Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Secrets of Happy Families {Kindle Fire HDX Giveaway}

In The Secrets of Happy Families, New York Times bestselling author Bruce Feiler has drawn up a blueprint for modern families — a new approach to family dynamics, inspired by cutting-edge techniques gathered from experts in the disciplines of science, business, sports, and the military. Written in a charming, accessible style, The Secrets of Happy Families is smart, funny, and fresh, and will forever change how your family lives every day.

Bruce is celebrating the release of his book with a family fun "Happy Family" Kindle HDX giveaway.

  One winner will receive:
  • A brand new Kindle Fire HDX
  • The Secrets of Happy Families by Bruce Feiler
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 15th. Winner will be announced February 17th on the Litfuse blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to stop by the Litfuse blog on the 17th to see if you won.

The Calling by Suzanne Woods Fisher {Blog Tour Giveaway!}

Bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher is celebrating her newest book, The Calling, by giving away TWO iPads, TWO Kindles, and TWO Nooks!
Two grand prize winners will receive:
  • An iPad
  • The Letters and The Calling by Suzanne Woods Fisher
Four second place winners will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX or a Nook HD—winner's choice!
  • The Letters and The Calling by Suzanne Woods Fisher
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 8th. All winners will be announced February 10th at Suzanne's blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to visit Suzanne's blog on the 10th to see if you won one of the great prizes! (Or better yet, subscribe to her blog and have the winner announcement delivered to your inbox!)

Shadowed by Grace by Cara Putman {Blog Tour Giveaway}

Cara Putman is celebrating her latest historical suspense novel, Shadowed by Grace with a fun "Past & Present" giveaway! 


One winner will receive:
  • A Polaroid Instant Camera
  • A beautiful antique AFGRA camera (learn more here)
  • Movie passes to see The Monuments Men movie (with George Clooney and Matt Damon)
  • Shadowed By Grace by Cara Putman
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 8th. Winner will be announced February 10th on Cara's blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to stop by Cara's blog on the 10th to see if you won.

A Promise Kept by Robin Lee Hatcher Kindle Fire HDX Giveaway

Don't miss Robin Lee Hatcher's stunning new novel, A Promise KeptRobin is celebrating with a fun giveaway and an encouraging Facebook Author Chat Party.
 One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • A Promise Kept by Robin Lee Hatcher
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 6th. Winner will be announced at the "A Promise Kept" Facebook Author Chat Party on the 6th. Connect with Robin and friends for an evening of encouraging book chat, prizes, and an exclusive look at Robin's next book!

So grab your copy of A Promise Kept and join Robin on the evening of February 6th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP today by clicking JOIN at the event page. Spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway and party via FACEBOOK or TWITTER. Hope to see you on 2/6!

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Dancing Master (Book Review)

Disclosure: I received a free review copy of the book for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.
The Dancing Master offers a glimpse of what life was like in the past when dancing and fencing were part of proper etiquette. As a reader unfamiliar to Klassen's works, I was happy to read this book, I would give this book a 3 out of 5. I would not mind picking up the author's other books because I like the "Jane Austen" type kind of time period.

A bit about the book:
Dancing and Fencing Master Alec Valcourt moves to a town which seems to have been shackled due to unforgiveness. The town seems devoid of life and someone harboring a secret. Trying to forge a life of his own to support his family, he disappointingly finds that his profession is looked down upon and banned. He finds himself in a precarious position as his uncle encourages him to work hard manual labor or to work for a cold hearted Mrs. Midwinter. As we follow Alec we meet the young Julia Midwinter and find her the opposite of her mother. His dark past seems to flood to the present as he finds himself thinking way too much about the flirtatious Julia.

As far as my rating goes for this book: I chose this rating because I felt that the fact that dancing was banned played a bigger role in this book and was mentioned so many times that it got in the way of truly developing characters. I just felt it a bit redundant throughout the book and that other back stories and characters would have benefited from further development if there were fewer mentions of how dancing was banned.

