Friday, April 18, 2014

Quote of the Week

“Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life”
-Mark Twain

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Read For My Summer

Read For My Summer

Sign up now for Read for My Summer!

 Read for My Summer

Summer is just around the corner, and we’re excited to be getting ready for this year’s Read for My Summer program! We Give Books’ Read for My Summer is your chance to share books and celebrate literacy with the young readers in your life, all summer long. Ideal for kids up to age 10, this free, ten-week program highlights special books for you and your child to read online from the We Give Books library every week, along with fun interactive tools and activities to make each book come to life. You can sign up now to receive a notification when Read for My Summer kicks off!
We are also nearing three million books read at We Give Books! To celebrate this milestone, we are offering a special prize pack to the reader who completes the three millionth book. Read a book and help us reach three million books read at We Give Books today! 

Born Confussed


A new paperback edition of the cross-cultural comedy about finding your place in America . . . and finding your heart wherever, from an amazing new young author.

Dimple Lala doesn't know what to think. She's spent her whole life resisting her parents' traditions. But now she's turning seventeen and things are more complicated than ever. She's still recovering from a year-old break-up and her best friend isn't around the way she used to be. Then, to make matters worse, her parents arrange for her to meet a "suitable boy." Of course, it doesn't go well . . . until Dimple goes to a club and finds him spinning a magical web of words and music. Suddenly the suitable boy is suitable because of his sheer unsuitability. Complications ensue.

This is a story about finding yourself, finding your friends, finding love, and finding your culture -- sometimes where you least expect it.

~My Impressions~

Wonderful book of a typical American teenager who wants to be heard, seen, free from parental restrictions and "normal." I was really worried that this book might harbor inside alot to typical stereotypes, but I was wrong. The book focuses on the story of Dimple Lala, American born but with deep Indian roots that her family expects her to hold onto. Dimple Lala is the typical  confused  17-year-old girl from Jersey that is obsessed with her weight and the boy she broke up with. The story focuses on how Dimple tries to find her identity while dealing with how her culture affects her relationship while she is trying to become her own person. 

Overall the book was great. There were really only 2 thing I did not like. One was how the author felt the need to explain everything South Asian to the reader in detail, often over explaining. It got old real quick and took away from the story and characters. The other thing I did not enjoy was the way the author breezed over some of the characters development such as Karsh and Radha while going overboard with the main characters. I felt some more time could have been giving to Karsh and Rahha that would have given them life and made the reader connect with them better. Outside of this the book was and enjoyable read.

I think what I enjoyed most about this book was how relatable it is for young girls who are searching for themselves. Its real. Its not the best plot or story line, but what makes this book enjoyable is how you can relate to what Dimple and the other characters are feelings,and going through, and to me that makes and breaks a book designed for children.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book/Ebook/Product to review from NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press (April 8, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385736800
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385736800


An unforgettable epic romantic thriller about a girl from the future who might be able to save the world . . . if she lets go of the one thing she’s found to hold on to.
Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love.

This is the story of seventeen-year-old Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twelve. Except Prenna didn’t come from a different country. She came from a different time—a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins.

Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they’re from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she’s told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth.

But everything changes when Prenna falls for Ethan Jarves.

From Ann Brashares, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, The Here and Now is thrilling, exhilarating, haunting, and heartbreaking—and a must-read novel of the year.

~My Impressions~

I did not read The Traveling pants so this is the first book I've read by Ann Brashares. I am also not much for books on time travel, but this one was amazing. I really enjoyed the multiple stories going on and watching the connections.  Then I hear there is a talk of making this wonderful book into a movie and I get super stoked. I have read alot of really bad reviews on this book, but I simply do not agree with them.I think they might be falling to relate to the audience this book was wrote for. Kids in grades 7 and up are not really going to care about all the science behind the time travel or if the disease is easily curable in real life. They like the story line, the plot twists, the relationships. They enjoy the journey of the book and the what if it brings to life.  This was a well wrote and executed book that I know me and my 3 teens (16, 14, 19) loved.

The characters are lively, well developed and full of life. I liked the realtionship between Ethan and Prenna. It's real. For anyone with teenagers you know they fall in  love in a matter of seconds and its heart wrenching for them when they cannot be together. It makes no sense, but then again who cares. Ethan fell in love with Prenna the moment he saw her and his life was forever changed. I appreciated that the author mentions the sexual attractions and desires but that they are both mature enough not to act on them. In a book wrote for young teens I think they can relate the feelings that Ethan and Prenna have for each other, but also relate to the obstacles that can stand in the way of acting on those feelings and being responsible instead of impulsive.

I for one cannot wait for her next book and the journey it will take us on.

My Links:
Goodreads Review
Amazon Review

~About the Author~

Ann Brashares is the bestselling author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, The Second Summer of the Sisterhood, Girls in Pants, Forever in Blue, The Last Summer (of You and Me), and My Name is Memory.

