Everyday Tidbits...

Fall, where are you? I get teasers of cooler weather, but you haven't arrived yet.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Tenth Case...Review...DNF

About the book:
Criminal defense attorney Harrison J. Walker, better known as Jaywalker, has just been suspended for using "creative" tactics and receiving "gratitude" in the courtroom stairwell from a client charged with prostitution. Convincing the judge that his other clients are counting on him, Jaywalker is allowed to complete ten cases. But it's the last case that truly tests his abilities—and his acquittal record.

Samara Moss—young, petite and sexy as hell—stabbed her husband in the heart. Or so everyone believes. Having married the elderly billionaire when she was an eighteen-year-old former prostitute, Samara appears to be the cliched gold digger. But Jaywalker knows all too well that appearances can be deceiving. Who else could have killed the billionaire? Has Samara been framed? Or is Jaywalker just driven by his need to win his clients' cases—and this particular client's undying gratitude?


When I was asked to review this book, it sounded interesting. Truly it did. The premise is that a renegade lawyer, threatened with disbarment, tries his last case: a young, beautiful wife accused of murdering her elderly, billionaire husband.

The main character, Jaywalker, has potential. The accused, Samara, isn't someone you like, let alone care about. You don't even want her to get acquitted. The book is gritty and realistic, with some twists, turns and of course, the anticipated deceptions. You wonder how Jaywalker will even be able to pull off an acquittal. However, there are sordid parts to the story, and lots of profanity. I don't like profanity. I especially don't like the well-known and overused "F" word. It's never appropriate and it never improves a story. I can't get past it, and I'm disappointed that it's so prevalent here.

I haven't even finished the novel: I ended up just skimming it.

I do appreciate TJ Dietderich at Planned Television Arts for the opportunity to have reviewed it (and I hope a negative review won't keep him from asking me to review something else!). I have an ARC that I would be happy to pass along to someone who wants to read it. Those of you who like legal thrillers will probably enjoy it. First person to request the book can have it!  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 9/08


1/5 Stars

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Giveaways

Check out these great blogs for some giveaways.

Booking Mama for a copy of The Self-Esteem Trap, Raising Confident and Compassionate Kids in an Age of Self-Importance by Polly Young-Eisendrath, PhD. (10/4)

J. Kaye's Book Blog for a copy of Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer. (10/4)

5 Minutes for Books for a copy of Hannah's Dream by Diane Hammond. (10/1)

A Peek at My Bookshelf is giving away 30 books in 30 days. Check it out! (9/1-9/30)

Readers Respite for a copy of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer. (9/25)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What's On Your Nightstand?

Every month, 5 Minutes for Books hosts What's On Your Nightstand? There are several ways to participate:

Take a picture or simply give a list of the stack of books that you are in the process of reading or planning to read (it might be on your nightstand, on a bookshelf, or like me, under your bed).

Give short reviews of the book or books that you read that month.

Tell about what you are reading and why. I love to read the backstory on books. Did someone give it to you? Are you trying out a new genre at the recommendation of a friend (or website)? Did you stumble across a new author in a used bookstore?


Fill us in on your reading habits. When are you reading these books? Is one reserved for bedtime reading? Does one stay in your car to be read while you are waiting? Do you read just one book at a time?


This is my current nightstand. Several books are holdovers from last month. Sometimes you need to be in a certain mood to read a certain book! I've just started an ARC of The Tenth Case by Joseph Teller. I have plenty more waiting for me when it's completed.

Head on over to 5 Minutes for Books to check out what other people are reading.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Giveaway Winner

The winner for the book giveaway, Mosaic: Pieces of My Life So Far is comment #4: Rebekah (the littleminx)

Congratulations! I happy to pass it along to someone who will enjoy it.

Rebekah, I've sent you an email. Please send me your mailing information, so I can get this book out to you.

Hopefully I will have other giveaways in the future, so stay tuned.

Fall Into Reading 2008 Challenge

Katrina at Callapidder Days is hosting the Fall Into Reading 2008 Challenge. Having just finished the Summer Reading Thing 2008, I'm up for another great motivation to read. Not that I need one, but hey, it's fun.