The main plots and secrets that go throughout this book were intriguing enough to keep me reading. Klassen's characters are loveable and memorable. I also am thankful for the modesty in the matters of romance in this book. Not too many romance books these days are modest, and I was thankful for Klassen's style. I loved the ending, though I wish the tone and passion that was felt in the ending were present enough throughout the entirety of the book (In reference to Julia's transformation). Excellent ending!

Aloha Rose by Lisa Carter

Disclosure: I received a free complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of writing a review.  This however did not affect my positive or negative opinion about the book.

Aloha Rose.  The story of adoption was beautiful.  I loved how Laney who was adopted was reunited with her family in Hawaii.  Though a bit skeptical, unsure of herself or her feelings, she warms up as the story of her birth mother unfolds through the beautiful dancing of her grandmother.  The quilt in which she was wrapped as a baby are dear to her birth family and a matter of tradition and love.  As Laney opens up her heart one can be moved by her emotions and can relate to the shock of meeting a family one never knew to love.  The descriptions of Hawaii were beautiful and was easily pictured in my mind.

On a secondary note I had thought the story moved a bit too fast to develop the characters and the relationship between each other.  The love between Laney and Kai I felt was rushed.  Though I did enjoy the comical moments between Laney and Kai, I felt that their relationship was still shallow. I would have loved to have more of a developed story between Laney's Hawaiian family for I feel the characters are delightful and have so much more to offer.  There was a lot going on in the book that could have been either left out. Not one of my favorites in the Quilts of Love Series.  

The Christmas Quilt by Chapman (Book Review)

Disclosure: I received a free complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of writing a review.  This however did not affect my positive or negative opinion about the book.

Book Review:
The Christmas Quilt was truly moving.  As two friends work on a quilt a story develops focusing on the Fruits of the Spirit.  To distract and ease the nervousness of giving birth to twins, Leah asks her friend, Annie, to tell her stories since she is good about telling stories.  Most quilts have a story behind it, and the stories told unfold will move one’s heart as each demonstrates the Love of God behind each fruit of the Spirit.  A number of characters tell a story throughout the book, and from each story told, I find myself either in tears or held captive.  I love the beauty of God’s work and plan as he works through the lives of the Amish people to bless Leah. 

Though not  usually a fan of Amish fiction, this one truly was a delight to read, and would love more types of books like this from Chapman.  

Purchase a copy here.

Learn more at the Quilts of Love website.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Dancing Master Giveaway and Book Tour

Best-selling author Julie Klassen will be hosting a Kindle Fire HDX giveaway and a live webcast event (1/23) to celebrate the release of her latest novel, The Dancing Master. Enter and RSVP today!

  One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • The Dancing Master by Julie Klassen
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on January 23rd. Winner will be announced at the "All Things Jane (from Austen to Eyre)" Live Webcast Event on January 23rd. Connect with Julie for an evening of book chat, trivia, laughter, and more! Julie will also be taking questions from the audience and giving away books, Jane Austen DVDs, fun "Jane" merchandise, and gift certificates throughout the evening.

So grab your copy of The Dancing Master and join Julie and friends on the evening of January 23rd for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP today by signing up for a reminder. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 23rd!

The Painted Table Giveaway and Book Tour

Suzanne Field is celebrating her novel The Painted Table with a beautiful hand-painted table giveaway!

One winner will receive:
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on January 18th. Winner will be announced January 20th on Thomas Nelson's Facebook Page.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to stop by the TNZ Facebook Page on the 20th to see if you won.

Book Review: The Painted Table by Suzanne Field

Disclosure: I have been given a free review copy of the book for the sole purpose of writing a review. This has in now way affected my opinion of the book. The review of the book is solely mine and in my own words.

A Little Summary of the book:

The Painted Table depicts a story of a young child, Joann, who grows up with a painful past. In the midst of nine children, she misses the lack of the caresses and attention of a mother. Joann in the midst of trauma finds refuge under their table, passed down from generation to generation. Hidden and protected beneath it, she views the world around her. Finding solace, comfort and peace it is her refuge. As a child she overhears and sees things, that were not meant for her beneath this table. Traumatic events and happenings intertwine themselves as dark memories stored down deep in her mind. As an adult she inherits that same table she took refuge under, but now it has become nothing more than a reminder of all of the dark and forboding past. In an effort to bury the past behind her she begins to paint the table.

Watching Joann are her two daughters Saffe and April. As Joann tries to cover up her past with paint, she unknowingly traumatizes them with her disturbing behavior and childhood fears. It seems that her mother's past though gone, has come to haunt Saffe in a different way.
My Review:
At the beginning of this book, I was unsure whether or not I would enjoy this book. The more I read I felt the misery of Joann and Saffe her daughter. I felt the pains and stings of heart break and yearning. Not to mention the brunt fears they faced and ache of absence of father and mother.  Author Suzanne Fields captures the emotions the main characters feel so well that I wondered if I wanted to read on!  But I kept reading, and began seeing glimpses of hope and redemption for the characters (and me!).  The manner in which each character feels things deeply draws a reader in...I love this element.  By the middle and end of the book, I was glad to have not been discouraged by the really sad happenings that set the book into play.

The characters are quite memorable. The parts they play in this book remarkable and relatable. I have to say relatable for at some instances the characters seemed to have conversations and situations that hit close to home. I love seeing them grow into becoming who they are at the end of the book. I am so thankful to have read the Painted Table, for I believe that everyone may find ways in which to grow, become whole, and deal with their own painted table.
 This book is quite interesting and I have to admit in some places the tone was scary and dark. The mind can be a dark place, and author Suzanne Field captures the downward spiral of Joann's life quite well. Yet at the same time, I find the contrast of dark to light quite riveting and emotional. Somewhere in the plot, a switch is turned on in Joann's oldest daughter, Sapphire (Sapphe). The whispered promise of a different life, sparks a small ember of light in her heart. I as a reader welcomed the drastic difference from beginning to the ending of the book. And Author Field has a wonderful ending to it, that I was not prepared for. I simply loved it.

Conclusion and Final Thoughts
Personally, this was a book that I would not have picked out for myself; as I am not fond of dealing with psychological characters. But I am glad to have read this book. You cannot judge a book by its cover or in my case its back cover writing. I simply recommend this book in spite of my inclination to avoid matters of psychosis. By the end of this book I am left with a new found interest in the challenge of having a more positive mindset and not minding the "trivial" things in life.

Book Info

About the book: A beautiful heirloom ingrained with family memory has become a totem of a life Saffee would rather forget---a childhood disrupted by her mother's mental illness.
Saffee does not want the table. By the time she inherits the object of her mother's obsession, the surface is thick with haphazard layers of paint, and heavy with unsettling memories.

After a childhood spent watching her mother slide steadily into insanity, painting and re-painting the ancient table, Saffee has come to fear that seeds of psychosis may lie dormant within her. But as an adult with a family of her own, Saffee must confront her mother's torment if she wants to defend herself against it.

Traversing four generations over the course of a century, The Painted Table is an epic portrait of inherited memory, proclivity, and guilt. It is a sprawling narrative affirmation that a family artifact---like a family member---can bear the marks of one's entire past . . . as well as intimations of one's redemption.

Purchase your copy: http://ow.ly/rIosh

About the author: Suzanne Field, a graduate of the University of Minnesota, has taught English as a Second Language in China, Ukraine, and Hawaii. She has also been a magazine editor and home-school teacher. She and her husband have five children and divide their time between Kansas and Hawaii where she is a tutor and mentor.

Learn more about Suzanne at: https://www.facebook.com/SuzanneFieldThePaintedTable