Friday, September 30, 2011
Zack McLaren seems to have it all, but the girl he can’t stop thinking about won’t give him a second glance. If only she’d pay him the same attention she lavishes on his dog.
Moving to North London, Ellie meets neighbour Roo who has a secret of her own. Can the girls sort out their lives? Guilt is a powerful emotion, but a lot can happen in a year in Primrose Hill...
Ever since I discovered Jill Mansell's books a few years ago, I cannot get enough of her. I love her style of writing. I love how she makes you get invested in her characters and you fall in love with everyone and want to know their story. That's just what she does in her newest book with Ellie, a young widow who is finally beginning to start her life over after her husband tragically died. I really liked Ellie's character. I understand her grief and even though she talks to her dead husband, she still allows herself to live. She doesn't halt her life and stay inside all the time. There was some miscommunication with Zack that I felt could have been avoided but overall I really loved seeing her blossom throughout the book.
I was a bit annoyed with Roo in the beginning because she refused to see what a lout the guy she was seeing with was. It's classic denial when one partner is cheating on their spouse with another. Even with all the evidence that was pointed out to her, she kept defending the jerk. It wasn't until something happens to her that she finally sees the truth. The results afterwards were rather entertaining and a bit cringe-worthy as well.
The only thing that I would change was that I wished there had been more on Tony and Martha's relationship. I felt like they were missing from pretty much the last half of the story. I understand that the focus of the book is mainly on Ellie with some parts on Roo. However, I really liked reading about Tony and Martha's relationship and was dying to know how it turned out and I didn't find out until the epilogue. Something that was interesting is that the issue they were struggling with was actually in the news recently involving a certain famous televangelist and I was interested to see what their actions would be in handling it.
This book is a bit sadder than most of Mansell's other books. Throughout the story, Ellie still mourns her late husband. She is able to move on but it's very obvious that he will always have a place in her heart. I am glad that she was able to find happiness though I will admit from just reading the summary it wasn't who I was expecting it to be with. I'm also glad for Roo as well. If you are a fan of chick lit, women's fiction or anything British, you will definitely enjoy this book. Mansell fans will want to add this to their collection. I am highly looking forward to her next book because I know it's going to be fab, just like how all the rest of them have been.
To the Moon and Back by Jill Mansell is published by Sourcebooks Landmark (2011)
This ARC was provided by the publisher
Thursday, September 29, 2011
I have been waiting a LONG time to read this book it seems. Ever since I finished reading Pamela Ewen's The Moon in the Mango Tree over three years ago, I knew that I would want to read more from her. Well it was worth the very long wait for this book.
I'm going to start off by saying that this book is very difficult to read. If you have problems with abusive male characters in books, you might want to steer clear of this one. There were times when I wanted to put the book down because I couldn't stand what was happening on the page. I also had to flip to the end of the book to see what would happen.
Amalise's character is both weak and strong at the same time. In terms of everything but Phillip she is a very strong female living in the 1970s. She's finishing up law school and then gets a summer clerk position in a law firm before finally getting her first job as a lawyer. She's smart and driven. However for some reason, she's drawn to the sleazeball and can't seem to get away.
I hated Phillip's character. Right from the beginning I knew he was no good and it frustrated me that Amalise could not see it. I realize that love blinds a person but it was just so frustrating for her to realize the signs and still not walk away. What saddened me most was the letter that is shown to Jude from Phillip's parents. It is evident that his parents have no control over Phillip and probably never did when he was growing up. Jude on the other hand is a good guy but not shown as as a perfect angel to make it more realistic.
I normally get annoyed with the type of ending this book has but in this case, I'm so glad that it happened and in that way as well. While this book is also a bit predictable in how the story progressed, I found Ewen's writing to draw me into the story and forget that I knew what was going to happen. Overall, I found this book to be a jarring and eye opening read. Even when we know the truth, we allow ourselves to be deceived and then we pay the consequences for what we have done. You should also never be ashamed to ask for help. Hopefully I won't have to wait as long for another book from Ewen!
Dancing on Glass by Pamela Binnings Ewen is published by B and H Publishing (2011)
This ARC was provided by the publisher
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
How long have you been reading my blog?
4-5 years 21%
2-3 years 46%
1 year or less 21%
This is my first visit! 4%
I was expecting this number. It's only in the past few years that I've really become more involved with the book blogging community outside of the Christian fiction blogosphere.
Where are you from?
Again not surprising. But I am glad for my foreign readers!
How are you reading my blog?
Came straight to website 4%
Through RSS Feed (ie. Google Reader) 50%
Through Email 8%
Link on Twitter, Facebook, GetGlue or other social media network 7 29%
I have no idea how I got here 0%
The majority of readers read the blog through RSS feed which is something I do with other blogs, hence I never actually visit a blog unless I am commenting. This will explain why actual visits to the blog might be low on stats but they make up in terms of subscribers. Links on social media sites are the next biggest tally meaning I should probably most more links on them.
How old are you?
Below 18 0%
Prefer not to answer 0%
Again what I was expecting.
How would you describe yourself?
Industry Professional 13%
People may select more than one checkbox, so percentages may add up to more than 100%.
As the numbers show, I need to realize that I am not blogging for other bloggers. I think that's my biggest fault, the fact that I get anxious when I hear that other bloggers just hit read all in their google reader and not read my posts. I even got a bit depressed when I realized that many of the bloggers I follow on Twitter were not reading my posts (or even my tweets it seems) asking about the survey. But I need to overcome that. Why? Because readers who WANT to read my blog are coming here. People who WANT to learn about the books I read are coming here. Get that in your mind, Deborah!
Do you Read Christian Fiction?
Considering the number of Christian fiction books I do read/review, this isn't surprising.
Do you read general market fiction?
This actually surprised me. I am surprised at the numbers of people who do read BOTH markets. I was under the misled impression that many readers of Christian fiction won't touch general market books with a ten foot pole. So I'm pleasantly surprised that my readers ARE interested in books from both markets.
