Everyday Tidbits...

Be Kind. Do Good. Love is a Verb.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Last Camellia...Review


About the book:
A romantic and suspenseful tale about two women whose destiny is bound across the years

On the eve of World War II, the last surviving specimen of a camellia plant known as the Middlebury Pink lies secreted away on an English country estate. Flora, an amateur American botanist, is contracted by an international ring of flower thieves to infiltrate the household and acquire the coveted bloom. Her search is at once brightened by new love and threatened by her discovery of a series of ghastly crimes.

More than half a century later, garden designer Addison takes up residence at the manor, now owned by the family of her husband, Rex. The couple’s shared passion for mysteries is fueled by the enchanting camellia orchard and an old gardener’s notebook. Yet its pages hint at dark acts ingeniously concealed. If the danger that Flora once faced remains very much alive, will Addison share her fate?

Sarah Jio's novels all follow the same premise: alternating narratives between the past and the present with a mystery that the modern day protagonist must solve with links and clues to the past.  It's a formula that works well as her stories cross the generations.  The floral thievery aspect of this novel was fascinating to me.  I'd never heard of people stealing flowers or that particular flowers could be so valuable.

Flora and Addison were characters with great potential and I really liked Addison's husband Rex.  I can't say that I liked any of the Livingston's at all and the story was a bit predictable as to what happens to the missing girls.  Bit on the macabre side of things, but compelling nonetheless.  I kind of liked the little twist at the end and thought it appropriate.

I have enjoyed the previous two Sarah Jio books I've read and I was looking forward to her new one.  This one didn't capture me as much as the other two, although it is still an enjoyable novel.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to review this book. You can purchase your own copy here. You can see other reviews and tour stops here.

Monday, June 24th:  Kritter’s Ramblings
Wednesday, June 26th:  Utah Mom’s Life
Friday, June 28th:  Book Addict Katie
Monday, July 1st:  A Bookworm’s World
Tuesday, July 2nd:  Ageless Pages Review
Wednesday, July 3rd:  A Bookish Way of Life
Monday, July 8th:  Write, Meg!
Thursday, July 11th:  Patricia’s Wisdom
Monday, July 15th:  Amused by Books
Wednesday, July 17th:  Guiltless Reading
Thursday, July 18th:  Mockingbird Hill Cottage
Monday, July 22nd:  Book Dilettante
Tuesday, July 23rd:  Jenn’s Bookshelves
Thursday, July 25th:  Peeking Between the Pages
Friday, July 26th:  BookChickDi
TBD:  Books a la Mode - guest post
TBD:  2 Kids and Tired

Read 7/13

* * *
3/5 Stars

Monday, July 29, 2013

Teen Cuisine New Vegetarian...Preview

About the book:
Teens will celebrate all the great features in this exquisite cookbook that speaks directly to today’s most popular eating trends.

Features:
• 50 mouthwatering, original step-by-step recipes for all times of day arranged into sections such as “Smart Starts,” “Pasta and Polenta Perfects,” “Big Plates,” and “Just Desserts”
• Special sushi section
• “On Your Mark Get Set Cook!” popular recipe format with step-by-step drawings and photographs
• Chef’s tips, safety section, cooking terms, and ingredient definitions
• Kitchen essentials and equipment
• Organic, local, nutritious ingredients for healthy eating.

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About the author:
Matthew Locricchio created the highly regarded Superchef series of cookbooks for young readers. The eight books in the series introduce young chefs and new cooks to classic recipes from Italy, France, China, Mexico, Greece, India, Thailand, and Brazil.

His most recent book, The International Cookbook For Kids, won the prestigious Gourmand World Cookbook Award 2005 for Best Book for Children and Family in the USA as well as The Disney Adventures Book Award for Best Hands-On Book. His next book The 2nd International Cookbook For Kids will be released in October of 2008 and will be available at bookstores everywhere.

Matthew was born into a restaurant and catering family in Detroit and has worked in the food service industry most of his life.

Included in his resume as a professional cook are stints at the well known Gandy Dancer in Ann Arbor, Michigan, The West Coast Stock Exchange's private club in San Francisco, as well as the legendary Barbary Coast restaurant.

