Thursday, December 31, 2015

Book Review: Secret Sisters By Jayne Ann Krentz


By: Jayne Ann Krentz

Published: December 8, 2015

Publisher: Berkley


Jayne Ann Krentz has written over 50 New York Times Best-Selling novels and this is the first one that I have read. I don't usually read the romance/suspense genre, but the synopsis intrigued me so I gave it a try.

Madeline and Daphne are best friends and spend their days together while Daphne's mom works for Madeline's grandma at the hotel she runs. After a brutal attack on Madeline during a party at the hotel, their lives are forever changed. They have been bound by a secret that will haunt both of them forever.

Madeline and Daphne haven't spoken since that fateful night and now, eighteen years later, the past has come back to confront them. When Madeline returns to Washington after her grandmother's death she comes upon the death of the hotel caretaker. Now she is wondering if these deaths are truly accidental and if they have anything to do with the attack on her many years ago. Madeline must find Daphne and along with her security expert, Jack, they need to get to the truth of what truly happened the night Madeline was attacked.

Krentz is extremely talented at building suspense throughout the story. Nothing goes smoothly for the characters and she builds in multiple surprises to keep you guessing. Each twist in the story will leave you suspecting one person over another.  As Madeline and Jack investigate the loose ends, the reader will also try to see what clue they are missing. As more and more people are found dead and Madeline and Daphne confront dangerous situations, the novel begins to move quickly. Since I'm not a romance reader, I found the relationships rushed and unrealistic. But, Krentz's readers would be sure to remind me that an entire romance has to fit in just 300 some pages.

Fans of Krentz will find her latest book thrilling as well as passionate. The culmination of solving the crime will leave you shocked and wondering how you didn't figure it out in the beginning.

Side Notes:

Favorite Quote: "He kissed her with the soaring passion of a man who has just been set free from a cage. She understood his response because she had only recently escaped from an invisible prison herself. "

Cover: I like it, but don't see the connection to the story except for the fact that Madeline may be running away from something. Still, maybe a shot of the hotel on Cooper Island would have been better.

Jayne Ann Krentz - source
The author of over 50 consecutive New York Times bestsellers, Jayne Ann Krentz writes romantic-suspense in three different worlds: Contemporary (as Jayne Ann Krentz), historical (as Amanda Quick) and futuristic (as Jayne Castle). There are over 30 million copies of her books in print.

She earned a B.A. in History from the University of California at Santa Cruz and went on to obtain a Masters degree in Library Science from San Jose State University in California. Before she began writing full-time she worked as a librarian in both academic and corporate libraries.

Ms. Krentz is married and lives with her husband, Frank, in Seattle, Washington. For more on Krentz, visit her website, HERE. You can also find her on Facebook, HERE

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

Thanks to the publisher for providing a copy of this book 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 through the above link, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting 

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Monday, December 28, 2015

A Little Monday Inspiration - Time

Lack of direction,
not lack of time,
is the problem.
We all have 24-hour days.
Zig Ziglar

Zig Ziglar is a well-known and respected speaker and author. Even though he has been gone for 3 years, his words and knowledge still live on.

I'm spending my time over the next couple weeks focusing on my family and myself. This may sound selfish to some, but this is just what my heart and soul needs. I'm hoping when I return, I'll be ready to dive back into my work, being more organized and refreshed.

I'm wishing all of you a wonderful new year and I'll be back soon with lots of book reviews and other fun posts!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas to You All

An ornament that I made in Sunday School over 30 years ago
is still a reminder of 
The Reason for the Season.

"While they were there, 
the time came for the baby to be born, 
and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.
 She wrapped him in cloths 
and placed him in a manger, 
because there was 
no guest room available for them."
Luke 2:6-7 NIV

May your Christmas be filled with love, laughter, and the light of Jesus in your heart. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Book Review: 34 Seconds By Stella Samuel


By: Stella Samuel

Published: October 4, 2015

Publisher: Stella Samuel


Nikki and Will had that summer romance that every girl dreams about. They sat on the beach, they took long walks, and Will sang Nikki the songs they wrote together. Their romance was full of passion and Nikki thought they would be together forever. Instead, Will wasn't "marriage material" and ended their relationship. Nikki now lives in Colorado with her husband, Chris, and two young children. Her past is being brought back to the front of her mind because she is traveling back home to Virginia to attend Will's wedding. Will and Nikki have maintained a solid friendship over the years, talking weekly, even after Will broke Nikki's heart. A year after Nikki revisits her past by attending Will's wedding, she must again confront it in a much more heartbreaking way, by returning home to Will for his final journey.

