Monday, February 24, 2014

A Road Unknown by Barbara Cameron Blog Tour & Book Review + Win a $200 Visa Cash Card

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

About the book:

Elizabeth is at a crossroad. She's been given the chance to experience life outside of her community, away from the responsibility to care for her eight younger siblings, but Elizabeth Bontrager can't decide which road to take. Goshen has its charms and pressures, but Paradise, Pennsylvania, sounds . . . well, like paradise. And it's also home to her Englisch friend, Paula. Decision made. Elizabeth is Paradise bound.
But will the small town live up to its name? When Elizabeth meets Paula's friend, Bruce, she quickly learns he wants more than a friendship. And the same might be true of Saul Miller, her new boss at the country story that sells Amish products to the Englisch community. As the two compete for her attention, Elizabeth is surprised to realize she misses her family and becomes even more uncertain about where she belongs. She has a choice to make: return home or embrace this new life and possibly a new love?

My thoughts:

A Road Unknown is the first book in the Amish Roads series by Barbara Cameron. I love to read novels about the Amish because I find them and their lifestyle fascinating, so starting a new series where I might get to know several characters well when it's all said and done is always something I am willing to do. I liked that Elizabeth wanted to step out of her comfort zone and go live with her Englisch friend somewhere entirely different from her family, and the second she meets Saul on the bus, I know immediately that I will like him as the story goes on. As Elizabeth's story unfolds, it is clear that the responsibilities of her home life and helping take care of her brothers and sisters has taken a toll on her and she just wanted to step out of that life and find herself. I love that through her new job and her new place that she is living she might find out she is meant to do something she never imagined. Moving to Paradise seems to be exactly what Elizabeth needed. I feel so bad for her in several situations when it seems like she is being judged harshly or being told what to do when she is an adult and wants to make her own decisions independently. My blood boiled for her when she received a letter from her grandmother. Grandmothers should be loving and encouraging and Elizabeth's  is neither. I enjoyed following her journey, getting to know the new people in her community with her and seeing her have the opportunity to chose between two men, when in the past she hadn't had the time to have any options at all. Because she has had basically no life outside of her family, I found myself happy that she had a few big decisions to make! I look forward to seeing what characters will be in the second book in the Amish Roads series! I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in faith based romance novels or anyone interested in the Amish.

You can buy a copy of the A Road Unknown at or at Christian retail stores nationwide.

About the author:

 Barbara Cameron is a best-selling author who has a heart for writing about the spiritual values and simple joys of the Amish. She is the author of more than 38 fiction and nonfiction books, three nationally televised movies, and the winner of the first Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award. Barbara is a former newspaper reporter. Some of her non-fiction titles include the Everything Weddings on a Budget Book and Her Restless Heart: A Woman's Longing for Love and Acceptance. Cameron currently resides in Edgewater, Florida.

*********************Enter to win a $200 Visa Cash Card Below!*********************

Barbara Cameron is celebrating the release of A Road Unknown with a $200 Visa cash card giveaway and a fun "Amish Roads" Facebook party.
One winner will receive:
  • A $200 Visa cash card
  • A Road Unknown by Barbara Cameron
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 27th. Winner will be announced at Barbara's "Amish Roads" Facebook Party on February 27th. Connect with Barbara for an evening of book chat, Amish trivia, laughter, prizes, and more!

So grab your copy of A Road Unknown and join Barbara and friends on the evening of February 27th 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 todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 27th!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Rodale's Basic Organic Gardening: A Beginners Guide to Starting a Healthy Garden by Deborah L. Martin

Disclosure- I received an advanced reader's 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:

When the inspiration hits to start an organic garden, many novices could benefit from a guidebook that speaks directly to their enthusiasm, their goals, and, of course, their need for solid information that speaks a newbie’s language—from the most trusted source for organic gardening methods.

