Saturday, July 26, 2014

Julia and the Art of Practical Travel by Lesley M. M. Blume

Julia and the Art of Practical Travel

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

When her grandmother dies and the once-majestic family estate is sold, eleven-year-old Julia Lancaster and her aunt Constance must take to the road to find Julia’s long-lost mother. They bring with them only the most practical travel things—silver candlestick holders, a few Oriental carpets, some steamer trunks, and Julia’s beloved Brownie camera, which she will use to document their journey across 1960s America.

On the road, Julia and her aunt meet a cast of peculiar characters, including guitar-strumming hippies in Greenwich Village, a legendary voodoo queen in New Orleans, the honorable proprietor of the World’s End Cattle Ranch in Texas, and the colorful sheriff of Gold Point, Nevada (population: 1), who also happens to be the town’s mayor, fire chief, and reverend. But will they find Julia’s mother and a place to call home?

Poignant, engaging, and funny, Lesley M. M. Blume’s new novel is a meditation on the thin line between being an insider and being an outsider, and the deep-rooted need we all have to find a place where we can feel at home.

My thoughts:
I really enjoyed reading this ARC.  Blume is a new author for me, but I am going to look into finding copies of some of her other books as well.  I loved how this book was set in 1968.  It is grounded in an historic period that children don't always learn about in school, especially in the age range the book is recommended for.  Even a an adult, I think I get a much better understanding of past time periods when I see them through the words of novel with people living in them.  I could see Greenwich Village and the hippies Julia's aunt talks to looking for Julia's mother.  In conversation characters work in references to Martin Luther King Jr. and the Kennedy's, giving context to the events and people they might otherwise just encounter in history books.

Julia is recounting the story of traveling the country with her aunt looking for her mother, who left when she was eight years old.  Their car is loaded down with trunks carrying all of their remaining belongings after having to sell the family home and furnishings due to falling on hard times.  The people they meet and stay with along the way are all colorful, perhaps even made more so by seeing them through an 11-year-old's eyes.  The newly rich woman who bought their home and belongings but knows nothing about society ways, the boarding house that lacks indoor plumbing and electricity, the high society woman who is friends with a voodoo queen, the mayor of a gold ghost town, the owner of a ranch and hippies on both coasts.

Since this was an ARC not all of Julia's brownie camera pictures were in the book, some spots were labeled for the pictures to come, but I loved seeing what she chose to document.  I was a bit thrown by the lack of quotation marks at the beginning, but I got used to it as I went along.  I don't know if those will be added later or if it was stylistic to show that a child was telling the story.  Either way, I enjoyed the colorful journey across the country and back.  Sometimes what we are looking for is right there in front of us, it just takes a bit to see it.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385752824
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 3/10/2015
  • Pages: 192
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Lesley M. M. Blume is an author and journalist. She lives in New York City, but is a nomad at heart. When she travels the world, she always takes with her a trunk filled with glistening practical-travel things. She has written five previous novels for Knopf, including Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters, The Rising Star of Rusty Nail, and Tennyson, which the Chicago Tribune praised for its “brilliant, unusual writing.”

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater


Sinner (Wolves of Mercy Falls/Shiver Series)

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

SINNER follows Cole St. Clair, a pivotal character from the #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling Shiver Trilogy.
found.
Cole St. Clair has come to California for one reason: to get Isabel Culpeper back. She fled from his damaged, drained life, and damaged and drained it even more. He doesn't just want her. He needs her.
lost.
Isabel is trying to build herself a life in Los Angeles. It's not really working. She can play the game as well as all the other fakes. But what's the point? What is there to win?
sinner.
Cole and Isabel share a past that never seemed to have a future. They have the power to love each other and the power to tear each other apart. The only thing for certain is that they cannot let go.

My thoughts:
I really enjoyed the first three books in this series, so I was excited to read a little more about Cole and Isabel.  I did miss Grace and Sam though.  Without them the story had a very different feel.

Cole is still coming to grips with the death of his friend and band mate, Victor, who died as a wolf wanting to be a man again, while Cole wants to be able to stay a wolf for longer and keeps coming back to his flawed human self.  Isabel is hurting from the death of her brother and her parent's unraveling marriage and works hard to not feel anything.

