Saturday, March 30, 2013

Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown by Maud Hart Lovelace

Reading to Know - Book Club




HarperCollins
240 pages

My Rating: 5/5 stars(and added to my list of favorites!)

My Thoughts:

I was super excited when Annette picked a Maud Hart Lovelace title for March's Reading to Know Bookclub read! I was a little afraid I wouldn't get it read in time, since God added Bumblebee to our home a few weeks ago. I learned that the invention of the Kindle just *might* have had something to do with a newborn, though. ;) It makes reading a breeze during feeding time, and that happens quite often! I had originally planned on re-reading Emily of Deep Valley, because I adored that book. Since reading an actual book one handed isn't so easy, and there's a great deal on Betsy-Tacy Treasury (for Kindle) right now, I decided to pick up where I left off, and read Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown.

Carrie mentioned at some point how incredibly easy Lovelace is to read. I think that's why I've grown to love her works so much. If you've been around here long, you know I struggle with Classics. I didn't grow up reading them, and I was pretty much the only person in my family(other than my grandmother) who enjoyed reading books. I want to read them, but I struggle with most of them. I don't with Lovelace's books! I get that wonderful nostalgic feeling that I enjoy with Classics, and they DO make me think. I'm generally guilty of simply reading for entertainment, except for my occasional non-fiction books that I try to glean encouragement from.

I was actually surprised at how much Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown impacted me! I especially enjoyed the library part, although I kept hoping there was more about it than there ended up being. The main part that impacted me, though, was when Betsy's mother found out she had been reading "dime novels". She didn't get mad! She, along with Betsy's dad, simply encouraged her to read more Classics.

"In spite of what your mother says, Betsy, if you have any talent for writing, it comes from her family. Her brother, Keith was mighty talented, and maybe you are too. Maybe you're going to be a writer."

Betsy was silent, agreeably abashed.

"But if you're going to be a writer," he went on, "you've got to read. Good books. great books. The classics. And fortunately..that's what I'm driving at..Deep Valley has a new Carnegie Library, almost ready to open. White marble building, sunny, spick and span, just full of books."

While I have no desire(anymore) to be a writer, I was once again reminded of how much I need to TRY to read more Classics. It doesn't mean I have to like them all, but I do need to try harder to find ones I love, like the Betsy-Tacy/Deep Valley books. It's hypocritical of me to expect that my boys will be reading Classics one day(on their own) when I don't read them myself. Reading this book was like a small dose of the encouragement I got when reading Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books. I guess it's a good thing that this year's Bookclub is focused on Classics. Maybe I need to re-read this as I'm trying to make my way through April's 740 page book! (No Name by Wilkie Collins) *Although as I link up one of the books lists it as 390 pages*

Another impact was(as expected) how simple things were back then. Families, in general, had more interaction with each other. Children weren't competing against the computer or TV for their parent's attention. In that aspect, I don't think there was as much stress within families. (I'm sure there was plenty in other areas, though!)I adored this part of the book.

"The big pan of fluffy buttered popcorn was brought in and passed. Julia went to the piano, and everybody sang. They sang Navajo and Hiawatha and Bedelia, and Jerry and Julia sand a duet called, "Tell me, pretty maiden."

Mr. Ray smoked his pipe and looked pleased. He liked people to have a good time at his house.

At last Mr. Ray played the piano, and Julia and Jerry, Katie and Pin danced a waltz. They pushed back the dining-room table and had a Virginia Reel. Mr. Ray joined in, and so did Tacy, and Tib, and Rena who came in smiling from the kitchen. The blue plates on the plate rail danced, too. Only Betsy could not dance because of her foot. But she had a good time anyway, feeling heroic."

In case you couldn't tell from that great amount of babbling up there, I adored this book, too! I'm looking forward to reading about Betsy and Tacy and Tib as they continue to grow. Hopefully, I won't wait until the next challenge/reading club pick to finish it up, though!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

That Time I Joined the Circus by J.J. Howard



Point (April 1, 2013) 272 pages

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

My Thoughts:

Alexandra(a.k.a. Lexi, Xandra, or X)is in her senior year of high school. She's quite the music snob, since her dad(Gavyn) hosts a radio show. Her mom left them years earlier and now Lexi hates her, despite the fact that she hasn't seen or heard from her since. Her two best friends, Eli and Bailey, have started dating, which leaves her alone and sad. When Lexi and Eli sleep together, and she discovers her dad was trying to reach her as he died at the same time, her world falls apart. She leaves New York behind, since there's nowhere to go, and joins the circus in order to survive.

I really enjoyed reading this book! Except for the last portion of the story, I'd give it 4 stars. For me, though, the ending kind of dragged, and I didn't necessarily like how it all ended. It's a realistic kind of story, though. It's definitely not an "everything tied in a nice, neat bow" book. It's full of bad choices and broken hearts. It's kind of sad, but at the same time I loved Lexi's sarcastic voice. I found myself laughing quite often throughout the book. When I read that she was a snarky kind of girl in the description, I had my worries that I wouldn't like her, but she's surprisingly quite likable.

The chapters alternate through most of the book from present time to just before/after her dad's death. Little details are slowly revealed, although there's really not a huge mystery to unravel or anything. It does help to see things more clearly, though.

Instead of a love triangle, this story has somewhat of a love square. I can't say I was happy with who she ends up with, but then I'm usually not when it comes to character's love choices in a love triangle or this case, square.

Overall, I DO recommend That Time I Joined the Circus! I had fun reading it, despite the sadness involved.

Content:

The "sex" incident is never described in detail. You just know it happens.
There's only 2(maybe 3) mild words of profanity.
It was pretty clean otherwise!

*I was provided an e-ARC through Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Also Known As by Robin Benway



Walker Childrens (February 26, 2013) 320 pages

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Thoughts:

Maggie and her family are spies. Maggie, more specifically, is one of the best safecrackers around, even from an early age. She and her family move around a great deal, changing names, and homes. There's never time to make friends, so it usually makes the move less difficult. When Maggie is assigned a case that involves enrolling in high school, her life includes a great deal of changes, including a couple of friends. It doesn't help that one is a boy, and he's the key to solving her case.

Knowing this book was about a family of spies, I just couldn't resist giving it a try! Where there's spies, there's got to be a bit of mystery, right?! I especially enjoyed that the whole family was involved, as opposed to just Maggie. There was an awesome group of secondary characters, too. Roux has her faults, like all of us, but she was fun, for the most part. I can't say I enjoyed everything about her, but I especially enjoyed her relationship with her doorman. That portion of the story got lots of laughs from me. Then there's Angelo. He's an older spy-friend of the family, and somewhat of a mentor to Maggie. I just loved him! Of course, there's a bit of romance involved, too. It was a very sweet romance, indeed!

As I mentioned above, there is a bit of mystery involved, but more than anything this story is about Maggie learning to live a new life in high school and make new friends. Some struggles with Maggie's family surface as she deals with all the "newness" of her life.

Overall, this was a sweet, fun book!



*Content: Before picking up this book, I read a content review that said this book was very clean with only one word of profanity. Imagine my surprise when I discovered there's closer to 50 words of profanity(I didn't actually count...guesstimate there), and about as many religious expletives. The profanity is mostly mild(he**, a**, da**, bi***, etc) and one bad one(g-da**). I did read an e-ARC, so maybe the final copy doesn't include all that. ?? There's also kissing and drinking at a party. One of the characters get VERY drunk! Other than that, it's clean.

**I was provided an e-ARC through Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Friday, March 22, 2013

My Very First Easter Story Sticker Book



My Thoughts:

First of all, let me mention that I don't celebrate Easter as a "Jesus" holiday. You may remember my post explaining why I don't celebrate Christmas as Christ's birthday. It's HERE, if you're curious. My thoughts are the same concerning Easter. I do take the Lord's Supper every Sunday(that I'm not stranded home with sick babies or something) as a remembrance of Christ's death and resurrection. To show you how odd we are, we also don't teach that Santa and the Easter Bunny are real. They are fictional characters that we have a lot of fun with, though. :) (Of course, my two oldest are at an age where fact and fiction blend at times. At this point, we don't make a huge deal that the Easter Bunny doesn't actually exist. We won't lie when they ask, though.)

