Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Day...thanks to Abraham Lincoln

I don't usually do posts that redirect you to another site, but I decided to make an exception today.  I just read a post about Thanksgiving Day over at Lynn Coleman's blog, 19th Century Historical Tidbits, and I couldn't resist passing it on.  It's the proclamation that Abraham Lincoln made in 1863 declaring the last Thursday in November to be a Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer.  What is particularly moving is the last two paragraphs, which apply to us as much today as they did almost 150 years ago.

Go check out Lynn's may just bring tears to your eyes.  :o)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

You've probably been wondering where I've been....

You've probably been wondering where I've been....  Nope, didn't fall off a cliff, the face of the earth, or some other equally high distance somewhere.  Here...let me catch you up....I've been a tad bit busy.  :o)

This time of year is partially to blame, although I typically thrive on the busyness of the holiday season.  For the past two years, Thanksgiving has been held at our house, and I go all out with the spread.  Not only that, but hubby and I spend the ENTIRE week cleaning the house from top to bottom!!  Then, I'm usually up until at least midnight the day before finishing up deserts and breads and such, then wake up at about 6 or 7am to start on the turkey.  Guess what....don't have to do any of that this year, and I'm actually relieved!!!  We will still be spending some time with family, but it won't be at my house.  All I'm responsible for this year is the desserts, and I can handle that job all the day long.  :o)

While I'm relieved about the reduction in Thanksgiving duties this year, there have been other equally exhausting things to take it's place.  Mostly, it's been changes that will have to be made to accomodate new things, but hey....we'll live through it, and figure out a way to make it work.  :o)

Also, I've been doing a bit more singing lately with the parents (only one more left this year...another big relief).  About 2 weeks ago, we took a trip to east TN to sing.  Now, I've been to east TN loads of times, but never toward Chattanooga.  I didn't know what I was in for as far as the driving was concerned.  (Take notice all you people who may drive through Chattanooga at some point in your lifetime.)  I had no idea we would be driving through the dang mountains!  I've been through mountains before, but never for this long.  It was up, down, around, and back comes this curve, and that curve, and this steep hill going up, then coming down.  Oh, and let me not forget to mention the TWO-LANE roads, and drivers who are maniacs!!!!  I wanted to scream at them to stay on their side of the road...not that it would've done any good.  (I also couldn't help but think about that show that's been on the History Channel lately--Ice Road Truckers:  Deadliest Roads...or something like that.  That show freaked me out so much during the first 2 episodes that I just couldn't watch it any more.)  Anyway...I do think it was a miracle that we arrived in one piece, much less that we made it all the way back home (thank you, Lord).  Oh, and one other thing....our final destination was in the middle of NO WHERE!!!  I don't think I ever fully appreciated until now what a blessing cell phone service is!  We stayed in this nice, rustic cabin pretty much in the middle of the woods with no phone and no internet.  Yep, I had some withdrawals.  We thankfully had a tv with a satellite dish so we didn't drive one another stir crazy.  Poor hubby had been trying to reach me all night long to make sure that we arrived safely...I felt so bad that he wasn't able to do anything but leave me a voicemail (which I couldn't check until we had driven almost 45 minutes on our trip back home).  Let me say this....I don't think I have ever been more thankful to be back home after an out-of-town trip!

I've also been working on jewelry!  I don't know how much of that I've mentioned on my book blog, but for almost 5 years now, I have had the most fun with my jewelry making hobby!  :o)  It has to be one of THE MOST fun things I have ever learned to do.  I'll sit down with a movie, pull out a bead box, and get to work.  Then, two hours later, I've got some pretties all ready to go for a show somewhere.  My goal for this next year (I made this same goal last year, but I'm serious about it now!!!, seriously!!) is to incorporate some parties or other fun events to make a little extra dough....maybe even do an Etsy store.  I still need to work out all the particulars, but I'm ready to get busy! 

So, when have I had time to read, you ask?  Well, almost none at all.  :o(  Would you believe that after I read a monthly record of 19 books in October, I've only read 2 so far in the month of November?  Pretty pitiful, huh?  I really need to pick up the pace, too, because the time to finalize the winners for the INSPY Awards is only a few weeks away, and I have to figure out my favorite in the Amish category.  Like...December 5th is the deadline.  Agh!!!  Three of the nominated Amish books were part of series, and because of my OCD nature that I can't read a series out of order, or jump to the very last book (even though it was the one nominated), I have been reading a few more books than what's required.  I just have to be able to know the whole story....I know....I'm crazy.  Because of this, I have 6 books to finish before the deadline.  Oh....dear....  So, all this means that I've had zero time for other reading, or for reviews for other books, or anything like that.  I've already written up one review for an INSPY book, but we have to save them until the winners are announced (let me just say that it was a GREAT book!).

So now after I have written what is probably one of the longest posts ever on this blog, I feel I should stop a moment and reflect on the crazyness that has been my life lately, and also, what the holiday season is about to bring.  We're coming up on two of the most wonderful holidays of the year, and out of the two, Thanksgiving seems to be overlooked anymore.  Stores go from Halloween decorations to Christmas decorations with nothing in between.  Don't they realize there's another holiday in there?  Now, I'm not gifted at all with saying something really eloquent about how we should all stop and be thankful for everything, but I can't help but wonder at a few things.  How often (outside of the Thanksgiving season) do we really stop to count our blessings?  How often do we thank God that we've lived to see another day?  How often do we thank Him for our family?  Or are we too busy trying to one-up our friend, or wanting the latest gadget?  I have taken notice of some of these things because of our society, and then, turned inward for some self reflection.  My desire right now is to take a moment each day to just be thankful--thankful that my husband made it to another day a few months ago; thankful that my parents are still with me, and that we're still able to sing and minister to people; and thankful that I have a full-time job in a great environment without wondering if I'll be laid off.  Wow, You've blessed me....let me never forget.

CFBA Blog Tour: The Silent Order by Melanie Dobson

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Silent Order
Summerside Press (November 1, 2010)
Melanie Dobson


Melanie Dobson is the award-winning author of The Black Cloister; Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana; and Together for Good.

Prior to launching Dobson Media Group in 1999, Melanie was the corporate publicity manager at Focus on the Family where she was responsible for the publicity of events, products, films, and TV specials. Melanie received her undergraduate degree in journalism from Liberty University and her master's degree in communication from Regent University. She has worked in the fields of publicity and journalism for fifteen years including two years as a publicist for The Family Channel.

Melanie and her husband, Jon, met in Colorado Springs in 1997 at Vanguard Church. Jon works in the field of computer animation. Since they've been married, the Dobsons have relocated numerous times including stints in Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Colorado, Berlin, and Southern California. These days they are enjoying their new home in the Pacific Northwest.

Jon and Melanie have adopted their two daughters —Karly (6) and Kinzel (5). When Melanie isn't writing or entertaining their girls, she enjoys exploring ghost towns and dusty back roads, traveling, hiking, line dancing, and reading inspirational fiction.


Rural America - 1928. After the murder of his partner, Detective Rollin Wells hides away in an Amish home near Sugarcreek, Ohio, to find out who in the police force is

collaborating with Cleveland’s notorious mob. While Rollin searches for answers to his partner’s death, he befriends an elusive young Amish woman named Katie and her young son. As Rollin learns about Katie’s past, he’s shocked at the secret Katie is hiding - a secret that has haunted Rollin for eight years.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Silent Order, go HERE.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

CFBA Tour: Amy Inspired by Bethany Pierce

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Amy Inspired
Bethany House; Original edition (October 1, 2010)
Bethany Pierce

After completing a master's in Creative Writing and working as a visiting instructor at Miami University in Ohio, Bethany Pierce now lives with her husband in Charlottesville, Virginia, where she is a member of the McGuffey Art Center and continues to write. Her first book, Feeling for Bones, was one of Publishers Weekly's Best Books of 2007.

With rejections piling up, she could use just a little inspiration...

Amy Gallagher is an aspiring writer who, after countless rejections, has settled for a career as an English professor in small-town Ohio just to pay the bills. All her dreams suddenly start to unravel as rejections pile up--both from publishers and her boyfriend.
But just as Amy fears her life is stuck in a holding pattern, she meets the mysterious, attractive, and unavailable Eli. She struggles to walk the fine line between friendship and something more with Eli, even as staying true to her faith becomes unexpectedly complicated.
When secrets, tragedy, and poor decisions cause rifts in Amy's relationships, she must come to terms with who she's become, her unrealized aspirations for her life, and the state of her faith. Can she dare to hope that she will find love and fulfillment despite it all?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Amy Inspired, go HERE.

Monday, November 8, 2010

CFBA Blog Tour: Hatteras Girl by Alice J. Wisler

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Hatteras Girl
Bethany House; Original edition (October 1, 2010)
Alice Wisler


Alice J. Wisler is an author, public speaker, advocate, and fundraiser. She has been a guest on several radio and TV programs to promote her self-published cookbooks, Slices of Sunlight and Down the Cereal Aisle. She graduated from Eastern Mennonite University and has traveled the country in jobs that minister to people. Alice was raised in Japan and currently resides in Durham, North Carolina.

Facts about Alice

* Born in Osaka, Japan and lived in Japan for 18 years

* Went to Kyoto International School and Canadian Academy

* Majored in Social Work and graduated in 1983 from Eastern Mennonite University

* Worked at a group home for disadvantaged kids outside of Philadelphia

* Taught English and Culture Orientation at a refugee camp in the Philippines

* Taught English as a Second Language in Japan

* Speaks and teaches on Writing the Heartache

* Has three kids on earth, and one in Heaven

* Recently got married to Carl on 2/7/09


There are two things twenty-nine-year-old Jackie Donovan asks God for: an honest, wonderful man to marry, and to own a bed-and-breakfast in the Outer Banks region. In the meantime, Jackie works for Lighthouse Views magazine, writing articles about other local business owners, and intrepidly goes on the blind dates set up by her well-meaning but oh-so-clueless relatives.

There's one specific property Jackie dreams of purchasing: the Bailey Place, a fabulous old home where Jackie spent many happy childhood afternoons, a place that has now fallen into disrepair because of its outrageous price tag.

When Jackie meets handsome Davis Erickson, who holds the key to the Bailey Place, Jackie is sure God has answered both her prayers. But as Jackie learns some disturbing details about Davis's past, she begins to question her own motivation. Will she risk her long-held dreams to find out the truth?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Hatteras Girl, go HERE.

Friday, November 5, 2010

More from the Amazing CSN!

CSN continues to amaze me!  Up until 7 or 8 months ago, I didn't even know who they were, what they did, or all the great things they have on any one of their 200+ websites.  See these dining chairs on the right over there?  If I hadn't just bought a whole new dining room table set last year, I'd have to seriously consider matching these up with a gorgeous table in my dining room.  They're certainly drool-worthy.  :o)

Oh, well, since new dining rooms chairs won't be appearing in my house any time in the near future, I guess I'll have to settle (it's not hard, really) for something else from their great site!  :o)  Me thinks I need to try to complete my Paula Deen Stoneware Collection.  If you've been around my blog for any length of time, you may have seen one of the review posts I did for CSN and some of this gorgeous stoneware collection.  Well, guess what?  They have it in blue now!  And not this bright, terrible color, but one of the most beautiful shades of soft blue that I have ever seen.  Oh, if I didn't already have it in the other color (which is still gorgeous, BTW, but blue IS my favorite color)!!! watching in the coming weeks for some great stuff from my kitchen!  I seemed to have recently developed an addiction to baking...oh, this is not good for someone who needs to go on a diet.....

CFBA Tour: Head in the Clouds by Karen Witemeyer

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Head in the Clouds
Bethany House; Original edition (October 1, 2010)
Karen Witemeyer


Karen Witemeyer is a deacon's wife and mother of three who believes the world needs more happily-ever-afters. To that end, she combines her love of bygone eras with her passion for helping women mature in Christ to craft historical romance novels that lift the spirit and nurture the soul.

After growing up in California, Karen moved to Texas to attend Abilene Christian University where she earned bachelor and master's degrees in Psychology. It was also there that she met and married her own Texas hero. He roped her in good, for she has lived in Texas ever since. In fact, she fell so in love with this rugged land of sweeping sunsets and enduring pioneer spirit, that she incorporates it into the pages of her novels, setting her stories in the small towns of a state that burgeoned into greatness in the mid-to-late 1800s.

Karen is living her dream by writing Christian historical romance novels for Bethany House. When she visited her publisher back in January of 2010, she was interviewed by the staff. If you'd like a behind-the-scenes glimpse into how she develops her story ideas and a description of her bumpy journey to publication, go to her website to listen to a podcast of that interview.


Adelaide Proctor is a young woman with her head in the clouds, longing for a real-life storybook hero to claim as her own. But when a husband-hunting debacle leaves her humiliated, she interviews for a staid governess position on a central Texas sheep ranch and vows to leave her romantic yearnings behind.

When Gideon Westcott left his privileged life in England to make a name for himself in America's wool industry, he never expected to become a father overnight. And five-year-old Isabella hasn't uttered a word since she lost her mother. The unconventionality of the new governess concerns Gideon--and intrigues him at the same time. But he can't afford distractions. He has a ranch to run, a shearing to oversee, and a suspicious fence-cutting to investigate.

When Isabella's uncle comes to claim the child--and her inheritance--Gideon and Adelaide must work together to protect Isabella from the man's evil schemes. And soon neither can deny their growing attraction. But after so many heartbreaks, will Adelaide be willing to get her head out of the clouds and put her heart on the line?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Head in the Clouds, go HERE.

CFBA Tour and Book Review: Grace by Shelley Shepard Gray

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Avon Inspire; Original edition (October 26, 2010)
Shelley Shepard Gray


Shelley Shepard Gray is the beloved author of the Sisters of the Heart series, including Hidden, Wanted, and Forgiven. Before writing, she was a teacher in both Texas and Colorado. She now writes full time and lives in southern Ohio with her husband and two children. When not writing, Shelley volunteers at church, reads, and enjoys walking her miniature dachshund on her town's scenic bike trail.


It's Christmastime at the Brenneman Bed & Breakfast, and everyone is excited about closing down for the holiday.

Anna and Henry will be celebrating their first Christmas as a married couple, and for Katie and Jonathan Lundy, it's their first Christmas with baby Stefan. Winnie and Samuel Miller plan to stop by as well for a wonderful two weeks of family and rest.

But when two unexpected visitors show up, hoping to stay for Christmas, the family must test their commitment to hospitality. Levi is a widower who lost his wife four years ago and can't bear the thought of another Christmas alone. And Melody is a young pregnant woman who won't open up about how she ended up on her own at Christmas at almost nine months pregnant.

Anna, who knows a thing or two about keeping secrets, doesn't trust her, and strives to find out the truth about these two strangers who have disrupted their holiday. But as the Christmas spirit descends on them all, as well as snow that traps them in the inn, a healing and hopefulness takes over, allowing new relationships to be built, and the boundaries of family to be extended.

If you'd like to read the first chapter of Grace, go HERE.

My thoughts:

This book has already gotten a few 5-star reviews, and I feel really bad that I can only give it 2 out of 5 stars.  It just fell far below my expectations for Amish fiction.  I have read almost every book written by Shelley Shepard Gray, and while I feel that she can think up a great story, the delivery always seems to fall flat.  Her style of writing reminds me so much of Janette Oke--a simplistic story, maybe a problem or two along the way, but usually a very tidy ending.  It's okay to like that sort of thing--hey, Janette Oke was one of the first Christian fiction authors I ever read--but there are so many more books available now that I've found that can better grab my attention. 

The book had three different story lines, and normally, that doesn't bother me.  In this book, though, there seemed to be a lot of busyness and retelling of the same scenes over and over again.  Maybe that can be attributed to the fact that the story covers a span of 12 days.  One thing I have to mention--the portions of the story featuring Leah and Zack were just a little too weird and almost creepy to me...sharing any more than that would be a spoiler. 

