Monday, August 29, 2016

When Calls the Heart: Forever In My Heart (TV Show Review)

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the movie via Edify Media in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own. 

About the show-

From the celebrated author Janette Oke (The Love Comes Softly series) comes a rigorous and romantic adventure as epic as the wide frontier. Erin Krakow (Army Wives), Daniel Lissing (Eye Candy), Jack Wagner (Melrose Place) and Lori Loughlin (Full House, 90210) star in When Calls the Heart, a beautiful story filled with "nostalgic... escapist fun" (Filminutuition.com)!

About the episode-

While Jack attempts to help a young settler couple reconcile their differences, Elizabeth tries to inspire her students, particularly Cody's sister, Becky, who has returned to Hope Valley in a wheelchair. Everyone is surprised when Carolyn Connors, Cody and Becky's long-lost, wealthy aunt, arrives to whisk them out of Abigail's care and raise them on her own. Meanwhile, Henry is arrested for sabotaging Lee's sawmill, and Lee's romantic intentions for Rosemary may also be sabotaged when a producer casts Rosemary in his upcoming film!

My thoughts-

I love it when I am emotionally invested in a television series and it just keeps getting better. Some shows have a good first season or only have a few outstanding episodes and then there are shows like When Calls the Heart that produce good episode after good episode and keep  growing and getting better.  I love that there is a good  mix of sweetness an drama,  of romance and comedy. Some of my favorite scenes in this episode were of Rosemary and Lee. There is just something  so sweet about their relationship and I love the good comedy relief they provide in a show that can get pretty serious at times. Most of the drama this time was with Abigail dealing with Cody and Becky's estranged aunt showing up out of nowhere just as she decides she wants to officially  adopt the kids. Talk about heartbreaking! Meanwhile, there is a ton going on with Jack and Elizabeth, who are always doing their best to take care of others. One of my favorite things about  Forever in My Heart is the banter that goes on between Jack and Elizabeth as she is writing her book, which, of course, contains a handsome Mountie!

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Friday, August 26, 2016

The Things We Knew by Catherine West Blog Tour + Book Review

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book  from the publisher via Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own. 

About the book-

A tragedy from the past resurfaces in this tale of family secrets and reignited love.

After her mother's death twelve years ago, Lynette Carlisle watched her close-knit family unravel. One by one, her four older siblings left their Nantucket home and never returned. All seem to harbor animosity toward their father, silently blaming him for their mother's death. Nobody will talk about that dreadful day, and Lynette can't remember a bit of it.

But when next-door neighbor Nicholas Cooper returns to Nantucket, he brings the past with him. Once her brother's best friend and Lynette's first crush, Nick seems to hiding things from her. Lynette wonders what he knows about the day her mother died and hopes he might help her remember the things she can't.

But Nick has no intention of telling Lynette the truth. Besides the damage it might cause his own family, he doesn't want to risk harming the fragile friendship between him and the woman he once thought of as a kid sister.

As their father's failing health and financial concerns bring the Carlisle siblings home, secrets begin to surface---secrets that will either restore their shattered relationships or separate the siblings forever. But pulling up anchor on the past propels them into the perfect storm, powerful enough to make them question all they ever believed in.


My thoughts-

Sometimes when I am reading the plot  synopsis on the back cover of a book, certain  words jump out to me and  I have no choice but to devour the thing cover  to cover.  Buzz words  for The Things We Knew include Nantucket, close knit family, adolescent crush, and faith. The gorgeous front cover also called out to me. The Things We Knew drew me in immediately and made me care and empathize with Lynette quickly. There is a decent sized cast of characters and sometimes when there are more than a few it doesn't feel like the more minor characters are developed well, but I didn't feel that way at all. I felt like I got to know all of Lynette's siblings and both Lynette and Nick's fathers. Something else I really enjoyed about the book was the touch of suspense. The last chapters of the book were intense and that is always a great way to arrive at the climax of a novel. I felt like the last few pages of the  book were a little contrived, but overall I thought this was a great book.  I  would  recommend The Things We Knew to anyone who enjoys literary fiction or women's fiction. 


About the  author-

Catherine  West writes stories  of  hope  an d  healing from her island home in Bermuda. When she's not  at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border collie for long walks on the beach or tending to her roses and orchids.  She and her husband have two grown children. 

