Saturday, February 26, 2011

"Glorious" by Bernice L. McFadden

In one of Langston Hughes' most famous poems he asks "what happens to a dream deferred?" In the novel Glorious, by Bernice L. McFadden, we see what happens.

Easter Bartlett is a fictional Harlem Renaissance writer whose road to fame was paved with trouble, heartbreak and loss. As a child she was hit hard by the turmoil of the Jim Crow South, losing family and friends to the racial strife. But Easter had a talent and a dream, and her strength and resilience brought her out of her past and to Harlem where she would find success as a writer, only to have it all taken from her and be sent back to where she began.

In Glorious, Ms.McFadden blends fiction and fact to create a story that is both beautiful and heart-wrenching. There are many parts of the book which the reader will find raw and brutal. But the times that are written about were raw and brutal. McFadden presents these stories in a way which will shock and horrify the reader, but also makes the reader understand that it's not about being sensational, it's about telling the truth. Her writing is gripping, intense and haunting and each page brings to life the era the story is set in.

I love the way that Ms. McFadden blends historical reality into her fictional story. She captures the spirit of Harlem and its writing scene during the civil rights era through real and imagined characters and remains true to historical fact. It is obvious that an incredible amount of research went into this book.

This is a book that is difficult to put down. Easter Bartlett is a character who reaches out to you from the first page and who you never want to let go off. This is a beautiful story that needs to be told and is one of the best fictional books about black history that I have read.

Friday, February 25, 2011

"The Life Ready Woman" by Shaunti Feldhahn & Robert Lewis *Plus Giveaway*

Are you a 'Doing it all' or 'Do what matters' woman?

No matter what our roles in life are, as modern women we often find ourselves trying to figure out how to manage our busy lives. As Christian women, we turn to the Bible for guidance. But sometimes it can be hard to find the answers, since life today is much different from what it was back then. It's often hard to find chapter and verse that can be applied to our current situations.

In The Life Ready Woman: Thriving in a Do-It-All World, Shaunti Feldhan, with Robert Lewis, shows Christian women how they can live an abundant life while keeping a Biblical perspective. She shows us how we can live God's best for our lives and find the peace and balance we all desire.

I found this book refreshing. I often shy away from books that give life advice because I find that they are often written with only one type of person in mind, or that they are trying to create one type of person. But Shaunti Feldhahn realizes that this isn't what God wants, He wants us to live our own lives to the fullest.

Shaunti presents the three types of calling and design that help us to understand what we were created to be. The first is Core Callings, our callings and design as human beings made in God's image. The second is Feminine Callings, our callings and design as women. The third is Personal Callings, our callings and design as unique individuals.

From there, Shaunti shows us how we can determine what our callings are and how to live them out. What I liked most about the book is that she examines this from the perspective of the different life seasons. Whether you are a single woman, a mother, or a widow, young or old, she will help you develop your callings and design to suit where you currently are.

As women today we face pressure from everywhere to do it all. But when we look at our lives we see that it's not really possible. If you're struggling with trying to do it all this book will help you take a look at your life, what you need to focus on right now, and how to live your life so that you feel like you're thriving instead of just surviving.

About Shaunti Feldhahn

Shaunti Feldhahn is a former Wall Street analyst, best-selling author of the book For Women Only, national speaker, and regular commentator in the media. She has been featured on the The Today Show, PBS, TNT and Fox News - to name a few. You can learn more about her many activities by visiting her website or get some great mom advice from her at She and her husband live with their two young children in Atlanta, Georgia and enjoy every minute of living at warp speed.

I would like to thank the ladies at Litfuse for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book. The opinions expressed above are purely my own.

Checkout this great giveaway from MomLife Today:

In celebration of Shaunti Feldhahn’s Life Ready Woman, MomLife Today is giving away 2 Weekend To Remember Gift Packs and much more!

Not only, is MomLife Today helping promote Life Ready Woman, but they are thrilled to announce that Shaunti will be joining MomLife Today as a regular contributor!!!

Weekend To Remember Get-Aways offer marriage-changing principles that you can take home and apply to your daily lives to strengthen your marriage. Whether you are newly engaged or have been married for 50 years, you will find value in the tools provided at the getaway.


Don’t miss this opportunity to receive a conference registration for you and your spouse … and more! MomLife Today will be randomly selecting NINE lucky recipients to receive one of these great gifts:
  1. 2 Weekend To Remember Get Away conference registrations for two. $259 value each pair (Two couples will receive this.)

  2. 2 Life Ready Woman DVD packs. $149 value each (Two different people will receive this gift.)

  3. 5 The Life Ready Woman books. (Book will go to 5 people.)
To enter click one of the icons below then tell your friends. Winner will be announced on March 2nd on the MomLife Today website.

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

MomLife Today provides encouragement, advice and resources to help YOU with your daily Momlife! Because…every MOMent counts!

***Check out my great giveaway***

I'm giving away a copy of The Life Ready Woman! To enter, leave a comment below with your email address. Contest is open to Canadian and US addresses and will run until 11:59pm on Friday, March 4th. Winner will be posted here and notified by email.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme at Breaking the Spine where bloggers share which upcoming releases they are eagerly anticipating. My choice this week is:

The Kid by Sapphire
Release Date: 5 July 2011

The Kid is the sequel to Push which most people know as the novel that was adapted into the award winning movie Precious. This book will tell the story of Abdul Jones, the son of Precious. I haven't found a whole synopsis of the book but here is what the press release says:

"Sapphire never fails to render the hardest material comprehensible by coming from a place of love. In her second novel, she fearlessly explores the young life of an African American boy as he approaches manhood; alone, brutalized and with the soul of an artist." (PRNewswire)

Have you read Push? Are you going to read The Kid?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"Hatteras Girl" by Alice J. Wisler

Jackie Donovan is praying for two things to come into her life - an honest, wonderful man to marry and The Bailey House, a local bed and breakfast that features in many of her happy childhood memories. Until her prayers are answered she must remain content with her job at a local magazine and going on blind dates set up by her relatives.

When Jackie meets Davis Erickson, a handsome man who holds the keys to the bed and breakfast, Jackie thinks her prayers have answered. But it seems her dreams may remain just dreams as she begins to learn about Davis' past and the secrets surrounding the Bailey House. Will Jackie's prayers ever be answered?

Hatteras Girl is cute story set in a beautiful destination spot, the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Alice J. Wisler does a wonderful job of painting the scene for the reader. Even if you have never travelled to this area you will still be able to picture the scenes through Wisler's writing.

I did have a difficult time connecting with the character of Jackie. There were times when I found her attitude toward her circumstances a little off-putting. There were other times where I felt she lacked emotion when there should have been some.

What I appreciated about this book was the development of other characters in the book. There are quite a few people who factor into Jackie's life and Wisler gives them all enough of a story to make them feel real and interesting.

This book is Christian fiction but isn't heavy on religion. God and church factor into the characters lives but aren't the main focus of the book. If you're looking for spiritual growth in a novel you won't find it here, but you will still find a sweet story with Christian themes.

Overall Hatteras Girl was a light, fun read. You'll take a trip to a close-knit beach community and enjoy meeting it's fun, quirky residents.

Monday, February 21, 2011

It's Monday What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! It's a holiday here so no school for everyone. I definitely become a lot more productive on long weekends! It's Monday What Are You Reading is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

What I Read Last Week

Glorious by Bernice L. McFadden

What I'm Reading Now

A Billion Reasons Why by Kristin Billerbeck

What I Plan To Read Next

While The World Watched by Carolyn Maull McKinstry
The Sentimentalists by Johanna Skibsrud (2010 Giller Prize Winner)

What are you reading this week?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

"Citizens of Nowhere: From Refugee Camp to Canadian Campus" by Debi Goodwin

The town of Dadaab in the North Eastern Province of Kenya lies 100 kilometres from the border with Somalia. Its biggest feature is three refugee camps run by CARE which are home to over 160,000 refugees, most of whom have fled the civil war in Somalia which began in 1991.

Life in Dadaab is tough. Many people have been living there for over a decade. There are no job opportunities, resources are stretched thin, and thousands more refugees continue to flood the camp. For many young people in Dadaab, their only hope at a future and to provide for their families is to obtain one of a few scholarships to a Canadian university.

In Citizens of Nowhere: From Refugee Camp to Canadian Campus Debi Goodwin follows eleven refugees from Dadaab throughout their first year in Canada. She begins by exploring their lives in Kenya and getting to know their hopes and dreams for the future as well as their impressions of Canada. She then meets them at the airport as they arrive in Canada and follow them as they navigate Western culture, adapt to university life and wintry weather, and try to get through their separation from their families and homes.

This is an incredible book. I didn't want to put it down as I became attached to the eleven men and women who took incredibly brave steps to provide for their families. These are people who have experienced the horrors of civil war, fleeing their homeland and being forced into the restrictive conditions of refugee camps. Then they left everything they ever knew behind them and moved to a country that could not be any more different from what they have experienced. They possess a level of bravery and commitment that is awe-inspiring.

