Wednesday, May 20, 2015

CFBA Book Spotlight: The Art of Losing Yourself by Kate Ganshert

About the Book: Just like in my dream, I was drowning and nobody even noticed.

Every morning, Carmen Hart pastes on her made-for-TV smile and broadcasts the weather. She’s the Florida panhandle’s favorite meteorologist, married to everyone’s favorite high school football coach. They’re the perfect-looking couple, live in a nice house, and attend church on Sundays. From the outside, she’s a woman who has it all together. But on the inside, Carmen Hart struggles with doubt. She wonders if she made a mistake when she married her husband. She wonders if God is as powerful as she once believed. Sometimes she wonders if He exists at all. After years of secret losses and empty arms, she’s not so sure anymore.

Until Carmen’s sister—seventeen year old runaway, Gracie Fisher—steps in and changes everything. Gracie is caught squatting at a boarded-up motel that belongs to Carmen’s aunt, and their mother is off on another one of her benders, which means Carmen has no other option but to take Gracie in. Is it possible for God to use a broken teenager and an abandoned motel to bring a woman’s faith and marriage back to life? Can two half-sisters make each other whole?

Sunday, May 17, 2015

HI EVERYONE

What are you all up to these days?

BEA is coming up! Are many of you going? Is there still a book blogger con? Are they charging bloggers to attend this year?

That's how out of it I am on the wider book blogging world. I was trying to figure out why I feel so disconnected lately apart from the usual life stuff and I don't really know. Maybe it's because I can't read at quite the pace I used to be able to. Or just because I have other interests and indulging those interests meant taking time away from books and blogging which is hard when you have limited time. Some of it was of course intentional disconnection I had to do for myself.

And then, there was the realization the other day that I feel like everyone is talking about comics all the time? Like, when I do find time to hop on bookish twitter (I need to organize a better list for this tbh) I feel like everyone's raving over this and that comic. I...don't read many comics despite it being a goal. I find them very expensive and I don't use the library for reasons I've outlined before. I think I missed when and how comics became so popular. It makes sense in a lot of ways since comics based movies and TV shows are all the rage. It's just surprising!

Anyway, there's a long weekend next week! Anyone have any plans?

Amy

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

CFBA Book Spotlight: The Wood's Edge by Lori Benton

About the book: At the wood’s edge cultures collide. Can two families survive the impact?

The 1757 New York frontier is home to the Oneida tribe and to British colonists, yet their feet rarely walk the same paths.

On the day Fort William Henry falls, Major Reginald Aubrey is beside himself with grief. His son, born that day, has died in the arms of his sleeping wife. When Reginald comes across an Oneida mother with newborn twins, one white, one brown, he makes a choice that will haunt the lives of all involved. He steals the white baby and leaves his own child behind. Reginald’s wife and foundling daughter, Anna, never suspect the truth about the boy they call William, but Reginald is wracked by regret that only intensifies with time, as his secret spreads its devastating ripples.

When the long buried truth comes to light, can an unlikely friendship forged at the wood’s edge provide a way forward? For a father tormented by fear of judgment, another by lust for vengeance. For a mother still grieving her lost child. For a brother who feels his twin’s absence, another unaware of his twin’s existence. And for Anna, who loves them both—Two Hawks, the mysterious Oneida boy she meets in secret, and William, her brother. As paths long divided collide, how will God direct the feet of those who follow Him?

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Big Tractors Review and Giveaway!


I'm really excited to share about Octane Press's exciting new series of children's books for kids who love tractors!

Here's the rundown on the books:

Meet “Casey & Friends.”
Written by Holly Dufek, Illustrated by Paul E. Nunn | Published by Octane Press
Ages 4-8 | 32 pages | 9x9-inch hardcover | $14.99 each

Follow Casey the farmer, Tillus the worm, Big Red the tractor, and a whole cast of cartoon equipment characters who teach important life lessons gleaned from the farm, like thinking ahead and working as a team. Each title is licensed by CASE IH and highlights a different aspect of farm equipment and technology with educational sidebars, picture glossaries and fun farming facts for added learning possibilities.

A Year on the Farm with Casey & Friends (Jan. 2015) introduces children to the world of modern farming by teaching them about the different jobs a farmer does each season. Casey and her team show how tractors, combines and other equipment: plant and harvest crops, work in the farmyard, and care for animals. Learn how farming involves planning for the year, reacting to the weather, and working as a team.

Big Tractors with Casey & Friends (Apr. 2015) shows how the biggest, most powerful tractors handle the demanding jobs of pulling and powering on the farm. Find out how Big Red and Sammy – the biggest tractors on the farm – use their powerful muscles to work in the field with the rest of the team. Learn about the science of farming and discover how advanced technology makes Big Red and Sammy special.

Combines with Casey & Friends (June 2015) explains the step-by-step processes used to harvest crops by the most complex machines on the farm. Follow Cody and Kellie—the combines of Happy Skies Farm—as they do the work of three machines: gathering, separating, and unloading grain and corn.

Planters & Cultivators with Casey & Friends (Sept. 2015) features the specialized farm equipment used to cultivate, plant and spray crops. Learn how Tammi the Tiller, Evan the Early Riser Planter and Peter the Patriot Sprayer work together to make this year’s crop bigger than ever. Explore the science of soil and discover how Casey’s team keeps it healthy.

These are the perfect books for kids to learn about the farm! I got a chance to review Big Tractors with Casey and Friends! This is a great little book! Casey explains the different functions that different tractors have on the farm. Each page shows the tractors doing their jobs and then further breaks down the way they work and what they do. There are picture of actual tractors and also illustrations (Casey, the tractor, etc) on each page. The overall look is very sharp and charming and educational. Kids should love it, I can't wait to share it with my nephew!


I'm excited to also be able to offer a giveaway! One lucky reader will win a copy of the book as well as this lovely CASE IH tractor toy. The toy is very detailed and lovely and would make a perfect toy for any child interested in tractors! :D

To enter to win, just fill out the form below by May 25, 2015 and be a resident of the US. Winners will be notified via email.







Monday, May 4, 2015

In Love and Friendship, Opposites Attract by Jennifer Scott Author of Second Chance Friends


There are so many clich├ęs about friends and friendships. A friend in need is a friend indeed. Any friend of yours is a friend of mine. With friends like that, who needs enemies? Birds of a feather flock together. Opposites attract.

Okay, so technically the last one may be more meant for romantic relationships, but I’ve found it to be true in friend relationships, as well. As a card-carrying introvert, I can be hard to get to know. My friends have to be willing to accept that there are times I won’t talk about my troubles, that Friday nights are the alone time I’ve been looking forward to all week, and that sometimes we have to make two or three runs at lunch date plans before I’ll finally find the courage to stop canceling.

All of my best friends are extroverts. They love to lunch and shop and—egads!—organize GNOs. They push me to join them, sometimes gently (“Let me know when you have an evening available for dinner. . .”) and sometimes with a shove (“I’m not leaving you alone until you say yes and are in your car heading toward my house.”). These are the people, the things, I need. Were it left up to me, I would seldom leave the house. Were I friends with an army of introverts—people just like me—I would never organize a party. Were it not for the energy and pressure from my extrovert friends—my complete personality opposites—I wouldn’t confide anything in anyone. I would be missing out on some of the deepest, most meaningful connections in my life.

In many ways, the four friends who come together in SECOND CHANCE FRIENDS are opposites. Or at least not likely friendship candidates. Karen, whose child has grown, finds connection with Melinda, who has yet to have any children. Joanna is hiding from everyone and everything, yet won’t let Maddie Routh hide.

But maybe they aren’t quite as opposite as they appear.

Some of the very nightmares that keep Melinda from plunging, eyes-closed and fingers crossed, into motherhood, are the difficulties that Karen is going through with her own son right at this very moment. Joanna hides because the one she loves is unavailable to her; Maddie hides for the exact same reason. These women, while at first blush seeming opposite, are, in fact, so very similar. And maybe that’s why they get each other.

Throughout the novel, these four friends use their, at times, opposing strengths, to push and pull one another along into a better place. They help each other grow. Just as my friends do for me.

Because, really, that’s what friendships are for, I think. Pushing us and pulling us to a better place—places of love, places of comfort, places of hilarity, places of growth, places of connection. Because it’s when we begin to notice the similarities that are buried beneath our differences that real relationships are born.

(so thrilled to post this excellent post about friendship from a beloved author!)

Sunday, May 3, 2015

A TV update!

I haven't written about what I've been watching in forever, I totally abandoned The Walking Dead recaps and everything! I've actually been watching what feels like a lot less, but I guess still equates to a lot. Also, I have some ideas for longer posts, but those should all go over on my TV blog with Jodie! Anyway, I'm trying to force myself to get back into a regular writing habit, so here goes!

Bates Motel--I already wrote about Norma, but man I really can't say enough good things about the show this season. I'm really loving it. The show is really starting to place elements of the film that are so iconic and having watched the show for a few seasons, there's a tremendous satisfaction in seeing how everything is developing. The acting is also top notch, both Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore deserve a lot of credit for breathing so much life into these characters and making them seem so real. And I will never tire of singing the show's praises on the depiction of the cyclical nature of abuse and how thorny and complicated these relationships are. It simply wouldn't work if they didn't get it, but they get it so much.

Better Call Saul--this one surprised me so much. I always liked Breaking Bad, but it was much more of a cerebral show, while Better Call Saul is much more of an emotional show. The first episode was dull as dirt, but it picked up after that. It managed to be funny and heartbreaking all at once, and like a review I read recently, we laugh to keep from crying. Yes, life. Saul (Jimmy on the show) has the worst luck, despite his best efforts to do right everything works against him. Watching that struggle (knowing how he ultimately ends up) is strangely riveting. And the backstory you get for him and also Mike, is just, heartbreaking. Really loved the show, tbh, it shocked me that I did. I didn't even really want to watch it much! So it's a good example of how something can surprise you!

The Americans--There aren't words for how smart and compelling this show is. It doesn't shy away from its awful subject matter, and it made me cry on occasion this season in unexpected places. Also, they aren't playing around, MAJOR revelations happened and the way those consequences played out was unpredictable and sticky, just like in real life and war. I loved the show's narrative about idealism and fanaticism, and the intentional parallel between the Jennings commitment to their cause and their daughter's growing attachment to faith. Just excellent. This show is uncomfortable to watch for a lot of reasons, but it's worth it.

Grimm--this show has been really exciting to me this season with the development of Juliette becoming a hexenbeist. I just love it. Also, there's been lots of Adalind, which I love. It's such a...I don't know how to say it, kind of goofy show (which I like--it makes me laugh), but the storyline right now is just aces. So good.

I'm also still watching The Originals (though behind) and I've watched a few episodes of iZombie (yay!) Also, I loved the finale of The Walking Dead, and while the last few episodes gave me angst, because I hate when the show wants to say Rick=Shane, I've made my peace with it, lol.

I'm looking forward to summer TV, tbh. I always like it because it's like all the shows that didn't make it during the year and there's usually something I'll like. Also, Fear the Walking Dead will be coming on! So pumped for that, tbh.

How about you guys? What are you watching?

Amy

Saturday, May 2, 2015

War and Peace Mini Series Update!

Remember how we read War & Peace a few years ago? Well a new mini-series will be coming to our TVs next year and it will be airing on Lifetime and A&E and the History channel etc. I'm excited!

I'm also excited about the casting. Lily James will be Natasha and I like this casting. I didn't see Cinderella, but I do remember her from Downton Abbey and I feel she has a certain It factor for this type of role. Also, James Norton! Worst villain in Happy Valley, lovable priest sleuth in Grantchester!

The only War & Peace adaptation I've seen was the one with Audrey Hepburn and it was dreadful. This one might also be dreadful, based on this "Many elements of the lengthy novel are expected to be omitted from the adaptation, as the series will focus on human interactions, romance and family conflict." I mean okay, good, just don't try to sell me Pierra and Natasha epic love!

To be honest, I already forget huge chunks of the book, which means this will be coming out at the perfect time, when I'm a bit fuzzy on the details of the book so I'll probably think it's awesome.

What do you guys think????

Amy