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Yogi Surprise Subscription Box: August Box Review

Disclosure of material connection- I receive a discount on Yogi Surprise in hope that I might share what I like on my blog. I am not required to write a positive review and all opinions are 100% my own. 

Yogi Surprise is a somewhat nearer subscription box with a very narrow focus. It is perfect for someone who loves yoga or wants to start living a yogi lifestyle. I have been subscribing to this box for several months now. The first couple of Yogi Surprise boxes were good, but I could take them or leave them. July and August's boxes have been really great! I love that Yogi Surprise is working hard to continually improve these boxes. August's box included some pretty great items. There was a Manduka head band which is really thin, but wide and stays put pretty well. There are also various other cool items, a peppermint perfume roller, Tiger Balm patches and Narayan balm for aches and pains, a really tasty goji superfood bar, lava scrum in a great lemon geranium scent, and Stamba Superfoods dietary sample. There is also a yoga sequence card that they include in the box every month that can be a lot of fun to try out the poses.


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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Punderdome (Game Review)

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the game via Blogging For Books in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own. 

About the game-

From the daughter-father duo that created Brooklyn's beloved live pun competition comes Punderdome, the "Punderful card game [that] will replace Cards Against Humanity at your next party" (Mashable.com).

One part game, one part conversation starter, you don't need to be a pun master to master Punderdome: the goal is to make bad jokes and have fun along the way.

A player (the prompter for that round) draws two prompt cards from the deck, and then reads the prompts to the rest of the group, who have 90 seconds to create a single, groan-worthy pun that combines the two prompts.     

When time is up, pun makers share their puns with the prompter, who awards the prompt cards to the player whose pun he or she likes best. The winner then draws the next pair of prompt cards and the process repeats. Players win by obtaining 10 pairs of cards.

Every Game Set Comes With:
·         200 double-sided cards (100 White and 100 Green)
·         2 Mystery Envelopes with fill-in prize slips
·         2 80-page pads for drafting puns
·         1 instruction card and 1 pun example card
·         A stu-PUN-dous time for 3 or more players

My thoughts-

I am huge a board game fanatic! I love to play games and I especially love games that are challenging. I have never came across a game quite like Punderdome. It is a fun game, but it definitely takes some quick and innovative thinking. You basically are given two cards and you have to come up with a pun using those two cards. Think a cleaner version of Cards Against Humanity for nerds. The game is designed for 3 or more players, but I think it would be a great game to play in teams in a big group. If you like a challenging game that makes you think, you need Punderdome in your party game arsenal.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Memory of Things by Gae Polisner (Book Review)

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own. 

About the book-

On the morning of September 11, 2001, sixteen-year-old Kyle Donohue watches the first twin tower come down from the window of Stuyvesant High School. Moments later, terrified and fleeing home to safety across the Brooklyn Bridge, he stumbles across a girl perched in the shadows, covered in ash, and wearing a pair of costume wings. With his mother and sister in California and unable to reach his father, a NYC detective likely on his way to the disaster, Kyle makes the split-second decision to bring the girl home. What follows is their story, told in alternating points of view, as Kyle tries to unravel the mystery of the girl so he can return her to her family. But what if the girl has forgotten everything, even her own name? And what if the more Kyle gets to know her, the less he wants her to go home? The Memory of Things tells a stunning story of friendship and first love and of carrying on with our day-to-day living in the midst of world-changing tragedy and unforgettable pain—it tells a story of hope.

My thoughts-

I don't think I have ever come across a book set in New York during the events of 9/11 that was from a teenager's perspective. I thought the premise sounded like something I would be into and I was right considering I read this novel in one sitting. There is something about tragedy that draws us in. Maybe it is to try to understand what happened when there is really no explanation or just to remember the victims of the tragedy by always remembering what happened. Either way, The Memory of Things starts during the crash of the first plane and takes us through the next few days in the life of 17 year old Kyle Donohue, who's father is an NYPD police officer, who's mother and sister were supposed to be on a plane back to NYC that day, and who comes across a girl covered in soot from head to toe wearing a pair of fairy wings who can't even remember her own name. Kyle has a lot of emotions to work through and a lot to deal with in the next few days. I thought it seemed like a very accurate portrayal of how a boy that age might feel and react to such a huge tragedy. Trying to figure out who the girl might be was an interesting sub-plot and helped this story turn into a coming of age type thing instead of just a drama rooted in a real life tragedy. Kyle's interactions with his uncle Matt are some of my favorite parts of the book. I recommend The Memory of Things to anyone who enjoys the young adult genre and doesn't get offended easily by brash language. 

