The Magnolia Story

Title: The Magnolia Story
Authors: Chip and Joanna Gaines
Genre: Autobiography, Biography, Lifestyle, Nonfiction 
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Release Date: October 18th, 2016

Chip and Joanna Gaines – household names, all thanks to their hit HGTV show, Fixer Upper. Then you have Magnolia Market (their store, both online and in Waco, TX), Magnolia Table (an old diner recently renovated), and did you hear that their very own Magnolia Network is underway on the Discovery channel?

It seems that everything the Gaines touch turns to gold. (You only need to watch one episode of Fixer Upper to know what I mean.)

But it wasn’t always like this for them. Chip and Joanna have had their struggles just like the rest of us (well, maybe not just like… but struggles nonetheless). They know how it feels to be broke, to have overwhelming debt, to wonder how it’s all going to work out. (Spoiler: it sure seems like it all worked out.)

One of the things that stood out to me in this autobiography is their unwavering faith in God. They don’t shy away from this part of their lives, and they definitely don’t forget to give him the credit for making Magnolia what it is today. Of course, they had to do their fair share of hard work, but they remained faithful to the callings of God for their family.

Even though their story inspires me as a budding entrepreneur, their trust in God and their priority to their beautiful family is actually what inspired me most. This is an easy, must-read if you are at all interested in Fixer Upper and the Gaines’ family!

If you enjoyed this review, please consider following Reads & Roses. It would mean the world to have you on my team!

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Over 100 book reviews!

Hello my faithful followers!

Thank you for your participation in Reads and Roses, whether it be a drop by when you have some free time, or a like, or a comment. I truly love hearing from my fellow book lovers.

I wanted to celebrate when I reached 100 reviews, but that time has come and gone, and I missed it! But hey, it’s still super fun to have over 100 book reviews on this blog, so it’s still worth celebrating and acknowledging.

So thanks again for your involvement in this blog! It means so much, really it does.

It’s All Too Much

Title: It’s All Too Much: an easy plan for living a richer life with less stuff
Author: Peter Walsh
Genre: Lifestyle, Minimalism, Nonfiction, Self Help 
Publisher: Free Press
Release Date: January 1st, 2007

I think I would have devoured this book, had it been among the first few I had read on this subject. As it was, I still really enjoyed it, though I have read similar things in similar books (probably copying this author!)

Walsh has some great ideas in dealing with your stuff, and later organizing it. Part One of the book addresses The Clutter Problem, while Part Two deals with Putting Clutter in Its Place. He then tackles room by room, which I find helpful when dealing with clutter and organization.

This is definitely a book I would recommend if you are looking for a fresh start with your things and your home… I just might recommend reading some other books first!

If you enjoyed this review, please consider following Reads & Roses. It would mean the world to have you on my team!

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L’art de la Simplicité

Title: L’art de la Simplicité: how to live more with less 
Author: Dominique Loreau
Genre: Lifestyle, Minimalism, Nonfiction, Self Help
Publisher: Trapeze
Release Date: January 12th, 2017

Let me begin by saying how much I wanted to love this book and read it in one sitting. I just didn’t. I wasn’t able to connect with it the way I’ve connected with others like it.

There was a lot to like about this book, a lot of wisdom shared, from eastern civilizations in particular. Many of the ideas found in this book will stick with me for a long time, so I am grateful to have read it. Ideas such as living lightly and eating lightly and overall quality of life.

Some of the things that I didn’t necessarily agree with however, the author stated them as rather black and white subjects. To me, there are few things in life that are truly black and white, but we needn’t get into any of that here. It just came across a bit on the harsh side, and I doubt that was the author’s intention.

The book was divided into three parts: Materialism and Minimalism, Body, and Mind. I did appreciate and take away a lot of ideas from each part. I just would have liked the book more if it had been a little more “here is what I think” and less “this is the only way to live.” But anyway, there you have it.

If you enjoyed this review, please consider following Reads & Roses. It would mean the world to have you on my team!

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Hello! Rosie here. I just wanted to say a big THANK YOU to all of my faithful followers of Reads and Roses! I am so excited to have 100 amazing followers interested in my weekly Young Adult book reviews. It means so much, everyone! Thank you for the time you take to stop by the blog, and for any likes and comments along the way. Really, thank you!

