Friday, July 22, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: THE LIFE CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP by Marie Kondo

THE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP:
The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
by Marie Kondo
Ten Speed Press

Despite constant efforts to declutter your home, do papers still accumulate like snowdrifts and clothes pile up like a tangled mess of noodles?

Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again. Most methods advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach, which doom you to pick away at your piles of stuff forever. The KonMari Method, with its revolutionary category-by-category system, leads to lasting results. In fact, none of Kondo’s clients have lapsed (and she still has a three-month waiting list).

With detailed guidance for determining which items in your house “spark joy” (and which don’t), this international bestseller featuring Tokyo’s newest lifestyle phenomenon will help you clear your clutter and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home—and the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire.

MY REVIEW:

I admit it. My house is a disaster. Not that it was ever perfect, but once I started grad school 4 1/2 years ago and started working last year, I've really let things go to pot. It doesn't help that my husband "collects" things (he's an engineer, and all wives of engineers know what I mean--Piles, ladies! Piles!), plus we have eleven people living in our home. My home can be described in one word: CLUTTER.

So when a friend told me a bout Marie Kondo's method of cleaning house once and for all, I had to read it. And I loved it! Marie's system is simple, straight forward, and fail proof. I love her optimism, her spirituality, her confidence. By the time I finished the book, I couldn't wait to get started. Since I am so very busy, I have decided to dedicate every Friday to tidying a specific type of item. (Marie insists you tidy by item, not by room or area of the house). I started yesterday with clothing. I didn't touch my husband's stuff (though I was sorely tempted), but stuck to my own closet and that of my youngest son. We took three garbage bags full of clothes he's grown out of or that I haven't worn in years to Goodwill. My closet looks very empty, and I love it!

Next week I will tackle what is perhaps the most difficult item for me: BOOKS. I just may post an update to let you know how it goes.


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

ENTER TO WIN A BRITISH GIFT BASKET!!! CELEBRATE WICKA by Christy Deveaux


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To celebrate her recent trip to England, to get ideas for her next book, Christy Deveaux is holding an British inspired contest! Simply share a picture of yourself with a British theme i.e. In England, in an English pub, eating English fare such as a fish and chips, reading a British novel, etc. - Be Creative!

One Winner will receive a
British Themed Gift Basket worth $50!

The winner will be selected at random through Random.Org.

About the Author: Christy Deveaux

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Christy Deveaux is the author of The Chronicles of Elizabeth Blake series. Her highly anticipated first book in the series, Wicka, was just released this spring (2014). Inspired by traveling across Europe solo at a very young age, and many travel adventures since, the character and story line behind Elizabeth Blake was born. Christy majored in political science and earned a cross-disciplinary degree from the U niversity of Western Ontario. She lives in Toronto, Ontario with her husband, three children and a fish named Cow.

About the Book: Wicka: The Chronicles of Elizabeth Blake

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Elizabeth Blake, a seventeen year old girl from Ann Arb or Michigan, thinks she's enrolling in an international school in the south of France to finish her final year of high school. Instead, she falls in love; finds out that she is a witch from an ancient family –– who weren’t thought to exist anymore; and discovers that her life is in danger, as the Elders believe that she is the heir to a legend they fear above all else.

Wicka has been compared to other fantasy paranormal tales such as Twilight by Stephanie Meyer and Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling. Young adults and grown-ups alike are sure to love this adventure filled magical romance. Get your copy today at bit.ly/Wicka

*Note: purchase of the book is not a requirement to enter this free contest.

Contest Rules


Prize: One winner will receive a British Themed Gift Basket ($50 value)

Giveaway ends: August 3, 11:59 pm, 2016

Open to: Internationally

How to enter: Entrants should submit their British themed photos by completing the form below.
**Nude, semi-nude, non-British themed or pornographic images will be disqualified**

Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. Only pictures submitted between July 20 and August 3, 2016 will be eligible to win. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Random.org and will be contacted by email within 48 hours afte r the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winni ng will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This gi veaway is sponsored by the author, Christy Deveaux and is hosted and managed by Stacie from BeachBoundBooks. If you have any additional questions feel free to send an e mail to stacie@BeachBoundBooks.com.


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

21 BOOKS THAT LEFT THEIR MARK

In my lifetime, I've probably read well over 1,000 books. Maybe twice that. I've lost count. The vast majority of them, I've forgotten. The stories were good and I enjoyed them, but they failed to leave a permanent impression on me.

