Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Review: A Regency Holidy & Wyoming Bride

A Regency Holiday by Allison Lane

Four novellas focusing on the Christmas season set during the Regency period in England.

Coventry's Christmas by Rebecca Hagan Lee
Suffolk, Buckinghamshire, and London in England, December 1813

Star of Wonder by Lynn Kerstan
North Yorkshire Dales, December 1819

A Christmas Homecoming by Susan Pace
December 1814

Home for Christmas by Alicia Rasley
Near Plymouth, December 1818

This Regency Christmas collection is a swift read to enjoy during the month of December. The author capture various Regency themes, such as, step-parents, soldiers, wards, turns of fortune, etc. Each novella is distinct and differ from each other so the reader cannot be bored reading the same themes over and over again in one book.

Reviewed from a NetGalley copy. Thank you, Bell Bridge Books!


Wyoming Bride: A Bitter Creek Novel by Joan Johnston

Wyoming Bride is the second novel in Johnston's newest series Mail-Order Brides. Wyoming Bride is also a continuation of her Bitter Creek series.

Wyoming Bride follows the lives of the Wentworth siblings, specifically Hannah. (Miranda Wentworth was featured in Texas Bride, Mail-Order Brides Book 1.) Hannah desires to save the rest of her siblings, Hetty and Josie, from the orphanage. She jumps in and becomes a mail-order bride. Hannah believes marriage to McMurtry will keep her family together. Unfortunately, the Oregon Trail is not an easy road to travel.

Johnston writes a fun and adventurous western. If you're unfamiliar with her stories, this book can be enjoyed by itself. Johnston throws in enough detail that the reader isn't floundering in unknown information. The author's note at the end of the book is well put together. Joan invites the reader to anticipate her next Mail-Order Bride book and encourages readers to enjoy her previous books before the next one arrives.

Reviewed from a NetGalley copy. Thank you, Random House Publishing Group!

Why is this in my Christmas reviews? They mention Christmas, of course! The Creeds traveled to Cheyenne to purchase Christmas gifts. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Review: Lily's Plight

Lily's PlightLily's Plight by Sally Laity

Sally Laity and Dianna Crawford's final book of the Daughters of Harwood House series is Lily's Plight. The previous novels were Rose's Pledge (Book 1) and Mariah's Quest (Book 2).

As indentured servants Rose went to the wildness, Mariah went to a plantation, and Lily went to a farming community on the edge of the wilderness. Lily's roll was to care for the family's children and watch over John's ailing and beloved wife, Susan. After Mariah's wedding, Lily's freedom could have been bought, but Lily wanted to stay with the Waldons. She wanted to fulfill her contract and she wanted to remain close to those she loved. Life becomes complicated as the French and Indian War draws closer to the settlement and John worries for his family's safety. Lily remains firm to watch over her young charges in the face of grave danger.

Out of the three Daughters of Harwood House books, Lily's Plight is my favorite. The timeline isn't as rushed or drawn out to cover a long range of time. Laity and Crawford address the dangers of battle and how families in the early settlements needed to work together to succeed. The struggle with faith, love, and family are woven throughout the novel. It was a beautiful conclusion to the Harwood family.

Reviewed from a NetGalley copy. Thank you, Barbour Publishing, Inc.!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Christmas Review: Kisses, Ciphers, & Dinosaurs

The Five KissesThe Five Kisses by Karla Darcy

Christmas traditions vary with each family. Gillian's family always put up a kissing bough during their holiday celebrations.

Darcy's novella highlights Gillian's life with five kisses from the neighbor boy. It's not five kisses in a row, but five kisses every few years. Life changes, but something remain the same, included friends and neighbors. It's a sweet, short holiday read.

Reviewed from a Kindle copy.


The Secret Christmas CiphersThe Secret Christmas Ciphers by Carolynn Carey

Abigail waited to wed Derek, but he never returned home. When he finally came back for her, she agreed to wed him, but with a bitter heart. Derek came back with a bad reputation and secrets. He wants to return to a time where Abigail loved him, but too many secrets need to be kept for King and country.

