Tuesday, December 30, 2008

100+ Book Challenge for 2009

I'm going to try something brand new this year that I really think I will be able to accomplish. It's a reading challenge to try to read 100 books or more in the upcoming year hosted by J. Kaye's Book Blog. I knew I wanted to do one of these challenges for 2009, so I started counting on January 1, 2008 so I'd know whether or not I'd have a chance for 2009! Miraculously, I was able to read 80 books in 2008, so I think I can handle 100 books for 2009. Plus, it helps that I won't be taking any more college classes in the near future!

While I have NO idea what I'll be reading, I've already got a good idea what will be in my TBR pile. Here's a heads-up:

1. Kiss by Ted Dekker and Erin Healy--1/5/09
2. In the Shadow of the Sun King by Golden Keyes Parsons--2/17/09
3. The Voice by Bill Myers--6/8/09
4. The Falcon and the Sparrow by M.L. Tyndall--1/12/09
5. A Constant Heart by Siri Mitchell--7/29/09
6. Every Now and Then by Karen Kingsbury
7. Between Sundays by Karen Kingsbury
8. Someday by Karen Kingsbury--10/28/09
9. Sunset by Karen Kingsbury
10. Wagered Heart by Robin Lee Hatcher
11. The Perfect Life by Robin Lee Hatcher
12. A Nest of Sparrows by Deborah Raney
13. Over the Waters by Deborah Raney
14. Remember to Forget by Deborah Raney--5/4/09
15. Leaving November by Deborah Raney--5/5/09
16. A Vow to Cherish by Deborah Raney
17. Kindred Bond by Deborah Raney--10/28/09
18. A Time to Mend by Sally John and Gary Smalley
19. Lady of Milkweed Manor by Julie Klassen
20. A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman--5/13/09
21. A Passion Redeemed by Julie Lessman--5/20/09
22. The Secret of Us by Roxanne Henke
23. Learning to Fly by Roxanne Henke
24. Last Light by Terri Blackstock--6/14/09
25. Night Light by Terri Blackstock--6/20/09
26. True Light by Terri Blackstock
27. Dawn's Light by Terri Blackstock
28. The Priest by Francine Rivers--3/17/09
29. And the Shofar Blew by Francine Rivers
30. Fire by Night by Lynn Austin
31. A Light to My Path by Lynn Austin
32. A Proper Pursuit by Lynn Austin
33. A Woman's Place by Lynn Austin
34. A Test of Faith by Karen Ball
35. The Heavens Before by Kacy Barnett-Gramckow
36. The Trophy Wives Club by Kristin Billerbeck--2/23/09
37. The Moon in the Mango Tree by Pamela Ewen
38. Bon Appetit by Sandra Byrd--8/26/09
39. The Duchess and the Dragon by Jamie Carie
40. Death of a Garage Sale Newbie by Sharon Dunn
41. Elvis Takes a Backseat by Leanna Ellis
42. Doesn't She Look Natural? by Angela Hunt
43. She Always Wore Red by Angela Hunt
44. The Face by Angela Hunt--12/29/09
45. Chosen by Ginger Garrett
46. The Outsider by Ann Gabhart
47. Speak Through the Wind by Allison Pittman
48. With Endless Sight by Allison Pittman
49. The Healer's Heart by Diane Komp
50. Your Chariot Awaits by Lorena McCourtney
51. Just Jane by Nancy Moser
52. Mozart's Sister by Nancy Moser
53. The Guy I'm Not Dating by Trish Perry
54. Too Good to be True by Trish Perry
55. Where My Heart Belongs by Tracie Peterson
56. My Heart Remembers by Kim Vogel Sawyer
57. The Bunko Babes by Leah Starr Baker
58. The Road Home by Tommy Tenney
59. The Price of Freedom by Carol Umberger
60. The Mark of Salvation by Carol Umberger
61. The Promise of Peace by Carol Umberger
62. Dreaming in Technicolor by Laura Jensen Walker
63. Daring Chloe by Laura Jensen Walker
64. Reconstructing Natalie by Laura Jensen Walker
65. When the Heart Cries by Cindy Woodsmall--2/27/09
66. When the Morning Comes by Cindy Woodsmall--3/7/09
67. When the Soul Mends by Cindy Woodsmall--3/23/09
68. Leave It to Claire by Tracey Bateman
69. The Begotten by Lisa Bergren
70. The Betrayed by Lisa Bergren
71. Chocolate Beach by Julie Carobini
72. The Book of God by Walter Warengin, Jr.--10/06/09
73. Divine by Karen Kingsbury
74. A Bouquet of Love by Ginny Aiken/Ranee McCollum/Jeri Odell/Debra White Smith--1/10/09
75. Whispers Along the Rails by Judith Miller--1/17/09
76. Diary of a Teenage Girl: Becoming Me by Melody Carlson--1/19/09
77. Drake's Retreat by Wendy Davy--1/21/09
78. Daring Bride by Jane Peart--1/22/09
79. An Uncertain Dream by Judith Miller--1/27/09
80. Vengeance by Donna Dawson--2/2/09
81. Her Captain's Heart by Lyn Cote--2/3/09
