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Friday, March 31, 2017

First Line Fridays - Pride and Prejudice - 3/31/17


Happy Friday!!!

I decided to feature one of my favorite classic novels today! Although I am bending the rules a bit. I am going to share with you the FIRST LINE where Mr. Darcy appears. Because...Darcy...SWOON! I am a Darcy girl, I admit it! In case you haven't checked out my rating system yet, which consists of all Darcy quotes...You can read it HERE. Before you leave, join in the discussion below about who you think is the better Darcy.



"His brother-in-law, Mr. Hurst, merely looked the gentleman; but his friend Mr. Darcy soon drew the attentions of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mein; and the report which was in general circulation within five minutes after his entrance, of having ten thousand a year."

Amazon

Who is YOUR favorite Darcy? And can you guess who mine is?
Matthew Macfadyen - (2005)

Colin Firth - (1995)

Laurence Olivier - (1940)
All pictures from IMDb, linked back to original photo. 

I am also hosting a FUN GIVEAWAY right now! I recently reached 500 Facebook "Likes" and decided that was reason enough to celebrate my readers! (Click image below to enter on the original post.)



Now it's your turn! Post your first line below and blog hop and join in more First Line fun!

Andi - Radiant Light

If you would like to host First Line Fridays on your blog, contact Carrie on Reading is my SuperPower.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Lost Girl of Astor Street - Stephanie Morrill

My Rating
★★★★★ - You have bewitched me, body and soul. (More Info)

About the Book


Lydia has vanished.

Lydia, who’s never broken any rules, except falling in love with the wrong boy. Lydia, who’s been Piper’s best friend since they were children. Lydia, who never even said good-bye.

Convinced the police are looking in all the wrong places, eighteen-year-old Piper Sail begins her own investigation in an attempt to solve the mystery of Lydia’s disappearance. With the reluctant help of a handsome young detective, Piper goes searching for answers in the dark underbelly of 1924 Chicago, determined to find Lydia at any cost.

When Piper discovers those answers might stem from the corruption strangling the city—and quite possibly lead back to the doors of her affluent neighborhood—she must decide how deep she’s willing to dig, how much she should reveal, and if she’s willing to risk her life of privilege for the sake of the truth.

From the glitzy homes of the elite to the mob-run streets of 1920s Chicago, Stephanie Morrill’s jazz-age mystery shows just how far a girl will go to save her friend. (From www.stephaniemorrill.com)


My Thoughts
Oh.My.Goodness! I don't even know where to start with this one. First of all, I am not overly attracted to books that are suspenseful and cause me to jump out of my skin when my REFRIGERATOR makes noises. However, Rachel McMillan keeps talking about this book, and I decided that I just had to read it! THAT being said, The Lost Girl of Astor Street is a must read! 

This book is written in first person, but it is nothing like other books with this point of view. Most of the time when I read a book written as first person, I feel like I am simply inside the character's head, getting a front row seat to the way they think and the way they process information that comes their way. With The Lost Girl of Astor Street, Stephanie Morrill takes the first person voice to a whole new level. A level where I felt as though I became Piper Sail. I was processing the way Piper was processing, her thoughts were my thoughts...This added such a deep level of intimacy with the character that I feel like I know Piper like I know myself. 

Set in 1920s Chicago, you will be swept into the Jazz Age and will be tempted to dance the night away with Piper and a certain Italian detective. Having grown up in what Piper Sail thought was a safe neighborhood, she soon comes to realize that nothing is as it appears. Has she placed her trust in the wrong people? Will she ever discover what has happened to Lydia? And will the unlikeliest of people, become her greatest champion? Follow "Detective" Sail through the underbelly of Chicago. Uproot lies, reveal truth, and fight for justice for those who can not fight for themselves. 

I borrowed The Lost Girl of Astor Street from my local library. I was not required to write a review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

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About the Author
Stephanie Morrill is the creator of GoTeenWriters.com and the author of several young adult novels, including the historical mystery, The Lost Girl of Astor Street. Despite loving cloche hats and drop-waist dresses, Stephanie would have been a terrible flapper because she can’t do the Charleston and looks awful with bobbed hair. She and her near-constant ponytail live in Kansas City with her husband and three kids.
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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Surprise GIVEAWAY!!! + Blogger Organization Tips


Eeeeeep! Can I say that here? Because there is much squealing going on right now! I can not believe Bookworm Mama's Facebook page has reached 500 "likes"! Thank you to each of you for spreading the word and reading my posts. Because without YOU, I would not be doing what I love most...Reading and sharing my love of these books with all of you! So, as promised...I am hosting a very special giveaway! You may enter via the Rafflecopter form at the end of this post.

