Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Tyndale Rewards Program! Sign Up to Earn Free Books!

*Disclosure- This blog post contains affliate links.

If you visit this blog often, you know that I love to read. I mean, I REALLY love to read! So when there is an opportunity for free books, it is pretty much a given that I am going to participate! Tyndale, one of the leaders in Christian publishing, is offering anyone who wants to participate the opportunity to earn free books and bibles. The Tyndale Rewards Program is simple: Sign up for FREE for the rewards program. Once you fill out all of your information, you will be taken to a page that offers you several options for earning more points. Some of the things you can do to earn more points are sign up for e-newsletters/e-devotionals, take a short study on your Bible preferences, join the birthday club (they will also send you a free treat for your birthday, no points needed!), share about the program on Facebook, Twitter or your Blog, Review a Tyndale product on their website and finally share your unique code with your friends and earn points for each that signs up. The coolest thing about the Tyndale Rewards is that it is absolutely free and all of the things that you can do to earn points are super easy and only take a few minutes of your time. Just for doing the surveys and signing up for the devotionals and birthday club, I already have enough points for a reward. That is how easy this rewards program is! If you love Christian books, this is a program you do not want to miss out on! You have nothing to lose by signing up and free books to gain, so head over to Tyndale Rewards and sign up today!

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Returned by Jason Mott Book Review + TV Series Based on the Book Coming March of 2014 to ABC!

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

About the book:

"Jacob was time out of sync, time more perfect than it had been. He was life the way it was supposed to be all those years ago. That's what all the Returned were.

Harold and Lucille Hargrave's lives have been both joyful and sorrowful in the decades since their only son, Jacob, died tragically at his eighth birthday party in 1966. In their old age they've settled comfortably into life without him, their wounds tempered through the grace of time.

Until one day Jacob mysteriously appears on their doorstep--flesh and blood, their sweet, precocious child, still eight years old.

All over the world people's loved ones are returning from beyond. No one knows how or why this is happening, whether it's a miracle or a sign of the end. Not even Harold and Lucille can agree on whether the boy is real or a wondrous imitation, but one thing they know for sure: he's their son. As chaos erupts around the globe, the newly reunited Hargrave family finds itself at the center of a community on the brink of collapse, forced to navigate a mysterious new reality and a conflict that threatens to unravel the very meaning of what it is to be human.

With spare, elegant prose and searing emotional depth, award-winning poet Jason Mott explores timeless questions of faith and morality, love and responsibility. A spellbinding and stunning debut, The Returned is an unforgettable story that marks the arrival of an important new voice in contemporary fiction."

My thoughts: 

I have been wanting to read The Returned since I first heard about it's unique plot. This is such a different kind of story that there is already a television series set to debut in March of 2014 on ABC based on it called Resurrection (more on that in a little while) and the novel hasn't even been released yet!! What if the people you have loved that have passed away showed up on your doorstep one day, appearing the same way as they did when they left this Earth? What would happen if your fiance, sister or even your child found their way back to you? How would you react? The Returned explores this idea and the many possible reactions one could have if this was reality. A set of parents, who lost their only little boy long ago, do not know what to think when he shows up on their doorstep, still 8 years old. Sure, they have heard of others that have "returned" but it is different when it happens to you. Harold and Lucille deal with Jacob's return in different ways, just as they dealt with their grief of loosing him in different ways. The people in their town, Arcadia, are also dealing with the sudden appearance of "the returned" and trying to figure out what they are, how they are back and why they are here. This novel takes you on a journey of emotions and deep thought. Some of the things that happen will make you angry and want to scream at some of the characters, some of it might make you feel like you can relate to how the characters have reacted, but the one thing that I found myself thinking is how wonderful and frightening would it be to experience this world where there is hope that the people you have lost might return to you, that you might be able to hold them, hug them, tell them you love them once again. To me, that is what makes escaping into the world of The Returned most worthwhile.

