Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Book Review: Texas Blue

Texas Blue
Texas Blue
By Jodi Thomas
Berkley Books, 2011
English, 336 pgs

Gambling man Lewton Paterson wants to marry into a respectable family. After fleecing a train ticket, Lewt makes his way to Whispering Mountain. But seducing a well-bred woman is hard, and Lewt realizes that to entice a McMurray sister, he'll need to learn a thing or two about ranching-and love.

Over the past year I've really become a fan of Ms. Thomas' work. This is not something I would  have picked up off the shelf to purchase and read this time last year. However, after reading and thoroughly enjoying a couple of her books prior to this one, I'm glad I was asked to read and review this one.

The story is really engaging and the ending did leave me with questions I want answered. I really, really hope I can guess what the next Whispering Mountain book will be about. I'm dying to know what happens with the other sisters and Duck. I'm also curious about other books which relate to the Whispering Mountian series. I've got some reading to do I think...

Anyway, the story is based on a working horse ranch and that was really cool for me since we had horses when I was growing up. Granted, I didn't do the work with them but I still loved my Charlie Horse (yeah, I know...strange name. I also had a cow named Matilda.). The only thing I wanted more of was tension between the suitors for the girls. It would have been pretty cool to have them fight over one of them or something, but it really wouldn't have worked in the story I guess.

I think I've discovered a new genre of book that I'm going to be obsessed with for a while. I read it in two days and it wasn't that I couldn't put it down. It was more that I didn't want to put it down.

Jodi was kind enough to send me some information about the book:

From the first page I had a great time with TEXAS BLUE.  It opens with two friends parting ways one stormy night in Austin.  Duncan McMurray, a Texas Ranger, is off to fight at the border and Lewt, a gambler, plans to find a wife while his friend is away.  Lewt knows if his friend finds out he plans to court one of his cousins Duncan, or Duck as the girls call him, would be furious.  Lewt is a wonderful friend, but a gambler would never be husband material.  Only, Lewt is willing to do whatever it takes, including learn about ranching and proper manners, to find a wife.
What he finds is Emily McMurray who can run a huge ranch, but is shy around men.  Lewt has to learn that in the end it’s what she wants and needs that will make her happy…and what the lady wants is him.  Only his skills can save Duncan and he hopes to win her heart.
TEXAS BLUE is filled with adventure and laughter.  The proper young ladies are not what Lewt expected.  The raid at the border is based on a raid that happened in 1875 that the Texas Rangers still talk of, though today the line between fact and legend blurs.  When I mixed the two stories running at once, they made a great mix.
I know my readers are going to love this story as much as I loved writing it.  For those of you who would like more about what was happening at the ranch before Lewt arrives, check my website  www.jodithomas.com and read two chapters that had to be cut from early in the book.  Remember, they haven’t been edited so jump over the misspellings.

There is a video trailer available HERE if you'd like to watch it. 

I received an advance copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review.

Monday, March 28, 2011

National Volunteer Week

Do you have someone in your life who gives so unselfishly of their time and energy that you wish you could do something to honor them? Carolina Pad and VolunteerSpot.com are teaming up for National Volunteer Week to honor those who work for others with no expectation of payment.

VolunteerSpot is a FREE online resource for volunteers to organize events, a soccer season, church fundraiser and many, many more other volunteer events. VolunteerSpot's FREE online signup sheets make it easy for anyone to schedule and coordinate parent volunteers  -- say goodbye to reply all email and clipboard sign up sheets this spring!

They are teaming up on an awesome giveaway as well. In this contest your can enter to win a Carolina Pad gift certificate for yourself and a volunteer and up to 20 notebooks for their organization.  They are asking contest participants to tell them why their special volunteer is the best and deserves to win!

I personally know one woman, Deneen Tieman, who embodies the spirit of being a volunteer. She is not only a Sunday School teacher in our church, she is the site coordinator for Christian Women's Job Corp in our town. She is also our decorator for Vacation Bible School and I've never seen it done as well as she does it.

The purpose of CWJC, a ministry of WMU, is to provide a Christian context in which women and men in need are equipped for life and employment; and a missions context in which women help women and men help men. Women and men receive training in life skills and job readiness. Often computer skills are taught as well. Each ministry is customized to meet the needs of the participants and their community.

Deneen works long hours coordinating classes, volunteers, an antique store which is their site project and a diner where the ladies can work. She does all this while raising two amazing children. I'm proud to call her a friend.

Carolina Pad will be sending myself and Deneen a notebook in exchange for posting about their giveaway. No additional compensation has been received.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Book Review: The Convenient Groom

The Convenient Groom (A Nantucket Love Story)
The Convenient Groom (A Nantucket Love Story)
By Denise Hunter
Thomas Nelson, 2011
English, 320 pgs


She wrote the book--literally--on finding the right mate. But does she really understand what love's about?
Five hours before her Nantucket beach wedding--and on the eve of her big book launch--celebrity marriage counselor Kate Lawrence has everything in place.
Everything, that is, but the groom. She might not have a career, either, when her nationwide audience finds out their marriage guru has been left at the altar.
Enter Lucas Wright, who offers to stand in for the missing husband-to-be and marry her. Kate's desperate enough to agree--although she's sure this Mr. Wright is completely wrong for her. Can they pull it off? And why would Lucas marry her in the first place?
With her life spinning out of control, Kate wonders what good her carefully laid plans are if they only lead to chaos. Could it be that "Dr. Kate" doesn't know the first thing about love? When she seeks God's will instead of her won, Kate finally discovers true and lasting love.

What first got my attention is that there is a quote on the cover from Colleen Coble, who has become an author I truly enjoy, stating "if you love Karen Kingsbury or Nicholas Sparks, this is an author you'll love". It had me there...

The book is a quick read. I read it in one day. There isn't really anything surprising in the plot and you can kinda guess what's going to happen. But it was still a good read and the characters are sweetly flawed. I have a feeling I know who the next Nantucket Love Story will focus on and I hope I'm right because it would be a fun story!

The plot of jilted-bride-needs-stand-in-groom isn't anything new and it really makes for great tension between characters. I also like that it switches point of view between Lucas and Kate and that you get to "read the thoughts" of each character. That made it more fun to see what they were going through separately and together.

I received a copy of the book in exchange for a review. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Book Review: An Anchor for the Soul

An Anchor for the Soul: Help for the Present, Hope for the Future
An Anchor for the Soul: Help for the Present, Hope for the Future
By Ray Pritchard
Moody Publishers, 2011
English, 192 pgs

People have honest doubts and questions about God that deserve solid answers. How do we explain the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a way we can all understand? Ray Pritchard has updated this best-selling presentation of the gospel in a clear, straightforward way using simple language and clear Scripture references.

An Anchor for the Soul is written with doubters, seekers, and skeptics in mind. In a clear, straightforward presentation, he answers questions such as: What is God like? How can I know Him? Who is Jesus and what did He do? What does it mean to be a Christian? Through stories and illustrations, Pastor Pritchard very personally, yet gently, challenges his readers with the Good News of Jesus Christ.

This is a simple, easy to read, explanation of the Gospel of Christ. I've actually been reading one section a day to my 4 year old son and he's starting to understand, I think. This is a book that needs to be given to those you know who are searching for significance or have undergone something which makes them question God and maybe rebel against Him.

I like that each chapter as "going deeper" questions and there is a chapter about the steps for the new believer. Great book.

I received a copy of the book for review purposes. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review.

Book Review: Glimpses of My Friend the King

Glimpses of My Friend the King
Glimpses of my Friend the King
By James Howard
BookSurge Publishing, 2004
English, 98 pgs

Who is Jesus Christ? After 2000 years, why are we still asking that question? Can it be that this all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful person is still intersecting the lives of people today? Inspirational author James Howard says “Yes!” In Glimpses of My Friend the King, the dynamic and life-changing person of Jesus Christ is presented through a series of powerfully moving short stories, each one revealing a new aspect of this complex yet approachable person. Topics such as the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, spiritual warfare, emotional healing, the Bema Seat, and the nature of a personal relationship with the King of Kings are all explored in this fresh and poignant look at the unchanging Son of God. Whether you already know Him or not, a deeper appreciation of Jesus Christ awaits you in Glimpses of My Friend the King. Glimpses of My Friend the King is intended for readers of all ages. James Howard, part-time author and long-time friend of Jesus Christ, first released Glimpses of My Friend the King in 2004. He decided to re-release it with the success of his novel What So Proudly We Hailed last year. He has three other novels under his belt, as well as numerous plays and poems and other short fiction. He currently lives in Charleston, SC.

This is a collection of 8 short stories. Each focuses on a different part of Christ. The first, Airship Dreams, is a beautiful picture of how much Christ cares about the things we deem to be important. The second, Crowns, is a moving reminder that any glory we receive is to be given to Jesus and not for us to keep. I won't spoil the other stories for you. But you do need to read them. I may be just in the "ministry mind" right now, but I can see these as dramas for impacting a congregation on Sunday or at camps or something. Bravo to wonderfully written stories and pictures of our Savior which are so vivid and touching.

I received a copy of the book for review purposes. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review.

Book Review: Transforming Prayer

Transforming Prayer: How Everything Changes When You Seek God's Face
Transforming Prayer: How Everything Changes When You Seek God's Face
By Daniel Henderson
Bethany House, 2011
English, 236 pgs.

Praying Christians are hungry to learn how to connect with God in a way that takes them beyond the typical grocery-list approach. Transforming Prayer explores the profound difference between seeking God's hand (what he does for people) and seeking God's face (who he really is). With captivating stories of the transformative power of personal worship and its connection with prayer, this book equips readers with practical tools for a more effective personal and corporate prayer life.

Last night my husband summed this up at our prayer meeting last night by saying "God is much more interested in working out tings IN us, than He is in working things out FOR us."

This is a really great, timely book. We've been praying so much for specific things, but the only prayer that works 100% of the time is "Thy Will Be Done". We've also realized that a lot of our prayer lately has been more of a grocery list and begging than praising and listening.

I'm passing it along to the leaders at our church and hope to see a church transformed by transformed prayer.

I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. No additional compensation has been received.

Finally Back!

Due to circumstances beyond my control, I haven't been able to do much the past few weeks on my reviews and stuff. Everything is getting back to normal and I'm working diligently to get back on track!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I'm going crazy!

For the past several weeks I've not had Internet access during the day. I'm going to go crazy. I have missed so many surveys and coupons and goodies...

Friday, March 11, 2011

Book Review: 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart

 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart: Boost Metabolism, Lower Cholesterol, and Dramatically Improve Your Health

21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart: Boost Metabolism, Lower Cholesterol and Dramatically Improve Your Health
By Neal D. Barnard, MD
Grand Central Life & Style, 2011
English, 368 pgs

The Fast Track Plan to Lose Weight and Get Healthy

For years, Dr. Neal D. Barnard has been at the forefront of cutting-edge research on what it really takes to lose weight and restore the body to optimal health. Now, with his proven, successful program, in just three short weeks you'll get fast results - drop pounds, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, improve blood sugar and more. With Dr. Barnard's advice on hoe to easily start a plant-based diet, you'll learn the secrets to reprogramming your body quickly:

  • Appetite Reduction: Strategically choose the right foods to naturally and easily tame your appetite.
  • Metabolism Boost: Adjust eating patterns to burn calories faster for about three hours after each meal.
  • Cardio Protection: Discover the powerful foods than can reduce cholesterol nearly as much as drugs do in just weeks.

Whether you are one of the millions who are anxious to get a jumpstart on weight loss or who already know about the benefits of a plant-based diet buy have no idea how or where to start, this book is the kickstart you've been waiting for. Complete with more than sixty recipes, daily meal plans for the 21-day program, tips for grocery shopping, and more, this book will teach you how to make the best food choices and get your body on the fast track to better health.

I like the theory behind this diet plan. The science seems to be sound. I've been trying to incorporate more fruits and veggies into our diets. But man, Sonic calls my name with a greasy voice that's hard to ignore. This diet advocates all plant based foods and absolutely no animal based foods and almost no oils.

The tone of the book, many times, can be condescending and I can almost picture the author saying "you silly meat-eaters, I have this all figured out...just do this and you'll never want meat again".

There are so many recipes in the back that I really want to try. I like that he advocates a jump-right-in-with-both-feet method. I thought I'd try to start it and work my way into it. He really does say that doing it gradually won't work. You have to do it all at once. He does advocate a few days before you start to test out foods and find the ones you want on the diet, because when you start, there is no option to fail. You do it, as my husband just so eloquently put it, "whole hog, without the hog."

At this point, I don't know if we're all in yet. We have two boys who are pretty picky and love their milk. I think I'm going to have to do it the gradual way for our family. Of course, I could always just replace what we use now and they'd never know it...

I received a copy of the book from The Hachette group for the purpose of a review. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review. 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

We Have Winners

The winner of the Yoplait Delights, as chosen by Random.org, is comment #32:

I follow on twitter as
frugalmomto4. #2

The winner of The Portable Pediatrician, as chosen by Random.org, is comment #2:

I would like the book because I love the Dr.Sears books.

Both winners have been emailed and have 48 hours to respond with an address or a new winner will be chosen.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Weekend Coupon Preview and MORE

The weekend preview is ready HERE. I missed getting my papers last weekend and you know I'm not going to miss this one!

Also, I have found a coupon for Robitussin HERE. You can sign up for local cold alerts and you will be able to print a $1 off coupon.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Book Review: We Be Big

We Be Big: The Mostly True Story of How Two Kids from Calhoun County, Alabama, Became Rick and Bubba
We Be Big: The Mostly True Story of How Two Kids from Calhoun County, Alabama Became Rick & Bubba
By Rick Burgess & Bill "Bubba" Bussey
Thomas Nelson, 2011
English, 240 pgs


The story of two unlikely radio hosts and what happened when they followed their faith and instincts.

They are the most unlikely broadcast stars imaginable, yet hundreds of thousands of loyal listeners start their day with them every morning.  They don't have "radio voices," don't spin the latest hit songs, don't do "shock jock" humor, horoscopes, or celebrity birthdays.  Instead, Rick Burgess and Bill "Bubba" Bussey-collectively known as "The Rick and Bubba Show" on scores of radio stations coast to coast-share real stories about real people, inviting their vast audience into their families and circle of friends to experience with them uproarious happenings and moving events with which they can all identify.  Beyond that, these two non-radio radio personalities break the biggest no-no for secular radio as they openly share in a forceful but non-threatening way their faith in Christ and their common-sense way of looking at the world.

Now, in We Be Big: The Mostly True Story of How We Became Rick & Bubba, they (with the assistance of best-selling and award-winning author Don Keith) share how this unlikely pairing came about and how the show found even higher levels of popularity, even as the two of them deliberately steered away from every accepted rule for radio success. Alternately hilarious and heartbreaking, this is also the highly personal story of two men who-like most of us-resisted stepping through the doors God opened for them, opting for the easier path when tested.  In this compelling story, "the two sexiest fat men alive" share their experiences and demonstrate how, with the help of faith and family, they have become a true blessing for so many.

I have never heard the Rick and Bubba Show. I want to though. I requested this book since I absolutely loved the Rick & Bubba's Big Honkin' Book of Grub which I reviewed last year. These guys have a sense of humor so like mine and my friends I'm sure they'd fit right in out here!

They say several times that they keep their radio show "real" and that is what this book is. I laughed out loud reading stories from their childhood about how the "seed" for radio broadcast was planted and I really enjoyed "getting to know" them. (I really don't know them, but the book is so honest and so open that I feel like I do.)

I love that they don't shy away from their faith and that they are open about their reliance on God and His plans. They are honest about trials they've faced and about triumphs they've enjoyed.

It's a really great read and I would recommend it to anyone.

I received a copy of this book for review purposes from Book Sneeze. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review.