Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leaping into the Hodgepodge

1. The Hodgepodge falls on the last day of February this year, a leap year. How will you spend that extra day?

Pretty much like any other day, doing what needs to be done!

2. What has recently required a leap of faith on your part?

Giving big.

3. We're one week into the season of Lent...are you marking these 40 days in some way? Giving something up or adding something extra to normal life? How's it going so far?

Nope. I don't do Lent. Wasn't raised that way and I shy away from anything that will make me tend toward legalism. I disagree with the traditional practice of Lent, although I'm fine with how many of my Christian bloggy friends have chosen to acknowledge it, using it as a season to draw closer to God. I loved Chatty Kelly's recent blog post about it.

4. When was the last time you sat beside a fire?

Probably at a friend's house. I really don't remember.

5. Surf and Turf is on the menu. Do you order as is or do you ask for just the surf (lobster), just the turf (steak), or a menu so you can select another option?

I'll have a melt-in-your-mouth tender, medium-well filet mignon, please. I don't want to have to hack at my food or have its beady eyes staring at me (sightless or not), nor do I want to wear a bib.

6. If you could have any television program back, not in reruns but in new episodes, what program would you choose?

Oh this is a hard one. Depends on my mood. Loved The Waltons and Little House on the Prairie. Also loved Chicago Hope, a medical show that started about the same time as ER, and which had Mandy Patinkin (who won an Emmy) and Hector Elizondo as doctors, among others. It was great. Loved the episodes where Mandy Patinkin's character sang. I guess I'd choose that one. Oh, but then there was also St. Elsewhere in the early to mid-1980's, another medical show - Howie Mandel, Denzel Washington, Mark Harmon (who was also in Chicago Hope). It was on Wednesday nights at 9:00 and I would watch it and then put on my nursing uniform and go to work the night shift!

7. They say an elephant never forgets. These days would you say your memory is more like an elephant or a gnat?

It depends on what it is. As someone I know says, "I remember the things I want to forget and forget the things I want to remember!" But overall, I have a really good memory. I got that trait from my dad. I've always been able to remember dates, places, locations, events, etc. Names - notsomuch!

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Have you seen this darling couple? I found this on FB and just had to share!

Aren't they adorable?! This is Herbert and Zelmyra Fisher of North Carolina They have been married 85 years (86 in May) and hold the Guinness World Record for the longest marriage of a living couple and get this…. Zelmyra is 101 years old and Herbert is 104. They share some timeless wisdom about marriage, including this great advice: Remember marriage is not a contest – never keep a score. God has put the two of you together on the same team to win. Read about them here.


View blog reactions

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Terri Blackstock
ISBN: 978-0310250685
February 2012/304 pages/$14.99

Emily Covington has turned her life around after a drug addiction, but her family still has trouble trusting her. Though Emily has committed herself to a year-long treatment program and has been sober for almost a year beyond that, even her mother walks on eggshells around her, fearing she’ll relapse. After her behavior during her drug years, Emily realizes she has a lot to prove.

When police discover a homemade bomb under Emily’s car, and she then learns the wife of one of her friends was murdered that same morning, she knows things are deadly serious.

But who wants Emily dead? And why?

A conversation she had with two men, an Alfred Hitchcock movie, and a plan for a double murder all conspire for one explosive ride ... and Emily is the only one who can identify the killer and save the life of the next potential victim.

As she frantically works to solve this ever more complicated puzzle, Emily finds herself playing right into the killer’s hands.

Terri Blackstock ( has sold over six million books worldwide and is a New York Times bestselling author. She is the award-winning author of Intervention and Vicious Cycle, as well as such series as Cape Refuge, Newpointe 911, the SunCoast Chronicles, and the Restoration Series. Visit her website for more information, and like her Facebook page.


I was captivated by Intervention (reviewed here) and Vicious Cycle (reviewed here), so I jumped at the chance to review this final book in the series. In a word: Wow! Terri Blackstock once again kept me riveted to the page into the wee hours. She has seamlessly showed the perspective of the story from various angles: Emily's struggles, her mother's roller coaster of emotions, Lance's experiences, and Homicide Detective Kent Harlan's professional and personal commitment. She even pulls back the killer's mask just enough to allow a glimpse into his/her mind without revealing who it is until the proper time. This is a chilling picture of the consequences of drug addiction and the seemingly harmless ways that it often begins. Terri's experiences that led to the writing of this series (explained in my review of the first book) give this novel a raw authenticity that can't be attained by mere research, and I often forgot I was reading fiction. I didn't just read this book; I experienced it. Although aimed for adults, this should be required reading for older teens. My girl is eagerly waiting for me to pass this book along to her as soon as my review is written!

In Downfall, the latest novel from New York Times bestselling author Terri Blackstock, Emily Covington has committed herself to recovery from addiction, but can she recover from the attempt on her life with the killer still on the run?
To celebrate this explosive conclusion to the Intervention Series, Zondervan and Terri Blackstock are pleased to announce the STOP THE DOWNFALL Sweepstakes.
Enter to win a $500 prize for yourself…plus another $500 for an addiction-based Christian ministry or church outreach of your choice!

Click here for more information and to enter!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Zondervan and Shelton Interactive as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


View blog reactions

Monday, February 27, 2012

Heart's Safe Passage

Heart's Safe Passage
The Midwives
Laurie Alice Eakes
ISBN: 978-0800719852
February 2012/384 pages/$14.99

One woman takes the treacherous journey toward redemption . . . and love.

All Phoebe Lee wants out of life is to practice midwifery in Loudon County, Virginia. But when she refuses to accompany her pregnant sister-in-law to help save her husband from an English prison during the War of 1812, Phoebe finds herself pressed aboard a British privateer.

Captain Rafe Docherty promises to get Phoebe's brother-in-law out of prison in exchange for information Rafe needs to exact revenge on the man who destroyed his family. As he realizes his attraction to Phoebe, she determines to get ashore before her patient goes into labor--and before her own heart is in danger. But an enemy in their midst threatens to end their plans--and their very lives.

Laurie Alice Eakes is the author of Lady in the Mist, A Necessary Deception, Heart's Safe Passage, and several other novels. She won a National Readers Choice Award for Best Regency in 2007 for Family Guardian. Laurie Alice writes full-time from her home in Texas, where she lives with her husband and sundry dogs and cats. Visit here website to learn more about her and her books.

This is the third book I've read by Laurie Alice Eakes (read my previous reviews here), and once again she captivated my heart and swept me away to another time. From my first glimpse of the title I knew this would be a story in which the threat of enemy ships and tumultuous weather would not pose the danger that the interpersonal storms would, and the physical dangers are hardly inconsequential! The characters are easy to either like or loathe, as the case may be, and the pages fairly pulsate with emotion, making me feel as if I had stepped into the book. Laurie Alice Eakes expertly paints each scene and doesn't waste a movement or a glance in creating a perfect storm of romantic, spiritual, and family tension. Best of all, the message of faith is strong without being heavy-handed. I love the lesson that Phoebe had to learn, although I ached for the way she had to learn it. Add this book and this author to your must-read list; you won't be disappointed!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revell as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


View blog reactions

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sweeter than Birdsong/"Downton Abbey" Giveaway

I review so many great books that I can't complain when I don't make a tour, but I was really disappointed I didn't get in on the tour for Sweeter than Birdsong by Rosslyn Elliott! Reading some of the reviews have made me that much more eager to read this book! So I do want to be sure you know about the book and about the awesome giveaway that will be happening at the Author Chat Facebook Party on Tuesday!

Rosslyn Elliott's Sweeter Than Birdsong and "Downton Abbey" Giveaway - ends 2/28

Win an iPod Nano!

Save the Date! 2/28!
Click the button above to enter!

One fortunate winner will receive:
  • A Brand new iPod Nano (Winner's choice of color!)
  • Fairer than Morning by Rosslyn Elliott
  • Sweeter than Birdsong by Rosslyn Elliott

Enter today by clicking the button above. But hurry, the giveaway ends at noon on February 28th. Winner will be announced at Sweeter than Birdsong Author Chat Facebook Party on 2/28. Rosslyn will be chatting with guests, sharing a sneak peek of the next book in the series, hosting a trivia contest, and more! She'll also be giving away some GREAT prizes: gift certificates, books, Seasons 1 and 2 of Downton Abbey and a soundtrack DVD, and a book club prize pack! (Ten copies of the book for your small group or book club AND a LIVE Author Chat for your group with Rosslyn.)


View blog reactions

Saturday, February 25, 2012


When I was in high school and college, I LOVED the group TRUTH. My dream was to be in a group like that. (I did have the privilege of singing in a girl's ensemble at my church. There were about five or six of us, and we were called Sonlight. Our pastor never could remember the name and always introduced us as the Sunshine Girls! LOL I absolutely loved singing in that group.)

Anyway, I was so excited to discover someone as put a bunch of TRUTH'S older songs (well, I guess they're ALL older songs!) on YouTube.

Here are a couple I really liked "back in the day."

Jesus never fails, Jesus never fails,
You might as well get thee behind me, Satan,
You will not prevail
And this one has the same message as the more recent song "Trust His Heart"

Gentle hands, holding on to me
Gentle hands, guiding me so carefully
Though He leads me down through paths
I don't always understand
I will never fear
For I'm in Gentle Hands

Visit Amy's for more songs.


View blog reactions

Friday, February 24, 2012


Janice Cantore
ISBN: 978-1414358475
January 2012/416 pages/$12.99

Detective Carly Edwards hates working in juvenile—where the brass put her after an officer-involved shooting—and longs to be back on patrol. So when a troubled youth, Londy Atkins, is arrested for the murder of the mayor and Carly is summoned to the crime scene, she's eager for some action. Carly presses Londy for a confession but he swears his innocence, and despite her better judgment, Carly is inclined to believe him. Yet homicide is convinced of his guilt and is determined to convict him.

Carly's ex-husband and fellow police officer, Nick, appears to be on her side. He's determined to show Carly that he's a changed man and win her back, but she isn't convinced he won't betray her again.

As the investigation progresses, Carly suspects a cover-up and strikes out on her own, uncertain whom she can trust. But when danger mounts, she begins to wonder if she made the right choice.

A former Long Beach, California, police officer of twenty-two years, Janice Cantore worked a variety of assignments, including patrol, administration, juvenile investigations, and training. She's always enjoyed writing and published two short articles on faith at work for Cop and Christ and Today's Christian Woman before tackling novels. A few years ago, she retired to a house in the mountains of Southern California, where she lives with two Labrador retrievers, Jake and Maggie.

Janice writes suspense novels designed to keep readers engrossed and leave them inspired. Accused is the first book in the Pacific Coast Justice series, featuring Carly Edwards. Janice also authored the Brinna's Heart series, which includes The Kevlar Heart and The Heart of Justice.

Visit Janice's website at to learn more.

Wow. This is a gripping novel that captivated me from the first page until the final sentence was completed. As I read, I didn't realize the author was a former police officer, but I knew it had been written by someone with the inside scoop on law enforcement! This would make a great movie. Action and danger provide plenty of turmoil in this book, while fractured relationships and conflicts of faith -- and a bit of romance -- provide additional tension. I'll be eagerly awaiting the next book in this Pacific Coast Justice series.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


View blog reactions

Thursday, February 23, 2012

On the Wings of a Dove

If you don't recognize the title of today's post, that was an old gospel song from my childhood. It just seemed fitting, since the nominees for this year's Dove Awards were announced yesterday in Atlanta. Although I'm not familiar with all of the songs nominated for Song of the Year, the ones I do know would be excellent choices. (Although there is one that I tend to favor and would be delighted if it wins!)

Alive; Natalie Grant; Bernie Herms and Nichole Nordeman; Wow Partners; Wow Partners
Blessings; Laura Story; Laura Story; New Spring Publishing (ASCAP), Laura Stories (ASCAP); Fair Trade
Celebrate Me Home; Perrys; Joel Lindsey & Wayne Haun; PsalmSinger Music; Daywind Records
Glorious Day (Living He Loved Me); Casting Crowns; Michael Bleecker, Mark Hall; Word Music/SWECS; Beach Street
Hold Me; Jamie Grace; Jamie Grace Harper Toby McKeehan Christopher Steve; Universal Music-BrentwoodBenson Tunes, Songs of Th; Gotee Records
I Smile; Kirk Franklin; Kirk Franklin, James Harris, Terry Lewis, Frederic; Bridge Building Music (BMI), Aunt Gertrude Music P; Gospocentric
I've Been Here Before; Ernie Haase & Signature Sound; Ernie Haase, Joel Lindsey, Wayne Haun; PsalmSinger Music; StowTown Records
Please Forgive Me; Gaither Vocal Band; Gerald Crabb; Chestnut Mound Music; Gaither Music Group
Who Am I; Jason Crabb; Rusty Goodman; Playin' TAG Music; Gaither Music Group
Your Great Name; Natalie Grant; Krissy Nordhoff, Michael Neale; Tow Nords Music (ASCAP), Integrity's Praise Music (BMI); Curb Records

Chris August
Chris Tomlin
Jason Crabb
Kirk Franklin
Steven Curtis Chapman

Francesca Battistelli
Kari Jobe
Laura Story
Natalie Grant

Casting Crowns
David Crowder*Band
Gaither Vocal Band
The Isaacs
Casting Crowns

Jason Crabb
Laura Story
The Isaacs

Beyond The Ashes
Dara Maclean
Royal Tailor
The City Harmonic

A complete listing of all the categories and nominees can be found here. The 43rd Annual GMA Dove Awards will take place April 19 at the Fox Theater in Atlanta.


View blog reactions

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Humble Hodgepodge

1. February 22nd is National Be Humble Day...what makes you proud? What keeps you humble?

My kids. My kids.

2. Where is the catch-all (aka dumping ground) in your house?

End of the kitchen counter and the area around my reading/laptop chair.

3. Do you make it a point to visit State/National Parks when you travel or even in your own hometown? What's your favorite?

Most of the time we do. The Grand Canyon pretty much tops the list.

4. How would you define honor?

Doing the right thing regardless of the potential for unfavorable consequences.

5. Angel's food or Devil's food-which cake do you prefer?

Be an angel and pass the devil's food cake, please! Angel food cake is like eating air. Unless you wad it up into a ball. Soooo not worth it. Give me the chocolate with a decadent icing any time.

6. What's the most recent road trip you've taken? Where did you go and how many hours did you spend in the car? Do you like to zoom to your destination without stopping or leisurely wind your way there with stops along the way? What is your car snack of choice?

Most of my road trips are to Houston. I like to get there -- or anywhere else I'm going -- as quickly and efficiently as possible. It's all about the destination. Even when we took a longer vacation to Tennessee and some of the other Southern states back in 2009, I definitely had my eye on what time we were due to arrive. I rarely snack in the car.

7. Recent headlines told how a preschool child in NC had their packed lunch from home taken away and a school lunch substituted by a school inspector who deemed the homemade lunch unhealthy. Reportedly the parent was then billed for the school lunch (chicken nugget meal) although an update to the story says the parent was not billed. The inspector was conducting a routine inspection of the classroom-he/she was not there solely to peek in the lunchboxes. The packed lunch contained a turkey and cheese sandwich, an apple juice box, a bag of chips, and a banana. You can read the story here. Your thoughts?

Don't even get me started. This is such an invasion of personal rights. It's my child and the lunch I send from home -- hands off. That lunch wasn't even that bad, and one that the child would actually eat. I'm really tired of governmental agency types thinking they can micromanage everything the average citizen does. I could make a dent in the deficit really fast by downsizing or eliminating some of these busybodies agencies.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Looking for that perfect shoe for spring? How about this one? You can have a tarantula underfoot with every step!

If you prefer one without an insect, you can find more than a dozen other footwear options in the Crazy Shoe Gallery. Talk about excess gone amok!


View blog reactions

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Blue Moon Promise

Blue Moon Promise
(Under Texas Stars)
Colleen Coble
(Thomas Nelson)
ISBN: 978-1595549150
February 2012/320 pages/$15.99

Welcome to the blog tour for Colleen's first book in a brand new series: Under Texas Stars.

"Coble is a great writer, she knows what readers want and she does not disappoint." —Romantic Times

Blue Moon Promise is a story of hope, romance, and suspense . . . immersing the reader in a rich historical tale set under Texas stars.

A love like Lucy and Nate’s only comes along once in a blue moon . . .

Lucy Marsh's worldly resources are running out, but she's fiercely determined to care for her younger brother and sister. When she discovers that their father's recent death was no accident, Lucy is eager to leave town. She accepts a proxy marriage she believes will provide safe refuge. But trouble follows her to Texas where her new husband is surprised to suddenly have a wife and children to care for.

Nate Stanton always hoped he'd marry someday, but running the family ranch meant he had no time for romance. When his father deposits Lucy Marsh—a city girl—on his doorstep, with two siblings in the bargain, he expects ranch life will send her running on the first train out of town. But Lucy is made of tougher stuff than Nate imagined. When danger moves in, Nate finds he'd give anything to protect Lucy and the children he's grown to love. Even if it means giving up his ranch.