Blogger Recognition Award

Thank you, Victoria, from Victoria’s Reads for nominating me for this – looks fun!


  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Write a post to show your award.
  • Give a brief story of how your blog started.
  • Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
  • Select 15 other bloggers you’d like to give this award to.
  • Comment on each blog and let them know you’ve nominated them, providing a link to the post you’ve created. (Please make sure you do this step! Otherwise they won’t know you’ve tagged them until they check the referral portion of their stats.)

How I got started…

I started this blog in August of 2016 in an attempt to write more consistently. I think it worked, because I have posted weekly ever since! The primary purpose of this blog, however, is to build a platform of followers and readers as I pursue publication for my own works. Book reviews sort of seemed like a no-brainer. By reading and reviewing one book per week (a daunting goal), I was forced to immerse myself in the genre that I hope one day to add my own books to – Young Adult. It provides the perfect excuse to get my hands on as much YA as possible, and familiarizes me to what’s on the shelves today. Win-win.

My advice to new bloggers?

  1. Use WordPress! I’m serious, guys. I started out on Blogger, and I soon realized how restricted I was with the templates. Not only is it difficult to customize and personalize, it’s really hard to make it look professional. Once I compared my blog on Blogger to those on WordPress, I was kicking myself for not choosing WordPress. Thankfully, there is a way to export your blog from one site to another, but save yourself the hours it took me to do this step and just use WordPress from day. Learn from my mistakes!
  2. Find a blogging schedule that works for you. Once a week might not be a realistic goal for posting on your blog, and that’s totally fine! Find a pace that is doable for you… and stick to it, no matter what. Once you start blogging consistently, it becomes a priority. I try to never miss a Monday, so when Mondays roll around, I keep the day as free as possible because the one thing that needs to happen that day (besides my job, duh) is blogging. Even if nothing else gets done that day, at least I blogged and met my goal. Find what works for you – once a week, once every two weeks, once a month – and stick to it! I promise, it is so rewarding.

I would like to nominate:

Emily Rose from Rose Read (why didn’t I think of that? Love it)

Jenn, Eden and Caitlynn from Thrice Read 

Kiersten from Once Upon a Spine

Azia from The Uncharted Word

Michelle from Book Adventures

Ashley from What’s She Reading 

Mary Kate from Wanderlusty Writer 

Lydia from Noveltea

Christine from Wee Reader

Angelica and Rosie from The Book Cover Girl

Ava from Bookishness and Tea

Kyera from Kyera’s Library

Larkin from Wonderfilled Reads

Danissa from Booklandia

Mandy from Book Princess Reviews 

Gift ideas for the nerds on your list:

As we rapidly approach Christmas (one week!), I thought a post about last-minute gifts for the readers on your list might be helpful. And so, I present my top picks for the season!

1. The Illustrated Editions of Harry Potter, books 1-3 


These hardcover beauties are number one on my list for obvious reasons. Illustrator Jim Kay has brought the magical world of J.K. Rowling to life in these illustrated editions. They have released one book a year since 2015, so only the first three books (The Sorcerer’s Stone, The Chamber of Secrets, and The Prisoner of Azkaban) are available. Prices have gone up on Amazon, but I have also seen them at Costco for about half-price!

2. Cards Against Muggles 

Cards Against Muggles

Continuing with the Harry Potter themed gifts, I present Cards Against Muggles, a spin-off of the popular game Cards Against Humanity. At $79.95, this is a pricey gift for the muggle in your life, but quite possibly the best gift to put under their tree.

3. Hermione’s Time Turner

This is an authentic recreation of Hermione’s time turner from The Noble Collection. A beautiful gift for the Hermione in your life. $49.00 on Amazon.

4. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Deluxe Pocket Boxed set

The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings box set

I cannot go on about this set enough. I got this last year from my hubby and it is my favorite set of any books I own. And at $31.46 at Barnes & Noble, this leatherette-cover set is a steal!

