Monday, March 31, 2014

A Little Monday Inspiration - Spring Is Coming....I Promise.



Are you wondering if Spring will ever arrive?

Need a reminder that Spring is on its way?

This video will remind you of the beauty of spring and the joy that flowers can bring.




She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
"Winter is dead".
A. A. Milne

source

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Book Spotlight: Pack Up the Moon By Rachael Herron

PACK UP THE MOON

By: Rachael Herron

Published: March 4, 2014

Fiction

Sadly, I can't get to every single book I want to read.  But, there are some books that sound so intriguing that I want to tell you about them.  PACK UP THE MOON breaks my heart just reading the synopsis.  I will read it, but didn't want you to have to wait to hear about it.  

A poignant novel about loss, lies, and the unbreakable bonds of family.

Three years after a horrible tragedy took her son and tore her family apart, artist Kate Monroe is beginning to pick up the pieces of her life and move on. At a gala showcasing her triumphant return to the art world, Kate’s world is rocked again when the daughter she gave up for adoption twenty-two years ago introduces herself.

Pree is the child Kate never knew and never forgot. But Pree has questions that Kate isn’t sure she’s ready to answer. For one thing, she never told Pree’s father, her high school sweetheart and ex-husband, Nolan, that they had a daughter. For another, Kate hasn’t spoken to Nolan for three years, not since the accident which took their nine-year-old son from them. But to keep Pree from leaving forever, Kate will have to confront the secrets that have haunted her since her son died and discover if the love of her family is strong enough to survive even the most heartbreaking of betrayals.


Rachael Herron - source
Rachael Herron is the internationally bestselling author of the Cypress Hollow series (HarperCollins/Random House Australia) and of the memoir, A Life in Stitches (Chronicle). Rachael received her MFA in writing from Mills College and is a 911 fire/medical dispatcher when she's not scribbling. She lives with her wife, Lala, in Oakland, California, where they have more animals and instruments than are probably advisable. Rachael is struggling to learn the accordion and can probably play along with you on the ukulele. She's a New Zealander as well as an American. She's been known to knit. For more on Rachael Herron, visit her website, http://www.yarnagogo.com/.  You can also follow her on Facebook, HERE and Twitter, HERE.

To purchase a copy of PACK UP THE MOON, click the photo below.




Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Book Spotlight: How to Write A Memoir in 30 Days By Roberta Temes

HOW TO WRITE A MEMOIR IN 30 DAYS 
Step-by-Step Instructions for Creating and Publishing Your Personal Story

By: Roberta Temes, PhD

Published:  March 18, 2014

Non-Fiction

I can't possibly read every single book I want to read.  But, there are some great books out there that I want to be sure you know about.  So, until I get them all read, I will share about them in a Book Spotlight.

Have you ever wanted to share stories from your life? Do you keep a daily journal? Have you had an incident that completely changed your life? Do you have a knack for remembering details of your life? Did you learn a valuable life lesson that you want to share with others?  Then you might just be interested in writing your memoir.

Has anyone ever told you, "You should write a book"?  Everyone has a story to tell.  This might be your chance to write your story.  HOW TO WRITE A MEMOIR IN 30 DAYS will show you where to begin and give you the perfect framework for getting it out of your mind and onto paper.

The author gives you step-by-step instructions through a series of writing assignments including:

  • crafting your three-sentence memoir
  • identifying an incident that changed your life
  • creating stirring scenes
By working through these steps, you will identify the major themes from your life.  You will be able to combine your notes, journal entries, blog posts, and other writings into a dialogue with a plot.  The book will assist you with lessons on spelling and grammar. You will also learn about the various publishing avenues to get your book published and noticed.

If you follow the simple directions and daily exercises that Temes suggests, in a month, you will have a memoir ready to submit for publishing.

