Reviews

Shadows From Boot Hill by L. Ron Hubbard

Galaxy Press Media sent me an audio and print copy of the book, Shadows from Boot Hill by L. Ron Hubbard.

STORY SYNOPSIS: Every man walks with a shadow . . . but what happens when he acquires a second one? Just ask Brazos—a dead ringer for Jack Palance who’s a cold-blooded killer for hire with blood on his hands and a posse on his tail.

 

Desperate for cash, Brazos accepts $200 to gun down a local man named Brant. He’ll earn every penny . . . but in the end there’ll be the devil to pay.

Because to put a bullet in Brant means putting one in his partner as well—an eerie stranger schooled in the black art of witchcraft. This is one killing that brings with it a deadly curse—and a second shadow.

 

As Brazos is about to discover, the Wild West doesn’t get any wilder than when a man is damned to live—and die—in the Shadows from Boot Hill.

Also includes the Western adventures The Gunner from Gehenna, in which a plot to steal a miner’s gold reveals how a good man can go bad . . . and a bad man can do good, and Gunman!, the story of an aging gunfighter turned lawman who shows his town what a real man is made of.

I read the stories and enjoyed them.  Easy to read, short stories that are action packed from the beginning.  If you like Western-style stories, you’ll like these!  I liked that I was able to read them all in an afternoon.  Because they are short stories, there isn’t much, if any room, for dragging the story.  The action starts quick and continues to the last page.   The creativity with which L. Ron Hubbard wrote continues to surprise me.  Very engaging read!

Some more fun info:  Did you know how superstitious the Old West was? The Old West was very superstitious.

 
For example the horseshoe was used to protect and attract good and thwart bad fortune in many homes of the Old West.

 

 

 

Here are some horseshoe basics you need to know:

 

To hang a horseshoe with the ends pointing upwards is good luck as it catches all sorts for any good luck.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To hang it with the ends pointing down, is bad luck as all the good luck will fall out.

 

So make sure you hang your horseshoes properly! :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

*I received a copy of the book from Galaxy Press Media in exchange for my honest review.  The opinions are mine and mine alone. 

Truth Be Told by Carol Cox Book Review

I recently read Truth Be Told by Carol Cox.

9780764209574When Amelia Wagner takes over her father’s newspaper in 1893 Granite Springs, Arizona, she vows to carry on the paper’s commitment to reporting only the truth. But Amelia soon learns that even the truth can have serious consequences. Her father’s revealing articles about the Great Western Investment Company have caught the attention of the wrong people, and pressure mounts for Amelia to retract her father’s statements.

Determined to find out the real story, Amelia begins her own investigation. She’s joined by Benjamin Stone, a Great Western employee who’s been assigned to keep tabs on her for the good of the company, a man Amelia finds both perplexing and intriguing.

What they uncover stuns them both–and has far-reaching implications for not only Ben and Amelia but all of Granite Springs. Can they reveal the truth before the enemy finds a way to silence them for good?

My Thoughts:

Okay, so I liked the story, but I didn’t love it.  It’s a nice, easy read, so if you’re looking to be relaxed and entertained without having to think too much, it’s great!  The main character, Amelia, is a hard working, honest, likeable woman.  I could probably say that about all of the “good guys” in the novel as well.  Likeable characters, loyal, kind, and human (you know, relate-able).

The main plot was unpredictable, and kept my attention.  The romantic side of the plot, not as much.  It was pretty predictable and fairly cheesy.  For those who like the cheesy, make-you-giggle romance, it’ll be great!  I definitely appreciated that this novel kept things appropriate language and romance-wise.  I didn’t have to feel guilty reading any of it.

I give Truth Be Told by Carol Cox 3 stars.  I liked it.

*I received a copy of the book, Truth be Told by Carol Cox, from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.  The opinions are mine alone.

How High Will You Climb? by John Maxwell – Book Review

_225_350_Book.1162.coverWhen given the opportunity to read and review John C. Maxwell’s latest book, How High Will You Climb, I jumped on the chance.  The book did not disappoint, and lived up to my excited expectations.

Have you ever heard the saying that motivation doesn’t last forever?  It says something about how neither do showers, and that’s why we need them everyday.  This is one of those books that will motivate me when my motivation wears off – when I need positive reminders.  Thank heavens for the inspiration and encouragement provided here!  John C. Maxwell provides resource after compelling resource teaching us about the absolute importance of our attitudes, and shares many great insights to help us achieve the right mindset, or attitude in our lives.

I understand that How High Will You Climb is an abridgement of a previous book written by him.  I haven’t read the other one, so this was all fresh to me.  I LOVE how he make biblical references to make his points, but never in a “preachy” way.  It’s refreshing to me to read from someone who has plenty of worldly knowledge, but always draws from somewhere deeper as well.  John D. Maxwell’s How High Will You Climb will stay on my shelves to be pulled out time and time again.  I’m giving it 5 stars:  I love it!

 

Book Description

How high will you climb? John Maxwell says it all depends on your attitude.

Nose up or nose down? Just as the angle of an airplane determines its altitude, so does the approach we take-to family, to work, to life in general-determine the attitude we present the world. The way we solve a problem is often secondary to the approach we take in facing the problem, our outward expression every bit as critical as the inward struggle. When the skies above appear stormy, how will you steer that internal plane we call attitude?

With How High Will You Climb?, author John Maxwell presents detailed lessons on the single invaluable quality that has become a person’s primary force toward success. As the world around us delivers challenges-all the while marching on at its own inevitable pace-the attitude we choose affects each of us individually. And yes, an attitude can be chosen. Attitude is easy in times of joy and progress. But how do you handle the failures sure to interrupt the attainment of goals? What happens to us is often quite different from what happens in us.

*I received a copy of the book, How High Will You Climb by John C. Maxwell from BookLookBloggers in exchange for my honest review.  The opinions are mine alone.

Product Review – Ozeri 4X3 Motion Pedometer

Ozeri, being as generous as they are, sent me a new product to try out!  I received the 4X3 Motion pedometer a few weeks ago.  Before I share my thoughts, let me tell you a little more about the product:

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  • Records steps, distance, speed, calories and time with the world’s most advanced Tri-Axis technology.

  • 3 Recording Modes: Today, Split & Total — with a split screen display for multi-data views.

  • New 3D Tri-Axis Sensor (X, Y, Z plane detection) provides superior accuracy in any position.

  • Counts up to 1 million steps with 7-Day Memory, and includes a built-in Clock, Calendar & Sports Timer and Auto Sleep Mode technology.

  • Used by professional athletes, the 4x3motion boasts an ultra slim design that fits in any pocket, and features a blue backlight for night viewing.

  • 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed.

I have mixed feelings about this product.  I was extremely impressed with the accuracy of the step-counting.  I wore it around my neck, in my pocket, and sometimes held it in my hand and looked at it as I walked.  It always seemed to recognize and accurately count my steps, which is a big deal!  Lightweight and comfortable, I would forget I had it with me when it was in my pocket.

The downside was that in the 1st week of using the pedometer, it froze on me.  Twice.  I couldn’t do a thing to “reset” it, except for taking out the battery and putting it back in.  I would then have to set the entire thing up again, and all my previous info was lost.

I contacted Ozeri, and they immediately sent me out a replacement, which I loved and was grateful for!  Unfortunately, the replacement did the same thing, only it froze twice in the first 36 hours of me using it.  I decided that it’s not worth it if I have to take the battery out, lose all my info, and reset the pedometer again every day.

That being said, I read a lot of reviews on Amazon, and a lot of them are quite positive! Based on my own personal experience, though, I can’t in good conscience recommend the product.

*I am not affiliated with Ozeri in any way.  I received a copy of the pedometer for free from Ozeri in exchange for an honest review.

Reasons My Kid Is Crying by Greg Pembroke – Book Review

When I was given the option to review this book, it was a no brainer.  I knew I wanted to read it!

www.randomhouse.comHere’s a little info about it:

There’s nothing quite like a toddler meltdown. Kids can be set off by the smallest thing—a broken toy, meeting Santa, being told to stop licking their shoes—and their fits are often unintentionally hilarious. That’s the idea behind Greg Pembroke’s hit website, Reasons My Son Is Crying, recently named one of the Most Viral Tumblrs of 2013. Now there are even more laughs in the new book, REASONS MY KID IS CRYING (Three Rivers Press; Trade Paperback Original; $15.00; On Sale April 1, 2014).

Like the irresistible blog, REASONS MY KID IS CRYING pairs full-color photos of adorable kids having not-so-adorable fits, along with deadpan descriptions of why these tots are freaking out. Every miniature melodrama and child-size crisis is proof that parenting is always an adventure in absurdity, and sometimes all you can do is laugh.

If you don’t have the book, get it.  It’s great!  If you can’t get the book, go over and check out the facebook page for the theme.  There are a lot of hilarious posts there, posts that are sure to brighten your day and/or lighten your mood.

I really get a kick out of this book!  I laughed out loud at times, and my day was brighter after having browsed through the many reasons that our kids cry.  My 11-year old daughter also enjoyed it quite a bit, and I had a blast listening to her giggle in her room as she turned the pages.  My 7-year old son wasn’t sure he understood the concept of the book (he has autism and doesn’t always get sarcasm and/or jokes), but even he won’t stop reading the thing!  He’s in it for the adorable pictures. :)

Cute pictures, great captions, hilarious stories.  I loved everything about this book!  I’m giving it a full 5 stars.  If you’d like to take a look and see a little more about what the book is about, you can go HERE to read an excerpt.

 

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

Undetected by Dee Henderson – Book Review

 

9780764212437I received a copy of Undetected by Dee Henderson  from Bethany House to read and review.  Before I share my thoughts, here is a little more about the story:

Commander Mark Bishop is deliberately low-key: “I’m in the Navy.” But commanding the ballistic missile submarine USS Nevada, keeping her crew trained and alert during ninety-day submerged patrols, and being prepared to launch weapons on valid presidential orders, carries a burden of command like few other jobs in the military. Mark Bishop is a man who accepts that responsibility, and handles it well. And at a time when tensions are escalating around the Pacific Rim, the Navy is glad to have him.

Mark wants someone to come home to after sea patrols. The woman he has in mind is young, with a lovely smile, and very smart. She’s a civilian, yet she understands the U.S. Navy culture. And he has a strong sense that life with her would never be boring. But she may be too deep in her work to see the potential in a relationship with him.

Gina Gray would love to be married. She has always envisioned her life that way. A breakup she didn’t see coming, though, has her focusing all her attention on what she does best–ocean science research. She’s on the cusp of a major breakthrough, and she needs Mark Bishop’s perspective and help. Because what she told the Navy she’s figured out is only the beginning. If she’s right, submarine warfare is about to enter a new and dangerous chapter.

 

My Thoughts:

I’ll be honest, this book started out very slowly.  I felt like nothing really started happening until after I’d read 60 pages, and I was frustrated initially with that.  Once the long background and detail had been laid out, however, I enjoyed the story. It is well written with a lot of “bumps” in the road, keeping it interesting and keeping me engaged.  Fairly predictable, but sweet.  This is the first Dee Henderson novel I’ve read, but I’m definitely curious about them now, particularly because of the tie-in this story had with a previous novel, Unspoken.  I will give this book 3.5 stars.  I liked it pretty well!

 

*I received a copy of this book for free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

Signed, Sealed, Delivered, Hallmark Televesion Series

I love a feel-good show.  I love ‘em best when I don’t have to worry about my kids’ (or me) seeing something less than tasteful, and when I can feel good about what I’m allowing to be viewed in my home.  If you are like me in that sense, then I encourage you to check out this uplifting series from the Executive Producer of Touched By An Angel:

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I was given the opportunity to preview the upcoming episode from the Hallmark Television Series Signed, Sealed, Delivered.  Here is a little more about the show:

Signed, Sealed, Delivered 

The new original series “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” is a wonderful combination of romance, comedy and drama that follows the lives of four postal detectives who transform themselves into a team of detectives to track down intended recipients of undeliverable mail. Their missions take them out of the office where redirected letters and packages can save lives, solve crimes, reunite old loves and change futures by arriving late but somehow always on time. The team includes charming Oliver O’Toole (Eric Mabius), the group’s leader is a man of faith who prayerfully approaches his work with the goal of making a difference in people’s lives; new team member, Shane McInerney (Kristin Booth), a technophile who brings 21st century sensibility to the group; free-spirited, “girl next door” Rita Haywith (Crystal Lowe) who has a photographic memory; and lovable Norman Dorman (Geoff Gustafson), a master in conventional research methods.

The show airs SUNDAYS, 8/7c on Hallmark

This incredible series even incorporates scripture in its themes and in the conversations between characters.  In FACT, The American Bible Society has built a bible study to go with the series,

Sign up for that here: http://www.americanbible.org/features/signed-sealed-delivered

*This reading experience is free, but is only available for a few days, so don’t delay!

 

Episode_1006_BadgeI’d never seen the show before, but in watching the upcoming episode I found it wasn’t hard to catch up on who is who, and to get the main gist of the storyline.  The upcoming episode, Future Me (it airs May 25), is a sweet one.  The characters are sweet, sincere, and a bit quirky.  Those guest starring played precious roles, and I came away with my heart having been touched.

Don’t forget to watch it!  It airs this Sunday at 8/7 Central on Hallmark!  If you want to learn more about the show, check out their facebook page as well!

 

*Better on a Budget is not affiliated with Hallmark or with the show Signed, Sealed, Delivered.  All opinions are mine alone.

Modern Pioneering by Georgia Pellegrini – Review and GIVEAWAY!

And we have a winner!!  Congratulations to Dianna!!

When I saw this book, Modern Pioneering, was available for me to review, man oh man, I got excited.  This is the kind of stuff I’m SO passionate about!  Not good at, but passionate about. :)

I love, LOVE the idea of us living more like our ancestors.  The idea of living a more self-sufficient life.  Of being more frugal and self-reliant.  This is what (my) dreams are made of, baby!

www.randomhouse.comAbout the book:

A cookbook and backyard gardening and homesteading guide for women who want to grow food efficiently, cook seasonal recipes, or even try foraging, camping, and living off the land.

Georgia Pellegrini, outdoor adventurer and chef, helps you roll up your sleeves and tap into your pioneer spirit. Grow a small-space garden and preserve a little deliciousness for the cold months; assemble the makings of a self-sufficient pantry; learn to navigate without a compass for your next camping trip; or even forage for plants that give you energy.
Whether you’re a full-time homesteader, a weekend farmer’s market devoté, or anyone looking to do more by hand, this overflowing resource will help you hone new skills in the kitchen, garden, and great outdoors. It includes:
·         More than 100 recipes for garden-to-table dishes, preserves, and cured foods
·         Small-space gardening advice on building a raised bed, choosing what to grow, and saving seeds
·         DIY projects, such as Mason jar lanterns and homemade notecards
·         Superwoman skills like assembling a 48- hour survival toolkit in an Altoids tin
 
Packed with beautiful photographs and illustrations, Modern Pioneering proves that becoming more self-sufficient not only means being empowered, but also having a lot more fun. 

About the Author:

GEORGIA PELLEGRINI’s taste for simple food and outdoor adventure evolved as she grew up in the Hudson Valley, on the same land her great-grandfather owned and worked. She followed her passion to the French Culinary Institute and then to Gramercy Tavern, Blue Hill at Stone Barns, and La Chassagnette in France. (You can learn more about Georgia HERE.)

