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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Paper Bag Christmas...Review

About the book:
Dr. Christopher Ringle is the last person you'd expect to find moonlighting as Santa Claus at the mall on the day after Thanksgiving. But it is there that he meets a young man named Molar Alan, who desperately needs a new perspective on the underlying value of Christmas. Dr. Ringle recruits Mo and his older brother as volunteers at a nearby children's hospital for the holiday season. At the hospital, Mo is tasked to help bring holiday cheer to the young cancer patients on the fifth floor. His biggest challenge is befriending a decidedly angry girl who is so embarrassed by her scarred appearance that she hides her face behind the safety of a paper bag. Almost in spite of himself, Mo finds that Christmas joy emanates from a source far greater than the North Pole, while the young girl learns that she is more beautiful than she had ever imagined.

An inspiring, charming little story about finding "everything you never wanted for Christmas."

Mo and his brother Aaron meet Santa at the mall. Santa is a pediatric oncologist and instead of simply giving them a present, he enlists their help as Santa's elves in the children's ward at the hospital. Each boy is tasked with getting to know a specific patient.

Aaron befriends Madhu, a charming boy who, although not Christian, has a fascination with Christmas and wants to learn all he can. Mo befriends Katrina, a young girl who has been through surgeries which have left her scarred and vulnerable. She wears a paper bag on her head and hides away from everyone.

The boys learn the true meaning of friendship and what kinds of gifts we should give at Christmas.

A magical novella. Easily read in one sitting, a funny, heartwarming story and one that will stay with you. I loved it. This would make a great Christmas film.

Thanks to Hatchette Books for the opportunity to read this. You can find out more about Kevin Milne here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 10/08

* * * * *
5/5 Stars

Going Down South...Review...DNF

About the book:
When fifteen-year-old Olivia Jean finds herself in the “family way,” her mother, Daisy, who has never been very maternal, springs into action. Daisy decides that Olivia Jean can’t stay in New York and whisks her away to her grandmother’s farm in Alabama to have the baby–even though Daisy and her mother, Birdie, have been estranged for years. When they arrive, Birdie lays down the law: Sure, her granddaughter can stay, but Daisy will have to stay as well. Though Daisy is furious, she has no choice.

Now, under one little roof in the 1960s Deep South, three generations of spirited, proud women are forced to live together. One by one, they begin to lose their inhibitions and share their secrets. And as long-guarded truths emerge, a baby is born–a child with the power to turn these virtual strangers into a real, honest-to-goodness family.

Most reviews I've seen call it "wonderful" and a great book for and about mothers and daughters.

It's meant to be a thought-provoking, coming of age, multi-generational book. A young girl becomes pregnant and her mother takes her down south to her grandmother's home. Mom and grandma are somewhat estranged, mom and daughter are somewhat estranged. Most of the men are losers. Secrets are shared and ideally everyone comes together at the end.

I couldn't even finish it. I didn't care about the characters. I couldn't relate to any of them and they inspired no compassion in me whatsoever. The book jumped around a lot, it wasn't a smooth read. It was too raw, with profanity and s*x scenes: and a vulgar edge that was uncomfortable. I'm sure it was "realistic" for many, but I didn't like it.

You can check out other, more positive reviews at Peeking Between the PagesDiary of an Eccentric, Red Lady's Reading Room, Booking Mama, and Bookworm's Dinner.

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

Read 10/08

1/5 Stars

What's On Your Nightstand?

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

Share a list of books you hope to read this month, with or without a picture of the stack.
Go into a bit of detail about what you're reading and why. How did a particular book come to be on your nightstand? Why are you reading this book this month?

Give a few quick reviews of books that you read over the past month.

This is the current nightstand. Some books just stay in the stack until the mood for reading them strikes. Harry Potter is one I like to re-read so I always have a Harry book around. Funnily enough, none of these are library books. I just realized that. They're either ARCs or books I've won in giveaways. Cool.

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

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Dark Pursuit...Review

About the book:
“Ever hear the dead knocking?”

Novelist Darell Brooke lived for his title as King of Suspense—until an auto accident left him unable to concentrate. Two years later, reclusive and bitter, he wants one thing: to plot a new novel and regain his reputation.

Kaitlan Sering, his twenty-two-year-old granddaughter, once lived for drugs. After she stole from Darell, he cut her off. Now she’s rebuilding her life. But in Kaitlan’s town two women have been murdered, and she is about to discover a third. She’s even more shocked to realize the culprit is her boyfriend, Craig, the police chief’s son.

