Everyday Tidbits...

Be Kind. Do Good. Love is a Verb.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Amish Peace...Review

About the book:
Of all the gifts that Jesus left us, his peace is most elusive. We long for it in our homes, in our relationships, in our life situations. One place we can look and see "living peace" is in the lives of the Amish. But you don't have to become Amish to bring these simple, practical ways of living into your own life--and make personal peace a reality. Organized around five central themes in Amish life, each section will include real-life stories, callouts of Amish proverbs, and interesting facts about Amish communities. Each section will also contain questions for reflection and action--things you can do in your own life that "make for peace."

I read this book with a high-lighter handy. I loved it. Suzanne Woods Fisher will take you into the homes and lives of the Amish people, and you will learn practical, simple ways of changing your attitudes and your perceptions.

The book follows five themes: Simplicity, Time, Community, Forgiveness, The Sovereignty of God. Each section shares real-life experiences and comments from Amish people. They explain their faith and their belief in family and community. They've chosen to keep themselves out of the world and to not be controlled by technology, and I personally can understand why. I think that simply limiting our own access to outside influences of media and television would have a profound effect on our families and our lives.

These are a people who value friendship and family, who make time for visiting and serving, and who treasure their Sabbath day. We, as a society, tend to forget the journey or the process of doing something, and only focus on the finished product or event. Slowing down and taking time to observe and listen, often is just what we need to remember God's place in our lives.

A complete gem of a book. It fit in my purse and was easy to read. I could read a couple of chapters in the few minutes I spent waiting in the car as I picked up my son after school. This is one I will re-read.

Available October 2009 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Thanks to Donna Hausler from the Baker Publishing Group for the opportunity to review this book. You can find out more about Suzanne Woods Fisher here. You can purchase the book here.

Read 9/09

* * * * *
5/5 Stars

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Honor in the Dust...Review

About the book:
In the moral confusion of the court of King Henry VIII, young Stuart Winslow has many choices to make -- and lives depend on what he will choose.

Born in poverty when his father was forced to choose between the woman he loved and the wealth of his aristocratic family, the determined Stuart Winslow will go to any lengths to improve his social position. When his skills in weapons design and falconry secure a place for him in the court of King Henry VIII, he quickly learns that the court is really a wicked cauldron of vices, power plays, and temptations -- some of them very much to his liking.

When William Tyndale, an acquaintance of Stuart's, makes it known that his ambition is to translate the Bible into the language of the common man, the king opposes Tyndale's efforts and sentences him to death. If Stuart opposes the king in this, he will share the same fate. Is he willing to risk death at the stake for the sake of Christ? And how will he choose between the innocent Heather, who has long loved him, and the courtwise Nell?

In Honor in the Dust, bestselling author Gilbert Morris beautifully captures the tone of the Tudor period, chronicling the period's excesses with skill and prudence. But like Morris's other novels, this book also contrasts those excesses with the godly behavior of characters such as William Tyndale. In this captivating historical drama, Stuart Winslow is caught between two worlds: one that promises material and worldly success and one that promises salvation. Is his faith strong enough to withstand such a challenge?

Set in the late 15th and early 16th centuries during the time of Henry VIII. Stuart Winslow was born into poverty when his aristocratic father ran away with his mother, the woman his uncle wanted to marry. Raised in a faith-filled home, Stuart learns about God at his father's knee, as well as falconry and weapons design. When his skills attract the attention of the king, Stuart is delighted to find himself a part of the royal court. He soon learns, however, that the court is a place of wickedness and immorality and finds it difficult to maintain his faith in God.

His presence at court, however, allows him to become friends with Queen Catherine, and that friendship will ultimately save his life. As he comes to realize that God has other plans for him and Stuart soon finds himself helping William Tyndale, the man responsible for first translating the bible into English. Tyndale's work has marked him as a traitor to the crown and sentenced to death.

Fascinating. Enthralling. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I couldn't put it down. The characters were terrific and likeable. I thought Gilbert Morris did a fabulous job of contrasting the excessiveness of the royal court against the humble circumstances of those who loved God.

I'm not very familiar with the Tudor period, nor am I very familiar with the life of William Tyndale. However, I found the historical aspects of the story fascinating. This is the first in a trilogy and I am anxiously awaiting the next book in the series.

Thanks to First Wildcard and Jennifer Willingham of Simon and Schuster for the opportunity to review this book. You can find out more about Gilbert Morris here. You can read the first chapter here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 9/09

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Monday, September 28, 2009

Mailbox Monday 9/28

It's time for another Mailbox Monday, hosted by Marcia at the Printed Page.

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week (checked out library books don’t count, eBooks & audio books do). Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

This is what arrived in my mailbox over the last two weeks!

Night of Flames, by Douglas W. Jacobson
The Swiss Courier, by Tricia Goyer and Mike Yorkey
Make-Ahead Meals for Busy Moms, by Jane Doiron

Casting Off, by Nicole R. Dickson
The Jewel of his Heart, by Maggie Brendan
What new books did you receive last week?
For more Mailbox Monday posts, check out The Printed Page.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Taste of Fame...Review

About the book:
The women of the Potluck Catering Club have a growing business. They even became the subject of a budding filmmaker's class project. Problem is, they didn't read the fine print when they signed off on his documentary. When he enters the club in the reality show "Great Party Showdown," the ladies of Summit View, Colorado, head to the Big Apple for the unexpected adventure of their lives. Between navigating New York City, dealing with other cutthroat contestants, and trying to maintain their close friendship in the high-stress world of reality TV, the Potluck women must keep their eyes on the prize--a cool million dollars--and work together if they're going to make it back to Colorado in one piece. A Taste of Fame serves up the perfect blend of humor, misadventure, and mouth-watering recipes. Fans new and old will love this exciting trip into the wild world of competitive cooking!

I thought this was a fun book. It was easy to read and laugh-out loud funny in places. Each chapter is told, first-person, by one of the club members. I'm not a regular television watcher and I don't watch reality-television at all, so I have no comparison to the descriptions and experiences of the club members. However, a reality show about cooking groups competing against each other was an interesting premise. The story is Christian, but not preachy. The women all pray together before events, etc., and there is a real desire to do what is right and honest, even as other contestants resort to underhanded tactics in an effort to win the contest.

I was not familiar with the Potluck Club books before reading this one. The character's voices were terrific; some are certainly more likeable than others and I'm sure that if one was familiar with all of them and their history, they would feel like old friends. However, I didn't find any real disadvantage to not having read the previous books. I will certainly check them out in the future though.

I loved having the recipes at the end. One of my biggest pet peeves is when a recipe is mentioned in a book and then not included. This book includes 36 recipes, all of which are a part of the story. I'm going to try the Peppermint Patty Brownies, first!

A fun, light novel about friendship. Easily recommended.

Thanks to Donna Hausler from the Baker Publishing Group for the opportunity to review this book. You can find out more about Linda Evans Shepherd here, and Eva Marie Everson here. You can learn more about the Potluck Club books here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 9/09

* * * *
4/5 Stars

The Potluck Club Cookbook...Review

About the book: From the popular authors of the Potluck Club books comes a cookbook loyal fans (and anyone who likes to eat) won't want to miss. The potluck meal makes sharing good, home-cooked food with family and friends simple and easy. Start with a few (or a lot of) guests, bring delicious dishes to share, and mix with love. A proven recipe for success. Linda Evans Shepherd and Eva Marie Everson, veterans of countless potluck dinners, have gathered their favorite recipes. From salads to casseroles to slow-cooker delights, there's something for everyone, even those watching their waistlines. Eating in is the new eating out. These great potluck ideas not only save money, but also build memories to last a lifetime.

A versatile cook book that will appeal to many people. All the recipes are easy and made from simple ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry. The authors share their own dishes with little anecdotes about each recipe, as well as anecdotes about the Potluck Club book characters.

If I have any complaints it's that there are some inconsistencies: some recipes state how many servings, but others don't.