Dr. Roberta Temes - source 

Roberta Temes, Ph.D. is an accomplished author, editor and writing instructor, as well as a seasoned psychotherapist and psychology faculty member.  She lectures around the country at corporate meetings, medical conferences and health spas.  Dr. Temes has also written LIVING WITH AN EMPTY CHAIR and THE COMPLETE IDIOTS GUIDE TO HYPNOSIS.  Temes lives in New Jersey and Florida with her husband.  Temes loves being a mother and grandmother.  For more information, visit her website at http://drroberta.com/.

To purchase HOW TO WRITE A MEMOIR IN 30 DAYS, click the photo below.



Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Book Review: Raising John By Jennifer Lesher


RAISING JOHN

By: Jennifer Lesher

Published: January 17, 2014 

Fiction





This review is part of a blog tour with Virtual Author Book Tours.  To read more reviews or to enter giveaways of RAISING JOHN, check out the following blogs. 

Raising John Web Tour Schedule

So Many Precious Books Mar 14 Review & Giveaway                                       
Crystal's Many Reviewers Mar 17 Review                                               
Teena in Toronto Mar 18 Review                                                
Bookalicious Traveladdict Mar 19 Guest Post & Giveaway
Manic Mama of 2 Mar 21 Review                                                             
SincerelyStacie Mar 25 Review                          
Deal Sharing Aunt Mar 26 Review                                                            
Deal Sharing Aunt Mar 28 Guest Post  & Giveaway
Every Free Chance Mar 26 Guest Post & Giveaway
Sweeps 4 Bloggers Apr 7 Review & Giveaway
Heck Of A Bunch Apr 9 Review & Giveaway

Carole Rae's Random Ramblings Apr 14 Review & Giveaway

Luxury Reading Apr 18 Review


RAISING JOHN is a story of love, devotion, heartbreak, betrayal, forgiveness, and redemption.  We first meet John as a four-year old boy trying to understand why he doesn't have a mommy and just a Grammy. Then we are introduced to Robert who wakes up in a drunk tank with no memory of what he just did and why he needs to post $100,000 bail.  He will soon find out he was the drunk driver who killed a young mother, named Mary.

The story begins with Mary as a young child being raised by her parents in what appears to be a loving home and quickly turns into a nightmare for both Mary and her mother, Barbara.  The abuse and control over their lives grows as we travel through Mary's childhood.  As a teenager, Mary becomes more resentful of her father's abuse and her mother's inability to stop it.  Mary moves away to college and we find that she has put herself in the same position as her mother.  As the reader, I cringed when I knew Mary was making the wrong choices and could see the red flags that this was not going to be what she wanted.  

As we learn Mary's story, we also flip back and forth to Robert's story as he travels through life as a prison inmate.  Robert tries to fit in and just wants to do his time and get out of there.  But, once he begins to attend AA, he learns the only way to heal may be by admitting to his victim's family that he was wrong.

We also watch John grow up in the story, being raised by his Grandma.  All along he knows that his mom died in a car accident.  But, when by chance, he finds out the real truth behind his mom's accident, his life and Robert's will forever be changed.  Their connection will surprise you.  

I found this to be a quick read and without the foul language, I think it would appeal to young readers as much as the adult reader.  In fact, it reads more like a YA novel.  Since the novel jumps around in time a lot, I appreciated that the chapters began with a heading of time and place so you knew who you were going to be reading about for awhile. 

The years of abuse that Barbara and Mary went through were horrific. The fact that Barbara was then able to raise John as Mary would have, showed a deep devotion to her grandson and a fervor to right the wrongs from Mary's childhood.  Although Mary didn't get a second chance, Barbara tried to give John the best life possible.

Even though I was a bit frustrated with the ending, it reminded me that life isn't always neat and tidy.  We don't always get those happy endings and maybe, this ending for Barbara, John and Robert will be enough.

