Monday, September 28, 2009

Tuesday Thinger: Have Your Books Been Banned?

Welcome to another week of Tuesday Thingers! We always love to hear from regular participants as well as new people.

This week, in honor of Banned Book Week (Sept. 26th - Oct. 3rd), our Thinger comes from Tina of Tutu's Two Cents.

Library Thing has a library called BannedBooksList that lists. . . you guessed it!. . . banned books. If you haven't taken a look yet, here it is!

When you click on the library and look on the right-hand column in the first blue box, you will see how many books you share with BannedBooksLibrary.

Questions (feel free to answer one question or as many as you want): Do you have any banned books in your Library? If so, how many? Do you remember having any strong reactions or feelings when reading these books? Were any of the books on the list particularly surprising to you? As always, any special requests or suggestions for next week?

My Answer: Currently, I've got three books in common with BannedBooksLibrary. . . sadly, I KNOW I've read more than three banned books. Why do I only have three on there?? Because I've only been using LT since August of 2008, and I only add the books I've read and reviewed to my Library Shelves. So - I guess I'm admitting that I haven't read a banned book over the past year.

Here are the books I've got in common:
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

**To see what BannedBooksList had to say, I had to scroll through my different book shelf views until I found one that showed the tags/notes. I think I used View C, but yours may be different. **

I remember loving Huckleberry Finn. I just recently went through a box of old school papers my mother stopped by with, and one was a journal of Huckleberry Finn that I had to create - how fun. :)

Here is what BannedBooksList had to say under tags/comments: *Banned Books, *Censored Books, *Challenged Books, Category: Fiction, Country: USA, Country: USSR, Reason: Moral, Reason: Racism, Source: ALA 10 Most Challenged 2007, Source: ALA 100 Most Frequently Challenged 1990-2000, Source: Beacon for Freedom Database, Time Period: 2000sUS - 1885 banned by Concord, MA library as trash 1905 Barred from Brookly Library Childrens Room "Huck not only itches, but scratches and says sweat when he should say perspiration" 1957 dropped from list of approved books for NYC schools partially due to "n word" - Twain censored. 1969 - removed from Miami-Dade Junior College required reading list - "creates an emotional block for black students that inhibits learning" Challenged as racist - 1976 Winnetka, IL 1981: Davenport, Iowa 1982: Houston, Texas and Fairfax County, Virginia 1983: State College, Pennsylvania 1984: Springfield and Waukegan, Illinois 1986: Lincoln, Nebraska USSR - 1930 confiscated at border 1946 had become best sellers in Soviet Union (Info Source - Beacon for Freedom database)
Gone With The Wind has always been a favorite! I've probably read it at least 10 times, mostly in my teens.
Here's what BannedBooksLibrary had to say about Gone With the Wind: Category: Fiction, Country: USA, Reason: Moral, Source: ALA
To Kill a Mockingbird - I had to read it in an English class in High School, and I don't remember much about it, so I'm assuming that it wasn't one of my favorites.
Here's what BannedBooksLibrary had to say about Gone With the Wind: *Challenged Books, Category: Fiction, Country: USA, Reason: Moral, Source: ALA, Source: ALA 100 Most Frequently Challenged 1990-2000

I was very surprised to see Gone With The Wind on the list.

Looking forward to reading everyone's answers!!

~ Wendi

If you are new to Tuesday Thingers: Welcome! The meme was originally created as a way to network with other bloggers and to learn about Library Thing! I'd like to encourage you to join us. If you don't know what Library Thing is - you are in a great place to learn about new things, and if you are an old pro, stick around and share your wealth of information! Visit Library Thing here. To join in, copy the picture and question into your post and link back here so people can read other responses. Make sure you leave a comment here with a link to your post so we can stop by! If you don't have a blog, feel free to leave a comment here!

Teaser Tuesday: Arabella by Georgette Heyer

TEASER TUESDAYS : are hosted by MizB over at Should Be Reading ~


My Teaser for today:


The Dowager Duchess of Wigan, who was the terror of four sons, three surviving daughters, numerous grandchildren, her man of business, her lawyer, her physician, and a host of dependants, greeted her favourite grandson characteristically. He found her imbibing nourishment in the form of slices of toast dipped in tea, and bullying the unmarried daughter who lived with her.

~ p. 200, “Arabella" by Georgette Heyer

I haven't started this book yet, but decided to grab a teaser from the book - guess I'll have to read it soon and find out what is going on. :)





About the Book (from Amazon):
From Amazon: Daughter of a modest country clergyman, Arabella Tallant is on her way to London when her carriage breaks down outside the hunting lodge of the wealthy Mr. Robert Beaumaris. Her pride stung when she overhears a remark of her host's, Arabella pretends to be an heiress, a pretense that deeply amuses the jaded Beau. To counter her white lie, Beaumaris launches her into high society and thereby subjects her to all kinds of fortune hunters and other embarrassments.

When compassionate Arabella rescues such unfortunate creatures as a mistreated chimney sweep and a mixed-breed mongrel, she foists them upon Beaumaris, who finds he rather enjoys the role of rescuer and is soon given the opportunity to prove his worth in the person of Arabella's impetuous young brother...
I always look forward to reading everyone's teasers! ~ Wendi

Review and Tour: Three Weddings and a Bar Mitzvah by Melody Carlson (Excerpt Included)



Three Weddings and a Bar Mitzvah (86 Bloomberg Place Series #4) by Melody Carlson
David C. Cook (2009) ~ 320 pages
Fiction / Romance / Inspirational

Edition Reviewed / Special Thanks: Paperback - Many thanks to the publisher for sending me a review copy for this WildCard Tour!



Perfect for : Personal reading, book club read

In a nutshell: Three Weddings and a Bar Mitzvah is the fourth book in the 86 Bloomberg Place series. While I really enjoyed reading it, I think I would have enjoyed it even more after reading the first three books. Anyone who has planned a wedding (or helped) will simply have to laugh over the opening of the book, when they are trying to nail down a date for Lelani's wedding. It REALLY can be that hard, and Melody Carlson did a great job of capturing the situation. What I really liked about this book is that the women are down-to-earth and real. . . no perfect relationships here, just real friends with real problems living together under the same roof. . . growing up together with a focus on God, friends and family. There are also a few twists and turns in the story to keep things interesting - a very sad event, and a very surprising change in vocation, and the beginnings of a mended relationship!

I will only add that not having read the first three books had me trying to catch-up on all the relationships, but Melody did a good job of providing enough information to keep me going. I would recommend reading these books in order.


It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Three Weddings & a Bar Mitvah



David C. Cook (2009)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Melody Carlson has published more than one hundred books for adults, children, and teens, with many on best-seller lists. Several books have been finalists for, and winners of, various writing awards, including the Gold Medallion and the RITA Award. She and her husband live in the Cascade Mountains in Oregon and have two grown sons.

Visit the author's website.





Three Weddings and a Bar Mitzvah, by Melody Carlson from David C. Cook on Vimeo.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 320
Vendor: David C. Cook (2009)
ISBN: 1589191080
ISBN-13: 9781589191082

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:





Megan Abernathy


“Okay, then, how does the second Saturday in June look?” Anna asked her housemates.


Megan frowned down at her date book spread open on the dining room table. She and Anna had been trying to nail a date for Lelani and Gil's wedding. Megan had already been the spoiler of the first weekend of June, but she'd already promised her mom that she'd go to a family reunion in Washington. Now it seemed she was about to mess things up again. “I'm sorry,” she said, “but I promised Marcus I'd go to his sister's wedding. It's been scheduled for almost a year now, and it's the second Saturday too. But maybe I can get out of it.”


