Monday, July 27, 2015

"Global Girlfriends: How One Mom Made it Her Business to Help Women in Poverty Worldwide," by Stacey Edgar

"Global Girlfriends: How One Mom Made it Her Business to Help Women in Poverty Worldwide," by Stacey Edgar
Seven years ago, Stacey Edgar had a $2,000 tax return and a deep desire to help provide economic security for women in need. She knew that of the 1.3 billion people living on less than $1 per day, seventy percent are women. What she didn't have was a business plan. Or a passport. But that didn't stop her from creating a socially conscious business that has helped poor women in five continents feed their families and send their children to school.

Global Girlfriend has since grown into a multi-million dollar enterprise that specializes in handmade, fairly traded, ecoconscious apparel, accessories, and items made by women all over the world. Global Girlfriends is Stacey's inspiring story of following her convictions, as well as her passionate argument for simple actions we can all take to eliminate extreme poverty. Stacey Edgar refused to be paralyzed by the size of world poverty; she started by taking several small steps, personal responsibility firmly in hand, and never looked back.

I had never heard of Global Girlfriend prior to reading this book.  It's an American company set up to sell products made by women in need from various countries throughout the world.  As mentioned above it was started by a woman who wanted to make a difference and despite starting the "business" with only $2,000 has turned it into a multi-million dollar company that has helped thousands of women.

The book tells of how Stacey started small by helping a few women, and has gradually grown and grown helping many woman.  It shows how just helping one person can translate to helping many in a community.  I loved the different examples of how she helped various woman, as it explains their back story.

I also liked how Stacey had the common sense to make sure what she bought to sell were things that people in America would actually want to buy and use and the quality of these items were what Americans were used too.  Some of the stories told were enough to break your heart at the hardship some of these women had been through.

I liked the chapter, Afterword: and Beyond," as there are multiple websites listed of what you can do to help, also suggestions on what you can do locally.  It does give you food for thought this book.

Stars out of 5 : 5 well worth the read and makes you think.  Although it's an American company a lot of what Stacey says can be applied to whatever country you come from.  I like she doesn't sugar coat what she says and I commend her on what she has done.

If nothing else pop by the Global Girlfriend site and support a great cause.

"Rurally Screwed: A Memoir of Losing Myself For Love," by Jessie Knadler

"Rurally Screwed: A Memoir of Losing Myself For Love," by Jessie Knadler
Jessie Knadler was a New York City girl, through and through. An editor for a splashy women's magazine, she splurged on Miu Miu, partied hard, lived for Kundalini yoga, and dated a man-boy whose complexion was creamier than her own. Circling the drain both personally and professionally, Jessie definitely wouldn't have described herself as "happy"; more like caustically content. Then one day, she was assigned a story about an annual rodeo in the badlands of Eastern Montana.

There, she met a twenty-five-year-old bull rider named Jake. He voted Republican and read Truck Trader. He listened to Garth Brooks. He owned guns. And Jessie suddenly found herself blindsided by something with which she was painfully unfamiliar: a genuinely lovable disposition. In fact, Jake radiated such optimism and old-school gentlemanliness that Jessie impulsively ditched Manhattan for an authentic existence, and an authentic man. Almost overnight, she was canning and sewing, making jerky, chopping firewood, and raising chickens. And all the while one question was ringing in the back of her head: "What the !#*$ have I done with my life?"

A hilarious true-life love story, Rurally Screwed reveals what happens to a woman who gives up everything she's ever known and wanted-job security, money, her professional network, access to decent Thai food-to live off the grid with her one true love (and dogs and horses and chickens), and asks, is it worth it? The answer comes amid war, Bible clubs, and moonshine.

Must say I did enjoy this book.  Didn't think it was hilarious as described above, but it did have it's fun moments.  I could see why she was attracted to Jake with the way she described his behaviour, a true gentleman through and through.

One thing for sure her life went from one extreme to another and no wonder she questions her sanity and her reasons for doing it. Although she digs deep into her life, she doesn't dig right down the the nitty gritty and I think that shows in her book, as you do feel as though you are missing something.  It's a bit like saying you only had a couple of teeth out when in reality you had all your teeth removed, if that makes sense?

Stars out of 5 : 3 At the end of the day I did enjoy this book, but I will probably not remember it in a month or two's time.  Glad I read it though.

Monday, July 13, 2015

"Hope Harbor," by Irene Hannon

Tracy Campbell never wanted to leave Hope Harbor, Oregon, or the idyllic three-generation cranberry farm where she grew up. But life--and love--altered her plans. Now she's home again--with a floundering farm to run . . . a tragic secret . . . and a wounded heart. Romance is not on her agenda.

Nor is it on Michael Hunter's. The visitor from Chicago has daunting secrets and devastating regrets of his own. But when Tracy recruits him to help with a project that is close to her heart, winds of change begin to sweep through Hope Harbor, bringing healing, hope, and love to countless lives--including their own.

I am a fan of Irene's books; however they are normally romantic suspense novels, so this for me was a change as this is strictly a romance novel.  Yes there were some "secrets" that have to be uncovered but overall it was a romance.  Tracy and Michael were prefect as the lead characters.  Also I liked how the "God works in mysterious ways," theme was woven in the story.

I am a firm believer that things happen for a reason, and it was quite clear that was happening throughout this story.  It's no surprise how this novel ended.  If I had one complaint, it was that there was no recipe for the Cranberry Nut Cake.  After reading about it, I would have loved to make it!

Stars out of 5 : 4  An easy read, well worth reading.  A good book to while away an afternoon or two.  Loved the description of Hope Harbor and would love to visit it, if it exists!

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

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

"In Good Company," by Jen Turano

"In Good Company," by Jen Turano

After growing up as an orphan, Millie Longfellow is determined to become the best nanny the East Coast has ever seen. Unfortunately, her playfulness and enthusiasm aren't always well-received and she finds herself dismissed from yet another position. 

Everett Mulberry has quite unexpectedly become guardian to three children that scare off every nanny he hires. About to depart for Newport, Rhode Island, for the summer, he's desperate for competent childcare.

At wit's end with both Millie and Everett, the employment agency gives them one last chance--with each other. As Millie falls in love with her mischievous charges, Everett focuses on achieving the coveted societal status of the upper echelons. But as he investigates the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of the children's parents, will it take the loss of those he loves to learn whose company he truly wants for the rest of his life?

This book was a fun read; just thinking about the flour and water "incident," makes me smile.  There were a series of funny incidents throughout the book that made me laugh out loud.  I think the picture on the front of the book, shows how much fun Millie is.  The interaction with all the characters made for a fun read and a one with many twists and turns.

Millie's interaction with the children though made the book for me.  As you both feel sorry and then want to wring the children's neck for all the trouble they cause.  The peacocks are so funny in it as well.  I know who knew peacocks could be funny!

Stars out of 5 : 4.5 A fun book to read, and one that doesn't require too much concentration or thought.  A perfect book to while away an afternoon or two.  Some of the characters from Jen's other books also make an appearance or are referred to in this book.  However you don't need to read any of her other books to enjoy this one.

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

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

"Irish Meadows," by Susan Anne Mason

"Irish Meadows," by Susan Anne Mason

Brianna and Colleen O'Leary know their Irish immigrant father expects them to marry well. Recently he's put even more pressure on them, insinuating that the very future of their Long Island horse farm, Irish Meadows, rests in their ability to land prosperous husbands. Both girls, however, have different visions for their futures.

Brianna, a quiet girl with a quick mind, dreams of attending college. Vivacious Colleen, meanwhile, is happy to marry--as long as her father's choice meets her exacting standards of the ideal groom. When former stable hand Gilbert Whelan returns from business school and distant relative Rylan Montgomery visits Long Island during his seminary training, the two men quickly complicate everyone's plans. 

As the farm slips ever closer to ruin, James O'Leary grows more desperate. It will take every ounce of courage for both sisters to avoid being pawns in their father's machinations and instead follow their hearts. And even if they do, will they inevitably find their dreams too distant to reach?

I think this is the first time I have read anything by this author.  This is the first in a series of books; the next one is released at the beginning of 2016.  It was an okay book, easy to read.  The story seems to focus on one sister then switches to the other sister, then back and forward.  It's believable and a story that is not hard to focus on.  Will I remember it next month; probably not.  Would I like to read the next in the series; yes.

Stars out of 5 : 3.5 An easy book to while away a couple of afternoons.  Not too overtaxing on the brain, what I call a shopping list book.  I can read the book, but think of other things at the same time.

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

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

"Refining Fire," by Tracie Peterson

"Refining Fire," by Tracie Peterson

Twenty-two-year-old Militine Scott is in training at the Madison Bridal School in Seattle, yet she has no intention of pursuing marriage. What respectable man would have her? But she has found the school provides the perfect opportunity to keep her unsavory past hidden.

Thane Patton, though fun-loving and fiercely loyal to his friends, hides a dark secret, as well. He finds himself drawn to Militine, sensing that she harbors a haunting pain similar to his own.

Will they allow God to make something new and beautiful from the debris of their past?

This is the second book in The Brides of Seattle series; and like the first one I reviewed I felt that the Abrianna character took over the story line.  All were great characters and Militine's and Thane's romance was well written, but at the end of the day I was more interested in Abrianna's and Wade's friendship.

It's an easy read and one you can read in an afternoon or two.  As I am not up on the history of Seattle I am assuming the fire featured in the book was an actual event, as was the shipping in of young girls from foreign countries.  It would have been nice to have an author's note at the back explaining the historical significance of these points.

Stars out of 5: 3.5  I do enjoy this author's books, as they are easy to read and don't take a lot of concentration.  They can be stand alone books, or you can read them as a series, either way it makes no difference.  A good beach read.

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

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

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Our book club reading list through to September 2016

At our last meeting we chose the books for the upcoming year (and more).  So I thought I'd share with you our choices in case you want to read along.  If you click on the title of the book, it will take you to Amazon where you can read about it.

July: The Vagrants by Yiyun Lin - I have read and reviewed this book already here.

August: The Color of Tea by Hannah Tunnicliffe - I have read and reviewed this book here.

September: The Chaperone by Laura Moriaty

October : Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

November: Ru by Kim Thuy

December: Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen

January: The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett (looking forward to this one)

February: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

March: The Virgin Cure by Ami McKay

April: Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Merhan - I have read and reviewed this book here.

May: The Children Act by Ian McEwan

June: Annabel by Kathleen Winter

July: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

August: Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

September: Memories of a Victorian Midwife by Charlotte Fuhrer

As you can see there is a wide variety of books and subjects that we are going to read.  This is one reason I like the book club, it takes me out of my comfort zone and I get to experience new authors and new subjects that I would not normally read.

If anyone has read any of the books on the list, please let me know what you thought?