Monday, October 31, 2011

A Watershed Year

Author: Susan Schoenberger
ISBN: 978-0-8249-4856-6
Publisher: Guideposts
Source: TLC Book Tours
Follow the Tour: A Watershed Year
Two months after the death of her best friend Harlan, Lucy remains haunted by the things she never told him including her deep love for him. Then she begins receiving emails he'd arranged to be sent after his death, emails that will change the course of her life. One email in particular haunts her -- he tells her he is certain she is destined for motherhood. Thus begins her watershed year.
It is said that out of despair comes hope and in her grief, Lucy finds that the possibility of adopting a child offers her a new chance for a fulfilled life. When she travels to Russia to meet four-year-old Mat she sees in him a soul that is as lonely and lost as hers. Slowly they learn to trust one another and each begins healing. It is when Mat's father comes to America to reclaim his child that a truth about Mat's past is revealed, a truth that might shatter Lucy's fragile little family forever.
A Watershed Year takes a poignant look at the life of Lucy who deals with loss, love, motherhood, self-discovery and second chances.  Lucy is a wonderful character, whose story is beautifully told.  While reading this novel, I felt as if I was sitting with a friend over coffee instead of reading the story off the pages.  When Lucy’s best friend dies she is thrown into a pit of despair and decides to quit thinking and start acting.  This starts her “watershed” year, in which she discovers more about herself than she has in the past.  Though everything starts to spiral out of control, Lucy takes control and finds her way out, moving on with her life.
The main character in this novel drove me crazy with how she tries to please everyone.  Regardless of this minor issue, this novel is a highly dramatic and a very sad read.  It sticks with you long after you finish reading it.  The characters are complex and well developed.  I enjoyed this novel because it is thoughtful, insightful and well written.  Though it’s emotional, Lucy learns about herself.  The story drew me in despite the emotional topics.  I could identify with Lucy’s grief over the loss of her best friend and the discovery that her life isn’t all she wants it to be.  It would be a wonderful book for book clubs, due to the level of discussion available. 

Highly Recommended

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Book of Life

Stuart Nadler
ISBN: 978-0-316-12647-2
Publisher: Hachette Book Group
Source: Crazy Book Tours

Forced together on a trip from Manhattan to Rhode Island, a father and son attempt to renew their bond over lobster, cigarettes, and a buried secret. A pure-hearted artist finds his devotion cruelly tested, while his true love tries to repent for the biggest mistake of her life. Unwittingly thrust into an open marriage, a man struggles to reconnect with his newly devout son. And in the book's daring first story, an arrogant businessman begins a forbidden affair during the High Holidays.
This novel was unexpected.  From the given synopsis (above) I didn’t expect a book of short stories, but that’s exactly what this book contains.  I enjoyed these short stories for two reasons.  First, it made the book’s pace quick.  Before I knew it, I was finished.  Secondly, it presented me with different stories focused around the same topics, giving a well-rounded understanding of what the author is trying to get across to the reader.  I enjoy short stories once in a while and this book came at a great time, for me.
The stories presented involve characters dealing with conflict in their life.  Most are Jews. The issues include family, love, grief, faith, temptation and forgiveness.  The author has a beautiful writing style that grabs your attention quickly.  The book opens with the story that gives the book its name.  In it, the story introduces a man involved in an affair.  The affair is quite messy since it entangles so many aspects and people within his life.  I simultaneously despised and understood the main characters.  It was quite rare for me to feel this way.  In addition to a set of intriguing stories, the author provides a clear, concise description of his characters, their feelings and the situations they find themselves in.
Each of the stories has things in common, mostly dealing with nationality and infidelity that tie them together in different ways.  The tension is realistic between the characters.  Their vulnerability is obvious and their mistakes, unintended.  The characters in these stories aren’t intentionally setting out to hurt one another, the book really echo’s life in its vulnerable and imperfect forms.  While it is not my normal type of read, this book surprised me.  Stuart Nadler has a wonderful writing style that creates an ease within the flow of the book and hooked my attention.  Overall, I enjoyed it.


Karl Friedrich
ISBN: 978-1-59013-570-9
Publisher: McBooks Press
Source: TLC Book Tour
Follow the Tour: TOUR STOPS

About the Book:

Sally Ketchum comes from dirt-poor farm folk. She has little chance of bettering her life until a mysterious barnstormer named Tex teaches her to fly—and becomes the first person worthy of her love. But Tex dies in a freak accident, leaving Sally to make her own way in the world. She enrolls in the U.S. military’s Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program, and in a special school located in West Texas begins learning to fly the biggest, fastest, meanest airplanes the military has to offer. She also reluctantly becomes involved with Beau Bayard, a flight instructor and aspiring writer, who seems to offer her everything she could want. But many people see no place for a “skirt” in the cockpit, and Sally soon finds herself pitted against a high-powered Washington lawyer who wants to disband the WASP once and for all.  Their battle is a story of extraordinary women who broke society’s rules and became heroes, and of men who stood in their way.


“This book is dedicated to every woman who defies convention in order to live her dream.”
The above quote is the dedication found in this book.  Yes, I read each dedication and I loved this one.  It might be my favorite one yet.  The dedication sums up the book better than I could.  It simply impressed me from the start.   Luckily, while finishing my read, I was left with the same impressed state as I entered the book with.  Here’s why….
There was a time when women in the military were acceptable, if they were taking care of the men.  For example, women were the cooks, the nurses, the laundry maids and home support.  While the phrase “The military is no place for a woman” sounds charming and heroic, I can’t help but think it’s not.  Were women being protected by their men or were they simply not deemed intelligent or capable enough?  Regardless of the reason, there have always been the women who wanted to do more.  These women are the ones who became known as Fly Girls.  They are the women who paved the way for others.  They are the first women to fly military aircraft despite those who thought they were incapable.  Not only did they prove to be capable, they in many ways surpassed their male counterparts with their flying abilities.
During WWII Fly Girls were given the opportunity to be civilian aviators in order to free men up for combat.  These women Air force Service Pilots or “WASP” were under no contract and allowed to leave their post at any time, though they were paid half the salary of their male counterparts.  The women delivered airplanes for the military after training for five months. 
Wings focuses on the main character, Sally and her story.  Sally, who came from a life of poverty and insecurity has no reason to stay in Texas and decides to join the WASP program.  Among the daily activities and duties involved with her WASP training, Sally deals with teasing among the women, harassment from the male pilots and a lawyer who was commissioned by Congress to shut down the WASP program. (Which shows you how much our country has changed)  Despite it all, Sally prevails and in the end is known as the best pilot in the army.
This novel captures the 1940’s era beautifully.  Based off true stories, the novel takes a realistic and believable look at this time in our nation.  Just as Martin Luther is remembered for racial rights and working towards equality, Fly Girls and the 1940’s begins the process of equality between men and women.  It was interesting to read the sexist attitudes that are so apparent in this book.  I enjoyed reading about our country during this time period in a new way.  This novel is a step outside the box in regards to WWII fiction.  The story is fascinating and educational.  It’s a great debut and a wonderful piece of historical fiction.  It captured the time period beautifully, making me feel as if I opened a time capsule.  The characters are full of charisma and rooted in history.
I highly recommend this novel.  It grabs your attention from the beginning and flows easily.  It simply makes you proud to be a woman.
Highly Recommended

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fancy Nancy and the Fabulous Fashion Boutique

Author: Jane O’Connor
Illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
ISBN: 978-0-06-123592-4
Source: Review Copy

Fabulously Fun Reading!

It’s Fancy Nancy’s little sister’s birthday! While on a shopping trip for fabulous birthday supplies and presents, Nancy’s mom lets her stop at Belle’s Fabulous Fashion Boutique where one of the beautiful lace fans Nancy wants is on sale! Nancy doesn’t have enough money for the fan because she bought her sister’s birthday gift, so she decides to open her own fabulous fashion boutique and sell some of her gently used items to fabulous buyers! Fancy Nancy’s store is a huge success but will she have enough for her fan? When it rains on her sister’s party day, Fancy Nancy comes to the rescue and turns and outside pirate party into an inside fashion extravaganza!

4 year old's “Reading” & Thoughts:
Fancy Nancy and the fashion show. Fancy Nancy went to the store to buy her sister a black eye patch. Then she got her purse and bought it. Fancy Nancy built her own fashion store to sell stuff and buy a fan. People bought stuff. Her little sister wanted her rhinestone necklace but a friend bought it. Her sister through a fit. She felt bad so Fancy Nancy went to the twins’ house and gave a necklace and bracelet to get the necklace back. She gave it to her sister on her birthday with the eye patch. Her sister got the rhinestone necklace. At the party it starts to rain and they go inside. Her little sister says my party is not fun. Then they have a fashion show and walk like models with bananas on their head. Then they have the birthday cake!

I loved it so much. I like to read it again and again. I want to get more Fancy Nancy books for Christmas. The pictures are pretty! I like them. Fancy Nancy was nice to her sister.

Two year old’s Version:
Fancy Nancy! She has an umbrella in case it rains. This girl Jo Jo goes to store with Fancy Nancy girl. They go to Hy-Vee. [Grocery store we have] Jo Jo doesn’t have an umbrella. They are playing in the yard. The daddy climbs the ladder. The mommy does not. They dress up in the princess room. Why is Jo Jo Crying? She’s crying on the ground. She has a necklace, she’s happy. Their having a birthday party. They sing happy birthday to Jo Jo. They play dress up. They put bananas on their head!

Mom’s Thoughts:
I absolutely loved this book. The book is meant for children ages 4-7 however I think children that are 3 years could also enjoy this book. Hailey is only two and she plops herself down to read this book often! Her version of the story is bits and pieces of what she hears along with her very keen interpretation of the illustrations, which are beautiful. I have seen and heard about Fancy Nancy but this is the first copy of a Fancy Nancy that we have read together. I really wish I had introduced the book earlier instead of waiting until my daughter fit the age category. Both my two (soon to be 3) and four (soon to be 5) year olds enjoyed this book!

I particularly loved the way the book uses “big” words and then explains them in smaller words. For example is the text below.

“Welcome to my boutique,” I say. “That’s French for fancy store.” Or “I demonstrate-that’s fancy for show-how to do it.”

Examples like the two above are throughout the entire book. My husband even commented on it while we were reading the book. My girls really enjoyed learning the “fancy” words and I was thrilled for them to learn larger words with the same meanings as the simple words they use daily. This was an impressive aspect of the book for both my husband and I.

I also enjoyed the illustrations immensely. Ms. Glasser is very talented. We all enjoyed the pictures and there is quite a lot to enjoy. I would recommend this to anyone who has little girls. The book had fun, values, education, and a high interest level. The combination of all of these things makes for a great book! We have started adding to our Fancy Nancy collection and will keep doing so.

Must Read, Don't Miss It!!

My First Hands-On Bible

Author: Group Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-4143-4830-8
Publisher: Tyndale
Purchase link:
Source: Tyndale for Review
Ages: 3-6

About the Title:
My First Hands-On Bible is the preschooler version of the popular Hands-On Bible, which has sold over a half million copies. Jesus taught with hands-on lessons and illustrations; My First Hands-On Bible uses the same experience-based learning to communicate God’s Word in an active, understandable way. My First Hands-On Bible is a fun and simple yet meaningful way to engage preschool, pre-K, and K children (ages 3-6) with the Bible while helping them build a solid faith foundation. Each lesson focuses on a specific Bible point through a variety of activities in order to reinforce and help young children remember the stories and lessons. Using common household items, you can help your children have a “hands-on” learning experience while engaging them in 85 key stories from the Bible. My First Hands-On Bible doesn’t just retell the Bible stories; it also includes actual Scripture from the easy-to-understand and easy-to-read Holy Bible, New Living Translation. In addition to the stories and activities, there are fun illustrations, prayers, and a special Jesus Connection feature.


This is my first expierance with the Hands-On products and I really enjoyed the My First Hands-On Bible!  My two children (ages 3 and 5) love hands-on projects, crafts, and anything that helps them explore their world through their senses.  This Bible gave creative and easy to learn solutions for teaching the Bible stories in a hands-on way.  I didn't have any problem finding the common household items the book calls for. The Bible gives parents simple ways to help children understand and make sense of the story they are reading.  It uses all the senses and is written on a kid friendly level.  It really was a fun way to spend time with my children while teaching them important and valuable lessons!

I Review For The Tyndale Blog Network


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Whispers From the Heart

Author: Heather Hummel
Publisher: Pathfinder Publishing
Source: Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours
Link to Tour Reviews:
Authors Website:


Whispers.  The heart’s way of speaking…

Madison Ragnar is a high school English teacher determined to connect with her students, to finish the next running race with a respectable time, and to avoid ever falling in love again. But life has other plans for Madison. A man named Michael shows himself in the most unexpected places, raising questions from her best friend, Olivia, and issues around Madison’s last relationship. In the classroom, the death of a student prompts her grieving ninth graders to depend on her for answers. They turn to journal writing as a form of understanding the weight of what’s happened in the walls of their teenage existence. When Madison meets Phil, who throws a wrench in her declaration to not fall in love, it seems that her escape through miles of running is the only real footing she has in life. Will fate determine Madison’s life? Or will she have a say in its outcome?

My Review:

Wow!  I didn’t see that coming….
The above phrase could be used for multiple different elements in this book.  Whispers from the Heart tackles tough issues, from Madison’s rocky marriage that comes complete with a creepy ex-husband, to a possible stalker and student who commits suicide, this book is full of heartache yet it includes a lot of happiness too.  The novel definitely has some twist that I never expected.   In order to not reveal too much about this book I’m going to touch on a few key topics and leave the rest for you!
Flow & Pace – Great!!  This book hooks you from the beginning and keeps moving.  Though it has some tough topics, the mystery and suspense elements keep the book edgy.  I wouldn’t classify this book as a mystery or suspense but there is a slight sense of both due to the subject matter and mysterious characters.  The novel doesn’t take long to read because you simply can’t put it down.
Writing Style – I really enjoyed Ms. Hummel’s writing style.  It’s easy to read, clear and intriguing.  In short, I stayed with her throughout the book.  I never felt lost or displaced. 
Storyline – Wow, okay this one has quite a lot going on.  First, you have Madison’s ex-husband and the marriage that went along with it.  Anyone who has had a divorce will be able to relate to Madison.  If you’ve had a divorce from a crazy ex that has left you fearful, let it be duly noted that you will understand Madison even better.  Second, is the topic of the possible stalker.  Having been stalked this section creeped me out.  I felt myself siding with Madison’s best friend just because I don’t trust people easily.  I was surprised with the outcome of Michaels story, but pleasantly so.  I enjoyed the fact that I didn’t see it coming.  Hummel does a great job distracting the reader so they don’t easily figure out her twist.  The third topic you must be warned about in this book is the death of Madison’s student.  If suicide is a sensitive topic for you, be forewarned.  Though I’m not sorry I read this book, I would have rather been prepared for the topic.
Characters- They are wonderful, well developed, likeable, relatable, and a pleasure to read about. 
Overall – this novel is about life in the raw.  It’s not sugar coated and it doesn’t hide anything.   It simply is what it is.  Life throws things at us that we can’t change, but we can make the best of what we have, learn from our mistakes and help make the world a better place for those around us.  I felt Madison did all three of these things.  I really enjoyed this novel despite some of the more emotional topics that wouldn’t have affected me the same way if my past didn’t include experiences surrounding them.  This book has a little of everything in it and is well written.  It’s a great chick-lit, written by a talented author.  I would read more from Hummel based on this book.
Highly Recommended

Love on the Line

Author: Deeanne Gist
Publisher: Bethany House
Source: Litfuse Book Tour

About the book:

It's a Battle of Wills ... and Love Is on the Line!

Rural switchboard operator Georgie Gail is proud of her independence in a man's world . . . which makes it twice as vexing when the telephone company sends a man to look over her shoulder.

Dashing Luke Palmer is more than he appears though. He's a Texas Ranger working undercover to infiltrate a notorious gang of train robbers. Repairing telephones and tangling with this tempestuous woman is the last thing he wants to do. But when his stakeout puts Georgie in peril, he realizes more than his job is on the line.

My Thoughts:

I can't not recommend a book that makes me laugh!  This historical Christian fiction is not only humorous and romantic, its clever and well written.  Georgie's career as a switchboard operator was entertaining and realistic.  After working at a call center, I have had a taste of what people will say over the phone!  I can't imagine being an operator in a town where everyone knows you.  This novel was hard to put down and flowed well.  I enjoyed the characters who were well developed and likable.  Though I personally couldn't relate to the heroine and her love of birds, I did enjoy the romance between Georgie and Luke.

Though I'm not a western type of gal, I can appreciate a good, well written, thought out story from that era.  Love on the Line is just that!  It's sweet, funny, romantic, historical and interesting.  The characters are well developed and entertaining.  They are the type you can imagine being friends with despite their flaws or annoyances.  The story made me feel as if it truly could have happened which is always great!

About Deeanne:

Deeanne Gist--known to her family, friends, and fans as Dee--has rocketed up the bestseller lists and captured readers everywhere with her very original, very fun historical & contemporary romances. Add to this three RITA nominations, two consecutive Christy Awards, rave reviews, and a growing loyal fan base, and you've got one recipe for success.

She has a very active online community on her website at and at

Love on the Live iPad2 Giveaway and Facebook Party!

Deeanne is thrilled to introduce Georgie and Luke to the word in her latest novel. To celebrate Deeanne's publisher, Bethany House, is hosting the Love on the Line iPad2 giveaway an Author Chat on Facebook! Enter today and follow the link below to RSVP for Deeanne's rip-roarin' Facebook Party!
Enter to win an iPad2 & RSVP for Facebook Party on 11/8!

One fortunate winner will receive:
  • A Brand New iPad2
  • A Autographed Hardback Copy of Love on the Line by Deeanne Gist
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on November 7th. Winner will be announced at Deeanne’s Author Chat Facebook Party. Deeanne will be wrapping up the Love on the Line celebration by chatting with friends new and old! So grab your copy of Love on the Line (it’s okay if you don’t have one yet- you might could win one!) and join Deeanne on the evening of November 8th for a rip roaring book chat, a little trivia and lots of giveaways (books, and Amazon, iTunes & Starbucks gift certificates)!
(enter Facebook/twitter/email icons here – found in embedded html code attached)
Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends. Hope to see you on the 8th!

Highly Recommended
*This book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for my honest review*

Ladies and Gentleman, The Redeemers

Author: Michael Scott Miller
Publisher: Create Space
Source: Author, for review
Reviewer: Malissa

This is a story of a band called the Redeemers. They are an unlikely group put together by a down and out former music talent rep.  The story follows the group from formation through their struggles and finally their hard won success.
Bert Ingram is a former talent rep who was once very successful that has now lost everything.  He is living on the streets battling alcohol addiction. The band is his brain child.  He sees this as his last shot at redemption.
Abe is the singer.  He lost his sight as a child and lives on public assistance as well as the spare change he gets from singing on the streets.  Charlie is a sax player Bert finds hustling cards on the street.  Charlie is a once promising musician who lost it all to a gambling problem.
Dave is a married music teacher.  He is dissatisfied with the path his life has taken.  He teaches music during the day and doing part time gigs at retirement villages and the like for extra money.  He is a very talented keyboardist with a flair for song writing. 
Aaron, aka Bongo Joe, is added as the drummer.  They find him washing dishes at a restaurant.  He struggles to stay in the band.  He is very talented, but not driven to practice. 
Ethan is a guitar player studying music at UC-Berkley. He’s the most unlikely member of the group.  He feels he has nothing in common with the rest of the band.  He’s the most reluctant to join the group.
The final member of the group is Gene the bass player.  They pull him out of a retirement home to join the band.  He had worked as a studio musician most of his life.
The group struggles to find their way as well as come together as a group.  There are some surprisingly tender moments as the group forms.  Unlikely friendships are formed.  There is one slight romance, but the encounters between the two involved are implied rather than direct. 
The story is a little unbelievable, but very heart warming.  I see it as a feel good story about overcoming obstacles thru hard work and determination.  The settings of the story helped make it more believable.
As a whole the story flowed very well.  It was easy to read.  All of the characters were interesting and likeable as well as well-developed thru their back stories. Those back stories made it easier to understand certain behavior. 
I really enjoyed reading this book.  Overall I give it 4 stars.  I would recommend it to anyone who likes a feel good story where the underdog is the winner. 
Highly Recommended

Monday, October 24, 2011

Reclaiming Lily

Two Women. Two Cultures. A Troubled Teen....

About the Book

A storm the size of Texas brews when Gloria Powell and Kai Chang meet in a Dallas hotel. They have come to discuss the future of Lily, the daughter Gloria adopted from China and the sister Kai hopes to reclaim. Kai is a doctor who had to give up her little sister during the Cultural Revolution and has since discovered that an inherited genetic defect may be waiting to fatally strike Lily.

Gloria's relationship with her daughter is tattered and strained, and the arrival of Kai, despite the woman's apparent good intentions, makes Gloria fearful. Gloria longs to restore her relationship with Lily, but in the wake of this potentially devastating diagnosis, is Kai an answer to prayer...or will her arrival force Gloria to sacrifice more than she ever imagined?

My Thoughts:
Reclaiming lily discusses the number one fear most people have in regards to adoption.  What happens if the biological family wants the child back?  What if they make contact with the adoptive family?  What happens if your child wants to meet their biological family or have a relationship with them?  How will it affect your family?  Will you loose the child you love?  Should you or would you want your child to know their biological family?  What if the family has news that could impact your child's life forever?

In reclaiming Lily, Gloria Powell and her husband adopt a child from China.  Her name was lily, but they rename her Joy.  Years later, Joy's sister Kai Chang finds Lily's new family due to the request of her deceased mother and an important discovery she makes regarding an inherited genetic problem that may impact Joy's life.  Gloria and Joy's relationship is not in a good place.  Joy is a troubled teenager and Kai's presence is a threat to the relationship, making it difficult for Gloria to let Joy and Kai get to know each other.  For Joy, this is a chance to learn more about who she is, where she came from and why she was adopted.

Reclaiming Lily is an emotional and riveting read.  It's complex and beautiful characters make this story engaging.  The story tackles the challenges and fears of adopting and raising an adopted child.  In addition, it tackles the form of adoption that ties the child to another country and separate culture.  I found this book irresistible and had a hard time putting it down.  As a mother I felt for Gloria.  As a sister and daughter, I understood why Kai needed to find Lily.  This novel was amazing, emotional and moving.  It's dramatic, suspenseful and emotional elements show the power of love and the contentment that comes with healing after a loss.  Patty Lacy has a talent that keeps the reader hooked to an heartwarming and spellbinding story.  I enjoyed it very much.

About the Author

Patti Lacy graduated from Baylor University in 1977 with a BS in education. She taught at Heartland Community College in Normal, Illinois, until she retired in 2006 to pursue writing full time. She and her husband, Alan, have two grown children. Visit Patti at

Reclaiming Lily BOOK TRAILER

Must Read, Don't Miss It!

Everything We Ever Wanted

Author: Sara Shepard
ISBN: 978-0-06-208006-6
Publisher: HarperCollins
Source: TLC Book Tours

A recently widowed mother of two, Sylvie Bates-McAllister finds her life upended by a late-night phone call from the headmaster of the prestigious private school founded by her grandfather where her adopted son Scott teaches. Allegations of Scott's involvement in a hazing scandal cause a ripple effect, throwing the entire family into chaos. For Charles, Sylvie's biological son, it dredges up a ghost from the past who is suddenly painfully present. For his wife Joanna, it forces her to reevaluate everything she's hoped for in the golden Bates-McAllisters. And for Scott, it illuminates harsh truths about a world he has never truly felt himself a part of.
My Thoughts:
Everything we ever wanted is a novel that comes from a lack of communication within a family.  It shows what happens when problems are avoided instead of being dealt with.  The characters in this novel are authentic and tragic.  This family could be any family…  The troubles and problems within the unit are highly relatable and probably hit too close to home for some readers who may feel uncomfortable due to the connection they feel with the story.  The story looks at each of the characters, their wants and expectations and slowly reveals that what we think we want is not always what we hope it will be.
This novel has a uniquely vivid story that makes the reader feel as if they are part of it all.  It is not a feel good novel, but instead makes you evaluate your dreams and expectations, reminding you that nothing is perfect.  The novel is thought provoking and well written though emotional.  At times I wanted to throw the book because of my frustration with the characters.  At the same time I felt for them, because some things just can’t be fixed no matter how hard you try or how much effort you give.
Although the book tackles a variety of different topics and family dynamics, I think the subject matter of hazing was unique and interesting.  The social issue is a topic that is not often discussed, thought it should be.  My biggest complaint about this book is the pace.  It was difficult to read because it was just too slow.  The characters didn’t help the pace and the subject matter made it difficult to push past the slow pace.  Books with difficult and emotional subject matter generally need a faster pace to help the reader get past the issues and emotions involved.  This book just didn’t have it.  As hard as it can be to read an emotional or difficult book, it is harder when the book moves slowly.
Overall, it was good.  It has an interesting story that is unique though slow.  I think the book will have a variety of different reactions, depending on the reader and their background or personality.  I would recommend it if asked.

But for all the Bates-McAllisters, the call exposes a tangled web of secrets that ties the family together: the mystery of the school hazing, the event that tore Charles and Scott apart the night of their high school awards ceremony, and the intended recipient of a certain bracelet. The quest to unravel the truth takes the family on individual journeys across state lines, into hospitals, through the Pennsylvania woods, and face-to-face with the long-dormant question: what if the life you always planned for and dreamed of isn't what you want after all?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Along Wooded Paths

Tricia Goyer
BH Publishing Group
Source: Litfuse Blog Tour

Synopsis from back cover:
All she wanted was a simple Amish life, but now Marianna Sommer finds herself depending on Englisch neighbors.  Although proud of living apart from the world, she and her newly relocated Amish family have discovered that life in the remote mountains of Montana requires working together.

As Marianna begins helping those different from her, and receiving their help, her heart contemplates two directions.  She’s torn between the Amish man from Indiana whom she has long planned on marrying and the friendly Englischer who models a closer walk with God than she’s ever seen before. 

Who should have young Marianna’s heart?  What is God asking her to sacrifice?  Her traditions?  Her community?  The answer is found along the wooded paths.
My Thoughts:
I LOVED book one in this series, Beside Still Waters, and couldn’t wait to read book two.  Unfortunately, I started a new job and didn’t get to read this one as quickly as I wanted, but it was worth the wait!  I love Tricia’s books.  I enjoy her Amish stories because they are different than most others.  I really enjoy how Tricia brings a positive look on the English through this book.  Most Amish fiction shows the sin of the English and the differences between Amish values and the English lifestyle, when in reality no one is perfect and everyone has the same choices.  Tricia shows this through the story.  I enjoyed how Marianna is introduced to wonderful, loving and Godly neighbors, who make her re-think all she has known about English life.  She is challenged to make a decision between a man she has always loved and planned to marry and a man who makes her see things with new eyes and challenges her to have a better relationship with God.  While one is Amish and the other English, both sides bring positive and negative consequences to her choice.
I couldn’t wait to continue this story and once I did, I couldn’t wait to keep reading.  Unfortunately I find myself in the same position as I was with book one.  I now have to wait for book 3 in order to continue the story!  Sometimes I have a love hate relationship with series…. Guess I’ll just have to be patient!  While I think you could enjoy these books as stand-alone novels, I highly suggest reading these in order.  The history in novel one helps you to understand how Marianna’s family arrived in Montana as well as explaining her relationship with her Amish beau.  If you haven’t read book one, read it quick so you can continue the story.  If you’ve read it, pick book two up!  Along Wooded Paths is a great read.

About the Author:
Tricia Goyer is the author of thirty books includingSongbird Under a German Moon, The Swiss Courier, and the mommy memoir, Blue Like Play Dough. She won Historical Novel of the Year in 2005 and 2006 from ACFW, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer's Conference in 2003. Tricia's book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion in 2005. In addition to her novels, Tricia writes non-fiction books and magazine articles for publications like MomSense and Thriving Family. Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences, and has been a workshop presenter at the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International Conventions. She and her family make their home in Little Rock, Arkansas where they are part of the ministry of FamilyLife.

Highly Recommended

Friday, October 21, 2011

An Ebook Only Publisher??

That's right!  Tribute Books is changing.  They will produce ebooks only beginning in 2012.  Read my interview with Nicole from Tribute Books to find out more!

 Please explain how Tribute Books will be changing in  the upcoming year.

Since 2004, we've published over 30 titles in a wide variety of genres in both print and ebook editions under both traditional and subsidy contracts. In 2012, we are going to transition into        becoming solely an e-publisher of young adult titles. There will be no charge to authors and they will receive 50% of the net profits in quarterly royalty payments.

 How did you decide to become an e-book only publisher, focused on one niche group?

The decision was based on primarily two reasons. First, our ebooks are outselling our print editions at a rate of 2 to 1.   All indications point to the ebook trend continuing to expand with the explosion of popularity of e-readers like the Kindle, Nook and iPad. As the prices of the e-readers continue to come down and with bookstores continuing to close, readers will be looking for the quickest, easiest and cheapest way to obtain their reading material. Second, I personally felt as a one-person operation that I was spreading myself too thin in trying to market to too many different markets by publishing books in such a wide array of genres. If I had a marketing staff of 20 people, it would be a different story.

What challenges do you feel Tribute Books faces with these changes?

Most likely, the biggest challenge is that authors we would like to work with won't submit their work because they want to be published in a print format. Hand in hand with that goes the issue of the quality of work that will be submitted. An inundation of poorly written, poorly edited manuscripts certainly isn't the end goal in this transition process. We're primarily looking to work with authors who have been published before by a royalty-paying press, have developed a social media platform and have already had their manuscript professionally edited before submission.

 What opportunities do you feel will present themselves as a result of these changes?

My hope is that we are able to recruit some damn talented writers of well-written, well-crafted stories in order to develop an eager fan base for the titles we publish. We want readers to be excited about the ebooks we produce. Young adult authors have the most devoted fan followings out there, and we'd like to introduce that audience to a whole new host of talent.

Where can readers go to find out more about Tribute Books, their products and the companies upcoming changes?

We try to keep an active online presence, so they can check out our website (, Facebook (, Twitter ( and blog ( on a regular basis. We'd love to have anyone who loves young adult literature to join us for the ride.

Congratulations on all the changes!  What an exciting time for your company! 

Readers, what do you think?  Comment below!!  Personally, I can see how small publishers would need to make this change.  Do I see this as a likely outcome for all publishers? No.  There are still many people who prefer printed books.  Many dabble in both print and digital versions and major publishers who may see a decrease in print sales have not lost sales in this category all together.  The difference in sales is natural due to the presence of the ebook market.  I don't ever want to see print books disappear.  I love everything about a traditional book and feel we would loose a huge piece of history by getting rid of them all together...

The Snowman’s Revenge

Author: Mark Smythe
Illustrator: Mike Motz
ISBN: 978-0-9822704-0-0
Source: BookPleasures

Winter brings fun for everyone, when school is closed and children play; moms enjoy a warm indoor day.  After a snowball fight, the children build a snowman, big and tall.  They give him a hat, scarf, jacket and shovel and then head indoors for warm hot chocolate and cookies.  Mr. Snowman is very mad; he does not appreciate being left outside in the cold.  He wants to be warm and cozy too.  After he sneaks inside, he needs to find a good place to hide.  He heads for the freezer, since he feels he is starting to sweat.  However being stuck in the freezer is no fun, so he decides to scare everyone.  He soon finds out his plan will fail, since snowmen don’t belong inside.
“It snowed outside!  The kids are having fun.  They play and slide and build a snowman.  Then all the friends go inside and leave the snowman all alone.  He’s not nice like Frosty.  He wants to go inside and be warm.  He doesn’t like to be cold, but he can’t be warm or else he will melt.  He gets inside but has to hide in the freezer!  Then at the end he melts because he didn’t stay cold!  Poor snowman.   I love this book!  It was fun to read.   I like the pictures and I like to play in the snow, but I don’t like to be cold.  I would want hot chocolate and cookies inside like the snowman.”  -- 5 year olds thoughts
The Snowman’s Revenge is an adorable story about a snowman who wants to be inside where it is warm and cozy.  He is mad that he’s been left alone in the cold.  Soon the snowman learns why he belongs outside without enjoying any of the things he thought would be so great about the indoors.  This book is full of fun rhyming words, colorful, vivid illustrations and pure enjoyment and imagination.  I highly recommend it for children of all ages.  It’s the perfect read for a snowy day or with a cup of hot chocolate on a cold winter’s day.
Must read, don’t miss it!


Author: Susan May Warren
ISBN: 978-1-60936-218-8
Publisher: Summerside Press
Source: Review Copy
"With the wrong smile, her sister could destroy Jinx's world."
What would you give up to follow your dream?  If you had all the money in the world, would you truly be happy?  Now that you’ve thought “Yes, I would” slow down and re-think.  Think of everything that comes with money, the fame, the expectations, the fake friendships, the danger and greed.  While money can buy you anything and everything, it cannot buy love.  Not true love.  Heiress is a book that explores the thought “Money cannot buy happiness” through two sisters.
The eldest sister and heiress to the family fortune wants to be a newspaper writer.  She doesn’t want to live in a society that expects everything of her without giving thought to her wishes.  When given the chance to escape, Esme flees to Montana to start her own newspaper.  Only time will tell if life without money will bring the happiness Esme seeks or if her act is one of rebellion and her real place is in a glittering and wealthy society?
Jinx, the younger sister wants the life of an Heiress.  After marrying well, she finds herself caught up in the glamour, privileges and duties of the wealthy.  But is she truly happy?  Is it enough?  Both sisters desire true love and look for in in different ways, but who will find it and at what cost?
Heiress is a beautifully written novel that points out where love and happiness is truly rooted.  Both sisters learn that without God, something is always missing.  The book has tackles issues such as rebellion, adultery, betrayal, passion and desire that can be tough to talk about.  Both sisters desire the same thing yet seek it in very different ways.  I enjoyed the unique genuine aspects of this book.  Everyone wants to be happy.  Money brings an ease to life yet complicates it also.  Two sisters can be so alike yet so vastly different.  There are so many real qualities in this book that helped me to appreciate it.  Susan May Warren never fails me with her writing.  She has an enjoyable writing style and pens novels that are vastly different yet wonderful in their own way.   In addition to great plots, Susan develops interesting and lovable characters.  It’s hard to put her books down.  This one is no different.  I actually read both this novel and a Christmas novel by Susan in the last few weeks.  I can happily say I enjoyed both and would recommend them.
Highly Recommended

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Interview with Susan May Warren

What thrills you about writing?  What makes you pick up the pen and keep going in your worst of moments?
Words, and the poetry of them, and especially how God might untangle the story for a happy ending.  At least I’m hoping….!

What is your ideal writing setting?
I like writing on a snowy or rainy day, under a blankie, with hot-cocoa.  If it’s nice out, then I’m tempted to get outside and walk and I hate missing sunny weather! I like to write in the morning, before people start moving around, but I get most of my inspiration in the afternoon after my brain has warmed up.

Any authors inspire you?
Many many authors inspire me!!  I find new ones every year to add to the old ones.  Of course, my staples are Rachel Hauck, Francine Rivers, Dee Henderson, Jenny B. Jones, Deeann Gist, Christa Parrish, Carla Stewart, Siri Mitchell, Ronie Kendig and Robin Caroll.  I always have their newest books on my TBR pile!!

What challenges you as a writer?
Coming up with fresh internal struggles and storylines.  And, I always want to be getting better, so challenging myself with prose is always a priority. 

What challenges you as a woman?
Turning off the voices in my head that say I need to have an immaculate, designed house and a colorful meal on the table at 6pm every night.  I also wish I had more time to really invest in my friendships. Thankfully, I have a handful of friends and we all agree that we are busy, but when we need each other, we are there.

Do you or have you ever belonged to a book club?
Yes, through my church, and online.

Talk about something that is making you happy right now.
Watching my two youngest sons play football, knowing my daughter loves her college, and seeing my oldest son branch out and become his own man.  I love watching my children become these amazing adults!

Tell me something surprising about you.
Although I’m an extrovert, I enjoy just driving, alone in my car for hours. 

What are you afraid of?
Strange people touching me on an airplane.  (Not kidding).  Germs.  And, I have issues with letting go of missed opportunities. 

Name something people shouldn’t leave your town without visiting.
World’s Best Donuts.  And the Java Moose coffee shop.  And sitting outside in the Harbor with a selection from both of those watching Lake Superior’s waves comb the rocky shoreline and breathing in the piney air.   

Have you ever based a character in your novel on a real person?
Josey Berglund from “Everything’s Coming up Josey” is me.

Do you have a “first” reader?
Yes.  Ellen Tarver.  Who is also my editor now with Summerside.  LOVE HER.  I call her my secret weapon.

Title of the last book you read?
Falls like Lightening by Shawn Grady.

Title of a book you are dying to read that’s not yet released.
The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck.  It’s going to be amazing.

Aside from my already highly stated opinion, why should people read your books?
LOL!  Because I try and deliver a story that isn’t just well-plotted and with powerful characters, but something that also explores a truth that hopefully impacts the reader in a life-changing way.  I hope that people are not just inspired, but changed in some way by my stories.

How can readers connect with you?
Thank you again for letting me stop by!

Check out my review of Heiress tomorrow!!