What am I giving away? Well, I will tell you! The items pictured   ------------>
(Not the typewriter, sorry, lol!)
I made a special key chain that says "Read" and "Dream" on it. I also made the polka-dotted bookmark. The back of it says "Read". Twinings Tea, four packets of Chamomile, Honey & Vanilla (my personal favorite). Sea Salt & Sand scented soy candle made by Pure Scents. I am also including winner's choice of ONE of my top 3 favorite books! Now, you are probably wondering which 3 those are...If you have been around my blog or Facebook for any amount of time...you will know that I ADORE Pepper Basham. (I also work for her, so I think that is a requirement.) So, The Thorn Keeper is one of the choices. It is book 2 in the series, but can stand alone. Read my review HERE.This is the book that caused me to create a brand new rating called "Heaven help me, you taste like Christmas." Next is Newton & Polly by Jody Hedlund. You can read my review HERE. And last but NOT least...The Lady and the Lionheart by Joanne Bischof. Read my review HERE. The theme I was shooting for...Is that through reading, we can be anything, go anywhere...See the world from the comfort of our home. Someday I would like to travel more, but until then I will be the girl, "With a dreamy far off look and her nose stuck in a book."


But, before we get to the giveaway, I wanted to share a couple of organizational tips with you that I wish I knew when I first got into blogging. Thankfully, the wonderful Carrie from Reading is my SuperPower shared this incredible thing called Trello with me. She published a post a few months ago with some tips on how she uses Trello (you can read her article HERE). However, I have a few different quirks that I use, and thought it might be helpful to share another viewpoint with you. 

I present to you...TRELLO...The reason I CAN be so organized in my crazy yet wonderful blogger life.


  








Giveaway!!!
Giveaway open to U.S. & Canada. Please refer to my Disclosures & Policies page for full giveaway details. Void where prohibited by law.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
ONE (1) Winner will be chosen at the end of the giveaway and will receive the following:
  • ONE (1) "Sea Salt & Sand" Soy Candle made by Pure Scents
  • ONE (1) "Read Dream" Keychain made by ME
  • ONE (1) Bookmark made by ME (the back says "READ")
  • FOUR (4) individually wrapped tea bags of Twinnings Camomile, Honey & Vanilla Tea
  • ONE (1) Book (Winner's Choice) from my top three favorite books - The Thorn Keeper, Newton & Polly, OR The Lady and the Lionheart Print OR eBook option available. (If the winner is already in possession of these three books, we can discuss other options.)
I was not reimbursed for any of the prizes included in this giveaway. All expenses were paid for by myself.

Friday, March 24, 2017

First Line Friday - The Merchant's Daughter - 3/24/17


Happy Friday (and Happy SPRING)!!!

With the release of an absolutely INCREDIBLE movie this last week, I have decided to post my First Line from a retelling of The Beauty and the Beast. If you want to know my thoughts on the movie, I reviewed it HERE. Although I have yet to read this book, it is very high on my TBR list and I can NOT wait!!!! So excited! I have had nothing but wonderful recommendations for this book! And a HUGE thank you to my Name Twin from Rachael's Reads for helping me to decide which retelling to feature! So, without further ado...I give you The Merchant's Daughter...


August 1352, Glynval, England.

Annabel sat in the kitchen shelling peas into a kettle at her feet. A bead of sweat tickled her hairline while only the barest puff of warm air came through the open door.



Now, if you haven't seen Beauty and the Beast...Go see it! Your life will never be the same lol! I already have plans to go at least two more times...And I NEVER see a movie more than once (if ever) in theaters! (Except Star Wars...)

Now it's your turn! Post your first line below and blog hop and join in more First Line fun!

Andi - Radiant Light

If you would like to host First Line Fridays on your blog, contact Carrie on Reading is my SuperPower.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Illusionist's Apprentice + Giveaway - Kristy Cambron

My Rating
★★★★★ - You have bewitched me, body and soul. (More Info)

