Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Mistress of Tall Acre - A Review

Published - September 2015, Revell Books
Author - Laura Frantz
Title - Mistress of Tall Acre
Format - ebook, paper
Find on Amazon 

Summary (from Amazon): The American Revolution is finally over, and Sophie Menzies is starved for good news. When her nearest neighbor, General Seamus Ogilvy, finally comes home to Tall Acre, she hopes it is a sign of better days to come. But the general is now a widower with a small daughter in desperate need of a mother. Nearly destitute, Sophie agrees to marry Seamus and become the mistress of Tall Acre in what seems a safe, sensible arrangement. But when a woman from the general's past returns without warning, the ties that bind this fledgling family together will be strained to the utmost. When all is said and done, who will be the rightful mistress of Tall Acre?

My Thoughts: I have loved every single one of Laura's books I've read and this one was no exception. It was very easy to be drawn into Sophie's world. She may be the daughter of the midwife, but because of her father's Tory leanings, she has been ostracized. Yet the moment that she meets Lily-Cate, my heart melted. Both for Sophie and for the little girl. And Seamus wasn't sure how to manage the females in his life. But he does. It takes him some time though.

There is so much that happens to help both Sophie and Seamus grow. My heart broke for them at times. But their faith remains strong though it is sorely tested. And when the book ends, I had a silly grin across my face because I was thrilled. 

I really hope that this one is the first in a series because I didn't want to say goodbye to these characters!

I received this book for free from Revell for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of drama, Laura Frantz, Jody Hedlund, Francine Rivers

Rating - 5 stars 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Last Chance Hero - A Review

Published - September 2015, Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group
Series - A Place to Call Home Book 4
Author - Cathleen Armstrong
Title - Last Chance Hero
Format - ebook, paper
Find on Amazon

Dr. Jessica McLeod is excited about starting up her new practice in the small town of Last Chance, New Mexico. There's one problem. The townspeople are reluctant to switch doctors even though they are thrilled that Last Chance finally has its own doctor. Jess longs to get involved in the community. Her best option to do so is to attend the high school football games. Jess knows absolutely nothing about football and doesn't understand the way that EVERYONE in the town seems to live and breathe football. To complicate matters, Jess finds herself drawn to the new football coach, Andy Ryan. Andy's the town's golden boy. He was on the football team during the town's Glory Days and went on to play in the NFL. Now that he's back, the town expects a return of the Glory Days. Andy tries to tell people that this is a different time, different team, but the expectations are very high. As he gets to know Jessica, he discovers that she's the only person in the town who doesn't care about the Glory Days. Yet when they clash over the treatment of an injured player, will their friendship survive?

I've read all of the others in this series and enjoyed them. This one didn't have the same feel to it. For starters, it is classified as a romance, but I didn't really pick up on the romance. Truthfully, I thought that Andy and Jessica's friendship was in fact opening doors to their romance. But I wouldn't go so far to classify this as a romance. It's a sweet story, and I did read it quickly. This one also left a lot of issues unresolved. I also found that it ended rather abruptly.

It was fun to reconnect with some of the other characters from the Last Chance books. But I wish that there had been more to the development of Andy & Jess's romance. Maybe that'll come more to play in the next book. I don't know.

I'll admit that I'm not a football fan. My knowledge is slightly more than that of Jess's. So her trying to understand why everyone seemed to live and breathe football made sense to me. I got that. And I understand that she was willing to make an attempt. I liked that about her. I didn't really like the fact that Jess would use her status as a doctor to ensure that football related activities did not take one of her patient's focus off of his grades. I loved Andy's conversation with Jess after that. He made her think about the student and was she really acting in the kid's best interest.

There were a lot of things I wish had been developed more or even resolved. Andy and his father's relationship had potential. Jess's faith journey. Her suspicions of  one of her patients. These are just to name a few.

Don't get me wrong. I liked the book. I didn't love it. It's just ok. It didn't have as much depth as I'd hoped. But it was enjoyable.

