Friday, May 30, 2014

High Five Friday - 5.30.14


 photo H54Fbutton_zps973d26e1.png

Thanks to Becky at bybmg.blogspot.com, I found out about this great linky where bloggers share five happy things from their week.  I've been wanting to participate and I hope to continue. Through the summer I plan to share our joys from the lazy, crazy days of summer with our kids each Friday. Stay tuned and join in with other bloggers sharing their High Fives from the week! Click the Linky boxes above to see other great High Fives from all over the world!  Seeing other joys will make you joyful as well and help you appreciate the little things that bring a smile to your face throughout your week! 

Photo Credit - Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman
1. 
I made these Crazy Brownies from The Pioneer Woman. Her recipes are always, always awesome. I love her show on the Food Network and have followed her blog for a long time.  When I saw these brownies, I knew I had to try them.  Chocolate cake, Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, Rolos, and M&Ms together in one recipe. Ummmm.....yeah....I'm in!  They were a hit with our family and friends and were Crazy Delicious!!  For the recipe, click HERE.



2.
I started this Runner's World Inspired Challenge called #RWRunStreak, where for 40 days you run a mile a day.  Who can't find time for that? For more on this challenge, click HERE. To stay up to date on how I'm doing on the challenge, follow me on Instagram, HERE.




3.
I worked in a "me" day before school lets out for the summer.  I spent an hour and a half reading a book, getting my feet and legs massaged, and getting a fun summer color on my toes.  Then I treated myself to lunch at a Thai restaurant. The disappointing part was they didn't serve Mango Sticky Rice which I have been CRAVING! Need to find a place that serves it soon!


4. 
I spent yesterday with girlfriends.  We decided to travel to Kalona, a town south of here filled with Amish and Mennonite families.  We have our favorite grocery store and greenhouses that we like to go to and were so looking forward to our day.  Unfortunately, when we arrived at our first stop, we noticed that they were closed due to Ascension Day. Ugh! Note to self: Check religious calendar before traveling to Kalona next time. We drove an hour to find out we wouldn't be able to go to any of our favorite places.  But we still had a blast and lots of laughs.  We found a new greenhouse in a town about 10 minutes away and still found a few non-Mennonite owned businesses that were open.  We tried out the new Kalona Brewery for lunch and loved their Wood Fired Pizzas.  I found some great flowers to put outside our home and still made a stop at the Kalona Cheese Factory. We had a great time, so the day was still a win. I didn't get any photos taken as we were kind of rushed since we all had to be back home before school got out. I had to rush to watch Reagan play two piano pieces at the nursing home with her friends and she did an awesome job.



5. 
Last night was our first regular baseball game of the season.  There are a lot of baseball games in my future this summer with the boys playing on the town team and Patrick playing on the high school team. I love watching the boys and their friends play.  They have some serious determination in their faces! Let's Play Ball!


I hope you can take a moment to reflect on your "High Fives" from the week.  Tune in next week to see more and click the boxes at the top of the post to see other "High Fives" from around blogland!


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Spice Cake Review Featured

I am excited to share with you that I have been reviewing products for another website,AWG Brands.  They will then be posting my reviews on their site and when they appear, I will share them with you here. 



I will be comparing the Best Choice brand product with another more common brand of the same product and giving my honest opinion as well as that of our family.  It has been a lot of fun and so far I have reviewed 8 products for them.  In our area, we can find the Best Choice brand of products at Alco Stores and smaller independent grocery stores.  I think you might be surprised by our results.  Stay tuned to see all the great products we've reviewed.


I recently reviewed Duncan Hines Spice Cake and Best Choice Spice Cake.  Click HERE, to see which cake mix won in our taste test. 

Book Review: Cure for the Common Breakup By Beth Kendrick

CURE FOR THE COMMON BREAKUP

By: Beth Kendrick

Published: May 6, 2014

Publisher: New American Library - Penguin Group

Fiction




In CURE FOR THE COMMON BREAKUP, you won't be short on laughter, romance, or drama.  All these make for a perfect book for you to tuck into your pool or beach bag this summer.

