Thursday, December 31, 2009

Finished My Final Book of 2009!

Tired from too much schoolwork Royalty Free Stock Photo

Whew! I just finished my FINAL book of 2009 for a grand total of 530 books and 162, 656 pages! The above picture is pretty much how I feel now! But I enjoyed this past year of reading and am looking forward to another year in 2010 (albeit with a smaller amount!)

Top 10 Reads of 2009

2009 is over. (Well almost considering this is the last day of the year.) I totally surpassed myself in terms of reading amounts. As of this morning, I have read 528 books this year. I'm hoping to finish at least two more before 11:59pm tonight. This amount of books will never been seen again in my lifetime. I figure that starting with this upcoming year, I will no longer have the time to read as much as I do. Therefore this past year after I hit the 300 book mark I just read as much as I could because I knew I would never be able to do it again in my lifetime. And I did that while attending grad school AND got married!

These were my top 10 reads of the year. Believe me it was very hard to only pick ten and I was tempted to fudge and say top 15 or even top 20. But I decided to finally stick to the rules (with one exception at the very end)
. I VERY HIGHLY recommend all these books.

In no particular order:

Scared by Tom Davis (Review)

Someday My Prince Will Come by Jerramy Fine (Review)

A Taste of Fame by Linda Evans Shepherd and Eva Marie Everson (Review)

Italian for Beginners by Kristin Harmel (Review)

Fools Rush In by Janice Thompson (Review)

The Knight by Steven James (Review)

Play It Again SAHM by Meredith Efken (Review)

Holly's Inbox by Holly Denham

North of Beautiful by Justine Chen Headley (Review)

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame Smith

Honorable Mention: Favorite New Author - Jen Calonita (Secrets of My Hollywood Life series, Sleepaway Girls) - Reviews

Books by Jen Calonita

South Asian Author Challenge


I have been meaning to sign up for this swap forever from S. Krishna but I had to wait til I went back to my parents' home and see my TBR pile over there to make sure I had the books for the swap! And I do..well at least 2 but I can get more at the library. So this is yet ANOTHER challenge I'm signing up for! And it'll be my last challenge sign up for the year...well until next year at least.

What is the South Asian Author Challenge?

This challenge is to encourage people to read books by South Asian Authors – South Asia being India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. Please not that it does not include the Middle East! The books can be from any time period, contemporary or classic. If you want to talk about the challenge on Twitter or tweet your reviews, use the hashtag #saac.

What are the dates of this challenge?

January 1, 2010 – December 31, 2010

What books qualify for the South Asian Author Challenge?

There are two requirements for a book to qualify for the South Asian Author Challenge, both of which must be met:

1) The author must be of South Asian descent. It doesn’t matter if they’re third or fourth generation, or are only half South Asian – I’m pretty flexible on this issue.

2) The book must be about South Asia in some way. It doesn’t have to be set in South Asia, as long as it’s about the culture or history in some way. On the other hand, it can be set in South Asia and not be about South Asians.

How many books do I have to read for the South Asian Author Challenge?

There are four different commitment levels:

3 books

5 books

7 books

10 books

I am signing up for 3 books. I know it's the minimum and I can probably do more but this way at least I know that I will definitely be able to finish the challenge.

To sign up for the swap visit S. Krishna's blog here

I will post here with my books after I am done reading them:

1. Girl Most Likely To by Poonam Sharma

2. Indie Girl by Kavita Daswani

3. Goddess for Hire by Sonia Singh

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Book Review: "Just Between You and Me" by Jenny B Jones

Maggie lives life on the edge, seemingly unafraid of anything. But the image she so carefully constructed is coming undone.

Maggie's job as a videographer takes her around the world. She tells people's stories, especially those of impoverished children. That's when she feels most alive, like she's making the world better.

But when a secret from her past resurfaces, Maggie gets a call that sends her home. Her dad desperately needs her help. Her estranged sister has run off, leaving 8-year-old Riley in his care.She returns reluctantly, hoping to help her niece. There she reconnects with Cooper--a once awkward and shy, now handsome, veterinarian. Her feelings skyrocket when she's with him, but she's afraid if she shows him her true self, he'll reject her.

An honest, hilarious journey that will transform Maggie--if she just learns to trust more and fearless.

I am a HUGE fan of Jenny's YA books and have been for the past few years so I was totally eager to read her first adult fiction novel. Her YA books are totally fun to read and really speak to me so I had high expectations for this book. I was definitely not disappointed. Even though Maggie is older than Jenny's past protagonist, she still in a voice that I could totally relate to. Maggie gives a lot of one-liners and can be quite sarcastic at times which adds to the humor in the book. It's good she does that because there's a lot of heavy material in the book to tackle. Her relationship with her niece is a highlight of the book as we watch them grow together.

The part of the book that stood out most to me was the entire dynamic of Maggie's family. She's had to bear the weight of being present while her mother committed suicide and then having a mentally unstable sister blame her for it. Plus her father seems to care more about hiding the situation than being there for the daughter that really needs him. I was so glad when she confronted her father. He honestly made me mad while reading the book. I know I say this now while I don't have kids, but there is no way I am going to knowingly fund my child's drug habit and pretend to myself that I'm "helping" them.

One thing I was really worried about was that I was afraid Maggie was going to have give up all her dreams just to stay back at home. Many books have this storyline where the main character has left home to find their dreams but then end up having to return to fulfill family obligations and thus sacrifice their future plans. While family is always important, I just hate having to see people give up careers they've worked so hard for. Thankfully that does not happen in this book. Without giving away any huge spoilers, I was pleased that Maggie was able to fulfill both her duty to family and accomplish the dream she's always wanted.

As I said before I really enjoyed reading this book. Jenny's style of writing is really easy to read and thrusts you into the story so you feel like you are a part of it. The characters come to life and are extremely realistic. There aren't too many Christian books that wouldn't let a character like Allison end up the way she does without a happy ending or without getting magically healed. I was really pleased with this book and it's probably one of my favorite reads of the year. If you haven't read any of Jenny's books (or even if you have) this is definite must read. HIGHLY recommended.

Just Between You and Me by Jenny B Jones is published by Thomas Nelson (2009)

This review copy was provided by the publisher

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Book Review: "Double Cross" by James David Jordan

Raised by a father who was a former Special Forces officer, Taylor is beautiful and brilliant and knows how to take care of herself. But she is haunted by her past and the sacrifice her father made to save her from a brutal rape when she was seventeen. After a controversial stint in the Secret Service, she has become the most prominent private security specialist in America. When she discovers the body of a former client's top assistant, all the evidence points to embezzlement and suicide. But Taylor has no way of knowing that her mother, who ran out when Taylor was nine, is about to reappear and lead her down a twisting path of danger and deceit. It's a road that won't end until they reach the spot where Taylor's father died-where Taylor learns some sacrifices can never be earned.

I had a blast reading the first book featuring Taylor's character, Forsaken, and was eager to read more about her adventures. I had really liked Jordan's style of writing in the first book and how he had managed to create a female character who was both strong and vulnerable at the same time. I was not disappointed when picking up the sequel and continuing Taylor's story. Once again, Jordan is able to write convincingly as a first person female. Too many times, other male authors try to write in the same tone and fail because they cannot seem to grasp how females actually think. In this book, I actually forgot that the book had been written by a male, as Taylor is able to both kick butt yet feel like a woman at the same time.

The story tackles tough subjects normally not seen in Christian fiction such as prostitution and embezzling among other Christians. Taylor's tactics at finding out the truth about the situation were quite clever. She's very level headed and does not allow emotion to come between her line of work. Something that I found extremely refreshing was a lack of a romantic storyline. I say this because usually when a male writes in first person female, there always has to be a romantic subplot to show that even the tough as nails female secret agent has a soft sensitive side and turns to jelly at the sight of a man. Jordan, thankfully, does not resort to this stereotype to make Taylor's character well rounded. The situation with her mother fulfills this need, which I felt was a much better way at making her character more dimensional. While there are hints at possible relationships, it's not a main focus of the story and therefore not a distraction.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I will admit it wasn't as fast paced as the first novel had been, but it's still an adventure story and quite suspenseful. The plot is relevant in today's age and one that could be seen on the nightly news. I really liked seeing Taylor and Kacey work together especially with that interesting bond that ties them together. I really hope we'll hear more from them in a future book.

One additional note about this book I wanted to mention. If you happen to get a copy of this book and look at the back cover, you may notice a certain endorsement by a certain familiar blog. Heh. Although I do want to mention that the endorsement was made for the previous book in the series and not for the book that is on the cover for.

Double Cross by James David Jordan is published by B and H Publishing (2009)

This review copy was provided by the publisher

Monday, December 28, 2009

Book Review: "A Passion Redeemed" by Julie Lessman

Graced with physical beauty, though shallow of heart, Charity O'Connor is a woman who knows what she wants. She sets her sights on the cantankerous Mitch Dennehy, editor at the Irish Times, who has unwittingly stolen her heart. And although the sparks are there, Mitch refuses to fan the coals of a potential relationship with his ex-fiancee's sister. But Charity has a plan to turn up the heat and she always gets what she wants--one way or another. Is revenge so sweet after all? Or will Charity get burned?

When I finished the first book in this series, A Passion Most Pure, I hated Charity. Honestly, I wanted to slap the sense out of that girl. I honestly haven't really hated a character so much in my life. I guess it was mainly because she reminded me of girls I knew in school, who got away with everything especially the guys that you happened to like. I was told that with this book however that my feelings for her would change because Charity would get what's coming to her and a change of heart as well.

Sadly, after finishing this story I am STILL not a fan of Charity. I will admit I am more sympathetic of her after finding out what happened in the past. Also there are scenes that happen in the book that even I felt extremely sorry and hurt for her. No matter what she could have done, she definitely did not deserve to be treated in that way. However, even that does not totally excuse her behavior. I swear that girl just does not learn from her mistakes or anything that happens in her life. She gets by and rewarded because of her looks which she uses to her advantage. I also got really mad that Mitch somehow became the bad guy at the end of the book when it was ENTIRELY Charity's fault! In fact, the one instance where Charity seems to have any sort of heart would have to be how she acts with her co-worker Emma. Due to the situation with Emma's abusive husband, this is the one time where Charity seems to care more about another person's well being than herself. She even uses the negative situation she finds herself in to help Emma finally see the light and get out of that relationship.

There are some conservative readers who find these books to be really racy and practically pornographic. Honestly, I really scoff at this. Sorry, but I find these books to be extremely refreshing and true to life. To say that just because someone is a Christian and does not feel passion or any other romantic feelings is lying to yourself. I sound harsh but it really does get on my nerves about this. Pretty much if you don't read Christian fiction and you pick up this book, you will find it really tame compared to the general market books that are out there. If you are the type of person who blushes at the thought of holding hands with a guy, this book is probably not for you.

Overall, I did enjoy reading this book. As I said, I still am annoyed by Charity but the story itself is very engaging and I was glad to revisit with the O'Connor family again. Another wonderful thing about this book is that it's really long and thick, which makes a for a splendid way to pass an entire day by reading this tome. I'll be looking forward to picking up the final book in the series, both to read Lizzie's story and perhaps to see if I end up liking Charity a bit more!

A Passion Redeemed by Julie Lessman is published by Revell (2008)

This review copy was provided by the publisher

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

This is the reason why I personally celebrate Christmas. Hope your day is filled with joy and peace.

Link: Jesus of Nazareth - 428 (Full Movie)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Book Review: "Odd Mom Out" by Jane Porter

Advertising executive Marta Zinsser is no poster child for her wealthy Seattle suburb-and nothing could please her more. This former New Yorker wears combat boots, not Manolos, and drives a righteous Harley hog instead of a Mercedes SUV. Now she's launching her own agency in this land of the Microsoft elite, even though her ten-year-old daughter wishes she'd put on a sweater set and just be normal. Can this ex-urbanite remain uniquely herself without alienating the inner circle of smug, cookie-cutter executive wives? And when push comes to shove, can she stop being the proud odd mom out and take a chance at something frighteningly-and tantalizingly-new?