Jennifer Lesher - source
Jennifer Lesher is an author, blogger, mountain biker, travel junkie and armchair philosopher.
Recently Jennifer effected a career change, leaving her job in the high-tech industry to pursue certification as an airplane mechanic.
In her past life, Jennifer graduated from the University of Chicago and the School of Hard Knocks, Her career has ranged from warehouse production supervisor to fishing industry laborer, to technical manager for a large, purportedly monopolistic software company.
For more on Jennifer, visit http://jenniferlesherauthor.com/.  You can also find Jennifer on Twitter, HERE and Facebook, HERE.

To purchase RAISING JOHN, click on the photo below.  



This review is part of a blog tour.  Thanks to Virtual Author Book Tours for sending a copy of this book.  This review is my honest opinion.  I was not compensated in any way for this review.  If you chose to purchase through the above link, I may receive a small compensation without you spending a cent more for the book.  Thanks for supporting SincerelyStacie.com reviews. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Book Review: The Sister Season By Jennifer Scott

THE SISTER SEASON

By: Jennifer Scott

Published:  November 5, 2013

Fiction






In the first pages of THE SISTER SEASON, we are confronted with scandal, drama and secrets.  Your jaw will drop and you will want to keep reading to find out more about the Yancey family.  Elise, the mother, has spent the last forty-seven years in an abusive marriage.  Her three daughters are forced to come home for Christmas to attend their father's funeral.  In THE SISTER SEASON, we spend six days with Elise, her three daughters, and their families.  But, in those six days, we experience a lifetime of secrets, betrayal, and love through their memories.

Julia is the oldest of the Yancey sisters.  She is a college professor who is more of a parent to her students than to her teenage, suicidal son, Eli.  Her second husband is too busy working on his research project to notice Eli's warning signs and his real father, Dusty may fight Julia for custody to make sure he is taken care of.

Maya, the middle daughter, is married to Bradley, the constantly cheating husband.  They have two children, Will and Molly.  When the four of them arrive at the Yancey farm, their secrets and the past history with Maya's sister Claire may be too much for all of them to handle.

Claire, is the youngest of the sisters.  She left home at the age of eighteen, moved to California and never looked back.  She hasn't spoken to her sister, Maya at all and hasn't been home since she left.  Claire is worried the incident that made her leave and her long-time battle with Claire will make this Christmas the worst one yet.

On top of all the sisterly drama, there is still a Christmas to celebrate and a funeral to attend.  Elise wants to make this Christmas one she has never been able to create for her family.  Going over the top with decorations and making all her favorite foods, she is hoping she can create a sense of home and family. What she doesn't realize is that what they all need is forgiveness and love.

As one of three sisters, I am always drawn to stories around sisters.  The pages of this novel were full of raw, honest emotions.  The vivid descriptions of the Missouri farm, the memories of the brutal abuse, and the emotions the sisters were reliving were riveting and powerful.  Two of my favorite quotes from the book showcase the level of emotions in the story:

"...the knowledge that you weren't safe from love even in an abusive relationship
 was almost the bleakest thing Maya could imagine."   Page 150

"...it's like there are two cancers eating me, you know? 
One on the inside and one on the outside and it's a race to see which one swallows me first." Page 160

So often stories of abuse focus on the wife or girlfriend of the abuser.  In this story, we learn not only the effect on the wife, but on their three daughters and how the years of abuse have affected them as adults in their careers, their marriages, and in their parenting.  The ripple effects of the father's abuse were dynamic, but there is hope for healing and love in their future.

My book club felt equally positive about the book and we had a full discussion about the characters and their personal dilemmas.  There are discussion questions at the end of the novel, but you won't likely need them as there is plenty of story lines and drama to discuss.  You will be sure to talk about your shock at Elise's secret, your hatred of Bradley and his behavior, and your sadness over Eli's suicide attempts.  Even though the novel ends with an epilogue of the family a year later, you will still want to discuss and wonder how the sisters and their family turned out. 


