Friday, January 30, 2015

Reading Challenge

Dear Readers,

I have taken a reading challenge this year.  Last year there was the challenge to fill an empty shelf with the books you read in 2014.  I didn't really do that one as I can easily do that each year because of the job I have. 

This year's challenge that I have taken is a bit different and one I gladly shared with several of the readers I know.  Because of some of the ideas they offer I thought it would give us readers a chance to expand on what we normally read.

I challenged my sister, two daughter and a daughter in law along with my bookclub to join the fun.  It was interesting to see who complained about which one of the challenges. (I will list them below)  My youngest daughter was not excited to see the "Read a book that is in a genre you don't normally read."  Of course I pointed out that doesn't mean she had to read a romance, that made her a little more excited about it. 

My sister was worried about reading a book over 500 pages long.  I didn't think that would be a problem if the book is good enough, but then again I usually read one or two books over 500 pages each year. 

My problem?  I will have a hard time finding a book that will make me cry.  I am not sure if the challenge means tear up or actually cry tears.  I just don't end up crying over a book.  Hmmm I wonder if any of you have any recommendations on that. 

So are you up for a challenge.  Join the fun and lets see how many different titles we can get on our lists.

Happy Reading,

2015 Reading Challenge
Read a book that ...

-Takes place in your state or country
-Makes you cry
-You loved as a child
-Your best friend recommends
-has a great cover
-Features someone who shares your eye color
-Is over 500 pages long
-Is written by an author you have never heard of
-Is in a genre you don't normally read
-Has a child main character
-Takes place in you favorite time period
-begins a series
-was made into a movie
-Reminds you of someone you love
-includes a Christmas scene
-Is a classic you've never read.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Lisa Samson

Dear Readers,

Lisa Samson writes books that everyone should be reading.  There is nothing about them that makes them completely inspirational, but they are uplifting.  Her characters are usually quirky and struggling with some sort of issue in their lives.  They often are trying to do it on their own and have sort of withdrawn from society in some form or another.

In A Thing of Beauty you meet Fiona Hume.  She is a former child star who not only was talented, but made quite a reputation for herself when she divorced her parents when she found out they were mismanaging her money.  Now there is more to the story than what meets the eye, but that is the reason she always gives.   She walked away from Hollywood and everything that had to do with it when she got out of drug rehab.  Fiona had plans for her life, she was going to take her money and become an artist.  One who up-cycled other people's junk and made beauty out of it. 

Jump forward 10 years and all Fiona has is a house full of junk and no art pieces to speak of.   It is all coming to a head because her mother is going to be releasing a tell all book about the divorce and what happened.  Fiona decides to strike first and go on a national show to give her side of the story.  She needs to have a makeover for that and for the makeover she needs money.  So she decides to rent out a room in her large sprawling house.  That is where things start to change. 

No matter how unique Lisa writes her character, I find myself relating in some way or another with them.  I have no idea what it is like to live as a child star or what it is like to have parents like Fiona’s, but just the same I found my heart aching for the little girl that just wanted her parents to love her and not worry about themselves.  Fiona goes to great lengths to guard her heart from any more hurt.  She doesn’t make friends, though she does force herself to go out to a quaint little coffee shop so she isn’t a complete hermit. 

I can never put my finger on the exact thing that makes me love Lisa’s books so much, but I think part of it is I can so easily insert myself into her stories.  Her characters are rich and very three dimensional.  They are people that I find myself wishing I lived next door to and could count as my friends.  But I also think part of it is they make me want to be a better person who would be worthy of their friendship.  Whatever it is, I hope she continues to write and I promise to continue to read them all.

Happy Reading,

P.S. For those church librarians out there, know that there is a bit of swearing in the book.  Not the “F” word, but the use of a few words that might offend some readers.   


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

New Release - Heaven Help Heidi - Sally John

Dear Readers,

Sally John has been writing issue driven books for years now and the ones I can get my hands on and read have been great reads.  I love being drawn into her world where friends become more like family as they all work through the issues they face.

bakerbookstore.comHeaven Help Heidi is such a book.  You meet Heidi who had her life together.  She is in control and loves it.  That is until an accident leaves her unable to work.  Now what?  She move to Casa de Vida to recover and discovers a community that is more than just a place to live.  She finds friendship with a woman very different from herself, but they need each other.

Piper is unwilling to open her heart to love again after loosing her fiancé in Afghanistan.  Even though her head knows he is not coming home, her heart is not ready to love again and be open to hurt again.

Two very different women in need of healing find support.  Isn't that how life is?  We find the help we need in the most unlikely of places and people.

Happy Reading,

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

New Release - Orphan Train - Christina Baker Kline

Dear Readers,

The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline came to me because of a recommendation of a couple of the librarians who attend my support group in Holland, MI.  They had gotten the recommendation from their sister who also happens to be a librarian.  She strongly suggested the book for their shelves because she had such a good response to it in her library.

So I went looking for the book and so far have had to reorder it in the first week as it seems word of mouth has gotten out about this book.  There is something about the orphan trains that ran here in America that touches all of our hearts.  I know those that were shipping these kids out thought they were doing them a favor, but that is not how it turned out for some of them.

Vivian Daly was on of the children sent of the orphan trains.  She didn't know what she was getting into and several years later she returns to the coast of Maine, the years in the west a blur and something she keeps hidden in her attic.

Molly is filling her community service hours by helping an elderly woman clean out her attic.  What Molly finds in Vivian's attic makes her realize the two, though separated by years and decades, have more in common that either thought. 

The story moves between Vivian's story in depression era Minnesota and a contemporary story set in Maine.  There are parts of it that are very raw and maybe what some won't consider "Inspirational," but it is well written and one that makes you wonder about the other children that were sent away on these trains. 

Happy Reading,

Monday, January 26, 2015

New Release - Jan. 19 - 24

Dear Readers,

The days are getting longer, the average temps are going up.  Soon we will once again be outside enjoying our favorite books.  Maybe a couple of these titles will make it on that list.

Happy Reading,

Orphan Train - Christina Baker Kline - As a child Vivian  Daly was sent west on one of the orphan trains.  Returning later, Vivian does not talk about her experiences.  Years later Molly is sent to help Vivian clean out her attic. As Vivian's story comes to light, Molly realizes they have more in common than she thought.

Where Trust Lies - Janette Oke/Laurel Oke Logan - #2 Return to the Canadian West - Beth has returned home to spend time with her family.  But Beth's heart is back with a certain Mountie who stole her heart.  Will she be able to decide which to pick, her family or the man her heart longs for?

The Last Heiress - Mary Ellis - Amanda sails to North Carolina from England to restore shipments to the family's textile mills.  The Civil war  has interfered with shipments.  Of course meeting with Nathaniel and falling in love were not part of the plans for Amanda.  Will the war interrupt once again?

Miriam's Secret - Jerry S. Eicher - #1 Land of Promise - Does the attention from two young man, prove to Miriam that they are only after her money?  Miriam tries to keep it a secret as her Amish upbringing has always preached about the evils of money.

Heaven Help Heidi - Sally John - Once again Sally draws us back to the Casa de Vida, the little oceanside community with a big heart.  Heidi is in control until an accident leaves her hurt and with little control of her life.  At Casa de Vida she meets Piper who is recovering from the loss of her fiancé.

Miracle at the Higher Grounds Café - Max Lucado/Candace Lee/Eric Newman - Chelsea's attempt to make it on her own, until a miracle happens.  Those who want to ask God their greatest questions are getting answer at the Higher Grounds Café.  Will that be enough to save Chelsea?

Deadly Echoes - Nancy Mehl - Finding Sanctuary #2 - Sarah is happy to call Sanctuary home.  She loves being with her sister and niece.  That is until her sister is murdered and Sarah fears it might be the same killer who killed her parents.

Friday, January 23, 2015


Dear Readers,

There is an interesting new aspect to the self published world.  Established authors are releasing books under their own imprint or one that is made for the self published world.  Which from the perspective of a reader is not a bad thing.  More books from my favorite authors is never something to be worried about. 

From the perspective from someone who works in a bookstore it is not horrible either, but it does make it more difficult to help my readers who come to me in the store.  I want to bring those readers every title possible, but when someone releases a self published book it makes it harder to find and get to my shelves.

So what do you think of this new trend?  It is something you follow?  How do you find new fiction that has not released the traditional way?  Do you find the quality of the self published books as good or not? 

I personally have found that most self published books lack a bit in the quality of writing.  It is like they missed a couple steps in the editing process and could use just a bit of tighten up.  There has never been a perfect book, one with out errors - grammar or spelling - or one the everyone on the planet loves, but I also find that in self published the storylines are looser and there is often a thread that wanders into the story, but never really accomplishes anything or adds to the story. 

I am wondering if any of you have experienced this as well or am I just being a "published" snob about books. 

Happy Reading,

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Martha Ockley

Dear Readers,

A Saintly Killing by Martha Ockley is book number 3 in the Faith Morgan series.  I admit I skipped book 2, not because I didn’t enjoy the first one, The Reluctant Detective, but because I wanted to know if you could read one without the other.  I recommend reading them in order as you can follow the storyline easy enough, but you feel like you have missed some of the personal story that goes along with Faith and her journey.

A+Saintly+Killing%3A+A+Faith+Morgan+MysterySt. James is preparing to celebrate its 900th anniversary.  (Ok we in the colonies get excited about something that reaches 50 years!)  Faith is busy getting everything ready, including the commissioned painting that will go on the back of the pamphlet they are using to share some of the important moments in the church’s history.  On the day the painting makes it to the printers, the artist ends up dead with no clues as to who the murderer could be.  It could possibly be anyone, as Sal was not the warmest person. Almost everyone who met her had some reason or another to dislike her, including Faith. 

Who in Little Worthy is capable of murder?  Surely not one of Faith’s parishioners, but as she finds herself once again involved with solving the crime it starts to look like it.  Will Faith figure it out before her ex-partner and beau Ben upsets everyone in town?

Once again Martha writes a delightful, cozy mystery.  One that just weaves through the fabric of the story of the town instead of being the only thing the book is about.  You once again visit with Faith and her sister as they work through the issue of their mother and her descent farther into Dementia.  And what about Ben, at times he seems interested, but then again…  *Sigh* what’s a girl to do?  That is what can make a book fun to read, getting to know the characters.  Of course having it set in England always makes it a bit better also. 

So a lovely little series that is worth reading.  Put the kettle on for a pot of tea and enjoy.

I received this book for free from Kregel for my honest review.

Happy Reading,