Sunday, December 29, 2013

Looking Back and Figuring Out What's Ahead

Welcome to the 2013 Edition of Things I Failed To Do!

When it came to books this year, I was a big loser. Big, fat, hairy, hand in my pants loser. I set a goal of 50 books - just under a book a week - and I ended with 31. I blame the internet and life. But mostly the internet.

So, I'm trying to find my Year of Happiness - because 2013 was NOT it ( - and thinking about what I want to do in 2014, what I have to do, and what I will probably end up doing. I don't want my goals to be too easy, but yet I don't want them to be too hard or too varied. But that's the problem with having a high I.Q. - my interests and abilities to learn are endless. I could be all over the board trying to conquer my physical, spiritual, educational, and career. I'd be exhausted by the end of the day. So, here's what I already have going on for sure in 2014:

  • Church Secretary (requires approx. 2 hours/week)
  • Committee Chair (time requirement unknown)
  • Youth Group (10 hours/week, including 1 hour class + baking)
  • Full-time job (including at least one trip to China in 2014)
  • Home Business Pangea Organics (time requirement unknown)
  • Two weekly newspaper columns (time requirement unknown)
So, add in mommy duty, my meager housekeeping skills, and sleeping... Not to mention that I have (FINALLY!!) found The One and he has three beautiful children. Four more people to give love, attention, and time to. I'm tired already. Albeit a happy tired.

Here's the "Extras" I'd like to accomplish in 2014:
  1. Read the Bible. The ENTIRE Bible.
  2. Read some books.
  3. Run a 5k.
  4. Get back into Yoga once a week.
  5. Finish an Engineering class.
  6. Take a Language class.
  7. Get my finances under control.
  8. Projects.
  9. No-Spend January, April, July, and October.
  10. Travel: NYC is at the top of my list.
Obviously not all of this is going to happen. It just can't. So if I narrowed the list down to half... that would still be too much. Four? Does four seem reasonable? And which four? And what's the plan? And accountability?

Sometimes, I'm really good at making things harder than they need to be. I'll get back to you on what I figure out in the next few days. If you have any suggestions, please post them!

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Inkheart (Inkworld, #1)Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book took for.ever. to get moving. I'm glad I stuck with it because it really was a beautiful story. Very creative plot, interesting characters, and humor. A nice bit of fantasy for bookish nerds.

Synopsis: Twelve-year-old Meggie learns that her father, who repairs and binds books for a living, can "read" fictional characters to life when one of those characters abducts them and tries to force him into service.      

Recommended Reading:
Inkspell by Cornelia Funke
Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke
The Golum's Eye by Jonathan Stroud
The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud
The People of Sparks by Jeanne DuPrau
Magyk by Angie Sage               

Sunday, December 1, 2013

October and November

I'm not quite sticking to the plan... but it's an improvement! Unless by some miracle I no longer require sleep, I won't even get close to the 50 book goal this year. I'm kind of sad. I mean emotionally sad. Not pathetic sad. So I've bumped the number from 23 to 28 books read, and only one month left in the year.

So what is taking up my time? Let's see...
              still rocking the single parent gig
              Youth group leader
              Trying really hard to pretend I'm not in pain every day
              Church secretary
              Stripping the dining room wallpaper
              Not cleaning my house (mostly it's just cleaning the same three rooms and telling people to close their eyes when they go through the other rooms)
              Attempting to get a Pangea Organics business off the ground
              Trying to keep my sanity

We won't even discuss my obsession with Farm Heroes Saga right now.


Back to talking about books... On the plus side of all this, I am managing to hold the TBR list under 100. I feel there will be a purging before year end. Hopefully I will finish Inkheart before year end...

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Wild Surge of Guilty Passion

A Wild Surge of Guilty PassionA Wild Surge of Guilty Passion by Ron Hansen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I picked this up because of my love for narrative true stories. I found the writing to be mediocre, sometimes so condensed and recited, it was like reading a fifth grade book report. Sometimes the narrative showed true imagination, characterization and I was able to get lost in it a time or two. The POV was confused at times. It was disappointing because of the way the story was setup, you knew exactly what was going to happen next (because you'd been told 25 pages before that it was going to happen). I assume this author wrote the story with the assumption that anyone who read it would already be familiar with the story. I think it would have been a better book if he had made the assumption that the reader had no idea of the true life story.

Overall, a fast read that wrapped up neatly. Any liberties taken by the author were well done and fit in with the characters portrayed by facts.

Synopsis: Based on a real case whose lurid details scandalized Americans in 1927 and sold millions of newspapers, acclaimed novelist Ron Hansen's latest work is a tour de force of erotic tension and looming violence.

Trapped in a loveless marriage, Ruth Snyder is a voluptuous, reckless, and altogether irresistible woman who wishes not only to escape her husband but that he die - and the sooner the better. No less miserable in his own tedious marriage is Judd Gray, a dapper corset-and-brassiere salesman who travels the Northeast peddling his wares. He meets Ruth in a Manhattan diner, and soon they are conducting a white-hot affair involving hotel rooms, secret letters, clandestine travels, and above all, Ruth's increasing insistence that Judd kill her husband. Could he do it? Would he?

What follows is a thrilling exposition of a murder plan, a police investigation, the lovers' attempt to escape prosecution, and a final reckoning for both of them that lays bare the horror and sorrow of what they have done.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

And One Last Thing

And One Last Thing ...And One Last Thing ... by Molly Harper
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A cute read. The story definitely improved once the romance side got going. Great male lead - wish there had been more of him in the book. Smart humor. Very contemporary.


"If Singletree’s only florist didn’t deliver her posies half-drunk, I might still be married to that floor-licking, scum-sucking, receptionist-nailing hack-accountant, Mike Terwilliger."

Lacey Terwilliger’s shock and humiliation over her husband’s philandering prompt her to add some bonus material to Mike’s company newsletter: stunning Technicolor descriptions of the special brand of "administrative support" his receptionist gives him. The detailed mass e-mail to Mike’s family, friends, and clients blows up in her face, and before one can say "instant urban legend," Lacey has become the pariah of her small Kentucky town, a media punch line, and the defendant in Mike’s defamation lawsuit.

Her seemingly perfect life up in flames, Lacey retreats to her family’s lakeside cabin, only to encounter an aggravating neighbor named Monroe. A hunky crime novelist with a low tolerance for drama, Monroe is not thrilled about a newly divorced woman moving in next door. But with time, beer, and a screen door to the nose, a cautious friendship develops into something infinitely more satisfying.

Lacey has to make a decision about her long-term living arrangements, though. Should she take a job writing caustic divorce newsletters for paying clients, or move on with her own life, pursuing more literary aspirations? Can she find happiness with a man who tells her what he thinks and not what she wants to hear? And will she ever be able to resist saying one . . . last . . . thing?

Recommended Reading:
Perfect Blend by Sue Margolis
Holly's Inbox by Holly Denham
There's Cake in My Future by Kim Gruenenfelder
The Blonde Theory by Kristin Harmel
Georgia's Kitchen by Jenny Nelson
She's Gone Country by Jane Porter

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Starlet

The Starlet: A NovelThe Starlet: A Novel by Mary McNamara
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I picked up this book expecting one thing and found something else. A very enjoyable read, characters that were equally likeable and irritating, and there was depth to the story that I had not expected at all.

The mystery aspect of the story was reactionary, none of the characters really did anything to progress the mystery plot line, but things happened that they reacted to and the mystery played itself out. The story wrapped itself up neatly in the last three chapters, a bit rushed and left open enough that I can see a sequel involving many of the main characters.

The writing style was ok. The dialogue was great and authentic feeling. There were prose-y type scene descriptions at the beginning of each chapter, which I learned to just skip over - they were not good or necessary leadins to the plot action. Occasionally scene descriptions would interrupt the flow of the action and I would have to go back a few paragraphs to pick up on the dialogue flow. I think this writer has a great writing style when she isn't "forcing" a descriptive scene. I think there is a lot to be said about minimalism and letting the reader fill in the blanks.

All said, I will be watching this author and adding her books to my TBR list.

Synopsis: It’s a not-so-well-respected rule in Hollywood that what happens on location stays on location. But when a hot young leading man winds up dead in his Rome hotel room, his costar’s life is about to go off the rails in a very public way—even by celeb standards.

At the tender age of twenty-three, Mercy Talbot has won an Oscar, battled addiction, wrecked more than her share of cars, and burned down her house. Her look-alike mother keeps her on a tight leash (and fueled with an endless supply of OxyContin and cocaine) and her producers demand a grueling schedule. By the time she stumbles across Juliette Greyson, a Hollywood insider on a much-needed vacation, Mercy is surrounded by photographers and about to emerge drunk, high, and naked from a public fountain. Whisking her away to an idyllic Tuscan ‘retreat,’ Juliette is about to discover another rule of Hollywood: wherever the starlet may go, the drama will follow.

Recommended Reading:
And One Last Thing... by Holly Harper
Beautiful People by Wendy Holden
Hidden Wives by Claire Avery
The Glamorous (Double) Life of Isabel Bookbinder by Holly McQueen
Mortal Friend by Jane Stanton Hitchcock
The Pregnant Widow by Martin Amis

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Gone Girl

Gone GirlGone Girl by Gillian Flynn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am probably the only person on the planet who liked the ending - or so my friends tell me! This book was unexpected. The author tells us we're being lied to, neither one of the characters is particularly likeable but yet I connected to them at times throughout the book. A disturbing look at the extremes of relationships. Didn't want it to end.

Synopsis: On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne's fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick's clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn't doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife's head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media--as well as Amy's fiercely doting parents--the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he's definitely bitter--but is he really a killer?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn't do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

Recommended Reading:
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
Where We Belong by Emily Giffin
Defending Jacob by William Landay
The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith
Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
Canada by Richard Ford

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Wish Her Safe At Home

Wish Her Safe at HomeWish Her Safe at Home by Stephen Benatar
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book left me confused, questioning reality, and just a little bit shaken. This story is how a woman slowly loses her sanity (or maybe she never had it) told in first person. Rather interesting at how quickly the mind twisted actual events. It was sometimes hard to determine what the real situation was and what was delusional... and then at the very end it all came unraveled. There was a very formal feel to the writing at times. I'm not sure if that was intended to portray the first person character as being out of time and place (and there fore out of reality). I wouldn't call the book laugh out loud humor, but I did enjoy some of the satire and the ironic timing of the plot. Definitely an interesting read.

Synopsis: Rachel Waring is deliriously happy. Out of nowhere, a great-aunt leaves her a Georgian mansion in another city—and she sheds her old life without delay. Gone is her dull administrative job, her mousy wardrobe, her downer of a roommate. She will live as a woman of leisure, devoted to beauty, creativity, expression, and love. Once installed in her new quarters, Rachel plants a garden, takes up writing, and impresses everyone she meets with her extraordinary optimism. But as Rachel sings and jokes the days away, her new neighbors begin to wonder if she might be taking her transformation just a bit too far.

Recommended Reading:
Cooking with Fernet Branca by James Hamilton-Paterson
Fortunes of War by Olivia Manning
The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy
Skylark by Dezso Kosztolanyi
Wise Children by Angela Carter
Everything Flows by Vasily Grossman

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Good Dream

The Good DreamThe Good Dream by Donna VanLiere
My rating: 5 of 5 stars! I loved this book. Told from multiple view points, the language is simple, the descriptions are minimal, but yet it's a richly told story with character and emotion. The plot was a little shallow, but the story moved along at a good pace. I really enjoyed this book and couldn't read fast enough.

Synopsis: Tennessee, 1950:  Still single and in her early thirties, Ivorie Walker is considered an old maid; a label she takes with good humor and a grain of salt. But when her mother dies, leaving her to live alone in the house she grew up in, to work the farm she was raised to take care of, she finds herself lost in a kind of loneliness she hadn't expected.  After years of rebuffing the advances of imperfect, yet eligible bachelors from her small town, Ivorie is without companionship with more love in her heart and time on her hands than she knows what to do with.  But her life soon changes when a feral, dirty-faced boy who has been sneaking onto her land to steal from her garden comes into her life.  Even though he runs back into the hills as quickly as he arrives, she's determined to find out who he is because something about the young boy haunts her. What would make him desperate enough to steal and eat from her garden?  But what she can't imagine is what the boy faces, each day and night, in the filthy lean-to hut miles up in the hills. Who is he? How did he come to live in the hills? Where did he come from? And, more importantly, can she save him? As Ivorie steps out of her comfort zone to uncover the answers, she unleashes a firestorm in the town-a community that would rather let secrets stay that way.

Recommended Reading:
Coming Up For Air by Patti Callahan Henry
Heading Out to Wonderful by Robert Goolrick
The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner
Spring Fever by Mary Kay Andrews
Clair de Lune by Jetta Carleton
Picture This by Jacqueline Sheehan

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Hiding From Love

Hiding from Love: How to Change the Withdrawal Patterns That Isolate and Imprison YouHiding from Love: How to Change the Withdrawal Patterns That Isolate and Imprison You by John Sims Townsend
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one of those books that's hard to review. This book took me on an emotional journey from the start. There were literally weeks where I couldn't read because I was overwhelmed with discovery, with letting go, with recognizing the parts of me that were injured, that were broken, the parts that needed LOVE.

God set me on this journey last summer when He put the desire for marriage, for a committed companionship, onto my heart. I've spent much of that wondering why. Why would He bring me to this and I would still be alone? Why would He bring me here and not bring my intended spouse here as well? Crazy, but Here is not the end of my journey. Here is where I have the desire to fill God's plans for me, to fix the brokenness... to not just accept God and His love, but to be able to accept another choosing me.

I highly recommend this book to anyone struggling with relationships, anyone who wants a relationship, and anyone who is in a relationship.

Synopsis: When you experience emotional injury, fear, shame, or pride your first impulse is to hide the hurting parts of yourself from God, others, even yourself. Often you've learned these hiding patterns during childhood to protect yourself in a threatening environment. The problem is that when you hide your injuries and frailties, you isolate yourself from the very things you need in order to heal and mature. What served as protection for a child becomes a prison to an adult. In Hiding from Love, Dr. John Townsend helps you to explore thoroughly the hiding patterns you've developed and guides you toward the healing grace and truth that God has built into safe, connected relationships with himself and others. You'll discover: The difference between 'good' and 'bad' hiding, Why you hide the broken parts of your soul from the God who can heal them, How to be free to make mistakes without fear of exposing your failures and imperfections, How to obtain the joy and wholeness God intends you to have through healthy bonding with others. Hiding from Love will take you on a journey of discovery toward healing, connected relationships, and a new freedom and joy in living.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Oh My My

I don't even know what to say... I have read one book. ONE. since the beginning of July. It wasn't a long book. It was emotionally intense and at times painful... but you'll hear about that in the review later. For now, let's continue on about how much I suck, shall we? Yes. Let's do.

I feel like I can't my feet under me. I don't sleep. I eat, I run, I start projects and don't finish them, I spend far too much time on FaceBook doing nothing. Right now my only real comfort is at church. Which brings me back full circle to starting projects and not finishing them...

Sigh. I can't focus on reading. I'd rather RUN than read a book. Anyone who knows me knows how Cah-ray-zee that idea even is.

But that's where I am right now.

I'm having a hard time embracing it.

So over the rest of the year, I'm just going with it. Kind of. I'm making more of an effort to focus... but if I feel like running, I'm gonna run.

So dare I even try to set a goal? Sure. Everyone needs a point to measure failure, right? Right.

So far I have read 23 books of 50. That means I'm roughly 25% behind in my reading. So here's the goal: Read one book every 10 days. That's it. That is the best I can do.

2013 has been a huge disappointment all the way around. It's been a bad luck year here. I'm really hoping I make it through and 2014 will be oh-so-much better.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Gatecrasher

The GatecrasherThe Gatecrasher by Madeleine Wickham
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This story had interesting characters and a twisted plot that didn't pan out in the end. I found myself more interested in the sub-story of the kids than the main character story. I was very disappointed in the ending. It was unrealistic and too neatly wrapped. It had started out so good and original... and then meh. Just meh.

Summary: Fleur Daxeny is beautiful, unscrupulous, and has a large wardrobe of black designer suits. With the help of The Times announcements page she gate-crashes the funerals of the wealthy, preying on rich vulnerable men. She charms her way into their lives and onto their platinum cards, takes what she can and then moves swiftly on.

When Richard Favour, a dull but wealthy businessman, meets Fleur at his wife's memorial service, he's bowled over. Gradually Fleur works her spell on Richard's reserved and stilted family - transforming their lives while she moves in on their wealth. She finds herself lingering longer than she meant to, becoming involved in the family - but as Fleur rifles through Richard's files, it becomes clear that she is not the only one after his money.

Recommended Reading:
Cocktails for Three by Madeleine Whickham
Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella
Queen of Babble in the Big City by Meg Cabot
The Wedding Girl by Madeleine Whickham
Second Chance by Jane Green
The Importance of Being Married by Gemma Townley

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sticky Faith

Sticky Faith: Everyday Ideas to Build Lasting Faith in Your KidsSticky Faith: Everyday Ideas to Build Lasting Faith in Your Kids by Kara Powell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was an insightful look into how to keep not just your kids, but kids in general in the church. I liked that this was backed up by research and what the real world had to say. It didn't shy away from the reality that our kids live in. I think this is positive reinforcement for anyone working with youth groups or teenagers.

Summary: Nearly every Christian parent in America would give anything to find a viable resource for developing within their kids a deep, dynamic faith that 'sticks' long term. Sticky Faith delivers. Research shows that almost half of graduating high school seniors struggle deeply with their faith. Recognizing the ramifications of that statistic, the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) conducted the 'College Transition Project' in an effort to identify the relationships and best practices that can set young people on a trajectory of lifelong faith and service. Based on FYI findings, this easy-to-read guide presents both a compelling rationale and a powerful strategy to show parents how to actively encourage their children's spiritual growth so that it will stick to them into adulthood and empower them to develop a living, lasting faith. Written by authors known for the integrity of their research and the intensity of their passion for young people, Sticky Faith is geared to spark a movement that empowers adults to develop robust and long-term faith in kids of all ages.

Friday, June 28, 2013

A Plague of Zombies

A Plague of ZombiesA Plague of Zombies by Diana Gabaldon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I always enjoy Lord John's stories. This one wasn't much different. Although I thought the ending was too wrapped up and neat, and missing some of the details - the little "aha!" moments - that I look for when reading a DG story. Entertaining to read on it's own, a little disappointing in the grand scheme of things.

Synopsis: Lord John Grey, a lieutenant-colonel in His Majesty’s army, arrives in Jamaica with orders to quash a slave rebellion brewing in the mountains. But a much deadlier threat lies close at hand. The governor of the island is being menaced by zombies, according to a servant. Lord John has no idea what a zombie is, but it doesn’t sound good. It sounds even worse when hands smelling of grave dirt come out of the darkness to take him by the throat. Between murder in the governor’s mansion and plantations burning in the mountains, Lord John will need the wisdom of serpents and the luck of the devil to keep the island from exploding.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Never Stick Your Tongue Out at Mama

Never Stick Your Tongue Out at Mama: And Other Life Transforming RevelationsNever Stick Your Tongue Out at Mama: And Other Life Transforming Revelations by Max Davis
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

While a cute title, I found the topics covered to be just as trite. Nothing really stands out to me as "life transforming". A lot of common sense teaching.

Synopsis: Max Davis has seen the dark side of life. When he was at his personal worst(unemployed, in enormous debt, divorced and uninvolved with his children, he contemplated suicide. Instead, he systematically rebuilt his life from the bottom up. What he learned along the way is encapsulated in these heartfelt, insightful, and simple essays. Everything from respect for others (the chapter Never Stick Your Tongue Out at Mama) to personal responsibility (Even Toddlers Do It) to facing your fears (Monsters Under the Bed), Max Davis latches onto emotions everyone can relate to and to life issues we all struggle with.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Gendarme

The GendarmeThe Gendarme by Mark Mustian
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was not what I expected at all. I struggled a lot with the shifting timelines. The writing itself was very good, although there were a lot of paragraphs filled with "meh" descriptions that I skimmed through. The ending was a little vague. I recommend this for anyone who likes those forgotten bits of history.

Synopsis: A haunting, deeply moving novel-an old man comes face-to-face with his past and sets out to find the love of his life and beg her forgiveness.

To those around him, Emmet Conn is a ninety-two-year-old man on the verge of senility. But what becomes frighteningly clear to Emmet is that the sudden, realistic dreams he is having are memories of events he, and many others, have denied or purposely forgotten. The Gendarme is a unique love story that explores the power of memory-and the ability of people, individually and collectively, to forget. Depicting how love can transcend nationalities and politics, how racism creates divisions where none truly exist, and how the human spirit fights to survive even in the face of hopelessness, this is a transcendent novel.

Recommended Reading:
The Elephant's Journey by Jose Saramago
The Secret Kept by Tatiana de Rosnay
Fall of Giants by Ken Follett
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna
Room by Emma Donoghue

Monday, May 27, 2013

Through A Glass Darkly

Through a Glass DarklyThrough a Glass Darkly by Karleen Koen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book took awhile to get into, it moved slowly through the beginning. Very detailed descriptions, which I appreciated later as I think it saved me some confusion during later events. I thought the characters were great. The plot was dark with a bit of light around the edges, making it an enjoyable read without becoming depressing. It was a lengthy book, which at some points made it intimidating. The historical fiction was dead on, between the rebuilding of France and the collapse of England's economy, the fashion and ethics of the time were on target.

Synopsis: Karleen Koen's sweeping saga contains unforgettable characters consumed with passion: the extraordinarily beautiful fifteen-year-old noblewoman, Barbara Alderley; the man she adores, the wickedly handsome Roger MontGeoffry; her grandmother, the duchess, who rules the family with cunning and wit; and her mother, the ineffably cruel, self-centered and licentious Diana. Like no other work, Through a Glass Darkly is infused with intrigue, sweetened by romance and awash in the black ink of betrayal.

Recommended Reading:
Now Face to Face by Karleen Koen
From a Distance by Tamera Alexander
Ross Poldark by Winston Graham
Making Waves by Lorna Seilstad
Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Story

The Story: The Bible as One Continuing Story of God and His PeopleThe Story: The Bible as One Continuing Story of God and His People by Anonymous
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My adult Sunday School class read this over the year. I was a little hesitant about reading this, I guess I thought I knew the bible. Turns out there was a lot I had forgotten, or just didn't know.

I really enjoyed reading this. It was a well setup book and especially meaningful with the DVD accompaniment. My class had lots of interesting discussions and I learned so much. Reading this started a fire within me, I found my faith again because of this book. I can't wait to read it again, this time alongside my bible.

