Saturday, November 29, 2014

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival

Hello, and welcome 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 participate, go to your blog and create a post titled Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival. In it, discuss and link to your posts fo I rr the week--whether they deal with theology, Catholic living or cute Catholic kids. I'm mostly a book blogger so my posts are generally book reviews, some Catholic, some not. Make sure that post links back here. Once you publish it, come back here and leave a link below.

We also have a yahoogroup; signing up for it will get you one weekly reminder to post. Click here to sign up.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop

I'm on a roll with blog postings; funny what some extra time off can do.  This week's question for the Book Blogger Hop  is 

Do you visit the same blogs each week or do you branch out and try to find new blogs?

My Answer:  Some of each.  I have some regulars on my sidebar that I visit frequently.  I subscribe to a lot that come through my bloglovin or feedly feeds; though how often I click through depends on how busy I am, what the posts are about or just my mood.  When I participate in link-ups like this I try to visit other participants and take a look at their blogs.  Those that catch my eye end up on my subscripton lists.

Shameless Plug for Kindle

Kindle Voyage

I am an Amazon Associate.  If you click the links under the book pictures on my posts, go to Amazon and buy something, or if you click the Amazon ads on my sidebar, do to Amazon and buy something, I get a commission.  Let's just say I'm not getting rich.  However, I put those links there as much for you, my readers, so you can easily grab a book that interests you, as I do to make money.  Today, I'm writing an ad for a product I'm fond of and I really hope you decide to click the links and buy.  Pictured above is Kindle's base model,Kindle, 6" Glare-Free Touchscreen Display, Wi-Fi - Includes Special Offers which is on sale right now for $49.00.  These are great no distraction digital readers.  When using mine (a similar model), I'm not tempted to play Candy Crush, check my email or play on facebook because this devise doesn't do those things.  It is for reading, period.  It is light in my purse, the battery lasts for weeks and if I should lose it, I'm not out that much.
Fire HD 7
Someone in my family is going to get Fire HD 7, 7" HD Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB - Includes Special Offers, Black this year.  I bought it last night for $79.00.  It is usually $139.00, is marked down to $109.00 and if you use an Amazon Visa (and they'll be glad to issue you one if you don't have one and have good credit) you get an extra $30.00 off if you use code KDL30ARC.  I bought a cheap tablet on Black Friday last year and let me tell you that there is a world of difference between a cheap Black Friday Android tablet and this baby.  This one works, works when you push the button and does what it says it will do.  I bought cheap tablet to give as a giving tree gift at church but decided to research it before I gave it (but after I bought it).  Based on the reviews, I decided not to give it; that there was too much chance it wouldn't work.  I kept it and used it for a couple of months.  It took a long time to warm up and would lock up periodically.  Basically it didn't do anything fast and I can't imaging trying to watch a movie on it.  It does work well for reading books I get from Barnes & Noble or other non-Amazon book sellers.  Having that tablet convinced me I wanted a Kindle Fire and when they went on sale last year, I bought one and it is my favorite toy.  In the interests of full disclosure, I'll admit that I don't have a smart phone so I have to use my Fire if I want to do constructive things like playing Candy Crush.

All the Kindle Fires are on sale right now, including this one, which, if she didn't already have one, would be my daughter's Christmas present:
Fire HD Kids Edition

Fire HD 6 Kids Edition, 6" HD Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB, Blue Kid-Proof Case is $149.00 and comes with a two year guarantee--if the kid breaks it, they replace it.  It also comes with a year of Free Time Unlimited, which gives a child unlimited access to a large library of books and movies.  I'd say the collection is aimed at the eight years and under set.  It also comes with Amazon's parental control program so you can limit the number of hours they get to use the device or the number of hours they can do things other than read.

