Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 - A Year in Review

Well 2008 has finally come to an end. And what a year it has been.

I am dividing up the year in 4 categories: Books, TV, Movies, Sports.

Books

This year I read 242 books. While it doesn't top last year's 250+, it's pretty darn close! There were some goodies and some mehs. I don't think though I had any that I had to stop reading completely. I would say overall it was a good year for books.

In no particular order, here are my top books that I read in 2008 (click for reviews)

My Hands Came Away Red by Lisa McKay
America the Beautiful by Laura Hayden
Blue Heart Blessed by Susan Meissner
She Always Wore Red by Angela Hunt
Daring Chloe by Laura Jensen Walker
The Moon in the Mango Tree by Pamela Ewen
Forsaken by James David Jordan
Sisterchicks Go Brit! By Robin Jones Gunn
Blessed are the Meddlers by Christa Ann Banister
The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner
Bon Appetit by Sandra Byrd
The Rook by Steven James
In the Shadow of the Sun King by Golden Keyes Parsons
Much Ado About Anne by Heather Vogel Frederick


It's a very eclectic mix: chick lit, suspense, historical fiction, women's fiction, YA. But that's how I like my books :)

TV

As always my favorite TV show is Lost. Bad thing first, we only got Lost for the first half of the year, the 5th season starts in Jan of next year. Good thing, the fourth season was the best season so far.

And this episode, The Constant, is the BEST Lost episode EVER. I cried. Even now when I see just this end clip, I still get weepy. Get misty eyed with me, Desmond and Penny.





And then in other TV shows, thanks to Netflix, I discovered The Office. In less than a month I watched every single episode that is currently out. I am now addicted to this show and cannot wait for the new episodes in January to start. Seriously, this is THE Funniest show that is on TV now. It has some of the best writers working (and some who act too) on a TV show right now. It doesn't rely on a laugh track to tell me when to laugh. The ensemble cast is great, you have your main stars, but everyone is a part of the action. What's best is that these are real life, could have happen to you scenes. Just thinking about the show now is making me laugh.



















If someone bought me this shirt, I would be in your debt forever. I Heart Jim! and John Krasinski is my new celebrity crush!

BTW I love Toby too. I want to be a character on the show just so I could date him and make him happy. You would understand if you are a fan of the show.

A favorite deleted scene and classic Dwight from one of this season's episodes. My new catchphrase of the year, "Just Shut Up and Be Delicious!"




Movies


Because 2008 was the year for geek movies. I mean what are the chances that you get a new Star Wars movie AND a new Indiana Jones in the same year? It's never happened before and it'll never happen again. The only thing that would have made it more complete was if Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix had come out in November as planned and the Lord of the Rings trilogy had been released in the theaters.

My top 5 favorite movies of 2008 in random order (the ones I actually paid money to see in the theater). Click on each poster for my review.






























































Sports



The 2008 Olympics in Beijing was the best thing to ever happen on TV. I'm always a HUGE Olympics fan but this was probably the best Olympics I've ever seen. First off, the Opening Ceremonies kicked off with a huge bang, and even better for me because I got to see it HDTV. Watching all the sports was great. Basketball was awesome this year because even though there were NBA players on the "Redeemed Team" they actually acted like a team, doing stuff TOGETHER. I really liked seeing the President watch the games. It's nice to see him act like a regular fan and enjoy himself for once.

But far and away the best part of the games was the swimming. Every night in prime time live, we were treated to the best entertainment and competition that has ever existed. (I say entertainment because those male swimmers are HAWT!!!!!) I would have to say right here was the best moment of the Olympics. I know that at that moment there were millions of us screaming at our TVs. You can't get any better than that (ok Michael Phelps winning by .0001 seconds a few days better might top it, but team sports are WAY better.)




Oh yeah and the biggest thing to happen to me this year....

June 6, 2008 :)

So what will 2009 bring? Definitely a wedding, more books to be read, and a Harry Potter movie. Other than that....who knows? :) See you in '09!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Book Review: "The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Decked Out" by Neta Jackson


Deck the Halls with Yada Yada

From Thanksgiving and Christmas to rolling in the New Year, the Yada Yadas are "decked out" to celebrate the holidays!

Turkey dinners, tree trimming, and decking the halls--it's that time of year again! And I, Jodi Baxter, can't wait to celebrate. My kids are coming home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and then all of us Yadas are getting decked out for a big New Year's party.

But God's idea of "decked out" might just change the nature of our party plans. A perplexing encounter with a former student, a crime that literally knocks me off my feet, a hurry-up wedding, and a child who will forever change our family...it's times like these that I really need my prayer sisters.

This holiday season, we Yada Yadas are learning that no one can out-celebrate God. So let's get this party started!

The Yada Yada Prayer Group books have been one of my favorite women's fiction series to read. They feature realistic women who handle situations just like the everyday women. This series features the most diverse cast of characters I have ever read in a Christian fiction book. There are no stereotypes at all, each culture is handled with respect and insight. I always feel like I can relate to someone in every book and this one was no exception. I was glad to see everyone reunited in this book. With such a big cast of characters its hard to give a lot of time to everyone but it was still nice to see all the women together again. Jodi is still the narrator of these books and she's the everywoman of the series. There are probably tons of readers who could totally relate with her in almost every situation in this book. But she has really matured throughout the series, both spiritually and emotionally. I will admit that in the beginning of the series she did annoy me at times but now I've grown quite fond of her. Her reactions to the holiday season and all the other events are probably how I myself would have acted. There's so many events that take place in this book therefore my only complaint was that it was shorter than the rest of the other books in the series so the story felt a little rushed at times. Luckily there is a spin off series, The Yada Yada House with the first book Where Do I Go? having been published recently. I'm so glad because it means I won't have to say goodbye to these beloved characters. I think everyone should read this series, but they must be read in sequence in order to get the full gist of the story. And I also love the cover of this one, I think these shoes are the best of the series!

The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Decked Out by Neta Jackson is published by Thomas Nelson (2007)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Only Nuns Change Habits Overnight by Karen Scalf Linamen and Book Giveaway

I'm giving away a brand new copy of today's book! Leave a comment with your email address so I can contact you if you win. I'll pick a name and announce the winner on Monday, January 5. US addresses only. Good luck!

Every woman longs for change in some area of her life. Unfortunately,
fear, fatigue, adversity, heartbreak, past failures, and even the choices of other people get in the way and make lasting change seem out of reach. Having been there herself, Karen Linamen knows exactly how to take readers from where they are to where they want to be.

In Only Nuns Change Habits Overnight, she examines 52 powerful actions readers can apply to any change they long to embrace. Her insights apply to career, finances, personal health and fitness, relationships, faith—in fact, every facet of a woman’s life.

Blending laugh-out-loud humor and sage advice, Linamen shows readers the link between dissatisfaction and transformation, how to remodel habits, the little-known truth about procrastination, how to generate the energy they need to pursue the life they desire, how to benefit from options and resources they never dreamed they had, and much, much more!

Karen Scalf Linamen is a popular speaker and the celebrated author of ten books for women, including Due to Rising Energy Costs the Light at the End of the Tunnel Has Been Turned Off and Just Hand Over the Chocolate and No One Will Get Hurt. She has been featured on more than one hundred radio programs, including FamilyLife Today. Publishers Weekly describes her as “funny, forthright and unforgettable.” Linamen lives with her family in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Visit her website at www.karenlinamen.com.

