Thursday, January 28, 2016

Book Review: Welcome Home, Bernard Socks By Paul Magrs


By: Paul Magrs

Published: December 23, 2015

Publisher: Obverse Books


In December of 2014, I introduced you to THE STORY OF FESTER CAT. See my review, HERE. Paul Magrs wrote of how Fester Cat came into his and his partner, Jeremy's lives. He shared of the uncanny way that Fester fit into their lives so seamlessly. When Fester died, they were lost and lonely. After struggling with how to introduce a new cat into their lives and weeks researching shelters, Bernard Socks was welcomed into their home. This is his story....or is it still Fester's?

Magrs still writes using Fester's voice like he did in THE STORY OF FESTER CAT, but this time, it is Fester as a cat ghost. Fester can stick around and keep an eye on his family because he is still loved and remembered. Once he is no longer remembered, he must leave and go on to the great cat beyond. So, Fester, even though he misses Paul and Jeremy and wants to continue to be their cat, knows that they need a new friend. He guides Bernard Socks into how to live with these gentlemen and how to live in a community of neighborhood cats.

Bernard Socks is nothing like Fester Cat, which at first is a bit frustrating to Paul, Jeremy, and even Fester Cat. But Bernard is much younger and energetic. Fester Cat shares his emotions while watching Bernard Socks lay in his favorite spots in the garden, or nuzzle up to Paul while sleeping. He shares about his first Midsummer Night, as a deceased cat,  outside with all his old cat friends. After a night of exploring, Bernard Socks has Paul, Jeremy, and the entire neighborhood up all night worrying about him and looking for him. Fester Cat decides to take it upon himself to impart some wisdom and eventually encouraging Bernard Socks to return home and settle in with "the boys".

After losing our original cats and getting a new kitten a year later, I identified with a lot of the feelings and insecurities of starting over with a new cat. Paul Magrs has a talent for writing and sharing true emotions from both the cat and human's point of view. I think Fester Cat would be proud.

Favorite Quote:

"The books Paul has represent time, more than anything. All the time already spent, the hours expanding and recoverable at any given moment. They also represent time to come, in the form of the books he hasn't got round to reading yet. They stand for hundreds of hours of perfect happiness. Hours lying more or less still and content, with a cat sprawled on top of you, of course."

Paul Magrs - source
Paul Magrs is the author of many books, written for all ages and in many different genres, including the Adventures of Brenda and Effie and numerous Doctor Who novels, radio plays, and short stories. However, this is his first foray into memoirs. He taught novel writing in the MA program in Creative Writing at UEA, and then at Manchester Metropolitan. Paul lives in Manchester, England, with his partner, Jeremy, and is now a full-time writer. 

Paul Magrs first shared the story of Fester through his blog and Facebook page and then Fester's story came to life through the book, THE STORY OF FESTER CAT. For more on Paul Magrs, check out his blog, HERE. You can also find him on Facebook, HERE and Twitter, HERE.  

To purchase a copy of THE STORY OF FESTER CAT, click the photo below:

To purchase a copy of WELCOME HOME, BERNARD SOCKS, click the photo below:

Thanks to the author for sending a copy of this book for the purpose of my review. This review is my honest opinion. I was not compensated in any way for this review. If you choose to purchase the books 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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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Product Review: Starry String Lights and Globe Lights from Divine LED

I am thrilled to share this fun string of lights with you from Divine LED. These lights are teeny tiny and are on a bendable, shapeable wire that is easily wound around items or laid across a mantel. I used these lights on our basement staircase banister. I wound the string of lights along with my greenery and it was lovely.

There was plenty of string to wind all the way through the spindles and then back. The only downside? That the lights had to be plugged in. I would love to use these above my kitchen cabinets, but I can't plug them in anywhere. If these lights were battery operated, I would have many more uses for them

I was surprised how bright the lights were and my husband commented how much he liked having them on the banister as it really brightened up the stairway....and was pretty. For tiny bulbs, they put out a lot of light.

I had also considered putting these inside a hurricane with a candle and tulle, but again, since they are not battery operated, that option wasn't going to work. But, aside from that, I really liked these lights and besides using them at Christmastime, I hope to find other opportunities to bring them out.