I asked several open ended questions as well. Here is a sample of some of the answers:
If you don't read Christian fiction, why not?
- Previous experiences with Christian fiction turned me off to the genre entirely.
- Not a Christian!
If you don't read general market fiction, why not?
-Strong language, overly sexual, etc.
-I tend to only read general market fiction on the bestseller list. There are just so many books out there and I like to stick to GM books that I can discuss with a lot of people who have read them too.
-I occasionally read gen market, but I prefer not to read foul language and love scenes.
If you read both, why?
-I'm happy to read whatever I enjoy and take up books based on their individual merits after reading descriptions / recommendations. I don't really care where they come from, what genre they are, or whether they are considered Christian or not.
-I *have* to have both, a good mixture.
-A good story transcends labels.
-I love the faith perspective of CF, but I also like to know what's going on outside of evangelical culture--what the average American is interested in--and reading from the bestseller list is a great way to do that.
Then I also asked what readers would like to see more on my blog:
-Maybe more movie reviews?
-Respond to comments.
-More posts about book blogging, like the one you did on how Jesus would enter a giveaway. Also posts like the ones you did for Faith n Fiction Saturdays where you talk about different trends/issues in Christian fiction.
-Maybe more info on your life. Book reviews are always nice, but I like reading funny or interesting stories that happen in a blogger's life (or even just the mundane events).
-Your editorials! Love them from time to time :)
-I like hearing your thoughts on the industry. Blogging advice?
-I always enjoy your posts about your library finds. I've read several of the books now. :)
-I'm not sure if you do this or not, but I would like to at a glance know if the book is Christian fiction, YA or whatever. That would determine if I read the review more closely or not.
And less of on the blog?
- Amish fiction. Not that there's anything wrong with liking a genre (I LOVE Regency category romances myself, talk about predictable!) but it seems that these books are the same thing dressed in different clothes.
-Author interviews and reviews of historical romances. (Deborah: Ok this confused me because I don't do many author interviews in the first place, maybe 2 a year at the absolute most.)
Sooooooo, I've been thinking about this and taken into consideration these suggestions and I've come up with several new things I will do on the blog.
1) Regarding movie reviews: I only review movies I've seen in theaters. Due to less funds and also a lack of movies I am dying to see in theaters, reviews on those have trickled down. I really do need to review Harry Potter DHII. It's becoming less vivid in my mind. If/when I do go see more, they will go up. I actually don't even really watch many movies on DVD lately TBH.
2)Respond to comments - a HUGE one that I am guilty of not doing. Half the time I don't is because I feel like the person who leaves the comments never comes back to respond. But I will be better about doing this in the future!
3) More info on your life - This one probably won't happen. I try to keep my personal life out of my blog and I also really can't talk about stuff I do at work. This is mainly a book review blog so unless I am dying to talk about something, I try to keep my personal stuff out of it.
4) Library finds - I have to admit that I haven't gone to the library lately. Too many books at home that needs to be read! However, when I do get more, I will be posting My Library Reads.
5) Categorizing books on review - This is something I need to do. I have things already categorized in my review database but I can try to add that to the reviews as well.
5) More posts on book blog, the industry, your editorials - Well, since you asked...
I'm going to be having a new feature on my blog where I will post about my feelings on certain subjects. Caution: these aren't going to be happy, positive posts where I gleefully declare my love for something. Quite the opposite. In fact, I will be probably be writing against what the majority of the people who enjoy such stuff. And I will call my new feature:
That's right. Debbie Downer posts will take a popular trend in book blogging, book industry, or anything else I feel like and I will inject my witty sarcasm and humor and somewhat rant/complain/moan/groan in a coherent and intellectual way.
Possible topics covered by Debbie Downer:
- Amish fiction
- Passion in Christian romance (and the movement AGAINST it)
- Lack of multiculturalism in Christian fiction
- Book covers in Christian fiction
- Preaching in stories
- Authors who host contests for Amazon reviews
- Authors who don't do research before writing a YA book
- Book blogger programs
- Google Friend Connect
- Positive, encouraging, kid friendly radio stations
I don't know how frequent this feature will be but I can guarantee that I will probably have a lot of fun writing the feature and seeing how many heads I will spin. If there are any topics you would like me to consider covering, leave a comment or shoot me a email.
Thanks to everyone who completed the survey. It really meant a lot to know what my readers are thinking and I appreciate all the comments. As you can see, I plan on taking those suggestions and putting them to good use. Here's to another 5 more years of book blogging!
Oh and the most important question of all:
Are you a Star Wars fan?
I am just as obsessed as you are 13%
Only the untouched original trilogies (Han shot first!) 17%
I don't mind watching one or two but I'm not a die hard fan like you 58%
What's Star Wars? 13%
Well. To the 13% who are Star Wars nerds like me: May the force be with us.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
I was a bit surprised when I started reading this book. I was expecting the book to be heavily focused on quilting since I thought that's how the book was being advertised and was surprised that it wasn't. There is focus on Amish at the end of the book where you can make a quilt with patterns and instructions from all three books. However the main focus of the story deals with three women who are both Amish and lifelong friends. This story deals with Amelia and the hard decisions she has to make when dealing with her health.
In terms of religion, this book didn't have much that upset me regarding the theology about the Amish except for the medical issue. I understand it's their right, but not even being allowed to have crowns on your teeth? One would honestly consider pulling out all their teeth instead of having a minor fix? Also the issue of not being allowed organ transplants is a big issue. I wonder if they have the same policy for children as they do adults. The medical issue is a big deal in the book since Amelia has to struggle with what she is going to do when she thinks she has multiple sclerosis. One other thing that did bug me a little was that the bishop and deacons blamed her for the cause of the strife within the men regarding the selling of her store. Why on earth is it her fault? The men were the ones who were competing against each other.