Friday, December 26, 2008

100+ Reading Challenge

FINISHED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I've decided to join a few challenges this upcoming year. I figure, I'm going to be reading these books anyways so why not?

This challenge, hosted by J. Kaye's Book Blog, is to read 100+ books during 2009. This is a great challenge for me as I have, as of today, read 238 books for 2008. So my goal, since I'm taking more classes and having a wedding this upcoming year, is to read 200 books for 2009.

I will be adding to this post as the year goes by with the books I have read.

1. The Duchess and the Dragon by Jamie Carie
2. Wagered Heart by Robin Lee Hatcher
3. The Convenient Groom by Denise Hunter
4. The Fruit of My Lipstick by Shelley Adina
5. New Horizons by Lois Gladys Leppard
6. 3 Willows by Ann Brashares
7. Tender Grace by Jackina Stark
8. Healing Stones by Nancy Rue and Stephen Arterburn
9. The Tales of Beedle the Bard by JK Rowling
10. Be Strong and Curvaceous by Shelley Adina
11. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
12. Healing Waters by Nancy Rue and Stephen Arterburn
13. Breaking Up is Hard to Do by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt
14. The Winter of Candy Canes by Debbie Viguie
15. The A-List: Hollywood Royalty by Zoey Dean
16. New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
17. The Apothecary's Daughter by Julie Klassen
18. Cry in the Night by Colleen Coble
19. Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
20. Word Gets Around by Lisa Wingate
21. Age Before Beauty by Virginia Smith
22. The Seat Beside Me by Nancy Moser
23. The Teashop Girls by Laura Schaefer
24. The Wedding Caper by Janice Thompson
25. Love Finds You in Last Chance, CA by Miralee Ferrell
26. Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Pattillo
27. Time Lottery by Nancy Moser
28. Season of Secrets by Marta Perry
29. Every Sunrise by Tricia Goyer
30. The Secret by Beverly Lewis
31. Crossroads by Nancy Moser
32. Before the Dawn by Carolyne Aarsen
33. Circle of Grace by Leslie Gould
34. The Inn at Shadow Lake by Janet Edgar
35. Homespun Harvest by Robert Elmer
36. A Patchwork Christmas by Kristin Eckhardt
37. An Abundance of Blessings by Carolyne Aarsen
38. Envy by Anna Godbersen
39. Suspicion of Guilt by Tracey Bateman
40. North of Beautiful by Justine Chen Headley
41. Missing Persons by Shirlee McCoy
42. A Journey by Chance by Sally John
43. A Vote of Confidence by Robin Lee Hatcher
44. Kiss Me If You Dare by Nicole Young
45. Taken by Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye
46. Betrayal of Trust by Tracey Bateman
47. Secrets of the Rose by Lois Richer
48. Guardian of Justice by Carol Steward
49. The Widows Club by Joyce Livingston
50. Worst Enemies/Best Friends by Annie Bryant
51. So Dark the Night by Margaret Daley
52. The Cure by Athol Dickson
53. Skinny by Laura L. Smith
54. PS I Loathe You by Lisi Harrison
55. Don't Look Back by Margaret Daley
56. Dangerous Game by Lyn Cote
57. Michal by Jill Eileen Smith
58. Vanished by Margaret Daley
59. Journey to the Well by Diana Wallis Taylor
60. Where Truth Lies by Lyn Bulock
61. Glory Be by Ron and Janet Benrey
62. Boneman's Daughters by Ted Dekker
63. I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti by Giulia Melucci
64. Dangerous Secrets by Lyn Cote
65. Valley of Shadows by Shirlee McCoy
66. A Murder Among Friends by Ramona Richards
67. Yuletide Stalker by Irene Brand
68. Comfort Food by Kate Jacobs
69. Secrets of My Hollywood Life by Jen Calonita
70. Daniel's Den by Brandt Dodson
71. Viva Vermont by Melody Carlson
72. A Claim of Her Own by Stephanie Grace Whitson
73. The Face by Angela Hunt
74. Vendetta by Roxanne Rustand
75. Stealing Home by Allison Pittman
76. A Promise to Believe In by Tracie Peterson
77. Take One by Karen Kingsbury
78. Murder at Eagle Summit by Virginia Smith
79. Bayou Justice by Robin Caroll
80. A Love to Last Forever by Tracie Peterson
81. Play It Again SAHM by Meredith Efken
82. A Silent Terror by Lynette Eason
83. From the Ashes by Sharon Mignerey
84. Cradle of Secrets by Lisa Mondello
85. Secrets of My Hollywood Life On Location by Jen Calonita
86. Family Affairs by Jen Calonita
87. The Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand
88. Higher Hope by Robert Whitlow
89. Cloth of Heaven by BJ Hoff
90. Nothing But Trouble by Susan May Warren
91. Mating Rituals of the North American Wasp by Lauren Lipton
92. Ashes and Lace by BJ Hoff
93. The Edge of Light by Ann Shorey
94. Sisterchicks in Wooden Shoes by Robin Jones Gunn
95. A Christmas to Die For by Marta Perry
96. MIA: Missing in Atlanta by Debby Guisti
97. Girl Stays in the Picture by Melissa de la Cruz
98. Lakeview Protector by Shirlee McCoy
99. Hidden Motive by Hannah Alexander
100. Bayou Judgment by Robin Caroll
101. To Trust a Friend by Lynn Bulock
102. Stranger in the Shadows by Shirlee McCoy
103. Hidden in the Wall by Valerie Hansen
104. The Pride of Redemption by Pamela Tracy
105. The Host by Stephenie Meyer
106. In His Sights by Carol Steward
107. The Way Home by George Pelecanos
108. Final Justice by Marta Perry
109. Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
110. The Bunko Babes by Leah Starr Baker
111. Sleepaway Girls by Jen Calonita
112. Who Made You a Princess? by Shelley Adina
113. Take a Chance on Me by Cecily Von Ziegesar
114. Secrets of Happiness by Sarah Dunn
115. Paparazzi Princess by Jen Calonita
116. Bad News/Good News by Annie Bryant
117. Poseur by Rachel Maude
118. Admission by Jean Hanff Korelitz
119. Letters from the Heart by Annie Bryant
120. Love's Pursuit by Siri Mitchell
121. Turning the Paige by Terri Reed
122. Snow Melts in Spring by Deborah Vogts
123. Access Denied (and other eighth grade error messages) by Denise Vega
124. Diva Without a Cause by Grace Dent
125. Enduring Love by Bonnie Leon
126. Looks to Die For by Janice Kaplan
127. Final Deposit by Lisa Harris
128. The Rivers Run Dry by Sibella Giorello
129. The Ashleys by Melissa De La Cruz
130. How to Be Single by Liz Tuccillo
131. Bayou Paradox by Robin Caroll
132. Pursued by Jerry Jenkins and Tim Lahaye
133. After All These Years by Sally John
134. Jealous? by Melissa de La Cruz
135. Lip Gloss Jungle by Melissa De La Cruz
136. Hidden by Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye
137. Invasion of the Widows Club by Joyce Livingston
138. Shield of Refuge by Carol Steward
139. Faking Grace by Tamara Leigh
140. Hollywood is Like High School With Money by Zoey Dean
141. Sunset Beach by Trish Perry
142. The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorne by Liz Johnson
