Saturday, December 31, 2011

Favorites of 2011

It took me long enough, I know. It was harder than you realize to narrow down the list too. I had 25 books designated as favorites this year. I didn't think you all would let me list them all, so I had to go through them and pick out those that were the very best of the best. Here's that list (in ABC order):

Best of 2011

1. A Lasting Impression by Tamera Alexander ~ I still think this is one of the most most stunning covers. I love looking at the book - and the inside is just as good.

2. Dance of the Dandelion by Dina L. Sleiman ~ This was one of those fantastic surprises you're so thankful you got a chance to read. If you haven't yet ... 

3. Letting Go by Michelle Sutton ~ Michelle tackles subjects other authors wouldn't want to come anywhere close to. This is a great example of how well she does it.

4. Surrender the Dawn by M.L. Tyndall ~ I pre-order all her books and haven't regretted it yet. They all have plenty of adventure and romance. 

5. Surrender the Night by MaryLu Tyndall ~ This is one of those stories that reaches off the page and captures your heart. I felt I lived it all with Rose.

6. The Colonel's Lady by Laura Franz ~ This one had everything ~ a little mystery, a little adventure, a lot of romance, colorful characters ... I didn't want it to end.

7. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins ~ {blushing} I didn't read the 1st book until this year. It's my favorite book in the series. If you don't know what all the fuss is about, you should really check it out. It's great fodder for discussion.

8. The Lady of Bolton Hill by Elizabeth Camden ~ I talk a lot about characters, but this book sort of exemplified what those can mean to a story. Gorgeous.

9. The Merchant's Daughter by Melanie Dickerson ~ This is pure magic. She manages to make the story totally new and keep the heart at the same time.

10. While We're Far Apart by Lynn Austen ~ This has a lot of layers - and tons about relationships. I found it very touching and the kind of thing that changes you ... makes you feel as if you've read about real people.

Well, that's my list. I thought about adding honorable mentions, but I better end before it gets to be every book I read this year. lol

Friday, December 30, 2011

Heart of Ice

Summary:
The Triple Threat Club novels follow three fiercely intelligent women-a TV reporter, a Federal prosecutor and an FBI agent-as they investigate crimes as current as today's headlines.
The Triple Threat women have faced intense situations before…but never such a cunningly cold-blooded murderer.
Elizabeth Avery is a stunningly beautiful woman. But her perfectly managed exterior hides the ice cold heart of a killer.  She ingeniously manipulates everyone who crosses her path to do exactly as she wishes--from crime reporter Cassidy Shaw, who thinks Elizabeth is her new best friend, to a shy young man Elizabeth persuades to kill for her.
As Elizabeth leaves a trail of bodies in her wake, Federal prosecuter Allison Pierce and FBI agent Nicole Hedges must piece together clues from seemingly unrelated crimes. Can they stop her before she reaches her unthinkable, ultimate end-game?

My take: This is the third book in the series, something I didn't know when I chose it. I think it would benefit readers to read the others in the series first - not for the story but so you can better "bond" with the characters.

Elizabeth is fascinating and very well written. I disliked her immensely, but I couldn't take my eyes off my Kindle when she was there. I wanted to see what she would do next.

The "triple threat" all did their jobs well and were pretty realistic. Their friendship didn't get in the way of the case (I've known some books that have done that - and it becomes more about the friendship than the mystery). The problem was that I hadn't read the other novels so the relationship felt somewhat shallow to me.

Although this is put out by a Christian publisher, one of the three is very anti-religion and one is a Christian who mentions she prays every now and then. There is no Christian themes or people accepting Christ, no prayers, sermons or anything like that in the book. This could just as easily have been published by a secular publisher.

It was an interesting story the pacing was good throughout. I want to thank Thomas Nelson for providing my copy in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New Year Giveaway


There is a giveaway being hosted at Stiletto Storytime for Queen Hereafter by Susan Fraser King. Hurry because the fun ends midnight, December 31, 2011 (EST).

Here's the summary of the book:

Refugee. Queen. Saint. In eleventh-century Scotland, a young woman strives to fulfill her destiny despite the risks . . .

Shipwrecked on the Scottish coast, a young Saxon princess and her family—including the outlawed Edgar of England—ask sanctuary of the warrior-king Malcolm Canmore, who shrewdly sees the political advantage. He promises to aid Edgar and the Saxon cause in return for the hand of Edgar’s sister, Margaret, in marriage.

