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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Review and Giveaway!--SeaSnax: A Healthy & Tasty Treat


About 7 months ago, I was diagnosed with gluten-sensitivity and have had to radically change my eating habits.  Since then, I've been looking for tasty, healthy snacks that fit into my new diet and I came across a wonderful product called SeaSnax.  They're so good in fact I thought I'd share a review of their products with you.

I  have a tasty treat to share with you today!  I want to introduce to you the new roasted seaweed snack.  Wait, seaweed, you ask?  Isn't that the slimy stuff found in the ocean?  Gross, why would I want to eat that?  That was one of my first thoughts when I heard that people ate seaweed, so I don't blame you.  But hold on one second.  SeaSnax is dried, packaged, yummy, and flavored seaweed that doesn't look, smell or feel like the stuff you find in the ocean.  It also has TONS of health benefits!!!  In fact, it's one of the most nutrient-packed foods on Earth!  People have actually been eating seaweed for centuries to gain all of its amazing health benefits.  You must be thinking, well if it's so great, what's the catch?  There is none.  It's just that good.  I'm going to list some of the great things about it, but if you want to learn more of the amazing benefits, the SeaSnax website (listed below) lists many more benefits, so be sure to check it out, as well as the other resources I list.

SeaSnax--why they are amazing (besides the awesome taste):
  •  First ever Non-GMO Project verified roasted seaweed snack
  • Vegan
  • Gluten free (I especially love this one because I had to go gluten free about a year ago)
  • Soy free
  • Dairy free
  • Only uses three natural ingredients--100% olive oil, a pinch of sea salt, and seaweed (of course)
  • No artificial colors, flavors or preservatives
  • One of the most nutrient-packed foods on earth
  • Low fat, cholesterol free, low carb
  • Sugar free
  • Available in classic (olive oil and sea salt), toasty onion, wasabi and spicy chipotle flavors
  • Iodine found in seaweed stimulates a person's thyroid, increasing metabolism, thereby burning more calories
  • Seaweed is rich in minerals and vitamins (i.e. iodine, iron, calcium, B1, B6, C and E)
  • Seaweed provides fiber, enzymes and high quality proteins
  • Sea vegetables also have higher proportion of essential fatty acids than land plants

My review:


The company kindly sent me a box full of all the flavors of SeaSnax to enjoy and review!  It was about 8 or so bags of SeaSnax.  They are like little bags of chips (the SeaSnax Grab & Go's) and then I also got some of the full sheets (SeaSnax full sheet singles), which are larger and come in more flat packaging, about the size of a tortilla.  I received almost every flavor and loved every one of them!  They were "Strangely Addictive" as the tagline says!  They are kind of crunchy like chips and very tasty.  I love that I can eat something that is so healthy for me, yet so enjoyable at the same time.  My doctor recently told me I should be eating seaweed to be getting all of the nutrients I need.  "Yeah right, like that'll happen," I said to myself.  I knew NOTHING about seaweed.  I'm so glad to find some that is TASTY (most important), goes with my food allergies, and I feel good about it because I am being good to my body.  Just check out the websites I list below and see for yourself about ALL of the healthy benefits; you'll definitely give yourself a pat on the back for eating SeaSnax.  I also appreciate that this company gives 10% of their money back to making the world a better place for children.  You can find out more about that on their website. 

To summarize, SeaSnax perfectly meets my need for a quick, tasty, healthy treat, and I heartily recommend them to anyone and everyone!


GIVEAWAY:  A case of SeaSnax Grab & Go's (12/cs in any flavor) or 4 packs of SeaSnax full sheet singles (in any flavor).





www.seasnax.com
www.facebook.com/seasnax
www.twitter.com/seasnax

Links to other sites on benefits of seaweed and sea vegetables that SeaSnax provided:

Oceanvegetables.com
seasnax-strangely-addictive



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Review--"An Amish Family Reunion" by Mary Ellis

"An Amish Family Reunion" by Mary Ellis was a delicious venture into Amish fiction.  In the past, the only inspirational Amish fiction I have truly enjoyed was that of Beverly Lewis.  When I saw the synopsis of "An Amish Family Reunion," I found it intriguing.  It seemed unlike all the other familiar plots of the other Amish fiction books (which all seemed similar to me).  I decided to give this one a chance, and I am very glad I did! 


