Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Plateau Already?

            Last time I wrote about weight, I mentioned I had lost four pounds of my 83-pound goal. Guess how many I’ve lost since then? Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zero. I’ve been stuck with a four pound loss for almost two weeks! I’ve been working out almost every day—between 30-60 minutes, and I’ve been under my calorie intake every day. Well…I did blow it Sunday, but I wasn’t over by much that day.

                It’s discouraging to plateau after four pounds! Today, I’ll take a closer look at my eating to see if perhaps I’m eating the wrong thing. I eat a lot of chicken breast, but I also eat a lot of Skinny Cow. I’m going to try to limit my Skinny Cow splurges to once a day. Sometimes I have two or even three Skinny Cows. I rationalize it by telling myself they are only 150 calories and that I have plenty of calories.

                I’m also going to start reading Made to Crave. I’ve heard wonderful things about this book and how it has helped people understand their eating better.

                I have a feeling I’ll be down a pound tomorrow. I’m keeping the faith!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Too Rich for a Bride Giveaway!

This week I am giving away Too Rich for a Bride. To enter, just leave a comment. Be sure to include your email address. I'll select the winner next Tuesday. I can only ship to the US.

Congrats, Michelle, for winning a copy of Possession. I'll mail the book tomorrow.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

I'll Walk Alone

            Alexandra “Zan” Moreland is living in a nightmare. Two years ago, her son Matthew was abducted from a park where he was playing with a babysitter. On Matthew’s birthday, photos are found from the day of the kidnapping, showing Zan taking her son. Facing damning evidence, Zan’s life is spiraling out of control. When someone steals Zan’s identity and begins to make purchases in her name and she experiences blackouts, Zan wonders if perhaps she is losing her sanity. Can she find out who is impersonating her before it’s too late for her and her little boy?
                This tale is classic Mary Higgins Clark. The plot is tightly wound with clues planted for the reader to solve the case. I often figure out the mystery before the end of the book, but I have to say I was stumped on this one. Zan is a strong female heroine, like MHC always portrays. Fan favorites Alvirah and Willy are involved in this mystery, helping the police solve the crime.
                Mary Higgins Clark’s novels are often sparked by current events, and identify theft and kidnapping are no strangers to the headlines. I expected this book to be more about identity theft, so the identity theft as part of the plan to frame Zan was an interesting twist.
                Overall, I enjoyed this book. I’ve been a MHC fan since I was a teenager, and I look forward to the next book.  

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Lady of Bolton Hill by Elizabeth Camden

             Daniel and Clara come from different backgrounds but their hearts are joined forever in friendship through music. When their relationship grows deeper, Clara is sent off to England by her father, who doesn’t want her falling in love with a boy who wasn’t in her social class. After twelve years, the now grown Daniel is a successful businessman with a grudge, and Clara is a journalist who wants to write about the truth about working conditions. When criminals come to town to hurt them, can their love keep them safe?
                This is my first book by Elizabeth Camden, and I loved it! I was not expecting the criminal aspect of the book. I thought it would be a love story—reunited best friends falling for each other and overcoming their past. So, when the storyline about the organized crime came on the pages, I was pleasantly surprised. Romance is always enhanced with a good mystery. J I don’t want to give out too many more details. You’ll have to check it out for yourself.  After reading this book, I’ll definitely check out other books by Elizabeth Camden.
 I received this book from Bethany House for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Starting Weight

     Ok, well, I am not self-confident enough to post an actual number, but I thought I would post a picture of me from March. Then, I can see a transition...hopefully soon.

      I have to say I'm a little discouraged today. The first week and a half, I lost four pounds. I've been staying under my calorie allowance, but I haven't lost any more. In fact, I gained two. UGH! I'm frustrated, but I'm not going to give up. 

