Saturday, August 31, 2013

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival

Hello, and welcome to Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival. We are a group of Catholic bloggers who gather weekly to share our best posts with each other. To participate, go to your blog and create a post titled Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival. In it, discuss and   link to your posts for the week--whether they deal with theology, Catholic living or cute Catholic kids. I'm mostly a book blogger so my posts are generally book reviews, some Catholic, some not. Make sure that post links back here; some folks are forgetting that! Once you publish it, come back here and leave a link below.

We also have a yahoogroup; signing up for it will get you one weekly reminder to post.  Click here to sign up.

This week's Question of the Week:  With which ministries/activities within your parish are you involved?  My Answer:  I'm a lector and I serve on the parish school board.  I also take a weekly hour in the Adoration Chapel.  I can be counted on to work several shifts at the fair, though so far I've held out against chairing a booth.  

Next week's Question of the Week:  What is your favorite formal (memorized) prayer?
I have written Questions of the Week for the remainder of 2013, however, I'd love help with questions for the new year.   You can click here to submit a question to use once my current list runs dry.

Now, on to this weeks Snippets.  My 7 Quick Takes this week were on taking my daughter to college.  I also published a bunch of book reviews including Light This Candle which is a freebie romance to support a charity, Whispers on the Dock which Christian women's fiction, and Winter in Full Bloom which is Christian fiction.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Kindle Freebie: Unwilling Wife

About the Book:
Their war of wills was on!

Gina had been young, in awe of the older man who swept her off her feet, lifting her into a bright world of new experiences. But after ten years of marriage, she found herself fearful of totally disappearing, becoming nothing more than an extension of her husband, her every opinion, every idea, dismissed—all, of course, for her own good. Panic-stricken, Gina ran three thousand miles away, determined to become a whole, fully functional human being in her own right.

David would have none of it, as resolute to win her back as she was to shed his controlling influence. What a shame their sex life held explosive passions so thrilling Gina feared his soft seductions might weaken her resolve. David counted on it. 

My Comments:
While a bit on the steamy side, this book raised some interesting questions about marriage.  Gina is feeling smothered by her husband who clearly is the dominant person in their marriage.  She asked for red plaid luggage and he got her brown leather--more practical, more appropriate.  She wants chocolate; he buys her roses.  He is into eating healthy; she wants chocolate.  When he won't listen to her, she basically runs away from home and then files for divorce.  It is not that she hates him; rather she just wants an opportunity to be someone other than his other half.  He follows her across the country to try to woo her back, but won't leave her alone.  Where does wooing stop and stalking begin?  One of the places he tries to woo her is in bed; is that a good idea?  If the main place a couple is happy together is in bed, does that mean they should split?  

The book is a little different than your average romance novel and while I found some of the scenes improbable, it was an enjoyable read.  Grade:  B.  

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Seven Quick Takes: Off to College

Well,  my nest is a little emptier.  We took my daughter to college on Saturday.  She is now a proud Freshman at Northwestern State University of Louisiana
.Northwestern State University of Louisiana
Her siblings wanted to see the school  (it is four hours from here) so we made a family trip of dropping her off.  Here you can see the packed van and her siblings:

After driving up there and moving her stuff into her "dorm", we headed to mass.  Take a look at this "dorm"; actually it is a four bedroom apartment housing four girls.

