Driving Miss Norma by Tim Bauerschmidt, Ramie Liddle

Title: Driving Miss Norma: One Family’s Journey Saying “Yes” to Living
Author:
Tim Bauerschmidt, Ramie Liddle
Rating:
4/5
Release Date: 
May, 2017

Description from Goodreads: When Miss Norma was diagnosed with uterine cancer, she was advised to undergo surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. But instead of confining herself to a hospital bed for what could be her last stay, Norma—newly widowed after nearly seven decades of marriage—rose to her full height of five feet and told her doctor, “I’m ninety years old. I’m hitting the road.”

Packing what she needed, Norma took off on an unforgettable cross-country journey with three professional nomads—her retired son Tim, his wife Ramie, and their Standard Poodle Ringo—in a thirty-six-foot RV. Driving Miss Norma is the charming, infectiously joyous chronicle of their experiences on the road—a transformative journey of living life on your own terms that shows us that it is never too late to begin an adventure, inspire hope, or become a trailblazer.

As this once timid woman says “yes” to living in the face of death, she tries regional foods for the first time, zip-lines through a former stranger’s yard, and reaches for the clouds in a hot air balloon. With each passing mile (and one educational visit to a cannabis dispensary), Miss Norma’s health improves and conversations that had once been taboo begin to unfold. Norma, Tim, and Ramie bond in ways they had never done before, and their definitions of home, family, and friendship expand. Stop by stop, state by state, they meet countless people from all walks of life— strangers who become fast friends and welcome them with kindness and open hearts.

Infused with this irrepressible nonagenarian’s wisdom, courage, and generous spirit, and filled with sixteen pages of color photographs, Driving Miss Norma reminds us that life is beautiful and precious, and that family, fun, and self-discovery can happen at any age.”

Review: This is a very inspirational and interesting story. I hadn’t’ followed the journey of “Miss Norma” when it was happening, I don’t watch the news much so I didn’t see any of the stories, but after reading this I had to go back and look up all the reports about them. They really were an inspiration for so many people, and this adorable little lady was so full of life!

 

Reading about the different places they visited reminded me of my vacations to those locations and gave me wonderful new ideas of places I would like to go. Norma being basically up for anything was a great reminder that when we focus so much on our plans, we set ourselves up to miss so many wonderful opportunities. Why do we always feel the need to plan our lives so much? If we would just let go sometimes, I think we would experience so much more of this life than we do.

 

This was heartwarming, inspiring, and hilarious. I loved their sense of humor, even in the face of some heartbreaking experiences. This was also completely honest; they shared their fears and their reservations about taking Norma on this cross country journey and everything felt very authentic and real. They never seemed to hide how they were feeling at the time, even if it might look bad to the public, I imagine most of us would feel the exact same way they did if we were doing this same thing. It takes a lot of courage and strength to give up your normal way of life and give it over to someone else, and to add care giving for an elderly cancer patient, they have the right to be nervous at times.

 

I loved the way others responded to their journey and how much it inspired other’s to take vacations with their families as well. Sometimes all we need is a little nudge to enjoy life again. I would recommend this book to anyone!

 

*I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher. A positive review was not required. All opinions are my own.*

Back in the Saddle by Ruth Logan Herne- Review

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Title: Back in the Saddle 
Author: 
Ruth Logan Herne
Rating:
5/5
Release Date: 
March 15, 2017

Description from Goodreads: It’s been a long time since Colt Stafford shrugged off his cowboy legacy for shiny Manhattan loafers and a promising career on Wall Street. But when stock market manipulations leave him financially strapped, the oldest son of legendary rancher Sam Stafford decides to return to the sprawling Double S ranch in Gray’s Glen, Washington. He’s broke, but not broken, and it’s time to check in with his ailing father, and get his legs back under him by climbing into the saddle again.

He doesn’t expect to come home to a stranger pointing a loaded gun at his chest— a tough yet beautiful woman that Sam hired as the house manager. Colt senses there’s more to Angelina Morales than meets the eye and he’s determined to find out what she’s hiding…and why.