A foreign queen in a strange land, Margaret adapts to life among the barbarian Scots, bears princes, and shapes the fierce warrior Malcolm into a sophisticated ruler. Yet even as the king and queen build a passionate and tempestuous partnership, the Scots distrust her. When her husband brings Eva, a Celtic bard, to court as a hostage for the good behavior of the formidable Lady Macbeth, Margaret expects trouble. Instead, an unlikely friendship grows between the queen and her bard, though one has a wild Celtic nature and the other follows the demanding path of obligation.
Torn between old and new loyalties, Eva is bound by a vow to betray the king and his Saxon queen. Soon imprisoned and charged with witchcraft and treason, Eva learns that Queen Margaret—counseled by the furious king and his powerful priests—will decide her fate and that of her kinswoman Lady Macbeth. But can the proud queen forgive such deep treachery?


~~~~
Sounds great, right? Good luck and let me know if you read it first. :o)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Merchant's Daughter

Summary: An unthinkable danger. An unexpected choice.Annabel, once the daughter of a wealthy merchant, is trapped in indentured servitude to Lord Ranulf, a recluse who is rumored to be both terrifying and beastly. Her circumstances are made even worse by the proximity of Lord Ranulf's bailiff---a revolting man who has made unwelcome advances on Annabel in the past.Believing that life in a nunnery is the best way to escape the escalation of the bailiff's vile behavior and to preserve the faith that sustains her, Annabel is surprised to discover a sense of security and joy in her encounters with Lord Ranulf. As Annabel struggles to confront her feelings, she is involved in a situation that could place Ranulf in grave danger. Ranulf's future, and possibly his heart, may rest in her hands, and Annabel must decide whether to follow the plans she has cherished or the calling God has placed on her heart.

My Take: I think someone needs to check Melanie Dickerson for a magic wand. She knows how to weave an almost magical tale that manages to reinvent the classic tale completely and yet keep it's heart and soul. 

This is one of those perfect books. From the cover, (I thought it was so cleverly designed. I love his reflection in the mirror on her arm.) to the last page,  you are totally submersed in the world she has created. She balances it so perfectly that you aren't overwhelmed with details about how they live.

The progression or pace of the story is done very well also. Instead of Annabel immediately falling for Ranulf (or the other way around), their relationship slowly develops over time. In the meantime there is plenty to keep you interested and flipping pages. Will she really go to the convent? Will the villagers accept Lord Ranulf or will they blame him for their troubles? That kind of thing. 

I loved the back story she gave Ranulf to explain his appearance and attitude. She is wonderfully creative. I shut the book and actually sighed with contented pleasure - beaming all the while. It made me feel like a twelve year old girl again -- lying on my bed and dreaming about fairly tales. Thank you for bringing back that lovely feeling. I can't wait for whatever she decides to do next. 

I do need to thank the publisher for providing my copy in exchange for my honest review. It didn't influence me in any way, but I appreciate their generosity. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Christmas Quiz

This is a picture of our old house - all dressed up for Christmas - that we now have to rent or sell. :o(

I got this idea from Diane Estrella's blog That's What I'm Here For.

  1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? I'm not ashamed to say Hot Chocolate - and with all the mini marshmallows I can fit in my mug. :o) 
  2. Colored lights on tree/house or white?  I like white. We used to have enough space at the old house to have two trees -- one in the entryway that had colored lights and kind of funny decorations and one in the living room that was white and gold. Now it's just the white and gold.
  3. Do you hang mistletoe? No. We're actually pretty low key about decorating inside. We switch out some pictures, cover the tables with Christmas mats and runners, put up an advent candle wreath, hang stockings ... I have a corkboard that I covered with a "Christmasy" plaid and we attach our cards to it. We have a Nativity that stays out all year and we put up a tree and a couple small decorations - but that is about it. 
  4. When do you put your decorations up? Usually we do it Thanksgiving weekend. It was a little later this time because we had to travel to do work on the other house to try and get it ready to rent/sell.                        
  5. What is your favorite holiday dish? I like the homemade bread... then I guess Buttermilk pie ... candied sweet potatoes. 
  6. Favorite Holiday memory as a child? I remember the first year my parents used all white lights on the tree. I sat under it at night and saw the glow ... I sung Silent Night over and over to myself and felt like I finally understood what that star lighting the way was all about. It's why I like white lights now.
  7. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I was fairly young - but one of those ... precocious children - always hanging out with adults and acting more mature than I was. I must have been 6 or 7. I had decided they were lying to me about Santa and I was going to catch them "in the act." Then they wouldn't be able to lie anymore. Our house was a bi-level and they had the tree downstairs and our bedrooms upstairs. I waited until I heard them putting together the presents and I slipped down to the staircase and watched for a little while. Then I confronted them - crying. I told them lying was bad and they shouldn't do it to someone they loved. So they must not love me. Then I ran off to bed. The next morning they explained why they had done the Santa thing but I was not budging. I told them it meant more to me that they picked out the gifts for me. They agreed not to "do" Santa anymore and I agreed not to talk about Santa with any other children. lol The next couple years were hard on my family and it really did mean a lot to know how they sacrificed for us.
  8. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? We used to. The boys got older and started wanting less presents. Partly because their own faith was stronger and they wanted to focus more on others - and partly because what few gifts they got were more expensive. So we started saving all the gifts for Christmas morning.
  9. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? How? We use an artificial tree - it helps my allergies, saves a tree, helps with the cats, saves money ... There's a picture below.   
  10. Snow! Love it or dread it? I don't like snow except to look at when it has just fallen.
  11. Do you remember your favorite gift? Nope. I know it sounds strange, but I don't like getting gifts.
  12. What is your favorite holiday dessert? Making a body pick? Totally unfair!
  13. Candy Canes: Yuck or Yum? I like them - for a while. They can get old fast.
  14. Favorite Christmas movie? I don't know - I'm a sap for all of them. 
  15. What is your favorite Christmas song? "Little Drummer Boy"  & "Silent Night"  
  

    Your turn! Take the quiz on your blog and let me know here so I can check out your answers. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and the Happiest New Year. I hope you have a wonderful time with friends and family - making memories, eating wonderful food, playing games with each other, and taking turns giving and receiving not just presents - but presence. Blessings to you all. {hugs}

    Wednesday, December 14, 2011

    Wordless Wednesdays

    I don't often share pictures of my family on the internet. I like to ... protect them and let them choose to share what and when they want. My oldest son recently got married and I am so happy for them both. This is one of my favorite pictures from that day. Isn't it romantic?

    Sunday, December 11, 2011

    Save 30% on The Christmas Singing

    After Gideon coldly broke her heart, can the warmth of the season revive Mattie’s hopes?
    Mattie thought her childhood sweetheart adored her until he abruptly ended their engagement on Christmas Eve.

    Three years later, will learning the truth behind his rejection restore her Christmas joy – or open the door to even deeper heartbreak?

    Spend Christmas with the Amish in this story of love, romance, heartache, and restoration.



    ~~~~~~


    If you love Amish fiction, I've got good news for you. Right now you can have 30% off and free shipping on The Christmas Singing (and any other title) when you use promo code CHRISTMAS11 at checkout at http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/ . The coupon code expires on December 20th, 2011.

    I haven't read this one yet, but if you'd like more of a peek, here's the trailer:


    Enjoy the book and the sale!

    Thursday, December 8, 2011

    The Soul Reader

