Women of Valley View by Sharon Srock

Friday, June 28, 2013


This week's featured New Release is Sharon Srock's latest,
Terri: Women of Valley View 2



Despite a bustling day care center and a new foster child, Terri Hayes hungers for a family of her own. Then a plumbing mishap leaves her homeless and questioning God's plan. Steve Evans's gracious offer of his basement apartment as a temporary solution is an answered prayer.

Steve is a successful writer and a good father, but Terri is horrified when Steve's book research leads him to a harsh confrontation with the parents of her foster child. She needs to distance herself from Steve, but her efforts fall short as his two scheming daughters plot to make Terri their new stepmother.

Will harsh words and sneaky plans drive a family further apart and put a wedge between Terri and Steve, or does God have another plan in store?
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REVIEWS

Terri is a delightful story, the second book in Women of Valley View. The humor is great and the author had me bursting into laughter several times. The romance is delectable and I found myself sighing and rereading the sweet romance scenes between Terri and Steve. The storyline is so interesting, dealing with being a foster parent, and seeing the other side of the problem. The author doesn't portray the parents whose child is taken away as bad people, but someone who needs help. This is just a minor part of the story but it shows how social services can help people get back on their feet and be better parents. I have several favorite quotes from this book and here is one I'll share with you: "The workings of a woman's brain have been a mystery since Eve." By Linda Weaver Clarke
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Terri is a single woman looking for "Mr. Right," and has been looking for him so long that she begins to go ahead with her plans in spite of not having found him, yet. There's someone on her mind, of course, but he has older children and a granddaughter, already, while Terri wants very much to have babies. So, she becomes a foster parent. In hopes that this will fulfill some of the desires of her heart whether she finds a husband, or not.

That's the premise. A lot of things happen to both thwart and encourage her, and one finds themselves reading to the last page just to see how everything turns out for everybody. It's a good read based on that alone. Very well-written, too. Ms. Srock brings people and place alive so vividly that you will actually recognize people you know there. Or at least wish you knew. But that isn't what makes it special.

What sets this book apart from most is the perspective. I might even go so far as to call it "the view." Like a movie running across the window of your mind, it gives you a front row seat to not only observe how Terri works out her problems, but how we can possibly apply those same methods to work on ours. Because that part of the story is real. Something you can take home with you.

Would I recommend the WOMEN OF VALLEY VIEW: TERRI? You bet. Because in my opinion, anytime you can walk away with something that valuable from an enjoyable piece of entertainment makes it priceless. Which is why I think everyone should meet the "Women of Valley View." By
**
I am not much of a reader and I have never done a book review before so here goes nothing. A book really has to grab my attention first off to keep me engaged. Terri accomplished this without question! I love Terri and how "real" she is. You can really feel her inner struggle and her desire to follow God's will. However, she is human, and as we all do at times, her idea of the way things should go and idea of what she thought she needed, conflicted with what God had in mind. After some pretty harsh reality checks, a few ugly pity parties and a couple of scheming teenagers, Terri see's that what God had for her was way better than what she ever could have imagined. I felt the story flowed well and did a great job of making each character personal. I really felt that I knew these people. I was on edge and feared for Sean and Ella's marriage, when Steve got tough with Sean. I loved that this book showed that although God is a loving God, there are sometimes he uses tough love to get his point across. The love Steve shows Sean by being straight with him was hard and almost cost him his relationship with Terri. Regardless he followed God's leading and his obedience was rewarded. Not only does he get the girl, he gets to be part of the miracle that helps to bring a broken, young, on the run from God's call on his life, Sean, back to Christ. As a result we witness the healing of a broken family. I appreciated how this book shows us that even when we can't see, God does. By 1emmons

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sharon Srock lives with her husband, Larry, and two dogs in Rural Oklahoma. She is a mother, grandmother, and Sunday School teacher. Sharon has one and three-quarters jobs and writes in her spare time. Her favorite hobby is traveling with her grandchildren. She is a member of the ACFW and currently serves as treasurer for her local chapter. Sharon's previous writing credits include numerous poems and short stories published in science fiction fanzines.

For the latest news from Sharon, and details about the other Valley View women, check out her website!




Pelican Books -- http://tinyurl.com/8ncbjnl

Barnes and Noble—http://tinyurl.com/9ahy3tg


Be sure to visit www.clashofthetitles.com for more recommendations for your Summer reading!

Happy Reading!


FIRST Wild Card Book Tour + My Review: Lock, Stock, and Over a Barrel by Melody Carlson

Thursday, June 27, 2013

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!



Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

B&H Books (June 1, 2013)

***Special thanks to Laurel Teague for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Melody Carlson has written around 200 books for teens, women and children. That's a lot of books, but mostly she considers herself a "storyteller." Her books range from serious issues like schizophrenia (Finding Alice) to lighter topics like house-flipping (A Mile in My Flip-Flops) but most of the inspiration behind her fiction comes right out of real life. Her young adult novels (Diary of a Teenage Girl, TrueColors etc.) appeal to teenage girls around the world. Her annual Christmas novellas become more popular each year. She's won a number of awards (including the Rita and Gold Medallion) and some of her books have been optioned for film/TV. Carlson has two grown sons and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and yellow Lab dog.


Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

With high hopes, Daphne Ballinger lands her dream job at The New York Times. But it's not long until writing about weddings becomes a painful reminder of her own failed romance, and her love of the city slowly sours as well. Is it time to give up the Big Apple for her small hometown of Appleton?

When her eccentric Aunt Dee passes away and leaves a sizeable estate to Daphne, going back home is an easy choice. What isn’t easy is coming to terms with the downright odd clauses written into the will.

Daphne only stands to inherit the estate if she agrees to her aunt's very specific posthumous terms -- personal and professional. And if she fails to comply, the sprawling old Victorian house shall be bequeathed to . . . Aunt Dee’s cats.

And if Daphne thinks that’s odd, wait until she finds out an array of secrets about Aunt Dee's life, and how imperfect circumstances can sometimes lead to God's perfect timing.


Product Details:
List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: B&H Books (June 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1433679302
ISBN-13: 978-1433679308


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

When Daphne Ballinger graduated top of her class with her degree in journalism, in the memorable year of 2000, she had promptly moved to the city to launch her illustrious career writing for The New York Times. And why not dream big? Because really, how many grads landed such an impressive job straight out of college?

Her plan had been to work hard and quickly scale the ladder to success. By thirty she would have a corner office with a window overlooking the river as well as an apartment on the west side. By her midthirties, she would have published her first book. But similar to the plans of mice and men, Daphne’s best-laid schemes had gone awry.

She stuffed a worn pair of brown Prada pumps into her Hermès bag (splurges she’d indulged in back when she still believed you should dress for the job/life you wanted). Then she sat down to put on her comfy-yet-unfashionable white sneakers. After tying the first shoe, she sat up straight and looked around the messy apartment.

Daphne knew it was cliché but, on gloomy days like today, it truly did feel like the walls were closing in on her. Most of the time, she could overlook the crowded space. She could walk right past piles of papers and miscellaneous pieces of clothing and empty take-out boxes . . . and not even notice. But this morning, the apartment actually seemed to stink. When was the last time they’d really cleaned this place?

She shared this three-bedroom apartment with Greta and Shelby. And in previous years Greta, the lease owner, had always proclaimed April as spring-cleaning month. But it was already mid-May and no one had lifted a finger. And Greta, obsessed with a new job promotion, hadn’t complained once. Daphne’s gaze skimmed over gritty windows, dingy curtains, dust-covered surfaces, piles of clutter, sun-faded carpet. . . . How had she stayed here so long?

“I can’t promise to be here more than a year,” Daphne had informed Greta Phillips when she first moved to the city right after graduation.

A coworker at The Times had tipped off Daphne about a friend looking for a third roommate for an apartment in Brooklyn. And although the location was lackluster, it was near the subway and the rent was affordable. Besides, it would just be a temporary stop—the bottom rung on her ladder to success—or so she had naively believed.

“And after a year?” Greta had asked Daphne with a single arched brow.

Daphne simply smiled . . . perhaps a bit smugly upon reflection. “Oh, I plan to move into my own place by then.”

“Your own place?” Greta seemed humored by this declaration. “Really?”

“Oh yes. This is just the first step for me.”

“Well, I still need you to sign a one-year lease. After that, we’ll see.”

Daphne had hesitantly signed that “confining”  lease, wondering how Greta would react if she was forced to break the contract before the year was up. Although numerous other roommates had come and gone during the next thirteen years, climbing their own ladders to success, Daphne had stayed . . . and stayed . . . and stayed. Remembering the arrogant assumptions of her youth was embarrassing.

“Hey, Daphne,” Shelby called out cheerfully. Shelby was the most recent roommate, less than six months ago she’d moved here straight from her family’s Connecticut home. “I’m heading out early this morning. So you’ll have to put Oliver in the bathroom. Okay?”

Daphne looked over to see Shelby looking sparkly and stylish as she opened a golden shoe box. After tossing the lid, tissue paper, and red shoe bags aside, Shelby extracted a dark-colored shoe with a sole that flashed like a stoplight. Shelby slipped on the first high-heeled pump, pointing her toe to admire the sleek black patent leather. “Classy, huh?”

“Another pair of Louboutins?” Daphne frowned, knowing she probably sounded like somebody’s mother. But really, Shelby couldn’t afford such extravagances.

“Yes. Can you believe it?” Shelby giggled. “I think I’m going to need a twelve-step program before long.”

“Or a raise.”

Shelby waved a hand, hopping on one foot as she tugged on the other shoe. “I’d rather settle for a nice, big diamond.”  Shelby was obsessed with Marilyn Monroe, and sometimes Daphne worried that the pretty young woman had seen How to Marry a Millionaire one time too many.

“So how is that working for you?” Daphne knew Shelby had been flirting with her boss’s son for the past several weeks. She also knew the boss’s son had recently divorced his second wife.

Shelby stood up straight, pushing her short, sassy blond hair back into place with a confident-looking grin. “As it turns out, John Junior is taking me to Club 21.”

“21?” Daphne was impressed. The whole time she’d been in New York, she’d only been there once. And here Shelby was going after just a few months. This girl worked fast.

“Yes. I told John Junior that I’d been dying to go there ever since I moved to the city. And we’re going there tonight. Can you believe it?”

“Can you believe it” was Shelby’s favorite expression and sometimes, after hearing it a few dozen times in the course of an evening, Daphne sometimes wanted to gag the girl. “That’s wonderful, Shelby.” She stood and smiled. “I hope you and John Junior have a lovely time.” Did Shelby really call him John Junior—to his face?

“Oh, we will.” Shelby reached for her hot pink umbrella, holding it in front of her like a scepter. “The weatherman predicted showers this morning. So don’t forget your umbrella.”

“I hope the rain doesn’t ruin your pretty new shoes.”

“No worries.” Shelby shrugged. “John Junior is picking me up in his car this morning.”

“He’s driving you into Manhattan at this time of day?”

“No, silly, that would be insane. He’s giving me a ride out to his parents’ home in the Hamptons. John Senior is working at home today, so I’ll be working there too.”

“Oh . . .” Daphne nodded. That explained the new shoes, stylish suit, perfect hair. Shelby was out to impress Mrs. John Senior. “Well, have a good day.”

“Oh, I’m sure I will.” Shelby opened the door to peek out. “There he is now—right on time. You should see his car, Daphne.” She stepped outside, then looked back in. “Don’t forget to put Oliver in the bathroom.”

Daphne went over to the front window, watching as Shelby skipped down the cement stairs in her new shoes, swinging her bright umbrella in time with each step. Sometimes it was as if Shelby were starring in her own movie. She paused midway down the steps, waving to the man who was just getting out of the silver Jaguar in front of their building. From her vantage point, Daphne could see the balding patch on the top of the man’s dark hair, and for some pathetic reason this comforted her.

Still, as she stepped away from her voyeurism, she didn’t wish ill for young Shelby. If John Junior was truly a nice guy, she hoped he would produce a diamond . . . in due time. Daphne hadn’t known Shelby long, but she knew the old-fashioned girl dreamed of a big white wedding and a houseful of kids. It was sweet, really.

“Oliver,” Daphne called out as she grabbed a yogurt carton from the fridge. “Here, kitty-kitty.” She reached into Greta’s bag of kitty treats, singing out enticingly. “Here’s a treat for you, Oliver. Here, kitty-kitty.”

She was not fond of Greta’s fat gray cat and, unfortunately, Oliver seemed to sense this. Still, she kept her voice sugary as she walked around calling for him, “Come on, Oliver, come get your yummy-yummy kitty treat.”

She eventually found him hunkered down in Greta’s bedroom with a guilty expression, but if he was doing something he shouldn’t, Daphne did not want to know. She had learned the hard way to keep her own bedroom door closed. For some twisted reason Oliver sometimes preferred a nice soft bed to his smelly litter box in the bathroom.

“There you are, you darling little scoundrel,” she said in a saccharine tone. As he looked up, she curled her arm around his hefty midsection. “Got you.” Then she quickly packed him off to the bathroom, tossing in the treat with him behind it. “Have a good day, you spoiled fat cat.” Daphne closed the door firmly. It wasn’t that she disliked cats in general. She just didn’t care much for Oliver.

By the time Daphne locked up the apartment and was on her way to the subway, it was already starting to rain. And despite Shelby’s reminder, Daphne had set off without her umbrella and there wasn’t time to run back and get it now. Consequently, as the clouds opened up and let loose, she got thoroughly drenched in the short distance to the subway. Waiting with the other dampened commuters, she tried to shake off some of the moisture before the train arrived, then she hurried in with the crowd, finding a spot in the back of the car where the air was smelly and muggy and close.

Firmly planting her feet, Daphne held tightly to a pole and, shutting her eyes, attempted to imagine herself in a happier, cleaner, dryer place. Like the Grand Canyon where her dad had taken her as child one summer. She breathed deeply as she recalled the beautiful painted mountains changing hues of golds, reds, and russets at sunset.

This was a trick she’d taught herself years ago, her way to combat the claustrophobia that she sometimes suffered in the city. One would think she’d be over her dislike of tight spaces by now, but on days like today the anxiety seemed to lurk just below the surface. She remembered when she had been in love with New York. Some called it the Big Apple Honeymoon Phase, but it had lasted several years for her. However, like so many other things in her life, it had gotten a little tarnished and dull over the years. And as she emerged from the subway, back into the drizzling rain and noisy traffic, she didn’t much like the city.

By the time Daphne reached her cubicle at The Times and peeled off her soggy jacket and slushy sneakers and stashed them in a sodden pile in the corner, her long auburn hair, which she’d spent thirty minutes straightening this morning, now resembled Bozo the Clown. Not that anyone would particularly notice or care since most of her day was spent on her own.

Daphne was a wedding writer—one of several—and she had been doing the same thing for more than ten years. She could write one of these pieces in her sleep. In fact, sometimes she did. Oh, not for the paper, but she would lie in bed writing another piece. They ran about 250 words, five or six paragraphs, all meant to impress the bride and the groom and their family and friends.

She turned on her computer and perused her e-mail, sifting through junk and flagging some, and then on to read today’s assignments. This time of year was usually fairly busy, but to her surprise there was only one happy couple waiting for the spotlight, and she managed to spend two whole hours on making them seem larger than life. Hopefully they would appreciate her efforts.

Then with still an hour until lunch, she imagined what she’d write for Shelby’s wedding announcement, and because she was bored and didn’t like to appear idle or get caught playing Spider Solitaire, she decided to hack a phony baloney announcement for her romantic roommate.

Miss Shelby M. Monroe and John Junior Millionaire were married on Friday night in May at Club 21 in downtown Manhattan. Family friend and celebrity entrepreneur Donald Trump, who became an ordained minister for this monumental occasion, officiated the extravagant
event where no expenses were spared.

The beautiful bride, twenty-three, and the prematurely balding bridegroom, of undetermined age, met at the bride’s place of employment, which is also the bridegroom’s father’s multimillion-dollar investment corporation.

