Monday, July 27, 2009

Home At Last by Anna Schmidt

It is now 2:28am and I have just finished Home At Last by Anna Schmidt. This is another book in the Harlequin Love Inspired Line. Like the previous book, I was walking down the book aisle at Walmart and saw this book, and after reading the back cover, I know instantly I would love. I had never heard of this author before, but after reading this book, I will definitely look for more of her books. I only wish that Home At Last was part of a series, and I could see many ways that the author could continue with the story.

Home At Last reminded me somewhat of one of the characters in Susan Wiggs' Lakeshore Chronicles Series--Daisy Bellamy, and her father. This book was centered around a teenager, Jazzamine or "Jazz", an indifferent, moody, somewhat rebellious teenager, and her single father, Daniel. Daniel is also the owner of a hotel in Manhattan, and when his mother falls and injures her hip, he adds that to his already full plate of things to deal with as well. His Ex-wife Gloria makes frequent appearances, causing a stir whenever she arrives. Then, when he goes to visit his mom's farm, he meets Jo, the lady his mom has hired to tend the cranberry crops. Daniel and Jo fight their feelings for each other and also can't agree on the best place for his mother to live her final days. But they soon give in to their feelings of mutual attraction.

This was definitely a feel good story, and I was very entertained, especially by Jazz. I could not put this down, and like I mentioned above, I only wish the author would make this book into a series. Any book that keeps me up until 2:30am is obviously a good one!!

Date Finished: 7/27/09 2:38am!!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Second Chance Family by Margaret Daley

I just now finished Second Chance Family by Margaret Daley. It is part of the Steeple Hill Love Inspired Fiction line and is the last book of the Fostered by Love series. I found this book when I was in Walmart searching for another book by the same publisher, and when I saw that it had to do with foster care as well as children with special needs, I knew I'd love it.

Jason McCoy is a little boy about to start kindergarten. He is autistic and his (single) dad, Shane, is fighting the school district because he feels Jason should be placed in a regular mainstream classroom. The school finally agrees to honor Shane's wishes and try it. Whitney Maxwell has recently moved back to Cimarron City to be closer to her brother and start her life over. She has a bit of a troubled past that she's trying to get away from. She actually meets Shane one morning when she's passing by his house, looking for an address on his street, and little Jason darts in front of her car, because it is yellow, and he loves yellow objects. It just so happens that Whitney has also accepted a job as a teacher's aide at Jason's school and she ends up being Jason's special aide in his classroom, since his teacher really doesn't feel comfortable interacting with him. As time goes on, Shane and Whitney become friends, but soon Shane realizes he's just not ready for their relationship to progress that far. He lost his pregnant wife and baby daughter in a house fire, and feels he was responsible for not saving them. He soon turns to God for help in forgiving the arsonist, and once he's able to forgive, he's ready to move forward in his relationship with Whitney.

Steeple Hill books are considered Christian Fiction and/or inspirational so all of the characters in every one of their books has some type of relationship with God. I've started getting into Christian Fiction a little bit and have really enjoyed these stories.

I especially enjoyed Second Chance Family because it was about a child with special needs, Foster Care, and also one of the settings was a rescue center for children. I only wish I would've found about these books earlier so I could've read them in order, since each story builds on the previous one. But I still plan to go back and read the first 3 books if I can track them down.

Date Finished 7/23/2009
# of books for the year: 41

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Where Yesterday Lives by Karen Kingsbury

I finished Where Yesterday Lives the other day. It was one of Karen Kingsbury's older books, but in my opinion, one of her best. In my mission to read every single one of Karen's books, I'd known about this book for awhile, but never had the urge to read it until now. After reading it, I have no idea why I waited so long. My favorite part of the book was the Family Dynamics. Where Yesterday Lives was about the Barrett family who lived in Petoskey, Michigan (Which I ALSO was able to relate to because my boyfriend is from Michigan). The five Barret children are grown now and have their own lives, and 2 of the older daughters have moved away from Michigan.

The book takes Place in July 1998 in Petoskey, Michigan, a little town off Traverse Bay. Most of the book takes place in the aftermath the Patriarch, John Barrett, dying of a massive heart attack. None of the Barrett children are very close to one another and it's been awhile since they were all together. Each one has their own issues they're dealing with as well as their own thoughts about their family.

Here's a brief description of each member of the Barrett Family

Jon Barrett worked for IBM and a few other jobs, which required constant relocating, and as a result their family moved around from place to place quite a bit, not establishing permanent roots until they arrived in Petoskey.

Ellen is the oldest child and is 31 years old. She is a reporter for the Miami Times. She lives in Miami with her husband, Mike, and so far they have been unable to have any children. In highschool, her best friend was Leslie and her boyfriend was Jake Sadler, the boy she thought she would end up marrying.

Jane is 29 years old, has been married to Troy for 7 years and they have 3 children--Koley, 6 year old boy, Kala--3 year old girl, and Kyle--one year old boy. They live in Central Arizona.

Jane has always resented the close relationship that Megan and their father have. Jane and her father have never been that close and Jane never felt that she was good enough for their father. Also, the one time when she needed him the most, he was not there to help her. This affected their relationship in many ways. Jane feels especially angry at their dad after he dies.

Megan is 27 years old. She is still single...she went through a period of time where she used some heavy drugs and drifted away from the family. She seems to be out of that now. Megan also seems to be in denial that her siblings' relationships are strained, as they are.

Amy is 25 years old. She has a degree in Child Development and is married to Frank. She is quiet and sometimes seems like the odd one out of all the children. Amy is especially close with her mother.

Aaron is 23 years old. He has anger issues and hasn't been able to hold down a job because of it. He is also the yougest, and the only son with 4 sisters, so he's had alot of issues because of that (or so he says). He and his dad did have somewhat of a good relationship. They enjoyed golfing together frequently.

The book shifted back and forth between the present (1998) and back when Ellen was in highschool and college, and dating Jake. While Ellen is visiting Petoskey for her dad's funeral, she is questioning her marriage to Mike, and whether their relationship can make it through dealing with their problems. She also runs into her old flame Jake Sadler, and spends time with her, but in the end realizes that Mike is the one she really belongs with.

No one really knows why Jane is so mean and nasty, and why she treats Ellen the way she does. At John's funeral, each of them read eulogies that they've written and alot of things are explained. Jane reveals that she was raped as a teenager, the same week that their dad took off, and that the fact that he wasn't there for her when she needed him most really hurt her and ruined their relationship. Ellen also begins to understand why Jane resented her all these years. After hearing each others' eulogies, they are all able to understand each other better and begin to have better relationships with each other.

I really enjoyed the family dynamics (and drama!) and even though characters made me really mad on a few occassions, it was easy to understand why they acted the way they did. I could easily see this book being made into a movie.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Catching up

Recently I've finished two books...not as far I had hoped to get in July, but I really enjoyed the two books I read. The first was Take Two by Karen Kingsbury, book 2 in her Above the Line Series. I finished this a week or so ago. I just finished the second book today, and that was Matters of the Heart by Danielle Steel.

Take Two by Karen Kingsbury:

Blurb: Filmmakers Chase Ryan and Keith Ellison have completed their first feature film, and Hollywood is buzzing with the news. In the wake of that excitement, the producers acquire rights to a novel that has all the ingredients they want for their next project. At the same time they cross paths with a well-connected player who introduces them to the right people, and suddenly every studio in town wants to talk to Chase and Keith. The producers’ dreams are on the verge of coming true, but Chase’s marriage is strained and Keith’s daughter — Andi Ellison — is making questionable choices in her quest for stardom. The producers are gaining respect and are on the verge of truly changing culture through the power of film — but is the change worth the cost?

My thoughts: As usual, with any Karen Kingsbury book, I absolutely LOVED it!! It was a great continuation to Take One. I was most interested in what was happening with Chase and his Wife, Kelly, and also with Andi. It was interesting seeing how she wanted become her own person, independent from her parents. I am very eager to find out what happens in Take Three, both with Chase and Kelly, and also with Andi, and even with Bailey and Cody. I didn't like Bailey so much in the Baxter Series, but I like her better in these books.

Matters of the Heart:

Blurb (from amazon): Hope Dunne has carved out a name for herself as a top photographer, known the joys of marriage and motherhood, and the heartbreak of loss. In her chic SoHo loft, Hope is content with her life, finding serenity and beauty through the lens of her camera. She isn’t looking for a man or excitement. But these things find her when she accepts a last- minute assignment to fly to London at Christmas and photograph one of the world’s most celebrated writers—an Irish-American author known for novels of thrilling literary darkness.

To Hope’s surprise, Finn O’Neill exudes warmth and a boyish charm. Enormously successful, he is a perfect counterpoint to Hope’s quiet, steady grace—and he’s taken instantly by her. He courts her as no one ever has before, whisking her away to his palatial, isolated Irish estate.

Hope finds it all, and him, irresistible. Finn’s magnetism and brilliance are undeniable. But soon cracks begin to appear in his stories: gaps in his history, a few innocent lies, and bouts of jealousy unnerve her. Suddenly Hope is both in love and suspicious, caring and deeply in doubt, and ultimately frightened of the man she loves. Alone, thousands of miles from home, her mind is reeling. Is she just being paranoid? How many lies has he told? Are there more secrets to come? Is it possible that this adoring, attentive man—like the characters in his novels—is hiding something even worse? The spell cast by a brilliant sociopath has her trapped in his web, too confused and dazzled to escape as he continues to tighten his grip on her.

My thoughts: Even though I put this book down to read other books on two seperate occasions, this still ended up being one of my favorite of Danielle Steel's books. I loved the element of suspense. I even stayed up until 3:30 am last night reading because I wanted to find out what happened. Then, when I woke up this morning, I got right back to it. I had a feeling I knew what was gonna happen at soon into the book, a couple of my predictions were somewhat correct, but there were still plenty of surprises. My heart was racing during the last 50 or so pages of the book. I was so happy with how it ended! I will definitely need to read something lighter for my next book.