    Summary:  The two people Ward McNulty most wished he could forget were the woman he once loved and the man he still hated.

    He succeeded sometimes by smothering their memory under mounds of activity-his physical rehabilitation, looking for a job, and staving off foreclosure. But try as he might, it was always there-just under the surface, like smoldering embers embedded in layers of ash, needing only a breath of oxygen to burst into flame. And that's exactly what happens one sunny Saturday afternoon, when Carrie Hope unexpectedly breezes back into his life.

    It is a year after his father's murder when Carrie asks Ward to assist her in writing a book about the North Beach Project, the money-laundering scheme that led to his father's death. Ward initially turns her down. He knows that reopening the investigation would be dangerous for three reasons. First, it could cost them their lives-the identity of the man behind the scheme remains a mystery, and he would do almost anything to keep it that way. Secondly, it may cost Ward his very soul if he gets sucked back into the vortex of hatred and revenge that he has just escaped. And finally, Ward does not know if he or Carrie could survive falling in love and hurting each other yet again.

    But when Carrie decides to pursue the investigation without him, Ward is faced with a difficult choice: he can allow her to go it alone and possibly get killed . . . or he can join her in hopes of being able to protect her. Ward's uncanny insight might give him an edge-and allow him to see the evil coiled in the jumbled foliage of the North Beach Project before it has a chance to strike. He decides to collaborate with her on the book, but on his terms, and thereby launches a series of events that span the globe-from Colombia to Rome-and make Ward and Carrie the target of the most dangerous assassin in the western hemisphere, a man known only as "Culebra."

    It is in seeking justice that Ward discovers mercy-and love-once again.

    My Take: I had no idea this was a sequel to In Sight when I started reading it. The author did a great job filtering in the necessary back story from the first book so I never felt lost - just intrigued enough that I still want to read it. :o)

    The plot in the book kept me flipping pages to find out what was going to happen. It was exciting and tense. I loved all the twists and turns. The action felt realistic and intense at the same time.

    I liked Carrie and Ward - and the romantic tension between them felt natural. The secondary characters were complex and interesting as well. I especially appreciated the villains. I wish some of the characters had been described a little better/sooner though. I went through about half the book without figuring out one of them was African American. He's described exiting a plane and I thought to myself that an established character should already have a description by then - because we've already made our own picture of all the players at that point.

    That's one very small point in a great book. This book has a lot to offer. I want to thank the publisher for providing my copy in exchange for my honest review.

    Tuesday, December 6, 2011

    The Land Beyond the Portal


    Summary:  It's a dark, snowy night when Laura awakens at the bottom of a staircase with a horrible headache and no idea how she got there. To make matters worse, she is alone in the house, snowed in by a blizzard, with no way to call for help. While exploring the house in a desperate attempt to trigger the return of her memory, she discovers a small room beneath the basement. She steps inside, and an unknown force instantly transports her to a mysterious, pastoral land.

    She finds a quaint village that at first glance seems like a peaceful place; but Laura soon learns that peace is merely an illusion. Why are terrible rumors circulating about the village's leader? Why do the villagers worship a sinister deity who bears no resemblance to her own powerful and loving God? Most importantly, will she ever remember who she is and find her way home? In her quest for answers, she uncovers a myriad of forbidden secrets that might keep her trapped in The Land Beyond the Portal.


    My Take: There were some very inventive and creative twists to this plot as well as some very obvious nods to iconic literary legends like Narnia. Most of the time the action kept the plot moving at a good pace.

    There were some inconsistencies that nagged at me - some more than others. One was that despite her coming through a portal (and their knowledge that others had as well) it was evidently never considered that the royal family's son may have accidentally fallen into one - instead of all the foul ends they dream up as rumors. 

    The faith aspect was somewhat confusing as well. Litchfield is set up as a false god and she is warned that the people are brainwashed into this all encompassing faith of him -- but little is mentioned about it. Most of the people don't mention him at all unless she asks. Her own faith is supposed to be strong but there isn't any mention of it in the beginning - very little in the middle - and suddenly she is wanting to evangelize everyone at the end. 


    Her memory loss was unusual. She found a name and thought it sounded like her - or didn't - and adopted it. She couldn't remember her past or what happened, but remembered musical pieces and things like that. She remembered geographical features as well ... I'm no expert - and it was never explained how or why that could happen so it just felt off. 


    Without giving anything away, the author's premise of how Laura ended up where she did (as well as the rest of the people) was creative and interesting. The book is fairly short -- maybe it would have been even better had there been more time spent developing her ideas and characters.


    The publisher provided me a copy in exchange for my honest review.

    Friday, December 2, 2011

    Dance of the Dandelion

    Summary: Love's quest leads her the world over.
    Dandelion Dering was born a peasant in the English village of Arun, but her soul yearned for another life, another world. One filled with color and music, with adventure and passion... with more.
    Haunted by childhood memories, Dandelion determines to find a better existence than the life every peasant in the village contents themselves with. Even if her sweetheart William's predictions prove true, and her journey leads straight to heartache.
    From her sleepy hamlet to the intrigue of castle life, from the heart of London to the adventurous seas, Dandelion flees from the mistakes of her past, always seeking that something, that someone who will satisfy her longings.
    Will Dandelion ever find the rhythm to her life's dance... or did she leave her chance for true love at home in Arun village?


    My Take : This book was a total surprise for me. When I saw the cover I thought it was going to be a fluffy read. It wasn't at all. This was one of the most ... "true" books I've read. 

    Dandelion (again a kind of ... fluffy name) is a character yearning for more. More romance, more security, more adventure, more education, more ... of everything than she thinks she can get from the little village she lives in and the people in it. She dreams of a knight to ride up, swoop her into his arms, and carry her away from all her troubles and into a happily ever after. What happens is a lot more complicated than that. She learns that the castle is not all she expected and money doesn't always bring the happiness or even the security she had been expecting. All along there is this emptiness that no amount of fancy clothes can fill.

    The story really revolves around Dandelion turning from a dreamy-eyed girl into a mature woman who is willing to accept the consequences for her actions and, even more importantly, is concerned about what other people might need and want and how she can best meet those needs. It's an amazing transformation and how it happens is so gradual and realistic that it resonates with you the whole way. Part of you totally relates to her dreams and desires in the beginning -- and you can also relate with her as she makes her journey (though I admit to screaming at the book, "Talk to him!" more than once. :o) 


    Characters make the story -- and this book was populated with very complex and genuine people. I believed in them. I enjoyed spending time in their world. The faith aspects were important to the story, but you never felt like you were being beat over the head with them. It just felt like an integral part of the lives of these - flawed, but evolving characters. 


    This one is going on my list to choose favorites of the year. I want to thank the publisher, White Fire Publishing, for providing my copy in exchange for my honest review.

    Wednesday, November 30, 2011

    Wordless Wednesdays

    I love how my dog and cat are almost morphed into one. Plus - look how Thomas is twisted. How can cats do that without needing a chiropractor? ;o)

    Thursday, November 24, 2011

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving - filled with lots of food, family, and blessings.

    Tuesday, November 22, 2011

    A Lasting Impression

    Summary:
    Claire Laurent's greatest aspiration is to paint something that will bring her acclaim. Yet her father insists she work as a copyist. A forger. When she's forced to flee her home, her path collides with attorney Sutton Monroe, who shows her kindness by not turning her in to authorities. But when he later refuses to come to her aid, Claire fears she's sorely misjudged him. Finding herself among the elite of Nashville society, Claire believes her dream of creating a lasting impression in the world of art is within reach—but only if her past remains hidden.
    The Federal Army destroyed Sutton's home, confiscated his land, and threatens to destroy his family's honor. His determination to reclaim what belongs to him reveals a truth that may cost him more than he ever imagined—as well as the woman he loves.
    Set at Nashville's historic Belmont Mansion, a stunning antebellum manor built by Adelicia Acklen, A Lasting Impression is a sweeping love story about a nation mending after war, the redemption of those wounded, and the courage of a man and woman to see themselves—and each other—for who they really are.

    My Take: Sigh ... From the breathtaking cover (I imagined what it would be like to wear that dress - didn't you?) to the last page, I was totally immersed in the world she created. I felt totally satisfied at the end, like I'd been seated at a Thanksgiving meal -- every dish special and created with love.

    Nothing went to waste in this story either. The plot moves like a southern dance. It never drags or goes so fast you can't keep up. It's as beautiful to watch (read) as it is to participate. The beginning of the story is bittersweet. There is hardship and sadness, but you feel and see the promise of a new future ahead.

    The setting is gorgeous. I loved the details that went into telling us about Belmont and the art. The true life details only made the story more fascinating.

    Then there are the characters. They are both determined and have integrity. They both want to rebuild their lives in one way or another. They also are private people and keep things to themselves. What is really wonderful about this book is watching not just their love grow - but their respect for each other. There is a real relationship for these two. They admire each other -- and they share some pretty nice kisses too. ;o)

    I want to thank Bethany House publishers for providing me my copy in exchange for my honest review. This one is going on my list to pick favorites from. I hope you'll put it on your reading pile.  

    Wednesday, November 16, 2011

    Wordless Wednesdays

    Today I thought I'd share a bit of what I'm thinking about a possible book cover for the fibro book I'm working on. This gorgeous creature is a Ulysses butterfly. It comes in everything from that bright blue to the beautiful turquoise below - and varying amounts of black on the edges of the wings. I thought with a sort of misty, "foggy" cover -- and then one or two of these guys bursting through ... It would be so pretty. Right now I'm just enjoying them in the midst of the cloudy and cool weather.

    Tuesday, November 15, 2011

    Indelible

    Summary: In a clash of light and darkness, the tenacity of love is illuminated.
    When Trevor MacDaniel, a high country outfitter, rescues a toddler from the jaws of a mountain lion, he can’t foresee the far-reaching consequences of his action, how it will entwine his life with gifted sculptor, Natalie Reeve—and attract a grim admirer.

    Trevor’s need to guard and protect is born of tragedy, prompting his decision to become a search and rescue volunteer. Natalie’s gift of sculpting comes from an unusual disability that seeks release through her creative hands. In each other they see strength and courage as they face an incomprehensible foe.

    Drawn by the heroic story of the child’s rescue, a twisted soul sees Trevor as archangel and adversary, and threatens their peaceful mountain community—testing Trevor’s limits by targeting their most helpless and innocent.


    My Take: Kristen Heitzmann knows how to write in a way that is ... eerily beautiful. She manages to totally creep you out and draw you in at the same time. I don't know how --- but this book shows it more than any other of hers I've read. 


    I'm pretty good at guessing the clues and figuring out plot lines but she had me baffled until she wanted me to know something. This was one of those books that pulls you along -- almost daring you to flip the next page to see what she's going to come up with next.


    The action in the plot was fabulous. The characters were very well written. The romance was sweet with sparks. I loved the way all these ... special people with different gifts and challenges all came together and complimented each other. 


    I got this book through the Blogging for Books program in exchange for my honest review.

    Monday, November 14, 2011

    Monday Musings - We Want A Hero

    I have two sons. Add in my husband and I am most definitely outnumbered by testosterone in my house. So we always go see the action and hero flicks. Truthfully I don't mind very much. I'm a romance fan after all - and what's more romantic than the notion of someone heroic coming in, risking life and limb to save all of us?

    Has anyone else noticed that there seem to be a lot of these kinds of movies releasing lately? I'm not complaining, just making an observation. 








    I have a theory (and I could be way off track) but I wonder if it has something to do with the state of the nation. Our economy is horrible, jobs are hard to find, gas and food prices are up ...

    Maybe these stories hold such appeal because we want a hero to fix the real problems we face in life.



     It could also be that we remember these heroes from when we were younger - and life at least seemed simpler to us. Maybe it just makes us feel good to see them conquer evil just like they did not so many years ago. ;o)

    Whatever the reason, I know my family is enjoying the trend. Is yours? Do you have a favorite? A least favorite? Are you looking forward to the new movie coming out with a lot of them together, The Avengers? Share about your favorite heroes/hero movies.





    Wednesday, November 9, 2011

    His Steadfast Love

    Summary: In one of the most heartbreaking times in American history, a Southern preacher's daughter makes a tragic error that pits her against the very people she loves most.
    It's the spring of 1861 on the Gulf Coast of Texas. Although Amanda Belle never thought she would marry, her attraction to Captain Kent Littlefield is undeniable.
    When Texas secedes from the Union, her brother Daniel marches off to war to fight for the Confederate States and Kent remains with the Union troops.
    Her heart is torn between the two men she loves and the two sides of the conflict. When she turns to God for help, Amanda expects direction and support, but hears nothing. Is God listening to her anymore? Does He not care about the atrocities of war-and whose side is He on?
    The war is dragging on for much longer than expected, and Amanda struggles between the opposing philosophies of slavery. But after the death of her pastor father, she learns some hard truths about love, the human condition, and God's role in her life.
    Amanda must trust God to bring her family through the chaos that threatens her home, her family, and the beloved state of Texas.

    My Take: I think I've shared before that I find books about war difficult to read. I like this author so I chose it anyway. She did a fantastic job researching the era and allowing the reader to see through the eyes of characters on both sides of the conflict.

    There is plenty going on to keep the plot from dragging. Whether you're with the families left behind and struggling to deal with how to survive on less, trying to get supplies past enemy troop lines and waiting to hear from loved ones or you're the soldiers dealing with fighting and even capture, it's not boring.

    The characters feel authentic as well. They all seem true to their own roles. Amanda's family is Southern through and through. Her brother, Daniel, can't wait to fight for their way of life. Her father is a man of deep faith and convictions.

    Before the war she meets Captain Kent Littlefield. He attends their church and talks about settling in the area. The rumors of war have already started though, and her father forbids the blooming romance. Kent's family also discourages him.

    I liked the strength of the two characters individually. I already mentioned how much I appreciated the approach to the story. No one side contained all the heroes or all the villains. The romance didn't feel as strong to me though. Maybe because of their limited time together. Some of the other relationships were much stronger and interesting.

    I want to thank Thomas Nelson for providing my copy in exchange for this honest review.

    Saturday, October 29, 2011

    While We're Far Apart