In Rodale’s Basic Organic Gardening, general garden-building skills (from "Do I need to dig?" to "Where do I dig?") and specific techniques (from "How do I plant a seed?" to "How much should I water?") are presented in growing-season order—from garden planning and planting to growing and harvesting. Many other need-to-know topics like soil, compost, seeds, pest control, and weeds are explained in simple language to ensure success, even on a small scale, on the first try. More than 100 common garden terms are defined, and Smart Starts sidebars offer doable projects to build confidence and enthusiasm for expanding a garden when a gardener is ready. A flower, vegetable, and herb finder highlights easycare plants with good track records. Plus, there are no-dig garden methods, simple garden layouts, and tips and hints inspired by the most popular page views on

With a "no question is unwelcome" approach, a troubleshooting section lessens frustrations and encourages experimentation. Rodale’s Basic Organic Gardening is everything a beginning gardener (or one who’s new to gardening organically) needs to get growing and keep a garden going strong all season.

My thoughts:

I am not someone who was born with the green thumb. There are gardeners in my family but none that live close enough to me for me to go check out what they do to get their crops. I have had enough home grown tomatoes to know that they taste way better than the kind you buy at the stores. I have mentioned on this blog countless times too, about my  quest since my kids came into this world to help them (and my husband and I) establish better eating habits and there is no better way to do that than grow your own food. 3 years ago I tried, and failed, to grow just a few things in my backyard. I lived at a house that was full of gorgeous shade trees that coupled with my novice status as a gardener, I just didn't have the information I needed to really get what I wanted out of planting things. Last year, newly moved into our first home we have owned, I knew I needed (and wanted) to try again. I can not remember what all I planted, but I do know I got spinach, cilantro and zucchini to grow. I have read several gardening books since then trying to figure out what it is I need to do to get things to grow for me and while all of the ones I have read thus far have good information, none of them have been as thorough and extensive as this one. I absolutely want our food to be as pure as possible so I plan to use organic gardening methods, so this is the absolute perfect book for me. I ordered all heirloom/non-gmo seeds from Baker's Creek and have already started several indoors. Rodale's Basic Organic Gardening covers everything about growing your own food starting with the soil and ending with knowing when and how to pick your crops. I found the section on easy to grow plants for beginners extremely helpful and I know that when the books comes out and I buy a hard copy, I will be referring to this book often to get the most I can out of my garden. My goal is to have enough to be able to share! I also really enjoyed the sections on making your own compost and saving seeds to use. Saving seeds would be a real money saver and also a great way to keep these great heirloom crops in circulation. I definitely plan to give it a go.

Beyond the actual planting and growing, there are tips for taking care of weeds, good bugs vs. bad bugs and pretty much anything a new (or new-ish) organic gardener would need to know. I highly recommend this book to absolutely anyone who is interested in becoming a home gardener. This book has absolutely everything you need to know.

Rodale's Basic Organic Gardening will be available for purchase March 11, 2014. You can pre-order a copy on

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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Beyond the Shadow of the Brownstone by Valerie Lawrence

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher 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 (from the back cover)-

Following a family as they transition from the "Old World" culture to their newly adopted country, Beyond the Shadow of the Brownstone pulses with life and death sorrow and joy. We hold on for dear life traversing through the wild turbulence of trials, tragedies and triumphs. Knowing that children are the spiritual and corporal legacy, the family is fractured when abortion becomes a very real issue. The psychological impact presents thought provoking ideas that challenge the reader.

The reader emerges through the storm weathered and worn, but with the realization that life is precious, fleeting and fragile. The knowledge that a life full of joy, hope and peace is possible, only after forgiveness. VM Lawrence reminds us that those living in depths of despair, or struggling with family problems, can find solace by offering them the wisdom that a broken, bitter and battered heart can be transformed into a heart filled with unconditional acceptance and unending love.

