Tuesday, May 19, 2015

For the Right Reasons by Sean Lowe (Review)

For the Right Reasons: America's Favorite Bachelor on Faith, Love, Marriage, and Why Nice Guys Finish First
by Sean Lowe
Non-Fiction / Memoir
Available February 2015
Thomas Nelson
272 pages



About the Book
The "virgin Bachelor" Sean Lowe reveals the challenges of finding love while championing his Christian convictions in the morally complex world of reality TV.
 
After The Bachelorette broke his heart, Sean Lowe suspected his "nice guy" image hurt him. The show never emphasized it, but Sean committed to living according to biblical standards of sexuality, even as producers emphasized the risqué and promiscuous. A Texas boy from a Baptist home, Sean tells the story of how he went from a Division I college football player to a fan favorite on reality television, taking readers behind the scenes of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette to see the challenges of living out his values and faith-and ultimately winning his true love's heart.
 
For the Right Reasons is about the journeys we all have to take in the real world, where being "good" is the right thing to do but sometimes doesn't seem to be enough; where betrayal is commonplace; and where that thing called perfection is actually just a cruel myth. Sean learned a few things from his two seasons on the hottest romance shows on television, and he wants others to benefit from those lessons: good does eventually win, lies will be discovered, and "nice guys" do ultimately finish first.

Buy a copy  |  Find out what others think

My Thoughts
I confess, I have been a fan of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette since the very beginning. I've been fed up a time or two and sworn that I would never again watch, but I always get sucked back in. Of course, I was excited to see that Sean Lowe had a book out since he truly was one of the nicest people to ever be on the show. I knew there was something different about him when I watched his seasons, so I was looking forward to reading more of his story.

For the Right Reasons probably won't win awards for the best written book. BUT that doesn't mean I didn't thoroughly enjoy it. I appreciated learning more about his family, career before becoming a reality TV "star," and his personal life. I loved getting the behind-the-scenes story about the process to becoming a contestant, insider info about how the show works, and more details about the things I watched on TV. What a fun read! 

Fans of The Bachelor franchise, fans of Sean Lowe, or anyone who's curious about the inner workings of reality TV will enjoy this book. [4 stars]

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About the Author
Sean Lowe, one of the three finalists on Emily Maynard's popular season of The Bachelorette, later starred in the 2013 season of The Bachelor. Credited by the New York Times for "reinvigorating the franchise," he has been voted America's favorite Bachelor and is the only one to marry his match from the show. Sean and his bride, Catherine, live in Dallas, Texas, with their two dogs, Ellie and Lola.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Bout of Books 13 | Wrap-Up

Bout of Books

I'll be honest. I'm sad to see this week of Bout of Books end. I felt like I really got in a rhythm with my reading this week. While it's definitely not sustainable, it was fun. I'm already looking forward to the next read-a-thon in August!

My Goals
I kept it simple this time. My only goal was to read 5 books.

How Did I Do?
I finished 8 books! Yes, EIGHT books!!! I also read portions of 2 others, which I will finish today (!!!). That's a grand total of 1,534 pages! I also participated in all 6 challenges. LOVED the challenges this time! I honestly couldn't be more pleased with how things played out this week!

The Books

No Place to Hide by Lynette Eason - Finished!
Princess for Hire by Lindsey Leavitt - Finished!
A Heart's Danger by Colleen Coble - Finished!
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart - Finished!
All Fall Down by Ally Carter - Finished!
The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma (audio) - Finished!
On a Ring and a Prayer by Sandra D. Bricker - Finished!
Katia's Promise by Catherine Lanigan - Finished!
For the Right Reasons by Sean Lowe - 61% complete
Messenger by Lois Lowry (audio) - 38% complete


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Bout of Books 13.0 | Challenges

Bout of Books

It's officially time for Bout of Books! There's still a little time left to sign up, Signups are "officially" closed, but you can still join in the fun if you like! I'm posting the daily challenges here on this page. I'm posting daily progress over here, so keep checking in with me. And if you're participating, too, leave me a link so I can hop over and visit!

SATURDAY
Favorite Photo Challenge by Once Upon a Chapter

My challenge is fairly simple: take a photo of your favorite read so far in Bout of Books 13 and share that link with me.

