Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A departure from books, for THE book...the Bible

I'm committed to reading the whole Bible this year. From start to finish. I get daily emails from Biblegateway.com. I'm not good at doing it every day, but between every book I read I'm trying to catch up on the daily readings. I feel bad that it's taken me this long to read the whole bible, every single word. I have tried before, but have failed. 2012 is the year, I'm going to do it! I'm still in Genesis and Mathew. Tis good news, really good news I read!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Raven Saint (Charles Towne Belles #3)

The Raven Saint (Charles Towne Belles, #3)The Raven Saint by M.L. Tyndall
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Loved it! The Raven Saint had me from the beginning and I couldn't put the book down. The best in the series. This is why MaryLu Tyndall is one of the greatest authors in my book! If I had to make one silly little complaint, it's the cover again. Grace has long raven hair and green eyes, the publishers missed that one. Okay, on to the review now...

I loved that Grace, the third sister in the Charles Towns Belles series, learned so much in this book about her faith. She was a Christian woman that often admonished others for their choices. After being kidnapped by the French rogue, Rafe Dubois, she felt abandoned by God. She felt sure that she must have done something wrong in His eyes and this was how she was being punished.

As circumstances change over and over aboard the ship, Grace starts to wonder if God sent her on this mission to teach these rogue pirates about their faith and relationship with God. Nearly every soul she comes across either doesn't believe in her God or they are running away from Him. Her biggest challenge is of course, Captain Dubois. While he is mercenary and claims he works for whomever can pay him the most, he has a grand secret. Captain Dubois gives his money to the poor of his home island. Grace is shocked to learn of this and feels that hint of attraction growing more and more as she is aboard his ship.

Captain Dubois had intended to sell Grace to a Spanish man who had a score to settle with her father and Grace was the pawn in that game. The money would be enough to build a hospital on his home island, to save the scores that were dying every day. However Captain Dubois had assumed that Grace Westcott would be a spoiled brat, a shrew. She was everything he had not expected. She was beautiful and strong and his once cold hard was warming at her daily presence. He is cornered into finding where his heart really is, with Grace Westcott or with saving people's lives. Is it possible for both to happen?

Is it possible that God creates miracles? :-)

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Legend (Legend #1)

Legend (Legend, #1)Legend by Marie Lu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Is this a young adult book? Wow, it was pretty awesome! I seem to be on a young adult dystopian kick. This very well could have been better than Divergent, I'm not sure. I think Divergent was a bit more descriptive, I felt like I could "see" more of the book by the authors description, but Legend was pretty kick-a**, full of action. Pretty gruesome for a young adult too, but certainly tolerable.

I'm tempted to give this 5 stars but I just can't because like I mentioned, it wasn't as descriptive as I would have liked. I know what the hero of the book looks like, but I still can't picture the heroine in my mind.

So excited to continue on in this series!

June is a young, wealthy military prodigy living the Republic is at war with The Colonies and a group of people who call themselves The Patriots. The Republic clearly has a sector for rich and poor. The poor are constantly battling the plague while the rich get vaccines. June scored 1500 on The Trials and quickly mastered her education and was promoted to an agent at 15 years old. Her parents died when she was younger so she was being raised by her brother. After a hospital break in her brother is killed by the notorious criminal, Day. June is determined to track Day down and avenge her brothers murder. June goes undercover in the poor sectors and thinks she has found him, but not before Day helps her after being injured in a Skids fight and not before they share an attraction leading to a kiss. When June discovers this boy is actually the infamous Day, she reports to her superiors and a plan is hatched to capture Day. Things go wrong, Day's mother is shot by June's superiors and Day is captured. June is torn between an inner trust she feels for Day after he tells her there is no way he could have killed her brother. June makes more discoveries from secret messages that her deceased brother had left in case he died. The more she looks into the goings on of the Republic, she realizes that her parents were killed and so was her brother, it was no accident...they knew too much. June knows she that if her superiors suspect she is learning the truth, she will be killed as well. June must help Day escape and asks the Patriots for help. They assist, the plan is executed and they escape. However, Day's brother, John, saves his brother by when the escape hits a snag and John sacrifices himself to save Day. At the end of the book, June and Day are alone together on the outskirts of Los Angeles, wondering what their next step will be, where they will go, they are now the two most wanted people in the Republic...

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Ransome's Quest (Ransome Trilogy #3)

Ransome's Quest (The Ransome Trilogy #3)Ransome's Quest by Kaye Dacus
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The final book in the Ransome Trilogy and a really great series overall. My favorite in the series was the first book by far. I really did enjoy all the sea faring and pirates involved in the later books though. The last book really went a teensy bit darker with the evilness of one pirate but it made it that much better. I do look forward to reading more from this author. She's so entertaining! Between her and another fantastic author, MaryLu Tyndall, I shall never be short on reading Christian themed swashbuckling romances!

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Paris Wife

The Paris WifeThe Paris Wife by Paula McLain

Abadoned after 108 pages. I did read the last pages after reading some other reviews. What a strange, strange life the young Hemingway's lived. Clearly the man had many mental issues and Hadley stayed with him far too long. Love. Oh what a pitiful thing it can be!

I tried, I really tried. Perhaps if this had been a memoir I would have tolerated it more. But it was fiction. I know it was based on a lot of Hemingway facts but still, the thought that the feelings/emotions/thoughts were assumed didn't interest me.

I will not rate this book as it wouldn't be fair. The author is talented and I can't fault her that she wrote about something that simply doesn't suit my tastes.

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Divergent (Divergent #1)

Divergent (Divergent, #1)Divergent by Veronica Roth
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What an awesome, action packed book. I couldn't put it down. This is what dystopian themed book are all about. It's as good and daunting as Mocking Jay but in a different way. Perhaps not as gruesome, but pretty darn close! I have a feeling this series could be bigger than Mocking Jay. But I don't think a movie could do this book justice. No way!

Beatrice Prior lives in a very futuristic seemingly post apocalyptic Chicago. Lake Michigan is now a marsh, no longer a lake. Many of the buildings are in ruins. The area is now populated by five factions, each one representing a different responsibility and way of life.

Beatrice Potter must make a choice of which faction she will choose to live the rest of her life. A choice that will sever ties with her family and her past way of life. Choosing the faction she is drawn to, Dauntless, is a choice that leads to terrifying secrets. While dealing with her own deadly secret she is learning to deal with love, beatings, fears and learning that she really is not a fit for any of the factions. She is Divergent. She is on her own with others who want to avoid war and others that are also Divergent.

There is so much to this book I'm hard pressed to find the right words to give it justice. If there is one thing I hate about this...it's that I have to wait for the rest of the series to release!!!

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Friday, January 13, 2012

Ransome's Crossing (Ransome's Trilogy #2)

Ransome's Crossing (The Ransome Trilogy, #2)Ransome's Crossing by Kaye Dacus
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The ending went so quickly, zoom!

Overall I don't think this book was as great as the first. I think William was a little too harsh even if he was only trying to not cause his new wife grief as he comes and goes to sea. I did like the part about Charlotte disguising herself as a mid-shipman and Ned deciding to go along with it though much to his chagrin. Glad they worked it all out in the end but that's where it went too fast for me. Obviously a well played cliff-hanger for the next book in the series. But not exactly the ending I would have hoped for.

I laughed out loud as Charlotte tried to figure out the perfect words to pray to God. That was cute!

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Sunday, January 8, 2012

MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend

MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best FriendMWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend by Rachel Bertsche
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I saw this in the Movers and Shakers for December and decided it sounded somewhat interesting so I placed a hold on it at my library.

Right off the bat I thought who in their right mind is that desperate for a BFF? Who would, excuse the term, prostitute themself out like that?! Further in I realized it wasn't so much about an obsession of finding a BFF as much as it was research with a wonderful benefit of finding potential BFF in a "newish" city.

Rachel Bertsche moved to Chicago with her husband because neither wanted to live in each other’s respective hometowns. They settled in Chicago and Rachel left behind life time BFF's a.k.a "lifers" back where she grew up. In Chicago she wanted to find new local BFF's that she could call on a whim to do lunch, call after a fight with her new husband or to watch the newest episode of Modern Family all with comfortable silence; no awkward pauses included.

After 52 friend-dates Rachel doesn't have a BFF but a slew of close friends, acquaintances and great stories that will last her a lifetime no doubt. She realizes that her childhood lifers just happened no hard work needed. As an adult you have to work a lot harder. Following through on the "we should get together" that so many of us women never do! Rachel makes it happen, sometimes with success other times it is not reciprocated. Her story of each of her dates is anywhere from an amazing amazing connection to downright awkward and everything in between.

I liked this book because I'm in the same boat in a way. I'm horrible at following through on "we should get together". I'm also guilty of letting friends fall off my radar and not taking the initiative to keep in touch. I realize that some friends need me to do the heavy work, well, actually, it seems like most of my friends need me to do the heavy lifting. It can be frustrating but really, it's worth it. When I do go out with friends, I'm glad I made the extra effort to make it happen. Most of my friends are working moms; it's hard to schedule get-togethers when our schedules are so full. I've learned to not give up! I know that a lot of us are in the same boat and when I do schedule something I always get an instant "yes! That would be great!".
Another eye opener for me is my potential-friend avoidance. I find it easier to ignore someone or look the other way when I could be missing out on a great friend even if only a great story. Rachel discovered while she whined about not having any friends in Chicago it all changed when she started her quest. It seemed something opened up in her that perfect strangers were drawn to. People started initiating conversations. Pretty interesting I think!

I have not read any other reviews but from the overall rating, I'm guessing some people didn’t' like this book. I would imagine some people thought she was a desperate woman who had to have a lot of friends to feel fulfillment in her life. Sure it seemed like that in the beginning but by the end Rachel learned so much not only about "friendshipology" but a ton about herself. It was a great adventure and glad I was along for the ride.

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Friday, January 6, 2012

A departure from books for...BEAUTY!

I'd say somewhere in my mid 20's I started thinking about my face and wrinkles and age/sun spots. I had gotten past my pimple stage and now it was time to grow up and think about the future of my face. I started using moisturizer with sunscreen daily. That was about it until this past year.

Last year, I discovered an article (click here to read it) about the benefits of Retin-A for your skin other than for acne. Apparently Retin-A, which is vitamin A derivative, is better than nearly anything you can buy over the counter. Perhaps that's the hitch for a lot of potential consumers, you have to have a prescription for it. I had a fantastic doctor  last year before I moved and simply asked him if I could get a prescription of Retin-A "for my skin". I didn't mention either pimples or wrinkles. He gladly wrote the prescription and I gladly accepted!

I do not use the Retin-A in the summer, as it makes your skin very susceptible to sun burns, so in the past 14 months, I'd say I've only used it for a total of 5 months. I've been using it regularly now for about  two months. The key to using Retin-A is to take it slowly. It can be extremely irritating to skin if used everyday right off the get-go. I started using it once a week, built up to twice a week and now I use it every other day. I do have the skin flaking/peeling that many people experience in the beginning. This does go away once your skin gets used to the product. Think of it as the old tired skin sloughing off revealing the beautiful skin underneath. Anyway this is where I discovered my new favorite skin regimen for exfoliating.

The same author of the article I mentioned above wrote about homemade body scrubs a.k.a. exfoliation scrubs. I combined 1 Tbs of Almond Oil, 2 Tbs of regular ole' sugar and 2 drops of Tea Tree Oil (my own idea). I mixed it together and lightly scrubbed it into my face before bed and rinsed. Oh. My. Gosh. Sure it started out a little red as I crawled into bed but the next day, I swear I was glowing. My skin had that beautiful dewy look and it felt like a freshly lotioned baby's bottom! Heaven!!!

I'm pleased that I don't have to buy ridiculously high priced products that may or may not work. And what's funny, if you tell any esthetician or makeup counter lady about your Retin-A usage, they'll tell you it's so rough on your skin...what? Do you think they'd tell you it's a great beauty secret while they're trying to sell you $150 worth of lotion, potions and creams? Nope!

And for a body scrub: 1/4 cup Almond Oil, 1/2 cup Epsom salt or Sea salt (not table salt) and an essential oil of your choice. I used about 12 drops of grapefruit oil and some fresh orange zest. Fantastic! Do it in the shower before you get wet. When you're done rinsing, be sure to wipe it up or it gets super slippery.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Blue Enchantress

The Blue Enchantress (Charles Towne Belles, #2)The Blue Enchantress by M.L. Tyndall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am so glad I stuck with this series, (Charles Towne Belles). I didn't care for the first book so much but I really liked this one. I understood and identified with the main female character more. In The Red Siren, Hope was a supporting character but The Blue Enchantress was all about her story and her battle with being misunderstood by everyone around her. Her love interest is Nathaniel Mason, a hard-working ship builder who has always held a flame to the illusive Hope. In fact, he named his first ship after her. Even as she turned her nose on him. Hope makes a series of bad choices causing Nathaniel to come to her rescue, over. And over. And over again. Nathaniel shows Hope that his faith in God is strong and she too can ask for forgiveness for her past and He will always accept her once she lets Him in.

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