Favorite Quotes on Books and Reading

"A book is a gift you can open again and again." Garrison Keillor

Literature is a textually transmitted disease, normally contracted in childhood.” Jane Yolen

"It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it." Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Book 313: FOUR WISHES Review

Four Wishes by Christine Nolfi
ISBN: 9780985247782 (paperback - CreateSpace)
ISBN: 9780985247775 (ebook)
ASIN: B00IDVBPAM (Kindle edition)
Publication date: September 12, 2014


Meade Williams has a successful company, an ailing father—and a secret desire to find love at last. Dr. Mary Chance isn't sure the time is right to expand her family. Birdie Kaminsky has married the man of her dreams, but yearns to grow closer to her powerful sister. And young Glade Wilson must confront the daunting truth that she'll become a mother before finishing high school.

Welcome to Book Four of The Liberty Series, where the heartwarming stories of love, friendship and family life unfold in surprising ways.
The books of The Liberty Series serve as stand-alone novels you may enjoy in any order. Look for the other books in the series: Treasure Me, Second Chance Grill, and The Impossible Wish


Four Wishes is the fourth book in The Liberty Series set in the small rural Ohio town of Liberty. As with most small towns, Liberty is a place where everyone knows their neighbor (and their neighbor's business), and everyone is eager to pitch in when there's someone in need. Four Wishes starts with Meade trying to plan a wedding for her sister Birdie in less than three weeks. She must do this while running her business and dealing with her seriously depressed and paranoid father. When it appears that Birdie isn't really taking an interest in the final planning of the wedding, much of the final decision-making is left up to Meade and she handles it with ease. Meade hasn't been sure about what she wanted from life other than a successful business and to be a good daughter, but now wants what Birdie has: a loving man and the thought of a growing family.

Birdie is anxious to get married and is willing to have a picnic dinner rather than the formal affair wanted by her father and organized by Meade. She knows that this is their way of helping out, so she gives in. All Birdie really wants is for her sister to open up to her and for them to grow closer.

Dr. Mary Chance is struggling, and juggling, the responsibilities of a growing medical practice and family life. Her husband is happy to help out around the house, but is eager to grow their family (an idea that is strongly encouraged by his daughter Blossom). When Mary gets pregnant she wants to keep it a secret, but before she knows it the entire town is celebrating her pregnancy and her stepdaughter is researching baby names. Mary is cautiously optimistic that things will work out for the best with this pregnancy, but she worries that her superstitions about not declaring a pregnancy until the second trimester might foreshadow tragedy.

Glade Wilson is happy to be away from poverty. She's grateful to her Aunt Reenie and to Meade for taking her in. She knows that without an education she may never make be more than the working poor, but she's taken the first step to starting a new life. Now that she's faced with the imminent arrival of her baby, she worries that she'll be a good mother and how much pain childbirth will bring.

On the surface it may be difficult to see what a teenager, two thirty-something professional women, and one forty-something entrepreneur have in common. It quickly becomes evident that they all want the same thing, love and a family. They all may be going about using different methods, but the end result is the same for them all. Meade seems to be the one with the most: a privileged childhood, wealth, beauty, brains, and independence, but looks can be deceiving. Meade is the one that needs just as much help as the others. She needs to know that she can be loved for who she is as a person, not what she brings to the table. She needs to know that it is acceptable to not be perfect and no one really expects perfection from her.

Ms. Nolfi has, once again, crafted a story that spotlights the joys and sorrows of love, friendship, and family. Four Wishes provides great romance and family drama while dealing with some weighty issues such as teen pregnancy and depression. These weighty issues aren't glossed over but dealt with in a realistic and respectful manner. I enjoyed Four Wishes, as I enjoyed reading the previous books in this series. I found Four Wishes to be a fast-paced read that made me smile, frown, and want to cry. If you enjoy reading contemporary fiction with realistic characters dealing with realistic problems, then you'll definitely want to add Four Wishes to your TBR list.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the author. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Book 310: A PRAYER HEEDED Review

A Prayer Heeded (A Prayer Series 2) by Samreen Ahsan
ISBN: 9781491727164 (hardcover - iUniverse)
ISBN: 9781491727140 (paperback - iUniverse)
ISBN: 9781311356963 (ebook - Smashwords)
ISBN: 9781491727157 (ebook - iUniverse)
ASIN: B00IDVBPAM (Kindle edition)
Publication date: February 1, 2014


Adam Gibson is a multimillionaire who is not searching for God–or demons–when he finds love with a beautiful woman. Unfortunately, Rania, the one who has captured his heart, has a tormented past. Adam is unaware of his powers, how God makes sure his each prayer is heeded due to his virtue of charity. Adam knows Rania is still the answer to all his silent prayers. But now only time will tell if her soul is destined to be his once again.
Rania Ahmed is dead inside. Adam, the man she mistakenly considered to be her soul mate, has crushed her soul into millions of pieces. Due to her broken past, she still believes her curse will keep her from loving ever again. What she does not know is that Adam has made a promise to himself to never give up on her–no matter what. But Adam does not know what he is getting himself into.
In this spiritual romance, an atheist embarks on a path of enlightenment with a tormented soul who may just have the power to change everything he has ever believed to be true.


