Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

 I am about to get covered in cookie dough, glitter and wrapping paper. I will likely be buried in  Christmas books that my children want me read if I ever sit still.  I won't hear my networking and email notifications because the Christmas music will be blaring.  Towards evening I will be adding cake batter and frosting to the things I'm covered in because it will be time to bake our annual Happy Birthday Jesus cake ( and I will have some very enthusiastic helpers hence the messiness!) :)

Before all of this happens I just wanted to say:


"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6

"For to you is born this day in the town of David a Savior, Who is Christ the Lord!" Luke 2:11

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Weekend Book Reviews Part 2

I didn't write any reviews during NaNo and then I got caught up in Christmas preparations so instead of doing one massive book review post I decided to break it up into two parts. 

On Thin Ice by P.J. Sharon
Genre: YA/Contemporary

First thoughts:  I was expecting a book that centered around ice skating so I was surprised to find it was hardly even a back drop to the story, just another element that was swirled in.

What it's about:   Penny loves figure skating but she doesn't like living up to her mother's dreams, not her own.  Her home life is stressful so when she finds the perfect guy she lets him think she is older than her seventeen years.  Trouble follows.

What I liked:  The story kept my interest even though it wasn't at all what I was expecting it to be.  

What I didn't like:  This story raced from one drama to the next.  I think it covered everything that could possible happen to a teenage girl.  It reminded me of the ABC family show "Secret Life of an American Teenager".  I was a bit overwhelmed.

Who I'd recommend it to:  I'd recommend it to older teens and adults that like non stop serious issues mixed with teen drama.

What I'd want to know as a parent:  This book deals with a lot of mature themes, cancer, rape, homosexuality, teen age pregnancy, eating disorders ect.

I received an ARC of this book for review purposes through NetGalley.

Where Courage Calls by Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan

Genre: Christian/Historical

First thoughts: I grew up reading Janette Oke books.  Her Canadian West series was one of my favorites so I was excited to see she had a new one out.  This latest installment was everything I hoped it would be, sweet, inspiring and relaxing to read.

What it's about:  Beth Thatcher has grown up in a sheltered environment under the watchful eye of her mother.  When she takes a teaching position out west in a tiny mining town her horizons and her faith are stretched beyond what she was expecting.  

What I liked:  There are a lot of things to like about this book.  Beth changes from a rich sheltered girl to a woman of courage with a heart for others.  The setting was wonderful. I loved the town.  The people in it were unique and their struggles added depth to the story.  

What I didn't like:  There wasn't anything unexpected about this story.  In a way, that was good because it made it like the Janette Oke books I loved as a girl but part of me was hoping to be surprised.  

Who I'd recommend it to:  I think anyone who loves a very gentle and inspiring story with whispers of romance would love this book.

I received an ARC of this book to review from NetGalley.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Weekend Book Reviews

I'm trying something new with my book reviews, something with a bit more structure.  I'm also adding what my parental thoughts are if the book is intended for a YA or younger crowd as I'm realizing that how I feel about a story for myself and how I feel about handing it to my children are sometimes very different.

  Chasing Hope by Kathryn Cushman
Genre: Contemporary Christian

First thoughts:
When it comes to inspirational fiction I almost always prefer historical or fantasy stories.  That being said, I loved this book!  It is my favorite Christian contemporary to date.  

What it's about:
  Sabrina knew what God's plan for her life was from the time she was young.  She was going to be an Olympic runner and use her platform to reach others for Christ.  Life was going according to her plans until a tragic diagnosis stripped her of her dreams and possibly even her faith.   When Sabrina's path collides with a troubled teenage girl, she doesn't want to help her.  The girl, Brandy, has an incredible talent for running and Sabrina isn't sure if her heart handle seeing someone else have what she lost.

What I liked about it:
I think that the best part of this book was that it faced issues that are common but not often addressed in Christian literature.  A lot of books deal with salvation, faith and trusting God to direct your path.  This book had all of those things in it but it also dealt with Christians being judgmental to each other.  It is so important to know the facts before speaking negatively about someone and to remember that not everything is on the surface.  Everyone has battles we might not know anything about.

What I didn't like:  
 Sabrina was a bit annoying to me at first but as her faith grew I liked her a lot more than I initially thought.  

Who I would recommend it to:
I'd recommend this book to anyone who enjoys inspirational fiction.  It is a clean and gentle read with touches of romance.

I received a free copy of this book for review purposes from Bethany House publishing.

Switched by Cassie Mae 

Genre: New Adult/Contemporary

First thoughts:  It was oozing enthusiasm both from the characters and the writing itself.

What it's about:  It is about a love tangle (a mere triangle doesn't cover this story)!  Kayla is in love with a guy named Talon but Talon is dating her best friend Reagan.  Kayla turns to Talon's best friend Wesley, who just happens to like Reagan, hoping that the two of them can rearrange things a bit so that they can each have the relationship they are pining for.

What I liked:  I enjoyed the bubbly tone of this book.  Kayla's personality was so fun to read about and Wesley was the perfect, attentive, slightly awkward guy friend.  I didn't see the ending coming either, which is always a good thing!

What I didn't like:  While I wouldn't call this book overly steamy some of the situations, while funny, weren't my taste.  

Who I would recommend it to:  I think the romantic comedy crowd would love this story.  The author definitely knows how to make fluffy, fun romantic read.

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley for review purposes.  

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

Genre: young adult/ paranormal

First thoughts:  The writing is stunning, gorgeous and enough to make an aspiring writer want to cry and smile at the same time.  (Most of Maggie Stiefvater's books have that effect on me...)

What it's about:  I don't know how to explain this book without giving anything away.  It picks up where the Raven Boys left off.  While the first book focused heavily on Gansey and Blue, this one shows a lot more of Ronan who just so happens to be able to bring objects back from dreams.  

What I liked:  I love the depth of the characters.  How one book can have so many deep, rounded characters, I do not know.  It is amazing.  I love how more of their back grounds were revealed and how the creepiness seeped in from several different factors.  Noah is my favorite character with Blue a close second.  

What I didn't like:  It is not the sort of book that makes sense when you read it while chasing a two year old and answering hundreds of questions from the older children.  In other words, it has lots of threads to follow which I liked when I could truly focus on them and hated when I didn't have enough brain to devote to it.

Who I would recommend it to:  I would recommend it for older teens and anyone who likes unique twists on old legends.

What I'd want to know as a parent:  This book has a heavy dose of supernatural elements and a fair amount of language.

I received and ARC of this book for review purposes from NetGalley.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

What's Up Wednesday!

It's time for What's Up Wednesday!!!

What I'm Reading  I'm reading Just One Day by Gayle Forman.  I want to hop a train to Paris now but alas, I live in Florida.  I'm also reading Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo.  We won't even mention the review books I should be reading...  
  The kids and I are still reading Jotham's Journey for advent and Farmer Boy for school.  I can't wait for Christmas break when we don't have so many things to read for school.  I'm going to pick a read aloud book that has nothing to do with history at all, a fantasy perhaps.

What I'm Writing  I've been looking over my current WIP, trying to get the story flowing again.  I tried to write yesterday but technical problems took over.  I have them all sorted out now so today I should be good to go!  I have about 30k left in to reach the length I'm hoping for.  

What Inspires Me Right Now Christmas Cookies!  I have some healthyish , not Christmasy cookies cooking right now and I can't wait to make some decadent, non-healthy, totally decked out ones later this week.  To balance out my current inspiration I will add that I have also been inspired by working out with my husband.  He is more into circuit style workouts and I tend to go for yoga/dance/Pilates type of exercise paired with walking or running but trying something different and spending time together is wonderful.

What Else I've Been Up To  I've been standing in line at the post office with three small children.  Yup, I couldn't even get it all done in one trip so we went twice.  I don't recommend it.  It's a relief to have all of the presents in the mail though.  Now I can focus on making cookies and crafts and sparkly white play dough (since it is to hot here for snow and we need to make snowmen!).  
I'm still working on the Lego table I'm making.  The old finish was much harder to remove then I thought it would be but I am finally to the point that I can start painting it.  

I will be blogging sporadically throughout the next few weeks as there is no What's Up Wednesday in honor of the holidays.  


Monday, December 16, 2013

Bollywood Steampunk!

I was going to use a boring title for this post, something that included the words "book launch" but then I thought of the reason I was making this post at all.  It is because the words "Bollywood Steampunk" caught my eye. I find both of these things fascinating and the thought of them combined into a book made me stop and check it out. 
   I can't wait to read it!  I'm making myself check some books off of my massive TBR pile first...  I'm hoping it will be the motivation I need to get caught up!
While I'm waiting to read it I thought I could share my excitement and participate in the Third Daughter book launch.  Don't forget to scroll to the bottom of the post.  There is a giveaway!

Book & Author Details:

Third Daughter by Susan Kaye Quinn
(The Dharian Affairs Trilogy #1)
Publication date: December 13th 2013
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Steampunk

The Third Daughter of the Queen wants her birthday to arrive so she’ll be free to marry for love, but rumors of a new flying weapon may force her to accept a barbarian prince’s proposal for a peace-brokering marriage. Desperate to marry the charming courtesan she loves, Aniri agrees to the prince’s proposal as a subterfuge in order to spy on him, find the weapon, and hopefully avoid both war and an arranged marriage to a man she does not love.

