Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Kissed by a Cowboy by Debra Clopton

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the LitFuse Publications book blogger campaign. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” 

Kissed by a Cowboy (Thomas Nelson, February 2016)
Cassidy was looking for a home and a place to belong . . . not for a cowboy to steal her heart.
Having lived through her parents’ endless string of “matrimonial bliss gone wrong,” Cassidy Starr knows when the odds are not in her favor. Divorced and humiliated, her faith on rocky ground, Cassidy is through with love. She’s been bucked off that horse far too many times. Instead, she returns to Wishing Springs, Texas, and the rundown farm she’s inherited from her great aunt Roxie. She’ll reopen the strawberry farm and a bed & breakfast and follow in her aunt’s footsteps, remaining forever-independent, happy . . . and single.
Rancher Jarrod Monahan’s hands are full running the ranch, looking after his ailing grandfather, and chasing down a group of rustlers on the loose. He’s pushed his longing for a family to the bottom of his list of priorities. Besides, he was in love once but ran scared and lost his shot at happiness. But suddenly, the biggest regret of his life has moved in next door with a wounded heart, determined to become a spinster . . . and that’s a challenge that Jarrod can’t pass up.
Jarrod sets his mind to breaking down the walls around Cassidy’s stubborn heart. How can he show her that a cowboy’s kiss lasts forever? For the good folks of Wishing Springs, falling in love has never been so much fun to witness.

Purchase a copy here.

About the author:

Debra Clopton is a multi-award winning novelist and has written more than 22 novels. Along with writing, Debra helps her husband teach the youth at their local Cowboy Church. Debra's goal is to shine a light toward God while she entertains readers with her words.

Connect with Debra: websiteTwitter, Facebook

Dynamic Uno here: 

Maybe it's the Texas girl in me, but I've always been in love with the idea of dating a cowboy and the three Monahan brothers just made my heart swoon.

Kissed by a Cowboy focuses on Jarrod, the oldest of the three brothers and his new/old neighbor Cassidy.  There are many bruises and bumps in their relationship, but their long-standing friendship forces them to work together.  The matchmakers from their town of Wishing Springs also throw in their two-cents and the typical mayhem occurs.

I'm sad that our time in Wishing Springs has come to an end because Debra Clopton's characters are so relatable and realistic that I feel like I've known them my entire life.  If you enjoy cowboys and romance, then this is the author for you!  

Betting on Hope and Counting on a Cowboy are books one and two respectively, so you may want to start with them before reading Kissed by a Cowboy, so you can meet the rest of the characters, but this novel will also stand on its own.

Let me know what you think and Happy Reading!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

My Disney Princess Half Marathon 2015 Experience

It's hard to believe that it's been a year since I ran and finished the Disney Princess Half Marathon. I decide to sign up for it because I used to enjoy running during high school and wanted to do something different before I turned "40," so I signed my self up for it.

 It couldn't have been worse-timing because my grandmother died just a few days earlier and I left for the race right after her funeral.  My aunt was supposed to come with me, but in the aftermath of my grandma's death, she stayed behind to take care of my grandfather.

I decided to stop by the Expo and pick up my race packet before heading to the hotel.  I wasn't sure what to expect, but there was a ton of excitement in the air and it was hard not to catch it-despite the circumstances of my late arrival.

After picking up my packet and walking around a bit, I decided that it was time to get to my hotel--The Boardwalk.

If you ever get the chance to stay on Disney property, I highly recommend this one!  The room was amazing and everyone was so understanding.  It's within walking distance to MGM/Hollywood Studios and Epcot.  You can also take a ferry over to Epcot, which was my saving grace after the race.

The day before the actual half marathon I decided to go back to the Expo and "hang out" for awhile just to take it easy and get my mind ready for the race the next day.  I found this cute sign and decided that it fit because my favorite princess is Sleeping Beauty, and let's face it, I LOVE sleeping.

I returned back to the hotel early for dinner and set out my flat Audrey for the run.

I woke up extremely early--roughly 1:30AM, to start getting into character for the run.  Trying to put my long hair up into one of those cute buns was next to impossible, but by the power of bobby pins I was able to make it happen.

I finally left the room and headed out for the bus to get to the starting line.

One of my work friends was running it with her sister, so we met up at the staging area before going to our corrals.  My friend hates running as much as I do, but she was excited because--it's Disney!

This was one of my new friends.  She's actually friends with one of my Texas friends, but we decided to meet up and send a picture to show our Texas friend that we actually met.  She's really neat and was running several of the races to meet the Coast to Coast criteria.

After waiting for what seemed like forever, we finally started the race.  They had fireworks for each corral and by the time my corral started, 45 minutes had passed since the first corral had left.  It was pretty neat to have the fireworks, but it turned out to be poor planning on the Run Disney staff because a lot of people were disqualified because they were running over an hour behind, through no fault of their own.  (Thankfully, I wasn't in that group, although it was pretty close.)

