Monday, August 31, 2009

Mailbox Monday

It's been several weeks since I participated in Mailbox Monday, and I just couldn't resist listing what I got last week on my blog today. :o) If you're interested in participating, too, you can find what you need to know here.

Here's what came in my mailbox last week:

Every Fixed Star by Jane Kirkpatrick (BookMooch)
A Place Called Bliss by Ruth Glover (BookMooch)
The Edge of Light by Ann Shorey (PaperBackSwap)
A Time to Love by Al and Joanna Lacy (Frugal Reader)
Stretch Marks by Kimberly Stuart
In the Arms of Immortals by Ginger Garrett
Rain Dance by Joy Dekok
The Fruit of My Lipstick by Shelley Adina
It's All About Us by Shelley Adina
Be Strong and Curvaceous by Shelley Adina
Who Made You a Princess? by Shelley Adina

Wow!!! Sometimes, it just takes listing them all down to really see what a great week it was! I hope to be starting on the Ginger Garrett book very soon as I have heard such wonderful things about her books. Plus, it's historical, so the odds are very good that I'll love it. :o)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Book Spotlight: Rose House by Tina Ann Forkner

Today's the last post I'll be doing for the Back to School Fiction Blog Tour. I hope you've found something these week to whet your whistle, as well as got you interested in getting one of these books for yourself. :o) Today's feature is Rose House by Tina Ann Forkner.

About the book:

A vivid story of a private grief, a secret painting, and one woman’s search for hope.

Still mourning the loss of her family in a tragic accident, Lillian Diamon finds herself drawn back to the Rose House, a quiet cottage where four years earlier she had poured out her anguish among its fragrant blossoms.

She returns to the rolling hills and lush vineyards of the Sonoma Valley in search of something she can’t quite name. But then Lillian stumbles onto an unexpected discovery: displayed in the La Rosaleda Gallery is a painting that captures every detail of her most private moment of misery, from the sorrow etched across her face to the sandals on her feet.

What kind of artist would dare to intrude on such a personal scene, and how did he happen to witness Lillian’s pain? As the mystery surrounding the portrait becomes entangled with the accident that claimed the lives of her husband and children, Lillian is forced to rethink her assumptions about what really happened that day.

A captivating novel rich with detail, Rose House explores how the brushstrokes of pain can illuminate the true beauty of life.

My thoughts:

Well, first of all, let me just say that the cover of this book is absolutely stunning! Ruby Among Us, Tina's first novel, had an equally stunning cover. I haven't gotten to read this one yet (it's next up in the TBR pile), but I'm very eager to get started on it. I have read multiple reviews that have praised this book, and I'm just itching to start turning the pages. Be watching for my review very soon! :o)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Book Review: The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper by Kathleen Y'Barbo

We're still on the Back to School Fiction Blog Tour, and I've got another book for you today. The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper by Kathleen Y'Barbo is the second book out of three books by Waterbrook Multnomah that I'm featuring this week.

About the book:

The future is clearly mapped out for New York socialite Eugenia “Gennie” Cooper, but she secretly longs to slip into the boots of her favorite dime-novel heroine and experience just one adventure before settling down. When the opportunity arises, Gennie jumps at the chance to experience the Wild West, but her plans go awry when she is drawn into the lives of silver baron Daniel Beck and his daughter and finds herself caring for them more than is prudent–especially as she’s supposed to go back to New York and marry another man.

As Gennie adapts to the rough-and-tumble world of 1880s Colorado, she must decide whether her future lies with the enigmatic Daniel Beck or back home with the life planned for her since birth. The question is whether Daniel’s past–and disgruntled miners bent on revenge–will take that choice away from her.

My thoughts:

I have to be honest...I really, really struggled to finish this book. I just could not seem to really get into the story and into the lives of the characters. One thing in particular that made it difficult to really get into the book was that it took 100 pages before the two main characters even met each other. Also, there were several places that most definitely could’ve been edited to shorten the book; at times, the author just had too much information.

The Christian portions of the book seemed like they were entered as an afterthought which bugged me a little since it’s supposed to be a Christian fiction book. The main character, Gennie, barely seemed interested in what God thought about her journey out west, but she definitely made sure that she at least uttered the briefest of prayers before boarding the train.

Overall, I just don’t think I could recommend this book to anyone. There are some other flaws that I could point out, but won’t so that I don’t spoil anything for those interested in reading this book.

2 Stars

Southern?  No
Sass?  Yes

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Book Spotlight: The Sweetgum Ladies Knit For Love by Beth Pattillo

This week Waterbrook Multnomah is presenting the Back to School Fiction Blog Tour! I've been priveleged to receive 3 books for this tour, and will be featuring all 3 of these books this week. First up is The Sweetgum Ladies Knit for Love by Beth Patillo.

About the book:

Once a month, the six women of the Sweetgum Knit Lit Society gather to discuss books and share their knitting projects. Inspired by her recently-wedded bliss, group leader Eugenie chooses “Great Love Stories in Literature” as the theme for the year’s reading list–a risky selection for a group whose members span the spectrum of age and relationship status.

As the Knit Lit ladies read and discus classic romances like Romeo and Juliet, Wuthering Heights, and Pride and Prejudice, each member is confronted with her own perception about love. Camille’s unexpected reunion with an old crush forces her to confront conflicting desires. Newly widowed Esther finds her role in Sweetgum changing and is surprised by two unlikely friends. Hannah isn’t sure she’s ready for the trials of first love. Newcomer Maria finds her life turned upside-down by increasing family obligations and a handsome, arrogant lawyer, and Eugenie and Merry are both asked to make sacrifices for their husbands that challenge their principles.

Even in a sleepy, southern town like Sweetgum, Tennesee, love isn’t easy. The Knit Lit ladies learn they can find strength and guidance in the novels they read, the love of their family, their community–and especially in each other.

About the author:

Beth Pattillo learned to knit in the second grade. She is the author of the book, Heavens to Betsy, the recipient of the Romance Writers of America Best Inspirational Romance Novel in 2006, and its sequel, Earth to Betsy. Beth lives with her husband and children in Tennessee.

My thoughts:

I'm very anxious to read this series, especially since I'm a southern girl AND from Tennessee. :o) But first....gotta read book one.

Come back tomorrow to see what book is featured next!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Book Review: Drawing Marissa and Forgiving Sean by Jessica Adriel

Back cover of Drawing Marissa:

When Marissa Gladstone's father dies, she runs to her neighbor, Sean Moffit, for comfort. Three years later with a ring on her finger Sean suddenly skips town and Marissa wakes up in the emergency room. Her heart takes its final blow when she learns the truth and tries to hold her shattered life together. But the only one who can heal her wounds is God, and getting to Him is the last thing on her mind. That is, until Sean's college buddy reveals a drawing that holds the key to her heart.

Back cover of Forgiving Sean:

Marissa Gladstone is happy and in love, or so she thinks. When her ex-boyfriend returns home after a two-year absence, he has plans to win her back, that is until he sees her with his arch nemesis, Hawke Davies. Faced with Forgiving Sean and reopening an old wound, Marissa confides in Hawke who has more secret of his own to reveal. Will Sean's troubled past finally release Marissa from his old or will Sean's old ways rekindle a flame that died way too soon?

My thoughts:

Young adult fiction has changed A LOT since I was a teenager. I was about 11 or 12 when I started reading books on a regular basis, and I started off with the Trixie Belden books and the Babysitter’s Club books. From there, I started to discover Christian YA fiction, and found books by Judy Baer, Robin Jones Gunn, and Patricia Rushford. I pretty much devoured everything by these 3 authors, and loved every minute of it. The books were great, but most of the time, they were pretty sugar-coated. In hindsight, I wish I’d had the opportunity to read some YA back then that had a little more depth.

Jessica Adriel is a YA author who has a great sense of what teenagers are facing today, and it shows in her writing. From what I have been able to glean from her website, she has “been there, done that,” and lived to tell about it. She currently has 2 books available—Drawing Marissa and Forgiving Sean—and she’s definitely given a picture of the real world of a teenager in both books. I was so impressed that she didn’t hesitate to show her characters as flawed individuals who didn’t have all the answers, but who needed to rely on God for their strength. Not only did she portray the kids that way, she cast the parents and other adults in the same light. One parent in particular really caught my attention. It was a dad who pretty much let his daughter do whatever she wanted as long as it wasn’t anything illegal. The sad thing is that I have known kids with parents exactly like this who care nothing about their child’s morals or their integrity.

These two books would be very high on my list of recommendations for anyone, but particularly teens, simply because they are the real deal. You won’t find summer trips to the beach or sleepovers with friends. Instead, you’ll get a look at the real world that some teenagers face daily, full of struggles, heartache, and love.

4 Stars for both books

Southern?  No
Sass?  No

There is also an interview with Jessica that I posted on my blog a couple of days ago. Click here if you're interested in reading it.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Author Spotlight: Jessica Adriel

Today, I am featuring a very special guest and a new friend of Jessica Adriel. I have just had the wonderful privilege of reading both of her latest books, Drawing Marissa and Forgiving Sean. We're going to talk about Jessica's books today as well as a few other things, I'm sure! :o) Welcome, Jessica!


How did your journey begin as a writer? When I was a kid, I played library. I would make my mom take me to the library and I loved to check out books. I just didn't like to read them. I began writing seriously in high school, everyone says they start with poetry but I really did. I wrote over 800 poems by my senior year.

If you weren't a writer, what would your dream job be? (this is assuming, of course, that writing is your dream job) :o) That's easy: A Marine Biologist. I fell in love with Sea World in 5th grade.

How much of your own personal experiences do you use for your books? Most of it. I've had a rather vibrant life. I use stories I was either involved in or observed.

Tell us about the books that you currently have available. The Chatham series follows the young Marissa Gladstone through the perils of teenage life with a deceased father and a sudden miscarriage. Running head on into the stigma's and rumors of her past, Marissa encounters God through a series of events that lead to her spiritual awakening and salvation. The greatest part of the story, is who God uses to draw his daughter back to him. In the second book, Marissa comes face to face with the father of her unborn child and the secret that tore their relationship apart. When Marissa is forced to choose between a new path or an old one, the readers experience for themselves that life long bonds are formed through physical intimacy and first loves...and even though there is forgiveness, wholeness is a virtue only God can give.

You seem to have a handle on the issues that teens face today. Besides writing, are there any other areas where you're able to help and provide advice to teens? Yes, I speak to small groups, at conferences or retreats and even at a local Mom's night out, homeschool meeting or a mother-daughter breakfast. We talk about dating, courting, relationships, etc. I have a lot to share and speaking to groups helps get that message across. There is contact information on my website

What do you hope your readers take with them after reading one of your books? Hope. Hope that God is real, and that He is listening. Hope that they too can tune into hear his voice, and feel his tender call. God is with us even when we feel alone and under a mountain of pressure. I want my readers to know that He is waiting for the invitation to show up in their lives.

I believe the last book in the Chatham Series will be available next year. Do you have any other books that you're working on for the future? Yes, The Great Erin Walker was a novel I penned back in 2006. It's being revamped for the teen market and deals with a lofty teen model who takes a nasty fall due to her pride. And when love finds her, she sees that its been right in front of her the whole time. The book delves into mother daughter issues, self-esteem and physical boundaries in dating.

What authors do you enjoy reading? I'm a big Non Fiction Reader. I enjoy Sigmund Brouwer, Francine Rivers, William Young.

When you're not writing, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time? I love board games, I shop online (big pocketbook fetish) and I research a lot of history, especially the slave trade era.

Where can readers find you on the web? I have a Facebook fan page with great updates and insight, and my website is another great source. I hope to release Hawke's journal this winter...its a precursor to Hawke's Tale the final book in the trilogy.


Jessica, thank you so much for joining us today! It's been a real treat! :o)
Readers, be watching later on this week for a review of both of Jessica's books. Trust me, even if you're an adult, you won't want to miss these 2 great young adult books!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday: Though Waters Roar by Lynn Austin

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

Though Waters Roar by Lynn Austin -- set to release on 9/1/09

Harriet Sherwood has always adored her grandmother. But when Harriet decides to follow in her footsteps to fight for social justice, she certainly never expected her efforts to land her in jail. Nor did she expect her childhood enemy and notorious school bully, Tommy O'Reilly, to be the arresting officer.

Languishing in a jail cell, Harriet has plenty of time to sift through the memories of the three generations of women who have preceded her. As each story emerges, the strength of her family--and their deep faith in the God of justice and righteousness--brings Harriet to the discovery of her own goals and motives for pursuing them.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Book Review: The Hope of Refuge by Cindy Woodsmall/5 Stars

About the book:

Raised in foster care and now the widowed mother of a little girl, Cara Moore struggles against poverty, fear, and a relentless stalker. When a trail of memories leads Cara and Lori out of
New York City toward an Amish community, she follows every lead, eager for answers and a fresh start. She discovers that long-held secrets about her family history ripple beneath the surface of Dry Lake , Pennsylvania , and it’s no place for an outsider. But one Amish man, Ephraim Mast, dares to fulfill the command he believes that he received from God–“Be me to her”– despite how it threatens his way of life.

Completely opposite of the hard, untrusting Cara, Ephraim’s sister Deborah also finds her dreams crumbling when the man she has pledged to build a life with begins withdrawing from Deborah and his community, including his mother, Ada Stoltzfus. Can the run-down house that Ada envisions transforming unite them toward a common purpose–or push Mahlon away forever? While Ephraim is trying to do what he believes is right, will he be shunned and lose everything–including the guarded single mother who simply longs for a better life?

My thoughts:

Cindy Woodsmall has done it again! She's got a knack for writing a good Amish story that is different from anything else available on Christian bookstore shelves. Just like all of her other books, she has written a great story in The Hope of Refuge that will stay with me for days.

This book has probably one of the most believable storylines for Amish fiction that I've read in a long time. Cindy has created convincing characters with real flaws and real reactions to the circumstances that surround them. She also has great skill in being able to draw you into the lives of these characters, and it's like you are right there with them through the good and the bad.

What Ephraim did for Cara by taking her into his home took a lot of guts considering his commitment to the Amish lifestyle. He had to face some harsh treatment from his family and friends for obeying God's command for him to "be Me to her." I felt that the author hit the nail on the head by adding that small statement to this book, and it made me wonder how much we apply that to our daily lives.

Trust me, you will not be sorry if you get the opportunity to read this great book. As I said before, it's a book that will stay with you and have you thinking for days. I am already looking forward to the next one that Cindy has coming out...thankfully, I only have a couple of months to wait!

5 Stars

Southern?  No
Sass?  No

Some other info for ya...
New York Times bestselling author Cindy Woodsmall is on tour, and she may be coming to a city near you! Don’t miss your opportunity to meet Cindy and have her sign her newest title The Hope of Refuge at one of the following events.
Tuesday, August 11 7 – 8:30pm
Barnes & Noble
5141 Peachtree Parkway, The Forum
Norcross , Georgia 30092
(770) 209-4244
Wednesday, August 12 7 – 8pm
Barnes & Noble Opry Mills
515 Opry Mills Drive
Nashville, Tennessee 37214

(615) 514-5000
Thursday, August 13 6 – 8pm
Barnes & Noble
2540 Futura Pkwy. #135
Plainfield , Indiana 46168
(317) 838-7941
Friday, August 14 6 – 8pm
Barnes & Noble
1550 West 75th
Downers Grove , Illinois 60516

(630) 663-0181
Saturday, August 15 1 – 3pm
Baker Books
2768 East Paris Ave SE
Grand Rapids , Michigan 49546-6139

(616) 957-3110
Sunday, August 16 2 – 4pm
Barnes & Noble Booksellers
3700 Rivertown Parkway Ste. 2058
Grandville, Michigan 49418

(616) 531-1825
Monday, August 17 7 – 8:00pm
Barnes & Noble Booksellers
1739 Olentangy River Road
Columbus, Ohio 43212

(614) 298-9516
Tuesday, August 18 7– 8:30pm
Joseph Beth Booksellers
2705 E. Carson Street
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15203

(412) 381-3600
Wednesday, August 19 6 – 8pm
Hackman’s Bible Book Store
1341 Mickley Road
Whitehall, Pennsylvania 18052-4610

(610) 264-8600
Thursday, August 20 1 – 3pm
Rachel’s Country Store (Amish dry goods store)
6352 McClays Mill Road
Newburg, Pennsylvania 17240
(717) 530-9452
Can’t make the tour? You can still follow Cindy’s adventures on Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter. See you there!
One more thing....

Cindy was recently covered on ABC Nightline. If you'd like to see the video from that interview, go here.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Booking Through Thursday: Recent Serious Read

Here's this week's question:

What’s the most serious book you’ve read recently?


I actually have 2--one non-fiction and one fiction.

The serious non-fiction read was called Stolen Innocence by Elissa Wall, and let me tell you just what an eye-opener that was. Up to this point, I'd only ever heard about the FLDS from what was told on the news and a handful of TV specials. Most of that is a little bit sugar-coated, and you don't really get the full picture of what life is like for women in particular. I was appalled at what Elissa had to endure on a constant basis, and amazed at what she has done since being able to flee her community.

The serious fiction read was The Veil by Diane Noble, and I have a review posted of it here. I read this one a few weeks after I had read Stolen Innocence simply because I wanted to read more about the history surrounding the Mormon church. This book was not overloaded with historical facts, but it definitely had a few pieces of information that were new to me. I would classify it as a serious read because it is based on the Mountain Meadows Massacre in the mid-1800's.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Book Review: Not Far From the Tree by Ruth Smith Meyer

This month, the CFRB is featuring Not Far From the Tree by Ruth Smith Meyer.

About the book:

Those who lived in the twentieth century saw more rapid changes than any previous century. Born at the beginning of this era, to a family that had already faced dramatic change and challenge, Rina seemed to come into the world with a zest for the revolution the 1900's would bring. Based on the story of a real person, the narrative alternates between the daily activities of a still spunky 99-year-old Rina and her vivid memories as she relives vignettes of her life. The impetuous and sometimes capricious nature of young Rina almost exasperates her parents Jake and Ellie.

When she is barely a grown woman, marriage to an imaginative and sometimes impractical dreamer husband, the arrival of babies, the great depression and life in general take over, moulding her into a strong woman not unlike her parents, proving the apple indeed does not fall far from the tree. The unbelievable twists in the lives of Rina and her beloved David will keep readers fascinated with the indomitable strength of the human spirit when there is a solid foundation of love and faith. Although this is a sequel to Not Easily Broken, it can readily stand on its own.

My thoughts:

Not Far From the Tree is a great book if you're looking for something a little different. It's based on a true story of a family with ten children (yep, you read that one right). Being a mother of so many is a calling that not many women have, but after the first few come along, Rina starts to get the hang of things and is a good example to learn from. What amazes me most about her is her patience. Obviously, raising 10 children could try anyone's patience, but on top of that, she has a husband who, while wonderful, really asks a lot of her. David is definitely a dreamer, and always has to try something new, particularly jobs. This forces the family to move as much as a military family would. Rina's patience is really put to the test when she sees some of the places they'll be living (I think I read it right when I saw "semi-trailer" somewhere along the way).

It is also encouraging to see how much Rina relies on the Lord to see her through trials and difficult circumstances. One of my favorite portions in the book tells the story of Rina being worried sick that there won't be enough money to feed the family until the next paycheck comes in. Rina takes her concerns to God, and depends on Him to see her family through. Not 2 minutes after she utters that prayer she gets an answer....actually 3 answers! My eyes welled up with tears after that because, even though I've never been that poor, I have had my faith shaken to the core that my only hope was that God would hear and answer my prayer. No doubt about it....He still does!

I truly hope that I'll be able to read the book that came before this one (Not Easily Broken) some day. If it's half as good as this one, I know that I won't be disappointed!

4 Stars

Southern?  No
Sass?  No

Check out these other member blogs this week for more info: