Tuesday, April 27, 2010

a little recognition

Without my friend Jen, I would never remember Administrative Professional's Day (or Week, if you prefer). So, it snuck up on me again last week, and I only realized that Wednesday was the day because Jen posted something about it on Facebook. Nothing was done for me or the other secretaries that day ... but the next day ...

I arrived to find a coffee on my desk. Then, when I returned from my afternoon class, I found all of this:
The cookies are from the business manager and his wife, and the flowers, card, and saying are from the principal and his wife. I definitely felt appreciated :-)

Monday, April 26, 2010

book giveaway #5 winner!

Congratulations, Karen! You win The Bridegrooms! I'll mail it off right away. Here's hoping you enjoy it more than I did :-)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

narnia revisited

One of the classes I teach is an intermediate-level reading class. We finished reading C.S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe a couple weeks ago, and then we watched the recent Hollywood version. (I vastly prefer the BBC production from the '80s, but I knew my kids would be turned off by the special effects--or lack thereof!) While waiting for our next book to arrive, I had a few days to kill. We played Blurt!one day, which was a smashing success, but I worried we were too noisy. So the next day, I decided to show Prince Caspian via Netflix's instant streaming. My students are loving it. Me, not so much.

When I first saw Prince Caspian, I was less than impressed. I blogged about it, saying,
I saw Prince Caspian with friends last night. Entertainment-wise, I'd give it an A. But in terms of staying true to the story, a C- would be generous. (If you haven't seen the movie yet and plan to, it'd be best to skip to the next paragraph now!) I fell in love with The Chronicles of Narnia at a very young age. I've read the books (or had them read to me) three or four times, and I've seen the BBC version of Prince Caspian many times. I'd heard rumors that this movie changed many story details, but I had no idea how many! From a completely invented "storming the castle" battle to Caspian and Peter almost "freeing" the White Witch to Aslan not appearing until the very end of the movie, I couldn't believe all the changes. The last straw, however, was something I'd generally be all for: romance. But a romance between Caspian and Susan? Give me a break! When they kissed at the end, one of the guys I was with said (a bit too loudly) exactly what I was thinking: "Now they've ruined the movie!"
Having seen 3/4 of it again (we'll finish it on Tuesday), I can say my opinion hasn't changed at all. And I'm regretting showing it to my class, as they're getting the "reimagined" version without knowing the true story.

I do have some hope for The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, though, thanks to this report. I'm glad the filmmakers have recognized they made mistakes with Prince Caspian. After Caspian, I wasn't sure I'd shell out my hard-earned money to see Dawn Treader in the theater, but now I probably will!

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. 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, April 23, 2010

"the bridegrooms" by allison pittman

Vada Allenhouse’s childhood ended the night her mother abandoned their family, leaving Vada to raise her three younger sisters while her father buried himself in his work as a physician. Seventeen years later, Vada still takes care of her sisters while longing to pursue her dream of playing the violin. When a man is gravely injured at a Cleveland Spiders baseball game, he is brought to Doc Allenhouse for care … and suddenly the Allenhouse home is overrun with eligible men! In one crazy week, Vada and her sisters all find themselves trying to make sense of life and love.

When I got The Bridegrooms, I knew it would be a romance—the cover alone leaves little doubt about that!—but I wish it had been an enjoyable romance! Each sister gets her own love story, but the novel mainly dwells on Vada’s romantic travails.

Vada, who has been in a committed relationship with Garrison for several years, suddenly finds herself attracted to two other men: Dave, a newspaper reporter, and Lucky, a Brooklyn Bridegrooms baseball player. This is understandable, as Garrison seems reluctant to marry Vada. But I wish the author had then taken the time to help the reader understand Vada’s attraction to each other man. Lucky LaFortune has an instant connection with Vada, but why is Vada attracted to Dave? He seems to pop in and out of the story just so Vada can ruminate about how things could be different between them. But he isn’t a fleshed out character, and he could quite easily have been left out of the novel. The Garrison-Vada-Lucky love triangle is certainly enough!

I wish more time would have been spent with Althea, who to me was easily the most interesting character. Althea quit speaking when Mrs. Allenhouse left, and she pours her thoughts and feelings into poetry. She becomes quite attached to the injured man, and I would have loved to watch their love story unfold. Instead, I had to read about Vada.

I also wish more time would have been spent on Vada’s dream of playing the violin with an orchestra. At the time (the 1890’s), Cleveland’s orchestra was comprised only of males; I’d hoped that Vada, who worked as the conductor’s assistant, would end up playing with them.

Another of Vada’s sisters, Hazel, has decided to move to Wyoming, where women can vote. I thought suffrage would be a major focus of the story, but it just gets a mention here and there.

Ultimately, this book seems like it could have been a series with one book focusing on each sister. Then each relationship could have been fully developed, rather than squeezed in around Vada’s. As it is, I didn’t enjoy this book very much.

Should you read it? Only if you have nothing else to read.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah as part of their Blogging for Books program. I was not required 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.”

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

statement about reviews & recommendations (part 2)

Last October, due to the FTC's new blogger guidelines, I blogged about my connection to the products I review and/or recommend. Since then, a few things have changed, so I wanted to update you.

I still review books for Thomas Nelson, though I don't do as many as I used to. You may have noticed the name change from Book Review Blogger to BookSneeze.

I am now also a member of WaterBrook Multnomah's Blogging for Books program. (If you're a regular reader of this blog, I'm sure you've figured that out by now!) This is a great program that I'd encourage you to join if you have a blog and enjoy reading. I've had the opportunity to read and review some wonderful books (as well as one book I didn't like so much ... but that review is still in the making!), and I love the fact that they often provide me with an extra copy to give away!

I'm still an Amazon Associate, though to date I've made a whopping ten cents! And, since Amazon only pays when an associate reaches $10, I have yet to see my dime.

I recently joined a similar program at bookschristian.com. Most of my links for Christian books, music, and movies will probably point to them from now on. Their pricing is very similar to Amazon's.

When I signed up with bookschristian.com, they provided me with a link to Michael Hyatt's blog post on the FTC guidelines. Hyatt is the CEO of Thomas Nelson, and his blog is the reason I started reviewing books in the first place. (When Thomas Nelson published Lynne Spears' book Through the Storm, Hyatt offered free review copies to the first 200 bloggers to respond to his post. I was one of those bloggers, and shortly after that, the Book Review Blogger program was born.) In an effort to comply with the new guidelines, Hyatt recommends adding a "Disclosure of Material Connection" at the bottom of posts. So, to ensure I'm following the guidelines, I'll be doing that--ridiculous as it may seem.

book giveaway #5!

It's time for another book giveaway! Doesn't it feel like we do this every week? We'll soon be taking a couple weeks off, so be sure to get in your comments on this one!

The book I'm giving away this week is The Bridegrooms by Allison Pittman. It's set in 1898 in Cleveland, Ohio. The action centers around Vada, a 20-something who raised her younger sisters after their mother abandoned the family. I'll have plenty to say about the book later this week. The review will post on Thursday or Friday, and you have until Monday to enter.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

book giveaway #4 winner!

Congrats, Cari! You're the winner of the Forget Me Not book giveaway! Send your address to christianchicksthoughts[at]gmail.com, and I'll send the book off!

Friday, April 16, 2010

going to the chapel ...

My dear friend Melissa got married last weekend, and I had the honor of being one of her bridesmaids. The wedding was held in the bustling city of O'Neill. O'Neill calls itself the Irish capital of Nebraska, and I found it quite amusing that whenever anyone gave directions, they invariably started out with, "You go past the Shamrock ..." Yes, O'Neill has a giant shamrock painted on the main intersection. But that's not the point of this post!

The wedding itself was so nice. It was very sweet, and everyone could see how in love and how happy they were! I also enjoyed how short it was ... the ceremony was no longer than 30 minutes, and the reception didn't last more than an hour!

Melissa and me right before the wedding.

Me and my sisters.

The happy couple!

"forget me not" by vicki hinze

Forget Me Not is the story of a woman on the run from a terrorist organization called NINA. She is caught, beaten, and abandonded in the woods, where she wakes with amnesia. With the name "Susan" in her mind and a necklace in her pocket, she finds her way to Crossroads, a women's shelter. There she learns that the owner's wife--named Susan--was murdered a few years previous, the necklace in her pocket belonged to Susan, and she bears a striking resemblance to the murdered woman. Adopting the name Karen, she and Susan's husband Ben set out to discover who she is, why she was and still is a target, and how she is connected to Susan's murder.

Forget Me Not is a very interesting book. I especially enjoyed the author's decision to alert the reader to the identity of the main villain at the beginning of the story while concealing the identities of some of his cohorts and/or their motivations for working with him until closer to the end of the novel. I wouldn't call it gripping suspense (I never once doubted the hero and heroine would survive to the end of the novel), but it is a very enjoyable mystery. I also appreciated how the main character's faith guided her decisions; even when she couldn't recall her name or history, she knew that her faith in Christ was the most important aspect of her life.

Should you read it? If you're looking for a good mystery that won't keep you awake at night.

This book was provided for review by WaterBrook Multnomah.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

book giveaway #4!

I told you I'd have lots of giveaways coming up ... and here's another one! You have until Monday, April 19 to enter by leaving a comment. This book is one I really enjoyed (review coming tomorrow)--Forget Me Not by Vicki Hinze. It's a suspense book about a woman with amnesia. I won't say more than that now, but be sure to check out the review tomorrow!

Monday, April 12, 2010

book giveaway #3 winner!

Since this is my blog, and I can do whatever I want, I decided to give away both copies of This Little Prayer of Mine! So, Kate and Jaina will both be getting copies. Jaina, please send your address to christianchicksthoughts[at]gmail.com. Kate, I'll be dropping your copy by one of these days!

Friday, April 9, 2010

"this little prayer of mine" by anthony destefano

Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
If I should die before I wake
I pray the Lord my soul to take

As I child, I prayed that prayer each night with my mom and brother. (I continued reciting this prayer with my mom long after I should have been using my own words!) I think there's something special--and important--about praying with your children before they go to sleep.

This Little Prayer of Mine, written by Anthony DeStefano and illustrated by Mark Elliot, teaches children that they can talk to God about anything--their wants, their fears, their joys ... anything! It's a rhyming poem, and each stanza is illustrated. This is a cute book that small children are sure to enjoy looking through and having read to them. While it's too long to memorize and recite at bedtime, it certainly should help instill in children the importance of prayer.

Should you read it? If you have a child to read it to!

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group. You can purchase it here.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

my father the hero

I've previously mentioned the snake problem at my grandma's house. It's gotten to the point where I won't go into the basement unless it's absolutely necessary. Our most recent encounter with the snakes occurred last weekend when my family went down to visit Grandma for Easter. When we arrived, my dad went to the basement to turn on the water. Mom followed him shortly, and they remained downstairs for a suspiciously long amount of time. When they finally reemerged, Dad was carrying this:

You can't see what's inside the bucket, but trust me--it's a snake! I could see it slithering around ... ewww! Dad carried it outside--all the while, I was yelling, "Kill it! Kill it!"--put a heavy flowerpot on top, and left it until morning. Then he took care of it--and called me out to take a picture:

The animal rights people wouldn't call him a hero, but I sure do!

book giveaway #3!

It's time for another book giveaway, courtesy of the folks at Waterbrook Multnomah. This one is a kids' book: This Little Prayer of Mine by Anthony DeStefano.  Leave your comment by Friday, April 9, if you'd like to be entered in the drawing!

Monday, April 5, 2010

"hand of fate" by lis wiehl with april henry

Hand of Fate is the second in Wiehl and Henry's Triple Threat series. (Don't worry; this isn't one of those books that you won't understand if you haven't read the others in the series.) Allison, Nicole, and Cassidy are high school classmates who reconnected at their 10-year reunion. After learning of their shared interest in crime fighting (Allison is a federal prosecutor, Nicole is an FBI agent, and Cassidy is an investigative reporter), they form the Triple Threat Club. Following prominent radio talk show host Jim Fate's murder, the three friends work together to solve the crime.

Hand of Fate is a quick, enjoyable read. I especially liked that the three friends had lives--and problems--outside of the main whodunit plot. Of the three women, Allison is the only committed Christian, and her life is definitely not carefree. Other characters are affected by rape, premarital sex, drug addiction, and abuse. Out of the many "Christian" books I've read, I thought this featured one of the more realistic portrayals of characters. The plot is engaging, and the mystery, while not too easy to solve, also isn't one of those "well I never would have guessed that" twists that some writers throw in with absolutely no clues leading up to it.

Should you read it? Yes, if you enjoy suspense.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze book review blogger program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

"an honest love" by kathleen fuller

A few months ago, I reviewed Kathleen Fuller's Amish romance A Man of His Word. I really enjoyed it, so I jumped at the opportunity to review the sequel, An Honest Love.

An Honest Love focuses on two couples (though only one is mentioned on the back cover copy). Following a broken engagement, Anna moves to Middlefield and opens an Amish gift shop. She meets Lukas Byler, who immediately goes about winning her heart. As their relationship progresses, Anna must decide whether to share her secret with Lukas--a secret that she fears could make him leave her. Meanwhile, Lukas's sister Elisabeth begins working for their brother-in-law (Gabe from A Man of His Word), and she strikes up a friendship with Aaron, who also works for Gabe. Aaron, who got into drugs and alcohol during his rumspringa, feels like an outcast in the Middlefield Amish community, and Elisabeth makes it her mission to reintegrate him into the community. But will their friendship turn into something more?

Once again, Fuller delivers an engaging, romantic story. And, once again, I was more interested in the sub-plot (Aaron & Elisabeth) than in the main plot. That's not to say Anna and Lukas weren't interesting, but I was definitely more invested in Aaron and Elisabeth as characters.

Should you read it? If you enjoy Christian romance. And don't worry; you don't need to have read book one first.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

**Note: The back cover copy is misleading--you know how they say not to judge a book by its cover? Well, in this case, don't judge it by its back cover!**