Friday, December 31, 2010

Reading Goals for 2011

My Reading Goals for 2011:

1. Read the Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. Three chapters per week at least.

2. Try to limit book tours to two a week.

3. Cut back on buying books especially Steeple Hill lines. (Seriously!)

4. Actually succeed at a read a long.

5. Read all of Georgette Heyer's mystery books. I think there are nine so one per month or until I am finished.

6. Read more classics, at least six.

7. Less TV more books. I watch it when I am on the computer in my sister's room so I end up watching more than I like.

8. Read more of a variety, reading challenges always help me on this.

9. Read one book per month off my TBR shelves. No pre determined list just whatever I feel like at the time.

10. Read some every day no matter what. :)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge 2011


I am a huge Jane Austen fan and have read all her books so this challenge sounded like a lot of fun. I am going to reread the book and watch the BBC movie again for it. It lasts all year. I am signing up for the Neophyte level. :)

It is being hosted by Laurel Ann at Austenprose.
http://austenprose.com/

2011 is a celebratory year for Jane Austen and her legion of fans. It marks the bicentenary of her first published novel, Sense and Sensibility. Since 1811, we have been enjoying her romantic, dramatic and witty story filled with divergent characters – the Dashwood sisters: cool, practical Elinor and emotional, impulsive Marianne, and the men in their lives: stoic Edward Ferrars, staid Colonel Brandon and rakish Willoughby. There is much to praise in this novel which has inspired many movie adaptations, book sequels and spinoffs.

The Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge 2011
We are very pleased to announce the Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge 2011. If you have not read Jane Austen’s masterpiece or would like to revisit it in honor of its significant anniversary, seen all of the movies or read all of the sequels and spinoffs, this is the year to join the challenge along with other Janeites, historical fiction readers and period drama movie lovers.

Challenge Details
Time-line: The Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge 2011 runs January 1, through December 31, 2011.

Levels of participation: Neophyte: 1 – 4 selections, Disciple: 5 – 8 selections, Aficionada: 9 – 12 selections.

Enrollment: Sign up’s are open until March 1, 2011. First, select your level of participation. Second, copy the Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge 2011 graphic and include it in your blog post detailing the novels or movies that you commit to reading and watching in 2011. Third, leave a comment linking back to your blog post in the comments of this announcement post. If you do not have a blog you can still participate. Just leave your commitment to the challenge in the comments below.

Check Back Monthly: The Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge 2011 officially begins on Wednesday, January 26, 2010 with my review of the novel The Three Weismann’s of Westport. Check back on the 4th Wednesday of each month for my next review in the challenge.

Your Participation: Once the challenge starts you will see a tab included at the top of Austenprose called Reading Challenges. Click on the tab and select the Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge 2011. Leave a comment including the name of the book or movie read or viewed and a link to your blog review. If you do not have a blog, just leave a comment about your selection that you finished with a brief reaction or remark. It’s that easy.

The Prizes
Oh, of course there are prizes! There will be giveaways each month of the book or movie that I review in the challenge here on Austenprose to be drawn from comments left with each post, and one lucky Grand Prize Winner of all 12 titles tucked into a Jane Austen tote bag ($200.00 value) to be drawn from comments left at any and all of the reviews left on this blog or yours. Yes, that means that your readers who comment on your challenge reviews have a chance to win too. Winners will be announced monthly two weeks after each blog post, and the Grand Prize winner will be announced on January 01, 2012. Shipment to US or Canadian addresses only.

So, make haste and join the challenge today. I am so looking forward to revisiting Jane Austen’s classic tale through her eyes and others. Here is a list of possibilities for your reading and viewing selections:

Books
Brightsea, by Jane Gillespie
Colonel Brandon’s Diary, by Amanda Grange
Elinor and Marianne, by Emma Tennant
Eliza’s Daughter, by Joan Aiken
Margaret Dashwood or Interference, by Mrs. Francis Brown
Reason and Romance, by Debra White-Smith
Sense and Sensibility (Marvel Illustrated), Nancy Butler and Sonny Liew
Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, by Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters
Sense and Sensibility: The Screenplay and Diaries, by Emma Thompson and Lindsay Doran
Suspense and Sensibility, by Carrie Bebris
The Annotated Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen and David M. Shaphard
The Cookbook Collector, by Allegra Goodman
The Dashwood Sisters Secrets of Love, by Rosie Ruston
The Dashwood Sisters Tell All, by Beth Pattillo
The Third Sister, by Julia Barrett
The Three Weismann’s of Westport, Cathleen Schine
Willoughby’s Return, by Jane Odiwe
Movies
Sense and Sensibility 1971
Sense and Sensibility 1981
Sense and Sensibility 1995
Sense and Sensibility 2008
I have Found it (Kandukondain Kandukondain) 2000
From Prada to Nada 2011
Scents & Sensibility 2011

 For more information see the challenge post:
http://austenprose.com/2010/12/30/the-sense-and-sensibility-bicentenary-challenge-2011/

L. M. Montgomery Reading Challenge 2011


Carrie at Reading to Know hosts this challenge every January.
http://www.readingtoknow.com/

I love Lucy Maud Montgomery and have read most of her books so my goal is to read some of her short stories for this challenge. :)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Best Books of 2010

Where has the year gone? So far I have read 254 books. I hope to finish several more. Most of the books I read this year were good so this was not an easy task. My favorites for 2010 are (in no particular order):

1. The One Day Way by Chantel Hobbs (NF)
2. Plain Paradise by Beth Wiseman
3. Hurricanes in Paradise by Denise Hildreth
4. The Heart Mender by Andy Andrews
5. Resurrection in May by Lisa Samson
6. Crazy Love by Francis Chan (NF)
7. The Silent Order by Melanie Dobson
8. Emily of Deep Valley by Maud Hart Lovelace
9. Licensed for Trouble by Susan May Warren
10. A Memory Between Us by Sarah Sundin
11. Ransomed Dreams by Sally John
12. In Harm's Way by Irene Hannon

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What's On Your Nightstand? December 28, 2010

I have a lot of books I want to read all at the same time. This is not even all of my TBR or what I am attempting to read. Yikes! I have not participated in this meme in months because I am so overwhelmed. The first picture are review books. The second stack and third stack are mostly my Steeple Hill books I want to read. The last picture are books from the library I want to read. The Winter Sea was recommended to me by Nancy at Bookfoolery and Babble and I can't wait to read it. I am also really looking forward to reading The Girl in the Gatehouse. I have been in a huge reading slump for the past couple months. I am hoping I can focus in the new year and get some books read. :)

Monday, December 27, 2010

It's Monday What Are You Reading? December 27, 2010

This is  a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at One Persons Journey Through a World of Books.
http://bookjourney.wordpress.com/

What I read last week:
- His Holiday Bride by Jillian Hart
- Their First Noel by Annie Jones
- Jingle Bell Blessings by Bonnie K. Winn

What I am currently reading:
Nothing

What I am reading next:
- A few more holiday books
- The Alaskan Love Inspired miniseries by various authors

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Book Blogger Holiday Swap Gift Received

I received my wonderful present from Holly. I love it. I can't wait to read it. :)

Fall Into Reading 2010 Wrap Up Post

This challenge really flew by this year. Katrina was a wonderful hostess again. I look forward to doing the Spring Reading Challenge. :)

