Book Review & Giveaway: “All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes” by Betsy St. Amant

Posted on

Book Review and Giveaway: All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes by Betsy St. Amant

The Book

Kat Varland has had enough of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry.

At twenty-six years old, Kat is still living in the shadows of her family in Bayou Bend, Louisiana. Still working shifts at her Aunt Maggie’s bakery. Still wondering what to do with her passion for baking and her business degree. And still single.

But when Lucas Brannen, Kat’s best friend, signs her up for a reality TV bake-off on Cupcake Combat, everything Kat ever wanted is suddenly dangled in front of her: creative license as a baker, recognition as a visionary . . . and a job at a famous bakery in New York.

As the competition heats up, Lucas realizes he might have made a huge mistake. As much as he wants the best for Kat, the only thing he wants for himself—her—is suddenly in danger of slipping away.

The bright lights of reality cooking wars and the chance at a successful career dazzle Kat’s senses and Lucas is faced with a difficult choice: help his friend achieve her dreams . . . or sabotage her chances to keep her in Louisiana.

My Thoughts

I really loved this book. The beautiful cover drew me in, and the story held me there. The characters were likable and believable — though, as with most romances, I sometimes wanted to shake sense into the characters when they got into arguments. :) I really LOVED the unique spin to this book: an aspiring cupcake artist competes on a reality TV show and brings along her guy friend (who she’s also in love with) as an assistant. How many books like that are out there? I think that was part of the appeal of this book: the setting was unique, so I didn’t feel as if I were reading the same, tired story.

The story had a satisfying ending, and though I kept trying to predict how it would turn out, it was strong enough to keep me guessing. :) The only thing I thought could have been better was toward the end, there was a lot of internal dialogue and thinking, and I found myself skimming just a little.

Such a great book! For those familiar with Becky Wade, if you love her books, you’ll love this one as well.

I give this book 4.5 stars.

Please know that ratings from 3.5 to 4.5 are good. I rarely rate a book a 5 as that wouldn’t leave a sufficient rating for those mind-blowingly great books that come along from time to time!

In compliance with regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, please know that the publicist, on behalf of the author and publisher, has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Visit Betsy’s website.
Visit the Blog Tour Page.
Follow Betsy on Twitter and Facebook.
Purchase a copy.

About the Author

Betsy St. Amant, Author of All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes

Betsy St. Amant lives in Louisiana with her young daughter and has a heart for sharing the amazing news of God’s grace through her novels. A freelance journalist, Betsy is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. When she’s not reading, writing, or singing along to a Disney soundtrack with her daughter, Betsy enjoys inspirational speaking and teaching on the craft of writing.

GIVEAWAY:

Don’t miss Betsy St. Amant’s latest fiction release, All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes. A “sweet” tale of two best friends and the choices they make between dreams and a possible “sure thing,” St. Amant’s novel is sure to satisfy your romantic-fiction craving.

cupcakes-400-click

Betsy is celebrating with a fun Kindle giveaway and a Love & Cupcakes Facebook party!
One winner will receive:

  • A brand new Kindle
  • All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes by Betsy St. Amant

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on September 18th. Winner will be announced at the Love & Cupcakes” Author Chat Party on 9/18. Betsy will be hosting a “sweet” book chat, giving away prizes, and answering questions from readers. She will also share an exclusive sneak peek at her next book project!

 
So grab your copy of All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes and join Betsy on the evening of September 18th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven’t read the book, don’t let that stop you from coming!)


Don’t miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 18th!


“Before Amen” by Max Lucado — iPad Mini Giveaway

Posted on

Prayer is simply a heartfelt conversation between God and his child. In Before Amen, best-selling author Max Lucado joins readers on a journey to the very heart of biblical prayer, offering hope for doubts, and confidence even for prayer wimps. Let the conversation begin.
Be sure to enter the Before Amen iPad Mini giveaway. AND if you pre-order a copy of Before Amen by 9/29, you’ll receive a FREE ebook copy of Max’s best-selling Second Chances: More Stories of Grace.

beforeamen-400-click

One grand prize winner will receive:

  • An iPad Mini
  • Before Amen by Max Lucado

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on September 29th. Winner will be announced September 30th on the Litfuse blog.


Don’t miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to visit the Litfuse blog on the 30th to see if you won! (Or better yet, subscribe to their blog and have the winner announcement delivered to your inbox!)


“Treasury of Bible Stories: Rhythmical Rhymes of Biblical Times” by Kelly Pulley — Review & Giveaway!

Posted on

Treasury of Bible Stories Review & GIVEAWAY!

About the Book:

Featuring lyrical stories that will make you laugh, this colorful collection is perfect for reading out loud. Magnificent Tales are rhyming Bible stories with clever art and clear lessons the whole family will enjoy. The stories and illustrations are so engaging that you won’t grow tired of reading a Magnificent Tale night after night! From “The Salty Tale of Noah’s Ark” to “The Lasting Story of the Last Supper,” the rhyming tales in this book remind us that God loves His people — in the Bible and today! 

Treasury of Bible Stories

My Thoughts

I love Bible story books. Growing up, I learned more about the Bible at home than in Sunday school. That’s just where my mother’s priorities were. As an adult, I actively try to think of ways to provide the same privilege to my son. That being said, I was excited to be get the opportunity to review this high-quality book of rhyming Bible stories by Kelly Pulley.

Kelly Pulley’s work has been compared to Dr. Suess’s, and I can see why. My first impression upon reading the first few pages was that it must have taken a lot of time (and talent) to write and illustrate this book. The stories rhyme almost flawlessly. They are accurate. They contain just the right amount of detail. They even cause the occasional chuckle. I love the gorgeous illustrations, which I imagine also took much time and effort. (The writer in me thinks about these things.)  :-)

The target age for this book is 4 to 8, though my 2-year-old son is in a phase where he enjoys books with a rhyming lilt — which made this book a good fit for him. He liked the colorful illustrations (and the idea of Mommy reading to him in general).

Here’s a picture of the 351-page book to help you get an idea of its thickness:

Treasury of Bible Stories Giveaway

And here are a few examples of how the pages and illustrations look (sorry I couldn’t get better ones with my phone):

Treasury of Bible Stories GIVEAWAY

Treasury of Bible Stories

I totally recommend this book for parents with children up to eight years old. If you’d like to purchase a copy of this book, you can buy it on Amazon here. (Or scroll down for a chance to enter the giveaway!)

About the Author

Treasury of Bible Stories Review and GIVEAWAY!

Kelly Pulley has illustrated dozens of book in The Beginner’s Bible series and has authored and illustrated several other children’s books, including Ten Unusual Features of Lulu McDunn and The Cycling Wangdoos. He enjoys spending time with his four grown children and his beautiful wife, Vickie, in the Nashville area.

Now for the fun part!

I have an extra copy of this book to give away!

If you are interested in winning Magnificent Tales Treasury of Bible Stories, please use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. You will be notified by email if you win. Drawing is Friday, September 12th.

Please let me know if you have any questions about using the Rafflecopter form. You must have a valid email address to enter. Your email address will not be used in any way except to notify you if you win. I do not collect or retain email addresses. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and are NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.


Book Review: Grammar Girl’s Tips for Better Writing — Grammar Helps by Mignon Fogarty

Posted on

Grammar Girl's Grammar Book Review

The Book

Online sensation Grammar Girl makes grammar fun and easy in this New York Times bestseller

Are you stumped by split infinitives? Terrified of using “who” when a “whom” is called for? Do you avoid the words “affect” and “effect” altogether?

Grammar Girl is here to help!

Mignon Fogarty, a.k.a. Grammar Girl, is determined to wipe out bad grammar—but she’s also determined to make the process as painless as possible. A couple of years ago, she created a weekly podcast to tackle some of the most common mistakes people make while communicating. The podcasts have now been downloaded more than twenty million times, and Mignon has dispensed grammar tips on Oprah and appeared on the pages of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and USA Today.

Written with the wit, warmth, and accessibility that the podcasts are known for, Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing covers the grammar rules and word-choice guidelines that can confound even the best writers. From “between vs. among” and “although vs. while” to comma splices and misplaced modifiers, Mignon offers memory tricks and clear explanations that will help readers recall and apply those troublesome grammar rules. Chock-full of tips on style, business writing, and effective e-mailing, Grammar Girl’s print debut deserves a spot on every communicator’s desk.

My Thoughts

The full title of this book is actually Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing. I’ve known of Mignon Fogarty (aka Grammar Girl) for a long time, so I wasn’t worried about the content of this book, but I didn’t want anyone who is not familiar with her to read the title and get the wrong idea of the kinds of material I’ve been reading. :)

Other than the unfortunate sound of the title, this is a GREAT grammar and writing book. If I could choose only one grammar book to have on hand, I’d choose this one, even over Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style. It’s thorough and it’s easy (and fun) to read. Mignon’s writing style is personable, friendly, charming, relevant . . . Anymore adjectives I should throw in there?

I’m so glad I got my hands on a copy of this great book. I’ve already referenced it several times. (I can never keep the rules for “who” and “whom” straight in my head!)

A plus is that this book covers many questions that have risen in the age of the Internet regarding citing websites, capitalizing special words, and much more. I totally recommend this book to any student or writer!

I give this book 5 stars.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Visit Grammar Girl on the Web.
Follow Mignon on Twitter.
Purchase a copy on Amazon.

About the Author

Grammar Girl

Mignon Fogarty is the creator of Grammar Girl and founder of the Quick and Dirty Tips Network. A technical writer and entrepreneur, she has served as an editor and producer at a number of health and science Web sites. She has a B.A. in English from the University of Washington in Seattle and an M.S. in biology from Stanford University. She lives in Reno, Nevada.


August Wedding Posts

Posted on

For those interested, here are the wedding posts I wrote for Dainty Jewell’s this month! (I’ve decided to send out one post at the end of the month rather than posting links to them weekly.) Enjoy!

August's Dainty Jewell's Wedding Posts

1. Popular Purple

2. Choosing the Perfect Wedding Dress

3. White Pumpkin Wedding Ideas

4. Pink & Blue, Tranquil & Feminine

 


Odyssey Adventure Club iPad Mini Giveaway!

Posted on
oacaugust-400

The end of summer is in sight, and OAC is giving away an iPad Mini back-to-school bundle!
It might seem like summer just began for your kids, so if they need some added motivation to get their homework done, remind them they can jump on the Odyssey Adventure Club after their papers are written and their math problems are solved.

As members, your kids can also listen to Album 58 before the album is released to the public! Sign up today for just $5!

Here’s what part one is about (which you can listen to for free HERE):

It’s a time of surprises as Wooton becomes the celebrity guest at Comic-Connellsville and Whit finds himself in conflict over the upcoming “Let’s Get Together Festival” in Odyssey. Plus, hear an interview with writer-director Paul McCusker about the entire 14-part series.

Album 58 was inspired by Focus on the Family’s The Family Project, a 12-session small group experience that explores the theological, philosophical, and cultural underpinnings of the traditional family, and combines that information with inspiring stories and practical tools to help 21st-century families thrive.
Plus, here’s a sneak peek of a new episode called “The Lone Lawman”!

LoneLawman_Final 2

Jason, Whit, Red and the gang rustle up herds of fun while performing a new Kids’ Radio show set in the Old West. “The Lone Lawman” features a confused boy getting mixed up with a shifty band of bank robbers. Can a hero on horseback set things right? See just how wild the West can get in this action-packed send-up of old-time radio dramas.

NOW . . . on to the iPad Mini back-to-school bundle.
One grand prize winner will receive:

  • An iPad Mini

Hurry, the giveaway ends on August 27th. All winners will be announced August 28th on the widget on this page.


