Sep 19, 2012

Unstoppable by Nick Vujicic

If you spend much time online, you've probably seen or heard of Nick Vujicic. He was born without arms and legs and has spent his life making the most of it. He believes that with God, all things are possible. In fact, he says, "I keep a pair of shoes in my closet, because I believe in miracles."  On October 2, his new book Unstoppable will be released by Random House.

Now, if that video is not enough to convince you that this is a book you need to read, you can download an excerpt here. Nick's life and his new book, Unstoppable, hold a very inspiring message, and I don't want you to miss it!

May 14, 2012

Book Review: Million Dollar Diva

Authors:  Tristi Pinkston, Brett Kitchen, & Ethan Kap

About the book:

Finally - the woman's answer to growing rich safely! Women today face more money challenges than ever before, from managing careers and families to finances - the demands on their time and resources are increasing. Bad financial advice abounds, and it can be hard to know what to do. Award-winning author Tristi Pinkston teams up with bestselling authors Brett Kitchen and Ethan Kap to bring you Million Dollar Diva. Experience Tristi's real-life transformation from stuggling in debt to million-dollar retirement!  In this book, you'll discover:  
  • The 5-step, simple, safe, and predictable process to change living paycheck-to-paycheck to enjoying wealth and security.
  • How to give yourself a $400 per month raise without asking the boss or working a minute of overtime.
  • "Spend Like a Diva." How to have anything you want - nice vacations, eating out, trips to the mall. It's all part of the plan!
  • The secret formula of how to completely eliminate your debt in 1/3 the time and save tens of thousands on interest costs in the process. You'll see why all the TV gurus are wrong!
  • 5 Million-Dollar-Diva investing strategies that will grow your money safely and predictably every year, without the guesswork.
  • Plus! Discover the key to stop fighting and quarreling with your spouse about money forever!
  • Imagine yourself living debt-free and building a million-dollar retirement safely and securely, so you can have total confidence in yourself and your future.

    Get a copy of this book for FREE!

    From now until JUNE 15th, you can get Million Dollar Diva for free!  All you have to do is pay for shipping and handling.  To get your copy today, please visit

    My review:

    First, let me start off by saying we have an interesting, but all too common, situation in our family.  My husband and I have both been married before, and like many divorces, we were left with far too much debt, and very few "things."  But we're okay with that.  After all, things are just things.  We both know someday we'll be able to buy more things and that things don't make you happy anyway, but neither does debt.  

    Million Dollar Diva addresses the ever-growing epidemic of personal debt.  It teaches a unique method for paying down your debt and saving money for your future.  I'm a numbers kind of gal, so I appreciated the calculations and scenarios presented showing how investing in yourself can pay big dividends in the future!

    The format of the book was a refreshing change from other books I've read about personal finances.  It was a very down-to-earth look at how women and families can change their lives and tackle their personal financial situation.  I really admire Tristi Pinkston for being brave enough to share her own story.  It helps to know that others are out there struggling with the same things I am, and asking the same questions.  That was my favorite part of the book.  Tristi asks all the questions that come to my mind when I'm thinking about the reality of my finances and getting out of debt.

    I highly recommend this book.  Be sure to check out the Million Dollar Diva website.  There are lots of great resources there, so take a look around, and order the free book while you're at it!  You'll be glad you did!

    May 7, 2012

    It's So Cherry Super Spring Kickoff!

    I was excited to be asked to participate in the It's So Cherry super spring giveaway!  If you haven't checked out their website, you totally should.  They have the cutest accessories and gifts -- a perfect Mother's Day idea!!  They are also running a contest.  Keep reading more all the details.

    The trees and flowers are blooming, the sun is out (well, sometimes) and we here at It's So Cherry are all about celebrating, so we're giving away gift bags to four lucky winners, and a pair of barefoot sandals to 20 more. That’s right, you have TWENTY-FOUR chances to win.

    To enter, register at, and follow one (or more) of the participating blogs, then fill out the form below.

    Contest Rules:

    - Must be 16 and over
    - One prize per household
    - Must be registered
    - Only valid for those living within the continental US, or with a United States mailing address

    Each grand prize goodie bag will contain (1) Flower necklace set (with earrings), (1) crochet head wrap (color may vary), (1) scarf (color and style may vary), (1) package nail wraps, and (1) black wrap bracelet.  We will also give away 20 pairs of barefoot sandals to 20 winners.  

    To enter, simply register for an account with It's So Cherry ( and sign up for their email list.  Entries will be accepted starting Monday, May 7th, until midnight, mountain standard time, on Friday, May 18th.  

    Prizes will be shipped within 10 business days after contest winners have been announced.   Winners will be selected using, and contacted using the email provided for registration on the It's So Cherry website.  

    Names of the goodie bag winners will be posted to participating blog sites as well as the blog for It's So Cherry, Upon notification, winners will have 7 days to respond, after which another winner will be chosen. 

    Apr 29, 2012

    Book Review: The Newport Ladies Book Club: Olivia

    Author:  Julie Wright
    Author's Website:
    Newport Ladies Book Club Blog:

    About the book:
    The Robbins household looks perfect from the outside: no dust, no stains, no wrinkles. Yet a glimpse into its heart reveals no laughter, no closeness, no joy. Olivia thinks that if she keeps everything tidy and serves delicious meals on time, family life is bound to get better. But when her husband, Nick, misses their anniversary, she realizes no amount of domestic success will compensate for failure in their marriage, or for her own failure to develop her identity, always busy as a mother, wife, and neighbor, she has forgotten how to be a unique and vibrant individual. Determined to make a change, Olivia joins a local book club, where she nurtures new friendships and explores new ideas. But her growing confidence falters when Nick declares his independence, and while her new friends lovingly encircle her with support, only Olivia can reach into the depths of her fledgling self to find the faith, hope, and love her troubled family needs.

    My review:

    I was excited about the opportunity to read and review Olivia by Julie Wright, the first book in the  Newport Ladies Book Club series.  This series is written by four of my favorite authors.  These ladies came up with the ingenious idea of writing a series together.  Each of the authors is already successful in their own right, so when I heard about their new venture, I knew it would be a great success.  After reading Olivia, I'm sure of it.

    Authors of the Newport Ladies Book Club Series
    Josi Kilpack, Annette Lyon, Julie Wright, and Heather Moore
    I've kind of been on a non-fiction self-improvement kick lately, which made me read this book from an interesting perspective.  I was reminded of so many truths through Olivia's story.  Things like we need to fill ourselves in order to have anything to give to others, that when comparing our weaknesses to other's strengths we'll always come up short, and that everyone has a story.

    Olivia comes from a place that is common for women.  She gives and gives, taking care of everyone around her, until she's at the point where she needs to do something for herself or break.  In an act of desperation, she decides to join a book club.  The women she meets there each enhance her life in different ways.

    A big part of the story is about the broken relationship between Olivia and her husband, Nick.  Having lived through some similar circumstances, I felt great empathy for her situation and was impressed by the grace with which she handled it.  Character growth is one of my favorite elements in a story, and Olivia doesn't disappoint.  Another element of the story that touched my heart were the Heaven Reminders--gentle nudgings Olivia received to help other people, which also blessed her life in the process.  Since reading about them, I've been paying closer attention to such promptings in my own life.

    I am intrigued by the other women in the story and look forward to reviewing the other books in the series.  Daisy by Josi Kilpack will be released in May 2012.  I can't wait!

    To learn more about the authors or the series, please visit the Newport Ladies Book Club blog.

    Apr 16, 2012

    Book Review: Banana Split

    Author:  Josi Kilpack
    Author's Website:

    About the book:

    Sadie Hoffmiller has survived eighteen months of nonstop adventures filled with murder, deceit, and danger. She could really use some rest—and maybe even some time to heal—relaxing in the tropical paradise of Kaua'i. However, palm trees and sunshine are not as effective a medication as Sadie had hoped. And when she finds herself entangled—literally—with a dead body, she is forced to face the compounding fears and anxieties that are making her life so difficult to live.

