Source: complimentary review copy


Book Review: The Dream Lover: A Novel of George Sand

June 1, 2015 Book Review 4

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

Book Review: The Dream Lover: A Novel of George SandThe Dream Lover by Elizabeth Berg
Published by Random House on April 14th, 2015
Genres: Fiction, Literary
Pages: 368
Source: complimentary review copy
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Having never read a George Sand novel but always interested in the persona, I was thrilled to have an opportunity to read and review The Dream Lover.   It was also my first Elizabeth Berg novel and an introduction to George Sand, the author and person.

If you’re not familiar with George Sand, she was born Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dupin.  As a young journalist in Paris she quickly learned how to dress as a man in order to get the cheaper theater tickets.  She is known for being a prolific writer and lover ~ writing novels and essays in abundance while collecting lovers in abundance along the way as well!

Although the narrative is in the first person, neither the ‘voice’ and personality of George Sand nor of Elizabeth Berg were apparent.  It did not read as a diary nor as a stranger in a coffee shop relaying her life experiences ~ felt more like a biography without the heart and soul of the person.

It became apparent very early on that George Sand/Aurore perpetually made the same mistakes in each subsequent relationship or affair.  She’d fall quickly ‘in love’ with the same type of person, have the same issues as the previous relationships and continue the cycle over and over and over again.  Because of the vicious never-ending cycle it almost would have been better to have read about one of George’s conquests with the added statement that this same occurrence happened every few years with x number of people.  Reading the problems she had in her relationships seemed like I was reading the same chapter over and over just different names.

I must admit though it was fascinating reading about the Paris of the day and learning of the different creatives George Sand was involved like Frederic Chopin, Gustave Flaubert and the infamous actress, Marie Dorval, Sand’s believed one true love.  I imagine in the day George Sand would have made front page headlines every few months with her actions.  Unfortunately, I just did not connect with her in The Dream Lover.

What famous literary character can you see making front page headlines constantly?

Thank you so much TLC Book Tours for inclusion in The Dream Lover tour.

To read additional reviews please visit TLC Book Tours.



Book Review: An Addict Within

May 17, 2015 Book Review 3

Book Review: An Addict WithinAn Addict Within by Mark Lipp
Published by Naama Group on October 31st, 2013
Genres: Non-Fiction
Pages: 227
Source: complimentary review copy
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Full disclosure ~ I received a complimentary copy of An Addict Within from friend and author, Mark Lipp.  These are my own thoughts and opinions and not influenced by our friendship.

There are 22 million addicts in the United States today.  If the average family is four people, then, at minimum, 88 million people in this country are affected by drugs.  That means the epidemic of drug use is surpassed only by the epidemic of shame and damage that an addict’s usage causes to the family.  The damage done to the lives and relationships surrounding the drug addict is almost unimaginable to those who have never experienced it.  It is profound and real to the family, every single minute.

An Addict Within is a parent’s nightmare. Imagine working tirelessly to provide your family with every comfort only to learn your 15 year old beloved first born has been doing drugs since the age of thirteen. Then imagine that no one believes you, as the parent ~ even your partner, your wife, has doubts about your fears ~ then imagine learning your daughter has graduated from the easy stuff to shooting up heroin before the age of 20.

What would you do? Who do you turn to when even your spouse is not concerned {and then later you find out she even enabled and encouraged the drug use}?

When you’re living in the moment trying desperately to fix a situation that no parent CAN fix, how do you cope? How can you continue to be there for your other children when your every waking thought is consumed by the child in trouble? Hardest yet ~ what boundaries do you put in place to protect the rest of the family from your daughter? And how do you protect your own heart?

In this very real journey of one parent’s nightmare through the past eight years of his daughter’s addiction, Mark confronts these very questions. Raw, powerful, and introspective, An Addict Within is like watching a car wreck happen in front of you ~ you can’t look away; you’ve got to know if anyone survives.

Still needing a bit of refinement An Addict Within is not without merit. I would not hesitate to put this book in the hands of any parent I know dealing with an addicted son or daughter. Overlooking some repetitiveness and general “show don’t tell” writing standard to the meat of the story, and you’ve got a great resource for other family members in the same situation. Just knowing you’re not alone makes a world of difference.

I’m not sure how much knowing Mark, with his larger-than-life personality, helped me to see past the arrogance expressed toward his ex-wife and mother of his daughter and son, to the underlying anger, fear and self-recriminations. The arrogance took away from the narrative and focus of the story ~ Mark trying to save his daughter and himself. Mark’s overwhelming need to ‘fix’ his daughter is a clear underlying theme. How Mark learns to deal with his inability to ‘fix’ her is just as revealing.

Mark is a successful business executive, smart, educated, successful and yet, he was not immune to how addiction can tear a family and a father into pieces. An Addict Within is not for everyone. It can be difficult to read, as a parent, the horrors of watching a child struggle with heroin addiction. Reading this book certainly highlights the devastating consequences to an entire family when one struggles with an addiction. The honesty Mark shared in writing this book and sharing with other families is nothing short of courageous.

Learn more about Mark Website | Facebook | Twitter

Nar-Anon Family Groups  Resource to family members of loved ones addicted to drugs.

Al-Anon Family Groups Resource to family members of loved ones addicted to alcohol.




Book Review: A Fireproof Home for the Bride

March 25, 2015 Book Review 0

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

Book Review: A Fireproof Home for the BrideA Fireproof Home for the Bride by Amy Scheibe
Published by St. Martin's Press on March 10th, 2015
Genres: Fiction, Literary
Pages: 384
Source: complimentary review copy
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A slow, yet methodical, building of the plot to an ultimate firestorm;

A coming-of-age novel with a strong female lead;

Issues of family secrets ~ how do you handle learning the people you love are not who you thought they were?

Racial tensions ~ the white man against anyone not white, male and Protestant.

Religious intolerance ~ strong intolerance by the Lutherans of the Catholics; I can’t even pretend to understand the conflict here, but I think that’s the point.

Why I Read A Fireproof Home for the Bride  the charm of the 1950’s with secrets & struggles & enough family strife to make it real + a heroine worthy of cheer = yes, please, give me more!

What I Would Have Liked Better Having read this one in a couple of days, it’s apparent that there wasn’t much I didn’t like!  The ultimate firestorm was a bit over-the-top taking away from the believability of the story but not so over-the-top that I didn’t want to finish.  At times it was hard to keep all of the characters straight between the Brann’s and the Nelson’s and which belonged to which family and then throw in her father’s extended family and it got to be a bit confusing.  I muddled thru, obviously!

Please Give Me More The characters were so fully drawn I felt I knew them.  I’ve always heard that Midwesterners were hard workers, especially the farmers.  The author did a fabulous job of making these Midwesterners real, not stereotypical – she showed  us rather than told.  I lived on my grandparents farm for a few years growing up and I know it’s hard work, long hours with very little pay.

Interesting to Note  I was not aware the Klu Klux Klan had such a prominence in Minnesota during the ’50s or that Mexican field workers from Texas would migrate to Minnesota to work the farms & in the sugar beet factories.  Fascinating the things one can learn from fiction!

If you liked The Swan House or The Boston Girl then you may enjoy A Fireproof Home for the Bride. Recommended.

What book have you read recently where you learned something new about history? 



From No Excuses to “Get Pumped Up” or My Top 5 Excuses & The Tips I Use to Overcome

March 11, 2015 Book Review 9

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

From No Excuses to “Get Pumped Up” or My Top 5 Excuses & The Tips I Use to OvercomeThe No More Excuses Diet by Maria Kang
Published by Harmony Books on March 10th, 2015
Genres: Non-Fiction, Wellness
Pages: 224
Source: complimentary review copy
AmazonBarnes & Noble

Excuses validate our choices.  They let us off the hook and give us permission to fail.  While psychologically soothing, excuses limit our ability to create opportunities to progress toward personal health.  ~Maria Kang

Somehow I have ended up with a couple of books this month that are all about motivation, habits and the dreaded {by me at least} exercise!  The first one of the month is with the From Left to Write virtual book club.  Not a typical review – more my thought process while reading the book!  Do share your tips in the comments cause I need all the help I can get!

My top 5 exercise excuses of the moment

1.  I don’t have time. . .or like what happened tonight: I’m going to be late to yoga class, and I don’t want to disturb the others.  Then I tell myself I’m being considerate which validates my justification for turning the car around to head home!

2.  I’m too tired. {but why am I tired? is it tired from the day or is it from the multiple sclerosis?  With the first, I should push through; with the second, only legitimate rest helps – which leads back to the question of why am I tired?  It’s an awful loop!}

3.  I’m too sore. {same as above.  Am I sore from the previous day’s walk or is it the multiple sclerosis?}  notice how I snuck in there that it was “from the previous day’s walk” meaning that yes, yes I did get my exercise {hopefully}  it could also be that I’ve told myself the next one ~

4.  There’s always tomorrow. . . .also known as the Scarlett O’Hara syndrome.  A very bad bad syndrome to get caught up in and one that has a habit of drawing me into its’ clutches!

5.  Play the justification game ~ “well, everything I read says it’s 30% exercise and 70% nutrition…I’ll just eat {insert either less or better depending on the moment!}

Now, my top 5 get pumped up resources

1.  Loud music.  Typically the first few songs on the Pink channel of Pandora are enough to get me moving.  Once I turn the music up it’s impossible to not move.

2.  Listen to motivational podcasts.  Michael Hyatt and Chalene Johnson are my current go-to’s for motivation.  In fact, Chalene Johnson has one podcast just for me that gets my behind in gear!  {I’m happy to share it with you though if you’re in need of a motivation boost as well}

3.  Five minute rule.  I can do anything for 5 minutes.  Typically once I start {usually it’s walking} then by the time 5 minutes is over I tell myself I can at least walk 1 mile; hopefully once I reach 1 mile I’ve talked myself into going for that full 30 minutes . .my short-term goal is to get in 30 minutes of exercise daily.  I’m only focusing on the short-term goal at the moment and not that long, far away goal of total health!

Photo Credit, David Niblack,

Photo Credit: David Niblack

4.  Pay attention to my self-talk ~ it usually goes something like “why didn’t you. . .” Once I recognize that I’m in a negative loop I change my self-talk.  This month’s mantra is “I am enough.”  Believe me, I’ve said those three words a hundred million times and we are only on Day 11 for March!

5.  To keep myself motivated, I’m following several fitness experts and fitness junkies on social media ~ I’ve always told my children that who surround yourself with is what will motivate your actions – it’s no different for adults.  Seeing certain fitness folks who are also motivating is incredibly helpful to me.  I’ve also unfollowed some because their feeds were counter-productive.

What is your go-to resource or idea that gets you pumped up to exercise {or tackle any task you’ve been procrastinating?}


This post was inspired by The No More Excuses Diet by Maria Kang who shares her no-excuses philosophy that motivated her to become more fit. Join From Left to Write on March 12th as we discuss The No More Excuses Diet. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.


Strengthen Your Relationship with Deb DeArmand’s I Choose You Today

February 18, 2015 Book Review, reviews 6

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

Strengthen Your Relationship with Deb DeArmand’s I Choose You TodayI Choose You Today by Deb DeArmond
Published by Abingdon Press on January 6th, 2015
Genres: Christian, Non-Fiction
Pages: 208
Source: complimentary review copy
AmazonBarnes & Noble


It may seem a bit strange to my regular readers that I am reviewing a book on marriage.  Having failed at too many relationships to count I actually kind of think perhaps I am best suited to discuss a book on marriage.  As I’m typing this I’m hearing the Priest in The Princess Bride just beginning his discussion of “Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. . . . ”  A bit off topic but true, nonetheless 😉

So friends, marriage is what brings us here today.  Are you in one? Want to be in one? Planning one? Thinking one day, someday in a far-away distant future you’d like to be in one?  Then this book is for you.

Thirty-one chapters. Each dedicated to how you can make a choice to love your spouse, fiancée or significant other. It’s not a book to read through all at once.  I have been reading a chapter every other day or so and applying the key concept for the following day ~ After going through the book once I now plan to take a chapter a week and apply the concepts ~ I’m excited to see the results!  A key takeaway from this book is that love is a choice, not an emotion. Choosing to respect, love, honor my sweetheart makes all the difference in the world. Below is a sampling of a few chapter headings.  

  • I Choose to Bless You
  • I Choose to be Adaptable
  • I Choose to Share Your Burdens
  • I Choose to Serve You
  • I Choose to Be Generous With You
  • I Choose to Pray For You
  • I Choose to Help You Achieve Your Dreams and Goals
  • I Choose to Comfort You
  • I Choose to Live in Peace With  You
  • I Choose to Prefer You

[Tweet “Love is a choice, not an emotion. #IChooseYouChallenge”]

Each chapter ends with a quote, three questions and a short prayer, all geared to help the reader take the topic deeper.  While it is targeted to an already-married population, I can see this book being especially suited for small group discussions, premarital counseling and anyone contemplating marriage some day.

It does come from a Christian perspective that is spot-on in addressing the work it takes to make love last, to keep a happy, forever-kind-of marriage.  Deb DeArmond is conversational in her writing tone, and  she will definitely have you considering if you’re doing all that you can to make the relationship last.

[Tweet “The secret for hanging on to the happily-ever-after feelings from the day you said, “I do”? #IChooseYouChallenge “]

You’re invited to participate in two marriage-strengthening challenges: one beginning February 1 and the other beginning in March. It’s not too late to join the February Challenge!  Don’t miss out on this opportunity to build your relationship with your spouse and enter to win some prizes along the way!

The Valentine’s Challenge: February 1 – 28

Tell your spouse “I Choose You” every day of the month. Sign up online at and receive a free downloadable February calendar to mark off the days of the challenge.

Deb will also be emailing participants 1–2 times throughout the month with giveaway opportunities and “keep going” encouragement.

The “I Choose You” Challenge: March 1 – December 31, 2015

Sign up online at to receive 10 weekly emails, each teaching one of the choices from Deb’s book along with practical applications. This challenge is broken up into three different sessions, covering all 31 choices from the book.

There will be giveaways and opportunities to win throughout the year. Participants can decide when to join—it’s not required to do all three sessions.

Many thanks to Litfuse Publicity for the review copy.