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Teresa's Reading Corner: January 2011

Monday, January 31, 2011

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough by Ruth Pennebaker

Synopsis from GoodReads:  Joanie's ex-husband is having a baby with his new girlfriend. Joanie won't be having more babies, since she's decided never to have sex again. 

But she still has her teenaged daughter Caroline to care for. And thanks to the recession, her elderly mother Ivy as well. Her daughter can't seem to exist without texting, and her mother brags about "goggling,"-while Joanie, back in the workforce, is still trying to figure out her office computer. And how to fend off the advances of her coworker Bruce.

Joanie, Caroline, and Ivy are stuck under the same roof, and it isn't easy. But sometimes they surprise each other-and themselves. And through their differences they learn that it is possible to undo the mistakes of the past.

My thoughts: Several times in my life I've not only heard, but used the phrase "The only way out is through."  That phrase accurately sums up the situations presented in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough.

Each of the women is in the midst of what can be a very tumultuous time in a woman's life.  Joanie is a recent divorcee nearing her 50th birthday. Caroline is in her teens, dealing with all of the physical changes a girl goes through at that point in life and trying to figure it all out.  Ivy is at the point in her life where she has to depend on her children more than she's used to and is finding herself more alone as her friends are passing away.  Put the three together and you get a pretty interesting story.

This is a super easy read but it was certainly a bit morose at times.  It actually reminded me a little bit of Love in Mid Air by Kim Wright.  It had a very similar tone and the main characters were very much alike.  I think my only real complaint is that the ending came and wrapped up fairly quickly. 

I would probably recommend this book to others if I know that they like chick lit that is a bit more mature.  If someone is looking for something that is lighter, this is probably not the title they should pick up.  

On a side note, I didn't "get" the cover until I finished the book and then immediately understood it and thought it to be very clever.
This is Ruth Pennebaker's debut novel that has just released.  She has previously written three young adult novels, Don't Think Twice, Conditions of Love, and Both Sides Now.  You can find more information about Ruth and her work at her website.

Check out the trailer:

Check out some of the other stops on the tour:
Monday, January 17th: Debbie’s Book Bag
Tuesday, January 18th: Proud Book Nerd
Thursday, January 20th: Love to Read for Fun
Monday, January 24th: Hospitable Pursuits
Tuesday, January 25th: Scraps of Life
Wednesday, January 26th: Reviews from the Heart
Thursday, January 27th: Tina’s Book Reviews
Tuesday, February 1st: Booksie’s Blog
Wednesday, February 2nd: BookNAround
Friday, February 4th: Life in the Thumb
Monday, February 7th: Iwriteinbooks’s blog
Tuesday, February 8th: The Book Chick
Wednesday, February 9th: A Bookish Way of Life
Thursday, February 10th: Romance Books Forum
Monday, February 14th: Bookworm’s Dinner
Tuesday, February 15th: Amused By Books
Wednesday, February 16th: Clever Girl Goes Blog
Date TBD: Chefdruck Musings

I received my copy of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough from the Author to participate in this tour coordinated by TLC Book Tours.  This is my honest opinion of the book.

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Friday, January 28, 2011

We've Moved

While the dust hasn't quite settled we are slowly getting comfortable at our new home on the web.  I haven't figured out how to move all of my great GFC followers over to the new domain, would you mind updating your feed readers or bookmarks to find us?

We're at


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Some Exciting News!!!

I have some really exciting news, at least for me.  Teresa's Reading Corner is growing up.  As my first anniversary for my blog is approaching I got to thinking about what I wanted to do with it.  I realized how much I truly love it and decided to invest in my own domain name! 

I'm in the process of moving everything over so hopefully you guys won't have to do anything to keep up with me.  Until then, hop by and say hello!


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

stiltsville by Susanna Daniel

Synopsis from the Author's Website: One sunny morning in 1969, near the end of her first trip to Miami, twenty-six-year-old Frances Ellerby finds herself in a place called Stiltsville, a community of houses built on pilings in the middle of Biscayne Bay.