Don’t miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to visit this page again on the 28th to see if you won! (You’ll see the winner’s name in the widget.)


White Pumpkin Wedding Ideas

Posted on

White Pumpkin Wedding Ideas

I realize that my blog has become quite the hodgepodge! I’ve debated whether or not I should continue linking to my weekly posts at Dainty Jewell’s. Since the majority of my readers are women, I’ve decided there may be enough interest in weddings to share these links (for now) without it becoming annoying. :) So if you’re interested in ideas for using white pumpkins in weddings, feel free to check out my post here:

White Pumpkin Wedding Ideas


Book Review: “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens” by Sean Covey

Posted on

7 Habits Highly Effective Teens

The Book

Being a teenager is both wonderful and challenging. In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens, author Sean Covey applies the timeless principles of the 7 Habits to teens and the tough issues and life-changing decisions they face. In an entertaining style, Covey provides a step-by-step guide to help teens improve self-image, build friendships, resist peer pressure, achieve their goals, get along with their parents, and much more. In addition, this book is stuffed with cartoons, clever ideas, great quotes, and incredible stories about real teens from all over the world. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens will engage teenagers unlike any other book.

An indispensable book for teens, as well as parents, grandparents, and any adult who influences young people, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens is destined to become the last word on surviving and thriving as a teen and beyond.

My Thoughts

This was SUCH a great book. I read it in preparation for writing a Bible curriculum series about choices, and I ended up being just as inspired as I hope the teens who go through my series will be! :) I can’t say enough good about this book. To me, the first half in particular was superb. The book is divided into four parts:

Part One: How habits make or break you and the importance of making principle-governed choices
Part Two: Being proactive, controlling your destiny so no one else will, and having will- and “won’t-” power
Part Three: Handling relationships and seeking to understand others
Part Four: “Sharpening the saw” — renewing yourself

One thing that made this book so great was how fun it was to read. The many, many stories were interesting and inspiring, and the quotes, poems, and graphics interspersed throughout the book made it an intriguing read. I wish I’d read this book as a teenager! Maybe it would have helped me use better sense in some of my decisions…

On Amazon, 303 out of 500 reviews were 5-star. I skimmed through some of the lower ratings, and people mostly said that this book was all common sense, or that it didn’t contain any miraculous revelations. That’s true — yet, to me, this book contained the kind of common sense many Americans don’t have — or don’t choose to use. The more good stuff you put in your mind, the more good will be reflected in your life. So to me, even if some of the content is common sense, mindfully choosing to dwell on how to be a better, more fulfilled person will ultimately yield those results.

This book is not a “Christian” book, but I believe God would be pleased if we would all try to live by the principles outlined in it since they agree with the Bible.

There was only one aspect I didn’t like about the book, and that was in the chapter on synergy. It inferred that no one faith is the “only” way, and of course, as a Christian, I believe that Jesus is the only way.

All in all, awesome book! I totally recommend. I would love to read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and The 7 Habits of Happy Kids.

I give this book 5 stars.

Please know that ratings from 3.5 to 4.5 are good. I rarely rate a book a 5 as that wouldn’t leave a sufficient rating for those mind-blowingly great books that come along from time to time!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Visit Sean Covey’s website.
Follow Sean on Twitter.
Purchase a copy on Amazon.

About the Author

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens

Sean Covey is Senior Vice President of Innovations and Products at FranklinCovey, a world-renowned organization devoted to helping individuals and organizations achieve greatness. Sean graduated from BYU with a degree in English and later earned his M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. As the starting quarterback for BYU, he led his team to two bowl games and received numerous honors. He is the author of Fourth Down and Life to GoThe 6 Most Important Decisions You’ll Ever Make, and the international bestseller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens, which has sold over three million copies and was translated into more than fifteen languages. He is a popular speaker to youth and adult groups on topics such as leadership.

Sean’s favorite things include going to movies, eating Mexican food, writing, producing short films, playing with his kids, riding his motorcycle, reading The Far Side comics, and shooting paintballs. He adheres to the common saying, “You’re only young once, but you can be immature forever.” He and his wife, Rebecca, live with their kids in the Rocky Mountains.


Pink and Blue Weddings: Tranquil and Feminine

Posted on

This post originally appeared on the Dainty Jewell’s blog. Enjoy!

This week is my seven-year wedding anniversary, so I’ve been reminiscing about my wedding a lot. One thing I regret is that I didn’t put more thought into my color scheme. (To be honest, I pretty much went with the first idea that popped into my head.)

At the time, I probably wouldn’t have considered a pink-blue theme, but here lately, I’ve fallen in LOVE with this color combo.

Pink and Blue Weddings

WeddingBee.com

Pink and blue is a sweet mix of femininity and tranquility. A wide range of pink and blue hues makes for gorgeous color-combination possibilities. You can use pink and blue evenly in your wedding or lean more toward one color, using the other solely for accents.

Pink and Blue Weddings

Feather and Stone Photography

In contrast to the first photo, this one shows the bride’s choice of a warm shade of pink accented with periwinkle blue.

While pink-and-blue schemes tend to evoke feelings of springtime or early summer, a little tweaking can give them a late-summer-early-autumn feel. Check out this beautiful inspiration board:

Pink Blue Inspiration Board 3

Call Me Cupcake /Men of Habit / Caroline Tran Photographer via Style Me Pretty / thesweetestoccasion.com

So pretty – and the colors are more reminiscent of autumn hayrides than of spring flowers.

In addition to the tweed suit above, I love this groom’s soft blue suit:

Pink and Blue Weddings

Jana Williams Photography via GreenWeddingShoes.com

If you’re looking for ways to incorporate extra pops of your wedding colors, consider the unconventional: The bride below used a cotton-candy-pink toile petticoat under her dress. It looks great for photos! (If you love this petticoat – for you or for your bridesmaids – you can find it here at www.modcloth.com.)

Pink and Blue Weddings

Tiffany Hughes Photography via ruffledblog.com

It’s said that the colors you choose for your wedding say something about your personality. Blue denotes a patient, well-balanced, and tranquil bride. The shade of blue she chooses shows whether she is introspective (e.g., pale blue) or an extrovert (e.g., aqua). Brides that go pink tend to be compassionate, sweet, and feminine. According to lover.ly, blush pink is currently their most highly searched wedding color.

I was first drawn to pink and blue after seeing this wedding where the gorgeous bride used Dainty Jewell’s popular “A Night in Paris” dress for her bridesmaids. Beautiful!

Pink and Blue Weddings

Photos by Courtney

Even if you’re not a fan of pink and blue, I hope we’ve given you a little inspiration today. :)

Until next week!

~Jennifer~

 

 


5-Book Christian Book Giveaway

Posted on

5-Book Christian Book Giveaway

I realize that the only posts I’ve added to my blog in weeks have been related to my Dainty Jewell’s posts or to giveaways, but I’ve been pushing myself hard to meet writing deadlines! I haven’t had as much time to keep up with my blog as I’d like . . . The good news is I’m still trying to read when I can, and as I finish books, that often means giveaways! I have overly crowded shelves, so I’m giving away FIVE books (in good to very good condition) to a lucky winner.

As usual, use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. Because of postage costs, I can only mail to addresses within the United States. Your email address will be used ONLY to contact you if you win; I never store, collect, or spam email addresses.

If you or the children in your life like VeggieTales, don’t miss this giveaway also going on here on my blog until August 11!

I hope everyone’s having a great summer!

RAFFLECOPTER TIP: If you “like” WordSmith on Facebook and the Rafflecopter form asks for your Facebook profile URL, it’s referring to what shows at the top of your screen when you’re in your Facebook profile. For example, www.facebook.com/jennismith1983. The Facebook URL is used to verify that you’ve done what you said you’ve done. :) If all else fails, just enter your name. 

UPDATE: Congratulations to Elizabeth Landes for winning this giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway