Suz's love for COWS + Allan's work with LASERS = one unique blog name! Welcome to our blog filled with race recaps, pictures of our labs, and everything else we share with blogland!

Friday, April 17, 2015

A Sparrow in Terezin by Kristy Cambron

It's been awhile since I've read something that tugged on my heart strings from so many different directions. The story bounces between present day and the World War II era but it was written in such a fashion as to where the switch doesn't distract away from the story at all. While there is a connection between Sera in the present day and Kaja in WWII the two stories are separate but intertwine more and more toward the end where the connection is at last revealed. I did wonder if I would have been better off to read Kristy Cambron's first book (The Butterfly and the Violin) before starting this one so I would have more of the back story that was often referenced throughout this book and perhaps already know the connection between the two women. One of the aspects of this book that I particularly liked was how quickly you get hooked into both women's stories. In the first chapter we meet Sera and William and on their wedding day and before the chapter is over William is arrested for a crime he didn't commit. Talk about hitting the ground running! In the second chapter we meet Kaja and her entire family as their lives are forever changed with the Nazis invading Prague. As each story unfolded I found myself amazed by the strength and resolve both of these women exhibited in the face of trials. In situations where so many would give up or not try as hard these women seemed to push even harder to succeed where others believed they would fail.

If you're like me and you enjoy reading World War II historical fiction you'll enjoy this immensely! Let me know what you think if you decide to pick it up or if you've read The Butterfly and the Violin I'd love to hear about it!

Book info

About the book:
A Sparrow in Terezin (Thomas Nelson, April 2015)

Bound together across time, two women will discover a powerful connection through one survivor's story of hope in the darkest days of a war-torn world.

Present Day---With the grand opening of her new art gallery and a fairytale wedding just around the corner, Sera James feels she's stumbled into a charmed life---until a brutal legal battle against fiancé William Hanover threatens to destroy the perfectly planned future she's planned before it even begins. Now, after an eleventh-hour wedding ceremony and a callous arrest, William faces a decade in prison for a crime he never committed, and Sera must battle the scathing accusations that threaten her family and any hope for a future.

1942---Kája Makovsky narrowly escaped occupied Prague in 1939, and was forced to leave her half-Jewish family behind. Now a reporter for the Daily Telegraph in England, Kája discovers the terror has followed her across the Channel in the shadowy form of the London Blitz. When she learns Jews are being exterminated by the thousands on the continent, Kája has no choice but to return to her mother city, risking her life to smuggle her family to freedom and peace.

Connecting across a century through one little girl, a Holocaust survivor with a foot in each world, these two women will discover a kinship that springs even in the darkest of times. In this tale of hope and survival, Sera and Kája must cling to the faith that sustains and fight to protect all they hold dear---even if it means placing their own futures on the line.

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/1a1Mk02

About the author:

Kristy Cambron
has been fascinated with the WWII era since hearing her grandfather's stories of the war. She holds an art history degree from Indiana University and received the Outstanding Art History Student Award. Kristy writes WWII and Regency era fiction and has placed first in the 2013 NTRWA Great Expectations and 2012 FCRW Beacon contests, and is a 2013 Laurie finalist. Kristy makes her home in Indiana with her husband and three football-loving sons.

Find Kristy online: website, Facebook, Twitter

 Blog Tour Schedule

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As always, don't forget about the new FTC regulation requiring bloggers to disclose whether or not they've been given free product/s in exchange for a review. 
Please include this link to the blog tour post in your review. 


Bound together across time, two women will discover a powerful connection in Kristy Cambron's new book, A Sparrow in Terezin. Connecting across a century through one little girl, a Holocaust survivor with a foot in each world, two women will discover a kinship that springs even in the darkest of times. In this tale of hope and survival, Sera and Kája must cling to the faith that sustains and fight to protect all they hold dear—even if it means placing their own futures on the line.

Kristy is celebrating by giving away a basket filled with goodies inspired by her new book!

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One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A set of poppy notecards
  • A poppy pin
  • A copy of I Never Saw Another Butterfly
  • A copy of the Mrs. Miniver DVD
  • Literary tea bags
  • Tumbler
  • A copy of A Sparrow in Terezin
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Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 28th. Winner will be announced April 29th on Kristy's blog.

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{NOT ON FACEBOOK? ENTER HERE.}

I received this book free of charge from Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Heart's Obsession by Colleen Coble

Book 2 in Colleen Coble's Journey of the Heart series picks up where Book 1 left off and follows Sarah and her younger brother Joel as they accompany Amelia and her new husband (Rand's brother) out west in hopes of joining Rand at Fort Laramie and beginning a life together. Jessica DuBois may have a thing or two to say about that as she has wrapped Rand around her little finger. As Sarah struggles to accept that Jessica makes Rand happy she finds herself being put to good use teaching the Native American children English and becoming quite fond of two of the girls. This blossoming friendship endangers one of the girls when Ben Croftner arrives in Wyoming intent on claiming Sarah as his. Despite her protests he finds another way to bring her pain and once again both Sarah and Rand are tangled up in Ben's plot to claim Sarah for himself. As with Book 1, the novella ends leaving us wondering what will happen next. The only negative thing I can say about this one is that there were a few parts that I wished could have been developed a bit more but it is a novella and a series so perhaps I'll learn more in Book 3! Thank goodness it arrives in a couple weeks.