About the Book
Harry Houdini’s one-time apprentice holds fantastic secrets about the greatest illusionist in the world. But someone wants to claim them . . . or silence her before she can reveal them on her own.
Boston, 1926 Jenny “Wren” Lockhart is a bold eccentric—even for a female vaudevillian. As notorious for her inherited wealth and gentleman’s dress as she is for her unsavory upbringing in the back halls of a vaudeville theater, Wren lives in a world that challenges all manner of conventions.
In the months following Houdini’s death, Wren is drawn into a web of mystery surrounding a spiritualist by the name of Horace Stapleton, a man defamed by Houdini’s ardent debunking of fraudulent mystics in the years leading up to his death. But in a public illusion that goes terribly wrong, one man is dead and another stands charged with his murder. Though he’s known as one of her teacher’s greatest critics, Wren must decide to become the one thing she never wanted to be: Stapleton’s defender.
Forced to team up with the newly formed FBI, Wren races against time and an unknown enemy, all to prove the innocence of a hated man. In a world of illusion, of the vaudeville halls that showcase the flamboyant and the strange, Wren’s carefully constructed world threatens to collapse around her. Layered with mystery, illusion, and the artistry of the Jazz Age’s bygone vaudeville era, The Illusionist’s Apprentice is a journey through love and loss and the underpinnings of faith on each life’s stage. (From Kristy's website)
My Thoughts
An incredible story brimming with suspense, illusion, questions, romance, sacrifice, and redemption. Spanning the course of Wren's life, we jump around quite a bit as her story and character unfolds, but it is easy to follow. We also get to see the world through a few different viewpoints which helps to draw your heart into the world of vaudeville.

LOVE - LOVE - LOVE Elliot. Mmmhmmm! From 1 to 5 on the swoony scale - 4.5 for SURE! He is protective and gentle, yet firm and carries a strength that Wren needs, although she denies it. Wren is such an incredible person. I fell in love with her from chapter one. With her eccentric style and lifestyle, a performer, giving the public the illusion of grandeur...when in reality, her lifestyle is quite simple. A woman with a past that tears at her soul, longing for freedom, but not knowing where to turn. When Agent Elliot Matthews bullies his way on to her stage, her life takes a dramatic turn and the impossible becomes possible.

Wren struggles to forgive herself for something in her past that she has been led to believe is her fault. We follow her on a journey of realization that forgiveness is not just an illusion, but something very real. That it penetrates the very heart and soul of who we are. It shapes and molds us. And that we can be free if we choose to be. But if we spend too long believing in an illusion, it will distort our view of reality.


"You can be free if you want to. But it's your choice." 
- Kristy Cambron The Illusionist's Apprentice


So, embrace the truth. Let Papa God open your eyes to see yourself as He created you. To see your gifts, your strengths, and the forgiveness that He has poured out on you. Take a step back in time to the Jazz Age. Step into the world of Harry Houdini and Wren Lockhart in the center of vaudeville. Let them dazzle you with a story of truth, forgiveness...and illusion.  


I received a complimentary copy of The Illusionist's Apprentice through BookLook Bloggers and NetGalley. I also won a copy of this book in a giveaway. Which is why I am honored to be able to bless one of my readers with one of these copies. Please see below for giveaway details. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

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About the Author

KRISTY CAMBRON has a background in art and design, but she fancies life as a vintage-inspired storyteller. She is the bestselling author of The Ringmaster’s Wife, named to Publishers Weekly Spring 2016 Religion & Spirituality TOP 10. Her novels have been named to Library Journal Reviews’ Best Books and RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards Best lists for 2014 & 2015, and received a 2015 INSPY Awards nomination for best debut novel. The Illusionist’s Apprentice (HarperCollins, 2017) is her fourth novel. Her first Bible study DVD and study guides, The Verse Mapping series, will release in 2018.
Kristy holds a degree in Art History from Indiana University, and has 15 years experience in education and leadership development for a Fortune-100 Corporation. She loves storytelling from the stage and travels to speak about her love for Bible Verse Mapping throughout the year. Kristy lives in Indiana with her husband and three sons, where she can probably be bribed with a coconut mocha latte and a good read.
The last and most important thing? Jesus Christ is everything — let her tell you about Him sometime.
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More by Kristy Cambron on Bookworm Mama
My Review

Giveaway!!!
I was blessed to win a print copy of The Illusionist's Apprentice from Kristy's book launch party. Which is why I am honored to be able to bless one of YOU with the extra copy I now have. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below. Please see my Disclosures and Policies page for full details. Open to U.S. & Canada. Void where prohibited by law. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Beauty and the Beast (2017) - Review


My Rating
★★★★★★ - Heaven help me, you taste like Christmas! (More Info)

About the Movie
The story and characters you love come to life in the live-action adaptation of Disney’s animated classic, a cinematic event celebrating one of the most beloved tales ever told.
Starring:Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans
Runtime:2 hours, 9 minutes
Rating: PG
Top Cast: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Emma Thompson, Kevin Kline

"With a dreamy far off look and her nose stuck in a book" Two days after seeing Beauty & the Beast, I am curled up on the couch, listening to the Original Movie Soundtrack on repeat (which you can stream for free through Amazon Prime) and trying to make sense of this emotional hangover that I can't seem to shake. 

