Sunday, October 30, 2011

Monday Memes

This month Mailbox Monday is being hosted by Savy Verse and Wit.  She asks what books arrived in either snail mail or email.  This week I got three books via snail mail:




However, I picked up quite a few on NetGalley


It's Monday What Are You Reading is hosted by Sheila over at Book Journey.  She asks what we read last week, what we reviewed last week and what we plan to read this week.

I read:






I reviewed:






Also, I participate in Top Ten Tuesday and my post this week was on 10 Catholic Novels.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival

I'd like to welcome everyone to Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival.  We are a group of Catholic bloggers who gather weekly to share our best posts with each other.  To particpate, go to your blog and create an entry titled Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival.  In it, highlight one or more of your posts from the past week that you believe would be of interest to Catholic bloggers---whether they are posts reflecting on spiritual matters or posts about antics of Catholic kids, or anything in between.  Come back here and enter the URL of that post below.  Finally, go visit other participants, and leave comments!  If you want a weekly reminder to post, join our yahoogroup.

I was busy being a Girl Scout leader this afternoon.  We went to Red Bluff Farms and got to see animals, pretend to ride tractors and even see how a string drill worked.


What, you came here to read about blog posts, not my favorite seven year old?  Oh, ok.  Let's see, this week I wrote about an Amish novel,   One of the best ones I've read lately has been Refuge on Crescent Hill,  Sugar, Sugar is a cookbook.  My Top Ten post this week was Ten Catholic Novels.

How about you?




Friday, October 28, 2011

A Stranger's Gift: My Review

A Stranger's Gift (Women of Pinecraft)

About the Book:
You’ll be swept away by the endearing characters created by award-winning author Anna Schmidt. On the heels of a horrific hurricane, Hester Detweiler, field director for the Mennonite Disaster Service, blows into the life of self-made, shunned Amish man John Steiner. Will she find a way through his shield and into his heart? Although the hurricane has left John homeless and badly injured, the last thing he wants is some do-gooder Mennonite woman intruding in his life. Will his impatience with her intention of restoring his faith and property keep him from accepting this beguiling stranger’s kindness?

My Comments:
Even though you are reading this in late October, I read the book the weekend of Tropical Storm Lee, which also happened to be close to the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, so it fit right in with what was happening.  We watch Hester prepare for the Hurricane and then help people get back on their feet afterwards.  We see politicians come in, including John's aunt, who is in Congress.  I liked it when she said that coming in for photo  ops is what politicians do "when the media pushes our buttons and we don't know what else to do" (remember this is a galley and the final wording may be different).  

Hester is an Mennonite who dresses much like the Amish but lives in a house with electricity and has a college education. Her people worship in churches, whereas the Amish worship in homes.  Hester is an anomaly among her closely-knit people--a woman in leadership, a woman with a position outside the home (even though she is a volunteer and not paid).  She is an old maid more due to circumstances than choice.  John was raised Amish but went his own way.  He is determined to show that he can live without other people.

In a lot of ways, the book is a study in contrasts.  John has two books he saves during the Hurricane--Walden Pond and The Bible.  John rejects people; Hester is always trying to help.  Neither of them really fit in.  Both need to heal.  

I thought the characters in the book were well done as were the descriptions of life after a major storm.  It's a romance novel so I figured out pretty quickly where it was going, but you read books like this for the ride, not the destination.  Grade:  B.

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  I was not obligated to write a positive review (or any review at all).  

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Blog Tour: Refuge on Crescent Hill


About the Book:
Jobless, homeless, and broke, Camden Bristow decides to visit the grandmother she hasn't seen in years. But when Camden arrives in Etherton, Ohio, she discovers that her grandmother has passed away, leaving her the 150-year-old mansion on Crescent Hill. The site of her happiest summers as a child, the run-down mansion is now her only refuge.

When Camden finds evidence that she may not be the mansion's only occupant, memories of Grandma Rosalie's bedtime stories about secret passageways and runaway slaves fuel her imagination. What really happened at Crescent Hill? Who can she turn to for answers in this town full of strangers? And what motivates the handsome local Alex Yates to offer his help? As she works to uncover the past and present mysteries harbored in her home, Camden uncovers deep family secrets within the mansion's walls that could change her life—and the entire town—forever.

My Comments:
This one is a winner.  It has mystery, suspense, history, and even some romance.  It is Christian fiction, but not overly religious.  Two women in two different families are looking for answers to pretty much the same questions.  It is a little confusing at first to keep everyone straight, but then the threads start to come together.  It has a nice pro-life message too.  Not everyone could pull off this story, but Dobson does a great job with it and I highly recommend it.  Grade:  B+

You can read the first few chapters here.  Learn more about Melanie Dobson here.

Special Note: Refuge on Crescent Hill will be available on Amazon Kindle FREE for one week starting October 31!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Cookbook Review: Sugar Sugar

Sugar, Sugar: Every Recipe Has a Story

About the Book:


Sugar, Sugar offers 100 of the best cake, pie, cookie, bar, and candy recipes from two sassy Sugar Mommas, Kimberly Reiner and Jenna Sanz-Agero, who are on a mission to preserve America's best sweet treat recipes and the even sweeter stories behind them. As the Sugar Mommas explain, "We drove down memory lane to discover our sugar inheritance, and then dug into everyone else's past to find their dusty, torn, and butter-crusted index cards."

What the Sugar Mommas found was that every recipe has a story. From desserts that accompanied families through good and bad times, to treats perfected by domestic help, to never-before-transcribed sugar concoctions developed from wild imaginations, each recipe conveys the unique personality of the friend or family member who created it.

With plenty of pies worth the lie, cakes to diet for, and better-than-nooky cookies, as well as an assortment of cobblers, crisps, bars, and other decadent confections, Sugar, Sugar is sure to satisfy any sweet tooth.

My Comments:
If I receive a paper or Kindle review copy of a cookbook, you've probably noticed that my usual routine is to pick a recipe and try it, and photograph the results (and my assistant) for this blog.  It all I get is a temporary NetGalley file to review on my computer, you all get a quick run down on my initial impression, but as I've said before, I don't take computers into the kitchen.  This is one of those cookbooks I'd like to keep.  It is filled with really yummy sounding recipes for all sorts of things I shouldn't be eating, and has enough pictures to really make me want to try them.  Some of the recipes have family stories to go with them, and cooking tips are interspersed throughout the book.  It's a pretty book and would make a great gift for the dessert maven in your life.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Catholic Novels

Those who read what is often known as "genre" fiction are often familiar with the term "Christian fiction".  In short, "Christian fiction" books are those which, while they try to tell a good story, also try to promote Christian values, attitudes and beliefs.  Different authors and publishers have different leanings.  Some books seem like little more that sermons dressed up as stories.  Others deal in a very real way with the spiritual struggles faced by believers.  Some seem to be more about Christians than about Christianity.  Still, the overwhelming majority of those books are written by, for and about Evangelical Protestants.  References to Catholic beliefs and practices are often critical where they exist, or in error.  As a Catholic who reads a lot of Christian fiction I've often said that I wished a similar genre existed for Catholics, but few Catholic publishers will consider fiction.  This leaves the Catholic author who is writing a faith-based book with few options when it comes time to find a publisher.  

As a Catholic book blogger I seek out books that seem to be the Catholic version of Christian fiction.  This means I've read a bunch of self-published books of varying degrees of quality.  My Top 10 this week is 10 Catholic novels--books which in a rather obvious way promote Catholic beliefs, traditions or practices.  Links to my reviews follow the book covers.





















Check out Amanda's Blog for other people's Top 10 Lists.

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