Sunday, September 30, 2012

To Love and Cherish Book Review

From the back cover:
Escape to a Beautiful, Historic Island Resort

Bridal Veil Island, Georgia

Melinda Colson has been waiting months for Evan, the assistant gamekeeper at the Bridal Veil Island resort, to propose. Without an offer of marriage, she must return to Cleveland with the family she works for as a lady's maid.

Evan isn't afraid of hard work, and he hopes to be promoted soon. He wants to marry Melinda--but not until he's sure he can support her and a family.

Letters strengthen their romance until a devastating storm strikes the island. With no word from Evan, Melinda knows she must journey back to Bridal Veil in search of her beloved.

But the hurricane isn't the last calamity to shake up Bridal Veil. Melinda finds a new job on the island, but still no offer of marriage comes her way. Has she given her heart to the wrong person? Will she ever find a man to love and cherish?

My take:

 This is the second book in the Bridal Veil Island series. Melinda Colson is a companion to the affluent Mrs. Dorothea Mifflin. They own a cottage on Bridal Veil Island and winter there. Melinda and Evan met on the island  several years ago and their friendship has grown into talks of marriage. They write to each other during the year and spend their winters together on the island. 
  The books starts with Melinda being on Bridal Veil for the Season with the Mifflin's. She is meeting Evan for a picnic and just knows that he will ask her to marry him. Although, Evan and Melinda have a conversation that is the product of miscommunication and their perspectives on how their relationship should progress, and how quickly. Melinda leaves Bridal Veil Island earlier than expected because Mrs. Mifflin is going to have an important visitor in a couple of weeks. 
  Melinda is becoming increasingly unhappy in her employment with the Mifflin's for a variety of reasons including: her mail being read by a maid, Mrs.Mifflin's treatment of Melinda, and Melinda's attitude being affected by her time with the Mifflin's. Melinda's brother Lawrence comes into town and is unhappy that Melinda is working for the Mifflin's. Meanwhile, a hurricane hits Bridal Veil Island and nearby areas. The reporting of the hurricane to Cleveland is very spotty. Melinda and the Mifflin's hear varying reports of the storm and eventually lie to Melinda about Evan and the hurricane so Melinda, with Lawrence in tow, set off for Bridal Veil Island. 
  Melinda and Lawrence arrive at Bridal Veil Island which is in desperate need of workers to help clean up after the hurricane and make improvements before the upcoming season opening. They are both employed at the Island and Evan is given additional job duties. Melinda and Evan seem to be at odds for most of the book. Eventually, due to an emergency they, along with Lawrence, seem to mend their relationships. 
  Overall, this was a very good book. I was really glad that this series continuation was available so quickly. This book was very different than that of the first in the series and that made it all the more interesting. I cannot wait for the next installment in the series. Although, I don't like that the series are not connected other than they are set in the same location. 

I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review!

Monday, September 17, 2012

When Hope Blossoms Book Review

From the back cover:

Amy Knackstedt hopes a new start in Weaverly, Kansas, will help heal the pain of losing her husband and provide a better future for her three children. But her new neighbor, Tim Roper, is not pleased to have an Old Order Mennonite family living next to his apple orchard. Tim left the Mennonite faith years ago and doesn't want any reminders of his former life.
Yet when circumstances throw Amy and Tim together, they form a friendship that surprises them both. Will past hurts always be a barrier between them, or will this tentative relationship blossom into something more?

My take:
This novel was very interesting to read. I haven't read a novel involving Mennonites in a long time. I think it is very interesting how many authors choose to depict their stories involving Mennonites when there are only "pockets" of this religious group across the country. I'm not aware of their statistics, but to my knowledge the closest group to me is found in Tennessee. This group of people should be very much appreciated and applauded for their unwavering lifestyle and nonconformity, for the most part. They are living life "set apart" very literally. 

The novel starts with Amy Knackstedt and her children Bekah, Parker, and Adri moving into their new house in Kansas. They have moved next door to Tim Roper and his apple and grape orchard. Tim and Amy have a rough start, because Tim wants Amy's kids to keep their distance from his orchard to protect it from further harm. Eventually, the children grow on Tim, and Tim, in turn, grows on Amy. They are pushed together through a variety of events that seem quite normal and could happen to any of us. It's not as though there are very unusual circumstances bringing them together. Both Tim and Amy have heartaches of their own they have to work through and overcome before they can move on. Tim and Amy are both reluctant of each other because of their lack of  faith and because of their faith respectively.

The children are definitely obviously attached to Tim and he to them, I don't necessarily see that Tim and Amy could develop that much of a friendship as depicted in the ending, maybe a start to this with the outcome happening eventually but not in the timeframe as depicted in the novel. Tim seemed like a much more developed character than Amy was. Even Amy's daughter Bekah seemed more developed than Amy. I would have liked to have seen more of the interaction between Tim and Amy's family and the local Mennonite order and Tim and Amy. It is always very interesting to me to see the depiction of the Mennonite faith and there interaction with others. Overall it is an ok book 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Check out Kim Vogel Sawyer!

I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

A Little Shopping...

            I don't know how many of you participated in the Burger King Family Food promotion.We did. Although, we found out about it about four weeks ago. We aren't big Burger King fans (We're not real big McDonald's fans either. We prefer Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut.). Anyway, we accumulated several game pieces (~5). The week before last I took off early on Friday and ran errands and wasn't prepared for eating lunch out, so I stopped and picked up one of my Free Whopper's (via game piece) and a water (~$2.50 savings). I went to a local fish store and looked around. I'm trying to decide what direction to go in with my new saltwater aquarium that I'm getting from a friend who is moving to Canada to start her post-doc (post - doctoral research). I am "patiently" waiting to pick it up. I went by another Burger King after leaving the fish store on my way to do some more shopping closer to home and picked up a Free Small Frappe (Mocha ~$2.00 savings), which was a nice treat to fortify myself for the rest of my shopping (which I don't do as much as I would like, but I'm on a grad student budget). I continued on to Ulta to pick up my Ulta Rewards Gift (I was in tier 1.) and snagged Ulta Nail Lacquer in Coral ($2.00 savings). I continued shopping browsing Michael's looking for the perfect frames or shadow boxes to create DIY Shell Art  like that of Kim's at Sand and Sisal that I came across on Pinterest. (I use to love reading her blog, but got away from it when I switched to Cspire last year and never reinstalled Google Reader on my phone, but that's going to change since I got another iPhone finally!) I didn't find frames that I loved, but that's ok. I'm not in any hurry. I finished up my "Window Shopping" at Petsmart looking at fish and aquarium supplies for my new tank. (They don't have marine  fish, but I could always use more in my freshwater tank.)
My iPhone case finally came in and it looks like this!!!! I am so happy with it!! Although, I think I'm going to eventually get an Otterbox or Lifeproof case like this instead of the regular plastic case. I'm just to hard on phones...I'm terrified I'm going to break my phone. Check out Monogram Frenzy on Etsy!!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Goodbye Samsung Galaxy...Hello iPhone 4S!

       We switched from AT&T cell service with iPhone 4S's about this time last year to Cell South (now Cspire Wireless). As a result, we received two promo Samsung Galaxy's, which according to all of my non-iPhone friends was absolutely amazing because it was an Android device and all Android devices are supremely better than measly Apple products. I loved my Samsung Galaxy for all of three months, until November of 2011 when Cspire got the iPhone 4S, which I promptly bought for my husband for our anniversary because his Galaxy did crazy things on a regular basis. Shortly after this my Galaxy proceeded to do all kinds of crazy things: powering off, vibrating for no reason, never receiving notifications of phone calls, texts, or voice mails with full service at the time, opening the home menu on its own, freezing daily (requiring battery removal each time), etc. I could go on and on about the wonders of my Samsung Galaxy, but I will refrain. I will tell you I ended up with a couple replacements which did the same thing. A couple of days ago we hit our year anniversary with Cspire and as a result I could purchase a new phone for a discounted device replacement fee of $150 (down from like $350 if you try to get a new phone less than a year from signing up), plus the price of the phone. I was told by all of my iPhone friends to wait for both the upcoming 4G Network and the mysterious new iPhone, which I was planning on doing probably around the end of September, however, I ended up missing my morning alarm, several phone calls, texts, and voicemails and woke up in a panic, because 1. I was waking up WAY to late, and 2. I didn't receive a phone call I was expecting (which had been made 4 times to me + a voicemail). I check my phone which appears to be fine until I notice it is frozen on 10:54 PM the night before and I can't unlock it without taking out the battery. So after getting through my morning routine in a rush (I was already late anyway. What did it matter?) I went to the Cspire store and waited for over an hour to get my iPhone 4S in white this time. When we were with AT&T I had a black iPhone 4 and my iPad is black but lives in it's amazing Griffin case so it's safe from my abuse (i.e. dropping it, falling off the couch, bed, etc). My previous iPhone was housed in a Otterbox Defender case, which I thought was bulky and sticky (a magnet to dirt and dust and dog hair).  So even though a new iPhone is coming out VERY soon, so we are led to believe - I am just as happy about having my white iPhone 4S and not my Galaxy. Although, the Passbook update is going to be sooo cool!!
      Although, I basically said all of that to tell you about this amazing shop I found on Etsy MonogramFrenzy based in New Orleans, LA (I picked this one over other stores based on the "close" proximity. Support your local small businesses!) and because I can get an amazing, custom iPhone case with my favorite - Fleur De Lis!!! I can't show you the exact design I'm getting because it's a custom design of two designs that I fell in love with on the MonogramFrenzy site. I decided to try using just a minimal plastic case for my iPhone this time and see how it goes. My Galaxy survived every abuse I threw at it, but its own problems I couldn't handle. Although, I think the iPhone is less sturdy, but my husband has done well with his without a case for almost a year, except for the one in his accident which got bent, but was replaced for only $50 with Applecare!! (Get the Applecare people, it's worth every penny!!!)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Short-Straw Bride Book Review

From the back cover:

Four brothers. Four straws. One bride.
No one steps on Archer land. Not if they value their life. But when Meredith Hayes overhears a plot to burn the Archer brothers off their ranch, a long-standing debt compels her to take the risk.
Years of constant vigilance hardens a man. Yet when Travis Archer comes across a female trespasser with the same vivid blue eyes as the courageous young girl he once aided, he can't bring himself to send her away. And when an act of sacrifice leaves her injured and her reputation in shreds, gratitude and guilt prompt him to attempt to rescue her once again.
Despite the fact that Travis is no longer the gallant youth Meredith once dreamed about, she vows to stand by his side. But will love ever be hers? Or will Travis always see her as merely a short-straw bride?

(Also found on the Bethany House site.)

My take:

This is the first book of Karen Witemeyer's that I've read. Although, she has only published three other books. I love historical fiction and any element of the Old West and Cowboys you can throw into a story! I couldn't put this book down. I haven't read a book at all in several weeks and picking this one up was a mistake! I didn't think I would be able to go to bed without finishing it! (I did manage to finally put it down to go to sleep, but woke up early and finished it!) The description of the Archer brothers make them all sound very ruggedly handsome and very gentlemanly. Meri's position as the typical damsel in distress was very interesting and in the end portrayed her as an individual who grew into her own person not a helpless female, which I don't care for (the helpless females). The story of Meredith and Travis takes awhile, but it doesn't overpower the storyline. This book has left me wanting to know about the stories of the other Archer men. I hope that the story continues. Although, as other reviewers have mentioned there isn't as much spiritual content in this as I would have expected, and liked to see. If you are looking for a gripping historical/Christian fiction read this is for you!

I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.