I was also sent a box of these Globe Lights. I have been wanting to string lights on my porch but just haven't gotten around to it. Even though I didn't take a picture, these globe lights are the perfect length for the east or west side of my porch. I had my son help me hold them up and plugged them in and they are just what I have been looking for. I am anxious to hang these up as soon as the weather turns warm this spring.

I am thrilled with both of these lights and highly recommend Divine LED for all your specialty lighting needs.  To see more of these products, click HERE or HERE.  

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Thanks to Divine LED for sending these lights to me 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 these products through the above photo links, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Winner of Angela Correll Prize Package

Using, I have chosen a winner for the GUARDED Prize Package. It took nearly 48 hours, but I finally heard from the winner. The winner is Annette from Dayton, Washington. Thanks to all of you for entering!

If you didn't win and want to purchase the book, click the photo above. You can also visit to find out more about her Kentucky Soaps and Such Shop.

True Random Number Generator  17

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

A Child's Introduction to Culture Around the World

By: Carole P. Roman

Illustrated By: Kelsea Wierenga

Published: November 24, 2015

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform


I have read several books set in Italy lately and it has only added to my desire to travel there. I was thrilled to see Italy featured in Carole Roman's series of books focused on other countries. Each book shares about the culture, the people, families, food, and the language.

Most of the Italy book focuses on Rome since it is the capital and has many unique sites and history connected to it. Combining illustrations with actual photos of the place give the reader a better idea of what it actually looks like. The illustrations are very well done, keeping to the culture of the people.

I actually learned something in the book about International Women's Day. I had no idea it was an actual holiday in Italy. I may have to enact a day off for that in my own home this year!

I am thrilled with this informative and fun series of books for kids. The descriptions and detailed photos help kids get excited for learning about all the places that make our world so great.

If you would like to see all the other books by Carole P Roman that I have reviewed on my site, just click her name below the post in the labels.  

Award winning author Carole P. Roman is a former teacher turned businesswoman. She has successfully run a family business with her husband. Her most favorite job is being a grandmother to her many grandchildren. She currently lives on Long Island with her husband. Carole has written several books for children including the IF YOU WERE ME AND LIVED IN...series as well as a fiction series for children, CAPTAIN NO BEARD involving lots of fun adventure and imagination. For more on Carole, visit her website, caroleproman.comYou can see all of Roman's books by clicking, HERE.

If you would like to purchase a copy of IF YOU WERE ME AND LIVED IN...ITALY, click the photo below

I will be linking up with Booking Mama's Kid Konnection on Saturday. Click HERE to see other great posts related to children's and YA books.

Thanks to the author for sending 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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Thursday, January 21, 2016

Book Review: Save My Place By Olivia deBelle Byrd


By: Olivia deBelle Byrd

Published: September 1, 2014

Publisher: Mercer University Press

Historical Fiction

It seems most of my fictional reading is either set in the present day or during WWI or WWII. But, this lovely story set in the south during the 60's and 70's captured my heart. It's lesson on having faith in all circumstances reminded me that you can overcome even the most difficult of tragedies and still find joy.

Elisabeth was raised by loving parents in the panhandle of Florida. Since I love this area and have traveled there often, it was easy to imagine the places, the weather, and the culture of the people in this story. After some relationship failures, Elisabeth finally meets her prince charming, Kincaid, a graduate of West Point and well-respected in the military. Elisabeth is an elementary teacher and loves building her life with Kincaid. But, not everything is picture perfect for them. Eventually, Kincaid is sent to Vietnam to serve in the war and life is forever changed for the two of them. Elisabeth shares her struggles in letters to Kincaid and the reader sees Elisabeth experience joy, heartbreak, successes, and the love of friendship.

The letters Elisabeth wrote to Kincaid were my favorite part of this whole story. Her personality, naivety, and zest for life showed through each letter. But I wish there had been letters from Kincaid to her as part of the story. I am quite sure her letters to him were a salvation during his time in Vietnam.

This story is elegant, romantic, sweetly old-fashioned, and one that you could share with your grandmother. Elisabeth inspires us to find the good, stay strong in adversity, and remember to stay positive. You will laugh and cry and be sad their story is over when you reach the last page. Olivia deBelle Byrd is a witty and talented writer!