As you can see, there were thousands of people running so trying to get a clear path to keep on pace was pretty hard.  I stopped to take this picture because we were just starting to enter the Magic Kingdom toll booths and if I had looked to the left, the top runners were already headed back to Epcot!

 The five mile mark was just as we were entering the Magic Kingdom and headed towards the castle.  We had to run down Main Street, head through Tomorrowland, ran back towards the castle, through Frontier Land and then out the side to start back towards Epcot.

As we started through the back of the castle, the characters from Frozen were on top.  The crowd was at a dead standstill and it felt like cattle being herded through the opening.  Definitely, NOT what they show on the website and the brochures for the race.  I was extremely disappointed because I wanted a decent castle picture, but it had already taken 15 minutes to get through here and I didn't want to be swept, so I kept going.

As we were betting ready to exit the Magic Kingdom, several of us stopped by the side to get our "princess picture" instead of standing in the really long line.  Most of the people who stopped to get in the line were swept, so I'm glad I didn't really stop.

After the Magic Kingdom, we were back out on the road to head back towards Epcot.  Run Disney had not expected the race to go on as long as it did, and they had to start preparing the roads for all of the visitors coming to the parks.  Try mushing 24,000 people from two crowded lanes into one.  It was like move cattle down the road.  I gave up trying to get my time back on track because I couldn't get around all of the people to set my pacing again.

Thankfully there was a little bit of Genie magic and I was on my way again...

I took this picture because I was originally wanting to run as Belle from Beauty and the Beast.  Unfortunately, I couldn't find any running gear that would work for the outfit, so I decided to go as my own favorite-Audrey.  This sign was right before the on-ramp, which was a huge obstacle for mile 11 and this Florida girl who ran primarily on flat surfaces.

At the top of the on-ramp for mile 11, one of the green army guys from Toy Story was barking orders.  He's one of the first ones to clue me in that I was close to being disqualified by the balloon ladies.  Yikes!

 The balloon ladies were just starting up the on ramp!  Oh no!  If the balloon ladies catch up to you and pass you you're disqualified from the race and have to get on the bus as the people above are doing.

 Thankfully, through pure determination and a new friend, I was able to finish the race ahead of the balloon ladies by about two minutes.  It's one of the hardest things I've ever done, which made it such an accomplishment.

 Even after all of the training and sheer willpower, my knee still  decided that it didn't like my running and it was hard to walk afterwards even though I iced like a fiend.  That and pure laziness on my part has kept me from running in the year since.

Just seeing everyone's pictures and posts on social media has helped me to relive my own moments and makes me want to do them again.  So, here's to hoping I can sign up for it before the website crashes again this year.  It's extremely expensive and I'm not sure how I'm going to pay for it, but I do want to accomplish this goal again--hopefully with a better time and maybe even a few actual pictures with the princesses.  Let me know if you decide to sign up too.  Maybe we can meet up like I did with some of the others.

Until next year!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

One Year Ago Today

Nanny and Papaw at Indian Rocks Beach 2013

It's so hard to believe that it's been a year since my grandma passed away.  I miss her so much every day that I can only imagine how my grandfather feels.  Even as I type, the tears are streaming down my face and I would give anything to hug and tell her how much I love her--even just one more time.

The good news is that I have hope and I know that I will see her again.  Someday.  When God decides to return for His people.  Until then, I grieve because I have to live without her.  No. We have to live without her.  However, I rejoice because she's in no more pain.  It's just her human body at the grave.  Her spirit is alive and well and hanging out with God!  

Do you know this hope?  If not, contact me and we'll talk.  Seriously.  I don't want anyone to live without this fact that God is coming back for His people and that we'll get to live with Him for eternity!  Can you imagine?

I miss you Nanny and I love you!  Until we meet again!  

Book Blogger Appreciation Week Has Arrived!

Welcome to Book Blogger Appreciation Week!

Thank you to Estella Society for hosting this awesome event!  It's the first time I've attempted participation in something like this, so hopefully you, the reader, has as much fun reading my posts as I am posting them.

For our first day, I'm supposed to introduce myself by telling you about five books that represent me as a person, or my interests/lifestyle.

In no particular order, here are my five:

After teaching in the public school system for 17 years, I decided to take the leap from school librarian to public librarian.  It has been the scariest, but best move I have made for myself in a long time.  My health is improving and I'm learning more than I ever thought I could.  Every time I see this title, it reminds me that I have nothing to fear as long as God is in my corner.

Sleeping Beauty: Diamond Edition [Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy]

Yes, I know I'm cheating a bit here because this is the movie and not the original book, but I'm a Disney fanatic and I LOVE to sleep.  Therefore, it's only appropriate that I use this version for one of my five titles because it perfectly describes me.  Yes, it's a bit much to call myself a beauty--especially when I'm sleeping, but as long as no one decides to wake me up, I'm more beautiful in sleep because I'm relaxed and not worried about life in general.  Plus--Disney.  Enough said.

