Monthly Archives: September 2015

Book Review & Giveaway ~ Return To Me by Carolyn Menke

New Release…

Eighteen-year-old Sadie Stark, raised by the governor of Pennsylvania, has the world on a string. She doesn’t need the mother who left her any more than she needs the fiance who promises to change. What she needs is to finish college, and keep her wits about her.

When war-bound James Pasko returns her stolen clutch, and shows her what’s missing in her life, she gains the courage to search for the truth about her past.

What Sadie uncovers rattles her to the core. But James’ steadfast love gives her hope for the future—for the first time—even as the war tears them apart.

When James disappears over enemy lines and Sadie makes a startling discovery, she must decide to follow in the footsteps of the mother who gave her away, or face a life of hardship like she’s never known.

Available to buy from….   Barnes and Noble   Kobo

~~~~  My Thoughts & Review  ~~~~

While I love reading many kinds of books, Historical Fiction is my favorite genre. I especially love stories during the WWII era. This wonderful story fit the bill perfectly. Carolyn Menke did a great job introducing & developing each character, it feels like you know them.
Return to Me is a love story set during the turbulent wartime years of the 1940’s. The author tells the story through the two main characters, Sadie & James. Every other chapter is told from each of their points of view. Their chance meeting ~ their whirlwind romance ~ their love letters … you will be drawn into their story (and be glad to know them).
I like learning how life was so different then as compared to now (especially for woman). They had to be so strong. I can’t imagine having to be separated from my spouse/loved one for so long. The not-knowing of his safety would have driven me crazy. They call them the Greatest Generation for a reason …
So, as in all good love stories, we don’t find out until near the end if James & Sadie’s relationship will survive the war torn years apart … and I’m not going to spoil it for you. I highly recommend you get this book … I loved it 🙂

~ I have been given this book from Beck Valley Book Tours in return for my honest review ~

“A sweeping, romantic debut that brings the war-time forties to vivid life in this Titanic meets Philomena tale—fast-paced, tender, and real.” —RITA Award-winning Author Gwyn Cready

“Menke’s writing is so lovely, you will want to wrap yourself in her words and savor each moment you spend in Sadie’s story. Return To Me will tug on your heart strings and take you on a journey back in time.” —Dana Faletti, Author of the Whisper Trilogy

 “A timeless tale of love, loss and sacrifice that will equally break and warm your heart, as you cheer for the beautifully complex characters until the very last page.” —Lori M. Jones, Author of Renaissance of the Heart

About the Author

Carolyn Menke is the author of “A Little Known Truth” and “The Survival Guide to Mommy-hood,” both published in “Beyond the Diaper Bag.” Her flash fiction piece “Full Circle” took first place in the Writer’s Type literary competition in July 2012. “Baba’s Bananas” also placed first at Writer’s Type in March 2011, and was later awarded first runner-up overall for the yearly competition in the same category.

A storyteller with an entrepreneurial spirit, she started a marketing communications business with clients ranging from local start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. Prior to that she worked as a marketing communications specialist for high-tech companies. She gained valuable public speaking experience while leading corporate and educational training workshops. Recently, she was a guest speaker at Wexford Elementary, and has been invited to share her latest novel, Return To Me, with area reading clubs.

The author earned a bachelor’s degree in professional writing from Carnegie Mellon University and a master’s degree in marketing communications from Duquesne University. She is a member of Pennwriters and two writing critique groups.

Find the author on the following sites…

Website    Facebook    Twitter    Pinterest    Goodreads

Follow the book tour

Photobucket I received this book to review through Beck Valley Books Book Tours, all the opinions above are 100% my own. NOW FOR THE AUTHOR’S GIVEAWAY     Win a $20 GC / Paypal (winners choice)   Open Worldwide Ending on Sunday 4th October at 11.59pm EST   Enter Below and Good Luck !! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Handmade Gift Ideas for the Holidays

Handmade Gift Ideas

It is a glorious September afternoon. I’m working on my blog post while sitting on my new patio enjoying the beautiful weather. It is warm & sunny with a gentle breeze blowing through the branches of my gi-normous maple tree.

So (on one of the last days of summer) … I decide my topic will be about ideas for making a handmade gifts for Christmas. That’s right, I said Christmas … but only because you need plenty of time to plan and work on your gift projects. Otherwise, I am a believer of enjoying each holiday as it comes, not rushing it 🙂

I have always loved doing crafts. Making or creating something is a labor of love. I feel like the finished product has a little piece of me in it ♥ However, I have learned (the hard way) that in order for me to love making the gift for someone, I have to allow plenty of time to finish it … not be rushed to get it done in time.

That being said, here is my game plan:
• Search Pinterest, craft websites & blogs to pick the projects I want to make
• Only choose a handful of recipients, so making the gift remains a joy ~ not become a burden.
• Decide early on who will be getting what gift
• Buy all the supplies I will need for each project ahead of time, (that way I can have multiple projects going at the same time)