My thoughts-

My first thought about this novel is how beautiful the front cover is. It is beautiful to me in a tragic kind of way, without even reading the back cover to find out what the book is about, you immediately get the feeling that something tragic will occur. The book spans several time periods and offers glimpses into the same family from several different generations. The most prominent character is Grace, who is in the middle generation. Before I go further with my thoughts, I will mention here that this book has some heavy subject matters that some may wish to not read about in their fiction, so if that is you, it might be wise to stop reading this review here. For the rest of you still with me, Grace finds herself pregnant as a young mother when she doesn't feel like her husband will take the news well, so she chooses to have an abortion. She never tells a soul, but makes it her life's mission to help other people. It haunts her for all of her days, so when her son calls her with the news that his own wife is considering the same option...after all a baby would get in the way of her big promotion at work...Grace makes it her personal mission to do everything in her power to save her grandchild. Grace does some pretty crazy things in order to try and save the baby, but the ONE thing that might have actually helped. I feel like I would have liked this book more, if the characters were more developed. The main take away I got is that everyone in this family is extremely selfish, even the well-intentioned ones like Grace, not always being authentic to who they are or sharing with others thoughts or past mistakes that may have brought them closer as a family and saved everyone a lot of pain. In the beginning of the book, we did get to know some of the older characters and I wish that it would have continued on that path instead of focusing solely on one subject and not so much on the rest of the lives that led up that pivotal moment. Still, the authors passion for education (In the book, Grace and her husband are teachers) and the right to live are obvious and Beyond the Shadow of the Brownstone is definitely a legacy of her thoughts she left behind for all to see. This novel would make be a good pick to get a conversation going about controversial issues.

About the author (from the back cover of the book)-

Valerie M. Lawrence (1945-2013) "Beyond the Shadow of the Brownstone" A brilliant work by this most accomplished author. A troubled childhood directed her to seek comfort in the one area that only she could control, that of education. Graduating Magna Cum Laude from Duquesne University with a degree in science, she continued her studies at the University of Pittsburgh receiving her PhD in Psychology. Coupled with her religious training and certifications in related program, along with her vast research and clinical studies she became a specialist in individual, family and marriage conflicts. "If you can't control the winds, adjust the sails". Those words were the compass that helped her navigate the seas of life. Drawing on personal discipline, moral integrity and educational and religious values along with the desire to assist those with personal demos she found the perfect canvas for Beyond the Shadow of the Brownstone.

Valerie M. Lawrence on Goodreads

You can buy a copy of Beyond the Shadow of the Brownstone on

Give and Save Review

*Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.

If you are like me, you like websites like Groupon and Living Social that offer daily deals on products and services. I can't even count how many times I have used these types of websites, but what I do know is that I have saved a ton of money in the process. There is a new deal website called Give and Save that hopes to offer the same sort of discounts, but with a charitable twist-  for each purchase you make on the Give and Save website, you are able to choose a charity that a portion of the profits will go to. If there is one thing I love more than saving my own money, it is helping other people who need it and Give and Save allows us to do both.

When I checked out the website to decide what I wanted to purchase, one of the deals at the time was to name a star. My 6 year old daughter has been a little bit obsessed with the stars recently, she has told me on more than one occasion that she would really REALLY like to have a telescope, so when I saw the deal for Your Star Forever, I KNEW that was the one I had to get. I clicked on the option to purchase my deal and when I got to the page to do so, there is a drop down list of charitable organizations to choose from. All are worthy causes that could use donations and it is difficult for me to pick one over the others, but in the end I decided to go with the American Red Cross. There have been so many natural disasters in the last few years, it felt like the right choice. After choosing your charity you enter your payment information on the same page, making the checkout process incredibly easy and convenient. You then receive a confirmation email and shortly after that an email from the company you bought your deal from with a code to use on their website. I hit a little speed bump with the Your Star Forever company because my code did not work upon my first try, but the people at Give and Save were quick to figure out the issue (which was just that the Your Star Forever company didn't input the code correctly at first) and resolved it right away.  When I went back to the website, the code worked beautifully and now my little girl has her own star to look at when we get that telescope one day.

Right now, there are not a ton of daily deals to choose from on the Give and Save website, but I imagine as word gets out about this wonderful website that the number of deals will continue to grow. I would love to see this website get as big as the other daily deal sites, I know I would much rather purchase something from somewhere if I know that it will help others in the process. I absolutely love the idea of a portion of my money going to wonderful charities and I can not wait to watch Give and Save continue to grow.

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I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Happy Wives Club by Fawn Weaver (Book Review)

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

About the book (from the back cover)

One woman undertakes a worldwide search to learn the secrets of a great marriage—and finds one foundational truth that could change everything.

Fawn Weaver was a happily married woman running a successful business—and then something happened. Maybe it was divorce rate reports on the evening news, The Real Housewives of Orange County, or any daytime talk show where husbands and wives dramatically reveal their betrayals. Everywhere she looked, Fawn saw negative portrayals of marriage dominating the airwaves and dooming everyone to failure.

Looking at Keith, the love of her life, she knew that wasn’t true. She was determined to find and connect with women just like her—happy and optimistic about marriage, deeply in love with her spouse, and committed to building a strong marriage that stands the test of time.

On a whim, she started the blog and sent the link to a few of new friends. What started as a casual invitation to five women exploded into an international online club with 150,000 members in more than 100 countries.

Happy Wives Club is Fawn’s journey across the world to meet her friends and discover what makes their marriages great. Join her on this exciting, exotic trip across six continents and through more than eighteen cities. Walk the streets of Mauritius, the historic ruins in Italy, and the vistas of New Zealand and Australia. Go from Cape Town to London, Manila to Buenos Aires, Winnipeg to Zagreb.

Along the way, you will meet everyday women whose marriage secrets span cultures. You will hear their stories, witness their love, and be inspired by the proof that happy, healthy marriages do exist—and yours can be one of them!

It turns out great marriages are all around us—when we look for them. Go on a trip with Fawn and learn the best marriage secrets the world has to offer.

My thoughts:

When I read the description of this book, I was intrigued. It does seem that we are surrounded by a negative conception of being married. My husband and I are 8+ years in and there have definitely been ups and downs, definitely times where things were strained, but overall we have always had a strong love and a happy vibe in our marriage. It was great to read that someone has made it their mission to put out the word that happy marriages do exist and have these happy wives unite and encourage one another. For the most part it seemed throughout Fawn's journey, whether it be in Africa, Australia, Europe or North America, everyone's secrets to marriage were pretty much the same answers. It seems that no matter the culture, the same handful of things as well as making up your mind to be in a happy marriage and not let the negativity seep in, seems to work for couples globally. I was not shocked at the answers these couples gave as their secrets to a happy marriage, but what I loved about this book was the absolute positivity that radiated out of it. I loved reading these couples personal stories and even seeing the author find some answers for her own life through her journey. I absolutely loved reading about all of Mrs. Weaver's travels throughout the world and her descriptions of all the places she visited and the sheer love she clearly has for husband. Part of the beauty of the book is that it is clear that the author absolutely feels as she says she does about her marriage and you can really see that through her words about him or all of the times she mentions how much she misses him while she is off seeking the answers from these great couples and I loved reading about the reunions through the book. I absolutely recommend this book to anyone who needs some encouragement about happy marriages or just likes reading happy stories or stories about travel.

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Happy Wives Club Website

About the author:

Fawn Weaver is the president of ValRentco Corporation, it’s subsidiary and a former hotel general manager. She and her husband Keith have been married since 2003 and despite both having busy schedules, they make it a point to keep the flame burning for their marriage. Fawn's passion for her marriage set her on a journey that began with The Happy Wives Club website and turned into this wonderful world wide adventure that became the book Happy Wives Club book.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Friend Me by John Faubion Blog Tour & Book Review + Enter to win a Kindle Fire HDX!

About the book:

 When a lonely wife and her frustrated husband each secretly pursue companionship online, neither dreams that a real woman is behind their virtual creations, threatening their marriage---and their lives.

Scott and Rachel's marriage is on the brink of disaster. Scott, a businessman with a high-pressure job, just wants Rachel to understand him and accept his flaws. Rachel is a lonely housewife, desperate for attention and friendship. So she decides to create a virtual friend online, unaware that Scott is doing the exact same thing. As Rachel desperately tries to re-create a friendship with a friend who has passed, Scott becomes unfaithful and is torn between the love for his wife and the perfection of his cyber-girlfriend. But neither realizes that there's a much larger problem looming . . .
Behind both of their online creations is Melissa, a woman who is brilliant---and totally insane. Masquerading as both friend and lover, Melissa programmed a search parameter into the virtual friend software to find her perfect man, but along the way she forgot to specify his marriage status. And Scott is her ideal match. Now Melissa is determined to have it all---Scott, his family, and Rachel's life.
As Melissa grows bolder and her online manipulations transition into the real world, Scott and Rachel figure out they are being played. Now it's a race against time as Scott and Rachel fight to save their marriage, and their lives, before it's too late.
In today's digital age, the Internet presents all kinds of opportunities to test our personal boundaries, and this exciting and suspenseful story raises important questions about the ethics of virtual relationships. Friend Me will open your eyes to a new-and terrifying-moral dimensions and how they play out in the real world.

