Tuesday, August 26, 2014

20 Things You Might Not Know About Me

Since I'm getting back into the swing of things with blogging, I wanted to go a little easy on myself for the next few days/weeks.  Would you believe I have blogger's block already?!

Hope you enjoy this particular post!

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This blog post is a part of the ’20 Things You Might Not Know About Me’ Blog Tag started by April from Blacksburg Belle. She began this blog tag experiment to build community among creatives, help us bloggers to connect more and get to know each other better. This month’s topic is all about sharing just a little too much information about yourself. If you’d like to participate or want more info, check out the beginning post right here.

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Question 1: How tall are you?

5'3"

Question 2: Do you have a hidden talent? If so, what?

Hidden???  Um, probably not, but one of the things that I'd like to think I can do better than my husband is painting.  I have serious ninja painting skills.  :)  (And not that hubby and I have contests against each other all the time...it's just that we sometimes revel take pride when we're really good at something.)

Question 3: What’s your biggest blog-related pet peeve?

A bad blog design/layout.

Question 4: What’s your biggest non-blog related pet peeve?

People that don't follow directions.

Question 5: What’s your favorite song?

Oy...that's a REALLY tricky one!  Asking a singer her favorite song is like asking a prolific reader about their favorite book - you cannot just choose one.

But...just so there IS an answer here, let me name my favorite country song - Whiskey Lullaby by Brad Paisley and Allison Strauss.

Question 6: What’s your favorite Etsy shop that isn’t yours?

ByJodi - I drool every time I come across one of her listings.  She is mega-talented!!!

Question 7: What’s your favorite way to spend your free time when you’re alone?

Usually reading or crafting something that isn't tied to my Etsy store.

Question 8: What’s your favorite junk food?

Oreos or Nutter Butters.

Question 9: Do you have a pet or pets? If so, what kind and what are their names?


Bella playing Peekaboo
Dasher sitting at my craft desk
Yes!  My pets are my babies (since I don't have actual *real* babies!)  Dasher is a Chinese Crested Powderpuff, and Bella is a Pug/Chihuahua mix so we call her a chug.  :)  They both have very distinct personalities, too.  Dasher is very protective of my hubby, but loves to play and chase his toys all over the house.  He'll also bark at any living creature on the tv, so hubby and I deal with growls and snarls on a regular basis.  Bella is the complete opposite - totally laid back and loves everyone.  Literally...she loves everyone.  :)

Question 10: What are you number one favorite fiction and non-fiction titles?

Lord, help me...I didn't even know this question was down here when I answered the song one... I don't really have a non-fiction title that I would consider my favorite.  I've read a lot of biographies that I'd consider as good, but none that really stand out as I'm typing this.

Favorite fiction title will probably always be Redeeming Love.

Question 11: What’s your favorite beauty product?

At this moment, I would probably be the 24/7 Velvet Eye Pencil by Urban Decay in Black.

Question 12: When were you last embarrassed? What happened?

When the fire department showed up at my house because we didn't punch the alarm code into the wall thingie to turn off the smoke alarm.  In all fairness, it was not the results of my cooking that set it off.

Question 13: If you could only drink one beverage (besides water) for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Sweet tea

Question 14: What’s your favorite movie?

Gone With the Wind

Question 15: What were you in high school: prom queen, nerd, cheerleader, jock, valedictorian, band geek, loner, artist, prep?

I was the nerd, salutatorian, singer, and resident loud mouth all rolled into one.  Thank God, I've mellowed out A LOT!!

Question 16: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?

Somewhere tropical

Question 17: PC or Mac?

PC

Question 18: Last romantic gesture from a crush, date, boy/girlfriend, spouse?

My hubby, the autograph collector, got me an autograph from my high school crush - Joe Lando from Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman - and it arrived in the mail this past weekend!  (That blog post will be coming soon!)

Question 19: Favorite celebrity?

David Boreanaz or Richard Armitage - got to meet the former at a Wizard Con event in Philly this past summer (fodder for a future blog post and/or series), and the latter is just total eye candy (and thanks to hubby, I have his autograph, too).

Question 20: What blogger do you secretly want be best friends with?

For this one, I'd have to say either Renee from Black 'n Gold Girl's Book Spot or Rissi from Dreaming Under the Same Moon.  I love both of these blogs equally, and while I'm "online" friends with these gals, I just think that if they lived right down the street from me, we'd be best friends.  :)

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So, I think the next step is nominating.  Since I've been out of the blogging loop for so long, I myself don't even know who else is in it!  I know the two ladies in the paragraph above are still actively blogging, so they're definitely up for nomination.

