Friday, November 27, 2009

Book Review: Stand-in Groom by Kaye Dacus/5 Stars

About the book:

When wedding planner Anne Hawthorne meets George Laurence, she thinks she's found the man of her dreams. But when he turns out to be a client, her "dream" quickly turns into a nightmare. Will Anne risk her heart and her career on this engaging Englishman? George came to Louisiana to plan his employer's wedding and pose as the groom. But how can he feign affection for a supposed fiance when he's so achingly attracted to the wedding planner? And what will happen when Anne discovers his role has been Stand-In Groom only? Will she ever trust George again? Can God help these two believers find a happy ending?

My thoughts:

Romance stories are not typically my cup of tea. When I first started reading fiction a lot, they were, but I no longer go out of my way any more to read a romance. Well.....I'm glad I decided to make an exception for Stand-in Groom! This is a romance done right!

Anne's career choice alone really makes this book stand out. I had a brief desire at one point in my life to be a wedding planner, but now that I actually know what's involved, plus reading how Anne practically runs herself ragged day after day.....let's just say that I'll leave that job to the professionals. I loved how she really cared for each one of the brides that she worked with, so much so that she would drop everything at a moment's notice to help one of them through a crisis.

And then, there's George.... My, my, my! He set my heart to flutterin' from the moment he first met Anne. Initially, his part in the story was a little confusing, especially trying to distinguish between the role he was trying to play and the person he really was, but things quickly became easy to follow. Oh, and did I mention that he's British? And such a perfect gentleman? Wow!

Parts of the story were slightly predictable, but I was genuinely surprised a couple times along the way. I also appreciated how the romance progressed slowly throughout the book and not just in one big lump; it just made the story that much more believable.

All that's left to say is that I will definitely be reading more from Kaye Dacus! This was an impressive debut novel, and I have no doubt that the rest of this series will be just as exceptional! Bravo!

5 Stars

Southern?  Yes
Sass?  No

Stand-in Groom is Book One of the Brides of Bonneterre series by Kaye Dacus

Monday, November 23, 2009

2010 100+ Book Reading Challenge

Yep, I'm signing up for this challenge again! 2009 was my first year ever to challenge myself to read 100 books. I'm not quite there yet (I think I'm around 87 or 88 right now), but I'm so very close. I am going to change a few things, though, regarding the goals that I set.

First of all, I am not going to pre-select books to read for 2010. That got me nowhere fast for 2009. So, for 2010, I'm going to let the wind take me where it will regarding what I decide to read.

Next, between blog tours and other required reading, it was hard to pick up a book to read that had no strings attached and enjoy it for what it was. So for 2010, I plan to do a lot more pleasure reading and a lot less required reading. (I'm excited about that already! :o)

This post will be home base for this challenge, and all the books that I read will be recorded here. Wish me luck!