Colt’s return brings new challenges. Younger brother Nick has been Sam’s right-hand man at the ranch for years and isn’t thrilled at having Colt insert himself into Double S affairs. And the ranch’s contentious relationship with the citizens of Gray’s Glen asks all the Stafford men to examine their hearts about what it truly means to be a neighbor.  And as Wall Street recovers, will Colt succumb to the call of the financial district’s wealth and power—or finally the courage to stay in the saddle for good?”

Review: This book is truly amazing. I fell in love from the beginning and was not ready for this story to end. I am glad there are at least two other books in this series, otherwise my book hangover would last far longer.

The romance was wonderfully written and I loved watching them fall for each other even though they were both trying so hard to fight it. I loved the way faith was an iatrical part of this story but it, along with the romance was weaved through organically and beautifully. There wasn’t ever a time when either one felt cheesy or forced, they just flowed.

I was able to easily relate to the characters and I love that they are all down on their luck and trying their best to be better. Their steady improvement and the way they begin to forgive, makes this not only an interesting read, but inspiring as well. We could all use a reminder of the importance of forgiveness once in a while.

The children brought about an interesting and wonderfully innocent perspective on this story. We don’t often notice the pain we cause children by holding grudges and being selfish, but this story brought it all out and shone a bright light on it. You can see the damage done to each of these sweet little one’s by the different problems their parents had.

The setting for this book was fabulous, I love the thought of living on a ranch out west and this book allowed me to visit, even if it was for too short of a time. The small town life also drew me in and the way these people cared about each other, or at least began to again. I’m such a sucker for small town books, but they leave me feeling so warm and fuzzy.

Recommendation: I would recommend this book to anyone who loves romances, small towns, ranches with cute cowboys, or Christian fiction. This wonderful book has them all!

*I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher. A positive review was not required. All opinions are my own.*

 

 

 

Just Life by Neil Abramson-Review

Title: Just Life
Author: 
Neil Abramson
Rating: 
2/5
Release Date: 
5/10/16

Description from Goodreads: From Neil Abramson, the acclaimed author of Unsaid, comes a riveting novel that explores the complex connection between humans and animals.

Veterinarian Samantha Lewis and her team are dedicated to providing a sanctuary for unwanted, abused, and abandoned dogs in New York City. But every day it gets harder to operate her no-kill shelter. Sam is already at her breaking point when she learns of an unidentified, dangerous virus spreading through their neighborhood. The medical community can only determine that animals are the carriers. Amid growing panic and a demand for immediate answers, suspicion abruptly falls on dogs as the source. Soon the governor is calling in the National Guard to enforce a quarantine — no dog may leave the area.

Samantha knows from her own painful history that, despite the lack of real evidence against the dogs, a quarantine may only be the beginning. As questions about the source of the virus mount and clash with the pressure for a politically expedient resolution, Sam is forced to make life-altering choices. She finds allies in a motley crew of New Yorkers — a local priest, a troubled teen, a smart-mouthed former psychologist, and a cop desperate to do the right thing — all looking for sanctuary from their own personal demons. But the person Sam needs the most to unravel the mystery of the virus and save the dogs is the last one she’d ever want to call on — because contacting him will mean confronting the traumatic past she has fought so hard to escape.”

Review: This is a good book and it was easy to be drawn into it, I read half the book in less than 24 hrs, however, this book is advertised to be recommended for dog lovers. I am a major dog/animal lover and have a tender heart and I sobbed through so much of this book that I had to put it away for a while. I don’t know if I will even be able to finish this book. I read ahead to the end to make sure that it ended ok, and it sounds like it will, but after sobbing uncontrollably at least 3 times before reached half way, I cannot endure more of it, at least not right now.