Lelani just shook her head as she quietly rocked Emma in her arms, pacing back and forth between the living room and dining room. The baby was teething and fussy and overdue for her afternoon nap. Megan wasn't sure if Lelani's frustrated expression was a result of wedding planning or her baby's mood.


“Is it possible you could do both weddings in one day?” Anna asked Megan.


“That might work.” Megan picked up her datebook and followed Lelani into the living room, where she continued to rock Emma.


“Or we could look at the third weekend in June,” Anna called from the dining room.


“Shhh.” Megan held a forefinger over her lips to signal Anna that Emma was finally about to nod off. Megan waited and watched as Emma's eyes fluttered closed and Lelani gently eased the limp baby down into the playpen set up in a corner of the living room. Lelani pushed a dark lock of hair away from Emma's forehead, tucked a fuzzy pink blanket over her, then finally stood up straight and sighed.


“Looks like she's down for the count,” Megan whispered.


Lelani nodded. “Now, where were we with dates?”


“If you still want to go with the second Saturday,” Megan spoke quietly, “Anna just suggested that it might be possible for me to attend two weddings in one day.”


“That's a lot to ask of you,” Lelani said as they returned to the dining room, where Anna and Kendall were waiting expectantly with the calendar in the middle of the table and opened to June.


Megan shrugged as she pulled out a chair. “It's your wedding, Lelani. You should have it the way you want it. I just want to help.”


Anna pointed to the second Saturday. “Okay, this is the date in question. Is it doable or not?”


Lelani sat down and sighed. “I'm willing to schedule my wedding so that it's not a conflict with the other one. I mean, if it can even be done. Mostly I just wanted to wait until I finished spring term.”


“What time is Marcus's sister's wedding?” asked Anna.


“I'm not positive, but I think he said it was in the evening.” She reached for her phone.


“And you want a sunset wedding,” Kendall reminded Lelani.


“That's true.” Anna nodded.


“But I also want Megan to be there,” Lelani pointed out.


“That would be helpful, since she's your maid of honor,” said Anna.


Megan tried not to bristle at the tone of Anna's voice. She knew that Anna had been put a little out of sorts by Lelani's choice--especially considering that Anna was the sister of the groom--but to be fair, Megan was a lot closer to Lelani than Anna was. And at least they were all going to be in the wedding.


“Let me ask Marcus about the time,” Megan said as she pressed his speed-dial number and waited. “Hey, Marcus,” she said when he finally answered. “We're having a scheduling problem here. Do you know what time Hannah's wedding is going to be?”


“In the evening, I think,” Marcus said. “Do you need the exact time?”


“No, that's good enough.” Megan gave Lelani a disappointed look. “I'll talk to you later, okay?”


“You're not thinking of bailing on me, are you?” He sounded genuinely worried.


“No, but we're trying to pin down a time and date for Lelani.”


“It's just that I really want my family to meet you, Megan. I mean all of my family. And I want you to meet them too.”


“I know, and I plan to go with you.”


“Thanks. So, I'll see you around six thirty tonight?”


“That's right.” Megan told him good-bye, then turned to Lelani with a sigh. “I'm sorry,” she told her. “That wedding's at night too. Maybe I should blow off my family reunion so that you--”


“No.” Anna pointed to the calendar. “I just realized that the first Saturday in June is also my mother's birthday.”


“So?” Kendall shrugged. “What's wrong with that?”


Megan laughed. “Think about it, Kendall, how would you like to share your wedding anniversary with your mother-in-law's birthday?”


Kendall grinned. “Oh, yeah. Maybe not.”


“How about a Sunday wedding?” suggested Megan.


“Sunday?” Lelani's brow creased slightly as she weighed this.


“Sunday might make it easier to book the location,” Kendall said. “I mean, since most weddings are usually on Saturdays, and June is a pretty busy wedding month.”


“That's true,” agreed Megan.


“And you gotta admit that this is short notice for planning a wedding,” added Kendall. “Some people say you should start planning your wedding a whole year ahead of time.”


“Marcus's sister has been planning her wedding for more than a year,” Megan admitted. “Marcus says that Hannah is going to be a candidate for the Bridezillas show if she doesn't lighten up.”


They all laughed.


“Well, there's no way Gil and I are going to spend a year planning a wedding.” Lelani shook her head. “That's fine for some people, but we're more interested in our marriage than we are in our wedding.”


“I hear you.” Kendall laughed and patted her slightly rounded belly. She was in her fifth month of the pregnancy. They all knew that she and her Maui man, Killiki, were corresponding regularly, but despite Kendall's high hopes there'd been no proposal.


“I really don't see why it should take a year to plan a wedding,” Megan admitted. “I think that's just the wedding industry's way of lining their pockets.”


“So how much planning time do you have now anyway?” Kendall asked Lelani. “Like three months?”


“Not even.” Lelani flipped the calendar pages back. “It's barely two now.”


“Which is why we need to nail this date today,” Megan said. “Even though it's a small wedding--”


“And that remains to be seen,” Anna reminded her. “My mother's list keeps growing and growing and growing.”


“I still think it might be easier to just elope,” Lelani reminded them. “I told Gil that I wouldn't have a problem with that at all.”


“Yes, that would be brilliant.” Anna firmly shook her head. “You can just imagine how absolutely thrilled Mom would be about that little idea.”


Lelani smiled. “I actually thought she'd be relieved.”


“That might've been true a few months ago. But Mom's changing.” Anna poked Lelani in the arm. “In fact, I'm starting to feel jealous. I think she likes you better than me now.”


Lelani giggled. “In your dreams, Anna. Your mother just puts up with me so she can have access to Emma.”


They all laughed about that. Everyone knew that Mrs. Mendez was crazy about her soon-to-be granddaughter. Already she'd bought Emma all kinds of clothes and toys and seemed totally intent on spoiling the child rotten.


“Speaking of Emma”--Kendall shook her finger--“Mrs. Mendez is certain that she's supposed to have her on Monday. But I thought it was my day.”


“I'm not sure,” Lelani admitted. “But I'll call and find out.”


“And while you've got Granny on the line,” continued Kendall, “tell her that I do know how to change diapers properly. One more diaper lecture and I might just tape a Pamper over that big mouth of hers. Sheesh!”


They all laughed again. Since coming home from Maui, Kendall had been complaining about how Mrs. Mendez always seemed to find fault with Kendall's childcare abilities. In fact, Mrs. Mendez had spent the first week “teaching” Kendall the “proper” way to do almost everything.


To be fair, Megan didn't blame the older woman. Megan had been a little worried about Kendall too. But to everyone's surprise, Kendall turned out to be rather maternal. Whether it had to do with her own pregnancy or a hidden talent, Megan couldn't decide, but Kendall's skill had been a huge relief.


“Now, back to the wedding date,” said Lelani.


“Yes,” agreed Megan. “What about earlier on Saturday?”


“Oh, no,” Anna said. “I just remembered that I promised Edmond I'd go to his brother's bar mitzvah on that same day--I think it's in the morning.”


Lelani groaned.


“Edmond's brother?” Megan frowned. “I thought he was an only child. And since when is he Jewish?”


“Remember, his mom remarried,” Anna told her. “And Philip Goldstein, her new husband, is Jewish, and he has a son named Ben whose bar mitzvah is that Saturday.” She sighed. “I'm sorry, Lelani.”


“So Saturday morning is kaput,” Megan said.


“And Lelani wanted a sunset wedding anyway,” Anna repeated.


“So why can't you have a sunset wedding on Sunday?” Kendall suggested.


“That's an idea.” Megan turned back to Lelani. “What do you think?”


Lelani nodded. “I think that could work.”


“And here's another idea!” Anna exclaimed. “If the wedding was on Sunday night, you could probably have the reception in the restaurant afterward. I'm guessing it would be late by the time the wedding was over, and Sunday's not exactly a busy night.”