Goodreads Book Description:  During a rumschpringe visit to Niagara Falls, Phoebe Miller meets Eli Riehl, who charms her--and everyone else--with his exceptional storytelling ability. When Phoebe sketches scenes to illustrate one of his tales, Eli encourages her talent, and together they embark on a lofty and unlikely business venture for two young Amish people--writing and illustrating a children's book.

As I stated above, I really enjoyed many aspects of this book.  One way it was unfamiliar from the other Amish books I have read is that much of it takes place in Amish communities in Ohio.  Most of the Amish fiction I am familiar with are based on the Lancaster County Amish, which seem to have many different customs from the Ohio Amish.  It was interesting to compare the differences between the communities as I was reading. 

I also enjoyed the fact that all of the action did not take place on a farm or just in an Amish community.  It was really refreshing see the world (such as Niagara Falls) through the eyes of the Amish.  The two main characters, Phoebe and Eli go on a rumschpringe trip to Niagara Falls.  I love that part of the book and think that it is very different to see the characters taking a trip like this in this particular genre. 

I also enjoy the fact that even though we have our two main protagonists, there are also subplots going on between the characters in the extended family.  They are characters from the author's previous books in this series.  This is actually a book in a series, but I have not read the previous books.  I found that one does not have to read the preceding books to understand this book.  It was a little confusing at first for me to keep all of the characters straight, but the author has a "cast of characters" listed in the front of the book that I referred to often.  I found it extremely helpful!  I loved all of the subplots and fell in love with this big family.  It is heartwarming how the author brings everything together at the end and the whole family is able to meet for a wonderful "Amish Reunion."

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.  It is a clean read. 

I want to thank Harvest House Publishers & Mary Ellis for the complimentary copy of this book for review.  I was not required to write a positive review.The opinions I express in this review are my own.  This is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR 16, Part 255.

Go here to read the first chapter from "An Amish Family Reunion"

Visit Mary Ellis's website and blog to learn more about her and her books

Watch the book trailer below



Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Review of "Made to Crave for Young Women: Satisfying Your Deepest Desires With God" by Lysa Terkeurst & Shaunti Feldhahn--Not Just For Teens

 Made to Crave for Young Women: Satisfying Your Deepest Desires
with God by Lysa Terkeurst & Shaunti Feldhahn is a book that speaks to women of all ages.  I was drawn in by the subtitle of the book, Satisfying Your Deepest Desires with God.  I really struggle with this, but I know that is what the Christian life is all about.  I read the rest of the book's description, and it seemed like it had some fresh ideas that weren't what is normally covered in a lot of the Christian Living books out there.  I did see that it is for Young Women and it seemed like it was aimed at high-school teenagers.  I saw that there was also another Made to Crave that is for women, but that one is just all about a woman's struggle with food, eating and weight and how she puts those cravings ahead of God.  This Made to Crave for Young Women seemed to cover a lot more areas of struggles besides food that I thought would be more helpful to me. 

Once I read it, I was so glad I had decided to give it a try!  If you struggle in any other area besides eating, I would recommend this book over the other one because of the wider variety of examples and struggles that the authors cover.  Of course, you have to remember that the two authors are speaking mostly to a teen audience, but as I am in my mid-20s and read a lot of young adult books, it did not bother me.  It is also written in a way so that anyone can relate to it.  Don't we all still deal with the same struggles that we dealt with in high school anyway, in some form or another?  I know I do.  Sorry for those who are still in high school, but those struggles do not go away, they just keep coming back in different forms.  That's why it is so important to learn as early on as possible how to conquer those struggles with God's help!  Lysa and Shaunti give the reader great practical advice on how to do that and make God our number one heart's desire.

