Monday, November 5, 2012

I met CJ Redwine!!

So, a few weeks ago on twitter, I noticed that one of my favorite authors, CJ Redwine, mentioned she would be in the StL in a few weeks.  Wait...hold up, the CJ Redwine that wrote 'Defiance'?? Yep, one in the same.  Look at this beautiful book!  Gah, it's gorgeous!!

So, anyway, I thought that's my neck of the woods! So I immediately responded asking if she meant St. Louis and she said yes!  I was so excited!  I assumed it was a book signing, but it was not.  She said that she wouldn't be in town long, but would love to meet up for coffee or lunch.  Hold the phone.... what? CJ Redwine would be willing to meet ME for coffee or lunch? Now, first I need to give a shout out to MG Buehrlen, who has been my BFF since the summer before 1st grade and is BFF's with CJ as well.  Without their relationship, I'm not sure if CJ would've agreed to this or not.  Either way, I was beyond happy at the slight chance I might get to meet her!  So, as it turned out CJ was going to be pretty busy and not have a chance to meet with me.  Which, I totally understand.  I was bummed, but still thought it was super awesome of her to even talk to me about it!  Fast forward to the day before CJ's arrival.  MG emailed me and said that CJ's editor might not get into StL until late and she was looking for someone to take CJ to a great StL place, and did I want to do it!?  EEP!  I immediately emailed my hubby and asked if that would be okay, b/c hello I have 3 kiddos (1 being a newborn) he would have to take care of.  He graciously said he would be glad to do it!  So, I had the amazing opportunity to pick CJ up from her hotel, take her to dinner/dessert and chat with her!  Sadly, I have been unable to read 'Defiance' yet b/c I have a serious case of the Mommy Brain.  I haven't been able to read much, and what I do read is just for review, not really for fun.  I was so bummed I hadn't read it yet, because I would've loved to talk with her about it.  OH well... :( 

So, I got dressed up (heck yea, I did).  

Picked CJ up at her hotel and took her to a local brewery down in Lafayette Square, Square One Brewery.  It was delicious!  We shared an appetizer (Oh my Goodness, it was so yummy! Dips, dips and more dips!), had a delicious meal and some good conversation.  Now, hopefully CJ didn't think I was an idiot.  I was talking to her about YALSA (the reason she was in town) and I said "Yeah, I looked up ticket prices and I wasn't going to be able to afford one" and she said graciously "are you a librarian?"  ""  I had no idea it was a librarian event.  *face palm*  It wouldn't have been the first embarrassing thing I said all night!  CJ was so kind and was willing to answer all my questions!  Unfortunately, we forgot to take pictures of our dinner (MG will be so disappointed in us).  We chatted about our kiddos, writing, getting published, staying at home and of course, our beloved MG Buehrlen and how awesome she is!  We then moved on down the road to Baileys Chocolate Bar for dessert.  Oh my goodness....look at their menu, fancy!

They even gave us appetizer before we ordered dessert! Two amazing little cookies.  They tasted like coffee meets chocolate chip.  Which, um, is so delicious! 

Then we ordered.  I got chocolate word.  The cinnamon ice cream on top was to die for!  

 CJ opted for the creme bruele.

 Then I asked our waitress to take our photo b/c how could I not get a pic of the two of us?  She is so gorgeous!  

I totally shamelessly brought my copy of 'Defiance' and asked her to sign it.  SHAMELESS!  She was so gracious and did.  She is so incredibly sweet.  She brought me a kick a$$  bookmark, too! kapow!

What an incredible opportunity to meet now only an awesome author, but a new friend!  I hope she thought the same!  I'm not gonna lie, I was so scared that she would think I was a complete and utter idiot, that I was so nervous!  I hope I didn't say anything that scared her off, and if I did, she graciously didn't say anything about it. :)  Thank you CJ, for the wonderful dinner out.  It meant so much to me that you took the time out of your busy schedule to meet with me, someone you don't even know!  You are a real class act!!  I can't wait to bunker down and read 'Defiance'.  :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

This is Not a Test

It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self. To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live. But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside. When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?

I chose this book to read/review because I adore Courtney Summers, and I am so glad that I did. Not only is it about zombies, which is scary, but Ms. Summers puts her own unique spin on the story that makes it a hard book to put down.

The characters are multi-dimensional, and I enjoyed reading about all of them. The main character is Sloane Price. The books starts off with Sloane contemplating suicide. At first I was like "wait a minute, isn't this book about zombies?" Sloane lives with her father, and he is not what you would call a "good" father. He is very hard on her, and her sister, Lily. Lily just up and left 6 months ago because she couldn't take it anymore. So, naturally Sloane is bitter and no longer wants to be in the house alone with her father. However, when the zombies invade, Sloane finds herself taking shelter in the local high school with 5 other students. Each student is struggling with his/her own battles, while they all struggle to be a team and stay alive.

I loved how the story is about a zombie apocalypse, however the characters take center stage. I really felt the book revolved around what each character was dealing with in his/her life, while the zombies loom right outside waiting for them to make a mistake. I found the book both thought provoking and intense.

I found it hard to put this book down, as I did with her previous books. I cannot wait to see what she has in store for us next!  4/5 stars!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Enchanted Attic: Facing the Hunchback of Notre Dame

A hidden attic. A classic story. A very unexpected twist. Twin twelve-year-old bookworms Ophelia and Linus Easterday discover a hidden attic that once belonged to a mad scientist. While relaxing in the attic and enjoying her latest book, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Ophelia dozes off, and within moments finds herself facing a fully alive and completely bewildered Quasimodo. Ophelia and Linus team up with a clever neighbor, a hippy priest, and a college custodian, learning Quasimodo's story while searching for some way to get him back home---if he can survive long enough in the modern world.  From

First of all, let me just say, I'm not a huge fan of middle grade.  However, I've been reading more of them because my oldest son is 7 years old and is an avid reader.  So, I want to read books that he might be interested in as he gets older.  And boy was I -pleased with this series!

Not only is the book witty, imaginative, and adventurous, it also incorporates friendship, treating everyone with respect and a background in older literature.  I actually enjoyed reading it, a 30 year old woman!  I really enjoyed how Ophelia, Walter & Linus treated Quasimodo with respect and human decency, something he did not get in his time.  I also enjoyed reading about how they worked as a team to get Quasi back to his own time without harming him.  I also loved how the book raises poignant questions such as; Can Quasi change his fate back in his time, by what he's learned in our time?  Not only is this a great lesson in teaching young children that we can make our own decisions, but whether or not we make the right ones, and how to go about doing that.

The other point I really enjoyed was the narrator.  A grown up janitor who is both witty, informative & makes for a very fun read!  I highly recommend this book for any middle school classroom and/or library and for middle grade readers.  Also, this is a series!  I can't wait to read the next one and I absolutely cannot wait to share these books with my children (they are a bit too young now, but soon won't be!)

Rapture (Fallen #4)

RAPTURE, the fourth & final FALLEN novel, is the Lauren Kate book the world has been waiting for.

The sky is dark with wings. . . .
Like sand through an hourglass, time is running out for Luce and Daniel. To stop Lucifer from erasing the past, they must find the place where the angels fell to earth.
Dark forces are after them, and Daniel doesn’t know if he can do this—live only to lose Luce again and again. Yet together they face an epic battle that will end with lifeless bodies . . . and angel dust. Great sacrifices are made. Hearts are destroyed.
And suddenly Luce knows what must happen. For she was meant to be with someone other than Daniel. The curse they’ve borne has always and only been about her—and the love she cast aside. The choice she makes now is the only one that truly matters. In the fight for Luce, who will win?
The astonishing conclusion to the FALLEN series. Heaven can’t wait any longer.

I have been so excited for this book for a LONG time.  I could not wait to read the ending to this series.  I love how unique this "fallen angel" series is compared to others, the tragedy of Luce & Daniel's love, the way not all the fallen angels are actually Hell's angels or bad.  After reading the third book of the series, Passion, I definitely could not wait to finish the series.

What I truly wanted from Rapture was more Daniel/Luce time, and Lauren Kate gave it to me.  I honestly would have liked more, but hey, beggars can't be choosers. :)  We finally get to know how Daniel and Luce FIRST met, and I mean for the VERY first time.  And Ms. Kate does a great job of tying all the lose ends together, while still giving us some romance and adventure.  

I was a bit worn out with the whole love story of Daniel and Luce though, to be honest.  I mean, after Passion I just wanted them to be happy and to not have to be living their love over and over without ever truly being together.  In my honest opinion, I think the series could have been 3 novels and been better.  However, that's just me!  Overall, I think this book does a great job of ending the series, giving the readers closure with all the characters, and I think fans of the series will be happy with it.  Thank you Ms. Kate, for a great and unique story!

  I was truly hoping for an ending to the entire series that I could be happy with. I think Lauren Kate did just that.  

Sunday, June 10, 2012


 Kaleb Ballard was never supposed to be able to see ripples--cracks in time. Are his powers expanding, or is something very wrong? Before he can find out, Jonathan Landers, the man who tried to murder his father, reappears. Why is he back, and what, or whom, does he want? In the wake of Landers's return, the Hourglass organization is given an ultimatum by a mysterious man. Either they find Landers and the research he has stolen on people who might carry the time gene, or time will be altered--with devastating results for the people Kaleb loves most. Now Kaleb, Emerson, Michael, and the other Hourglass recruits have no choice but to use their extraordinary powers to find Landers. But where do they even start? And when? Even if they succeed, just finding him may not be enough

Last year I could not wait to read 'Hourglass' by Myra McEntire, and she did not disappoint.  I was anxiously awaiting the sequel, 'Timepiece', and when it came up on netgally to read/review, I swooped in (after waiting a few hours because the fans requesting the book were crashing the site!), to request this book.  I was so delighted when I finally received the book via my Kindle and could get to reading.  I could NOT put the book down.

First of all, the book is from Kaleb's POV.  Yes, Kaleb's POV...did I mention Kaleb? :)   Myra does a fantastic job of telling Kaleb's story and bringing his character to life.  I'm sure it's not easy to write from a male POV, especially a teenage one, but she pulls it off flawlessly.  Not only is Kaleb a complex character, but he is likable.  Really likable.  I was a bit leery when I first heard that this book would be from Kaleb's POV, because I've been burned before with male POV, but oh my goodness, it was so good.  I was hooked from the first line; "Maybe getting drunk and dressing up like a pirate for the masquerade was a bad idea." *snort*  Oh Kaleb.  After that first line, it only gets better.  

I can honestly say that I loved  'Timepiece' more than I loved 'Hourglass'.  Yes, I loved the sequel more than the first book, and that's saying something since I absolutely loved 'Hourglass'.  This book kept me on the edge of my seat in suspense, made me laugh out loud, made me want more and more, and overall told a ridiculously GOOD story.  Myra McEntire is a genius.  And she somehow makes the whole time travel aspect believable and easy to understand.  How does she do that?  Duh, like I said, she's a genius.  

If you loved 'Hourglass' then you must read 'Timepiece'.  You will not disappointed.  Especially if you enjoyed the Kaleb scenes, *cough* apron scene *cough*.  And don't worry, there is still plenty of Em & Michael, too, so you won't miss them too much.  Kaleb more than makes up for their absence, trust me.  5/5 Stars to Timepiece by Myra McEntire.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

120 Bible Stories

"This collection of Bible stories presents the history of God's grace-full interaction with His people. Told through the words of Holy Scripture, children ages 8 to 12 will review God's many Old Testament promises to send a Savior and see how these promises have been fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
Each story includes discussion questions, a memory verse, and a full-color illustration. Extra features include maps, a time line, and a glossary with explanatory notes on key words and phrases." - From Amazon

I have a 6YO who loves to read, and he loves to read the Bible. So, I'm always looking for great Bibles/Devotions to read with him. This Bible is amazing. Not only are there many stories taken straight out of the Bible, but there are discussion/reflection questions at the end of each story, making it easy to discuss each story. The questions aren't just yes/no questions either, they are great discussion questions and help open up doors to discuss even more with your child.

I cannot recommend this Bible enough. The illustrations are colorful, and there are even maps to help little ones (and their parents) know exactly where the stories are happening.

If you're looking for a Bible for your 7-12 year old, check this one out! I don't think you'll be disappointed!

The Story Book Bible

The Story Bible tells the key story of Scripture: that of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It will help you nurture that special child in your life by presenting the unchanging trusts of God's Word. Share the faith with these easy-to-read stories. Watch your child grow confident in reading and understanding.

I'm always on the lookout for wonderful Bibles to share with my children. I look for true to life Bible translations, but in easier terms for my young ones to understand. This Story Bible does a fantastic job of doing just that. It brings real Bible stories to life, shortens them a bit, but still keeps in the Word. 

