Friday, November 30, 2012

Chocolate-Covered Baloney: Confessions of April Grace by K.D. McCrite

April Grace and her sister Myra Sue do not get along. Especially now that April knows that Myra has a secret. Myra has been sneaking out to the mailbox, writing mysterious letters in her room(pretending to be doing homework), and being cranky with everyone around her. Her family all chalk it up to "just a stage she's going through," but April thinks there is something more to it.

When a long-lost relative shows up unannounced things go from bad to worse. Now April and Myra have to share a room again. The girls are fighting more than ever and things in their home are topsy-turvy. And what about the mysterious hang-up phone calls?

April is as feisty and curious as ever which makes for some entertaining episodes in the story. Honest to a fault she does manage to bite her tongue to keep from saying even more than she already does. When the pastor of their church delivers a sermon on "change is coming" April tunes out. She feels that their family has had enough change to last her a lifetime.

Chocolate-Covered Baloney was an entertaining read. Once again the antics of April Grace and the things that come out of her mouth crack me up. Even though she and her sister fight constantly you can tell that April still has a loyalty to family and love and concern for them. Returning characters included Isabel, Grandma(and her multiple boyfriends), April's parents and the Freebirds. And introduced a new unexpected, and unwanted family member. April's parents have never thrown anyone out of their house before, but this guest may exceed that generosity. A fun book and I look forward to the next installment of the April Grace confessions.

Here's my review of Cliques, Hicks and Ugly Sticks the second book in the series.

Thanks to BookSneeze for my copy of Chocolate-Covered Baloney for my honest review.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Tutor's Daughter by Julie Klassen

Mr. Smallwood and his daughter Emma run a tutoring school for boys. Over the years Emma has taken over a lot of the teaching. When Emma's mother passes away her father goes into mourning and doesn't seem to be his old self. When he is offered a tutoring job for two boys he jumps at the chance for a change and to move on with his life. Emma is not very happy about the job as two of the older boys in the Weston family were students of theirs in former years. The oldest boy, Henry tormented Emma continuously.

When Mr. Smallwood and Emma arrive at the Weston estate they aren't greeted as expected guests. It isn't long before Emma is hearing strange noises in the night and secrets are abounding among the Weston family.

Emma is confused about her feelings toward the Weston men. Philip Weston is her friend. He was always nice to Emma when he was in school with her father. Henry Weston always teased Emma and played practical jokes on her. Emma expects Henry to still act as his old self. Especially when strange things start happening to Emma.  The more Emma gets to know the "new" Henry the more her feelings for him begin to change. Emma knows though that Mrs. Weston would never approve of her and Henry getting married. She insists that Henry and Philip and their two younger brothers marry more advantageously. When events occur that put Emma in danger she and her father return home and Emma resolves to forget her feelings for Henry.

The Tutor's Daughter reminded me a bit of a Gothic novel along the lines of Jane Eyre, with the big home and the mysterious noises in the part of the house nobody is allowed to visit, and the family secrets. I really enjoyed it and look forward to reading more Julie Klassen novels. I liked the mystery and the romance in The Tutor's Daughter along with some suspense.

Available for purchase January 1, 2013. I received my copy for review from NetGalley and Baker Publishing Group. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Matchmakers of Butternut Creek by Jane Myers Perrine

This is the second book in the series. I didn’t read the first book, but don’t think it was necessary to keep up with the story in the second book. 

The Widows have been working to find a wife for Pastor Adam. They believe they have found the right woman in Gussie Milton. Adam would love to court Gussie, but Gussie has a traumatic event in her life that she has refused to deal with. For 13 years Gussie has been able to keep men at arm’s length, but she is finding that Adam is the first man that she would really like to get close to and that scares her to death. 

Although Pastor Adam and Gussie’s story are the main thrust of the novel there are other people in Butternut Creek that also captured my attention. Ouida and George Kowalski, neighbors to Adam, are having some marital issues. When George is forced out of his staid routine will it strengthen or crumble their marriage? 

Hector and his sister Janey are living with Adam while their father is in prison. Adam loves these two and tries his best to bring Janey out of her shell and be a father figure for Hector. 

Then there are The Widows! Oh my, they are a hoot! Especially “The Pillar” Miss Birdie, When she’s on the scene she’s sure to bring a smile! Adam would like the Widows to invite Blossom Brown to join their group. Blossom isn’t technically a widow though. Her husband has left her and she is on her own. Miss Birdie isn’t too happy at the idea of inviting this young woman to be a widow, but soon grudgingly finds that Blossom does add to their group. 

For the most part I enjoyed The Matchmakers of Butternut Creek. I found the events of small town life to be entertaining. I did have some issues with a few things. The author chose to make her characters more “real” by throwing in a curse word here and there. Even though Adam’s character was a pastor it almost seemed like he would have been willing to hop into bed with Gussie before marriage except for the fact that “pastor’s are held to a higher moral code” than others. So for the most part I enjoyed The Matchmakers of Butternut Creek and found the book entertaining. It brought a smile to my face several times and kept me turning the pages to see if the Widows’ plots and schemes to marry the pastor off would work. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Weekend Report

This is hosted by Melanie at Christian Bookshelf Reviews. It is a chance to recap what we have read through the week. Check Melanie's out on her blog!


Along the lines of The Taming of the Shrew, Courting Cate was a pretty good story.


Bitter Blood is the 13th book in the Morganville Vampires series. I think there are 15 books contracted with an option for more. As much as I enjoy the series I think I'm ready for everyone to have their Happily Ever After and be done.


 It's pretty good so far. A bit of mystery going on which I like. I also love the cover! I'm reading this on my Kindle downloaded from NetGalley so I don't get to enjoy the beauty of the cover as I read. It is pretty though isn't it?


Vanished, Shattered and Fatherless were all from NetGalley. Chocolate-Covered Baloney was from Booksneeze. I bought You Don't Know Me off of Amazon. I'm looking forward to reading each of these books. I haven't been in the reading mood lately so I'm hoping with deadlines for most of these that I'll get busy!

How about you? Have you read any good books lately? Would love to hear about them.

Have a great Thanksgiving week!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Bitter Blood by Rachel Caine

The Draug have been defeated and now there is nothing that the vampires fear. A whole new set of rules are now in effect for Morganville. Everyone must carry an ID and vampires can request to hunt humans. Needless to say this does not go over well with the humans of Morganville. Amelie no longer seeks peace between the vampires and humans. Since Michael and Eve have married the people in the Glass house are no longer protected. In fact there seems to be a target out for all of them from both humans and vampires.

Things are always strange in Morganville, but now more than ever. Amelie and Oliver now seem to be on the same side, in fact much more intimate than enemies. Hannah Moses has been removed from being the mayor. Monica is campaigning to become mayor and Shane and Claire are helping her. Myrnin seems to have disappeared. And as always is the case in Morganville things go from bad to worse very quickly.

Have you ever read a book where it becomes so stressful you have to put it down for a bit? Well that is the way I felt with Bitter Blood! I would get so stressed out over something happening that I would have to put the book down, but then I had to know what was going to happen so I would have to pick it right back up again! You would think this being the 13th book in the series that things would get a little boring or repetitive, but I have found that to not be the case. While yes, Morganville and Claire, Shane, Michael and Eve always seem to be battling one crises after another there is always enough difference and freshness to keep the reader entertained and coming back for more.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Courting Cate by Leslie Gould

Cate lives in the Amish community of Lancaster. She works for her father's business and she loves to read. Cate has raised her sister Betsy from the day she was born and has sacrificed everything for her.  Cate's father wants to have grandchildren, he wants Cate to be married and settled well within the community. Cate has no prospects of a future marriage because of her sharp tongue and independent ways. The girls' father has decided that Betsy cannot go to any of the young adult activities unless Cate also goes with her. Betsy also cannot be courted until Cate is married.  Betsy has her heart set on Levi but their father's new edict may ruin her chances with him unless she can find a way to get Cate married soon.

Pete comes from New York. He is instantly attracted to Cate, but she keeps pushing him away with her distrust. Cate has been hurt by boys before and cannot understand how Pete could truly find her attractive.

Desperate to marry Levi, Betsy encourages and coerces Cate into allowing Pete to court her. When one misunderstanding after another occurs Betsy sees her chances of getting married soon dwindle away. In order to avert scandal and humiliation for her family Cate is forced into a marriage of convenience. Will Cate's heart soften or will she become an old shrew like she perceives her mother-in-law to be?

While it has been years since I have read Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew I definitely saw a comparison in Courting Cate.Jilted and gossiped about I could see how Cate's character could turn into a bitter and sharp-tongued woman. While I got frustrated at Cate's character several times(not willing to listen when a misunderstanding arose), I enjoyed watching her character develop into a more mature and softer human being. I'd definitely be willing to read another book in the series if one were to be written.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Dangerous Stage by Camy Tang

George is a contestant on a competitive TV show. His 13 year old daughter Hannah is a computer hacker. When Hannah hacks into the shows computers and finds out the show is being rigged both she and George find themselves in danger.

Tessa Lancaster is hired to protect George and Hannah while investigating who is behind the rigging of the show. Tessa hasn't spoken to Charles(her lawyer) for over a year. Not since she found out that he was the one that recommended her stay in prison be two years longer, and not allow her to attend her favorite aunts funeral. When she finds her clients in need of Charles' lawyer expertise she knows that there are going to be awkward days ahead. She is determined to fuel her ire towards Charles even when feelings of attraction arise between them.

When Tessa's past once again threatens to cross with her present she must be careful with both the FBI now investigating the case and her yakuza uncle who just may be in the thick of the talent show rigging.