On to the book now! Since my little ones can't read yet, I can conveniently leave the word "Easter" out of any of the reading in here. We used it as a Bible lesson on Jesus. The pages are numbered as a two page spread. For example, page 1 is actually 2 pages. There are 8 pages(16)with 2 pages of stickers in the middle. At the top of pages 1-6 is the story of Jesus with shadowed spots to place stickers. At the bottom of the pages is little activities. There's counting and matching, etc. Page 7 is a quick overview of the life of Jesus. As you can guess with a book like this, the account of Jesus' life is VERY condensed and simplified. There's a warning on the back to not use this book with children under 36 months. I guess the stickers can create a choking hazard. I think the book is best for 2-4 years old, though. It's really simple!

We like it, though! It's a fun way for little ones to learn about Jesus.

*I was provided a review copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Land Of Newborn




I apologize that I'm so behind in commenting! I have a good excuse, though! We've been enjoying our newest little guy the past couple of weeks. I'm quite content these days, and thrilled pregnancy is behind me. ;) I'm working on catching up, though(with many things)!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Shattered by Dani Pettrey



February 1, 2013
Bethany House
364 pages

Description:

With All the Evidence Against Him, Only a Sister's Trust Can Save Him Now

When her prodigal brother Reef's return to Yancey, Alaska, is shattered by his arrest for murder, Piper McKenna is determined to protect him.

Deputy Landon Grainger loves the McKennas like family, but he's also sworn to find the truth. And he knows those closest to you have the power to deceive you the most. With his sheriff pushing for a quick conviction, some unexpected leads complicate the investigation, and pursuing the truth puts Landon's career in jeopardy.

When Piper launches her own investigation, Landon realizes he must protect her from herself-and whatever complications await as the two follow clues deep into Canada's rugged backcountry. Not only does their long friendship seem to be turning into something more, but this dangerous case is becoming deadlier with each step.

My Thoughts:

In Shattered, the McKenna family gets another chance at solving a murder. This time, though, their brother, Reef, is the prime suspect. Landon and Piper take center stage in this book, where in the first one, the spotlight was on Bailey and Cole. I'm thrilled to know that there will be 5 books in this series(one for each of the McKenna siblings).

I'm not one to read suspense novels. I'm a scaredy cat, so I keep my distance. I was drawn to this series, though, and decided to go for it. My sister lived in Alaska for a few years, and one of my nephews was born there. Even though I never got to visit, I still feel like I have a special bond to Alaska. Thankfully, it wasn't too much for me. It was just enough to keep me turning the pages, but not scared out of my mind. If you're like me, and hesitant to open up a suspense novel, but crave a mystery with your romance, definitely give this series a try!

It was fun getting to know each of the siblings even more. The bond between them, especially where Piper was concerned was incredibly sweet. My family didn't exactly grow up with that kind of bond. ;) The romance was "melt your heart" sweet, too.

Overall, Shattered was a wonderful book escape, and I recommend it wholeheartedly.


*I was provided a review copy through Litfuse Publicity and Bethany House in exchange for my honest opinion.

**If you would like to see what others on this tour are saying about Shattered, go HERE.


Meet Dani:


Dani Pettrey is a wife, homeschooling mom, and author. She feels blessed to write inspirational romantic suspense because it incorporates so many things she loves--the thrill of adventure, nail biting suspense, the deepening of her characters' faith, and plenty of romance. She and her husband reside in Maryland with their two teenage daughters.

Visit her website at www.danipettrey.com.



Dani Pettrey is celebrating the release of Shattered with a Nook HD giveaway and a Facebook Author Chat Party {3/14}. 





Shattered Pettrey


One winner will receive:


  • A brand new Nook HD
  • Submerged and Shattered by Dani Pettrey {Be caught up in this riveting series.}
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on March 13th. Winner will be announced at the "Shattered" Author Chat Party on 3/14. Connect with Dani for an evening of book chat, trivia, and a chance to win gift certificates, books, and other fun prizes!




