Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Drop Box (A Movie Review)


I went tonight with some girls in my small group to see a movie called The Drop Box. I immediately came home and emailed a ton of people to tell them they just HAD to go see this incredible movie. And if it's good enough to share with my contact list, it's surely good enough for me to post about over here, isn't it?!

The Drop Box is only in theaters March 3-5, which means that THURSDAY (either tomorrow or today, depending on when you're reading this) is the last day you'll be able to see it. Please, please, please do not miss this movie!

About the Movie
The Drop Box tells the story of South Korean pastor Lee Jong-rak and his heroic efforts to embrace and protect the most vulnerable members of society. It is a heart-wrenching exploration of the physical, emotional and financial toll associated with providing refuge to orphans that would otherwise be abandoned on the streets. But The Drop Box movie is also a story of hope—a reminder that every human life is sacred and worthy of love.

South Korea is not the only country grappling with the issue of orphan care. Around the world, there are more than 150 million orphans waiting for forever families to call their own.

An award-winning feature-length documentary, The Drop Box will be released as a theater event across the nation for three nights only on March 3, 4, and 5, 2015. Audiences will learn of Pastor Lee’s story, how he one day came upon a newborn who has been abandoned on a cold night in a Seoul alley. That experience prompts him to build a “baby box” at the front of his church—a warm, safe place where desperate mothers can leave babies that would otherwise be abandoned. Many of the babies who are left in Pastor Lee’s baby box have developmental or physical impediments.

After the movie screening, audiences will watch a group discussion featuring the film’s director Brian Ivie; musician Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife, Mary Beth; and Focus on the Family President Jim Daly addressing issues related to adoption, orphan care, and the sanctity of human life. A portion of the film’s proceeds goes to support the ministry of Pastor Lee.

The Drop Box is being released by Pine Creek Entertainment in association with Focus on the Family and Kindred Image.

Official Movie Site  |  Find a Theater Near You

My Thoughts
The Drop Box is a documentary about a pastor in South Korea who has installed a "drop box" where people can leave their babies instead of abandoning them on the streets, where they are likely to die before they are found. I was heartbroken to hear stories of men and women who can't take care of babies born with severe disabilities. Young girls are especially vulnerable around the world, and the intense shame they feel upon learning they are pregnant often leads to suicidal thoughts. God gave Pastor Lee a vision for giving people a safe place to give up their children. No, it's not a perfect solution, not even close! But God is using Pastor Lee, his "drop box," the church in South Korea, and a host of volunteers to save the lives of hundreds of babies.

After volunteering in an orphanage for several months following my college graduation, anything about orphan care is understandably near and dear to my heart. However, my enthusiasm for the movie is about much more than a passion for the subject. The movie was incredibly well made, and  the message was powerful. It's a hopeful story about a family's complete dependence on God to care for whoever comes across their path. The overarching theme of the movie is the truth that every life is valuable. 

I watched the entire movie with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. If you don't have plans tomorrow evening (Thursday, March 5), please go see this movie! [5+ stars]


Blog Tour Launch | The Bluebird Bet

A themed tour through Prism Book Tours.

We're Launching the BOOK TOUR for
The Bluebird Bet
By Cheryl Harper

A sweet romance from Harlequin Heartwarming 
about two people on opposite sides of what to do with the Bluebird Bed-and-Breakfast.


More about The Bluebird Bet and Author Cheryl Harper

1. What is your motivation behind this book? Why did you want to write it? 
After I created the town of Tall Pines for A Minute on the Lips, I wasn't quite ready to leave it behind. This theme about coming home and finding the home and family you were meant for is one I like to work with. Other things I like: a strong, ambitious heroine, a brave hero, fun and funny secondary characters, and a chance to catch up with the hero and heroine of the first book. Add to that the chance to imagine the perfect spot for a bed-and-breakfast on a beautiful lake, and I enjoyed this story a lot.

2. What do you hope readers take with them when they read your book? 
I always want to give readers a chance to laugh along with my characters and to have a happy smile after they finish the story.

3. Do you have a favorite scene? 
There are a few I really enjoyed: the first renovation scene where Elaine has to be saved by the grumpy hero, their jogging session that turned into a race, and when Elaine fails miserably at learning to knit, I could sympathize wholeheartedly.

