Thursday, November 26, 2015

BY THE RIVER by Jennie Hansen — #books #reviews #amreading

BY THE RIVER by Jennie Hansen. I had a hard time getting into this story. I thought it would be easy to jump in but for some reason it wasn't. When that happens I like to figure out why, and I haven't been able to put my finger on the answer to that question yet, other than I wasn't into it this time around. The characters were good, solid characters and the story began with a bang, right in the middle of things, but for me, it seemed to fizzle out a bit after that. It is a good, clean read that I can recommend for those who love a good romantic suspense though.

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It was supposed to be a relaxing early morning run, but the path along the river trail quickly turns into the scene of a nightmare for recent college graduate Kira Paxton. An unintended exploration of a secluded riverbank leads to a gruesome discovery that sets her on a collision course with danger: it is the body of a young woman. In shock, all Kira can manage to do is scream . . . From the moment Ford Kettering hears the cries for help along the trail, he is drawn irrevocably into a mystery in which he plays a shocking role. Ford, a local high school teacher, had a recent classroom clash with the victim—now, he’s a person of interest. As Ford and Kira bond over their shared ordeal, they work together to prove Ford’s innocence—and soon, their attraction is undeniable. But it seems that Kira’s nightmare is far from over. What begins as a series of close calls and acts of vandalism soon escalates, putting Kira’s own life in jeopardy. It appears that Kira saw something that day along the trail, something that has made her a target. With Ford’s help, she is determined to track down the killer—before she becomes the next victim.

*I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.

Tour Schedule:

Nov 23rd

Nov 24th

Nov 25th

Nov 26th

Nov 27th

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Monday, November 23, 2015

A RARE NATIVITY by Sam Beeson — #amreading #reviews #christmas #books

A RARE NATIVITY by Sam Beeson. This book had me curious from the get go. Just the title alone caught my attention, although I had my doubts about it. Then, when I opened it and began to read, my doubts rose. I couldn't see how this book would pull together all the "gifts" that were given to an enemy into something beautiful. It surprised me and I was touched at the end and ashamed at my judgements. This book has a very poignant, sweet message on forgiveness. It is a great book that is for everyone of all ages, especially those have been or who have hurt someone. It is a beautiful way to look at forgiveness.

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We've all heard the song "The Twelve Days of Christmas," and we've all seen the traditional Christmas creche. Now, author Sam Beeson and photographers Nina and Terral Cochran combine these two classic Christmas icons to create A Rare Nativity.
Upon reading the first lines of the book, it's clear the narrator holds a bitter grudge as he sends his enemy crude and discarded gifts:
On the first night of Christmas I gave my enemy a briar from a tanglewood tree.
On the second night of Christmas I gave my enemy two broken eggs.
Night after night the "gifts" pile up - shards of glass, rusty nails, gnarled twigs, and more. What the narrator's enemy decides to do with each of these odious gifts is nothing less than a Christmas miracle. The photographic creation of the rare nativity at the end of the book is both a work of art and a wonder to behold.
Forgiveness is something we all need to give and receive, and A Rare Nativity opens our eyes to the act of forgiveness and the true meaning of Christmas. It's a universal message to be shared with readers of all ages. Christmas is a season for giving. Make it a forgiving season.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

PUZZLE PIECES by Betsy Brannon Green — #bookreview #books #amreading

PUZZLE PIECES by Betsy Brannon Green. This was a fun mystery that had me thinking on my toes. I loved the characters and the setting. The first chapter had me excited to turn the page. It slowed down from there until the mystery began to unfold. So for me it felt like it was a slow start to the story. I loved it though and would recommend it to anyone who loves a good mystery.

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Presley DeGraff is a young woman on the run. With nothing but the clothes on her back, her escape from the ruthless manipulations of her former fiancé leaves her with little time to hide. There is only one person to whom she can turn, only one place she may be safe . . .
Haggerty, Georgia, is known for its Southern hospitality and quirky inhabitants. For Presley, her Aunt Violet’s home in the tiny town is a lifesaving haven. Her aunt, along with a cast of delightful friends and neighbors, warmly welcomes her. For the first time in so long, she feels hope—a hope that hinges on hiding her past. But the dreams of solitude that she had envisioned quickly fade when a disturbing discovery is made in her aunt’s backyard: a human skeleton. At the first hint of crime, Haggerty’s own amateur sleuth, Miss Eugenia, is on the case. Along with handsome Haggerty resident Mac and sprightly ninety-nine-year-old Loralee, Presley is quickly drawn into a mystery spanning generations of Haggerty’s history. But when news coverage of the investigation digs up Presley’s own secrets, it’s up to her new friends to come to her aid, by whatever means necessary.

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Thursday, November 5, 2015

MIRACLE MAKER — #MiracleMakerFilm

MIRACLE MAKER. I cannot say enough good about this delightful movie. It shares the message of kindness, love, and forgiveness in a way that is attainable to everyone. It's a message that everyone needs to hear. The acting is wonderful and it's easy to get swept up in the movie. I have loved this story for the first time I had the privilege of reading. They did a fantastic job of turning Ann's short story into a wonderful movie. My kids loved watching it with me and have asked questions about it since. I highly recommend this movie to everyone.