5. Arwen’s Evenstar Pendant 

I got this necklace for Christmas probably fifteen years ago, and it’s still one of my favorite jewelry pieces. This is also by The Noble Collection, for $49.00 on Amazon. If you are shopping for a dude, others ideas are Aragorn’s ring, Gandalf’s pipe, sword replicas… the list goes ever on and on…

6. Tales and Tea Leaves Sampler, inspired by Lord of the Rings

Lord of the Rings inspired tea

This loose-leaf tea sampler set comes with six different LOTR inspired brews: The White Tea of Kings, Wizard’s Grey, Second Breakfast, Elevenses, Enchanted Tea, and Barrels of Tea. I absolutely love this loose-leaf collection! It’s perfect for your all-day marathons.

7. Hobbit Meal Times Clock

Can you tell that I’m obsessed with LOTR yet? Last but not least for your fans of Tolkien, this wooden clock is a fun addition to your kitchen, and $42.00 on Amazon.

8. A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) Leather-Cloth Boxed Set, books 1-5

This is another gorgeous set of books, much like the Lord of the Rings set above. Amazon has this for $57.69. The only drawback in my opinion would be that the series is not yet finished, and I prefer to have complete collections of series, especially collectible editions like this.

9. Dark Horse Deluxe Game of Thrones: Dragon Egg Bookends

From $199.99 on Amazon, these babies are a little bit on the expensive side, but they are sure to make a statement on your bookshelf. I was lucky enough to get these for Christmas last year, and it is such a fun way to display your editions of A Song of Ice and Fire.  

10. The Great Gatsby Book Scarf

The Great Gatsby Book Scarf

This fun literary scarf goes for $48.00 at Storiarts. They have lots of other options, too, including Jane Austen, Sherlock Holmes, and Shakespeare. In addition to scarves, they also sell coordinating gloves and headbands!

I hope you enjoyed this holiday gift guide for the readers in your life. Happy Holidays!

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Friday Favorites: September

I am posting my Friday Favorites on the last Friday of the month (this time), instead of the first! The month got away from me, with the RMFW conference and birthdays and life.

This month, I thought it would be fun to share some of things things I took away from RMFW (Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers) conference. I learned so much as a writer, and had so many wonderful experiences, so I will share only the highlights! (All of this is paraphrased and taken from my notes.)

Sherry Thomas, Romance 101

Characters in conflict is the engine of your story – it drives your story forward.
• Characters must be introduced and conflict must be established as early in your book as possible.
• Dialogue should be used to further conflict.
• The first page sells this book – the last page sells the next.

James Hunter, The Villain’s Story

• Villains should have moral quandaries.
• Villains need nuances to be good villains.
• Protagonists / Antagonists are two sides of a coin, who play by different rules.
• Your Antagonists should have strengths that can exploit your Protagonists’ weaknesses. They should be each other’s opposites.

Bonnie Ramthun, How to Write a Breathtaking Action Sequence

• Raise the stakes – life or death.
• Suspense happens when the reader knows something the characters in the scene do not.
• Start emotions in a place where you can build from.
• Use flashing glimpses instead of lingering observations.

Diana Gabaldon (the author of Outlander!), Immersion: The Best Books Are Made of Quicksand and White Space: You Think It’s All About Words

• Don’t tell your readers anything they don’t need to know in that moment.
• There should be at least one action in each paragraph. Even small actions, like body language, create immersion.
• Create a cascade of questions that makes the reader want answers. They can be small questions that are answered quickly, but they will make the reader keep reading.
• A good sex scene is about the exchange of emotions. You don’t need to show much for them to feel deeply.
• You want friction in your fiction.
• Sometimes if you plan too much before entering a major scene, it loses its juice.

Thea Hutcheson, Fishing For Readers: How to Hook Em

• You have about 150 words to hook your reader before you lose them (agent, editor, reader).
• Sensory details light up the brain.
• Remember the first 150 words technique for the beginning of every scene/chapter.

Susan Spann, Coal to Diamonds

• When you finish writing for the day, try to stop right before something exciting happens, so you are excited to write the next day.
• Leave your chapters unresolved.

I would love to hear your thoughts on these notes! Which ones do you find the most helpful?

Finally, here are some cute pics of me and Brianna having the best weekend ever!

Image result for rmfw

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