The main point of the book is that we as humans put other desires and things in our lives before God.  These "things" are what the authors call "God substitutes."  They are emotional
(the desire to be loved and accepted), physical (to be comforted by physical satisfaction and pleasure) and material cravings (a desire for something that makes us feel special, improved or new).  These aren't necessarily bad desires in themselves.  The problem comes when we automatically go to them first instead of God.  These are desires that God wants to satisfy and only He truly can. 

There are so many good things that I appreciate about this book.  I love how Lysa and Shaunti go through each of the desires and give examples of what they are and how to overcome them.  The authors are honest, genuine and down-to-earth.  Lysa and Shaunti also give engaging personal stories from their lives to which many will be able to relate.

I find it to be very helpful that practical examples are interspersed throughout the book.  Each chapter has a step-by-step action plan at the end that gives the reader a way to apply that chapter to her life.
An example is how Lysa and Shaunti believe one's cravings can be retrained.  You will crave what you are focusing on.  They give ways to change one's thought pattern by replacing the negative thoughts with positive ones through Scripture (they provide the reader with specific Scripture and exercises to help with this).  By filling themselves with God and Scripture, the reader can be satisfied with God alone.

This is truly a wonderful read and I grew in my walk with Christ as a result of this book!  I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.  It is a clean read. 


I want to thank Zondervan, Lysa Terkeurst & Shaunti Feldhahn  for the complimentary copy of this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I express in this review are my own. This is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR 16, Part 255.
For more information on Lysa Terkeurst, go to her website.
For more information on Shaunti Feldhahn, go to her website.
Tons of resources and freebies on Made to Crave for Young Women at this site.
Go here to read the first chapter.


 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Interview with Katy Lee, Author of Real Virtue!

Today I am hosting Katy Lee, the author of Real Virtue.  I found out about Katy and her book through the International Online  Book Club of Clean Reads.  Crystal Kelly, the founder of the club, asked me to be its administrator.  Our club helps to bring authors, readers and bloggers together and introduce them to clean reads.  Here is our club's website: http://cleanreadsbookclub.webs.com/browse-our-shelves.  Each month we will feature a different author, discuss their book, promote them, review their book, and feature them on different blogs and our group website.  We also have a Facebook group where we support each other.  You'll be seeing me do different posts each month reviewing books and interviewing the authors of those books from the club.  For more information, go to the website above and fill out the contact us form.

1)  Welcome Katy! Please tell us what you write:

Hello Megan, thank you for having me. I am excited to be here today to share about myself, but also about my debut novel, Real Virtue. I write Inspirational-romantic-suspense. I’ve tried to write contemporary romance, but no matter what I do, a villain ends up rearing his, or her, ugly head. For the most part, my stories are contemporary, but I am presently plotting a historical. Not sure if it will ever see the light of day, but I am having loads of fun with it! A few weekends ago, I attended a showing of 19th century fashion at my local university. The dresses were beautiful, and I loved hearing about why certain patterns and fabrics became the rage for the ladies in these times. A writer’s delight, for sure!

2)  Tell us what motivates you to keep at writing:

What motivates me? Believe it or not, deadlines. Give me a deadline and it will be done. Even if the deadline is tomorrow. When my publisher gave me the final edits of Real Virtue she told me I had until five o’clock the next day to proof them. I got them back to her at 4:55. Whew! The saying goes, you want something done, give it to someone who is busy. An object in motion stays in motion. Well, I am that person in constant motion…just make sure you give me the deadline.

3)  How does your faith affect your daily life?

I don’t make a move without God’s direction. When I have feelings of worry, I remind myself that worry is fear, and God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind. I handle the task at hand, and trust He will provide what I need for it when I need it.

4)  How much spirituality do you weave into your stories?

My stories are not sermons, however, I allow my Christian characters free rein when it comes to The Great Commission. As the story progresses their faith shines through as another thread, but more importantly, they demonstrate what the Christian life looks like. I want the inspirational arc to be revealed naturally through the story.

5)  What is your general purpose as an author?

My general purpose as an author is my general purpose in everything I do¬¬—to glorify Christ. But the message I hope to convey to my readers through my stories, is that God is in the business of rehabilitating lives, and there is no one not worth His time.

6)  What is your greatest challenge in your writing?