A photo posted by I Blog 4 Books (@iblog4books) on

FRIDAY
Color Cover Challenge by Wishful Endings

Pick a color. Find four books with covers almost completely in that color/those colors and share the covers.


These are four books that I've read and enjoyed (or will read soon!). All have very dark/black covers. Quite the selection, isn't it?

Looking for Alaska by John Green
Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry
Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez
King Lear by William Shakespeare


THURSDAY
From Modern to Classic by Ranty Runt of a Reader

Share one book that you believe will be considered a classic in 100 years time. Simple? I do have a few caveats, the book must have been published in or after 2005 and you need to provide two reasons for why this book will be a classic.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
The author tackles the truth of a difficult time in American history with realism and humor. The writing is near perfection—switching between multiple POVs and dialects. It's a book I hope becomes a classic so that people won't forget the pain of racism as we move forward.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
This book perfectly portrays the horrible mix of feelings that kids with cancer experience on a day-to-day basis. It's perfectly positioned to help kids explore their emotions and provides courageous characters that they can identify with. I've known quite a few (more than normal!) kids battling cancer, and this book is important because it gives their struggles and feelings a voice.

WEDNESDAY
Book Haiku by Kristina Horner

Write a haiku about whatever book you're reading right now.

I've done these little book haikus before and they're always so fun. I even started a "Haiku in Review" feature once but only did a couple. Maybe I'll have to bring that back! Since I've been reading two books (so far!) today, here's a haiku for each. What do you think? Leave me a link in the comments if you wrote a haiku. I'd love to read it!




TUESDAY
Character Face Off by LuLo Fangirl

Create the ultimate character face-off. Pick two of your all-time favorite characters. They can be from the books you chose for the read-a-thon (or not — totally up to you). Even though they are both your favorite, you HAVE to choose one as the winner. And tell me why. Sell me on why this ONE character is your favorite character of ALL characters.

I'm terrible at choosing favorites, so I don't know that these are my absolute favorite characters, but these guys are definitely some of my favorites! And, because I'm an overachiever in EVERY sense of the word, I'm doing a three-round face off! (Think like a bracket for the basketball tournament.)

The Christiansen Family series by Susan May Warren is truly one of my favorites. I thought it would be fun to pitch the guys against each other and choose a favorite from the four books that are out so far.

Round One: The Brothers

Darek Christiansen (from Take a Chance on Me) vs. Casper Christiansen (from Always On My Mind)

Darek
Who: The eldest Christiansen sibling. Runs the family business, the Evergreen Resort. Widower and single father to five-year-old Tiger.
Pros: Loyal to family. Puts the needs of his son above his own. Wants to belong and provide a place of belonging for a special someone.
Cons: Struggles with unforgiveness and anger. History of poor decision-making.

Casper
Who: Christiansen sibling. Aspiring archaeologist.
Pros: Sweet and kind. Refuses to give up on the woman he loves. Turning over a new leaf and be reliable and trustworthy for his family.
Cons: Flounders professionally. Hot tempered (sometimes with good reason!).

Winner: Darek
Why: There's maturity in Darek that is extremely likeable. And while loyalty is a trait that the entire family shares, Darek exhibits it in every aspect of his life—even allowing loyalty to trump his anger and unforgiveness. By the end of his story, he has grown into the type of man that I would hope my friends would fall in love with . . . which is always a plus in a romance novel!

Round Two: The In-Laws

Jace Jacobsen (from It Had To Be You) vs. Maxwell Sharpe (from When I Fall In Love)

Jace
Who: Professional hockey player. Love interest of Eden Christiansen.
Pros: More sensitive than he lets on. Kind, protective, selfless. Uses his celebrity for good when given the opportunity. Loves freely once people get past his barriers.
Cons: Aggressive and bad-tempered. Prone to assume the worst of others—and oftentimes of his friends. 

Maxwell
Who: Professional hockey player. Amateur chef. Love interest of Grace Christiansen.
Pros: Protective and selfless, especially towards Grace. Excellent tour guide. Fun loving.
Cons: Fearful of the future. Big barriers in place to keep others out.

Winner: Max . . . by a hair. :)
Why: This one was nearly too close to call, but Max won me over. He truly is a fun character, and despite his personal struggles (major!), he is conscious of the need to move past the fear and allow himself to live.