    Summary: In an unassuming apartment building in Brooklyn, New York, three lives intersect as the reality of war invades each aspect of their lives. Young Esther is heartbroken when her father decides to enlist in the army shortly after the death of her mother. Penny Goodrich has been in love with Eddie Shaffer for as long as she can remember; now that Eddie's wife is dead, Penny feels she has been given a second chance and offers to care for his children in the hope that he will finally notice her and marry her after the war. And elderly Mr. Mendel, the landlord, waits for the war to end to hear what has happened to his son trapped in war-torn Hungary. But during the long, endless wait for victory overseas, life on the home front will go from bad to worse. Yet these characters will find themselves growing and changing in ways they never expected--and ultimately discovering truths about God's love...even when He is silent.

    My Take : What I love about Lynn Austin is that she makes history come alive in her books. I haven't always been the biggest fan of books set in this era -- simply because there was so much devastation and heartbreak - so much evil that I have a hard time reading them. This book manages to deal with the issues from perspectives that most of the books I've read haven't before. It's deep, thoughtful, complex, and  - in many ways - beautiful.

    My first love in books is characters and these are some of the richest and most complex you will meet. Unlike most books with two developed characters, this one has a depth that makes you think she wrote about real people instead of made created people feel real. 


    Penny is the obvious first choice. She is like the center of a wheel. All the other characters connect through her in one way or another. I loved her transformation in the book. She learns so much about herself, her family, values ... what's the difference between real love and a crush. We see her grow into her own skin over the course of the book. 

    Mr. Mendel has been through so much loss and is going through a crisis of faith. As he helps with the children and Penny, he has to evaluate what he does and does not believe in as he faces even more obstacles and set backs. 


    Esther is Eddie's daughter and she starts off angry and resenting everything and everybody. All she wants is her dad and life back to normal. She lost her mom in a car accident and fear is controlling her. She obsessively clips newspaper pics of the war. She's also having to deal with all the things a normal girl her age does. She's interested in a boy but isn't comfortable in everything he wants her to do ...


    Peter is so traumatized that he isn't speaking. He has to write down or make hand gestures to communicate with his sister or Penny. The boys at school tease and abuse him. He loves to listen to baseball games on the radio. Peter doesn't like the boy Penny is hanging around, even though he stops the other boys from picking on him.

    Eddie's mom is a hoarder who hasn't left her home in years. She lives right next door to Penny's parents. They talk down to Penny and call her names. They also discourage her from being around strangers. They say she's special and needs to be extra careful. 


    This book deals with everything from the importance of family, forgiveness, the issue of prejudice, coming of age, mourning ... It is a wonderfully rich book that deals with relationships of all kinds in a respectful way. I really enjoyed it. I think seeing into the lives of people living during this time makes history about more than facts, figures, and even the horrific images we've come to associate with this particular war.

    Wednesday, October 26, 2011

    Wordless Wednesdays

    What could be better than fall colors? 
    Fall colors reflected on the surface of the water so you get double the beauty.

    Monday, October 24, 2011

    Monday Musings - Fibromyalgia

    Fibro Is Real!

    When I switched blogs and renamed this one "Through the Fog" I didn't really explain it to anyone. Some of you have stuck by me for a long time and you know that I have fibromyalgia (fibro). Others may not even know what that is.

    From the Fibromyalgia Network site "Fibromyalgia produces widespread pain, disturbed sleep, and exhaustion from head to toe. Although the muscles hurt everywhere, they are not the only cause of your discomfort. Instead, the diffuse, body-wide symptoms are greatly magnified by malfunctions in the way the nervous system processes pain." I have a graphic on the side of my blog with many of the symptoms. It's a really fun disorder. ;o)

    One of the worst problems for a writer is that you get what is called fibro fog. Sometimes we can't recall things we've known for years (names, places, trivia for games). Sometimes it makes it hard to concentrate - almost like you've been drugged or drinking but you're totally sober. I hate losing my words. It's like my best friends are disappearing. It doesn't happen all the time -- and even some bad days are worse than others -- but that is the symptom that makes me feel the worst. My body has had problems before. Fibromyalgia wants to steal my mind.

    So I named this blog Through the Fog because I plan to make it through. I plan to write through the fog, live through the fog, read through the fog ... I'm not going to let it steal my mind.

    I have one manuscript almost finished. I started doing the research for another one and then I was goaded into looking into a book about fibromyalgia. I'm in the planning stages of that one now. The fibro may slow me down, and it certainly makes me feel horrible, but it won't stop me. If you know someone who has fibromyalgia or another autoimmune disorder or chronic disease, please give them your support and prayers. It's hard on them and their families.

    Tuesday, October 18, 2011

    The Doctor's Lady

    Summary:
    Priscilla White knows she'll never be a wife or mother and feels God's call to the mission field in India. Dr. Eli Ernest is back from Oregon Country only long enough to raise awareness of missions to the natives before heading out West once more. But then Priscilla and Eli both receive news from the mission board: No longer will they send unmarried men and women into the field.
    Left scrambling for options, the two realize the other might be the answer to their needs. Priscilla and Eli agree to a partnership, a marriage in name only that will allow them to follow God's leading into the mission field. But as they journey west, this decision will be tested by the hardships of the trip and by the unexpected turnings of their hearts.

    My Take:  In short -- Jody Hedlund is another new author for me and this book took my breath away.

    The basic things were very well done. She did her research and I felt like I was traveling with Priscilla and Eli as they went through the trials of reaching their new mission field. The author's notes at the end were fascinating as well. I also think the pacing was very good -- none of it seemed to lag or move too quickly. Although faith plays a part in their individual lives and the plot of the story, it doesn't feel like a sermon disguised as a novel either. That's an easy mistake to make. It's feels organic and natural instead of heavy-handed or something that was added in as an afterthought.

    Still, the real fireworks for me were the depth of the characters she created. Both of them evolve and grow as individuals - not just in their relationship to each other. Don't be dismayed though, that delicious romantic tension was providing enough sparks to light a campfire or two ...  ;o)

    The writing was great, the story was compelling, the characters were fascinating ... This book is going on the list I use to pick my favorites of the year. I want to thank Bethany House for providing my copy in exchange for my honest review.

    Sunday, October 16, 2011

    The Aristocrat's Lady

    Summary: 
    For a few moments on a moonlit balcony, Nicole Beaumont was just a beautiful woman catching the eye of the handsome Lord Devlin—but she knew the illusion couldn't last. If the enigmatic aristocrat knew her secret, he'd realize that her disability left her unfit for love. So who could blame her for hiding the truth a little longer?
    Devlin had never met a woman like Nicole. Her unique combination of innocence and wisdom left him utterly intrigued. Yet what was she hiding? For a man who did not trust easily, discovering her secret was devastating. Overcoming their pasts and forging a future would take faith, forgiveness and trust. And second chances could lead to new beginnings…

    My Take:

    I won this book in a contest on Lena Nelson Dooley's blog A Christian Writer's World. I was really excited because I love historical fiction and regencies in particular. There aren't a lot of them out there from a Christian perspective. Mary Moore is not just a new author to me, but this is her debut effort, and it is wonderful.


    You know how I love characters and these were awesome!

    Devlin is much more complicated than his reputation in society would have Nicole believe. This kind of reminds me of the movie Batman Begins because Bruce plays up the idea of being a partying, irresponsible, playboy when he really is fighting for justice. Devlin isn't a vigilante, but he isn't a playboy Lord with no interest in the lower classes either.