1. The Choice by Suzanne Woods Fisher--1/2/10
2. The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen--1/8/10
3. A Sinister Silence by Jane Peart--1/9/10
4. Outlaw Bride by Lori Copeland--1/10/10
5. A Shattered Life, An Amazing God by Madeline A. Spencer--1/15/10
6. Michal by Jill Eileen Smith--1/21/10
7. Burn by Ted dekker and Erin Healy--1/26/10
8. Beguiled by Deeanne Gist and J. Mark Bertrand--1/29/10
9. A Place Called Bliss by Ruth Glover--1/31/10
10. The Pastor's Wife by Jennifer AlLee--2/4/10
11. Texas Heat by Debra White Smith--2/6/10
12. A Kiss for Cade by Lori Copeland--2/11/10
13. Abigail by Jill Eileen Smith--2/20/2010
14. Gardenias for Breakfast by Robin Jones Gunn--2/21/2010
15. The Parting by Beverly Lewis--2/22/2010
16. Plain Jayne by Hillary Manton Lodge--2/25/2010
17. Fit to Be Tied by Robin Lee Hatcher--3/2/2010
18. June Bug by Chris Fabry--3/6/2010
19. Torch Red by Melody Carlson--3/7/2010
20. Hangman's Curse by Frank Peretti--3/8/2010
21. One Smooth Stone by Marcia Lee Laycock--3/12/2010
22. Halfway to Forever by Karen Kingsbury--3/14/2010
23. Wind by Calvin Miller--3/16/2010
24. Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa by Melanie Dobson--3/19/2010
25. The Bride Bargain by Kelly Eileen Hake--3/22/2010
26. Heart of Stone by Jill Marie Landis--3/24/2010
27. Above All Things by Deborah Raney--3/26/2010
28. Sixteen Brides by Stephanie Grace Whitson--4/2/2010
29. Asking for Trouble by Sandra Byrd--4/4/2010
30. The Bride Backfire by Kelly Eileen Hake--4/8/2010
31. The Desires of Her Heart by Lyn Cote--4/15/2010
32. Her Inheritance Forever by Lyn Cote--4/22/2010
33. Her Mother's Hope by Francine Rivers--4/24/2010
34. A Stranger's Wish by Gayle Roper--4/24/2010
35. No Place for a Lady by Maggie Brendan--4/28/2010
36. Petticoat Ranch by Mary Connealy--5/1/2010
37. Calico Canyon by Mary Connealy--5/3/2010
38. Gingham Mountain by Mary Connealy--5/8/2010
39. Paper Roses by Amanda Cabot--5/10/2010
40. A Woman Called Sage by DiAnn Mills--5/13/2010
41. Love Finds You in Bridal Veil, Oregon by Miralee Ferrell--5/16/2010
42. One Perfect Gift by Kathleen Morgan--5/16/2010
43. Wanted by Shelley Shepard Gray--5/17/2010
44. Refuge on Crescent Hill by Melanie Dobson--5/22/2010
45. Almost Forever by Deborah Raney--5/27/2010
46. A Matter of Character by Robin Lee Hatcher--5/28/2010
47. The Winter Pearl by Molly Noble Bull--5/29/2010
48. The Sheriff's Surrender by Susan Page Davis--6/1/2010
49. Deceit by Brandilyn Collins--6/3/2010
50. Though Waters Roar by Lynn Austin--6/8/2010
51. Love on a Dime by Cara Lynn James--6/14/2010
52. Through Thick and Thin by Sandra Byrd--6/16/2010
53. Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico by Lena Nelson Dooley--6/22/2010
54. Chasing Lilacs by Carla Stewart--6/27/2010
55. In a Heartbeat by Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy--6/28/2010
56. The Gunsmith's Gallantry by Susan Page Davis--7/5/2010
57. The Sister Wife by Diane Noble--7/6/2010
58. A Rose for Melinda by Lurlene McDaniel--7/8/2010
59. The Other Daughter by Miralee Ferrell--7/8/2010
60. Angel's Den by Jamie Carie--7/11/2010
61. The Road Winds On by Francena Arnold--7/11/2010
62. Touching the Clouds by Bonnie Leon--7/13/2010
63. Shattered Dreams by Irene Spencer--7/16/2010
64. Predator by Terri Blackstock--7/24/2010
65. Brink of Death by Brandilyn Collins--7/26/2010
66. The Gifted Sophmores by Terri Blackstock--7/30/2010
67. Adrienne by Judy Baer--8/1/2010
68. Light of My Heart by Ginny Aiken--8/2/2010
69. Adam by Ted Dekker--8/3/2010
70. Stain of Guilt by Brandilyn Collins--8/7/2010
71. Forgotten by Melody Carlson--8/8/2010
72. The Price of Freedom by Carol Umberger--8/9/2010
73. The Mark of Salvation by Carol Umberger--8/14/2010
74. Masquerade by Nancy Moser--8/20/2010
75. Her Daughter's Dream by Francine Rivers--8/27/2010
76. Love Finds You in Victory Heights, Washington by Tricia Goyer and Ocieanna Fleiss--8/27/2010
77. Jillian Dare by Melanie M. Jeschke--8/30/2010
78. Where My Heart Belongs by Tracie Peterson--9/3/2010
79. Choosing to SEE by Mary Beth Chapman and Ellen Vaughn--9/6/2010
80. The Vigilante's Bride by Yvonne Harris--9/7/2010
81. For Time and Eternity by Allison Pittman--9/9/2010
82. The Bride Blunder by Kelly Eileen Hake--9/13/2010
83. Fighting for Bread and Roses by Lynn A. Coleman--9/14/2010
84. Making Waves by Lorna Seilstad--9/20/2010
85. The Seeker by Ann Gabhart--9/27/2010
86. A Hope Undaunted by Julie Lessman--9/28/2010
87. Judgment Day by Wanda L. Dyson--9/29/2010
88. The Dead Rise First by Ragan/McLaughlin--9/30/2010
89. Weaving a Future by Susan Page Davis--10/01/2010
90. The Sunroom by Beverly Lewis--10/02/2010
91. Dated Jekyll, Married Hyde by Laura Jensen Walker--10/03/2010
92. The Lumberjack's Lady by Susan Page Davis--10/07/2010
93. Menu for Romance by Kaye Dacus--10/09/2010
94. Over the Waters by Deborah Raney--10/09/2010
95. Hearts Twice Met by Freda Chrisman--10/09/2010
96. Sooner or Later by Vickie McDonough--10/10/2010
97. Banking on Love by Janice A. Thompson--10/10/2010
98. Mozart's Sister by Nancy Moser--10/10/2010
99. The Waiting by Suzanne Woods Fisher--10/16/2010
100. I Am Nujood, Age 10, and Divorced by Nujood Ali--10/17/2010
101. Forgiven by Shelley Shepard Gray--10/18/2010
102. Winter's Awakening by Shelley Shepard Gray--10/20/2010
103. A Man of His Word by Kathleen Fuller--10/22/2010
104. Grace by Shelley Shepard Gray--10/24/2010
105. Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar--10/29/2010
106. Love Finds You in Charm, Ohio by Annalisa Daughety--10/31/2010
107. The House on Malcolm Street by Leisha Kelly--10/31/2010
108. An Honest Love by Kathleen Fuller--11/03/2010
109. Plain Perfect by Beth Wiseman--11/10/2010
110. Plain Pursuit by Beth Wiseman--11/20/2010
111. Plain Promise by Beth Wiseman--11/22/2010
112. Plain Paradise by Beth Wiseman--11/24/2010
113. Anna's Return by Marta Perry--12/05/2010
114. Anne by Muriel Canfield--12/06/2010
115. True Light by Terri Blackstock--12/12/2010
116. Dawn's Light by Terri Blackstock--12/19/2010
117. A Plain and Simple Christmas by Amy Clipston--12/20/2010
118. Seek Me With All Your Heart by Beth Wiseman--12/21/2010
119. The Blacksmith's Bravery by Susan Page Davis--12/26/2010
120. Sunset by Karen Kingsbury--12/27/2010

