A book I really want to share

A few weeks ago I was asked to review a copy of the book Gifts From The Heart by Victoria Osteen.  I had made the decision not to do reviews a few weeks previous to the offer.  Because I was curious about the story, I decided to go ahead and review the book anyway.  I am very glad I did.

The book is very heartfelt with it’s tale of children who wish to honor a king but have no money for gifts.  Instead the children decide to put on a show to celebrate the king.  They learn that each one of them has a special talent even if it comes from within.  I read the book with Chick and she loved the bright, colorful pictures and the rhyming of the story.  The illustrations were playful and the prose was fun and creative.

We enjoyed reading this book together so much that I’m giving away one copy for you to read with your child!  Here’s what you can do to win a copy; simply leave me a comment and tell me who you would read this book with (or who you would give it to as a gift!)

The giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents and will run through next Tuesday, November 2.  It will close at 11:59 pm eastern time.

Good luck!

Book Review: My Soul To Keep by Rachel Vincent

My Soul To Keep by Rachel Vincent is the third book in the Soul Screamers series (free prequel e-novella also available on Kindle).  I initially stumbled upon the e-novella while searching for something free from Kindle.  Once I started there I had to know what happens to Kaylee Cavanaugh.  Kaylee is a banshee and when someone dies she starts screaming for their soul.

In the third book, Kaylee and her banshee boyfriend Nash, are trying to figure out how demon’s breath, a deadly addictive substance from the Netherworld, has made into the human world.  And not just into the human world but onto their high school campus.

The third book touches on the relationship between Kaylee and Nash and really forces Kaylee to make some tough choices.  Vincent removed the layer of perfection that surrounds Nash in the previous two books and this can only lead to great things for the future.  In some respects the way Nash was portrayed in this third book was frustrating.  The choices he made seemed to veer too far from the way I’ve come to view the character in the previous books.  I did not agree with all the choices the author made for Nash, specifically Nash allowing Kaylee to be possessed.  It felt a bit off and I was initially disappointed.  Having come to invest quite a bit of time in the characters of Kaylee and Nash, I would certainly be sorry to see their relationship come to an abrupt end in book 4 (coming early 2011).

There were some small bits that did distract me slightly while reading.  The characters always seem to be eating and drinking.  Occasionally it felt jarring in a scene to see them reach for a Coke in the middle of something particularly important to the story. (When Nash disappears into the Netherworld, Kaylee reaches for a Coke.  It just doesn’t seem to fit with the suspense of the plot and I thought Kaylee’s manner was far too calm for the moment.)

Overall, Vincent does an excellent job of portraying the real choices teens today face in this book; drugs, peer pressure and teen sex.  The characters in Soul Screamers are believable and multi-dimensional.  The story line intertwines fantasy elements with real life situations.  I’ve enjoyed reading the series and I am excited to see where Vincent will take the characters next.

*I was not provided with a copy of the book in exchange for this review.  I chose to write this review because I enjoyed the series.  The opinion expressed is solely my own.

Reading with Blogging Mama

The selection I have been reading, I admit I didn’t pick it myself and was pretty hesitant to order it after reading one review that was less than favorable.  But… it seems (so far, as yes, I am recommending another book I am still in the process of reading) fairly good.  I think expats would find many of her struggles familiar in this book.  

The book is Beyond the Sky and the Earth by Jamie Zeppa.  I recently joined a woman’s book group and this is the selection for May’s meeting.  The description from Amazon.com:

As a teacher of English literature, Jamie Zeppa would understand how the story of her journey into Bhutan could be fit into the convenient box of “coming-of-age romance,” a romance with a landscape, a people, a religion, and a dark, irresistible student. An innocent, young Catholic woman from a Canadian mining town who had “never been anywhere,” Zeppa signed up for a two-year stint teaching in a remote corner of the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan. Despite the initial shock of material privation and such minor inconveniences as giardia, boils, and leeches, Zeppa felt herself growing into the vast spaces of simplicity that opened up beyond the clutter of modern life. Alongside her burgeoning enchantment, a parallel realization that all was not right in Shangri-La arose, especially after her transfer to a college campus charged with the politics of ethnic division. Still she maintained her center by devouring the library’s Buddhist tracts and persevering in an increasingly fruitful meditation practice. When the time came for her to leave, she had undergone a personal transformation and found herself caught between two worlds that were incompatible and mutually incomprehensible. Zeppa’s candid, witty account is a spiritual memoir, a travel diary, and, more than anything, a romance that retraces the vicissitudes of ineluctable passion.
So far it is a pretty good book.  She has just recently been transferred from Pema Gatshel teaching grade two to the Sherubtse College in Kanglung.  There are things I can relate to in her story in some ways.  She leaves Canada and goes to the middle of nowhere where she has running water only sometimes, no electricity and no idea how to adapt to the ‘cultural norm’.  She feels like an outsider and is lost and desperate at times for home.  I can relate to some of that even though we do not have the water and electricity problem here.  It’s an interesting read thus far.  I do hope that the review I did read regarding her getting involved with one of her college students (she herself is 23 when this takes place) does not influence my current liking of the book.
On another note if the last half is really bad, I can dedicate myself to my newly arrived book and cd on learning Gaelic instead 🙂

Reading with Blogging Mama

I’ve thought of something to encourage more reading time (not that I need any encouragement to do that!) and highlight some great books.  I will (try) to do a weekly or monthly reading selection post with review and synopsis.  This may be because I just recently bought some more books (though not as many as my Hubby – surprise of the year he bought more books than I did on vacation this time).  

The first book I want to talk about I haven’t even finished yet.  I am about 2/3 of the way through it.  But it is excellent.  

The book is Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum.  Here is the synopsis from the back cover of the book:
For fifty years, Anna Schlemmer has refused to talk about her life in Germany during World War II. Her daughter, Trudy, was only three when she and her mother were liberated by an American soldier and went to live with him in Minnesota. Trudy’s sole evidence of the past is an old photograph: a family portrait showing Anna, Trudy, and a Nazi officer, the Obersturmführer of Buchenwald. 

Driven by the guilt of her heritage, Trudy, now a professor of German history, begins investigating the past and finally unearths the dramatic and heartbreaking truth of her mother’s life. 

Combining a passionate, doomed love story, a vivid evocation of life during the war, and a poignant mother/daughter drama, Those Who Save Us is a profound exploration of what we endure to survive and the legacy of shame.


This book is wonderful.  It goes back and forth from today’s view through Trudy’s eyes to Anna’s view of war torn Germany.  You really get the sense of the heartbreaking choices Anna has to make and the decisions she learns to live with in order to survive.  Trudy also tries to understand what happened as Anna has never spoken of these times.  It is through Trudy’s research for the university that she comes to understand what life was like for Anna.
As I said I haven’t even finished the book yet but it is riveting.  I am hoping to be able to stay awake this evening to read and hopefully finish it by the weekend.  This title was at Barnes and Noble on their Buy 2 Get 1 Free table.  You won’t regret picking it up!

*I am having trouble with font issues again so I apologize for the mismatching.