Everyday Tidbits...

Be Kind. Do Good. Love is a Verb.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Fictional Characters

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Place in His Heart...Review

About the book:
Anglican Mary Langton longs to marry for love. Puritan Barnabas Horton is still in love with his deceased wife and needs only a mother for his two young sons. And yet these two very different people with very different expectations will take a leap of faith, wed, and then embark on a life-changing journey across the ocean to the Colonies. Along the way, each must learn to live in harmony, to wait on God, and to recognize true love where they least expect to find it.

This heartfelt tale of love and devotion is based on debut author Rebecca DeMarino's own ancestors, who came to Long Island in the mid-1600s to establish a life--and a legacy--in the New World.

Widowed Barnabas Horton needs a mother for his children.  Mary Langton wishes to marry for love and not to the young man of her father's choosing.  Already in love with Barnabas, she agrees to marriage, knowing that he is still in love with his dead wife, but hopeful he will come to love her as well.  When their lives are threatened because of Barnabas' disillusionment with the Church of England, they travel to the New World and become among the first settlers on Long Island. Along the way, they deal with infertility and learn to recognize the love they have together.

I enjoyed this story and all of its facets.  The family differences; Mary's inability to cook and care for a home, Barnabas' patience in teaching her and her growth as a wife and mother; and the fear and trepidation of traveling across an ocean to an unknown land.  There were so many secondary characters and I would love to read Jeremy's story.  As Barnabas' brother and the ship captain, he was a terrific character in his own right.

I loved the historical aspect and the research was extensive.  The novel is based on the author's own ancestors, real people who were the first settlers on Long Island.  This glimpse into the life and times of the early colonists and the ways of cooking and preparing food in the wild and the rigours of establishing a settlement was fascinating.

This was a terrific debut novel and I look forward to more.

Thanks to Lanette at Baker Publishing for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Rebecca DeMarino here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 6/14

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Monday, June 16, 2014

Somebody Like You...Review

About the book:
Can a young widow find love again with her husband’s reflection?

Haley’s three-year marriage to Sam, an army medic, ends tragically when he’s killed in Afghanistan. Her attempts to create a new life for herself are ambushed when she arrives home one evening—and finds her husband waiting for her. Did the military make an unimaginable mistake when they told her Sam was killed?

Too late to make things right with his estranged twin brother, Stephen discovers Sam never told Haley about him. As Haley and Stephen navigate their fragile relation­ship, they are inexorably drawn to each other. How can they honor the memory of a man whose death brought them together—and whose ghost could drive them apart?

Somebody Like You is a beautifully rendered, affecting novel, reminding us that while we can’t change the past, we have the choice to change the future and start anew.

After her husband's death in Afghanistan, Haley Ames works to come to terms with it and move forward in her life.  Pregnant and alone, she returns home one evening to find her husband's ghost sitting on her porch; Sam's estranged twin brother, Stephen.  Sam never told Haley about Stephen, but Stephen wants to learn about his brother and the years they missed together.  Haley is in need of a friend and support.  As they navigate these new waters, Haley and Sam are drawn to each other.  Stephen soon ceases to be simply Sam's lookalike and instead becomes the man Haley needs.

There are so many facets to this book.  The characters are flawed but well developed.  They stumble and fall, they laugh and cry.  The exploration of romance with a deceased spouse's sibling is well done, the mourning and grief and guilt felt by a surviving spouse is spot on.  I loved these characters.  I couldn't put the book down.

I received a complimentary copy for review.  You can learn more about Beth K. Vogt here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 6/14

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Mom's Night Out...Review

About the book:
Mom’s Night Out is a novelization of the hilarious family comedy that celebrates real family life—where everything can go wrong and still turn out all right.

All Allyson and her friends want is a peaceful, grown-up evening of dinner and conversation . . . a long-needed moms’ night out. But in order to enjoy high heels, adult conversation and food not served in a bag, they need their husbands to watch the kids for a few hours—what could go wrong?

Chronicling one night out gone awry, three harried moms, their husbands, a sister-in-law with a misplaced baby, a tattoo parlor owner, a motorcycle gang, and a bewildered cabbie all learn to embrace the beautiful mess called parenting. This book spotlights the unfulfilled expectations and serial self-doubts many moms feel . . . then reassures us that the key is raising kids in a loving home. Mom’s Night Out is an endearing, true-to-life comedy.

