Everyday Tidbits...

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

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Yellow House...Review

About the book:
The Yellow House delves into the passion and politics of Northern Ireland at the beginning of the 20th Century. Eileen O'Neill's family is torn apart by religious intolerance and secrets from the past. Determined to reclaim her ancestral home and reunite her family, Eileen begins working at the local mill, saving her money and holding fast to her dream. As war is declared on a local and global scale, Eileen cannot separate the politics from the very personal impact the conflict has had on her own life.

She is soon torn between two men, each drawing her to one extreme. One is a charismatic and passionate political activist determined to win Irish independence from Great Britain at any cost, who appeals to her warrior's soul. The other is the wealthy and handsome black sheep of the pacifist family who owns the mill where she works, and whose persistent attention becomes impossible for her to ignore.

Irish stories have always fascinated me and this one certainly sounded promising.  The premise is good and the political history is interesting, although it got a bit laborious in parts. Some will argue that politics is inherent to Ireland and while they are correct, I didn't pick this book up for the history lesson, I wanted a people story. Unfortunately, the characters simply weren't people I cared about.  Eileen, in particular, wasn't at all likeable.   James' family, and his mother in particular, were annoying, cruel caricatures.

The fight for a free Ireland was fraught with anger, violence and heartache.  This story, which follows the early days of the IRA and the freedom fighters, while somewhat compelling, isn't an uplifting or even moderately inspiring story.  It's sad and depressing, even with the predictable ending.  The book is also full of prolific profanity and the F word in any language or pronunciation is still the F word.

Ultimately disappointing.

Thanks to my local library for having a copy I could borrow.  You can learn more about Patricia Falvey here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 2/11

*
1/5 Stars

Saturday, February 26, 2011

That Camden Summer...Review

The year is 1916. The place is a tiny New England village called Camden--where a newly divorced woman learns that love can be more special the second time around ...


When free-thinking divorcee Roberta Jewett returns to her hometown of Camden, Maine, she discovers that small-town folk consider a divorced woman little more than a prostitute. Condemned by her mother and scorned by neighbors, she nonetheless perseveres in her struggle to forge a good life for her girls and herself. Behaving like no "respectable" woman would, she gets a job as a county nurse, learns to drive, and buys her very own Model T. Embittered by her painful marriage to an unfaithful husband, she has no intention of being any man's victim again. So when widowed carpenter Gabriel Farley begins work renovating her house, Roberta's first response to him is blatant resentment. But Gabriel's quiet, vibrant masculinity soon finds a way to soothe Roberta's heart.


And in the ultimate test of will and devotion, she must depend on the man she has grown to love and summon the courage to stand up to an entire town.

After divorcing her philandering husband, Roberta Jewett moves back to her hometown of Camden, Maine with her three daughters.  Divorce is unheard of at the time and divorcee's are looked down upon.   As is typical with small-town society, Roberta is judged and criticized because she's spirited and not afraid of hard work or supporting herself and her daughters.

Her mother is angry and bitter.  Her sister is deluded into thinking her own marriage is idyllic, even as her husband attempts to seduce Roberta.  Gabriel is the quiet man whose friendship Roberta comes to value.  When busy body members of the community begin persecuting Roberta, Gabe is the one who stands by her.

I just like LaVyrle Spencer and this is one of my favorite books from her.  I love independent women and Roberta is one of my favorite characters.  You can't help but like her.  The book does contain a rape scene which is not gratuitous, but is essential to the storyline. 

Personal copy.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Last read 2/11

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Friday, February 25, 2011

Outlander...Review

About the book:
The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon--when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach--an "outlander"--in a Scotland torn by war and raiding Highland clans in the year of Our Lord...1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into intrigues and dangers that may threaten her life...and shatter her heart. For here she meets James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, and becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire...and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.