82. Indigo Waters by Lisa Samson--2/10/09
83. A Tale of Three Kings--2/25/09
84. Love Finds You in Last Chance, California by Miralee Ferrell--3/14/09
85. Butterfly Trees by Gail Gaymer Martin--3/25/09
86. Sundays at Tiffany's by James Patterson--3/27/09
87. Love Finds You in Paradise, Pennsylvania by Loree Lough--4/7/09
88. A Vote of Confidence by Robin Lee Hatcher--4/13/09
89. A Clearing in the Wild by Jane Kirkpatrick--4/17/09
90. A Tendering in the Storm by Jane Kirkpatrick--4/23/09
91. A Mending at the Edge by Jane Kirkpatrick--4/29/09
92. Searching for Spice by Megan Dimaria--5/2/09
93. Waiting for Daybreak by Kathryn Cushman--5/3/09
94. End of State by Neesa Hart--5/18/09
95. A Passion Denied by Julie Lessman--5/27/09
96. Stealing Home by Allison Pittman--5/31/09
97. Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall--6/3/09
98. Angel of Wrath by Bill Myers--6/8/09
99. Stolen Innocence by Elissa Wall--6/13/09
100. Dinner with a Perfect Stranger by David Gregory--6/20/09
101. Across the Wide River by Stephanie Reed--6/28/09
102. The Light Across the River by Stephanie Reed--7/5/09
103. The Veil by Diane Noble--7/6/09
104. The Justice Game by Randy Singer--7/12/09
105. A Day with a Perfect Stranger by David Gregory--7/13/09
106. Drawing Marissa by Jessica Adriel--7/14/09
107. This Side of Heaven by Karen Kingsbury--7/23/09
108. Return to Love by Betsy St. Amant--7/26/09
109. Not Far From the Tree by Ruth Smith Meyer--8/3/09
110. The Hope of Refuge by Cindy Woodsmall--8/8/09
111. Forgiving Sean by Jessica Adriel--8/11/09
112. Priced to Move by Ginny Aiken--8/15/09
113. Letter Perfect by Cathy Marie Hake--8/16/09
114. The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper by Kathleen Y'Barbo--8/25/09
115. Piece de Resistance by Sandra Byrd--9/2/09
116. A Steal of a Deal by Ginny Aiken--9/4/09
117. Shadows of Lancaster County by Mindy Starns Clark--9/6/09
118. Chronicles of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery--9/7/09
119. The Art of Compassion by Martin Smith--9/7/09
120. Mohamed's Moon by Keith Clemons--9/10/09
121. A Cut Above by Ginny Aiken--9/13/09
122. In the Shadow of Lions by Ginger Garrett--9/16/09
123. In the Arms of Immortals by Ginger Garrett--9/21/09
124. Bo's Cafe by Bill Thrall, Bruce McNicol, & John Lynch--9/23/09
125. Lady of Light by Kathleen Morgan--9/28/09
126. The Red Siren by MaryLu Tyndall--10/3/09
127. Stretch Marks by Kimberly Stuart--10/7/09
128. If Only You Knew by Mags Storey--10/8/09
129. The Sound of Sleigh Bells by Cindy Woodsmall--10/11/09
130. Love is a Battlefield by Annalisa Daughety--10/18/09
131. Seasons of the Heart by Kay Rizzo--10/18/09
132. The Soldier's Lady by Michael Phillips--10/18/09
133. Leaving Carolina by Tamara Leigh--10/22/09
134. Diamond Place by Robin Lee Hatcher--10/24/09
135. Hidden by Shelley Shepard Gray--10/24/09
136. Talking to the Dead by Bonnie Grove--10/24/09
137. The Parkerstown Delegate by Grace Livingston Hill--10/24/09
138. Abide with Me by Delia Parr--11/3/09
139. White Picket Fences by Susan Meissner--11/7/09
140. The Swiss Courier by Tricia Goyer and Mike Yorkey--11/16/09
141. C for Victory by Joan Croston--11/17/09
142. Love Finds You in North Pole, Alaska by Loree Lough--11/19/09
143. Babylon Rising by Tim LaHaye--11/10/09
144. Stand-in Groom by Kaye Dacus--11/27/09
145. Dad in Training by Gail Gaymer Martin--11/29/09
146. The Secret by Beverly Lewis--12/7/09
147. The Cat That Made Nothing Something Again by James D. Maxon--12/10/09
148. The Familiar Stranger by Christina Berry--12/15/09
149. Face of Betrayal by Lis Wiehl and April Henry--12/21/09
150. Echoes of Love by Elaine Schulte--12/27/09
151. Letters to Darcy by Tracy Ramos--12/31/09

Ok, well, I didn't intend to make a TBR list 71 books long in the first sitting, but at least I have something to work with now starting Thursday! :o) I cannot wait to get started! I'm also planning to use this list to keep track of everything I read this year, even if I didn't post it on the original list. So, #72 til whenever is stuff that's been added or stuff that I've read that didn't start on the list in the first place.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My Ten New Year's Resolutions

1. Spend more time in the Bible.

2. Go on a diet (I say that every year.)

3. Get better organized in several areas of my life.

4. Spend more time with my family.

5. Do more book reviews next year than what I did this year.

6. Read more.

7. Get more involved in jewelry making and try to make a profit!

8. Learn a new craft.

9. Actually use my sewing machine and make something!

10. Slow down and take a breather now and then. :o)

What about you?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Crazy Eights

I found this blog over at Patrick's Place, and I couldn't resist answering these questions myself. And as Patrick said, "If you find yourself reading this, consider yourself tagged! :o)

8 TV Shows I Watch

  • Survivor
  • Bones
  • 24
  • Heroes (although I haven't been very interested in this current season)
  • Lost
  • The First 48
  • Iron Chef America
  • My Name is Earl

8 Favorite Restaurants

  • Bol a Pasta
  • O'Charley's
  • Chick-fil-A
  • Firebird's
  • Steak and Shake
  • New York Pizza Cafe (local pizza place)
  • Corky's
  • Steak Escape

8 Things that Happened to Me Today (not much has happened to me, so I'm changing this to what I've done today instead):

  • I slept in.....something that I've needed all week!
  • Finished a book
  • Watched The Bishop's Wife....one classic Christmas movie that I have never seen until today.
  • Talked to my friend, Jessie, on the phone
  • Checked my email
  • Spent far too long playing games on Facebook
  • Watched a replay of Iron Chef America--a special with Paula Deen :o)
  • Tried to figure out all of the answers for this blog

8 Things I Look Forward To

  • Going to see my friend, Jessie and her family sometime tonight
  • Seeing Trans-Siberian Orchestra in town on Tuesday night! :o)
  • My four-day weekend next weekend
  • Christmas Day
  • The New Year
  • Doing some renovations on my house (next year, hopefully)
  • Alex being finished with school
  • Having a family one day
8 Things I Pray For
  • My family
  • My friends
  • To be more like Christ
  • Those less fortunate
  • Patience
  • Purpose
  • Direction
  • Safety

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Book Review: The Shack by William P. Young/3 Stars

About the book:

Mackenzie Allen Philips' youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his Great Sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack's world forever.

In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant "The Shack" wrestles with the timeless question, "Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?" The answers Mack gets will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him. You'll want everyone you know to read this book!

My thoughts:

After reading this book, I can now see why it is so controversial. While I don't have the same opinions of it as some, I found the majority of the storyline to be completely relevant to the times we're living in today. There were times when I was reading and I just had to stop for awhile to let what I had just read soak in. What spoke to my heart the most was how much I, as a Christian, pass judgment on other people. It's been several days since I read the chapter that deals with that, and it's still not letting me go.

Two things I didn't care for.... 1) I'll admit that I did a double take when I read that God was a woman, but I understood why the author presented God in that way. And 2) I think it was completely unnecessary for swearing to be included in this book. There wasn't a lot, but it was more than I am comfortable reading when a book is labeled as "Christian fiction."

3 Stars

Southern?  No
Sass?  No

Saturday, December 13, 2008

My First Meme.....Saturday Six

I came across this site this morning, and I had never heard of a meme before in my life. But hey, it looks pretty interesting, and I think I'll try it out....

Here goes...

1. Are you more picky about your own appearance, your car’s appearance, or your home’s appearance? probably a little bit of all three

2. When it comes to clothes, at what store do you spend the most on the clothes you wear? Macy's or some other mall store.

3. You are assigned a big project at work: how close to deadline do you generally complete it? I usually pace myself so that I don't have to rush myself a whole lot in the end.

4. Take the quiz: Are You a Perfectionist?

I scored a 53%.....not nearly as much of a perfectionist as I thought I was.

5. After you finish something you are particularly proud of, a close friend makes a comment about an alternative way you could have done the same thing, and you realize that their idea is better. How are you most likely to respond, either to that person or on the inside? Most of the time when something like that happens, I admit to myself, "Why didn't I think of that?"

6. Which do you generally find the easier: finding fault in your own personality, or finding fault in the personalities of those closest to you? Both, unfortunately.


Tough questions, there!! :o)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Author Spotlight and Book Reviews: Deborah Raney

Well, I've discovered a new author. Not new to most of you, by any means, but one that I've yet to have the pleasure of reading. I've read 3 books by this author in the past 2 weeks, and I have been thoroughly impressed! Deborah Raney has written about 18 books, and I've started at the beginning, reading some of the first books that she wrote.

My first experience was with Beneath a Southern Sky. Just reading the blurbs inside the front cover really encouraged me to read it. It was like nothing I have ever read! Deborah tells a story of a young couple, the Camfields, serving as missionaries in Columbia. Very quickly into the story, there is a horrible fire in a nearby village and Daria Camfield finds out that she has lost her husband forever. She returns to her hometown in Kansas, where she eagerly awaits the birth of her child, a child that her husband will never get a chance to know. A year or so goes by, and Daria gets some shocking news. Her husband, Nathan Camfield, has been found alive. What should be a joyous reunion for the two of them is going to be pure agony once Nathan learns that Daria has remarried. How will Daria be able to choose between two men that she has loved so deeply? This book is such a remarkable story about trusting in the Lord, even when everything in you wants to move in another direction.

My next experience came with the previous book's sequel, After the Rains. This story follows Daria and Nathan's daughter, Natalie. In case you haven't read the first book, I don't want to reveal too much!! :o) However, this is another heart-wrenching story. Natalie has a wonderful best friend, Sara, who is like a sister to her. One night, Natalie makes some decisions that will forever change their lives, and will leave Natalie with a load of guilt that she wonders if she will ever be free from.

Lastly, I got to read her novella, Playing by Heart. Maddie Houser is a successful novelist that has moved from the big city of New York to a small town in Kansas. Several different things bring her to Kansas, one of them being her mother who is suffering from Alzheimer's Disease. Also, she is helping her sister remodel a house. Too bad that she's got a writing deadline to meet in the midst of it all! With all of the craziness going on in Maddie's house, her neighbor, Ginny, kindly suggests a local bed and breakfast for her to go and write. The owner, Art Tyler, is a professor and won't even be at the inn while Maddie is there writing. After her first day at the inn, she leaves Art a short note of thanks and tells him that she hopes her being there is not an inconvenience. She returns the next morning to find a note that Art has left for her. Slowly over the next couple of weeks, they get to know a bit about each other through these small notes. However, neither one realizes that they've already met each other in town!

I have loved, loved, loved each one of these books, although there is a bit of partiality toward the first one. I was thankful to have the tissue handy! I am so eager to read the rest of her books. Next up in my TBR pile by her is A Vow to Cherish and A Scarlet Cord. The big decision will be which one to start first!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Book Review: Seed of Seerling by Amy Kennedy/4 Stars

Seed of Seerling by Amy Kennedy

About the book:

An act of compassion in her childhood forces Astril and several of her fellow Seerlings into slavery to the Harkans. Once she finds that her new owner is taking her to Augur, a priest in the service of the One True God, Astril seizes the opportunity to fulfill a promise to her beloved grandmother. Augur teaches her of true sacrifice and helps her to see clearly the horrors of her family line. Her new passion and belief push her further from her destiny to become the next High Priestess of the evil Great Goddess and into the saving arms of her new God. Meanwhile, Astril is haunted by her past and shocked to find out what her future as the Seed of Seerling will require.

Toren is in constant rebellion to his grandfather, King Kortan’s plans for his future. After studying under Priest Augur for more than two harvests, the prince returns to Harkan ready to begin his service in the King’s army. The unexpected capture of a group of Seerling soldiers brings back the memory of a kindness shown him as a child. Staring into the large, gray eyes of the Seerling girl, Toren is overwhelmed with a desire to protect her. His desire to protect his new slave leads him on a journey of self-discovery and true love. Toren faces the hardest decision of his life when he finds that her past will conflict with the future he has planned.

My thoughts:

First off, let me say that I do not typically read anything in the Christian fantasy genre. However, when I read what this book was about, I was intrigued, and I was not disappointed. Amy Kennedy's debut novel was simply fabulous! 

Come to the land of the Seerlings and the Harkonians where you are taking your life into your own hands if you cross into the enemy's territory. The Seerlings have a deep heritage in an old magic that has taken hold of nearly everyone that lives in their land. Astril, a Seerling, has been borne into the bloodline of the High Priestess, and her mother greatly desires that Astril follow in her footsteps of evil. Astril's grandmother, on the other hand, desires that Astril follow the One True God.

In the Harkonian lands, Toren is the grandson of the current king. As a young boy, Astril saved his life, and he vowed that he would always protect her and not let any harm come to her. One day many years later, everything changes completely. The Seerlings and the Harkonians engage in a battle, and many of the Seerlings are taken as slaves, including Astril. Toren recognizes her, and remembers the vow he made. He begs his grandfather, the king, if he can have Astril as his own slave. The king agrees to this, and Toren takes Astril to live with the priests of the One True God. What Toren does not know is that evil is now lurking right under his nose.

As I mentioned before, I don't typically read this genre, but I know it must be good when I managed to read it in 24 hours!! I would love to read a sequel to this book if there is one planned.

4 Stars

Southern?  No
Sass?  No

**Many thanks to the author for providing a copy for review.

You can also visit Amy on ShoutLife: http://www.shoutlife.com/profile_view.cfm?uid=102238

Sunday, September 28, 2008

I've been doubly tagged...

I've been tagged by 2 fellow bloggers, Laura Davis and Caprice Hokstad, so here we go..... :o)

Here are the SIX RULES of tagging.
1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post. Link to them if possible.
5. Let each person know he or she has been tagged.
6. Let your tagger know when your entry is up.


6 Random Things About Me....

1. I missed being the Valedictorian of my Senior class by a tenth of a percent.
2. I have never broken a single bone.
3. I lived with my in-laws for the first 5 years of my marriage. Most would think that I had lost my marbles by doing that, but I truly have the greatest in-laws.
4. I've sung Southern Gospel music in a group with my parents for the past 10 years.
5. I do not like the smell of coffee AT ALL. I refuse to ever own a coffee maker, and I have only allowed one in my house on one occasion to accommodate my husband's grandparents.
6. It has always been my secret wish to own my own craft store one day.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Book Review: Sisters of Holmes County Series by Wanda Brunstetter/2 Stars

About the book:

Lose yourself in Holmes County, where romance, suspense, mystery, and faith-filled Amish ways rule the day! Martha Hostettler is concerned about the continuous attacks being made on her Amish family. With a definite motive and a myriad of methods, Luke Friesen looks like the culprit. Determined to clear his name, Martha decides to play detective. What will the search for truth cost her?

My thoughts:

I've read this entire series, and I didn't want to share my thoughts until I read all three books. Each book is based on one of three sisters in the Hostettler family. The first book tells Grace's story, the second tells Ruth's story, and the last one tells Martha's story. After reading book one, A Sister's Secret, I had very high hopes for the two remaining books because I couldn't keep my hands off of the first one. I loved the story line, and was not expecting what Grace's secret turned out to be.

The second book, A Sister's Test, dealt with Ruth's story. She is engaged to another Amish man in their community, and he feels a sense of urgency to marry Ruth as soon as possible. Ruth's faith is about to be tested to the hilt when things change that will affect the rest of her life. However, this book was such a slow read, and there were times I wanted to throw it up against the wall!! After I continued to read about all the attacks that are still happening to the Hostettler family, it was all I could do to finish the book.

Finally, book three, A Sister's Hope, shares Martha's story. I was a bit intrigued to know how the author would wrap up the story just because I felt that it had been going on far too long. Martha decides that she is going to play detective to try to solve the mystery of who is responsible for the attacks on her family. Meanwhile, she's starting to fall for the community's resident bad boy, Luke. Martha's father detests Luke, and if he knew that Martha cared for Luke and he for her, he would be in an uproar. Luke wants to help Martha figure out who's the guilty party so he can clear his name with Martha's father since he suspects Luke is the one responsible.

Thoughts on the series as a whole:

I really enjoyed the first book, but that was about it. I just could not get interested in the storyline anymore once I started the second book. To have acts of vandalism committed against a family for 2 years solid with no answers just doesn't make sense, especially in the last 2 books where they seemed to happen more frequently. In addition to that, I found the characters to have hardly any depth, and the conversations were so simplistic and seemed to lack emotion. Just to be fair, I want to try to read another book or two by this author because I have heard good things about her past novels. We shall see, I suppose.....

Southern?  No
Sass?  No

2 Stars

**Special thanks to the publisher for providing these books for review.


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Book Review: Come to Me by Laura Davis/5 Stars

This month, the CFRB is featuring Come to Me by Laura Davis

About the book:

Journey back in time and rediscover the Jesus you never knew. See Him through His mother's eyes as she tells the story of her son. Share in Mary's joy at the birth of the Saviour and mourn with her at the foot of the cross. Come to Me is a story about the faith and obedience of a young girl whose absolute trust in God set in motion a chain of unprecedented events. It is a moving tale of the life of Christ from the mother who raised him to become the Saviour of the World. (Taken from Bordersstores.com)

My thoughts:

Come to Me was like no other story that I have ever read that portrayed the life of Christ. At first, I admit that I was a bit skeptical because biblically-based historical fiction is one of my favorite genres to read and I've read so many versions of Christ's story as told by other authors. But then, there's Laura Davis...... She wrote about the life of Christ through Mary's eyes, and it was simply amazing! When I finished it, I couldn't help but think to myself, "This book would be such a great witnessing tool! If I knew someone who was lost, I would just hand them this book!" There is so much Scripture packed into this book, but it is not preachy. It is just told as a story from Mary's point of view, and as you are reading, it almost feels like you're there.

Mary's character is so engaging, a little bit of a tease, as well as a bit like the girl next door. I enjoyed getting more of a glimpse of what might have been Jesus' younger years before the incident at the temple when he was about His Father's business. Joseph and Mary's relationship also seemed more like how I would picture them....young and in love, but at the same time, nervous about their duties as parents to the Son of God.

So many other portrayals of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus seem to be uptight (whether it's in a book or movie format), but this book is so refreshing, realistic, and natural. I highly recommend this book, and I look forward to reading more from Laura Davis in the future!

5 Stars!

Southern?  No
Sass?  No

**Many thanks to the author for providing a copy for review.


If you'd like more information about Laura Davis and her debut novel, please visit her website at

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Book Review: When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Ice Cream by Laura Jensen Walker/4 Stars

About the book:

Funny woman Laura Jensen Walker has had her share of challenges--from surviving cancer to dealing with the untimely deaths of her brother and father. But whatever life throws her way, she laces it with determination, humor, faith, and a big bowl of ice cream. In this candid book, Laura offers a unique take on tough times and stressful days in one funny and flavorful story after another. Her delightful sense of humor will touch readers with the healing power of laughter, and her perceptive insights will leave readers wanting a second scoop, as she shows them that God is in control through all the rocky roads of life.

My thoughts:

First of all, let me just say that Laura Jensen Walker is great with humor!! I had already read one of her books, Dreaming in Black and White, and I thoroughly enjoyed it! She has a great knack of using just the right words to make you laugh and smile.

