When my older son received a guitar for Christmas year before last, my husband and I quickly learned that we were being introduced into a new and sometimes overwhelming world. Musical instruments require care, usage, and many accessories. We weren’t sure what the best guitar music center was, but we quickly found out that Guitar Center was a one stop shop for all our needs.
Our 8 year old is now taking lessons with a customized guitar and doing very well! We jazzed up his instrument with a designer strap, fret stickers, and more. He loves going to Guitar Center to see the new and cool ways he can make his guitar learning experience even better.
Almost every person on Earth has shared their life with a pet of some kind. Growing up, I always thought I was more of a cat person, even though we usually had both cats and dogs around the house. As I am older now and have my own family, I have recognized the special relationship that humans and dogs can share. This amazing phenomenon is at the heart of the film A Dog’s Purpose, out in theaters January 27, 2017.
Based on the beloved bestselling novel by W. Bruce Cameron, A Dog’s Purpose, from director Lasse Hallström (The Cider House Rules, Dear John, The 100-Foot Journey), shares the soulful and surprising story of one devoted dog (voiced by Josh Gad) who finds the meaning of his own existence through the lives of the humans he teaches to laugh and love. The family film told from the dog’s perspective also stars Britt Robertson, KJ Apa, John Ortiz, Juliet Rylance, Luke Kirby, Peggy Lipton, Pooch Hall and Dennis Quaid.
Our family adopted Jasper, a rat terrier mix, right around Christmas of 2013. We found he and his siblings near a busy highway, and he was the runt of the litter. We took him home and after a few days he warmed right up to us.
Jasper has been my boys’ best friend through the past few years!
He has been such a special part of our family and we now are dog people, I suppose!
Would you like to win a FANDANGO gift card so you can see A Dog’s Purpose in theaters? Leave me a comment telling me about the wonderful pet in your life! I will choose a winner on February 3 to receive a $25 Fandango gift card!
by D. Melhoff
A remote summer camp becomes a lurid crime scene when the bodies of two teenagers are found in a bloody, real-life rendering of a classic Grimm’s fairy tale. Trapped in the wilderness, the remaining counselors must follow a trail of dark children’s fables in order to outwit a psychopath and save the dwindling survivors before falling prey to their own gruesome endings.
Drawing on the grisly, uncensored details of history’s most famous fairy tales, Grimm Woods is a heart-pounding thriller about a deranged killer who uses traditional children’s stories as tropes in elaborate murders. Set against the backdrop of modern-day Michigan, it’s a journey through the mind of a dangerous zealot and a shocking glimpse into the bedtime stories you thought you knew.
MY THOUGHTS: 3 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
I will admit that my initial instinct about this book, after reading the first 10 chapters or so, was to put it down and give it a DNF. For some reason I continued though, and although I can’t say I’m exactly super thrilled I did, the book was worth the time it took to read.
It seems the author was trying to create a Friday the 13th, slasher flick atmosphere; in some ways he succeeded, in some ways not. This is a horror book for sure though; very gory and not for the faint of heart.
Scott Mamer and a dozen other college aged students are counselors at a fairy tale themed camp for kids in the middle of the woods. Before the kids even arrive, the counselors are being picked off one by one, their bodies displayed in gruesome ways. When the murders continue after the children get there, Scott takes it upon himself to see who is really behind the killing and try to stop it.
Don’t get twisted–Scott is no hero, though. He’s not even really likeable as a character. No one in this novel truly is. It’s soon discovered all of the counselors have been handpicked for a reason and they will pay for the sins of their past. The victims and the ways they are killed are all, in some cases very tentatively, connected to old school, violent fairy tales. In some instances I could see the connection, but in others it was a stretch.
I had a TON of questions as I was reading this book and seeing as this was a mystery, decided to keep reading and see if they would be answered. For the most part, they were, but some things still don’t make sense to me. It’s difficult to explain myself more without giving away the plot.
I feel that in some ways the author was trying too hard. He uses big, uncommon words when simpler ones would have fit better. There are mentions of torture devices and methods of killing that are kind of shoehorned in, as if the author was just trying to say, “Look, I know this.”
Though in many ways I was dissatisfied, Grimm Woods was a quick, thrilling read for me and I was totally escaping into the world when I was reading. The author does do a great job with descriptions, whether it’s the setting, or the bloody details of how someone is killed. It’s very vibrant and you can really see it in your mind’s eye.
In my opinion the basis for the story was a creative one and it took me for a ride, but the author just has some writing issues he needs to work on. I would revisit his work in the future.
