Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Cold Creek Reunion: My Review


About the Book:
He was the one you called when you needed rescuing…
But who was Taft Bowman going to call when he needed help? Because ten years ago Laura Pendleton, the love of his life, had left town without a word, then or since. Now she was back, with a new last name—and two adorable, high-needs little ones in tow. Well, Taft had been stupid enough to let her go once before…he wasn't about to make the same mistake again. He'd never stopped loving her—and one look at those adorable little faces and he knew that he was meant to be with Laura and her kids forever. All he had to do was convince her that this time he was a man she could count on!

My Comments:
Ten years ago they were engaged but then he lost his parents in a crime and was mourning them in self-destructive ways.  She calls off the wedding and then leaves town.  He doesn't follow and eventually she marries another.  Though it was not a happy marriage, her husband is now dead and she has returned to her hometown with two cute kids, one of whom has Down's Syndrome.  Her mother hires him to do some work for the inn they run so of course they are thrown together.  They are both still attracted, but she's afraid to trust him again.

It is pretty much a basic romance.  At times the writing is a little melodramatic but the basic story is good, though not extraordinary.  It's pretty much what you expect from this kind of book.  Grade: B-.

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.

My Reviews of RaeAnne Thaynes' Books:
Dancing in the Moonlight
Woodrose Mountain
Blackberry Summer

Other Books by RaeAnne Thayne:

Monday, May 28, 2012

Monday Memes








This month, Mailbox Monday is hosted by Martha's Bookshelf.  Bloggers list books that arrived in either snail mail or email.





 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.


Reviewed this week:







Read this week, to be reviewed later:



Happy Memorial Day to all and God Bless our troops!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Review: Finding Our Way


About the Book:

When principal ballerina Sasha Davis suffers a career-ending injury at age thirty-eight, she leaves her Boston-based dance company and retreats to the home of her youth in Minnesota. But Sasha’s injuries limit her as much as her mother’s recent death haunts her. Concluding she can’t recover alone, Sasha reluctantly hires a temporary live-in aide.

Enter the ├╝bercapable Evelyn Burt. As large-boned as Sasha is delicate, Evelyn is her employer’s opposite in every way. Small town to Sasha’s urban chic, outgoing to Sasha’s iciness, and undaunted where Sasha is hopeless, nineteen-year-old Evelyn is newly engaged and sees the world as one big, shiny opportunity. 

Evelyn soon discovers Sasha needs to heal more than bones. Slowly, as the wounds begin to mend and the tables tilt, the two women form an unlikely alliance and discover the astounding power of even the smallest act done in the name of love. Finding Our Way Home is a story of second chances and lavish grace.

My Comments:
I enjoyed this story about one woman who is forced to end a career she loves and another who is trying to chart her future.  One woman is running from the love of her husband; the other revels in the love of her fiancee.  One is mourning the death of her mother; the other is trying to separate from her parents.  One has always been able to make her body do her bidding, but is now injured.  The other has always been uncomfortable with her body.  Each ends up being important in helping the other reach her future.  

The book is Christian fiction.  That means there are a few prayers and mentions of grace.  It also means that when Evelyn's fiancee wants to advance their physical relationship, she refuses, even though she admits she wants to go further.  There is no preaching, no salvation scene, nothing that should turn off most people who enjoy sweet reads.

One item that plays a part in the story is a snowglobe.  As in Stray Affections,  (click to read my review) another Baumbich book I reviewed, the snowglobe part of the story seemed a little weird and unnecessary.  Still, I enjoyed the book and recommend it.  Grade:  B+

I'd like to thank the publisher for providing a complimentary review copy.  You can read about her at her website.  You can read the first chapter here.

Other Charlene Ann Baumbich Books:

Review: Five Miles South of Peculiar


About the Book:
Darlene Caldwell, reigning matriarch of Sycamores, a spacious Southern estate in northern Florida, is having a birthday—her fiftieth. Her younger sister, Nolie, is helping Darlene’s boyfriend, Henry, plan a huge celebration that will involve almost everyone in the small town of Peculiar. But Darlene doesn’t know the party planners have invited her twin sister, Carlene, to come from New York for the festivities—after all, it’s Carlene’s birthday, too, and before Carlene went off to become a famous singer on Broadway she was toasted as Peculiar’s Buttercup Squash Festival Queen.

    So Nolie and Henry send off the invitation…and are stunned when Carlene actually shows up, dragging luggage and a load of family baggage in her wake. Can these sisters reach an understanding and learn to live together in peace?