My greatest challenge is time. I home-school my children, and I am also the Children’s Ministry Director for my church. Both take up huge chunks of time, but they are commitments I have made, and I need to be obedient and responsible in carrying those duties out. If it means I start my day at 5AM to get my word count in, then that is what I do. People ask me all the time how I am able to write. I tell them the question isn’t how I am I able. The question is how much do I want it?

7)  "Real Virtue" has a lot to do with gaming and gaming addiction.  I am currently seeing a neurological chiropractor who treats a lot of children who deal with ADD and other neurological disorders.  Recently I saw a sign in his office that said something to the effect of the neurological patients could not play any kind of video or computer game except for the motion control games, like Wii, because these games have negative neurological effects on the brain.  My mind immediately went to "Real Virtue."  During your research for "Real Virtue," did you come across any information on the effects of gaming on one's health (mental or physical)?

Yes, I did, but I will be honest and say I didn’t pay too much attention to the damaging brain effects, so I can’t give you any hard facts about them. I paid more attention to the addicting effects and how people use games as a means of escape and to avoid the problems they face in their real lives. I read many interviews where kids and young adults admitted to preferring their virtual lives over their real ones. In real life they can’t zap out of a situation they don’t like. They can in their virtual world.

I find it extremely interesting that your chiropractor would post this note, though. It means he is seeing more and more cases where people are experiencing neurological problems that are related to gaming, and honestly, I think it will only get worse.


8)  Please share a little of your research for "Real Virtue."  Did you play any video games for your research?

AHA! Yes, I did, but not at first. I was kind of afraid to open these accounts. They want credit card numbers so you can buy things for your avatar, and I could see how one simple purchase could get out of hand. I could also see the allure people might have to it with their bright color screens and beautiful people and amazing promises of the perfect life. There are many out there to choose from. There are adventurous games of travel to the violent variety, like wars and vampires. But then there are also the sites geared toward children. I suppose if you get them used to buying into these at a young age, kids will grow up thinking it is normal and will continue to do so.


9)  I had noticed your characters were so real in "Real Virtue," Arlene (the main character's mother) especially, who deals with schizophrenia.  Then I saw on one of your interviews on another blog that she was based on your mother, which made a lot of sense.  Are any of the other characters taken from your real-life experiences?

Yes, Arlene is loosely based on my mom. Like my mom, Arlene suffers from the horrible brain disease, Schizophrenia. When I set out to write Real Virtue, I did not plan for Arlene to have this disease. Never in my wildest imagination did I think my story would link up with it either, but during my research of online virtual-reality gaming I came across an avatar with this affliction. You see, in Real Virtue, it is my heroine who is the gamer and takes her pastime a little too far. She is living a life that is a bit removed from reality…just like her mother. But in Mel’s case, she has the choice.

But, Mel is in no way based on a particular person in my life, other than perhaps my kids who, in my opinion, play too many video games. I see how they get sucked into a game and nothing around them matters anymore, not even their friends. I’ve watched my son’s friend go home because my son wasn’t talking to him. I put a one-hour limit on gaming in my house, because if I don’t they would play all day without even realizing it.

As for my hero, Jeremy Stiles, I WISH there was someone in this world he was based on. (SIGH) But seriously, I had to create a man who would outshine the virtual world Mel preferred. He had to be someone who could see the truth and stand by it, but still love her through it. The world could use more Jeremy’s.


FYI-I want people to know Real Virtue is not some high-tech computer story non-gamers wouldn’t understand. Only a small fraction takes place in the virtual world, just enough for the reader to get a feel for it. The rest is a small-town, coming-home story.

I hope you enjoy it!



Thank you, Megan for having me on your blog! Readers, I love comments and would love to hear from you.

And please keep in touch with me at my website: www.KatyLeeBooks.com

You will see links for Twitter and Facebook. Let’s connect and get to know each other!