The books I'm going to read are listed on the sidebar, and it's a list that will constantly be updated. My Goodreads file is always current and up to date as well. Those lists are also on the sidebar. Each book I read will then be reviewed here. It's what I would do anyway, but a challenge is always fun, especially if there are prizes involved. But, this is also a chance to meet new people and find other good books to read. Who's going to join me?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Prints Charming...Review

About the book:
Does Jane Sandburg's future lie between the pages of her scrapbook?


With the help of her scrapbooking girlfriends, Jane is putting the pieces of her life back together since her divorce from a cheating husband. Her non-profit publicity firm is doing well and her new neighbor, Jake, is causing all kinds of sparks.

But when the Ex returns with a sorrowful heart begging for one more chance, Jane pulls her wedding scrapbook out of the closet to decide if her future lies in the past. With her friends going through trials of their own--adoption, run-ins with the law, and marital trouble--Jane and the girls come together over the scrapping table to make sense of their crazy lives.


Through the diverse and connected lives of four women, Rebeca Seitz creates an engaging story that celebrates the power of friendship and the uncertain-but-exciting world of starting anew.


It was a cute story. A prequel to Sisters, Ink. In a nutshell, Jane's husband cheated on her via the Internet. Her best friend had tried to point out his cheating ways the day of her marriage, but Jane wouldn't listen. Now, 2 years later, she finds herself divorced and on her own. Through her love of scrapbooking, she finds 3 other women with whom she becomes friends.

The story is told through different viewpoints and covers each life: Jane's decision to move forward or accept back her ex-husband, Lydia's inattentive husband, Mari's fertility and adoption issues, and Mac's wayward daughter. Through it all, the "sisters" love and support each other.

The story is funny and full of pop culture references: Stargate, Galactica, Creating Keepsakes and Stacy Julian, etc. It's a light read, and it's Christian without being preachy. It fell a bit flat though as each story, predictably, wraps up too neatly at the same time.

It did make me realize how much I miss having close girlfriends.

Thanks to my local library for having a copy I could borrow.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 9/08

* * *
3/5 Stars

Sunday Salon

It's been a slow book week here at 2 Kids and Tired. That's unusual for me!

I finished The Little Princesses: The Story of the Queen's Childhood by her Nanny and enjoyed it. It took me over a week to finish it though. It was interesting, but I found other ways to be distracted, I guess!

The Summer Reading Thing is over and I posted my wrap-up. On Monday I will start the Fall Into Reading Challenge at Callapidder Days.

I have a stack of books I need to read. The weather has turned cold and perhaps that is the impetus I need to wrap up in a warm blanket, with a cup of cocoa and a book!

For more Sunday Salon posts, click here.

Have a great reading week.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

First Daughter...Review by the Doctor

About the book:
Sometimes the weakness we fear most can become our greatest strength . . . Jack McClure has had a troubled life. His dyslexia always made him feel like an outsider. He escaped from an abusive home as a teenager and lived by his wits on the streets of Washington D.C. It wasn’t until he realized that dyslexia gave him the ability to see the world in unique ways that he found success, using this newfound strength to become a top ATF agent. When a terrible accident takes the life of his only daughter, Emma, and his marriage falls apart, Jack blames himself, numbing the pain by submerging himself in work.

Then he receives a call from his old friend Edward Carson. Carson is just weeks from taking the reins as President of the United States when his daughter, Alli, is kidnapped. Because Emma McClure was once Alli’s best friend, Carson turns to Jack, the one man he can trust to go to any lengths to find his daughter and bring her home safely. The search for Alli leads Jack on a road toward reconciliation . . . and into the path of a dangerous and calculating man. Someone whose actions are as cold as they are brilliant. Whose power and reach are seemingly infinite. Faith, redemption, and political intrigue play off one another as McClure uses his unique abilities to journey into the twisted mind of a stone cold genius who is constantly one step ahead of him. Jack will soon discover that this man has affected his life and his country in more ways than he could ever imagine.


I wanted to read this book. I wanted to read this book and enjoy it. When it arrived, my husband read it first, and after hearing what he had to say, I'm not reading it, and I'm posting his review instead! So, allow me to introduce our guest reviewer, Alan.

--------------------------
There’s an old saying – you’re shouting so loud, I can’t hear what you’re saying!