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"The Miracle Maker is coming!" If any town is in need of a miracle, it’s Woodhaven, a tiny town hanging on the edge of the American frontier. It’s nearly Christmas, but it’s hardly a season of celebration. Work is scarce, money is tight, love is lagging, and spirits are down. Maybe the Miracle Maker can turn things around. The town anxiously waits for someone magnificent who can change their lives. But the ragged traveller who appears isn’t what anyone expects—except for one small silent boy and a precocious little girl. It seems this man can barely take care of himself, let alone fulfill the dreams of others. But miracles can come in all shapes and sizes—and sometimes from unexpected places. Your entire family will love this Christmas tale of hope, love, and miracles.

Questions answered by... John Lyde - Director of Miracle Maker

How long did it take to pull the entire film together? 

The film was only a 12 day shoot during the summer. But the process of putting the film together took a few years. The executive producer, Ron Brough, has been tyring to make this film for almost 2 years. He loved the short story it is based on and was looking for the right script to make it come to life. After a few writers and several drafts, everyone fell in love with the script by Sally Meyer. Casting and locations were all set in the month of May and filming began the end of June. The edit was relatively quick and the film was finished the end of September.

What was your personal favorite scene?

I love all the scenes with Agnes and Bessie. They cracked me up while filming and even more while editing the project. I always enjoy their scenes each viewing. I really love the scene with Cooper Johnson and Jasen Wade towards the end. I can't go into too much detail because I don't want to give anything away :)

Visually my favorite scene is one of the flashbacks with Thomas and Lily on the carriage. I love the natural lighting and the colorist really brought out the beauty of the scene.

There are always those scenes that don't make it into the final edit or outtakes. Is there a scene you wish would have been kept? Is there an outtake you're glad didn't make it?

99% of the time I am really happy that scenes get cut or trimmed and left out of the final edit. I am a big fan of cutting it out if it doesn't belong. Sometimes scenes work really well on their own, but in context of the whole film, they don't fit. In this film, there were no scenes edited out, just small trims here and there.

What did you learn from this story?

I personally learned that filming with mice is almost impossible. There are 2 really short shots of a mouse in the movie. It was by far, the hardest shot of the movie. I tried two different mice I bought from the store. They were crazy, would not hold still, not even for mice treats or cheese. After a hour of just rolling a camera on them, I finally was able to get a small snippit to use in the film.

What do you hope the audience will take away from this film?

I hope they can see that we can create our own miracles. That we shouldn't wait around for them, but we can solve our own problems and help bring miracles to others.

Saturday, October 17, 2015


I went to my first BJJ (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) Tournaments last weekend, as a spectator. I wanted to see what I was in for if I decided to compete. Several things happened. I will admit that I was a bit surprised at how aggressive the competitors were, even the little, little guys. Once I got over my surprise, I watched in fascination at how things played out on the mats from the difference in each ref to how each competitor reacted to a win or a loss to the spectators around the mats.

I was told the kids competitions were going to be more crazy than the adults. So very true. I walked in to walls of people with the decimal level pretty high as parents and coaches shouted. It was difficult to find a spot where I could actually see the matches taking place, but once I did I switched my focus from the competitors to the spectators and back.

Parents and coaches were yelling at their students/children. "Get to mount!" "Now arm bar!" "Hold him where he is!" "You've got this!" Words of encouragement and advice were being shouted from all different angles. With five different matches taking place, I found myself wondering how those poor kids were able to figure out which words were meant for them. Some of the kids would search the crowd until they found who they were looking for. Their heads would turn in what seemed like an attempt to decipher what was people said. I imagine that some kids heard the correct voice and some didn't. I found myself getting anxious for those poor children.

It made me think of the different voices we hear today. We are consonantly bombarded with all sorts of voices trying to give us advice, encouragement, criticism, and many other things. How are we to know which voices to listen to? I have thought about that for a long time. Do we listen to those voices that continually tear us down? Do we listen to those that are encouraging us to do something we know we shouldn't? Do we listen to those that are guiding us in the right direction? And how do we hear the voice we want to hear?

In all aspects we need to be able to decipher among all the voices that are shouting at us and make that decision of which one we are going to listen to. For this particular situation, those kids had to really know their parents and coaches voices in order to tune in and follow their direction. I don't know what was going on in those kids heads or if they were even aware of what was going on as they fought. For me it was a reminder of how and what I need to do to be in tune to the Spirit.

I saw the same thing over and over throughout the day. Yes the crowd thinned and there weren't as many spectators hovering around the mats but there were still teammates, coaches, and friends that shouted encouragement. It was really an interesting and fun thing to watch.

Throughout the day I had the privilege of watching some pretty amazing people compete. It made me excited about the possibility of competing myself. I also realized how in tune I need to be, not only on the mats but off the mats and in life.

Who are you going to listen to?

