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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Musketeers (2014)

When it comes to swashbuckling adventures, I’m not sure modern cinema has anything better than Disney’s original Pirates of the Caribbean film starring Johnny Depp. Clearly, the British thought it’d be fun to challenge that. 
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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Ten Authors I Own The Most Books From

Happy Top Ten Tuesday, friends! Today's topic was interesting and gave me a chance to riffle through all of my bookshelves (like I need an excuse) and also let me look back over the many years of Christian fiction reading I've had. Oh, the memories, readers! I remember reading so many of these and if ever I get through all the books that I have yet to read - both for review purposes and also just because I own books I've never read, I'd love to revisit some of these (plus, read some that I haven't gotten to), many of which are "always" favorites.

Since there are a LOT Of books on today's list, I won't be individually linking to them through Goodreads, but I will give you the link for the authors Goodreads profile and hope that is helpful for today.

The Broke and the Bookish Topic today is:

Ten Authors I Own The Most Books From
Colleen Coble

Colleen is always a great read. I'm enjoying her summer-y Hope Beach novels and am looking forward to her historical series... someday.

For a girl who isn't all that fond of "western fiction," as a teen, I fell head over heels for Lori's fun western fiction - first with the Brides of the West, then her later Men of the Saddle books. If you like Mary Connealy, check into these - and I also just have to say, Now and Always is still one of my favorite contemporaries.

Love this authors suspense writing - and her last book, Trapped was exceptionally good.

It had been years since I read one of Robin's novels, though last year, I did read Beloved and am glad I did. It was sweet and reminded me how much I still love some of her classics, like, Speak to me of Love. Plus I have memories of reading Loving Libby (or Catching Katie) on my first (and only) trip to Alaska.

...and I'm excited to read her new contemporary series which launches this year.
My favorite from this author is her O'Malley series (Alaskan Courage fangirls, take note of these) and while, I've yet to read her newer Bethany House novels, I have to be honest, I'm skeptical.
This is one of the best authors in contemporary romance, though in what seems to be a trend for today's Top Ten Tuesday, I'm realizing that with exception to three books from this author, I've yet to read the books I own, penned by her. Hmm... that hardly seems right!
Okay, I'll fess up. I've only read TWO of Ronie's books, but I am sold and will for sure want to read more. My mother has read them all (not to mention, she's currently binge reading Ronie's newest Team Zulu novellas) and I've had respected blogging friends tell me to get on board, plus my own reading of Talon and Raptor 6 has convinced me, these are going to be good.
I also own Ronie's debut novel (e-book) as well as e-books of what is out in her Team Zulu novels.
This is the author who started it all, folks. Still remember reading her books on winter nights with the family, getting the words wrong because I didn't know how they were pronounced and being a giddy teen learning the movies were being made. This graphic isn't a fair representation of all the books I own by this wonderful author.

While the genre may not be "my thing" like it used to be, these are books I cannot easily part with.
This is an appropriate name to have on here considering Tracie just celebrated an awesome milestone. Excited to read some of these yet, though I think, overall the books I like most from Tracie are those she's co-authored, particularly the Broadmoor Legacy.
The talent that stems from this lady's pen amazes me. Seriously, she writes every genre and does it all so well. (In fact, don't let the graphic mislead you, I own more than just these from Susan.) I started with Deep Haven and am now back there with her latest Christiansen family series, and peeps, let me tell you... it's wonderful. Just finished her newest book and it's a must read.
Those are some of the authors I own the most books from. What about you?
Is there an author you'll buy any and all of their books? Is so, who is it and why?
Share any bookish comments below.
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Monday, July 28, 2014

