Camellia: Song of the River {Book Review}

I certainly had a hard time putting Camellia down until I had turned the last page. Another novel set during the Civil War {seems to be a theme for me at the moment, LOL}, a neat turn to this one was ‘seeing’ Vicksburg in my mind while reading the latter part of the novel which was set there. We had a family reunion there by the river, and spent a day at the Civil War locations. The National Graveyard there is a sight to behold. Definitely a trip I recommend as highly as this book!

Camellia {the character} starts out a little a lot on the self preoccupied side, which is as irritating in a novel as it is real life. But it is interesting to read her transformation as her eyes and heart open to what was the big issue with slavery… the belief that the slaves were not to be considered as human beings. After watching the movie, The Help, also based around that premise, it is heartbreaking to think of the years people lived in miserable conditions because others had power over them. I treat my pets better than most treated their servants/slaves. The title you give them is based on whether it was before or after the slaves were freed… but was there a big difference in the way they were treated until MLK?  I believe consideration of others is a very important aspect of how we interact with others, and hope that my children learn from my actions that it doesn’t matter whether someone is rich, poor, or of a different skin tone… you treat them like you want to be treated yourself.

Back to the book…

Diane Ashley and Aaron McCarver take you through all that ‘mess’, and manage to weave a beautiful love story in there as well. Camellia grows into a woman as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside, and her leading man is dashing and heroic as a Civil War novel demands of him.  Her family is hilarious, and I can’t wait to read the story of her older sister, and am hoping they continue this series with the other family members too.

From the Publisher:

Natchez belle turned riverboat maiden Camellia Anderson misses her old life of privilege. She misses the balls and she misses the suitors. . .then a chance to attend finishing school in New Orleans catapults her into an exciting world—and a whirlwind courtship with a dashing Confederate soldier. It’s beautiful, uncomplicated romance until a trip to Memphis brings old friend—and Northern spy—Jonah Thornton back into Camellia’s life. Now she’s torn between two loves, but will she risk everything to save a Union soldier?

DISCLOSURE: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley to review. The opinions contained in this review are 100% my own opinionated opinions.


Whispers of a New Dawn; by Murray Pura {Book Review}

My one thought when reading the first part of Whispers of a New Dawn was… When are they going to get to D-day? It sits looming over the story line. There is heartbreak, and the remembrance that all things are known by God. Which is a hard concept for us to grasp. How and why bad things happen to us.

I really liked the characters. Which is surprising for me… since I rarely approve of the ‘second’ man if something happens to the first love interest of a book. But, I have to admit I loved both the guys, and the leading lady was a great character too!

Another ‘almost never’ for me was that it is the third in a series {didn’t read the first two}, and I still found it easy to follow along with and enjoy.

And the third ‘almost never’; it’s by a guy, and I still liked it! So this book broke a lot of sterotypes for me. Which I love, by the way. I am not sure I am going to go out and get the other two books in this series right away {got a little back-log of review books to get through right now}, but I will definitely be keeping my eyes open for them.

About the Author: Murray Pura

Murray Pura earned his Master of Divinity degree from Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, and his ThM degree in theology and interdisciplinary studies from Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. For more than 25 years, in addition to his writing, he has pastored churches in Nova Scotia, British Columbia, and Alberta. Murray’s writings have been shortlisted for the Dartmouth Book Award, the John Spencer Hill Literary Award, the Paraclete Fiction Award, and Toronto’s Kobzar Literary Award. His novels for Harvest House include Face of HeavenThe Wings of Morning, and Ashton Park. Murray pastors and writes in southern Alberta near the Rocky Mountains. He and his wife, Linda, have a son and a daughter.

DISCLOSURE: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley to review. The opinions contained in this review are 100% my own opinionated opinions.

The Tutor’s Daughter; by Julie Klassen {Book Review}

Okay… I have found my new favorite author!!!! This was my second chance to enter a world created by Julie Klassen {The Girl in the Gatehouse being the first}. I was enthralled. The best way for me to describe her novels is they read like a regency romance without the worry of the story turning to risque.