Best-selling author Colleen Coble's novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, ACFW Book of the Year, RWA’s RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers' Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has nearly 2 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers and is a member of Romance Writers of America. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana. Visit her website at Twitter @colleencoble

I'm loving all the novels set in Texas that have been released recently. (Now if only the authors would come this way for some book-signings!) Colleen Coble always pens a good story, and this opening to her new series is no exception. Lucy and her brother and sister (Jed and Eileen) wrapped themselves around my heart immediately. Lucy is such a complex characater -- so spunky, competent and determined while at the same time overcome with insecurities. She may be tiny in stature, but she has a heart as big as the Texas sky! Nate didn't endear himself to me (or to Lucy!) initially but then, that should come as no surprise for a confirmed bachelor running a big ol' Texas ranch! It didn't take long for him to get used to having a family in his previously barren cabin life! Danger and intrigue rear their heads like a rattler poised to strike when least expected as Colleen blends just the right amount of tension with blossoming love. Don't make a Blue Moon Promise to read this; grab a copy today!

See what others on the blog tour are saying here.

Kindle Giveaway and More! Save the Date - 3/13!

To celebrate, Colleen is teaming up with her publisher Thomas Nelson for a "Blue Moon Promise" Facebook Chat party where she will giveaway a KINDLE Fire and a Texas-sized gift basket (fabulous Texas treats and fun housekeeping products)!

Click the banner above, RSVP today for the Facebook Party and mark the date on your calendar!

Invite your friends and don't miss Colleen's evening of chat, trivia, prizes, and more.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson and Litfuse Publicity as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


View blog reactions

Monday, February 20, 2012

Hail to Our First Chief

Happy Presidents Day!

Although referred to in the plural, primarily because Abraham Lincoln's birthday was also in February (February 12), Presidents Day is celebrated the third Monday in February to honor our first President, George Washington, who was born on February 22.

If you would like to learn more about this man who is called the father of our country, here are links to my reviews of a couple of books about him, Life of Washington by Anna C. Reed, a peek into his life and faith, and Washington's Lady by Nancy Moser, a wonderful book that is fiction but contains many historical details about both Martha and George Washington.


View blog reactions

Friday, February 17, 2012

From Blah to Awe

From Blah to Awe
Jenna Lucado Bishop
(Thoomas Nelson)
ISBN: 978-1400316557
February 2012/240 pages/$14.99

Have you ever felt bored with God?

Everyone, especially teenagers, struggles with being bored with God from time to time. Sometimes church services and Bible reading don’t seem that exciting, and it’s easy to get busy and not make time to pray . . . but when this happens, we are missing out!

Jenna Lucado Bishop shares her testimony and others' stories to see what a radical, living relationship with God looks like. But this book is not just based on feelings. The Bible gives steps that will help girls hunger and thirst for more of God.

This book will not only offer girls a fresh perspective, but it will also help them do a little soul-searching and discover where they are in their own lives. Plus, it will let them in on the world’s greatest secret—that the Creator of the Universe loves and cherishes them deeply and that a fulfilling relationship with Him is the most exciting they will ever have.

If Jenna Lucado Bishop is sure of anything, she is sure of this, “I have a deep calling on my life to give hope to teenage girls.” What started out as a heart to encourage teen girls has now blossomed into a ministry. Daughter of best-selling Christian author Max Lucado, Jenna has realized that she has inherited a passion for writing and speaking just like her dad. She is currently a part of the Revolve Tour, an event for teen girls that includes a line-up of Christian artists like Natalie Grant, as well as speaker and author, Chad Eastham and many more. She is the co-author, along with her dad, of You Were Made to Make a Difference and also is the author of Redefining Beautiful. Jenna has also narrated part of Thomas Nelson’s Word of Promise: Next Generation. Through all the piling projects, Jenna is driven by the thought of one more girl hearing about the love of Jesus.

Although I am obviously not a teenager, I think this book will appeal to those middle school and high school girls looking to jumpstart their faith. It is written in a fresh, conversational style and Jenna is candid about her own sin nature, which keeps the book from coming across as lofty and preachy. Throughout the chapters, readers have an opportunity to journal answers directly into the book, making this a practical take-action-now book rather than simply one to intellectually read and place on a shelf. This would be a great book for a small group to do together with a mentor.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson and Merge PR as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


View blog reactions

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Wonderful New Resource

I enjoy Gayle Roper's fiction, and now she has begun something new I am happy to share with you. If you or someone you know is walking the road of widowhood, please check out Gayle's new blog called Widows Journey, in which she shares her journey since losing her husband in 2010. Her writings are tender and will touch your heart. Those who have experienced the the death of a relationship due to divorce may also benefit from this site. A Links & Resources page will also be of value and even includes a children's book about grief.

I'm adding this to my list of resources for my Care Ministry and encourage you to pass the word to those you know who would benefit from connecting with, as Gayle says, other "sisters in sorrow."

The Widow’s Journey: when two becomes one

You can learn more about Gayle and her books at her website.


View blog reactions

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Hungry Hodgepodge

I'm thinking that Joyce must have been hungry when she made up these questions; three of them involve food or eating!

1. George Washington-Abraham Lincoln-Thomas Jefferson...who would you most like to meet and why?

It would be a toss-up. Any of those would be interesting. I guess Abraham Lincoln just because he served in such a tumultuous time. (Not that the American Revolution wasn't, but the Civil War was from within, not with another country.)

2. What's your favorite chain restaurant?

It depends on what I'm in the mood for. For steak, I like Saltgrsss Steakhouse. (Oh, so sorry, that's just a Texas chain. In fact, one of its taglin)es is "Texas to the Bone." We do like our steak here!) But if I want Mexican food, it's Chuy's -- which is kinda sad that that is now a chain. That's a central Texas icon but now they're starting to branch out. Hope it doesn't ruin them. So far, they seem to be doing okay.

3. I spied this question on the Bears at Home blog last week and she gave me permission to steal borrow it.

When you look back on your life, do you imagine you'll think about the goals you failed to meet with regret? Or will you look at what you accomplished and say: it was good?

Hopefully, I'll look back and say, "Thank you, Lord."

4. Grapefruit-take 'em or leave 'em? Given the choice between an orange and a grapefruit which would you choose? Would you prefer it served as is or squeezed into juice?