Friday, October 16, 2015

SPOTLIGHT by Traci Hunter Abramson — #reviews #books #amreading

SPOTLIGHT by Traci Hunter Abramson. After the first chapter it took several more for me to reengage in the story. Once I was solidly hooked, I couldn't put it down. The plot was great and I thought I had things figured out, but I was pleasantly surprised to realize I didn't have it all figured out. I will definitely be re-reading it to see the clues I must have missed somehow. I can recommend this for anyone who loves a great, action packed novel with a bit of romance.

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Navy SEAL Craig Simmons has pledged his life to serve and protect, so when this newest member of the Saint Squad observes a stunning young woman on the beach being shadowed by an armed man, he leaps into action. It doesn’t take long to realize his mistake, but it also puts him in a position to meet a very well-known actress, Sienna Blake. For Sienna, the timing couldn’t be more perfect—she’s preparing for a role as a CIA agent, and who better to help her prepare than a Navy SEAL? Craig and Sienna develop a lighthearted friendship, though both are aware of their growing attraction. Neither realizes, however, that a treacherous enemy is setting in motion a terrifying plan to destroy Sienna . . .
A series of near-fatal accidents on set are too close for comfort, and Sienna has been lucky to escape with her life—so far. Despite the rising danger behind the scenes, the show must go on. When the Saint Squad is enlisted by the FBI to safeguard Sienna on the ill-fated film set, Craig is driven to protect the woman he is quickly growing to love. As the list of suspects and motives grows, Craig and the Saint Squad will do whatever it takes to track down the perpetrator—before things turn deadly.

*A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.

Tour Schedule:

Oct. 12th

Oct. 13th

Oct. 14th

Oct. 15th

Oct. 16th

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Thursday, October 15, 2015

THE CARETAKER'S GUIDE TO FABLEHAVEN by Brandon Mull — #amreading #books #reviews #fablehaven

Caretakers Guide to FablehavenThe Caretaker's Guide to Fablehaven by Brandon Mull. I enjoyed this book, although it was the notations in the margin that I enjoyed most. This fun read anyone will love, especially FABLEHAVEN fans.

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This guidebook to the Fablehaven magical preserve is filled with everything a new Caretaker might need to know in order to survive. There are entries detailing important information about artifacts large and small, a complete bestiary of creatures (from fairies to trolls to satyrs), a guide to identifying demons, dragons, and wizards as well as valuable insights into the other magical preserves. Immerse yourself into the secret knowledge that has been handed down through the generations by reading the updates and notes written in the margins by the former Caretakers of Fablehaven, including Grandpa Sorenson, Kendra, and Seth. Fully-illustrated, this unique encyclopedia has gathered the world of Fablehaven into one volume.

Fablehaven Caretakers
Excerpt from Introduction

If you are in possession of this book you are assumed to be the caretaker or an apprentice caretaker of Fablehaven. By now you’ve been introduced to the world of mythical and magical creatures. However, there is still much to learn. Previous caretakers of Fablehaven thought it would be helpful to create aCaretaker’s Guide specifically for those tasked with the job of nurturing, protecting, and surviving this preserve and its inhabitants. Do not be fooled. Fablehaven is an unpredictable and dangerous place. However, the collective knowledge gathered within the pages of this bestiary will give you the knowledge and wisdom needed to not only survive but to thrive. The creatures of Fablehaven are either light or dark, not necessarily good or evil. In order to be good, one must recognize the difference between right and wrong and strive to choose the right. To be truly evil one must do the contrary. Being good or evil is a choice. This is not so with the creatures of Fablehaven. What they are largely governs how they act. Some are inherently builders, some are nurturers, some are playful. Some are inherently destroyers, some are deceivers, some crave power. Some love light, some love darkness. But change their nature, and without much resistance, their identities follow. Like a fairy becoming an imp, or an imp regaining her fairyhood. Much counsel and advice has been passed down through generations and given to the new caretakers of this preserve. Perhaps the most invaluable piece of advice that has ever been given is this: Those who are careful to cause no mischief, work no magic, and inflict no harm are protected by the foundational treaty of Fablehaven. This truth alone may be your strongest ally and your only defense. One final note. The signs leading up to the front gate were not always there. In the late eighteenth century, before the guest register that controls access to Fablehaven was created, two poachers entered the property in search of big game. Needless to say, they found it. Or it found them. Many days later, the resident caretaker found them as well. Or at least he found their bodies of petrified stone. And thus the first signs outside the gates of Fablehaven were posted. As caretaker you have accepted a most noble assignment. Keep your eyes open. Obey with exactness. Take risks only as the last resort and you will have a better chance at seeing another sunrise. Welcome to Fablehaven.


Author Brandon Mull Brandon Mull is the author of the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling Beyonders and Fablehaven series. Brandon resides in a happy little valley near the mouth of a canyon with his wife and four children. He spent two years living in the Atacama Desert of Northern Chile where he learned Spanish and juggling. He once won a pudding eating contest in the park behind his grandma’s house, earning a gold medal.

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Caretakers Guide to Fablehaven (1)

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