Summer Benson has the perfect life as a flight attendant.  She can tour the world, live it up it in all the great cities, and fly to all the romantic cities with her handsome, pilot boyfriend. On a flight to Paris, Summer realizes Aaron plans to propose, but their future is halted by a disaster.  Summer has nowhere to go and no family to take care of her, so she goes where a magazine article leads her....Black Dog Bay, Delaware.

Black Dog Bay has gotten its notoriety being the place women and men go when they need to get over a bad break-up. Marla at the Better Off Bed-And-Breakfast plays hard ball with cell phones and desperate phone calls and texts.  Jenna at the Whinery makes a mean "Cure for the Common Breakup" drink and the bonus is that the recipe is included in the book.  Hattie, the matriarch of Black Dog Bay is a force to reckon with and gives Summer a lot to think about.  Of course, there has to be a male interest in the story, and Dutch Jansen plays that part well.  He is the Mayor of Black Dog Bay and has a history that will impact everyone who lives there.

Beth Kendrick has written a fun, light-hearted, romantic, and hilarious novel that will be perfect for your summer beach read.  Summer is sassy, spunky, and snarky and will no doubt keep you on your toes and keep you laughing. I loved all the characters and their role in Summer's healing.

An example of the great characters in the book and the scene Kendrick places you in is when Summer arrives at the Better Off Bed-And-Breakfast. Marla proceeds to take her cell phone right away as part of the requirement for staying there. Summer asks,"So this is like breakup boot camp?" Marla states, "Mm-hmmm. With homemade blueberry muffins for breakfast."  There were so many great lines in the book that I couldn't possible write them all here, but you will want to remember some of the one-liners for your next drama filled situation.

What I liked about the story and the premise for Black Dog Bay is that is wasn't about getting revenge or being nasty, but about letting go and finding a new direction in your life and starting over. All of the characters had to do that at some point in their life and I think the reader can relate to one, if not many, of the characters in the book.  I could have used a hide-away like this at a point in my life to reflect and rejuvenate and get some of my sass back.

The cover is definitely eye-catching, fun and scored big points with me.  Seeing this on the shelf among other books will definitely draw your eye and make you pick up the book. 

I also appreciated that there wasn't graphic details in the romance department.  It left the imagination up to the reader which was just fine with me.

Pick up CURE FOR THE COMMON BREAKUP for a story full of sassy ladies that will rally around their new friend to give her a future she only dreamed she could have.

Beth Kendrick - source
Beth Kendrick is the author of THE WEEK BEFORE THE WEDDING, THE LUCKY DOG MATCHMAKING SERVICE, AND NEARLYWEDS, which was turned into a Hallmark Channel original movie. Although she lives in Arizona, she loves to vacation at the Delaware shore, where she brakes for turtles, eats boardwalk fries, and wishes that the Whinery really existed. For more on Beth, visit her website at http://bethkendrick.com/.  You can also find her on Facebook, HERE and Twitter,HERE.

To purchase a copy of CURE FOR THE COMMON BREAKUP click the photo below:



I received a copy of this book for review from Penguin Group. 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 link, I may receive a small compensation. Thanks for supporting SincerelyStacie.com reviews.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Book Review: The Qualities of Wood By Mary Vensel White

THE QUALITIES OF WOOD

By: Mary Vensel White

To Be Published: June 17, 2014

Publisher: Authonomy through HarperCollins

Fiction



I'm happy to be part of TLC Book Tours for THE QUALITIES OF WOOD.  For other stops on the TLC Book Tour and to see other reviews of THE QUALITIES OF WOOD, click HERE.

In THE QUALITIES OF WOOD we first meet Vivian, a twenty-something wife who is being picked up by her husband Nowell at the airport.  Nowell has been at his grandmother's farm for the last month writing his second book.  Vivian and Nowell had agreed to uproot their city life and move to the Midwest after his grandmother's death. Nowell planned to write while Vivian cleaned and organized the place to prepare it for sale.  The story is told from Vivian's point of view and we are limited in the story to her perception of things, which at times is a bit skewed.

Vivian isn't prepared for the quiet, country life and is startled to find that a teenage girl had been found dead in the woods behind the house on the day of her arrival.  At once Vivian seems skeptical about the death of the girl and is suspicious of her new neighbors as well as her husband.  When her brother-in-law, Lonnie and his new wife, Dot arrive, their lives get a bit frazzled and tempers flare.  Vivian feels like people are keeping secrets and she is determined to find out what they are.

The author does a great job of putting you in the setting of the story, describing the old house, the personal things left behind, the woods, the nearby small town and the people that live there.  But, at times, I felt like she spent too much time on details and characters that weren't really relevant to the story, like for example, the men laying asphalt on the road near the house.

I am always curious as to how the title of the book will be used in the book and in this case it set up how Vivian ends up seeing the people and the places for who and what they really are.

Vivian remembered staring at her desktop in grammar school, during rainy-day, 
heads-down games or boring lessons and noticing the variety within the wood, 
the scant pencil remains from the students before her, 
the distinct markings of the grain. 
Like a fingerprint, each section unique to itself and to the seer. 
Eyes can become discerning, she thought, if you look long enough. 
The sky, the qualities of wood.  Page 152-153

As I moved through the book, I began to get more and more annoyed with the characters.  It seemed all of them were selfish, whiny, and immature.  The conversations they had with each other were dull and without purpose.  All the while, I kept expecting some great lead up to the mystery that the back of the book alludes to.  Sadly, the conclusion was a let down.

I felt like I was led through the book with a promise of a big climax related to the death of the girl in the woods.  Sadly, the "big reveal" was not that big of a deal.  I do feel the author did a beautiful job painting a picture with words. I was engaged and read the novel quickly, but felt disappointed with the ending.

Mary Vensel White

 Mary Vensel White was born in LA and graduated from the University of Denver. She lived in Chicago for 5 years where she received her MA at DePaul University. Her short fiction has appeared in The Wisconsin Review and Foothilles Literary Journal. This is her first novel. For more on Mary Vensel White, visit her website, http://maryvenselwhite.com/.  You can also find her on Facebook, HERE, and Twitter, HERE

If you'd like to purchase the book, click the photo below:





Thanks to TLC Book Tours for sending a copy of this book for review.  This review is my honest opinion. I was not compensated in any way for my review.  If you choose to purchase the book through the above photo link, I may receive a small compensation. Thanks for supporting SincerelyStacie.com reviews. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Book Spotlight and Giveaway: The Chronicle of Secret Riven By Ronlyn Domingue

THE CHRONICLE OF SECRET RIVEN
Keeper of Tales Trilogy

By: Ronlyn Domingue

Published: May 20, 2014

Publisher: Atria Books - Simon & Schuster Inc.

Fiction

This giveaway is now closed. Thanks to all who entered. 

Nearly a year ago, I featured the first in this series, THE MAPMAKER'S WAR.  See that post, HERE. Now I am giving you the opportunity to find out about the second book and win your very own copy!

Even if you haven't read THE MAPMAKER'S WAR, you can start with THE CHRONICLE OF SECRET RIVEN and still experience the joys of this book.  I love how the book has as "old book" feel with tattered pages and heavy paper.

Summary:
An uncanny child born to brilliant parents, befriended by a prince, mentored by a wise woman, pursued by a powerful man, Secret Riven has no idea what destiny will demand of her or the courage she must have to confront it in the breathtakingly epic, genre-spanning sequel to The Mapmaker’s War.

One thousand years after a great conflict known as The Mapmaker’s War, a daughter is born to an ambitious historian and a gifted translator. Secret Riven doesn’t speak until her seventh year but can mysteriously communicate with plants and animals. Unsettled by visions and dreams since childhood, she tries to hide her strangeness, especially from her mercurial father and cold mother. When her knowledge of an esoteric symbol brings unwelcome attention, gentle, watchful Secret finds acceptance from Prince Nikolas, her best friend, and Old Woman, who lives in the distant woods.

When Secret is twelve, her mother, Zavet, receives an arcane manuscript to translate from an anonymous owner. Zavet begins to suffer nightmares and withdraws into herself. Secret sickens with a fever and awakens able to speak an ancient language, discovering that her mother is fluent as well. Suddenly, Zavet dies. The manuscript is missing, but a cipher has been left for Secret to find. Soon, Secret will have a choice to make: confront a destiny tied to an ancient past or deny it, never to know its whole truth.

A spellbinding story, rich with vivid characters and set in a fascinating world, THE CHRONICLE OF SECRET RIVEN explores the tension between love and hate, trust and betrayal, fate and free will.

THE CHRONICLE OF SECRET RIVEN is a natural YA crossover and is perfect for those fantasy book lovers.  If you like folklore and fairy tales mixed in with reality, I think this book is just the one for you.  Many have praised her first in the series stating "a fun read for fantasy lovers" and "her story will charm". There has already been a lot of praise for this book as well, with an average of 4 stars already on goodreads.com and it has only been out a week.

“The Chronicle of Secret Riven hypnotizes with the cadence of a fairy tale and the sweeping scope of an epic. I longed to linger in this world of eloquent animals, hidden forests, and magical libraries, and felt nearly heartbroken to turn the last page. Ronlyn Domingue, like her unforgettable heroine Secret Riven, has a knack for making us all see the wonder in what appears to be ordinary.”
—Amy Shearn, author of The Mermaid of Brooklyn and How Far Is the Ocean from Here

“Mysterious manuscripts, arcane languages, and sinister silences animate the wonderfully inventive realm of Secret Riven, a character so powerful that we are both startled and enchanted as we tumble headlong into her world.”
—Maria Tatar, author of Enchanted Hunters: The Power of Stories in Childhood

“The Chronicle of Secret Riven is an extraordinary mix of a fresh voice and an Old World sensibility. With mesmerizing language, Ronlyn Domingue spins a tale of wonder, danger, and magic, taking the reader to a faraway world that helps us to see our own with more clarity. This is a book that reminds us of the power of silence, of paying attention, of intuition, and of protecting the most vulnerable among us.”
—Susan Henderson, author of Up From the Blue

"A rare blend of historical mysticism and elaborately imagined fantasy... This is a fantastically satisfying novel in which a character can plausibly converse with insects and foliage, while always maintaining a strict internal logic. I wish I could buy real estate in Domingue's world."
—Sean Beaudoin, author of The Infects and Wise Young Fool

“An epic fairy tale for a new age, Domingue has created a mythos all her own. The Chronicle of Secret Riven deftly braids the story of love, loss, magic, myth and ancestry together into a hauntingly beautiful tale. The book also possesses a secret itself. If you know how to look for it, if you know how to listen, you’ll risk being inspired by the powerful message that glimmers beyond the pages of this shimmering story.” 
—Signe Pike, author of Faery Tale

Keep reading to enter to win your very own copy of 
THE CHRONICLE OF SECRET RIVEN. 

Excerpt of The Chronicle of Secret Riven by Ronlyn Domingue


Chapter I
The Babe Born Evensong Riven

Moments after her birth, three birds swept into the room through an open window. The pigeon, the dove, and the sparrow circled the newborn three times, widdershins, lit upon the wooden sill, and settled their feathers. They turned to one another in conference, or so it seemed to the baby’s father, who saw their heads bob and heard them coo and chirp. He had respect for the uncanny and, believing the birds’ council to be that indeed, watched them come to their enigmatic conclusion.

The meeting adjourned. The sparrow fluttered toward the infant, snatched a wispy hair from her head, and guided the dove and the pigeon into the autumn twilight.

Her father would one day tell her this, and about how he walked to the window to decide what to name her. He hadn’t expected the dark tiny creature she turned out to be. She was third born but an only child. Two brothers, born blue, had preceded her. Her father looked to the sky at the crescent moon and the bright star rising at its side. She was named Evensong, for the time of her birth, but she would be called Eve, then become Secret soon enough.

She was an odd little thing with black hair, tawny skin, and eyes the colors of night and day. Except for the occasional cry or laugh, she would be mute until her seventh year, skilled with only one mother tongue until her fourteenth. From Secret’s first breaths, the girl was hushed with a silencing hiss, a sound of menace, not comfort, by her own mother.

The child became a watchful being.

Secret remembered the room where she spent the days of her first three years. The door to the room was always closed, and she was penned off by a guard of wooden slats with a soft pallet and toys on the floor. She occupied herself with colorful blocks, leather balls filled with sawdust, and dolls stuffed with wool. Secret took pleasure in the crawling things in her space. She wiped her hand through webs to watch the spiders build again. Beetles danced on their backs if knocked off their feet. Ants marched in lines to carry off crumbs she left for them. She was glad to have the insects to amuse her because they helped her feel less lonely.

Out of reach, in a corner of the same room where the windows faced east and south, sat her mother. There, Zavet bent over manuscripts and books, often muttering and burbling, caught in a rushing stream of words.

Madness? No.

Zavet was gifted with the languages of the entire known and ancient worlds. She did not, and could not, explain the mystery of her many tongues. Whatever language she heard or read, she grasped instantly, as if she remembered rather than learned it. She spoke all of them like a native without the accent of her own. The words burbled out of her as if from a deep, hidden spring. She dammed them with her work as a translator, but the flood could only be slowed to a trickle.

Now and again, this strangeness happened in front of other people. With Secret comfortable in a little wagon, Zavet went to market or for afternoon walks, and sometimes Zavet would mutter aloud softly. Some people seemed to try to ignore her, but Secret observed the suspicious glances from others. She saw them lean close, eyes narrow, fingers pointing. She rarely heard what they said, but she could sense their scrutiny. This is how she knew her mother was not quite right, and perhaps neither was she. Zavet and Secret did not look like their neighbors and, between her mother’s muttering and her silence, did not sound like them either. Still, the other women were polite toward Zavet, and she was polite but cool toward them, and they allowed their children to play within view as they filled their baskets and remarked about the weather.

As for Secret’s father, Bren was often gone while it was light but home when it was dark. Now and then, Bren went away for long periods of time but always came back. When he returned, he brought presents. Secret remembered a set of thick cards marked with colors, shapes, images, and symbols. Glad for the attention, she sat on his lap as he named them. She learned quickly and delighted him with the deft accuracy of her pointing finger when he asked her to identify the images for the words he spoke.

Her mother was always surrounded by books, but her father was the one who filled her with stories. Zavet taught her respect for the texts, which Secret was allowed to look at but not touch. What Bren gave her she was allowed to handle, with care. She turned the pages and, with his voice, he guided her into other worlds, slowly reading with his finger under the symbols that became words, and the words became images. Many of the books had illustrations, but they couldn’t compare to what emerged in her mind as she listened.

Although she was very young, Secret discovered she, too, could divine the symbols again and conjure what they told. What marvelous tales of wonder, adventure, and possibility! Her father found her concentration unusual and tested to see whether she understood what she read on her own. He gave her books he had never read to her. He asked her questions to answer yes or no, which she did with nods and shakes of her dark head. My mute little prodigy, he called her.

Secret knew her mother possessed this magic as well, but Zavet was parsimonious with its use in regards to her daughter. Some of the books her father brought he couldn’t read and promised that her mother would. She rarely did. With those, Secret sat in silence—such a good, obedient child was she —and studied the mysterious marks on the pages. She wondered what they meant, what tales they told.

One ordinary day, Zavet gave her coloring sticks and used paper with which to draw. The little girl sat on the floor and marked the page with all manner of symbols like ones she had seen. As she wrote the unintelligible words, Secret’s heart pounded. Her tiny hand gripped the coloring stick as her head flooded with images. There, within her, was a story she could not yet tell. One she must reveal herself. All at once, she felt its burden, its danger, and its redemption.

Secret cried out with wonder and dread, unable to understand what had opened in her but fully able to feel its power.

From the sunny corner, her mother hissed long and harsh. The noise startled the girl, and she spilled a half-empty cup of water with a jolt of her hand. Her mother hissed again, louder. The girl felt a tight knot at her navel loosen into a heavy force, which spread through her belly and chest. She held her breath, kept her glare to the ground, and pushed the hot feeling deep into her body, coiling it back to where it lived. Secret struck the page with thick black marks, but quietly, quietly.

“This spill is but an accident, yes, little scourge,” Zavet said under her breath as she wiped the floor clean. 
Copyright © 2014 by Ronlyn Domingue. With the permission of the publisher, Atria Books.


