Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My Review: Bride for a Night

Bride for a Night (Hqn)

About the Book:
 After Talia Dobson is jilted at the altar, she endures another humiliation: a substitute groom! The elder brother of her runaway betrothed has taken matters into his own hands. Shy Talia has long held a secret attraction for Andrew Richardson, the handsome Earl of Ashcombe. But when she’s wedded, bedded and dispatched alone to his country estate, the timid beauty discovers one night of passion has ignited a bold inner fire.
While his lovely green-eyed bride is out of sight, she is not far from Andrew’s mind—and when Talia is abducted by French spies, the earl fears he may lose what he’s only just found. Yet the wife he races to rescue is a far cry from the gentle bride he abandoned. She’s a woman who dares to demand forever after from her husband…

My Comments:
I'm not a comedy fan, so I don't generally laugh when reading.  I laughed most of the way through this book, but I don't think that's what the author had in mind.  It was over-the-top, almost melodramatic and I say that as some who regularly reads romance and doesn't expect excessive realism.  From Talia rescuing Andrew from the dungeon to her mother-in-law rescuing her from social obscurity (or worse, being a laughingstock) everything works out for the best, everyone is brave and beautiful and of course, they all live happily ever after.  What more could you want in a romance novel?  

If what you want in a romance novel is physical romantic activity left to the imagination, this isn't the book for you--but that activity happens after marriage.  

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  I was not obligated to provide a positive review (or any review for that matter).  Grade:  C+

Monday, August 29, 2011

Pregnant Pause: My Review

Pregnant Pause

About the Book:
Nobody gets away with telling Eleanor Crowe what to do. But as a pregnant sixteenyear-old, her options are limited: move to Kenya with her missionary parents or marry the baby’s father and work at his family’s summer camp for overweight kids. Despite her initial reluctance to help out, Elly is surprised that she actually enjoys working with the campers. But a tragedy on the very day her baby is born starts a series of events that overwhelms Elly with unexpected emotions and difficult choices. Somehow, she must turn her usual obstinance in a direction that can ensure a future for herself—and for the new life she has created.

My Comments:
One of the great social problems of our time is children having children.  Of course part of the problem is that we have a larger than ever class of people who are physically mature enough to impregnate/bear children but not mature enough in other ways to be economically independent, but that's a thought for another day.

Elly got pregnant the first time she ever had sex, even though they were using a condom.  Her boyfriend is a guy who is a lot of fun, but who got her in trouble in more ways than the pregnancy.  They had such a good time getting drunk or stoned together.  She is in denial about the pregnancy until it is too late for an abortion (and she didn't want one anyway).  When she insists that the boyfriend was about to marry her, both sets of parents facilitate that so these two kids are married and living together at his parents' summer camp, where she is told to lie about her age to the kids.  We follow her through the summer as she realizes that her husband is not ready to be married or a dad.  She learns that she has a knack for working with kids.  Tragedy strikes, and then she has the baby--a baby both her sister and her in-laws want to adopt.

The baby was born with Downs Syndrome, and all of the sudden, no one wanted her, except Elly.  

I liked this book.  It was told in the first person and really sounded  like listening to a sixteen year old who had crises after crises in her life and couldn't decide what to do--but that was Elly, she was sixteen, not my age, and when I felt like telling her to grow up--well, like most sixteen year olds, she needed time to do that.  She wanted to build a life with the father of the baby, but he had lost interest in her, and there was another guy who really seemed to like her, which one should she pick?  She was alone when she should have been loved and supported.   

The camp at which the book is set is for overweight children. It is mentioned that many of them are suffering from emotional problems as much as from poor diet and lack of exercise.  It is obvious that Elly and her husband have emotional issues--issues about which those who are supposed to be caring for them are oblivious.  In some ways the pregnancy rescues Elly.  Being at the camp puts her in a position of helping others deal with their pain and turns her into a fighter for the underdog.  

One thing I didn't like about the book was the way Elly referred to sex as "the big nasty", but I guess if I had an unwanted pregnancy with a jerk  the first time I ever did it...  

I thought the book was pretty realistic in its portrayal of teen pregnancy and child bearing.  It doesn't push "safe" sex, as Elly got pregnant despite the condom.  The pregnancy wasn't fun, and the adults point out all the problems associated with keeping the baby.  The emotional issues involved in giving the baby up for adoption was well covered as well.  The only unrealistic thing was that the happy ending seemed a little on the forced side (and she seemed awfully active the week after a C-Section).  Grade:  B+

I'd like to thank the publisher and NetGalley for providing a review copy of this book.

Cookbook Review: Cutie Pies

Cutie Pies: 40 Sweet, Savory, and Adorable Recipes

About the Book:
Praised by Bon Appetit, DailyCandy, and Sunset magazine, the secrets behind Dani Cone's signature handmade, all-natural miniature pies are revealed for the first time inside Cutie Pies: 40 Sweet, Savory, and Adorable Recipes. Whether you're grabbing the perfectly portable Flipside on the way to work, enjoying a Piejar as a tasty afternoon treat, or looking for a fun and impressive dinner party dessert, Cutie Pies provides the perfect morsels to satisfy sweet and savory cravings alike.

Inside Cutie Pies, Cone presents 40 exclusive recipes inspired by the unique line of compact pastries she serves at her Seattle-based Fuel Coffee and High 5 Pie locations, which have received a Best of Seattle Weekly award. Sweet, one-of-a-kind treats like a Mango-Raspberry-Lemon Piepop mingle with savory recipes like Cone's Curry Veggie Piejar, all in a distinct and delightful design.

Cutie Pies is illustrated throughout with more than 20 mouthwatering, full-color photographs, and its contemporary fashion and straightforward recipes enable bakers everywhere to create these tiny treats with big flavor.

My Comments:
If I had a copy of this book I could take to the kitchen, I'd be tempted to try the Tomato Basil Mozzarella Petit Fives or maybe the Lemon Blueberry Pie Jars.  However, I don't have a paper copy or a Kindle copy so all I can tell you is that it is a pretty cookbook with yummy sounding recipes.

Thanks to the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Monday Memes

Mailbox Monday is hosted this month by Life in the Thumb and is where book bloggers gather to share what showed up in their mailboxes this week, whether those mailboxes received email or snail mail.
Snail Mail:
Lancaster County Christmas, AJaime and C. J. Fitzpatrick began their married life as most couples do--in love and looking forward to a bright future together. But four years later they've drifted apart and are almost ready to call it quits.

Mattie Riehl was hoping to give her husband Sol the Christmas gift they have both longed for--news that a baby was on the way. But as usual, she is disappointed. The holidays bring an acute awareness to Mattie that her dream of a big family isn't likely to become a reality.

Then a winter storm raging outside blows the Fitzpatricks into the Riehl home--and into a much slower pace of life. Can these two couples from different worlds help each other understand the true meaning of love this Christmas?

The Santa Club
A delightful book with captivating illustrations, The Santa Club transitions your child from receiving gifts to experiencing the joy of giving. With sensitivity, faith, and love, The Santa Club tackles the serious question, Is Santa Claus Real? To be read with your child, this wonderful book not only answers that sometimes dreaded question but it also addresses the questions of why Santa comes at Christmas and who was the first Santa. The Santa Club is a wonderful parenting resource and a stunning childrens book, and is sure to become an annual family favorite.

Via NetGalley
The Baker's WifeWhat doesn't kill you only makes you stronger, so why is Audrey weakening day by day?

It's been a tough year for Audrey's family. Her husband Geoff, a pastor, lost his job after a scandal rocked their congregation.

Audrey hasn't lost faith. She's held her family together. Their attempt to resurrect a failing bakery is an effort to heal the family wounds and restore their place in the community.

Late to the bakery one dim, foggy morning, Audrey turns into the intersection in front of the shop and strikes a vehicle that she can't see even after the collision settles. Emerging from her car into the fog, she discovers she's hit a motor scooter. There's no rider in sight. There's blood, though, so much that she slips in it, injuring her wrists.

The absence of the scooter driver is a mystery, especially to Sergeant Jack Mansfield, the detective and church member who drove Geoff from his pulpit. The scooter belongs to Jack's wife, Julie, a teacher at the local high school. She has vanished like morning fog.

Though there is no evidence to support Jack's growing suspicion that Audrey and Geoff were involved in Julie's disappearance, the detective is convinced of their guilt. Jack's ability to reason slips as the leads on his wife dry up.

When Jack takes the tiny bakery and its patrons hostage, Audrey must find Julie and unravel the secret of her own mysterious suffering before Jack comes undone.

Against the Storm (The Raines of Wind Canyon)
Redheads like Maggie O’Connell are nothing but trouble.But Trace Rawlins, a former army ranger turned private investigator, takes the case anyway. After all, he knows a thing or two about women.

Trace can sense that something is wrong—Maggie isn’t telling him everything. If these menacing calls and messages are real, why won’t the police help her? And if they aren’t real, what is she hiding?

As Trace digs deeper to find the source of Maggie’s threats, he discovers a secret that no one was meant to uncover. And the only puzzle left to be solved is whether the danger comes from an unknown stalker…or from the woman he’s trying his hardest not to fall for.

A Home by the Sea (Hqn)
Grace Lindstrom has followed her fiancé across three continents, starry-eyed and full of dreams. But when he dies in a plane crash, Grace discovers that their life together was the cruelest kind of lie—and swears to never lose herself to that kind of love again. Until one night, when a chance encounter leads her to the kind of man she’s always dreamed of—and the deep family ties she’s never known.

Noah McKay knows he can’t offer Grace any kind of future—not when he spends every day putting his life on the line. But when Grace’s grandfather suddenly falls ill and she’s called home to the small island town where she grew up, he realizes he can’t live without her. Aided by good knitting, good chocolate and deep friendship, Grace is slowly learning to trust again—but can she learn to love a man whose secrets run so deep?

Sweet Sanctuary (Women of Faith (Thomas Nelson))

Wren has tried to shelter her only son from the tumult of the world. Now she's about to find sanctuary . . . in the last place she ever expected.

In tiny Cottage Cover, on the coast of Maine, Wren Evans is raising her gifted son, Charlie. A single mom, she's fought hard to give Charlie a stable, secure home life. When a prestigious music academy in Boston expresses interest in Charlie's talent, Wren is willing to move them again to make his dreams come true.

But Wren doesn't know that Charlie has been praying for her. And the answer to her son's prayers will change both of their lives. As Wren plans their move to Boston, life in Maine begins to fall apart. Her job is threatened with budget cuts, and Wren's grandmother, Ruth, arrives unannounced, with an outlandish request.

Ruth wants the family gathered together one last time, at the summer home where, years before, an accident shattered Wren's peaceful childhood. In the tumult, Wren finds a friend in a handsome, kind-hearted local, Paul Callahan.When the family gathers in Cottage Cover, old wounds will be healed, new love will blossom, and the innocent prayers of a child will be answered in a most unexpected way.

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.  She asks what we read or reviewed this week and what we plan to read next week.
Read this Week:
 Lancaster County Christmas, A  Sweet Christmas read.  Will be a prize in Christmas in September.
The Santa ClubGood story for kids old enough to not believe in Santa.  Will be a prize in Christmas in September.
Heiress (Daughters of Fortune) Really good read about The Guilded Age.  Did anyone else get it?  It is a review book but I can't tell where I got it or when I'm supposed to post a review.
Lily Renee, Escape Artist: From Holocaust Survivor to Comic Book Pioneer (Single Titles) Interesting graphic novel; review to be posted in October.

 Books Read Earlier; Reviewed last week:
Sneaky Snake Cute kids book.  My Review
Also read about Christmas in September, a link-up that starts this week.

So What Is Christmas in September?

Photobucket If you've been reading my Monday Meme posts lately, you've noticed that I've mentioned various Christmas books that I've said will be reviewed as part of Christmas in September.  So what is Christmas in September?  It is a link-up that I'm hosting that will give us the opportunity to share or read reviews of Christmas books.  I'll put up the host post, along with and In-linkz gadget on September 1.  I ask that bloggers link up their reviews of Christmas-themed books, whether you reviewed them this year or in previous years.

There will be prizes.  Bloggers earn chances to win prizes by linking review posts.  Readers earn chances by leaving comments.  Hope everyone wants to participate!  Let's get a huge list of Christmas books so we can all take our picks.  To any publicists reading this, I'd love to offer your Christmas-themed books as prizes.  They can be either religious or secular, and Advent books count.  Of course, I'll plug your book in return for the prize.

Saturday, August 27, 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 don't have any particularly Catholic posts this week, but I did read one book I'd really recommend if you like romance novels:  Blue Skies Tomorrow is set during WWII and I found it to be very well done.  What about you?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Children's Book: Sneaky Snake

Sneaky Snake

About the Book:
The goal when trying to teach children is to make it interesting and above all, lots of fun. From children to adults, having good friends is an important part of who we are. In the story of Sneaky Snake I used basic animals to teach children about the importance of friendship. My point is as simple as just being nice to others, is being a good friend.

My Comments:
My seven year old doesn't think it is fair that Mom gets all these books in the mail, and she doesn't, so when I'm offered a children's book that looks interesting, I usually grab it.  Sneaky Snake is the story of a snake who didn't like anyone and who would hiss whenever someone came close to his home in the rock.  We watch as Betsy Cow and Beagle Dog attempt to befriend Sneaky and are hissed away while Wise Owl observes from above.  Then Sneaky gets caught in a rock and calls for help, but no one is there to help him but Owl.  After Owl tells Sneaky that if he hadn't scared everyone away, someone could help him, Sneaky repents and then Owl saves him and Sneaky apologizes to all the animals and admits he needs friends too.

The pictures are pretty and the story has an important message of friendship.

Thanks to the author for providing a complimentary review copy.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Review: Cucina Provera

Cucina Povera: Tuscan Peasant Cooking

About the Book:
Italian cookbook authority Pamela Sheldon Johns presents more than 60 peasant-inspired dishes from the heart of Tuscany inside Cucina Povera. This book is more than a collection of recipes of "good food for hard times." La cucina povera is a philosophy of not wasting anything edible and of using technique to make every bite as tasty as possible. Budget-conscious dishes utilizing local and seasonal fruits and vegetables create everything from savory pasta sauces, crusty breads and slow-roasted meats to flavorful vegetable accompaniments and end-of-meal sweets.

The recipes inside Cucina Povera have been collected during the more than 20 years Johns has spent in Tuscany. Dishes such as Ribollita (Bread Soup), Pollo Arrosto al Vin Santo (Chicken with Vin Santo Sauce), and Ciambellone (Tuscan Ring Cake) are adapted from the recipes of Johns' neighbors, friends, and local Italian food producers. Lavish color and black-and-white photographs mingle with Johns' recipes and personal reflections to share an authentic interpretation of rustic Italian cooking inside Cucina Povera.
My Comments:
No Kindle version of this NetGalley was available so I have only been able to view this on my computer.  It is a beautiful hard-covered book that would be as at home on a coffee table as in the kitchen.  There are photos of the food, but also photos of the Tuscan countryside.  There are over forty pages of information about Tuscany and its food before the recipes start.  The recipes appear very do-able, with a minimum of unusual ingredients not found in the average kitchen.  I have not made any of the recipes--I'm not able to print them from the NetGalley and computers and kitchens don't go together in my opinion. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Monday Memes

Mailbox Monday is hosted this month by Life in the Thumb and is where book bloggers gather to share what showed up in their mailboxes this week, whether those mailboxes received email or snail mail.
Snail Mail:
Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the FaithWhat is the Catholicism? A 2,000 living tradition? A worldview? A way of life? A relationship? A mystery? In Catholicism Father Robert Barron examines all these questions and more, seeking to capture the body, heart and mind of the Catholic faith.
Starting from the essential foundation of Jesus Christ’s incarnation, life, and teaching, Father Barron moves through the defining elements of Catholicism – from sacraments, worship, and prayer, to Mary, the Apostles, and Saints, to grace, salvation, heaven, and hell – using his distinct and dynamic grasp of art, literature, architecture, personal stories, Scripture, theology, philosophy, and history to present the Church to the world. 
Paired with his documentary film series of the same title, Catholicism is an intimate journey, capturing “The Catholic Thing” in all its depth and beauty. Eclectic, unique, and inspiring, Father Barron brings the faith to life for a new generation, in a style that is both faithful to timeless truths, while simultaneously speaking in the language of contemporary life.
Via NetGalley:
An O'Brien Family Christmas (Chesapeake Shores)New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author SHERRYL WOODS takes the O’Briens to Ireland for a family Christmas they’ll never forget!
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 fl ing, 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

Lily Renee, Escape Artist: From Holocaust Survivor to Comic Book Pioneer (Single Titles)In 1938, Lily Renée Wilheim is a 14-year-old Jewish girl living in Vienna. Her days are filled with art and ballet. Then the Nazis march into Austria, and Lily's life is shattered overnight. Suddenly, her own country is no longer safe for her or her family. To survive, Lily leaves her parents behind and travels alone to England.

Escaping the Nazis is only the start of Lily's journey. She must escape many more times--from servitude, hardship, and danger. Will she find a way to have her own sort of revenge on the Nazis? Follow the story of a brave girl who becomes an artist of heroes and a true pioneer in comic books.

Robin Takes 5: 500 Recipes, 5 Ingredients or Less, 500 Calories or Less, for 5 Nights/Week at 5:00 PM 
It's 5:00 PM. Everyone's hungry. It's takeout or fakeout, meaning nuking a processed meal from the freezer. But there's a third option that doesn't include processed food or an unhealthy heap of calories and fat--Robin Takes 5.

Imagine quickly preparing delicious meals for yourself, your friends, and your family with just 5 fabulous ingredients. Does it get any better? Absolutely, with Robin Takes 5. The book features 500 recipes and each dish is a mouthwatering 500 calories or less. Two-color recipe text complements full-color photography inserts. In addition, helpful icons note ideal recipes for holidays and entertaining as well as recipes with less than 500 mg of sodium. That's not all--nutritional information is given for each recipe.

In Robin Takes 5 500 recipes highlight at least 10 different ethnic cuisines, and dishes range from soups, pizzas, and pastas, to chicken, beef, pork, seafood, side dishes, and desserts. Consider 70 recipes just for chicken, such as Cashew Crusted Chicken with Roasted Jalapeno-Mango Chutney, and 50 dessert recipes, such as Orange Marmalade Tart with Chocolate Covered Almonds. Consider yourself armed for mealtime. The next time the clock strikes 5:00 PM and you want both noshing and nourishment, check out Robin Takes 5.

Remember the Time: A Loveswept Contemporary Romance
Since the tragic death of her famous baseball player husband, Paul Armstrong,Kate has lived a life of seclusion. Riddled with guilt, unhappiness, and secrets about her not-so-perfect marriage, Kate has turned away fromeveryone who cares-except Mike Fitzgerald, her neighbor and childhood best friend, a man determined to bring Kate back to the living.
Mike was Paul's best friend, too, so he kept his love for Kate a secret. He never stopped wanting her, never stopped yearning to kiss away the sadness from an unfaithful husband and too many shattered illusions. Now Mike, a successful architect, is determined to tear down Kate's walls. He persuades her to renovate her home, providing a foothold for his deepest desire-giving her the life she deserves. Kate married the wrong man, but now the right one is going to show her what's always been in his heart-a love that belongs to her forever.

Bring Me Home for Christmas (A Virgin River Novel)
This year, Becca Timm knows the number one item on her Christmas wish list: getting over Denny Cutler. Three years ago Denny broke her heart before heading off to war. It’s time she got over her silly college relationship and moved on.
So she takes matters into her own hands and heads up to Virgin River, the rugged little mountain town that Denny calls home, as an uninvited guest on her brother’s men-only hunting weekend. But when an accident turns her impromptu visit into an extended stay, Becca finds herself stranded in Virgin River. With Denny. In very close quarters.
As the power of Christmas envelops the little town, Becca discovers that the boy she once loved has become a strong and confident man. And the most delicious Christmas present she can imagine.

The Wounded Heart: An Amish Quilt Novel
When a business offer turns into something more personal, Amelia is torn between what logic tells her is right, and the desire of her heart.
A widow with two small children, Amelia Beiler is struggling to make ends meet. She is running her late husband's business, but it's not what she was raised to do, which is run a home. When she gets an offer for the business from Eli Fischer, she's only too relieved to consider it-especially when it looks like Eli's interest might include more than just the shop. But when she begins to experience strange physical symptoms and is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, it's difficult not to question God's will. If she pursues the treatment she believes in, she risks going under the bann. But how can she allow Eli to court her when she can't promise him a future?


It's Monday, What Are You Reading is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.  She asks what we read or reviewed this week and what we plan to read next week.
Read this Week:
An O'Brien Family Christmas (Chesapeake Shores) To be reviewed as part of Christmas in Septemeber
Bring Me Home for Christmas (A Virgin River Novel) To be reviewed as part of Christmas in September
Megan's Secrets: What My Mentally Disabled Daughter Taught Me about LifeFirst Wildcard tour in September
The Wounded Heart: An Amish Quilt Novel For a tour in September

The Promise of an Angel (A Heaven On Earth Novel) My review.
Books Read Earlier; Reviewed last week:
Up Next:
The Traitor's Wife. Kathleen Kent Still working on this one
Heiress (Daughters of Fortune)
Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith

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