  Third Daughter is the first book in The Dharian Affairs Trilogy (Third Daughter, Second Daughter, First Daughter). This steampunk-goes-to-Bollywood (Bollypunk!) romance takes place in an east-indian-flavored alternate world filled with skyships, saber duels, and lots of royal intrigue. And, of course, kissing.

Check it out on Goodreads.

Purchase:  Amazon   Barnes&noble  iTunes  kobo


Susan Kaye Quinn grew up in California, where she wrote snippets of stories and passed them to her friends during class. Her teachers pretended not to notice and only confiscated her stories a couple times.

Susan left writing behind to pursue a bunch of engineering degrees, but she was drawn back to writing by an irresistible urge to share her stories with her niece, her kids, and all the wonderful friends she’s met along the way.

She doesn’t have to sneak her notes anymore, which is too bad.

Susan writes from the Chicago suburbs with her three boys, two cats, and one husband. Which, it turns out, is exactly as a much as she can handle.

Author Links:

Friday, December 13, 2013

Celebrate the Small Things

This week I am celebrating thoughtful friends.
One of my very close friends got me this massive cup to help keep me awake during late night writing sessions.  So perfect!

I'm also celebrating a slower week after several crazy ones. 
 Oh, there is always plenty to do but not having as many outside things pressing in gave me time to enjoy the season with my family.

Have a great weekend!!!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The One Year Book of Amish Peace

    I love it when I find an author that inspires me not only with their work but with their life.  I remember reading Tricia Goyer's book Night Song long ago.  It was before I had children, before I had even met my husband and before I took my dream of being a writer seriously.  I loved that book.  I passed it to my friends.  I shared it with my mom.  I searched the local bookstore for more of her work.  Years later I was reading another one of her books and I noticed the author bio.  She was a writer, a homeschooling mom and, at that time, lived in Montana.  I was a homeschooling mom and I also lived in Montana.  I was inspired.

   When I had the opportunity to help promote her new devotional book I jumped on board.  I am so glad that I did!  Fiction might be my favorite type of book but life gets stressful, crazy and unbalanced.  Devotions can be hard to fit in.  This book is perfect.  The devotions are short enough that they aren't daunting, even on a busy morning and they are full of simple wisdom, Amish wisdom and scripture.  Tricia Goyer has always caught my attention by how open and relatable she is and this book is no exception.  I love it!

 Her website and blog are also full of information on parenting, Christian living and even writing. Her tips for writers was one of the first places I went when I decided to pursue writing.

It can be purchased at:
Amazon  Barnes and Noble  CBD

My Goodreads review

The One Year Book of Amish Peace: Hearing God's Voice in the Simple ThingsThe One Year Book of Amish Peace: Hearing God's Voice in the Simple Things by Tricia Goyer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Brief, to the point and written in a very relatable way, this book is becoming one of my favorite devotionals. Each devotion includes an inspirational quote, a prayer and a verse of scripture along with the devotion itself. I love how they tie in with the changing seasons! There are even a few recipes. This is the perfect book for those seeking to fit more scripture and a bit of a slower lifestyle into their day. I love starting my day with this book, my Bible and a cup of coffee. I highly recommend trying it!

I received a free copy of this book for review purposes.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Whats Up Wednesday

Its time for What's Up Wednesday!

What I'm Reading  
Does teaching my five year old to read count?  I've been doing a lot of that lately along with reading aloud to my kids.  Currently we are reading Jotham's Journey for advent and Farmer Boy as part of my older son's history.  I did manage to finish reading The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black.  Most people seem to love it and I honestly didn't.  I enjoyed the writing style, the characters and the world building but I didn't enjoy the blood.  I am not a blood and gore sort of girl and this book was full it (all cleverly and descriptively written which made my stomach all queasy even as I admired the writing).  I'm now reading Strait of Hormuz by Davis Bunn and I am dying to start Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo.

What I'm Writing  
I didn't write anything this week.  I got distracted by my new laptop...

What Inspires Me Right Now  
I've been finding family time to be very precious and inspiring.  My husband has had some time off for the first time in forever.  I love spending time together and watching him play legos with the kids.
    I have also been inspired by this month's YA Buccaneer's Truth or Dare challenge.

"This month, I dare you to disconnect. Limit your online activities as much as is comfortable for you. Turn off your phone. Read a real, physical book instead of the e-book version. Call a friend on the phone with an invitation to coffee. Give up Facebook or Twitter or blogging or Pinterest or whatever takes up more of your time than you'd like, takes you away from the people you love."

