Sunday, December 31, 2017

Book Review - A Place at Our Table (Amish Homestead #1) by Amy Clipston

Photo Credit - Amazon

Kayla Dienner vowed to protect  her heart after seeing the heartache her sister-in-law, Eva, faced when Kayla's brother, Simeon died while firefighting. Less than two months after her brother's death, Kayla's boyfriend, Abram, also breaks up with her. She felt abandoned and hurt, so she closed off her heart to love.

James Riehl tries to juggle the volunteer work at the fire department and running his farm. James finds he barely has any time for himself, let alone to find the time to date someone. However, when an accident calls him to the Dienner's family, James can't deny the attraction he feels for Kayla. Will Kayla and James be able to put their past behind them and love again?

I have read a few other books from Amy Clipston and felt they were enjoyable. However, I felt that Kayla was a bit demanding. James is reeling from a tragedy and Kayla wants him to put her first, when they only just started dating. She tries to be understanding,  but once they start dating, she puts most of the burden on James. She used to go visit James at work, but after they start dating, she expects him to plan all the dates along with seeing him everyday. When James tries to make the effort, she is constantly pushing him away and then wonders why he doesn't make the effort. However, he is always the one coming back and asking for another chance, even when Kayla broke up with James just when he needed her the most. Kayla came across as needy and demanding when they became a couple instead of the caring and understanding person, she was portrayed to be.

**Disclosure - I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest opinion**

Friday, December 29, 2017

Urban Decay Lipstick - 714 Mega Matte

I love Urban Decay products they are highly pigmented and leaves my makeup looking flawless. The Mega Matte is billed as a super intense red matte color. The lipstick is enriched with jojoba, avocado, aloe vera, babassu oil, illipe tree, vitamin C and E. The color pigment was a bit disappointing. The color was bright or went on smoothly along with my lips feeling dry. I found this lipstick a bit of a disappointment for the price.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Jergens Wet Skin Moisturizer - With Nourishing Monoi Oil

The sweet scented moisturizer is enriched with Monoi oil to leave skin delicately soft and scented. Unlike, other moisturizers, this lotion are applied to your skin after showering and before you towel off. The oil-infused moisturizer went in smoothly and upon blotting the excess off, my skin was soft and hydrated. I didn’t have any sticky residue, but I didn’t have to follow up with lotion later in the day.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Book Review - All Things Now Living (Seventh Daughter, #1) by Rondi Bauer Olson

Photo Credit - Amazon
Amy doesn't like to see any animals suffer or die. She refuses to hurt animals, but she can't see herself feeling sorry for the abominable inhabitants of New Lithisle. The dome the inhabitants built to shield themselves from diseases is predicted to collapse and Amy was taught this is God's will. 

While on a trip with her father, Amy becomes trapped New Lithisle. She is kept hostage where she meets, Daniel. He is beautiful and Amy is attracted to him, but he has been modified. Amy is conflicted upon saving New Lithisle and its inhabitants or standing by idly while the residents suffer through God's curse. Will Amy help save the New Lithisle? Will Amy be able to see the humanity in all of God's creatures?

The story had an interesting premise, but I couldn't get into the story. I found the characters confusing and have conflicting ideas. For example, Amy doesn't like to see animals die, but doesn't care about the people about New Lithisle. She constantly judges them by their exterior even though they go out of their way to help her. Daniel is conflicted about doing what Amy wants and what is best for the New Lithisle. He trusts some people, but the others, he judges harshly. He was afraid of Leroy and wanted to leave him behind, but when Scout threaten Amy, he had no problem having Scout tag along with them. The characters all have a strange dynamic with each other. One minute, they trust each other the next they are shooting the other person.

I also found the story to be confusing and convoluted. I had to re-read several sentences and I still couldn't follow. I felt that some of the story could have used more details or backstory. Like more about Amy's sisters and why there are seven of them along with why Amy has a bounty on her. They keep mentioning them, but they never come into contact with each other.  Also, what is this pandemic, they keep talking about since they became immune to the swine flu. What happened to her scientist mother? The dialogue felt a bit weird and not authentic. I have read a few dystopian novels and while I am not a fan of the genre, I do generally like them. However, this one doesn't keep my attention for very long.

**Disclosure - I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest opinion**

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Book Review - Christmas at Grey Sage by Phyllis Clark Nichols

Photo Credit - Amazon
Maude and Silas deck out their adobe house with all the holiday trimmings that delight and thrill family and friends alike. Christmas at The Thornhills' Gray Sage Inn is always a day to remember until a tragic accident occurs. Now, Silas and Maude go on vacation during the holiday to escape the painful holiday memories. When Maude's best friend, Lily asks her to open the inn during the holidays for a group of eccentric travelers, she was hesitant to agree.

When the group of travelers arrives, they are surprised that Grey Sage Inn isn't decorated with Christmas decorations. After a snowstorm hits Santa Fe, the guests find themselves stranded and try to make the best out of the holiday as possible. Will Maude and Silas be able to heal and appreciate Christmas again?