My 6YO loves reading from this Bible. He can read it by himself and then we can discuss it, or we read it together and discuss. Each story has wonderful questions to ask yourself when done reading. There is also a "Do" section and a simple prayer that you can use (great for devotions!). 

If you're looking for a Bible for your young reader, or even another devotional, this book is a great addition to any family library.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Girl in the Clockwork Collar

Okay, if you read my review of the first book of this series, then you know I could not WAIT for this book to come out. I adored the first book, and this book was no exception. All the main characters are back. Finley Jane, Griffin, Emily, Sam, and even Jasper. As the group travels to America to save Jasper, Finley realizes that she might not quite be over the darkness inside her. 

I enjoy reading about this group of characters so much, and I did not want the story to end (which it doesn't, there will be another book). Finley is such a strong female character and a great role model for girls. She is head strong, tough (literally she can beat up anybody!), loyal to her friends, and even when she thinks the darkness might be taking over, she is more good than she realizes. Emily is still witty, loyal and as always, incredibly smart. My favorite has to be Griffin though. I love what a gentleman he is, but he drives me crazy because he won't tell Finley how he feels (still!). Kady Cross does an excellent job of bringing her world and characters to life. I said it with the first book, and I'll say it again; Steampunk finally makes sense to me!

I liked the new setting. Bringing the group from England over to New York really worked in this book. I loved how New York was set up ala 'Gangs of New York' with fights, the Irish, and swanky get-to-gethers to boot! The romance is still there, and dare I say even some new romance. 

If you loved the first book (or even if you just love Steampunk), go get this book/series today! I cannot recommend it enough. And I will patiently wait for the 3rd book to come out. That's a lie, I will not wait patiently. Thank you Kady Cross, for such an amazing series!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Saving June Review

When her older sister commits suicide and her divorcing parents decide to divide the ashes, Harper Scott takes her sister's urn to the one place June always wanted to go: California. On the road with her best friend, plus an intriguing guy with a mysterious connection to June, Harper discovers truths about her sister, herself and life.

The moment I started this book, I could not put it down. Harper is a sixteen year old girl, who has just lost her older sister, June, to suicide. The raw emotions and vulnerability that come from that are not only real, but relatable as well. I have never personally lost someone to suicide, but I could feel the hurt, anger, guilt, and every other emotion through Harper. Hannah Harrington does an impeccable job of writing this story. 

The characters were real. Not a single one of them was perfect (in a nothing is wrong with them way). Harper feels guilty for not seeing that her "perfect" sister was about to commit suicide. She was the one who found her sister, and is now angry at June for not even leaving a note to explain why. Harper's best friend, Laney, is always there for Harper, no matter what. And after Harper's mother and her judgmental aunt aren't there for her like she needs them to be, she turns to Laney to help her figure out how to get June's ashes to California (June wanted to move there). At the wake, Harper meets Jake, a boy she's never seen before, and she wonders why he is there. When Jake insists that he drive Laney and Harper across the country to California, she agrees.

The road trip was written perfectly. I enjoyed how the road trip wasn't rushed, they three of them took their time, seeing sights, eating local foods, even participating in a protest in Chicago. I certainly enjoyed the stop in St. Louis very much since that is where I'm from! :) As they cross the country, Jake and Harper start to form something more and Harper must decide if she knows him well enough to trust him with her heart. 

I thought the story had a wonderful pace and when it ended, I didn't want it to. Harper's story is a heart felt, gut wrenching coming of age story. By far the best contemporary book I've read! You need to read this book!

Little Visits with Jesus (25th Anniversary Edition)

Just right for children ages four to seven, this best-seller offers relevant, biblical, and engaging devotions to help a new generation develop a strong faith foundation. Each "little visit" includes: a Bible verse, a story, a life-related devotion, ways to involve children in the story, and a prayer starter or suggestion.  (Taken from back cover)

A few weeks ago I had the honor of receiving a few books to read/review from Concordia Publishing House.  I cannot even begin to describe how excited I was, since this is the Lutheran Publishing company and I'm, well, a Lutheran!  I have heard about this book for the past few years and have been wanting to pick it up for devotionals with the boys, but just never got around to it.  When I opened my box and saw this new edition waiting for me, I squealed.  Yep, I squealed.  This book has been wonderful! Having two young children in the house (and 1 on the way), this book is perfect for our family.  The devotions are 1 page each, easy to read/follow, and open the door to great discussion.  Each devotion easily keeps my 4YO and 6YO's attentions (which isn't always easy).  

I cannot recommend this book enough to those of you with small children.  If you've been looking for a devotional for your young family, look no further!  Go out and grab this devotional today, you won't regret it! 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Motion, Magnets & More review!

Informative, Fun and Educational!

My eldest son cannot get enough Science. So, this book is HUGE hit in our household. He loves science experiments, science shows, etc. So, when we started reading this book, he was in seventh Heaven.

This book is divided into 4 sections; Touch It! Build It! Change It! and Move It! Each section has 10+ topics and experiments to do and discuss. From making a mosaic to learning more about gravity, this book has it all. It's great for preschool to young elementary aged children.

I plan to use this book during the summer when my boys are off school. I'm pretty sure there are enough activities and experiments to get us through the whole summer without getting bored. If you are a science lover, or are looking for a simple, yet informative book for a little one, get this book. It's worth it! I highly recommend this book for preschools, and young elementary school classrooms.

A Touch Morbid Review!

Unique twist on the supernatural!

I wanted to read and review this book based on the cover and the title. I guess that says something about me, but it's the truth. The cover is gorgeous and the title had me curious. Imagine my surprise when I started reading the book and realized it was a sequel. At first I was utterly and totally confused. There are so many characters, and they have all these names for the beings that they are and I was lost. However, I did not give up, and I'm so glad I didn't. Here's why:

First, the writing. The writing is so well done. I literally could imagine myself there with the characters, which doesn't happen that often to be honest. Leah Clifford's writing style comes across as effortless and REAL. The whole time I was reading the book I was blown away at how easily the words flowed. Secondly, the characters. There are lots of them, however after reading through the first couple of chapters, I had no trouble keeping track of them all. And each of the characters is important to the story, which I loved. There wasn't just a bunch of secondary characters thrown in the story for good measure, they all needed to be there. And what unique characters they are! Thirdly, the actual story. The story simply blew me away. It's a unique telling of Heaven/Hell that hasn't' been told before. Now, like I mentioned before, I haven't read the first book (A Touch Mortal) yet, but I plan to now! This is a story that has never been told before. It's not just a fallen angel struggling to somehow get back into Heaven, no. It's much, much more than that.

I applaud Leah Clifford for her amazing job on this book, and I plan to hurry on out and buy book 1 so that I can read that, too. It's not very often that I read a sequel and then WANT to read the first book of the series.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Author Appreciation Blog Tour-Myra McEntire

When I heard that there would be an appreciation blog tour going around for Myra McEntire, I said "I'm totally in".  I don't "personally" know Myra, nor have I ever met her in person, but I know she is a kick butt person and author.  I "met" Myra through my best friend, Mandy via twitter.  I knew at that time that Myra had a book coming out in about a year and her tweets were pretty darn funny.  Myra and I have chatted a bit over twitter and then last year when her first book, Hourglass, was released, I rushed out to buy it.  It is FANTASTIC.  Not only is Myra a funny, witty, kind and one of kind gal, she is a SUPERB author.  She is the type of author that grabs you from page 1 and doesn't let go (although she is very humble about it).  If you adore YA (like I do), love a snarky, witty, fun read, then go get Hourglass now...the sequel Timepiece will be out later this year and I cannot wait!  Go give Myra some love people.  She is such an outstanding person.  She even put together an auction for the flood victims in Nashville last year!  I hope to one day actually meet Myra in person.  Not only because I'm a huge fan (both of her book and of her personally), but because I think my life would be greatly enriched just having met this awesome lady face to face.  Go Myra, Go!!!

Here are some other blogs appreciating Myra today!

You can purchase Myra's books here:

To pre-order Timepiece: 

To order Hourglass:

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Just for fun-my pregnancy belly shots (all 3 of them)

Just for fun I thought I'd compare my belly size from my pregnancies.

 Here I am at 22 weeks with my first pregnancy (Aidan).

Here I am at about 21-22 weeks pregnant with Owen (and my little guy Aidan is beside me).

And finally here I am at 22 1/2 weeks pregnant with our baby girl (I'm a little over 24 weeks now).

So, I'm definitely more round this time around, which I already knew.  I actually have a "soccer ball" type shape instead of being "big" everywhere.  It's funny how differently you carry each pregnancy.  I carried the boys differently, too, but baby girl is carrying totally different-right out in front.  Fun times!