Also interesting is Emma's view on faith. She has a bit of a disagreement with Amelia regarding certain issues and from what I could tell, Emma doesn't seem to believe everything about the Amish faith. It will be interesting when her book rolls around to get the full perspective. Romance is present in the book but it doesn't play a huge role in the story like other Amish books.
Overall, I enjoyed the book. The beginning was a bit hard to get into and I was confused at first regarding the three friends and telling them apart from each other. However, once I got into the story I found myself enjoying it and wondering which direction Amelia was going to take. I didn't find it to be preachy like other Amish books though I will admit that their simplicity did irk me a bit at times. It's interesting enough to where I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.
The Wounded Heart by Adina Senft is published by Faithwords (2011)
This ARC was provided by the publisher
I'm able to give away one copy of this book provided by the publisher. To enter, you must fill out the form below. This contest is open to US and Canada entrants only, no PO Boxes. Winner will be picked Tuesday October 4.
PLEASE use the form only to enter the contest. For any comments about the book, review, etc. please use the comments link at the bottom of the post. All information must be filled out correctly or else your entry will not count. (ie. you must use FULL name and list your mailing address). Your info will only be used for this contest and will be deleted after the contest is over.
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
Thomas Nelson (August 30, 2011)
Kim Cash Tate was born and raised in the Washington, D.C. area. Her mother, a manager with AT&T, and her father, an educator, divorced when she was young. Even after the divorce, one thing her parents agreed on was the importance of education. She attended both public and private Catholic schools, and college was a given. Tate chose the University of Maryland.
After completing her undergraduate degree, she distinguished herself as a law student at George Washington University. She was invited to join the Journal staff, and a summer job at a respected law firm in her beloved Washington, D.C. followed by a one-year clerkship with a federal judge in Madison.
Tate’s law career took off in Madison. Once the clerkship ended, she was hired on at a large firm. In spite of her success, she was plagued by constant feelings of discontentment and loneliness for the racially diverse environment she left behind in D.C. She began seeking faith, simply as a means of maintaining sanity. After she and Bill married, the couple began attending a local AME church, and they both felt Jesus calling.
When her children were young, Tate left her thriving law career to stay home. A passionate and persuasive communicator, she tried her hand at writing. More Christian than African-American shares her story of finding her identity in Christ rather than in her race, which had been a major focus for her. Her first novel was Heavenly Places, followed by Faithful and her newest release, Cherished. Tate was a speaker for Women of Faith in both 2010 and 2011.
Visit the author's website.
As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Kim Cash Tate explores Psalm 103:12 as she takes her readers down the path to God’s forgiveness and reconciliation in her newest novel, Cherished. Readers will discover that God can still use them in spite of their worst choices. And He doesn’t just forgive them, but they are truly cherished!
Tate’s story will show her readers how God can bring beauty from ashes. She has a unique way of weaving her characters’ lives together, leading back to one great point—God’s tremendous mercy and grace. In the words of one of her characters, “I wasn’t sure what to expect. I felt like it would take a while to work my way back into God’s good graces, but it was like…”—she flung wide her arms—“…He just embraced me.” We too can be embraced by the same great love when we learn that true forgiveness for ALL of our sins is right before us.
Growing up in Saint Louis, Kelli London dreamed of becoming a songwriter and glorifying God with her songs of praise. But after falling into sin, she walks away from her dreams. Heather Anderson’s life has spun out of control—first an affair with a married man and then a one-night stand with the drummer of a popular Christian band. Broken and alone, she discovers the only one who can save her. Brian Howard grew up as a science geek. But after making the worst mistake of his life after high school, he finds forgiveness in Christ and is being led down a completely different path. Now he must choose whether to continue pursuing his PhD in biochemistry or to become a full time Christian rapper.
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
But it was the song Cedric had asked her to sing, one he’d heard only by chance. He had no idea what it meant to her. He didn’t know that singing it would unleash memories of the last person she ever wanted to think about.
Laughter rose from the pews, and Kelli looked up, wondering what she’d missed.
“. . . and I’m sure Cedric wants me to get to the vows ASAP,” Pastor Lyles was saying, “so they can get to that kiss they’ve been waiting for.”
Kelli had only met the pastor once before, at her brother Lindell’s wedding last fall, but it didn’t take long to love his spirit and his style. A black man in his late fifties, he’d started Living Word Community Church decades ago and watched it grow into a multi-ethnic megachurch. At least a couple hundred members were here today. Kelli guessed none of them thought twice about the various hues and accents that had gathered to see this black couple wed. She loved that spirit too.
Cedric was shaking his head with a shamefaced grin as the pastor called him out. Cyd was smiling up at him, gorgeous, beaming like the bright light she’d become in Cedric’s life.
Pastor Lyles continued. “But I don’t think he’ll mind one last song, and it’s a special one, written by his sister.”
Kelli drew a deep breath as Cedric and Cyd smiled over at her, Lindell and Stephanie too—the flip side of last fall. Then Stephanie and Lindell were the bride and groom, and Cyd and Cedric were maid of honor and best man, which was how they met. Kelli loved the story, how Cyd turned forty on her younger sister’s wedding day, thinking she’d never marry herself. Now here she was—a June bride. It was romantic that her brothers would now be married to sisters, but it somehow added to her melancholy, that each of them had found the love of his life.
Kelli gazed at the piano keys, and knowing they had to, her fingers tapped the first notes. She fought to stay in the moment, in the church. Her eyes swept Cyd and Cedric, imagined the lyrics were just for them . . .
I will love you till the stars don’t shine
And I will love you till the oceans run dry
I will love you till you know every why
I will, I will
Her eyes closed, and he was there. A shiver of remembrance danced down her arms. She could still see that distant look in his eyes, could even hear him, that tone of indifference that echoed forever in her head. Kelli opened her eyes to capture another image—any image—but he was everywhere now. And her heart allowed itself to be crushed all over again.
