Everyday Tidbits...

Be Kind. Do Good. Love is a Verb.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

All Diets Work...Review by the Doctor

About the book:
So many of us run around searching (unsuccessfully) for the magic diet pill, gimmick, or claim that will finally help us shed unwanted weight. We fall prey to countless claims (and schemes) that suck our wallets dry, while leaving us more disappointed than ever.

All Diets Work will help you debunk fad-diet claims and peel away the hype and fancy packaging. It will help you identify your own strengths so you can build your personal arsenal of weight-loss tools that truly work for you today, tomorrow, and for the rest of your life.

This is one of those books that I wish I had owned while I was in school. It would have saved me many mind numbing hours of nutrition class, listening to a somewhat disgruntled professor drone on at a bunch of students that she felt were beneath her.

This book is full of great nutritional tips, and is a fantastic starter for anybody who has realized that they need to learn more about where their nutrition is coming from, but are overwhelmed by all of the hype and misinformation scattered like potholes on the information superhighway (and how long has it been since you have heard anybody use that phrase?).

Along with great nutritional advice, there are also wonderful tools that you can use to create your own weight loss lifestyle, along with stories from people who have been there and made it happen (which is always my favorite part of this kind of a book, seeing people who have actually taken the advice given, put into action and made lasting changes in their lives).

The only area of this book that I would like to see expanded in future revisions are aspects dealing with the psychology of weight loss. As a doctor who treats people every day, I have never had an obese patient come in and be blown away by the sudden realization that they are fat. Anybody who struggles with their weight knows that they need to make a change, and getting them to a place where they can psychologically make the change is the hardest part of the battle.

I would highly recommend this book. My editor tells me that I have to have a rating system, so I would give this 4/5 stars, which is generally my highest rating anyway. I am such a nit-picking perfectionist that trying to find a book that gets five out of five is practically impossible.

Thanks to Tristi Pinkston and Jen Brewer for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Jen Brewer here.  You can purchase your own copy here.  You can see other reviews here:

August 22nd: http://www.ldswbr.com
August 24th: http://www.writinginberlin.blogspot.com/
August 25th: http://ldwmagazine.com/
August 26th: http://crane-ium.blogspot.com/
August 29th: http://cmichellejefferies.blogspot.com/
August 30th: http://overbackyardfence.blogspot.com/
August 31st: http://2kidsandtiredbooks.blogspot.com
September 1st: http://www.deanneblackhurst.blogspot.com
September 6th: http://debbiesinkspectations.blogspot.com/
September 9th: http://mariahoagland.blogspot.com
September 12th: http://www.writing4me2.blogspot.com/
September 16th: http://www.rebeccablevinswrites.blogspot.com/

Read 8/11

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Monday, August 29, 2011

How Do People Find My Blog, part 5?

 It's been 8 months 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 Books.

tired two yrs after 2nd kid... Honey, I'm tired and it's been 10 years since my second and last kid!

she has thick lips to be popular fiction...Um, ok?  Whatever you say...

kids facts about dinosaurs...My 10 year old is the expert.  I seriously believe that there is no dinosaur that he doesn't know about.

naked kid movies...You are sick and twisted and need help.

have 2 kids tired...Me too.  Me too!

girls of insanity workout naked...If you say so.  I'm more comfortable working out while wearing clothes. If I work out...

tiredbook...Ok. Whatever?

spilling kids...Did you have them in a cup or a bowl?  OR did you mean to write  "spoiling kids "? Can't help you with either one. Sorry!

recommend the particular sadness of lemon cake for kids?...Heck, I don't even recommend it for adults.

outlander book sex scenes...There are a lot of sex scenes in Outlander.  Too many for my taste.

examples of ways nuclear energy change form... I have no idea.  My husband would know. I should ask him.  

Mr. Tucket Book Report...You'd better be reading the book yourself and writing your own book report, thank you very much.  Anything else is plagiarism.  Got it, you slacker?

+slash tires +charlotte -nascar -sale..."...it's Nascar, who gives a damn?"  (Two points for the person who can tell me where that quote comes from.)

sample of a summary for Essay for Mr. Tucket...Ok, seriously.  What is it with you people and Mr. Tucket?  Read the book yourself. 

how to put a smile on her face... You really want to know?  Do the dishes, vacuum the floor, fold and put away the laundry. Pour her a big glass of something cold and let her put her feet up for the whole afternoon, undisturbed, with a book.  Then, order take-out, and clean up afterwards.  Then let her have a bubble bath, undisturbed, for as long as she wants.  Then, let her go to sleep, undisturbed.  She'll have a smile on her face the next morning, and if you've done it right, you'll have one on yours that next evening.

You can see other installments of How do People Find My Blog here: Part 4Part 3Part 2Part 1.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Recently Discovered...

I stumbled into some new book blogs this week and just had to share.  One of my favorite joys is discovering new books and new book blogs.

Booktalk & More
Flashlight Commentary
Rhapsody in Books

What are your recently discovered finds?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Amish Values for Your Family...Review

About the book:
For readers who long for strong families that know how to truly enjoy life together, there is much to learn from the Amish. Values like community, forgiveness, simple living, obedience, and more can be your family legacy--without selling your car, changing your wardrobe, or moving out to farm country.

In Amish Values for Your Family, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher shows how you can adopt the wisdom of the Amish when it comes to family matters. In this inspiring and practical book readers will find charming true stories interlaced with solid, biblical advice about parenting, marriage, and all aspects of family life. As readers get an intimate glimpse into the everyday lives of real Amish families, they will learn to prioritize what's truly important, simplify decision-making, slow down as a family, safeguard time together, and let go when the time comes.

That the Amish people have strong families is well known.  Why they have them is what fascinates so many people.  Here, Suzanne Woods Fisher shares the secrets of Amish family life.  Through Amish proverbs, personal stories and anecdotes, Suzanne shows us that everyone of us can incorporate Amish values in our own lives.

As I read this little gem of a book, I thought that much of living life really is so simple.  We tend to make it complicated.  So much of the Amish way of life can be boiled down into one word:  kindness.  They are kind to each other, they care about each other, whether it be family, neighbor or even stranger.  There is respect in these families and in their communities.  I think a little more kindness would go a long way in making our own homes and communities happier and more successful.

This is a book that I will read again and I will have a highlighter and pen with me so I can mark passages and jot down my thoughts.  It's one of the best parenting books I think I've ever read.

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

Read 8/11

* * * * *
5/5 Stars

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Just My Type...Review

A hugely entertaining and revealing guide to the history of type that asks, What does your favorite font say about you?

Fonts surround us every day, on street signs and buildings, on movie posters and books, and on just about every product we buy. But where do fonts come from, and why do we need so many? Who is responsible for the staid practicality of Times New Roman, the cool anonymity of Arial, or the irritating levity of Comic Sans (and the movement to ban it)?

Typefaces are now 560 years old, but we barely knew their names until about twenty years ago when the pull-down font menus on our first computers made us all the gods of type. Beginning in the early days of Gutenberg and ending with the most adventurous digital fonts, Simon Garfield explores the rich history and subtle powers of type. He goes on to investigate a range of modern mysteries, including how Helvetica took over the world, what inspires the seeming ubiquitous use of Trajan on bad movie posters, and exactly why the all-type cover of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus was so effective. It also examines why the "T" in the Beatles logo is longer than the other letters and how Gotham helped Barack Obama into the White House. A must-have book for the design conscious, Just My Type's cheeky irreverence will also charm everyone who loved Eats, Shoots & Leaves and Schott's Original Miscellany.

I've always been fascinated by fonts.  I worked at a national laboratory for 15 years in an administrative capacity.  I created, prepared and edited many papers and presentations.  I also watched in horror as scientists presented PowerPoint presentations filled with every kind of graphic and font imaginable.  (PowerPoint itself is a topic for another book!)  I currently edit the proceedings for an annual scientific conference.  Each year, I receive papers and presentations which were given at this conference.  I assemble, format, edit and prepare this proceedings for publication and I am still amazed at the font choices made by educated men and women as they present their scientific findings and opinions.

I always knew that there was history behind every font, but I had no idea to the extent that some fonts were loved or despised.  Fonts just show up in your computer software, you can download them from multiple places online.  Some fonts are instantly recognizable, even without seeing the actual person, place or product that font represents.  How many of us actually take the time to ponder or think about them?

Simon Garfield has written a fascinating book about the rich history of fonts and printing.  We all have our favorite fonts and in Just My Type Simon shares why certain fonts appeal.  Informative as well as a bit sardonic (I love the Brits), it's a book that can be read in order of chapters, or piecemeal.  An occasional chapter gets bogged down a bit with historical facts, but others are full of cheeky humor.  One cool thing is that the fonts mentioned are printed in the appropriate font type. 

It's easy to see why a book like this would appeal to me and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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

Monday, August 15th:  Melody & Words
Tuesday, August 16th: Mockingbird Hill Cottage
Wednesday, August 17th:  Chaotic Compendiums
Thursday, August 18th:  Books Like Breathing
Monday, August 22nd:  A Home Between Pages
Tuesday, August 23rd:  Steph and Tony Investigate
Wednesday, August 24th:  1330V
Thursday, August 25th:  2 Kids and Tired
Friday, August 26th:  Amused by Books
Monday, August 29th:  Unabridged Chick
Wednesday, August 31st:  Simply Stacie
Thursday, September 1st:  BookNAround
Tuesday, September 6th:  Bibliosue
Wednesday, September 7th:  Man of La Book
Thursday, September 8th:  My Book Retreat
Monday, September 12th:  Lit and Life
Wednesday, September 14th:  In the Pages

Read 8/11

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Becoming Marie Antoinette...Review

About the book:
This enthralling confection of a novel, the first in a new trilogy, follows the transformation of a coddled Austrian archduchess into the reckless, powerful, beautiful queen Marie Antoinette.

Why must it be me? I wondered. When I am so clearly inadequate to my destiny?

Raised alongside her numerous brothers and sisters by the formidable empress of Austria, ten-year-old Maria Antonia knew that her idyllic existence would one day be sacrificed to her mother’s political ambitions. What she never anticipated was that the day in question would come so soon.

Before she can journey from sunlit picnics with her sisters in Vienna to the glitter, glamour, and gossip of Versailles, Antonia must change everything about herself in order to be accepted as dauphine of France and the wife of the awkward teenage boy who will one day be Louis XVI. Yet nothing can prepare her for the ingenuity and influence it will take to become queen.

Filled with smart history, treacherous rivalries, lavish clothes, and sparkling jewels, Becoming Marie Antoinette will utterly captivate fiction and history lovers alike.

Marie Antoinette has always fascinated me.  I was fortunate years ago, to visit Versailles and it was amazing.  The lavish excesses were simply beyond my understanding, but the castle and its grounds were gorgeous.

This story begins with young Austrian archduchess, Maria Antonia as a child.  As was often the case among European royalty, her purpose in life was simply to be a political pawn and marry a king.  When her mother arranges a marriage with the young dauphin of France, she must undergo a tremendous makeover that included 18th century braces and learning how to walk properly in ridiculous skirts.  Then as a young teenager, she is shipped to France and married to an equally young dauphin, Louis Auguste.

Much to her chagrin, Antoinette's life was very open: she had a public marriage and the court's knowledge of her new husband's inability to consummate their marriage.  The dauphin had no desire to be King of France and the novel ends shortly after Louis XVI's ascension to the throne of France.  As it's part of a trilogy, I can't wait for the next installment!

The royal court of France was a hostile, contentious place.  More emphasis was placed on the rules of court than actual political issues themselves.  Life was about who you knew and who you had in your favor.  The young royals were used and manipulated by those who ranked above them, even their own family members.  As Antoinette began to exert her own personality and influence, it was not well received.

Juliet Grey has done her research well and the result is an enthralling, fictionalized account about the Queen of France.  She has captured the essence of the young queen and even though you know the end result of Marie Antoinette's saga, the novel is engrossing.  Narrated in first person through Marie Antoinette's voice, this is a captivating story and one I can easily recommend. 

First in a trilogy, I look forward to the remaining books.

Thanks to Lisa at TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Juliet Grey here.  You can purchase your own copy here.  You can see other reviews on the book tour here.

Monday, August 1st:  Diary of an Eccentric
Wednesday, August 3rd:  Well Read Wife
Thursday, August 4th:  Broken Teepee
Monday, August 8th:  Coffee and a Book Chick
Tuesday, August 9th:  The Maiden’s Court
Wednesday, August 10th:  A Library of My Own
Thursday, August 11th:  Stiletto Storytime
Monday, August 15th:  In the Hammock
Tuesday, August 16th:  Peeking Between the Pages
Wednesday, August 17th:  Laura’s Reviews
Thursday, August 18th:  Unabridged Chick
Monday, August 22nd:  The Broke and the Bookish
Tuesday, August 23rd:  Stephanie’s Written Word
Wednesday, August 24th:  2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews
Monday, August 29th:  Book Reviews by Molly
Wednesday, August 31st:  So Many Precious Books, So Little Time

 Read 7/11

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

How to Love an American Man...Review

About the book:
An endearing and unforgettable memoir of love, self-discovery, and enduring, old-fashioned values.

Kristine Gasbarre made a New York career of dating driven, inaccessible men. When she realizes her love life will never result in happiness if she continues on the same path, she makes a big decision—relocating to Italy to discover her roots and find out what defines her adoring grandpa. But upon receiving the news of his sudden passing, she is lured away.

With nowhere left to go, Krissy returns to her small hometown for the first time in a decade to help care for her grandmother—a refined, private matriarch suffering from early dementia along with the loss of her husband. In her reluctant agreement to share the nearly lost love stories and transformative lessons from her rich sixty-year marriage, Krissy’s grandma becomes the one offering comfort as she coaches her granddaughter through the fear of loving. Grandma’s unapologetic femininity and secret giving spirit opens Krissy’s eyes about relationships, teaching her the single most important requisite for loving a man: first a woman has to learn the power of her own inner beauty.

