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Monday, October 31, 2011

Maman's Homesick Pie...Review

About the book:
For Donia Bijan’s family, food has been the language they use to tell their stories and to communicate their love. In 1978, when the Islamic revolution in Iran threatened their safety, they fled to California’s Bay Area, where the familiar flavors of Bijan’s mother’s cooking formed a bridge to the life they left behind. Now, through the prism of food, award-winning chef Donia Bijan unwinds her own story, finding that at the heart of it all is her mother, whose love and support enabled Bijan to realize her dreams.

From the Persian world of her youth to the American life she embraced as a teenager to her years at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris (studying under the infamous Madame Brassart) to apprenticeships in France’s three-star kitchens and finally back to San Francisco, where she opened her own celebrated bistro, Bijan evokes a vibrant kaleidoscope of cultures and cuisines. And she shares thirty inspired recipes from her childhood (Saffron Yogurt Rice with Chicken and Eggplant and Orange Cardamom Cookies), her French training (Ratatouille with Black Olives and Fried Bread and Purple Plum Skillet Tart), and her cooking career (Roast Duck Legs with Dates and Warm Lentil Salad and Rose Petal Ice Cream).

An exhilarating, heartfelt memoir, Maman’s Homesick Pie is also a reminder of the women who encourage us to shine.

I had no idea who Donia Bijan was before I read her memoir, but I certainly loved her story.  After the death of her mother, Donia reflects on her life as she begins the task of sorting through her mother's things.  Those reflections take us to her childhood in Iran, her family's subsequent exile to America and their new life here and Donia's own experience opening her own restaurant.

Relationships and memories often involve food: the preparing, the eating and the sharing of it.  Maman's Homesick Pie is a heartwarming journey through one family's memories and recipes.  Donia's reflections and narrative are warm, eloquent and vibrant.  Donia's love for her family is tangible, as is her love of good food and cooking. Her mother's influence on her life and the lessons she learned at her mother's table are inspiring.

The book also includes family recipes; exotic Persian dishes that sound delicious.

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

Monday, October 10th:  Books, Movies, and Chinese Food
Monday, October 17th:  girlichef
Wednesday, October 19th:  Melody & Words
Thursday, October 20th:  Unabridged Chick
Monday, October 24th:  Luxury Reading
Monday, October 24th:  Unabridged Chick – author interview
Wednesday, October 26th:  Chocolate and Croissants
Thursday, October 27th:  Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity
Friday, October 28th:  Peeking Between the Pages
Monday, October 31st:  2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews
Tuesday, November 1st:  A Bookish Libraria
Thursday, November 3rd:  Mockingbird Hill Cottage
TBD:  Chick Lit Reviews


Read 10/11

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Saturday, October 29, 2011

I Am In Here...Review by the Doctor

About the book:
Elizabeth Bonker is profoundly affected by autism and can’t speak, yet she illuminates the inner world of autism through poems that she types one finger at a time. I Am in Here: The Journey of a Child with Autism Who Cannot Speak but Finds Her Voice by Elizabeth Bonker and her mother Virginia Breen is the story of Elizabeth’s courage, determination, and optimism, and the relentless love of a mom who knew her daughter was "in there."

Over many years, Elizabeth learned to type independently on a letterboard and computer. Because the process is tedious, she began to write poetry, and has since written more than 100 poems. This child, who had been diagnosed as mentally retarded, is at last able to reveal her gifted mind in I Am in Here. The book is about:

Faith: Elizabeth’s poetry reveals a deep spiritual life, "contemplating God in a way that went beyond what she learned in Sunday School," Virginia says. "The burden of autism has helped us both understand one of life’s great mysteries. The most tangible way we experience God is through the presence of the people God has placed in our lives."

Clinging to Hope: "Autism Moms must find a way to cling to hope with a tenacity that is stronger than autism’s grip on our children," Virginia says. "My answer is finding the joy in the smallest of moments…a conscious choice to seek these small flowers of joy in the crannied wall."

Drawing Inspiration from 'How' People: 'How' people ask, 'how can I move forward?' rather than 'why me?' Elizabeth, with her overwhelming challenges, is the ultimate 'How' Person. The book also includes a gallery of the 'How' people whose inspiring stories are told in the book. "Elizabeth is my little flower, relentlessly breaking through autism with her poetry," Virginia writes. "Like the flowers in the sidewalk cracks, she is a quiet miracle."