Lelani looked hopeful. “Do you think your parents would mind?”


“Mind? Are you kidding? That's what my mother lives for.”


“But we still don't have a place picked for the wedding,” Megan said.


“I have several outdoor locations in mind. I'll start checking on them tomorrow.”


“We'll have to pray that it doesn't rain.” Megan penned 'Lelani and Gil's Wedding' in her date book, then closed it.


“Should there be a backup plan?” asked Anna. “I'm sure my parents could have the wedding at their house.”


“Or here,” suggested Kendall. “You can use this house if you want.”


Anna frowned. “It's kind of small, don't you think?”


“I think it's sweet of Kendall to offer.” Lelani smiled at Kendall.


“I can imagine a bride coming down those stairs,” Kendall nodded toward the staircase. “I mean, if it was a small wedding.”


“I'll keep it in mind,” Lelani told her. “And your parents' house too.”


“It might be tricky getting a church reserved on a Sunday night,” Megan looked at the clock. “And speaking of that, I better get ready. Marcus is picking me up for the evening service in about fifteen minutes.” She turned back to Lelani. “Don't worry. I've got my to-do list and I'll start checking on some of this stuff tomorrow. My mom will want to help with the flowers.”


“And my aunt wants to make the cake,” Anna reminded them.


“Sounds like you're in good hands,” Kendall sad a bit wistfully. “I wonder how it would go if I was planning my wedding.”


“You'd be in good hands too,” Lelani assured her.


“Now, let's start going over that guest list,” Anna said as Megan stood up. “The sooner we get it finished, the less chance my mother will have of adding to it.” Megan was relieved that Anna had offered to handle the invitations. She could have them printed at the publishing company for a fraction of the price that a regular printer would charge, and hopefully she'd get them sent out in the next couple of weeks.


As Megan changed from her weekend sweats into something presentable, she wondered what would happen with Lelani's parents when it was time for the big event. Although her dad had promised to come and was already committed to paying Lelani's tuition to finish med school, Lelani's mom was still giving Lelani the cold shoulder. Make that the ice shoulder. For a woman who lived in the tropics, Mrs. Porter was about as chilly as they come. Still, Lelani had friends to lean on. Maybe that was better than family at times.


“Your prince is here,” Kendall called into Megan's room.


“Thanks.” Megan was looking for her other loafer and thinking it was time to organize her closet again. “Tell him I'm coming.”


When Megan came out, Marcus was in the dining room, chatting with her housemates like one of the family. He was teasing Anna for having her hair in curlers, then joking with Kendall about whether her Maui man had called her today.


“Not yet,” Kendall told him with a little frown. “But don't forget the time-zone thing. It's earlier there.”


“Speaking of time zones,” Lelani said to Marcus. “Did I hear you're actually thinking about going to Africa?”


Marcus grinned and nodded. “Yeah, Greg Mercer, this guy at our church, is trying to put together a mission trip to Zambia. I might go too.”


“Wow, that's a long ways away.” Kendall turned to Megan. “How do you feel about that?”


Megan shrugged as she pulled on her denim jacket. “I think it's cool.”


“Are you coming with us to church tonight, Kendall?” Marcus asked. “Greg is going to show a video about Zambia.”


“Sorry to miss that,” Kendall told him. “But Killiki is supposed to call.”


“Ready to roll?” Megan nodded up to the clock.


He grinned at her. “Yep.” But before they went out, he turned around. “That is, unless anyone else wants to come tonight.”


Lelani and Anna thanked him but said they had plans. Even so, Megan was glad he'd asked. It was nice when Kendall came with them occasionally. And Lelani had come once too. Really, it seemed that God was at work at 86 Bloomberg Place. Things had changed a lot since last fall.


“So are you nervous?” Marcus asked as he drove toward the city.


“Nervous?” Megan frowned. “About church?”


“No. The big interview.”


Megan slapped her forehead. “Wow, I temporarily forgot. We were so obsessed with Lelani's wedding today, trying to make lists, plan everything, and settle the date … I put the interview totally out of my mind.”


“Hopefully, it won't be out of your mind by Monday.”


“No, of course not.”


“So … are you nervous?”


Megan considered this. It would be her first interview for a teaching job. And it was a little unsettling. “The truth is, I don't think I have a chance at the job,” she admitted. “And, yes, I'm nervous. Thanks for reminding me.”


“Sorry. Why don't you think you'll get the job?”


“Because I don't have any actual teaching experience.” She wanted to add duh, but thought it sounded a little juvenile.


“Everyone has to start somewhere.”


“But starting in middle school, just a couple of months before the school year ends? Don't you think they'll want someone who knows what they're doing?”


“Unless they want someone who's enthusiastic and energetic and smart and creative and who likes kids and had lots of great new ideas and--”


“Wow, any chance you could do the interview in my place?”


“Cross-dress and pretend I'm you?”


She laughed. “Funny.”


“Just have confidence, Megan. Believe in yourself and make them believe too. You'd be great as a middle-school teacher.”


“What makes you so sure?”


“Because I remember middle school.”


“And?”


“And most of my teachers were old and dull and boring.”


“That's sad.”


“And I would've loved having someone like you for a teacher.”


“Really?”


He chuckled. “Yeah. If I was thirteen, I'd probably sit right in the front row and think about how hot you were, and then I'd start fantasizing about--”


“Marcus Barrett, you're pathetic.” Just the same, she laughed.


“What can I say? I'm just a normal, warm-blooded, American kid.”


“Give me a break!” She punched him in the arm.


“Is that your phone?” he asked as he was parking outside of the church.


“Oh, yeah, a good reminder to turn it off.” She pulled it out to see it was Kendall. Megan hoped nothing was wrong. “Hey, Kendall,” she said as Marcus set the parking brake. “What's up?”


“Guess what?” shrieked Kendall.


“I have no idea what, but it sounds like good news.” She stepped out of the car.


“Killiki just called.”


“That's nice.”


“And he asked me to marry him!”


Megan raised her eyebrows and looked at Marcus as he came around to meet her. “And you said yes?”


“Of course! Do you think I'm crazy?”


“No. Not at all. Congratulations, Kendall. I mean, I guess that's what you say.”


“So now we have two weddings to plan.”


Megan blinked. She walked with Marcus toward the church entry. “Oh, yeah, I guess we do.”


“And I'm getting married in June too!”


“That's great, Kendall. I'm really, really happy for you. And Killiki seems like a great guy.”


“He is! Anyway, we just looked at the calendar again. And we finally figured that I should just get married the same day as Lelani, only I'll get married in the morning. That way we'll all be able to go to both weddings.”


“Wow, the same day?”


“Otherwise, you'll be at your reunion or Marcus's sister's wedding. Or Anna will be at the bar mitzvah. Or Lelani and Gil will be on their honeymoon.”


“Oh, that's right.”


“And I want all of you there!”


“Yes, I suppose that makes sense.”


“It'll be busy, but fun.”


“Definitely.” Then Megan thanked Kendall for telling her, and they said good-bye. Megan closed her phone and just shook her head. “Wow.”


“Kendall's getting married?” asked Marcus as he held the church door open for her.


“Yes. Can you believe it?”


“Good for her.”


“And her wedding will be the same weekend as your sister's and the same day as Lelani's.”


Marcus held up three fingers and wore a perplexed expression. “Three weddings in one weekend? That's crazy.”


“Yep.” Megan nodded. “Three weddings and a bar mitzvah.”


“Huh?” Marcus looked confused, but they were in the sanctuary, and Megan knew she'd have to explain later.


©2009 Cook Communications Ministries. Three Weddings and a Bar Mitzvah by Melody Carlson. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.




