Monday, December 27, 2010

Book Review: Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball

Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball: A Novella
by Donita K. Paul
Copyright 2010
WaterBrook Press
240 pages
ISBN: 0307458997
From the Publisher:
In a sleepy, snow-covered city, Cora Crowder is busy preparing for the holiday season. Searching for a perfect gift, a fortuitous trip to Warner, Werner, and Wizbotterdad's (a most unusual bookshop) leads to an unexpected encounter with co-worker Simon Derrick and the surprise discovery of a ticket for a truly one-of-a-kind Christmas Ball.
Every year, the matchmaking booksellers of the Sage Street bookshop host an enchanting, old-fashioned Christmas Ball for the romantic matches they've decided to bring together.
This year, will Simon and Cora discover a perfect chemistry in their opposite personalities and shared faith? Or will the matchmakers' best laid plans end up ruining everything this holiday?
My Review:
This book was a perfect holiday read with a light-hearted plot filled with family, romance and a little bit of magic.  Once I started this book, I was immediately transported into the magical setting and before I knew it, I had finished the book with a warm heart and a smile of my face.
The plot of this book is a mix of a Hallmark movie, Harry Potter and a Christian romance.  I loved the "magical" elements that kept happening through the story, such as the street appearing/disappearing, the ticket that was meant for Cora, the sisters and their dress shop and of course, the Wizard Ball.  The only downside was that issues within Cora's family were mentioned many times, but there was no resolution to them.  I guess that the reader is just supposed to be get wrapped up in the magic of the story and the fairy-tale-ending, but I felt like I was left hanging by not finding out that Cora's family resolved their problems.
I'm a complete sucker for a happy ending and this novella did not disappoint.  I'd recommend it to anyone who's looking for a sweet, feel-good book, especially when Christmas rolls around. 
Many thanks to Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing for providing me with a copy of the book to review!  Sara's Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Book Review: Hatteras Girl

Hatteras Girl

by Alice Wisler 
Copyright 2010 
Bethany House Publishers 
320 pages 
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0732-7

From the Publisher:

Jackie Donovan prays for two things: an honest, wonderful man to marry and to own a bed-and-breakfast on the beautiful Outer Banks of North Carolina. In the meantime, she works for Lighthouse Views, writing articles about local business owners, and intrepidly goes on the blind dates set up by her well-meaning but oh-so-clueless relatives.

There's one specific property Jackie dreams of purchasing: The Bailey House, a fabulous old home located right next to the ocean, a place where Jackie spent many happy childhood afternoons. But the Bailey House has strange stories and secrets surrounding it—not to mention its outrageous price tag.

When Jackie meets handsome Davis Erickson, who holds the key to the Bailey property, she believes God has answered both her prayers. But as Jackie learns some disturbing details about Davis's past, she begins to wonder if her heart has lead her astray. Will she risk her long-held dreams to find out the truth?

My Review:

This book was a cute and light read, but I found it to be rather average.  The author did a great job of creating the setting and describing the beachy community in North Carolina.  Also, I enjoyed following Jackie along on her dream to own a bed and breakfast, but I felt like there were a few random stops along the way.  The stops added to the quirkiness of the book and there were many aspects that made me smile such as: Jackie’s family always trying to set her up on dates, her colorful array of hats, her mom’s broken English, her dealings with Minnie’s son, Zane and Buck at the Sunnyside Grille.

I was a bit disappointed that Davis turned out to be such a “bad guy,” but I liked how everything turned out for the best in the end.  Overall, this was a “happy” read and your typical, clean chick lit. 

Many thanks to Bethany House Publishing for sending me this free book to review!  Sara’s rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Book Review: Amy Inspired

Amy Inspired

 Amy Inspired 

by Bethany Pierce 
Copyright 2010 
Bethany House Publishers 
320 pages 
ISBN: 0764208500 

From the Publisher:

With rejections piling up, she could use just a   little inspiration...

