Everyday Tidbits...

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Beyond Coincidence...Review

About the book:
Mixing romance, history, and a touch of the unexplained in a new novel from Jacquie Underdown about love that needs to cross oceans and time before finding a place to come true.

In 2008, 250 Australian and British soldiers are uncovered in a mass grave in Fromelles, France, lost since the Great War. One soldier, bearing wounds of war so deep it scarred his soul, cannot be laid to rest just yet.

When Lucy bumps into the achingly sad soldier during a trip to France, she doesn’t, at first glance, realise what he is – a ghost who desperately needs her help. Lucy can’t turn away from someone who needs her, even someone non-corporeal, and they travel back together to Australia in search of answers and, hopefully, some peace.

This chance meeting and unexplainable relationship sets into motion a chain-reaction of delicate coincidences that affect the intertwined lives of family, friends, and lovers in unexpected, beautiful ways.

Paranormal is not my usual genre, but I was intrigued with the premise and it sounded promising.  I loved the idea of a ghost from the past wanting help from the future.  And Freddy was terrific.  So sweet.  Historically, I appreciated the look at World War 1.  The loss of life was so great and so tragic.

After Lucy meets Freddy in France and agrees to help him, they return to Australia to track down his family and find the DNA proof they need to identify his remains and for him to finally be at peace. This process takes some time and meanwhile, we not only meet Lucy's family and former boyfriend, but Freddy's last remaining relative.  What follows is a shallow, predictable story that fell flat for me as I was dragged along Lucy's path to who knows where.

I know that part of my reaction was the vulgarity.  It's so unnecessary and while a well-placed expletive might be necessary, prolific and crass vulgarity never improves a story.  There are just certain words that I don't think belong in any conversation or description and to read them is jarring and discordant.

The premise was promising but all the parts just didn't add up to a story that captured my attention or resonated with me.  It was because I liked Freddy's character and wanted resolution for him that I finished it. However, there are many reviews more positive than my own and my opinion appears to be in the minority.

Prolific and gratuitous use of profanity.  Moderate, graphic non-marital sex.

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

Monday, September 15th: Bewitched Bookworms
Thursday, September 18th:  Reading Reality
Friday, September 19th: From the TBR Pile
Monday, September 22nd: Sara’s Organized Chaos
Wednesday, September 24th: Back Porchervations
Monday, September 29th: 2 Kids and Tired Books
Tuesday, September 30th:  Bibliotica
Wednesday, October 1st: Mom in Love with Fiction
Monday, October 6th: A Chick Who Reads
Wednesday, October 8th: Great Minds Read Alike
Monday, October 13th:  Books Like Breathing

Read 8/14

* *
2/5 Stars

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Mailbox Monday 9/29

It's time for another Mailbox Monday which was created by Marcia at To Be Continued.

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week... Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish list

This was a quiet book week, which is actually a good thing!

Accidents of Marriage  by Randy Susan Meyers, giveaway win from Silver's Reviews.


What new books did you receive?  Check out more Mailbox Monday posts here.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Want to Read List

I love Goodreads.  I started this blog mainly as a way to keep track of what books I read.  It's so easy to forget not only what books I've read but what I thought about them. At least  it is for me.  As I got into blogging and discovered so many terrific aspects about it, LibraryThing and Goodreads came onto my radar.  I signed up for both, but could only do one and I loved the format of Goodreads.

I'm forever adding books to my "Want to Read" List.  Some days this seems a ridiculous thing to do as my list just gets longer and longer, but there are so many books out there that are appealing!

This is what I've added this week.  What about you?

My Salinger YearHope at Dawn (Of Love and War, #1)

My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff
Hope at Dawn by Stacy Henrie

Thief of GloryPioneer Girl

Thief of Glory by Sigmund Brouwer
Pioneer Girl by Bich Minh Nguyen

The Wishing TideDriftwood Tides

The Wishing Tide by Barbara Davis
Driftwood Tides by Gina Holmes

Are any of these on your reading list?  If you've read one do you recommend it?  Are you on Goodreads?

Friday, September 26, 2014

Hearts in Harmony...Review

About the book:
Elahna Nezario gave up her musical dreams to help run the Queen of Hearts, her mother’s chocolate shop, after her sister’s sudden death. After an unfortunate run-in with Elahna’s childhood crush, owner of the Dolce Theater, not only do her dreams surge back to life, but so does her heart.

Elahna Nezario has always had a crush on Tim Aaron, brother of her best, childhood friend. He's never noticed her until she runs into his precious BMW. Working off the payment for the repairs, Elahna and Tim are thrown together and as they work to uncover some mysteries regarding his theater and her sister's death, they fall for each other.

This one fell flat for me.  I felt like I was missing a lot of history and the characters weren't easy to connect with.  The musical theater aspect was fresh.  The romance not quite so believable. I'm at a loss as to even what to write.

This is a new book in the Sweet & Clean Romance Collection from Trifecta Books and I really liked the first one I read from this series, And Something Blue. The story is truly sweet and clean and one you could give to your teenage daughter with no concerns.  Mine is only one review and you will find other more positive reviews elsewhere.

Thanks to Trifecta Books for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Raine Gillespie here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 8/14

* *
2/5 Stars

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Booking Through Thursday...Shakespeare

Okay, show of hands … who has read Shakespeare OUTSIDE of school required reading? Do you watch the plays? How about movies? Do you love him? Think he’s overrated?

The only Shakespeare I've read since graduating from college nearly two decades ago, is what I've read to help my boys with their homework.  Last year The Boy had to read Julius Caesar.  Not my favorite, but at least it was a better choice than Romeo and Juliet.  Bloody hell, I hate that one!  It was good to get back into Shakespeare though and The Boy and I had some great discussions.

I enjoy Shakespeare, I always have.  I've loved so many of the film adaptations but my favorite is seeing Shakespeare on stage.  Living in the San Francisco Bay Area for most of my life meant season tickets to Cal Shakes and now that we live in Idaho, we have enjoyed the Idaho Shakespeare Festival in Boise.  Shakespeare is meant to be performed on stage, not read in a classroom.  Although, Tom Hiddleston reading sonnets is ok in my book, any day.

I don't think William Shakespeare is the end all be all of writers, but I think there are great lessons to be learned from The Bard.  It says something about his writings when his plays are still being performed 400 years later.

Open University has a fantastic video about Shakespeare and Original Pronunciation.  The theory is that words were pronounced differently in the time of Shakespeare and that pronunciation was lost. When we speak the Old English with modern pronunciation, it sounds so pompous and over the top, when really, it isn't. The video below is about 10 minutes and is well worth your time.  It was fascinating to me and makes Shakespeare so much more enjoyable.

My bucket list includes The Globe Theater and seeing plays performed when I get to England.

Go here for more BTT posts.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Jewel of Gresham Green...Review

About the book:
Will this quaint village be the safe haven her heart craves?

To protect her precious daughter from the danger nipping at their heels, Jewel Libby must flee the only home she's ever known. Caring friends direct her to the vicarage in the peaceful dairy village of Gresham, but she arrives there to find Vicar Andrew Phelps and his wife immersed in troubles of their own. Their son Philip, a successful London surgeon, has a controlling wife who resents his close family ties. And daughter Aleda lives in a cottage on the outskirts of Gresham, where she adamantly pursues her writing career and her solitude... often to the exclusion of others.

When Andrew becomes ill and in need of his son's skills, and Aleda's quest for privacy unwittingly advances an evil man's schemes, Jewel finds the tables turned... she is the one offering support and a source of strength. But an unlikely romance is about to change everything...

I was thrilled to return to the charming dairy village of Gresham and the conclusion of the Gresham Chronicles. This story is set about 12 years after The Dowry of Miss Lydia Clark.  The Phelps children have grown up.  Grace is married to Thomas Langford.  Aleda is a spinster writer, happy in her career and life.  Philip is a successful doctor living in London, but unhappily married.

Widowed Jewel Libby fears for her young daughter who appears to have captured the attention of an evil man.  Vicar Treves and his wife Noelle help her to leave Birmingham and she arrives in Gresham looking for Vicar Phelps.  Andrew's health isn't good, so Aleda takes Jewel and Becky into her home. Philip arrives home to care for his father and Philip's wife Loretta arrives soon after.

This is a series that I hate to see end.  I have loved these characters.  I loved the addition of Jewel and Becky and was happy to see Gabriel again and have some closure to his story.  Old Gresham friends are here and we see the circle of life with its births and deaths.