Disclaimer: I received this ebook from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Fix by Force

 *Warning: This book does have mild profanity, drug use and alcohol use included*
  • File Size: 331 KB
  • Print Length: 188 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: WestBowPress (March 28, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007QFI4TG
~About the Book~
Spencer doesn’t have a choice.He can't choose to be different than what he is—the son of the town's worst enemy, the weakling who can't stand up for himself, the loser without friends.He can't change the way things are.Or maybe he can.Immediate confidence.Rapid change.Instant hope.These are the things Spencer believes he needs to fix his life, and that is what the steroids promise—a quick fix.But promises can be broken and shortcuts are often treacherous, and Spencer must decide if those risks are worth the perceived rewards—if “artificial” hope is strong enough for him to be fixed, by force.

~My Impressions~
I first wanted to read this book simply because I found the cover and title intriguing. When I received my copy I saw how short it was and taken a back a little, but what I ended up really receiving was a short and powerful coming of age book from a male's point of view. When I first started reading this book I was blown away by it power. Spencer is a high school senior who feels insignificant in life and powerless to change his circumstances. He lives in a highly dysfunctional family with  a verbally, emotionally and physically abusive mother. To top it off  he is also being bullied at school.  Spencer feels he is alone in the world  with no one he can turn to for help and a sense of security and love. Hispain, and his greatest fear is of turning into his much-hated father. Spencer realizes he needs to take action to turn his life around, but he is looking for a quick fix with immediate results, no matter the consequences.

There is so much happening in Spencers life that make his relatable to many different groups of people.As much as Spencer wanted to fit in, his family life made it very difficult and the end result was he was the victim of bullying. I can relate to Spencer. I see his struggle in my own sons. The need to be their own person, to fit in, the not fall between the cracks and disappear, but instead to have a life you can be proud of and to learn how to really live and love. Although Spencer create alot of his own tragedy, his ability to learn to take control and responsibility for his actions is huge. Its a lesson very few learn in life. Choices have consequences and some of them last a life time.

 You can buy Fix by Force for Kindle for only $0.99. You can also check out the author's website to read or listen to the first few chapters for free. So now you have no excuse for not reading it.

1.     Fixed by Force is your breakthrough novel. What got you started writing? Have you always wanted to be a writer?

My writing started with my five-page, fully illustrated stories from childhood, called, “Blue Man vs. Green Man”.   ;)   I have no idea what they were about, but the characters always became friends at the end! Now I enjoy writing stories, poems and even songs. I try to write something daily. Writing is one of my favorite things to do, although all the editing, spelling, and grammar can be exhausting.  Being able to watch something come together out of nothing, creating something that others can be affected and inspired by...that's an awesome feeling!

2.     What advice do you have for others who have a dream in their heart, but aren't sure how to go about making it a reality?

I think what keeps a person from chasing their dreams isn’t necessarily fear of failure, but uncertainty of “how” to go about it?  I remember feeling that way often, especially when I was receiving hordes of rejection letters from literary agents!  Personally, I found it helpful and encouraging to seek others in my position— some who were striving for similar dreams, and some who had achieved theirs.  By joining groups and clubs, and even mailing lists, I was introduced to others with the same goals and ambitions...and questions.  I was able to communicate with people who had experience and knowledge I lacked about writing, and who encouraged me to keep moving forward in the pursuit of my dream. 

3.     Why did you choose the topic of steroids to center your novel around?

Steroids are a topic I am familiar with, in a similar capacity as the story's protagonist, Spencer.  My struggles with steroid abuse occurred from ages 16 to 18, and were driven by many of the same feelings as Spencer's use.  For Spencer and myself, steroids were not a vice specifically for athletic reasons or bodybuilding, as most people seem to assume of steroid users, but for a self-esteem makeover, mainly, internally, where lacking courage, and fading self-worth could somehow be “fixed” by using these chemicals. 

4.     How did you personally escape this addiction?

My personal escape from the belief that I 'needed' the steroids, unfortunately, took much longer than Spencer's, but it was by similar means.  I had some very positive and uplifting people in my life, but I separated myself from them during my use, mainly because I was afraid they would try to make me stop.  But I let one person in, my wife, who was my girlfriend then, and her strength, encouragement, and faith in me and in God, was the catalyst for my change.  She reminded me of my value, which is something so many young people struggle with.  What I learned, is that if you can somehow let one person through the barriers you put up, they may be the person who has been placed in you life for a reason. 

5.     Are you ever tempted to resume use? If so, what keeps you strong?

I have been tempted several times throughout the years, even recently, when self-image struggles creep back up.  But when I think about my life, there is nothing that is worth risking for the temporary and artificial effects of the steroids. 

6.     Your main character is an athlete. What's your favorite sport and/or favorite team?

Well, being a native northerner and living across the lake from Chicago, I've always been a fan of the Bears, Cubs, and Bulls.  Football is my favorite sport to watch and play, which may be why I added it to the story.

7.     Without giving away the plot, do you have a favorite scene or chapter in Fixed By Force?

Can I pick two? ;)

I really like the scene when Spencer uses for the first time, since it illustrates the desperation of his use, and the “change” that occurs in the first moments of his addiction.

Also, the most affecting scene for me, personally, is his desperate late night injection into his triceps, when he 'battles' against his own body.

8.     I write for and speak to predominately high school and college-aged women. We talk frequently about pressures to be thin, to wear the right clothes, to do well in school, to have a boyfriend, etc. What kinds of pressures or expectations are put on young men in today's society?

There are a lot of pressures on young men to be 'masculine' and 'tough'.  And societal expectations often say this means having six-pack abs, never crying, or liking only so-called 'manly' hobbies, like sports.  I remember feeling incredible pressure to be muscular and attractive, like every 'desirable' male celebrity on magazine covers. Young men often forget their value for things like their creativity, sense of humor, thoughtfulness, empathy, etc.  I am hoping this story may inspire young men to focus on those traits more than the societal pressures of 'being a man.' 

9.     What one thing do you think young women should understand about the psyche of a young man, that they probably don't get?

I think young women should consider that young men are often just as insecure as they are.  Young men can be just as negatively affected by hurtful insults about their self-image.   

10.  What are the traits you were looking for in a wife?

I love that my wife can be silly and laid-back.  I was really drawn to her confidence in her personality and her drive to accomplish her goals.  And she is beautiful, but her true beauty has always shined brightest in her love and empathy for others.

11.  Your website is incredibly cool! I love the audio as soon as you enter. Who did the narrating of the chapters? Is it you?

Thanks!  Yes, all of the audio is my voice.  I used Wix Website Builder for the site, which is an easy to use Flash website creating software, and I use audacity (free recording software), for the audio recoding. 

12.  Do you have another book in the works we can look forward to?

I actually have several in the works, but which one I finish and release first may depend on what readers are looking for!

I have been working for some time on a book based on Janelle's life, who is a main character from, Fix by Force, and also on a YA book, which is a realistic, take on the “superhero” genre. I’ve loved this subject since being an avid comic book reader in my youth

Thanks, Jason, for taking time to chat with us today. Okay, readers, what do you think Jason’s next book should be about?


~ Disclaimer~ 

I received a free copy of this book from BookLook Program in exchange for my honest opinion and review. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Quote of the Week

"Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within."

James Baldwin

To Live Forever Andra Watkins

Author: Andra Watkins 
Publisher: Word Hermit Press
Pages: 300
Language: English
Genre: Historical fiction/Paranormal/Suspense
Format: Paperback, Kindle

Is remembrance immortality? Nobody wants to be forgotten, least of all the famous.

Meriwether Lewis lived a memorable life. He and William Clark were the first white men to reach the Pacific in their failed attempt to discover a Northwest Passage. Much celebrated upon their return, Lewis was appointed governor of the vast Upper Louisiana Territory and began preparing his eagerly-anticipated journals for publication. But his re-entry into society proved as challenging as his journey. Battling financial and psychological demons and faced with mounting pressure from Washington, Lewis set out on a pivotal trip to the nation’s capital in September 1809. His mission: to publish his journals and salvage his political career. He never made it. He died in a roadside inn on the Natchez Trace in Tennessee from one gunshot to the head and another to the abdomen.

Was it suicide or murder? His mysterious death tainted his legacy and his fame quickly faded. Merry’s own memory of his death is fuzzy at best. All he knows is he’s fallen into Nowhere, where his only shot at redemption lies in the fate of rescuing another.  An ill-suited “guardian angel,” Merry comes to in the same New Orleans bar after twelve straight failures. Now, with one drink and a two-dollar bill he is sent on his last assignment, his final shot at escape from the purgatory in which he’s been dwelling for almost 200 years. Merry still believes he can reverse his forgotten fortunes.

Nine-year-old Emmaline Cagney is the daughter of French Quarter madam and a Dixieland bass player. When her mother wins custody in a bitter divorce, Emmaline carves out her childhood among the ladies of Bourbon Street. Bounced between innocence and immorality, she struggles to find her safe haven, even while her mother makes her open her dress and serve tea to grown men.

It isn’t until Emmaline finds the strange cards hidden in her mother’s desk that she realizes why these men are visiting: her mother has offered to sell her to the highest bidder. To escape a life of prostitution, she slips away during a police raid on her mother’s bordello, desperate to find her father in Nashville.

Merry’s fateful two-dollar bill leads him to Emmaline as she is being chased by the winner of her mother’s sick card game: The Judge. A dangerous Nowhere Man convinced that Emmaline is the reincarnation of his long dead wife, Judge Wilkinson is determined to possess her, to tease out his wife’s spirit and marry her when she is ready. That Emmaline is now guarded by Meriwether Lewis, his bitter rival in life, further stokes his obsessive rage.

To elude the Judge, Em and Merry navigate the Mississippi River to Natchez. They set off on an adventure along the storied Natchez Trace, where they meet Cajun bird watchers, Elvis-crooning Siamese twins, War of 1812 re-enactors, Spanish wild boar hunters and ancient mound dwellers. Are these people their allies? Or pawns of the perverted, powerful Judge?

After a bloody confrontation with the Judge at Lewis’s grave, Merry and Em limp into Nashville and discover her father at the Parthenon. Just as Merry wrestles with the specter of success in his mission to deliver Em, The Judge intercedes with renewed determination to win Emmaline, waging a final battle for her soul. Merry vanquishes the Judge and earns his redemption. As his spirit fuses with the body of Em’s living father, Merry discovers that immortality lives within the salvation of another, not the remembrance of the multitude.
~My Review: ~

Nicely illustrated novel set in 1977 in the style of quasi historical fiction, quasi  paranormal.  The book is well, interesting, but delightful. Despite the weird and zany plot setup at the beginning,( I think the only thing lacking might have been a zombie apocalypse worked in some place) the story works very nicely.  Alternating viewpoints between Merry, Emmeline, and the Judge, Watkins manages to make this unlikely premise to make the story ad plot still somehow feel quasi believable and real by making characters that are deep, emotional and bring life to the story.  In a weird (book good way) way it reminded me of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

I really enjoyed the speed the author kept throughout the book. It moved just quick enough to keep me well entertained and wanting more without lingering too long or skipping important details. This book would be great for those who love stories with strong female leads. Cannot recommend highly enough, just a really great book.

One interesting tidbit about the author us that Watkins walked the entire Natchez Trace in honor of the book's and her passion for the place shines through in her writing.

 ~Book Excerpt:~
Explorer Meriwether Lewis Dead at 35

The Natchez Trace, south of Nashville, Tennessee – Meriwether Lewis, renowned co-captain of the Lewis and Clark expedition to the Pacific and territorial governor of Upper Louisiana, died Wednesday, October 11, 1809. He was thirty-five.

Accounts suggest his death was a suicide, though murder is still being investigated. He was found with gunshot wounds to the head and abdomen. No one witnessed the incident.

Meriwether Lewis was born on August 18, 1774 near Charlottesville, Virginia. After a successful military career, he served as personal secretary to Thomas Jefferson, third President of the United States. Jefferson selected him to lead the Corps of Discovery, an expedition to find the Northwest Passage to the Pacific. Along with William Clark, Lewis guided the thirty-three person team through thousands of miles of unexplored wilderness.

Upon his triumphant return in 1806, Lewis was appointed governor of the Upper Louisiana Territory, succeeding James Wilkinson. While he accepted the appointment with great promise, colleagues noted that he struggled in the position throughout his tenure. A source said he was more outdoorsman than administrator, more scientist than politician.

In September 1809, he journeyed to Washington DC, both to explain his gubernatorial affairs to James Madison’s administration and to publish his prized expedition journals. No one knows why he diverted from his planned water route through New Orleans to the notorious Natchez Trace in Tennessee, where he died.
Authorities are still evaluating the circumstances of his death. Lost in mystery, may his spirit rest in peace.

My goodreads review

~About the Author~
Hey. I’m Andra Watkins. I’m a native of Tennessee, but I’m lucky to call Charleston, South Carolina, home for 23 years. I’m the author of To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis, coming March 1, 2014. It’s a fusion of historical fiction, paranormal fiction and suspense that follows Meriwether Lewis (of Lewis & Clark fame) after his mysterious death on the Natchez Trace in 1809. I like: hiking; eating (a lot; Italian food is my favorite); traveling (I never met a destination I didn’t like); reading (my favorite book is The Count of Monte Cristo); coffee (the caffeinated version) and COFFEE; performing (theater, singing, public speaking, playing piano); time with my friends; Sirius XM Chill; yoga (no, I can’t stand on my head); writing in bed; candlelight. I don’t like: getting up in the morning; cilantro (it is the devil weed); surprises (for me or for anyone else); house cleaning; cooking. You can email me at readme(at)andrawatkins(dot)com. You can also follow me on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and Goodreads.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review and opinion.
Pump Up Your Book

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Traveling with Kids

Phew! It took less time to get the clan through security than you expected, but now you've got to entertain the kids in the airport for the next hour or two, as well as on the plane. No sweat--as long as you've got a well-stocked backpack at your side. Here's what you need:
  • Pencil and Paper so that you and the kids can play word games or draw funny pictures. Throw in a pad of Post-It® notes or a roll of masking tape and they can make no-mess designs wherever they're sitting.
  • Markers and a coloring book are always good bets for younger kids. Crayola® even has a no-mess finger paint, Color Wonder, that transforms from solid, colors paint into red, blue, green, yellow, orange, and violet. It comes with a special coloring book.
  • Map of the Country or where you're going so that the kids can get a sense of how far they're traveling. Try Rand McNally's Kids Map of the United States.
  • Deck of Cards so that you can teach your gang your favorite game--and they can teach you theirs.
  • Stamped Post Cards so they can write one to themselves or their dog while on the plane. If they send cards home about their adventures all along the way, they'll have a travel journal waiting when they get home.
  • Extra Long Lasting Batteries like Duracell® or Energizer® so their electronic games don't conk out mid-flight.
  • Band Aids® because they always need one when you don't have one. Get some colorful ones. When they get bored, they can play hospital with their dolls and stuffed animals.
  • Water Bottle like those durable ones from Nalgene® that come in many colors. They become souvenirs when the kids paste stickers on them from all places they've been.
  • A Book for the kids about the place you're going. Ask your local children's librarian for suggestions.
  • Healthy Snacks like fruit, dried fruit, pretzels, or granola bars. Bring sandwiches from home to avoid pricey airport spots.
  • A Surprise Gift to pull out when you get to the gate or board the plane. Bring a new book for your preschooler, an action figure for your six-year-old, an electronic game for your middle-schooler, and an iTunes gift card for your teen. On the trip home, give them that extra souvenir you told them you wouldn't buy. They'll be too busy to think about how long the trip is taking.
What are some of your traveling with kids ideas?

Promise of Forgiveness

Promises For You
"As far as the east is from the west, so far has he
removed our transgressions from us.
Psalm 103:12

I once heard a joke that described a frequent failure in forgiving. A woman went to her pastor for advice on improving her marriage. When the pastor asked what her greatest complaint was, she replied, "Every time we get into a fight, my husband gets historical." When her pastor said, "You must mean hysterical," she responded, "I mean exactly what I said; he keeps a mental record of everything I've done wrong, and whenever he's mad, I get a history lesson!"
Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 207.

Food for Thought

Take a moment today to remember the Four Promises of Forgiveness:

1. I will not dwell on this incident.
2. I will not bring up this incident again and use it against you.
3. I will not talk to others about this incident.
4. I will not let this incident stand between us or hinder our personal relationship.

Then take a moment to remember something else: This is the way God forgives you. It's natural for us to read the Four Promises of Forgiveness as another set of laws to which we're presently failing to live up; however, the gospel reminds us that they should be read first and foremost as God's commitment to us because of the sacrifice of his son. That commitment says that he will never "get historical" in bringing up sins for which we have been forgiven!

Is there an area in life where you feel condemned even though you've genuinely repented before God? Take a moment to hear God speaking the Four Promises of Forgiveness to you with regard to that particular issue. As you read them again, try adding your name to the beginning of each promise as a reminder that God speaks them personally to you. Remember Romans 8:1 applies to you, not just other Christians: "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."

When you accept this and apply it to your own life, prepare to be pleasantly surprised how much easier it will become to apply the Four Promises of Forgiveness to others who have hurt you.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Read For My Summer

Sign up now for Read for My Summer!

 Read for My Summer

Summer is just around the corner, and we’re excited to be getting ready for this year’s Read for My Summer program! We Give Books’ Read for My Summer is your chance to share books and celebrate literacy with the young readers in your life, all summer long. Ideal for kids up to age 10, this free, ten-week program highlights special books for you and your child to read online from the We Give Books library every week, along with fun interactive tools and activities to make each book come to life. You can sign up now to receive a notification when Read for My Summer kicks off!
We are also nearing three million books read at We Give Books! To celebrate this milestone, we are offering a special prize pack to the reader who completes the three millionth book. Read a book and help us reach three million books read at We Give Books today! 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Eating Out With a Trim Healthy Mama!

I am without a doubt a Drive-Thru Sue as described in the Trim Healthy Mama Book.  I hear the desperate cries from new Trim Healthy Mama’s as they are going out to dinner for the first few weeks. "What can I eat at______?”  After being on many plans before THM, I always found it difficult to eat out. most "diets" require you to cook and seldom have any good choices for eating out at your favorite places. 

 Everyone is different but, here is what my game plan has been!

  • Protein- steak, chicken breast, bacon, eggs, roast, fish, etc. (NON-breaded meats)
  • Veggies- salad, green beans, broccoli, mixed vegetables, cabbage, spaghetti squash, sweet potatoes (Not deep fried foods)
  • Soups- vegetable soup, stews, black beans soup (skip around the potatoes, white rice and pasta)
  • Grains- Brown rice

Steakhouse/American Food:  If I am going to a nice steakhouse for example, I can find so may choices to enjoy!  I often get a nice 6 ounce steak, side salad(no croutons) with some creamy ranch dressing and some green beans.  This is my go-to meal!  Skip those carb filled rolls and the appetizers full of breading! I know I love them to, but you will thank yourself later for not caving in. I remember thinking early on that some Fried Greens Beans, Cheese Sticks or Bloomin’ Onion were all “kinda” on plan!!  No, no they are not!  The breading on those appetizers are very off plan and FULL of carbohydrates.  The same goes for chicken chunks or wings with tons of breading on them.   I have at times pulled breading off when I needed too.  Also, watch those peanuts!  At our steakhouse they have a bucket of peanuts to munch on while you wait to be seated. Peanuts are hard for me to say no to, especially the salted ones and I often eat way too many!  I sometimes count out a few peanuts and push the bucket aside.  The carbs can add up quickly before your meal even hits the table!  So, pick a meat that you enjoy that is non-breaded and keep the BBQ sauce in the kitchen! Non-starchy veggies area always yummy with some butter on top!  For a nice E meal you can often have some chicken breast, a plain sweet potato and some salad with a low fat dressing..HOLD the cheese!  I find it a bit harder to eat out E style so I opt for S meals when I’m out for dinner.

Wing Joints:  Wings are another favorite of my family especially if we are watching sporting events!   I enjoy my wings with a side of ranch and celery!(S)  I often order a side salad to go with my wings to get in some great veggies.  We frequent a restaurant on Friday nights that has chicken chunks as well.  They lightly bread their chunks and for months on the plan I’d eaten them that way.  I asked one night if they would consider leaving the breading off and they were happy to do so!  They told me they were called Naked Chunks!  Who knew!?  So, now I get my Half-pound of naked chunks with some buffalo sauce on them and a side a ranch dressing.  Happy girl, I tell ya! ASK!!!  Many restaurants are very helpful to those with special dietary needs.  I tell them I am on a low-glycemic diet and they are very accommodating!  They want your return business and for you to brag about how accommodating they were to you so others will go.

Mexican Food:  I hear folks tell me all the time that they can’t eat out at Mexican places anymore.  There are a few meals that I really enjoy on THM!  I love fajita's,they are my go to food. !!!  I often order my same old chicken fajitas with a side of sour cream and guacamole!  Instead of the rice and beans, I get salad!  I pour some salsa on my salad as well as some ranch.  It's not the same, I know, but it still does the trick. I have also ordered some chicken dishes before that come with onions and green peppers.  They pour some queso cheese on top.  It’s some good eats!  Guess what’s in  my purse??  Yes, it’s a low carb tortilla.  I take one or two along with me sometimes.  I enjoy dipping it in queso cheese dip like my kids do with the regular tortillas.  I don’t feel odd bringing some in to the restaurant at all!    Some places do have brown rice!  I have eaten some brown rice a few times with my meal and made it an S Helper or a Crossover.  I don’t do this too often since I want to lose.  You could even enjoy some chicken breast, salsa, a little brown rice and some re-fried beans for a nice E meal.  Leave those chips alone which is the hard part if they are sitting on your table, so just ask them not to bring those temptations out at all!

Japanese Steakhouse:  On a rare occasion my boys enjoy dinner and  a show!   It’s NOT impossible to eat at a Japanese steakhouse!  I enjoy some egg drop soup and a salad with ranch to start.  I steer clear of the ginger dressing as it has sugar in it.  I also split a meal with one of my boys!  They eat the rice and noodles while I eat the steak/chicken and veggies!  It works for both of us.

Italian/Pasta:  Olive Garden is my oldest sons favorite place to eat. I avoided it for a while thinking there wasn’t much that I could enjoy.  Man was I wrong!  They have salmon, chicken and steak!  I often eat a salad with no croutons.  SKIP those bread-sticks!  I know they smell good but, you can do it!  I love their Mixed Grill!  It is yummy meat and veggies on a skewer.  I ask for no potatoes with mine.  I get broccoli instead, with a side a Alfredo sauce.  That is some good stuff right there!!  If you like asparagus, that is another lovely side dish!  I now enjoy eating at “OG” again and have great options to choose from!

Fast Food:  On the go?  I can’t name every place I’ve eaten at but, my hubby travels from time to time so we’ve eaten out on the road often.  Here are a few of the places we go too and what I’d eat.
Wendy’s:  Double cheeseburger with mayo, slice of tomato, onion and bacon.  They put it in a nice container so I can eat it with a fork!  I also get a side Cesar salad with no croutons.(S)   For an E style lunch you could enjoy a small chili and a side salad with some low fat dressing!

McDonald’s:  I don’t love to eat there too often but, in the morning I have gotten eggs and bacon on a platter for breakfast!  For lunch I have gotten a salad as well with chicken breast on top.

Chic-Fil-A:  I get grilled chicken chunks!  YUM!!  I use the buffalo sauce with mine.  I also get a salad as my side dish with the avocado ranch dressing.  Maybe not a purist choice but, I’m a Drive-Thru Sue!     You could get a grilled chicken sandwich with no bun as well.  They have some great salad choices!!  Just watch your toppings!  I love their unsweetened tea!  Just take along your own Truvia packets!

Subway:  I enjoy the double chicken chopped salad at Subway!  I love to pile on the veggies!!  They also have nice ranch dressing to add on top.  This salad is massive and you will no go hungry!!   Some also get a 6 inch sub on wheat for an E option.  Choose lean  meats, veggies and a light dressing or mustard!

Chipotle:  They have wonderful salad bowls.  You can make them an S or an E with toppings!  Hamburger, cheese, sour cream and guac are great on an S salad.  Some brown rice, chicken breast, beans and veggies can make a nice E.  Keep those fats away in your E meals!  1 tsp is the goal.  It’s a restaurant that you can easily go either way!  Just say NO to the chips and tortillas!

Panera Bread:  I adore Panera. We hold out monthly American Heritage Girls meeting here and the smells are so inviting! I get a wonderful Deep S salad called the Mediterranean Chicken Salad.  It has some super yummy olive oil you can put on it with some lemon.  It has chicken breast, a boiled egg, spinach, bacon, lettuce and tomato.  It’s large and filling!!  It’s my go-to at Panera.  Many love their black bean soup for an E lunch.  I’d suggest you stay away from the breads.  Even the sourdough bread is not fermented enough to fit the plan.  I know it can be tough but, I pass it on to my kiddos!

Pizza Hut:  I know some may love it but, I sure don’t!  My hubby and boys do enjoy their pizza.  If I go along, I order wings!  They have non-breaded wings and a good salad bar.  If you like their pizza you can always swipe some of the families toppings to enjoy!  My son takes off the cheese and pepperonis…crazy, I know!  So, if we are at other pizza places, I’d enjoy those. Even pizza places have choices!  Some will even let you have a pizza in a bowl!  I’ve done that as well. All the normal topping you love, baked in a bowl! ASK!!

Tips:  Take along packets of sweetener in your purse!  I also take a Joseph’s Pita with me for a burger place or low carb tortillas for Mexican food.

Well, I can’t name every restaurant to you!  These are just a few of my favorites or favorites of my family.   Don’t be afraid to ask  the waiter or manager if you have a special request or need.  They aren’t bothered by you, they want to give you great service!  I am never hungry on Trim Healthy Mama!  Hopefully this will give you some ideas for eating out.  This is not an all inclusive list!

No any other great ideas for eating out on THM I would love to have you share them!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Cloak of the Light: Wars of the Realm, Book 1

 - Price: $11.99
Format: Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9781601425027
Release: 3.18.2014
Juvenile Fiction - Religious - Christian - Action & Adventure
eBook Review
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Print Review
Copies Available:

Cloak of the Light

by Chuck Black
Drew is caught in a world of light - just inches away from the dark

What if...there was a world beyond our vision, a world just fingertips beyond our reach? What if...our world wasn’t beyond their influence?

Tragedy and heartache seem to be waiting for Drew Carter at every turn, but college offers Drew a chance to start over—until an accident during a physics experiment leaves him blind and his genius friend, Benjamin Berg, missing.

As his sight miraculously returns, Drew discovers that the accident has heightened his neuron activity, giving him skills and sight beyond the normal man. When he begins to observe fierce invaders that no one else can see, he questions his own sanity, and so do others. But is he insane or do the invaders truly exist?

With help from Sydney Carlyle, a mysterious and elusive girl who offers encouragement through her faith, Drew searches for his missing friend, Ben, who seems to hold the key to unlocking this mystery. As the dark invaders close in, will he find the truth in time?

My Impressions
This was the first book I ever read by Chuck Black and it was an amazing book. Normally I do not go for books with a deep mystical element, but this book was fantastic. I loved the charterer development of Drew. Drew is a young man who has seen more than his share of tragedy in his life.In fact his life is consumed with one tragedy after another almost.  As a result and influenced by his best friend, Ben, he turns to science for all of life’s explanations, and in doing so he adamantly turns away from any acknowledgement of God’s existence, let alone love. Then an accident leaves him blind and his world is changed forever. Drew's struggles and experiences are real and easy to relate to.  The author does a great job of showing Drew's humanity and displaying his character as one of  goodness who has trouble walking away when people are in trouble. I enjoyed the  wit and strength in both Drew and Syndey representing two completely different views of life and how to endure.

I could vividly see the struggle and battle between darkness and light. I did not realize that this was a Christian fiction book when I selected it so it took me some time to piece together who and what the different invaders represented. Call me slow if you must, but when I figured it out it added a whole new element to the story that was amazing. For someone that does not believe in Jesus Christ or Aliens Drew's world was turned upside down with the reality of both in a way he never imagined.

Normally I end up passing up  the Readers Guide at the end of the book because they tend to be boring and predictable, but in this case I was very glad that I took the time to read through it. It gave a  very informative peak into the theological framework the author was hoping to convey to the reader along with biblical explanations for many topics discussed though out the book.

About the Author:

Chuck Black Chuck Black is the author of nine novels including the popular Kingdom Series and The Knights of Arrethtrae series. He spent eight years in the Air Force traveling the world as a communications engineer and an F-16 fighter pilot. Today, Chuck is a product design engineer and has invented or coinvented eleven patented construction products now being sold internationally. His passion in life is to serve the Lord Jesus Christ and to love his wife, Andrea, and their six children. The Blacks take their family music ministry on the road, singing Christian gospel, contemporary, and traditional songs. Chuck and his family live in North Dakota.

*I received an ARC copy of this book in a giveaway by Multnomah Books and was not required to write a positive review! All thoughts expressed are my own!*

Friday, April 4, 2014

Quote of the Week





Isaiah 40:31

but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

The Soul of the Sun Blog Tour -Book Blast

 We welcome Genevieve Crownson, author of the YA paranormal, The Soul of the Sun!

Title: The Soul of the Sun
Genre: Paranormal/Young Adult
Author: Genevieve Crownson
Publisher: Genevieve Crownson
Pages: 348
Format: Paperback l Kindle

Book Summary: 

“The hands of time turn on the face of the sun. Only you can move them. If the Watcher controls the hands of the clock he can go anywhere, past or future-- and destroy our planet.” 

Since the days of ancient
Greece, the Argos dynasty has kept a secret, a mystery passed down through their descendants from generation to generation, in the hopes that the forces of good can stop the evil destruction of planet Earth. 

Margaret Ingall is harboring that secret. Time is running out for the descendants of the
Argos. They know a great healer and time traveler will be born of their blood. But the only person that knows whom they will call “the soul of the sun” is Margaret’s sister, Abigail. Before she can reveal the healer’s identity, disaster strikes… 

Evil stalks them, watching and waiting to find out which member of her family has the ultimate power. Is it Margaret’s own child? Or her beloved granddaughter? Or even herself? Their only clue is a powerful protective amulet that will lead them all in a cat-and-mouse game to discover secrets as ancient as time. 

If the Watcher discovers the truth before they do, all will be lost. 

Fate, time and love weave together in their struggle to fulfill their destiny. Will Margaret’s fears sabotage her family’s protection? Can the healer accept her gifts in time? And once the soul of the sun is finally revealed, will it be too late? 

Her power is incredible. The sacrifices required of her are immense. 

Will it be enough to stop the Watcher?


The rain fell in sheets around me, it was gloomy and depressing, but I didn’t feel a drop. I was completely encased in light; I was a moving, breathing, flaming yellow orb that no one could penetrate. I watched in amazement as my broken leg instantly healed and the torn pajama fabric cinched itself back together. My jaw pain ceased. I closed my hands over the amulet, now humming with intensity. In a split second, I was vibrating with the same power. The wind picked up and the sky loomed black. The moon lay dark behind an inky sky and somehow strange chanting words flowed out of me. Lava hot and fraught with meaning, they rose to a fever pitch. Every word was a part of me, part of my being. Words from another time, Tanga’s time, slipped from my lips as though it were my native tongue. It was the inscription on the amulet, of that much I was sure.
     I stretched my glowing hands out to Thomas.
     I call on you Lady Isis.
     Protect Me.
     For I am the one, the Soul of the Sun.
     I plead with you and your son Horus to give refuge.
     Patroness of Nature and Magic bring all my power and your power together to glorify
     what is right and true in this world.
    Honor your name and those we safeguard from harm. Let time be taken from no man.
   He was laughing at me.
   “You stupid little twit, did you honestly think that would work? You think that I can’t take what’s mine?”
    As he spoke, I chanted the same words, repeating them over and over. I saw fear cross his face just for a moment when he realized I was using the amulet’s power. A brilliant beam of light continued to radiate from my core. It was strange, the light now shone gold instead of blue. It must have changed when it sealed together. I continued to watch and to my astonishment, he became transparent and, with a puff of smoke, evaporated into the heavens. I could hear his heart-rending screams echoing through the ocean’s storm. Drained completely of energy, I crumpled, exhausted, onto the sand.

About the Author:

Genevieve Crownson graduated from the College of Charleston with a Bachelors of Science degree. A love of writing led her to pen her debut novel, The Soul of the Sun. This is book one in her highly anticipated trilogy, The Argos Dynasty. She currently lives in beautiful Charleston, SC with her family and beloved four-legged friends.

You can find her at

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Interview with Mark D. Dieh Author of Seventeen

Most of the world's seventeen billion people are unconscious, perpetually serving their employers as part of massive brain trusts. The ecosystem has collapsed, and corporations control all of the world's resources and governments. A bedraggled alcoholic known as the Prophet predicts nineteen year-old waitress Eadie will lead a revolution, but how can she prevail when hunted by a giant corporation and the Federal Angels it directs?

Author Interview

What kind of writer am I?

I would characterize myself as a Post-Objectivist fiction writer, the first and only, so far as I know. Objectivism was Ayn Rand’s philosophy, based on the idea that true morality came from individual pursuit of personal goals. She asserted, therefore, that the only system that could be truly moral was a laissez-faire capitalist one with full respect for individual rights. Ayn Rand was brilliant, but she didn’t have the vantage point we do now.

In Rand’s day, humanity was trying to figure out how much a role government should play in markets. It looked like the world was being unzipped and falling into halves. On one side were state-planned economies, with their collective farms and military parades. On the other was the capitalist model, with our sleek, efficient, market-driven economies.
Growing up in Russia, Rand had seen Communism first hand. She realized that giving the state so much control was stifling to individuals, and she showed in her books how state oppression could extinguish a society’s innovative abilities. When Communist societies began collapsing, it seemed to prove that Ayn Rand had called it: We had the better system, and it was better because it encouraged and rewarded the individual.

Here’s the thing, though:

Multinational corporations now dwarf most of the world’s governments, but we still treat them as if they’re individuals. Recent Supreme Court decisions have upheld corporate “human rights” like privacy and free speech, meaning, among other things, that they are protected from surprise safety inspections and they can spend unlimited sums to influence elections. They own most of the world’s available resources and are run for one purpose only: the generation of short-term profit. They demand efficiency, planning, and discipline, they reward unity and conformity, and they have even less respect for human uniqueness than their government counterparts. Big business is not an alternative to big government so much as it is the new totalitarian structure eclipsing it.

The truth is that BOTH models stifle the individual, either through the forced altruism of Communism or the cutthroat uniformity of corporatism. Step out of the party line, the Communists shut you out, just like corporations do to whistleblowers. What Ayn Rand thought was the antidote to Communism was just a different kind of poison. If either the government or big business is able to rule on behalf of itself, the individual is shut out. The so-called left and right wings are just flying us toward control by the same elites, either way. What we see now is that either side can be equally dehumanizing.
The only way free individuals have a chance is if they all decide to wake up and become aware. In order for unique, independent people to continue to exist, we must develop into an informed public with actual power and the desire to keep it.

Here’s the same idea, boiled down:
In the jungle, the biggest gorilla takes as much as he wants. It’s natural. Our problem is that through the creation of corporations and governments, we now have immortal gorillas who continue growing forever. Our situation is no longer natural.
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