A lot of Amish fans may really enjoy this book, along with the previous three books in the Sisters of the Heart series, but it just didn't do it for me.  I like a story--not just an Amish one--to have depth, and that was missing in Grace.  I think if Ms. Gray focused on making her characters more realistic and with a little more emotion, her stories would greatly improve.  Instead, I think someone at her publishing company may be too concerned with how quickly they can churn out her books....7 books in 2-1/2 years time says it all, in my opinion.

2 Stars

**Many thanks to Avon Inspire through CFBA for providing a copy for review.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

CFBA Blog Tour: The Preacher's Bride by Jody Hedlund

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Preacher's Bride
Bethany House; Original edition (October 1, 2010)
Jody Hedlund


Jody has written novels for the last 16 years (with a hiatus when her children were young. In May of 2009 she double-finaled in the Genesis contest, a national fiction-writing contest for unpublished writers, sponsored by American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW).  Shortly after the final, Jody acquired an agent, Rachelle Gardner of Word Serve Literary. Her agent spent the summer of 2009 working on selling her books. In September of that year, Jody signed a three-book deal with Bethany House Publishers. Jody’s debut novel, The Preacher’s Bride, releases in Oct. 2010. Her next book will release in 2011 and a third in 2012.


In 1650s England, a young Puritan maiden is on a mission to save the baby of her newly widowed preacher--whether her assistance is wanted or not. Always ready to help those in need, Elizabeth ignores John's protests of her aid. She's even willing to risk her lone marriage prospect to help the little family. Yet Elizabeth's new role as nanny takes a dangerous turn when John's boldness from the pulpit makes him a target of political and religious leaders. As the preacher's enemies become desperate to silence him, they draw Elizabeth into a deadly web of deception. Finding herself in more danger than she ever bargained for, she's more determined than ever to save the child--and man--she's come to love.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Preacher's Bride, go HERE.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

October in Review

Wow, I cannot believe we're less than 2 months away from Christmas!  More importantly, we're less than a month away from my birthday!  :o)  I still get excited about my birthday, even though my age is steadily creeping up higher and higher each year....hmmm....

Anyway, October was a great book month for me.  So good, in fact, that I read more books in October than I have ever read!  Wow...19 books total....I'm still amazed!  :o)  Here's a list of everything I read (most of these were read during Dewey's 24-hour Read-a-thon on October 9th):

Weaving a Future by Susan Page Davis--10/01/2010

The Sunroom by Beverly Lewis--10/02/2010
Dated Jekyll, Married Hyde by Laura Jensen Walker--10/03/2010
The Lumberjack's Lady by Susan Page Davis--10/07/2010
Menu for Romance by Kaye Dacus--10/09/2010--review
Over the Waters by Deborah Raney--10/09/2010
Hearts Twice Met by Freda Chrisman--10/09/2010
Sooner or Later by Vickie McDonough--10/10/2010
Banking on Love by Janice A. Thompson--10/10/2010
Mozart's Sister by Nancy Moser--10/10/2010
The Waiting by Suzanne Woods Fisher--10/16/2010--review
I Am Nujood, Age 10, and Divorced by Nujood Ali--10/17/2010
Forgiven by Shelley Shepard Gray--10/18/2010
Winter's Awakening by Shelley Shepard Gray--10/20/2010
A Man of His Word by Kathleen Fuller--10/22/2010
Grace by Shelley Shepard Gray--10/24/2010--review to come
Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar--10/29/2010--review
Love Finds You in Charm, Ohio by Annalisa Daughety--10/31/2010
The House on Malcolm Street by Leisha Kelly--10/31/2010--review

As a result of my reading spree, I managed to complete two reading challenges during October:  the 100+ Book Reading Challenge (at least 100 books read in 2010), and the Countdown 2010 Challenge (55 books published between 2001 and 2010).  This was the first time I've managed to complete a major challenge, and not just one, but two!  Woohoo!  Now, I can sort of relax for the rest of the year, and read a few more books for leisure's sake.  ;o)

What about you?  Read any good books in October?