One recipe from the book:

Linda’s Chicken Tortilla Casserole

2 ½ T. chopped onions

¼ cup butter
3 T. flour
1 ½ cups milk
¾ cup chicken broth
1 t. salt
3 T. jalapeno peppers
1 ½ cups chopped canned tomatoes (stewed)
3 cups cubed chicken, cooked
½ cup shredded cheese
12 tortillas, cut into 1-inch strips

Sauté onions in butter, then add flour and cook until mixture is bubbly. Stir in milk and broth gradually. Stir in salt, peppers, and tomatoes.

In casserole dish, layer chicken, cheese, then strips of tortillas. Pour sauce over layers then sprinkle casserole with cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Serve hot. Serves 6-8.

Linda: “You can’t go wrong with this tasty dish. It’s a potluck crowd favorite.” (Page 130)

Available September 2009 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Thanks to Donna Hausler from the Baker Publishing Group for the opportunity to review this book. You can find out more about Linda Evans Shepherd here, and Eva Marie Everson here. You can learn more about the Potluck Club books here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 9/09

* * *
3/5 Stars

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Promised World...Review

About the book:
On a March afternoon, while Lila Cole is working in her quiet office, her twin brother Billy points an unloaded rifle out of a hotel window, closing down a city block. "Suicide by police" was obviously Billy's intended result, but the aftermath of his death brings shock after shock for Lila when she discovers that her brilliant but troubled twin--the person she revered and was closer to than anyone in the world--was not only estranged from his wife, but also charged with endangering the life of his middle child and namesake, eight-year-old William.

As Lila struggles to figure out what was truth and what was fiction in her brother's complicated past, her job, her marriage, and even her sanity will be put at risk. And when the hidden meaning behind Billy's stories comes to light, she will have to act before Billy's children are destroyed by the same heartbreaking reality that shattered her protector and twin more than twenty years ago.

A love song to the redemptive power of books and stories, The Promised World is a mesmerizing tale of intimacy, betrayal, and lost innocence that will haunt readers long after they have turned the final page.This is one of those books where the review doesn't come easily. It is a book that seems to resonates with many people. The novel is inherently sad and explores the effects of abuse and memory manipulation, especially when a person has good intentions and the desire to protect someone they love.

The chapters alternate the individual perspectives which show how one experience can affect each person differently. There are many different characters, but the author manages to keep the perspectives clear and separate.

Like others who've read this novel, I found the first half to be slow. I came close to putting it down several times and not picking it up again. But, there was a compelling element that made me want to continue reading and find out the truth of Lila and Billy's story. The story picks up towards the end as truth is realized.

I honestly can't say that I liked the book. It isn't an uplifting book by any means. However, it is one that could stay with you which, depending on your own personal life experiences, will either be good or bad. One of the things I did enjoy was the use of literature. Lila was an English professor and both she and Billy not only loved books, but books were an integral part of their lives and their relationship.

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

Read 9/09

* *
2/5 Stars

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Distant Thunder...Review

About the book:
The prophet Ezekiel was never taken seriously when he predicted the destruction of Israel s enemies; unfortunately for them, he was right. The truth of Ezekiel s words will be felt by the entire modern-day world, and it seems chaos will reign supreme. In the midst of the ensuing mayhem, Pastor Ty Dempsey arises as the man who is able to connect modern-day occurrences to the teaching of old.

Meanwhile, Israeli pilot Moshe Eldan starts to see the truth of the prophecies in his daily dealing with terrorists. Dempsey and Eldan soon realize that they are part of a bigger plan; however, they are not alone. This thriller provides an answer to an age-old question: What would happen if the entire world turned on Israel? This thriller provides the answer in a fast-paced read, filled with all the action and adventure that usually accompanies the end of the world.

I think the premise of this story is fascinating: the exploration of ancient prophecies coming to pass in our modern day. The story alternates between Pastor Ty Dempsey in America and Captain Moshe Eldan in Israel and terrorists in Syria and America. Each has his mission, each believes that his cause and what he fights for is right and true.

As Ty follows his heart and his belief that God is prompting him to prepare His people for the fulfillment of prophecy, he clashes with some of the church deacons. There are some interesting discussions about whether the prophecies of the Old and New Testaments are to be taken literally or figuratively. The author has done his research, biblically as well as historically.

