November 12, 2014

The Alliance by Shannon Stoker

The Alliance by Shannon Stoker is the last installment of the Registry Trilogy. This time, Mia is back risking her freedom to help others gain theirs, and put an end to the Registry.

Book Description
In this deadly endgame, the final move is hers . . .

In America, the Registry weds girls to the highest bidder and raises boys for its army.
Mia Morrissey escaped to make her life her own, and now that she has, she will risk everything so that everyone can be free.

Going undercover as part of a diplomatic mission, Mia returns to America. But life there is more dangerous than ever as the walls grow taller, and the forgotten country faces its most ruthless leader yet, Grant Marsden . . . a shadow from Mia's past. With the help of Andrew, Carter, and other members of the subversive group Affinity, she embarks on a perilous journey to defeat Grant, bring down the government, and destroy the Registry once and for all.

But when a terrible betrayal exposes the operation, Mia discovers that her enemies have used her—and so have her friends. Alone and frightened, she's uncertain of whom to trust—or whether the mission is worth the sacrifice.

With the fate of her friends and the future of her country on the line, Mia knows that her next step may be the last for her . . . and America.” – The Alliance

My Thoughts
The Alliance is a final in the “Registry” trilogy by the author. The conclusion to the series is definitely worthy of finishing the series, and shows real growth in writing skills from the author. I quite enjoyed reading it and look forward to reading more from the author in the future.

Mia Morrissey is a strong female character that I could see kicking some serious butt in a movie one day – just sayin’. She has become a very likable character in this series that is fighting for freedom, and has some hero complexes that would show well on the silver screen. The last book does not disappoint with her character or the story, and fans of the series will definitely enjoy reading this one, too.

Overall, I liked this series and the final novel the most in the trilogy. I definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good dystopian series.

* Thank you to the publisher of The Alliance, William Morrow, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

November 6, 2014

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton is a historical novel set in 17th century Amsterdam. The obsession with wealth and acquiring more desirable objects is the societal influences that the story navigates around. However, the characters involved are just as intriguing as all of the glamour that surrounds them.

Book Description
On a brisk autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. But her new home, while splendorous, is not welcoming. Johannes is kind yet distant, always locked in his study or at his warehouse office–leaving Nella alone with his sister, the sharp-tongued and forbidding Marin.

But Nella's life changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish her gift, Nella engages the services of a miniaturist–an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie and unexpected ways...

Johannes's gift helps Nella pierce the closed world of the Brandt household. But as she uncovers its unusual secrets, she begins to understand–and fear–the escalating dangers that await them all. In this repressively pious society where gold is worshipped second only to God, to be different is a threat to the moral fabric of society, and not even a man as rich as Johannes is safe. Only one person seems to see the fate that awaits them. Is the miniaturist the key to their salvation...or the architect of their destruction?

Enchanting, beautifully written, and exquisitely suspenseful, The Miniaturist is a magnificent story of love and obsession, betrayal and retribution, appearance and truth.” – The Miniaturist

My Thoughts
The Miniaturist is a book that I really enjoyed reading. It is a historical novel that shows how the obsession with having more material wealth continues today, and that isn’t necessarily such a good thing. The characters are all interesting, even ones that I didn’t really like. I wanted to know what was going to happen next, and what would become of all those involved. It is definitely a good book to read over a weekend!

At only eighteen years old, Petronella moves to Amsterdam into the arranged marriage she had with Johannes. Not an ideal situation, but she had no real choice in the matter. Her new husband is not at all what she had imagined, and the people in this new city are not as friendly as she had hoped for. The one nice thing he did for her though was to give her a wedding present of a miniature version of their home. However, it isn’t furnished, so she finds a miniaturist to help re-create the furnishings in the home for it. When these new furnishings come, they are amazing – but then, new pieces not similar to ones in the home start to arrive, and strikingly accurate copies seem to magically appear in the home. Who is this miniaturist, and what does all of this mean? No spoilers here!

Overall, I think that this is an excellent debut book from an author to keep an eye out for in the future. I highly recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of The Miniaturist, Ecco, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

November 1, 2014

Hanes Cotton Leggings Review

With the temperature outside falling, leggings are coming back into our wardrobes. For me, I love this time of year, and I have to admit, the clothing is a big part of it. For a large portion of my life, I lived in Florida where there is the Four H seasons: hot, humid, hurricane, and hell. Now that I a little bit further North, I can actually experience seasons changing and a wardrobe that actually corresponds to the seasons.

