Saturday, February 23, 2013

Book Review: Picture Perfect by Janice Thompson

Hannah, a wedding photographer is doing well in life. She has her own business which is soon about to be featured in Bride magazine. She just has a slight problem - her photography arch nemesis, Drew Kincaid. Well Drew and the bridezilla she must photograph who could make or break her career.

As Hannah prepares for the wedding, she is thrown into Drew's path repeatedly and is shocked to find out that he is not quite the arch nemesis she thought, and it not bad looking either :-) Will she be able to let go of the doubts from the past holding her back and forge a picture perfect future?

I very rarely have major issues with a book; I'm generally easy to please. However, this was the wrong book for me to have as a reader because in this book Hannah McDermott is "Irish" and since I am from Ireland, I could barely read it, the "Irish-ness" was so corny. I groaned outwardly at the stereo types, and granted not everything was wrong, but my husband read the first chapter and asked me why I would even keep going. I feel bad because the story itself wasn't bad - I really like when the story continues a little after the couple gets together, but it was hard for me to get past the awful references to my culture :-(

Here are some corrections - Probably the most important one is that people who are actually from Ireland generally roll their eyes and groan at Americans who are "Irish." I consider my own kids "American" since they were born here like the girl in the story AND her father.  While I know Italian families who are like the family in the story whose culture is rich and passed on and they do seem to use a lot of Italian even though they weren't born there, Irish families aren't really like that.

We never refer to our families as clans and are not really that into our lineage. When I asked my dad what he knew about our ancestors he said, "They're dead." We love to be Irish and Heaven help you if you say anything against us, but beyond that most people don't even know more than the chorus - actually the first line, of our national anthem.

The Irish language is only spoken fluently by a very small minority of the country and so the chances of a second generation Irish person not born in Ireland going off on rants in Irish is very small. I had to learn Irish for all of my schooling up through high school and beyond the odd phrase I hardly ever use it and forget almost all I learned.  (I will give her that the Irish she did use was translated and spelled correctly though).

And most importantly we NEVER say "top 'o the morning to ya."  

However, if you are not from Ireland, these things probably won't bother you the same way they did me, so you will probably enjoy it. The story itself is ok and there are some good spiritual thoughts too. It just happened to hit on a raw nerve.

Thank you to Revell Publishers for a free copy of this book to review.

Available February 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

ps - if you want to hear some real Irish sayings, in real Irish accents, these are the ones I grew up with :-)

Book Review: When the Heals Heals by Ann Shorey

Rosemary Saxon served as a nurse during the civil war and now is looking to use her skills to keep her independence. The trouble is that she and Dr. Stewart don't seem to see eye to eye on many things. To make things even more stressful, someone seems to be out to get Rosemary and the threats are getting more dangerous. When it seems she can take no more, Rosemary must chose to either leave town or find the courage to face her problems head on.

I thought this was a sweet story, though it did not stand out as remarkable to me. I thought it ended quite abruptly which kind of bothered me, but it besides that it was a good story. It is the second book in a series but I did not feel like it took away from the story - it read well as a stand alone novel.

Thank you to Revell Publishers for a free copy of this book to review.

Available February 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Eóin's BIrthday Minute Pics!

Can't believe my little boy is 6 already! His teacher was kind enough to take a birthday minute pic for me while he was at school so I can continue my tradition :-) I also asked him the same questions as last year so we can keep track of how his likes change over the years.

 Feb 15th, 2007 1:40pm 

Feb 15th, 2008 1:40pm

Feb 15, 2009, 1:40pm

Feb 15, 2010, 1:40pm

Feb 15, 2011, 1:40pm

Feb 15, 2012, 1:40pm

Feb 15, 2103, 1:40pm

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Book Review: The Tutor's Daughter by Julie Klassen

Emma Smallwood and her Father are to spend a year at Ebbington Manor tutoring a baronet's twin sons. But when they arrive, it seems they have come at a bad time, although no-one is saying exactly why. When strange things start happening around the house, especially in Emma's room, her curiosity and soon her fear is piqued. 

Adding to the tension around the house is the presence of the baronets older sons, both of whom have lived with the Smallwoods in the past, leaving memories and impressions that are hard to alter.
When the strange happenings start to turn dangerous, Emma will need figure out who to trust with her safety and her heart.

Julie Klassen is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors! I loved, loved, loved this book!!! Definitely in my top five! It was like Pride and Prejudice meets Jane Eyre.  So fantastic - I was sad to see it end. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is a Jane Austen fan. So good!

A huge thank you to Bethany House Publishers for a free copy of this book to review.

Book Review: Unending Devotion by Jody Hedlund

Lily Young's sister is missing. Desperate to find her and keep her family safe and together, Lily travels from town to town, working as a photographers assistant, heedless of the dangers in Michigans logging communities. Eventually, her travels lead her to Harrison, Michigan and Connell McCormick.

Connell is working hard to build up his father's logging business. He keeps his business to himself and while he is an upright man himself, he ignores the wicked lifestyles of the men around him. But it gets harder to ignore the exploitation and filth when Lily comes to town and is determined to fight it at all costs. But will those costs be too high for both of them?

This was a very interesting historical fiction to me as my husband grew up in this part of the country. I enjoyed learning about the harsh conditions of the time through this story. It was also a good challenge not ignore injustices around us, but to take a stand for right, even when the cost may be high.

Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for a free copy of this book to review.

Book Review: A Change of Fortune by Jen Turano

Miss Eliza Sumner is an English governess working with an elite family in America. But underneath her humble exterior lies a lady on a mission. In fact, Miss Sumner is not just Miss Sumner but Lady Sumner, heiress, whose fortune has been stolen, and she intends to find the man who stole it! Masquerading as a governess allows lady Eliza to be around the wealthy patrons of New York without drawing attention to herself - precisely what she needs to find and reclaim her fortune.

What she wasn't planning on was the amount of trouble her mission would land her in and the handsome man she will need to depend on to help her out of it!

This book drew me in from the very first page. It's funny and charming with good plot twists sewn throughout the story. I loved all the predicaments Eliza finds herself in - such a fun character! I will put this on my read again list :-)

Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for a free copy of this book to review!

Book Review: Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden

Lydia Pallas has known great hardship in her life. She has gone through many trials and struggles, and now that she has a steady job translating for the US Navy and an apartment that she loves and calls home. Her very orderly world is about to be turned upside down when she meets Alexander Bainbridge and agrees to do some translating work for him on the side.

Alexander Bainbridge is on a mission to end the opium trade in America and will stop at nothing to see his mission completed. He certainly has no time for women and love. Yet he relies on Lydia and her translating work to help him take down the people involved in the industry.

When the mission suddenly turns very dangerous, Lydia is tested to her very limit and Alexander is forced to see how much he really needs her.

I totally enjoyed every minute of this book.  The funny thing is that the whole time I was reading it, the plot kind of reminded me of another book I had read, but I couldn't put my finger on it. I didn't realize until I saw an ad in the back of the book, that I had read this book, with the same main character a few years ago. When that clicked, it made the book even better! I will go back and read them both together in the future :-) This is a great page turner - romance, mystery, and danger - kept me up to the wee hours of the morning because I didn't want to put it down!

Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for a free copy of this book to review.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Book Review: 5 Days to a Clutter-Free House

Sandra Felton and Marsha Simms are the authors of this book designed to help even the messiest of messies find freedom from clutter in just 5 days. The book gives a very detailed plan for how to use a team method to quickly clear floors, counters and even inside cupboards and drawers from chaos. The first half of the book explains how to box up everything in sight, sending each item to the room where it belongs. By the end of 5 days you will have clear spaces. Then the second half of the book explains how to deal with the items in the boxes and how to keep your home from becoming cluttered again.

When I first ordered this book to review, I thought it was more of an organizational tip book. I generally do not deal with the amount of clutter that needs a team of people to clean up. My kitchen island tends to be a catch all for mail, school work etc... so I thought it might have ideas for keeping it clear. However, this book tends to deal with more extreme clutter. I am more of a tosser than a keep of things so it didn't really apply very much to my situation.

I did think it was easy to read, and thought that the ideas seem like a very reasonable and doable approach to someone dealing with an overwhelming mess. It is encouraging and helps you keep envisioning the end goal of a neat and tidy home. I thought it was a little repetitive at times, and maybe told one too many stories, but besides that, I would recommend it to someone dealing with this issue in their home.

Thank you to Revell Publishers for a free copy of this book to review.

Available February 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.