In addition to getting to know these amazing people, it was really neat to see my own country and city through the eyes of a newcomer. Even though I live in a neighbourhood that is comprised mostly of immigrants, am married to an immigrant and am the child of an immigrant, I think I underestimated the experience that people go through when they arrive here. In reading this book, I felt like I was placed right in their shoes and was able to see things through their eyes.

There is so much to this book. It gives the reader an understanding of the conflict that has taken over Somalia, the life that refugees in Africa face, and the attitudes of Canadians toward newcomers and toward Muslims. It helps you understand the plight that young immigrants face as they struggle to adjust to life in their new country while supporting their families back home.

I highly recommend Citizens of Nowhere. The subject matter is deep and serious, but the attitudes and insights of the students as well as their spirits will not only make it an easy read but inspire you.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme where book bloggers share upcoming books they are eagerly anticipating. My selection this week is:

Swept Off Her Feet by Hester Browne
Release Date: 8 March 2011
Evie Nicholson is in love . . . with the past. An antiques appraiser in a London shop, Evie spins fanciful attachments to Victorian picture frames, French champagne glasses, satin evening gloves, and tattered teddy bears—regardless of their monetary value.

Alice Nicholson is in love . . . with Fraser Graham, a dashing Scotsman whom Evie secretly desires. As crisply neat and stylish as Evie is cheerfully cluttered, Alice is a professional organizer determined to pull her sister out of her comfort zone—and who presents her with an irresistible offer.

As a favor to friends of Fraser’s family, Evie jumps at the chance to appraise a Scottish castle full of artifacts and heirlooms. What could be more thrilling than roaming the halls of Kettlesheer and uncovering the McAndrews’ family treasures—and dusty secrets?

But crossing paths with moody heir Robert McAndrew has Evie assessing what she wants the most . . . and at an upcoming candlelight gala, a traditional dance will set her heart reeling.

I picked up Hester Browne's The Finishing Touches after reading about it on another blog and I really enjoyed the book so I'm hoping this one will be just as good. I really like the idea of browsing through antiques at Scottish castle!

What are you waiting for?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

It's Monday What Are You Reading?

Happy Monday! This meme is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. It's a great way to get yourself ready for the week and keep all your book reading in order! I love sitting down on Mondays to take a look at the week ahead.

What I read last week

Hatteras Girl by Alice J. Wisler
The Life Ready Woman by Shaunti Feldhan

What I'm reading now

What I plan to read next

A Billion Reasons Why by Kristin Billerbeck
Glorious by Bernice L. McFadden
While the World Watched by Carolyn Maull McKinstry

How is your week looking?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Book Blogger Hop

Happy Friday! It's been a cold week here and even though it's supposed to warm up a bit this weekend, I think I'll still stay in curled up with a good book and a cup of tea.

Welcome to the hop, hosted by Jennifer at Crazy For Books. Each week book bloggers visit each other, finding new blogs and more great reads!

This weeks question is: Tell us about one of your posts from this week and give us a link so we can read it.

I'm going to share my review of War Child: A Child Soldier's Story. Emmanuel Jal is now an international hip hop star, but at the age of 7 was raging in his native Sudan and he was conscripted as a child soldier. He did his share of fighting, but was rescued by British aid worker and has gone on to use his musical talent to share the story of child soldiers. Incredible read. With the recent vote on secession for Southern Sudan, and the increased use of child soldiers around the world, this is a timely and important read.

What's been your favourite read lately?
Thanks for hopping by and have a good weekend!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

"War Child: A Child Soldier's Story" by Emmanuel Jal

At the age of seven Emmanuel Jal's childhood ended and his life was changed forever. He was living in a small village in Sudan with his family as the civil war raged on. The Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), a predominantly southern Sudanese rebel movement were fighting against the Islamic government for control of Southern Sudan and its resources. While Jal's father was a powerful commander in the SPLA, the family continued to move throughout the country trying to find peace. But eventually the war found them, and Jal was conscripted into the SPLA as a child soldier.

War Chlld: A Child Soldier's Story is Emmanuel Jal's incredible story of bravery and survival as he fought for over a decade. His cunning and intelligence helped him to survive as he became one of the Lost Boys, walking to Ethiopia to live in a refugee camp where he was trained to become a soldier. He honestly and vividly recounts his experiences in battle. But Jal was given an amazing opportunity that most child soldiers never received - he was adopted by a British aid worker, taken out of the war and given an education.

