Where I share my love of books with reviews, features, giveaways and memes. Family and needlepoint are thrown in from time to time.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Christian Readers Challenge - Finished

Today is the final day of the Christian Readers Challenge.

The challenge was to read at least 5 (I think) Christian books between Jan 1 and Apr 30, 2009.

1. Be Strong & Curvaceous - Shelley Adina
2. Grace for the Afflicted - Matthew Stanley
3. Scrapping Plans - Rebeca Seitz

4. Lost in Las Vegas - Melody Carlson
5. The Red Siren - M.L. Tyndall
6. The Valentine Edition - Robin Shope
7. It's All About Us - Shelley Adina
8. Lessons From San Quentin - Bill Dallas
9. John's Quest - Cecelia Dowdy
10. The Spring of Candy Apples - Debbie Viguie
11. I Do Again - Cheryl and Jeff Scruggs
12. Age Before Beauty - Virginia Smith
13. Fruit of My Lipstick - Shelley Adina
14. Kiss - Ted Dekker and Erin Healy
15. This Side of Heaven - Karen Kingsbury
16. The Stones - Eleanor Gustafson
17. Diamonds in the Shadow - Caroline B. Cooney
18. Scream - Mike Dellosso
19. Katt's in the Cradle - Ginger Kolbaba and Christy Scannell
20. Deadly Charm - Claudia Mair Burney
21. Yesterday's Embers - Deborah Raney
22. Rachel's Tears - Beth Nimmo and Darrell Scott
23. Fatal Illusions - Adam Blumer
24. So Not Happening - Jenny B. Jones
25. Murder, Mayhem and a Fine Man - Claudia Mair Burney
26. The Noticer - Andy Andrews
27. New York Debut - Melody Carlson

First Wild Card Tour - New York Debut by Melody Carlson

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!

My review is here.

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

New York Debut (Carter House Girls)

Zondervan (May 1, 2009)


Over the years, Melody Carlson has worn many hats, from pre-school teacher to youth counselor to political activist to senior editor. But most of all, she loves to write! Currently she freelances from her home. In the past ten years, she has published more than a hundred books for children, teens, and adults, with sales totaling more than 2.5 million and many titles appearing on the ECPA Bestsellers List.

Several of her books have been finalists for, and winners of, various writing awards including The Gold Medallion, The Christy, and The Rita Award. And most recently she is in the process of optioning some of her books for film rights.
She has two grown sons and lives in Central Oregon with her husband and chocolate lab retriever. They enjoy skiing, hiking, gardening, camping and biking in the beautiful Cascade Mountains.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $9.99
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (May 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310714931
ISBN-13: 978-0310714934


“Where is Taylor?” asked Grandmother as she drove DJ home from the airport.
”Is she coming on a later flight?”

DJ hadn’t told her the whole story yet. In fact, she hadn’t said much of anything to Grandmother at all during the past week, except to leave a message saying that she’d changed her flight and planned to be home two days earlier than expected. Obviously, Grandmother had assumed that Taylor had changed her plans as well.

“Taylor’s in LA,” DJ said slowly, wishing she could add something to that, something to deflect further questioning.

“Visiting her father?”


“Touring with Eva?”

“What then?” Grandmother’s voice was getting irritated as she drove away from the terminal. “Where is the girl, Desiree? Speak up.”

“She’s in rehab.”

“Rehab?” Grandmother turned to stare at DJ with widened eyes. “Whatever for?”

“For alcohol treatment.”

Grandmother seemed stunned into speechlessness, which was a relief since DJ didn’t really want to discuss this. She was still trying to grasp the whole strange phenomenon. It was hard to admit, but the past few days of being mostly by herself in Las Vegas had been lonely and depressing and one of the reasons she’d been desperate to change her flight and come home early. She had really missed Taylor. The hardest part was when she discovered that Taylor wasn’t allowed any communication from outside the rehab facility. This concerned DJ. No cell phone calls, email, or anything. It seemed weird. Although DJ was praying for her roommate, she was worried. What if it wasn’t a reputable place? What if Taylor never came back? What if something bad happened to her? Not only would DJ blame herself, she figured everyone else would too.

Finally Grandmother spoke. “Did you girls get into some kind of trouble in Las Vegas, Desiree?”


“I want you to be honest with me. Did something happen to precipitate this?”

“The only thing that happened is that Taylor came to grips with the fact that she has a serious drinking problem. If you’ll remember, I tried to let you in on this some time ago.”

“Yes, I remember the vodka bottle. I simply assumed it was a one-time occurrence.”

“I told you otherwise.”

“Well, I know that girls will be girls, Desiree. You can’t have spent as much time as I in the fashion industry and not know this.”

“Were you ever like that?” asked DJ. “I mean that girls will be girls bit?”

Grandmother cleared her throat. “I wasn’t an angel, Desiree, if that’s what you’re hinting at. However, I did understand the need for manners and decorum. I witnessed numerous young women spinning out of control. Beautiful or not, a model won’t last long if she is unable to work.”

“Isn’t that true with everything?”

“Yes…I suppose. How long is Taylor going to be in…this rehabilitation place?”

“I don’t know. You should probably call her mom.”

“Oh, dear…that’s something else I hadn’t considered. Certainly Eva Perez won’t be blaming me for her daughter’s, well, her drinking problem.”
“Eva is fully aware that Taylor had this drinking problem long before she came to Carter House.”

“Good.” Grandmother sighed and shook her head. “I just hope her treatment won’t prevent her from participating in Fashion Week. That would be a disaster.”

“Seems like it would be a worse disaster if Taylor didn’t get the help she needs.”

“Yes, of course, that goes without saying. But I would think that a week or two should be sufficient. Goodness, just how bad can a problem get when you’re only seventeen?”

DJ shrugged, but didn’t say anything. The truth was she thought it could get pretty bad, and in Taylor’s case it was bad. And it could’ve gotten worse. To think that Taylor had been drinking daily and DJ never even knew it.

“It’s just as well you came home early, Desiree,” said Grandmother as she turned onto the parkway. “Already Casey and Rhiannon are back. And Kriti is supposed to return tomorrow. Eliza will be back on New Year’s Eve.”