Saturday, November 21, 2009

FIRST Wild Card Tour: Love Finds You in Lonesome Prairie, Montana by Tricia Goyer and Ocieanna Fleiss

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 authors are:
and the book:

Summerside Press (December 1, 2009)

***Special thanks to Amy Lathrop of LitFUSE Publicity Group for sending me a review copy.***


Tricia Goyer was named Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference "Writer of the Year" in 2003. Her book Night Song won Book of the Year from ACFW in the Long Historical Fiction category. Her book Life Interrupted: The Scoop On Being a Young Mom was a Gold Medallion Finalist. Tricia has written hundreds of articles, Bible Study notes, and both fiction and non-fiction books.

Visit the author's website.

Ocieanna Fleiss is a published writer and has edited six of Tricia Goyer's historical novels. She lives with her husband and their four children in the Seattle area. Connect with Ocieanna on Facebook!

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Summerside Press (December 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1935416294
ISBN-13: 978-1935416296


The sound of little girls’ voices and the sight of the sun streaming through the tall, second-story window of the Open Door Home for Destitute Girls, a privately owned orphanage on upper Manhattan, told nineteen-year-old Julia Cavanaugh that the day had started without her. Julia, an orphan herself, now running the place for the owner, brushed a strand of dark hair from her eyes. She submitted to a second yawn as a twelve-year-old girl hopped onto her bed.

“He’s gonna ask her to marry him, don’t you think, Miss Cavanaugh?”

“Oh, Shelby.” Julia wiped the sleep from her eyes and smiled into the freckled face staring eagerly at her. “Give me a moment to wake before you go asking such things.” Julia stroked the girl’s cheek, her heart seeming to double within her chest with love for the youngster.

The embroidery sampler she’d fallen asleep working on still lay at the end of her bed. She picked it up and eyed the image of a small house she’d copied from Godey’s Lady’s Book. Above the house, she’d stitched the words Home Sweet Home in fancy script. Gazing around the broad room lined with small metal cots and bustling with little-girl chatter, Julia noted the embroidered pillowslips, carefully pressed—albeit dingy—curtains, and dandelions smiling from scavenged jam-jar vases. She’d done her best to make the room pleasant for the girls—and herself. She glanced at their faces and smiled, gladly embracing her role as caretaker.

A less-than-subtle “ahem” from Shelby reminded Julia she’d been asked a question. She glanced at her young charge, still perched on the end of her bed. “What did you ask?”

“Finally.” Shelby eyed her with mock frustration. “I said, do you think they will get married—Mrs. Hamlin and Mr. Gaffin? Haven’t you noticed the way they look at each other?” Shelby’s cheeks hinted of red. Her golden hair was already fixed in a proper bun, her hands and face washed, and her simple dress clean and pressed despite its patches and stray threads.