Like I said in my previous review, I accidentally read Mrs Perfect before reading Odd Mom Out. However, I am glad I did because it allowed me to understand Taylor's character better in this book. I really liked Marta. She shared the same views that I have about not wanting to change the way you are just to fit in. I am glad that she didn't compromise her beliefs in order to fit in and glad she stood her ground against Taylor and the other moms. I think they had never been challenged before and therefore were threatened by her. Marta is a very likable and admirable character for choosing to live as a single mom, running her own business and having to deal with a mother who's going through Alzheimer's. However I am glad that she realized that being professional and being true to yourself are different things and that is possible to be both at the same time.

I totally felt for Eva. I remember what it was like to be that age and wanting to fit in with the popular crowd but no matter what I did, I could never fit in. The pain of constantly feeling left out and rejected was all too reflected in Eva's feelings. Even though now I can look back and realize that it was just a waste to even try, I could totally understand
why she kept going after this goal. Although I wasn't fan of that book (which sounds suspiciously like a training manual of how to be a Mean Girl), I probably would have read myself in desperation. Trying to fit in with the in-crowd always seems so crucial at that age and anything that makes you stand out

My one complaint isn't really about the book but more so the cover. While the figure which is supposed to portray Marta is fine, the other female characters highly disappoint. It's due the outfits they are wearing. The women look like 50+ year olds and those shoes are absolutely horrid especially since it's described how much the characters spend on expensive shoes. I just think better artwork could have been done to represent the Stepford wife lifestyle.

Many questions were raised in this book that don't have answers yet but are worth questioning. The talk about there being a double standard between working men and women is very true and needs to find a solution. Also the cost of being a stay at home mom as well and the lack of appreciation she gets. Once again, this is another hit from Jane Porter. I'm really sad that now I've read all her books out currently and have to wait until August for the next one. If you haven't discovered her books, I HIGHLY recommend them.

Odd Mom Out by Jane Porter is published by 5 Spot (2007)

This review copy was provided by the publisher

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Book Review: "Mrs. Perfect" by Jane Porter

As a young California girl growing up in a blue collar neighborhood, Taylor Young dreamed of being popular, beautiful, and acquiring a wardrobe to die for. Not to mention marrying a handsome, successful man and living happily ever after in a gorgeous house with three wonderful children. Now, at 36, Taylor has reached the pinnacle of her dreams, but is it all about to unravel? As the new school year approaches, Taylor prepares herself for playing the perfect alpha mom: organizing class activities, fund-raising, and chairing the school auction. But the horror! Her archrival, bohemian mom Marta Zinsser, is named Head Room Mom of Taylor's daughter's fifth grade class. As tensions rise at committee meetings and school activities, the two rivals seem to be destined for a final confrontation. But as Taylor plans her next move, she is floored by a more serious blow at home-her husband has been secretly unemployed for the past six months. With her posh lifestyle crumbling, Taylor struggles to maintain her alpha image-but could Marta, who cares little about appearances, be her only true friend?

I made the mistake of reading Mrs. Perfect BEFORE I read the book that comes before this, Odd Mom Out. However I actually quite happy that I did because it allowed me to have a better understand of Taylor when I went back and read the previous book. As someone in a marriage that has seen their share of financial struggles, I could relate a bit to what Taylor and Nathan were going through. Of course we didn't have nearly the amount of problems they were having, but it was understandable how Taylor could have been left out in the dark of how much in debt they were. Granted she should have kept up with her spending and realized that she was a shopaholic and was buying stuff she didn't need. Her husband keeps saying he's trying to help but he's been keeping secrets from her for almost a year. Now they are in deep trouble and stand to lose everything that Taylor has worked so hard to accomplish.

The book shows Taylor trying to do everything to keep up with the lavish lifestyle she's been used to and trying to ignore what is really happening. Eventually though reality finally sinks in and she has to go against what she's supposed to be like and accepts that she cannot afford this lifestyle. It was incredible satisfying to see Taylor completely humbled by the end of the book. She no longer craves a rich life or tries to keep up with appearances. Instead she's come to realize that family is more important and just being together. I really like the complete 180 degree attitude change. Also equally interesting was Taylor's choice in friends. While she does have some true friends who stick by her even when her circumstances change, she soon finds out that most of her "friends" not only abandon her but begin to talk about her behind their back. Therefore she begins to turn the Marta, the one woman she despised like no other. It's quite the kicker to read about that friendship.

What I love best about Jane Porter's book are how incredibly thick they are for a chick lit novels, which is wonderful because it gives more time to build up characterization and expound on the plot. Taylor is a really good character to have a longer book on because she's actually a really complex character with a hidden past she's trying to keep under wraps. While I was reading Odd Mom Out, I was able to look at her in a totally different way than I would have if I hadn't know her back story. It made me pity her while normally I would have hated her. Jane Porter's books are wonderful and this one is no exception. A wonderful read to kick back and relax with.

Mrs. Perfect by Jane Porter is published by 5 Spot (2008)

This review copy was provided by the publisher

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Just a Reminder!

You ARE going to be listening tonight are you not? *waves hand and forces Jedi Mind Trick*

Video killed the radio star....well radio's making a comeback didn't you know?

Nicole from Linus's Blanket has a Blog Talk Radio show called That's How I Blog where she interviews super cool bloggers like Amy from My Friend Amy and Trish from Hey Lady Whatcha Reading. On the show she chats with the bloggers about how they started blogging, their favorite books, what they enjoy best/worst about being a blogger, all sorts of stuff.

My show will be next Tuesday 12/22 at 8pm EST. I know that it's the holiday season and things might be a bit rushed and hectic but if you do have the time, please stop in and listen. I'll try to sound somewhat charming and I might even throw out some Star Wars trivia. You can call in and ask me a question if you want to, or you can email Nicole your burning questions that you've always wanted to ask me.

The book we'll be discussing during the book club portion of the show will be Boneman's Daughters by Ted Dekker, one of my favorite reads of 2009.