    Nicole is determined to not be a burden on anyone. She didn't want to make this trip, but since she's here, she's determined not to allow anyone to pity or mollycoddle her. She convinces her family to keep her secret so they can have a "normal" trip. She didn't think it would make a difference anyway ...

    Both of them have been hurt by people in the past. So, as the summary says, trust is a serious issue for them. The tension comes from how their secrets and determination not to get involved may cost them their future. Unlike many romances, there seems to be a real chance this one won't work out - and one of the secrets was an unusual one I haven't seen used this way before.

    The dialogue was great and there was good romantic tension throughout. Thank you again to Lena Nelson Dooley and Mary Moore for holding the contest. This one goes on the list I use to choose favorites of the year. :o)

    Thursday, October 13, 2011

    The Baker's Wife

    Summary:
    What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger, so why is Audrey weakening day by day?
    It's been a tough year for Audrey's family. Her husband Geoff, a pastor, lost his job after a scandal rocked their congregation.
    Audrey hasn't lost faith. She's held her family together. Their attempt to resurrect a failing bakery is an effort to heal the family wounds and restore their place in the community.
    Late to the bakery one dim, foggy morning, Audrey turns into the intersection in front of the shop and strikes a vehicle that she can't see even after the collision settles. Emerging from her car into the fog, she discovers she's hit a motor scooter. There's no rider in sight. There's blood, though, so much that she slips in it, injuring her wrists.
    The absence of the scooter driver is a mystery, especially to Sergeant Jack Mansfield, the detective and church member who drove Geoff from his pulpit. The scooter belongs to Jack's wife, Julie, a teacher at the local high school. She has vanished like morning fog.
    Though there is no evidence to support Jack's growing suspicion that Audrey and Geoff were involved in Julie's disappearance, the detective is convinced of their guilt. Jack's ability to reason slips as the leads on his wife dry up.
    When Jack takes the tiny bakery and its patrons hostage, Audrey must find Julie and unravel the secret of her own mysterious suffering before Jack comes undone.

    My Take: Complex doesn't even begin to describe this book. I think this would be great for a discussion group because there is endless material --- from the plot twists, all the characters and their relationships to each other and reactions to their situations, and the spiritual applications of all the above ... I think the book could provide quite a lot of fodder for intelligent debate and discussion.

    For the most part the character populated her world with some interesting and even mysterious characters. Some of them seemed to fall into the predictable stereotypes and I wished she had given them something to pull away from those patterns. For example, Jack's character as the over zealous and legalistic religious leader and cop made him even more obnoxious and abusive. It was hard to feel anything for him as a person.

    I think the pacing might have felt faster than it was at times because there is a somewhat larger than normal cast of characters that feel so central to what's going on. Audrey, Geoff and their son, plus Jack, Julie (and to a lesser extent - their daughter), then Diane - are central to what's going on. Then there are other characters that feature prominently as well. It wasn't too many - but it's more than the two or three that I'm used to.

    I liked most of the differences that made this book unique. If you love intelligent suspense novels with a lot going on in them. this may be a good book for you as well. I'm thankful to Thomas Nelson for providing me a copy in exchange for my honest review.

    Monday, October 10, 2011

    Teaser Tuesdays

    Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
    • Grab your current read
    • Open to a random page
    • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
    • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
    • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
    My teasers come from a book I just started so I'm not sure what I think about it yet. It's called The Restorer and it's by Sharon Hinck. It's an older book, but it had an unusual premise.





        "Bringing home souvenirs now, Tristan?" mocked a voice from a distance.

       "Shut up and help me," said someone close to my ear.


    This is from page 27.

     

    Love on the Line

    Summary:
    In 1904 Texas Ranger Luke Palmer arrives in Brenham, Texas, with one goal—to capture the gang of outlaws led by Frank Comer. Undercover as a telephone repairman, he uses his days on the range to search, not realizing there's another pair of eyes watching him.
    Georgie Gail, switchboard operator and birder, heads out on a birding expedition, but instead of sighting a painted bunting, her opera glasses capture her telephone man, armed and far away from telephone lines. Palmer is forced to take this alluring troublemaker into his confidence and unwittingly puts her in harm's way. The closer he comes to the gang, the further she works her way into his heart—and into trouble. Soon it's more than just love that's on the line.

    My Take: This is one of my "go-to" authors for romance. As usual, the research was amazing and the romance was not the peck on the last page. Their relationship wasn't entirely predictable though - and her story and characters were somewhat off the beaten path as well. I loved the twists and turns.

    Luke has to keep secrets. His character has been chasing one criminal for a long time and could easily have become another Captain Ahab chasing his very own Moby Dick. His backstory makes him so much more interesting. It's hilarious when Georgie makes fun of his "real" self to him. I could picture that scene vividly in my mind --- always a sign of a great book.

    Georgie has high standards and ideals. She is a feminist, loves to read, and values education. She has an obsession with birds and fights to stop their parts from being used on hats. This causes division within the town and much of the action in the latter part of the book.

    This was a great read and reinforced why I keep pre-ordering all her books. :o)

    Monday, October 3, 2011

    Monday Musings - Special Pets


    Sometimes I just watch her a while when she's sleeping like this. For those of you who don't know, that is my eighteen year old Siamese cat. Of all my cats, she's the smallest, oldest, and she still is undeniably the queen of the house. She doesn't let any of the other animals push her around.

    She's always had what I like to call ... quirks. Her eyes are the brilliant blue Siamese are known for but they quiver - or shake ever so slightly back and forth sometimes. I thought there might be something serious wrong with her, but it turned out to be somewhat disconcerting, but not a health threat. She also sheds so much that we wonder how she has any hair left on her body. I promise I have brushed her and had piles of hair left that would nearly make another cat. Our long-haired cat with a double coat doesn't shed like she does. Later in life we believe she became a NASCAR fan because she started walking in circles. She'll circle around us, the dogs ... a nice spot in the living room. She doesn't do them all the time, but she does seem to like it.

    My mom bred Siamese cats and I love them - and cats in general (I'm an animal person - but cats hold a special place in my heart). They can have a reputation for being somewhat aloof -- preferring one person or just the family to strangers however. Not this lady. She's a total love bug. She craves attention from anyone who will give it to her and would prefer cuddling to just about anything else. We once had company over and he stepped on her by accident. We checked her over and set her down and she jumped up in his lap!

    My pets all add so much to my life. This little lady has been with me the longest though - and I'm starting to worry about how much more time I'll have with her. Those beautiful eyes aren't seeing as well as they used to. We have to give her drops twice a day to help fix that. Too bad there isn't a medicine to keep them with us always.

    Do you have any special pets you'd like to share about?

    Wednesday, September 28, 2011

    Attracted to Fire

    Summary: Special Agent Meghan Connors’ dream of one day protecting the president of the United States is about to come true. Only one assignment stands in her way. After the vice president’s rebellious daughter is threatened, Meghan is assigned to her protective detail on a secluded ranch in West Texas. Unfortunately, working with Special Agent in Charge Ash Zinders may be as tough as controlling her charge. Ash has a reputation for being critical and exacting, and he’s also after the same promotion as Meghan. But when the threats escalate and security on the ranch is breached, it becomes clear this isn’t the work of a single suspect—it’s part of a sophisticated plan that reaches deeper and higher than anyone imagined. And only Ash and Meghan can put the pieces together before it’s too late.