A Killer Among Us by Lynette Eason

In this third installment of the Women of Justice series, Kit, a hostage negotiator and cop, is partnered with Noah to find a killer who is targeting law students. As the evidence is analyzed, Kit and Noah realize they are involved in the serial killer’s plan. Can they solve the case before they lose someone they love—perhaps each other?

This book proves again why Lynette is one of my favorite romantic suspense authors. The characters are well-developed. The plot flows at a steady pace. The twists are unexpected. A hint of romance binds everything together. As always, seeds of Biblical truth are scattered throughout the book without becoming preachy.

If you enjoy a fast-paced thriller with a touch of romance, check out this series by Lynette Eason. (I would read them in order.)

Possession Giveaway!

Today I'm giving away a copy of Possession by Rene Gutteridge, who is one of my favorite authors.

To enter, simply leave a comment telling me what your prize possession is. Include your email address so that I can contact you.
I will use to pick a winner next Tuesday. (We'll see if it's lucky number five again!)
Because of budget restrictions (rocking the Dave Ramsey plan), I can only ship to the US.

Learning Giveaway Winner!

I used again, and the number was five again. :)
Congratulations Lopez Familia. I'll email you in a few minutes to get your address.

I am giving away another book today, so check back for your chance to win.

P.S. Does anyone know how to copy a web page to post in here? I tried the Prnt Scrn with several options, but they didn't work. I thought that's how it worked. I'd like to be able to post the picture when I announce the winner.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Seraph Seal

              Taking ideas from Kabbalah, the Bible, and the Mayans, this is a classic tale of good vs. evil, the end of the world vs. the salvation offered by the lamb. The story revolves around a man named Paul, who was born on December 21, 2012, the date the Mayan’s calendar ends. It is his calling to bring together the four humans who can usher in a new age, a perfect age. Will they be able to put the clues together and find the perfect age before the world ends and it’s too late?

                This book is not a beach-side summer read. The plot is complicated, and there are myriad characters. However, if you enjoy “end of the world” fiction, this is an interesting book. There were many interesting topics for conversations in the book: the United States’ role in end time theology, warning signs of the end times, how the world will end, etc. However, that’s where it ended for me. I am a character-driven reader. I have to root for the characters to enjoy a book, but this book had so many random characters that it was a bit overwhelming. My favorite character was the bird Seraphim, who sang hymns that ministered and offered truth to the characters.

                While I find end-time fiction interesting, this book was too complicated for me and lacked a strong conclusion.  

                 I received this book free from Booksneeze for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Seeing is Believing--My Fitness Pal

          Usually I only blog about books. They are my passion. After all, I am a librarian and former English teacher. However, I have a new passion: eating healthy and getting fit.

           I've needed to lose weight for a long time. In high school, I was thin. I played a lot of sports: volleyball, basketball, and softball. I could eat what I wanted because I worked out enough.

            Then college came. I was still slim my freshman year because all my friends went away to college and I walked in the neighborhood because I was bored. I also worked at Bed, Bath, and Beyond, which is a free workout--climbing that ladder was awesome! My sophomore year, I transferred to HBU and began eating badly. I didn't work out much, and I was lazy. I started gaining weight and have continued doing so. It came on slowly--ten pounds here, ten there. It wasn't like I gained 50 pounds in one year. When it's slow, you sometimes excuse it or don't notice it as much.

            I tried South Beach diet. I tried cutting carbs and sugars. However, that just didn't work for me. I always went back to them and gained the weight back. I tried exercising because I love working out. I still didn't lose because I would go back home and eat junk.

            This school year, I changed jobs. I went from being a classroom teacher to a school librarian. I lost 8 pounds during the school year just because I was more active. However, I still had a long way to go--an 83 pound journey left to walk.

            Tuesday, June 7th, my sister, who doesn't need to lose a pound, introduced me to I did it mostly to make her be quiet, but it changed my life. Just as writing things down changed my budget (thanks, Dave Ramsey), entering in my food for the day and seeing the calories made something in my head click! The light bulb went off.