I will love you like an endless stream
A million miles won’t take your heart from me
I will love you every breath you breathe
I will, I will
Almost to the bridge, Kelli could feel her emotions cresting with the song. She closed her eyes again as they took over, filling her voice, magnifying her range, powering her through. She played the final chords with the salt of tears on her lips and bowed her head at the last note . . . and heard—applause? She looked out and saw the guests on their feet and Cedric and Cyd fully turned, facing her—Cyd wiping tears from her cheeks. With her own anxiety about singing it, Kelli hadn’t given thought to whether people might actually like the song.
She pulled a tissue from the box atop the piano, dabbed her cheeks, and blew her nose, then muscled a heart-heavy smile to acknowledge everyone’s kindness. When she moved back to the front pew beside her mother, only then did the guests stop clapping and sit.
“When did you write that?” her mother asked, patting her thigh. “That was beautiful.”
“Thanks, Mom. I wrote it . . . a long time ago.”
She turned her gaze to the ceremony, her heart beating a little faster still, puzzled by the response to the song. It coaxed a different memory to the surface, and as Cyd and Cedric exchanged vows, Kelli thought about her long-ago dream of writing music that God would somehow use. Then the better part of her brain kicked in,
reminding her that she’d left songwriting behind, that she knew better than to dream.
That all those dreams had turned to dust.
“Kelli! Girrrl . . .”
Kelli looked up—midpivot in the Electric Slide—and saw Stephanie threading her way through the line dancers in her champagne-colored dress. Soon as the song started, it seemed everybody left tables and mingled to claim a spot on the parquet floor. Kelli waved her sister-in-law over.
“I’ve been looking for you.” Stephanie scooted between Kelli and Devin, a nine-year-old cousin, as rows of people sidestepped to the right. “I haven’t had a chance to tell you . . . girl, you sang that song. I had no idea—hold up, am I doing this right?” She was headed a different direction from everyone else. “Why am I even
out here? I hate this stupid dance.”
Kelli laughed. “Back, Steph. We’re going back.”
“Oh.” Stephanie checked Devin to get in sync, then leaned her head Kelli’s way again, her voice elevated. “Anyway, I told Lindell I couldn’t believe he didn’t tell me about that song, ’cause I would’ve had you sing it at our wedding. And he said he’d never heard it . . . and then I couldn’t believe that.”
“I know. Crazy, right? This way, Steph. Pivot left.”
Stephanie was behind her now, and Kelli turned to make sure she was following, but Devin had it under control.
Like a traffic cop, he moved his hands left, then right to direct her which way to go next. “And pivot,” he announced, to the amusement of those around them.
Side by side with Stephanie again, Kelli continued. “Lindell and Cedric had already moved out of the house by the time I started writing songs in high school, so it was easy to kind of keep my music to myself.” She shrugged. “Cedric overheard it because I didn’t know he was there.”
“Hmph,” Stephanie said. “If I had that kind of talent, everybody would know about it. They’d have to tell me to be quiet.”
The music switched, and they could hear people near the center of the floor cheering, “Go, Cyd! Go, Cedric! Go, Cyd! Go, Cedric!”
Kelli and Stephanie craned their necks, moving toward the action.
“Oh, goodness,” Stephanie said, laughing. “Look at your brother. He’s at it again.”
Kelli laughed too, remembering Cedric and Cyd on the dance floor at Stephanie and Lindell’s reception. Now the two had cut a wide swath in the middle of the floor with a different line dance, this one a little livelier.
Kelli and Stephanie worked their way to a spot in the inner circle.
“Have you seen this version?” Stephanie asked.
Kelli nodded. “But you know Cedric’s gonna add his own twist.”
Instead of a simple sidestep, Cedric led Cyd in bouncy moves to the left, with a slide before going right. And instead of a normal pivot, they did some kind of kick, kick, turn—with Cedric twirling Cyd into a two-step before moving back to the line dance, all of it seamless. The crowd was fired up.
After a couple of rounds, Cedric spotted Kelli and pulled her to the center.
“I don’t know if you can hang with a twenty-five-year-old, big brother.” Although Cedric was a fit forty-two, Kelli didn’t miss an opportunity to tease him about his age. “I’d hate to embarrass you in front of your guests.”
“Oh, you got jokes? We’ll see about that, baby sis.”
Cyd led the cheers this time as Kelli whipped some different moves on him. Cedric paused, then mimicked every last one to let her know she couldn’t show him up. Lindell dragged Stephanie out there—literally—and Kelli was in stitches watching them try to copy what she and Cedric were doing. Soon everyone on the
floor had joined in again, and then the music switched to Motown, which got its own cheers.
Cedric draped one arm around Kelli and the other around Cyd and led them off the floor. They stopped at the bridal party table, which had emptied of all but Dana, one of Cyd’s bridesmaids.
“Why aren’t you on the dance floor?” Cedric asked. “We need all the forty-and-over folk representing.”
Dana glared at him. “Let’s see how well you ‘represent’ with some heels on. My feet are killing me.” Then she nodded toward the dance floor. “My husband left me. He’s out there with the kids. And last I saw, Scott wasn’t representing too well either. He looked almost as bad as Stephanie with that Electric Slide.”
“I heard that, Dana,” Stephanie said, walking up with Lindell. “I could learn the dumb dance if I cared to. And since you’re trying to clown me, I might do it just to keep my black rhythm points. Can’t have a white guy showing me up.”
Dana got a kick out of that, laughing as auburn wisps fell about her face. “How about a white girl? Let’s tell the deejay to play it again and see who’s got it.”
Stephanie eased into a seat. “Uh, no thanks. I always told you, you’re one of those black white girls. You can go on the dance floor.”
Dana eyed the dancers out there. “Well, pray for Mackenzie. I think the poor thing takes after Scott. Look at them.”
Kelli’s heart was smiling. Because she lived out of state, she didn’t know these women well—not even her sisters-in-law—but from her brief interactions, including last night’s rehearsal dinner, she could tell she would like them.