The church is across the street from the campus.  The crowd at Saturday night Mass on move-in day was on the gray side but the  priest seemed nice and invited her to come back.  The feed the kids for free on Wednesday nights.  I hope she goes.  After Mass we went downtown to get a bite to eat.  I had a famous Natchitoches meat pie.
Then it was off to the grocery store to buy snacks, toiletries and cleaning supplies.  One last chance to shop with Mom's credit card.  Then we headed for our hotel and left her to play with her friends.
They have been recruiting her for the Louisiana Scholars College since they started recruiting her for the school.  Her initial answer was "No, I've spent seven years at Haynes (magnet school for bright kids) and I want out of that environment (in other words she wanted to be the smartest kid in the class, like she was in elementary school).  When she went up for orientation this summer they worked on her some more.  While housed on the university campus, the Scholars College program is largely separate from the rest of the school.  They have interdisciplinary great books core classes taught seminar-style in a building largely reserved for Scholars College.  Even their upper level courses are largely separate from the other students, especially if they are liberal arts majors.  She wanted to major in history and is really exactly the type of student they are looking for.  She still said "no" this summer, but she was wavering.  Her roommate decided this summer that she would do it, and Scholars College had some events before the rest of the folks got there, so she had been there a couple of days by the time we got there and was telling my daughter how awesome it was.  
Sunday night there was another Scholars function and her roommate emailed the director and asked if my daughter could come.  The director said yes, but that she wanted to meet with my daughter before hand.  By the end of Sunday, I was the mother of a Louisiana Scholars College student.  She is taking Texts and Traditions, which is a five hour interdisciplinary course which this semester focuses on the Ancient World.  She is also taking a four hour course in European art and politics from 1800 to present, and a three hour class on gender in literature.  A Latin class and orientation round out her schedule.  She says she loves her classes, and they certainly sound interesting to me.  She'll be doing a lot of reading and writing.  Her dad wasn't happy about the gender in literature class.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Kindle Freebie: Light This Candle

About the Book:
Each year, the Harlequin More Than Words award is given to three women who have worked hard to change people's lives for the better. Inspired by their accomplishments, three bestselling authors have written stories to honor these real-life heroines.

In Light This Candle, Major Mitch McConnell has arrived home after serving overseas for nearly two years. Now he can finally give his condolences to Cassidy Frazier, whose husband died under his command. But when he tracks down the single mother, he finds out that Cassidy is about to be evicted and her son, Cody, is in the hospital.

At first, Cassidy tells Mitch she doesn't want his help. The military wasn't there for her when it mattered most, so she certainly doesn't need them now. But Mitch is more than a soldier: he's a caring, gentle man who's determined to ease Cassidy's burdens. And if she lets him into her family, perhaps she can give Mitch something worth fighting for...

Look for all three ebooks inspired by real-life heroines: Good Neighbors by Sheila Roberts, Just Joe by Carla Cassidy and Light This Candle by Cindy Dees.

My Comments:
This one is a real tear-jerker.  Cody is not only in the hospital, he's dying unless he can get a transplant.  When Mitch asks the hospital social worker about Cassidy's needs, the social worker suggests that what she needs is him, and for him to be there for her and reliable.  Yes, things happen fast, and no, I don't think I ever doubted the ending but it was a sweet read that had me in tears a couple of times.  For the price, what more could I want. 

Like all the books in this series, it introduces us to a charity and the woman who started it.  In this case the charity is Patches of Light, which is dedicating to helping families of critically ill children.   Grade:  B-.  

Monday, August 26, 2013

Review: Winter in Full Bloom

About the Book:
Lily Winter's wings are folded so tightly around her daughter that when empty nest arrives, she feels she can no longer fly. But Lily's lonely, widowed life changes in a heartbeat when she goes to visit a woman who is almost a stranger to her-a woman who also happens to be her mother. During their fiery reunion, her mother reveals a dark family secret that she'd been hiding for decades-Lily has an identical twin sister who was put up for adoption when they were just babies.

 Without looking back, Lily-with her fear of flying-boards a jumbo jet and embarks on a quest to find her sister which leads half way around the world to Melbourne, Australia. Befriended by imprudent Ausie, he might prove to be the key to finding her sister. But her journey becomes a circle that leads her back home to attempt a family reunion and to find the one dream she no longer imagined possible-the chance to fall in love again.

My Comments:
I love happy endings and this book has a very happy ending.  Unfortunately, that happy ending is why I'm giving this book a B+ rather than an A.  The writing is superb, the characters well-developed, the descriptions of Australia make me want to go there; everything about the book is great except that the ending is just a little too clean.  In short, Lily's mother almost seems to have a personality transplant.  She didn't grow, and change into who she should have been; it was just that fast and her daughters were able to change with her, just that fast.  I just didn't buy it.  Still, the rest of the book almost makes up for the ending.  

If you are reading this post before August 29, check out the button on my sidebar to win a Kindle Fire.  

I'd like to thank Litfuse for providing a complimentary review copy.  

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sheila at Book Journey hosts It's Monday What Are You Reading:

My Reviews this week:

I also participated in the Book Blogger Hop

Blog Tour and Review: Whispers on the Dock

Book three in the Postcards from Misty Harbor Inn series, Whispers on the Dock(Guideposts Books) is now availableCome back to Nantucket and be enthralled by the final installment of the cozy intrigue of Misty Harbor Inn.

About the Book:
As Nantucket reaches the pinnacle of its summer glory, and the Marris sisters welcome guests at Misty Harbor Inn, youngest sister Sam Carter enters her mother's cobbler recipe in the Summerfest baking contest. But she faces a formidable opponent, a past winner who is determined to keep her title even if it means stooping to dirty tactics. Can Sam's newfound faith help her rise above the fray and reach out to this lonely woman? Meanwhile, an elderly guest arrives who knows the inn's history, and the sisters are stunned to learn that their late mother lived there as a child. But she told them she'd never been to Nantucket until her honeymoon! Through the woman's reminiscences and photos, the sisters make an intriguing discovery -- not only about the mysterious Hannah Montague, the young woman who disappeared from the house in 1880, but also about their own family history.

Readers will delight in the inviting Nantucket setting and be enthralled by the adventures of these sisters who reunite to bring their mother's Misty Harbor dreams to life.

My Comments:
I enjoyed this charming conclusion to the series.  The blurb above mentions Sam's faith, and it is true that in the book the minister suggests reaching out to this woman, however, this really isn't that religious a book.  It is more along the lines of sweet women's fiction.

It was fun watching the sisters solve the mystery of Hannah as well as a mystery about their own mother.  In short, a great beach read.  Grade:  B.

Enter to win the entire set of Postcards from Misty Harbor Inn.
Three winners will receive:
  • Seaside Summer, Sunflower Summer and Whispers on the Dock by Evangeline Kelley
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on August 31st. All winners will be announced September 2nd at the Litfuse blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to visit the Litfuse blog on the 2nd to see if you won one set! (Or better yet, subscribe to our blog (via the box in the top right sidebar) and have the winner announcement delivered to your inbox!)

The Hero: My Review

About the Book:
In a moment of desperation, Devon McAllister takes her daughter and flees a place where they should have been safe and secure. She has no idea what is around the next bend, but she is pretty certain it can't be worse than what they've left behind. Her plan is to escape to somewhere she can be invisible. Instead, an unexpected offer of assistance leads her to Thunder Point, a tiny Oregon town with a willingness to help someone in need. 

As the widowed father of a vulnerable young boy, Spencer Lawson knows something about needing friendship. But he's not looking for anything else. Instead, he's thrown his energy into his new role as Thunder Point's high school football coach. Tough and demanding to his team, off the field he's gentle and kind…just the kind of man who could heal Devon's wounded heart. 

Devon thought she wanted to hide from the world. But in Thunder Point, you find bravery where you least expect it…and sometimes, you find a hero.

My Comments:
Robyn Carr is one of those authors whose books I grab when I see them on NetGalley.  I downloaded this one Wednesday and had it read by Thursday, so it definitely caught my interest and was an engaging read.  Like the earlier books in the series, this one is set in a small town on the Oregon coast.  Everyone knows everyone and most folks are good.  Most folks have something in their past that is less than ideal.  None of the featured relationships involve unattached young folks who get together, marry and then have a child.  Devon joined a commune and is now the single mother of a child sired by the leader of said commune.  Spencer is a widower, and what's more, when his wife was ill they learned that their son was not his son, but rather, Cooper's.  Cooper is  with Sarah.  She's divorced, and has been raising her younger brother all these years.      The Sheriff's wife left him and their kids.  Now, he is married to Gina, who was impregnated by a high school boyfriend who disappeared, but who is now back, and Gina and Mack are ok with that.  Mack's Aunt Lou marries a younger man of a different race.  Yes, it is kind of soap-opera-ish but like a soap opera watcher, the reader becomes attached to these folks.  While clearly part of a series, the back story isn't necessary to enjoy this story.  

I liked both Spencer and Devon.  I could see Devon changing in both appearance and attitude as the book progressed.  Spencer didn't undergo those big changes but I always liked him--your basic loving Dad and all-around good guy.  Things get a little steamy with them a couple of times.

While the whole book was an enjoyable read, this is one where I found the climax scene to be very unrealistic.  Without any spoilers, not only could I not see it resolving as it did, I couldn't believe the characters were involved in it.  Not surprisingly, it ends happily ever after.  

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  Grade:  B- (the minus is for that climax scene).  

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival

Hello, and welcome to Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival. We are a group of Catholic bloggers who gather weekly to share our best posts with each other. To participate, go to your blog and create a post titled Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival. In it, discuss and   link to your posts for the week--whether they deal with theology, Catholic living or cute Catholic kids. I'm mostly a book blogger so my posts are generally book reviews, some Catholic, some not. Make sure that post links back here; some folks are forgetting that! Once you publish it, come back here and leave a link below.

We also have a yahoogroup; signing up for it will get you one weekly reminder to post.  Click here to sign up.

This week's Question of the Week:    What is your favorite hymn that you hear/sing at Mass?
My favorite is "Be Not Afraid" (and yes, I know I'm showing my age, but I've always liked that song and probably always will.
Next week's Question of the Week:  With which ministries/activities within your parish are you involved?
I have written Questions of the Week for the remainder of 2013, however, I'd love help with questions for the new year.   You can click here to submit a question to use once my current list runs dry.

Now, onto my snippets.  My Seven Quick Takes post this week features my older daughter who took her first steps outside the nest this week.  She is now officially a freshman at Northwestern State University of Louisiana.  Fork 'em Demons!  

I reviewed a children's Bible that is good for kids who are in between picture books and real Bibles.  Have a look around while you are here; I also reviewed a couple of general market romances and a Christian romance I didn't really like.  

Friday, August 23, 2013

Book Blogger Hop.

This week's question: Book blogging is more than just reading. Who helped you set up or run your blog? Or did you do it all yourself?

I did it all by my lonesome, with help from lots of folks.  The help wasn't necessarily in the form of direct aid so much as seeing things I liked and copying them.  Even if I didn't participate in things like Blogiesta I'd read posts to see what people were doing to their blogs and do it too.  A few weeks ago I found this hop and added it to my blog. Most of my changes over the years can be credited to things like that--I'd see it, I'd like it and I'd try to do it too.  It was through other bloggers (too many to name, names long forgotten) that I've learned about review copies and the sources thereof, various memes and blog hops, how to write reviews, how to add things to my sidebars, how to make money from Amazon (ok not too much of that) and just about everything beyond the basic blogger template.  

Head on over to Coffee Addicted Writer to see how other folks responded.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Seven Quick Takes: A Trip Down Memory Lane

As my daughter gets ready to go off to college this weekend, I'm taking a trip down Memory Lane.  When I was pregnant with her I was concerned about how her brother would handle having a sibling, since he was so attached to me and has always hated changes in routine.  Luckily, my worries were in vain.

First haircut time.  She was the only one of my children who had hair as a baby and she needed a haircut when she was a little over a year old.

We enjoyed a vacation in Gatlinberg with friends one year.

She sure was cute when she started school.  Her brother had a rough time of it a few years earlier.  When we pulled up to school for her first day she said "Come on Mom, let's go!"  Mom wasn't moving fast enough and there was adventure to be had.

Kindergarten graduation.  I loved that school!

Second grade meant First Communion.  The First Communicants were seated together with the short kids in the front.  She was short, but not as short as this little girl, who needed a little help to get where she was supposed to be when she was supposed to be there.  My daughter was asked to help her and her family was appreciative.
For about three years she and her brother took Karate lessons and learned to break boards.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Review: Big Sky Wedding

About the Book:
Wedding bells are ringing in Parable, Montana, but Brylee Parrish hasn't enjoyed the sound since being jilted at the altar by Hutch Carmody. She's over Hutch now, and running a multimillion-dollar business is challenging enough for this country gal. So she should avoid falling head over boot heels for A-list actor Zane Sutton. He's come home to his rodeo roots, but Hollywood lured him away once and just might again. Yet everything about him, from his easy charm to his concern for his young half brother, seems too genuine to resist…. 

Zane didn't come to Parable for love—but count on a spirited woman to change a jaded cowboy's mind. Problem is, Brylee's not convinced he's here to stay. Good thing he's determined to prove to her, kiss by kiss, that she's meant to be his bride.

My Comments:
There are certain authors whose books I grab as soon as I see them on NetGalley.  Linda Lael Miller is one of those like.  Like the other Big Sky books, this one is set in a small Montana town.  The cast of characters includes old friends like Brylee Parrish and her brother Walker and new friends like Zane and his family.  Like Miller's other books it is a pretty basic romance without a substantial subplot, though some of the secondary characters like Zane's half brother do add a little depth.  Comic relief in this book is added by Cleo, Zane's somewhat colorful housekeeper.

Both Zane and Brylee are skittish about a relationship; however things get physical in a hurry.  The scenes are hot but but the descriptions are more flowery than anatomic.  Interestingly, Zane decides that things got too physical too fast and that they should abstain until marriage, so for six months they were at least somewhat chaste.  

What can I say?  This is no literary classic; yet it is exactly what I expected when I picked it up, which I was eager to do.  I'll give it a B and recommend it if you like this kind of book.  

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Quick Review: Last Chance Summer

About the Book:
It wouldn't be summer without the Watermelon Festival, and single mom Amanda Wright is looking forward to a carefree day eating funnel cakes and sipping sweet tea. But with her inquisitive son and elderly grandmother in tow, she's not in the mood for carnival rides or the kissing booth, until she hears a charming, funny voice over the loudspeaker. 

Grant Trumbull is the new DJ at the local radio station, and his deep, booming cadence has all the ladies of the church auxillary atwitter. Even without seeing his face, Amanda can't help but wonder if he's the one for her. When she finally comes face to face with the man behind the mic, summer is about to get a whole lot hotter in little Last Chance, South Carolina.

My Comments:
If you are looking for a quick,cute cheap read for your Kindle, this may be right up your alley.  It is a short story, not a full-length novel and it is a clean read.  Actually, I'm hoping there will be a book with these characters as things were left hanging.  Grade:  B-

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Review: On Distant Shores

About the Book:
Lt. Georgiana Taylor has everything she could want. A comfortable boyfriend back home, a loving family, and a challenging job as a flight nurse. But in July 1943, Georgie's cozy life gets decidedly more complicated when she meets pharmacist Sgt. John Hutchinson. Hutch resents the lack of respect he gets as a noncommissioned serviceman and hates how the war keeps him from his fiancée. While Georgie and Hutch share a love of the starry night skies over Sicily, their lives back home are falling apart. Can they weather the hurt and betrayal? Or will the pressures of war destroy the fragile connection they've made?

With her signature attention to detail and her talent for bringing characters together, Sarah Sundin pens another exciting tale in her series featuring WWII flight nurses. Fans new and old will find in On Distant Shores the perfect combination of emotion, action, and romance.

My Comments:
Since I really liked Sarah Sundin's trilogy about WWII pilots, I had hoped that my disappointment with the first book in this series as an aberration; unfortunately, it was not. I guess I have a different image of flight nurses than Sarah Sundin.    Her heroine is Georgiana Taylor.   While I believe these ladies were the cream of the crop; the nurses Sundin write about were anything but.  In the first book, Mellie was socially inept way beyond the point of shyness.  In this book Georgianna is a ninny.  She is an incompetent nurse who has followed her best friend everywhere.  She can't compute drug dosages and can't figure out how to treat shock when the patient's bed isn't movable.  The hero, Hutch, has a chip on his shoulder because other degreed medical professionals are officers but pharmacists are not.  The other officers in the story are bullies, not leaders.  They address Hutch as "boy".  Really?  

On the other hand, judging by what I've seen on Goodreads and Amazon, my opinion is in the  minority.  Sundin does a good job of describing life for GIs in Sicily during WWII.  Promoting Christianity is definitely part of Sundin's aim.  

I'd like to thank the folks at Litfuse for making a review copy available.  I guess there will be a third book about Georgie's best friend, but I'll pass.  DNF. 
Sarah Sundin is celebrating the release of her latest novel, On Distant Shores, with a Romantic Weekend Getaway giveaway!

  One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A $200 Visa Cash Card (good for a perfect couple's getaway)
  • With Every Letter and On Distant Shores by Sarah Sundin
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on September 2nd. Winner will be announced September 3rd at the "On Distant Shores" Author Chat Party on Facebook. During the party Sarah will be hosting a book chat, testing your trivia skills, announcing the winner of the Weekend Getaway, and giving away a ton of books, gift certificates, and more. Oh, and she'll also be giving party goers an exclusive look at the next book in the Wings of the Nightingale series.

So grab your copy of On Distant Shores and join Sarah on the evening of September 3rd for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven’t read the book, don’t let that stop you from coming!)


Blog Tour and Review: The Candle Classic Bible

About the Book:
A Bible story for every day—365 of the best-loved Bible stories fully illustrated in a classic style will become favorites for children and parents alike, with each story divided into easy-to-read sections with the day, heading, and Scripture reference. Children are encouraged to spend family time together reading a new story each day.

Old Testament: From the Story of Creation to Isaac, from Joseph to Ruth, from Job to David, from Elisha to the Prophets.

New Testament: From John the Baptist to the story of Jesus, to the story of the Apostles, to John’s Vision of Heaven.

Unique Selling Points

• Strong traditional art style

• Ideal gift for the older child

• Encourages Bible reading every day

My Comments:
As a Catholic, when I look at a non-Catholic children's Bible story book I want to know two things: 1) does it teach anything I consider false and 2) does it contain what I consider to be the important stories.  The Candle Classic Bible basically just retells the stories; there is no "and the lesson we should learn from this is..." thus I did not find anything I considered to be false.  Regarding the stories told, I usually look for the wedding at Cana, to see if Mary is mentioned, and she was; Peter's affirmation of faith and being given the keys to the kingdom-- the story is told but the keys to the kingdom was skipped and the last supper/institution of the Eucharist, which was there.  

As noted in the description, there are 365 stories from both the Old and New Testaments.  A Scripture citation is given for each one.  The stories themselves are just a few paragraphs long--shorter than the average bedtime story.  This isn't a particular translation of the Bible, it is a retelling of the stories.  

It is a pretty book on nice glossy paper with color illustrations on each two-page spread.  It comes with a ribbon bookmark in the binding.  I think it is a good Bible for the "tween" years, about 9-12 when they are too old for many children's Bibles but overwhelmed by the size and small print in real Bibles.  

I'd like the thank the publisher for providing a review copy.  Grade:  B+

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