This book had so much going for it – a plot that was interesting, yet subtle. A hero, whose own struggles and demons gave him capabilities and determination. It even tied nicely into the election year politics. It could’ve been so much… but Eric Van Lustbader decided to use it for his own political vehicle. His thinly veiled attacks against the current (though soon to be gone) political administration were so crass, and quite frankly childish, that they over-rode what had the makings of a really good book.

Now, I’m not a writer living in New York, and I don’t mix with the ‘liberal elite’ who no doubt fawned over this book more for its political slant than its good storytelling. I’m just a regular Joe, a doctor who spends his day helping people, not mixing it with publishers in coffee shops. Maybe Van Lustbader figures that he doesn’t have to worry about the opinions of people like me. Maybe he just got a case of Dixie-Chick-itis, and figured that he doesn’t have to worry about annoying people because enough people will buy his book anyway.

Whatever his thoughts, what really annoys me is that if he could have found a way to contain his own vitriol, this had the makings of a damn good book. Jack McClure, ATF agent with a troubled childhood, dyslexia and a ‘pictures not words’ mind makes for a very interesting character. Given some work, this could be a fantastically interesting journey into a mind that can see things we can’t. It really had potential, but it was squandered by his desire to paint the world as he wants to see it. I’ve read other books of his, albeit a long time ago, and I expected better from this book. It felt like he crafted the whole story just so he could stand on the street corner and scream his personal opinions.

If you are as much of a conservative as Van Lustbader obviously is liberal, then you probably want to leave this book on the shelf. If you believe that Dick Cheney is the devil incarnate, then you’ll probably fall asleep with this book, dreaming of inquisitions, impeachments and incarcerations. Just remember to wipe the drool off the pillow in the morning.

Overall – I have to give this a ‘C’. It kind of reminded me of a first teenage kiss on the doorstep – where you are so desperate to do it that there is no subtlety or skill, just the motions. The moment could have been beautiful, but it ends with a strange feeling of “was that it?” That’s how this book was for me.
------------------------------------

Thanks to Planned Television Arts and Mini Book Expo for sending me this copy to review. You can learn more about Eric Van Lustbader at his website.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 9/08

Summer Reading Thing Wrap-Up

It's time to wrap up my Summer Reading Thing list. I love reading things, or challenges, or whatever you want to call them. Karlene at Inksplasher hosted the Summer Reading Thing and it was a lot of fun.

I read 25 books. Some of them were on my original list, but most were just added as I found them or they came up on my list in the library. Most I liked, some I didn't. I discovered Lynn Austin's Refiner's Fire series and absolutely loved them! I didn't care for Painted Dresses or The Friday Night Knitting Club.

The books I read are as follows, in reverse order and all have been reviewed here on the book blog.

The Little Princesses, Marion Crawford
Summer at Tiffany, Marjorie Hart
A Promise to Remember, Kathryn Cushman
Mosaic: Pieces of My Life So Far, Amy Grant
Her Good Name, Josi Kilpack
Hershey, Michael D'Antonio
The Santa Letters, Stacy Gooch Anderson
Nothing to Regret, Tristi Pinkston
A Mile in My Flip-Flops, Melody Carlson
Tallgrass, Sandra Dallas
Painted Dresses, Patricia Hickman
Prince Caspian, C.S. Lewis
Breaking Dawn, Stephenie Meyer
Bringing Elizabeth Home, Ed and Lois Smart
September, Rosamunde Pilcher
The Darcys Give A Ball: A Gentle Joke, Jane Austen Style, Elizabeth Newark
A Light to My Path, Lynn Austin
Fire by Night, Lynn Austin
Candle in the Darkness, Lynn Austin
Hidden Places, Lynn Austin
A Dance to Remember, Anita Stansfield
Friday Night Knitting Club, Kate Jacobs
Then She Found Me, Elinor Lipman
Don't You Marry the Mormon Boys, Janet Kay Jensen
A Thousand Voices, Lisa Wingate

Thanks Karlene, for hosting this. I read anyway, but it's fun to have a little challenge to motivate me along. I'm now off to join Katrina's Fall Into Reading 2008 Challenge. Anyone care to join me?