The first volume in The Prayer Series - A Silent Prayer ends with Adam Gilbert demonstrating an extreme act of jealousy that embarrasses and wounds Rania Ahmed, so she leaves him. The only problem is her apartment has been destroyed in a fire, she has no relatives in Toronto, and has left her wallet at Adam's home. Rania finds herself emotionally battered and bruised as well as homeless. She turns to a shelter that has been built and supported by Adam's generosity. Is it possible for these two seemingly star-crossed lovers to find a way back to one another? Rania is a devout Muslimah (female Muslim) and she tries hard to hold fast to her faith and beliefs, despite her attraction to Adam Gibson. There are many secrets in Rania's past and uncovering these secrets is the key to unlocking her heart. But how can Adam find the key if he doesn't know where she is. Adam realizes he's made a big mistake and is willing to do whatever it takes to gain Rania's forgiveness; he just hopes it isn't too late. 

A Prayer Heeded is much more than a romance; it is a blend of magical realism, paranormal-fantasy, and religious myth blended in with a romance. Rania and Adam know that they love one another, but they also know that they come from different cultural backgrounds, different ethnic backgrounds and vastly different religious backgrounds. The first two are relatively easy to work around, but having a devout believer in a relationship with an atheist is beyond hard work. Although both Rania and Adam are willing to work to overcome this difficulty, there are those deep secrets in Rania's background that must be dealt with in order for their relationship to move forward. Regrettably Adam fails Rania again when she finally divulges all of her deepest secrets: a previous marriage, marital rape, beatings, infidelity on the part of her husband, and an ongoing issue with a lovelorn jinn named Khaldun. Adam is willing to deal with almost everything except the notion of the jinn. It's easier to accept the idea that Rania is possibly schizophrenic rather than something supernatural. After much trial and error, including Rania's departure from Canada and an arranged marriage in Dubai, Rania and Adam are able to accept each other's love and move forward in marriage. One would think that is the end of their problems but it just signals the beginning of new problems for their love.

I found A Prayer Heeded to be just as fast-paced a read as A Silent Prayer. The idea of a lovelorn jinn stalking women for four thousand years was intriguing, to say the least. I did have problems with the profanity used.  There’s a lot of the f-word used in this story. Once my inner-prude was able to overcome that issue, I was able to enjoy the story. Yes there are a lot of elements to this story: supernatural-paranormal-fantasy, religion, marital rape, and more. Ms. Ahsan does an admirable job in combining all of these into a cohesive story with interesting and fully developed characters and plausible action. It was nice to gain more insight into who Rania is and why she behaves the way she does. It was also nice to finally get to see her interact with her father and learn more about that relationship. As a Muslim I did have some issues with the notion that Adam converts to Islam but continues to drink and never seems to pray the obligatory daily prayers, but I also recognize that there are Muslims that give lip-service to Islam and never actually fulfill their religious obligations. Other than that minor issue, I found A Prayer Heeded to be an enjoyable read. If you're interested in reading a story that features an East-meets-West angle, has a supernatural-paranormal component, and blends in romance with religious awareness, then you'll definitely want to read A Silent Prayer and A Prayer Heeded.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the author. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


Friday, September 5, 2014

Book Showcase: GHOSTING by Edith Pattou



Ghosting by Edith Pattou
ISBN: 9781477847749 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781477847893 (paperback)
ASIN: B00ICWYTPA (Kindle edition) 
Publication date: August 19, 2014
Publisher: Skyscape



On a hot summer night in a Midwestern town, a high school teenage prank goes horrifically awry. Alcohol, guns, and a dare. Within minutes, as events collide, innocents becomes victims—with tragic outcomes altering lives forever, a grisly and unfortunate scenario all too familiar from current real-life headlines. But victims can also become survivors, and as we come to know each character through his/her own distinctive voice and their interactions with one another, we see how, despite pain and guilt, they can reach out to one another, find a new equilibrium, and survive.
Told through multiple points of view in naturalistic free verse and stream of consciousness, this is an unforgettable, haunting tale.


Excerpt:

MAXIE
When I was a little girl
ghosting was
a sheet of paper and
a drawing in
black ink.

A crudely sketched ghost,
with a Tootsie Roll
taped on.

Not scary.

A fun Halloween prank.
You slipped it under a neighbor's door,
ran away,
giggling.

"You've been ghosted!"

Exciting.
Harmless.

But now
ghosting is:
this can't be happening,
screams like knives in your ears,
pooling glistening blood.
Everywhere.
And death, bellowing
hot and loud
in
your
face.



Meet the author:

Edith Pattou has found acclaim as a writer in middle-grade fantasy with such award-winning books as East, which received starred reviews in Booklist and School Library Journal; was selected as a Top Ten Book for YA, an American Library Association Notable Book, a School Library Journal Top Ten YA Book, one of the 100 Best of the Best YA Books for the 21st Century by the Young Adult Library Services Association; and was nominated for numerous state awards. It's a nominee for NPR's all-time Best YA Novels list. 

Connect with the author:

Website      |     Facebook      |     Twitter      |     Goodreads



Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Book 307: THE MOMENT OF EVERYTHING Review

The Moment of Everything by Shelly King
ISBN: 9781455546794 (paperback) 
ISBN: 9781455546787 (ebook)
Publication date: September 2, 2014
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing


In the tradition of The Cookbook Collector comes a funny, romantic novel about a young woman finding her calling while saving a used bookstore.
Maggie Duprès, recently "involuntarily separated from payroll" at a Silicon Valley start-up, is whiling away her days in The Dragonfly's Used Books, a Mountain View institution, waiting for the Next Big Thing to come along.
When the opportunity arises for her to network at a Bay Area book club, she jumps at the chance – even if it means having to read Lady Chatterley's Lover, a book she hasn't encountered since college, in an evening. But the edition she finds at the bookstore is no Penguin Classics Chatterley – it's an ancient hardcover with notes in the margins between two besotted lovers of long ago. What Maggie finds in her search for the lovers and their fate, and what she learns about herself in the process, will surprise and move readers.
Witty and sharp-eyed in its treatment of tech world excesses, but with real warmth at its core, The Moment of Everything is a wonderful read.


Maggie Duprès is a thirty-something wondering what to do with her life. Although she has a degree in English and Library Science, she doesn't really want to work in a library. She's spent the past ten years working for a tech company ensuring the tech-speak is understood by the common man. Now her company has been downsized and she's at loose ends. Until she finds that perfect job, she spends her days at a local bookstore. Little does she know that her days are soon to be filled with thoughts of books, promoting books, and promoting this quaint, local institution.

After Maggie is invited to join a local book club, she is given a copy of Lady Chatterley's Lover by the owner of the used bookstore, The Dragonfly's Used Books. She is immediately intrigued by a series of notes left in the book between two would-be lovers. Maggie's intrigue quickly becomes the impetus for promoting The Dragonfly on a website. She posts bits of these notes online in her search for these lovers. This online post quickly puts The Dragonfly in the spotlight and provides Maggie with a job. In between her duties at The Dragonfly, Maggie quickly becomes involved in an almost-maybe-not-quite romance with a lovely young man, Rahjit. Maggie's co-worker, Jason is antagonistic toward her at first but the two become friends in the end. 

I enjoyed Maggie's quest for the truth about the notes in the book. I especially enjoyed reading about her interactions with the owner of The Dragonfly – Hugo, as well as the store's strange and wonderful customers: Gloria with her NPR tote bag filled with romance novels, the CIA Bathroom trio, and more. The Moment of Everything is filled with love lost, love gained, despair, grief, joy, and more. Maggie's search for a job is also a search to find meaning in her life. Her relationship with her mother is quixotic at best, but one she realizes is not as bad as she thinks. Maggie's best friend, Dizzy, is one she's known most of her life and the reason she relocated from the East to the West. But can she spend the rest of her life following Dizzy from company-to-company and state-to-state? I found all of the characters to be wonderfully strange yet wholly realistic. There's great romance in this book, but at the heart of it is simply one woman's search for meaning in her life and she finds it in a bookstore, one particular book, and through a diverse group of friends and family. This was a book that I enjoyed reading and will probably reread in the future (yes, I enjoyed it that much). If you're looking for an adult coming-of-age style story to read or just for something a little different, then I suggest you grab a copy of The Moment of Everything


Watch the following videos based on snippets from The Moment of Everything 

"The secret sketchbook of Betty Valentine"



"Cassie's Pen Pals"




Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


Monday, September 1, 2014

Book 299: THE WONDER - QUEEN OF HEARTS VOL. 2 Review



The Wonder (Queen of Hearts Volume 2) by Colleen Oakes
ISBN: 9781940716213 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781940716206 (ebook)
Publication date: September 23, 2014
Publisher: SparkPress


An Exiled Princess. An Ancient Tribe. A Dangerous Stranger with Unknown Loyalties. 

Dinah, the former Princess of Wonderland Palace, has been chased into the wilds of Wonderland after the brutal murder of her brother and the ruin of her impending crown. Now, as her half-sister Vittiore sits on the throne beside her Father, the brutal King of Hearts, Dinah finds herself alone in the forbidding Twisted Wood with only Morte, a homicidal beast, for company. 
Hunted by the King and his army of Cards, Dinah struggles to evade those who long for her head, including Cheshire, the King’s clever advisor, who is slowly tightening his grasp around her. Spurred on by her rising terror, the former Princess finds herself at the center of a web of conspiracy reaching far beyond the Palace and deep into the mysterious Yurkei mountain tribes. 
Even with the balance of an entire Kingdom at stake, Dinah knows something that her allies and enemies do not: that the most dangerous conflict of all has already begun as she battles the enticing rage that beckons her ever closer as love slips further from her grasp.
The second book in the bestselling and award-winning Queen of Hearts Saga, The Wonder takes readers back to the most wondrous and curious places in Wonderland, and continues this darkly addictive tale featuring one of the most infamous villains of all time.
But be warned…not every fairy tale has a happy ending.
This is the story of a princess who became a villain.

Readers were introduced to Dinah, Princess of Hearts in The Crown, volume one of the Queen of Hearts Saga. We were able to see Dinah wander listlessly around the palace in Wonderland, still grieving her mother's death, and saddened over the madness and others ills that her brother, Prince Charles (aka the Mad Hatter), must deal with. Her father, the ruthless King of Hearts, appears to despise her presence. Just when it seems the Dinah is getting closer to being crowned the new Queen of Hearts, her father presents the royal court with his bastard child, Dinah's half-sister, the Duchess of Hearts - Vittiore. As Dinah rivals Vittiore, unsuccessfully, for her father's affection, she begins to wonder about her father's motives. On the night before her coronation, Dinah awakens to find her brother, Prince Charles, brutally murdered by her father yet Dinah is quickly blamed for the death. Fearing for her life, Dinah flees the palace and Wonderland.

The Wonder finds Dinah trying to survive in the wilderness. Her only companion is her father's stolen steed, a horse as large as a house with spiked hooves. Amazingly Dinah survives, but little does she know that she's being tracked by the best. Fortunately for her, the best tracker quickly becomes her ally. Or so she thinks until her ally leads her into the kingdom and the hands of the king's sworn enemies, the Yurkei. Mundoo, the chief of the Yurkei, takes Dinah in and begins to train her in the art of war. Bewildered by this, Dinah isn't quite sure what to think about what is happening around her until she stumbles upon the king's most trusted adviser, Cheshire. The story Cheshire reveals demonstrates that he is indeed Dinah's father not the king, and that he seeks to place her on the throne of Wonderland. Now Dinah has the most fierce and largest warriors in the land, the Yurkei, aligning to fight beside her to overthrow the present King of Hearts. Dinah also now has several hundred warriors from the House of Spades willing to fight on her behalf. Is it possible this teenage queen can become the warrior leader needed to overthrow the current despotic king? Will her reign as queen be any better than her predecessor's? Will the people of Wonderland be able to respect a queen that is now despised and known as the Red Queen?

Ms. Oakes takes many characters from Lewis Carroll's beloved Alice in Wonderland and twists them into a modern retelling of Wonderland. The readers are allowed to see how the legend of "the Red Queen" began and why. We discover the impetus behind the feared "off with their heads" threat. Instead of a Cheshire cat, we see the head of the House of Diamonds, a gentleman named Cheshire with a cat-like grin become the king's most trusted and feared advisor. The Mad Hatter becomes the brother of the Queen of Hearts and is someone that suffers seizures and appears may be autistic in that he lives in his own world and hates to be touched. The game of Royal Croquet is played with mallets shaped like birds and balls carved to resemble hedgehogs. The Knave of Hearts is head of the House of Hearts and leads the king's most-trusted and highly trained warriors. The House of Spades are considered the lowest of all of the house cards and aren't afforded the same rights and privileges. These men live in squalor and poverty and are forced to do the king's dirty work in the Black Tower, torturing various prisoners. Dinah isn't a bad person but she is someone filled with anger. She seeks to avenge the deaths of her mother and brother. If she isn't careful that righteous anger may become something just as twisted and dark as the emotions that drive the current King of Hearts.

I actually enjoyed reading both The Crown and The Wonder (I read them back-to-back on one Saturday). I'm not a big fan of fantasy, but it was interesting to read these books and see how Ms. Oakes deftly twisted the already twisted story by Mr. Carroll. Dinah isn't a wholly likeable character but she is a sympathetic character that grows on you as you read (or at least she did with me). I know that there will probably be a great deal of bloodshed and anguish in the next volume in this series, because war seems to be inevitable. Although this series is classified as YA, I found it to be an engrossing read and one that can be enjoyed by readers of all ages. If you are a fan of fantasy, the retelling of classic literature, or simply interested in something a little different to read, then I strongly urge you to grab a copy of The Crown and The Wonder today. This is one series you don't want to miss!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."