Here are the rules:

1. Copy and paste the questions below and then answer and turn them into a blog post. Or, record a video answering these questions and upload it to your blog post.

2. At the bottom of your post, tag anywhere from 2-10 bloggers you want to see answer these questions. (I also suggest hitting up your tagged people via social media just to let them know you tagged them to do this tag challenge.)

3. Use the title: 20 Things You Might Not Know About Me Blog Tag. Once you’ve hit publish, leave a comment below with the link to your post.

4. Use the hashtag #20ThingsBlogTag when sharing on social media so we can all find your awesome posts!

Question 1: How tall are you?
Question 2: Do you have a hidden talent? If so, what?
Question 3: What’s your biggest blog-related pet peeve?
Question 4: What’s your biggest non-blog related pet peeve?
Question 5: What’s your favorite song?
Question 6: What’s your favorite Etsy shop that isn’t yours?
Question 7: What’s your favorite way to spend your free time when you’re alone?
Question 8: What’s your favorite junk food?
Question 9: Do you have a pet or pets? If so, what kind and what are their names?
Question 10: What are your number one favorite nonfiction and fiction books?
Question 11: What’s your favorite beauty product?
Question 12: When were you last embarrassed? What happened?
Question 13: If you could only drink one beverage (besides water) for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Question 14: What’s your favorite movie?
Question 15: What were you in high school: prom queen, nerd, cheerleader, jock, valedictorian, band geek, loner, artist, prep?
Question 16: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
Question 17: PC or Mac?
Question 18: Last romantic gesture from a crush, date, boy/girlfriend, spouse?
Question 19: Favorite celebrity?
Question 20: What blogger do you secretly want be best friends with?

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Enjoy!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Book Review: The Caregiver by Shelley Shepard Gray - 4 Stars

**Quick update before diving in to this review ---

Do y'all have any idea how much I've missed this?!?!  I haven't really written down my thoughts about any books in oh...  A WHOLE YEAR!!!  I'd just about given up that I'd ever have the time to do it again!  While I don't anticipate having nearly the time to devote to it as I used to, I plan to be here a little more frequently than I used to be.  :)  I hope y'all will forgive my plodding along as I get back in the swing of things.

I have stacks and stacks of books that I'd committed to reviewing, so I don't plan to accept any additional books for... maybe ever.  :)  I just have too much other stuff on my plate to heap more on top of it.  So, some of what I'll be posting will be books that were released a couple of years ago, and probably little to none that are brand new releases.  I'm ok with that if you are.  *wink*

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About the book:

Two lives converge one stormy night on a train headed to Cleveland.

Lucy is traveling by herself via train to Jacob's Crossing to help care for her cousin Mattie, recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Trying to overcome the sudden death of her husband, she's glad to get away and focus on someone else for a while.

The only other Amish people on the train are Calvin Weaver and his little sister, Katie. When their train breaks down outside of Cleveland, Calvin and Lucy band together to face the outside world. But Calvin also carries the weight of past hurts. When an altercation brings both their wounds to light, they question whether they can trust each other.

Once in Jacob's Crossing, Lucy is occupied with caring for Mattie, while Calvin does his best to run his family's farm. But they can't stop thinking about those special hours spent together. Will the bond they formed last? And will Lucy and Calvin be able to put away the pain in their pasts to recognize the happiness that is suddenly in their grasp?

My review:

I had prepared myself early on to just read this one and be done with it.  I've been of the opinion that Shelley's books are good, but sometimes too rushed and lacking in substance and so I've struggled to really enjoy them.  After reading The Caregiver, my faith in her writing has been restored!

The Caregiver was such a touching novel, but also a difficult one to read because the author dealt with the very sensitive subject of physical abuse between a husband and a wife. It felt like my heart was literally aching when I read some of the scenes with Lucy and her husband. That was my first indication that this was going to be a fulfilling read...not because I take pleasure in reading about such a topic, but rather knowing that I wasn't going to be reading another book filled with warm fuzzies.

As the story progressed, I met Calvin, who was really the perfect person for Lucy after the death of her husband. (Don't worry...that last tidbit happens very early in the story, so I'm not spoiling anything for you. *wink*) Calvin had such a tender heart and concern toward Lucy that was like a balm to her soul.

As if there weren't enough emotions churning within me, there was also the addition of Lucy's cousin, Maddie, who was struggling from one day to the next with a cancer diagnosis. Since I just recently read a novel with cancer as the focus, I had a better idea of how excruciating this disease really is, and how the things that you think are the day-to-day norm suddenly become some of the hardest things to do.

