Wednesday, August 31, 2011

MARTHA: A NOVEL (DIANA WALLIS TAYLOR)

I've been reading like crazy over the past few days.  I was reading one book during daytime hours and then reading this story of Martha, on my KOBO e-reader in the evenings.  That's what happens when you've got insomnia at night.  Thank goodness there are so many books!

Story Description:

She has spent her life caring for others--will she ever find someone who will cherish her? 

Martha's entire life is marked by her responsibilities to her family. In the absence of her mother, she runs the household, makes the meals, cares for her father, and attempts to keep her absentminded younger sister on task. In the midst of her duties, will she ever find time to live her own life--or find her own love?

This touching, well-researched portrayal of Martha of Bethany, sister of Mary and Lazarus, unveils the woman within the Bible character. Through Diana Wallis Taylor's lush descriptions and inspired fusion of imagined and recorded dialogue, Martha's world--her trials, triumphs, and loves--vibrantly comes to life. 

Follow Martha as she navigates the complicated worlds of family, faith, and love . . . and you'll never read her story the same way again.
My Review:

Martha lives with her father Ephraim, her sister Mary, and her brother, Lazarus in Bethany.  Being of the marriage age, Ephraim has been approached by Gera and his wife, Rhumah about their son, Phineas marrying Martha.  Phineas is an only son and Martha is excited and is anxious about the waiting time until Gera and his wife make their decision. 

Martha is a tall young woman and taller than most of the other girls in Bethany.  She lost her mother, Jerusha two years ago and did the best she could for her father, her 12-year-old brother, and 10-year-old-Mary. Martha herself is only fifteen-years-old. 

The house they lived in was made of brick reinforced with straw and plastered over with lime and clay.  Ephraim was a brick maker and was teaching Lazarus how to make strong bricks out of clay and straw.  The roof of the house was made of reeds and sticks that were coated in thick clay. 

Little Mary often goes to help a neighbour, Adah, a woman too old to help in the fields, so she asks Mary to come and help her look after two or three small children who are too young to help harvest. 

With all the duties Martha must perform will she ever find time or happiness for herself?  Everyone else around her has their needs met by Martha, but who is there to meet Martha’s needs? 

I enjoyed this book so much.  The story is compelling and the attention to detail proves the level of research Mrs. Wallis-Taylor has done on this period in history.  The story of Martha was captivating and I felt as though I was there.  I could picture myself walking along the dusty road from Bethany to Jerusalem with Martha, Mary, and Lazarus.  This was just a beautifully written story that you’ll fall in love with.


FLIGHT OF THE DRAGONFLY (MELISSA HAWACH)

Story Description:

During the summer of 2006, Melissa Hawach lived through every mother’s nightmare: her daughters, six-year-old Hannah and three-year-old Cedar, were kidnapped by their father and swept away to Lebanon in a desperate attempt to force a custody agreement. In this brave and gripping true-life account, Hawach narrates the extraordinary details of the kidnapping and the remarkable lengths to which she went in order to get her daughters back. From her home-turned-command-post in Calgary, to Sydney, Australia, to dangerous Hezbollah territory in Lebanon, Hawach and her hired security team plotted a reclamation strategy that relied on stop-watch execution, incredible amounts of cash and luck.  Flight of the Dragonfly is a book written with courage and candor, bravery and passion. It will resonate with any parent who has lost a child if only for a moment.
My Review:
Melissa Hawach and her husband, Joe, lived in Calgary, Alberta and had been separated for just a few months.  Their separation didn’t come with the usual knock ‘em down drag out fight, but instead they separated with harmonious agreement.  Due to this amicable separation, it came as a bomb-shattering shock to Melissa when she received a phone call on July 19, 2006 from her brother-in-law informing her that her two beloved daughters were gone and weren’t coming back.
Joe’s family lived in Australia and he had taken six-year-old Hannah and three-year-old Cedar to visit for 3 weeks, but when Melissa stopped hearing from them after only 2 weeks into their holiday, she was told Joe had actually taken the girls into war torn Lebanon, his original home.  Melissa was told that Joe had no intentions whatsoever of bringing his daughters back to Canada.  Melissa was shocked, devastated, and rocked to her core.  Once in Lebanon, Joe was attempting to force a custody agreement.
Melissa’s strength and courage defied the odds even though the obstacles thrown in her path would deter anyone else Melissa was never prepared to give up on Hannah and Cedar.  With no money in the bank, thanks to a spending spree by Joe, Melissa turned to family and friends and eventually to private investigators to diplomatic and legal resources.
This young woman went through any mothers’ worst nightmare but was willing to do anything to get her daughter’s back.  She even travelled to both Australia and the very dangerous Lebanon. 
This is Melissa’s story.  It will make you laugh and it will make you cry but most of all, it will make you want to hug your kids a little more each day.  An absolutely amazing story!!