Amy Gallagher, aspiring writer, has an unabashed obsession with words. She gave up a steady, albeit unexciting, job to pursue a life of writing. However, two years and one master's degree later, she finds herself almost exactly right back where she started. Discouraged by the growing pile of rejections from publishers and afraid that she has settled, Amy knows something has to change.

Then she meets the mysterious, attractive, and unavailable Eli. Amy finds herself struggling to walk the fine line between friendship and something more with Eli, even as she tries to cope with the feeling that her friends and family are moving on without her. When the unexpected begins pouring in, Amy doubts the love and fulfillment she seeks will ever come her way. Forced to take a close look at who she has become, the state of her faith, and her aspirations for her life, she must make a choice: play it safe yet again or finally find the courage to follow her dreams.

My Review:

This book was interesting.  It was different in ways that I haven’t quite decided are good or a bad, and as with other reviewers, I’m slightly confused as how to review/rate it. 

There were parts of the book that were entertaining and even certain moments where I was laughing at loud at the situation or witty thoughts of the main character, Amy.  Yet, there were also moments of randomness (a student who has a crush on Amy, her mom’s makeup business, the Cheetos bag), which left me confused as to how it all fit into the story.  Also, though the description mentions a possible romantic interest in Eli (which does happen), I felt that the main relationship in the story was between Amy and her roommate, Zoe, as they deal with the struggles of their writing careers, men and their families.

The story seemed to drag bit, but the last few chapters saved this book for me.  Maybe I’m a sucker for a happy ending, but I really liked how Amy and Eli met up again and how the title of the book came into play within the story.  Overall, this was decent book. 

Many thanks to Bethany House Publishing for sending me this free book to review!  Sara’s rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Monday, November 29, 2010

Book Review: A Rush of Wings

A Rush of Wings

by Kristen Heitzmann

Copyright 2003 (repackaged 2010)

Bethany House Publishers

384 pages



From the Publisher:

Though her panic is real, Noelle St. Claire is uncertain what danger she is fleeing. Fragmented images and slivers of memory have driven her to abandon her wealthy, sheltered life in New York for the hope of a haven—remote and safe.

Noelle's arrival at the Rocky Mountain horse ranch owned by Rick Spencer and his brother Morgan causes more than a little stir. Beautiful, vulnerable, yet strangely secretive, Noelle is an enigma the two contrasting brothers seek to unlock. But as their attentions breach the wall she hides behind, the past becomes a menacing threat from which Noelle can no longer hide.

My Review:

This is the first book I’ve read by Kristen Heitzmann and I’m glad to say that I won’t be my last!  Suspense is one of my favorite genres and when you add a bit of romance into the mix, I’m hooked.  This book has a fast paced and intense plot which is what kept drawing me to this book chapter after chapter.

Heitzmann did an excellent job of building suspense by only revealing bits of Noelle’s traumatic childhood past at a time.  As I read the book, I had my ideas about what happened to Noelle, but things made a surprised turn as the end approached.  The issues in this book such as kidnapping, rape and a violent ex-fiancĂ© where rather intense, but I felt like they were presented tastefully and were a valid part of the plot.  While the amount of suspense kept the story moving, the romance was just enough to balance out.  I found the love triangle between Rick, Morgan and Noelle to be entertaining, especially since the brothers are complete opposites.  Though I was rooting for Rick from the beginning, it was nice to see Morgan grown up a bit near the end and do what was right.  Lastly, there was the element of God within the story.  Throughout the majority of the book, Noelle is struggling with believing in God and is surprised by how Rick places all his trust in God.  Towards the end of the story, Noelle realizes what is preventing her from having a relationship with God and finally is able to overcome her traumatic past, while looking forward to a future with Rick.