    My Take: This author knows how to marry action, romance and mystery. This story has all these elements and none of them suffer. 

    Ash and Meghan give us a window into the world of the disciplined and dedicated agents who protect our most important politicians and their families. What they go through helps turn those stone-faced guardians into people we can admire and appreciate more because the author showed us a glimpse into their world (even if it is with her characters).


    I loved the journey the characters take through this story. Nearly every single one of them evolves somehow from the beginning of the book to when the last page is turned. I think that's true to life. We continue to grow, learn, and become more of who God intended us to be. 


    This was a tense, roller coaster ride of a book. It was a lot of fun to read and I hope you'll add it to your list. I want to thank Tyndale publishers for providing this book in exchange for my honest review.

    Monday, September 26, 2011

    Highland Sanctuary

    Summary: A Sanctuary of Secrets...

    Gavin MacKenzie, a chieftain heir who is hired to restore the ancient Castle of Braigh, discovers a hidden village of outcasts who have created their own private sanctuary from the world. Among them is Serena Boyd, a mysterious and
    comely lass, who captures Gavin’s heart in spite of harboring a deadly past that could destroy her future.

    The villagers happen to be keeping an intriguing secret as well. When a fierce enemy launches an attack against them, greed leads to bitter betrayal. As Gavin prepares a defense, the villagers unite in a bold act of faith, showing how God’s love is more powerful than any human force on earth.

    My Take:

    What's not to love about a romance novel with a great romantic hero and an intelligent female lead set in Scotland? I can't think of much. lol I'm a sucker for historical romances set in Scotland and this one has a lot of unique qualities.

    Gavin and his brother are renovating the castle of another laird. They are doing everything from making it more sound from weather damage to more secure from any kind of threat. I don't think I've read about anyone doing that sort of thing in any of my books before.

    Serena has epilepsy. I had read about how horribly people with this disease were treated until it was understood. It's always more impactful to have someone's story to relate to. I also never thought of people who were strange or different being allowed to gather near a castle and allowed to live in relative peace there. It did allow you to meet a lot of wonderful characters and see first hand what cruelty and intolerance can be like as well as acceptance.

    Thought-provoking, touching, and romantic. :o)

    I also want to apologize for being gone for a while. My oldest son just got married. He and his new wife came and visited us a week ago, then we traveled to the wedding. I was sick as a dog the whole time (and feeling suddenly old with my child getting married), but it was good to see him so happy. If I hadn't been feeling so poorly I would have posted before I left, but I was having a hard time getting everything done. I have a lot to catch up on. Can you picture a mountain of email? lol

    Has God Spoken

    Summary:
    Using the memorable acronym MAPS, radio host and Bible scholar Hank Hanegraaff masterfully reveals four proofs that confirm the divine origin of the Bible:
    M represents the strength of the manuscript itself as many actual fragments have been located
    A stands for the archaeological proofs that have been uncovered
    P is for the prophecy that has accurately predicted events
    S represents the scriptural synergy found in the unity, consistency, and harmony of the sixty-six books
    These clearly presented proofs provide powerful indicators that confirm the trustworthiness and divine nature of Scripture, that God has indeed spoken, and that the Bible is the reliable repository of His words.

    My Take:

    I admit that I've always been a research and logic-driven person so I love the books that show evidence proving why our faith has stood the test of time. I don't need it -- but it is nice. :o)

    This book manages to straddle sometimes being a bit over my head and sometimes feeling a little repetitive. I also wasn't sure I liked the acronyms or alliteration the author liked to use. It made me feel a little like it was a VBS or children's Sunday School lesson instead of a book clearly intended for adults. At times I wished a little less time was spent explaining (in great detail) the false claims and theories of those who don't believe in the Bible. I would let them write their own book for that.

    In the end, I really liked the section on the archaeological finds the best. I loved how some skeptical scientists have become Christians just by what has been unearthed that supports the Biblical accounts. Those kinds of stories made the book for me.

    This is a great book to have on hand for those questioning the trustworthiness of the Bible because it goes into a lot of different areas. It would be a great book for church libraries as well. I want to thank Thomas Nelson for providing this book in exchange for my honest review.

    Tuesday, September 13, 2011

    A Heart Revealed

    Summary:
    Ten years ago, Emma Malloy fled Dublin for Boston as a battered woman, escaping the husband who scarred her beautiful face. The physical and emotional wounds have faded with time, and her life is finally full of purpose and free from the pain of her past. But when she falls for her friend Charity's handsome and charming brother, Sean O'Connor, fear and shame threaten to destroy her. Could Sean and Emma ever have a future together? Or is Emma doomed to live out the rest of her life denying the only true love she's ever known?
    Filled with intense passion and longing, deception and revelation, A Heart Revealed will hold readers in its grip until the very last page.

    My Take: I'm a huge fan of Julie Lessman and pre-ordered this book months ago. In some ways I thought this was one of her best novels so far.

    Emma and Sean's story is one of the sweetest and most heart-wrenching love stories I've read in a long while. I think the fact that they were such good friends for so long made the pull between them that much stronger. It was a palpable element in the story. I just wish we had been able to spend more time with them.

    There is a lot more than their story in this book. Charity and Mitch have issues, the newlyweds Luke and Katie are already facing their own problems, and then you have the rambunctious foster child Gabe thrown in the mix. I can't wait to read what happens next -- to all of them. :o)

    Sunday, September 11, 2011

    Remembering 9-11


    Our country is going through one of the most difficult times it has faced in recent history. There have been severe weather problems causing devastation throughout the country. Our economy has gone from bad to worse and many Americans have to face the future without knowing where their next paycheck will come from.  Our politicians argue over whose fault it is and refuse to work together to come up with a plan to fix things. We all know more of the same isn't going to work.

    In the midst of all this bickering we are faced with the reminder of one of the most devastating blows our country ever had - and also the incredible heroism and unity that followed afterwards. I think most people could tell you exactly what they were doing that day -- how they felt and how they changed in the aftermath.

    Politics didn't matter. Left or right they all gathered and prayed and vowed to stop this from ever happening again - no matter what it took. We felt safe before 9-11 -- we were united in our grief, our commitment to rebuild, and our desire to stop terrorism afterwards. Suddenly what the people in the Middle East went through didn't seem so far away. We could relate much more to the way Israel and the other nations must feel. Those oppressed by terrorism had our sympathy and support.

    Who would have thought that ten years later the first responders to 9-11 would have trouble getting health care, federal dollars are being spent to build a huge mosque but a lawsuit has been filed to stop a piece of the wreckage that melted in the shape of a cross from being added as a tribute and no prayers are allowed at the ceremony because that might be considered offensive.

    I wish we could get back to that atmosphere of unity and lack of politics right after 9-11. What really matters are the people who lost their lives that day, the people who protected others at the risk of the own lives, and those that are continuing to protect the lives of Americans and our allies at home and overseas. We live in the best and most free country in the world. I'm proud to be an American. I'm proud of our first responders, and I'm incredibly proud of our troops. I pray nothing like 9-11 ever happens again but I hope we never forget what we learned about America and our enemies that day.

    Wednesday, September 7, 2011

    Veiled Rose

    Summary:
    Rose Red trusts no one with her secret. She hides in the forest, her face veiled in rags, shunning the company of all save her old father and her nanny goat. Her life is bleak and lonely.
    Until she meets a privileged young man sent to spend his summer in the mountains. Leo, a lonely lad, befriends Rose Red, and together they begin hunting for the Mountain Monster which, rumor says, stalks these lands.
    But the hunt which began as a game holds greater risk than Leo supposes. Rose Red can scarcely guess at the consequences should he insist on continuing his search. Dare she trust him with her secret? Or tell him what dwells at the top of the mountain in the cave only she can find?
    Above all, when Leo asks Rose Red to leave the mountain and follow him to the low country, dare she agree and risk the wrath of a Monster that is all too real?

    My Take: Okay, I'll admit it. I didn't like Prince Lionheart when I read Heartless, the first book in this series. I thought he was selfish and a coward. I only knew that he lied about who he was and felt that he used Princess Una in a horrible way. I grew to think of him just as Leo in this book and I loved him. I guess that shows you how important knowing a person's back story can be. lol I think I liked this book overall even better than the first. Maybe it's the series effect (growing to love the characters and setting more over each book) but I was glued to the pages of this book.

    I think a lot of it had to do with Rose Red. I loved her character and the author did a masterful job of keeping up the suspense of who and what she really was. Rose herself didn't know - and this aura of mystery and very real danger made you want to keep flipping pages until you knew what was going to happen to her.

    I also was impressed with the ... complexity of the relationships explored. It isn't as simple as boy meets girl, boy chases girl, boy loses girl, boy wins girl again, and then boy and girl live happily every after. This was filled with lots of intertwined and complicated relationships that (although this is a fantasy novel) mirrored the way real people might interact with one another. Nothing is as simple as all black or all white.

    This story still has some allegorical or symbolic elements, but it isn't as pronounced as in the first book. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would suggest it to anyone who likes to read this genre. I want to thank Bethany House for providing me a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. 

    Monday, September 5, 2011

    Monday Musings

    For those of you who didn't know, I homeschool. I decided to look into homeschooling when we had to move before my oldest could officially graduate from Kindergarten in one state, but they wouldn't promote him in the next. He could already read well and do simple math and I worried that making him do Kindergarten over again would make him one of those bored troublemakers I saw when I volunteered at the school.

    I hadn't heard of homeschooling, but one of the ladies at my church suggested that we look into it as an alternative. I did tons of research, prayed, and then went to my first homeschool convention. That was an experience! I wandered around looking like a deer about to be hit by a semi most of the time. That was the final piece it took to convince me, though. I wasn't going to be alone. There were a lot of people doing this, and a lot of support available.

    We moved a lot the first few years and homeschooling fit our lifestyle very well. We didn't have to worry about changing requirements, curriculum standards, schedules or teachers. We were able to set our own and make sure it worked for our family. The more we homeschooled, the more benefits we saw. No missed work for illness, more hands on work, more field trips, higher test scores ... When we finally settled down we didn't see any reason to stop.

    So that's where we are today. One of mine is already graduated. He earned a full ride scholarship in engineering. He's getting married later this month. My other son is in high school, very active in sports, loves to cook, hates algebra, and started school this week.

    I look at where I am and then back and have a warm and fuzzy feeling for the red tape that stopped my oldest from graduating from Kindergarten. :o) 

    Thursday, September 1, 2011

    The Friday 56



    The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda at Freda's Voice. Visit her blog for the rules and to link up your blog.

    Mine comes from the book Veiled Rose which I just started reading.



    "A boy climbed one path and a girl, some distance off, descended another, each hoping to meet again and neither certain whether or not to expect such a meeting."

    I think it sounds sad and yet romantic. :o)

    Monday, August 29, 2011

    False Colours

    Summary: Something is very wrong, and the Honourable Christopher "Kit" Fancot can sense it. Kit returns to London on leave from the diplomatic service to find that his twin brother Evelyn has disappeared and his extravagant mother's debts have mounted alarmingly.

    The Fancot family's fortunes are riding on Evelyn's marriage to the self-possessed Cressy Stavely, and her formidable grandmother's approval of the match. If Evelyn fails to meet the Dowager Lady Stavely in a few days as planned, the betrothal could be off.

    When the incorrigible Lady Fancot persuades her son to impersonate his twin (just for one night, she promises) the masquerade sets off a tangled sequence of events that engage Kit's heart far more deeply than he?d ever anticipated with his brother's fiancee who might know much more about what's going on than she cares to reveal...


    My Take: They have been celebrating Georgette Heyer's birthday this month by discounting her e-books at both Barnes & Noble and Amazon for $1.99. I took advantage of it to grab a few titles I haven't read yet (just don't tell my husband). :o)

    Heyer is like Calgon, Dove chocolates, fresh baked bread and cuddling with my pets -- it's a guaranteed good time that will melt away my stress and make me feel ten times better than when I sat down. She has a wonderful sense of humor and she has fabulous characters! 


    I've heard a lot of stories about twins being able to sense when the other is in trouble or pain so this didn't seem like a far-fetched idea to me. It was a lot of fun to see how both (very different) brothers reacted to the situations that came about from their having switched places. I also loved the names and nicknames in this one. I know it may not be considered a major element of the story, but how often do you have a man named Evelyn? I thought it was wonderful to have such unique and historical names. 


    You still have a couple days (until the end of August). If you haven't tried Heyer yet, or you are a fan and want to pick up this or another of her novels, it's a great time to indulge. :o)

    Saturday, August 27, 2011

    Quote It Saturday






    Quote It Saturday is hosted by Freda at Freda's Voice. Visit her blog for the rules and to link up your blog to participate.

    My quote:

    Ambition is that grit in the soul which creates disenchantment with the ordinary and puts the dare into dreams.  --- Max Lucado

    Dare to dream today. Have a great weekend! :o)

    Thursday, August 25, 2011

    Digitalis

    Summary: Step into the boots of a former Marine in this heart-pounding adventure in life and love. Colton “Cowboy” Neeley is a Marine trying to find his footing as he battles flashbacks now that he’s back home. Piper Blum is a woman in hiding—from life and the assassins bent on destroying her family. When their hearts collide, more than their lives are at stake. Will Colton find a way to forgive Piper’s lies? Can Piper find a way to rescue her father, trapped in Israel? Is there any way their love, founded on her lies, can survive?

    My Take: Reading any of Ronie Kendig's books is like watching the latest action-adventure blockbuster. I feel like they should come with the standard warning they give you when you get on a roller-coaster: "Keep your arms and legs inside the car at all times and keep your seat-belt securely fastened." lol This author knows how to write an exciting book!

    Piper and Cowboy are very sweet together. I liked both of them very much and the way they cared about one another and the problems that caused was ... difficult and yet beautifully done.


    The team feels like family and they all have their own identities. Instead of seeming like secondary characters she's written to prop up the book, these are more like people she's met and is just describing on the page. 


    I'm a bit behind, but Wolfsbane is already on my Kindle so it won't be long before I'm caught up. :o)