• I’ll work on the gift while watching TV in the evening
• I can switch up which gift I’m working on, so I don’t get bored … like I can work on my knitting project if I don’t feel like making jewelry.

Some of the handmade gifts I given in the past are … a knitted or crocheted scarf, note cards for stationary, jewelry, Christmas ornaments, personalized photo frames, a “scrapbook style” keepsake shadow box, bath salts, and, of course, baked goods 🙂

I really enjoy giving handmade gifts to friends. I feel that because time is such a valuable commodity, the time I spend making the gift communicates how much I care about them. I hope they enjoy receiving them. Of course, because it is so time consuming, I only choose a few friends to make gifts for each year. My other friends receive store bought gifts … I love shopping too <3

I haven’t decided what I want to make for this year’s gifts yet, but I’m glad I’m starting to think about it early … because, as we all know, times flies by quickly.

Where were you 9/11 ?

Remembering 9/11

9/11 ~ Always Remember ~ Never Forget

September 11, 2001 is a date in American history that will always be remembered somberly .
There are certain events that seem to always elicit the phrase “I’ll always remember where I was / what I was doing when I heard the news”. While Pearl Harbor and the Kennedy Assassination were “the” events for our elder generation … 9/11 is “the” life-changing event for my generation.

Where were you? What were you doing?

I was at home getting ready for work. I had just gotten my kids on the school bus and was watching the Today show while putting on my make-up. I remember poking myself in the eye with my mascara wand because I was watching the footage of the first plane crashing into the tower in the mirror. At first, I thought it was probably a scene from an upcoming movie trailer. I continued to watch the show (on the actual TV, instead of in the mirror), in awestruck horror … dumbstruck … as a plane hit the second tower.                                         

It felt like time was standing still.

When I came to my senses, I called the school … they advised leaving the kids there because they had counselors on staff that were going to talk to all the kids to help them to “process” all that was happening.

When I got to work, it was eerily quiet. My co-workers were gathered around a small 13” TV that my boss had brought with her to the office. I booted up my computer and got a cup of coffee before joining them.

As if on cue, right when my boss said we need to take care of our clients who were out of town, the phones started ringing off the hook. It went from creepy calm to complete chaos in an instant.

I was a travel agent at a corporate agency whose clients were primarily traveling businessmen and woman. They were now stranded all over the world … with no way to get back home to their families. All flights were grounded … no take-off or landings. We got busy reserving every available rental car we could for our clients in the USA. In two cities, we even booked several greyhound type buses because we had so many clients stranded in the same area. We extended hotel reservations for our clients that were stranded out of the country. It took several days of intense work, but we were able to get everyone home.

9/11 changed many, many things in America … actually in the whole world. It definitely changed the travel industry in a way (I believe) it has never completely bounced back from. This horrific act of terrorism on US soil has forever changed the world. Security & safety are of the utmost importance (as they should be), but … Travel, as we knew it, will never again be the same 🙁

Where were you? What were you doing?

#9/11   #AlwaysRemember   #NeverForget   #GodBlessAmerica   #Heros

Please share your memories, thoughts and feelings on this anniversary of 9/11 …


Photo credit to Holidays Throughout the Year

Labor Day Road Trip Tips

Labor Day Road Trip Tips & Advantages

Labor Day weekend is upon us. I know I’m not alone when I sit here shaking my head, thinking “where did the time go? Summer just flew by !!

Although there are still a few weeks before Autumn officially begins, Labor Day Weekend is (for all practical purposes anyway) the unofficial end of summer. Many families celebrate this long holiday weekend by taking a road trip.

Traveling by car has many advantages for families … especially those with young children 🙂

~ AAA has reported that the price of gas hasn’t been this low since 2004. Spending less at the pump puts more $$ in the vacation budget — sounds like an advantage to me.

~ Your kids are in familiar surroundings … in their own car seat, have their own toys, their favorite snacks, etc.

~ You can take as many breaks as needed – when you need them. You can get out to stretch your legs or sooth a cranky child.

~ You choose meal times and where to eat.

~ You could go “old school” for the weekend … unplug (give your electronic device their own vacation). You could use an atlas to map out your route. If you happen to miss a turn off along the way, just say “we’re taking the scenic route”.

~ Continuing with the “old school” theme, you can play games like “I Spy”, or sing songs together, color / work in puzzle books, or play the license plate game, etc. Have light-hearted conversations … use this time to re-connect with each other without electronic distractions.

~ Take time to make unplanned stops … pull over to the see kitschy things like “the world’s largest ball of yarn” 🙂

These “old school” ideas may sound corny, but they will help make some wonderful family memories … memories your families will cherish for a lifetime (even if they never get posted on facebook or twitter) !!

(Photo Credit to Getty Images)