Miss Monroe, who will not be keeping her name since it’s not really her name, will give up her career, which wasn’t really a career, in order to raise a houseful of boisterous children. She is the daughter of a once-prestigious family who resided in Westport, Connecticut, until her father’s investment corporation was dissolved in a scandal involving insider trading. Now, despite some diminished wealth, the bride’s parents are enjoying an early retirement abroad.

Mr. Millionaire, who goes by John Junior, holds some mysterious position in his father’s corporation, where not much actual work is required of him. John Junior graduated from some Ivy League school,
where his family probably had some really good connections.

Following an over-the-top honeymoon, which probably involved
a beach in an exotic locale, the happy newlyweds will reside
in a penthouse apartment on the upper west side.

The bridegroom’s first two marriages ended in divorce.
Hopefully the third time will be the charm.

Feeling a bit juvenile, not to mention catty, Daphne hit the select all and delete buttons. Best not to leave something like that lying around for too long. She was about to shut down and go to lunch when her cell phone rang. She got up and grabbed her bag. After digging for her elusive phone and expecting it to be Beverly since they were meeting for lunch today, she was surprised to discover it was actually her father. He rarely called her in the middle of the day. Not unless something was wrong.

“Dad?” she said with concern. “What’s up?”

“Hello, Daphne. I’m afraid it’s bad news.”

“What?” Her throat tightened. He’d had some health issues last winter. Hopefully it wasn’t worse. She’d lost her mother as a small child. Dad was all she had left of her immediate family.

“It’s Aunt Dee . . . she passed away this morning. Her lawyer just called to inform me, and I thought you’d want to know.”

“Aunt Dee.” Daphne sank back down in her chair. “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that, Dad. I know how much you loved her. I loved her too. And I’d been hoping to get out there to visit you and her this summer. I can’t believe she’s gone.”

Tears filled her eyes as she suddenly recalled the summers she’d spent at Aunt Dee’s house as a child when Dad was busy with work. Aunt Dee had tried to make up for Daphne losing her mother. Daphne and Aunt Dee had always enjoyed a special connection and a shared name.

“If it’s any consolation, she died peacefully. In her sleep.”

“How old was she?” For some reason, Daphne couldn’t recall her aunt’s age. She knew she was older than Dad, but in a way Aunt Dee had seemed timeless. Maybe it was her youthful spirit.

“She would’ve been ninety-one in July.”

“Ninety-one? Wow, I had no idea she was that old.”

“Yes. She never really told anyone her real age. But she enjoyed a good, full life.” He sighed. “Even though she never married or had children, she seemed to have a good time in whatever she did. She traveled. Had lots of friends. Dee lived life on her own terms. And she always seemed happy.”

“She did—didn’t she?” Daphne let out a choked sob as she reached for a Kleenex, wiping the tears now streaming down her cheeks.

“I’m sorry, honey. I hate to be the bearer of sad news. But I knew you’d want to know.”

“Yes. I appreciate that. I don’t know why I’m taking this so hard.” She blew her nose.

“Will you be able to make it out here for her memorial service?”

“Yes, of course, Dad.” She reached for another tissue.

“Oh, good. I’m in charge of everything. And I could really use your help with the arrangements. I mean, if you can come out here soon enough . . . I’ll understand if you can’t drop everything.” His voice sounded tired and weak, but maybe it was just sadness.

“How are you feeling? I mean, with your heart and cholesterol and everything. Are you okay?”

“Oh, sure, honey. I’m fine. Don’t worry about me.” He sighed. “When do you think you can get away?”

“I’ll find out as soon as we hang up. And I’ll get right back to you,” she promised.

“Thanks, Daph. I can’t wait to see you.”

They said good-bye, then she grabbed her purse and hurried up to her boss’s office, feeling she’d get better results if she asked in person. Hopefully Amelia wouldn’t have left for lunch yet. However, when she got up there, Daphne could tell by the darkened office that Amelia was already gone.

“Amelia left early for a lunch meeting,” her assistant told Daphne. “Want me to leave her a message for you?”

“No. I’ll come after lunch. When do you expect her back?”

Fiona shrugged. “Well, you know how those working lunches can drag on forever. I wouldn’t expect her until three or maybe even four.”

“Thanks. I’ll stop by later.” Daphne headed out to meet Beverly, calling her as she walked toward their favorite dining spot. She left a message saying she was running late. Then she called Dad and explained that her boss was out. “As soon as I know, I’ll call,” she assured him.

Fortunately, the rain had stopped and the clouds had cleared and the city, now scrubbed fresh and clean, should be shimmering in the sunshine. And yet, as Daphne hurried down the street, everything around her still felt dull and gray and dismal.


My Thoughts:
I don't really know where to start with Lock, Stock, and Over a Barrel by Melody Carlson, on one hand, I loved the premise of the story and I like how it played out for Daphne, but on the other hand, I only liked a couple of the characters which is always a disappointment for me. When all is said and done, this was a good story and I hope the series gets better as it continues.

Daphne Ballinger, New York Times columnist, is likeable but I found myself liking her deceased Aunt Dee the best! Dee was quirky and a bit ornery and I loved that she had a secret life penning "bodice rippers" when she was alive. I found myself more attached to her and even found myself wanting to read one of her Penelope Poindexter romances! As a side note, I think Carlson could really play up this series by having Daphne publish her own romance novel as Penelope (maybe an e-book novella) in "real life". Aunt Dee would be proud and I would be all over reading that story! 

