Everyday Tidbits...

Be Kind. Do Good. Love is a Verb.

Friday, December 31, 2010

How do people find my blog, Part 4

It's been almost a year since my last installment of How Do People Find My Blog. Sometimes, it's quite interesting, and even a bit confusing! So, sit back and laugh at some of the searches that have brought people to 2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews.

dinner time with 2 kids...  Can be an interesting and enlightening experience!  My personal opinion is that family dinner is important.  There is no substitute for sitting down together as a family to eat.  It doesn't matter what you eat.  What matters is that you're together and you're talking.  Ask questions, inquire about each others' days.  Ask, "what was the best thing that happened to you today?"  Ask, "what was the hardest thing that happened?"  Connect with your children.  It's important.

kids who must have the last word...  I have one of those.  He's 12.

evidence on why kids are tired in the morning...  At my house, it's because they've stayed up too late.  Usually they're reading.

eng book review for class 10 not more than 2 pages... Write your own book review.  Seriously.  Read the damn thing and write the review.  It's not hard.

have two kids / blog...  Hey, me too!

why kids love chocolate...  Because they're human?  Mine love it because it's coded into their DNA.  Truly.  They're cursed.

how can light be changed to another form of energy...  No idea.  I have a degree in English, not science.  My 12 year probably knows.

x-force sex and violence 2 review...  You won't find that kind of review here.  Sorry.

the mailbox is it a good book for 4th graders... Not the one I read.  It's a terrific book, but it's not a juvenile book.

expectations of having two kids...   Don't have expectations.  Seriously.  You'll be disappointed.  Just go with it and enjoy them.

how to raise a stubborn red headed toddler boy... 
Neither of mine are red heads, but I can tell you about raising a dark-haired boy and a lighter-haired boy...
is mary beth chapman mormon... 
No, she is not.

does God want me to lose my house...
I can't speak for God when it comes to your life, but I wouldn't think so.  There are lessons there for you to learn through the trials and experiences you have. Sometimes those trials come from choices you've made, sometimes they come from choices other people have made. Those trials also might involve losing your house, but I don't think God is sitting there saying, "you need to lose your house".

what does God want me to consider as I make decisions about money...
That is between you and God. 

compare the similarities between children today and children in the past...  T
his is always a fascinating exercise and one I love to ponder and research on occasion.  Just comparing my childhood with that of my own children is fascinating.

two kids mother tired...
Don't I know it!

You can see other installments of How do People Find My Blog here: Part 3Part 2Part 1.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Doctor Who: The Glamour Chase...Review

About the book:
An archaeological dig in 1936 unearths relics of another time...and, as the Doctor and Amy realise, another place. Another planet.

But if Enola Porter, noted adventuress, has really found evidence of an alien civilization, how come she isn't famous? Why has Rory never heard of her? Added to that, since Amy's been traveling with him for a while now, why does she now think the Doctor is from Mars?

As the ancient spaceship reactivates, the Doctor discovers that nothing and no one can be trusted. The things that seem most real could actually be literal fabrications--and very deadly indeed.

Who can the Doctor believe when no one is what they seem?  And how can he defeat an enemy who can bend matter itself to their will?  For the Doctor, Amy and Rory--and all of humanity--the buried secrets of the past are very much a threat to the present.

A thrilling, all-new adventure featuring the Doctor, Amy Rory, as played by Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill in the spectacular hit series from BBC Television.

I love Doctor Who.  And while I wasn't too sure at first, I love Matt Smith's Doctor.  He owns the role now and it works.  I love the show and I enjoy reading the tie-in novels.

Rory features prominently here and it was so nice to see him get some credit for being bright.  I'm afraid that he will end up being the tin dog of the series and I like him too much for that to happen.  Seeing him take more of a strong role here was refreshing.

This one sounded interesting and, for the most part, it was.  The aliens who need rescuing are a fascinating breed and would make for interesting graphics were this a televised episode. 

Sometimes the novels absolutely capture the Doctor's voice and sometimes they don't.  This one tried too hard to capture Matt Smith's Doctor and it was easier for me to picture David Tennant's Doctor speaking the dialogue. 

The story wasn't the easiest to follow and I found myself skimming some sections, but it was a light diversion while waiting for the Christmas special!

Personal copy.  You can purchase your own here.

Read 12/10

* *
2/5 Stars

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Vigilante's Bride...Review

About the book:
Montana Territory, 1884Is Her Kidnapper the Only Man Who Can Keep Her Safe?

Robbing a stagecoach on Christmas Eve and abducting a woman passenger is the last thing Luke Sullivan expected to do. He just wanted to reclaim the money stolen from his pa, but instead ended up rescuing a feisty copper-haired woman who was on her way to marry Sullivan's dangerous enemy.

Emily McCarthy doesn't take kindly to her so-called rescue. Still, she's hoping Providence will turn her situation for good, especially when it seems Luke Sullivan may just be the man of her dreams. But Luke has crossed a vicious man, a powerful rancher not used to losing, and Emily is the prize he's unwilling to sacrifice.

Liked it, didn't love it.  The story bounces between viewpoints but, really, it's more Luke's story than Emily's, which isn't exactly a problem, because I liked Luke.  I never did like Emily and her contrived conflicts with Luke never seemed unbelievable.  I found myself annoyed with her more than anything. 

It was light on everything.  Light on the Christian, light on the romance, light on the substance and characterization. A nice diversion, nothing more.

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

Read 12/10

* * * 
3/5 Stars

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Christmas Apron...Review

About the book:
It’s nearly Christmas, and the seven children in Millie’s family can’t wait for Grandma to arrive with her special Christmas apron, newly pressed and filled with generations of holiday memories. According to tradition, each grandchild will carefully write down the gift he or she wants most in the world, and then slip that wish into the apron’s frilled pocket. Then, on Christmas morning, those wished-for gifts will be waiting under the tree — like magic. Little Will wants Lincoln Logs; nine-year-old Grace wants a horse of her very own. Even eleven-year-old Millie, who’s too old to believe in magic, has a precious wish in mind — a pair of silky pink toe shoes.

But one dark evening, Millie overhears a worrisome conversation between her parents: due to wartime shortages, the family can’t afford gifts for all the little ones. She pictures the terrible disappointment on her siblings’ faces: no toys or games or art supplies to open on Christmas morning (and certainly no horse for Grace!) From that point on, she wrestles with a terrible question: Is she willing to sacrifice her own whole-soul wish so that someone else’s can come true? Full of tender emotion and delightful surprise, this story reminds us of the miracles that unfold when we think of others before ourselves.

Millie is an eleven year old girl living during the bleak days of World War II.  Money is scarce, but love abounds.  All Milllie wants for Christmas is ballet pointe shoes.  All her sister wants is a horse.  When her grandmother arrives with her magic apron, Millie wonders if her family's wishes really will come true this year. 

A beautiful story about families.  One that calls to mind The Gift of the Magi.  I wear an apron nearly every day, all day.  I love that they protect my clothes as I work around my home and care for my family. I absolutely love the sentiments expressed in this lovely little story that, "Aprons help us do the most important work there is--family work.  The work that says, 'I love you'."  This speaks to my heart! 

I love these short, pamphlet-sized  Christmas stories.  This is one that is easily read in a sitting.  I think it would make a fantastic gift and if it was accompanied by an apron, an even better one!

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

Read 12/10

* * * * *
5/5 Stars

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Lipstick in Afghanistan...Review

About the book:
Roberta Gately’s lyrical and authentic debut novel—inspired by her own experiences as a nurse in third world war zones—is one woman’s moving story of offering help and finding hope in the last place she expected.

Gripped by haunting magazine images of starving refugees, Elsa has dreamed of becoming a nurse since she was a teenager. Of leaving her humble working-class Boston neighborhood to help people whose lives are far more difficult than her own. No one in her family has ever escaped poverty, but Elsa has a secret weapon: a tube of lipstick she found in her older sister’s bureau. Wearing it never fails to raise her spirits and cement her determination. With lipstick on, she can do anything—even travel alone to war-torn Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11.

But violent nights as an ER nurse in South Boston could not prepare Elsa for the devastation she witnesses at the small medical clinic she runs in Bamiyan. As she struggles to prove herself to the Afghan doctors and local villagers, she begins a forbidden romance with her only confidant, a charming Special Forces soldier. Then, a tube of lipstick she finds in the aftermath of a tragic bus bombing leads her to another life-changing friendship. In her neighbor Parween, Elsa finds a kindred spirit, fiery and generous. Together, the two women risk their lives to save friends and family from the worst excesses of the Taliban. But when the war waging around them threatens their own survival, Elsa discovers her only hope is to unveil the warrior within. Roberta Gately’s raw, intimate novel is an unforgettable tribute to the power of friendship and a poignant reminder of the tragic cost of war.

Wow.  What a remarkable novel. I liked Elsa and her spunk and strength.  I loved Parween and her strength and devotion to her own country and to helping the women of Afghanistan, even at her own peril.  The story is beautifully descriptive.

Women connect with each other, no matter the country and their personal circumstances in life and the way that lipstick is woven through the story is clever and adds to the poignancy.  I can how this novel will appeal to book groups. I so wish for a more satisfying conclusion to Elsa and Mike's relationship.

I am not an aid worker, nor am I a nurse.  I have never traveled any place remotely dangerous, unless you count surviving a taxi ride in Rome.  I don't know how accurate or inaccurate the details of this story are, but I do know that it is a fascinating story.  Some readers will want to be aware of mild, but not gratuitous, use of the F word.

The story is fictional, but people and experiences are based on the author's own experiences as a nurse in Afghanistan.  A fascinating, poignant story about the power of friendship.

Thanks to Simon & Shuster for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Roberta Gately here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 12/10

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Dear Mrs. Kennedy...Review

About the book:
In the weeks and months following the assassination of her husband, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy received over one million letters. The impact of President Kennedy’s death was so immense that people from every station in life wrote to her, sharing their feelings of sympathy, sorrow, and hope.

She received letters from political luminaries such as Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Charles De Gaulle. Hollywood stars like Lauren Bacall, Vivian Leigh, and Gene Kelly voiced their sympathy, as did foreign dignitaries including Queen Elizabeth II, the King and Queen of Greece, and the Prince of Monaco. Distinguished members of the arts and society—Ezra Pound, Noel Coward, Babe Paley, Langston Hughes, Oleg Cassini, Josephine Baker—offered their heartfelt condolences. And children, with the most heartbreaking sincerity, reached out to the First Lady to comfort her in her time of grief.

More than just a compendium of letters, Dear Mrs. Kennedy uses these many voices to tell the unforgettable story of those fateful four days in November, when the world was struck with shock and sadness. It vividly captures the months that followed, as a nation—and a family—attempted to rebuild.

Filled with emotion, patriotism, and insight, these letters present a poignant time capsule of one of the seminal events of the twentieth century: a diverse portrait, not only of the aftermath of the assassination, but of the Kennedy mystique that continues to captivate the world.

Americans connected with the Kennedy family in a way that they had never done with previous presidents.  Perhaps it's was JFK's youth or his ideals.  Perhaps it was his movie-star looks and beautiful, poised young wife.  Perhaps it was the fact that technology had made it possible for a real-time look at the president.  In November of 1963, while the world watched, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and many Americans were forever changed.  Those who remember that day, remember where they were and what they were doing, much as those who experienced 9/11 remember what they were doing when the twin towers fell.

After the assassination millions of people, from around the world, sent letters of sympathy and condolence to Jacqueline Kennedy.  Many are from famous people:  actors and politicians and foreign dignitaries.  Most are from every day Americans; people who had no connection to this man, other than respect for his office and shock and grief at his violent death.

After their initial reading, these letters remained largely untouched in storage and many are now being published and seen by the public for the first time.  These letters are interspersed with commentary and explanations about the time and offer a compelling, poignant glimpse into a tragic period of American history.

I noticed some editing issues and towards the end it got a bit repetitive, but I still found it fascinating, although not very uplifting. I think JFK fans will enjoy it.

Thanks to Alexis James, publicist for the author, for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Paul de Angelis here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 12/10

* * *
5/5 Stars

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Uncle Eben's Christmas...Review

About the book:
Unlike Ebenezer Scrooge, Eben doesn't mind Christmas. Actually it gives his business the extra year-end boost he's come to expect. Unfortunately he's an atheist and has little toleration for “Christ” in Christmas. This year he is forbidding his employees to greet the customers with “Merry Christmas,” and is insisting that they say “Happy Holidays” instead. As Christmas draws near, a battle begins to brew in his soul. Coworkers, relatives, customers, almost everyone seems to be against his line of thinking.

Mrs. Muddleheim, his secretary, is a constant reminder of his lack of spirituality. Bethany, his favorite cashier, balks at not saying “Merry Christmas” to the customers. Pastor Edwards, preaching at a cantata appears to be directing his message solely at him. Hannah, his sister, and her family also seem to be part of the same conspiracy to convert him. Ginger, his niece, quotes the Bible to him. And Charles, his brother-in-law, easily rebuffs his counterattack against the Bible.

Rejecting the Gospel when he was a teen, Eben grew up and went onto start a successful business. Now he scoffs at anything religious, attributing his success to his own efforts. While he's not happy about his sister's Christian beliefs, his love for his niece and nephew occasionally has him attending church services when they perform.

Uncle Eben's Christmas looks at the state of an unbeliever who profits from Christmas, yet gives none of the glory to God. It's the story of one man who is surrounded by Christians who he finds as poor, deluded, misguided individuals, yet is in his own bleak state about to get the wake-up call of a lifetime!

In a climatic dream, Eben meets an angelic being that takes him to the past, present, and future. These troubling experiences open his eyes to an apparently bleak future. But maybe there is still hope...

I love Christmas.  I love the opportunity it gives us to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. I love Charles Dickens' story, A Christmas Carol and Ebeneezer Scrooge's amazing transformation.  I suppose it's inevitable that stories like this pop up every Christmas. And this one is an interesting, if not extreme, modern day take on that same story. 

I liked Uncle Eben's Christmas, but didn't love it.  I found it very preachy with all the talk of salvation and the unbeliever. Eben's sudden conversion is a bit convenient, but certainly the predictable ending.  While it won't end up on my must-read Christmas list, mainstream Christians will, no doubt, enjoy it.

Thanks to Arielle at Bring It On! Communications for the opportunity to review this book.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 12/10

* * * 
3/5 Stars

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Amy Inspired...Review

About the book:
Amy Gallagher is an aspiring writer who, after countless rejections, has settled for a career as an English professor in small-town Ohio just to pay the bills. All her dreams suddenly start to unravel as rejections pile up--both from publishers and her boyfriend. But just as Amy fears her life is stuck in a holding pattern, she meets the mysterious, attractive, and unavailable Eli.

She struggles to walk the fine line between friendship and something more with Eli, even as staying true to her faith becomes unexpectedly complicated. When secrets, tragedy, and poor decisions cause rifts in Amy's relationships, she must come to terms with who she's become, her unrealized aspirations for her life, and the state of her faith. Can she dare to hope that she will find love and fulfillment despite it all?

I've seen such mixed reviews about this book and mine will probably be no different.  I enjoyed the story, but I didn't love it.  I found the ending lacking and really didn't understand the author ended it the way she did.

Amy's voice is great, but the story is all over the board.  I found myself wondering what the real purpose for writing it.  Is it a story about a single women searching for her purpose and path in life?  Is the focus Amy and Eli?  Is the focus friendship or family relationships? The ring of truth to Amy suggests that it's partially autobiographical and that the author based Amy on herself. Which is fine, because I did like Amy.  I never quite understood her attraction to Eli.

Light on the Christian, this is an interesting commentary on the life of writers and wannabe writers.  It's actually quite well written and the language is lyrical.  I liked it, I didn't love it.

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

Read 12/10

* * * 
3/5 Stars

Friday, December 17, 2010

Promise Me...Review

About the book:

Beth Cardall has a secret. For eighteen years, she has had no choice but to keep it to herself, but on Christmas Eve 2008, all that is about to change.

For Beth, 1989 was a year marked by tragedy. Her life was falling apart: her six-year-old daughter, Charlotte, was suffering from an unidentifiable illness; her marriage transformed from a seemingly happy and loving relationship to one full of betrayal and pain; her job at the dry cleaners was increasingly at risk; and she had lost any ability to trust, to hope, or to believe in herself. Then, on Christmas Day, as she rushed through a blizzard to the nearest 7-Eleven, Beth encountered Matthew, a strikingly handsome, mysterious stranger, who would single-handedly change the course of her life.

Who is this man, and how does he seem to know so much about her? He pursues her relentlessly, and only after she’s fallen deeply in love with him does she learn his incredible secret, changing the world as she knows it, as well as her own destiny.

Some books just leave you speechless.  This review has been percolating in my mind for several days and I still can't put my thoughts into words.   

Richard Paul Evans is a great storyteller and this story is imaginative and full of so many things: twists and turns, ups and downs, sorrows and joys, magical realism, and love and loss.  I think it would be a terrific book club book. 

I liked it.  A lot.  I don't know that I loved it.  It moved me and somewhat resonated with me.  I didn't want to put it down.  Yet, in some ways, it also disturbed me.  I'm not sure how to even review it without giving away spoilers.  I certainly did not anticipate the unexpected twist.

Thanks to Simon & Shuster for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Richard Paul Evans here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 12/10

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Secret Gift: How One Man's Kindness--and a Trove of Letters--Revealed the Hidden History of the Great Depression...Review

About the book:
An inspiring account of America at its worst-and Americans at their best-woven from the stories of Depression-era families who were helped by gifts from the author's generous and secretive grandfather.

Shortly before Christmas 1933 in Depression-scarred Canton, Ohio, a small newspaper ad offered $10, no strings attached, to 75 families in distress. Interested readers were asked to submit letters describing their hardships to a benefactor calling himself Mr. B. Virdot. The author's grandfather Sam Stone was inspired to place this ad and assist his fellow Cantonians as they prepared for the cruelest Christmas most of them would ever witness.

Moved by the tales of suffering and expressions of hope contained in the letters, which he discovered in a suitcase 75 years later, Ted Gup initially set out to unveil the lives behind them, searching for records and relatives all over the country who could help him flesh out the family sagas hinted at in those letters. From these sources, Gup has re-created the impact that Mr B. Virdot's gift had on each family. Many people yearned for bread, coal, or other necessities, but many others received money from B. Virdot for more fanciful items-a toy horse, say, or a set of encyclopedias. As Gup's investigations revealed, all these things had the power to turn people's lives around--even to save them.

But as he uncovered the suffering and triumphs of dozens of strangers, Gup also learned that Sam Stone was far more complex than the lovable- retiree persona he'd always shown his grandson. Gup unearths deeply buried details about Sam's life-from his impoverished, abusive upbringing to felonious efforts to hide his immigrant origins from U.S. officials-that help explain why he felt such a strong affinity to strangers in need. Drawing on his unique find and his award-winning reportorial gifts, Ted Gup solves a singular family mystery even while he pulls away the veil of eight decades that separate us from the hardships that united America during the Depression. In A Secret Gift, he weaves these revelations seamlessly into a tapestry of Depression-era America, which will fascinate and inspire in equal measure.

I enjoyed this story.  I enjoyed it so much that when it disappeared during my recent move, I was more than annoyed.  I'm anxious to finish it as soon as it turns up, but my review will be the same, no matter what.  Simply put, this is just a captivating book.  It's a fascinating look into the lives of every day people during the depression.  It's the story of a generous man, who wasn't immune to the troubles of the time, but a man who, during the Christmas of 1933, found himself better off than most people.  Because of that, he wanted to do something to help others.

The letters what were sent to B. Virdot are tender and poignant.  This was such a different time.  People didn't want handouts, they wanted work to support their families.  They were proud and honest.  There was no sense of entitlement.

An interesting and enlightening book about a dark and difficult time in America's history, but also a sentimental story of hope and the kindness of others.

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

Read 11/10

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Sound of Sleigh Bells...Review

About the book:
Beth Hertzler works alongside her beloved Aunt Lizzy in their dry goods store, and serving as contact of sorts between Amish craftsmen and Englischers who want to sell the Plain people’s wares. But remorse and loneliness still echo in her heart everyday as she still wears the dark garb, indicating mourning of her fiancé. When she discovers a large, intricately carved scene of Amish children playing in the snow, something deep inside Beth’s soul responds and she wants to help the unknown artist find homes for his work–including Lizzy’s dry goods store. But she doesn’t know if her bishop will approve of the gorgeous carving or deem it idolatry.

Lizzy sees the changes in her niece when Beth shows her the woodworking, and after Lizzy hunts down Jonah, the artist, she is all the more determined that Beth meets this man with the hands that create healing art. But it’s not that simple–will Lizzy’s elaborate plan to reintroduce her niece to love work? Will Jonah be able to offer Beth the sleigh ride she’s always dreamed of and a second chance at real love–or just more heartbreak?

I loved Cindy Woodsmall's Sisters of the Quilt series, but I found The Sound of Sleigh Bells somewhat disappointing.  I'm not sure what it was.  It has all the makings of a terrific Christmas novella and is Amish to boot.

I liked Beth and Jonah, but Lizzy and her interfering annoyed me.  It felt rushed and undeveloped, and I think it would make a better, longer novel.  Still, it's a light, engaging read and one that fans of Cindy Woodsmall will undoubtedly love.

You can purchase your own copy here.

Personal copy read 12/10. 

* *
2/5 Stars

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Way I See It: A Look Back at My Life on Little House...Review

About the book:
When other girls her age were experiencing their first crushes, Melissa Sue Anderson was receiving handwritten marriage proposals from fans as young, and younger, than she was. When other girls were dreaming of their first kiss, Melissa was struggling through hers in front of a camera. From age eleven in 1974 until she left the show in 1981, Melissa Anderson literally grew up before the viewers of Little House on the Prairie.

Melissa, as Mary, is remembered by many as "the blind sister"—and she was the only actor in the series to be nominated for an Emmy. In The Way I See It, she takes readers onto the set and inside the world of the iconic series created by Michael Landon, who, Melissa discovered, was not perfect, as much as he tried to be. In this memoir she also shares her memories of working with guest stars like Todd Bridges, Mariette Hartley, Sean Penn, Patricia Neal, and Johnny Cash.

In addition to stories of life on the set, Melissa offers revealing looks at her relationships off-set with her costars, including the other Melissa (Melissa Gilbert) and Alison Arngrim, who portrayed Nellie Oleson on the show. And she relates stories of her guest appearances on iconic programs such as The Love Boat and The Brady Bunch.

Filled with personal, revealing anecdotes and memorabilia from the Little House years, this book is also a portrait of a child star who became a successful adult actress and a successful adult. These are stories from "the other Ingalls sister" that have never been told.

The reviews for this book really run the gamut from 1 to 5 stars.  Having read Prairie Tale by Melissa Gilbert and Confessions of a Prairie Bitch by Alison Arngrim, I was curious to learn Melissa Sue Anderson's perspective.

Melissa's story is certainly interesting.  Perhaps not as salacious as the other two, but still interesting.  Both Melissa Gilbert and Alison Arngrim talk about Melissa Sue Anderson in fairly negative terms and, from their stories, it is clear that the three were not real friends.  By them, she is portrayed as haughty and snotty and stuck up.  But, from Melissa Anderson's perspective, she simply states that the girls weren't encouraged to be good friends.  I inferred that because she was older, she had her own life and interests and they didn't include strong associations with all of her fellow cast members.  She had nothing overly negative to say about Melissa or Alison. 

It's apparent that Melissa values her privacy and there aren't any tabloidesque stories here, probably because that is not how she seemed to live her life.   She left show business several years after Little House, when she got married and wanted to raise her family.  I have a great deal of respect for people who make that decision and stick with it.

Melissa talks about some of the Mary-centric episodes that she did on Little House and provides commentary about her experiences filming those episodes, especially the blind ones.  I found that commentary enlightening.

Overall, Melissa's story is a bit more sterile than other, recent Little House memoirs, but it is also an interesting look at life on one of America's favorite television shows. 

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

Read 11/10

* * * 
3/5 Stars

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Christmas Chronicles...Review

About the book:
In this new holiday classic, Tim Slover crafts a marvelous, magical novel about how Santa Claus became the man he is today. After reading The Christmas Chronicles, you’ll believe all over again in the magic of the season.

Snow is falling, and the clock ticks toward midnight on Christmas Eve while countless children, too excited to sleep, anticipate the arrival of Santa Claus. But in Tim Slover’s deeply charming and utterly thrilling new novel, that’s the end rather than the beginning of the story. In this richly imagined tale of Santa’s origins, the man in full finally emerges. The Christmas Chronicles is at once an action-packed adventure, an inspiring story of commitment and faith, and a moving love story.

It all starts in 1343, when the child Klaus is orphaned and adopted by a craftsmen’s guild. The boy will grow to become a master woodworker with an infectious laugh and an unparalleled gift for making toys. His talent and generosity uniquely equip him to bestow hundreds of gifts on children at Christmas—and to court the delightful Anna, who enters his life on a sleigh driven by the reindeer Dasher and becomes his beloved wife.

Still, all is not snowfall and presents. Klaus will be shadowed by the envious Rolf Eckhof, who will stop at nothing to subvert him. But in the end, Santa’s magic is at last unleashed, flying reindeer come to his aid, and an epic battle between good and evil is waged in the frosty Christmas skies.

By turns enchanting, hair-raising, and inspirational, The Christmas Chronicles is a beguiling tale destined to become a holiday favorite for the ages.

Wow, and wow! I collect Christmas books and each year I get one or two new ones. This one is definitely going to become one of my favorites.

Tim Slover has taken the legend of Santa Claus and made it wonderful and believable. There are magical elements which are absolutely necessary when writing about Christmas and Santa Claus, but there are also Christian elements and references to the birth of Jesus Christ, which is why we celebrate Christmas. These elements are woven together seamlessly.

Klaus' story is charming. In his and Anna's relationship, we see a strong, committed marriage. Their love for the children of the world and their love and belief in Christmas is tangible. There are some deeper elements that make an adult/YA Christmas story, rather than a children's book. However, it's also a story about good vs. evil, and it's a story about charity and love.

Definitely recommended. 

Thanks to Cheryl from Pump Up Your Book Promotion for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Tim Slover here.  You can see more tour stops and reviews here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 12/10

* * * * *
5/5 Stars

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Path Less Traveled...Review

About the book:
Trish James is tired of being rescued. When a spooked horse claims her husband's life, she’s determined to blaze a path for herself and her traumatized son without outside help. But will that mean leaving the place etched on her heart?

Andy Tyler has had to struggle for everything, and starting a new law practice in Miller's Creek, Texas is no different. Though prepared for business challenges, he's not prepared for falling in love--especially with yet another woman who will probably abandon him for her career.

Will Andy and Trish be able to see past their limited human understanding to take a path less traveled?

Like the first book in the Miller's Creek series, Texas Roads, I enjoyed this story.  It's engaging and each time I set it down, I wanted to get back to it.  I liked Trish, but found myself annoyed at times with her pride and stubborn, pathological refusal to accept help from anyone.   Andy is a sweetheart and has a troubled past and I wished for more details about him.  In fact, I wished for more details about everyone.  Things are said or instances happen and then we're kind of left hanging at times, waiting for some closure, which isn't always important, but can be niggling.

This is a story about faith and finding oneself and understanding the role God not only plays in our lives, but how he directs our paths.  A thoughtful, engaging read and one I can recommend.

A Path Less Traveled is a sequel to Texas Roads, and follows Steve's sister Trish.  While the story stands alone, it is helpful to have read the first book, just for the background on the characters.  I look forward to more from the Miller's Creek series.

Thanks to First Wildcard and Cathy Bryant for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Cathy Bryant here.  You can read the first chapter here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 11/10

* * *
3/5 Stars

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Photo used with permission from Rosehaven Cottage.

1: the act of giving thanks
2: a prayer expressing gratitude
3: a public acknowledgment or celebration of divine goodness

"To express gratitude is gracious and honorable, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live with gratitude ever in our hearts is to touch heaven."  --Thomas S. Monson

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Winter Bloom...Review...DNF

About the book:
There would be tunnels of roses, beds of strawberries, fountains of overflowing herbs. And there might even be love...

In the heart of bustling modern Dublin is a littered, overgrown garden of tangled weeds and a stagnant, hidden pond. Belonging to an iron-willed elderly lady named Mrs. Prendergast, who is rumored to have murdered and buried her husband there, the garden draws Eva Madigan, a young mother struggling to move on from the pain of her past. Eva is joined by Emily, a beautiful but withdrawn college dropout; Uri, an old-world immigrant; Seth, his all-too-handsome son; and occasionally even Mrs. Prendergast herself. But what drives Eva to transform the neglected urban wilderness? What makes the others want to help her? Even as Mrs. Prendergast puts the land up for sale, the thorny lives of all the gardeners are revealed and slowly start to untangle. Overgrown secrets are dug up and shared. Choices are made; a little pruning is in order. Now Eva is about to discover that every garden is a story of growth toward a final harvest...

It's a story of friendship and how care for an abandoned garden brings people together, which is a terrific premise.  It just wasn't a book I could get into.  I didn't find the characters particularly likeable and, ultimately, there wasn't anything to motivate me to finish it.

The book contains prolific and unnecessary use of the F-word.

Thanks to Simon & Shuster for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Tara Heavey here.  You can purchase your own copy here.  You can find other, positive reviews at Bookalicious Babe, Frugal Plus, and Novel Chatter.

Read 11/10

1/5 Stars

Monday, November 22, 2010


About the book:
Esther Lange doesn’t love her fiancé—she’s trapped in an engagement after a mistaken night of passion.

Still, she grieves him when he’s lost in battle, the letters sent to her by the medic at his side giving her a strange comfort, so much that she strikes up a correspondence with Peter Hess, an Iowa farmboy. Or is he? Peter Hess is not who he seems. Indeed, he’s hiding a secret, something that could cost them both their lives, especially when the past comes back to life. A bittersweet love song of the home front war between duty and the heart...a battle where only one will survive.

Don’t miss book 1 in this stand-alone collection, Sons of Thunder.

Esther must live with the consequences of a one-night stand.  While she loves her daughter, she doesn't love her fiance and living with his parents is a nightmare.  When a letter arrives that leads Esther to believe that Linus has been killed, she begins to correspond with the medic who cared for him.  As Esther and Peter fall in love, they must face the realities of war and the knowledge that the secrets they keep from each other could separate them forever. 

This one kept me on my toes.  I loved Esther and Peter.  The story is historically rich, and I had no idea German POWs were housed in America during World War 2.  A fascinating and entertaining story.

Thanks to Litfuse Publicity for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Susan May Warren here.  You can purchase your own copy here.  You can see other reviews and tour stops here.

Read 11/10

* * * *
4/5 Stars