Ronlyn Domingue - Photo Credit Susan Shacter

Ronlyn Domingue is the author of THE MAPMAKER'S WARBook 1 of the Keeper of Tales Trilogy and THE CHRONICLE OF SECRET RIVEN, Book 2. Her critically acclaimed debut novel, THE MERCY OF THIN AIR, was published in ten languages. Born and raised in the Deep South, she lives there still.  For more on Ronlyn Domingue, check out her website, HERE.  You can also find her on Facebook, HERE, and Twitter, HERE.

I think THE CHRONICLE OF SECRET RIVEN sounds mysterious and mystical and would be the perfect book to disappear in during a lazy summer afternoon.  If you would like to win your own copy, just fill in the blanks below.




To purchase a copy of either of Ronlyn Domingue's books, click the photos below:




Monday, May 26, 2014

A Little Monday Inspiration - Memorial Day


Today,
in many communities across the United States,
we are celebrating Memorial Day.

On this day, we recognize the men and women 
who died while serving in the Armed Forces. 
The original name, Decoration Day,
 was to remember soldiers who died during the Civil War. 

Today, many use it as a day to remember all loved ones who have died, visiting cemeteries and placing flowers on loved ones graves.



Our family has often spent the day visiting cemeteries and remembering our heritage.  We have shared stories with our children about our family members and visited their final resting place, leaving flowers behind. 

Even though I am not attending the Memorial Day service that my parents host at the country church near their home, I am remembering those who served and gave their life for me and our children.

I'm also remembering the loved ones that stayed behind, while their husband or wife, mother or father, son or daughter, served our country and never returned.  The sadness and pain that was felt can never be replaced but our gratitude remains.  

Thank you will never be enough.  


But enjoying the freedoms that we have been given, 
earned by bloodshed, battles, tears, and sacrifice, 
will be appreciated for years to come. 

God Bless America

Friday, May 23, 2014

Children's Book Review: When I Grow Up I want To Be....in the U.S. Navy

 WHEN I GROW UP I WANT TO BE...in the U.S. Navy
Noah Tours An Aircraft Carrier

Published By: Wigu Publishing

Published: April 10, 2014

I absolutely love this series from Wigu Publishing.  I have reviewed several of their other books in the series including U.S. Army, Teacher, and Firefighter.

In this book, Noah, his sister Marina, and his Grandpa Ed get to tour an aircraft carrier.  Grandpa Ed is a Navy veteran and is able to give Noah and Marina a complete tour and explanation of all the areas of the ship. Noah and Marina are typical a brother and sister and their antics make the story relatable to children.

Just like the other books in the series, there is plenty of educational information and historical facts included with the story of Noah and his sister. In fact, I learned things about the Navy right along with our daughter as we read it.  Our family has toured an aircraft carrier, but there were things I didn't realize about how the ship is really a city in itself.  Everyone is important on an aircraft carrier from the Captain, the pilots, the deckhands, and the dishwashers.  Everyone's job is important and critical to keeping the crew members and our nation safe.


This book is a great way to share with your child what the Navy is all about whether you have a family member who served, one who is currently serving in the Navy, or not.  It is also a great way to teach your child about those who serve to protect us, in big and small ways, each and every day.

I highly recommend this book as well as all of the rest of the books in the series, WHEN I GROW UP I WANT TO BE.  Books to come in the series include Veterinarian, Nurse, Race Car Driver, U.S. Air Force, Police Officer, and a Good Person.  For more on this series of books, check out Wigu Publishing at http://whenigrowupbooks.com/.

To purchase a copy of this book, click on the photo below:



I will be linking up this book review with other great children's book reviews on Booking Mama's Kid Konnection Linky.  To see other great children's book reviews, click HERE.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Book Spotlight: Cure for the Common Breakup By Beth Kendrick

CURE FOR THE COMMON BREAKUP

By: Beth Kendrick

Published: May 6, 2014

Fiction

I'm part of a Book Blog Tour for CURE FOR THE COMMON BREAKUP.  I have to admit, today was supposed to be a review post, but the days have gotten away from me and I'm not finished with the book yet.  So, I'm going to share the book with you anyway and get you my review just as soon as I can!

In CURE FOR THE COMMON BREAKUP, we are taken to Black Dog Bay, a tiny seaside town in Delaware known as “the best place in America to bounce back from your breakup.” Home to the Better Off Bed-and-Breakfast, the Eat Your Heart Out bakery, and the Whinery bar, Black Dog Bay offers a haven for the suddenly single. 

Flight attendant Summer Benson lives by two rules: Don’t stay with the same man for too long and never stay in one place. She’s about to break rule number one by considering accepting her boyfriend’s proposal—then disaster strikes and her world is shattered in an instant.

Summer heads to Black Dog Bay, where the locals welcome her. Even Hattie Huntington, the town’s oldest, richest, and meanest resident, likes her enough to give her a job. Then there’s Dutch Jansen, the rugged, stoic mayor, who’s the opposite of her type. She probably shouldn’t be kissing him. She definitely shouldn’t be falling in love.

After a lifetime of globe-trotting, Summer has finally found a home. But Hattie has old scores to settle and a hidden agenda for her newest employee. Summer finds herself faced with an impossible choice: Leave Black Dog Bay behind forever, or stay with the ones she loves and cost them everything....


CURE FOR THE COMMON BREAKUP will be the perfect summer, beach read.  First of all, the cover screams summer! I love a cover that immediately grabs my attention and this one did it. It is funny, snarky, and has just the right amount of romance.  This is a book to share with your girlfriends. I'm completely entertained and can't wait to share my full review with you.  This is my first Beth Kendrick book and I will have to check out the rest of her books. 

Others who have raved about CURE FOR THE COMMON BREAKUP:

"A charming and exceptionally entertaining story!" 
Jane Porter, New York Times bestselling author

"Utterly delightful! 
Summer Benson will charm and disarm her way into the hearts of readers." 
Meg Donohue, USA Today bestselling author

" CURE FOR THE COMMON BREAKUP is a novel not to miss."

Beth Kendrick - source
Beth Kendrick is the author of THE WEEK BEFORE THE WEDDING, THE LUCKY DOG MATCHMAKING SERVICE, AND NEARLYWEDS, which was turned into a Hallmark Channel original movie. Although she lives in Arizona, she loves to vacation at the Delaware shore, where she brakes for turtles, eats boardwalk fries, and wishes that the Whinery really existed. For more on Beth, visit her website at http://bethkendrick.com/.  You can also find her on Facebook, HERE and Twitter, HERE.

To purchase CURE FOR THE COMMON BREAKUP, click the photo below:



Friday, May 16, 2014

Children's Book Review: Bitsy Bear By Anne M Jenks

BITSY BEAR
A Great Children's Story and Essential Parenting Tool

By: Anne M Jenks

Illustrated By: Laura Liberatore

Published: April 28, 2014

If there is only one book you read with your child, this one would be it.  The dangers of the world can creep into even the most protected communities and families.  The best way to protect our children is with information and communication.  BITSY BEAR gives us the opportunity to teach our children about personal safety through a children's story.

In BITSY BEAR we are introduced to a monkey family.  The siblings Mitsy, Itsy, and Bitsy love to play together in the jungle and are always under the watchful eyes of their parents.  Until one day, the parents' focus is taken off of Bitsy and some circus bears decide she would be the perfect addition to their circus act.  What happens next will give you the perfect scenario to talk with your child about stranger danger.

We live in a small community and have the perception of our children being safe. But the last few abductions in our state have been in small towns just like the one we live in.  This book gave me another chance to have this conversation with our 9-year-old daughter. She read the book first and then we were able to have a great discussion about what happened to Bitsy.

I read this as an eBook, but the illustrations were still just as vibrant as a regular book. They told the story through pictures and gave some humor to the story while allowing the younger readers to become interested in the story.

I can't stress enough what an important book this is for you to read and discuss with your child.  Jenks's story is presented in such a way that makes the situation real, yet not too scary for your child.

The exciting part of this book for me is that it is written by one of my high school classmates.  I am thrilled to be able to share this book with all of you and hope that by sharing this book with your child, none of you will have to go through this. After the story, the book includes tips for parents in keeping your children safe and tips for children about what to do in an emergency.

Anne M. Jenks


Anne M Jenks grew up in a loving family in NE Iowa and was the oldest of four children. Being a big sister makes you aware of the safety of your younger siblings. Whether it's because you care so deeply about your brothers and sisters or because you just don't want to get in trouble from Mom and Dad, this awareness of younger children's safety becomes a part of you.