However, there are a handful of books that hit me so hard, burrowed so deeply into my psyche that I can never forget them--or how I felt when I read them. These are the books I still dream about even though, in some cases, decades have passed since I read them. You know what kind of books I mean.

So here is my list of the books which, in a literal sense, became a part of me. I love these books and consider them the dearest of friends. They are not listed in any particular order.


Lilies of the Field by William E. Barrett

I have read this book multiple times and have shared copies with friends. The story of carefree Schmidt (Smith) and the German nuns who somehow wrangle him into building a chapel is one of the most uplifting and memorable stories ever. I read it whenever I want to be reminded of the importance of appreciating the little things in life. It just makes me feel happy.




Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

I love Steinbeck's book for the exact opposite reason I love Barrett's. It is so heart-wrenching and depressing, how could I ever forget being a 12-year-old girl weeping inconsolably for hours after reading Of Mice and Men for the first time?





Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

I guess I'm drawn to books that make me fall in love with their characters only to have those new friends ripped away. Charly in Keyes' book is one of my favorite characters of all-time. Written as journal entries, we first meet him when he is developmentally disabled, and it shows in the quality of his writing. He is like a small child, naive and kind. Then he gets involved in an experiment which begins to improve his intellect. He experiences life through an adult's eyes, falls in love. But all the beauty of life he comes to enjoy takes a heartbreaking turn. Just thinking about it makes me want to read it again.



Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Verity is a female British spy captured by the Nazi's. During her interrogation, she recalls her friendship with pilot Maddie. This story is one of the most compelling I have ever read. Unforgettable. And I loved the sequel, Rose Under Fire, just as much. You'll need a box of tissue handy when you get to the end.




 
Trinity by Leon Uris

Chronicling an Irish family over several generations, I first listened to this book on cassette as a young child. My parents played it in the car during our long early morning drives to Los Angeles for school and work. It made an impression on me then, so when I was eighteen, I bought the book and read it again. There are some scenes in this book that still haunt me. Warning: Leon Uris's books are always very, very tragic.




The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

The ultimate haunted house story! I read this in high school and I still get chills just thinking about it. Scrap the 1999 film with Liam Nieson, which was terrible! But the 1963 film with Julie Christie was pretty accurate to the book, I thought. But the book is classic. If you love a good horror tale, this has got to be your next read.





Random Harvest by James Hilton

I'll bet you've never heard of this one. James Hilton was one of the most prolific novel and screen writers of the 1930s & 40s. He is probably best known for Good-bye, Mr. Chips and Lost Horizon, though Random Harvest was a best-seller in 1941, and the film version was nominated for an Oscar the following year. While not the easiest book to read, it is the story of a man who loses several years of his life due to amnesia (from a war wound) is haunted by random memories of the woman he once loved. It is a remarkable story with a stunning end that will leave you breathless.


Surfacing by Margaret Atwood

I read this as an undergrad. Atwood's book is a bizarre labyrinth of past and present, of lies and truths. I was mesmerized by the protagonist who is unconsciously unreliable. In other words, she doesn't give you, the reader, the whole truth--but she doesn't know it herself. Brilliant.





Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

When I got to the final pages of Ender's Game, I was so shocked I couldn't believe an author could pull off such a feat! I love surprise endings, with crazy twists that floor you but that make complete sense. (That's how I felt when I watched the films The Sixth Sense and The Others.) I fell so head over heels for this book that I've read every book in the entire Ender's Game universe, and there are a lot. This is the ultimate sci-fi lover's dream.




Roots by Alex Haley

I first read this during the summer of my sophomore year of high school. Could not put it down, and it is a tome. Following eight generations of African Americans, from the capture of Kunte Kinte by African slave traders down through his posterity in the 20th century, this book is an important epic of American history and culture. Plus it's an amazing story.





Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Do I need to say anything about Mitchell's classic? Just the best book ever written. Period. 'Nough said.








Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

If Gone with the Wind is the best book ever written...well, the best American book ever written, then Wuthering Heights is the best British book ever written. I think Heathcliffe and Scarlett O'Hara are the most memorable, most flawed, anti-heroes in literature...and both are completely addicting.






