Everyday Tidbits...

Be Kind. Do Good. Love is a Verb.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Director's Cut...Review

About the book:
Tia Morales is used to calling the shots. She's the director of the popular sitcom Stars Collide, and her life on set is calculated and orderly. Well, most of the time. But her life outside the studio is another matter. If only she could get her family to behave as well as her stars do When she starts butting heads with handsome camera operator Jason Harris, it's enough to send a girl over the edge. Will she ever learn to let go and take life--and love--as it comes?

Full of the humor and crazy family dynamics Janice Thompson fans have come to love, this colorful story gives readers an inside look at Hollywood and a healthy dose of romance.

Tia takes a lot of pride in directing a popular sitcom.  In the studio, she's in control and life is organized and orderly. Outside the studio, her big crazy family brings a whole new meaning to the word chaos.  Tia's main problem is her need to take responsibility for everything, even those situations and circumstances that are truly out of her control.  She's obsessed with fixing everything and every body and her lessons finally come when she must relinquish control.

I love Janice Thompson's characters.  I love her ability with repartee and her fantastic one liners and internal character dialogue.  She has mastered the art of writing about families and the love, hurt, mess and idiosyncrasies that come with any family situation.

Third in the Backstage Pass series, this one is just as fun as Stars Collide and Hello Hollywood!. All your favorite characters return and stories are wrapped up.  Thoroughly enjoyable and easily recommended.  The books can stand alone, but they're much better when you read them in order.

Available June 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 Janice Thompson here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 6/12

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Thursday, June 21, 2012

City of Bones...Review

About the book:
When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder -- much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It's hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing -- not even a smear of blood -- to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary's first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It's also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace's world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know. . . .

Exotic and gritty, exhilarating and utterly gripping, Cassandra Clare's ferociously entertaining fantasy takes readers on a wild ride that they will never want to end.

I went into this book really not knowing anything about it, other than the fact that it was popular and sounded interesting.

I liked the characters well enough but while I found them somewhat flat, there were flashes of humor and brilliance.  Hopefully they will gather depth in future books.  The world that Cassandra Clare tried to create was curious, but nothing really original.  It was like Harry Potter meets Twilight meets Narnia meets Buffy.  Honestly, there was so much detail that I found myself lost at times and I found that I really didn't care.  It was as if she took every imaginary idea she had heard of or had herself and mixed them all together in one weird, convoluted world.

There was a serious ick factor between Jace and Clary that I assume was more for shock value than anything else.  I'm curious to see how it's all handled in later books.

The story is captivating enough that I will read the next one, although mostly out of curiosity because there was nothing stellar or stand out about this one.  I can see how it appeals to teens and young adults.

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

Read 6/12

* * *
3/5 Stars


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Spring Hope...Review

About the book:
Can runaway Libby Cantrell finally get a new start?

Libby Cantrell’s life has gone from bad to worse since her mother’s death. After working in a brothel to support her abusive father, she sees no hope for her future until one cold winter night when she finds the courage to escape.

When she collapses in Portersfield, Texas, exhausted, ill, and hungry, Sheriff Cory Muldoon finds her and takes her to the doctor. Against Cory’s better judgment, Seth and Erin Winston take her in and offer her a job as a nanny for their young son. As a minister, Seth sees it as his duty to take care of her. As a deputy, Cory needs to know the truth about her even as he is attracted to the waif of a young woman.

As Cory’s feelings for her grow and winter becomes spring, will he be able to accept her as she is now and truly forget and forgive her sordid past?

The Seasons of the Heart series introduced us to the wonderful Muldoon family and in Spring Hope, we finally learn Cory's story. As a sheriff in Portersfield, Texas, Cory has a satisfying job and a terrific family.  All he needs is a wife.  When he discovers Libby Cantrell huddled in a doorway, sick and exhausted, Cory is drawn to her.  He knows she has secrets and he's as determined to discover them as Libby is to hide them.

I thought Cory was a little uber self-righteous and judgmental when it came to Libby's past, but it was nice to see him learn about forgiveness, just as Libby does.  I loved revisiting the Muldoon family and I'm sad to see this series end.

Fourth in the Seasons of the Heart series, you can click the links for my reviews of Summer Dream, Autumn Song and Winter Promise.  The books can stand alone, but they are much richer stories when read in order.

Thanks to First Wildcard and Althea Thompson of Charis 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 5/12

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Cannery Row...Review

About the book: 
Unburdened by the material necessities of the more fortunate, the denizens of Cannery Row discover rewards unknown in more traditional society. 

Henri the painter sorts through junk lots for pieces of wood to incorporate into the boat he is building, while the girls from Dora Flood’s bordello venture out now and then to enjoy a bit of sunshine. Lee Chong stocks his grocery with almost anything a man could want, and Doc, a young marine biologist who ministers to sick puppies and unhappy souls, unexpectedly finds true love. 

Cannery Row is just a few blocks long, but the story it harbors is suffused with warmth, understanding, and a great fund of human values.

I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this.  I hated Tortilla Flat which is also set in Monterey and so I was a little apprehensive about Cannery Row.  However, this was an enjoyable read.

I love Monterey and I'm very familiar with Cannery Row as it is today.  The story here, if you can call it that, isn't particularly happy, but it's interesting and compelling.  The characters are motley and colorful and as you move through their stories, they are certainly entertaining.  Cannery Row was its own little community within Monterey and this is a funny, poignant glimpse into history.

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

Read 6/12

* * * *
4/5 Stars


Monday, June 18, 2012

Mary Magdalene...Review

About the book:
One woman desperate for hope. One Savior with the power to heal.

A beautiful girl blossoming into womanhood, Mary has high hopes for a life filled with learning, family, and young love. In one dreadful night, all of that changes. The nightmares come first, then the waking visions of unspeakable terror, until Mary hardly remembers her dreams for the future.

Can the Most High deliver her from this torment? How long must she wait for healing?

This vivid portrait of the enigmatic Mary of Magdala comes to life in the hands of an imaginative master storyteller. Diana Wallis Taylor introduces you to a Mary who is both utterly original and respectful of the biblical account, opening your eyes to a redemption that knows no bounds.

With colorful descriptions, the biblical world of Mary Magdalene comes to life.

Like many of our biblical heroes and heroines, little is known about Mary Magdalene and much of what has been perpetuated through the ages is speculation or inference, not fact.  Diana Wallis Taylor has crafted a wonderful story about Mary, her life and how she came to travel with the Savior.  Her life, as portrayed here, while it can't answer questions about Mary, is believable.

In the book of Luke, we read that Jesus cast out "seven devils" from Mary and Diana gives a fantastic portrayal of Mary before that event took place.  As word of Jesus and his ministry spreads, Mary's husband brings her to him, believing that he will heal her.  A wonderful cast of supporting characters brings Mary's experience to life and it is both heartbreaking and tender to read.

I particularly enjoyed Mary's interactions with the apostles and the portrayal of the last days of Jesus' ministry.

Available June 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 Diana Wallis Taylor here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 6/12

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Friday, June 15, 2012

Anniversary Waltz...Review

About the book:
At their sixtieth anniversary party, Adam Carlson asks his wife, Elizabeth, for their customary waltz. After the dance they gather the family and share their story-a story of love and courage overcoming adversity and thriving in the face of overwhelming odds.

It's the summer of 1946, and Adam has just returned from the war to his home in Reunion, Montana. At a town festival he meets Elizabeth Baxter, a young woman going steady with his former high school rival and now influential banker, Nathan Roberts.

When Adam and Elizabeth share a waltz in a deserted pavilion one evening, their feelings begin to grow and they embark on a journey, and a dance, that will last a lifetime.

As Adam returns home from WW2, he finds his family in danger of losing their farm and he meets a lovely young woman he is immediately drawn to.  Unfortunately, she is dating the banker who is threatening foreclosure on Adam's family's farm.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Adam and Elizabeth's story.  The post WW2 setting was perfect, the villain villainous. Seriously, I hated Nathan. What a jerk.  The story is captivating and simple and hard to put down.

Based on a true story, this is a sweet novel about love and relationships. 

Thanks to LeAnn Hamby of Glass Road Media Management for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Darrel Nelson here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 6/12

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Glamorous Illusions...Review

About the book:
It's the summer of 1913 and Cora Kensington's life on the family farm has taken a dark turn. Not only are the crops failing, but someone dear to Cora is failing as well.

One fateful afternoon, a stranger comes to call, and Cora discovers a terrible secret about her past...a secret that will radically change her future.

Cora is invited to take the "Grand Tour" of Europe, a trip intended to finish a person's education and solidify an understanding of refinement and ancient culture.  As she travels from England to France with kin she's never known, Cora encounters the blessings of a family name, as well as the curses.  But when an unbidden love begins to form, she realizes there are far greater challenges ahead...

Copper barons, small town Montana, family secrets and adventure.  Facing the loss of the family farm and the possible death of the man she always believe to be her father, Cora has no idea what is in store for her when her biological father shows up at her home.  Whisked into a new life of luxury, Cora also meets her half-siblings and they are not all welcoming to her.  As her Grand Tour progresses, Cora discovers new people and new places, but more importantly, she discovers her inner strengths and faith in God.

I don't love first person, but I liked Cora and seeing her story unfold.  I loved Will and Pierre and I hope that Vivian redeems herself in later novels.  I love the European setting and reading about places I've been, even if it was in a different era. This was a delightful book and one I was reluctant to put down.

First in the Grand Tour series, I'm glad there are sequels, but I hate having to wait for them.

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

Read 5/12

* * * *

Monday, June 11, 2012

Waiting for Sunrise...Review

About the book:
Sometimes finding your future means making peace with your past. 

Patsy Milstrap wishes she could leave her past behind. Though she tries to put on a brave front for the sake of her family, the wounds still ache, and the scars on her soul are still deeply felt. At her concerned husband's gentle insistence, they take a vacation from South Carolina on Cedar Key, an idyllic island on Florida's Gulf Coast. A week in paradise will do them good, he says. 

When a familiar--and most unexpected--face greets her at a seaside restaurant, Patsy knows she can no longer run from the past. But what will opening old wounds mean? And what will the future hold? 

With a large helping of Southern charm, Waiting for Sunrise is a touching story of family, young love, and the need for forgiveness. Eva Marie Everson expertly draws out the bittersweet moments of life, weaving them into a tale that will envelop your soul.

Struggling with the after effects of a dysfunctional childhood and believing she was abandoned by her mother, Patsy tries to project a perfect, happy front for her family.  When her husband suggests a vacation to Florida, Patsy has no idea what events will unfold and how she must face her past.

Told in flashbacks, Patsy's story is one that I didn't want to put down and I couldn't wait to see who Patsy sees again at the restaurant.  It wasn't who I'd expected it to be.  I loved Gilbert and I relished how the story unfolded and resolved.

Like Chasing Sunsets, Waiting for Sunrise deals with some serious topics.  Here, it's mental illness, abandonment and post-traumatic stress.  But, it's not a heavy book.  Rather, it's a moving story about family, faith and forgiveness.  Completely enjoyable and easily recommended.

Second in the Cedar Key series, the story stands alone just fine.

Available June 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. You can learn more about Eva Marie Everson here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 5/12

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Monday, June 4, 2012

Tortilla Flat...Review

About the book:
Adopting the structure and themes of the Arthurian legend, Steinbeck created a "Camelot" on a shabby hillside above Monterey on the California coast and peopled it with a colorful band of knights. As Steinbeck chronicles their thoughts and emotions, temptations and lusts, he spins a tale as compelling, and ultimately as touched by sorrow, as the famous legends of the Round Table.

It's been a long time since I've read Steinbeck and this was one of his books I had never looked at, but I love Monterey.  So, I picked this up at the library and seriously?  I wish I had those two hours back.

Sure, the time period was difficult and the Depression affected everyone regardless where they lived or their ethnicity.  But, there's nothing redeeming about any character here.  There is nothing compelling about the story and no reason for me to even want to write a review about it.

I'm sure that there are English teachers out there who glory in having their students review drivel like this, but I can think of a lot more books more worthy of my time.

Read 6/12

1/5 Stars