Sunday, July 16, 2017

All This for $1.02 at CVS

It has been forever since I was shopping at CVS and in order to actually check out today, I had to shop at CVS twice. I got some deals that felt reminiscent of the deals I used to get when I shopped - 4 bottles bodywashes, 2 tubes toothpaste, 4 greeting cards, 2 caramels and 1 bottle of dishsoap, for just over $1 OOP.
I wish that the trip overall was as easy as the deals were to put together. So, a week or two ago, I had received an ECB offer by e-mail. I did not PRINT the coupon before I went today, because it was an unplanned trip. I honestly thought nothing of it. I have the CVS app and have had both my card and the offers in the app scanned on my phone before, so why would a coupon that was e-mailed be any different.

I grabbed an ad, strategized on the fly and came up with a couple of transactions that would allow me to maximize my ECBs. I headed up to check out with my arms loaded (a cart or basket probably would have helped). I clicked on the coupon link in my e-mail and as it loaded, I set down my phone and went to get my ECB card from my purse. As the cashier attempted to scan the bar code on my phone, I told her that wasn't my card it was an ECB. She said, we can't scan those, store policy - you should be able to send it to your card. I checked the coupon and there was only a Print or Close option. I talked to the manager who reiterated that they could not use the ECB unless it was printed. This frustrated me. You allow me to scan deals in a Mobile App. You send me e-mails with links to deals that I can send to card. So, why oh why, did I get an e-mail that I could not scan in store nor could I send it to card? Frustrated, I set my stuff aside and said I will come back once I print the ECBs.

I returned a few hours later...all my stuff, restocked...so I shopped again.

The next surprise came at check out again. My first transaction went smoothly. Turns out that there was a 'better' price on the one item and my order came up just shy of my ECB when I had expected it to be slightly over. The register automatically adjusted the ECB down and completed the transaction.

The second transaction, not as smooth. I had $6 total ECBs from the first transaction that I was planning to spend in the second. I had $5.98 worth of stuff in the transaction. Historically, they could adjust it down and I would just pay tax. Now, the register wouldn't process the ECB unless my pretax total was at least as much as the ECB. So, I added a caramel and moved on.

Next transaction, I purchased the Dawn which had a 25c off coupon from the coupon machine. I had my order at 2.31 before coupons and handed her the 25c coupon and the $2 ECB. It processed the ECB fine, but only took off 13c for the coupon. I asked why and was told, the register does what it does, I don't know why and can't change it. So, instead of having 6c plus tax due, I had 18c plus tax due. What? I really want to understand why you can't process a coupon at face value when the purchase can fully support the coupon. The coupon even is called out on the receipt as $0.25 off Dawn Ultra!
Again, I was frustrated...it makes no sense...there is no reason that I can see why it couldn't apply the full value of the coupon to the order...but at the same time, I walked out with about $24 in product (at CVS prices) for $1.02 out of pocket. So, it's hard to be too frustrated.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

His Guilt by Shelley Shepard Gray

A complimentary review copy was provided to me.

This past week, I read another new book. This book was His Guilt by Shelley Shepard Gray, the second book in her The Amish of Hart County series. The characters from the first book are referenced, but not otherwise a part of the story, so you could easily jump in to the series with His Guilt.
As with the first book in the series, this book was captivating, suspenseful and had me hooked from the beginning. I found myself staying up later than I intended, so that I could read one more chapter and find out just a little bit more that might help me 'solve' the mystery (even before the characters did). I liked that the characters were real and had a diversity that is easy to consider in any community. It was very interesting that though most of them were raised in the same community their lives growing up were so different. These differences caused the characters to be stereo-typed by others but as the story unfolded, you learn that many of those perceptions were no longer the reality of who they are. In addition to the characters, the challenges faced in the book also transcend the Amish community and can be identified by members of any community. The characters dealt with gossip and fear, which drove many of them to inappropriate, unsubstantiated conclusions about those around them, but also the positives of self-discovery, forgiveness, friendships and love. Overall, the book had a nice balance of friends and family, love and suspense, discovering about others and growth of self.

His Guilt was a great book and I look forward to reading more from Shelly Shepard Gray especially the suspenseful novels she is writing as part of her The Amish of Hart County series.

About the book:

A suspenseful tale of an Amish man who will risk all to protect the woman he loves.