4. Share something about you that is unique - maybe about how/where you write... or favorite snack foods? 
Oh, man, my best writing is powered by Cheetos. ALL my writing depends on Diet Coke. Lots and lots of Diet Coke!

And I love small towns. Are you a city, town, or suburbs kind of person?

Excerpt

"How about a real bet?" His father paused. "I'll hit the road. You'll both have time to make plans, figure out the money and talk to the bank. I'll listen to both proposals and decide based on what's best for the Bluebird. A month? How's that?"

Elaine looked as if she was about to argue. He could almost see the dueling urges on her face. She wanted the Bluebird, but she needed to do the right thing. He waited to see which would win.

And he braced himself when she stepped up next to him.

"It's a bet." She held out her hand.

"I love a challenge," Dean said as he gripped her hand, surprised again at the warmth that spread from her to him. "This could be what I was looking for."

"I guess we'll see." The smile was back. A simple curve of her lips that gave her eyes a sparkle. The way Dean's world shifted in that second worried him. He'd started the game. He had no choice but to win.

Unless the Bluebird worked its magic, he was lost.

The Bluebird Bet (Welcome to Tall Pines # 2)The Bluebird Bet
(Welcome to Tall Pines #2)
Cheryl Harper
Adult Contemporary Romance
March 1st 2015 by Harlequin Heartwarming


Winning isn't everything...

To other people Dr. Elaine Watson never loses. Period. So she won't miss out on a chance to restore the Bluebird Bed-and-Breakfast. The owner's son, Dean Collins, seems just as determined as she is. A famous photojournalist, he hasn't been home in years, so why does he want to turn the Bluebird, a charming old B and B, into a fishing camp?

With just a few weeks to create the winning plan, Elaine has no choice but to spend time with the guy. She's drawn to the handsome, wounded man, but being with Dean would mean giving up the future she's been dreaming of... And Dr. Elaine Watson never gives up.

Amazon - Barnes & Noble - Harlequin


Cheryl Harper discovered her love for books and words as a little girl, thanks to a mother who made countless library trips and an introduction to Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House stories. Cheryl enjoys strong characters that make her laugh. Now she spends her days searching for the right words while she stares out the window and her dog snoozes beside her.



Tour-Wide Giveaway

- $25 Amazon gift card (open internationally)
- Signed print copies of A Minute on the Lips & The Bluebird Bet (US only)
- 5 ebooks of The Bluebird Bet (to be gifted through Amazon or B&N)
Ends March 24th

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Prism Book Tours

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

One Perfect Year by Melinda Curtis (Review, Blog Tour & Giveaway)

A themed tour through Prism Book Tours.

One Perfect Year (A Harmony Valley Novel)One Perfect Year
(Harmony Valley #4)
Melinda Curtis
Adult Contemporary Romance
Paperback, 380 pages
March 1st 2015 by Harlequin Heartwarming


He's coming up on her blind side

How can Shelby Hawkley forgive Gage Jamero for bailing on her when she needed him most? He and her husband, Nick, were the best part of her life. Now her former best friend is back, shaking up the widowed wine harvester's world. The safest bet is to protect herself. Except Gage is awakening feelings that are decidedly unfriend-like.

Shelby is the woman Gage has secretly loved since high school. Starting over—together—could be the best dream he's ever had. If only he can find the courage to say what he should have said all those years ago.

Amazon - Barnes & Noble - iTunes - Kobo - Google PlayHarlequin

My Thoughts
Oh what a fun book! I enjoy books where characters already know each other. I’ve found that it can move the story along a little quicker while still allowing for plenty of tension. Melinda Curtis did a great job using Gage and Shelby’s friendship from years ago to create a lot of believable drama in One Perfect Year.

And then there’s Gage and Shelby. They were both likable characters from the very beginning, but both had a lot of baggage and some really strong fears that were driving their actions. However, I think I most enjoyed their sarcasm and “bickering.” Even in the midst of an argument or a tense moment, they were able to bounce back to their familiar friendship and keep moving forward in their relationship. My tiniest “complaint” is how quickly the story wrapped up. It worked, but I wanted a little more.