A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Conor receives a visitor every night--a monster who is both terrifying and comforting, who takes him on a journey through his own pain. If you have never read this book, go out and buy a copy right now. You can read it in an hour. When I finished the last page, I bawled my eyes out and held it close to my heart. My kids thought I was nuts. I love this book! And the illustrations are astounding. Destined to become a classic.




Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo

Rob discovers a caged tiger on the property of the hotel where he lives. What is a tiger doing there? This short yet powerful tale of is chock full of some of the most effective metaphors I have ever read. A Newbery honor book, it is easily one of my favorite children's stories. Simply told, yet cuts right to the heart.




  
The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

I know everyone saw the movie, and it was good. But the book...!!! An old man dies while saving a little girl and ends up not in the heaven he expected. Instead, he discovers the meaning of his life through five people and his connection to them. Not only is this a compelling story, it is life-changing. Makes you look at life from a whole new perspective.





Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Clay Jensen receives a package of cassette tapes recorded by a girl from his school who recently committed suicide. The cassettes are addressed to the thirteen people who knowingly or unknowingly led her to that decision. Simply heartbreaking. When I read this, I felt that every teenager ought to be required to read this book. It's the kind of story that has the power to change the world for the better.




The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I'm sure I don't need to say much about Collins' book. Most people get why this is so amazing. But for those of you who may still think it's just a book about kids killing kids, dig deeper. Collins' trilogy is a critique of society and government, where the lives of actual human beings are nothing more than pawns in a chess game of power. There is too much to mention here, but The Hunger Games is complex, powerful, and much more than your average teen sci-fi adventure. And yes, you have to read the entire trilogy.



The Book Thief  by Marcus Zusak

Zusak's narrator is death. Not only is this clever, but it is horrifyingly effective. Death has the ability to see into everyone's life, revealing it little by little to the reader. But he also understands what will happen in the future. For Leisl, a young orphan girl living in 1939 Germany, her tale is entwined with stories and books and the life of Jewish man hiding in her basement. Countless books have been written about the holocaust and World War II, but this is by far one of the best.



The Devil and the White City by Erik Larson

Parallel stories: one of America's first serial killer, the other of the creation of the 1893 World's Fair. Larson is a master at transforming factual, historical research into nail-biting suspense. This non-fiction tale of murder and architecture reads like a Thomas Harris horror novel. Some of the scenes left me looking over my shoulder for months after I read it. Creepy and terrifying, the fact that it is true makes it all the more addictive.




Unwind by Neal Schusterman

A dystopian novel about a post-second civil war society where rebellious teens can be unwound. What does it mean to be unwound? It means the body is disassembled piece by piece (limbs, organs, bones, brain) and donated to others who are in need of them. All while the patient is awake. This is that society's answer to abortion. Unwanted children must be born, but the parents have the right to change their mind later on. And some families do it as a religious tithe. This book will make your skin crawl and will make you take a serious look at the value of human life...in all its stages.


Maus by Art Spiegelman

Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish survivor of Hitler’s Europe, tells his son about the horrors of the holocaust. Art Spiegelman brilliantly translates the story into black and white cartoon sketches where the Jews are mice and the Nazis cats. Maus received the Pulitzer Prize, and deservedly so. I studied Spiegelman's work in graduate school, and this book in particular left a vivid mark on my heart and soul. One of the few books I think everyone everywhere ought to read.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Enter to Win $100!!! THE WOMEN OF MERRYTON by Rachel Laine

Rachel Laine 
 Rachel Laine (The Women of Merryton #3) by Jennifer Peel 
Rachel Whitney’s life changed forever when Drew, the son of her twin sister, Sydney, was placed in her arms—and there he stayed. At twenty-two, she had no idea what she was doing, but in that moment, she knew that raising Drew was what she was meant to do with her life. ​ Fiercely independent, Rachel makes her own way managing her family's insurance agency. Decidedly against introducing any men into her life, or Drew’s, she protects her heart against all romantic entanglements. But what she didn’t count on was a letter from her sister that leads a famous secret to her door eight years after her sister’s death. A secret with the same eyes as her son’s. ​ Desperate not to get the courts involved, Rachel allows Drew’s previously unknown father, Andrew Turner, into their lives, and to her surprise, little by little into her heart. But for Rachel, taking that step could open her family to a firestorm of media attention that not even Merryton can protect them from. Is love worth the risk? Or will Andrew's fame and ambition ruin their chances? 
amazon 
EXCERPT:

 With reluctance, I answered. “Hello.” “Hey, Rachel Laine.” “Andrew, why are you calling?” “If I didn’t know better, I would think you didn’t want to hear from me.” “Imagine that,” I responded. His laugh came through, loud and clear. “I wanted you to know I made it safely to Chicago.” “Don’t take this the wrong way—” He laughed even louder before I could finish. “—but why would I care?” I got in. “Ouch. That hurts, Rachel Laine. You know, when I use that line on you, at least I follow it up with a compliment.” “Yes, and I can’t tell you how nice it is to hear a man tell me all weekend he’s not interested in me.” “It wasn’t all weekend.” “Why are you calling?” “I wanted to check in with you, because of the weather.” “That’s nice of you, but we only got a few inches, and we’re used to the snow up here.” “Yeah … of course you are. So, what did you guys do today?” “We went to church and then overdosed on super hero movies.” “Sounds great.” “It was.” “Aren’t you going to ask how my day was?” “Are you being serious?” “It’s only polite.” “Okay … How was your day?” “It was horrible. My first flight got cancelled and then I had to wait for hours in the airport for the next available flight, and to top it off, I had to fly coach.” “Oh, how terrible.” “You’ve seen how long my legs are. They don’t belong in coach. And now I find out I could have been watching action movies with you guys all day.” Was this guy for real? I couldn’t tell if he was joking or not. “And what makes you think you would have been invited?” “Why do you think I would have waited for an invitation?” 
 add to goodreads    
Praise for the Book 

"You nailed it!!! These books keep getting better and better each time! I looovvved it!"

"How is it possible that you just keep getting better? I swear this one is my favorite."

"I literally got lost in Merryton again. It is one of my favorite places to visit."    

Jennifer Peel headshotAuthor Jennifer Peel is the mother of three amazing kiddos. Wife to her one and only for the past twenty-one years. Lover of late night talks, beach vacations, the mountains, pink bubble gum ice cream, tours of model homes, and southern living. She can frequently be found with her laptop on, fingers typing away, indulging in chocolate milk, and writing out the stories that are constantly swirling through her head.

Blast Giveaway!!!

$100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 7/28/16 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: A LONG WALK TO WATER by Linda Sue Park

A LONG WALK TO WATER
Linda Sue Park
Houghton Mifflin Harcourts
Ages 10 - 14

The New York Times bestseller A Long Walk to Water begins as two stories, told in alternating sections, about two eleven-year-olds in Sudan, a girl in 2008 and a boy in 1985. The girl, Nya, is fetching water from a pond that is two hours’ walk from her home: she makes two trips to the pond every day. The boy, Salva, becomes one of the "lost boys" of Sudan, refugees who cover the African continent on foot as they search for their families and for a safe place to stay. Enduring every hardship from loneliness to attack by armed rebels to contact with killer lions and crocodiles, Salva is a survivor, and his story goes on to intersect with Nya’s in an astonishing and moving way.

MY REVIEW:

Powerful! This very slim tale is deceptively short, but within its covers are two interwoven stories that brought tears to my eyes. The true journey of Salva, a 1985 Sudanese refugee, is masterfully woven into the tale of Nya, a villager in modern-day Sudan who must spend her days walking the long distance to a muddy lake to draw water for her family to drink. This daily trek prevents her from going to school or doing anything most children her age in other parts of the world would do. But the end, how Salva and Nya's stories come together is so inspiring. It is amazing how one person can quite literally change the world for the better.

The author, Newbery award winning Linda Sue Park, gave a Ted-Talk about this book. I encourage you to watch it, and then share both the video and the book with any and every young reader you can. It's a great way to open the world to our children and to teach them that even they can make a difference.




CONTENT RATING:

Profanity:  None
Violence:  Moderate
Sexuality:  None

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

$250 CASH GIVEAWAY!!!

lazy days of summer 250

Lazy Days of Summer

$250 Cash Giveaway

July 6th to 26th

An Awesome Group of Authors & Bloggers have joined with me to bring you 1 fabulous prize!! We’re giving away $250 in Paypal Cash! Or alternately you can choose a $250 Amazon.com Gift Code!

