An Inspirational Romance? ~ Review and Giveaway

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 10.29.17 AMWhen I was about eleven years old, a lady in the neighbour invited me over after school to pick up some novels for my mother. She said that they’d soon be good for me. As an avid reader I pulled the books out as soon as I got home and saw that they were romance novels. Ew, romance. After my Mum died, I pull these books out a few times in an attempt to read them, but I never made it through a full book. They seemed a bit cheesy. The love scenes seemed forced or out of place. They just weren’t my cup of tea.

I have to say that when I was given the opportunity to review a series of three inspirational romances I was a bit intrigued. The fact that the romance novels also promised to be a good mystery was also a plus – mysteries I do like. I gladly took up the offer and received the first three books in the Texas K-9 series just as the whole family came down with the flu. I managed to pull mattresses into the living room for all of us and we spent three days in a fevered, achy state. We did not move than we absolutely had to. I was so glad to have these e-books available to read at the times when I was well enough to focus, but too sick to do anything else. I devoured the books in about five days.

The series follows the members of a K-9 unit as they first look for missing boy, but then realize that there are much more widespread issues in their town. Each novel has a self contained story, but the crime ring arc spreads through each novel and you learn more and more as each story progresses. The story was based on caring relationships and not just spur of the moment “I’m hot for you” story lines – that was much appreciated. The books were kept clean with handholding and later the occasional kiss being the extent of the romance. No bedroom scenes here. The designation of an inspirational romance comes for the occasional mention of God or someone reading a bible, though I would have liked to see more depth to that.

I think these books were good, light reading for when I wasn’t feeling well. I was anxious to get through each book for the mystery/crime ring focus. I enjoyed the fact that the books were centred around the K-9 unit as I know how strong a bond can be with one’s dog and that shone through the stories. I feel that there could have been a bit more development of the characters as I would have liked to know more about them and their past and maybe a little bit of a deeper exploration of their faith, however, these were fine books and I very much want to read the last three in the series to find out how everything ends. Here’s a little bit more from the publisher.

Texas K-9 Unit Series Books 1-3: Tracking Justice\Detection Mission\Guard Duty (Available at Amazon)

Love Inspired Suspense authors Shirlee McCoy, Margaret Daley and Sharon Dunn will get your pulse racing with tales of Texas cops and their loyal K-9 dogs tracking down a crime ring. Enjoy three action-packed Texas K-9 Unit romantic suspense novels in one box set! When a boy goes missing from his bedroom, a police detective must assure a desperate single mother that he and his trusty bloodhound will find her son. A woman with amnesia has to rely on an officer and his border collie to stay alive when she can’t remember who tried to kill her. An FBI agent is called in to protect a single mother when the rookie K-9 officer witnesses a murder and becomes the killer’s target.

 
About the authors:
Shirlee McCoy

Shirlee McCoy has always loved making up stories. As a child she daydreamed elaborate tales in which she was the heroine — gutsy, strong and invincible. Though she soon grew out of her superhero fantasies, her love for storytelling never diminished. Shirlee knew early that she wanted to write inspirational fiction and began writing her first novel when she was a teenager. Still, it wasn’t until her third son was born that she truly began pursuing her dream of being published. Three years later she sold her first book. Now a busy mother of four, Shirlee is a homeschool mom by day and an inspirational author by night. She and her husband and children live in Maryland and share their home with a dog and a guinea pig.

Margaret Daley

Margaret has been writing for over 35 years. She started writing in the late 1970s because she wanted to see if she could put a whole story down on paper. That book is still in the drawer and will never see the light of day. But she was able to finish a book, which was her goal. She loved teaching and working with students with special needs, and recently retired from teaching to write full-time. When she isn’t working, she loves to read, travel, and go to lunch and a movie with a friend. She and her husband, Mike, to whom she has been married for over 40 years live in Tulsa. Besides teaching and writing, she is also a mother of one. Her son, Shaun, is married with four daughters.