Jennifer Scott has been reading, writing, and loving books for pretty much as long as she can remember. In 2000, Jennifer decided to try to become a published author, and began writing women's fiction novels. But the road to writing success is never quick, easy, or predictable, and Jennifer's official writing career began in 2009 with her debut young adult novel, HATE LIST, written under the name Jennifer Brown. Jennifer now has four published young adult novels under the Jennifer Brown name. She never gave up on the women's fiction genre, however, and is thrilled to introduce THE SISTER SEASON as her debut women's fiction.

Jennifer has a bachelor of arts degree in psychology from William Jewell College, and lives in the Kansas City, Missouri area.  For more on Jennifer, visit her website, http://www.jenniferscottauthor.com/.  You can also find Jennifer on Facebook, HERE and Twitter, HERE

To purchase a copy of THE SISTER SEASON, click the photo below. 




Thanks to Penguin Group for sending me a copy of this novel for review.  This review is my honest opinion.  I was not compensated in any other way for this review.  If you choose to purchase the book through the above link, I may receive a small compensation without you paying a cent more for your purchase.  Thanks for supporting SincerelyStacie.com reviews. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Children's Book Review: My Brother Is My Best Friend By Nicole Weaver

MY BROTHER IS MY BEST FRIEND

By: Nicole Weaver

Illustrated By: Clara Batton Smith

Published: January 15, 2014

Blake and Drake are twin brothers who do everything together.  They play in the snow and build forts in the winter.  In the summer, like most boys, they climb trees and chase after birds and butterflies.  They are typical boys and are best friends.  In MY BROTHER IS MY BEST FRIEND you are reminded that no matter what, you will always have your brother by your side.

What is really special about this book is that it is written in three languages.  Each sentence is written in English, French and Spanish.  Each of the languages are written in a different color. Even though the pages are busy with words, you can follow along by just reading the black letters for English.  The book ends with a glossary of terms for the French and Spanish languages.  There is also a word find and sentence match game at the end of the book.

Smith's illustration highlight two boys who truly enjoy being with each other and playing outside.  The animals have character and the boys excitement shows through in their faces.

If you are looking to encourage the relationship between your two boys or want to start introducing another language with your children, pick up this book.  There is also the companion book,  MY SISTER IS MY BEST FRIEND for your daughters to enjoy.

You can feel good about purchasing this book since a large portion of the proceeds of Weaver's books go to benefit a Haitian orphanage.  The 2010 earthquake left many children homeless.  Weaver's mom lost 13 cousins to the earthquake and to honor their memory, she has decided to help Mercy and Sharing provide food and shelter to the abandoned children of Haiti.

Nicole Weaver - Source

Nicole Weaver was born in Port-au-Prince Haiti. She came to the United States when she was ten years old. She is fluent in Creole, French, Spanish, and English. She is a veteran teacher of French and Spanish. Her deep connection with family resulted in her writing and publishing,MY BROTHER IS MY BEST FRIEND, by Guardian Angel Publishing, January 2014. Weaver also penned two other children’s trilingual picture books entitled, MY SISTER IS MY BEST FRIEND, and MARIE AND HER FRIEND THE SEA TURTLE.  For more on Weaver, visit her website, http://www.nicoleweaverbooks.com/.  You can also find Weaver on Facebook, HERE, and Twitter, HERE.

To purchase any of Nicole Weaver's books, just click on the photos below.








I will be linking up this review with Booking Mama and other bloggers in the Kid Konnection Linky.  To see other great reviews of children's books, click HERE

Thanks to the author for sending me a copy of this book for review.  This review is my honest opinion.  I was not compensated in any way for this review. If you choose to purchase the book through the above links, I may receive a small compensation without you paying a cent more for your purchase.  Thanks for supporting SincerelyStacie.com reviews. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Full Weekend

This last weekend was full of fun.  The boys had a middle school dance on Friday night and Reagan had her school carnival.  Then Saturday morning, I left early with the boys for their final show choir competition. 



We definitely have some talented musicians in our house and it is so much fun to watch them perform! 



After arriving home it was time to get ready to head north.  Since November, I have been planning my mom's 75th birthday party.  Everything came together just as I imagined and the party was a huge success.  




My mom had a permanent smile on her face all day long.  
All of us attended church with her that morning.
 By all of us,
 I mean, all three of us girls, our children and my sisters' grandchildren were ALL together for the day.  
That doesn't happen very often and I am glad we were able to get some family photos taken together. 

My mom and sister just returned from a trip to Hawaii and my sister ordered those beautiful flowers from a shop in Hawaii for her birthday.  My niece and sister made the cakes.  If you know my mom at all, you know that we also had ice cream at the party.  It truly was the perfect day. 


Each table was decorated with a colorful tablecloth.  Then I had spread photos of my mom on each of the tables.  I had photos of my mom as a child, from my parents wedding, from when I was growing up until the present.  There was over 200 photos spread throughout the tables.  Then I covered the tables with a strip of clear tablecloth to protect the photos. I let the kids sprinkle confetti on all the tables and we topped them with a bouquet of flowers.  I think everyone enjoyed seeing the photos and sharing memories as they visited.


My parents have been married for 57 1/2 years.  Truly a blessing to all of us.



It was such a great weekend and I heard so many people that they were so glad to be able to share their day with my mom who gives so much to them.  She truly is the most giving and loving person I know.  I can't even name all the organizations she is involved with and volunteers her time for.  In fact, leaving the church yesterday, she had to be sure to grab the bags of food she needs to deliver to the food pantry.  She is always thinking of others and I was so honored to make yesterday all about her!
 Love you Mom! 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Children's Book Review: When I Grow Up I Want To Be....A Firefighter

WHEN I GROW UP I WANT TO BE...
A FIREFIGHTER
Will's Amazing Day

Published By: Wigu Publishing

Published: February 22, 2014

This is another book in the WHEN I GROW UP I WANT TO BE.... series.  I have previously reviewed the US Army and Teacher books.  Click HERE to see those reviews.

Again, I can't say enough good things about this educational and fun series of books.  All kids dream of being something when they grow up and this series of books hits on all those great occupations by sharing a story and fitting in educational aspects of that job.  The kids are learning while reading and don't even know it!

In this story, we are introduced to Will who is worried about going on his class field trip to the fire station. Will has always been afraid of fires and of firefighters.  He thinks about ways he can miss going on the field trip, but as the day arrives he decides to go.  When the Fire Captain announces that he is also afraid of fires, Will is suddenly excited to learn more about fire fighting.  The children are given a tour of the station, allowed to pet the firehouse dogs, introduced to a female firefighter in complete fire fighting gear, allowed to climb in a fire truck, and able to handle a hose spraying water.

Through the field trip the reader is informed about fire safety, the different jobs of a fire fighter that include more than just fighting fires, and how to make a safety plan in your own home.  We are also taught there are many different types of fire fighters and equipment including helicopters and airplanes.

Building on Will's real fear and the excitement of his other classmates, this book will appeal to children who are curious and afraid to admit their fears.  By the end of the story, your child will want to visit their own neighborhood fire station!


Wigu Publishing is a collaboration of talented and creative individuals working together to create informative and fun books for our children. Our titles serve to introduce children to the people in their communities who serve others through their vocations. Wigu’s books are unique in that they help our children to visualize the abundant opportunities that exist for them to be successful and to make a difference. Our goal is to inspire the great leaders and thinkers of tomorrow.  For more on Wigu Publishing and their books, click HERE.  Like them on Facebook, HERE. Follow them on Twitter, HERE.  Follow their Pinterest boards, HERE

Wigu Publishing is casting for a new book, WHEN I GROW UP I WANT TO BE....A GOOD PERSON. Would you like your child to appear as an illustrated character in one of their books? 

  • "LIKE" their Facebook page, www.facebook.com/whenigrowupbooksbywigu 
  • Post a photo of your child between the ages of 4 and 10 (even if not still that age)
  • In 3 lines or less, say what it means to your child to be a  "good person"
  • Share your post
  • Ask friends to Vote for your submission
  • Winner selected on April 30, 2014
To purchase WHEN I GROW UP I WANT TO BE A....FIREFIGHTER: Will's Amazing Day, click on the photo below.






I will be linking up with other children's book reviews at Booking Mama's site.  To see other reviews of great children's books, check out Kid Konnection.  

I was sent a copy of the book thanks to Wigu Publishing for the purpose of this review.  This review is my honest opinion. I was not compensated in any way for this review.  If you choose to purchase the book from the above link, I may receive a small compensation without you having to spend a cent more for your purchase.  Thanks for supporting SincerelyStacie.com reviews.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Betty Crocker Watermelon Cupcakes

Have you seen the new Betty Crocker Watermelon Cupcake Mix and Betty Crocker Watermelon Frosting?

source

When I saw this cake mix and frosting at our local Target store, I thought it would be fun to try it. It the middle of this nasty winter, a little bit of summer was just what we needed to cheer us all up!

Right away, I noticed the scent of watermelon was very strong.  It reminded me of Hubba Bubba Watermelon gum that I used to chew as a kid.  

I wasn't sure what the black flecks in the cake mix were and I didn't feel like there was enough of them.  So, I added about a 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips to the batter.    


Surprisingly, these cupcakes were really good.  The watermelon scent is strong, but I didn't feel like the flavor was overpowering.  I took them to Storytime and the kids ate them right up, even asking for seconds. Our three kids liked the cupcakes as well.  Even my husband, who doesn't like watermelon, thought they were pretty good. I liked the texture of the mini chocolate chips in the cake as well.  I would recommend adding them for that extra special touch.

If you are looking for a fun dessert to make with your kids, these Betty Crocker Watermelon Cupcakes would be a great way to celebrate the end of your school year or to remind you that summer is truly coming! Get them now though, they are only available for a limited time.  I know you can find them at Super Target, I am not sure about their availability in other stores.



Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Celebrates 150 Years of Children's Publishing




Watching this video reminded me of books from my childhood as well as some of our favorites that we read to our children over the years.



Another favorite of mine although my cover looks much different. I remember reading this over and over.  I can't wait to share it with our daughter. 




I still have my copy of MARY POPPINS and it is still an all-time favorite movie of mine. This is another book that I will be sharing with our daughter.




We loved reading CURIOUS GEORGE to the kids.



THE LITTLE HOUSE is one of my all-time favorite stories.  If you haven't read it with your kids, get it now!



I had forgotten about THE GIANT JAM SANDWICH until this video.  Oh, what a fun story!



THE LITTLE RED HEN is a classic!



We found out about THE NAPPING HOUSE late in our kids life, but still a great story!



You can't celebrate Christmas without reading THE POLAR EXPRESS!



FIVE LITTLE MONKEYS JUMPING ON THE BED is one that should be read to every child!



I can recite the entire book of TIME FOR BED.  We read that every single night for years! Whenever I see this book, I get a little pain in my heart remembering all those nights of snuggling and reading with our kids. I now buy it for every baby gift!



MR.WUFFLES is on my list to purchase and read to the storytime kids.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has been a publishing giant for children's literature and it doesn't look like they are slowing down at all.  Thanks for all the great books and memories you have given our family!

Visit their website, http://www.hmhco.com/
Follow their blog, HERE.
Follow them on Facebook, HERE.
Follow them on Instagram, HERE.
Follow them on Twitter, HERE.
Follow them on Pinterest, HERE.


You can purchase any of the above books by clicking on the photo.  If you purchase through these links, I will earn a small commission without you paying a cent more for your purchase.  I appreciate you supporting SincerelyStacie.com reviews.