Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Unsinkable Giveaway & Blog Tour Announcement

Next month I'll be participating in the Litfuse blog tour of By the Light of the Silvery Moon. But before I post my thoughts on this novel set on the Titanic, I want to let my readers know about a super giveaway opportunity in association with this tour.  Be sure to stop by the Sweepstakes page detailed below and enter to win.  There's quite a nice prize package being given away! And check out all of the tour stops for this timely Christian novel.

Celebrate the release of By the Light of the Silvery Moon with Tricia by entering her giveaway and RSVPing to her Titanic party.
  One "unsinkable" winner will receive:

  • Flip HD video Camera (Make your own dramatic saga!)
  • Titanic movies from the ages {Titanic (1953) Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964), Titanic (1997)}
  • Secrets of the Titanic (Get the facts from National Geographic.)
  • And the Band Played On (Music Played on the Titanic.)
  • By the Light of the Silvery Moon by Tricia Goyer (Be swept away in this tale of love and courage.)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 9th!

Winner will be announced at "Silvery Moon" Titanic Facebook Party on 4/10. Tricia will be hosting an author chat (on Facebook and Live from her website) and giving away books, gift certificates and a book club prize pack! (Ten copies of the book for your small group or book club). During the live chat Tricia will have a *special guest* join her. More details coming soon!

So grab your copy of By the Light of the Silvery Moon and join Tricia on the evening of the April 10th for a fun chat, trivia contest (How much do you know about the Titanic?) and lots of giveaways. 

Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 10th!

Here are the tour participants:

Blossom at North Laurel Home & School

Sarah at Mommy's Minute
Jessica at A New Leaf 

Brenda at WV Stitcher
Alicia at Surrendering all of me
Heidi at Starts At Eight Http://
Fran at Books and Beyond

Karla at Ramblin' Roads
Julie at More of Him
Tammi at Our Homeschooling Pilgrimage
Cass at Shadow Kisses Book Reviews

Susan at In This Together
kimberly at Saving More Than Me
Lena at A Christian Writer's World
Lori at Morning Glories and Moonflowers
Tracye at A Heart Poured Out

Theresa at Just One More Paragraph
Stephanie's at Mommy Brain
Danielle at The Happy Wife

Vic's Media Room
Michele at My Blessings From Above
Crystal at Just Another Book Lovin' Girl
Shari at The Knit Wit by Shair

Jeremy at Christian Fiction Addiction
Ruth at My Devotional Thoughts
Nancy at Bookfoolery and Babble


Kaylea at  My Scrappy Life
Aizess at Christian Book Review Blog
Lindsay at Live To Read ~Krystal

Jasmine at the bookish mama
Whitney Rambles of a SAHM
Kate at Books, Baking & Beyond
Lisa at A Casual Reader's Blog
Heather at Proud Book Nerd

Katie at Legacy of a Writer
Lauri at Knits, Reads and Reviews
Brooke at I Blog 4 books
Pamela at Daysong Reflections Http://
Joan at Book Reviews from an Avid Reader

Faith at Labor not in vain
Marg at Simply Shop and Save
Stephanie at A Cooking Bookworm
Linda's Lunacy

Kristinia at Loving Heart Mommy
Becky at Christian Chick's Thoughts
Melanie at A Year of Jubilee Reviews

Sheri at The Shades of Pink
Amanda at Sisters In Cahoots!
Tammy at Bluerose's Heart
JHS at Colloquium
Kelli at The Zen of Motherhood


Kat at Reviews From The Heart
Betsy Ann - Writer at Large
Jen at Happy Little Homemaker
Mandie at Taking Time for Mommy

Michelle at Life in Review
Britni at Book nook club Http://
Stephanie-jean Life: SemiCrunchy
Suzanne at Cows and Lasers and Everything in Between
Amber at Living at the Whitehead's Zoo
Ariel at The Librarian's Bookshelf
Laura at The Calico Critic

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Book Review - The Three Colonels by Jack Caldwell

Love reigns supreme for Colonels Buford, Fitzwilliam, and Brandon as our brave fighting men are enjoying their courtships and early married lives with three beloved Austen heroines. The couples lead tranquil lives - until Napoleon escapes from exile.