Also a playwright and actor, Matthew has worked in numerous commercials, soap operas, films, and television shows. On stage he has toured with Lincoln Center Institute and appeared at such theaters as the Public Theatre and The Roundabout in New York City, Yale Repertory, and the Magic Theater in San Francisco. As a playwright his works for young audiences include Lifeline: The Gameshow and his adaptation of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

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Bite Me Chile
1 pound tempeh, any flavor
1 medium-size white onion
5 to 6 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
5 to 6 sprigs cilantro
2 cloves garlic
1 to 2 jalapeño or serrano chiles
1 to 3 dried ancho, negro, or pasilla chiles, depending on taste
1 14.5-ounce can fire-roasted or regular chopped tomatoes
1 10-ounce can Ro*Tel brand diced tomatoes and green chiles
1 15.5-ounce can red pinto, great Northern, or black beans
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive or safflower oil
1 4-ounce can chopped mild, medium, or hot green chiles
1 tablespoon chile powder
1 teaspoon smoked or regular paprika
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1 cup water, plus more as needed

CHILE FIXINGS
Chopped scallions
Chopped white or red onions
Cheddar cheese or vegan cheddar, grated Monterey Jack or vegan Jack cheese, grated
Sour cream or vegan sour cream
Plain whole-milk yogurt or soy yogurt

On your mark . . .
  • Cut the tempeh into medium-size pieces and put into a 2-quart saucepan. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Drain in a colander and set aside.
  • Peel the onion, chop into medium dice, measure out 1 cup, and set aside.
  • Wash the parsley and cilantro, shake off any excess water, and dry by rolling in paper towels. Remove the leaves and discard the stems. Coarsely chop the parsley and cilantro together and set aside.
  • Slightly crush the garlic by laying the flat side of a chef’s knife on the clove and pressing firmly to break open the skin. Remove the skin, cut off the root end, and discard. Coarsely chop the garlic and set aside.
  • Slip on a pair of latex kitchen gloves. Remove the stem from the fresh chiles and cut in half lengthwise. Rinse under cold water and scrape out the seeds with the tip of a spoon. If you like the chile a bit hotter, leave in the seeds. Chop into small pieces and set aside. Rinse, dry, and remove the gloves.
Get set . . .
  • Break the stem from the dried chiles and discard. Shake out any seeds, tear the chiles into small pieces, and place in a bowl. Add ½ cup hot water and set aside to soften. Wash your hands.
  • Combine the tomatoes, including the liquid, and the tomato-and-green chile combination. Measure out 3 cups and set aside.
  • Drain the canned beans in a hand strainer or colander. Rinse under cold water and set aside to drain.
  • Coarsely chop the tempeh and set aside.
Cook!
  • Drain the dried chiles in a hand strainer or colander and pat dry.
  • Heat the oil in a 4- to 6-quart pot (with lid) over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking.
  • Add the onion and dried chiles and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent.
  • Add the garlic, tempeh, canned green chiles, chopped fresh chiles, chile powder, paprika, salt, cayenne pepper, if using, and the chopped parsley and cilantro.
  • Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking, until the tempeh has browned.
  • Add the 3 cups tomato mixture, beans, and water. Bring to a boil, decrease the heat to low, and simmer for 45 minutes with the lid slightly ajar.
  • Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Add water if the chile becomes too thick, but avoid making it soupy. Taste the chile and correct the seasoning.
  • Serve hot, passing the scallions, onions, grated cheeses, sour cream, and yogurt on the side.
Thanks to Julie at Etch Communications for the opportunity to preview this cookbook.  You can learn more about Chef Matthew Locricchio here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Godiva...Review

About the book:
Everyone knows the legend of Lady Godiva-the woman who (in)famously rode naked on horseback through Coventry to relieve her people from unfair taxation. But why would a lady of the court take it all off and risk everything, including husband, home, and well-being?

In this richly imagined retelling of an oft-told ancient tale, Nicole Galland gives us Lady Godiva in all her, um, glory, as she and her best friend (the Abbess Egdiva) and husband (Leofric, Earl of Mercia) embark on an adventure filled with courtly intrigue, deceit, back-stabbing, and romance.

Nicole Galland has fictionalized the story of Lady Godiva and gives us a fairly rich story in which we see the court at its deceitful best.  I found the historical aspects fascinating, but the story itself took a long time for me to get into.  Godiva's repartee with those around her, but especially King Edward when she thinks she's bested him is terrific.  I liked her as a character, I thought she cared about her people.  I enjoyed the relationship she had with her husband, even as she used her wiles to charm those of the court around her.

Like many people, I was unfamiliar with the original story of Lady Godiva other than legends and snarky pop culture references.  I did some research before reading and I'm glad I familiarized myself with her because I appreciated learning the reason behind her decision to ride through town naked.  The traditional story is a bit different from what Nicole portrays here, but I could believe this one.

This is one of those books that isn't easy to review.  Did I enjoy it?  For the most part.  Is it compelling? Somewhat.  Is it one I would reread?  No.  Is it one I would recommend?  Perhaps.

My copy was an ARC and did not include the historical epilogue which will be included in the final printing. The author was kind enough to send me a copy of that epilogue and I am so glad she did.  It clarifies many things about the original characters of Godiva and Leofric and Sweyn and Egdiva.  I am glad it will be a part of the final printing.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to review this novel.  You can learn more about Nicole Galland here.  You can purchase your own copy here. You can see other reviews and tour stops here.

Tuesday, July 2nd: A Chick Who Reads
Wednesday, July 3rd: From L.A. to LA
Thursday, July 4th: West Metro Mommy
Tuesday, July 9th: Dreaming in Books
Wednesday, July 10th: A Dream Withing a Dream
Thursday, July 11th: A Bookish Affair
Saturday, July 13th: guiltless reading
Monday, July 15th: Col Reads
Tuesday, July 16th: Lectus
Wednesday, July 17th: nomadreader
Thursday, July 18th: guiltless reading
Tuesday, July 23rd: 2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews
Thursday, July 25th: Twisting the Lens

Read 7/13

* * *
3/5 Stars

Monday, July 22, 2013

Stargazey Point...Review

About the book:
Devastated by tragedy during her last project, documentarian Abbie Sinclair thinks she has nothing left to give by the time she arrives in Stargazey Point. Once a popular South Carolina family destination, the town's beaches have eroded, local businesses are closing, and skyrocketing taxes are driving residents away. Stargazey Point, like Abbie, is fighting to survive.

But Abbie is drawn slowly into the lives of the people around her: the Crispin siblings, three octogenarians sharing a looming plantation house; Cab Reynolds, who left his work as an industrial architect to refurbish his uncle's antique carousel, a childhood sanctuary; Ervina, an old Gullah wisewoman with the power to guide Abbie to a new life, if only she'd let her; and a motley crew of children whom Abbie can't ignore.

Abbie came seeking a safe haven, but what she finds is so much more. For Stargazey Point is a magical place . . . a place for dreamers . . . a place that can lead you home.

Needing to a place to recover from a heart-breaking tragedy, Abbie Sinclair finds herself at Crispin House in Stargazey Point, South Carolina.  Stargazey Point was once a tourist destination and was devastated by one too many hurricanes and a slumping economy.  Still retaining much of its charm, its residents fight to stay.

Abbie finds herself drawn to the people she meets and the charming seaside town.  The Crispin's welcome her into their plantation home and she discovers a struggling community center with children looking for a purpose.  Cab Reynolds, who is refurbishing the old Stargazey Point carousel warms his way into Abbie's heart as well.

Stargazey Point is simply a charming southern novel.  Not fluffy chick lit, but not heavy-handed either. It's a lovely story about friendship and community and coming together for the greater good.  These were terrific characters and this is a story I simply adored.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Shelley Noble here.  You can purchase your own copy here.  Shelley Noble also has an e-single called Stargazey Nights that tells Cab's story before he came to Stargazey Point.  You can purchase that here. You can see other reviews and tour stops here.

Tuesday, July 9th: BookNAround
Wednesday, July 10th: Time 2 Read
Thursday, July 11th: BoundByWords
Monday, July 15th: The House of the Seven Tails
Thursday, July 18th: Broken Teepee
Friday, July 19th: Kritters Ramblings
Tuesday, July 23rd: A Patchwork of Books
Thursday, July 25th: A Chick Who Reads
Monday, July 29th: Peeking Between the Pages
Wednesday, July 31st: Becca’s Byline
TBD: 2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews

 Read 7/13
* * * *
4/5 Stars

Monday, July 15, 2013

Mailbox Monday 7/15

It's time for another Mailbox Monday which was created by Marcia at The Printed Page, and this month is hosted by Tasha of Book-Obsessed.

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week... Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish list

This is what showed up at my house over the past couple of weeks.  I haven't been home, life is crazy.  But, as I have a ginormous TBR list, it's probably good that this list is relatively small.


Sea Creatures by Susanna Daniel (for review, from TLC Book Tours)
Rosemary Cottage by Colleen Coble (for review, from Litfuse Publicity)


Blackmoore by  Julianne Donaldson (for review, from Deseret Book)
The Widows of Braxton County by Jess McConkey (for review, from TLC Book Tours)
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What new books did you receive?  For more Mailbox Monday posts, check out Book-Obsessed.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Together Tea...Review and Giveaway

About the book:
In Together Tea, Marjan Kamali’s delightful and heartwarming debut novel, Darya has discovered the perfect gift for her daughter’s twenty-fifth birthday: an ideal husband. Mina, however, is fed up with her mother’s years of endless matchmaking and the spreadsheets grading available Iranian-American bachelors. Having spent her childhood in Tehran and the rest of her life in New York City, Mina has experienced cultural clashes firsthand, but she’s learning that the greatest clashes sometimes happen at home.

After a last ill-fated attempt at matchmaking, mother and daughter embark on a return journey to Iran. Immersed once again in Persian culture, the two women gradually begin to understand each other. But when Mina falls for a young man who never appeared on her mother’s matchmaking radar, will Mina and Darya’s new-found appreciation for each other survive?

Together Tea is a moving and joyous debut novel about family, love, and finding the place you truly belong.

Tired of her mother's matchmaking attempts and wanting to know who she is and where she came from, Mina returns to Iran after immigrating 15 years ago.

I found the historical aspect of this novel fascinating.  My knowledge of Iran-American relations is spotty and comes mostly from the media, which we all know isn't to be trusted completely.  I remember the hostage crisis in 1979-1981. Here, I loved the perspective of a young woman who grew up in Iran and immigrated to America in the early days of the Iran/Iraq war.  When she spoke about the hyphen between the words Iranian-American, her writing was beautifully lyrical.

The story jumps between past and present as Mina remembers the Iran she left and the America she lives in presently.  As she and her mother visit present-day Iran, 15 years after leaving, the contrast between the countries was riveting. The poignant relationship between mother and daughter is the heart of the story and as mother and daughter return to Iran, Mina discovers the woman her mother once was and Darya learns she needs to let her daughter make her own choices.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Marjan Kamali here.  You can purchase your own copy here. You can see other reviews and tour stops here.

Friday, June 21st: Kritters Ramblings
Tuesday, June 25th: Excellent Library
Wednesday, June 26th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Thursday, June 27th: Book Club Classics!
Monday, July 1st: Lit and Life
Tuesday, July 2nd: BookNAround
Wednesday, July 3rd: A Patchwork of Books
Monday, July 8th: 5 Minutes For Books
Wednesday, July 10th: 2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews
Monday, July 15th: Books in the City
Wednesday, July 17th: From L.A. to LA
Friday, July 19th: Reads for Pleasure

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Because I think many of you will enjoy Together Tea, I'm offering a giveaway, which I haven't done in a while.

It really bugs me when you have to jump through tons of hoops in order to enter giveaways, so a comment with your email address will suffice.

However: If you change your profile to have your email address visible, if it isn't already, you will gain an additional entry. I ask this because it's so annoying to have someone leave a comment you would like to respond to, but can't, because their email is hidden. This is especially annoying if a question is asked in said comment.

If you choose to become a follower or tell me you already are, you can gain an additional entry too.