About the Author
D. Melhoff was born in a prairie ghost town that few people have heard of and even fewer have visited. While most of his stories are for adults, he also enjoys terrifying younger audiences from time to time, as seen in his series of twisted picture books for children. He credits King, Poe, Hitchcock, Harris, Stoker, and his second grade school teacher, Mrs. Lake, for turning him to horror. For more information, visit grimmwoods.com.
Buying a house is the largest purchase you will ever make in your life. Therefore, you should do everything you can to keep it looking great while you are living there. You will get a number of benefits from this. First of all, you will have a home that is the envy of your neighborhood. You will also increase the overall value of your home if it is kept in good condition. This will allow you to make a nice profit on your home if you decide to sell it in the future. One of the most important areas you need to focus on is the landscaping. Here are some of the ways to find a reputable and talented landscaping company to keep your home looking beautiful.
1. Ask your friends and family members for the names of the landscaping companies they are using.
The best place to start your search for a landscaping company is by talking to all of the people in your life who you trust completely. This would obviously be your friends and family members. Ask these people who they use for their various landscaping needs. You might be able to discover some great landscapers that you previously never knew existed. It is always best to get recommendations from your friends and family because these people do not have any ulterior motive to recommend a specific landscaper to you. Therefore, you can always believe what they are telling you.
2. Make sure that the landscaping company you hire has been in business for a long time.
Experience is something you need to take into consideration when you are looking at Toronto landscapers. It goes without saying that you do not want a bunch of novices trimming your trees and hedges. There is an art to these tasks that experienced landscapers have. Deciding to go the cheap route and hiring inexperienced landscapers in an attempt to save some cash would be a huge mistake on your part. Your yard will not look as good as it would have if you had hired seasoned professional landscapers who have been in the business for many years. Ideally, you should seek out landscapers who have no less than three years of experience working in your area. Hiring a landscaper with this level of experience will ensure that you get the quality of landscaping that you are looking for.
3. Does the landscaping company charge a competitive fee for their services?
The fees that landscapers charge can tend to vary greatly. Therefore, you owe it to yourself to contact many different landscapers in your area and get quotes from all of them on their services. You should never pay more than you need to for quality landscaping. You will find that some companies will charge twice as much as others for the same amount of work. Smaller companies traditionally charge less than the big ones because they have much less overhead.
4. Consider signing a long-term contract with a landscaping company.
One of the most popular methods that people use to save money on landscaping is to enter into a long-term agreement with a landscaping company. Decide how often you want the company to come to your home. Landscapers will usually give their customers a significant discount in exchange for giving them the repeat business. Find out what type of discounts are offered for signing a long-term contract with all of the companies you talk to.
5. Ask all of the landscapers you are considering to provide you with a list of references.
It is essential that you see examples of the work that each landscaping company is capable of doing before you decide which one you will hire. All of the reputable companies will be happy to provide you with several references that you can contact. Get in touch with these people and take a look at their property. Ask the people about the landscapers to find out if they were on time and how long it took them to finish their work. This is important info so you can get a sense of the company’s overall professionalism. You can then use this info to help make your final decision.
Strong, independent heroines join together with mysterious, dangerous heroes in explosive conflicts that are as much external as they are internal.
Hidden Realms has all of this along with mermaids, shape shifters, demigods, fae, demons and half-breeds with even darker inheritances. There’s love, both forbidden and true, and there’s all the sacrifice it takes to keep it. Regardless of what your preferred flavor of paranormal romance or urban fantasy actually is, there is something in this collection of 10 novels that will knock your socks off.
Hidden Realms contains multiple books that are otherwise only available for $2.99 or more, and it’s available for FREE—but only for a limited time!
Torn by Dean Murray
Shape shifter Alec Graves has spent nearly a decade trying to keep his family from being drawn into open warfare with a larger pack. The new girl at school she seems to know things she shouldn’t about his shadowy world, and the more he gets to know her, the more mysterious she becomes.
Is she an unfortunate victim or bait designed to draw him into a fatal misstep?
Awaken by Skye Malone
Chloe had never been to the ocean, and now one simple vacation has altered her life forever. Her body is changing in bizarre ways, a mysterious boy is following her, and she’s become the target of killers too. Ancient and deadly secrets surround her and it’s going to take everything she has to discover the truth.
Beautiful Demons by Sarra Cannon
Harper moves to Peachville hoping for a fresh start, but when evidence ties her to the gruesome murder of a Demons cheerleader, she discovers this small town has a big secret.
Five by Christie Rich
Rayla Tate dreams of escaping her ordinary world for a bright future in the art world. Throw in an overbearing aunt who is keeping major secrets, a disgruntled best friend tagging along to college, and a bunch of fae warriors waiting in the wings to claim her the minute she leaves her sleepy little town, and Rayla’s dreams are about to shatter.
Bitterroot by Heather Hildenbrand
Charlie and Regan Vuk have secretly always wanted a sister. Now, they finally found each other, only to be forced into a head to head contest for pack alpha. A competition that threatens to destroy their new bond and 1 sister’s chance for true love. Bitterroot is a 3-part Young Adult Paranormal novella series with a dose of sibling rivalry… Who will you root for?
Bound by Duty by Stormy Smith
Amelia Bradbury is the last living Elder. She has power she can’t control, a prophecy dictating her fate, a betrothal she can’t stop and a heart lost to a human.
Ignited by Desni Dantone
When evil forces come for Kris Young, she is forced to go on the run with the young man she has long considered her guardian angel. As they search for the truth behind her role in the long-running battle between good and evil, they discover that nothing is as it seems, and nothing, least of all their hearts, are safe.
King of Ash and Bone by Melissa Wright
When monsters break through the veil between worlds, Mackenzie Scott devises a plan to stop them, whatever the cost. She finds an injured stranger who just might hold the key, but he’s not the helpless boy he appears to be. He’s one of them, and he’s got plans of his own.
Xoe by Sara C. Roethle
Xoe never thought she’d be the type of girl to contemplate murder. Of course, she never thought she’d be dealing with werewolves on top of her own strange, budding powers. Everything comes crashing down at once when her best friend’s life is put in peril, and Xoe will do whatever it takes to save her, even if it involves trusting a tall, handsome vampire with an infuriating attitude.
Meeting Destiny by Nancy Straight
Lauren is visited in her dreams for years by a stranger claiming to be her destiny. Destiny becomes reality when paths cross during a failed robbery attempt.
Redoing your kitchen can be an exciting prospect. However, as you begin the project, you realize that you have dozens if not hundreds of options for new fixtures from which to choose. How can you decide what kinds of counters, flooring, and more that you want if you cannot get all of the details you need about them? You can make solid decisions regarding your remodeling project when you shop for flooring, counters, and kitchen cabinets online today.
Why Shop Online
What advantage does shopping online have over shopping in your local home improvement stores? When you shop virtually, you can take your time and browse the selections of cabinets and more available to you without feeling pressured to make a fast decision. You are not stalked and followed by commissioned sales people who may want you to choose fixtures that are out of your price range. Likewise, you can get all of the information you need about these options by clicking on the pictures of them. The information is factual and up-to-date, meaning that you do not have to take the word of a sales person who might be newly trained or not well-versed on the cabinets.
Likewise, when you shop online, you can find fixtures that fit your budget without having to wade through pages of cabinets that are out of your price range. You can narrow your search on the website by indicating what price range you have in mind. The site will then show you models that fit within that search criteria.
Shopping online does not mean that you sacrifice quality or style. Your local home improvement stores are not the only ones that sell the latest choices for the most modern and beautiful kitchen fixtures.
The website makes available cabinets and more in the most appealing materials including oak, pine, and other woods. The quality rivals those of the cabinets found in your local stores. You can buy these fixtures on the Internet and know that you are getting cabinets and more that will last for years.
If you do have questions or concerns, you are not alone when you shop on the website. You can ask questions and have concerns addressed quickly by using the site’s virtual chat option. Shopping for cabinets and more online proves to be as enjoyable and easier than shopping in local stores.
After you purchase a home, you may be focused on the financial aspects of the house. Although the mortgage and real estate tax aspects are critical components of home ownership, you also need to maintain it. Doing so regularly helps prevents future headaches, and creates a happy and healthy environment for your family to cherish. The following are home maintenance tips to keeping your dwelling in tip-top shape.
Check Alarms and Smoke Detecting Systems
The responsibility of home ownership may seem intimidating, especially if you’re a novice. Regularly maintaining your home is less costly than a home renovation, and you may be able to tackle many of the jobs on your own. You can start by bringing peace of mind to your family by checking alarms and smoke detection systems throughout your home. This includes safety alarms, carbon monoxide systems and smoke detectors. You may be more prone to do this if you set a regular schedule by changing batteries in both the fall and spring.
Schedule Outdoor Repairs
The winter and spring months can be brutal to the exterior of your home. Water entering your home’s exterior can cause mildew and mold. Seepage may also cause the dwelling’s walls and foundation to weaken and rot. Gutter and siding repair will protect your home’s exterior in case you encounter wind, ice, snow or water throughout the various seasons. If you’re unsure of the extent of the damage, you can have an expert inspect the exterior regularly. This is also a great time to get the roof inspected and have shingles repaired if necessary.
Dirty heating filters can cause your system to run less efficiently. They can also release dirt and dander into the air of your home. Experts recommend changing furnace filters monthly. But if you have a smaller home, and you don’t suffer from allergies, you may be fine with every 2 months. If you have a humidifying system that releases moisture into the air during winter, you want to change your filter regularly.
Appliances can be expensive, especially if you have top of the line gadgets. To ensure that they run properly, you want to perform regular maintenance checkups. Many of the latest washing machines have a cycle where you can clean them periodically. A light may even show up stating that it’s time to do so. If you have a dryer, cleaning the vents regularly helps prevent fires. With your refrigerator using approximately 15 percent of the power in your home, you want to regularly vacuum the coils to remove dirt, hair and other debris. If you have a water softener, set a reminder to add salt to the system monthly.
Plumbing and Electrical
Plumbing and electrical fixes are some of the most expensive repairs for a homeowner. Before you encounter major issues, it’s important to periodically check your dwelling for problems. Assess your faucets, toilets and shower heads for small leaks. Test outlets to ensure that they are working properly. You may also want to have a licensed contractor look over your dwelling each year. An expert eye can catch problems before they turn into a disaster.
Sealcoat Driveways and Fix Cracked Walks
If you have an asphalt or concrete drive, you want to extend its life. You can do this by fixing cracks and potholes. You should also have your asphalt driveway seal coated each year in the spring or summer months. Check walkways for cracks and have them repaired. This can prevent trip and fall hazards and alleviate unnecessary injuries from people passing by.
Whether you’re looking to sell in the future or create a safe environment for you and your family, the above tips will help ensure that your home is in peak condition. Regular maintenance also helps improve its appearance and allows it to work more efficiently.
Alex got a new Xbox this Christmas! Amie bought new pricy shoes for her to wear at college. Rickie asked his dad to buy him a new cell-phone for him to show off at school. College students have a lot of material things they want to show off in front of their friends to look cool–every time they buy or have something new to speak of.
It is often observed that the more well off are the ones who bully other children at college the most. But what if we all could get rich? Yes! I’m talking about online bingo. It’s like the Robin Hood of internet gaming that fetches you unanticipated prizes, and gives you a chance to explore unprecedented gaming experiences. So today if your friend gets a new motorbike to ride to college, you will have your own personal gaming account with real cash to show off! He burns out his tires, and you can boast of your bounties and rewards.
So, online gaming is not just a trend today, but it also serves as a unique way for one to show how socially interactive or how rich they are becoming online with absolutely no hard work. Play here now to check how different these games are and get a chance to subscribe to one of the best bingo rooms with unlimited perks to newbies.
One can easily play cash bingo for quick entertainment without having to step out of their home. Online chat rooms on these websites are another fabulous way of interacting and making money at the same time. The way these sites treat their players is top notch, and the chat hosts do not let the players get bored for even a minute. So follow up now on these new ways you can make your friends and yourself more engaging and see a change in your life soon.
It’s the holiday season, and I, like most people, have an extra fuzzy feeling during this time of year. I cannot and don’t really want to pinpoint the reason why; it’s many things–the satisfaction of choosing that perfect gift for my kids, spending time with family we haven’t seen all year long, or just something as simple as seeing all the houses and businesses in town decorated so beautifully. I definitely get a good dose of Christmas spirit when I attend church during this season. Advent and Christmas are perfect times for reflecting on the true reason for the season, and thinking about ways my family and I can spread the love and cheer.
During this time of year, my family and I like to give back in many ways. We donate clothing, food, and toys to our local church and pantry. My older son loves when his class visits nursing homes, and he also likes caroling. We also try to give to programs for our veterans and those in our family serving overseas. To us, Christmas means remembering why we celebrate, and making our joy so huge it can positively affect others.
This year, I’d like to share two films that you and your family will love. Both films highlight the perseverance people can have when they lean on their faith and when they do that – God enables them to do extraordinary things in life.
HILLSONG – LET HOPE RISE was a phenomenon when it came out in theaters this past September and you can continue the worship experience with everyone this holiday season.
Capturing the on-stage energy and off-stage hearts of the Australia-based band Hillsong UNITED, HILLSONG–LET HOPE RISE is a new motion-picture genre—the theatrical worship experience. The film explores Hillsong’s humble beginnings and astonishing rise to prominence as an international church whose songs are sung every Sunday by more than 50 million people worldwide.
The second is GREATER, a film about an unlikely young man who had all the odds stacked up against him when he tried out to play football at one of the most prestigious football programs in the country.