Samuel's debut novel is full of emotion, romance, heartbreak, and love. Nikki flashes back often to her time with Will while she is getting her children breakfast, while they nap, and lying in bed. The passion she and Will shared seems to monopolize her thoughts and takes her focus away from her family. Attending Will's wedding was very difficult for Nikki and she spends a large amount of time obsessing over Will rather than enjoying the festivities and her family.  I found  Nikki's whining and obsession became a bit annoying as I traveled through the story.

When her weekly phone calls with Will stop abruptly after the wedding, Nikki is confused and hurt. She can't understand why Will no longer is making their friendship a priority and his new wife isn't offering any information. A few months later, Nikki is summoned to Will's bedside, and again, the story focuses on Nikki's obsession with her memories of Will. I found the flashbacks to Nikki's relationship with Will to be a bit boring at times. The first few gave a nice picture of the intensity of their romance and the passion Will and Nikki shared, but after awhile, I started skimming them as they were a bit repetitive. Samuel is extremely talented in her writing and I'm sure worked hard on the editing process, I just felt like it was a bit much. The words to the many songs that Will and Nikki wrote were written from the heart. A neat addition to this novel would be a recording of these songs!

When Nikki returns home to be with Will, I felt like his final days were a bit too bogged down in the details. I understand the difficulty associated with someone in his final days without the minutiae of details, including pages of him thrashing in bed or unable to get off the floor. Her focus on Hospice and the wonderful care they provide to patients and their families is commendable. She shows that the final days can be anything but smooth and predictable, but with guidance from Hospice, they can be an invaluable resource.

I think Samuel has a knack for romance writing but needs to find a more concise way to tell the story that will keep readers from skimming. Less is more.

Stella Samuel - Source
Stella Samuel lives in Colorado with her husband, three children, two cats, and two beautiful Saint Bernards. She's been writing for years but decided to begin publishing once her children were in school and away from home a few hours each day. She enjoys writing, reading, watching children laugh, and music. For more on the author, check out her website, HERE. You can also find her on Facebook, HERE, and Twitter, HERE

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

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Thanks to the author for sending a copy of this novel 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 through the above link, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting reviews. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Children's Book Review: How the Grandmas and Grandpas Saved Christmas By Richard J. Gausselin

Book I

By: Richard J. Gausselin

Illustrated by: Jennifer Downing

Published: December 2014

Publisher: Outskirts Press


Santa runs a pretty tight ship in his toy factory. Every elf has a job to do and needs to work hard to get every single toy made by Christmas Eve. Santa believes that the toys are to be made with hands and hearts and not computers. Each toy is made with love for that special boy or girl.

On an unexpectedly sunny day, the elves take a break to play snowball which leads to disastrous repercussions for Santa's toy factory. When Santa and his lead elf try to finish the toys, Santa realizes it just isn't going to be possible. Then a bright idea leads him to call in the grandparents all over the world. Maybe they can all work together to save Christmas.

This is a really great story for Christmas and has a wonderful message about the importance of helping others as well as one about following the rules! Mrs. Claus and an elf warn the others about slacking off on the job. When the elves end up in a difficult situation, they realize that their choices can have consequences.

Even though this story has a younger message, it isn't one your younger child will be able to read to themselves.  One page is full of text while the next page has the illustration. It would make for a great bedtime story that is read by a parent. The illustrations are bright and show the range of emotions in the characters. There are numerous details in each illustration that the child will enjoy pointing out.

This book would make a great addition to your Christmas library. It's lesson is a good reminder for all of us.

Richard J. Gausselin’s books are inspired by his childhood Christmases of the 1940s and ’50s, when toys were “made with hands and hearts.” As a father of six and grandfather to thirteen, he has enjoyed reading ’TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS on Christmas Eve for over fifty years. He hopes adults and children will enjoy HOW THE GRANDMAS AND GRANDPAS SAVED CHRISTMAS (Books I, II, and III) and make them part of their holiday tradition. For more on his books, visit his website, HERE

If you would like to purchase a copy of this book or the next one in the series, click the photo below:

I will be linking up with Booking Mama and other bloggers for her Saturday feature Kid Konnection. Click HERE, to see other bookish posts related to children's and YA literature.

Thanks to the author for sending me a copy of this book 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 this book through the above link, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Holiday Gift Guide for Everyone On Your List

I LOVE shopping for gifts for others. I take great pride in choosing the gift that I think the receiver will appreciate. I want my gift to show that I've been listening, I care about them, and I took the time to choose this gift especially for them.

If you have ever heard of the book The 5 Love Languagesby Gary Chapman, then I bet you would know my love language is gifts. So, it is natural that I choose to express that as well.

If you are looking for something different to give to those you love, check out this great list of items below. Some of these items contain links to Amazon. If you choose to purchase the item through these links, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting

For the Light Sleeper in Your House

Sleep Phones

I received these as a gift for my birthday and really like them for travel or when my husband wants to watch TV before falling asleep. You can use the app to play their "white noise" music or connect to your music app and play your music of choice or listen to a book. No worrying about your earbuds falling out of your ear. You just wear this soft headband with the earpieces inside the band.