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Little Princesses: The Story of the Queen's Childhood by her Nanny...Review

About the book:
"Once upon a time, in 1930s England, there were two little princesses named Elizabeth and Margaret Rose. Their father was the second son of King George V, and their Uncle David was the future King of England." "We all know how the fairy tale ended: When King George died, "Uncle David" became King Edward VIII - who abdicated less than a year later to marry the scandalous Wallis Simpson. Suddenly the little princesses' father was King. The family moved to Buckingham Palace, and ten-year old Princess Elizabeth became the heir to the crown she would ultimately wear for over fifty years."

The Little Princesses shows us how it all began. In the early thirties, the Duke and Duchess of York were looking for someone to educate their daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret, then five and two years old. Enter Marion Crawford, a twenty-four-year-old from Scotland who was promptly dubbed "Crawfie" by the young Elizabeth and who would stay with the family for sixteen years. Beginning at the quiet family home in Piccadilly and ending with the birth of Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace in 1948, Crawfie tells how she brought the princesses up to be "Royal," while attempting to show them a bit of the ordinary world of underground trains, Girl Guides, and swimming lessons.

I thoroughly enjoyed this gem. First published in 1950, it is the story of Marion Crawford, who was the nanny to Queen Elizabeth II and her sister Princess Margaret. It begins in 1932 when Marion, called Crawfie by Princess Elizabeth, joined the royal household of the, then, Duke and Duchess of York. Crawfie was 24, and came to be the princesses' teacher. She stayed with the royal family until the time of Prince Charles' birth in 1948.

The story is tender and revealing. The Duke and Duchess relished their quiet family life. Being the second son, the sensitive Duke never imagined the path his life would take when his brother abdicated the throne. Plunged into the roles of King and Queen, the royals relied on Crawfie to help raise their daughters while maintaining their family life as best they could.

Crawfie's affection for the family, but especially for Princess Elizabeth, or Lilibet as she is referred to, is strong. And, it is apparent that the affection they have for her is equally as strong. She shares details of their daily lives and provides an insight into the life of royalty that is fascinating. A significant portion of the story is told from the WW2 viewpoint and how the struggles and rationing affected the royal family. We also see the changes in Princess Elizabeth as she comes to accept her role as future queen. Her courtship and marriage to Prince Phillip are chronicled as well.

The class system has never left England. Even today. I have no understanding nor respect of "royalty". That of being important simply because of a person's birth, nor the devotion and loyalty that people show them, especially since they're mainly figureheads. Crawfie nearly gave up her chance for marriage, simply to serve the King and Queen. I don't get it. I never will. I don't share the public's fascination with royalty nor celebrity for that matter.

The story, however, is an entertaining one. It's a tender, touching account of the childhood of Britain's current queen by the woman who, perhaps, understood her best.

Thanks to my local library for having a copy I could borrow. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 9/08

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Best Blogging Tip

For Book Blogger Appreciation Week, My Friend Amy is asking:

What is one thing you wish you knew about blogging when you started or what advice would you give a newbie blogger?

What is your best blogging tip?


Well, I started my regular blog well before I started my book and cooking blogs. I learned a lot by trial and error! One thing that I learned is that to get readers and commenters, you need to be a commenter. This is something that can take a great deal of time and with it comes a great sense of obligation. It finally became too much for me. I didn't have time to visit and comment on every single person who came to my blog. I didn't have enough time to add all those people to my google reader. So, I had to come to the conclusion that I wasn't required to do all that. I eliminated my blogroll on my regular blog and I downsized my google reader. It was very liberating. I lost some readers, but the ones I follow are the ones I really connect with.

It's a bit different with the book blog. I want comments and recommendations. I love ARCs! But, I have also noticed that book bloggers don't necessarily comment on each review or each post, even though they may read it. Like anything else, you have to feel a connection with the book being reviewed. This was also very liberating.

So, my great blogging tip is this: don't feel obligated. If someone new stops by and comments, visit their blog. Comment if you can. If you truly like it or like their reviews, go back. If you don't connect or like the reviews, don't go back. It's as simple as that. You will find other reviewers you like and connect with. You won't, however, connect with every book blogger you meet, and that's ok too.

Head on over to My Friend Amy to see what other blogging tips people are sharing.

Giveaways

Check out these great blogs for some giveaways.