It’s the first time the Atlanta native has been out on the open water, and she’s captivated. On the dock of a stilt house, with the dazzling skyline in the distance and the unknowable ocean beneath her, she meets the house’s owner, Dennis DuVal—and a new future reveals itself.

Turning away from her quiet, predictable life back home, Frances moves to Miami to be with Dennis. Over time, she earns the confidence of his wild-at-heart sister and wins the approval of his oldest friend. Frances and Dennis marry and have a child—but rather than growing complacent about their good fortune, they continue to face the challenges of intimacy, and of the complicated city they call home.

Stiltsville is the family’s island oasis—until suddenly it’s gone, and Frances is forced to figure out how to make her family work on dry land. Against a backdrop of lush tropical beauty, Frances and Dennis struggle with the mutability of love and Florida’s weather, and with temptation and chaos and disappointment.
But just when Frances thinks she’s reached some semblance of higher ground, she must confront an obstacle so great that all she’s learned about navigating the uncharted waters of family life can’t keep them afloat.

**Please forgive my vagueness.  I read this book awhile ago and never quite got the review done even though the book deserves so much more.** 

My thoughts:  I'd seen several reviews of stiltsville around the blogosphere before I actually got the opportunity to read it.   Even having read the synopsis and reviews I was unprepared for the emotional experience of reading this book.

At first I was rather indifferent about the story.  It was entertaining enough but nothing was really happening to keep me "glued" to the page. I completely agree with those that said that the story was a bit mundane at times.  The author spent a great deal of time describing some of the more typical aspects of marriage and parenthood however.  I believe that this was required to complete the picture of the relationship between Frances and Dennis as well as their daughter.  I never completely understood what drew Frances and Dennis together and why Frances seemed to be so unhappy in her marriage.  As time went on I was impressed with the integrity that Frances displayed and felt for what she was going through.  It was at this point that I was truly  impressed with the work and the range of emotion I felt while reading the story.

I don't want to lead you to believe that this is just a story about marriage.  The author explores Frances' friendships as well.  I felt that the author did a fantastic job at describing stiltsville and Southern Florida. I could easily visualize the things that were being described and could feel how the setting was an integral part of the story.

I would absolutely recommend this story to anyone who enjoys Women's Fiction where the characters are a bit more mature.  It is an interesting exploration into the life cycle of a marriage and gives the reader some things to think about.

I received my copy of stiltsville from the publisher in order to participate in the book club discussion at Every Day I Write the Book.  It's a fantastic blog that you should check out.


Monday, January 24, 2011

Rescue by Anita Shreve (audio book)

Synopsis from GoodReads:  A rookie paramedic pulls a young woman alive from her totaled car, a first rescue that begins a lifelong tangle of love and wreckage. Sheila Arsenault is a gorgeous enigma--streetwise and tough-talking, with haunted eyes, fierce desires, and a never-look-back determination. Peter Webster, as straight an arrow as they come, falls for her instantly and entirely. Soon Sheila and Peter are embroiled in an intense love affair, married, and parents to a baby daughter. Like the crash that brought them together, it all happened so fast.

Can you ever really save another person? Eighteen years later, Sheila is long gone and Peter is raising their daughter, Rowan, alone. But Rowan is veering dangerously off track, and for the first time in their ordered existence together, Webster fears for her future. His work shows him daily every danger the world contains, how wrong everything can go in a second. All the love a father can give a daughter is suddenly not enough.

Sheila's sudden return may be a godsend--or it may be exactly the wrong moment for a lifetime of questions and anger and longing to surface anew. What tore a young family apart? Is there even worse damage ahead? The questions lifted up in Anita Shreve's utterly enthralling new novel are deep and lasting, and this is a novel that could only have been written by a master of the human heart.

My thoughts:  This was my first experience with Anita Shreve's work although she's been recommended to me several times.  I absolutely loved this book on audio.  It was engaging and highly entertaining.  There were a few times that I was pretty sure I knew what was coming  and I would get so exasperated at Peter.  Couldn't he see what I could see what was clearly going on?   There was at least one occasion where I was surprised by the turn that the story took.  The story was constantly moving at an appropriate pace. 

I never liked Sheila, she was one of those characters that you love to hate.  The story asks a difficult question, can you ever rescue someone?  I think that we can try, but they have to want it too.

The story was narrated by Dennis Holland.  He did an excellent job.  Through his voice and the character descriptions I had a definite picture in my head of what each of them looked like.  According to the audio book jacket he has over 100 audio books to his credit.  I can certainly understand why.  

Assuming you like like this kind of story or Shreve's work in general, this would be a great starter audio book. 

I received my copy of Rescue from the publisher for review.  This is my honest opinion of the audio book.

This is my January entry for the 2011 Audio Book Challenge.

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Small Wars by Sadie Jones

Synopsis from Goodreads:  The prizewinning author of The Outcast delivers the emotionally searing story of a marriage in crisis, an unflinching look at lives irrevocably altered by one of history's "small wars."

Hal Treherne is a major in the British Army, a young and dedicated soldier on the brink of a brilliant career. When he is transferred to the British colony of Cyprus in 1956, Hal is joined by Clara, his beautiful and supportive wife, and their baby daughters. The Trehernes quickly learn that the Mediterranean is no "sunshine posting," however, and soon Hal is caught up in the battle to defend the island against Cypriots seeking enosis, union with Greece.

Leading his men in difficult and bloody skirmishes, after years of peaceful service, Hal at last tastes triumph. But his confidence and pride quickly fade: traumatized by the brutality he witnesses-and thwarted again in his attempts to do the right thing-Hal finds himself well trained in duty but ill equipped for moral battle.

A seasoned army wife, Clara shares her husband's sense of obligation. She knows to settle in quickly, make no fuss, smile. But as she struggles to trust her own maternal instincts and resist the anxiety that surges with Hal's frequent absences, Clara grows fearful of her increasingly distant husband. When she needs him most, Clara finds the once-tender Hal a changed man-a betrayal that is only part of the shocking personal crisis to come.

What place is there for honor amid cruelty, and what becomes of intimacy in the grinding gears of empire? A passionate and brilliantly researched novel about the effects of war on the men who wage it and the families they leave behind, Small Wars raises important questions that resonate for our own time.

My thoughts: I've gone back and forth on this book.  When I started it I thought it was just okay.  It was another young couple getting together before he goes off to war.  The story quickly jumps into their marriage and they have been separated while he is stationed abroad.  The family is finally reunited and I was eager for the story to begin.  What I didn't realize was how pertinent the war itself was t the story.  I'll admit that I got lost a time or two as the author describes the small battles that Hal is involved in on a daily basis.  Finally I realized that I needed to look past them, and really look at what was going on.  

This was not only a tale of the relationship between a soldier and his bride.  The story encompasses the relationships of the soldier and his men as well as that of the soldier and the wars.  Each of these relationships intertwine to lead us to the unexpected climax.

While many of the readers might not be soldiers in the military each one of us are soldiers in our own way. We are each fighting battles that others may or may not be aware of.  This is the story of Hal and Clara, how each of them were fighting their own battles and neither of them  aware of what the other is dealing with.

In the end, I enjoyed this book.  I thought it was realistic portrayal of the difficulty of being married to someone whose job prevents them from open communication with the ones that matter most.  

Sadie Jones lives in London and has one other book to her credit.  Her first novel, The Outcast won the Costa First Novel Award and was a finalist for both the Orange Prize as well as the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for First Fiction.

Check out the other Stops on the Small Wars Blog Tour:
Tuesday, January 18th: nomadreader
Thursday, January 20th: Diary of an Eccentric
Tuesday, January 25th: Unabridged Chick
Wednesday, January 26th: Rundpinne
Thursday, January 27th: In the Next Room
Monday, January 31st: Reviews from the Heart
Tuesday, February 1st: Amused By Books
Wednesday, February 9th: The Book Faery Reviews
Thursday, February 10th: Caribousmom
Friday, February 11th: BookNAround
Wednesday, February 16th: Chefdruck Musings

I received my copy of Small wars to participate in this blog tour presented by TLC Book Tours.  This is my honest opinion of the book.
This title qualifies for the What's in a Name 4 Challenge under Title with a size in it.  Yay!