    Her determination to stay out of danger and to focus on overcoming her anxieties soon takes a backseat when she meets eleven-year-old Charlie, the son of the woman whose body she discovered near Anahola Beach. Charlies has some questions of his own about what happened to his mother, and he is convinced that only Sadie can help him. If only Sadie were as confident in her abilities as Charlie is.

    With the help of her best friend and a local social worker, Sadie dives into another mystery with the hope that, at the end, she'll be able to find the peace and closure that has eluded her.

    My review:

    I was so excited when asked to read and review Josi Kilpack's most recent Sadie Hoffmiller culinary mystery.  Because my life is crazy busy between working, writing, and carpooling ten kids around, I'm ashamed to admit I haven't read any of the other books in this series, but I promise you, after reading Banana Split, that's going to change.

    I have always loved to read.  It's been my escape from my own often challenging life.  But lately, I haven't  found the pleasure in reading that I used to.  I could probably sum up my review simply by telling you that Banana Split reminded me of exactly why I love to read.

    Sadie Hoffmiller accidentally falls into a murder mystery, but this time she's not quite up to the task.  I loved the vulnerability expressed through Sadie's character.  Her fears and emotions helped me personally identify with her character.  This book was full of twists and turns and tender moments.  I loved it!

    On top of the amazing story, Banana Split includes ten mouthwatering recipes tested and approved by the  official bakers of Sadie's test kitchen.  

    Banana Split can be purchased here.  To learn more about Josi's other books, please visit her website.

    Mar 4, 2012

    Book Review: On Little Wings

    Author:  Regina Sirois

    About the book:

    Jennifer must do the impossible – bring her mother home. When a family is torn apart by death, two sisters take violently divergent paths and the story of their family appears to end terribly and abruptly. Two decades later Jennifer never dreams that the photo she finds stuck between the pages of a neglected book will tear open a gaping wound to her mother’s secret past. Abandoning her comfortable life with her parents and best friend in the wheat fields of Nebraska, Jennifer’s quest for a hidden aunt leads her to the untamed coast of Maine where she struggles to understand why her mother lied to her for sixteen years. 
    Across the grey, rocky cove she meets Nathan Moore, the young, reluctant genius surrounded by women who need him to be brother, father, friend, provider, protector and now, first love. The stories, varied, hilarious, and heartbreaking, unfold to paint a striking mural of the shattered past. As Jennifer seeks to piece together her mother’s story, she inadvertently writes one for herself.

    My review:

    I was excited when I was asked to review this book because I had heard so many good things about it.  A lot of what reviewers are saying is absolutely true.  Regina Sirois is a very talented new writer.  She has the unique ability of putting words together in a melodious way, and she writes descriptions that make the reader feel like they are in the middle of the beautiful scenes she creates.  Many of the emotions and relationships throughout the story touched my heart.

    All of these things combined should have made this one of my favorite books, but I was somehow disappointed.  This story is YA literary fiction.  I'm not a huge fan of literary works, so that is probably part of the problem.  And even though the main character is a teenager, I'm not sure the story will appeal to the market for whom it's intended.  I don't think the pacing is fast enough, nor the story line exciting enough for today's young adult audience.  I also found the whole premise of the book a bit unbelievable.  I don't know many teenagers who are going to feel desperate enough to go against their parent's wishes to visit a long lost aunt they didn't know about.  Sadly, most teens just wouldn't care.  But from the other reviews I've read, maybe I'm missing the mark.  I'd encourage you to read the book and decide for yourself.

    I am definitely interested in reading more works by this talented new author.  I'd especially like to see her write something for an adult audience.  To learn more about the author, please visit her website.  On Little Wings is available to purchase on Amazon.