Round Three: The Finals
Darek Christiansen vs. Maxwell Sharpe

Winner: Maxwell Sharpe
Why: Both of these guys are amazing and love their women SO well. And they both have a lot of trauma in their pasts—which of course contributes a lot to the men they are today. But Max has overcome a lot and still has to face a lot in the future. There's just something about him that makes my heart squeeze just a bit. I hope Susan treats him well in the rest of the series!

There are still two more books (so two more amazing men!) to come, but I don't know if it's possible to throw Max over for another. I guess I'll just have to wait and see! And now, I'm in the mood for a Christiansen story. Perhaps start re-reading at the beginning? :)

MONDAY
Bookish Survey by Writing My Own Fairy Tale

1. How do you organize your shelves? I'm not sure it's accurate to say that my shelves are organized. :) Hubs organized our main three shelves (in the dining room turned library) by genre. Books by the same authors are grouped together, and they are generally in some sort of height order. Then there's a smaller fiction shelf in the library, a bigger fiction shelf in our bedroom, baskets of books in every room, books on night stands/tables/chairs/and pretty much every other surface. So, organized? Not so much, but I've definitely surrounded myself with books!

2. What is one of your favorite books that’s not in one of your favorite genres? Probably The Fault in Our Stars. I don't read a ton of YA fiction, but this one was pretty much life-changing in the best possible way. (Is that totally cliche?)

3. What is the last 5 star book you read? This one's easy since I just finished it! The Inn at Ocean's Edge by Colleen Coble. You can read my review here.

4. What book are you most excited to read during the read-a-thon? The next one? Which will probably be No Place to Hide by Lynette Eason. Can't wait!

5. What book do you recommend the most? Such a hard question! I typically recommend whatever I'm reading at the moment (or something in the very recent past). But over the past year or so, I've consistently recommended A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet by Sophie Hudson. And I gave it to nearly everyone for Christmas. Seriously, you should read it. Ooh . . . maybe that's my favorite book outside of my normal genres.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Neutrogena Naturals #WipeForWater

I was invited to review Neutrogena Naturals Makeup Removing Wipes. Of course, I was escstatic about the opportunity because who doesn't love a good makeup removing wipe?

Additionally, Neutrogena is challenging people to #WipeForWater:

This Earth Month, Neutrogena® Naturals is partnering with The Nature Conservancy to save water. Take the #WipeforWater challenge and pledge to clean your face without using water — and only using Neutrogena® Naturals Purifying Makeup Remover Cleansing Wipes — for 3 days!

My initial impressions? I really liked the wipes after using them for several days. They were easy to use, had a lovely smell, and did a good job removing my makeup.

After a week? I still liked using them for the convenience, but I realized that (for me) it's important to use a wash cloth, water, and cleanser. I think the wash cloth is especially important because it helps exfoliate. So I definitely liked the product but don't think I would use it every day.

Good for the environment? Well, that's what they say. There were a lot of details on the packaging about how they were made in an environment-conscious way. So that's good, although it's not always my primary consideration when purchasing a product. (Don't hate me!) 

This brand over another? I've used a similar product from Oil of Olay for years now when I travel. The Oil of Olay wipes are a little more "wet" which I prefer. Some of the Neutrogena wipes were almost too dry, which felt a little harsh on my skin at times. Also, I did a little price comparison at the store and found both products on the shelf. The Neutrogena wipes were $2 more and you get 5 fewer wipes. For that reason, I don't know that I would purchase them again unless I felt that some of the other aspects of the wipes (paraben free or something) was more important—or perhaps if I had a coupon.


#WipeForWater: I'd definitely encourage you to accept the challenge. If nothing else, it made me realize how long I leave the water running while I'm washing my face, which just isn't necessary. :) You can sign up here.

I received a free sample of this product for testing purposes from Influenster. This did not affect my thoughts as expressed here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Cover Reveal | Summer Hearts: 6 Summer Tales of Sweet Romance

Thank you so much for coming to join us as we reveal a fantastic new cover!!! 
Every summer has it's love story, and this compilation has 6 fantastic stories that range from historical fiction, contemporary, paranormal, to fantasy!