Cyd pulled out a chair and sat, her beautiful gown, passed down from her mother, swishing over the sides. “Ahh . . . think I can get away with sitting like this for maybe five minutes?”
Cedric massaged her shoulders. “You’re good. The Jackson Five’s got everybody occupied.”
Dana touched Kelli’s arm. “The bridal table was talking about you earlier.”
“Me? Why?” Kelli took a seat.
“Are you kidding? That song. It was beautiful.”
Kelli blushed. “Thank you.”
“That’s my little sister.” Cedric beamed.
“Mine too!” Lindell said, giving her shoulder a squeeze. “So proud of you, girl.” He looked at the others. “Just got her master’s too, from UT–Austin.”
“I heard,” Dana said. “Is your degree in music?”
Kelli shook her head. “One’s in communications and the other’s in public relations.”
“Wow, two?” Dana nodded. “That’s awesome.”
“Well . . . not really. Just means I didn’t know what I wanted to do.” Kelli didn’t mind admitting it. “But I’m done being a professional student. I’m looking for a job now—”
“—in Texas.” Cedric’s tone made clear what he thought of that. “What part of Texas?” Stephanie asked. “Are you trying to stay in Austin?”
“I’ve been looking at possibilities in Austin and Houston . . .and Dallas.”
“Mostly Dallas, I’d bet,” Cedric said. “That’s where her boyfriend is.” He looked around playfully. “Where is he anyway? I wanted to meet him, see if he measures up. What’s his name? Miller?”
Kelli smirked at her big brother. “Miles. Miles Reed. He wanted to meet you all too, but he had a conflict.”
“I’m sure we’ll get another opportunity,” Cedric said, “if I can get you to move back to St. Louis.”
Cyd perked up. “Ooh, Kelli, I’d love that. Any chance?”
“I . . . doubt it.” Kelli hedged to be polite; her mind had said a fast no. She hadn’t lived in St. Louis since she left for college, and the distance had been good. Her mother had relocated to Little Rock to care for her mother, so Kelli had gone there on school breaks.
“How’s the job market in Texas?” Cedric asked. “Improved any?”
Cedric knew the answer perfectly well. He was a VP at a head-hunting firm. He’d made some calls for her, but nothing had materialized.
“Not exactly,” Kelli admitted. “I’ve been looking since early in the year, and, well . . . it’s nearing the end of June.”
Lindell rubbed his chin. “I’m thinking you can be unemployed in St. Louis just as well as in Austin.”
Cedric gave a big nod to his brother. “Better than in Austin. In St. Louis, you can be unemployed and hang out with your brothers.”
Cyd raised a hand. “And sisters. Don’t forget about us.”
“All of us,” Dana said. “We’d love to plug you into Daughters’ Fellowship.”
“What’s that?” Kelli asked.
“It started years ago with Dana, Phyllis, and me.” Cyd pointed toward the dance floor at her other bridesmaid. “Real informal. We’d do potluck and talk about—sometimes cry about—what God was doing in our lives. Stephanie crashed the party last year.” Cyd smiled at her younger sister. “It’s evolved into kind of a Bible study/gabfest.”
“Emphasis on gab,” Cedric said. “Amazing how two hours can turn into five—every single time. You’d think you’d run out of things to talk about.”
“Now, now, brother,” Lindell said, “don’t exaggerate. I think it was four and a half hours last time.”
Cedric and Lindell shared a laugh as the women pounced.
“We’re praying too, you know,” Dana said. “Getting that fuel we need to be the best we can be.”
“Lindell knows.” Stephanie gave him the eye. “I left the house with an attitude before that last meeting. Came back changed. Didn’t I?”
Lindell threw up his hands. “Hey, I’m not complaining. I might be the biggest DF fan at the table. Stephanie’s not the same woman I married.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Babe, that’s a good thing! I’m just sayin’.”
Kelli laughed as Lindell backpedaled. For years her brothers had been busy with their careers, living the bachelor life. Hadn’t occurred to them or her that they should live near one another, be a part of each other's lives. But now they were both settled down, with wives Kelli would love to know better. She’d always wanted sisters. And it was strange that she, Cyd, and Stephanie kind of looked alike—all of them tall with honey brown skin and long brown hair.
And Daughters’ Fellowship sounded great. Her own relationship with God wasn’t where it should be. She’d known that for some time. Just wasn’t sure how to get it back on the right track. The thought of getting together with these women, talking and learning from them, felt like water to her parched soul.
If only it were in another city . . .
Kelli sighed as she looked around the table at the laughter, the ribbing, the love. Did she really want to stay in Austin, away from all of this?
And what about Miles? They’d been dating almost a year. Although he’d graduated from UT–Austin last December and moved back to Dallas, the distance didn’t seem so great with them both in Texas. Still, they were already several hours apart. Would a few more make a huge difference?
Kelli looked up as her mother stopped at their table.
“Hey, it’s my gorgeous mother,” Cedric said, placing an arm around her.
“No, it’s my gorgeous mother,” Lindell said, hugging her other side.
Francine London glowed with pride. “You boys are something else,” she said. “And I didn’t come to see y’all. I came to see how my daughters-in-law are doing.”
“Oh, it’s like that now?” Cedric asked. “I get married, and I get kicked to the curb?”
Francine laughed, keeping her arms around her sons’ waists. “I’m wondering what’s gonna happen when you all start having my grandchildren. I’m not gonna like being all the way in Little Rock.”
“You need to move back too,” Lindell said.
Francine dismissed it with a shake of the head. “Your grandmother’s not doing well, can’t get around, so we’re better off staying put.”
“Well, help us convince your daughter to move back,” Cedric said. “We’ve been working on her.”
Francine looked at Kelli, nodding. “I was thinking about that today, how nice it would be if you could be around your brothers and their wives. You know I’m big on family.”
“Yes, I know, Mom.” Kelli cut them off at the pass. “So . . . which one of you would be willing to let your little sister move in?”
