Friday, November 27, 2015

Book Blogger Hop: November 27-December 3

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop is hosted at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer.  This week's question:

How reliable can you say you are in terms of having promised reviews completed for blog tours or publisher and author requests?

I like to think I'm reliable.  I used to do a lot of tours that required me to post on certain days and I was fine with that for a long time.  Recently I've become far more seletive about which tours I sign up for just because I realized that the deadlines were making this too much like work.  Perhaps if signing up for a tour was the only way I could get review copies, I'd be more apt to do it, but since I have more NetGalleys than I can read, and they don't have deadlines, I'm leaning more and more to them.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Blog Tour and Giveaway: An Endless Christmas

An Endless Christmas: A Novella

About the Book:

There's no getting out of Christmas now, despite Katie rejecting Micah's marriage proposal. Cozy up this holiday season with Cynthia Ruchti's new novella, An Endless Christmas. The Binder family celebrates every Christmas as if it were their last. Too many people, too much snow, and too little room should be a recipe for disaster. But sometimes too much is just enough. Especially when it’s Christmas.

My Comments:

I really enjoyed this sweet Christmas read.  As noted above, Micah's family celebrates each Christmas as if it may be their last together and this year a couple of things happen that remind everyone that this really COULD be it--and yet there is a new generation, so while things change, family remains.  Cynthia Ruchti managed to write an emotionally moving story while staying true to the Christmas novella genre.  

The book is Christian fiction, so we know it is Jesus' birth, not Santa's arrival that is being celebrated and there are evangelical moments in the story, so it is probably too religious for those who don't like religious fiction, but since I prefer Jesus to Santa, I had no problem with it.  

An Endless Christmas is a book of contrasts--Micah and Katie live in Florida, but are celebrating Christmas in Minnesota.  That Christmas season involves both death and new family members.  Katie is from a small family that was never close; Micah's family always spends time together at Christmas. I think we all have our dream of the perfect Christmas; I think Cynthia Ruchti is telling us that the perfect Christmas is the one we make perfect, not the one that goes the way we plan.  

One thing I really liked about the story is that the characters went through Bayport Minnesota, which is where my parents met.  

I'd like to thank the nice folks at Litfuse for providing a complimentary review copy.  Grade:  B+

Celebrate the holidays with Cynthia and An Endless Christmas by entering her $100 Target gift card giveaway!

endless christmas-400 

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A copy of An Endless Christmas
  • A $100 gift card to Target
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on November 30th. The winner will be announced December 1st on Cynthia's blog.

endless christmas-enterbanner

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Review: Gifts from Our Father--A Catholic Prayer Book for Kids

About the Book:
How well do your loved ones know their Catholic Faith? Share your faith with the future of our Catholic Church with Gifts From Our Father - A Catholic Prayer Book for Kids. This hardcover book teaches Catholic prayers and traditions in a fun, simple, and easy to understand way without watering down our faith. Illustrated for kids yet written for adults, this is the perfect resource for Catholics of all ages who want to strengthen their knowledge and love for Christ and His Church.

My Comments:
If you are looking for basic textbook on Catholic beliefs, traditions and prayers that can be shared by the whole family, you may have found it here.  Gifts from Our Father begins with prayer, and after describing prayers of gratitude, petition, forgiveness and adoration, the Nicine Creed is presented..  This is followed by the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.  More prayers are presented including a prayer for the Holy Father, Acts of Faith, Hope and Love and the Act of Contrition (a heartily sorry version).  Holy Days of Obligation are discussed and then the liturgical year, including prayers for each season.  The Seven Sacraments are listed and described and, as appropriate, the Mass gets several pages.  Eucharistic Adoration is described and the Amina Christi and The Divine Praises are printed.  The Rosary, its prayers, mysteries and promises take up five pages.  The Memorare, the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes come next. The section on the Communion of Saints describes the canonization process, talks about living a holy life and then describes several saints and gives prayers of others.  

The book is printed on high-quality glossy paper and the illustrations are eye-catching and charming.  While the prayers in the book  use "you" and "your" rather than "thee" "thou" (except in the Rosary prayers) they are the adult versions of the prayes, not re-worked children's versions.  A family that wants a handbook of basic things that should be taught to Catholic children will find just what they need in this book. 

Scripture quotes are from the NRSV.  The book has an Imprimatur and a Nihil Obstat.   Grade:  A. 
I'd like to thank Catholic Word for sending me a review copy of the book.  Catholic Word describes itself as " a one-stop resource for leading programs and religious titles from over 35 top Catholic publishers. For over 15 years, Catholic Word has built a reputation based on quality, personal relationships and a devotion to excellence in service."  The mission they espouse is "to build up the Church one soul at a time through top quality Catholic materials and resources. Wherever a person is on their faith journey, we offer real help to taking the next step closer to God. Our motto is to do the right thing, in the right way, for the right reason."  They claim to be "100% faithful to the teachings of the Magisterium".  

Monday, November 23, 2015

It's Monday, What Are You Reading


Happy Thanksgiving to all my book blogging buddies.  It has been a good year for my family; I'm truly blessed and I wrote about it here.  One thing we did this year was renovate out bathrooms.

I managed to read quite a bit this week.  Reviews of these will be published in the future:


The Great American Dividend Machine: How an Outsider Became the Undisputed Champ of Wall Street

Review: Jesus, Pope Francis, and a Protestant Walk Into A Bar

About the Book:

Pope Francis has taken the world by storm, captivating Catholics, Protestants, and non-Christians alike. Sneaking out of the Vatican at night, washing the feet of inmates, and taking selfies with young fans is certainly unlike any religious leader we've seen in a while, and some of the religious establishment is uneasy about it. The revitalization Francis is bringing to the Catholic Church is not without precedent, however. Jesus had a similar effect in his day, drawing crowds with his humility, kindness, and wisdom--even as he drew the disapproval of established religious leaders. The things that have brought Francis such media attention are the same things that made Jesus so peculiar and attractive in his day.

Thoughtful examination of Jesus' example and legacy, as well as an honest look at the similarities and differences between Catholic and Protestant faith, invites reflection on the heart of Christianity and how we relate to our fellow Christians. Readers will discover the power of heartfelt joy, radical love, and passion for justice to shake people out of religious complacency and into dynamic, contagious faith. Jesus, Pope Francis, and a Protestant Walk into a Bar looks at what is universal among Christians, what is unique to Catholics and Protestants, and how all Christians can practice understanding and cooperation across differences.

My Comments:

This book is designed to be studied by a group.  Each chapter begins with a scripture passage, which the author uses as a starting point for the discussion topic.  At the end of each chapter are discussion questions.  The basic thesis of the book is that Protestants and Catholics share many common beliefs and it is those beliefs that Pope Francis' ministry is focusing on, not the divisive points.  The author is a Presbyterian pastor and he makes it clear that he disagrees with the Catholic church's stance that it is the true church.  He also disagrees with the Catholic church's teachings on homosexuality and the ordination of women.  However, he admits to sharing more beliefs with the Catholics than with some of the low church Protestants.  

The first main chapter starts with Jesus' calling the apostles (John 1:43-51). The authors point out that when asked who he was, Jesus did not reply with a resume, but with "come and see".  They point out that Pope Francis seeks the poor and the marginalized and preaches by his actions as much as with words, and that he describes himself as "a sinner". They also point out that many of the marginalized have given up on churches which seem too clean, too caught up in church rules.  The discussion questions after the chapter ask study groups to discuss the popularity of Pope Francis and whether they believe it is increasing or decreasing, what they like about him, and what they don't.  They ask participants who are Catholic whether they could respond to a Protestant who asks why they are Catholic "come and see", and ask the same of Protestants, if questioned by Catholics.  Getting down to the nitty-gritty, readers are asked "If, as Jesus and Pope Francis contend, real power is dirty, simple, smiling, inviting, and on the margins, is your congregation demonstrating such power to the world?  How?  If not, what might you do to help create such a ministry?".  Finally, readers are asked in what ways they or their congregations distanced themselves from the slums of the world.  

This is not a book about doctrine, it is a book about action.  It does not compare the Protestant views on Communion with Catholic teachings on the Eucharist.  It does not debate infant vs believers' baptism.  It doesn't even consider whether there should be a Pope.  The authors like Pope Francis' humility and outreach; they would like him to change the Church's teachings as noted above but admire that he hasn't made those teachings and other "thou shalt nots" the focus of his papacy; rather they point out that Pope Francis is about relationships, as Jesus was.

The final part of the book is a recommended reading list for both Catholics and Protestants so that we can better understand each other's teaching.  

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  I suspect that just about everyone would find a discussion question or two in this book that make them uncomfortable, and I guess that's a good thing.  Grade;  B+

Friday, November 20, 2015

Book Blogger Hop: November 20-26

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop is hosted at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer.  This week's question:

Do you read every day? If so, do you have a "page goal?" 

I read something every day.  Sometimes I'm in the mood for books; other times blog posts are enough.  I don't set a page goal because this is fun, not work.  

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Seven Quick Takes: Things for Which I am Thankful

seven quick takes friday 2

1.  As I start to plan Thanksgiving Dinner, I can sit back and think of the things for which I am thankful.  The first, of course, is my family.

