Wednesday, March 31, 2010

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesdays is a meme from Should Be Reading, where we answer three questions: What are you currently reading? What did you recently finish reading? and What do you think you'll read next? If you want to participate, answer the three questions, then put your link on the Should Be Reading Blog in the comment section. Happy reading!

What I am currently reading:

The Bride CollectorThe Bride Collector by Ted Dekker - I just got this in the mail Monday. I've been wanting to read it ever since I heard about it last year, when I went to The Gathering in Franklin, Tennessee. Ted Dekker is a talented writer! I receved this book from Hatchette Book Group for review.

What I recenly finished reading:

Winston Churchill (Christian Encounters Series)Winston Churchill by John Perry - I read this one to write a review for Thomas Nelson Publishing. I am a blogger in their Book Sneeze program.

What I'll probably read next:

Too Close to Home (Women of Justice Series #1)Too Close to Home by Lynette Eason - a book of suspense published by Revell. I am reviewing this one as part of a blog tour during the week of April 11-17. It is the first book in the Women of Justice Series.

What are you reading? What is on your TBR list? If you are a book review blogger, do you have any reviews you will posting soon? Let me know in the comments below.

Book Review: Caught by Harlan Coben

Harlan Coben is one of my favorite suspense/thriller writers. He keeps you going, sort of like a roller coaster ride where, just when you think you are coasting and looking around at the view, you are suddenly jerked and swept into a hair-raising plunge that leaves you breathless. His writing is pure entertainment with drama that flows seamlessly from chapter to chapter. And with every book, Coben gets better and better.

CaughtCaught is the story of three people (and their families): Haley McWaid, a seventeen-year-old good girl and high school senior, who turns up missing one night; Dan Mercer, a social worker and coach of a fourth-grade basketball team; and Wendy Tynes, a TV news reporter who targets Dan and accuses him of being a sexual predator. People in the community soon begin to suspect Dan of taking Haley, and there are those who want to take the law into their own hands and "take care of" Dan before he comes to trial. As Wendy investigates the case, what she thinks is true becomes more elusive and soon she finds herself involved far more than she ever imagined. Many twists and turns in the plot pull the reader into a tense story of revenge, murder, and deceit that will keep you guessing until the very last page.

I like how Coben writes. I feel like he's in the room with me, telling me a story and making it sound so real. The characters are at times funny and even the antagonists are likeable in their own way. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes suspense. And I would urge you to read Coben's other novels as well. I have enjoyed every one of them.

(Caution: some hard language and innuendo.)

Here is a quote from Caught that I found to be quite profound and very true:

"Did tragedy cause fissures, open them wider - or did tragedy merely turn on the light so you could see the fissure that had always been there? Maybe we live in darkness, blinded by the smile and facade of goodness. Maybe tragedy just takes away the blinders."

I didn't realize that Harlan Coben was a theologian. :)

(Click on the links and/or the book image to learn more about the author and his books.)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

ROAR (Reading Other's Amazing Reviews!)

I decided that instead of trying what I did before, I will share with all of you some of the great reviews that I have read in the last week. Please let us know of any reviews that you have read and enjoyed by putting a link in the comments.

Life in the Thumb reviews By the Time You Read This I'll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters - a book about teenage bullying and suicide.

Lighthouse Academy reviews Leah's Choice by Marta Perry - an Amish novel (first book in a new series).

Magistra Mater reviews How to Read Slowly by James W. Sire - sounds like one I might need (I read so much that I don't always remember what I have read).

Mrs. Q: Book Addict reviews The Last River Child by Lori Ann Bloomfield - Definitely one to add to my TBR.

No Ordinary Moments reviews Here Burns My Candle by Liz Curtis Higgs - I have reading about this one all over the Internet - sounds great! (and she's giving a copy away - hurry, giveaway ends tonight!)

Reading to Know reviews Home, by Marilynne Robinson - another one with a giveaway (ends tomorrow).

Please visit these blogs and tell them I sent you!

Thanks, fellow bloggers, for such wonderful reviews. My TBR list is growing!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Book Review: The Promise of Morning by Ann Shorey (Blog Tour)

"Ellie Craig brushed the last leaf from the surface of a granite marker embedded in the soft earth. 'There, Lizzie.' She crooned her daughter's name. 'Isn't that better?'"

Promise of Morning, The (At Home in Beldon Grove)So begins the first chapter of The Promise of Morning by Ann Shorey. The year is 1846 and Ellie and Matthew Craig have lost three of their eight children. The Craigs live on the Illinois frontier where life is, at times, almost unbearable. The Craigs face many trials, including death, betrayal, and threat of the loss of intimacy in their marriage. As Ellie attempts to cope with these and other personal heartaches, Matthew struggles with problems in the church that he ministers to as well as a long ago broken relationship with his father.

As I read this book, I kept thinking "What terrible thing is going to happen to them next?" It was a very sad book that left me somewhat depressed. I couldn't bring myself to like any of the characters. They all were so self-absorbed and had negative attitudes throughout the book. I know that life on the homestead in the 1840's was no piece of cake, but in reading this book one would get the impression that there was no joy at all in people's lives at that time. Especially since most of the main characters were Christians, I was disappointed to see them being so ungrateful, fearful, and hopeless. I'm not saying that Christians never act this way, but I saw no joy of the Lord in these characters until the very end of the book, where everything "miraculously" got all better and everyone "lived happily ever after." The book lacks credibility.

I hope I'm not sounding too harsh, but I think this book could have been so much better.

The Edge of Light (At Home in Beldon Grove, Book 1)The Promise of Morning by Ann Shorey is the second book in the At Home in Beldon Grove series. The first book in the series was The Edge of Light, which was published in January of 2009.

Ann Shorey is the author of The Edge of Light and has published selections in the Cup of Comfort series and in Chicken Soup for the Grandma's Soul.

“Available March 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

For more information, visit

(If you like novels set this time period, I recommend Scattered Petals by Amanda Cabot, which I reviewed last week. Or perhaps you would enjoy books by Deeanne Gist or Tracie Peterson, two of my favorite Christian Historical Fiction writers.)

(I received a complementary copy of this book from Revell for the purposes of this review. I received no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Book Giveaway!

Dear Seize the Book Blog followers:

Please don't tell my sweet wife I posted. She will kill me. This is her husband, David, and I am going to do the unthinkable to a bibliophile. I am going to give away a book to one of you readers. The Dudley house, as always, is oozing with books, and I am going to give one away. The process is simple. Recommend Seize the Book Blog to any friend you are fairly confident is an avid reader and would be interested in reading her reviews.

One week from today, e-mail me at with first names only and what state they live in for each person you referred. Each referral will give you one entry to winning a book.

Thank you.

David Dudley

Friday, March 26, 2010

Book Review: Letter to my Daughter by George Bishop (Blog Tour)


Letter to My Daughter: A NovelGeorge Bishop on Letter to My Daughter:

"My novel Letter to My Daughter features a middle-aged mother, her 15-year-old daughter, a boy in Vietnam, and a tattoo. Straight off, let me make a confession: I don’t have a daughter. I don’t have a tattoo, and I don’t know anyone who fought in the Vietnam War. How, then, did I come to write a book so far removed from my real-life experience?

Fortunately, there’s a good story behind this novel, and it begins in India........."

(This piece on Amazon about how the author got the idea for this book is really interesting. You might want to take a look.)

I love the way this book was written. It is a letter from a mother to her teen daughter who has just stormed out of the house after an argument between the two. The mother decides to tell the 15-year-old about her own stormy adolescence. She writes about her first love, her years in a Catholic boarding school, and the estranged relationship she has with her parents.

The book is sad, but there is a certain poignancy to it that leads the reader to hope for the daughter's return and a reconciliation with her mother and father. I was caught up into the story of Laura (the mother) and her boyfriend, Tim, as they sought to find meaning in their lives filled with prejudice, war, and what it was like to grow up in the 1970's. I could relate to this mother who wanted to help her daughter understand that she was not alone in her feelings and struggles with life:

"So what I've decided to do is that while I'm sitting here waiting for you to return, I'll write down in a letter everything I've always meant to tell you but never have. Maybe a letter is a poor substitute for the talk I always wanted us to have. But it's a start at least, and I hope you'll find it in yourself, if not today then sometime in the future, to accept it in the same spirit that I write it. Think of it as my birthday present to you - something that my mother never told me, but that I'll endeavor now with all my heart to tell you: the truth about how a girl grows up. The truth about life."

I would recommend this book to all mothers (and fathers) of teenagers who struggle with connecting with their children. And perhaps it can also be read by the teens themselves (you may want to read it first to decide if it is appropriate for your child.) Better yet, why don't you write your own letter? I'm sure your daughter (or son) would love to hear about your own young life.

(There are a few scenes of adolescent s*x, but they are not graphic and, in my opinion, do not take away from the enjoyment of the book.)

More about the author and his book on George Bishop's website.

To read more reviews on Letter to my Daughter, see the author's blog.

And even more reviews of Letter to my Daughter:

Reading at the Beach
Bibliophile by the Sea
Review From Here
Library Girl Reads
Jen's Book Talk

Tolle lege!

This review is written as part of a Pump Up Your Book! Blog Tour.

(This book was sent to me by the author for review purposes. I received no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O'Connor McNees

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine Blog, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

The Lost Summer of Louisa May AlcottMy selection this week is The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O'Connor McNees, to be released on April 1, 2010:

Millions of readers across generations have laughed and cried with the March sisters—Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy—of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel, Little Women. And there has never been a more beloved heroine in the history of American letters than Jo March, Louisa’s alter ego and an iconic figure of independent spirit and big dreams. But as Louisa knew all too well, big dreams often come at a cost.

In her debut novel, The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott, Kelly O’Connor McNees deftly mixes fact and fiction as she imagines a summer lost to history, carefully purged from Louisa’s letters and journals, a summer that would change the course of Louisa’s writing career—and inspire the story of love and heartbreak between Jo and Teddy “Laurie” Laurence, Jo’s devoted neighbor and kindred spirit.

In the summer of 1855, Walt Whitman’s controversial Leaves of Grass has just been released, and the notion of making a living as a writer is still a far-off dream for Louisa. She is twenty-two years old, vivacious, and bursting with a desire to be free of her family and societal constraints so she can do what she loves the most—write. The Alcott family, destitute, as usual, moves to a generous uncle’s empty house in Walpole, New Hampshire, for the summer. Here, a striking but pensive Louisa meets the fictional Joseph Singer. Louisa is initially unimpressed by Joseph’s charms. But just as Louisa begins to open her heart, she learns that Joseph may not be free to give his away. Their newfound love carries a steep price, and Louisa fears she may pay with the independence she has fought so hard to protect.

The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott
Available in hardcover April 1, 2010
Amy Einhorn Books / Putnam

And, a trailer for the book:

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesdays is a meme from Should Be Reading, where we answer three questions: What are you currently reading? What did you recently finish reading? and What do you think you'll read next? I you want to participate, answer the three questions, then put your link on the Should Be Reading Blog in the comment section. Happy reading!

(Remember, if you click on any of the book images, you will be taken to Amazon, where you can view more info about that book.)

What I am currently reading:

I'm reading this one for a review for Revell Books. I will be posting this review during the week of March 28 - April 3, so come back to read what I think about this book. (Am I the only one, or do you think that all the covers to these "prairie novels" are beginning to look alike?)

What I recently finished reading:

I will be reviewing this in the next few days. All I can say about this one right now is, WOW! Coben just keeps getting better and better!

What I will probably read next:

I received this one from Thomas Nelson Publishers via their Book Sneeze program. Review to follow, probably next week.

 Ok, there you have it for this week's reads. Now it's back to reading for me!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The New Living Translation Break Through to Clarity Bible Contest and Giveaway

Visit and click on the tab that says “Sweepstakes”

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Apple iPad 16G and a Life Application Study Bible

Awarded when the New Living Translation Fan Page hits the second milestone

Retail Value: $499.00

5th Prize Will be awarded when fan count hits: TBD

Apple iPad 32G and a Life Application Study Bible

Awarded when the NLT Fan Page hits the first milestone

Retail Value: $599.00

Prize Eligibility – Recently updated to include more countries

Sweepstakes participants and winner(s) can be U.S. residents of the 50 United States, or residents of any country that is NOT embargoed by the United States, but cannot be residents of Belgium, Norway, Sweden, or India. In addition, participants and winner(s) must be at least 18 years old, as determined by the Company.

Sweepstakes Starts

March 17, 2010 @ 10:24 am (PDT)

Sweepstakes Ends

April 30, 2010 @ 10:24 am (PDT)

Wait, there’s more!

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Submit your answer and you’ll be entered to win.

Just for signing up: Everybody Wins! Win a Free .mp3 download from the NLT’s new Red Letters Project. It’s the dynamic, new presentation of the sung and narrated words of the Gospel of Matthew. You win the download just for entering! Or choose to download the NLT Philippians Bible Study, complete with the Book of Philippians in the NLT.

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Book Review: Scattered Petals by Amanda Cabot (Blog Tour)

Priscilla Morton and her parents traveled to Texas from their hometown of Boston to attend the wedding of Clay Canfield and his lovely bride, Sarah. But before they get to their destination, tragedy strikes in the form of three bandits who rob Pricilla, her father, and her mother of more than just their physical possessions.

Scattered Petals: A Novel (Texas Dreams)When Zach, a worker at Clay's ranch, meets Priscilla, he is instantly drawn to her. However, his attempts to get closer to her are rejected. He begins to believe that Priscilla will have nothing to do with him because he is nothing more than a common ranch foreman. He resolves to be her friend, even though he would prefer to be more than that.

When circumstances force Priscilla to agree to Zach's proposal of marriage, it is a union not of love, but of convenience. Then, as time goes by, they both find themselves to be growing more in love with each other.

There is one problem. Zach has a secret from his past. And it threatens to tear them apart forever.


Although this seems like just another Christian "prairie novel", I actually enjoyed it. There are many thing in the plot I could not reveal because they are spoilers. So, you'll have to believe me when I say that the plot was actually much better than a lot of books in this genre.

It is an emotional read. The author gave me many reasons to be sympathetic to the main characters in their fight for joy. I think the book also helped me to see more clearly the situations in the lives of my friends where I need to be more loving and willing to comfort them in their times of need. Yes, it is a "sweet" story with a happy ending, but I learned some valuable lessons from it. And that made it worth the read.

I would recommend this book to all romantics, lovers of a good, clean story, and those who are struggling with finding God in hard circumstances and those who want to help others in those same circumstances.

Paper Roses (Texas Dreams Trilogy #1)Scattered Petals is Book #2 in the Texas Dreams series. Paper Roses is the first in the series.

(Remember, you can click on the book images to read more about the book(s) on Amazon.)

From the publisher:

Amanda Cabot is an accomplished author under various pen names and a popular speaker. The author of Paper Roses, she is also a charter member of Romance Writers of America, the co-founder of its New Jersey chapter, a member of the ACFW, and an avid traveler.


"Crafting characters rich with emotion, Amanda Cabot pens a compelling story of devastation and loss, of healing and second chances. But most of all, of transcending faith."--Tamera Alexander, bestselling author, From a Distance

"Scattered Petals is an exceptional book! Insight into situations that sometimes appear unfathomable, the healing power of God's love, and the consolation he provides so magnificently are written with heartfelt emotion that brings the characters' romantic love to life. Do not miss Scattered Petals. Reading it is an experience that fills the heart with joy."--Elaine Barbieri, New York Times bestselling author

Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, offers practical books that bring the Christian faith to everyday life. They publish resources from a variety of well-known brands and authors, including their partnership with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and Hungry Planet.

(I received a complementary copy of this book from Revell for the purposes of this review. I received no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.)