I'm really nervous about this but also super excited at the same time. If you're a fan of blog and my reviews, now you'll have a chance to hear what I really sound like! Let's just hope I sound somewhat intelligent!

Remember TUESDAY, December 22, 8pm EST. Listen HERE. BE THERE!

Book Review: "Flirting With Forty" by Jane Porter

He got the second home and the Porsche. She got the kids and a broken heart. Now Jackie Laurens, post-divorce and heading toward the big four-oh, is on vacation in sunny Hawaii and facing her upcoming birthday-alone. But not for long. She's soon falling for Kai, her gorgeous, much younger surf instructor, and their wild passionate fling becomes the biggest surprise of her life.

Back home in Seattle, Jackie has to struggle with single parenthood and her memories. Kai hasn't forgotten her, yet thousands of miles of ocean and an age difference that feels even bigger lie between them. And, of course, Jackie's friends disapprove. When a choice must be made, can she, will she risk everything for her chance at happiness?

I want to go to Hawaii so bad. I've been there once for a layover on the way to Malaysia but that doesn't count. Therefore, I adore books where I get to armchair travel to this spot. Luckily for me this book allowed me to travel several times throughout the course of the story. Jackie's story, while not one I can relate to, was enjoyable to read and it was really nice to read how she was able to finally come out of her shell. She got to enjoy herself and discover that there was a part of her that existed that didn't have to have ties with her ex husband.

I did like Kai, though at times I was a bit worried for Jackie's sake that he wasn't as faithful as she was. Of course, we only got the perspective from Jackie so we don't know what was going on meanwhile back in Hawaii with Kai. Without spoiling the story, I felt that an extremely crucial situation in the book could have been handled differently. At the very least, anyone involved in the situation should have been told regardless of the outcome and by the end of the story, it is not mentioned if it ever will be. There are a few sex scenes in the book but there's nothing too graphic.

I really did not like Jackie's ex husband. He was the typical ex-husband who has no problem leaving his wife for a younger woman but God forbid she wants to start having a life. Jackie should be glad she's not married to him anymore and his new girlfriend must live in a bubble if she thinks she's found the perfect guy. I just wanted to hit him several times. I also wanted to strangle Jackie's friends. Right from the get-go, I knew they were not the best friends for her. As soon as Anne calls and tells her she can't go on the trip with her and gives a flimsy excuse about her husband, I knew that we were dealing with some weak women. Instead of being happy for her or at least giving her sound good advice, her so called friends keep bringing her down and keep trying to discourage Jackie. I don't know if it was jealousy or just plain cattiness but I got really mad at them.

Overall I really enjoyed this book as I have other Jane Porter books. It's a light funny read and I would describe it as older chick lit, but not quite hen lit yet.

By the way I was able to catch some of the Lifetime movie that was based on this book. Let me tell you the book is SO much better than the movie. From the 30 minutes I was able to view, I was deeply disappointed in how they changed Kai's character to Kyle and how Heather Locklear looks way older than 40 and heavily botoxed. That is all.

Flirting With Forty by Jane Porter is published by 5 Spot (2006)

This review copy was provided by the publisher

Primal by Mark Batterson

We have a tendency to complicate Christianity. Jesus simplified it: Love God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength. If we are to live out the essence of Christianity, we must commit to being great at this Great Commandment.

In Primal, Mark Batterson explores the four elements of Great Commandment Christianity: compassion, wonder, curiosity, and power. Along the way, he calls you to be a part of God’s reformation, starting in your own life.

As Mark writes, “Is there a place in your past where you met God and God met you? A place where your heart broke for the things that break the heart of God? Maybe it was a sermon that became more than a sermon. Maybe it was a mission trip or retreat. Maybe it was a vow you made at an altar. In that moment, God birthed something supernatural in your spirit. You knew you’d never be the same again. My prayer is that this book would take you back to that burning bush—and reignite a primal faith.”

Primal will help you live in light of what matters most and discover what it means to love God. It will help you become great at the Great Commandment.

Author Bio:

The author of Wild Goose Chase and In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, Mark Batterson serves as lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C. One church with nine services in five locations, NCC is focused on reaching emerging generations and meets in movie theaters at metro stops throughout the D.C. area. Mark has two Masters degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Chicago. He and his wife, Lora, live on Capitol Hill with their three children

Monday, December 21, 2009

Fall Into Reading Wrap UP

Fall Into Reading 2009

Well all good things must come to an end. And the Fall Reading Challenge is now over. How'd I do? Well I've gone absolutely bonkers this past year and reading WELL over my norm (I'm currently at up to 521 books for the year). I read all the books (33) on my list PLUS 142 more for a grand total of 175 books in 3 months!!!!!

Here's the official list of books (click) I read for the challenge.

Here's a breakdown of the OTHER books that I read during the same time:

Christian Fiction

• A Prisoner of Versailles by Golden Keyes Parsons
• Fatal Deduction by Gayle Roper
• The Great Christmas Bowl by Susan May Warren
• Plain Promise by Beth Wiseman
• Bo's Cafe by John Lynch, Bill Thrall and Bruce Nicol
• Red, White and Blue by Laura Hayden
• Love Finds You in Revenge, Ohio by Lisa Harris
• A Gift of Grace by Amy Clipston
• Widows and Orphans by Susan Meissner
• Reading, Writing and Riddles by Jolyn and William Sharp
• The Price of Fame by Carolyne Aarsen
• The Start of Something Big by Sunni Jeffers
• The Sound of Sleigh Bells by Cindy Woodsmall
• Small Town Reality by Carolyne Aarsen
• The Kindness of Strangers by Susan Meier
• Trial by Fire by Cara Putman
• Amazing Gracie by Pam Hanson and Barbara Andrews
• They Also Serve by Pam Hanson and Barbara Andrews
• Things Worth Remembering by Jackina Stark
• Saints Among Us by Anne Marie Rodgers
• Building Bridges by Carolyne Aarsen
• Rosemary for Remembrance by Sunni Jeffers
• The Way We Were by Judy Baer
• Leaving Yesterday by Kathryn Cushman
• No Place for a Lady by Maggie Brendan
• An Amish Christmas by Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller and Barbara Cameron
• Scoop by Rene Gutteridge
• Watch Over Me by Christa Parrish
• Angel's Den by Jamie Carie
• Deliver Us From Evil by Robin Caroll
• The Jewel of His Heart by Maggie Brendan
• Eyes of Elisha by Brandilyn Collins
• Emily Ever After by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt
• Wisdom Hunter by Randall Arthur
• Hot Tropics and Cold Feet by Diann Hunt
• Limelight by Melody Carlson
• Leaving Carolina by Tamara Leigh
• The Elevator by Angela Hunt
• Why the Sky is Blue by Susan Meissner
• Red and Lowering Sky by Lynn Morris
• Ready to Wed by Melody Carlson
• Love Finds You in Romeo, Colorado by Gwen Ford Faulkenberry
• Love Finds You in Valentine, Nebraska by Irene Brand
• Love Finds You in Snowball, Arkansas by Sandra D. Bricker
• Sins of the Mother by Patricia Rushford
• Love Finds You in Miracle, Kentucky by Andrea Boeshaar
• The Will of Wisteria by Denise Hildreth
• Georgia on Her Mind by Rachel Hauck
• Love Finds You in Sisters, Oregon by Melody Carlson
• Buried Sins by Marta Perry
• Bad Heiress Day by Allie Pleiter
• Thirsty by Tracey Bateman
• Lost in Nash Vegas by Rachel Hauck
• The Silent Gift by Michael Landon Jr and Cindy Kelley
• The Swiss Courier by Tricia Goyer and Mike Yorkey
• Simple Gifts by Lori Copeland
• Field of Blood by Eric Wilson
• All the Tea in China by Jane Orcutt
• Rachel's Secret by BJ Hoff
• Chosen by Ginger Garrett
• White Picket Fences by Susan Meissner
• Alaska Twilight by Colleen Coble
• My Heart Remembers by Kim Vogel Sawyer
• Chill Out Josey by Susan May Warren
• Flee the Night by Susan May Warren
• Get Cozy Josey by Susan May Warren
• A Taste of Murder by Virginia Smith
• Caught in the Act by Gayle Roper
• Act Two by Kimberly Stuart
• Hawaiian Sunrise by Lauraine Snelling
• Montclair by Sara Mitchell
• The Sunroom by Beverly Lewis
• Jillian Dare by Melanie Jeschke
• The Quilt by T. Davis Bunn
• The Gift by T. Davis Bunn
• Tidings of Comfort and Joy by T. Davis Bunn
• Grits and Glory by Ron and Janet Benrey
• Leah's Choice by Marta Perry
• The Face of Deceit by Ramona Richards
• A Time to Mend by Sally John and Gary Smalley
• Green by Ted Dekker
• A Bride Most Begrudging by Deeanne Gist
• A Scent of Murder of Virginia Smith
• Love Finds You in Charm Ohio by Annalisa Daughety
• Reasonable Doubt by Tracey Bateman
• Scared by Tom Davis
• Flabbergasted by Ray Blackston
• The Christmas Lamp by Lori Copeland
• The Hidden by Kathryn Mackel
• Healing Sands by Nancy Rue and Stephen Arterburn
• Demon by Tosca Lee
• Double Jeopardy by Terri Reed
• Love Finds You in North Pole Alaska by Loree Lough
• Just Between You and Me by Jenny B. Jones
• A Passion Redeemed by Julie Lessman
• Double Cross by James David Jordan

Chick Lit

• Easy on the Eyes by Jane Porter
• Chasing Daisy by Paige Toon
• Over the Holidays by Sandra Harper
• Holly's Inbox by Holly Denham
• Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding
• The Secret of Joy by Melissa Senate
• How Not to Make a Wish by Mindy Klasky
• Five Things I Can't Live Without by Holly Shumas
• The Frog Prince by Jane Porter
• Flirting With Forty by Jane Porter
• Mrs. Perfect by Jane Porter
• Odd Mom Out by Jane Porter
• Recipe for Scandal by Debby Holt


• Fashionista by Micol Ostow
• A Little Help From My Friends by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt
• The Alphas by Lisi Harrison
• What Matters Most by Melody Carlson
• The Chic Shall Inherit the Earth by Shelley Adina
• Love the One You're With by Cecily Von Ziegesar
• The Mother Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Frederick
• Sister of the Bride by Beverly Cleary
• Jean and Johnny by Beverly Cleary
• Ninth Key by Meg Cabot
• Reunion by Meg Cabot
• Darkest Hour by Meg Cabot
• Haunted by Meg Cabot
• Twilight by Meg Cabot
• The Luckiest Girl by Beverly Cleary
• Petty in Pink by Rachel Maude
• Dear Pen Pal by Heather Vogel Frederick
• Charmed and Dangerous by Lisi Harrison
• Duplikate by Cherry Cheva
• Secret Society by Tom Dolby
• I Will Always Love You by Cecily Von Ziegesar
• Splendor by Anna Godbersen
• Devious by Cecily Von Ziegesar

Other Literature

• Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame Smith
• The Christmas Cookie Club by Ann Pearlman
• The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist


• Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher


• Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen
• Someday My Prince Will Come by Jerramy Fine

What was the best book you read this fall? Honestly at this point, I really cannot pick just one..or even a few. Come back on 12/31 for my year end review!

What book could you have done without? Wisdom Hunter by Randall Arthur was just God-Awful preachy. and the writing was really bad too. Definitely not something I would recommend.

Did you try out a new author this fall? If so, which one, and will you be reading that author again? Oh gosh yes. I read TONS of new authors. Except for Randall Arthur, I would recommend them all and will probably try to find all their other books, backlist or new ones.

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 by November. Was a bit worried I wasn't going to finish them by the library due date, but squeaked by just in time.

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! I have just been a reading machine this year. And this was with a wedding in June and grad school again. By the way, I was able to read this many books and still get an A and a B in my classes! Most of my reading though comes from the desire to finish up challenges. In these 3 months alone, I was reading for at least 7 other challenges at the same time plus I did the 24 hour readathon as well.

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!

Book Review: "The Frog Prince" by Jane Porter

Holly Bishop is the proverbial, small-town good girl. She always follows the rules, thinks of others first, and she never, ever makes mistakes. Until she marries the man she thought was her Prince Charming, who confesses on their honeymoon that he’s not sexually attracted to her. Now, 14 months later, Holly’s marriage is in the toilet, along with her self-esteem. Determined to start over, she moves to San Francisco, where she must navigate the landmines of dating in the big city. In the shadow of the Golden Gate and amid a population of wacky Bay Area eccentrics, Holly will discover that nice girls don’t always finish last. In fact, they sometimes end up with everything they’d ever wanted.

Holly's love life is not happy. She's going through the final stages of divorce from her newly married husband Jean-Marc. Her marriage pretty much crumbled right from the beginning when during the honeymoon Jean-Marc tells her he doesn't love her anymore and can't really give her a reason. Therefore I don't blame her for being cynical and bitter in the beginning of the book. If the guy I was going to marry told me the same thing too, I'd be pissed off at him and everyone else in the world and would have very low self esteem. However, even with minor setbacks every now and then Holly is able to get on with her life.

There are many subplots that happen throughout the book besides Holly's quest to find the right guy. They don't busy up the plot though and in fact add to Holly's character. Her career takes several ups and downs throughout the book, eventually resulting in a major down that nearly makes her lose her wits. It's done by a jealous, catty co-worker who has it in for Holly but don't worry, revenge is sweet. Also I really liked how Holly's relationship with her mother changed throughout the book. She's annoyed with her mother throughout the book but their relationship changes as she begins to understand where her mother is coming from and why she acts the way she does. Then by the end when Jean-Marc insults her mother, for the first time ever Holly stands up for her and walks away with a new found respect for her mom.

I also really enjoyed the ending of the book. Without spoiling everything for you, let's just say it's not a typical fairy book ending where everything is resolved and the princess has found the answers to all her questions. It's refreshingly realistic yet still optimistic at the same time. Much more relatable than having the prince come out of nowhere. I really enjoy Jane Porter's style of writing. It's funny and hits close to home in a "wow, I can SO relate" type of way. If you're in the mood for some great chick lit, pick up this book.

The Frog Prince by Jane Porter is published by 5 Spot (2005)

This review copy was provided by the publisher

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Nancy Drew Challenge Update: Prizes!

Well less than two weeks until January 1 and the start of the Nancy Drew challenge. I don't know about you but I'm really excited to start reading. I own the first 3 books, and then I'll be getting the rest from the library.

If you haven't joined yet (and you can click here to sign up), I hope this will give you more incentive to join!

Thanks to Jessica at HerInteractive, I'm able to offer prizes for the challenge! In case you didn't know HerInteractive makes computer games for young and teen girls, and are best known for their Nancy Drew adventure mystery game series.

There will be 5 prize sets all together given away to those who participate in the challenge.

Grand Prize (1 name drawn from all those who finish all 56 books) will win 5 games:

Nancy Drew: Warnings at Waverly Academy

Nancy Drew Warnings at Waverly Academy PC Game
Nancy Drew: Ransom of the Seven Ships

Nancy Drew Ransom of the Seven Ships PC Game

Nancy Drew: The Haunting of Castle Malloy

Nancy Drew The Haunting of Castle Malloy PC Game
Nancy Drew: The Phantom of Venice

Nancy Drew The Phantom of Venice PC Game
Nancy Drew Dossier: Resorting to Danger

Nancy Drew&reg Dossier Resorting to Danger PC Game

First Prize (4 winners drawn from all those who finish at least 30 books) will win: Nancy Drew: Secret of the Old Clock (based on the first 3 books, Secret of the Old Clock, the Hidden Staircase, and Mystery at Lilac Inn)
Nancy Drew Secret of the Old Clock PC Game

One name will be drawn from all those who sign up for the challenge by December 31 will win: Secret of Shadow Ranch (based off the #1 selling Nancy Drew book)

Nancy Drew The Secret of Shadow Ranch PC Game

All games are for PC only (unless you can run Windows on your Mac).

In order to be eligible to win your name MUST be on the Mr. Linky on the ORIGINAL POST with contact info either on your blog or in your comment in order for you to win. Also, while the challenge is open to anyone worldwide, prizes can only be sent out to US addresses.

At the end of the challenge, I will put up a post so that everyone can recap how they did throughout the year. Prizes will be awarded (except for the original signup prize) after that.

I'll also be posting updates throughout the year, and asking you as to how you're doing, so if you don't follow my blog or subscribe either by email or RSS feed, be sure to do so! I was made aware that 2010 will be the 80th anniversary of the creation of Nancy Drew so this is a spectacular way to honor the greatest teen sleuth in literary history! (Disclaimer: That is this blogger's personal opinion, you may disagree and that's quite ok!)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Book Review: "Fool's Gold" by Melody Carlson

All in all, Hannah Johnson is pretty happy as a missionary kid. In Papua New Guinea, no one worries about fancy clothes or credit card limits--everyone has other things to think about. But when Hannah visits her cousin Vanessa for a summer in America, everything changes.

All that glitters isn't gold.

Vanessa and her friends try to catch Hannah up on all the latest fashion trends, but in the end, Hannah feels hopeless. She doesn't think she'll ever be able to keep up with the rich girls--but that doesn't stop her from trying. In the process, Hannah is forced to come to grips with what she values most: beauty on the inside, or beauty on the outside.

This is a topic that almost any high school girl can totally relate to. Clothes are almost the biggest factor of what makes you part of the in crowd and what leave you on the outskirts. These days especially, labels are the ticket to popularity. Having lots of money almost guarantees being in the in crowd. Why are we so fascinated with having lots of money? Melody Carlson perfectly translates the feelings of a teen girl struggling with not having the money to buy everything and having to face those who do.

I was a bit worried at first that Hannah would be a total goody two shoe because of her background. She is a bit naive about somethings because she hasn't been in the country that long and isn't up to the pop culture. However she acts pretty normal which is good because it's more relatable to reader. I kept getting really annoyed with Vanessa throughout the book. The same with her mother as well. I cannot stand being around those type of people and it just made me want to scream throughout the entire book. I can accept this type of behavior if you earned the money you were spending. However, teens who spend credit cards using their parents money "just cause" really annoys me. I wish all parents realized that giving your kids everything they want does not make them love you more or make you a better parent. That being said, I rather enjoyed the ending and what happened to Vanessa and her mom. Almost like justice was finally served.

Something I found a bit weird and annoying after awhile was the continued calling of Ross Dress for Less. Let me say, I love the store. I get stuff there all the time. They have great deals and a really good selection. I just have never heard anyone keep calling it by it's full name. I could understand the first time it was mentioned but repeatedly calling it that way? At that point, it seemed like an ad for them, and that Ross Dress for Less had paid for product placement.

Other than this, I really enjoyed this book. The subject matter is one that many teen girls will be able to relate to and even women in their 20s and 30s can get advice out of this book. Sadly we live in a material world and when you don't share that lifestyle it can be incredibly hard. Again another great YA book from Melody Carlson.

Fool's Gold by Melody Carlson is published by NavPress (2005)

This review copy was provided by the publisher

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Book Review: "Try Fear" by James Scott Bell

For Ty Buchanan, defending a suspected drunk driver named Carl Richess seems routine enough. But when his client ends up dead, an apparent suicide, there's nothing routine about it. Because the cops suspect it's murder, and arrest Eric Richess, Carl's brother, for the crime. Now Ty, at the desperate urging of Eric's mother, agrees to defend him. But it won't be easy. Because there's DNA on the gun that matches Eric's, and a history of conflict between the brothers.

Then Ty, assisted by Sister Mary Veritas, begins to uncover tentacles of corruption that reach into the citadels of city power. But he's being watched. Because somewhere in the dark labyrinth of LA is someone who will do anything to keep from being found out, someone who believes that when warnings don't work, try fear.

There are many things I've liked about this series. The quirky characters. The gritty plot lines. The unlikely relationships. The no nonsense attitude. These books have been page turners for me, I've found myself unable to stop reading once I've started. In the final book of the series, Ty once again finds himself with an unusual case that most lawyers would totally avoid. What should have been a routine DUI case ends up turning into murder drama. Ty is also have to deal with a cyber stalker who's targeted Sister Mary for no apparent reason.

What's best about this book is the dialogue. I really like the one liners that Ty makes, they are more witty and funny than eye rolling. Even when they do fall in the "oh gosh I can't believe he said that" category, Sister Mary and Father Bob are there to bring Ty back to earth. In this book also we get to see another softer side to Ty, one that is finally starting to learn to let go of his past.

This was an excellent ending to the series. Everything I wanted to happen involving certain people happened and not in a fake, mushy way either. I was dreading a drawn out storyline or some overly dramatic romantic plot but luckily neither happened. I will say that if you have NOT read the other two books in the series, I highly recommend reading them before this book. While the main story lines are standalone, there are many things that tie the books together and there are relationships and character developments that will make more sense if you read the books in order.

Again, my one qualm with the book is the short chapters. I just feel like they break up the story too much and makes the plot feel very choppy. Other than this, I really enjoyed reading this book. I have been pleased with the whole series and have always been a fan of Bell's books. As I've said with the other two books in the series, these are great reads to give to reluctant male readers as it's filled with lots of action and suspense. Definitely one of my favorite law reads of the year.

Try Fear by James Scott Bell is published by Center Street (2009)

This ARC was provided by the publisher

The Sheriff's Surrender by Susan Page Davis

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

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

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

The Sheriff’s Surrender

Barbour Books (December 1, 2009)

***Special thanks to Angie Brillhart of Barbour Publishing for sending me a review copy.***


Award-winning author Susan Page Davis is a mother of six who lives in Maine with her husband, Jim. She worked as a newspaper correspondent for more than twenty-five years in addition to home-schooling her children. She writes historical romances and cozy mysteries and is a member of ACFW. Visit her Web site at

Visit the author's website.


Fergus, Idaho

May 1885

Gert Dooley aimed at the scrap of red calico and squeezed the trigger. The Spencer rifle she held cracked, and the red cloth fifty yards away shivered.

“I’d say your shooting piece is in fine order.” She lowered the rifle and passed it to the owner, Cyrus Fennel. She didn’t particularly like Fennel, but he always paid her brother, the only gunsmith in Fergus, with hard money.

He nodded. “Thank you, Miss Dooley.” He shoved his hand into his pocket.

Gert knew he was fishing out a coin. This was the part her brother hated most—taking payment for his work. She turned away. Hiram would be embarrassed enough without her watching. She picked up the shawl she had let fall to the grass a few minutes earlier.

“That’s mighty fine shooting, Gert,” said Hiram’s friend, rancher Ethan Chapman. He’d come by earlier to see if Hiram would help him string a fence the next day. When Cyrus Fennel had arrived to pick up his repaired rifle, Ethan had sat down on the chopping block to watch Gert demonstrate the gun.

“Thank you kindly.” Gert accepted praise for shooting as a matter of course. Now, if Ethan had remarked that she looked fine today or some such pretty thing, she’d have been flustered. But he would never say anything like that. And shooting was just work.

Fennel levered the rifle’s action open and peered at the firing pin. “Looks good as new. I should be able to pick off those rats that are getting in my grain bins.”

“That’s quite a cannon for shooting rats,” Gert said.

Ethan stood and rested one foot on the chopping block, leaning forward with one arm on his knee. “You ought to hire Gert to shoot them for you.”

Gert scowled. “Why’d I want to do that? He can shoot his own rats.”

Hiram, who had pocketed his pay as quickly as possible, moved the straw he chewed from one side of his mouth to the other. He never talked much. Men brought him their firearms to fix. Hiram listened to them tell him what the trouble was while eyeing the piece keenly. Then he’d look at Gert. She would tell them, “Come back next week.” Hiram would nod, and that was the extent of the conversation. Since his wife, Violet, had died eight years ago, the only person Hiram seemed to talk to much was Ethan.

Fennel turned toward her with a condescending smile. “Folks say you’re the best shot in Fergus, Miss Dooley.”

Gert shrugged. It wasn’t worth debating. She had sharp eyes, and she’d fired so many guns for Hiram to make sure they were in working order that she’d gotten good at it, that was all.

Ethan’s features, however, sprang to life. “Ain’t it the truth? Why, Gert can shoot the tail feathers off a jay at a hundred yards with a gun like that. Mighty fine rifle.” He nodded at Fennel’s Spencer, wincing as though he regretted not having a gun as fine.

“Well, now, I’m a fair shot myself,” Fennel said. “I could maybe hit that rag, too.”

“Let’s see you do it,” Ethan said.

Fennel jacked a cartridge into the Spencer, smiling as he did. The rag still hung limp from a notched stick and was silhouetted against the distant dirt bank across the field. He put his left foot forward and swung the butt of the stock up to his shoulder, paused motionless for a second, and pulled the trigger.

Gert watched the cloth, not the shooter. The stick shattered just at the bottom of the rag. She frowned. She’d have to find another stick next time. At least when she tested a gun, she clipped the edge of the cloth so her stand could be used again.

Hiram took the straw out of his mouth and threw it on the ground. Without a word, he strode to where the tattered red cloth lay a couple of yards from the splintered stick and brought the scrap back. He stooped for a piece of firewood from the pile he’d made before Fennel showed up. The stick he chose had split raggedly, and Hiram slid the bit of cloth into a crack.

Ethan stood beside Gert as they watched Hiram walk across the field, all the way to the dirt bank, and set the piece of firewood on end.

“Hmm.” Fennel cleared his throat and loaded several cartridges into the magazine. When Hiram was back beside them, he raised the gun again, held for a second, and fired. The stick with the bit of red stood unwavering.

“Let Gert try,” Ethan said.

“No need,” she said, looking down at her worn shoe tips peeping out beneath the hem of her skirt.

“Oh, come on.” Ethan’s coaxing smile tempted her.

Fennel held the rifle out. “Be my guest.”

Gert looked to her brother. Hiram gave the slightest nod then looked up at the sky, tracking the late afternoon sun as it slipped behind a cloud. She could do it, of course. She’d been firing guns for Hiram for ten years—since she came to Fergus and found him grieving the loss of his wife and baby. Folks had brought him more work than he could handle. They felt sorry for him, she supposed, and wanted to give him a distraction. Gert had begun test firing the guns as fast as he could fix them. She found it satisfying, and she’d kept doing it ever since. Thousands upon thousands of rounds she’d fired, from every type of small firearm, unintentionally building herself a reputation of sorts.

She didn’t usually make a show of her shooting prowess, but Fennel rubbed her the wrong way. She knew he wasn’t Hiram’s favorite patron either. He ran the Wells Fargo office now, but back when he ran the assay office, he’d bought up a lot of failed mines and grassland cheap. He owned a great deal of land around Fergus, including the spread Hiram had hoped to buy when he first came to Idaho. Distracted by his wife’s illness, Hiram hadn’t moved quickly enough to file claim on the land and had missed out. Instead of the ranch he’d wanted, he lived on his small lot in town and got by on his sporadic pay as a gunsmith.

Gert let her shawl slip from her fingers to the grass once more and took the rifle. As she focused on the distant stick of firewood, she thought, That junk of wood is you, Mr. Rich Land Stealer. And that little piece of cloth is one of your rats.

She squeezed gently. The rifle recoiled against her shoulder, and the far stick of firewood jumped into the air then fell to earth, minus the red cloth.

“Well, I’ll be.” Fennel stared at her. “Are you always this accurate?”

“You ain’t seen nothing,” Ethan assured him.

Hiram actually cracked a smile, and Gert felt the blood rush to her cheeks even though Ethan hadn’t directly complimented her. She loved to see Hiram smile, something he seldom did.

“Mind sharing your secret, Miss Dooley?” Fennel asked.

Ethan chuckled. “I’ll tell you what it is. Every time she shoots, she pretends she’s aiming at something she really hates.”

“Aha.” Fennel smiled, too. “Might I ask what you were thinking of that time, ma’am?”

Gert’s mouth went dry. Never had she been so sorely tempted to tell a lie.

“Likely it was that coyote that kilt her rooster last month,” Hiram said.

Gert stared at him. He’d actually spoken. She knew when their eyes met that her brother had known exactly what she’d been thinking.

Ethan and Fennel both chuckled.

Of course, I wouldn’t really think of killing him, Gert thought, even though he stole the land right out from under my grieving brother. The Good Book says don’t kill and don’t hate. Determined to heap coals of fire on her adversary’s head, she handed the Spencer back to him. “You’re not too bad a shot yourself, Mr. Fennel.”

His posture relaxed, and he opened his mouth all smiley, like he might say something pleasant back, but suddenly he stiffened. His eyes focused beyond Gert, toward the dirt street. “Who is that?”

Gert swung around to look as Ethan answered. “That’s Millicent Peart.”

“Don’t think I’ve seen her since last fall.” Fennel shook his head. “She sure is showing her age.”

“I don’t think Milzie came into town much over the winter,” Gert said.

For a moment, they watched the stooped figure hobble along the dirt street toward the emporium. Engulfed in a shapeless old coat, Milzie Peart leaned on a stick with each step. Her mouth worked as though she were talking to someone, but no one accompanied her.

“How long since her man passed on?” Ethan asked.

“Long time,” Gert said. “Ten years, maybe. She still lives at their cabin out Mountain Road.”

Fennel grimaced as the next house hid the retreating figure from view. “Pitiful.”

Ethan shrugged. “She’s kinda crazy, but I reckon she likes living on their homestead.”

Gert wondered how Milzie got by. It must be lonesome to have no one, not even a nearly silent brother, to talk to out there in the foothills.

“Supper in half an hour.” She turned away from the men and headed for the back porch of the little house she shared with Hiram. She hoped Fennel would take the hint and leave. And she hoped Ethan would stay for supper, but of course she would never say so.