143. The Someday List by Stacy Hawkins Adams
144. Every Now and Then by Karen Kingsbury
145. Adored by Cecily Von Ziegesar
146. The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs
147. The Justice Game by Randy Singer
148. Her Only Protector by Lisa Mondello
149. Worth a Thousand Words by Stacy Hawkins Adams
150. The Good Neighbor by Sharon Mignerey
151. Double Cross by Terri Reed
152. Bayou Betrayal by Robin Caroll
153. Rescued by Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye
154. Waiting for Summer's Return by Kim Vogel Sawyer
155. The Nannies by Melody Mayer
156. Conspiracy in Kiev by Noel Hynd
157. Friends with Benefits by Melody Mayer
158. Midnight in Madrid by Noel Hynd
159. Have to Have It by Melody Mayer
160. Where the Heart Leads by Kim Vogel Sawyer
161. Ghostwriter by Travis Thrasher
162. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
163. Tour de Force by Elizabeth White
164. The Boy Next Door by Meg Cabot
165. Face of Betrayal by Lis Wiehl and April Henry
166. Badge of Honor by Carol Steward
167. Almost Alice by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
168. Tainted Love by Melody Mayer
169. Intensely Alice by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
170. How Do I Love Thee? by Nancy Moser
171. The Jewel of Gresham Green by Lawana Blackwell
172. Bass Ackwards and Belly Up by Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fain
173. Private by Kate Brian
174. Any Minute by Joyce Meyer and Deborah Bedford
175. All Night Long by Melody Mayer
176. You Make Me Feel Like Dancing by Allison Bottke
177. Out of Bounds by Annie Bryant
178. Essie in Progress by Marjorie Presten
179. Talent by Zoey Dean
180. Almost Famous by Zoey Dean
181. It's A Green Thing by Melody Carlson
182. Star Power by Zoey Dean
183. Seeing Things by Patti Hill
184. Home Another Way by Christa Parrish
185. Footfree and Fancyloose by Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fain
186. Dawn of a New Day by Gilbert Morris
187. Deadly Intent by Camy Tang
188. Wintergirls by Laura Halse Anderson
189. Divine by Karen Kingsbury
190. Julie and Julia by Julie Powell
191. The Longing by Beverly Lewis
192. Take Two by Karen Kingsbury
193. Balancing Act by Kimberly Stuart
194. Stung by Jerry Jenkins and Tim Lahaye
195. Just Another Girl by Melody Carlson
196. Storm Clouds by Cheryl Wolverton
197. Shadow Bones by Colleen Rhoads
198. On This Day by Melody Carlson
199. Frantic by Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye
200. Magdalene by Angela Hunt
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
201. Her Brother's Keeper by Valerie Hansen
202. Yuletide Peril by Irene Brand
203. Sometimes a Light Surprises by Jamie Langston Turner
204. Boys R Us by Lisi Harrison
205. Nothing But Ghosts by Beth Kephart
206. A Mile In My Flip Flops by Melody Carlson
207. When Silence Falls by Shirlee McCoy
208. Strictly Confidential by Terri Reed
209. Under Suspicion by Hannah Alexander
210. Out of the Depths by Valerie Hansen
211. Heart of the Amazon by Margaret Daley
212. Fatal Image by Lenora Worth
213. Bad to the Bone by Melody Mayer
214. Truth or Dare by Nicole O'Dell
215. Damas, Dramas and Ana Ruiz by Belinda Costa
216. All that Glitters by Nicole O'Dell
217. Boy Meets Girl by Meg Cabot
218. Every Boy's Got One by Meg Cabot
219. Invitation Only by Kate Brian
220. Calm, Cool and Adjusted by Kristin Billerbeck
221. Untouchable by Kate Brian
222. The Believer by Ann Gabhart
223. Confessions by Kate Brian
224. Island Girl by Sandra Byrd
225. Knit Two by Kate Jacobs
226. With This Ring, I'm Confused by Kristin Billerbeck
227. Chopstick by Sandra Byrd
228. The Good, the Fab, and the Ugly by Rachel Maude
229. The Knight by Steven James
230. Red Velvet by Sandra Byrd
231. The Ultimatum by Nancy Moser
232. Inner Circle by Kate Brian
233. Savannah by the Sea by Denise Hildreth
234. The Promise of Spring by Leslie Gould
235. April's Hope by Robert Elmer
236. Seeds of Faith by Kristin Eckhardt
237. Queen of Babble by Meg Cabot
238. Daisy Chains by Sandra Byrd
239. On the Right Path by Diann Hunt
240. Queen of Babble in the Big City by Meg Cabot
241. Legacy by Kate Brian
242. Sunflower Serenade by Tricia Goyer
243. Perfect Fifths by Megan McCafferty
244. The Fragrance of Roses by Nikki Arana
245. Queen of Babble Gets Hitched by Meg Cabot
246. The Spring of Candy Apples by Debbie Viguie
247. Beautiful Disaster by Kate Brian
248. Lost in Las Vegas by Melody Carlson
249. Gideon's Gift by Karen Kingsbury
250. Brittan by Debra White Smith
251. Maggie's Miracle by Karen Kingsbury
252. Sarah's Song by Karen Kingsbury
253. Hannah's Hope by Karen Kingsbury
254. New York Debut by Melody Carlson
255. A Man for Temperance by Gilbert Morris
256. Sunset by Karen Kingsbury
257. Size 12 is Not Fat by Meg Cabot
258. Joelle's Secret by Gilbert Morris
259. She's In a Better Place by Angela Hunt
260. Rebecca's Reward by Lauraine Snelling
261. Size 14 is Not Fat Either by Meg Cabot
262. Ambition by Kate Brian
263. Angel Train by Gilbert Morris
264. Back Home Again by Melody Carlson
265. Revelation by Kate Brian
266. Dawn's Light by Terri Blackstock
267. Big Boned by Meg Cabot
268. The Big Picture by Jenny B. Jones
269. Waiting for Morning by Karen Kingsbury
270. Katt's in the Cradle by Ginger Kolbaba & Christy Scannell
271. A Surrendered Heart by Tracie Peterson and Judith Miller
272. All-American Girl by Meg Cabot
273. Yesterday's Embers by Deborah Raney
274. Ready or Not by Meg Cabot
275. The Root of All Evil by Brandt Dodson
276. A Moment of Weakness by Karen Kingsbury
277. The Lost Sheep by Brandt Dodson
278. A Conspiracy of Ravens by Gilbert Morris
279. When Lightning Strikes by Meg Cabot
280. A Dream to Call My Own by Tracie Peterson
281. Sonnet to a Dead Contessa by Gilbert Morris
282. Coming Attractions by Robin Jones Gunn
283. Airhead by Meg Cabot
284. Piece de Resistance by Sandra Byrd
285. A Steal of a Deal by Ginny Aiken
286. Forgiven by Shelley Shepard Gray
287. A Cut Above by Ginny Aiken
288. Freedom of the Soul by Tracey Bateman
289. Shadowland by Meg Cabot
290. Tidings of Great Boys by Shelley Adina
291. Halfway to Forever by Karen Kingsbury
292. Paradise Lost by Kate Brian
293. Always Green by Patti Hill
294. Deadly Charm by Claudia Mair Burney
295. The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
296. Princess in the Spotlight by Meg Cabot
297. Three Times Blessed by Lori Copeland
298. Lonestar Secrets by Colleen Coble
299. Coral Moon by Brandilyn Collins
300. Princess in Love by Meg Cabot

2009 Support your Local Library Reading Challenge

FINISHED!!!!!!!!!!!

