Tuesday, June 8, 2010

She Walks in Beauty

I know I rave about books, but this has to be one of my favorites in quite some time. This book was set in the late 1800s in New York City. Clara Carter is an innocent young girl in good societal circles. Her mother passed when she was young and she has been taught by a governess for several years. When she is seventeen, her aunt appears and informs her that she will be "debuting" this season. (For those of you who don't know, as I didn't, that means she was a debutant, attending balls and parties simply to find a suitable match. Clara has been told she doesn't have a choice. She "must" win the "heir" by any means necessary. Her best friend is her competition. Clara's innocence is robbed and her eyes opened during the process. She is introduced to a world where appearances are of the utmost importance and "truth" is inconvenient. Will she follow her heart or her family's wishes? Does she even have a choice? Is it true that God loves her just the way she is? Does anyone else?

Siri Mitchell's historical fiction is just phenomenal! Every time I read one, it makes me want to research more about the time period and situations presented. If you haven't read any of her work, be sure to check out The Constant Heart in addition to this one. She weaves a story so masterfully that is spellbinds this reader. I have the hardest time putting her books down to feed my family! Her characters are amazing. They come to life within the pages. She also has a tremendous ability to maneuver twists and turns that keep the reader enchanted and guessing until the end of the book. Bravo!!

Mitchell has written eight novels, two of which (Chateau of Echoes and The Cubicle Next Door) were named Christy Award finalists. A graduate from the University of Washington with a business degree, she has worked in many levels of government and lived on three continents. Siri and her family currently reside in the Washington, D.C., metro area.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

what's worse?

Being sunburnt all over OR being sunburnt in little patches only where you missed applying sunscreen?

I'll spare you the scary photos.

Hearts Awakening

Being comfortable in life sometimes causes people to be lazy. Desperation however can be a very powerful motivator. Elvira Kilmer is desperate. She has no hope of ever having a family of her own. She has to find work to keep from being on the streets and being destitute. She finds a widower, Jackson, who needs a housekeeper and someone to take care of his young sons. Elvira is plain. Jackson is handsome. Jackson also has a secret about his former wife. Will Elvira accept a most unusual arrangement? Will Jackson and Elvira find peace?

The book seems very formulaic. Girl is destitute. Man needs help. They meet. Make an arrangement.... blah, blah, blah.

I have to admit I wasn't impressed. It was a book. Something to read. I wish a better something. I read a quote somewhere last week (I wish I remember where) that said something to the effect of "When a scene becomes boring, make the characters fight over something..." The author of this book, Delia Parr seems to employ that strategy, and the characters fight a lot.

Not my favorite.

This book was provided for review by Bethany House publishers.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Sixteen Brides

The year is 1871. Several widows answer an ad in a shop window for women who want to take control of their own destiny. Mr. Hamilton Drake of Dawon County NE, the organizer of the Ladies Emigration Society was in St. Louis to help women acquire Land in their own name. Does Mr. Drake truly have their best interests at heart? What will happen to the women when they discover his ulterior motives?

This book takes on an ambitiously large cast of characters. While several turn out to be minor, there are still five major women characters. Surprisingly, they are not really all that hard to keep separated. Each women has her story. Some are running from their past, some are desperate, some looking for a fresh start. Lives are changed, friendships found in unlikely places and romance discovered. It is a sweet and easily read novel. It was easy to pick up, but not a compelling page turner. It would make for a great summer beach read.

Stephanie Grace Whitson, bestselling author and two-time Christy finalist, pursues a full-time writing and speaking career from her home studio in Lincoln, Nebraska. Her husband and blended family, her church, quilting, and Kitty-her motorcycle-all rank high on her list of "favorite things".

This book was provided for review by Bethany House Publishers.

Take it From the Top

Adventures in Odyssey has entertained our family on many a car ride and evenings at home. We welcomed the opportunity to preview "Take it From the Top", a new 4 cd set with over 5 hours of programs. Adventures in Odyssey started in 1987 by Focus on the Family. It was the beginning of high-quality family audio entertainment with a message. This set continues that legacy and does not disappoint. These writers continue to come up with stories that are inventive and entertaining while teaching character lessons. My children couldn't wait to listen to each episode. The continued episodes always keep them on the edge of their seats.

From the back cover -
Get answers to the deep questions of life, like: Why would Eugene Meltsner shave his head? Why did the Parkers have a family meeting in the bathroom? How does a hole in a baseball glove change the course of a winning game? As you've come to expect from Adventures in Odyssey, the answers to those questions give practical lessons about responsibility, the meaning of true treasure, and God's calling.

These CDs were provided for review by Tyndale Blog Network.