BIO:

Katy Lee writes higher purpose stories in high speed worlds. As an inspirational author, speaker, home-schooling mom, and children’s ministry director, she has dedicated her life to sharing tales of love, from the greatest love story ever told to those sweet romantic stories of falling in love. Her fresh and unique voice brings a fast-paced and modern feel to her romances that are sure to resonate with readers long after the last page. Her debut novel Real Virtue is a finalist in many writing contests, and took second place in the 2011 Georgia Maggie Award of Excellence. Katy lives in New England with her husband, three children, and two cats.


And here is a bit about Real Virtue:



In a virtual reality game where she can fly, someone’s aiming to take her down.

Mel Mesini is a New York City restaurateur and an avid, virtual reality world traveler. But her successful life—both online and in reality—takes a swerve the night her father is seriously injured in a hit-and-run. To make matters worse, Officer Jeremy Stiles, the man who had once cut her deep with his harsh, rejecting words, is heading the investigation.


When Jeremy realizes Mel is the actual target, he plans to protect her—whether she wants him to or not. What he wants is answers, especially about this online game she plays. Is it a harmless pastime as she says? Or is she using it to cover something up? As a faceless predator destroys the things that matter to her, Jeremy knows he’s running out of time before she loses the one thing that matters most—her real life.

Real Virtue is available in ebook format, paperback in November. It is available on Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com and Soulmatepublishing.com



LINKS:







Thank you so much Katy for being on my blog and for the interview!  I would highly recommend Real Virtue to anyone.  I am reading it right now and I love it! 


























Monday, May 14, 2012

Congrats to Faith, Hope Cherry Tea who won a copy of The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr by Sandra Byrd!  Thank you so much to all who entered!  I really appreciate it.  Remember, it comes out June 5, 2012 so don't forget to pick yourself up a copy!  Thanks again to Sandra Byrd for providing the book for the giveaway.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Personalized Invitation/Stationary Giveaway--"Decorable Designs" Etsy Shop Feature and Review

I know that I usually do book reviews, but I have decided to branch out into some other areas.  I have some new and exciting things coming up this month.  I have been asked to be the administrator for the International Book Club of Clean Reads!  I'll be hosting Katy Lee, the author of Real Virtue, next week on my blog and I'll share more about her book and the club then.  I'm also excited to mix it up with some awesome product reviews and giveaways that I have lined up!  This week I'm reviewing our first amazing product, stationary and invitations from Decorable Designs.  Coming up, we have Sea Snax and Kristine's Shower.  If you have a product or shop you would like me review or giveaway on my blog, please send me an e-mail at Meganleigh844@gmail.com.

_______________________________________________________

Congrats to our winner, Kristie!  Thank you so much to all who entered and stopped by!

I'm honored to be hosting Etsy shop owner Aubrey Roth on my blog today!  Her shop is called "Decorable Designs" and can be found on Etsy.  Please take a moment by clicking here to go to her shop and check out all of her amazing creations! 









Review:
Aubrey sent me this really cute bridal shower mad lib to review.  Usually she will personalize her product to fit the order (such as to put the date of the wedding in the little jars and the bride and groom's names in their respective places in the story).  She said most guests just order her invitations and stationary as a DIY printable (they come in GREAT prices for wedding invitations)!  Then the customer can print their order out themselves once Aubrey sends it to them on the via e-mail.  That way a person doesn't have to worry about something getting lost in the mail and it is also fast service.  Aubrey recommends that her customers print the ivitations and stationary on white card stock.  She even sends them with an extra border to make it easier to cut them out. 

I think this mad libs is so cute and such a fun idea for a bridal shower!  It has bright, spring-like colors.  I love the sunflowers in the jars at the top that give it that extra touch!  It will bring lots of laughs all around and is a memento that the bride will cherish for years to come.  


Aubrey's Shop:

As mentioned above, Aubrey does a lot of the DIY invitations and stationary, where she will personalize them for you and then you print them out.  Aubrey can also do a complete custom order for you (where she designs and prints everything).  Here are some of Aubrey's creations that I just had to share (notice that I chose a lot of the book-themed ones--but she has all sorts of different themes, so be sure to check out her shop). 

Bookworm Birthday Invitation!
 