I have seen a lot of reviews and commentary about the Outlander books and was always intrigued.  When I had the chance to review the first one, I took it.  And this is a compelling story that was hard to put down.  It's incredibly well written and the historical aspects are fascinating.  Diana Gabaldon has written a rich and captivating story.  Time travel isn't new in literature, but the premise here is terrific: a modern woman, taken from her own time and dropped into brutal, 18th century Highland Scotland.  I liked Claire and Jamie.  I appreciated that Claire was torn between her love for Jamie and her love for Frank, her 20th century husband and that she didn't write off that relationship easily.

While Claire desires to return to her own time, she also quickly accepts her new life and situation although 18th century Scotland had to be a difficult time in which to live.  I liked that Claire shared her medical knowledge with the Highlanders and that she used the herbal knowledge she gained, to help them. The Christian elements are vague until the end and I found the discussions between Claire and the abbot about the ramifications/consequences of her time travel/actions fascinating.  Claire has knowledge of the future.  She knows what will happen with the uprisings and Bonnie Price Charlie's attempt to take control of Scotland.  She knows that the clans will be destroyed and she wants so badly to do what she can to stop it.  From an ethical viewpoint, this is an intriguing story. 

If books had a rating system this one would be R.  Hard R.  And I definitely could have done without all the detailed sex.  I realize the relationship between Claire and Jamie is essential to the story, but hello!  Lets leave a little to the imagination, shall we? 

The portrayal of brutal, violent sex was disturbing.  And there is a very uncomfortable, brutal homosexual torture scene towards the end of the book.  If the sexual details were lessened, I could give the book 4 stars for the writing/story.  There are other books in this series and as near as I can tell, the second is at least as sexually explicit as this one is.  I don't know about the rest and I haven't decided if I will be reading them, as compelling as they are. Had I known about the number of explicit sexual scenes in this book, I probably would not have read it.  As it is, I will give it 3 because I did enjoy the actual story part.  

Thanks to Cheryl of Pump up Your Book Promotion for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Diana Gabaldon here.  You can see other reviews and blog tour stops here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 2/11

* * *
3/5 Stars






Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Pirate Queen...Review

About the book:
Treasure is found in the most unlikely places.

The envy of all her friends, wife and mother Saphora Warren is the model of southern gentility and accomplishment. She lives in a beautiful Lake Norman home, and has raised three capable adult children. Her husband is a successful plastic surgeon—and a philanderer. It is for that reason that, after hosting a garden party for Southern Living magazine, Saphora packs her bags to escape the trappings of the picturesque-but-vacant life.

Saphora’s departure is interrupted by her husband Bender’s early arrival home, and his words that change her life forever: I’m dying.

Against her desires, Saphora agrees to take care of Bender as he fights his illness. They relocate, at his insistance, to their coastal home in Oriental—the same house she had chosen for her private getaway. When her idyllic retreat is overrun by her grown children, grandchildren, townspeople, relatives, and a precocious neighbor child, Saphora’s escape to paradise is anything but the life she had imagined. As she gropes for evidence of God's presence amid the turmoil, can she discover that the richest treasures come in surprising packages?

I was surprised at how much I liked this book.  I'd forgotten that Patricia Hickman wrote Painted Dresses which I hated, so when I received the book and realized this, I was concerned that it would be much of the same.  Thankfully, it wasn't.  While it took me a while to like Saphora, I ultimately did.  I cared about her and what happened.  I cheered as she discovered her strengths and her faith.  I enjoyed her interactions with family and friends and I even liked Bender.  Their moments together towards the end were sweet and tender.

Because the story deals with the death of a spouse, it could be sad and depressing.  I'm happy to report that it's not. It's tender and poignant, instead.  And sweet little Tobias steals the story completely.  I'm still surprised that AIDS has such a stigma and I thought it was handled so well here.

A lovely story about family, faith and love.  Easily recommended.

Thanks to Waterbrook Multnomah for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Patricia Hickman here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 2/11

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Home Song...Review

About the book:
Principal Tom Gardner comes face-to-face with a past indiscretion when a new student transfers to his school: Kent Arens. Tom only has to look at him to see that this teenager is the son he never knew he had, the result of a one-night stand on the eve of Tom's wedding years before. Though impressed with the intelligent, athletic, and polite young man, Tom is devastated by the effect of Kent's presence on his family. 

