Wednesday, January 30, 2013

REVIEW: McKenzie

McKenzieMcKenzie by Penny Zeller
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

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I wanted to like this book because I usually do love marriage of convenience stories, but quite honestly there was not much I found to like. But let's start with the positive, shall we?

~ Asa: He was the only character that had any spark of personality or life. His witty lines were easily the best dialogue in the book.
~ The story concept of a mail order bride: I've always been a sucker for these stories, I guess it's the romantic in me.
~ While there is certainly a strong focus on God, His plan, and Biblical verses, Zeller has managed to convey this without preaching. This, in my mind, is probably her greatest accomplishment with this story.

~ The vast majority of the characters. I found McKenzie to be absolutely detestable and her transformation didn't sway my opinion much at all. It was just too late at that point and more than anything I just wanted to roll my eyes. I really wanted to like Zach more, but he was just rather dull and uninteresting. The supporting characters were really much more likeable and lifelike than the two main characters were.
~ The writing. The dialogues were so forced and lifeless. I couldn't imagine hearing most of the conversations taking place, with the exception of Asa's lines. He had spark and wit, to be sure.
~ The interludes of McKenzie's daydreams. They simply didn't add anything to the story for me.

To be honest, I found myself skimming much of this book just to get to the parts where the story was being advanced. Clearly, I am in the minority as most rate this book pretty highly, so you can take my review with a grain of salt and I won't be offended. :-)

*This review was originally posted on Goodreads. View all my reviews

Monday, January 28, 2013

Digital Scrapbooking Software Review & GIVEAWAY!

Ever since I ventured into the world of blogging, I have been fascinated by people who design blog layouts and other digital scrapbooking elements. A part of me has always been interested in learning more about that and trying to create my own blog design layout, but I never quite knew where to start and was completely unfamiliar with the idea of digital scrapbooking software.

And then a couple of weeks ago I was contacted by a representative from My Memories, asking me if I would be interested in trying out and reviewing their digital scrapbooking software! Naturally I said yes, excited to finally have an opportunity to try my hand with some creative ideas for photo albums, my blogs, and more! I know I recently redid my blog design here, but I would dearly love to be able to come up with a theme that is all my own and not a design anyone could use. :-)

I will admit that the interface took a bit of getting used to, but I think that is because I am less familiar with creative software, haha! But once I downloaded a few kits to try out, I found myself more interested in creating photo album pages than anything! (With a little one, photo books make great gifts and this software will let you come up with anything and everything you can imagine.)

Here is my very first creation using My Memories Suite -- I thought I would start off simple with a scrapbook page:

I have only made one physical scrapbook in my life and it was for our wedding. It was so much work that I also declared it would be my last scrapbook... With this one page, I have totally fallen in love with digital scrapbooking and I want to SCRAP ALL THE THINGS!

And then I thought I'd play around with a blog header for my personal blog I want to resurrect:

I'm pretty sure I could play with this software for hours on end if I didn't have a job and a life beyond this! :-) Honestly, there are so many ways you could use the My Memories Suite Software -- blog design, photo books, invitations, and so many other creative print projects. Once you explore it, the software is so user-friendly, you can create beautiful, custom projects in no time! Not to mention, there are TONS of kits and digital scrapbooking elements available in the My Memories store -- you can even find some kits or quick pages available for free!

The folks at My Memories would love for one of my readers to have the opportunity to try out this fantastic software, so they are offering one of you the chance to win your own copy of the My Memories Suite!!

Entering the giveaway is easy:
(1) MANDATORY ENTRY: Visit My Memories and browse their digital kits.  Choose your favorite digital kit or layout and come back here and leave a comment, telling me which one was your favorite! Please be sure to leave your email address so I know how to reach you if you are the winner! 
(2) OPTIONAL 2nd ENTRY: Follow My Memories on Facebook or Twitter and let me know you did in a comment. 
(3) OPTIONAL 3rd ENTRY: Share a link to this contest on Facebook or Twitter and leave a comment with the link to your Facebook post or Tweet. 

CONTEST DEADLINE: All entries must be received by midnight on Monday, February 4th because I will be choosing the winner on Tuesday, February 5th!!

But that's not all... My Memories wants everyone to try their product and they are offering a special coupon code to readers of Melissa's Bookshelf!

Please use coupon code: STMMMS96615

With this code, not only will you save $10 on the My Memories Suite software, you will also receive another coupon good for $10 off anything in the My Memories Store!That's a total savings of $20!

So, what are you waiting for? Be sure to enter the contest and even if you don't win, you can still use my coupon code to get a great deal on software that will open up the world of digital scrapbooking, right at your fingertips! They even have a blog/forum, where you can find more great ideas to make the most of your My Memories Suite! 

Best of luck to you all!

*Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of My Memories Suite in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Review: Flukes

FlukesFlukes by Nichole Chase
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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Flukes was the first book I ever read about mermaids -- well, merpeople in general, not to discriminate. I discovered author Nichole Chase through a young lady who used to work for me in my past lifetime in a bookstore. She got me hooked on Chase's Dark Betrayal Trilogy and I've been following Chase ever since (in a non-creeper way!). I admit that when I first heard what Flukes was about, I wrote off the book, thinking I had no interest in mermaids. But for some reason I just kept coming back to it and decided to download a copy. I am so glad I did -- now I can't wait for the sequel!

What I liked:

~ The characters: Meena and Blake are beautifully drawn with enough detail that I felt like I actually knew them, not to mention I actually cared about what happened to them. You'll also meet some other interesting people and merfolk along the way.

What I didn't like:

~ The book was too short! I would have loved to have seen more of the story fleshed out a bit. Everything blew by so quickly the resolution just felt a bit too swift. Honestly, there could have been a little bit more conflict.


~ Mermaids as the "supernatural" creatures: Hooray for a change from vampires, werewolves, and the like!!!

Who should read this:

~ Anyone who is looking for a book with "non-humans" other than vampires, werewolves, and shapeshifters, but still wants that otherworldly element.
~ Readers of YA/New Adult fiction who enjoy their romance mixed with the supernatural
~ Fans of Chase's other books

**Read in December 2012. Review originally posted at Goodreads. I am experimenting with writing all of my reviews there and then transferring them here, hoping to simplify my review/catalog process. No more synopses in my posts -- you can easily click on the book cover or title and author name to find out more... We will see how it goes, I'm sure it will be an evolving process!