Saturday, February 18, 2012

This Book Room

Meena Harper has a special gift, but it's only now that anyone's ever appreciated it. The Palatine Guard — a powerful secret demon-hunting unit of the Vatican — has hired her to work at their new branch in Lower Manhattan. With Meena's ability to predict how everyone she meets will die, the Palatine finally has a chance against the undead. Sure, her ex-boyfriend was Lucien Antonescu, son of Dracula, the prince of darkness. But that was before he (and their relationship) went up in flames. Now Meena's sworn off vampires for good ... at least until she can prove her theory that just because they've lost their souls doesn't mean demons have lost the ability to love. Meena knows convincing her co-workers — including her partner, über-demon-hunter Alaric Wulf — that vampires can be redeemed won't be easy ... especially when a deadly new threat seems to be endangering not just lives of the Palatine, but Meena's friends and family as well. But Meena isn't the Palatine's only hope. Father Henrique — aka Padre Caliente — New York City's youngest, most charming priest, has also been assigned to the case. So why doesn't Meena — or Alaric — trust him? As she begins unraveling the truth, Meena finds her loyalties tested, her true feelings laid bare ... and temptations she never even imagined existed, but finds impossible to resist. This time, Meena may finally have bitten off more than she can chew.

Additional notes: This is the second book in the Dracula series. You can read my review of the first book here. I'm not sure if this series is continuing, and I don't even know whether to be happy or sad about that.

My thoughts: This book was action-packed, which helps to alleviate the annoying-ness of the characters. But I have to say, this series reminds me more and more of Twilight. I just think Meg could've been more original. It's a disappointment.

Author and journalist Lorilee Craker was just like the rest of us, feeling the pinch from the financial fallout of 2008. As a freelancer, her income was going the way of the dodo-family dollars seemed like an extinct myth, the bank account some archaeological evidence of past prosperity. Then, inspired by a news segment covering the Amish and how they emerged from the economic crisis unscathed, she realized it was time to learn a thing or two about their time-tested approach to personal finances. While the middle-class was wringing its hands over the family budget and the wealthy were weeping over their slashed portfolios, the Amish were content as always, spared from the cares of the world and worldliness. They not only had financial health to support their lives, they exuded a wholeness that eludes so many when the financial bottom drops out. In Money Secrets of the Amish, readers go on an "Amish money makeover," learning the choices, secrets, and disciplines that safeguarded the contentment and the coffers of America's favorite plain folk by spending less, saving more, and getting happier doing it.

My thoughts: This book is a must-read. If you want encouragement to keep going on the road you're on to frugalness and simplicity, this will uplift you. If you want encouragement that you can get on the road one foot at a step, one step at a time, this will help you start walking. My favorite parts were when the author discusses how many money each person "fritters" over the course of the month and how to make do or go without items instead of just automatically replacing them. I counted up what we frittered in January (unplanned money that got spent on essentially "stupid" stuff (eating out, etc.)), and we frittered $74.68. I was both happy and horrified at that number. Happy because I remember months we'd easily fritter away hundreds of dollars and horrified that we were in the double digits! Also, my list of five things we're going without or making do with: my one pair of jeans (scruffy but serviceable),  a new car (our one car has no AC, a broken mirror, and no rear defroster), a heated mattress pad (we double  up on blankets, I wrap up in my shawl, etc.), extra lamps (we work on crafts during the day), and a new computer (our one laptop has no CTRL key, Jason and I spend loads of time apart working because we don't have two laptops). As of this writing, I've gotten rid of my jeans (I'm just going to do without and wear lots of skirts!), and we've ordered a second laptop. But seeing how much we're making do with or going without was and still is super encouraging to me.

Want to live your dreams--or even surpass them? Want the world to change for the better? Want to see a miracle? What are we waiting for? Why not "be" the miracle? That's the challenge Regina Brett sets forth in BE THE MIRACLE. To be a miracle doesn't necessarily mean tackling problems across the globe. It means making a difference, believing change is possible, even in your own living room, cubicle, neighborhood, or family. Through a collection of inspirational essays, Regina shares lessons that will help people make a difference in the world around them. The lessons come from Regina's life experience and from the lives of others, especially those she has met in her 24 years as a journalist. Each chapter is a lesson that can stand alone, but together they form a handbook for seeing the miracle of change everywhere. With upbeat lessons from "Do Your Best and Forget the Rest" to "Sometimes It's Enough to Make One Person Happy," these lessons will help you accept and embrace yourself, challenge and change yourself, and better serve others.

My thoughts:impactful read.

When space is at a premium, growing decent food to eat might seem an impossible task. Patio Produce is about just that; growing delicious, wholesome fruit and vegetables in the smallest spaces. It shows you how to make the most of pots and planters; how to create decorative but edible displays; how to plan for a reasonable yield; and how never to run out of at least something special to eat. If you have a balcony on a high rise, a roof garden or a patio, you can immeasurably enhance your quality of life, maintain your health and enjoy some amazing meals from the freshest and richest ingredients. Patio Produce goes from plant pot to plate. Think quality, freshness, flavour and put these thoughts into your ever greening fingers. Inside there are detailed step-by-step instructions how to grow on the patio - not just for novelty's sake, but for flavour and an enhanced eating experience. You might not have all the space in the world, but you can enjoy all the flavour in the world. To know you have grown, nurtured, harvested and cooked to perfection your own vegetables and fruit, will make this book into an old friend.           

My thoughts: Okay, I would just say that if you know nothing about gardening (which is basically true), you'll both think this book is weird, insightful and totally irrelevant. I would not recommend this as the first book you read about gardening in a small space. Also, this author's version of a "patio" is wildly different than mine. We want to grow some veggies on our balcony this summer, and this author talks about how you can grow fruit trees (!) and blueberry bushes (!) in a small space. I don't think so.

Handsome, headstrong Jacob offers Lilly his hand in marriage, but his heart belongs to someone else. While Lilly Lapp has loved Jacob for years, she wouldn't compete with Sarah King, the woman Jacob was determined to marry. But when Sarah marries another, Jacob spontaneously agrees to wed Lilly. Lilly divides her time between teaching the local Amish children and caring for her widowed mother who suffers from depression. Lilly's faith comforts her, but her heart still longs to be the sole object of Jacob's affection. As the days slip by, Lilly decides that hoping is too risky and vows to protect her heart. But God is subtly as work, and as winter turns to spring, their hearts awaken. The furthest thing from Lilly's mind is her Amish wedding quilt, a traditional gift for new brides. And the person she'd least suspect is the one making it. Like stray pieces of fabric quilted into a new design, Jacob and Lilly's marriage begins to bind them together in ways neither expected.

Additional notes: This is the second book in the Patch of Heaven series. You can read my review of the first book here. I reckon this series is being continued...

My thoughts: I don't know whether I liked or disliked this book. It didn't end the way I envisioned (or wanted). I felt like the middle to ending was somewhat forced. I don't know if I would continue this series, even though the author will.

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