Since this was the first book in the series there were a lot of loose ends but I was glad to see Daphne evolve and leave behind one of the major hurdles from her past. I wasn't really rooting for any of the potential love interests that were introduced to Daphne when she settled in Appleton, but I guess we'll see what happens in book! I think this series could end up being really, really good. I've been impressed with what I've read from this author before so there's hope!

~ My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars ~

 *I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.*

Happy Reading!


Win a Vintage-Style Skirt Courtesy of Shabby Apple!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I absolutely adore vintage style clothing and I really like a great deal. The folks at Shabby Apple offer both fun style AND affordability with clothes to fit almost any figure -- you can even shop for your little one! I think I spent a few hours browsing their website today and I didn't even realize it!

Here are a few of the stylish finds that I would love to have in my closet!


One For My Baby ~ Two words: polka dots!



Cleopatra ~ A great maxi dress is a summer must-have!



Lemon Drop Skirt ~ This flirty skirt looks so light and breezy!

Be sure to check out even more fantastic vintage styles here, on the Shabby Apple website: http://www.shabbyapple.com/c-458-vintage-style.aspx

*************************
Giveaway Time!

~  Thanks to Shabby Apple, you can enter to win one of my favorite pieces, the Hully-Gully Skirt (Ladies Sizes: 0-16). It's a fab high-waisted pencil skirt that would be perfect for day or night! I just adore the bow and really, who doesn't love polka dots?!  ~

Hully-Gully Pencil Skirt

US RESIDENTS ONLY, ages 18+. Prize will ship from Shabby Apple. I am not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes. Void where prohibited. To be entered to win you MUST fill out the Rafflecopter form below. If you have any problems using it, please contact me via email at steelergirl83(at)gmail(dot)com.


Good Luck!





Product Review: Broadway Nails imPRESS Press-On Manicure

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

When it comes to manicures I'm not a high maintenance girl. Sure, I like my nails to look great but anything that makes getting the job done simpler and faster with great results I'm all over it. Thanks to Influenster and Broadway Nails I was able to try an imPRESS Press On Manicure kit in the "Get Into It" style and I have to say I was impressed...no pun intended!

The kit was easy to use, the nails quick to apply, and best of all there was no downtime waiting for glue or polish to dry or trimming. This was a first time for me using any kind of fake nails so if application was that easy for me, you can bet it will probably be a cake walk for you as well! With 24 nails in the kit I received it was easy to find the correct sizes of nails to cover each of my own nails. They also include an alcohol pad to clean your own nails prior to applying the press on nails. If your nails are good and clean and you follow the easy-peasy instructions on the back of the box, the manicure should last you up to a week. My manicure lasted 6 days and I put it through murder, in the ocean and in a chlorine saturated swimming pool! It lasted waaaay longer than the traditional pedicure that I got at the salon the day. If that weren't enough to make me a fan of the kit, I got so many compliments on the design -- even the technician who gave me my pedicure noted how great my fingernails looked! She couldn't believe I did it myself. I let her in on my secret though and told her they were press-ons.

My snazzy imPRESS manicure!
If you're searching for a great look for the weekend or a night out with your girl friends I highly recommend this kit. With online deals and coupons you can get a set for around $7 and since each kit includes around 24 nails you might be able to get two full sets out of the kit like I did! Less than $4 for a manicure that lasts a week and doesn't damage your nails when you remove them is a great deal in my opinion!

Pros: Easy to use, pretty, durable (lasted 6 days for me), easy to remove, doesn't damage your real nail, inexpensive

Cons: If your real nails have any bit of length they will need trimmed back. I tested the medium length kit and had to cut my own nails prior to applying the press-ons. Limited number of colors & prints available.

~ My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars ~
A good product

About the product:
Introducing imPRESS Press-On Manicure by Broadway Nails, the revolutionary way to apply polish! Featuring advanced nail technology, you can get a salon-perfect manicure in seconds – simply peel off, press on, and you're done. There's no drying, a killer shine and a manicure that lasts up to a week! And, imPRESS is so easy to remove, you can change it up to match your mood as often as you want. Check out all colors and patterns, including trendy brights, classic darks and animal prints. With imPRESS, your nails will always be your best accessory.

imPress Manicure retails for $5.99 for colors and $7.99 for patterns, and is available at CVS, Rite Aid, Duane Reade, KMart, Walgreens, Walmart and more. For a full list of online and in-store retailers, visit imPressManicure.com, where you can download an exclusive coupon and virtually try on all the colors and patterns!

~ Want to learn more about Broadway Nails and their products? Check out their website HERE. Follow them on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

~ Want to read what other reviewers are saying about their imPRESS nails?  Check out the Influenster website.


"I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes. This review is my honest opinion of the product."





Review and Giveaway: The Silent Stars Go By (Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Book Collection, Book 11) by Dan Abnett

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Silent Stars Go By
(Book 11)
by Dan Abnett
Copyright 2011, 2013
ISBN: 9781849905176
As a Whovian, I'm always looking to get my hands on the latest and most exciting products in the Who-niverse and I'm so happy to say that the books I've read in the 50th Anniversary collection are stellar! All the new Who-related things coming out this year that I've bought or received to review rock. The latest "product" being the last book in the 11 book series entitled The Silent Stars Go By which features the current Doctor as portrayed by Matt Smith and his recently departed companions Amy Pond and Rory Williams.

If you're at all a fan of the series you know that in recent years every winter the BBC has aired a Christmas special featuring the Doctor and his companions on an intergalactic, super-sized, Christmas themed adventure. The Silent Stars Go By is a Christmas special but in the form of a book -- and it's a wonderful, fun, fast-paced book to boot! It's perfect to take with you in your beach bag or to just snuggle under the sheets with.

The Silent Stars Go By begins, as most things that the Doctor is a part of -- with a bang. We're not talking Big Bang 2 as in the conclusion of series 5 but nevertheless, it's certainly an adventure. With Rory and Amy at the helm of the TARDIS along with the Doctor you might expect some fussing and nattering on between the Ponds and this book certainly has that, lending to an authentic Doctor Who feel. If you loved the brave and loyal Rory or bossy Amy and are missing them since their departure mid-season last year, then this is certainly a book to read.

The Silent Stars Go By 
on my shelf. :)
Along with the Doctor and the Ponds, an old foe of the Doctor's as well as some new (and creepy!) creations made this one interesting story. I wasn't prepared to meet Transrats (shivers) let alone the Transhumans. They lent a new twist to the story that I did not see coming! The Doctor was not trying to protect Hereafter from one threat but many! The Silent Stars Go By is a really clever tale featuring an old alien race from the original series. What's really great is, if you want more adventures with the Doctor and the Ice Warriors they were brought back and revamped for an episode earlier this year.

For those who are Whovians or for those yet to be introduced to the Doctor and his many companions, I recommend giving this book a try. With loads of action and witty dialogue The Silent Stars Go By is my favorite Doctor Who book to date. If you're like me you're counting down the days until the 50th anniversary episode in November and you're in need of a Doctor Who fix. Reruns of the show, this book, and I'm sure the others in the series; are just what the doctor ordered to tide us Whovians over until then.


Back Cover Blurb:
The winter festival is approaching for the hardy colony of Morphans, but no one is in the mood to celebrate. They're trying to build a new life on a cold new world, but each year gets harder and harder. It's almost as if some dark force is working against them. Then three mysterious travelers arrive out of the midwinter night, one of them claiming to be a doctor. Are they bringing the gift of salvation or doom? And what else might be lurking out there, about to wake up?

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars ~

*I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.*

~ To read more about the book or to order a copy The Silent Stars Go By, go HERE.

~ Follow Doctor Who BBC Books on Twitter!

 ~ Read what other's on the TLC Book Tour are saying about the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary collection books HERE.

Check out this clip from the current series of Doctor Who where the Doctor meets a rather intimidating Ice Warrior!


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Giveaway!
Open Internationally

Enter to win one brand new copy of The Silent Stars Go By by Dan Abnett courtesy of TLC Book Tours and BBC Books! If you have any difficulties with the form please feel free to email me at steelergirl83(at)gmail(dot)com.




Happy Reading!


Splendid New Suspense: Deadly Devotion by Sandra Orchard

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Deadly Devotion
(Port Aster Secrets, Book 1)
by Sandra Orchard
Copyright 2013
Revell Books
ISBN: 9781441241832
The Story:
Kate knows the truth is out there--but if she's right, that means a killer is out there too.

Research scientists Kate Adams and Daisy Leacock were on the brink of a breakthrough for treating depression with herbal medicine when Daisy was suddenly found dead. Kate knows that her mentor's death wasn't suicide or a careless accident--and she's determined to do whatever it takes to unearth the truth about what happened to the woman who changed her life.

Former FBI agent Tom Parker is finding it hard to adjust to life back in his hometown of Port Aster. Though an old buddy gave him a job as a detective on the local police force, not everyone approves. Tom's just trying to keep a low profile, so when Kate Adams demands he reopen the investigation into her friend's death, he knows his job is at stake. But despite his attraction to her, Tom thinks Kate may have something to hide.

As evidence mounts, a web of intrigue is woven around the sleepy town of Port Aster. Can Kate uncover the truth? Or will Tom stand in her way?


My Thoughts:
Sandra Orchard, although not a "new" author is new to me and I have to say I'm a fan! Even though this book has very little romance it's high on the suspense and really had me stumped as to whodunnit. I was a little wary when I first started, thinking to myself that it was waaaay too easy and it was going to be a tough book to get through since I already had the case solved but I have never been more wrong. Sandra Orchard writes a mystery along the lines of a Castle script -- I really enjoyed all the twists and turns. I'll admit that the heroine was a little crazy for going after a killer pretty much on her own with no detective or police experience but I ended up liking her. I definitely am interested in the next book in the series especially since it appears that Kate, Tom, and the whole crew from Port Aster will be back at it again! If you're a fan of the cozy mystery then this is a title not to be missed!

“Available June 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”
~ My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars ~

*I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.*

For some great extras from Deadly Devotion, including excerpts be sure to visit this page: http://sandraorchard.com/extras/bonus-book-features/

Connect with Sandra via Facebook: www.facebook.com/SandraOrchard

Happy Reading!


My Review of Catch a Falling Star by Beth K. Vogt

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Catch a Falling Star
by Beth K. Vogt
Copyright 2013
Howard Books
ISBN: 9781451660272
The Story:
Is life about accomplishing plans . . . or wishes coming true . . . or something more?

Dr. Kendall Haynes’s plans to have it all—a career, a husband, a family—are eluding her. Now that she’s thirty-six, she needs to stop wishing upon a star and face reality: Some dreams just never come true.

Air Force pilot Griffin Walker prefers flying solo in the air and on the ground—until a dangerous choice ejects him from the cockpit. His life becomes even more complicated after the sudden death of his parents makes him the guardian of his sixteen-year-old brother. There’s no way his life will ever get back on course now.

When their lives collide during a near tragedy, Kendall and Griffin must decide if they can embrace the unexpected changes God has waiting for them.