To Tom's wife, Claire, Kent is the symbol of an act of betrayal so wrenching she cannot forgive her husband. To their daughter, Chelsea, he is the boy she begins to fall for--until she learns the truth. And to their son, Robby, he is a rival in the classroom and on the football field--and the force driving his parents apart. As the Gardners careen toward disaster, they test the foundation of trust and respect that their family was built on ... and team that love leaves no choice but forgiveness.

Sometimes it's nice to go back to familiar books.  Those books you can pick up and instantly feel at home with the characters and the setting.  It's nice to read without being obligated to read.  LaVyrle Spencer and Rosamunde Pilcher books are like that for me.

Home Song is one of my favorites.  I've read it many times and each time I'm moved by the story.  Each time I read it, I'm also annoyed at Claire and her inability to forgive. As the story unfolds and Kent and Tom begin to get to know each other, it's easy to feel their struggles and joy. Kent is a great kid, a bit too good to be true, but still a likeable character. This is a terrific story about choice and consequences, love and forgiveness.

LaVyrle Spencer has the ability to capture the every day realities.  Her characters are real and flawed; her heroines are spunky and resilient and always have something to overcome.  Family is important, as is friendship and pulling together in times of adversity.

Re-read 2/11

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Getting Over Going Under: 5 Things You Must Know before Anesthesia...Review by the Doctor

About the book:
Getting Over Going Under explains The Friedberg Method of Goldilocks Anesthesia in detail. It outlines how you can have your anesthesiologist more effectively keep you or your loved ones sedated and comfortable using 21st century care and it also reveals the shortcomings of 20th century anesthesia. It details the reasons for patient discomfort and worrisome side effects and how they can be eliminated. And it clearly shows what you, the patient can do to promote having your anesthesiologist use Goldilocks Anesthesia for cosmetic and other surgeries.

The Friedberg Method was developed in 1992 and enhanced with the addition of the brain monitor to become Goldilocks anesthesia.™ More than 5,000 of Dr. Friedberg's patients - and he, himself, when he had hip surgery - have enjoyed its many benefits. If you or a loved one are facing surgery of any kind, this book will assist you in assuring the safest and best possible outcome with your anesthesia experience.

Read this book and take the knowledge on it's pages to your Doctor so that you can greatly benefit from having a brain monitor used with when anesthesia is needed.


When the time comes for me to have some kind of surgery, this is how it’s going to happen. I’m going to take this book into the surgeon and say this “Either your anesthesiologist does it this way, or I don’t choose you as my surgeon. No wiggle room, no negotiations. It’s this way, or no way”.

As a Chiropractor, I spend a lot of my time trying to help people avoid surgery, but when it’s necessary, then it’s time to do it. I’ve always spent a lot of time thinking about who would be the best surgeon for this patient, and now I feel like I should also be wondering “Who would be the best anesthesiologist” for this patient.

In this book, Dr. Friedberg gives us insights into the dangers and truths surrounding anesthesia, and explains his Goldilocks protocol. I’ve always had a great deal of respect for doctors who have the courage and nerves of steel to take patients to the edge of death, and then wake them up again, which is what anesthesia really is.

I always thought that feeling like garbage for 48 hours after surgery was just part of life. Wow, was I wrong. The Goldilocks protocol (not too little, not too much, but just right) made so much sense to me that I’m surprised that there is anyone doing it any other way.

This is a great book, written well so that the non-medically educated person can read it and understand it just as easily as those of us who stayed in school for way too long.

You need to read this book, then buy another copy for your friends and relatives. The protocols here can make all the difference when they have to take that scary step or surgery.

Highly recommended, and very enjoyable.