Carey's Regency romance is also a mystery that brings the couple closer together and farther apart as they discover each other's secrets. The novel concludes at Christmas with a happy ending. The epilogue jumps to the future (2075) and the discovery of old ciphers from the book. That was strange and bit out of place. I prefer historical fiction novels that remain in their respective time period (unless the preface is the future or modern times and the future/modern times returns at the end).

Reviewed from a Kindle copy.


Dinosaur vs. SantaDinosaur vs. Santa by Bob Shea

ROAR! Dinosaur returns to see if he can tackle the holiday season and Santa Claus. Roar! Roar! ROAR!

If you are familiar with Bob Shea's Dinosaur, you know the delightful silliness and joy of shouting ROAR between every dinosaur action. If this is your first Dinosaur book, jump in and give a big shout!

Shea's books are short, but to the point and packed with fun for all ages of readers. This holiday read will be great for rambunctious readers who don't want to cuddle and read by firelight or tree-light. I would recommend reading it at the beginning or middle of the day vs. at the end of the day. Save Dinosaur vs. Bedtime for the end of the day.

Reviewed from a library copy.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge 2012

Today is the first day of The True Book Addict's Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge 2012! The reading challenge goes 'til January 6, 2013 (Twelfth Night or Epiphany). That's over a month of holiday reading to read and review. I hope to surpass the number of reads (and movies) that I enjoyed last year. (My round-up list is available here.) If you would like to join the challenge, sign up at The True Book Addict's blog. Happy holiday reading, friends!

Reviews: Christmas Wombat and Who Built the Stable?

The Christmas WombatThe Christmas Wombat by Jackie French

Jackie French brings back the Australian wombat for a Christmas caper! Our wombat friends likes to eat, sleep, and scratch. He smells his favorite food - carrots and follows strange new creatures to carrots all over the world!

A simple and sweet story that doesn't hold a heavy holiday theme. The light touch highlights Santa, reindeer, and traveling in one night, but the main theme is a day with a wombat.

Reviewed from a library copy.


Who Built the Stable?: A Nativity PoemWho Built the Stable?: A Nativity Poem by Ashley Bryan

The art of poetry and the art of painting explode in this new Christmas story about the birth of Jesus. The paintings were rendered in tempera and acrylic to create a vibrant story that describes a little boy's journey to see the newborn King. This young sheepherder and carpenter helped to build a stable then invited Mary and Joseph a place to stay the night of the Census.

Poetry is a great way to tell a story. It's beauty blends well with the bright colors. Children and adults will be charmed by this story.

Reviewed from a library copy.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Review: Twice Promised

Twice PromisedTwice Promised by Maggie Brendan

The Olsen sisters traveled to America to begin a new life. The eldest, Catharine, married Peter in Wyoming. The middle sister, Greta, fell in love with a soldier named Bryan. Unfortunately, it wasn't to be. Greta answered an ad for a mail-order bride and traveled to Central City, Colorado to find a new life for herself. What a surprise to find another mail-order bride and an unsuspecting groom. Oh, how mischievous siblings can be!

Brendan picks up where her first Blue Willows Brides book, Deeply Devoted, ends. Greta's story is sad, predictable, but a bit unexpected as well. It's an enjoyable read with a hind of the youngest Olsen's story at the end. The additional mail-order bride and a mischievous brother add flair, humor, and depth to the story. Other city characters add additional depth to Brendan's tale. I would enjoy a companion piece about the Cartwright family and I look forward to Anna Olsen's mail-order bride story.

Time Period: Western, 1888
Location: Central City, Colorado, United States

Reviewed from a library copy.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Review Secret Letters

Secret LettersSecret Letters by Leah Scheier
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Welcome to the Victorian age of England, the time of Sherlock Holmes, long dresses, and the hope of answers. Unfortunately, our lead character's dream of finding her father, solving her cousin's love letter problems and becoming a detective are slowly moving out of her hands. Luckily, she meets a young detective and they join forces to find some answers even if they cannot connect with her father.

I prefer historical fiction to modern time novels, so this book was a treasure to find. It read similar to Y. S. Lee's historical fiction pieces that I greatly enjoyed. If you enjoyed The Agency series by Y.S. Lee, this novel will also hold you in its grip as well. If you haven't read The Agency, this is an excellent start to historical mystery with a strong female lead. I am greatly looking forward to future stories about Dora by Leah Scheier.

Reviewed from a NetGalley copy. Thank you, Disney Book Group!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Review: What I Didn't Say

What I Didn't SayWhat I Didn't Say by Keary Taylor

One stupid night can change your life.

Everyone was partying and Jake wanted to tell his crush that he loves her. His friends record his drunken words then pile into a car to go to Samantha Shay's house. Under the influence, they never made it. Jake awakens in the hospital with no voice and big regrets.

Jake's vocal chords are gone. He will never speak again. His mother gives him notebooks to communicate. Jake uses them and tries to learn American Sign Language. A surprise is the new class schedule that will give Jake more time with his crush Samantha Shay.

I was impressed by the overall clean read. (Clean is relative to each reader, of course.) Some of the situations could be a bit over the top but it was amazingly believable. The teens were regular teens who play football, follow rules, break rules, plan for prom, go to class, etc.

Jake's growth was very interesting to follow. His life took a 180 turn and he records his time by the big events in his life. First it's all about the future, then it's about recovering from the accident, then it shifts to Samantha as they become closer and closer.

Reviewed from a NetGalley copy. Thank you, Keary Taylor!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Review: Kill My Softly

Kill Me SoftlyKill Me Softly by Sarah Cross

I always look forward to reading a new fairytale story. I knew Kill My Softly was rewritten tales and the font captured my interest. The bloody rose did not inspire me to read the book. If you're put off by the cover, open the book and start reading!

Sarah Cross weaves together several fairytales, both well-known and obscure. Those who live the life of a fairytale character are marked with a sign. Nothing happens until they turn sixteen. On their sixteenth birthday, their tales begin to take shape in their lives.

Cross focuses on only a few of the characters who live in Beau Rivage. The main character is Mirabelle who is discovering the history and stories in Beau Rivage. I was familiar with the stories Cross chose, but she also kept me on my reading toes. The reveal at the end was breathtaking.

So far, Kill My Softly is a standalone piece. Mirabelle's story (for the most part) is concluded. I still wonder about the other characters who came alive in this novel. I think Cross would have a fantastic Beau Rivage series if she shared the fates of her other fairytale characters. I anxiously await more stories!

Reviewed from a library copy.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Review: Graphic Novels

During the summer months, I love to read graphic novels. I enjoy a few during the school year months, but it seems that graphic novels collect on my to-read shelf more during June, July, and August. Recently, I picked up Lunch Lady and the Mutant Mathletes, Tower of Treasure, and Nursery Rhyme Comics from my local library. These three stories are vastly different, but equally enjoyable.

Lunch Lady and the Mutant Mathletes (Lunch Lady, #7)Lunch Lady and the Mutant Mathletes by Jarrett J. Krosoczka The Breakfast Bunch along with the loveable lunch ladies of Thompson Brook school return with another unbelieveable adventure! Principal Hernandez asks Dee, Hector, and T to join the Mathletes. Reluctantly, they follow the principal's request and discover a local school rivalry.

I always look forward to Krosoczka's Lunch Lady books. The Lunch Lady is encouraging with the students at school. She also unveils new and hilarious weaponry to save the Breakfast Bunch. For followers of the Babymouse seris, these books are an excellent addition to read.

Tower of TreasureTower of Treasure by Scott Chantler Dessa is a traveling acrobat who is on the lookout for her twin brother. He was taken years ago and it's her mission to be reunited with her family. She mistakes a stranger for the kidnapper and ruins the traveling circus show. The boss sends her out to find food and money to make up for the lost of profit. Her co-workers help her out, but also land everyone into more trouble.

Chantler doesn't fill the pages with needless conversation or sound effects. He lets the art speak for itself. His series will appeal to elementary and middle school children. Especially if they enjoy adventure during the medieval period. I look forward to the next book in the Three Thieves series.

Nursery Rhyme Comics: 50 Timeless Rhymes from 50 Celebrated CartoonistsNursery Rhyme Comics: 50 Timeless Rhymes from 50 Celebrated Cartoonists by Chris Duffy Nursery rhymes stand strong on their own. Offering the art of celebrated cartoonists adds a wonderful, unique twist that will make this book a popular choice for children and adults. Some rhymes will be familiar and others will be new. The introduction by Leonard Marcus and the editor's note by Chris Duffy add beautiful depth to understanding the history of nursery rhymes.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Review: Sew Iconic

Sew IconicSew Iconic by Liz Gregory

 Fashion is more than people wearing cloth. Fashion offers a statement and a feeling. On a bad day, I prefer yoga pants and a comfortable t-shirt. When I go out on the town, I hem and haw over what fantastic outfit I want to wear. Fashion is good feeling.

Liz Gregory shares classic fashion icons with sewers. She shares more than just a pattern and sewing tips. Gregory shares information about the actress, the movie, the designer and the dress. With all the work put into these classic looks, the details should not be overlooked! No need to worry about this pattern book containing only text, the author includes photographs, illustrations and movie stills to highlight the narration and instructions. Any sewer, amateur or professional, will enjoy this book.

Happy sewing, everyone!

Reviewed from Baker & Taylor Publishing Group via NetGalley

Thursday, April 12, 2012

It's D.E.A.R. Day!

April 12th is a heartwarming day for many librarians, teachers, and readers. It is Beverly Cleary's birthday! In honor of her, people everywhere are celebrating D.E.A.R. Day - a day to Drop Everything And Read! I plan to do a bit of reading myself today and hope you do, too.

If you are unfamiliar with Cleary's works, her characters include Ramona Quimby, Henry Higgins, and Ralph S. Mouse. I would highly recommend reading (or re-reading) her books. My favorites include Muggie Maggie and The Luckiest Girl. If you like to tweet, share what you've been reading today with the hashtag #DEAR_Day. Happy reading, friends!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Review: Cradle Me

Cradle Me by Debby SlierCradle Me by Debby Slier by Debby Slier

Cradle boards are used by Native American mothers to carry their infants, so the mother's arms can be used for different tasks during the day. Each cradle board is unique and each tribe create their own style of boards. Slier shares a glimpse at cradle boards from around the United States. Real photographs with Native American children are on each page with an action word. There is space below each verb, so book owners can write in their language the word written in English. The final page of the book shares a miniature photo with the tribe, so readers can see the wide variety of cradle boards.

Slier shares an excellent book that will be appreciated by young children, mothers, teachers, and librarians. The pictures are large and focused on the child in the cradle board. Infants and toddlers who naturally love to meet and see other children will enjoy paging through this board book. Slier found a niche and her book is a great stepping stone for readers to learn more about the Native American culture.

Reviewed from Star Bright Books, Inc. via NetGalley

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Review: Food from My Frontier

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier by Ree Drummond

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Food from My Frontier is the second cookbook by Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman. Her first book, Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl, featured "hearty family recipes interspersed with photos and stories." Ree takes a new turn with her latest cookbook. Her categories include breakfast, lunch, soups, starters, pasta, pizza, supper, sides, sweets and canning. Along with all the delicious recipes, Ree shares step by step photos and family photos from around the ranch.

I haven't tried any recipes yet (I picked up the book yesterday) but I cannot wait! I enjoyed her previous books (and blog) and created several recipes from both. I look forward to exploring Food From My Frontier in my own kitchen. Happy cooking, friends!

Reviewed from a library copy.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Review: Snow in Summer

Snow in Summer: The Tale of an American Snow WhiteSnow in Summer: The Tale of an American Snow White by Jane Yolen

It's the well-known tale of Snow White set in America's Appalachia. Yolen takes readers on an adventure in West Virginia where folks make a living by hunting and gardening. She shares the story of the Lem Morton family who reside in deep mourning. The daughter, Snow in Summer, wants to be free and return to the time where Papa interacted with who love him. All too soon, a beguiling woman enters the scene and becomes Stepmama. Papa falls under Stepmama's spell and Summer turns to Snow. Summer's life of work becomes a life of servitude. She needs to run before someone dies.

I love a retold fairytale. I selected this book because of that fact and didn't bother to read the description. I was taken aback to read the author's note about her sources about snake-handling sects. Just like in Yolen's Snow White, I am not a fan of snakes. I couldn't see where the story would lead with a setting around the Depression era in Appalachia including a section on snake faith. It was quite a journey following Snow in Summer. Yolen's title of "the Hans Christian Andersen of America" is appreciated. She weaves in the love of fairy tales (along with the beloved Anne of Green Gables) within her book. The time period and location are unique and will be enjoyed by readers. The set-up of the story takes about 3/4 of the book while the classic storyline will be recognized toward the final 1/4 of the novel.

Time Period: Early 20th Century
Location: West Virginia, USA

Reviewed from a library copy.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Review: Summer of Promise

Summer of PromiseSummer of Promise by Amanda Cabot

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Amanda Cabot's new series "Westward Winds" opens with Abigail Harding in Summer of Promise. Abigail is the middle sister who sensed a need to visit her older sister, Charlotte, in Fort Laramie, Wyoming. She hopes to visit her sister and then return to her beau and teaching position in Vermont. After all, Wyoming is a boring place with nothing to do.

I love a Western novel. Cabot offers a new look at the West. Her focus was on the final days of the fort, after the Civil War and after the great migration. It was a pleasure to imagine life in the Fort without the hubbub of people passing through it. At the end of Cabot's novel, she shares that her next novel in the "Westward Winds" series will be coming in Spring of 2013. (It's so hard to wait!! Patience is a virtue and there are so many books to read in one year!) Don't worry, she also shares that a novella will be coming in the Fall. Thank you, Ms. Cabot! I look forward to reading it.

Time Period: Western, 1885
Location: Fort Laramie, Wyoming, USA

Reviewed from a library copy.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Review: Kaki Warner

Pieces of Sky (Blood Rose, #1) Open Country (Blood Rose, #2) Chasing the Sun (Blood Rose, #3) If you are a fan of Linda Lael Miller's Westerns, I would recommend Kaki Warner's novels. Her first series is the Blood Rose Trilogy set in the New Mexico Territory. Love and hate surround RosaRoja Rancho. The Wilkins brothers inherited the rancho and fight to keep it a safe place for everyone who lives on their land. Ramirez is fighting to reclaim the land his father originally owned. The brothers come and go from their land, but circumstances always bring the siblings home. Family ties are strong and they become stronger with the women they meet during their travels away from RosaRoja.

Blood Rose Trilogy
Book 1 - Pieces of Sky
Book 2 - Open Country
Book 3 - Chasing the Sun

Heartbreak Creek (Runaway Brides #1) Colorado Dawn (A Runaway Brides, #2)Warner's next series is Runaway Brides. Heartbreak Creek (Book 1) and Colorado Dawn (Book 2) are currently available. Bride of the High Country is coming later this year. I look forward to following Warner's Westerns.

Bride of the High Country

Reviewed from library copies.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Review: Swirl by Swirl

Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in NatureSwirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature by Joyce Sidman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Swirl by Swirl is getting heaps of attention, but I didn't care to find the book. My co-worker passed it to me and said, "This is a great book. It looks like your type of storytime book." Okay. I'll give it a chance.

It's wonderful! A beautiful piece that weaves non-fiction and fiction together. Swirls surround us every day if we look closely. They protect and comfort. They are powerful and beautiful. Swirl by Swirl can be a fantastic storytime book. The colors are dark and detailed (another reason I did not seek out this book). The publishers kindly shared the artwork medium - scratch board. Scratch board? Wow! WOW! I appreciate this read for it's wonderful story that can be shared with all ages and the amazing talent of a scratch board artist.

Reviewed from a library copy.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Review: Castle Waiting Volume I and II

Castle Waiting, Vol. 1
Castle Waiting, Vol. 2Fantagraphics Books published two omnibus collections of Linda Medley's Castle Waiting graphic novel series. Medley weaves a storyline with humans and creatures who live in a magic castle that holds the power of Sleeping Beauty. But don't be too dedicated to classic fairytales because Medley weaves her own fantastical tale! After reading Volume I, I was thrilled to see Volume II in the library catalog. Immediately, I placed a hold.

Volume II picks up where Volume I ended. The drawings are wonderful and do not disintegrate or transform through the numerous chapters. Volume II ends on a cliff hanger. I shall try to wait patiently for the next installment. I would propose that graphic novels take longer to write then a novel because of the sketching and text, but I think it depends on the speed, skill and determination of the author. Ms. Medley, I cannot wait to see what's going to happen next at the Castle.

Reviewed from library copies.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Review: Belonging

Belonging (#1 Where the Heart Lives)Belonging by Robin Lee Hatcher

Three siblings were separated by orphan trains. Felicia was taken in by the Kristoffersen's and again is orphaned as an adult. With her education, she sent out letters to become a teacher. Frenchman's Bluff in Idaho asked her to come and share her unused skills with their children. She plans to be independent and fulfill her dream of teaching others. She trusts God to guide her steps in her life.

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." ~ Romans 8:28 (NASB)

I look forward to each new novel by Hatcher. Belonging was quite an enjoyable read with the mystery of Felicia's family and her determination to remain single. I am anxious to read the next Where the Heart Lives installment.

Time Period: 1897
Location: Idaho, USA

Reviewed from a library copy.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge Wrap-Up

Thank you The True Book Addict for sharing a lighthearted end of the year challenge. I really enjoyed wrapping up my year with holiday focused books and movies. I plan to finish 2012 with another dose of Christmas Spirit Reading.

2011 Books
A Lawman's Christmas by Linda Lael Miller
A Creed Country Christmas by Linda Lael Miller
The Christmas Bargain by Sarita Leona
A Christmas Promise by Mary Balogh
Under the Mistletoe by Mary Balogh
Snowflakes & Stetsons by Jillian Hart
Little Lamb's Christmas by Josephine Page
Asleep in the Stable by Will Hillenbrand
Hanuakkah: a counting book by Emily Sper
Duck & Goose: It's Time for Christmas by Tad Hills
The Steadfast Tin Soldier by Tor Seidler

2011 Movies
White Christmas
Last Holiday
Love Actually
Muppets: Letters to Santa
The Holiday
The Little Drummer Boy
While You Were Sleeping
Disney's The Small One
Mickey's Christmas Carol
Meet Me in St. Louis
Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Happy 2012, readers!

Monday, January 02, 2012

Christmas Review: A Woodland Christmas

A Woodland ChristmasA Woodland Christmas by Tamela Hancock Murray

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gabriel "Gabe" Noell is a woodcarver who moves from town to town in East Texas. As he carves and travels, he shares wisdom he has gathered from life experience and God's Word. Each novella can be read separately are as a group.

To Hear Angels Sing by Ramona Cecil
The Face of Mary by Darlene Franklin
The Christmas Chain by Janelle Mowery
Love Came Home at Christmas by Tamela Hancock Murray

Time Period: Western, 1800's
Location: Texas, USA
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