Friday, May 20, 2016

The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson

I've been a fan of Melanie Dickerson's books ever since I read "The Fairest Beauty" a few years ago! So of course I was super excited to read her newest book, "The Beautiful Pretender: A Medieval Fairy Tale."

It's the first book I have read of hers that wasn't considered young adult fiction, but it still had all the same mystery, suspense and romance that all of her other books have!

This book stars Avelina, a maidservant to the Lady Dorothea of Plimmwald. When Dorothea runs away with the stable help, the Earl of Plimmwald sends Avelina to The Margrave of Thornbeck's palace in Dorothea's place. She must keep her identity a secret or risk losing her family and everything she holds dear. The Margrave must find a bride immediately so he invites ten young ladies to be his guests at the Palace for two weeks. At the end of that time, he must choose one of them for his bride.

Being a poor peasant with her family back home, Avelina has no desire to marry the Margrave, so she tries to divert all of his attention to one of the sweet young ladies in their group. Unfortunately, the Margrave has already taken notice of Avelina despite her forward thinking and her tendency to speak openly and honestly. As much as she doesn't want to admit it, she begins having feelings for the Margrave as well.

When I get a Melanie Dickerson book, I better be ready to read the whole night long because I know I will not want to put that book down! ;) I thought the characters were very well developed and reading about them made me feel as if I already knew them. Melanie's writing style is very easy to read and understand, and she keeps you guessing up until the last second! I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves romance, fiction, or even a good fairy tale now and then! I rate it as 5 stars!

I received this book for free from Litfuse in exchange for my honest unbiased opinion.

Inheriting the new title of margrave means Reinhart has two weeks to find a noble bride. What will happen when he learns he has fallen for a lovely servant girl in disguise? Find out in the new medieval fairy tale, The Beautiful Pretender, by Melanie Dickerson. Despite Avelina’s best attempts at diverting attention from herself, the margrave has taken notice. And try as she might, she can’t deny her own growing feelings. But something else is afoot in the castle. Something sinister that could have far worse—far deadlier—consequences. Will Avelina be able to stop the evil plot? And at what cost?

Join Melanie in celebrating the release of The Beautiful Pretender by entering to win her Once Upon a Kindle giveaway!

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One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A copy of The Beautiful Pretender
  • A Kindle Fire tablet
  • A $25 Amazon gift card
  • The choice between a Funko POP Disney Beauty or Beast doll
beautiful pretender - prize collage 

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry! The giveaway ends on June 7th. The winner will be announced June 8th on Melanie's blog.

beautiful pretender - enter banner

"Long May She Wave" curated by Kit Hinrichs

When I received this amazing little box in the mail, I knew exactly who I was going to give it to! My mom was born on the 4th of July and has always loved flags and everything patriotic!

"Long May She Wave: 100 Stars and Stripes Collectible Postcards" curated by Kit Hinrichs is an amazing set of 100 postcards that represent America, the American flag and what it stands for! I was surprised by the diversity of the postcards. It includes everything from artwork, to a replica of a William Howard Taft Campaign postcard from 1909, to photographs of a hand-sewn Civil War-period flag with 38 stars from 1861. It really is quite an interesting set!

These 100 postcards are compiled from one of the largest collections of American Flag Art in the world. It features more than 200 years of art from history.

One thing I thought was really neat was that the set comes with two of each postcard. So buyers can keep one set for themselves, and give the other set away. Another element of this set I really loved was the way it was packaged. The 100 cards come in a box shaped like a book, and actually looks very much like a book. The front cover opens to reveal the postcard set, and includes a small dedication to the set on the front cover.

Overall, there was nothing about this set that I disliked! I love the classic american history included in the postcards. I've always been fascinated with vintage postcards and the things that inspire them. I would definitely recommend this set to others looking to expand their collection!

I rate this set as 5 stars. I received this set from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest unbiased opinion.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Saturate & Saturate Field Guide by Jeff Vanderstelt and Ben Connelly

This week I was able to read and review an interesting study on being a disciple of Jesus. It's called "Saturate" and it is written by Jeff Vanderstelt.

The main point that author Jeff Vanderstelt is trying to make is that Christianity is not a once a week thing. We don't just go to church every Sunday and think that we've done all that we can do. God is calling us to do so much more. He initially decided to write "Saturate" after thinking on Habakuk 2:14 "For the Earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." Every believer should practice discipleship in such a way that saturates the world they live in.

There are 5 main points to this book that are crucial to living a life of discipling. Part one mostly explains the premise of the book. Part two describes the life of Jesus. Part three builds on our faith in Christ. Part four explains how we shouldn't merely be doing discipleship, but that we need to live it. Part five gives everyday examples and stories about things on our daily journey of discipleship.