Mark Fisher has returned home to Hart County, determined to put the past behind him. Two years ago, after being wrongly accused of assault, he left the Amish community, though never forgot his home. When the one person who had helped him through his rough times asks for help, Mark returns. But it is pretty Waneta Cain who makes him want to stay...
Neeta is one of the few people in Hart County who doesn't believe Mark is guilty of hurting anyone. However, his worldliness and tough exterior do make her uneasy. As she begins to see the real man behind all the gossip and prejudice, she wonders if he is the man for her.

Just when Mark starts to believe a new life is possible, a close friend of Neeta's is attacked. Once again, everyone in the community seems to believe he is guilty. But what hurts most is Neeta's sudden wariness around him. When another woman is hurt, a woman who is close to both Neeta and himself, Mark fears he knows the real culprit. And time is running out. Will Mark be able to find him before Neeta becomes his next victim?

Learn more and purchase a copy.


About the author:

Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town's bike trail. You can learn more on her website.


Learn more about the book and see additional reviews on the Blog Tour Landing Page.

No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. A complimentary review copy was provided to me.


Monday, July 3, 2017

A Love So True by Melissa Jagears

A complimentary review copy was provided to me.
What a busy couple of weeks I have had. Travel has been the name of the adventure. In the past 25 days, I have stayed in 5 different hotels in 5 different cities; traveling to two by air and three by car - that's a lot of travel for someone who is content to be home. The short trips have been for family vacations/sports and the long ones for work. I had great plans of reading while I traveled, but of course, there is something about riding in a car or airplane that causes me to do a mix of snoozing and reading. On the last flight I took though, I was successful in staying awake and finishing A Love So True by Melissa Jagears.

A Love So True is the third book in the Teaville Moral Society series and brings us to Teaville, Kansas in the fall of 1908. Although this is the third book in the series, there is nothing lost in not having read the first two, except perhaps the chance to visit with old friends that reappear across the series. The author does a great job of introducing us to the characters, revealing enough about the characters to help us get to know them with the right balance of opportunity to learn about them alongside the other characters.

Evelyn is a strong and independent woman. She is seemingly uninterested in allowing any man to get close enough to court her and we learn that it is as a result of a closely guarded secret that even her parents and closest friends are unaware she is keeping. With her love of children and as a result of her secret, she believes that she will not have the opportunity to be a mother, a belief that contributes to the amount of passion that she has for helping the kids at the orphanage and the women of the red light district. New to town, David finds Evelyn and her passion intriguing and looks for ways to spend time with her and to help her on her mission to help those in need.

The story featured a nice mix of compassion, friendship. love and mystery. The plot was engaging and made the book difficult to put down. The characters were easy to relate to and the type that you wanted only the best for. The touch of romance and mystery were enjoyable and added to the appeal of the story. Will we ever learn her secret? Will those around her find the secret as horrible as she feels it is? Will she be able to move past the secret and find happiness before David's work in town is done? The characters find themselves realizing that God has a plan and that although we may wonder and wish, sometimes things don't happen on our timeline, because they need to happen on His to fulfill the bigger plan.

I found this story to be a good read and if you enjoy period fiction or a good love story, would recommend checking it out.


About

Evelyn Wisely loves working at the local orphanage, but her heart can't ignore the women of Teaville who are also in need. Her boss is willing to help build a shelter for them, but only if she gains the cooperation and financial support of other local businessmen.

While David Kingsman plans to stay in Teaville just long enough to get his father's business back on solid ground, he's intrigued by Evelyn's cause and finds himself more invested with each passing day.

Will their plans and partnership fall apart when confronted with all that is stacked against them, or can they trust in God's plan despite it all?



The Author

Melissa Jagears

Carol Award-winning author Melissa Jagears is a homeschooling mom who writes Christian historical romance into the wee hours of the night. She's the author of the Unexpected Brides series, the Teaville Moral Society series, and Love by the Letter, a free prequel ebook novella. You can learn more about Melissa, her books, and where she hangs out online at www.melissajagears.com.


No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. A complimentary review copy was provided to me.

Monday, May 29, 2017

True to You by Becky Wade

A complimentary review copy was provided to me.
After a recent run of Historic and Amish fiction, I most recently finished reading a work of contemporary fiction, True to You by Becky Wade. It was a nice change of pace and a reminder that love and challenges transcends time and setting.
"What I've learned is that the past might be challenging and the future might be unsure. And that's okay. The present is all we're given, anyway. When we get to the future, God will be there. He'll supply whatever we need for each day."