As Moshe listens to his wife speak of her new found Christian faith, he begins to see connections between his modern-day experiences with terrorists and the prophecies of old. Both men begin to realize that they are part of a greater plan than anyone realizes.

I don't have an extensive understanding of Middle Eastern history, nor a great understanding of the military, so it took me some time to get into the book and keep track of who was who and where. There is a lot of action and quite a bit of dialogue, with some interesting conclusions drawn.

I think that Jimmy Root has a talent for storytelling. I also think that the book needs a really good editor. Little errors here and there can add up and distract from an otherwise compelling story. For example, a woman wears high heels not high heals. My biggest editing issue? I love references to Pride and Prejudice, but when you're quoting a character who is one of the most beloved and well known in literature, get his name right. It's Mr. Darcy, not Mr. Darby. While probably a simple, overlooked spelling error, nevertheless, it's an unacceptable miss from an editor.

An interesting and compelling story, it's also thought-provoking and can make you take a good, hard look at your own life and where you stand in your personal faith. Part of The Lightening Chronicles series, I do look forward to the next books and finding out how the stories of Ty and Moshe play out.

Thanks to Dorothy Thompson of Pump Up Your Book Promotion and the author for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Jimmy Root, Jr. here. You can find additional tour stops and reviews here. You can purchase your own copy of the book here.

Read 9/09

* * *
3/5 Stars

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Thinking About Friendship...Thoughts

Do you ever think about friendship? I do.

Normally I don't write posts for this blog unless they deal with books or reading. But this topic has been on my mind a lot lately and I thought it might be interesting to see what other people had to say. BBAW just ended and is a way for people to meet new, online, friends. But, what about real life friends?

Do you have lots of friends: people who call and stop by, people who do thoughtful things for you; girlfriends you get together with often?

Do you have only one or two really close friends? Do you feel like you're all alone in the world of friendship: that everyone else out there seems to have a life and girlfriends and you don't? Does blogging bring you more friends or take you away from your real-life friends?

Are you one of those blessed people who is the life of the party and can gather people around you like chicks to a hen? Or are you the one in the background: the one who is always reliable when it comes to church or work or PTA, but who no one remembers to call when they're going out to have fun?

I've been thinking a lot about friendship lately. I watch those around me, sometimes with a bit of jealousy, I will admit. There seem to be those women who just make friends easily. They are the ones who are always included in events and activities and often, they are the ones coordinating and instigating those activities and events. I wonder, were they always that way? Were they the popular girls in high school who were always involved and always busy?

I know some women through my boys' activities and I have a lot of acquaintances at church. There are a lot of women I like, and there are many who I consider to be my friends. And, I'd like to think that many of them like me in return. But, it's rare that they would think of me when they get together with each other. And, if I thought about doing something, I don't know that it would be easy for me to invite them along, even though I might think about doing it. Why is that?

I've decided that I don't make friends easily. I think that I tend to be a little prickly. I don't confide in others very easily and tend to be a bit private. I'm not a warm, fuzzy, awwww-type person who draws lots of attention, and if I have an opinion, I'll share it, even if it's not popular. I've had people here just look at me like I'm some weirdo, when I have an opinion that is different from theirs or the mainstream. I'm not super comfortable in crowds, although I can hold my own, and sometimes I think I'm even funny. The last few years have been interesting, friendship-wise, to say the least. Sometimes I think that I let my books become my friends.

I've never been a "have a lot of girlfriends person". My closest friends are women I've known for 30 years. They are women I went to school and church with as a child and young woman. I made some good friends in college, but we don't stay in touch like I do with my girlfriends I grew up with. Perhaps it's because we share a history. Perhaps it's because we just connected. Who knows? But, those close girlfriends live away from me, and while our friendships are strong and we are here for each other, I miss having close, every day girlfriends.

I've met a lot of people through blogging and I've met several of them/you in real life. Sometimes you click with someone immediately, sometimes you don't. But, I've learned that I'm not the only one who sometimes feels lost in the world of friends.

What about you? Talk to me. Share. Discuss.