Link to my original list.
http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2010/09/fall-into-reading-2010-my-list.html
What I actually read:
208. A Very Private Grave by Donna Fletcher Crow
209. Listen by Rene Gutteridge
210. Love, Charleston by Beth Webb Hart
211. A Memory Between Us by Sarah Sundin
212. Judgment Day by Wanda Dyson
213. The Mayan Apocalypse by Mark Hitchock and Alton Gansky
October
214. Goodness Gracious Green by Judy Christie
215. The House on Malcolm Street by Leisha Kelly
216. The Wife's Tale by Lori Lansens
217. Within My Heart by Tamara Alexander
218. Dark Road to Darjeeling by Deanna Raybourn
219. While We're Far Apart by Lynn Austin
220. Don't Look Back by Lynette Eason
221. Emily's Chance by Sharon Gillenwater
222. Lydia's Charm by Wanda Brunstetter
223. Heaven to Betsy by Maud Hart Lovelace
224. Betsy In Spite of Herself by Maud Hart Lovelace
225. Betsy Was a Junior by Maud Hart Lovelace
226. Betsy and Joe by Maud Hart Lovelace
November
227. Betsy and the Great World by Maud Hart Lovelace
228. This Time for Keeps by Jenna Mills
229. The Portrait by Hazel Statham
230. Calling the Shots by Ellen Hartman
231. The Silent Order by Melanie Dobson
232. Gingerbread Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke
233. The Lightkeeper's Bride by Colleen Coble
234. Divine Appointments by Charlene Baumbich
235. Betsy's Wedding by Maud Hart Lovelace
236. Love Finds You in Charm, Ohio by Annalisa Daughtry
237. An Honest Love by Kathleen Fuller
238. Anna's Return by Marta Perry
239. Winter's Awakening by Shelley Shepard Gray
240. Plain Paradise by Beth Wiseman
241. Emily of Deep Valley by Maud Hart Lovelace
242. The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig
December
243. I'll Be Home for Christmas by Julie Cannon
244. Dining with Joy by Rachel Hauck
245. Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball by Donita Paul
246. Holiday Havoc by Terri Reed and Stephanie Newton
247. Yuletide Cowboy by Debra Clopton
248. Mistletoe Prayers by Marta Perry and Betsy St. Amant
249. Winter Reunion by Roxanne Rustand

Did you finish reading all the books on your fall reading list? If not, why not?
No, I fell into a reading slump and I lost interest in reading some of them. I read 41 total books.

Did you stick to your original goals or did you change your list as you went along?
I changed my list as I went along.

What was your favorite book that you read this fall? Least favorite? Why?
My favorites include The Silent Order by Melanie Dobson and Emily of Deep Valley by Maud Hart Lovelace. My least favorites were Gingerbread Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke and Dark Road to Dareeling by Deanna Raybourn.

Did you discover a new author or genre this fall? Did you love them? Not love them?
Melanie Dobson was a new author for me and I loved her book.

Did you learn something new because of Fall Into Reading 2010 – something about reading, about yourself, or about a topic you read about?
I confirmed that novellas are not my favorite. I like more development in the story.

What was your favorite thing about the challenge?
I love the weekly questions even though I did not participate in all of them.


Thank you Katrina at Callapidder Days.
http://callapidderdays.com/

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It's Monday What Are You Reading? December 21, 2010

This is a weekly meme hosted by Shelia at One Persons Journey Through a World of Books.
http://bookjourney.wordpress.com/

What I read last week:
- Yuletide Cowboy by Debra Clopton
- Mistletoe Prayers by Marta Perry and Betsy St. Amant
- Winter Reunion by Roxanne Rustand

What I am currently reading:
- Head in the Clouds by Karen Witemeyer
- Shore Thing by Julie Carobini
- A Long Long Time Ago and essentially True by Brigid Pasulka
- Almost Heaven by Chris Fabry
- His Holiday Bride by Jillian Hart

What I am reading next:
As many Christmas books as possible. :)

Reviews I posted last week:

http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2010/12/yuletide-cowboy-by-debra-clopton-review.html

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Yuletide Cowboy by Debra Clopton (Review)





Mass Market Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Steeple Hill (November 16, 2010)
ISBN-13: 978-0373876402

Book Summary:

After three years in Mule Hollow's women's shelter, single mother Lynn Perry is finally spending the holidays in her own house. And then the town's matchmakers send over a hunky cowboy to hang Christmas lights…Lynn hopes there's no mistletoe around. With her painful past, how can she trust another man? Especially former bull rider and current pastor Chance Turner, who isn't planning on sticking around—or ever preaching again. Unless Lynn, twin boys and the matchmakers help her yuletide cowboy see he's the answer to a family's—and a town's—Christmas prayers.
My Review:
I loved this latest installment in the Men of Mule Hollow series by Debra Clopton. She is one of my favorite authors. I look forward to each book set in Mule Hollow, Texas. Her characters and plot are always interesting and unique. Her books are full of life and some lol moments even with some more serious topics. I had never heard of rodeo preachers before this series. In this book Chance who was a rodeo preacher has come home to heal after losing a bull rider he had been counseling. Lynn is a single mom with two boys who left an abusive situation years ago but still struggles with trust issues. Chance and Lynn are thrown together by the town matchmakers and the sparks fly. These are sweet charming Christian romance books. I love the characters found in Mule Hollow. There are appearances in each book from previous characters but you can start reading anywhere. Steeple Hill is republishing the first two books in this series soon. I definitely recommend this series. :)

INSPY Winners Announced

*** I helped judge the Amish category. I bolded the books I have read. ***

December 13, 2010—The INSPY Advisory Board announced today that the following books have been awarded the inaugural INSPYs in their categories. Recognizing the need for a new kind of book award, the INSPYs — http://inspys.com — were created by bloggers to discover and highlight the very best in literature that grapples with expressions of the Christian faith.


The INSPY Award winners are:

Crossing Oceans by Gina Holmes
, General & Literary Fiction (Tyndale House)

Evolving in Monkey Town by Rachel Held Evans, Creative Nonfiction (Zondervan)

She Walks in Beauty by Siri Mitchell, Historical Fiction (Bethany House)

The Knight by Steven James, Thriller/Suspense/Crime Fiction (Revell)

Green by Ted Dekker, Speculative Fiction (Thomas Nelson)

Plain Paradise by Beth Wiseman, Amish Fiction (Thomas Nelson)

Sons of Thunder by Susan May Warren, Romance/Romantic Suspense (Summerside)

Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr, Young Adult Fiction (Little, Brown)


The 2010 INSPY Awards cover books published from July 2009 through June 2010.


"We on the Advisory Board are really pleased with this year's winners," said Amy Riley, who spearheaded the INSPY's creation. "We're looking forward to building on this year's success in the future." The winner in each category was collectively chosen by a panel of blogger-judges, who were working from a short list of five books.


The Advisory Board collectively expressed their appreciation for the volunteer judges. "We really want to thank our judges for all their time and hard work," Riley said.


The judges in each category explained why they chose the winner they did:


• "Crossing Oceans by Gina Holmes focuses on issues we all must face, such as life, death, relationships, and the choices we make when faced with our mortality.… Holmes leaves her characters flawed and human, which makes them extremely relatable."


• In Evolving in Monkey Town, "[Rachel Held] Evans' honesty in telling her faith journey impressed us along with how much her love of the Lord imbued the entire narrative. Interweaving her own tale with the views of people she meets, Evans juxtaposes all of the voices about God in her life."


• In She Walks in Beauty by Siri Mitchell, "a steadfast faith is embedded into the plot seamlessly and not, instead, centered out as a forceful plot device. The novel's inspirational resonance will reach Christian and non-Christian readers alike."


• "The literary skill employed by Steven James creates a story" — The Knight — "that steals the reader’s sleep while also stealing their breath. Creating an unforgettable set of characters who face an unimaginable and escalating series of terrifying crimes, James captures both the imagination and heart of the reader as he spins his tale."


• "The brilliance of Green by Ted Dekker is the fact that it is both the beginning and the end of the series. He did something completely unexpected with the ending of his book, while tackling the Christian faith from a different angle."