Thanks to Scott Lorenz of Westwind Communications for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Dr. Barry Friedberg here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 12/10

Monday, February 21, 2011

Angel Sister...Review

About the book:
It is 1936 and Kate Merritt, the middle child of Victor and Nadine, works hard to keep her family together. Her father slowly slips into alcoholism and his business suffers during the Great Depression. As her mother tries to come to grips with their situation and her sisters seem to remain blissfully oblivious to any problems, it is Kate who must shoulder the emotional load. Who could imagine that a dirty, abandoned little girl named Lorena Birdsong would be just what the Merritts need?

This richly textured novel reveals the power of true love, the freedom of forgiveness, and the strength to persevere through troubled times. Multidimensional characters face real and trenchant problems while maintaining their family bonds, all against the backdrop of a sultry Kentucky summer.

Set in small town Kentucky during the great depression, this is a fantastic story with characters that will stay with you. Some you'll love and some you'll hate.  I adored Kate and Lorena.  I hated Victor's father, a true to life example of how anger and bitterness ruins lives.  Aunt Hattie was fantastic. Victor's struggle to overcome his alcoholism and come to terms with his war experiences, along with Nadine's love and fear for him, tear at your heart. Lorena's charming sweetness will capture it.

Ann Gabhart is a fantastic storyteller.  Her writing is lyrical and descriptive.  In her hands, a story that would have been only sad and depressing is, instead, a beautiful story of love, family and forgiveness. 

Available February 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.Thanks to Donna Hausler and the Baker Publishing Group for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Ann H. Gabhart here.  You can purchase your own copy here

Read 2/11

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Tender Vow...Review

About the book:
Michigan-born brothers John and Jason Evans took a ski trip in the Rockies, but only one came home alive-John was tragically killed on a daring descent down Devil's Run, an infamously dangerous slope.

In an attempt to soothe his guilt and grief, Jason sets out to make amends with his widowed sister-in-law, Rachel, by offering to help with her two small children, doing odd jobs around her house, and trying to ease her own heavy burden of grief. A new Christian, he is bent on growing his faith and helping Rachel see her way through the fog of pain and confusion.

Left to raise her three-year-old daughter and newborn son on her own, Rachel Evans is anything but willing to become her brother-in-law's charity case, particularly since they have a history she'd rather forget. She's determined to make it on her own but soon finds that God has other plans for her-and for Jason. Can she accept the Lord's leading and still honor her late husband's memory?


I loved Sharlene's Daughters of Jacob Kane series and so I was curious about reading more from her.  This is a sweet story about love and forgiveness.  Sharlene did a great job of capturing the grief that surrounds loss and the exploration of new feelings as people move forward.  The Christian elements are strong, with Rachel and Jason both learning how to listen to the voice of God in their lives.  The novel is somewhat light and a bit predictable, despite the subject matter, but it is still a sweet story. Perfect for an afternoon escape. 

Personal copy.  You can learn more about Sharlene MacLaren here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 2/11

* * *
3/5 Stars

Friday, February 18, 2011

Without a Word...Review

About the book:
Without a Word is a riveting memoir that blends remarkable achievement with passion, sacrifice, love, pain, and human interest. It takes the reader into the lives of a celebrity couple, Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Kelly, and his wife, Jill, to reveal the Kelly family's private struggle and how eight and a half years with their severely disabled, terminally ill son, Hunter, unfolded in a redemptive and transforming manner. The light of Hunter's love through his brief and silent life shone into the shadowed corners of Jill and Jim's lives resulting in Jill believing that Jesus Christ was authentic, her learning to forgive Jim of past indiscretions, and finally resulting in Jim's seeking and finding God. Lessons gleaned from Hunter's life and death, and Jim and Jill's struggle to save their marriage during tumultuous times, make this a compelling and inspiring read.

The Kellys are fairly honest in sharing their experiences and there is no doubt that this little boy was the light of their world.

Jill devoted 8 years to caring for her son, which is commendable, but she virtually ignored her husband during that time.  I wish the book had more of Jim in it and less of Jill. He shares a few things, but this would be a richer, fuller memoir if we knew more about his perspective and experiences during Hunter's life.  The book presumes to be about Hunter, but really it's all about Jill and how she managed everything.

