Monday, August 31, 2009

Books I've read this week - A Map of Home

A Map of Home © 2008 by Randa Jarrar

About the book: “Nidali, the rebellious daughter of an Egyptian-Greek mother and a Palestinian father, narrates the story of her childhood in Kuwait, her teenage years in Egypt – following the 1990 Iraqi invasion – and her family’s flight to Texas

Nidali mixes humor with a sharp, loving portrait of an eccentric middle-class family, a perspective that keeps her buoyant through the hardships she encounters: the humiliation of going through a checkpoint on a visit to her father’s home in the West Bank; the fights with her hot-tempered father, who wants her to become a famous professor and stay away from boys; the end of her childhood as Iraq invades Kuwait on her thirteenth birthday; and the scare she gives her family when she runs away from home

One can not help but notice the inspiration Randa Jarrar’s own life provides for this first novel. Randa was born in Chicago, grew up in Kuwait and Egypt, and moved back to the U. S. at thirteen. Jarrar’s first-hand experience gives a sense of realism to the refugee experience portrayed in her story, one peppered with Arabic phrases and cultural references

Funny, charming, and heartbreaking, A Map of Home is the kind of book Tristram Shandy or Huck Finn would have narrated had they been born Egyptian-Palestinian and female in the 1970s.”

I read this thinking it was a true story – I don’t know why. And thinking it was real, I didn’t like how the author wrote about her life. Now that I’m done and realize that it IS a novel, I still don’t like the story very much but I did find it very interesting. The tone of the book was somewhat juvenile like a young girl really was telling the story. It does do a good job of portraying life in the Arabic countries, putting a fresh spin on the life of a young girl there.

The book is reviewed as ‘funny’; I didn’t find it so. The whole family went through a lot as the father moved them from place to place because of his job and later because of the Iraqi war. He felt frustrated and took it out on his wife and the two kids who he beat regularly. For example, here’s one passage where Nidali and her brother Gamal are comparing bruises from their father’s beatings. “Gamal and I compared our bruises like bomb sites on two different maps. ” That may be a cute comment but beating kids is not funny. Nidali is smart but also a smart ass. She thinks nothing of cussing at shopkeepers or taxi drivers or her parents. She uses the bidet to masturbate and practices kissing with her girlfriends. The book also has references to things that left me completely in the dark like this – “…. Baba took us all out to Zephyrion restaurant in Abu-Qir that night ....... On the way there we made fun of the name “Abu-Ear.” I called it Father-widn, and we all decided that’s what we’d call it from then on.” What the heck does that mean? I don’t mind books using foreign words when necessary but when I have no idea what they mean, I don’t like it.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Books I've read this week - Immaculate Deception

Immaculate Deception © 2009 by Courtney J. Webb

About the book: "When Craig Connery stole a dead man’s identity, he wasn’t counting on becoming a priest. Now, all Hell’s going to break loose.

Sexy Craig Connery has just finished two years in a British prison for a crime he didn’t commit. And he can’t wait to reunite with his family and assume his old life: a ladies man and petty thief.

But as he makes his way home, Craig becomes the sole witness to a horrific single-car accident. Killed is the driver – whose uncanny resemblance to Craig presents an opportunity to change his life forever. In one rash decision, Craig takes the man’s identification. No longer Craig Connery, he becomes James Kempster. Father James Kempster.

Now, this decidedly unreligious man must make it as a man of God. His first mission? Running a nursing home in regional Australia.

What follows is an uproarious and high-stakes farce of biblical proportions as Craig dissembles his way through a life he knows nothing about. Along the way, he’ll gain entrĂ©e into a world whose secrets rival his own – and discover the shocking truth about the church, the elderly, and himself.

At once comical, quirky, and deeply touching, Immaculate Deception is a novel of unconventional faith and the power of personal discovery."

Oh, my! Are you familiar with British comedies and their style of humor, especially Benny Hill? That was my first thought as I started reading this book. It is filled with raunchy writing and put-downs. If this were your only source of information about the Catholic church, you would think all the priests and nuns were sex maniacs, perverts, and schemers. However, once the story got more developed, I actually got interested in what was going on. It’s highly unbelievable that a man could step into the shoes of a priest and get away with it, but it did make a funny story. He picks up ‘tips’ about how to be a priest while watching The Exorcist on the flight to Australia. Against his will, Craig gets involved with trying to save the Catholic-run Australian nursing home where he’s been sent. If he doesn’t, the place will be sold and the elderly residents will have nowhere to live. They need to come up with $2 million and what better way than to rob a bank. What happens is hilarious and touching as they all work together to save each other.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Books I've read this week - Aurora of the Northern Lights

Aurora of the Northern Lights © 2009 by Holly Hardin.
Illustrated by Donald Vanderbleek. Recommended ages, 3 – 8.

About the book: “Named for the Northern Lights, Aurora faces a woeful plight. To many lands she must roam, searching for her true home.

Come along as author Holly Hardin conjures a mystical world of adventure, sprites, and magical charms. After losing her parents, little Aurora sets off on her own. Because she’s different, Aurora finds it difficult to find anyone who will listen to her story, even at Christmas time. As her story continues, Aurora receives special gifts to keep her safe and important clues to find her new home.

Follow the journey as Aurora encounters a host of creatures along the way – including one very famous bearded man. What follows in this beautifully illustrated and delightfully written book is a heartwarming story of a home lost and found – and a Christmas lesson for us all.”

This is a large, 8.5” x 11”, children’s paperback with about 30 pages. The story is written in rhyme and the illustrations are colorful and depict the story well. A young man, William, is exploring up North, meets a lady named Mistletoe, falls in love, and they get married. She lives where it’s very cold but he can’t stand it there so they move back to his farm where it’s warm. Aurora is born from this marriage. When she’s 7, her parents both get sick and die, and she’s left alone. She goes to town for help and is turned away because she’s different. They send her to the forest where she’s again told she doesn’t belong. Eventually, she makes her way north and finds her grandmother and a new home with Santa’s elves. The book does have a few words that a child would probably have to look up or have explained like fey, solstice, hearth, and gaggle.

I’ve been debating with myself and even discussed this book with my husband. I like the verse and the illustrations but I think the price ($19) is unreasonable. And I realize it’s just a story, but coming from a large, diverse family like I do, I wish it did a better job of promoting tolerance and acceptance of differences.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Books I've read this week - The Night Gardener

The Night Gardener ©2006 by George Pelecanos; Reading Group guide edition © 2009
I won this book from Bev at Merry Weather Book Blog. Thanks again Bev!

About the book: “When the body of a local teenager is found in a community garden, detective Gus Ramone relives intense memories of a twenty-year-old case. Back when he was a rookie, Ramone and his partner “Doc” Holliday assisted legendary detective T. C. Cook in the investigation of a series of murders involving young victims. The killer, dubbed “the Night Gardener,” was never caught.

The fierce sense of anger, regret, and purpose that once burned among these three men comes rushing back as they race to vanquish the monster who has stalked their dreams. For Cook, now retired, it means solving one of the few cases that eluded him. For Holiday, whose career as a cop was derailed, it’s one last chance to redeem himself. For Ramone, catching the killer means not only doing his job but knowing that his own teenage son, who was a friend of the dead boy, won’t be the next victim.”

This is the first Pelecanos book I have read and I liked it very much. If you are a fan of television’s Law and Order, you will like this book. Gus Ramone is Italian and married to a black woman so his family knows first-hand about discrimination. He’s a good cop who goes by the book. “Doc” Holiday turns to the bottle and/or picks up strange women all too often to cover his feelings of resentment and frustration over losing his police job and he blames Ramone. T. C. Cook just wants to catch the ‘one who got away’ before he dies. All these men come together to try and solve the latest murder and just maybe, put some of the past behind them.

Pelecanos does a good job portraying the stressful lives of Washington, D. C. cops in their fight against racism, drugs, discrimination, and prostitution while also getting into the minds of the criminals. He shows how hard it is growing up in a poor, rough area and the reasons so few are able to rise above it. There was great dialog and character development. I highly recommend this book if you like crime stories.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Books I've read this week - By the Rivers of Brooklyn

By the Rivers of Brooklyn © 2009 by Trudy J. Morgan-Cole
I won this from Stone Soup . Katrina has an almost-weekly Monday giveaway. Make sure you check out her site. Thanks again Katrina!

About the book: “In the 1920s, Jim, Bert, and Rose Evans all move from Newfoundland to Brooklyn, New York, in search of work and a better life, leaving their sister Annie back home in St. John’s. When tragedy strikes, Bert’s finance’ Ethel is forced to make a desperate choice, the results of which resonate through the Evans family across three countries, and three generations. By the Rivers of Brooklyn explores the hopes, passions, and heartbreaks of those who went away and those who stayed behind.

By the Rivers of Brooklyn transforms into fiction the experience of the 75,000 first- and second-generation Newfoundlanders who once lived in Brooklyn, New York – and the universal experience of migration, of people throughout history
who have gone away to find work and prosperity but never stopped dreaming of home.”

I loved this book. Even though I don’t have a family history of relatives who immigrated, I was able to relate to the story because the author did such a wonderful job of making the characters real, using snippets of her own past family memories to round out their lives. I enjoyed traveling with the Evans siblings as they discovered a new life and lifestyle in New York. Away from the stringent restraints of growing up raised in the Salvation Army church, Rose, Bert, and Jim struggle to improve their lives. Rose loves the freedom to be on her own, but can she handle that freedom? Bert and Jim find jobs working on high-rise buildings, hoping to make enough money to get married and start families of their own. The story chronicles their lives and how the choices they make influenced their family. It was very well written in a style that draws the reader into the story. I think you’d enjoy it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Wins and a Reminder

I haven't had any major wins for quite a while but have won several books and a couple of other things.

July 13 - My Forbidden Desire by Carolyn Jewell from Drey's Library
July 19 - The Link by Colin Tudge from Luxury Reading
July 31 - The Crowning Glory of Cally Lily Ponder by Rebecca Wells from Bookin' with Bingo

Aug. 1 - Evil at Heart from Goodreads
Aug. 2 - a ZannClip (hair clip) from Style for Free
Aug. 10 - an autographed Darlye Singletary CD from 'Rockin' in the Country' sweeps by Wrangler
Aug. 18 - a hat, DVD, and luggage tag from The Outdoor Channel


And don't forget, if you're looking for book contests, check out the right-hand sidebar where the blogs are posted. Most of these great blogs have book giveaways, too.

Books I've read this week - The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder

The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder © 2009 by Rebecca Wells, author of Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. I won this from Bookin’ with Bingo. Thanks Karen!

About the book: The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder is the sweet, sexy, funny journey of Calla Lily’s life set in Wells’ expanding fictional Louisiana landscape. In the small river town of La Luna, Calla bursts into being, a force of nature as luminous as the flower she is named for. Under the loving light of the Moon Lady, the feminine force that will guide and protect her throughout her life, Calla enjoys a blissful childhood – until it is cut short. Her mother, M’Dear, a woman of rapture and love, teaches Calla compassion, and passes on to her the art of healing through the humble womanly art of “fixing hair.” At her mother’s side, Calla further learns that this same touch of hands on the human body can quiet her own soul. It is also on the banks of La Luna River that Calla encounters sweet, succulent first love, with a boy named Tuck.

But when Tuck leaves Calla with a broken heart, she transforms hurt into inspiration and heads for the wild and colorful city of New Orleans to study at L’Academie de Beaute’ de Crescent. In that extravagant big river city, she finds her destiny – and comes to understand fully the power of her “healing hands” to change lives and soothe pain, including her own. When Tuck reappears years later, he presents her with an offer that is colored by the memories of lost love. But who knows how Calla Lily, a “daughter of the Moon Lady’, will respond?

A tale of family and friendship, tragedy and triumph, loss and love, The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder features the warmth, humor, soul, and wonder that have made Wells one of today’s most cherished writers, and gives us an unforgettable new heroine to treasure.”

I felt Ms. Wells did an excellent job capturing the feel of the 1950s and ‘60s south in a small town. This book has a lot of emotion running through it and the author made the most of it, especially the sad parts. There were a lot of those but the book is ultimately about Calla’s ability to overcome the obstacles thrown in her way. I'm not sure Calla's 'healing hands' were any more magical than any good hairdressers. (Don't you just love it when they wash your hair and massage your scalp?) It was a good summer reading book.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Win Money for Groceries!

Enter the "It Pays to Eat Pasta" sweeps and you could win one of 8 grand prizes of $5200 or one of 42 First prizes of $200. The sweeps runs until October 30 with one entry per day/per person/per email address. Open to all 50 states and DC residents 18 and over.

BONUS ENTRIES: Once you have entered, you may receive additional entries when you refer your friends to the promotion. For each valid person/email address that signs up from your link, you will be credited with one additional Bonus Sweepstakes Entry, up to a maximum of thirty Bonus Sweepstakes entries during the Entry Period.

Enter here. Good luck!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Books I've read this week - On the Bluffs

On the Bluffs by Steven Schindler © 2009

About the book: “Sometimes the biggest lies are the ones we live.

Finding and reuniting with lost loves is growing in popularity with the ease and accessibility provided from sites like Facebook, Google, and Linkedin. It is this search for a love from the past that is at the heart of On the Bluffs.

While Brian DeLouise was working the graveyard shift at a conspiracy theory-crazed radio station his wife was alley-catting around Washington, D. C. But a cheating spouse and a dead-end job no longer made him angry or depressed. He was just numb. It took a daring brush with death to awaken his senses and a few clicks on Google to begin a journey to recapture a love he believed was gone forever. Brian finds his lost lover in a rundown mansion on the windswept cliffs of Cape Cod, where he must confront a fast approaching evil while he risks destroying his own life and that of everything he now cherishes.”

It took me a few chapters to really get interested in this book. I found the parts about fantasy baseball and Brian’s job at the radio station to be boring. I was beginning to think this was a ‘man’s romance novel’ if there is such a thing.

Brian is going nowhere. He’s middle-aged, slightly overweight and losing his hair, obsessed with fantasy baseball, his job sucks, and he hasn’t had sex with his wife in two years. Then something happens and he’s reminded of the wonderful summer he spent working on Cape Cod where he met and fell in love with Portia Smart. One thing leads to another and he decides to see if he can find her again. Once Portia and her family were brought into the story, it became more interesting and I really enjoyed it. Some of the characters in the book were truly that – characters! The story follows Portia and Brian in their struggle to find what they’d had 20 years ago with many ups and downs along the way.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Hard Week

This hasn’t been a good week for Jim. It’s been so hot this week and the plant he works in isn’t air-conditioned, and his foreman’s mother died on Monday. We’ve known the whole family for years and Marilyn Bush was a super nice person. She died after 3 years of fighting ovarian cancer. She had worked with the school lunch program for over 30 years and had a lot of friends in the community. Since neither of us will be able to attend the funeral Friday morning, we went to visitation Thursday night. It was held at a local church and the number of people attending and the amount of flowers were a wonderful tribute to her.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Books I've read this week - Strange But True, America

Strange But True, America: Weird Tales from All 50 States ©2009 by John Hafnor. Illustrated by Dale Crawford

From the book cover:
New finds from America’s history “attic”.
U.S. President skinny-dips in the Potomac – every day!
America’s real headless horseman
Oops – student cuts down world’s oldest tree
Mosquito bite secures statehood for Florida
U.S. presidents killed by their own physicians

"John Hafnor launched the “strange history” book phenomenon in 1982 with Black Hills Believables. Hafnor taught history at National College, and hit the lecture circuit with humorous “Hidden Histories.” He authored best-selling books for Colorado and South Dakota and the German-language Wahres aus dem Wilden Western.

Hafnor’s acclaimed Strange But True, America is a 50-state tour de force of every oddball fact missing from standard history books.

Dale Crawford’s drawings breathe virtual life into America’s forgotten past. Crawford is famed for his unique illustration style as found in over 30 books and numerous magazine articles. Always historically accurate, Crawford captures the personalities of heroes and outlaws alike. You will relish 70 Crawford originals created especially for this book. "

Like the blurb says, this book contains some wacky, little-known, history trivia. It's a good sized paperback, 10.5" x 7.5", and two pages are devoted to each state with one page of text and another with illustrations. There are more pages in the back with shorter trivia tales about each state and an excellent index. The stories are interesting and the drawings are well done. This is not a younger child’s book but one that older kids and adults will find fun to read. Mr. Hafnor has also developed individual state postcards with the same information as the book. These cards will be sold at truck stops and gift shops. You can also visit for more unpublished tales.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Book Giveway - THE LOST DOG

Drey's Library is having another book giveway. This time it's for The Lost Dog by Michelle de Kretser.

About the book: Tom Loxley, an Indian-Australian professor, is less concerned with finishing his book on Henry James than with finding his dog, who is lost in the Australian bush. Joining his daily hunt is Nelly Zhang, an artist whose husband disappeared mysteriously years before Tom met her. Although Nelly helps him search for his beloved pet, Tom isn't sure if he should trust this new friend.Tom has preoccupations other than his book and Nelly and his missing dog, mainly concerning his mother, who is suffering from the various indignities of old age. He is constantly drawn from the cerebral to the primitive--by his mother's infirmities, as well as by Nelly's attractions. THE LOST DOG makes brilliant use of the conventions of suspense and atmosphere while leading us to see anew the ever-present conflicts between our bodies and our minds, the present and the past, the primal and the civilized.

To enter, tell Drey is you have ever been to the Australian bush, or would you want to go. Leave your comments here. Contest ends 6:00pm CST August 24th. Extra entries for following and sharing. Good luck!

Books I've read this week - Legacy

Legacy © 2008 by Cayla Kluver, Re-released by Amazon Encore 2009

About the book: “As a dark rivalry between two kingdoms threatens to erupt into war, a willful princess must decide between duty and desire.

Obligated to wed her father’s choice in successor to the throne, seventeen-year-old Princess Alera of Hytanica believes that she is being forced into the worst of all possible fates – a marriage to the arrogant and hot-tempered Steldor. When the attractive and mysterious Narian arrives from enemy lands bearing secrets and different ideas about women’s roles in the world, Alera’s private desires threaten to destroy the kingdom. The discovery of Narian’s shocking past plunges Alera into a shadowy world of palace intrigue and ancient blood feuds, leaving her unsure of what to believe in, or whom to trust.

Legacy introduces sixteen-year-old novelist Cayla Kluver. Marked by sharp dialogue and dramatic complexity the belie the writer’s age, this memorable page-turner brings a fresh, new sensibility to age-old questions of duty and inheritance, and a young heroine’s quest to find her own voice.”

First, I have to say, all the time I was reading the book, one thought kept going through my mind, “A girl wrote this when she was just 14!” I find that amazing as the story line, characters, and dialogue are well developed and would rival any other book I’ve read. The heroine in only 17 so I’m sure that helped give the author an edge even though the story takes place at a much earlier, medieval time. Her descriptions of people, places, customs, foods, and clothing are very complete.

I think this is a very good YA fantasy romance that teen girls will find easy to relate to. The story centers on just-turned-17 Princess Alera. It’s the custom in her country that she must pick a husband by her 18th birthday. It’s also the custom that women can’t rule so whomever she chooses will become king and she’ll just be their consort. Her father has already decided Lord Steldor would be the best ruler based on his military experience, family, wealth, etc., but she doesn’t like him because he’s a braggart and condescending. When the young stranger Narian comes into their lives, she’s very taken by him even though no one else approves or trusts him. In his world, the women rule and he respects that. She has to decide to follow her heart or her father’s wishes.

There were several things that aren’t explained in the story such as what happened when Alera’s bodyguard, London, was a prisoner of the Cokyrians and how he escaped. I hope the sequel fills in some of the blanks. The book ends on a somewhat abrupt and sad note making you want more. The story continues in Kluver’s next book, Allegiance, due out later this year. Legacy will be released by Amazon Encore on August 18th.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A Peek into my Week

I got 4 review books in Monday’s mail, a book win on Friday, and 2 more review books in Saturday’s mail . I was only able to get 3 books read this week. I have other’s that I’ve bought that I want to read, too. What am I going to do?

Friday I worked at the Multipurpose Center as I have every Friday since the end of February. It was Anne, another volunteer from 8 – 11, and me. We weren’t swamped with customers like we are some days but it was steady all day. I didn’t even have free time to go to lunch. (Something different is going to be done about that!) Anne had been having a bad muscle ache in her neck all week and went home a little early and I was ready for home, too, when 4:30 came around. Instead , Jim and I went and bought a used dryer. YIPPEE!! Mine had quit working in May and I’ve been hanging clothes outside or on the back porch all summer. It was never a question of not having money to replace it; it’s a problem with our basement stairway. Jim finally fixed that enough to get by, and we got the old one out and the newer one in. Jay and Dianna came down to help move them and we had a nice visit after supper.

Iowa weather continues to have its ups and downs. July was the coolest on record and now we’re behind on rainfall after quite a damp spring and early summer. Yesterday (Saturday) was hot enough to make up for July – mid 90s - and after getting about ¾” of rain on Friday, the humidity was terrible, too.

This was the weekend of the annual Hwy. 141 garage sales here in Iowa. All the towns and lots of country people in between Grimes and Manilla participate for 2 days, Friday and Saturday, and have sales. One of these years I’m going to have Jim take off work and we’re going to go on Friday because Saturday was pretty picked over. We started at Grimes like usual and it takes forever to get very far because of all the stops and starts. It was miserably hot, too, which isn't much fun. Would you believe the only thing I bought was a computer keyboard for $1? I needed a different one because a couple of keys were sticking and the price was definitely right, but I really expected to spend a LOT more money than that on finds. I even had some extra money this year and was hoping to find a couch or something unusual for the garden, but nope, nothing. I was really disappointed. I didn’t even find any paperback bargains. I can find so many at flea markets for 25 or 50 cents so there’s no way I’m going to pay a dollar or more for a used book. We finally gave up and drove on over to Council Bluffs and spent the money we had desinated for the sales at the Horseshoe Casino. That, at least, that was air-conditioned and more fun.

Books I've read this week - Receive Me Falling

Receive Me Falling © 2009 by Erika Robuck

About the book: “Every slave story is a ghost story.

The haunting words of an historian and former cane worker on the Caribbean island of Nevis launch Meghan Owen on her quest to unlock the secrets of an abandoned sugar plantation and its ghosts.

After Meg’s parents die in a car accident on the night of her engagement party, she calls off her wedding, takes leave of her job in Annapolis, and travels to land she’s inherited on Nevis. A series of discoveries in an old plantation house on the property, Eden, set her on a search for the truth surrounding the shameful past of her ancestors, their slaves, and the tragedy that resulted in the fall of the plantation and its inhabitants.

Through a crushing phone call with her lawyer, Meg learns that her father’s estate was built on stolen money, and is being sued by multiple sources. She is faced with having to sell the land and plantation home, and deal with the betrayal she feels from her father.

In alternating chapters, the historical drama of the Dall family unfolds. Upon the arrival of British abolitionists to the hedonistic 19th century plantation society, Catherine Dall is forced to choose between her lifestyle and the scandal of deserting her family. An angry confrontation with Catherine’s slave, Leah, results in the girl’s death, but was it murder or suicide?

Hidden texts, scandalous diaries, antique paintings, and confessional letters help Meghan Owen uncover the secrets of Eden and put the ghosts to rest.”

I enjoyed this book very much. It was based on fact and I liked learning about the island of Nevis. It also gave a good description of what life was like for the sugar cane plantation owners and their slaves in the early 1800s. I found the early part of the story and the strong character of Catherine more interesting than the present-day chapters of Meg's life, but together they told a good story. The author threw a couple of curves into the story towards the end which changed the emotional feeling of the book. What an unexpected way to end the story!

This is Erika Robuck’s debut novel but she’s currently researching and drafting a novel set in Depression-era Key West around the home of Ernest Hemmingway.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Book Giveway - The Hope of Refuge

Luxury Reading is participating in the blog tour and giveway for The Hope of Refuge by Cindy Woodsmall.

About the book: Raised in foster care and now the widowed mother of a little girl, Cara Moore struggles against poverty, fear, and a relentless stalker. When a trail of memories leads Cara and Lori out of New York City toward an Amish community, she follows every lead, eager for answers and a fresh start. She discovers that long-held secrets about her family history ripple beneath the surface of Dry Lake, Pennsylvania, and it’s no place for an outsider. But one Amish man, Ephraim Mast, dares to fulfill the command he believes that he received from God–“Be me to her”– despite how it threatens his way of life.

Completely opposite of the hard, untrusting Cara, Ephraim’s sister Deborah also finds her dreams crumbling when the man she has pledged to build a life with begins withdrawing from Deborah and his community, including his mother, Ada Stoltzfus. Can the run-down house that Ada envisions transforming unite them toward a common purpose–or push Mahlon away forever? While Ephraim is trying to do what he believes is right, will he be shunned and lose everything–including the guarded single mother who simply longs for a better life?

Sounds interesting, doesn't it? If you'd like to enter to win a copy go to here to enter. Extra entries possible.

Books I've read this week - Water Witch

Water Witch © 2008 by Deborah LeBlanc

About the book: “Dunny knew from an early age what it meant to be an outsider. Her special abilities earned her many names, like freak and water witch. So she vowed to keep her powers a secret. But now her talents may be the only hope of two missing children. A young boy and girl have vanished, feared lost in the mysterious bayous of Louisiana. But the didn’t just disappear; they were taken. And amid the ghosts and spirits of the swamp, there is a danger worse than any other, one with very special plans for the children – and for anyone who dares to interfere.”

This was a good thriller with a psychotic killer, evil spirits, two sisters who believe in doing what's right, and a spooky location – the swamps of Louisiana. Dunny's unique 'gift' was unlike any I had ever seen but one that made her somewhat of an outcast as she grew up, so she learned to hide it. Now her sister has called asking her to come help find two missing children. She goes even though she knows she’ll probably regret it. With the help of her sister and Poochie, her sister’s grandmother-in-law, she’s determined to find the children before time runs out, even if it means putting her own life on the line.

I liked the character development in the book. The good people had faults and the bad one was truly evil and his identity completely unexpected. The setting was perfect for the plot and Poochie with her Louisiana-Cajun lingo and insights really added to the story. There were a few moments of humor and many of terror as the ladies made and executed their plans to find the kids. The tension built throughout the book until it reached the climatic ending, making it a very good story.
Thanks to FSB Associates for providing copies of Water Witch, Soul Survivor, and Benny & Shrimp for me to read and review.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Books I've read this week - Soul Survivor

Soul Survivor: The Reincarnation of a World War II Fighter Pilot ©2009 by Bruce and Andrea Leininger with Ken Gross

About the book: “The parents of James Leininger were first puzzled and then disturbed when their two-year-old son began screaming out chilling phrases during recurrent nightmares, such as “Plane on fire! Little man can’t get out!” The centerpiece of a loving family of three, James was a happy, playful toddler who had only just begun stringing together sentences. Determined to understand what was happening to their son, Bruce and Andrea set off on a journey of discovery that was to rock them to their core. For the more they researched the arcane comments and fragmented details little James revealed, the more they were drawn inescapably to a shocking conclusion: that James was reliving the life of James Huston, a World War II fighter pilot who was killed in the battle for Iwo Jima -- over sixty year ago!

Through painstaking research and conversations with war veterans and surviving members of James Huston’s family, Bruce and Andrea were forced to confront their skepticism and reexamine their entire belief system. In the process, they not only managed to solve the mystery of their son’s statements, they also uncovered revelations about James Huston’s life and wartime experiences that could finally bring peace and healing to his loved ones, decades after his death.”

This was a fascinating story. A two-year-old starts having nightmares and says he’s trapped in a burning plane. That by itself is nothing too unusual but when he names a specific type of plane and says he was shot down by a Japanese fighter plane, his parents began to wonder what’s going on. He has knowledge of things that a 2-year-old couldn’t know. James was lucky he had parents who took the time to try and figure out what the problem was, instead of just ignoring it or medicating him, because the screaming nightmares went on for months. If I hadn’t known this was a true story, I would have thought it a very interesting novel. Do I believe James Huston was reincarnated in James Leininger? I’m not sure. Read it yourself and draw your own conclusions. For more information, you can go to .