Truth be Told by Carol Cox

About the Book:
Author: Carol Cox
Publisher: Bethany House
Source: Publisher Provided
Publication Date: 2014
Find the Review elsewhere:
Find the Book Elsewhere:
Genre: Fiction; Historical, Inspirational
Rating: 3 out of 5
Trying new authors always suggests there is some kind of “risk” involved. Either we’ll walk away with a beautiful new story to fill our minds for times to come and a new favorite pen to share about with friends or we come away disappointed. Whatever the case, sometimes the happy medium is just enjoying an easy story. This book, the third from Carol Cox’s Bethany House line of novels, introduces us to Amelia Wagner, a smart, opinionated daughter of a journalist father. Ever since her parent’s separation, Amelia has lived with her mother in the city, enjoying every advantage most society girls dream of. Only Amelia isn’t like most girls. She’d rather follow in her father’s footsteps and when she returns to Arizona to learn that her father is ill and soon after he dies, she decides to take up not just his mantle but also the story he was chasing about the Great Western company – a story that leads her straight into the path of Ben Stone, a “company man,” who has his own task to accomplish.
Considering I’d never read any of Carol’s books (I own her prior two), I thought it’d be fun to give one of her novels a shot. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t get interested in this one. It has a nice message and some of the morals it explores are interesting, there just didn’t seem to be the same kind of depth that most of its peers do. For starters the characters didn’t shine. Amelia has a moment in the beginning when she puts a young flirt in his place – something that instantly had me liking her and expecting a spunky girl, so the further I read into the story, the more I expected I’d be fond of her character only she never really become “real” beyond that point. Same goes for Ben. Sure, I liked him and respected him for respecting Amelia, but again, he never really “came off the page,” which is something we should search for and not unrealistically expect of a good novel.
What is interesting is the embedded message in this novel about searching for and following our convictions of truth no matter where it leads. In this, there was no disconnect, however the plot overshadowed the ability for the reader to connect with its protagonists. Amelia’s journey led her to the right place, which is nothing to undermine and while I have no intention of doing that, in some ways, the greatest of her strengths was also the overall downfall of the idea. With little time left in the story, there is some breath-catching will-they-or-won’t-they in determining if a dire situation will be resolved with a happier conclusion. There are some cute bits of banter including a consistently interrupted kiss. If you like the western genre or the popular, Mary Connealy, check into Truth be Told. It just may be the summer read you are looking for.
(Goodreads) Synopsis: When Amelia Wagner takes over the running of her father's newspaper in Granite Springs, Arizona, she vows to carry on the paper's commitment to reporting only the truth. But Amelia soon learns that even the truth can have consequences. Her father's revealing articles about Great Western Investment Company's business methods have caught the notice of the wrong person, and pressure mounts for Amelia to retract her father's statements.

Determined to find the truth, Amelia goes through her father's notes and begins to interview members of the community. She can't seem to shake Benjamin Stone, a Great Western employee who's been assigned to keep tabs on her for the good of the company.

The more Ben and Amelia learn, the more Amelia's father's claims appear to be accurate. In fact, it's probably worse than he realized. Even Ben is beginning to wonder if he's become a pawn in the workings of a corrupt empire. But Great Western isn't about to stand for a female reporter and one of their own men bringing down their lucrative schemes. Working against time, and never knowing what danger lurks around the next corner, Ben and Amelia set out to reveal all they've discovered before Great Western silences them for good.
Sincere thanks to the publisher for providing a complimentary copy of this book for reviewing purposes.
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Friday, July 25, 2014

A Table by the Window by Hillary Manton Lodge - Food, Family and Faith

About the Book:
Publisher: WaterBrook Press 
Source: Publisher provided via Blogging for Books
Publication Date: 2014
Find the Review elsewhere:
Find the Book Elsewhere:
Series: A Table for Two (or Two Blue Doors), book 1
Genre: Fiction; Contemporary
Rating: ★★★★★
Some novel beginnings are humble and quiet, expanding from where they start, kind of like a warm loaf of fresh, homemade bread has to first grow and expand before it can be baked, so goes this stories opening. This is an apropos reference considering this novel is actually, primarily about food – eating food, creating food, and us living vicariously through the lives - and food! - of the people behind those concoctions. It’s leading, first-person narrative is Juliette D’Alisa, the youngest child of six in a French-Italian family who comes from a two-parent restaurant family. Juliette – or Etta as she is sometimes called, is now a food critic following a failed restaurant she was a part of with her brother and his friend, Eric, a man who was once more to Juliette. Now, years later, her brother Nico is planning to start a new restaurant and he wants Juliette to be a part of it, only trouble is, her life has just gotten more complicated – she’s taking on more work responsibilities and as luck would have it, she’s met a guy who could maybe – just maybe, be the one she’s been waiting for.

Despite my pickiness about the whole first person narrative, this is one I didn’t mind being written as such. Add in some letters (emails do count) and a fun-loving family, and you’re pretty much guaranteed a lovely 200+ page novel. First things first, I liked that this novel kept things short and sweet. The book was long enough, but not overlong, which is perfect because it used its space wisely and didn’t ever seem to be moving too fast even with the pages using parts of its ending chapters to share recipes; in fact, if any pacing issue is mentionable, it would be that it lags in the beginning, which is really the only complaint I have – it’s minor, believe me. Beyond that, this book is gorgeous. There is something complexly “different” about it that causes us to sit up and take notice - this is one of those stories where we find beauty in the norm and quiet of what it has to say. The romance is “barely there” in terms of being “present” or maybe the better description would be that we don’t get a lot of face to face time between the two, yet what is was elegant and developed with class and where I’m concerned it didn’t hurt a thing that most of the defining moments happen through letters – what can I say, I’m an old-fashioned romantic sometimes – and of course, when we do have the pleasure of meeting the guy through Juliette’s eyes, we instantly fall for him because, well, he’s pretty awesome and then that ending… (happy) sigh.