From there his life changed drastically. To heal from his ordeal and share his experiences he turned to hip hop and began making music. He worked hard to promote himself and share his story and was soon rewarded for it, releasing his own album and performing with international music stars such as Bono and Peter Gabriel.

War Child is an incredibly poignant book. Jal is an incredible storyteller and he shares the heartbreaking story of so many young boys in Sudan and Africa who have had their childhoods stolen away from them. What I admired most about this book was Jal's honesty about his emotions and life. In the beginning, Jal wanted to fight and was desperate to see action so that he could take revenge on those who had harmed his family. The predominantly Christian and tribal South was fighting the Arab Muslim North and this bred a hatred in Jal. He doesn't back down from sharing his feelings but does so with courage and strength as he shares how those views were changed.

The use of child soldiers in conflict is an issue of importance today and Emmanuel Jal's War Child puts a face to this issue. It is an important read for anyone interested in this topic and wants to know more about the issue of child soldiers and the conflict in Sudan.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme at Breaking the Spine. It's where book bloggers share which upcoming releases they are looking forward to. My selection this week is:

RSVP by Helen Warner
17 March 2011 (UK release date)

RSVP tells the story of four women, one wedding and a whole heap of trouble...

Anna's world is rocked when she receives an invitation to her ex Toby's nupitals - Toby was The One, The Love of Her Life, The One That Got Away. Will attending his Big Day finally give her the sense of closure she so desperately craves? Or will it only re-open old wounds?

Clare is Anna's best friend, the person who was there for her when she and Toby split all those years ago. But little does Clare know that Toby's wedding day will also change her own forever.

Ella is a classic femme fatale. She loves men and leaves them without a backward glance. But the one person who's never fallen for her charms is Toby. As he prepares to get hitched, is it too late for a last-ditch attempt to win his heart?

Finally, Rachel is the blushing bride-to-be. This should be the happiest day of her life. So how comes she feels nothing but a terrible sense of foreboding?

I haven't been able to find a North American release date for this book, hopefully we won't have to wait to long for this. It sounds like it will be a good one!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

"A Million Blessings" by Angela Benson, Marilynn Griffith, and Tia McCollors

How would your life be affected if you won the lottery? Would it solve all of your problems or just bring you more?

A Million Blessings is a book of three short stories that examine those questions. Playing the lottery is a contentious issue in the Christian church and for three people they're going to find out why.

In Showers of Blessing by Angela Benson Andrew Gooden is an assistant pastor who is down on his luck. Addicted to gambling, he is just about to lose everything. But a winning lottery ticket saves him. Will he be able to use his winnings to build his dream church, or will his addiction consume him even more?

In Second Chance Blessings by Marilynn Griffith pro football player Craig Richards is dealing with an injury that has caused him to lose everything, including his wife. After moving back home he begins to put together a new life for himself, until a second shot at fame comes calling. Will he risk everything for fame and fortune?

In A Knight in Pink Armor by Tia McCollors Dara Knight has decided to use her multimillion dollar windfall to make a difference in a poverty-stricken community. But just when she thinks everything is going to turn out well a neighbourhood gang sets out to destroy all she is working for. Will she stick to her motives or or will she be run out of town?

Benson, Griffith and McCollors are all fabulous, established Urban Christian writers. Putting these three authors together into one book is a great way to introduce readers to the genre. If you're not familiar with Urban Christian this book is a great place to start. If you are a fan of the genre, you will love seeing three great authors together in one book.

Monday, February 7, 2011

It's Monday What Are You Reading?

It's Monday What Are You Reading? is fantastic meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. Not only is a great way to find out about books but as one blogger put it last week, it's an excellent way to get yourself and your upcoming week in reading organized.

What I Read Last Week

Old School Ties by Kate Harrison
A Million Blessings by Angela Benson, Marilynn Griffith, and Tia McCollors
War Child by Emmanuel Jal

What I'm Reading Now

The Life Ready Woman by Shaunti Feldhan

What I Plan to Read Next

Hatteras Girl by Alice J. Wisler

How does your week look?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

"Old School Ties" by Kate Harrison

Tracey Mortimer longs for the good old days of school. Back then she was the most popular girl in school. Everyone followed her and wanted to be in her good books. But now, at the age of 33, she's stuck in a dull marriage and her days have become a never-ending round of cleaning, cooking and kids television.

However, things are about to change for Tracey. A TV company has decided to make a reality show about the perfect school reunion and Tracey is its star. Soon she is caught up in preparations for reliving the good old days when she was the centre of attention. Only, not all of her classmates remember Tracey in such a fond way….

Old School Ties by Kate Harrison is both a funny and serious look at the way our lives change and how the way in which we remember ourselves doesn't always match up with how we really were. It will have you reminiscing about your school days and wondering if it really was how you remember it to be.

In the beginning of the book you most likely won't take Tracey. You can definitely see why her ex-classmates don't want to reunite with her and I found myself hoping that they would get their revenge on Tracey. But as you read on and discover more about Tracey's life you begin to understand some of her behaviours. The book shows that you should always look deeper than the surface when trying to understand a person.

While I enjoyed this book and would recommend it, it did fizzle out a bit toward the end for me. I wouldn't write the book off because of it, I think it just turned out a bit different than I was expecting.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Book Blogger Hop

Happy Friday! My weeks seem to be going by pretty fast which is nice, but that also means that the weekends are going by just as fast! I'm looking forward to a relaxing day of reading on Saturday and the Super Bowl on Sunday.

The Book Blogger Hop hosted by Jennifer at Crazy For Books is a weekly get together for book bloggers. Each week about 300 bloggers participate so you will definitely find some new blogs to follow and some great books to read.

This weeks question is: What are you reading now and why are you reading it?

I'm reading two books right now:

The Life Ready Woman by Shaunti Feldhan is for a blog tour. It's a book for Christian woman to help discover what God's purpose is for your life, how to live it out and to be ready for what life brings you. So far, I'm really enjoying it.

War Child: A Child Soldier's Story by Emmanuel Jal is his personal story of being a child soldier in Sudan. I just finished reading Romeo Dallaire's book on child soldiers so I thought it would be good to read a personal account to compliment what I read. I've read a few other personal accounts of child soldiers (Ishmael Beah's A Long Way Gone and Mariatu Kamara's The Bite of the Mango) and they are incredible stories. A great way for people in the West to understand the horrifying use of child soldiers in conflicts around the world.

What are you reading now?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

"With This Ring, I'm Confused" by Kristin Billerbeck

The time has arrived. Patent Attorney Ashley Stockingdale is getting married…to a surgeon! This is what she has been dreaming about and waiting for. Bring on the Vera Wang dress, the Kenneth Cole shoes and the Kate Spade place settings. Doesn't it all seem perfect? Too bad it's not turning out that way.

As if being a Patent Attorney in Silicon Valley and a bride to be wasn't enough, Ashley's company has just hired her ex-boyfriend, her fiance is talking about moving across the country, and her soon to be sister-in-law/wedding planner has decided that only a Gone With the Wind theme would be appropriate for the wedding. Add to that a very judgmental mother-in-law, a roommate with a dark family secret, and a few great-aunts who can't wait to throw her a lingerie shower (thongs included) and Ashley is beginning to wonder if her happily ever after will ever be real.

With This Ring, I'm Confused is the third book in Kristin Billerbeck's Ashley Stockingdale series. The series is a witty, fun look at a Christian woman's journey through the dating world. Determined not to be a part of the Singles Group at church forever, Ashley is on the hunt for a nice, good-looking Christian guy who is willing to commit. Something that turns out to be not as easy as she thought.

Kristin Billerbeck is a master of Christian women's fiction. She writes effortlessly fun books about relatable Christian women and Ashley is a great example of the woman who knows what she wants in life, but is listening for (and often struggles with) what God wants for her life.

If you haven't read either of the two previous books in the series (What a Girl Wants and She's Out of Control) you will still enjoy reading this book. However, I recommend reading the entire series. You will love the character of Ashley and will most likely relate to her good intentions that rarely seem to turn out the way she hopes.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

"How Not to Shop" by Carmen Reid

Personal shopper Annie Valentine is back and life is fabulous! But will it stay that way for long?

Annie has just hit the jackpot with a job as a presenter on a brand new makeover show. Unfortunately, the show is not on a big name channel and its budget certainly reflects that!

Life at home isn't much better. Her son has become an eco-warrior who gets a little over-zealous cleaning out the closets, her daughter is spending all of her time in her room supposedly studying, and a sexy young blonde stranger has just moved in. On top of this, her husband Ed is starting to feel some strong baby urges. Will Annie be able to handle of all this AND fame?

How Not to Shop is the third novel in Carmen Reid's Annie Valentine series and I love her more and more with each book I read. She is a ton of fun and what girl wouldn't want to own her wardrobe?

How Not to Shop is a whirlwind of fun and a great, easy read. Annie's life is one big roller-coaster, as well as those who surround her. The story moves quick and the supporting characters provide extra fun to the book.

If you like Becky Bloomwood of the Shopaholic series, you should definitely give Annie Valentine a try.