I'm a romantic at heart.  I want everyone to be happy and have the love of their lives, even if it didn't really work out for me the first time.  (I still have hope though... after all, fairy tales are based on some fact, right?  I mean, Disney.)  I love watching romantic comedies and I enjoy reading them too.  I'm not a fan of the smutty "romances" because I'd rather read about the friendship turned relationship than what should be happening after they're married.  I love Valentine's Day and chocolates and roes and all of that mushy stuff.  I still get butterflies when I read, hear, or watch two people fall in love and giggle like a school girl when it happens.  Yes, I'm all for the romance.

I'm a cat lover and I'm a librarian.  That pretty much sums it all up.  I've been trying to talk our system into allowing library cats, but since so many people are "allergic" to them, we can't have that liability.  Party poopers.  Regardless, I love my little girl (cat), Madison, and don't want to imagine life without her.  Her crazy antics make me smile-especially when I've had a rough day.

It's no secret that I'm a Christian.  Don't roll your eyes--no one is perfect except for God, but I seek His guidance to help me live more like Him.  I fail miserably most days, but I do try to live out His words through my actions.  If you don't know Him, God's a great listener and speaks with a soft voice (most of the time).  He's becoming one of my best friends and I can't wait to hear about all of the special things He has planned for me.  I just have to be obedient--something I have a hard time with, but I'm getting better.  God wants the best for me, so I try to listen and respond-even when I don't feel like it.  I especially like this version by Joyce Meyer because she's put practical applications throughout the Bible so that I can apply the principles that God is trying to teach me to my life.  If you don't know Him, but would like to, let me know.  I'd like to introduce you to my friend!

I think that's enough about me.  Hit me up in the comments section and tell me about yourself.  What books define/characterize you?

Friday, February 5, 2016

A Son's Vow by Shelley Shepard Gray

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the LitFuse Publications book blogger campaign. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” 

About the book: 

A Son's Vow (Avon Inspire, January 2016)

Three months ago, everything changed for Darla Kurtz and her family.

Darla's father was responsible for a terrible fire at Charm's lumber mill which killed five Amish men. And though he, too, lost his life, the town of Charm hasn't looked at her family the same since. Even Lukas Kinsinger---with whom Darla used to have a close friendship.

Now her brother's anger at the town is spilling over onto Darla, and she has the bruises to prove it. The accident already cost five lives, but if something doesn't change soon, Darla fears it will cost her---and her family---even more.

Lukas Kinsinger wants to mourn the loss of his father, but he can hardly find the time to breathe. Suddenly the head of his father's lumber mill and responsible for taking care of his three siblings, he's feeling the pressure. He has also never felt more alone---especially with the new tension between he and Darla. But when he learns of her troubles at home, Lukas knows he can't simply stand by and watch. Someone has to help her before another tragedy occurs.

As Lukas and Darla attempt to repair their families, they discover something deeper than friendship growing between them. But will Lukas and Darla's love be accepted after so much loss? Or will the pain of the past overcome any chance of future happiness?

Shelley Shepard Gray's first book in her Charmed Amish Life series is set in the quaint Amish village of Charm, Ohio, and tells the stories of the Kinsinger siblings who are each struggling to find both forgiveness and love in the face of tragedy. 

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/1TnOt9W 

About the author:

Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town's bike trail.

Connect with Shelley:  websiteTwitterFacebook,Pinterest

Dynamic Uno here: As I've mentioned before, I have always idealized the Amish as having less stress and generally being happy since they have less of society's "burdens" within their communities.  However, the more I read about the Amish through this author's eyes, the more I realize that they do have the same troubles and struggles as everyone else.  

In A Son's Vow, grief and resentment had built up so much inside one of the characters, that he was taking his anger/frustration out on other people both verbally and physically.  I was a little surprised at first, but when I thought about the loss of my grandmother last year, I could relate to the frustration and grief and anger that I felt over the circumstances of her death.

Another emotion I could relate to was that of being "unexpectedly happy."  In this instance, another character had moved beyond her grief and was starting to see that she didn't have to be sad and unhappy just because her loved one had passed away.  She hadn't realized that she had moved on until she was asked how she felt and "unexpectedly happy" was her response.  

Forgiveness was a huge theme throughout the book, as well as love.  (You knew there had to be a bit of romance in there somewhere, right?)  After several of the characters finally chose to forgive themselves and each other, they were finally able to move past their differences and difficulties, which allowed love to sweep in and start romance brewing among the community members.

I really enjoyed reading this first book of The Charmed Amish Life series and cannot wait to meet more of the characters in this cute little town.  If you enjoy reading uplifting inspirational romances with Amish characters, then you won't be disappointed.

Let me know what you think and Happy Reading!

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