Thursday, June 2, 2011

Book Review: Summer in the South by Cathy Holton

"After a personal tragedy, Chicago writer Ava Dabrowski quits her job to spend the summer in Woodburn, Tennessee, at the invitation of her old college friend Will Fraser and his two great-aunts, Josephine and Fanny Woodburn. Her charming hosts offer Ava a chance to relax at their idyllic ancestral estate, Woodburn Hall, while working on her first novel. But Woodburn is anything but quiet: Ancient feuds lurk just beneath its placid surface, and modern-day rivalries emerge as Ava finds herself caught between the competing attentions of Will and his black-sheep cousin Jake. Fascinated by the family’s impressive history—their imposing house filled with treasures, and their mingling with literary lions Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Faulkner—Ava stumbles onto rumors about the darker side of the Woodburns’ legacy. Putting aside her planned novel, she turns her creative attentions to the eccentric and tragic clan, a family with more skeletons (and ghosts) in their closets than anyone could possibly imagine. As Ava struggles to write the true story of the Woodburns, she finds herself tangled in the tragic history of a mysterious Southern family whose secrets mirror her own."

 As I read Summer in the South, I felt as though I was reading two different stories that were barely connected.  One -- the Woodburns' past --was intriguing and had me racing through the book to find out their secrets --  and the other -- Ava's past and present - was tiresome and made me want to put the book down. Quite honestly, I did not connect with Ava at all and felt as though she got in the way of the real story, which involved the skeletons in the Woodburns' closets.  Yes, I admit that part of my disinterest in Ava was that she is a Yankee who doesn't understand the ways of the "Old South," but that's not entirely it.  Ava's story is one that has been done too many times (girl dragged around a migrant mother; girl turns into woman with issues) and nothing really tied her story to the story of the Woodburns.  Ava's character is never really fleshed out, and despite a set up of a romance between Will and her, nothing ever happens.  In fact, Will eventually becomes someone in the background, a character who is mentioned as being in the room, but whose interactions are never shown until he's needed to do something for the plot. As for the romance between Ava and Jake, it doesn't create much of a spark either.

Other characters in the present are bought in for a plot point and then dropped without any explanation.  Only the Woodburns who are seen in both the flashbacks and in the present, seem to have a purpose in the world in which the novel is set that is not just to move the plot along. Other characters pop up for a plot point and then are forgotten until they pop up again for another plot point.  Too many loose ends are left this way.

I know, it sounds like I don't like the book. That's true just for all the parts involving Ava.  I thoroughly enjoyed the story involving the Woodburns' history. Even though their story may be a familiar one, it is still interesting and different enough to keep the reader from guessing the twist ending.   Had the author focused on the Wooodburns and left Ava alone, I'd probably be singing its praises. As it is...meh.

If you’re interested in reading other reviews of Summer in the South, you can find them here at Goodreads.  Or, if you’re interesting in purchasing the book or reading reviews of Amazon customers, you can buy the hardcover here and the ebook here.

Pssst....I received an ARC (advanced readers copy) of Summer in the South in a giveaway at Goodreads. This opinions expressed in this post are 100% mine. 

Posts may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Thanks to all of you who entered my Kiss My Face giveaway! The winner has been chosen using, and an email notification has been sent.

The winner is:

#18 Molly B.


The winner has 24 hours to contact me with shipping information, or I will choose another winner.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Simple & Easy Frugal-ish Christmas Tree Makeover

I just got through putting my Christmas tree up.  I know, I know.  As a child, I used to wonder why families on TV and movies put up their trees on Christmas Eve, but now that I am a very busy working mom, I totally understand!  Those families lives may have looked perfect, but when he didn't see them, they were running around like chickens with their heads cut off just like the rest of us!

Since we're basically only a week away from Christmas, I really didn't want to fool with getting the ornaments out and putting them up.  My OCD tendencies makes the whole randomness of hanging ornaments fairly stressful.  (I feel anxious just thinking about it!)  So, while I was wandering around n Hobby Lobby last night, I got an idea of what to do with the tree.

I bought two packs of nice gift tags,

two things (stem? bunch? ??) of flowers,

and two packs of stringed golden beads.

I put them on our tree topped with the angel that was on the Christmas tree at our wedding reception (our anniversary is this week!), and Viola!

I have to say that I am rather proud of myself because I am not any sort of creative in a crafty or decorating sense.  Too bad I haven't suddenly been able to take really good pictures, eh??

(Oh, do you see the beautiful green Santa ornament?  I do an ornament exchange with a group of awesome moms whomI met on a message board when I was pregnant with my daughter, and this Santa ornament is what I received this year.  I think it might have inspired me to use the gift tags with Santa.)

What makes me even happier about my tree "makeover" is that I only spent $22!  Hobby Lobby had all their Christmas stuff on 50%, so I paid

$2.99 for 2 packs of 24 gift tags
$5.99 for 2 packs of gold beads
$11.99 for 2 flower bunches
$22.37 (including tax)!!

(Pssst...Don't forget to enter my giveaway for products from the Kiss My Face Holiday Peace Collection!)

Monday, December 13, 2010

It DOES Pay to Play the Sweeps! Thanks, Little Debbie!!

I was so surprised to see a box from Little Debbie on my doorstep today!  Even though I have been playing their Million Smile Mission giveaway on Facebook every day, I'd neither won a daily prize nor been given any indication that I'd won anything else.  Well, guess what?!  I actually won a Little Debbie Giftbox!

