Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I'm moving the blog to wordpress, not because I dislike blogger, but because wordpress has a great app for my Blackberry and I should be able to blog more frequently. I am in the process of importing all of my posts from blogger, so I shouldn't loose any content.

The new site is:

:-)  See you there!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Here Burns My Candle, by Liz Curtis Higgs

I'll admit that I'm a history buff.  I have a weakness for a good historical romance.  And I have always been interested in Scotland (since my family comes from there).  I've read stories of the Rising or the '45 (you might know these by their more formal name of the Jacobite Uprising of 1745), so I was eager to get my hands on a new tale set in that period. 

Higgs' characters seemed weak as I began the novel, but grew stronger in my eyes as they learned more about each other and themselves throughout the book.  I liked that she was able to convey much of the emotion in Edinburgh and surrounding the Young Pretender, bonny Prince Charlie, and his attempt to regain the throne for the Stuarts.  It was even more impressive that she was able to do this while maintaining language that was unoffensive.  She didn't shy away from honest topics, but she dealt with them without making them the focus of the narrative.

I also liked watching Elisabeth and Marjory deal with their respective faiths, both in higher powers and their own selves.  It was fascinating without being "preachy" and was also inspirational.

The only thing I did not like about Here Burns My Candle was the way Higgs jumped from one person's point of view to another with the chapter changes, but only while the character was in Edinburgh.  I quickly became accustomed to these jumps, but I feel that it could have been made smoother by, at the very least, using the current character's name as a heading for the chapter.  There were a few passages where I was half a page or more into the chapter before knowing which person was the focus of that portion of the story.

Overall, this was a good, clean book.  If you have ever read any of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, you would most likely enjoy this view of the Jacobite Rebellion.  If you enjoy historical fiction, this is a good one to pick up.

You can find this book at Barnes and Noble here, or Amazon here

I was forwarded a print copy of this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Talk of the Town, by Lisa Wingate

Talk of the Town was such a fun read.  It was lighthearted and funny, sweet and romantic without crossing the line.  Lisa Wingate's language was clean and her storytelling was superb.  I downloaded this book because, at the time, it was being offered for free.  Even though it is not free any longer, I still encourage you to get a copy.
It is worth the read!

Most of us here in the South can relate to the small town setting.  The plot is based primarily on an American Idol type show with one of the finalist's coming home for a "surprise" concert.  As anyone in any small town can tell you, there is no such thing as a surprise.  Watching the big city people from the show interact with the small town inhabitants is funny enough, but adding in the antics of stars and the egos of executives and this is laugh-out-loud funny.  I will admit that the descriptions of the residents of Daily, Texas made me picture them just as Wingate described them; strangely, they seemed just like many of my family members!

Here's where you can find your own copy of this book at Amazon, at Barnes and Noble, and at Kobo.

Check out Lisa Wingate's Talk of the Town yourself and let me know what you think!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Divine Appointments, by Charlene Baumbich

This was an interesting novel. At first glance, it appears that it is going to be somewhat mystical and otherworldly. The story is engaging, however, and quickly draws you in. The characters are realistic and well-formed. The story provides a good message in a non-imposing format. It is definitely a book to lend to a friend.

Josie is strong and independent, and set in her ways. She is also single and menopausal. Watching her try to keep her life as fiercely controlled and regimented while things spiral beyond her control is humorous and something most of us can relate to.

Barb comes across as the typical grandmotherly figure. She is there for everyone and always has a treat and some advice for you. The glimpses into her personal life help round out and make her human.

Marsha's creative writing therapy is humorous when used in the overall narrative, but seems out of place when chapters of her fiction are placed in between chapters of Baumbich's novel. Overall, Marsha was my least favorite of the primary characters.

Overall, this is a clean book, and one that I would (and did!) loan to a friend... my mother. :-)

You can find your copy of Divine Appointments here at Barnes and Noble or here at Amazon.  I was forwarded a print copy for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Pirate Queen, by Patricia Hickman

This was the first of Hickman's books that I have read.  The description on the back cover was interesting enough to cause me to pick it up and start reading.

The Pirate Queen opens with a Southern Living party at the magazine-worthy home of Bender and Saphora Warren.  Saphora is in the midst of plotting her escape from the world in which she lives.  Just as she is about to be free, Bender comes home and informs her that he is dying and he wants her to take him to their vacation home to die.

Hickman's story is a tale of love lost and love found, forgiveness, faith discovered, and family.  The plot was strong and engaging.  I was hooked and didn't want to stop reading before I found out how it all ended.  The characters were well formed and realistic.  The dialogue was also realistic and, with few exceptions, flowed smoothly and did not feel forced.  All in all, this is a well-written novel.

Hickman places Saphora in many situations that are similar to life situations most people face frequently.  It's nice to see Saphora struggle with the choices she must make, and to see her deal with outcomes that she did not want.  It's easy to identify with her as we all do the same in our lives.

Ultimately, I liked The Pirate Queen.  I will certainly encourage others to read it and will be loaning my copy to friends.  It's clean and touches on being spiritual.  I would classify it as a vacation book.

Here's where to find it on Barnes and Noble as an ebook, and here's where to find it on Amazon.  I was forwarded a print copy for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Smash Cut, by Sandra Brown; Tough Customer, by Sandra Brown

I've said it many times:  I will pick up and start reading anything.  Most of the time, I enjoy whatever it is and am pleased with my decision to read it.  Occasionally I am thrilled to find a new series or author to add to my ever-growing list of "must-reads."  Rarely does it happen that I regret reading anything.  I may dislike the book, or the author, or the story, but I rarely truly regret reading a novel. 

I borrowed a copy of Sandra Brown's Smash Cut from my mother-in-law.  I've read other novels by Brown and, while not my favorites, they were enjoyable enough.  I considered Brown to be a fairly decent author and her books have been good enough that I would read one when my favorites were between new releases.  Smash Cut was one of the more difficult books for me to finish.  I'm not sure why.  The plot was decent enough, despite being predictable.  The characters were realistic.  It was the type of story I typically enjoy.  There was suspense, murder, romance, etc.  It just fell flat for me this time.  It may have been because the one mystery that wasn't explained in the first half of the novel was the least important.  It could have been my mindset at the time.  I don't know.  I do know that I struggled to finish it.  I would find excuses to put the book down.  I actually read another book while reading this one.  Three days after starting it, I finally finished it.  I felt more relief for having completed it than anything else.

To convince myself that Smash Cut was an anomaly, I began reading the sequel, Tough Customer.  It doesn't continue the entire story, but carries on the characters.  I found it even harder to make myself read and finish.  It seems to me that Brown was nearing her deadline and forced a book that wasn't ready out to print.  It took me longer to finish Tough Customer than it did Smash Cut

I have taken Sandra Brown off my list of back-up authors.  I am sure that, in the future, I will read something of hers and enjoy it, but that day will be a while in coming.  It doesn't happen often, but I have to admit that I regret reading Tough Customer.  I disliked Smash Cut, but it was my own fault that I picked up and began reading Tough Customer. 

If you read or have read either of these, I hope you enjoyed them more than I did.  If you want to check them out for yourself, Smash Cut is here on Barnes and Noble and here on Amazon.  Tough Customer is here on Barnes and Noble and here on Amazon.


Monday, February 7, 2011

Lydia Bennet's Story: A Sequel to Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Odiwe

Like most women, I enjoy Jane Austen's classic novel Pride and Prejudice, and not just for the images of Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy it brings to mind.  Since I enjoy the story so much, I am typically eager to read any new books that tell more of the Bennet/Darcy tale.  I've purchased many and borrowed just as many from my mom, who is responsible for this aspect of my character.  Imagine my surprise then, when browsing the ebooks online, to find Lydia Bennet's Story:  A Sequel to Pride and Prejudice available for free.  It is on Barnes and Noble for free here, Kobo is also free here, and Amazon here.

This is not exactly a sequel, as it begins during the story of Pride and Prejudice.  It tells Lydia's side of things from the time that Elizabeth is visiting Charlotte Collins and Jane is with their aunt and uncle in London.  To see Lydia's logic behind her choices makes for a new and different twist on the classic.  Odiwe's novel continues beyond the marriage to Wickham and on in the future, continuing the stories of the rest of the family as well.  This is worth reading if you enjoy Pride and Prejudice.

I will point out that Ms. Odiwe tried to write in a style similar to that of Jane Austen, but she was unable to completely achieve that goal.  While remaining completely clean, she was not able to be as completely innocent as writers in Austen's time were.  However, most of these incidents of impropriety were from Lydia herself, which is appropriate given her character.  One other observation is that, when mentioning locations, Odiwe wrote out the full name, as opposed to Austen and her contemporaries who would use the first letter followed by a line (H--).  While nice to have the full name to read, I found I missed the discretion of the original.  That's a personal preference, though, and had no bearing whatsoever on the novel itself.

Overall, I would encourage you to download a copy of Lydia Bennet's Story:  A Sequel to Pride and Prejudice while it is still free.  Much like Pride and Prejudice can be read at any time, this can also be read and enjoyed just about anywhere.  I have classified it as a vacation book because it is light and silly and has romance and comedy, but is serves as a mental vacation on it's own.  I will warn you, though, once you read this you will want to pick up your copy of Pride and Prejudice and read it again!  (it's available for free from all the major ebook sites:  Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Amazon.)

I hope you enjoy this one; please let me know what you think!