I was never a big fan of tights or leggings when I lived in Florida. However, I now absolutely love them and after some trial and error, I found a brand that is fantastic for both. Perhaps you have heard of Hanes? Yes, they are affordable, fashionable, and actually make products that last for more than one use.

The Hanes Cotton Leggings come in a variety of colors and sizes, so no matter what you are wearing, there is a pair of leggings that you could wear with it to keep your legs warm and your legs looking good. My favorite is the black legging. It is basic, but it seriously goes with 99% of my wardrobe.

I’ve washed my Hanes Cotton Leggings a few times now, and they are in perfect condition each time. Just be sure to use a machine washer, on cold, with similar colors, and use non-chlorine bleach if needed. To dry them, I just threw them in the dryer on low.

Overall, I really like these leggings and definitely recommend them to everyone who wants to stay warm and look great this time of year.

Thank you to Hanes for providing me with leggings for review for purposes of this article. All opinions and experiences expressed are my own. 

October 22, 2014

How to Dress like a Viking for a Halloween or Cosplay Costume

One of my favorite TV shows is Vikings on the History Channel. If you are looking for an interesting Halloween or cosplay costume that shows your Viking spirit, this is definitely one you want to check out for costume inspiration!

October 11, 2014

Leadership Lessons: Avoiding the Pitfalls of King Saul by Ralph K. Hawkins and Richard Leslie Parrott

Leadership Lessons: Avoiding the Pitfalls of King Saul by Ralph K. Hawkins and Richard Leslie Parrott is a valuable tool for any Christian that is in a leadership role. You not only learn what is good to do as a leader, but also what is not good to do, which is just as valuable to learn as the authors also point out ideas and solutions to learn from the negative ways as well.

Book Description
Rise above mediocrity and become indispensable after working through ten timeless lessons from Scripture. Leadership Lessons: Avoiding the Pitfalls of King Saul is a practical leadership guide that avoids abstract ideas and unproven steps. Instead, biblical studies professor and pastor Dr. Ralph Hawkins along with leadership expert and education professor Dr. Richard Parrott tell the stories of King Saul’s leadership missteps and connect those stories with the challenges facing leaders. In today’s climate of rapid change, intense competition, and moral relativism, find valuable advice that will give your leadership a firm foundation in sound biblical principles.

Features include:
·         References to ten sound biblical principles of leadership
·         Examples illustrate how to apply these lessons to your life
·         Action points give you concrete steps to improve your leadership skills
·         Checklists help church, business, and community leaders excel” – Leadership Lessons: Avoiding the Pitfalls of King Saul

My Thoughts
Leadership Lessons: Avoiding the Pitfalls of King Saul is a great book for leaders to read. I never really thought about King Saul with leader roles in today’s society until I read this, but it is a great lesson on how we can learn from the past to make our futures a better place to live in. King Saul failed miserably at many things, but his failures can prove to teach us, even today, and hopefully lead us to being more successful leaders. I definitely recommend this book for leaders or anyone in business to read.

* Thank you to the publisher of Leadership Lessons: Avoiding the Pitfalls of King Saul, Thomas Nelson, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

The Spirit-Filled Life by Charles F. Stanley

The Spirit-Filled Life by Charles F. Stanley is a book that shows you how to go beyond the motions of being a Christian and invite the Holy Spirit to actually be a part of your life. If you have ever felt like something was missing in your life, and needed help with faith, this is a book that is definitely meant for you to read!

Book Description
A wise, measured, and deeply passionate invitation to a Spirit-filled life
Are you trying your best to be a good Christian but still feel something’s missing? Do the peace and joy you long for seem to elude you? Does following Christ sometimes feel like a lot of work—or like it’s just not working very well?
Much has been written and spoken—and argued!—about the Holy Spirit and what it means to be filled with the Spirit. Charles Stanley cuts through the confusion and introduces you to a living Person as real and active as God the Father and Christ the Son. Through personal stories, biblical exploration, and insightful explanation, he will help you discover:
·         who the Spirit is—and how to develop a relationship with Him
·         who the Spirit isn’t—and how to avoid damaging misconceptions
·         how being “filled” with the Spirit actually works
·         what the Bible really teaches about spiritual “signs” such as speaking in tongues
·         how the Spirit can increase your capacity for faith, hope, love, and personal transformation
·         what it means to “hear” the Spirit’s voice
·         how to make the most of your unique spiritual gifting to build up Christ’s body
·         what happens when the Spirit’s power is unleashed in your workplace, your family life, your friendships, and every other area of your life

In The Spirit-Filled Life Charles Stanley reveals how to recognize and begin to live with the guiding presence of the Holy Spirit.” – The Spirit-Filled Life

My Thoughts
The Spirit-Filled Life is a book that really spoke to me. Sometimes when going through life, I haven’t made the time for my faith like I should have been doing. Something did feel missing, but I have been on the path to re-finding it, and am pleasantly surprised by how much this book could have helped years ago for me! It is an excellent resource that helps anyone to discover the joy of welcoming the Holy Spirit into your life. It doesn’t cost anything extra to do and can bring in a happiness that can’t truly be filled in your spirit in any other way. I love the message of this book and the stories included in it. I highly recommend it!