My thoughts:

I have always been a huge fan of suspense novels, but for some reason in the last few years I have mostly set them aside in favor of historical romance or other love stories. I am glad that the plot to Friend Me sounded so intriguing, it definitely reminded me why I have always loved suspense novels to begin with.  The plot to this novel is a nod to modern technology, the age of Facebook and Twitter, Instagram and everything else that keeps us connected online. A company creates a service called VirtualFriendMe where you can create your own customized friend. It can be a person completely from your imagination, or someone that actually does (or did) exist if that is what you prefer. Rachel chooses to create a friend that she has been missing. Her husband also creates friend of his own, one he doesn't want to tell anyone about. What Rachel and Scott don't know, is there is a real person behind both of their friends and she will stop at nothing to get what she wants...

I really enjoyed this book. It was definitely a page turner for me. I read it in just a few short days. I felt that I could really relate to Rachel, as a stay at home mom to 3 children, most of the things she goes through or feels are things that I have gone through or felt myself. It was nice also to peek into the husband/male prospective as well, to be reminded that they have their own problems and worries. I thought the prologue at the beginning of the book was the perfect way to get the reader enticed and ready to get on with the story and find out what is going to happen. The build up to the end of the story is gradual, but gets intense at the end. I really enjoyed Friend Me and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys page turning suspense novels.

About the author:

About the author: John Faubion has spent many years in Asia as a missionary with his family. Since returning to the United States, John has worked as a senior software developer for a large appliance chain. He teaches an adult Sunday school class and enjoys writing and driving his 1949 Packard automobile. John lives near Indianapolis with his wife, Beth, and their daughter.

Learn more about John at:

Read an excerpt and purchase a copy at

John Faubion is celebrating his debut novel, Friend Me, with a Kindle HDX giveaway!

One winner will receive:
  • A brand new Kindle Fire HDX
  • Friend Me by John Faubion
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 22nd. Winner will be announced February 24th on John Faubion's blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to stop by John's blog on the 24th to see if you won.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Doctor's Diet by Travis Stork, M.D.

*Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via NetGalley 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 Doctor's Diet is the cure to unhealthy eating — an American epidemic with a death toll higher than that of car accidents, drug abuse, smoking, and gun violence combined. Dr. Stork is genuinely concerned about what he considers to be a true crisis. He has created a flexible and workable diet plan that will help readers lose weight, restore health, prevent disease and ultimately add years to their lives. In the book, Dr. Stork explains all of the potentially fatal health risks associated with an unhealthy diet and the specific food groups that can act as medicines to attain immediate results. Flexibility is built into the recipes in order to accommodate all different diets and skill levels, from meat lovers to vegetarians and chefs to non-cooks. In The Doctor's Diet, Dr. Stork outlines the steps to a healthier life with encouragement, personal anecdotes, and a passionate sense of urgency to rescue the reader from diet-related demise.

My thoughts:

I haven't watched The Doctors on tv in a long time because, well, two 4 year old boys will keep you too busy to watch daytime television, but I have watched it enough in the past to know that I usually agree with Dr. Travis Stork and I know that he is an advocate for health and wellness, so when I saw that he wrote a new book about weight loss and eating well, I knew it was something I would definitely want to read. I was right. This book is written in a conversational, casual tone, leaving behind medical jargon in favor of laymen's terms and easy to understand advice. Dr. Stork discusses different foods and why they are healthy and why they are not or even if the jury is still out on specific foods. He cites extensive sources at the end to back up his claims in case anyone is interested in reading further or checking out the studies he refers to throughout the book. That is something I can really appreciate. This book is a great place to start for someone struggling with their weight that just does not know where to start to gain their health back or even to someone who has a good idea what needs to be done but needs some good recipes to add to their repertoire. I was reading through the book thinking, this is absolutely terrific advice, but I wonder how awful the recipes will be! That is an awful way to think about health, but it is true that most of us probably do. While I have not tried any of the recipes just yet, as I was reading recipe after recipe my mouth would water and my stomach even growled a little. I didn't see anything I wouldn't try and I even think my kids would eat most of the recipes offered here.

