Sunday, July 31, 2011

Monday Memes

I missed last week because I was in New York City with my daughter's Girl Scout troop.  While there, I took a few literary photos I'd like to share.

So, what did the postman bring me while I was gone?

Blue Skies Tomorrow: A Novel (Wings of Glory)
Lt. Raymond Novak prefers the pulpit to the cockpit, but at least his stateside job training B-17 pilots allows him the luxury of a personal life. As he courts Helen Carlisle, a young war widow and mother who conceals her pain under a frenzy of volunteer work, the sparks of their romance set a fire that flings them both into peril. After Ray leaves to fly a combat mission at the peak of the air war over Europe, Helen takes a job in a dangerous munitions yard and confronts an even graver menace in her own home. Will they find the courage to face their challenges? And can their young love survive until blue skies return?
For a blog tour.

The Harvest of Grace: Book 3 in the Ada's House Amish Romance Series (An Ada's House Novel)
My review.  The conclusion of the Ada's House series of books, this features a woman who needs to forgive herself, along with one who has to forgive someone else.

Maggie Come Lately (The Pathway Collection #1)
While most girls are going to parties, Maggie is busy acting as mother and housewife to her two brothers and father. When she turns 16, Maggie hopes it will be a great year. But then she hears a noise in the woods that takes her on a path that changes her life forever.  

Ordered from Amazon.

Heiress (Daughters of Fortune)They can buy anything they want—fame, power, beauty, even loyalty.But they can’t buy love.The beautiful and wealthy heiress daughters of August Price can buy everything their hearts desire.But what if their desire is to be loved, without an enormous price tag attached? When one sister betrays another for the sake of love, will she find happiness? And what happens when the other setsout across the still untamed frontier to find it—will she discover she’s left it behind in the glamorous world of the New York gilded society? What pricewill each woman pay for being an heiress? Set in the opulent world of the Gilded Age, two women discover that being an heiress just might cost them everything they love.

For review

When a vine of vessels in Kevin Wells's brain burst one ordinary evening, his life took an unanticipated turn. The former sports journalist had dealt with infertility, adoption fraud, and the murder of his beloved uncle, Msgr. Tom Wells, but this was a new low. Wells fought back with good humor and persistent faith and offers hard-earned encouragement for those struggling through hard times and looking for a reason to hang on.

KEVIN WELLS is a former sports reporter who last wrote for the Tampa Tribune, where he covered the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team and other sports. Today he is vice president for a three-generation family masonry contracting company. He lives in Crofton, Maryland, with his wife and three children, where he is a freelance writer and active in prison ministry.

For review from The Catholic Company

New from NetGalley:

1225 Christmas Tree Lane (Cedar Cove)
The people of Cedar Cove know how to celebrate Christmas. Like Grace and Olivia and everyone else, Beth Morehouse expects this Christmas to be one of her best. Her small Christmas-tree farm is prospering, her daughters and her dogs are happy and well, and her new relationship with local vet Ted Reynolds is showing plenty of romantic promise. But...someone recently left a basket filled with puppies on her doorstep, puppies she’s determined to place in good homes. That’s complication number one. And number two is that her daughters Bailey and Sophie have invited their dad, Beth’s ex-husband, Kent, to  Cedar  Cove for  Christmas. The girls  have  visions  of  a  mom-and-dad reunion dancing in their heads. As always in life — and in Cedar Cove — there are surprises, too. More than one family’s going to have a puppy under the tree. More than one scheme will go awry. And more than one romance will have a happy ending!

An O'Brien Family Christmas (Chesapeake Shores)
Dating Matthew O’Brien—a playboy and a younger man—cost Laila Riley her career and her parents’ respect. A high price, even for love—and when Laila decides it was just a fling, she breaks it off , despite Matthew’s objections.

But the O’Brien family has other ideas, and they conspire to get Laila to join them on a Dublin holiday. It’s a great time to get away from it all, but Laila has reservations about the trip. Matthew’s bound to be there, and she’s far from immune. What if she can’t resist temptation?

Meanwhile, the O’Briens are in an uproar over matriarch Nell’s unexpected romance with an old flame. Will she follow her heart despite the risks? And will Laila discover that some risks are actually once-in-a-lifetime

An Angel for Christmas
Christmas has never brought out the best in the MacDougal family. Still, year after year, they gather together in the Blue Ridge Mountains to try to make the season merry and bright. But this year is an especially strained one, with Shayne’s impending divorce, Morwenna’s slavish devotion to work and Bobby’s reluctance to face what life has to offer. They’ve never felt less like a family. Then, in the midst of a snowy sibling shouting match, a mysterious stranger appears. He could be a criminal, a madman — or something far more unexpected. Despite their fears and the growing danger in the dark woods around them, the MacDougals take a leap of faith. But when another stranger arrives on the mountainside, they don’t know which of them to believe. One of these men can’t be trusted. And one is about to bring Christmas into their hearts.

What have I read lately?
The Harvest of Grace: Book 3 in the Ada's House Amish Romance Series (An Ada's House Novel)Blue Skies Tomorrow: A Novel (Wings of Glory)HomewardOne Good Reason (Harlequin Superromance) 

What reviews have I published since my last Monday Post?

Other posts:

Join other book bloggers for Mailbox Monday and It's Monday What Are You Reading.

From Jazz Babies to Generation Next

From Jazz Babies to Generation Next: The History of the American Teenager (People's History)

About the Book:
Can you imagine a world without teenagers? Before the early 1900s, the word teenager was not even part of the American vocabulary. The concept of adolescence--those transitional years between childhood and adulthood--simply did not exist. Instead, families needed young people to contribute to the family's earnings as soon as possible. "Everybody worked; it was a part of life, for there was no life without it," wrote Edna Matthews Clifton of her teen years in Texas in the late 1800s. Many young people worked longs days and full weeks on farms or in factories. Such a schedule left little time for school or for fun. Throughout the 1900s, the idea of the teenager gradually began to take shape. A series of reforms put restrictions on child labor. Young people spent less time working and more time in school. They also began spending money on entertainment. Movie theaters and dance halls provided places for them to gather. Thirteen- to nineteen-year-olds established a unique culture that would continue to develop in the coming decades. In the twenty-first century, teens represent vital threads in the American fabric. Their spending choices affect both the economy and the way advertisers market products. Their taste in music, movies, and TV drives pop culture. And teens--for whom technology is a way of life--are the ones who will continue to push the boundaries of our technological future. From the flappers and jazz babies of the 1920s to the digital-savvy teens of the twenty-first century, you're about to follow the fascinating evolution of the American teenager.

My Comments:
I started reading this some time ago, put it aside to do something else, and when I went back to it, found that the NetGalley had expired.  Most NetGalley books are available on the Kindle, this one was not, and I'm not fond of reading on my computer.

However, back to the book, I enjoyed what I read and found it a fascinating look at popular culture, which in our times, is often shaped by our teens.  The book was filled with photos and laid out in a magazine-type style, which probably is more attractive to teens than to this old lady.

Review: The Harvest of Grace

The Harvest of Grace: Book 3 in the Ada's House Amish Romance Series (An Ada's House Novel)

About the Book:
Reeling from an unexpected betrayal, can Sylvia find relief from the echoes of her past…or will they shape her future forever? 

Although Sylvia Fisher recognizes that most Old Order Amish women her age spend their hours managing a household and raising babies, she has just one focus—tending and nurturing the herd on her family’s dairy farm. But when a dangerous connection with an old beau forces her to move far from home, she decides to concentrate on a new start and pour her energy into reviving another family’s debt-ridden farm.

After months in rehab, Aaron Blank returns home to sell his Daed’s failing farm and move his parents into an easier lifestyle. Two things stand in his way: the father who stubbornly refuses to recognize that Aaron has changed and the determined new farmhand his parents love like a daughter. Her influence on Aaron’s parents could ruin his plans to escape the burdens of farming and build a new life.

Can Aaron and Sylvia find common ground? Or will their unflinching efforts toward opposite goals blur the bigger picture— a path to forgiveness, glimpses of grace, and the promise of love.

My Comments:
I think one of the strengths of Woodsmall's books is her characters--I'd say she does a better than average job of making Amish characters seem like real people rather than caricatures.  Sylvia, the oldest daughter in a family devoid of sons, has always been her father's helper on the farm, and prefers it to housework.  However, as the blurb above indicates, there was a problem with an old beau and she felt it necessary to get away.  She moves to a neighboring (but not too close in Amish terms) farm and becomes the hired hand.  When that family's son returns from rehab, set on selling the farm and buying a store, the conflict is set--and the romance.  

This is book three in the Ada's House series and our old friends from the other books are back.  We watch Lena and Gray spend a year "not courting" and Ephriam and Cara waiting for her to be able to join the church so they can marry.  In the  process Cara has to forgive one of the people who hurt her the most.  

The Harvest of Grace was a satisfying end to an enjoyable series and I recommend it.  Grade:  B+

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

Saturday, July 30, 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.

Hope you all had fun without me last week.  I was having a great time in New York City.  This week I am sharing a post with you about some of the sights we saw--namely old churches.  I Love Old Churches and Two Cathedrals in One Town.  Enjoy.  I also have a couple of book reviews, but nothing really extraordinary.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Book Review: Money Secrets of the Amish

Money Secrets of the Amish: Finding True Abundance in Simplicity, Sharing, and Saving

About the Book:
Author and journalist Lorilee Craker was just like the rest of us, feeling the pinch from the financial fallout of 2008. As a freelancer, her income was going the way of the dodo-family dollars seemed like an extinct myth, the bank account some archaeological evidence of past prosperity.

Then, inspired by a news segment covering the Amish and how they emerged from the economic crisis unscathed, she realized it was time to learn a thing or two about their time-tested approach to personal finances. While the middle-class was wringing its hands over the family budget and the wealthy were weeping over their slashed portfolios, the Amish were content as always, spared from the cares of the world and worldliness. They not only had financial health to support their lives, they exuded a wholeness that eludes so many when the financial bottom drops out.

In Money Secrets of the Amish, readers go on an "Amish money makeover," learning the choices, secrets, and disciplines that safeguarded the contentment and the coffers of America's favorite plain folk by spending less, saving more, and getting happier doing it.

My Comments:
Most of us realize that money can't buy happiness, but we often do try to buy our way to contentment.  The Amish do not, according to the author,  and in this book Lorilee Craker tries to find out how they manage to live well on little.  Besides the obvious savings gained from not having electricity (and therefore all the electric toys we take for granted) or automobiles, she explains how the Amish re-use, make at home or buy used from others.  She speaks of simple game nights with friends rather than nights out at the movies eating $6.00 tubs of popcorn.  She tells of children who are happy with a new coloring book for Christmas rather than the pile of presents many of our children expect.

I had a NetGalley of this book and there were obvious formatting problems with this galley that I would not expect in the finished product; namely that sometimes paragraphs were repeated.  Still, even noticing that and trying to eliminate it from consideration for this review, the book seemed repetitive; saying pretty much the same thing in different ways.  In short, Amish thrift is a matter of living within your means, not borrowing money, and not using stuff as a symbol of love.

Grade:  B-

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