There are some books that you read that you can't put down. You race from page to page desperate to know the ending. These books are the best sellers, because they give us a chance to escape reality for a while, to forget the trials and tribulations of our everyday lives as we drown our sorrows in the magic of a mythical happy ending.

However, sometimes you read a book that deserves to be a bestseller because it's not about a happy ending, and it's not a chance to escape reality, but an understanding of how to live your life better.

As a father of a boy with an autism spectrum disorder, I didn't think reading this book would be easy. And in large measure it isn't, not because it is a well-written (because it is) and not because it isn't heartwarming (because it is).

At its heart, this is a book about the harsh realities of life, and the struggles of a mother and a daughter to rise above diagnoses and despairs, and transform their lives into something wonderful, meaningful and illuminating.

Elizabeth Bonker is a young woman who cannot speak, but her words speak volumes of the power of the human spirit. Her mother, Virginia, redefines the role of what it means to be a mother, a friend, and a fierce champion for her daughter in the face of daunting and difficult odds.

As we are led through Elizabeth's life, Virginia gives us a side-by-side comparison of her works on behalf of Elizabeth, and on behalf of autistic children everywhere.

This book will move you to both tears and laughter, joy and sadness. Rarely does a book come along that reflects the humanity of our struggles everyday, and gives us hope that we too can rise above our own limitations, and become something more in the lives of others.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book. It will change how you feel about those with autism, and it'll give you hope for the struggles you have to fight every day.

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

Read 10/11

* * * * *
5/5 Stars

Friday, October 28, 2011

Don't Sing at the Table: Life Lessons from My Grandmothers...Review

About the book:
New York Times bestselling author Adriana Trigiani’s gift for illuminating the profound challenges and issues defining women’s lives has propelled her novels to the top of bestseller lists and earned her a wide, devoted readership. Now, she shares the roots of those insights—the wisdom handed down to her from her unforgettable grandmothers, Lucia and Viola, which she began collecting for her own daughter—with readers everywhere.

Filled with practical, sage advice, and infused with Trigiani’s trademark warmth, love, and humor, Don’t Sing at the Table introduces a pair of feisty, intelligent, and strong forces of nature whose lives embody the story of 20th-century America itself. Between them, the extraordinary Lucia and Viola lived through the century from beginning to end, surviving immigration, young widowhood, single motherhood, four wars, and the Great Depression. Culled from their remarkable experiences, this heartfelt guide, at turns hilarious and poignant, offers answers to the seminal questions in a woman’s life, from getting married to saving money, nurturing the soul to keeping calm in a crisis, raising children to finding private comfort.

This is a warm, poignant tribute to the author's grandmothers.  That Adriana loved and admired her grandmothers is very apparent.  The life lessons learned are relevant to us today.  I have not read anything by Adriana Trigiani and wasn't familiar with her at all before I read this book and so to me, this was simply a lovely accolade to two women who lived normal, ordinary lives but who, to one woman, were exceptional.  I love memoirs and family histories and this tribute was poignant and thoughtful.  I have a great deal of love and respect for my grandmothers, I learned many life lessons from them and I miss them.

Many of the life lessons in this book are simply rooted in common sense, but Adriana shares stories and anecdotes that emphasize and enrich them.

I have two complaints about the book. First, for a book that is so vividly rich and descriptive, there were annoying grammatical issues.  I just have a thing with verbs and tenses agreeing. Second, towards the last part of the book, the author became preachy on her views and ideas of religion and raising children.  That tone really disappointed me. Overall though, this is a sweet tribute by a granddaughter to her grandmothers.  The inclusion of some favorite recipes is a bonus.

