Everyday Tidbits...

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Monday, December 31, 2012

Full Cup, Thirsty Spirit: Nourishing the Soul When Life's Just Too Much...Review

About the book:
We live in a world of constant movement, and our day-to-day lives seem to get busier by the hour. Our days are full of information, full of obligations, full of friends and family, full of everything . . . except fulfillment. And rushing has become a national epidemic. Even when we’re rushing to and from the good stuff—like a rewarding job with wonderful colleagues, or quality time spent with loved ones—we can still end up feeling drained and exhausted, overwhelmed by the sheer volume of life.

In Full Cup, Thirsty Spirit, psychologist Karen Horneffer-Ginter helps you understand that it is this volume, this busyness, that creates a disconnect between your outer life and your inner self. This separation can cause your soul to wilt, preventing you from experiencing joy and hearing your own wisdom about what needs priority in your life.

With an elegant narrative voice that inspires both laughter and compassion, Horneffer-Ginter shows you how to live a fuller life rather than simply filling your time. She focuses on six shifts to make in your daily life—teaching you to honor your rhythms, turn within, fill up, fully inhabit your days, remember lightness, and embrace difficulty.

Through a weave of personal stories, client experiences, and practical exercises, she shows you how to find balance in the swirl of daily life, so you can reconnect with what matters most.

I don't think that anyone will argue when it's said that in today's world, life has become more stressed.  Where we used to be able to get in the car and we were away from phones, we are now always available.  Wifi has even made it so that it's not necessary to be near a computer to access email.  Our lives are busy and sometimes that busyness is good things.  But that busyness affects our souls and our peace of mind.

When I had the chance to review Full Cup, Thirsty Spirit, I jumped.  This is a practical book filled with insight and suggestions to slow down and nourish our souls.  The author addresses six areas to look at in your life and each chapter is filled with insights and suggestions.  This isn't a book that you quickly skim and come away enlightened.  It's a book that you take some time with and a book that you take time to reflect on and mark passages or pages.  My copy is full of post-it tags from pages I want to reread or refocus on.

There was some surprising profanity, but nothing that really detracted.  As it was used, it seemed to fit the situation or example.  Something I really appreciated was how the holistic and spiritual elements of life were discussed and merged together:  meditation as a way of turning inward and offering kindness and forgiveness as you embrace difficulties; and finding lightness in frustrating moments and seeing God's hand in your life and surroundings.

Thanks to Trish at TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Karen Horneffer-Ginter here.  You can purchase your own copy here.  You can see other reviews and tour stops here.

Monday, December 31st: 2 Kids and Tired
Wednesday, January 2nd: Serendipity Smiles
Thursday, January 3rd: My Heart’s Desire
Monday, January 7th: Evolution You
Tuesday, January 8th: Life in the Bogs
Wednesday, January 9th: A Life Sustained
Thursday, January 10th: between you & me
Monday, January 14th: Silver & Grace
Tuesday, January 15th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Wednesday, January 16th: My Bookshelf
Thursday, January 17th: It’s a Crazy, Beautiful Life
Monday, January 21st: Deva Coaching
Tuesday, January 22nd: change therapy
Wednesday, January 23rd: Diamonds in the Sky with Lucy

Read 12/12

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Mailbox Monday 12/31

It's time for another Mailbox Monday  which was created by Marcia at The Printed Page, and this month is hosted by Susan at Suko's Notebook.

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week... Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish list

I missed last week's Mailbox Monday, so here is two week's worth of arrivals:

Heat Wave by Richard Castle (Christmas gift)
Banana Split by Josi Kilpack (Christmas gift)
Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow by Olivia Newport (for review, from Baker Publishing)
Cheaper, Better, Faster: Over 2,000 Tips and Tricks to Save You Time and Money Every Day by Mary Hunt (for review, from Baker Publishing)
The Tutor's Daughter by Julie Klassen (for review, from Litfuse Publicity)
7 Years Younger: The Revolutionary 7-Week Anti-Aging Plan by The Editors of Good Housekeeping (giveaway win from Suko's Notebook)


What new books did you receive?  For more Mailbox Monday posts, check out Suko's Notebook.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Weekend Reflections 12/29

Looking outside...it's cold.  There is still Christmas snow on the ground and a chance of more snow tonight.

Listening...to The Boy as he works his way through Star Trek Voyager on Netflix. Love that he has become a Trekkie like me.

Loving...that we had a wonderful, quiet Christmas.  I loved seeing the joy my children had as they gave their gifts to each other.  So grateful for the blessing of Jesus Christ and the opportunity to celebrate his birth.

Thinking...about what this new year will bring to us: experiences, people, blessings, opportunities.

In my kitchen...probably grilled burgers for dinner.  After all, it is snowing and our family tradition is to have Snow BBQ.

Wearing...jeans and a cream colored turtleneck and Christmas socks.

Needing...to finish the Cousin's Book.  Each Christmas my sister and I put together a Cousin's Book.  The grandchildren (14 living) are asked questions (same questions each year:) and we include a new photo.  Each family gets a copy.  My children love to look at the Cousin's Books.  I love seeing how my nieces and nephews change each year and how some of their answers stay the same.

Reading...Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden

Today...some family time.  We got a couple of new family games for Christmas and we're dying to play them.  Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Monopoly and Star Trek Scene-It.

Hoping...for The Doctor to work on my back some more.  I sprained/strained my sacroiliac region (backside) on Christmas Eve and it's a really nice perk being married to a chiropractor who has the equipment and knowledge to treat me at home.  It's much better now, but still has some residual achiness.

Planning...for New Years. The Boy will be attending a big youth New Years Eve dance at church and he's looking forward to it.  I'm not sure what the rest of us will do.  We're not big party people.  Perhaps a rewatch of the Doctor Who Christmas Special is on order.

Gratitude...for girlfriends and a girls day out on Friday that included lunch and Les Miserables.

From my world...Les Miserables was wonderful.  Absolutely amazing.  I am still reflecting on it.  I loved it the first time I saw it on stage 23 years ago.  I loved the film and what they did.  So beautiful, so raw, so moving.  I sobbed during Valjean's death scene.  Well cast. Well done.  I will be seeing it again next week with The Doctor.

What about you?  What are you reflecting on today?

Friday, December 28, 2012

A Change of Fortune...Review

About the book:
Lady Eliza Sumner is on a mission. Her fortune was the last thing she had left after losing her father, her fiancé, and her faith. Now, masquerading as Miss Eliza Sumner, governess-at-large, she's determined to find the man who ran off with her fortune, reclaim the money, and head straight back to London.

Mr. Hamilton Beckett, much to his chagrin, is the catch of the season, and all the eyes of New York society—all the female ones, at least—are on him. He has no plans to marry again, especially since his hands are full keeping his business afloat while raising his two children alone.

Eliza's hapless attempts to regain her fortune unexpectedly put her right in Hamilton's path. The discovery of a common nemesis causes them to join forces and, before she knows it, Eliza has a whole retinue of people helping her. Eliza's determination not to trust anyone weakens when everyone's antics and bumbling efforts to assist her make her wonder if there might be more important things than her fortune and independence.

When all of Hamilton's and Eliza's best-laid plans fall by the wayside, it will take a riot of complications for them to realize that God just might have had a better plan in mind all along.

Sometimes you read a book that just makes you laugh.  Sometimes you meet a heroine who is simply a joy to get to know.  Sometimes you meet a hero who is not only handsome and charming, but generous and kind.  And when all three of those things merge together in one book, you have a delightful story and one you hate to see end.

Lady Eliza is on a quest to discover the whereabouts of the cad who stole her family fortune and title.  That quest brings her to New York City from England and into a job as a governess.  When Eliza's antics get her in trouble, her path crosses that of Hamilton Beckett who comes to her rescue and their adventure begins.  With fantastic supporting characters and two adorable children, this is a delightful story.  Witty and humorous, it's a comedy of errors and was a story that I didn't want to see end.

A terrific debut from a promising author and I am anxious to read more.  I'm thrilled that the next story involves the Hamilton family and I hope that there is a future story planned around Zayne!

Thanks to Bethany House for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Jen Turano here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 12/12

* * * * *
5/5 Stars

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Booking Through Thursday...Favorites

A deceptively easy question for this week (easy to ask but possibly hard to answer): What are/were your favorite book(s) of the year? (Bonus points if you know how many books you read.)

Currently, I'm at 108 with 2 DNF, I will have a couple of more books read before the end of the year.  That's less than normal (last year I read 160), but I had major surgery this summer and it disrupted every aspect of my life.  I keep track of what I read, but I don't have any real goals, nor is it a competition.  Too many challenges and deadlines make reading less fun for me.  So 108+ books for the year is fine by me.

My 5 Star Favorites this year?  The School of Essential Ingredients, The Wedding Dress, Catching Fire, The Captive Heart.

What about you?  What were your favorite books for 2012?

Go here for more interesting BTT posts.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Deck the Halls 2012

The Nativity.  Because it is Christ's birth that we celebrate.

I tend to keep my private family blog separate from my other blogs and I don't often post personal things here. But, I thought it would be fun to share some of our family Christmas with you.

There are certain traditions to Christmas and one is that our tree goes up the day after Thanksgiving.  It's just what I do.

If you don't believe, you don't receive.

Another tradition is that we each get a new ornament for the tree.  My mom always gave my sisters and me a new ornament every year, often commemorating an event or trip. While we all lived at home, we'd have a girls day trip to San Francisco for lunch and to see all the Christmas windows on Union Square.  Back in the day, that was the thing to do and those windows were spectacular.  Macy's always had a Christmas store on their top floor and it was so fun. Those ornaments went with us when we moved out.

Last year, one of our family ornaments was a TARDIS.  
Every Christmas tree needs a TARDIS as well as a Dalek.

I have kept the tradition of new ornaments and my boys look forward to choosing a new ornament each year.

Because of that ornament tradition, our tree is very eclectic, but it's also very much us. We have dinosaurs on our tree and a pink flamingo.  We have world monuments like a pyramid, L'Arc d'Triomphe and Colosseum.  We have a star fish and a coke can.  And we love it!

I have collected Christmas stories for years.  We read them all season long, but on Christmas Eve, we each share our favorite story and then we read the biblical account of Christ's birth.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Art Forger...Review

About the book:
On March 18, 1990, thirteen works of art today worth over $500 million were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. It remains the largest unsolved art heist in history, and Claire Roth, a struggling young artist, is about to discover that there’s more to this crime than meets the eye.

Making a living reproducing famous artworks for a popular online retailer and desperate to improve her situation, Claire is lured into a Faustian bargain with Aiden Markel, a powerful gallery owner. She agrees to forge a painting—a Degas masterpiece stolen from the Gardner Museum—in exchange for a one-woman show in his renowned gallery. But when that very same long-missing Degas painting is delivered to Claire’s studio, she begins to suspect that it may itself be a forgery.

Her desperate search for the truth leads Claire into a labyrinth of deceit where secrets hidden since the late nineteenth century may be the only evidence that can now save her life.

From an art perspective, this is an educational novel.  The portrayal of how modern forgery is accomplished with methods and techniques was fascinating and I loved that Degas was the artist in question.  The author has definitely done her research and the story reads as authentic, although I do not have an art history background.  I didn't love the characters and found them somewhat stereotypical.  The story wasn't a quick one for me and it took a long time to get through this one. The art history standpoint was terrific.

Bottom line:  I liked it, I didn't love it.  I could have done without the moderate, unnecessary profanity.  I hate the "F" word.

Thanks to Amazon Vine for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about B.A. Shapiro here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 12/12

* * *
3/5 Stars

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Booking Through Thursday...Present Tense

Any books you’re particularly hoping to be gifted this year? Any that you’re giving as presents this holiday season?

It's actually a lean book year when it comes to Christmas presents. I have one specific book on my list.  Banana Split by Josi Kilpack.  It's part of her culinary mystery series and I received the one after it for my birthday.  My son has been wanting two books on reading facial expressions (think Lie to Me) and he will find those under our Christmas tree.  Other than that, books are the one thing we tend to get and give year round.

What about you?

Go here for more interesting BTT posts.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Mailbox Monday 12/17

It's time for another Mailbox Monday  which was created by Marcia at The Printed Page, and this month is hosted by Susan at Suko's Notebook.

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week... Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish list

Last week's arrivals:

Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini (for review, from Dutton).
Vanished by Irene Hannon (for review, from Baker Publishing).
Waiting for Spring by Amanda Cabot (for review, from Baker Publishing).
The Lesson by Suzanne Woods Fisher (for review from Litfuse Publicity)
Tres Leches Cupcakes by Josi Kilpack (birthday gift from my son)
Breaking the Code: A Father's Secret, a Daughter's Journey, and the Question That Changed Everything by Karen Fisher-Alaniz (giveaway win from CMash reads)
The 13th Day of Christmas by Jason Wright (purchased)


What new books did you receive?  For more Mailbox Monday posts, check out Suko's Notebook.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Weekend Reflections 12/15

Looking outside...it's cold and a bit overcast.

Listening...to the silence.  It's early and the house is still.

Loving...birthday wishes and feeling special and loved.

Thinking...about the tragedy in Connecticut.  As a parent, it just hits you right in the heart.  I hate seeing headlines that autism was partly to blame or that gun control is the answer.  Connecticut has some of the most restrictive laws and gun bans won't stop senseless violence and autism isn't a mental disorder.  My heart is very tender thinking about those children and families.

In my kitchen...deciding where to go for dinner because it's my birthday!

Wearing...black slacks, a pink turtleneck and gray sweater.

Needing...a bit more sleep.  Tomorrow I can sleep in and it will be lovely.

Reading...The Art Forger, by B. A. Shapiro

Today...some errands, shopping, visiting and then my birthday dinner.

Hoping...to make some time to keep working on the recharter for scouts.

Planning...for next few days of my mom's visit and feeling so blessed to have her with us.

Gratitude...for the ~200 lbs of beef I picked up from the butcher that is now in my freezer and I am grateful to my mom for her help in defrosting it today.

From my world...my sassy new orange mixer.  A birthday/christmas gift from my mom.  I love it!

What about you?  What are you reflecting on today?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Booking Through Thursday...Contemplation

So … you’ve just finished reading a book. For the sake of the discussion, we’ll say it was everything a book should be—engaging, entertaining, interesting, thought-provoking. The kind you want to gush over. The question is—do you immediately move on to your next book? Or do you take time to contemplate this writerly masterpiece and all its associated thoughts/emotions/ideas for a while first?

I pretty much move on to the next book.  I'll contemplate and muse over really good books and even savor them, but it doesn't stop me from moving on to the next one.  Part of that is the fact that I have scheduled tours or reviews and part of that is just this inborn desire to continue reading.

What about you?

Go here for more interesting BTT posts.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Crossing on the Paris...Review

About the book:
Downton Abbey meets Titanic in this sweeping historical novel about three women of different generations and classes, whose lives intersect on a majestic ocean liner traveling from Paris to New York in the wake of World War I.

The year is 1921. Three women set out on the impressive Paris ocean liner on a journey from Paris to New York. Julie Vernet is a young French woman from a working class family who has just gotten her first job as a crew worker on the ship. Escaping her small town and the memory of war, she longs for adventure on the high seas...

Constance Stone is a young American wife and mother who has traveled to Paris to rescue her bohemian sister, Faith, who steadfastly refuses to return to America and settle down. Constance returns home to New York, having failed at the duty her father asked of her...

Vera Sinclair, a rich, ex-patriate American is leaving France after thirty-one years to live out her remaining time home in America. Over the course of the transatlantic voyage, she reflects on her colorful life and looks forward to a quiet retirement.

While each of these women come from different walks of life, their paths cross while at sea in a series of chance encounters. The powerful impact these disparate lives have on one another make for a magnificent and unforgettable read.

Three different women board the ocean liner, Paris, for three different reasons. Each woman has a lesson to learn and an issue she must resolve.   In alternating chapters we learn each woman's story as as the novel moves from second class to steerage to first class over the five day journey from Paris to New York.

Crossing on the Paris isn't a fast paced story with action.  Instead, it is very much character driven and like the ocean liner in its title, the novel moves along steadily, but not quickly. Historically, this is a well researched novel.  It's sumptuous and rich in detail and historically, the book is fascinating.  The differences between steerage and first class always amaze me and Dana Gynther's descriptions are fantastic.

This is a story I enjoyed and yet I didn't love it.  There were a couple of scenes that made me uncomfortable, but I understand why they were there.  Some parts I skimmed and others I absorbed.  Constance, Julie and Vera all come together towards the end of the book and their story is one that will resonate with many women who understand the need and longing many of us have to connect with one another.  It's not the most happiest of books and the ending surprised me a bit, but it fit with the story.  I'd love to know more about Julie and how her story ends.

Thanks to Simon & Shuster for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Dana Gynther here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 12/12

* * *
3/5 Stars

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Blackberry Winter...Review

About the book:
In 2011, Sarah Jio burst onto the fiction scene with two sensational novels--The Violets of March and The Bungalow. With Blackberry Winter--taking its title from a late-season, cold-weather phenomenon--Jio continues her rich exploration of the ways personal connections can transcend the boundaries of time.

Seattle, 1933. Single mother Vera Ray kisses her three-year-old son, Daniel, goodnight and departs to work the night-shift at a local hotel. She emerges to discover that a May-Day snow has blanketed the city, and that her son has vanished. Outside, she finds his beloved teddy bear lying face-down on an icy street, the snow covering up any trace of his tracks, or the perpetrator's.

Seattle, 2010. Seattle Herald reporter Claire Aldridge, assigned to cover the May 1 "blackberry winter" storm and its twin, learns of the unsolved abduction and vows to unearth the truth. In the process, she finds that she and Vera may be linked in unexpected ways...

Every parent's greatest fear is something happening to their child. Nearly destitute but determined to provide for her young son Daniel, Vera leaves the child sleeping during a May snow storm and goes to work at a ritzy hotel. Returning home the next morning, she finds her son vanished, with no trace.  Receiving no help from the police, she's determined to find him on her own.  77 years while writing a story about a similar storm, Claire discovers Vera's story and is determined to find out what happened to Daniel.

Alternating chapters tell each woman's story as Vera flashes back to when she met Daniel's high society father.  Vera's story is heartbreaking as she is simply a victim of circumstance. Orphaned as a teenager, she must work for pennies a day.  Caught in a whirlwind romance with a man she truly loves, her world comes crashing down when his sister interferes between them.  Left to raise Daniel on her own, Vera puts forth a mighty effort despite an abusive landlord and grumpy supervisor.

Claire, having gone through her own devastating loss, is struggling to find her way back to life and her marriage.  As she pursues Vera's story and as puzzle pieces fall into place, Claire realizes that her connection to Vera is more than simply emotions.

Most of the story is heartbreaking, but it's not a sad novel.  It ends well and as Claire's story runs parallel to Vera's 77 years later, we see one woman regain what the other lost.

I enjoyed Sarah's novel The Violets of March and it wasn't until Emily and Jack briefly reappeared in Blackberry Winter that I realized the two stories were lightly connected.

Thanks to the Penguin Group for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Sarah Jio here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 12/12

* * * *
4/5 Stars