Olivia deBelle Byrd - source
Olivia deBelle Byrd is the third generation of her family to call Panama City, Florida, home where she resides with her husband, Tommy. Byrd has a penchant for turning ordinary happenings into entertainment. The result was her first book of humorous essays, Miss Hildreth Wore Brown: Anecdotes of a Southern Belle, winner of the Florida Publishers Association Book Awards. Find out more about Olivia deBelle Byrd by checking out her website, HERE. You can also find her on Facebook, HERE, and Twitter, HERE

To purchase a copy of SAVE MY PLACE, click the photo below:

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Thanks to the author for sending a copy of this book to me 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 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Product Review: Live Ultimate Facial Sunscreen

Live Ultimate is proud to have some of the safest, most effective products on the market. Live Ultimate is more than just skincare, but is concerned about creating the best products to serve the natural skincare market.  

Live Ultimate Facial Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Tinted Primer protects against damaging UVA and UVB radiation while nourishing and feeding the skin. This product is free of chemical UV absorbers, parabens, sulfates, synthetic dyes, and artificial fragrances. 

Since I live in Iowa and don't get to see much sun in the winter, I decided to wait and try out this product during our Christmas break trip to Florida. I loved how the product came out like a mousse and the tint was the right tone for my skin. I expected this product to be light since the website's description of the product states that it is non-oily, non-greasy, and non-sticky. Unfortunately, as soon as I started to apply the product to my face, it became thicker and heavy. I have oily skin and this product was quite greasy and sticky on my face. I stuck with it and used it every day on my face whether we were outside in the sun or not. I continued to feel like my skin was greasy and didn't like how the makeup looked on my face with this underneath. It did protect my skin from the sun as I didn't have any burns on my face after spending several hours in the sun. 

After we returned home, I used it again in our cold, dry weather just to see if it was the humidity that was causing the product to feel so greasy. But, again, it was too heavy and greasy for me. This just isn't the product for my skin.

For consumers that are concerned about using safe, vegan products, this is something that you may want to try. At $48 for a 1.7 oz bottle, it is an average price compared to other high-quality facial products. It isn't just a sunscreen but also an anti-aging product that repairs damaged skin while providing sun protection.

This product isn't for me, but plenty of other women have been thrilled with Live Ultimates products. To find out more, check out their website, HERE. You can also find their products on Amazon, HERE.

To purchase the Live Ultimate Facial Sunscreen, click the photo below:

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Thanks to the company for sending their product to me 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 product through the above link, I may receive a small commission without you having to spend a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Book Review: The Newsmakers By Lis Wiehl


By: Lis Wiehl with Sebastian Stuart

Published: January 19, 2016

Publisher:  Thomas Nelson


Fans of Fox News know that Lis Wiehl doesn't shy away from hard-hitting news and isn't afraid to ask the questions the viewers want to hear the answers to. In THE NEWSMAKERS, she has created a reporter with the same drive to get to the truth of the story.

Erika Sparks has been chosen by Nylan Hastings to be the new face of Global News Network (GNN). Nylan created the network and runs it himself after making billions on a video game that he created. Now as a leader in the news world, he wants to be the best including hiring the best reporter and newscaster he can find. On Erika's first live shoot to interview the Duchess of Cambridge, the Staten Island Ferry crashes into the port, on live TV while Erika is reporting. GNN's ratings spike and Erika becomes an instant household name. Later, while interviewing a potential presidential candidate, another incident happens, live, during her interview. Is this all a coincidence or is there an evil force behind all these incidents. As Erika, ever the reporter, digs deeper into the accidents, she finds that not only herself but everyone close to her could be in danger.

This fast-paced book, even with its predictability, kept me turning the pages with quickening breaths. Even though I guessed the root cause of the casualties in the story, there was more that I couldn't have imagined. Some of the scenarios were quite disturbing and makes me cautious of our future. I have no doubt that some of these types of situations are occurring already.

Wiehl takes you into the heat of the action in the newsrooms and shows you the backstabbing, the favors, and the deals that are made on a given news day. Wiehl takes current stories ripped from the headlines and inserts them into Erika's life as a reporter making the reader think that much of this could be happening in our world today. Wiehl shows the reality of stardom and how quickly it can be achieved or taken away by the next upcoming star.

 Erika is a flawed, yet likable character that the reader will root for and worry about. Erika's past makes her real to the reader and backs up her driven character. Even if the situations she puts herself in feel a bit far-fetched, Wiehl pulls you into the storyline so effortlessly that you ignore it and focus on how Erika is going to get out of this mess.

Current news stories and a fast-paced suspenseful thriller make this a great read for mystery readers. Wiehl is known for her other series of mysteries and she leaves the ending of THE NEWSMAKERS open for the reader to want to know more about Erika's next story.

Lis Wiehl
Lis Wiehl is the New York Time bestselling author of over a dozen novels. She is a Harvard Law School graduate and has served as a federal prosecutor in the state of Washington and as a tenured faculty member at The University of Washington School of Law. She is currently a popular legal analyst and commentator for the Fox News Channel. For more about Lis Wiehl, visit her website, HERE. You can also follow her on Facebook, HERE, and Twitter, HERE.

If you would like to purchase THE NEWSMAKERS, click the photo below:

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Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy the 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 

Monday, January 18, 2016

My One Word for 2016

Last year, I chose One Word that was my focus for 2015. I wrote it down in places that I would see it every day. When I had decisions to make I reflected on my One Word and whether my decision would affect what I wanted to achieve. Last year's One Word was "Balance". I was completely out of balance in my life and needed to regain control in numerous areas. I really believe that I did so much better "balancing it all" and even though it isn't perfect, I know I am much more balanced than I was in 2014. To see my post from last year, click HERE.

I tossed around several different words for the last few weeks, trying to see if I kept seeing one, kept hearing it in my mind, praying over the words, and waiting for a sign. It didn't come right away like I expected it too.  In fact, I'm half-way through January and I've finally felt like NOW my One Word is clear.

My One Word is..................................... BEGIN

To begin, begin. 
William Wordsworth 

One day last week, I came across this quote and it made me stop. Of course, to must begin. It was that light-bulb moment.  I had several of them while reading TAMING THE TO-DO LIST a couple months ago. See my post about it HERE. I realized while reading this book, that I have a problem with procrastination and starting projects. I put off the hard ones, constantly moving them to the next list and the next one while crossing off the small, easy tasks so I feel like I am accomplishing something. But, those big tasks are still looming over my head. But, since I've read that book, I have realized that just beginning is the battle. Once I start, I plow through and finish the job. I just need to begin.

Begin to proceed to perform the first or earliest part of some action; commence; start:

This definition sounds optimistic and refreshing. Every day is a new beginning, a fresh start, a do-over. But, for some reason beginning can be difficult for me. Maybe it is that what is ahead is unknown, maybe I'm tired, maybe I don't know how to begin or what my next steps should be. 

I've struggled with beginning a new book because I am worried it won't live up to my expectations.

I have a hard time beginning to write a review because the words aren't coming easily.

I have big projects that seem overwhelming so rather than starting them, I just keep moving them from list to list. But, beginning it, is better than ignoring it and not doing it at all.

I need to workout and if I just begin, it goes by fast, but beginning is the hard part. 

Just beginning doesn't require me to be perfect or to finish the job right away or even without mistakes. I just need to begin it. 

God even spent seven days creating the Earth. He had a huge task in front of him and He knew he couldn't finish it all in one He broke it down into parts....creating darkness and light, waters and land, plants and animals, and humans. He spent six days completing his tasks, but to do that he had to...BEGIN. 

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. ~ Genesis 1:1

Your beginning will seem humble, so prosperous will your future be. ~ Job 8:7

The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride. ~ Ecclesiastes 7:8

All of these verses inspire me to begin and I'm am hoping that this is the year I begin AND finish all those things hanging over my head.
  • Organizing our mud room
  • Making my heirloom tray
  • Hanging up photos on the wall
  • Starting the boys' t-shirt quilts
  • Repotting my household plants
These are just a few projects that have been on my to-do list for over a year and are just waiting for me to........BEGIN.

What tasks to you need to begin? Are they as small as unloading the dishwasher or starting a load of laundry? Or is it as big as remodeling a room or painting the walls or rekindling a broken relationship? 

I'm am looking forward to starting 2016 with a new beginning.....a new way to.......BEGIN. 

Did you choose a One Word? If so, share it with me! 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

#52ListProject - Catching Up

I purchased the book, The 52 Lists Projectfor my 43rd birthday in October. This book focuses on weekly journaling based on lists.  I love making lists and thought this sounded like a great way to remember a year. I plan to complete  a list every week for this next year. Even though the journal begins in Winter with Week 1, I started my list during Fall with Week 40. So, I'll be moving through the book a bit backwards, which is hard for my organized brain, but I didn't want to be writing about winter topics in spring or summer in winter.