If they're from the Texas valley, I'll take them, although I do slightly prefer oranges. I like grapefruit cut up so it doesn't squirt all over the place. Actually, one of our favorite winter dishes is a fruit salad that is a mixture of grapefruit, oranges, and chopped apple.

5. When was the last time you cleaned out a closet? Is there a closet in your home that currently needs cleaning? What are you waiting for?

Too long. Is there one that doesn't?! Mary Poppins.

6. You get to have lunch with three famous people...who would you like to see round your table?

Oh, I hate these kind of questions! (No offense, Joyce!) Partly because it's hard to choose and partly because my definition of famous is different than most. But I'll choose George & Laura Bush and George Beverly Shea.

7. On a scale of 1-10 how would you rate your ability to parallel park?

Assuming 10 is the good end of the scale, I would say a 9. For some reason, that just clicked when I took driver's ed way back in high school. I don't do it often, but I generally don't have too much trouble. I was really proud of myself last summer when my kids were both with me and I pulled into a spot textbook-perfectly. I think they were even a bit impressed!

Disclaimer: This only applies to parking spaces on the right side of the street. If it's a one-way street and the spot is on the left, it's much harder. Kinda like trying to do something with my left hand. That side of my body just doesn't take directions well! LOL

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Favorite Valentine card seen this year, which I gave to my man:

I'd give up chocolate for you. That's love.

You'd never ask me to. Also love.

One more thing: Brace yourselves--the shelves at the stores will be filled with Easter candy by 9:00 am this morning!


View blog reactions

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

FIRST - Amelia's Journey

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Realms (January 3, 2012)
***Special thanks to Jon Wooten of Charisma House for sending me a review copy.***


Martha Rogers is the author of Becoming Lucy; Morning for Dove; Finding Becky; Caroline’s Choice; Not on the Menu, a part of a novella collection with DiAnn Mills, Janice Thompson, and Kathleen Y’Barbo; and River Walk Christmas, a novella collection with Beth Goddard, Lynette Sowell, and Kathleen Y’Barbo. A former schoolteacher and English instructor, she has a master’s degree in education and lives with her husband in Houston, Texas.

Visit the author's website.


For Ben Haynes it is love at first sight, but can a Boston socialite find true happiness with a cowboy from Kansas?

Once childhood friends, Ben Haynes is taken with Amelia Carlyle when he runs into her at her sister’s wedding. Although he will be returning to Kansas and life on his father’s ranch, Ben calls on Amelia several times, and they find they have more in common than they first realized. As he leaves for Kansas, they promise to write.

Back in Kansas, Ben begins to save money toward a home for Amelia even though he has not made his intentions known. He’s relying on God to make a way. Meanwhile, Amelia is presented to society and has several young men vying for her attention.

Although Ben has captured Amelia’s heart, her parents make every effort to discourage the relationship, even forbidding Amelia to correspond with him. Amelia tells Ben that she will wait for him as long as it takes, but will the love and loss they experience along the way bring them closer or drive them apart forever?

Product Details:
List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Realms (January 3, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616385820
ISBN-13: 978-1616385828


I thoroughly enjoyed the Winds Across the Prairie series, so I was delighted to learn that Martha Rogers has added to the series by writing a prequel. This story did not disappoint! Martha Rogers has juxtaposed two very different lifestyles -- high society Boston, with its cotillions and balls and expectations, and a Kansas ranch -- and tied them together with the cords of friendship between two families. I love how she portrays the characters wrestling with their faith within the confines of their roles. What does a daughter under a father's authority do when she feels her father's mandates are in opposition to God's leading? Faith, family, friendship, and love all combine in this heartwarming book. While it can be read independently of the other books in the series (also stand-alones but connected), I predict you will want to find out more about the lives of these families and their descendants!


Saturday, August 19, 1876 

Amelia Carlyle's face ached from the smile pasted on
it for the last three-quarters of an hour. Would this
ceremony never end? She balanced first on one foot and then the other to relieve the pain caused by the white satin pumps Amanda had insisted Amelia must wear.

Amanda's face glowed with the radiance of the love she had for Charles Scott Bishop, the man who became her husband today. If that love ever happened to Amelia, and she decided to marry, it'd be a small and simple wed ding without all this pomp and circumstance.

At last the minister pronounced them husband and wife, and Charles leaned forward to kiss his bride. Amelia's thoughts went immediately to the buffet to be served at the reception. Mama and Papa had spared no expense for their oldest daughter's wedding, and Amelia anticipated the spread of lobster, roast beef, croissants,  and wedding cake.

Amanda and Charles made their way back up the aisle, and Amelia dreaded walking even that short distance in her shoes, but she put on another smile and made it to the front steps of the church where carriages waited to take them to the hotel for the reception.

Once they arrived, guests mingled and  greeted the bride and groom, but Amelia found the closest table and sat down to slip off her shoes. Her white-stockinged toes wiggled in  great relief to  be free of  their bindings. She turned her back to the room to hide her most unseemly behavior, but comfort won over decorum. She lifted her skirts to run her fingers along the arch of one foot, which relaxed in contentment. Of course if anyone asked her to dance later, she may not be able to squeeze her feet back into the slippers, but she had seen no one with whom she cared to dance anyway.

“Excuse me, Miss Carlyle?”

Amelia snatched the hem of her skirt and yanked it down to cover her legs and feet. She whirled around to find herself looking up into eyes so dark brown, they were almost black. The man towered over her with broad shoul- ders that blocked any view of the room behind him. A tingling started in her toes and progressed its way to her heart. Why had she not noticed this handsome young man before? “Yes, I’m Miss Carlyle, but I do believe you have the advantage.” His smile sent even more tremors through her bones. “I . . . I don’t recall having met you before.”

“Of course you don’t. You were twelve, and I was a skinny   fourteen-year-old.  Neither  of us paid much attention to the other when we last met at my grandparents’ home for dinner after church one Sunday. My name’s Benjamin Haynes.”

