Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Shalador's Lady by Anne Bishop

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

1. Grab your current read.
2. Open to a random page.
3. Share two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.
4. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!).
5. Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser:
Shalador's Lady: A Black Jewels Novel
She had to get out of here. Her hands shook, her stomach burned, and dinner was nothing but a foul smell in the toilet. She couldn't do this again, couldn't watch this happen again.
She couldn't stand to hurt this much again.
Go. Run. Get away from this place.
Because this time she might lose someone who truly mattered, and it was ripping her heart out.
This time, betrayal might truly kill her. - Shalador's Lady: A Black Jewels Novel by Anne Bishop

What are you reading this week?

Blog Tour: Finding the Light of Jesus by Cindy Tuttle

Finding the Light of JesusBook Details:
Finding the Light of Jesus
By Cindy Tuttle
Genre: Inspirational
Published 2010, Crosslink Publishing
Paperback, 148 pages
ISBN: 9780982621523


Face it; life is full of stress. Whether we must deal with daily mild irritations like spilled milk or traffic jams, or extreme problems like the death of a family member, divorce or job loss, each of these events-as well as those that fall in between these opposite ends of the scale-cause anxiety, worry, or even ill physical health. Finding the Light of Jesus provides reflections and revelations which allow us to step back from our problems, reflect on what is most important in the present moment, and rely on spiritual healing-the Light-to experience inner peace and calm in the midst of trouble.
When I first started to read this book, I realized very quickly how simply written this book is. The first ten chapters read as if I were sitting in a therapy session with the author and she were talking to me. They are written without much emphasis on detail, and seemed to focus largely on how a person feels in regards to stress and depression. Though the author writes extensively on the light of Jesus, she does not quote a single Bible verse, though she attempts to paraphrase a few - without citations. The beginning and end of each of these ten chapters also contain a poem she wrote and calls prayers, though the poetry is badly written and has little resemblance to an actual prayer, in my opinion. Also scattered through the chapters are activities that the author recommends for the reader, such as journaling and answering questions.
The final chapter is actually a collection of prayers and reflections that the reader is supposed to follow over the course of seven days. This is followed by a section of "Conversations With Jesus" that focus on different topics such as anger, jealousy, being overwhelmed, and fear. This is followed by five pages in which she quotes a scripture from the New American Bible, and leaves a blank space for the reader to journal the answers to her questions about the scripture verse. This is followed by more of her prayers and a further 30 days of prayer and reflection.
Overall, the author presents a Jesus that is only concerned about a person's feelings, whom the author seems to believe that everyone has inside of him or her from birth. She further indicates that everyone goes to heaven, and Jesus' strongest quality is being a "light." No mention is made of the basic precepts of Bible-based Christianity, such as sin, salvation, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Instead she writes things that seem to contradict parts of scripture, such as stating that Jesus does not judge us and that we are the "light," as well as what I previously mentioned about everyone going to heaven. In the context of that paragraph, I almost expected the author to write that we are all Jesus. I also noticed  while reading that nowhere does she ever refer to Him as Jesus Christ either. The entire book has a vague New Age feel, as many of the things Tuttle writes mimic the doctrine of a New Age Jesus.
The author, Cindy Tuttle, has a background of working in the mental health industry for more than twenty-five years. Based on what I have read in this book, I have no doubt that she is good at her job and finds great success with her patients, but I do not find this book of the same calibur.

The Cover: The simplicity of the cover is quite beautiful and really illustrates the sense of peace that the author tries to invoke within the text.

First Line: "Do you sometimes feel like you are on a runaway train rapidly heading down a steep hill?"
This opening metaphor certain appeals to my feelings, and I wonder where the author is going from here.

*I received this book free of charge from the publisher for review purposes.*

Sunday, November 28, 2010

2011 Reading Challenge: Outdo Yourself

Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge
This reading challenge is hosted by my friend, The Book Vixen, and the premise is relatively simple to understand. The premise of the Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge is that I aim to read more books in 2011 than I read in 2010.

Based on what I have read in 2010, which is 69 books, I will have to read between 75 and 80 books in 2011 to top that. The level I think that I can handle for this challenge is Out of Breath, which is 6 - 10 more books next year than I have read this year.
1. Keridan's Journey by Michelle Peterson
2. Sense and Sensibility BY Jane Austen
3. Morning in the Burned House by Margaret Atwood
4. Doctor Margaret's Sea Chest by Waheed Rabbani
5. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
6. Beauty and the Werewolf by Mercedes Lackey

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Challenge Completed: Pages Read

This challenge was hosted by Secret Dreamworld of a Bookaholic. I set the goal of reading 20,000 pages for 2010, and I have completed that challenge with time to spare!

With the average book running 300 pages, this was no small feat. Maybe next year I will top that number.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Review: Quatrain by Sharon Shinn

QuatrainBook Details:
By Sharon Shinn
Genre: Fantasy
Published 2009, Penguin Group
Hardback, 369 pages
ISBN: 9780441017584


Four original novellas, all set in the fantastical worlds of national bestselling author Sharon Shinn.
National bestselling author Sharon Shinn's Twelve Houses books have fascinated readers and critics alike with their irresistible blend of fantasy, romance, and adventure. Now in Quatrain, she weaves compelling stories in four of the worlds that readers love in Flight, Blood, Gold and Flame.
This book is four short stories that each take place in a different world of Shinn's creation. I am only familiar with two of those worlds, so I read the corresponding stories first, starting with Flight. This story was interesting as it gave me a peek into the corruption that was occurring at Windy Point with the Archangel Raphael, and how the lesser people viewed the angels at this time. The ending was slightly disappointing, but I understand that Shinn could not cause any major drama regarding Raphael since this story is meant to be a prequel to Archangel (Samaria, Book 1).
The second story I read was Flame, which centered around Senneth, the mystic who wields fire, with appearances by several of the other characters that appear in the Twelve Houses series, starting with Mystic and Rider (The Twelve Houses, Book 1). I enjoyed this story because it gave me an idea of what Senneth did when she was a lone nomad, as well as how the people of Gillengaria reacted when a new mystic was discovering her abilities. I can't imagine being in such a situation and not reacting similarly. This story also shows how Senneth and Tayse first meet and her first thoughts at this meeting, which is intriguing enough that I hope she writes more in the Twelve Houses series.
The third story I read was Gold, based in the world from her book, Summers at Castle Auburn, which I have not read. This story centers around a princess living in the land of Alora for a time, which is strikingly similar to the concepts of the world of Fae, and how she fights to resist the allure. I enjoyed this story so much that I intend to read the book it is based on to get more of the tantalizing story between Orlain and Zara. This was my favorite short story of the book.
I read maybe two pages of the story Blood before I lost interest and shut the book. This story is based on her previous work Heart of Gold, which is a science fiction title. I have very little interest in this genre, and I did not feel compelled to read this particular story, which is not to say that the story was bad. It's just not my cup of tea.

The Cover: My guess is the woman on the cover is supposed to be Senneth from Shinn's most recent series, Twelve Houses, based on the flames at her feet. Unfortunately, this only encompasses one of the four stories in the book - and the last story at that.

First Line: "Finally the rain stopped."
While there is nothing particularly exciting about the opening line to any of the four stories, the promise of Shinn's abilities entice me forward anyways.

Favorite Quote: "I may have a few of my mother's potions left. I think one or two of them might be love spells - should I flavor our meal with those?"

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Quatrain by Sharon Shinn

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

1. Grab your current read.
2. Open to a random page.
3. Share two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.
4. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!).
5. Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser:
I was relieved when Sheba joined us almost immediately in the kitchen, pushing back her sleeves before she went to work. But the small, satisfied smile on her face gave me pause.
Had she found an opportunity to talk to one of the angels? And which one? Had they made an assignation or merely indulged in an exchange of compliments?
I wondered if I should spend the night sleeping on the floor outside of Sheba's room. - pg. 18, Quatrain by Sharon Shinn

What are you reading this week?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Review: Thunderbird Falls by C. E. Murphy

Thunderbird Falls (The Walker Papers, Book 2)Book Details:
Thunderbird Falls (The Walker Papers, Book 2)
By C. E. Murphy
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Published 2006, LUNA Books
Paperback, 409 pages
ISBN: 9780373803033


It's the end of the world…
For all the bodies she's encountering, you'd think beat cop Joanne Walker works in Homicide. But no, Joanne's a reluctant shaman who last saved mankind three months ago—surely she deserves more of a break! Yet, incredibly, "Armageddon, Take Two" is mere days away.
There's not a minute to waste.
Yet when her spirit guide inexplicably disappears, Joanne needs help from other sources. Especially after she accidentally unleashes Lower World demons on Seattle. Damn. With the mother of all showdowns gathering force, it's the worst possible moment for Joanne to realize she should have learned more about controlling her powers. Or to discover she's being lied to…
The second book in the Walker Papers series was more enjoyable than the first one for me, simple because I like Joanne's sense of humor. She pokes fun at herself relentlessly, whether it be in her thoughts or outloud in conversation, which makes her superhuman abilities not so off-putting. At one part she makes the remark that the people who are given the strongest powers usually don't even want them - the universe's way of creating balance. This is a great summary of Joanne's reluctance to be who she is supposed to be. The irony of this book is that reluctance is what she needs most in this book in order to defeat the Big Bad of this book, but she spends most of the book working on acceptance. She has a certain klutz factor in everything she does, and yet she still ends up on top no matter what the situation is.
The lack of romantic interludes I find rather discouraging, since she seems to have a few potential men in her sights but refuses to act on her attractions. With the chemistry building between her and her boss, a lack of activity feels like a loose end left hanging.
Another factor that felt like a loose end was Joanne's search for a spirit animal. While she did the search in the plot, and did come out with one, the ending made it look like she lost her spirit animal, so does she still have one or not? It seems like an awful lot of work to come up empty-handed.
Loose end number three was the outcome of the coven that Joanne joined. Nothing was stated to indicate if she was still a member, or what they intend to do about the events that they played a part in.
I was also rather confused about what the meaning of several of the scenes was, such as her encounter with the big Coyote and her sight-reversal of color. Neither of these, as well as other things, were explained much at all. I feel like I should research what shamanism is before I read anymore of this series, as it does not look like the author is inclined to delve into the details.

The Cover: The vague shamanic references in the picture make an attractive cover, and the drawing must refer to the thunderbird in the plot, which I think is cool.

First Line: "Two words I never thought would go together: Joanne Walker and 6:00 a.m."
The humor of this first line reminds me of the main character's sense of humor and quirkiness and entice me to continue reading.

Favorite Quote: "All kinds of thoughts immediately filled my mind. Whether or not my black shoes, the ones that went best with my dress uniform, were polished, and if I was going to have time to polish them before the funeral. Why exactly it was called a parkway when you drove on it and a driveway when you parked on it. Whether all of this was real or a manifestation of my overactive imagination, in which case, couldn't I at least have Keanu Reeves or Carrie Ann Moss as company?"

Read For: 101 Fantasy Challenge, Support Your Local Library Challenge

Sunday, November 21, 2010

2011 Reading Challenge: Strong Heroine

I read quite a bit of fiction that features a female as the main character, so when I discovered the Strong Heroine Reading Challenge hosted by Jamie at The Book Junkie's Bookshelf, I knew that would be an excellent choice for me to participate in for 2011. To participate in this challenge I must read at least 12 novels that have strong heroines. I will list those titles here as I complete them.

1. Marion Zimmer Badley's Ravens of Avalon by Diana L. Paxson
2. On The Prowl by Patricia Briggs, Eileen Wilks, Karen Chance, and Sunny
3. Coyote Dreams by C. E. Murphy
4. Harvest Moon by Mercedes Lackey, Michelle Sagara, and Cameron Haley
5. Redemption by Laurel Dewey
6. Walking Dead by C. E. Murphy
7. River Marked by Patricia Briggs
8. Fantasy by Christine Feehan, Sabrina Jeffries, Emma Holly, and Elda Minger
9. Awakened by P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast
10. Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead
11. Darkest Mercy by Melissa Marr
12. Pale Demon by Kim Harrison

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Review: Letters to Ethan by Tom McQueen

Letters to Ethan: A Grandfather's Legacy of Life & LoveBook Details:
Letters to Ethan: A Grandfather's Legacy of Life & Love
By Tom McQueen
Genre: Inspirational
Published 2010, Seraphina Press
Paperback, 152 pages
ISBN: 9780984196593


Endorsed by ESPN’s Dick Vitale and legendary coach Lou Holtz with a forward by Rudy Ruettiger of the classic film “Rudy,” “Letters to Ethan” is a compilation of letters that McQueen wrote to his young grandson regarding a variety of life lessons from love and friendship to death and conflict. Wishing his own grandparent’s had left behind a remnant of their lives and thoughts, McQueen began writing letters to his son and has continued the tradition with notes to his grandson. In conjunction with “Letters to Ethan,” McQueen has helped launch the Legacy Nation campaign, a project where parents and grandparents can upload their own letters to their children on the campaign website, some of which he will compile for a second book.
Right from the beginning, I found the seriousness to which the author, Tom McQueen, approaches his role as a grandfather to his grandson, Ethan, as both endearing and worthy of my respect. What he is attempting to do with the letters found in this book is a commendable goal that not many grandparents may go through the trouble to achieve. Each "chapter" of the book is actually a four-to-six page letter and headed by a quotation that applies to the topic of the letter. Each of the letters address a specific topic, such as Heroism, Risk, Integrity, Love, and Imagination, to name a few. Some of the letters also include excerpts from other sources that McQueen finds wisdom in, such as poetry or short stories like the famous story "Footprints in the Sand." Many of the letters make references to sports and sports imagery, such as citing Wayne Gretsky's accomplishments, which is certainly appropriate for most boys. The letters are also peppered with poignant memories of McQueen's and bits of history, such as the story of George Washington Carver.
It becomes apparent in the first letter that this book has a decidedly Roman Catholic slant, and many of the letters include Catholic doctrine teachings. If the reader does not prescribe to Roman Catholicism, this can be a major obstacle to enjoying this book. The other thing that bugs me throughout the text is that I can not figure out at what age the author intended his grandson to read these letters. Some of the topics are rather mature, and they would not be appropriate for a boy that is too young to receive the advice given in the letter, no matter how well-meaning it is. I also could not decipher if McQueen's grandson, Ethan, was supposed to read these letters while his grandfather was still alive or if they were meant for after he passed - again, this would make sense if the appropriate age were given for each letter.
If I ignore the obvious bias in the letters, I found much of the advice given to be relevant and useful wisdom for a young man - or woman - attaining to adulthood.

The Cover: I think the cover is quite appropriate for the content of the book - a grandfather with his grandson.

First Line: "If you could read just one book with the potential to positively impact the lives of your children and grandchildren, this is the book."
This is certainly a promising introduction to the book, and it makes me hopeful and optimistic that I will enjoy the book.

*I received this book free of charge from the publisher for review purposes.*

Friday, November 19, 2010

Blog Hopping and Giving Thanks

It's Friday, which means the Book Blogger Hop at Crazy For Books. So welcome to all of my new visitors and followers, take a look around and enjoy your stay. Be sure to check out the really cool giveaway I've entered, the most recent book banning scandal, and my latest book review.

"Since Thanksgiving is coming up next week, let's use this week's Hop to share what we are most thankful for and what our holiday traditions are!"

My Answer: Well technically in Canada, Thanksgiving has come and gone, but since I am  from the U.S.A., I kind of recognize it twice a year. My family usually plans a big turkey supper with my best friend's family, and we always fight over who gets to cook the turkey! What I am most thankful for this year is the provision of God and how, no matter how tight things can get, God provides for our needs just in the nick of time.

These are the blogs I have discovered through the Hop:
1. Nocturnal Bites
2. The Book Frog
3. Brooke's Box of Books
4. A Tapestry of Words
5. Clover Hill Book Reviews

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Chronicles Books $500 Giveaway

Chronicles Books is hosting a "Haul-iday Giveaway" in which a blogger posts a list of up to $500 in books that he or she would like to "haul in," and then she will be entered into a drawing in which one blogger and one person that comments on the winning list of books will each win the list of $500 in books from Chronicles Books! Let's review:

For Bloggers: Post a list of Chronicle books valued at up to $500 that you'd like to win

For Everyone Else: Comment on a blogger's posted list

One Blogger and One Commenter wins the list! Go to Chronicles Books Happy Haul-idays page for a change to enter! And if you like my list, feel free to comment right here, too!

My Chronicles Books Wish List

Dante's Divine Comedy: Boxed Set by Sandow Birk and Marcus Sanders $100.00

Aesop's Fables: A Classic Illustrated Edition by Russell Ash and Bernard Higton $19.99

Michael Chiarello's Bottega by Michael Chiarello $40.00

Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo $50.00

Flour:Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery and Cafe by Joanne Chang, Christie Matheson, Keller and Keller $35.00

Fast Breads: 50 Recipes for Easy, Delicious Bread by Elinor Klivans and Susie Cushner $19.95

Deep Dark Chocolate: Decadent Recipes for the Serious Chocolate Lover by Sara Perry and France Ruffenach $18.95

Field Guide to Meat: How to Identify, Select, and Prepare Virtually Every Meat, Poultry, and Game Cut by Aliza Green $15.95

The Big Book of Breakfast: Serious Comfort Food for Any Time of the Day by Maryana Vollstedt $19.95

The Big Book of Casseroles: 250 Recipes for Serious Comfort Food by Maryana Vollstedt $19.95

Under the Tuscan Sun 2011 Engagement Calendar $15.99

Breaking Bounds 2011 Wall Calendar $13.99

Lotta Jansdotter File Collection $16.95

This Book Belongs To: 30 Pages of Bookplates and Stickers for the Book Lover by Grady McFerrin $10.95

Bon Appetit Recipe Binder $24.95

Ran Out of Ideas. Now What? Journal by Yulia Brodskaya $9.95

Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy $22.95

Il Fornaio Baking Book: Sweet and Savory Recipes from the Italian Kitchen by Franco Galli $24.95

Writer's Workshop in a Book: The Squaw Valley Community of Writers on the Art of Fiction by Richard Ford, Alan Cheuse, and Lisa Alvarez $14.95

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Review: Sixteen Brides by Stephanie Grace Whitson

Sixteen BridesBook Details:
Sixteen Brides
By Stephanie Grace Whitson
Genre: Christian Fiction
Published 2010, Bethany House
Paperback, 350 pages
ISBN: 9780764205132


Sixteen Civil War widows living in St. Louis respond to a series of meetings conducted by a land speculator who lures them west by promising "prime homesteads" in a "booming community." Unbeknownst to them, the speculator's true motive is to find an excuse to bring women to the fledging community of Plum Grove, Nebraska, in hopes they will accept marriage proposals shortly after their arrival! Sparks fly when these unsuspecting widows meet the men who are waiting for them. These women are going to need all the courage and faith they can muster to survive these unwanted circumstances--especially when they begin to discover that none of them is exactly who she appears to be.
I had a hard time getting into this book as the number of characters created chaos in the plot and point-of-view for the first few chapters. I could not keep track of who I was supposed to be following, and I felt like I needed a chart to keep them all straight in my head as I read. I kept wanting to ask the author, "Are 16 women really necessary?"
Luckily, that number was cut by more than half when the train stops in Plum Grove, Nebraska, leaving behind the important characters and sending the expendible ones away - how convenient. This is where I feel that the plot actually begins, as the women carve out lives for themselves, even as they experience character growth and rejuvenation. The men are also introduced at this point, and I found them to be more imaginative and unique than the females in the book. The dynamics between Michael Ransom and Lucas Gray, cousins, are very interesting, as Whitson only reveals a bit at a time about their relationship with each other. I wished that more had been written about Jeb Cooper, as the paradox that he lives daily was very entertaining to read.
The background information and historical details were interesting, as I knew little before reading this book about frontier towns and the founding and running of a homestead. I find it ironic that although all of the women are strongly opposed to being hitched to a man again, given that they all claim to be widows, romance seems to be necessary to each of their character developments. The romance was the most predictable aspect of the novel, with almost every woman gravitating noticeably to a man.
The idea that war widows were shipped out to the frontier as prospective brides made for excellent novel potential, but I felt the idea fell a bit short, as the man responsible in the book for these sixteen women was not followed in point-of-view passed his departure from Plum Grove. Neither was much said about the other women that went on to Cayote with him. I would have liked to be a fly on the wall at those women's proposals from strangers and hear their rationale behind making such a choice to be delivered and bid on like so many heads of cattle.

The Cover: I like this cover as it gives me an idea of the time period from the fashion, plus the outfits match the descriptions of several of the ladies that eventually take centerstage in the plot.

First Line: As the carriage pulled away from Union Station, Caroline Jamison almost panicked and called out to the driver, "Wait! Don't go! I've changed by mind! Take me home!"
This is certainly an intriguing beginning to this book, more than enough to keep me reading.

Favorite Quote: "Job convinced me that losing my hand wasn’t punishment for something I’d done. It also convinced me that I’ll never- this side of eternity- have answers to all my questions, but that God doesn’t mind my asking them...”

Read For: Pages Read Challenge

*I received this book free of charge from the publisher for review purposes.*

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Thunderbird Falls by C. E. Murphy

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

1. Grab your current read.
2. Open to a random page.
3. Share two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.
4. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!).
5. Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser:
Thunderbird Falls (The Walker Papers, Book 2)
I didn't know how I got to the hospital. I didn't know if I even hung up the phone. All I could hear was my heartbeat and the memory of the day I'd met Gary, when a human banshee called Marie told us both that Gary wasn't going to die anytime soon. Soon. What was soon? Was six months soon? It seemed soon to me. How far in advance had her ability to see death coming worked? She hadn't said, and it was much too late to ask her. I remembered her body, lying across her living room floor, the heart torn out, and I wondered if six months was too soon. - pg. 136, Thunderbird Falls (The Walker Papers, Book 2) by C. E. Murphy

What are you reading this week?

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