I'll be sharing my lists here. To see my previous lists, click on the tag 52 Lists Project at the bottom of this post.  It's my hope that by sharing my lists, you'll get to know me a bit better and maybe be reminded of something that brings you joy!  Some weeks the topics may be too personal to share completely on here, but I'll at least tell you about the lists and some of the things on it. 

I've gotten behind on sharing my lists with you, but I am keeping up with writing them in my journal. So, I'm going to share Lists 44, 45, and 46 with you today.

List 44 is all about the Words that Warm My Spirit. I quickly knew some of those words that I just love to say and hear. They incite emotion and make you feel good if someone says them about you. At the end of each list, the author offers an idea to expand on that week's list. This week's action plan is to highlight the top five words that resonate the most with your experiences this past year. Then to underline them those top five that I want to focus on and experience in the year ahead.  I will mark those with an * after them.

Breathe *
Love *
Thank You
Appreciate *
Refreshing *

List 45 shares my Ideal Holiday Season. Honestly, when I made this list I was feeling extremely overwhelmed with my schedule and all that I had to do to prepare for the holidays. My spirit wasn't very Christmassy and I didn't come up with very many items. But, when I look back on my list, I may not have experienced all of them in the way I expected to, but I did have a glorious holiday. The action plan for this week was to choose three ways that I can prep to make it my most peace-filled, joyful and celebratory season ever. Either by changing my attitude, finding calm or simply planning it out. There were a few of the items that I wasn't able to do, but cutting them out allowed me to spend more time doing other things, and there is always next year, right?

Slower paced days
Time with friends and family
Seeing friends and family from far away
Giving gifts
Baking favorite treats
Watching favorite Christmas movies
Driving around to see Christmas lights
Some beach time, which I got this year!

List 46 shares about my Greatest Comforts. The action plan is to combine as many of these things into one magical and soul-filling experience.  I'm waiting for our next snow day to experience some of them! 

When my whole family is home
My bed
Hy husband's arms around me
Hugs from my kids
Conversations with my favorite people
Money in the bank
Gas in the tank
Knowing my family and I am protected in case of tragedy
A fuzzy blanket in front of the fire

If you would like to purchase a copy of THE 52 LISTS PROJECT, click the photo below:

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Friday, January 15, 2016

Children's Book Review: I Want to Eat Your Books By Karin Lefranc


By: Karin Lefranc

Illustrated By: Tyler Parker

Published: September 22, 2015

Publisher: Sky Pony Press


Zombie shows and movies are quite popular among adults and now they have entered popularity among the younger population as well. In fact, at my daughter's school, they did a social studies lesson with a zombie theme and the kids loved it.

This picture book for the youngest readers encourages a love of reading with a silly theme, a zombie who eats books. A new student, a zombie, his fellow classmates a little unsure of their safety until they realize that all he wants to gobble up are their books. He doesn't care what genre it is or its size, he just keeps gobbling through the books, eating them one by one. Then the whole class gets to go to the library and the zombie is in book-chomping heaven....until he spies one book. Will that book change his diet and turn him into a book READER rather than a book EATER?

Lefranc uses a rhyming scheme to tell this silly story and does it quite well. The words flow easily as a reader and none of them appear as a stretch to make the rhyme work. Parker's illustrations are vivid and large, filling the entire page. If I were still doing storytime at our library, this would make a great book to read out loud to the kids with plenty of opportunities for expression in your reading.  This is one I'll be keeping in my substitute bag to read when I am in the lower elementary classes.

Karin Lefranc - source
Karin Lefranc grew up all over the world, living in Sweden, South Africa, and the United Kingdom, but she moved to the United States to attend Bard College in New York. She now lives in Connecticut with her three girls and one boy, all who love devouring books in all shapes and sizes. This is Karin's debut picture book. For more on Karin, check out her website, HERE. You can also find her on Facebook, HERE and Twitter, HERE.

To purchase a copy of I WANT TO EAT YOUR BOOKS, click the photo below:

I will be linking up this review on Booking Mama's Kid Konnection. Every Saturday, other bloggers share their links to children's and YA book related posts.

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Thanks to the author for sending 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