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Heroine's Bookshelf by Erin Blakemore

Synopsis from GoodReads:  Jo March, Scarlett O'Hara, Scout Finch—the literary canon is brimming with intelligent, feisty, never-say-die heroines and celebrated female authors. Like today's women, they placed a premium on personality, spirituality, career, sisterhood, and family. When they were up against the wall, authors like Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott fought back—sometimes with words, sometimes with gritty actions. In this witty, informative, and inspiring read, their stories offer much-needed literary intervention to modern women.
Full of beloved heroines and the remarkable writers who created them, The Heroine's Bookshelf explores how the pluck and dignity of literary characters such as Jane Eyre and Lizzy Bennet can encourage women today.

Each legendary character is paired with her central quality—Anne Shirley is associated with irrepressible "Happiness," while Scarlett O'Hara personifies "Fight"—along with insights into her author's extraordinary life. From Zora Neale Hurston to Colette, Laura Ingalls Wilder to Charlotte BrontË, Harper Lee to Alice Walker, here are authors and characters whose spirited stories are more inspiring today than ever.

My thoughts:   This was a fantastic exploration of literature.  I had read only some of the books referenced and have been inspired to read others. The thing that I really love about this book is that you can easily read it bits at a time.  Whatever the occasion, there is likely a section to inspire you.  Having a crisis of faith?  Read the section devoted to faith.  Feeling a bit unhappy, the section on Happiness takes you to one of my favorite characters, Anne Shirley of Anne of Green Gables.

Each of the sections also includes a suggestions for a similar novel.  Many of these suggestions were new to me as well.  I will certainly be picking up one or two of them.  

The entire time I was reading this book I kept thinking that this would make a great basis for a challenge.  Wouldn't you know that someone else was thinking the same thing and put one together.  You can find the Heroine's Bookshelf Challenge over at Bibliophibian.  I would be participating in this one if I had just a bit more free time.  

I highly recommend this book filled with strong women.  It is sure to perk you up if you are feeling a bit down and inspire you to be all that you can.  

You can find Erin Blakemore on the web at

Erin Blakemore lives in Boulder, CO so I am including The Heroine's Bookshelf on my Literary Road Trip exploration of Colorado Authors.  

I received my copy of The Heroine's Bookshelf from the great people at HarperCollins Publishers for review.  My review has not been influenced by receipt of this book. 

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Friday, January 21, 2011


I finally succumbed to the peer pressure and joined Bloggiesta.  Its not that I didn't want to, I felt like I didn't have the time to devote to it.  After deciding that something was better than nothing I went ahead and signed up at MawBooks.

My first Blogoversary is coming up in a month and I know that I've come a long way since that first post.  I also know that there is plenty of room for improvement.

I'll be participating in a few of the mini challenges and visiting several of the Flashback Challenges listed on the starting line post.

Some of my goals:

  • Write and schedule posts
  • Write Blog Mission Statement
  • What are my goals for the future of the blog?
  • Look into SEO Optimization
  • Calendar books that I've received but not scheduled.
  • Organize bookshelves
  • Create a review by author and/or title page
  • Update wish list page
I think that is a decent start.  Wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Drinking Closer to Home by Jessica Anya Blau

Synopsis from the back of the book:  There is nothing like ten days with one's family to stir up child hood memories.  When Anna, Portia, and Emery's mother, Louise, suffers a massive heart attack, the three grown children return to Santa Barbara as they wait for Louise to either recover or die.
Anna can't stop thinking about sex with strangers, though in junior high she was terrifyingly certain that her free-loving parents had syphilis.  Portia's beach-bunny teen years feel far away as she struggles in an unfaithful husband who has left her feeling boneless and unsure.  And though Emery's greatest childhood fear was that The Law would catch up with their parents for any one of their numerous  transgressions, now his only worry is that he won't be able to create his own family, a newer, better version that will trump the chaos that ruled his childhood.

But time together also brings to the surface some painful, often heartbreaking secrets that will shake the foundations of everything the siblings know about themselves and their family- secrets that may, perhaps, change the way they view the past as well as the future.

My thoughts:  I wanted to read this one because I was craving something different.  I seem to have fallen into a bit of a reading rut.  I've been reading a lot of Historical fiction and Memoirs with a few fluffy titles in between.  Not that there is anything wrong with that, I just needed something else.  This book was most certainly outside of those parameters.  The thing that I loved about it is that it allowed me to take my mind off of my own troubles but it wasn't fluffy brain candy either.  This was a very dysfunctional family, it would make the oddest family seem normal. There were several times that I wondered what else could possibly happen to these people.

The situations presented in Drinking Closer to Home are certainly extreme, but the overall message is true for everyone.  How many of us have left home to go to college and come back a different person.  Did you find that your "role" in the family dynamic changed?  Did you find out about some long lost family secret years after it happened and have it affect you deeply?  Do you long for a relationship with a sibling that is vastly different from the one that you actually have?  If any of these statements are true, then you will be able to relate to these characters.

This was an interesting read for me because I found that I could relate to these characters even if I never actually liked any of them. I don't think that this has happened to me before.  This story is full of emotion and heartbreak.  It will make your jaw drop, make you laugh out loud and you might want to throw it against the wall in frustration.  It will also keep you coming back for more.  You will want to see what happens to this quirky family. 

The bottom line... read it, you might appreciate your own family a little bit more or learn something about yourself.  Please note that there are many sexual situations and drug use throughout the story.  This is most certainly a book meant for adults to enjoy. 

I was provided an uncorrected proof from the publisher for participation in the blog tour put on by TLC Book Tours.  This is my honest opinion of the book

Make sure you stop by some of the other blogs to see what they thought of the book.

Wednesday, January 19th: Life in the Thumb
Thursday, January 20th: Scraps of Life
Monday, January 24th: Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books
Tuesday, January 25th: Sara’s Organized Chaos
Wednesday, January 26th: Chefdruck Musings
Thursday, January 27th: Book Club Classics!
Tuesday, February 1st: Rundpinne
Wednesday, February 2nd: Write Meg
Thursday, February 3rd: After ‘I Do’
Wednesday, February 9th: Clever Girl Goes Blog
Thursday, February 10th: Alison’s Book Marks

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Book Blogger Hop January 14th edition

It's been a few weeks since I participated in the hop and I've got a couple of fun things to share, so I thought I'd hop back in this week.

The Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Jennifer over at Crazy For Books.  

Each week she poses a book blogging related question to get us talking and jumping around to each others blogs.  This weeks question is genre related.

She asks why we read the particular genre that we do and what draws us to that genre?

I don't really read one particular genre, but a variety.  I like contemporary fiction, classics, chick lit, historical fiction, etc.  I think the thing that draws me to a story are the characters.  I really like to read about strong women.  The other thing that consistently drives me to pick up a book is a recommendation from someone who has similar taste in books.  I'll even venture outside my comfort zone on this one if its someone that I trust wouldn't steer me wrong.  

Now for the fun things that I've got going on.  I've got a giveaway going on right now that is ending soon.  Sign up for two of Tami Hoag's popular mysteries.  

The other thing that you might be interested in is the 2011 Audio Book Challenge.   If you are new to Audio Books or are a seasoned veteran, sign up.  It's going to be great fun.  We can discover some great books and narrators together.  If you haven't listened to Audio Books before, let me know and I can help you get started.  

Make sure you say hello so I can hop by your blog as well.  Have a fantastic weekend!

Great Offer!

I just received an email from Harper Collins telling me about a low price ebook from Cecilia Ahern. They are  offering a low price e-book edition of  THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES.  It’s being offered at $1.99 through all major retailers, and it includes an excerpt from the new book.  The price goes back up to $9.99 on 1/25.

I've already downloaded it onto my ipod through the Apple iBookstore and it worked like a charm.  

If you’re interested, you can find it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sony, the Apple iBookstore (just search for THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES and it comes right up), and other e-book retail sites.  

Let me know if you check it out.

What do you carry?

Do you have a bag personality?  I must have some sort of split personality.  I have different bags for different scenarios.  On a day to day basis I carry a messenger bag that holds my planner, a book (of course), my wallet and a few other odds and ends.  On the weekend I carry a bag (my baggelini) in which I can stash an extra diaper, some wipes and a changing pad for when we are on the go.  If we are going to be out of the house for awhile I will actually carry a diaper bag. 

While traveling I usually change it up and throw everything that I usually carry in my back pack.  It's not a very stylish one either, its the one that I had when I was in college.  I'd always been jealous of the people in the airport that had nice luggage sets  so I went out and bought one.  Thinking I was being original I got purple.  Do you know how many people carry purple luggage?  Quite a few. On more than one occasion I've reached for someones bag thinking it was mine.   I think next time around I'm going to go for something loud, possibly something like this.  I don't think I saw any Orange luggage the last time I was at the airport.

So, what do you carry?

I will be receiving an item to review from CSN in exchange for writing this post. I am genuinely interested in seeing what my readers carry on a day to day basis. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Easy As Pie at Bobby's Diner by Susan Wingate

Synopsis from Amazon:  Georgette Carlisle lost her first husband, and is about to lose her next one: Hawthorne Biggs. She’s running the diner with Roberta, her late husband’s daughter. When old friend, Helen, comes back home after a failed attempt at a writing career, she is, once again, attracted to Georgette’s man. After the two women part company Helen goes missing. While digging around, Georgette finds out that Biggs has a dangerous past. With Roberta at her side, the two women brave separation, torture, and near death at the hand of Biggs. And, after taking him down, the women find a new strength and belonging. EASY AS PIE is the number two book in the four-part “Bobby’s Diner” series.

My thoughts:  Easy as Pie at Bobby's Diner is the second installment in what might also be known as the Georgette Carlisle series.   If given the opportunity to read Bobby's Diner first, I would recommend doing so.  While it was fairly easy to catch up on the story, it seems that this installment picks up where the first one left off.

There weren't any super surprising plot twists in Bobby's Diner, but it was entertaining throughout. Georgette Carlisle is a likable character who is not without her flaws.  There were a few occasions where I thought that she should have seen the light, but that is what makes reading this kind of story fun.  Roberta had an integral role in this installment and I would like to get to know her better.  I can see her having a larger role in one of the future installments.  I immediately saw Helen as a means to and end and nothing more. 

This book is a little more graphic than a cozy mystery, but not quite so much as a more intense mystery/thriller.  This was a nice little escape that I finished in just a few sittings.  If you have the time I'd bet you could race through it in one.  I would recommend this one to anyone who likes a cozy with a little bit of oomph.  I look forward to continuing the series. 

Wingate has several titles to her credit.  Take a peek at to check them out.

My copy of Easy As Pie at Bobby's Diner was provided by the author for participation in her blog tour presented by Pump Up Your Book.  This is my honest opinion of the book.

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Monday, January 10, 2011

Audio Book Challenge January Link up

Welcome Audio Book Challengers! I'm so excited that you all have decided to join the group. I've been trying to make it to each of your blogs to welcome you. If I haven't made it to your blog yet, I'm still working my way through the list. You haven't been forgotten.

How are things going so far? I've completed a couple of audio books that I'm working on writing the reviews for. I've got some great ideas for other posts as well. If there is anything that you'd like to see, please leave me a comment or shoot me an email.

Make sure you link up your reviews so that the rest of us can check out what you've listened to.

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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball by Donita K. Paul

Synopsis from Goodreads:  In a sleepy, snow-covered city, Cora Crowder is busy preparing for the holiday season. Searching for a perfect gift, a fortuitous trip to Warner, Werner, and Wizbotterdad's (a most unusual bookshop) leads to an unexpected encounter with co-worker Simon Derrick and the surprise discovery of a ticket for a truly one-of-a-kind Christmas Ball. 

Every year, the matchmaking booksellers of the Sage Street bookshop host an enchanting, old-fashioned Christmas Ball for the romantic matches they've decided to bring together. 

This year, will Simon and Cora discover a perfect chemistry in their opposite personalities and shared faith? Or will the matchmakers' best laid plans end up ruining everything this holiday?

My thoughts:  It seems that my reading plan was not quite in line with my activity level in December.  This was one of the few Holiday themed books that I was reading this year.  I didn't get it in before Christmas or even before the New Year so it ended up being my first book in 2011.  

I pretty much knew that it was going to read like a Hallmark special and that was exactly what I was looking for.  I really enjoyed the addition wizardry into the theme.  This story was an exploration of a new relationship, but also of faith .  Sometimes the two combined can really weigh down a story, but in this case the wizardry and the ball made it  more fun.  The story is full of fantastic coincidences and wonderful people.  It is a simple yet elegant holiday read that will satisfy your sweet tooth and is sure to get you in the holiday spirit.  

Check out the trailer...

Edited 1/20/11 to add:

I just realized that this book counts toward my What's in a Name Challenge hosted by Beth Fish Reads for the Number in the title Category.  Yay for achieving one of the challenge goals!

I was provided a copy of Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball by the Publisher for review.

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Oogy- the dog only a family could love by Larry Levin (audio book)

My thoughts:  It is without hesitation that I say that Oogy was a very special dog as was the family that adopted him.  Oogy was discovered by the police when the busted up a dog fighting ring.  He had been used as a bait dog to train other dogs to fight.  The problem was that Oogy didn't have a vicious bone in his body, even under the worst of circumstances.  It was through sheer determination on his part as well as his care takers that he pulled through.  
Enter the Levin family.  They are at the Veterinarian's office dealing with one of the toughest situations an animal lover can face, the loss of their furry friend.  The immediate connection between this dog and this family was undeniable.  They immediately agreed to adopt the pup.

This story is as much about the dog as it is about the man and the family.  We learn about Larry's fears as he becomes a father for the first time. We are with him as he embraces fatherhood and grows as a parent. I am in awe of the lengths that Larry goes to caring for Oogy.  What starts out as a tragedy quickly becomes a very heartwarming story that will restore your faith in people.

The story is narrated by Larry Levin and I think that that it helps to convey the emotion in this story. As an animal lover and adoptive person to a rescue dog I recognize that helping these animals is extremely rewarding but can be very difficult.  I see what the Levin's gave to Oogy, but I can also see what Oogy gave to them.  

Seek this one out, you won't be sorry.

I received my copy of Oogy from the publisher for review.  This is my honest opinion.

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Monday, January 3, 2011

Queen Hereafter by Susan Fraser King

Rather than rewrite the synopsis and introduction, you can find it in my Intro post.

My thoughts: I loved this book.  Since reading the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon I have a special place in my heart for Scotland.  This book also reminded me of one of my favorite books of 2010, The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by CW Gortner. 

I was interested in the relationship between Margaret and her husband Malcolm as the marriage was arranged for political alliance.  The relationship was certainly different from those that I am familiar with, but it did seem to be one of mutual love of and respect. 

The cast of characters was diverse and full of strong personalities beginning with Margaret.  When she vowed to do something, she put all of her heart into making sure that it got done and got done correctly. The other and almost equally important heroine in the story is Eva.  Eva is much like Margaret in her sense of duty and honor to her family.  She would do anything for her family, even if it wasn't the best choice for her. For those of you participating in the Strong Heroine Challenge I think Queen Hereafter is an excellent choice. 

Eva's betrayal is alluded to throughout the story, but it sneaks up on you because there is so much going on in the story.  This is a fantastic book for those readers of Historical Fiction that enjoy stories with some actual historical basis.  If you are looking for a bodice ripper, this book is probably too subtle for you.  This is a book that I would be comfortable passing onto my grandmother and I just might do that. 

My copy of Queen Hereafter was provided to me by the publisher for participation in the tour presented by TLC.  I would like to thank them for allowing me to read this fantastic book and introducing me to an author that I am sure to pick up again.

Other works by Susan Fraser King include Lady Macbeth which is now out in paperback.  I'm putting it on my wish list!

If you are a fan of Historical Fiction, Do you have a favorite author that I should be checking out?

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Secrets to the Grave by Tami Hoag and a Giveaway

Synopsis from Goodreads:  Marissa Fordham had a past full of secrets, a present full of lies. Everyone knew of her, but no one knew her.

When Marissa is found brutally murdered, with her young daughter, Haley, resting her head on her mother's bloody breast, she sends the idyllic California town of Oak Knoll into a tailspin. Already on edge with the upcoming trial of the See- No-Evil killer, residents are shocked by reports of the crime scene, which might not have been discovered for days had it not been for a chilling 911 call: a small child's voice saying, "My daddy hurt my mommy."

Sheriff's detective Tony Mendez faces a puzzle with nothing but pieces that won't fit. To assist with his witness, Haley, he calls teacher-turned-child advocate Anne Leone. Anne's life is hectic enough-she's a newlywed and a part- time student in child psychology, and she's the star witness in the See-No-Evil trial. But one look at Haley, alone and terrified, and Anne's heart is stolen.

As Tony and Anne begin to peel back the layers of Marissa Fordham's life, they find a clue fragment here, another there. And just when it seems Marissa has taken her secrets to the grave, they uncover a fact that puts Anne and Haley directly in the sights of a killer: Marissa Fordham never existed.

My thoughts:  I enjoy a good mystery.  I love trying to piece together the facts to reach a conclusion and either being justified at the end or proven wrong in a surprise twist.   Tami Hoag is a new to me author and from what I understand is an outstanding contributor to the genre.

I know I've said it before, but I think that there is a certain time in which one is going to really enjoy a particular book.  Maybe it addresses something that the reader is going through, or brings a distant memory to the forefront.  It might reflect the readers priorities at the time.  Something happened to me when I became a mother nearly three years ago.  My tolerances for certain things increased along with my sensitivity to others.  

I know that as a general rule a murder mystery is going to contain some element of wrongdoing, otherwise what are we going to be figuring out?  I felt that this one started out at a fairly gruesome level and was continuing in that direction.  One of the biggest things that I've become less tolerant of is the involvement of children in these types of novels.  From what I can tell the victims four year old daughter is a major part of the story which was a turn off for me at this point in time.  

At this point in my life, this book was not for me.  In my humble opinion, it seems to be well written and I'm not saying that I won't enjoy it in the future, but right now I just couldn't continue it and I stopped reading after the first 50 or so pages.  

I think a reader who is not as sensitive to the two things that I mentioned would probably enjoy this story. I know it has gotten rave reviews by others.  

My Copy of Secrets to the Grave was provided by the publisher in order to participate in this blog tour put together by TLC tours.  If you get a chance, stop by some of the other participants to see what they thought.  

Monday, December 6th:  A Bookworm’s World
Tuesday, December 7th:  Luxury Reading
Wednesday, December 8th:  Musings of an All Purpose Monkey
Thursday, December 9th:  Under the Boardwalk
Friday, December 10th:  Life in Review
Monday, December 13th:  The Well-Read Wife
Tuesday, December 14th:  My Two Blessings
Wednesday, December 15th:  Musings of a Bookish Kitty
Thursday, December 16th:  Bewitched Bookworms
Friday, December 17th:  Presenting Lenore
Monday, December 20th:  Man of La Book
Tuesday, December 21st:  I’m Booking It
Wednesday, December 22nd:  Rundpinne (Deeper Than the Dead)
Thursday, December 23rd:  Rundpinne (Secrets to the Grave)
Monday, December 27th:  Reviews by Molly
Monday, January 3rd:  Teresa’s Reading Corner
Wednesday, January 5th:  Lesa’s Book Critiques
Monday, January 10th:  Jen’s Book Thoughts

Do you love a good mystery?  Want to find out if this one will appeal to you more than it did to me?  The publisher has graciously offered one of my readers a copy of BOTH of Tami Hoag's Novels.  You have the opportunity to read both Secrets to the Grave as well as the first in the series, Deeper than the Dead.  

The Giveaway for these two will run through Midnight Mountain Time on January 14, 2011.  I will then randomly select the winner who will be notified via email.  They will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be selected.  

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