Considering this is a series that is going to stick with Juliette as its continuing protagonist (instead of the usual three-book series about differing characters), there are unresolved issues in this book. One being, her romantic future, another being certain family tragedies that occur, then there is her work – is the restaurant going to work or will Juliette find a new passion on her journey? So many questions are left hanging in the air and yet, even not knowing much about Hillary’s pen, I’ve a good feeling that in her hands, Juliette will get the best possible story a girl could ever want – that and plenty of food.

Synopsis: The youngest heir to a French-Italian restaurant dynasty, food writer Juliette D’Alisa has spent her life negotiating her skill with words and her restaurant aspirations. When her brother Nico offers her a chance to open a restaurant together, she feels torn—does she really have what it takes? Should she risk leaving her journalism career?

After the death of her grandmother, Juliette discovers an antique photograph of a man who looks strikingly like her brother. As the truth behind the picture reveals romance and dark secrets, Juliette struggles to keep the mystery away from her nosy family until she can uncover the whole story.

Inspired by her grandmother’s evolving story, Juliette resolves to explore the world of online dating. To her surprise, she finds a kindred spirit in Neil McLaren, a handsome immunologist based in Memphis, Tennessee. With a long-distance relationship simmering, Juliette faces life-shifting decisions. How can she possibly choose between a promising culinary life and Neil, a man a world away in more ways than one? And is it possible her Grandmother’s story can help show the way?
- Goodreads

Coming Next from Hillary Manton Lodge: Reservations for Two, arrives in 2015.

Sincere thanks to the publisher (Blogging for Books) for providing a complimentary copy of this book for reviewing purposes.
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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Cover Love + New Stories

Morning, friends. I really should be sharing with you all about some AWESOME new books I read - including Susan May Warren's latest as well as the lovely Hillary Manton Lodge's, but well, one I have to hold off on until it's posted elsewhere and the other... well, I'm not quite happy with the review yet. But since I've done almost nothing around here except review things, I figured it was time for something else. This leads me to that something else I love talking about almost as much (or maybe more) as what's inside the book: the cover art!

Some of today's features don't have cover art, but their plots are out there for the world, others I have seen the cover art popping up here and there, but don't think the author has put it up on Facebook nor has it appeared on Amazon (which usually seems a good judge of whether or not a cover is "officially" introduced to the world), so I didn't collect those, then there are some that have covers, but oddly enough don't have their synopsis' out yet. Hmm...

Anyway, I found some pretties thanks to author reveals, Goodreads or Amazon and if you aren't bored with having seen some of these around already, let me know what you think of these!
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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (2013)

The Mortal Instruments City of Bones

Considering this blog’s content has turned into a series of mushy TV films with the occasional book review, I figured, lest you readers get tired - and this blog would fall into a puddle, of reading all that’s “darling” in the world of filmmaking, it might be time to shake things up a bit. This brings me to our film review of the day, The Mortal Instruments.

Clary (Lily Collins) is an ordinary girl living with her mother in New York. Or so she thought. Her artistic abilities are intensifying and terrified she’ll remember something her mother (Lena Headey) puts a cap on Clary’s memories and puts off telling Clary the truth of her birth against the better advice of her best friend. All of that changes when Clary along with best friend, Simon (Robert Sheehan) sneak into a club and instead of dancing, she witnesses a murder by three young people covered in markings is committed right in front of her – a scene she seems the only witness to. This makes Clary desperate to know the truth of herself – why is she seeing what no one else can? What do her desperate drawings mean that she doesn’t even remembering doing?  

When her mother is kidnapped, she is forced to team up with the man who she saw commit murder, his name is Jace (Jamie Campbell Bower). Jace is a Shadowhunter, a person committed to saving the world from daemons, and Clary suddenly seems to be in the same line when she gets “the sight,” but at what cost is her embracing of her newly found powers going to demand? And what does her mother’s disappearance have to do with a past Clary cannot remember…? 

One of the biggest trends at the box office in recent years is adapting popular novels – particularly in the YA genre. Some work, others don’t. With this young adult novel, there were mixed results. For my part, I found it to be about a dark, depraved world that while, full of great imagery, seemed to be a little too focused on the bad rather than the good. Overlooking all of the themes that are disturbing or go against what Christianity believes, this film is in its own way, exceptional. There was a lot of creative thinking that went into its production and I can never fault something for being “different” – I’m the girl who fell head over heels for the charms of Penelope or Warm Bodies, so sometimes it’s the unusual that gets me most intrigued. That is certainly the mold that fits this adaptation. Prior to the film’s release, the buzz of it inspired me to purchase the book and while I did page through it – reading the synopsis, the various notes or reading on-line articles, I never felt it a pressing matter to actually read the novel, and having seen the film, I don’t really regret never reading the book. What is potentially troubling pales in comparison to some of the themes in the novel and while, it can be a better experience to read the book-to-film order, I trust in the opinions of the people I’ve had this conversation with. 

