Everyday Tidbits...

Be Kind. Do Good. Love is a Verb.

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Last Bride...Review

About the book:
Of her Old Order parents' five daughters, Tessie Miller is the last to marry. She has her heart set on Amishman Marcus King, but Tessie's father opposes the match.

Impetuously, Tessie and Marcus elope to the English world, then return to Hickory Hollow to live as singles, trusting they'll convince the Millers to give their love a chance over time. But when the unthinkable happens, Tessie faces the almost-certain censure of the People. Will she find a reason for hope in spite of her desperate plight?

Not understanding the opposition to their marriage, Tessie and Marcus secretly elope and return to Hickory Hollow to live as singles, hoping that Tessie's parents will finally come around.  But, when Tessie discovers her pregnancy and tragedy happens, she is uncertain of what her future will hold.

While I liked Tessie and Marcus and Mandy, I found myself frustrated with Tessie's father Ammon.  I wanted to shake him for not revealing his reasons behind opposing their marriage.  I get that he wanted Tessie to be obedient to him no matter what, but to withhold the reason was simply heartbreaking.  The Amish faith fascinates me and again, I will admit my frustrations with the rigidity of it all.

I enjoyed the side story of Mandy and Sylvan as she struggled to come to terms with her marriage to a man of her father's choosing and not her own.  Their growth together was sweet to watch.

The exploration of genetic diseases was absorbing as I was not aware of the problems that plague many Amish and Mennonite communities due to generations of close intermarrying.  Such a heartbreaking experience for so many.

I nearly always enjoy Beverly Lewis and her Hickory Hollow series is terrific.  I love that these aren't sequels, so you need not read the books in order, but if you have, past characters pop up here and there for a delightful surprise.

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

Read 4/14

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Love Comes Calling...Review

About the book:
A girl with the best of intentions.
A heart set on Hollywood.
An empty pocketbook.

That's all it takes for Ellis Eton to find herself working as a telephone operator for a look-alike friend. For Ellis, this job will provide not only acting practice but the funds to get her a start in the movies. She's tired of always being a disappointment to her traditional Boston family, and though she can't deny the way he makes her head spin, she knows she's not good enough for Griffin Phillips, either. It's simple: avoid Griff's attentions, work, and get paid. But in typical Ellis fashion, her simple plan spirals out of control when she overhears a menacing phone call...with her very own Griff as the target.

With an endearing heroine as her lead, Siri Mitchell takes readers on a madcap tale of love and discovering one's true desires!

Ellis Eton is a scatterbrained society girl.  Privileged, but not quite living up to her family's expectations.  She's easily distracted and forgetful.  When a look-alike friend asks for a favor, Ellis says yes before she realizes what that favor entails.  Forced to work as a responsible telephone operator proves nearly impossible and when she inadvertently overhears a phone call that threatens her friend, she decides to investigate that threat herself.

In the author's notes, Siri Mitchell says that she deliberately gave Ellis ADHD to see how it would have affected a society girl of the 1920s.  She did a great job with her research because Ellis is spot on.  However, translated into a first person narrative, the jumpy characteristics of Ellis' mind were chaotic and tiring.  Her antics were sometimes hilarious, but mostly annoying.  Griff was a great character and I would have loved to know more about Janie.  Pet peeve here: while the novel has an appropriate ending to Griff and Ellis' story, we never have a resolution to Janie's story and the consequences to Ellis masquerading as her.

Not my favorite and one I won't reread.  There were parts I liked, but for the most part, this story just made me tired.  Fans of Siri Mitchell will probably enjoy it, but I would not recommend it as your introduction to Siri's books.  For that read, She Walks in Beauty.

Thanks to Baker Publishing for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Siri Mitchell here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

* * *
3/5 Stars

Monday, April 14, 2014

Lost Lake...Review

About the book:
From the author of New York Times bestseller Garden Spells comes a beautiful, haunting story of old loves and new, and the power of the connections that bind us forever…

The first time Eby Pim saw Lost Lake, it was on a picture postcard. Just an old photo and a few words on a small square of heavy stock, but when she saw it, she knew she was seeing her future.

That was half a life ago. Now Lost Lake is about to slip into Eby’s past. Her husband George is long passed. Most of her demanding extended family are gone. All that’s left is a once-charming collection of lakeside cabins succumbing to the Southern Georgia heat and damp, and an assortment of faithful misfits drawn back to Lost Lake year after year by their own unspoken dreams and desires.

It’s a lot, but not enough to keep Eby from relinquishing Lost Lake to a developer with cash in hand, and calling this her final summer at the lake. Until one last chance at family knocks on her door.

Lost Lake is where Kate Pheris spent her last best summer at the age of twelve, before she learned of loneliness, and heartbreak, and loss. Now she’s all too familiar with those things, but she knows about hope too, thanks to her resilient daughter Devin, and her own willingness to start moving forward. Perhaps at Lost Lake her little girl can cling to her own childhood for just a little longer… and maybe Kate herself can rediscover something that slipped through her fingers so long ago.

One after another, people find their way to Lost Lake, looking for something that they weren’t sure they needed in the first place: love, closure, a second chance, peace, a mystery solved, a heart mended. Can they find what they need before it’s too late?

At once atmospheric and enchanting, Lost Lake shows Sarah Addison Allen at her finest, illuminating the secret longings and the everyday magic that wait to be discovered in the unlikeliest of places.

When Eby Pim and her husband George purchased Lost Lake and its quaint cabins, they could have ever imagined the legacy it would leave or the lives it would transform.  Now, faced with the pressure to sell, Eby wants to enjoy her last few weeks at the lake.

Eby's niece, Kate, remembers the wonderful summer she spent at Lost Lake as a 12 year old.  After the loss of her husband, she impulsively returns to Lost Lake with her daughter.  Also arriving are a motley assortment of people who each return, searching.  For what, they don't know.  Together, they wander the pathways and share meals and memories, laughter and tears and along the way, the different closures they needed.

The best part of Sarah Addison Allen's book is her way with magical realism.  That mystical element is like the final sprinkle of sugar on the top of a cake, finishing it off with that perfect touch.  Here, it's Devin's innocence and her belief in the alligator; Lisette's ghost and everyone's pursuit of answers and the discovery of memories.

I could not put this novel down. Sarah Addison Allen never disappoints.  Ever.  Her books are enchanting, her characters appealing, her stories captivating.

Thanks to She Reads for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Sarah Addison Allen here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 4/14

* * * * *
5/5 Stars

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A Year With Six Sisters' Stuff: 52 Menu Plans, Recipes, and Ideas to Bring Families Together...Review

About the book
"What's for dinner?" Three words every mom dreads.

Don't panic! The Six Sisters are here to help you answer that question. The Sisters have gathered together more than 150 of their most popular recipes for entrees, side dishes, and desserts and have combined them into 52 stress-free menus of perfectly prepared three-course meals.

Filled with delicious tried-and-true family favorites and oh-so-easy-to-make dishes, A Year with Six Sisters' Stuff features all-new recipes using basic ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen. Each menu is designed to make your dinner plans as easy as possible—and with such wide variety and a photograph accompanying every recipe in the book, you can easily mix and match menus to create a year's worth of dinner ideas.

In addition, the Sisters share some of their favorite family dinner traditions and crafts, as well as 52 dinner conversation starters, a list of pantry staples, and, food storage plan for beginners.

So what's for dinner? Whatever you'd like.

Continuing on the success of their blog and their first cookbook, the Six Sisters have a second. Like the first one, Six Sisters' Stuff,  this includes crafts and fun suggestions as well as recipes.  Also as with the first book, all of the recipes are easy to make and call for ingredients you most likely have in your kitchen. Again there is a strong reliance on prepared/canned ingredients like canned soup, cake mixes, frozen bread and refrigerator pie crusts and biscuits.  The difference with this cookbook is that the recipes are organized as complete menus, each with a main dish, side or salad or bread and a dessert. Each recipe has a photograph which is something I really appreciate.

I made Snickerdoodle Blondies because I wanted a non-chocolate dessert for a family dinner (The Doctor is allergic to chocolate).  The recipe came together easily and was a hit with my family. While it is lacking the distinct tartness that comes with true Snickerdoodles, this was nevertheless a hit with my family.  My mom and sister both requested the recipe and the kids couldn't get enough. It's pretty rich and goes well with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

I have quite a few other recipes marked and look forward to trying them.

Thanks to Shadow Mountain for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about the Six Sisters here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 4/14

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Monday, April 7, 2014

My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag...Review

About the book:
The author of the hit column "Ask a Clean Person" offers a hilarious and practical guide to cleaning up life’s little emergencies.

Life is filled with spills, odors, and those oh-so embarrassing stains you just can’t tell your parents about. And let’s be honest: no one is going to ask Martha Stewart what to do when your boyfriend barfs in your handbag.

Thankfully, Jolie Kerr has both staggering cleaning knowledge and a sense of humor. With signature sass and straight talk, Jolie takes on questions ranging from the basic—how do I use a mop? —to the esoteric—what should I do when bottles of homebrewed ginger beer explode in my kitchen? My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag proves that even the most nightmarish cleaning conundrums can be solved with a smile, the right supplies, and a little music.

I was not familiar with the author or her column before reading this book.  The book is full of cleaning tips and tricks and assorted related anecdotes to go along with them.

This is a book you can just sit down and read straight through or you can simply pick it up if you're looking for ideas for specific cleaning issues.  It is written narrative style with paragraphs of information, so don't expect bulleted points or lists.

The chapters are divided by rooms and there is an index in the back.

While it's funny, there is some adult humor and the chapter titled, "The Things You Really Can't Ask Martha (or Mom for That Matter)" is definitely mature, simply because of the topics addressed.

I can't say this is a book I will use for reference, but it was entertaining and enlightening, that's for sure.  It would make a fun gift for someone open-minded.

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

Read 4/14

* * *
3/5 Stars

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Dream Dress...Review

About the book:
Big dreams take big leaps of faith . . . but what if you trip on the way?

A lowly seamstress at a swanky bridal boutique, Gabi Delgado dreams of doing more than ripping out seams and fitting dresses to doe-eyed brides. She wants to see her own original dress designs gracing the young women of Texas. But when Jordan Singer, reporter for Texas Bride magazine, visits the shop to do a feature, Gabi is humbled in his influential--and unnervingly handsome--presence.

Convinced she'll never get her dreams off the ground now, Gabi needs lots of encouragement--especially from her friend Bella Neeley--to take a chance and start her business. And as she gets to know Jordan, she discovers that she may have to take a chance on love as well.

Gabi works for a narcissistic designer who sees her as nothing more than the Cinderella-esque drudge who sits in a closet making alterations to wedding gowns.  However, on the side, Gabi secretly designs wedding gowns lovelier than anything Demetri ever created.  With her good friends Bella and Scarlet encouraging her, and a handsome journalist at her side, Gabi finally makes a break to go out on her own.  But, not without a comedy of errors, lots of hysterical one-liners, a cast of quirky characters and a myriad of laugh out loud moments along the way.

Janice Thompson is queen of the romantic comedy.  I look forward to her books and I am never, ever disappointed.  I loved these new characters just as much as I've loved her previous ones and I was so happy to see the Rossi family return en masse here.  The Dream Dress was a delightful escape and simply a fun book to read.

Third in the Weddings by Design series, the novel stands alone just fine, but the entire series is terrific and I highly recommend reading Picture Perfect and Icing on the Cake as well as the Weddings by Bella series.

Thanks to Lanette at 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 4/14

* * * *
4/5 Stars