday, September 24 - Book reviewed and guest blogging at B & M Review Gazette
Thursday, September 26 - Book reviewed at Sidewalk Shoes
Pump Up Your Book

I was sent a copy of this book for review. This review is my honest opinion. I was not compensated in any other way for this review.

Monday, September 9, 2013

A Little Monday Inspiration


Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.
Dwight D Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States

Sometimes this is exactly how I feel.  I LIVE off of our schedule.  Everything is on the calendar, I operate from a To Do list each and every day, but some days, I don't even get to the list.  The phone may ring at 7AM asking me to sub at the school and all my plans are out the window. And most of the time....that is ok. As a planner, I have learned to let things go and not be so rigid in my plans for the day....and frankly, for my life.

It is good to have a general plan for the day, but if your husband wants to take you out to lunch or you get sucked in to a showing of your favorite movie on is ok to veer off the plan and have a little fun!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Book Review: The Wishing Hill By Holly Robinson


By: Holly Robinson

Published:  July 2, 2013


Juliet has been dumped by her husband, is pregnant, and now has to return to her home in New England to care for her mother whom she ran away from years ago.  What Juliet doesn't realize is that going home will reveal secrets that will forever change how she views her family and her future.

The setting begins with Juliet, a successful artist living in Mexico.  Her husband, Michael, has left her and she has recently found out she was pregnant.  As she struggles with how to handle the chaos in her life, her brother, a successful and busy lawyer, asks her to return to the states to care for their mother after a fall breaks her hip.  Not surprisingly, Juliet agrees to care for her mother and this is where the story gets interesting.

Juliet's mother, Desiree is an actress and is completely selfish and truly someone you will love to hate while reading the book.  She is negative, self-absorbed, and pouts if her daughter and friends don't cater to her. Desiree is definitely a drama queen in more ways than one. She makes everyone around her feel inadequate. You really feel quite sad for Juliet for having to deal with her mother.  While Juliet is home, we are also introduced to Claire, Desiree's neighbor.  Desiree and Claire do not get along and Juliet can't understand why since Claire has been nothing but kind to her.  As you can imagine, this is where the secrets come in.

Juliet is also quite smitten with the handyman she hired to remodel her mother's home to make it more accessible once she returns.  Once Ian finds out she is pregnant, Juliet is afraid he won't give her a second look.  Ian's character though is quite surprising and I felt like he was a stable outsider for Juliet in giving her the advice and support she needed at just the right times.

This story had several twists and turns and seemed to take its time in getting to the resolution of Juliet's problems.  Even though each step of the way was fairly predictable , I still cared enough about the characters to keep reading.

The author has a great talent for describing settings, places, and things so that you could imagine yourself in the room.  For example:

She could remember the nubby fabric of the couch and how her fingers fit through the webbed circles of the crocheted afghan, the smell of her mother's rose perfume, and the touch of Desiree's fingers in her own hair, gentle and unhurried. Page 112

As the author described Juliet's paintings, you could envision the vibrant colors and scenes she was creating and wished you could hang them in your own home. Thankfully, Juliet's art allowed her a diversion and brought a sense of peace in her life.  You may not be completely satisfied once you finish the novel as the author doesn't tie up all the loose ends.  You are left to wonder about the relationships and decisions made and imagining how you hope they will turn out.

This would make for a great book club choice as the characters and their decisions will give you lots to talk about.  The relationships in this book, though dysfunctional, will mirror some of the most "normal" of families. Even though this novel is full of regrets and missed opportunities, you will realize that behind all the secrets, there was a great love for each other.

Holly Robinson is an award-winning journalist whose work appears regularly in national venues such as Huffington Post and Ladies Home Journal.  She lives in Boston with her family. For more on Holly Robinson, visit her website HERE. You can also follow Holly on Twitter HERE or "Like" her on Facebook HERE.

