Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Review: Ryken's Bible Handbook

Ryken's Bible Handbook: A Guide to Reading and Studying the Bible
Authors: Leland Ryken, Philip Ryken and James Wilhoit
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
ISBN: 0842384014
Audience: Teens through adult
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis (from the back of the book):


Dig deeper into the Bible with "Ryken's Bible Handbook".
Go beyond merely reading the Bible and discover its hidden treasures with the help of "Ryken's Bible Handbook". Whether you're new to Bible study or have read the Scriptures countless times, greater riches are waiting to be unearthed.

Discover for yourself the depth of God's Word.
Inside you'll find:
  • Maps, charts and illustrations
  • A fact sheet for each book
  • Key verses
  • Key doctrines
  • Overviews and main themes
  • Perspectives from theologians, educatiors and authors
  • One year Bible reading plan
My comments:

This book is truly a treasure waiting to be used and is designed that way. The book is has a hard cover, and stays open nicely when using it alongside your Bible. It is designed to be used and the binding appears that it will hold up to the use and abuse that I'm sure it will receive.

Each chapter correlates with a book in the Bible and in the same order, making it very easy to use along with your Bible study. The first page of every chapter starts out with a fact sheet telling listing important facts about that book of the Bible. Some chapters contain charts and outlines, illustrations and maps. There are also challenges that face the reader listed and suggestions how to meet those challenges. Also listed are most common misconceptions about the book being studied.

As you continue on through using this book, you will find many lovely helps. There are Did You Know sections, key verses, and important information highlighted on the side of the pages. You will find tips for reading, key doctrines, main themes, and much more throughout each chapter.

At the end of each chapter is a section called Perspectives, and this section is has quotes from many different recognizable people as well as others unknown to me. These are really interesting and helpful.

The last part of the book is reserved for wonderful helps. There is a one year Bible reading plan, an index of articles, many full color maps and a few full color charts.

This is a lovely reference book that will be used over and over. It is very easy to use, will help you to understand the Bible more deeply, and will give you much to think about. "Ryken's Bible Handbook" should be in every home library.

This book was sent to me by Tyndale House Publishers for me to honestly review.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Review & Giveaway: Glorious

Glorious
Author: Bernice McFadden
Publisher: Akashic Books
ISBN: 9781936070114
Audience: Adult
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis (from author's website)

Glorious is set against the backdrops of the Jim Crow South, the Harlem Renaissance, and the civil rights era. Blending the truth of American history with the fruits of Bernice L. McFadden’s rich imagination, this is the story of Easter Venetta Bartlett, a fictional Harlem Renaissance writer whose tumultuous path to success, ruin, and revival offers a candid portrait of the American experience in all its beauty and cruelty.


Glorious is ultimately an audacious exploration into the nature of self-hatred, love, possession, ego, betrayal, and, finally, redemption.

My Comment:

Easter Bartlett learns early in life that because of her skin color, she will be denied basic human freedoms and considerations. She watches the inhumane justice and the unfair treatment of both her family and others of her race, with helplessness and mortification. As it cripples and destroys her family, Easter moves on and tries to spread her wings and grow.

Glorious is powerfully written novel dealing with one of America's largest sins - segregation. It has been spoken of, but unless one has grown up with it, the word does not hold the shame and rage that it should. McFadden gave Easter a voice that takes the reader back to the time when freedom was only for those that were blessed with white skin and makes that horror a reality. After reading Glorious, one will never quite be able to rid the some of the horrific visions from memory.

McFadden wrote a novel that will capture your heart, break it, crush it, mend it, and then give it back to you forever changed.

The reason for Adult recommendation:  Many of the horrors of segregation are discussed - murders, rapes, lynchings, etc and some are graphic. There is also a detailed account of abortion and and a character that has an alternative lifestyle. Parents - I won't tell you not to give this to your teens, but I do ask you to read it first - if not for any other reason than to be able to discuss this novel with them.

If you missed it, please make sure to read yesterday's Author Spotlight. Bernice did a fascinating article called "My Mystical Life".

To learn more about the author, you can visit Bernice's webpage at: http://www.bernicemcfadden.com and her blog at: http://firstborngirl.blogspot.com/


I received this book to honestly review directly from the author. Thank you Bernice.


 Giveaway!!
Now, for the exciting news... Bernice has offered 2 autographed copies of "Glorious" to give away to the readers of this blog!! If you would like to be one of the lucky recipients of an autographed copy of "Glorious", you must:


1. leave a comment on this post
2. be a follower
3. include your email - no email, no entry
4. respond within 48 hours of being emailed - or another winner will be chosen.

Giveaway closes April 13, 2010 at 11:59 PM EST.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Author Spotlight: Bernice L. McFadden

I'm am so very honored to introduce a wonderful and gifted writer, Bernice McFadden. Bernice is the author of the well known "Sugar" which just celebrated its 10th anniversary "Glorious", which will be available in stores May 1st. (Note: "Glorious" is already available and in stock can be ordered through Amazon and Barnes and Noble right now!) Thank you, Bernice, for allowing me this great pleasure.

Without further adieu... Let's give a huge welcome to Bernice L. McFadden...



This mystical, magical life of mine began on September 26th, 1965 in Brooklyn, New York and then it began again exactly two years later to the day on a stretch of highway between Michigan and Ohio. It was there in that I was involved in a near fatal car accident. I always cite the day as a turning point in my life. I was on the brink of death, teetering on that invisible line that separates the here and the hereafter, floating in that white light our ancestors inhabit. I believe that during that ethereal moment I was given an assignment, a purpose -- a gift -- and then sent back.

For me the process of writing is similar to channeling – I am not only of the story, but often find myself in the story experiencing it - even if only from the sidelines.

I won't deny that some part of what I write comes from my own imagination, but I do feel that at least 80 percent of what I pen is being shared with me by people who have been dead and buried for years.

Many of my previous novels have historical references, but Glorious is the first, purely authentic historical novel I’ve written. I so enjoyed the feeling of fulfillment that I experienced creating a story that bore witness to history, that I have started another one, entitled Gathering of Waters.

For me, a great story provokes the heart of the reader, causing them to question what they thought they knew, and/or how they thought they felt about a certain place and/or people. I believe that Glorious does just that.

While all of my books hold a special place in my heart, I have a special relationship with this, my newest novel, for on reason in particular. The road Glorious traveled was almost identical to the journey my debut novel, Sugar, took a decade earlier.
A book that naysayer’s claimed had no audience. Sugar received 73 rejections letters - Glorious received about forty and with that, publishing declared my career to be dead, but I knew different.

Back in 1999 I told myself that If I did not have a publisher for Sugar by the time my birthday rolled around, I would self-publish. But the universe stepped in and in February of that year, a literary agent took the project on and within a week I had a two-book deal.

Between 2000 to 2008 I wrote and published a number of books to critical acclaim, but because the books were marginalized, my sales numbers began to slip and I soon found myself without a publishing deal.

I had to begin from scratch.

In January 2009 I repeated the promise I made to myself in 1999 – “If I do not have a publisher by the time my birthday rolls around, I will self-publish this book.” And once again the universe stepped in. But this time the experience was mystical in a way that not even I could have conjured up.