Desperate, Kaitlan flees to her estranged grandfather. For over forty years, Darell Brooke has lived suspense. Surely he’ll devise a plan to trap the cunning Craig.

But can Darell’s muddled mind do it? And—if he tries—with what motivation? For Kaitlan’s plight may be the stunning answer to the elusive plot he seeks . . .

Christian suspense which is a genre I haven't read before. An engrossing book. Kaitlan is a recovering drug addict and estranged from her author grandfather. After finding a dead woman in her home and suspecting her police officer boyfriend of the murder, Kaitlan enlists her grandfather's help in figuring out what to do. Her grandfather, a famous murder mystery author who is in ailing health, finds a new lease on life as he reconciles with his granddaughter and finds new inspiration for his writing.

I was not familiar with Brandilyn Collins' work before I received this book in the mail. It was suspenseful without being gory and gross like so many murder mysteries. There are some twists and turns that make it engrossing, yet it's a fairly light, easy read. I read it in an afternoon. I enjoyed how her chapters alternated between the manuscript(s) and the story.

My one complaint, which seems petty I know, is that the author chose non-traditional spellings for Kaitlan and her grandfather Darell. It was distracting because I kept thinking of them as spelled wrong!

A good, easy read. The book will be released on November 7th. Thanks to the author for sending me a copy to review. You can find out more about Brandilyn Collins here. I need to check out her other books now.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 10/08

* * *
4/5 Stars

When the Heart Cries...Review

About the book:
When Hannah dares to love across the boundaries of tradition, will she lose everything?

Despite being raised in a traditional Old Order Amish family, seventeen-year-old Hannah Lapp desires to break with custom, forgo baptism into the faith, and marry outside the cloistered community. She's been in love with Mennonite Paul Waddell for three years, and before returning to college for his senior year, Paul asks Hannah to be his wife. Hannah accepts, aware that her marriage will change her relationship with her family forever.

On the evening of their engagement, tragedy strikes and in one unwelcome encounter, all that Hannah has known and believed is destroyed. As she finds herself entangled in questions that the Old Ways of her people cannot answer, Hannah faces the possibility of losing her place in her family, in her community; and in the heart of the man she loves.

The first in a trilogy, it's the story of a young Amish woman. Born into a strict Old Amish family, Hannah falls in love with a young Mennonite. Her family will not approve of Paul, but she becomes engaged anyway. When Hannah is assaulted by a stranger while on her way home one day, her life changes forever. Hers becomes a story of secrets and fear that once Paul learns what happened, he will no longer love her.

I found myself very angry with Hannah's parents. When she comes home after her assault, she expects some care and concern. Her parents show minimal concern and her mother acts as if the attack happened to her, personally. Her father feels that a bath and time will help Hannah heal and is more concerned with whether he should tell their bishop what happened.

Her sister is jealous of her and spreads some rumors about her that ultimately tear their family apart. While the Amish life fascinates me, I do not understand the strictness of their religious beliefs. While there is talk of God and how He never leaves you, there is never talk of Christ and forgiveness. It's all about the punishment and shunning of someone who has transgressed. While some of Hannah's friends and family show her love and support, others are severe in their judgments of her, even when their judgments are founded in untruth.

I am anxious to read the rest of the series. I like Hannah and her strength even in times of fear and sorrow. For a debut novel, I thought this one was terrific.

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

Read 10/08

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Booking Through Thursday...Coupling

Today's Booking Through Thursday asks:

“Name a favorite literary couple and tell me why they are a favorite. If you cannot choose just one, that is okay too. Name as many as you like–sometimes narrowing down a list can be extremely difficult and painful. Or maybe that’s just me.”

What a cool question. 1 More Chapter had pictures with her list, which I thought was awesome, so I'm doing that too!

Well, you must have Anne Elliott and Captain Wentworth on your list. He's so faithful. He loves her for so long, even after she refuses him. She's so strong. She puts up with her wacky family and yet, her heart is always his. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope...I have loved none but you." (Your picture must be of Ciaran Hinds and Amanda Root. Rupert Penury-whatshisname was ok as Frederick, but Sally Hawkins was pathetic. That version was just sad...)

Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe. From childhood rivals to sweethearts. "I don't want diamond sunbursts or marble halls...I just want you."