I have really mixed feelings about this book and how to write the review..  The synopsis and premise for this memoir sounded enthralling and I was anxious to read it, imagining a rich story of maternal family relationships.  Instead, it was shallow and self-serving.

After starting it, I had to force myself to pick it up, as it was very easy to set aside and forget about it.

While this is a memoir, I really didn't like Krissy.  I didn't care about her.  Her time in Italy was almost written as an afterthought and burdened with her obsession over a man.  Her romances and the men in her life were shallow, not inspiring, with her neediness overshadowing everything. I'm a happily married 40 something woman.  Perhaps, if I was single and unmarried, I could have related to Krissy and her romantic frustrations more, but I honestly don't think so, because I was a happy, content and single 29 year old woman when I finally met and married my husband.

As Krissy recounted her grandfather's death, I cried, as it brought back so much of when my father died.  I could relate to Krissy's loss and pain.  I have no doubts that her grandfather was an important figure in her life and I appreciated the relationship she had with her grandmother and her desire to be like her. From her grandma, Krissy learns to appreciate herself and the qualities that make a woman who she is.  That was the best part about the book and its most redeeming feature: Krissy's relationship with her grandmother. 

While not a book I related to, it is one that will resonate with others, and you can see more positive reviews from some of the blogs listed below.

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

Tuesday, August 16th: nomadreader
Wednesday, August 17th: Rundpinne
Thursday, August 18th: Life In Review
Monday, August 22nd: BookNAround
Tuesday, August 23rd: 2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews
Wednesday, August 24th: Library of Clean Reads
Thursday, August 25th: Teresa’s Reading Corner
Monday, August 29th: Crazy for Books
Tuesday, August 30th: StephTheBookworm
Wednesday, August 31st: Books Like Breathing
Thursday, September 1st: Peeking Between the Pages

Read 8/11

* *
2/5 Stars

Monday, August 22, 2011

Blue Skies Tomorrow...Review

About the book:
In a time of peril, can they find the courage to confront their fears and embrace a love that lasts?

When her husband becomes a casualty of the war in the Pacific, Helen Carlisle throws herself into volunteering for the war effort to conceal her feelings. But keeping up appearances as the grieving widow of a hometown hero is taking its toll. Soon something is going to give.

Lt. Raymond Novak prefers the pulpit to the cockpit. His stateside job training B-17 pilots allows him the luxury of a personal life--and a convenient excuse to ignore his deepest fear. When the beautiful Helen catches his eye and captures his heart, he is determined to win her hand.

But when Ray and Helen are called upon to step out in faith and put their reputations and their lives on the line, can they meet the challenges that face them? And can their young love survive until blue skies return?

Filled with drama, daring, and all the romance of the WWII era, Blue Skies Tomorrow is the captivating final book in the popular Wings of Glory series.

When her husband is killed during the war, Helen Carlisle struggles with appearing to be the grieving widow, all while keeping the harrowing secrets about her husband and her marriage.  With controlling in-laws and an out of control toddler, she is torn between duty to a dead man and finding a new life and new love for herself.

Ray has his own fears and demons to conquer and must fly a combat tour in England and leave Helen behind, unsure of their future.

While this installment is about Ray, all three of the Novak brothers play a significant role. We see the conclusions to Allie and Walt's and Jack and Ruth's stories.  With the drama moving between California, England and Germany, this is an exciting, enthralling novel.  Historically it's well researched and the flying/combat scenes are tense and exciting.

One of my favorite things about this series is its Northern California setting.  I grew up in a city about 30 miles south of Antioch, California.  I am familiar with many of the local landmarks in the area and I especially loved the reference to Mt. Diablo!

I have loved the Wings of Glory series and I anxiously awaited the third and final book. I was thrilled to find that Blue Skies Tomorrow did not disappoint me. This is an exciting conclusion to the trilogy and I look forward to more from Sarah Sundin.

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

Read 7/11

* * * * *
5/5 Stars

Friday, August 19, 2011

Ransome's Quest...Review

About the book:
This fast-paced, engaging end to the Ransome Trilogy follows a tale of love and danger on the Caribbean Sea in the early 1800s.

Captain William Ransome is searching for his sister, Charlotte, who has been captured by Salvadore, the infamous 'Robin Hood of the West Indies.' When word comes that his wife, Julia, has been kidnapped by the evil pirate, Shaw, Captain Ransome and his crew frantically search the horizon for the two women he loves. After Charlotte is found, she emerges with revelations about Salvadore's true identity and his willingness to help search for Julia. It's news that sends shockwaves through the family.

