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Monday, May 28, 2012

The Ride of Her Life...Review

About the book:
The only man pragmatic Lilly Hart needs in her life is a six year old. Widowed two years ago, Lilly leaves the shelter of her intrusive in-laws' home to stand on her own and provide for her young son by working for the summer as a cook at Lake Manawa. However, her in-laws find that life utterly unsuitable for their grandson, and when a row ensues, a handsome stranger--who designs roller coasters, of all things--intercedes on her behalf. Still, Lilly is not about to get involved with any man, especially this cocky (though charismatic) gentleman. Little does she know she is about to begin the ride of her life. 

Filled with delightful characters and the romance of summer, The Ride of Her Life is another supremely entertaining story from the witty Lorna Seilstad. Readers will laugh out loud and sigh contentedly as they spend the summer of 1906 in Lake Manawa

Persistence is often necessary when it comes to love and Nick Perrin is the definition of persistence.  Lilly and Nick were wonderful.  Levi is adorable.  Lilly's in-laws were frustrating and mean and the story is compelling and entertaining.  This is a story full of humor and the dips and swirls and speed of Nick's roller coaster.

Marguerite, Tripp, Emily and Carter from Making Waves and A Great Catch all return although the book, like the others, stands alone well.  It's a much richer story, however, when you read them all in order.

A fantastic end to an enjoyable trilogy.  I was sad to say good-bye to Lake Manawa.  I enjoyed learning about roller coasters and the author's notes in the back.

Available May 2012 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 Lorna Seilstad here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 4/12

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

In My Father's Country...Review by the Doctor

About the book: 
In Afghanistan, there is a Pashtun saying known by every woman and by every girl: “A woman should leave her house only twice in her life: once as a bride to go to her husband’s house, and once to the cemetery to be buried.” 

Born in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saima Wahab seemed destined to lead the life of any Pashtun female—a life of dependence, without education, a probable child bride—but today, more than three decades later, it is clear that this now American-Pashtun, “Human Terrain” specialist was destined for far greater things. In her new book, In My Father’s Country, Saima shares her remarkable journey: At age three, she watched while her father was arrested and taken from their home by the KGB. She would never see him again. 

When she was fifteen, an uncle who lived in Portland, Oregon brought her to America. Having to learn an entire new language, she nonetheless graduated from high school in three years and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree. In 2004, she signed on with a defense contractor to work as an interpreter in Afghanistan, never realizing that she would blaze the trail for a new kind of diplomacy, earning the trust of both high-ranking U.S. army officials and Afghan warlords alike. 

When she arrived in Afghanistan in the winter of 2004, Saima was the only college-educated female Pashto speaker in the entire country. As a Pashtun-born American citizen, Saima found herself in an extraordinary position—to be able to explain the people of her native land to those of her adopted one, and vice versa, in a quest to forge new and lasting bonds between two misunderstood cultures. 

In My Father’s Country follows Saima from child refugee to nervous Pashto interpreter to intrepid “Human Terrain” specialist, venturing with her 25-man security detail into isolated Pashtun villages to engage hostile village elders in the first dialogue they’ve ever had with an American. It is also an examination of her life as an American-Pashtun woman; a woman working to create a balance between the two conflicting cultures that comprise her past and shape her future.

Born just before the Soviet invasion that would claim the life of her father, Saima Wahab was just another Pashtun daughter, whose life should have been one of minimal travel and lesser opportunities. Instead, she was evacuated from Afghanistan in a harrowing journey which eventually brought her to the Northwest coast of America. There, with minimal English, she forged her own independence and her own life against family and cultural pressures that would have seen her taken back to Afghanistan and a life with few choices. Instead, she began her own life, which eventually led to her being a civilian contractor working with the US military in her home country of Afghanistan. Amid the horrors of war, and fighting cultural prejudices which at times threatened her very life, she was at first an interpreter and eventually a "cultural liaison", trying to bring peace and understanding between her old world and her new.

I had just started a long-awaited novel when, for some reason, I picked up this book and just read the book jacket. I asked my wife if I could read it before she did, and so began the loss of a weekend. I was touched and moved by Saima’s story of the pain and difficulty of growing up in one culture, while living in another. I was inspired by the bravery she shows in choosing to serve her country in a way that very few people ever could. Her honesty in describing her feelings of frustration as she tried to find peace in her soul and peace in the world was heart wrenching. Above all, I was incredibly impressed by the courage that she showed, risking her life and her sanity in an attempt to understand the country that her father died for, and the rich cultural heritage that would have denied her the place she took in the world.

Thank you Saima, for a wonderful and moving book that widened my understanding, and enriched my soul. You have indeed fulfilled your father's promise, and I am sure made him proud.

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

Tuesday, April 24th:  Book Addict Katie
Wednesday, April 25th:  Unabridged Chick
Monday, April 30th:  Bibliosue
Tuesday, May 1st:  Broken Teepee
Wednesday, May 2nd:  My Book Retreat
Thursday, May 3rd:  A Bookish Affair
Monday, May 7th:  Book Dilettante
Tuesday, May 8th:  Musings of a Bookish Kitty
Wednesday, May 9th:  Book Club Classics!
Monday, May 14th:  Tiffany’s Bookshelf
Tuesday, May 15th:  Luxury Reading
Wednesday, May 16th:  Lit and Life
Thursday, May 17th:  Jenn’s Bookshelves
Monday, May 21st:  Chew & Digest Books
Tuesday, May 22nd:  Twisting the Lens
Wednesday, May 23rd:  2 Kids and Tired Books

Read 5/12

* * * * *
5/5 Stars

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Scent of Cherry Blossoms...Review

About the book:

Annie Martin loves the Plain ways of her Old Order Mennonite people, like those revered by her beloved grandfather. Retreating from a contentious relationship with her mother, Annie goes to live with her Daadi Moses in Apple Ridge.

But as spring moves into Pennsylvania and Annie spends time amongst the cherry trees with the handsome Aden Zook, she wishes she could forget how deeply the lines between the Old Order Amish and Old Order Mennonite are drawn.

Can Annie and Aden find a place for their love to bloom in the midst of the brewing storm?

I've read Cindy Woodsmall before and I enjoyed her Sisters of the Quilt series.  The premise of this book is fascinating and learning about the differences between Old Order Mennonite and Old Order Amish intrigued me.

I liked Annie and Aden and reading their story.  Unfortunately, I think the story was too short to be told well.  Written as a novella, I think this would be a much richer story if it was longer and the characters allowed to develop and the story more detailed.  I wanted to know more about Roman and Marian.  I think that there might be some back history in the novella A Christmas Singing, but I haven't read that one, so I don't know for sure.  I just know that this story, while sweet, left me wanting more.

I read my personal copy.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 5/12

* * *
3/5 Stars

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Cottage at Glass Beach...Review

About the book: 
Married to the youngest attorney general in Massachusetts state history, Nora Cunningham is a picture-perfect political wife and a doting mother. But her carefully constructed life falls to pieces when she, along with the rest of the world, learns of the infidelity of her husband, Malcolm. 

Humiliated and hounded by the press, Nora packs up her daughters—Annie, seven; and Ella, twelve—and takes refuge on Burke's Island, a craggy spit of land off the coast of Maine. Settled by Irish immigrants, the island is a place where superstition and magic are carried on the ocean winds, and wishes and dreams wash ashore with the changing tides. 

Nora spent her first five years on the island but has not been back to the remote community for decades—not since that long ago summer when her mother disappeared at sea. One night while sitting alone on Glass Beach below the cottage where she spent her childhood, Nora succumbs to grief, her tears flowing into the ocean. Days later she finds an enigmatic fisherman named Owen Kavanagh shipwrecked on the rocks nearby. Is he, as her aunt's friend Polly suggests, a selkie—a mythical being of island legend—summoned by her heartbreak, or simply someone who, like Nora, is trying to find his way in the wake of his own personal struggles? 

Just as she begins to regain her balance, her daughters embark on a reckless odyssey of their own—a journey that will force Nora to find the courage to chart her own course and finally face the truth about her marriage, her mother, and her long-buried past. 

I enjoyed The Lace Makers of Glenmara and so I was excited to read Heather's next book.  Unfortunately, it just wasn't something that grabbed me.  The setting had promise, but I kept feeling as if something was missing.  I also struggled with the narration style and never really connected with the characters.  I couldn't stand Nora's daughter Ella. She wasn't just a rude pre-teen, she was horrible.    This was just one story that tried too hard to be something special and didn't live up to its potential.  My review is one of many and is in the minority, as usual.  You will see other, more positive reviews on the tour shown below.

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

Tuesday, May 15th: 2 Kids and Tired
Wednesday, May 16th: Seaside Book Nook
Thursday, May 17th: Sarah Says Read
Friday, May 18th: My Two Blessings
Monday, May 21st: Savvy Verse & Wit
Wednesday, May 23rd: All Grown Up?
Thursday, May 24th: Paperback Princess
Friday, May 25th: Kritters Ramblings
Tuesday, May 29th: Bookstack
Wednesday, May 30th: A Cozy Reader’s Corner
Thursday, May 31st: My Bookshelf
Monday, June 4th: Life In Review
Tuesday, June 5th: Drey’s Library
Wednesday, June 6th: Good Girl Gone Redneck
Thursday, June 7th: Peeking Between the Pages
Monday, June 11th: Tiramisu Mom
Tuesday, June 12th: Wandering Thoughts of a Scientific Housewife
Friday, June 15th: Luxury Reading

Read 5/12

* *
2/5 Stars

Monday, May 14, 2012

Pursuit of Lucy Banning...Review

About the book:
Lucy Banning may live on the exclusive Prairie Avenue among Chicago's rich and famous, but her heart lies elsewhere. Expected to marry an up-and-coming banker from a respected family, Lucy fears she will be forced to abandon her charity work--and the classes she is secretly taking at the newly opened University of Chicago.

When she meets an unconventional young architect who is working on plans for the upcoming 1893 World's Fair, Lucy imagines a life lived on her own terms. Can she break away from her family's expectations? And will she ever be loved for who she truly is?

Readers will love being swept away into a world of mansions, secrets, and romance as they follow Lucy through the streets of the Windy City during one of the most exciting times in the city's history. From opulent upper-class homes to the well-worn rooms of an orphanage, Olivia Newport breathes life and romance into the pages of history--and everyone is invited.

A compelling look into historical Chicago and a terrific, strong heroine.  Wealthy, but one who devotes her times and talents to helping others and educating herself, Lucy is fantastic.  Here is a young woman who easily crosses between two worlds; her privileged own and the working class.  Will is terrific and the World's Fair backdrop is a rich setting.

I would have loved more of Charlotte's story and I'm thrilled to know that a sequel about her is due out later this year.

Available May 2012 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 Olivia Newport here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 5/12

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mom Connection...Review

About the book:
Parenting young children is an all-consuming task that can make moms feel isolated, disconnected, and ineffective beyond the walls of their own home. They want to have a part in the bigger scheme of things, to have real friends, and to make the world their children will inherit a better place.

In this witty, encouraging book, Tracey Bianchi guides moms on a journey toward celebrating and discovering the underlying rhythm of their lives and how that rhythm pulls them into vibrant relationships. Through stories of her own life as a mom and the experiences of others, she shows moms how to gracefully engage the people who cross their paths rather than viewing others as tasks on a list. She also offers a way to find balance in this busy exercise called motherhood.

Cultivating friendships as a mom of young children can be difficult.  Tracey Bianchi addresses just that in her book.  She talks about the importance of healthy rhythm in our lives: that life gets overwhelming and how maintaining balance is important, but so difficult.  Each chapter is filled with vignettes and ends with tips and suggestions, a place for journaling and additional references.

While Tracey's focus seems to be on mothers of toddlers and young children, this is a book for any mother of children.  My boys are pre-teen and teen and while I'm not in the naps/diapers/play dates stage of life, we're all in the motherhood trenches together and there is much to learn from one another.  I found much to learn here.  This is a book that will go on my shelf and be reread.

Available May 2012 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 Tracey Bianchi here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 5/12

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Friday, May 4, 2012

Survival Mom...Review

About the book: 
Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Family Safe and Secure—No Matter What 

Undaunted by the prospect of TEOTWAWKI (The End of the World as We Know It), Lisa Bedford tackles every what-if and worst-case scenario head-on, offering practical advice on how to prepare your family for whatever might come your way. From a few days without electricity to an unexpected job loss or total chaos after the destruction of a tornado, Survival Mom provides everything you need to become self-reliant and establish plans for your family, including: 

preparing the home for a natural disaster 
alternative sources of energy in a power’s-out situation 
everything you need to know about food storage 
personal protection (do I really need to learn how to shoot a gun?) 

Deep inside every mom is a Survival Mom whose passion for her family drives her to make the best of the present and prepare for the future. So tap into your Mama Grizzly instincts and channel your worries into action. Whether you’re a full-fledged “prepper” or just getting started, with real-life stories and customizable forms and checklists along with Lisa’s “you can do it” attitude, Survival Mom replaces paranoia and panic with the peace of knowing YOU have the power to keep your loved ones safe and secure.

Straightforward.  Organized.  Could be overwhelming to some, but a terrific book full of helpful information. A book you can read straight through or one you can just pick up and use for reference when you're interested in a particular topic on emergency preparedness or preparing for a specific disaster scenario.  This is one book that will end up underlined, highlighted and tabbed.  Check out The Survival Mom website as well.

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

Tuesday, April 10th: It’s a Crazy, Beautiful Life
Wednesday, April 11th: A Homesteading Neophyte
Monday, April 16th: the state that i am in
Thursday, April 19th: The Apartment Prepper’s Blog
Monday, April 23rd: Cheerios Underfoot
Tuesday, April 24th: Being 5
Thursday, April 26th: Wandering Thoughts of a Scientific Housewife
Monday, April 30th: Mental Foodie
Friday, May 4th: 2 Kid and Tired Book Reviews

Read 5/12

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Thursday, May 3, 2012

In the Bag...Review

About the book:
A successful chef and single mother, Daisy Sprinkle, is on vacation with her teenage daughter, Coco, who picks up the wrong duffle bag at the airport. That situation is not improved by the note Daisy finds tucked into her carry-on, apparently from the man in 13-C. Daisy is in no mood for secret admirer notes or dinner dates. Or even men, for that matter. 

Andrew doesn’t know what possessed him to do something like that. Hitting on strange women on airplanes is definitely not his typical style. But there was something about the woman in 6-B that could not be ignored. Of course, now he has no time to think about her, since his son Webb seems to have made off with a budding fashionista’s luggage. 

Determined to make the best of a bad situation, Daisy cooks up a plan to calm her daughter’s panic over the lost bag with a week of fabulous food, shopping, and museum hopping. Andrew is busy woking on his latest project and hoping Webb finds enough to entertain himself. Little do they know the teens are making their own plan. . . one that will ultimately reunite Ms. 6-B and Mr. 13-C.

I liked the characters well enough.  The chapters alternate characters and part of the narration is told through email.  Very contemporary.  The story is light, but entertaining. An interesting premise. Funny. Mild profanity.  Not one I'd necessarily re-read.  Perfect for a beach read.

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

Tuesday, May 1st: Seaside Book Nook
Wednesday, May 2nd: A Bookworm’s World
Thursday, May 3rd: 2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews
Monday, May 7th: Walking With Nora
Tuesday, May 8th: Book Hooked Blog
Wednesday, May 9th: Book Journey
Thursday, May 10th: A Musing Reviews
Monday, May 14th: A Cozy Reader’s Corner
Tuesday, May 15th: Life In Review
Wednesday, May 16th: Book Reviews by Molly
Thursday, May 17th: Good Girl Gone Redneck

Read 4/12

* * *
3/5 Stars