Victorian Wedding Invitation

Scrabble Wedding Invitation



Bookmark is part of Baby Shower Package


Giveaway:  One lucky winner will receive a personalized invitation of their choice from Decorable Designs ($10-15 value) or apply that amount towards a custom order.  At the end of the contest, I will announce the winner and also contact them by e-mail, letting them know they won.  Aubrey will also contact the winner by e-mail to discuss his/her choice of a prize.  Contest will run from Friday, May 11th until midnight on Friday, May 18th. 

Requirements:
  • U.S. only
  • Must be over the age of 13
  • Please leave your e-mail address so I can contact you
  • You must visit Aubrey's shop, and then leave a comment below telling me your favorite item in the shop

You can also follow Aubrey's shop on Twitter and on Facebook.  Here's her e-mail address if you want to send her a message:  decorabledesigns@gmail.com.  She is so sweet and a pleasure to work with!  I'm so grateful to Aubrey for agreeing to do this giveaway and allow me to share her wonderful shop with you!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Bourne by Lisa Bergren (Review)--A great addition to the River of Time series


Cover of Bourne with Lord Greco
Usually as an author adds on to a series, the books seem to get less and less exciting.  The first book is usually the amazing one and after that the author appears to be trying too hard.  Bourne is number 3.1 in the River of Time Series by Lisa Bergren (being just a novella, hence the 0.1) and it is Bergren's best work yet!  I'm not the only reader who feels this way.  I've read rave reviews by many other readers on Goodreads and by bloggers who have posted reviews on their blogs and all have been saying that they feel Bourne is truly the best of the series.  It seems to be unanimous all around, with many readers even saying Bourne is one of their favorite books of all time!

Having loved all three of the previous books in the River of Time series--Waterfall, Cascade and Torrent (click here to read my review of them)--I have been eager to read Bourne.  I was a little worried that Bourne might not live up to all the hype, but I love it just as much as all of the other die-hard fans!

Readers should definitely read the other three books first before they read Bourne as Bourne picks up where Torrent left off.  Bourne has a lot of back story from the other three novels. 

BOURNE SUMMARY: (from www.lisabergren.com)
In this e-novella, River of Time #3.1, the dramatic tale about the Betarrinis and Forellis continues, picking up directly after where Torrent left off… The battle is done at the front, but the battle is only beginning back at Castello Forelli. Marcello fights for his life; Lord Greco fights to find his place; and Lia fights for love.

Lia
In the beginning, the men of the series are returning from battle.  They aren't completely safe as they return, though.  Marcello has been deeply wounded and many others are as well.  Lord Greco is dealing with conflicting feelings and has almost tried to kill himself in battle.  They then face even greater danger from the enemy as the enemy now targets the rest of the secret brotherhood that Marcello, Luca, and Lord Greco are all a part of.  Thus begins an exciting and breath-taking adventure that Gabi and Lia get swept up into as well!  Can they save the rest of the brotherhood that is scattered across the countryside before the enemy gets to them?

This novella also has a lot more intense scenes and introspection (if that's even possible for a River of Time book!) than the previous ones. Because the men are returning from the fighting, we see a lot of the aftermath of war close-up, deal with more loss, and deep anguish. The medieval times weren't pretty and Lisa Bergren does a wonderful job of displaying that realistically and also showing how the Betarrini's come to terms with how to live their lives in a way that is pleasing to God in the midst of all of that. They learn to cherish life and live it to the fullest.

Luca
I love how Bergren shifts the story between Lia and Gabi's point of view.  I feel I got to know Lia a lot more in this story and that she has a lot more of a voice.  I especially enjoyed the romantic scenes between Lia and Luca!!!  They are so sweet and I love that their relationship is fleshed out more as well!


These are just some of the many things I love about this great book!  I give it 5 out of 5 stars!

Clean content:  There is a lot of violence, but I wouldn't say it is too graphic for a young adult to handle.  Also, read above for more on the subject of Bergren realistically portraying medieval times.  This is a clean read.

To learn more about this awesome book and the River of Time Series, visit Lisa Bergren's website, follow her on Twitter, and "like" her River of Time Series Fan Page.

*I want to thank Lisa Bergren for the complimentary pdf copy of this novella for review.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I express in this review are my own.