It has been a good year for us.  My son recently started his second year on the job.  He works for the catering company at the Superdome.  Unfortunately it is only part-time, and during the summer it gets to be practically nothing, but he is gaining experience and it gets him out of the house.  Hopefully the next step will be to get a job to fill in the hours that the catering company doesn't use him.  Unfortunately, the money that paid to find him the job he has and to support him when he started it doesn't pay for a second job (he's autistic); the only way they will help him find another job is if he loses this one--and you can be sure it will be another low-wage part-time job.  My older daughter is doing well in college and we are going to get her today.  She's across the state but it is a pretty day and we have time off coming, so rather than have her wait and come home with friends in the middle of next week, we are getting her tomorrow. The youngest is getting big fast; it won't be long and she'll be gone too.  My husband is a salesman and this has been a good year.  

2.  I am thankful to live in the USA.  For all the threat some feel from Muslims, the reality is that we haven't had war on our soil in over one hundred years.  We enjoy economic prosperity and personal freedom.  God Bless the USA.

3. I am thankful that my family is doing well economically.  As noted above, my salesman husband has had a good year.  We have reached the point that interest and dividends add up.  My parents left us money.  I write about these things on another blog:  Racing Towards Retirement.

4.  I am thankful for good health for my family.

5.  I am thankful for good food, and thankful that my parish takes care of the poor.  One week the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts collected over a ton of food for the parish food bank.

6.  I am thankful for my Catholic faith.  It was a gift from my parents and a gift from God.

7.  I am thankful for my readers.  Like Kelly said, I appreciate those who click on ads, or use my links to buy books, as well as those who read and comment.  

Happy Thanksgiving.  

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Snagshout: My Review

Honestly, is a sale at your favorite store an opportunity to save money or is it an excuse to spend money?  Some people are less fussy about what they get if they save money on it; others only purchase at a discount what they would have purchased anyway, or use the discount to purchase things they wanted but couldn't afford at full price.

If deep discounts get you to buy, whether you need an item or not, stay away from Snagshout. On the other hand, if you can use deep discounts to purchase things you would have purchased anyway, Snagshout has some real bargains.  

Bebella Luxury Wild Collection: Professional 1.25" Pure Onyx Ceramic Plates Hair Straightener Flat Iron (Classic Zebra)

My youngest wanted a flat iron.  Snagshout offered this Bebella Luxury Wild Collection: Professional 1.25" Pure Onyx Ceramic Plates Hair Straightener Flat Iron (Classic Zebra) for $11.49.  It sells for $22.99 on Amazon.  The catch?  I have to review any products I get from Snagshout on Amazon.  I've never used another flat iron so I don't have anything to compare it to, but it did straighten my daughter's hair.  

Best Anti Snoring Device - Advanced Sleep Apnea Relief - Most Comfortable Stop Snoring Solution - 4 Premium Nasal Dilators - 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed - Aid for High Sleeping Quality

Unfortunately, I wasn't so lucky with the first product I reviewed.  While my husband said Dr. Sleepwell Snore Stoppers were not uncomfortable to wear, they didn't quiet his snoring.  These sell for $13.89 and I got them for $,97.  Because I am a Prime member, shipping is free.  

While I haven't seen a lot of products on Snagshout that I can't live without, I do have my eye on a few things.  The more reviews you write, the more items you are allowed to "snag" at one time.  Right now I have to write my review before I get another product.  I can work my way up to having five products out at a time. 

For those who like to (or at least don't mind) writing reviews, Snagshout could be a money-saver; for those who buy things they wouldn't already buy, this could turn out to be a money suck.  Grade:  A

Review: Archangela's Horse

About the Book:
Sometimes God has the most unpredictable ways of showing us the path we are to take. Archangela comes to understand God's will when her beloved horse Santo refuses to take her where she wants to go, revealing a different path for her life. Written by Sherry Boas, Illustrated by Ines Leguizamo.

My Comments:
If there is one love that is almost as universal as the love God has for us, it is the love that girls have for horses.  Archangela's Horse is the story of the love Eleanora Girlani, who later became known as Blessed Archangela, had for her horse and how God used that horse to lead her to her true vocation as a Carmelite nun rather than as the Benedictine nun she wanted to be.  While the writing is a little overdone in spots, I think the story will definitely grab the horse-crazy 8-11 year old girl.  The illustrations are done in water color and are a strong point of the book.  Grade:  B.  

I'd like to thank Catholic Word for sending me a review copy of the book.  Catholic Word describes itself as "a one-stop resource for leading programs and religious titles from over 35 top Catholic publishers. For over 15 years, Catholic Word has built a reputation based on quality, personal relationships and a devotion to excellence in service."  The mission they espouse is "to build up the Church one soul at a time through top quality Catholic materials and resources. Wherever a person is on their faith journey, we offer real help to taking the next step closer to God. Our motto is to do the right thing, in the right way, for the right reason."  They claim to be "100% faithful to the teachings of the Magisterium".  

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Bathroom Renovations: Before and After

We just renovated our bathrooms and I'm happy with the results.  I decided to share with all of you, since I can't invite most of you over to see them in person.

