Friday, December 16, 2011

Blogging for Books: The Canary List

The Canary List by Sigmund Brouwer

From the back cover:
Protected by the dark of night, Jaimie Piper runs. But is anywhere safe when Evil is hunting you?
She’s just a twelve year-old girl, bumped around between foster homes and relegated to school classes for challenged kids, those lagging in their test scores or with behavioral issues. But her real problem is that she can sense something the other kids can’t—something dark. Something compelling her to run for her life.
All Crockett Grey wants is to mark the anniversary of his daughter’s death alone.
But when his student Jaimie comes to him, terrified, her need for protection collides with his grief, and a tangled web of bizarre events sends them both spiraling toward destruction.

Crockett’s one hope of getting his life back is to uncover the mysterious secrets of Jaimie’s past and her strange gift. It isn’t long before his discoveries lead him to a darker conspiracy, secrets guarded by the highest seat of power in the world—the Vatican.

My Thoughts:

This was a VERY, VERY good book.  The first chapter or two were pretty spooky.  I love to read in bed at night and I was afraid after reading those chapters that I wouldn't be able to sleep.  However, the book became more mystery/suspense after those first few chapters and less spooky.  Once I started reading I could hardly put it down until I got to the end.

If you are a fan of The DaVinci Code or the National Treasure movies, you'll love the political and religious intrigue in these books.  You'll see the dark side of those who are so desperate for power, they will do anything to get it. 

The characters in this book are wonderful.  Brouwer creates main characters who are horribly flawed - all by circumstances out of their control.  And I love every flaw they have.  Brouwer also did a great job of not tying up every loose end in the book.  For the most part, the big questions are answered; however, he leaves a lot of things up to the imagination of the reader.  I think this would be a great book club book because I would love to have people to discuss all those loose ends with. 

I highly recommend this book.

5 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

All About Me: Christmas Edition

OK, so this might be 6th gradish, but I just couldn't resist.

I saw this list on Taylor's blog and decided I'd throw my answers out there too. 

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Neither - don't like egg nog and I'm allergic to chocolate (shocking - I know).  But I do love apple cider!

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? Santa sits them under the tree.  They are the only unwrapped presents.  That's how we know they are from him.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? White on the tree.  White and blue on the house.

4. Do you hang mistletoe? No.

5. When do you put your decorations up? The Saturday after Thanksgiving, after I've recovered from Black Friday shopping.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish? I don't know that we have a lot of foods are solely made at Christmas.  But I do love anything with cinnamon in it - cinnamon bread, cinnamon rolls, etc.

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child? I loved our Advent calendar.  It was a fabric tree that we would pin wooden ornaments onto.  The ornament for the 24th was Santa.  The three of us kids would have to take turns pinning Santa on, so you only got to do it once every 3 years, but it was SOOOO exciting when it was your year.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? Sad to say, but I don't think I ever believed in Santa.  I always knew it was my parents.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? We celebrate on Christmas Eve with Tim's extended family so we open several gifts on Christmas Eve with them.  But all the gifts to our immediate family (me, Tim and the kids) must be opened on Christmas Day.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? It's prelit - Wahoo! So we just add ornaments.  I usually let the kids do most of the decorating.  There's really no theme, just things we've collected over the years.  The kids each have a little tree in their rooms that they decorate any way they want to.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? Love the looks of it.  Don't like having to walk or drive in it.

12. Can you ice skate? Yes, I was blessed with the gift of balance.  My husband was not.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? No.

14. What’s the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Spending time with my family.  I also love watching the kids open up their gifts.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? Once again - I like anything with cinnamon in it.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? I like it all.  I like decorating the house.  I like helping the kids do their Advent calendars.  I like going to houses of our extended families and hanging out with them.  I just like it all.