First, please let me introduce you to the stories included in the compilation: 
Summer Hearts: 6 Summer Tales of Sweet Romance

Book Synopsis:

Dreaming in California:
In the summer of 1967, Hollywood actress, Lucinda Baker, appears to have it all-- fame, money, and an all too doting fiancé. Dark traits begin to emerge from the man she's pledged to marry, and he threatens her. Lucinda must now lean on her best friend, celebrity photographer, George Creston to escape the clutches of the dangerous relationship. Together they are forced to summon courage, and trust each other in desperate circumstances. Will they find love in the process or lose everything they hold dear, including their lives.

A Summer of Stars: 
McKinley Graham has escaped to her summer getaway to regain her perspective and her health.  Zane Davidson has taken refuge in the lovely seaside community, welcoming the healing balm of the salty sea air and his childhood home to mend his wounds.  They aren’t looking for love, but their attraction is too explosive to ignore.  Against the backdrop of starry nights and sultry kisses, they come to realize that even love may not be enough to save them from the angry storm of his past that threatens to destroy their dreams!

Drowning Sandy: 
The water is calling...
and Sandy can no longer resist the urge to unleash her mermaid form. But a simple swim in Lake Ontario ends when she discovers the truth of her own banishment. When long time crush, Alardo, seems to shift in a direction she never dreamed possible, Sandy must make a choice — mermaid or human? Once she chooses, she can never go back.   

Summer Holiday: 
In the summer of 1905, Lizzy Gordon’s father dismisses her desires to be a doctor, demanding she become a teacher—a profession which does not allow women to marry.
Teacher Brent Pierce is dedicated to expanding young minds, but circumstances are forcing him to take over the family farm.
Before the summer is over Lizzy and Brent will be forced to make hard decisions. Can they find the courage to each stand up for themselves and still be together?

Shark Boss:
When Tara takes up a job at the local aquarium, her colleagues warn her about their harsh boss, Mr. Carter Jones. She soon discovers how impatient he can be, but she also can’t deny her fascination and attraction to him. Carter can’t stop watching Tara as she works but holds back from her because of his secrets. If she knew what he was, she would never want him. Could the reason for Carter’s moods be related to something more troubling than what’s on the surface? Tara soon discovers Carter’s secret, and it only bonds them closer. But the curse starts to take over Carter’s life, and he won’t give his heart to a beautiful woman when he can only cause her pain.
The Best Place to Meet a Man:
Jeff goes to the beach to run and clear his head. Meredith goes to the beach intent on burying her nose in her book. In this contemporary romantic comedy, these two collide when Meredith’s two young nephews come up with other plans.


Next, here is a little about the fabulous authors who contributed:
(In the same order as their books appear in the compilation)

Debbie Lee
Debby Lee was raised in the cozy little town of Toledo, Washington. She has been writing since she was a small child and has written several novels, but never forgets home.
The Northwest Christian Writers Association and Romance Writers of America are two organizations Debby enjoys being a part of. Publications, thus far, include a series of short stories titled The Butterfly Fairytales Collection, and a novella with Barbour Publishing.
As a self-professed nature lover, and an avid listener to 1960s folk music, Debby can't help but feel like a hippie child who wasn't born soon enough to attend Woodstock. She wishes she could run barefoot all year long, but often does anyway in grass and on beaches in her hamlet that is the cold and rainy southwest Washington.
During the football season, Debby cheers on the Seattle Seahawks along with legions of other devoted fans. She's also filled with wanderlust and dreams of visiting Denmark, Italy, and Morocco some day.
-->Website                     Blog                     Facebook

Lisa Watson
A native of Washington D.C., Lisa Watson writes multicultural novels with engaging storylines, strong, fun characters with universal appeal. Lisa's Match Broker series, introduced readers to Love Contract, and matchmaking guru, Norma Jean Anderson, aka The Love Broker. Book two in the series, Her Heart’s Desire, was a #1 on Amazon’s Bestseller list, and was listed as one of 2014’s Top 25 Books of the Summer, and Top 50 Best Reads. Book three, Love by Design was #2 on the Amazon Bestseller list.
Her latest story is a Sweet Romance. A Summer of Stars, is one of the novellas in the Summer Hearts Compilation. This exciting new collection featuring five additional authors, and their sweet, beach-themed romances, will be released May 2015.
Lisa works at a technology consulting firm, is the co-publicist for RT BookReview Magazine's annual RT Booklovers Conventions, and host for Reader’s Entertainment Radio show.
Married for nineteen years, with two teenagers, and a Maltipoo, Brinkley, Lisa lives outside Raleigh, NC and is avidly working on a Sweet Romance, and her next series.  