The emotions this movie brings forth is beautiful beyond words. I am not going to lie, this is probably going to be one of the hardest reviews that I will ever write. Because there is no way that words can adequately express my thoughts and emotions regarding this story. 

"Tale as Old as Time" I have always loved this fairy tale. Growing up I watched and rewatched the animated version more times than I can count (and the new song they added "Human Again" is a travesty of unmeasurable proportions in my opinion...but that is neither here nor there). However, after seeing Emma Watson and Dan Stevens portray this incredible story in their own unique way, I can say with confidence that THIS is now and "forevermore" my favorite Disney movie. There is no competition...at all. Emma Watson's voice is beautiful, sweet, and innocent. Dan Stevens is swoony beyond all reason. Even Gaston is a fine specimen to gaze upon (don't worry...he is still a brute! But Luke Evans *SWOON*). They also elaborate on the bookish side of Belle a little bit more, and I adore it! 

The trailer is beautiful ♡ beyond your expectations ♡:
Pinterest
"There may be something there that wasn't there before" The romance in this adaption  is sweet and innocent...Yet filled with a passion that touches your heart in a drastic way. The Beast is SO adorable. Thoughtful, kind, and gentle as he falls in love with Belle. The way he is portrayed makes it so much easier for the audience to fall in love with him as well. Watching their relationship grow is so beautiful with plenty of humour.



"Tune as Old as Song" You might consider me odd, but I don't like to watch trailers, read reviews, or learn ANYTHING about a movie that I have been LONGING to see. So I went into this movie fairly blind (there were some details that were impossible to avoid). Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that they included the original songs from the 1991 animated version. It was so much fun singing along with all the songs that have been ingrained into my heart. There were a few new songs added and they were GORGEOUS! The Beast's song makes me cry every time I hear it. Be Our Guest is the only song that I found a bit odd. But it works. Emma Watson's voice is gentle and sweet while Dan's voice is strong and powerful.




"I said she's gorgeous and I fell" 
The costumes, set designs, and cinematography were all GORGEOUS!!! Each outfit was appropriate for the character and unique. The design added yet another level of beauty and made it just that much easier to fall in love...With Belle...with the Beast...with the castle...the story...

There are some scenes (specifically with the wolves and between Gaston and the Beast at the end of the movie) that may be frightening for younger children. Please use your own discretion as a parent to judge whether it is appropriate for your child. I won't be taking my 3 and 4 year old children to it in theatre, but they will be allowed to watch it at home when it comes out on DVD. 

All pictures from IMDb unless otherwise noted.



Books to Read 
My Review
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My Review
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More info about Beauty and the Beast IMDb
I saw Beauty and the Beast at our local movie theatre. I paid for my own ticket. I was not compensated for this review. 

Author Interview + Giveaway - Emily C. Reynolds


About the Book
In Picture Perfect, a photographer and a martial artist partnered for swing dance lessons also become unknowingly pitted against each other in a real estate tug-of-war. As romance heats up, secrets from the past close in. Agendas collide, and when the truth comes out, one wrong move could trip them up for good.

Here’s a sneak peek into the story setup of Picture Perfect:
Extending the right hand of fellowship to church visitors probably doesn’t include sucker-punching the cute guy from pew seventeen. But when Lily recovers from being startled by him late at night, she realizes who he is. And wishes she’d hit harder. It’s clear Micah doesn’t remember her—or breaking her heart ten years ago.
Avoiding him becomes her best option. Besides, she has more important things to worry about—namely renovating her newly leased storefront so she can quit her job and take her photography full-time.
Micah is back in his hometown with plans to open a martial arts school and make a fresh start. But he can’t dodge the guilt he feels over causing his best friend’s death. The past haunts him, and the present isn’t looking much better. The one girl he’s interested in hates his guts and he has no idea why.
When they get thrown together for swing dance lessons, romance heats up on—and off—the dance floor. As Lily gets to know Micah, she wants to believe he’s changed. But forgiveness isn’t easy, especially when she discovers they’ve both set their sights on the same piece of real estate. And a dark secret from Micah’s past is quickly catching up . . .

Behind the Scenes
So many people give writers the advice “write what you know,” and I think it’s natural for our passions to flow into our stories in some form or another. Tidbits of my own life and interests are woven into the storyline of Picture Perfect.

A perfect example is the scenes relating to martial arts. Micah, the hero in the story, practices jujitsu. Lily, the heroine, studies boxing. One of the underlying currents of the story is the concept of self-defense and safety.

Having grown up in a Christian “bubble,” I was anxious about heading off to college. It didn’t help that the first college I attended was on the outskirts of New York City. The summer before my freshman year, I asked a family friend (a police detective) if he would teach me self-defense. We got together and he showed me a few tactics, but I remember at the end of the evening feeling more worried, because as he showed me scenarios, my mind started to run. I began to realize just how little I knew, and how many different ways a person could attack another person. (To be clear, it wasn’t his fault at all. He taught me some simple techniques to use in an emergency. In retrospect what I wanted was training and that’s not something that happens in one night!)


In college, I took an 8-week course that was an intro to martial arts. Again, nothing wrong with the instructor or the class. But it was about precision of strikes, blocks, and kicks, and step-by-step attack/defense sequences. It was not “down and dirty” self-defense. (Of course it wasn’t designed to be! But in my ignorance, I equated “martial arts” with “women’s self-defense” and walked away feeling more vulnerable than when I started.)

Fast forward a few years. Not long after meeting my husband, I learned he studied jujitsu. He asked if I wanted to learn. I said no. I wasn’t interested in jujitsu. I wanted to learn self-defense. So he invited me to meet his instructor, who was excited to teach me techniques geared for women. I started coming early, before jujitsu class, to learn. I learned about women’s areas of strength, about awareness and alertness, and the physics of the human body. I practiced palm strikes and knees to the groin until I developed muscle memory and instinct and earned the nickname “Lethal Knees.”


Then my session would end, and jujitsu class would begin. It didn’t take long before I was joining them on the mat.

Over the years, I’ve loved teaching women’s self-defense because I've seen wonderful things happen when a woman learns she really can protect herself physically. I think every woman should realize she has a vested interest in her physical and sexual safety and not leave it up to chance or assume it's someone else's responsibility.

So many women see themselves as "weak." I was once one of them. Learning self-defense helps develop confidence, and that's something that has far-reaching effects--many women discover inner strengths they never knew they had and become "stronger" on different playing fields of life, whether it be work, relationships, communication, setting boundaries, the list goes on.

Thoughts on Writing

Surround yourself with people who support you. I am blessed to have a fantastic critique group that helps me hone my stories, and a few brainstorming buddies who encourage me and help strengthen my plots.

Join writing groups. One of the best things I did for my professional development was joining American Christian Fiction Writers. I got connected to other writers, critique groups, and a storehouse of publishing information that I soaked up, realizing how little I really knew. I also attended ACFW conferences, which allowed me to network with other professionals and learn more about the writing craft.

Be kind to yourself! Remember that everyone’s first draft is downright awful, so don’t let the ugly stop you. Keep going. Put the words down anyway, even if they make you cringe. As people say, you can’t edit what’s not there.

Accept who you are as a writer. I’m not a particularly fast writer. The story doesn’t unfold in a straightforward manner for me. I’m much more “seat of the pants” than plotter. So I have to constantly remind myself that it’s okay that the course is not charted; that’s part of the fun for me (I get to be surprised when a character says or does something). Only it’s not always fun. Sometimes it’s downright stressful. It means the story doesn’t journey in a straight line from start to finish. There will be detours and dead ends and “wasted” time. But that’s just how it works for me. I can choose to get frustrated and think I’m less of a “real writer” because of it, or I can choose to accept that it’s just one of the weird ways I work.

Thanks for letting me share a little about my writing journey! I hope you enjoy a few giggles and sigh moments reading Picture Perfect.

About the Author

I grew up in Maine as a Double PK (pastor’s kid and principal’s kid). My dad has been a pastor at the same church for more than 35 years, and my parents started a Christian school where my dad served as administrator for 30 years, and my mom regularly substituted.

I had a childhood that was wonderful in all the ways that matter. Since my parents were in full-time Christian ministry, we didn’t have a lot of “extras” growing up, but we saw firsthand what it means to invest in things of eternal significance. I’m so grateful that God gave me humble, loving, self-sacrificing parents who taught us to love God and put Him first, above all else.

I graduated from Gordon College in Massachusetts with degrees in English Language & Literature as well as Biblical Studies. I’ve earned my living as a professional wedding photographer, high school English teacher, newspaper copy editor, piano teacher, and women’s self-defense instructor. And now I can officially add author to that list! My first book, Picture Perfect, released March 2 from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. A dream come true!

The best thing that ever happened to me was walking into a coffee shop one morning and walking out, leaving my heart with the fine-looking barista working behind the counter. My husband Jason is the inspiration for my storybook heroes and my biggest cheerleader on this journey toward publication. We are blessed with a teenage son, two cats, and a dog named Boomer.
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Giveaway!
Emily has graciously provided an eBook copy of Picture Perfect for a giveaway. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.