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Gets Ice Cream is a collection of personal stories that Laura has put together about different events in her life. I could definitely identify with her college experiences, especially with not knowing what I want to do with my life (choosing a major is not an easy thing). But I loved reading about her travels in Europe, whether it was because of work or going over there for pleasure. The stories weren't always about the good times. She talks about her struggles with breast cancer and deaths in her family. But through it all, there was always a bowl of ice cream nearby.

I typically don't read a lot of non-fiction, but the title and book cover alone compelled me to read this book. It was wonderful, light reading that gave me a good laugh at the end of some of my crazy days lately.

4 Stars

Southern?  No
Sass?  Some

Friday, August 29, 2008

Book Review: Splitting Harriet by Tamara Leigh/5 Stars

About the book:

Once upon a time, I was a rebel. And I have the tattoo to prove it.

Then there was the spiked hair–the shade of which changed monthly–“colorful” language that can’t be found in your everyday sixteen-count crayon box, a pack-a-day habit, less-than-modest wardrobe, and an obsession with guitar-trashing, drum-bashing music.

Did I mention I’m also a preacher’s kid? That’s right. And like the prodigal son after whom I modeled myself, I finally saw the error of my ways and returned to the fold.

Today my life is all about “lead me not into temptation.” When I’m not serving as Women’s Ministry Director at my father’s church, I’m working at Gloria’s Morning Café. I even have worthy goals, like saving enough money to buy the café, keep my Jelly Belly habit under control, and to never again hurt the people I love. No more parties. No more unsavory activities. And no more motorcycles! You’d think I was finally on the right track.

But since my dad’s replacement hired a hotshot church consultant to revive our “dying” church, things aren’t working out as planned. And now this “consultant” says I’m in need of a little reviving myself. Just who does this Maddox McCray think he is anyway? With his curly hair that could use a good clipping, tattoo that he makes no attempt to hide, and black leather pants, the man is downright dangerous. In fact, all that’s missing is a motorcycle. Or so I thought… But if he thinks he’s going to take me for a ride on that 1298cc machine of his, he can think again. Harriet Bisset is a reformed woman, and she’s going to stay that way. Even if it kills me!

My thoughts:

Meet Harriet Bisset….. prodigal daughter of a preacher and lover of Jelly Bellys. She also happens to be the director of women’s ministries at the church where her father was the former pastor, and she’s doing her best to keep things from changing too much. Who needs a contemporary worship service when you’ve got a beautiful organ and an organist that’s been faithful to play it for 30 years? Unfortunately for Harri, the church board members have hired a consultant to bring the church into the 21st century.

When consultant Maddox McCray arrives, Harri doesn’t care for him one bit. But when he starts revitalizing the women’s ministry activities, Harri has to admit that maybe he has a clue about what he’s doing. Oh, and how she doesn’t want to have feelings for him, but that’s easier said than done.

This book was so enjoyable, and right up my alley. I loved the occasional touches of humor, and the depth of Harri's character. She tries so hard to please God, and to keep herself above reproach, because Lord knows, she's already had enough of that in her life. Mix Harri's character with all the struggles going on at her church, and you've got a great book that really makes you think. Being a former PK myself, it's not an option to be away from prying eyes and gossip circulating about you and your family. Tamara Leigh did an excellent job of revealing Harri's conflicting emotions about what Harri would prefer to see happen versus what was best for the church as a whole.

5 Stars

Southern?  No
Sass?  Yes, loaded with it!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Book Review: Deep in the Heart of Trouble by Deeanne Gist/5 Stars

About the book:

Essie Spreckelmeyer is the last woman anyone in Corsicana, Texas, expected to see with a man on her arm. Independent and outspoken, she’s known more for riding bicycles in outrageous bloomers than for catching a man’s eye.

And the last man who seems willing to give her a second glance is Tony Morgan, newly hired at Spreckelmeyer’s oil company. The disinherited son of an oil baron, Tony wants most to restore his name and regain his lost fortune--not lose his heart to this headstrong blonde. She confounds, contradicts, and confuses him. Sometimes he doesn’t know if she’s driving him toward the aisle or the end of his rope.

That’s how life is ... Deep in the Heart of Trouble.

My thoughts:

I thought this book was a wonderful conclusion to Essie's story! While I didn't think there was as much humor in this book as there was in the last one (or in her first two novels), I did still find myself laughing in quite a few places. The other characters in the story were portrayed beautifully, especially Mrs. Lockhart with her romantic novels. :o) Also, there was a bit of a twist at the end that I did not see coming. Part of me almost wishes there was another book about this wonderful town in the works!! I'd love to read about Anna Morgan. Sadly, though, I think we've heard the last from the town of Corsicana.

Southern? No
Sass?  Yes

5 Stars

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Book Review: Ruby Among Us by Tina Ann Forkner/4 Stars

About the book:

Lucy DiCamillo is safely surrounded by her books, music, and art–but none of these reclusive comforts or even the protective efforts of her grandmother, Kitty, can shield her thoughts from the mother she can barely recall. Lucy senses her grandmother holds the key, but Kitty seems as eager to hide the past as Lucy is eager to find it.