I’m glad that I got to read this book and I plan on reading the sequel, The Still of the Night.  Thank you to Bethany House Publishing for sending me this free book to review!  Sara’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Phoenix Suns Pre-Season Game

Continuing on with the exciting trips of Jeremy and Sara… after I came back from Hawaii, I was in southern California working for a week and then I met Jeremy in Palm Springs.  Why Palm Springs?  Because the Phoenix Suns were having their outdoor pre-season game there!  Woo hoo!

This is the 3rd year that the Phoenix Suns have done this outdoor game, and I must say, it was really cool.  The game was held at a tennis garden in Palm Springs, the weather was perfect and it was neat to be watching a NBA basketball game while feeling the outdoor breeze around you.  Of course, Jayla came to Palm Springs with us and we all enjoyed a few days of shopping at the outlet stores (how come I’m always the only person to end up getting something?), eating out and enjoying the game.  It was definitely a fun little weekend trip and best of all…the Suns won!

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I entertained myself by taking pictures before Jayla got there.


The view from our seats.


Steve Nash!!


The Gorilla.

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Hmmm, these pictures look kinda familiar.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Book Review: Digitalis

Remember back in August when I said that I would be occasionally reviewing books?  Well, here is another one and I foresee more in the near future!  This book is #2 in the Discarded Heroes series, by Ronie Kendig.  If you decide to read it, I’d strongly recommend that you read the first book, Nightshade, beforehand, so that you know the background of the characters (plus, because it too was just a great book!).  Now, without further ado…


by Ronie Kendig

Published January 2011

Barbour Publishing, Inc.

320 pages

ISBN: 1602607834


From the Publisher:

Former Marine sniper Colton "Cowboy" Neeley is recovering from a life of bad choices. Piper Blum, daughter of dissident Yakov Rosenblum, is in hiding--from life and the assassins gunning for her family. When she begs Colton to help extract her father from Israel, Colton petitions the group Nightshade to consider the mission. The team agrees, and soon they're deep six--straight into the Holy Land for a snatch-n-grab of Yakov. Will Colton and Piper make the treacherous trek out of hostile territory and into safety with their love--and lives--intact?

My Review:

Wow!  I fell in love with the men of Nightshade in the first book of this series and I was really looking forward to reading about the hunky cowboy's, Colton Neely, story. This book did not disappoint at all. It was everything I thought it would be and more. Action, suspense, drama, romance. I loved, loved, loved it.

In the first book, Colton seems to have everything in control, as he helps Max overcome his anger and PTSD. However, within the first few pages of this book, we learn that Cowboy has struggles of his own that he's keeping locked up inside. He's dealing with the death of his sister, raising his little daughter, being a member of Nightshade, all while having debilitating flashbacks. This book was intense. At times, I found myself a bit shocked at Cowboy's behavior towards the team and to Piper. But I loved how the Nightshade team rallied back and supported Cowboy to no end and how Piper didn't let his actions overshadow their love for each other.

Ronie Kendig has an excellent writing style and as with her other books, I found myself instantly sucked into the story. I love how when reading her books, I feel like I'm actually there either underwater in an ocean dive, in the jungle with the Nightshade team, or hiding in a vacant house in Israel. There is so much action and intensity in her books that before I know it, it is late at night and I'm over 150 pages into the book! Plus, Kendig always has a natural way of incorporating the love of God for her flawed heroes, and of us, within all her books.

I'd highly recommend this book! I cannot wait for the other books in this series and to get to know the other members of Nightshade. I was able to read this book through the wonderful website,  Sara’s Rating: 6 out of 5 stars…yea, it was that good!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Sara Goes to Hawaii

I have so much to blog about, I don’t know where to start!  Oh wait a minute, yes I do.  Did you all see my last post about my super cute shoes that I got from CSN Stores?  CSN Stores has over 200 online stores with items ranging from kitchen bar stools and holiday decorates, to bedding sets and pet products.  Talk about one stop shopping!  I’m lucky enough to be able to work with CSN Stores as a preferred blogger and I’ll be doing another product review very shortly, so keep an eye out.  Also, if you’re looking for a chance to win a gift card from CSN Stores, be sure to check out my other blog. Smile