Sunday, September 27, 2009

Mailbox Monday

Many thanks to Marcia at The Printed Page for hosting Mailbox Monday every week!

It is so much fun to see what everyone is getting in the mail.

Thanks for taking the time to visit ~ I just love hearing from you! Please let me know if you have read any of these books - I'd love to hear how you liked them!! :)

Here are the books that came into my house last week:

The Art of Meaningful Living by Christopher F. Brown, Art by John Palmer ~ Non-Fiction / Self-Help / Psychology ~ Received from Phenix & Phenix Literary Publicists for review
From Amazon: "Meaningful living is choosing your passions over your fears. It is accepting what you cannot control and focusing on what is in your power." Too often our meaningful lives and the things we are passionate about are buried under disappointments and lost dreams. Christopher F. Brown, LCSW, MBA, offers a powerful book combining psychological concepts with beautiful, provocative artwork done by John Palmer to help us move beyond the pain in our present lives to something more valuable and joyful. Divided into four stages, Brown has put together this thought-provoking guide to transform a life filled with dissatisfaction to a life filled with true meaning. Open to any page and begin your own journey toward a meaningful life.
Arabella by Georgette Heyer ~ Fiction / Historical Romance ~ Received from the publisher for review
From Amazon: Daughter of a modest country clergyman, Arabella Tallant is on her way to London when her carriage breaks down outside the hunting lodge of the wealthy Mr. Robert Beaumaris. Her pride stung when she overhears a remark of her host's, Arabella pretends to be an heiress, a pretense that deeply amuses the jaded Beau. To counter her white lie, Beaumaris launches her into high society and thereby subjects her to all kinds of fortune hunters and other embarrassments.

When compassionate Arabella rescues such unfortunate creatures as a mistreated chimney sweep and a mixed-breed mongrel, she foists them upon Beaumaris, who finds he rather enjoys the role of rescuer and is soon given the opportunity to prove his worth in the person of Arabella's impetuous young brother...
Enjoy Your Money! How to Make it, Save it, Invest it and Give it by J. Steve Miller ~ Non-fiction / Financial / Motivational ~ Received from the author for an upcoming WildCard Review
Most people aren't enjoying their money. Trapped in boring jobs and weighed down with debt, they can't seem to get ahead. Enjoy Your Money can help you

-get out of debt and accumulate wealth
-get ahead, even when the work you love doesn't produce big bucks
-find your strengths and passions and make a living with them
-live a more fulfilled life.

Readers love its combination of solid research with an entertaining story line, making it the ideal financial book for people who don't like financial books. One professor called it "A fast, fun read with practical and often remarkable insights." A CPA observed, "It's rare and refreshing to find a book so enjoyable, so accurate, and so life changing."
It Happened One Night ARC by Lisa Dale ~ Contemporary Romance ~ Received from the publisher for review
Lana Biel has always wanted to shake the dust of Vermont off her feet and see the world, one exotic country after another. But when a lighthearted spring fling changes her life forever, she turns to the one man whose strong shoulders can lighten any burden: her best friend, Eli Ward.

Eli has always been there for Lana--after all, that's what best friends do. But Lana isn't the only one hiding something. Eli is keeping secrets of his own that threaten their relationship. Yet as summer turns to fall, new desires awaken between them, even as old fears tear them apart. Then, when another Vermont winter fills the valleys with snow, Eli and Lana are given the chance for an adventure greater than they ever dreamed possible...and a love that will last for all time.
Knight of Pleasure (All The King's Men, Book 2) ARC by Margaret Mallory ~ Historical Romance ~ Received from the publisher for review
THE GREATEST PASSION
Lady Isobel Hume is an expert swordswoman who knows how to choose her battles. When the king asks her to wed a French nobleman to form a political alliance, she agrees. But that's before the devilishly charming Sir Stephen Carleton captures her heart-and tempts her to betray her betrothed, her king, and her country.

IS WORTH THE GREATEST PERIL
Sir Stephen Carleton enjoys his many female admirers-until he dedicates himself to winning the lovely Isobel. So when a threat against the king leads Isobel into mortal danger, Stephen has a chance to prove that he is more than a knight of pleasure...and that love can conquer all.
Last Breath (The Rayne Tour, Book 2) by Brandilyn Collins and Amberly Collins ~ Fiction / Young Adult / Inspirational ~ Received from the publisher for an upcoming WildCard Tour
From Amazon: The suspenseful and emotion-filled second book in the Rayne series begins where the first book ended…with a dying man whispering four stunning words into Shaley O’Connor’s ear. Should she believe him? After two murders on the Rayne concert tour, Shaley is reeling. But she has no time to rest. If the dying man’s claim is right, the danger is far from over. Shaley’s quest for the truth leads to the mysterious and wrenching past of her mother and father. Could what happened to them so many years ago threaten Shaley’s life now?
Once in a Blue Moon by Eileen Goudge ~ Fiction ~ Many thanks to the author and the people at One2One Network for sending me a review copy
Lindsay and Kerrie Ann are sisters who have known hardship from an early age. Without guidance from their neglectful mother, their only aid came from an unlikely source, a retired exotic dancer by the name of Miss Honi Love. When the girls’ mother was sent to prison, Miss Honi tried unsuccessfully to save them from being separated and sent into foster care.
Thirty years later, Lindsay is still trying to reconnect with her sister. The owner of a bookstore in the sleepy California seaside town of Blue Moon Bay, she was lucky enough to have been adopted by a loving couple. Unbeknownst to her, Kerrie Ann has suffered a very different life. Bounced from one foster home to the next, she ran away as a teenager before becoming a drug-addicted single mother. Now, newly sober, Kerrie Ann is fighting to regain custody of the little girl who was taken from her.

Neither sister’s expectations are met when they’re finally reunited. But as the two sisters engage in the fiercest battles of their lives, they are at last drawn together despite their differences, restoring belief in the unshakable bond of family.

The Source of Miracles by Kathleen McGowan ~ Non-Fiction / Religion / Self-Help ~ Courtesy of the publisher for an upcoming WildCard Tour
From Amazon: The real secret to creating and sustaining an abundant, joyous, and fulfilled life has been hiding in plain sight -- in the power of the prayer that unites two billion Christians worldwide, the prayer that each one of them knows by heart.

True happiness and success can't just be wished for. The real secret to fulfillment lies in using the Lord's Prayer as part of an ongoing spiritual practice that leads to real and lasting change in the soul -- change that will manifest itself in earthly, tangible ways. Each chapter in The Source of Miracles is a guide to one of seven steps in that process, corresponding to a primary teaching of the prayer: faith, surrender, service, abundance, forgiveness, obstacles, and love. Each chapter also includes meditations, affirmations, and other activities designed to help readers work through life's challenges.
Tiding of Great Boys (All About Us, Book 5) by Shelley Adina ~ Fiction / Young Adult / Inspirational ~ Courtesy of the Publisher for an upcoming WildCard Tour
From Amazon: Finals week is approaching and Mac is still undecided on where to spend the holidays. Normally she'd go home to Scotland, but spending two weeks alone in the castle with her dad isn't as appealing as it used to be. So she invites Carly, Lissa, Gillian, and Shani to join her for the holidays!
Mac is determined to make this the best Christmas ever. She even decides to organize the traditional Hogmany dance for New Year's Eve. If she can get her mother involved in the dance, maybe her parents will finally get back together.

But when Mac and the girls arrive in Scotland, they are faced with bad news: the castle is falling apart and Mac's parents are struggling financially. Not only that, but Shani is in big trouble with Prince Rashid's royal family. Can the girls find a way to celebrate the holidays, get Mac's parents back together, save the castle, and rescue Shani from her relentless pursuers? There's only one way to find out. . . .



What was in your mailbox last week??

If you would like to participate in Mailbox Monday, head over to The Printed Page and grab the logo. Make sure to visit other blogs hosting Mailbox Monday and comment/leave your link!

Review: Knight of Desire by Margaret Mallory


Knight of Desire (All the King's Men, Book 1) by Margaret Mallory
Forever (July 1, 2009) ~ 384 pages
Fiction / Historical Romance

Edition Reviewed / Special Thanks: Paperback ~ Many thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy for review!

Perfect for : Personal reading, book club read

In a nutshell: I thoroughly enjoyed this book from both the historical as well as the romantic aspect. Knight of Desire is written in a seamless manner, pulling the reader along from start to finish. The main story begins in June of 1405, in England near the Welsh border (the prologue takes place in 1400), at which time the king and prince of England, along with their armies and supporters, were fighting Welsh rebels who were trying to invade England.

Catherine, who grew up as a friend of the prince, has been passing along information to him about the rebels she has overheard during her husbands dealings with them. Her spying and betrayal of her husband ultimately results in a win for England, and the death of her husband (a win for her). Little does she know that the King has forfeited her lands and castle, giving them to William FitzAlan, also giving him the choice to send her to The Tower or marry her.

After marriage to an abusive husband, the last thing Catherine wants is another marriage the same day her husband has been found to be a traitor and is killed in battle. . . but she finds herself married and must find a way to make the best of the situation for her son.

Ultimately, this story is one of trust, something both Catherine and William need in order to make their future a success. Catherine must learn to trust that William will not abuse her in the same manner that her previous husband had. William must learn to trust Catherine, knowing that she betrayed her first husband, causing his death.

One last note. With so many details included about the fighting between the English and the Welsh rebels, I was particularly fascinated by the Welsh nobleman's treatment of Catherine when she is captured. There is a conversation in the book that talks about how she was treated well because they were nobles and they still respected her status, but if she had been captured by commoners, it would have been very different.

Overall, I loved this book. I didn't put it down until I finished it, and I look forward to the next book in the series, Knight of Pleasure, which will be the story of William's half brother Stephen (who was charming in this book!).

About the Book: (From the Publisher)

FEARLESS IN BATTLE
His surcoat still bloody from battle, William FitzAlan comes to claim the strategic borderlands granted to him by the king. One last prize awaits him at the castle gates: the lovely Lady Catherine Rayburn.

TENDER IN BED
Catherine risked everything to spy for the crown. Her reward? Her lands are declared forfeit and she is given this choice: marry FitzAlan or be taken to the Tower. Catherine agrees to give her handsome new husband her body, but she's keeping secrets, and dare not give him her heart. As passion ignites and danger closes in, Catherine and William must learn to trust in each other to save their marriage, their land, and their very lives.
Excerpt:



About the Author: (from the Publisher)
MARGARET MALLORY recently surprised her friends and family by abandoning her legal career-and her steady job-to write tales of romance and adventure. At long last, she can satisfy her passion for justice by punishing the bad and rewarding the worthy-in the pages of her novels, of course. She lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her husband and their two college-age children. KNIGHT OF DESIRE is her first book so she would dearly love to hear from readers.




If you have reviewed this book and would like me to add a link to your review, please include a link in your comment!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Review: Quilts, Baby! by Linda Kopp

Quilts, BABY! 20 Cuddly Designs to Piece, Patch & Embroider
by Linda Kopp
Lark Books (May 5, 2009) ~ 144 pages
Non-Fiction / Crafting / Quilting / Baby

Edition Reviewed / Special Thanks: Paperback - many thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy to review!

Perfect for : Personal Use, Gift for the quilter/crafter

In a nutshell: This is not your standard pink or blue fluffy bunnies and lambs baby quilt book. Instead, it has wonderful animals and designs that children (and babies) will love. The technical information contained within Quilts, BABY! was very helpful to me as a beginner in quilting using applique and piecing work. I found the directions to be easy to follow with plenty of helpful tips for saving time and making things easier. The book contains 20 designs with full color photographs, plenty of helpful illustrations and detailed instructions. Plus, the designers worked hard to design quilts that could be completed over the course of a weekend. . . for the seasoned pro and the beginner alike.

Not the biggest fan of the country feel to these quilts, with their earth tones and calico prints? Not a problem! It would be no trouble to use the patterns, making simple changes to the colors/fabric designs to give them a different feel (more modern, make them fit the color scheme of a nursery, etc) while keeping the fun aspect that will be so eye-catching.

Extended Review:
Content: From the table of contents: Introduction, Basics, [Listing of 20 projects], Templates, About the Designers, Index

Format: The Basics section contains explanations on assembling a quilt (quilt top, batting, backing), fabric, batting, thread, scissors or rotary cutting systems, sewing machine, needles for hand sewing, quilting frame, other supplies, and information on applique and embroidery supplies and tools. Next is a section on Getting Started (planning, sizing things up, using quilting charts and templates, cutting), Putting Things Together (sewing, piecing, attaching a border), Applique (fusing fabric, turning the edges, sewing the edges), Embroidery (transferring embroidery patterns, creating the stitches), a Stitch Glossary, Basting, Quilting (straight-stitch quilting, free-motion quilting, tying), and Finishing Up (binding, hanging, cleaning). Interspersed are some really great tips and tricks, as well as some facts and explanations.

Each project has a title, description, list of fabric needed (for the quilt top, appliques, backing, binding), notions and extras, and the finished size. it also has the name of the designer, plenty of pictures and illustrations, and step-by-step instructions.

Readability: The book is written for people with any level of quilting experience, and contains enough basic information to help both the novice and the expert.

Overall: A nice book with a more non-traditional take on baby quilts - with lots of shapes, animals, colors and patterns. With lots of helpful information, it may be geared more toward the beginner, but will surely provide even experts with fun projects and new ideas.

About the Book: (From the publisher's site)
Modern, innovative, and exciting: if you’ve never associated these words with baby quilts before, you will now! Here’s a collection of fresh designs that aren’t fussy, cutesy, or old-fashioned, but that still have that “aww” factor. Best of all, every one is easy to make, and most take only a weekend to complete. Try a round “Peekaboo” blankie with fanciful creatures hidden under fabric flaps, the clever two-in-one “Good Morning/Good Night” quilt, and a funny “Monkey Monkey” block quilt. Plus, there’s helpful information on choosing baby-friendly and safe materials.


If you have reviewed this book and would like me to add a link to your review, please include a link in your comment!

Review: Vickie Howell's Pop Goes Crochet by Vickie Howell

Vickie Howell's Pop Goes Crochet!: 36 Projects Inspired by Icons of Popular Culture
by Vickie Howell
Lark Books (May 5, 2009) ~ 144 pages
Non-Fiction / Crafts / Crochet

Edition Reviewed / Special Thanks: Paperback - many thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy to review!


Perfect for : Personal Use, Great gift for the crafty/crochet person in your life

In a nutshell: I've seen a few of Vickie's Knitty Gritty shows and absolutely loved them, so when I received this book, I couldn't wait to dive in and try out a few patterns. I'll start by saying they are fun and trendy, and Vickie has provided a wonderful variety of projects ranging from Beginner to Intermediate. All the designs in this book were inspired by pop culture's celebrities, including such notables as Cher, Bjork, Gwen, Giselle, Dita, Salma, etc. The projects are for all ages, including purses, hats, sweaters (children and adults), scarfs, gloves, a bikini set, poncho (Clint), shoes, belt, a shrug, lacy corset, dresses, etc. There is even a fun wire crocheted pendent with beads.

A nice plus to the book is the cover - it has a folded edge that allows you to "bookmark" the page you are on while working on a project.

The only thing that would really make this book better would be a section actually showing the basic crochet stitches. As a crocheter/knitter/craft person, I generally know what I'm doing, but occasionally have to jump online and "remind" myself how to do a certain stitch. On her website, she does include the basic instructions.