J. Kaye's Book Blog for a copy of Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer. (10/4)

A Peek at My Bookshelf is giving away 30 books in 30 days. Check it out! (9/1-9/30)

J. Kaye's Book Blog for a copy of Inside Out Girl by Tish Cohen. (9/22)

So Many Books...So Little Time for a set of the Lauren Holbrook Match Point Series.

Fresh Ink for a copy of Midwife of the Blue Ridge by Christine Blevins. (9/22)

Redlady's Reading Room for a copy of The Professors' Wives' Club by Joanne Rendell. (9/21)

The Things We Read for a copy of Shoot the Moon by Billie Letts. (9/19)

A Bookworm's Dinner for a copy of So Long At the Fair by Christina Schwartz. (9/18)

Friday, September 12, 2008

My Scentsy Party

This isn't a reading thing, but I am hosting a Scentsy party next week. I realize that I can't invite all of my blogging friends, mostly due to lack of proximity. However, in a case of shameless self-promotion, I can tell you that if you're interested in Scentsy or in ordering some product, you can still order from my party. My consultant's website has a link where you can order product and I get the credit. Isn't that cool? Just click here. When you order, you will be given the option to order from an existing event and mine is: Holly.

If you don't want to order, but just want to check out the products, you can do that too. They're cool. I love candles and was always buying them. When I went to my first Scentsy party, I was hooked. These are wickless candles and have no flame. The wax just melts. And there are tons of neat scents. The new fall scents are out now too, along with these neat new plug-in warmers.

Pumpkin Roll is awesome and Christmas Tree smells just like a real Christmas Tree. Seriously. Winter Wonderland is one of my favorite winter scents: very fresh and slightly minty.

So there you go. Shameless self-promotion. But, then again, it's my blog, so I can do that!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

9/11 Never Forget


Where were you that September day?
Is your flag flying today?
Are you registered to vote in the upcoming election?
Have you forgotten?
Do you think it's important to remember?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Giveaways

Check out these great blogs for some giveaways.

J. Kaye's Book Blog for a copy of Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer. (10/4)

A Peek at My Bookshelf is giving away 30 books in 30 days. Check it out! (9/1-9/30)

So Many Books...So Little Time for a set of the Lauren Holbrook Match Point Series.

Redlady's Reading Room for a copy of The Professors' Wives' Club by Joanne Rendell. (9/21)

The Things We Read for a copy of Shoot the Moon by Billie Letts. (9/19)

A Bookworm's Dinner for a copy of So Long At the Fair by Christina Schwartz. (9/18)

Book Splurge for a copy of Beach Dreams by Trish Perry. (9/17)

Bookroomreviews for a box of 10 books! (9/17)

She Reads Books for a copy of In the Land of Invisible Women by Qanta Ahmed.

Not Entirely British for a copy of Enjoying the Journey by Jaime Theler. (9/15)

The Bookworm for a copy of Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler. (9/15)

My Friend Amy for a copy of Matrimony.

My Friend Amy for copies of A Passion Most Pure and A Passion Redeemed by Julie Lessman.

Homeschool Hollow for a copy of Usborne's 100 Science Experiments. (9/14)

At Home With Books for a copy of The Triumph of Deborah by Eva Etzioni-Halevy. (9/14)

Lori's Reading Corner for a copy of Murder is Binding by Lorna Barrett. (9/14)

Pop Culture Junkie for a copy of American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld. (9/14)

Booking Mama for a copy of Matrimony by Joshua Henkin. (9/14)

J. Kaye's Book Blog for a copy of The Richest Season by Maryann McFadden. (9/13)

Bookroomreviews for a copy of Breaking Dawn. (9/13)

J. Kaye's Book Blog for a copy of Testimony by Anita Shreve. (9/13)

Booking Mama for a copy of Suspicious Minds by Christy Barritt. (9/12)

On My Bookshelf for a copy of Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler. (9/12)

The Literate Housewife for a copy of House and Home by Kathleen McCleary and 10 other books! (9/11)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Musing Monday

Do YOU like the changes that have come to bookselling in the last several decades? Do you shop online? Do you prefer big chain stores, or do you prefer small, independent shops? Why?

While I love small, independent booksellers, I must admit that I prefer the prices I find online or at larger chain stores. Growing up in California, we had a delightful, local bookstore in our town. I loved it and I frequented it often. Several years ago, it went out of business. It was tragic, but I also think it was inevitable, unfortunately.

With places like half.com, Amazon, Costco and Wal-Mart selling first-run books at a significant discount, it's hard to pay full price somewhere else. Even large chain stores like B&N and Borders discount their books, and if you're a member, you get additional, special deals.

Here in my Idaho town, we have several local used bookstores, but no local independent bookstore with new books. Over in Boise, we have B&N and Borders, and on our date nights, my husband and I always seem to end up at B&N after dinner!

So, while I miss the small-town feeling of an independent bookstore, I do like the convenience and lower cost of shopping online and elsewhere. Of course, for my small-town personalized book needs, I do have my local library, where I am a frequent patron!

For more Monday Musings, visit Should Be Reading.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Summer at Tiffany...Review

About the book:
Summer at Tiffany is a memoir of the summer of 1945, when Marjorie Jacobson and her best friend Marty traveled from the Kappa House at the University of Iowa to New York City, hoping to land sales jobs at Lord and Taylor or Saks Fifth Avenue. Turned away from the top department stores, they made their way to 57th Street where refusing to be deterred, Marty lead Marjorie into the legendary Tiffany store, and somehow these best friends talked their way into positions as pages–the first women to ever work on the sales floor. Their salary left them penniless and pondering the "Wheaties and Celery Diet," but their diamond filled day–job was the envy of other romantic minded girls who had flocked to New York City that steamy June. Their dream was made complete by their Manhattan apartment–conveniently close to the dashing Navy Midshipmen at Columbia University, and their college friends summering on Long Island.

Their workdays found the girls dazzled by the likes of honeymooners Judy Garland and Vincent Minnelli, Marlene Dietrich in her USO uniform, and legendary playboy Jimmy Donohue. They delivered and modeled priceless jewels, nearly lost precious pearls, and encountered Old Man Tiffany himself during a rare visit. In between getting lost in Harlem , witnessing the Eisenhower Parade, VJ Day in Times Square, and mingling with the Cafe Society–Marjorie Hart fell in love, learned lessons and made decisions that would impact the rest of her life.

An absolutely charming memoir. The true story of two college-age girls who travel to New York City for a summer adventure in 1945. Marjorie and her friend Marty are intent on finding summer jobs at Lord & Taylor but, instead, find themselves the first female Pages ever hired at Tiffany.

What follows is a delightful adventure as they encounter stunning diamonds, wayward pearls, wealthy clients and even movie stars. The war is winding down and Manhattan is an exciting place to be with nightclubs and dances and soldiers. They experience VJ day at Times Square and Marjorie even finds an innocent summer romance.

A truly delightful read. As Marjorie writes in her introduction: "everyone has a spellbinding story worth telling." This little memoir is definitely spellbinding and is a delicious story. A novel of innocent adventure and coming of age.

Well worth your time.

Thanks to my local library for having a copy I could borrow.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 9/08

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Saturday, September 6, 2008

A Promise to Remember...Review

About the book:
When There's Nothing Left But Memories... Andie Phelps is the envy of Santa Barbara. A devoted mother with a loving son and a successful husband, her greatest joy comes from reaching out to others... Melanie Johnston is the envy of no one. A single mom who works long hours to pay the bills, and her greatest joys relate to her teen daughter and son. Then the accident that changes everything. When opposite worlds collide, the impact reaches far beyond these mothers' personal losses. Two wounded women...Two families seeking hope...A community torn apart... How far will they go to fulfill...A Promise to Remember.

A compelling and touching debut novel. Two women see their worlds collide when their sons are killed in a car accident. Andie is a wealthy stay at home mom with money and prestige who volunteers her time in the community, but has lost her only child. Melanie is a single mother with little material wealth, struggling to raise her son and daughter. While we never get all the details of the accident, the implication is strong that Andie's son caused it.

The story opens after the accident, as each woman is trying to come to terms with her grief. Melanie, in an attempt to create a legacy for her son, sues Andie and her husband for wrongful death. Both women are part of the same community and that community splits as it takes sides in support of each woman.

Andie and her husband are Christian and church-going. Melanie's son was Christian, but she is not. The story explores faith and forgiveness in an almost off-hand manner. While I think the rich vs. poor aspect is too stereotypical here, I also think that Kathryn Cushman did an incredible job of portraying how grief can tear families apart.

An easy but thought-provoking read.

Thanks to my local library for having a copy I could borrow.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 9/08

* * *
3/5 Stars

Friday, September 5, 2008

Mosaic: Pieces of My Life So Far...Review

About the book:
With her unmistakable voice and honest lyrics, Amy Grant has captured a unique place in American music. As the best-selling Christian music artist of all time, a cross-over pop sensation, and the wife of country music star Vince Gill, Amy has lived much of her life in the spotlight, subject to adulation, speculation, and scrutiny. Now for the first time she bares her heart and soul to reveal thoughts on everything from motherhood and marriage to fame and forgiveness. Whether describing personal moments alone on a moonlit hillside or very public ones performing with the likes of Tony Bennett and James Taylor, Amy presents a captivating collection of beautiful reflections on life, love, and faith.

Rendered with the lyrical insight we see in her music, Amy reflects on the pieces of her life through the years, forming a vivid mosaic of memories rich in color, varied in texture, and united in their heartfelt design.


“Thanks to writing and remembering, I’m re-inspired to value both the mundane and magical moments. In trying to capture a few memories as best as I can, I give myself the gift of treasuring what has been so far a very full and meaningful life. I hope you will do the same with yours.” - Amy Grant


Mosaic
is simply a book of vignettes from Amy Grant's life. Each chapter is an experience or a lesson learned. She uses her song lyrics, some already published and some not-previously published, to introduce each vignette. It's an innovative technique and somewhat appropriate for a musician.

I liked Amy's honesty and how she shared her faith without being too preachy. But, somehow this book fell a little flat and disappointing to me. I can't quite put my finger on it. It's certainly thoughtful, heart-felt and poignant in places, and true Amy Grant fans will adore it. I've always liked Amy's music, but I think I was hoping for something more autobiographical.

A very easy read and one you can pick up and simply read bits and pieces.

I read my own personal copy, but you can purchase your own copy here.

Read 9/08

* * 
2/5 Stars

Giveaway:
I would love to pass along my copy of Mosaic to someone who might really appreciate it. I won it in a giveaway and I'm happy to give it away to someone else. So, leave me a comment and if you blog about it, let me know that too and I'll enter you twice. I'll draw a winner on September 20th. You must have a valid email address.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Giveaways

Check out these great blogs for some giveaways.

J. Kaye's Book Blog for a copy of Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer. (10/4)

A Peek at My Bookshelf is giving away 30 books in 30 days. Check it out! (9/1-9/30)

So Many Books...So Little Time for a set of the Lauren Holbrook Match Point Series.

The Things We Read for a copy of Shoot the Moon by Billie Letts. (9/19)

A Bookworm's Dinner for a copy of So Long At the Fair by Christina Schwartz. (9/18)

Bookroomreviews for a box of 10 books! (9/17)

Not Entirely British for a copy of Enjoying the Journey by Jaime Theler. (9/15)

The Bookworm for a copy of Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler. (9/15)

My Friend Amy for a copy of Matrimony.

My Friend Amy for copies of A Passion Most Pure and A Passion Redeemed by Julie Lessman.

At Home With Books for a copy of The Triumph of Deborah by Eva Etzioni-Halevy. (9/14)

Lori's Reading Corner for a copy of Murder is Binding by Lorna Barrett. (9/14)

Pop Culture Junkie for a copy of American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld. (9/14)

Booking Mama for a copy of Matrimony by Joshua Henkin. (9/14)

J. Kaye's Book Blog for a copy of The Richest Season by Maryann McFadden. (9/13)

Bookroomreviews for a copy of Breaking Dawn. (9/13)

J. Kaye's Book Blog for a copy of Testimony by Anita Shreve. (9/13)

Booking Mama for a copy of Suspicious Minds by Christy Barritt. (9/12)

On My Bookshelf for a copy of Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler. (9/12)

The Literate Housewife for a copy of House and Home by Kathleen McCleary and 10 other books! (9/11)

5 Minutes for Books for a copy of A Friend like Henry by Nuala Gardner. (9/10)

Reading to Know for a copy of Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Kids by David Kirk. (9/7) (Wish her a Happy Birthday too!)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Letters from Pemberley...Review

About the book:
In this continuation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, one of the best-loved novels in the English language, Elizabeth Bennet finds herself in a very different league of wealth and privilege, now as Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy and mistress of Pemberley. Writing to her sister, Jane, she confides her uncertainty and anxieties, and describes the everyday of her new life. Her first year at Pemberley is sometimes bewildering, but Lizzy's spirited sense of humor and satirical eye never desert her. Incorporating Jane Austen's own words and characters from her other works, the book is a literary patchwork quilt piecing together the story of Lizzy's first eventful year as Mrs. Darcy.

I liked this book, I didn't love it. I should have been able to read it in one setting as it's short enough, but it didn't completely capture my attention.

As far as sequels go, it was better than some. The premise is that after Elizabeth moves to Pemberley, she and Jane write to each other, sharing news and details of their lives. The problem is that we get Elizabeth's letters, but not Jane's. And while they were interesting, they were somewhat normal and mundane.

Jane Dawkins does a fair job of imitating Elizabeth's voice, but naturally, the Austen charm is lacking. I think this book could have been much richer if we'd read Jane's responses and been privy to their "conversations" with each other.

The other factor that was difficult, was that Dawkins included other Austen characters, but gave them different names. Eleanor and Marianne Dashwood are included but their name is Norland; Anne Elliot is included but her name is Eleanor Steventon. It was a cute idea but fell a bit flat.

Thanks to my local library for having a copy I could borrow.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 9/08

* * 
2/5 Stars

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Santa Letters...Review

About the book:
One year ago on Christmas Eve, William died. For Emma, the hit-and-run driver killed more than her husband; he killed her joy in life itself. Now, as Christmas approaches again, Emma Jensen finds herself sinking into a depression that nothing can breach; not her job, not her love for her children, and certainly not the season. Money is tight, and emotions are taut, and this year Christmas will be a meager, empty, and painful experience. Only six-year-old McKenna believes in miracles and the magic of Christmas. The rest of the family knows that Christmas can never be the same. But when a mysterious package and an ornate letter arrive on the doorstep, things begin to change. Each day, a package and a letter signed Santa arrive for the family, and together they come to understand that the joy of Christmas does not have to be lost forever, and that God s love can heal any wound, no matter how deep. The Santa Letters will take the Jensens on a journey through a Christmas experience that will have the power to heal them all.

A truly beautiful story. Emma's husband was killed by a drunk driver on Christmas Eve, leaving his wife and 4 children. A year later, Emma is finding it difficult to find joy in her life, in her family and in the Christmas season. Her young daughter still believes in miracles and in Santa, but Emma, faced with the burden of providing for her young family only sees Christmas as a sad occasion.

One evening, a beautiful letter from Santa arrives on their doorstep, and each day until Christmas another letter and package arrive. Each letter has a purpose and instructions for the family: activities they do together and for others. The letters take the family on a remarkable journey. A journey where they begin to find joy in the Christmas season, understand the Savior and his Atonement, and realize the power of forgiveness and the infinite possibilities of love.

This is a story that will uplift you even as it tugs at your heartstrings and causes a few tears to shed. But, it will warm your heart and soul as you think about those things in your life that are truly important: your relationships with your family, friends and Jesus Christ.

While I do not know the sorrow of losing a spouse, I do understand the grief that comes with the loss of a father. Reading The Santa Letters has made me think and reflect about grief and loss and where I stand in my own healing process.

I collect Christmas stories. My mom always gives a new Christmas book to my sisters and me each year. And each year I manage to find at least one new Christmas book on my own. Throughout the Christmas season, we read stories each day. On Christmas Eve, as we sit around our Christmas tree, each member of our family shares their favorite Christmas story. This is a tradition that we did in my family as long as I can remember. We always finished with my father reading the Christmas story in the Bible. I have continued this tradition with my own family. It was, and still is, always a game to find that special, new story each Christmas. This year, it's The Santa Letters by Stacy Gooch-Anderson. You can learn more about Stacy here, and you can learn more about the book here.

A short, easy read. An uplifting story and one that will capture your attention from the beginning. A new classic and a necessary addition to your Christmas collection.

Thanks to the author for sending me a copy to review.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 8/08

* * * * *
5/5 Stars