The Girl She Used to Be by David Cristofano

The Girl She Used to Be

Bookflap:When Melody Grace McCartney was six years old, she and her parents witnessed an act of violence so brutal that it changed their lives forever. The federal government lured them into the Witness Protection Program with the promise of safety, but the program took Melody’s name, her home, her family, and ultimately her innocence. Now, twenty years later and still on the run, she’s been May Adams, Karen Smith, Anne Johnson, and countless others. But the one person she longs to be is Melody Grace McCartney.
So when the feds spirit her off to begin yet another new life in yet another new town, she’s stunned by a man who accosts her and calls her by her real name. Jonathan Bovaro, the mafioso sent to find her, knows her, the real her, and it’s a thrill Melody can’t resist. Defying the feds, she goes willingly with him. To the Justice Department, she’s nothing more than a pawn in the government’s war against the Bovaro family. But, as dangerous as Jonathan is, he presents her with the chance of a lifetime – the chance to embrace her past and present, and choose a future all her own.
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David Cristofano’s debut novel is paced perfectly. So perfectly that I didn’t want to put the book down for more than a few minutes. I read it yesterday and recommend it to anyone looking for a good story. For the most part I feel the author avoided glaring stereotypes – which could have happened since the mafia and the government figure prominently. The story is told in Melody’s voice and I think Cristofano did a fine job. It never seemed like a guy trying to write what a woman would say or do. It was very believable. You can read his article about writing from a female point of view here. I’ll be keeping The Girl She Used to Be to read again. Wish there was a sequel!
You can visit the author’s website: .
The book will be released on March 19, 2009 (according to
I want to thank Miriam Parker, Hachette Book Group USA, for sending the book.

Houston, We Have a Problema by Gwendolyn Zepeda

Cover Image

Back of the book: Jessica Luna isn’t always sure what to do with her life, but there are plenty of people willing to tell her. Her mother says she should drop the bad boys and marry a nice man the way her sister, Sabrina, did. Her coworkers encourage her to climb the corporate ladder, while her friends tell her to ditch the day job and strike out on her own. Is it any wonder, with so much conflicting advice, Jessica would rather rely on the plastic Virgin Mary that hangs in her car and her weekly visits with her friendly neighborhood psychic, Madame Hortensia? But as Jessica’s life becomes increasingly complicated, the universe becomes increasingly unclear. Madame Hortensia confirms a big change is on the horizon . . . but exactly what that means is something no one sees coming.
Gwendolyn Zepeda gives us Jessica – a character who is easy to cheer for. I really wanted her to succeed – in her job aspirations, her family relationships, and her romantic situation. Houston, We Have a Problema is a fast-paced novel about a young woman figuring out her life and working out exactly who she is. It was a quick read and I enjoyed it.
Author links:
My thanks to Miriam Parker of Hachette Book Group USA for sending the book

Finding Father Christmas by Robin Jones Gunn and a Giveaway

Finding Father Christmas by Robin Jones Gunn: Book Cover

From the book flap: Miranda Carson’s search for her father takes a turn she never expected when she finds herself in England with only a few feeble clues to who he might be. Unexpectedly welcomed into a family that doesn’t recognize her and whom she’s quickly coming to love, she faces a terrible decision.
Should she reveal her true identity and destroy their idyllic image of her father? Or should she carry the truth home with her to San Francisco and remain alone in this world? Whatever choice she makes during this Christmas will forever change the future for both her and the family she can’t bear to leave.
I read Engaging Father Christmas in October (review found here) and loved the story. I didn’t find out until later that it was actually a sequel to Finding Father Christmas. I was so happy to read the full story of Miranda and how she came to England to search for her father. Robin Jones Gunn tells a lovely story that very much figures into the Christmas season. I recommend both books (read in order) – they will uplift your Christmas spirit.

Thanks to Miriam at Hachette Book Group, I’m hosting a giveaway of both books. This giveaway is limited to residents of the U.S. and Canada. To win Finding Father Christmas AND Engaging Father Christmas :

1. For one entry leave a post and comment about this review.

2. For a second entry post about this giveaway on your blog and leave a link for me.

I’m going to make this a fast giveaway and close it at 11pm (EDT) Friday, Dec. 12, 2008. Please leave contact info (e-mail, blog link). I’ll use and post the winner on Saturday. Good luck!

Testimony by Anita Shreve

Testimony by Anita Shreve: Book Cover

Book flap: At Avery Academy, A prestigious New England boarding school, the headmaster finds himself in possession of a videotape — a disaster in a small package. More shocking than the sexual acts recorded on the tape are the ages of the students. One girl is just fourteen.
A Pandora’s box, the tape unleashes a storm of shame and recrimination throughout the small community. The men, women, and teenagers involved speak out to relate the events of that night and their aftermath. Mike Bordwin, the headmaster, struggles to contain the scandal before it destroys the school. Silas Quinnery, a well-liked local boy, grapples with the tremendous consequences of his mistakes. Anna, his mother, confronts her own forbidden temptations. And Sienna, an enigmatic and troubled young woman, tries to put her past behind her.
For all the tape reveals, it provokes more questions than it answers. How did this happen? Who is to blame? And will the mistakes of one foolish moment ruin the futures of everyone involved? As the chorus of voices rises to the crescendo, it reveals the surprising truth of what occurred that night, and how the lives touched by these events will be forever transformed.
Wow. I began reading Testimony in the morning and only took small breaks for the rest of the day. I couldn’t put it down. I didn’t expect that, especially after the first ‘testimony’ describing the event. But, being a parent of three who are now all in their 20s, I completely bought into the book. I know this could happen!

I like how Shreve unfolds the story – through the eyes of everyone involved. I think she nailed the students’ voices. And I think she gives an accurate portrayal of today’s news media, sad to say.

To say I enjoyed the book would be wrong. I was taken in by the compelling, honest, and gripping story.
Thanks to Miriam at Hachette Book Group for sending me this book.

Engaging Father Christmas by Robin Jones Gunn

Engaging Father Christmas by Robin Jones Gunn: Book Cover

From the book flap: Miranda Carson can’t wait to return to England to spend Christmas with her boyfriend, Ian. She spent a lifetime yearning for a place to call home, and she’s sure Carlton Heath will be it, especially when hints of engagement fill the air.
But Miranda’s high hopes for a jolly Christmas are toppled when Ian’s father is hospitalized and the matriarch of the Whitcombe family refuses to bless Miranda and Ian’s relationship. How can Miranda ever find a place to belong in this cheery corner of the world? When family secrets threaten all her relationships in unanticipated ways, Miranda is certain all is lost.
And yet . . . as Miranda searches for love, she finds the promise of so much more in the arms of a certain Father Christmas. Perhaps this holiday has special gifts in store for her after all.
Robin Jones Gunn has written a sweet, cozy novella that is perfect for the holiday season. It’s the first book I’ve read by this author. In fact, it’s the first I’ve read that fits in the Christian Lit. category.

If you want a book that will help you get in the holiday mood, Engaging Father Christmas would be a good choice. It had the feel of an old-fashioned Christmas – much like an old black and white movie. It took a couple of hours to read and I enjoyed it very much.
I’ll be looking for Finding Father Christmas. It is part 1 of Miranda’s story and I want to read all the details!
Thanks to Miriam at Hachette Book Group for sending me this book.