The town provides a large cast of characters, and, as with any small town setting, there are a lot of eccentricities and big personalities. I loved it! Doc and Mae definitely were favorites—though there were poignant moments within both story arcs that had me thinking about my own grandparents.

Melinda Curtis is a new-to-me author, but I will definitely be searching out more of her wonderful stories! Don’t miss One Perfect Year! [4.5 stars]

Note: Most of the books I read and review are Christian fiction. While this book is written for the general market, it is a clean book.

I received a free copy of this book from the author through Prism Book Tours in exchange for my fair and honest review.


About the Author
Award winning, USA Today bestseller Melinda Curtis writes the Harmony Valley series of sweet and emotional romances for Harlequin Heartwarming, and the indie pubbed Bridesmaid series. Brenda Novak says: "Season of Change has found a place on my keeper shelf." Melinda also writes independently published, hotter romances as Mel Curtis. Jayne Ann Krentz says of Blue Rules: "Sharp, sassy, modern version of a screwball comedy from Hollywood's Golden Age except a lot hotter."

Giveaway (ends March 15)
Grand Prize: An Autographed Set of the first 3 Harmony Valley Books (Dandelion Wishes, Summer Kisses, and Season of Change) (US only or ebooks to an international)

Additional Prizes:
  • Happy Bee Day Mug with candy and Sweet and Heartwarming Bracelet (US only - if international winner pulled then a single ebook from author's back list)
  • Bee Salt and Pepper Shaker and Sweet and Heartwarming Bracelet (US only - if international winner pulled then a single ebook from author's back list)

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Wife Maker by Karey White (Blog Tour + Review + Giveaway)

Wife Maker (1) 

The Wife Maker
by Karey White
The Husband Maker series, Book 3
Available February 2015
169 pages

About the Book
Wife Maker
Charlotte has spent years as the husband maker, sending every guy she dates off to enjoy marital bliss with the next girl he dates. But things have now changed, and she's determined to use her husband-maker abilities one last time--on herself. And she finally knows exactly who she wants. 

Angus has loved Charlotte since they were teenagers, but he's tired of waiting for her to realize how good they could be. She's broken his heart one too many times, and it's time to move on with his life. Maybe a position halfway across the country will be just what he needs to get over her. But when Charlotte won't let him go without a fight, Angus has to decide if he's willing to let her in again or if she's too late. 

Buy a copy  |  Find out what others think



My Thoughts
When I first heard the premise for The Husband Maker series, I knew this could be a huge hit. After reading all three books, I can say with certainty that I was right!

The Wife Maker is the third installment in this unique series. (The books definitely need to be read in order!) After getting to know Charlotte in the first two books and being heartbroken (twice!), I came into this book needing (!!!) Charlotte to get her happy ending. I knew based on the title that surely it would happen, but Karey White doesn't just give it to us. No, Charlotte (and the readers) certainly had to work for it.

Based on where the previous two books took us, I wasn't sure that there would be sufficient tension to really warrant a third installment. Let me assure you, I was wrong on that note. The Wife Maker was equal parts drama and romance, and I was anxious to see exactly how everything would end.

I've been thoroughly impressed with this entire series, and The Wife Maker is the perfect conclusion. I can't wait to see what Karey White has up her sleeve next! [5 stars]

I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About the Author
Karey White grew up in Utah, Idaho, Oregon, and Missouri. She attended Ricks College and Brigham Young University. Her first novel, Gifted, was a Whitney Award Finalist. She loves to travel, read, bake treats, and spend time with family and friends. She and her husband are the parents of four great children. She teaches summer creative writing courses to young people and is currently working on her next book. 

Karey White Online
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

Sneak Peek
We walked in silence to the elevator. I took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Only eight days until you leave.” I kept my eyes anchored on the changing numbers above the door, pretending I didn’t know he was leaving sooner than he’d told me.

“Actually, I’m leaving Monday.”

“You are?”

“I had to pay rent for the whole month of August, so I decided I might as well go a little earlier and get settled in before I get so busy.”

“Oh. That makes sense.”

The elevator doors opened and a man with a bundle of perfectly behaved balloons stepped off.

“You haven’t forgotten dinner, I hope.” I pushed the button for the lobby.

“Charlotte, I just—”

“No, Angus.” I hoped my voice didn’t sound as desperate as I felt. “Please don’t say you can’t.” He didn’t say anything. “Please.”