Monday, September 26, 2011
During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.
It was quite hard for me to NOT compare this book with The Hunger Games or Tris with Katniss while I was reading this book. I'm not trying to do the whole "every YA book goes back to Twilight" sort of deal but in this case it was hard not to think of THG the whole time. Both stories take place in a dystopian world and both have female leads who are put in excruciating circumstances and must rise out of them. That's pretty much all the similarities that both books share but I feel like THG has set the standard for dystopian YA.
It actually took me a while to get into the story. I found Tris to be quite unlikable for the first half. She seemed rude, whiny and selfish in the first half of the book. I felt a bit lost in the beginning trying to figure out who everyone was and what all the factions stood for. It wasn't until the second half of the story when I really got sucked in, started to really like Tris and then got hooked into their world. I don't think that I could have done what Tris or any of the teens her age had to go through as they potentially gave up their lives to find themselves in a new faction.
I will admit that I thought that the romantic subplot that Tris is involved in would include another guy than the one she ended up with. I am glad that I guessed wrongly but I will admit that I was rather surprised that it didn't go that way. That being said, I really enjoyed the romance that is in the story because it's subtle yet filled with tension. I was very excited for the couple. There are some religious overtones in the book. The Abnegation faction seems to represent a form of Christianity or other organized religion. If you are looking for it, you will find it. However, it's blended carefully into the story and therefore can be easily overlooked. I found this book to be quite violent especially since it involves teens. Those who are in Dauntless are taught to fight and without mercy. There are many who would do anything to get to the top and that means hurting each other to do so. I nearly gagged at one character being stabbed in the eye and others are constantly being punched, kicked and beat up throughout their training.
Overall, I found myself enjoying the book. What I really like about these dystopian novels is that there's so much more to the story than what appears on the surface. One can dig deep to find all the hidden meanings that the author is trying to say. I really like the fact that female leads are getting a lot of attention. Tris started off unlikable but now I find that I want to root for her in her future quest. And speaking of future quests, I can't wait to read the next book in the series. I want to know what happens next!
Divergent by Veronica Roth is published by Katherine Tegen Books (2011)
This ARC was provided by the publisher
The Last Blind Date by Linda Yellin
Tris & Izzie by Mette Ivie Harrison
Survivors by James Wesley Rawles
Wishes and Stitches by Rachael Herron
Falling Together by Marisa de los Santos
Finding Our Way Home by Charlene Ann Baumbich
The Color of Rain by Michael & Gina Spehn
House of Secrets by Tracie Peterson
The Baker's Wife by Erin Healy
Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin
The Measure of Katie Calloway by Serena Miller
A Necessary Deception by Laurie Alice Eakes
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Since I have enjoyed most of Julie Lessman's other books, including the first book in this series, I really tried to give this book a chance. I got about halfway and then I had to quit. I had gotten so irritated and annoyed that I couldn't finish. It takes a great deal to stop me from reading a book and I'm really sad that I just couldn't finish this one.
There were several things that bothered me about the book. I'm trying to figure out if it's just the romance genre in general that I am getting annoyed with or the storyline. The overall plot is very interesting and since I didn't finish the book I had to ask someone to tell me what happened. I feel like everyone involved in this story needs counseling. Unfortunately during the 1930s that was not an option.
It really annoyed me at how many times throughout the book men would get angry at their wives and then immediately after the argument is over, he would get horny. And then they needed to have sex because all of a sudden he wants her because she fought back. And then she'd give in! This sounds so barbaric!
Also there's a male character that keeps getting propositioned by a younger, engaged female. No matter how many times he tries to avoid her advances, she keeps coming on to him causing him to lose his job. She continues to pursue him even at the expense of breaking her engagement. He is very uncomfortable being around her. What bothers me is that other people seem to think that he needs to be nice to her and just be polite. If the roles were reversed, this would be sexual harassment and the guy would get arrested or worse. But because a girl is doing this, it's totally ok it seems even though she's literally throwing herself on him.
Something to note: I am NOT against any of the "passion-filled" scenes in this book that a lot of other readers seem to have issues with. In fact, I am totally for them and it is one of the highlights of the book. I do not understand why so many Christians have a problem with seeing a husband and wife so in love with each other but that's another discussion for another day.
One more aggravating issue: it's been mentioned MANY times throughout this book and the series that Emma has scars for burns on her face. Yet look at that cover model? Unless they are on the far side of her cheeks that are not facing the cover, she has a smooth face. Another disappointment that only pretty women on covers sells books.
Even though I couldn't finish this book, I am sure that many other fans of Lessman's books will enjoy this one. I've noticed that there are many 5 star reviews for this book and more power to them. The only low star review I've seen complains about the sex which again that is the one issue I had no problems with. Since I didn't finish this book, I probably will not be picking up anymore books in the series. However as a whole, I do enjoy Lessman's writing so if/when she does start a new series, I will be eager to read that one. This one just wasn't for me.
Here are some other reviews of this book:
My Two Blessings
Window to My World
A Heart Revealed by Julie Lessman is published by Revell (2011)
This review copy was provided by the publisher
Other books in the Winds of Change series that I have reviewed:
A Hope Undaunted (Book 1)
Friday, September 23, 2011
I started these twice-yearly challenges because I thought it would be fun to share my love of reading with other bloggers and to push myself to read some books I might not otherwise read, or to finish some books I had started and then abandoned & stashed under my bed. I thought there were probably others out there who would appreciate the accountability and encouragement that a challenge can provide. And along the way, I discovered there were lots of people who — whether they needed the extra push or not — loved to share what they planned or hoped to read during the upcoming months.I have been doing Katrina's challenges for FIVE years (my first one was just a few days after starting my blog!) and I look forward to them every time. This year I'm doing things a bit differently than how I normally do these challenges. I usually use just my library books for the challenge, either by using what I already had checked out or getting a bunch of new ones specifically for this challenge. However, since one of my reading goals in 2011 was to read less library books in order to read more of my own books, I only have 3 books from the library checked out. Therefore my list for this challenge consists of the review books that I need to read/review from now until 12/21. Reading has slowed down quite a bit since I started working full time earlier this year. And as I learned from the last challenge in the spring, other books WILL come up forcing me to adjust my schedule. It'll be interesting to see how many books I won't be reading that are originally on the list and how many I will be adding.
So that’s the point: sharing some reading goals with all the other participants and doing it in a way that works for you. If you want to push yourself, go for it! Or if you just want to share what you’re hoping to get around to reading before winter, that works too. The most important thing is to read this fall, to enjoy it, and to share that enjoyment with others.
Now...to the list! All 62 books of reading goodness.
To the Moon and Back by Jill Mansell
- Original Sin by Beth McMullen
- The Popularity Rules by Abby McDonald
- If You Were Here by Jen Lancaster
- Here Come the Girls by Milly Johnson
- Fly Away Home by Jennifer Wiener
- Promises, Promises by Erica James
- Love Always by Harriet Evans
The Wounded Heart by Adina Senft Dancing on Glass by Pamela Binnings Ewen Deeply Devoted by Maggie Brendan The Mercy by Beverly Lewis Hello Hollywood by Janice Thompson House of Secrets by Tracie Peterson Kiss of Night by Debbie Viguie A Wedding Invitation by Alice Wisler The Measure of Katie Calloway by Serena Miller Reclaiming Lily by Patti Lacy Love on the Line by Deeanne Gist A Necessary Deception by Laurie Alice Eakes Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin
- Broken Wings by Carla Stewart
- She Makes It Looks Easy by Marybeth Whalen
- Bridge to a Distant Star by Carolyn Williford
- Canary Island Song by Robin Jones Gunn
- The Heiress by Susan May Warren
- A Vision of Lucy by Margaret Brownley
- Nobody's Child by Austin Boyd
- Day of War by Cliff Graham
Falling to Pieces by Vannetta Chapman
- The Opposite of Art by Athol Dickson
- The Christmas Shoppe by Melody Carlson
- Her Sister's Shadow by Katharine Britton
- The Art of Saying Goodbye by Ellyn Bache
- Things We Didn't Say by Kristina Riggle
- Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay
- Alice Bliss by Laura Harrington
- The Girl in the Garden by Kamala Nair
- The Little Women Letters by Gabrielle Donnelley
- Tassy Morgan's Bluff by Jim Stinson
- A Stranger Like You by Elizabeth Brundage
- Best Kept Secret by Amy Havatny
Maman's Homesick Pie by Donia Bijan Holy Ghost Girl by Donna Johnson
- The Most Beautiful Walk in the World by John Baxter
- Turn Right at Machu Picchu by Mark Adams
- Jesus, My Father, the CIA and Me by Ian Morgan Cron
- Season to Taste by Molly Birnbaum
- Forbidden by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee
- You are So Not Smart by David McRaney
- In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson
- The Greatest Music Stories Never Told by Rick Beyer
- Don't Know Much About History by Kenneth C. Davis
Divergent by Veronica Roth
- Salvaged by Stefne Miller
Reasons to be Happy by Katrina Kittle
- Are You Going to Kiss Me Now? by Sloane Tanen
- Rise by Stefne Miller
- Ten Things We Did (and probably shouldn't have) by Sarah Mlynowski
- Shattered by Melody Carlson
- Family by Mical Ostow
- Ingenue by Jillian Larkin
Naomi's story of romantic trial and error and youthful insecurities has universal appeal. Author Amy Clipston artfully paints a panorama of simple lives full of complex relationships, and she carefully explores cultural differences and human similarities, with inspirational results.
I can't believe that it's time to break out the Christmas books already. I mean technically summer JUST ended! I guess it's never too early though to get into the holiday spirit. And if you're into Amish books that have a romance in them this will be the type of combination that you will be looking forward to reading.
I felt horribly bad for Naomi when she tries to strike a friendship with Caleb and everyone keeps lambasting her for chasing the guy. They aren't concerned with her having her heart broken again. No, they are worried about how bad it's going to look for her to keep going after single guys. I was a bit appalled at how worrisome these Amish folks were on what other people were thinking. Caleb seems like a good guy and it's evident that he love his daughter very much. I was pleased to see him stand up to his sister.
I didn't find much Christmas in this story. It takes place in winter and it's around the holiday season but other than a few brief mentions, there's not too much of it in the actual story. I don't even think the Amish really participate in many Christmas-y activities to begin with so it doesn't really feel like there's much holiday joy in the air. Let's just say I didn't get excited for Christmas while reading this book. I also didn't really learn anything new about the Amish either in this book.
If you're into Amish books, you will probably enjoy this story. If you're looking for something to get you in the holiday spirit, this probably isn't the best book for that purpose. As a novella, it's a short story with the sole purpose of having two people come together to find love. Therefore it fulfills it's purpose with an Amish twist to it. If you're into that, you'll be very happy.
Naomi's Gift by Amy Clipston is published by Zondervan (2011)
This review copy was provided for a blog tour with the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
Thursday, September 22, 2011
I never realized the danger that people who work in child protective services face every day. Alison is in danger throughout the book because someone thinks their life was ruined by what she did in protecting a family. Because of the abusive nature of the person they are unable to grasp the fact that they are the ones at fault. Instead they turn all their rage and bitterness on Alison and therefore feel they are justified in making her hurt as much as she has made them. People like Alison are extremely brave because not only do they have to take up the fight for justice but they are also putting themselves at risk to do this.
While I enjoyed the story, I found myself not being a huge fan as I have with Hannon's other books. I think this was due to the fact that the story focused more on romance than with suspense. It's made clear very early in the book that romance will play a key role in the story when Mitch and Alison are set up on a date together. I had read in a previous review about how many times it's noted about how attractive both Mitch and Alison are and I found this to be true throughout the book. It's not really a problem but I guess since it was pointed out to me, I kept constantly seeing it.
Overall, I stated, this probably was not my favorite book of Hannon's. The suspense is very good but I didn't feel as drawn into the characters as I have before. The romance is nice but as I am fan of minimal romance in my romantic suspense, I thought it was a bit too much. Fans of this series will probably enjoy the book more than I did. I still look forward to the next book in the series.
Deadly Pursuit by Irene Hannon is published by Revell (2011)
This review copy was provided by the publisher
Other books in the Guardians of Justice series that I have reviewed:
Fatal Judgment (Book 1)
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
She has seen both these dreams come true.
At last, Tina Fey's story can be told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon — from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence.
Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we've all suspected: you're no one until someone calls you bossy.
Oh my gosh, this was one of the funniest books that I have read all year. I'm a big Tina Fey fan. I loved her on Saturday Night Live and every time Mean Girls or Baby Mama come on TV, I have to sit down and watch. I don't watch 30 Rock but after reading this I might have to give it a go. Tina Fey is probably the most funniest woman there is. And this book showcases her talents to a tee.
I knew that I was going to love this book almost immediately. In the first few pages, Fey references that the reader might know her from Mean Girls, which can probably be found on TBS at that very moment. This was drink spitting hilarious because I swear every time on the TV this is so true!!! It was all uphill from there for me. Page after page, Fey writes essays about her childhood, her teenage years, college, early jobs, marriage, getting into the entertainment business, her days at SNL, her leaving to start 30 Rock, her experience as being Sarah Palin, and what it's like to be a mom. The essays are in chronological order in terms of Fey's life. Sprinkled throughout the book are pictures of Fey throughout the years, some serious, some not but the captions are excellent as well.
One of my favorite essays was her honeymoon trip on a cruise ship that went horribly wrong. Several of my friends had just returned from a cruise trip when I read this book so all I could think about was what if this had happened to them. Also I actually really enjoyed the Sarah Palin chapter because I had always wanted to know what Fey's reaction behind the scenes was really like during that time period.
There are some times when Fey does get serious. She talks about her relationship with her father. There is mention of the slashing incident that caused the scar on her face (which I totally never realized until I read it) which she only brought up to not mention again. Fey also talks about the sexism and prejudice she's had to battle in the workplace. It's starting to no longer be just a man's world in the entertainment industry but it's still hard to get by if you're a woman. While she does crack a lot of jokes and is sarcastic at times, I never felt at any time that she was purposefully insulting anyone.
Overall, I totally loved this book. Fey has shown time and time again, that she is a comic genius and I'm not ashamed to say I'm on the Tina Fey bandwagon. If you are a fan of her or just in need of a good laugh, I highly recommend picking up this book. If you can't crack even one smile, I think you need to go look for your sense of humor. This was great fun to read and I had a blast laughing myself to exhaustion.
Bossypants by Tina Fey is published by Reagan Arthur Books (2011)
This review copy was provided by the publisher
Five years is a long time in the book blogging world. To paraphrase the band 311 "I've been here a while, ain't going nowhere". Yes I'm now an oldie when it comes to book blogging. I see so many blogs being a year or less old and I feel like the senior in high school that has stayed back for several years.
As always, the reason why I started blogging was thanks to Camy Tang's blog which inspired me to write my own blog. My main goal was to blog about the books I read because I figured I'd like others to know about the good books that were out there. I honestly can't believe that it's lasted this long and I hope to keep going strong. I had no idea that there was a book blogging community when I first started this thing. I didn't know about getting ARCs, going to book blogging conventions or that I would have met so many wonderful new friends.
I feel like I've changed A LOT since I started book blogging. In all different venues but who doesn't change in 5 years?
In Sept 2006 I was a senior in college, working part time at a library and dating my boyfriend.
In Sept 2011, I now have my master's degree, work full time as an archivist and have been married for 3 years (to previously mentioned boyfriend).
In Sept 2006, apparently it took me a day to read half a book, I owned only 300 books and I read 90% Christian fiction.
In Sept 2011, I have read 19 books in one day (24 hour readathon, special circumstances folks!), I own over 3k books and I read 60% Christian fiction, 20% YA and split the rest between several other genres.
In Sept 2006, I started a blog, foolishly put hyphens in the address, used different colors for every post and pretty much had no idea what I was doing.
In Sept 2011, I have posted over 900 book reviews, won several awards, have had my reviews used as endorsements and still pretty much have no idea what I'm doing.
I feel like I've changed a lot in terms of how I read in the past 5 years. While I still greatly enjoy Christian fiction, I feel like I've grown as a reader. I am more picky about what types of books I want to read and I find myself becoming frustrated with the market and the direction it is heading sometimes. I've been more vocal about it lately and while I don't feel like I'm making a huge difference, it is nice to get my words out there.
In terms of blogging...well if you've reading in the past year, you know that I've had my ups and downs lately. Just a bunch of feeling left out or jealous. Petty stuff. In terms of the future of the blog, I hope by this time next year, I should have at least bought my own domain. Small steps :)
As of today I have written 911 book reviews, 83 movie reviews (I swear I will have my Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 review up someday), and had 158 contests. When I first started my blog I had a mere 300 books. As of today I have a whopping 3190 books in my collection. Last year I had 2683 books. That's an accumulation of 507 books in one year! At this rate, if I live to be 90 I'll have over 35,000 books. Oh well I can dream can't I?
Due to a lack of funds, I have nothing to celebrate the day with. No giveaways, no contests, no birthday cake. However, I am going to ask YOU to do me a favor!
I'd like to know more about my readers. So...I've got a survey here that I would love it if you could fill out for me. I haven't done a survey in a very long time so I'd really like to know your thoughts. (I would like to give credit to The Story Siren for inspiration with creating some of the question for the survey)
Thanks so much and I really appreciate everyone who's stopped by in the past five years!