Being on an internet reality show brought Cole to LA, while his real reason for coming was Isabel, but can he convince her of that.  How does an addict move on?  Can the music and lyrics mean different things to different people?  Is there a happily ever after?

Product Details

Meet the Author

Maggie Stiefvater

Maggie Stiefvater is the #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author of the novels SHIVER, LINGER, and FOREVER. Her novel THE SCORPIO RACES was named a Michael L. Printz Honor Book by the American Library Association, while PUBLISHERS WEEKLY selected Maggie's THE RAVEN BOYS as a Best Book of the Year. She is also the author of LAMENT and BALLAD. Maggie lives in Virginia with her husband and their two children. You can visit her online at www.maggiestiefvater.com.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Revealing by Suzanne Woods Fisher (The Inn at Eagle Creek) Litfuse Blog Tour






































About the book: 
 
Naomi King, soft spoken, loyal, and easily overlooked, has a gift. She sees what others can't see. Intuition, she calls it. Others in Stoney Ridge don't know what to make of it and dismiss her hunches and inklings altogether.

When a young woman arrives at the Inn at Eagle Hill with a shocking secret about Tobe Schrock, Naomi fears the worst. She can't ignore the feeling that something sinister is at work--- something more than a threat to the tenuous love begun between her and Tobe.

As signs mount, they begin to point to Jake Hertzler, the elusive mastermind behind Schrock Investments' downfall. Soon, events spiral hopelessly out of control and Naomi must decide whether to listen to her head or her heart.

In this riveting conclusion to The Inn at Eagle Hill series, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher pulls out all the stops with a fast-paced tale of deception, revelation, and just the right dose of romance.
My thoughts:
Sometimes we think we know exactly how we want things to go in our lives, but the more we push at them the less they follow that direction.  Each of the characters in this book has to do a bit of letting go of micromanaging and has to have a bit of trust that there is a plan for them. 
 
Mim is still hiding that she is writing for the Mrs. Miracle column, Bethany can't seem to get Jimmy to see that they should get engaged, Rose is torn between the past and the present what to do to make ends meet for her family, Naomi is hiding a pretty big secret and all of this is upset when a woman comes to the Inn with some big stories.  Something seems off, but they can quite decide what to do about her and her claims.
 
Having faith, working together, accepting help from the community and getting to the bottom of what really happened to Schrock Investments circle around through the every day events at the Inn and in the town.  I was sad to see that this is the conclusion of this series, as it would have been nice to visit again and see what has happened with this close knit community.



Purchase a copy: http://ow.ly/ywEHT 
 
 
 

About the author: 

Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of the Inn at Eagle Hill series, Lancaster County Secrets series, and the Stoney Ridge Seasons series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace. She is also the coauthor of a new Amish children's series, The Adventures of Lily Lapp. Her interest in the Anabaptist cultures can be directly traced to her grandfather, who was raised in the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Suzanne is a Carol Award winner and a Christy Award finalist. She is a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazines. She lives in California.

Download Suzanne's free app! http://bit.ly/10Tygyi

Find Suzanne online: website, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest

Panic by Lauren Oliver

Panic

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver comes an extraordinary novel of fear, friendship, courage, and hope that Kirkus Reviews says "will have readers up until the wee hours," School Library Journal raves is "fast-paced and captivating," and E. Lockhart, author of We Were Liars, calls "a thrill a minute."

Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a poor town of twelve thousand people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do. Heather never thought she would compete in panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors. She'd never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.

Dodge has never been afraid of panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game; he's sure of it. But what he doesn't know is that he's not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for. For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.

My thoughts:
I enjoy reading Lauren Oliver's books and watching how she helps her characters decide between right and wrong when they have a lot of outside forces working around them.  In this small, poor town, every high school senior contributes to a pool of money that will go to the winner of the game of Panic during the summer.  Even those who do not wish to contribute are coerced into doing so.  Heather has never planned to compete, until she finds out something shocking on the first day of the game and makes the big jump that puts her in the game.

Poverty has eaten away at many of these families.  Some are living in trailer parks, some small apartments, some in falling apart or junky homes.  Everyone could really use the pot of $67,000, the largest the prize has ever been, but the game is more than a game.  Two years ago the final challenge left one girl in a wheelchair for life.  The possibility of getting hurt is very real and increases with each secretive challenge as the number of players declines through elimination and fear of continuation.

Heather longs to be away from her single mother, who smokes and drinks inside the tiny trailer she lives in with her sister, Dodge has a very serious grudge to settle, Natalie is dreaming of a future that seems unlikely, and Bishop is supportive but staying in the background.  As secrets are revealed about each of them, along with other players, a while different picture of the town emerges.  The past winner who is now balding, heavy drinking and no more successful than he was when he won is an eye opener.  Maybe winning the big prize isn't enough to change your whole life,  maybe it takes more than money.

The ride through, the feelings of panic for the truly dangerous challenges, the angst about the future, while skating along a ledge of independence stream through this book with the addition of a couple tigers, some shot guns and secrets galore.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062014559
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/4/2014
  • Pages: 416

Meet the Author

Lauren Oliver
Lauren Oliver is the author of the young adult novels Before I Fall and Panic, as well as the Delirium trilogy—Delirium, Pandemonium, and Requiem—which have been translated into more than thirty languages and are New York Times and international bestsellers. She is also the author of two novels for middle-grade readers, The Spindlers and Liesl & Po, the latter of which was an E.B. White Read-Aloud Award nominee. A graduate of the University of Chicago and New York University's MFA program, she lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Monday, July 21, 2014

When I Fall In Love by Susan May Warren Litfuse Blog Tour






































About the book: 
 
Hawaii was the last place Grace Christiansen ever imagined she'd vacation, much less fall in love. But when her family surprises her with a cooking retreat in paradise, she is pulled-or maybe yanked-away from her predictable, safe life and thrown headfirst into the adventure of a lifetime.
Max Sharpe may make his living on the ice as a pro hockey player, but he feels most at home in the kitchen. Which is why he lives for the three-week culinary vacation he takes each year in Hawaii. Upon being paired with Grace for a cooking competition, Max finds himself drawn to her passion, confidence, and perseverance. But just when Grace dares to dream of a future beyond her hometown, Max pulls away.
Wrestling with personal demons, Max fights against opening his heart to a love he knows he should never hope for. And as his secrets unfold, Grace is torn between the safe path in front of her and what her heart truly desires. If love means sacrificing her ideal happily ever after, Grace's faith will face its toughest test yet.
Purchase a copy: http://ow.ly/z5Ijj
 
My thoughts:
This book pulled me in right from the start.  It was fun to stop back in and see how Eden and Jace were doing from the book It Had to Be You.  It was nice to see them moving along and getting things squared away from their wedding.  That said, I think it would be just as easy to jump into this book even without the last one.  Everything of note that needed to be known about the last book is mentioned or reviewed so that if a reader is new, nothing will be missed.
 
Grace has lived her life being safe.  She is a homebody who hides behind her food and rarely leaves home.  She has a very hard time with change and taking a chance.  Max is a hockey player with fears about his own future, fearing the family disease that may be in the cards for him.  He never dates a woman more than once and keeps to himself, not wanting anyone to get too close and risk hurting them if he gets sick.  They are thrown together on a Hawaiian cooking vacation that Max goes on regularly during the off season and Grace has been given as a gift from her sister and her husband. 
 
Cooking together and exploring together, the two become close and Grace starts to come out of her shell.  She asks for guidance and tries to believe that it is okay to take a chance.  It takes losing what she thinks she wants to really listen to God and trust that everything will work out in the end, that there is a plan and she needs to trust.  It is hard to let go of our self made walls of self preservation, but Grace takes hers down and learns about living life to the fullest even if it may come with an expiration date.
 
 
Purchase a copy: http://ow.ly/z5Ijj

About the author: 

Susan May Warren is the bestselling, RITA Award-winning author of more than forty novels whose compelling plots and unforgettable characters have won acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. She served with her husband and four children as a missionary in Russia for eight years before she and her family returned home to the States. She now writes full-time as her husband runs a lodge on Lake Superior in northern Minnesota, where many of her books are set. She and her family enjoy hiking, canoeing, and being involved in their local church. Several of her critically acclaimed novels have been ECPA and CBA bestsellers, were chosen as Top Picks by Romantic Times, and have won the RWA's Inspirational Reader's Choice contest and the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year award. Five of her books have been Christy Award finalists. In addition to her writing, Susan loves to teach and speak at women's events about God's amazing grace in our lives. She also runs a writing community for authors.

Find Susan online: website, My Book TherapyTwitter, Facebook
 Blog Tour Schedule
 
 
 
 
7/24/2014Rachel | Crafts-n-fitness
Victor | Vic's Media Room
Cindy | Cindy's Book Reviews
Margaret | Frugal-Shopping

7/25/2014Nise | Under the Boardwalk
Stacey | WORD Up!
Beth | for the love of books
Alison | NOVA Frugal Family
Lisa | A Rup Life
Heather | The Sunset Won't

7/26/2014Susan | Let's eat 2 day

7/27/2014Rebecca | A Bookworms Corner
Angela | A Busy Mom of Two
Amanda | Semel insanivimus omnes
Revka | Our Family Porch
Margaret | The World As I See It

7/28/2014Renee Ann | Doorkeeper

7/29/2014Chelsey | Charming Chelsey's
Veronica | Veronica's 'Views

7/30/2014Jenny | Book Reviews By Jenny
Melanie | Christian Bookshelf Reviews
Jessica | Jesus Freak Reader
Heidi | Heidi Reads...
Tressa | Wishful Endings

7/31/2014Abbi | Christian Novels
Jennifer | Adventures in Unsell Land
Rosie | Writings of Rosie

8/1/2014Sharon | Sharon's Garden of Book Reviews
Bethany | Perfect Beginnings
Amber | snidbits
Vera | Reader's Haven Reviews
Jill | I am believing God
Cassandra | Cassandra M's Place
Jennifer | Mother of Three
Wendy | Life at Rossmont
Deb | Deb's Book Review
Hallie | Book by Book
Kellie | Nothing Less
Andi | Radiant Light
Ramona | Create With Joy
Amber | Amber Writes
Virginia | Bigreadersite
Cindy | All Things Are Possible

8/2/2014Mindy | A Room Without Books is Empty
Melissa | Mel's World with Melissa Mashburn
Lizzie | A Dusty Frame
Crystal | krystlbears Corner
Amanda | Books By Amanda
Katie | Too Read or Not Too Read
8/3/2014Abi | 4 the LOVE of BOOKS
Edythe | Ski-Wee's Book Corner
Michelle | Our Little Corner of the World
Kristin | Kritters Ramblings
Ladette | the life and times of a pwnmom...

8/4/2014Julie | Julie ArduiniCrystal | Sweet and Sour Reviews
Tiffany | The Crafty Home
Erin | For Him and My Family
Sarah | Life isn't always a Fairytale

8/5/2014Victoria | deal sharing aunt
Debra | 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too!
Jalynn | A Simple Life, really?!
Megan | When life gets you down...read a book

8/6/2014Laura | Lighthouse Academy
Jasmine | the bookish mama
Jennifer | Jen's Journey
JoJo | JoJo's Corner

8/7/2014Jill | Book Books Everywhere
Faith | Found a Christian by His Grace
Becky | Christian Chick's Thoughts
Lindsey | The IE Mommy

8/8/2014Nancy | Neatly-Packaged
Joan | Book Reviews from an Avid Reader
Andrew | Andrew Smith's Blog
Amanda | Amanda's Pile of Books

8/9/2014Linda | Mocha with Linda
Shecki | Greatly Blessed
Amy | A Nest in the Rocks
Debra | Footprints in the Butter
Billy | Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer
Dianna |Savings in Seconds
Nancy | sunny island breezes
Maureen | Maureen's Musings
Charity | Giveaway Lady
Mary | Mary's Cup of Tea
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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Rival Hearts by Tara Randel (Litfuse Blog Tour)






































About the book: 
 
They both want the promotion. But will they find out that it is worth the cost?
Molly Henderson and Ben Weaver have been rival magazine writers for the same publishing group for years. When both come up for the same promotion, they find themselves in an unexpected competition to win the spot. Molly, editor of Quilter's Heart, and Ben, editor of Outdoor Adventures, must switch roles, each working for the other for one month, then submit an article at the end of their quests.
Can girly-girl Molly survive the outdoor adventures that Ben has planned? Can Ben navigate the perils of the social dynamics of quilting events without destroying a valuable quilt in one short month? More importantly, in this he-said, she-said situation, will Molly and Ben give in to their attraction and fall in love, no matter who wins?

Landing page: 

 
My thoughts:
We all get into our comfort zones and then have a hard time getting out of them.  Molly had a lot of allergies when she was young so, while her older brother played tons of sports and spent hours outdoors, her parents kept her inside where she was safe from harm.  She translated that into her adult life and never tried anything outdoorsy until the day he boss issued a challenge.  Molly, the editor or a quilting magazine, and Ben, the recently hired editor or a outdoor adventure, are both up for a new position.  The challenge is they each have to do a task for the opposite magazine.  Ben has to make a quilt with a quilting group and Molly has to enter a kayaking competition. 
 
Ben and Molly get a chance to go outside of their comfort zones, get to know one another and grow and change.  By the end of the story they are both different than how they started due to their own journeys and the friendships they form along the way.  I love this quote from page 186 made by one of Molly's quilting friend. "The moral of the story is about supporting each other.  No one is an island, Molly.  Having people in our lives enriches us.  It is as simple as that."  Meeting new people, being in new situations and getting to know others is what life is all about.  If we allow ourselves to get too comfortable, we stop growing and living.  Through making quilts and getting outdoors and helping women in need, these characters learned about themselves and enriched their own lives.

Learn more about this book and the series at the Quilts of Love website.

About the Author: 

Tara Randel is the author of five romance novels including Lasting Love, Melody of Love, and This Time Love. A member of ACFW, Tara is also the lead author of the new Annie's Mysteries series (see AnniesMysteries.com). Tara lives in New Port Richey, Florida.
Connect with Tara: website, Facebook
 
 
About Quilts of Love: Quilts tell stories of love and loss, hope and faith, tradition and new beginnings. The Quilts of Love series focuses on the women who quilted all of these things into their family histories. A new book releases each month and features contemporary and historical romances as well as women's fiction and the occasional light mystery. You will be drawn into the endearing characters of this series and be touched by their stories.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home by Rhoda Janzen

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Shortly after Rhoda Janzen turned forty, her husband of fifteen years left her for Bob, a guy he met on Gay. com, and a car accident left her with serious injuries. What was a gal to do?

Rhoda packed her bags and went home to her Mennonite family, who welcomed her back with open arms and offbeat advice. It is in this safe place that Rhoda can come to terms with her failed marriage, her desire as a young woman to leave her sheltered world behind, and the choices that both freed and entrapped her.

Written with wry humor and tackling faith, love, family, and aging, Mennonite in a Little Black Dress is an immensely moving memoir of healing, certain to touch anyone who has ever had to look homeward in order to move ahead.

My thoughts:
This book has been on my shelf for a while.  A few weeks ago I chose it as one to take on a beach vacation.  While I have read a lot of mixed reviews of it online, I personally enjoyed it.  Parts of it had me laughing out loud on the beach, which can be embarrassing I suppose, but I decided to try to enjoy it and stay in the moment.  I did feel as though she harped a bit on the fact that her husband left her for a man he met online.  That was repeated more often that I felt was necessary.  I got it the first time, so the repeated references felt unnecessary.  I would have liked to have learned more about why both Rhoda and her sister decided to leave the Mennonite faith while her two brothers decided to remain.  Memoirs are one of my favorite genres, they are like stepping into someone else's life for a short time.  A vacation of sorts into a life you are not living, that you may either wish you could have or conversely feel thankful not to have to live.  This one was simply humorous and fast paced.  It was perfect to read on the beach.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805092257
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 4/13/2010
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 241

Meet the Author

Rhoda Janzen
Rhoda Janzen holds a PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles, where she was the University of California Poet Laureate in 1994 and 1997. She is the author of Babel’s Stair, a collection of poems, and her poems have also appeared in Poetry, The Yale Review, The Gettysburg Review, and The Southern Review. She teaches English and creative writing at Hope College in Holland, Michigan.