Angus sighed and shoved his hands in his pockets. “Tomorrow night?”

My heart broke a little at his response. He didn’t sound happy at all. He sounded like someone ready to plow through an unpleasant task to get it over with. My pride wanted to tell him to forget the whole thing, but I didn’t. How could I change his mind if I didn’t see him?

“Tomorrow’s great,” I said with enough enthusiasm for both of us.

“Luigi’s?”

“No way. Neither of us need therapy.” That was a lie. “Let’s go somewhere different. Since you’re leaving, let me surprise you. It’ll be fun.”

“I’ll drive. I don’t feel like contorting myself into your car.” Angus smiled. It was so lovely, I felt a clutch in my stomach.

We stepped out into the angled, evening sunshine and hesitated on the sidewalk. “Where’s your car?” Angus asked.

“It’s over there.”

“Do you want me to walk you?”

“That’s okay, it’s still light.” As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I wanted to take them back. I needed to take advantage of every minute I had with him.

“All right. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“See you.”

Angus didn’t move when I started walking away. I crossed the road and found my car in the visitor parking lot. I glanced back to see which way Angus had gone, but he was still standing there watching me. It wasn’t until I waved that he turned and walked away.

Giveaway
As part of the blog tour, there's a giveaway! The prize? A $25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash! Ends March 22. Enter through the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*** Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com 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 Inspired Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.  ***

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Month in Review | February 2015


Yay! Two monthly updates in two months! This is definitely a promising start to 2015!

The Stats ...
I read 7 books this month and DNF'd (did not finish) 2 more. Of the books I completed ...
  • All 7 were fiction.
  • 5 were contemporary, and 2 were set in the future. (No historical fiction this month, what?!)
  • 1 was a physical book, 4 were e-books, and 2 were audio books.
  • 3 were from new-to-me authors.
  • 2 earned a 5-star rating, and another 3 earned a 4-star rating. 2 earned a 2-star rating.
  • Total page count was 1261 pages and 9:52 hours of listening.
  • I'm pleased that 1 of these books was from my own Nook shelves and 3 were borrowed from the library. I'm also happy to report that 2 were classics—one a re-read and one a first read. 
  • I'm in the middle of about 6 other books right now. I'm hoping to finish at least a couple of them this week!
The Favorites ...
Of the books I completed, the clear favorite was The Wife Maker by Karey White. (My review will be posted tomorrow!)

The Reviews ...
I haven't posted many reviews this month because my reading has been a little on the disappointing side. Two 2-stars and 2 DNFs in one month is practically unheard of for me! However, I still plan to go back and add brief reviews on Goodsreads of all of these books. I especially want to make sure to leave positive feedback for those books I did enjoy!

On a Personal Note ...
Hubs and I have both had a cold this month. While his disappeared within a few days, my cough has lingered for over a month. Six weeks, doctor's appointment, two rounds of antibiotics, and nearly an entire bottle of cough syrup later and I think I'm finally over it! On a more fun note, we've had quite a few days recently where the potential for "winter weather events" has been quite high. For this southern girl, that's a huge deal! We did get a dusting of snow last week, which was a ton of fun! Our only disappointment was that it didn't snow until around 8:00pm. Of course, we stood on the porch and watched it snow, danced around on the sidewalk, and caught snowflakes on our tongues (well, that was just me!) until we were thoroughly freezing. What a fun memory though!

What's Next ?
Well, I'm not quite as far ahead in my planning for March as I was last month. BUT there are quite a few books that I'm SUPER excited to finally get to. I'll be posting quite a few reviews in March and continuing to share trailers, Top 10 lists, and other bookish thoughts as I have time. Plus, I received the #XOVoxBox from Influenster last week and will be sharing those products with you soon.

That's it for me. What have you been reading? Anything fun to share on a personal note? What are you most looking forward to in March ?

Sabotaged by Dani Pettrey (Review)

Sabotaged 
by Dani Pettrey
Alaskan Courage series, Book 5
Christian Fiction / Romantic Suspense
Available February 2015
Bethany House
336 pages



About the Book
Finally Returned Home, Reef McKeena Finds His Beloved Alaska Facing Its Greatest Threat

Growing up, goody-two-shoes Kirra Jacobs and troublemaker Reef McKenna were always at odds. Now, working together as search-and-rescue for Alaska's arduous Iditarod race, a growing attraction seems to be forcing aside old arguments. Then Reef catches Kirra sneaking from camp in the middle of the night.

Kirra's uncle, a musher in the race, has disappeared. Kirra and Reef quickly track the man, but what they discover is harrowing: Frank's daughter has been kidnapped. Kirra and Reef, along with the entire McKenna family, are thrown into a race to stop a shadowy villain who is not only threatening a girl's life—but appears willing to unleash one of the largest disasters Alaska has ever seen.

Buy a copy  |  Read an excerpt  |  Find out what others think

My Thoughts
After reading the first four books in Dani Pettrey's Alaskan Courage series, I was a little conflicted about the release of Sabotaged, which is the fifth and final book in the series. I mean, of course, I was excited for another Dani Pettrey novel (who wouldn't be?!) but I hate saying farewell to characters I've come to know and love (the McKennas, y'all!).

Sabotaged is a slight departure from the rest of the series. It doesn't feel quite as adventurous because much of the story takes place away from the race. And the overall pace feels much slower. However, as the story progresses and the clues begin to fit together, I felt the urgency fueling the characters' actions and got swept up in the mystery.

It was also interesting to see Reef and Kirra finally be thrown together after getting hints that there could be a romance between the two of them earlier in the series. They've known each other since Kindergarten, so a lot of the "get to know you" stuff is out of the way. In Sabotaged, we get to see them get to know each other as adults, work through baggage from past relationships, and figure out their feelings for each other. Although it happened pretty quickly, the relationship felt natural. I really enjoyed digging into Kirra's past—between a tragedy in college and family secrets, there's a lot to explore there. I wish we could have gotten in on more of Reef's past and the change that's come about.

As always, one of my favorite aspects of a family series is getting to connect with other characters/siblings from previous books. Two of the other couples played significant roles in Sabotaged, and a wonderful epilogue at the end tied the series together quite nicely.

If you've somehow missed out on this series, I highly recommend it! While each book can be read as a stand alone novel, I think you should read them in order for maximum enjoyment.  [3.5 stars]

I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About the Author
Dani Pettrey is a wife, home-schooling mom, and the acclaimed author of the Alaskan Courage romantic suspense series, which includes her bestselling novels Submerged, Shattered, Stranded, and Silenced, and new release, Sabotaged. Her books have been honored with the Daphne du Maurier award, two HOLT Medallions, two National Readers' Choice Awards, the Gail Wilson Award of Excellence, and Christian Retailing's Best Award, among others. 

She feels blessed to write inspirational romantic suspense because it incorporates so many things she loves--the thrill of adventure, nail-biting suspense, the deepening of her characters' faith, and plenty of romance. She and her husband reside in Maryland, where they enjoy time with their two daughters, a son-in-law, and a super adorable grandson.

Dani Pettrey Online
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Book Trailer Thursday | How to Catch a Prince by Rachel Hauck

What's better than an awesome trailer for a new book you're excited about?! Not a lot . . . well, except for another one of your favorite authors (Beth Vogt, I'm talking about you!) making a cameo in it! If everyone ELSE is reading How to Catch a Prince, I guess I need to move it to the top of my stack . . . pronto!


About the Book
Prince Stephen came to America to escape responsibility. But what he found complicates his life more than ever.

Corina Del Rey is happy with her life in Melbourne, Florida. She spends her days engrossed in her career as a journalist and has her sights set on climbing the corporate ladder—if for no other reason, to distract herself from her dissolving family. But when she is confronted with the past she fought so hard to put behind her, she struggles to make sense of her future.

Prince Stephen of Brighton Kingdom has moved on since the tragic death of his buddies in Afghanistan. A star professional rugby player, he has no intention of looking over his shoulder at what could’ve been.

But when a notice arrives in the mail requiring his and his wife’s appearance before the courts to dissolve their marriage, he must deal with the questions rumbling around in his heart. He thought his marriage had been annulled long ago, but his memories of Corina Del Rey remain close. Does he still love her? Can he even find her? Above all, can he tell her the truth about that fateful night in Afghanistan seven years ago? If he does, he might really lose her forever.
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