Monday, August 31, 2015

Whispering Pines Book Review

Whispering Pines: Tales From a Northwoods Cabin

By Elliott Foster

In September 1993, four generations of the Travis family gather to celebrate the 80th birthday of their matriarch, Isabelle. Reflecting on their experiences at the rustic family cabin set on a lake in the Chippewa National Forest, they talk of fishing for walleye, cooking the perfect beef roast, pulling pranks, making love, and living life abundantly over eighty years.

Simultaneously heart-warming and heartbreaking, the stories told by Isabelle, her daughter Ruth, and her grandson Eddie slowly unwrap secrets long held secrets long hidden deep in the Minnesota North Woods.
***MY HONEST REVIEW OF Whispering Pines***

When Sam and Isabella Travis bought property on Lake Dunbar in 1952, little did they know the immenseness of the legacy they were creating. Three members of the Travis family share many memories of their beloved family throughout six decades.

This was a powerful read that had me wishing I was a member of this family. It had me laughing, crying, and thoroughly enjoying all the memories shared. I felt their shock and sadness, as well as their joys and pride, and felt like I was right there with them. I didn’t want the stories to end. I am so glad that I got to know this family, and feel I now share their memories as well.

My review can also be found at:

**The above opinions are 100% my own, whether I purchased the book or it was given to me to review.

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Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Red Planet Trilogy Book Review

The Red Planet Trilogy: Three Novellas

By William Graham

This collection of three novellas chronicles the dramatic events from the founding of the first Martian colony in the middle of the 21st century to the first election of the Martian Republic in the 22nd century. "From Vermont to Mars" tells the story of ecological disasters on Earth that are the catalysts for the first emigrants to head to Mars. "The Red Planet Murders" continues the story by telling the compelling tale of murder and the reluctant investigator Achilles "Ace" Sloan who must solve the crime amid social unrest on Mars. "The Martian Republic" describes the political struggle between warring factions on Mars leading up to the first presidential election. Together, the three novellas are a sweeping, cautionary tale of a grand social and economic experiment on Mars.  This work is also available in audio format on
If you enjoyed the trilogy, the author continues the saga in "The Red Planet President."
***MY HONEST REVIEW OF The Red Planet Trilogy***

If you like short stories that include the same characters, then you’ll like this book. It is three novellas spanning through generations of two different families. It begins with the reasons that many people are leaving Earth to live on Mars. Then continues with the growth and dissention of Mars’ population.

This was an enjoyable plot with several endearing characters. I liked following the Birch family, and felt a connection to their simple life. It seemed to me that life on Mars was in actuality no different than on Earth, minus the outdoor freedom. As usual, politics get in the way, and the rich rule the poor. This makes the story realistic to me, knowing that that’s the way it will always be. I loved the description of the bookstore and its patrons. The identity of Mr. X was a surprise that I wasn’t expecting.

My review can also be found at:

**The above opinions are 100% my own, whether I purchased the book or it was given to me to review.

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Friday, August 28, 2015

Terrance Talks Travel Book Review

Terrance Talks Travel: A Pocket Guide To Adventure Travel (Volume 3)

By Terrance Zepke

LIFE IS AN ADVENTURE OR NOTHING... Adventure travel is a $250 million a year industry in the U.S. and roughly $263 billion is spent on this pursuit worldwide, according to the Adventure Travel Trade Association. 

That's because it's fun, thrilling and addictive! 

Learn about adventure activities you've probably never heard of, such as sandboarding, bakkie skiing, kloofing, and more. Find out if this type of travel is for you and how to pack, plan and prepare for adventure travel.

Discover unique adventures that involve hiking glaciers, sailing into volcanic calderas, camping in the South Pole, swimming with humpback whales, a Trans-Siberian Railway Adventure, a camel trek into the Namib Desert, an Egyptian Nile River Cruise Adventure, and much more.
***MY HONEST REVIEW OF Terrance Talks Travel***

After reading this author’s picks for some well-known, as well as some unusual travel adventures, you’ll be ready to start your vacation immediately. You’ll find tons of information needed even before your trip begins, like budgeting, pre-trip checklist, things not allowed, and above all, etiquette.