            It's been a little over a week, and I've lost four pounds, which is a healthy amount. What is the best thing so far is that I don't feel deprived. I still ate some cake bites yesterday and today. I still went out to restaurants. I still had snacks. I'm just making better choices about what I eat. I had read articles about portion control, about eating only when hungry, about cutting a restaurant portion in half, etc, but until I saw the calories added up, it didn't convict me to eat better.

            My favorite part of My Fitness Pal is when I finish my daily food journal, it tells me how much I will weigh in five weeks if every day is like the one I had. I can't wait to see where I am in five weeks!

           So, thanks, Jeanelle, for forcing me to sign up for My Fitness Pal. It's been a true pal. LOL! I love corny jokes.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Book Giveaway: Learning by Karen Kingsbury!

I received this book from Karen for the purpose of reviewing. Since I was given the book free of charge, I decided to pass it along for someone else to enjoy.

Keep in mind that I did read the book, so it has some VERY slight wear.

Since the title is Learning, to enter to win, just leave a comment about something you have learned lately. It can be a life lesson, a spiritual truth, or just something funny. Make sure you leave your email address, using spaces to prevent spamming.
I will pick the winner next Tuesday morning.
Due to my strict budget (on the Dave Ramsey plan), I can only ship to the US. :)

Good luck!

Praying for your Future Husband Winner!

I used to find our winner. (I tried to save the picture to post on here, but it didn't work.)
So, I guess you'll have to trust me that it generated the number 5.

Kaz is our winner! YAY!

I'm giving away another book this week, so check back to win. :)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Goal! by Mina Javaherbin (A Bluebonnet Nominee)

       In a South African town, a young boy and his friends have to check to see if the left is clear and if the right is clear before they go out to play. If the streets are safe, they can play football, or soccer as it's known in the US. Even when the streets are clear, one boy has to act as the watchman, looking for bullies or anything else that may disrupt their game. Despite the poor circumstances, the boys enjoy a game of football, trash talking and imagining themselves as the hero of the game, just like kids all over the world do. When bullies threaten their fun, the boys work together to stand up to the bullies.

     This beautiful tale is told in simple free-verse poetry. Its simple words deliver a heavy punch of themes: working together, standing up to bullies, and the playful innocence of kids.
     The beautiful artwork is a great addition to this encouraging story.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Book Giveaway!

This book is amazing. My heart was changed after reading it. Instead of keeping it on my shelf, I decided to give it away so that it can touch someone's life like it did mine.

To enter, leave a comment with your email address by midnight on Monday, the 13th. Use spaces or parentheses  to avoid spam. I'll email the winner Tuesday, the 14th. :)

Check out my review of the book:

Stand Alone vs. Series

     I have always enjoyed a series more than a stand-alone book. I am a character-driven reader. I always want to know what happens next with characters, so a series where I can really get into their lives usually answers all the questins I have about what happens next.
    The problem I am noticing is a few authors have a series about a character but really nothing for that character to do. The series becomes drawn out, the character does things that don't make sense, and the reader is tortured by seeing the character destroyed.
     How many books about a particular character is too many? Do writers drag out a storyline to sell more books?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Learning by Karen Kingsbury

     I am a part of Karen Kingsbury's Team KK, which  means I get the book before its release day and review it for Karen's Facebook page. Because I receive the book before it's published, Karen asks that I not share plot details. Here's my review that I shared with Karen.

     Often in life, the most important lessons we learn are the ones that take us through hard situations, choices, and circumstances. In Learning, Karen weaves a story of learning through hard choices. Many authors write a beautiful story of love, one that ends in happy ever after. Not Karen. Instead she writes about real life in life-changing fiction. The situations the characters face are ones that the people who live on either side of us face. The characters face hard choices that we face ourselves.