My Comments:
I loved it.  What more is there to say?  There is no relationship quite like that between sisters.  Love, support, jealousy, insecurity, and how many more emotions, come up when sisters come together.  Darlene and Nolie have never left the small town in which they were raised.  Carlene has been in New York, singing on Broadway, since she finished high school.  She's been back to visit, but those visits have been few and brief, and no one knows why.  Darlene and Carlene are twins, and used to be close.  They aren't anymore--but neither knows the reason the other pulled away.  Nolie is younger and has always been the baby of the family, even though she is now near forty.  After a humiliating end to a romantic relationship years ago, she has chosen to remain a semi-child in the family home.  She has never risked that type of love again.  

All three sisters are stuck; while life is pleasant enough for all of them, none of them have really grown in the last few years, they are stagnating.  This is the story of what happens when external events bring change and therefore growth to their lives.  

Like most of Angela Hunts books, Five Miles South of Peculiar is considered Christian fiction.  Like most of them, it is heavy on the fiction, light on the Christian.  One of the main characters is a preacher; however he doesn't preach, or pray very much.  I think most people who enjoy what is considered "women's fiction" would like this, whether or not they like religious fiction.  

I'd like to thank the publisher for providing a complimentary review copy.  I was not obligated to write a positive review, but in this case I couldn't do anything else.  Grade:  A.  

My Reviews of Other Books by Angela Hunt:

Saturday, May 26, 2012

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'm glad to have everyone here, and just want to remind you that posts linked below should contain a link back here.


This week I blogged about how I get all those books I review, and the post includes a couple of Catholic programs.  



Big Sky Country: My Review




About the Book:
The illegitimate son of a wealthy rancher, Sheriff Slade Barlow grew up in a trailer hitched to the Curly-Burly hair salon his mother runs. He was never acknowledged by his father…until now. Suddenly, Slade has inherited half of Whisper Creek Ranch, one of the most prosperous in Parable, Montana. That doesn't sit well with his half brother, Hutch, who grew up with all the rights of a Carmody—including the affections of Joslyn Kirk, homecoming queen, rodeo queen, beauty queen, whom Slade has never forgotten.
But Joslyn is barely holding her head up these days as she works to pay back everyone her crooked stepfather cheated. With a town to protect, plus a rebellious teenage stepdaughter, Slade has his hands full. But someone has to convince Joslyn that she's responsible only for her own actions—such as her effect on this lawman's guarded heart.

My Comments:
Like many of Linda Lael Miller's other books, this one is set in Montana in a small town.  My guess is that future books will feature some of the characters in this one (like Hutch).  I enjoyed this book and enjoyed watching these two deal with hurts caused by their parents.  I could tell  you that the writing was extraordinary or the plot original, but that wouldn't be true.  The book is pretty much what you expect looking at the cover and so if you are looking for a fun western romance and don't mind a little steam, you should enjoy this one.  Grade:  B.

Other Linda Lael Miller Books:

My Review My Review My Review My Review My Review

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Top Ten Tuesay: Sources of Review Copies


Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings


One of the fun things about being a book blogger is having access to review copies of books.  Review copies can be the same as the ones than can be bought in the store, or they can be specially printed Advance Review Copies (ARCs) which have special covers, have not gone through the final editing procedure and are not meant to be kept after the real books are printed, or they can be digital.  As bloggers develop larger audiences and experience, publicists and authors find them and offer them review copies; however new bloggers (or established bloggers who wish to review books) often wonder how they can get books to review.  To that end, I give you ten sources:

1.
Your public library

I know it isn't what some new bloggers want to hear, but many sources of review copies only want to use established bloggers.  Review your favorite books regularly; eventually you will be established.

2.
The Catholic Company
The Catholic Company

The Catholic Company is a Catholic bookstore which allows most Catholic bloggers to join its review program.  They publish a list of books on which they want reviews.  As a blogger, you are allowed to order one at a time, as many as you are able to read and review.  Right now there are thirty-three items on their list ranging from prayer books to biographies.  They rarely have fiction but there are exceptions (like the Lily books I've reviewed).  Join here.

3.
Tiber River Reviewers 
I'm an official Catholic product reviewer for TiberRiver.com
The Tiber River Review program is run by Aquinas and More Catholic Bookstore.  You can join here.  The program is similar to The Catholic Company's but they limit the number of free books you can obtain per year.  However, they encourage you to post reviews of other Catholic books you purchase or otherwise obtain, rewarding  you with points which can eventually be traded for books or other merchandise.  While they have some good material, I find their site difficult to use and I often  don't receive books I thought I was requesting.

4.
Booksneeze
I review for BookSneeze®

Booksneeze is the program of Thomas Nelson publishers.  At this moment they have a large number of digital review copies available, both fiction and non-fiction.  They also have children's books.  The print books they have right now deal mainly with spiritual growth and development.  Booksneeze is very popular and if you want print copies, you need to keep a close eye on their site and grab them when they go up.  Many of the same digital books available on their site are available via NetGalley.  Join here.

5.
Tyndale Blog Network
I Review For The Tyndale Blog Network

You can join the Tyndale Blog Network here.  It is run by Tyndale, a Christian publisher.  As with other programs, available books are posted on their website and you are obligated to review those you receive.

6.
Blogging for Books

Waterbrook Multnomah's program is called Blogging for Books and you can join here.  Like the others, you  review a list of offered books, request what you want, and then post a review.  They offer both print and digital books.

7.
First Wildcard

First Wilcard is a blog tour group that tours Christian fiction.  To join, you have to have been blogging for at least six months, post at least once a week and have an established readership.  It operates via a yahoogroup.  Members are sent emails offering books and reply to request those desired.  Requesting a book does not obligate you to post a review, only the tour material, which is posted on the group blog a couple of days before the tour day.  Reviews are encouraged however.  

8.
Book Blogs Ning

Book Blogs Ning is a group of message boards on which review copies are often offered.   Surf around, join  groups that interest you and see what happens.  

9.  
NetGalley
Net Galley provides digital galleys to "professional readers", including bloggers.  Galleys for Kindles are permanently yours after download; those for readers using Adobe Digital Editions (such as the Nook) expire 90 days after download.  Right now NetGalley has over 2200 books available from cookbooks to children's books, from devotionals to erotica.  When you register you are asked to submit information about your blog and reading preferences.  When you request a title, the publisher uses that information to decide whether or not to grant you access.  Some publishers automatically approve everyone; others put some bloggers on auto-approve and personally approve or disapprove others.  While I am no heavy hitter in the book blogging world, I find far more books  on  NetGalley than I could ever read.  While you are not obligated to review books you download, publishers are able to determine how many books you download and how many you review, so my guess is that if you always download and never review, you'll find your access diminished.  

10. 
edelweiss


Like NetGalley, edelweiss is a source of digital galleys.  It is also a source for publisher's catalogs so you see  a full list of all upcoming books from that publisher, which may allow you to send a request for a review copy directly to the publisher.  Again, that works better if you have a substantial readership.  

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Monday Memes







This month, Mailbox Monday is hosted by Martha's Bookshelf.  Bloggers list books that arrived in either snail mail or email.





 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.


Reviewed this week:


My Review--Great book, highly recommended 



What I'm reading:



Read--To be reviewed later:



Take a look too at my Top Ten Tuesday post on which I listed the The Ten Best Books I've Reviewed This Year

Saturday, May 19, 2012

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'm glad to have everyone here, and just want to remind you that posts linked below should contain a link back here.


This week I reviewed a book of reflections to use during Eucharistic Adoration.  I also reviewed a novel about a woman who was given custody of her recently deceased friend's journals.  I highly recommend it.  I posted a list of the top ten books I've reviewed this year, and Ellen Gable's book Come My Beloved was one of them.  


Let us know about your posts!


Catholic Company Book Review: Eucharist Adoration Reflections in the Franciscan Tradition



About the Book:
Each of the fifty-two reflections in this book follows the advice of St. Clare to:
  • Gaze upon Christ, with a quote from Francis or Clare
  • Consider Christ, with a meditation from the Franciscan tradition
  • Contemplate Christ, with new prayers
  • Imitate Christ, by responding to a personal challenge
My Comments:
I've taken this book with me to adoration the last couple of weeks and I guess I'd classify it as about average.  For those with a special devotion to St. Francis or St. Clare, perhaps it would be better than average, but in any case, I don't mean average in a bad way; rather I mean it does what the title implies-it gives you reflection with which to start (or continue a period of Eucharistic Adoration.  It is just that none of the reflections have seemed extraordinary to me.  

It is written by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, a community based in Lacrosse Wisconsin.  It is the community that used to staff the parish in my mother's hometown.  Each reflection is labeled with the name of the author, either a FSPA sister, or associate or prayer partner.  To assure full disclosure, two of the sisters are relatives of mine (nope, never met either one and without pulling out my father's genealogy charts, I couldn't tell you how exactly they are related though I'd guess they are first or second cousins of my mother.  The community has had  perpetual adoration since 1878.   

Each reflection is divided into four parts, to follow St.Clare's instructions to gaze, consider, contemplate and imitate Christ.  The "Gaze" section of each reflection generally quotes something by St. Francis or St. Clare. For example, one of giving thanks for God's Goodness says "You may totally love Him [Christ] Who gave Himself totally for your love".  The "Consider" section talks about things for which we can be thankful.  The "Contemplate" section is a prayer of thanks and the "Imitate" section says to give thanks for God's great love and care, for the beauty of the world and for God's goodness.  

Grade: B.
This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Eucharistic Adoration Reflections in the Franciscan Tradition. This is also a great online Catholic store for all your religious shopping needs, such as gifts for Confirmation and gifts for a baby baptism.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Review: The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D.



About the Book:
Before there were blogs, there were journals. And in them we’d write as we really were, not as we wanted to appear. But there comes a day when journals outlive us. And with them, our secrets.

Summer vacation on Great Rock Island was supposed to be a restorative time for Kate, who’d lost her close friend Elizabeth in a sudden accident. But when she inherits a trunk of Elizabeth's journals, they reveal a woman far different than the cheerful wife and mother Kate thought she knew. 

 The complicated portrait of Elizabeth—her troubled upbringing, and her route to marriage and motherhood—makes Kate question not just their friendship, but her own deepest beliefs about loyalty and honesty at a period of uncertainty in her own marriage. 

The more Kate reads, the more she learns the complicated truth of who Elizabeth really was, and rethinks her own choices as a wife, mother, and professional, and the legacy she herself would want to leave behind. When an unfamiliar man’s name appears in the pages, Kate realizes the extent of what she didn’t know about her friend, including where she was really going on the day she died. 

Set in the anxious summer after the September 11th attacks, this story of two women—their friendship, their marriages, private ambitions and fears—considers the aspects of ourselves we show and those we conceal, and the repercussions of our choices.

My Comments:
Once  upon a time, many years ago, during the years starting in college and pretty much ending when I got married, I kept a journal.  One day when they clean out my house, my kids will be able to read all about my post-adolescent angst.  They'll be able to read my prayers, my thoughts, about my dates, and about how I felt about their dad at that time in my life.  The journals are in a box in the garage along with other memorabilia from  high school, college and beyond.  I wrote them for eyes and for God's and there is a certain honesty there that I sometimes miss, but though I've tried to get back in the habit several times since I married, I finally decided that for whatever reason, that's not what God is calling me to at this time in my life. Perhaps He knows the stakes could be too high if someone read it. Perhaps He knows I need to be talking to my husband rather than to a book. 

Every once in a while when I'm in the garage I'll get the urge to pull those books down and read them.  It's funny sometimes how things that seemed so important at the time, calling for pages of writing, are completely gone from my memory,so that even reading about them doesn't bring them back.  It is also funny how different my memory can be from reality.  I was an elementary education major and spent the last semester of college as a student teacher. In general my memories of that time are good.  In general my memories of the two years I spent as a teacher are not. It was interesting to read a journal entry from my student teaching days "The kids were loud, I was a bitch, what else is new?"  Evidently things weren't so wonderful even then.  

As noted above, The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D. is the story of Kate and Elizabeth and Elizabeth's journals.  In her will, Elizabeth asked Kate to decide what to do with the journals, and Kate decides that means she has to read them, and spends the whole summer reading years worth of journals,  the whole summer learning that her friend was not who she appeared to be. In the process Kate has to take a look at who she is and what she wants from life.  

Kate and Elizabeth both spent early adulthood in New York City.  Elizabeth was a graphic artist; Kate was a chef.  Once they became mothers they moved to the suburbs and ended up in the same neighborhood playgroup.  Kate longed for her life as a chef but always managed to dabble in paid employment.  Elizabeth appeared to be super happy super mom, but unknown to most, she missed her career and tried hard to keep a finger in the door.  As Kate reads about how Elizabeth's life evolved, more by chance than by choice it seemed, she questions her own choices and reflects on her own life.

Besides being a good story, this book is also a showcase for good writing--writing that evokes feelings without being maudlin, prose that almost sounds poetic.  Yes, I liked this one and I'm giving it an A--and in case you are wondering, it is a clean read.  

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via Edelweiss.  I was not obligated to write a positive review,though in this case I was glad to do so.  

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Best Books So Far This Year

Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings


These aren't in any particular order but they are the ten best books I've reviewed this year, with links to my reviews.  

                                                                          My Review

   My Review


                                                                        My Review
















See other folks' listings at Many Little Blessings




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