Benjamin Haynes, of course, the son of her parents’ best friends of  school days, but what was he doing in Boston? His family lived in Kansas. “Oh, yes, that was a few years ago. Have you moved back here?”

He grinned, and his eyes sparkled with amusement. “No, but my parents found your sister’s wedding to be the perfect opportunity for a return trip, and I must say now I’m glad I came along.”

Heat rose in  her cheeks, and her tongue turned to mush. She simply stared back at him with what she hoped was not a stupid smile. What if he asked her to dance? Her feet crossed and rubbed against one another beneath her dress. She’d never get her feet back into those shoes.

“May I get you some refreshment?”

Amelia nodded. “A . . . a cup of punch would be nice.” As he turned to carry out the request, she groaned. Another thing she’d forgotten, no buffet table without her shoes. If she dared walk across the floor without them, her skirt would drag and give away her secret. As if in protest, her stomach grumbled and sent a wave of hunger pangs to her brain. All that food so near, yet it may as well be in another town for all the good it did her seated across the room.

Her gaze landed on Benjamin at the serving table. Although she vaguely remembered him from his last visit, he  appeared much taller and was certainly more hand- some than he had been then. His dark brown hair even curled slightly at the neckline. Of course she hadn’t been truly interested in boys at that time. Being noticed by him created a bit of delight in her now.

Benjamin returned, not only with a cup of punch, but also with a plate filled with some of her favorites from the buffet array. “I thought you might not want to cross the floor to the serving table without your shoes, so I brought it to you. I hope you like what I selected.”

Heat again filled her face. He’d noticed her shoeless feet and had sought to save her further embarrassment by being so polite. For that her stomach thanked him. “Thank you, Mr. Haynes. This will do quite nicely, but what about you? When will you eat?”

“If you’ll allow me, I’ll get my plate and rejoin you.” “I’d like that very much, thank you.” Her heart beat

in double time as he returned to the buffet and made his own selections. His broad shoulders hinted at the muscles and strength that must be hidden beneath the sleeves of the black suit he wore. The evening took on a whole new interest, and Amelia tucked her feet well beneath her skirts to keep them hidden from view.

When he returned, he sat in the chair next to hers. Miracles of miracles, no one asked to join them, and they remained alone. Her father may have a few words about that later, but for the time being, Amelia planned to enjoy every minute she could have with Mr. Benjamin Haynes.

He spread a napkin across his lap. “Tell me, Miss Haynes, what have you been doing since the last time I saw you?”

It had only been a little more than five years ago, but it may as well have been a lifetime for all Amelia could remember. Her mind a blank, she could only stare at him.

He must think her to be a complete ninny. She cleared her throat. “In school, but of what interest could that possibly be to you? I would imagine your life has been much more eventful and interesting.”

Benjamin grinned at  her and sipped his punch. He set the cup back on the table and cocked his head to one side. “My life has been herding cattle and getting them to market as well as bustin’ broncos to have horses to ride.”

“Now that sounds a lot more exciting than going to school, taking piano lessons, and learning to embroider.” She pictured him herding cattle or riding a bucking horse. An appealing image.

A young  man  approached  the table,  and Amelia cringed. The last person she wanted to see wore a deter- mined expression on his face. Rudolph, Charles’s brother, wanted to dance, but his surly attitude the night before at a family dinner had frightened Amelia in a way she couldn’t quite explain.

He  stopped  beside  Amelia  and  Benjamin.  “Miss Carlyle, may I have the honor of this dance with you?” His dark eyes held nothing but malice even though his words were polite.

She stuck a shoeless foot out from under her dress. “I’m sorry, Mr. Bishop, but I don’t have my shoes on and have decided not  to dance this evening. I’m  sure you under- stand I can’t be on the dance floor in my stocking feet.”

He glared at her for a moment, then, without a word, swiveled on his heel and strode across the room. Amelia shivered, thankful she had removed her shoes.

“I must say, that was rude.”  Benjamin frowned after the man.

Amelia nodded then smiled at  Benjamin. “He’s Charles’s brother, and I’m glad I didn’t have to dance with him.” She picked up a pastry. “Let’s enjoy ourselves and not think about rude men like Rudolph Bishop.” Indeed, she wanted to know everything she could learn about Benjamin Haynes.

Ben wanted to know more about this intriguing young woman he’d known in childhood. Until his father decided to pick up stakes and head west to start his own ranch, the  Carlyle and Haynes families had spent many week- ends together as his father and Mr. Carlyle had been close friends and schoolmates.

How thankful he was now that he had not insisted that he be left behind to help the ranch hands with the herds. If he had, he would not be sitting across from the lovely young woman in a pink dress.

“Amelia, do you remember the week my family left for Kansas? Your parents gave a wonderful farewell party for us. Of course you were only five, but I hoped you might recall that night.” If she did remember, he might find him- self in trouble as he had delighted in pulling her golden brown curls more than once just to see her reaction, and she hadn’t disappointed. She had stomped her foot and hit him each time until his mother corralled him the third time and made him stay by her side.

Amelia chewed a  piece of pastry and narrowed her eyes at him. She swallowed and pursed her lips. “Was that the time you kept pulling my curls?”

Heat rose in his face. “You do remember. I apologize for my awful behavior that evening, but you looked so cute with those long curls hanging down from that big yellow bow.”

Amelia laughed. “I forgive you, but it hurt that last time, and I wanted to cry. I wasn’t about to let you see me in tears, and I believe your mother took care of you. Mary Beth and I had fun after that.”

“Yes, Mama made sure I  stayed by her side, and I didn’t have much fun the rest of the evening. I’m glad you did though. Then your family came to the railway station to see us off on our adventure westward.” That had been some scene with both their mothers crying and their fathers promising to keep in touch.

“Oh yes, I recall how afraid I was of that big engine with its smoke and loud whistle. When it started up and began rolling on the track, I hid behind Mama’s skirt, but I saw you wave at us from the window. I thought you were so brave to move away like that with your family.”

“It was quite the adventure.” And one he would never forget. He held no regret at all for leaving Boston all those years ago.

He glanced up to see his sister headed their way. He didn’t often get to see her so dressed up with her dark hair piled on her head. He grinned when she squealed and grabbed Amelia, her brown eyes dancing with pleasure. “I’ve been looking all over for you. I should have known Ben would have you all to himself.”

Amelia hugged the girl in return. “Mary Beth, I’m so glad to see you. I spotted you at the church when we went back up the aisle. Sit down and join us.”

Benjamin shook his head and glared at Mary Beth, but she paid him no mind and plopped down in the chair on the other side of Amelia. “I’d be delighted. What has my big brother been telling you? I could reveal a few of his secrets if you’d like to hear about some of his antics.”

“We were just talking about one on the night we had that party before you left.”

“Oh, yes, that was some fun watching him get into trouble.” Mary Beth grabbed Amelia’s hands. “How I wish you could have come out to visit us, and I wish we could have come back to Boston more often. Ben almost didn’t come with us, but Pa persuaded him. I’m really sorry we haven’t kept in closer touch.”

Amelia glanced at him and grinned in a way he could only call wicked. “To think we might have missed reminiscing about old times if you’d stayed back with the cows. What a shame that would have been, Mr. Haynes.”

Again heat rose in his cheeks, but he would not let her teasing get to him. “Since we’re such old friends, call me Ben; everybody else does.”

“All right, Ben it is.” Then she turned back to his sister. “Now, tell me what it’s like living on a ranch with all those cattle and horses.”

Ben groaned. Once Mary Beth started, he’d never get a word into the conversation. He may as well just enjoy his food and listen to their prattle. At least he could sit back and show interest in what Amelia had to say without being obvious with his attraction to her.

Her chestnut hair sat piled on top of her head in an elaborate arrangement that must have taken hours to accomplish. Two  long  curls like those of long  ago hung down in the back from the curls amassed atop her head. His fingers itched to reach over and pull one of them as he had when she was five. Now seventeen, she had become a beautiful young lady with a sense of humor and a smile that could melt the heart of any man in her presence.

He blinked his eyes and shook his head as Amelia squealed with delight and clapped her hands. He stared at his sister. “What was that you said about staying in Boston?”

“Ma and Grandmama talked with me last night, and

Pa agreed. I can stay here for the social season this fall.” “Isn’t it wonderful, Ben? Mary Beth and I can do so

many things together and have fun, and I’m sure there will be lots of parties.”

Ben narrowed his eyes. “I’m sure there will be.” This was the first he’d heard of any desire from Mary Beth to come back here. She loved the ranch, or at least he’d thought so.

“What will Ma and Aunt Clara do without you?” She’d been such a big help to them that he couldn’t imagine life without her around.

“They’ll get along just fine. After all, there aren’t any more babies to care for. Gideon, Grace Ann, and Billy are old enough to care for themselves, so they don’t need me looking after them all the time.”

That was true. With his youngest brother now eight years old and in school, no more children stayed at home needing care. Ma and Aunt Clara would manage just fine. Still, he had a difficult time believing his pa would let his oldest daughter live so far away.

Amelia and Mary Beth sat with heads close together discussing all the things they wanted to do in the coming months when Mary Beth would be presented to society just as her mother and grandmother had been before her. Then a bright side occurred to him. With Mary Beth here, that could mean Ma taking more trips to see her. Pa wouldn’t want to leave the ranch, so that would leave Ben to accompany Ma on such trips.

More trips to Boston meant more opportunity to see Amelia Haynes. Of course, he’d have to gain permission from her parents, but that shouldn’t be a problem since their families were longtime friends. The future began to look brighter and brighter. This had been the best trip he’d taken in a long time, and he looked forward to many more like it—that is, if Amelia agreed to his calling on her.


View blog reactions

Monday, February 13, 2012

Sixty Acres and a Bride

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Sixty Acres and a Bride
Bethany House (February 1, 2012)
Regina Jennings


A Word from Regina:

See me laughing. That’s what I do when someone calls me an author. Yes, it’s always been my dream, but I still can’t keep from giggling over it.

Other things I am – a Christ-follower, a wife, a homeschooling mother of four, a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University, and a voracious reader.

Getting reading time isn’t easy. Seems like my family does more than our share of traveling. My husband is an insurance adjuster (I know, save the hate mail) and travels with the catastrophe team often. That’s allowed us to see a lot of the United States. True many times it’s in the middle of a hurricane or blizzard, but after spending three weeks in a hotel room with six people, you’ll brave anything to get out and see the sights – no matter how damaged they might be.

We also serve on the Missions Team at an amazing church, so we break out the passports frequently. Highlights include singing at a leper colony in India, holding church inside a Mexican prison and showing the Jesus film to a tribe in Senegal who’d never heard the gospel.

But I don’t have to go far away for unusual. My family provides plenty of colorful material with their love for practical jokes, pithy observations and strong agricultural roots. Because of the family business, a significant chunk of my life has been spent at sale barns and auctions – often behind the scales where I weigh pigs. I like to think of myself as a “redneck bluestocking” but I brought an entire marketing team’s discussion to a screeching halt when I said those words, so you didn’t hear it from me.

When I have spare time I love to talk books and quirky characters (real and fictional).


With nothing to their names, young widow Rosa Garner and her mother-in-law return to Texas and the family ranch. Only now the county is demanding back taxes and the women have only three months to pay.

Though facing eviction, Rosa can't keep herself from falling in love with the countryside and the wonderful extended family who want only her best. Learning the American customs is not easy, however, and this beautiful young widow can't help but catch wandering eyes. Where some offer help with dangerous strings attached, only one man seems honorable. But when Weston Garner, still grieving his own lost love, is unprepared to give his heart, to what lengths will Rosa go to save her future?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Sixty Acres and a Bride, go HERE.


This is an excellent debut novel full of fascinating characters. The heart of the story is patterned after that of Ruth and Boaz, but it is so much more than a retelling of that familiar tale. Regina Jennings has crafted a story full of life. Heartache and joy, hard work and celebrations, despair and hope, good and evil, misunderstandings and forgiveness, as well as faith, love and family loyalty --- all intertwine to make this a delightfully satisfying read. I look forward to more from this promising new author.


View blog reactions

Sunday, February 12, 2012

When the Smoke Clears

When the Smoke Clears
Lynette Eason
ISBN: 978-0800720070
February 2011/352 pages/February 2012

After a brush with death due to equipment failure, smokejumper Alexia Allen is ordered to take time off while the incident is under investigation. She makes a last-minute decision to recuperate at her mother's home and attend her high school reunion. Yet trouble seems to be following her, and within hours of arriving home she is confronted with murder, arson--and a handsome detective.

But the conflicts ahead are nothing compared to the ghosts of her past. As she struggles to accept and forgive her family's past, she must also decide if the secret she's been guarding for the last ten years must finally come to light.

Chock-full of the suspense and romantic tension you've come to expect from Lynette Eason, When the Smoke Clears is the explosive first book in the Deadly Reunions series.

Lynette Eason is the author of several romantic suspense novels, including Too Close to Home, Don't Look Back, and A Killer Among Us. She is a member of American Fiction Christian Writers and Romance Writers of America. A homeschooling mother of two, she has a master's degree in education from Converse College. She lives in South Carolina. Visit her website to learn more.

I became a Lynette Eason fan with her first Women of Justice novel, and I've been grabbing her books ever since! Her website's greeting "Welcome. . . to the edge of your seat!" is an apt characterization of the response her writing generates. When the Smoke Clears captivated me on page one and I could hardly put it down. She so vividly depicts a scene, ever so slowly ratcheting up the suspense, that my heart pounded and the pages fairly crackled with the tension. Fast-paced action and quickly changing scenes heighten the sense of urgency, and periodic insertions of conversations between the villain and his hirelings provide a chilling glimpse into the mind of one who is determined to let no one stand in the way of his goals. Beyond the suspenseful elements, threads woven into this multi-layered story include a daughter returning home a decade after fleeing a dangerous and dysfunctional environment, long-buried memories, forgiveness and reconciliation, and the life-changing impact of faith. The resolution tied up enough loose ends satisfy me while at the same time leaving some dangling questions that already have me eagerly anticipating the second book in this series, coming in October. Don't miss this riveting novel!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revell as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


View blog reactions

Saturday, February 11, 2012

TSMSS - One of a Kind

I've said it many times before, but it never grows old: I love George Beverly Shea. Of course, I love so many of his songs as I remember growing up and listening to him sing on the radio, watching him on the Billy Graham crusades on TV, and playing his Christmas record (yes, a 33 1/3 rpm record!). But what I love most about him is the way he radiates Christ. He is truly a man whose countenance bears witness to a life walked with God. As I've mentioned before, I've had the privilege of hearing him in person and meeting him, and that was more than 20 years ago when he was a mere whippersnapper at 80! He just turned 103 on February 1, and he still is blessing those around him.

Randy Alcorn blogged about speaking at the Billy Graham Training Center in November and seeing George Beverly Shea; he posted a video on YouTube of Mr. Shea singing a bit of his legendary song and then sharing a brief anecdote. I can't resist sharing it here. I've watched it several times and I smile every time!

This is another one of my favorites of his from "way back when." I can only imagine that this song has even sweeter meaning to him now!

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of George Beverly Shea!

Visit Amy's for more songs.


View blog reactions

Friday, February 10, 2012

Bittersweet Surrender

Bittersweet Surrender
Diann Hunt
(Thomas Nelson)
December 2011/E-book/524 KB/$9.99

The last few years have been tough, but now Carly Westlake’s life seems picture perfect. Business at her spa is up thanks to her famous chocolate facials. And Jake Mitchell—-her dreamy, teenage crush-—has moved back to Spring Creek, Vermont, with his daughter in tow. Carly’s nearly floored to learn that Jake has his sights set on winning her heart.

But when long-buried secrets threaten her business-—and her friendship with her best friend and business-partner, Tom—-Carly has to fight like crazy to keep her plans afloat. Can it be that her dream of marrying Jake Mitchell isn’t the plan God has for her life? What if God’s plan requires something totally unexpected . . . a bittersweet surrender that Carly must make before she can discover true love?

Diann Hunt writes romantic comedy and humorous women's fiction. She has been happily married forever, loves her family, chocolate, her friends, chocolate, her dog, and well, chocolate. Learn more about her on her website. She also contributes to the Girls Write Out blog with fellow authors and friends Colleen Coble, Denise Hunter, Kristin Billerbeck, and Cheryl Hodde (pen name Hannah Alexander).

I thought this sounded like a fun, lighthearted, chick-lit novel to enjoy on a dreary day, and while it definitely met those expectations, it is so much more as well. Diann Hunt has written a story that touched my heart. Carly is scarred by her experiences--breast cancer, a husband's desertion, the death of her dear friend who was also Tom's wife, and the extra pounds that her love for chocolate has wrought--and she struggles with her body image and confidence as a result. Many women will identify with the authentic emotions, frustrations, and insecurities that Carly battles. The novel isn't all drama though, as there are plenty of lighter moments, such as when Carly's step-mother moves in with her temporarily -- at least Carly hopes it's temporarily! A fun bonus is the book's setting near Smitten, the delightful town/novel created by Diann and 3 of her Girls Write Out blogging author friends, which I reviewed in early December. Whether you are looking for a book with an underlying message of faith or a simply an enjoyable read, I definitely recommend this book.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received an electronic copy of this book free from Thomas Nelson as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


View blog reactions