You know a book is going to be good when it starts out with an awesome car chase and a woman kicking some bad-guy butt! This is the second book in the Protection For Hire series and it was just as exciting and nail-biting as the first one. There was also humor intertwined throughout the story and one laugh-out-loud-knee-slapping moment that still has me chuckling! A Dangerous Stage also delves into the characters spiritual feelings. Charles struggles with his need to share about his faith and Tessa struggles with her need to forgive. Both make Camy Tang's characters seem more true to life. I'm looking forward to the next book in The Protection for Hire series. I'm thinking Tessa has some serious unresolved childhood issues that are going to rear up in the next book! Can't wait!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Making Waves by Lorna Seilstad

Marguerite Westing is being courted by one of the most boring men she has ever met. Roger Gordon is the man that her mother expects her to marry. But Marguerite has no desire to marry Roger. When her family go to vacation at Lake Manawa for the summer Marguerite hopes for a reprieve from Roger's attentions.

When Marguerite meets Trip Andrews and finds that he owns a sailboat she is determined to get a ride on it. When she and her father sail across the lake with Trip and his crew Marguerite is hooked. She loves to sail. One problem though, nobody will teach a woman how to sail. Marguerite comes up with a plan to learn by having her brother take lessons from Trip as she "supervises" the lessons. One problem though, she can't swim. Which happens to be one of the criteria Trip has for taking them out on his sailboat. Marguerite tells him she can, after all he didn't ask her how well she could swim.

The more time that Marguerite spends in Trips company the more she realizes that she cannot marry Roger. But when her father manages to gamble away their entire fortune Marguerite is forced to accept his proposal in order to save her family from ruin. Expecting her daddy to rescue her at any time Marguerite underestimates the lengths to which Roger will go to make her his own.

I really enjoyed Making Waves! Marguerite's character is very entertaining. She's full of adventure and lively and manages to get herself into all sorts of predicaments. Held back by the confines and restraints put on women in the 1800's, Marguerite is a trial to her poor mother who just wants to see her married well. It was fun to see how Marguerite would work around her next obstacle. A fun read and I am looking forward to continuing reading the next book in the Lake Manawa summers series.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Wish You Were Eyre by Heather Vogel Frederick

This year the Mother-Daughter Book Club will be reading Jane Eyre. Not everything always goes smoothly for the girls, but they at least have their friends in the book club to help them through the storms of life. When Sophie Fairfax comes to live with the Wong's for a year jealousy flairs. The girls band together to pull off a prank that will put Sophie in her place, but will it backfire on them?

Emma is feeling that her boyfriend Stewart is paying too much attention to Sophie. When they both are enlisted to help Mrs. Wong campaign for mayor their time together is limited and both begin to feel the strain.

Jess has a sub in her calculus class who accuses her of cheating. At risk is her scholarship and her position as a soloist in her Madrigirls singing group.

Cassidy is not sure about her relationship with Zach. She likes him, in fact he is like her best friend, but she is not sure that she wants him as a boyfriend. As always Cassidy is the one to come up with the plan for Sophie's embarrassment.

Megan is feeling the most hurt by Sophie's arrival. Sophie seems to gain the attention of everyone she meets. Megan's mom and grandmother are among Sophie's fans. Even Megan's new kitten seems to like Sophie better than Megan! Megan is looking forward to her trip to Paris with Gigi. She can't wait to visit the fashion shows and see all of the sites of France.

Becca has been working at Gigi's tea house to help her family with their finances while her father is out of work. Becca wonders if there is a Mr. Rochester "out there" for her somewhere. 

I've come to love all of these girls! They and their mothers make me laugh. Sadly this is the last book in The Mother-Daughter Book Club series. I have to say that if it had to be the end of the series I am quite happy with the wrap-up. Although I was kind of hoping that the author would carry the series through the girls' senior year. But alas, that is not to be! I've enjoyed each book in the series. I have loved reading each girls story and how they have grown up throughout the series. I found the writing refreshing in each book without any need for adding sexual situations or language to taint the quality of the stories. I had borrowed the first few books from the library, but went ahead and bought all of them last year so that some day I can pass them on to my grand-daughters. The Mother-Daughter Book Club is one of my favorite series and I will miss them very much.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Isle of Shadows by Tracy L. Higley

Tessa's life is not her own. She has been trained as a hetaera(a courtesan) and is now owned by Glaucus, a man that has made her life miserable for the past 10 years. But Tessa's life is about to be changed. When Glaucus is found dead Tessa allows her heart to hope for a brief moment that she will be free. Putting off the inevitable, Tessa persuades a young slave and Simeon, Glaucus's head servant to help her dispose of Glaucus's body. She also convinces them to keep Glaucus's death a secret until she can find a way to escape Rhodes and being owned by another man. 

Tessa has wrapped her emotions deep inside and become like a stone. Niko's and Simeon try to touch the heart of the woman they hope is still buried deep within. In the meantime someone is plotting an assassination to further his own political aspirations. Tessa is hoping to uncover the plot and still be able to free herself before Glaucus's death is discovered and she is handed over to the next highest bidder.

Isle of Shadows was formerly called Shadow of Colossus and is one of the Seven Wonders books. I really enjoyed reading Isle of Shadows. Set in a time period before Christ on the island of Rhodes where gods and goddesses are worshiped Tessa finds faith and hope in the One True God that her new-found Jewish friends share with her. A bit of romance, some suspense and a natural disaster make Isle of Shadows a very memorable read. I've read two other books in the Seven Wonders series:

Guardian of the Flame
Pompeii: City on Fire