If you wanted to blog or tweet about it, that's great too, and you'd get an extra entry for that. Just tell me in your comment if you've done any of the extras.

You don't need to leave separate comments for each thing (too annoying!).

Seriously though, just commenting is enough for me.

U.S. or Canada addresses only and no P.O. Boxes. Sorry!

This giveaway ends 8/1.
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Read 7/13

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Guardian...Review

About the book:
When schoolteacher Jodi Winfield goes for a morning run, the last thing she expects is to find a disheveled little girl all alone on the side of the Pennsylvania road, clad only in her undergarments, her chubby cheeks streaked with tears. Jodi takes the preschooler home with her, intending to find out where she belongs. But Jodi is mystified when no one seems to know of a missing child, and the girl herself is no help, since she can't speak a word of English. It's as if the child appeared out of nowhere.

As the days pass, Jodi becomes increasingly attached to the mysterious girl, yet she is no closer to learning her identity. Then an unexpected opportunity brings Jodi to Hickory Hollow--and into the cloistered world of the Lancaster Old Order Amish. Might the answers lie there?

Mourning her sister's death, Jodi has convinced herself that she doesn't want children. Loving her anyway, her fiance agrees to never have children even as he has strong desires for them.  While Jodi is house sitting for her cousin in Lancaster county, she discovers a lost toddler, all alone on the road.  Jodi takes her home and bonds in a way she could never have anticipated.  As she turns to the Amish community to find out to which family the child belongs, she finds her life changed yet again as she discovers faith and friendship.

I love Amish stories that blend the Amish with the Englisch.  Jodi was a terrific character and I just loved her.  Maryanna was amazing and their friendship was something special.  I enjoyed this story, I enjoyed these characters and I loved revisiting Hickory Hollow.

Third in the Home to Hickory Hollow series, this story stands alone just fine.

Thanks to Bethany House for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Beverly Lewis here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 7/13

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Motive for Murder...Preview

About the book:
Meet Erica Coleman: a gifted and quirky private investigator with a penchant for sleuthing and a passion for chocolate.

Erica imagined that her trip to Florida would be a slice of heaven—a chance to get away from it all and catch up with her best friend, Wendy. But a mere day into her idyllic vacation, all hope of fun in the sun is dashed with a shocking discovery: the body of an unknown man on the driveway. A failed second homicide attempt hits even closer to home when Wendy’s fiancé barely survives poisoning. There’s no way to sugarcoat it—a murderer is on the prowl, and no one is above suspicion.

Unsettled by the proximity of foul play, Wendy asks Erica to investigate. Erica is convinced that the near double-murder was no coincidence, so she accepts her friend’s request—with her skill, solving the mystery should be a piece of cake. But as she sifts through mounting evidence, one thing becomes clear: everyone had a reason for wanting both men dead. And as the plot thickens, it appears that Erica may have bitten off more than she can chew . . .

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About the author:
I'll give a short biography first of all. I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah and grew up in Sandy, Utah. After attending Dixie College and Utah State University, I graduated from the University of Utah with a Bachelor's degree in English. I married Kelly R. Sullivan and have seven children. My hobbies are gardening, camping, and reading. Writing has always been a great love of mine. I started writing stories in elementary school and was blessed with a teacher in junior high school that encouraged me, so I kept on writing. My dream of writing was put aside for a time when I married and had children, which kept me very busy. I did manage to carve out a little time though, and wrote magazine and newspaper articles. I honed my craft over the years and have been published in quite a number of magazines and newspapers. I opened my own floral shop at my home--renovating my garage, in order to help support my family. After nine years, a health scare convinced me to sell my shop so I could pursue my dream of writing full time--thanks to a husband who was willing to support us all. I began by writing non-fiction books. I loved doing research and digging for interesting stories. I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and have concentrated on writing for members of that church. I write clean, inspirational books that testify that God loves us and is always there for us.

My first book was Latter-day Saint Heroes and Heroines, which was soon followed by Latter-day Saint Heroes and Heroines, Volume Two. Both books are compilations of true stories about people in early Church history who risked their life in defense of the gospel. These are stirring, true experiences that touched my heart. I love all of these stories--they are so inspiring and faith-promoting. All of these experiences have been carefully researched and are fully documented.

My next three books are about angels and are compilations of true stories in the lives of Latter-day Saints who had angelic experiences. The first book in this series is, And There Were Angels Among Them. As I started researching for this book, I found thousands of stories about angelic visitations and knew I had to narrow them down somehow. I decided to select only those experiences when a person actually saw or heard an angel. The second book in this series is called Visits From Beyond the Veil and the third is, By the Ministering of Angels. Researching and writing these books was a marvelous experience. It made me realize how much Heavenly Father truly loves us and that He is very aware of us and our lives. People often ask me where I found all these stories. I did most of my research at the LDS Church Archives and the Church History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. I also did a lot of research at the libraries at BYU and also at the library at Utah State University. In addition, I researched materials at the University of Utah and other public libraries. Most of the experiences in these books were gleaned from personal histories, letters, and various records and documents, along with newspapers and magazines such as the Elder's Journal, Times and Seasons, The Millennial Star, Young Woman's Journal, and many others.

My next book is Brigham's Boys. It tells the story of sixteen men who worked closely with Brigham Young and helped him bring the Saints across the plains and colonize the Great Basin area. The men who worked alongside Brigham were amazingly devout and hard working. They were always willing to serve, no matter how difficult the challenge.

I had always wanted to try writing fiction, but was scared for a long time--scared I wasn't good enough. I worked many years on my next book, a novel, Light on Fire Island, and was sooooo happy when it became a best-seller.

Light on Fire Island is set in 1921, on Fire Island, New York. I suppose it's the researcher in me that made me decide to have the settings for this and all subsequent novels totally accurate. To do research on the setting for this book, my husband and I traveled to Fire Island, which is just south of Long Island. I snapped lots of pictures, talked with people at the lighthouse, and took many notes. I also corresponded with the people who are in charge of the Fire Island Lighthouse and they graciously answered my many questions. All of the details about the setting are accurate, from the number of steps in the lighthouse, to street names, to the names of plants and trees. I work very hard on my writing, for many reasons. First of all, it is simply what I do. I can't imagine not writing. With my non-fiction, I want to inspire people and build their faith and testimonies. With my novels, I want people who ready my books to be entertained and not have to worry about questionable scenes, swearing or things like that. As an LDS author, I feel a great responsible to write clean, uplifting novels that carry good, underlying messages, which will enlighten and inspire and help people cope with real life.

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Thanks to Cedar Fort for the opportunity to preview this book.  You can learn more about Marlene Bateman here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Small Town Girl...Review

About the book:
In the autumn of 1941, rumors of war whisper through Rosey Corner. The town practically vibrates in anticipation, as if it is holding its breath. But for Kate Merritt, it seems life is letting out a prolonged sigh. As Kate watches her sister marry the man Kate has loved since she was fifteen, her heart is silently breaking. And even the attentions of Jay Tanner, the handsome best man, can’t draw her interest.

Then suddenly, Pearl Harbor changes everything. Kate’s friends are rushing to get married before the boys go off to war. The newspapers talk of women making airplanes and bombs. Everyone in town begins rolling bandages, planting victory gardens, collecting scrap metal. Kate finds herself drawn to Jay in surprising ways, and when he enlists she can hardly breathe worrying about him getting killed. Could she truly be in love with him? And if she is, will she ever see him again?

In her gentle and textured style, Ann Gabhart tells a timeless story of love, sacrifice, and longing that will grip the heart and stir the spirit. Fans of Angel Sister will be thrilled to see Kate Merritt all grown up. New readers will find that Ann Gabhart weaves in Small Town Girl a beautiful story that will touch their hearts and win their loyalty.

I loved Kate Merritt when I first got to know her character in Angel Sister.  She has grown up into a remarkable, spunky young woman.  With war looming on the horizon, Kate's older sister gets married and against her own wishes, she finds herself drawn to Jay Tanner, the best man. Jay has his own secrets, but after the wedding, stays in Rosey Corner to work because he is drawn to Kate and captivated by little Lorena who has adopted him into their family.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, life changes and Jay enlists in the Army.  After he and Kate part on difficult circumstances, she wonders if they have a future.