I received this book for free from Revell for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of Friday Night Lights, football, contemporary fiction

Rating - 3 stars

Monday, September 28, 2015

Chivalrous - A Review

Published - September 2015, Bethany House Publishers
Series - Valiant Hearts Book 2
Author - Dina L. Sleiman
Title - Chivalrous
Format - ebook, paper
Find on Amazon

Allen of Ellsworth has grown more than just in height over the last year. He's been training as a squire and dreams of being a knight. When his dream is granted, he is thrilled to be able to seek his fortune as a knight in the dukedom of North Britannia where justice prevails. Yet once he arrives in the dukedom, Allen discovers that the ideals that the duke promotes are not held in high esteem by all of the nobles. Lady Gwendolyn Barnes has on numerous occasions defied her father and trained in combat with her brothers. She longs for a chance to be a knight. Yet because of her gender, she finds herself regarded as something to be bartered for. The man her father wants her to marry is a cruel brute. When a tournament held on the lands of the duke comes up, Gwendolyn seizes the opportunity to don her armor and fight in what may be her last chance of freedom. As both Allen and Gwendolyn meet and get to know one another, they find that their hearts are drawn towards each other. But a future between them seems impossible. Will this idyllic dukedom provide Allen with the place of belonging that he longs for? And when circumstances are questioned, is there any way for Gwendolyn to find the happiness and freedom she longs for?

What a delight it was to return to the world of Allen of Ellsworth. I grew attached to him in Dauntless and was thrilled that he got his own story. This book has the elements of King Arthur's court. There is chivalry, romance, kidnappings, and of course treason. At times, I felt that I was reading a version of the popular movie The Knight's Tale.

I loved both Allen and Gwen. They both grow and change in the book. My heart broke at one point when Allen had to make a specific decision. But I still loved them.

While I'll admit that this one took me longer than usual to read, but once I finally started it, I was glad to read it. It's a great story. I'm hoping that there will be more to come with both the characters from this one and the first one.

I received this book for free from Bethany House Books for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of Robin Hood, King Arthur, Camelot, knights, ladies, Knight's Tale, young adult fiction

Rating - 4 stars

Friday, September 25, 2015

Secrets She Kept - A Review

Published - August 2015, Tyndale House Publishers
Author - Cathy Gohlke
Title - Secrets She Kept
Format - ebook, paper, audio
Find on Amazon

After her mother's death, Hannah Sterling wishes that they could have been closer. All of her life, Hannah felt that Lieselotte did not love her and was incapable of love. When she overhears a conversation between her aunt and a family friend, Hannah is determined to find the answers that will unlock Lieselotte's past and possible provide closure for Hannah. One startling discovery is that Hannah has a grandfather living in Germany. To discover all she can about her mother, Hannah travels to Germany. There she discovers that thirty years before, Lieselotte's father was quickly ascending the ranks of the Nazi Party and that he wanted an advantageous marriage for his daughter - not Lukas, the boy Lieselotte has loved for years. Lieselotte had no idea how far exactly her father would go to ensure her cooperation, and his actions lead to a rift that Hannah has no hope of bridging. Hannah's grandfather is also hiding wartime secrets. His secrets force Hannah to reevaluate all she knows about her mother and to figure out how she can atone for her family's tragic past as well as use the information to shape her future.

Every since I read Promise Me This, I've discovered that Cathy's books are very gripping. They have a tendency to hold me captive and not let me go. This one was no exception.

Set both in WWII and the 1970's, I was captivated. I had an idea as to where Lieselotte's story was going and I wasn't surprised to discover that I was right. Hannah's story on the other hand, I had no idea in what direction her story would go. I loved the WWII portion better than the other. But overall, it was a good book.

Both Hannah and Lieselotte are deep characters. Yet what I really loved is how Hannah's attitude changed toward her mother as she learned exactly what happened. For a while, it seemed that every character in the book had a secret. And some of those secrets were huge. But the way things resolve after they came to light, made wading through the secrets worth it.

I received this book for free from Tyndale for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of Laura Frantz, WWII, Brock & Bodie Thoene, Kristy Cambron

Rating - 4 stars

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Falling Like Snowflakes - A Review

Published - September 2015, Thomas Nelson Books
Series - Summer Harbor Book 1
Author - Denise Hunter
Title - Falling Like Snowflakes
Format - ebook, paper
Find on Amazon

On the run from those who are supposed to protect her, Eden Martelli is trying to reach rural Maine. Her young son is dozing in the backseat when her car breaks down in Summer Harbor. After the unfortunate loss of all of her funds, Eden is literally stranded. She has no choice but to remain in Summer Harbor for the foreseeable future. With the holidays approaching, Eden knows she must find work, any kind of work, that will keep her son and herself from sleeping on a park bench in the cold fall temperatures. Beau Callahan is a former sheriff's deputy who is working full time on the family's Christmas tree farm after the death of his parents. When his very independent aunt suffers a fall that will require someone to stay with her to ensure that she won't overdo, Beau doesn't know what to do. He discovers a solution to the problem when Eden shows up looking for work at the same time that his aunt is released from the hospital - Eden gets a place to stay and a job while his aunt gets the help she needs. But his years in law enforcement have him sensing that Eden, or "Kate" as she calls herself, is hiding something. Love is the last thing Eden wants. Yet she finds herself being drawn into the Callahan family and fiercely attracted to Beau. But will her past ruin any chances that they may have together?

I think that I've loved just about every single one of Denise Hunter's books that I've read. This one was no exception. It's fun, sweet, and full of endearing characters. It was a perfect mix of pure fluff along with great storytelling.

I found that Eden's character was stronger than she first appears. I had suspicions about why she was on the run, and some of them proved to be right. Beau was a character I didn't really connect with. I'm not sure why. I liked him. But I don't know. I just didn't connect with him like I have with other characters in the past. Of all of the characters, my favorite was his aunt. She was delightful and spunky and I just adored her. I do look forward to seeing more of both her and Beau and Eden in the next books in the series. I'm also looking forward to reading the stories of the other Callahan brothers.

I received this book for free from the Booklook Blogger Program for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of romantic comedy, Janice Thompson, Denise Hunter, Becky Wade, Melissa Tagg

Rating - 4 stars

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Luther & Katharnia - A Review

Published - October 2015, Waterbrook/Multnomah
Author - Jody Hedlund
Title - Luther & Katharina
Format - ebook, paper
Find on Amazon

Martin Luther is the leader in the movement to reform the church. He is known as a heretic by many. Yet his teachings have touched the hearts of several nuns, among them Katharina von Bora. Since she was five years old, Katharina has lived a secluded life in the abbey. When she escapes with several other nuns, they soon find refuge with Martin Luther. All Katharina wants is for Luther to arrange her marriage to a nobleman. Luther fully understands that with tensions rising, he should never take a wife. After all, there have already been several attempts on his life. Yet as much as he tries to deny it, Katharina's fiery nature and her intelligence draw him like a moth to a flame. Will they both discover that perhaps a penniless monk and a noble nun can find happiness and love together?

Jody Hedlund is by far one of my favorite authors. While her other books have been historical, this particular one is very different. You see, in her others, she may base them on the lives of historical people, but changes the names. In this one, no names are changed.

I'll admit I know who Martin Luther was. I don't know much about his life, but I do know who he was. What I didn't know was all that went on in this time period. There really is so much going on that I was shocked. There are also some customs that were normal then that I was like what?!

I loved the romance between Luther and Katharina. I loved how neither one wanted it and that it kinda snuck up on them. I also loved how great they were together. The betrothal ceremony and the need for witnesses did not make sense to my modern mind. But a recent blog post I read by Jody explains that custom in a whole lot more detail.

This book really is packed full with adventure, mystery, romance, and grace. It's unlike any of her others, but it is still wonderful. It probably took me a day or two to read (yes I put everything else down).

I recommend this anyone who loves history, love historical romance, loves church history.

I received this book for free from the author to help promote. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of Laura Frantz, Jody Hedlund, Kristy Cambron

Rating - 4 stars

*Note - this review will appear on Amazon once the book has been released, which is October 6, 2015.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Books on my fall TBR list

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke & the Bookish

With fall coming, it is a good idea to maybe, perhaps, (probably not) streamline that mountain of books to read. Today's topic is specifically the top ten on my fall to be read list. Well my list is so long, that I just decided to focus on the ones I hope to read this fall.

1. Winter by Marissa Meyer - This is the conclusion of Lunar Chronicles. It comes out in November.
2. The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan - Book 1 in the Mangus Chase and the gods of Asgard Series. Comes out in October.
3. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince - I'm buddy reading the series with a friend who hasn't read them yet. Maybe we'll get to book 6 this fall.
4. Chivalrous by Dina Sleiman - I need to have the review up this month, so this one is on my to read very soon list.
5. Mistress of Tall Acre by Laura Frantz - Another review title that needs to be read this month. I think I'll start it tomorrow.
6. Mistletoe Kiss by Janet Lee Barton - It came in the mail the other day. I'll probably have it read by the end of the week as it's fluff.
7. Bachelor's Homecoming by Karen Kirst - It arrived in the same shipment as Mistletoe Kiss. It'll be read soon.
8. Fire & Ice by Mary Connealy - I cannot wait to read this one! It's due out next month I believe.
9. The Courting of Morrow Little by Laura Frantz - I'm reading this one as part of the Hidden Gems in one of the Goodreads groups I'm in. I've not started it yet as I'm in a mood to not think.
10. Donovan's Daughter by Lori Wick - My all time favorite Lori Wick book. I'm in the mood to reread it, so I'll probably get to it this fall.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Saturday Scribbles Vol 28

Happy Saturday everyone! Can you believe that we're almost at the end of September? Me neither.

So I discovered something on Wednesday evening/Thursday. I'm very technology dependent. You see, my phone completely died on Wednesday evening. I was in the middle of playing a game, while it was charging of course, and my screen went totally black. The soft keys at the bottom were still lit, so I tried pressing them. Nothing. I tried the power button. Nothing. I checked to make sure that my charger was plugged in, It was. So absolutely nothing worked on the phone. Thankfully I still a regular alarm clock (not a furry one either), so I wasn't dependent on the phone to wake me up the next day. So on Thursday, I plugged it in while driving to work. Still nothing. I kept it plugged in while at work. Still nothing. You see, I don't wear a watch, and the phone is my "watch." I was really glad that the classroom I was working in on Thursday had clocks. I mean I was teaching an Excel class, so even if there wasn't a clock on the wall in the room, there were the clocks on the computers.

I'd sent an email to those people who typically will either call or text me at some point during the day. And I'd updated my Facebook status saying not to call me. I could check my email. I mean there was a computer around after all. And I will typically check my email during lunch anyway.

So my day went on. I found myself at a bit of a quandary. I'd not realized how dependent I had become on this piece of technology. On my way home, I tried one last time to plug in the phone. This time it said "charging." Then I saw that it said "no sim card." So I get home. I open the side of the phone where the memory card was at. I'd already attempted that on Wednesday night, so I wasn't too hopeful anything would work. I took out the card and gently cleaned it (there are tools that can clean computer parts like a can of air). I loaded it back in, and then set it in the charger. I noticed that it appeared to be working. I left it in my charger and headed to my friend's house. After all it was Thursday. And we were planning on watching the new live action version of Cinderella that came out on dvd this week. ~Side note - Excellent movie. Probably my 2nd favorite live version of a Cinderella story, after Ever After. Rent it and watch it.~  Anyway, I got home last night and saw the phone was fully charged and was working.

It kept working just fine all day yesterday too. So I'm hopeful that I extended the life a little longer. It's only 3 years old, but it is a smart phone. Which means it's old by technology standards. I'm eligible for an upgrade, but I like the one I've got. I don't want to upgrade and have to figure out all the idiosyncrasies of a new phone.