     It is this honesty, this openness, this vulnerability that sets Karen’s characters, particularly Bailey and Cody, apart from other books and other characters. These characters make mistakes, have flaws, and face rough times. Readers can identify with them, and that is why the characters in this series are some of my favorite. I have read many books. I’m a life-long book lover, former language arts teacher, and now a librarian. I know books and characters like I know my friends. After the thousands of books I have read, these characters stand out. In addition to enjoying the storyline, their stories speak to my heart and encourage me to learn in difficult situations, to have integrity when I’m faced with a hard choice, and to love Jesus more than all else.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Praying for your Future Husband by Robin Jones Gunn and Tricia Goyer

     Every time I drive Grammy home, she asks me the same question, “Have you met a young man yet?” Each time I answer, “No,Grammy.” Then she replies, “Have you prayed about it?” My response is, “Put it on your prayer list.” Although her intentions are sweet, it still weighs on my heart. I’m thirty-one and single. I wasted six years dating the wrong guy and another two getting over him, and I gave up hope that God has a man for me. Because I lost hope, I quit praying for him like I used to do when I was in high school or college. If I prayed back then without receiving an answer, why should now be any different?

     When I requested the book Praying for your Future Husband to review, I expected the book to be geared towards high school or even college-age girls. I thought it would be an interesting read that I could give to a teen girl at church. I wasn’t expecting to have my hope restored.

     Each chapter of the book discusses a specific prayer. In the chapter, both Robin and Tricia share their vastly different stories, scriptures, and anecdotes from women across the country. At the end of the chapter, there are questions and space to answer. What is intriguing is that there is also a prayer for the single woman. Women often make lists of what they want in a husband (I did back in high school—God lover being the number one trait.), but we sometimes forget to pray for God to make us into a woman after His own heart, a woman who is prepared to be a wife.

     This book is unique in that Robin and Tricia have different stories to share. Robin began praying for her husband and writing letters to him at a young age. Tricia was a teen mom. Because the authors have different experiences, it makes their stories and the book relevant for teen girls who are determined to stay pure, teens who have made mistakes in relationships (both physically and emotionally), and even old maids like myself.

     After reading this book, I have renewed my prayer for my future husband. But more than that, I have found my hope that God, the lover of my soul, will give me the best if I leave the choice up to him.

If you have a minute, please rate my review at Thanks!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Freedom's Stand by J.M. Windle

     After the Taliban’s defeat in Afghanistan, the country struggles to find a new leader and a new government. Corruption and religious intolerance plague the nation’s leaders. Caught in the middle are three followers of Isa Masih, Jesus Christ: Jamil, a healer, who has found Jesus after a life of jihad; Amy, a US woman who is called to minister to women and children in Afghanistan; and Steve, a Special Forces agent. Will they find love and freedom in the middle of a political and religious battle?

     My thoughts: It took me a long time to read this book. The first 100 pages were dry and tedious to read. There was too much background information and irrelevant details. Once I waded through those first chapters, the storyline picked up, and I became interested in the book and its characters, which seemed underdeveloped for most of the book. The theme of religious persecution was a timely one as Christians around the world are persecuted for their faith.

     The most interesting part of the book for me was the idea of the West’s involvement in the Middle East’s affairs. While freedom is a noble and just cause, what happens after the people are free? How involved should the US government be in establishing a new government? Thinking about that made me sad for the women and children who were “freed” only to have a new corrupt government take the place of the old one. What a great reminder that we are only free when we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

I received this book free from Tyndale for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Easter Carats by Erynn Mangum

This sweet novella is made up of all the things that make Erynn Mangum one of my favorite authors: funny one liners, strong and well-developed characters, and a Biblical truth presented without being "preachy". Emilie is a by-the-books kind of girl while Blake is a relaxed guy. After a lifetime of avoiding each other, they are thrown together for a weekend with their families at a lake house, the two find that maybe they aren't so different.
Told in Erynn's unique voice, this short story is a quick, fun, summer read.

Random sidenote: this was the first book I read on my Kindle. I loved the story and reading on a Kindle. :)