Archive for February, 2010


By Carol Hanrahan

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Baling-Carol-Hanrahan/dp/1442168374

It was a snowy weekend in my little corner of the world, and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend it than reading a story about long, lazy summer days in the country. “Baling” by Carol Hanrahan is a delightful coming of age story that chronicles one magical summer in the lives of two teenaged boys.

When Nick and his younger brother, John, find out they have to spend the summer at their Aunt Jess’ farm, helping out with the baling, they are not exactly overjoyed at the prospect. Especially Nick, the older of the two, who’d planned to spend his vacation watching movies, visiting Six Flags Theme Parks, and mostly, attending driving classes in the hope of obtaining his license. Nevertheless, they have little choice except to go along with the plan. From the day they arrive on the farm, life becomes one adventure after another, and they discover that a summer in the country may not be as dull as they’d first imagined. When the boys come across an old Civil War jacket and a packet of letters hidden away in their Aunt’s attic, they team up with Lainey Wallace, the beautiful neighbor girl, and go in search of hidden treasure. In the process, they encounter danger and uncover a family secret, and seventeen-year-old Nick discovers the magic of falling in love.

I really enjoyed this story. The author has a lovely talent for describing the joy of country living. Indeed, the writing was so vivid I could almost smell Aunt Jess’ chocolate cake baking in the oven, see the beauty of the starry night sky, and feel the soft whisper of the summer breeze. The story was very well paced, with a nice balance of action-packed scenes to keep the pages turning, and plenty of quiet moments where I could pause to savor the beauty of the landscape. The story is strong on family values, and is a refreshing reminder of life’s simple pleasures.

The storytelling was lovely, the plot, interesting, and the characters, likeable (if a bit underdeveloped.) All of this added up to a wonderful reading experience. I recommend “Baling” to anyone who enjoys heartwarming stories of life in the country.


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One To Grow On: The Orange Collection

Kid’s Audio Stories

By Trenna Daniells

Website: www.kids-audio-stories.com

2 CD’s – Four full-length stories


Courage and Confidence:

Living in the dark, damp swampland of Twoid, Egar risks journeying to a strange new land with the hopes of saving his best friend, Arrow. His encounters with the Twill people opens his mind to a brand new world.

You Can Make a Difference:

Elon and Nefre live in a domed city with an artificial indoor environment. Elon’s curiosity leads them far away from their home planet Phatos and into a risky adventure.

Honesty and Positive Thinking:

Lily’s jealousies over a friend’s pony lead her into a stolen midnight ride. After her dishonesty, she wonders if she will ever be able to make things right again and have a pony of her own.

Turning Problems Into Opportunities:

With the help of Wish the dog, Aaron tackles a bunch of problems. Whether he finds himself over his head in lemons or up to his knees in turtles, the two take on everything.

There isn’t anything I cherish more than the memories of bedtime stories from my own childhood and the times I’d snuggle up with my own children at bedtime to read their favorite books, make up stories, or tell the old fairytales. These are precious moments for both children and parents.

The problem arises when kids believe story time should encompass at least twelve hours of the day like mine did. They were story fanatics. It didn’t matter if it was some silly thing I made up or a book. They just loved stories. And for busy working parents this can be impossible. I remember the first time I found a storybook/tape combo for my oldest child and he wore the thing out, listening to it and reading along over and over. He still wanted Mommy’s bedtime stories, but this was a true blessing for the daytime/evening hours when I was just too busy to sit down and read. After I realized how much my kids loved these audio stories—I looked for and purchased everyone I thought they’d enjoy.

When I received this audio collection by Trenna Daniells, I was a little worried because there were no accompanying books. Without the books, I wasn’t sure how younger kids would take to them. They’re recommended for kids 4-12. I needn’t have worried; with or without books these stories are highly entertaining. To my surprise, I enjoyed listening to them myself and for the most part, the kids took great pleasure in listening to them. One child who’d just turned four seemed a little restless while listening and I think a book with pictures would have helped him enjoy them more. While all children are individuals with their own likes and dislikes, I feel most will love this collection.

The stories are well written and encourages a child’s imagination, self esteem, taking responsibility, acceptance, and other life lessons while being entertained. They’re beautifully read with music and sound effects, which greatly enhances the listening experience.

If you love reading to your child, but find yourself too exhausted at times to face reading a story, these audio stories will be great. Curl up with you kids, listen with them and then have a short discussion about the story before that final kiss and lights out. And since these are audio, the kids can enjoy them on their own when you’re busy.

There are many children’s audio collections out there, but I highly recommend the One To Grow On series by Trenna Daniells for great listening satisfaction and the timeless values they teach.




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In no particular order–books coming up for review:

BALING by Carol Hanrahan

ONE TO GROW ON (children’s audio series) by Trenna Daniells

FOR BETTER OR WORSE by Mark Lichterman




LOVE’S ROAD HOME by Lisa Lewis

THYME IN A FLASK by Glen Quarry

LADY IN BLACK by Craig Lynn Clyde

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Becoming: A Chronicle of Metamorphosis

By Mark Lichterman

Metropolis Ink (June 15, 2008)  

Amazon Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Becoming-Mark-Lichterman/dp/0646492160

“Do you remember your radio and “Captain Midnight,” “The Lone Ranger,” “Junior Miss” and “Let’s Pretend”? The first time you inhaled a cigarette? Your first swallow of hard liquor? The thrill of the first exploration of the body of your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife… your own body? Your first orgasm? Remember when as a people we loved America, and showed it? Then you might be ready for a nostalgic, funny, romantic, sexually frustrating novel. A novel that may remind many of us of ourselves, “way back then,” when God’s most mysterious creation was the opposite sex. A novel about life and the often funny, sometimes sad, day-to-day things that stir the memories of our lives…”

The above is a quote from the blurb for Mark Lichterman’s Becoming and I put it there because it so aptly describes the novel. When I decided to review this book, I was worried because number one, I rarely have time to sit down and read a book as long as this one and two, because I stupidly felt I’d never be able to connect with anything in it. I’m female, Christian, grew up in the country, and the time period was before my time. I was wrong, wrong, wrong! The subject matter is timeless, the characters so genuine they jump from the pages and into your heart, and being the mother of boys—I could even relate to the male point of view.

The story begins in 1939 on Chicago’s eastside and follows five-year-old Mitchie for the next seventeen years of his life. A true coming of age story told in graphic detail. And the humor—did I mention the humor? I found myself laughing out loud many times. I especially loved when the humor came at a time when it was totally unexpected, the way it is in ‘real life’. I can’t say all I’d like to say about the book because it needs to be experienced first hand and I don’t want to spoil that experience for the reader by saying too much.

Mr. Lichterman is a talented storyteller with a beautifully unique writing style and strong voice. His characters are delightfully flawed, giving them an unsurpassed charm and authentic quality. Becoming transcends all gender, ethnic, and geographical backgrounds, so no matter where you’re coming from, if you love truly great coming of age stories, give this one a try.

My one complaint is I felt the book ended too soon. Yes, even at 736 pages, I was sad when reading that last page and know these characters will be with me for a long time.



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Executive Lunch

Maria E. Schneider

Kindle Book

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002M3FL16

Nov 9, 2009

Author Blog: www.BearMountainBooks.com

Sedona O’Hala is an ordinary gal making a living working for a successful but ordinary computer company called Strandfrost. She works in a testing lab, reviewing software, testing computer programs and leading a non-glamorous life. After outwitting three thugs that tried to attack her and a coworker she gets the attention of the corporate board and thus blunders into an undercover assignment. In one jump she goes from a lab worker struggling paycheck to paycheck to a ladder climbing company executive. With this new assignment she is given the chance to live every girl’s dream. She is set up in a luxury apartment with a new wardrobe and a fancy car. She can have what she wants and it’s all paid for. Does it sound too good to be true??? Nothing comes without a price – right? The new lifestyle won’t last forever and while living it she has to try and figure out who is dipping into company funds. She is hired to find out who is stealing from the company and she must find out before the criminals realize anyone is onto them or that their secret computer program is being debugged.

Sedona vows to play her part convincingly as she tries to get information on missing computer equipment and hacked programs. She isn’t always sure if she is dealing with company insiders embezzling money or serious criminals after something more. If she fails, she could lose her job or maybe even her life. While solving one puzzle, others crop up. For a time there seems to be danger and betrayal all around. In the end there is more than one crime to solve and Sedona finds herself in a few dangerous situations.  Along with the danger comes a hint of romance, strengthened friendships, family secrets and personal growth. The author shares ups and downs, frustrations and humor as she describes the escapades of Sedona’s double life. 

To be honest, I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy this book by self-published author Maria E. Schneider. I work from home and I’ve never been in the corporate world. Mysteries aren’t my favorite genre and I’ve never been much into sleuth capers. So, why did I even decide to read this book? I took a peek at Maria’s blog and online postings at bearmountainbooks.com. After a little reading there I felt like I knew her and wanted to give her book a chance. She is down to earth and realistic. She isn’t expecting her works to be on Oprah’s next book list but rather is writing for the enjoyment it brings to her. She wants to share stories to bring enjoyment to others. I felt that was worth giving her book a read.  It took me a few chapters to settle in and enjoy the characters. The opening scene put me in the middle of drama and action before I knew who the characters were. However, as the book went along and I got to know the characters I enjoyed the mystery solving and appreciated the opening scene more.

There are several characters readers will like and some they will despise. While a few scenes were a bit of a stretch for me and a few dragged along, overall the author presented a believable corporate setting with realistic office banter and a touch of corruption that can seep into any company.  Sedona is witty, smart, and seemingly fearless in the face of danger. The author did a nice job tying up the loose ends in Executive Lunch while leaving open many possibilities for new story lines with this leading lady should she choose to write a sequel.

This is an inexpensive, lighthearted, action filled story that I recommend if you like mystery, humor, and believable characters. As you read you will be given bits of information along the mystery-solving trail. You may think you know whodunit or what is coming next but then again, you may just be surprised.


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