Saturday, July 31, 2010

Look! Another CSN Store Giveaway!

CSN has made me a Preferred Blogger, which means more reviews and giveaways for my readers, yay! To celebrate, I "window-shopped" across a few of the CSN Stores, perusing the most expensive items for when I hit that winning jackpot ("When you wish upon a star..." ...too much Pinocchio with my three year old). I looked at random things like bedroom furniture sets, such as this throne of a bed on the left and a gorgeous bunk bed perfect for my two girls on the right.

Then I checked out one of CSN's newest addition to its list of stores, Luxe by CSN, and found the mother of all red heels. Now if only I had a dress to match those beauties.

I forced myself away from that page over to All Modern and discovered a dining set fit for a black-tie event. The name alone says it all - "Black Ice Platinum" - what's not to love?
So to complete my perusal, I headed over to Cookware and found a dinnerware set fit for a formal dinner service in gold and black. I feel richer just looking at these images, how about you?





Giveaway

So, anyways, you're reading this because you want the giveaway, right? (Stop rambling, Rachel, and get to the point!) Right! All you need to do is make sure you are a follower of JacobsBeloved and enter your information into the form below. One person will be randomly selected using random.org and awarded a $40 gift certificate to CSN Stores. Please bear in mind that the gift certificate will not cover any international shipping charges to Canada. This giveaway ends on Friday August 13th. So to recap:
 Rules for Entering:
1. You MUST be follower of this blog through Google Friend Connect, E-Mail Subscription, or RSS Feed.
2. This contest is open to USA and Canada only!
3. You MUST complete the form below - do not leave information in the comments - it will not count!
4. The contest will end on August 13, 2010; 1 winner will be selected and announced thereafter.
5. CSN Stores will contact the winner with the code for the gift certificate then.

This Contest is Now CLOSED.






Friday, July 30, 2010

Hop Around the Blog-o-verse


It's Friday, which means the Book Blogger Hop at Crazy For Books. So welcome to all of my new visitors and followers, take a look around and enjoy your stay. Catch up on my latest reviews of the books Never Let You Go by Erin Healy and She Walks in Beauty by Siri Mitchell. Check out what I won from Penguin Canada and stay tuned for an upcoming post regarding a CSN Store giveaway!

Weekly Question: Who is your favorite new-to-you author so far this year?

My Response: I would have to say the auther of Hush, Hush Becca Fitzpatrick. I just loved that book and I am eagerly hunting for any contest I can find to win myself a pre-order copy or ARC of Crescendo, the sequel to Hush, Hush. Here is my review of Hush, Hush.

These are the blogs I have discovered through the Hop:
1. 21 Pages
2. Books From Bleh to Basically Amazing
3. Books by Their Story
4. The Norwegian Book Girl
5. Super Librarian


Review: Never Let You Go by Erin Healy

Never Let You Go
Book Details:
Never Let You Go
by Erin Healy
Genre: Christian Fiction
Published May 2010, Thomas Nelson
Paperback, 339 pages
ISBN: 9781595547507


Synopsis:
Losing everything has Lexi clinging to her daughter. Hell is determined to loosen her grip.
It's been seven years since disaster struck her family. Lexi Solomon has held it all together since then--just barely.
But now Lexi is losing it. The husband who deserted her is back in town, wanting to see their daughter Molly. Her sister's shameless murderer is up for parole. An unsavory old friend is demanding payment for debts that Lexi knows nothing about and can't begin to meet.
And something else is going on--something Lexi feels but can't explain. A dangerous shift is taking place between this reality and the next. Forces beyond her imagination are vying for control.
A rare novel that will satisfy a wide range of readers, Never Let You Go explores the high-stakes decisions played out in the thin spaces between heaven and earth. As the enemy's grip tightens around Lexi, she will have to decide what's truly worth holding on to.
I was originally drawn to this book because it was about a mother fighting for her daughter. As a mother of two young daughters who has already been through quite a bit of fighting for them, I can relate. Once I got into the book, I was a bit put off partly because I was introduced to too many characters so soon into the plot and a lack of unique characterization made it difficult for me to keep up with the plot (and this is coming from someone who has read Sara Douglass). A second reason was that it somewhat reminded me of another book I read recently with the meth theme. Drugs are just not something that I purposely want to read about in my fiction. The only thing that really kept me reading was Lexi's relationship with her daughter, Molly. Along the way, I discovered that there actually is a fantasy-like aspect to the book that is difficult to see for at least half the book. This is probably as close as you can get to the fantasy genre without actually qualifying for the classification. I so badly wanted the book to come "out with it" over the supernatural aspect that I flew through the rest of the book. The ending was mostly satisfying in that the bad guy gets his just desserts and all the lose ends are tied up appropriately, but my fantasy-loving side wanted a more fantastical intervention than what actually occurred. At times, the plot felt like a soap-opera, with Lexi's affair and two other characters being convicts, as well as Ward's constant harrassments and almost reality-defying omnipresence. I would describe the book as high-intensity suspense combined with overdramatic reality and a dash of supernatural.