“Shelby Bruce.” Julia shook her head, as Shelby’s two-year-old sister Beatrice wiggled onto Julia’s lap with a squeal. Julia planted a firm kiss on the top of Bea’s head.

“Married? I don’t think so,” Julia continued. “Mrs. Hamlin would’ve told us—told me—if she was being courted. Mr. Gaffin’s just an old family friend.” Julia wondered where on earth the girl got the notion that their headmistress wished to marry.

Although they have been spending a lot of time together. Julia pushed the thought out of her mind as little Bea shuffled to a stand, planting her pint-sized feet on Julia’s thighs. “Fammy fend!” She pointed a chubby finger at her older sister, Shelby.

“All right, Bea.” Julia plopped the toddler on the floor and swiveled her toward the small bed she shared with Shelby. “Time to straighten your bed.” Then Julia eyed the twins. “Charity, Grace, would you two virtuous girls fetch fresh water for the basin?”

Shelby pushed away from the bed, wrinkled her brow, and thrust her hand behind her as if to support her back—a perfect imitation of their middle-aged headmistress. “Now where did I put my spectacles?” Shelby clucked her tongue as she waddled forward.

Laughter spilled from the lips of the girls around the room. Encouraged, Shelby scratched her head. She plopped down on her bed then hopped up again as if surprised, pulling imaginary spectacles from under her rump. “Oh!” she squealed. “There they are.”

The laughter grew louder, and Julia pursed her lips together to smother the impulse to laugh along with them. She planted her fists on her hips. “That’s enough. All of you know what must be done before breakfast.” The girls’ laughter quieted to soft giggles hidden behind cupped palms as they scattered to do their chores.

Shelby lingered behind, her form now straight and her eyes pensive. “Maybe she forgot to tell you, Miss Cavanaugh.” The young girl gazed up at her. “The way they look at each other—it’s like my ma and pa used to, that’s all.”

Julia folded a stray sandy blond curl behind the girl’s ear. “Don’t worry, my sweet. If Mrs. Hamlin was getting married, we’d be the first to know.”

Julia hoped her own gaze didn’t reflect the sinking disquiet that draped her. Mr. Gaffin was a rich world traveler. If there was any truth to Shelby’s suspicion, Julia couldn’t imagine he’d let Mrs. Hamlin continue to work with orphans. Perhaps they’d get a new headmistress.

Or maybe the girls would be separated, moved to new homes…

If Mrs. Hamlin got married, all their lives would be radically changed. And if Julia had to leave the orphanage, she had no idea what she would do. Julia swept that painful thought away and steadied her gaze at Shelby. She couldn’t hide her true feelings from this girl. Julia took Shelby’s hand and answered as honestly as she could.

“I don’t think she’ll get married, but if she does, God will take care of us, like He always has.” Julia lifted her chin in a smile. “And really, Mrs. Hamlin may be forgetful, but no one could forget that. I sure wouldn’t.”

Ardy, a shy Swedish girl, removed her dirty sheets from a small bed and then approached, taking Julia’s hand. “Don’t ya think you’ll ever be gettin’ married?”

“Actually, there is something I’ve been wanting to tell you all….” Julia leaned forward, resting her hands on her knees.

The two girls eyed each other in surprise, and Shelby’s brow furrowed.

“Come closer.” Julia curled a finger, bidding them.

“What is it?” Shelby asked, her eyes glued to Julia.

The girls leaned in. “I’d like to tell you…that there’s a wonderful man who’s asked me to marry him!”

The squeals of two girls erupted, followed by the cheers of nearly three dozen others who’d been quietly listening from the stairwell.

“There is?” Shelby reached forward and squeezed Julia’s hand.

Julia let out a hefty sigh and giggled. “No, you sillies. Well, at least not yet. Someday. Maybe.”

Shelby pouted “But you said… ”

“I said I’d like to tell you I had a man. I’d sure like to, but of course since I don’t, I’m happy to stay here with all of you.”

The girls moaned.

The squeak of the front door down on the first floor of the Revolutionary War–era home-turned-orphanage drew their attention. They waited as Mrs. Hamlin’s familiar chortle filled the air, along with a bash and clang of items—hopefully food and supplies that she’d picked up.

“Julia!” Mrs. Hamlin yelped. “Julia, dear, where are you?”

“Coming.” Julia hurried down the stairs to help the older woman.

Julia neared the bottom of the steps and paused, trying to stifle a laugh at the sight of the twinkly-eyed woman sprawled flat on her back. Scattered boxes and bags covered the donated rug.