Another delightful story and a fitting conclusion to the series.

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

Read 8/14

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Mailbox Monday 9/22

It's time for another Mailbox Monday which was created by Marcia at To Be Continued.

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week... Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish list

This week's arrivals.

Sam's Christmas Wish by George D. Durrant, for review from Shadow Mountain
The Mason Jar by James Russell Lingerfelt, for review from Litfuse Publicity

The James Miracle by Jason F. Wright, for review from Shadow Mountain


What new books did you receive?  Check out more Mailbox Monday posts here

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Booking Through Thursday...Family

Do other people in your family also like to read? Or are you in this on your own?

I belong to a family of readers.  The Doctor loves to read just as much as I do.  He doesn't have as much time, but he always reads before falling asleep and he often reviews books for me.  The boys are readers too.  The Boy has loved several series by Rick Riordan and Brandon Mull. He's working on a Riordan book now.  He's a junior and in AP classes, so unfortunately he has more school reading than fun reading at the moment.

The Brother reads, but he prefers graphic novels or books that feature his latest obsession.  He's reading a Godzilla book right now.

We have family trips to the bookstore.  My kids love it.  Hastings and Barnes and Noble are two of their favorite stores.

My mom and two of my sisters are readers.  One isn't.  My dad enjoyed reading and my nieces and nephews are a mixed bunch. Some do, some don't.

What about you?  Are you the only reader in your house?

Go here for more BTT posts.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes...Review

About the book:
Kat inspected rows of the same old cupcakes. They seemed to blink back at her, as if they knew she was capable of so much more.

Kat Varland has had enough of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry.

At twenty-six years old, Kat is still living in the shadows of her family in Bayou Bend, Louisiana. Still working shifts at her Aunt Maggie’s bakery. Still wondering what to do with her passion for baking and her business degree. And still single.

But when Lucas Brannen, Kat’s best friend, signs her up for a reality TV bake-off on Cupcake Combat, everything Kat ever wanted is suddenly dangled in front of her: creative license as a baker, recognition as a visionary . . . and a job at a famous bakery in New York.

As the competition heats up, Lucas realizes he might have made a huge mistake. As much as he wants the best for Kat, the only thing he wants for himself—her—is suddenly in danger of slipping away.

The bright lights of reality cooking wars and the chance at a successful career dazzle Kat’s senses and Lucas is faced with a difficult choice: help his friend achieve her dreams . . . or sabotage her chances to keep her in Louisiana.

The cupcake trend is still alive and well and Kat is frustrated working in her aunt's bakery. She loves to create and Aunt Maggie likes tradition.  When her best friend signs her up for a reality cooking show, she gets back at him by having him be her assistant.

The sparks fly, the cupcakes burn and the judges are creepy.  But, Kat is determined to win and leave Louisiana for New York.  Lucas doesn't want to lose her, but can't quite bring himself to open up and be honest about his feelings.

I don't watch television and so while I think there is a show called Cupcake Wars, I don't know how it compares to the fictional Cupcake Combat. The scenes during the filming were entertaining.  I found myself frustrated with Kat and Lucas' behavior at times, but this was a light-hearted, fun story.  I enjoy stories where best friends fall in love with each other.  The Christian elements are so light as to be practically non-existent.   I hated Kat's mom and sister.  Loved Lucas' football team.

A sweet story that is a perfect beach read or for sitting on a patio sipping something cold.

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

Read 9/14

* * *
3/5 Stars

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Love's Fortune...Review

About the book:
Sheltered since birth at her Kentucky home, Rowena Ballantyne has heard only whispered rumors of her grandfather Silas's vast fortune and grand manor in Pennsylvania. When her father receives a rare letter summoning him to New Hope, Rowena makes the journey with him and quickly finds herself in a whole new world--filled with family members she's never met, dances she's never learned, and a new side to the father she thought she knew.

As she struggles to fit in during their extended stay, she finds a friend in James Sackett, the most valued steamship pilot of the Ballantynes' shipping line. Even with his help, Rowena feels she may never be comfortable in high society. Will she go her own way . . . to her peril?

With her signature attention to historical detail, Laura Frantz brings 1850s Pennsylvania alive with a tender story of loss, love, and loyalty. Fans will cheer for this final installment of the Ballatyne saga.

Raised in rural Kentucky, Wren Ballantyne knows little of her father's family. When her father receives a letter summoning him home, Wren discovers a world that is uncomfortable and unfamiliar. As she meets cousins and begins to forge new friendships, she draws closer to James Sackett, one of her grandfather's steamship pilots.

When her sour aunt determines that Wren must have a season and procure a good marriage, she realizes the move to Pittsburgh was more than she bargained for. However, as she is forced into high society as a pawn in the family plans, Wren surprises everyone and comes into her own. But the Ballantyne heir is irresponsible, Silas falls ill and as the family is still involved in anti-slavery danger lurks on the doorstep.

I have loved the Ballantyne family. This series, while it follows the family story, jumps a generation with each book, which has worked. Everyone returns here and it's lovely to see Ellie and Jack with a large family and so happy. Silas and Eden are aging, but very much involved in family life and the Ballantyne businesses. Other family members are just as odious here as they were in previous books, but lessons are learned and love triumphs.

Laura's historical descriptions and detail are always vivid and rich. The book could stand alone, but please, do yourself a favor and read them in order. It's much better that way!

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

Read 9/14

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Mailbox Monday 9/15

It's time for another Mailbox Monday which was created by Marcia at To Be Continued.

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week... Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish list

This week's mailbox was much more manageable!

Deceived by Irene Hannon, for review from Revell
Prescription for Life: Three Simple Strategies to Live Younger Longer by Richard Furman, MD, for the Doctor to review from Revell
The Vintner's Daughter by Kristen Harnisch, giveaway win from Naida at The Bookworm


What new books did you receive?  Check out more Mailbox Monday posts here.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Weekend Reflections 9/13

Looking outside....it's blessedly cool.  Fall is on its way.

Listening...The Boy is at work.  The Artist is still asleep.

Loving...that fall is coming.  This makes me happy.

Thinking...about life, the universe.

In my kitchen...Tepanyaki with the extended family to celebrate a birthday.

Wearing...yellow pajamas.

Needing...to finish up my Friday transcription tape.  Yesterday was busy and today I'm procrastinating.

Reading...Yesterday's Tomorrow by Catherine West

Today...some family time and dinner and then a new episode of Doctor Who.  Woot!!

Hoping...to get some laundry done and my kitchen tidied up.  The Artist needs to mow the lawns.

Planning...for the week.  

Gratitude...for Hulu.  I finally got caught up on last season of Bones.

From my world...legos.  We have a house full of legos.  My big secret?  The kids put down a blanket before they dump out the legos.  Cleanup is so much easier!!

What about you?  What are you reflecting on today?

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Dowry of Miss Lydia Clark...Review

About the book:
New Love Blooms as Spring Falls on Gresham.

As Andrew and Julia Phelps enjoy newly married life, the town of Gresham awaits the next big romance. Surely with spring around the corner, new love must soon arrive, but few could predict where it would blossom.

Reserved schoolmistress Lydia Clark had resigned herself to solitary life when she suddenly finds herself with two eligible men seeking her hand. But even as she considers their offers, her heart is drawn to someone else. Newcomer Noelle Somerville has settled in Gresham with secrets to hide, and nursing a broken heart. An unexpected turn of events makes her wildest dreams seem possible at last.

More than one unlikely romance blooms among the villagers, and readers will be delighted as timid hearts are renewed by the joy of unforeseen love.

Like the first two books in the series, The Widow of Larkspur Inn and The Courtship of the Vicar's Daughter, the story is about the quaint dairy village of Gresham and not just about the title character.

Lydia is courted by the rugged and coarse Harold Sanders, but finds her heart stolen by archaeologist Jacob Pitney who is interested in the distant overly romantic Miss Rawlins.  Pretending to be a widow, Noelle Somerville arrives in Gresham having been sent away by her married lover and finds herself residing at the Larkspur Inn with its quirky lodgers.  Spoiled and petulant, Noelle's transformation is one I enjoyed as much as I did Harold Sanders'.

I love the village of Gresham.  I adore the villagers and their personalities and quirks.  I love the progression and growth they show.  Old favorites return, new residents arrive and as always, finding your true path is the most important thing of all.

Third in the Gresham Chronicles series, the book could stand alone, but is all the richer if you have read the first two books.

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

Read 8/14

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Thursday, September 11, 2014

9/11 Never Forget

Where were you that September day?
Is your flag flying today?
Have you forgotten?
Do you think it's important to remember

The Brother is 13. He was 9 months old on September 11, 2001. He knows about the twin towers, but is just now starting to understand what really happened. Last night we talked a bit about that day and where we were and how we felt.

There are significant moments in life that stand out, whether they are personal or national. My mother remembers the day President Kennedy was assassinated. I have memories of the moon landing and I remember watching the twin towers fall and the terror and uncertainty of 9/11.

How grateful I am for those who founded this country and created an inspired Constitution that still stands despite efforts to destroy it. How grateful I am to live in a country that is still free. How grateful I am for the men and women who serve in the military and for those who have given their lives in service of this country so I can enjoy the freedoms I have.

God Bless America.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

And Something Blue...Review

About the book:
Bridal consultant Laurie Fletcher spends her days helping others prepare for the most special day of their lives. Will true love ever come her way, or is she doomed to watch others get their happily ever after?

Laurie Fletcher wants nothing more than to one day own her own bridal shop. But in the meantime, she works as a bridal consultant advising brides in the purchase of their wedding dresses.  When bride Kelly and her mother and brother Logan come into Laurie's shop to purchase a high end expensive wedding dress, Laurie is not impressed at all with Logan.  But, he keeps coming back into her life and her store and she can't help herself falling for him.

While the characters in this story are young adult, this little book reminded me of those 1980s First Love from Silhouette teen romances.  Short and sweet and clean.  Please tell me I wasn't the only girl to read them!  The characters here are terrific and this is a story about friendship as much as it is about romance.  Laurie and her roommates are delightful as are the other Mainstreet Merchants in the quaint town of Aspen Ridge, Colorado.

The story is lightly predictable, but entertaining and sweet.  I loved Laurie and I enjoyed watching her story unfold and come together.  The novel is short and easily read in a sitting.

This is the first book in the new Sweet & Clean Romance Collection from Trifecta Books.  It's a terrific, light escape read and one you can pass onto your teenage daughter with no concerns.  And Something Blue is first in the Mainstreet Merchants series and I look forward to more.

Thanks to Trifecta Books for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Paige Timothy here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 8/14

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Nowhere to Turn...Review

About the book:
The day Danielle Harding takes her 11-year-old son, Simon, and flees from her abusive husband, is the same day Kurt Harding dies. A relieved Dani believes she and her son are finally safe--but in reality, the danger has just begun. When Kurt was alive, he took something important to a mysterious person. That person wants the item back and believes Dani now has it. As she and her son run for their lives, they have nowhere to turn, until she hires Adam Buchanan of Operation Refuge and goes into hiding. Unfortunately, she won't be able to hide for long . . .

From the first breathless scene, this tension-laced story will hold readers in its iron grip. Bestselling author Lynette Eason propels readers along at a breakneck pace in a race to discover the truth and a better future.

Danielle Harding finally finds the courage to leave her abusive husband and later than day, he is killed. Relieved that she is safe from him, Danielle learns that dangerous men are after something that Kurt took and aren't above killing Danielle or her son to get it.  Desperate to protect herself and her son, Dani contacts Operation Refuge and Adam Buchanan for protection.  But, twists and turns threaten them from every angle.

Lynette Eason is a master at the roller coaster of emotion. The characters are terrific.  Flawed but well developed.  From the very beginning of this novel, the story is fast-paced and exciting.  I read it in one evening.

Second in the Hidden Identity series, the book stands alone just fine.  I didn't read the first one and wasn't aware this was a sequel until I received it.

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

Read 8/14

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Mailbox Monday 9/8

It's time for another Mailbox Monday which was created by Marcia at To Be Continued.

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week... Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish list

Here's what arrived at my house this week.

The Moonlight Palace by Liz Rozenberg (Amazon Kindle First Pick)
Where Treetops Glisten by Tricia Goyer, Cara Putnam and Sarah Sundin (for review from Litfuse Publicity)

A Dream of Home by Amy Clipston via Netgalley
Penelope (The Three Mrs. Monroes Book 2) by Bernadette Marie via Netgalley

No library books this week!


What new books did you receive?  Check out more Mailbox Monday posts here.