The Returned will be available on August 27, 2013. You can pre-order the book right now on

Connect with Jason Mott on Facebook
Connect with Jason Mott on Goodreads
Jason Mott's Website

Resurrection: Coming this fall to ABC

Some novels beg to be brought to life.  The Returned is one of them. Resurrection, based on the novel and airing in March of 2014 on ABC, is a series that so many people will be able to relate to and the story is so fascinating that it will keep people tuning in. Here is a trailer for the show:

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook by Becky Johnson & Rachel Randolph Book Review

*Disclosure- I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher via the BookSneeze Blogger Program.  I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

About the book:

With down-to-earth wit, charm, love and laughter, a butter and bacon lovin’ mama and a vegan bean eatin’ daughter share humorous stories about the differences that test them, the foods that entice them, and the love that binds them.
Becky Johnson and her daughter Rachel Randolph come from a long line of laughter. The female side of her family tree is dotted with funny storytellers, prolific authors, hospitable home cooks, and champion chatters.
In We Love, We Laugh, We Cook, Becky—a butter and bacon loving mama—and Rachel—a vegan bean eating daughter—share stories of their crazy, wonderful, and sometimes challenging lives as Rachel becomes a mother herself.
Becky is messy; Rachel craves order. Becky forgets what month it is; Rachel is an organizational genius. (At least before baby arrives.) Sprinkled throughout are the lip-smacking, nourishing recipes they love to make and share.
From food for a family reunion of thirty, to lunch for a party of one in a high chair, to a hot meal for a sick friend, the authors demonstrate grace, acceptance, and love to others through the bonding gifts of humor, attentive listening, and cooking … whether diners prefer beef or tofu in their stew.

My thoughts:

I was initially drawn to this book because I heard that it was a mix of a wide range of foods, including (but not limited to) vegan and vegetarian fare. As someone who tends to lean veg in a family full of carnivores, I can always use a good mix of recipes to try. As I started to read the story, I could tell I was going to really be able to relate to this mother/daughter team. My own mother and I are polar opposites, but as Becky and Rachel prove throughout this story love and time in the kitchen can bring families together no matter how different the people in them may be. I really enjoyed the parts of the book where Rachel gives birth to her little boy and Becky comes to help, there are some really cute and funny moments during that time in the book. And I was definitely dreaming of being on Nana's Island (that doesn't really belong to her, but where she has a home off the coast of Placida, Florida). The nice little island doesn't even have cars or stores, you have to get there by ferry. Sounds like just the perfect little piece of paradise! There are tons of great mother/daughter stories here, I am pretty sure that all women could relate to at least some of them. The thing that I love most about this book is Becky's willingness to dive in and try to create vegan meals for her daughter and son in law, even though she herself is a meat eater. That is someone who A. loves her family and B. LOVES to cook! The recipes included at the end of each chapter are really great. There are recipes for some many different types of things that I am not even sure which I will try first!  I would recommend this book to anyone who loves to have great recipe books in their pantry, but I would also recommend it to anyone who loves joyful stories. We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook is certainly a wonderful love story of a bond that can only be shared between a mother and daughter, but also a love of cooking that pretty much anyone could relate to.

We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook on Goodreads
We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook on Facebook

We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook will be available for purchase on August 6, 2013. You can pre-order the book on

Waking Up In Heaven by Crystal McVea Book Review

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

About the book:

The remarkable story of a woman, plagued with guilt and skepticism, dramatically changed by the nine minutes she spent in heaven.
"God let me see me through His eyes. And in that instant I knew that God had always loved me, through all of those dark and difficult years when I doubted His existence, through every crisis and every heartbreak that made me turn away from Him more. I knew, in that instant, that His love was endless and boundless, and that if He loved me so much, how could I not love myself?" 
For most of her life, Crystal McVea was a skeptic whose history of abuse and bad choices made her feel beyond the reach of God--who questioned if God was even real. She had all but given up hope. Then came December 10, 2009--and the moment that changed everything.
For nine minutes that night, Crystal went into full respiratory arrest. She was unconscious and unable to breathe on her own, unaware of the crisis happening around her as the hospital staff rushed to save her life. Crystal doesn't remember the trauma or losing consciousness; she just remembers waking up in heaven, next to God.
Waking Up in Heaven invites readers to witness the relentless pursuit of God in a life that was broken and seemingly beyond hope, an awe-inspiring account of love, forgiveness, and redemption, and the healing power of God's presence.

