Everyday Tidbits...

Be Kind. Do Good. Love is a Verb.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


About the book:
First-time author Shelley Malcolm announces the Second Edition of her non-fiction book, Real, now available in hardcover. Malcolm delivers a remarkable work of inspiration with 60 biographical stories, each illustrated by a captivating photo by professional photographer Terilee Dawn Ouimette. The stories are deeply revealing, while the photos are anonymous, focusing only on each subject’s hands. Research for the coffee table-style book was accomplished through a series of interviews and photo shoots, with subjects ranging from adolescent to elderly, from former gangster to humble homeless, international refugee to hero-housewife, from pro athlete to Hollywood celebrity.

Focusing on her subjects’ hands instead of their faces allows Malcolm’s subjects to share more freely about their lives, tragedies, hopes, dreams, loves, and toils. Ouimette displays an uncanny ability to capture each character’s essence on film by depicting one of more sets of hands at work, at play, giving or receiving help. The result shows the genius of the project, the use of anonymity displaying a greater level of intimacy and vulnerability than might have been possible by any other means.

Malcolm states that her inspiration for the book came from a dream with similar images, revealing the beauty in imperfections in a person’s hands. “The hand image is made beautiful by the life behind it,” she explains. “More anonymous than a face or even eyes which show identity and emotion, our hands portray our work, our affection, scars…even our mistakes.”

According to photographer Ouimette, “People can feel even more connected to photographs of hands than faces. There is a little bit of mystery to each one – allowing the reader to visually connect with the inspiring story.”

Confronting the importance of status and beauty in our society, Real honestly unveils the life stories of remarkable individuals through moving images and stories that range from tragic to hopeful to triumphant.

Originally published in March 2011, the book has been popular among widely diverse groups including youth and teens, women, parents and grandparents, men between the ages of 35 – 65, craftsmen, surgeons, hand, massage and physical therapists and many others.

People say that faces are the most telling, but I think a person's hands are even more so.  In a person's hands, we see experiences and skills, strength and warmth.  We feel comforted when hands are placed on our heads or shoulders.  We feel loved when that special someone takes us by the hand or when a small child grasps it and looks up trustingly.   Shelley Malcolm and Terilee Ouimette have created a lovely tribute to people in their book, Real.  They showcase ordinary, every day people who have amazing stories to share and they do it with first names, honest text and photographs of each person's hands.

This is, quite simply, a gorgeous, thoughtful book.  The photographs alone are beautiful, but when coupled with moving, often poignant text, the book becomes heartfelt and extraordinary.  This is a book that would make a wonderful gift.

One of the best things about this book, as well, is that 100% of the proceeds from book sales go to support the work of several charities. It is a gift that gives a gift.  You can learn more about that here.

Thanks to Christen at Litfuse Publicity for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Shelley Malcolm here.  You can purchase your own copy here.  You can see other reviews and tour stops here.

Read 12/12

* * * * *
5/5 Stars

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

CHICKtionary: From A-Line to Z-Snap, the Words Every Woman Should Know...Review

Your bestie, biffle, and GMF rolled into one!

You’re all over the definitions of “low lights,” “ruching,” and a “tankini.” But can you spot a “Mrs. Potato Head” when you see one?

That’s where The CHICKtionary comes in. The CHICKtionary is a humorous dictionary of the words and phrases women use—and what they really mean when they use them. The book corrals more than 450 terms, including some you know (uterus) and some you might not (flexting), and defines each from the perspective of a typical contemporary woman—a woman who avoids accidental pageant hair, is frenemies with her robotic vacuum and only occasionally relies on her high-waisted jeans to hold up her strapless bra.

Ask any man and he will tell you that women have a language all their own.  It's true.  There are issues related to being female that are universal and understood by women of all ages, nationalities, creeds, races, whatever.  You don't have to be bosom friends or even speak the same language to understand when another woman says to you, "Does this make me look fat?".  This was probably my most favorite definition:

Does This Make Me Look Fat? (phrase)
A seemingly straightforward yet treacherous question that requires different responses depending on the gender of the person to whom it is addressed. When asked of a male, the reply must be a swift and emphatic, “No!” Ideally, this will be followed immediately with glowing modifiers such as, “You look hot!” and “Are you kidding? You need to gain a few pounds, hon!” When asked of a female, an honest response is acceptable, provided it is couched in camouflage comments that blame the unflattering appearance on the hateful designer, lousy dressing room lighting, and/or cheap construction of the offending garment.

Seriously a funny book.  I don't know that it's one you'd sit down and read cover to cover, but it's one that is hysterically funny to read in snatches.  It would make a terrific gift for the girlfriend with a healthy sense of humor.

Many of the topics and definitions are mature (definitely a PG-13+ rating), but I found nothing profane or inappropriately vulgar. Rather, many definitions were straightforward. I found myself educated and enlightened at times as there were many words that I didn't know.  This is just a funny book and one that will have you nodding in understanding and laughing out loud.

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

Monday, November 14th:  Life in Review
Tuesday, November 15th:  Amused by Books
Thursday, November 17th:  Reviews from the Heart
Friday, November 18th:  Chick Lit Reviews
Monday, November 21st:  I Am A Reader, Not A Writer – author Q&A
Wednesday, November 23rd:  The Betty and Boo Chronicles
Friday, November 25th:  Melody & Words
Monday, November 28th:  Silver and Grace
Thursday, December 1st:  Chick Lit is Not Dead
Friday, December 2nd:  Overstuffed
Monday, December 5th:  Silver and Grace – author guest post
Monday, December 5th:  A Musing Reviews
Tuesday, December 6th:  Peeking Between the Pages
Wednesday, December 7th:  Peeking Between the Pages - author guest post
Thursday, December 8th:  Sara’s Organized Chaos
Monday, December 12th:  Write Meg!
Tuesday, December 13th:  Suko’s Notebook
Wednesday, December 14th:  She is Too Fond of Books - Spotlight on Bookstores
Thursday, December 15th:  Life… with Books
Friday, December 16th:  Colloquium - author guest post
Monday, December 19th:  A Chick Who Reads
Tuesday, December 20th:  2 Kids and Tired

Read 12/11

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Christmas Singing...Preview

About the book:
After Gideon coldly broke her heart, can the warmth of the season revive Mattie’s hopes?

Mattie thought her childhood sweetheart adored her until he abruptly ended their engagement on Christmas Eve.

Three years later, will learning the truth behind his rejection restore her Christmas joy – or open the door to even deeper heartbreak?

Spend Christmas with the Amish in this story of love, romance, heartache, and restoration.

Read the first chapter here:
The Christmas Singing (Chapter 1 Excerpt)

The Outer Edge of Heaven...Review

About the book:
Montana truly is heavenly. Especially those handsome cowboys.

Her parents want a clout wielding attorney, safely enthroned in an appropriately high end Mercedes sedan and a tailored business suit.

She just wants to teach kindergarten.

When her “all-powerful” parents actually choose her future husband, who just happens to be a divorce lawyer named Elroy, Charlie opts out and heads for Big Sky Country. After all, who marries a divorce lawyer? She and her best friend Fo, who have been buddies since the third grade, go to work on his cousin’s sprawling ranch in the heart of the Montana Rockies.
Filled with colorful characters of all shapes, sizes and species, including an orphaned baby pig, most of the Langston family put the fun in dysfunctional, -give or take a couple of black sheep. There’s one in every family, isn’t there? Add to that glorious scenery, a horse of her own, and one extremely attractive cousin rancher, Luke Langston, and it makes for a summer never to be forgotten. Which might not be a good thing. She has the time of her life, but her heart may never recover.

Charlie has difficult parents who want to run her life.  Instead of returning home after graduation, she travels to Montana with her best friend, Fo, and obtains a job working on his uncle's ranch.  She finds herself attracted to his cousin, at odds with his uncle's wife and trying to avoid unwanted attention from other men around the ranch.

Charlie was just too good to be true. She arrives in Montana and within a day has Luke's entire family just eating out of her hand.  She solves all the children's behavior problems, reconciles Luke with his dad, helps a young woman decide on adoption, and it goes on and on.  Her parents are ridiculous and unbelievable.

There are a lot of topics covered in the Outer Edge of Heaven and it's almost too much.   The LDS elements are scarce to the point that they seem like afterthoughts, rather than something that should be intrinsic to an LDS novel.  For example, Luke's dad is on the high council and yet his third wife is openly unfaithful with little plausible explanation about how they came to be married in the first place.  Charlie's parents' obsessions with status and society and running their daughter's life and arranging her marriage didn't mesh with LDS values of temple marriage and family.

I think Jaclyn Hawkes has a lot of potential and these characters had a great deal of promise. I enjoyed her first novel A Journey of Honor and looked forward to reading The Outer Edge of Heaven. Unfortunately, this one didn't have the same appeal and I would have loved to see this story after it had been more developed and edited.

Thanks to the author for sending me an unsolicited copy.  You can learn more about Jaclyn M. Hawkes here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 12/11

* *
2/5 Stars

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Cold River...Review

About the book:
Mandy Steenburg thinks her doctorate in education has prepared her to run any school district - until she tangles with the moonshine-making, coon-dog-owning denizens of a tiny district in Pacific Northwest timber country. She's determined to make a difference, but the local populace still looks to the former superintendent for leadership. When Mandy lands in the middle of an old feud and someone keeps trying to kill her, instinct tells her to run. And though she has to literally swim through perilous waters, she finds a reason to stay and chance the odds.

Mandy leaves Albuquerque for the Pacific Northwest and a school superintendent position.  When she arrives, she finds a classic small town with southern roots and a tight community that doesn't welcome outsiders and doesn't welcome her.  As she discovers the reasons why her arrival was not eagerly anticipated, she wonders how she'll ever break through the barriers. Determined, she decides to stay and finds unexpected friendship and romance, even as an unknown assailant wants her dead.

Cold River was an entertaining read, but something was just missing for me and I had a hard time taking the premise seriously.  I liked it, I didn't love it. There are some great, quirky characters, but I would have liked to see more depth and back story.  Liz Adair has created some terrific characters and they deserved to have more fleshed out details in their stories.

I haven't read Liz Adair before, but I would definitely read more of her books in the future.  Even with my frustrations with the story, this is a light, entertaining, wholesome read and a nice diversion and one I can easily recommend.

Thanks to Tristi Pinkston Book Tours for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Liz Adair here. You can see other reviews and tour stops below:

December 1:

December 2:

December 3:

December 5:

December 6:

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December 8:

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December 10:

December 12:

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December 27:

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Read 12/11

* * *
3/5 Stars

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Wedding Invitation...Review...DNF

About the book:
After returning home from teaching English at a refugee camp in the Philippines, Samantha Bravencourt enjoys her quiet life working at her mother's clothing boutique in Falls Church, Virginia. When she receives an invitation to a wedding in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, she looks forward to reconnecting with her college friend. Instead her life collides with Carson, a fellow teacher and the man who broke her heart, and a young Amerasian refugee named Lien who needs Samantha and Carson's help to find her mother before Lien's own wedding. When the search for Lien's mother reveals surprising secrets from the past, Samantha must reevaluate her own memories and decide whether to continue to play it safe or take a risk that could change her life.

I really don't like first person and I really don't like first person present tense.  I know there are some who think it more dramatic or real, but it annoys me.  I can often look past it, but not here.  Part of that, too, was that I just couldn't find a reason to keep reading.  I didn't like Samantha, I couldn't believe her relationship with Carson.  There was nothing in this story that compelled me to keep reading.  Fans of Alice J. Wisler will love it, but it wasn't for me.  This is the second of her books that I've tried to read and I think it will be the last.  There are authors you connect with and authors you don't and this is one that just doesn't work for me.

Thanks to Bethany House for the opportunity to review this.  You can learn more about Alice J. Wisler here.

Read 12/11

1/5 Stars

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pumpkin Roll...Review

About the book:
Sadie Hoffmiller is looking forward to spending her favorite baking season of the year making delicious New England recipes in Boston, Massachusetts, with her favorite leading man, Pete Cunningham, as they babysit his three young grandsons. But when the boys insist that Mrs. Wapple, the woman who lives across the street, is a witch, Sadie and Pete are anxious to distract the boys from such Halloween-induced ideas. However, it gets harder and harder to explain the strange things that keep happening, particularly after Sadie learns the eccentric Mrs. Wapple has been attacked in her home.

As the unexplained occurrences escalate, Sadie finds herself embroiled in yet another mystery with life-or-death consequences. Can Sadie discover whoever—or whatever—is behind the mystery before anyone else gets hurt? Or will this be Sadie’s last case?

Sadie's back!  She has accompanied Pete to Boston where they are caring for his grandsons while his son and daughter in law are away.  Sadie relishes the role of pseudo-grandma and having new people to cook for.  When the boys start talking about their weird neighbor and are convinced she's a witch, Sadie sets out to take her some cookies and prove them wrong.  Faster than she can say "Whoopie Pie", Sadie finds herself once again involved in an investigation.

This installment of Josi's culinary mystery series is more Halloween themed with potential ghosts and unexplained events. I loved learning more about Pete and his history and I wish Shawn would play a more major role in these books.  He's such a great character.   I also must say that I don't like Jane at all. I'm getting tired of her antics and I hope that she can finally be finished and put away.

While I didn't like this one quite as much as the others in the series, I still love Sadie and enjoyed her latest adventure.  I can't wait for the next one.

Thanks to my local bookstore that had a copy I could purchase.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 11/11

* * *
3/5 Stars

Monday, December 5, 2011

Wonderland Creek...Review

About the book:
Alice Grace Ripley lives in a dream world, her nose stuck in a book. But the happily-ever-after life she's planned on suddenly falls apart when her boyfriend, Gordon, breaks up with her, accusing her of living in a world of fiction instead of the real world. Then to top it off, Alice loses her beloved job at the library because of cutbacks due to the Great Depression.

Fleeing small-town gossip, Alice heads to the mountains of eastern Kentucky to deliver five boxes of donated books to a library in the tiny coal-mining village of Acorn. Dropped off by her relatives, Alice volunteers to stay for two weeks to help the librarian, Leslie McDougal.

But the librarian turns out to be far different than she anticipated--not to mention the four lady librarians who travel to the remote homes to deliver the much-desired books. When Alice is trapped in Acorn against her will, she soon finds that real-life adventure and mystery--and especially romance--are far better than her humble dreams could have imagined.

I like Lynn Austin and I love stories about bookish women.  Wonderland Creek sounded fantastic and I was excited to read it.  And while I did enjoy the story, it didn't quite live up to my expectation.  I liked Alice for the most part, but I couldn't quite believe she was as clueless as she was made out to be.  Reading a book during a funeral, simply because it was dull?  I'm sorry.  I love books, and I can guarantee that I usually have a book in my bag at all times.  However, I would never, ever, pull it out during a funeral and read.

Alice's adventure in Acorn, Kentucky brings many quirky characters into her life and I loved Mac and Lillie.  She also finds herself having experiences she could never have imagined.  Overall, the premise is a bit implausible, but it's also compelling and you want to finish the book to find out what really happens.

I found the historical aspect of packhorse librarians fascinating.  To make books available to those who lived away from town or in the back hollows of America is a relief program I could support.

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

Read 11/11

* * *
3/5 Stars

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Maman's Homesick Pie...Giveaway Winner

Thanks to random.org, the winner of the Maman's Homesick Pie Giveaway is:

Anne at The Book Garden!

I've already received her mailing information. Thanks to all who entered! 

Beyond All Measure...Giveaway Winner!

Thanks to random.org, the winner of the Beyond All Measure Giveaway is:

I've already received her mailing information. Thanks to all who entered! 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Merry Christmas Stories...Review

About the book:
Merry Christmas Stories is a collection of 25 Christmas tales that emphasize the value of Christmas love and laughter. These short stories will make you laugh, smile and just feel good about this magical time of year. These delightful stories, written in a variety of genres, all reflect Christmas love, hope and charity.

A firm believer in the power and importance of laughter, Spalsbury employs humor in his books and hopes the stories will provide some Christmas cheer for all who read them. The stories represent a variety of genres ranging from the traditional to romance to science fiction.

There are stories of adventure along with humor, unexpected surprises, romance and poignant moments. These are feel-good stories, to uplift your spirit and to leave you with a smile or a warm feeling. Just the way Christmas should feel.

Merry Christmas Stories is a delightful compilation of short Christmas vignettes.  It can easily be read in a couple of sittings or you can just sit down and read one or two at a time. These stories span a broad range of genres and a variety of settings.  Most are about every day people who have remarkable experiences and learn valuable lessons.  I loved the story of Tiny and the Bear.  Such a sweet tale and one that I wish was longer.  And Nick Tracer?  What a great character.  I loved his story and I'd love to see Jeff write a book just about and his detective adventures.

I love Christmas and I love Christmas stories.  I have collected Christmas books for years and I love bringing them out and re-reading my favorite stories year after year.  Merry Christmas Stories is a book that will become one of those that I re-read each year.

Thanks to Lisa at TLC Book Tours.  You can learn more about Jeff Spalsbury here.  You can purchase your own copy here.  You can see other reviews and tour stops here.

Monday, November 21st:  The Road to Here
Tuesday, November 22nd:  Reviews from the Heart
Friday, November 25th:  A Chick Who Reads
Monday, November 28th:  I Am A Reader, Not A Writer - Q&A/giveaway
Wednesday, November 30th:  Cheryl’s Book Nook
Thursday, December 1st:  Life in Review
Friday, December 2nd:  2 Kids and Tired
Monday, December 5th:  Laura’s Reviews
Tuesday, December 6th:  Book Maven’s Blog
Wednesday, December 7th:  My Bookshelf
Thursday, December 8th:  Deb’s Book Bag
Friday, December 9th:  Living Outside the Stacks
Monday, December 12th:  Along the Way
Tuesday, December 13th:  By the Book
Wednesday, December 14th:  Nailing Jello to a Tree
Thursday, December 15th:  Book Reviews by Molly

Read 12/11

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Remembering You...Review

About the book:
Television producer Ava Ellington cannot refuse her grandfather's last wish--that she accompany him to Europe on a tour of World War II battle sites. Ava has little interest in historical battles, but this may be her last chance to break down the barriers that have grown up between them, and she sets off, camera in hand, ready to record and report on their journey. She and Grandpa Jack are greeted in Paris by Paul, her grandpa's best friend, and his grandson Dennis. The Dennis who just happens to be Ava's first love. 

History comes alive as the group travels across Europe--from the romantic sights of Paris to the bleak battlefields of Belgium to the Austrian labor camp these men liberated so many years before--and Ava sees a side of her grandfather she's never known before. As he shares his memories of those bitter days on the battlefield, she begins to understand how his experiences in the war made him the man he is today. Throughout the journey, Ava and Dennis are drawn together in ways neither of them expected. Can their memories of the past lead to a bright new future?

I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this book.  I say that because I haven't completely enjoyed Tricia Goyer's books in the past, but the topic of World War 2 is one that fascinates me and I was game to give Tricia another chance.  I'm so glad I did.

Ava loves her job as a television producer, but a broken engagement has wreaked havoc with her life and purpose.  When her mother asks that Ava accompany her beloved grandfather on a trip to Europe to revisit areas that he was instrumental in liberating during the war, she can't refuse.  Once in Europe, and after meeting her grandfather's best friend, Ava discovers that her first love, Dennis, is also accompanying his grandfather.  Excited at the chance to document the trip and use the footage to boost her show's ratings, Ava steps on a lot of toes before she learns her lesson about what is truly important in life and relationships.

I enjoyed the historical aspect of the novel and the reminiscing that the two grandfathers share.  And, although a bit prickly to begin with, Ava grew on me and I enjoyed discovering what would happen with her relationship with Dennis.

Tricia includes an extensive author's note where she documents and shares her research and information.  First-hand interviews with WW2 veterans are the best way to learn about what really happened in the trenches and front lines of Germany, France and Belgium.

An enthralling, enjoyable historical read and one I easily recommend.

Thanks to Christen at Litfuse Publicity for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Tricia Goyer here.  You can purchase your own copy here.  You can see other reviews and tour stops here.

Read 11/11

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Monday, November 28, 2011

Don't Sing at the Table: Life Lessons from My Grandmothers...Giveaway Winner!

Thanks to random.org, the winner of the Don't Sing at the Table: Life Lessons from My Grandmothers Giveaway is:

Karen B!

I've already received her mailing information. Thanks to all who entered! Check the sidebar for other, current giveaways.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Doctor's Lady...Review

About the book:
Priscilla White knows she'll never be a wife or mother and feels God's call to the mission field in India. Dr. Eli Ernest is back from Oregon Country only long enough to raise awareness of missions to the natives before heading out West once more. But then Priscilla and Eli both receive news from the mission board: No longer will they send unmarried men and women into the field.

Left scrambling for options, the two realize the other might be the answer to their needs. Priscilla and Eli agree to a partnership, a marriage in name only that will allow them to follow God's leading into the mission field. But as they journey west, this decision will be tested by the hardships of the trip and by the unexpected turnings of their hearts.

Eli and Priscilla want to be missionaries.  He wants to go to the frontiers of Oregon and she to India.  When the missionary board rejects their applications, they reluctantly marry in order to serve and Priscilla agrees to give up her quest for India and travel to Oregon with Eli.

I will admit to finding the premise a bit implausible: that this man and woman who barely knew each other, would marry for convenience simply so they could be missionaries.  But, the story was compelling and quickly drew me in.  Priscilla and Eli were characters I grew to care about.  Their travels from New York to Oregon by wagon train were difficult and arduous, but very true to life.  Yet, as they journey, faith in God and a growing love and faith in each other shows them that anything is possible.  I enjoyed reading their story and seeing the growth in themselves and their relationship.

I also enjoyed the author's note that shared the true life inspiration for the novel.  I liked, but didn't love Jody's first novel, The Preacher's Bride, but I thoroughly enjoyed The Doctor's Lady.

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

Read 11/11

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Remembering Christmas...Review

About the book:
Rick Denton lives his life on his terms. He works hard, plays hard, and answers to no one. So when his mother calls on Thanksgiving weekend begging him to come home after his stepfather has a stroke, Rick is more than a little reluctant. He's never liked Art and resents the man's presence in his life, despite the fact that his own father abandoned the family when Rick was just twelve. When what was supposed to be just a couple days helping out at the family bookstore turns into weeks of cashing out old ladies and running off the homeless man who keep hanging about, Rick's attitude sours even more.

Still, slowly but surely, the little bookstore and its quirky patrons--as well as the lovely young woman who works at his side each day--work their magic on him, revealing to Rick the truth about his family, his own life, and the true meaning of Christmas. With skillful storytelling, Dan Walsh creates a Christmas story will have readers remembering every good and perfect gift of Christmas.

Rick Denton is a fairly selfish man.  He's pulled away from his family and from God.  When his step-father suffers an aneurysm and his mother asks him to come home to tend their little bookstore, Rick is unenthusiastic and more than a bit resentful.  Yet, he comes and he finds himself drawn to Andrea, the other store employee and her young daughter.  And, as he comes to know his mother and step-father again, he begins to see not only them, but mostly himself, in a very different light.  As he discovers secrets from his past and learns answers to questions he wasn't sure he had, Rick discovers that God does know who he is and what he needs in his life.

Christmas is magic and it's often a time when hearts soften and forgiveness is given.  People are more likely to be in a giving mood and when you give, you receive so much more in return and I think you're more susceptible to true reason for the Christmas season, that of celebrating the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Dan Walsh is a terrific storyteller and he's captured that magic and written a warm, captivating, comfortable Christmas novel.

I love Christmas.  I love Christmas stories and collect them, so I'm always excited to find new ones each year. Remembering Christmas is one that I will gladly add to my ever growing collection.

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

Read 11/11

* * * * *
4/5 Stars

Monday, November 14, 2011

Hope Underground: The Chilean Miners and Their Story of Faith and Miracles...Review

About the book:
"God has never left us down here"
Thirty–three miners – trapped beneath the Chilean desert. _their situation, at first, seemed hopeless. Yet instead of abandoning hope, the miners, their families, communities of faith, the Chilean government and rescue workers united in an effort to achieve the impossible. What drove these people to defy failure and persevere against all odds? How did a small, white butterfly, a wayward probe, and a '34th miner' all play a significant role in the unfolding of this incredible story? While most reports of this stirring drama focus on what human effort can achieve, Hope Underground reveals the spiritual nature of the miners' experience, highlighting amazing details of how God's providence turned a potential tragedy into the most successful mining rescue of all time.

I don't think there are many people who didn't follow the saga of the miners trapped in a Chilean mine, and there are even fewer who didn't watch their miraculous rescue.  But, what happened to them while they were in the mine, and what happened to their families and the community who held a vigil outside the mine entrance?

Carlos Parra Diaz, a pastor who became the Chaplain of Camp Hope, shares his story of what happened.  Pastor Diaz went to the mine to help the people, to pray for them.  He soon found himself in the unofficial position of camp chaplain.  He came to know the families of the miners and the politicians who came and went from Camp Hope.  Once communication with the miners was established, Pastor Diaz was instrumental in sending 33 tiny Bibles down to the miners, to help sustain their faith.

There were some language and sentence structure issues that were simply due to differences in translation and were fairly easy to overlook.  The book is a terrific account of an amazing 10 weeks.  The Camp Hope community was a community in every sense of the word.  People who came together during a crisis to sustain and help one another.  Truly amazing.  Pastor Diaz shares a straight-forward, honest narrative, and shows us that God is indeed aware of His children and hears our prayers.

Thanks to Audra Jennings of the B&B Media Group for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Carlos Parra Diaz here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 11/11

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Lasting Impression...Review

A fake. A forger. More than anything, Claire Laurent longs for the chance to live an authentic life, to become the woman she wants to be. And she'll be given that choice. But will it come at too costly a price?

Claire Laurent's greatest aspiration is to paint something that will bring her acclaim. Yet her father insists she work as a copyist. A forger. When she's forced to flee from New Orleans to Nashville only a year after the War Between the States has ended, her path collides with attorney Sutton Monroe. She considers him a godsend for not turning her in to the authorities. But after he later refuses to come to her aid, Claire fears she's sorely misjudged the man. Finding herself among the elite of Nashville's society, Claire believes her dream to create a lasting impression in the world of art is within reach--but only if her fraudulent past remains hidden.

The Federal Army has destroyed Sutton's home and confiscated his land, and threatens to destroy his family's honor. His determination to reclaim what belongs to him and to right a grievous wrong reveals a truth that may cost him more than he ever imagined--as well as the woman he loves.Set at Nashville's historic Belmont Mansion, a stunning antebellum manor built by Mrs. Adelicia Acklen, A Lasting Impression is a sweeping love story about a nation mending after war, the redemption of those wounded, and the courage of a man and woman to see themselves--and each other--for who they really are.

A talented artist, Claire Laurent is forced to work as a copyist who forges famous paintings, when she only desires to paint her own work.  When her father's illicit occupation forces her to flee her New Orleans home, she finds herself adrift in post-Civil War Nashville.  A chance encounter with Sutton Monroe leads her to a position in the home of the city's most prominent women.

Claire adapts to her new role and her new life and as she finds herself falling in love with Sutton, she worries that her past will come between them.  I loved the setting:  post-Civil War Nashville, the world of art and the Belmont Mansion.  Claire's story is both richly elegant and humbly redeeming and Sutton is a dashing, yet very mortal hero.  This is a charming, engaging novel and one I was sad to see end.

I've read Tamera Alexander before and didn't completely love what I read then.  But, A Lasting Impression sounded terrific and the cover was gorgeous.  I had to read it simply for that.  I'm so pleased that the book lived up to my expectations.  It appears to be the first in a series and I look forward to more Belmont Mansion stories.

Thanks to Amy at Litfuse Publicity for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Tamera Alexander here.  You can purchase your own copy here.  You can see other reviews and tour stops here.

Read 11/11

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Three Trees...Review

About the book:
Three forest trees dream of what they will one day become. One dreams of becoming a royal throne; one of being a ship that can withstand any storm; and one longs to stay in the forest and grow as tall as tall can be. When they are felled, it seems their dreams are over. But as each tree is crafted into a new item - a manger, a fishing boat, and a rugged cross - it becomes clear that through the role they play in one important life their hopes are more than fulfilled. This traditional folktale is accompanied by stylish artwork from a highly sought-after children's book illustrator, and will help set the Christmas and Easter stories into the overall context of the Christian faith.

This is one of my favorite stories and one I always read at Christmas.  This retelling is illustrated in a rich folk style. While not my most favorite style of art, it's still a gorgeous book. The story is short and concise and perfect to share with any age.

I collect Christmas books and we read them all season long. Our family tradition, dating back to when I was a girl, is to read our favorite stories on Christmas Eve.  We each choose a story and read it aloud and then we finish with reading the birth of Jesus from the Bible.  It's one of my favorite parts of the Christmas season and is the perfect way to usher in Christmas.  This little book will go into my collection, to be read each Christmas season.

I think it would make a lovely gift as well.

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

Read 11/11

* * * *
4/5 Stars

The Christmas Shoppe...Review

About the book:
The small town of Parrish Springs is not quite ready for Matilda Honeycutt. A strange woman with scraggly hair and jewelry that jangles as she walks, Matilda keeps busy stocking and arranging her new shop on the town's quaint and lovely Main Street. When rumors start to fly about what might be going on behind the papered-up windows and the locked door, the image-conscious residents start looking for a way to get this woman and her wares out of their town before Christmas.

But Matilda Honeycutt has a little something for each one of them sitting on those cluttered shelves, just waiting to be discovered.

Last year, I really enjoyed Melody Carlson's Christmas novella, Christmas at Harrington's and so I was excited to see a new one from her this year.  The Christmas Shoppe was just as charming.

New city manager Susanna Elton is still trying to get her bearings when Matilda Honeycutt shows up and purchases a prime storefront.  An angry councilman wanted the building and is determined to see Matilda run out of town.  As Susanna and Tommy Thompson, newspaper editor, try to uncover Matilda's secrets, they discover much more than a store full of odds and ends.  It's not long before Matilda's magic manages to touch the entire town in one way or another.

A charming Christmas novella about finding oneself and purpose in life.  With subtle Christian themes of forgiveness and love, this is a sweet Christmas story.  It's short and easily read in one or two sittings, perfect for relaxing by the fire.

Thanks to Donna Hausler of Baker Publishing for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Melody Carlson here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 9/11

* * * *
4/5 Stars