“Mrs. Hamlin! What on earth? Why didn’t you get a steward to help you?”

“Oh, I didn’t want to be a bother.” She cheerfully picked herself up. “I was in such a hurry to show you all what I’d bought. And to tell you my surprise. Such a wonderful surprise.” Julia eyed the boxes and noted they were from R.H. Macy & Co. More than a dozen boxes waited to be opened, and she couldn’t imagine the cost.

“I found just what the girls need, and on sale!” the headmistress exclaimed.

What they need is more food—vitamin drops, too—and maybe a few new schoolbooks. But Julia didn’t dare say it. And somehow God’s hand of providence always provided.

“New clothes, I gather. That is a surprise.”

“But only half of it, dear.” Mrs. Hamlin rubbed her palms expectantly. “I also must tell you my news. The best news an old widow could hope for.”

Julia followed Mrs. Hamlin’s gaze toward the idle youngsters who’d gathered on the staircase to watch. Her eyes locked with Shelby’s, then she quickly looked away. “News?” The muscles in Julia’s stomach tightened.

“Girls,” Julia shooed them away with a wave of her hand, “you know better than to eavesdrop. Off to chores with you. We’ll have breakfast soon.”

The girls started to scurry off, but Mrs. Hamlin halted them with her words.

“No, no,” her high-pitched voice hailed. “Come back. This news is for all of you.” They circled around her, and she tenderly patted their bobbing heads.

“What is it?” Julia wasn’t sure she’d ever seen Mrs. Hamlin’s cheeks so rosy or her eyes so bright.

“I’m getting married!”

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Book Spotlight: What the Bayou Saw by Patti Lacy

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

What The Bayou Saw

Kregel Publications (March 24, 2009)


Patti Lacy


Though Patti's only been writing since 2005, she thinks her latest profession of capturing stories on paper (or computer files) will stick awhile.

The Still, Small Voice encouraged Patti to write after a brave Irish friend shared memories of betrayal and her decision to forgive. In 2008, An Irishwoman’s Tale was published by Kregel Publications. Patti’s second novel, What the Bayou Saw, draws on the memories of two young girls who refused to let segregation, a chain link fence, and a brutal rape come between them.

The secrets women keep and why they keep them continue to enliven Patti's gray matter. A third book, My Name is Sheba, has been completed. Patti's WIP, Recapturing Lily, documents a tug-of-war between a Harvard-educated doctor and an American pastor and his wife for a precious child and explores adoption issues, China's "One Child" policy, and both Christian and secular views of sacrifice.

Patti also facilitates writing seminars in schools, libraries, and at conferences and has been called to present her testimony, "All the Broken Pieces," at women's retreats. She also leads a Beth Moore Bible study at her beloved Grace Church.

Patti and her husband Alan, an Illinois State faculty member, live in Normal with their handsome son Thomas, who attends Heartland Community College. On sunny evenings, you can catch the three strolling the streets of Normal with their dog Laura, whom they've dubbed a "Worchestershire Terrier" for her "little dab of this breed, a little dab of that breed.


Segregation and a chain link fence separated twelve-year-old Sally Flowers from her best friend, Ella Ward. Yet a brutal assault bound them together. Forever. Thirty-eight years later, Sally, a middle-aged Midwestern instructor, dredges up childhood secrets long buried beneath the waters of a Louisiana bayou in order to help her student, who has also been raped. Fragments of spirituals, gospel songs, and images of a Katrina-ravaged New Orleans are woven into the story.

The past can't stay buried forever Rising author Patti Lacy's second novel exposes the life of Sally, set amid the shadows of prejudice in Louisiana.

Since leaving her home in the South, Sally Stevens has held the secrets of her past at bay, smothering them in a sunny disposition and sugar-coated lies. No one, not even her husband, has heard the truth about her childhood.

But when one of her students is violently raped, Sally's memories quickly bubble to the surface unbidden, like a dead body in a bayou. As Sally's story comes to light, the lies she's told begin to catch up with her. And as her web of deceit unravels, she resolves to face the truth at last, whatever the consequences.

If you would like to read the first chapter of What The Bayou Saw, go HERE

Watch the Book Trailer:

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Book Review: The Swiss Courier by Tricia Goyer and Mike Yorkey/3 Stars

About the book:

It is August 1944 and the Gestapo is mercilessly rounding up suspected enemies of the Third Reich. When Joseph Engel, a German physicist working on the atomic bomb, finds that he is actually a Jew, adopted by Christian parents, he must flee for his life to neutral Switzerland. Gabi Mueller is a young Swiss-American woman working for the newly formed American Office of Strategic Services (the forerunner to the CIA) close to Nazi Germany. When she is asked to risk her life to safely "courier" Engel out of Germany, the fate of the world rests in her hands. If she can lead him to safety, she can keep the Germans from developing nuclear capabilities. But in a time of traitors and uncertainty, whom can she trust along the way? This fast-paced, suspenseful novel takes readers along treacherous twists and turns during a fascinating--and deadly--time in history.

My thoughts:

The Swiss Courier was only just released a few weeks ago, and there are already a ton of great reviews out all over the web. Based on all the reviews I've seen, I had really high expectations of it, and I was really anxious to read my first book by Tricia Goyer. Even though it was a really great story, there were just too many things that kept bugging me throughout the whole story, and I just can't help but give my honest opinion.

First of all, the title alone is somewhat misleading. I look at the cover and see a woman along with the book's title, The Swiss Courier. So, I expect that she will be the main character in the book. Well, she wasn't. During the first half to two-thirds of the book, she appears about every 3rd chapter at best. While the rest of the story was good, there's so much other activity going on, and her character almost gets lost in the shuffle. Because of this, I think that's why I didn't connect with her or any of the other characters throughout the story.

Another thing that disappointed me was a portion of Joseph Engel's story. I really enjoyed the beginning of it when I was learning about him, and what he's on the brink of discovering. But then, it just stops abruptly once he's in hiding. It was like I got to meet him for 10 minutes, and then he was gone.

Lastly, I think it would've been a huge help if there had been some sort of glossary enclosed in the book. I don't know the slightest bit of German, not to mention that my knowledge of WWII in general is limited, and can't tell you how many times I was confused along the way. In addition to this, I think it would've helped tremendously to have a "fact or fiction" segment at the end of the story just to establish what was real and what wasn't.

You'd think from all those criticisms that I didn't like the book one bit, but I really did. It is quite evident that there was tons of research that was poured into this book, even down to the plane ride at the end. There were even a few twists and turns that caught me by much so that I was practically holding my breath hoping that things would end the right way! Overall, I would have to give it 3 stars--a middle-of-the-road rating because even though it was a good story, there were a lot of things that could've made it better. 

Southern?  No
Sass?  No

**Many thanks to Revell for providing a copy for review.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I Have Not Fallen Off the Face of the Planet!

It just dawned on me today that I haven't had a blog post in a week (gasp!). I'm usually not that much of a slacker. But.....if you knew how crazy things have been in my life lately,'d understand. :o) It would also explain why I have no pics to go along with this post, but maybe I'll be able to get to that soon.

First of all, I've been working on some updates to our house. Not big ones, mind you, but little things that have made a dramatic difference. You may remember a few weeks ago that DH and I invested in some new furniture for our dining room and living room. Both purchases were very much needed, and will be a huge help when we have the whole family over for Thanksgiving. But to go along with that, I've been wanting to paint a few rooms since we moved in a year and a half ago. Right before we moved in, the previous homeowners repainted all the walls the same color throughout the whole house, and it was a warm cream color. Also, when they painted, it appears that they never put up the first piece of painter's tape, so all the trim in the house has splotches of the wall color on it. And so basically....painting has been a job waiting to happen.

The first room I wanted to target was the master bedroom. We picked out the most gorgeous shade of blue for the walls, and I made it by the skin of my teeth with just one gallon of paint! :o) And of course, we needed to take care of the trim, too.....but it's oh so much more exhausting to paint the trim, IMO. In addition to the trim in the bedroom, we also have a window seat and built-in bookshelf that would need to be painted, too. But here's the blessing in disguise.... I initially chose white for the trim because eventually, all the trim in the house will need to be redone. But then, I changed my mind (yep, females are allowed to do that as much as we want). I decided I should keep it the off-white color that's already there. So, when I went to the store to return the white paint I had already bought, I had to have some off-white paint mixed. I found the most generic shade of off-white I could find, and miracle of all miracles, it is a dead-on match to what's already on the trim! I got so excited because now, I don't have to break my neck getting all the trim painted....I can just do a little bit at a time! At least for now....I have a completely repainted bedroom! YAY!

In addition to the master bedroom, we also chose to repaint our guest bathroom. The difference in there now is like daylight and dark. Of course, that same cream color was in there, and that poor bathroom had no personality whatsoever. So,'s a beautifual pastel blue that had a hint of lilac in it....just a peaceful color that you can get lost in, no joke. I'm planning to hang a picture in there from my in-laws trip to Hawaii....when I get a copy of it, I'll post it on here, too. Once you see it, the picture looks like it's black-and-white, but it really is a color photo. It is the most beautiful picture of the ocean with the sun breaking through the clouds as it sets....I can't wait until I have it hanging up in the bathroom. :o)

So as you can imagine, my reading time lately has been minimal at best. I've been doing good to get 50 pages read per day. Also, on top of all that, I've started looking for a part-time job so we can afford some more updates that will need to be done before we try to sell the house in a couple of years. Keep me in your prayers that I'll be able to find something that'll give me about 10-15 hours more per week, but not run me ragged at the same time.

Oh, and I don't want to forget to send a big thank you to Renee and Beth for passing along the Kreativ Blogger Award to me recently. You gals are the best!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Book Review: Talking to the Dead by Bonnie Grove

This month, CFRB presents Talking to the Dead by Bonnie Grove.

About the Book:

Twenty-something Kate Davis can't seem to get this grieving widow thing right. She's supposed to put on a brave face and get on with her life, right? Instead she's camped out on her living room floor, unwashed, unkempt, and unable to sleep-because her husband Kevin keeps talking to her.

Is she losing her mind?

Kate's attempts to find the source of the voice she hears are both humorous and humiliating, as she turns first to an "eclectically spiritual" counselor, then a shrink with a bad toupee, a mean-spirited exorcist, and finally group therapy. There she meets Jack, the warmhearted, unconventional pastor of a ramshackle church, and at last the voice subsides. But when she stumbles upon a secret Kevin was keeping, Kate's fragile hold on the present threatens to implode under the weight of the past. And Kevin begins to shout.

Will the voice ever stop? Kate must confront her grief to find the grace to go on, in this tender, quirky story about second chances.

My thoughts:

Very rarely do I come across a book that just leaves me floored the whole way through. Except for one tiny little break, I read this book from cover to cover, and loved every second of it. While it's not a book that I would normally go out of my way to read, words cannot adequately express how impressed I was after reading this fabulous debut novel.

Talking to the Dead is a great example of an author thinking outside the box and finding a new niche in the Christian fiction arena. I have never come across a Christian fiction novel that dealt with any type of mental illness, much less mental institutions and shrinks, and how individuals seek help (be it worldly or spiritual) for those problems in the real world. Even though the Christian aspects of the novel were a tad bit watered down in places, I really applaud the author for showing what some churches/pastors are like in the real world, particularly, the scene with Jack's father. It literally broke my heart to read through Kate's experience with this fictitious pastor, knowing that there really are pastors and church leaders out there that use the same tactics.

Talking to the Dead is now firmly planted on my all-time favorites list. Now, I must begin the impatient wait for whatever she has in store for her next book. If all of Bonnie's books are as great as this one, I'll be a fan for life.

About the Author:

Bonnie Grove started writing when her parents bought a typewriter, and she hasn't stopped since. Trained in Christian Counseling (Emmanuel Bible College, Kitchener, ON), and secular psychology (University of Alberta), she developed and wrote social programs for families at risk while landing articles and stories in anthologies. She is the author of Working Your Best You: Discovering and Developing the Strengths God Gave You; Talking to the Dead is her first novel. Grove and her pastor husband, Steve, have two children; they live in Saskatchewan.

Purchase Talking to the Dead at
Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

Check out these other member blogs this week for more info.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Book Review: Abide with Me by Delia Parr

About the book:

The three Long sisters of Welleswood, New Jersey, felt they could handle any problem, any crisis together…

But suddenly, each was facing the most critical challenge of her life. Andrea, a single mom, was in a fight for survival, against cancer. Madge, who'd once lived a storybook life, needed to find forgiveness--if she ever could--for a husband who'd kept a shocking secret for years. Jenny, pregnant with her third child, longed to keep her husband's dream alive, whatever the sacrifice.

To get through it all, they would have to lean on one another as never before, trusting that their love and hope--and their faith, no matter how far it was tested--would see them through.

My thoughts:

I had never even heard of Delia Parr until last year when I read one of her books--Day by Day. Turns out that Day by Day is book 2 of her Home Ties Trilogy, and I had no clue I was reading the series out of order....which is not a bad thing since each book can stand on it's own. While I was not at all impressed with Day by Day (very depressing and slow-moving story), Abide with Me was just right. There are some pretty hefty issues brought up, but I didn't have that same depressed feeling with this one as I did with Day by Day. Overall, Abide with Me was a wonderful, light read, and as soon as I can find a copy, I plan to finish out the series and read book 3, Carry the Light.

