The Secret Keeper

November 29, 2012

The Secret Keeper
By: Kate Morton
463 Pages

While enjoying a lazy day, Laurel Nicolson sees a man walk up the driveway. What happens next changes her life forever. Now, as her mother is dying, Laurel is on a quest for answers to what happened when she was 16 years old.

This book was AMAZING! I have never read  a Kate Morton book before, and I can tell you I am now a fan who will be enjoying her works. Kate's writing style is melodic. She has the gift of telling a story in a beautiful way.

The story centers around Laurel who watched her Mother kill a stranger. The murder was deemed self-defense and rarely spoken of afterward. However, Laurel couldn't out run her curiosity. Now that her Mother is in her final days, Laurel is determined to get all the answers to the questions she never asked.

The book goes back and forth between Laurel's quest and her Mother, Dolly's (Dorothy), story. You see her odd family place and what happened during the war that forever altered her life. You get a front row seat to her romance with Jimmy. You also are there when Dolly meets the woman who completely changes Dolly's life. Once Dolly meets Vivian, nothing is ever the same again. However, is this friendship everything is appears to be?

Kate gives you up close glimpses into all the main characters' lives. She paints an amazing picture with who they are individually, and how they interact together. You get to see how misconceptions can lead to mislead decisions. You watch as revenge unfolds into tragedy, and ultimately how tragedy turns into beauty.

While the book is a long one at 463 pages, it is a story that is worth reading. The Secret Keeper is a book you are not likely to forget once you move onto other books.

Rating: Buy It!!

Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks

November 23, 2012

I have been an dedicated Nicholas Sparks reader ever since I read "The Wedding." All of his books are beautifully written, I now have 15 of his books on my shelf which I have read and enjoyed! He is an AMAZING writer and it makes me want to marry a guy like the lead character in his books! I admit, I have had this book on my shelf for a month or so. I've put it off to read other books on my list, however when I saw the commercial for the movie coming out next year in February, I KNEW I had to put it on my next book to read! I started this book on November 20th, and finished it today, the 23rd! I completely threw myself into this book and the story.

It started off with Katie, a down on her luck girl looking for a job and a new start in life. She never talked about her past with anyone, not her co-workers or her next door neighbor "Jo." As she became a regular customer at a local grocery store, she became friends with the owner "Alex" and his friendly kids "Josh" and "Kristen." They started hanging out on a regular basis and she became more involved with the family. However, as time goes on, Katie starts talking about her more personal life and where she grew up and came from: bad parents who ended up dying when she was young, as well as an abusive husband who she ran away from. She tried running away twice but failed on both attempts. He threatened he would kill her if she tried to run away again. However, she tried reporting it to the police but they wouldn't do anything about it. Why you may ask? Because he WAS the police! One of the detectives at the precinct. Katie was a smart girl, and it took her a while of planning but she was able to concoct a plan to get away which worked! However, is Katie's life at Southport too good to be true? Can she really escape without her alcoholic husband trying to find her?

I could not believe how quickly I was pulled into this story, picking it up as often as I had the chance! I started it at work, and every chance I got (when the boss stepped away from his desk or left early) I busted it out right away!! As the story progressed, I found myself being pulled into the action, fully immersing myself into the small seaside town and the people in it! It's sad to know that this actually happens in real life: abusive in a relationship. People should never have to suffer something so bad as that, either mental abusive or physical abuse. Katie was a strong girl and did what she had to in order to live!

Nicholas Sparks has always been one of my favorite authors! Every time I hear of a new book coming out I look forward to reading it as I know he wouldn't disappoint me! This book definitely didn't disappoint me, I loved it from cover to cover!

Dead on Ice by Lauren Carr

November 16, 2012

This is the first book I’ve read by Lauren Carr and I extremely enjoyed it! It is the first in the series and I cannot wait to read the books that follow!

What would you do if you found the body of a porn star in a basement in the basement of your cousin? The books begins with a bomb being found in the house of a local attorney. However, the bomb failed to blow up a freezer: one that contained the body of famous porn star “Cherry Pickens.”  Cherry (later discovered to be Cheryl Smith) disappeared from Hollywood in the summer of 1985 and was never heard of. Cameron, a cop, and Joshua, a prosecuting attorney, work together in this case and uncover some fascinating details

Rewind 35 years to the year of 1977 - It starts off at a local ice skating rink when a group of people just graduated from high school and are having fun. However, it turns to nightmare when Cheryl Smith starts taunting the sweet girl Angie. Cheryl thinks Angie is sneaking around with Ned, Cheryl’s boyfriend. After everyone departs for the night Kyle, Angie’s boyfriend, takes her home and is planning on proposing to her later that night. However, when Kyle calls the following morning Angie never came home! Everyone suspects the bully Cheryl committed the crime but did she? And if she didn’t, who did?  

Fast forward 35 years when you find Cherry Pickens dead in the freezer found in the basement. However, when a bomb is shortly exploded almost destroying this evidence, the case is brought into light again! Cameron and Joshua are both a detective and a defense attorney that work together in this case to solve who the killer actually is.

The various threads start coming together, but in the end, the intricacies kept me turning pages and shaking my head. First I was sure it was this person, then that one, then several individuals sprang to mind!.

This is definitely a page-turner! I look forward to reading my mysteries written by Lauren!

Winning Balance

November 14, 2012

Winning Balance
By: Shawn Johnson
The world met Shawn Johnson, a little powerhouse of a girl, on the gymnastics stage. She vaulted her way onto the scene and quickly skyrocketed past every one's expectations. By the time she was 16, she was competing in the Olympics and thriving under more stress and pressure than most of us will ever experience. However, her gymnastics career wasn't without it's disappointments. Not all her dreams came true, and she had to learn some of life's hardest lessons with the world watching.
I've been a fan of Shawn since seeing her doing gymnastics on TV. I was watching her and amazed at all she could do. Obviously, I only knew a small fraction of her life. But, that small fraction held wisdom I could learn from. As I read her book, I couldn't believe how such a young girl had such a mature head on her shoulders. I truly wish more of today's athletes thought the way she did.
Her first coach informed her Mother that Shawn had no talent. Thankfully, her Mother didn't listen. Shawn later moved to a new gym that opened in her home town and history began. Through the help of a strong family base and loving people around her, Shawn took the world by storm. Beijing was the place where her Olympic dreams would come true, though not in the way she originally thought. I was constantly amazed at how Shawn was able to find the positive amongst every negative she faced. Instead of letting a disappointment stop her in her tracks, she chose to focus on the good. A key example of this is when she's at the Olympics, ready to do her floor routine in the hopes of scoring her dream: a gold medal in the Women's All-Around. However, as she's waiting for her turn she quickly learns her fellow teammate (and friend) got a higher score than her and there was no way she would be able to get the gold. Right there, on the floor with cameras rolling, she realizes her dream is gone. However, she is able to turn that thinking around. Amazing!
The book doesn't just focus on her gymnastics career. You travel with her to Los Angeles as she does Dancing With The Stars. She takes you through the whole experience- including the stalker incident that almost stopped everything in it's tracks. Again, in minutes she's able to turn the tables on a negative situation and focus on the positive. In the end, Shawn wins the show!
Shawn Johnson is an inspiration to the world- especially athletes. Through Faith, family, and a firm grounding she is able to live her life with dignity and respect. Anyone can learn from her lessons and experience.

Crossing On The Paris

November 13, 2012

Crossing On The Paris
By: Dana Gynther
3 women board the Paris on it's maiden voyage headed to the United States. The next 5 days will change their lives. Constance is going to France in the hopes of bringing her estranged sister home to help her ill mother get better. Going against her husband's wishes in traveling alone and unable to convince her sister to return with her, the once hopeful Constance boards the ocean liner feeling like a failure. Will her fate change on the journey home? Vera has spent more than 30 years of her life abroad and is finally returning to the States. Is her family ready? Why is she coming home after all these years? Julie is leaving her mourning parents behind to take a job working on the Paris. All of her brothers have died in The Great War and her parents never recovering from their devastating losses, Julie is hoping to find a better life aboard the ship. Will she?
Fans of historical fiction may enjoy this book. I found the storyline too slow moving, myself. However, maybe others won't. It was interesting to see the background of each character. Each story was captivating in it's own way. I just wish they had been told at a faster pace.
Rating: Borrow From The Library

By: Carole Rummage
Reviewed By: Debbie Hill

Laney is a gymnast awaiting her scores so she could make it to nationals, that's when her world came crumbling around her as she found out she lost her parents and autistic brother and now had to live with her aunt and uncle. While living there, she met Gabe: the handsome and friendly guy with this mystery disease that no one would inform her about. Being with him, she felt whole, she felt complete. After a death occurs in the town, Gabe and his family take off. Suspicious maybe? Well, that's when Laney finally comes to conclusion of what his disease is. Can she live with it? Will this be her happily ever after?

I admit, there are times in this book where I just could not put it down, it had the "it" factor where it just pulled you in. However, as much as I enjoyed this romance between the two, my favorite part was the relationship she had with her aunt and uncle. In the end, they all needed one another to help them fill an empty place in their hearts.

Can You Tell This Is A Knock-Off?

November 4, 2012

Can You Tell This Is A Knock-Off:
Finding Your Identity In Christ
By: Missy Horsfall & Jocelyn Hamsher
177 Pages

Can You Tell This Is a Knock-Off? Finding Your True Identity in Christ offers a fresh perspective on identity. Short, easy-to-read chapters—overflowing with humor and insightful Bible-based encouragement—will inspire a new outlook, as you begin to discover your originality and value in the Master Creator.

The subject of this book is one that we can all relate to: our identity. As I was growing up, I never felt like I fit in- anywhere. I never felt like I was good enough. My identity has always been an issue with me. While my insecurities don't control me like they did in my youth, I'd be lying if I said I had a clear description of who I am.

For anyone who is religious, your identity is a personal and important issue. This book is written for Christians. Can You Tell This Is A Knock-off? provides that warm and loving embrace that reminds us we are not alone in trying to figure ourselves out. It also gives you that nudge to focus on what God wants for you and not let the wrong influences define you and your actions.

I enjoyed reading this book. In fact, as soon as I got the book I was excited to start it. Lately, I've been feeling changes coming in my life and this book was just what I needed. I loved how the authors put in their own experiences- good and bad- throughout the book. I didn't feel preached at, but like I was having a Girls Lunch where we opened up. I plan to buy this book and read it again.

The Air We Breathe by Christa Parrish

November 1, 2012

I would have to admit, this book did take me a little bit longer to finish than some other books I have recently read. However, after I started to read it and get involved in the stories and characters I truly enjoyed this book! Not only was it filled with mystery and intrigue, it was filled with faith and religion which is very enlightening!

Molly is an 18 year old girl who doesn’t leave the house, this being her choice of course. Running a wax museum with her mom, she sees people coming and going as an everyday routine. She fears going outside for something that happened to her in her past. Both she and her mother Louise don’t speak of what happened until one day when a stranger from the past walks into their lives and rekindles the past.

6 years ago, Claire Rodriguez became a newly single woman: having just divorced her husband, as well as losing her 2 kids and baby in a horrible car accident. One day at the park, fate brought Claire and a little girl together. The girl, however, was mute and didn’t talk to anyone. On this day, the girl finally starts talking to Claire which shocks her mother. One Saturday as Claire goes to their house to make a visit, both the girl and the mother are gone with no way to track them down.

One of my favorite parts of the book is the presence of religion. Molly has a bible in her room which she keeps hidden. I laughed at the part where she actually stated she took the Bible from a hotel room where she was visiting. In her defense, the last owner of the Bible did write a note saying the person can take the book if they want. :)

In the end, Will Molly and Claire be able to help one another fix the problems of their past so they can move on to have a happy future? This book was filled with drama, intrigue, love, perseverance, and faith in that anything can happen. I truly enjoyed reading this book – this book inspires me to have faith and believe in my religion! I look forward to reading more books written by Christa Parrish!

A Snowglobe Christmas

A SnowGlobe Christmas
By: Linda Goodnight & Lissa Manley.
224 Pages
Reviewed By: Betsey Brooks
I recently finished reading "A Snowglobe Christmas" by Linda Goodnight and Lissa Manley. Coming from the North East, these stories brought back wonderful memories of a small town Christmas. Both stories center around the weeks leading up to Christmas.  A Snowglobe is snuggled deep in the mountains of Montana. It has become well known for its picturesque setting and festive atmosphere. Every store, house, church and lamp post is thoroughly decorated for Christmas. Tourists from all over come to share in the town's Christmas Celebrations. From winter sports to charming stores the residents love Christmas and are pleased to share with the many visitors.

The first story Yuletide Homecoming, by Linda Goodnight, is the story of a young successful woman returning home to run the family business. Dana Caldwell is excited to have her daughter home and is looking ahead to retiring. Amy is just as excited to return home and help run "The Snowglobe Gift Shoppe". There is just one cloud hanging over this return and his name is Rafe Westfield, her ex-fiancee. But Amy has moved on and is anxious to celebrate the holidays with her Mom. Both mom and Rafe are about to shake up Amy's world in ways she never imagined. Will Amy leave again or stay in Snowglobe? God has all the answers she will need.
The second story A Family's Christmas Wish, by Lissa Manley, centers around Sara Kincaid and Owen Larsen. Both are single parents with three year old daughters. Owen arrives at "The Snowglobe Bed and Breakfast," owned by Sara, in answer to her emergency call concerning a big leak in her roof. Owen has brought his shy daughter Jane with him. Sara's daughter Mia is thrilled to see a playmate and whisks Jane off to the world of make believe.
With the girls happily playing Owen and Sara's attention turns to the leak. It turns out fixing the roof is going to cost a lot. Sara does not have the money. The holiday bookings were lost because of this leak . Owen has made plans to move out of town before Christmas so a job as involved as this will not fit into the one week he has left. God has other plans. The compromise that is finally worked out is almost too good to believe. When Owen reluctantly agrees to attend the town's Christmas Tree Lighting, he is surprised how much both he and Jane enjoy sharing it with Sara and Mia. A blizzard, prayers and a near fatal accident change Owen and Sara's life forever.
Both stories are a Christmas delight, uplifting and will put you in the mood for Christmas. So break out a cup of cocoa, settle into a comfy spot and drift into the charming town of Snowglobe.

A Walk in the Park by Jill Mansell

I have never heard of Jill Mansell, let alone read one of her books, so when I saw the cover and read what it was about, I knew I wanted to read it! This was a nice quick read, predictable at times. All the characters are likeable, and the book revolves around each of their story lines at the same time.
Lara is just a teen when she finds out she is pregnant, (whle her dad and boyfriend don't know that yet) her dad kicks her out and she turns to her aunt to stay with. 18 years later, Lara's dad dies and when she comes back for the funeral she realizes the house was left in her name. So moving back to her hometown, Bath, she finally introduces her daughter, Gigi, to her father, Flynn. The interation between Flynn and Gigi was particularly endearing to me. I found myself smiling and laughing when it came to their parts. Consequently, the interaction between Flynn and Lara is also filled with chemistry and love. Lara is determined to keep the relationship on a friendship-based level for the sake of her daughter, but does Flynn feel the same way? No. He is determined to win her back, but when Lara starts to get jealous of another woman in Flynn's life - will it be too late for her?
Lara's best friend from high school, Evie, is about to get married. On her wedding day, she realizes some last minute facts about her fiance, Joel, and runs out on him . As Evie decides to move in with Lara, Joel still has a never-ending quest to win back the love of his life. But, will it be too late for him? Can she forgive him? At the same time, Evie also gets set up by Bonnie (Joel's mom) as well as Lara. Will one of those suitors capture her attention instead? 
I thoroughly enjoyed this book by Jill. This was filled with twists and turns along the way and really kept your attention! Although it was slightly boring at times, I look forward to reading many more of her books! 

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