Just in case you missed the first time around, here are the links again.  Buy your family or friends a great give and give me a couple of dollars in the bargain:
Fire HD 6 Kids Edition, 6" HD Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB, Blue Kid-Proof Case
 Fire HD 7, 7" HD Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB - Includes Special Offers, Black
l,Kindle, 6" Glare-Free Touchscreen Display, Wi-Fi - Includes Special Offers

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Review: The Essential Guide for the New Age of Retirement

About the Book:
Roughly 10,000 Americans will turn age 65 every day for the next fifteen years. This massive demographic shift is not only reshaping the economy but the way these same Americans will enjoy retirement. Because of this shift, many standard financial theories and practices that have worked in the past will not work as well, if at all, in the future. Every retiree and future retiree will be affected by this change. If they prepare adequately, they can adapt. Otherwise, they will become unwitting victims of forces beyond their control.

This book identifies the main cause of this shift and presents groundbreaking strategies to help individuals navigate the maze of investment, tax, and income planning options for a more predictable and comfortable life in the "new age of retirement".

My Comments:
This is a short and easy to read book that is part primer on retirement planning and part advertisment for hiring a professional financial planner.  The author's main thesis is that the retirement of the baby boomers and their resultant loss of income and slowed spending is going to cause ripple effects throughout the economy and will cause problems with traditional retirment planning strategies.  He discusses asset allocation and how human nature makes people sell stocks at the wrong time, locking in losses for life, whereas those who held on eventually would be made whole and then some.  Over and over Overson recommends putting your assets in the care of a professional financial planner who has both objectivity and expertise.  Evidently he and my financial advisor have been to the same classes because pretty much everything he discussed are things we have discussed with our planner.  The only "groundbreaking strategy" that stuck in my mind after reading this book was to hire an advisor--everything else sounded pretty tried and true and discussed in most financial planning books.

I'd like to thank the author for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  If you are looking for a reason to hire a financial planner, this book will convince you that you are doing the right thing.  If you are looking for a comprehensive book to help you do your own financial planning, there are better ones out there.  Grade:  B-

Seven Quick Takes: Thankfulness

I have so much to be thankful for in my life.  First of all I am thankful that my God loves me and sent Jesus into this world for me and others.

I am blessed with a beautiful family.  My husband and I both have jobs that we (usually) enjoy and which allow us to comfortably support our family.  My son has had his first real job for about three months now, and things seem to be going fine.  My girls are doing well in school with no major problems.  I know how fortunate we are.
I am thankful that I just won the Catholic Book Blogger's Mega Advent Giveaway.  If you like reviews of Catholic books, you'll have to subcribe to my blog; it appears I will have a lot of them next year.
I'm thankful for my family of origin.  My Dad passed away in April and at Christmas we will divy up my parents' stuff.  Since the house is staying in the family no one has been in a hurry to do anything with it and it looks just like it did right after the funeral.  I'm sure I will cry when we start taking stuff out of there but we can't leave that house as a shrine to my parents and they certainly aren't coming back to use it.  I'm thankful that my siblings have all been agreeable in the process. The lawyer told me that I didn't know how lucky I was.  I've worked on a few cases involving estates and heirs that don't get along; I do know how lucky I am.
I am thankful for my parish.  I moved to the New Orleans area after college and not too long thereafter became involved in a singles group at that parish--even though I lived nowhere near it.  It was through that group that I met my husband.  We were married in that parish church (ugly as it was) and that is where my children have all received their sacraments.  One thing I do not like about my parish is its website.  One thing I hate is people who say "You ought to..." and think up work for others to do.  I volunteered to help re-do the website.  I'm not a design expert or an expert at putting up websites but obviously I've had one for a long time and I don't think I'm bragging when I say it looks better than what my parish has now.  My pastor accepted my offer and we are hoping to get something up soon.
I am thankful for the wonderful Thanksgiving dinner we had today, and grateful that I didn't have to think about cost when buying the food.  We had turkey, Stovetop Stuffing (my son's request), Praline Sweet Potatos, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Green Beans, Salad and Blueberry Dessert.  Here is the recipe for the dessert:  Make a graham craker crust per the directions on the box, or buy a graham cracker crust.  These proportions are for an 8x8 pan or a piecrust.  Double for 13x9.  Beat together 8oz of creme cheese (you can use the low or no fat versions), 8oz of whipping cream (or use cool whip) and 1/4 cup powdered sugar until combined and fluffy.  Pour over crust.  Top with blueberry pie filling.  Freeze until firm. 

I am thankful for you, my readers.  I know I ignore all the standard advice to find a clear focus for my blog and to stick with it.  Yes, I'm a Catholic blogger, and I review Catholic books, but I review a lot of books that have nothing to do with faith.  Yes, I'm a mom, and I do post about my kids, but not a lot.  That gets harder as the kids get older.  If I try to write about the kids I find my self bragging (nothing wrong with a little of that but listening to other people brag about thier kids gets old fast), or telling cute stories (cute to me, embarrasing for the kid), or complaining about them (and what kid wants his/her friends finding that online).  So, no, I'm not a "Mommy Blogger" but I do enjoy showing off the darlings periodically.  I've been writing about finance lately, particularly about my experience with a new-to-me type of investment, peer-to-peer lending but I'm certainly not a finace blogger (though I may start such a blog--I'm drafting one).  Anyway, thanks for reading and for your comments.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Review: Christmas at Seashell Cottage

About the Book:
And local doctor Charlie Yang finds her quiet, steady life disrupted by both an abandoned baby in the nativity manger, and a real-life mystery man. Sure, she's always wanted a family of her own, but she didn't imagine it coming from a baby that wasn't hers and a man who was more interested in living day by day than making long-term plans.

Ex-SEAL Dave Ricker hadn't planned on making Jewell Cove his forever home, but the talented and tender-hearted Charlie has him reconsidering his position on settling down. Can a beautiful woman, adorable baby and a small-town full of holiday spirit change his mind for good?

My Comments:
Charlie was the child of highly successful adults; one who was pushed to be the best from infancy.  She never felt appreciated for who she was.  Because of her parents, she went to medical school.  Despite her parents, she chose to practice family medicine in a small town.  It is now the Christmas season and Charlie is trying to become part of her new hometown.  She wants nothing more than to belong and to settle down and have a family.  Dave is just back from the Middle East.  He has no plans to do anything permanent and thinks he likes being on his own by himself.  

I enjoyed this book but to say it was anything other than a typical Christmas romance would be a stretch.  

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

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Driftwood Tides: My Review

Driftwood Tides

About the Book:
When Holton lost his wife, Adele, in a freak accident, he shut himself off from the world, living a life of seclusion, making drifwood sculptures and drowning his pain in gin. Until twenty-three-year-old Libby knocks on his door, asking for a job and claiming to be a friend of his late wife. When he discovers Libby is actually his late wife’s illegitimate daughter, given up for adoption without his knowledge, his life is turned upside down as he struggles to accept that the wife he’d given saint status to was not the woman he thought he knew.

Together Holton and Libby form an unlikely bond as the two struggle to learn the identity of Libby’s father and the truth about Adele, themselves, and each other.

My Comments:
This is a book about finding yourself, finding the person God meant you to be, and giving that person to others.  However, even though the book is Christian fiction, there was no real hint of religion or faith until about halfway into the book.  Libby is a young engaged woman.  She loves her fiancee and knows he loves her, but she feels smothered by him.  She doesn't think her mother loves her and she knows her father doesn't--he left her when she was small and never came home; instead he started a new life with a new family.  When she learns she was adopted she goes in search of her birth mother, someone else who has rejected her.  Instead, she finds Holton, her birth mother's husband who has been drinking himself into a stupor since her mother was killed in an accident.  Wanting to know him better before telling him about her birth mother, Libby talks her way into an internship in Holton's art studio.  As the book progresses both Holton and Libby have to take responsibility for the choices they make and have to learn to accept the love that is in their lives rather than the love they wish was there.  Also they learned that when you value yourself and your work, others do too.

While the book has a happily ever after that includes romance, it is not a romance novel and I enjoyed reading a story that, while it had more depth than the average romance, was still an easy feel-good read.  Grade:  B+.

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

Review: The Christmas Train


About the Book:
An estranged father and daughter meet for the first time at Christmas in this touching holiday story that will tug at your heart, from USA TODAY bestselling author Rexanne Becnel.

On the train to meet her father, young Anna Spano befriends Eva Stephens, an older woman who occasionally thinks she’s traveling to her home village in pre–World War II for the holidays. Recognizing Miss Eva’s disorientation as the same dementia her late grandmother experienced, Anna isn’t sure who is actually taking care of whom on the journey.

At the far end of the journey, Tom Thurston is anxious about what to expect when his daughter arrives. So he’s doubly shocked when a teary old woman embraces him, convinced that he is her long-lost brother.

At Anna’s insistence, he reluctantly agrees to bring the woman home with them and try to locate her family. And as Anna clings loyally to her new friend, and Tom struggles to be who Miss Eva needs him to be, both father and daughter begin to understand one another. And through Miss Eva, they learn the true meaning of family, and of love.

My Comments:
This is a Christmas novella.  That usually means a short but heartwarming book and The Christmas Train does not disappoint.  Anna's grandmother, with whom she has lived for years, just died.  Her mother doesn't want her and puts her on a train to meet the father she has never met, saying it is his turn to take care of her. The railroad won't let Anna travel without an adult, so her mother sits her next to a little old lady and tells Anna to tell the train people that they are together.  Anna listens to Ms. Eva tell her stories of WWII Europe and her life in the US thereafter.  When they finally arrive, Ms. Eva thinks Anna's father is her long-lost brother.

This is absolutely a happily ever after story in which way too many good things happen and in which there is a total lack of conflict.  I cried my eyes out near the end of the story and smiled at the ending so I guess Rexanne Becnel met her goal.  Grade:  B.

Thanks to the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  I was not obligated to provide any review, much less a positive one. 

I Won!

Don't you love blog giveaways?  Even though my mailbox stays full and sometimes I feel overwhelmed with my tbr stack, I like winning as much as anyone.  Pete over at The Catholic Book Blogger ran a Mega Advent Giveaway and I won!


I guess I have my Catholic reading material for the next year as I won forty-five books, a Digital Tablet, five CDs, and two DVD's.  Guess you'll be seeing plenty of Catholic books on this blog for a while.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival

Hello, and welcome 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 participate, go to your blog and create a post titled Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival. In it, discuss and link to your posts fo I rr the week--whether they deal with theology, Catholic living or cute Catholic kids. I'm mostly a book blogger so my posts are generally book reviews, some Catholic, some not. Make sure that post links back here. Once you publish it, come back here and leave a link below.

We also have a yahoogroup; signing up for it will get you one weekly reminder to post. Click here to sign up.

Well, I was late last week so I'll be early this week.  Saturday will start with dropping my daughter off for Girl Scout camp.  From there I'll walk to the other side of the parking lot and help with the parish craft fair.  I'll take a break from the craft fair in the middle of the day to have lunch with the local chapter of the Mississippi University for Women Alumni Association.  Then it is back to the craft fair for clean up.  

Since all I posted last week was the linky, I'll go back a bit further with my posts.  Last week I was at a Girl Scout retreat, which made me reflect on the story of Martha and Mary.  I reviewed The Christmas Ranch which is a sweet romance.    I posted about my success with Lending Club.  I reviewed a Catholic book for young teens. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Are You a Martha or a Mary?
Are you a Martha or a Mary?  I'm a Martha, I'm a doer, I see what needs to be done and I do it.  At Mass this weekend we heard from Proverbs 31:

 "She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her fingers ply the spindle.
She reaches out her hands to the poor,
and extends her arms to the needy.

That woman isn't being praised for sitting and listening; she gets stuff done.  I get stuff done.

This weekend I took my daughter on a Girl Scout retreat.  It was held at a local camp/retreat center and put on by a committee of women involved in both Girl Scouts and the Catholic Church.  It was sponsored by the office of youth ministry for our archdiocese.  My daughter was the only girl from her troop who chose to attend; most of the other girls there were with their troops.  My daughter was put in a dorm with a couple of troops and those troops' leaders were the adults in that dorm (there were only two adult spots available that complied with the Safe Environment guidelines).  Because of the set-up,about half the adults, including me, ended up in a dorm with just adults.  We were all troop leaders, we were all women who were used to spending weekend camping trips planning, facilitating, teaching, and corralling girls.  We were used to being kept up at night by talking girls and being woken up by the girls as soon as the sun was up (if they slept that late).  On this trip we were away from them and with other adults who do what we do, and we had a ball.  Usually on trips like this, the girls are up half the night Friday night and then are exhausted Saturday night and sleep.  Well, the adults were a little different.  We all were asleep pretty early Friday night (unlike the girls in their dorms) and Saturday night we delayed lights out because everyone was talking, sharing stories, comparing troop activities, problems and solutions.  Yes, we pitched in when we saw work that needed to be done but we weren't in charge, we weren't responsible, and if we wanted to wander away to the chapel or to take a walk, we weren't missed.

One thing the girls did was skits acting out Bible stories.  One they did was Martha and Mary.  They "updated" the story and had Martha and Mary planning a party and Martha had her lists of things that needed to be done, stuff they had to get and so forth.  The party started and Mary was greeting the guests and spending time with them; Martha was in the kitchen doing chores and was upset that Mary wasn't helping.  Jesus told her to chill and that it was more important to spend time with the guests than to handle all those chores.  My thought was "cute".  

Tonight I was thinking about the retreat and about how much I enjoyed not being in charge and then I remembered the girls' skit about Martha and Mary.  I doubt you'll every completely turn me into a Mary, but I think God's message to this Martha this weekend was to chill a little and spend some time with Him. 

Sunday Snippets--Snippet Edition

I was on a Girl Scout retreat this weekend and now have to run to work before running to....  anyway, sorry I forget to preschedule.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Christmas Ranch: My Review

About the Book:
Hope Nichols has never felt as if she belonged anywhere, except her hometown of Pine Gulch. So, when she hears that her family's property, Christmas Ranch, is set to be shut down forever, a determined Hope heads home. She refuses to let the Grinch steal her holiday—this will be the most memorable ranch Christmas ever! And, thanks to hunky former navy SEAL Rafe Santiago and his adorable nephew, she might just pull off that miracle. 

Rafe is undeniably drawn to Hope and her passion for rebuilding her family home. But he knows more about Hope's tragic past than even she herself could imagine. And though she doesn't know it, she owes him her life. And all he wants in return is for her to spend it with him…

My Comments:
It is a clean Christmas romance.  Enough said.  Grade:  B

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

Monday, November 10, 2014

Lending Club: It's Been Four Months Now

Well, I may not be getting rich, but I'm very satisfied with my Lending Club returns to date--so satisfied that this is the last time I'm going to update you about the experiment and probably the last time I'm going to show you a screen shot like this.  Am I quitting?  No.  I've just invested about half our bank savings, and frankly it isn't the world's business how much that is.  I may talk about Lending Club here in the future, but I'm seriously considering starting another blog about our progress toward retirement, (I've set it up and drafted a few posts, I have a number of post in mind that I want pre-scheduled before I go live) and will post Lending Club updates there.

So, how have I done in the last four months?  It depends on how you look at it.  Bottom line is that I invested $1,000 on July 10 and $1550 on August 14 and today I have $2578.24.  Lending Club says I have an annualized return of 10.6%, which beats my bank any day, and beats the k stock market much of the time.  However, the XIRR method, which many say is the most accurate way to compute returns, says today that my return is about 4%--but Friday it was 6%.  Why?  Lots of notes were due and paid on Friday, but not many over the weekend or today so they are averaging in three more days and not much more money and on an account this small and this new those days and cents make a big difference.  A larger and older account would have a more steady return, unless there was a late note or default.  Absent late notes, my return should climb as I bought many notes at a premium so that the interest they paid prior to this month went to replacing capital, not to earnings.  Now everything is earnings.  A third way to look at it is to say that since this time last month my account has increased by $29.10.  If you multiply that by 12 months it gives you $349.20 which is 13.7% of $2550.00.  Bottom line is I'm doing well, and even if I had a $25.00 note default every month, I'd still do better than my bank savings account.

What have I learned in the last four months?

  • I'm not a financial expert, this is not financial advise and your experience may not mirror mine, but to me, this seems like a great investment.  Banks have been making money on consumer credit for a long time; this allows small investors to do the same.  One piece of financial advice I got years ago was that if I was going to invest in something I needed to be able to explain how the investment could make money and how it could lose money.  Peer-to-Peer Lending is easy to understand as are its risks and pitfalls.
  • From everything I've read (and I've been giving Google a real workout) the more money you have invested in Peer-to-Peer Lending, the harder it is to get earnings signficantly above the average, or significantly below.  Considering the average is about 8%, I'll take it.  Right now I'm above average, but that's because my account is new, not because I'm brilliant.  I paid a premium for some resale notes hoping they would be less likely to default that new ones.  Time will tell if I'm right,but resale notes have a risk I did not consider when I bought a bunch of those--the risk of early payback.  I had a couple of notes pay off early and leave me with less money than I invested.
  • While I have enjoyed playing with these notes--selecting them and watching the account grow daily, and while I may have squeezed a few extra cents out of the account by doing so--I really can't see doing this on a large scale.  While I can't say I won't play with this anymore, I realize that the more money I have invested the more I have to rely on automatic tools.
  • In trolling the Folio site for resale notes I've noticed that large notes are for sale at larger discounts/smaller mark-ups than $25 notes of similar quality/interest rate.  Unless I have so much money that I can't get it invested in $25 increments, I'll stay with the $25 notes, even if I buy several of them on the same loan.
What will I be doing going forward?

  • Emergency fund:  I took about half of our cash savings and moved them to Peer-to-Peer lending; half to Lending Club and half to its competitor, Prosper.  I left enough in the bank to buy a new used car.  I figured that for any other use of our emergency fund, I'd have time to liquidate these notes.  Also, unlike many investments, this one throws off cash every month so if I know I need money for something, I can stop re-investing the returns and transfer them to the bank.
  • College fund:  My daughter is in college.  We've been paying what her scholarships do not.  I'm expecting an inheritance soon.  I plan to take the money for her final two years of school and invest it in resale notes that come due before she finishes.  I'm going to let my daughter manage the account.  If she chooses to do nothing, there will be money there when she needs it, with 4-5% interest (assuming defaults are no worse than expected).  If she is a little more active with it, she might do a little better.
  • Inheritance:  I'm expecting a substantial cash infusion soon.  While I plan to put some in the stock market, I also expect to increase my Peer-to-Peer portfolio.
  • For my readers:  If you want an invite to invest in Lending Club and get up to a $25 bonus, email me or leave a comment and I'll send you one.  

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Review: Ten Commandments for Kissing Gloria Jean

About the Book:
A 14-year-old girl who wants her first kiss more than anything gets diagnosed with Celiac disease, prompting important considerations about her body and her Catholic faith. Themes include: faith, choices, and sex & relationships.

My Comments:
I won this book on the Holloway Family North blog.  It is a Catholic YA novel aimed at the middle school crowd.  I have mixed feelings about it.

The book starts with Gloria Jean and her friends (whose parents consider them too young to date) arranging a group party with boys at the movies.  Of course the kids pair up--but due to some intestinal distress, Gloria Jean never gets kissed by her "date".  She does lie and tell her parents that the girls all sat together.

We continue to follow Gloria Jean and her friends through the first semester of the school year.  One new thing this year is that PE includes sex ed once a week--sex ed that is focused on consent and staying safe, not sex ed focused on chastity.  Gloria Jean is also getting sex ed in her confirmation classes, where they are taught the Catholic view of sexuality.  I thought the contrast between the classes was interesting and instructive.

Another thing Gloria Jean is dealing with is celiac disease.  She'd been suffering from increasing intestinal distress and other ailments for over a year and was finally diagnosed with celiac disease and put on a gluten-free diet.  Of course she's not happy about it, though she does feel better.  She has to learn to deal with a new diet, which includes not taking the host at Mass--and changing Mass times to one where the Cup could be offered (her family attended the Extraordinary Form Mass).  

One thing that had me annoyed for much of the book is the fact that Gloria Jean's best friend was Jewish.  Her best friend was the one who was encouraging her in her quest to get kissed and it seemed for much of the book like the author was setting up a contrast between how a good Catholic should behave and how the world (as exemplified by Gloria's friend Eden) expects us to behave.  It annoys me to no end when a Christian novel uses a Catholic in such a situation and for most of the book I saw no reason Eden should have been cast as Jewish rather than as "we go to different churches every Christmas". At the end of the book, the fact the Eden is Jewish does become important, so I'll give Britt Leigh a pass on that one.

This is clearly a book designed to teach religion and a lot of it.  During the course of this 195 page book we learn that Gloria Jean attends a Latin Mass in the Extraordinary Form, that the people dress up for that Mass, and her mom even bought her an expensive veil to wear.  We listen to the sex ed talks at Confirmation class, and go with Gloria Jean to Adoration.  Gloria Jean ends up doing a project on bread and learns about the use of bread in the Bible.  Gloria Jean goes to confession too.  At times I think the story got bogged down because there was too much effort to teach religion.  

I'd like to thank Britt Leigh and the Daughters of St. Paul (her publishers) for providing a complimentary copy of the book.  Grade:  B-

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Quick Romance Reviews

I'm sure it is no surprise to any of my readers that I enjoy romance novels. However, they are a bit like candy--sweet but not too substantial, and after a while you get sick of it.  I've read a couple lately that I enjoyed but which I cannot get motivated to review.  Still I want to say a few words to make the nice folks who let me have them happy. Both are from NetGalley.  


About the Book:
Chet Leonard's life was forever changed when his seventeen year old son died and then, soon after, his wife walked out on their family. Over two years later, all he wants to do is hold onto his horse ranch and raise his remaining sons to be honorable men.

Kimberly Welch, widowed mother of Tara, a rebellious fifteen-year-old, has reached the end of her finances and nearly the end of her rope. She and Tara come to King's Meadow to try to piece their lives back together again. Kimberly has no intention of become involved with the residents of this remote mountain community and certainly not with any man.

When 84-year-old Anna McKenna returns to King's Meadow and to the Leonard ranch, she becomes an agent of change and healing for the two hurting families. With her help, Kimberly and Chet's families at last discover a love without end.

My Comments: 
Can two hurting people find love?  Of course they can.  This is a Christian romance so the characters go to church, pray, and keep things chaste.  Chet is friends with a minister and they talk a couple of times but for the most part this is far more a clean romance than a religious one.  Grade:  B.

About the Book:
Wedding bells are ringing on the Double-Bar-K and Luke Matheson is determined to make his move on his favorite bridesmaid--sweet, sexy Mia Start. Though she's shared his house for more than two months, she's remained elusive. Luke's ready to cross that divide, and win her love for good. 

Mia would give anything to marry Luke, but he won't want her once he knows the truth; she's four months pregnant with another man's child. It's time to find a real home--and a real job--so she can raise her baby alone. 

When a nosy neighbor exposes Mia's pregnancy at his brother's wedding, Luke sees his chance to finally get what he wants. He lays claim to the baby--and to Mia--but their happily-ever-after lasts barely a day. When Luke's pride clashes with Mia's need for independence, Mia calls their brand new engagement off. 

Can Luke convince her to change her mind? Or will these wedding bells sound the death knell of their relationship?

My  Review:
In case you couldn't tell by the cover, this one was not a Christian romance.  As general market romance goes, I'd put it in the middle of the spectrum--not the steamiest around, but definitely not chaste either.  It is one of those Mars/Venus stories where all he wants to do is take care of her, and all she wants to do is to prove to herself, if not to everyone, that she can take care of herself.  Grade:  B.  

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival

Hello, and welcome 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 participate, go to your blog and create a post titled Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival. In it, discuss and link to your posts for the week--whether they deal with theology, Catholic living or cute Catholic kids. I'm mostly a book blogger so my posts are generally book reviews, some Catholic, some not. Make sure that post links back here. Once you publish it, come back here and leave a link below.

We also have a yahoogroup; signing up for it will get you one weekly reminder to post. Click here to sign up.

I think the question of the week has run its course so I'm going to put it on hiatus; if you'd like to see it return, let me know; I'll consider it.

Monday, November 03, 2014

What is Valuable? The Problem with Overabundance

Used with permission

In case anyone was wondering, I love to read.  I have loved to read since my first grade teacher taught me how--or even before, since I knew the main reason I was going to school was to learn to read.  Since that time I have devoured books.  I was in many schools over my academic career and one thing they all had in common was that they only allowed you to check out two books at a time from the library.  Until I hit junior high and could go to the library daily, that just wasn't enough--I had them read by bedtime on library day; all I could do the rest of the week was re-read them.  I owned a few books of my own.  The Scholastic book order forms took most of my allowance those years, but a day or so after I got them, my new books were read.  When I got old enough to go to the public library by myself in the summers, I'd go through four or five books a day.  Yes, I'm a reader and I always have been.

Needless to say, after I started making my own money, bookstores got some of it--but not really all that much.  It didn't take higher math to figure out that as fast as I read books I'd go broke buying them.  I used my library card rather than my credit card, but the bookstore was a regular stop when I went to the mall--even if I didn't buy all that often.  When Borders and Barnes and Noble opened huge bookstores, I was in heaven.  Even though I didn't buy often I loved going in there and looking.  The Friends of the Library Big Book Sale was terrific; lots of choices for little money.  One year I happened upon it at the mall and it must have been near the end.  They handed me a box, told me I could fill it and it would cost me $1.00.  What a great day!

Then I discovered book blogging.  Like many others, I started writing about books I acquired in conventional ways.  Then I learned about blog tours and signed up with First Wildcard Tours.  They sent me free books in the mail; all I had to do was publish their material.  What a deal.  I joined more lists, and more review programs.  Publicists would see my blog and pitch books to me.  There were weeks when I had packages more days than I didn't.  Life was good. 

Next, I got a Kindle.  That opened up a whole new world.  Not only could I get free books in the mail, I could get free advance digital copies.  I joined NetGalley and wrote, back in January, 2011, that they had about 800 books available.  Today, that number is over 3800.  There is a similar site called Edelweiss which has over 3500 review copies available--though some are duplicates of what is offered on NetGalley. Also, as any Kindle owner knows, there are plenty of freebies available on Amazon and elsewhere. My Kindle runneth over.  I could read for hours every day for a month and not clear out the backlog.  

I used to check NetGalley and Edelweiss at least weekly looking for new reads.  I used to reply to lots of publicists requests for reviews.  I used to love to go to the bookstore, and was thrilled with a gift card that meant I could buy books without guilt.  Lately though, I've had enough.  I still check a publisher or two on NetGalley pretty regularly, but there are a lot of books I would have grabbed a couple of years ago that I haven't requested, and probably won't request.  If I want to read them later, I suspect my library will get them, and if not, oh well.  Tour requests get a lot closer look than they once did too.  

While I still love to read, and still spend plenty of time doing so, I've realized that scarcity is part of what made book ownership (as opposed to reading) enjoyable to me.  When book buying was a rare treat, the act of searching for and purchasing a book was pleasurable.  When review copies were a new thing, and relatively rare, getting them made me feel special, and having the book was great too.  Then my bookshelf began to be over-crowded.  I realized that with all these books coming into the house, the ones already here were not likely to be re-read.  Storing and disposing of books became new problems in my life (ok, maybe the word "problem" is a little strong, but I can't think of another on at this moment).  

All too often in this life, it is easy to think that "if only" I could get more of this or all I wanted of that, life would be great.  Perhaps my experience with books is there to remind me that more is not necessarily better.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival

Hello, and welcome 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 participate, go to your blog and create a post titled Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival. In it, discuss and link to your posts for the week--whether they deal with theology, Catholic living or cute Catholic kids. I'm mostly a book blogger so my posts are generally book reviews, some Catholic, some not. Make sure that post links back here. Once you publish it, come back here and leave a link below.

We also have a yahoogroup; signing up for it will get you one weekly reminder to post. Click here to sign up.

Question of the week:  Who is your favorite saint?  

My Answer:  The Blessed Mother.

I reviewed two children's books this week:  Captain No Beard and the Aurora Borealis talks about stealing.  Miraculous Me is about parents dreaming about the life their unborn child will live.  Snow Angel is a Christmas romance. Sweetness of Honey is also a romance.  Wing Tip is about a Catholic priest learning about his parents' life prior to his birth.  

View My Stats