Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The World of PostSecret by Frank Warren

Most of us don't give out our home address to complete strangers willy-nilly. Yet that is exactly what Frank Warren did. He wrote his address on postcards with instructions for sending in an anonymous secret.

So far he has received a literal ton of postcards and other objects with secrets written on them. Many are works of art. All of them tell a story about people who need encouragement. 
The World of PostSecret is the latest book in this series. Just a thought, odds are that you are not the only one with your personal secret.

Kathi Linz

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Forget Me Not by Fern Michaels

Lucy Brighton is the creator of a successful cartoon business. She lives in New Jersey in her parents' house. They are world-famous doctors on call all over the world.

Lucy gets a call from a sheriff in Florida saying that both of her parents died in a car crash with a drunken teenager. She immediately buys tickets to fly to Florida to take care of the arrangements and all of the necessary house and personal issues that occur after a sudden death in the family. To compound this, Lucy has no idea what her parents last wishes were since they were virtually strangers after her tenth birthday. She'd been sent to boarding school and had barely spoken with them since then.

The house in Florida is an exact copy of the one she lives in in New Jersey. There are no photos, no personal effects, and very few clothes in the enormous closets. And that is when things get very strange very quickly. Federal agents show up looking for her and trying to gain entry to the house. Lucy gets struck by lightning just before she leaves for New Jersey and ends up in the hospital.

Armed with the support of two friends, Lucy tries to figure out what is happening and who or what her parents were. Is it the DHS, CIA, FBI or some other alphabet organization that is tracking her every move? Who are the bad guys and who are the good guys? And does it matter which side they are on? Will Lucy's life ever be the same?

This book kept me up late for a couple of nights.

Kathi Linz

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

How to Start a Home-Based Etsy Business by Gina Luker

     How to Start a Home-Based Etsy Business by Gina Luker has a lot of good advice starting with your reasons for starting a craft business and how to set it up in a manner that will be exactly what you want and still satisfy the IRS.
     The author mentions hidden costs, things you might be inclined to throw in, "It only takes a minute...", and how to see which items might be the most profitable. It tells how to determine a reasonable price for your crafts and how to work on promoting your Etsy shop.
     If you have an Etsy shop already, you will learn some new tricks. If you are thinking of starting one, read this first so that you don't make beginner's errors.

Kathi Linz

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Matchmaker by Elin Hilderbrand

Every summer, I look forward to a new installment from Elin Hilderbrand. Her books have the island of Nantucket as the setting.  The Matchmaker did not disappoint.

Dabney Kimball Beech is a 48 year-old woman who has lived her entire life on Nantucket.  She is the  highly successful President of the Nantucket Chamber of Commerce.  Dabney also has a special vision for figuring out who would be compatible as a couple.  She has matched over forty-two couples on Nantucket.   Dabney has a "gift for love, the way one has an eye for color."   Dabney's husband is John Boxmiller Beech, an economics professor at Harvard and an economics specialist to the President of the United States.  Dabney affectionately refers to him as "Box."   Box commutes to Harvard on Sunday evening and he returns to Nantucket for the weekend.

Dabney's high school sweetheart, Clendenin Hughes returns to Nantucket after twenty-seven years.  Hughes left the U.S. after graduating from college to pursue his lifetime goal to be an internationally renown journalist in the Pacific Rim.  Clendenin returns to Nantucket hoping to renew his relationship with Dabney even though he knows that Dabney is a married woman. 

To complicate things even further, Dabney's daughter, Agnes returns to Nantucket for the summer because her job as a Boys & Girls Club Director is phased-out due to the Club temporarily closing during the summer.  Agnes brings her much-older fiance' CJ, who is a sports representative for professional athletes.  Upon meeting CJ, Dabney immediately knows that CJ is not the "right one" for Agnes.


Monday, August 18, 2014

Tabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin

Tabula Rasa by
Kristen Lippert-Martin
I was given an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

I wasn't sure about this book when I started reading. But when I found myself thinking about it when I WASN'T reading I knew that something in this story resonated with me. Isn't that the mark of a good story? It's a super charged, super fast, stand alone read! Did you hear that? IT'S NOT A TRILOGY!!! Thank you! However, fans of trilogies Maze Runner and Hunger Games and Divergent would probably like this strong heroine.


Friday, August 15, 2014

Escaped With Honor by Charles Layton

Escaped With Honor by Charles Layton

What I loved about this book wasn't the writing or even the story itself. What I loved was the heart behind the story. I read a lot of woe is me books by people who blame their current life on their past. This is NOT that book. Yes, Layton's childhood was heartbreaking, his time in Korea tragic, and his search for love and belonging touching but it's his continual hope and refusal to wallow in self pity that reached me the most.

In his own words, "looking back, I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I assumed I could deal with the experiences in my life - and the consequences - on my own. I thought I was strong enough to hold it all in and not burden others with my past. However, as I have made new friends - people of faith that I have learned to trust - they have encouraged me to tell my story. Through the pledge I made in the Hooch to use my life to care and do good for others, I am now surrounded by friends who have helped me to examine my life from a new and beautiful perspective. I know that I did not make this pledge to myself sixty years ago because of where I was, but because of who I am.


Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Promise of a Pencil by Adam Braun

Adam Braun spent one college semester studying and traveling around the world with a program called Semester at Sea. He determined to ask one child at every port-of-call, "If you could have anything in the world, what would you ask for?" One child said, "To dance." Another said, "A book." But the child who made the biggest impact said, "A pencil."

Adam understood that what the child really wanted was a chance to go to school and learn. He determined to start a "for-purpose" organization that would help build schools in the poorest places on earth. He called it Pencils of Promise. At last count, they had over 200 schools and are breaking ground on a new one every 90 hours. He added a section to his website called "The Impossible Ones" for youth and adults who are doing extraordinary things to raise funds to help build schools on three continents.

This story is worth reading if you have a heart for helping people in under-served parts of the world.

Kathi Linz

Friday, July 25, 2014

Just 18 Summers by Rene Gutteridge & Michelle Cox

Just 18 Summers by Rene Gutteridge & Michelle Cox

The death of a young wife and mother takes place before the story begins, but helps prompt four families to realize how precious time with their children is, and how quickly it goes by.  Butch has let his wife Jenny be the primary parent to their daughter Ava, and now that she is gone, he is struggling with single parenthood. Jenny's sister Beth is dealing with the graduation of her middle child and trying to claim some extra time with her oldest while she is home from college.  Daphne has gone a little overboard preparing for the upcoming birth of her first child, to the point where her husband avoids coming home, and Helen and Charles are so busy making sure their kids have everything that they don't see how much they are missing.

During an infant dedication at her church, the author heard her pastor say, "Don't forget--you have just eighteen summers.  Take time to make some memories."  She was at the end of her eighteen summers with her youngest son, and it helped prompt this story.  As a reader and mom looking at the end of my eighteen summers, I expected this story to be emotional, but I didn't expect to laugh so much.  The authors found just the right balance and I highly recommend this book.


Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Witch Doctor's Wife by Tamar Myers

The Witch Doctor's Wife is the first in Tamar Myers's Belgian Congo mystery series. Set in the Belgian Congo shortly before its independence, Amanda, a young missionary lady, flies into a small village placed on either side of a waterfall. She is supposed to learn how to run a missionary guest house so that the previous caretakers can retire. But nothing is that easy.

The story starts with a plane crash and the discovery of a large diamond - not on the same page and not involving the same people. The local witch doctor, whose name is Their Death, has two wives. The first wife is named Cripple. The witch doctor's Baby Boy found the diamond and was using it for a teething toy when his father realized what it was. Due to governmental restrictions, Their Death cannot own or sell the diamond. He tries to sell it through a white contact, but the whole thing falls apart rapidly, and not only for Their Death.

Cripple decides to work for Amanda at the guest house. The housekeeper hired by the previous caretakers is an African man named Protruding Navel. He and Cripple do NOT get along. By the end of the story, Cripple is accused of - and admits to - a murder she did not commit. Amanda has to figure out how to keep Cripple from a death sentence. As for the diamond, its disposition is not told until the epilogue.

This book is different than other Tamar Myers books and is well worth the read.

Kathi Linz

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Forest Night, Forest Bright by Jennifer Ward

Forest Bright,
Forest Night
by Jennifer Ward

A great beginning science, counting, and poetry board book for ages 0-5.  Beautiful, realistic illustrations draw the reader into the secret world of the forest.  So much to learn and explore in this simple board book! Each page features diurnal and nocturnal animals.  Simply turn the book upside down to read about the forest at night. Children will be captivated by the surreal images as they look for the hidden animals and learn about habitats, the food chain, counting, and rhythmic patterns in language.  This is a book parents and children will enjoy sharing together.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Lincoln Myth by Steve Berry

The Lincoln Myth by Steve Berry refers to Lincoln and his interactions with the Mormons who were being hounded from state to state at the time. The issue was secession. The troubles on both side almost unimaginable.

The contemporary story takes a little getting used to as it jumps from one continent to another and from spies  (not C.I.A.) to Mormons to the President. Rowan is a United States senator from Utah who is also next in line to be the prophet of the Latter Day Saints after the current one dies. He is trying to trace a document that will prove it's legal for states to secede from the Union. The President and his agents do everything in their power to prevent that from happening. In the midst of all of this, Rowan's right-hand man Salazar sees visions of an angel who encourages him to kill people. The agents find themselves in one hair-raising situation after another and have to come up with solutions in a matter of seconds.

It's a wild ride figuring out how, or if, it's all going to come out right. And I can't tell you that it has a "happily ever after" ending.


Monday, June 16, 2014

In a Glass Grimmly by Adam Gidwitz

Image of item In a Glass Grimmly by Adam Gidwitz

As delightful as A Tale Dark & Grimm, In a Glass Grimmly is the tale of Jack and Jill and their search for the Seeing Glass. Their journey is chronicled in gruesome detail as they meet with giants, goblins and a giant salamander. There are guts, blood and vomit galore so be forewarned.
There is plenty of humor as well and the children learn a valuable lesson about self-acceptance along the way.


A Pedigree to Die For by Laurien Berenson

Melanie Travis, the single mother of a rambunctious four-year-old son and the niece of a cantankerous old aunt, finds herself visiting dog shows to discover who stole her aunt's champion standard black poodle, Beau. Melanie's uncle died in the kennel on the night Beau was stolen, so she may be on the trail of a murderer as well.

Melanie's knowledge of dog shows and things pertaining to champion dogs would fit into a thimble until her aunt teaches her what she needs to know to ask intelligent questions of other dog breeders.

The trail leads all over the northeastern states as she tracks a number of suspects until she discovers her aunt's dog. But that's actually where the story takes a very unexpected twist. I did not see the ending coming at all. Maybe you will figure it out earlier in the book than I did.

This book is on Overdrive.

Kathi Linz

A Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

Image of item A Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

What a great first novel for Gidwitz. This is the nail-biting, sleep with the lights on version of the fairy tales we all heard as children. The real, more like the Grimm brothers intended, not always happy but lesson at the end stories. Loved the narrator interjecting telling little children to leave the room or the faint at heart to stop reading adding humor and needed breaks from intense scenes. This book follows Hansel and Gretel as they search for better parents - read the book and you'll know why - fighting through decapitation, boiling lava, and a dragon on their quest. 


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent by Veronica Roth is the first book of a trilogy set in a dystopian future. The setting is Chicago which lies next to a marsh that used to be a lake. A fence surrounds the city - and the locks are on the outside of the fence!

Inside are five factions and one group of factionless people. Each faction plays to one personality trait. One is joy and creativity, one bravery, one selflessness, another knowledge, the last honesty. At age 16, each person must choose which faction they want to be in for the rest of their life. They can stay in the faction in which they were raised, or they can choose any other faction. After they choose, they go into training and pass through an initiation.

Beatrice (selfless faction) chooses to become Tris of the Dauntless faction (bravery). The training is intense. She makes both friends and enemies. During her training, she discovers corruption on such a scale that it threatens everything she knows and everyone she loves. She is one of those very few who will be able to do anything about this threat because she has more than one ability - she is divergent.

This book does not close her story. Please see future posts for more of this story.

Kathi Linz