Friday, April 15, 2011

Tea & Read: Always the Baker, Never the Bride

Title: Always the Baker, Never the Bride
Author: Sandra D. Bricker
Rating: One cup of tea
I love to bake. It’s the one thing I enjoy doing in the kitchen since cooking frustrates me. But baking…it’s something I can do all day and go to bed with aching feet. Of course, the baker in me was quite excited when I received my copy of Always the Baker and Never the Bride by Sandra D. Bricker. Any book that starts with a recipe for red velvet cupcakes, one of my favorites to bake and eat, has to be great, right? Unfortunately, the book didn’t turn out as great as I expected. It wasn’t bad, but it missed a few ingredients that would have made it wonderful.

Overall, the premise of the book interested me. A woman running a bakery. But the fact that Emma couldn’t eat her creations made the plot a little unbelievable right from the beginning. As a baker, I know it’s integral to be able to taste what you cook, especially when you’re creating specialty cakes like Emma was. I found myself doubting her ability to be as successful as she was without being about to taste what she baked. Another issue was that the author made it clear that Emma couldn’t eat any the cakes. As a person with diabetic family members, I know they can eat more sugar than Emma could. I didn’t understand why she couldn’t have any of her sweets.

Another missing element was actually romance. Emma’s love interest, widower Jackson Drake, is clearly still in love with his dead wife. He was almost too obsessed to with his wife that I had a hard time believing that he could love Emma. And I wanted him to love Emma. Their journey to love was a little unbelievable to me. Like he got over his dead wife overnight after months of mourning her.
But there is one ingredient that I though there was too much of: sermonizing. For some reason, the Jesus references were unrealistic. I am a woman of prayer and I love Jesus with all my heart, but most of the times when characters in the book prayed, it came off unnatural and forced. Again, I wanted them to pray, but some of the situations that motivated them to pray had me skipping pages.

This book had great potential, even to the point that I would read another one of Bricker’s books. But this one not only left me craving sweets, but craving a better ending to the book.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Tea & Read: Masquerade

Title: Masquerade
Author: Nancy Moser
Rating: One cup of tea
This was the first book I read by Nancy Moser. I have been looking forward to reading one of her books and was excited about reading Masquerade. Unfortunately, the book wasn’t as quick a read as I thought it would be.

It is the story of Charlotte Gleason, an English girl sent to America with her maid, Dora. She is to marry on of the wealthiest heirs but a man she’s never met. She decides to switch places with Dora, and in essence trading lives. It’s a “Prince and the Pauper” type story.

I think my biggest problem with the story was that I didn’t like Charlotte from the beginning. Of course, the fact that Charlotte is a spoiled brat provides a good character arc. Moser puts Charlotte in a perfect situation to change and make a drastic change. Unfortunately, by the time Charlotte starts to change, I’d lost interest in her story. Dora, on the other hand, drew my attention more than Charlotte.  

The writing technique was good. Moser gives great description of sea voyage and the clothing of the time. The pacing of the book, however, was slow. It took me several weeks to finish this book. I found myself putting the book away when it got slow. But I must admit that I’m glad that I finished the book. The ending was believing and plausible.

I would definitely read another book by Moser.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Fav Facebook Friday: The Story Behind the Post

April 4, 2011-"There are just some things you can't learn to do from a Youtube video. On my way to take my son to the barbershop. Bad mommy."

Another unfortunate side effect of my husband’s deployment.

In my household, we have roles. Not traditional roles (I don’t cook but my husband does), but roles none the less. One of my husband’s roles was making sure my sons got haircuts. A logical role for him since he needed to keep his hair cut, too.

Of course, once he left, that role fell to me. So you can imagine my shock when I discovered that the barbershop my husband used was almost 40 minutes away from my house. And I decided that I wasn’t going to drive that far.

So I set out to find a barbershop closer to my house. I told my older son to the barbershop on base, but that is still 25 minutes away. Still too far. But then I started thinking…what’s closer than home? What if I cut my sons’ hair?

One big problem. I don’t know how to cut hair. And that was the beginning of my faulty plan. The second problem with my faulty plan was that I thought I could learn how to cut hair through Youtube videos.

I mean, why not? I’ve learned some many other things from Youtube. I’ve learned some advanced knitting stitches, learned how to juggle (even though I haven’t mastered it). I’ve even searched music for my children to learn to play. Why not, right?

 Well, I am proud to report that you cannot learn how to cut hair from a Youtube video. Not even a great Youtube video. My attempt was horrible and traumatic for my ten year old. Thank God it was an easy fix.

Valuable lesson learned. At least I can laugh about it now.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Tea & Read: Hatteras Girl

Title: Hatteras Girl
Author: Alice J. Wisler
Rating: Spend the Day Sleepy

When I read the synopsis for Hatteras Girl, I was hooked. But I must admit that the story wasn’t what initially drew me in. It was the beach. The story is set in Outer Banks, NC. Each year, my sisters and I visit the Outer Banks and I am 100% a beach girl. I was very excited to read this book, and it didn’t disappoint.

This book spoke to me on so many levels. It is the story of Jackie Donovan, a woman who lives in Outer Banks and has one dream: to own Bailey House, a bed and breakfast. She believes that God is opening the door for her dream to come true through a series of events, including her meeting Davis Erickson, the owner of the Bailey House. Secrets, however, surrounding the property threaten to end her dream.

I loved this book. Wisler perfectly captured the relaxing tone of the Outer Banks. I must admit I saw a little bit of myself in Jackie. Owning a bed and breakfast is one my dreams, even if it’s a bit of a big dream. I identified with Jackie’s love for the Outer Banks. I also loved Jackie’s whimsical attitude and her hats. Again, I saw myself in Jackie.

The plot of the book also had the feel of a relaxing day on the beach. It doesn’t drag, but Wisler definitely spins a wonderfully engaging tale. The supporting characters also add another layer pleasing layer to the story. Wisler artfully uses the tension between Jackie and her family as a engaging conflict.

This book is perfect for reading on the beach. Trust me I know.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Tea & Read: Flight of Shadows

Title: Flight of Shadows
Author: Sigmund Brouwer
Rating: Glad I got it free (1 star)

I read my first Sigmond Brouwer book, Crown of Thorns a couple of years ago (I read it during my Summer Reading Challenge  2009). Crown of Thorns was interesting enough. Brouwer’s writing style was what drew me in. The book wasn’t particularly “Christian.” Although it dealt with Christian themes, its biggest selling point for me was that it was clean (no sex or profanity).
So when I got the opportunity to read another one of Brouwer’s books, I was quite excited. Unfortunately, the book did not live up to my excitement. First I want to confess that I didn’t finish the book. There was profanity in the book and that is an instant turn off for me, especially when a book is published by a Christian publishing line.

The novel caught my attention. It is the story Caitlyn Brown, a genetically altered girl living in a futuristic America. Again, the story hooked me. From the small amount that I did read, Brouwer nailed the gritty feel of crime-ridden city. And although it’s set in an alternate reality, it wasn’t hard to transition into the classism portrayed in the opening pages. I wanted to know what happened to Caitlyn, but not enough to read profanity.

Now I am not so high and mighty my world is without profanity. I hear in public and occasionally on TV. But I make a point that my pleasure reading, things I choose to read for entertainment, is profanity-free. Furthermore, I don’t understand why Christian fiction needs profanity. The argument is always that it makes the story more real. I don’t think so. It’s a deal-breaker for me.

I think someone who doesn’t mind reading profanity and enjoys stories set in futuristic settings may enjoy this book, but it wasn’t for me.

 BookSneeze® has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy.