Sunday, September 28, 2014

Where Treetops Glisten

The crunch of newly fallen snow, the weight of wartime
Siblings forging new paths and finding love in three stories,
filled with the wonder of Christmas

Turn back the clock to a different time, listen to Bing Crosby sing of sleigh bells in the snow, as the realities of America’s involvement in the Second World War change the lives of the Turner family in Lafayette, Indiana.

In Cara Putman’s White Christmas, Abigail Turner is holding down the Home Front as a college student and a part-time employee at a one-of-a-kind candy shop. Loss of a beau to the war has Abigail skittish about romantic entanglements—until a hard-working young man with a serious problem needs her help.

Abigail’s brother Pete is a fighter pilot hero returned from the European Theater in Sarah Sundin’s I’ll Be Home for Christmas, trying to recapture the hope and peace his time at war has eroded. But when he encounters a precocious little girl in need of Pete’s friendship, can he convince her widowed mother that he’s no longer the bully she once knew?

In Tricia Goyer’s Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Meredith Turner, “Merry” to those who know her best, is using her skills as a combat nurse on the frontline in the Netherlands. Halfway around the world from home, Merry never expects to face her deepest betrayal head on, but that’s precisely what God has in mind to redeem her broken heart.

The Turner family believes in God’s providence during such a tumultuous time. Can they absorb the miracle of Christ’s birth and His plan for a future?

I absolutely loved these three stories. While each story focused on a different member of the Turner family, they were all tied to get because they were from the same family. Each story had the same theme of the love that a family has for each other and the way they are open to helping and learning to love others.

We first meet Abigail, who is trying to help Jackson solve a problem that she doesn't really know about. It's a legal issue and her father is an attorney. Of course they can't discuss the problem which makes it even more touching how Abigail was so willing to help when she didn't even know what was going on.

Next we meet Pete. He also wants to help. But, as it turns out, the little girl he wants to help is the daughter of one of the last women on earth who would be willing at accept his help. Can he break through her old memories and make her see that he is a different person now?

And finally we meet Merry. Well, actually now she is going by her given name of Meredith - because she doesn't think she has reason to be Merry any more. Her heart was broken - but are things really what she thought they were? Did David leave her for the reason she assumes or was there something else that drew him away?

Loved the epilogue at the end because I really didn't want the stories to end. All the characters were likeable and each was in a totally believable situation.

If you are like me and like to read Christmas stories in the weeks and months leading up to the holiday be sure to pick up a copy of this book.


 "I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Rare Bird by Anna Whiston-Donaldson

Rare Bird

On the other side of heartbreak, a story of hope rises.
On an ordinary September day, twelve-year-old Jack is swept away in a freak neighborhood flood. His parents and younger sister are left to wrestle with the awful questions: How could God let this happen? And, Can we ever be happy again? They each fall into the abyss of grief in different ways. And in the days and months to come, they each find their faltering way toward peace.

In Rare Bird, Anna Whiston-Donaldson unfolds a mother’s story of loss that leads, in time, to enduring hope. “Anna’s storytelling,” says Glennon Doyle Melton, “is raw and real and intense and funny.”

With this unforgettable account of a family’s love and longing, Anna will draw you deeper into a divine goodness that keeps us—beyond all earthly circumstances—safe.

This is a book about facing impossible circumstances and wanting to turn back the clock. It is about the flicker of hope in realizing that in times of heartbreak, God is closer than your own skin. It is about discovering that you’re braver than you think.

I have to admit when I first looked at this book I thought "I don't want to read this - too sad." There's so much sadness in the world right now that I just didn't want to give myself anymore reason to feel down. But the opportunity kept presenting itself so I figured God meant me to read it.

And it was sad. How can a book about a child dying not be sad? But it was real, it was raw and it was important to read. Anna opened herself to us and laid herself bare. Haven't every one of us as mothers second guessed a decision? Haven't we all played the "what if" game?

Jack was a fun loving - but not perfect child. Anna shared his idiosyncrasies with us. There were things even Jack questioned about his personality. But in the end, he was a good brother, son and friend and he was tragically lost.

Anna's struggle to make sense of it all and to keep her faith in the midst of it all is a story that needs to be read. 

Don't miss this one.


My copy was graciously provided by Blogging for Books.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Blue Ribbon Cooking from a Redneck Kitchen

National pie champion, mom, homemaker, and self-proclaimed redneck, Francine Bryson won the hearts of bakers everywhere when she appeared on CBS’s The American Baking Competition and went on to become a finalist on the show. Known for her down-home Southern charm and sass (and for successfully pairing chocolate and peanut butter with bacon), Francine now shares her sought-after recipes and tips in her very first baking book.

I am one of the many whose heart was won by this wonderfully genuine lady. I loved watching Francine compete on The American Baking Competition and was thrilled when this cookbook was released.

And I simply love this book. From the delicious recipes to the stories behind the recipes to the beautifully decorated pages of the book.

Chock full of recipes to satisfy any sweet tooth it's hard to decide which one to make first. Many of these recipes will seem familiar but Francine has added some wonderful twists to the familiar recipes and made them brand new.

Highly recommended. Don't miss this one.

More wonderful information can be found here.


I received this book from Blogging for Books for my honest review.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas

Fourteen-year-old Daniel Kelly is special. Despite his upbringing in working-class Melbourne, he knows that his astonishing ability in the swimming pool has the potential to transform his life, silence the rich boys at the private school to which he has won a sports scholarship, and take him far beyond his neighborhood, possibly to international stardom and an Olympic medal. Everything Danny has ever done, every sacrifice his family has ever made, has been in pursuit of this dream. But what happens when the talent that makes you special fails you? When the goal that you’ve been pursuing for as long as you can remember ends in humiliation and loss?

Twenty years later, Dan is in Scotland, terrified to tell his partner about his past, afraid that revealing what he has done will make him unlovable. When he is called upon to return home to his family, the moment of violence in the wake of his defeat that changed his life forever comes back to him in terrifying detail, and he struggles to believe that he’ll be able to make amends. Haunted by shame, Dan relives the intervening years he spent in prison, where the optimism of his childhood was completely foreign.

Tender, savage, and blazingly brilliant, Barracuda is a novel about dreams and disillusionment, friendship and family, class, identity, and the cost of success. As Daniel loses everything, he learns what it means to be a good person—and what it takes to become one.

This is not my normal style book - but something about the reviews I read made me want to give it a try.

The language is horrendous. The sex is crass, vulgar and frankly there was at least one part that made my skin crawl.

But, if you look past that, the book was wonderful. It was not a page turner - and I can't pin point the exact place in the book where the author "had me" but he did. It was compelling and well written and it made me want to pick up another of Mr. Tsiolkas' books.

Dan was a perfect example of a young, talented child who dreamed of a future using his gift - until the gift failed him.His family was a perfect mixture - the mother who would sacrifice anything for her son, the father who was a bit wary of where this was all leading, the younger brother who idolized him and the younger sister who felt left out and alone.

Then there were the friends - Demet, who he grew up with but left behind when he went to school on a scholarship, Luke, the younger student who adores him and would do anything for him, and the other members of the swim team - but were they his friends? And of course the coach who was sure he had finally found his Olympian. Will he let them down - or will they let him down?

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this book - just remember, there's lots of bad language and quite a bit of sex.

You can go here for more information.


"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."