Many reviews say this is a really good book, and it was so far, but for tender hearted dog lovers, this can be emotional turmoil. I love happy books and is definitely not one. If you are unable to read about dogs in pain, and can literally feel it in every bone of your body like I can, this may not be the book for you. In this book you will read about dogs who have been viciously abused, dogs that are euthanized due to being in a shelter too long, and dogs who only want someone to love them, and the pain that goes with it. There is death of dogs, too many for me to endure, and pain and torture described throughout this book. None of which is endorsed of course, but it goes with the territory of this type of book. I fear I will never be able to get the images from this book out of my head.

 Recommendation: I would be very hesitant to recommend this book. Be sure that you are strong enough to deal with all of these painful experiences before you pick up this book. My husband has currently taken away my book after my third sobbing and annoying my dog with my crying and cuddling while he is trying to sleep. If you decide to pick up this book, good luck, and grab at least 1 box of Kleenex, you’ll need it.

 

*I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher. A positive review was not required. All opinions are my own.*

 

Claiming Noah by Amanda Ortlepp- Review

Title: Claiming Noah
Author:
 Amanda Ortlepp
Rating: 
5/5
Release Date: 4
/4/2016 

Description from Goodreads: This riveting debut novel of psychological suspense explores the dilemmas that arise when motherhood and science collide. 

Catriona Sinclair has always had a well-developed sense of independence–in fact the one sore point in her otherwise happy marriage is her husband James’s desire to take care of her. As she’s often tried to explain to him, she took care of herself before she met him, and did a good job of it. But James has been especially attentive lately as they struggle to have a baby. They succeed at last through in vitro fertilization, but unwilling to risk the heartbreak of another miscarriage, they decide to make their “spare” frozen embryo available to another family. 

Diana and Liam Simmons are desperate for a child. Unable to conceive, they are overjoyed to learn that as the closest genetic match to the Sinclairs they are the recipients of the embryo donation. Diana’s only concern is her mother’s disapproval of IVF, but any doubts raised are quickly eclipsed by Diana’s joy of being pregnant. 

As Diana is finding delight in every aspect of motherhood, Catriona keeps waiting for the rush of adoration she knows she is supposed to feel, but instead slips into a deep depression. Just as Catriona begins to find her way back to normalcy, one of the babies is kidnapped. Suddenly, all of their lives begin to unravel and intertwine, and none of them will ever be the same.”

Review: This was a really interesting book. I was drawn into the world of infertility, joys and pains of motherhood, the way it affects everyone differently, and crumbling marriages right away. This is a world fortunately for me, is unfamiliar (at least so far, knock on wood) and was very intriguing for me.

This story was heart wrenching and suspenseful at times and I didn’t want to put it down. It really made me stop and think about how I would react and handle the different situations these women found themselves in. I cannot imagine going through what either of these women endured!

Recommendation: Overall, this was a very interesting and great book. I would recommend this to most anyone.

*I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher. A positive review was not required. All opinions are my own.*

 

 

God Loves Daddy and Me by Bonnie Ricker Jensen-Review

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Title: God Loves Daddy and Me

Author: Bonnie Ricker Jensen

Rating: 5/5

Release Date: March 28, 2017

Description from Goodreads: God loves Daddy and me, He listens when we pray, When we tell Him “Thank You,” it’s the best part of our day!

Cuddle up cozy-close with an adorable reminder of God’s love for daddies and their little ones. Celebrating loving fathers, precious children, and the God who loves them all, God Loves Daddy and Me will remind parents and little ones of how much they are loved.”

Review: I ordered this book as a surprise for my husband for a special thing for him and our son. It is perfect and he loved it! It was nice to have a book that is just for the two of them and not a book that I will read to our son. It’s just for them.

This is such an adorable little board book. I loved the special relationship between the father and son in this book. There is something so special about that relationship and I love that this book gives a wonderful opportunity for daddy and child reading and bonding time. This is an extraordinary book for the two of them.

The illustrations in this book are super adorable and perfect for little eyes. They are captivating for children and follow the story nicely. Since this is a board book, your child can reach out and touch the pictures without worrying about dirty fingers or ripping pages.

Recommendation: I would recommend this book for any father and son. It could work for a father and daughter, but not as well. I love this little book!

