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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Getting To Know FreedomFactor.Org

Today I wanted to take a moment to spotlight:

This is Stan Ellsworth, host of American Ride, and he's working with Freedom Factor.org
to teach Americans about our history and help them read the U.S. Constitution. 
This is Freedom Factor.org's mission statement:

"We at Freedom Factor have a passion for our American Heritage and want to share it with the world. The United States Constitution is the centerpiece of this heritage. What makes America unique in world history is the emphasis on local government and written Constitutions. Written Constitutions mark 'a momentous advance in civilization and it is especially interesting as being peculiarly American.' To keep our civilization advancing we are asking you to do three simple things: Read the U.S. Constitution, get to KNOW it better, and SHARE it with others. Partner with us in our efforts to put a Pocket Constitution into the hand of every American. Let's together spread the message that protects us, promotes our happiness, and most importantly, brings us together."

Hear it from Mr. Ellsworth himself (This is the first of many videos that teach U.S. History):

This site is so great! I wish I had known about it sooner!

You can read the U.S. Constitution:

There's a great audio program that teaches kids about the U.S. Constitution:

And if you create an account there are videos that teach U.S. History:

In American politics right now, it seems like no one agrees on anything, and no one gets along. Many people have a "my way or the highway" attitude; consequently, there aren't many people on opposite sides of the aisle that work together. Is compromise a word anyone understands any more? When our Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution, it wasn't easy. There were differing opinions. There were strong emotions. There weren't even any examples of what they were trying to accomplish. Years ago I read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families by Stephen R. Covey. In it, Mr. Covey talks about how there's something even higher and better than compromise. When people really come together, it's not just my way, your way, or compromise; there's a fourth option. You take what person #1 wants and what person #2 wants, and you don't make either one of them compromise, but you have them come hand in hand and find another option. You create something completely different that fits the needs of both equally. (He gave an example of a young married couple that didn't have a lot of money. The husband wanted a new sofa, and the wife said that they couldn't afford one. To make it work, they bought an old sofa at a thrift store and they learned how to reupholster it....they both got what they wanted). That is what is missing in politics today, and I find that disheartening because coming together like that is what brought about the Constitution of the United States of America.

A couple of years ago I was trying to get my teaching license current after letting it expire. I took an American History class, and we talked about the making of the Constitution. I hadn't read it since high school (oops!). So I took the time to read and study the Constitution. I was amazed at how much I thought I knew, but didn't really know. There were a few things I thought were included in the Constitution, but aren't; and there were a few things in the Constitution that I didn't know were there. I love this project by Freedom Factor.org because I think it is so important for us as citizens to get back to the basics. We need to read and study our Constitution. We need to talk to each other. We need to discuss our differences in a way that uplifts each other. I think we all really want the same things, we just have different ways of getting there. If we take the time to talk to each other without vilifying or destroying, I think we'll see that we're not enemies; in fact, we're on the same team. Let's come together, find common ground, and help each other. It all starts with education. The more we learn about how our government works and the more we learn about each other, the more we see each other's individual worth, the better voters and leaders we become, and that results in a better run government. After all, to quote Abraham Lincoln, this is a "government of the people, by the people, for the people," so the people better know their Constitution!

Disclosure: I did receive a free Pocket Constitution from this organization for providing this spotlight. However, this does not sway my opinion. I think it's a great organization, and I'm excited to delve more into their site and resources in the future. 

Friday, October 6, 2017

Calling All Writers!!!

*Calling All Writers*

Occasionally I get asked what you need to do to get your book published. Well, here's a great solution!


has a writing contest going on right now.  The winner gets a publishing deal! Easy Peasy! All you need to do is click on the image below and enter your story into the contest. Your fictional story needs to be at least 20,000 words and it must be in English. Fanfiction is not allowed, and neither are short story collections. You may find all the rules on their site. Go enter your story!! I'd love it if one of my readers won!!

(Disclosure: I am an Inkitt.com affiliate, and do receive a monetary reward for stories submitted from my link. However, I really would love it if one of my readers won! ) 

*Updated! This post was first published on 2/17/17.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Forgotten Carols by Michael McLean

The Forgotten Carols
Michael McLean

I have heard about The Forgotten Carols by Michael McLean, but I have never actually seen
the production. I have a friend that goes every year as a family tradition; she loves it. This is what she says about it: 
I will be going this year, so I'm very excited! In the meantime, I have been asked to spread the
word about this year's production.


The Forgotten Carols stage performance tells the story of Connie Lou, a nurse whose empty life is changed when Uncle John, a new patient she is attending, recounts the story of Christ’s birth as told by little known characters in the nativity story. The accounts from the Innkeeper, the Shepherd and others help the nurse discover what the world has forgotten about Christmas, ultimately encouraging her to open her heart to the joy of this special season.



Michael McLean Quote

"THE FORGOTTEN CAROLS has been a gift I first received back in 1991 when the book and accompanying music was written and released to the public.  As with all good gifts, particularly one like The Forgotten Carols, comes a desire to share it with others…with the hope that they will “receive” the gift as I did;  Feeling the message and the love of the season in the context of the story and songs.  When I first started “performing” the story I thought it was my gift to the audience, but then I discovered that the more I tried to give it away the more it came back to me…a hundred fold.  Being able to bring the story to life with a team of talented people that truly have become “family” is another part of the gift that has profoundly blessed my life.  But WHAT MOST SURPRISES ME is how the presentation of this story with songs has grown, evolved and taught me things in the language that resonates so deeply with me.  Story & Song.   A couple of days ago, quite out of the blue, A NEW SONG, maybe we could call it a New Carol, just arrived.  I sat at the piano and it just poured out of me.  It really touched me because it captures what I think Uncle John would want most for Connie Lou (and the entire world, for that matter).  Just this morning I envisioned how this new carol could be presented during this year’s TOUR and I got goosebumps.  I can’t wait to share this gift I just received.  So, if you ask what The Forgotten Carols means to me, it means RECEIVING then SHARING then DISCOVERING the meaning of the gift, and then RECEIVING MORE, then SHARING MORE and then DISCOVERING more."  

(Utah, Idaho, Arizona, Washington, Texas, and New Mexico)

Disclosure: I was offered two free tickets to this event if I spotlighted it.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

[Book Review] Getting To The Place Where You Can Trust God With Anything: Even This by Emily Belle Freeman

Getting To The Place Where You Can Trust God With Anything

Getting To The Place Where You Can Trust God With Anything:
Even This
Emily Belle Freeman


"In Even This Emily Belle Freeman shares her own deeply personal experiences of feeling forgotten by God--from the fear of abandonment in a dark hospital room to the desperation that followed months of unanswered prayers. In a moment of honesty, she found herself asking the question she had been afraid to consider: 'Where is God in this?' Through biblical insight, genuine realness, and beautiful prose, Emily will help you discover how to:
  • Diminish the power of doubt by coming to understand why the place of deepest asking is where the believing begins.
  • Stop letting fear dictate the depth of your belief through daily reflections that will restore your confidence in God.
  • Let go of your need to control by discovering what is holding you back from being completely vulnerable to God.
Trust that God may have something different in mind for you--something better."

My Review:

This book could not have come at a better time! Many of my readers may know that my 15 year-old son has been very sick since last April. He's been to two ERs, enjoyed a four day hospital stay, had a feeding tube for over a month, has been to countless doctor appointments, and tried way too many different kinds of medicines. Nothing has really helped, and everyone seems clueless as to what is going on. This past week we finally got a few results and think we may now be on the right track to getting him better. However, if it's what we think it is then it will be a very long, slow process to recovery. The poor kid missed the last seven weeks of the last school year, and hasn't been able to go this year, so luckily he has an amazing home and hospital teacher that comes and helps him with his school work twice a week. Honestly, this has been the most difficult 5 1/2 months of my entire life. We are all exhausted. Physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted. All the time. Watching your child suffer so much for so long is heartbreaking. Our other three children have been champions through all of this. They are amazing, and I'm so proud of them! They are patient, loving, empathetic, and resilient. This trial  has definitely humbled me, and I've spent hours on my knees in prayer. I have to admit that there have been some dark days where I have wondered where God is in all of this. I've been able to trust God with lots of things in my life, but this one--this one I have tried to control. I hate not being in control of this situation!! Why can't I fix this? Well, after reading this book I know that I need to trust God with Even This situation. While my kids were fishing at a nearby lake yesterday, I was reading. There were several passages that I wanted to remember. I fished (haha!!) through my purse and found a post-it note. This is what my book looks like now:

I would have more, but I didn't start actually bookmarking the parts I liked until I was half way through the book. When I first started reading, the different chapters seemed random and unconnected; I was a tad bit confused. However, as the book progressed it all kind of came together, and I loved how Ms. Freeman explained everything. Her insights and examples are very personal and touching. It's easy to get caught up in your trials and think that everyone else has it good, but when you read her book you realize that everyone goes through difficult things. I thoroughly enjoyed learning from Ms. Freeman. She does a great job of breaking down well known biblical stories and helping you see the application from the story in your life. Here's an example from the book. The biblical story she is referring to is Joseph. His brothers threw him into a pit and eventually he was taken to Egypt as a slave. He was thrown into prison and ended up interpreting the Pharaoh's dream. Pharaoh was so impressed that he put Joseph in charge of storing the food during the good times in preparation for the upcoming times of famine. Joseph's brothers came (not knowing who he was, of course) and asked for food. Joseph was able to provide for his long-lost family because of the experiences he had been through.  

Joseph being able to provide for his family after many years was the miracle. So "the truth of it is that the trials are what enabled Joseph to be in the exact place God needed him to be. To provide the rescue. To prepare for the deliverance. To orchestrate the miracle God had in mind from the very moment Joseph was thrown into the pit." Looking at my (your) trial from this point of view puts it in a whole different perspective. I loved this book. It is a bit random at times, seemingly jumping from one experience to another, but in the end it gave me a better insight into the trial I'm going through, and it allowed me to realize that I'm not in control--thank goodness!!--God is in control, and he can see the whole picture. As a mom it's hard to let go of that control, but if I (we) can, then I'll (we'll) be able to see the miracle at the end. Thank you Ms. Freeman, for helping me see this long ordeal in a better way, and for helping me to trust God with Even This. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is suffering or going through tough times. Have faith! God is good, and he will take care of us if we put our trust in Him. 

Rating: PG (It's clean!)

Recommendation: YA and up

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

Also by Emily Belle Freeman:


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

[Book Review] The Confusion of Languages by Siobhan Fallon

Book Cover for The Confusion of Languages

The Confusion of Languages
Siobhan Fallon


"Both Cassie Hugo and Margaret Brickshaw dutifully followed their soldiers husbands to the US embassy in Jordan, but that's about all they have in common. After two years, Cassie's become an expert on the rules, but newly arrived Margret sees only her chance to explore. So when a fender bender sends Margaret to the local police station, Cassie reluctantly agrees to watch Margaret's toddler son. But as the hours pass, Cassie's boredom and frustration turn to fear: Why isn't Margaret answering her phone, and why is it taking so long to sort out a routine accident? With the Arab Spring rising beyond the embassy gates, Cassie begins to question not only her friend's whereabouts but her own role in Margaret's disappearance."

My Review:

I haven't been this intrigued by a book in quite awhile. Outside of the U.S., I've only been to Canada and Mexico, so to learn about living in Jordan was exciting; I felt like I was on an adventure. I got to travel to the Middle East while sitting on my couch; that's why I love reading so much! I have to say that I would definitely be like Cassie. I'm a rule follower. Margaret's personality was so different from mine that I cringed at some of the things she did, as I'm sure Cassie did. Sometimes I wish I were more like her, but I don't think that will ever happen. This book is well written. It is split by a present day story line and a past story line. I thought the transitions were well done, and I didn't have a hard time determining what time period I was in. How Cassie was able to find out about the back story was a little iffy, if you ask me. It definitely crossed the best friend line, but it made for a good story. I loved the descriptions of the people and places in Jordan, and I thought the characters were well developed and realistic. Would I want to move there? Nope, I'm quite content learning about it from my couch. The writing pulls you in and keeps you captive. I couldn't put it down. Until I got to the end. I did not like the end of this book. Sadly, the ending ruined it for me. It was quite a ride though, and I had truly enjoyed it until then. 

Rating: R (There is a lot of profanity, including many "f" words. There is some "intimacy" through discussion and innuendo. There is also a bit of violence.)

Recommendation: Adult (This book is not appropriate for YA or younger readers.)

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.) 

Friday, September 15, 2017

Touch by Courtney Maum

Courtney Maum


"Sloane Jacobsen is one of the world's most powerful trend forecasters (she was the foreseer of 'the swipe'), and global fashion, lifestyle, and tech companies pay to hear her opinions about the future. Her recent forecasts on the family are unwavering: the world is overpopulated, and with unemployment, college costs, and food prices all on the rise, having children is an extravagant indulgence. So it's no surprise when the tech giant Mammoth hires Sloane to lead their groundbreaking annual conference, celebrating the voluntarily childless. But not far into her contract, Sloane begins to sense the undeniable signs of a movement against electronics that will see people embracing compassion, empathy, and 'in-personism' again. She's struggling with the fact that her predictions are hopelessly out of sync with her employer's mission--and that her closest personal relationship is with her self-driving car--when her partner, the French 'neo-sensualist' Roman Bellard, reveals that he is about to publish an op-ed on the death of ['intimacy']...Despite the risks to her professional reputation, Sloane is nevertheless convinced that her instincts are the right ones, and she goes on a quest to defend real-life human interaction, while finally allowing in the love and connectedness she's long been denying herself. A poignant and amusing call to arms that showcases her signature biting wit and keen eye, celebrated novelist Courtney Maum's new book is a moving investigation into what it means to be an individual in a globalized world."

My Review:

Well, let's just say that I didn't even know what a trend forecaster was before I read this book. I had no idea that there were people who predicted things like skinny jeans and touch screens years before 
they become popular. I had also never heard of a Zentai suit. Have you? It looks like this, by the way:
Photo Credit: http://www.zentaitime.com/Fitted-Light-Blue-Fullbody-Shiny-Metallic-Zentai-Suit.html

Yep, a suit that covers your whole body, including your face. Now you know. You're welcome. I am the mom of four children, so I did not relate to Sloane at all. Because of the above Zentai suit, I didn't relate to Roman either. Dax was definitely not someone I related to. There were a few minor characters like Deidre, Jin, and Mina, along with Sloane's mom and sister, that I related to a bit more, and they helped me keep reading. I just could not get into the story because it is just so far from what my life is, and without characters that I could latch onto, it was a difficult sell. The style of writing was also a bit rough for me. Ms. Maum likes to use big vocabulary words, which is a good thing, but it seemed more like she was trying to be grandiloquent than anything else. I hate to admit that I had to go back and reread a few sentences because I had no idea what was going on. I did enjoy delving into the inventiveness of the company and thought a couple of their inventions would be great to have; I also liked seeing the intricacies of Sloane's relationship with her family. Unfortunately, that's about where my enjoyment of this book ended. I didn't agree with the premise, and I'm way too conservative to delve into Roman's philosophies. Wow. Just wow. It was way too much for me. There is so much profanity along with discussions about everything regarding "intimacy"--in great detail. I like that topic to stay in the bedroom, not be paraded in front of the world and written about on a majority of the pages of this book. The only thing that I thought slightly redeemed this book was the ending. It did end with a good moral, and by the end I thought Sloane was a better character; I did enjoy watching her grow over the course of the book. Could I recommend this book to my friends? Ummm....no. However, if profanity doesn't bother you and you enjoy very detailed and kind of crazy talk of "intimacy," then you may enjoy this book. 

Rating R (Is there anything higher than R??) There is lots of profanity, including many "f" words. There isn't any violence, but there is a lot of "intimacy." There are quite detailed discussions about and inventions for. There are also a couple of detailed scenes. 

Recommendation: Adult (This book is NOT appropriate for anyone younger than an adult.)

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

All That Makes Life Bright by Josi S. Kilpack

All That Makes Life Bright
Josi S. Kilpack


"When Harriet Beecher marries Calvin Stowe on January 6, 1836, she is sure her future will be filled with romance, a family (in due time), and continued opportunities to develop as a writer--Calvin has said she must be a literary woman, after all. Though Catharine, Harriet's sister, worries Hattie will lose her identity in marriage, she is determined to preserve her independent spirit. God has called her to fulfill the roles of wife and writer, and she knows that God will help her accomplish everything she was born to do. Two months later, Hattie discovers she is pregnant just as Calvin prepares to leave for a European business trip. Alone, Hattie is overwhelmed--being a wife has been harder than she thought and being an expectant mother feels like living another woman's life. Knowing that part of Calvin still cherishes the memory of his first wife, Hattie begins to question her place in her husband's heart and yearns for his return; his letters are no substitute for having him home. When Calvin returns, however, nothing seems to have turned out as planned. Struggling to balance the demand of motherhood with her passion for writing and her desire to be a part of the social change in Ohio, Hattie works to build a life with her beloved Calvin despite differing temperaments and expectations. Can their love endure, especially after 'I do'? Can she recapture the first blush of new love and find the true beauty in her marriage?"

My Review:

I'm loving these proper romances based on literary figures' lives! Ms. Kilpack has found a fun niche; I like that she does her research and tries to form an accurate picture of what might have occurred in the lives of these important figures. In my mind, Harriet Beecher Stowe is Uncle Tom's Cabin, and that's about it. I didn't really know anything else about her, and you know what? I think she and I would have been besties. Like her, I have struggled to keep clean house (I'm a perfectionist, but kids make that an impossible dream...), and dinner is never ready on time when my husband gets home. Yep, I think Hattie and I would have been on the phone (if it were available) chatting about how in the world we were supposed to sand the floors and tie the bed frames and take care of the kids without burning dinner. Hahaha! I'm pretty sure I've had similar conversations with my friends over the years. I felt for Hattie and a little for Calvin. I think he was just a little spoiled and should have been able to help out a little more at the beginning. I told my husband I was glad I didn't live back then because I would not have put up with his attitude. I'm not going to tell you--you'll have to read it to find out what Calvin requested as their daughter's name. Oh boy! It's a doozie! This is a fun read. It's well written, it flows well, the dialogue is realistic and the characters are well developed. I couldn't help but relate to Harriet. I did hope to learn a little bit more about how Uncle Tom's Cabin came to be, but I'll just need to find another book written on that. I've never actually read Uncle Tom's Cabin, have you? Let me know in the comments. I enjoyed this book and would recommend it. It's a fun, entertaining read. 

Rating: PG (There isn't any profanity or violence. There isn't any "intimacy" besides kissing.)

Recommendation: YA and up

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Paladin's War (Book #3) by Peter Greene

Paladin's War
(Book #3)
Peter Greene


"1802. Midshipman Jonathan Moore, Marine Private Sean Flagon and adventurer Delain Dowdeswell enjoy the company of family and friends during a delicate peace between France and England. However, mysterious spy networks now freely roam Europe's great cities, and the ships and armies of all nations remain on the edge of war. An elaborate scheme involves manipulating Jonathan, now aboard the eighteen-gun HMS Paladin, the Royal Navy's fastest ship. Commanded by his friend and mentor, Lieutenant Thomas Harrison, their mission is to deliver an important treaty to a clandestine location. Remaining in London and bored with endless tea parties and tedious school lessons, Delain encounters a shadowy black rider sneaking about the mansions of London's elite. Suspecting foul play, she investigates and enters a web of secret meetings, spies, coded messages and kidnapping. At first merely interesting, Delain's investigation soon turns deadly as she finds that all clues lead to the Paladin's mission and to her friends, now thousands of miles away and in grave danger. Once at sea, the boys are pursued by their sister ship HMS Echo, though she avoids all direct contact. A sabotaged gun, a mistrusted crew, and a vicious assault on their ship by a well-armed band of assailants has the crew and officers of the Paladin anxious. Even Jonathan is uneasy, forced by agents of the king to withhold vital information from his officers. Led to waters far from home, the boys now fight for their ship and their lives against a rogue naval commodore with a war plan of his own."

My Review:

I have loved the Jonathan Moore books from the very beginning! They are so fun. In this fantasy-heavy Harry Potter world we live in, it's so refreshing to read something so different and so not fantasy. (And this coming from a fantasy fan!) My boys have loved these books as well. My boys are now 15 and 14, and it was my 14 year-old that actually looked on amazon to see if Mr. Greene had published the next book in the series. When he found out that there was another book he begged me to contact Mr. Greene to see if he needed reviews. Lucky for us he did. Usually I let the authors contact me, but this time we may have been a little excited. That gives you an idea of how much my boys have liked these books. All my favorite characters were back for this new adventure. Of course Jonathan and Sean were there, along with Delain and Miss Barbara Thompson. Some of the Paladin's crew members were also familiar characters. Mr. Greene relayed to me beforehand that this book is a little darker than the other two, and he was correct. He said the idea is that the first and second books are more for middle graders, and this book is better for early YA. I'm not sure why he did it that way because now the younger readers get all excited about the first books, but should not read the last book until they're older. However, that's the way he set it up. This book does have a little more profanity in it, and it's darker in that more characters die, and the violence is a little more graphic. It's a little deeper too. It's not just fighting pirates; there's a more hidden and harder to decipher plot line. My boys and I all enjoyed it, but didn't think the darker format was needed. We all agreed that we were glad we read it, but it wasn't our favorite book in the series. There's plenty of Jonathan Moore action, suspense, adventure, and ingenuity. I liked Delain's role, and although the role Jonathan was asked to play made me squirm a bit, he did figure it out eventually. The book is well written, but there are still a few grammatical errors. If you enjoyed the first two books you will definitely want to read this one!

*As a side note, when I read the first book it was titled Skull Eye Island, but that title has now been changed to Warship Poseidon

Rating: PG + (There are a few profane words, a brief kiss, and quite a bit of violence. The violence is a bit more graphic and descriptive than it is in the first two books; a few characters die.

Recommendation: 6th to 7th grade and up. (If your middle grader has read the whole Harry Potter series--and been ok with it--, then he or she would do okay with this book. It is about the same level as the last couple of Harry Potter books.)

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, August 31, 2017



And the WINNER is.....

Mercedes Cauffman!!!

Congratulations Mercedes!!!

Thank you to everyone who participated!!

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Light in Summer by Mary McNear

The Light in Summer
Mary McNear


"For the lovely Billy Harper, Butternut Lake is the only place she feels most at home, even though lately she believes the only one listening to her is Murphy...her faithful Labrador Retriever. Her teenage son, Luke, has gone from precious to precocious practically overnight. Her friends are wrapped up in their own lives, and Luke's father, Wesley, disappeared before his son was even born. No wonder she prefers to spend time with a good book, especially ones in which everything ends in perfection. But Billy is about to learn that anything is possible during the heady days of summer. Coming to terms with her past--the death of her father; the arrival of Cal Cooper, a complicated man with a definite interest in Billy; even the return of Wesley--will force her to have a little bit of faith in herself and others...and realize that happiness doesn't always mean perfection."

My Review:

I haven't related to a character this much in a long time! Billy and I could be best friends! She is a librarian in a small town, and she loves to read as much as I do. At night she takes her beloved Jane Austen novels out onto her back patio and reads until bedtime. Although I can't do that at my house without a LOT of mosquito spray, I would love to. That sounds like the perfect ending to a day! The characters that surround Billy are also well written, realistic, and feel like they could be your neighbors. I love the voice in this book. It's well written, has the perfect amount of description, and is a fun and entertaining read. Although the kids are back at school (sad!), it's still technically summer, right? So this book is the perfect read to close out the summer. It has everything you need: a hot guy driving a porsche 911 GT2 RS, Jane Austen quotes, a little teenage rebellion, a past that suddenly collides with the future, and a budding romance. It is a bit predictable, but I still enjoyed the ride. This is one of my favorite passages from the book (Because it's totally me; I do this exact same thing!):
"Well, you'll definitely want to take enough reading material for the flight," Billy said. "But"--and here she glanced at the books in the stack--"seven books? Do you really think you can read that many? "Probably not," Mara said. "Except, what if I don't like one of them? Or even two of them? Or what if I read them really fast?" Billy smiled and, resting her elbows on the desk, leaned forward and asked confidentially, "Mara, do you have a fear of being without a book?" Mara nodded her head vigorously. Billy smiled. "I have that fear, too. It's why I keep at least three books in my shoulder bag at all times. In case I finish one and I don't like another. I also keep a book in the glove compartment of my car, and a couple more of them in the trunk. Just for good measure. Because you never know when you're going to need a book."

Rating: R (This book is not appropriate for younger readers. There isn't a lot of profanity, but there is some. There isn't any violence, but there are a few "intimacy" scenes, and discussions about "intimacy." Some of the scenes are more detailed than others.)

Recommendation: Adult

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Proper Romance Give-away!!!

In celebration of August being 
Romance Awareness Month, 
I have a HUGE give-away!!
I have copies of five proper romances to give away! 
It's a winner-take-all celebration!
If you win, you receive a copy of:

The Lady of the Lakes by Josi S. Kilpack
Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson
The Vicar's Daughter by Josi S. Kilpack
The Sheriffs of Savage Wells by Sarah M. Eden
Forever and Forever by Josi S. Kilpack

There are only two requirements for this give-away!
#1 Like the Proper Romance Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/ProperRomanceSeries/)
#2 Comment below with your name and email address (These will be private, and I will not add your email address to any lists or anything, it's just so I can notify you if you win.)

That's it!!! I will announce the winner on August 31st!!!
Good luck!!!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson

The Almost Sisters
Joshilyn Jackson


"Superheroes have always been Leia Birch Brigg's weakness. One tequila-soaked night at a comic-book convention, the usually level-headed graphic novel artist is swept off her barstool by a handsome and anonymous Batman. She remembers he was tall, black, and an excellent French-kisser--but not much else. It turns out the Caped Crusader has left her with more than just a fond, fuzzy memory. That pink plus sign on the stick isn't wrong; she's having a baby--an unexpected but not unhappy development. She always wanted to fall in love and have a child, but as a young woman, she learned exactly what betrayal felt like. Now she's thirty-eight and dead single, having walked--no, run--away from every man she might have married, trying to avoid more loss, more regrets. Before Leia can break the news of her impending single-motherhood (including the fact that her baby is biracial) to her conventional lily-white southern family, her perfect stepsister Rachel's marriage implodes. Leia wants to help, but Rachel is married to the very man who broke her heart all those years ago. Worse, she learns her beloved ninety-year-old grandmother, Birchie, has been hiding her rapidly progressing dementia with the help of her lifelong best friend, Wattie. Birchie is Leia's only living paternal relative, a proper yet fierce woman who has long lived by her own rules in Birchville, Alabama, the small town her family founded generations back. Now this grande dame has started a row at the church fish fry that has set every tongue wagging, pitted neighbor against neighbor, and made it plain to Leia that her grandmother needs some serious looking after. Heading seven hundred miles south, Leia plans to put Birchie's affairs in order, clean out the big Victorian that has been in the Birch family for generations, and break the news of her blessed event. Yet just when Leia thinks she's got it all under control, she learns that illness is not the only thing Birchie's been hiding. Tucked away in a trunk in the attic is a dangerous secret with roots that reach all the way back to the Civil War. Its exposure threatens the family's freedom and future, and will change everything about how Leia sees herself and her sister, her unborn son and the possibilities of his absent father, and the warm and friendly--yet deeply flawed and contradictory--world she thinks she knows."

My Review:

I loved the characters in this book! They are all so full of life, well developed, and realistic. Each of the characters has a great voice; I loved that there was some spontaneity, a few flaws, a bunch of secrets, and lots of love to go around. Leia is probably the character that I relate to the least; graphic novels are definitely not my forte. The great thing is that it didn't really matter because she has such a great voice that I found myself caring about her and the sudden drama surrounding her family. And there's drama. Definite drama. Birchie is hilarious and yet so complex all at the same time, and her friend Wattie is such a great side-kick character. Rachel and Lavender both add to the story as well. The plot of this book is full of twists and turns, and is a great ride. It's definitely a page-turner! The relationship between Birchie and Wattie is so sweet, yet so sneaky. I loved the two of them together. I could just picture them plotting to take over the world while rocking in their rocking chairs on their Southern front porch. Birchville is the perfect setting for the book; the town square with the church and the shops comes alive with Ms. Jackson's excellent descriptions. I couldn't put this book down. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Rating: R (This book is not appropriate for younger readers. There is some profanity, including a few "f" words, and there is some minor violence. There are a couple of "intimacy" scenes, and lots of talk about "intimacy" and body parts are named as well. 

Recommendation: Adult

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, August 4, 2017

The Secret of the India Orchid by Nancy Campbell Allen

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The Secret of the India Orchid
Nancy Campbell Allen


"Anthony Blake, the Earl of Wilshire, is in love with his best friend's sister, Sophia Elliot. But his plans to court her are put on hold when he is forced to resume his role as an undercover shy for the Crown. A secret document listing the names of the entire network of British spies--including his own--has been stolen. To protect Sophia, Anthony cuts off all ties to her and exchanges his life as an honorable earl for the facade of a flirtatious playboy. Heartbroken and confused, Sophia travels to India, hoping to find healing in one of the most distant regions of the British Empire. But the exotic land isn't as restful as she had hoped. Instead, she finds herself embroiled in a mystery of a missing sea captain, a possible murder, and a plot that could involve the prince of India. And when Anthony appears at the British Residency, asking questions and keeping his distance from her, she is stunned. She still loves him, and, in her heart, she knows he loves her too. But how can she rebuild her relationship with him if he won't confide in her? Does she dare offer her heart to him a second time, or will their love be lost under the India sun?"

My Review:

Wow! Although this is a proper romance, it could very well fit into the mystery section as well! This proper romance isn't all flowers and love notes; it has it's fair share of romance, for sure, but it's so much more! There's murder, betrayal, kidnapping, and lots of secret keeping. Sophia is a strong female character. She holds her own against the men who sometimes desire her to look pretty and do nothing else. I liked her spunk, independence, and compassion. Anthony is also a good, strong character. He may have a soft side underneath all that military/spy persona, and it kinda peaks out every once in awhile. Predictability aside, I enjoyed this book. It has everything you want in a proper romance: a few stolen kisses, a little bit of cheese, some great "Awwwww"s, and a mystery to boot! What could be better?? It's definitely the most edgy proper romance I've read (more violent-not more racy), and I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. I liked the mystery, the secrets, the search for the culprit, and that it took the book past just cheesy romance, and elevated it. I recommend this book.

Rating: PG-13 (There isn't any "intimacy," except for a few brief kisses, and there isn't any profanity-to my recollection. There is a murder, but you don't read about it as it happens, you find out after it has occurred. There are a couple of scenes where characters die, some in kind of graphic ways.)

Recommendation: YA (13+) and Adult

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Lilli de Jong by Janet Benton

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Lilli De Jong
Janet Benton


"A young woman finds the most powerful love of her life when she gives birth at an institution for unwed mothers in 1883 Philadelphia. She is told she must give up her daughter to avoid lifelong poverty and shame. But she chooses to keep her. Pregnant, left behind by her lover, and banished from her Quaker home and teaching position, Lilli de Jong enters a charity for wronged women to deliver her child. She is stunned at how much her infant needs her and at how quickly their bond overtakes her heart. Mothers in her position face disabling prejudice, which is why most give up their newborns. But Lilli can't accept such an outcome. Instead, she braves moral condemnation and financial ruin in a quest to keep herself and her baby alive. Confiding their story to her diary as it unfolds, Lilli takes readers from an impoverished charity to a wealthy family's home to the streets of a burgeoning American city. Drawing on rich history, Lilli de Jong is both an intimate portrait of loves lost and found and a testament to the work of mothers. 'So little is permissible for a woman,' writes Lilli, 'yet on her back every human climbs to adulthood.'"

My Review:

I cannot imagine what it must have been like for single, unwed mothers like Lilli in the nineteenth century, or earlier. I know it must be tough now, when there are a lot more resources. Honestly, neither this topic nor the topic of wet nurses really ever crossed my mind. I suppose I have thought about wet nurses briefly, as my mother was not able to nurse. We always wondered what would have become of all six of us children without the marvelous invention of infant formula. That's about the extent of my curiosity, however. I like it when the topic of a fictional book peaks my interest and makes me think. Lilli's narration through her diary entries is well written; her voice draws you in and allows you to see into her most intimate thoughts and feelings. It's as if you're there with her through her struggles, heartbreaks, and rare contentedness. The women who run the charity home where she delivers her baby are saints in my book. I enjoyed getting to know them and thought they were good, strong supporting characters. The other women at the charity home become your friends as Lilli stays there, and you find yourself hoping that they'll all be ok. Clementina and Albert Burnham made quite the pair. Each of them were well developed and written. Clementina's attitude toward Henry broke my heart; I did not like how she treated her son. However, there were a couple of brief moments that brought her a bit of redemption, and surprised me. I was suspicious of Albert from the beginning. He seemed nice on the surface, and I felt bad for him because of the situation he was in. However, as the story progressed, I did not like him at all. There were a few bright spots: Margaret, Mrs. Baker, Frau V., and Mrs. Bernstein come to mind as women that gave hope to Lilli when she was in her darkest moments. I did like that about this book-I liked how there were a few women that stood out as loving, caring, and helping when hope seemed lost. There is still good in the world. This book shows a different side of unwed mothers, poverty and begging, and assumptions. It teaches that we may think we know the whole story and be able to righteously judge, but we don't know. We do not know why the beggar on the corner ended up there. We don't know how that young woman came to be pregnant and alone. And our job is not to judge, but to help and care for those in need. If we don't do it, who will? Overall, I enjoyed this book. It is definitely not the happiest book out there, but it does make you ponder, and I came away much more grateful for all that I've been blessed with, and with a greater desire to look outside my own life and struggles to find those who really need care and love.

Having said that, I would rate this book 3 stars instead of 4 stars because of a few scenes that were overly graphic and way too detailed for my tastes. I thought they were inappropriate and disgusting. There's an "intimacy" scene at the beginning that was a bit too detailed, but at least it was sweet. There are a couple of later "intimacy" scenes that were way too graphic and detailed; I thought the one, especially, was disgusting and inappropriate. I guess it kind of showed you the true character, but that could have been shown in much better and less appalling ways. There really wasn't a whole lot of language or violence, but there were some difficult to read pages describing the conditions of an orphanage. If scenes like those described above do not bother you then you will enjoy the story and learning about the strength of human will. However, if you are not a fan of detailed "intimacy" scenes, then I cannot recommend this book. 

Rating: R (This book is NOT appropriate for younger readers. There really isn't any profanity or violence, but there are some very graphic and detailed "intimacy" scenes that I found disturbing and disgusting.)

Recommendation: Adult

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Letter To My Readers

I just wanted to take a minute and let you know how sorry I am that I have not been keeping up with my blog this spring and summer. My 15 year-old son has been super sick since the beginning of April. He missed the last seven weeks of school, spent four days in the hospital, and had a feeding tube for over a month. He is slowly recovering, but it is going to be a long, slow process to full recovery. My family comes first, and taking care of him has been my first priority. Consequently, my blog has suffered. :( I haven't even had a lot of time to even read, which is so sad. Please bear with me for the next few months as I take care of my family. I'll post as much as I can; I have many books sitting on my shelf waiting to be read, so hopefully I'll be able to get back to normal soon! 
Keep reading!!!


Monday, June 26, 2017


How many times have you stayed up late to finish a book?
Me? Too many times to count, but still not enough. :)

Monday, June 12, 2017

Nic of Time (Phoenix Cycle Series Book #3)

Nic of Time
(Phoenix Cycle Series Book #3)
Mark Minson

Blurb (from amazon.com):

"After leaving Will to pursue the removal of Paul from The Council of Magic, Nicole finds the tables have turned. When she finally returns to Will's house, he has disappeared leaving her a mystery to unravel. 

Meanwhile, Kyle, Will and Leroy find themselves neck-deep in the ongoing war with MAIM. 

Can any of them survive long enough to prevail?

The thrilling conclusion of the Phoenix Cycle Series!"

My Review:

First a little disclosure: for those of you who may not remember my reviews of book #1 and book #2, Mark and I are friends. We've been friends since high school, and in fact, had creative writing together. If you want dirt on Mark, I'm sure I can think of something (On the flip side, I guess that means he could probably find some on me :). Anyway, he knows I'll be just as honest with his book as I always am, so no worries there. I have enjoyed this series from the start. The magic is fun and entertaining, the characters are interesting and well developed, and the story is full of action, adventure, and magic! The concept of the magic in this series is different from other fantasy books, and I've enjoyed Mark's take on it. I especially liked learning how Will came up with and made the spells in the last book. There's not as much of that in this book, unfortunately. Other things do make up for it though. I loved how this book combined the two story lines and brought it all together. I read the first book quite awhile ago, so it did take me a minute to remember who those characters were and how they fit in, but it wasn't a big deal. The characters get better with every book, and it's fun to see how they grow and evolve as the story continues. Mark's writing has also gotten better; however, I have to say that his grammar has not. There are a lot of grammatical errors. That particular problem is easily fixed though. I think I need to learn a few of the spells for myself (The travel spell in particular, would be awesome.) The characters worked well together, the ending was great, and I thought it all came together well. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the series. I definitely recommend it. This series would be perfect for summer!

Rating: PG+ (There isn't any profanity or "intimacy" in this book, but there might be a kiss or two. There is quite a bit of violence, and several people die. It's a magic war, so there are casualties. It's not overly graphic in describing those scenes though.)

Recommendation: 5th grade (10-11 years old) and up. I kept it at this level because even though it is somewhat violent, it isn't any worse than Harry Potter, and most kids have read that by 5th grade.

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.