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Monday, June 30, 2014

Review: Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe, Illustrated by N.C. Wyeth, YR, 2003, Abridged picture book edition, 53p, My Rating=4
Source: library

Robinson Crusoe, once a brave sailor out to seek his fortune, is now a captive -- a captive of a lonely desert island on which he is marooned. With only his wits and the few supplies he is able to carry from his sinking ship to sustain him, he is forced to create a new life for himself, out of virtually nothing. As the years go by, Crusoe slowly becomes accustomed to a life of solitude. He has only Pol -- the parrot he has tamed -- a few cats, and some wild goats to keep him company and gradually, his island becomes more of a paradise than a prison. But this tranquility is unexpectedly shattered when one day, he sees a footprint...soon to be followed by a group of savages who have invaded his island. Crusoe finds himself fiercely defending an island that has become his own, and fighting for the chance to return home.

Carefully abridged for younger readers, this second addition to the Scribner Storybook Classic line, with striking illustrations by N. C. Wyeth, revitalizes Daniel Defoe's acclaimed tale of survival, self-reliance, adventure, and faith.

This is an abridgment edition geared to young readers. An over sized picture book of 53 pages with full page texts so it wouldn't be a one night bedtime story, unless you have an hour and half to spare.

I haven't read the full version so I haven't a clue what was left off but I certainly enjoyed this short form. I feel content that I have a solid feel for the author's writing which was very calming to the eye. I especially liked the accounts of Robinson Crusoe's growing spiritual faith. I marveled at his resourcefulness and tenacity. I certainly wouldn't have survive 28 years!

The illustrator did a great job with the pictorial depictions as well. The paintings were mood revealing and added visual depth.

Overall, I think it's a sound introduction to the classic book.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Review: Counting Candles by Dustin W. Bradshaw

Counting Candles: the extraordinary impact of one ordinary life by Dustin W. Bradshaw, AF, 2014, Softcover, 231p, My Rating=5
Source: provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

James leaned slightly against the double door to steady himself. Troy really was a success. He was everything that James wasn’t. Everything that James wished he could be. “What’s wrong with me?” he asked.
James Smith is an ordinary man, with an ordinary name, leading a very ordinary life.
Little does he know his seemingly insignificant acts of kindness—from saying hello to the doorman every day to leaving a generous tip for a waitress—make a difference. All James can see is others’ successes compared to his failings as a husband, father, and friend. So when his wife decides to throw him a birthday party, James has no idea that one special gift is going to change his perspective—and his life.
Counting Candles invites us all to take a step back and gain a unique perspective on the value of our lives.

I absolutely love the plot of this novel.  It's my kind of book, one that hints a tug at the heartstrings of humanity and sure enough it did.  How could it not?  I certainly felt just as run-of-the-mill as James did that it ached me to read his thoughts.  They were my thoughts as well!  But as I continued to read, I found comfort that there was something amazing that would happen to his seemingly ordinary life and so perhaps my mundane can turn out that way too.  And so that is the appeal of this book; you and me can be remarkable!  Our humdrum kindness is someone's rescue.

James's outlook on turning forty years old was one of not being as accomplished as his good friend Troy but James forgot that genuine kindness goes a long way.  It was natural for James to call on Troy's misguided ways, to take time to chit chat with the doorman, to sense a troubled waitress or sister, to uplift a boy, to hand his ornery elderly neighbor his newspaper every morning, to find solution to save others from being laid off, or to show chivalry.  James didn't realize that his compassionate nature made an impact on people.  His gentle gestures moved mountains.  What an awesome message I got from this book!

The way this story was told, there was no surprise to the reader of what was coming to James.  I was getting the behind the scene first hand look from the people that James touched and it was truly heartwarming to read the influence that he made on their lives.  This added depth to the story and made for easy turning of the pages.  By book's end, my heart was full.

About the Author

Being raised in a small farming community, Dustin Bradshaw thrives on adventure and challenge. He lives by the theme, “If you want to accomplish something, do it!” It was with this attitude that he penned his first book in third grade and, as a senior in high school, entered and won a literary scholarship that he was told no male has ever won. This same adventurous nature has helped Bradshaw achieve many of his life’s goals, including forming that country boy into a accomplished leader. He is now a Foreign Service Officer for the United States Department of State. He and his wife, Lady Hiva, are now posted in Manila, Philippines and will soon be posted to Istanbul, Turkey.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Midsummer's Eve Giveaway Hop: 2 Ebooks to 1 Winner!

Hosted by I Am A Reader

Welcome to this giveaway hop!  In this stop, I am giving away an ebook copy of All the Finer Things by Stephanie Worlton and Working it Out by Rachel Anderson.  2 ebooks to 1 winner!

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code. Winning entries will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you.

To enter, fill out the rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Check it out, more giveaways on list below. Good luck!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Book Blast w/ Excerpt and $50 Giveaway: Blackwood Crossing by MK McClintock

Blackwood CrossingBlackwood Crossing

If you had to make a choice, would it be loyalty or love?
Torn between loyalty to her family and refusal to marry a laird she despises, Rhona Davidson accepts a dangerous proposal from a man she knows only as Blackwood.
Leaving behind a life of leisure, Charles Blackwood bravely serves his country with honor and the skill of a trained British agent. When his newest case returns him to the wild Highlands of Scotland, he is faced with a choice between killing a man and saving the only woman he has ever loved.
Charles and Rhona join their lives, only to discover that their choices will result in bloodshed, unless they can uncover a truth long buried, deep in the Highland soil.

Praise for Blackwood Crossing

"MK McClintock has spun an enchanting tale deeply entrenched in the lands of Scotland and England that will leave you riveted to your chair until you turn the last page."
- Donna McBroom-Theriot,

“This is a wonderful book with suspense to keep me on the edge of my seat and surprises to keep me guessing . . . a feisty heroine and a strong, gentle hero . . . My poetic soul is fed by the beautiful descriptions of nature.” – Verna Mitchell, author of Somewhere Beyond the Blue

“Ms. McClintock has written another whirlwind romance set in a historical world. I loved returning to a world with such a mesmerizing atmosphere, and I am more than eager to read Devon's romantic story in the next British Agent Novel.” – R. Harness, Amazon reviewer

“Her writing is always top notch . . . In BLACKWOOD CROSSING, her storytelling flows with a clear plot and strong characters.” – L. Townsend, Amazon reviewer


Charles held the silver watch in his palm, watching the seconds and minutes pass. Devon would arrive to relieve him in half an hour. Until then, his thoughts would continue to be plagued with images of Rhona in the room behind him. If she had met him, Charles Blackwood, Viscount and British agent, and not Charles Pearce, the common man who saved her life a little more than two years ago, would they have found a way to stay together?
Keeping their identities secret was one of the reasons why both he and Tristan had quit the agency. Had the last assignment, which pulled them back into service, been for anyone other than a friend, they would have remained retired or at least tried to. That matter was easily solved, but then another case arose, and then another, until they found themselves once again at the top of the agency’s assignment list. They had managed for nearly two years to avoid accepting assignments, and Charles appreciated that Tristan was here for him.
He also knew there wouldn’t be another woman in his lifetime, and he was prepared to make his life a solitary one, but he never imagined escorting the only woman he had ever loved to another man. Charles recalled Rhona promising him that one day he would regret his choice to leave her behind.
“My father will never let me marry a commoner, but I will run away with you.” Rhona pressed her gloved hand against Charles’s face.
Charles turned his face inward and kissed her palm. “Nothing would please me more, but I can’t stay.”
Rhona pulled away. “I don’t understand.”
Charles ignored the heavy ache in his chest. “As you said, I’m a commoner, and England is home. It’s where my work is.”
“Then work here.”
“Too many are leaving Scotland. You know it’s not possible.”
Rhona stood from the bench they’d been sharing inside the walled garden, now left dormant with the heart of winter settling in. “It would be possible if it’s what you truly wanted.”
“Rhona, it’s not a simple thing for me to stay.”
“When do you leave?”
Charles stood beside her and reached out, but she backed away. His hand dropped to his side. “I have to leave in the morning.”
“One day, Charles, you will regret this choice.” Rhona walked quickly, frost and leaves crunching under each step as she moved farther away.
“I already do.” Charles’s whisper was carried away with the wind.