Book Info
About the book:
A Heart's Obsession (Thomas Nelson, April 2015)

Will Sarah's journey west lead her back into the arms of the one man she can trust?

When her father succumbs to a long illness, Sarah Montgomery is freed from duty to family. At last she can be with the love of her life, Rand Campbell, who has gone out west to Fort Laramie, Wyoming. Sarah and her younger brother Joel make the arduous journey filled with hope.

But at Fort Laramie, the reception Sarah meets isn't what she had hoped for. Her friend Amelia is thrilled to have her, but Rand seems to be in the clutches of Jessica DuBois, the scheming daughter of the post commander.

Sarah resolves to remain at Fort Laramie and try to win Rand back. But things will get tougher before they get easier . . . especially when her ex-fiancé Ben Croftner arrives in Wyoming, obsessed with having her back in his arms.

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/1PsjoPR

About the author:

Colleen Coble
has sold over 2 million novels worldwide. Seagrass Pier, the third installment in her acclaimed Hope Beach series, marks a new highpoint for emotion and complexity in Coble's addictive brand of romantic suspense.

Find Colleen online: website, Facebook, Twitter
  Blog Tour Schedule


Can a woman held captive by her family make it back to the one man she knows she can trust? Find out in book two, A Heart's Obsession, of Colleen Coble's Journey of the Heart series. When Sarah Montgomery’s father succumbs to his long illness, Sarah is faced with a life-altering choice: submit to her brother’s will and marry the deceptive Ben Croftner . . . or escape through the dangerous American West to reclaim the heart of her beloved Rand Campbell at Fort Laramie, Wyoming.

Celebrate book two in Colleen's A Journey of the Heart series by entering to win a Kindle Fire and RSVPing to her May 5th author chat party!

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One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • A copy of A Heart's Disguise
  • A copy of A Heart's Obsession
  • A copy of The Inn at Ocean's Edge (blog tour coming in mid-April)
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on May 7th. Winner will be announced May 8th on Colleen's website. Plus be sure to clear your calendar on the evening of May 5th because Colleen is hosting an author chat party on Facebook to celebrate her A Journey of the Heart series and the release of The Inn at Ocean's Edge! RSVP here!

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RSVP today and spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on May 5th!


I received this book free of charge from Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for my honest review.

The Inn at Ocean's Edge by Colleen Coble

The first book of Colleen Coble's newest series (Sunset Cove) is finally out! Claire Dellamare's past quite literally comes back to haunt her when she meets her father at Hotel Tourmaline for a business meeting. Bits and pieces of her childhood memories start to resurface and she works to uncover the truth about the last time her family was at the hotel on the island of Folly Shoals, Maine, for her fourth birthday party in 1989. She disappeared for a year only to turn up at the hotel with a note pinned to her dress. With her family's deep pockets it's hard to believe that her parents wouldn't have turned over every rock trying to find out where she had been kept for that year but yet they don't.

Nothing is what it appears on the surface in Coble's latest work. Perhaps the only person whose honesty Claire can count on is Luke Rocco who is determined to find the link between Claire's missing year and his own mother's disappearance at the same time all the while fighting his mounting attraction to Claire. The more glimpses of the past Claire receives the more twists and turns seem to appear. I honestly thought I'd figured out how this one would end and as usual the author surprised me with a revelation that I never saw coming. You'd think as many of her novels as I've read that I'd eventually figure one of these out before the end!

Overall I enjoyed the novel and became easily immersed in the mystery and intrigue. I can't wait to see whose story appears in the second novel in the series. There are a couple of people who I'd love to know more about. Hope you enjoy The Inn at Ocean's Edge as much as I did!



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I received a copy of this book free of charge from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Perfect Cup...Of Coffee or Tea

Do you ever run across something and immediately recognize the genius behind it? That's how I felt when I saw this beautiful Tea Bag Pocket Mug. It solves the problem of what to do with my tea bag after I've already curled up on the couch with a mug of hot tea only to realize my tea bag is still sitting in my mug. Sometimes I get too impatient and don't let it steep for long enough and now if I do that I can just pop the tea bag back in for a couple more minutes.

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Don't you love the two different colors that the artist chose?!

I love the fact that this is hand made like almost half of the products that Uncommon Goods sells. This has become my go-to mug when I want to settle down with a cup of hot tea and I could easily see myself using this on a daily basis. I believe it makes a wonderful present for the tea lover in your life and it retails for $34. If you'd like to check this or some of their other products out you can do so here. Uncommon Goods offers studio tours where you can see the artists and designers at work. I'd love to see how this mug is made!


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The other item that I received from Uncommon Goods to review is the Coffee Cold Brew Gift Set which retails for $36. I've only used this once but it's in my refrigerator brewing some iced coffee for tomorrow morning.


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There is a bit of a learning curve with this one since you have to figure out how strong you want to make it. The good news is that if you make it too strong you can always water it down and you're good. The coffee I made this morning was a little weak (even for me) but I was pretty cautious on how much I put in the coffee sock so I'm sure it was operator error. I probably need to go online and watch the instructional video!

The kit included a couple of nice bonuses: two bags of coffee and a cuppow which converts the jar into a travel mug that you can drink out of. The jar would never fit in my cup holder but this would be nice to make and take to work so you have iced coffee for the week. It's large enough that you really could use it for the entire week IF you can keep yourself from wanting to drink a few cups at a time! You can get more information on the Coffee Cold Brew Gift Set and look at other related products here.


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Overall I am enjoying both the Tea Bag Pocket Mug and the Coffee Cold Brew Gift Set and I anticipate using both quite frequently in the future. A big thank you to Uncommon Goods for sending me both of these products to review! If you aren't already impressed with Uncommon Goods then this might send you over the top. They started a program called Better to Give and since its inception twelve years ago they've donated to charities across the world. They donate $1 from every purchase to the non-profit of your choice. I think that's pretty remarkable and it says a lot about their company.

What do you rely on for your perfect cup of coffee or tea?

I received both products free of charge from Uncommon Goods in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

What I've Read Wednesday #6

Since I missed last week this is really what I've read in the last two weeks. I finished the entire Grace Valley series by Robyn Carr and I enjoyed all three books. They are a little different than her Virgin River books and I kinda can't help but hope maybe she's going to write more in this series. I didn't want it to end even though it feels pretty wrapped up.

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Once I finished that series I moved right on the two newest Colleen Coble books I received in the mail to read and review. Those reviews will be posted on the blog shortly! Surprise, surprise, I like them both!

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Little down time to read at the park in between work appointments

Now I have to get busy with a book for book club. I have a friend who started a book club over a year ago and invited me to join and I have yet to be able to make it to a single meeting. This month I'm determined that I'm going to be there even if that means not taking an appointment for work that night. We all deserve some time off now and then and I'm taking this one night for myself. It's over 450 pages so I better get started!

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What have you been reading lately?

Monday, March 30, 2015

Monday Musings #4

Whew, what a week we had last week. In 72 hours Allan flew from Charleston to Charlotte to Phoenix to Houston to El Paso and then back from El Paso to Dallas to Huntsville. As many of you probably saw on Instagram or Facebook Allan lost one of his childhood best friends and it's been tough saying goodbye. It's hard putting into words how much it hurts losing a loved one especially at the young age of 30 when you feel like you have so many more years together. It makes me appreciate the long weekends we take to see family and friends and the sleep I sometimes lose staying up to talk or text with one of them. You can't get that time back and time is the most precious gift we can give the ones we love.

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On a happier note or maybe just a more positive note work has been going really well for me and this has been my busiest month in a looong time. Some nights it's all I can do to come home, eat, and crawl into bed and this week there's going to be a lot of those since I'm volunteering extra hours at the hospital for a special fundraising event we are hosting this week and my work calendar is pretty full as it is.

In the pet world things have been interesting. Rusty (the cat) captured his first snake today and I killed it. I'm almost certain that's the first snake I've killed and usually my response results in me running and screaming in the opposite direction instead of running toward the snake armed with a stick as a weapon. Thankfully it was a tiny one but I was worried that it might hurt Rusty or Sasha or Lucky since I wasn't sure what kind it was until I ran over to it. It was "only a garden snake" according to Allan but in my world the only good snake is a dead snake so I'm happy it's gone. Sasha and Lucky have both been spending a lot more time outside enjoying the cool mornings and nice spring days but with the cool temperatures we had over the weekend they were quick to cuddle in front of our last fire of the season.


Anyone else terrified of snakes?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Monday Musings #3

Is it just me or is anyone else extremely excited for spring?! I drove down to Florida this weekend and the further south I drove the greener everything was and the warmer the temperatures were. When I left on Friday our Bradford pear trees were just starting to bud and today they were full of white blossoms. What a difference the weekend made!

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I can't wait for April so I can plant our flower bulbs and transplant my flowers from the farm. We may try our hand at a little gardening this year with a raised bed or at least a few pots of different things on the back deck. I'm excited to expand on the two areas of flowers that I moved to our backyard and get a little more color back there.

Are you planning to plant flowers and/or vegetables this year?