I was provided with a copy of this book in exchange for my review.  This review is my honest opinion.  I was not compensated in any other way for this review. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Jane Porter's Brennan Sisters Series Spotlight and 3 Book Giveaway

Jane Porter is known for her emotional, heartfelt stories about women struggling with issues of friendship, marriage, family, and self-acceptance, and her Brennan Sisters Trilogy is no exception.  I have read the first two books in the series and reviewed them HERE and HERE.  Next week, THE GOOD WIFE review will be posted.  If you haven't heard about this series, you need to continue reading and be sure to enter the GIVEAWAY below!


With The Good Woman (Berkley, September 2012), she introduced a family grappling with the real, complicated and sometimes painful issues that arise in life.  In The Good Daughter (Berkley, February 2013), she explored the life of school teacher Kit Brennan, the second oldest of the five Brennan kids.  Now, in THE GOOD WIFE (Berkley, September 2013), she delves into the complicated marriage of Sarah, the youngest Brennan sister, long considered the beauty of the family.

Praise for the Brennan Sisters Trilogy by Jane Porter
“Porter excels at creating richly layered, realistically complex characters, and [The Good Woman]
deftly explores the glue that can hold a marriage together and the strong ties that connect
mothers, daughters, sisters and friends.”
The Chicago Tribune

“[The Good Daughter] delivers a strong story and a compelling emotional punch that surpasses the first… Porter pulls the reader into the very heart of this close-knit family, examining intense feelings and life-altering decisions without backing away.”
RT Book Reviews

“[The Good Wife is] believable, insightful and marked by witty dialogue.  A novel that may inspire readers to examine their own family relationships.”

(Berkley Trade Paperback Original; 978-0-425-25300-7; September 4, 2012; $15)

Meg Roberts is the eldest of the Brennan sisters and she is used to being in control and presenting an image of perfection to those around her.  But Meg’s life isn’t perfect and lately it’s been feeling out of control as well.  As she approaches 43 and reflects on her 17 years of marriage, Meg realizes she wants more out of life.  More love, more passion, more something.  She embarks on an affair that shatters her world and her family relationships.  Meg is forced to come to terms with the person she was, and who she has become, as well as learning that happiness isn’t something she has to chase, but rather a choice she must make for herself.

(Berkley Trade Paperback Original; 978-0-425-25342-7; February 5, 2013; $15)

Kit Brennan has played it safe her entire life, but as a single thirty-eight year old English teacher at a Catholic high school in Oakland, her life hasn’t turned out as she planned.  Her ten-year relationship ended six months ago and Kit has now come to the realization that she may be better off pursuing her dreams without a man involved.  But when the mysterious, dangerous Jude Knight enters the picture, Kit begins to question who she’s become and who she should be.  Does she dare to follow her desires?  With one of her teenage students in crisis and her family’s burdens weighing heavily on her mind and heart, is Kit ready to risk everything by taking a chance at the unknown?

(Berkley Trade Paperback Original; 978-0-425-25367-0; September 3, 2013; $15)
Sarah’s love for her husband, professional baseball player Boone Walker, is bottomless—so much so that her sisters say it will end up hurting her.  While Sarah stays home and cares for their two children, Boone travels almost year-round.  Living apart most of the time makes life difficult, especially since Sarah often wonders whether Boone is sharing his bed with other women on the road, even though he swears he’s been true to her since his infidelity three years ago.  Now, with Boone facing yet another career change, tension rises between the two, and the emotionally exhausted Sarah must choose whether to break free from the past and forgive Boone completely, or leave him behind and start anew. 

About the Author:

Jane Porter is an award-winning novelist with over 5 million books in print.  Her popular novel Flirting with Forty was made into a Lifetime movie starring Heather Locklear.  She grew up in central California, graduated from UCLA and holds an MA in writing from the University of San Francisco.  Porter writes full time and lives in southern California with her family.  Visit her website at

Now for the BIG GIVEAWAY!  I have one complete set of the Brennan Sisters series available for one of my readers.  This giveaway is open to those who live in the United States.  This giveaway will run through 11:59 PM on Sunday, September 15.  I will choose a winner on Monday, September 16 and contact the winner via email.  The winner will have 48 hours to respond or I will choose another winner. Please only enter the giveaway once.

This giveaway is offered thanks to Penguin Group.