(The picture is of my wonderful niece, wearing the Beret from page 94, which I knitted over the course of two days off-and-on)

Extended Review:
Content: The book includes an Introduction, and the patterns/projects are broken down into five sections, and are followed by a section of helpful tips (yarn weight chart, abbreviations, crochet hook equivalents, etc). The Sections are: Rebels (Dita, Marc, Sean, Bettie, David, Johnny), Icons (Esther, Clint, Serena, Grace, Doris (see example below of green scarf), Shirley), Fashionistas (Anna, Vera, Giselle, Yohji, Betsey, Harlow, Paris, Heidi), Starlets (Angelina, Gwyneth, Mary-Kate, Cameron, Dakota, Drew, Helena, Salma, Sandra, Kate) and Rockers (Cher, Madge, Bjork, Erykah, Selena, Gwen)

Format: Each project includes a little description, the difficulty level, size information, finished measurements, a list of items you will need, the stitches used and the gauge. These lists are followed by the detailed instructions. Each project has at least one full-color photograph, and many include multiple photos.

Readability: The instructions are fairly easy to follow, and seem to be consistent with the difficulty rating. Having plenty of pictures help as you can compare your project to them.

Overall: This is a fun and trendy crochet book that has plenty of projects to choose from. All of these projects could be created for gifts or personal use.

About the Book ~ From the Publisher's Press Website:
(The project shown to the left can be found on pages 50-51, as well as on Vickie's blog)Needlework dynamo Vickie Howell is back with a high-spirited, playful collection of goodies to crochet. Vickie Howell’s Pop Goes Crochet! pays creative tribute to popular culture past and present with 40 projects inspired by celebrities in fashion, music, film, and television. Howell has whipped up a spectacular array of hip clothing, jewelry, and accessories, ranging from an intriguing “Yohji” asymmetrical sweater (in homage to designer Yohji Yamamoto) to a funky striped “Cameron” hoodie with the laid-back California style of actress Cameron Diaz. Everything’s fashionable and as fun to make as it is to wear.
About the Author: (From the Vickie Howell's website)
A self-proclaimed crafty gRRRL, Vickie Howell has been involved in the creative arts for as long as she can remember.

Before becoming the mother of two boys, she worked in the entertainment industry at companies including International Creative Management (ICM) and Alliance Atlantis Entertainment.

Post motherhood, she’s acted as owner, designer, web-mistress and CEO of three craft-based businesses. Mamarama, founded in 2001, offered cool hand-made garb for hip moms and their kids. In 2003, after relocating to Austin, Texas, Vickie co-founded Ruby Goes Retro (RgR) with her sister-in-law. RgR furnished hipsters worldwide with authentic, embellished and inspired by vintage clothing and accessories. In 2005 she founded VickieHowell.com under her company Vickie Howell, Inc., as a homebase for her many crafty endeavors. Networking for her businesses lead her to nine other crafty entrepreneurs and, together, they co-founded Austin Craft Mafia (ACM), an organization whose sole purpose is to promote and support independent, female-run, craft based businesses.

In efforts to do her part in the mobilization of the feminist-based knitting movement, she founded successful chapters of the irreverent but socially conscious knitting group Stitch n’ Bitch, in Los Angeles, CA and Austin, TX. Vickie’s on a personal quest to assist in breaking the negative social stigma that knitting and crafting have attached to them by bringing more recognition to the hip, creative and edgy sides of these forms of expression.

Currently, Vickie can be seen on the DIY Do-it-Yourself Network as the host of the successful knitting series, Knitty Gritty, which is currently airing all 8 seasons; and on the new Lifetime Television web series, Crafted. Her DIY Network 1-hour special, Knitty Gritty Knitsters, airs in July 2008. In 2006, she and her ACM partners debuted Stylelicious, another series for DIY that focuses on edgy, hand-made fashion.

Vickie, her projects, and her businesses have been featured in such mediums as: The Today Show; USA Today; Tease!: 50 T-shirt Projects from Superstars of Art, Crafts & Design; E! Network's Singled Out; BBC Radio Scotland; TV Guide; Interweave Knits Magazine; Knitty.com; BUST Magazine; DIY Jewelry Making; Weekend Entertaining, Real Simple Magazine; and “Celebrity Scarves II” book. She also writes a regular celebrity column for Vogue Knitting’s Knit.1 Magazine, an Eco-Craft column in the healthy parenting magazine, KIWI, and is the Knitting Editor for CraftGossip.com. In October 2005 her first book, New Knits on the Block: A Guide to Knitting What Your Kids Really Want, hit shelves and was nominated for a Craft Trends Magazine Award of Excellence. In June 2006 came her second book, Not Another Teen Knitting Book, followed by her 3rd book, Knit Aid: A How-to Helper for the Knitter on the Go, which debuted in May 2008. Coming from Vickie in 2009 and 2010, are three more books: Pop Goes Crochet, Eco-Stitch (co-written with Adrienne Armstrong), and Craft Corps.



If you have reviewed this book and would like me to add a link to your review, please include a link in your comment!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Review: Hip Handbags by Valerie Van Arsdale Shrader



Hip Handbags: Creating & Embellishing 40 Great-Looking Bags by Valerie Van Arsdale Shrader
Lark Books (March 3, 2009) ~ 128 pages
Non-Fiction / Crafts / Sewing / Handbags




Edition Reviewed / Special Thanks: Paperback - many thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy to review!

Perfect for : Personal Use, Gift for a crafty person

In a nutshell: Hip Handbags is a fun and helpful book that will provide instructions to make 40 handbags, all based on seven basic bag designs (Messenger, Clutch, Tote, Tuck, Flirt, Vessel, Traveler).

The book includes helpful sections designed to give the reader some basic information on fabric, bag style, design, embellishment, preparations, and sewing basics. All of these are helpful in completing the included projects, as well as giving the reader the ability to veer off and start creating their own handbags based on the basic bag styles.

Extended Review:
Content: The book includes an Introduction, Design Your Bag, Handbag Basics, Beautify Your Bag, Embellished Bags, Prepare to Sew, Sewing 101, Project Key, Meet the Hip Handbags (Sections for projects under each of the seven handbag types: Messenger, Clutch, Tote, Tuck, Flirt, Vessel, Traveler), a Gallery of Totally Hip Handbags, Metric Conversion Chart, Meet the Designers, Acknowledgements, Index and Artist Index

Format: The informative sections prior to the actual projects are very helpful, providing some great basic information that I found particularly helpful (I am not a novice to sewing, but I'm close). Each project includes: a title, a Hip Index, the bag pattern the project is based on, a list of special materials or tools, fabric suggestions, a section that tells how the project differs from the basic pattern, hot tips, cool alternatives, and helpful tips for sewing. There are plenty of illustrations and photographs to help in understanding what to do.

Readability: With the included instructions, pictures and illustrations, the projects seem fairly easy to follow, and look like they will have great results.

Overall: This book provides crafty people with some very creative designs for handbags, all based on seven primary designs, and shows how changing small elements like the handle can give the handbag an all-new look. I love the designs in this book and can't wait until I've got the time to sit down and make some of them.

About the Book: (From the publisher)
Now it’s easier than ever to make your totes totally chic! Forty projects offer a wide variety of fabulous choices featuring great fabrics and design options, including novelty threads, raffia ribbon, straps made of jeweled necklaces and bracelets, embroidery, and more. Crafters will find 25 simple sewing projects, all originating from seven basic patterns, ranging from a flat folding purse to a pocketbook made from iridescent ruched silk. Another 15 designs use plain store-bought bags as a canvas for creative embellishments, such as transforming a simple black clutch with elegant silk flowers.
Examples from the Book:
















About the Author: (From Amazon)
Valerie Van Arsdale Shrader works as an editor and is the author of Fun & Fabulous Curtains to Sew 9781579907945, Stylish Skirts 9781579907242 and many other books.