* Thank you to the publisher of The Spirit-Filled Life, Thomas Nelson, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

October Fresh Savings at Publix – Going on Right Now!

If Publix is near you (besides being lucky for having my favorite grocery store nearby) you can also save big this weekend on your weekly trip to the grocery store!

From October 9 – 15, you can save:
  • Save $2 when you buy any one (1) Hellmann’s® Mayonnaise (22oz or larger) and Deli Item (any variety, $2 minimum)
  • Save $2 when you buy any two (2) boxes of Quaker® Chewy® Granola Bars and Sliced Deli Meat (any variety, $2 minimum).
  • Save $2 when you buy any one (1) Nature Valley™ Protein Granola Cereal and Fresh Fruit (any variety, $2 minimum).
  • Save $2 when you buy any two (2) Propel® items (6pk 500ml) and Fresh Fruit (any variety, $2 minimum).
  • Save $1 when you buy any two (2) Knorr® Sides and Meat (any variety, $1 minimum).
  • Save $1 when you buy any one (1) Betty Crocker™ Potatoes (3.7 - 6.6oz) and Meat (any variety, $1 minimum).
  • Buy 2 Get 1 FREE Lipton® (128fl oz)
  • Buy 1 Get 1 FREE Lipton® Tea (100ct)
  • Buy 1 Get 1 FREE Progresso™ 100% Natural Broth
  • 10 for $10 on Betty Crocker™ Potatoes (3.7 - 6.6oz)

My favorite part about this savings event is that it is going to save money on sandwiches for lunches! The Publix deli is seriously one of my favorite parts of Publix because they have such good deli meat and cheese! Plus, a little mayo to go with the meat leads to savings with this event! Win-win!

Another favorite from the list here is the Buy 1 and get 1 FREE on the Progresso broth. This can make some great soups which are great for this time of the year.

Before you go to the store, be sure to go online to and see your weekly local ad for extra savings or coupons you can use while there!

“Disclosure: The information and prize pack have been provided by General Mills through Platefull Co-Op.”

September 28, 2014

Cancel the Wedding by Carolyn Dingman

Cancel the Wedding by Carolyn Dingman is the fictional debut from the author. This is a story about a woman who goes on a journey to discover secrets of the past and how to confront one’s future.

Book Description
“A heartfelt fiction debut that will appeal to fans of Emily Giffin’s Southern charm and Jennifer Weiner’s compelling, emotionally resonant novels about the frustrations of blood ties, Cancel the Wedding follows one woman’s journey to discover the secrets of her mother’s hidden past—and confront her own uncertain future.

On the surface, Olivia has it all: a high-powered career, a loving family, and a handsome fiancĂ©. She even seems to be coming to terms with her mother Jane’s premature death from cancer. But when Jane’s final wish is revealed, Olivia and her elder sister Georgia are mystified. Their mother rarely spoke of her rural Southern hometown, and never went back to visit—so why does she want them to return to Huntley, Georgia, to scatter her ashes?

Jane’s request offers Olivia a temporary escape from the reality she’s long been denying: she hates her “dream” job, and she’s not really sure she wants to marry her groom-to-be. With her 14-year-old niece, Logan, riding shotgun, she heads South on a summer road trip looking for answers about her mother.

As Olivia gets to know the town’s inhabitants, she begins to peel back the secrets of her mother’s early life—truths that force her to finally question her own future. But when Olivia is confronted with a tragedy and finds an opportunity to right a terrible wrong, will it give her the courage to accept her mother’s past—and say yes to her own desire to start over?” – Cancel the Wedding

My Thoughts
Cancel the Wedding is an easy to read novel that has likeable characters that I wanted to know the outcome of. The main character, Olivia, seems to have it all together, but anyone who seems the perfect on the outside rarely is ever holding it all together that well inside, right? Much like the story, more is under the surface than meets the eye, and this book takes you on a journey with her uncovering more about her family and herself than she ever would have thought.

