Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Christmas Sisters, book #38

Ahh, sigh.  Started reading Christmas books and decided to knock this one off my Paperwhite list.  I was hoping it was going to be better than the last book --- and indeed it was --- but there were still lots of problems with it.  (I guess I'm just still reveling in my last good book and nothing is coming up to par.)  It was billed to be an eccentric compliation of a crazy funny family and their adventures, and I suppose it was to an extent.  It just seemed to me that the author was trying too hard.  Some parts of the book they were crazy family, some parts they were just normal, and you just never know which way it was going to go.  I will say, though, that Aunt Bert, was consistently my favorite!

I will confess, though, that this is the first in a series and it may be that even though I did not care for the book I may find myself reading the others simply to see what happens to these folks.  Ready to move on ...

Three sisters who only come home for Christmas have always been the talk of their small southern town but this Christmas they are going to start talking back and what they have to say may just change lives, especially their own.
It's beginning to look at lot like Romance in this charming story of an unlikely minister, the woman he loved but left behind, a special child and a town that might finally bring them all home.  (picture and description from amazon)

Happy Reading!


Saturday, November 15, 2014

A broken kind of beautiful, book #37

I shall wait until I confer with my Book Club cohorts before I share my opinion.  I may have missed something altogether here.  It sounded good, but ......

Sometimes everything you ever learned about yourself is wrong
Fashion is a fickle industry, a frightening fact for twenty-four year old model Ivy Clark. Ten years in and she’s learned a sacred truth—appearance is everything. Nobody cares about her broken past as long as she looks beautiful for the camera. This is the only life Ivy knows—so when it starts to unravel, she’ll do anything to hold on. Even if that means moving to the quaint island town of Greenbrier, South Carolina, to be the new face of her stepmother’s bridal wear line—an irony too rich for words, since Ivy is far from the pure bride in white.

If only her tenuous future didn’t rest in the hands of Davis Knight, her mysterious new photographer. Not only did he walk away from the kind of success Ivy longs for to work maintenance at a local church, he treats her differently than any man ever has. Somehow, Davis sees through the fa├žade she works so hard to maintain. He, along with a cast of other characters, challenges everything Ivy has come to believe about beauty and worth. Is it possible that God sees her—a woman stained and broken by the world—yet wants her still? (picture and description at amazon)

Ready to move on to Christmas books!
Happy Reading!


Thursday, November 6, 2014

From this day forward, book #36

Finally, my friends, a book I can really sink my teeth into!!  I mean, any book that starts out like, "March 1816 'We are going to die!' Rachel Gordon's young maid cried out."

Rachel and her maid, Maddy, are headed towards their new home in South Carolina.  Rachel, now estranged from her family in England over her marriage to Tom, who was actually a really bad guy but she didn't know it when she married him, but Tom actually fell overboard the ship on the way over (in a drunken stupor) so now Rachel is alone, and did I mention 8 months pregnant?  Rachel and Maddy are headed toward their glorious new plantation in the middle of this thunderstorm.  All they have to do is make it to the house and it will be warm and cozy, with their servants waiting to attend to their every need.  NOT!!!  

But on the way the horses end up freaking out in the storm, breaking free of the wagon and sending Rachel and Maddy flying while the wagon goes tumbling.  Luckily (as can only happen these books I read!) who should come by but a doctor (Nathan) -- a single man resolved to live the single hermit life because of his trauma and terrors in his earlier life -- and luckily he lives close to get the girls, take them to his cabin, and deliver the baby.  

And that is just part of Chapter One!!  I mean, who does not get fired up about a book like that?!?  Throw in Nathan's grandfather, who practically raised him, who vehemently hates the English for killing his one and only son (Remember the Revolutionary War?) and kicks Nathan and Rachel off his land; George Butler the neighbor who nearly scared the beegeebees out of Rachel but ends up falling in love with Maddy; and, oh yeah, that grand mansion Rachel was going to?  Just a run down farm with most of its land swampy bog ... and comes with a dead body for free!!  

Needless to say, I highly recommend this!!

Penniless, pregnant, and newly widowed immigrant Rachel Gordon doesn’t believe her situation could get any worse… until she meets her new neighbors. Shortly after the War of 1812, Rachel and her husband set out from England for a plantation in South Carolina, which he had purchased sight unseen. However, while en route, Tom Gordon fell overboard and drowned, leaving Rachel, frightened and alone, to make a home for her and her newborn. Can a battle-scarred American physician who comes to her rescue also heal her wounded heart?  (picture and description from amazon)

Happy Reading!!


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Bright New Murder, book #35

Another book, another boring escapade.  Ho hum.  This is what I have learned is classified as Chick Lit, where it is written in first person from a young 20-something girl with typical adventures of that age.  

In this one I had serious trouble trying to figure it out.  There is Jake, who at first I thought lived with Jane (main character) and Gemma (roommate who I thought was Jane's sister but really she is her cousin).  But alas Jake does not, there is a love triangle, a murder she is trying to solve after taking one criminal detective class, and she has a cleaning service on the side? and God is just thrown in there as an afterthought.  Yeah, see how I got lost.  Although I did just realize that this is book #3 in the Plain Jane series, so perhaps if I had read the other ones before it this one might make more sense.
Whatever.  I'm moving on....

Homeless preschoolers, angry protesters, frozen yogurt, and murder. Jane Adler is keen to try on her detective hat, and the dead lady at the Christmas fundraiser is her perfect shot.Timing is everything and this murder was timed perfectly to destroy her best friend Jake's growing Fro-Yo business. He's a great friend--just a friend, honest-- and she owes him a favor or two.But discovering who would want to kill the town’s favorite preschool teacher is messy business, and Jane doesn't have a moment to waste! (picture and description from amazon)

I'm ready to keep reading to find something good again!


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Carson Newman, how I love thee, Alma Mater hail...

Hello, my name is Melissa and I am a Carson Newman history freak.  Let's just be honest and call it what it is.  But can you blame me?  My family has a VERY long attachment there, with graduates spanning the decades from the 1950s to the 2000s.  I tried to make a list in my head of every one of my aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.... but I am sure I missed a few.  The most notable and influential ones being, of course, my mommy and daddy!  

They graduated in 1964, and when I started in 1985 the college was still very similar in many ways to how it was then.  I mean, since that time, the gym was new, Stokely was new, Henderson was on its 3rd round, and Swann had another renovation.  And I'm sure there were other changes also, but they were all physical changes. Many of the professors who were there during the 1960s were still teaching and I loved having that bond with them, like Dr. Turner, Dr. Burts, Dr. Vanaman and others. I was just so excited to be a part of CN history and carry on that tradition.  

One memory I will remember to this day is during freshman orientation.  We were all gathered in Gentry hearing welcoming speeches, etc from the president and others, when dear old Dr. Harley Fite hobbled up the podium.  Now, for those of you who don't know, Dr. Fite was the president while my parents were there and was such an amazing man they named the admin building after him.  Anyhow, I don't remember too much of what he said, but I do remember this.  He was talking about how he claimed as his children the students he had during his tenure as president and how several of us in the audience were the children of those students, thus making us his CN grandchildren.  Me! A CN grandchild of Dr. Harley Fite!! Well, that right there just put me over the edge!!  

Last weekend was my 25th reunion.  I still can't believe it has been 25 years!!  I had the amazing opportunity to bring my children and, bless their hearts, they put up with me and all my stories.  (No eyeballs were permanently damaged, I'm happy to report!) We arrived Friday afternoon in time for a college visit for Rebecca, who could care less about going to CN (breaks my momma heart, but Leah and Katie want to go so there is hope!!) but it was really great to have a guide walk us through campus to see all the changes, all the new stuff and a glimpse of the old.  (And it was good for Rebecca, so we at least have a base to compare other colleges to!)  

Friday night we went to the show, Children of Eden, which was just so amazingly awesome I don't even have words for it. 

Saturday when we got to campus I had all three girls and we walked our little legs off!!  (It really is amazing that despite how "small" CN is, the fact that it is somewhat hilly and the fact that I am now 47 years old, well, let's just say I was pooped!!)  But we took Katie around to the places we went before and went in several buildings and up and down stairs and had a fabulous day! While it was a little bit sad to see all the changes made, making it not as much what it was when I was there, or when my parents were there, it was exciting to see how they blend the old with the new.  While we were there we saw tons of things that were new, but then we would go in a building that had been around, and some things still looked the same.  

So the good news is, despite the fact that it is now a "high and mighty university" it still has the feel of the college I went to.  

OLD: This sign is still in the Baker Building.  It took some hunting but I found it!  When my parents went there, the cafeteria was in this building and as the story goes, the line for food would go down the stairs by this plaque.  (I believe it is downstairs on the North West side)  So, while they were waiting, everyone would rub on the 1 of the 13 in the date, thus wearing out just that letter.  I made my girls do it too!!


NEW:  This right here, my friends, is where the massive card catalog used to be.  As you can see, it has been entirely replaced by computers.  Interesting note: students these days have free printing at the library, 1500 pages a year (or semester, I can't remember!)

OLD: Sweet Sarah Swann is still there, many many many years later.  Interesting and sad note: No one is allowed to go out on the balcony anymore.  I thought someone got in trouble, but apparently the structure and foundation is just too old to support all the craziness that might or might not have happened there.

NEW: Alas, sweet Swann sisters, remember those awesome big rooms on the 2nd and 3rd floors by the top of the stairs?  In the latest renovation, they reconfigured and instead made these huge study areas that stretch across the whole area.  (See how hard those two girls are studying?)  Snazzy leather and soft sofas, table around to study around or write papers, gas fireplaces, aahhh.... Interesting note: I did not find the old typewriter room!  

OLD: Girls still love to have their pictures made in the window on the landing and on the stairs!!

NEW:  See this cool chick in this cool place?  She is hanging out in the new Maples Cafe.  Think Panera and Starbucks combined in the perfect library setting!!  Interesting note:  While the cafeteria is still the popular choice for students to eat, since it is all you can eat with your ID card; your card also entitles you to $100 Eagle Bucks to spend here and at the NEW CHICKFILA on campus!!

OLD and NEW: Carson Newman will ALWAYS have a near and dear place in my heart!!!


Monday, October 27, 2014

Reservations for Two, book #34

Ho hum ... read this one because it was another short one and trying to mark short ones off my list.  I guess it was a pretty good book, but honestly I have never read any books about older people falling in love so it was a bit of a stretch.  And the fact that the lady was very active so it was hard to imagine her being a grandma.  

Oh well, another one down.

Widowers' Maggie O’Brien and Carson Jennings are both on a journey to rediscover who they are. Maggie, an adventurous former pastor’s wife of thirty-nine years, hopes to find closure in the place she and her husband spent their honeymoon. Carson, a retired judge, is living his lifelong dream of traveling across the U.S. in his RV. When their paths cross in the tranquil setting of Mason Springs, New Mexico, love is the last thing that either of them expects to find.
When this mismatched pair comes together they find themselves in some hilarious and even precarious situations. As the romance begins to blossom they face many obstacles that threaten to tear them apart, and what Maggie discovers about herself in New Mexico will redefine her future and alienate one of her children.

Will Carson and Maggie’s love for one another be strong enough to weather the storms or will their love for their children keep them apart?  (picture and description from amazon.)

Keep reading!!


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Bittersweet Bride, book #33

Again, no judging about the cover.  I'm still in a pioneer mood!!!  This was another quick read with less than 200 pages.  I wasn't really sure at first if I was going to like it, but all in all it ended up great!!  Sometimes I got a little confused the way the author was going, or like she missed a chunk of time, or like there wasn't enough emotion in it, but I would still recommend it to those of you who like this setting.

The one suitor Mara Lawton cannot add to her collection is the one she wants most--Clay Stedman. Clay has just arrived in Cedar Springs to work the Stedman ranch. His widowed aunt is leaving to visit family back East, and Clay must find someone to care for his little sister and perform the household chores--like cooking for fourteen cowboys, doing the laundry, and feeding the hogs. Mara offers Clay her services, despite having never cooked a meal, washed a garment, or gone near a hog in her life. Clay is taken with Mara's looks, but a recent heartbreak makes him wary--that and the fact she doesn't share his faith in God. For Mara, whose self-worth is based on her family's wealth and royal lineage, obstacles and reverses create a terrible inner turmoil. Will she cling to her own ways or allow God to move in her life?(picture and descriptions from amazon.)

Happy Reading!