Will Captain Ransome trust Salvadore to help rescue his beloved wife? And what other secrets have been buried like long lost treasure in these waters? Romance, intrigue, and swashbuckling leaps of faith create a wonderfully heroic close to this beloved series.

Picking up where Ransome's Crossing left off, Charlotte Ransome and her sister-in-law have been kidnapped by pirates.  The men who love them, Captain Ned Cochrane and Commodore William Ransome must search the Caribbean.  Along the way they fight battles, uncover secrets and find more than one missing person.

Charlotte and Julia's personalities are just as strong here, as they are in the first two books.  Charlotte cannot resist adventure and her penchant for finding it hasn't waned.  A delightful, entertaining story and a fitting end to an entertaining trilogy.

Click here to read reviews for Ransome's Honor and Ransome's Crossing.  Technically this book could stand alone, but it's really best if you've read the first two for the back story and history.

Thanks to First Wildcard and Harvest House Publishers for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Kaye Dacus here.  You can read the first chapter here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 7/11

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sweet Chic...Review

About the book:
Today’s baker faces a great challenge: With little time and a limited repertoire, she often needs to whip up a delicious dessert that’s dressed to impress. Rachel Schifter Thebault, founder and head confectioner of Tribeca Treats in New York City, knows all about making a sweet statement. Combining a confectioner’s expertise with fashion sense, she shares a scrumptious cache of popular dessert recipes that can be accessorized to fit any occasion.

What’s more, transforming a basic dessert into a masterpiece brimming with personality and flair can be easy, quick, and fun. In the same way you’d plan an outfit,
Sweet Chic pieces together a Devil’s Food Cake—the little black dress of delights—with such irresistible accessories as Caramel Buttercream (think knee-high boots) for ultimate decadence, turns Vanilla Cookies (the crisp oxford shirt) into Strawberry “Shortcakes” ideal for casual or dressy occasions, and blends brownies (the cashmere sweater of confectionery) with a swirl of mint for a showstopping number.

Gorgeous and appetizing color photos throughout reveal how a change of icing here and a substitute topping there can take a simple dessert from Sunday brunch to a date-night treat. Mix and match more than seventy recipes for cookies, cakes, and confections, including Peanut Butter and Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies, Brownie Sundae Parfait, Mini S’mores Cupcakes, Wasabi-Black Sesame Truffles, and so much more.

Whether you’re a novice baker hoping to master the basics or an experienced one looking to add a little versatility to your existing creations,
Sweet Chic is a clever and practical guide for memorable desserts, a one-sweet-fits-all way to make a tantalizing impression.

Fancy desserts are the trend right now and Sweet Chic capitalizes on that trend.  The premise to the book is kind of cute: that just like in fashion, it's easy to accessorize and dress up an otherwise ordinary outfit, or in this case, dessert.

There are quite a few pictures (not a picture for every recipe, which is my big cookbook pet peeve, but this one has a good many), and go-to recipes you can use as the basis for desserts, such as a devil's food cake, a white cake, and a sugar cookie.  Rachel has included lots of tips and ideas for baking, decorating and serving your desserts.

I thought this was a lovely little cookbook.  It would be a great bridal shower gift along with a baking pan and utensils.

Thanks to Ruby at FSB Associate for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Rachel Schifter Thebault here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 8/11

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Colonel's Lady...Review

About the book:
Can love survive the secrets kept buried within a tormented heart?

Roxanna Rowan may be a genteel Virginia woman, but she is determined to brave the wilds of the untamed frontier to reach a remote Kentucky fort. Eager to reunite with her father, who serves under Colonel Cassius McLinn, Roxanna is devastated to find that her father has been killed on a campaign.

Penniless and out of options, Roxanna is forced to remain at the fort. As she spends more and more time with the fiery Colonel McLinn, the fort is abuzz with intrigue and innuendo. Can Roxanna truly know who the colonel is--and what he's done?

Immerse yourself in this powerful story of love, faith, and forgiveness set in the tumultuous world of the frontier in 1779.

Anxious to be reunited with her soldier father, Roxanna arrives at a rugged frontier fort in Kentucky and is devastated to learn of his death.  Having no where else to go, Roxanna stays at the fort, taking her father's job as scribe and working with Colonel McLinn.  As she comes to know Cass, she begins to fall in love, but the path to true love isn't always smooth.  Danger lurks not only outside the fort walls, but inside as well, as Roxie discovers evidence that a British spy is among them. 

Laura Frantz is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors.  I love all three of her books and I've loaned them out many times to friends.  When The Colonel's Lady arrived in my mailbox, I set everything aside to read it, including the book I was already partway through.