If you have reviewed this book and would like me to add a link to your review, please include a link in your comment!

Review and Tour: Laced With Magic by Barbara Bretton (Excerpt Included)

Laced with Magic by Barbara Bretton
Berkley Trade (August 4, 2009) ~ 352 pages
Fiction / Contemporary Romance / Paranormal Romance

Edition Reviewed / Special Thanks: Paperback ~ Many thanks to the author, publisher, and Dorothy of Pump Up Your Book Promotions for sending me a review copy.


Perfect for : Personal reading, Book club read, Take it on a vacation, Read it during a commute

In a nutshell: Laced with Magic is a fun and entertaining story of half-human, half-sorceress Chloe Hobbs, as told from three viewpoints: Chloe, Luke (her boyfriend) and Karen (Luke's ex-wife). Set in the picturesque town of Sugar Maple, Vermont. The town is full of witches, werewolves, shapeshifters and faeries, among other non-human beings. Thanks to a protection spell cast by one of Chloe's ancestors, the townsfolks differences have been overlooked by the outside world.

Chloe is in love with Luke, the town's sherrif, and the only full human to live in Sugar Maple. Things seem to be going well. . . until Luke's ex-wife shows up in town looking for some help. She is being called on the phone by their daughter. . . who is dead. . . and who's spirit is being held hostage by Isadora, the Fae leader who has been banished (in book one of the series Casting Spells). While still learning about her magic, Chloe must make a risky decision - to help Luke and Karen's daughter by bringing Isadora back, or leaving their daughter's spirit in the hands of the cruel Isadora.

I really enjoyed the gentle romance, humor, and challenges faced by the characters in this story. It was also an interesting twist to read the story from the three different perspectives, each adding bits and pieces to the story overall. One thing to note: this is the second book in the series, and Barbara Bretton has done a wonderful job of filling readers in on what has happened so far, but there is at least one more book following this one. This one has a great ending, but certainly leads up to the next book!

About the Book: (From Pump Up Your Book Promotions)


Knit shop owner and sorcerer’s daughter Chloe Hobbs felt the Fates finally got it right when she met Luke MacKenzie. And no one could have convinced her otherwise—including the trolls, selkies, or spirits who also call Sugar Maple, Vermont, home. But then out of nowhere Luke’s ex-wife suddenly shows up, claiming to see the spirit of their daughter, Steffie—a daughter Chloe knows nothing about.

Steffie’s spirit is being held hostage by a certain Fae leader. And if Chloe weaves a spell to free her spirit, her nemesis will also be free—free to destroy her yarn shop and all of Sugar Maple. But if she doesn’t, Steffie won’t be the only one spending eternity in hell. Chloe’ll be joining her, cursed with a broken heart.

Excerpt: (From Pump Up Your Book Promotions)
Chloe

Did you ever have the feeling that you were exactly where you were meant to be, that the Fates had finally got it right and the rest of your life was going to be clear sailing? That was how I felt the first time Luke MacKenzie and I kissed: like I was seeing the world through new eyes.

The first time our hands touched over a basket of alpaca roving, sparks flew. Bright silver-white sparks that shot from our fingertips and lit up the night. It was every love story I had ever read, every romantic movie I had ever wept over, all of my hopes and dreams wrapped up into one tall, dark, and handsome package. It didn’t even matter that he was one hundred percent human and I was the daughter of a sorceress. I believed that now that I had finally found love, the rest would fall into place like magick.

Crazy? I wouldn’t bet against it. Despite all of the evidence to the contrary, I still believed I was on my way to the storybook happy ending none of the women in my family had ever managed to achieve.

I mean, I even made a sweater for him and every knitter on the planet knows you never knit a sweater for the one you love until you had the ring on your finger.

What was I thinking?

I guess the truth is I wasn’t thinking at all. All those romantic movies and novels I had devoured over the years hadn’t prepared me for the real thing. Luke and I had gone from zero to sixty in a nanosecond, from strangers to lovers to living together in less time than it took most people to shake hands.

But then this wasn’t the real world. It just looked like it.

By the way, I’m Chloe Hobbs, knit shop owner and de facto mayor of Sugar Maple, a tiny little town tucked between two mountains in the northwest corner of Vermont. We’re a classic New England hamlet, famous for scenic views and great shopping but, trust me, there’s more going on in Sugar Maple than meets the eye.

Up until Luke, a former police detective from Boston, showed up in early December to investigate the drowning death of his friend Suzanne Marsden, I had been the only resident human. Well, half human to be precise but without magick the sorceress side of my lineage hardly mattered.

Remember the old TV show The Munsters? Marilyn was the all-American blonde who stuck out like a sore thumb in her family of irregulars. I guess you could say that was the part I played here in Sugar Maple. When the real world came calling, I was the one who answered.

And even I had to admit I was the logical choice.

A tenth generation witch owns the Cut & Curl across the street from my knit shop. The hardware store is run by the sweetest family of werewolves you’ll ever meet. The Sugar Maple Arts Playhouse is under the direction of shape shifters who serve as their own repertory company. Faeries keep the Inn’s restaurant fully booked and I guess it wouldn’t surprise you to learn that the town funeral parlor belongs to a happily married couple who happen to be vampire.

And that doesn’t count the trolls, selkies, goblins, sprites, spirits, and mountain giants who call our town home.

The unexpected success of my yarn shop had brought even more attention to Sugar Maple than our white picket fences and picturesque village green. My shop had been rated New England’s number one knitting destination two years running and if the blogosphere had anything to do with it, we were about to make it three for three. A protective spell cast over our town by one of my ancestors made it possible for us to hide in plain sight but when that spell started wearing down last year—well, that was when the troubles really started.

My ancestor Aerynn had fled Salem during the infamous witch hunts and found sanctuary here with other outcasts in search of a home. Aerynn was a sorceress, and she expressed her gratitude by casting a protective charm over Sugar Maple designed to keep the village safe from the sharp eyes of the real world as long as one of her female descendants walked the earth.

I was the last descendant of Aerynn and, in the eyes of almost everyone in town, pretty much of a loser. Oh, they loved me but I don’t think even my closest friends believed I would ever come through for Sugar Maple. I mean, I was almost thirty years old with no husband, no kid, and no magic. Even worse, I had no prospects of any kind. The only thing I had going for me was the ability to knit and spin like my foremothers, but even I didn’t think I could stockinette my way out of the mess the town was in.

And then Luke showed up and everything changed.

Who would have guessed that love would trigger my inner sorceress and awaken powers I didn’t know existed. Suddenly I had everything I had ever dreamed about: magick and love and enough yarn to last ten lifetimes.

And who would have guessed it wouldn’t be close to enough to save us.

About the Author: (From Pump Up Your Book Promotions)

Barbara Bretton is the USA Today bestselling, award-winning author of more than 40 books. Her most recent title, Laced With Magic, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. She currently has over ten million copies in print around the world and have been translated into twelve languages in over twenty countries.

Barbara has been featured in articles in The New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Romantic Times, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Herald News, Home News, Somerset Gazette,among others, and has been interviewed by Independent Network News Television, appeared on the Susan Stamberg Show on NPR, and been featured in an interview with Charles Osgood of WCBS, among others.

Her awards include both Reviewer’s Choice and Career Achievement Awards from Romantic Times; Gold and Silver certificates from Affaire de Coeur; the RWA Region 1 Golden Leaf; and several sales awards from Bookrak. Ms. Bretton was included in a recent edition of Contemporary Authors.