• Plain Paradise by Beth Wiseman "is perfect for people who have never read Amish fiction before. The story line was interesting and it was easy to get involved with the characters. This book dealt with subject matter not normally found in Amish fiction, which made it a refreshing change."


• "Sons of Thunder by Susan May Warren is an epic story that spans a couple decades and takes place on several continents. Warren took us from the Greek Isles to Prohibition-era Chicago, and back again, with enough description to make us feel like we'd lived in both places; she filled the book with rich detail, multi-layered characters, and plot twists we never saw coming."


• In Once Was Lost Sara Zarr "authentically portrays Sam, a pastor’s daughter, grappling with her faith in the midst of personal upheaval and uncertainty. Teens will relate to this excellent and very real book that goes beyond a surface-level exploration of what it means to follow God."


The innovative INSPY Award is designed to help readers in their search for the preeminent faith-inspired literature of today. The INSPYs were created to select and showcase books with the highest literary standards that grapple with the Christian faith. To find these works, the INSPYs net is cast wide, accepting nominations of books aimed at the Christian bookstore market as well as those from the general market.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Sunday Salon December 12, 2010

The Sunday Salon.com

* It is only mid day Sunday but I know if I don't do this post early it will not get done.

* Friday night was my work Christmas party and I had a lot of fun. I ate way too much from the dessert table though. This weekend has been terrible for my diet.

* Saturday I did not leave the house. I did all the laundry, trash, dishes, cleaned out the clothes in my closet, and read a book. I am still working on my reading goals for next year. Right now I am trying to read as many Christmas books I already have in my TBR as possible. The house is not fully clean it still needs to be swept and mopped which happen to be my two least favorite things to do.

* Today (Sunday) I got up at 7:45 and got ready. I went to Wal Mart and Kroger. It took me almost three hours. I am not a quick shopper. I still did not come home with everything I needed. lol I killed my diet and got a plate lunch at Kroger. Rotisserie chicken, mac and cheese, green beans, and a piece of cornbread which was all delicious. I have a horrible craving right now for something sweet.

* My sister and I are about to go shopping. I need to get stuff for the dirty Santa party in our department at work this week. I am making drunken weenies. My grandmother used to make them for her work functions. They are big hit. All it is cocktail sausages, BBQ sauce, and an ounce of whiskey. Put it in the crock pot and let it simmer for about three to four hours.

* We are going to Sams, the mall, Barnes and Noble, and out to eat with my Dad and grandmother. I have no idea what time I am getting home tonight.

* I hope everyone has a great week and lots of reading time. :)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Secret Santa 2010 Present Received





My secret santa sent me a book, journal, and candy bar. The candy bar has already been eaten by a friend but here is a picture of the other stuff. There was no name or blog so thank you to my secret santa whoever you are. :)

Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball by Donita K. Paul (Review)




Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (October 5, 2010)
ISBN-13: 978-0307458995


Summary:

Can mysterious matchmaking booksellers bring two lonely hearts together in time for Christmas?

In a sleepy, snow-covered city, Cora Crowder is busy preparing for the holiday season. Searching for a perfect gift, a fortuitous trip to Warner, Werner, and Wizbotterdad’s (a most unusual bookshop) leads to an unexpected encounter with co-worker Simon Derrick. And the surprise discovery of a ticket for a truly one-of-a-kind Christmas Ball.

Every year, the matchmaking booksellers of the Sage Street bookshop host an enchanting, old-fashioned Christmas Ball for the romantic matches they’ve decided to bring together.

This year, will Simon and Cora discover a perfect chemistry in their opposite personalities and shared faith? Or will the matchmakers’ best laid plans end up ruining everything this holiday?


My Review:
Overall this book was just okay. I did like the premise and plot line. The faith element could have been developed more. The magical aspect was in the background and not overwhelming at all. My favorite character is Simon's sister Sandy. She is adorable. I liked how the relationship between Simon and Cora developed but I wish it was not a novella so there could be more to it. Several items could have been fleshed out more like Cora's family situation. I would say this is a sweet romantic Christmas novella. The cover is beautiful and it drew me in. Recommended for fans of this genre.


About the Author
Expertly weaving together fantasy, romance and Biblical truths, Donita K. Paul penned the best-selling, fan-favorite DragonKeeper Chronicles series. After retiring early from teaching, she began a second career as an award-winning author and loves serving as a mentor for new writers of all ages. And when she’s not putting pen to paper, Donita makes her home in Colorado Springs and enjoys spending time with her grandsons, cooking, beading, stamping, and knitting.
Review copy provided by the Blogging for Books program.

Gingerbread Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke (Review)




Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Kensington (October 1, 2010)
ISBN-13: 978-0758234957


Summary:

"Gingerbread Cookie Murder" is written by Joanne Fluke. When Hannah Swensen finds her neighbour Ernie Kusak with his head bashed in and sprawled on the floor of his condo next to an upended box of Hannah's Gingerbread Cookies, she discovers a flurry of murder suspects that's as long as her holiday shopping list. "The Dangers Of Gingerbread Cookies" is written by Laura Levine. Jaine Austen has been enlisted to help with her parents' retirement community's play The Gingerbread Cookie That Saved Christmas. Playboy Dr. Preston McCay is playing the role of the gingerbread cookie when he 'accidentally' falls to his death during the final act. Now Jaine must figure out if one of the doctor's jealous lovers was capable of murder. "Gingerbread Cookies And Gunshots" is written by Leslie Meier. When Lucy Stone discovers the body of Rick Juergens, whose five-year-old son Nemo disappeared, she senses foul play. Crumbs from a gingerbread cookie Lucy gave to Nemo are found in the back seat of Rick's car. With the hours quickly ticking till Christmas, Lucy races against the clock to find a killer before he strikes again.
My review of Gingerbread Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke
This is the only story in the book I read. I love the Hannah Swenson mystery series. I was a little disappointed in this one though. I know it is a novella but the story was underdeveloped in plot and characters. It felt like half recipes and half story. Nothing really happened in it. I guessed the mystery not far in. Nothing really happens between Hannah and her two love interests, the dentist and cop. Her Mom does have an interesting subplot that saves the book from being a complete waste of time. The only readers who might like this novella are die hard fans of Hannah Swenson. I can't wait to read the next full length Hannah Swenson mystery.

The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig (Review)



Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Dutton Adult; First Edition edition (October 28, 2010)
ISBN-13: 978-0525951872

Summary:

'Tis the season to get Pink! Lauren Willig's beloved Pink Carnation series gets into the holiday spirit with this irresistible Regency Christmas caper.

Arabella Dempsey's dear friend Jane Austen warned her against teaching. But Miss Climpson's Select Seminary for Young Ladies seems the perfect place for Arabella to claim her independence while keeping an eye on her younger sisters nearby. Just before Christmas, she accepts a position at the quiet girls' school in Bath, expecting to face nothing more exciting than conducting the annual Christmas recital. She hardly imagines coming face to face with French aristocrats and international spies...

Reginald "Turnip"Fitzhugh-often mistaken for the elusive spy known as the Pink Carnation- has blundered into danger before. But when he blunders into Miss Arabella Dempsey, it never occurs to him that she might be trouble. When Turnip and Arabella stumble upon a beautifully wrapped Christmas pudding with a cryptic message written in French, "Meet me at Farley Castle," the unlikely vehicle for intrigue launches the pair on a Yuletide adventure that ranges from the Austens'modest drawing room to the awe-inspiring estate of the Dukes of Dovedale, where the Dowager Duchess is hosting the most anticipated event of the year: an elaborate twelve-day Christmas celebration. Will they find poinsettias or peril, dancing or danger? Is it possible that the fate of the British Empire rests in Arabella's and Turnip's hands, in the form of a festive Christmas pudding?

My Review:

This was a good, light, funny in parts historical romance book. It is not heavy on history and is set in the Regency period (1803) in England. It is the seventh book in the Pink Carnation spy series but can be read alone. It actually happens after The Seduction of the Crimson Rose and before The Temptation of the Night Jasmine. I have loved the whole series and eagerly anticipate each book. I got hooked by Shauna at Readings and Ruminations. lol
The two main characters in this book are Turnip Fitzhugh and Arabella Dempsey. Turnip has made previous appearances in the other books and I am glad he finally got his own story. The book started off slow but picked up toward the middle. The mystery/spy part was interesting and I liked how the romance developed between Turnip and Arabella. This is a clean book so there is no remotely R rated scenes. I also enjoyed the Christmas aspect of it. I could have lived without the cameo appearances of Jane Austen though. I did not think it added anything to the book. I did not miss the present day flashbacks to Eloise and the diaries either. Overall I recommend this book even to fans of light historical romance who have not read the Pink Carnation series which I also recommend. :)


Thank you to Stephanie at Dutton Publishers for my review copy.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Maverick Heart by Loree Lough

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

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


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Maverick Heart

Whitaker House (January 4, 2011)

***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling of Whitaker House for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Loree Lough is a well-known and beloved Christian romance writer who has published over 75 books, 65 short stories, and hundreds of magazine, newspaper, and Internet articles. A tireless advocate of the inspirational fiction genre, she’s recognized as a leader in the field and is a sought-after speaker at writing seminars and workshops. Loree is a regular contributor to a variety of publications for writers, a columnist for Christian Fiction Online Magazine and keeps in touch with readers through her website and blog, The Lough Down, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and Shoutlife.


Visit the author's website.




Product Details:

List Price: $9.99
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House (January 4, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1603742263
ISBN-13: 978-1603742269

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


May 1888

Somewhere along the San Antonio Road

“You behave as though you’re the first woman to have a miscarriage!” Liam scolded Levee. “Pull yourself together. Can’t you see you’re making everyone miserable?”

That had been three days ago, but the memory of it still stung like the gritty, windblown Texas dust. Levee huddled in a corner of the stagecoach and prayed that her husband wouldn’t notice her tears. She’d never been the type to wallow in self-pity, but was it too much to ask her husband to show some warmth and compassion? As a doctor, he should have been able to acknowledge that her reaction to losing the baby was perfectly normal.

Frowning, she tucked her lace-trimmed handkerchief back into her purse—a mistake, for Liam saw and correctly guessed that she’d been crying. Again.

“You’ll never get over it if you don’t at least try to put it out of your mind,” he grumbled.

The impatience and disappointment in his voice hurt almost as much as his earlier reprimand, and Levee heaved a sigh. Oh, if only she could put it out of her mind!

Maybe he had a point. Maybe thirty-four days of grieving her lost baby had been enough. As one of the first women in the country to earn a nursing degree, Levee understood the mental and physical aftereffects of a miscarriage. But could melancholia explain why she felt her husband was too preoccupied about opening his new clinic in Mexico to mourn the loss of yet another baby?

Like it or not, they would arrive in Mexico in a matter of days. Chihuahua, of all places, where she didn’t know a soul, and the people spoke a language she didn’t understand. Where, according to Boston newspapers, outlaw gangs roamed the—

“Hold on to your hats, folks!” the driver bellowed. “Bandits, ridin’ in hard and fast!”

Amid the thunder of horses’ hooves and the report of gunfire, their fellow passenger, who’d introduced himself only as Mack, calmly unholstered two six-shooters. “You got a gun, doc?” he asked Liam as he peeked out through the leather window covering.

Liam clutched his black medical bag tight to his chest. “Yes, but—”

“Then you’d best get ’er loaded and cocked. There’re three of them and five of us. We might just have us a fightin’ chance”—he fixed his brown eyes on Levee—“if you can shoot.”

Just as she opened her mouth to confess that she’d never so much as held a gun, one of the stagecoach drivers cut loose a bloodcurdling scream. Quick as a blink, his body hurtled past the window and hit the ground with a sickening thump.

With a trembling hand, Levee clutched her throat, and Mack groaned. “Make that four of us.” He spun the chamber of the second revolver and, after pulling back the hammer with a click, wrapped the fingers of Levee’s other trembling hand around the grip. “Just aim and pull the trigger, and keep on doing that till you’re out of bullets.”

“B-but how will I know when I’m out of—”

“Are you two God-fearin’ Christians?”

She heard Liam’s dry swallow. “I don’t know what that has to do with anything,” he muttered.

Mack glared at him. “If you want to get out of this mess alive, you’d best start prayin’. Pray like you’ve never prayed—”

His warning was cut short by male voices shouting and terrified horses trumpeting. Gears and brakes screeched as the coach came to a jolting halt.

Then, a deadly hush rode in on a cloud of dust.

The door nearest Levee flew open with a bang. “Throw them guns into the dirt,” growled a masked gunman.

When Liam slid his revolver back into his doctor’s bag, Mack gave a slight nod, then tossed his own pistol out the door. Taking his other gun back from Levee, he uncocked it and flung it to the ground, too.

The bandit raised his rifle barrel higher. “Git on outta there, one at a time, and don’t try no funny business, neither.”

Levee climbed down first, followed by Liam. So much for Mack coming up with a last-minute scheme to save us, she thought as he joined them in the shade of the coach.

A few yards away, two more bandits sat in their saddles. The smooth baritone and well-enunciated syllables of the tallest didn’t fit the rudeness of his words: “Gather anything of value you find on their person or in their valises,” he told the rifleman. And then, using his chin as a pointer, he said to the man to his left, “You. Fetch the money.”

Their immediate obedience made it clear that this man was one to be reckoned with. Levee’s heart beat harder as his cohorts carried out his orders, but it wasn’t until the strongbox hit the ground with a loud clang that she noticed the other stagecoach driver, hanging like a half-empty flour sack over the armrest of his seat. She could almost hear Mack thinking, And now we’re down to three. Their only hope was the tiny pistol hidden in Liam’s bag. But even if by some miracle the cowboy managed to retrieve it, would it be enough to disarm all three thieves?

The second bandit fired one round, demolishing the heavy iron lock on the strongbox. If he noticed Levee’s tiny squeal of fright or Liam’s gasp of shock, it didn’t show. “Must be fifty thousand dollars in here!” he said, pawing through the contents. He gave a rousing “Yee-haw!” and saluted his leader. “All’s I can say is, you sure know how to pick ’em, Frank!”

“Shut up, fool!” bellowed the rifle-toting robber. “Now we’ll hafta kill ’em, so’s they won’t be able to tell the rangers they was robbed by the Frank Michaels Gang!”

The Frank Michaels Gang? Why did that sound so familiar? Levee’s question was quickly extinguished by a sickening admission: in her twenty-two years of life, she’d never given a thought to how she might leave this earth. Until now.

“No need to get your dander up,” Mack drawled. “Y’all just keep right on helpin’ yourselves to everything we’ve got. Think of us as the three wise monkeys. We didn’t see a thing or hear a thing, and we won’t speak a thing, either.”

“That’s right,” Liam quickly agreed, “even if the Texas Rangers ask questions—an unlikely event, since we don’t plan to seek them out.”

Levee looked up at her husband, unable to decide which surprised her more: the fact that he’d opened his mouth or that he’d opened his medical bag. But in one beat of her hammering heart, his hand disappeared inside it. In the next, his puny revolver dangled from his fingertips. “I think you boys should—”

One shot rang out, and even before its echo fell silent, Liam slumped to the ground. “No-o-o!” Levee wailed, dropping to her knees. She cradled his head in her lap and, for the first time since graduating from the New England Hospital for Women, regretted her nursing degree. Because one look at the bloody wound in the middle of his chest told her that although he wasn’t dead yet, he soon would be.