I've decided to join a few challenges this upcoming year. I figure, I'm going to be reading these books anyways so why not?

This challenge, hosted by J. Kaye's Book Blog, is reading to support your local library. And we all know what a HUGE fan of the library I am. Who needs a bookstore when you can get books for free from the library?

You can chose from three options:

** The first is to read 12 books from your local library in 2009.
** The second is to read 25 books from your local library in 2009.
** The third is to read 50 books from your local library in 2009

I'm going to go for the max and say that I challenge myself to read 50 books from the library in 2009. I have a feeling this challenge might be fulfilled by June, if I'm lucky lol.

I will be adding to this post as the year goes by with the books I have read.

1. The Duchess and the Dragon by Jamie Carie
2. Wagered Heart by Robin Lee Hatcher
3. The Convenient Groom by Denise Hunter
4. New Horizons by Lois Gladys Leppard
5. The Tales of Beedle the Bard by JK Rowling
6. New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
7. Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
8. The Seat Beside Me by Nancy Moser
9. The First Four Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder (BOCD)
10. The Wedding Caper by Janice Thompson
11. Time Lottery by Nancy Moser
12. Season of Secrets by Marta Perry
13. Crossroads by Nancy Moser
14. The Inn at Shadow Lake by Janet Edgar
15. Envy by Anna Godbersen
16. Suspicion of Guilt by Tracey Bateman
17. Missing Persons by Shirlee McCoy
18. A Journey by Chance by Sally John
19. Taken by Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye
20. Betrayal of Trust by Tracey Bateman
21. Anne of Avonlea by LM Montgomery (BOT)
22. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (BOCD)
23. Secrets of the Rose by Lois Richer
24. Guardian of Justice by Carol Steward
25. The Widows Club by Joyce Livingston
26. Worst Enemies/Best Friends by Annie Bryant
27. So Dark the Night by Margaret Daley
28. PS I Loathe You by Lisi Harrison
29. Don't Look Back by Margaret Daley
30. Dangerous Game by Lyn Cote
31. Vanished by Margaret Daley
32. Where Truth Lies by Lyn Bulock
33. Anne of the Island by LM Montgomery (BOT)
34. Glory Be by Ron and Janet Benrey
35. Dangerous Secrets by Lyn Cote
36. Valley of Shadows by Shirlee McCoy
37. A Murder Among Friends by Ramona Richards
38. Yuletide Stalker by Irene Brand
39. Secrets of My Hollywood Life by Jen Calonita
40. Viva Vermont by Melody Carlson
41. Vendetta by Roxanne Rustand
42. Take One by Karen Kingsbury
43. Bayou Justice by Robin Caroll
44. From the Ashes by Sharon Mignerey
45. Cradle of Secrets by Lisa Mondello
46. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (BOCD)
47. Cloth of Heaven by BJ Hoff
48. Ashes and Lace by BJ Hoff
49. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (BOT)
50. A Christmas to Die For by Marta Perry

Book Review: "Kiss" by Ted Dekker and Erin Healy


A Dekker novel women will enjoy

Shauna McCallister has woken up from a coma with no memory of how she got there. The last six months have been erased from her mind. Friends and family say that she was in a car accident that left her brother severely brain damaged and that she had been hoarding drugs in her apartment. Her father is running for President and cannot deal with any scandal tainting his name. Therefore her stepmother wants Shauna having nothing to do with them during the campaign blaming her for everything. However things aren't beginning to add up and soon Shauna starts being suspicious. Then she discovers that she's gained a power that could solve the mystery behind her past.

Every Ted Dekker book is an adventure to read and this one is no exception. This book is so unlike most of Dekker's other novels. I would say this falls more along the suspense/romance like Blink of an Eye. There's a great female lead and the plot is very well written and draws the reader in immediately.
The story starts off a little slow but it mirrors exactly what Shauna herself is going through. All the details are hazy as both the reader and Shauna tries to figure out what has happened to her. I think Shauna's new "power" after accident was portrayed very well. It would be an interesting development in the world if it every truly happened. There are characters in this book that you just want to slap in the face. Evil stepmothers still strike fear in people especially when political is at stake. I really feel sad to read stories where the father is blind to his new wife's abuse of his own children. There's talk about underlying issues about corrupt politics and human trafficking that are background topics in the book. However they do bring to light attention to these issues which are very important. While this book has Christian authors, one could say this isn't really a Christian novel. I didn't find it preachy at all and there's no unrealistic conversion scenes. It would be a great book to pass along to fans of the romantic suspense genre and it opens up doors for more female readers to become fans of Dekker. Ted Dekker is one of my favorite authors so I had no doubt this book would be great. Erin Healy shows great promise as a new writer. I will be looking forward to their next joint offering in the future.

Kiss by Ted Dekker and Erin Healy is published by Thomas Nelson (2009)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Book Review: "Engaging Father Christmas" by Robin Jones Gunn



An Old Fashioned English Christmas

Miranda Carson has returned to England for another Christmas. This time she has someone to return to with her boyfriend Ian. Also she's hoping to reconnect again with her newly discovered family and praying that she will be accepted at last. She's worried most about the matriarch of the family, Margaret because she knows that her very presence will hurt her. Meanwhile Ian's father suffers a heart attack which puts worry that the traditional Christmas play will not be able to be performed as planned. Will someone else be able to fill Father Christmas' shoes?


Are you lover of Christmas, an Anglophile and happen to be a Robin Jones Gunn fan as well? Well this book is perfect for you then. If you've always wanted to experience a British Christmas but funds are tight, this is the next best thing. I could totally picture myself in England, driving in the small town, seeing the play and having tea. The details in the descriptions are one of Robin's trademarks, to actually have the reader feel like they are experiencing the story. I think the British Father Christmas is so more regal than our Santa Claus. I loved the selflessness of Mark and Julia and the hospital kids. You can't learn more about the true meaning of Christmas than that! Learning more about Miranda's story was wonderful. I'm glad that we find out more about her new family and their steps to accepting her. Reading the first book in the series, Finding Father Christmas, is a must because it goes into detail more of the storyline about Miranda's past. The first book is short and sweet just like this one so it's possible to finish both books in one day. You are guaranteed to get into Christmas spirit after reading these no matter what time of the year. I really hope there will be at least one more book in the series. It's just simply delightful.


Engaging Father Christmas by Robin Jones Gunn is published by Faithwords (2008)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Book Review: "It's Not About Me" by Michelle Sutton


Lots of Kissing for a Good Cause

Annie is dating Tony. They've been dating for a while and he's begun to put pressure on her. Pressure that she doesn't know how long she'll be able to hold off. Then there's Dan, Tony's older brother who's everything he's not. Secretly Dan's always admired Annie for a far but hasn't said anything. Then a horrific incident happens that will change the three lives forever. Annie starts to see both Tony and Dan in different lights. Tempers begin to flare. Rumors being to spread. Hearts get broken. It's become a fight with brother vs. brother. Who will Annie choose?

Lots of smooching! That was my first thought when I read this book. This book has more kissing in it than half my Christian fiction collection! However it's kissing that pertains to the story which I got drawn in very quickly. This is a fast easy read but it leaves a major imprint on you that you will think about for days to come. I could relate with Annie throughout the book, it sounded quite a bit like my reckless teen days. I think a lot of girls could place herself in Annie's shoes. This book shows that even Christian girls go through the exact same temptations as everyone else even if they don't want to admit it. While the book is very edgy for a Christian fiction novel, it didn't blow my socks off. I think the problem was because I had just read an It Girl book right before and this book was practically tame compared to this one. Which is good, as Christian fiction should include all that sordid stuff, lol. I would recommend this book for older teens because of the kissing and "other things" in this book. Nothing graphic but not something you would want a tween to see. And that's the wonderful part of the book, that it's a Christian fiction novel that you want to hide from young kids! Who would ever think you could say that about the genre?

There was one thing about the book that I would change though. I felt that something things in the book seemed outdated. For example, one of the character's name was Susie. Maybe it's just me, but I don't know any 19 year olds named Susie. It's a very old fashioned name that I think most teens would avoid using if that was their given name. Also Tony had magazines of distasteful nature in his room. I think, though, in this age of technology, most teen boys would have used the internet to access that material. It's easier to access and there is a sense of anonymity. To get a magazine means someone would have to go out and buy it and show their face. Also he drink a lot of whiskey. Again most teens would just resort to drinking beer because it's cheaper and is easier to access. I'm not supporting any of these activities at all, I just felt that these incidents seemed dated in a story involving teenagers.

That being said though, I really did enjoy this story. These topics are ones that tend to stay on the back burner and are only hinted at in most Christian fiction. It's a great book to give to mature teens who are ready for the subject matter, and also for college students as well. I enjoyed reading this and I think that Michelle has written an excellent debut novel. I'll be looking forward to the next book in the series!

It's Not About Me by Michelle Sutton is published by Sheaf House (2008)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Before the Season Ends by Linore Rose Burkard and Book Giveaway!

~~~~~~~~~~~~Contest closed~~~~~~~~~~~~

I'm giving away a brand new copy of today's book! Leave a comment with your email address so I can contact you if you win. I'll pick a name and announce the winner on Monday, December 29. US and Canada addresses only. Good luck!



It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!





Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Before the Season Ends

Harvest House Publishers (December 1, 2008)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Linore Rose Burkard lives with her husband, five children, and ninety-year-old grandmother in southeastern Ohio. She homeschooled her children for ten years. Raised in New York, she graduated magna cum laude from the City University of New York (Queens College) with a Bachelor of Arts in English literature. Ms. Burkard wrote Before the Season Ends because she could not find a book like it anywhere. "There are Christian books that approach this genre," she says, "but they fall short of being a genuine Regency. I finally gave up looking and wrote the book myself." She has begun four other works of fiction in the category.

Visit the author's website.


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Chesterton, Hertfordshire

England

1813

Something would have to be done about Ariana.

All winter Miss Ariana Forsythe, aged nineteen, had been going about the house sighing.

“Mr. Hathaway is my lot in life!”

She spoke as though the prospect of that life was a great burden to bear, but one which she had properly reconciled herself to. When her declarations met with exasperation or reproach from her family—for no one else was convinced Mr. Hathaway, the rector, was her lot—she usually responded in a perplexed manner. Hadn't they understood for an age that her calling was to wed a man of the cloth? Was there another man of God, other than their rector, available to her? No. It only stood to reason, therefore, that Mr. Hathaway was her lot in life. Their cold reception to the thought of the marriage was unfathomable.

When she was seventeen, (a perfectly respectable marrying age) she had romantic hopes about a young and brilliant assistant to the rector, one Mr. Stresham. It was shortly after meeting him, in fact, that she had formed the opinion the Almighty was calling her to marry a man of God. Mr. Stresham even had the approval of her parents. But the man took a situation in another parish without asking Ariana to accompany him as his wife. She was disappointed, but not one to give up easily, continued to speak of “the calling,” waiting in hope for another Mr. Stresham of sorts. But no man came. And now she had reached the conclusion that Mr. Hathaway--Mr. Hathaway, the rector, (approaching the age of sixty!) would have to do.

Her parents, Charles and Julia Forsythe, were sitting in their comfortably furnished morning room, Julia with a cup of tea before her, and Charles with his newspaper. A steady warmth was emanating from the hearth.

“What shall we do about Ariana?” Mrs. Forsythe, being an observant mama, had been growing in her conviction that the situation called for some action.

“What do you suggest, my dear?” Her husband reluctantly folded his paper; he knew his wife wanted a discussion of the matter and that he would get precious little reading done until she had got it.

She held up a folded piece of foolscap: the annual letter from Agatha Bentley, Charles’s sister, asking for Alberta, the eldest Forsythe daughter, for the season in London. It had arrived the day before.

Aunt Bentley was a childless wealthy widow and a hopeless socialite. For the past three years she had written annually to tell her brother and his wife why they ought to let her sponsor their eldest daughter for a London season. She owned a house in Mayfair (could anything be more respectable than that?) and knew a great deal of the big-wigs in society. She had, in fact, that most important of commodities which the Forsythes completely lacked: connexions. And as Charles’s family were her only living relatives, she was prepared--even anxious--to serve as chaperon for her niece.

Much to the lady's frustration, Julia and Charles had annually extinguished her hopes, replying to her letters graciously but with the inevitable, “We cannot countenance a separation from our child at this time,” and so on. Charles was unflinching on this point, never doubting his girls would reap a greater benefit by remaining beneath his own roof. They knew full well, moreover, that Aunt Agatha could not hope, with all her money and connexions to find as suitable a husband for their offspring as was possible right in Chesterton.

Why not? For the profound reason that Aunt Bentley had no religion whatsoever.

And yet, due to the distressing state of affairs with Ariana, Julia wished to consider her latest offer. With the letter waving in her hand she said, “I think we ought to oblige your sister this year. She must be lonely, poor thing, and besides removing Ariana from the parish, a visit to the city could prove beneficial for her education.”

Ariana’s father silently considered the matter. His eldest daughter Alberta was as good as wed, having recently accepted an offer of marriage--to no one’s surprise--from John Norledge. Ariana, his second eldest, had been irksome in regard to the rector, but to pack her off to London? Surely the situation was not so dire as to warrant such a move.

“I think there is nothing else for it,” Mrs. Forsythe said emphatically. “Ariana is determined about Mr. Hathaway and, even though we can forbid her to speak to the man, she will pine and sigh and like as not drive me to distraction!”

Taking a pipe out of his waistcoat pocket (though he never smoked), Mr. Forsythe absently rubbed the polished wood in his fingers.

“I recall other fanciful notions of our daughter’s,” he said finally, “and they slipped away in time. Recall, if you will, when she was above certain her destiny was to be a missionary--to America. That desire faded. She fancies this, she fancies that; soon she will fancy another thing entirely, and we shan’t hear another word about the ‘wonderful rector’ again.”

Mrs. Forsythe’s countenance, still attractive in her forties, became fretful.

“I grant that she has had strong…affections before. But this time, my dear, it is a complicated affection for in this case it is the heart of the ah, affected, which we must consider. It has ideas of its own.”

“Of its own?”

Mrs. Forsythe looked about the room to be certain no one else had entered. The servants were so practiced at coming and going quietly, their presence might not be marked. But no, there was only the two of them. She lowered her voice anyway.

“The rector! I do not think he intends to lose her! What could delight him more than a young, healthy wife who might fill his table with offspring?”

Mr. Forsythe shook his head.”Our rector is not the man to think only of himself; he must agree with us on the obvious unsuitability of the match.”