I really like them and have the wired sleep phones. The cord is long enough that I can have my phone on the end table near my bed and still connect without any issues. There is a wireless version ---- but it is much more expensive.

For a Friend, Teacher, Coach, Neighbor

invinyl - LINK

T24Station - LINK

The Home T - LINK

Shop Etsy! Etsy is like a farmer's market right on your computer anytime you want. You can find anything from jewelry to t-shirts to tote bags to hand-kitted scarves to furniture and I could go on and on. Basing your search either on your local area and supporting someone local to having someone in Portugal sending you a painting is absolutely amazing. I have ordered numerous items for myself as well as gifts for others through Etsy and have been thrilled with each purchase.

For the Device-Addicted Teenager


Every member of our family has one of these. They come in different sizes with a one device charge at a time or up to five. They come in multiple color choices and are a life-saver when you are sitting at an all day competition with no way to charge your phone. I keep this in my purse at all times for whenever I need a charge away from a power source.

For the Grill Master

Cave Tools has multiple options for that person who loves to grill.  I am especially fond of their Skewer Set as well as their Smoker Box. This is a great company that sells quality products. To see all of their products, click HERE.

For Your Snarky Friend

A mug, tote, or a set of note cards from Emily McDowell Studio. I just love her cards and have sent several to just the right person.

For Your Mom, Sister, Friend, Wife, Girlfriend....

Flowers. Last year my husband gifted me with a floral bouquet every single month. He arranged it with our local florist and every month a new bouquet is delivered and usually has a theme connected to the nearest holiday or season. These have brought me so much joy and I have looked forward to them each month. If you don't want to have flowers delivered, put a reminder in your phone/calendar to stop at the floral shop or grocery store or target and grab a small bouquet. I promise it will be just as wonderful a gift.

For a college student or newly married couple

These Pyrex dishes can go from fridge to microwave to oven. They don't stain or leave behind marks from being in the microwave. You don't have to worry about plastic issues. They look nice all stacked in your cupboard. I've been slowly switching over to Pyrex and have been watching sales at the discount and department stores. They are worth the price! I started with THIS SET, and then continued to build from there.

For the Child in Your Life

Legos. You can NEVER go wrong with Legos. Our family has always loved them. They seem to have a set for every personality and interest. You can see them all at

For the Reader in Your Life

Of course,  I can't offer a gift guide without suggesting BOOKS as a gift. If you are unsure of what book to give, you can give a book store gift card that will allow them to choose. You can also gift a particular book as a Kindle book if your loved one prefers eBooks. If you want to choose a book that hasn't even come out yet, you can pre-order it on Amazon and print out the receipt, having it delivered to your recipient on the day it comes out. You can see the Top 100 Paid Books on Amazon, HERE.  

For the Person Who Has Everything

Donating to a charity in their honor. My mom purchases an animal in honor of our family each year through Heifer International. For example, a hive of bees. We all get a certificate that says we have purchased bees for a family in need in a particular country. You can also purchase items from World Vision. I won this beautiful bracelet from World Vision through a giveaway on Booking Mama. Purchasing this bracelet helps the woman who made it and also gives you something to wrap up. Choosing an organization that means something to you such as a local Hospice, a local Food Bank, or a Women's Shelter and sending a donation in honor of someone is such a meaningful gift as well. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Product Review: Probiotics

After having our second child over fourteen years ago, my digestive system has never been the same for some reason. I have, at times, had to limit my diet, take medications, and even refrain from eating. I was interested in trying Viva Labs ADVANCED Probiotics, because our daughter benefited greatly from probiotics as an infant. When she was born, nearly eleven years ago, probiotics were new to the infant market. In fact, we were part of a study group through the University of Iowa to test probiotic formula with her and it was such a blessing to us. 

These capsules are small and easy to swallow. I have not had any issues with taking the probiotics and in fact, when I consistently take them, I have less digestive issues. 

I can now enjoy food without worrying about something causing me discomfort and an upset stomach. Common stomach distress is usually related to dairy, wheat, sugar, and spicy foods.  Taking this supplement has offered me the benefit of enjoying food without worry.

If you are looking to try and regulate your digestive system, this may be something you would like to try. Please note that I am not a medical professional and before starting any new supplement, be sure to discuss it with your doctor or pharmacist. 

If you would like to purchase this product, click the photo below:

I have tried and reviewed several other Viva Labs products and have been very impressed with the quality of each product. To see my other reviews for Viva Labs Hemp Protein, click HERE, Viva Labs Goji Berries, click HERE, Viva Labs Raw Cacao Nibs click, HERE,  Viva Labs Quinoa click, HERE

Thanks to Viva Labs for sending this product 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 this item through the above links, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting 

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