So grab your copy of Shattered and join Dani on the evening of the March 14th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book - don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 14th!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

To Whisper Her Name by Tamera Alexander



October 23, 2012; Zondervan (473 pages)

My Rating: 5/5 stars

My Thoughts:

Olivia Aberdeen is a widow, but she's not too unhappy about that. Her late husband, Charles, was not only abusive to her, but he was also a traitor to the South. Not to mention, he cheated many people out of their hard earned money. She comes to the Belle Meade Plantation thanks to the help of Elizabeth Harding, her late mother's friend. She struggles to fit in, not only because of the fact that society shuns her due to her late husband's faults, but because she is terrified of horses. Belle Meade Plantation is a horse farm, after all. When Ridley Cooper shows up, Olivia has the opportunity to experience a whole new way of life. He's keeping a secret from her, though, and it might just be enough to make her change her mind about him.

When To Whisper Her Name first arrived in the mail, seeing those 473 pages with small typing intimidated me a tiny bit. I don't know why, though, because I typically enjoy longer books more. There's more time to really get to know the characters. To Whisper Her Name was not an exception. I enjoyed it very much! I could relate just a little with Olivia's fear of horses. I don't have an overwhelming fear of them or anything, but those TEETH! :S

Although this is a romantic book, it's not ALL about the romance, which is why I liked it so much. A great portion of the story revolved around the end of slavery, and those former slaves trying to find their place in their new way of life. It was about many different people trying to find acceptance, both from others and themselves. It was about facing fears. It was actually quite a thought provoking book! I adored how Tamera didn't fully explain each and every detail. There's some events and people mentioned briefly, in which she leaves putting the puzzle pieces together to the reader.

Last year, Tamera's A Lasting Impression, quickly became one of my favorite books. It made me smile when a couple of the characters from that story were mentioned in To Whisper Her Name. As most of you probably already know, both of these books are based on real people and real places from the past. Of course, like most fictional books, Tamera does explain some of the liberties she took in the author's note at the end. It does contain spoilers, so save it for last. I've never had a problem reading the end of a book first, but those author's notes are the hardest thing for me to stay away from. I always want so badly to read them first. After running into too many spoilers that way, I refrain now...mostly. :)

*As somewhat of a side note, I'd definitely classify this as an "edgy" romance, just in case that may bother you. There's lots of kisses and "looks" and thoughts mentioned. It's not the "edgiest" I've ever read, by any means, though.

**I was provided a review copy through the Amazon Vine program in exchange for my honest opinion.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Humble Bumbles Humble Heart: A Book of Virtues by Amy Meyer Allen



Tyndale Kids (March 3, 2013) 192 pages

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Thoughts:

I didn't know what to expect when I got Humble Heart. I knew it had about 190 pages, so I was afraid it would be too much for my little ones now(1 and 4), but decided to chance it anyway. I was thrilled at just how simple this book is! There is a big picture on one side, and one to two sentences on the other side of each two page spread, with a total of 9 stories. At the end of each story, there's also a Bible verse. Each story focuses on a main character, along with a certain virtue.

Humility with Humble Honeybee
Love with Babo Bear
Thoughtfulness with Caroline Cat
Faithfulness with Daniel Dog
Mercy with Percie Pig
Encouragement with Barnabas Bunny
Comfort with Lydia Lamb
Courage with Lancelot Lion
Joy with Felicity Frog

I think Humble Heart will probably appeal more to younger readers, but I think there's a pretty good range, in my opinion(maybe 2-8ish). The pictures are cute, and the writing is huge. Plus, it's an awesome book to pair with character studies! It's a bit bigger than I was expecting, too. The cover is on the thicker side, with slight padding. Coming from a momma expecting #3, I think it would make a perfect baby shower gift! (I already have a copy, so not a hint there.) ;)

Overall, Humble Heart is a cute book with several great messages!

*I was provided a review copy from Tyndale in exchange for my honest opinion.