 

My Review:

Man oh man, I love this book!  SO many great recipes, including some for edible flowers and homemade cheeses.  It’s hard to pick just one favorite, but a couple of recipes I’m really excited to try are the Slim Jims and the Salmon jerky (pg 168, 169).

In addition to recipes, the author includes a section called “The Wild”, which includes information on common edible plants (think dandelions and daylilies).  I was caught off guard by some of the tips and tricks in here…like the glass bottles into glassware.  Nothing at all wrong with the idea, but it didn’t feel that self-sufficient to me, since I’d have to buy the glass bottles.   I’d guess that over 90% of the tips, tricks, and recipes ARE applicable to me and to my goals, and I’ll be doing a lot of bookmarking and experimenting the next few months, thanks to this book.  The pictures are gorgeous; absolutely beautiful.

I really don’t know what I can say to properly show how enthusiastic I am about this book.  If you’re all about self-sufficiency, or want to learn more, READ THIS BOOK!  Seriously, I love the thing. :)  My kids have also enjoyed looking at the recipes and pictures, and they’ve picked out the recipes they want to try as well!  I’m giving Modern Pioneering by Georgia Pellegrini 5 stars:  I LOVE it!

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Have I convinced you yet?  Who here wants to read this book?  Well, you’re in luck, because I also have a copy to give away!  Yay!  Anyone 16 years of age and up in the U.S. can win.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.  The opinions are mine, and mine alone.

Review: Lost and Found by Sarah Jakes


I recently read the nonfiction book, Lost and Found: Finding Hope in the Detours of Life by Sarah Jakes.  Before I share my thoughts, here is a little more information about the book:

9780764212093Like every girl, Sarah Jakes dreamed of a life full of love, laughter, and happy endings. But her dreams changed dramatically when she became pregnant at age thirteen, a reality only compounded by the fact that her father, Bishop T.D. Jakes, was one of the most influential megachurch pastors in the nation. As a teen mom and a high-profile preacher’s kid, her road was lonely. She was shunned at school, gossiped about at church. And a few years later, when a fairy-tale marriage ended in a spiral of hurt and rejection, she could have let her pain dictate her future.
Instead, she found herself surrounded by a God she’d given up on, crashing headlong with Him into a destiny she’d never dreamed of. Sarah’s captivating story, unflinchingly honest and deeply vulnerable, is a vivid reminder that God can turn even the deepest pain into His perfection.
More than a memoir, Lost and Found offers hope and encouragement. Perhaps you, like Sarah, find yourself wandering the detours of life. Regardless of how lost you feel, you, too, can be found.

 

My Thoughts:

This book was a very timely read for me.  I would bet that it will be a timely read for you as well…after all, we’re all dealing and/or struggling with SOMETHING, right? Sarah Jakes is very candid and honest about the mistakes she made as a teenager, and also as a young adult.  Initially, I had the feeling that she was going to justify her actions, or perhaps lay the majority of the blame on growing up under a lot of pressure having a famous father.  She did not do that, and it was very refreshing to feel raw, honest truth in her words.

She shares the story of becoming pregnant at 13 years old, and of the following years of struggle to forgive herself.  She openly shares her struggle in trying to find love, and is more honest about some of the methods she used than I would be in her shoes!  Throughout, the reader is reminded of the hope that Christ brings to our lives, of the need for us to turn our hearts to Him, and to lay our sins at His feet.  She speaks of unconditional love, and of the ability for us to recover and be made whole again, no matter what our circumstances.  She talks of second, third, even 20th chances.

One quote I loved in the book is this:  “Perhaps our biggest issue is not that we can’t see ourselves; it’s that we can’t accept that even when we’re broken, His love for us has not been distorted.”  I think it’s so true…we condemn ourselves, whether in a religious sense or not, and we are our own worst critics.  It can be hard to believe that anyone can love us so perfectly when we are so imperfect.

I really enjoyed this book.  It is a touching, real look at a life of emotional struggle, and it’s filled with hope.  I’m giving Lost & Found by Sarah Jakes 4 stars.  I really liked it.

 

*I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers.  No monetary compensation was given, and I was not required to give a positive review.  All opinions are mine, and mine alone.

Ozeri WeightMaster II Bathroom Scale – Product Review

You may know about my love for bathroom scales – when they are ACCURATE.  Of course, any bathroom scale is great, as long as the numbers on it are consistent….but I like them much better when they are accurate! :D

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I’m one of those people who weighs in almost every day.  I feel like it gives me immediate motivation each morning, whether to keep doing what I’m doing cause it’s working, or as a reminder that I need to get back on track.  Soooo, I was really excited to get this new Ozeri Weighmaster II Bathroom scale.  This scale is better than any others that I’ve owned, simply in that it provides the BMI calculation as you weigh in.  You can set your “profile” on this baby, entering your height and then weighing in, and it’ll remember you!  When I weigh in each morning, my number on the scale pops up, along with the calculated BMI, and then my favorite part:  The screen lights either green or red:  Green means you’ve lost weight from the previous weigh-in, and red means you’ve gained.  Along with the color flashing, it tells you what the difference in weight is.  It will give you those numbers for not just the last weigh in, but for other previous weigh-ins as well.  My kids both have a goal of getting a “red screen” since I want them growing, lol, and I’m shooting for the Green screen, or simply a blue screen, which means the weight is unchanged.  It’s great fun!  (Yes, I think weighing myself and seeing colors is fun)

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Here’s a more detailed description of the product from Amazon.com:

The Ozeri WeightMaster II 440 lbs Digital Bathroom BMI Scale with Weight Differential Detection was designed and engineered in the USA to provide a comprehensive yet simple weight management solution to measure and track your weight. Featuring BMI Measurement and Auto Recognition Technology, the Ozeri WeightMaster II weighs up to 440 lbs and displays your BMI (Body Mass Index), a measure of your body fat based on your height and weight. Immediately after displaying your weight and BMI, the scale’s Weight Differential Detection displays your “net weight change” from your last weigh-in (L1), the average of your last 3 weigh-ins (L3), last 7 (L7), and last 30 weigh-ins (L30). By measuring your weight once a day, the Ozeri WeightMaster II empowers you to see how your current weight changes day to day, from the last 3 days, the previous week and the previous 30 days. For users who would rather just focus on their weight trend without worrying so much about the actual numbers, the WeightMaster II features Color Alert Technology, which displays your weight change in a GREEN illumination for weight loss and RED for weight gain, providing a visual form of intuitive feedback. With built-in intelligence, the WeightMaster II requires no complicated synching and spares you the data connection failures common to more expensive wireless and Bluetooth alternatives. Precision engineered and durably made, WeightMaster II auto-calibrates with StepOn technology and auto-powers off to preserve battery life. It features a slip-resistant grooved ABS exterior reinforced with a tempered glass interior, and non-slip scratch-resistant feet that won’t damage flooring. The WeightMaster II is exclusively treated with Microban® antimicrobial product protection that inhibits the growth of odor and stain-causing bacteria, and helps maintain surface cleanliness. Ships with batteries included, and backed by Ozeri’s 100% Hassle-Free Satisfaction Guarantee.

 

One piece of advice:  If you decide to set up a profile on the scale for your kids (it saves quite a few profiles), make sure they know the rules:  Like, “no pushing the ‘set’ button” or “no weighing in 5 times in 5 minutes”.  It just may confuse the poor scale, and you may find that when you weigh in you have gained 95 lbs because your son somehow updated your profile with his 7-year old weight.  Just a head’s up, because it could happen.  I am not speaking from experience, no sir. :)

*I received NO monetary compensation for this review.  Ozeri sent me their Ozeri WeightMaster II Scale free of charge in exchange for my honest opinion.  Better on a Budget is not affiliated with Ozeri.  All opinions are mine and mine alone