Elizabeth and Darcy. Need I say more? "It taught me to hope,'' said he, "as I had scarcely ever allowed myself to hope before. I knew enough of your disposition to be certain that, had you been absolutely, irrevocably decided against me, you would have acknowledged it to Lady Catherine, frankly and openly.'' (Your picture must be of Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. Because while Matthew Macfadyen was an acceptable Darcy, Keira Knightley's Elizabeth was an absolute travesty.)

Harry and Ginny. Seeing them finally get together in the Half-Blood Prince and then break up was sad. Knowing that they still loved each other throughout the Deathly Hallows. How can you not be happy to see Ginny marry Harry? It was so totally perfect. "And without thinking, without planning it, without worrying about the fact that fifty people were watching, Harry kissed her."

Ron and Hermione are great too. don't get me wrong. Comic relief all the way... "And what did you tell her Ron's got?" "A Pygmy Puff, but I didn't say where." ... "There was a clatter as the basilisk fangs cascaded out of Hermione's arms. Running at Ron, she flung them around his neck and kissed him full on the mouth."

Riker and Troi (Bluestocking had this one and I completely agree!!) While not completely literary, I totally loved them and it was so awesome to finally see them get together. "Do you remember what I taught you, Imzadi? Can you still sense my thoughts?"

Scarlett and Rhett... How can you not like Scarlett and Rhett? Ashley was such a putz and she wasted so much time over him. "But, Scarlett, you need kissing badly. That's what's wrong with you...You should be kissed and by someone who knows how."

The Doctor and Rose... It ended up being on a parallel universe with the second tenth doctor because of a human biological metacrisis but still, “How long are you going to stay with me?” “Forever."

Jo March and Frederich Bhaer. Everyone roots for Jo to marry Laurie. But, she and Frederich are true soulmates. You see this so much clearer in the sequels. "Jo, I haf nothing but much love to gif you. I came to see if you could care for it, and I waited to be sure that I was something more than a friend. Am I? Can you make a little place in your heart for old Fritz?" he added, all in one breath.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Quilter's Kitchen...Review

About the book:
Anna Del Maso had known that she wanted to be a chef since she was in the seventh grade. "Somehow everything in my life ends up being about food," she realizes, as she begins the latest of her food-themed quilts. Her twin passions have converged in a brand-new position as head chef for Elm Creek Quilts, Waterford, Pennsylvania's popular quilting retreat.

As she joins the circle of quilters at historic Elm Creek Manor, Anna is eager to preserve the manor's culinary heritage, dating to 1858, while also celebrating the new favorites of their many guests. Yet as Master Quilter Sylvia Bergstrom Compson well knows, the manor's kitchen, last updated in the 1940s, can't create food that compares to the state-of-the-art quilting instruction for which Elm Creek Quilts is renowned.

A full renovation of the kitchen must be completed by the start of the new camp season. Though the task is daunting, Anna is assured in her belief that "A kitchen is the heart of a home." As she and Sylvia begin to dismantle the old to make way for the new, Sylvia's reminiscences remind them both of just how many of the manor's traditions have involved food and celebrations. Whether the feast is one of the holiday menus prepared and enjoyed by generations of Bergstroms, or one of the Welcome Banquets and Farewell Breakfasts that have become hallmarks of Elm Creek Quilt Camp, there is a story for every recipe, and a recipe for every story.

The Quilter's Kitchen follows Anna's flavorful explorations of the kitchens of Elm Creek Manor, past and present. As she records beloved recipes and creates original dishes seasoned with love, she discovers anew how the gifts of the table gather friends and family ever closer.

In the tradition of every character needing their own book, comes The Quilter's Kitchen. Anna was introduced to Elm Creek in Circle of Quilters. In that book, she interviewed to become one of the new Elm Creek Quilters but was, instead, hired as the head chef for Elm Creek Manor. This book covers one day as Anna and Sylvia clean out the Elm Creek Manor kitchen in preparation for a major remodeling.

Anna is trying to find her place among the quilters and, predictably, the story is full of Sylvia's reminiscences and she shares her memories with Anna as they come across old family heirlooms. Elm Creek stories are always about traditions and here we learn more about the Bergstrom family feasts and celebrations. Elm Creek stories are also about Sylvia helping the younger members learn about life and their place in it, and this book is no different. Lessons are learned, the kitchen is cleaned and a new quilt is planned.

The book is as much a cookbook as it is a novella. As a recipe is mentioned as part of a memory, the real recipe is shared at the end of a chapter.