    Feb 25, 2012

    Book Review: Targets in Ties

    Author:  Tristi Pinkston
    Author's Website:
    Genre:  Cozy Mystery

    About the book:
    After two long years, Ren's mission is finally over, and it's time for Ida Mae, Arlette, and Tansy to travel to Mexico to pick him up. They have their itinerary all planned out visiting the ruins in the Yucatan, shopping, playing in the sand and surf and then they'll head to Ren's mission home and be reunited with that dear boy. But a wanted antiquities thief crosses their path, and soon the ladies find themselves tangled up in a web of lies, intrigue, and costly jewelry. Held hostage by men desperate for riches, they do what only they can do keep their heads about them, plan their escape, and discuss the proper making of tortillas. Will they survive their most harrowing adventure yet?
    My review:

    First of all, for those who don't already know, a cozy mystery is a book involving a crime solver (generally a woman) who is an amateur sleuth.  It usually takes place in a small setting where the suspects know each other, and with characters you could envision as neighbors or friends.  The amateur sleuth is a likable character who is usually not taken very seriously.  Cozies are often written in a series, giving the reader time to fall in love with the characters.  Tristi Pinkston has accomplished all of this and more in her Secret Sisters mystery series. 

    Targets in Ties is the fourth book in the series.  This time Ida Mae and her cohorts, Arlette and Tansy, visit Mexico to pick up Ida Mae's nephew from his mission.  In no time at all, they are sleuthing around trying to solve a mystery--the most dangerous one yet.

    The reader can't help falling in love with these little old ladies and their antics.  Ida Mae, Tansy, and Arlette each have their own distinct personality, and Tristi has done a remarkable job giving each of them a voice you can recognize. 

    The book is a fun read and is laugh-out-loud funny.  Every time I read the books in this series, I come away feeling uplifted and happier, and I think you will too.  Targets in Ties is available for purchase on Amazon.

    The characters from Secret Sisters have their very own blog!  If you need a smile, be sure to check it out.  You can also learn more about Tristi by visiting her blog and website.


    In conjunction with this blog tour, Tristi is holding a contest.

    Leave a comment on this blog post, and go visit Tristi's blog at and become a follower.  You will then be entered to win this fun scrapbooking pack, including paper, tags, two decals, and metal tag frames. You have until midnight Mountain time on March 3rd to enter to win.

    Feb 20, 2012

    Book Review: Retirement Quest

    Author:  John Hauserman

    About the book:

    RetirementQuest: Make Better Decisions was written by a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner who has been counseling clients since 1992. Drawing from his twenty years of experience, John Hauserman has developed a unique ability to communicate complex financial subject matter in easy to understand terms. Readers are guided through the basics of financial planning, while threads of politics, history, and psychology are woven together to create a tapestry of deeper understanding into the financial planning world. Complete with hard hitting insight into the practices and sometimes abuses of the financial services industry, John has created a masterpiece designed to help those responsible-minded investors who are seeking to avoid common planning mistakes.

    My review:

    Retirement Quest is a very organized, thought-provoking, look at retirement and how to prepare for your financial future.  It gives the reader an unbiased look at different types of investments, while providing tools for the reader to make educated decisions for themselves.  It covers many topics including, goal setting, risk reduction, and an informative look at the impending financial construct of the future.

    I have a business/finance background, so I really enjoyed the book.  But, It's definitely not a light read.  The average reader might find it a bit overwhelming, but it's chock full of great information and reading it is definitely worth your time.

    RetirementQuest is available for purchase on Amazon.  Check out the RetirementQuest website for an interactive planning tool and free classes.

    About the author:

    John Hauserman, CFP  is the chief executive officer of Retirement Journey, LLC. He oversees the details of the RetirementQuest planning experience.
    Baltimore Magazine named John a five-star wealth manager, based on nine criteria, including customer service, communications, value for fee charge, and overall satisfaction.

    In 2011 John was named the Baltimore area regional ambassador serving on behalf of the Certified Financial Planner (TM) Board of Standards.

    Feb 4, 2012

    Perfect Just the Way You Are

    Success means having the courage, the determination, and the will to become the person you were meant to be. ~George Sheehan
    I LOVE the feeling of new beginnings--my birthday, a new school year, and best of all a brand new year!  I've got a clean slate--a fresh new start, and another chance to commit to the health, love, and life I want for myself.  Today (and everyday for that matter) I get to consciously design my destiny for 2012 exactly the way I want it to be.

    As this year began, I felt hopeful.  I had grand ideas about what I was going to accomplish.  They were the usual things--be more spiritual, thinner, more organized, and just a wee bit closer to perfect.  I read books about goal setting, made a list of things I'd like to achieve, and then . . . froze!  I couldn't start any of them. You see, I have this disorder called PERFECTIONISM.  If I can't do something perfect, I shy away from doing it at all.  Now, I know this is stupid.  I mean, honestly, if I can't eat perfectly or exercise every day of the week, 3, 4, or 5 out of 7 is better than nothing, right?   Intellectually, I get that.  But it's still something I struggle with every single day.  It causes me a TON of frustration and feelings of inadequacy.

    As a result, I've been reading a lot about personal motivation, happiness, and change; looking for something that will make a difference in my perspective. One author advocates telling yourself, "I'm perfect and worthwhile just the way I am." Let me repeat that . . .

    I'm perfect and worthwhile just the way I am. 

    And so are you!!

    I think it's time that we all resolve to accept and love ourselves exactly where we are. Without all the improvements that we could doubtless make, without the pressure to be better. Without the voice of our mother, or father, or third grade teacher that we carry in our head.

    What a concept, to just be at peace with who and what we are right now. Does this mean that we should remain stagnant or refuse to make changes that would benefit our lives? Not at all! It simply means loving yourself now!

    So that is my goal this year.  I'm going to learn to love myself.

    As far as dealing with the issue of perfection, I've decided rather than tackling everything at once, I'm going to make one small goal per month.  I figure working on the same thing all month will allow the necessary time to cultivate some new healthy habits.  I figure if I work on 12 new habits this year and if even half of them stick, I'll be closer to my ultimate goals of health and happiness.

    How about you?  What are your goals for this year, and what's your plan of attack?

    Jan 29, 2012

    Book Review: Family by Design

    Author: Heather Justesen
    Author's Website:
    Genre: Romance/Women's Fiction

    About the book:

    Before he could think better of it, he blurted out, “I understand your concerns. I’m going to speak to my commander about getting an early discharge. My girlfriend, Rena, and I have talked about getting married. There just hasn’t been any rush.”  As soon as the words were out of his mouth, he wondered what he was thinking. Yes, they had discussed marriage, but not to each other! He and Rena had never even dated. Tucker’s on his way to the biggest challenge of his life. Rena already has it all—except a family of her own. But neither one expected their friendship would take such a dramatic turn.

    When Tucker becomes the guardian of his newly orphaned niece and nephew, he knows he can’t handle them alone, not when he might be shipped out with the Marines at any moment. Desperate, he turns to Rena for a major favor. His marriage proposal would give her everything she wants, but can she learn to live without the romance she’s always dreamed of? As time, prayer, and a life-changing kiss work a little magic in her heart, Rena wonders if someone up there has a plan for her that’s better than anything she could’ve come up with on her own. And though it seems crazy at first, this could become her chance for a marriage that will last for eternity.

    My Review:

    Family by Design is not your traditional love story where boy and girl meet, fall in love, and then get married.  It's a topsy-turvy love story that had me cheering for Tucker and Rena from the very beginning.  The fact that, at a very personal cost, they wanted to provide a home for Tucker's recently orphaned niece and nephew give you a glimpse into their characters.  I loved watching their relationship grow and develop and couldn't help cheering them on, hoping that it would all turn out well in the end.  Heather does a superb job at portraying the feelings of her characters.  More than once Rena's emotions felt all too personal.

    I highly recommend all of Heather Justesen's books, but Family by Design is my favorite.  It's an unusual love story full of unexpected events and tender scenes.  To learn more about Heather and her other books please visit her website and blog.  Family by Design is available on Amazon and at other retailers.

    Special Offer:

    Also, as a special promotion for anyone who buys a book before January 31, you can get a free ebook for her companion novella, "Shear Luck."  Once you buy a copy of her book go here to get your free copy.

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