Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Book Reviews 2014

From Thanksgiving to Epiphany The True Book Addict shares a Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge. This post will feature the holiday books that were read during the challenge dates. If you would like to join the challenge, sign up at The Christmas Spirit blog. Happy Christmas reading, friends!

The Greatest Gift by Phillip Van Doren Stern
I enjoyed the audiobook version of this modern classic. My complete review is available on my audiobook blog: Adolescent Audio Adventures.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Fa La La La Films 2014

During the Christmas Season, The True Book Addict runs a Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge. There are numerous levels of participation for holiday reading as well as options for movie viewers and reading books with children. It's a full and fun holiday extravaganza! What Christmas movies do you enjoy over the holidays? I hope to view quite a few before the Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge ends on January 6, 2014. I'll share my Christmas watchlist below. Let me know your favorite holiday movie in the comments. Happy viewing, friends!

Holiday Movies for Adults
Last Holiday
The Holiday
You've Got Mail
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (live-action)

Holiday Movies for Families
VeggieTales: The Little Drummer Boy
Disney's: The Small One
Disney's: Pluto's Christmas Tre
Disney's: Mickey's Christmas Carol
Ernest Saves Christmas
Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause
A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa
The Christmas Quiet Book
Charlie Brown Christmas
Meet Me in St. Louis
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (animated)

Rankin/Bass Productions
Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge 2014

The True Book Addict's Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge 2014 is here! The reading challenge goes 'til January 6, 2013 (Twelfth Night or Epiphany). That's over a month of holiday reading to read and review.  My goal is to read holiday books, watch films, and read a few Children's books as well. It's going to be so much fun to focus on Christmas books this month (and part of the next month as well).  If you would like to join the challenge, sign up at The Christmas Spirit blog. Happy Christmas reading, friends!

The Christmas Spirit 

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Review: Food a Love Story

Food: A Love StoryFood: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan

Do I read it, or rub it on my face?

Yes! Read it! Read it and eat something while you're at it. This book will make you hungry. If you're not eating while you're reading, you'll want to eat when you finish. Better yet, eat before you read. Reading isn't swimming, so feel free to read on a full stomach.

If you are familiar with Gaffigan's standup, you'll know that he loves to talk about food. Yes, you'll recognize bits and bites of his routine in the book, but he adds so much more. He shares photos and diagrams along with his thoughts, ideas, and humor. The book does ramble, but how is the best way to write a book on food? Do you start with breakfast and end with dessert? Do you write about cooking and end with supper clubs? Do you wrap everything up in a bacon wrapped hot pocket? There is no rhyme or reason to an foodie eatie's story. The reader can consume a large portion of this reflective book or sample little bits along with the way. It's a delicious read, that just might make milk* come out of your nose. (*Depends on what you're drinking or eating at the time.)

If you're not acquainted with Jim Gaffigan, you'll get a large dose about one of his life's passions. You might want to view a bit of his comedy before jumping in or watch a bit after you're done reading. It's good, clean humor that a large audience can appreciate.

The audiobook is read by Jim Gaffigan. Keep in mind listeners...he is reading his book and not sharing a seven hour standup routine. He does add bits of flare here and there, but it's mostly Jim, reading Jim. I really appreciated that Gaffigan read his own book. I doubt that the humor would come across if another talent read his story.

Reviewed from a library copy and a Blogging for Books copy. The audiobook arrived on the hold shelf the same time the hard cover arrived in the mail! It was pretty exciting to read and listen to Food: a Love Story. Thank you, Blogging for Books for this review copy. I heartily enjoyed it.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

View all my reviews

Friday, October 31, 2014

Review: Daugher of Highland Hall

The Daughter of Highland Hall (Edwardian Brides, #2)The Daughter of Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky

The Daughter of Highland Hall is book two in the Carrie Turansky's series Edwardian Brides. The first book shares the story of Julia Foster and Sir William Ramsey. If you've read book one, The Governess of Highland Hall, the newest novel jumps right in after book one concludes. Except the main character Katherine Ramsey, Julia's former charge. If you haven't read book one, the back story would help, but the main story focuses on Katherine (Kate) and her coming out in London, so you wouldn't need to if you wanted to jump right in with this title!

Kate struggled when her cousin, Sir William Ramsey inherited her family's estate. William became her guardian and Kate became bitter. When Julie arrived, she helped Kate turn her life around. The largest part was showing her God's love and importance of leading an honest life. Kate takes her lessons to heart as she struggles with debuting during the London season. Her critical Aunt Louisa wears her down, but she believes honesty is best. Kate catches the eye of eligible bachelor Edward Wellington, but also Julie's brother Jonathan Foster who is in London finishing his medical training. It's a great year of change for Kate. As the season progresses, she begins to discover what matters in her life and what will bring joy to her, to others, and to God.

It was a pleasure reading Kate's story. The London season is always fun to read about in books. Her Aunt was quite the pusher, but if the goal is a good marriage to someone with high standing, it's what would need to done. Kate has a very strong personality and you can understand the struggle she faces between respecting her aunt and standing her ground. She questioned her faith, her future, and her foundation of marriage. I think it was wise for her to contemplate and see the differences of relationships that surrounded her. It's not always easy to know your mind and your heart. It's wise to question, pray, and seek council with others.

I look at my own life and can see a similar path during points of my past. Time and events can change your perspective. It's not always easy, but having friends and family and faith will help smooth the journey. Julia, Jon, and others offered beautiful advise shared in faith that can help sustain a person going through trouble times. Turansky wove together a beautiful story. I look forward to her next piece that is coming out in 2015 - A Refuge at Highland Hall.

Time Period: Edwardian, 1912
Location: London, England

Thank you, Blogging for Books for this review copy! I enjoyed it!
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Review: Tried and True

Tried and True (Wild at Heart Book #1)Tried and True by Mary Connealy

Book 01: Wild at Heart

The Wild family finished fighting in the Civil War and moved West. They wanted to be part of homesteading new territory and create a large claim in honor of their lost family member - Jimmy. In actuality, father Cudgel Wilde wanted his daughters to homestead on their own and after they homestead for their required years, their large piece of property would be in honor of his lost son. The daughters, Kylie, Bailey, and Shannon agree to homestead, but it turns out to be more challenging then they all expected. Someone is out to get Kylie for her land. The land agenda, Aaron Masterson, sees through the sisters' "manly" disguises instantly and they could be written up for fraud. And what about the after effects of fighting in the Civil War?

Mary Connealy always weaves such a delightful and unique story. I'm always at the edge of my seat for the next book she has published. This new series was no exception! Right away, readers know it's going be to a series instead of a standalone novel. She set it up by having three sisters creating their own unique homesteads as well as giving each girl strengths and weaknesses. They compliment each other very well. Kylie and Aaron are the main characters, but plenty of others in the territory and town come into play. There is a mountain man named Matt Tucker, a rancher named Gage Coulter who was building up his property before settlers began arriving; Neville Bassett - a confederate with a grudge, and Sunrise - an outcast from the Shoshone tribe. Readers are in for a high-paced treat during the land run after the War Between the States. I cannot wait to read the next installment of the Wild at Heart series!

Time Period: Post-Civil War, Western, 1866
Location: Idaho Territory

Reviewed from a NetGalley copy. Thank you, Bethany House!

Monday, October 06, 2014

Martha Stewart's One Pot Cookbook

One Pot: 120+ Easy Meals from Your Skillet, Slow Cooker, Stockpot, and MoreOne Pot: 120+ Easy Meals from Your Skillet, Slow Cooker, Stockpot, and More by Martha Stewart

Are you familiar with Martha Stewart Living magazine? It's a magazine that is filled with recipes, products, home decor, and helpful hints. The format is clean and crisp with photographs that are in muted and welcoming tones. It's a mix between old world, well-loved pieces and modern marvels. It translated very well into their newest cookbook.

The recipes were divided by there cooking pots - dutch oven, skillet & saute pan, slow cooker, roasting pan & baking dish, pressure cooker, then stockpot & saucepan. Dessert options are at the end of the book, but they are prepared between a variety of the above listed pots and pans. The beginning of each section offered a list of the recipes and a page about each pot. The introduction to each pot includes basics and cooking tips. These extra pages are very helpful for the reader who has never cooked with certain pots before in their kitchen.

The recipes in each section offer a wide variety of dinner options. There is a different range of food and flavors as well as cooking abilities. Some recipes throw everything together and cook it (Linguine with Tomato and Basil) while others ask for an additional step or two before throwing it all together (Braised Chicken with Potatoes and Lemon). All in all, each recipe focused on one pot creations that will please a wide audience. If the cook doesn't like the written recipe, it can always be adjusted. If you're new to adjusting a recipe, each section offers one recipe that can be cooked four different ways. All I can say is dig in and enjoy the cooking adventure!

Photographs accompany each recipe. I appreciated that each photograph showed a different food presentation. The finished dishes were displayed in different pots and pans or serving dishes or on plates or bowls. The variety of the photographs kept the art interesting and heartwarming with their mix of well-used kitchen equipment and new pieces for the kitchen.

Lastly, I noticed a couple book design features I've enjoyed in this book. The sections are divided by the pots. On the recipe pages next to the page number, the publishers included a small gray scale watercolor image of the highlighted pot in that particular section. Artwork that is cute and helpful when flipping through the cookbook. Another design plus is having built-in bookmarks with the book cover flaps - very helpful when marking a page.

I previously cooked Linguine with Tomato and Basil (except, I used penne). It was delicious and simple. I am looking forward to expanding my culinary skills and trying some new recipes. I also enjoyed seeing recipes done using different pots. I would have never thought to make Mac and Cheese in a skillet or cook sausages with potatoes in a dutch oven.

Thank you, Blogging for Books for this review copy! I heartily enjoyed it!

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Review: Your Family in Pictures

Your Family in Pictures: The Parents' Guide to Photographing Holidays, Family Portraits, and Everyday Life by Me Ra Koh

Your Family in Pictures is the follow up book to Me Ra Koh's previous photography titles: Your Baby in Pictures and Your Child in Pictures. I would love to say that this title follows the style of her previous titles, but at this point, I have not read her earlier books. I assume that her recipes and giving spirit present in this book are also in her other books. I am very interested in finding her other books after reading Your Family in Pictures.

Mr Ra Koh shares her love of her family, her passion for photography, and her mission to share photography with others. She created this book to inspire parents (especially mothers) to look at family moments and take photographs in a new light. Whether the family owns a point-and-shoot camera or a DSLR, Koh shares her her tips, tricks, knowledge, and "recipes."

Her recipes are how to re-create your own version of her (and her friends') family photos. Koh breaks each photograph down to the best time of day, prep work for the photo, composing the image and finally capturing the shot. Each recipe includes P&S users (point-and-shoot) as well as DSLR users. Each photo is possible! It's all about taking your time and understanding your equipment. I have a P&S camera, but after reading the DSLR recipes, I long to pick one up! I used to shoot on film with a SLR, but I haven't shot with film in oh so many years... Well, there's always a new adventure around the corner!

The book is divided up into different aspects of family and different family moments during the year. The topics covered include everyday life, holidays, family portraits, tweens & teens, family vacations & travel. While some events are obvious (birthday parties, Christmas, or portraits), Koh offers up unique, quiet, and restful everyday ideas like capturing a teenager's bedroom, relaxing at a hotel room, or taking a portrait of Mom. Beyond the recipes, Koh shares a glimpse of her story, tips for equipment, and personal thoughts to motivate and inspired photographers.

If you are a new photographer or a pro, Me Ra Koh's book will inspire and warm the hearts of those who read it. She shares her heart and her family with her readers. It's a beautiful and thoughtful book.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review. Thank you, Blogging for Books!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Review: Dear Luke ... Dad Darth

Dear Luke, We Need to Talk, Darth: And Other Pop Culture CorrespondencesDear Luke, We Need to Talk, Darth: And Other Pop Culture Correspondences by John Moe

When I came across this title, the cover drew me in. As author Jacqueline Navin once wrote in a novel, "I adore correspondence. When a letter arrives from a friend it is like getting a small present." Jim Gaffigan also is quoted on the front as saying, "I loved everything about this book." Mr. Gaffigan is one of my favorite comedians, so I thought I would give this book a go.

When it arrived in the mail, the format threw me off. I thought this book would be more like a little coffee table book or one made of collages. The books that came to my mind include the Post Secret series and À la Cart: The Secret Lives of Grocery Shoppers. (Especially, the À la Cart book.) The format is a paperback in black, white, and gray. The correspondences vary from notes to letters to chalkboards. The fonts also are changed up a bit, but nothing too dramatic, so it is all legible.

Unfortunately, I was left with the feeling of "meh." I picked out the letters I could relate to the most and gave them more of my attention than others. It was more skim reading than detailed reading for me. I think my top choices that made me smile were Dora the Explorer's mother, the man with the yellow hat, and Gunther from Friends. Author Moe is clever and offers lots of new background ideas, but his humor is a bit off-putting for me. The pieces that I read turned sarcastic and snarky. Sometimes the language turned me off. I don't enjoy coarse language, so when it gets thrown into a book I don't always feel compelled to continue with it.

If readers enjoy pop culture and the ridiculous, I would recommend this title to them. It is a humor piece written with adults in mind.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Review: Tear You Apart

Tear You ApartTear You Apart by Sarah Cross

Tear You Apart is a companion to Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross. This novel can be read separately from Cross' first piece, but I would recommend reading Kill Me Softly before Tear You Apart. Characters from the first book reappear in the second as well as small pieces of the earlier storyline. Readers, you will have time to enjoy Kill Me Softly, because Tear You Apart will be published in January 2015.


Cross is so clever with her reinvented fairy tales. When I saw that a new title was coming out, I immediately went to the library to checkout Kill Me Softly in preparation for reading Tear You Apart. (It’s worth a reread for this new title.)

Sarah Cross returned to Beau Rivage to share another couple's story. Again, I became captivated by the fairy tales that intertwined throughout the story. Since fairy tales stories are well known, I could see where some of the storylines lead, but she always managed to change it just a little to take my breath away. I don't want to reveal too much of the twists, but I will share what Cross shared on her website: "Snow White plus the Twelve Dancing Princesses ... and some other fairy tales I'll keep secret for now."

I would recommend this title to teens or adults. Fairy tales are popular for the tweens, but the content is for a mature audience. The characters swear, drink, and deal with murders. Some younger readers are not prepared for that type of content yet.

Just like the companion piece, the story is wrapped up at the end and can standalone. 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 NetGalley copy. Thank you, Egmont USA!

ISBN: 9781606845912
eBook ISBN: 9781606845929
Published: January 27, 2015

Friday, July 18, 2014

Review: Feather Bound

Feather BoundFeather Bound by Sarah Raughley

Are you familiar with the classic fairytale Swan Maidens? If not, I would recommend reading the short story before (or after) reading Feather Bound. Author Sarah Raughley gives the classic story a new modern twist.

I liked that Raughley weaved swans into the history of the book. Swan information is available in classes, on the internet, and printed in brochures. That was interesting and edgy. She also kept the story very modern with the language and references to pop culture and trends.

I prefer my fractured fairytales less edgy. The language was genuine for the characters and settings, but I would rather not read books with foul language and "totes." I was taken aback by "totes." I appreciate the dynamic reading of "totes" from the Sprint commercial, but beyond that I would prefer not to read it in books.

Sections of the Swan Maidens story was included but it felt a little out of place. I'm not sure it was needed. Or maybe it just needed different formatting. I would have liked to see story selections or quotes as chapter headings rather than having them as mini "chapters" throughout the book.

Some of the themes in the book include abuse, human trafficking, understanding yourself, and justice. Evil is overcome in the end and life can slowly be rebuilt. The story wraps up well and can standalone. I give this book two swans out of five. If you're interested in modern fairytales, I would recommend reading some Alix Flinn books.

Reviewed from a NetGalley copy. Thank you, Angry Robot Ltd!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Review: Truth Be Told

Truth Be ToldTruth Be Told by Carol Cox

Amelia Wagner looks forward to spending the summer in Granite Springs. Her father lives there and operates the small town's newspaper. She reunites with her father, but quickly needs to say goodbye to the man she loves and admires. Instead of working side-by-side over the summer, Amelia takes up the reins of the newspaper. She wants to follow in her father's footsteps and only print the truth because "ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free," but uncovering the truth in stories is not always an easy task.

One of her late father's leads was focused on a new business in town, the Great Western Investment Company. A young man, Ben Stone, works for the company and his actions convey his intent of honesty and caring, but his boss and colleagues smile and evade direct questions. Something is happening and Amelia is determined to find the truth and share it with the citizens of Granite Springs. The truth could shed light on the prosperity of the town, but at what cost to the paper and the paper's employees?


Carol Cox returns to write another standalone novel set in historic Arizona Territory. Her previous Arizona standalone titles include Love in Disguise and Trouble in Store. The book trio is reminiscent of Tracie Peterson's Land of Shining Waters series. Both series are wonderful. I enjoyed that each novel was a standalone and the ties that bond them to the others was the time period and state location. Cox selected the Arizona Territory, while Peterson chose Minnesota.

Truth Be Told focuses on finding the truth and the newspaper industry. The journey toward truth isn't solely about the news and the newspaper in Granite Springs. The truth digs into business practices, relationships, and faith. Truth isn't always wrapped up in a bow and can lead to danger because of our fallen world, but in the end the truth brings freedom.

The most unique part of this novel was the family dynamics of the Wagners. Mr. and Mrs. have been separated for many years. Amelia would live with her mother during the "school year" and spend summers with her father. The mother became a background character that is heard about but never seen in the story. It was an interesting story element.

If you're looking for a historical read for the summer, I would recommend Truth Be Told. It takes place over the summer months and offers a good mystery to follow and uncover. Also, the romance is light and sincere.

Time Period: 1893
Location: Granite Springs, Arizona Territory, USA

Reviewed from a GoodReads FirstReads copy. Thank you Bethany House!

Friday, July 04, 2014

Review: Beaches & Brides Collection

The Beaches and Brides Romance Collection: 5 Historical Romances Buoyed by the SeaThe Beaches and Brides Romance Collection: 5 Historical Romances Buoyed by the Sea by Lynn A. Coleman, Mary Davis, Susan Page Davis, Paige Winship Dooly, and Cathy Marie Hake

"Venture along historic American shorelines, enjoying five stories that are full of adventure, challenge, and romance."

Barbour Publishing is so creative as they gather their stories together. They are one of the prime publishers for novella books. In one of their newest collections, they compiled stories focusing on future brides and the waterfront property where they live (or live nearby). I appreciated the vast locations - Florida, Washington, Maine, Georgia, Virginia. So much of America has access to beaches, it's not just the beaches in the Southern states or California. (At least, that's where my mind strays when I think of a book beaches.) I think there is a story for everyone in this collection. The authors cover many topics including love, faith, family, friends, work, survival, reconciliation, and a bunch of more interesting topics.

The time periods were a wide range as well. The earliest from 1820 (The Castaway's Bride) to the latest 1918 (Restoration) covers nearly a century! I am accustomed to reading more books in the 1800's, so when I reached Restoration I almost set down the book. I'm so glad I stuck with it! Hake wrote a beautiful story about, as the title states, restoration. It's never easy to restore something of the past, but it is well worth the time, effort, and cost in the end.

The collection's title begs for this book to be read during the beachy, summery months of the year, but these books can be enjoyed all year long.

Book 01 - A Time to Embrace by Lynn A. Coleman (2000)
Time Period: Post Civil War, 1865
Location: Key West, Florida
Previously published as a stand alone in the series Heartsong Presents #396 in 2000 and a digital stand alone in the series Truly Yours Digital Editions in 2012.

Book 02 - The Captain's Wife by Mary Davis (2008)
Time Period: 1898
Location: Port Townsend, Washington, USA
Previously published as a stand alone in the series Heartsong Presents in 2008 and a digital stand alone in 2012.

Book 03 - The Castaway's Bride by Susan Page Davis (2007)
Time Period: 1820
Location: Portland, Maine
Previously published as a stand alone in the series Heartsong Presents in 2007, a part of the novella compilation Maine Brides in 2008, and a digital stand alone in the series Truly Yours Digital Editions in 2012.

Book 04 - The Lightkeeper's Daughter by Paige Winship Dooly (2010)
Time Period: 1867
Location: Little Cumberland Island, Georgia, USA
Previously published as a stand alone in the series Heartsong Presents in 2010 and a part of the novella compilation Georgia Brides (Romancing America series) in 2011.

Book 05 - Restoration by Cathy Marie Hake (2004)
Time Period: WWI, 1918
Location: Virginia, USA
Previously published as a stand alone in the series Heartsong Presents in 2004 and a digital stand alone Truly Yours Digital Editions in 2013.

Reviewed from a NetGalley copy. Thank you, Barbour Books!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Review: Full Steam Ahead

Full Steam AheadFull Steam Ahead by Karen Witemeyer

Nicole Renard and Darius Thornton are on missions to save people. Nicole is determined to save her father and his business. Darius has resolved to find an answer to save passengers and crews of steam engine ships. As their paths cross, they find that in order to save others they need to work together and save themselves and their relationships with God.

When I picked up Full Steam Ahead, I assumed it was about trains in the Wild West of America. I was surprised to start reading and discover that it was not about steam trains, but steam boats. What a new niche! It was refreshing and unique. Beyond the theme of engines, Witemeyer weaves in suspense, treasure hunting, family, friendship, self-sacrificing, and faith. I really enjoyed the faith journeys of Nicole and Darius. They were not quick or easy revelations. It was seeing beyond past events and painful experiences. It was digging deeper into the Word and drawing closer to God rather than running away from Him.

This was an excellent read. Witemeyer wrote a novel full of seriousness and humor, adventure and travel, heartache and love. I would highly recommend Full Steam Ahead.

Time Period: Post Civil War, 1851
Location: Galveston & Liberty, Texas, USA

Reviewed from a NetGalley copy. Thank you, Bethany House Publishers!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Review: Reasons My Kid is Crying

Reasons My Kid Is CryingReasons My Kid Is Crying by Greg Pembroke

Are you familiar with the blog If so, this is a small glimpse at the blog in book form! If you are not familiar with the blog, please go and take a look!

In the book, Pembroke shares snippets of why some crying episodes happen and working with little ones, I do agree. They're new to the world around them and they cannot always comprehend what's happening or why things happen. Sometimes it can be heartbreaking, but other times hilarious! As adults, we've experienced so much that these moments can frustrate and tickle the funny bones as well. Parents, family members, and professionals who work with children can easily relate to Reasons My Kid is Crying.

This is such a great book to read ... and share! The paperback is full color with a good mix between photographs and a pages of "Dispatches from the Front Lines." The dispatches are typed tales of various toddler moments. Pembroke does divide his book into chapters which cover everyday moments, family get-togethers, and out in public. The size of the book can easily fit into a purse or diaper bag to enjoy a quick read or to share with someone else. It's definitely a book I want others to read and enjoy. Thank you, Greg Pembroke for sharing a laugh with the world!

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

Review: Reasons My Kid is Crying

Reasons My Kid Is CryingReasons My Kid Is Crying by Greg Pembroke

Are you familiar with the blog If so, this is a small glimpse at the blog in book form! If you are not familiar with the blog, please go and take a look! Here's a little book trailer glimpse as well:

In the book, Pembroke shares snippets of why some crying episodes happen. As I working with little ones at the libraries, schools, and childcares, I do agree. They're new to the world around them and they cannot always comprehend what's happening or why things happen. Sometimes it can be heartbreaking, but other times hilarious. As adults, we've experienced so much that these moments can frustrate and tickle the funny bones. Parents, family members, and professionals who work with children can easily relate to Reasons My Kid is Crying.

This is such a great book to read ... and share! The paperback is full color with a good mix between photographs and a pages of "Dispatches from the Front Lines." The dispatches are typed tales of various toddler moments. Pembroke does divide his book into chapters which cover everyday moments, family get-togethers, and out-and-about in public. The size of the book can easily fit into a purse, backpack, or diaper bag to enjoy a quick read or to share with someone else. It's definitely a book I want others to read and enjoy. Thank you, Greg Pembroke for sharing a laugh with the world!

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

Review: The Heart's Pursuit

The Heart's PursuitThe Heart's Pursuit by Robin Lee Hatcher

Silver Matlock is upset by being left at the altar, but the fleeing fiance took more than her love. Bob Cassidy stole her family's money. She needs to find Bob, find the money, and save her family's home and mercantile. Silver hires bounty hunter Jared Newman to hunt down Bob and he begrudgingly agrees, but he's looking for another man with a scar. Will revenge or redemption save the day?

Robin Lee Hatcher took a new direction with her latest novel. (She did explain that in her Author's Note at the end of the book.) The Heart's Pursuit is full of action, heartbreak, hurt, revenge, and redemption. It's historical romance with an edge. I would recommend it to other readers who enjoy novels taking place in the Old West. It's an action packed read!

The pursuits were different (yet similar) for each character; the main characters (Jared and Silver), as well as, the minor characters that showed up throughout the couple's travels. Each person pursued someone or something, but it boiled down to finding peace and with peace comes love. Love in friendship, in family, and a dash of romance.

This is a great standalone novel. If you'd like a glimpse, Hatcher shares a sample chapter on her website

Time Period: Western, 1873
Location: United States of America

Reviewed from a NetGalley copy. Thank you, Zondervan!

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Review: Love Comes Calling

Love Comes Calling (Against All Expectations Collection Book #7)Love Comes Calling by Siri Mitchell

"Oysters and clambakes" what a tale! Siri Mitchell's newest novel jumps into the Roaring Twenty's in Boston. Ellis Eton becomes wrapped up in unbelievable adventures dealing with school, football, friends, speakeasies, telephones, disappointments, and love. Ellis Eton had a plan - a plan to be a movie star! She had it all worked out, but her friends and family keep making plans and requests for her. She wants to breakaway, but circumstances keep pulling her back.

Siri Mitchell shares Ellis' story in first person, so the reader can see and understand her thoughts, desires, and motivation. At the beginning, it was difficult for me to get drawn into the story because of the perspective, but as the story progressed it becomes clear why Mitchell chose to write her latest novel in first person. Mitchell also adds an author's note at the end of the novel to share more insights about Ellis.

The author's notes also includes historical notes about the 1920's and Prohibition. I greatly appreciated the supplemental notes at the end. I was concerned about some of the faith aspects of the story. Mitchell shared the historical movement of self-improvement and psychoanalysis which includes Emile Coue's mantra, "Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better." Mitchell wraps up her novel and notes well with the truth, "only God can change hearts."

Love Comes Calling can be a fantastic companion novel to Julie Lessman's novels. Lessman also writes about Boston in the 1920's in her Daughters of Boston series and Winds of Change series.

Time Period: Roaring Twenties, 1924
Location: Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Reviewed from a NetGalley copy. Thank you, Bethany House!

Friday, June 06, 2014

Review: The Mix & Match Guide to Companion Planting

The Mix & Match Guide to Companion Planting: An Easy, Organic Way to Deter Pests, Prevent Disease, Improve Flavor, and Increase Yields in Your Vegetable GardenThe Mix & Match Guide to Companion Planting: An Easy, Organic Way to Deter Pests, Prevent Disease, Improve Flavor, and Increase Yields in Your Vegetable Garden by Josie Jeffrey

As a beginning gardener, I appreciate every gardening book that I can access. I especially appreciate easy to read and imaginative titles. This title caught my attention from the title: The Mix & Match Guide to Companion Planting. Mix & Match, eh? Sounds like an imaginative and fun book to read for this Children's Librarian. (Here is the original press release.)

The book arrived in it's package and I could not wait to see beneath the cardboard and bubble wrap! (Thank you Reda for packing the book so carefully!) As I unfolded the plastic covering, I was immediately impressed at the sturdiness of the book. I expected the book to be a paperback, but it is a hardcover with wire binding (versus a more commonly seen plastic comb for binding books). The opening pages are glossy and colorful, while the mix & match section is printed on cardstock in earthtones and full color plant images. Well done, Ten Speed Press!

The opening chapters highlighted a variety of information from history to biology in gardening with a dash of beliefs and theories thrown in. It was a quick read and very informative. Certain sections reminded me of high school biology, but a little refresher never hurt anyone! The touch of background information gives the beginning garden (like myself) an understanding of the reasoning behind publishing "another book about gardening." This book is unique and created a niche for itself. If more information is desired by the reader, Jeffrey shared excellent science terms that can easily be researched. The only text that caught me off guard was the very occasional phrase of harmonizing with the universe or the cosmos. I'm just interested in growing a garden.

The Mix & Match Guide to Companion Planting by Josie Jeffery
Now to the Mix & Match section! There are three sections - aboveground companions, central crop, and belowground companions. Each section contains 25 different plants from flowers to veggies to herbs and fruit. I recognized most of the plants offered as companions. Each card contains a picture, the name of the plant, if it is a perennial or annual, and brief growing tips. Beyond that information is the companion system that Jeffrey created with different colored circles to identify different ways plants can be companions. Jeffrey shares 16 different ways plants can benefit each other, which are shared at the beginning of the book. (I do wish that the chart was a foldout, so it could be viewed at the same time as finding plant matches, but a photocopy will work just as well.) Not all plants will be all matches, but gardeners can mix and match and try a wide variety of different matches! This collection definitely goes beyond my companion planting of tomatoes and marigolds.

I think gardeners of any age or ability will enjoy this title. The Mix & Match pages will entertain and enthrall a wide audience. Thank you, Blogging for Books for this review copy! I cannot wait to try some companion planting!

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Review: The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn

The Pursuit of Tamsen LittlejohnThe Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn by Lori Benton

Tamsen wants to escape. Her step-father is forcing a betrothal and after his harsh treatment, she wants no man her father arranges to wed. She locates a frontiersman, Jesse Bird, to help her flee, but will running overmountain be safer?

Author Lori Benton weaves a fascinating historical tale about finding safety, love, and family. The historical background highlights a little known (or forgotten) piece of American history on the State of Franklin. During that time, many disputes were fought between Carolina and Franklin. It's also a time of civilization, wilderness, settlers, and Native Americans. All in all, the historical elements are imbedded into the tale, but are not the true highlight of this historical tale. Benton's history was well developed and enjoyable. Her end notes were interesting and helpful. I was very happy to read her resources that she used when she researched her novel.

Back to the main storyline, the verb throughout the entire tale is pursuit. Tamsen is pursuing freedom, her step-father and rejected suitor are pursuing Tamsen and her overmountian man, Jesse. In the meantime, Jesse is pursing safety for Tamsen as well as her heart. There are other characters in the settlements and wilderness who are pursuing various people, feelings, and places, but I don't want to give away everything! Faith is sprinkled throughout this piece. It was not forced, but spoken well between believers. They shared their memorized passages and the importance to laying it all in God's hands.

Tamsen's tale is a standalone novel just as Benton's first novel, Burning Sky. If you enjoyed reading Burning Sky, you will enjoy The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn. If you enjoy Colonial history or little known/forgotten history, you'll enjoy this unique novel. Thank you, WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for sharing this title with me. I hope Ms. Benton continues to write more novels!

Time Period: 1787
Location: Watauga settlement, North Caroline, USA

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Review: Enduring Faith Series

Enduring Faith series by Susan Feldhake
#1 - In Love's Own Time
#2 - Seasons of the Heart
#3 - For Ever and Ever
#4 - Hope for the Morrow
#5 - From This Day Forward
#6 - Joy in the Morning
#7 - Serenity in the Storm
#8 - The Darkness and the Dawn

I finally found the Enduring Faith series! I originally read this series many years ago. It was one of the first series I finished when I discovered Christian fiction. Companion authors at that time included Janette Oke and June Masters Bacher.

My sister and I love to read and exchange books. Of course, Feldhake's books were one of the series we swapped. The only thing we remembered about this series was the character Alton Wheeler and our agreement about the series "ya'know, the series where everyone dies." With a character's name, it was easy to find the series at the library. Our statement is closer to a six-word memoir that wraps up our thoughts about the books.

I don't want to throw you off from reading Feldhake's books. Yes, people die in the book, but it's a series based in the 1800's. As a nurse recently stated at an inservice, "it's hard to die today." In history, it was difficult to survive because of illness, accidents, travel, etc. and Feldhake clearly covered it well.

I grew to love the families and neighbors in the Enduring Faith series. They grew together, grew apart, grew up, and grew in faith. As with every up, there were a great many low valleys, but Feldhake's message was to share that the Lord will see you through all trials and triumphs in life. As Fanny shared in book two, "After all, many a time the Good Book says: 'And it came to pass,' never that it came to stay!"

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Review: The Bride Next Door

The Bride Next Door (Texas Grooms, #2)The Bride Next Door by Winnie Griggs

Book Two: Texas Grooms

Daisy's father won a piece of property in Turnabout through a poker match. Daisy claims the deed and makes her way to Turnabout to setup a restaurant and create a home for herself. The property is a bit rundown, but a little hard work will go a long way. Daisy's building neighbor, Everett, is startled by this new townswoman. He's routine has been interrupted by Daisy, but he can't decide if this interruption is a bother or a possible blessing.

The Bride Next Door is the second book in the series Texas Grooms. The couple from the previous story as well as other community members make appearances throughout the story. If readers have not read book one, Handpicked Husband, they will still enjoy The Bride Next Door. Book two focuses on Daisy and Everett with glimpses as the other characters.

Daisy and Everett is a story about opposites. Everett wants to move and Daisy wants to set down roots. Daisy wants a family and community involvement while Everett would be comfortable cutting ties and keeping people (and God) as acquaintances. As their friendship grows they see each others' strengthens as well as ways to help each other. A stiff friendship grows to appreciation and love.

Time Period: Western, 1895
Location: Turnabout, Texas, United States

Reviewed from a NetGalley copy. Thank you, Harlequin Love Inspired!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Review: Beauty for Ashes & Amorelle

Grace Livingston Hill is making a comeback! I read (and collected) many of her titles when I first stumbled upon Faith Fiction. I enjoyed the sweet romances and honest messages. As more Christian authors came into the reading scene, I set aside GLH for other stories. Finding Barbour's new editions of old classics was surprising and refreshing. I recently enjoyed Beauty for Ashes and Amorelle.


Beauty for AshesBeauty for Ashes by Grace Livingston Hill

I recall the stories, but not the details when I reread these stories. I distinctly remember returning Beauty for Ashes to the library and thinking, "This is one of my favorite books." I can't recall the original why, but I still think it is an outstanding novel.

Gloria Sutherland's world turned upside down in one moment - her fiance dead in the arms of another. How does one move on from emptiness? Gloria and her father take a trip and end up at the old family homestead in the country. Gloria opts to stay, but doesn't know how she will overcome the boredom and emptiness that lies ahead. Unexpectedly, a neighbor's young son arrives and befriends Gloria. He offers a new look at life and a lifestyle of hope and joy.



Amorelle by Grace Livingston Hill

Amorelle needs to make a new start. Her father's sickness takes him away and she needs to move from the church parsonage. She goes to her uncle's home faraway and adjusts to a new lifestyle with her step-aunt, step-cousin, and uncle. A young man from her cousin's crowd soon becomes enamored with Amorelle because of her different ways from the other girls. Amorelle agrees with her new relationship, until circumstances draw her away from her uncle's household and fiance.


Each of the novels take place around the 1930's, but the messages are true to today's audiences. In both novels, Gloria and Amorelle are searching for answers and looking for a place to call home. After so much upheaval, they want a direction for their life.

Gloria's worldview is slowly changed by the neighbors who befriend her. They show her the difference between men of the world and men of God. I was impressed with the education of Murray MacRae. In addition to his business classes, he also took theological courses in college because he thought all Christians should understand their Bibles. I agree that it is important, too. Murray and his friend invited Gloria (and later her sister) into their lives and never forced their faith on them. They shared their lives and answered questions about their lifestyles and beliefs.

Amorelle's adventure went from small town girl to woman of the world very quickly. After loosing family who loved and cared for her, she found love in an unexpected corner. Love can be wonderful, hurtful, selfish, and giving. It comes down to the root or base of their love. Gathering advise from trusted friends can be very beneficial. Returning to God's Word will also open the heart to understanding love.

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

Friday, March 07, 2014

Plot Twist! Hard Drive Edition

A "Plot Twist Moment" has come to Miss Pippi.

I had big plans for 2014 and some high hopes for new blog material. It will still appear, but not in the timely fashion I imagined a few months ago.

I had a hard drive crash and it sucked a bit of life out of me. (Yes, I have heard the "back-up speech," so I would rather not rehash the details.) I cannot let it stop me! It's time to get back to writing and stop dragging my feet. Crashes happen. It is time to make a new plan and create new posts. Here's to moving forward!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Review: Echoes of Mercy

Echoes of Mercy by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Caroline Lang needs to go undercover at Dinesmore's World-Famous Chocolates Factory. She wants to find out how the manufacturer threats the employees from adults to children. Unbeknownst to Caroline, the heir of Dinesmore's, Oliver, is also undercover to learn more about the family business.

Sawyer's recent novel caught my attention right away because of the setting. I have a sweet tooth, so I couldn't wait to sink my teeth into a novel taking place in a candy factory. I focused so much on candy theme, that the larger Labor Commission theme took me by surprise. I would say that there is a definite advantage to knowing next to nothing about a storyline. The reader's reactions are genuine because there is no prior knowledge.

I have read few historical fiction books that include a Labor Commission topic, so that was very refreshing. The double undercover slant was fun! There was a great tension between Caroline and Oliver because they were working for far bigger outcomes and agendas. It threw me a little to the story broken up between different points of view, but as I read further into the story, it read very well. It was good to see the different points of view to understand the character backgrounds and their future goals.

I would recommend Echoes of Mercy to anyone who has a sweet tooth! For more serious readers, Sawyer wrote up a fun and mysterious turn-of-the-century tale. Mystery readers and historical fiction readers will enjoy this novel. (If you'd like to read a preview, please click here.) I am so thankful Blogging for Books sent me a free copy to review. Thank you!

Time Period: Turn of the Century, 1904
Location: Sinclair, Kansas, USA

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for an honest review.

I received this paperback for free from Blogging for Books for this review. Thank you, Blogging for Books!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Review: Boy Soup

Boy SoupBoy Soup by Loris Lesynski

Big G. the Giant woke up with a terrible cold. He reaches for his copy of the Giants Home Medical Guide for a cure. The best thing to fix a cold - Boy Soup!

Lesynski weaves a rhyming tale that offers humor, danger, and heroism. Humor in the secondary silly soup and the restaurant outcome at the end. Danger in the stolen children and the primary soup. Heroism in the great escape! Boy Soup would be a great read-aloud for elementary students. It also lends itself to additional activities about reading recipes, following directions, and cooking food together.

Readers might question if Boy Soup is by Robert Munsch, but Munsch and Lesynski share the same illustrator: Michael Martchenko. If readers enjoyed Munsch tales, they will enjoy Boy Soup as well.

Reviewed from a NetGalley copy. Thank you, Open Road Integrated Media!

Monday, January 06, 2014

Review: The Cadence of Grace Series

The Cadence of Grace Series by Joanne Bischof
#1 - Be Still My Soul
#2 - Though My Heart is Torn
#3 - My Hope is Found

Be Still My Soul (The Cadence of Grace #1) The Cadence of Grace series is three separate books that are closing linked together. Each one flows swiftly into the next one. They are best read together in order, since they pick up so quickly.

Be Still My Soul features the beginning relationship of Lonnie Sawyer and Gideon O'Riley. Gideon is the playboy of the Appalachian hills and pressures Lonnie for a kiss. Lonnie's father discovers them together and a shotgun wedding takes place. Gideon resents Lonnie while Lonnie is seeking a refuge.

Though My Heart Is Torn (The Cadence of Grace #2)Lonnie finds a refuge in the Lord and Gideon begins to turn his life around when his past returns to haunt him. Though My Heart is Torn shares the grief of love being torn and lives being changed. The answer to peace rests in the Lord. Faith's journey is never an easy one, but the Lord will never forsake those who seek Him.

My Hope Is Found (The Cadence of Grace #3)My Hope is Found wraps up the series with rebuilding trust and repairing relationships. Consequences and broken trust cannot be fixed over a day or a month. Healing takes time, but the Lord is sufficient and He watches over His children.

I was so happy to read these books one right after the other. It would have been difficult to wait between books. Bischof wrote a captivating, emotional, and faith-filled series that amazed me.  I thought I would be able to predict parts of the storyline but every twist and turn brought new insights and layers. Gideon had his storyline, while Lonnie had hers and then their relationship together was a whole different storyline. Those three components are only the beginning - add in their families, neighbors, bosses, and enemies into the mix and it is a powerful load of information. These are stories that beg to be read quickly to find out what happens next, yet read ever so slowly to relish every detail.

I would highly recommend Bishof's trilogy. Her Appalachian books are books that you can sink your teeth into and savor for moments to come. They take the reader on a journey that follows the ridge line - the ups and downs of life - of sin and grace. It brought to mind the Bible story of Jacob, Leah, and Rachel.

She also does not leave the reader hanging at the end of My Hope is Found. More adventures would be welcome to read, but it's an excellent pause for Gideon and Lonnie's journeys, trials, and celebrations. I am content as are the O'Riley's. I would love to hear more about the other people who came into the lives of Gideon and Lonnie, especially Toby McKee and Cassie Allan. Perhaps a follow up will be coming in the future? I will be waiting to hear!

Time Period: Turn of the Century, 1900
Location: Appalachian hills, Virginia, USA

Reviewed from a library copy (#1), a library copy (#2), and a free book from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review (#3).

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