Friday, November 13, 2009

White Picket Fences

The winner of the giveaway copy of this book was Cheryl. Congratulations Cheryl!

White Picket Fences by Susan Meissner is about family helping family and in the process getting to know each other. The book begins with Amanda and Neil Janvier picking up their niece Tally at her grandmother's funeral. Tally's father - Amanda's brother - is somewhere in Europe but no-one knows exactly where. So Tally comes to stay with Amanda and Neil and their children Chase and Delcey.

Tally and Chase work together on a school project interviewing Holocaust survivors. Along the way they find that the ideal family that the world sees is not the reality of what their family is.

This is a great book showing the problems secrets create and how easily a family can drift apart.

From the publisher:

Amanda Janvier’s idyllic home seems the perfect place for her niece Tally to stay while her vagabond brother is in Europe, but the white picket fence life Amanda wants to provide is a mere illusion. Amanda’s husband Neil refuses to admit their teenage son Chase, is haunted by the horrific fire he survived when he was four, and their marriage is crumbling while each looks the other way.

Tally and Chase bond as they interview two Holocaust survivors for a sociology project, and become startlingly aware that the whole family is grappling with hidden secrets, with the echoes of the past, and with the realization that ignoring tragic situations won’t make them go away.

Readers of emotional dramas that are willing to explore the lies that families tell each other for protection and comfort will love White Picket Fences. The novel is ideal for those who appreciate exploring questions like: what type of honesty do children need from their parents, or how can one move beyond a past that isn’t acknowledged or understood? Is there hope and forgiveness for the tragedies of our past and a way to abundant grace?

For more information please check:

I have a copy of this book for giveaway - just leave me a comment and a way to reach you by November 20th to be entered.


This book was provided by WaterBrook/Multnomah for review.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Quilter's Holiday

A Quilter's Holiday by Jennifer Chiaverini takes place the day after Thanksgiving. A tradition has formed at Elm Creek Quilts wherein the members spend the Friday after Thanksgiving having a potluck combined with a sewing session. The day is spent working on Christmas presents. Everyone brings a dish made of leftovers from their Thanksgiving dinner. Sounds like the perfect day to me. lol.

While cleaning the kitchen for the remodel (see the book The Quilter's Kitchen), Sylvia came across a cornucopia her sister Claudia made many, many years ago. The tradition was for each member of the family to put a small token of what they were thankful for into the cornucopia and then at dinner they would remove the items and each person would explain their choice. Of course Sylvia, Sarah and the girls are all quilters so they are to make a quilt block representing what they are thankful for.

The focus shifts from one lady to another as they each recall events from their past that shaped their present. All is not good though, but such is life. I like an author who doesn't paint everything rosy but makes it real instead.

These characters are like old friends but they've changed over the years. But they've changed in good ways. They've grown from their experiences.

There are some great discussions about traditions and how each family makes the holidays special for what suits them.

Sylvia gets some exciting news and I noted a wink at a past character. It will remain to be seen if it was intentional. I can't wait for April when the Quilters all go to Hawaii.

If you are a fan of the Elm Creek Quilts series make sure you pick this one up.


Friday, November 6, 2009

What Matters Most

What Matters Most by Melody Carlson is written in diary form by the main character Maya. The diary format had me kind of worried because I remember what my diary was like when I was a teen-ager. But Maya is very detailed - to the point she writes out conversations word for word.

This is the third in a series that is also the four set in a series. Each set focuses on a different girl. Maya is in the process of becoming emancipated. Her father is a musician who travels a lot and her mother is in prison. She's living with her uncle but they don't have a close sit down to dinner type relationship.

We follow Maya as she makes her way through high school. Her first decision is if she should graduate a year early. She has a boyfriend/boy friend issue (should they date or just be friends), issues with the popular girls (I didn't graduate that long ago that I don't remember that!), adventures with a Christian rock band and all your other typical teen-age issues.

Not having read any of the other books in this series I was a bit worried if I would be able to follow this. It would probably help to read some of the other but this book can be read as a stand alone.

Maya shows us a strong girl who doesn't go along with the crowd and is willing to step out for what she believes in. Each chapter ends with a "green" tip. Something I think is good for our teen-agers.

From the publisher:

Sixteen-year-old Maya Stark has a lot to sort through. She could graduate from high school early if she wants to. She’s considering it, especially when popular cheerleader Vanessa Hartman decides to make her life miserable–and Maya’s ex-boyfriend Dominic gets the wrong idea about everything.

To complicate matters even more, Maya’s mother will be released from prison soon, and she’ll want Maya to live with her again. That’s a disaster waiting to happen. And when Maya plays her dad’s old acoustic guitar in front of an audience, she discovers talents and opportunities she never expected. Faced with new options, Maya must choose between a “normal” life and a glamorous one. Ultimately, she has to figure out what matters most.

To read more about this book and for purchase information please go to:


This book was provided for review by Waterbrook/Multnomah.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Today's book is Limelight by Melody Carlson.

Claudette Fioré used to turn heads and break hearts. She relished the glamorous Hollywood lifestyle because she had what it takes: money, youth, fame, and above all, beauty. But age has withered that beauty, and a crooked accountant has taken her wealth, leaving the proud widow penniless and alone.

Armed with stubbornness and sarcasm, Claudette returns to her shabby little hometown and her estranged sister. Slowly, she makes friends. She begins to see her old life in a new light. For the first time, Claudette Fioré questions her own values and finds herself wondering if it’s too late to change.

This book was so hysterical! On one hand it's sad to see a woman in her 80s who doesn't know the simplest things about running a household. But on the other hand some of the situations Claudette finds herself in are too funny not to laugh. I found myself wanting to take notes so that if I lived to be 80 I would know the things that would make me look silly that I would want to avoid. lol.

But there are those times when you just wish you were there with Claudette so you could give her a big hug and tell her everyone makes mistakes now and then. After so many years of living a pampered life it's hard to sort of start from scratch. Luckily she had a home so she at least had a place to start from. There's a lesson to be learned about being willing to not only accept help but to ask for help. And there are some wonderful characters (hello Bea) who refuse to have their help refused.

Books like this are a joy to read. Lots of lessons to be learned but the message is funny and subtle and you don't mind hearing it.

Melody Carlson is quickly becoming a "must read" for me. As a matter of fact - I'm reading another one of hers and will be reviewing it shortly. Don't miss it.

For more information about the book and how to purchase it please visit:


This book was provided by Waterbrook/Multnomah for review free of charge.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Leaving Carolina

Leaving Carolina by Tamara Leigh is the first book in a series about Piper Wick. Piper is a member of the "leading" family in Pickwick, NC. Not that she's proud of that. The family has quite a few members who are a bit, um, unique. In her desire to separate herself from her family she drops the "Pick" from her last name of Pickwick and uses just Wick, works hard to lose her Southern drawl and works her way into a high-powered position as a public relations consultant and finds herself engaged to be engaged to a US Congressman.

And then in the midst of her "new" life she gets a call from her Uncle's attorney. Uncle Obidiah has had some health issues and has decided to "mend his ways and make amends" for the family's misdeeds while he still has the chance.

So Piper returns to Pickwick to put out the fires and save the family name and fortune.

A wonderful cast of characters awaits her - Uncle Obe, attorney Artemis, garden Axel, cousin Maggie, her daughter Devyn, Luc, Bart.

What follows is romance, revelations, and redemption. It's small town life with close family at it's best. Ms. Leigh writes the characters so well that you feel like you could walk out your front door and meet one of them on the street.

And the best news of all is that it is a series. I can't wait for the next book so I can go back to Pickwick, NC and catch up with my newest friends.

This book was provided for review by WaterbrookMultnomah and you can find further details and information to purchase this book at:


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Wash and Die

I just finished Wash and Die by Barbara Colley. This is the seventh book in the series about New Orleans maid Charlotte LaRue.

Charlotte is a single mother of a grown son with a very close extended family. Her sister Madeline has a police detective daughter named Judith and a lawyer son named Daniel. Judith's ex-partner Louis lives in the other half of Charlotte's Victorian double.

Charlotte has a knack for being in the right place at the right time (or is that the wrong place at the wrong time?) to stumble on murder. And she's pretty good at solving the crimes too, which the local police tend to find aggravating.

In this episode Louis' ex-wife Joyce is back from rehab and looking to Charlotte for a place to stay. Of course Joyce being Joyce, mayhem, and murder, soon follows.

As usual Charlotte can't just let Judith and the police find the answers to the questions that follow which naturally puts Charlotte in harm's way.

Can Charlotte find her beloved parakeet, Sweety Boy? Can she find the killer before the killer finds her or anyone else gets hurt?

Ms. Colley has developed a great cast of characters who really care about each other with a heroine with dogged determination to find the answers to the riddles surrounding the murder in their midst in a series that gets better with each new book.

I would recommend reading the books in this series in order. They do stand alone although they refer back to the earlier books so reading them in order builds a good foundation for understanding references in the later books. And all of them are good so why not read them all?

The next book will be out in January 2010 and I for one am marking my calendar.