Liam gasped for breath. “I—I wanted to—give them—the gun,” he sputtered, “to p-prove we—c-could be trusted—”

“Hush, now,” she whispered, finger-combing dark curls from his forehead. “Shh.”

Mack threw his Stetson to the ground and kicked it. “Of all the….” Arms whirling like a windmill, he kicked it again. “Did you hear what the man said? He’s from Boston, for the luvva Pete. He meant you no harm. Why, I doubt he could’ve hit the broad side of a barn with that pea shooter of his, even if he’d tried!”

“Looked to me like he was aimin’ to shoot,” one of the bandits insisted, “an’ nobody takes aim at Frank Michaels whilst I’m around.”

The rifleman cursed under his breath. “Thought I tol’ you to shut up, Tom.”

“All of you shut up,” Frank snarled.

But Levee paid him no mind. “Fight, Liam,” she urged him. “Stay with me! You promised that as soon as we were settled, we’d—”

His eyelids fluttered open, and an enormous, silvery tear leaked from the corner of one eye. “S-sorry, Levee,” he rasped, grabbing her hand. “S-sorry….”

“There’s nothing to be sorry for, Liam. You’re going to be fine.” Oh, please, God, let it be true! “Just fine! Do you hear me?” No sooner had the words passed her lips than his body shuddered once, and the fingers that had been squeezing hers went limp. A dribble of blood trickled from the corner of his mouth to his chin. Then, one grating, ragged breath later, he was gone.

Levee couldn’t help feeling guilty about her role in his death. These horrible men had murdered her husband, but if she hadn’t put her dream of a nursing degree ahead of their wedding plans, they would have had a house to call their own. If she hadn’t spent so many hours on her feet at the hospital, they would have had a child or two, instead of two unfruitful pregnancies to mourn. Perhaps, with a family to occupy his time and fill his heart, Liam wouldn’t have reacted with such enthusiasm to the article in the Boston Globe that spoke of the need for doctors in Mexico. Why had she let him talk her into this move? And why had she bowed to the dictates of society and the Good Book regarding wifely submission? If only she’d been stronger and less self-centered!

She watched the thugs help themselves to Liam’s hard-earned savings. Watched them poke through her small suitcase as Frank Michaels tucked Grandpa O’Reilly’s gold pocket watch into his vest. He looked up, caught her staring, and touched a finger to his hat brim. “My apologies, ma’am,” he said, aiming a steely smile her way. “And to prove my sincerity, we aren’t going to kill you. You have my word on that.” A grating chuckle passed through the red and black fabric of his bandanna. “At least, not today.”

His implied threat hung on the parched air as Levee looked into her husband’s ashy face. Almost from the moment they’d left Boston, Levee had been afraid. Afraid of ghastly-looking bugs and wild animals, afraid of the unrelenting wind and the dry, desolate land that seemed to stretch on forever. Afraid of the outlaws and bandits she’d read about. Distraught and anguished, she was beyond fear now. A swirl of self-blame, guilt, and shame roiled inside her like a cyclone, putting put her on her feet.

Fists balled at her sides, Levee marched up to the leader’s horse. “You killed my husband for no reason, and you think a phony apology will make things right? You’re—you’re a lunatic, Frank Michaels, and so are these so-called men who ride with you.” Levee wiped angrily at her traitorous tears. “Look at you, hiding behind your masks. Why, you’re nothing but cowards, the lot of you. Heartless thieves and—and cold-blooded killers. You’d better shoot me good and dead, right here where I stand, because the very first chance I get, I will report you to the Texas Rangers, and nothing will please me more than to watch you hang for your crimes!”

Her hysterical tirade silenced even the chorusing insects and chirruping birds. Silenced the amused chortles of Frank and his cohorts, too. The men exchanged puzzled glances, and then the one named Tom said, “You want I should plug her, Frank, or d’you wanna do it?”

Frank rested one leather-gloved hand atop the other on his saddle horn, seeming to consider the idea. “I gave her my word, and I intend to keep it.”

Tom snorted. “She’ll probably die of thirst before she reaches the next town, anyway.” Winking, he added, “If the coyotes don’t get her first.”

Levee had been an unwilling eyewitness of what the mangy canines could do to a deer carcass, and in very little time, too. She pressed her fingertips to her closed eyes to block the grisly image, and when she did, the picture of Liam’s lifeless body took its place. A dozen thoughts flitted through her head. Could she have used her medical training to do something to save him? Why hadn’t she seen the gunman take aim before he fired at Liam? If she had, what might she have done to prevent the shooting?

“Coyotes,” she heard the rifleman say. “You got that right, Tom. No chance she’ll live long enough to tell anybody what happened here.”

Mack’s voice broke through. “That was uncalled for,” he grumbled. “The poor woman just lost her husband.”

As if she needed a reminder! Please, Lord, please, let this be a terrible nightmare. Let me wake up and realize that—

A deafening explosion ended her prayer. She wasn’t dreaming, as evidenced by the whiff of smoke spiraling from Frank’s gun barrel—and the ghastly sound of Mack’s body hitting the ground. “No-o-o,” she wailed for the second time today. “Not him, too! B-but you promised not to—”

“I only promised not to kill you,” Frank said, then coolly holstered his revolver and faced Tom. “Unharness the team.”

Frank and his men had ended three lives in barely more than three minutes, and with three words, he’d dismissed the matter. The howling wind whirled around them, gathering the dust into tiny twisters that hopped across the prairie like jackrabbits. Levee buried her face in her hands, unwilling to let the bandits witness one more moment of her misery. She had the rest of her life for that.

Life. She almost laughed at the notion. Sitting in the middle of the Texas prairie, waiting for only the good Lord knew what to kill her, wasn’t her idea of life.

An idea dawned: perhaps, if she got them good and angry, they’d shoot her, too, and she could join Liam in paradise.

So, Levee began hurling insults and slurs, shrieking like a crazed fishwife, and waving her arms. But she might as well have been a cactus or tumbleweed for all the attention they paid her. Infuriated, she picked up rocks and pebbles and hurled those, too, yet the outlaws continued to ignore her. It seemed they really did intend to leave her out here in the middle of nowhere to wait for starvation and thirst—or hungry coyotes—to kill her. Oh, Father, please let it be coyotes, she prayed. As painful and terrifying as that would be, she’d die faster that way than by nature’s cruel hand. Either way, she’d have ample time to repent of her sins of selfishness.

“You’re no better than the coyotes!” But her words disappeared into their cloud of get-away dust and gleeful bellows. Hugging herself, Levee sunk to the dirt between Liam and Mack and sat on her boot heels, rocking and groaning, groaning and rocking, as she waited for the tears to start.

But not a single drop fell. Not for her husband or the babies they’d lost, not for the brave young cowboy who died defending her, not even for herself, alone and afraid, somewhere in West Texas.

She didn’t know how many hours had passed when the sun began to sink below the horizon like a gold coin disappearing into a slot. A dark chill blanketed the plains, waking snaky shadows that slithered from bush to scrubby shrub. That’s when strange, forlorn moans spilled forth from Levee’s lips, ascended into the blackness, and merged with the midnight cacophony of night birds and bugs and coyote calls.

By the time exhaustion rendered her silent, the moon was high in the sky, and she found herself cuddled up to Liam. And, though his lanky body offered no warmth or comfort, that’s where she stayed, praying that before morning, the Almighty in His loving mercy, would call her home, too.

