Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Very First Noel with Andy Griffith

My Homeschool group has used this video for a few years for the Christmas party. The kids all gather around with their popcorn.the adults usually congregate in the back of the room. By the middle of the video, which is only 23 minutes long, the adults are seated and listening. Andy Griffith's voice and the music are that captivating. The graphics are great.
I tried finding it last year and couldn't. This year I found it at and immediately ordered it. It arrived yesterday, only a few days after my order was placed! We  tore it open and as soon as the popcorn was done, we were watching.

I so wish there was a soundtrack for it. The music is awesome. It will be sad to see our precious Andy Griffith go Home but, this is another precious memory of him for me.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Rugged and Relentless by Kelly Eileen Hake

I like reading a book that seems like the main characters have got all their 'ducks in a row' only to find out that their are sooo many outside possibilities. Knowing that I'm not the only one that happens to helps me get through my own dilemmas at times and helps me laugh.

The four women in this book are forward thinkers for the 1800s that they live in and I like people who think outside of the box. Evie owns a diner and has her rules, like "Hat's off while you eat--house rules."

I love Jake's responses to Evie's rules and how his banter touches her. I'm a lot like that myself. Jacob Granger's brother went out west to expand the family's business and he was killed in a card fight---a scandalous way for a young man to die. But Jake knows his brother well and is on the lookout for a murderer. When he gets to a ghost mining town to find a bunch of men giving 4 women way too much attention. They need help and he just knows a killer is here. I like a man who means to get justice...reminds me of Matt Dillon and you gotta love him. And a woman likes a man to protect her, too.

This light read is worth the afternoon's read, I've enjoyed seeing Kelly's writing evolve. Will she be the next DeeAnne Gist or Julie Lessman (They know how to ramp up the heat without writing in poor taste)? We'll see.Enjoy this light read as much as I did. This is a great read for teens.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Blue Enchantress by MaryLu Tyndall

This was a fun read about an impulsive naive flirt who encounter pirates and missionaries. A strange combo to be sure...that's why I liked it. Hope Westcott finds herself on the auction block--literally, to be sold as a wife or slave, it made no difference in her eyes because she had no business being here. Things weren't supposed to be going this way. Why had God so obviously abandoned her?
Nathaniel Mason, a Christian self made shipping merchant, saw Hope on the auction block and remembered her as a conceited rich girl. Her future is dependent in his benevolence or rather God's. Nathan prays before he bids his last coin. Can he prevent her from ending up as a slave-wife? He can and does but loses half his fleet in the process. I used to say that I was born in the wrong time period but after reading this book, I am so grateful that God chose to put me in this century, where there's air conditioning, indoor plumbing, no corsets, etc. lol
I also loved the supporting cast of characters of Abigail, a grieving missionary and Captain Poole, the pirate who's seen miracles and has questions about....... this God.
I love seeing each of thevcharacters grow toward understanding of the other, how their choices are often the causes of their circumstances, and mostly, how God can intervene and make it all work for His good. There is a bits of spiritual warfare throughout, so 'heads up ' if that bothers you but it made the story more real for me.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The One Year Book of Encouragement by Harold Myra

I chose this book from Tyndale House Publishing (thanks for the book but the review is mine)specifically because of the old-style font on the title. I know, a sad reason but I'm a sucker for anything that's old. I was delightfully surprised to see that the date on each page is also of this font. However, the font is only 'the cherry on top' of this this dark chocolate sundae.

Mr. Myra has taken writings from some pretty lofty places to encourage us on a daily basis.  There are authors used from centuries ago like Martin Luther to authors of this time like Billy Graham and even more recent ones that I admit I'm not familiar with. I like that mixture as well, because it allows for the reader's needs to change. Sometimes, you need to eat meat and potatoes, sometimes you need your veggies, and sometimes just a pure drink of water. This devotional is meant to be used as you like, daily, in passing, or to mark, highlight, and make notes in....whichever way will inspire and encourage you in this worry riddled world. I'll be grabbing this book routinely.  The wisdom will feed your soul as well.

Thanks Mr. Myra and Tyndale House. ;0)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Brave New Knits by Julie Turjoman

I like to collect patterns about as much as I like to collect pretty yarns, pretty beads, pretty paper, well pretty anything really, so I couldn't believe my luck when Rodale Books offered the digital version of Brave New Knits through NetGalley for reviewers. I'm thinking "teehee, it's sooo good to do reviews! Yum, yum, another good treat." More on that later.

The Brave part of the title is that it has a short bio on several of's pioneers and then an original pattern from each designer. They were ahead of their time in that they had the foresight to use modern technology of the web with the ancient fiberart. Very smart ladies, I'd say. This part of Brave New Knits was a very enjoyable read. So now, I wanted to go back through and take a gander at the actual patterns that were offered........

But little did I realize that the ebook version that I was sent would be laid out the way it is. It's basically a draft of the book, uncorrected in soooo many ways. NetGalley goofed in sending out a draft, it's not easy to present a book review when the copy given to you is not a review copy (a finished copy of a book) and it doesn't properly serve the purpose of having a book reviewed in order to entice folks to buy it either. In fact I've not been able to actually review any of the patterns. There are no photos of any of the items near the area of it's pattern, so if you want to see what the item looks like, you have to write down what page you're reading, hunt through the back of the book, where the pictures are, then flip back to where the pattern is. Remember, I'm just reading a draft, not trying to follow an actual pattern. When you do get to the pictures they were blurred!  I'm positive that the finished product will have the pics with it's corresponding pattern and that they'll be great in detail but my copy is definitely not finished.

My only disappointment with the actual book is the sizes offered within the patterns.....only some of the patterns have sizing for large folks. I wish that all patterns would be presented for any wearer. Now, I have heartburn...I really don't like doing a non-positive review. This review is of the draft copy that NetGalley sent to me, not the book that will end up in the stores.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Crocheted Prayer Shawl Companion by Janet Bristow & Victoria Cole

This is the first of the Prayer Shawl books that I've delved into and I really liked the concept from the beginning. I crochet and knit preemie hats and blankets for my hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit among other ministry items. I just simply haven't gotten to making shawls...until now.
This book is well laid out with excellent photos of the finished items interspersed with ideas on how to bless others with a shawl.

My favorite part of the patterns is that the yarns are easily found or substituted. Why is this my favorite? What a boring reason, right? Because I live in an area that is yarn say the least. Most yarns in patterns that I like are simply not to be found locally, and by locally, I mean over an hour radius! Because the nature of yarn is to be touched, I have yet to order yarn online without already having touched it first. I've only ordered online because the store told me they'd not get any more or the website had a color that the store didn't carry.

My next favorite part of Prayer Shawl Companion is that the patterns are simple enough that my yarnie students could make any of these shawls and yet I can make the same shawl and not get bored by it. I've just simply added beads to mine and *POOF*, I have a fun project that also feeds my soul.

Now all I need is to find enough time to make each pattern for our church's Interfaith Hospitality Network. It's a network of area churches that take turns housing homeless families for a week. I love the thought that's gone into each pattern and it's symbolism is amazing also.

Thanks to Taunton Press for providing me this great eBook. I was a bit skeptical of an ebook version for crochet but I've enjoyed this version.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Within My Heart by Tamera Alexander

When I sat down to read this last of the Timber Ridge Series I knew I was in for a good read. What I didnt' know was that this was going to be a great read! If you like American history, if you like medical history, if you like romance, and I love them all, then you're in for a great read too.
Even though, widow and mother Rachel Boyd's and Dr. Rand Brookston's story are already set up pretty well in the previous two volumes of this series (From a Distance and Beyond This Moment), this volume starts out deepening the characters quite nicely and is a good stand alone. But why eat an appetizer when you can enjoy the whole meal, right? I like to see situations that show the character's relationship with God and each other growing. I want to be moved by their experiences. I want to see how they deal with their strengths and weaknesses in order to inspire me in my own.

Being a southern woman myself, I really connected with Rachel in this:

No question, she was a Southern woman through and through, and like a lot of Southern women, when push came to shove, she had a will of iron that cut straight through the sugar and sweetness.
Being a nurse, I enjoyed reading the trepidation with which a new procedure is used and how the medical model (theory of how a disease is treated and how death and dying are approached) has changed over time. For instance, when nothing curative could be done, doctors and nurses could concentrate on helping the family move through the dying process with as much dignity and grace and with as little physical pain as possible. Nowadays, well, let's just say that there are ways to go through the death and dying process that can ultimately feed the survivor's souls and ways that don't.
Knowing death was coming, or not knowing...Both ways held blessings, he (Rand) guessed.
Here, Rachel  
....wondered....what must it be like for him, knowing he was close to the end of his life? At least his life on earth. Everyone died. That was a given. But not everyone was warned of death's approach. And she wondered whether knowing was better, or worse. She decided the former, based on regrets she had....
I think this story could be pivotal for someone out there in that their life could be affected by the wisdom seen here. I certainly hope so. Keep a tissue box at the ready, I certainly needed it. Just in case, you're thinking that this is a terribly sad book, it isn't, they were tears of bittersweet joy. On a personal and professional note, this touches on a soap box of mine:
I don't mean any disrespect by this, only seems right that the person dyin' should get to choose.
Hallelujah and Amen Sister Tamera! Back in those days people knew that death was coming at some point, had thought about it, had even discussed it. Nowadays, people think that no one they love will ever get sick or die, so they don't discuss it. Poor thinking folks. We will all, at some point face death and/or dying and it is selfish not to discuss it with your loved ones. Watching deaths, like the one in this book, is sad, no doubt, but peaceful too. The Holy Spirit surrounds the people in the room and the peace is transcendent, nearly joyful.
As far as the romance goes, another reviewer suggested that the heat be lowered for the more youthful but raise the heat a bit for the more mature. I vote for increasing the heat just a touch, there's plenty of great reads out there for teens. I'm sure that sexual tension is bound to be a difficult thing to write about without getting explicit at any rate.

Monday, October 25, 2010

You Changed My Life by Max Lucado from Booksneeze

Thanks to Booksneeze for sending me a copy of this pretty little book. My review is just that though, mine. As gift books go, this is a good one. It takes Chicken Soup for the Soul type stories and adds in the Bible verse that corresponds to it. However, as gift books go, well, I'm too practical for them, I guess. They become dust collectors in my house and there is enough of that already. Unless, I had a completely life altering event happen, then I'd be happy to give this particular book to someone. It's a great little hardback with glossy paper and a nice dust cover but the best part are the Bible references added. I'd be finding the story that hits me just right and making a little note to the person that affected me so on that page...just to make it more personal.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Head in the Clouds by Karen Witemeyer

I've always loved reading, so the front cover of this sweet read definitely caught my eye. After all, I'd been accused of having my head in the clouds for....well, as long as I can remember holding a book. 
I finally get to take Head in the Clouds off my TBR list and move it to here! Sweet. Only now the story is over.....Is there such a thing as post-read remorse, like buyer's remorse? or post-read syndrome, like post traumatic stress? I know! It's Post-Read Stress Syndrome. It's signs begin with an urgent compulsion to read through an entire book in only one day despite one's other obligations (or perhaps because of). The incubation period only lasts as long as it takes to fill the urge's requirements, then the actual symptoms appear. They are a profound sense of sadness, a strong desire to dress in the historical period of the book that was read, and an immense sense of displaced reality (due to being back in the 21st century). Fortunately, this syndrome lasts but a short time. It will go into remission but will reappear with increasing regularity. Oh, back to the book review Deana....;0)

Adelaide, bless her heart, is a naive romantic. She impetuously quits her teaching job to move to Fort Worth where her book peddling gentleman friend lives-only to find out that charming her was how he sold the books to her. Now she was out of a job, had no where to live, and couldn't go back to her old job. As with most of us, now she decides to pray about it, right after she gives God a piece of her mind.
No answer echoed through the rafters or even whispered to her heart. God didn't seem to be on speaking terms with her at the moment, and she had no idea why.
I know, sounds all too familiar for me too...God please get me out of this pickle I've gotten myself into....and now! In the local newspaper, Adelaide finds an ad for a governess position and applies for that.

Gideon Westcott, a wealthy Brit's son has moved across the pond and planted himself in the middle of cattle country with plans to be a successful sheep herder in order to win his father's approval. What he hadn't planned on was becoming a parent on the trip over....and the adorable little tyke hasn't spoken since her mother's death. He needs a governess who can help Bella. He didn't foresee what was coming next but he wanted God and Bella to lead him to the right governess.

Some of Adelaide's favorite authors? Why mine, of course! God, Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte. Karen, how you wove scripture, Mr. Darcy, and Mr. Rochester into a western riddled with humor, I'll never know but I loved it!!

The Bride Blunder by Kelly Eileen Hake

This book begins with two cousins in the mid 1800s Baltimore. They are both named Marguerite which came from their grandmother, hence the nicknames Daisy and Marge. Daisy is the debutante, while Marge is the proverbial down to earth, organized, girl next door. Daisy is into the social scene and all about marrying for all the right reasons- social standing and wealth. Marge has only been interested in one person and he moved away.
Gavin Miller is the mutual acquaintance that moved out to the Nebraska Territory who is now ready to start a family, so he sends a proposal letter. It's addressed to Marguerite and they both assume that the letter is for Marge as Gavin is on Daisy's wedding guest list and the invites have already been sent.
If hope sprang eternal, Marge had packed for it.When she’d prepared a list of things to bring, she’d thought long and hard about what she’d need for a lifetime in a small frontier town. What her family would need, and since she’d always been a big believer in being prepared for anything, the list took on a life of it's own.
Of course, as soon as she steps into view, Gavin knew what a mistake he'd made.
What happens after that? Gavin is the honorable type guy who doesn't back down from a handshake deal once it's made and soon he's reminded how much he liked Marge too.  But Marge doesn't want a 'pity invite' to her own wedding. She wants the real deal. Here's where the fun, heartbreak, and frustration begins.
While I really liked Bride Backfire's heat, Blunder was lukewarm. The main characters were more a part of the story rather than the story.  For myself, I would like to have seen more sparks between them. I really enjoyed reading the spiritual struggle of both Gavin and Marge as they try to walk in God's will.I loved Gavin's Aunt Ermintrude! Her spunkiness (is that a word?) and how she sees the truth in it all. The premise of a bride mix up is a good one and makes for some funny, some heartbreaking, and some frustrating moments. Hope you enjoy the read like I did.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sharpshooter in Petticoats (Sophie's Daughters #3) by Mary Connealy

To begin with, let me say thanks to Net Galley for my ebook. I was having severe Mary Connealy withdrawal signs and symptoms. ;0)
I loved this last book of Sophie's Daughters! Each one has their own prayer (learned from their momma no doubt) that they repeat when in trouble and I love that too. I so wanted Mandy's husband to leave the picture somehow and couldn't wait to find out how Mandy got relieved of hom because we all know that God would've picked a better one for her and He did eventually. ;0)
As usual Mary starts, as opposed to ending, this story out with a cliffhanger which is part of the charm of Mary's writings for me. I can't really imagine how but, Mandy seemed to be in a much scarier place than either of her sisters, Beth or Sally. I guess because she's so isolated with her small children. Mandy Gray, now a rich widow with 3 young children, has holed herself up in Gray Tower-essentially a mansion atop a Rocky Mountain that her recently deceased husband built with his gold digging riches. It's kind of similar to her mother's story, in that they are both isolated and completely dependent on the land and God to get by with their small children. She has made enemies of the Cooter family however, by killing one of them, in self defense but, that doesn't matter to the Cooter clan.
Tom Linscott, a well-to-do cattle rancher himself, just can't seem to get Mandy off his mind. She needs rescuing off that mountain and....well....he's going to do it.......and then.......well.......he's going to marry her soon as he can talk her into it. He starts off literally climbing the cliff to Mandy's home and knows he'll have to kidnap her and her 3 children in order to get her off the mountain. Before they even get back to his ranch, he's got the children calling him 'Papa' and has completely endeared himself to them. Now all he has to do is convince Mandy that she needs another man and get rid of her enemies. Piece of cake, right?
Well, it's made for a great story, thanks to Mary Connealy. Put it on top of your TBR list ASAP.

I thought it odd that the cover didn't have Mandy in gray.....would've been more apropos but didn't detract from the book at all.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Bride Backfire (Prairie Promises #2) by Kelly Eileen Hake

After a bit of encouragement from a friend I decided to continue in this series and boy howdy, am I glad I did! I loved this story and can't wait to get to #3. Thanks to Net Galley for my digital edition for this review. I grew up in Kentucky all around the Hatfield and McCoy Feud stories but this one takes the cake. Opal Speck and Adam Grogan try to be each family's peacemaker in the Speck-Grogan feud that has gone on for generations. Each one struggles inwardly to have faith that God is stronger, even when on the wrong side of a gun, so to speak. These two have grown up with all the angst and danger of the feud and numerous digs from each side to fuel the flame for all their years, so they trust no one. The entire town distances themselves-even at church. So when Opal and Adam show up at church having been 'privately' married just days before, the whole town is knocked off kilter. Is the feud over? Has it begun anew? Why did they get married?
Well, you'll just have to read it to find out. It's another I-couldn't-put-it-down-even-at-2am-and-then-hit-it-again-for-breakfast book. And the heat factor!!! Where's my fan...The sexual tension starts in chapter two for Pete's sake and ends with the last sentence in the book, my word! Which, by the way, is the most irritating way to end a book-just when the two characters....well, I don't want to be accused of putting in a spoiler. Suffice it to say I wanted one more chapter-the tidy bow on this gift. 
I commented on The Bride Bargain's cover not being to my liking in that book's review. This one's cover at least made sense to me and I liked the picture of the dugout but the rendering of Opal is lacking somehow, just as the one of Clara is on The Bride Bargain. Just sayin', you know?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld

I have yet to try the recipes but Jessica tells you exactly how to set up your pantry, what kitchen tools are needed, and how to deceive those picky eaters, I mean, hide the good stuff in that unhealthy stuff your kids likes, I mean, cook the foods that your family loves. It's based on adding fruit and vegetable purees to your kid's favorite recipes.
For a frustrated 'manager of my home', this might just be the shot in the arm that I need. Fortunately for me, the book is set up just how you'd need it to be, in order to get started. It's also an easy read, which was more encouragement for me, too. I like the idea and can't wait to get started on my family(evil grin), I mean, cooking tasty enjoyable meals for my most loved ones.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Bride Bargain (Prairie Promises #1) by Kelly Eileen Hake

This young author has written a great teen/young adult story about Clara and her aunt Doreen who have the guts to move west with a wagon train without benefit of a man's presence. Dragging themselves into town 2 days after the wagon train abandons them, they meet Josiah Reed, a lonely storekeeper, whose family is back east. He needs a woman's touch in his lonely huge home and they need respite. Josiah proposes a bargain in which if Clara gets Saul Reed to marry a girl in Buttonwood then Clara can keep Josiah's house. Now you have the beginning of a cute story whose characters are well developed. Clara has her steps all planned out for herself on the wagon train until they decide to take a break in Buttonwood but, even after Josiah's proposal, she plans and proceeds to execute with predictable interruptions. Somewhere along the line, she remembers that God can bless our plans or not.

I know some folks pick a book for it's cover alone sometimes and I admit it does influence what I choose to read but this book's label does nothing for me. I plan on reading the sequels and hope they hold more intrigue for me as I'm anything but a teen/young adult. ;0)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Friday, October 1, 2010


I use RedBox for nearly all my movie rentals nowadays. It's easy to use-like a vending machine.

1. They're easy to find in my area and online the site ( will tell you where the movie you want is located-maps and all!! In Chattanooga, they are located at all the Walgreens and Walmarts. I've heard that in Louisville, Redboxes are at all the McDonalds.

2. The best part is I don't have to pay a monthly fee and it's only a $1/day. FANTASTIC!!!

Thanks to BzzAgent for my free code but this is my honest opinion folks, I was using RedBox way before I knew about The only downside to RedBox is that it is only the most current releases, I mean, the machines will only hold so much, right?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Gingham Mountain by Mary Connealy

Hannah and Grant meet in this installment of Lassoed in Texas (#3). The main difference about this book and Calico Canyon(#2) is that this book talks about the orphan trains. Orphan trains thankfully, are a thing of the past where orphans were taken up to the end of the rail lines, if needed, to adopt them out. I loved Hannah for the way she thought about education.The angst starts immediately as Grant meets the orphan train to collect his new children not knowing that Hannah is following the children. Hannah immediately assumes that Grant is expecting 'slave' labor from the children. Although, they both have a huge heart for orphans, they each have seemingly polar opposite ways of caring for the kids.

Learning was the important thing. If only she could educate them so they'd never be forced into mill work or, because of illiteracy, have no prospects of any jobs. She believed giving them an education could be the difference between life and death for some of them. It might be the difference between keeping their own children or sending them off to orphanages. With a kind of desperate urgency, Hannah taught them words and numbers to put them one step further from the awful fate that could await the uneducated (italics mine).

I enjoyed this read for a different reason than my usual love for 'all things Mary Connealy' and that is the orphan trains. I'm sure I'd learned about them somewhere along the line as I love  american history. Mary, however, put names and faces on those kids for me though, which made them seem real and therefore more memorable. The social impact of illiteracy is just as important today as it was in any time before us. Thanks for another great read Mary!!!!!

The Lightkeeper's Daughter by Colleen Coble

This is a suspenseful story about a young girl that is washed onshore after being shipwrecked. She's raised by a doting adoptive father and cruel mother and she finds herself full of intrigue and in danger. This story has many twists and turns in it. Just when I thought that I'd figured it out, something would change. The romantic side of the story should've been a bit more tense for me but it was a romantic mystery, afterall, not a mysterious romance! Semantics, I know but, there it is. I liked this story and the characters were well written. I couldn't put it down, so it was a good read.
Thanks to Angie for lending me the book!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Cowboy Christmas by Mary Connealy

Annette Talbot is in a traveling mission group when they encounter trouble and the next thing she knows, her captor wants her to wear a revealing dress and sing to a bunch of drunks! She escapes though and is running for her life. Why? Because she sings like an angel.
Elijah Walker is reeling from spending months investigating and bringing to justice his father's killer-a woman.
Is that the make up for another great Mary Connealy book? Sure as shooting, it is, partner. It's so good, it's won the 2010 Carol Award for Long Historical Romance!
Annette mistrusts all men now and Elijah mistrusts all women, too. Yet somehow, he can't help himself, he needs to help Annette. It doesn't help that his mother loves Annette either.
So begins the danger, hilarity, and romance.
I love historical fiction because it's a fun way to learn about history and this story shows how frontier women had to protect themselves from would be intruders, such as keeping a pipe up their sleeve as they worked through out their day, 'just in case.' I've been the victim of physical violence and knowing about strong women has helped me overcome it although it was years ago now and this book kicked up the 'suspense' meter just a bit. I love how Mary ends a section or chapter on one note and flips it around at the beginning of the next section or chapter. I laugh out loud nearly every time (and my family looks at me like I'm nuts for just a moment). The book ends at Christmas time so it didn't really feel like a Christmas story to me but the romance is quite good as usual. I absolutely loved the chapter heading graphics in this book, great idea! Just writing this review makes me want to read it again...
The sequel is Deep Trouble and I can't wait!!!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Calico Canyon by Mary Connealy

Grace Calhoun has escaped the abusive use of children in the textile mills (pre-child labor laws) to end up in a small town teaching children. She is having an especially hard time with 5 brothers, sons of a widower, when her nemesis finds her. As a way of escape, she stows away in a buckboard and ends up….where else but…at the boy’s home….snowed in for the winter! The town parson finds out and they end up married after the boys tell the parson that they'd slept  'together' and declare her unfit as a mother to boot!

I loved this Lassoed in Texas installment for its suspense, danger, humor, romantic tension, Christian influence, well, just like everything else Mary Connealy.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Forgotten by Melody Carlson from NavPress

Please take my personal review of Forgotten with a grain of salt. This is my first review for NavPress. The way this program works is that when you sign up to review for them, they offer you a few books to choose from, I believe it was 3. I prefer Christian Historical Fiction/Romance but that category was not available.
I had a hard time with Forgotten being written in first person. I picked it up thinking, “I committed to this review, so let’s get reading.” The very first page caught me and before I knew it, I was a third of the way through the book which was good. Then it slowed down, for me, because of the first person narrative mainly. The other characters were not as well developed as I would’ve liked either as this was written for teens.
I began to wonder: Where this book was going to end up at? Was she possibly going to attempt suicide? Where was God in this book except to criticize Adele’s Christian friends? Why would a teen want to read this as opposed to a classic that deals with the same issues? The story deals with all my questions eventually. It wraps up quite quickly, however, which was disappointing too, and made me think, “Is this how teens today expect a book to end, abruptly and neatly tied up with a bow?” My last question to myself is, “Would I let my teen read this book?” I have to answer, "I doubt it," because there is so much classical literature that addresses the issues of abandonment, neglect, society’s responsibilities toward the poor and homeless, social stigmas, etc. and does a better job of it, too. That's why they're called classics afterall, right?
I’ve had a hard time writing this review because, well, who would want to give a negative review? I’ve not read this author before and as stated earlier, this genre would not have otherwise interested me.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Hope Undaunted (Winds of Change, #1) by Julie Lessman

Katie Rose is the fourth daughter of Marcy and Patrick O'Connor and boy, does she have her life all planned out in a neat little package! She is going to go to college, marry wealthy, have only two children, and not ever be controlled by a man because she'd seen it too many times.... in her short years of eighteen.
We met this family in the Daughters of Boston series by Julie Lessman.  If you haven't already, you absolutely must read this series first, it gives you much more depth of understanding of, compassion for, and therefore enjoyment of, each character of the O'Connor family.
I did have a hard time connecting with Katie at first because she is very opinionated and headstrong, but then so am I, so what does that say? Eventually, I learned to like her as she struggles with the fact that God is God and God's plans for her are better than her own plans or what she could have imagined for herself, for that matter.
Cluney die for. I only thought I loved Faith's bad-boy husband, Collin, in A Passion Most Pure. Collin is still a bad boy of sorts in this book also. I kept thinking, 'Julie, oh no he isn't! You didn't write him doing this! You can't let him do this!' in my head as I was holding my breath and hurrying to get to I won't spoil it for you either.
Suffice it to say that Hope Undaunted its a must read.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Wrangler in Petticoats (Sophie's Daughters #2) by Mary Connealy

Well, this guy is an odd hero(Logan) for this time period for sure....but there were artists and female wranglers in the 1880s, so how great an idea for a book!
Sally is on her way to be with her sister Mandy whose 3rd baby is due. They've not seen each other in about 3 years since Mandy married her no-account husband. Without giving out a spoiler, Sally ends up in Logan's life, like it or not. He's a  no-account who thinks 'quick draw' means 'sketch a drawing quickly,' not 'save your hide with a gun'. He's obviously a city boy and will die out here in the wilderness soon because what he carries all the time is......a pencil.If that isn't funny beginning to a book, what is?
As always Mary Connealy tells a few stories at a time in one book which I love. I know the entire McClellan family as if they live around the bend from me.
To tell you a bit about how Sally and Logan communicate see this, Logan says:
“More beautiful than the mountains and waterfalls and soaring eagles.” The moment eased a bit when Sally’s smile stretched wide. “I’m prettier than jagged high-up hills; running water; and a hook-nosed, bald bird?” The smile turned to a laugh. “ I reckon you think that’s flattery, don’t you?”
And her sister Mandy thinks very similarly when Sidney (her husband) says:
"I respect who you are, but that doesn't mean you can't learn more womanly manners." Better manners? Maybe she'd say "please" when she took the butt of her gun to his head. And "thank you" after he passes out on the floor.
I"m laughing out loud even as I type this. What's the killer here is that Sharpshooter in Petticoats doesn't come out until 2011. I have no idea how I will get my Mary Connealy fix until then......Somebody rescue me, preferably on a horse, wearing a Stetson and a duster.....thank you very much.

Doctor in Petticoats(Sophie's Daughters) by Mary Connealy

You know how when a good book ends, you're a bit miffed that it ended when it did? Or you just wanted to know a bit more about these people's lives before it ends? Or 'So where did they end up living'? Well, that seems to be the feeling I get with every book I've read of Mary's! So darn frustrating that the story ends at all, never mind where it ends. I know every character in Mary's books as if they're my neighbors. Beth McClellan is a character close to my heart as I'm the only one in my generation (and only the second in my family) to graduate from college. My mother was a family pioneer of sorts-like Sophie McClellan and I, like her daughter, Beth, am a nurse who wants to take health care back home to give aid where needed. She finds herself giving aid to those around her, before she even gets home, at a stage coach accident. Who does she find to take care of but, Alex Buchanen, an army doctor who's deserted and  has PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)-well, that's what's called nowadays. It used to be called shell shocked in my parent's time and who knows if it even had a name in the 1880's? This book has lots of adventure, praying, and laughs, too. Could it get any better than that? Not if you want a light read that you just can't put down.

What kills me is that this book is the first of a series and the 3rd isn't out yet! I have to get this review done because I have Sophie's Daughter's waiting on me..... there's a gunfight, a broken leg to tend to and Mandy's due for her 3rd child any day! I've gotta go folks...

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Wildflower Bride by Mary Connealy

Another wild Montana ride is in this 3rd and last book of Montana Marriages. It picks up about a year or so after Montana Rose ended. We still have our Divide, Montana territory community of Belle and Silas Tanner..I mean, Harden, and Cassie and Red Dawson and, now, Wade and Glowing Sun (Abby) Sawyer.  Just to give you an idea how funny this series of books is, take a look at what Belle Tanner (a Calamity Jane type) is saying to Cassie Dawson (the extremely sheltered china doll type):
“We’ll work on roping and busting steers and the other chores any decent woman (italics mine) oughta know. It’s unbelievable you’ve never learned bronc riding. What is Red thinking? .... Have you ever cracked a bullwhip?” Cassie shook her head. she’d never even seen one. “I’d love to have you visit.”
My hiney would fall off from all the laughing, if know, 'laugh my hiney off'? I must not be a decent woman then, how about you? Anyways, just as Red Dawson has to kiss Cassie to distract her from a rant, Abby threatens Wade after every kiss and she's very good with a knife!
I couldn't connect with the characters in this installment as well as I could the previous two books though and I'm not sure why. The Wade character is very developed, more than Abby is actually. I wondered a few times why it wasn't named Wildflower Groom. It has everything I like in  good book so, it must've been me.
4 Stars for a Good Story- there are subplots galore and all good.
3 Stars for Chemistry-As my dear friend Angie's new banner says, 'I like my books the way I like coffee, Hot and with Chocolate.' This cup of joe was only lukewarm for me, alas...but I any kind of coffee too.
4 Stars for God's Influence-Wade's sadistic, abusive tyrant of a father even begins to soften a bit with some tough love and Christians all around and I gotta love that.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Montana Rose by Mary Connealy
This book is actually the first in a series but I had read #2 (The Husband Tree) first. Silly me. It's best to go in order, right? Like cutting in line at a store check out, it can lead to upsets. Well, I found this to not be much of a issue in this case. The only person who can get upset is me and I loved it anyway.

As with anything that is Mary Connealy related that I've read so far, Montana Rose can stand on it's own. Poor 'china doll' Cassandra. Through the first half of the book, she's widowed, accosted by a bunch of tobacco chewing, dirty, miners who want a wife and sex toy, then married to the guy who dug her husband's grave--while standing on her husband's grave!! Now she has to figure out how not to get punished by him for every little wrong.  Oh yeah, she's pregant, too. There's where it got really good.
Red, a minister-in-training/rancher, had protected her from the miners but, now had a wife. This little 'china doll' wants to be helpful but she's completely inept. Red realizes that his little 'china doll' has been neglected, her spirit beaten down, lied to about how women are expected to behave, and deliberately uninformed about life-brainwashed into being an ornament, not a wife. How's he going to end up with a God fearing helpmate? You'll just have to read it and see. I laughed out loud all the way through Chapters 22 and 23 when she's having the baby.
4 Stars for Story Depth- I feel like I know all those characters as if they live nearby. The subplot of Belle and Anthony is full of conflict too.
3 Stars for Heat- This story didn't call for heat as much as tenderness, patience, and perserverance and Montana Rose is full of it all.
4 Stars for the God factor-I love how God is portrayed by Red all through this book and eventually Cassie sees God for who He is too.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Beyond This Moment by Tamera Alexander

Ah, another good read Ms. Alexander. This damsel in distress reminds me of Tess of the d'Urbervilles, to begin with; Molly's been used......and discarded.....then cast out under duress and finds herself getting off a train in the Colorado Territory. I like the inner conflict of self preservation and following God's will and ways put into story form. We all have it. Romans 7:19 says, 'For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.' She has one moment of poor judgment and then tells one lie...that turns into another and the conflict continues with guilt, self loathing, and remorse added to the mix. All the while praying for God to get her out of the mess with no wrinkles in her dress to boot!
As we all do, she prays about it, sees the natural consequences and concludes that it's all punishment from God. But Molly is a tough cookie who really deep down knows her God; the circumstances feel bigger than Him. The fun part of this book is seeing just how God manages to use each indiscretion, mistake, and lie to His good. Her dress still manages to get wrinkled though. ;0)
I can't wait for my next installment Tamera! Within My Heart is due out in September, I believe.
5 Stars for Story Depth- the secondary and tertiary dramas going on are great!
4 Stars for the Temperature Setting- Boy, it was warm in those mountains! Lots of goosebumps and butterflies as well as nail biting here.
4 Stars for Celestial Inspiration- I'm reminded yet again, that even though I keep stirring up my own pot, God knows how to cook this stew much better than me. It's His recipe and I'm only one of the ingredients.

The Husband Tree by Mary Connealy

I adored this book, cover to cover! Belle begins her story by throwing dirt onto her third dead husband's face while burying him and berating herself for marrying him. I chuckle as I'm keying this in. There are chuckles all the way through, too. I love when a book can make me laugh out loud or any other visceral reaction. Mary Connealy is one of my new favorite authors, for sure and for certain.
When I was a teenager I envisioned myself as a nurse midwife roaming the Kentucky hills on horseback and tending to my bunch of Appalachian folks. Quite romantic, right? Well, I am a nurse and I did work in Labor and Delivery for some years, but the reality is much different than the dream-thank God. Especially after reading Bell's trials in the Rockies on horseback, I can truthfully be thankful that I was born in the 20th century and not before. I just don't see me changing a diaper on a snow-drifted mountain pass while in the saddle on a cattle drive! There's lots of similarities between Belle and me though. I'm  a blunt, upfront kind of gal-what you see is what you get.
Here's my ratings:
4 stars for Story Depth. I couldn't tell just what was coming around the corner with this one and I love that.
3 stars for (a term I just learned) Edgy Romance. A bit too spicy for my teen but nicely warm for me.
3 stars for Inspiring me. You can definitely see the characters growing here but it's as much on a personal level as growth with God Himself.
Maybe I should add a Laugh Factor....hmm, If I did Husband Tree would get all 5 stars!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

From a Distance (Timber Ridge Reflections, Book1) by Tamera Alexander
 Well, this was an interesting ride for sure. Antebellum Washington DC, Colorado, Franklin, TN--this heroine gets around! This story starts with Elizabeth on the precipice of a cliff and almost ends there too! It's full of adventure, intrigue, and danger with a smattering of flirting mixed in too. I liked that the characters all evolve, as time goes by, in their walk with God. Each one carries their own emotional baggage around with them (as we all do) allowing the baggage to influence their feelings, thoughts, and then actions. But like us, the characters have to deal with 'all that junk.' This book also takes so many hot topics and through the characters, deals with them through God's eyes--war, bigotry, prejudices against black people, country people, city people, poor, rich, etc.
As I'm am American History junkie, I have to love the explanations of the battles, the Maroon Bells, the Whitworth rifle, and of course, corsets. Why corsets intrigue me I have no idea.

As my 'ratings' system is evolving, here goes:
1 to 5 stars (with 1 being the worst and 5 the best of the best).

5 stars for story depth-especially for the American History junkie in me. Again, why I'm intrigued by corsets?

3 stars for the 'heat factor'- I would like to have seen a bit more in that department. I was moved to tears during many fireside talks and other moments when Daniel or Josiah were sharing their life experiences though.

4 stars for the 'God factor'- One of the 3 main characters was usually having a conversation  with Him or argument with Him or attitude adjustment by HIm at most anytime in the story and I gotta love that.

Now, I've read 2 books in two days. What's up with that you say?
Sinus Infection + Asthma bout = lots of books. I'm milking it too.  l0)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Pearl In The Sand by Tessa Afshar

OMGoodness! My new favorite book! I loved this fictional historical bio on Rahab. What's left to say? Well, a lot. It has all the elements of a good story in my mind-great depth, heat, and God(not necessarily in that order mind you). Tessa, if you see this little blog of mine, I just can't say enough about how you brought a Bible character to life for me. We all well know the story of how 'Joshua Fi't the Battle at Jericho' and Rahab's part in the story but the rest is up to our imaginations. We usually don't spend enough time on the 'little characters' that are in such a big story but by writing this book, you've expounded on the 'not so little' choices she had to make and her part in the big picture. You made her real. Rahab is my new hero. I needed a hero this week too.
It starts out with the probable situation in which Rahab finds herself--needing to help support the family--and a possible theory on how she became a prostitute. A young Rahab is forced into prostitution by necessity-she didn't know God at this point. She faces so many choices along the way and her strength is what strikes me most. This book makes me view the choices I have today in a different light. Am I taking the 'road less travelled' or the seemingly easier one? Her very real fears are put on paper for me to see that God can handle it all. This is the best inspirational book I've read in a long time!!
'Rahab learned to cling to God in the midst of her sorrows: to believe in the Lord more than she feared pain. For me, that is one of the most crucial components of faith. Like Rahab, I want to be a person who gives God full access to every part of my soul, even if that access sometimes hurts because it involves the demolition of my walls.' This quote from Tessa Afshar's blog says it all for me.