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

Tuesday, October 4th: Books Like Breathing
Wednesday, October 5th: Life In Review
Thursday, October 6th: Write Meg!
Tuesday, October 11th: Bookstack
Wednesday, October 12th: The Bodacious Pen
Thursday, October 13th: Book Hooked Blog
Monday, October 17th: Among Stories
Tuesday, October 18th: Good Girl Gone Redneck
Wednesday, October 19th: A Bookish Libraria
Thursday, October 20th: Laura’s Reviews
Monday, October 24th: Alison’s Book Marks
Wednesday, October 26th: The Road to Here
Thursday, October 27th: Amusing Reviews
Friday, October 28th: 2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews
Monday, October 31st: Redlady’s Reading Room
Tuesday, November 1st: Chocolate & Croissants
TBD: StephTheBookworm


Read 10/11

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Wings: A Novel of World War II Flygirls...Review

About the book:
Sally Ketchum comes from dirt-poor farm folk. She has little chance of bettering her life until a mysterious barnstormer named Tex teaches her to fly—and becomes the first person worthy of her love. But Tex dies in a freak accident, leaving Sally to make her own way in the world. She enrolls in the U.S. military’s Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program, and in a special school located in West Texas begins learning to fly the biggest, fastest, meanest airplanes the military has to offer. She also reluctantly becomes involved with Beau Bayard, a flight instructor and aspiring writer, who seems to offer her everything she could want. But many people see no place for a “skirt” in the cockpit, and Sally soon finds herself pitted against a high-powered Washington lawyer who wants to disband the WASP once and for all. Their battle is a story of extraordinary women who broke society’s rules and became heroes, and of men who stood in their way.

Sally's life is inherently unhappy, except for her brief time with Tex, the man who taught her to fly and the man with whom she fell in love.  After his death, she learns about the WASP program and enrolls to become a female military pilot.  Once at school, however, she learns that there are those who want the program disbanded and of one individual, in particular, who has a personal vendetta against her.

While historically, this is a very rich novel, it's not a particularly happy story.  Sally's life is hard and it never gets easier, although she's tough and plucky and manages to overcome obstacles and adversity.  She meets an a assortment of young women in the WASP program, all of whom have their own secrets and reasons for joining up.  Their collective story is fascinating.  Moderate profanity and innuendo is noted.

I think Karl Friedrich has done a terrific job of portraying a time in our history that was difficult for all: those who went to war and those who were left behind. Women rose to the occasion and took on many jobs that until the war came, had been male only jobs, including flying military jets.  I'm appalled at the treatment these women received at the hand of our government and I'm proud of them for the pathway they paved for future women.

Thanks to Lisa at TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to review this book. You can see other reviews and tour stops here.

Monday, October 3rd:  A Bookish Librarian
Tuesday, October 4th:  Life in Review
Wednesday, October 5th:  Acting Balanced
Monday, October 10th:  The Life (and lies) of an inanimate flying object - guest post
Tuesday, October 11th:  Diary of an Eccentric
Wednesday, October 12th:  “That’s Swell!”
Thursday, October 13th:  Man of La Book
Saturday, October 15th:  Man of La Book - author Q&A
Tuesday, October 18th:  Reviews from the Heart
Wednesday, October 19th:  A Bookish Affair
Thursday, October 20th:  Bags, Books & Bon Jovi
Friday, October 21st:  Flight to Success
Monday, October 24th:  Melody & Words
Tuesday, October 25th:  Unabridged Chick
Wednesday, October 26th:  Staircase Wit
Thursday, October 27th:  2 Kids and Tired Books
Tuesday, November 1st:  Joyfully Retired
Wednesday, November 2nd:  The House of the Seven Tails
Thursday, November 3rd: Life on the Road as a Pilot
Date TBD:  A Cozy Reader’s Corner

Read 10/11

* * *
3/5 Stars

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Necessary Deception...Review

About the book:
When young widow Lydia Gale helps a French prisoner obtain parole, she never dreams she will see him again. But just as the London Season gets under way, the man presents himself in her parlor. While she should be focused on getting her headstrong younger sister prepared for her entrée into Society, Lady Gale finds herself preoccupied with the mysterious Frenchman. Is he a spy or a suitor? Can she trust him? Or is she putting herself and her family in danger?

Discover a world of elegance and intrigue, balls and masquerades as Laurie Alice Eakes whisks you into the drawing rooms of London Society on this exciting quest to let the past stay in the past--and let love guide the future.

