Monday, November 26, 2012

"Miss Scarlet's School of Patternless Sewing," by Kathy Cano-Murillo

"Miss Scarlet's School of Patternless Sewing," by Kathy Cano-Murillo
Sometimes to find your life's true path, you have to stray outside the lines . . .

Scarlet Santana is never happier than when creating fabulous fashions for women of all shapes and sizes. Now, after years of hard work, she finally has the chance to live her dream and study under the hottest designer in New York. To raise money for her move, Scarlet opens an after-hours sewing school in a local record shop, teaching a type-A working mom whose rigid parenting style is causing her family to unravel and an enigmatic seamstress with a mysterious past.

But as stitches give way to secrets and classmates become friends, the women realize an important truth: There is no single pattern for a good life. Happiness is always a custom fit.

This book was really good, fast paced and interesting.  It's easy to get engrossed in the book and the main character Scarlet is great.  Just trying to imagine her in real life would be a joy to know her.

The author of the book has a web site called Crafty Chica     which I must say is very interesting and also a link to a number of blogs.  There are instructions in the back of the book to make various things mentioned in the book.  If you enjoy sewing this book will interest you.  If you like a good chick-lit book you will love this book also.

Stars out of 5 : 4.5 Great book, easy read and one I didn't want to put down.  

Sunday, November 25, 2012

"A Year of Biblical Womanhood," by Rachel Held Evans

"A Year of Biblical Womanhood," by Rachel Held Evans
What is “biblical womanhood” . . . really?

Strong-willed and independent, Rachel Held Evans couldn’t sew a button on a blouse before she embarked on a radical life experiment—a year of biblical womanhood. Intrigued by the traditionalist resurgence that led many of her friends to abandon their careers to assume traditional gender roles in the home, Evans decides to try it for herself, vowing to take all of the Bible’s instructions for women as literally as possible for a year.
Pursuing a different virtue each month, Evans learns the hard way that her quest for biblical womanhood requires more than a “gentle and quiet spirit” (1 Peter 3:4). It means growing out her hair, making her own clothes, covering her head, obeying her husband, rising before dawn, abstaining from gossip, remaining silent in church, and even camping out in the front yard during her period.
See what happens when a thoroughly modern woman starts referring to her husband as “master” and “praises him at the city gate” with a homemade sign. Learn the insights she receives from an ongoing correspondence with an Orthodox Jewish woman, and find out what she discovers from her exchanges with a polygamist wife. Join her as she wrestles with difficult passages of scripture that portray misogyny and violence against women.

With just the right mixture of humor and insight, compassion and incredulity, A Year of Biblical Womanhood is an exercise in scriptural exploration and spiritual contemplation. What does God truly expect of women, and is there really a prescription for biblical womanhood? Come along with Evans as she looks for answers in the rich heritage of biblical heroines, models of grace, and all-around women of valor.

I wanted to read this book as I was curious about what exactly it entailed to live like a "Biblical Woman" would have.  When reading a book it should be an enjoyable experience, not a chore; unfortunately this was a chore for me.  It took me nearly a month to read, which is super long for me, and it felt like hard work to wrap my head around all the details.

It's unfortunate that all the publicity surrounding this book focuses on the author sitting on her roof, living in a tent during her period and calling her husband "Master," as there is a lot more to this book than that and I think if I were brought up in a more "relaxed" faith I think I may have enjoyed/related to this more. 

I did learn more about the women in the Bible, but one person's interpretation of Bible stories/verses etc, may not be another ones.  So I found myself wondering why she thought certain things meant what.  I have no examples to show you, as I didn't write notes when reading the book, and that I think would have been a good idea.  This book has left me having more questions than answers.

Would I recommend this book to you..........YES, as I think you will gain something by reading this book.  If nothing else it will make you think about some of the passages of the Bible that the author quotes.  Was it accurate in all it said........probably not, but if you go into this book with an open mind you may learn something new.

Stars out of 5 : 3 Glad I have read it, but wasn't sorry to see the last page of the book!

I will be donating my copy of the book to the local library.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

"Debt-Proof Your Christmas," by Mary Hunt

"Debt-Proof Your Christmas," by Mary Hunt
Christmas--with no debt, less stress, and more joy!

Christmas may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it's also one of the most stressful--and most expensive. Expectations run high, and it's tempting to whip out the credit cards to create the perfect Christmas, with lavish meals, new decorations, and the latest, greatest gadgets and fashions for everyone on your gift list.

But you don't have to overspend or go into debt to have a fabulous holiday.

Financial expert Mary Hunt shows you how to assess your situation, commit to no new debt, and think creatively about gifts. With Mary's guidance, you'll discover what caused you to overspend in the past and how to approach this Christmas with a plan. It just might be the best gift you can give yourself and your family.

First let me say I have NOT read this entire book........YET, but I wanted to let you know how good this book is.  If you celebrate Christmas and even if you celebrate other holidays which involve celebrating and gift giving this book is for you.

Even if you think you are the most frugal you can be when it comes to holidays, you WILL learn something from this book.  I have already done one thing; chapter 14, page 183, Mary gave her adult son a calendar for the up coming year with all the family birthdays, anniversaries etc on it.  I have done the exact same thing for our two, and I even wrote the addresses of the people so there is no need to ask me for them.  The calendars were freebies, one from the oil company with Ontario photos on it for ds and dd got the 2013 Milk Calendar.  The only difference is I am not giving them for Christmas I am giving them as just because gifts.

Told ds about it, and he was whining as he said this makes him more accountable now........duh yes!!!  There are some many great chapters all with super ideas, including gifts in jars, gifts from the kitchen, also advise on finding the bargains.  Honestly too much to  describe here.

I normally give all the books I review to the library to donate.  I am keeping this one, as it's that good, and I know I will turn to it year after year for more advise.

Stars out of 5 : 10..........I know I can't give ten stars but it is worth while and if you haven't started your Christmas shopping, this is a great resource to help you along.

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

"The Christmas Pony," by Melody Carlson

"The Christmas Pony," by Melody Carlson
With Christmas around the corner, the Turnbull family is in need of a few small miracles.

It is 1937, and Lucy Turnbull knows better than to wish for a pony this Christmas. Her mother has assured her in no uncertain terms that asking for a pony is the same as asking for the moon. Besides, the only extra mouths they need at their boarding house are the paying kind. Then an interesting pair of strangers comes to town, and Lucy's world changes forever.

Again this book was a lovely book.  I loved the lead character Lucy, she was a character with so much depth and wisdom, especially for her age.  This book highlighted how outward appearances mean nothing, it's what's inside of you that counts and shines through.

There are no real surprises and you will know what is going to happen, but regardless it was one of those books that makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside.  It's also an easy one or two afternoon read, and with a Christmas theme that gets you in the mood for the holidays.

Stars out of 5 : 4.5 Again loved the book, but thought it was a tad expensive at $14.99.  I would recommend that you do read this though as you won't be sorry.

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc
Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

"Christmas Roses," by Amanda Cabot

"Christmas Roses," by Amanda Cabot
Celia Anderson doesn't have a husband on her Christmas wish list. But when a traveling carpenter finds lodging at her boardinghouse, she admits that she might remarry if she found the right man--the kind of man who would bring her roses for Christmas. It would take a miracle, though, to find roses during a harsh Wyoming winter.

But Christmas, after all, is the time for miracles . . .

First let me say the link above is too an e-book, I read the hardcover book.  This is a book you should be able to read in an afternoon or two.  It's a feel good Christmas book, with no real surprises; well there was one.  It's a book that will make you feel good about life and it wants you to know that things do happen for a reason.  Also good things do happen to good people.

Stars out of 5: 4.5  The only reason I did not give it 5 stars is because of the price of the book.  It is $14.99, granted it is a hard cover book, but I think it was a little expensive.  However I would recommend that you do order it from the library, as it is well worth the read, or if money isn't a worry buy it, as it is a good book.

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

Friday, November 16, 2012

"The Christmas Pearl," by Dorothea Benton Frank

"The Christmas Pearl," by Dorothea Benton Frank

"Theodora is the matriarch of a family that has grown into a bunch of truculent knuckleheads. While she's finally gotten them all together in South Carolina to celebrate, this Christmas looks nothing like the extravagant, homey holidays of her childhood.

What happened to the days when Christmas meant tables groaning with home-cooked goodies, over-the-top decorations, and long chats in front of the fire with Pearl, her grandmother's beloved housekeeper and closest confidante?

Luckily for Theodora, a special someone who heard her plea for help arrives, with pockets full of enough Gullah magic and common sense to make Theodora's Christmas the love-filled miracle it's meant to be."

I am a huge fan of this author, mainly because her books are set in South Carolina, and I love South Carolina as much as Tennessee.  

This is one of those feel good books where it starts out with troubles and people disliking one another and ending with everyone being every one's best friend.  It's an easy book to read with honestly no real surprises, but because it's set at Christmas and because you cannot help but fall in love with Theodora it's really an enjoyable book.

Add to the mix that there a lot of recipes at the back of the book what more could you ask for.

Stars out of 5 : 3.5  At only 154 pages long an ideal book to read when you are sitting in a waiting room in a doctors office.

"Busy Body," by M. C. Beaton

"Busy Body," by M. C. Beaton

Agatha Raisin has never been one for enforced holiday cheer, but her friendly little village of Carsely has always prided itself on its traditional Christmas festivities. But this year the bells will not be ringing out Silent Night as Mr John Sunday, an officer with the Cotswold Health and Safety Board, has chosen Christmas as the time to crack down what he sees as gross misconduct by every man, woman, and child in the vicinity.

The village shop is told it can no longer have wooden shelves which have been there since the time of Queen Victoria 'in case someone is inflicted with a splinter.' The village school is ordered to leave lights on at night 'to prevent unauthorized intruders from tripping in the dark.' And children are warned to not play with 'counterfeit banknotes' after passing around toy money in the playground.

But finally Mr Sunday goes too far when he rules that there cannot be a Christmas tree atop the church tower this year. Soon after the decree and just before Christmas, Agatha is sipping a cup of tea and trying to stay awake as minute by minute of the Carsely Ladies Society meeting at the vicarage drones on when a sudden scream wakes her from her stupor. The ladies rush out of the building and into the garden to find Sunday lying face down in the petunias, very much dead. Agatha is instantly on the case, but with so many people having threatened the life of the victim, it's almost impossible to know where to start!

I actually read this book before "The Potted Gardener," and as this is the 21st book in the series, things had gone forward from the 3rd book.  I enjoyed this book as it was one of those books where you say "it could only happen in a country village."  The characters are so true to life and if you live in a small village you probably know one or two of them first hand.

The story keeps up a good pace and you are left guessing as to who did what and when.  It also proves what a small world it have to read the book to see what I mean by that.

Stars out of 5 : 4 fun book, easy read and it will keep you entertained....oh and Agatha still seems to be a grumpy old thing!!!

"The Potted Gardener," by M. C. Beaton

"The Potted Gardener," by M. C. Beaton

Agatha goes digging where she shouldn't...

Agatha is taken aback when she finds a new woman ensconced in the affections of her attractive bachelor neighbour, James Lacey. The beautiful Mary Fortune is superior in every way, especially when it comes to gardening - and with Carsely Garden Open Day looming, Agatha feels this deficiency acutely.

So when Mary is discovered murdered, buried upside down in a pot, Agatha seizes the moment and immediately starts yanking up village secrets by their roots and digging the dirt on the hapless victim. But Agatha has an awkward secret too . . .

This is the third in the Agatha Raisin series, which I have only discovered now!!  I think it would be a help if you read them in order, but not totally necessary.  Wasn't sure if I was keen on old Agatha, as she seems to be a grumpy old thing, despite only being in her 50's.  For those of you who enjoy the television series "Murder She Wrote," this is an English version.

Agatha's awkward secret is amusing to say the least and there is plenty of village action and trying to figure who did it will keep you guessing.  I never did guess. 

Stars out of 5 : 3.5 and easy read, nothing to taxing on the brain, very British.

"The Tinderbox," by Beverly Lewis

"The Tinderbox," by Beverly Lewis With her parents' twentieth anniversary approaching, eighteen-year-old Sylvia Miller find...