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

STUCK IN ESTROGEN'S FUNHOUSE (SHAYNA GIER)

Story Description:

Martina “Marti” MacCale, bartender extraordinaire at Flash Point, the best bar in town, is happily married to her best friend, Spencer and having the time of her life… until without warning, her own body rudely sets out to destroy her happiness.  Pregnancy tests negative, she becomes a whirlwind of emotion and confusion. And amidst the unexplained mood swings and strange food cravings, she finds herself craving someone who is not her husband… What’s a girl to do when not even a good old-fashioned Sex on the Beach can soothe the ache?
 My Review:
Marti and Spencer are a happily married couple.  Marti is a whiz of a bartendar at the local bar, Flash Point.  She mixes up drinks with exotic names quicker than you can turn a page in a book.
Lately, Marti just hasn’t felt herself and being off the pill she thinks she might be pregnant but all the tests she takes turn up negative.  What in the world is causing her naseousness and vomiting?  Marti visits her doctor who also concludes that she is not pregnant so sets out to perform some hormone testing.
Meanwhile, Justine, Marti’s boss at work has hired a new employee, Erik, and wants Marti to train him.  Soon Marti is having ‘feelings’ for Erik and visualizing all sorts of scenarios with Erik that’ll make you blush.  But she’s a married woman, how can she feel like this?  Of course, Erik is encouraging their flirtatious relationship and soon the two of them are dancing together at the bar.  More and more Marti is thinking about Erik, even when she’s not at work.
During a pool party at friend, Crystal’s house, Spencer notices that there is something between Erik and Marti and he confronts her when they return home.  With Marti unable to give Spencer a quick and adamant “no, we’re not having an affair”, Spencer leaves the apartment.
What is Marti going to do?  How will she explain Erik to Spencer and is she pregnant or not?  Guess you’ll have to read the book to find out!
This was a beautiful, cute, and well-written novella and I look forward to reading more of Shayna Gier’s work.

****Preview copy courtesy of the author, with thanks!****

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Baker's Wife (Erin Healy)


Story Description:

What 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 patron’s hostage, Audrey must find Julie and unravel the secret of her own mysterious suffering before Jack comes undone.

My Review:

Geoff Bofinger has been ex-communicated from his church.  A Congregationalist by the name of, Jack Mansfield has convinced the elder board that Pastor Geoff had violated his promise to be their spiritual leader and should be sent away.  Now Geoff, his wife Audrey and their teenaged son, Ed, are running the old ‘Yummy Crumb’ bakery who filed for bankruptcy.  They had been known for their weak coffee, dry pastries, and tough loaves of bread.  Audrey and the woman she hired, Estrella, bake the most wonderful tasting bread that Audrey ‘gives away’ to deserving members of their community.  They decided to try and resurrect the old bakery in an effort to heal the family wounds and restore their place in the community.

Audrey is a deeply religious woman and felt called by God to be a “comforter” and she is glad for the job.  She sat with her friend, Cora Jean Hall, who was dying of pancreatic cancer and believed that: “…people who suffer shouldn’t be left alone…”

Driving to the bakery early one morning with her son, Ed, Audrey’s car hit a motor scooter but the driver seems to have disappeared.  There was a lot of blood so the person on the scooter was obviously hurt, but where did they go?  Then Ed recognized the scooter and said: “That’s Julie Mansfield’s scooter.”  It was Julie’s husband who was responsible for having Geoff thrown out of his Pastoral job at the church!  Julie’s husband was none other than “Sergeant Jack Mansfield”, a city detective, and Julie was a math teacher at Mazy High school.

Jack is accusing Geoff Bofinger and his wife Audrey of killing Julie and hiding her body somewhere to get back at them for having Geoff tossed out of the church.  So, Jack takes some hostages at the bakery in a stand-off and has given Audrey a couple of hours to either produce his wife Julie, or her body.  If she’s not back in time, he will kill everyone he’s taken hostage and has already shot through the foot of the high school coach.

