Thursday, December 30, 2010

Book Review: The Clouds Rollaway (book tour) and information on a Kindle giveaway

I am participating in another Litfuse blog tour for another great book, The Clouds Roll Away
by Sibella Giorello. This book is the third installment in Giorello's Raleigh Harmon series, and while it is not a stand-alone book, I had no trouble reading it without having read the first two installments. I also believe that I will still be able to go back and read the first two books, The Stones Cry Out and The Rivers Run Dry, without knowing too much.

From the author's website:

Forensic geologist Raleigh Harmon returns to her hometown of Richmond, Virginia and discovers nothing is quite what it seems in this former Capital of the Confederacy...

Although her exemplary service in Seattle lifted her disciplinary transfer, Raleigh lands a hometown civil rights case riddled with problems that could get her sent away again. When she helps out a fellow cop, her life goes on the line, forcing her undercover in a sting operation. As Raleigh realizes the lines are crossing and double-crossing, her domestic life starts to unravel. Her mother's mental health cracks like ice, her closest friend grows cold, and her old boyfriend DeMott comes a-calling, hoping for more than chestnuts by an open fire.

While the city glows with Christmas lights and carols, Raleigh is forced to rely on her sharpest skills to stay alive, hoping for that one clear moment when everything makes sense and the clouds roll away.

My review:

While I consider myself to be a Christian, I tend to avoid Christian novels due to many of them being overly preachy. I was pleasantly surprised to find The Clouds Roll Away, was not down-your-throat preachy at all. Raleigh Harmon is an everyday Christian who is trying to live her life while maintaining her morals and following her beliefs. In the book, you see this through mentions of God and prayers that she offers. However, the novel still offers plenty of grit that one would expect to find in a crime/detective novel as well, just without being gruesome, no foul language, and no sex, though there is a bit of romance.

I received this book during a tremendously busy period in my life. My husband was finishing up finals at school, the holidays were quickly approaching, and the 4 year old daughter of a friend was in her final stages of life. Yet with all that was going on, I found this book to be a good distraction. The descriptive words used by the author allowed to be truly feel like I was in Richmond, riding along beside Raleigh. The story line was captivating and kept me turning pages just to see where the clues would lead me. As busy as I was, I could not stop reading the book once I picked it up.

I recommend this book to those who like crime novels, yet desire a good, clean one to read. It is extremely well written and will keep you wanting more. I know that I am going to go back now and read the first two books in this series, The Stones Cry Out and The Rivers Run Dry, as well as anxiously await the release of book #4, The Mountains Bow Down.

About the author:

Sibella Giorello grew up in Alaska and majored in geology at Mount Holyoke College. After riding a motorcycle across the country, she worked as a features sibella-in-bluewriter for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Her stories have won state and national awards, including two nominations for the Pulitzer Prize. She now lives in Washington state with her husband and sons. Find out more about Sibella and her other books at her website.

Sibella’s celebrating the release of The Clouds Roll Away by giving away a KINDLE prize pack worth over $150.00!


One Grand Prize winner will receive:

  • Latest Generation KINDLE with Wi-Fi

  • $25 gift certificate to

To enter simply click on one of the icons below! Then tell your friends! Winner will be announced January 3, 2011 on Sibella's blog:

I received a free copy of the book The Clouds Roll Away for participating in the Litfuse blog tour. My opinion is my own and was not influenced by any outside source.

In memory of Julianne

On Valentine's Day of 2010, a family in my church received the devastating news that their almost 4 year old daughter, Julianne, had an inoperable brain tumor. I instantly felt a stronger connection to the family, not because I had experienced anything like that, but because I have a daughter very close in age to theirs, and I had always thought our girls sort of resembled each other. As the months passed, Julianne changed physically as a result of the treatments she was receiving, but inside, she was the same spirited little girl she had always been. A few months ago, we rejoiced at the news that one of her treatments had worked in shrinking the tumor, and while we were cautiously optimistic, we felt a real hope. Unfortunately, a few weeks ago, the news came that the tumor was growing once again and soon after, Julianne took a dramatic turn for the worse. Her family "moved" Christmas Eve up by 10 days, to ensure that she would be able to still enjoy it. It was a wonderful thing that they did and has allowed their family to have some good Christmas memories of 2010. On Christmas Eve morning, around 11:30, sweet Julianne passed away in the loving arms of her parents.

Today, we attended a "Celebration of Life" service for Julianne, a joyous event, marked with a terrible sadness. As I sat there with my girls, I empathized with Julianne's mother, yet realized I could not truly understand what she is feeling. I always have known that it is possible to lose one of my children, but this journey that Julianne has taken, made that possibility feel much more real. I already find myself hugging my children longer and more often, and making sure that I do not forget to say "I love you" several times a day. I am planning many more activities to draw our family closer together on a daily basis, regardless of what else is going on in our individual worlds.

To my readers, I ask that you keep this family in your thoughts and prayers as they enter the difficult grieving process. I also ask that you take the time to truly treasure the beautiful gifts you have been given in your children. Express your love and your gratitude for them often. Take time to turn off the electronics, put down the cleaning rags, and worry less about the mess, at least once in a while. You never know what tomorrow will bring.

In memory of Julianne, February 26, 2006-December 24, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Gain Dish Soap Review

We have lived in several places during our 11 year marriage. Some of them had a dishwasher, but many did not. I was very happy when we bought our house in April 2009 and were able to buy a dishwasher as well. With 4 kids, it makes life much easier. However, I also own nice cookware and good knives that I do not wash in the dishwasher. As an avid cook, I use these dishes on a daily basis, so in addition to running the dishwasher daily, I also hand wash my "delicate" dishes daily as well. Maybe it is due to only having to hand wash a few items at a time, but there is something that I also find comforting when hand washing. I think it is the feeling of immersing my hands in the warm, sudsy water and watching the dishes come clean as I wash them. Anyway, I recently had the opportunity to try Gain's new dish soap which now adds a new element to my hand washing, scent. I tried the original version, but it also comes in Lavender, Citrus Splash, and Apple Mango Tango. I found the scent to be pleasant and while it lingered in the air for a little bit, it rinsed off the dishes completely and pretty easily. The soap itself did a decent job of washing the dishes and I would purchase it again. There was one area I found that the soap did not do better than my normal brand. When I get grease or oil on my hands, I always reach for dish soap as I find it generally gets it off better than hand soap. Gain still worked better than hand soap, but it did not match up to the brand I usually use.

You can purchase Gain Dish Soap at Wal-Mart and other retailers. You can also follow Gain on Facebook and on Twitter.

I received this information and a bottle of this product to review from P&G through MyBlogSpark, as well as 3 $5 Wal-Mart gift cards and 3 t-shirts to share. The gift cards and t-shirts were given to families in my area that had a need for them.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Giveaway Winners: 77kids and cardsDirect

First up is the $50 gift card to 77kids:

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:


Timestamp: 2010-12-02 18:16:55 UTC

#14 was:
Danielle said...

Subscribed to your blog!

Congratulations Danielle! I will be sending a message to get your shipping information. Please get back to me within 48 hours so that I do not need to choose an alternate winner.

Now onto the cardsDirect winner:

Here are your random numbers:


Timestamp: 2010-12-02 18:22:31 UTC

#8 was:

Anonymous said...

C5306 - Sparkling Snowflake Greetings
I love the foil cards for Christmas!

Congratulations Cara! I will be sending you a message with your gift card code in it, so you do not need to reply.

Congratulations to both winners! Thank you to all who entered!