As the colonels set out to meet their destiny on the fields of Waterloo, Anne, Caroline, and Marianne defend their hearts against the fear of losing their loved ones forever.

From the serenity of Regency England to the scandal and intrigue of the Congress of Vienna, three gentlemen live, love, fight, and defend their country from Napoleon's voracious ambition.

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Last year I highly enjoyed Jack Caldwell’s Pemberley Ranch, a sort of Pride and Prejudice-Old South mash up.  It was an unexpected combination, and I was surprised at how much I liked it.  So it was with an open mind and anticipatory heart that I came to read The Three Colonels, Caldwell’s latest work.

Once again Jack has an interesting premise for an Austenesque novel. He’s derived characters from mulitiple Jane Austen works and time periods to abide in one plane of existence.  Some of the main characters are Colonels Brandon (Sense and Sensibility) and Fitzwilliam (Pride and Prejudice), Marianne Brandon (S&S), Caroline Bingley (P&P), Anne de Bourgh (P&P) and other Austenian characters as well.  The third titular character is a Welsh gentleman named Colonel Sir John Buford, a new creation of Mr. Caldwell’s.

While the source materials may have been set in different time periods, The Three Colonels begins in 1814.  It focuses mainly on the relationships between the colonels and the women they love, but there is also a culminating focus on Napoleon’s return from Elba and the ultimate battle at Waterloo.

Even though I didn’t enjoy The Three Colonels as much as Pemberley Ranch, I can still give it a hearty recommendation.  During the days this was being read, I was enduring some very difficult health issues, and I can say that it provided many moments of pleasant escape during a truly challenging time in my life.

I liked Caldwell’s portrayal of these characters, in particular the redemptive view he took of Caroline Bingley.  He also gave Anne de Bourgh a bit of a spine, which was very satisfying.  He kept the romance details fairly chaste (although there were a few steamy moments, albeit within the confines of marriage) and the language between these worldly men was surprisingly clean. The themes of redemption, victory and home were used throughout.

Colonels also gives the reader a bit of a history lesson in regard to the issues of the time—such as Napoleon’s escape from Elba and subsequent brief return to power, the frustrations of the 19th century postal system, cultural challenges and the usual Austenesque romantic obstacles and victories. Caldwell clearly did his homework in this regard, and he even offers a suggested reading list at the conclusion of the book to supplement our knowledge of the period.

Putting these characters together was a bit of a literary risk on the part of Mr. Caldwell’s, but I think his gamble has paid off.  Seeing this cast of characters together was delightful and their relationships always proved to be interesting. I also enjoyed the small winks to other Austen works besides Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. Being a well-read admirer of Jane Austen’s works isn’t a requirement for The Three Colonels, but a general knowledge of the plots of Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility makes for a better experience.

Jack Caldwell has successfully merged multiple Austenian worlds, bringing his readers a romantic, adventurous tale of lovers, soldiers and friends. The Three Colonels is another wonderful novel from this enjoyable author, one who is a welcome addition to the growing list of Austenesque fiction writers.

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Giveaway of The Three Colonels! (US)

If you'd like to enter to win my used Advanced Copy (ARC) of The Three Colonels, just fill out the Rafflecopter form below.  Also take note of the following contest guidelines:

  • The contest period ends at 12:01am EST on April 1st, 2012.
  • Make sure you leave your email address in the one required portion of the Rafflecopter form. Should you win, I will contact you on Sunday the 1st.  Please take measures to ensure that my email will make it past your spam filters, lest you miss my message. ( You'll have 72 hours to respond before I pick another winner.
  • The winner must supply a U.S. mailing address for prize shipment.
  • You may tweet about the giveaway once per day for bonus entries. Please report the direct URL to the tweet in the Rafflecopter form.
  • Entries will be verified.  If a fraudulent entry is detected for the winning name, another winner will be drawn.