It got me thinking about the time that I waste on the internet.  I don't mean the time I am actively networking or connecting with friends and family.  I don't even mean the time that I spend looking up specific things on Pinterest.  I mean the time I spend looking at Facebook because real life feels to crazy and I want to hide, or the time I spend aimlessly looking through all the ideas on blogs and Pinterest just because its more fun to dream then it is to actually work towards dreams.  I also waste a considerable amount of time checking my phone for messages and emails. 
   I don't want to cut social media completely out of my life or stop checking my email but I do want use my time constructively.   I'm going to (attempt) to limit my Facebook, Twitter ect. by only checking it in the evenings when the kids are tucked in for the night.  My email will be more like twice a day but that is so much better than being tied to my phone.  Blogging is something I love and I feel that it helps me with my writing goals so I'm going to keep working on that, just at a pace that allows family time to be my priority.  I want my family to know that they come first, now and always.  
Feel free to hold me accountable and ask me how its going! (just don't do it on twitter or FB lol)

What Else I've Been Up To  
  Birthdays!  My oldest son turned 7 so we had a roller skating party for him.  He loved it!  I'm still working on the lego table.  My son knows I'm up to something but he hasn't figured out what yet.  
  I also got older this past week.  My husband surprised me with a new laptop for my birthday/Christmas present.  Not just any laptop  either. He got me the one I've been drooling over for months.  I was in shock for two full days!  It is so nice to have a laptop that has a decent battery and that doesn't freeze when I open up more than one tab (I've caught myself giggling at how fast I can switch from one tab to another!).  Now that I've played with it a few days it is time to use it to get back to my writing :)

  What have you been up to?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

What's Up Wednesday and IWSG!

Its time for What's Up Wednesday!

What I'm Reading  The last month was so busy that I didn't read nearly as much as usual. I finally read Rick Yancey's The 5th Wave though!  It took me about a quarter of the book to get to the place where it was hard to put down but I enjoyed it once the back story was in place and the events started moving forward.  I'm currently reading The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black and I'm still reading Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman.  I sat it down during NaNo and I'm ready to dive in and finish it.

What I'm Writing  I'm still drafting my NaNo book.  I'm trying to time the events in my story to coincide with those in the original fairytale in a way that keeps my main characters in the foreground.  I think its working but it takes a lot of thought to get it right.

What Inspires Me Right Now  I had a wonderful visit with my Mom a few weeks ago and our long chats over coffee are still inspiring me.  Talking in person is the best!  

What Else I've Been Up To  Pinterest hijacked my life.  I saw a pin where someone took an old end table and turned it into a lego table.  It looked perfect, not to big, but enough room for some serious building.  I decided that my son needed one for his birthday and I found a battered, yet solid wood, end table that even had lots of built in storage space.  The only problem is that since I homeschool I have my children with me all the time.  When am I suppose to hide for a secret project?  Yup. After bedtime I can be found out in the garage, clinging to the one patch of light, sanding up a storm. I was sanding by hand but a friend lent me an electric sander.  I'm so excited! 

I can't wait to see what everyone else has been up to this week!

Insecure Writer's Support Group

I completely forgot that it was IWSG time until I saw a fellow blogger's post!  This month my insecurities have mainly been about feeling inadequate and unoriginal.  I'd like to be that writer that readers go to when they want something unique, something full of emotion and unforeseeable twists, yet still lyrical and atmospheric.  Knowing what type of writer I want to be and becoming that writer are two very different things. Until I get where I want to be the only thing I can do it to keep writing and learning but sometimes it would be nice to know if I'm going in the right direction, if my work even has the potential to turn into what I want it to be.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Slowly Coming Back

   I didn't mean to disappear for the entire month of November but that is exactly what I did.  It was a smart move. The entire month was so full I could hardly keep up and that's without adding NaNo to the mix!  I didn't win NaNo but I did write 28k on my new project.  I'm not sure what is up with this story but it won't let me write it quickly.  The words sort of dribble out bit by bit.  I can usually write 1k in an hour or even 1.5k but this month it was more like 500 an hour.  Oh well.  I love this story.  I've been wanting to write it for a long time now and I love getting lost in the icy world I created. It is more complex than my previous work and the timeline has to be more exact as it takes place on the perimeter of an existing fairy tale.  I can't wait to get caught up on what all of you have been working on this past month!

   Before I go, I can't resist sharing a bit of what I've been hiding away to work on.
This is the blurb I put together before I started.  I ended up writing it in third person but this gives an idea of what it is about. 

"She was perfect.  Everyone knew it.  Even I knew it deep down.  Who would see me when someone like her was around?  I could change that.  I could make her nothing but a reflection of what she had been, or...  or I could make her reflect others back to themselves.  It would be like she did not even exist. "

This is a quote from the story itself.

“Why, why would you do that? How did you even know about me?”
“I was spying on Galina, of course. She too picked you ahead of Claire but she soon saw what everyone else did. A heart that was true. "