Some of the things that were interesting about this film were the creative vision behind bringing the story to life. I watched the making-of feature that featured author, Cassandra Clare who seemed a genuine advocate of the filmmaking vision of her story. That alone brooks encouragement and even as someone who hasn’t read the novel, I can appreciate the visionary. First off, the characters were intricately written with not just some cool character traits but also a cool “look.” Everyone had their own style, and were dark and brooding or normal and relatable in equal parts. Where the Shadowhunters proved the former, Clary and Simon were the center, the two people who were a normal the viewers could relate to – particularly Simon whom I absolutely loved. His character is a big reason this film works as well as it does, because he lends much needed realism to the overview.  

A flop at the box office has pushed back production on the sequel and while there were things I liked about this production – all of which I’ve noted already, it’s hard to understand purely from a cinematic standpoint why this one was so… “blah.” It’s got nearly everything there needs to be to be a balm to even the most ardent fangirl’s heart. But then, perhaps that’s why it was such a disappointment – there can be danger in too much mayhem, and if there is one thing this film does well, it’s mayhem. 
Content: the PG13 material in this includes demons and a “sacred” cup that is supposed to transform people into the half-human/half-angel supernatural. There is plenty of violence and scenes of frightening creatures that transform from their human form into werewolves, or other creatures of the night. Vampires play a role as do warlocks. There is some inference of homosexuality; Clary and Jace kiss and are later told they’re siblings. There are some additional innuendoes. H*ll, da*n, etc. are used.)
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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Top Ten Characters + a Deserted Island

I'll confess. Today's Top Ten Tuesday wasn't as easy as I thought. First things first, no matter the company, I don't want to be stuck on a deserted island - um, no! Secondly, I had this idea that I'd be able to put this one together easier than possibly any of my other posts, alas, I had to think about (some) of these characters and even when I'm done, I'm left wondering, "why did I chose..." *sigh* Then, instead of sticking with only books, I did branch out with some movie or television characters.
This is just the life of a book addict... right?? Please, tell me I'm not alone here.
Anyway. Moving on.  

Top Ten Characters I Would Want With Me On A Deserted Island
(pick based on however you want...skills they would bring, their company...or pure hotness factor :P)
Characters pictured:
Auggie Anderson (from Covert Affairs)
Auggie is awesome. Seriously, I love him, plus he's got computer skills.
Never know, that could come in handy.
the Doctor (from Doctor Who)
I. Love. This. Dude.
Plus, hello, he has the TARDIS. How convenient might that be??
Katniss Everdeen (from The Hunger Games)
Much as I take "issue" with this girl's ability to make a decision and stick with it (when it comes to matters of the heart), it cannot be denied she has skills.
She knows how to fight and survive; when it comes down to it, I'd want her on my team.
Cole McKenna (from Submerged)
Cole is awesome. I'm not sure how much I can gush about him. He's probably my favorite McKenna guy and like Katniss, he knows how to take care of himself.

Oliver McQueen (from CW's Arrow)
Yep. Is there really an explanation needed for this guy... I didn't think so.
Amy Pond (from Doctor Who)
Amy's whip smart plus she's just fun. If she were a real person, she'd be the BEST fun to hang out with, hence, I'd want her on that deserted island.
Phryne and Jack (from ITV's Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries)
Why did I throw these two on here? I've no idea except that I wouldn't mind the chance to see them in person... because, you know, they're darling together - and Jack should just KISS her already.
Beckett Rush (from There You'll Find Me)
It's been far too long since I read this novel, but I was reminded of Beckett's awesomeness when I saw Jenny's character spotlight which described him as a young Chris Hemsworth. *swoon*
Translation: he's cute.
Don't judge.
Mia Thermopolis (from The Princess Diaries)
Pretty sure I'll stick with liking movie Mia over book Mia, because well, she's cool in the film - and that's a legit reason... right?
America Singer (from The Selection)
Honestly, I have NO idea what thought I was operating under when sticking this girl on the list, but... I suppose if she were to bring her closet along with her, I wouldn't care if she came along. Even if we were on a deserted island, who wouldn't love the chance to wear one of these dresses?

It's your turn, readers!

Which characters would you pack up with you. For fun? For practicality? For any reason at all...

Do share.
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Friday, July 18, 2014

The Memory Book (2014) - Two Love Stories Collide

This telefilm snagged my attention for two reasons. First, it was a part of a favorite networks 2014 lineup and secondly, it starred a familiar face, a Once Upon a Time alum who enjoyed a recurring role and grew to be a fan favorite. When I had the chance to see it, I didn’t hesitate – in fact, I took extra time to see it. 

Life for Chloe Sullivan (Meghan Ory) is safe. She isn’t the kind of girl who buys into love that lasts forever – it’s reflected in her bad upbringing and in her photographs. Instead of finding joy in people, Chloe views the world more bleakly and captures stone structures rather than happy expressions… all of which is before she meets Gabe (Luke Macfarlane). A lawyer-turned-bartender-turned-wannabe-chef, Gabe is the kind of guy who likes to live life – and not just safely, but actually take chances, calling it just as he sees it, which is what makes him unattractive to Chloe and her irresistible to him. When Chloe finds an old scrapbook full of the kind of memories she wants – the kind of love she wants, her journey to find the owners puts her again in the path of Gabe and whether she likes it or not, the guy gets under her skin… she’s just not so sure about her heart.   

Every once in a while a TV film comes along that separates itself from the rest of the pack and for me that was this movie. Sure, it’s still a happy-go-lucky “cute” dish of happy circumstances, but it’s a non-blockbuster, Saturday-night-staying-in kind of flick that “has style.” On occasion (rare though it was), the conviction with which Chloe searched for the people in the memory book does come off as a tiny bit off-putting. Not because it isn’t admirable or because it doesn’t make for a charming story, more because even knowing who she is, we wonder why she has to piece the riddle together in order to justify what the outcome of her love life could be vs. what it will (in her mind) be. Aside from this minor complaint, I really cannot think of anything else. The writing is snappy and oh my, the leading couple…!  

From the moment we see the “meet cute” between these two, I was already grinning silly and easily knew this was going to be my kind of movie. Peeps, the banter between these two is darling. Or maybe it’s just the “natural” ebb and flow of their dialogue or could it be that for once both leading roles were filled to perfection? I don’t know what it was, honestly. Whatever, it was a ton of fun to experience and something that is hard not to get caught up in because of it. Beyond that, there is a nice story running parallel to Chloe and Gabe’s that works nicely with the “bigger picture” of the script – and is also concluded to everyone’s satisfaction. 

The acting is good as I have already alluded to in my earlier gushing and there are a couple of big name superstars from the past that will pop up. Filming isn't half bad and whatever is said (as regards her character), I liked Chloe’s work. Seeing her views of life through the lens was a cool, artistic addition that works seamlessly into the plot. If you like Nicholas Sparks-esque stories (albeit ones that take a lighter approach to romance) or movie’s that have a “complete package” kind of ending, be sure to tune into this all-new premiere. It’s easily one of my favorite chick flicks of this year.  

If you watch this or have seen it, I’d love to hear your thoughts. The comment section is yours. 

Photos: Hallmark / Crown Media Press
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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Woman of Fortune by Kellie Coates Gilbert

Synopsis: Texas socialite Claire Massey is living the dream. Her world is filled with designer clothes, luxury cars, and stunning homes. But her Neiman-Marcus lifestyle comes crashing down when her charming cattle broker husband is arrested for fraud. Suddenly, she finds herself facing attorneys, a media frenzy, and a trail of broken hearts. Betrayed and humiliated, Claire must start over against incredible odds to save her family–and discover a life worth living.

Poignant and emotionally gripping, A Woman of Fortune reveals the many ways we deceive ourselves and how resilience of the heart is essential to authentic living. Drawing on her experiences as a legal investigator, author Kellie Coates Gilbert delivers emotionally gripping plots and authentic characters. Readers will love Claire’s unbending determination as she strives to keep her family from falling apart and learns to embrace the kind of fortune that lasts. - Goodreads
About the Book:
Publisher: Revell Books
Source: Publisher Provided
Publication Date: 2014
Find the Review elsewhere:
Amazon  Goodreads Life Is StoryNovel Crossing ▪ Wordpress
Find the Book Elsewhere:
Amazon Barnes & Noble  Goodreads
Series: Texas Gold, book 1
Genre: Fiction; Women’s Fiction, Inspirational Contemporary
Rating: 3 out of 5
There are some books that are written beautifully, have a wonderful pay-off and feature a cast of characters searching for something beyond what they have enjoyed in a material world, which A Woman of Fortune is. Then there are those books that no matter their strong points, they just don’t connect with their reader. For me, that was this novel. It tells the story of the wealthy Massey family. Its matriarch is Claire Massey, who has built a good life for herself and three adult children with the love of her husband, Tuck at her side. On the eve of more success for the family – daughter, Lanie is about to start on a journey of being a young, promising senator’s wife, Tuck is led away in handcuff’s accused of a white collar scheme, the charges mount up against him, including wire fraud, leaving Claire feeling betrayed. Unsure where this leaves her marriage, Claire is left to pick up the pieces of her fractured life and try to hold her family together.  

To be honest, many of the moving pieces worked well. There were some interesting twists and I liked the intimate, inner struggle of the three POV’s – Claire, Lainie and Max. But, that notwithstanding, there wasn’t really anything that I related to in this story – I couldn’t understand some of the reactions and didn’t respect many of the choices the characters made. For me, Christianity wasn’t a big enough force for the decision that eventually put to rest its leading character’s doubts nor to be an impact that ties into the forgiveness payoff. Up until then, Claire’s reactions and life revolved around how the worldwide scandal her family became would affect her kids (understandably so) and how she’d be able to pick up and move on – without a skill or financial means to survive. There is a wild, reckless side of Lainie stemming from being rejected and this ended up being distracting. Then there is Max, who I actually would have liked to have gotten to know better because his character was the one who most changed, and in a novel that tears apart a family’s world, that’s what a reader wants to see emerge by the end of such a story as this is.

Thanks to her skills as a legal investigator, Coates storytelling is excellent. She writes with a skilled hand to create a world that I did admittedly love! Since most the stories I read tend towards the simpler lifestyle, there was a sense of carefree spontaneity in getting immersed in a wealthy world – one that the people in it didn’t have to worry over their shoes matching because they had “people” for that or could throw a lavish party that drew in Texas royalty. Because of this, the book draws its reader in – leaving us curious over a world we can touch though rarely are a part of. When all is said and done, it was freeing to experience the change in one character which perhaps, excuses all the tepid feelings the rest of this family stirred in me. Part of me eagerly wanted to get behind Claire and another believed that her choices didn’t have that one moment of clarity that seemed appropriate, nor an ending to pair with in, and in my opinion, that lessened what otherwise could have been a genuinely great novel.  

If you enjoy women’s fiction, then A Woman of Fortune (the first novel in a new series) is something worth looking into for that summer reading pile. Provided you're like me, and have one. *wink*  

My apologies to the publisher and author for the delay in this review.

Note: there are some minor descriptions of intimacy between a husband and wife, as well as conversation that reveals unmarried 20-somethings are engaging in unhealthy romantic relationships.  

Coming Next from Kellie Coates Gilbert: Following in her estranged father's footsteps, Dr. Juliet Ryan has devoted her scientific acumen to corporate America, providing safe drinking water for millions--and affording her plenty of perks along the way. Then, without warning, a fast-moving disaster sweeps Juliet into a whirlpool of corporate scandal and puts lives at risk. As she scrambles to find answers, Juliet must face her deepest wounds and join forces with her father to expose a far-reaching conspiracy. Underneath it all, she struggles to forgive those who betrayed her trust--not least of all her own father. - Feburary 2015, Goodreads

Take a look at this book video featuring Kellie chatting about her new novel.

Sincere thanks to the publisher for providing a complimentary copy of this book for reviewing purposes.
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Cedar Cove, Season Two (2014)

About the Show:
Network: Hallmark Channel

Reviewed: Episodes 1 – 3

Letting Go, Part 1
Letting Go, Part 2
Relations and Relationships, Part 1

Among all of the darker themes in crime dramas and darkness in general in today’s pop culture, sometimes it’s nice to find “light.” The first of Hallmark Channel’s original series, I have to say, I’m pretty sure I found a new guilty pleasure for summer time TV watching – one that won’t leave more conservative viewers reaching for the remote.  
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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Top Ten Favorite TV Shows

Morning and happy Top Ten Tuesday. I say this every week, but seriously, this week is again another fun Top Ten Tuesday. This go round, the ladies are having us take a step back from all things books and asked us compile a list of favorite stories other than well, books. I was going to do half films and half TV shows, then decided to stick with television considering I probably talk more about movies on here than I do television shows... or maybe not. Either way, I had fun with this topic and hope you enjoy looking over it.

Let's talk about other types of stories! Top Ten Favorite Movies or TV Shows!
 (can break it down to top ten favorite romance movies or comedy shows etc. etc.)
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Friday, July 11, 2014

Banner 4th of July (2013)

When there's a good story to be told, I confess, I like familial dramas. Sometimes the reasons behind the rivalry that keeps a family – or in this case, more specifically, siblings apart, is  actually a good enough reason (we all know sometimes the reasons can be exaggerated at times) and with this one, I bought it, which makes this sweet, festive TV film a nice rainy night sort of movie to curl up with. 

The Banner siblings once had the world at their fingertips. Their one-night show, playing at their town’s annual fourth of July festivities placed them in the spotlight as superstars, which meant the greater part of their teenage years were spent along with their manager parents on the road, playing shows, signing autographs, making records and being anything but invisible. Now, years later, everything is different. Mitchell Banner (Christian Campbell) is finally calling his sister… only he isn’t contacting Desiree (Brooke White) by choice, instead it’s on behalf of their older brother, Johnny (Michael Barbuto), who is still living in their small hometown and has the bad news that their mother, Rosalind (Mercedes Ruehl), has had a heart attack and it’s time for everyone to come home. If only it were that simple…

There are some especially great moments in this film. I got it a couple weeks prior to the July 4th holiday, kind of forgot I had it and conveniently wound up watching it right before watching the sky lighting up with fireworks. Needless to say, it was the perfect 90 minute piece of entertainment to cap off a good holiday. I like a lot about it, not the least of which is the sibling interactions. Sometimes the acting does come across a tiny bit stilted, though overall, it seemed a “natural” progression of events, feelings and resentment for the other person – usually because no one wants to take the blame for the reasons why they don’t speak any more.   

TV MOVIE REVIEW | When Sparks Fly (2014)

Banner 4th of July Hallmark

As a family film, this title (which is also known as Star Spangled Banners) is really good for its status. Some viewers may be disappointed in the reason why they are brought back – or more appropriately, the method they are reunited, but I guess, I’m a believer in overlooking something that is done out of love for the good of others. Not only will fans of Hallmark probably enjoy this, music lovers should enjoy this one as well. There are some cool songs that fit the story and best of all, they are written and recorded by the stars which is cool and always seems to lend authenticity to the production.

In addition to the main cast, consisting of a country music singer (White), there is also a cute subplot involving a character named Savannah, who is played by Kristin Booth, and any diehard fan will recognize her name from Signed, Sealed, Delivered. She plays a sassy local though the hair color may throw you in the beginning, be sure to note her role, because it’s fun to see her in a different setting. Anyone looking for Hallmark’s signature “romantic comedy” status quo will be disappointed as that focus shifts to let the siblings and the healing of their relationship take center stage. For this type of story, I liked that. It was better and allowed us to read into what the future would hold without feeling like anything was being “rushed.” Plus, the ending was darling – and proof that not all of the people who move away make decisions to suddenly leave behind their big-city life (like, is that a crime??) to move home. Independence Day may have come and gone for 2014, but let’s face it, it’s never out of season to celebrate America.

Interested? Find the film on Amazon Instant Video

Photos: Hallmark Channel
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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Gathering Shadows by Nancy Mehl

About the Book:
Author: Nancy Mehl
Publisher: Bethany House
Source: Publisher Provided
Publication Date: 2014
Find the Review elsewhere:
Find the Book Elsewhere:
Series: Finding Sanctuary, book 1
Genre: Fiction; Mystery, Contemporary
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
If the genre of a new-to-me-author is one that appeals, I’m all for the “adventure” of trying that new author. Nancy Mehl is an author who has had a slew of books to her name already, though none of those have found a way onto my reading list. After my mom talked about this one from an ad in the back of another Bethany House book, I happened to get an email about this one and one accidental click of the mouse later and I had this one in my mailbox. That’s my story, the actual novel goes like this. Wynter Evans has built an entire life reimagining herself. She no longer wants to be the teenage girl who lost her brother to a kidnapping that made national headlines, and is now working as a journalist at a station where she rarely has any contact with her stern father – a father who fell apart after his son’s disappearance. Thanks to her curious nature, Wynter happens to spy a photo of a young Mennonite man who resembles her brother and convincing her boss to let her and a photog, Zac do a story on the Mennonite, Wynter sets off for the small town of Sanctuary and its people – including her kindly landlady, Esther and the handsome mayor, Rueben – determined she won’t leave without returning with Ryan.

When you’re used to a certain kind of mystery novel, sometimes adjusting to a new premise is hard. That’s what I found in Gathering Shadows. First off, the prose is first person which is never a favorite (mainly because I rarely, if ever feel connected or as if I can get to know the other characters – and that is especially accurate of this book) and secondly, the premise is much “easier” to read than most in its genre. The first half of the book relies on a years old kidnapping and slowly builds up to the mystery that surrounds a sudden murder. I cannot say that I didn’t like the book because I did, it simply took me a while to correct my idea of what the story would be against what it actually was. And as with all books, there were things I liked about this one. First, the interesting relationship between Wynter and Zac is one of the best things; at first, they were definitely more colleagues who didn’t seem to care they were on a story together beyond the fact of each doing their respective jobs. That shifts at some point and leads to a strong, good kind of friendship that all too often a reader will crave in a book. The reason for this is because the romance takes up the better part of the story, as it should do if that is what the book is primarily about. 
Those of us who love a good mystery with plenty of romance will feel let down. The boy-girl meet-cute isn’t anything near the same level of chemistry as some of its peers, although I don’t mean this as a gripe (aside from the ending coming across a bit too “neat” or more unrealistic than average) because, seriously, it’s refreshing now and again to read something that puts its heroine’s (or whoever its leading character is) emotional health above jumping into something more than friendship. In this, I think most readers will find that to be a truth. Everything  is wrapped up, and we get the answers to the mystery, however as a parting caution, you might not get the same sense of satisfaction with this ending. I didn’t mind it, but if you like to be able to experience the fullest intricacies of the story – in this sense, some of us may not feel like what the entire book was about is totally examined by the end of the story just because time is cut short – then this might not be a book you’ll enjoy. If you like mysteries that aren’t all about reading with the light on (I loved that the danger of this book wasn’t elongated – there was a bad situation that started in one chapter and was over by the beginning of the next), then be sure to look into Gathering Shadows.

Note: my sincere apologies to the publisher and the author for the delay in reviewing this book.

Synopsis: Wynter Evans is a promising young reporter for a television station in St. Louis, but even a bright future doesn't take away her pain over the disappearance of her brother nine years ago. So when she stumbles across a photograph of a boy with an eerie resemblance to him, she can't pass up the chance to track him down. With research for work as her cover, she sets out with one of the station's photogs for the place where the picture was taken: the town of Sanctuary.

Almost as soon as she arrives, she meets the town's handsome young mayor, Rueben King, and together they begin to uncover long held secrets that could tear the small town apart and change everything Wynter thought she knew about her life. As the truth of her family's past hides in the shadows, it's clear someone will stop at nothing to keep the answers she's searching for hidden forever--even if the cost is Wynter's very life. - Goodreads

Coming Next from Nancy Mehl: After years of upheaval, Sarah Miller's life is finally settled with all echoes of the past stilled and silent at last. She spends her time teaching the children of Sanctuary, a town she is happy to call home.

When the sister Sarah hasn't seen in years reappears, it stirs up hard memories of the past and their parents' murder. Even so, Sarah's joy at being reunited with Hannah and meeting the niece she didn't know she had is too soon interrupted when Deputy Sheriff Paul Gleason informs Sarah her sister has been killed.

As Sarah learns more about Hannah's death, the circumstances seem eerily similar to her parents' death. She enlists Paul's help in digging deeper into these murders the police are dismissing as burglaries gone wrong. Paul's concern encourages Sarah's growing feelings for him, but as their investigation peels back the layers of lies almost twenty years old, they get close to uncovering the truth one man will do anything to hide--even if he must do away with the last remaining members of the Miller family. February 2015 - Goodreads

Sincere thanks to the publisher for providing a complimentary copy of this book for reviewing purposes.
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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Blogging Confessions

Originally, I wasn't going to take part in this week's Top Ten Tuesday merely because I wasn't sure I had the extra time to get it put together. I changed my mind and wound up putting something quick together and as always, this weeks topic is fun.

Hosted by the Broke and the Bookish, this week's topic is:
Top Ten Blogging Confessions
I didn't manage to come up with ten blogging confessions, but there are enough to make an entry.
Authors. Since I've started blogging, I've been able to "meet" many authors and it's been an honor to have opportunity to not only review their novels but also to be able to converse with them. Despite their busy schedules, they always seem willing to chat with you or answer a question, which is not only kind, cool and all that jazz, but also a fun way to learn more about the reasons behind their story.

Dashboard. Okay, I'll confess. I am lost without Blogger's "dashboard" (or reader...?). It's pretty
much my best friend when it comes to reading friend's blogs because it's how I see when someone put up a new entry. Recently it was down and it just so happened that I'd been away from Blogger/Twitter for a few days, which meant I was in the "catch up" mode and wanting to see all the newsy stuff, instead I was left with, what awesomeness am I missing?? Fortunately, it was up the following day. Crisis averted.

Design. One of the best things about blogging is its design capabilities. They're open-ended for anyone who knows their CSS/HTML coding and while those two entities are a villain to me, I love the chance to teach myself how to work around standard templates. Part of the process is going wild with designs, and Blogger, specifically is open to that.
I Heart Blogging. In a nutshell, this is all a girl can say about blogging. It's not only a fun place to hang out if you've found a "niche" or a community who makes it pleasant, it's a great way for anyone who loves to write to work on their favorite hobby and make some fun new memories as well as blogging friends.

Making Recommendations. I'll confess (after all, that is the theme of this, right??), when someone tells me they bought/rented/read something on my recommendation, I am a tiny bit nervous. I know that all comes with the blogging territory, but I suppose, maybe when I'm writing my reviews, I'm thinking more of what I respected, loved, enjoyed about the book instead of "who else would love this?"

How about you?

New Finds. In my experience, blogging is really a community. It's a place where you can chose whose blogs you most frequent and because of that, whenever you find a new blog that is maybe the "one" you've been looking for or a new book recommendation that blows you away, well, that's a happy day indeed.

Planning. The fact that there is the option to "schedule" posts makes me very happy. I appreciate not having to rush to publish something (unless I chose too) and being able to have blog posts planned out weeks in advance if I wanted. I never do because, well, I'm unorganized, though there are times when I have Top Ten Tuesday ready weeks in advance or when I'm thinking about what to post for the next couple of weeks, and that is an aspect of blogging I do appreciate.

Replying to Blog Comments. Replying to comments is one of the best things about blogging in my estimation. I enjoy everything about it even if it is a bit more time consuming, it's a "rule" for my blogging. It's been a joy to meet and converse with so many people who share similar opinions.

...and then there is You. It's not a confession per say, but I do have to say this. Without you, the readers, friends, bloggers I admire, this blog wouldn't be what it is. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of that journey. You're awesome. 

That's all of the "confessions" I could think of. Such as they are, and yes, I realize most of them weren't really confessions. We now reach another conclusion to another Top Ten Tuesday meme.
What about you?
What are some of your blogging confessions? 
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