I could relate to Allyson and Sondra in so many ways.  My kids are teenagers now and my mothering challenges have changed, but I well remember the haggard days of mothering littles.  The story is a bit far-fetched and not quite plausible and I don't believe that every dad out there is as clueless as these men seemed to be, but the story is endearing.  I loved the Christian elements, I loved the focus on motherhood and its importance.  The scene with Bones and Allyson in the police station is beautiful as this huge intimidating biker/tattoo artist encourages a harried, doubting young mom.

I haven't seen the film yet, but it's at our dollar theater and so my sister and I are going.  As far as I can tell, this book is a true to the film novelization and it's laugh out loud funny.

My only complaint is that the copy I received reads as if it were an unedited ARC with some glaring and careless editing errors.  My copy is not marked as an ARC, so I don't know if this is truly a finished copy and if it is, errors like these are disappointing.

Thanks to Litfuse Publicity for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Tricia Goyer here.  You can see other reviews and tour stops here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 6/14

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Mom's Night Out and Other Things I Miss: Devotions to Help You Survive!...Review

About the book:
As a Mom, couldn’t you use a good laugh?

Inspired by the endearing, true-to-life movie Mom's Night Out, comedian Kerri Pomarolli has created this light, yet inspiring devotional that will definitely make you laugh, but will also help you discover that indeed you are not alone, and that God’s gracious provision of love and faithfulness is at work in your life and of your loved ones.

Whether you’re running full-speed-ahead or disappointed that it’s Monday (again), you’ll find joy in these devotions where Kerri shares hilarious stories and insights on daily life. Messy homes, messy kids, lost pets, never ending casseroles, forgetful husbands, and the desire to just take a long bath… This world can be a funny place, and these stories are bound to prove it. Read a devotion to brighten your morning, or catch a few words to make you smile before bed. There’s never a bad time for a good laugh, and as a Mom, you need a Moms' Night Out and Other Things I Miss: Devotions To Help You Survive.

This is a fantastic little book of devotions published to coincide with the release of the film Mom's Night Out. I am not familiar with Kerri Pomarolli, but she's hysterical.  The book is full of funny anecdotes and stories about motherhood and each ends with points to think about and ponder and a prayer.  It's one that you can almost read in a sitting or two or you can just read one at a time, one per day or one per week.  All are uplifting and funny and most we mothers can relate to.

Thanks to Litfuse Publicity for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Kerri Pomarolli here.  You can see other reviews and tour stops here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 6/14

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Monday, June 9, 2014

While Love Stirs...Review

About the book:
After graduating from Fannie Farmer's School of Cookery in 1910, Charlotte Gregory is ready to stir things up. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to travel, lecture, and give cooking demonstrations on the very latest kitchen revolution--the gas stove--and certainly doesn't mind that the gas company has hired the handsome Lewis Mathis to perform at her lectures. Lewis encourages her work, especially her crusade to introduce fresh, appetizing, nutritious food to those convalescing in hospitals. But young hospital superintendent Dr. Joel Brooks is not convinced any changes should be made--especially by this outspoken young woman.

When Charlotte and Joel are coerced into planning a fund-raising gala for the hospital, will this combustible pair explode?

Fan favorite Lorna Seilstad is back with a breezy, lighthearted love triangle that will keep readers guessing. Attention to historic detail adorns the timeless story of a young woman looking for true love and making her way in a rapidly changing world.

Charlotte Gregory is a feisty young cook, recently graduated from cooking school.  Wanting to make a name for herself, she struggles to find a restaurant that will hire her.  After winning a cooking contest, she is offered a joy traveling for the gas company and demonstrating the newest kitchen invention, the gas stove.

Meeting Dr. Joel Brooks at the hospital after her sister has given birth, Charlotte does not endear herself to the young doctor with her suggestions for improving the hospital food.   Joel and Charlotte, however, are thrown together as they plan a gala for the hospital and they find themselves drawn towards one another.

Add in a spirited younger sister and kind-hearted aunt and a jealous cooking contestant, this is one delightful story with a terrific mix of history, drama and romance with a generous dash of humor.

I have never been disappointed in Lorna Seilstad and the first novel in this series, When Love Calls, is one of my favorites.  I was thrilled when this one became available.  Second in the Gregory Sisters series, the novel stands alone just fine, but it's always a richer story if you read them in order.

Thanks to Lanette at 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 5/14

* * * * *
5/5 Stars

Friday, June 6, 2014

A Beauty So Rare...Review

About the book:
Plain, practical Eleanor Braddock knows she will never marry, but with a dying soldier's last whisper, she believes her life can still have meaning and determines to find his widow. Impoverished and struggling to care for her ailing father, Eleanor arrives at Belmont Mansion, home of her aunt, Adelicia Acklen, the richest woman in America--and possibly the most demanding, as well. Adelicia insists on finding her niece a husband, but a simple act of kindness leads Eleanor down a far different path--building a home for destitute widows and fatherless children from the Civil War. While Eleanor knows her own heart, she also knows her aunt will never approve of this endeavor.

Archduke Marcus Gottfried has come to Nashville from Austria in search of a life he determines, instead of one determined for him. Hiding his royal heritage, Marcus longs to combine his passion for nature with his expertise in architecture, but his plans to incorporate natural beauty into the design of the widows' and children's home run contrary to Eleanor's wishes. As work on the home draws them closer together, Marcus and Eleanor find common ground--and a love neither of them expects. But Marcus is not the man Adelicia has chosen for Eleanor, and even if he were, someone who knows his secrets is about to reveal them all.

Eleanor Braddock arrives at her aunt's home in Nashville, nearly destitute after the Civil War and being forced to institutionalize her father because of mental illness. Belmont Mansion is opulent and her aunt's life is far different than her own.  Eleanor is practical and plain. After working as a nurse during the war, she desires to support herself by opening a restaurant.

Marcus Gottfried, archduke of Austria, desires a life other than the royal court and royal responsibilities. With his love and knowledge of architecture and botany he also desires a life that is his own.  Thrown together as they work to build a home for widows, they each discover what is important in life.

I love strong heroines who don't need a man to be happy or successful, but who can find love on its own merit.  I adored Eleanor and her kindness and her goodness. These characters were well rounded and developed and I loved their interactions.

The historical aspect of this novel was fascinating.  I knew there were many widows and fatherless children after the war, but to read about it was quite different.  I appreciated the exploration of the humanitarian efforts expended on their behalf.

Sequel to A Lasting Impression, the book stands alone just fine. At 471 pages, this is quite the historical novel.  But don't let the length deter you.  This was also a book that I was reluctant to put down and anxious to pick back up again.

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

Read 5/14

* * * * *
5/5 Stars

The Gondola Maker...Review

About the book: In 16th-century Venice, the heir to a family boatyard rejects his destiny but is drawn to restore an old gondola with the dream of taking a girl for a ride.

Venice, 1581
Luca Vianello is the heir to the city’s most esteemed gondola-making family. But when an accidental tragedy strikes the boatyard, Luca believes his true calling lies elsewhere. Readers will appreciate the authentic details of gondola craftsmanship along with a captivating tale of artisanal tradition and family bonds set in one of the world’s most magnificent settings: Renaissance Venice.

I love Venice.  It is one of my favorite cities to get lost in.  It's a perfect city to ramble around and wander and explore.  Books set in Venice and especially Renaissance Venice always find their way into my TBR stack. The historical aspect of this book was amazing.  It was well researched and vivid in its descriptions. The story provides a rich perspective of boat building and the gondola.  It provides its fair share of family relationships and drama.

Unfortunately, the character of Luca wasn't one who resonated with me and consequently the story.  I just never understood him or cared about him. The story wasn't one I particularly enjoyed, perhaps it was the first person narrative, I don't know.  I loved the setting and I loved the rich descriptions. Ultimately though, I didn't love the book.  My opinion is the minority though and you can find other, more positive reviews at Peeking Between the Pages, Library of Clean Reads, In This World of Books, and Black and Gold Girl's Books Spot.

Thanks to iRead Book Tours for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Laura Morelli here.  You can see other reviews here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 6/14

* *
2/5 Stars