I'm not sure what I expected, but I didn't come away very inspired and I ended up skimming through a lot of it. Having a child who suffers from a debilitating, terminal illness is a strain on any life and marriage.  In a marriage where the couple doesn't know how to communicate, situations like this one can destroy it.  Finding God, however, is what finally sustained and helped Jill and Jim.  That they are still together is a testament to the ability to forgive and serious marital counseling.  

I commend them for using their experience and celebrity to help families dealing with this disease and to raise awareness and research funding for it.

Thanks to Valerie Russo and FaithWords for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Jill Kelly here and Krabbe Leukodystrophy here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 2/11

* *
2/5 Stars

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Naked Fitness...Review by the Doctor

Naked Fitness is not about working out in the nude. And it’s not about being dressed in the best workout attire either. Naked Fitness is about stripping away all the clutter that stops you from getting your wonderful, beautiful body into the best shape possible. It’s about breaking down the barriers and fears that are keeping you from becoming motivated and staying on track. It’s about learning how to move your body without pain, align it to its fullest potential, and recognize how the correct alignment impacts your daily health.

Naked Fitness is not just another exercise book. Instead, it uniquely tailors a solution specific to your body and build. In Naked Fitness, you will look in the mirror and find your fountain of youth. Whether you are a couch potato or an agile athlete, you will learn how to look at your body and understand exactly what it needs to be in perfect alignment, and to feel and look your very best. The "Daily Ten" personalized routines are specific to which part of your spine needs alignment to function better. Whether you’re looking to lose weight, live healthier, or improve your performance on and off the field, you will find the answers in Naked Fitness. You can then take your routine one step further by completing the Naked Fitness web questionnaire and download your personalized exercise routine DVD.


Anyone who talks about posture as much as Andrea Metcalf does is going to get my vote!

When I first picked this up, my thoughts were "another weight loss book – what is it going to be this time?".  As a Doctor, I get tired of all the weight loss books out there.  This diet, that diet, this miracle pill, that fad idea.  Seriously, I’ve seen lots of it, and I expected more of the same insanity.

Nope – happy to say there is no garbage here.  What you have is a good lifestyle change book, but done with a great amount of knowledge and honestly.  Andrea gives you not only recipes for meals, but recipes for results.

She covers workouts (real ones, not the crazy ‘kill-you’ type programs that the fad personal trainers come out with), nutrition and more importantly how to change your life so that you can do this, stick with it, and make it work for you.

I highly recommend this book.  Common sense advice, with an uncommon touch.  Very enjoyable, and well worth the read.

Thanks to Anna Suknov of FSB  Associates for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Andrea Metcalf here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 1/11






Wednesday, February 16, 2011

E=MC2...Review

About the book:
Packed with amusing examples and experiments that readers can try for themselves, E=MC2 covers all of the most important discoveries of physics. Travel down the highway, through the beach, and to the pub and learn how physics affects everything in your surroundings-without the use of mind- bending math or the need for a particle accelerator.

With E=MC2, you'll find:
  • Simple answers to questions such as, "Why do balloons rise while apples fall?"
  • Easy definitions of terms like radioactivity, kinetic energy, and electromagnets
  • A quick run-through of the history of physics-two-and-a-half millennia of scientific progress spanning from the ancient Greeks, to Newton, to today
  • How the first stars were born
  • A refresher on the theory of relativity and an understanding of why-a hundred years later-Einstein's physics still points the way in cutting-edge research
  • How satellites work (and why they don't work during inclement weather)
It's physics for the rest of us. So why not come along for the ride? Advance at the speed of light through the fundamental laws of physics as they were discovered, proven wrong, and revolutionized.

I am not a science-oriented person.  Start talking physics or equations or anything mathematical and my eyes glaze over and my brain shuts down.  Ask me about art or literature, ask me to read, review, spell or edit something and I'm all yours.  This little book is fantastic.  It took subjects and premises that scare me and made them fun and easy to understand.  I wish I'd had a book like this during high school science. 

This would be a great gift for the science/math lover in your life. It's a fun book to have sitting on your coffee table for entertaining reading.

Thanks to FSB Associates for the opportunity to review this book.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 2/11

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Lady in the Mist...Review

About the book:
By virtue of her profession as a midwife, Tabitha Eckles is the keeper of many secrets: the names of fathers of illegitimate children, the level of love and harmony within many a marriage, and now the identity of a man who may have caused his wife's death. Dominick Cherrett is a man with his own secret to keep: namely, what he, a British nobleman, is doing on American soil working as a bondsman in the home of Mayor Kendall, a Southern gentleman with his eye on a higher office.

By chance one morning before the dawn has broken, Tabitha and Dominick cross paths on a misty beachhead, leading them on a twisted path through kidnappings, death threats, public disgrace, and...love? Can Tabitha trust Dominick? What might he be hiding? And can either of them find true love in a world that seems set against them?

With stirring writing that puts readers directly into the story, Lady in the Mist expertly explores themes of identity, misperception, and love's discovery.

This was a fascinating look at midwifery in the early 19th century, although it's about a woman who is a midwife, not midwifery itself.  The story is historically rich, full of intrigue and mystery, unanswered questions and thieves in the night.   It's a busy book with a lot going on and I found it sometimes hard to follow.  But, I liked Tabitha and Dominick.

It's not a book that stayed with me though.  While writing this review a few weeks after I read it, I realized I needed to go back and skim the book to remind myself of what happened.  Fans of historical fiction should enjoy it, however.

Available February 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Thanks to Donna Hausler and the Baker Publishing Group for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Laurie Alice Eakes here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 1/11

* * *
3/5 Stars

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Adoration of Jenna Fox...Review

About the book:
Who is Jenna Fox?


Seventeen-year-old Jenna has been told that is her name. She has just awoken from a year-long coma, and she’s still recovering from the terrible accident that caused it. Her parents show her home movies of her life, her memories, but she has no recollection. Is she really the same girl she sees on the screen?


Little by little, Jenna begins to remember. But along with the memories come questions—questions no one wants to answer for her. What really happened after the accident?


In this fascinating novel, acclaimed author Mary E. Pearson presents an unforgettable look at one human life and a glimpse into a possible future that may be closer than we think.

I've never been one for dystopian-type novels, but this one sounded interesting.  And it was.  The premise is fascinating, the ethical questions and story are compelling.  The narration is told from Jenna's first-person viewpoint as she awakens from a year-long coma.  The story unfolds as she discovers what has happened to her and who she is now. 

I can't say that any of these characters are particularly likeable and many of the secondary characters aren't fleshed out well, so I was left wondering about their stories. However, this is one of those books that sort of stays with you.  Whether it's a good thing or a bad thing, I don't know.

Thanks to my local library for having a copy I could borrow. You can learn more about Mary Pearson here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 2/11

* * *
3/5 Stars

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Distant Hours...Review

About the book:
Edie Burchill and her mother have never been close, but when a long lost letter arrives one Sunday afternoon with the return address of Milderhurst Castle, Kent, printed on its envelope, Edie begins to suspect that her mother’s emotional distance masks an old secret.

Evacuated from London as a thirteen year old girl, Edie’s mother is chosen by the mysterious Juniper Blythe, and taken to live at Milderhurst Castle with the Blythe family: Juniper, her twin sisters and their father, Raymond, author of the 1918 children’s classic The True History of the Mud Man.

In the grand and glorious Milderhurst Castle, a new world opens up for Edie’s mother. She discovers the joys of books and fantasy and writing, but also, ultimately, the dangers.

Fifty years later, as Edie chases the answers to her mother’s riddle, she, too, is drawn to Milderhurst Castle and the eccentric Sisters Blythe. Old ladies now, the three still live together, the twins nursing Juniper, whose abandonment by her fiancé in 1941 plunged her into madness.

Inside the decaying castle, Edie begins to unravel her mother’s past. But there are other secrets hidden in the stones of Milderhurst Castle, and Edie is about to learn more than she expected.

The truth of what happened in the distant hours has been waiting a long time for someone to find it.

This was one of those books that tried too hard to be fantastic. The premise is good.  The setting is good; I enjoy stories set in World War 2 Britain.  The story, while it has moments of brilliance, isn't that good.  It flips back and forth between 1992 and 1941 in a convoluted twist and never lives up to its potential.  The ending, where everything should finally come together and be revealed is anti-climatic. 

I never did connect with any characters.  I simply found myself impatient for the story to be over.  I should have stopped reading, but I kept wanting to give the book the chance to redeem itself.  It never did.

Thanks to Atria Books through Shelf Awareness for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Kate Morton here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 2/11

* *
2/5 Stars

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Billion Reasons Why...Review

About the book:
There are a billion reasons Kate should marry her current boyfriend. Will she trade them all to be madly in love?

Katie McKenna leads a perfect life. Or so she thinks. She has a fulfilling job, a cute apartment, and a wedding to plan with her soon-to-be fiancé, Dexter. She can think of a billion reasons why she should marry Dexter…but nowhere on that list is love.

And then in walks Luc DeForges, her bold, breathtaking ex-boyfriend. Only now he’s a millionaire. And he wants her to go home to New Orleans to sing for her childhood friend's wedding. As his date.

But Katie made up her mind about Luc eight years ago, when she fled their hometown after a very public breakup. Yet there’s a magnetism between them she can’t deny.

Katie thought her predictable relationship with Dexter would be the bedrock of a lasting, Christian marriage. But what if there’s more? What if God’s desire for her is a heart full of life? And what if that’s what Luc has offered all along?

A cute story, nothing stellar, but laugh out loud funny in parts and completely entertaining.  Katie is spunky, Luc is charming, Dexter is completely unbelievable and Eileen is a kick. Predictable and implausible and in serious need of a good edit, this is still a light and entertaining read.  True chick-lit, light on everything and a nice diversion.  I read in in a couple of hours. 

This is the first Kristin Billerbeck story I've read and I can see myself reading some more, simply for the sheer entertainment value. 

Thanks to Audra Jennings of The B&B Media Group and Thomas Nelson for the opportunity to review this novel.  You can learn more about Kristin Billerbeck here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 2/11
* * *
3/5 Stars

Monday, February 7, 2011

Spilling the Beans on the Cat's Pajamas...Review

About the book:
"Make no bones about it"--here's a "grand slam" for anyone seeking the meanings of catch phrases and quotes that enrich our everyday speech. It "rounds up the usual suspects"--hundreds of expressions that keep our language flourishing--and makes them easy to find in an A-to-Z format. If "all goes according to plan," you'll soon know:
  • The expressions "all that glitters is not gold" and "apple of the eye" have each been in use for more than 1,000 years. "To bark up the wrong tree" comes from the sport of raccoon hunting.
  • "The big enchilada" was used to describe someone on the infamous Watergate tapes.
  • "Flavor of the month" was a generic advertising phrase of the mid-1940s used to describe new ice cream flavors.
  • "Baker's dozen" is 13, one more than the standard dozen, and goes back to medieval times, when Henry III called for the severe punishment of any bakers caught shortchanging customers. English bakers developed the habit of including an extra loaf of bread when asked for a dozen to ensure that they wouldn't be condemned.
  • "Drop of a hat" alludes to the frontier practice of dropping a hat as a signal for a boxing or wrestling match to begin, usually the only formality observed.
  • "Sleep tight" dates back to when beds were made of rope and straw. Before going to sleep at night, people would have to pull the ropes tight, as they would have loosened during the course of the previous night's sleep.
With this clever book on hand, you'll never have to "throw in the towel" during a battle of wits. Make this and all of the Blackboard Books(tm) a permanent fixture on your shelf, and you'll have instant access to a breadth of knowledge. Whether you need homework help or want to win that trivia game, this series is the trusted source for fun facts.

