Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Perfectly Piña Colada Popsicles

These look fun and easy!

Perfectly Piña Colada Popsicles

It's summer and I'm still obsessed with making my own popsicles. But this time? I'm not sharing with the kids. These delicious 3 ingredient Piña Colada Popsicles are perfect for the adults, not just the kids!


Sponsored post #PlateFullCoOp
Platefull Co-Op

Monday, July 30, 2012

Midwife of the Blue Ridge by Christine Blevins

Title: Midwife of the Blue Ridge
Author: Christine Blevins

Pages: 432 pages

Genre: Historical Fiction, mid 1700's
Edition: I received this book from Ms. Blevins, and believe it was one of her Author Copies. Christine - Thank you SO much!! I loved your book!



****Ok - this was another all-time favorite book, so I wanted to make sure it was featured here on What Wendi Wants - again, forgive the older writing, I did this one in 2008, and it was one of my first reviews! ***


Perfect for : Book Club Reading (Note, the author has included a list of thoughtful questions at the back of the book) , Lit or History class reading, Personal reading

In a nutshell: I couldn't put it down - literally! Three nights in a row, my poor husband woke up around midnight to find me still reading in bed with a tiny light so I could finish the book! The story begins in 1746 Scotland, and continues in America 1763. The story surrounds Maggie Duncan, a young Scottish girl orphaned at an early age due to the massacre of her village by the English. After helping a wounded Scottish man to his home, she learns her skills as a midwife from his wife Hannah, who dies and leaves her alone in a village where the people believe she is bad luck. She travels to America as an indentured servant, intending to trade four years of service in exchange for freedom. She overcomes every hurdle encountered in this new life. This is a story of endurance, hope and love. Christine Blevins has cleverly included many details from the period to give readers a very vivid dose of what life was like in those times. She also gives us a glimpse of viewpoints from both the American settler and American Indian. This was an amazing book, and I particularly appreciated the fact that she wove both the good and bad into her story, which gave the reader a better sense of the times and the realities that people faced.

Description from Amazon:
They call her Dark Maggie for her thick black hair, but the name also has a more sinister connotation. As the lone survivor of an attack on her village, she was thought to be cursed -- and unfit for marriage. Maggie is also gifted with quick wits and skilled in medicine, trained as a midwife. Venturing to the colonies as an indentured servant, she hopes to escape the superstitions of the old country -- and find a home of her own. But what she discovers is a New World fraught with new dangers.

First Paragraph:
"Its a rare thing for a child to be delivered at my convenience . . . " Hannah launched herself from the warm cocoon of her bedcovers. A midwife is never surprised by a knock on the door in the middle of the night, but Hannah Cameron was indeed surprised when she opened the door and found a strange, bedraggled mite of a girl on her stair step.

My Review:
The story begins in 1746 Scotland, right after the battle of Culloden, where a seven year old Maggie Duncan has miraculously survived the massacre of her village. She finds Alan, a mortally wounded highlander who fought at Culloden and helps him travel home to his wife, Hannah. Hannah is grateful to Maggie for bringing her Alan home, and when she loses him and finds that Maggie is alone in the world, she takes the girl in and begins to teach her about herbs and midwifery.


Hannah tries to prepare Maggie for life without her protection by telling Maggie that she and Alan had planned on going to America as indentured servants, explaining that after four years of service, they would be free and could claim land for themselves. She encourages Maggie to leave for America, adding that once she is gone, there will be no protection from the superstitious villagers who call Maggie "Dark Maggie" and think she has the evil eye.

The story continues in 1763, when Maggie is now trying to survive on her own among a people who are afraid of her. A sea captain offers Maggie the chance to sign a contract and travel to the new world as an indentured servant. She agrees and begins the long trip to America, where the story really takes off.

Maggie uses her skills to help the other travellers on board the ship, and when they land in Virginia, her contract is won by a settler named Seth Martin, who is in desperate need of help for his ailing wife who is pregnant. Maggie is the answer to his prayers. I will stop describing the book at this point as I don't want to ruin it for anyone. Needless to say, the adventure has just begun, and before it is over, Maggie will experience loss, love, heartache and challenges as she forges a new life in this New World. She will encounter settlers, hunters, black slaves and Native Americans. Throughout her experience, she makes the best of her situation and continues to add to her skills as a healer/midwife.

