Mailbox Monday

December host: Suko’s Notebook

Where'd You Go, BernadetteSynopsis: Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom. 
Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle–and people in general–has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic. 
To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence–creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.  Purchased with a Christmas gift card from my godson 🙂

little black dressSynopsis: Two sisters whose lives seemed forever intertwined are torn apart when a magical little black dress gives each one a glimpse of an unavoidable future.

Antonia Ashton has worked hard to build a thriving career and a committed relationship, but she realizes her life has gone off-track. Forced to return home to Blue Hills when her mother, Evie, suffers a massive stroke, Toni finds the old Victorian where she grew up as crammed full of secrets as it is with clutter. Now she must put her mother’s house in order—and uncover long-buried truths about Evie and her aunt, Anna, who vanished fifty years earlier on the eve of her wedding. By shedding light on the past, Toni illuminates her own mistakes and learns the most unexpected things about love, magic, and a little black dress with the power to break hearts…and mend them. I bought it.

What was in your mailbox?

Sunday Post

IMG_1298We had a wonderful Christmas celebration last week. My sister and her family hosted the annual family party on Christmas. I went to a Christmas concert with another sister where we heard beautiful music performed by a choir that included a dear friend. Christmas Eve was spent with my husband’s family. It was nice to see so many relatives and friends.

Granddaughter Grace gave us the adorable ornament in the picture.

Blog news:

Jodi Thomas stopped by to tell us about her newest book in the Harmony series.

Review of Vanity Fare: A Novel of Lattes, Literature, and Love by Megan Caldwell.

Happy New Year!

Guest Post by Jodi Thomas

Today I’m happy to welcome author Jodi Thomas to tell us about her newest book in the Harmony series. This is one of my favorite series so I can’t wait to read CHANCE OF A LIFETIME.

chance of a lifetimeWelcome to my town, Harmony, Texas.  I thought readers might like to start the new year with a book set in a small town called CHANCE OF A LIFETIME.  Once in a while everything comes together in a story that makes it fun to write. I think you’ll love the visit where secrets whisper of old love affairs and kindness to others warms your heart.

I wanted to write a deep love story about two people who had been friends in childhood and lost each other one night because of an attack.  She was hurt and he felt guilty for not being there to help.  When Emily Tomlinson sees Tannon Parker ten years later, they don’t know how to mend the fences to find one another again.  I wanted to write a very tender love story about an attraction far deeper than physical, a love that went all the way to their hearts.

Writing the story of Harmony in CHANCE OF A LIFETIME has been a pure joy for me.  I grew up in a small town and understand how the people’s life stories blend together and how everyone bands together when trouble comes.  So come along with me this cold night on an adventure that will make you smile and keep you reading long into the night.

Jodi Thomas

Jodi Thomas is the NY Times and USA Today bestselling author of 35 novels and 11 short story collections. A RITA winning author,1028_jodibio Jodi currently serves as the Writer in Residence at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas.



Release Date: December 31, 2012


Amazon  Barnes and Noble  IndieBound

Vanity Fare: A Novel of Lattes, Literature, and Love by Megan Caldwell

Vanity Fare

Synopsis: Molly Hagan is overwhelmed. Her husband left her for a younger, blonder woman, her six year-old son is questioning her authority, and now, so is she. In order to pay her Brooklyn rent and keep her son supplied with Pokemon and Legos – not to mention food and clothing – she has to get a job. Fast.

So when an old friend offers Molly a copywriting position at a new bakery, finding romance is just about the last thing on her mind. But the sexy British pastry chef who’s heading up the bakery has other thoughts. And so does Molly when she meets the chef’s intimidating business partner – who also happens to have a secret that might prevent Molly from getting her own Happily Ever After.

My brief take: I was thoroughly entertained by Megan Caldwell’s modern day take on a historical romance. It was filled with a few possible heroes and a heroine who is coping with the end of her marriage and the need to make a new life for herself and her young son.

Molly, our heroine, has serious self-esteem issues to work through – which she does with the help of her therapist. That’s a good thing because Molly soon finds herself dealing with two rather intimidating ‘heroes’ as well as her newly penniless mother. Oh my!

Caldwell kept me turning the pages and I finished Vanity Fare in a few hours. I really liked it and will be watching for her next book. Recommended.

PS There are recipes 🙂

Title: Vanity Fare: A Novel of Lattes, Literature, and Love

Author: Megan Caldwell

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Published: December 2012 – Wm. Morrow  Paperback: 416 pages

Source: I received an arc from the publisher via the Library Thing Early Reviewers program. I was not compensated for my review.

Mailbox Monday

December host:

Suko’s Notebook

From Nottin Hill...Synopsis: Scarlett O’Brien is in love . . . with the movies. Utterly hooked on Hugh Grant, crazy about Richard Curtis, dying with lust for Johnny Depp, Scarlett spends her days with her head in the clouds and her nights with her hand in a huge tub of popcorn. Which is not exactly what her sensible, DIY-obsessed fiancé David has in mind for their future. So when Scarlett has the chance to house-sit an impossibly grand mansion in Notting Hill – the setting of one of her all-time favourite movies – she jumps at the chance to live out her film fantasies one last time. It’s just a shame that her new neighbour Sean is so irritating and so irritatingly handsome, too. As a chaotic comedy of her very own erupts around Scarlett, she begins to realise there’s more to life than seating plans and putting up shelves. What sort of happy ending does she really want? Will it be a case of Runaway Bride or Happily Ever After? The big white wedding looms, and Scarlett is running out of time to decide. This was a Kindle freebie.

a wallflower christmas (audio)Synopsis: It’s Christmastime in London and Rafe Bowman has arrived from America for his arranged meeting with Natalie Blandford, the very proper and beautiful daughter of Lady and Lord Blandford. His chiseled good looks and imposing physique are sure to impress the lady-in-waiting, and if it weren’t for his shocking American ways and wild reputation, her hand would already be guaranteed. Before the courtship can begin, Rafe realizes he must learn the rules of London society. But when four former Wallfowers try their hand at matchmaking, no one knows what will happen. And winning a bride turns out to be more complicated than Rafe Bowman anticipated, especially for a man accustomed to getting anything he wants. However, Christmas works in the most unexpected ways, changing a cynic to a romantic and inspiring passion in the most timid of hearts. (audiobook)

belong to meFrom the synopsis: Marisa de los Santos’s literary talents shine in the complex interactions she creates between these three women. She deftly explores the life-altering roller coaster of emotions Piper faces as she cares for two households, her own and that of her cancer-stricken best friend, Elizabeth. Skillfully, de los Santos creates an enigmatic and beguiling character in Lake, who draws Cornelia closer even as she harbors a shocking secret. And from the first page until the exhilarating conclusion, de los Santos engages readers with Cornelia, who, while trying to adapt to her new surroundings, must remain true to herself. As their individual stories unfold, the women become entangled in a web of trust, betrayal, love, and loss that challenges them in ways they never imagined, and that ultimately teaches them what it means for one human being to belong to another. I own a print copy but when the eBook was on sale last week I picked it up. Lately it’s so much easier to read if I can enlarge the print just a bit 😉

What was in your mailbox?

Sunday Post


Blog news:

Only one review last week: Sunrise on Cedar Key by Terri DuLong.

The folks at Blue Dot Literary wrote to say that Allen Wyler’s Dead End Deal, (along with Wyler’s other books Dead Ringer and Dead Wrong) have just been put on a special Holiday Season Sale for just $1.99. The promo will be going on until January 7th. You can purchase them at the following links (I’m not an affiliate of either): Kindle   Nook

Merry Christmas!


Sunrise on Cedar Key by Terri DuLong

Cedar Key #3

Synopsis:  (Publisher) For the second time in ten years, Grace Stone is starting over on Cedar Key. Grace first moved to the serene island to escape a disastrous relationship. Now a visit with her Aunt Maude is interrupted by unwelcome news: Grace’s apartment and coffee shop have been destroyed by fire.

Grace is devastated, yet ever-practical Maude has a plan. While she helps Grace resettle, Maude even has a business venture in mind—weekend knitting retreats where women can craft, chat, and support one another.

But other surprises await, including the return of Grace’s estranged sister, and a tentative romance with the local bookstore owner. Knitting together her past and future will mean untangling the painful threads Grace left behind. But the result could be a vibrant new life—and the courage to live it fully. . .

My take:  Oh how I love my visits to Cedar Key, Florida. Terri DuLong has made this actual location her fictional paradise and populated it with people I’d like to call friends and neighbors.

Sunrise at Cedar Key is the perfect title. The theme of new beginnings and fresh starts is felt throughout the novel. Grace is starting over in a new home, a new business and, quite possibly, a new love. Chloe, Grace’s sister, arrives in Cedar Key looking for a place to regroup after her marriage falls apart. She and Grace have been estranged for years (Chloe’s choice) so there are amends to be made if they are to be a family. Suellen, Grace’s life-long friend, comes to Cedar Key for a new job after losing her old one when her boss passed away. So everyone is on the start of a new direction.

I enjoyed everything about this novel: Terri DuLong’s characters, the plot, and especially how everything wrapped up at the end. I’m glad I have the next in the series on the shelf because I can’t wait to get back to Cedar Key!

Title:  Sunrise on Cedar Key – #3 Cedar Key series

Author:  Terri DuLong

Genre:  Fiction

Published:  November 2011 – Kensington

Source:  Many thanks to my friend Kaye for passing her copy on to me!

Mailbox Monday

December host:

Suko’s Notebook

Christmas on Mimosa LaneSynopsis: Anna DeStefano presents a touching Christmas story about love, loss, and healing—and the joys of coming home.
A childhood spent on the streets leaves Mallory Phillips longing for a normal life and a perfect Christmas. Now an elementary school nurse in Chandlerville, Georgia, Mallory’s dream to blend into the picturesque community isn’t working out. She’s once more living a loner’s existence. Then an emotionally fragile seven-year-old appears in her living room in the middle of the night, and Mallory’s isolated world is turned upside down.
This is Polly Lombard’s first Christmas without her mother, and she won’t utter a word to anyone—except Mallory. She believes Mallory holds the key to helping her father overcome his sadness. Despite Pete Lombard’s lingering grief over his wife’s death and concern for his daughter, his resistance to their mysterious neighbor crumbles as he spends more time with Mallory and falls for her amazing heart. But when her past returns haunt her, is Mallory strong enough to keep the Lombard family in her life? And can the spirit of Christmas heal these broken souls and bring them all the joyous, loving holiday they deserve?

5 Golden RingsMy thanks to author Sophie Barnes for the gift of Five Golden Rings!

Synopsis:  The holidays are a time for wishes, magic and, of course, love. Celebrate the season with this delightful collection of Christmas tales. What better way for Connor Talbot, Earl of Redfirn, to spend the holidays than convincing Leonora Compton that the only match she needs to make is with him!

The Duke of Ashton has had three years to plan for his perfect Christmas present—the Lady Eleanor Fitzsimmons as his wife. Now, all he has to do is convince the reluctant lady …

Phin Baldwin does not believe in Christmas magic … until the clever and beautiful Ginny Overton gets it into her head to show him how wonderful it can be when wishes come true.

Just returned from the Crusades, marriage is the last thing on Sir Caerwyn’s mind. But will he be able to resist Lady Nia, the thief of his boyhood heart, when she tempts him yet again?

Responsible Ethan Weatherstone is determined to save Penelope Rutledge—and her reputation—from her silly scheme, but can he save himself from the temptation of her lips?

willful wifeI won How to Tame a Willful Wife by Christy English. Thanks to Sourcebooks and Linda at Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell for hosting the giveaway!

“It’s a duel of wit and wills in this charming retelling of The Taming of the Shrew. But the question is…who’s taming whom?”

Weekend Cooking – Cinnamon Sugar Cookies

IMG_1276I spent yesterday, a rainy Saturday, with two of my sisters baking a boatload of Christmas cookies. We came prepared with our dough ready to be baked. Even with that timesaver we baked from 9am to 5pm. I have a newfound respect for professional bakers!! My neck and back were sore and by the time  I arrived home I was ready to call it a day. But it was worth it because my baking is pretty much done. And I’d spent a fun day with my sisters. And Abby the wonder dog 🙂

The cookie I made was a new-to-me recipe. I’d intended to make shortbread Cookie Bookcookies but found I was missing an ingredient so I went to my Betty Crocker’s Cookie Book and found a recipe I thought would work. Again, I was missing a key ingredient (I knew I had flaked coconut in the pantry but when I pulled the package from the very back of the shelf I found it had expired in 2007 – yikes!). So I altered the recipe and substituted 1 tsp. cinnamon for the coconut and ended up with a very thin, buttery cinnamon sugar cookie. It earned a thumbs up from the tasters.

Here’s the original recipe:

No-Roll Coconut-Sugar Cookies

2 cups sugar

2 cups butter or margarine, softened (I used butter)

1 cup flaked coconut (I substituted 1 tsp. cinnamon but you could use a little more)

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt


Heat oven to 350 (F). Beat 2 cups sugar, the butter, coconut (if using) and vanilla in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with spoon. Stir in flour, baking soda, (cinnamon if you’re using it) and salt.

Shape dough by rounded teaspoonfuls into balls. Place about 3 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Press bottom of glass into dough to grease, then dip into sugar; press on shaped dough to flatten slightly.

Bake 8-10 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.

I sprinkled a little red sugar on after baking

Yields: about 8 dozen cookies


weekend cookingWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, beer, wine, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page. More information at the welcome post.

In the Bag by Kate Klise

In The Bag

Synopsis:  (back of the book) – A European vacation. A luggage mix-up. A note from a secret admirer.

Meet two single parents who think they’re too busy to date. 
And two teenagers who can’t stop writing flirty emails. 
This is a tale of connections–missed and made–in a universe that seems to have its heart set on reuniting Ms. 6B and Mr. 13C.

I can’t believe I picked up the wrong bag at the airport. My dad is never going to let me hear the end of it.

I don’t understand why Mom told me to pack my worst underwear. And now I’ve lost my bag? Ack!

I cannot stop thinking about that woman in seat 6B on the flight to Paris.

I don’t have time to worry about the creep sitting in 13C who slipped a note in my purse. I have to find my daughter’s missing bag before this ruins our vacation.

“In the Bag” is a smart and stylish story that explores the old-fashioned art of romance in a modern world, where falling in love can be as risky as checking a bag on an international flight. Buckle your seat belt–it’s going to be a bumpy vacation!

My take:  The back of the book synopsis gives a good sense of what to expect in this entertaining and, some might say, predictable novel. I enjoyed it for the fun plot, the interesting characters, and the snappy dialogue.

I was taken by surprise, in a good way, by the discussions of songwriter Jimmy Webb and his songs – especially Wichita Lineman, a song that always makes me stop whatever I’m doing and listen. There’s just something about that song. Anyway, Andrew was such a fan that he named Webb after him.

All in all, this novel reminded me of those Disney teen movies that always leave an audience smiling. It was a welcome diversion during a busy week.

Title:  In the Bag

Author:  Kate Klise

Genre:  Fiction

Published:  May 2012 – William Morrow – PB: 306 pages

Source:  I bought my copy

Mailbox Monday

December host:

Suko’s Notebook

Life After Life(Publisher synopsis):  What if you could live again and again, until you got it right?

On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to an English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in a variety of ways, while the young century marches on towards its second cataclysmic world war.

Does Ursula’s apparently infinite number of lives give her the power to save the world from its inevitable destiny? And if she can — will she?

Darkly comic, startlingly poignant, and utterly original — this is Kate Atkinson at her absolute best.

barefoot contessa(from the Publisher synopsis) Millions of people love Ina Garten because she writes recipes that make home cooks look great; family and friends shower them with praise and yet the dishes couldn’t be simpler to prepare using ingredients found in any grocery store. In Barefoot Contessa Foolproof, the Food Network star takes easy a step further, sharing her secrets for pulling off deeply satisfying meals that have that “wow!” factor we all crave.

For Ina, “foolproof” means more than just making one dish successfully; it’s also about planning a menu, including coordinating everything so it all gets to the table at the same time. In Barefoot Contessa Foolproof, Ina shows you how to make a game plan so everything is served hot while you keep your cool. There are notes throughout detailing where a recipe can go wrong to keep you on track, plus tips for making recipes in advance. It’s as though Ina is there in the kitchen with you guiding you every step of the way.

With 150 gorgeous color photographs and Ina’s invaluable tips, Barefoot Contessa Foolproof is a stunning yet infinitely practical cookbook that home cooks will turn to again and again.

What was in your mailbox?

Sunday Post

IMG_1259We decorated the tree last week. Our younger daughter came over and helped and then we watched National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and had dinner. I used Instagram to take the picture. I think I have a lot to learn about that app.

Blog news:

I decided to try a new blog theme. Someone pointed out that she had to search for the place to comment so let me point to the little “comment balloon” to the right of the post title. Just click on it and talk to me 🙂

Reviews posted last week:

Spare Change by Bette Lee Crosby

Churchill: The Prophetic Statesman by James C. Humes (audiobook)

I noticed that Jill (from Breaking the Spine) started posting about the Pinterest recipes she’s actually made. I say actually because I’ve pinned countless recipes but have only tried, well, two now! One was this simple appetizer and the other was this entrée. Hubby gave it a thumbs up so I’ll make it again. I thought it was delicious – quick and easy too! I want to thank Jill for the inspiration to try some of the recipes I’ve pinned. I’ll blog about the keepers here on the Sunday Post.

So, what about you? Do you like Pinterest? Do you pin recipes and then actually try them?

Audiobook Brief: Churchill: The Prophetic Statesman by James C. Humes

churchillSynopsis: (Publisher) Churchill: The Prophetic Statesman reveals the astonishingly accurate predictions of Britain’s most famous prime minister and how his critics’ perceptions of them shaped his political career. Who could have foreseen the start of World War I twenty-five years before the assassination of a Serbian archduke plunged Europe into war? Who could have predicted the rise of al-Qaeda nearly eight decades before anyone had heard of Osama bin Laden? Winston Churchill did. Now for the first time, bestselling author James C. Humes reveals these and other shocking predictions made by this legendary figure. Churchill didn’t need a crystal ball to tell the future. Using his skills as a historian, he studied patterns of the past to make his eerily accurate forecasts, including the rise of European fascism, the fall of the Iron Curtain, and the exact day of his own death as he entered his final years. In fascinating detail, Humes’ astonishing biography documents the spot-on prophecies Churchill foretold and the political consequences he endured for sharing them.

“The longer you can look back, the farther you can look forward”  Winston Churchill, 1944

My take: If you are a fan of Churchill you’ll want to read or listen to this book. It would also be a great gift! I found it interesting as well as informative – both on a level that forced a “Wow!” out of me from time to time. Although I enjoyed listening to the book I would recommend also reading the print book. I had to stop and ‘rewind’ more than a few times to get the full gist of what had just been said. If I’d been reading the actual book there would have been a lot of highlighting involved.

That said, I thought narrator Matthew Brenher did a wonderful job with James C. Humes’ book. His Churchill voice was  very good and fit perfectly into the narrative of each passage.

I find myself wanting to read more about Churchill and I see that Mr. Humes has written a few more so I’ll add them to my TBR list. Recommended.

Source: I purchased the audiobook.

Spare Change by Bette Lee Crosby

Title:  Spare Change

Author:  Bette Lee Crosby

Genre:  Fiction

Published:  October 2011 – Bent Pine Publishing

Synopsis:  A Woman who is Superstitious to the Core…
A Boy who claims his Parents are Dead…
A Murderer who wants to Silence the Truth of What Happened.

Olivia Westerly knows what she knows—opals mean disaster, eleven is the unluckiest number on earth and children weigh a woman down like a pocketful of stones. That’s why she’s avoided marriage for almost forty years. But when Charlie Doyle happened along, he was simply too wonderful to resist. Now she’s a widow with an eleven-year-old boy claiming to be her grandson…

With a foul mouth, dark secrets and heavily guarded emotions, Ethan Allen Doyle is not an easy child to like. He was counting on the grandpa he’d never met for a place to hide, but now that plan is shot to blazes because the grandpa’s dead too. He’s got seven dollars and twenty-six cents, his mama’s will for staying alive, and Dog. But none of those things are gonna help if Scooter Cobb finds him.

My take:  Set in 1950s Virginia, Spare Change is the story of Ethan Allen Doyle, a young boy who is truly a victim of his circumstances. He’s a child of selfish and bitter parents who treat him pretty much as insignificant baggage. He learns early on how to survive and make do. It was easy to cheer for him. As dark as his life seemed, it grew much darker on one particular day.

Life changed for Ethan Allen and it soon changed for Olivia, his grandfather’s widow, in ways that would prove to be challenging as well as life-affirming. They both learned that if you have love in your life you can look evil in the eye and triumph.

I’m so glad the author asked me to read her novel. A classic tale of good vs. evil, it’s a page turner to be sure. Spare Change is filled with memorable characters that add humor and compassion. From the weary detective to the residents of Olivia’s apartment complex, I enjoyed them all.  Recommended.

Disclosure: I received a review copy from the author. I was not compensated for my review.

Mailbox Monday

December host:

Suko’s Notebook

news from heaven(From the review copy synopsis): Set in Bakerton, Pennsylvania – the company town that was the setting of Jennifer Haigh’s award-winning bestseller Baker Towers – News from Heaven explores how our roots, the families and places in which we are raised, shape the people we eventually become. Through a series of connected stories, Haigh brilliantly portrays this close-knit community, from its heyday during two world wars to its decline in the final years of the twentieth century. Exploring themes of restlessness, regret, redemption, and acceptance, she depicts men and women of different generations shaped by dreams and haunted by disappointments.

(Publisher synopsis): The New York Times bestselling author takes us back to Harmony, Texas, where big dreams are brewing—and anything and everything is possible…
Emily, the local librarian, has started a writing group, but as the group stumbles through both the fiction and reality of their lives, they’re learning much more than how to write. But Emily suddenly has other things on her mind when a friend from her past shows up in Harmony’s library. Now she must deal with a secret she’s kept for fifteen years—a secret that changed her life and threatens to shatter her future.
Meanwhile, new lawyer Rick Matheson thinks he’s in charge of his world until accidents start happening all around him. Just when he realizes someone is trying to kill him, he meets a beautiful U.S. Marshal named Trace Adam. Now that the marshal has given him an even stronger reason to go on living, he must learn to take a chance on life to dream bigger—and love better—than he ever has before…

Sunday Post

Happy December! How is it possible that we’ve reached the final month of 2012?

I was thinking this week about how my blogging has evolved since 2008.It seems lately I’ve managed to write a Sunday Post, a Mailbox Monday meme and one review – that’s it. Last week I posted a review for The Garden of Happy Endings by Barbara O’Neal. Really liked it. I’m a fan of Barbara O’Neal’s novels.

In other news…

photo-6We put up (assembled really – its been years since we bought a cut tree) the Christmas tree. It’s pre-lit and, judging from the photo, it looks its age and maybe like it needs a few new lights. Our daughter will come over Monday evening for dinner and to help with the ornaments (they’re in the red boxes). I still need to buy a wreath for the front door. That will be a wonderfully aromatic made-from-real-greens wreath.

What about you? Has your blogging changed much over the years?

Can you believe it’s December??

The Garden of Happy Endings by Barbara O’Neal

Title:  The Garden of Happy Endings

Author:  Barbara O’Neal

Genre:  Contemporary Fiction

Published:  April 2012 – Bantam

Paperback – 416 pages

My take:  Reverend Elsa Montgomery is going through a crisis of faith after the brutal murder of a young parishioner. She’s so angry that God would allow such an unspeakable act that she’s not sure she can continue as a minister. She takes a sabbatical from her Seattle church and goes home to Pueblo, Colorado to work through things. When she gets there she finds her sister Tamsin going through a life-changing upheaval of her own. Her missing husband has been charged with running a Ponzi scheme that stole millions. She finds herself homeless, penniless and not sure where to turn.

Elsa and Tamsin wind up living in the small house where they grew up. Elsa reconnects with the parish priest who also happens to be her former boyfriend. He broke off their engagement twenty years earlier when he had a calling to the priesthood. They managed to stay friends and kept in touch over the years. Ultimately he becomes the catalyst to Elsa finding her way back to her faith. Through him she meets many people (wonderful primary and secondary characters) who help her along the way.

Tamsin has lived a life of privilege but is now happy to accept a job in the fabric department at Walmart. She also helps out with a new community garden program at the parish. She learns that she may not have been as happy or content in her old life as she thought. In fact, she realizes how lonely her life had become.

Watching the story unfold as Elsa and Tamsin found their way on such personal journeys made for an emotional reading experience. Barbara O’Neal is a wonderful storyteller. Her characters and story truly resonated with me. I can’t ask for more than that. Recommended.

Disclosure:  I received this book from the publisher. I was not compensated for my review.

Mailbox Monday

November host: Kathy at BermudaOnion

I bought a couple of audiobooks last week:

Publisher’s Summary: Churchill: The Prophetic Statesman reveals the astonishingly accurate predictions of Britain’s most famous prime minister and how his critics’ perceptions of them shaped his political career. Who could have foreseen the start of World War I twenty-five years before the assassination of a Serbian archduke plunged Europe into war? Who could have predicted the rise of al-Qaeda nearly eight decades before anyone had heard of Osama bin Laden? Winston Churchill did. Now for the first time, bestselling author James C. Humes reveals these and other shocking predictions made by this legendary figure. Churchill didn’t need a crystal ball to tell the future. Using his skills as a historian, he studied patterns of the past to make his eerily accurate forecasts, including the rise of European fascism, the fall of the Iron Curtain, and the exact day of his own death as he entered his final years. In fascinating detail, Humes’ astonishing biography documents the spot-on prophecies Churchill foretold and the political consequences he endured for sharing them.

James C. Humes, a former White House speechwriter for five presidents, is a Pulitzer Prize–nominated author of more than thirty books. He is currently a historian at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

Goodreads Synopsis: Deirdre Griffin has a great life; it’s just not her own. She’s the around-the-clock personal assistant to her charismatic, high-maintenance, New Age guru brother, Tag. As the family wallflower, her only worth seems to be as gatekeeper to Tag at his New England seaside compound. Then Deirdre’s sometime boyfriend informs her that he is marrying another woman, who just happens to be having the baby he told Deirdre he never wanted. While drowning her sorrows in Tag’s expensive vodka, Deirdre decides to use his massive online following to get herself voted on as a last-minute Dancing with the Stars replacement. It’ll get her back in shape, mentally and physically. It might even get her a life of her own. Deirdre’s fifteen minutes of fame have begun.

What was in your mailbox?

Sunday Post

I thought it was time to check in with a Sunday Post since it’s been a few weeks. Very little reading took place in the past several days.

I posted my take of the fun Christmas novel Merry Ex-Mas by Sheila Roberts. It reminded me how much I enjoy Christmas books so I plan to read many more through the end of the year.

With a whirlwind week behind us I’m waiting a few days to decorate for Christmas inside the house. We had twenty (sitting at three tables) here for Thanksgiving. Not surprisingly, the kids’ table looked like the most fun :). It was a nice day with family and friends but, as usual, I wish I’d had more time to sit and talk with everyone.

For the second year in a row my sister and her family joined my family for a Thanksgiving morning 5K walk/run through the park near our homes. I snapped a pic of the Little Free Library that is located near the pavilion. What a great idea. I did some checking on line and found a map of LFLs around the world. Click here for the website.

That’s it for this edition of the Sunday Post. 

What’s new in your world?