In other exciting news, I have a tons of pictures that I’ve taken over the past 2 months and now it’s time to blog about the exciting adventures of Jeremy and Sara.  Well actually, this post is just about the exciting adventures of Sara, but you get the idea…

In September, I went to Hawaii.  On business.  Yea, I know what you’re thinking.  “Who goes to Hawaii on business?”  Well, I do now!  In addition to Southern California, I now handle all the student applicants from Hawaii.  Which means I got to go there for a week, work from about 7am – 1pm and have the afternoons to do as I please.  It’s a tough life, I tell ya.  Here are some fun pictures that tell the story of my trip!


I sat on my balcony and watched the Hawaiian sunset for 7 nights.


I visited the Dole Plantation.  Did you know pineapples grow in bushes?  No joke, it’s true!



I climbed Diamond Head and saw the whole city of Honolulu.


I hung out in my upgraded room (for free!), complete with 2 balcony and a kitchen area!


I went to the beach.


I stared out my balcony and viewed the city and ocean.


I went to Pearl Harbor.


And I said, “Mahalo nui loa, Hawaii!  It was a fun trip!”

Sunday, October 24, 2010

CSN Stores – Product Review – Shoes!

As mentioned a few weeks ago, CSN stores gave me the opportunity to review a product from one of there websites…awesome! 

One of their websites is Shoes Got Sole and I decided I wanted to review a new pair of shoes.  When I got to the website, I didn’t know exactly where to start, so I searched for “pink shoes,” does that really surprise you?  I came across some flats by Dr. Sholl’s that were pink, but soon found out that they also came in leopard print.  I don’t own anything leopard and usually I shy away from animal prints…but something about these shoes were calling me.  So, I said, “Why not?!,” and I purchases these Dr. Sholls’ Women’s Graduated Flats.


They are totally cute, right?  I really love these shoes.  They are cute with jeans.  I have plans to wear them with slacks to work.  And they just add a bit of spice to your outfit! :)  I’ve even already thought about buying another pair in a different color.  These lovely shoes are Dr. Sholl’s, which bascially means they are cushioned on the inside and comfortable.  My only complaint is that after wearing them for the day, the part of the shoe that crosses the top of my foot was hurting me a bit; however, I think that will go away once the shoe is broken-in a bit more. 


Side view.


Top angle.


My view.


So stylish!

I’m so thankful that CSN Stores gave me the opportunity to do this product review!  I definitely picked another winner.  If you’re looking for new shoes, or even patio furniture or pet items, be sure to check out the CSN Stores website!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Yard Work – Round 5

Hi friends!  Exciting news is in store for this post: our backyard is about 95% complete now. We just have to add the plants and we’ll be all done.  Maybe we can find some neat things from CSN Stores to go in the backyard, or even in the house.  As you know, they have everything from fountains and outdoor furniture, to console tables and cookware.  All stop shopping is what I call that!  CSN Stores has given me another opportunity to review a product, so keep an eye out soon for a product review.  What will I pick this time… :)

Can you believe that it’s September 30th already?  You know that song by Green Day called “Wake Me Up, When September Ends?”  Well, I feel like I should be singing “Keep My Eyes From Missing Anything as September Goes Flying By!”  Anyway, I’ve started my travel season for work this month, so that is what’s causing me to neglect this blog.  But on top more important things…

Grass!  Glorious, glorious grass!  Well, glorious, glorious, fake grass…but it’s still grass.  And we have it!  In our backyard.  For real.  Check out the pics.


Taking a break.


Diesel wasn’t quite sure what to make of this grass…IMG_2414 IMG_2415IMG_2413 

He wouldn’t even put his butt down on it…


But eventually, we convinced him…


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And he loves it!

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Plus, we love it too!