The rector was Thaddeus Admonicus Hathaway, of the Church in the Village Square. Mr. Hathaway was a good man. His sermons were grounded in sound religion, which meant they were based on orthodox Christian teaching. He was clever, and a popular dinner guest of the gentry, including the Forsythes. If these had not been true of him, Mr. Forsythe might have been as concerned as his wife. Knowing Mr. Hathaway, however, Charles Forsythe did not think a drastic action such as sending his daughter to the bustling metropolis of London, was necessary.

Mrs. Forsythe chose not to argue with her spouse. She would simply commit the matter to prayer. If the Almighty decided that Ariana must be removed to Agatha’s house, then He would make it clear to her husband. In her years of marriage she had discovered that God was the Great Communicator, and she had no right to try and usurp that power. Her part was to pray, sincerely and earnestly.

Mr. Forsythe gave his judgment: “I fear that rather than exerting a godly influence upon her aunt, Ariana would be drawn astray by the ungodliness of London society.”

“Do you doubt her so much, Charles? This infatuation with Mr. Hathaway merely results from her youth, her admiration for his superior learning, and especially,” she said, leaning forward and giving him a meaningful look, “for lack of a young man who has your approval! Have you not frowned upon every male who has approached her in the past? Why, Mr. Hathaway is the first whom you have failed to frighten off and only because he is our rector! 'Tis little wonder a young girl takes a fanciful notion into her head!”

When he made no answer, she added, while adjusting the frilly morning cap on her head, “Mr. Hathaway causes me concern!”

Mr. Forsythe’s countenance was sober. “’Tis my sister who warrants the concern. She will wish to make a match for our daughter--and she will not be content with just any mister I assure you. In addition to which, a girl as pretty as our daughter will undoubtedly attract attention of the wrong sort.”

Julia was flustered for a second, but countered, “Agatha is no threat to our child. We shall say we are sending Ariana to see the sights, take in the museums and so forth. Surely there is no harm in that. A dinner party here or there should not be of concern. And Ariana is too intelligent to allow herself to be foisted upon an unsuitable man for a fortune or title.”

Too intelligent? He thought of the aging minister that no one had had to “foist” her upon. Aloud he merely said, “I shall speak with her tonight. She shall be brought to reason, depend upon it. There will be no need to pack her off to London.”

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Sword and the Flute by Mike Hamel


It's the 21st, time for the Teen FIRST blog tour! This is the very last Teen FIRST tour as Teen FIRST has merged with FIRST Wild Card Tours. If you wish to learn more about FIRST Wild Card, please go HERE.




and his book:



Amg Publishers (January 22, 2007)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Mike Hamel is a seasoned storyteller who has honed his skill over theyears by telling tall tales to his four children. He is the author of several non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles.

Mike and his wife, Susan, live in Colorado Springs, CO. Their four children are now grown and their two grand children will soon be old enough for stories of their own.

From His Blog's About Me:

I am a professional writer with sixteen books to my credit, including a trilogy of titles dealing with faith and business: The Entrepreneur’s Creed (Broadman, 2001), Executive Influence (NavPress, 2003), and Giving Back (NavPress, 2003). I also edited Serving Two Masters: Reflections on God and Profit, by Bill Pollard (Collins, 2006).


My most enjoyable project to date has been an eight-volume juvenile fiction series called Matterhorn the Brave. It’s based on variegated yarns I used to spin for my four children. They are now grown and my two grandchildren will soon be old enough for stories of their own.

I live in Colorado Springs, Colorado with my bride of 34 years, Susan.

As you read this blog, remember that I’m a professional. Don’t try this level of writing at home. You might suffer a dangling participle or accidentally split an infinitive and the grammarians will be all over you like shoe salesmen on a centipede.

BTW – I have been diagnosed with Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma, an aggressive but treatable form of cancer.


Mike's Blog, Cells Behaving Badly, is an online diary about Wrestling with Lymphoma Cancer.

To order a signed edition of any of the 6 Matterhorn the Brave books, please visit the Matterhorn the Brave Website!


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Emerald Isle


Aaron the Baron hit the ground like a paratrooper, bending his knees, keeping his balance.

Matterhorn landed like a 210-pound sack of dirt.

His stomach arrived a few seconds later.

He straightened his six-foot-four frame into a sitting position. In the noonday sun he saw they were near the edge of a sloping meadow. The velvet grass was dotted with purple and yellow flowers. Azaleas bloomed in rainbows around the green expanse. The black-faced sheep mowing the far end of the field paid no attention to the new arrivals.

“Are you okay?” the Baron asked. He looked as if he’d just stepped out of a Marines’ recruiting poster. “We’ll have to work on your landing technique.”

“How about warning me when we’re going somewhere,” Matterhorn grumbled.

The Baron helped him up and checked his pack to make sure nothing was damaged. He scanned the landscape in all directions from beneath the brim of his red corduroy baseball cap. “It makes no difference which way we go,” he said at last. “The horses will find us.”

“What horses?”

“The horses that will take us to the one we came to see,” the Baron answered.

“Are you always this vague or do you just not know what you’re doing?”

“I don’t know much, but I suspect this is somebody’s field. We don’t want to be caught trespassing. Let’s go.”

They left the meadow, walking single file through the tall azaleas up a narrow valley. Thorny bushes with loud yellow blossoms crowded the trail next to a clear brook. Pushing one of the prickly plants away, Matterhorn asked, “Do you know what these are?”

“Gorse, of course,” the Baron said without turning.

“Never heard of it.”

“Then I guess you haven’t been to Ireland before.”

“Ireland,” Matterhorn repeated. “My great-grandfather came from Ireland.”

“Your great-grandfather won’t be born for centuries yet.”

Matterhorn stepped over a tangle of exposed roots and said, “What do you mean?”

“I mean we’re in medieval Ireland, not modern Ireland.”

“How can that be!” Matterhorn cried, stopping in his tracks. “How can I be alive before my great-grandfather?”

The Baron shrugged. “That’s one of the paradoxes of time travel. No one’s been able to figure them all out. You’re welcome to try, but while you’re at it, keep a lookout for the horses.”

Matterhorn soon gave up on paradoxes and became absorbed in the paradise around him. The colors were so alive they hurt his eyes. He wished for a pair of sunglasses. Above the garish gorse he saw broom bushes and pine trees growing to the ridge where spectacular golden oaks crowned the slopes. Birdsongs whistled from their massive branches into the warm air. Small animals whispered in the underbrush while larger game watched the strangers from a distance.

The country flattened out and, at times, they glimpsed stone houses over the tops of hedgerows. They steered clear of these and any other signs of civilization. In a few hours, they reached the spring that fed the brook they had been following. They stopped to rest and wash up.

That’s where the horses found them.

There were five strikingly handsome animals. The leader of the pack was from ancient and noble stock. He stood a proud seventeen hands high—five-foot-eight-inches—at the shoulders. He had a classic Roman face with a white star on his wide forehead that matched the white socks on his forelegs. His straight back, sturdy body, and broad hindquarters suggested both power and speed. A rich coppery mane and tail complemented his sleek, chestnut coat.

The Baron held out an apple to the magnificent animal, but the horse showed no interest in the fruit or the man. Neither did the second horse. The third, a dappled stallion, took the apple and let the Baron pet his nose.

“These horses are free,” the Baron said as he stroked the stallion’s neck. “They choose their riders, which is as it should be. Grab an apple and find your mount.”

While Matterhorn searched for some fruit, the leader sauntered over and tried to stick his big nose into Matterhorn’s pack. When Matterhorn produced an apple, the horse pushed it aside and kept sniffing.

Did he want carrots, Matterhorn wondered? How about the peanut butter sandwich? Not until he produced a pocket-size Snickers bar did the horse whinny and nod his approval.

The Baron chuckled as Matterhorn peeled the bar and watched it disappear in a loud slurp. “That one’s got a sweet tooth,” he said.

The three other horses wandered off while the Baron and Matterhorn figured out how to secure their packs to the two that remained. “I take it we’re riding without saddles or bridles,” Matterhorn said. This made him nervous, as he had been on horseback only once before.

“Bridles aren’t necessary,” Aaron the Baron explained. “Just hold on to his mane and stay centered.” He boosted Matterhorn onto his mount. “The horses have been sent for us. They’ll make sure we get where we need to go.”

As they set off, Matterhorn grabbed two handfuls of long mane from the crest of the horse’s neck. He relaxed when he realized the horse was carrying him as carefully as if a carton of eggs was balanced on his back. Sitting upright, he patted the animal’s neck. “Hey, Baron; check out this birthmark.” He rubbed a dark knot of tufted hair on the chestnut’s right shoulder. “It looks like a piece of broccoli. I’m going to call him Broc.”

“Call him what you want,” the Baron said, “but you can’t name him. The Maker gives the animals their names. A name is like a label; it tells you what’s on the inside. Only the Maker knows that.”

Much later, and miles farther into the gentle hills, they made camp in a lea near a tangle of beech trees. “You get some wood,” Aaron the Baron said, “while I make a fire pit.” He loosened a piece of hollow tubing from the side of his pack and gave it a sharp twirl. Two flanges unrolled outward and clicked into place to form the blade of a short spade. Next, he pulled off the top section and stuck it back on at a ninety-degree angle to make a handle.

Matterhorn whistled. “Cool!”

“Cool is what we’ll be if you don’t get going.”

Matterhorn hurried into the forest. He was thankful to be alone for the first time since becoming an adult, something that happened in an instant earlier that day. Seizing a branch, he did a dozen chin-ups; then dropped and did fifty push-ups and a hundred sit-ups.

Afterward he rested against a tree trunk and encircled his right thigh with both hands. His fingertips didn’t touch. Reaching farther down, he squeezed a rock-hard calf muscle.

All this bulk was new to him, yet it didn’t feel strange. This was his body, grown up and fully developed. Flesh of his flesh; bone of his bone. Even hair of his hair, he thought, as he combed his fingers through the thick red ponytail.

He took the Sword hilt from his hip. The diamond blade extended and caught the late afternoon sun in a dazzling flash. This mysterious weapon was the reason he was looking for firewood in an Irish forest instead of sitting in the library at David R. Sanford Middle School.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Book Review: "Much Ado About Anne" by Heather Vogel Frederick


*Although the books I review on my blog are almost always Christian fiction, there will be a few spotlighted regular fiction titles I will review from time to time.*

This year the mothers have a big surprise in store for Emma, Jess, Cassidy, and Megan: They've invited snooty Becca Chadwick and her mother to join the book club!

But there are bigger problems when Jess finds out that her family may have to give up Half Moon Farm. In a year filled with skating parties, a disastrous mother-daughter camping trip, and a high-stakes fashion show, the girls realize that it's only through working together—Becca included—that they can save Half Moon Farm.

Acclaimed author Heather Vogel Frederick captures the magic of friendship and the scrapes along the way in this sequel to The Mother-Daughter Book Club, which will enchant daughters and mothers alike.

This was one of the most refreshing teen books that I have read this year. I'm totally not the target age of this book, but I so enjoyed reading it. I wish that I had this group when I was growing up. I don't know exactly how well my mother and I would have fit in, but the idea that 4 best friends and their moms can spend quality time together like this is priceless. It's a wonderful reminder that mothers still love their daughters and can still be close and share interests with them. Instead of rebelling, the girls do like spending time with their moms. Yes, they do get embarrassed by them and there are times when they wish they had someone else for their mom. However instead of badmouthing them or being outright defiant, they accept their mothers for who they are.

They also picked one of my favorite books ever. In fact I'm listening to it right now on CD in my car. Anne of Green Gables is a favorite among girls of all ages and it's perfect for the target age of this book. The added notes and trivia about LM Montgomery were very insightful and I learned things about her that I never knew before. I also think it was great to see how everyday occurrences in our time can be totally related to events in Anne's world.

These girls are the same age as the characters in The Clique series, but the MDBC girls actually ACT like their age. Yes there are some girls who are interested in fashion but they are not label obsessed. It's ok to be a bookworm, animal lover or tomboy in this book. It celebrates growing up and being a girl, and not glorifying materials things. They are very resourceful and very creative. The idea for the fashion show is wonderful, although they were lucky to have celebrity connections for it to turn out so well.

I like how the book is setup. It's split into four seasons and each character gets her own chapter with her own POV. To me, I didn't find it confusing at all. Each girl is different, and it was great to see things from each perspective. I also love the references to Jane Austen from Emma's family. I do hope by the next book they'll be deemed old enough by Mrs Chadwick to read one of her works!

Now I want to do two things. First I want to go back and reread all the Anne of Green Gables book (which if you haven't already, I highly recommend that you do). Second, is I want to find the first book in this series and read it. I cannot wait til the next adventure of the Mother Daughter Book Club and see what literary adventure they pick next.

This is a wholesome and enjoying read perfect for tweens and teens. Therefore this book I CAN recommend to the readers of this blog.

Much Ado About Anne
by Heather Vogel Frederick is published by Simon and Schuster Children (2008)

Fall Reading Challenge Wrap Up

Well all good things must come to an end. And the Fall Reading Challenge is now over. How'd I do? Well I read all the books (18) on my list PLUS 31 more for a grand total of 49 books in 3 months!!!!!

Here's the list of the books I read for the challenge.

Here's a breakdown of the OTHER books that I read



Christian Fiction
  • Waiting for Daybreak by Kathryn Cushman
  • Rally 'Round the Flag by Jane Orcutt
  • Spring is in the Air by Jane Orcutt
  • The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner
  • The Spirit of the Season by Dana Corbit
  • Bon Appetit by Sandra Byrd
  • The Pawn by Stephen James
  • The Rook by Stephen James
  • Out of Her Hands by Megan DiMaria
  • Mystery at the Inn by Carolyne Aarsen
  • Whisper Along the Rails by Judith Miller
  • An Uncertain Dream by Judith Miller
  • Violet Dawn by Brandilyn Collins
  • All I Have to Give by Melody Carlson
  • Going Going Gone by Jolyn and William Sharp
  • In the Shadow of the Sun King by Golden Keyes Parsons
  • It's Not About Me by Michelle Sutton
  • Longings of the Heart by Bonnie Leon
  • Faith of My Fathers by Lynn Austin
  • When the Heart Cries by Cindy Woodsmall
  • Kiss by Ted Dekker and Erin Healey

YA Fiction
  • The Summer of Cotton Candy by Debbie Viguie
  • The Fall of Candy Corn by Debbie Viguie
  • Mixed Bags by Melody Carlson
  • Stealing Bradford by Melody Carlson
  • Claire by Lisi Harrison
  • Last Christmas by Kate Brian
  • Infamous by Cecily von Ziegesar
  • Much Ado About Anne by Heather Vogel Frederick

Children's Fiction
  • Fading Tracks by Kristi Holt
  • Secrets for Sale by Kristi Holt

What was the best book you read this fall? Since I can never choose just one...The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner, Bon Apetit by Sandra Byrd, The Other Side of Darkness by Melody Carlson, Much Ado About Anne by Heather Vogel Patrick.

What book could you have done without? It took me FOREVER to read When the Heart Cries by Cindy Woodsmall. Not because the book was bad, but because I disagreed with the way the characters acted in the story. I could see the foreshadowing leading to pain for the main character so I kept dreading reading more of the story. It's a good book, but I don't think it's a favorite or reread for me. Same with The Outsider by Ann Gabhart. I didn't agree with the Shaker lifestyle so even though the story was good, it was hard to read.

Did you try out a new author this fall? If so, which one, and will you be reading that author again? Yes, I found a bunch of new authors. I think my favorite was probably In the Shadow of the Sun King by Golden Keyes Parsons. I really enjoyed reading this historical fiction book, probably one of the best I've read all year. I"ll be looking forward to when book 2 comes out next year.

If there were books you didn't finish, tell us why. Did you run out of time? Realize those books weren't worth it? I finished all my books this time around, but just barely! I had to stop reading for a month because of schoolwork. I just finished my last book on the original list yesterday!

Did you come across a book or two on other participants' lists that you're planning to add to your own to-be-read pile? Which ones? Enjoyed seeing all the other Christian fiction books on other TBR lists. Makes me want to go back and reread them again.

What did you learn -- about anything -- through this challenge? Maybe you learned something about yourself or your reading style, maybe you learned not to pick so many nonfiction books for a challenge, maybe you learned something from a book you read. Whatever it is, share! When one is in grad school and trying to plan a wedding, small list is essential! LOL, then when you have time to read other books you feel like you accomplish something! I always use the challenge as a way to finish my library books, and I had just moved and discovered a new library, with lots of new book!

What was the best part of the Fall Reading Challenge? Being able to finish up some series that I knew I would put off if I hadn't put them on the list.

Would you be interested in participating in another reading challenge this spring? Definitely. Will keep me straight on another library book pile. It's already starting to pile up again. Lol.

Any other thoughts, impressions, or comments. Thanks for hosting this Katrina!!!! Can't wait til spring!

Fall Reading Challenge 2008

FINISHED!!!!!



Well it's that time of the year again! Katrina at Callapidder Days is issuing out the command to get our reading lists out and done!
"As a quick refresher, the purpose of this challenge is for us to establish some goals for our reading this Fall and then work toward them. Whether you have a pile of books that you've been intending to read but just haven't yet, or you need a gentle prod to finish some books that you started but then abandoned, or you would just like a little accountability as you work through your reading stack, this is the place for you. Whether you're reading for fun, reading to learn, reading to be inspired, or reading to your kids, you are welcome here!"

So without further adieu is here is my list for the challenge! . Note: These are all my library books, which means these MUST be read by the end of the challenge or face the wrath of fines! I haven't listed books I own because I don't know if I'll get around to them, but they might pop up at the end of the challenge on my list.


Christian Fiction

  1. The Outsider by Ann H. Gabhart
  2. A Steadfast Surrender by Nancy Moser
  3. The Strength of His Hand by Lynn Austin
  4. Among the Gods by Lynn Austin
  5. Sinner by Ted Dekker
  6. My Son, the Savior by Melody Carlson
  7. An Irish Christmas by Melody Carlson
  8. The Gift of Christmas Present by Melody Carlson
  9. Angels in the Snow by Melody Carlson
  10. The Blessed by Lisa T. Bergren
  11. Rhythms of Grace by Marilynn Griffith
  12. The Other Side of Darkness by Melody Carlson
  13. An Unexpected Love by Tracie Peterson and Judith Miller

YA Fiction

  1. A Not So Simple Life by Melody Carlson
  2. Massie by Lisi Harrison
  3. Dylan by Lisi Harrison
  4. Alicia by Lisi Harrison
  5. Kristen by Lisi Harrison

18 books, my smallest challenge ever. And I highly doubt I will get to match the 50 + books I read during the spring, thanks to grad school and wedding planning. But we shall see!

*ETA: My one time update to the list. Just came back from the library to pick up some holds!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Movie Review: "Quantum of Solace"

Daniel Craig IS Bond. I know I had my doubts when the announcement was made but he has totally silenced them and made me a fan. Craig's Bond is not a womanizer, or a cheeky bloke. Gone are the cliched one liners (thank Goodness!!) and the smarmy winks. In place is a man bent on revenge and looking to clear the name of the woman he loved. I really liked his acting this movie. Top notch, totally the best acting done by a Bond ever. Did you notice that he never says the trademarked "Bond, James Bond" in this movie? Also the gun barrel sequence is only shown at the very end. It's a great way to distinguish themselves away from the cheesiness of the older movies.

The villain in this movie is not disfigured or abnormal in anyway (although he does scream like a girl). Dominic Greene is more about smarts than just tricks. However I felt he was one of the weaker villains in the series. He is though part of Quantum and I'm looking forward to seeing more of them in the series. I liked their meeting at the opera house and the way Bond tricked them into revealing themselves.

Camille is now one of my favorite Bond girls. I pretty much like any Bond girl who can stand up for herself and fight. She has a vendetta very much like Bond's and is out for revenge. She's also really pretty and doesn't she look just like Catherine Zeta Jones? Agent Fields was just a wasted character, honestly couldn't they have done something more for Gemma Jones? What I really like best about this movie is that the main Bond girl did not sleep with Bond nor even try to. And Bond didn't even hint at it himself. It was so out of character for him. I was expecting some end of movie rendezvous for the two of them but it didn't happen. It was so refreshing. At this rate Craig's Bond has only slept with two women in the two movies he's been in. By contrast Roger Moore's Bond would be with at least 3 in each of his movies (and he did 7, do the math). Of course it would be best if he didn't sleep with anyone but the lack of womanizing in these reboots are great. I can only hope that more focus is on the action and story and less on Bond's exploits.

The title sequence song "Another Way to Die" by Jack Black and Alicia Keyes is great. I think it ranks up high with some of the classic Bond themes. It's different and edgy but that's what this Bond is known for. Although they did revert back to the silhouettes of women in the title sequence, so for that reason I like Casino Royale's a lot better. Loved the reference to Goldfinger involving Fields. The hardcore fans will get the reference that oil has become the new gold. The lack of Moneypenny or Q is not really missed here. Although there are no gadgets, the high tech technology that MI6 seems to have is incredibly groundbreaking. I really liked the ending of the movie. It goes against everything that Bond is stereotyped for and really shows his integrity.

My only complaint doesn't have to deal with the movie at all. It is however directed at the movie theater we saw it at. The sound was absolutely horrible. All front centered and staticky. You could barely hear anything especially when characters would whisper. I needed subtitles! But that's what you get when you go to the discount matinee.

There hasn't been a release date set for Bond 23 but I know I'll be seeing it opening weekend. Craig has said the next movie will not be part of a trilogy but other sources have said that we will see Quantum again (they must be the new Spectre and more believable too) and perhaps even Camille. Either way I know I can't wait. Long live Daniel Craig as James Bond.

BTW the lack of movie reviews is because this was the first movie I've seen in the theater in months! 1) Movies are getting pricey and we've been watching lots of DVDS and 2) Since Harry Potter got shafted to summer, there hasn't and aren't any good movies in the theaters and won't be until next summer. Bond was my only bright spot.