If you can't see the Rafflecopter form,
try clicking on the "Read more »" link

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Book Review: Life Lessons: Self Help from the Silver Screen by Gavin Jerome

Recently I was given the opportunity to review Life Lessons: Self Help from the Silver Screen, a new ebook from motivational speaker Gavin Jerome. It seemed like it would be a great fit for me.  I enjoy movies as much as I enjoy my books, and mixing philosophical concepts into this medium sounded like a fun idea.

I must admit I’ve had mixed reactions to Jerome’s ebook.  For the most part, I agree with the thoughts he’s trying to convey in his work, but I found some weaknesses to be distracting.  His writing style is very informal, seemingly appropriate for a young crowd, such as older teens or those in their young 20s.  However, the movies from which he’s chosen to glean thoughts from were, on the average, released in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.  Not one of the movies he uses as an object lesson was produced in the 21st century.  There’s nothing wrong with this, it just doesn’t give this new book an air of freshness or immediacy.  And younger readers might feel alienated from the material from which he’s drawing, as most of them weren’t released within the last decade and a half. Yes, Netflix and other rental options are available, but I don’t know that the younger generation is necessarily going to be drawn to the bulk of the chosen films here.  It didn’t come as a surprise when he stated that the book’s manuscript sat untouched for a decade.

I was also alarmed to see how much punctuation, typographical and grammatical errors there were throughout the work.  I read advanced editions all the time, so I’m accustomed to seeing a typo or two, but this is a finished work that seems to have missed the Spell Check feature in Jerome’s word processor.  I also lost respect for him as a movie fan and as a writer when he consistently misspelled Ferris Bueller's last name as “Buehler”.

Tom Hanks as Jim Lovell
Having said all of that, as a 40 year-old movie fan, I’ve seen most of the movies he referenced in Life Lessons and enjoyed revisiting them to glean some good ideas.  I think my two favorites came from Apollo 13 and Star Wars, where Jerome helps us take on daunting issues in our lives.  When faced with a huge crisis, it’s best not to get hysterical, but to work the problem to find a solution, much like Jim Lovell did when he calmly stated, “Houston, we have a problem.”  Yes, Lovell was facing a life-and-death situation, but by keeping his wits about him, he was able to make it through.  In the case of Star Wars, Luke Skywalker took on his daunting Death Star trench run with the attitude of reliving “Beggar’s Canyon back home”.  Comparing new challenges with previous successes is a good thing to keep in mind on those days when we feel overwhelmed.

While I can’t give a wild recommendation for Life Lessons, I can appreciate the good thing that Gavin Jerome is doing in his work.  It’s obvious that he poured his heart into this, brought himself to the table and is hoping to help others through the beloved medium of film.  If you’re someone from my generation who can look past a bit of weak writing, I think you might have some fun with this one.  It’s a quick read that should give you a thing or two to think about as you remember some fun movies from days gone by.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Book Review - The Technologists by Matthew Pearl

Welcome to the next top in the TLC Book Tour for Matthew Pearl's The Technologists! After you've read my review, be sure to enter the giveaway below and check out the other stops in the tour, listed at the end of the post. Other tour participants are not only offering their reviews, but other giveaways will be available as well.

*          *          *
From Goodreads:

The first class at M.I.T. The last hope for a city in peril. 

The acclaimed author of The Dante Club reinvigorates the historical thriller. Matthew Pearl’s spellbinding new novel transports readers to tumultuous nineteenth-century Boston, where the word “technology” represents a bold and frightening new concept. The fight for the future will hinge on . . .   THE TECHNOLOGISTS   Boston, 1868.

The Civil War may be over but a new war has begun, one between the past and the present, tradition and technology. On a former marshy wasteland, the daring Massachusetts Institute of Technology is rising, its mission to harness science for the benefit of all and to open the doors of opportunity to everyone of merit. But in Boston Harbor a fiery cataclysm throws commerce into chaos, as ships’ instruments spin inexplicably out of control. Soon after, another mysterious catastrophe devastates the heart of the city. Is it sabotage by scientific means or Nature revolting against man’s attempt to control it?

The shocking disasters cast a pall over M.I.T. and provoke assaults from all sides—rival Harvard, labor unions, and a sensationalistic press. With their first graduation and the very survival of their groundbreaking college now in doubt, a band of the Institute’s best and brightest students secretly come together to save innocent lives and track down the truth, armed with ingenuity and their unique scientific training.

Led by “charity scholar” Marcus Mansfield, a quiet Civil War veteran and one-time machinist struggling to find his footing in rarefied Boston society, the group is rounded out by irrepressible Robert Richards, the bluest of Beacon Hill bluebloods; Edwin Hoyt, class genius; and brilliant freshman Ellen Swallow, the Institute’s lone, ostracized female student. Working against their small secret society, from within and without, are the arrayed forces of a stratified culture determined to resist change at all costs and a dark mastermind bent on the utter destruction of the city.

Studded with suspense and soaked in the rich historical atmosphere for which its author is renowned, The Technologists is a dazzling journey into a dangerous world not so very far from our own, as the America we know today begins to shimmer into being.

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Matthew Pearl
What a fabulous novel!  Matthew Pearl is a bestselling author, but this is the first I’ve read of his work.  I was drawn to The Technologists in part because of its 19th-century setting, but also because of its centering on the early days of modern technology.  I wouldn’t consider myself a techie, but I value what the innovations of the last 100 years have brought to our society.  As much as I romanticize the 19th century, I can’t imagine living without many of the technological comforts we have today.  Seeing the nascent days of MIT through the lens of a thrilling novel was an interesting draw for me.

The Technologists did not let me down in the least! The history was interesting, the characters likeable, and the plot was eminently enjoyable.  Matthew Pearl’s writing is wonderful, making me feel like I was watching a movie, without the flimsy writing of some made-for-Hollywood texts.  A large portion of the story involved an intense mystery which kept me guessing up until nearly the very end.  And I was completely shocked at the ultimate culprit, as he/she was someone I never would have pegged as a villain.  Pearl also takes his time to finish all the extraneous plot points surrounding the main mystery, giving the novel a very complete feeling.

While Mr. Pearl takes some artistic license with large portions of his tale, much of the novel is based in fact, which he also takes the time to explain in the concluding Afterward chapter.  I had no idea that MIT had experienced such a rocky start, but it makes sense.  It’s common for cultures to resist embracing radical change.  Anything they couldn’t understand (and there was plenty of the seemingly incomprehensible at MIT) was seen as suspicious, dangerous or even downright evil in the minds of many.  It’s not surprising that there were forces fighting against the establishment of such a new type of institute. 

The Technologists
is populated mostly by males, but the two main females within the story are given such high regard, and the cause for women’s rights is trumpeted loud and clear, I believe most women would enjoy this title very much.  Of course I enjoyed the touches of chaste romance that popped up from time to time, but really my entertainment came from the book as a whole. 

Matthew Pearl has written a novel that is at once thrilling, educational and delightfully lacking in formulaic development.  Not only do I recommend it to anyone considering MIT in their educational future, but also to those who seek a quality historical novel.  The world of The Technologists does not disappoint, and I hope to see more of it in the future, either on the silver screen or as a sequel to this fabulous work.   

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Giveaway of The Technologists!
(Now Closed)

TLC Book Tours has graciously offered to give away a copy of The Technologists to one of my readers!  Fill out the Rafflecopter form below, and take note of the contest guidelines:

  • The contest period ends at 12:01am EST on March 18th, 2012.
  • Make sure you leave your email address in the one required portion of the Rafflecopter form. Should you win, I will contact you on Sunday the 18th.  Please take measures to ensure that my email will make it past your spam filters, lest you miss my message. ( You'll have 72 hours to respond before I pick another winner.
  • The winner must supply a U.S. or Canadian mailing address for prize shipment.
  • TLC Book Tours will be responsible for prize shipment after they receive the mailing address from me.
  • You may tweet about the giveaway once per day for bonus entries. Please report the direct URL to the tweet in the Rafflecopter form.
  • Entries will be verified.  If a fraudulent entry is detected for the winning name, another winner will be drawn.

If you can't see the Rafflecopter form,
try clicking on the "Read more »" link


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