I certainly hope Tessa Afshar has intentions of writing more books and I can't wait!!
This book will be published September 1, 2010 by the ISBN: 9780802458810. by Moody Publishers
See for more.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Goodness Gracious Green by Judy Christie
As I live in a small southern city, I am always intrigued to learn what an author might write about my little part of the world. Will they portray all southerners to be uneducated, unshod and poor or ‘socially educated’ (in the ways of ‘all things polite’) or as they really are? Me? I’m highly educated, love shoes, middle class and hopefully ‘socially educated’, too, really. LOL

Lois, the main character, hails from Ohio and moves to Louisiana to run a small town newspaper. The story begins after she’s spent just enough time in the Deep South to decide to stay. Then things start happening…
I look for 3 main factors when enjoying a book. Does the story have depth or can I tell you what’s coming next? Will the character’s relationship with God inspire me? What’s the temperature of the romance?

Goodness Gracious Green is a great story! I really had no idea what would happen next and I have to love that-keeps me glued to my seat and the book, you know? What would be next, after the fires, the vandalism? And how about that hot topic—all those Mexicans getting across our borders? How do you deal with them? It wasn’t too heavy either. I don’t want to read a political expose’ during a romance novel. At the beginning of each chapter is a snippet from our fictional newspaper, which is a great touch, and I loved each one!
Although the characters are church going folks and talk about praying more and did pray, I don’t see Lois as a character that would inspire me per se’, although I shared her fears and struggles. It was a story about living out our convictions as Christians. She has to stand up for justice despite potential consequences on more than one occasion and I love that.
This was a light romance for sure and that was ok for me. I’ve read a few heavy titles recently and needed a light read. The ‘heat factor’ was friendly, not even lukewarm really. The romance took a backseat to the real story, which again, was riveting.
If you’re looking for a light read that keeps you riveted, Goodness Gracious Green will do just that.

The Sari Shop Widow by Shobhan Bantwal
I grew up in a large city where, on the river, Heritage Weekends were held during the summers. Each week a different nationality was featured with the various foods, dance, music of that heritage was enjoyed. The local university had an engineering school where many people from other lands came to get an education, so they could return home and make life better. I became enamored with all things Indian. I made friends with several folks from India, immediately loved wearing saris, and enjoyed so many new foods. When I saw Sari Shop Widow in the Kindle store under the Christian Romance tag, I just knew it was for me.

The main character is a young adult widow who lives with her parents who help her run her upscale sari boutique. As I am very traditional in my own worldview, I love the arrangement for her and for them.

When I’m reading, I’m usually looking for, first of all, a good story, then some heat between the characters and God’s influence on them.

I was not disappointed for the most part. The story has depth, I feel like I know the characters personally. She struggles with the future of her shop, honoring her parents, living her life in her way…..all the same struggles that most of us have. Her parents struggle with the same things that I struggle with as a parent of two beautiful daughters. I have the same intrusive family members that she has and struggle to put up with. The story was not predictable either, which I really appreciate. I mean, I can still enjoy a story even when I know what’s going to happen next, but it is way better when a surprise or two are thrown in there.
The ‘heat factor’ was certainly there! Ooh boy howdy. That’s all on that for now.
Here’s where the book let me down-through no fault of its own though. I love technology as much as the next 21st century gal but the Christian tag on this book was off. While there are many Christian Indians, this family was not. The ‘rich uncle’ did his rituals at 4am, which was humorous to be sure, but God had no influence on them. God’s name was vainly spoken a few times and one character used many expletives in his daily speech. I can only assume that because the word God was used in the book that the tag of ‘Christian’ was added.
Now, back to the ‘heat factor’… Because this is not a Christian book and most of America is promiscuous, I can’t fault the premarital sex from my personal worldview. I wouldn't have written premarital sex in. It's much hotter to see the struggle to abstain, than to see the characters give in.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book with the limitations noted above. If you can live with the language and the really spicy stuff, then by all means, you will love this book!

Friday, August 6, 2010

My First Book Review-Valeria's Cross
There were a few spelling/grammatical errors-next book I'll take note of where, etc.

My interests are listed on as Christian, Historical, Romance, and a few others.  Just so you know a bit about me, I'm a devoted Jane Austen fan, love Mary Connealy's humor and spunk, and love Julie Lessman's and Deeanne Gist's 'hotness factor' (to coin a phrase from my dear friend, Angie). I really tend to see things like a movie in my head as I'm reading. Although the description listed with this book appears to be like any typical historical romance, Valeria's Cross was not for me.
It's Christian and Historical to be sure. I learned the probable beginning of people making the sign of the cross across their face or chests and the use of ashes on the forehead. However, it was like reading about a woman's love life and spiritual struggles in the middle of a 3rd century holocaust. Well, it was a holocaust.
Valeria's personal struggles with being a new Christian and a royal seemed real. Also, her realization of her physical response to a man's touch were very real. However, the spiritual and romantic struggles took a back seat to the Christian slayings (probably because of my visual imagination) and that's where things went wrong for me. There is no part of Valeria's life left unscathed. From her emperor father that arranges marriage to her beloved's killer to her son's blood splattering on her face to the color of her eyes changing as her head rolled off the chopping block(--ew/cringe--and I'm a surgery nurse)! 
I'm thinking,'This was not what I expect from a romance novel.' She does experience love and joy to some extent, but, for me, she took a back seat to the pagan sacrifices and Christians deaths.