There is only one thing I disliked about this book, and it is pretty insignificant, but I feel it must be mentioned. The front cover is very hard to look at. It is bright orange and teal (almost neon) and is quite the visual illusion. It actually gave me a little bit of a headache looking at it.

Overall, I thought this was an excellent book! It has a lot of interesting information and really broadens the subject of discipling. It would be excellent to read through with a group of people, or even a Sunday school class or small group.

In addition to the "Saturate" book, I also received "Saturate Field Guide" by Jeff Vanderstelt and Ben Connelly to read and review! The field guide goes hand in hand with the book, and is meant to be done in a group setting, such as a Bible Study or small group, but can also be done on your own.

It's a spiral bound, 244 page book which demonstrates the principles and practices for living out the life of a disciple of Jesus in the everyday. It's an 8 week study which includes questions, activities, prayers, and exercises which will help you on your journey to becoming a disciple and helping you disciple others. The "Saturate Field Guide" is appropriate for new Christians, or people who have been Christians for a long time.

What I liked best about this study was that it was very simple to follow. It's not complicated in any sense and it's something that any Christian can do! It really makes you take a look at your life and try to change things for the better.

I received these books for free from Litfuse in exchange for my honest unbiased opinion.
Are you having difficulties translating the truths you believe in your mind about your Christian faith to the reality of your everyday life? Learn how to keep the gospel in the everyday stuff of your life with a new resource, Saturate Field Guide. This 8-week guide offers an all-of-life approach to being disciples who make disciples of Jesus. The questions, activities, prayers, and exercises will prompt you to do exactly that—put your thoughts and theology into hands-on practice. Designed for both group and individual use, each week will build on the next, aligning your heart with the will of God, examining your core identity beliefs, and launching you into mission.

Join Ben Connelly and Jeff Vanderstelt in celebrating the release of Saturate Field Guide with a small group bundle giveaway!

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One grand prize winner will receive:
  • 10 copies of Saturate Field Guide
  • A coffee kit in conjunction with Big House Beans
  • Moleskine journals
saturate fg - collage 

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry! The giveaway ends on May 16th. The winner will be announced May 17th on the Litfuse blog.

saturate fg - enter

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Girls Slimline Holy Bible NLT

This week I was able to review a new Bible released by Tyndale Publishers! It's called the Girls Slimline Holy Bible NLT. It features a neon blue cover with neon pink and green letters! The cover itself is actually a fuzzy material with a silver edging. The page tips are all colored in purple, making this Bible something reminiscent of the 80's!

The inside of the front and back covers are hot pink and the first page includes Ephesians 3:12, and a place to put a dedication in as well as a short note.

As far as the Bible content goes, it is very much like every other Bible on the inside. It does include a 365 day reading plan, a dictionary concordance, an index for different topics in the Bible as well as great Bible verses to memorize, and eight pages of maps. It also includes a handy bookmark to keep your pages marked.

This Bible is also somewhat small in size which makes it easy for little hands to carry around, or to tuck in a backpack or bag. My 9 year old instantly fell in love with it when she saw it!

I think this is a fun little Bible. I like that it doesn't have to have a bunch of extra content to appeal to children. The cover seems very sturdy and appears to withhold a lot of wear and tear. I love the bright colors! When I received it, I was not aware that it would be a fuzzy material because it's kind of hard to tell just from the picture, but it doesn't affect use at all and my daughter loved that the most! I'm not sure I would want my kids memorizing Bible verses out of this version, because generally I prefer the NKJV or the NIV, but this is still a great Bible, especially if you have kids that are trying to find the meaning of some verses. It breaks it down a bit more than the other versions. I rate this Bible as 4 stars.

I received this Bible for free from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for my honest unbiased opinion.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Simply Calligraphy by Judy Detrick

"Simply Calligraphy: A Beginner's Guide to Elegant Lettering" by Judy Detrick is just what the name suggests, Simple Calligraphy! It's an introduction to the beautiful art of writing Calligraphy for handwritten notes and envelopes.

This book includes everything you need to know to get started on your new hobby. It's very thorough with instructions, teaching readers how to write in upper case and lower case letters, and giving samples of different types of fonts, numerals, flourishes, and project ideas. It also lets readers know what types of materials you can expect to buy to get started. Luckily for beginners, there are not many things to purchase to just try it out.

I think this is definitely a fun book to try out new skills! The directions are easy to understand, and there are plenty of photos demonstrating how to create the flourishes and letters.

There are so many different things you can do with your new found calligraphy skills. Personally, I'd love to make beautiful envelopes and invitations! It would also be beneficial for scrapbooking, creating signs, and writing handwritten notes. I would say this book is appropriate for tween ages on up to adult. I rate it as 5 stars.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest unbiased opinion.

I Can Read! Great Stories of the Bible

I was rather impressed with this "I Can Read! Adventure Bible: Great Stories of the Bible" book, illustrated by David Miles! I don't normally buy these kinds of books because they usually don't hold up very well with small children, but this book is excellent! It features 6 books in 1 in a beautiful bright red hardcover!

It is designed as a Reading Level 2, which means Reading with Help. I would say it would be appropriate for most children finishing Kindergarten and going into First Grade. The six books included are:

-God's Great Creation
-Facing the Blazing Furnace
-Ruth and Naomi
-Miracles of Jesus
-A Father's Love
-The Good Samaritan

The end of each story features a small tidbit about the main characters, the theme Bible verse and a few simple questions about the story just read.

I was really happy about the way this book was written. The words are easy to understand, and there's not too many words on each page. Each page has approximately 2 to 6 short sentences, making it simple enough for beginner readers! The pictures are bright and colorful and pleasing to the eye. The stories aren't super long so they hold the reader's attention. I can read the entire book to my 4 1/2 year old in one sitting and she was eager to hear more! I would highly recommend this book to parents of small children. It will be a nice book that I can take turns reading with my child, as she is just learning to sound out words. I rate it as 5 stars.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Mother Letters by Amber C. Haines and Seth Haines

"The Mother Letters: Sharing the Laughter, Joy, Struggles and Hope" by Amber C. Haines and Seth Haines is a collection of letters written by mothers of various backgrounds, and lives. Mothers who have dealt with hardships in pregnancy, children with disabilities, and just the day to day activities that make us moms who we are.

The whole idea for this book actually came from Seth Haines. He watched as his wife adjusted to her new role as a Mother and he watched as her doubts and fears slowly crept in, making her wonder if she was actually a good mother. For Christmas 2008, Seth and Amber decided to make homemade gifts for each other, and the idea for The Mother Letters was born. Seth wanted to give his wife a gift that would show encouragement and wisdom for those tough days. He collected letters from close friends and family, but then extended it to some of his wive's blogging and author friends. Letters poured in over the next few months, and the rest is history.

The back of the book features a list of the Contributing Mothers, which includes their names and websites/blogs if they have one.

I found these short letters to be such an encouragement and inspiring to read! These letters were written by Mothers of every walk of life struggling with all of the normal things we moms struggle with, as well as some things that we would never imagine. The letters aren't very long...they range in length from 2 to 5 pages. The book itself is actually somewhat small, at 5 x 6 inches. It's the perfect size for a small gift.

I didn't recognize all of the Mothers who contributed, but there were a few familiar names such as Lisa Jo Baker of www.lisajobaker.com and Kristen Welch of www.wearethatfamily.com. I loved these letters and I think other moms will as well! I rate this book as 5 stars.

I received this book for free from Revell in exchange for my honest unbiased opinion.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Can a Princess Be a Firefighter? by Carole P. Roman

"Can a Princess Be a Firefighter?" is one of the latest books written by Carole P. Roman. It's an adorable story about two little girls asking their parents if they can be a Princess and a Firefighter when they grow up. Their parents tell them they can be anything they want to be, and then proceed to list everything they think the girls would be good at. They mention many different professions including biologist, dancer, painter, mime, doctor, explorer, and pilot just to name a few! Their parents tell the girls not to let anybody limit their dreams because they are smart, talented, sweet and kind. They also tell the girls that it's important to like their jobs and it should make them happy every single day.

Each page is full of whimsical pictures of the two little girls dressed up as each profession, and playing dress up as princesses with fairy wings. One thing I thought was interesting is that the book never shows a picture of the grown up's face, so it's unclear whether the parent is a mother or father, but it doesn't affect the story at all. What is important is that the book makes it clear that the parent genuinely loves and cares for the child.

I think this is an adorable little book. It's soft covered, and 35 pages long, making it perfect for a bedtime story or just a fun book to flip through during the day. After receiving it in the mail, my 4 year old and almost 2 year immediately hopped up on my lap for me to read it to them. They loved the bright colors, and the rhyming story. I would definitely recommend this book to someone who has children ages 7 or younger. I rate it as 5 stars.

I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest unbiased opinion.

Carole P. Roman is the award-winning author of both the Captain No Beard and If you Were Me and Lived in... series. Both Captain No Beard- An Imaginary tale of a Pirate's Life and Captain No Beard and the Aurora Borealis have received the Kirkus Star of Exceptional Merit. The first book in the series was named to Kirkus Reviews Best 2012. Captain No Beard and the Aurora Borealis has just been named to Kirkus Reviews Best of 2015. Each book in the series has won numerous awards including the NABE Pinnacle Award, ERIK Award for 2013, Foreword Review Five Star and Finalist in the Book of the Year, and Reader's Views Children's Book of the Year 2013. Her award-winning, non-fiction culture series If You Were Me and Lived in.... continues to explore countries all around the world and she is introducing a new series that travels through time to experience culture through the eyes of a child. She can now add traveling the stars as well!