Can Audrey find out what happened to Julie and locate her before she loses her husband and her son?

What I thought was going to be a quick, light read turned out to be a wonderful suspense novel that kept me turning page after page.  I was completely engrossed in this story to the point that I didn’t even want to stop long enough to make a cup of tea!!!  This is the first novel of Erin Healy that I’ve read and will definitely be looking up more of her books in the future.

***PREVIEW COPY COURTESY OF NETGALLEY, WITH THANKS!***

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A GREAT CATCH (LORNA SEILSTAD) BOOK #2 IN "THE LAKE MANAWA SUMMER SERIES"

Story Description:

She wants to change the world.
He wants to change her mind.

It’s the beginning of a new century at Lake Manawa resort in Iowa, but some things never change.  When Emily Graham’s meddlesome aunts and grandmother take it upon themselves to find her a husband among the resort guests, the spunky suffragist is determined to politely decline each and every suitor.  She has neither the time nor the need for a man in her busy life. 

Carter Stockton, a recent college graduate and a pitcher for the Manawa Owls baseball team, intends to enjoy every minute of the summer before he is forced into the straitlaced business world of his father. 
When their worlds collide, neither Emily nor Carter could have guessed what would come next.  Will Carter strike out?  Or will Emily cast her vote for a love that might cost her dreams?  The perfect summer novel, A Great Catch will enchant you with its breezy setting and endearing characters.

My Review:
The story is set in 1901 at the Lake Manawa resort in Iowa.  Emily Graham is a single twenty-two-year-old who is an astute and confident young woman who knows what she wants.  She is adept at realizing her goals and won’t stop until they are achieved.  Emily is a big believer of women’s right to vote or run for office, but doesn’t have the time nor the desire for a man. 

Emily’s aunts and grandmother decide that she does indeed need a man in her life and set about finding her one among the young men who are frequenting the resort, but Emily plans to put the kibosh on that.  However, when she runs into Carter Stockton, a recent graduate from college, she has no idea what is going to happen in her life.  Is this situation something Emily can control or does fate intervene and cost her her dreams? 

I loved Emily, although she was a deeply confident young lady, there was also an air of innocence about her.  I loved how in one part of the book where she is speaking to a man named Mr. Fletcher about printing an article regarding women’s rights and Emily thanks him for being a supporter.  He corrects her and tells Emily he’s not a supporter that it’s just merely “news” and that’s what he reports.  They have a bit more conversation and Emily ends up “slamming” the door behind her when she walks out and is bothered by the fact that she can imagine Mr. Fletcher “grumbling about emotional woman” but says she didn’t really care.  Then she says: “If I didn’t need the free press opportunity his newspaper offered, I would happily never grace Irwin Fletcher’s presence again.”  Two minutes later she is standing in the town’s bank smiling at the gentleman who held the door open for her, at the teller’s she walks past and the people she is at the bank to see.  I just got a kick out of her trying to be so tough when really underneath she is a sweet, innocent, young woman. 

I didn’t realize that this novel is part of a series called: “The Lake Manawa Summer” series and would very much be interested in reading the first book in the series titled: “Making Waves.” 

“Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”



Friday, August 26, 2011

THE LOST GIRLS (JENNIFER BAGGETT, HOLLY C. CORBETT, AMANDA PRESSNER)


Story Description:

With their thirtieth birthdays looming, Jen, Holly, and Amanda are feeling the pressure to hit certain milestones-score the big promotion, find a soul mate, have 2.2 kids. Instead, they make a pact to quit their jobs, leave behind everything familiar, and embark on a yearlong round-the-world search for inspiration and direction.

Traveling 60,000 miles across four continents, Jen, Holly, and Amanda push themselves far outside their comfort zones to embrace every adventure. Ultimately, theirs is a story of true friendship-a bond forged by sharing beds and backpacks, enduring exotic illnesses, trekking across mountains, and standing by one another through heartaches, whirlwind romances, and everything in the world in between. 

My Review:

Jen, Holly, and Amanda have decided to leave New York and take a 60,000 mile around-the-world journey that will take them across four continents and more than twelve countries.  They’re calling themselves: “The Lost Girls”, a term which describes their uncertainty about the future and an emotional state they feel represents many in their generation.  They committed to spending one year of their late 20’s to wander the globe.

Jen was giving up her marketing coordinator job for a music television network and both Amanda and Holly were giving up their cutthroat magazine jobs.  By the time they pack up to leave on their whirlwind tour, all the girls are turning 28-years-of-age.

They make stops in Salvador, Brazil; Maasai Village, Oronkai, Kenya; Kiminini, Kenya (where they volunteered for a month to work for the ‘Common Ground Program’, a grassroots non-governmental organization that houses a primary school called: ‘Pathway Academy’ that serves hundreds of children, many who are orphans or have at least one parent dead or seriously ill); Lima, Peru where they hiked the 26 mile long Inca Trail which has an altitude of 14,000 feet; an Indian Ashram; and New Zealand to name a few.  They make some great friends along the way and even meet someone who’s from New York!

This was a most enjoyable read and during certain parts of their trip, I wish I had of been with them!  This would make a great movie!!


 

THE CIRCUS AT THE EDGE OF THE EARTH - TRAVELS WITH THE GREAT WALLENDA CIRCUS (CHARLES WILKINS)


Story Description:

In a narrative that is by turns funny, informative and poignant, Wilkins chronicles a month on the road in his native Canada with the Great Wallenda Circus in the spring of 1997 and, in the process, offers remarkable insight into a subculture.  A diverse assortment of gymnasts, animal trainers, daredevils and wanderers who identify themselves as circus folk that is slowly disappearing from public consciousness. Ricky Wallenda, the producer and organizer of the outfit, inherited his famous name from his grandfather Karl Wallenda, the patriarch of the famous "Flying Wallendas" circus family. Wallenda, forced off the high wire and into show production by two harrowing accidents and haunted by the memory of family and personal tragedy, is an example of the dogged persistence that drives these performers to stay in the circus business despite the grind of constant travel and preparation, dwindling profits and omnipresent danger (what these circus folk have to say about tigers will make readers afraid of their Frosted Flakes). Wilkins's primary guide through both the lore and the practical reality of the circus is Bobby Gibbs, the 370-pound animal trainer and social provocateur who lovingly shepherds his 60-year-old, blind elephant, Judy, through the backroads and chilly arenas of Canada. Gibbs exhorts Wilkins to capture the experience truthfully: "Don't sugarcoat it!" Wilkins, with a love for the circus nurtured since childhood, balances his admiration for the performers and their craft with a probing exploration of their humanity.

My Review:

The story begins in Sioux Narrows, Ontario on May 13, 1997 where the author, Charles Wilkins, tagged along for an entire month through the rural and remote areas of Canada with performers of the Great Wallenda Circus. 

The line-up of performers were talented: David Connors was the prop boss and his wife, Sissy, was a aerialist; Wilson Barnes was a tiger trainer raising his three-year-old daughter, Connie, on the road; Bobby Gibbs was an elephant trainer, Bill Barren was a singing ringmaster; Pat Delaney ran the concession stand; and Jill Goncalves performed a wonderful sword balancing routine, to name a few.

The Wallenda Circus suffered a lot of tragedy first with the death of the patriarch Karl Wallenda when he died in a fall from the high wire in 1978.  Six other family members died performing: uncles, cousins, an aunt, a grandfather, and a stepfather.  The human pyramid collapsed during a show in Detroit on January 30, 1962 leaving two aerialists dead, a third paralyzed for life and a fourth with internal and head injuries.

In the late 1950’s they performed on the grandstand at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto, Ontario.

There were many obstacles for the Wallenda Circus to overcome: immigration regulations for  both the performers and the animals; severe flooding from torrential rains; and vicious competition from other circus’s, to name a few.

The stories that the performers and workers tell about the very real delights and dangers of being part of a circus is breathtaking.  The book conveys the sights, sounds, and smells of the circus as though you were really there and sitting under the Big Top!  The description and detail makes the book come alive and I would highly recommend it to other people.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A STOLEN LIFE - A MEMOIR (JAYCEE DUGARD)


Story Description:

 In the summer of 1991 I was a normal kid. I did normal things. I had friends and a mother who loved me. I was just like you. Until the day my life was stolen.

For eighteen years I was a prisoner. I was an object for someone to use and abuse.
For eighteen years I was not allowed to speak my own name. I became a mother and was forced to be a sister. For eighteen years I survived an impossible situation.

On August 26, 2009, I took my name back. My name is Jaycee Lee Dugard. I don’t think of myself as a victim. I survived.

A Stolen Life is my story—in my own words, in my own way, exactly as I remember it.
My Review:

On June 10, 1991 eleven-year-old Jaycee Dugard was kidnapped while on her way to the school bus by Philip Girrado and his wife, Nancy.  They kept her in confinement for the next eighteen-years when she was finally discovered by the FBI when she was twenty-nine-years-old.

During Jaycee’s captivity she father two children to Philip Girrado and the abuse and rapes she endured from him were absolutely horrendous.  However, her spunky spirit and ability to learn quickly to go along with Philip proved time and again to make her encounters with him less painful. 

Written with integrity and honesty, Jaycee is one very brave and courageous woman who deserves a great deal of respect for what she has survived. I would highly recommend this book to anyone.

THE UNINVITED (TIM WYNNE-JONES)


Story Description:

Mimi Shapiro had a disturbing freshman year at NYU, thanks to a foolish affair with a professor who still haunts her caller ID. So when her artist father, Marc, offers the use of his remote Canadian cottage, she’s glad to hop in her Mini Cooper and drive up north. The house is fairy-tale quaint, and the key is hidden right where her dad said it would be, so she’s shocked to find someone already living there — Jay, a young musician, who is equally startled to meet Mimi and immediately accuses her of leaving strange and threatening tokens inside: a dead bird, a snakeskin, a cricket sound track embedded in his latest composition. But Mimi has just arrived, so who is responsible? And more alarmingly, what does the intruder want? Part gripping thriller, part family drama, this fast-paced novel plays out in alternating viewpoints, in a pastoral setting that is evocative and eerie — a mysterious character in its own right.

My Review:

I was disappointed in this novel perhaps my expectations were too high.  It was a very bland, slow moving read for a supposedly decent suspense novel. 

Mimi, the main protagonist drives to Canada from the United States to stay in a small house her father used to use as his artist studio.  Mimi wants to spend some time alone after breaking off an affair with her university professor.  But when she arrives at the house, there is already someone else staying there and the house was supposed to be empty.

Mimi discovers the man staying in the house is a young musician named Jay, who is struggling to find his muse.  However, Jay appears to be much more connected to Mimi than she realizes and there is a man who watches them both from the nearby river.

I found that Wynne-Jones was able to create a few suspenseful moments here and there throughout the book, but wasn’t able to hit the mark for a true suspense in my opinion.

Preview copy courtesy of NetGalley, with thanks!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

CHASING SUNSETS - A CEDAR KEY NOVEL - BOOK ONE (EVA MARIE EVERSON)



Story Description:

Kimberly Tucker’s life hasn’t turned out the way she thought it would.  While her ex is living it up, she struggles to understand what went wrong.  When her two sons end up spending five weeks of summer vacation with their father, Kim plans a respite at the family vacation home on tiny Cedar Key.  As she revisits the long-forgotten past, she discovers that treasures in life are often buried, and sometimes you do get a second chance at love.

Let yourself be swept away to an island retreat of warm tropical breezes, sandy beaches, and the most glorious sunsets you can imagine.

Sometimes you get a second chance at your first love.

My Review:

Cedar Key is a small island retreat where forty-one-year-old school teacher, Kimberly Tucker, has gone for a respite.  Now divorced and the mother of two boys who are spending five long weeks with their father, she is feeling very lonely and thinks about her past when she meets up with, Steven Granger.  Steven just happened to be Kimberly’s first love as a teenager and she is unsure about him as he left her during their teenage romance and literally left her heart and soul in shreds.

Kimberly finds out that Steven is also divorced and a single father.  In the meantime, she meets an elderly woman by the name of, Patsy, whom I loved.  Patsy is great at giving advice and has a whole lot of experience behind her.  But best of all, Patsy is a woman of God.  She trusts Him and her faith is strong.  Soon Kimberly is garnering advice from her as she doesn’t trust herself to make the right decisions, or decisions that would be best for her at this point in her life.

Wanting to keep his daughter occupied and with something positive to focus on, Kimberly’s father asks her to hire a new groundskeeper for the property.

Kimberly is having feelings for Steven but dare she begin a relationship after he left her to attend college and get married?  Does she want to take a second chance with him when she knows her youngest son is so hoping his parents will get back together?  Her ex-husband certainly hasn’t had any problems “moving on” and is involved with several women.

What Kimberly needs to do is to trust God, to turn to Him with a belief and the faith that He does believe in second chances.  Will Kimberly allow herself the luxury of a second chance at love and happiness or will her desire to figure out why and how she ended up divorced in the first place override everything she knows and feels deep in her soul?

This is Eva Marie Everson’s first book in the Cedar Key series and I am so looking forward to reading more about Cedar Key.  Everson’s description and detail of Cedar Key will blow you away.  I have never been there myself but I feel as though I have been now!  This was a beautifully written story and I would highly recommend it to anyone.

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.   Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

ONE CALL AWAY:A MEMOIR (BRENDA WARNER with JENNIFER SCHUCHMANN


Story Description:

Brenda Warner is best known as the outspoken wife of NFL superstar and Dancing with the Stars alum Kurt Warner.  But years earlier, she found herself living through any woman’s nightmare: a healthy baby tragically injured in the bathtub; a sudden end to a career she loved; betrayal and divorce; poverty; public humiliation; a deadly natural disaster that destroyed her foundation and shook her to her core.  One shattering phone call at a time, Brenda Warner’s life came to resemble little of her dream.

But each time her plans fell apart, Brenda faced a choice: to collapse in the face of tragedy or press forward and survive.  She chose to keep going.  In the process, she’s learned that the unexpected is only one call away!  Her story provides hope and encouragement for anyone facing life’s challenges and shows us that our circumstances don’t tell us who we are, nor are they a measure of God’s love.  God has a plan for us, even when our plans fail.  Brenda’s life is proof that sometimes the best dreams are not the ones we dream, but the ones that come true when we least expect them.

My Review:

Wow, I’m not really sure what to say about this memoir.  When I read a book like this that I’m disappointed in and didn’t particularly enjoy, I find it very hard to write a review.

Brenda Warner has been through a lot in her life.  She was a single Mom to a disabled son and a young daughter; she had an ex-husband who was a pain in the butt; and she was a girlfriend to a National Football League quarterback and eventually became his wife, and lost her parents which she had a difficult time coping with.  So I’m not saying that this poor woman didn’t suffer through a lot but it would have been much easier to empathize with Brenda if she wasn’t such a self-centered narcissist. 

Brenda is what I call a “whiner”, everything has to be HER way or hit the highway.  Who, I ask you, in their right mind, whines about people thinking you’re not pretty enough?  Brenda Warner does!

The whole sum of this book for me was that Brenda Warner needs to step-up, grow up, and start being a ‘responsible’ person in society instead of an insecure, self-involved grown up brat.

I sure hope that someone else will enjoy this book more than I did.  I forced myself to finish it hoping that Brenda would have an epiphany and wake-up once and for all. 

Preview copy courtesy of BookSneeze, with thanks!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP (S. J. WATSON) KOBO e-READER FORMAT


Story Description:

Christine wakes up every morning in an unfamiliar bed with an unfamiliar man.

She looks in the mirror and sees an unfamiliar, middle-aged face. And every morning, the man she has woken up with must explain that he is Ben, he is her husband, she is forty-seven years old, and a terrible accident two decades earlier decimated her ability to form new memories.

But it’s the phone call from a Dr. Nash, a neurologist who claims to be working with Christine without her husband’s knowledge that directs her to her journal, hidden in the back of her closet. For the past few weeks, Christine has been recording her daily activities -- tearful mornings with Ben, sessions with Dr. Nash, flashes of scenes from her former life -- and rereading past entries, relearning the facts of her life as retold by the husband she is completely dependent upon. As the entries build up, Christine asks many questions. What was life like before the accident? Why did she and Ben never have a child? What has happened to Christine’s best friend? And what exactly was the horrific accident that caused such a profound loss of memory?

Every day, Christine must begin again the reconstruction of her past. And the closer she gets to the truth, the more unbelievable it seems.

My Review:

This is the first book I’ve read on my brand new KOBO e-reader and what a book it was!!!  The mystery and suspense kept me turning page after page.  The further the story went along, the faster I read and the quicker I turned the pages.  This could very well be one of the TOP books for 2011.

The writing is flawless, the characters well-developed, and the story will just absolutely blow you out of the water.

I felt so bad for Christine.  Imagine waking up every single morning and not knowing where you were, who the man in bed beside you was, what you were doing there etc.  To have to be told anew at the beginning of each day and then lose it all again once sleep comes would be devastating at best.  The ending was incredible and one I didn’t expect.

This is one book that I will highly, highly recommend to EVERYONE!!!  Excellent and very, very well done novel!!!

Monday, August 22, 2011

TO WIN HER HEART (KAREN WITEMEYER)


Story Description:

After completing his sentence for the unintentional crime that derailed his youthful plans for fame and fortune, Levi Grant looks to start over in the town of Spencer, Texas.  Spencer needs a blacksmith, a trade Levi learned at his father’s knee, and he needs a place where no one knows his past.

Eden Spencer has sworn off men, choosing instead to devote her time to the lending library she runs in the town her father founded.  When a mountain-sized stranger walks through her door and asks to borrow a book, she’s reluctant to trust him.  Yet as the mysteries of the town’s new blacksmith unfold, Eden discovers hidden depths in him that tempt her heart.

Eden believes she’s finally found a man of honor and integrity.  But when the truth about Levi’s prodigal past comes to light, can this tarnished hero find a way to win back the librarian’s affections?

My Review:

This is Karen Witemeyer’s third novel and each one just gets better and better.

The message in this deeply moving story is that God gives us second chances.  This is a historical romance that will wheedle its way into your heart and soul. 

Levi Grant has spent time in jail for a crime he didn’t mean to do, it was totally unintentional.  He is now looking to begin his life anew in Spencer, Texas where a blacksmith is needed and Levi fits the bill.

Eden Spencer is a librarian in Spencer who is somewhat cantankerous but she absolutely loves children but has sworn off men.  But, when Levi arrives in town Eden’s perfectly, orderly life is quickly turned upside down.  Eden isn’t big on forgiveness and must learn through God that she needs to trust that God will direct her down the right path.  Meanwhile, Levi has made a promise to God which he plans to uphold and soon both Eden and Levi are growing closer to each other.  However, they must reveal and reconcile the differences in their pasts.  Levi doesn’t know that he will soon face an evil man with evil intentions and the outcome of that will surprise you.

There are so many life affirming messages to find throughout this story which will be reminders to us all that all things are possible through God if we allow Him.  I would highly recommend this beautifully written Christian novel to anyone.  I’m looking forward to reading Ms. Witemeyer’s next novel.

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group."

Sunday, August 21, 2011

THE SWEETEST THING (ELIZABETH MUSSER)


Story Description:

Anne "Perri" Singleton's world is defined by the security of family, the camaraderie of friends at an exclusive Atlanta girls' school, and an enviable social life.  She isn't looking for new friends when Mary Dobbs Dillard arrives from Chicago.  Besides, "Dobbs," the passionate and fiercely individualistic daughter of an intinerant minister, is her opposite in every way.

But just as the Great Depression collides disastrously with Perri's well-ordered life, friendship blossoms-a friendship that will be tested by jealousy, betrayal, and family secrets...

With her endearing characters and poignant storytelling, Atlanta native Elizabeth Musser vividly re-creates the charm of her beloved city amid the poverty and plenty that shaped the 1930's.

My Review:

The story is set in Atlanta, Georgia in the year 1933 when the Great Depression was a struggle for everyone.  Dealing with issues such as: financial loss, grief, forgiveness, illness, and racial segregation which was felt by both the poor and wealthy alike.

Mary Dobbs was 17-years-old and the daughter of a poor preacher from Chicago.  Mary had come to Atlanta to live with her rich Aunt so she could attend a prestigious school.  Mary meets Anne "Perri" Singleton and the two become fast friends and much of the story revolves around their relationship.

Some of my most favourite characters were, for sure, the little 8-year-old black servant, Mary Dobbs herself, and Coolie.  These girls were so peppy, so spunky, and weren't at all afraid to speak what they thought.  Something girls of that era just didn't do.

Once you've read this beautiful story you'll soon realize how perfectly appropriate the title is for this book.  Mary has no idea what a whole new life is about to open up for her.  It gives me goosebumps just thinking about this story and it would make a beautiful movie.  I'm actually a bit surprised that Hallmark hasn't picked it up.

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group."

CROSS CURRENTS (JOHN SHORS)


STORY DESCRIPTION:

Thailand's pristine and remote Ko Phi Phi island attracts tourists from around the world, offering a haven to people from all walks of life.  Yet even paradise has its perils.  Struggling to make ends meet, resort owners Lek and Sarai are happy to give an American named Patch room and board in exchange for his help.  But trouble looms when Patch's brother, Ryan, arrives, accompanied by his beautiful girlfriend, Brooke.  Lek learns that Patch is running from the law, and his mere presence puts Lek's family at risk.  Meanwhile, Brooke begins to doubt her love for Ryan, while her feelings for Patch blossom.  The two brothers, once inseparable, clash over a choice that could alter their lives.

In a glorious landscape of sea and sky, where nature's bounty seems endless, these two families are caught in the cross currents of conflict and change-and swept up in an approaching cataclysm that will require all their strength of heart and soul to survive.

My Review:

A mesmerizing, poignant, life affirming read!  CROSS CURRENTS will leave you with a thankfulness for your life and an awareness of the global tragedies that can pound us without warning.  To one day be leading an idyllic and carefree life then to be thrown into a maelstrom of tragedy the next is a reminder to us all just how precious life is.  Just how precarious our situations can be.  Never take anything for granted because that very thing could disappear in the blink of an eye.  Be thankful people, oh so very thankful for what you have in life because the uncertainty of the unknown lurks just beyond your periphery vision.  To have it all one minute and lose it all the next is a reminder to live today like it was your last because tonight or tomorrow may just be that - your last!

John Shors has penned a beautiful story of family, love, and the tragedy that befalls not only this family but millions of others.  A chilling reality check for us all, don't miss this one!

(Preview copy courtesy of John Shors, with thanks!)


Thursday, August 18, 2011

AN UNLIKELY SUITOR (NANCY MOSER)


Story Description:

New York dressmaker Lucy Scarpelli befriends socialite Rowena Langdon as she’s designing her summer wardrobe.  Grateful for Lucy’s skill in creating fashions that hide her physical injury, Rowena invites Lucy to the family mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, encouraging the unusual friendship.

One day Lucy encounters an intriguing man on the Cliff Walk, and love begins to blossom.  Yet Lucy resists, for what Newport man would want to marry an Italian dressmaker working to support her family?

Rowena faces an arranged marriage to a wealthy heir she doesn’t love, but dare a crippled girl hope for anything better?

And Lucy’s teenage sister, Sofia, falls for a man well above her social class-but is he willing to give up everything to marry a woman below his station?

As the lives of three young women-and their unlikely suitors-become entangled in a web of secrets and sacrifice, will the season end with any of them finding true happiness? 

My Review:

This novel takes place in New York City in the summer of 1895 during the Gilded Age.  Having emigrated from Italy, twenty-four-year-old Lucy Scarpelli, her fifteen-year-old sister, Sofia, their Uncle Aldo, Aunt Francesca and their mother Lea all lived in a tiny cramped apartment from which they were being evicted.  The Scarpelli women are all working in a sweatshop sewing for low wages.  Poor Lucy has the weight of the world on her shoulders for she is responsible for finding them a new place to live. 

Luckily, Lucy garners them an apartment above Madame Moreau’s Dressmaking Emporium and jobs working as seamstresses at the back of the shop.  When Rowena Langdon visits the shop one day Lucy can see that the young girl is disfigured and that her dresses hang horribly on her.  Lucy knows she can help Rowena by making alterations and cuts to the fabric to hide her disfigurement; but it’s not her place to speak out.  She decides to take a chance and alters one of the dresses unbeknownst to Madame Moreau or any of the other seamstresses.  Rowena is pleasantly surprised when she dons the dress for the first time and she and Lucy strike up a friendship that leads Lucy to her arrival in Newport.  Newport is a vacation home for the Langdon’s and a bevy of activity for the wealthy of New York.  Lucy needs assistance with the commissioning of dresses and ball gowns for Rowena, so she sends for her mother and younger sister to bring all the supplies along with their two pair of extra hands.  However, not all is as it seems to be and soon the Scarpelli women are caught up in a web of mystery and unexpected romance that goes completely against the boundaries of social class and nationality for that period.  You won’t believe where all this will take these women.

Nancy Moser has written a beautiful story of three women’s search for love, but it’s the “Unlikely Suitors” that they pine for.

“Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”