The story is filled with characters who have been created with depth of character, having both strengths and faults alike. Meet the characters (there were SO many wonderful characters, but I will only include a few here):
  • Maggie Duncan - learns healing skills from a local midwife/healer after her village is brutally murdered. She travels from Scotland to America with high hopes of a new life as a free person.
  • Seth Martin - the settler who purchases her contract in America. Married to ailing Naomi who is pregnant again after suffering the loss of another baby. Seth and Naomi have three other children: Jack, Winnie, Battler.
  • Tom Roberts - an accomplished hunter/bachelor who survived life with a tribe of Native Americans and now successfully hunts and trades to earn his living.
  • Cavendish - the son of a Duke, he has been sent to America by his father to escape from the consequences of some of his actions. He is a lecher and drunk. He supervises black slaves in the creation of a tobacco plantation after chasing settlers off the land he has been charged with controlling.
  • Simon Peavey - young man who was raised by Native Americans. He does not quite fit in either world, that of the Americans or the Native Americans. He comes across as a selfish young man, who is not quite mature enough to deal with the life he faces.
  • Figg - a mentally slow individual whose character develops throughout the second half of the story, and who has a large part in the conclusion. His character grows on you.
This is a story of endurance, hope and love, passion and perseverance. Christine Blevins has cleverly included many details from the period to give readers a very vivid dose of what life was like in those times. She must have done a lot of research in both the period of history and herbal lore. I learned a lot of facts I was not aware of while reading this book.

She also weaves into her story an accounting of viewpoints from both the American settler and American Indian, which I found refreshing, creating a feeling that both peoples felt they were in the right.

This was an amazing book, and I particularly appreciated the fact that she wove the good and bad into her story - this was a harsh time in history, and many books sugar-coat it by challenging the characters with getting the crop in before it rains. That said, please note that I would not recommend this book for young adults as some of the scenes within the book were appropriate for adults, but could be too graphic for youngsters (there is a rape scene, scalping, a soldier is staked and burned alive,etc.). I do believe the scenes were very well-written and an appropriate representation of the time. I am very glad Christine Blevins took the time to research as much as she did - I've got a much better understanding of exactly how dangerous it could be on the Frontier during those times!

**I apologize now for those of you reading this first posting - I will most likely return and revise the review as I recall things from the book. I stayed up too late last night to finish the book, but couldn't wait to post something about it as I loved it so much!

About the author:


This is Christine's first book. Take a moment to visit Christine Blevins website here.

Christine has posted an excerpt of her book on her website [removed due to broken link] and I encourage you to go read it - I truly loved this book!

From her site (I took this information from multiple pages):
The MIDWIFE OF THE BLUE RIDGE story combines two concepts that intrigue me – war as a catalyst that transforms lives, and the pioneer spirit – the willingness to venture into the unknown.

Being a first generation American, and knowing only too well why and how my family “came across the water”, I was fascinated by my husband Brian’s family history – Americans as far back as anyone could figure. This link to the American past belonged to my children, and so by extension, it now belonged to me. Together, Brian and I began to research the Blevins line – I was looking for my American roots. While researching we bumped into a pair of interesting fellows – Will Blevins, and his brother-in-law Elijah Wallen. These men lived in the foothills of the Blue Ridge around 1761. Both men were longhunters, and they were among the first handful of white men to venture through the Cumberland Gap into uncharted wilderness beyond the mountains.

Well, these longhunter guys drew me onto the colonial frontier, and they proved to be the inspiration for the Tom Roberts character.

The midwife Maggie Duncan is inspired by the classic immigrant story similar to my parent’s story. Maggie’s young life was disrupted by the grand events of her time – events beyond her control that eventually forced her to venture into the unknown in search of a better life.

I set out to write the kind of book I love to read á la my favorite historical authors like Dumas, Sabatini, Clavell and Cornwell. I combined Maggie’s immigrant tale with Tom’s yearning to see what lie beyond the horizon. I threw in a few faithful friends, a despicable Englishman, a woman of easy virtue, a giant named Figg and a dog named Friday. I mixed it all up with a good portion of adventure, action, tragedy and romance and I wound up with MIDWIFE OF THE BLUE RIDGE. 


*** Special Note: This post was originally written in 2008 and was posted on my other blog Wendi's Book Corner *** 

 Disclosure: I received this book in exchange for my honest review. I am an Amazon Associate.

Book Review: Silent in the Grave (A Lady Julia Grey Novel) by Deanna Raybourn

Title: Silent in the Grave
Author: Denna Raybourn
Edition: Standard Book



****Ok, this is one of my reviews from 2008, so my writing style has changed a lot, but this book/series remains a favorite to this day, so I wanted to share it with you here on What Wendi Wants****

Perfect for : Personal reading, Book Club recommendation, Really a MUST HAVE for fans of mystery, romance, and Regency/Victorian Era books

In a nutshell: A wonderfully written first book set in 1886. The story takes place in London, 1886 and masterfully combines mystery and a hint of romance. The book begins: "To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband's dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching upon the floor." From there, it flows very nicely and keeps the reader's attention. The characters are well-written and fascinating, the settings well-described, and the plot intriguing. Once I picked this book up, I literally could not put it down, to the dismay of my family (husband and one year old) - I was exhausted for a few days (read through the night . . . well . . . many nights) and picked it up every moment I could during the day - I believe I even burned dinner one night because I kept telling myself - dinner can cook for just one more paragraph over and over!

Product description from Amazon.com:
"Let the wicked be ashamed, and let them be silent in the grave."

These ominous words, slashed from the pages of a book of Psalms, are the last threat that the darling of London society, Sir Edward Grey, receives from his killer. Before he can show them to Nicholas Brisbane, the private inquiry agent he has retained for his protection, Sir Edward collapses and dies at his London home, in the presence of his wife, Julia, and a roomful of dinner guests.

Prepared to accept that Edward's death was due to a longstanding physical infirmity, Julia is outraged when Brisbane visits and suggests that Sir Edward has been murdered. It is a reaction she comes to regret when she discovers the damning paper for herself, and realizes the truth.

Determined to bring her husband's murderer to justice, Julia engages the enigmatic Brisbane to help her investigate Edward's demise. Dismissing his warnings that the investigation will be difficult, if not impossible, Julia presses forward, following a trail of clues that lead her to even more unpleasant truths, and ever closer to a killer who waits expectantly for her arrival.

The story takes place in 1886 London, and centers around Lady Julia Grey, who loses her husband in the opening chapter, and meets the man who tries to help her solve his mysterious death over his dying body. Meet Nicholas Brisbane, the man who had been approached by her husband prior to his death to investigate what he thought was a murder threat.

The overall plot of the story is entertaining, and will lead you on a great adventure.

The characters were well-written and work together to create quite an interesting team:
  • Lady Julia Grey: Main character, who loses her husband and turns into an investigator to learn the truth behind his death.
  • Nicholas Brisbane: Darkly handsome and mysterious man from society who approaches Julia, offering his services as a discreet investigator to help find her husband's murderer. (He is one of my favorite characters as you continue to learn about him in bits and pieces throughout the book)
  • Aquinas: Lady Julia's proud butler
  • Morag: Julia's personal maid, with a sordid past
  • Magda: Gypsy lady who does Julia's laundry
  • Aunt Ursula "The Ghoul": Julia's Aunt, well-known in the family to be obsesses with death, who moves in with any family member who has suffered a loss in order to provide "support."
  • Fleur: Close friend of Nicholas, courtesan
I loved the twists and turns provided throughout the book, the glimpses of the character's pasts, and the feeling of anticipation that built as I read.
If you are a fan of this type of book, it is a must have, and if you aren't a fan of this genre, take a chance and give it a try - I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Other books in the series: Silent in the Sanctuary (Book 2, available now), Silent on the Moor (Book 3, available March 2009)

*** Special Note: This post was originally written in 2008 and was posted on my other blog Wendi's Book Corner ***

Disclosure: I received this book in exchange for my honest review. I am an Amazon Associate.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Book Review: Jesse (The Secret Lives of Cowboys, Book 3) by C.H. Admirand

I have read all three of the books in C.H. Admirand's The Secret Lives of Cowboys series, which includes: Tyler (Book 1), Dylan (Book 2) and now Jesse (Book 3).  I loved them all, but I think my favorite is Jesse, because while the story is focused on the third Garahan brother Jesse, you also get to read about the other two and their significant others as well.

Jesse's story is special.  He has been burned in the recent past by the same woman TWICE.  That is twice his heart was broken, and now he is fiercely loyal to his brothers and the Circle G Ranch.

One afternoon, he stops to help a woman who's car has broken down by the side of the road, little knowing that it will change his life forever.

Danielle's car has overheated and she is SO close to her beloved Uncle's home, where she hopes to be able to pull her life together and start fresh with her little pink cowgirl daughter Lacy, whose father up and left both ladies after he decided that married life wasn't for him and he wanted to focus on his bull-riding career.

It seems that fate has thrown Jesse, Danielle and little Lacy together to see if they can learn to trust and love again.

Readers will fall in love with ALL the characters, including Danielle's Uncle, but especially with little Lacy.  And we get a good peek at the Garahan brother's cousins, which I hope will lead to more books!!

I absolutely love C.H. Admirand's writing style.  She has infused her books with warmth and rugged family values.  You want to meet her characters in real life, and what I wouldn't give to visit the Circle G Ranch and eat at Danielle's Uncle's Diner.

Cowboy Romances aren't my normal reads, and I LOVE these, so even if they aren't YOUR norm, run out and give one a try - I'll bet you'll love these Irish brothers and their gals as much as I do.



Jesse (The Secret Lives of Cowboys, Book 3)  
 by C.H. Admirand  
 Sourcebooks Casablanca (July 3, 2012)  ~ 352 pages
 Fiction / Romance / Western

Edition Reviewed: ARC- Review copy received courtesy of the publisher, many thanks to both the author and the publisher for sending me a copy to review!


About the Book:
Jesse Garahan is the third and youngest Garahan brother, and has all the Irish charm. He’s had his heart broken twice by the same woman, so he no longer believes in love. Until he meets Danielle Brockway and her tiny daughter Lacey, on their way to their new home in Pleasure, Texas.

Danielle’s worthless husband left her high and dry with their little daughter, cleaning out their bank account before she filed for divorce. Now she’s alone, but she knows she can make it in the small town where life is simple… Then she encounters Jesse. She just can’t seem to help herself where long-limbed, swaggering Texas men are concerned. As the passion between them flares, suddenly, life is anything but simple.

About the Author: (from the Publisher)
C.H. Admirand was born in Aiken, South Carolina. She has published 9 bestselling novels for the library market. Her Secret Life of Cowboy trilogy, published by Sourcebooks Casablanca, includes Tyler, Dylan and now, Jesse. She lives with her husband, who is the inspiration for all of her heroes’ very best traits, in northern New Jersey, where she is working on a brand new small town romance series, beginning with in the Fall of 2012. For more information, please visit http://www.chadmirand.com/ or follow her on twitter, @chadmirand.


*Disclosure: I am an Amazon Associate. I get a very small amount for any purchases made when you click through a link from Wendi's Book Corner, which I then save up to buy more books. :)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

AstroBrights Papers for All Your Paper Needs #goastrobrights

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Astrobrights Papers by Neenah Paper for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

I don't think you realize how important paper is until you go to do a special craft project or work on a project for school, work or home.  THAT is when great paper makes a BIG difference, and where AstroBrights papers comes in.

AstroBrights papers come in 23 different colors, making sure you have the perfect color for your home, school or work project.  Their paper is also great to make brochures, flyers, signs, invitations, announcements and craft projects.  AstroBrights paper helps your projects stand out.  

Right now, courtesy of AstroBrights, you can help your local elementary school by entering the "Give a Brighter Year" where you could win a cash prize and supplies worth $30,000.  The winner will get to choose a local elementary school of their choice to receive the cash and prizes.

You can also participate in Astrobrights' family-friendly "Make Something AstroBright" design challenges where you can use your creativity for a chance to win AstroBrights papers and other prizes.  You are able to share your projects via photographs and video.  If you choose to share your projects and creations via Pinterest or Twitter, please include the hashtag #goastrobrights.

AstroBrights papers will be great for summer crafts projects, garage sale signs, party invitations and SCRAPBOOKING!  I've got a lot of scrapbooking to catch up on.

With school starting dates approaching (I know, you didn't want to face that yet did you?), I'll bet AstroBrights papers will come in handy for a multitude of projects: school crafts, reports, diarama projects, school notices, parent meetings, invitations, etc. 

So now I challenge you - what will you use AstroBrights papers for?  I encourage you to enter both "Give a Brighter Year" and "Make Something AstroBright."

Visit Sponsor's Site

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Skipper's Revenge by Julie Murphy Teahan

Book Title: Skipper's Revenge
Author: Julie Murphy Teahan



I first read this book as part of a bzzCampaign through bzzAgent. I enjoyed it so much, I recommended it for one of the book clubs I participate in. We had a great time reading and discussing this book.

Back of book:

I never got my chance to be Barbie. My fate as a Skipper was forever sealed.
Since 1950, seven out of every ten girls in America have owned a Barbie doll. Paige Sheehan was not one of them. Her mother believed that playing with a doll whose breasts made up half of her body mass was inappropriate for a nine-year-old girl.

During her childhood, Paige was forced to sneak to a friend’s house for her Barbie fixes, where she was directed to play Barbie’s less glamorous younger sister, Skipper. Now more than twenty years later, Paige has a theory that women are either Barbies or Skippers—and she still longs to play the superior role. Barbie women come readily stocked with beauty and accessories galore. Skippers are the younger sisters, impatient to grow up from their awkward adolescence and fill the high-heeled shoes of their glamorous sibling.

Confronted with a failed relationship, a dying father, and a legal entanglement, Paige is forced to look beyond packaging. Unlike Barbie, born with an empire of houses, clothes, and companions, Paige discovers the value of being what she considers to be less than perfect. With a new love interest and a renewed sense of self, Paige takes on the seemingly Barbie-dominated world around her with wit, style, and determination.


I found this book to be refreshingly fun to read, as well as highly entertaining.

True to its title, the main character Paige Sheehan compares all people in life to Mattell's Barbie doll or her younger sister Skipper . . . describing herself as Skipper, lacking the perfect figure, perfect hair, great wardrobe and stylish boyfriend.

Throughout the book, Paige overcomes one challenge after another, including a rediculous lawsuit, boyfriend troubles, and a significant death in her family, showing us that it is these things that help to build her character.

I loved this book from start to finish and would challenge men and women alike to take a peak into the world Julie Murphy Teahan has created for Paige - you might find more than you expected!

*** Special Note:  This post was originally written in 2008 and was posted on my other blog Wendi's Book Corner ***

Disclosure:  I received this book in exchange for my honest review.  I am an Amazon Associate.

A Song For the Missing by Stewart O'Nan

Title: Songs for the Missing
Author: Stewart O'Nan
Available: October 30th, 2008
Edition Read: Advance Reader Copy: I received the book Songs for the Missing by Stewart O'Nan by participating in the Barnes and Nobles First Look Program, where I got to discuss the book with other pre-readers and also got a chance to interact with the author himself. What an opportunity!



Best Read For: Personal reading, book club reading, great for discussions

In a nutshell: Stuart O'Nan has written a fictional book that reads like non-fiction in that it explores the events and emotions experienced by friends, family, neighbors and volunteers as the search for a missing girl progresses, providing the reader with great insight into what experiences might be like surrounding a missing person. I found myself viewing events going on around me a little differently after reading this book, giving a little more thought to what the friends and family of news stories are experiencing.

Synopsis from Barnes & Noble's Website:
An enthralling portrait of one family in the aftermath of a daughter’s disappearance. “It was the summer of her Chevette, of J.P. and letting her hair grow.” It was also the summer when, without warning, popular high school student Kim Larsen disappeared from her small Midwestern town. Her loving parents, her introverted sister, her friends and boyfriend, must now do everything they can to find her. As desperate search parties give way to pleading television appearances, and private investigations yield to personal revelations, we see one town’s intimate struggle to maintain hope, and finally, to live with the unknown.
Stewart O’Nan’s new novel begins with the suspense and pacing of a thriller and soon deepens into an affecting family drama of loss. On the heels of his critically acclaimed and nationally bestselling Last Night at the Lobster, Songs for the Missing is an honest, heartfelt account of one family’s attempt to find their child. With a soulful empathy for these ordinary heroes, O’Nan draws us into the world of this small Midwestern town and allows us to feel a part of this family.


My point of view:
A fictional book that seems like a non-fiction documentary. My attention was caught after reading the first chapter - I had to know what happened next! This is the heartwrenching story of a young girl about ready to leave the high school and town she has known all her life to begin her next journey in college, who vanishes.

Stewart O'Nan has done a wonderful job of engaging readers so they can gain some insight into what happens when a family member or friend goes missing. He delves into what thoughts go through peoples minds, what processes are followed and why, and the emotional changes taking place in everyones lives, from the younger sister, father, mother, boyfriend, best friend, neighbors, media, etc.

Prior to reading this book, I had never really considered just what a family goes through when a member goes missing - this book does a great job of filling in the blanks (speaking as someone who has never gone through a situation like this).

This is a thought provoking book that would make a good book club read.

**Please note that this is a copy of one of my reviews posted in 2008 on Wendi's Book Corner**

Disclosure:  I received an ARC copy of the book in exchange for my honest review, and I am an Amazon Affiliate
 

Hit Counter
Littlest Pet Shop