Sarah Daley
Sarah lives in Arizona with her best friend and husband, Chris, their adorable monster child, and neurotic dog.
At the age of six, she became a reading machine. Devouring everything she could possibly get her hands on. In high school she almost failed English three times because of her detest for writing book reports. Today, Sarah writes whatever stories haunt her dreams, and struggles to focus on one idea at a time. When she isn’t enjoying time with her family, or writing, you will find her nose stuck in a book, or out walking and enjoying the sunshine.
Drowning Sandy is her debut novella!


Links to find out what is coming next:




Facebook page         Twitter         Blog             Pintrest           Goodreads             Email


Carol Malone
Award-winning author Carol Malone has successfully combined her three passions – romance, sports, and writing in her two highly-rated books, Fight Card Romance: Ladies Night, and Ladies Night Christmas sequel. She was the first woman to write a romance for the all-male dominated genre. Carol invites her readers to scramble into a front row seat for a thrill-ride of suspense, sports, and romance. If not hammering out new tales, Carol’s loves reading, sports, and hanging with her author husband on the coast of California.


Kathy Bosman

Kathy loves reading and writing even more. She homeschools her three kids, so in between unsuccessfully explaining the difference between subject and predicate or how to divide fractions, she enters an imaginary world of troubled and passionate characters whose stories take over the page. Kathy lives in Kwazulu Natal, South Africa, where the summers are hot, the winters cool, and bugs thrive. Her first published novel, Wedding Gown Girl, came out in 2012 with Astraea Press. She belongs to the Romance Writers of South Africa Group (ROSA) which has been her greatest support and inspiration the last few years.


Robyn Echols

Robyn Echols has been writing since she was in junior high school. By choice, she spent most of her evening hours in her "dungeon", as her mother called her downstairs bedroom, writing stories, only joining her family in front of the television upstairs when her favorite programs were playing. She has spent hours learning and teaching family history topics, and focuses on history from a genealogist's perspective of seeking out the details of everyday life in the past. Several of her family history articles have been published in genealogy magazines.
Now Robyn resides with her husband in California near the “Gateway to Yosemite” and has fun researching and writing the books that she hopes will interest and entertain her readers. She writes Young Adult/New Adult and contemporary fiction under Robyn Echols and adult historical romance under her pen name, Zina Abbott.
When Robyn isn’t busy piecing together novel plots, she stays busy piecing together quilt blocks.


Compiled by R M Alexander
RM Alexander is an author of clean romances that are sometimes contemporary, sometimes paranormal or suspense, but are always ruled by the heart of true romance.
With characters who look for love in the wrong places and are victims or the worse kinds of betrayal while fighting for what they want and believe in, RM's novels promise a good read with unexpected twists and turns.
When she's not writing, RM is spending time with her husband and two small children in Michigan. She loves to travel, especially to Walt Disney World, and can often be found on Twitter or Facebook chatting with other authors and readers.

Cover designed by: Creative Book Covers 
Check them out here: www.creativebookcovers.com

Are you ready to see the fabulous cover?
TA-DA!!!

What do you think? 
Pre-Order you copy here:
 http://amzn.com/B00XFTTN4M 


We are GIVING AWAY 1 Copy of Summer Hearts! 
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Other Blogs Participating in the BIG REVEAL:
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Amazing Author Adventures


April Vine


Author Candy O'Donnell
Beck Valley Books
Blogging For The Love Of Authors And Their Books
Carol Malone
cassiethewriter
Christy's Cozy Corners
Elaine's a Book a Holic
Elsa Winckler
Go Baby Book Obsession
Katie's Clean Book Collection
Kitty Muse and Me
Letters from Annie Douglass Lima
Love Danielle's Escapes
Lynn Spangler
Lynn's Romance Enthusiasm
Mel's Shelves
Robyn Echols Books
Room With Books
Rustys Reading
Semi Short Chic
 
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