Review: Astor Place Vintage by Stephanie Lehmann

Posted on

My Review:

Wow!  I read all the rave reviews about this wonderful book, but couldn’t read it until now.  Some things are worth waiting for, and this is one of them. I am so glad I had purchased this and had it on my Kindle, just waiting….

Amanda is a single woman, who is in a complex relationship with her high school sweetheart (who is married).  Amanda is also the owner of a little vintage shop, where she gets to sell clothes that are more than just a piece of fabric…there are memories woven throughout.  Through a series of events, Amanda comes to terms with her relationship, makes huge decisions about her home/place of work, and her life.

However, the true magic is in the diary Amanda finds, stitched inside a fur muzzle.  Taken back to the early 1900′s, Amanda reads about the adventures of Sadie, Angelina, and Olive.  All independent women, with different adventures in their lives, yet they all hold a valuable bond.  They all had great stories to tell, however, I was so taken aback by the challenges young women faced back then.  With no rights to vote, it was very hard for women back then to even rent a hotel room!  Women had to enter through a different door, labeled for women, they weren’t earning near as much as men, deal with issues of wanting to be independent and faced criticism for it, etc.  It was just an amazing and horrible ordeal that women dealt with, but still managed to make great strides despite restrictions.

I just loved the stories, past and present, and absolutely loved the pictures in the book!  I purchased this book on my e-reader, but would definitely recommend buying the actual book to appreciate the pictures better.  It’s a fantastic read and one that I’d recommend to anyone wanting to read a great book about friendships, historical fiction, and love books with a bit of mystery!

excellent cupcake 5

Review: God Gave Us Angels by Lisa Tawn Bergren

Posted on

My Review:

The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous! They are very vibrant and my daughter loved the pictures.  It was more of a question/answer format with Little Cub asking Papa Bear about angels.  Each page is a question that Little Cub asks his Papa, and Papa Bear answering back.  While it is a simple message, God is in control, angels guide us, the topic of angels can get overwhelming and rather difficult to answer in a children’s book.  Nonetheless, the author tackles a huge question I am sure children ask, in a kid friendly, approachable and understandable way.  There was a minor grammatical error in the book, however it was only one error.  Another issue I have is when an author writes the way he/she perceives the child to talk.  I didn’t care for some of the lingo used, but it’s readable. I found myself grammatically correcting Little Cub.  I know…it’s a personal issue and has nothing to do with this particular author.  Overall, a good read.

 

good cupcake 3*This book was provided by the publisher and Blogging for Books, in exchange for an honest opinion.

The Literary Blog Hop: November 1-5, 2014

Posted on Updated on

Welcome to the Literary Giveaway Blog Hop!

I love participating in hops! It’s my way of giving thanks to you, for stopping by to read my humble, little blog.  This is an easy hop, so I hope you will stop by other blogs and enter those book giveaways, too!

The Giveaway:

From Goodreads:

The accident was just that — an accident. It was dark, it was raining, ALISON had two drinks in her, and the other car ran the stop sign. She just didn’t get out of the way fast enough. But now a little boy — not her own — is dead, and Alison finds herself trapped under the twin burdens of grief and guilt, and feeling increasingly estranged from her husband . . .

CHARLIE, who has his own burdens. He’s in a job he doesn’t love so that Alison can stay home with the kids (and why isn’t she more grateful for that?); he has a house in the suburbs and a long commute to and from the city each day. And the only thing can focus on these days is his secret, sudden affair with . . .

CLAIRE, Alison’s best friend. Bold where Alison is reserved; vibrant where Alison is demure, Claire has just had her first novel published, a thinly-veiled retelling of her childhood in South Carolina (which is also Alison’s, in a sense). But even in the whirlwind of publication, Claire can’t stop wondering if she should leave her husband . . .

BEN, an architect who is thoughtful, kind, and patient. And who wants nothing more than a baby, or two — in fact, exactly the kind of life that Charlie and Alison have . . .

Four people, two marriages, one lifelong friendship: everything is about to change.

My review can be found here.

To enter

To enter, please read the rules and then fill out the form below.

The rules:

  1. Anyone can enter. You do not need to have a blog.
  2. You do not have to be a follower of my blog or become a follower, although if you like my blog I hope you will! You can follow by email or through different social media sites, that you can find on the right of my blog bar.
  3. There will be one winner.
  4. You need a US address.
  5. Fill out the form below. You can enter the giveaway until Wednesday November 5th. I will close the giveaway when I turn on my computer on November 6th (Central time).
  6. Tweet about the giveaway for ONE extra entry. Use this text: Win Bird in Hand by Christina Baker Kline @booksintheburbs, in the Literary Giveaway Blog Hop hosted by @Leeswammes.  http://booksintheburbs.com/2014/11/01/the-literary-blog-hop-november-1-5-2014/
  7. I will notify the winner by email. The winner need to answer my email within 3 days, or I’ll announce a new winner.
  8. That’s it! Good luck and thanks for playing.

simple signature 1

Now start blog hopping!

For more giveaways check out these blogs. There are some real treasures out there for grabs!

Giveaways are worldwide, meaning people from most or all countries of the world can enter, unless mentioned otherwise.

 

 

  1. Leeswammes
  2. Read Her Like an Open Book (US/CA)
  3. My Book Self
  4. The Book Stop
  5. My Book Retreat (US)
  6. Books in the Burbs (US)
  7. Guiltless Reading
  8. Word by Word
  9. Juliet Greenwood
  10. BooksandLiliane
  11. Words for Worms (US)
  12. The Relentless Reader
  13. The Misfortune of Knowing
  14. The Friday Morning Bookclub (US)
  15. Readerbuzz
  16. Lavender Likes, Loves, Finds and Dreams
  17. The Emerald City Book Review
  18. Wensend

 

  1. Laurie Here
  2. A Cup Of Tea, A Friend, And A Book (US)
  3. Moon Shine Art Spot (US)
  4. I’d Rather Be Reading At The Beach (US)
  5. Lost Generation Reader
  6. Books on the Table (US)
  7. Orange Pekoe Reviews
  8. Words And Peace (US)
  9. Booklover Book Reviews
  10. Inside the Secret World of Allison Bruning (US)

Dinner with a Vet

Posted on Updated on

I don’t know if it’s due to the economy, road construction, or more people moving down South, but there has been an increase of homeless people on the corner of almost every big street.  As a family, it is our rule to never give money to panhandlers.  However, we donate money and items to shelters and organizations that help different causes we believe in: homeless vets, women and children, school drives, etc.

Yesterday, my husband, daughter, and I went to a cafeteria for dinner.  It was a little late and we were in a hurry to get our daughter home for bedtime.  As we pull into a parking lot, my husband notices this man slowly walking towards a dumpster to sit down.  E and I talk about it briefly, and agree for him to invite this person to get a plate of dinner with us.  The man, whose name is Ron, is hesitant and apprehensive.  However, he takes a chance and goes inside with us.  We have never invited a homeless man to come eat with us, but we weren’t driving anywhere, the place is pretty public, and E felt spiritually led to invite him for a meal.

The minute Ron enters the building, everyone turns to stare at him.  He is dirty, has flip flops so worn and weathered, that they almost meld with his skin. He looks overwhelmed and wants to leave, but we let him know that he is our guest and will be okay. He has never eaten at this place and doesn’t know what to expect. As my husband guides him through the line, the workers don’t know how to approach him, until they realize he is with us.  As soon as I get nervous, two police officers come in behind us to order, too.  It was reassurance, but also showed us that God was in control and we were to do His will, not ours.

Ron asked what he should eat, and E told him what he typically orders, so that is what was ordered.  He didn’t want to sit with us, because he felt he was imposing, but we encouraged him and let him know he was safe.  So, he ate with us.  We prayed, and ate our meal together.  During the meal, E and Ron had their military service in common. Both were in the Army, both worked in communications in the service, and E was stationed in the city that Ron used to live at.  We talked about his mom, his only child-a son, and about his dreams and past.  We laughed, talked, and shared a lot.  Through the course of our conversation, it really moved me to see that this was a young man: 52 years old, who served our country, is homeless, has to panhandle for money to help with food, has a lot of health issues that prohibit him from getting a manual labor job (no formal education), and the shame he feels because of his homelessness. That night, he was treated as all should be treated: with dignity.  He was amazed by the customer service and was shocked to see the waitress refill his drink, give him a cup to go, and just made him feel at home.

Before he left, we gave him a gift card so that he can go back and get a meal.  We talked to him about what to expect from service there, and what he can get while there.  He was amazed to know he could use their restroom, too.  He has a little AM/FM radio and loves to listen to the Houston Texans.  So, we told him to go on Sundays to watch the game and enjoy a meal, and to enjoy his time there.  He almost cried when he saw the card, and told us that no one has ever given him something that nice and without expectation.

We asked if he had any prayer needs, and he requested prayer for his prostate.  He goes to the VA and gets his meds and treatment. Please keep Ron in your prayers and that he feel surrounded by God’s peace.  He felt safe after we were finishing up dinner to tell us where he camps, in case we wanted to go by and visit him.  So, we walk back to the vehicle, he gives a hug, tells us thank you, and watches us drive off.  We told him we were honored to call him friend and he smiled and was so happy.  He said that maybe next time he will be the one to treat us with a cup of coffee, and we said we would love that.  It gave him so much joy to know we plan to visit him again.

I wouldn’t recommend picking up a homeless man to offer him a meal.  However, if you see one, it would be nice if you stop to give them some fries, a drink, maybe even a smile.   Don’t be unsafe, but always follow the nudge of the Holy Spirit, because we never know who God wants us to meet.  Ron truly felt that it was God led, as we did too, because he has a oncology appt. next week and last night we were able to pray for him.  We don’t know what will happen, but we do know that for that hour, we all got to laugh, reminisce, and enjoy friendship, over a delicious meal.

image

TLC Book Tours Review: Agatha Christie-The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah

Posted on Updated on

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (September 9, 2014)

Synopsis:

The bestselling novelist of all time.
The world’s most famous detective.
The literary event of the year—an all-new mystery featuring
Agatha Christie’s legendary hero Hercule Poirot.

Since the publication of her first novel in 1920, more than two billion copies of Agatha Christie’s books have been sold around the globe. Now, for the first time ever, the guardians of her legacy have approved a brand new novel featuring Dame Agatha’s most beloved creation, Hercule Poirot.

‘I’m a dead woman, or I shall be soon…’

Hercule Poirot’s quiet supper in a London coffeehouse is interrupted when a young woman confides to him that she is about to be murdered. She is terrified – but begs Poirot not to find and punish her killer. Once she is dead, she insists, justice will have been done.

Later that night, Poirot learns that three guests at a fashionable London Hotel have been murdered, and a cufflink has been placed in each one’s mouth. Could there be a connection with the frightened woman? While Poirot struggles to put together the bizarre pieces of the puzzle, the murderer prepares another hotel bedroom for a fourth victim…

 

My Review:

I was really excited about Sophie Hannah writing a book, based on Agatha Christie’s main characters: Hercule Poirot. He is away on vacation, taking a respite form his inspector duties. However, it’s not before long that a triple murder and an odd item found at the scene of each murder has him involved!

I was able to predict pretty quickly who had been murdered, but the motives and the roles of the others involved did throw me off a little. What I love most about the movies I have seen, which is very evident in this book, is that while the characters are trying to figure the mysteries out-the reader or viewer has a better vantage point and still clueless on some level! It’s just brilliant writing!!

The tone of the story, the different characters that all somehow interconnect, and the way the story unfolds makes for a great mystery story! It’s a classic read, with a little romantic surprise at the end. Overall, it’s a book that many Agatha Christie and mystery readers will want to read! It’s also a great book for those, like me, who love Sophie Hannah’s work and see how two great authors merge their writing together.

excellent cupcake 5

Thank you, TLC Book Tours and the publisher for giving me the opportunity to read and review the book! No forms of compensation were given.

Author, Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie is the most widely published author of all time, outsold only by the Bible and Shakespeare. Her books have sold more than a billion copies in English and another billion in a hundred foreign languages. She died in 1976.

Learn more about Agatha Christie through her official website.

 

Sophie Hannah, author

Sophie-Hannah

Internationally bestselling author Sophie Hannah breathes new life into the incomparable detective. In this thrilling tale, Poirot plunges into a mystery set in 1920s London—a diabolically clever puzzle that will test his brilliant skills and baffle and delight longtime Christie fans and new generations of readers discovering him for the first time. Authorized by Christie’s family, and featuring the most iconic detective of all time, this instant Christie classic is sure to be celebrated by mystery lovers the world over.

Connect with Sophie Hannah through her website, or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

Sophie’s Tour Stops

Monday, September 15th: A Bookish Way of Life

Wednesday, September 17th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Thursday, September 18th: The Road to Here

Thursday, October 2nd: From the TBR Pile

Tuesday, October 7th: A Bookworm’s World

Friday, October 10th: Jorie Loves a Story

Wednesday, October 15th: Olduvai Reads

Wednesday, October 15th: BoundbyWords

Wednesday, October 15th: Sara’s Organized Chaos

Wednesday, October 15th: My Bookshelf

Tuesday, October 28th: Wordsmithonia

Friday, October 31st: Books in the Burbs

Review & Gift Package Giveaway- Surf Sharks: The First Ride by Shelley Wolf

Posted on Updated on

Hardcover, 36 pages

Published March 1st 2014 by Surf Sharks Inc

Synopsis:

Surf Sharks: The First Ride is the first in a series of books. It’s an extraordinary story about how three young sharks and three young surfers come together to help each other escape danger and solve problems. They find friendship, respect, and a common love for the waves. This captivating adventure is filled with excitement, surprising characters, and fascinating facts about sharks. Surf Sharks—they’re righteous, radical, and always ready to ride! Check out the next big wave in children’s entertainment at surfsharks.com.

Press Release for Surf Sharks: The First Ride:

There’s a new kids action-comedy entertainment brand on the scene, all from the imagination of Chance Wolf, an industry-recognized comic book artist and toy designer.

Fully created and illustrated by Wolf, Surf Sharks follows the comedy adventures of a group of young surfers and sharks who forge a friendship and ride the waves together as they help each other solve daily challenges faced by all growing kids.

First book in the series, Surf Sharks: The First Ride is now available in all major book stores and online via Amazon Kindle and iTunes/iBooks in eBook version.  The debut book introduces the surfing sharks – MAVRIK, TALON and HEMI along with their surfer dude friends, RIP, OZZY and WADE as they find that by working together, they can take on even the biggest problems.

Chance brings over 30 years experience as a commercial artist with high-profile credits in comic books that encompass Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Spawn and Shadowhawk.  He also received an Emmy Certificate for his work as a main character designer for the Emmy Award Winning HBO animated series SPAWN and worked in product design for McFarlane Toys’ bestselling X-Files collectibles line. 

With the tremendous popularity surrounding Sharks, Surf Sharks is a natural for today’s kids.  In fact, Google Trends reports that sharks now holds the #1 spot for animal search terms, not to mention the major success of such shark-themed films and television programming as Sharknado and Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus and Discovery’s ubiquitous Shark Weeks.

Born in 1963 and raised in Eastern Washington, Chance showed a passion for art from the time he could hold a pencil.  As a child, he devoted much of his time nose-deep into comic books admiring the art and mimicking it the best he could on any piece of paper available (including his homework).  Selling his first piece of art at age 11 was a clear indicator of a prospering career as an Illustrator that has now spanned over three decades.

As a young adult, his desire to grow as an artist motivated him to focus on his drawing skills as he hit the drawing board to hone his childhood comic book passion.  His path towards becoming a professional comic book artist began when his talents were discovered by an associate of iconic industry creative Todd McFarlane.  Chance began a tenure with McFarlane that would span over ten years, allowing the new artist to work on internationally recognized comic book titles such as Shadowhawk, Spawn and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles just to name a few.

Chance worked side by side with Todd, assisting in drawing the number one selling comic book Spawn and was called upon to join with a team of artists to handle the task of Main Character Designers for the HBO Emmy Award winning Animated Series Spawn, in which Chance received and Emmy Certificate acknowledging his work on the series.  Chance became Todd’s right hand man on numerous assignments, including toy action figure art direction, designs for licensees and convention booth creation.  Chance was hand-picked by Todd to visit with X-Files creator Chris Carter in Hollywood in order to help finalize designs for McFarlane’s popular X-Files toy line.

Observing his son’s fascination with sharks, Chance was inspired to create Surf Sharks, which he has launched as a book series, with the first release Surf Sharks: The First Ride now available in all leading book stores in hard cover and online as an eBook via Amazon Kindle and iTunes/iBooks.my book thoughts

I absolutely love the book cover, the storyline, and the illustrations!  This is definitely a great tool to be used in the classroom, at home for your young child, and makes a great gift.  The best reviewer is a child, so I gave the book to my daughter, who immediately was immersed in the book. I read it to her, her brother read it to her, and she loved it.  Not only did my daughter love it, my college aged student loved it, too! He even remarked how he wish there had been a series like that when he was younger!  Each page is so vibrant and draws the young reader in!  The illustrations are fantastic and definitely make the storyline pop that much more!

When I first looked at the book, it reminded me of the cartoon show my sons used to watch: Rocket Power and the movie, Shark Tales.  In this book, the sharks are the kid’s surfboards, but in a friendly, non-violent way.  Okay, no PETA!  No animals were harmed in the making of this book!

Within the storyline, children will learn about sharks.  An added bonus were the collector cards, pop up characters, and sticker book.  The only issue I had was the book had only 1 girl in the book, who shows up at the very end of the story.  However, it didn’t seem to bother my daughter too much.  She was looking for the girl character, using the collector card, but was okay about it.  Maybe in the future books that are published, more girls will be featured in the storyline.

Aside from the educational facts about the sharks, there is a wonderful storyline about self-acceptance and accepting others regardless of differences.  Overall, it’s an excellent book that will make for a great addition to any children’s bookshelf!

excellent cupcake 5

Wouldn’t you want to read this book to your child or give this excellent book to a little one? Great news!  The publisher has offered to give one reader a gift pack:

- A copy of Surf Sharks: The First Ride

- A sticker book

- 32 Surf Shark stickers with fun shark facts on the back

- A set of pop-up collector cards

Giveaway Details: 

1 random winner will be selected to win the gift pack, listed above.  Simply fill out the form and the winner will be notified via email.  The winner will have 24 hours to respond.  If no reply is given, another winner will be chosen.  The winner’s email will be sent to the publisher, who will then mail it directly.

Giveaway ends: November 14, 2014

US residents only.

 

A Special Reading with Kathleen Kent!

Posted on Updated on

On Tuesday, October 28, I had the opportunity to meet the wonderfully, talented author, Kathleen Kent.  It was my first time ever to attend a book reading! Yes, I know, how can a blogger not attend a book reading/signing event? For one, not many authors come to Houston.  Secondly, when they have come, it is usually on a school night and it’s hard to get away when my children need me at home.  However, I am so glad I did go the other night and I’m glad that it was to see Kathleen Kent!

Back in 2010, I was the book club organizer for a book club in Clear Lake.  Each month, our club members would select books to vote as the Book of the Month.  I had seen online a book, The Heretic’s Daughter, and was intrigued.  I have always held a fascination for the Salem witch trials, as I had studied about it in college and this book sounded like a great read.  So, that book was my choice, and everyone else agreed.  It became our first, and only book to be read during the month of December.  Typically, December was a month that we did not meet for a book club discussion because of the holidays, but we all agreed to make an exception for this book.

IMG_4608
I purchased 3 copies! One for me, one for my son, and yes…one for you! I will be giving one of these books as a giveaway!! So, stay tuned….

In December, about a group of 8, met at a small kolache shop in Friendswood: Mornings Kolaches.  We all ate and chatted about the book, and were all super excited to learn that Kathleen had written a prequel to the book: The Wolves of Andover (which was later named, The Traitor’s Wife).  Unanimously, Kathleen’s second book was chosen as our May Book of the Month in May, 2011.  I contacted Kathleen and she agreed to meet with our book club via Skype. We were absolutely excited and had an in depth discussion with her at a book club member’s house.  I wrote a post about that experience, which you can find here.

From there, Kathleen and I stayed connected via social media and I followed the success of her third book, The Outcasts.  I have to admit, I didn’t read that book.  Even though I love Kathleen’s writing style, western stories are not my favorite kind of stories.  I know…I’m Texan and that’s so anti-Texan…but, my love for westerns stopped with Charles Bronson movies.  I’m just not into them.  However, that was soon going to change after visiting with Kathleen Kent!

IMG_4613
Author, Kathleen Kent, reading from The Outcasts.

 

Hearing Kathleen talk at the Brazos Book Store, my interest has been piqued!  It really made a difference hearing Kathleen talk about the way the book story evolved, where it was started, and the history behind the different characters (based on real people).  This is not your typical western!  The heroine is not a sweet, helpless woman asking to be saved.  The hero is not a tough, shooting, boot wearing man…well, I’m sure he wore boots, but you know what I mean!  If you a fan of western fiction, love a great story about the history of Texas, live in Houston (Armand Bayou is mentioned), and want a book that is full of adventure, new beginnings, murder, mixed in with true history, then you will also want to read this book!

IMG_4625
Taking a picture with Kathleen Kent.

If you haven’t read any books from Kathleen Kent, start with The Outcasts.  Then, you have to read The Heretic’s Daughter and The Traitor’s Wife, because those are some of my all-time favorite books.  Kathleen Kent isn’t just a historian, who loves research.  She loves to create stories and build characters around great storylines.  Her books aren’t heavy with historical fact, rather it enhances it and brings to life what you read.

Some Great Awards & Recognition:

The OutcastsAmerican Library Association’s “Top Pick” Historical Fiction in 2014 as well as being the recipient of a Will Rogers Medallion award for Western fiction.

Because I want to share her books with you, I will be hosting a book giveaway, that she autographed for you, in December! I’m choosing December because that is the month I first read her first book, and it’s definitely a gift that you will enjoy!

Connect with the Author:

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Blog

Don’t forget about my October Book Giveaway! It ends October 31, 2014!

 

simple signature 1