Sponsor List – Thanks to these great authors & bloggers for making this giveaway possible! I Am A Reader Krysten Lindsay Hager author Simple Wyrdings Heather Gray, Author Bookworm Lisa B. Kristin McMichael Rachel Matthews, Author of cozy, sweet reads Kindle and Me Everly Frost, YA Author Cool Cats Mysteries Helen Smith Laurisa White Reyes, Author Dark and Dreamy with C. C. Marks Dawn Malone Author Nikki Jefford Aubrey Wynne: Romantasy Through the Ages Mary Ting/M. Clarke Confessions of a Frugal Mind AuggieTalk Darcus @ Rainy Days and Pajamas Lori's Reading Corner Glistering Bs Blog The Lovely Books J.C. Whyte, author Gigi McAllister@ The Late Bloomer's Book Blog Bonnie Blythe Faith-Based Romance Bella Street Time Travel Romance Laurie Here - Cont Fiction and More Beth M. Honeycutt  

Giveaway Details $250 in Paypal Cash (alternately the winner can choose a $250 Amazon.com Gift Code) Ends 7/26/16 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use money sent via Paypal. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the authors, bloggers and publishers on the sponsor list. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

WIN A $100 AMAZON GIFT CARD!!! -- CHASING FIREFLIES by Taylor Dean

CHASING FIREFLIES
Taylor Dean
Taylor Dean Books
Ages 14 & up

My sisters think I’m crazy.
But, I’ve never forgotten the mysterious woman from my childhood who told me Paul is the name of my one true love.
She told me to search far and wide for him.
I haven’t stopped looking ever since.
When I stumble across an article about a successful American entrepreneur named Paul who lives and works in China, I’m intrigued. When the opportunity to teach English in China presents itself on the same day, I know it’s not a coincidence.
It’s destiny.

My sisters say I’m chasing a dream.

Just like the fireflies we tried to catch on the warm summer evenings of our youth, the dream seems beyond my grasp. Will my quest for the elusive Paul always be just short of fulfillment?

My sisters tell me it’s a fool’s errand.
Until I remind them of the day we saw the Red Bird.
The memory silences them.
The Red Bird Incident remains inarguable—and proves my search for Paul is not a silly fantasy.
I will find Paul . . . I will.
 _______________________ 

Praise for Chasing Fireflies

"It was like Taylor Dean left a trail of chocolate chips leading to a plate of delicious cookies at the end. Yummy! I had to eat every single one and now I’m full and feasting on the satisfaction of a well written story."
-Author Charissa Stastny

"Taylor Dean is such a creative and skilled author that she has the ability to make the unusual and the unthinkable seem real."
-Lisa, Goodreads Reviewer

"As always I loose myself in Taylor’s books, experiencing rather than reading the story, from that first glance and butterflies in my belly, to the inevitable heartache, to the amazingly captivating events that lead us to the blissful happily ever after."
-Mylissa’s Reviews and Book Thoughts
_________________________
EXCERPT:

“Savannah, you’ll always be my baby, even now when you’re twenty-six years old.” Her voice wavers unsteadily as she tries to express herself in her weakened state. “You were a surprise to us all. I thought my child bearing years were over, and then along you came, ten years junior to my youngest child. You were a joy to raise. Quiet and unassuming, content to spend your time watching your sisters and their crazy antics. But it’s your time now, my dear sweet girl. No more watching.”

“Mom . . .” I whisper, angst evident in my tone.

“Life will happen for you, Savannah. I know it will.”

The defeated feeling that sometimes besieges me must be etched in my features because Darling Emma lifts her head off the pillow with strength she doesn’t possess, ready to object.

“Don’t give up, Savannah. I know life has thrown you some hard knocks. But you are strong, stronger than you think. I know you’ll find your special someone, I know you will. Keep searching. I want you to have love in your life, a love like I have known. It’s my greatest wish for you, the utmost desire of my heart. You are a special girl, Savannah. Never doubt your worth. Promise me you’ll never give up on life. Promise me you’ll demand a life that requires all the love inside of you, a life that reaches inside of you and squeezes out every ounce of love from your heart. Only then will you find happiness.”

I have no idea how to find that kind of life for myself.

Mom doesn’t mention my obsessive search for Paul, even though I know she’s never approved of my determination to find him. Instead she’s doing as she’s always done, kindly leading me by the hand toward another path.



ENTER FOR A CHANCE TO WIN
A $100 AMAZON GIFT CARD!!!

$100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 7/21/16. Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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