My Thoughts:
Wish You Were Here was my favorite debut novel of 2012 so naturally when I learned of Catch a Falling Star, I was over the moon (pun intended). Just as Wish You Were Here immediately captured my heart, Catch a Falling Star did the same. With characters who shine from the first page, I was hooked! While it didn't have the romantic, chick flick-y feel of her debut, Beth Vogt's sophomore novel confirms that she's a crazy talented writer with a real knack for romance.

I enjoyed the interaction and chemistry between Kendall and Griffin. As for Kendall and another certain someone, I was shaking my fist the entire time. I kept saying to myself, "Oh girl, you'd better wake up soon or I'm gonna have to smack you!"  I really liked that, for the most part, the story had a natural flow to it. I thought the ending was a teeny bit rushed and didn't have to end with a marriage proposal but it is what it is. I still enjoyed the story and highly recommend it to romance fans.

Beth K. Vogt is a new favorite author whose books I'd recommend to anyone in a heartbeat. Looking for a summer beach read or a story with quirky characters that pull at the ol' heartstrings? Jump in your Jeep (or ride of choice) and head to the bookstore or library to check this one out!

To learn more about the author and her books visit, HER WEBSITE.

~ My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars ~

Tid-Bit:
The entire time I was reading this book I kept singing the song of the same title by Perry Como over and over in my head. It's still stuck in my head, thanks to Perry, Beth, and Call the Midwife I'll probably be humming it for the rest of the summer.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from the author or publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.*


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Happy Reading!



The Doctor and River Song

I get tears in my eyes every time I hear the song "A Thousand Years" by Christina Perri but from now on I'll probably ugly cry every time I hear it because I will think of this video... I AM the world's most romantic and sentimental Whovian.

A Thousand Years - Doctor/River (River's Timeline) posted by ViveAmneris





Trailer: The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

SQUEEEE!!!!! Who else is ecstatic about the next Hobbit movie?! I just found this trailer that was posted today and this movie looks even better than I thought it was going to be. Downside: we STILL have not heard Benedict Cumberbatch voicing Smaug (sad face).





Litfuse Blog Tour + Giveaway Details: Barefoot Summer by Denise Hunter

Monday, June 10, 2013

Barefoot Summer
by Denise Hunter
Copyright 2013
Thomas Nelson Publishers
ISBN: 9781401687007
The Story:
Madison’s heart has been closed for years. But one summer can change everything.

In the years since her twin brother’s drowning, Madison McKinley has struggled to put it behind her. Despite the support of her close-knit family and her gratifying job as a veterinarian in their riverside town, the loss still haunts her.

To find closure, Madison sets out to fulfill her brother’s dream of winning the town’s annual regatta. But first she has to learn to sail, and fast.

Beckett O’Reilly knows Madison is out of his league, but someone neglected to tell his heart. Now she needs his help—and he’ll give it, because he owes her far more than she’ll ever know.

Madison will do anything—even work with the infamous Beckett O’Reilly—to reach her goal. And as much as she’d like to deny it, the chemistry between them is electrifying. As summer wanes, her feelings for him grow and a fledgling faith takes root in her heart.

But Beckett harbors a secret that will test the limits of their new love. Can their romance survive summer’s challenges? And will achieving her brother’s dream give Madison the peace she desperately seeks?


My Thoughts:
Where do I begin other than to say I loved this book?! Ever since I read The Convenient Groom years ago I've been a fan of Denise Hunter. While I've enjoyed all of her books since that first experience in Nantucket, none quite lived up on the romance side of things until her latest book, Barefoot Summer.

Beckett O'Reilly is just one of those heroes and by "one of those" I mean a bit roguish, tall, dark, and handsome and oh so easy to fall in love with (*dreamy sigh* he has coal colored eyes). I could definitely see why Madison McKinley could hardly resist him! While not a perfect story, I was thoroughly engaged in the story and finished the book from cover to cover in one sitting. I thought it was a little far fetched that Madison learned to swim, restore a boat, and learn to sail all in such a short time but the rest of Madison and Beckett's story is so unique (love the setting!) and romantic that it is definitely one of my favorite story's of the year. Even with the sizzling chemistry between both characters, it was more than just a romance. As with any Christian fiction Madison and Beckett struggle with their faith and heartaches, both past and present.

Barefoot Summer is the perfect read to take with you to the beach or just to grab when you want to hole up in your reading chair with a good book! If you've read and enjoyed Denise's books in the past, you won't be disappointed. If you aren't familiar with this author this is a great book to start out with!

To read what others are saying about the book visit the Litfuse website HERE.

To purchase a copy of the book, go HERE.

~ My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

 *I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.*

Meet the Author:
Denise lives in Indiana with her husband Kevin and their three sons. In 1996, Denise began her first book, a Christian romance novel, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she's been writing ever since. Her books often contain a strong romantic element, and her husband Kevin says he provides all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!


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Giveaway Details

Denise Hunter is celebrating her new Chapel Springs Romance series with a Summer Fun Giveaway. The first book, Barefoot Summer, is already a favorite with readers. “Hold-your-breath romance, heartache, and laugh-out-loud moments. It’s more than a good read. It’s a delight.” -- Lisa
BarefootSummer 
Summer: it’s all about sunny skies, star-gazing, swimming, spending time with loved ones, and living as if a small part of the weight of the world has been lifted off your shoulders.