17. What tops your tree? An angel.

18. Which do you prefer giving or receiving? I love to give gifts, but, hey, I like to receive them as well. 

19. Candy Canes: Yuck or Yum? Yum, I like peppermint, but only in small amounts.

20. Favorite Christmas show? Movie? Miracle on 34th Street - the original one.

21. Saddest Christmas Song? OK, I was going to put The Christmas Shoes one, but then I heard this one this morning.  Most depressing Christmas song ever - hands down.  (Warning: If you visit the YouTube link, be sure to have tissues on hand!)

22. What is your favorite Christmas song? Mary Did You Know?

OK, Now it's your turn.  How would you fill out this list?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Letter from Santa

My kids got these in the mail yesterday.

In case you can't read them, they are letters from Santa.

Only I never signed up for any letters from Santa.

All I did was help my kids send out their letter to Santa, addressed to "Santa, North Pole."

Guess where these came from?

North Pole, Alaska.

And the return address was "US Postal Service."

All I can think is that some nice person up in Alaska sends letters back out to kids who send letters to Santa.  My children's names were handwritten on the letter, as was Santa's name. The address on the envelope was handwritten as well.  That took a little bit of time.

So, nameless postal person up in Alaska, THANK YOU!!!!  You made my kids' year by sending them their own letter from Santa.

What about you?  Did your kids send out a Santa letter this year?  Did you get one back?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Unsolved Mystery

I have to apologize.

I didn't mean to become just a book review blog.

However, I've really not been myself for about a month now.  I started having bad abdominal pains 2 weeks before Thanksgiving.  They are on my left side which, apparently, baffles doctors, because you don't have many organs on the left side.

After a battery of tests, they've determined that there is nothing they can find wrong with my reproductive organs - at least the ones I have left.  So, it's on to the GI doctor for me.  It took 2 weeks to get in to see him, but I've been told that's pretty good.  Some people have to wait months.  Guess that's the up side of being in pain.

Anyway, that appointment is later this week and until I figure out what's wrong, I've been doing a lot of resting and taking pain pills. 

I have been advised not to exercise until we solve this, so it's now been a month since I've seen the gym.  That's hard for me.  Exercise has always been my stress-reliever. 

So I haven't really had a lot to blog about. 

Maybe I should use my downtime to figure out blog topics...

Or I could just read more books and review them on here.

Either way, I just pray this is resolved soon.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Booksneeze: Smitten

Smitten By Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Denise Hunter, & Diann Hunt 

The unthinkable happens to the sleepy, little town of Smitten, Vermont.  Smitten Lumber, the town's paper mill and main employer, announces that it is closing.  Unable to bear the thought of their town dying, four single friends get together and devise a way to capitalize on the town's name and keep Smitten in business.  

Bold Natalie, trendy Julia, prim and proper Shelby and athletic Reese persuade the town leaders to turn Smitten into the romantic, honeymoon getaway of the Northeast.  While transforming the town, each woman must deal with her own insecurities and, hopefully, find love along the way.

My Thoughts:

The set-up of this book was so unique and interesting to me.  It's divided into four sections, each one being it's own little novella.  Each section is about one of the four friends and is written by a different author (several of them being my favorite authors, I might add).  Each author put a little bit of her personality into their character (as told in the interview with the authors at the end of the book).  Also each section is written about a different season within the year it takes to transform the town.

I've never read a book that is distinctly written by four authors.  As I was reading, I could tell the different styles of each author, but the book flowed together really well.  It was really one main story line - the transformation of this little town and the people in it - but with separate little story lines within it.  The authors and editor did a really good job of making it work together.

As for each individual story line, I thought they were pretty predicable.  What you wanted to happen, happened.  But that was OK.  Sometimes it's good to read great romantic stories that turn out just like you want them to and that don't require a lot of thought on the part of the reader.  

Having the plot develop in a shorter story or novella, could mean that characters aren't fully developed.  However, that was not the case in this book.  I thought each of the four friends had very distinct personalities that show up in each of the four stories.

This was a quick read and would be great for cold winter nights when all you want to do is cozy up next to the fire.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

The Kindle version of Smitten was provided to me by Booksneeze in exchange for a review.  All opinions are my own.