There were enough secondary plots in The Caregiver to entice me to read the rest of this series, and I'm so happy that I didn't give up on Shelley's books!

4 Stars

**Many thanks to Avon Inspire for providing a copy for review.

Southern?  No
Sassy?  No

 Be sure to grab a copy of this book while it's 64% off the original cover price!!

 

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Semi-Book Review: Words by Ginny Yttrup

It's been a month of Sundays since my last book review, and unfortunately, there's no plans to resume them any time soon.  :o(  However, I did want to take a moment to share about a book I read recently.  :o)

I've had the pleasure of reading two books by Ginny Yttrup--Lost and Found and now, Words.  The latter book I finished a couple of weeks ago, and I've had trouble getting it out of my mind.  I won't give away any spoilers except to say the subject matter was one that Ginny experienced personally, and knowing that it was a personal connection to her childhood brought tears to my eyes.

I loved the realness of Words.  I loved getting a deeper meaning of some words that I've used all along, but how they can mean other things in different, uglier circumstances.  I allowed myself to naively wonder how God can allow such horrible things to happen, but then allowed myself to take note of how he heals us after we've been scarred.  Ginny's books reveal man's ugly human nature, but also about the God of the universe that washes away all of our sins.

For those that have never read Ginny's books, let me warn you ahead of time that hers are deep, emotional books.  I happened to read her second book first, and there were no words to describe the way it made me feel.  It was good, but difficult for me personally and the place I was in spiritually at that time.

So, not really a book review, per se...just my thoughts about a talented author and her very first novel.  :o)

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A link to more info about Words.

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Many thanks to B&H Publishing for supplying a copy of Words.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Book Review: Roses Have Thorns by Sandra Byrd/4 Stars

About the book:

From the acclaimed author of To Die For comes a stirring novel told that sheds new light on Elizabeth I and her court. Sandra Byrd has attracted countless fans for evoking the complexity, grandeur, and brutality of the Tudor period. In her latest tour de force, she poses the question: What happens when serving a queen may cost you your marriage—or your life?

In 1565, seventeen-year-old Elin von Snakenborg leaves Sweden on a treacherous journey to England. Her fiance has fallen in love with her sister and her dowry money has been gambled away, but ahead of her lies an adventure that will take her to the dizzying heights of Tudor power. Transformed through marriage into Helena, the Marchioness of Northampton, she becomes the highest-ranking woman in Elizabeth’s circle. But in a court that is surrounded by Catholic enemies who plot the queen’s downfall, Helena is forced to choose between an unyielding monarch and the husband she’s not sure she can trust—a choice that will provoke catastrophic consequences.

Vividly conjuring the years leading up to the beheading of Mary Queen of Scots, Roses Have Thorns is a brilliant exploration of treason, both to the realm and to the heart.


My thoughts: 

It's been several weeks now since I read Roses Have Thorns, and I'm ashamed to say that I've struggled with writing my review of this book. Sandra is not only a great author, but someone that I now think of as a friend. Perhaps that's why I've...um...slightly avoided writing a review of RHT because I didn't connect with it the way I'd hoped I would.

Compared to the other two books in the Ladies in Waiting series, this novel features a Queen rather than the wife of a king. That alone took some getting used to because, as a reader, I wasn't accustomed to being that close to the decisions made by a leader of a country since the first two books were not told from that viewpoint. However, I felt that I learned a great deal more about the political intrigue that must've been rampant at that time, as well as the willingness of Elizabeth I to be totally and completely devoted to her country rather than finding a husband.

I enjoyed Helena as the viewpoint for the story because she seemed to be a woman with a smart head on her shoulders, and knew when she should speak her opinion and when she should keep silent. While I didn't expect things to turn out the way they did for Helena in regards to marriage, I did appreciate the reality shown here that marriage is not always wedded bliss, and "happily ever after" rarely occurs despite our dreams for such.

But as a whole, there just seemed to be something missing. The only thing I can really attribute it to is lack of emotion. As we all know, Queen Elizabeth never married, but did have one gentleman she was fond of. Because of her devotion to her throne and to England, she squelched her desire to explore anything further with him, and from that point forward, seemed to be "all business." Also, there seemed to be a repetition that I've never experienced in one of Sandra's reads, and as a result, it took me longer to finish RHT than it did to finish To Die For and The Secret Keeper combined.

It pains me to no end that this was not as enjoyable of a read for me because Sandra has been one of my favorite authors for many years now, and this is the first book that hasn't received 5 stars from me. By no means will it stop me from reading more of her books, and I think I'll look back on this one as a blip on the radar because I know she's got more great books in store. :o)

4 Stars

**Many thanks to the author for providing a copy for review.