While I like the story's premise that "a kitchen is the heart of the home" and "gifts of the table gather family and friends close", I think that you can have too much of a good thing. I don't think that every character needs their own story. Having said that, I did enjoy the book.

A short, easy read.

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

Read 10/08

* * * *
3/5 Stars

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society...Review

About the book:
“ I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises, and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

I have seen very few negative reviews of this book and for good reason. It was completely captivating.

Juliet is an author who begins corresponding with a group of people who live on Guernsey, one of the Channel islands between England and France. During WWII this island was occupied by the Germans, and some of the citizens formed their own literary society which enabled them to socialize during this occupation. Told through a series of letters between Juliet, the literary society, Juliet's editor and her best friend, we come to know a delightful and somewhat quirky group of people.

World War II affected those in Britain and Europe so differently than those in America. I am fascinated with stories that describe the living conditions and how people managed to survive under such difficult circumstances.

This is a charming, witty book that conveys not only the heartbreak of war, but the heartwarming depths of true friendship. When Juliet finally travels to Guernsey, her life is forever changed.

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

Read 10/08

* * * *
4/5 Stars

One Perfect Day...Review

About the book:
This is the story of two mothers, strangers to one another.

The first has two children--twins, a boy and girl, who are seniors in high school. She wants their last Christmas as a family living in the same home to be perfect, but her husband is delayed returning from a business trip abroad. And then there's an accident--a fatal one involving a drunk driver.

Meanwhile, the other mother has a daughter who needs a new heart, and so the loss of one woman becomes the miracle the other has desperately prayed for. While one mother grieves, and pulls away from her family, the other finds that even miracles aren't always easy to receive.

Nora wants the perfect Christmas with her family. Jenna wants a miracle for her daughter. One snowy day, right before Christmas a tragic accident changes both of their lives forever. The story alternates chapters between Nora and Jenna. Nora struggles with grief and depression after the loss of her child. Jenna struggles with accepting the miracle of a new heart for her daughter, knowing that somewhere, another mother is grieving.

Beautifully written. Lauraine Snelling is a captivating storyteller. She captured the emotions of each mother so well and so believably. I haven't lost a child, but I've lost a parent and I know all too well how encompassing that grief feels. I haven't had a child who needed a heart transplant, but I have a child who was born with a heart condition that required open-heart surgery. I remember being in the NICU and seeing so many babies who wouldn't go home, and feeling guilty because mine would. I can only imagine how one would feel knowing that because one person died, your child lived. The mix of gratitude and grief could be overwhelming.

I'd never read Lauraine Snelling before, but you can bet that I will in the future. A lovely, touching story.

Thanks to FaithWords for the opportunity to read this book. You can find out more about Lauraine Snelling here. You can read the first chapter here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 10/08

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sunday Salon

It was an interesting book week here at 2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews. My husband reviewed another book for me, Operation Blue Light.

I read and loved Finding Father Christmas and Engaging Father Christmas. Hatchette Books is offering a set for me to giveaway. So don't forget to enter!

I read and liked, The Secret Journal of Brett Colton. Sister's Ink was cute and Midwife of the Blue Ridge was fascinating.

I also reviewed Chasing Diana and didn't like it, so my review wasn't positive. Subsequently, the author didn't like my review either. I can't blame her. It can't be easy to pour your heart and soul into a book and then see negative reviews written about it. However, I think that it's unrealistic for an author to expect every reader to love and adore their book like they do.

So how about you? Have you ever had an author comment on one of your reviews? Do you think honesty is important in reviewing books or should negative reviews be softened? Share your insights with me. Please!

Have a great reading week. For more Sunday Salon posts, click here.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Operation Blue Light...Review by the Doctor

About the book:
Operation Blue Light is a tale of the Pentagon's attempts to develop the perfect tool for espionage: psychic spies. These psychic spies, or "spoken telepaths," were able to infiltrate any target, elude any form of security, and never risk scratch. For forty years, the government selected civilian and military personnel for psychic ability, trained them, and put them to work, full-time, at taxpayers' expense, against real intelligence targets. Before now the only information the public has gotten was about the work of remote viewers in the 1980s and 1990s.

The beginning of the use of use of psychics has not been told. Philip Chabot's abilities were monitored then tested by US Government agencies including the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Council, the FBI, the National Security Agency, and maybe others. Most of this material is still officially classified or conveniently missing. Philip Chabot's story may explain why masses of CIA documents about the MKULTRA Mind Control project, including the material on Extra Sensory Perception, were destroyed in 1972 when Sid Gottleib and Richard Helms retired from the CIA.

After a phone call in the late afternoon of July 7, 1966, government agents were waiting for Chabot outside his motel room in Lebanon Missouri. As he waits in jail for further questioning and testing, he remembers his last 6 years. These times of his growing psychic ability were also times of distractions. Just as he was leaving high school and starting his life, it was also when he was drawn into the early government experiments using telepathy.

For the first time we get a chance to see what they were doing in the 1960s. Operation Blue Light gives us a look at abilities, techniques and practices never before revealed.

When I was offered the chance to review this book, I took it because it sounded like something that would interest my husband. He read it and what follows is his review.
Holly asked me to review this book because I have more of an open mind on the paranormal than she does. The subtitle of this book reads “My secret life among psychic spies” so I started reading, hoping to read about secret government facilities and about intelligence gleaned through psychic phenomena that bore out in the real world. Even a glimpse of testing performed in dark rooms, with lamps and polygraphs would have peaked my interest.

Unfortunately, there was none of this. I think this book can be best explained by paraphrasing a line from the book, “When I went off the Thorazine my psychic abilities came back”.

I hate to write a negative review, because I honestly think that the author genuinely feels like this happened, and that he was able to make psychic phone calls to other countries. As a book, this is not an easy read. Way too much time is spent on back-story of his life that has nothing to do with his claimed ‘abilities’. I kept reading, hoping that his story would grow into something concrete, but it just gets more confusing and dis-jointed as the story goes on. In the end pages there is an apparent brief interview of the author by people who he claims are from the FBI and the CIA--but that is as far as government involvement in this story goes. As to whether that gives any credence to the author’s story I can’t say--I wasn’t there, so I can’t say if it in fact happened.

I don’t want to seem harsh, but to me this book feels like the writings of someone who desperately wants validation for what he feels happened, and for the abilities he claims to have. There is very little material in this book that gives any credence to his claim.

I can’t honestly recommend this book, but I wish the author well. I hope he has found in his older years the peace that seems to be lacking in his earlier ones.

Thanks to Cherubim Publishing for the opportunity to review this book. You can find out more about the author here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 10/08

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Engaging Father Christmas...Review

About the book:
Miranda Carson can't wait to return to England for Christmas and to be with her boyfriend, Ian. She has spent a lifetime yearning for a place to call home, and she's sure Carlton Heath will be it, especially when a hinted-at engagement ring slips into the conversation.

But Miranda's high hopes for a jolly Christmas with the small circle of people she has come to love are toppled when Ian's father is hospitalized and the matriarch of the Whitcombe family withholds her blessing from Miranda. Questions run rampant in Miranda's mind about whether she really belongs in this cheery corner of the world. Then, when her true identity threatens all her relationships in unanticipated ways, Miranda is certain all is lost.

And yet . . . maybe Father Christmas has special gifts in store for her after all.

A charming sequel to Finding Father Christmas.

Miranda Carson returns to England and her newly found family and boyfriend. However, the happy Christmas reunion she expected does not unfold as she anticipated. Illness and family secrets threaten Miranda's new life. As she hopes for her dreams to come true, Miranda and others learn about love and acceptance and what it means to be a family. The Whitcombe and MacGregor families are just as charming here. We also get better acquainted, especially with Ian, Julia and Mark.

Like the first book, this one is light and somewhat predictable. It's also delightful. Perfect for curling up by a fire with a cup of cocoa. Sweetly charming.

Thanks to Hatchette Book Group for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Robin Jones Gunn here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 10/08

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Finding Father Christmas...Review

About the book:
In Finding Father Christmas, Miranda Carson's search for her father takes a turn she never expected when she finds herself in London with only a few feeble clues to who he might be. Unexpectedly welcomed into a family that doesn't recognize her, and whom she's quickly coming to love, she faces a terrible decision. Should she reveal her true identity and destroy their idyllic image of her father? Or should she carry the truth home with her to San Francisco and remain alone in this world? Whatever choice she makes during this London Christmas will forever change the future for both herself and the family she can't bear to leave. Robin Jones Gunn brilliantly combines lyrical writing and unforgettable characters to craft a story of longing and belonging that will stay with readers long after they close the pages of this book.

I loved this little gem. Miranda Carson grew up with her nomadic actress mother and only one clue to her father's identity: a photograph with the name and location of the photography studio on the back of it.

As an adult, she takes a spontaneous trip to England to try and locate any information she can about her father. She ends up in a picturesque English village, complete with Charles Dickens and Father Christmas, on Christmas Eve. The photography studio is long gone, but in it's stead she finds herself welcomed into the home and lives of some delightful people. As Miranda opens her heart to the love shown her, she finds the answers she was seeking and these change her life forever.

Predictable and light, it's nevertheless a charming little book. Perfect for a cozy afternoon in front of the fire.

Thanks to Hatchette Book Group for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Robin Jones Gunn here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 10/08

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Chasing Diana...Review

About the book:
Cleverly written as a "screenplay novel," Chasing Diana is historical fiction at its finest. Initially inspired by the events they witnessed in Paris during the early morning hours of August 31, 1997, Robin and Jack Firestone's compelling narrative does much more than shed new light on that late summer evening when one of history's brightest flames was extinguished forever.

Using a unique mixture of truth and fantasy,
Chasing Diana is a parable for our times. Vicariously told through the eyes of lead characters Rhonda and James Goodrich, Chasing Diana is the remarkable story of how a princess' death rips a closely knit family apart... and the healing process which ultimately unites them.

A real page-turner from start to finish, replete with mystery, adventure, intrigue, irony and the idiosyncrasies of the human condition... that's the unforgettable reading experience of
Chasing Diana.

I'm sorry to say that I didn't like it. The book was written by Jack and Robin Firestone, the only Americans to have witnessed the crash that killed Princess Diana.

The press release for the book described it thus: "In Chasing Diana, the Firestones convey their 11 year personal journey, utilizing a guise of historical fiction, to express the overwhelming effects resulting from being placed at a crossroads in history. An average American family, the Firestones were vacationing in Paris back in 1997 when fate intervened, turning their lives upside down. Upon their return home from Europe, they were inundated by the press and their lives were forever changed."

My problem is that this isn't that story. This is a fictionalized screenplay, it's not even a full fleshed story. It only covers a year of this so-called "journey". They have re-created themselves as actors who do not inspire any sympathy whatsoever. I did not care about Rhonda and James. In fact, neither character was even remotely likeable. It's full of profanity.

Other than wanting this made into a film, I can't see any reason to have written this book in this manner. The Firestones actually say in the beginning of the book, "Why a screenplay? Well, the events that took place during our brief stay in Paris unfolded like a movie. So in our view, a screenplay was the perfect way to tell this story."

My response to that is this: if the story is so important and is meant to be told, then do that: tell the story. Actually write a book that describes your experience, your frustrations and your thoughts. Don't trivialize it by writing it as a screenplay. Flesh it out and give us some depth. Give us a reason to care about you and your experience.

I would have enjoyed this much more if it was actually a memoir. I appreciate the opportunity to have reviewed it and even the fact that the author autographed it for me. I only wish I'd liked it.

Thanks to the authors and Bostick Communications for the opportunity to review this book. You can find out more about the Firestones and their experience here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 10/08

1/5 Stars

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sisters, Ink...Review

About the book:
Sisters, Ink begins a novel series aimed at the scrapbooking audience, centering on four unlikely sisters whose creative outlet doubles as therapy, family time, and much more.

Another cute story from Rebeca Seitz. I'd give it 2.5 stars. It's an easy read, and a "sequel" to Prints Charming, which plays off the "sisters" idea. A story about a multi-cultural family: each of the 4 sisters is adopted. Their mother has died, but all the girls love scrapbooking, just as she did. This book centers on Tandy, the red-head. She has a high-powered law career in Florida, but after a forced visit back to her small hometown, she is torn with what direction her life should take. Her sisters each have their own life, but they are close and they all support one another. Predictably, she meets up with the boy next door. You, know, the one who broke her heart in high school, but the one she still loves.

The story is light, full of pop culture references, with plenty of Christian-faith lesson to be learned. I hope the author is getting a kick-back for all her advertising of scrapping products and mention of scrapping celebrities. While I liked it, I wouldn't call it stellar, but it is entertaining. It's a light, easy, chick-lit read, with a predictable, happy ending. And from what I can tell, each sister is most likely going to have her own follow-up story. I may read these follow-ups, I may not.

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

Read 10/08

* * *
3/5 Stars