 

*I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher. A positive review was not required. All opinions are my own.*

Treasured Grace by Tracie Peterson- Review

9780764213274

Title: Treasured Grace

Author: Tracie Peterson

Rating: 4/5

Release Date: February 28, 2017

 Description from Goodreads: “Grace Martindale has known more than her share of hardship. After her parents died, raising her two younger sisters became her responsibility. A hasty marriage to a minister who is heading to the untamed West seemed like an opportunity for a fresh start, but a cholera outbreak along the wagon trail has left Grace a widow in a very precarious position.

Having learned natural remedies and midwifery from her mother, Grace seeks an opportunity to use her skills for the benefit of others. So when she and her sisters arrive at the Whitman mission in “Oregon Country,” she decides to stay rather than push on.

With the help of Alex Armistead, a French-American fur trapper, Grace begins to provide care for her neighbors, including some of the native populace. But not everyone welcomes her skills–or her presence–and soon Grace finds herself and those she loves in more danger than she imagined possible.”

 Review: Lately I have stated to really enjoy historical fiction/historical romances and it is due to amazing books like this one. I was drawn into this world of the mid 1800’s and the quest for land west. The conflicts with the Native American tribes brought out the drama and suspense of the time period.

The romance between Alex and Grace was organic and developed over time. I loved the conflicting emotions they both endured and since both of them had separate obligations, there was the wonderful build up that we all love in our romance novels. The flow  of the romance was perfect for this book and the push and pull of their desires was flawless.

The characters were so easy to love and to empathize with. I cannot imagine living in that time and experiencing all those people went through everyday. The pain, sickness, and death they all had to endure was heartbreaking.

The differences in the Native American’s viewpoints between tribes were interesting and seem realistic. Often we get the view of either angry Natives or peaceful natives; this gave the chance to see both and how that affected each of them as well as the whites who were moving onto their land.

At times some of the dialogue was a bit cheesy but for the most part this was a really great book and something I would definitely read again. I am excited that this is the start of a new series; I cannot wait to read more about these people and this new town!

Recommendation: I would recommend this book for anyone who loves historical romances.

 Read an excerpt here: http://cdn.bakerpublishinggroup.com/processed/book-resources/files/Excerpt_9780764213274.pdf?1482432278

 

*I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher. A positive review was not required. All opinions are my own.*

 

 

 

Open When: Letters to Lift Your Spirits by Karen Salmansohn- Review

9781607749646

Title: Open When: Letters to Lift Your Spirits

Author: Karen Salmansohn

Rating: 4/5

Release Date: March 7, 2017

Description from Goodreads: “Happiness expert Karen Salmansohn presents a unique interactive book that invites readers to literally open letters of encouragement, wit, and wisdom whenever they need a boost.
Inspired by the trend of “open when” letters sweeping the nation, Instant Happy author Karen Salmansohn has created a bound collection of 12 notes for readers to flip open whenever they need a pep talk. With categories like “Open when you need a laugh,” “Open when you’re feeling stressed out,” and “Open when you need courage,” these little happiness-boosters are based on Salmansohn’s viral posters that combine witty sayings with colorful graphics.”

Review: This book is wonderful for a quick laugh. When you are feeling down or just need a laugh, these quick letters are perfect to help you feel better. The humor and practical advice will help tremendously, even if it is goofy advice at times. What better way to improve your mood?!

I will admit, I wasn’t sure if I would like this book or not. This is completely different than any book I have, but I am really impressed with it. Simply using positive affirmation to improve your mood is so helpful. This isn’t full of world changing advice, it’s simple practical letters to help you through your difficult situation.

This isn’t a world changing book, but the advice in this book could really change the way you react to stressful or bad situations. They say that “life is 10 what happens and 90 how you react to it” so why not try to give a positive reaction to it? This book can help.

Recommendation: I would recommend this book to anyone! It says in the first letter of this book that even positive people can bad days; therefore, even optimistic people could use some positive letters sometimes. In a world filled with negativity and darkness, everyone could use a little reminder to think positive!

*I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher. A positive review was not required. All opinions are my own.*