The Cover: The artistic aspects of the cover are fantastic. Even though I have no idea what the relevance of the picture is to the actual plot, I don't care because it's just that cool.

First Line: "For seven years, Lexi Solomon had been as cold as the wind that raced down the mountain above her home."
This is a beautiful simile for the opening line, even as it describes such a terrible situation. A great metaphor will always keep me reading.

Favorite Quote: "Listen to love, which keeps no record of wrongs. Choose love, and it will save you even now."




Read For: Pages Read Challenge

*I received this book free of charge from the publisher for review purposes.*

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Never Let You Go

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

1. Grab your current read.
2. Open to a random page.
3. Share two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.
4. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!).
5. Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!


My Teaser:
Never Let You Go
Scrubbing toilets at a facility where most of the people who use them had lost their minds wasn't the career Grant aspired to. He'd been in prison-based detox centers that required less elbow grease. But it was work.
And work was what Grant needed, especially after his disastrous weekend. If he couldn't come here, God only knew where he'd be, and what he'd be doing. So he tried to drum up some gratitude in spite of the voice in his head that said he belonged here among the mindless droolers. - pg. 177, Never Let You Go by Erin Healy






What are you reading this week?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Review: She Walks in Beauty by Siri Mitchell

She Walks in Beauty
Book Details:
She Walks in Beauty
by Siri Mitchell
Genre: Christian Fiction
Published 2010, Bethany House
Paperback, 395 pages
ISBN: 9780764204333

Synopsis:
For a young society woman seeking a favorable marriage in the late 1890s, so much depends on her social season debut. Clara Carter has been given one goal: secure the affections of the city's most eligible bachelor. Debuting means plenty of work--there are corsets to be fitted, dances to master, manners to perfect. Her training soon pays off, however, as celebrity's spotlight turns Clara into a society-page darling. Yet Clara wonders if this is the life she really wants, especially when she learns her best friend has also set her sights on Franklin De Vries. When a man appears who seems to love her simply for who she is, and gossip backlash turns ugly, Clara realizes it's not just her heart at stake--the future of her family depends on how she plays the game.
I knew next to nothing about New York City's gilded age before reading this book, so this was both a history lesson and an eye-opener to the practices of that time period, expecially among the wealthy young women. I had no idea of the extent that corsets were damaging to the body and health of a woman, and it really explains much of the female behavior that has been epitomized in Hollywood's classic films, such as the common fainting spells. It shows that the "modern" world really has not changed very much in regards to the demands put on women to look and act a certain way to be regarded as attractive. The similarities between Hollywood and the Gilded Age are both remarkable and quite sad, from the encouragement of anorexia and the overindulgence of luxury to how the popularity of an individual can be solely determined by the words of the press.
I did enjoy following Clara's rise to fame and infamy, even if the glamour and mystery of it was stripped away, so to speak. The Christian themes of God loving you just as you are and having a purpose beyond the practices of "society" seemed muted and understated throughout the book, but rather than detracting from the plot, it only seemed to enhance it. While I have been under the impression that books that fall in this genre of Christian Fiction should focus mostly on some Christian theme, this particular book did not seem to. The focus seemed more on revealing the truth about what really happened in New York City's Gilded Age through the eyes of a debutante.

The Cover: This book I actually picked specifically because I loved both the cover and the title. The dress Clara is wearing is just gorgeous, which the back cover further embellishes. It even reminds me of the famous yellow gown that Belle wears in Disney's Beauty and the Beast, a favorite of mine.

First Line: "Get dressed, Clara. In your visiting costume. We are going out."
While it gives the name of the main character and gives a hint to the formalities of the era, I still find this opening rather boring and uneventful.

Favorite Quote: "Even elderly spinsters, especially elderly spinsters, seem to have a deep and abiding, if secret, affinity for true love."




Read For: Pages Read Challenge, Celebrate the Author Challenge

*I received this book free of charge from the publisher for review purposes.*

Sunday, July 25, 2010

For The Bookworm Who Has Everything


For the Love of Books is my very own weekly Sunday meme dedicated to the wacky, weird, and wild world-wide-web finds related to the world of books. Topics can be anything ranging from unique bookcases, sculptures of books, and odd bookstores, to interesting uses for books, book quotes, bits of book news, etc. I love web-surfing and I have come across so many ideas that the possibities for this meme are nearly endless! If you would like to join in the fun, snag the image on the left and post the link your specific blog post in comments so that others can read about your internet find!

Don't feel like sitting up to read your books? Get the Supine Reading Glasses! These glasses use optical-quality glass prisms to bend your vision 90° to allow the reader to read while lying down.

Move over ereader, television was here first! Don't like bothering with your old-fashioned book and want something more modern? Get the Wireless Page to TV Magnifier! Fashioned after a computer mouse, this device "scans written materials and sends them wirelessly to your television set in real time, magnifying them up to 28X for easy viewing of fine print."




Hands too tired to flip those pesky pages, wish you had your own personal servant to hold the book for you? Get the Infinitely Adjustable Reading Valet! This hands-free bookstand "telescopes, tilts, yaws, and swivels 360ยบ to allow countless hands-free reading positions."




Frustrated with those clip-on booklights that just don't cooperate with your reading style? Get the Hands Free Over Ear Booklight! Fashioned after the Blue-Tooth device, "this book light rests gently on your ear instead of precariously on your book." The LED provides 100,000 hours of light without heating up and requires one AAA battery.






Personally, I like the booklight. Which of these do you wish for?


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Winner Takes It All

So I don't really consider myself that "lucky" when it comes to winning things in those random-draw-style contests. In my 8 months of blogging I have probably entered over 300 random draw contests, mostly for books, and I have won three actual books, and a few ebooks, thanks to LibraryThing and Goodreads. That's never really stopped me from entering just about every contest that I would be remotely interested in, in the hopes of that incredibly small chance of winning the prize. So when I got the email from Penguin Canada that I had won the entire set of the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead, the high-pitched squeal I emitted stopped my family in their tracks, followed by repetitions of "No way" and "I can't believe it", before I was able to coherently inform my husband of my prize. I have read lots of good reivews about the series, but I had yet to read any of the books for myself. When I got back from my camping vacation yesterday, my box of books was waiting for me at the post office. What a nice coming-home present!



So the moral of the story is enter, enter, enter those contests, because you just might win!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: She Walks in Beauty

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

1. Grab your current read.
2. Open to a random page.
3. Share two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.
4. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!).
5. Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!


My Teaser:
She Walks in Beauty
The house gown I was helped into was a close-fitting and rather stifling. Made from a rose-colored wool, its high neck was encased in lace that ended in a point below my throat. The puffed sleeves fell straight and free to my forearms, where they had been caught up with more lace descending to my wrists. The bodice clung to my corset cover and then eased over my hips and fell straight to the floor. I was encased. Completely. From head to toe. But still, my form was revealed in all its curvaceous glory.
I looked nothing like myself.
And I rather liked the image. The girl in the mirror before me looked as if she belonged in society circles. The girl in the mirror was the definition of elegance, grace, and charm. She would know how to dance; she would know how to converse. A room filled with strangers would never send her fleeing to her bedroom for refuge.
I only wish I felt the same way she looked. - pgs. 79-80, She Walks in Beauty by Siri Mitchell



What are you reading this week?



Sunday, July 18, 2010

Plant a Book


For the Love of Books is my very own weekly Sunday meme dedicated to the wacky, weird, and wild world-wide-web finds related to the world of books. Topics can be anything ranging from unique bookcases, sculptures of books, and odd bookstores, to interesting uses for books, book quotes, bits of book news, etc. I love web-surfing and I have come across so many ideas that the possibities for this meme are nearly endless! If you would like to join in the fun, snag the image on the left and post the link your specific blog post in comments so that others can read about your internet find!

I found a great idea for combining a green thumb (which I personally lack) with a love of books in the Book Planter! This Home and Gardening site explains how you can transforming a large book into a planter with just a simple cutting tool to make a hole with. It is a great way to display small, unique plants such as the Bonsai Tree and would make a great conversation piece for any household.


I am constantly being amazed at the number of uses for books that people can concieve of. It only further proves that no book, no matter how useless, outdated, or even controversial, should be burned. It is simply asking to be reimagined as something else more useful.




Don't you agree?


Friday, July 16, 2010

Review: Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1)
Book Details:
The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1)
by Rick Riordan
Genre: Young Adult
Published 2005, Hyperion Books For Children
Hardback, 375 pages
ISBN: 0786856297

Synopsis:
Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school...again. And that's the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy's Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he's angered a few of them. Zeus's master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.
Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus's stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.
With cover art from the major motion picture, this first installment of Rick Riordan's best-selling series is a non-stop thrill-ride and a classic of mythic proportions.
I decided to read this partly because I had just seen the movie and partly because I heard that it was a good series for fans of the Harry Potter series. Well, in regards to the movie, it's appalling how much the producers changed the book's plot to make the movie. If they make a second movie, I likely will not be interested, as I much more prefer the book's plot. In regards to the book's similarities to Harry Potter, they are vast, but really, who wouldn't aim to write something as popular and complex as the Harry Potter series? J.K. Rowling owns a castle! So, on to the actual book.
Years ago I thought that writing a fantasy series that uses Greek mythology would be a great idea, so I was excited when I heard of the Percy Jackson series. I love the modernized spin on the various good and bad characters, bringing them to life in both creative and believeable ways, such as Ares on a Harley and "Mr." Charon wearing Italian suits. The "Gods" of mythology at times seemed more like immature teenagers or work-aholic parents, with as much flaws as any normal human, and I really appreciated that they were differentiated from The GOD early on, and their place in the known universe was explained in the context of Percy's world. I especially like the scene of Hephaestus' trap that Percy and Annabeth get caught in. How the "normal" humans explained away the activities of the mythological characters was probably the most creative of the whole text, and at times rather humorous. It actually makes me wonder how much of what I see everyday is only a cover for what is really happening in the spiritual realm.
The only element that really bugged me about the text was how Percy changed from this moody, victimized pre-teen to a rather mature young man with almost no transition - emotional or otherwise. It almost felt like Percy possessed two different personalities that shared the same body. While Percy often says that he did not want to be the son of Poseidon, I found evidence of inner termoil strangely absent throughout the text.  I also felt that there were smaller issues that could have been more detailed and developed, such as the characters of Grover and Annabeth. I will be continuing the series with The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 2) in the near future.

The Cover: I like this cover because it gives very recognizeable (at least to me) images straight out of Greek mythology - Medusa, Cerberus, and the Minotaur. I knew this book would be great for me because I have always loved the stories from Greek mythology.

First Line: "Look, I didn't want to be a half-blood."
First thought passing through my mind... Harry Potter anyone? But since I had already seen the movie, and the library was closed for renovations for three weeks, I vowed to reserve prejudice on the book until I had read it through.

Favorite Quote: "Deadlines just aren't real to me until I'm staring one in the face."



Read For: Pages Read Challenge, Support Your Local Library Challenge, Fantasy Challenge, 1st in a Series Challenge
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