Friday, April 28, 2017

The Hideaway by Lauren K. Denton (TLC Book Tours) and GIVEAWAY!

Do you ever really know your grandparents?  Sara Jenkins has been ashamed of her grandmother and her eccentric ways since she was a teenager. She moved out of her hometown of Sweet Bay Alabama to New Orleans to start a new life with her very own shop, Bits and Pieces.  It isn’t until her Grandmother passes away unexpectedly that Sara goes back to Sweet Bay to bury her grandmother and find out what Mags wanted done with her old ramshackle B&B.  The Hideaway isn’t like other B&Bs, it’s a large ramshackle Victorian home on the Bay that has seen better days.  It seems to collect eccentric folks who come to stay . . . forever and never leave.  It turns out it was Mags’s last wish that Sara fix up The Hideaway.  Along the way, Sara finds out more about her Grandmother and her own family history.  Will she be able to find herself and love along the way?

Half of the book is told from Mags points of view from when she was a jilted wife who first happened upon The Hideaway to finding true love and disappointments along the way.  I really loved her story although it was a sad one.  Mags had a great spirit and discovered what she really wanted out of life and how conforming to everyone’s wishes is not always the best way.

I really enjoyed this book.  I loved the alternating view points from Sara in contemporary times to Mags in the 1960’s and beyond. They each had their own unique voice and prospective.  They also each had a strong story.  Often in books with alternating viewpoints I grown to love one narrative over another.  In the Hideaway both Sara and Mags had a strong story and they perfectly complemented one another.

I enjoyed that the story really had Sara discover just who her grandmother was and learn to think of her as an adult that did a lot of good in life, not just an embarrassing old lady.  I’ve always loved to hang out with my grandparents and hear their stories, but I do know that a lot of people just make fun of the elderly until they are older and realize that they’ve missed their chance to really get to know their family.

I also love old homes and fixing them up so I enjoyed that aspect of the book as well.  I wish I could go to The Hideaway!

My favorite quotes:

“Truth be told, I think she’s a stronger woman now because of who I turned out to be.  If I’d remained under my parents’ thumbs, always worrying about how others perceived me, I would have been a wispy shadow of a real woman.  And I have to think that somehow my refusal to bow to the norms helped shape Sara – even if she hasn’t consciously realized it.”

“We stood there, two statues full of emotion, neither able to make the first move.”

“And I found that people who love old houses tended to be trustworthy.”

“I, on the other hand, took her for exactly who she was on the surface, never bothering to consider that a full, rich life had been waiting just underneath.”

“But life doesn’t always work out the way it’s supposed to, does it?”

Overall, The Hideaway as a truly enjoyable book about really learning to love and cherish your family, learning how to start again when life deals you blows, and learning to love and appreciate life.  It’s a great summer read!

Book Source:  Review Copy as part of TLC Book Tours.  For more information and a look at the other tour locations check out this link at:


One lucky winner will receive a copy of The Hideaway by Lauren K. Denton. If you would like to win this book, please leave a comment on what interests you about this book.

As part of your comment, you must include an email address. If I can't find a way to contact you I will draw another winner.

For an additional entry, blog about this giveaway or post it on your sidebar. Provide a link to this post in your comment.

I will be using (or a Monte Carlo simulation in excel) to pick the winners from the comments.

This contest is only open to addresses in the United States and Canada.

The deadline for entry is midnight on Friday May 12th!

Please make sure to check the week of May 15th to see if you are a winner. I send emails to the winner, but lately I've been put in their "junk mail" folder instead of their inbox.

Good luck!

I am Number 8 by John W. Gray III

I am Number 8 is subtitled overlooked, but not forgotten by God.  I thought this would be a good book to read during lent.  John W. Gray III is a pastor and uses his own personal story as well as King David’s from the Bible to point out that often you can feel overlooked by God, but he cares about everyone.

Each chapter of this book includes questions for reflection, which I enjoyed.  It also stressed that you don’t have to be seeking the spotlight, but that God will help you to find best how to serve him.  There were parts of David’s story including a “backstory” of David from a blog, which greatly confused me as it’s not part of the Biblical account.  

Truthfully, while I thought that Gray made some excellent points in this book, I was hoping for more on David’s story.  I wanted more thoughts on the Biblical story and not suspect backstories of David from blogs.  Also the style of writing in the book was hard for me to connect to.  I thought about it and I think that I would have enjoyed this more as an audiobook.  Its written more as the style of a preacher talking to his congregation so I believe audio would be the way to go.

Favorite Quote:

“See, there’s no shortage of CEOs and comedians and singers.  And truthfully, there’s nothing inherently wrong with any of those paths.  But there does seem to be a severe lack of principled, committed, humble, integrity-filled leaders.”  Amen to that!!

Overall, I am Number 8 is a good book about putting your best foot forward and trusting in God to reveal to you your purpose in life when the time comes. 

Source:  Review Copy from FaithWords a Hachette Book Group

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Washington’s Farewell by John Avlon

Title: Washington’s Farewell
Author: John Avlon
Read by: John Avlon
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Length: Approximately 10 hours and 4 minutes
Source: Simon & Schuster Audio Digital Review Copy – Thank-you!

George Washington set a precedent when he decided not to run for a third term of office.  He wanted to show the world he was not a monarch in power for his entire life as well as what a peaceful transfer of power looked like.  When he decided to step down, he also decided he wanted to write a farewell address for the American people that would be printed in papers across the nation so that the average citizen could read his thoughts and guidance for what the country should do to be a successful democracy.

In Washington’s Farewell, Jon Avlon writes of how Washington shaped the farewell with his ideas, but also with help from other founding fathers including James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and Alexander Hamilton.  He focused on a lot of issues, but mainly on avoiding hyper-partisanship, excessive debt, and foreign wars.  Washington was our only president who didn’t belong to a party and tried to stay above the fray of the party bickering to make sure the country ran well and for the best of the citizens.  He was afraid that the two party system would lead to Americans feeling that other Americans are enemies due to their political affiliation and that it could lead to a rise of a demagogue.  It’s very interesting to read this in our current political atmosphere.

I also enjoyed that Washington’s Farewell included biographical information about Washington himself.  I’ve always found his life to be fascinating and want to know more.  There were new details I didn’t remember learning before such as the fact that Martha Washington was not happy about Washington being president and did not attend his inauguration.

The later part of the book included how Washington’s Farewell address has been used by the Presidents who followed him and how they have adapted it and learned from it.  It’s interesting how the presidency changes people once they assume the office.

The book ended with the reading of Washington’s Farewell address in its entirety which I found very interesting.  I don’t believe I’ve ever read or heard the Farewell address which is sad.  Especially as this was once a required document like Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address that everyone read.  I think it should be brought back to the classroom!

I enjoyed that the author referenced Hamilton the musical and even interviewed Lin Manual for the book.  It made me listen again to the musical with a fresh eye on Hamilton’s involvement in the creation of Washington’s Farewell address.

The author, Jon Avlon, narrated this book himself which I enjoyed.  It was a captivating account of history to entertain me on my daily commute.

Overall, Washington’s Farewell is a fascinating look into an important document that includes words of wisdom from our founding father that are relevant to our current times.