This has become my go-to reference book for my next adventures. With amazing pictures and descriptions, I can’t help but want to venture to each place. There were so many points discussed that I never would have thought of. Some of the adventures would definitely be out of my comfort zone, but are appealing enough to not deter me from considering them. I like that some are off the beaten path and away from crowds. That’s more to my liking. I’ve already decided that my next quest will be Reindeer Herding. Yea, it’s in the book, along with so many other unusual activities. 

My review can also be found at:

**The above opinions are 100% my own, whether I purchased the book or it was given to me to review.

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Spookiest Battlefields Book Review

Spookiest Battlefields: Discover America's Most Haunted Battlefields

By Terrance Zepke 

Extraordinary events have shaped American history, such as the momentous Battle of First Bull Run. It was one of the largest land battles of the Civil War, so it is not surprising that this is among the most haunted battlefields in our nation. Psychics have reported nine different entities present at Manassas Battlefield. Ignorant at this point as to how long and how bloody this war would become, tourists traveled by carriage (from as far away as Washington, D.C.) to Manassas to watch the battle. They brought picnics and cheered from the sidelines, as if watching a ball game! Over the years, there have been thousands of reports of paranormal activity at our battlefields. A Phantom Rider, believed to be General Anthony Wayne, has been seen galloping up Route 322 before disappearing into the woods at Brandywine Battlefield. You'll also read about other key battles and hauntings, such as... 

*Shiloh's Drummer Boy Ghost 
*Old Green Eyes of Chickamauga 
*a mysterious fog at Richmond 
*a strange blue light that appears at Antietam
*the spirits of Indian warriors at Little Bighorn 
*and learn how Devil's Den, Slaughter Pen, and Bloody Lane got their gruesome names...and more! 

In addition to chronicling paranormal activity, visitor information, such as the best times to go and tour options, are revealed. 
***MY HONEST REVIEW OF Spookiest Battlefields***

This book includes information on 14 battlefields that have recurring paranormal activity. Each of these locations was a site where a major battle was fought during either the Civil War, or the American Revolution. All of these battles resulted in heavy casualties. The author gives detailed information on each of the parks associated with each battle, as well as the hauntings documented.

I was never good at remembering my American History. I love the way the author has broken it down with dates, locations, and some actual backstory. I don’t remember ever hearing of most of it before now. Even though I love reading about anything paranormal, I actually enjoyed learning about each one of the conflicts more. I also didn’t realize that a lot of family members were with the troops at their camps during some skirmishes. My biggest surprise was learning that as many as 500 women fought as men during this time.

My review can also be found at:

**The above opinions are 100% my own, whether I purchased the book or it was given to me to review.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Luau Love Bridal Shower Inspiration

Luau Love Bridal Shower
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Saying thank you to your wedding guests, friends and family is an important part of of your wedding as is shows your appreciation for their role in your celebration. Find tips and helpful wording samples here.
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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Laguna Nights Tour and Giveaway

New Release....
Madison Alcott was back in her hometown, caring for her sick mom and working long hours at the best resort in Laguna Beach. She never imagined she'd return to the place where she became famous on the hit reality TV show Laguna Nights, and the place where she was humiliated on national television. Fortunately, the past had stayed tucked away until her old high school boyfriend appeared in the lobby.

Josh Welsh was a superstar by age eighteen, the bad boy break-out star of Laguna Nights. Since then, his star had lost its shine and he barely was holding onto his Hollywood status. When he was asked to host a new reality travel show, he jumped at the chance. The only problem was the first episode was shooting in Laguna Beach. Of all the reasons Josh didn't want to return home, he hadn't even imagined the worst scenario: running into Madison "Holly" Alcott.

Josh's connection to Madison was still as strong as her anger at his betrayal. When the new reality series forces them together, they must face Laguna Nights past and present, and navigate a journey where nothing is as it seems.
Book available to buy from....    Barnes & Noble
iTunes     Kobo

***MY HONEST REVIEW OF Laguna Nights***

 Fifteen years ago, Madison was humiliated when her boyfriend Josh betrayed her during filming of a successful reality show they were starring on. She put all that behind her and now has a successful business career. But now Josh has returned and she is pushed into doing a small part in his new reality series. But as the filming begins, it becomes obvious that there is more to this show than they both are led to believe.

I really liked Madison, but I think she needed a reality check as much as Josh did. It was interesting seeing how things are done behind the scene on these types of shows. Not much of a surprise there, pretty much what I expected. I was glad though, when these characters decided to stop being victims and become proactive. To me, that’s when it got interesting, as well as truly real.

My review can also be found at:


About the Author

Kaira Rouda is an Amazon #1 bestselling, multiple award-winning author of three women's fiction novels including HERE, HOME, HOPE, ALL THE DIFFERENCE and IN THE MIRROR. Her bestselling short story is titled, A MOTHER'S DAY. Kaira's work has won the Indie Excellence Award, USA Book Awards, the Reader's Choice Awards and honorable mention in the Writer's Digest International Book Awards. Her books have been widely reviewed and featured in leading magazines.

Tule Publishing Group's Southern Born imprint is publishing her new contemporary romance series set on INDIGO ISLAND: WEEKEND WITH THE TYCOON, Book 1; LINES IN THE SAND, Book 2; and THE TROUBLE WITH CHRISTMAS, Book 3. Four more books in the series will be out in 2015.

Her nonfiction title, REAL YOU INCORPORATED: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs, continues to inspire women internationally.

She lives in Southern California with her husband and four almost-grown kids, and is at work on her next novel.
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I received this book to review through Beck Valley Books Book Tours, all the opinions above are 100% my own.
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Monday, August 24, 2015

Fractured Not Broken Tour and Giveaway

New Release....


Parts of this memoir appeared on ESPN and in Rosie.

Fractured Not Broken is a true story of loss, faith, and a rare love that only happens in nonfiction.

In a sweeping and heart-wrenching narrative, Kelly exposes the truth about what happened after a drunk driver rendered her a quadriplegic. She shares how she found her way back—through faith and pain, her community, her family, and the love of a man she’d prayed for.

Book available to buy from....

"This book has been a true encouragement to me. Thank you Kelly for sharing your story— the loss and the unexpected joy— so that each reader can be uplifted knowing there is a full, rich life available to those who lean in to our Lord Jesus." —Renee Bondi Award-Winning Singer and Songwriter 

"Life has its tragic moments of defeat, setbacks, and fracturing for everyone. Kelly's story proves, however, that individual momentum, personal progress, and genuine achievement can still be attained. Her courage and optimism are uplifting. Open these pages and experience the joy of ultimate victory." —Dr. Dennis E. Hensley, Author Jesus in All Four Seasons 

"This is a real life story of heroic virtue—especially of courage, humility, and generosity—a triumph of faith, hope and love. This story involves the very essence of the human spirit, family, and community. To know Kelly and her journey of miracles is to know that with God all things are possible." —Most Reverend Charles C. Thompson Bishop of Evansville

Fractured Accident Scene
Book Excerpt 
     The first day of school, I sat in the doorway observing the classroom, my room, the one my Young Life teens helped me decorate. We spent all summer traveling to and from Walmart searching for camping theme supplies. The room smelled of glue and crayons. A paper beetle fluttered on the window blind.
     Everything was in place—bees, bugs, beetles, and trees. The words kindness, goodness, patience, peace, and joy, spelled out with twigs and glued on green construction paper, were taped to the blinds. Bibles were lined on a bookshelf. My desk sat to the side with my raised computer keyboard in the center. Outside the window was a view of the church entrance and a large oak tree.
     Eighteen student desks were in a circle, arranged so I could weave in and out with easy access to each student.
     At the top of the chalkboard was this Scripture, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13 NLT).” And on the classroom door was the quote, “Be the reflection of Christ,” surrounded by small, scattered mirrors.
     Across the room, a bulletin board designed to showcase student work had this quote at the top, “To the world you are one person, but to one person—Jesus Christ—you are the world.”
      Blayr, who’d volunteered to help me in the classroom, entered with her hand on her hips, observing. “It looks amazing.”
     “Thanks. The teens really helped,” I said. They’d been my hands during the whole project.
     “They said they had fun. You really have a creative eye.”
     “I want my students to have a great year.”
     Blayr placed her hand on my shoulder. “They will. They’re lucky to have you.”
     The students arrived with backpacks stuffed with pencils, markers, gym shoes, and other supplies. In five minutes, the room went from silence to mayhem.
     “Set your backpacks and supplies against the wall,” I instructed. “We’re going to do an activity before we get started.”
     After they put their backpacks down, they turned to me, and I invited them to sit on the floor in front of me. “The janitor informed me that we’re running out of toilet paper and we only have this roll for the day.” I nodded to a roll of toilet paper in my lap. “Take as many sheets as you think you’ll need today.”
     Their eyes widened. Hesitatingly, one-by-one they lined up and tore off sheets of paper.
     “Count your squares,” I said.
     They counted their sheets, their brows wrinkled with puzzlement.
     “If you have three sheets you need to tell the class three things about yourself. If you have five, you’ll need to tell us five things.”
     Their jaws dropped. A girl giggled.
     “You mean, we won’t really use this… for… the bathroom?” a boy asked.
     “No,” I said. “I made that up to get your attention.”
     They laughed and I did too.
      After they shared information about themselves, I talked about the golden rule. “If everybody follows the golden rule then all the other rules will be obsolete.”
      I spoke about my disability and what I could and could not do. I demonstrated what the chair controls did, let them gape at the scar on my neck, and told them the plates beneath the scar were what kept my head up. I gave them permission to ask me anything they wanted to ask me.
     One advantage to being in the chair was that fifth graders were forced to address me at eye level. Stretching the truth was a lot more difficult for them to do when I stared openly at them, mere inches from their face.
     “There will be times when I need someone to write on the board and pass out papers. Could you help me with those tasks?”
     Students raised their hands and shook them high in the air.
     “I will, I will.”
     They competed to be my helper, to retrieve a dropped item, to pass out papers, to push the elevator button, to bring me a hot lunch from the cafeteria. Kids wanted to help; they fought for the opportunity. They all wanted a turn to go to the board.
     Throughout the year, Principal Schneiders conducted my performance reviews, but I never knew when he’d show up in my classroom. One day he came during science class. The lesson was about the anatomy of a cell. Students gathered around me on the floor in a circle with their books open.
     One student passed out oatmeal cream cookies to everyone. Another student passed out a red Hot Tamale candy, a green jellybean, a caramel, and sprinkles.
      “Don’t eat anything,” I said.
     Once they each had their ingredients, I began the lesson.
     Mr. Schneiders sat in the corner observing.
     “Your cookie represents a cell membrane,” I began. “When the cell divides it breaks apart in two separate pieces. Go ahead and split yours in half.”
     The students broke their cookies. “The mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell. They convert nutrients to energy. Let’s make those the red Hot Tamale. Go ahead and add that to your cookie.” I paused. “The green jelly bean will be the vacuoles. They hold the food, water, and the waste. The caramel is the nucleus, which provides the “brains” for the whole operation. And finally, the icing is the cytoplasm, the fluid that fills the cell.”
     They followed along in their books and studied the diagrams. While the students added the ingredients to their cookies, I explained what each one did and how it was instrumental in the production of cells.
     “And now for the best part,” I said. “You may return to your seats and eat your cell and discuss which part tastes the best.”
     The students laughed, picked up their books and the cell ingredients, and returned to their seats. One student gave her cookie to Mr. Schnieders.  

Kelly Schaefer
Kelly is a true heroine, finding God as she battles with a life as a quadriplegic. Overcoming obstacles every day, she's a speaker, teacher, and Skittles lover. Michelle, Kelly's aunt, is an award-winning and bestselling author who penned Kelly's memoir to bring others hope. She writes stories that move her, and this one is close to her heart.

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Time for celebrations

Michelle Weidenbenner
Michelle is a fulltime employee of God’s kingdom, writing and encouraging writers every day. She’s often a sucker for emotional stories, her sensitive side fueling the passion for her character’s plights, often giving her the ability to show readers the “other” side of the story.

She grew up in the burbs of Detroit with five brothers. No sisters. Each time her mom brought the boy bundle home from the hospital Michelle cried, certain her mom liked boys better than girls. But when her brothers pitched in with the cooking, cleaning, and babysitting—without drama, Michelle discovered having brothers wasn’t so bad. They even taught her how to take direct criticism without flinching, which comes in handy with book reviews.

Michelle is living her dream—writing every day and thanking God for the stories He puts in her path. When Michelle isn’t writing she’s winning ugly on the tennis court. She’s known as “Queen of the Rim Shots.” No joke. It’s ugly.

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