Brandon Burlsworth is perhaps the greatest walk-on in the history of college football. Brandon dreamed of playing for the Arkansas Razorbacks, but was told he wasn’t good enough to play Division I ball. Undeterred, Brandon took a risk and walked on in 1994. Written off by fellow teammates and coaches, Brandon displayed dogged determination in the face of staggering odds. The awkward kid who once was an embarrassment to his teammates and an annoyance to his coaches, ended up becoming the most respected player in the history of the program, changing the lives of all he touched.
I would love to share these faith based films with you and your family this Christmas! In conjunction with Grace Hill Media, I am giving away a DVD copy of each film. To win, simply leave a comment below letting me know what Christmas means to you. I will choose a winner on 12/29 to receive both movies.
Happy Holidays from my family to yours, and thanks for being a part of Sweet Southern Home.
The final book in Erika Johansen’s critically loved Tearling trilogy is now available!
Join us for an exciting blog tour showcasing the Tearling trilogy.
• Hardcover: 496 pages
• Publisher: Harper (November 29, 2016)
“Katniss Everdeen, you have competition.”—Entertainment Weekly
The thrilling conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Tearling trilogy.
In less than a year, Kelsea Glynn has transformed from a gawky teenager into a powerful monarch. As she has come into her own as the Queen of the Tearling, the headstrong, visionary leader has also transformed her realm. In her quest to end corruption and restore justice, she has made many enemies—including the evil Red Queen, her fiercest rival, who has set her armies against the Tear.
To protect her people from a devastating invasion, Kelsea did the unthinkable—she gave herself and her magical sapphires to her enemy—and named the Mace, the trusted head of her personal guards, regent in her place. But the Mace will not rest until he and his men rescue their sovereign, imprisoned in Mortmesne.
Now, as the suspenseful endgame begins, the fate of Queen Kelsea—and the Tearling itself—will finally be revealed.
A #1 Indie Next Pick and LibraryReads Selection
Magic, adventure, mystery, and romance combine in this epic debut in which a young princess must reclaim her dead mother’s throne, learn to be a ruler—and defeat the Red Queen, a powerful and malevolent sorceress determined to destroy her.
On her nineteenth birthday, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, raised in exile, sets out on a perilous journey back to the castle of her birth to ascend her rightful throne. Plain and serious, a girl who loves books and learning, Kelsea bears little resemblance to her mother, the vain and frivolous Queen Elyssa. But though she may be inexperienced and sheltered, Kelsea is not defenseless: Around her neck hangs the Tearling sapphire, a jewel of immense magical power; and accompanying her is the Queen’s Guard, a cadre of brave knights led by the enigmatic and dedicated Lazarus. Kelsea will need them all to survive a cabal of enemies who will use every weapon—from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic—to prevent her from wearing the crown.
Despite her royal blood, Kelsea feels like nothing so much as an insecure girl, a child called upon to lead a people and a kingdom about which she knows almost nothing. But what she discovers in the capital will change everything, confronting her with horrors she never imagined. An act of singular daring will throw Kelsea’s kingdom into tumult, unleashing the vengeance of the tyrannical ruler of neighboring Mortmesne: the Red Queen, a sorceress possessed of the darkest magic. Now Kelsea will begin to discover whom among the servants, aristocracy, and her own guard she can trust.
But the quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun—a wondrous journey of self-discovery and a trial by fire that will make her a legend . . . if she can survive.
In this riveting sequel to the national bestseller The Queen of the Tearling, the evil kingdom of Mortmesne invades the Tearling, with dire consequences for Kelsea and her realm.
With each passing day, Kelsea Glynn is growing into her new responsibilities as Queen of the Tearling. By stopping the shipments of slaves to the neighboring kingdom of Mortmesne, she crossed the Red Queen, a brutal ruler whose power derives from dark magic, who is sending her fearsome army into the Tearling to take what is hers. And nothing can stop the invasion.
But as the Mort army draws ever closer, Kelsea develops a mysterious connection to a time before the Crossing, and she finds herself relying on a strange and possibly dangerous ally: a woman named Lily, fighting for her life in a world where being female can feel like a crime. The fate of the Tearling —and that of Kelsea’s own soul—may rest with Lily and her story, but Kelsea may not have enough time to find out.
In this dazzling sequel, Erika Johansen brings back favorite characters, including the Mace and the Red Queen, and introduces unforgettable new players, adding exciting layers to her multidimensional tale of magic, mystery, and a fierce young heroine.
About Erika Johansen
Erika Johansen grew up and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She went to Swarthmore College, earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and eventually became an attorney, but she never stopped writing.