Lydia's husband went to war with France after a week of marriage.  After his death, she received cryptic instructions which told her that one day she would have the chance to help a friend of her husband's.  When that time comes, she's surprised to find out that she's helping to free a French prisoner.  With unanswered questions she, nevertheless, fulfills her obligation.  As she then travels to London to prepare her younger sisters for one's entrance into society and another's marriage, she's surprised to once again meet this mysterious Frenchman.  Lydia has no idea that her actions have drawn her into a dangerous game of intrigue and secrets.

I grew frustrated at times with chapters that ended and then didn't pick up again, but went onto something different.  I'm sure it was the author's attempt at suspense, but I often felt like I'd missed something.  Lydia's family was difficult to like and it was easy to see her frustrations with them.  Her parents left her sisters' lives and futures in her hands and we never really understood why.  The story has its moments, but I felt like there were too many unanswered questions and not enough detail.

I read Eakes' Lady in the Mist and while I didn't love it, I was curious about this new one as I enjoy the regency time period.  However, both books were rather ordinary and unexceptional and I've decided that this is just an author who doesn't resonate with me.  Fans of the regency time period and Laurie Alice Eakes, however, should enjoy this.

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

Read 10/11

* * *
3/5 Stars

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Story of Beautiful Girl...Review

It is 1968. Lynnie, a young white woman with a developmental disability, and Homan, an African American deaf man, are locked away in an institution, the School for the Incurable and Feebleminded, and have been left to languish, forgotten. Deeply in love, they escape, and find refuge in the farmhouse of Martha, a retired schoolteacher and widow. But the couple is not alone--Lynnie has just given birth to a baby girl. When the authorities catch up to them that same night, Homan escapes into the darkness, and Lynnie is caught. But before she is forced back into the institution, she whispers two words to Martha: "Hide her." 

And so begins the 40-year epic journey of Lynnie, Homan, Martha, and baby Julia--lives divided by seemingly insurmountable obstacles, yet drawn together by a secret pact and extraordinary love.

Locked away in an institution, circumstances arise that force Lynnie and Homan to attempt escape.  They find themselves seeking shelter at Martha's farmhouse and when she opens the door to them, Martha has no idea the future that awaits her or how her life will forever be connected to theirs.

The story moves between characters over the course of 40 years.  Admittedly, I found Homan's viewpoint hard to follow at times because of his deafness but, at the same time, I was enthralled with his perspective and how he related to people and situations.  I loved these characters, especially Lynnie and Kate and their relationship.  As the story progresses and we see where time and experience take everyone, I didn't want to put the book down.  I will admit to both liking and disliking the ending though.

Rachel Simon did a fantastic job in her setting and in her treatment of these people who might be delayed, but by no means were unintelligent.  Homan, especially, was a wonderful character: a man who was simply hearing impaired and who communicated with a form of sign language not understood by others, ended up in an institution. I don't begin to understand the psychology and reasoning behind these institutions and schools, although I can see why people would be afraid of those with disabilities.  Even with our enlightened understanding of disabilities today, there are still misconceptions and judgments.  In her writing, the author showed us both the good and bad in humanity and the difference that perseverance, love and a sprinkling of charity can make in a person's life.

I loved the author's note and acknowledgments at the end of the book where she explains why she wrote the book and her personal connection to it.  This is a captivating story and I one I wholly enjoyed.

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

Read 10/11

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The What's for Dinner? Solution...Review

About the book:
For many women, dread turns to panic around 4:00 in the afternoon. That’s when they have to answer that age-old question, “What’s for dinner?” Many resort to another supermarket rotisserie chicken or—worse yet—ordering dinner through a drive-thru intercom.

In The “What’s for Dinner” Solution, popular author and speaker Kathi Lipp provides a full-kitchen approach for getting dinner on the table every night. After putting her 21-day plan into action, women will

* save time—with bulk shopping and cooking
* save money—no more last-minute phone calls to the delivery pizza place
* save their sanity—forget the last-minute scramble every night and know what they’re having for dinner

The book includes real recipes from real women, a quick guide to planning meals for a month, the best shopping strategies for saving time and money, and tips on the best ways to use a slow cooker, freezer, and pantry.

With Kathi’s book in hand, there’s no more need to hit the panic button.

I don't know any woman responsible for a home who hasn't, at some point in her life, stood in the middle of her kitchen at 5:30 and wondered what she was fixing for dinner.  I think this scenario happens to most of us on a very regular basis.  I'm a fairly organized homemaker who plans menus, and I still hit 5:30 on some days and have no idea what I'm doing.

Kathi Lipp has put together a terrific resource for not only the experienced cook, but also the novice.  She has a very straight forward way of writing and the book is short and easily read in one or two sittings, or by chapter.

In a nutshell, we're better cooks when we take the time to plan and organize.  It's as simple as that.  It's not new information.  It's not the proverbial light bulb.  It's something we all know.  Here, however, Kathi gives us solid ideas and ways to be more organized and on top of things.  With chapters covering grocery shopping and shopping strategies, using your slow cooker and your freezer, organizing your kitchen and pantry and planning for leftovers, Kathi shares tips and tricks and lots of family-friendly recipes.

As I read this book, I noticed a lot of things I already do (planning menus according to my family's schedule, using my crock pot and freezer cooking) and I discovered a few new helpful hints and suggestions, as well as more than one recipe I want to try out.

I think this would be a great gift for any cook/homemaker, and it would be a terrific resource for someone out on their own for the first time.  Wrap it up with a dish towel and casserole pan for a cute presentation.

Thanks to First Wildcard and Harvest House Publishers for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Kathi Lipp here.  You can read the first chapter here.  You can purchase your own copy here
Read 10/11

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Beyond All Measure...Review

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About the book:
Unless she can trust God's love to cast out her fears, Ada may lose the heart of a good man. 

Ada Wentworth, a young Bostonian, journeys to Hickory Ridge, Tennessee, in the years following the Civil War. Alone and nearly penniless following a broken engagement, Ada accepts a position as a lady's companion to the elderly Lillian Willis, a pillar of the community and aunt to the local lumber mill owner, Wyatt Caldwell. Ada intends to use her millinery skills to establish a hat shop and secure her future.

Haunted by unanswered questions from her life in Boston, Ada is most drawn to two townsfolk: Wyatt, a Texan with big plans of his own, and Sophie, a mulatto girl who resides at the Hickory Ridge orphanage. Ada's friendship with Sophia attracts the attention of a group of locals seeking to displace the residents of Two Creeks, a "colored" settlement on the edge of town. As tensions rise, Ada is threatened but refuses to abandon her plan to help the girl.

When Lillian dies, Ada is left without employment or a place to call home. And since Wyatt's primary purpose for staying in Hickory Ridge was to watch over his aunt, he can now pursue his dream of owning Longhorns in his home state of Texas.

With their feelings for each other growing, Ada must decide whether she can trust God with her future and Wyatt with her heart.

Having lost her fortune, family and fiance during the Civil War and its aftermath, Ada Wentworth answers an ad for a position as a lady's companion and finds herself in Tennessee, a long way from Boston.   While her greatest desire is to own her own millinery shop, she realizes she must first fund it and Wyatt Caldwell wants her to put her full attention toward caring for his crotchety aunt.  Ada also has a painful past and must learn what it is God wants her to do.  Naturally, Ada and Wyatt are attracted to each other, but a jealous school teacher wants Wyatt only for herself.

I enjoyed watching Ada and Lillian's relationship grow and it was refreshing to see the townspeople begin to soften towards Ada as they put aside their Yankee prejudices.  This is a book packed full of adventure and experiences and the KKK aspect and overt racism brought a different perspective.

Beyond All Measure is a charming, clean Christian novel.  While I enjoyed the novel, I found some of the characterizations a bit extreme. However, this is a story that does draw you in and I'm glad to know it's the first of a series.  I look forward to the next installment.

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

Monday, October 17th:  A Fair Substitute for Heaven
Tuesday, October 18th:  2 Kids and Tired
Wednesday, October 19th:  Reviews by Molly
Thursday, October 20th:  A Chick Who Reads
Monday, October 24th:  Reviews from the Heart
Tuesday, October 25th:  All Grown Up? 
Wednesday, October 26th:  I Am A Reader, Not A Writer  author Q&A
Thursday, October 27th:  Luxury Reading
Friday, October 28th:  Life in Review
Tuesday, November 1st:  Deb’s Book Bag
Wednesday, November 2nd:  Cheryl’s Book Nook
Thursday, November 3rd:  Life in the Thumb
Friday, November 4th:  Southern Sassy Things
Monday, November 7th:  By the Book
Wednesday, November 9th:  Christian Bookshelf Reviews
Monday, November 14th:  The Overweight Bookshelf
Wednesday, November 16th:  Peeking Between the Pages


Read 10/11

* * *
3/5 Stars

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Baby, it's cold outside...Review

About the book:
Dottie Morgan has no desire to share her home or her heart over the Christmas holidays. After all, her Christmas spirit froze over when Dottie lost her son in World War II. But when a blizzard of the decade traps Dottie in her home with four near strangers, she just might discover that opening her door might also open her heart to a Christmas miracle and a new reason to celebrate Christmas.

Dottie has a life of regrets and a loss of faith over the death of her only son during World War 2.  Gordy has always loved her from afar.  Violet and Jake must learn to trust one another and little Arnie is lonely and lost in his imaginary world of Flash Gordon.  When a sudden blizzard brings them all together in Dottie's house, she's not sure she can handle the emotions that begin to come forth.  But, as each life touches the others, hearts are opened and feelings shared and a Christmas miracle brings them all home.

What a sweet story about faith and forgiveness.  Dottie was a bit prickly, but she really grew on me as her heart softened and she discovered herself again.  These are characters who you come to love and care for and this book is a perfect way to start off the holiday season.

Thanks to Amy at 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 9/11

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Coming Up for Air...Review

On the coast of Alabama, there is a house cloaked in mystery, a place that reveals the truth and changes lives...

Ellie Calvin is caught in a dying marriage, and she knows this. With her beloved daughter away at college and a growing gap between her and her husband – between her reality and the woman she wants to be – she doesn’t quite seem to fit into her own life.

But everything changes after her controlling mother, Lillian, passes away. Ellie’s world turns upside down when she sees her ex-boyfriend, Hutch, at her mother’s funeral and learns that he is in charge of a documentary that involved Lillian before her death. He wants answers to questions that Ellie’s not sure she can face, until, in the painful midst of going through her mother’s things, she discovers a hidden diary – and a window onto stories buried long ago.

As Ellie and Hutch start speaking for the first time in years, Ellie’s closed heart slowly begins to open. Fighting their feelings, they set out together to dig into Lillian’s history. Using both the diary and a trip to the Summer House, a mysterious and seductive bayside home, they gamble that they can work together and not fall in love again. But in piecing together a decades-old unrequited-love story, they just might uncover the secrets in their own hearts…

This was one that I really wanted to like.  It was meant to be a heartwarming and beautiful novel about a woman searching for truth about her family and discovering what she really wants out of life.  Unfortunately, Ellie wasn't someone I really connected with.  Her mother was a shrew and her husband was a one-dimensional selfish jerk.

I liked the southern beach setting and I enjoyed Ellie's discovery about her mother's past and how it explained Ellie's relationship with her mother.  I just wish I could have liked Ellie.

Thanks to Emily from Wunderkind-PR for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Patti Callahan Henry here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 10/11

* *
2/5 Stars

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Autumn Song...Review

About the book:
Why does everyone think a girl’s only lot in life is to find a husband and settle down?

Kathleen Muldoon is twenty-three and tired of ranch living. Fiercely independent and determined to become a nurse, she has left her family’s ranch to study medicine under Old Doc Jensen and live in town with her Aunt Mae, who runs a boardinghouse. Daniel Monroe has just arrived in Porterfield to set up his law practice. Sparks fly when he is introduced to Kate at the boardinghouse, but the initial attraction quickly dissolves into an argument—the first of many. Daniel is enamored with Kate but uncomfortable with her independent spirit and dreams of becoming a nurse. 

When trouble erupts between the ranchers and lumberjacks over timber rights, Kate is furious to learn that Daniel has worked out an agreement she believes will destroy her father’s land. Can they overcome their pride and help each other become everything God wants them to be? Set in the late 1800s, the Seasons of the Heart series follows the lives of four women and their families, weaving together their stories of faith, life, and love as they bond in friendship only God could orchestrate.

Kathleen wants nothing more than to be a nurse.  She doesn't want to get married, she doesn't want to fall for the town's new lawyer and she wants her family to let her be.  Daniel just wants a chance to practice law and finds himself attracted to Kate even as he struggles with her desire for independence.  As the two get to know each other, sparks fly and so do challenges.  Together they must manage to figure out their own paths in life and how to merge those paths into one that is pleasing to God.

Second in the Seasons of the Heart series, this is a sequel to Summer Dream.  While it adds depth to have read the first one, it's not necessary and this stands alone well. Like Summer Dream, the language was a bit stilted and formal, but easy to get past.  Kathleen was quite prickly and prone to over reaction which grew a bit tiresome.  However, I liked her and I really liked Daniel.  I enjoyed their story and while somewhat predictable, it was still charming and an entertaining, light read.  I look forward to the third book, Winter Promise.

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

Read 9/11

* * *
3/5 Stars

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Measure of Katie Calloway...Review

About the book:
Her heart seeks sanctuary in the deep woods. But will trouble find her even here?

The Civil War has ended, but in Katie Calloway's Georgia home, conflict still rages. To protect herself and her young brother from her violent and unstable husband, she flees north, finding anonymity and sanctuary as the cook in a north woods lumber camp. The camp owner, Robert Foster, wonders if the lovely woman he's hired has the grit to survive the never-ending work and harsh conditions of a remote pine forest in winter. Katie wonders if she can keep her past a secret from a man she is slowly growing to love.

With grace and skill, Serena Miller brings to life a bygone era. From the ethereal, snowy forest and the rowdy shanty boys to the warm cookstove and mouth-watering apple pie, every detail is perfectly rendered, transporting you to a time of danger and romance.

When Katie flees the South and her abusive husband, she never dreams of finding a new life in a northern lumber camp.  But, in Robert Foster's lumber camp, she finds safety and security for herself and her young brother.  She keeps her past a secret, but as she cooks for these lumberjacks, she comes to care for them and they for her.  She discovers hidden strengths and new love.  Robert learns to open his heart again as this lovely and competent woman takes over his life and his camp.  When her past returns, Katie and Robert wonder if there is a future for them.

I loved this novel.  I couldn't put it down.  Katie and Robert are fantastic characters. And the lumberjacks!  What a terrific supporting cast of rough hewn, yet compassionate men.  I loved every one of them and I laughed out loud in some parts and sniffled my way through others as Katie grew attached to them and they to her.

Serena Miller has crafted a wonderful, charming story rich with adventure and romance.  This is a book I will read again and I anxiously await more.

Thanks to Donna Hausler of Baker Publishing for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Serena Miller here.  You can purchase your own copy here
Read 9/11

* * * * *
5/5 Stars

Monday, October 3, 2011

Hello, Hollywood!...Review

About the book:
Athena Pappas is the head writer on one of the most popular sitcoms in television history. But when Vegas comedian Stephen Cosse is brought in to beef up the show's suddenly sagging ratings, she starts to worry about her job. Sparks fly as the competition--and attraction--between the two writers heats up. Athena has never had a problem scripting the romances of her characters. So why is her own love life so hard to script?

With humor and a Hollywood-insider viewpoint,
Hello, Hollywood! delivers lots of laughs as the characters discover that not being in control of the plot of their lives might just be the best thing that ever happened to them.

Athena may be the head writer of a popular television show and her best friend a famous actress, but she still lives at home with her loud, loving Greek family and sleeps on Strawberry Shortcake sheets.  When a new writer is brought in to help improve the show's ratings, Athena feels threatened.  When she finds herself falling for Stephen, the creativity she is able to bring to her writing fails her and she uncertain of her future.

Second in the Backstage Pass series, this is just another fun book from Janice Thompson.  All your favorite characters from Stars Collide return and we get to meet Athena's loud, large and very loving Greek family.  Janice not only gives us an entertaining story, she gives us a sweet story as well.  When Stephen comes to LA, he brings with him a young daughter in need of love and attention.  As Stephen and  Athena's relationship grows, so does the relationship Brooke has with the Pappas family.  The result is a tender look at what being part of a family really means.

Thanks to Donna Hausler of Baker Publishing for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Janice Thompson here.  You can purchase your own copy here
Read 9/11

* * * *
4/5 Stars