Am I the only one who doesn't make friends easily? Do you have any suggestions of how to make friends and be a better friend to the ones you do have?
Do you make friends easily?

Do you ever feel left out and ignored?
Do you have lots of girlfriends or just one or two?

Would you rather read a book or go out with a friend?

This post has been shared at Wise Woman, Whole-hearted HomeInspire Me Wednesday

Sunday, September 20, 2009

An Eye for an Eye...Review

About the book:
After an accidental shooting during a tense standoff, FBI Hostage Rescue Team member Mark Sanders is sent to St. Louis to work as a field agent and get his bearings while the bad press settles. Just weeks away from returning to Quantico, Mark has a chance encounter with an old flame, Emily Lawson. But their reunion is cut short by a sniper. Now Mark must find the shooter before he tries to strike again. But what is his motive--and who was his intended target? Can Mark put the pieces together, keep Emily safe, and rekindle a long-dead relationship at the same time?

A fast-paced tale of romance, suspense, and intrigue, An Eye for an Eye is the exciting second installment in the Heroes of Quantico series.

Definitely fast-paced and exciting. I read the book in an evening and didn't want to put it down. It had the right amount of suspense, the right amount of romance. Who is the sniper and which one was the actual target: Mark or Emily? It's Christian without being preachy: Mark has lost his faith, but Emily's is strong and predictably, Mark finds his again. Great conversations make a story better and I loved the banter between Mark and Emily and Mark and his FBI colleagues.

This is the second of a series, but it stands alone well. I haven't read the first one yet, and while I'm sure knowing Coop's history would have been good, it wasn't completely necessary to the enjoyment of this one, as it's Mark's story and Coop is a supporting character. I have the first book on hold at the library though, and I'll read it as soon as I can. I'm looking forward to Nick's story in book three.

Thanks to Donna Hausler from the Baker Publishing Group for the opportunity to review this book. You can find out more about Irene Hannon here. You can purchase the book here.

Available September 2009 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Read 9/09

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Friday, September 18, 2009

BBAW: Goals

The last BBAW prompt is about goals. Tell us and this is really important, in 50 words or less what you love best about your blog! And then in 50 words or less where you want your blog to be by the next BBAW!

On October 19th, it will be two years since I started this book blog. I wanted a place to record the books I read and to remember why I did or didn't like a particular book. It sort of just evolved after that.

For the most part I'm happy with my little corner of the book blogging world. I think my reviews have gotten better, and I've learned to temper a negative review with positives.

Like most others, I'd like to have more readers. I need to be better about commenting on, and not just reading, reviews on other blogs. I also want to be better about acknowledging those who comment here. I've become friends with other bloggers when one of us answers or responds to comments and I think it makes our experiences with the book blogging community richer.

I also want to move back into reviewing books because I choose to read them, not because I agreed to post a review on a set date. Sometimes you need to be in a certain mood to read a particular book, and I’ve learned that I don’t always enjoy reading under pressure.

The last two years have been a lot of fun and I look forward to watching this next year unfold.

What about you? Do you have specific goals for the next year?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Role of a Lifetime...Review

About the book:
We live in a world that all too often operates under the overriding template of self-promotion, embracing a "hooray for me" attitude, and which measures success in increasingly small time frames dotted with markers of temporal value.

Millions of viewers know James Brown as a sports commentator and former athlete. With ROLE OF A LIFETIME, James reveals a different side of his character. Brown rose from a middle-class home to earn a scholarship to Harvard and a chance at a professional sports career before moving on to broadcast journalism. Part memoir and part self-help, this book draws on James' lessons from his faith and life experiences to guide readers to find fulfillment and significance. He offers values and encouragement to others of all generations, assisting them in their search for meaning in navigating a world that increasingly promotes transient values, if any at all. His message that shortcuts and gimmicks are counterproductive to a person's success provides hope that there is a God who cares about them and their futures.

I freely admit that I am not a television viewer. While there was a time in my life where I was up on sports and knew everything that was going on with my two favorite NFL teams, that time is not now. And, while I was aware that James Brown was a sports show analyst and commentator, I knew nothing about the man himself.

Honestly, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. I thought it would simply be entertaining. I didn't expect to be moved, much less inspired.

James Brown writes candidly about his life and his ups and downs and successes and failures. Being drafted into the NBA was his dream come true. Being released after training camp was a defeat. He's honest and open and never once do you think that he's feeling sorry for himself. On the contrary, this is a book about finding the role that you were born to live, and the role that God wants for you.

I appreciated James' view that we maximize our own potential as much by building others up and letting them shine, as we do on our own. James speaks openly about finding his faith and living it. His faith and family are important to him and he is who he is, in part, because of his mother's example of goodness. In his eyes, success is making a difference in the lives of others, and we can only do that with God's help. He's very quick to give credit to those people who've made a difference in his life and who've taught him and helped him get to where he is today.

If I have any complaints at all with the book, it's that I felt it needed a good edit. But, that's just me. I know a book is good when I want to high-light passages for future reference, and there were several here where I did just that. I'd love to hear James speak in person. I think his message would be both inspirational and motivational.

Thanks to Anna Balasi of Hatchette Book Group for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about James Brown here. You can purchase the book here.

Read 9/09

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

BBAW Reading Meme

There are all sorts of fun things going on for Book Blogger Appreciation Week, and I'm sort of picking and choosing the things I can participate in.

This particular meme is all about the creativity. The idea is to Pick ONE or answer them all in as few words as possible! Be creative, have fun, stand out! Well, Alyce of At Home With Books did the best post and used pictures. You should really check it out.

Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack? Usually I just have a cup of cocoa, a glass of ice water or a cold coke. If I'm hungry, I'll eat and keep reading.

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of
writing in books horrify you? I have no problem high-lighting passages or lines if something touches me or I want to remember it. I just don't do it to library books!

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Bookmarks. Lots of bookmarks.

Hard copy or audiobooks? Hard copy.

What is the last book you bought? I don't remember. I've been getting everything from my library.

Are you the type of person that only reads one book at a time or can
you read more than one at a time? I usually have multiple books started. That's the problem with reviewing and doing blog tours. I sometimes let myself get over committed, so I read several at once. It's easy.

Do you prefer series books or stand alone books? Both.

How do you organize your books? (By genre, title, author’s last name, etc.?) Are you serious? Organize? I'm lucky to keep them on the shelf NEATLY.

Doctor Who: The Deviant Strain...Review

About the book:
The Novrosk Peninsula, the Soviet naval base, has been abandoned, and the nuclear submarines are rusting and rotting. Cold, isolated, forgotten until the Russian Special Forces arrive - and discover that the Doctor and his companions are here too. But there is something else in Novrosk. Something that predates everything else, even the stone circle on the cliff top. Something that is at last waking, hunting, killing... Can the Doctor and his friends stay alive long enough to learn the truth? With time running out, they must discover who is really responsible for the Deviant Strain... 

The Doctor finds himself on a remote, Soviet naval base with Captain Jack and Rose, after Jack mistakenly answers a distress call. A mysterious stone circle, unexplained deaths and and unknown killer mean adventure and disaster. What is the Deviant Strain and can the Doctor and his friends discover the truth?

The story is full of chases and running and campy sort of octopus-like jelly monsters. It also includes Captain Jack, and while he's still brave and heroic, he's also a bit of a tender heart, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. While he is still young Jack as we first meet him, before he's left behind in The Parting of the Ways and before Torchwood, he still wasn't completely Jack-like.

I couldn't see this one translating to the screen, but as Doctor Who novels go, this one is a fast, entertaining and easy read.

Thanks to my local library for having a copy I could borrow.

Read 8/09

* * *
3/5 Stars

Monday, September 14, 2009

Mailbox Monday 9/14

It's time for another Mailbox Monday, hosted by Marcia at the Printed Page.

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week (checked out library books don’t count, eBooks & audio books do). Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

This is what arrived in my mailbox over the last two weeks!

Morning Sunshine!, by Robin Meade
Amish Peace, by Suzanne Woods Fisher
The Gift of an Ordinary Day, by Katrina Kenison

Intimate Conversations: Devotions to Nurture a Woman's Soul, by Alicia Britt Chole
Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace, by Margaret McSweeney
Role of a Lifetime, by James Brown
What new books did you receive last week?
For more Mailbox Monday posts, check out The Printed Page.

Friday, September 11, 2009

BBAW Nominations

Book Blogger Appreciation Week runs next week, September 14-18.

I'm way late on the uptake here. But, thank you to the kind reader who nominated my blog in the BBAW. It's definitely an honor and I appreciate it greatly. I'm nominated in the Best Spiritual/Inspirational or Religious Blog category along with several other terrific bloggers: Callapidder Days, Semicolon, A Novel Menagerie, and My Friend Amy.

To see the other categories and nominations and vote for your favorite bloggers (um, me?), check out the BBAW site here. I think the shortlists are not only a great way to recognize your favorite bloggers, but also a place to find new book blogs, and I plan to visit all of them. I encourage you to do the same thing.

Meggie's Remains...Review

About the book:
Meggie's Remains is a romantic suspense unlike any other. Meggie struggles with far more than meeting the man of her dreams. In fact, she's scared to death when she does. This story could happen to any woman, in any time. It is you. It is me. It is private ... but must be told.

Afraid of men, afraid for her sins, afraid for her sanity, and right now afraid for her life, Meggie McMurphy flees Boston once the fiendish terror--so long stalking in her nightmares--surfaces in the light of day. She escapes west to Denver in the wild Colorado Territory, hoping to lose herself among the multitude of townsfolk. The year is 1874.

Twenty-five years old, alone, and near penniless, Meggie struggles to find honest work and to keep the dark secrets of her past just that: a secret. Not so easily done when the handsome, foreboding westerner Ethan Rourke, stumbles upon her on a snowy Denver street. Why it's as if he'd stepped right out of the pages of her beloved romance,
Jane Eyre! Safe to encounter such a man on the romance page, it is certainly unsafe, even deadly, for her to encounter such a man in the flesh. Men belong ... six feet under, six feet away ... where to stay safe, the devil must stay!

Hired as a teacher, not in Denver, but in an isolated mountain town in rugged Ute country, Meggie is determined to make a home for herself in Hot Sulphur Springs. There she keeps up her masquerade as Rose Rochester, yearning for a normal life--for companionship and even love--all the while knowing it's only a matter of time until the monstrous changeling from her nightmares will find her, killing any possibility of a life at all.

Raised in an orphanage, abused by the matron and one of the orphanage's benefactors, Meggie believes herself to be unworthy of love. She escapes to a convent and there discovers joy in teaching. When the man who assaulted her shows up one day at the convent, Meggie flees to the west and finds a teaching position in rugged Colorado. Haunted by her past experiences, Meggie struggles to create a new life for herself, but finds love and friendship in the rugged Colorado territory. When her past meets her present, she is able to face it once and for all.

This was a slow starter for me. I actually kept setting it down with the intent of not finishing it, but I finally did. It took me awhile to really like Meggie. As you get into the story and learn the back story and Meggie's history, it finally all comes together and makes sense. But, before that history is revealed and you understand that there are true horrors in her life, the woman comes across as completely nuts. However, the effects of any abuse are far reaching, and Ethan finds himself at once drawn to her and confused by her.

The tie in to Jane Eyre works as you get into the story and understand what has happened to Meggie to make her grasp onto the fantasy of Jane and Edward, and why she can draw strength and inspiration from her beloved novel.

Some readers may want to be aware that there is a description of a rape scene which is inherent to the story line. There is also some sensuality and a mild pre-marital sex scene, although nothing overtly graphic.

An interesting, historical read and one that I am sure will resonate with many people, even if I wasn't one of them.

Thanks to Dorothy Thompson of Pump Up Your Book Promotion and the author for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Joanne Sundell here. You can find additional tour stops and reviews here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 9/09

* *
2/5 Stars

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Look to the East...Review

About the book:
At the dawn of the First World War, the French provincial village of Briecourt is isolated from the battles, but the century-old feud between the Toussaints and the de Colvilles still rages in the streets. When the German army sweeps in to occupy the town, families on both sides of the feud must work together to protect stragglers caught behind enemy lines. Julitte Toussaint may have been adopted from a faraway island, but she feels the scorn of the de Colvilles as much as anyone born a Toussaint. So when she falls in love with one of the stragglers—a wealthy and handsome Belgian entrepreneur—she knows she’s playing with fire. Charles Lassone hides in the cellar of the Briecourt church, safe from the Germans for the moment. But if he’s discovered, it will bring danger to the entire village and could cost Charles his life. First in a three-book series.

Adopted as a child, young Julitte Toussaint grew up in a small French village. A century-old fued between her family and the deColvilles divides their small town. As World War 1 begins, the Germans invade Briecourt and the villagers hide some refugees. When Julitte falls in love with Charles Lassone, a Belgian trapped behind the German lines, she knows that danger awaits the village if he's discovered. As the war progresses and the Germans become more entrenched in Briecourt, Julitte must rely on her faith in God to see her through.

A simply charming novel, with characters you like and others you don't. Julitte is sweet, her faith is strong. Charles is the hero, returning to rescue the woman he loves, after finding freedom himself. Claudette and her selfishness make you angry and you feel a bit sorry for Ori, even as you distrust her for falling in love with one of the Germans.

A fast, easy read that captures your attention and leaves you anxious for the next book in the series.

Thanks for First Wildcard and Maggie Rowe at Tyndale House Publishers for the opportunity to review this book. You can find out more about Maureen Lang here. You can read the first chapter here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 9/09

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Monday, September 7, 2009

Never the Bride...Review

About the book:
Since she was just a little girl, Jessie Stone dreamed up hundreds of marriage proposals, doodled the romantic ideas in her journal with her treasured purple pen, and fantasized about wedding dresses and falling in love.  She’s been a bridesmaid nearly a dozen times, waved numerous couples off to sunny honeymoons, and shopped in more department stores for half-price fondue pots than she cares to remember.

But shopping for one key component of these countless proposals hasn't been quite as productive–a future husband. The man she thought she would marry cheated on her.  The crush she has on her best friend Blake is at very best…well, crushing.  And speed dating has only churned out memorable horror stories.

So when God shows up one day, in the flesh, and becomes a walking, talking part of her life, Jessie is skeptical. What will it take to convince her that the Almighty has a better plan than one she’s already cooked up in her journals?  Can she turn over her pen and trust someone else to craft a love story beyond her wildest dreams?

Whenever you read a book you go into it with preconceived ideas. Always. Whether it be from the cover, the blurb, a review or your own experiences, you always have some sort of expectation. It's great when those expectations are met and it's disappointing when they're not.

Never the Bride is a fun novel, no doubt about it. It is laugh out loud funny in places. The premise is actually thought-provoking, rather than simply being light and fluffy. Jessie Stone has always wanted to be married, but too many dating horror stories have taken their toll. When God shows up, looking like a real man, Jessie isn't quite sure what to think. But, as she allows God into her life, interesting things happen and He shows her that He is the one who is in control, if she'll only let Him lead her.

I enjoyed the explorations in the conversations Jessie has with God and I was surprised at some of the depth. I liked the thought that God is a person who loves us and knows us and wants what's best for us. Accepting Him and loving Him and accepting His love in return isn't always as easy as we think it is.

Being an "older" bride when I married, in some ways I could relate to Jessie, although I was never fixated on marriage like she was. I did like Jessie, although some of her shenanigans were annoying. What disappointed me was who God turned out to be. The idea that as Jessie looked back in hindsight, she hadn't known that at certain times when she thought she was with God, she was actually with someone else. I didn't care for that part. I think it was too confusing and it could have been done differently.

Still, the novel is entertaining and surprisingly not as light-hearted as I expected. An easy, entertaining Christian read.

Thanks for First Wildcard and Waterbrook Press for the opportunity to review this book. You can find out more about Cheryl McKay here and Rene Gutteridge here. You can read the first chapter here. You can purchase your own copy of this book here.

Read 9/09

* * *
3/5 Stars