A significant portion of Glorious takes place during the Harlem Renaissance. In the book I mention literary icon Nella Larsen, I also thank her, along with Zora Neale Hurston, in the acknowledgements section of the book. It was Nella Larsen’s grave I went to visit just days before I received the email from Akashic Books, stating that they would be more than happy to publish Glorious.

You see…everything that should be, will be.

Like I said, my life is a mystical, magical one….


If you would like to find out more about Bernice, please visit her website at: http://www.bernicemcfadden.com

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Winners of "Raven Stole the Moon" and "Life Choices"


And the winners are....





The winner of
Garth Stein's "Raven Stole the Moon"
is
Haleyknitz


The winner of
Judy Moreo's "Life Choices"
is
Janette Fuller


Congratulations!!!! I have emailed you both. :)

Review: Guardian

Guardian
Author: Katie Hines
Publisher: 4RV Publishing, LLC
ISBN: 9780984070886
Audience: Middle Grades
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Synopsis:

Imagine you have made a secret promise that can lead you to the discovery of an incredible treasure and an ancient power. But in order to fulfill that promise, you must defeat an age-old sect that is determined to claim the treasure and power themselves.

Drew Newman is ready to tell his friends a secret, but two strangers burst on the scene, demanding an ancient, magical book. He plummets into a world of uncertainty and fear as his home is invaded and he desperately tries to find the book.

Aided by the mysterious Jean-Paul, Drew’s search takes him and friends to Oak Island, Nova Scotia, where he continues his search. Joined with his Grandpa Ian and cousin, Zea, the tension ratchets up when Drew is kidnapped and he encounters the head of a sect that wants the book, a magical talisman and a treasure for themselves.

Sprinkled with magic, “Guardian” explores the commitment of a boy determined to fulfill his promise to his mother and claim an uncertain destiny.

Guardian came about when Hines and her husband discovered a true-to-life treasure story about Oak Island, Nova Scotia. There is a pit where, due to a lot of circumstantial evidence, people believed there was treasure. Because of all the money thrown into excavation attempts, it is called “The Money Pit.”

Although literally millions of dollars have been spent trying to excavate this pit and reach what is believed to be a fabulous treasure, fortune hunters have come up empty. The pit has flooded numerous times due to an ingenious tunnel from Smith’s Cove all the way to the treasure shaft where the excavations have taken place. People have died while trying to reach this mythical treasure.

Well-known individuals, such as John Wayne and Franklin Roosevelt, have been a part of the Oak Island treasure story excavation attempts.






Read an excerpt of Guardian at http://katiehines.com/katie-hines-new-book-guardian/guardian-excerpt.

My Comments:

I grew up with Nancy Drew, the Bobsey Twins, and the Hardy Boys, and love them all. This book has the same type of mystery quality with fantasy thrown in for a really nice mix. Categorized as a Middle Grade Urban Fantasy, it brings the mystery of the Templar Knights and the Holy Grail to the present time, creating a fun fantasy.

I found the characters not as believable as they could have been. The grandparents didn't seem as protective as they should have been, and some of the conversations seemed a bit awkward and a few made me think "would they have really have said that?".

The storyline was interesting and nicely thought out. The history of the Holy Grail was nicely done, and I'm sure will spur interest in many young folks. All, in all, the book was a fun read, and I'm sure it will delight male and female middle graders alike.

About the author: Although Katie Hines has been writing for as long as she can remember, she didn't get serious about it until she decided to write a memoir. Now, Hines writes urban fantasies for middle-grade children, and her first book, Guardian, is the beginning of an exciting new series. Visit http://katiehines.com/.

This book was supplied by Paula at AME for an honest review. Thank you, Paula!

Review and Sneak Peek: Disney Fairies Prilla's Talent

Disney Fairies Prilla's Talent
Published by: Papercutz
ISBN: 9781597071864
Audience: All Ages
Rating: 5 out of 5

Synopsis:

Tinker Bell, Beck, Prilla, Rani, and Vidia, the stars of the best-selling chapter books from Disney Publishing Worldwide and two best-selling original DVD films, now appear in their first graphic novel courtesy of all-ages comics publisher Papercutz (BIONICLE ®, CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED, GERONIMO STILTON, NANCY DREW, etc.).

In DISNEY FAIRIES #1 “Prilla’s Talent,” the first in the all-new series of graphic novels, Tinker Bell and her friends are featured in the following four stories:

· “Prilla’s Talent” – Tinker Bell helps Prilla find her special fairy ability.

· “Like the Wind” – features the fastest-flying fairy of all, Vidia!

· “The Sound of Friendship” – Can Tinker Bell repair a special bell in time for the big Blue Bell Festival?

· “Best of Friends” – explores the relationship between Tinker Bell and Rani when their friendship is tested.


What could be better than a little sneak peek inside? Enjoy! If you have trouble reading and would like a full screen view, please click the right hand corner of the viewer (the little box with 4 arrows).


Prilla's Talent


My Comment:

Disney and comic books - two things I think we never grow out of. I know I haven't and neither has my almost 17 year old daughter. I pulled this book out of the package, and as soon as my daughter saw Tinkerbell, it was in her hands as she curled up on the living room couch to read. When she finished, she looked up at me and said, "Oh my gosh, Mom! It is sooooo cute. I HAVE to get ALL of them!!"

She is right. This book, one of a series, is adorable. It contains 4 stories that are just the perfect length to read at bedtime or anytime you want to snuggle up and read with your child. Every story has a moral and is beautifully done.

The book itself is gorgeous and has heavy high quality pages, making it one that will be able to be read over and over again. You should consider treating yourself your children to this sweet little book. I highly recommend it!!

This book was supplied by Paula at AME for an honest review. Thank you Paula!! The sneak peek was provided by Paula at AME and posted with permission.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Review: Her Mother's Hope

Her Mother's Hope
Publisher: Tyndale
ISBN: 9781414318639
Audience: Teens through adult
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis:

The first in an epic two-book saga by beloved author Francine Rivers, this sweeping story explores the complicated relationships between mothers and daughters over several generations.

Near the turn of the 20th century, fiery Marta leaves Switzerland determined to find life on her own terms. Her journey takes her through Europe and finally lands her with children and husband in tow in the central valley of California. Marta’s experiences convince her that only the strong survive.

Hildie, Marta’s oldest daughter, has a heart to serve others, and her calling as a nurse gives her independence, if not the respect of her mother. Amid the drama of WWII, Hildie marries and begins a family of her own. She wants her daughter never to doubt her love—but the challenges of life conspire against her vow. Each woman is forced to confront her faulty but well-meaning desire to help her daughter find her God-given place in the world.




My Comments:

If I had to sum up this novel in one word, it would be "WOW"! "Her Mother's Hope" is an emotionally gripping story based on the lives of the author's mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. It was researched and written when the author wanted to understand more about her mother's and grandmother's relationship. This is and absolutely unforgettable story of love and determination, faith, friendship, and most importantly family.

This is my first exposure to anything written by Francine Rivers, and it certainly won't be the last! She is a brilliant storyteller - perhaps one of the best I have ever come across. Her delivery is powerful and she has a masterful way of delivering her story. The characters grip your heart and will pull you into their lives. They will become part of you, as if you had really grown up with them. In a sense, maybe one does.

"Her Mother's Hope" is definitely one of the best stories I have ever read. It has made my most favorites list. I do know that it's going to seem like forever before the next of the series "Her Daughter's Dream" becomes available later this year! I can't wait to continue the story.

If you would like to know more about Francine Rivers and what other books she has authored, please visit her website at: http://www.francinerivers.com/

This book was sent to me by Paula of AME. Thank you so much, Paula!

Friday Book Blog Hop

Jennifer from Crazy for Books has put a new twist on an old idea. She has come up with new meme that follows in the spirit of "Follow Me Friday", but dedicated just for book bloggers!

If you'd like to participate, here's Jennifer's instructions:

Every day I seem to find another book blog that I start following. In the spirit of the Friday Follow, I thought it would be cool to do a Book Blog Hop to give us all bookies a chance to connect and find new blogs that we may be missing out on!  It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs that they may not know existed!

So, if you'd like to participate, just repost this on your blog, sign MckLinky and check out other blogs in MckLinky! Let's connect and make new book bloggy friends!!  So, if you consider yourself a book blogger, come join the fun!

Pretty please - Your blog should have content related to books, including, but not limited to book reviews.

If you have arrived here from the Book Blogger Hop, please leave a comment with a link to your page and let me know you've been here. Thanks!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Tour and Review: The River Kings' Road

The River Kings' Road: A Novel of Ithelas
Author: Liane Merciel
Publisher: Gallery Books
ISBN: 9781439159118
Audience: Teen through adult
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis (from publisher's website):

A thrilling new voice in fantasy makes an unforgettable debut with this "intriguingly twisted tale of treachery and magic" (New York Times bestselling author L. E. Modesitt, Jr.). Liane Merciel’s The River Kings’ Road takes us to a world of bitter enmity between kingdoms, divided loyalties between comrades, and an insidious magic that destroys everything it touches. . . .

The wounded maidservant thrust the knotted blankets at him; instinctively, Brys stepped forward and caught the bundle before it fell. Then he glimpsed what lay inside and nearly dropped it himself.

There was a baby in the blankets. A baby with a tear-swollen face red and round as a midsummer plum. A baby he knew, even without seeing the lacquered medallion tucked into the swaddling—a medallion far too heavy, on a chain far too cold for an infant who had not yet seen a year.


A fragile period of peace between the eternally warring kingdoms of Oakharn and Langmyr is shattered when a surprise massacre fueled by bloodmagic ravages the Langmyrne border village of Willowfield, killing its inhabitants—including a visiting Oakharne lord and his family—and leaving behind a scene so grisly that even the carrion eaters avoid its desecrated earth. But the dead lord’s infant heir has survived the carnage—a discovery that entwines the destinies of Brys Tarnell, a mercenary who rescues the helpless and ailing babe, and who enlists a Langmyr peasant, a young mother herself, to nourish and nurture the child of her enemies as they travel a dark, perilous road . . . Odosse, the peasant woman whose only weapons are wit, courage, and her fierce maternal love—and who risks everything she holds dear to protect her new charge . . . Sir Kelland, a divinely blessed Knight of the Sun, called upon to unmask the architects behind the slaughter and avert war between ancestral enemies . . . Bitharn, Kelland’s companion on his journey, who conceals her lifelong love for the Knight behind her flawless archery skills—and whose feelings may ultimately be Kelland’s undoing . . . and Leferic, an Oakharne Lord’s bitter youngest son, whose dark ambitions fuel the most horrific acts of violence. As one infant’s life hangs in the balance, so too does the fate of thousands, while deep in the forest, a Maimed Witch practices an evil bloodmagic that could doom them all. . . .

My Comment:

It has been quite a while since I've had the pleasure of reading a really, really good fantasy, and "The River King's Road" was a fantastic read. In a way, I find this reminded me of "The Lord of the Rings". It had all the wonderful and scary things I crave... magic, witches, knights, good -vs- evil, murder, lies, deceit, treachery, love and loyalty. I found the storyline exciting with lots of twists and turns and the characters reacted just as I would expect for the setting and made them very realistic.

Yes, I loved this book! I found it to be a captivating read that draws you in from the beginning.
The main characters are few, and the story jumps between viewpoints, creating a very interesting and well rounded tale. This is the first book of the series, and does a wonderful job setting up for the next book. Yes, you can stop here at this one, but really, why would one want to? I can't wait for the next book in the series, "Heaven's Needle".

To read the first two chapters of "The River Kings' Road" or to learn more about Liane Merciel, you can visit Liane's website at: http://lianemerciel.com/

If you'd like to visit other blogs participating in the tour, just click on the links below.

Pam’s Private Reflections: http://hip2bhomeschooling.blogspot.com/
Book Junkie: http://myfoolishwisdom.blogspot.com/
Cheryl’s Book Nook: http://cherylsbooknook.blogspot.com/
Steph the Bookworm: http://www.stephthebookworm.blogspot.com/
Readaholic: http://bridget3420.blogspot.com/
The Bibliophilic Book Blog: http://www.bibliophilicbookblog.com/
I Heart Book Gossip: http://juniperrbreeeze.blogspot.com/
Jeanne's Ramblings: http://www.jeannesramblings.com
My Book Addiction and More: http://mybookaddictionandmore.wordpress.com/
Brizmus Blogs Books: http://brizmusblogsbooks.blogspot.com/
Taking Time For Mommy: http://takingtimeformommy.blogspot.com/
Thoughts In Progress: http://www.masoncanyon.blogspot.com/
Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer: http://ramblingsofacoffeeaddictedwrter.blogspot.com/
Books And Things: http://melissawatercolor.blogspot.com/
She Reads: http://mandyfish-reads.blogspot.com/
Blog Business World: http://www.blogbusinessworld.blogspot.com
Carol’s Notebook: http://carolsnotebook.wordpress.com/
Crazy Books & Reviews: http://www.lindsayphotobook.blogspot.com/
Books Gardens & Dogs: http://maryinhb.blogspot.com/
Just One More Paragraph: http://tweezlereads.blogspot.com/
Rundpinne: http://www.rundpinne.blogspot.com/
Drey’s Library: http://dreyslibrary.blogspot.com/
My Life In Not So Many Words: http://www.ziarias.blogspot.com/
Geek Girl Reviews: http://www.geekgirlreviews.com/
Starting Fresh: http://startingfresh-gaby317.blogspot.com/
Poisoned Rationality: http://lastexilewords.blogspot.com
Temple Library Reviews: http://templelibraryreviews.blogspot.com/
The Wayfaring Writer: http://moonsanity.blogspot.com/
Booksie’s Blog: http://booksiesblog.blogspot.com/
See Michelle Read: http://seemichelleread.blogspot.com/
Genre Reviews: http://genrereviews.blogspot.com/
My Book Views: http://my-book-views.blogspot.com/
Wendy’s Minding Spot: http://mindingspot.blogspot.com/
Book Tumbling: http://booktumbling.com/
Literarily Speaking: http://literarilyspeaking1.blogspot.com/
Books R Us: http://www.booksrusonline.com/
Brenda Loves Books: http://brendalovesbooks.blogspot.com/
Lucky Rosie’s: http://www.luckyrosiescreations.blogspot.com/
You Wanna Know What I Think? : http://www.kballard87.blogspot.com/

This book was supplied for review by Sarah Reidy of Gallery & Pocket Books SciFi/Fantasy Blog Tours. A huge thank you to Sarah for allowing me to participate in this wonderful tour!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Amazing Contest from Tyndale Publishers!!!


The New Living Translation Break Through to Clarity Bible Contest and Giveaway 


Visit www.facebook.com/NewLivingTranslation and click on the tab that says “Sweepstakes”
Fill out a simple form, take a quick Bible clarity survey, invite your friends to join and you’ll be entered to win one of our exciting prizes.
With each fan number milestone a new prize will be given away.
Grand Prize
Apple iPad 64G and a Life Application Study Bible
Awarded when the NLT Fan Page hits the fifth milestone
Retail Value: $829.00
2nd Prize  - Already awarded
32G iPod Touch and a Life Application Study Bible
Awarded when the NLT Fan Page hits the fourth milestone
Retail Value: $300.00
3rd Prize – Will be awarded when fan count hits: 3500
Kindle DX and a Life Application Study Bible
Awarded when the NLT Fan Page hits the third milestone
Retail Value: $489.00
4th Prize Will be awarded when fan count hits: TBD
Apple iPad 16G and a Life Application Study Bible
Awarded when the New Living Translation Fan Page hits the second milestone
Retail Value: $499.00
5th Prize Will be awarded when fan count hits: TBD
Apple iPad 32G and a Life Application Study Bible
Awarded when the NLT Fan Page hits the first milestone
Retail Value: $599.00

Prize Eligibility – Recently updated to include more countries
Sweepstakes participants and winner(s) can be U.S. residents of the 50 United States, or residents of any country that is NOT embargoed by the United States, but cannot be residents of Belgium, Norway, Sweden, or India.  In addition, participants and winner(s) must be at least 18 years old, as determined by the Company. 

Sweepstakes Starts
March 17, 2010 @ 10:24 am (PDT)

Sweepstakes Ends
April 30, 2010 @ 10:24 am (PDT)


Wait, there’s more!
Visit http://biblecontest.newlivingtranslation.com/index.php for a chance to win a trip for two to Hawaii!
Here are the details:
Choose one of six passages of Scripture from the New Living Translation and consider:
How do these verses encourage you to know God better?
What is God teaching you in this passage?
How does this passage apply to your life?
Submit your answer and you’ll be entered to win.
Just for signing up: Everybody Wins! Win a Free .mp3 download from the NLT’s new Red Letters Project. It’s the dynamic, new presentation of the sung and narrated words of the Gospel of Matthew. You win the download just for entering! Or choose to download the NLT Philippians Bible Study, complete with the Book of Philippians in the NLT.
Every day, one person will win the best-selling Life Application Study Bible!
The grand prize: One person will win a fantastic trip for two to the crystal clear waters of the Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu’s North Shore in beautiful Hawaii.


Review: Once in a Blue Moon

Once in a Blue Moon
Author: Leanna Ellis
Publisher: B&H Publishing Group
ISBN: 9780805449884
Audience: Adult
Rating: 5 out of 5

Synopsis (from B&H):

Bryn Seymour was nine years old when her mother died under mysterious circumstances on the same day Apollo 11 made its historic lunar landing. Forty years later—divorced, working as an obituary writer, and duly cynical—she meets Howard, a conspiracy theorist who knew her mom and believes a small Texas town may hold clues to what really fueled her demise. Seeking closure, Bryn goes along for this men-in-black ride. But upon meeting Howard’s son Sam, an outspoken Christian, she can’t decide whose beliefs are more pie-in-the-sky.

The gravity of life has pulled Bryn down for decades. But a perfect love could be her first step to soaring. It only happens once in a blue moon.




My Comments:

When I first started this book, I had a hard time "getting into" it. Bryn's character wasn't someone I really liked at first. She was a bit too cocky and a bit too full of herself for my taste. As the book progressed though, her character made more sense, and I really came to enjoy her cynicism and sardonic humor.

The story was enjoyable and had enough mystery to keep you guessing, enough romantic tension to keep you wondering and drooling over hunky Sam, and enough weirdness to make you wonder if Howard's story could be true. Once I really got into the story, I finished the book in no time. This turned out to be a really fun read!

I rated this book adult because the main character is about middle aged, she's a cougar with a daughter in college. Honestly, I was a bit surprised in the beginning with this being Christian fiction. It pushes the line a little bit - but as it continues on, the Christian tone gets stronger. Honestly, I liked the more mature tone and the lack of innocence in the main character. It gave more of a sense of reality to Bryn.

If you would like to find out more about Leanna Ellis, you can visit her website at: http://www.leannaellis.com/

I received "Once In a Blue Moon" from B&H Publishers to honestly review.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. Anyone can play along. Just leave a link to your Mailbox Monday post at Marcia's blog and follow the links to other blogs to see what books are finding their way to mailboxes around the world. WARNING!! Participation in Mailbox Monday can cause your "to be read" list to grow exponentially!!

It's been a couple of weeks since I posted, so instead of posting all that I got over that period of time, I'll just post this past week. I had a really good mail week. I can't wait to read and review these, they all look like great books!

The Last Child
Author: John Hart
Publisher: Minotaur Books


John Hart’s New York Times bestselling debut, The King of Lies, announced the arrival of a major talent. With Down River, he surpassed his earlier success, transcending the barrier between thriller and literature and winning the 2008 Edgar Award for best novel. Now, with The Last Child, he achieves his most significant work to date, an intricate, powerful story of loss, hope, and courage in the face of evil.

Thirteen year-old Johnny Merrimon had the perfect life: a warm home and loving parents; a twin sister, Alyssa, with whom he shared an irreplaceable bond. He knew nothing of loss, until the day Alyssa vanished from the side of a lonely street. Now, a year later, Johnny finds himself isolated and alone, failed by the people he’d been taught since birth to trust. No one else believes that Alyssa is still alive, but Johnny is certain that she is---confident in a way that he can never fully explain.

Determined to find his sister, Johnny risks everything to explore the dark side of his hometown. It is a desperate, terrifying search, but Johnny is not as alone as he might think. Detective Clyde Hunt has never stopped looking for Alyssa either, and he has a soft spot for Johnny. He watches over the boy and tries to keep him safe, but when Johnny uncovers a dangerous lead and vows to follow it, Hunt has no choice but to intervene.

Then a second child goes missing . . .

Undeterred by Hunt’s threats or his mother’s pleas, Johnny enlists the help of his last friend, and together they plunge into the wild, to a forgotten place with a history of violence that goes back more than a hundred years. There, they meet a giant of a man, an escaped convict on his own tragic quest. What they learn from him will shatter every notion Johnny had about the fate of his sister; it will lead them to another far place, to a truth that will test both boys to the limit.

Moonlight Falls
Author: Vincent Zandri
Publisher: R. J. Buckley Publishing 

In MOONLIGHT FALLS, novelist and photo journalist Vincent Zandri asks the question "If you knew your life could end at any moment, how far would you go to prove you murdered your lover? " Albany, New York, is the setting of Zandri's paranoid thriller (in the Hitchcock tradition) about Richard "Dick" Moonlight, former APD detective turned private investigator/massage therapist, who believes he killed Scarlet Montana - his illicit lover and wife of his ex-boss, Chief of Detectives Jake Montana. The problem is ... Moonlight doesn't remember what happened!


Getting In
Author: Karen Stabiner
Publisher:Hyperion


Q: What does a parent need to survive the college application process?
A. A sense of humor.
B. A therapist on 24-hour call.
C. A large bank balance.
D. All of the above.
Getting In is the roller-coaster story of five very different Los Angeles families united by a single obsession: acceptance at a top college, preferably one that makes their friends and neighbors green with envy. At an elite private school and a nearby public school, families devote themselves to getting their seniors into the perfect school-even if the odds are stacked against them, even if they can't afford the $50,000 annual price tag, even if the effort requires a level of deceit, and even if the object of all this attention wants to go somewhere else.
Getting In is a delightfully smart comedy of class and entitlement, of love and ambition, set in a world where a fat envelope from a top school matters more than anything . . . almost.


Havah: The Story of Eve
Author: Tosca Lee
Publisher: B&H Publishing Group

She knew this earth when it was perfect—like her, for a time. Made by God in a manner like no other, she lived in utter peace without flaw in paradise until one fateful decision changed everything. Now, all humanity suffers for her mistake. But what did it feel like then to first sin and be exiled, to see all innocence crumble so vividly, and a strange new world take its place?

Experience the epic dawn of mankind through the eyes and heart of Eve—the woman first known as Havah.

"A passionate and riveting story of the Bible's first woman. Lee's superior storytelling will have readers weeping for all that Havah forfeited by a single damning choice."

Demon: A Memoir
Author: Tosca Lee
Publisher: B&H Publishing Group


 Clayton's life is stuck in the mud. His wife has been cheating on him for years, his literary career is uninspired, and his job as an editor is mediocre at best. But when he walks into a restaurant and finds a mysterious dark-haired stranger waiting for him, his life dramatically changes. The stranger claims to be Lucian, one of Lucifer's fellow fallen angels, come to tell Clay his story of the angels' dramatic fall from Heaven, Adam and Eve's Eden, and Christ's triumph on the cross - from a demon's perspective. This seems just the thing to get Clay's career jumpstarted, but it could mean his ultimate success or failure as Lucian's story seems to become more and more like his own.

Lessons Learned: Loving Yourself as a Black Woman
Author: Tinisha N. Johnson
Publisher: Xpress Yourself Publishing, LLC

As a Black woman, have you ever dealt with insecurities and pressures from the world that made you feel unsure about yourself or life in general? Do you want answers and solutions to your most deepest, darkest feelings? If so, Lessons Learned: Loving Yourself as a Black Woman is a book you should read. It is an inspirational and uplifting book, emphasizing ten life lessons addressing your intimate, personal, and professional life. In Lessons Learned, the author passionately and straightforwardly expresses and lays out the following: --The Q&A Method of problem solving life's problems --Understanding your deepest feelings and using the positive to overcome the negative --Your self-worth is greater than you think, learn why --What women tend to think the definition of true happiness is --The five most common types of Black women --What some Black women say to themselves that they would never say out loud --Why some Black women sacrifice their souls --Balancing children, family, and friends The author thought it necessary to create a book specifically catered to Black women in the self-healing process while laying out techniques on how to gain more self-confidence and strengthen your self-worth and overall life. Life Lessons reminds Black women of the importance of loving themselves first. 

How Clarissa Burden Learned to Fly
Author: Connie May Fowler
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing


New York Times bestselling writer Connie May Fowler delivers a transcendent novel about one fateful day in the life of a woman on the verge of an extraordinary life change.

Set amidst the lush pine forests and rich savannas of Florida’s Northern Panhandle, HOW CLARISSA BURDEN LEARNED TO FLY tells the story of one woman whose existence until now has seemed fairly normal: she is 30-something, married, and goes about her daily routine as a writer. However, it is soon discovered that ghosts, an indifferent husband, and a seemingly terminal case of writer’s block are burdening Clarissa’s life. She awakes on the summer solstice and, prodded by her own discontent and one ghost’s righteous need for truth, commences upon a twenty-four hour journey of self-discovery. Her harrowing, funny, and startling adventures lead Clarissa to a momentous decision: She must find a way to do the unthinkable. Her life and the well-being of a remarkable family of blithe spirits hang in the balance. Connie May Fowler demonstrates her keen abilities as a storyteller in this remarkably original novel about an unexpected mid-life awakening. This is an empowering story that will resonate and be discussed for years to come


What did you find in your mailbox? Make sure to leave a comment and a link so that I can read all about it!

Review: The Poacher's Son

The Poacher's Son
Author: Paul Doiron
Publisher: Monitor Books
ISBN: 9780312558468
Audience: Adult
Rating: 5 out of 5
Publish Date: May 11, 2010

Synopsis (from Barnes & Noble):

Set in the wilds of Maine, this is an explosive tale of an estranged son thrust into the hunt for a murderous fugitive—-his own father.

Game warden Mike Bowditch returns home one evening to find an alarming voice from the past on his answering machine: his father, Jack, a hard-drinking womanizer who makes his living poaching illegal game. An even more frightening call comes the next morning from the police: They are searching for the man who killed a beloved local cop the night before—-and his father is their prime suspect. Jack has escaped from police custody, and only Mike believes that his tormented father might not be guilty.

Now, alienated from the woman he loves, shunned by colleagues who have no sympathy for the suspected cop killer, Mike must come to terms with his haunted past. He knows firsthand Jack’s brutality, but is the man capable of murder? Desperate and alone, Mike strikes up an uneasy alliance with a retired warden pilot, and together the two men journey deep into the Maine wilderness in search of a runaway fugitive. There they meet a beautiful woman who claims to be Jack’s mistress but who seems to be guarding a more dangerous secret. The only way for Mike to save his father now is to find the real killer—-which could mean putting everyone he loves in the line of fire.

The Poacher’s Son is a sterling debut of literary suspense. Taut and engrossing, it represents the first in a series featuring Mike Bowditch.


When I started this book, it was late, and I snuggled down in my bed knowing I was too tired to read more than a chapter or two. That didn't happen, and I was up much, much later turning page after page, promising myself I would finish this chapter because I really had to get some sleep. Way into the wee hours of the morning, when I could no longer deny that my eyes just couldn't stay open any longer, I reluctantly put this book aside.

The Poachers Son is a remarkable story full of suspense, family drama, and twists and turns that had me guessing right up until the end. The setting and plot are perfect. My father was a game warden and Doiran is right on spot with his realistic descriptions and what a warden's life is like. The characters, too, are very realistic and believable. With the book written in first person, you really become drawn into Mike's life and his desperation and need to get answers.

This is an amazing book written by an amazing storyteller. It's gripping and full of suspense, mystery and intrigue. Once you start reading, you won't want to put it down! I'm really excited that this is book one of a series. That means there will be more to come from Mr. Doiron and his character, Mike Bowditch!

I'm giving this one an adult rating, as it has some descriptive sexual content and language.

If you 'd like to learn more about Paul Doiron, you can visit his website at: http://www.pauldoiron.com/

I received this book through Barnes and Noble's First Look program.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

POC Reading Challenge



I had decided to blog hop a little today, and stumbled on one that had an interesting challenge that the blog owner was involved in. It's called the People of Color Reading Challenge, and is designed to to highlight and celebrate authors and characters of color. As I thought about all the books I've read in the past year, hardly any fell under this category.

I've decided to sign up for the challenge. I'm only doing the Level 3 challenge of reading 7-9 books, and only because I'm coming into the challenge late. I am hoping to surpass that goal, though. :)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Review: The Rewards of Simplicity

The Rewards of Simplicity: A Practical and Spiritual Approach
Authors: Pam & Chuck D. Pierce
Publisher: Chosen - A division of Baker Publishing Group
ISBN: 9780800794774
Audience: Adult
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis (from publisher)

Bestselling Charismatic Leaders Offer Timely Guide to Living Simply

In today's fast-paced and technology-driven times, Christians feel stressed out and overly busy. Many are left longing for simpler days, unaware that these days are within their grasp, made possible by getting rid of spiritual and material clutter.

Respected prophetic leader Chuck D. Pierce and his wife, Pam, remind Christians of the rewards of living simply. Together they weave biblical teaching with practical tips that will help readers answer questions like these:

How can I...

• clear out unnecessary clutter in my home?
• overcome anxiety?
• rely on God for my sustenance?
• get free from too much technology and/or entertainment?
• preserve a Sabbath rest?
• free myself from the stronghold of materialism?

Sharing their insights to help readers break free of anything that enslaves them, Pam and Chuck empower Christians, both materially and spiritually, to live a clutter-free life.

My Comments:

First let me say, I really, really wanted to like this book. The synopsis sounded perfect for one wanting to find a simplistic life. I enjoyed Pam's writing style. It was engaging, and I was through her writings before I knew it. She covered a lot of good and interesting subjects but didn't deal with them as thoroughly as I felt she needed to. Yes, I know that one needs to clear out the clutter in their spiritual life before they can take care of their physical life. That was covered pretty well, but the physical clutter needed to be dealt with more. If one has a lot of clutter around, then they really need a more in-depth approach of how to get rid of it. There was a reason the clutter was kept to begin with, and those things needed to addressed more than they were. 

The last half of the book was authored by Chuck. I found it to be more preachy and annoying. Yes, there were good points, but all I wanted to do was get through "his" part. I feel awful saying that, but I got very tired reading about all his health problems and all the references to his past books he authored.

Although there were things that I really didn't like, the book had a lot of useful ideas. It was worth the read, and I did learn a few things. I just wish it were more in-depth with how to achieve simplicity.

This book was supplied by Bethany House Publishers in exchange of an honest review.

Book Blogger Hop

Jennifer from Crazy for Books has put a new twist on an old idea. She has come up with new meme that follows in the spirit of "Follow Me Friday", but dedicated just for book bloggers!

If you'd like to participate, here's Jennifer's instructions:

Every day I seem to find another book blog that I start following. In the spirit of the Friday Follow, I thought it would be cool to do a Book Blog Hop to give us all bookies a chance to connect and find new blogs that we may be missing out on!  It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs that they may not know existed!

So, if you'd like to participate, just repost this on your blog, sign MckLinky and check out other blogs in MckLinky! Let's connect and make new book bloggy friends!!  So, if you consider yourself a book blogger, come join the fun!

Pretty please - Your blog should have content related to books, including, but not limited to book reviews.

If you have arrived here from the Book Blogger Hop, please leave a comment with a link to your page and let me know you've been here. Thanks!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Giveaway & Review: Me Time CD

Me Time: Positive Day - Peaceful Night CD
Authored and Narrated by : Suzanne Jessee
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

In a world full of work, schedules, meetings, stress, running the kids everywhere, taking care of the family and trying to make ends meet, there just doesn't seem to be any time to take care of the most important person of all... yourself! Me Time is a wonderful tool to help nurture and take care of yourself in just a few minutes a day!

Using Me Time in the morning and/or afternoon with relax and rejuvenate you, making your ready to face the day. At bedtime, it will help you unwind and relax, and you will be asleep in no time. Me Time uses beautiful guided imagery techniques, a guide with a calm and soft voice, soothing music, relaxation exercises, and the peaceful and calming sounds of nature. Two of the 3 tracks are guided, but the last is just music and nature, creating almost 30 peaceful and relaxing minutes to calm you and ease you to sleep. It is a wonderful tool to help people that have trouble falling asleep.

My Comments:

In college, I took a class on relaxation techniques, and learned how to do self-guided imagery and how to relax. It was wonderful, and it worked - when I worked it. After marriage, children, responsibilities and just plain old life, I lost sight of how to center myself and relax. Honestly, as time went on, I totally forgot about the class and all that I learned. When I had the opportunity to try out this CD, I was very excited. All I needed was a nice quite place to relax and get comfortable, and a CD player. I've been using the CD for a good week now, and I can honestly say, it does make a difference! I feel much less stressed, my sleeping habits are improved, and I feel like I have a lot more energy - all giving me a better and more positive outlook on things.


Suzanne Jessee is a Mental Health Coach that was once a victim of chronic stress and panic disorder. Today she is a recognized figure in helping thousands nationwide to reduce and eliminate stress in their lives. If you would like to learn more about Suzanne or her available products, please visit her website at: http://www.SuzanneJessee.com

Giveaway:

Rules:

1. You must be a follower of this blog.
2. You must leave your email address so I can contact you.
3. Open to US (sorry!!)

BONUS!!! Extra entry - Blog, Tweet, FB, or Sidebar about this contest and leave the URL(s) in your comment. (you can get up to 4 extra entries!)

To protect you from email harvesting, I am using a form instead of comments.


Contest ends April 1st at 11:59pm EST.

Good Luck!!!!

(Please note: These will be sent directly to you from SSA Public Relations. I will not be mailing this prize, but will be passing on your mailing information to SSA Public Relations.)

This product was sent to me by SSA Public Relations to honestly review .  

WINNER of "At Home With Laurie Ann"

 By the great powers of the Random Generator at Random.org, I have found a loving home for the beautiful designer candles and hardbound copy of "At Home with Laurie Ann". 

And the winner is....


nfmgirl 

Congratulations!!!! I have emailed you. :)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Last Day to Enter - HB copy, designer candles an mini candle set

Today is the last day to enter to win a hard bound copy of  "At Home With Laurie Ann" plus a gorgeous designer candle (pictured) and a set of mini candles. One winner will receive all!! Click here to enter. Contest ends 3/17 at 11:59pm EST.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Review: Lies The Government Told You

Lies The Government Told You: Myth, Power and Deception in American History
Author: Judge Andrew P. Napolitano
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
ISBN: 9781595552662
Audience: Teen through Adult
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Is the United States Government really here to protect us? Ask yourself that question when you see another recall for a FDA approved prescription drug that was deemed safe and then pulled off the market because of serious injury or death. "Lies The Government Told You" covers this issue (Lie #10) as well as 16 other lies that have been told to us over our lifetime.

Written by Judge Andrew P. Napolitano, who not only is a judge, but a nationally recognized expert on the US Constitution, this book is not only well written, but an informative and engaging read. Judge Napolitano not only covers the lies, but shows us what we, as citizens, can do to correct things. This is a book that every American, young or old, should read!

I received this book through the Book Sneeze program for an honest review.

Review & Giveaway Info: Bootcamp for Lousy Housekeepers

Bootcamp for Lousy Housekeepers
Author: Heidi Schaap
Publisher: Shepherd's Gate Press
Audience: Adults
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis: (from author's storefront)

You're buried under piles of unfolded laundry. You can't set the table because all your dishes are dirty. You need to dust, but every countertop is covered in newspapers and last month's unpaid bills. Every drawer in your home is a junk drawer. Does this sound familiar? Do you want to manage your home better, but just don't know where to start? Bootcamp for Lousy Housekeepers is the book that can help you transform your home from "messed" to "blessed" in a month (or less!) and keep it clean FOR GOOD! Drill Sergeant Heidi Schaap teaches you what to clean, how often to clean it, how to maintain your newly-cleaned home and more!

My Comments:

OK - I'll admit it. I have much better things to do with my life instead of housecleaning... reading, blogging, knitting, gardening.... ummmmm - just about anything that doesn't involve cleaning the house. It isn't so much that I don't like cleaning as much as not knowing how to do it efficiently. My mother took care of all the chores while we were at school, so as far as I knew, the place just always looked the way it did with not much effort. That is, all except for my room.

When I left home and was on my own, there still wasn't a lot of effort with just myself, but after being married and with children and homeschooling, things can quickly get out of hand. Just the papers and books alone can quickly pile up and grow into monsters that take over the house with just a blink of an eye!

I received Heidi's book last month, and told her that to do an honest review of it, I would be using it and putting it to the test. The test results are in....

First, a little about the book's appearance:
The book arrived VERY well wrapped. It was backed with cardboard and was wrapped in strong plastic, and then in a box that had 2 plastic straps holding it closed. It arrived in perfect shape. The book itself is spiral bound, making it a dream to use! It can be left open with no worries of losing a page when you need to be working out of it. The book has many forms designed to be reproduced and the spiral binding makes it so easy to copy those forms.

I won't lie and tell you that the book will be the answer to all your prayers and have your house clean in a snap. Sorry. There's work involved and forms to fill out and schedules to make. I'll admit, when I first saw that there was time to invest before I could start cleaning, I balked at the idea. As a home school mom, the last thing I need to be doing is making out more lists and schedules. Right? WRONG!! Schedules keep me on track, so why wouldn't I be using them in my housekeeping routine as well. Ah, there's the magic word - routine. I didn't have one! No wonder I was having trouble.

I sat down and worked with Heidi's program and although it was a bit time consuming at first, it really was a blessing to me. The book is just jam-packed with information from planning a menu to cleaning to lawn and garden care. The outside care surprised me. I certainly didn't expect to find that listed in a housekeeper's guide!

As I went over the lists and made my own tailored to my needs, I found things that I was neglecting and really didn't think much about doing. I also appreciate that Heidi included an example of how each of the forms were to be filled out. She has also broken jobs down into what needs to be done when - daily, weekly, monthly, seasonally. It makes things not seem so overwhelming when broken down in this manner.

Yes, I could go on and on about this book. It is worth the time to set up the system and work it. After the system is set up, there's not much effort on your part besides following your lists and schedules that are tailored to your needs. This is one book that NEEDS to be in every housekeeper's home, or should I say in every home. I really will work if you put the small amount of effort in it in the beginning. I know my home looks much nicer now!!

Author Giveaway:

Heidi is giving away 2 copies of her book in celebration of Spring. On Saturday, March 20th, she will be picking the winners at random, so hurry and hop on over to her blog and enter today!!

This book was sent to me by the author for an honest review.

Teaser Tuesday - Once In A Blue Moon

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"It's not like I haven't seen men in all states of undress. I live ten minutes from Hippie Hollow, a hangout for nudists. But this guy has a chest that reminds me of the Spartan's in 300, which even the most discriminating woman could appreciate."

~page 78 Once in a Blue Moon by Leanna Ellis

What's your teaser? PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT with either the link to your own Teaser Tuesdays post, or share your 2 ‘teasers’ in the comment section here. Thanks!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Dawn of the Dreadfuls Book Trailer

Review: Guest House

Guest House
Author: Babara K. Richardson
Publisher: Bay Tree Publishing, LLC
ISBN: 9780981957715
Audience: Adult
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Synopsis: (from Amazon)

On a summer afternoon, Melba Burns witnesses a nightmare collision. The unknown bicyclist dies in her arms, ending Melba's desire for success at any cost. She settles into her boxy old farmhouse trying to find a simpler peace. But Melba's stunning new roommate JoLee Garry only magnetizes messes and trouble-she brings a series of unexpected guests who transform Melba's fruitful solo life into something different, darker, and better.

My Comment:

What an interesting book! In the beginning, I had a hard time following where things were going. The story started with Melba, then went to different characters, as I tried to see where things were going. Then, the story took on shape, as the characters came together. Looking back, the way the book started was really interesting. It had held my interest. I wanted to know where things were going to end up and why things were happening the way the were. When they all came together, the book was quite hard to put down, and the end was a real page-turner.

There characters were quite believable, and some I swore lived right near us! I imagine these people could be a neighbor that you would be able to identify. The storyline centers around a good soul who helps others when they are down on their luck. The story is full of hurt, hope, deceit, love, rewards and a lesson or two that is learned.

Adult rating: There are numerous sexual encounters, although not very graphic, alcoholism, drug usage, adultery, child neglect, physical and mental abuse, and language.

If you'd like to learn more about the author, you can visit Barbara's website at: http://www.barbarakrichardson.com

This book was sent to me by the author for an honest review.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Review: Beguiled

Beguiled
Author:  and J. Mark Bertrand
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 9780764206283
Audience: Older teens through Adult
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis (from Good Reads)

When novelists Deeanne Gist and J. Mark Bertrand first met in a Houston critique group, they never expected where friendship would take them. She wrote romance; he wrote crime novels. But growing respect for each other's work culminated in the decision to try blending their talents into this wonderfully engaging story merging romance and mystery. 

Rylee Monroe walks dogs in old-money Charleston, a part of the city recently targeted by a daring thief. Logan Woods works the crime beat for the local paper but dreams of a life as a nonfiction writer. When the string of robberies takes a strange twist, Logan sees the making of a once-in-a-lifetime book that seems to circle around this charming, eye-catching dogwalker. But pursuing the truth means ignoring that he seems to be falling for her. And what is she hiding in her past that could crack the story wide open?