This was a fantastic sequel to Angel Sister.  I loved revisiting Rosey Corner and the Merritt family.  I loved seeing that Kate's dad had overcome the alcoholism and turned his life around.  What a great man.  Lorena was her charming self and now an integral member of the Merritt family.  I'm rarely disappointed in Ann Gabhart's books and this one was fantastic.  I'd love to see more of the Merritt family.

Thanks to Baker Publishing for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Ann H. Gabhart here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 7/13

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Thursday, July 4, 2013

City of Hope...Review and Giveaway

About the book:
An uplifting, inspiring and heartwarming story of a woman truly ahead of her time, City of Hope is the heart-rending but inspiring follow-up to Ellis Island.

It is the 1930s and when her beloved husband, John, suddenly dies, young Ellie Hogan decides to leave Ireland and return to New York. She hopes that the city's vibrancy will distract her from her grief. But the Depression has rendered the city unrecognizable-gone is the energy and atmosphere of fun that Ellie fell in love with ten years before.

Plunging headfirst into a new life, Ellie pours all her passion and energy into running a home and refuge for the homeless. In return they give her the kind of love, support and friendship she needs to try and overcome her grief. Until, one day, someone she thought she'd never see again steps through her door. It seems that even the Atlantic isn't big enough to prevent the tragedies of the past from catching up with her.

Having loved Ellis Island, I was not happy to see that this book opened with the death of Ellie's beloved husband John. Grieving and unable to face life without John, Ellie abruptly leaves Ireland and her successful, relatively wealthy life and returns to New York.  Instead of finding the beloved, vibrant New York that she remembered, she discovers a city suffering from the Depression.

Ellie's giving nature surfaces though and she soon finds that helping others is the best antidote for grief.  Her business sense returns and she opens a home for the homeless and the down and out.  Building a new life and family around her, Ellie is able to ignore her grief over losing John.  She finds success and satisfaction and friendship.

When she finally comes to terms with her grief, she is able to return to Ireland and finds that the new life she has in America isn't as completely satisfying as she had imagined.

Not an inherently happy story, City of Hope is still heartwarming.  I didn't love Ellie quite as much here as I did in Ellis Island, and I found her selfish even with her generosity in helping others. I did appreciate that her character had changed as she had suffered loss. And while I didn't love the ending, I do realize this is second in a trilogy and I hope for a more satisfying conclusion in the third book.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Kate Kerrigan here.  You can purchase your own copy here.  You can see other reviews and tour stops here.

Tuesday, June 25th: bookchickdi
Wednesday, June 26th: Books in the City
Wednesday, June 26th: Peeking Between the Pages
Monday, July 1st: A Book Geek
Monday, July 1st: Diary of an Eccentric
Wednesday, July 3rd: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Thursday, July 4th: 2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews
Monday, July 8th: Dwell in Possibility
Tuesday, July 16th: Peppermint PhD
Monday, July 22nd: Becca’s Byline
Tuesday, July 23rd: The House of the Seven Tails
Tuesday, July 24th: Tina’s Book Reviews
Thursday, July 25th: The Maiden’s Court

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Because I think many of you will enjoy City of Hope, I'm offering a giveaway, which I haven't done in a while.

It really bugs me when you have to jump through tons of hoops in order to enter giveaways, so a comment with your email address will suffice.

However: If you change your profile to have your email address visible, if it isn't already, you will gain an additional entry. I ask this because it's so annoying to have someone leave a comment you would like to respond to, but can't, because their email is hidden. This is especially annoying if a question is asked in said comment.

If you choose to become a follower or tell me you already are, you can gain an additional entry too.

If you wanted to blog or tweet about it, that's great too, and you'd get an extra entry for that. Just tell me in your comment if you've done any of the extras.

You don't need to leave separate comments for each thing (too annoying!).

Seriously though, just commenting is enough for me.

U.S. or Canada addresses only and no P.O. Boxes. Sorry!

This giveaway is now closed.
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Read 7/13

* * *
3/5 Stars