My thoughts:

I think any Christian probably wonders what exactly Heaven might be like. Of course, it is beyond anything we can imagine, but there have been several books like this one out in the last few years and I am always interested to read about other people's experiences, what they remember of what they saw and what they have to say about it. I thought this was a very interesting account. McVea definitely had a troublesome past, starting with abuse at an age that she could not possibly have understood at the time. That seem to lead to a life of low self esteem and hoping from men to men as a result and also caused her to be a skeptic when it came to God. Still, she prayed. He was there all  along and for her, it took dying and meeting Him to understand and truly believe that. I read this book in just a couple of days and I definitely sympathized with McVea and the things she went through in her life, no one, especially a child, should have to go through the things she went through. However, I found the book to be 90% about her life and 10% about her account in Heaven. I know she was not there long and that her story needed to be told so we could understand where she was coming from and why it was a miracle for her to be able to experience Heaven. I do love that she is sharing her message and helping other victims of abuse get through the feelings they have to feel and embrace God. This was a fast and uplifting read, but I would not recommend it to the faint of heart, as there are some pretty heavy subject matters brought up that may make some people very uncomfortable. For those that like to read a story of someone who was down and out and has now figured out a way to use their past to help others, this is a book you will enjoy.

Connect with Crystal McVea on Goodreads
Waking Up In Heaven on Facebook

Buy the book on

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Mary Kay Makeup Review

*Disclosure- I received Mary Kay Products via Influenster for testing purposes. All opinions stated are 100% my own.

I was SO excited when I learned that I was one of the lucky Influenster members that would get to try several Mary Kay products through their Vox Box program! When my box arrived the first thing I thought was "Wow, what a cute box!!" It was so girlie! When I got past how cute it was an opened it up, I was excited to see some of my favorite types of makeup products included. The box had a cream eye shadow in the shade violet storm, a eye cream/concealer makeup brush, True Dimensions lipstick in the shade pink cherie, eyelash primer and lash lengthening mascara.

My first thought on the products was that I LOVED the lipstick. It was a great shade of pink, just enough color for daytime wear. It took me a second to figure out how to open the tube because the top kind of clicks off instead of just automatically opening, but when I finally figured it out I thought it was so cool. The innovation in the clicking tube is that it is impossible to break your lipstick by it rolling up into the lid on accident! I don't know if I explained that well, but believe me, this is an awesome thing! After I tried on the lipstick, I tried the eyelash primer and mascara. I think the primer teamed with the lengthening mascara truly makes a difference. I mean, really? Look at how long my lashes look in the above picture! No clumps either. This is fantastic mascara and the primer just give in an extra kick! To finish off my look, it was time to try violet storm. I was excited because purple is my favorite color, but nervous because it's such a bold color. I have tried cream eye colors in the past, but they always only lasted a few hours before smudging or disappearing all together. I LOVED the way violet storm looked against my skin (that doesn't happen often with anything outside of the neutral color realm) and couldn't wait to go out and show off my new look. I got compliments from several different people. And it stayed put. All day. I mean ALL DAY. I really do plan to buy this eye cream in several more colors. It will be my go to eye makeup from now on! The makeup brush included in the box is a great brush that makes application a breeze, even for a novice.

Overall, I was impressed. Not a product in the box I didn't like. These products could stand up to much more expensive beauty products. I would highly recommend any of these, but if you can only splurge on one thing definitely go for the eye cream!

Find out more at the Mary Kay Website
Connect with Mary Kay on Facebook
Connect with Mary Kay on Twitter

One Woman Farm by Jenna Woginrich Book Review

Disclosure- I received a free e-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:

Jenna Woginrich’s inspiring journey from city cubicle to rural homestead has captivated readers of her blog and previous books. Now, in One Woman Farm, Woginrich shares the joys, sorrows, trials, epiphanies, and blessings she discovers during a year spent farming on her own land, finding deep fulfillment in the practical tasks and timeless rituals of the agricultural life.

My thoughts: Wonginrich's book about her life on her farm is set up like a diary. It starts in October of one year and end's in October of the next. It's like taking a peek deep into someone's soul. She shares exactly how her farm makes her feel (wonderful, fulfilled, full of love) as well as shares how each season on the farm pans out. You almost feel as if you are right there with her tending to chickens, learning how to milk goats, fulfilling a dream to get your very own horse. The only thing I didn't enjoy about this account of farming is the thought of raising animals for slaughter...of course, that is just part of farm life, but something I just couldn't imagine doing. That is very tiny part of Jenna's book though and I think anyone who enjoys a non-fiction book now again would love to read this story, almost romantic in it's delivery. This woman clearly is in love with her land, her animals, her new life. This story was a great escape for me. I constantly found myself thinking "Wow, she sure works hard, but I would love to go hang out for a day or two on this farm with her." Wonginrich is definitely self sufficient, but I loved reading the entries of the book where she would help other farmers or they would help her, it sounds like such a lovely community of people and I am sure some wonderful friendships have developed. This look into farm life has me pinning for fall, so I can go visit some of the local farms in my area!

Connect with Jenna Woginrich on Goodreads
Connect with Jenna Woginrich on Twitter
Jenna Woginrich's Blog "Cold Antler Farm"

One Woman Farm will be available on October 16, 2013. You can pre-order it today on

Anomaly by Krista McGee Blog Tour and Book Review

About the book: 

Thalli has fifteen minutes and twenty-three seconds left to live. The toxic gas that will complete her annihilation is invading her bloodstream. But she is not afraid. Decades before Thalli's birth, the world ended in a nuclear war. But life went on deep underground, thanks to a handful of scientists known as The Ten. Since then, they have genetically engineered humans to be free from emotions in the hopes that war won't threaten their lives again. But Thalli was born with the ability to feel emotions and a sense of curiosity she can barely contain. She has survived so far thanks to her ability to hide those differences. But Thalli's secret is discovered when she is overwhelmed by the emotion in an ancient piece of music. She is quickly scheduled for annihilation, but her childhood friend, Berk, convinces The Ten to postpone her death and study her instead. While in the scientists' Pod, Thalli and Berk form a dangerous alliance, one strictly forbidden by the constant surveillance in the pods. As her life ticks away, she hears rumors of someone called the Designer---someone even more powerful than The Ten. What's more, the parts of her that have always been an anomaly could in fact be part of a much larger plan. And the parts of her that she has always guarded could be the answer she's been looking for all along. Thalli must sort out what to believe and who she can trust, before her time runs out . . .

My thoughts:

Anomaly is dystopian at it's finest. Not only is it a peek out how life could be in the aftermath of a nuclear war if there were to be survivors, but it does a great job of interweaving faith throughout the story. Thalli and her peers have each been created in a lab to hold specific qualities that will help each of them thrive together. Thalli notices very early in her life that she gets feelings that others do not and that she is different. These feeling eventually get her in trouble, scheduled for annihilation, as everyone who steers off of the course of life set for them is. Berk is an old friend of hers who now happens to be a scientist and finds a way to postpone her annihilation. While she is studied, Thalli can't tell what is real life and what is engineered by these scientists and is not sure what to believe anymore- what she has been taught all of her life, or about the Designer she has just come to know about. The relationship between Thalli and Berk is interesting to follow because in this world people do not form romantic bonds. To see him looking out for her and to wonder what would become of them kept me turning the pages. As the end of the novel drew near, an interesting plot twist through  me for a loop and definitely has me intrigued for the next book in the series. I really can't wait to find out what happens next! I would recommend Anomaly to anyone that enjoys books in the dystopian genre.

About Krista:

When Krista McGee isn't living in fictional worlds of her own creation, she lives in Tampa and spends her days as a wife, mom, teacher, and coffee snob. She is also the author of Anomaly, First Date, Starring Me, and Right Where I Belong.

Connect with Krista at her website .

Check out what other bloggers are saying about Anomaly!

Purchase a copy of the book at

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Purex Fabric Softener Dryer Sheets Review And Giveaway

*Disclosure- I received a complimentary box of Purex Fabric Softener Dryer Sheets to try for the purpose of this review. I was not required to render a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

I haven't used dryer sheets in years and really wanted to give them another try so I was happy to take the chance to review Purex Fabric Softener Dryer Sheets. I am a fan of all things lavender, so I was hoping to receive the sweet lavender sheets and was happy that I did. I could smell them through the box when they arrived on my doorstep! I immediately took them out to add to our laundry for the day (because with a husband who works in the emergency room and three little ones ages 5 and under, there is always plenty of laundry waiting to be done!) and could smell the calming scent of lavender through the several loads that I did. Not only is the scent wonderful, I definitely noticed a difference in the softness of our clothes just after one wash. There was absolutely zero static cling going on, which was a welcome change. I do have skin sensitivities so I am hoping that these are gentle enough for me to continue far so good. I really love having a scent back to my laundry (we usually use Free + Clear everything) and especially that is is 3x's the fragrance of previous Purex sheets. It is the perfect amount of scent to make the clothes smell wonderful, but not be overbearing. Purex Fabric Softener Sheets are also available in Mountain Breeze.

Learn more about Purex Fabric Softener Sheets and other Purex products on the Purex Facebook page. 

I have 3 product coupons for a free Purex Fabric Softener Sheets  to share with three lucky readers! Enter via the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Beating the Lunch Box Blues: Fresh Ideas for Lunches on the Go! By: J. M. Hirsch Book Review

*Disclosure- I received a free e-copy of the book via NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

My daughter is starting Kindergarten in the fall and a big concern for me is the lack of nutrition offered by the school cafeterias in our nation. As a result, I have been planning to pack her lunches daily and send them with her. The dilemma, of course, is to make the food seem more appealing than the rubber fakery that the school cafeterias call food and I don't think eating a sandwich every day would be desirable nor would I expect her to cheerily consume the exact same lunch every day. I had already decided that I will pack her lunches as many of the Japanese do- Bento style. It is an art form, really, but also a great way to pack a healthy, varied lunch.

Anyway, I was super excited to run across a cookbook on NetGalley devoted specifically to packing interesting lunches. Many of the recipes are derived from cooking dinners and using left overs which is cool by me. I think a lot of the recipes in the book would be more appealing to my husband than my 5 year old daughter, but it was still helpful because I have also been in a rut trying to figure out what to pack him for his overnight shift at the hospital. I do think that many of the recipes are things my daughter will eat as well though.  There are several categories the book is divided into including breakfast for lunch (this will definitely come in handy for my breakfast loving 5 yr old, I would have never thought to send breakfast for lunch, but why not?) a section on sandwiches, another one on sausages and one completely devoted to poultry. There is even a small vegetarian section, which I found refreshing (I just wish it contained a little more)! There are ideas in this book for pretty much every meal under the sun that you can possibly think of. I love the idea of taking school lunches beyond sandwiches and prepacked Lunchables which have a gazillion milligrams of sodium and are also highly processed. I like that this book offers a variety of options, keeping lunch less boring than lunch can be known to be. This book will definitely come in handy when school starts and I need some great ideas for my daughter's lunchbox!

Beating the Lunch Box Blues will be available for purchase September 3. You can pre-order at In the meantime you can check out J.M Hirsh's website where he posts pictures of his son's lunch box contents. If you need ideas for lunches, you will love his website and the book!

Nearing Home By Billy Graham- Book Review

*Disclosure- I recieved a complimentary copy of the book via the Book Sneeze program. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

About the book:

"Growing old has been the greatest surprise of my life,” says Billy Graham, known by many as God’s Ambassador. “I would have never guessed what God had in store for me, and I know that as I am nearing home, He will not forsake me the last mile of the way.”
In Nearing Home this man of faith—now in his nineties—explores the challenges of aging while gleaning foundational truths from Scripture. Billy Graham invites us to journey with him as he considers the golden years while anticipating the hope of being reunited with his wife, Ruth, in his heavenly home that eclipses this world. “When granted many years of life, growing old in age is natural, but growing old with grace is a choice,” says the author. “Growing older with grace is possible for all who will set their hearts and minds on the Giver of grace, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Join Billy Graham as he shares the challenges of fading strength but still standing strong in his commitment to finishing life well.

My thoughts: This book is aimed at elderly people, but I think younger people (like me) can get a lot out of it too. Mr. Graham has inspired and even brought many people to faith throughout the years. I have been blessed enough to see him speak before he retired and there is just something about him that captivates and demands your attention. For that reason, even though I knew this book was meant for older people, I wanted to read it anyway, to file his thoughts away for a time in my life when I need it. I found while reading this book that many of the the thoughts and ideas can be applied today. Things like looking back on certain choices made, we might find that we regret some past decisions, but that was then and this is now...that advice could certainly help even the youngest of readers. There are thoughts on how to handle retirement (and a reminder that we are all different and different things work for different people), to arrange for things that in the event of your death, your family will have no question of what should go to whom and how things should be taken care of...things that I think everyone, not just the elderly, should consider having in place since we just never know when our time will be up. I love that this was Mr. Graham being an open book, speaking candidly about the loss of his dearly loved wife Ruth, about how he hasn't really loved growing old. This is an honest and thoughtful book written by one of God's greatest speakers. I was truly inspired having read it. I would recommend this book to anyone who is inspired by Billy Graham's work or who just enjoy or need words of wisdom regarding growing older and eternal life.