“I’m surprised she didn’t want to stay in France for New Year’s.”

“As am I. If I were over there, I’d certainly have booked a room in Paris. Nothing is more spectacular than fireworks over the City of Light. But apparently Eliza has plans with her boyfriend. Imagine—giving up Paris for your boyfriend!”

Of course, DJ knew that Eliza’s life of lavish luxury didn’t mean all that much to her. Like a poor little rich girl, Eliza wanted a slice of “normal.” Well, normal with a few little extras like good shoes, designer bags, and her pretty white Porsche.

“It’s good to be home,” DJ proclaimed as her grandmother turned into the driveway.

“It’s good to hear you say that,” said Grandmother.

And it was the truth. After a week in Vegas, DJ was extremely thankful to be back. Maybe for the first time, Carter House did feel like a home. She couldn’t wait to see Casey and Rhiannon.

“Welcome back,” called Casey as she opened the door, dashed out onto the porch, and hugged DJ. “Need some help with those bags?”

“Thanks.” DJ studied Casey for a moment, trying to figure out what had changed. “Your hair!”

Casey picked up one of DJ’s bags then grinned as she gave her strawberry blond hair a shake. “Like it?”

“It’s the old you—only better.”

“My mom talked me into it. The black was a little dramatic, don’t you think?”

“I think you look fantastic. And that choppy layered cut is very cute.”

“Your grandmother approved it too. And I got highlights.”

DJ touched her own hair. “Taylor had been nagging me to get mine redone. But it was so expensive in Vegas. I figured I’d do it here.”

Casey lowered her voice. “So how’d your grandmother take the news about Taylor?”

DJ stopped at the foot of the stairs and stared at Casey. “Did Rhiannon tell you everything?”
“Yeah, is it supposed to be a big secret?” Casey made a hurt face now. “I was wondering why you told Rhiannon and not me. I thought we were friends, DJ.”

“I didn’t mean to, but I sort of spilled the beans with Rhiannon because I was so desperate and didn’t know what to do at the time. But then I felt bad. I mean it was possible that Taylor wanted to keep it private, you know?”

Casey nodded somberly. “Yeah, I guess I do know.”

“You should.” After all, it had only been a few months since they had intervened with Casey in regard to her pain pill snitching.

“So, are you saying mum’s the word?”

“Until Taylor comes back. Don’t you think it’s up to her to say something or not?”

“Yeah. I can just imagine Eliza with that tasty little morsel of gossip. It’d be all over the school in no time.”

“Speaking of Eliza, that means Kriti too.”

“Kriti just got here about an hour ago.” Casey paused, nodding toward the room that Kriti and Eliza shared. The taxi dropped her and she went straight to her room. But something seems wrong.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’m not sure. She just looks different. Kind of unhappy. I mean she didn’t even say hello or anything.”

“Maybe she was missing her family.”

“Maybe, but my guess is it’s something more.”

“We should probably try harder to reach out to her and make her feel at home.”

“You’re here!” Rhiannon burst out of the room and threw her arms around DJ. “Welcome home!”

“Man, it is so good to be back. Vegas—for more than a day or two—is a nightmare.”

“At least you got a tan,” observed Rhiannon. She glanced at Casey. “Both of you, in fact.”

“It’s that California sun.”

“Don’t make me envious,” said Rhiannon.

“Hey, look at you,” said DJ as she noticed that Rhiannon had on a very cool outfit. “Is that new?”

“Old and new. My great aunt gave me some of her old clothes and I’ve been altering them.” She held out her hands and turned around to make the long circular skirt spin out. “Fun, huh?”

“And cool,” said DJ.

“She’s got all kinds of stuff,” said Casey. “Hats and costume jewelry and scarves and things. I told her she should open a retro shop and get rich.”

“Maybe I will someday.”

“Or just sell things here in Carter House,” suggested DJ. “Between Eliza and Taylor’s clothing budget, you could clean up.”

“Oh, yeah, DJ, Conner just called,” said Rhiannon. “They just got back from their ski trip and he said he tried your cell a few times, but it seemed to be turned off.”

“More like dead. My flight was so early this morning, I forgot to charge it.”

“Well, I told him you’d call.”

Casey set DJ’s bag inside her door. “Speaking of boys, I think I’ll check and see how Garrison is doing—find out if he missed me or not.” She touched her hair. “Do you think he’ll like it?”

“How could he not,” said Rhiannon. “It’s so cool.”

“Later,” called Casey as she headed for her room.

“So, how’s Taylor?” asked Rhiannon quietly.

“You didn’t tell Kriti, did you?” whispered DJ, pulling Rhiannon into her room then closing the door.

“No, why would I?”

“I just wanted to be sure. I think we need to respect Taylor’s privacy with this.”

“Absolutely. So, have you talked to her?”

“They won’t let me. They have this no communication policy. No email, cell phones…nothing. It’s like a black hole. Weird.”

Rhiannon nodded. “Yeah, it was like that with my mom at first. I think they wanted to keep her cut off from any bad connections. Then after a while, you earn communication privileges.”

“Oh, that’s a relief. I was really worried.”

“I still can hardly believe Taylor went willingly.”

“Yeah, our strong-willed wild child…putting herself into rehab.” DJ shook her head.

“That remind me, Seth has called a few times too. He wanted to know why Taylor’s cell was off and where she was.”

“What’d you say?”

“That I didn’t know.” She shrugged. “Actually, that was the truth.”

“But nothing else?”

“Good. I mean it’s not like we need to keep it top secret, but until we hear from Taylor, let’s not talk about it.”

“Sure.” Rhiannon put a hand on DJ’s shoulder. “And don’t worry about her, DJ. She’ll be fine.”
“I know.” DJ nodded as she put her bags on her bed and started to unzip them. But as soon as Rhiannon left, DJ wasn’t so sure. What if Taylor wasn’t fine? What if something had gone wrong? And what if it was all DJ’s fault?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday: The Big Picture

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

The Big Picture (Filmmaking Lessons From a Life on the Set) by Tom Reilly

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books/MacMillan

Available: May 12, 2009

Film production veteran Tom Reilly has worked on the sets of critically praised films and commercial blockbusters for more than three decades, including seventeen years alongside director Woody Allen. In The Big Picture, he explores the art and the craft of filmmaking from the vantage point of someone actually running the movie set. Using examples unlike any of those in other books on film, Reilly exposes not only the power and the personalities, but the secrets of the pros. He shares the insights he gleaned while working with more than sixty Oscar-winning professionals, from Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, and Vanessa Redgrave to Sydney Pollack, Sven Nykvist, and Barbra Streisand.

In these fifty entertaining, illuminating short essays, Reilly invites you to join him on the film set. What is it like to shoot a love scene? How do you do a full body burn? What is it like to film in the Everglades or in a morgue? What is blocking or matching, and how long should a script be? How do you decide when to build a set? Why is the color palette so critical? Is night shooting worth the suffering?

The Big Picture delivers the surprising answers to these and other fascinating questions about what it takes to make a feature film, offering a glimpse into what it’s like when the lights are bright, the camera is rolling, and the moviemakers are calling the shots. (Description from publisher's website)

What are you waiting for? Waiting on Wednesdays is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Library Loot 4-29-2009

I went to the library over the weekend, but it was to persue their annual book sale - which I found out they are going to start having monthly in June! They do have a used book store, but for their annual sale the prices were greatly reduced! Hardbacks were a quarter and paperbacks were 3 for a quarter. So for only $4.00 I got the following books (they threw in the paperbacks since I bought 16 hardcovers!)

The Burden of Proof - Scott Turow

Sweet Revenge - Nora Roberts

The Innocent Man - John Grisham

Crescent City - Belva Plain

Remembrance - Jude Devereaux
Twin of Fire - Jude Devereaux
Twin of Ice - Jude Devereaux
The Temptress - Jude Devereaux

Malice - Danielle Steel
Bungalow 2 - Danielle Steel
Mixed Blessings - Danielle Steel
Love: Poems - Danielle Steel
The Promise - Danielle Steel
Kaleidoscope - Danielle Steel

To Have and To Hold - Fern Michaels

Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides

The Indwelling (Left Behind Series #7) - Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins
The Mark (Left Behind Series #8) - Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins

"O" is for Outlaw - Sue Grafton

I got some other books last week from a Media exchange that we had at our MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) meeting. You could bring in any kind of media (books, CDs, DVDs, VHS tapes, etc) - but for every child item you had to take a child item and for adult item you had to take an adult item.

I picked up six books from this exchange -

Wish You Well - David Baldacci
The Simple Truth - David Baldacci

The Other Queen - Philippa Gregory

Blind Alley - Iris Johansen

Keeping Faith - Jodi Picoult
The Tenth Circle - Jodi Picoult

There are certain authors that I like to keep in my permanent library - and I have no rhyme or reason why I pick those authors, but something at some time appealed to me about them. This list is as varied as Stephen King and Anne Rice to Anne Perry and Jodi Picoult. Do any of you have authors that you collect?

Wondrous Words 4-29-2009

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading. To join in the fun, post your words on your blog and then leave a message over at Bermudaonion's Blog!

My first word this week is from Wild Highland Magic by Kendra Leigh Castle.

Vitriol - Used like this: Taken aback by the vitriol, Bastian frowned. (p8)

Definition - Bitterly abusive feeling or expression.

The rest of my words are from Fire Me by Libby Malin.

Cels - Used like this: Ken had seen Mitch's "bad news" act before and could plot it out like cels in a cartoon. (p 33)
Definition - A cel, short for celluloid, is a transparent sheet on which objects are drawn or painted for traditional, hand-drawn animation.

dotage - used like this - Maybe Anne was slowing down in her dotage.(p49)

Definition - a state or period of senile decay marked by decline of mental poise and alertness

bollix - used like this - She sat at her desk drumming her fingers, ready to jump in and bollix things up but stalled by swirling jitters.(p49)

Definition - to throw into disorder

petard - used like this - She'd hoist Mitch on his own petard today. (p50)

Definition - A small bell-shaped bomb used to breach a gate or wall

Fun Fact - Word History: The French used pétard, "a loud discharge of intestinal gas," for a kind of infernal engine for blasting through the gates of a city. "To be hoist by one's own petard," a now proverbial phrase apparently originating with Shakespeare's Hamlet (around 1604) not long after the word entered English (around 1598), means "to blow oneself up with one's own bomb, be undone by one's own devices." The French noun pet, "fart," developed regularly from the Latin noun peditum, from the Indo-European root *pezd-, "fart." (from www.thefreedictionary.com)

veneration - used like this - She squinted at Ken, trying to see him through her eyes alone, not through her previous veneration of Mitch.(p55)

Definition - Profound respect or reverence

New York Debut by Melody Carlson (Book Review)

Author: Melody Carlson
Publisher: Zondervan
Available: May 1, 2009
Genre: YA Fiction/Christian
ISBN-10: 0310714931
ISBN-13: 978-0310714934

I read this for the First Wild Card Tour April 30, 2009.

First sentence: "Where is our Taylor?" asked Grandmother pleasantly.

Book 6 in the Carter House Girls series picks up as DJ is being picked up from the airport on her return from Las Vegas (see my review of book 5, Lost in Las Vegas). Taylor is noticeably absent and DJ has to share with her grandmother that she is at a rehab facility in California for alcohol abuse. Grandmother is upset and disappointed because she is afraid that Taylor won't make it back in time for Fashion Week in NYC.

As school starts up again after New Years, DJ, Rhiannon and Casey begin to notice that Kriti seems to be eating less and working out more. They do an intervention and Kriti confesses that Eliza has been influencing her to lose weight. They convince her she doesn't need to and move her in with DJ - away from Eliza.

Grandmother begins having classes on Saturday mornings to teach the girls about etiquette, manners and how to "own" the cat walk. She opens these up to the community and the Carter House girls find themselves spending time with Daisy, a new friend, and Madison and Tina, two old enemies.

I had only read book 5 prior to this book (other books in the series include Mixed Bags, Stealing Bradford, Homecoming Queen, and Viva Vermont). Again, it was hard to differentiate all the girls at first, and I would not have had a clue had I not read Lost in Las Vegas. I don't think it reads well as a stand alone. That being said, it does have good lessons and values for a teenage Christian girl to follow and illustrates how one can turn to God in all sorts of situations. I hope to eventually be able to go back and read the first 4 books in this series. Bikini Breakdown is book 7 of this series and it is due out in October 2009.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

My New Reading Room - Update

My son would not leave the back door while they were framing up the area to pour the new foundation for the room. He had to have the door open (so we had to wear our coats inside, as it wasn't quite warm enough - and we were both catching colds anyway!) and when lunch time rolled around he asked if he could sit with a tray and watch them work! He had to go to school after lunch though, so they were just finishing up when he got home.

I am pretty sure that he didn't even know I was taking his picture! Doesn't he look like he just wants to go and jump on it!

What's on Your Nightstand 4-28-2009

This is my second month doing this post - I actually remembered it! This meme is hosted by Jennifer at 5 Minutes for Books.
Here are the books that I have finished this month:
  1. Lady Anne and the Howl in the Dark by Donna Lea Simpson. This was an arc from Sourcebooks and it was really good. I just received the second book in this series - Lady Anne and the Ghost's Revenge.
  2. An Offer You Can't Refuse by Jill Mansell was also an ARC from Sourcebooks. This one was a delightful British chick lit book. I also hosted Jill as my first author interview!
  3. Rachel's Tears by Beth Nimmo and Darrell Scott. This was an ARC from Thomas Nelson Publishers. I wanted to read it to commemorate the 10 year anniversary of the Columbine tragedy. It was heartwrenching.
  4. Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr. I read in preparation for Fragile Eternity which I have received as an ARC. I had never read a faery book before and this one was a great one to start with!
  5. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling. This was an audio book that I listened to whenever I was in my car. It had an ending that I was not prepared for but it was very good.
  6. The Boneman's Daughter by Ted Dekker. This was a galley that I received from Net Galley. It was my second Ted Dekker book and I loved it. I have since won a copy of the hardcover book as I plan on making his part of my permanent library.
  7. Fatal Illusions by Adam Blumer. This was a thriller that I read for a First Wild Card Tour. It was a great book with lots of twists. Also has a strong Christian foundation.
  8. The Girl She Used to Be by David Cristofano. This was an ARC I read for Hachette books. It was a good book, but not exactly what I was expecting.
  9. The Lost Hours by Karen White. My first Pump Up Your Book Tour and guest blogger - I loved this book and can say that it was one of my favorites this month!
  10. So Not Happening by Jenny B. Jones was read for a First Wild Card Tour. It was an okay book for me, but middle schoolers would probably love it.
  11. Murder, Mayhem and a Fine Man by Claudia Mair Burney I got from my library. I read the third book in this series - Deadly Charm - last month. I loved it so much I had to go find the first book!
  12. The Noticer by Andy Andrews I read for Thomas Nelson. This book was probably my quickest read this month, but definitely well worth it!

Waiting to be reviewed:

  1. New York Debut by Melody Carlson - Review is set to post on Wednesday in prepartion for First Wild Card Tour on Thursday.

Currently Reading:

  1. Wild Highland Magic by Kendra Leigh Castle
  2. Fire Me! by Libby Malin
  3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
  4. Pleasure Unbound by Larissa Ione

Coming up:

  1. Enduring Justice by Amy Wallace
  2. Mom's Got a Fake I.D. by Caryn Dahlstrand Rivedeneira
  3. Dear Mom by Melody Carlson
  4. The Shipwreck of a Nation by H. Peter Nennhaus
  5. Enemies and Allies by Kevin Anderson
  6. Madewell Brown by Rick Collignon
  7. Conscience Point by Erica Abeel

I also have the following giveaways going on:

  1. An Offer You Can't Refuse by Jill Mansell (1 book, 1 winner) - ending May 1
  2. Mom's Got a Fake I.D., Dear Mom, and Enduring Justice (3 winners, 1 book each) ending May 10
  3. The Girl Who Stopped Swimming (5 winners) by Joshilyn Jackson ending May 15
  4. Made in the U.S.A. (5 winners) by Billie Letts ending May 18

Where are you? 4-28-2009

I am an American visiting the Scottish Highlands - but not just any American. I am an American werewolf. I am finally meeting the rest of my pack, or family, the MacInnes at Iargail, our family home. (Wild Highland Magic by Kendra Leigh Castle)

Where is your reading taking you? Stop over at Adventure in Reading and share!

Teaser Tuesday 4-28-2009

TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:
Grab your current read.
Let the book fall open to a random page.
Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
Please avoid spoilers!

Less than a second later, the apple was in Duke's hand. He hadn't seen the boy throw it, didn't see it flying toward him. There was just a golden zip out of the corner of his eye, and his fingers clutched instinctively once the skin of his palm touched the skin of the fruit. (p51, Stealing Home)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Murder, Mayhem and a Fine Man by Claudia Mair Burney (Book Review)

Title: Murder, Mayhem and a Fine Man (an Amanda Bell Brown mystery)
Author: Claudia Mair Burney
Genre: Mystery/Christian
Available: Now
ISBN-10: 1416551948
ISBN-13: 978-1416551942

I read this book for fun.

First sentence: I had every reason to be peeved, and I told Carly so.

Amanda Bell Brown was celebrating her 40th birthday with her sister Carly when it was interrupted by murder. You see, Carly is a medical examiner and she was the one on call. The victims were two men whose house Bell had been to years before when she was working/investigating cults. But if it wouldn't have been for those murders, Bell would never have met Jazz Brown - lieutenant with the Detroit Police Department.

And so begins Bell and Jazz's friendship - courtship - headlong tumble into love - whatever you want to call it. As they work together to try to solve these murders (Bell is a forensic psychologist) they learn how much they really care for each other.

One of the cult members, Susan, "escapes" and ends up at The Rock House. This is the church Bell attends, where the pastor, Rocky, is also her ex-boyfriend. Susan appears to be in a catatonic state, so Bell goes to visit her to see if she can get her to talk. After waiting hours, Susan doesn't move or speak so Bell goes home. The next day Susan writes Bell's name, so she called in again. She doesn't say much, but what she does say seems to implicate someone for the murders. Susan soon leaves the Rock House and nobody can find her.

Bell gets Rocky to tell her the addresses/phone numbers that Susan gave them when she showed up - before she went catatonic. Bell sets out to find the leader of the cult. She puts her life on the line to try to save the women and children involved. You see - 10 years earlier, she was actually in a cult where she was beaten and de-humanized - where she eventually lost a baby she was carrying. She has a hard time separating the present from these haunting memories in her past.

When the cult leader and Susan show up at her apartment, what will she risk to save Jazz, who she believes might be "The One?"

I recently read Deadly Charm (review here) which was the third Amanda Bell Brown mystery. I loved this one as much as that one and can't wait to get book 2 - Death, Deceit and Some Smooth Jazz. There is something about the way the author writes that just stays with me. I love the sarcastic flirting that goes on between these two - it keeps me smiling all the way through the book. Sometimes, reading as many books as I do, the characters can get mixed up or the plots can be confusing - but I don't find this happening when I read the Amanda Bell Brown books. Keep them coming!

The Noticer by Andy Andrews (Book Review)

Title: The Noticer
Sometimes, all a person needs is a little perspective
Author: Andy Andrews
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Available: 4-28-2009
Genre: Inspirational
ISBN-10: 0785229213
ISBN-13: 978-0785229216
I read this book for Thomas Nelson Publishers.

First sentence: His name was Jones.

What a great little book this was to read. Only 160 pages in length, so it was very quick, but it is packed full of good advice. Advice on how and why to change your "perspective."

The stories ranged from a young homeless man (the author), to a couple on the brink of divorce, to an elderly lady who feels her usefulness has passed. After they all encounter a mysterious old man named Jones, their lives change. All because he allows them to see their lives and their futures with a different perspective. Just by asking them very simple questions, and leading them to see their problems from a logical perspective, they can begin to understand how to change those things they think are problems or obstacles.

For several minutes, we both sat silently, watching the gulls soar
overhead, listening to the surf break on the beach. Then Jones began to gather the empty cans and place them in the plastic bag. Standing, he extended his hand and helped me to my feet. "Incidentally," he said with a smirk, "you ate sardines and Vienna sausages in the sand. I dined on surf and turf with an ocean view." He slapped me on the back. "It's all about the perspective." (p 15-16)

One chapter touches on the principles of the Five Love Languages - illustrating 4 of those languages as animals.

  • Spoken Words of Approval as being a puppy dog. You respond and need this verbal affirmation.
  • Favors and Deeds like a goldfish. You don't care if the other person is around, can't hear them - but you depend on them to feed you and clean your bowl.
  • Physical Contact like a cat - You like to be touched, petted, scratched - just like a cat shows their love to you by rubbing against you.
  • Quality Time would be a canary - You don't need to really do anything for them, but they just want you in the room.

Please watch the book trailer to find out about all the different scenarios he tackles in this book.

I think this would be a great book to share with anyone! It is written in such a way that I think it could impact young adults as well as senior citizens. The lessons he teaches transcend any age. They are mainly based on not being so wrapped up in yourself, but just to take the time and effort to notice those around you. When you do, you will see how it changes your perspective.

“Most people think it takes a long time to change. It doesn’t. Change is immediate! Instantaneous! It may take a long time to decide to change . . . but change happens in a heartbeat!” (p 110)

To see more about this - go to The Noticer Project at www.TheNoticerProject.com.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

So Not Happening by Jenny B. Jones (Book Review)

Title: So Not Happening
Author: Jenny B. Jones
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: YA Fiction/Christian
Available: May 5, 2009

ISBN-10: 1595545417
ISBN-13: 978-1595545411
I read this for the First Wild Card Tour.

First sentence: One year ago my mom got traded in for a newer model.

Bella's life has been turned upside down. In the blink of an eye she has gone from living in NYC with her "plastic surgeon to the stars" father and her charity, fund-raising mom - to living in Truman, Oklahoma. On a farm, no less, with her mom, new step-dad, and two step brothers. The oldest which seems to be going to great lengths to make her life impossible.

To make matters worse, she manages to alienate herself further when she blogs at her old school's website (Hilliard School for Girls) about the lack of fashion, brains and everything in between at Truman. This information spreads quickly throughout Truman High School, her new alma-mater.

As a form of punishment she is placed on the school's newspaper staff, where she meets the 'sorta hot' editor Luke. His first assignment for her is to sit in the school's trash dumpster and see if she can dig anything up.

She manages to overhear a conversation between two football players which puts her on the scent of a real story. A story that may or may not explain the apparent suicide of a player the previous year, a car crash that landed one student in a nursing home wasting away and why her stepbrother is so hostile to everyone.

Even though Luke tells her to stay out of the story she thinks she has uncovered and stay focused on her "trash" story, Bella can't seem to contain her nosy nature.

Come join her in an adventure which threatens her life as well as her younger stepbrother's, takes her to a sweaty wrestling gym and to a railroad overpass.

This was a cute read. Although Bella is a Christian, you don't see a lot of evidence to support this. She spends a lot of time lamenting about her suddenly awful life and why everyone should feel sorry for her. She doesn't bother to consider that her presence in her new home may make others uncomfortable as well. She was in many instances where she could have called on God, but just sort of relied on luck. (It also seems to be missing how her mother went from her somewhat shallow life in NYC to becoming a Christian and marrying this man in Oklahoma because she felt it was God's will.) I do sort of think that a lot of Christian teens live this sort of self-centered life these days. I think that part of being a teen is learning to let go of believing you are the center of the universe. There also seems to be a lack of good role models for today's teens. Bella was a good person, but she could have taken a more "cross-centered" approach to many of her problems.

Mailbox Monday 4-27-2009

It is time for another edition of Mailbox Monday hosted at The Printed Page or In Your Mailbox at The Story Siren. Please stop by those posts and take a look at what packages everybody else got this week! Don't forget to check out my giveaways!

I felt the mailbox love this week! I probably won't be posting a lot of comments this month, as I have a ton of reading to do - but I will still be reading everyone's blogs! A really big thank you to all the publishers and blogs that contributed to my reading addiction this week!!!!

Gold of Kings by Davis Bunn was received for a First Wild Card Tour.

Will she decipher the mysteries leading to the sacred relic, or be defeated by the foes racing to claim it and destroy her?

A dealer in art and antiquities, Storm Syrrell arranges her life as she does her work -- into neat, orderly categories. But when her grandfather is murdered, all certainties are crushingly replaced by suspicions. She struggles to understand his death -- and decipher the frayed leather journal she finds hidden in his vault. Storm soon realizes that, far from being simply a discreet art broker, Sean Syrrell was a trusted go-between in the highest ranks of business and government in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.

But not all of Sean's associates were quite so lofty. Enter Harry Bennett, a scruffy professional treasure hunter just released from a Caribbean jail, followed by Emma Webb, a US government lawyer with links to Interpol. Storm pushes her doubts aside, locks the door to her Palm Beach art gallery, and opens herself to the quest begun by her grandfather.

Their trail leads them ever farther afield -- London, France, Istanbul, Cyprus -- and ever deeper into danger. The thrill of the search is haunted by Storm's determination to bring Sean's murderers to justice. Storm and Harry in turn are targeted by an unknown assassin and saved from death only by Harry's split-second reactions.

Their quest homes in on the Copper Scroll of Qumran and controversial claims made by the Jewish historian Josephus. Hidden beneath the dust and mysteries of two thousand years lies the reason behind Sean Syrrell's murder and the find of a lifetime: a fortune in gold of great historical significance. Storm begins to grasp the potential magnitude such artifacts will have on contemporary religion and politics -- especially the competing historical claims to Jerusalem. Some seek to claim the gold for the treasure it represents; others are determined to destroy it. With the tangled motives of greed and power now in focus, old allies become new enemies. Through this, something unexpected tugs at Storm. The sacred relics represent a formidable metaphor to an ancient faith; will her search include a renewal of her own faith?

Made in the U.S.A. by Billie Letts was received from Valerie at Hachette for a blog tour.

Lutie Mcfee’s history has taught her to avoid attachments. . .to people, to places, and to almost everything. With her mother long dead and her father gone to find his fortune in Las Vegas, fifteen-year-old Lutie lives in the godforsaken town of Spearfish, South Dakota, with her eleven-year-old brother, Fate, and Floy, her father’s three-hundred-pound ex-girlfriend.

As if their life were not dismal enough, one day in their local Wal-Mart, Floy keels over and the two motherless kids have the choice of becoming wards of the state or hightailing it out of town in Floy’s old Pontiac. Choosing the latter, they head off in search of a father with no particular interest in the kids he left behind. Alternately heartbreaking and life-affirming, Made in the USA is the story of two children who must discover how cruel, ungair, and frightening the world is before they finally find a place where they belong.

I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti By Giulia Melucci I won from Proud Bookworm

“Whenever I start dating someone new, I just can’t hold back. No matter how often my girlfriends warn me, “Take it slow, let him win you over, don’t give it away so quickly,” I just can’t resist - have to cook for him…. “

From failure to fusilli, this irresistible book tells the story of Giulia Melucci’s fizzled romances and of the mouth-watering recipes she used to seduce her men, smooth over the lumps, and console herself when the relationships flamed out.

At the start of the nineteen-nineties, Giulia moved out of the Brooklyn home where she was raised full of romantic hopes and her mother’s excellent Italian cooking. She dreamed of finding the perfect guy, but fresh ingredients were scarce. After nearly twenty years of New York City dating she had nothing more than a slew of broken relationships under her belt. Well, that and a heap of delicious recipes, which she shares here along with stories of her doomed amorous adventures.

An affectionate alcoholic, a classic New York City commitment-phobe, a hipster aged well past his sell date, and not one but two novelists with Peter Pan complexes – no matter what their fatal flaw, Giulia has cooked for them. She suffers each disappointment with resolute cheer (after a good cry) and a bowl of pastina (recipe included), and has lived to tell the tale so that other women may find a better recipe for love – or at least go to bed with something good to eat. Peppered throughout Giulia’s delightful and often poignant remembrances are fond recollections of her childhood kitchen and the recipes she learned from her other, and many Giulia has invented herself inspired by the men in her life.

You will laugh along with Giulia as she manages to find the lighter side of each disappointment as you swoon over her irresistible culinary creations.

Mix one part humor, a dash of sarcasm, and lots of heart – then devour this story of a woman looking everywhere for love. . . and finding it on the stove.

To Beguile a Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt was received from Hachette Books.


Reclusive Sir Alistair Munroe has hidden in his castle ever since returning from the Colonies, scarred inside and out. But when a mysterious beauty arrives at his door, the passions he's kept suppressed for years begin to awaken.


Running from past mistakes has taken legendary beauty Helen Fitzwilliam from the luxury of the ton to a crumbling Scottish castle . . . and a job as a housekeeper. Yet Helen is determined to start a new life and she won't let dust-or a beast of a man-scare her away.


Beneath Helen's beautiful façade, Alistair finds a courageous and sensual woman. A woman who doesn't back away from his surliness-or his scars. But just as he begins to believe in true love, Helen's secret past threatens to tear them apart. Now both Beast and Beauty must fight for the one thing neither believed they could ever find-a happy ever after.

Bound to Please by Lilli Feisty was received from Hachette Books.


Ruby Scott is a beautiful, quiet event planner who leads an oh-so-respectable life. Yet the things that go on in her secret fantasies are anything but. She has every intention of keeping her hidden desires under wraps-until she meets a gorgeous, hard-muscled man ten years her junior. Mark St. Crow is a gifted, up-and-coming musician who collects erotic art and loves to "play" women as much as his piano. After one night of uninhibited passion, Ruby realizes there's no turning back. But as she surrenders to her deepest needs and lets Mark control every forbidden thrill, her passion for him builds. Can the wild, intoxicating nights they share lead to a love that will last forever?

To Tempt the Wolf by Terry Spear was received from Danielle at Sourcebooks.

She’s fascinated by wolves – but they are obsessed with her
Tessa Anderson doesn’t know why wolves are attracted to her, and she certainly doesn’t know that werewolves exist. Now she’s being stalked—but is her stalker wolf or man? And who is the gorgeous stranger whose life she saved, who now swears he’ll protect her?

He’s an Alpha without a pack, facing a deadly enemy
Hunter Greymore is a lupus garon, a grey werewolf. His pack has abandoned him after losing their homes in a raging wildfire. When he encounters Tessa, he’s alone and injured, but he quickly realizes the danger to her is much worse than anything threatening him. . .

In his attempts to shield her from harm, Hunter discovers that Tessa entices him beyond endurance. . . it’s only a matter of time before his wild nature can no longer be restrained.

The Treasures of Venice by Loucinda McGary was received from Danielle at Sourcebooks.

He’s a charming Irish Rogue who never met a lock he couldn’t pick. . .
Keirnan Fitzgerald is desperate to locate the missing Jewels of the Madonna. With danger at every corner and time running out, he must use whatever means possible to uncover the stolen jewels in time to save his sister’s life. . .

She’s simply in Venice to relax and heal her broken heart. . .
Samantha Lewis is shocked when a dashing stranger approaches her in a Venetian café pretending to know her. She’s ready for something new and exciting in her life, so she throws caution to the wind and accompanies the Irish charmer into his dangerous world of intrigue, theft, and betrayal.

As the centuries-old story behind the Jewels’ disappearance is revealed, Samantha must decide whether the man she’s so compellingly drawn to is her soul mate from a prevous life, or if they are merely pawns in a relentless quest for a priceless treasure. . .

Lady Anne and the Ghost's Revenge by Donna Lee Simpson was received from Danielle at Sourcebooks.

A fascinating and exasperating young lady . . . After the Marquess of Darkefell offers her a most inopportune marriage proposal, Lady Anne Addison flees to the Cornwall coast for a bit of sun and rest. But the place is anything but restful, with smugglers on the beaches, ghostly apparitions in the night, and the obsessively passionate marquess in hot pursuit of her. . .

A compelling and masterful man. . . Even if she doesn’t want his help, Lord Darkefell is determined to assist Lady Anne in uncovering the secret of the mysterious – and apparently dangerous – goings-on. When a murder takes place, Darkefell is the prime suspect, and now he needs her help even more than she needs his. . .

Horrid Henry by Francesca Simon was received from Danielle at Sourcebooks.

Horrid Henry and his neighbor Moody Margaret decideto make the most sloppy, slimy, sludgy, sticky, smelly, gooey, gluey, gummy, greasy, gloppy glop possible. Is it the best glop in the world or the worst thing that's ever happened to them? Plus three other stories so funny we can't even mention them here.

I Love You More by Laura Kuksta was received from Danielle at Sourcebooks.

I Love You More is a book about love presented as a children's book. It is a flip-sided book meaning it starts from both sides and ends in the middle. Like love it actually never ends, and it represents the two sides of love the giving and receiving. The book has a heartfelt story, a rhyming and rhythmic text and child-like illustrations that make it an instatnt favorite. It is a story told between a mother and child that people enjoy sharing with loved ones of all ages. "I Love You longer than the longest path ever wound. I Love You prettier than the prettiest flower ever found," says the mom. "I Love You quieter than the quietest caterpillar ever creeped. I Love You further than the furthest frog ever leaped," replies the son. The replies continue until the middle where they both insist, "I Love You More!" When our children know they are loved anything is possible. I Love You More captures the power and magic of unconditional love. The book quickly turns into a treasured game families will cherish forever. Love transends gender, age, race and religion. Love is all there is. Too often love is assumed and not expressed. Love should be seen, heard, expressed, shown, felt and more! Love heals, love empowers and love erases fear. Love is the most powerful gift we can share with one another. I Love You More is access to that gift. Enjoy.( Description from amazon)

Fire by Kristin Cashore was received from Penguin via Shelf Awareness.

It is not a peaceful time in the Dells. Young King Nash clings to the throne, while rebel lords, in the north and south, build armies to unseat him. War is coming. The mountains and forests are filled with spies and thieves.

This is where Fire lives, a girl whose startling appearance is impossibly irresistible and who can control the minds of everyone around her.
Everyone . . except Prince Brigan.

Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr I ordered off of Amazon with a gift card that I won from My Friend Amy.

Seventeen-year-old Leslie knows nothing of faeries or their shadowy power struggles. When she is attracted to an eerily beautiful tattoo, all she knows is that she has to have it, convinced it is a tangible symbol of changes she desperately craves for her own life.

The tattoo does bring changes – not the kind that Leslie has dreamed of, but sinister, compelling changes that bind Leslie to Irial, a dark and dangerous faery king fighting for the soul of his court. Slowly, Leslie is drawn deeper and deeper into the faery world, unable to resist its allures, and helpless to withstand its perils. . .Melissa Marr continues her tales of Faerie in a dark, ravishing story of temptation and consequences, and of heroism when least expected.

A Short History of Women by Kate Walbert was received as a GoodReads First Look book.

A Short History of Women is a haunting novel that chronicles five generations of women, the social forces that shape them, and the sometimes startling choices they make in the world.

The novel opens in England in 1914 at the deathbed of Dorothy Townsend, a brilliant suffragist whose decision to starve herself for the cause echoes in the lives of her descendants – from her daughter, Evelyn, who attempts to escape the burden of her mother’s legacy and the devastation of World War I Britain by immigrating to America, to her great-granddaughter, Liz, whose drunken playdate on Manhattan’s Upper West Side exposes the free-floating anxiety of the times. In a kaleidoscope of voices, Walbert deftly explores the ways in which successive generations of women have attempted to address what the late nineteenth century called “The Woman Questions.” Her novel is a wise and moving reflection on the tides of history and how the lives of our great-grandmothers continue to resonate in our own.

On the Run by Bill Myers was received for a First Wild Card Tour.

Zach and Piper aren’t the only ones to notice their little brother’s supernatural gifts. Something evil is also paying attention. Now the kids must learn to draw strength from heaven while being pursued by the powers of darkness.

Zach and Piper battle to save their little brother from the forces of darkness.

The only thing more bizarre than the miracle Zach and Piper’s six-year-old brother, Elijah, performed is the strange note from their parents. So begins a wild chase across the country as the two attempt to find their father and mother and protect their brother. Unfortunately, trying to look “normal” isn’t easy for three kids on the run in a borrowed motor home. And Elijah’s habit of performing miracles doesn’t help! Will aid from a mysterious stranger be enough to assist in their escape from the evil pursuing them?

Always Watching by Brandilyn Collins and Amberly Collins was received for a First Wild Card Tour.

This daughter of a rock star has it all—until murder crashes her world.The exciting and suspenseful Rayne Tour series features sixteen-year-old Shaley O’Connor, on tour with her mother’s popular band. Shaley lives in a whirlwind of backstage secrets, hotels, and limos. With beauty and fame of her own, Shaley wants for nothing … except the one thing she can’t have. During a concert, sixteen-year-old Shaley O’Connor stumbles upon the body of a friend backstage. Is Tom Hutchens’ death connected to her?Frightening messages arrive. Paparazzi stalk Shaley. Her private nightmare is displayed for all to see. Where is God at a time like this? As the clock runs out, Shaley must find Tom’s killer—before he strikes again.

Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult was won from Book Club Girl.

Things break all the time.
Day breaks, waves break, voices break.
Promises break.
Hearts break.

Every expectant parent will tell you that they don't want a perfect baby, just a healthy one. Charlotte and Sean O'Keefe would have asked for a healthy baby, too, if they'd been given the choice. Instead, their lives are made up of sleepless nights, mounting bills, the pitying stares of "luckier" parents, and maybe worst of all, the what-ifs. What if their child had been born healthy? But it's all worth it because Willow is, well, funny as it seems, perfect. She's smart as a whip, on her way to being as pretty as her mother, kind, brave, and for a five-year-old an unexpectedly deep source of wisdom. Willow is Willow, in sickness and in health.

Everything changes, though, after a series of events forces Charlotte and her husband to confront the most serious what-ifs of all. What if Charlotte should have known earlier of Willow's illness? What if things could have been different? What if their beloved Willow had never been born? To do Willow justice, Charlotte must ask herself these questions and one more. What constitutes a valuable life?

Emotionally riveting and profoundly moving, Handle with Care brings us into the heart of a family bound by an incredible burden, a desperate will to keep their ties from breaking, and, ultimately, a powerful capacity for love. Written with the grace and wisdom she's become famous for, beloved #1 New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult offers us an unforgettable novel about the fragility of life and the lengths we will go to protect it.

Mrs. Meyer's Clean Home was won from Book Reviews by Bobbie.

When Thelma Meyer tells it to you, she tells it straight: Clean the kitchen daily! Don't waste anything (not even the water leftover from those potatoes you just boiled)! Always work hard! This philosophy meant that when Thelma's daughter Monica founded Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day products (named after her mom), the products were designed to work hard for you.

Now for the first time, Thelma's sage advice is being made available in this revolutionary cleaning guide chock full of practical tips and secrets based on the premise that life is hectic and messy -- and so keeping your house clean and nice is the only sensible thing to do. With shortcuts and tips for cleaning the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and living room, MRS MEYER'S CLEAN HOME contains unexpected advice such as: --Never use vinegar and water on wood floors. One part dish soap and four parts water is the only way to truly get them clean. And remember to buff with a terrycloth towel.

--Always clean out the fridge before grocery shopping. Serve the kids "Musko" ("must go") for dinner, using the items that were fast approaching expiration. --Wash windows on a cloudy day to avoid the nasty streaking that happens when the sun's out and glass dry too fast. MRS MEYER'S CLEAN HOME is two parts common sense and one part inspiration. Read it and learn how to clean like the dickens. (Description from Amazon)

How to Mess Up Your Child's Life by Olivia and Kurt Bruner I won from Book Review's By Bobbie .

There are several people in life you don't want to hear say, "Oops!" Your barber, your mechanic, and your surgeon are three that come to mind. So do your parents and spouse. And yet, few of us put much thought into how we can create happier homes. Now, Christian parenting experts Kurt and Olivia Bruner have created a tongue-in-cheek but invaluable guide that helps parents move past "oops" to intentional, fun, and faith-filled parenting. In a way that keeps parents engaged amid the nonstop grind of jobs and household chores, the Bruners walk parents through the steps in creating a plan for infusing faith dynamics into the home. (Description from Amazon)

I received Enemies and Allies by Kevin Anderson from Bostick Communications.

As America and the Soviet Union race to build their nuclear stockpiles, two extraordinary heroes must form an uneasy alliance. These studies in opposites—shadow and light—must overcome their distrust of each other to battle evil and injustice.

Sputnik silently circles in the skies above the fabled cities of the United States as danger lurks in the Earth's darkest corners.

In Gotham, the shadowy vigilante known as the Batman haunts Gotham's streets . . . and the police are just as afraid of this Dark Knight as the city's criminals are.

In Metropolis, the notorious Lex Luthor is leveraging international tensions to build LuthorCorp into a military-industrial empire, competing against his business rival Wayne Industries, which is run by Gotham's enigmatic millionaire, Bruce Wayne. Luthor's activities have raised the interest of Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane, who is beginning to realize that Luthor may stop at nothing to achieve success.

At the same time, Clark Kent and Jimmy Olsen are investigating the rumored crash of a flying saucer. Clark is desperate to know if there may be other lost interplanetary visitors on Earth secretly living among them—visitors like himself.

When Batman's and Superman's paths cross, their lives change, and history will never be the same.

What did you get in your mailbox?
(All descriptions are from book covers unless otherwise noted!)


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