Monday, December 6, 2010

It's Monday What Are You Reading? December 6, 2010

This is a weekly meme hosted by Shelia at One Persons Journey Through a World of Books.
http://bookjourney.wordpress.com/

What I read last week:
- I'll Be Home for Christmas by Julie Cannon
- Dining with Joy by Rachel Hauck

What I am currently reading:
- Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball by Donita Paul
- Head in the Clouds by Karen Witemeyer
- Shore Thing by Julie Carobini
- A Long Long Time Ago and essentially True by Brigid Pasulka
- Almost Heaven by Chris Fabry


What I am reading next:
Hopefully some Christmas books.

Reviews I posted last week:
http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2010/12/dining-with-joy-by-rachel-hauck-review.html
http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2010/12/emily-of-deep-valley-by-maud-hart.html

Saturday, December 4, 2010

November Reads in Review

In November I read 15 books. Better than last month but not great. I was a little disappointed with Gingerbread Cookie Murder but I am looking forward to the next full length Hannah Swenson mystery. I read five Amish fiction books this month for a contest I am helping judge. I did enjoy them but I need a little break before my next one. I finished the Betsy series by Maud Hart Lovelace and can definitely recommend them to all girls young and old. My absolute favorites are in bold. I hope to finish lots of books in December. :)

November
227. Betsy and the Great World by Maud Hart Lovelace
228. This Time for Keeps by Jenna Mills
229. The Portrait by Hazel Statham
230. Calling the Shots by Ellen Hartman
231. The Silent Order by Melanie Dobson
232. Gingerbread Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke
233. The Lightkeeper's Bride by Colleen Coble
234. Divine Appointments by Charlene Baumbich
235. Betsy's Wedding by Maud Hart Lovelace
236. Love Finds You in Charm, Ohio by Annalisa Daughtry
237. An Honest Love by Kathleen Fuller
238. Anna's Return by Marta Perry
239. Winter's Awakening by Shelley Shepard Gray
240. Plain Paradise by Beth Wiseman
241. Emily of Deep Valley by Maud Hart Lovelace
242. The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig

October Reads in Review

In the month of October I read 12 books. I don't remember this month very well as to why it was such a bad numbers month but I liked pretty much everything I read. I was a little disappointed in Dark Road to Darjeeling but I will still read the next Lady Julia Gray mystery. My absolute favorites are in bold.

October
214. Goodness Gracious Green by Judy Christie
215. The House on Malcolm Street by Leisha Kelly
216. The Wife's Tale by Lori Lansens
217. Within My Heart by Tamara Alexander
218. Dark Road to Darjeeling by Deanna Raybourn
219. While We're Far Apart by Lynn Austin
220. Don't Look Back by Lynette Eason
221. Emily's Chance by Sharon Gillenwater
222. Lydia's Charm by Wanda Brunstetter
223. Heaven to Betsy by Maud Hart Lovelace
224. Betsy In Spite of Herself by Maud Hart Lovelace
225. Betsy Was a Junior by Maud Hart Lovelace
226. Betsy and Joe by Maud Hart Lovelace

September Reads in Review

In the month of September I read 17 books. My favorites are in bold.

September
196. Baby Makes a Match by Arlene James
197. Love Me Tender by Janice Hanna
198. The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove by Susan Gregg Gilmore
199. Cousin Kate by Georgette Heyer
200. Love Finds a Home by Kathryn Springer
201. The Bridge of Peace by Cindy Woodsmall
202. Making Waves by Lorna Seilstad
203. Autumn's Promise by Shelley Shepard Gray
204. The Black Madonna by Davis Bunn
205. Immanuel's Veins by Ted Dekker
206. Petra by T. L. Higley
207. A Hope Undaunted by Julie Lessman
208. A Very Private Grave by Donna Fletcher Crow
209. Listen by Rene Gutteridge
210. Love, Charleston by Beth Webb Hart
211. A Memory Between Us by Sarah Sundin
212. Judgment Day by Wanda Dyson
213. The Mayan Apocalypse by Mark Hitchock and Alton Gansky

August Reads in Review

I am really late in posting this but this is the list of books I read in August of this year. My favorites are in bold.

August
176. Fatal Loyalty by Sue Duffy
177. Bellwether by Connie Willis
178. Forgotten by Melody Carlson
179. Anna Finch and the Hired Gun by Kathleen Y'Barbo
180. Postcards from a Dead Girl by Kirk Farber
181. Crazy Love by Francis Chan (Nonfiction)
182. The Guardian's Honor by Marta Perry
183. The Crimson Cipher by Susan Page Davis
184. Life in Defiance by Mary Demuth
185. Shades of Morning by Marlo Schaleskey
186. Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart
187. TSI:The Gabon Virus by Paul McCusker and Walt Larimore
188. Wedding Cake Wishes by Dana Corbit
189. TSI:The Influenza Bomb by Paul McCusker and Walt Larimore
190. Protective Custody by Lynette Eason
191. Sweet Memories by Lavyrle Spencer (reread)
192. Tender Vow by Sharlene MacLaren
193. The Butterfly Effect by Andy Andrews
194. Amish Proverbs by Suzanne Woods Fisher
195. Bride in Training by Gail Gaymer Martin

What's In A Name? 3 Reading Challenge Wrap Up Post

Beth F hosted this year and I had a lot of fun like previous years finding books to fit in the different categories. :)

The blog for this reading challenge is:
http://whatsinname3.blogspot.com/

What I read for the challenge:
Body of Water - Boyfriends, Burritos, and an Ocean of Trouble by Nancy Rue
Food - Apple Turnover Murder and Gingerbread Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke
Music Term - A Distant Melody by Sarah Sundin
Place Name - Love Finds You in Holiday, Florida by Sandra Bricker
Plant - Cool Beans by Erynn Mangum
Title - A Lady Like Sarah by Margaret Brownley

Reading Challenges Update

Since I am having reading issues the last part of this year I have decided to call it quits on several reading challenges. I am seriously disappointed in myself but I am going to cut back next year and hopefully succeed at all of my goals. All of these reading challenges are great and I really wanted to complete them. :)

Calling it quits:
- 18th and 19th century Women writers
- TBR Reading challenge
- Decades 2010
- Review every book you read
- Read your own books
- Short Stories

Still working on:
- Flashback
- Christian Historical Fiction
- Holiday Reading Challenge
- Fall Into Reading
- I Better finish these books in 2010

I hope this reduces my stress level a little. I may end up not finishing all of the ones I am still working on. We'll see come December 31, 2010. :)

Dining with Joy by Rachel Hauck (Review)



Paperback: 320 pages

Publisher: Thomas Nelson (November 16, 2010)

ISBN-13: 978-1595543394

"Chef" Joy Ballard longs for a simpler life. But when a good-looking outsider arrives and spices things up, life becomes deliciously complicated.

Host of a regionally syndicated cooking show, Joy Ballard has a little secret: she can't cook. But when her show is picked up by a major network and given a prime time slot, her world heats up faster than a lowcountry boil.

Enter Luke Redmond: handsome, creative, and jobless after having to declare bankruptcy of his Manhattan restaurant. When her producers ask him to co-host the show, Joy sees Luke as her way out. But Luke sees much more than just a co-host in Joy.

Their relationship begins to simmer on and off set. Until Joy's secret is revealed and her reputation is ruined on national television by her rival, Wenda Devine.

But could Devine's cruelty be a divine gift? Losing Luke--and her sister--forces Joy to consider where her worth really comes from. Could God be cooking up an even bigger adventure from the mess? And will Joy hang on long enough to find out?