Sharon Dunn

Sharon Dunn first fell in love with mystery and suspense about the time she read Nancy Drew mysteries in the fifth grade. Her first book in the Ruby Taylor mysteries Romance Rustlers and Thunderbird Thieves was a finalist for the Romantic Times Inspirational Book of the Year. The second book in that series Sassy Cinderella and the Valiant Vigilante was voted Book of the Year by American Christian Fiction Writers. Her hobbies include reading, working out, hiking, trying to find things around the house and making pets out of the dust bunnies under the furniture. Before she started writing, she used to sew. Now she just collects fabric and patterns and fantasizes about projects. After nearly twenty seven years of marriage, Sharon lost her beloved husband in 2014. She lives with her three nearly grown children, two cats and a nervous border collie named Bart.

Check out the Facebook Page!

I will be giving away a copy of the next book in the series, Protection Detail, to one lucky winner. Just leave me a comment and let me know what your favourite dog is and I will enter your name into a draw for the book on March 23rd, 2015. Remember, each book can stand alone, so you don’t have to have read the other books to appreciate this one. However, I do recommend them!

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

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Friday’s Fave Five ~ February 21st, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-02-21 at 5.02.08 PMIt’s been a long winter, so I figured it was time to share some blessings this week. I’m linking up to one of my favourite bloghops this weeek and I hope you will join me at Living to Tell the Story to share 5 of your favourite moments of the week.

1. Wonderful neighbours. I count this as a blessing every day. This week our lovely neighbour took the kids out to build snowmen when I was feeling under the weather. They all had a blast, the neighbour included. Her husband has also come a few times in the past week to plough out our driveway. So nice to have people care (and people that we can care about and for too). I’m loving the back and forth of the relationship. It makes our two little houses in the middle of nowhere seem like a community.

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I absolutely adore the reindeer snowman dude with glasses.

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The kid is pretty cute, too.

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Liam, who finds is hard to be serious for too long. The snowman matches his personality perfectly. Screen Shot 2014-02-20 at 2.29.47 PM

Morgaine obviously had to make a gorgeous lady snow person. She and the neighbour worked hard on this lovely lady. 

2. Things moving ahead smoothly with Mike’s new employment at the CIBC. The drive is long (and expensive), but the people he works with are nice and pretty much all the paper work is out of the way for the benefits and whatnot that come with a bank job. It will be so good to have medical and dental insurance again!

3. Having a mini date with Mike and the little one while the kids were at a library program. Sure, we did groceries at Costco, but it gives me hope for the future if we end up again to move to Moncton. It was nice to see programming for the children (though I was surprised that there were not more kids). Liam and Morgaine were thrilled as they so rarely get to see anyone since we’ve moved. It was also fun to look at the bulletin boards and see a list of all the various groups and events around Moncton. It would be nice if we could make our way down there in the next 2 or 3 years.

Screen Shot 2014-02-21 at 5.39.11 PMThis book for thing 4 and 5 – The Procrastinating Child by Rita Emmett. The book is pretty basic, but at the same time it has given me a kick in the boots to….

4. ….Get my own procrastination under control by working with my children. Several times time week I have given the children a goal at the same time as I give myself one and when we are done we do something together. I don’t do near enough one on one things with my children and I think that they are liking that as a reward for getting stuff done and I am liking that it is motivating me to get my work done as well. I think it helps the kids to see that I have goals, too, since I don’t usually mention them (“Hey, it’s not just me getting sent off to do work unfairly, she’s doing stuff, too!”)

5. …..really look at the role fear has in my life.  I read the chapter on procrastinating out of fear today and it really shone a light on how much fear there has always been in my life and how it pretty much controls me all the time. I won’t talk to people….they might reject me. I won’t start a project…I probably won’t finish (failure). I won’t advertise my business….people might want me services and what if I’m not good enough (success mixed with what if I can’t do it). I won’t say what’s on my mind….people might think I’m stupid. I won’t make a decision….I might make the wrong one. This has been me since probably as long as I’ve been alive. The struggle is something that I live with every single day and while I’ve made progress the fact that every fear that the author listed is something I still deal with regularly is startling and I want to start working on changing that. So yeah, I’m thankful for this one even if it means some work!

Reading Eggs ~ Review and Read-a-Thon

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I am pleased to have the opportunity today to introduce you to an online virtual world aimed at helping your child learn to read. Reading Eggs and Reading Eggspress have been developed as a fun and interactive way to teach reading skills to your 3-12 year olds. There is also a math section called Mathseeds to explore.

When we first got the program I signed up my eight year old daughter. She has only been reading fluently for about a year and anything that makes reading more exciting for her is always good as she can be somewhat of a reluctant reader. She very much enjoyed the stories that were presented to her in the Reading Express program and I was glad to see her enjoying some non fiction books as well.

She enjoyed exploring her Floating Island and visiting the following areas:

  • The library – Offering books on a variety of topics, from science to animals, myths, art, and fantasy just like a regular library. Books can be filtered by age and each book ends with a comprehension quiz. Your child will be rewarded golden eggs and a trading card for each book that they complete.
  • The Comprehension Gym – Where your child can play daily games, read books and complete activities to test their comprehension (I even had fun with some of these games!)
  • The Studium – Your child can play against other players (or the computer) in challenges that test spelling, grammar, vocab and freestyle usage.
  • The Mall and Appartment – Where you can spend your golden eggs to buy clothes, pets, apartment items and more.

My daughter, who is not competitive, spent most of her time reading books and doing the quizzes in the library and then using her eggs to buy pets for her apartment. She also really enjoyed collecting the trading cards that you are given when you read a book. She did spend some time at the comprehension gym, but found the stadium to be a little bit above her reading ability so she only played with others a few times over the course of the review period.

Overall, she really enjoyed Reading Express and has been bugging me to buy her a year long membership, which we are considering, but would want her to spend more time in The Gym and Stadium as they have a lot to offer as well.

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Because my daughter enjoyed Reading Eggspress so much, I decided that I would activate a Reading Eggs account for my three and a half year old son, Ruadhan. Reading Eggs is the beginner’s program and as my son has no reading experience we started him off at the very beginning without taking the placement quiz (my daughter took the quiz for fun and it placed her pretty accordingly to her skill level, so if you have a reader already then this is a good step). I was excited to see what Ruadhan would think about a reading program of his very own.

Screen Shot 2014-02-04 at 9.21.40 AMWe choose to use Reading Eggs on the iPad (it is also available on Android) as my son is most familiar with that platform. Quickly and easily, Ruadhan was off on an adventure with Sam the Ant. On his first day, he learned about the letter sounds of “m” and “s” and was able to complete the leaning activities with limited help from his older sister. I personally loved it as I have a love hate relationship with electronics and if my little one’s are using it then I want them to be getting something out of it. It warmed my heart to see my two younger kids working together on this program. I asked my son today what he thought of this program and he said, “Well, I kinda liked it.” He did not seem too thrilled when I asked him if he wanted to play on it some more. I do think that he would come and join me rather quickly were I to put it on and start to use it myself. He is likely a little bit on the younger age for this program and we do not push academics on our little kids, so it likely isn’t something that we will be trying to encourage him to use regularly, but I do feel that for families that want their little ones to learn to read at an early age that this is a wonderful app.

You can purchase Reading Eggs (including Reading Eggspress and Mathseeds) for 49.95$US for a 6 month subscription or 69$US for a year long subscription. I invite you to check it out and get your own 5 week free Trial by following this link. We have been very happy over all with what we have seen.

There is more good news!

The Reading Eggs Read-To-Cure Challenge

From February 3 to March 7 your child can join thousands of children across the United State taking part in the Reading Eggs Read-To-Cure Challenge – an effort to inspire children to read while raising funds for The National Children’s Cancer Society (NCCS).

All money raised will help provide financial, emotional, and educational support for children and families battling childhood cancer. Learn more here.

All you have to do is sign up for a 5 week FREE trial of Reading Eggs and encourage your child to read as many books and complete as many lessons as they can. Friends and family can sponsor your child’s efforts and money raised will go to the NCCS. You child will be set up with their own personal sponsorship page on the Reading Eggs website.

In addition to encouraging your child to read and support a worthy cause, there are prizes up for grabs for the 3 children who read the most books and raise the most money.

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*NCCS will earn a minimum of $25,000 from Reading Eggs plus 100% of the donations collected by RTCC participants

I invite you to find out more at the Reading Eggs Website. You can also check out other reviews at Home and School Mosaics.

Finding Grace

I’ve been living in fear.

Fear that my body is falling apart and we’ll never find out why.

Fear that I’ve failed my children.

Fear that my children will never be able to function in society because I’ve somehow managed to mess them up.

Fear that neither my partner nor I are getting what we need from our marriage.

Fear that I’ve done nothing in my life.

Fear that no matter how hard I try – and wish – nothing will ever change.

Fear that this is all there is, and then, one day, I’ll just die and that will be all.

Fear that there is no purpose at all to this thing called life.

Fear is exhausting. It is overwhelming. It is consuming. It is eating me from the inside out and leave big voids, empty spaces, nothingness.

~~~~~~

A dear friend of mine sensed this – she knew.

She sent me a gift.

A gift – for me. For healing.

One that I’ve longed for, that I’ve felt drawn towards, that I’ve wanted to hold on my lap, but could never justify buying for myself.

A book. A simple book. But a profound, and life changing book. I haven’t read it all. I’m going slow, and taking it in, but I can feel the promise of something more.

I’ve done it all before. Oprah’s gratitude lists. Friday Fave Fives. Journaling the highights of my day. I’ve even tried to blog my 1000 gifts, a la Ann Voskamp But it has fallen flat. No real meaning behind it. I was doing it just because. Sure, I was thankful, but it didn’t go deeper than that. However, Monday afternoon, I found the book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp sitting on my lap.

There it was – real, emotional, honest.

That word, grace. The state that alludes me. I’ve spend time lately talking with women about grace. Women that are going through experiences that I can only imagine. They are doing so with grace and strength and purpose. Yet, I struggle and scream and cry for them – and for myself. How do I find grace?

I do not have the eloquent language to describe what I’ve been taught by this book so far but needless to say, I was going about my lists all wrong. Being thankful goes so much deeper than writing a few things from time to time when your feeling good about things. It’s about being thankful in spite of the challenges – because of the challenges. It’s about living thankfulness. Not being thankful, and then forgetting about it and going on about the day feeling resentful and tired and angry and defeated. In the hardest moments, we are given moments of light – blessings – if we are open to seeing them.

I will be open to seeing them. I will keep learning. I will be okay to be, right where I am, happy and complete. It won’t happen today, but with practice and prayer and time, I’ll be able to live more and more of the life that I want to live, being thankful for the moments I am given and accepting whatever comes my way. This is how I, too, will find grace.

 

Where She Went ~ A Blogher Book Club Review

I’ll admit that I wasn’t particularly interested in reading Where She Went by Gayle Forman. The book is a sequel to her bestseller, If I Stay, and seeing as I hadn’t read that book I didn’t feel that I’d know the characters as well as I should going into Where She Went. I’ll admit that for the first few chapters I felt like I was reading a book geared towards young adults/teens and I had a hard time feeling it. However, when the main character, Adam, meets his lost love, Mia, by chance and they go on a whirlwind tour of New York in one night I was hooked. I’m a sucker for life changing in a moment stories and there was certainly enough flashbacks and memories to make this book a suitable stand alone novel for those that haven’t read the first (though, I intend to look for If I Stay at my local library). I really felt for Adam as he struggles though the novel and I desperately wanted things to work out for him, for him to get what he needed. He’s messed up and I wanted it better for him. I won’t tell you how it ends but will say that once I started I HAD to read this book in it’s entirety. I highly recomend it and would love for you to check it out for yourself and for you to check out this month discussions on the Blogher Book Club as well.