God goes to great lengths to rescue lost and hurting people. That is what The Story is all about---the story of the Bible, God's great love affair with humanity. Condensed into 31 accessible chapters, The Story sweeps you into the unfolding progression of Bible characters and events from Genesis to Revelation. Using the clear, accessible text of the NIV Bible, it allows the stories, poems, and teachings of the Bible to read like a novel. And like any good story, The Story is filled with intrigue, drama, conflict, romance, and redemption---and this story's true!

From the foreword by Max Lucado and Randy Frazee:
'This book tells the grandest, most compelling story of all time: the story of a true God who loves his children, who established for them a way of salvation and provided a route to eternity. Each story in these 31 chapters reveals the God of grace---the God who speaks; the God who acts; the God who listens; the God whose love for his people culminated in his sacrifice of Jesus, his only Son, to atone for the sins of humanity.'
• The story of the Bible---in its own words. Selections from the NIV Bible with short transitions to connect the reader to the continuing story.
* Events, characters, and teachings of the Bible arranged chronologically
* Timelines of Bible events
* New International Version (NIV) Bible text Church families around the globe can now embrace The Story for a full ministry year through worship services, small group studies, and family activities. Learn more about this whole-church experience at

Saturday, May 25, 2013

March April and May Update

I'm only slightly behind on book reviews and updating the blog in general. Life has been a mad crazy rush the last few months. This summer I promised myself and the CofC that we would take things a little easier. Hopefully that also includes more time to read!

I briefly debated abandoning the blog all together - simply because well, time. As in I didn't have time to write a review, and when I did... it took FOREVER because of my outdated laptop. Well, both problems have come to pass, so here I am, on a rainy Saturday morning, catching up the blog.

I know you're excited.

I am.

So... a brief recap: I'm staying on track for my books read goal. Keeping the TBR list down has been a challenge. And by challenge I mean that I haven't really tried. I have been trying to mix-up my reading list between old books, new books and ebooks. I've been on a bit of a short story kick on the ebook side of things. Partly because they are more affordable and partly because one of my favorite authors published a couple shorts.

There might be a book purge coming in the next few weeks, maybe not. I don't feel inclined to get rid of anything right now. I think a lot of focus will simply go into getting ahead of the reading plan so maybe I can fit in a Diana Gabaldon or Harry Potter re-read.

So as I catch up on the book reviews, hang out, drink some coffee... read a book :)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Lunch in Paris

Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with RecipesLunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes by Elizabeth Bard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was very well written. It was a love story and a food story and cookbook all in one. A fast read, entertaining and had more recipes than I was expecting (some of which I would actually make and eat). I'm not sure why I like these "I gave up everything to move to a foreign country for love" stories... but I do! The French ones seem to be the best.

Synopsis: In Paris for a weekend visit, Elizabeth Bard sat down to lunch with a handsome Frenchman--and never went home again.

Was it love at first sight? Or was it the way her knife slid effortlessly through her pavé au poivre, the steak's pink juices puddling into the buttery pepper sauce? LUNCH IN PARIS is a memoir about a young American woman caught up in two passionate love affairs--one with her new beau, Gwendal, the other with French cuisine. Packing her bags for a new life in the world's most romantic city, Elizabeth is plunged into a world of bustling open-air markets, hipster bistros, and size 2 femmes fatales. She learns to gut her first fish (with a little help from Jane Austen), soothe pangs of homesickness (with the rise of a chocolate soufflé) and develops a crush on her local butcher (who bears a striking resemblance to Matt Dillon). Elizabeth finds that the deeper she immerses herself in the world of French cuisine, the more Paris itself begins to translate. French culture, she discovers, is not unlike a well-ripened cheese-there may be a crusty exterior, until you cut through to the melting, piquant heart.

Recommended Reading:
Paris, My Sweet by Amy Thomas
Every Day in Tuscany by Frances Mayes
C'est la Vie by Suzy Gershman
Tout Sweet by Karen Wheeler
Paris in Love by Eloisa James
Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert

Saturday, April 13, 2013


S.H.A.P.E.: Finding and Fulfilling Your Unique Purpose for LifeS.H.A.P.E.: Finding and Fulfilling Your Unique Purpose for Life by Erik E. Rees
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's hard to evaluate a self-help motivational book until you've seen the benefit in your own life. This book was hard to stick with as far as doing the homework part of it. Some of it is not geared towards certain personality types - it's a high energy, high relationship book, so if you're not that type of person it's hard to follow through on all of the assignments. I gave up about halfway through with the homework part. I did take quite a few things away from this book - the best way to serve God is to try. God needs to be a daily focus. We must live intentional lives. There were a lot of quotes in this book - both scripture and referencing other books - that have expanded my reading list for the future. This will be one I hang on to for when I feel my well running dry.

Synopsis: Rick Warren's bestselling book The Purpose Driven Life describes God's five purposes for every Christian. Now Erik Rees helps you discover God's unique purpose for your life based on the way God has shaped you. He made you marvelously unique for a reason. Tap into that reason and into the secrets of your own deeply personal makeup---the remarkable ensemble of passions, talents, experiences, temperament, and spiritual gifts that work together to make you who you are---and you'll discover the path to a life of unimagined purpose, impact, and fulfillment.In this eye-opening, empowering, and liberating book, Rees shows you how to uncover God's most powerful and effective means of advancing his kingdom on earth: your own irreplaceable, richly detailed personal design.

Based on the purpose of ministry outlined in The Purpose Driven Life, this inspiring guidebook gives you the tools to: Unlock your God-given potential Uncover your specific Kingdom Purpose Unfold a kingdom plan for your life Filled with Scripture and real-life stories, S.H.A.P.E. presents a series of challenges that will guide you through the process of discovering your personal blend of Spiritual Gifts: A set of special abilities that God has given you to share his love and serve others.Heart: The special passions God has given you so that you can glorify him on earth.Abilities: The set of talents God gave you when you were born, which he also wants you to use to make an impact for him.Personality: The special way God wired you to navigate life and fulfill your unique Kingdom Purpose.Experiences: Those parts of your past, both positive and painful, which God intends to use in great ways.

It's all here: insights that can change the way you look at yourself and how you live your life and practical guidance for applying them. Discover how to apply your amazing array of personal attributes in ways that bring confidence, freedom, clarity, and significance that can only come from your Creator.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Odd and the Frost Giants

Odd and the Frost GiantsOdd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A short story told with vividness and humor. I enjoyed reading this story, although I was confused with the reasoning that resolved the crisis. I would rate this a two for that reason, but this story made The Spawn and I both laugh outloud.

Synopsis: The winter isn't ending. Nobody knows why.
And Odd has run away from home, even though he can barely walk and has to use a crutch.
Out in the forest he encounters a bear, a fox, and an eagle - three creatures with a strange story to tell.
Now Odd is faced with a stranger journey than he had ever imagined.
A journey to save Asgard, City of the Norse Gods, from the Frost Giants who have invaded it.
It's going to take a very special kind of boy to defeat the most dangerous of all the Frost Giants and rescue the mighty Gods. Someone cheerful and infuriating and clever.
Someone just like Odd...

Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows

A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows (Outlander, #8.5)A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows by Diana Gabaldon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a great short story, although it left me aching and frustrated. I really wanted Roger to not be an orphan, to have his dad there somewhere. There is a reference in the story to Jamie and Roger (that I guess happened during An Echo in The Bone, but I've read that twice and can't place the event) which is a bittersweet reunion of sorts. This is a beautiful little bit of Outlander trivia.

Synopsis: Orphaned during World War II, Roger believed that his mother died during the London Blitz, and that his father, an RAF pilot, was killed in combat. But in An Echo in the Bone, Roger discovers that this may not be the whole story.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Haunting Jasmine

Haunting JasmineHaunting Jasmine by Anjali Banerjee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was not what I expected. (Now that I've finished the book, I'm not sure what I was expecting, actually.) I devoured this book in one day. It's like picking up a Sarah Addison Allen book - easy to read and a complete step away from reality. What I love about books like this is that they have all the realism of life with that little twist of magic that after the book is finished I think to myself, "That couldn't happen, but wouldn't it be great if it could!" This book is highly recommended for entertainment and enchantment.

Synopsis: A call from the past brings divorcee Jasmine Mistry home to Shelter Island to run her beloved aunt's bookstore, which has always been rumored to be haunted. With that knowledge, Jasmine embarks on a mystical journey, urged along by her quirky family, and guided by the highly emotional spirits of long-dead authors. Surprisingly, she finds herself moved to heal her broken heart when she falls unexpectedly in love with an enigmatic young stranger.

Recommended Reading:
Enchanting Lily by Anjali Banerjee
Dreaming in English by Laura Fitzgerald
Evenfall by Liz Michalski
Imaginary Men by Anjali Banerjee
Keys to the Castle by Donna Ball
The Reluctant Matchmaker by Shobhan Bantwal

Monday, March 25, 2013

Generation A

Generation AGeneration A by Douglas Coupland
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Queen Carly gave this book to The Captain who gave it to me... and I don't think I would have read this book on my own otherwise. Once I got used to the shifting first person perspectives and figured out who was who, I got into the story... and then it just got weird. I'm not really sure what the point was. If you're into sci-fi dystopian stories without a climax or motive, this might be the book for you.

Synopsis: In the near future bees are extinct — until one autumn when five people are stung in different places around the world. This shared experience unites them in a way they never could have imagined.

Generation A mirrors 1991’s Generation X. It explores new ways of looking at the act of reading and storytelling in a digital world.

Recommended Reading:
Player One by Douglas Coupland
Generation X by Douglas Coupland
Tell-All by Chuck Palahniuk
Hey Nostradamus! by Douglas Coupland
Point Omega by Don DeLillo

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

The Physick Book of Deliverance DaneThe Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It took a little bit for this story to warm up, but I was drawn to the characters right away. Once the author settled into the story and format the story went quickly. The ending wrapped up a bit too quickly, not enough drama or backstory to round out the ending completely, but it wasn't a bad ending. This was a quick but heavy read. Definitely one that entertained and left an impression.

Synopsis: Harvard graduate student Connie Goodwin needs to spend her summer doing research for her doctoral dissertation. But when her mother asks her to handle the sale of Connie's grandmother's abandoned home near Salem, she can't refuse. As she is drawn deeper into the mysteries of the family house, Connie discovers an ancient key within a seventeenth-century Bible. The key contains a yellowing fragment of parchment with a name written upon it: Deliverance Dane. This discovery launches Connie on a quest--to find out who this woman was and to unearth a rare artifact of singular power: a physick book, its pages a secret repository for lost knowledge.

As the pieces of Deliverance's harrowing story begin to fall into place, Connie is haunted by visions of the long-ago witch trials, and she begins to fear that she is more tied to Salem's dark past then she could have ever imagined.

Recommended Reading:
The House of Velvet and Glass by Katherine Howe
Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz
The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
The Witch's Daughter by Paula Brackston
Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3)Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Of the three books, this was by far my favorite. This had the dark psychological twists that I would expect from such a plot line. This one had characters that truly evolved. And honestly, I adore an author who is not afraid to sacrifice characters. The series finished up beyond my expectations.

Synopsis: Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she's made it out of the bloody arena alive, she's still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what's worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss's family, not her friends, not the people of District 12.

Recommended Reading:
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Inheritance by Christopher Paolini
Twelfth Grade Kills by Heather Brewer
The Necromancer by Michael Scott
City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

Friday, March 1, 2013

January and February Update

I seem to be over the reading slump I was in. In January I finished up a few books I had been reading since... well, before Thanksgiving. Then I decided that reading The Hunger Games Series would be exactly what I needed to get things moving off my TBR shelf. I wasn't wrong! It was also kind of fun to read something that The Spawn had read and spend our daily commute talking about. We even had a mom-son movie night so I could see the movie!

I didn't quite hold up to my end of the deal about not adding to my TBR shelf. Not only did I get a stack of books from my paperbackswap wishlist, but I bought two ebooks and a friend sent me another book. *sigh* at some point I will find my willpower.

Other news and trivia: I survived my 31st birthday. Okay, so my age is really more like two 18 year olds. I say I'm 31 and most people say "I would have said you were younger than that." I'm pretty sure they're talking about my maturity level and I'm wishing they were talking about how well I'm aging.

I've been obsessed with two websites lately:
Crunchy Betty
One Good Thing
I find myself more and more wanting to get away from toxins, food dyes and preservatives, and get more into the natural way of things. And then I remember my love of Cherry Coke and Ramen noodles. And I have blue hair! [best.transition.ever.] They're extensions, but they are blue and super fun. I adore them.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Letters to Elise

Letters to Elise: A Peter Townsend Novella (My Blood Approves, #4.5)Letters to Elise: A Peter Townsend Novella by Amanda Hocking
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

*uncompleted* I didn't realize when I bought this book that it was part of a series (and not even the first). Usually this isn't a problem, but as soon as I picked up this book, I could tell I was missing something. Something about this book just didn't work for me - the few pages that I read were overly dramatic, stylized writing. It just didn't appeal to me.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A Tree Grows in BrooklynA Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wasn't sure how I was going to review this book. It is slow paced, sometimes a very detailed, look at the poor in the early 1900's. Very fascinating if you can stick with that kind of reading. There wasn't a plot to this story, but there is foreshadowing of the climax. This book has a lot of emotional ups and downs. The ending kept it from being a five star book. I felt it was all very factual - possibly even biographical, until the last 30 pages. Then the story took on a rather fanciful, happy ever after too good to be true tone. Any truth the story may have had lost it's shinyness and left me unsatisfied. I recommend this book just for the historical merit.

Synopsis: The beloved American classic about a young girl's coming-of-age at the turn of the century, Betty Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a poignant and moving tale filled with compassion and cruelty, laughter and heartache, crowded with life and people and incident. The story of young, sensitive, and idealistic Francie Nolan and her bittersweet formative years in the slums of Williamsburg has enchanted and inspired millions of readers for more than sixty years. By turns overwhelming, sublime, heartbreaking, and uplifting, the daily experiences of the unforgettable Nolans are raw with honesty and tenderly threaded with family connectedness -- in a work of literary art that brilliantly captures a unique time and place as well as incredibly rich moments of universal experience.

Recommended Reading:
Wicked by Gregory Maguire
Giant by Edna Ferber
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
The Cider House Rules by John Irving
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Yogurt Fruit Dip

This dip went over great with both kids! It seemed to pair well with the sweeter fruits - grapes and red apples - so The Spawn has me on the hunt yet for a dip that will pair well with his favorite fruit: Granny Smith apples.

I think my dip turned out a little darker than it should have been because my banana was frozen.

1 cup plain yogurt [I used vanilla]
1/2 medium ripe banana
4 tsp honey
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
Assorted fruit for dipping

In a blender, combine all ingredients; cover and process until smooth.

Chill and serve with assorted fruit.

Recipe from Taste of Home Good Food Kids Love Oct 2006

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Catching Fire

Catching Fire (Hunger Games, #2)Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've had a few days to think about this book, and, well, I'm still confused. I don't know whether I love it or hate it. The first two-thirds of the book is a love story. Kind of. I was honestly surprised that The Spawn liked this book at all because... well, it made me want to gag. So then we get to the arena - Luh-hoved it! [and yes, I did say that with a sing-song voice.] Okay, so I'm still creeped out about the whole teenager killing teenager - or more accurately in this arena, people killing people - for sport. What made this for me is the characters. The way the author really made them shine. I thought this was going to be a five star for me, based on just the last third of the book... but then the last like, ten pages bottomed out. Just as quickly as my book high started, it ended. I have some reservations about starting the last book of the series so I'm distracting myself with other reads until I get the resolve to read it. I almost feel like I'm recovering from a bad break-up...

Synopsis: Katniss Everdeen survived the Hunger Games. Now the Capitol wants revenge.Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark are still alive. Katniss should be relieved, but now there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol -- a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.

As the nation watches Katniss and Peeta, the stakes are higher than ever. One false move and the consequences will be unimaginable.

Recommended Reading:
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Inheritance by Christopher Paolini
The Necromancer by Michael Scott
The Death Cure by James Dashner
City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Bright Young Things

Bright Young Things (Bright Young Things, #1)Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I love books set in the time frame between the World Wars. Such an interesting period in history. Clearly a lot of research went into the history setting of this novel. The writing was very good - great dialogue and descriptive construction. The plot was too coincidental for my liking and the time frame too short to make this believable. I did really enjoy this read though and will be picking up the next two books in the series in the near future.

Synopsis: The year is 1929. New York is ruled by the Bright Young Things: Flappers and socialites seeking thrills and chasing dreams in the anything-goes era of the Roaring Twenties.

Letty Larkspur and Cordelia Grey escaped their small Midwestern town for New York's glittering metropolis. All Letty wants is to see her name in lights, but she quickly discovers Manhattan is filled with pretty girls who will do anything to be a star....

Cordelia is searching for the father she's never known, a man as infamous for his wild parties as he is for his shadowy schemes. Overnight, she enters a world more thrilling and glamorous than she ever could have imagined — and more dangerous. It's a life anyone would kill for...and someone will.

The only person Cordelia can trust is ­Astrid Donal, a flapper who seems to have it all: money, looks, and the love of Cordelia's brother, Charlie. But Astrid's perfect veneer hides a score of family secrets.

Across the vast lawns of Long Island, in the ­illicit speakeasies of Manhattan, and on the blindingly lit stages of Broadway, the three girls' fortunes will rise and fall — together and apart.

Recommended Reading:
Beautiful Days by Anna Godbersen
The Lucky Ones by Anna Godbersen
Vixen by Jillian Larkin
Ingenue by Jillian Larkin
Sugar and Spice by Lauren Conrad
Belle of the Brawl by Lisi Harrison

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Whoa. I am disturbed by the plot of the story. For an adult book, yeah, but an YA book? I'm a little rattled about it. Otherwise, writing wasn't bad. There were some decent twists in the plot. Characters were interesting. Would have like to spent more time with some of them. The ending didn't surprise me, I had a 'Romeo and Juliet' feeling about the love story. I'm not sure I'm as thrilled about the series as The Spawn is (he's read the series twice over the course of a month). I'm not going to be rushing to finish up the series.

Synopsis: Winning means fame and fortune. Losing means certain death. The Hunger Games have begun...

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, the shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before--and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

Recommended Reading:
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
The Gift by James Patterson
The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore
The Magician by Michael Scott
The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

Monday, January 28, 2013

White Picket Prisons

White Picket PrisonsWhite Picket Prisons by Phil Taylor
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

The author is an acquaintance who asked me to review his book. If he hadn't asked me, I would have never wasted two weeks on something that obviously needs an author and an editor. There are so many things wrong with this "book" I don't even know where to start but for the benefit of the author, I'll try. There are serious POV issues within the sections. For example, in one section the story changes POV from first person character (Cooper) to third person secondary character (Chuck) which is fine until the POV cuts to first person all for the benefit of a not-so-witty commentary before flipping back to third person again. And then there's the tense - as in the story doesn't know if it's being told past tense or present tense as it seems to do alot of both depending if the author wants to impart a bit of foreshadowing or not. Poor grammar, weak jokes mostly based on homosexuality (which are not funny), sloppy writing, lazy characterizations, and a thin plot round out this book as a loser. The author's writing may be cute on his blog, but in novel format falls far short of being funny or readworthy. Don't waste your time on this self-published book, it's definitely not going anywhere.

Summary: Gooby, Chuck, Cliff and Cooper return to their old neighborhood for a funeral. For the first time they see the idyllic neighborhood of their childhood through the eyes of adults and what they discover challenges everything they thought they knew about themselves and each other. Our heroes are the guys next door, grown ups by day but the same stupid kids when they're together, humorously meeting adulthood and a murder mystery head on. The questions is not will they survive the bad guys, but will they survive each other?

Monday, January 21, 2013

The House at Riverton

The House at RivertonThe House at Riverton by Kate Morton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is exactly the kind of book that I love: gothic historical fiction. So many great books - Keeping The House, The Debutante, Water For Elephants - have followed this format and I loved them. Maybe it was because I read this one so closely to The Debutante (which I absolutely ADORED) that I instantly bonded with this book. It was only life (and simultaneously reading a Diana Gabaldon door stopper) that prevented me from reading this book quickly.

So... about the book... A great, tragic plot line. One of those where 80% of the main characters die during the story. Characterization was a little flat, but still worthy characters. The writing was a little bogged down by lengthy (and occasionally pointless) dialogue, but not poorly written. Overall I did feel that the book could have used a little less setup to get into real story and about two less subplots.

I have another book by this author on my shelf and I definitely look forward to reading it.

Synopsis: Grace Bradley went to work at Riverton House as a servant when she was just a girl, before the First World War. For years her life was inextricably tied up with the Hartford family, most particularly the two daughters, Hannah and Emmeline.

In the summer of 1924, at a glittering society party held at the House, a young poet shot himself. The only witnesses were Hannah and Emmeline, and only they—and Grace—know the truth.

The novel opens in 1999 when Grace is ninety-eight years old, living out her last days in a nursing home. She is visited by a young director who is making a film bout the events of that summer in 1924. She takes Grace back to Riverton House and reawakens her memories. Told in flashback, this is the story of Grace's youth suring the last days of Edwardian aristocratic privilege shattered by war, of the vibrant 1920s and of the changes she witnessed as an entire way of life vanished forever.
The novel is full of secrets—some revealed, others hidden forever.

Recommended Reading:
The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
The Boy in the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbol
The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli
The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman

An Echo in The Bone (Re-Read)

An Echo in the Bone (Outlander, #7)An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First Reading:
It's always hard to review a DG book. She packs so much into each story - the details amaze me! The book was amazing, to say the least. DG took the storyline in a different direction - we followed not only Claire and Jamie's perspectives, but also Brianna and Roger, and William (Jamie's illegitimate son) and John Grey. The book ended with a cliffhanger, but I am far from dissatisfied with the ending. If anything, I'll be counting the days until the next book is released.

Second Reading:
I'm holding to everything I said after the first read. Incredibly detailed. I loved it. It did take me a little longer to get going on this one (two months, anyone?) but once I really gave reading my full attention the pages flew by. A lot of reviews complain about "too much Brianna", but I love her and Roger Mac. The only thing that really caught me off guard was the sudden ending. I had forgotten that last chapter and how one turns the page, expecting MORE and it's just.not.there. And oddly, I didn't feel dissatisfied or unfinished when I realized it was done. (Which I guess I said in the first review as well.) I am so glad I re-read this book. Now I want to find the time to do the entire series again. Motivation for 2013? We shall see...