Monday, January 27, 2014

Review: Can I Get An Amen? By: Sarah Healy

Can I Get An Amen?Can I Get An Amen? by Sarah Healy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ellen Carlisle wakes one morning to find not only have her prayers for a child have gone unanswered but her husband has left her and by month's end she is out of work and living back at home with her parents. Her born-again parents don't necessarily provide the right sounding board she needs, her gay brother hides in the city making the obligatory visit and has the compassionate ear, and her foul mouthed independent sister is pained by her own past. Coming home to the haves and bigger haves of the old high school crowd doesn't make it any easier, nor does the slow seeping darkness that begins to enter her parents home with hushed voices and plastered smiles.
A great, easy read, filled with interesting characters, some wonderful conversations (even some amazing humor that had me laughing so hard aloud I was getting looks). This is not a book about religion, or one that pushes Christianity into the pages, this is one about a person, a family, the fragility and sometimes hypocrisy of faith, and all the bonds that make us who we are. This is the author's first novel and I really enjoyed it.

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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Review: The Diet Trap By: Jason Lillis PhD, JoAnne Dahl PhD, and Sandra M Weineland PhD

The Diet Trap: Feed Your Psychological Needs and End the Weight Loss Struggle Using Acceptance and Commitment TherapyThe Diet Trap: Feed Your Psychological Needs and End the Weight Loss Struggle Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy by Jason Lillis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a book based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. A way to get to the root of your eating or dieting trap, change it and develop a healthier way of thinking, thereby a healthier way of life. Written in a way that is very comfortable, informative, fun, compassionate, and therapeutic you will learn self- compassion, mindfulness, how to identify your thinking patterns, and values. There are deep and helpful exercises (to do at your own pace). Meet yourself within these exercises, your goals, your values, you'll even meet your emotional T Rex - if you are willing to let the barriers down.
I really liked this approach to work in inner before thinking the outer was the answer, to get to the root, but in a gentle honest way. I think that the ACT approach would be great in all parts of your life.

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Review: Winter's Tale By: Mark Helprin

Winter's Tale (Movie Tie-In Edition)Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Release the veil that covers your eyes and enter into the world created by Mr. Helprin, filled with beauty, truth, the just, and the impossible. The depth of which he will take you into this adventure, feeling lead throughout time and dimensions, and the characters leaping off the pages surrounding you - or visa versa. Vivid, brilliant, effervescent, and soulful are only a few words to describe this epic book.
So many lives intertwine over time, but the life of Peter Lake is the main link in the chain. He is a burglar who loses his heart to Beverly Penn, woman who is dying, yet sees the world in all it's glory. A secret, sacred place filled with magic, The Lake of Coheeries holds a key, as a cloud wall that can reach from the river to the sky and catch and release whatever dares enter into it appears to be a gate, a white horse, the balance of good versus evil, and the necessity of it all are all found within these pages.
This book shines, beckons the reader further into the world created and you go willingly and wonderfully let go into the prose. Warning: you will not be the same afterwards and will often want to return.

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Review: Rebel Spring By: Morgan Rhodes

Rebel Spring (Falling Kingdoms, #2)Rebel Spring by Morgan Rhodes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The second book following Falling Kingdoms is just as addicting! The new land know known as Mythica, brought together by uniting Limeros, Paelsia, and Auranos under the rule of The Blood King, Gauis.
Gauis has proven to stop at nothing in Falling Kingdoms, yet we find that he has a destiny, a plan, that he must follow that has been given to him by none other than a Watcher. To fulfill his destiny he must pour blood into the land and build a road from the temple in Auranos to the one in Limeros.
He is cold and calculating, placing his captive Princess Cleo in an arranged marriage with his son, giving speeches to the people, and moving people like pawn pieces across a board.
There is a band of rebels that will make this hard and that have their own destiny in the greater plan of Mythica. The search for the Kindred is on and as Lucia awakens the elementia power within her time is short.

WOW! I didn't want to give a lot away, but give a teaser - but this is a great series. Think Game of Thrones for Teens (and their moms). With a lot of adventure, schemes, plots moving at the same time, you know that the build up to finale is gaining momentum and like George RR Martin Ms. Rhodes isn't afraid of killing anyone off to build the story - and this is a Great one! Pick up these books, I know you will love them and I can bet that like me you will be marking the calendars awaiting for the next release!

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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Review: Homemade Condiments : Artisan Recipes Using Fresh, Natural Ingredients By: Jessica Harlan

Homemade Condiments: Artisan Recipes Using Fresh, Natural IngredientsHomemade Condiments: Artisan Recipes Using Fresh, Natural Ingredients by Jessica Harlan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**** A First Reads, Thank You Goodreads *****

A great how-to and addition to the home cook's shelf. Filled with recipes that range from the basic ketchup to illustrious Magic Shell, tips, conversions, and uses - this will make condiments simple. Whether you choose to use this everyday (because of the ease) or for special occasions, you will wow those with your new found knowledge, and they will delight in its taste.
Personally, I found this a delight, with Ms. Harlan's voice throughout guiding me through the recipes with personal stories and tips as if she was in the kitchen with me. I also love the fact that I can help my family eat healthier, bring freshness and natural way of condiments into our home, something that I often overlooked.

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Review: Why Are You So Sad? By: Jason Porter

Why Are You So Sad?Why Are You So Sad? by Jason Porter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

***** This is a First Reads, Thank You Goodreads ****

Ray is slipping. Slipping down a hole of which nothing seems to be saving him from going deeper into. We, the reader, are privy to his thoughts, which range from hearing people in the cars next to him on his commute to work to the strangeness he experiences within his marriage. One day sitting outside of LokiLoki, where he works as a pictographer, he creates a questionnaire - for surely, he can't be the only one that feels this way.
Darkly humorous, filled with twists, and some intense insight, Mr. Porter takes us on a journey into the mind and the life of Ray, guides us, and leaves us. Ray's observations on life and his co workers spoke to me on a deeper level as his survey did to them.
I really loved this book, the style of writing, the depth. There is something special here that is deeper than the pages and it speaks volumes of the author's talent. this book is one to read over, to share at a book club, and to keep on your shelf.

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Friday, January 10, 2014

Review: Healing Your Life With Water By: Diana E Ruiz

Healing Your Life with Water: How to use your Mind Body & Water Connection to Awaken Your Inner Fountain of YouthHealing Your Life with Water: How to use your Mind Body & Water Connection to Awaken Your Inner Fountain of Youth by Diana E. Ruiz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**** This is a First Reads, Thank You Goodreads ****

This is a basics, techniques, how to, and break down of a natural way of living based mainly on the concept of water. Our bodies are mainly built with water, using the alkaline way of living (including diet), we can change the response within – helping our immune system, our mental health, our relationships – internal and external. Ms. Ruiz easily explains, gives examples, and cites helpful sources to help you get on your way.
This is not a new concept, but this is one that constantly needs to be revisited. Great for those looking to make a change, to rev up or go in for that “oil change”. Energy medicine, lightwork, et al should all be part of someone’s life, this book brings part of that natural medicine into the home and makes it simple and easy.
Worth the read and the exercises, it will work. The New Year New You is within reach, give it a try. You will find this as a handy go to guide and reference.

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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Review: The Ocean At The End Of The Lane: A Novel By: Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the LaneThe Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Where have I been? I have found quotes by Mr. Gaiman on Goodreads that have reached into me, letting me know, this is someone I must read – What took me so long?!! I am simply in love with the prose and the way the words weave, the story, the simple magic that reminds the reader why you fell in love with reading to begin with.
A story told in first person that reflects back on the summer after turning seven. Finding himself driving after a funeral down past where he used to live, down the dirt lane, to the end, to the Hempstock Farm, to sit and remember bits and pieces by the pond he knows as Lettie’s Ocean. Enter a world of old, of before, suspend your belief, know that fairy rings are there for reasons. This is an adult “fairy tale” to term it loosely. Find yourself lost where monsters hide behind beauty and even unlock the evil within those you trust the most and the greatest courage lies within children.
I did not want this story to end, and when it did, I wanted to reread it. I wanted to lose myself within the world that Mr. Gaiman created. A short read, but one that you will find highly satisfying and will definitely stay with you. I am now hooked and want everything this man has ever written, you will too.

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Monday, January 6, 2014

Review: A Patriot's History of The Modern World Vol 2 By: Larry Schweikart and Dave Dougherty

Patriot's History ® of the Modern World, Vol. II: From the Cold War to the Age of Entitlement, 1945-2012Patriot's History ® of the Modern World, Vol. II: From the Cold War to the Age of Entitlement, 1945-2012 by Larry Schweikart
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The last six decades of history are documented and broken down in this volume of Patriot's History. Wonderfully broken down and easily explained, this is what history books should be like in school.
Timelines introduce each chapter and amazing information is relayed to the reader. Some of which, since I went to a private institution, I was lucky to be informed and educated of, but that is where it stopped - until now.
Winston S Churchill once said, "History is written by the victors." At one time I believed this and over time I became cynical, but now I see writer's like Mr. Schweikart that unveil the truth of history and deliver it in an inspiring and educating way.
This is the perfect addition to one's personal library, for one's own further knowledge or for the family's, it would also be great for reports, and being used as a reference.

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Review: Let Me Off At The Top! My Classy Life & Other Musings By: Ron Burgundy

Let Me Off at the Top!: My Classy Life and Other MusingsLet Me Off at the Top!: My Classy Life and Other Musings by Ron Burgundy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From his humble beginnings in Haggleworth, Iowa, Ron Burgundy lets us into his story and his mind. The fights, how he came to love the jazz flute, his years at Lady of Chewbacca all start the journey that will lead this great man on the road to Anchorman.
Filled with hilarious and sometimes questionable “facts”, Ron Burgundy will not let you down. I found myself laughing while reading this, my head spinning with often Ron’s attention deficit, and not wanting to put it down. The most memorable parts are the taped one man conversations, gathering of the news team, especially Brick, and the saga with the neighbor. Want a laugh, this will give it to you, although sometimes it does seem like too much and an overload of nonsense.

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Review: The Moaning Of Life : The Worldly Wisdom of Karl Pilkington By: Karl Pilkington

The Moaning of Life: The Worldly Wisdom of Karl PilkingtonThe Moaning of Life: The Worldly Wisdom of Karl Pilkington by Karl Pilkington
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have to first tell you that I am a BIG fan of Karl Pilkington, so this review might be biased, but I find him to be a brutally honest person. There is no “celebrity” fluff to him, and often there is a simple genius to the way he looks at life, I think that that is the appeal.
This is a tie in to his series, which will be airing soon in the US, and focuses on the basics of life. Karl takes on Marriage, Kids, Vocation & Money, Happiness, and Death. He travels the world, delves into the different cultures and people, asking questions along the way, taking notes, and embraces the experiences as only he can.
I found a different Karl in this book than I had in the past. Is it from him turning forty? Is it from his past experiences of travel? Is it the subject matter? Maybe all of the above. He seemed a bit more reflective, although we will still be graced with Pilkingtonisms, and he seemed more personal on the page, which I really liked and found very personable.
Whether a fan or a newcomer, this is a must to your library! You will enjoy and want to share. I have picked up a couple copies for a few friends that I know will love this and what better gift – a mix of philosophy and humor, culture and travel – Enjoy!!

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Sunday, January 5, 2014

Review: Music City: A Novel By: Leona Bryant

Music CityMusic City by Leona Bryant
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Shelly Shepard, a Nashville Star, now looks back on her life and her beginnings. A runaway from an abusive drunk mother, having left behind her younger siblings in the middle of the night at the age of fifteen, the kind stranger that took her right into Nashville, got her a job, and a place to live. She has so much to be thankful for and wants to give back and find the person that changed her life forever.
Derek and Alex are detectives that have their own painful pasts that have lead them to solving mysteries. Fate takes a hand, when hiring a male secretary leads them to their biggest and most famous client, his mother, Shelly Shepard. She gives them more workload and secrets and sins than most families have ever needed to work out. But that angel from the past might be the angel she needs for her future, if they can find him.
A book filled with twists and turns, secrets and lies, shows the ugly the lives within some and the good in others, and how not always are people all one or the other. I was surprised to find that this was a debut novel, for the complex storyline and the depth of emotions for some of the character development speaks of a seasoned writer. This is one to enjoy and focus on over a weekend, it also has a nice message that will stick with you long after you have turned the last page.

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Review: Big Cherry Holler By: Adriana Trigiani

Big Cherry Holler (Big Stone Gap, #2)Big Cherry Holler by Adriana Trigiani
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the second book of the Big Gap books. Eight years since the end of the first book, Ave Maria’s story continues. So much has happened in her marriage to Jack Mac – a daughter, Etta, the death of their son, Joe, and now the threat of another woman, Karen Bell. The month long vacation in Italy becomes a separation to “rethink” her marriage.
The wonderful secondary characters from the first book return to steal the reader’s heart. Theodore shares a secret and becomes a voice of reason, Iva Lou brings femininity and womanly wisdom, Pearl Grimes teaches what love truly is – along with other great characters that come off the page. The vivid imagery of the setting is not to be missed, especially when Ave is in Italy.
I am still finding it hard to connect to Ave and found the story a hundred pages longer than necessary. Since I bought the whole series though, I will stick to it and continue to read them, but I would really recommend borrowing them from a library and deciding whether this is truly to your liking or not before investing.

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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Review: Big Stone Gap By: Adriana Trigiani

Big Stone Gap (Big Stone Gap, Book 1)Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Welcome to Big Stone Gap, Virginia, a little coal mining town, where Ave Maria Mulligan is the local pharmacist, unmarried, turning 35 (which is virtually unheard of in these parts), and a letter from her deceased mother releases a storm of secrets that turn her life inside out.
Before you know it, Ave is speaking her mind, taking action, and getting some male attention. As one secret after another are uncovered, so is a conspiracy that her Aunt is trying to take her business and home. With an exciting visit involving Elizabeth Taylor, one man as a great friend she thinks she wants, another man that she can’t think around, Ave decides to pack up and run to Italy – that is if she can get her feet or heart to go.
Good small town feel, with excellent secondary characters. I think I felt more for some secondary more than Ave, who wanted to be three dimensional but came across two or at times one. Good storyline, I read this mainly for the anticipation of the upcoming movie and hope the movie is much better and wish I didn’t buy the whole series to read (although I will).

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Review: A Christmas Promise By: Mary Balough

A Christmas PromiseA Christmas Promise by Mary Balogh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An arrangement made, a marriage between strangers, a promise to keep, and a book you will want to re read every holiday season.
The new Earl of Falloden, Randolph Pierce, did not just inherit the title, but a massive amount of debt as well and when a coal merchant stranger appears at his door with all notes in hand paid and a proposition of marriage to his daughter to clear it, well, what choice does he have.
Eleanor “Ellie” Transome, a merchant’s daughter, a ‘cit’, worried about her father more than titles or money, finds herself agreeing to a marriage to a stranger.
As Christmas comes after Mr. Transome’s death, family and friends some to the estate to melt the ice that has developed in the newlyweds and open their eyes and hearts to the miracles that have been given to them.
You will love this book. This spirit of Christmas lies within its pages – laughter, tears, memories, and redemption. This one is a keeper on the shelf.

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Review: Christmas Angel By: Jo Beverley

Christmas AngelChristmas Angel by Jo Beverley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Weeping Widow as Judith Rossiter has now been known, is the perfect fit for becoming the wife of Leander Knollis, Earl of Charrington. He wants a woman who will not ask for love and will be the perfect helpmate as he takes over the mysterious Knollis Estate and the ready made family that comes with her will also seal the deal.
Respect might not be the only feelings brewing and with Christmas around the corner maybe miracles can melt the icy heart, heal misunderstandings, and thwart a killer before it’s too late.
I have read Jo Beverley many times and find that she will never let you down – wit, conversation, action, adventure, romance. This is one of the Company of Rogue Series and you will want to read all of them.

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