Laura does not disappoint and in Roxanna and Cass, we find another strong couple navigating their way through life, love and war.  As they come to love and trust each other, they also discover the importance of faith and forgiveness.

The 18th century setting is fantastic and historically rich as Laura weaves the story around sections of the Revolutionary War and includes references to George Washington and other historical figures of the time.  All of it comes together in a compelling, captivating novel that is difficult to put down.

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

Read 7/11

* * * * *
5/5 Stars

Monday, August 15, 2011

Remember Me...Review

About the book:
What happens when the loyalty that defines the friendship of two women is tested? For Mia and Danielle, finding the answer takes a lifetime…

Mia Marks is a black girl from inner-city Detroit with an eye for the hottest fashions and a penchant for the good life. Danielle King is a suburban white girl with artistic ambitions. When a series of circumstances thrust Danielle and Mia together their freshman year at an all-girls Catholic high school, neither expects to form a deep bond that transcends race and background, and lasts for years. And neither could have anticipated the one indiscretion that destroyed it forever.

Twenty years later, Danielle is a successful novelist living in Miami. Mia is a school teacher in Detroit. But they’re still on common ground–both unhappily married and raising teenage daughters, and both far too proud to make the first move and reconnect. Until tragedy brings them back together in the most unexpected way. Now they must confront the past, discover its untold truths, and learn to survive the increasing complexities of their lives, and a friendship destined to endure.

A story that alternates perspectives between Danielle and Mia in the present day as well as in flashbacks to their past.  After having been best friends for most of their high school and college years, a falling out sends them on their separate ways.  Twenty years later, each married and raising a college-age daughter, Danielle and Mia are reunited under tragic, difficult circumstances.  Being thrust together as they are, forces the women to take stock of themselves and answer the question as to whether their friendship can be rekindled.

While I liked Mia, I can't say I really ever liked Danielle all that much, although she does eventually redeem herself. Both women have their own issues, many of which stem from their respective upbringings.  Each is successful in her career and struggles in her marriage.  However, as they reflect on their past experiences together, they rediscover strengths in each other and in themselves. 

There is some unnecessary profanity.  There were some editing issues, but my copy is an unedited ARC and I'd like to read the finished version.  Remember Me is an enthralling story about the depths and strength of friendship.  It's a book I enjoyed and one that I can easily recommend. 

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

Monday, August 1st:  The Brain Lair
Tuesday, August 2nd:  Book Club Classics!
Wednesday, August 3rd:  Books, Movies, and Chinese Food
Thursday, August 4th:  Life in the Thumb
Friday, August 5th:  Chick Lit Reviews
Monday, August 8th:  Colloquium
Wednesday, August 10th:  Life in Review
Thursday, August 11th:  Laura’s Reviews
Monday, August 15th:  2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews
Tuesday, August 16th:  Black Diamond’s Book Reviews
Wednesday, August 17th:  Knowing the Difference
Thursday, August 18th:  Arms of a Sister
Monday, August 22nd:  Well Read Wife
Tuesday, August 23rd:  Rundpinne
Thursday, August 25th:  Books and Movies
Monday, August 29th:  Book Addiction

Read 7/11

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Little Women Letters...Review

About the book:
Vibrant, fresh, and intelligent, The Little Women Letters explores the imagined lives of Jo March’s descendants—three sisters who are both thoroughly modern and thoroughly March. As uplifting and essential as Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, Gabrielle Donnelly’s novel will speak to anyone who’s ever fought with a sister, fallen in love with a fabulous pair of shoes, or wondered what on earth life had in store for her.

With her older sister, Emma, planning a wedding and her younger sister, Sophie, preparing to launch a career on the London stage, Lulu can’t help but feel like the failure of the Atwater family. Lulu loves her sisters dearly and wants nothing but the best for them, but she finds herself stuck in a rut, working dead-end jobs with no romantic prospects in sight. When her mother asks her to find a cache of old family recipes in the attic of her childhood home, Lulu stumbles across a collection of letters written by her great-great-grandmother Josephine March. 

In her letters, Jo writes in detail about every aspect of her life: her older sister, Meg’s, new home and family; her younger sister Amy’s many admirers; Beth’s illness and the family’s shared grief over losing her too soon; and the butterflies she feels when she meets a handsome young German. As Lulu delves deeper into the lives and secrets of the March sisters, she finds solace and guidance, but can the words of her great-great-grandmother help Lulu find a place for herself in a world so different from the one Jo knew? 

Vibrant, fresh, and intelligent, The Little Women Letters explores the imagined lives of Jo March’s descendants—three sisters who are both thoroughly modern and thoroughly March. As uplifting and essential as Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, Gabrielle Donnelly’s novel will speak to anyone who’s ever fought with a sister, fallen in love with a fabulous pair of shoes, or wondered what on earth life had in store for her.

Some things, of course, remain unchanged: the stories and jokes that form a family’s history, the laughter over tea in the afternoon, the desire to do the right thing in spite of obstacles. And above all, of course, the fierce, undying, and often infuriating bond of sisterhood that links the Atwater women every bit as firmly as it did the March sisters all those years ago. Both a loving tribute to Little Women and a wonderful contemporary family story, The Little Women Letters is a heartwarming, funny, and wise novel for today.

I really didn't know what to expect from this book.  I love Little Women.  I have three sisters and I could always relate to the March girls.  I was so pleasantly surprised with The Little Women Letters.

Emma, Lulu and Sophie Atwater live in England with their American-born mother and British father.  Like many families, they love each other, but they each have their quirks and personality issues. Emma is reliable and good, much like Meg.  Lulu is impulsive and smart, like Jo and Sophie is the artistic, flighty one, similar to Amy.  Each is searching to determine her place in the world.

When Lulu discovers old letters written by her Great-Great-Grandmother Jo, she learns that the bonds of sisterhood transcend time.  Gabrielle Donnelly interweaves the lives of the three Atwater sisters beautifully with the March sisters through Lulu's reading of Jo's letters.

At first, I questioned the England setting, because the March family lived in Concord, Massachusetts, USA and one would think that would be the logical setting.  But, people move and our world is very much a global community.  So, it's absolutely normal to think that descendants of Jo March could live anywhere in the world.  I personally really enjoyed the English setting.  My husband is British, so many of the references were familiar to me.  And I loved the Doctor Who shout out!

This is a lovely story about the bonds and strength of sisterhood and the joys of family.  Sure, it's a little predictable with a happy ending for everyone, and Lulu is a little too sarcastic at times, but it's also delightful, charming and thought-provoking.

Thanks to Touchstone through Shelf Awareness for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Gabrielle Donnelly here. Her story behind the story is fascinating. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 8/11

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Friday, August 12, 2011

The One Who Waits for Me...Review

About the book:
Bestselling author Lori Copeland (Walker's Wedding and Outlaw's Bride) sets her brand-new story in North Carolina the months after the Civil War. In the midst of chaos, there is also a sense of possibility and the hope of love when:

Sisters Beth and Joanie run from a vindictive uncle toward healing
Trella, a pregnant young slave, leaves a plantation for freedom
Gray Eagle, a Cherokee military scout, finds refuge for the young women
Captain Pierce, a quiet man of faith, heads for a plot of land and a new life
Samuel, a black soldier, longs to follow his father's preaching legacy

The intersecting lives and tales of these engaging characters and those they meet along the way create an uplifting story of tested faith, growing seeds of love, and the challenge and gift of believing God's promise of a future.

Light Christian and a somewhat entertaining, but implausible story, set post Civil War as soldiers are returning home.  Three soldiers encounter three young women running away from abusive situations.  Predictably, their lives are turned upside down as they try and help. Everyone falls in love, the bad guys are eliminated and the stage is set for future books in the series. It all wraps up neatly with the strong Christian characters helping to strengthen those who doubt. 

I haven't ever read Lori Copeland before and I know she's very popular among Christian fiction writers.  I think that prolific writers sometimes become a little stale.  Their stories tend toward being somewhat formulaic.  Not having read Copeland before, I wasn't overly impressed with this one but found it lightly entertaining.  Fans of Lori Copeland will undoubtedly love it.

Thanks to First Wildcard and Harvest House Publishers for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Lori Copeland here.  You can read the first chapter here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 7/11

* * *
3/5 Stars

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Secret Daughter...Review

About the book:
On the eve of the monsoons, in a remote Indian village, Kavita gives birth to a baby girl. But in a culture that favors sons, the only way for Kavita to save her newborn daughter's life is to give her away. It is a decision that will haunt her and her husband for the rest of their lives, even after the arrival of their cherished son.

Halfway around the globe, Somer, an American doctor, decides to adopt a child after making the wrenching discovery that she will never have one of her own. When she and her husband, Krishnan, see a photo of the baby with the gold-flecked eyes from a Mumbai orphanage, they are overwhelmed with emotion. Somer knows life will change with the adoption but is convinced that the love they already feel will overcome all obstacles.

Interweaving the stories of Kavita, Somer, and the child that binds both of their destinies, Secret Daughter poignantly explores the emotional terrain of motherhood, loss, identity, and love, as witnessed through the lives of two families one Indian, one American and the child that indelibly connects them.