Yep, SIX full size boxes of Little Debbie snack cakes!  Yummy!!

So, if you play the sweeps, don't give up if it seems like you never win!  You might come home to find something awesome on your doorstop!

P.S.  I use Freebies4Mom and Sweeties Sweeps to find sweeps to enter. 

Kiss My Face Peace Collection - Review & Giveaway!!

 I had heard of Kiss My Face, but I had not tried any of their products until I was sent some from their Holiday Peace Collection to review and host a giveaway.  After trying them, I am SO excited to share them with you!

The Product

The Holiday Peace Collection from Kiss My Face is available in 34 oz and 17 oz bottles and 8 oz self-foaming bottle of 100% natural castile liquid soap and hand-poured soy wax candles.  Each product comes in four fragrances: Pomegranate Acai, Lemongrass Clary Sage, Lavender Mandarin, and Grassy Mint.

The 100% natural all-purpose castile soap boasts 101 uses -- everything from laundry to floors to pots and pans.  I love that is created from a vegetable-based vegan formula and contains no artificial fragrances.

The soy wax candles are environmentally safe and contain an unbleached cotton wick.  They come in four different colors (depending on the scent) and have a peace sign design. 

While the all the features of the products are awesome, what makes the Holiday Peace Collection even more special is that 10% of the profits go to Seeds of Peace, a camp in Maine which brings "together teens from countries of conflict to build a new generation of peace."  

My Review

I do have to say that I was a little hesitant about the fragrances before I smelled them.  I do not have a strong sense of smell at all, but flowery scents really mess with my sinuses.  Words like "lavender" and "grassy" had me a bit worried; HOWEVER, there was no need to fear.  I LOVED all the three scents I was tried! I actually think the lavender mandarin is my favorite!

I haven't tried all 101 uses of the castile liquid soap, but I did try several.   I washed laundry with it, I washed dishes with it, and I washed the kitchen counters and stove with it.  I think it is my absolute favorite thing to use on the stove because no matter how stubborn the stuck-on food was, the soap cut right through it!

The foaming castile soap is awesome, too.  We use it to wash our hands in the kitchen.  And the candle is very cute and very fragrant!

The Giveaway

I have a set of 3 Holiday Peace Collection products to give away: one 17 ounce liquid 100% natural all-purpose castile soap in lavender mandarin, one soy wax candle in lemongrass clary sage, and one 100% natural foaming castile hand soap in pomegranate acai.  I also have samples of various other Kiss My Face products.

To enter, fill out the form below.

****You must complete the form to be entered into the giveaway.  Only one entry per person. Names and emails collected will be used ONLY for the purpose of the giveaway. I will draw the names of the winners by using the random number generator at from the eligible entries received. After the giveaway closes, I will post the first name and last initial of the winner, as well as email the winner. If a winner does not contact me within 24 hours by email, I will draw a new winner. This giveaway is only open to residents of the United States who are 18 years of age or older.


Disclosure:  I was provided with a set of products to review, a set of products to give away, and some samples of various other Kiss My Face products.  All opinions of the products are 100% honest and 100% mine.  Please see my disclosure policy for more information.

Monday, October 18, 2010

CafePress Groupon - $50 for $25 + 20% off Sweatshirts and Hoodies @ CafePress

Get a $50 CafePress Groupon for only $25 today!  Find it under "Memphis".   This Groupon will expire in three months.

Hoodies and sweatshirts are currently 20% off (prices marked), and select Halloween tees are $15 (prices marked). 

If I were pregnant, I would SO get this shirt:

Also, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, CafePress is giving a portion of the proceeds from Breast Cancer Awareness merchandise to   I'm thinking of getting this:

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Intervention (Intervention Series Book 1)

Terri Blackstock, a Christian fiction writer who lives in Mississippi, is one of my favorite authors, so I was very excited to see that her latest novel Intervention is FREE for Kindle right now.   What I love about Blackstock's books is that they are mysteries/thrillers that contain a wonderful Christian message.  If you like Intervention, I highly recommend that you read her other books, especially the Newpointe 911 series. 

Don't have a Kindle?  Click here to download Kindle to your iPhone, PC, Blackberry, iPad, or Mac. 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Toys ' R' Us & the Beauty and the Beast Internet Coupon - It's a No Go for Me!

After last week's TRU Internet Printable experience, I was extremely interested to see this deal in today's ad:

If Corporate can't take IPs, then why are they advertising it???   My husband called our local TRU, and they said that they would NOT honor the IP, even though it was in the ad.

Now I'm weighing my options:
  • Buy Beauty and the Beast from TRU anyway.  I've already put down $5, so I'd just have to pay $17.99.  If I pre-order Toy Story 3, I'll get $10 off making my purchase only $7.99 + $5 for pre-ordering Toy Story 3.   $12.99 (plus free coupon book) in all,  and I'll have to buy TS3 from TRU without a coupon.
  •  Buy Beauty and the Beast from Target for $14.99 after $10 IP.  I'd receive a free CD, which I know my daughter would love.  I'd be free to buy TS3 from any store, and I'm sure there will be some neat promos with that.  (Wonder what TRU's promo will be??)
After being bummed about the not-so-great deal I'll be getting when purchasing the movie, I was glad to see info about a $5 rebate for Beauty and the Beast (or Toy Story 3) at Couponing to Disney!

I'm interesting in hearing your stories with using the Beauty and the Beast $10 coupon at TRU!


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