My Review:
This was a very enjoyable book. It is the third in the Lowcountry series but stands alone fine. The first two books were good also but this is my favorite so far. The whole premise behind the plot was interesting and unique. I have not read a book like this one before. The author has a beautiful way with words and the descriptions were great. The characters and setting feel real like they are coming out of the page and you are really there. This is a definitely a Christian fiction book. The faith element is woven into the plot and fits perfectly. God is good and God is love are two statements that are given to Joy as gold. I love how the relationship between Joy and Luke sizzled but in a appropriate way. Although the ending tied up all loose ends just a little too perfect, I still liked it. Highly Recommended. :)
Review copy provided by Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Emily of Deep Valley by Maud Hart Lovelace (Review)

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Emily of Deep Valley
Harper Perennial Modern Classics; Reprint edition (October 12, 2010)
by
Maud Hart Lovelace
forward by Mitali Perkins






A word from Mitali: Who In The World Is Mitali Perkins?



That's a good question. I've been trying to figure it out myself, spending most of my life crossing borders.



I was born Mitali Bose in Kolkata (Calcutta), India, and always tried to live up to my name—which means “friendly” in the Bangla language. I had to! Because my family moved so much, it was the only way I could make new friends.



By the time I was 11, I'd lived in Ghana, Cameroon, London, New York and Mexico before settling in California just in time for middle school. Yep, I was the new kid again, in seventh grade, the year everybody barely makes it through.



My biggest lifeline during those early years was story. Books were my rock, my stability, my safe place as I navigated the border between California suburbia and the Bengali culture of my traditional home.



After studying political science at Stanford and public policy at U.C. Berkeley, I taught in middle school, high school and college. When I began to write fiction, my protagonists were often—not surprisingly—strong female characters trying to bridge different cultures.



Mitali Perkins is the author of several books for young people, including SECRET KEEPER (Random House), MONSOON SUMMER (Random House), RICKSHAW GIRL (Charlesbridge), and the FIRST DAUGHTER books (Dutton).



ABOUT THE BOOK



Often cited as Maud Hart Lovelace’s (of Betsy-Tacy fame) best novel, Emily of Deep Valley is now back in print, with a new foreword by acclaimed young adult author Mitali Perkins and new archival material about the characters’ real lives.



Emily Webster, an orphan living with her grandfather, is not like the other girls her age in Deep Valley, Minnesota. The gulf between Emily and her classmates widens even more when they graduate from Deep Valley High School in 1912. Emily longs to go off to college with everyone else, but she can’t leave her grandfather. Emily resigns herself to facing a “lost winter,” but soon decides to stop feeling sorry for herself. And with a new program of study, a growing interest in the Syrian community, and a handsome new teacher at the high school to fill her days, Emily gains more than she ever dreamed...



In addition to her beloved Betsy-Tacy books, Maud Hart Lovelace wrote three more stories set in the fictional town of Deep Valley: Winona’s Pony Cart, Carney’s House Party and Emily of Deep Valley. Longtime fans and new readers alike will be delighted to find the Deep Valley books available again for the first time in many years.



If you would like to browse inside Emily of Deep Valley, go HERE.

My Review:

I loved this book. I have read all of the Betsy Tacy series. I have the other two Deep Valley books on order. So far Emily of Deep Valley is my favorite. It is one of my favorite books for the year. It is a sweet but interesting classic. Emily still deals with the same issues as girls do today like boy troubles. I love it and can't exactly explain why. lol Highly Recommended. :)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Its Monday What Are You Reading? November 29, 2010

This is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at One Persons Journey Through a World of Books.
http://bookjourney.wordpress.com/

What I read last week:

- Betsy's Wedding by Maud Hart Lovelace
- Love Finds You in Charm, Ohio by Annalisa Daughety
- An Honest Love by Kathleen Fuller
- Anna's Return by Marta Perry
- Winter's Awakening by Shelley Sheppard Gray
- Plain Paradise by Beth Wiseman
- Emily of Deep Valley by Maud Hart Lovelace
- The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig

What I am currently reading:

- Head in the Clouds by Karen Witemeyer
- Shore Thing by Julie Carobini
- A Long Long Time Ago and essentially True by Brigid Pasulka
- Almost Heaven by Chris Fabry
- I'll Be Home for Christmas by Julie Cannon

What I am reading next:
A variety of Christmas themed books coming and finish some review books for the year.

Reviews I posted last week:

http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2010/11/lightkeepers-bride-by-colleen-coble.html

http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2010/11/divine-appointments-by-charlene.html

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Divine Appointments by Charlene Baumbich (Review)


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Divine Appointments

WaterBrook Press; Reprint edition (September 21, 2010)

by

Charlene Baumbich




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




Charlene Ann Baumbich is the author of the Partonville series. A popular speaker, journalist, and author, for several years she has lectured to women’s groups and retreats. Baumbich is also an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Today’s Christian Woman, and numerous other publications. She is the author of six nonfiction books of humor and inspiration.



Charlene says: For over two decades of writing and speaking, my passionate pursuit to entertain and rejuvenate using humor (I love to laugh-especially at myself), uncommon wisdom, and passionate insights has been affirmed through countless calls, letters, and evaluation sheets. A reader recently e-mailed, "There is so much depression and sadness in this world. I applaud you for reminding all of us to treasure the moments in our lives, and for encouraging us to find joy in the little things. What you do helps so many to rise above the heaviness of life and live, and laugh, and face another day, so thanks!!!!" That is exactly why I keep doing what I do.



I am a firm believer in the power of story (short or book-length, funny or insightful, real or fiction, on stage or page) to accomplish my purpose, which is to remind you: Don't Miss Your Life! Whether you're tuning into me live or in print, fasten your seat belt. I promise you a wild, fun, provocative, heart-warming ride.



ABOUT THE BOOK







Josie Brooks, at the age of 47, thought she was leading an enviable single life. A successful consultant, she calls her own shots, goes where the money is, and never needs to compromise. But her precisely managed world begins to falter during a Chicago contract when an economic downturn, a bleeding heart boss, and the loyalty and kindness between endangered employees ding her coat of armor.



Throw in hot flashes, a dose of loneliness, a peculiar longing for intimacy, an

unquenchable thirst—not to mention a mysterious snow globe with a serene landscape, complete with a flowing river and lush greenery that seems to be beckoning her in—and Josie’s buttoned-up life is on the verge of coming completely undone.



Maybe her solitary existence isn’t as fulfilling as she has convinced herself to believe. It will take a few new friends, a mystical encounter, and an unexpected journey to set Josie on her own path to “right-sizing” and making the life changes that really matter. Filled with laugh-out loud moments and a gentle dash of inspiration, Divine Appointments is another heartwarming charmer from a master storyteller.



If you would like to read the first chapter of Divine Appointments, go HERE.


My Review:

I really liked this book. I have read all of her other fiction books and there is always something to make me laugh. This book is the second in the snow globe series but can stand alone completely. I liked it better than the first even though it is good too. Josie's story just appealed to me. I love how her relationships develop. There is even a little romance in the book. The characters and plot are unique and interesting. They are well developed including the secondary characters. One of which I loved because she is the type of person at work who makes everyone feel better and encourages others and lives out her faith. Sometimes it felt like Josie's story was in the background a little but it worked out fine. The mystical snow globe part is not overwhelming or too crazy. This is a Christian fiction book but that aspect is not overwhelming either. Highly Recommended. :)

Thankful for ...


I am not so great with words but I have a lot to be thankful for this year so I am going to try express my thoughts.
I am thankful for God who never gives up on us and loves us the most of all.
I am thankful for my family who puts up with me good and bad and still loves me.
I am thankful for my work family.
I am thankful for Sherry, my manager at work. She is a wonderful boss and helps me very much.
I am thankful for the PT department at work. I love yall to pieces and am grateful for all the help and advice you give me. Thank you for saving me from myself several times.
I am thankful to work in a good environment and have lots of friends there.
I am thankful for the military that is defending us right now.
I am thankful to live in the USA. There are other places I want to visit but this is home.
I am thankful for the good changes that have happened in my life this year including weight loss and my new haircut.
I am thankful for having a safe place to live, food to eat, and a job.
I am thankful for the kitty cats.
I am thankful for having lots of books to read and the ability to read them.
I am thankful for the Internet and the relationships I have formed through it and the book blogging community.
I am thankful for all my blog readers.
I am thankful for numerous other things but I will stop here and wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. :)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Lightkeeper's Bride by Colleen Coble (Review)



This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Lightkeeper's Bride
Thomas Nelson (October 19, 2010)
by
Colleen Coble




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:





Author Colleen Coble’s thirty-five novels and novellas have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Romance Writers of America prestigious RITA, the Holt Medallion, the ACFW Book of the Year, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers’ Choice, the Booksellers Best, and the 2009 Best Books of Indiana-Fiction award. She writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail and love begin with a happy ending.



A word from Colleen: God has been faithful, though the path has not been easy. Nothing worth doing is ever easy. God wouldn’t let me give up, and I like to think the struggle made me stronger. God has given me so much in my life, most importantly my great family, a loving church family at New Life Baptist Church, and my wonderful publishing family at Nelson Books.



ABOUT THE BOOK



A thrilling romantic mystery set in the lush Victorian age.



Central Operator Katie Russell's inquisitive ways have just uncovered her parents' plan for her marriage to wealthy bachelor Bartholomew Foster. Her heart is unmoved, but she knows the match will bring her family status and respectability.



Then Katie overhears a phone conversation that makes her uneasy and asks authorities to investigate. But the caller is nowhere to be found. Mysterious connections arise between the caller and a ship lost at sea.



Against propriety, Katie questions the new lighthouse keeper, Will Jesperson. Then a smallpox epidemic forces their quarantine in his lighthouse. Though of low social status, Will's bravery and kindness remove Katie's suspicion and win her love. Katie and Will together work to solve the mystery of the missing girl and the lost ship as God gives the couple the desire of their hearts.



If you would like to read the first chapter of The Lightkeeper's Bride, go HERE.

My Review:

I really enjoyed reading this book. Even though it is book two in a series it can stand alone fine. It is a Christian historical romantic suspense book. It is not heavy on the history and has a good balance of romance, suspense, and mystery. It held my attention from the beginning and is well written. The characters and plot are interesting and unique. Highly Recommended. :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

It's Monday What Are You Reading? November 22, 2010

This is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at One Persons Journey Through a World of Books.
http://bookjourney.wordpress.com/

What I read last week:
- Gingerbread Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke
- The Lightkeeper's Bride by Colleen Coble
- Divine Appointments by Charlene Baumbich

What I am currently reading:
- Betsy's Wedding by Maud Hart Lovelace
- Head in the Clouds by Karen Witemeyer
- Lies Women Believe and the Truths that set them free by Nancy Leigh DeMoss
- Shore Thing by Julie Carobini
- A Long Long Time Ago and essentially True by Brigid Pasulka
- Almost Heaven by Chris Fabry

What I am reading next:
- Uncertain Heart by Andrea Boeshaar
- Love Finds You in Charm Ohio by Annalisa Daugherty
- An Honest Love by Kathleen Fuller
- Anna's Return by Marta Perry
- The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig

Reviews I posted last week:

http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2010/11/silent-order-by-melanie-dobson-review.html

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Sunday Salon November 21, 2010

The Sunday Salon.com

* It so does not feel like a Sunday night. I had a busy but good weekend.

* Friday night I went to visit my 13 year old cousin Mollie. She had a cadaver's bone put in her last week. She fell and broke her arm a few years ago and the bone quit growing. She is very active. She plays the violin and swims. The pain was awful after this surgery. My poor baby.

* Saturday I went shopping and ran errands. I cleaned and did laundry and finished a book too.

* Today I finished a book, went to lunch at IHOP with my grandmother and sister, went to Bed Bath and Beyond with them, and cooked oven roasted chicken with red potatoes and steamed broccoli.

* Needless to say my lifestyle changes have not been going so hot this month. I hope to make it through to the new year without gaining weight or fat back. We'll see. I have been thinking about starting a new blog to chronicle my food and exercise stuff. What do you think?

* I feel funny about this week. Holiday weeks always do that to me. There is something in the air it seems. I am off Wednesday through Friday. So five days total. I will miss work. I know I am quite odd. Its okay. lol

* It is my bed time so I am going to go get my things ready for tomorrow.

* I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving week and some reading time. :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Silent Order by Melanie Dobson (Review)


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Silent Order

Summerside Press (November 1, 2010)

by

Melanie Dobson




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




Melanie Dobson is the award-winning author of The Black Cloister; Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana; and Together for Good.



Prior to launching Dobson Media Group in 1999, Melanie was the corporate publicity manager at Focus on the Family where she was responsible for the publicity of events, products, films, and TV specials. Melanie received her undergraduate degree in journalism from Liberty University and her master's degree in communication from Regent University. She has worked in the fields of publicity and journalism for fifteen years including two years as a publicist for The Family Channel.



Melanie and her husband, Jon, met in Colorado Springs in 1997 at Vanguard Church. Jon works in the field of computer animation. Since they've been married, the Dobsons have relocated numerous times including stints in Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Colorado, Berlin, and Southern California. These days they are enjoying their new home in the Pacific Northwest.



Jon and Melanie have adopted their two daughters —Karly (6) and Kinzel (5). When Melanie isn't writing or entertaining their girls, she enjoys exploring ghost towns and dusty back roads, traveling, hiking, line dancing, and reading inspirational fiction.





ABOUT THE BOOK





Rural America - 1928. After the murder of his partner, Detective Rollin Wells hides away in an Amish home near Sugarcreek, Ohio, to find out who in the police force is

collaborating with Cleveland’s notorious mob. While Rollin searches for answers to his partner’s death, he befriends an elusive young Amish woman named Katie and her young son. As Rollin learns about Katie’s past, he’s shocked at the secret Katie is hiding - a secret that has haunted Rollin for eight years.



If you would like to read the first chapter of The Silent Order, go HERE.



My Review:

I loved this book. It is one of the best I have read this year. It does not fit in one category. It is some Amish, crime, suspense, and a little romance too. It is well written and the plot does not feel like the same ole same ole. I really enjoyed reading it. It kept my attention from page one and I felt like I was in the story. Highly Recommended. :)

Reading Meme

BBC READING MEME:
Have you read more than 6 of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here.

Instructions: Bold those books you've read in their entirety Italicize the ones you started but didn't finish or read an excerpt. Tag other book nerds. Tag me as well so I can see your responses!

1. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2. The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4. Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
5. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6. The Bible
7. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8. Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9. His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11. Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14. Complete Works of Shakespeare
15. Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17. Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18. The Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19. The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20. Middlemarch – George Eliot
21. Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22. The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23. Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26. Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27. Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28. Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29. Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30. The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33. Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
34. Emma – Jane Austen
35. Persuasion – Jane Austen
36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis (repetitive see 33)
37. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Berniere
39. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40. Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41. Animal Farm – George Orwell
42. The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
43. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45. The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46. Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47. Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49. Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50. Atonement – Ian McEwan
51. Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52. Dune – Frank Herbert
53. Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55. A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56. The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57. A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60. Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63. The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64. The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65. Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66. On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67. Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68. Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69. Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70. Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71. Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72. Dracula – Bram Stoker
73. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74. Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75. Ulysses – James Joyce
76. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77. Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78. Germinal – Emile Zola
79. Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80. Possession – AS Byatt
81. A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82. Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83. The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84. The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85. Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86. A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87. Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90. The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92. The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93. The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94. Watership Down – Richard Adams
95. A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96. A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97. The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98. Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100. Les Miserables – Victor Hugo