My bathroom, almost before.  I had taken the wallpaper border down before I took this photo.

My bathroom now
My bathtub before

My bathtub after
Hall bathroom before
Hall bath vanity area before
Hall Bath After

Hall bath vanity area after
Hall tub before

Another after view of hall bath
Hall tub after

Monday, November 16, 2015

Blog Tour: Ditching the Drive-Thru (Giveaway too)

Ditching the Drive-Thru

About the Book:

After an exhausting day at work, hitting the drive-thru or nuking a pre-fab meal is all too often the go-to decision for feeding a family. Cooking a meal from scratch using fresh ingredients can seem beyond the average person’s time, energy, or financial means. But with mounting evidence pointing to processed food and our industrial food system as the culprits behind many of our nation’s health problems—including obesity, diabetes, and cancer—it’s now more important than ever to be fully informed about what goes on your family’s dinner plates.

If you’re ready to take control of your food choices but don’t know the difference between grass-fed versus grain-fed, pastured versus free-range, or organic versus sustainable, read this book to discover:

• How to create your own thirty-month plan to convert your family from junk food to real food, without a revolt!

• Recipes and advice on planning and prepping meals so you can make homecooked a habit for your family

 • Instructions for getting the most out of produce using techniques such as lacto-fermentation, dehydrating, and canning

•  introduction to the world of farm-direct sales, including tips on locating local farms, seeing through marketing buzzwords, and shopping with CSAs Ditching the Drive-Thru exposes the insidious hold the commercial food industry has taken over the fast-paced lives of the average American and the danger these processed foods and diet plans pose to our health, environment, and emotional wellbeing.

Learn how to break free from the grind and return to a simpler relationship with food from farmers, not factories, and home-cooked meals that are created in your kitchen, not on a conveyor belt.

My Comments:

My mom and my grandmother both had large vegetable gardens and the tomatoes were to die for--and that's a figure of speech, those tomatoes woudn't kill you but author J. Natalie Winch wonders if the store-bought ethlyne-gassed ones we use today might.  

In Ditching the Drive-Thru, Winch takes a look at how our food has changed over the years (for the worse), how most commercially available food today is produced and what the alternatives are.  She is a supporter of Commuity Supported Agriculture, where customers pre-purchase a percent of a farmer's vegetable crops for the year, of buying meat directly from a farmer and of raw unpasturized milk from pasture-raised cows.  She looks at the low-fat craze and the junky food it produced.  While the book contains a few recipes it isn't really a cookbook.  It is basically a book that urges us to eat like our ancestors who lived in the early twentieth century did.

The book is written in the first person so it sounds like Natalie is talking directly to you, friend to friend.  While she quotes a few scientific studies, she admits she is not a professional in the areas of science or nutrition.  The book is an easy read with a lot of information.

I'd like to thank the folks at iRead Book Tours for providing a complimentary review copy.  I was not obligated to write a positive review.  Nevertheless, I give this book a B+


You can win one of twenty free copies of this book at the tour headquarters.

Meet the author:

J. Natalie Winch author pic

J. Natalie Winch lives in southern New Jersey, not far from where she grew up, with her husband, two children, and dogs. When she isn’t mothering, teaching, grading, or making lesson plans, Natalie runs the Hebrew School at her synagogue, coaches soccer, teaches lacto-fermentation classes, writes the occasional entry for her blog Food Empowerment (, and fights the dust bunnies that threaten to take over her family room.

Connect with the author:   Website 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Sunday Post

Sunday Post
Sunday Post

Well, fall has arrived here in South Louisiana; the house was below 70 this morning so I switched the thermostat from cool to heat; I wonder how long until we switch it back?

This past week was pretty typical for me; I led my Brownie troop on Monday and went to a school board meeting on Thursday (I'm on the board for my daughter's Catholic school).  I needed a stack of books for the Brownie meeting and while I was at the library I picked up a couple of books.  They were pretty typical Debbie Macomber; quick easy reads with happy endings.

Silver Linings: A Rose Harbor Novel

Love Letters: A Rose Harbor Novel

I'm participating in a blog tour for Cynthia Ruchti's Endless Christmas.  You can win $100, so please enter the giveaway. On the Christmas theme, I reviewed RaeAnne Thaynes'  A Cold Creek Christmas Story.  The final review I published this week was Encyclopedia of Peg Saints.

endless christmas-400

Other things on this blog were a From My Archives feature and my answer to the Book Blogger Hop question of the week. 

I am now enjoying a lovely Sunday afternoon supervising my daughter while she does (or tries to avoid) her homework.  Why do kids these days have so much homework?  

Oh, one more thing; I also have a finanical planning blog, and this week I'm hosting a link-up; you can to save money on kids' clothes, shop for health insurance or even win on-line contests.  

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