True to You was an enjoyable story filled with heartache and triumph, as the two main characters discovered about themselves and each other and found a path for their own story. I enjoy the way in which she develops her characters and lets things unfold naturally. There is a nice amount of suspense and uncertainty within the story, an anticipation that pulls the reader in wanting to know how things will unfold. In fact, it is the uncovering of the mystery of John's birth mother that brings them together in the first place, as John enlists Nora's aid. But even beyond that, there is that unknown of where things will go and how they will individually and collectively weather what they learn on their journey of discovery. They find strength in their faith, even at times where they feel most certain that it is failing them. I liked Wade's utilization of e-mail, Messenger, and text message exchanges at the end of each chapter to shed light into thoughts and to help provide context to the exchanges happening in the story.


About the book:

It's the exciting start of a brand-new series by a contemporary romance fan favorite!

After a devastating heartbreak three years ago, genealogist and historical village owner Nora Bradford has decided that burying her nose in her work and her books is far safer than romance in the here and now.

Unlike Nora, former Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient John Lawson is a modern-day man, usually 100 percent focused on the present. But when he's diagnosed with an inherited condition, he's forced to dig into the secrets of his past and his adoption as an infant, enlisting Nora to help him uncover the identity of his birth mother.

The more time they spend together, the more this pair of opposites suspects they just might be a perfect match. However, John's already dating someone and Nora's not sure she's ready to trade her crushes on fictional heroes for the risks of a real relationship. Finding the answers they're seeking will test the limits of their identity, their faith, and their devotion to one another.

Learn more and purchase a copy.

About the author:

Becky Wade is a California native who attended Baylor University, met and married a Texan, and settled in Dallas. She published historical romances for the general market before putting her career on hold for several years to care for her three children. When God called her back to writing, Becky knew He meant for her to turn her attention to Christian fiction. She loves writing funny, modern, and inspirational contemporary romance! She's the Carol Award, INSPY Award, and Inspirational Reader's Choice Award winning author of My Stubborn Heart, the Porter Family series, and the Bradford Sisters Romance series.


Learn more and read additional reviews on the blog tour landing page.

No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. A complimentary review copy was provided to me.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Behind the Scenes by Jen Turano

A complimentary review copy was provided to me.

I recently finished reading Behind the Scenes by Jen Turano, the first book in the Apart from the Crowd series. Set in New York City in the Spring of 1883, the story centers around Miss Permilia Griswold and those around her. A known wallflower, Permilia has a way of blending in and going unnoticed amongst members of society, until at the Vanderbilt Ball where she suddenly finds herself the recipient of additional attention and it turns into a pivot point in many aspects of her life. Permilia was my kind of girl, able to spend time around society but one who had other priorities and many other things which were more dear to her than the need to be accepted by society.


In good part, Behind the Scenes was a story of acceptance - acceptance of others, acceptance of self, acceptance of God's plan and acceptance of family and past. Permilia had plans for her life and being part of New York society was never on her list, but as the story unfolds and she faces many challenges, she finds herself visiting with Reverend Perry who reminds her that 'some of our life experiences should be looked upon as stepping stones, needed in order to cross the stream at large, but not meant to be lingered on' and that sometimes we have to turn our troubles over to God and be willing to accept what He may have in store for you. It was only after that pivotal conversation that she seemed to come to accept the changes that were happening and really found a path to happiness.

I thoroughly enjoyed Behind the Scenes. The author did a great job setting the scene and establishing the development of the characters through the backdrop of the Vanderbilt Ball, including details on the clothing, dancing and other details of the ball. The book drew me in from the beginning and surprisingly, with almost 1/3 of the book focused of establishing the situation and characters at the ball, the story never slowed. There was a great mix of love, intrigue, mystery and suspense within the story through which the reader grew closer with the characters and the challenges that they faced and successes that they achieved. I really look forward to the next book in the series, which I am sure will cast light onto Permilia's continuing story, as her friend Gertrude is the center of the story.

If you enjoy a good love story with a little mystery mixed in, I would recommend checking out Behind the Scenes.
About
After spending the last six years banished to the wallflower section of the ballroom, Miss Permilia Griswold has finally figured out a way to pass the time at all the New York high-society events she attends. Under the pseudonym "Miss Quill," she is the author of society gossip columns filled with tidbits only an insider in society--albeit one on the fringes--would know.

When she overhears a threat against Mr. Asher Rutherford, the owner of one of the most up-and-coming department stores in the city, she's determined to warn him. But the irritatingly handsome man doesn't believe her, leaving her no choice but to take matters into her own hands. What she doesn't anticipate is that she'll end up putting herself at risk in the process--or that she and Mr. Rutherford, a man with secrets of his own, just might end up joining forces after all.

Author

Jen Turano, author of eight books and two novellas, is a graduate of the University of Akron with a degree in clothing and textiles. She is a member of ACFW and lives in a suburb of Denver, Colorado. Visit her website at www.jenturano.com.





No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. A complimentary review copy was provided to me.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Getting Jesus Wrong by Matt Johnson

A complimentary review copy was provided to me.
When I got the invite to review Getting Jesus Wrong by Matt Johnson, I was intrigued. I am more of a fiction reader, but faith is an important part of my life and I was intrigued by the idea behind the book - that in our faith and our needs we have created this perception of Jesus as a Life Coach, a Checklist provider, a Movement Leader, or a Cultural Visionary. In the past, I have taken several courses in college and been part of groups as an adult that have leveraged one book or another to fuel a conversation that allows us to challenge what our interpretations of the teachings of the Church and the Bible are. So, I thought this might be a good book to continue those opportunities to challenge my thinking.
The book is set up with the first section sharing some examples that in retrospective the author felt were examples of the wrong approach to consideration of Jesus and the second section some thoughts for moving forward. There were a few that spoke to me...whether I agree or not, they were things that got me thinking.

"The advice-oriented teaching I received in churches was meant to be helpful. Nobody was knowingly trying to deceive me or the congregation." He shares about having an uneasy feeling after listening to a sermon on marriage. He shares that the Sunday church service doesn't feel like the right place for this, but rather that time should be focused on sharing Jesus and his forgiveness of sins, sharing Scripture and partaking in communion. "I can get sound marriage advice down the at the local bookstore...on Sunday, I need to hear the message I'm not going to hear anywhere else."

The author at one point talked about how to make the stories of the Bible relate-able to current times and situations. I think that is a challenge that many churches are trying to address and one that when they can draw parallels and convey the story in 'modern' times, goes a long way in helping the community hear the message and live the message.

There were examples he shared about the focus of many churches being about growing membership and raising dollars for the church. This was one that was interesting to me, because my husband and I have talked about how we have no problem with giving to the church, but that the constant inclusion in the sermon to remind us that we are obligated to give and the act of collecting during the service can be frustrating - I recognize that some people need it to be right there to remember or be willing to contribute - but it still makes it feel like the focus of the service is not on the Gospel but on 'making' money.

The book was okay, but not great. It certainly got me to think about things like what sermons that speak the most to me, what do I look to get from my church experience, and how can I help give relevancy today to the stories in the Bible. In general, I expected it to be more about how people as individuals or part of groups get Jesus wrong, but it felt like it was all about the different churches approaches (that are wrong) and how people are drawn to those approaches and thus get it wrong. It might be an interesting book to use as part of a book club or a good conversation starter for a Bible Study group.

About the book:

Jesus is not a life coach, a movement leader, a cultural visionary, or a blessing dispenser-but you might not know that by listening to many Christians talk about their faith.

Feel-good slogans promote a caricatured Jesus made in our own image who cannot save us and leave us feeling guilty for not saving ourselves. Following the wrong Jesus disappoints us and produces anxiety, pride, and despair.
The first half of

Getting Jesus Wrong recounts pastor and author Matt Johnson's personal encounters with a string of false saviors-false saviors that many, especially young adults, will recognize. Johnson's humor and transparency in recounting his own painful experiences will appeal to those who have tried a "brand" of Christianity and found it lacking.

The truth is, we all want something from Jesus. Some are just hoping for a little help to get through life-a new direction, a purpose that will get us up in the morning, an exercise plan, a way to get organized. But that approach to Jesus doesn't result in real faith or love.

Whether we've followed a false Jesus or attempted to coopt the real Jesus,
Getting Jesus Wrong ultimately offers us hope because it helps us see Jesus as he is.
Getting Jesus Wrong shows that the message of the Bible is about Jesus coming to us as we are-which is good news for exhausted and disillusioned disciples. It shows us that getting Jesus right means a whole new way of thinking (the way up is down) and a whole new way of life (daily dependence on the one who knows the beginning from the end). Getting Jesus right gives us more than spiritual vitamins or a blueprint for living; it gives us a full, rich life spent exploring the depths of gospel love together.
Learn more and purchase a copy.
About the author:
Matt Johnson is a husband, father to two little girls, and is an armchair student of theology living in Seattle. He is also a freelance writer and editor. Until recently, Matt spent 7 years as an associate volunteer pastor in counseling and recovery ministry.
Find out more about Matt at https://www.therealmattjohnson.com.


Learn more and read more reviews on the Blog Tour Landing Page.


No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. A complimentary review copy was provided to me.