The Memory of Things will be available September 6. You can pre-order your copy on Amazon.com. 






Monday, August 15, 2016

The Queen of Katwe by Tim Crothers (Book Review)

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from BuzzPlant in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

About the book-

One day in 2005, while searching for food, nine-year0old Ugandan Phiona Mutesi followed her brother to a dusty veranda where she met Robert Katende.

Katende, a war refugee turned missionary, had an improbably dream to empower kids in the Katwe slum through chess- a game so foreign there is no word for it in their native language. Laying the chessboard in the dirt, Robert began to teach. At first chidlren came for a free bowl of porridge, but many great to love the game that- like their daily lives- requires perservering against great obstatcles. Of these kids, one girl stood out as an immense talent: Phiona.
By the age of eleven Phiona was her country's junior champion, and at fifteen the national champion. Now a Woman Candidaet Master- the first femal in her country's history- Phiona dreas of becoming a Grandmaster, the most elite level in chess. But to reach that goal, she must grapple with everyday life in one of the world's most unstable countries. The Queen of Katwe is a "remarkable" (NPR) and "riveting" (New York Post) book that shows how "Phiona's story transcends the limitations of the chessboard" (Robert Hess, US Grandmaster).


My thoughts-

I was so excited when the opportunity to review The Queen of Katwe came up. I had recently seen a preview for the upcoming Disney film and was super happy to learn more about Phiona. I always enjoyed playing chess. I was never great at it, but my 8 year old daughter is and I love watching her grow as she learns more about the game. I love that there is a great role model out there for her like Phiona to look up to and see all of the adversity she has overcome! The book does a great job of laying out exactly how Phiona came to discover chess after following her brother to a church one day. It explains about her difficult and impoverished family life in Katwe and how she wanted to make a better life for herself than her mother was able to do for their family. We learn how Phiona picked up the game quickly and had a natural talent for playing, but trained a lot to get as good as she is. She, a girl that grew up in poverty, has traveled the world, playing chess against the best in the world and holding her own! I love a good success story and I hope to one day look in the news and see that Phiona has succeeded both in her dream to by a chess Grandmaster as well as a doctor. This girl has set high hopes for herself and has already accomplished so much in such a short time. I think more great things are on the way for this talented girl!

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The Loyal Heart by Shelley Sheppard Gray Blog Tour + Book Review

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

About the book-


The Loyal Heart (Zondervan, July 2016)
Robert came to Galveston to fulfill his promise to a dying man and look after his widow. He didn't expect to find love in the unlikeliest of places.
Robert Truax, former Second Lieutenant and Confederate officer in the Civil War, made a promise to his comrade Phillip Markham. If anything happened to Phillip, Robert would look after his beloved wife, Miranda. She was his life, his world, his everything.
After the war, Robert is left to pick up the pieces and fulfill his pact. When he arrives at Miranda's home in Galveston, Texas, things are worse than he imagined. Phillip's name has been dragged through the mud, everyone in town believes him to be a traitor, and his widow is treated as an outcast. Even more disturbing is her emotional well-being. Miranda seems hopeless, lost, and so very alone.
Robert had thought his duty would be simple. He would help Miranda as quickly as possible in order to honor a promise. But the moment Robert laid eyes on her, his plans changed. He's mesmerized by her beauty and yearns to help her in any way he can.
He makes it his duty to protect Miranda, turn her reputation around, and to find some way to help her smile again. But it doesn't prove to be an easy task---Robert knows something about Phillip that could shake Miranda to the core and alter her view of the man she thought she knew so well.

My thoughts-

I am a Texan born and raised and I love reading books that are set in Texas, so this one piqued my interest. I was born in Galveston, and have lived in several of the other cities mentioned throughout this book so I got a kick out of that! Civil War era books are not usually my thing, but I really enjoyed The Loyal Heart. It may be because it was set after the war and in an area I am familiar with, but the interesting story line didn't hurt either. I couldn't help but empathize with poor Miranda, dealt a life of ostracism for something her husband may or may not have done. It was interesting seeing how she was getting on in her life after her husband's death through the eyes of Robert. I really enjoyed the touch of suspense and trying to figure out who started the rumors about Miranda and her husband. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good Christian Romance novel or who enjoy historical fiction. 

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/2ae3eOX

About the author-

Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town's bike trail.