After graduating from University of Iowa with a doctorate of pharmacy, Jenks started working as a retail pharmacist. Seeing children shopping with their families was often entertaining but sometimes troublesome. Children can so easily become separated from their parents. Whether intentional or not, this possibly dangerous situation always bothered her.

Implementing the three E's in her books is a key focus. Jenks's purpose in writing is to engage, entertain, and educate her audience.  Be on the look out for her next book, THE ICKY STICKY TEA PARTY. It tells the story of two sisters who get themselves into a bit of trouble when they try to use cough syrup as a "pretend tea" for the tea party. While this story also has a happy ending, it does convey a critical message about the importance of medication safety.

To purchase a copy of BITSY BEAR, click the photo below:




I will be linking up with other bloggers in Booking Mama's Kid Konnection on Saturday.  There you will find other great children's book reviews.


Winner of THE 3 DAY RESET

I have chosen a winner using random.org for THE 3-DAY RESET GIVEAWAY! The winner is.................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................SHANA!

Check your email and please respond within 48 hours.

Thanks to everyone for entering. If you would like to purchase a copy of THE 3-DAY RESET, click the photo below:



Monday, May 12, 2014

How to Have a Fun Summer with Your Kids

Summer will officially begin for our family in just 22 days.  Unfortunately, it won't be a very relaxing summer for our family as the kids have baseball, camps, and even our oldest has a job. But, we will certainly make the most of every day we have.  This summer is a short one for us as we just have 76 days of summer to enjoy before the kids go back to school.  There are also only two weeks where our family has nothing going on, so we plan to take our vacation then and really enjoy our free time.

Over the years I have found many ways to plan fun activities for our summer.
THIS POST, THIS POST and THIS POST share ideas from a couple years ago including themed days, family money jar, summer reading ideas, and a summer bucket list.

Our kids are older now and our days are better if they are spontaneous rather than planned out. But, when they were younger I relied on planning out something for each day. This summer I am looking forward to creating some artwork with our daughter who is so talented.  I hope to hang some of her creations on our walls.  We can hopefully spend some lazy afternoons at the pool and take some long bike rides.  Each day will be a new adventure and I can't wait for summer to get here!

If you have younger children and are wondering how you can possibly fill your summer days to keep the kids from crying, "I'm Bored", then I have just the idea for you!



The Confident Mom has all you need to have a summer full of fun! Susan Heid has spent countless hours planning out budget-friendly and fun ideas for you to do with your kids this summer.  If you have gotten her Summer Calendar before, be aware than these are NEW ideas. With 90% of the activities and recipes being new this year, you can be assured that your summer of fun will never be boring!


This Summer Survival Calendar offers at least one suggested activity each day from May 1-August 31.  So you can start right now! Some of the activities include making marshmallow sculptures, tie-dye t-shirts, dinosaur eggs, ice cream in a bag, water balloon games, ice bowling, and making watermelon pie.  There are over 120 engaging activities the whole family can enjoy. The downloadable PDF includes clickable links for instructions and photos. 



This year's calendar includes a supply list for all the activities on the calendar. The activities are organized by the week, so you can easily plan and gather what you need when you will need it. If you are new to The Confident Mom's Summer Survival Calendar, you can purchase the mega package which includes 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 Summer Survival Calendars all for $11. You will receive a whole bunch of activities and can pick and choose what works best for your family! 

Susan has also created an Action Guide. This includes worksheets, checklists, and forms including Summer Goals, Quiet Time Activities, Meal Planning, and many more.  Susan has really done all the work for us and all we have left to do is have a great summer with our kids.  

To purchase 
click HERE

Your options include:
2014 Calendar and Action Guide for $8, enter coupon code SAVEBUNDLE for $1 off $8 price.
2014 Calendar only for $6
Mega Bundle of Calendars and Action Guide for $11, enter coupon code SAVEMEGA for $2 off the $11 price. 
Coupon codes are valid through May 31, 2014. 

There is no excuse for you to have a boring summer.  Surprise your kids with a summer full of fun activities and one where you will never hear, "Mom, I'm bored!"

For more great summer ideas, check out this great Link Party!


All Kinds of Things