The novel started with Maude's appreciation for Christmas; going into detail about her favorite decorations, traditions and moments. Then we get to meet the group of eccentric travelers and from there we find out why Silas and Maude don't celebrate Christmas anymore and the backstory of each traveler. I found the first few characters really boring and halfway towards the book, it finally picked up, but by then I was already over reading this book. It is a nice cozy reading novel for readers who loves Christmas stories, but this wasn't really my cup of tea.

**Disclosure - I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest opinion**

Friday, December 22, 2017

Book Review - Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda

Photo Credit - Amazon
Paul and Mia Strom have the perfect life. Paul is an advertising executive for a prestige firm, he has a beautiful wife with two healthy boys along with two houses. Paul is the perfect husband; he is the breadwinner, the protector, and the provider. 

Mia has been very sick lately, so Paul decided to plan a very special romantic weekend at their lake house for the two of them. However, while Paul and Mia drive to the lakeside, tensions and emotions are running rampant.  There is an unspoken truth that is haunting both Paul and Mia. How much does Paul and Mia know about each other? Is there such a thing as a perfect marriage?

The novel was very engaging and fun read. I love how reading the novel, you know not everything is as perfect as Paul makes it seem. Just reading how he describes his family and his life, you are waiting for the dark truth to actually come out.  And when you do find out about the dark secrets, holy smokes, does the novel keep you guessing! A definite must read for readers who love thrillers and perfect to make a commute to work fun (just don't miss your stop).

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Book Review - A Short History of the Girl Next Door by Jared Reck

Photo Credit - Amazon
Matt Wainwright has the best laid intentions, but is constantly sabotaged by the thoughts in his head. Matt is in love with his best friend, Tabby but he has a hard time articulating his feelings into words and actions.  He feels only comfortable  in Mr. Ellis's English class where he can write to express his inner thoughts and feelings.

If everything worked the way that Matt planned that he would be dating Tabby. Except, life doesn't work like that for Matt. Instead, Tabby falls in love with Liam Branson. An unfortunate accident causes Matt to be sidelined and without the ability to express his feelings even in his English class. Will Matt be able to get out of his head and work through his feelings?

I thought this was going to be a romantic comedy where the best friends either fall in love or they let each other be with other people. However, I was drawn how this wasn't like many other YA romance novels I have read. It had a touch of humor while being realistic enough that you can feel each the character's pain. My only qualm is that Tabby's two love interests both never stuck up for her when she was being made teased. We have read in the backstory that Tabby usually sticks up for Matt, but it seems that her love interest, Liam would be the one to defend her. 

It was a very interesting read and I can't wait to read other works by the author.

**Disclosure - I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest opinion**

Monday, December 18, 2017

Book Review - Rescued Hearts by Hope Toler Dougherty

Photo Credit - Amazon
Mary Wade Kimball was looking for a quiet retreat from the demands of her everyday life. While picking up supplies and returning home, she sees a kitten stuck in a thorny bush in front of an abandoned house. She decides to help the kitten when she is taken hostage by two criminals.  Mary  Wade is worried when a third criminal returns with supplies for the storm.  However, the third criminal is actually an undercover agent, Brett Davis. Deciding the woman's safety was more important than his three month investigation, he risks his mission to help Mary Wade escape. Will Mary Wade and Brett be able to escape the criminals?

The novel had an interesting premise, but it failed to keep me interested. I found myself glazing over portions of the book because the plot was predictable and the dialogue felt stilted. I found bits of the story on the topic and quite silly, like Brett who managed to calmly think through things to rush into a known ambush and Mary Wade seducing one of the criminals. The mini story about Brett's stalker was also very predictable and could have been left out. It didn't really add anything to the story other than making the book longer.

**Disclosure - I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest opinion**

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Book Review - Imperfect Justice (Hidden Justice #2) by Cara C. Putman

Photo Credit - Amazon
It seemed like an easy open and closed case - Kaylene Adams kills her daughter only to be killed by the police. Kaylene's attorney, Emilie Wesley, questions the validity of the highly publicized story. She knows that Kaylene would never hurt her daughters and she was looking to leave an abusive marriage. Emilie is consumed by self-doubt and it affects her ability to help other women in violent relationships. Will Emilie be able to find out what really happened to her client?

The novel had an interesting story, but I felt the main character was lacking. She is a person from money and it seems like a lot of things that she does is motivated by money. She mentioned that she would use her trust fund to furnish her lifestyle but not her work. However, she kept mentioning how her work is how she identifies herself and without it, she is lost. She also claims that Kaylene was a good friend and she was torn about the deaths but when Kaylene's brother requested her help, she was hesitant to help saying how it would cut into her personal time (which she also claims she is always working and barely spends time with her friends). But if you think your friend was wrongly accused, I wouldn't worry about my free time (which she still manages to hang out with her other friends). I also think it was petty, that she keeps mentioning her salary at the women's center. And when news of Kaylene's death shook Emilie, she tries to remember  all the good she has done, but when another client comes in to escape with her 10 month old, she seems to be more concerned that she can't write an article for her side job. Overall, it's an interesting book, but it just wasn't for me.

**Disclosure - I received a free unedited copy of the book in exchange for an honest opinion**

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Book Review - The Crooked Path by Irma Joubert

Photo Source - Amazon
**May Contain Spoilers**

Lettie compared to herself to her "beautiful" friends always feeling like an outsider because she perceived she is lacking. She is short and on the chubbier side while her friends are richer, the other is beautiful or called each other best friends. However, she doesn't let her "shortcomings" hold her back and becomes a doctor like her father. Marco lived through a war that robbed him not only the love of his life but also his health. He moves to South Africa since he can no longer bare the winters in Italy. He becomes one of Lettie's first patients and their relationship grows as she tries to nurture him back to health. Will the duo be able to love again?

The cast of characters appeared in The Child of the River, but I didn't find it necessary to read the first book to enjoy this book.  While, I enjoyed the a book I felt like it wasn't as enjoyable as it could be. The book was divided into four "life" events and the first two spoke about Lettie's and Marco's lives before meeting each other. These chapters were filled with details and consistent in timing while the later chapters had just pertinent details and, sometimes, it was vague how much time passed between pages. For example, Lettie cries about over her beloved's friend's death, but they mentioned her parents' death in passing. I felt like when they were talking about Lettie's and Marco's soul mates, they spent a lot of time going into the story and building the ambience.

There were a few things that bothered me about the story. Lettie is portrayed as the chubby and lovable friend (I sometimes find her petty) and she gets jealous over her friends' happiness, money, beauty, relationships, and children. However, I am surprised she  never felt like a part of Macro's heart will always be with Rachel (his first love). She just loves him blindly even though she notices that he doesn't speak much about Rachel. Another thing is when she realizes that she is falling in love with De Wet again, why does she hesitate? She knows that he likes her and she likes him but plays this "Oh, I don't know" game, but craves his attention. After all this talk about crooked paths, shouldn't she know that her crooked path is leading her to De Wet especially, since she has been in love with him since childhood.

**Disclosure - I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review**

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Book Review - The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck by Bethany Turner

Photo Source - Amazon
Sarah Hollenbeck has gone through her second and probably hardest life transformation. She was married to her high school sweetheart when they got divorced. Unsure of her life path, she joins a book club to pass the time. She discovers she has a passion for writing steamy romance novels. When she decides to become a Christian, she is afraid of how the members of her church would react. It also doesn't help that she is falling in love with the new pastor, either. Sarah is also on the hook for one last novel, but will she able to write another steamy novel? Will Sarah be able to reconcile with her past? Will the church members be able to accept her?

At first I love reading this book, I couldn't put it down. I probably read more than half of the book within a few hours, but towards the middle, I didn't feel the same magnetic pull. I felt some portions of the book moved too quickly, and the characters didn't get to develop. Sadly, I also didn't have a connection with any of the characters. Sarah went from reinventing herself to being a moody child acting adult. However, I would be open to read other works by the author.

**Disclosure - I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest opinion**

Monday, December 4, 2017

Book Review - Deadly Proof (Atlanta Justice #1) by Rachel Dylan

Photo Source - Amazon

Kate Sullivan is tapped as lead counsel to take on the pharmaceutical giant MPC. In what can be her biggest case of her career, things become more daunting when a whistleblower dies and someone seems to be targeting Kate. Kate turns to ex-Army Ranger, Landon James for his private investigator skills, but after someone makes numerous attempts on her life, she realizes she would need his formidable bodyguard skills as well. As Kate investigates further into the case, it becomes apparent that someone is willing to risk everything to make sure MPC wins the trial.  Who is behind the attacks on Kate? Is Landon willing to forgive his past mistakes and follow his heart?

The novel started off interesting and then immediately went downhill. I felt it was really slow with very predictable story lines. Some of the characters and the story felt like an afterthought. Kate became lead counsel working with other lawyers, but we never hear about them, nor do we actually find out about the "trial" only the conclusion. And then when Kate was being harassed, it seemed very mild compared to the death of an MPC employee. Not a terrible novel, but not very fast paced or suspenseful of a novel.

**Disclosure - I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest opinion**

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Juara Radiance Enzyme Scrub

The 2-in-1 exfoliator is enriched with an ingredient list good enough to eat: apple enzyme, clove flower, cinnamon, candlenut oil, turmeric, jojoba and bamboo beads. The scrub promises to reveal a smoother, brighter and more radiant skin. The scrub was a bit rough and had the same scent (candlenut, if I am not mistaken) as most of Juara’s products. The exfoliator was a bit rough and it left my skin feeling smooth and soft but it wasn’t any different from other cleansers I have used.