Get ready for some serious summer fun with Denise’s 12-Day Summer Sun giveaway. From June 10-21, keep your computer near as you head to the lake or your friend’s barbecue because Denise will be giving away a summer essential each day!



Happy Reading!


For Fans of Women's Fiction: That Certain Summer by Irene Hannon

Saturday, June 8, 2013

That Certain Summer
by Irene Hannon
Copyright 2013
Revell Books
ISBN: 9780800722494
The Story:
Two very different sisters . . . an unexpected homecoming . . . one unforgettable summer

Karen and Val are family-yet they're anything but close. Karen has carried the burden of responsibility for her aging mother ever since her sister left town years ago to pursue a career in theater. But Val had other reasons for moving away-as well as a secret to keep-and coming home has never been an option . . . until their mother suffers a stroke.

Reunited in their hometown, Karen and Val must grapple with past mistakes as they care for their ailing mother. When two handsome men enter the picture, the summer takes on a surprising new dimension. As their lives intersect, can each of them learn how to forgive, let go, and move on? And strengthened by the healing power of faith, might they also find the courage to love?

My Thoughts:
This past week I was relaxing on the beaches of North Carolina. To keep myself entertained while reclining in the sand next to the ocean, as any good book worm would do, I chose to take a few books with me! Irene Hannon's That Certain Summer was the book that called to me the most so it's the book I put in my tote bag everyday. While it wasn't the best story I've ever read, I liked it. It wasn't exactly a "beachy" read but it was quick and entertaining. They weren't poorly written or unlikable in any way but the main characters, Karen, a middle-aged divorcee and Val, a stunning model who was filled with regret about a tough choice she made as a teen weren't easy for me to connect with. I think if I were older I would have found their stories easier to relate to. That said, I did enjoy the little peeks at the romances that blossomed for each of the sisters. I almost feel like I wanted to know more about Karen and Val and that maybe if they had each had their own book things could have been explored further and not seemed as forced or rushed at the end. All in all this was a good book but I think if I were to recommend Ms. Hannon's books, I'd start with her Guardians of Justice series.

~ My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars ~

“Available June 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

*I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.*

Meet Irene:
Irene Hannon is the author of more than 35 novels, including the bestselling Heroes of Quantico and Guardians of Justice series. Her books have been honored with two coveted RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America, a Carol Award, a HOLT Medallion, a Daphne du Maurier Award, and two Reviewers' Choice Awards from RT Book Reviews magazine. Booklist also included one of her novels in its "Top 10 Inspirational Fiction" list for 2011. She lives in Missouri.

For more information about her and her books, Irene invites you to visit her website at www.irenehannon.com.

Happy Reading!


Cover Reveal for Bleeding Heart by Amber Stokes

Monday, June 3, 2013

I started this blog a little over 4 years ago never imagining that I'd connect with so many fun and interesting people with the same love for books as I have. One of the first people I had the chance to "meet" through this blog was fellow reader, Amber Stokes, then known as Border's Girl (you'll have to ask her about that ;-) ). Not only is she a reader but a book blogger AND an author! I haven't had the chance to read her book, Bleeding Heart, yet but I'll just bet that it's going to be AWESOME! Today, I'm so happy to be a part of the cover release party for the book! I'm sure it will be a great success. I don't know about you, but just based on the cover alone I can tell it's going to be my kind of story. So drumroll please...

The cover for Bleeding Heart by Amber Stokes!


Isn't it lovely? I can't wait till this book is released and I can read it!!!!!!!!

The Story:
Five bleeding hearts. One profound journey.

Summer 1886 Sally Clay’s livelihood has been snatched away, but in its place arises an opportunity to escape from her sordid past and an unrelenting, unwanted suitor. Boarding a train with a heartsick rancher and an enigmatic miner, she leaves Virginia City behind and heads to Northern California, waiting for the chance to make right what went wrong three long years before.

But the road to revenge is far from smooth. Sally soon learns that the jagged pieces of a broken heart can far too easily wound the hearts of others – and hers isn’t the only heart that’s broken. Tragedy and fear dog her steps as she flees from the redwood forests to the high desert and back again. Will her bleeding heart ever find a way and a place to heal?

A desperate soiled dove. Three men who come to care for her. One man determined to claim her.

All on a journey that will show them what true love really involves.

Inspirational Historical Romance


Teaser:
Prologue 

Breaking hearts should be considered a crime. That would make Elizabeth Lawson an outlaw and Joe Clifton the victim. And that wasn’t a far stretch in Joe’s mind. She had rounded up his heart, branded her name across it when it should never have belonged to her, and then left him high and dry. Still, he was getting sick of hanging around the scene of the crime. He just didn’t know where else to go.

Lake Tahoe had once been his favorite get-away destination, a place where he could go to just sit back and enjoy the view of water as clear as a shined-up mirror. Now those crystal depths and the unmoving boulders along the water’s edge taunted him, bringing back memories of a happy proposal and a less-than-happy scene where his heart was handed back to him on a silver platter – bruised, broken, and bleeding.

He didn’t want to make any more memories like that. So he made a promise to himself: He would never let anyone break his heart again.


Meet Amber:
Amber Stokes has a Bachelor of Science degree in English and a passion for the written word - from blogging to writing poetry, short stories, and novels. After her brief time at college in Oregon, she is now back home among the redwoods of Northern California, living life one day at a time and pursuing her passion via freelance editing and self-publishing her debut novel, Bleeding Heart. You can connect with Amber on her blog, Seasons of Humility.

 For more information please visit Amber's new author website HERE.

Happy Reading!