A poor mother, having already lost an unwanted daughter, can't bear to part with her newborn.  Placing the child in an orphanage is the only way Kavita knows to save her daughter's life, such as it could be.  Somer and Krishnan, unable to have children of their own, make the decision to adopt an Indian child and bring Asha home to America.

The story is told from the alternating perspectives of Somer, Kavita and Asha, with others mixed in.  It's an engrossing novel and one I had difficulty setting aside for anything.  Not having ever traveled to India, I don't know how accurate or inaccurate she is, but I loved the author's descriptions.

I thought she captured the sense of despair of India's poor and the idea that there are two Indias: the rich India and the poor India.  The plight of women and girls in India was also well presented.  I simply cannot understand cultures that place so little value on the life of girls, and yet, in many ways in India, women also wield a great deal of influence.  But, it's the wealthy families who can afford to raise girls, not the poor ones.  Shilpi Somaya Gowda explores this and it's as fascinating as it is tragic.

Having grown up in the San Francisco Bay Area, I love the California setting!  With themes of intercultural marriage, intercultural adoption and the relationships between mother and daughter, this is a beautiful, compelling story and one I can easily and wholeheartedly recommend.

I received this book from Harper Collins, won in a giveaway from Laura's Reviews. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 8/11

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Always the Baker Never the Bride...Review

About the book:
They say you can't have your cake and eat it too.  But who would want a cake they couldn't eat?

Just ask Emma Rae Travis about that.  She's an award-winning baker who is diabetic and can't enjoy her own confections.  When Emma meets Jackson Drake, the escapee from Corporate America who is starting a wedding destination hotel to fulfill a dream that belonged to someone else, this twosome and their crazy family ties bring new meaning to the term "family circus". The Atlanta social scene will never be the same and neither will your sweet-tooth cravings.

What a fun book!  It's light, just like the confections Emma creates, but it's funny.  When award-winning baker Emma Travis finally has the chance to manage her own kitchen as the head baker of a new hotel, she doesn't bargain in falling for the hotel's owner.  Jackson is trying to fulfill his late wife's dream and doesn't plan on falling in love with his new employee.

I enjoyed the inclusion of recipes and hostessing tips.  My big complaint?  There was no recipe for the creme brulee cake.  This cake is talked about repeatedly throughout the book and there is even a page of secrets to making the cake, but no recipe.  So not fair!

The christian elements are mild.  Prayers are said and there is talk of overcoming grief and moving forward with God's help, although no one actually attends church.  With likeable characters and a funny story this is a delightful, hysterically funny book.  I haven't read Sandra Bricker before, but you can bet I will do so again.

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

Read 8/11

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Monday, August 8, 2011

Reign of Madness...Review...DNF

About the book:
From the author of
The Creation of Eve, a novel of royal intrigue and marital betrayal set during the Golden Age of Spain.

One of the most famous figures in all of Spanish history is Juana de Castile, who would come to be known as Juana the Mad. She was a fiercely intelligent princess who inherited Queen Isabel's throne and married a man so beautiful he was called Philippe the Handsome. But what began seeming like a fairy tale ended quite differently.

After Queen Juana's husband died, she was accused of insanity and locked away in a palace, unseen by her people for the next forty-six years. What happened between her fairy-tale beginning and a locked tower room? Sweeping, page-turning, and wholly entertaining, Reign of Madness is historical fiction at its richly satisfying best.

I tried.  I gave it nearly 200 pages.  I am not knowledgeable about Spanish history and I was not  familiar with Juana of Castile or her history.  This book is a fictionalized account of her life and while the author seems to have definitely done her research well, I just couldn't get into it.  It's a tragic, ultimately unhappy story and one that I just didn't care enough about to finish reading.

Fans of historical fiction will undoubtedly love it as will fans of Lynn Cullen.

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

Monday, July 25th:  In the Hammock
Tuesday, July 26th:  Rundpinne
Wednesday, July 27th:  Unabridged Chick
Thursday, July 28th:  Debbie’s Book Bag
Monday, August 1st:  The Broke and the Bookish
Tuesday, August 2nd:  A Fair Substitute for Heaven
Wednesday, August 3rd:  Books Like Breathing
Thursday, August 4th:  Peeking Between the Pages
Monday, August 8th:  2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews
Tuesday, August 9th:  Broken Teepee
Wednesday, August 10th:  Raging Bibliomania
Thursday, August 11th:  Cafe of Dreams
Monday, August 15th:  A Library of My Own
Tuesday, July 16th:  Life in Review
Wednesday, August 17th:  Simply Stacie
Thursday, August 18th:  Book Addiction
Monday, August 22nd:  One Book Shy of a Full Shelf
Wednesday, August 24th:  Starting Fresh

Read 7/11

1/5 Stars