So I either need to figure out a way to not be as technology dependent. Or I need to invest in a watch. Hmmm. I'll have to think about that a little more.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Mamarazzi - A Review

Published - September 2015, Prism Book Group
Author - Brooke Williams
Title - Mamarazzi
Format - ebook, paper
Find on Amazon

Danica Bennett has a secret. A big one. One that could either hurt her fledgling photography career or help it soar. She takes pictures of the stars. And not just the official pictures. She's a member of the paparazzi and her pictures have hurt quite a few of the stars. Only her agent knows her true identity as all of her work is signed with a lip print and her nickname in the press is the "Mamarazzi." When Danica is mistaken for an extra on the set of the upcoming new comedy "Cousins", she hopes that she can snag a few pictures from behind the scenes. Then the unthinkable happens. She's noticed by one of the stars and their chemistry is literally shooting off sparks. Enough sparks that she ends up with a recurring role on the show. As she gets to know the cast and the crew, particularly one of the lead actors Eliot Lane, Danica hopes that she will be able to put aside her Mamarazzi persona for good. Yet like all secrets, they have a way of coming to light at the worst possible moment. When hers comes to light, will Hollywood forgive her? And will her relationship with the man she's fallen in love with hold up or crumble?

Months ago, the author emailed me to ask me if I would be interested in reading & reviewing her new release. I'd enjoyed the other book I'd read by her, and was thrilled to say yes.

This would probably be best classified as a romantic comedy. There are certainly some funny scenes. It is also VERY clean. I wouldn't go so far as to classify it as a Christian romance, but for those people who like clean romances, this is for them. And when I say clean, I mean there is no bad language, violence, or sex scenes. The romance is limited to kissing and that's it. So very clean.

Anyway, back to the book review. I enjoyed watching Danica grow. As she started to get more and more legitimate photography exposure, her need to sell to the tabloids grew less and less. She faces a turning point in the novel and I admire her decision. I also loved Lane. He's such a sweetheart with her. I loved how he helps her out while he falls in love with her.

Overall, it was a cute book. I'd like to know what happens to the TV show as well as Danica and Lane beyond what is listed in the epilogue.

I received the Kindle copy for free from the author for the purpose of reviewing .My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Rating - 4 stars

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday - Freebie

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly  feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

This week it's a freebie. So I got to thinking. I'm currently rewatching NCIS seasons and thought I could easily come up with a top ten of my favorite episodes. But then there were 4 favorites in Season 2 alone. So I decided to go with something else.

I'm sticking with the TV shows though. Since most TV shows start new seasons next week, I decided to go with the top ten shows I'm excited about watching.

1. NCIS - totally and completely no brainer, especialy in light of my comments above.
2. Amazing Race - I love this show. It's so much fun.
3. NCIS LA - Another great one. I love the relationships.
4. NCIS New Orleans - this one came on the scene last year. And I'm hooked.
5. Scorpion - I'm sensing a trend here. CBS. Still this one was WAY better than I expected.
6. Big Bang Theory - I enjoy the repeats of this comedy. Because the jokes are actually smart.
7. Agents of SHIELD - yeah I know. I'm late to the game on this one. But I loved Season 1. I need Season 2 to show up at the library so that I can binge watch it.
8. Supergirl (new) - It's one of the few new shows that might have potential for me. She's Superman's cousin.
9. Survivor - I don't watch every season. Especially since it's on Wednesday nights. But the cast of this one has a few of my favorite players in it. So I'm looking forward to it.
10. Limitless - this one looks interesting. I might give it a shot.

Ok, so I admit that I watch CBS and that's about it. Will I actually watch all of these? Probably not, but I can guarantee being hooked on the first five.

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Columbus Code - A Review

Published - September 2015, Worthy Publishers
Author - Mike Evans
Title - The Columbus Code
Format - hardcover
Find on Amazon

Secret Service Agent John Winters is on leave from his job. He was on a raid that went bad and he's suffering from a form of PTSD. When his mother dies, she asks him to promise to follow through on her research. He thinks it's crazy, after all how could his family be a direct descendant from Christopher Columbus. But he's got nothing better to do. To complicate matters, John's daughter Maria is in Spain working as part of a team of lawyers overseeing a merger. John's research leads him to Spain. Maria discovers that there is more going on with the merger than it appears. Soon both of them are running for their lives. Can they figure out how the puzzle connects before it costs them their lives?

I wasn't sure what to expect when I requested this one. I discovered a book that led me on a tale of intrigue, adventure, and suspense that I literally could not put down. This isn't my normal style to read, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The clues to the puzzle were captivating. I wanted to know how the various storylines would merge together. This book reminded me a lot of the Davinci Code. At least with the thrill of the chase. I recommend it to fans of thrillers and adventure.

I received a pdf version of this book for free from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of Dan Brown, thrillers, action novels.

Rating - 4 stars

Friday, September 11, 2015

A little different than normal

I was watching the news this morning before I left for work. I wanted to know about the traffic and the weather. Guess what, it's raining. People in Houston forget how to drive when it rains. The news reminded me of what day it is today. And what went on 14 years ago. I shared this video years ago, but it's still appropriate today.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

A Sparrow in Terezin - A Review

Published - April 2015, Thomas Nelson Books
Series - A Hidden Masterpiece Novel Book 2
Author - Kristy Cambron
Title - A Sparrow in Terezin
Format - ebook, paper
Find on Amazon

Sera James and William Hanover are back. They've discovered the identity of the girl in the painting and William has made decisions about his inheritance. They've also fallen in love and are planning their wedding. Because of the decisions that William made regarding his inheritance, their planned for wedding becomes a wedding occurring right before William is hauled off to jail. He is facing serious charges and Sera will do anything in her power to clear the man she loves. She will fight for her family. Her search for anything to help clear his name takes her to London and a meeting with William's estranged father. Yet Sera's search also brings her back to the days of war torn Europe. What happened to the child Adele and Vladimir tried to save? It is a piece of Sophie's (the child who Adele saved) story that leads Sera to a Czech woman, Kaja Makovsky, living in London during the Blitz. Kaja's journey begins in Prauge. It's not an easy one. She's got to sacrifice all that she holds dear in order to bring hope to the children. Yet through it all, Kaja learns to cling to her faith and discovers that it her faith that will see her through the darkest of times. That's a lesson that Sera has to learn as well.

I absolutely loved Butterfly and the Violin. This book needs to be read after that one. In the first book, the historical story was what captivated me. In this one, it's the modern story that truly held my attention. The war time story is hauntingly beautiful, but I wasn't quite as captivated by Kaja's story as I was of that of Adele's.

Yet, I loved the love that both Sera and William had for each other. I loved watching them grow from the first book. My heart did break at times for them. But it also broke for Kaja, Sophie, and the others in the Terezin camp. There is a scene where a daring rescue takes place, and that scene alone wrenched my heart out.

If you've yet to read Kristy Cambron's novels, I highly recommend them. I have a feeling that her books will move up my list of must-buy books.

I read this book for pure pleasure.

Recommended to fans of WWII, Brock & Bodie Thoene, Francine Rivers, Jody Hedlund, Laura Frantz, Sarah Sundin

Rating - 5 stars

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Finished Series I have yet to finsih

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

I like series. I love to read a book and know that there is more to the story. I get to keep living in that book world longer. Only, sometimes I just don't finish the series. And that's what today's Top Ten is all about.

So I've listed ones that I know are finished, and a couple that are probably not that I've given up on.

1. House of Winslow series by Gilbert Morris. There are probably at last 40 or more books in this series. I stopped reading them around book 20.

2. The Song of Ice and Fire series (Game of Thrones) by George R R Martin. Yes I know the series isn't finished yet. But I stopped reading after Feast for Crows (book 4) and have yet to pick up Dance with Dragons (book 5). He was taking too long between books. Besides the TV show has now caught up to where he is in the books and he still hasn't written book 6!

3. Divergent series by Veronica Roth. I really don't have any interest reading beyond book 1.

4. Legend series by Marie Lu. I listened to the first book on audio. The storyline was pretty awful. I have no intention of reading more.

5. Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. I've read a few. They're cute. Maybe someday.

6. Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. It's a good thing that these books pretty much stand alone. I've read quite a few but certainly not all of them.

7. Sweet Valley High by Francine Pascall. I read these, mostly, in junior high. Then the writing got pretty bad. So I stopped.

8. Babysitter's Club by Ann M. Martin. These are fun childhood memories, but I think I stopped around book 25.

9. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. Anne is one of my favorite heroines. But I stopped reading after she and Gil finally got together. I think I've got book 8 left to read.

10. Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. He might still be writing these. After reading Elantris and the last few of Wheel of Time, I wanted to read something else Sanderson has written. I read the first one. Then I wasn't in the mood for that genre. Maybe someday.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Saturday Scribbles Vol 27

Yes, I'm very much aware that I haven't had a Saturday Scribbles for the past two weeks. I've had emails and texts asking about it. All I can do is apologize. I really don't have an excuse other than not having anything ready.

So summer's over. But Blue Bell ice cream is back. This will probably be the summer that people in Texas refer to as "the Blue Bell drought of 2015." Why the fuss over ice cream, you may ask? Well you see, in Texas, Blue Bell is THE ice cream. Sure the stores sell other brands, but Blue Bell is, in my opinion, the best there is.

Now my favorite kind (mint chocolate chip) isn't back in stores yet, but I plan on picking up some yummy Dutch chocolate over the weekend. I've given it a week to be back so hopefully the grocery store will have a ready supply.

The main Blue Bell plant is located in the heart of Texas's hill country. It's in a little town called Brenham, which is about an hour and a half North West of Houston. The plant is so much fun to tour.

I remember the first time I got to tour the plant. I was as summer camp. I think that was the year that the dining hall burned down (Gwen, were you there that year?) and the staff had to figure out something to do with us every day while the kitchen staff headed to the grocery store. You see that happened early in the week, like on Monday or Tuesday, and camp didn't end til Saturday. So one day we were at Washington-on-the
-Brazos. Another day we were skating. Another day, we were somewhere else. And one day, we all went to the Blue Bell Creamery. We got to tour the place, visit the little country store that is part of the Creamery, and of course end the tour with a scoop of ice cream. I can't remember what flavor I had. Probably chocolate. But it was a lot of fun.

A few years ago, my cousin and I did a day trip up there. We toured the plant again. This time, I sampled Krazy Kookie Dough. It was a cake batter ice cream with icing chunks and a sugar cookie flavor. I've got say that the creamery has changed a lot over the years. I mean it was still in the same basic building, but the tour changed. I actually remember enjoying the history behind the creamery this time around. Maybe going as an adult meant I could actually understand what was going on better than just anticipating the big scoop of ice cream at the end.

So in Texas, there really isn't any other kind of ice cream. Some of my coworkers don't understand that. The conversations going around the cubicles all week have been talking about Blue Bell. It's been rather funny to hear someone say "I don't under stand what the big deal about Blue Bell is. Isn't that just another brand of ice cream?" Some of my coworke
rs would get pretty defensive. Me, I just laughed. Because they didn't grow up here, obviously.

What about you? What is your favorite type of ice cream? Flavor and brand?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Butterfly and the Violin - A Review

Published - July 2014,  Thomas Nelson Publishers
Series - Hidden Masterpieces Book 1
Author - Kristy Cambron
Title - The Butterfly and the Violin
Format - ebook, paper
Find on Amazon

Sera James has been looking for the painting of the woman she glimpsed as a child for years. Her search to find the painting and to identify the woman in it has taken her to discover Holocaust Art. As she delves more and more into the painting's story, Sera's search leads her to William Hanover, the heir to the massive Hanover estate. Sera and William join forces to find the owner of the painting for different reasons - Sera to discover the story and William to present the owner with court documents contesting the ownership. Yet there's so much to the story than either of them can even begin to imagine. As they delve into the mystery of the painting, they find themselves swept away into the story of Adele von Bron, an Austrian violinist who risked everything to save one Jewish family. Adele is the sweetheart of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in 1942. Her father is a high ranking official in the Third Reich. Yet one evening changes her life forever, and she's forced to question all that she's been taught to believe. Can her violin save her life deep in a Nazi death camp? And can Sera find the answers she so desperately seeks while fighting her attraction to William?

This book has been on my reading list for ages. Literally. The cover and the title intrigued me. I'd not read the book description. And it kept being recommended to me by friends. So when I finally managed to bump this up my to read list and delve into it, I was thrilled.

There are two stories going on here. There is the modern one with Sera and William. Then there's the WWII one of Adele. While I enjoyed both, Adele's story truly fascinated me. Here is this girl who isn't Jewish and appears to have it all going for her. Yet she defies her father to assist the man she loves. She pays a great price for that later too. I loved getting a different look at history. Adele's life is one of survival. She is forced to play her violin at Auschwitz as others are marched to their deaths. Does the experience change her? Yes it does! But it's also a touching story.

Sera and William's  relationship is sweet to see develop. But they both learn how to trust. And I love what happens once they actually find the owner of the painting.

This book was beautifully written. I loved how the author was able to tell two stories in one and it didn't feel choppy or disconnected. They flowed seamlessly together.

I really did love this book. It's different than most WWII books I've read. It's even different than most contemporary books I've read. Sure there's romance in it. But the story itself was pretty awesome.

I read this book for pure pleasure.

Recommended to fans of WWII fiction, Brock & Bodie Thoene, Laura Frantz, Jody Hedlund, Kate Breslin, Cathy Gohlke

Rating - 5 stars

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Special Post

I don't usually post twice in one day. But I had to today.

I mentioned a while back that I was working with the girls at Fiction Hero Features to write a post on Ryan Chambers, hero of Jody Hedlund's book, Hearts Made Whole. Well anyway, the post is up now. I'm excited. So feel free to click on the link and go visit.

Fiction Hero Features

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Characters I Didn't Connect With

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke & The Bookish

Happy Tuesday everyone. Today's Top Ten is once again about characters. Only this time, the characters are those that I didn't really connect with. Here they are in no particular order.

1. Peeta Melark from the Hunger Games - I've read the books. I've seen the movies. And I still don't connect with him too well.

2. Bella Swan from the Twilight series - I'm not sure if I've ever met a more flat character than Bella. I wasn't impressed at all with her.

3. Edward Cullen from the Twilight series - The vampire that Bella falls in love with. The other members of his family are so much more interesting. I really couldn't understand what was his appeal.

4. Cosette from Les Miserables - While this is by far one of my favorite movies/musicals (Amanda Seyfried is one of my favorite actresses), I've read the book too. I get the fact that she's the child who goes from nothing to having everything. I understand that. But she doesn't seem to have much depth to her. Sure, she's been sheltered, but there should still be more to her. I understand she's somewhat
minor, after all the book/films are about Jean Val Jean.

5. Julia Elliston from the Price of Privilege Series by Jessica Dotta - She's the narrator of the series, but I didn't connect with her in the first book and as a result haven't read the others.

6. Jane Eyre & Mr. Rochester - I never really understood them when I read the book in junior high. Now that I'm an adult, I still don't get them.

7. Josh Jones from the Seasons of the Heart Series by Janette Oke - I've read all of her books. And this character is the one I just don't connect with at all. As a result, this series is probably my least favorite of hers.

8. Carter and Sadie Kane from the Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan - After loving the Percy Jackson books, I was excited to read the Kane Chronicles. Especially since I love the Stargate Series which is based very strongly in Egyptian Mythology. But unlike Percy and the other demigod, these two magicians, I didn't connect with. I remained pretty confused as I read the books. Maybe I should try again.

9. Arthur Dent from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - I read these books at a time when that was almost all I was reading. But looking back now, I have to wonder, what I ever enjoyed about them? Sure, they're rather humorous, but I can't remember why I even liked Arthur to begin with, so he made my list today.

10. Bree (the Talking Horse) from The Horse and His Boy, Chronicles of Narnia - I've grown up reading the Chronicles of Narnia. Over and over and over again. Yet for some reason, The Horse and His Boy is one I just skip. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that I really don't like Bree, the horse. I find him to be a bit arrogant and condensing.