Barbara loves to spend as much time as possible in Maine with her husband, walking the rocky beaches and dreaming up plots for upcoming books.

You can visit Barbara’s website at www.barbarabretton.com, her blog at http://bmafb.blogspot.com or connect with her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/barbarbretton.com.


If you have reviewed this book and would like me to add a link to your review, please include a link in your comment!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Review: Salty Sweets by Christie Matheson (Excerpt)


Salty Sweets: Delectable Desserts and Tempting Treats with a Sublime Kiss of Salt
by Christie Matheson
Harvard Common Press (August 15, 2009) ~ 144 pages
Non-Fiction / Cooking / Desserts



Edition Reviewed / Special Thanks: Hardback - I received this book from the Amazon Vine review program.

Perfect for : Personal Use, Hostess Gift, Great book for the dessert-lover in your life

In a nutshell: I am one of those people, that if given the choice between a savory appetizer or a decadent dessert I will definitely choose the dessert! And right now, I want nothing more than to make a few of the desserts from Salty Sweets by Christie Matheson. In this book, she has created a collection of 75 classic recipes with a twist of salt. . . many with full page, full color photographs.
Some of the scrumptious recipe titles that I can't wait to try: Salty-Sweet S'mores, Old-Fashioned Kettle Corn, Lemon Sugar Cookies with Zesty Lime Salt, Lavender Fleur de Sel Shortbread (see excerpt below for picture and recipe), Mini Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Buttercream Frosting, Maple Creme Brule, Watermelon Sorbet, Bittersweet Chocolate Ice Cream

Extended Review:
Content: Acknowledgements, Prelude to a Kiss (of Salt), Salt Primer, Little Treats, Cookies and Bars, Cakes and Cupcakes, Puddings and More, Fruits, Ice Creams and Sorbets, Sauces and Other Good Stuff, Measurement Equivalents, Index
I found some of the notes on techniques and salt types to be very helpful (tempering eggs, fleur de sel, smoked sea salt, etc).

Format: Each section of the book starts with a listing of the recipes and page numbers, as well as a full-page color photograph of one of the recipes. Then, each recipe has a title with how many servings/pieces the recipe makes. This is followed by a description, the ingredients, and the directions. Many of the recipes include full page/color photographs, and some include extra tips at the end of the recipe.

Readability: These recipes are easy to follow, and are often similar to the classic recipes with a few small changes or tweaks to enhance the flavor.

Overall: A very nice book for the dessert lover who likes to create scrumptious and tempting things right in their own kitchen. This would also be a great book for a person who likes to entertain as many of the desserts are elegant in appearance.

About the Book ~ From the Back Cover:
Do opposites really attract? In the case of salty and sweet, you bet they do! Like peanut butter and jelly—itself a classic salty-sweet duo—these tastes were made for each other. Salt helps balance and heighten sweets, transforming ordinary cookies, cakes, and candies into truly special confections. It brings out the complexities of chocolate, highlights the subtleties of fruit, makes nuts really pop, and turns caramel and butterscotch into pure ambrosia. The salty-sweet combination has swept the nation, with chefs, candy makers, and retailers all offering tantalizing sweets complemented with salt.

Salty Sweets is the first cookbook to bring the phenomenon home. Christie Matheson offers 75 delectable ways to enjoy this tasty twosome, proving along the way that salty sweets are not the sole province of fancy chefs and trendy chocolatiers. Seven recipe chapters cover every sort of treat, from little bites to cookies, bars, cakes, puddings, fruit desserts, and even ice creams. Readers can make their own version of those salted caramels found in upscale boutiques, along with such sophisticated fare as Maple Crème Brûlée, Lavender Fleur de Sel Shortbread, Fig and Ricotta Pizza, and Nantucket Sea Salt Ice Cream. Or how about the homey goodness of Old-Fashioned Kettle Corn and Decadent Hot Cocoa? And who could resist Dark Chocolate–Covered Pretzels, Butterscotch Brownies, Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting, or Caramel-Fudge Sauce? Tempting color photos will send cooks straight to the kitchen to try these treats for themselves.

An introductory chapter outlines the basics—equipment, ingredients, and techniques—of successful sweet making. The author discusses all kinds of salts—from fleur de sel to Maldon to Hawaiian pink to smoked and more, each with its own distinctive flavor and texture; Matheson encourages readers to sample the wealth of exotic and rare salts available today.

Celebrate the happy marriage of sweet and salt with these irresistible creations. It’s a match made in dessert heaven!


About the Author: (From the publisher's site)

Christie Matheson is the author of Green Chic: Saving the Earth in Style and the coauthor of Wine Mondays, The Confetti Cakes Cookbook, Confetti Cakes for Kids, Tea Party, and Vineyard Harvest. She is a regular contributor to publications including The Boston Globe Magazine, Cooking Light, Boston, Yankee, Body + Soul, Yoga Journal, Continental, San Francisco, and DailyCandy.com. For two years she hosted a weekly television segment called “Trend Tracker” on the UPN Morning Show, and she is a frequent guest on the television show Chronicle as well as on Martha Stewart Radio. Matheson lives in San Francisco, California, and Boston, Massachusetts.



If you have reviewed this book and would like me to add a link to your review, please include a link in your comment!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Tuesday Thinger: Wish Upon a Wish List of Books!

Welcome to another week of Tuesday Thingers! We always love to hear from regular participants as well as new people.

This week's Thinger topic comes from Caite, over at A Lovely Shore Breeze, who was SO wonderful ~ she came up with a suggestion and even helped me understand how it works, so a HUGE Thank You goes out to Caite!! (This post on She Is Too Fond Of Books gave her the idea.)

This week, we have another way to track our ever-expanding Wish Lists! Through the use of "Collections" you can add a book to your Wishlist without adding it to your Library. How do you do this?? Easy!!

1. Go to the tab marked Add Books
2. Type in the Title, ISBN, etc
3. When you see the book listed, click the Edit Book option
4. Just under the section where you can add tags, you will see a Collections topic, click the button that says Show All
5. Un-check Your Library (removes it from your current books), and check the box next to Wishlist
6. Hit Save, and you are done!

So now you ask, "Now What???"

1.Well. . . you can also add where you saw/heard of the book under Private Comments (when editing the book details), which are only viewable by you. (You can even include a link to a review if you want to!)
2. I believe you can share your Wishlist with friends and relatives by posting the permalink online or including it in an email (to do this, go to Your Books, change the Your Library drop down list to Wishlist and scroll to the bottom. There is a little linky that says permanent link, and if you click on that it changes the address and you can copy/paste it wherever you want to put it!!

Questions: Have you explored/used the Wishlist collection on Library Thing yet? If so, have you found it helpful? Do you have any other tips or uses for the Wishlist collection? Any suggestions for next week's topic?

My Answer:
Until Caite had suggested the Wishlist as a topic, I hadn't really explored it very much. I remember when the people at Library Thing made the Collections feature available. . . but other than a glance at it, I haven't really explored it.

This does make for a really nice way to track all those books I end up saying - "I've GOT to read that. . .now where is that pesky list. . . " especially as I read reviews, visit Mailbox Monday posts, read great Teasers, etc. :)

Looking forward to reading everyone's answers!!

~ Wendi

If you are new to Tuesday Thingers: Welcome! The meme was originally created as a way to network with other bloggers and to learn about Library Thing! I'd like to encourage you to join us. If you don't know what Library Thing is - you are in a great place to learn about new things, and if you are an old pro, stick around and share your wealth of information! Visit Library Thing here. To join in, copy the picture and question into your post and link back here so people can read other responses. Make sure you leave a comment here with a link to your post so we can stop by! If you don't have a blog, feel free to leave a comment here!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
 

Web Site Hit Counter
Amazing Counters