My Comment:

I love a book that I can sit down with and really get into. You know the kind... you find that half of the book is already finished and you haven't even realized that hours have passed away.  Beguiled is one of those stories. It has that "Cozy Mystery" feel to it and you just want to curl up with it and keep reading and reading. It's fun, full of mystery, some romance, and you can't help but love the main character and her friends. The plot is good, the mystery keeps you on your toes, but you'll probably come close to figuring it out by the end. I had it narrowed down to two people, then to one, then back up to two, then...

I know this is listed as Christian fiction, but for those that don't like the Christian genre, don't turn away yet. There really isn't a lot of "God talk" in the book and it's far from preachy. It's just a good clean read that should appeal to those that like romantic suspense, and for those that like a good mystery.

I rated this book older teens through adult just because it deals with adults and their life. There's no objectionable content, although there are a few scenes that cause your heart to race!

If you would like to learn more about the authors, please visit their websites. Deeanne Gist can be found at: http://www.deeannegist.com and J. Mark Bertrand can be found at: http://www.jmarkbertrand.com/

This book was supplied by Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Review: Heart of Stone

Heart of Stone - Irish Angel Series Book 1
Author: Jill Marie Landis
Publisher: Zondervan
ISBN: 9780310293699
Audience: Older teen through Adult
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis (from publisher):

She had the darkest of pasts. And he had everything to lose by loving her. Laura Foster, free from the bondage of an unspeakable childhood, has struggled to make a new life for herself. Now the owner of an elegant boardinghouse in Glory, Texas, she is known as a wealthy, respectable widow. But Laura never forgets that she is always just one step ahead of her past. When Reverend Brand McCormick comes calling, Laura does all she can to discourage him as a suitor. She knows that if her past were discovered, Brand's reputation would be ruined. But it's not only Laura's past that threatens to bring Brand down—it's also his own. When a stranger in town threatens to reveal too many secrets, Laura is faced with a heartbreaking choice: Should she leave Glory forever and save Brand's future? Or is it worth risking his name—and her heart—by telling him the truth?

My Comment:

Heart of Stone was a heartwarming read. Set in the 1870's in Texas, this novel had me under its spell from the first pages. The characters were proper and gentile, but still with the strength that you would expect from living it a tough time and place. I loved the main characters. Laura Foster was a hurt woman with a tarnished past, but she overcame it, and developed into a strong woman. Brand McCormick was the town preacher who had strong morals and a family. Both had strengths that were put to the test, making this story more that just a good read. It held two very distinctive messages... One - you can't hide the past, and two - practice what you preach.

I really enjoyed the storyline, the morals and lessons that were presented and the Faith that was talked about. It was an excellent example of what I would expect from Christian Historical Fiction. Jill Marie Landis wrote a beautiful story, and I'm really looking forward to book two!

Why I rated this as for older teens through adult - There are scenes and discussions of prostitution, abortion, and selling children into prostitution.

Oh, before I forget, I must warn you...you might want to keep a box of tissues handy. :)

If you would like to learn more about Jill Marie Landis, you can visit her website at: http://jillmarielandis.com

Book Blogger Hop - "A Follow Me Friday" Just for Book Lovers

Jennifer from Crazy for Books has put a new twist on an old idea. She has come up with new meme that follows in the spirit of "Follow Me Friday", but dedicated just for book bloggers!

If you'd like to participate, here's Jennifer's instructions:

Every day I seem to find another book blog that I start following. In the spirit of the Friday Follow, I thought it would be cool to do a Book Blog Hop to give us all bookies a chance to connect and find new blogs that we may be missing out on! It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs that they may not know existed!

So, if you'd like to participate, just repost this on your blog, sign MckLinky and check out other blogs in MckLinky! Let's connect and make new book bloggy friends!! So, if you consider yourself a book blogger, come join the fun!

Pretty please - Your blog should have content related to books, including, but not limited to book reviews.

If you have arrived here from the Book Blogger Hop, please leave a comment with a link to your page and let me know you've been here. Thanks!

Review: Before I Fall

before i fall
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publisher: HarperTeen an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
ISBN: 9780061726804
Audience: Age suggestion (from publisher): 14 and above
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis: (from publisher)

What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?

Samantha Kingston has it all: the world's most crush-worthy boyfriend, three amazing best friends, and first pick of everything at Thomas Jefferson High—from the best table in the cafeteria to the choicest parking spot. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life.

Instead, it turns out to be her last.

Then she gets a second chance. Seven chances, in fact. Reliving her last day during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death—and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.


My Comments:

When I started this book, I will honestly say I didn't like the characters. The girls were self-centered, cruel, and very superficial - in character with "the in crowd". As the story progressed, and Samantha gets another chance, the story turns, and she starts to grow and change. Yes, it's not a new plot (reliving the next day over and over), but the style of writing was captivating.

When I first started the book wasn't going to give this one to my teen to read. Peer pressure and cruelty certainly don't carry a positive message, but as the story progressed, there ended up being a wonderful lesson and moral to the story. Samantha learned exactly what was important in life, and passes this message on.

I was sure of the ending, but was pleasantly surprised with the twist. Yes, this one will definitely be something my daughter will get, and I'm sure she is going to enjoy it.

As for the age rating, the publisher rates it for 14 and up. There's much talk about sex, drugs and alcohol usage, smoking, and language. Yes, I know they are all typical of teen life, but be advised.

I received this book through the Barnes & Noble First Look Program. This has not influence my review in any way.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Review: Eye of the Red Tsar

Eye of the Red Tsar
Author: Sam Eastland
Publisher: Bantam Books
ISBN: 9780553807813
Audience: Teen through Adult
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Release Date: April 27, 2010

Synopsis (taken from Good Reads):

It is the time of the Great Terror. Inspector Pekkala - known as the Emerald Eye - was the most famous detective in all Russia. He was the favorite of the Tsar. Now he is the prisoner of the men he once hunted. Like millions of others, he has been sent to the gulags in Siberia and, as far as the rest of the world is concerned, he is as good as dead. But a reprieve comes when he is summoned by Stalin himself to investigate a crime. His mission - to uncover the men who really killed the Tsar and his family, and to locate the Tsar's treasure. The reward for success will be his freedom and the chance to re-unite with a woman he would have married if the Revolution had not torn them apart. The price of failure - death. Set against the backdrop of the paranoid and brutal country that Russia became under the rule of Stalin, Eye of the Red Tsar introduces a compelling new figure to readers of crime fiction. 

My Comment:

"Eye of the Red Tsar" is a terrific fictional story of the mystery of the Romanov murders.  It involves a well developed main character, Inspector Pekkala, who once served and was friends with the Tsar and his family. The way his character is presented really makes the book work. He is revealed bit by bit, making the whole theme even more mysterious.

The book starts out at a slower pace, building the characters and plot, but it makes the story solid and as time goes on, allows you to start piecing some things together. As the story continues,  the pace picks up and then takes on an urgent air that makes you not want to put it down until it is finished.  Full of mystery, murder, suspense, and a surprise or two, this is definitely worth the read.

I am really looking forward to the next book in the series, which according to the author's website will come out in 2011!!

If you would like to visit the author's website and find out more about the Romanov family, the time period, or more about the author and books, you can find everything at: http://www.inspectorpekkala.com/

I won this book from Good Reads First Reads program. This has not influenced my review.
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