My Latest Reads

Trema's bookshelf: read

Gathering Blue
Sickened: The Memoir of a Munchausen by Proxy Childhood
The Giver
Child of Grace
The Silent Girl: A Novel
The One Who Waits for Me
Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy
The Blind in Darkness
Haunted Kids: True Ghost Stories (Haunted Kids)
Like the Willow Tree: The Diary of Lydia Amelia Pierce, Portland, Maine, 1918

Trema's favorite books »

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Review: Real Marriage

Real Marriage: 
The Truth about
 Sex, Friendship, and Life Together
Mark & Grace Driscoll

Quote:" The greatest gift a grace a man can have is a pious, God-fearing, home-loving wife, whom he can trust with all his goods, body, and life itself, as well as having her as the mother of his children." ~ Martin Luther pg 23

Started: March 4, 2013
Finished: March 14, 2013
Hardcover/249 pages

From the cover:
Traveling the world, raising five kids, speaking to thousands, Pastor Mark Driscoll and his wife, Grace, don't live in a bubble. They know we live in a " hook-up, shack up, and break up" culture. They've seen the divorce rates, heard the sexual abuse statistics, they've been statistics themselves. All of which makes them realistic and sympathetic.
But that's not why we are qualified to write this book.
Mark and Grace know and respect God's Word, and they've experienced it's power to transform their marriage. Today, In this culture. Those are their qualifications.
Unflinchingly honest and direct, they describe God's plan for marriage, explain how it has changed their marriage, and dive into the issues that keep us from it, including a lack of friendship in marriage, previous sexual abuse, and the use of pornography. and you'll find the answers to some sex-related questions that you just can't ask your own pastor.
If you want the straight truth wrapped in the grace of the gospel, read this book. If you're asking questions you think the church would never answer, open the pages. And if you're not sure lifelong soul-mates are even possible in the 21st century, read and be encouraged by what the grace and power of God can do for your marriage.

My Review:
I absolutely loved this book. It was so well written, wonderfully descriptive and truly honest. I know, little by little and through God's grace this book is and will continue to be a blessing to myself and my marriage.
No matter how many or how few issues you feel your marriage has, this book can and probably will help you and your spouse in some way!
The book is divided into specific topic chapters. 
1.New Marriage, Same Spouse
2.Friend with Benefits
3. Men and Marriage
4. The Respectful Wife
5. Taking out the Trash 
and so on.
This book covers everything from porn obsession and how it can destroy a marriage to what is the difference between lawful and helpful.(Just because you CAN do it, doesn't mean you should. Is it helpful to YOUR specific marriage?)
It uses reference to scripture in almost every question or subject(which I LOVED). It gives tons of helpful statistics, testimonies and study results to help you understand better.
This book shows you right from wrong, how to prioritize(take out the trash) and how to be open, honest and start over from any stage of marriage.
You learn tips, prayers and methods to slowly, gradually transform your marriage into what God had planned for you and your spouse! It even has a "plan" for you to set up and use as a guideline for goals, dreams and things you want to accomplish as a married couple.( How can we get where we want to be next week, year, in 5 years?)
I highly recommend this book to any Christian couples. No matter how wonderful you think your own marriage is, everyone can benefit from this book!
Definitely 5 stars*****

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Review: The Scarlet Letter

The Scarlet Letter
by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Quote: " A little longer, and thou needest not to be afraid to trace whose child she is. But how strangely beautiful she looks, with those wild-flowers in her hair!"` Hester pg. 186

Started: Feb.20, 2013
Finished: March 1, 2013
paperback/ 247 pages

From the cover:
Hailed by Henry James as " the finest piece of imaginative writing yet put forth in the country," Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter  reaches to our nation's historical and moral roots for the material of great tragedy. Set in an early New England colony, the novel shows the terrible impact a single, passionate act has on the lives of three members of the community: the defiant Hester Prynne; the fiery, tortured Reverend Dimmesdale; and the obsessed, vengeful Chillingworth.
With The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne became the first American novelist to forge from Puritan heritage a universal classic, a masterful exploration of humanity's unending struggle with sin, guilt, and pride.

My Review:
I loved the story and the how the book teaches us somewhat about how society treated sins. I wasn't thrilled with the writing style. I felt like the whole Introductory threw me off into what the story was actually about. I wasn't interested in that much detail about Hawthorne himself. Also, this version/print is categorized a teen read and honestly, I do not feel any teen would have read the first 45 pages of how Hawthorne became who he was and why he wrote a story such.
On to The Scarlet Letter. My impression as a whole was that it was...sad.
Sad, and tragic.
Hester, while feeling she had made the only choice she could after her "sin" was committed, put herself more so into a place of isolation and loneliness. By choosing not to reveal who her husband truly was or her lover(father of the baby) she set herself up for more heartache. I realize times were much different than today, but I can't help but feel she caused her own burden and with it a distance from her own child. She seemed to use the child as a punishment rather than a blessing and I cannot agree with that at all.
I detested Chillingworth. He was selfish, whiny and too woe is me. Dimmsesdale didn't fair much better, in my opinion. What a coward! All because he wanted to save his own reputation and ego. How could he live within the same community, seeing them so often and never acknowledge what part he had played??? How could he let Hester take all the shame and responsibility on herself and watch his own child become the next generation of target to those who knew?
Shame on him!
3 stars* for Hawthorne's, The Scarlet Letter

Review: The Last Sin Eater

The Last Sin Eater
by Francine Rivers

Quote: " Of myself, I'm saying nothing. I'm telling you what the man of God told us. There is only one Lamb of God, and he is Jesus Christ. We've no need of a scapegoat anymore. We need him." ~ Fagan pg. 247
Started: Feb.6, 2013
Finished: Feb. 19, 2013
paperback/ 324 pages

From the cover:
All that matters for Cadi Forbes is finding the one man who can set her free from the sin that plagues her days and nights... the sin that has stolen her mother's love from her and made her wish she could flee life and its terrible justice.
She knows it's forbidden, that doing so will bring curses down on her- but something deep and instinctive moves her, against all dire warnings, to find the "sin eater".
Before their journeys are over, Cadi and the sin eater must face themselves, each other- and the One who will demand all from them in exchange for the answers they seek.

My Review:
This is my first Francine Rivers read. I did like this book, however I did not love it. While it is considered an adult, Christian novel I found the book as a whole too drawn out as if the author really thought we needed so much repetition to hold our suspense and keep us reading. To me, it was dragged out into what could have been a great story if wrapped up in 200 or less pages. It seemed like I should have been reading aloud to my 9 year old and asking questions at the end of each chapter. e.i. "Do you understand why this and this happened?" 
Maybe it is because the story is mostly told from Cadi's point of view. I'm not sure.
Again, it had the most wonderful message, just not written to make the story "wow" me personally.
4 Stars* simply for the message aspect.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Review: Garden Spells

Garden Spells
Sarah Addison Allen

Quote: " and no one forced it on you. In fact, you ran as far away as you could from it and no one stopped you."~ Claire  pg.90
“You are who you are, whether you like it or not, so why not like it?” 

Started: Jan. 30, 2013
Finished: Feb. 5, 2013
447 pages/ paperback- large print edition

From the cover:
The Waverleys have always been a curious family, outsiders in their hometown of Bascom, North Carolina. Even their garden has a reputation, famous for its prophetic fruit and edible flowers, imbued with special powers. Generations of Waverleys tended this garden. Their history was in the soil. But so were their futures.
 A successful caterer, Claire Waverley prepares dishes made with her mystical plants. She and her elderly cousin, Evanelle, are the last of the Waverleys-except for Claire's rebellious sister, Sydney, who fled Bascom the moment she could. When Sydney suddenly returns home, Claire's quiet life is turned upside down. Together they must deal with their common legacy-if they are ever to feel at home in Bascom- or with each other. Enchanting and heartfelt, this novel is sure to cast a spell with a style all its own...

My Review:
I am liking Miss Sarah Addison-Allen more and more after each book I read of hers. Garden Spells is a fresh take on Practical Magic. Hoping there is no plagiarism intended...It was very close to this story. Two sisters who couldn't be more different, a mother that died while they were young, and of course a little bit of magic in the mix of things. Claire is the practical, guarded-heart while Sydney is the rebellious wild-child. Each have their own issues, fears and insecurities they must find a way to overcome. 
Anyway, it was such a good book. I loved all the characters. Each one was so well written and created. I would love to see this and also The Peach Keeper made into movies. 
The message I got from this book is, to be yourself. Don't let others determine how you feel about yourself and also that family is most likely your best asset.
I will definitely recommend this book to several friends!
Way to go Sarah Addison Allen!
5 stars*

Review: One Breath Away

One Breath Away
Heather Gudenkauf

Quote: " I saw one girl just about to climb out of the window. I don't know what, but something made her change her mind." ~ Meg   pg. 165

Started: Jan. 24, 2013
Finished: Jan. 29, 2013
paperback/370 pages

From the cover:
In the midst of a sudden spring snowstorm, an unknown man armed with a gun walks into an elementary school classroom. Outside the school, the town of Broken Branch watches and waits.
Officer Meg Barrett holds the responsibility for the town's children in her hands. Will Thwaite, reluctantly entrusted with the care of his two grandchildren by the daughter who left home years earlier, stands by helplessly and wonders if he has failed his child again. Trapped in her classroom, Evelyn Oliver watches for an opportunity to rescue the children in her care. And thirteen-year-old Augie Baker, already struggling with the aftermath of a terrible accident that has brought her to Broken Branch, will risk her own safety to protect her little brother.
As tension mounts with each passing minute, the hidden fears and grudges of the small town are revealed as the people of broken branch race to uncover the identity of the stranger who holds their children hostage.

My review:
I love Heather Gudenkauf and have read her other two books. I have to say this was my least favorite of her books. I kept feeling like this story was split. Not into the five characters as it was meant to be but rather it felt like two completely different stories in one book. I did not like Holly's character at all. First of all other than her children being with her father back in her home town there was really no point to her character at all. For these reasons, 1) Girl hates home, leaves. what does that/she have anything to do with the school hostage situation? Her not agreeing with her father's ways/lifestyle has nothing to do with the events that happened in the school. 2) Her lifestyle and choices don't either. How does her whole "chapter" about her sexual drive or partners tie into a school stand off??
I will say my favorite character was Mrs. Oliver. She showed true "character" throughout the book. I loved her courage and determination towards the safety of her students. She was level headed, clever , and always thinking of others first. which is what I would ideally want for my children's teacher to be.
Also, this book was a little to predictable for me. We see fairly quickly that "gunman" may be threatening and mean enough to knock a few people around, but he wasn't ready to start firing. Even after several chances. There were too many signs throughout the book that for me pretty much gave away any suspense or chance of thinking it was someone else.
I gave One Breath Away 3 stars*

Monday, February 4, 2013

Review: Before The Poison

Before The Poison
by Peter Robinson

Quote: "Well, let's face it, the place is hardly a cottage, and it is rather remote, isn't it? Talk about Wurthering Heights or Bleak House. And it's not a great spot for farming. Then... Do you know much about it, yourself?" ~ Ted  pg. 71

Started: Jan. 17, 2013
Finished: Jan. 24, 2013
hardcover/ 594 pages

From the cover:
After twenty-five years abroad in America, Chris Lowndes decides to return to the Yorkshire dales of his youth. The rambling old mansion he buys is charming, but something about it disturbs him- a feeling made ever stronger when he learns that the house was the scene of a murder more than fifty years before. The former owner, a prominent doctor named Ernest Arthur Fox, was supposedly poisoned by his beautiful and much younger wife, Grace. Arrested and brought to trial, Grace was found guilty and hanged for the crime.
 The more Chris discovers about the case, the more convinced he becomes that grace may have been innocent. Ignoring warnings to leave things alone, he sets out on a quest that takes him deep into the past and into a web of secrets that lie all too close to the present.

My Review:
I enjoyed the way this story was written. Jumping from present day 2010, back to the 1950's. It was broken up to give you details of the past and of the trial. Also we eventually get to read pages written in Grace's diary. 
 As Chris takes on a quest into finding out more about Grace Fox and who she was, Before the Poison, he finds out more about himself.  Maybe who he is can help him find what he's looking for and understand better who Grace was.
Loved the idea, liked the book. All in all, there may have been too much focus on what I considered "not important" parts and too little detail or understanding on the " big stuff".
I still gave it 3 stars*

Review: Dear America, A Journey to the New World

Dear America:
A Journey to the New World
The Diary of Remember Patience Whipple
Mayflower, 1620
 Kathryn Lasky

Quote: "  I begin now this second part of our diary, even though it is the same day. I consider the voyage finished and this be the New World part." ~Mem   pg. 43

Started: Jan. 14, 2013
Finished: Jan. 16, 2013
hardcover/ 174 pages

From the cover:
"Land ahoy!"
 The call from the crow's nest cracked the dawn. Hummy's and my eyes flew open...we all hurried out. Unable to believe the words, our eyes wide in the half-light of dawn. Several of us crowded along the rail. The sailors saw it first, the faint, dark line against the horizon... But within minutes of searching the horizon with our eyes, Hummy and I begun to see the same.
 We held each other's hands so tightly and dared not breathe, but minute by minute, the line became firmer and began to thicken. 'Twas not a wisp of a dream but real. It has taken us all of sixty-five days, but finally we are here. This be the New World and it doth fill my eyes for the first time.

My Review:
I have to admit that I love the Dear America series. They are such good little reads and have actually taught me things I had not learned before. This book in particular was about the Mayflower voyage of 1620. I learned new names that I hadn't known, such as the "Saints" and "Separatists" which are the names given to those from the Saints of the Holy Discipline who separated from the Church of England. Rather than just being what we call, Pilgrims. I also didn't know that the Mayflower was originally a wine ship from Portugal. This book actually includes many names of real passengers who were among those on board. The names can be matched to ledgers located on internet searches. I like the way this book shows us what the voyage most likely was like from the eyes of a child. How she dealt with sickness, hunger, heartache and even boredom. So often in history we see children have dealt with things we cannot imagine ourselves overcoming as adults, let alone a child. We take for granted our own children's advantages and innocence. My daughters actually own a short(28minute) movie by the same name and I have to say there were too many missing parts to the movie after finishing the book. There were complete characters left out and other things added to the movie that were no where in the story.
For the book, I give it 4 Stars*

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Review: Death Comes to Pemberley

Death Comes to Pemberley
by P.D. James

Quote: " I may have said much too little and you, my love, a little too much, but together, as usual, I think we got it right. and now we must brace ourselves for the majesty of the law in the person of Sir Selwyn Hardcastle." - Darcy pg. 129

Started: Jan. 5, 2013
Finished: Jan. 12, 2013
hardcover/ 291 pages

From the cover:
It is 1803, six years since Elizabeth and Darcy embarked on their life together at Pemberley, Darcy's magnificent estate. Their peaceful, orderly world seems almost unassailable. Elizabeth has found her footing as the chatelaine of the great house. They have two fine sons, Fitzwilliam and Charles. Elizabeth's sister Jane and her husband, Bingley, live nearby; her father visits often; there is optimistic talk about the prospects of marriage for Darcy's sister, Georgiana. And preparations are under way for their much-anticipated annual autumn ball.
 Then, on the eve of the ball, the patrician idyll is shattered. A coach careens up the drive carrying Lydia, Elizabeth's disgraced sister, who with her husband, the very dubious Wickham, has been banned from Pemberley. She stumbles out of the carriage, hysterical, shrieking that Wickham has been murdered. With shocking suddenness, Pemberley is plunged into a frightening mystery.

My Review:
 Ummm, well. I have no idea where to begin. I truly wanted to love this book. I didn't. honestly, I didn't even like this book. Yes, I admit I trudged myself on to finish it fully. I just kept thinking it had to get better soon. I was fooling myself. I knew before half way through it was doomed with no hope of recovering!
Sadly, this P.D. James, which I admit I had never even heard of before this book, has lost my interest completely with just one book. I try not to judge authors too harshly based on one book, but SERIOUSLY, this is Jane Austen you were dealing with. To even attempt this feat and feel enough confidence in yourself as an author amazes me!
Where was Elizabeth in this book???? This "woman-in-her-place", "shadow of a person" was by NO means the Elizabeth that Miss Austen created. 
I never felt connected to any of these characters. They never became real to me or alive. 
There was no believable scenes or chapters. Everything just dragged on and on without ever really becoming a story.
I don't see anymore P.D. James books in my future.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Review: Spare Change

Spare Change
by Bette Lee Crosby

Quote:" I believe he's a man who can be trusted, but you'll have to be the one to decide whether or not you want to tell him the truth of what happened."-Olivia pg. 212

Started: Jan. 3, 2013
Finished: Jan.5, 2013
280 pages/ paperback

From the cover:
Olivia Westerly's father disowned her when she tossed her nose in the air and left home in pursuit of a job he considered scandalous. He expected that she'd marry and settle into having babies as her friends had done; but Olivia simply couldn't tolerate the thought. Why just the mere mention of children sent chills up her spine!
 Believing that children weigh a woman down like a pocket full of stones, Olivia avoids such entanglements for almost forty years... but then she meets Charlie Doyle and everything changes. Even though Charlie has a son, and a grandson he's supposedly never seen, Olivia is blinded by love and happily says " I do,"
 That happiness is cut short when Charlie dies on their honeymoon and Olivia returns home to find eleven year old Ethan Allen Doyle sitting on her doorstep. The boy's parents are dead and only two people know the truth of what happened- Ethan Allen isn't talking and the murderer wants to make certain he never does. Olivia is the only one who can stop it from happening.

My Review:
I am so excited to finally get to this review! This is my first review on a book that was sent to me personally from the author! Signed and everything!!! Woo hoo! I am more than delighted to do this review for what I am discovering is a wonderful author, Mrs. Bette Lee Crosby.
Be sure and visit her website or you can even be her fan/friend on Goodreads by clicking here.
Don't forget to add her books to your reading list!
Spare Change was such a sweet, heartwarming and sometimes sassy book. While some reviewers have claimed this book to have a slow start, I rather enjoyed the character building aspect of the first few chapters. I really enjoyed the well way it was written in short chapters by individual characters views.
The character's personalities immediately show through and draw you into the story.
Olivia is a woman who has always known what she wanted and what she didn't want in life.
Charlie is the all American man of her dreams, Olivia has been waiting for.
Susanna is a feisty, dreamer that struggles with what she can do and what she wants to do
Benjamin is the hard-working, never has it good enough, rough-necked drunkard
Ethan Allen(my favorite) is the neglected, spunky little guy with too much life experience for his age
Scooter Cobb is the slimey, over sized, above the law wannabe!
Detective Jack Mahoney, good-guy, christian cop who wants to save the day and right all wrongs
There are several other, smaller characters, but all have very distinguished personalities.
This book showed me how you never know how or when you will find faith, trust and hope. The Lord does indeed work in mysterious ways. Crosby shows that no matter what we think we want in life, He always has something better for us. at least in Olivia's case.
I don't want to include any spoilers which makes this part of the review so difficult. I really enjoyed this story and hope that there will be a sequel. I will say I wish Crosby had written more about why Charlie hadn't spoken to his son and where did Susanna really come from. I think those were the only two things that never really got answered for me.
I have already recommended this book to several friends and have 3 people in line to borrow my copy!
Definitely 5 stars*****

Review: The Sealed Letter

The Sealed Letter
by Emma Donoghue

Quote: " Liberty! Let every woman do that which is right in her own eyes!" -Fido pg. 168

Started: Dec. 21, 2012
Finished: Jan. 2, 2013
397 pages/hardcover

From the cover:
Based on a scandalous divorce case
that gripped England in 1864, The Sealed Letter blends fact and invention to create a riveting, provocative drama of friends, lovers, and divorce-Victorian style.
Miss Emily "Fido" Faithfull is a "woman of business" and a spinster pioneer in the British women's movement, independent of mind but naively trusting of heart. Distracted from her cause by the sudden return of her once-dear friend, the unhappily wed Helen Codrington, Fido is swept up in the intimate details of Helen's failing marriage to a stuffy admiral and her obsessive affair with a young army officer. What begins as a loyal effort to help a friend explodes into a courtroom drama that rivals the Clinton affair- complete with stained clothing, accusations of adultery, counterclaims of rape, and a mysterious sealed letter that could destroy more than one life.
  The Sealed Letter is a page-turner of the most intelligent sort. Brought to life by Emma Donoghue's vivid characterizations and matchless eye for detail, here is a story remarkably relevant to contemporary issues of infidelity, propriety, and the media.

My Review:
I have no idea how to give this review. First, this was NOT a " page-turner of the most intelligent sort", nor did it have "vivid characters". I want to say that given the time when this "scandal" took place then yes, I agree the book is "fitting". Seeing that it was actually written in 2008!!!! I cannot believe that Miss Donoghue meant for this story to come out the way it did.  It's almost as if she was afraid to include ANY details or "meat" to the story. I just felt like the whole book was one big secret that vaguely got revealed in the last 5 or so pages. Again with no real detail or insight. Maybe she got too wrapped up in the what was appropriate in 1864, and forgot to write in details of the story that are appropriate in the 21st century! 
Then of course there are the " character", which I use the term loosely. I couldn't relate to or believe any of them. the most interesting had to be the nosy, over dramatic,and conniving, Mrs. Watson. At least she showed some "character". she seems to be the only character Donoghue decided to reveal or show her true colors about. 
I haven't been pleased with Google or Wiki on this whole subject either. There is almost no, if little information on the Codrington divorce. I like to do my own research on any non-fiction books I read and was very disappointed to find almost nothing. There are several other book reviews on The Sealed Letter and several opinion posts but no real facts! There are tons of bio pages on Emily Faithfull but not one picture of Helen Codrington. the only info I can find on Henry Codrington mainly focuses on his military career. And whatever happened to their two daughters???
* 2 stars*


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