MK McClintockAuthor MK McClintock

MK McClintock is an author, entrepreneur, and photographer. She enjoys spending hours walking along rivers or over mountains, loves the Scottish Highlands, and likes to put her creative energy to use in the kitchen. She dreams of a time when life was simpler, the land rougher, and the journey more rewarding. With her heart deeply rooted in the past and her mind always on adventure, McClintock lives and writes in Montana.

book blast button

Blast Giveaway

$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 6/30/14

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

There’s also another giveaway taking place on Goodreads. Blackwood Crossing Goodreads Giveaway

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Top Ten Books I've Read So Far This Year

This week's topic:  Top Ten Books I've Read So Far This Year

Here's my top ten in no particular order (click image for Amazon profile):

Click title to read my review (rated each 5 stars):
1.   Does This Insecurity Make Me Look Fat? -- brought me to tears
2.   Savor -- this author can write!
3.   The Faerie War -- excellent ending to this trilogy
4.   Death's Academy -- a surprise winner!
5.   Luminescense -- great end to this middle school book series
6.   The Sacrament --wonderful picture book
7.   7-day Christian -- inspiring
8.   Memories of Me -- fantastic comprehensive resource book
9.   Diaries of Two Mad Black Mormons --incredibly hilarious and spiritual to boot; my #1 recommendation of the year
10. The Quantum Breach -- clean and informative thriller

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Review: Memories of Me by Laura Hedgecock

Memories of Me: A Complete Guide to Telling and Sharing the Stories of Your Life by Laura Hedgecock, NF, 2014, Paperback, 235p, My Rating=5
Source: provided by publicist in exchange for an honest review

We all have stories to share with our children and grandchildren. Whether it’s a proud moment, memories of grandparents, or a lesson you’ve learned, Memories of Me: A Complete Guide to Telling and Sharing the Stories of Your Life helps you put the episodes of your past onto paper share them with loved ones.
Inside you'll find
- Simple, down-to-earth instructions to get you started
- Worksheets with in-depth brainstorming exercises
- Plenty of examples to spark your creativity
- Writing advice to make your memories shine
Preserve your stories and share them with the important people in your life using the tips and advice found in this comprehensive guide.

In the introduction, the author hopes that the reader does not read this book all at once but to put it down often, experimenting as you go. Unfortunately, I started to read this book only a couple of days before my scheduled review so I didn’t have the luxury of time to stop often. I believe that hurt my experience with the read because I found myself skimming through the worksheets. Not actually taking the time to “work” on it. Therefore, I lost the experience of gaining the full beauty of the tutorial. That aside, this guide book was truly comprehensive. It broke down a myriad of potential writing scenarios and walked you through them. In each section, the author stated a topic, described it, illustrated its importance and effectiveness, provided you with questionnaire worksheet, and concluded with “My Turn” moments where she wrote a personal example of what that portion of discussion might look like. What’s even more remarkable was that throughout the read, I felt the sincerity and care in her words to help me, the reader, be successful in accomplishing that certain objective. It felt as if she was behind me whispering encouragements. That’s a mark of an exceptional non-fiction writer because too much concentration on facts leads to a boring read. This was far from boring but rather quite a helpful tool in aiding me see the beauty of capturing my own “treasure chest of memories”. She helped me see that although I have a blog, a journal, and take pictures, there are many cues that I never thought of that I can utilize to enhance my treasures. Many memories worth preserving and she put it all in the book for me to contemplate on. Sweet!

My ultimate take out from this book was the support and confidence to keep writing. Continue to write and write and write because practically everything I write gives my reader a fuller picture of who I am which in turns gives me a tangible mark in this world and later a “treasure chest of memories” for my posterity to enjoy.  Thank you, Ms Hedgecock for this great counsel. 

About the Author

Laura Hedgecock was born in South Carolina but came to live in Michigan by way of Chicago and Germany. Leaving her career in International Business to be a stay-at-home mom and her association with non-profits led her to helping other tell their stories. Treasure Chest of Memories: How to Capture and Share the Stories of Your Life results from the intersection of Ms. Hedgecock’s experience in genealogy, photography, and scrapbooking, as well as her journey of compiling her own memories. She blogs about preserving and sharing memories at

Review Coming ...

Review of Memories of Me: A Complete Guide to Telling and Sharing the Stories of Your Life by Laura Hedgecock will be coming later this evening so please come back then.  I will tell you now though that it's a fantastic resource book full of helpful worksheets. 

Now off I go to say farewell to my brother who's off to the Philippines and celebrate 3 family birthdays and 2 graduations.  Full day.  See you later!

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