Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Review and Giveaway: Daily Guideposts 2011

Daily Guideposts 2011 (Various Authors)

Publication Date: October 2010
Publisher: Ideals Publications
Genre: Christian Growth/Devotional
ISBN-13: 9780824948092
ISBN: 0824948092

(Received for review from Phenix & Phenix Publicity)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Borders, IndieBound

Daily Guideposts Website: Click HERE

Synopsis (Book Blurb):

A Spirit-Lifting Devotional

For thirty-five years, Daily Guideposts has been America's favorite devotional, a daily companion helping millions of readers to a closer walk with God and a fuller, richer life. For every day of 2011, you'll find a short Scripture verse for reflection, a true, first-person story of the ways God speaks to us in the ordinary events of life, and a brief prayer to help you put the day's message to work in your own life.

In this special thirty-fifth anniversary edition, you'll learn how simplifying your life can give you more room to love, share a harrowing journey from the darkness of depression back into the light, find healing for the heart in the heart of Africa, and discover how a casual postcard helped a sorrowing widow discover a new and still growing love.

Simply and directly, in just five minutes a day . Daily Guideposts 2011 will help you appreciate the tokens of love that God will be showing you every day of the year.


As many of you know I'm always looking for good devotional materiel for my daughters and myself. Daily Guideposts has always been a favorite of mine and I was excited to be able to review the 2011 edition. This is the 35th anniversary edition and it's just beautiful, with a great cover art as well as a ribbon to help you keep your place everyday.

One of the things that I have always appreciated about Daily Guideposts is that it gives you a Scripture reference to read and meditate on every day. The reason most people use a devotional is to spend time with God every day. It's great to read the first person accounts and learn from the experiences of the authors, but there is no substitute for reading the Bible daily and taking wisdom from it's pages. Daily Guideposts gives you not only a Scripture, but also a short prayer to help you direct your thoughts toward God and what he has to say to you from each devotion.

I also like the way the book is written. There are several different contributing authors from book writers we all love, like Debbie Macomber to people who work behind the scenes everyday at Daily Guideposts. This gives a reader a wide range of experiences, beliefs and ideas from which to glean meaning. By having so many different viewpoints it is easy for readers to find something that appeals to them within the book. Readers will find each devotion quick and easy to understand which is important for people on the go and for those who are just starting out in their Christian walk.

I am looking forward to reading this one every day in 2011 and I think it will be a great devotional for a wide range of readers. Some of the topics included in this years edition include: acceptance, memories, empathy, reliability, understanding and trust. These are just a few of the great topics which you'll find here and I think you'll really enjoy reading the experiences of others. You should get it now so you'll be all set for the new year.

Daily Guideposts 2011 is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!


I have one gorgeous hardcover copy available of Daily Guideposts 2011 for this giveaway, courtesy of Phenix & Phenix Publicity.

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Review: Letters to Ethan

Letters to Ethan: A Grandfather's Legacy of Life & Love by Tom McQueen

Publication Date: November 2010
Publisher: Hillcrest Publishing Group
Genre: Letters/Memoir-ish
ISBN-13: 9780984196593
ISBN: 0984196595

(Received for review from Phenix & Phenix Publicity)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Borders, IndieBound

Author's Website: Click HERE!
Legacy Nation USA Website: Click HERE!
Legacy Nation's Facebook page: Click HERE!
Excerpt: Click HERE!

Book Trailer:

Synopsis (Book Blurb):

Dear Ethan:

Like most of us, you didn't come with an owner's manual. You'll probably wonder - more than once - why you're here. What is your life's purpose? How will you face the adversity your life will surely bring?

Despite appearances, no one's life is ever simple. We have our parents and our friends to learn from; they have much to teach us. And you'll l hear a lot from, and about, public figures - athletes, newscasters, actors, politicians, artists...celebrities of every kind.

But making sense of the world we live in is something each one of us struggles with. The truth is, life if complicated. It's wonderful; it's awful; it's a thrill; it's a bore. And it can feel almost unbearable at times. Almost.

Fortunately, you're blessed with a family that loves you. Your grandfather, Tom McQueen, wrote you this book. No one has all the answers, but he's already faced many of the challenges you'll encounter.

Even those of us who've been around awhile can learn a thing or twelve, from your grandpa. He's helped a lot of folks as a therapist; he's inspired audiences with his seminars; and he's shared his thoughts in several other books.

In these letters to you, Ethan, your grandpa reveals the mistakes and the miracles that have shaped his life. Anyone can give advice, but true wisdom is hard-won. And the book you're holding contains plenty of it.

Coach Lou Holtz


At just over 150 pages, Letters to Ethan is a short book with a powerful message. Containing dozens of letters written by Tom McQueen for his grandson Ethan, this book is somewhat like a memoir, offering advice and wisdom to his grandson. Grandparents are an essential part of most young children's lives. They help to shape the growth and development of youngsters in every country and all across the world. Giving our children a sense of their own culture and heritage is so important in an ever-changing world and parents and grandparents are the anchor's to our past.

Tom McQueen is the founder of The American Family Foundation, whose mission is to enrich the lives of children and families in the United States and is currently working on a campaign to encourage parents and grandparents to write letters to the next generation which stemmed from his work on this book. People can go to the Legacy Nation USA website to upload letters to their children and grandchildren so that their legacy will be able to stand the test of time.

I found this book, not only encouraging but full of little tidbits of wisdom that I wish I could give my children as well. Tom McQueen uses a very conversational style with this book, that makes the reader feel that not only is Tom talking to Ethan but he could be speaking directly to them as well. It is very authentic and doesn't seem forced. He didn't just pick a theme an decide to write a very impersonal bit of knowledge about it. He wrote from the heart, from his experiences about situations he thought Ethan might face and benefit from his knowledge on the subject.

The author's experience as a therapist probably helped him to really hone in on issues that would be important to Ethan as he matures and grows. McQueen also uses a lot of humor and his own faith to give Ethan and the reader a sense of balance in all things. I believe his goal is to not only give Ethan a good start on a great future but also to show him ways to balance his life and get the most out it.

I liked the book a lot. And I plan to upload some letters of my own for my children and grandchildren at the Legacy Nation USA website, because I think this is wonderful idea for children to get to know grandparents they may never meet as well as a chance to learn from the knowledge each person can leave behind.

Letters to Ethan is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Teaser Tuesday (46)

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along. Just do the following:

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

I have a few issues this week:

For awhile now I have been experimenting with ways to do this meme. At first I just posted a teaser from the book I was reading at the moment, but I decided I wanted to do a little more than that. So, I started posting several teasers, one from each book I would be reviewing for the given week, but that almost seems too much. It could be anywhere from 5 to 8 teasers in a weeks time. I don't think either decision is right for me at the moment LOL...

So, I'm going to try something else. I'm going to try posting 3 teasers a week. From books I particularly enjoyed that will be featured on my blog during the given week and we'll see how that goes. I might change it again... you know how it is... got to tweek it bit to make it mine! Please feel free to tell me which way you like it best or if you have other ideas!

My other issue is the time when the meme posts. Personally, I like to post my weekly post close to the time that the host puts up the post for the week. With this one it's hard because of the time difference. I have considered the possibility of choosing a different meme on Tuesdays for this reason. If you have suggestions on other Tuesday meme's you like or if you have suggestions for a new meme we might start, please feel free to let me know that too. I like this meme and want to keep doing it, but I'm always looking for ways to improve my blog. These are only suggestions!

Here are my three teasers for this week:

Beneath the Thirteen Moons by Kathryne Kennedy, page 203. Korl's eyes burned into hers when the kit flailed at his shoulder and used it in a last desperate attempt to push himself back onto the branch. Mahri heard flesh rip, felt wet warmth splash across her stomach and still the man didn't move, just stared at her until she thought he could see right through to her heart and its violent constriction in response to his own pain.

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley, page 169. The countess, with no personal attachment, said, 'If he should be captured, then our plans may be discovered.' She had finished with the flower she was working and she bit the blood-red thread through with precision.

God Loves Single Moms by Teresa Whitehurst, 91. The challenge is knowing that, "the buck stops here," figuratively and literally, especially if we're not making as much money as we'd like or if the work we do is unsatisfying. The goal of this chapter is to help you step back, get some perspective, and evaluate your financial situation, how well your income meets your family's needs, and how closely your work reflects your talents and aspirations.

Let me know what you think of all this, I really need some input!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Review: Pride and Prejudice Readable Classics

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and Wayne Josephson

Publication Date: My 2010
Publisher: Chadwick Publishing
Genre: Classic
ISBN-13: 9780615373317
ISBN: 0615373313

(Received for review from the Author)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Author's Website: www.readableclassics.com

What are Readable Classics?

Readable Classics gently edits great works of literature, retaining the original voices of the authors, making them more enjoyable and less frustrating for modern readers.

Excerpt: Click HERE!

Other Readable Classics: Click HERE!

Synopsis (Book Blurb):

Jane Austen's 1813 masterpiece humorously relates the complex mating rituals of Regency England society, as Mrs. Bennet hopes to find rich husbands for her five daughters, who will become destitute if they do not marry well.

Mr. Bingley, a gentleman of good fortune, is easily charmed by Jane. But his friend Mr. Darcy's excessive pride offends Elizabeth, who quickly becomes prejudiced against him.

This delightful romp is full of romantic misunderstandings, rejected proposals, disastrous elopements, and happy endings for those who deserve them.


Pride and Prejudice has long been one of my favorites. Jane Austen was a wonderful writer and many say her work could never be improved on and I believe that to a certain degree. Jane Austen was gifted but she was writing in 1813 and we are reading in 2010. There is such a huge difference in the language used in that time period that it is often daunting for young readers to tackle Jane Austen, even though it may required in some schools.

Author Wayne Josephson just may have the answer! He has created a line of books called Readable Classics in which he edits the work or the masters including Jane Austen, to make them more easily read and enjoyed today. Updating the language, but staying true to the original voice of the author and the characters. Passages we have come to know and love are still essentially the same with the same feeling and passion, only a little easier to understand.

The Bennet's of Longborn are very excited when Mr. Bingley, a rich gentleman rents the house nearby. Mrs. Bennet goes to unbelievable means to see that her daughter Jane and Mr. Bingley have a chance to get to know each other and fall in love. If one of her daughters doesn't marry well, they will all be out on their ears if anything should happen to Mr. Bennet. But, she has no idea that another romance could have budded had not Elizabeth taken offense to the affluent Mr. Darcy. Elizabeth eventually finds that she has Mr. Darcy all wrong and falls in love with him but not before a series of interesting things happen to try to force them apart.

I have always liked this one and Wayne Josephson's editing just makes it more accessible to a bigger and broader audience. I recommend this one to students who are required to read the book as well as other readers who just want to say they've read Jane Austen, but they find it difficult tackle the language issues.

Pride and Prejudice Readable Classic is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Simply Marvelous Monday (46)

Shelia at, One Person's Journey Through a World of Books, gets all the credit for this one...

On Simply Marvelous Monday's at Debbie's Book Bag, we want to know... What are you reading?


The Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne and Wayne Josephson (My Review)
Concrete Operational Box Set by Richard Galbraith (My Review) (Giveaway)
Wind and Fire by Cheryl Landmark (My Review)
Adventures of Rusty & Ginger Fox by Tim Ostermeyer (My Review)
Lady in Waiting by Susan Meissner (My Review)
Almost Heaven by Chris Fabry (My Review)
The Sixth Surrender by Hana Samek Norton (My Review)
A Very Private Grave (The Monestary Murders - Book 1) by Donna Fletcher Crow (My Review)
Welcome to Serenity (Sweet Magnolia's - Book 4) by Sherryl Woods (My Review)
Darkfever (Fever - Book 1) by Karen Marie Moning (Review coming soon!)

Favorites of the week: Darkfever (Urban Fantasy/Paranormal), A Very Private Grave (Historical Suspense), Welcome to Serenity (Contemporary Romance)

Other things that went on this week: Thankfully Reading Weekend & the beginning of The Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge.


Pride and Prejudice Readable Classic by Jane Austen and Wayne Josephson (Historical Fiction)
Letters to Ethan: A Grandfather's Legacy of Life & Love by Tom McQueen (Letters)
Daily Guideposts 2011 (Devotional)
Wicked Nights With a Lover by Sophie Jordan (Historical Romance)
The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley (Historical Fiction)
God Loves Single Moms: Practical Help for Finding Confidence, Strength, and Hope by Teresa Whitehurst (Christian Growth/Self-Help)
Beneath the Thirteen Moons by Kathryne Kennedy (Fantasy Romance)
The Healer's Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson (Christian Fiction)
The Unquiet Bones (Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton - Book 1) by Mel Starr
A Corpse at Andrew's Chapel (Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton - Book 2) by Mel Starr

Current Audio Book: A Season of Gifts by Richard Peck
Current E-Book: Savor the Moment (Bride Quartet - Book 3) by Nora Roberts


Moby Dick Readable Classic by Herman Melville and Wayne Josephson (For review from the Author)

Wolf Fever (Heart of the Wolf - Book 6) by Terry Spear (For review from Sourcebooks)

Stay With Me by Sandra Rodriquez Barron (For review from TLC Book Tours)

Truth: I'm A Girl, I'm Smart and I Know Everything by Barbara Holstein (For review from Pump Up Your Book Promotions)

Secrets: You Tell Me Yours, I'll Tell You Mine by Barbara Holstein (For review from Pump Up Your Book Promotions)

Bedeviled Eggs (Cackleberry Club - Book 3) by Laura Childs (For review from the Author)

Carol: A Story for Christmas by Bob Hartman (For review from Kregel Publications)

The Sacred Cipher by Terry Brennan (For review from Kregel Publications)

Saturday, November 27, 2010


I've got a couple of reminders for the weekend!

1.) The 4-Book Lydia Dare giveaway is going on until the 30th of November. One winner will win all four books in the Westfield Wolves series.

2.) The giveaway for two copies of Child of the Northern Spring will be ending on December 3rd.

3.) The Concrete Operational Boxed Set giveaway is open internationally and will be open until December 6th.

4.) The Little Shepherd giveaway is ongoing until December 17th when e-mail addresses of those participating will be sent to the author, who will choose a winner from all those who have commented during her blog tour.

I am participating in the Thankfully Reading Weekend. Click HERE to go to my Thankfully reading post and follow my progress.

The Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge starts today!

Review: Welcome To Serenity

Welcome to Serenity (Sweet Magnolia's - Book 4) by Sherryl Woods

Publication Date: February 2010
Publisher: Mira
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN-13: 9780778329626
ISBN: 0778832923

(Received for review from Nancy Berland PR, via the author)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Borders, IndieBound

Author's Website: www.sherrylwoods.com
Author's Facebook Page: Click HERE!
Excerpt: Click HERE!
Other Books by the Author: Click HERE!

Synopsis (Book Blurb):

The Sweet Magnolias are branching out...

When Jeanette Brioche helped launch The Corner Spa in Serenity, South Carolina, she found a whole lot more than professional satisfaction. She discovered the deep and loyal friendships that had been missing from her life. But even the Sweet Magnolias can't mend the terrible rift between Jeanette and her family or persuade her that the holidays are anything more than a season of misery.

Pushed into working on the town's much-loved annual Christmas festival, Jeanette teams up with the sexy new town manger. Tom McDonald may be the only person in Serenity who's less enthused about family and the holidays than she is.

But with tree decorations going up on the town square and a bit of romance in the air, Jeanette and Tom take a fresh look at the past and a hopeful look into the future. Together they discover that this just may be a season of miracles after all.


The name Sherryl Woods has become synonymous with heartwarming contemporary romance. Her books bring out what most readers want from a good romance, a happy-ever-after ending. Woods has vast experience as a writer and each book she comes out with gives the reader a look inside the lives of someone they might meet on the street. It could be their next door neighbor, or the lady who owns the spa down the road. Woods writes about modern women who face the same situations in their lives that her readers do.

In Welcome to Serenity the fourth book in the popular Sweet Magnolia series, we meet Jeanette Brioche a young woman with a very lonely existence. Jeanette has no ties to her family and hasn't had success with life long friendships that give women a sense of love and security. When she meet the Sweet Magnolia's: Maddie, Helen and Dana Sue her life begins to change for the better. She begins to develop close relationships she has never had before, but with it comes the realization that she believes she can never have a one with a man.

When Maddie signs Jeanette up to work on Serenity's annual Christmas Festival she meets Tom MacDonald the new town manager. They work together to make the festival special for the townspeople while they both struggle with their own feelings about the holiday season. A relationship starts to bloom within them as they learn the true meaning of Christmas and what it means to find love after loss.

Sherryl Woods is a writer that knows how to tell a good clean romance without the steam but still full of love and passion. Now that takes finesse and Woods certainly has it. Welcome to Serenity is set during the holiday season and that setting brings out a sense of home and family in most readers. I found it interesting how the author was able to help us see that there are people out there that don't see the holiday season as one of joy, but one of sadness. It reminds me that there are those who need a special touch right now, who are looking for something that we might be able to provide.

The friendships that Jeanette develops with the other Sweet Magnolia's put me in mind of the friends I always wanted to have as an adult. Women who I could share with and go to lunch with and spend time with. Sherryl Woods shows us in this book how important those kinds of relationships are. They may be difficult to maintain throughout your life, but they are something you just can't do without. The theme of friendship and family runs through this book almost as closely as the romance between main characters Jeanette and Tom.

Jeanette is a character that is really coming out of her shell. She's found new friendships that are stimulating her, yet they are also reflecting a light on the things she is still missing in her life, a good relationship with her family and romance. I think that Jeanette is like a budding flower, yet she's scared to start to bring down her walls and feel again. She doesn't want to be hurt again. Tom on the other hand is a good man who has had a difficult time. But, he's ready to move on with his life and start over. He is a very sexy character that gives off a persona of being someone who is really in touch with himself and who he is. I really liked that about him as a character, it was very inviting.

This is just a great seasonal romance. It's part of great series from a great author. I can't recommend it enough to readers who love stories about everyday people who find friendship and love in their everyday lives. It's heartwarming and reaffirms the bonds that friends have and the affects we all have on the lives of others around us.

Welcome to Serenity is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

With her roots planted in the South, Sherryl Woods has written many of her more than 100 books in that distinctive setting, whether her home state of Virginia, her adopted state, Florida, or her much-adored South Carolina. She's also especially partial to small towns, wherever they may be. Cheryl divides her time between her childhood summer home overlooking the Potomac River in Colonial Beach, Virginia, and her oceanfront home, with it's lighthouse view, in Key Biscayne, Florida.

Review: A Very Private Grave

A Very Private Grave (The Monastery Murders - Book 1) by Donna Fletcher Crow

Publication Date: August 2010
Publisher: Kregel Publications
Imprint: Monarch Books
Genre: Mystery/Crime
ISBN-13: 9781854249685
ISBN: 1854249681

(Received for review from Kregel Publications)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Borders, Indiebound

Author's Website: www.donnafletchercrow.com

Author's Facebook Page: Click HERE!

Excerpt (Courtesy of the Stiletto Gang Blog): Click HERE!

Book Trailer:

Other books by the author: Click HERE!

Synopsis (Book Blurb):

Felicity Howard, a young American studying at the College of the Transfiguration in Yorkshire, is devastated when she finds her beloved Fr. Dominic bludgeoned to death and Fr. Antony, her church history lecturer, soaked in his blood...

A Very Private Grave is a contemporary novel with a thoroughly modern heroine who must learn some ancient truths in order to solve the mystery and save her own life, as she and Fr. Antony flee a murderer and follow clues that take them to out-of-the way sites across northern England and southern Scotland. The narrative deftly mixes detection, intellectual puzzles, spiritual aspiration, romance, and the solving of clues ancient and modern.


A Very Private Grave is the beginning of a new series called The Monastery Murders by prolific writer, Donna Fletcher Crow. The author has created a tapestry of the past and present, weaving a suspenseful tale filled with murder and mayhem that many readers will find irresistible. With a touch of romance and chunks of Church history mixed in, Crow takes us across northern England and southern Scotland in search of murderer and a treasure.

When American student Felicity Howard came to England to go to school she planned for a life of solitude and quiet as a priest. When she is unexpectedly called on to solve a murder she finds that adventure and intrigue may be what she was craving all along.

When her beloved friend and teacher Fr. Dominic is brutally murdered and another teacher Fr. Antony is accused of the crime, Felicity finds that she may have the only clues to solving the murder. Felicity was given a book by the Fr. himself shortly before his death, detailing his latest pilgrimage and what he discovered. It could be a motive for murder. With Fr. Antony on the run from the police and the book of clues in tow, Felicity starts out across England to find the murderer and clear Antony's name.

The author, Donna Fletcher Crow does an amazing job creating the suspense and thrills needed to pull of a novel of this kind. The reader is immediately drawn in by the compelling characters of the book. Felicity, our main character, is a young woman who has a lot of determination and grit. She jumps head first into solving a murder without a second thought to her studies or for her own safety. Readers will enjoy finding out more about the heroine as Crow leads them deftly along, giving out tidbits of information like cookie crumbs.

Fr. Antony is a man with a tortured past which makes him almost a brooding hero. There is always that hint that Felicity can't seem to put behind her, that maybe, there is a lot more to Antony than anyone knows. Could she really be traveling with a murderer? This question will linger in the mind of the reader as Felicity and Antony follow Fr. Dominic's footsteps as he traveled the path of the body of "St. Cuthbert".

Some readers will love all the historical details of the early church that Antony is forever spouting, but other readers may be a bit bogged down by it. If the reader goes into the book expecting to find a cut and dried mystery they will be surprised at all the historical detail in this one. The research done by Donna Fletcher Crow to craft this novel is very obvious, it lends a real authenticity to the book and makes the story very believable. Being a former history major I really enjoyed the historical aspects of the book and felt that it really enhanced the writing.

Some to the themes in the book that I felt would really resonate with the reader included; faith and understanding why you believe what you believe, honesty in spite of the consequences it might bring to your life, and the need for having some type of dream or purpose in your life that makes you come alive and gives your life direction and meaning. The author was able to allow the concepts to filter into the story and give it a very engaging quality that is lacking in many books.

The mystery and suspense in this novel really make it a page turner. The rhythm of the book is very purposeful and it seems that every clue they uncover leads them a little further along their journey to find the killer. I found the puzzles that Felicity and Antony were given very complex and stimulating.

I would recommend this one to not only mystery and suspense lovers, but to readers of historical fiction as well. This is a very well thought out book, that will appeal to wide range of reading tastes. I look forward to reading the next installment in the series and believe we will see great things to come from it.

A Very Private Grave is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Donna Fletcher Crow is an author of over 35 novels including the epic Glastonbury, A Novel of Christian England which was awarded First Place in Historical Fiction by the National Federation of Press Women. Crow lives and writes from Boise, Idaho and is a member of The Arts Centre Group and Sisters in Crime.

On My Wish List (11)

On my Wishlist is hosted weekly by Book Chick City. It is a weekly meme created to put the spotlight on books we have on wishlists. Books we really want to read, but haven't have had a chance to buy yet. They can be old books, new books, books that haven't been released, so long as you plan to buy them when they do become available. A Mr. Linky is provided so that we can keep up with each others selections each week.

I generally choose three books a week, sometimes related or in a series, sometimes not. This week... I'm just doing two books and they are both a part of a great series, that I am looking forward to reading!

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and is determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town of no surprises, one secret could change everything.

Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Ethan Wate used to think of Gatlin, the small Southern town he had always called home, as a place where nothing ever changed. Then he met mysterious newcomer, Lena Duchannes, who revealed a secret world that had been hidden in plain sight all along. A Gatlin that harbored ancient secrets beneath it's moss- covered oaks and cracked sidewalks. A Gatlin where a curse has marked Lena's family of powerful Supernaturals for generations. A Gatlin where impossible, magical, life-altering events happen.

Sometimes life-ending.

Together they can face anything Gatlin throws at them, but after suffering a tragic loss, Lena starts to pull away, keeping secrets that test their relationship. And now that Ethan's eyes have been opened to the darker side of Gatlin, there's no going back. Haunted by strange visions only he can see, Ethan is pulled deeper into his town's tangled history and finds himself caught up in the dangerous network of underground passageways endlessly crisscrossing the South, where nothing is as it seems.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Review: The Sixth Surrender

The Sixth Surrender by Hana Samek Norton

Publication Date: July 2010
Publisher: Penguin Group
Format: Paperback, 480 pp
Genre: Historical Fiction
ISBN-13: 9780452296237
ISBN: 04522936234

(Received for review from Pump Up Your Book Promotions)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Borders, IndieBound

Author's Website: www.hanasameknorton.com

Author's Blog: Click HERE!

The Sixth Surrender Facebook Page: Click HERE!

Excerpt: Click HERE!

Synopsis (Book Blurb):

"Siege, storm, surprise, subterfuge, suborning, they say there are five means of gaining a well - guarded citadel. There is a sixth one - surrender."

Sister Eustace, born Lady Juliana, the last of the de Charnais line, is about to pledge body and soul to the cause of the queen duchess, Alienor of Aquataine. Learned yet humble, passionate yet wholly innocent, Juliana has a singular determination - to possess her rightful home, the viscounty of Tillieres.

Alienor's young scribe must choose: husband or the cloister. Juliana prays for a man who is honorable, kind, and literate. Instead she is promised to Guerin de Lasalle, a worldly though landless mercenary with a blackened soul. The couple enters the union with just one shared desire, to put an end to the marriage.

As the queen's prophecy, "Honor, like love, comes in many guises," echoes through Juliana's first days as a wife, the race intensifies to safeguard the crowns of Normandy and England for John Plantagenet, Alienor's last surviving son. Schemes by traitorous lords and the mystery of Lasalle's past could cost Juliana his thrones - and Juliana her life.


This is a 2010 debut novel, by author Hana Samek Norton, packs a punch. With meticulous research and great attention to the slightest of details, Norton brings the reader a book filled with passion and adventure as well as engaging characters and details of medieval life that make the story come alive. This is a refreshing tale with the reign of the queen duchess, Alienor of Aquataine and the Plantagenet's as a backdrop.

Lady Juliana is a woman who has to make a choice. Will she continue on a path to become a nun, Sister Eustace or at the behest of Alienor or Aquataine will she choose marriage to the scheming, Guerin de Lasalle? In order to have her home of Tillieres she marries Lasalle, even though they both do not want the marriage. Lasalle has very little morals and a shady past. As the queen duchess fights to keep the throne for her only remaining son, John, Juliana must fight to keep what's hers.

Hana Samek Norton brings 13th century history into focus with her novel, The Sixth Surrender. It is a tale of political intrigue as well as one woman's journey to keep her home safe. There were several things I liked about the story. It was for a refreshing look at Alienor of Aquataine. She is most usually portrayed a very hard woman who had no sympathy for anything or anyone that was not a part of her overall plans for England. Norton gives Alienor some vulnerability in this novel that I liked, she seemed more like a real person and less like a figure head.

Juliana was a wonderful character. She was strong and determined and knew that she had to be willing to do some things that she didn't want to do in order to accomplish her goals. Lasalle certainly would not have been her first choice as a husband but in the end he suited her purpose better than she could have expected. I thought that she was very easy to relate to; a young woman forced to make difficult decisions. Lasalle's character was a bit harder to like, in fact, most readers probably won't like him at all, but they will respect him as a good character because he really brought everything together in this novel.

The historical detail in this novel is phenomenal. It is obvious from the style of the writing and the descriptive elements and historical facts that the author did meticulous research and probably spent an unbelievable amount of time on this project. It makes the overall effect of the book, very authentic. It's one of those books that you have to remind yourself that it's fiction.

There were a few things that may give some readers pause while reading this novel. There is a small amount of language and some sexual content that might not be expected in a novel of this type. As a reader I try to be open minded and give the book as a whole a chance in spite of things like that, so I wasn't bothered by it. It's a great story and isn't overshadowed by this kind of thing, so I would still recommend it to my readers, with just a cautionary note.

As a first effort I thought the author did an excellent job with this one and I look forward to what we can expect to come from Hana Samek Norton. I recommend it to readers who are historical fiction lovers, the historical details alone will endear this one to you.

The Sixth Surrender is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Hana Samek Norton was born and raised in the (now) Czech Republic where she first learned the difference between a halbred and a hauberk. She currently lives in New Mexico with her husband.

Winners: Moonlight Bleu & The Legacy of Pemberley

I have winners from a couple of giveaways that have ended in the past few days to announce. All winners will be contacted later today. They will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

The giveaway for an autographed copy of Moonlight Bleu by Renee Readen ended November 24th at Midnight. This book will be sent out from me, please be patient. It is the holiday season.

The winner of Moonlight Bleu (autographed) is:


The second giveaway is for two copies of The Legacy of Pemberley by Rebecca Ann Collins. This giveaway ended Thanksgiving night at Midnight. These books will be sent out by the publisher, Sourcebooks.

The two winners are:



Ammy Belle

Thankfully Reading Weekend!

It's Thanksgiving Weekend and I'm participating in the Thankfully Reading Weekend event hosted by Jenn's Bookshelves. There are no rules you just simply devote as much time to reading as possible and post how your doing.

I'm already started and have completed one book. I'll keep you updated with my progress on this post. Enjoy your Thanksgiving Weekend and I hope you get an obscene amount of reading done!!!

Thankfully Reading Weekend Progress:


Darkfever by Karen Moning

58 Chapters in on my second book of the weekend.

Thankfully Reading Weekend Mini Challenger #1 (Jenn's BookShelves)

What book are you most thankful for?

When I was a kid, I was very shy and quiet and some trouble acclimating to school and being around so many new kids. But I found a lot of solace in the library. It was quiet and for me it was full of adventure even in 1st grade when we got to check out picture books. But, when I was in 2nd or 3rd grade we got to pick books that we wanted to read and take home that had a bit more substance. I started reading "The Little House on the Prairie" books by Laura Ingalls Wilder and that started me on the path of becoming a life long reader. Little House in the Big Woods is a book I am very thankful for. It was the beginning of my journey into a world of books, which is a great joy to me. I love to read!

Thankfully Reading Weekend Mini-Challenge #2 (Beth Fish Reads)

Take a picture of your TBR pile or one of your bookshelves.

Here is a pic of a couple of shelves on one of the many bookshelves I have in my house. Not only are the books stacked normally, but there are rows in front of rows and it's full and running over, my library is still under construction and I can't wait until it's finished and I can see everything at one time LOL!

Thankfully Reading Weekend Mini-Challenge #3 (Devourer of Books)

What reading community are you thankful for?

I am really thankful for the blogging community because it has really allowed me to share my love reading with other people, who love books. It's been such a great experience for me. I've met a lot of really great people and I believe I have found out about some really great books that I may never have picked up, had it not been for seeing them on other blogs.

My mom is also a great reader as well as my dad and they are both very encouraging when it comes to reading and talking about books and things like that. I'm thankful for them as readers too!

Thankfully Reading Weekend Wrap-Up!

I didn't get to read as much as I had hoped, because we were still doing some celebrating into the weekend. We can't all seem to be in one place on Thanksgiving so we eat a little later in the weekend. But I completed a couple of books which I really wanted to finish. Especially, Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning, which I really liked.

I enjoyed the weekend of reading and had a blast keeping up with everyone else.

Book Blogger Hop (8)

The Book Blogger Hop is a weekly meme hosted by Jennifer at Crazy-For-Books.com. The hop is a great place for bloggers to connect, get to know each other better, and share a love for reading. The Hop runs Friday to Monday every week, you can hop now or anytime over the weekend. You've got to try it... It's a blast! A Mr. Linky is provided, so let's start hopping!

Question of the week:

What is your favorite bookcover?

My Answer:

Ohhh that's a hard one! There are so many good ones out there right now. One of my favorites that is out right now is The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa. I love the cover on this whole series, it's simple and understated, yet it makes a big impact. I have lots of favorites, this is just one!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Review: The Lightening Thief

The Lightening Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians - Book 1) by Rick Riordan

Publication Date: April 2006
Publisher: Hyperion/ Miramax Kid
Format: Paperback, 377 pp
Genre: YA (Young Adult)
ISBN-13: 9780786838653
ISBN: 0786838655

(Audio book from the Library)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Borders, IndieBound

Author's Website: www.rickriordan.com

Excerpt: Click HERE!

Other Books in The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series: The Sea of Monsters, The Titan's Curse, The Battle of the Labyrinth, The Last Olympian,

Synopsis (Barnes & Noble):

Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school... again. And that's the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy's Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he's angered a few of them. Zeus's master lightening bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.

Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus's stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of the betrayal of a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.


I listened to this book on audio, purely for pleasure. The movie of course had been out for awhile and I hadn't read the book or seen it, so I decided to see what all the fuss was about. I tend to give in to curiosity like that sometimes. I did with Twilight and now again with this one. I certainly wasn't disappointed with it. I have always been interested in history and mythology kind of goes hand in hand with that. I had always found myself confusing Roman and Greek gods before listening to this book and now I feel like a have a better understanding of who is god of what and that sort of thing.

Percy Jackson has no idea that he is the son of Poseidon, god of the sea. He's been kicked out of every private school he's ever been in and strange things have always happened. This year he had met a good friend named Grover and his had a teacher who seemed to see some potential in him until things get a little crazy on a field trip. When Percy heads home for the summer he begins to see other things that make him leery and eventually he is being chased across the country by mythical creatures.

He makes it Halfblood Hill where he learns more about his mythological heritage and finds out that Zeus' lightening bolt has been stolen and it looks like Percy is the one they intend to blame for it. Now he has to find the lightening bolt and the real culprit and he only has a couple of friends and ten days to do it.

My daughters are ten and twelve and I think this is an excellent book and series for that age group. Rick Riordan has taken mythology, a subject usually not studied in depth until high school and made it accessible and easy to understand for a younger group of readers. The adventure elements along with the quest story will be hold the interest of young adults. It will educate while it entertains.

I thought all of the characters were well developed and easy to identify with. Most people have been the odd man out at one time or another in their lives. It could be unpopularity or shyness or whatever the cause, but I'm sure they can identify with Percy. He tends to get into fights and get kicked out of school and can never really understand why. I just think kids will really find something in him that resonates with Percy and the fact that underneath all that he is still very special.

I liked all the mythological creatures and the gods themselves and how Riordan went about personifying them. I especially liked the way he made Poseidon a beach bum and Ares the god of war rode around on a motorcycle. He certainly made mythology seem a lot more hip. I think the author has created a world within a world, an unseen aspect of the world we live in and there are young adults who will really enjoy that possibility. Quest stories are very popular in our culture, from Harry Potter, to Frodo in The Lord of the Rings and I think Percy Jackson fits right in there. I'm looking forward to listening to the next book sometime soon.

The Lightning Thief is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Review: Almost Heaven

Almost Heaven by Chris Fabry

Publication Date: October 2010
Publisher: Tydale House Publishers
Format: Paperback, 400 pp
Genre: Christian Fiction
ISBN-13: 9781414319575
ISBN: 1414319576

(Received for review from Tyndale)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Borders, Christianbook.com, Indiebound

Author's Website: www.chrisfabry.com

Excerpt: Click HERE!

Book Trailer:

Other Books by the Author: June Bug, Dogwood, Red Rock Mystery Series, RPM Series, The Wormling Series, Left Behind: The Kids Series, The Young Trib Force Series,

Synopsis (Book Blurb):

" I suppose you can sum up a man's life with a few words, but I need to put this story down to fill in the missing pieces. Or perhaps I can convince the people who know me as a hermit that there was some reason for it all. But this is not really for those outside looking in. This is for me."

Some people say Billy Allman has a heart of gold. Others say he's a bit odd. The truth is, they're all right. He's a hillbilly genius - a collector, a radio whiz - and he can make the mandolin sing. Though he dreams of making an impact on the world beyond the hills and hollers of Dogwood, West Virginia, things just always seem to go wrong.

But however insignificant Billy's life seems, it has not gone unnoticed. Malachi is an angel sent to observe and protect Billy. Though it's not his dream assignment, Malachi always follows orders. And as Billy's story unfolds, Malachi slowly begins to see the bigger picture - that each step Billy takes is a note added to a beautiful song that will forever change the lives of those who hear it.


Author and radio personality, Chris Fabry brings us a story of true faith and what it means to believe in something bigger than yourself. Fabry has crafted a novel that will tug at the heartstrings and also make the reader do a lot of thinking about their own circumstances. It is a very thought provoking book dealing with reasons why bad things happen to good people and how the life of one person, can change the lives of thousands around them.

Billy Allman learned at a young age, that things don't always turn out the way you want them too. Billy and his family lost everything except his father's mandolin in a devastating flood. Then Billy's father commits suicide and his mother is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Billy has seen a lot of heartache in his life, yet his simple childlike faith has seen him through. He has a dream of sharing the love of God with others through the airwaves. With cast off parts and an ability to fix just about anything Billy builds his own radio station at his home, keeping his dream in sight all the time. He's known as a hillbilly genius in the small West Virginia town of Dogwood and he can make the mandolin sing in a way few others can.

The guardian angel sent to watch over Billy, Malachi is puzzled as to why he must protect him until he begins to see how Billy affects other people and how the life of this one man, will touch thousands and thousands of others. Malachi struggles to see the significance of one person in the vast numbers of people. But Billy's faith resonates with him and he the larger picture comes into focus. One person can change the world and that's just what Billy did.

I enjoyed this book very much. Billy Allman was such a great character. He still managed to keep his faith intact in spite of some really horrific circumstances in his life. He kept the faith and God used him to speak to thousands and thousands of people and to see God's love shared through Christian radio. Chris Fabry was able to bring Billy's story to life. He shows a man who is determined to bring his dream to fruition. It was a very inspiring book and made me look at my own circumstances and compare them to Billy's. If someone who had faced so much could keep the faith and persevere than so can I.

Fabry's attention to detail and research served him well. Making the radio statistics and references very believable as well as the details of Allman's mother's Alzheimer's disease. He must have done extensive research to make this come across as authentic as it did.

I believe that readers from a myriad of backgrounds will enjoy this book. I'm a hillbilly myself from the mountains of Appalachia and I think the characters in the book really resonated with me. The character development was excellent, even down to the perplexed angel who wasn't quite sure what his role was in the beginning. It's a good Christian read and there is definitely an audience out there for this kind of heartwarming story.

Almost Heaven is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag.

Chris Fabry is a Christy Award-winning author and radio personality who hosts the daily program Chris Fabry Live! on Moody Radio. He is the author of 70 books for children and adults, including Dogwood and June Bug. Chris and his wife, Andrea, are the parents of nine children and live in Arizona.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Enquiring Minds Want To Know

Enquiring Minds Want To Know is a weekly meme hosted by Dollycas' Thoughts. How well do you know your favorite bloggers? This meme is designed to help us find out a little about each other each week. A Mr. Linky is provided so we can keep up with each other. Please help this meme to become a success. Join in and answer Dollycas' questions each week... It's fun and entertaining.

It's week thirteen and here are the questions and my answers for the week: These are easy ones, due to Thanksgiving!

1.) What is your favorite vegetable?

That's a hard one in a way. I like veggies a lot, but I suppose my favorite is the potato. I like potatoes fixed just about anyway you can think of. I love baked potato's, mashed potato's fried potato's, you name it... I like it!

2.) What is your favorite fruit?

I'm a diabetic so I get most of my sugar intake from fruit, because it is natural and I can eat it without worrying about it. Strawberries are definitely my favorite, but they are a lot better when they are in season, so in the winter time Banana's become my favorite for a little while.

3.) Do you grow any of your own fruit and vegetables?

Once upon a time this was a working farm and we grew and raised just about everything. Now we have come down some to our old standards but probably grow a lot more than most people still. We have about a 1 acre garden in the summers and have lots of fruit trees as well. We grow: beans, corn, potato's, peppers, watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers and tons of other stuff. We have apple, peach, cherry and pear trees and a grape arbor as well.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I had in mind to post something to do with Thanksgiving each day this week, but as fate would have it, I was extremely busy. My youngest daughter Allison did a little research here and there for me and came up with a couple of really good Thanksgiving crafts, some good Thanksgiving recipes you might want to try and a little information on Thanksgiving Traditions.

From our family to yours we want to wish you very happy Thanksgiving and offer you these ideas for the holiday season! Have a great one!


Finger Puppet Pilgrims

What You'll Need:
  • Construction Paper: white, brown, black and yellow
  • 2 short or one long cardboard tube (s)
  • Scissors
  • Glue Stick
  • Peach and pink crayons
  • Black marker
  • Pattern (Click HERE)
How To Make It:
  1. Color a 2" X 6' section of white construction paper with the peach crayon. Cut out section then cut in half. You should now have 2 - 2" x 3" peach pieces.
  2. Glue the peach strips to the top of the 2 cardboard tubes. These will be the faces.
  3. Cover the remainder of the cardboard tubes with black (man) and brown (woman) construction paper, overlapping the peach face a little.
  4. Cut 2 collars from white construction paper using pattern. Glue to top of shirt, wrap around and glue in place.
  5. Cut woman's hair from yellow construction paper using pattern. Cut man's hair from brown construction paper, cut a strip about the width of the woman's hair. Wrap around the back of the cardboard tubes, peach paper in the front, and trim if needed. Glue in place.
  6. Cut hat from black paper and bonnet from white using patterns. Cut a small strip of brown for the hatband, glue and trim. Cut small strips of white paper for the buckle. Glue to the hatband. Glue hat to man's head and bonnet to woman's head.
  7. Use pink crayon to add rosy cheeks.
  8. Use black marker to add eyes and smile.
  9. Insert fingers into bottom of tube and play with your puppets!

Styrofoam Turkey

What You'll Need:
  • A 2 13/16" X 3 7/8" Styrofoam egg
  • Brown paint
  • 2 googly eyes
  • Pipe cleaners: 2 red, 2 orange, 1 yellow
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Paint brush
  • Serated knife
To Make Your Thanksgiving Styrofoam Turkey Craft:
  1. Use a serated knife to carve the very bottom off the styrofoam egg so it will set up.
  2. Paint the egg brown and let it dry. (tip: setting the egg on a dixie cup is a great way to let the egg dry)
  3. Glue two googly eyes onto the egg.
  4. To make the feathers, cut a pipe cleaner in half, twist the ends together to make a feather shape and insert it into the back of the egg. Make 2 - 3 "feathers" of each color.
  5. Cut a small piece of an orange pipe cleaner off and insert under the googly eyes for a beak.
  6. Cut a small piece of red pipe cleaner and insert as a waddle next to the beak.
  7. Cut an orange pipe cleaner into quarters. Take two of the pieces and bend in half and insert into the bottom of the egg as feet.

Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle

  • 2 (14 oz. ) packages of gingerbread mix
  • 1 (5.1 oz.) box cook-and-serve vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 (30 oz. ) can pumpkin pie filling
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 teaspoon ground cardamon or cinnamon
  • 1 (12 oz.) container of frozen whipped topping
  • 1/2 cup gingersnaps, optional

Bake the gingerbread according to package directions; cool completely. Meanwhile, prepare the pudding and set aside to cool. Stir the pumpkin pie filling, sugar, and cardamon into the pudding. Crumble 1 batch of the gingerbread into the bottom of a large, pretty bowl. Pour 1/2 mixture over the gingerbread, then add a layer of whipped topping. Repeat with the remaining gingerbread, pudding, and whipped topping. Sprinkle the top with crushed gingersnaps, if desired. Refrigerate overnight. Trifle can be filled in punch bowl.

Favorite Green Bean Casserole

  • 2 (16 oz.) packages of cut green beans
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 (10.75 oz.) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 (4 oz.) jar diced pimento peppers, drained
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 (2.8 oz.) can French-fried onions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, place the green beans in water, and bring to a boil. Cover, and cook 6 minutes, under tender. Remove from heat, and drain.
  3. In an 8 X 8 inch baking dish, mix together the cream of mushroom soup, milk, pimentos, and pepper. Stir in the green beans. Sprinkle with French-fried onions.
  4. Bake, uncovered, 30 - 40 minutes in a preheated oven, until the casserole is hot and bubbly in the center.
  • Turkey and Trimmings. From the first Thanksgiving to today's turkey burgers, turkey's are an American tradition dating back centuries. According to the National Turkey Association, 95 percent of American's eat turkey at Thanksgiving. Regional twists offer variations on the traditional roasted bird, including coffee rubbed turkey from Hawaii, salt encrusted turkey from New England, and deep fried turkey from the south.
  • Time Out for the Pigskin. Throughout the United States, football on Thanksgiving Day is as big a part of the celebration as turkey or pumpkin pie. Dating back to the first intercollegiate football championship held on Thanksgiving Day in 1876, traditional holiday football rivalries have become so popular that a reporter once called, Thanksgiving " a holiday granted by the State and the Nation to see a game of football."
  • Parading Around. The first American Thanksgiving Day Parade was held in 1920, organized by Gimbel's Department Store in Philadelphia, not Macy's as most people believe. The NYC Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade actually began in 1924, and has grown into an annual event of balloons, bands, and floats, enjoyed by more than 46 million people each year in person and on TV.
  • Making a Wish. Does your family fight over the wishbone from the Thanksgiving turkey? Known as a "lucky break" the tradition of tugging on either end of a fowl's bone to win the largest piece and its accompanying "wish" dates back to the Etruscans of 322 B.C. The Romans brought the tradition with them when they conquered England and the English colonists carried the tradition on to America.
  • Giving Thanks. Last, but certainly not least, Thanksgiving is about giving thanks for the people and blessings of the past year. From pre-meal prayers to providing holiday meals to the homeless, the holiday is truly a celebration praise and thanksgiving.