Fun, fun, fun.  A perfect book for anyone who loves words and reading.  We have so many funky, unique expressions in the English language and I, like most people, have no idea where some of these phrases come from.  This fun little book   It would be a fantastic gift for that English major friend of yours and a great addition to a coffee table for entertaining reading.

Thanks to Leyane Jerejian at FSB Associates for the opportunity to review this book.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 2/11

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Upside of Down...Review

About the book:
"Hmmm," the doctor muttered.
Natalie wrinkled her forehead, almost afraid to ask, and said, "What does that mean?"
"You do know you're pregnant, right?"
Her breath caught in her throat. "Excuse me?"
"You're pregnant."
Her heartbeat thundered in her ears. "I'm what?"

Natalie Drake certainly has her hands full raising a large family, dealing with her difficult mother, and maintaining a relationship with her rebellious teenager. Just when things seem to be going smoothly, she finds out another unexpected surprise--she's going to have a baby. Faced with so many challenges, Natalie must learn to trust in a plan that isn't what she imagined and discover that every situation has an upside.

Rebecca Talley once again carefully crafts together a touching and heartfelt story that is sure to inspire you. With true-to-life characters and situations, The Upside of Down will reignite your faith and remind you of the importance of family.

While I thought it was a bit extreme on the Mormon stereotypes, this was an enjoyable book.  I appreciated that while Natalie had strong desires to do what was right, she also had the inadequacies and doubts that plague so many of us.  Her inability to accept her daughter's diagnosis, and her subsequent struggles to accept the Lord's plan for her life were all very believable.  Natalie finally learns that no matter how strong you feel, you always need to turn to God for strength and help.

The author has a young son who has Down Syndrome and she writes from experience.  I read the book in a day.  And there was much I could relate to.

I remember leaving the hospital without my baby. My son was born with a congenital heart defect that required open-heart surgery to save his life.  I remember the fear of the unknown regarding his health.  I remember the prayers offered by us and for us on his behalf as well as for me and my husband.  I remember thinking that I didn't have enough faith to get through the experience and I remember realizing that my Heavenly Father would never leave me to walk alone.

An enjoyable, thought-provoking read and one I can easily recommend.

Thanks to Rebecca for sending me her novel to review.  You can learn more about Rebecca Talley here and here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 1/11

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Save the Date...Review

About the book:
When Alex and Lucy pick out wedding invitations, they wonder if they can be printed in vanishing ink.

Former NFL star Alex Sinclair is a man who has it all--except the votes he needs to win his bid for Congress. Despite their mutual dislike, Alex makes Lucy a proposition: pose as his fiancée in return for the money she desperately needs. Bound to a man who isn't quite what he seems, Lucy will find her heart on the line--and maybe even her life. When God asks Alex and Lucy to scrap their playbook and follow his rules, will they finally say, "I do"?

This was, quite simply, a fun book to read.  A bit far-fetched, but honestly laugh-out loud funny. It's a nice diversion. I didn't like Lucy right away, but she grew on me.  I loved that her job involved working with at-risk girls who had graduated out of foster care.  When her non-profit funding is cut, she finds herself accepting an unusual proposition.  Can she commit to it and follow-through or will she finally listen to God and let her heart take over?  

While a classic chick-lit novel, it's not quite as light as one would think. The Christian overtones are strong and the lessons learned include forgiving ones self and turning your life over to God. 

Loved the characterizations and  Julian, especially, was a total kick.  Clare grew on me as well and I loved the interactions between the two.  Predictable, but with a sweet ending, this is an enjoyable diversion and one that was fun to read.

Minor peeve: While I loved the shout out to Science Fiction/Fantasy fans, and especially the reference to Doctor Who, I have to complain that real fans won't call it Dr. Who like it was used here, they use the whole word Doctor... and it would have been neat to have a real reference to show that Lucy really did know the show...such as which series/doctor was on the DVD set in her bag.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson Publishers for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Jenny B. Jones here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 2/11

* * * *
4/5 Stars