From the streets of San Francisco and Sacramento to the lush vineyards of the Sonoma Valley, Lucy follows the thread of memory in search of a heritage that seems long-buried with her mother, Ruby.

What she finds is as enigmatic and stirring as it is startling in this redemptive tale about the power of faith and mother-daughter love.

My thoughts:

I generally shy away from reading books by a brand new author, but I was glad I made an exception in this case. Ruby Among Us is a positively beautiful story! I loved the vivid descriptions throughout the book of the gardens, the vineyards, and the town of La Roseleda itself. The author kept me turning the pages waiting to discover secrets that had been kept in this family for many years.

The only thing I thought lacking in this book was the Christian message, which was just far too subtle for my tastes. I noticed the themes of grace and forgiveness, but there was very little shared about personal relationships with Christ.

3 Stars

Southern? No
Sass?  No

**Many thanks to the publisher for providing a copy for review.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Look what happens when you unpack!!

Well, since Wednesday, my book/craft room has made a dramatic improvement! I can actually see the floor, and there are far less boxes in there! :o) I managed to unpack stuff that was still packed from when Alex and I moved last year into an apartment. Don't you just love it when you find something that you forgot you had? It makes me feel like I've just gone on a really good shopping trip, if you know what I mean.... :o) I think I managed to find all my art supplies that were just hidden away for the longest time. Makes me wanna break out the pencils, ink, and paper and get to drawing or something......hopefully, I'll have some time for that soon because I'm really itching to do it.

Unpacking is not all that I wanted to share with you in this post. Alex asked me to cook something for breakfast this morning so that he'd have something to take to work for a Bible study that he's part of. So, I got this recipe from my mother-in-law last night, and I was just praying it would be a success. I'm always a little nervous about cooking new things, especially when I'm not there to try it myself. Anyway, it was a Honey Bun Cake, and apparently, it was a hit! :o) Here's the recipe, if you're interested.....

Honey Bun Cake

Cake Mixture
1 box yellow cake mix
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sour cream
4 eggs

Nut Mixture
1 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans)
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup brown sugar

Glaze Mixture
3/4 cup milk
3 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray 9' X 13' pan with Pam cooking spray. Mix all cake ingredients together. Pour half of cake mixture into pan. Mix nut mixture, and sprinkle 1/3 of it on top of cake mixture already in pan. Pour in remaining half of cake mixture. Sprinkle another 1/3 of nut mixture on top of cake mixture. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes. Upon removing from oven, use the end of a wooden spoon to poke holes in top of cake. Mix glaze mixture together, then pour on top of cake and let it seep through the holes. Sprinkle remaining 1/3 mixture on top of glaze. Enjoy!!

Hopefully, there'll be at least one piece left that he can bring home to me because I really would like to try it! :o)

As far as books go, I'm in the middle of two right now--True Valor by Dee Henderson and Ruby Among Us by Tina Ann Forkner (which I mentioned in my last post). Both seem to be taking a lot of time to get into, in my opinion. I hope they'll pick up soon because I'm really struggling to keep reading them!!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Tryin' to make it through the days....

Let me just tell ya....things are busy for me!! Alex and I have moved into our new house (YEA!!!), and are still trying to get settled in. My craft/book room is still a mess, and hasn't even been completely unpacked yet, but it's getting there. Meanwhile, summer classes at school started a week ago, and I'm just trying to keep up! Not with school per se, but with school, the house, the dogs, my job, extra jobs (jewelry making and calligraphy and such), etc. Needless to say, I have been quite busy. :o)

In spite of everything, though, I've managed to read a few pretty good books. I've gotten caught up with Deeanne Gist's books (finished The Measure of a Lady and Courting Trouble a few weeks ago), and I enjoyed both of them immensely!! She's got a new book that just came out (Deep in the Heart of Trouble) that I can't wait to read. :o) In addition to those, I've also managed to read Let Them Eat Cake by Sandra Byrd and Split Ends by Kristin Billerbeck, both of which were also wonderful. Both of them are probably classified as chick lit, if I had to guess a genre. Thankfully, there will be a sequel released some time this summer for Let Them Eat Cake--that book was just TOO GOOD to not have a sequel so I can find out what happened to the main character!!!

Right now, I'm working on Ruby Among Us by Tina Ann Forkner. This book was just released a few weeks ago, and I have already come across some great reviews. I can't wait to finish it! :o)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Slacking bad....

I feel like such a slacker for not posting on here since the end of March!! I have a good excuse though. Alex and I have been househunting for about 2 months now, and we've finally found a house!!!! :o) I am so excited to own my first home!! YAY!! We're scheduled to close next Friday, so you can imagine everything that's going on where we're living now......lots of boxes, newspaper, and stuff to pack. Fortunately, we've already got lots of people that are willing to help us move, and we are so thankful.

In other news.....school is almost over for the semester for Alex and me. It's been tough keeping up with all of our schoolwork with all the house stuff butting in. Last final for me is scheduled for May 1, and Alex has his last one sometime early that same week, I believe. Be praying that we both have good grades at the end of the semester!!! :o)

In spite of all of this, I've managed to get some reading squeezed in, too. :o) Here's some of the stuff that I've recently finished:

I can't wait until next month because I'll have a break from school, and a big chance to get caught up on some of the series that I've been wanting to tackle!! Until then, I'm going to try to read Love Takes Flight by Jane Peart and Three Days by Melody Carlson--both were recently checked out from the library.

I guess that's all for now! See ya next time!!


Currently listening to--Orphans of God by the Talley Trio (can't seem to get this song off my
mind lately)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Book Review: Let Me Fly by Elisa Mayo/4 Stars

About the book:

She wrestles with a decision that will set her feet onto a path from which there is no return. As she stands on the threshold of choosing her way, she faces the question every person wrestles with at some point in her life—which way is the right way? Let Me Fly takes the reader through the joys, heartaches, and victories of discovering God's chosen path. This memorable story is filled with unforgettable characters that mold Celia and support the budding woman as she learns the hard lesson of where the path of the world leads. Will Celia marry the dark, handsome Vince and travel the world with a man claiming a never-ending love? Or will she wait for a different kind of security? Will her dream of happiness be crushed by an adulterous affair?

You will share Celia's life as if it were your own, applauding her happiness and crying when life leaves her broken. And as the Lord resurrects Celia from the ashes of her own crushed spirit, you will remember a time when He did the same for you. Let Me Fly proves to be a refreshing story of love and life, with a back-drop amid the twinkling lights of the city and the refreshing change of pace of small town country living.

My thoughts:

As a teenager, Celia Martin yearns to be free to live a life not dictated by her surroundings. She's grown up in a small-town farm community, and knows that when she gets old enough, she's going to the big city. Fast forward a few years and you'll find a very successful businesswoman who knows that something big is missing in her life. She's also got a coworker that is very interested in her, but she struggles with decisions concerning him. Through all of this, God seems so very far away to her.

I have never read a book that explored so many different emotions in a person's life. There's love, hate, loss, hurt, and I was feeling all this right along with Celia. All the while, though, she knows that her Heavenly Father has not forgotten her just like He doesn't forget any of His children.

"Let Me Fly" is a definite must-read!

4 Stars

Southern?  I think so...???
Sass?  No

**Many thanks to the author for providing a copy for review.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Book Review: Return to Me by Robin Lee Hatcher/5 Stars

About the book:

When Roxy Burke left home for Nashville, she swore she wouldn't come back until she was a star. But it's desperation that drives this prodigal back to her family, and no one is prepared for what happens next.

Roxy has crashed and burned. She's squandered an inheritance, lived a wild life, and wasted her talent. Desperate and ashamed, she now must return to her father and sister, neither of whom she's talked to in seven years.

Roxy's father welcomes his daughter with love and tenderness. But his easy acceptance is hard on Roxy's sister. After years of being the dutiful daughter, Elena feels resentment and anger toward her wayward sister.

Even more problematic is the reaction of Roxy's former boyfriend. Once a rebel, Wyatt has given his life to Christ and plans to enter the ministry. He and Elena are engaged, but Roxy's return raises questions that could mean the end of Elena's perfect future.

The Burke family faces the return of the prodigal and must reach out for healing. Will they each be able to accept God's grace?

My thoughts:

Roxy Burke has messed up bad. With almost no goodbyes, she leaves her whole life in Boise for a new life in Nashville hoping to become the next big country star. Now, seven years later, she's squandered everything, especially her inheritance, and she's no country music star. She's had no contact with her family in Boise, but returning there is really the only choice that she has. Because of the lack of contact, Roxy is completely surprised when she finds that her older sister, Elena, is now engaged to Roxy's old boyfriend, Wyatt, and a wedding is about to take place.

Now, shift to the other side of the story. Elena can't believe all the attention that Roxy's getting now that she's home. She's the modern day prodigal son. She's completely messed up her life, while Elena has worked hard for everything she's ever gotten. Elena feels like no one's giving her any credit, and she's everything short of being flat out rude to her sister. And then, of course, she questions Wyatt if any of his former feelings for Roxy have returned now that she's back home.

I saw myself relating to Elena's feelings throughout this entire book. While there were times that I wanted to beat her upside the head, I knew she had to go through the phases that she did to come to a point of forgiveness. Robin is one of my favorite authors, and every time I read something by her, that book seems to become my new favorite! This book is no exception. I hope she continues with the series (A Carol for Christmas was the first), and maybe delve into Elena's future.

5 Stars

Southern?  A little
Sass?  No

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Welcome to blogging...

Well, I can officially say I've joined the rest of the blog universe!! :o) I've been wanting to start my own blog for awhile now, and I've somehow managed to find the time to do it. Most of the stuff that I put on here will be about books since it seems like I've been reading more lately than ever before. But you will see the occasional musical recommendation or hopefully, something else interesting. ;o)

So, with that said, here's what's crossed my path lately.....

Just finished reading--The Ishbane Conspiracy by Randy Alcorn
Currently reading--The Briton by Catherine Palmer

Currently listening to--Talley Trio/Rise Above 

Simply Sara (Plain and Simple)