Overall, I really liked the flow of the book, and the story was fun without being too cliché. If you are looking for a good book to read over the weekend or pack on a trip, this is definitely a good option! I highly recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of Cancel the Wedding, Harper, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

The Right-Brain Business Plan by Jennifer Lee

The Right-Brain Business Plan by Jennifer Lee is a fun business book for those who think more in a “right-brain” way. If you are creative and just unsure how to do the actual planning and business aspects of all of your grand ideas, this is definitely a book you need to read!

Book Description
Turn Passionate Ideas into Profitable Enterprises

Do you dream of making a living doing what you love but find the process of creating a viable business plan like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole? Jennifer Lee knows what it’s like to make the entrepreneurial leap — and how to do it successfully. The key is using, rather than stifling, imagination and intuition. Lee’s illustrated, colorful worksheets and step-by-step instructions are playful yet practical, transforming drudgery into joy. They’ll enable you to define your vision and nail down plans for funding, marketing, networking, and long-term strategy.

Discover how to:
• Develop a financial plan with fun and flair
• Select your circle of support to get the work done
• Clarify your business values and goals
• Paint a picture of your business landscape
• Understand your competition and what makes you stand out from the crowd
• Identify your perfect customers and create a marketing plan to reach them
• Map out concrete action steps to bring your Right-Brain Business Plan to life” – The Right-Brain Business Plan

My Thoughts
The Right-Brain Business Plan is a dare I say it, FUN way to go about starting or working your business? It is truly written for a right-brain person who is creative and has a lot of great ideas, but sometimes get lost in the actual process of day to day business operations.

The author writes in a way that seems more like you are learning from her in person rather than reading a book, which is helpful and makes you want to keep reading a book about business, right? She also offers a lot of very helpful ideas and examples of things you can do to improve your business, no matter what business it is that you are in.

I highly recommend this book and also the author’s “Building Your Business the Right-Brain Way” for anyone who is starting a business, who already has a business, or anyone who is a right-brain person that wants to make some money from a hobby they enjoy doing.

* Thank you to the publisher of The Right-Brain Business Plan, New World Library, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

September 27, 2014

Season of the Dragonflies by Sarah Creech

Season of the Dragonflies is the debut novel by Sarah Creech that takes place in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It has magical elements and is a story of sisters, family, and how even those with special gifts don’t always foresee things happening in their own lives.

Book Description
“As beguiling as the novels of Alice Hoffman, Adriana Trigiani, Aimee Bender, and Sarah Addison Allen,Season of the Dragonflies is a story of flowers, sisters, practical magic, old secrets, and new love, set in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

For generations, the Lenore women have manufactured a perfume unlike any other, and guarded the unique and mysterious ingredients. Their perfumery, hidden in the quiet rolling hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, creates one special elixir that secretly sells for millions of dollars to the world’s most powerful—movie stars, politicians, artists, and CEOs. The Lenore’s signature perfume is actually the key to their success.

Willow, the coolly elegant Lenore family matriarch, is the brains behind the company. Her gorgeous, golden-haired daughter Mya is its heart. Like her foremothers, she can “read” scents and envision their power. Willow’s younger daughter, dark-haired, soulful Lucia, claims no magical touch, nor does she want any part of the family business. She left the mountains years ago to make her own way. But trouble is brewing. Willow is experiencing strange spells of forgetfulness. Mya is plotting a coup. A client is threatening blackmail. And most ominously, the unique flowers used in their perfume are dying.

Whoever can save the company will inherit it. Though Mya is the obvious choice, Lucia has begun showing signs of her own special abilities. And her return to the mountains—heralded by a swarm of blue dragonflies—may be the answer they all need.” – Season of the Dragonflies

My Thoughts
Season of the Dragonflies is a good read. It offers a rather interesting storyline and the characters are fitting for the story. However, I didn’t exactly like any of them, which makes it hard as a reader to care much about the outcome of the story. The Lenore women all seemed a bit boring to me, and only Lucia really stood out to me at all, and it wasn’t that much.

I didn’t hate the book by any means. I just didn’t love it, and I really wanted to because it seemed like such a cool idea for a book! Maybe I came in with too high of expectations, because after I read it, my Mom read it, and absolutely loved it. So, don’t just go off of my review on it.

Overall, this is a good debut novel. It offers the reader a fun escape as a good travel or vacation book. It offers a magical realism that I enjoyed, but it was not quite on par with other similar books I have read. I think that as the author grows as a writer, her works will reach that level, so she is definitely one I’d like to read more from in the future.

* Thank you to the publisher of Season of the Dragonflies, William Morrow, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.