Friday, December 31, 2010

Karen's Top 15 Books For 2010


12 Fiction Favorites For 2010:
The Hunger Games trilogy (Catching Fire and Mockingjay) by Suzanne Collins
The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes by Diane Chamberlain
Deeper Than The Dead by Tami Hoag
The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks
The Last Child by John Hart
The Help by Kathryn Stockton
Room by Emma Donoghue
Two Little Girls In Blue by Mary Higgins Clark
If I Grow Up by Todd Strasser
House Rules by Jodi Picoult
Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult
Beautiful Lies by Lisa Unger

3 Top Non-Fiction Favorites For 2010:
One Simple Act by Debbie Macomber
A Boy Who Came Back From Heaven by Kevin & Alex Malarkey
Flight To Heaven by Capt. Dale Black

You can use the search box to find my reviews of these.

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Gerard's Top 12 Books Of 2010

There were so many really good books I read this year that it is very hard to choose just 12 so I also included a few more at the end.  I just couldn't limit it to only 12!

Abby Finds A Good Home (Blurb book made by Karen and Abby)
DogTown by Stefan Bechtel
Dewey's Nine Lives by Vicki Myron With Bret Witter
Let's Take The Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell
Hunger Games Trilogy (Catching Fire and Mockingjay) by Suzanne Collins
The last Child by John Hart
Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine
The Weight Of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf
Deeper Than The Dead by Tami Hoag
Blacklands by Belinda Bauer
House Rules by Jodi Picoult
Broken by Karin Slaughter
Honorable Mention:
Please Take Me For A Walk by Susan Gel (childrens picture book)
Zoo Story by Ghomas French
One Dog At A Time by Pen Farthing
Cleo by Helen Brown


Did you read any of these?  Use the search box to find my reviews.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

"Promise Me" by Richard Paul Evans

"Promise Me" by Richard Paul Evans is a good Christmas read!  It is a fiction story of Beth Cardall.  Her husband cheats on her, is dying of Cancer and her young daughter has an unexplained illness.  One night she meets a man who knows all about her.  He seems too good to be true.  It has kind of a weird twist, but the ending is very good!  It's a quick read that I liked a lot.  I give it 8+ stars.
(Gerard's review)

Promise Me is a off-the-wall story with a very happy ending that I enjoyed immensely! I’m so glad I read this one because it had believable characters that I cared about in an unrealistic book that kept my interest all through it. I was impressed that the male author told the story primarily from Beth’s point of view and could write about hardship without it being a depressing book. Promise Me deals with loss, marriage, love, hope and is a thought-provoking book. It presents the questions of how would your life be different if only this didn’t happen and what would you do if you only had 10 months to live and money was no object? This is a fun read, in spite of a cheating husband, financial struggles and a mysterious disease that a 6-yr.-old has. It’s a “Christmas Miracle” book about hope and promises, a quick-read that leaves you happy. I promise, you’ll like this one! We highly recommend it for a light, entertaining fun read.

SPOILER ALERT: I loved the mystery the author created about Matthew, Beth’s stalker. (If you haven’t read this book, I strongly advise you stop reading now! I don’t want to ruin it for you.) When she let him co-sign her loan, I thought she was very stupid, but was relieved to find that he really did have her best interest at heart. Who knew he was a time-traveler from the future so he knew what sporting events to bet on to make a bundle. I really liked this angle of the book—it would be so cool to be able to do that!
(Karen's Review 12/31/10)

You can visit the author’s Facebook page and his website at www.richardpaulevans.com

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tuesday Teaser: "I'm Outnumbered!" and "Promise Me"


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should  Be Reading. Anyone can play along, so I thought  I  would play for fun! Just do the following:          
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on  that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away!   You don’t  want  to  ruin the  book for others!)
  • Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can  add the book to their TBR  Lists  if they  like your teaser. 
Karen's:
After all, we'd hit upon a successful system and, by golly, it had worked with Boy #1. It was hard to accept that things didn't work the same with Boy #2.

From p. 21 of I'm Outnumbered!--One Mom's Lessons in the Lively Art of Raising Boys by Laura Lee Groves.

Gerard's:
He said, 'Go home, put things in order and cherish every minute with your loved ones.' He began to cry again. "I told him I didn't have a home."
From p. 69 of Promise Me by Richard Paul Evans

Monday, December 27, 2010

"Empire Of The Summer Moon" by S. C. Gwynne was Disappointing

Empire Of the Summer Moon is about the Comanches and their warrior chief, Quarah.  I enjoyed the background history of the Indians and the battle scenes were very good.  As for the rest of the book, not so much.  For all the hype this book has received, I expected more.

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

"The McKettrick Way" by Linda Lael Miller

The McKettrick Way by Linda Lael Miller is a contemporary western romance between Meg McKettrick and Brad O’Bullivan, a retired singer turned rancher who was an old flame who broke her heart when he left.  This is an interesting love story with a ghost, wild horse, and a needy 12-yr-old tossed in.  It’s an enjoyable, quick read.
(Karen's review)

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

"Happiness is . . ." by Barbara G. Tarn

I read "Happiness is . . . " by Barbara G. Tarn in about 15 minutes while watching TV.  It's a short 56-pg book with one thought of happiness and a cute picture illustrating it on each page.  She just compiled it from her happy thoughts she posted on her blog at Creative Barb Wire.  Not only is this written in English, but also Turkish and some other language, but I don't know what it is.  This was a fun, uplifting quick read.

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Friday, December 24, 2010

"The Christmas Sweater" by Glenn Beck

Small Book--Awesome Message!  (15 stars)
The Christmas Sweater just blew me away.  Thought it would be good, just not really, really good, which it is!  This is the true story of Glenn Beck who as a kid wanted a new bike but got a handmade sweater by his mom which he hated.  This sets in motion events that are just outstanding to read.  He meets a mysterious person by the name of Russell that showed him the error of his ways.  He finds out that all he thinks he wants, he already has.  Do not pass up this book--it's too good.  Destined to be a classic!
(Gerard's review 2/12/09)

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

"The Perfect Christmas" by Debbie Macomber

The Perfect Christmas by Debbie Macomber is a delightful quick-read about a woman, Cassie, seeking a husband. She is so desperate that she hires Dr. Simon Dodson, a matchmaker for $30,000 with a money-back guarantee if he doesn’t find her a suitable match. Through three tasks he had her perform before introducing her to the guy he found for her, Simon discovered she was compassionate, flexible, loved children, could cook and had a sense of humor.

This was a light, fun and amusing read. I liked this book as a break from the more serious stuff I have been reading. It's a very entertaining read. Reading about Cassie's experience as a bell ringer for the Salvation Army brought back memories from when I did that one year.

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"You Had Me At Woof" by Julie Klam

You Had Me At Woof by Julie Klam tells the true story of Julie Klam and her dog. One day she decided to get a dog, and her life changed forever! There are some good stories in this book that all dog owners will relate to, some funny and some sad. You Had me At Woof is a quick read (I read it in two days.) Can’t say there is anything exceptional in this book, but I enjoyed reading it!

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

"Unlocked" by Karen Kingsbury is an Enjoyable Read

When you read a book by Karen Kingsbury, you know you are going to get three things:  (1) a good story, (2) a happy ending, and (3) a God centered message.  This book has all of that and what's wrong with that?  I say Not A Thing!  Unlocked by Karen Kingsbury is about an autistic teen boy who reconnects with a girl from his childhood that he was friends with.  It's a quick, enjoyable read.
(Gerard's review)

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Take A Break From Reading And Decorate!

My pets thought this video was so good, they wanted me to share it with you, so here you go.  Hope you enjoy it.  I thought it was pretty funny.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

"The Surgeon's Wife" by Kieran Crowley

The Surgeon’s Wife by Kieran Crowley is the true story of Gail and Robert Bierenbaum.  Once married, their marriage went south in a hurry.  One day Gail is no longer around.  Did Robert kill her?  I got into this book fast.  The trial part of the book was fascinating.  I know this book is like ten years old, but it’s very good!
(Gerard's review)
Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Friday, December 17, 2010

"It's A Cat's World...You Just Live In It" by Justine A. Lee, DVM

If there’s anything you want to know about cats, It’s A Cat’s World…You Just Live In It is the book to get.  It has 224 questions and answers by Justine Lee, a veterinarian who has cats of her own.  I liked how she throws in some humor into her answers and her love for cats come through.  I loved her last sentence:
We should all learn an important life lesson from our cats--take lots of catnaps, don't stress out, rule the roost, let someone else take care of you and pick up your crap, and be content with the simple things in life--a nap, a sunbeam, and a warm lap to love.
It's A Cat's World...You Just Live In It by Justine A. Lee is a great reference book for any cat lover!  Check out my teaser.
(Karen's review)

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

"Unbroken: WW II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption" by Laura Hillenbrand

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

My rating: 7 of 5 stars (Gerard's review)


Unbroken is an amazing story about the true story of Louis Zamperini. Mostly it is about when he was a prisoner of war. The stuff he went through is unbelievable and that he had the will to survive is remarkable. He turned his life around at a Billy Graham crusade and now he works with young boys. I enjoyed her first book, Seabiscut better, but this is very good too. I give it 7 stars!

Read my Teaser here.

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

"Skipping Christmas" by John Grisham

Skipping Christmas by John Grisham is about a modern day scrooge that wanted to skip everything to do with Christmas except the church stuff but wound up doing everything the last minute to please his daughter who came home unexpectedly with a fiancĂ©.  This is a quick light read. 
 

 Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tuesday Teaser: "Unbroken" and "It's A Cat's World...You Just Live In It"


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should  Be Reading. Anyone can play along, so I thought  I  would play for fun! Just do the following:          
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on  that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away!   You don’t  want  to  ruin the  book for others!)
  • Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can  add the book to their TBR  Lists  if they  like your teaser. 
Gerard's:
Men moaned and screamed, one calling for his mother.  A pilot thought the voices sounded "like animals crying."  Men's eardrums burst.  A man died of a heart attack.
From p. 169 of Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.  (click on the title to see my review.)
Karen's:
Do you ever see your cat lying on them?  Nope--not unless you are trying to read them at the kitchen table.  So it's not that your cat wants to actually lie on a different surface for fun--your cat just wants you to realize that he's right there for you, supporting your every read.
From page 26 of It's A Cat's World...You Just Live In It by Justine A. Lee, DVM

Sunday, December 12, 2010

"White Chocolate Moments" by Lori Wick

White Chocolate Moments by Lori Wick is contemporary fiction about a girl, Arcineh, whose parents died in an accident when she was 11 and was raised by her grandfather, Sam who was a wealthy owner of a company. She left when she was 18 because he took in her cousin and moved in with a friend, got several jobs, danced, and found romance and became a Christian and married. Issues it deals with are death, reconciliation and love. I liked it!

(Karen's review 4/3/09)

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Friday, December 10, 2010

"Letters From A Skeptic: A Son Wrestles With His Father's Questions About Christianity" by Dr. Gregory A. Boyd and Edward K. Boyd

I read this book because it was recommended by Kris, a friend of mine who ministers to college students at Kent University.  I found it extremely thought provoking and interesting.

Letters From A Skeptic:  A Son Wrestles With His Father’s Questions About Christianity.  This is an unusual book because it is all letters back and forth between a father and son.  The son, Greg Boyd, is a professor of theology and an ordained evangelical minister.  The father, Edward Boyd, was raised Catholic but with numerous questions about Christianity which the son patiently tries to answer over a period of time through correspondence.  The questions fall into four major categories:  Questions about God, Questions about Jesus Christ, Questions about the Bible, and Questions about Christian life and doctrine. 

Here is a small sample of some of the tough questions the father and son discussed:
Why has Christianity done so much harm?
Why is the world so full of suffering?
Why did God create Satan?
Why trust the Gospel accounts?
How can you believe that a man rose from the dead?
Why do you think the Bible is inspired?
What about the “holy books” of other religions?
Why does God make believing in Him so difficult?
Do all non-Christians go to hell?
Isn’t the Christian life impossible to live?
How can I be sure it’s all true?
If you have questions about Christianity or know someone who does and would like to know how to answer them, I highly recommend this book.  I loved seeing how the father slowly became more open to Christianity and finally accepted Jesus as His Savior when he was 73. 

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

"Kasey To the Rescue" by Ellen Rogers--An Enjoyable Read!

This video shows some of the things monkeys are trained to do for handicapped people.  Kasey To The Rescue is about a family who got one of these monkeys to help them.





Kasey To The Rescue by Ellen Rogers is a true story of an amazing son, Ned, and his mom, the author of this book.  Ned gets in a horrific car accident but miraculously survived.  The mother brought Ned home to take care of him along with her other children and two dogs.  Taking care of Ned was a major task!  To help with his care, they went to Helping Hands and got Kasey, a monkey.

To me, the mother is amazing and the main story of this book about how she takes care of Ned, runs her family, and tries to keep up everyone's spirits including her own.  Ned too shows remarkable courage.  The monkey, Kasey, is also pretty remarkable in the way he helps.  This is a very enjoyable and encouraging read about a family who did not fall apart when faced with tragedy.
(Gerard's review) Read the teaser.

UPDATED 12/18/10:
This book is really about a super mom (Ellen) persevering in raising her family and taking care of her son Ned, who was in a car accident while away at college and suffered a spinal chord injury which rendered him a quadriplegic. The story is basically all about Ned and how his mother made him her top priority, even going so far as to bring in a monkey (Kasey) from the Helping Hands organization. In actuality, it seemed to me Kasey was more work for her than help; however, it did help Ned stay positive and gave him a constant companion. Ned gained more dexterity in his fingers and arms because the monkey provided motivation for Ned to interact with Kasey. Kasey was entertaining and although it took three months for Kasey to really trust and feel a close relationship to Ned, it was worth it.

I enjoyed reading this book but was anxious to get to the part when the monkey came which is about halfway through. This is the story of a loving family and although the beginning was sort of depressing, the second half of the book is very entertaining and inspirational. I really liked learning more about the Helping Hands organization and how the monkeys are trained to be service animals. 
(Karen's review)

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?


Find best posts of the week at Saturday Sampling at Half Past Kissin' Time and submit the one you wish more people would see that you wrote this week!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

"Dirty Little Secrets" by C. J. Omololu

I waited a long time for Dirty Little Secrets by C. J. Omololu and was rewarded.  This is a fiction book about a teenage girl named Lucy.  She has a secret--her mom is a hoarder.  She doesn’t throw away anything and keeps what people would consider garbage.  She has kept her secret well until one day her mom dies in the house.  If she calls 911, her secret will be out.  What will she do?  I enjoyed this book a lot.  This is this author’s first book--well done!
(Gerard's review)

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: " Letters From A Skeptic" and "Kasey To the Rescue"


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should  Be Reading. Anyone can play along, so I thought  I  would play for fun! Just do the following:          
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on  that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away!   You don’t  want  to  ruin the  book for others!)
  • Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can  add the book to their TBR  Lists  if they  like your teaser. 
Karen's: This is an excerpt from the son's first letter to his 70-yr.-old father:
What I'd rather propose to you is to engage in an ongoing discussion about Christianity. I'd like to give you an opportunity to share with me all the reasons you have for not being a Christian, and I'd like you to give me the opportunity to share with you all the reasons why I am one.
From p. 14 of Letters From A Skeptic: A Son Wrestles with His Father's Questions about Christianity by Dr. Gregory A. Boyd (son) and Edward K. Boyd (father) (Click on the title to see my review)

Gerard's:
The trainer sat in a wheelchair.  Kasey examined every inch of it with great scientific interest and learned that if she hopped up on her trainer's lap and gently placed her trainer's hand on the joystick, they could zoom around the room together.
 From page 47 of Kasey To The Rescue:  The Remarkable Story of a Monkey and a Miracle by Ellen Rogers.  Click on the link to see my review.

Monday, December 6, 2010

"Plain Truth" by Jodi Picoult Is Fascinating

Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult is about an Amish teen girl who is charged with murdering her illegitimate baby.  At first Katie denied even having a baby and consistently denied killing it.  Ellie reluctantly volunteered to be her defense attorney who becomes her friend while staying on the farm with Katie to comply with the court order as a condition while awaiting her trial.  Jodi Picoult shows the contrasts of the Amish and the English cultures in this intriguing novel of ethics, psychology, mystery, romance and judgment. 

I was drawn into this story immediately and had a hard time putting it down.  The story is told from Ellie’s perspective, and I couldn’t help feeling sorry for her when she was trying to get the truth from Katie as to what really happened. The trial was interesting and I definitely came away with a better understanding of the Amish community after reading Plain Truth.  I highly recommend this book, especially to women.
(Karen's review)

Other related reviews:  Debra's Book Cafe
Here is our teaser for this book
Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

"The Scribe" by Francine Rivers

The Scribe by Francine Rivers is a fictional account of a scribe named Silas who is one of the few left who actually saw Jesus. He wrote letters for Peter and Paul and reviewed, based on scripture, his view of Jesus and his life. In the back are some discussion questions with scripture to study and some personal applications questions that may be helpful.

I did not care for this book, perhaps because I kept trying to place him as the Silas who went on missionary journeys with Paul and preached but then the author finally portrays him as the rich young religious leader who was told to sell all he had and one of the two who were on the Road to Emmaus when Jesus appeared to them after his resurrection.
(Karen's review 4/30/09)

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Friday, December 3, 2010

"The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick’s Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption" by Jim Gorant

The two best parts of The Lost Dogs by Jim Gorant were:  (1) the people who took the dogs in and worked with them after they were rescued from Vick’s house.  They were remarkable people to have that kind of love and patience, truly special!; and (2) the recap at the end of the book reviewing a lot of the dogs case by case.  Most, I am happy to say, are doing well.  I am glad I read this book because now I know the whole story!

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

"Finding Katie--Diary of an Anonymous Teenager In Foster Care"

Finding Katie is a fast-moving book written as a diary of a 16-yr.-old girl who came from a wealthy family that was sexually abused by her own father who dumped her on Skid Row in Los Angeles to fend for herself. She was "rescued" by the Salvation Army and tells her story about being in foster homes and finally finding someone who wanted her so ends on a happy note. Even through it all, she shows great maturity and compassion for the other kids in the foster homes she was placed in. She helped several of them by tutoring them, befriending them and caring for them. She found happiness by helping others.
(Karen's review 3/7/09)

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

"Christmas Blessings" by Helen Steiner Rice

I just finished reading a book of Christmas poems called Christmas Blessings by Helen Steiner Rice that I really liked.  They were all about the true meaning of Christmas, God's gift  to us, His Son, Jesus Christ.  Instead of Christmas cards she would write poems for her friends at Christmas time.  Here's one I chose that was short to share with you:

A Christmas Blessing for You

May Jesus, our Savior,
Who was born on Christmas Day,
Bless you at this season
In a very special way.
May the Beauty and the promise
Of that silent, holy night
Fill your heart with peace and happiness
And make your new year bright!

Her poems are also used on greeting cards today.  In fact, I just got one from a friend this week with the verse by her.

(Karen's review 12/23/09)


Please tell us: What categories of literature do you like? What are you reading now? Who are your top five favorite authors? Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"Best Friends" by Samantha Glen Made Me Want To Go There!

I would love to visit this animal sanctuary in Utah!  Best Friends by Samantha Glen tells of how this animal sanctuary got started.  It is an amazing story that I really enjoyed reading.  The love these people have for animals is boundless.  The pictures in the book are special too.  With our help, Best Friends can continue to do the wonderful work that they do.  God bless this special place!

(Gerard's review)

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Tuesday Teasers: "Best Friends" and "Plain Truth"


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should  Be Reading. Anyone can play along, so I thought  I  would play for fun! Just do the following:          

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on  that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away!   You don’t  want  to  ruin the  book for others!)
  • Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can  add the book to their TBR  Lists  if they  like your teaser. 
Gerard's::
"We still need an identity," Michael," Steven said.  "Something that says who we are and what we're trying to do.  Isn't everybody tired of explaining us?"
From p. 79 of Best Friends:  the True Story of the World's Most Beloved Animal Sanctuary by Samantha Glen.  The review of this one will be up tonight.


Karen's:
Glancing down, she realized that a miracle had come to pass:  the blood-soaked hay was fresh now, except for a small stain beneath her own bottom.  And the two things she'd been holding when she fell asleep--the scissors and the newborn--were gone.
 From p. 5 of Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult.

Monday, November 29, 2010

"Boot Camp" by Todd Strasser

Boot Camp by Todd Strasser is a disturbing novel about Garrett, a boy sent to Harmony Lake camp for troubled teens, by his parents because he was out of control.  It is like a prison for teens, but they use physical and psychological abuse to get teens to become obedient.  Parents who send kids there paid $4,000 a month!  Teens are separated from their parents and the outside world for a minimum of six months.  In this book, Garrett really did not deserve to be there and befriended two others who didn’t deserve to be there either.  They escaped together but it did not end there.

I liked the ending, but won’t spoil it for you.  I found myself pulling for Garrett throughout the book and although this was fiction, it is based on real places that exist in the United States which is what disturbed me most.  No one should be treated this way!   The book was gripping, a page-turner that I was anxious to see how it would end.
 (Karen's review)

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Spunky Chose The Winner Of "My Funny Dad Harry" Giveaway


Spunky Doodle chose the winner of our Fabulous Followers Giveaway.  The winner will receive an autographed copy of my book, "My Funny Dad, Harry" and a DVD with clips of him in action!  Thanks to all who expressed an interest.  The book is available on Amazon and Barnes Noble.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

"The Lion & The Mouse and Other Aesop’s Fables" retold by Doris Orgel

I was attracted to the book by the cover and liked the large, colorful illustrations in The Lion & The Mouse and Other Aesop’s Fables retold by Doris Orgel.  It’s a short book containing 12 fables.  Some I already knew but some I didn’t.  It’s a fun read that put me in a good mood.
(Karen's Review)

It only took me about ten minutes to read this book.  It was okay.
(Gerard's review)

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

"Family Ties" by Danielle Steel

Family Ties by Danielle Steel is about growing up, learning from mistakes and moving forward.  The story follows the lives of 26-yr-old Annie, a single architect who finds herself the guardian of her sister’s three kids:  Liz, Ted and Kate.  It doesn’t really spend any time on the kids when they were children, it’s more about how Annie has to learn to let go and be supportive of them as young adults making poor decisions.  Eventually she finds romance for herself which was the highlight of the book for me. 

This is not a book I enjoyed.  I really didn’t care about any of the characters other than Annie.  I just couldn’t relate to any of the kids and did not like the sex passages involving Ted and his nutty professor, Patty.  I almost stopped reading it because of that, but continued to plow through it. 

I haven’t read too many Danielle Steel’s books, but did liked The Gift, Leap of Faith and The Klone and I better than this one. 

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Friday, November 26, 2010

"Saving Gracie" by Carol Bradley about Puppy Mills

Saving Gracie by Carol Bradley contains two stories.  The first is about the raid on a puppy mill.  I can not imagine the horror of those places for the dogs.  The second story is about a woman who gave a forever home to one of those puppy mill dogs.  It was heartwarming.  I liked the second story much better than the first; however, the puppy mill story needed to be told too.

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"Shirley, Goodness And Mercy" by Debbie Macomber

I enjoyed reading Shirley, Goodness and Mercy by Debbie Macomber.  It is a cute Christmas miracle story about a lonely 60-yr.-old man who felt he had wasted his life with major screw ups along the way.  Christmas time annoys him and he feels like he's hit bottom, but happens to go inside a church and his "prayer" reaches heaven.  Three angels are assigned his case and with their help, he turns his life around and people he's hurt greatly in the past forgive him.  If you like happy endings and a light fun read, this is a book for you.  If you liked the TV show, "Touched By An Angel" you'll love this book! 
(Karen's review 12/23/09)

Please tell us: What categories of literature do you like? What are you reading now? Who are your top five favorite authors? Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Happy Jogging on Blog Jog Day!




UPDATED 11/26/10 AT 4:20 P.M.:
Congratulations to Judy, Hayley, Stephanie and Sharon, our winners of You Already Know How To Be Great and Jennifer, the winner of the set of The Planet Of The Dogs children's books.

Here is a list of the books we will give away:  (1) a non-fiction practical "how-to" book and (2) a series of children's fiction books about dogs. Click on the titles to read our reviews and learn more about these books.  Just tell us which book(s) you would like and leave us your email in the comments so we can contact you if you are a winner of the giveaway.  For an additional two entries, add this blog to your blogroll and let us know you did in your comment.

You Already Know How To Be Great by Alan Fine

We are able to offer FIVE autographed copies that will be sent from the author.  You Already Know How To Be Great by Alan Fine is a very practical book with models for bringing out your best performance and helping others do the same.  Any leader could gain helpful insight from this book.  The principles of reducing interference to increase performance, using G.R.O.W. to make quicker decisions, and increasing your faith, fire and focus can be applied to business, sports, parenting and coaching.





 


Planet of the Dog Series  by Robert McCarty

including all three of these children's books:  

 Planet Of The Dogs, Castle In The Mist, and Snow Valley Heroes--A Christmas Tale



Thank you for stopping by my Blog! Please explore all this Blog has to offer, then jog on over to Alsea Pacific Beach House” http://www.alseapacificbeachhouse.com . If you would like to visit a different Blog in the jog, go to http://blogjogday.blogspot.com.”

"DogTown" by Stefan Bechtel

DogTown is my kind of town!  DogTown by Stefan Bechtel is just a wonderful book!  It's about Dog Town--a no-kill sancturary for dogs in Utah.  All the stories in DogTown are excellent!  I had a hard time deciding which was more amazing, the people or the dogs!  You will smile, laugh and cry as you read these stories.  They touched my heart and will probably touch yours too.  It also includes tips on how to handle dogs.  I hated to see this book end.  I really, really enjoyed DogTown a lot--it made me want to got there!  I did visit online at http://www.bestfriends.org/ and sponsored Cabby.  I highly recommend DogTown to anyone who likes dogs.
(Gerard's review)

DogTown is a very good book about dogs and I am glad there is such a nice place for homeless dogs waiting.  Woof!  Woof!  I am proud of Gerard for sponsoring Cabby.
(our dog, Abby's review)

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

"Better Together--What on earth are WE here for? by Rick Warren

Gerard and I both read Better Together by Rick Warren.  Our church used it in all the classes as a churchwide curriculum for 40 days.  There is a DVD that goes with it for small group leaders to use along with the workbook and there is a Devotional and Journal too.  The whole emphasis is to serve others as a group.  Gerard dropped out of the class and was not at all interested in the material.  I found that the devotionals were a review of what we saw on the DVD.  I think the devotional and journal book is all you need.  It was somewhat thought provoking and certainly teaches Biblical principles. 

As a result of our church going through this, my small group put together 28 shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child.  You can go to Parma Heights Baptist Church website to read about more projects other groups did.  

I would recommend this material for small group Bible Studies.

I must say, I liked it much better than his first book, The Purpose Driven Life.  (Perhaps new believers or seekers would enjoy it more than mature Christians.)


Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Friday, November 19, 2010

"Don't Look Back" by Lynette Eason

Don’t Look Back by Lynette Eason is a marvelous Christian romance suspense novel.  This is the second book of the "Women of Justice" Series.

Jaimie, the main character, is an anthropologist.  Her job was to put bones back together to find some way of identifying a person.  Twelve years ago, she had been abducted, raped, tortured, and almost killed by a serial killer but got away.  Now, she discovers that he is back and coming after her again!  Naturally, she has a lot of issues that prevent her from wanting to be romantically involved.  Dakota, the FBI agent who is still trying to find the serial killer, falls in love with Jaimie while providing her protection and getting the killer becomes more personal for him. 

Don’t Look Back is a page-turner with a fascinating killer.  I liked how parts showed what he was thinking and explained why he was going after certain women.  Jaimie never lost her faith in God to protect her and deliver her and was a good example of a believer in Jesus Christ.  By her life and how she handled her fear, Dakota came around to believe too.  This book stands out among suspense and murder mysteries in that it has clean language and although many crimes were committed, it does not go into all the gory details.  I highly recommend this book if you like suspense without all the gore or Christian fiction that is not “preachy” but certainly gives some insight into Christianity.

Follow Lynette Eason on Twitter: LynetteEason or visit her website at www.LynetteEason.com or her blog at Suspense With A Twist.


Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Gratitude Giveaway For Our Fabulous Followers:

Fabulous Followers Gratitude Giveaway

Nov. 17-Nov. 28 For My Funny Dad, Harry



I have read quite a few books about dysfunctional families so thought it was time for one that is heartwarming and uplifting.  The short funny stories in this book about my dad, our family, his cats and the strange things he did are all true.  Many of us deal with aging parents so can relate to me as I try to help and care for my dad.  If you are an elderly parent, you will probably identify with my dad.  I suspect you will smile, chuckle and may even laugh out loud but also will find parts very touching that may bring a tear to your eye.  This is an emotional read that will hopefully inspire you to cherish the people in your day-to-day life and may even get some useful tips.  
 

In appreciation to my followers of this blog, I am giving away an autographed copy of my book, My Funny Dad, Harry and DVD with some movie clips of my dad and me to a follower who leaves a comment stating they would like to have it along with their email or blog URL so I can let them know if they win.  All those who express a desire to have it by noon E.S.T. on November 28 will be eligible.  I will let my cat Spunky Doodle choose the winner since I got Spunky from my dad’s yard.  If I do not hear from the winner with their address by December 1, another winner will be selected.  (This giveaway is limited to our followers.)

I am doing this over at My Funny Dad, Harry too so you could also enter there if you follow that blog too.  Here is the Foreword.  I sure hope someone would like to have my book!  Just leave me a comment.

Check out our other two giveaways that are open to anyone: Hard Cache by Charles Neff (Suspense/mystery) and You Already Know How To Be Great (Self-help) by Alan Fine.



Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"Gideon's Gift" by Karen Kingsbury

I liked Gideon's Gift by Karen Kingsbury.  This is the first book I read of hers and is part of the Red Glove series.  An 8-year-old girl with cancer befriends a homeless man (Earl ) at the mission and gets him to believe in God. He in turn gives her family a “perfect Christmas.”   I liked it and recommended it to Gerard.
(Karen's review) 


Here's what Gerard thought of it:
Gideon’s Gift by Karen Kingsbury is a good story about a little girl, a homeless man and Christmas miracles.  You could probably read it in one sitting.  It’s perfect for a snowy night with some hot chocolate.  This is a warm, feel good story that I liked more than I thought I would.  I give it  5+ stars.

 Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Check out our two giveaways: Hard Cache by Charles Neff (Suspense/mystery) and You Already Know How To Be Great (Self-help) by Alan Fine.

Teaser Tuesday: "Gideon's Gift" and "Don't Look Back"


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should  Be Reading. Anyone can play along, so I thought  I  would play for fun! Just do the following:          

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on  that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away!   You don’t  want  to  ruin the  book for others!)
  • Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can  add the book to their TBR  Lists  if they  like your teaser. 
Gerard's::
But each day on the streets had built in him another layer, separating him from everything he'd ever felt, everything about the man he used to be and the life he used to lead. His emotions were buried deep now, and Earl was sure they'd never surface again.
From p. 12 of Gideon's Gift by Karen Kingsbury.  You can see our review of this one by clicking on the title of it.

Karen's:

The Hero, as he'd come to think of himself, gave a victorious smile and lowered the high-powered binoculars to his lap. She still thought of him. Her reaction to the handcuffs proved it.
From page 16 of Don't Look Back by Lynette Eason.

Check out our two giveaways: Hard Cache by Charles Neff (Suspense/mystery) and You Already Know How To Be Great (Self-help) by Alan Fine.

Monday, November 15, 2010

"Hope Unseen" by Captain Scott Smiley and Doug Crandall is Amazing! (UPDATED)

Hope Unseen by Scotty Smiley and Doug Crandall is the true story of how God showed his love to Scotty Smiley and led him step-by-step along a very difficult journey, giving him many blessings in spite of losing his sight during a war mission in Iraq. Scotty is the first blind soldier to actively still serve in the army as a speaker and leadership teacher at West Point (thanks to his wife following her instincts and God). This book is very enlightening regarding the struggles blind people have. I really liked the emotional part of the book where Scotty shares his anger toward God and how he was able to recapture his faith and trust in God in spite of what God had allowed to happen to him. It is amazing that after he was blind he still was able to be adventurous: he surfed, climbed Mt. Rainier, skydived and accepted speaking engagements which all began with a choice he made to get out of his hospital bed and take a shower.

This book is so inspirational and encouraging. It started a bit slow for me but I’m am glad I chose to read it and finished it. At the end he shares some key points about transformational leadership on page 232 that I found interesting: 1) use unconventional strategies, 2) care about individuals, 3) demonstrate self-sacrifice, 4) communicate confidence. (
Karen's review 6/18/15, 4 stars)

Gerard read it back in 2010:
A Remarkable story!  Hope Unseen by Captain Scott Smiley and Doug Crandall works in so many ways.  Scott Smiley was a platoon leader in Iraq when a bomb blinded him for life but not before he helped save the men under his command.  He received the Purple Heart.  He climbed up a mountain, surfed in Hawaii, got his M.B.A. from Duke and won the MacArthur Leadership Award--all while blind!  This is also a great faith story.  He was strong in the faith of the Lord, lost it, and now he gives talks in churches to share his story, giving all the credit to the Lord.  This is an outstanding book!
(Gerard's review, 11/15/10)


 Have you read this one? What did you think of it?


Sunday, November 14, 2010

"Beautiful Lies" by Lisa Unger

What a remarkable and gripping story Lisa Unger presents in Beautiful Lies.  She spins a tale that is both heartbreaking and fascinating as she wrote in such a way that made me feel as though Ridley, the main character, was speaking right to me, explaining what she was feeling and thinking during her incredible experience of sorting through the family secrets.  Ridley is a free lance writer who had a happy childhood and grew up in a nice home.  One day she gets a photo which turns her whole life upside down and takes her on a dangerous journey to find the truth.  She gets to the point of not knowing who she can trust but makes some good decisions that help her discover truth and happiness. 

One example of an insight Lisa Unger shares through a section where Ridley is speaking directly to the reader that really stood out to me is this from p. 98-99:
And we stood like that.  The joining of hands is highly underrated in the acts of intimacy.  You kiss acquaintances or colleagues, casually to say hello or good-bye.  You might even kiss a close friend chastely on the lips.  You might quickly hug anyone you knew.  You might even meet someone at a party, take him home and sleep with him, never to see him or hear from him again.  But to join hands and stand holding each other that way, with the electricity of possibilities flowing between you?  The tenderness of it, the promise of it, is only something you share with a few people in your life.  
This is real thriller filled with lots of insights into how people arrive at the choices they make and is definitely a page-turner.  It takes a close look at how we develop and evaluate relationships with others.  Beautiful Lies deals with identity issues, mob activity, abduction in the name of protection, selling babies, judging others, family dynamics, romance and betrayal.  I highly recommend you read this book--it’s fantastic!  Well written and packed with suspense and mystery right from the start. 

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?  Related posts:  Tea Time with Marce Review

Check out our book giveaways:  Hard Cache by Charles B. Neff
You Know How To Be Great by Alan Fine

Friday, November 12, 2010

"The Confession" by John Grisham

The Confession by John Grisham is a novel about a small town in Texas where a man is facing execution for murder. Another man comes forward to a minister and admits to the killing. I found this book to be well worth reading. It sort of dragged at the end, but the characters are well developed and I enjoyed reading it even though I was not “wowed” by it.
(Gerard's review)
 
Be sure to check out our giveaway for You Already Know How To Be Great in our previous post.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

"Hard Cache" by Charles B. Neff (Suspense)--Giveaway

It’s all here in this story:  love, decency and old, bone-crunching evil.  Neff weaves them all together brilliantly in a memorable page-turner.” –Roger Wilkins (Pulitzer Prize Winner) (quote from the back cover)

Hard Cache by Charles B. Neff is a short romantic thriller involving a murder, the Russian mob, the Black Market and four men who fought together in the Russian-Afghan war but whose lives are still intertwined years later.  One of the things that makes this book stand out from other suspense mysteries is the cross cultural facet of the book. 

Mangus Torval, a former Swedish detective, discovers a dead body while fishing alone while visiting Washington.  The investigation leads to an exciting confrontation in the mountains at a cabin where Greg Takarchuk and Mangus realize their love for the women in their lives, Olga and Mariela and secrets all come to light. 

There are a lot of different characters that I had a bit of trouble keeping straight so found myself often referring to the list of characters at the beginning of the book.  This was very helpful.  The story itself was a bit complicated to me but I liked the suspense during the confrontation at the cabin.  The killer of Dmitri, the antique store owner and Greg’s father, was revealed fairly early on but I never did understand exactly why the murder was committed. 

I didn’t think the ending was very believable—can you really expect seven people (two of which were women, one Pastor, one ex-journalist, one a police officer, an FBI agent and a former detective) to all agree to a fabricated story to cover up what really happened at the cabin?  With short chapters and an interesting story line, Hard Cache is a quick read. 

(We received a free copy of Hard Cache by Charles B. Neff to review so will gave it away in a drawing on Sat., November 20 limited to the U.S.  The winner was Carol in Texas who said "You had me at the Russian mob! I love suspense mysteries. If there are a lot of characters, I make a list that includes some note about the character to help me remember.")

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"You Already Know How To Be Great" by Alan Fine (Giveaway)

You Already Know How To Be Great by Alan Fine is a model for performing at your full capacity and helping others do the same.  The author, Alan Fine, has served as a performance coach to corporate executives, top athletes and musicians.  He shares his very practical method for improving performance by increasing one's faith that they can do something, one's fire (desire) and one's focus by decreasing the interference (obstacle) that is hurting the performance.  Sometimes we know what we want to do and even how to do it but we are lacking in at least one of those areas; thus, not performing to our full capacity.  You Already Know How To Be Great has questions at the end of each chapter to help you apply the principles plus even a cute picture of an on-line community reminder.

I really liked the examples he gave to illustrate how his model can be used in parenting, teaching, sports.   Alan Fine gives the reader dialogue of specific training sessions.  I felt like a little mouse getting to listen in.  In this book you can learn the G.R.O.W. method to use in reaching decisions quickly and making meetings meaningful.

I recommend You Already Know How to Be Great as a reference book to anyone who wants to improve their performance in any area of their life or who is in a leadership position and seeks to help others improve performance. 


Want to find out more?  Here  is a video of Alan Fine talking about You Already Know How To Be Great which includes some illustrations from the book:




To enter our giveaway for an autographed copy by Alan Fine of You Already Know How To Be Great, just leave us a comment stating you would like to win along with an email address so we can contact you if you are a winner.  We will choose a total of FIVE winners on November 25, Thanksgiving Day!  Winners will be notified by email and will have until Nov. 28 to give us their mailing address or someone else will be chosen.  (This giveaway will also be promoted on Blog Jog day coming Sunday, November 21 so you could enter then too.)


(We received a free copy of this book for review.)
Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: " Hard Cache," "The Confession"


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should  Be Reading. Anyone can play along, so I thought  I  would play for fun! Just do the following:          

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on  that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away!   You don’t  want  to  ruin the  book for others!)
  • Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can  add the book to their TBR  Lists  if they  like your teaser. 
Karen's::
At that moment, Greg heard the thin, unmistakable sound of a muffled scream. His mother's face, her mouth wide open, was framed in the triple-paned kitchen window. Insulation muffled the sound, but did nothing to hide her look of terror.
p. 61 of The Cache by Charles B. Neff

Gerard's:
     And so it had all come down to this: a drunk Joey Gamble confessing his sins and baring his soul in a strip club to a man with a concealed mike that produced a scratchy audio that no court in the civilized world would take heed of.
     The fragile life of Donte Drumm would depend on the eleveth-hour recantation b a witness with no credibility.
p. 156 of The Confession by John Grisham

Monday, November 8, 2010

Meet Us On Monday



Here are the questions:

1. What is your favorite kind of pie?
Gerard's: Pumpkin
Karen's: Lemon Meringue with Pumpkin very close

2. Have you ever ran out of gas in the car you were driving?
Gerard: No.
Karen: Yes. Actually, I took some teens to a park and ran out in the parking lot. One of them went and brought back some gas and put it in for me too. They all got a big laugh out of it.

3. How many languages do you speak?
Gerard: Just English
Karen: Just English, although, I did take German for 9th and 10th grade.

4. Do you take daily vitamins?
We both do.  Centrum Silver for both.  (Click on the link to read about the funny story about my dad and Centrum.)  Karen also takes Citracal and Glucosamine Chondroitin.

5. What is your worst eating habit?
Gerard: Never eats any vegetables.
Karen: Eats pizza usually three meals a week, sometimes four. I only have two pieces though at each meal.

Now go meet some more over 40 bloggers at Never Growing Old.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

"Facebook Me!" by Dave Awl

Facebook Me! by Dave Awl is a good reference book for learning to use Facebook to its full capacity.  I've been on Facebook for a couple years now I think so most of the things in this book I already knew by just exploring on my own.  Had I read this book first, it would have saved me some time.  It does explain how to set up a fan page which is something I didn't know how to do.  Another helpful thing was that it pointed out how I can blog app requests like silly gifts and games that I am not interested in.  It's actually very simple, there's a "block this app" option in  tiny letters under the app request that all I had to do was click on.  

I recommend this to anyone considering opening a Facebook account or who just is kind of lost when they go into it and would like to have a better understanding of it.

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Friday, November 5, 2010

"Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk" by David Sedaris


I know Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris is high on the best-seller list but it must be because of the cover and title of the book.  That is what made me want to read it.  I read 10 out of 16 of the short stories, each with different animals and unrelated to each other.  It has some offensive language that turned me off and I thought the stories were just goofy.  The overall idea, I think, is to point out how silly people can be by having the animals act like people, but in a negative way.  To me, the book was very negative and the stories were just goofy.  This is not a book I can recommend, even though the cover is cute.  I was very disappointed in it.
(Karen's review)

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

"If I Grow Up" by Todd Strasser

Through the fictional characters of DeShawn, his best friend, Terrell, and the gang leaders in If I Grow Up, Todd Strasser gives the reader a vivid picture of the pressures people face living in poverty with gang members ruling the neighborhood in the inner-city.  I really liked this book because it followed DeShawn and Terrell as they grew up in the projects and let me see a world I am totally unfamiliar with; on the other hand, it is disturbing that people in America are actually living like this in some places. 

Although DeShawn and Terrell were best friends, they had different goals.  At age 12, Terrell looked forward to getting into a gang while DeShawn wanted to stay out of it.  DeShawn was generally a kid who just wanted to help out his family, stay alive to see another day, do the right thing and  stay out of trouble.  Had he made some different choices, he may have succeeded.  Strange how things turned out.  You trust the wrong person, and boom—you’re dead.

Throughout the book, the author shares some shocking facts between chapters such as these:

There are three times more black men in jail cells than college dorms.  P. 216

Young, unemployed black men murder one another at nine times the rate of white youths.  In 1965, 24% of black males were born to single mothers.  By 1990, the rate had risen to 64% and by 2005, it was just under 70%.  p.155

If I Grow Up story kept my interest all the way through, right from page 1.  It’s well written and has clean language.  I recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading about teenagers, is living in a project or is interested in gangs. 
(Karen's review)

Gerard's review:
If I Grow Up is about a young boy growing up in the projects surrounded by two gangs. The people who he hangs around with and the decisions he makes is the core of this book. I enjoyed it. Kept me turning pages. The book rings true!

Related non-fiction book we also liked: 
Gang Leader For A Day by Sudhir Venkatesh   (non-fiction)                                                         
Can’t Get There From Here by Todd Strasser (fiction story about homeless street kids)

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?
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