A-Z Wednesday

A-Z Wednesday is hosted by Vicki at Reading at the Beach. The rules are pretty simple.....

1. Visit Reading at the Beach to get this week's letter.
2. Find a book on your shelf that starts with this week's letter.
3. Post the title, picture, description and link of the book on your blog.
4. Go back to Reading at the Beach to post a comment with a link to your post.

This week's letter is M. I've decided to feature the following book--Michal by Jill Eileen Smith.

About the book:

As the daughter of King Saul, Michal lives a life of privilege--but one that is haunted by her father's unpredictable moods and by competition from her beautiful older sister. When Michal falls for young David, the harpist who plays to calm her father, she has no idea what romance, adventures, and heartache await her. As readers enter the colorful and unpredictable worlds of King Saul and King David, they will be swept up in this exciting and romantic story. Against the backdrop of opulent palace life, raging war, and desert escapes, Jill Eileen Smith takes her readers on an emotional roller-coaster ride as Michal deals with love, loss, and personal transformation as one of the wives of David. A sweeping tale of passion and drama, readers will love this amazing story.
I have wanted to read this book for sooooooo long, and it's just sitting there patiently with all the other books on my shelf waiting to be read. :o) I am a huge fan of Biblical fiction, and am so glad to see new authors in this genre. Oh, and it won't be long 'til the next book comes out in this series. Book 2, Abigail, will be releasing in February 2010.

Waiting on Wednesday: Burn by Ted Dekker and Erin Healy

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

Burn by Ted Dekker and Erin Healy set to release January 2010.

About the book:

She Escaped the Fire—But Not the Effects of the Burn

Janeal feels trapped in her father’s Gypsy culture. But everything changes one night when a brutal and powerful man named Salazar Sanso promises her the life she longs for if she will help recover a vast sum of money tied to her father.

When the plan implodes, Sanso and his men attack the gypsy settlement and burn it to the ground. During the blaze, Janeal is faced with a staggering choice.

The impact of that choice changes her forever.

Years later, the wonderful and terrible truth of what really happened that night begins to sear Janeal’s soul. In a horrifying revelation, Janeal learns that nothing about her life since has been exactly what it seems. As truth rises from the ashes of her past, Janeal finds she must make a new life-or-death choice. But this time, escape is not an option.

I'm really looking forward to this book! The Dekker/Healy combo did a great job last year with Kiss, and I have no doubt that this book will be just as incredible! :o)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Blog Tour and Book Review: Leaving Carolina by Tamara Leigh

*A big thank you to Liz Johnson at Waterbrook Multnomah for sending me a copy to review!*

About the book:

Piper Wick left her hometown of Pickwick, North Carolina, twelve years ago, shook the dust off her feet, ditched her drawl and her family name, and made a new life for herself as a high-powered public relations consultant in LA. She’s even “engaged to be engaged” to the picture-perfect U.S. Congressman Grant Spangler.

Now all of Piper’s hard-won happiness is threatened by a reclusive uncle’s bout of conscience. In the wake of a health scare, Uncle Obadiah Pickwick has decided to change his will, leaving money to make amends for four generations’ worth of family misdeeds. But that will reveal all the Pickwicks’ secrets, including Piper’s.

Though Piper arrives in Pickwick primed for battle, she is unprepared for Uncle Obe’s rugged, blue-eyed gardener. So just who is Axel Smith? Why does he think making amends is more than just making restitution? And why, oh why, can’t she stay on task? With the Lord’s help, Piper is about to discover that although good PR might smooth things over, only the truth will set her free.

My thoughts:

I have lived in the South my entire life, with most of it spent in Tennessee, and just couldn't imagine livin' anywhere else. Also, I absolutely love reading books that are set in the South, especially when a writer gets it right. Tamara Leigh is just flat out a great writer anyway, and Leaving Carolina is a great start to what I'm sure will be a fabulous Southern series of books.

Growing up with a last name like Pickwick is about as Southern as it gets...we actually have a Pickwick of our own in TN. :o) Just throw in some sweet tea and pickled corn, and then, you'll be Southern to the core. Tamara did a great job of describing what it's really like down here--good home cookin', down to earth people, and a love for family and friends. But listen, this book is not just all Southern stuff. There a great deal mentioned about forgiveness, first impressions, and making amends....certainly all things that could come across as preachy, but never do.

Personally, I cannot wait to read more about this family and the town of Pickwick. Tamara's style of writing is just plain fun to read, and I can't wait to see what happens next!

4 Stars

Southern?  Without a doubt!
Sass?  Yes, a staple with Tamara's books.  :o)