One of Julie Klassen’s favorite authors to look up to is Jane Austen, and it is heavily reflected in her books. It leads to a refreshing look at some of my favorite novels by Ms. Austen. Kinda like all the reworked fairy tales popular today.

In the Tutor’s Daughter you are tossed right into the middle of Emma Smallwood’s small world. Keeping her father on track, running a boys boarding school, after the death of her mother takes most of her time and focus. With her love of books taking up the rest. She is not concerned with having an active faith, and no longer feels that praying will give her any answers. Mr. Weston brings her mind and heart back to where her heart should be.

It was very nice to read a novel with the man being of strong faith. So many novels seem to assume that the guy would be the one to have fallen away, or not yet experienced, a saving faith.  Throw in the suspenseful twist and turns in plot, dramatic scenery and wonderfully developed characters you have a wonderful addition to your library in this novel.

I highly recommend Julie Klassen’s novels, and this one in particular!

From the Publisher:

Emma Smallwood, determined to help her widowed father when his boarding school fails, accompanies him to the cliff-top manor of a baronet and his four sons. But soon after they arrive and begin teaching the two younger boys, mysterious things begin to happen. Who does Emma hear playing the pianoforte at night, only to find the music room empty? And who begins sneaking into her bedchamber, leaving behind strange mementoes?   The baronet’s older sons, Phillip and Henry Weston, wrestle with problems–and secrets–of their own. They both remember the studious Miss Smallwood from their days at her father’s academy. But now one of them finds himself unexpectedly drawn to her….

When suspicious acts escalate, can Emma figure out which brother to blame and which to trust with her heart?
Filled with page-turning suspense, The Tutor’s Daughter takes readers to the windswept Cornwall coast–a place infamous for shipwrecks and superstitions–where danger lurks, faith is tested, and romance awaits.


DISCLOSURE: I received a copy of this book from to review for the publisher. The opinions contained in this review are 100% my own opinionated opinions.

Project 2013; Week 2 Scrapbook Pages


Two weeks into 2013 and two layout complete! Hoping this sets a trend for this year. Changed my week to be Sat to Fri this year, since I seem to do the best getting scrapping done Saturday morning. Created a font cheat sheet to help me scrap faster without hunting down fonts.

Used Just Jaimee’s January Storyteller kit.

Fonts for Big Girls Rock: Tresure, Vogue, Rosewood Std.
Photo Overlay: Janda Apple Cobbler Solid
Week Title Font: Gallery
Journaling Stewardson
Journal Card: Brisk Extended and Arial

Layout: LIFEtime Templates


Digi Scrapbooking Shortcuts

Have you been having trouble keeping up with your digi scrapbooking?  Wondering how you can spend less time finishing out your layouts?  Here is one of the ways I am streamlining my scrapbooking process in 2013.

Use a Font Cheat Sheet!

Create a new blank file {use 12×12 of 8.5×11}.  Have a solid background to make it easier to see your fonts than a transparent background.  Type out what you use the font for and the font title {so you can remember later, LOL}.  Save the file with the layers in an obvious spot.  I have it in ‘My Pages’ folder so I can easily open it when I am opening PSE to get started on a layout.  Now when I want to use a font on my new layout, all I have to do is click into my Fonts Cheat Sheet, copy a word of the font I want to use next, copy into a new text layer on my layout, and poof… ready to type my title or journaling!

This really helps keep me on track when scrapping.  No more distractions from the endless number of font choices while scrolling through the fonts list.  Another plus… how many times have you selected a font because you thought it would work well, then it doesn’t and you have to hunt for that ‘other’ font again?  This way you can see a bigger sample of the text, and know that you liked it for page titles or journaling before.

Here is my Font Cheat Sheet;

I have not personally purchased any fonts yet, so if one of these strikes your fancy, you should be able to find it as a free font {most of mine are from daFont}.

Hope this helps you in 2013!

The Shadowed Onyx, by Nicole O’Dell {Book Review}

The Shadowed Onyx is a YA {Young Adult} fiction novel… which if you have followed my book reviews you know is not my standard. I was curious when I read the back and it mentioned; Friend’s Suicide, Witchcraft, and Depression. All things that seem to be more of an issue with today’s teens. With my girls so young it is easy to forget sometimes that they will be teenagers before I know it, but I feel that staying on top how things may influence them later is an important part of a parents job. You don’t have to be ‘hip’ or ‘cool’, but knowing what the hot topics are with youth is very critical. Now onto the book…

This is the third book in Nicole O’Dell’s Diamond Estates series from Barbour Publishing. And is set during the Sevententh year of Joy Christianson’s life. While doing fine in high school, succeeding in sports, and being active in her church; her world and faith are rocked when Joy finds her best friend after she committed suicide. Suddenly Joy has faded, and starts trying to find answers.

Enter some very helpful, not on the right track, teens that tell her they have answers and introduce her ‘innocently’ enough to a Ouija board. After feeling the power there, and knowing in her heart it is wrong. Joy continues to explore witchcraft all in the name of finding ‘real’ answers. In the end she finds that it wasn’t worth it, and she wants her faith in Jesus back. But now she is stuck, and can’t get out.

Reading this book was amazing. I will definitely encourage my girls to read this series as they grow older. The Shadowed Onyx shows how things that seem innocent enough (that you don’t understand why in the world you parents are against them) can take on a life of their own and entrap you. How you deal with each instance of your life has a lasting impact on you and those around you. The discussion questions in the back of the book are on-point and great conversation starters. I agree totally with Nicole O’Dell’s point that “fiction is a way to open teens eyes to temptations, choices, and consequences”. Taking away the mystery of something is half the battle in resisting those temptations. With spiritual battles reminiscent of Frank Peretti’s novels this book was a great reminder of the conflict between good and evil for the souls of both the innocent and not so innocent.

From the Publisher:

Uhrichsville, OH – From Nicole O’Dell, author of the popular Scenarios series comes the third and final installment of her Diamond Estates series. Scheduled to release in December 2012 from Barbour Publishing, Shadowed Onyx tells the story of Joy Christianson as she struggles to overcome the darkness and depression that has laid claim on her soul—and restore her faith—at Diamond Estates.

At age seventeen, Joy Christianson is the life of the party. That is, until her best friend commits suicide. Joy’s already wavering faith slips completely out of her reach; darkness sets in, and her smile fades. Her “friends” lead her to the Onyx, meant to help her let go of the past and bring her into harmony with reality. Joy embarks on a dark journey of witchcraft.Eventually, afraid of letting the depression and evil take root,Joy decides to seek help in the haven of Diamond Estates – and tries to reclaim the Joy she once knew.

DISCLOSURE: I received an eCopy of this book from NetGalley on behalf of the publisher to review. The opinions contained in this review are 100% my own opinionated opinions

Project 2013; Week 1 Scrapbook Pages

Going with more of a Project Life theme this year.  Grabbed these templates from the Sweet Shoppe from Julie Billingsley; LIFEtime Templates, set of 12.  One of the issues I had before when trying to do the ‘notebook’ style pages was feeling to constricted.  I purchased the digital templates from Becky Higgins, and struggled to fit what I wanted on the page.  Here I just made the first column solid for all the journaling I could want to fit in {I have also done this on my Week 2 pages}.

The ‘The Cutest Moment’ card and Week Title card are both layered PSE templates by Peppermint Creative called Life in Pictures; Classic Journalers.  They are 3″x4″ so I layered them over other papers to work in this weeks layout.

All the fun elements and snazzy papers are from Just Jaimee’s newest release: January Storyteller 2013 The arrow strips are great to add direction between the test and photos.

Keeping the text simple this year by using Stewardson as my journaling font.  Week title font; Banner.

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~ About Me ~

I'm Kimberlee, the owner/creater of 'The Spunky Diva'. Here is a little about me... In addition to my love of blogging I adore all crafts, sewing, quilting, improving my non-existent cooking skills, and playing with my two girls. We have a 'collection' of animals around the place to keep us busy; two 'huge' dogs, a cat, kittens, several horses, and assorted wildlife. We live east of Austin, Texas, in the middle of farm country. Here at 'The Spunky Diva' blog I get to share daily life moments, fun crafts, sewing and quilting progress/finishes, and brag about my 'Babies'. Thank you for visiting and sharing some of your day with me!


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