Grateful American by Gary Sinise

 

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Pages: 305

Publisher: HarperCollins – Zondervan

Published: February 12, 2019

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

My Review: An interesting look in how Gary Sinise became one of the most prominent military and first responders supporters. It was nice to read about an actor who uses his popularity for a good thing. As a daughter of a Korean War and retired Army, I want to say thank you to him for caring and helping those in need.

In regards to his personal life, I had no idea he has been married to his wife for 40+ years. Congrats. What an accomplishment in these modern times. I also did not know all the movies he has been in and now want to try and watch them all.

If you are looking for a positive Hollywood story Grateful American is the book for you. Available now from your favorite book retailer.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, HarperCollins – Thomas Nelson, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

NetGalley: As a kid in suburban Chicago, Gary Sinise was more interested in sports and rock ‘n’ roll than reading or schoolwork. But when he impulsively auditioned for a school production of West Side Story, he found his purpose–or so it seemed.
Within a few years, Gary and a handful of friends created what became one of the most exciting and important new theater companies in America. From its humble beginnings in a suburban Chicago church basement and eventual move into the city, the Steppenwolf Theatre Company launched a series of groundbreaking productions, igniting Gary’s career along with those of John Malkovich, Joan Allen, Gary Cole, Laurie Metcalf, Jeff Perry, John Mahoney, and others. Television and film came calling soon after, and Gary starred in Of Mice and Men (which he also directed) and The Stand before taking the role that would change his life in unforeseeable ways: Lieutenant Dan in the Academy Award-winning Forrest Gump.

The military community’s embrace of the character of the disabled veteran was matched only by the depth of Gary’s realization that America’s defenders had not received all the honor, respect, and gratitude their sacrifices deserve. In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, this became Gary’s mission. While starring in hits like Apollo 13, Ransom, Truman, George Wallace, CSI: NY, and Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, Gary has worked tirelessly on behalf of those who serve this country, entertaining more than a half-million troops around the world playing bass guitar with his Lt. Dan Band, raising funds on behalf of veterans, and eventually founding the Gary Sinise Foundation with a mission to serve and honor America’s defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need.

Grateful American is the moving, entertaining, profoundly gripping story of how one man found his calling: to see that those who defend this country and its freedoms are never forgotten.

Where I End: A Story of Tragedy, Truth and Rebellious Hope by Katherine Elizabeth Clark

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Pages: 226

Publisher: Moody Publishers

Published: January 2, 2018

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads:

Katherine Clark was just an average wife and mother with two young children when she was in a tragic playground accident in late May 2009. A little boy playing on the jungle gym jumped and landed on Kate’s head, knocking her over and snapping her neck. Kate was paralyzed from the neck down. The doctors diagnosed her with quadriplegia and said she would never walk again.

This terrifying prognosis could have been the end of the story. But instead, God chose to work a profound miracle in Kate’s life and in the life of her family.

Where I End tells the incredible story. Kate describes how God’s presence carried her through the trying journey of re-learning to walk, both physically and spiritually. Throughout, she shares the deep theological truths that sustained her as she and her family traveled this difficult road.

My Review:

An emotional read that leaves you gasping for air.

I admire Katherine’s faith not only in God but in her marriage and friends. How many of us could say that if we suffered a tragedy in our life even as half as devasting as Katherine did that our family and friends would be as steady and loving? Put the shoe on the other foot and think about how you would react if something happened to your spouse and life as you know it is changed forever?

I appreciate that Katherine did not solely focus on how the accident affected her she talked about her family and friends especially her young children. I think a lot of times the children get lost in the craziness after a tragedy and so many like to believe that “children are resilient and will be fine” when in fact they have no idea how to process their feelings and fears. Katherine does not shy sway in sharing how her son felt like he was “far from God.” How many times in our lives have we felt this way and do not admit that fear to those closet to us because of fear of rejection?

Where I End is a book to read if you are “far from God” and need hope and encouragement to find your way back or if you or a loved one is suffering from a life-altering illness or injury and need hope you will come out on the other side.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Moody Publishers. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

The Sisters of Summit Avenue by Lynn Cullen

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Pages: 320

Publisher: Gallery Books

Published: September 10, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The sisters of summit ave

NetGalley:

From Lynn Cullen, the bestselling author of Mrs. Poe and Twain’s End, comes a powerful novel set in the Midwest during the Great Depression, about two sisters bound together by love, duty, and pain.

Ruth has been single-handedly raising four young daughters and running her family’s Indiana farm for eight long years, ever since her husband, John, fell into a comatose state, infected by the infamous “sleeping sickness” devastating families across the country. If only she could trade places with her older sister, June, who is the envy of everyone she meets: blonde and beautiful, married to a wealthy doctor, living in a mansion in St. Paul. And June has a coveted job, too, as one of “the Bettys,” the perky recipe developers who populate General Mills’ famous Betty Crocker test kitchens. But these gilded trappings hide sorrows: she has borne no children. And the man she used to love more than anything belongs to Ruth.

When the two sisters reluctantly reunite after a long estrangement, June’s bitterness about her sister’s betrayal sets into motion a confrontation that’s been years in the making. And their mother, Dorothy, who’s brought the two of them together, has her own dark secrets, which might blow up the fragile peace she hopes to restore between her daughters.

An emotional journey of redemption, inner strength, and the ties that bind families together, for better or worse, The Sisters of Summit Avenue is a heartfelt love letter to mothers, daughters, and sisters everywhere.

My Review:

I enjoyed this book enough to give it four stars but I was not thrilled with the style of writing. The story jumps from past to present and between the sisters and Dorothy. Normally that does not bother me but in this book, I thought it took the punch of the story away. I would get really invested in the current storyline and then, bam, it would switch.

I knew going in, this was a work of fiction but I really thought I’d get to the end and be told it was loosely based on a true story. Alas, that did not occur. I have found myself reading what I can on the creation of Betty Crocker.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Gallery, Pocket Books, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

Death Threads (A Southern Sewing Circle #2) by Elizabeth Lynn Casey (aka Laura Bradford)

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Pages: 288

Publisher: Berkley

Published: May 5, 2010

Rating: 4 stars

Goodreads:
Yankee librarian Tori Sinclair is basking in the warmth of her new circle of friends from South Carolina’s Sweet Briar Ladies Society sewing circle. That is until local author Colby Calhoun reveals an unflattering secret about the town’s historic past-and then disappears, leaving a bloody trail behind him. And when Tori begins to see a pattern of the townsfolk’s age-old Southern pride standing in the way of justice, she knows it’s time to unravel the mystery.

My review:
This series is for fans of anything Southern and book related. You cannot get more perfect than a library set in South Carolina. If you add in the love for Little House (Laura Ingalls Wilder) that Tori has then we have the winning trifecta in my humble opinion.

I am not a person who views sewing as relaxing. I am more in the ranks of our dear sweet Leona who along with her twin sister is a hoot. You will find yourself chuckling quite frequently while reading. The idea of the handsewn library book bags for nursing home residents has really touched my heart. My mom is currently in a long term rehabilitation to get her leg strength back and seeing the nursing home part of the rehab center is so sad. I wish more public libraries had the capability to make sure nursing home residents had access to books.

A part of me wants to gobble this series up as quickly as I can read but the smart part of me is telling myself to slow down since there are only 12 books in this wonderful series and I have already read two. I am limiting myself to one book a month in this series.

Forever Fudge (Candy-Coated Mystery #6) by Nancy CoCo

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Pages: 352

Publisher: Kensington

Publisher: September 25, 2018

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Allie is getting ready for the official end of the tourist season with her Labor Day weekend guests. Her two employees are on their honeymoon so things are little busier for Allie. The last thing she needs is a TV crew and a egotistic actor invading her space. As Allie and Mal go for one of their daily walks around town, Mal does what she does best, finds a dead body. What is different and most frightening this time is a note to Allie is left with the body. Can Allie figure out what the notes are saying before someone close to her is killed?

The Candy-Coated series is a fun series that keeps you entertained from the beginning to the end. Allie’s grit and determination to keep her grandfather’s hotel and fudge shop going is commendable. Her love for the island and the people of the island is very heartwarming and something we don’t see very often. Nany CoCo’s writing is so believable that I expect to be able to walk right into Allie and the fudge shop if I visited Mackinac Island.

This is book six of the series and it is still going strong. I have not read all the books in the series but the writing is so good you can pick up any book and understand what is happening. As soon as the new year gets here I am going to catch up on this series.

Yummy fudge recipes are included in each book and some are only two or three ingredients and are very easy to fix. The perfect series to read around the holidays when fudge is a popular gift.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Kensington through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

Geared for the Grave (A Cycle Path Mystery #1) by Duffy Brown

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Pages: 288 (Paperback)

Publisher: Berkley

Published: December 2, 2014

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Welcome to Mackinac Island, the land of a slower lifestyle with no cars allowed and bicycles are the way to get around. Evie has volunteered to help her boss in Chicago by coming to Mackinac Island and assist Rudy, her boss’ father, in his bicycle shop. Rudy has broken leg and it is the height of the summer season. Evie walks in to the shop and witnesses an argument between Rudy and Bunny, a wealthy resident who would love for his shop to be shut down. Unfortunately during a delivery Evie finds Bunny as dead as road kill on the side of a Chicago highway. Can Evie solve the murder before having to call her boss to come get her father out of the slammer?

Oh my goodness, I have never laughed so much and so hard reading a book before. It seemed like I was constantly stopping and reading a snippet to my hubby. Evie is a pure delight. The entire book was a delight. You have a Detroit cop volunteering his time on the island, a Chicago girl who is used to creature comforts, and the mob. Can a cozy can any better? I enjoyed it so much I have already ordered the second book and am on pins and needles for it to get here.

My one complaint: there are only TWO books in the series so far. I haven’t researched yet but I really hope the author continues the series.

 

The Good Liar by Catherine McKenzie

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Pages: 380 (eBook)

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Published: April 3, 2018

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A year ago a explosion topples a Chicago high rise and the lives of Cecily, Kate and Franny change in more ways than the obvious. Cecily lost her husband and best friend. Kate takes the opportunity to run away. Franny loses her chance to get to know her birth mother better. As the year anniversary takes over all forms of media, the secrets each woman has kept starts unraveling. Can they successfully keep their own secrets or will the secrets prove too much for each?

My initial reaction to this book when I finished was WHOA! what just happened? I could not put this book down. The dates show two days to finish but I read this book in under 24 hours. I was reading it every second I had free and even the ones I really did not have free. The twists and turns the book took at every chapter had me thinking I knew what was going on and then BAM! another twist would occur. If you are a fan of suspense and thrillers you have to run and get this book from your favorite bookseller or library. Just beware that once you open and read the first page you are not going to want to put it down.

Catherine McKenzie has blown my socks off once again. I would love to see this made into a movie as it has the greatest potential to be a hit.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Lake Union Publishing through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.