The biggest points are eat clean and get moving. I think most of us know that, but the positive way in which this information is presented, with specific power foods mentioned to help boost your weight loss and hunger pangs, I think Dr. Stork really hit the nail on the head. This will be the book I recommend to anyone who wishes to eat better, get healthier or lose a few pounds.

About the author:

Travis Stork, M.D. is best known from his television ventures, first as a suitor on The Bachelor and more recently as the head doctor on the daytime talk show The Doctors. Dr. Stork was educated at the University of Virginia and Duke University. He has written several health and wellness books including The Lean Belly Prescription and The Doctor is In: A 7-Step Prescription for Optimal Wellness.
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The Doctor's Diet is available now on

Gemini by Carol Cassella (Book Review)

*Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via NetGalley 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 stranger’s life hangs in the balance. What if you had the power to decide if she lives or dies? Dr. Charlotte Reese works in the intensive care unit of Seattle’s Beacon Hospital, tending to patients with the most life-threatening illnesses and injuries. Her job is to battle death—to monitor erratic heartbeats, worry over low oxygen levels, defend against infection and demise.

One night a Jane Doe is transferred to her care from a rural hospital on the Olympic Peninsula. This unidentified patient remains unconscious, the victim of a hit and run. As Charlotte and her team struggle to stabilize her, the police search for the driver who fled the scene.

Days pass, Jane’s condition worsens, and her identity remains a mystery. As Charlotte finds herself making increasingly complicated medical decisions that will tie her forever to Jane’s fate, her usual professional distance evaporates. She’s plagued by questions: Who is Jane Doe? Why will no one claim her? Who should decide her fate if she doesn’t regain consciousness—and when?

Perhaps most troubling, Charlotte wonders if a life locked in a coma is a life worth living.

Enlisting the help of her boyfriend, Eric, a science journalist, Charlotte impulsively sets out to uncover Jane Doe’s past. But the closer they get to the truth, the more their relationship is put to the test. It is only when they open their hearts to their own feelings toward each other—and toward life itself—that Charlotte and Eric will unlock Jane Doe’s shocking secret, and prepare themselves for a miracle.

Filled with intricate medical detail and set in the breathtaking Pacific Northwest, Gemini is a riveting and heartbreaking novel of moral com­plexity and emotional depth.
My thoughts:
My husband is a nurse practitioner in the emergency room so that was part of the reason that I was initially drawn to reading this novel. The bigger reason was that this just sounded like an interesting plot. The description above does not even begin to tough on the intricate story that Gemini is.  This book goes back and forth between time periods and the reader gets to know "Jane Doe" pretty intricately. We learn of her all the way back through her childhood days and for me, that kept me on edge through the entire book waiting to know what would become of her and if there would be anyone to claim her. I love how her backstory interweaved with Charlotte's present life, which makes complete sense to me because it feels almost like Charlotte begins to feel like "Jane Doe" is her family, or at least begins feeling very protective of her, contemplating what this unknown woman might want done in her situation. The parts I enjoyed the most were the bits set in the past. The characters were fun to get acquainted with and the author's great attention to detail make you feel like you are almost there with them.  I also felt the parts of the book when Charlotte is dealing with "Jane Doe's" medical condition are extremely interesting. You can tell that she is really knowledgeable, in the way that only someone who works in that specific field could be. I felt more than once that I could see this story becoming a movie someday.  Gemini is essential about love- young love, unrequited love, missed love and even love for someone that is barely known. Between all that love, there is a great interweaving of stories, filled with mysteries and interesting surprises throughout. Gemini would make a fantastic book club pick, I plan to suggest it to my own club. I read it in just a few short days because I absolutely couldn't put it down. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in suspense novels or just great contemporary fiction.

About the author:
(From the author's website)-Carol Cassella, M.D. is a practicing physician and national bestselling author of two novels, Oxygen (2008) and Healer (2010), published by Simon & Schuster and translated into multiple foreign languages. Both novels were Indie Next Picks and finalists for the Washington State Book Award in fiction. She has been Writer in Residence at Peninsula College in Port Angeles, Washington, and the recipient of a writing residency at Hedgebrook retreat.
Gemini will be available on March 4, 2014. You can pre-order it on

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Marriage You've Always Wanted by Gary Chapman Review & Giveaway!

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

About the book:

You can picture the perfect marriage in your mind, but re-creating it in reality doesn’t come easy. Trusted counselor and relationship expert Dr. Gary Chapman reasons that the most sought-after ingredient in any marriage is true oneness. In The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted, he presents expert wisdom and common sense methods to establishing that true unity on emotional and practical levels. Discover the wit and insight that makes his worldwide presentations and marriage conferences so popular. Are you trying to change your spouse? Do you know what it means to really love someone? Do you feel ignored or even alone in your effort to improve your marriage? Dr. Chapman has answers and action steps on topics from expressing your emotions to managing your money, all in a format that will have you and your spouse talking and learning with every page.

My thoughts:

When my husband and I were preparing to get married, one of the best things we were asked to do during our pre marital counseling was to read The Five Love Languages. I have read a lot of books about marriage and that one has still been the most useful and made the most sense to both my husband and to me. Clearly Dr. Gary Chapman knows what he is talking about, so when I see a book by him, I am always interested in reading it. The Marriage You've Always Wanted is divided into 9 chapters that each focus on different things that will come up in a marriage. Many of the chapters I found would be more useful for a newly married couple, but there were several that screamed out to me "Oh yeah! That is a fantastic idea!" or "That makes total sense!". Even the advice that I found would be more useful for newlyweds were things that we could all use reminders about.  I think the best advice in the book is about how we all want to have a spouse that's understanding and kind, but that we don't always act that way toward them and that the best way to have a spouse that is understanding is kind is to BE a spouse that is understanding and kind. I am paraphrasing, but you get the idea. It is not a novel idea, but I am afraid it is something most of us need to hear for it to click. I know I certainly do! Something I really liked about this book is that at the end of each section there are discussion questions for reflection. These questions are thought provoking and meant to start a conversation between you and your spouse. One of the greatest things about this novel, is the plethora of books and website links at the end to even further your journey of a happy and fulfilling marriage. There were several I know that I will be adding to my bookshelves. The Marriage You've Always Wanted would make a great wedding gift and I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to improve their marriage.

You can purchase The Marriage You've Always Wanted on or Christian retailers nationwide.

About the author:

Dr. Chapman is the author of the wonderfully popular The Five Love Languages, as well as numerous other books about marriage and relationships. He also is the host of a nationally syndicated radio program and holds various marriage conferences throughout the year all over the country.

Dr. Chapman holds BA and MA degrees in anthropology from Wheaton College and Wake Forest University, respectively, MRE and PhD degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and has completed postgraduate work at the University of North Carolina and Duke University.

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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Julie Schoen's Yoga Sweat- Yoga For Weightloss Review

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial

When it comes to working out, there is really nothing I would rather do than yoga, but that does not always burn a great amount of calories...but when I came across this great yoga dvd that is intended for losing weight, I knew I was something that I would like to give a try. Julie Schoen's Yoga Sweat is definitely just that- yoga that makes you sweat! By continually moving while going through the poses, you are not only toning your body, but able to burn excess calories. There are two workouts included on the DVD. I have been doing yoga videos at home for a few years, but I would still consider myself a beginner because I haven't done them on a regular enough basis to comfortably do anything but basic poses at a decent level. I did find that I could do most of the first yoga session, but there were definitely several poses I was shaky on. I think that is a good thing though, that only means there is room for improvement. I absolutely want to improve my yoga skills, so this is a great place to start. I would definitely recommend that beginners like me don't attempt the second session until they are really comfortable with all of the poses in the first session. I tried the first 10 minutes or so and it was just too much for me, since I don't yet have the appropriate amount of balance. Once again, a great thing because you have something to work your way up to. Something I thought was really cool about Yoga Sweat is there is warm up and a cool down. I don't' know why I have never thought of doing that while doing yoga, but it is wonderful to stretch out before yoga and the cool down is so relaxing...I might even suggest doing just the cool down if you need to relax a little. Both the warm up and cool down are around 10 minutes each and really complete the workout. I really enjoyed Yoga Sweet, Julie Schoen is a calming and encouraging presence, a great asset when you are trying to better yourself by working out and losing weight. I definitely do much better with an encouraging instructor than a drill sergeant. If you are the same, this is a workout you will definitely want to check out.

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I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.