Friday, December 14, 2012


Summary: Lady Charlotte Eversley, heir of the Earl of Everston, has lived a charmed life. Wealthy, beautiful, and one day she will be a Countess in her own right. No mother has ever loved a daughter more. Her sisters admire and adore her, and of course, her father dotes on her. She is one of the most eligible ladies of the Season.

Mr. Jasper Seyton misses the country. Along with his trusted servant, Worley, he endures the delights of Town for one purpose. After three Seasons, he has little confidence in the so-called “Marriage Mart.”

They enjoy each other’s company, and her father approves. She knows he intends to propose. He knows that she will accept.

So where is she when he returns to Everston Hall, and why does she think there is no hope for happiness again?

My Take: This had an authentic regency feel to it. The time spent describing fashion, colors, and that sort of thing reminded me of books written during the period.

I think the label "A Regency Cinderella Tale -- In Reverse" was distracting. You find yourself looking for those elements instead of just reading the book.

There wasn't a huge amount of conflict in the book - and her reaction to the one big bump in the road didn't seem to fit with the rest of her actions.

I still really enjoyed the book and the author's writing style.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

At Every Turn

Summary: She's off to the races!

Caught up in a whirlwind of religious enthusiasm, Alyce Benson impetuously pledges three thousand dollars to mission work in Africa. Now she just has to find a way to get the money.

Alyce harbors a secret passion for speed and automobiles, and she's spent many an afternoon driving around the rustic track in the field behind her home. When she discovers that her father's company has sponsored a racing car that will compete in several upcoming events--races in which the driver will be paid and could win as much as five thousand dollars in prize money--she conspires with her father's mechanic, Webster, to train and compete.

But when her friends cast aspersions on Webster's past, she realizes she may have trusted the wrong person with her secret. Will Alyce come up with the money in time, or will she have to choose between her hasty promise and the man who holds a piece of her heart?

My Take: My husband and I are big fans of NASCAR and having the history of the races talked about in a book was really interesting and unique. I don't think I've read a book with that as the backdrop before.

I thought the main character had good intentions, but there is a cliche about good intentions . . . I could understand her initial mistake, but it seemed that even though she was provided information talking about the character of Lawrence and of Webster, she ignored that (and her own instincts) in order to believe the opposite of both men.

I loved picturing her zooming down the roads and around the racetrack. I think her driving fit with everything else we learn about her character.

There are a couple "types" of Christian romance novels. One of them stresses the romance and another the spiritual aspects. This talked and dealt with her spiritual life in much greater depth and detail than her relationship with either man.

It was an entertaining book and I thank Bethany House for providing it. Their gift in no way influenced my review.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


It took me too long to admit -- but I figured out why I couldn't sign in and post on here. The Java was out of date. I had tried installing updates, but it didn't work. I downloaded the whole program and it seems to have worked. {crossing fingers}

That's me lately -- cleaning like a crazy woman. Why? I have great news -- my husband finally got a job. {doing happy dance} He's gone a lot but it's a job he likes and I'm so thankful for the opportunity.

It also means we will be moving back to Kansas. The first of March we need to be there. That gives us very little time to get the house ready to show, pack things up, clean again, and hopefully leave here with a sold house and not another rental agreement.

I have been sick as a dog (on top of the fibro) - and my husband is gone so much that this is an extra challenge. We're way behind where we'd like to be in this process. Still, it's exciting to think about all the changes that will be coming our way.

Any moving/cleaning advice? Any exciting changes you'd like to share?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Glamorous Illusions

Summary: When Cora Kensington learns she is the illegitimate daughter of a copper king, her life changes forever. Even as she explores Europe with her new family, she discovers that the most valuable journey is within. The first book in the Grand Tour series takes you from the farms of Montana through England and France on an adventure of forgiveness, spiritual awakening, and self-discovery.

My Take: First I will confess I have a serious case of cover love for this book. It has to be one of the prettiest covers I've ever seen. I think the model fits Cora perfectly -- and the background certainly puts you in the right mood for this story.

I loved Cora and all the interactions with the other characters. I would have given this 5 stars except I didn't like the way the book ended. I understand this is the beginning of a series, but it almost feels like . . . Well a little like The Lord of the Rings. That was written as one book that was broken into three. The big challenge, to destroy the ring and save Middle Earth, is put forth in book one but not completed until the end of book three. There are many smaller challenges in the middle, but it still seems unfinished when you only read one book.

I got to the end and of this book and there didn't seem to be any conclusion - even a partial one. They just started the tour, there is no romantic decision . . . It just felt like there should be more. That's a great way to build interest for the rest of the series, but it was also frustrating.

The romantic tension was palpable in places and the characters were very well drawn. There were interesting people that you wanted to know better. Cora's character goes through some changes that help her to be more mature and secure.

In the end it wasn't a romance or an adventure - more a story of a girl becoming a woman. I anticipate more romance as the series continues.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Love in Disguise

Delightfully Engaging Blend of Romance, Suspense, History, and Humor When costume-maker Ellie Moore suddenly finds herself out of a job in the middle of a bleak Chicago winter, she uses her knowledge of theatrical disguise to secure a position as an undercover operative with the Pinkerton Detective Agency. Her assignment: find the culprit behind the theft of silver shipped from the mines near Pickford, Arizona. Disguised as Lavinia Stewart, a middle-aged widow, Ellie begins her investigation. Soon she finds she must also pose as the dazzling young Jessie Monroe, whose vivacious personality encourages people to talk.

Mine owner Steven Pierce is about to lose his business after the theft of several bullion shipments--until hope arrives in the unlikely form of Lavinia Stewart, who offers to invest in Steven's mine. In his wildest dreams, Steven never expected to be rescued by an inquisitive gray-haired widow . . . or to fall head over heels for Lavinia's captivating niece, Jessie. But then the thieves come after both Lavinia and Jessie. Ellie isn't safe no matter which character she plays! Will she be forced to reveal her true identity before the criminals are caught? What will Steven do when he discovers the woman he loves doesn't exist?

My Take:
This is one of those books that comes along only so often. We don't usually see a woman as the hero in a book about the old west. Ellie fills that role with creativity and determination.
In a book about subterfuge and hiding one's identity, it is amazing to see the transformation as Ellie discovers she's been hiding her true identity all along. She has more strength and beauty than she thought possible.
If I had one complaint it's that I wished there had been more time and romance for our leading lady and her true love.
This is a great book though, and I thank the author and publisher for my copy. It did not influence my review.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Ever Wondered?

Copyright (c) <a href=''>123RF Stock Photos</a>

I have insomnia. The kind they use as a model for torture and interrogation techniques. I swear this kind of health problem was birthed in Hell itself, but I digress. Staying up when everyone else is asleep can expose you to some strange things and make you wonder. I recently found answers to some of those questions. Maybe you have some mysteries of your own you'd like answered.

Part of this started because I wondered why sleep deprivation was even considered as a torture technique in the first place -- or as a means to get people to provide information. Then I noticed a few things.

#1. I have fibro and my pain is so much worse after lack of sleep. I did some checking and it's not just fibro patients that feel pain worse after lack of sleep. 
#2. Infomercials fill the TV stations late at night. I used to think it was because the audience wasn't there for better programming but now I think they target those up late at night because they aren't thinking as clearly. I wrote an entire first draft of a novel when I was up all night for several months that nearly convinced me not to continue writing. I can attest to the fact that I wasn't making the best choices (plus I actually had the phone in my hand for two or three of those infomercial products). {blushes}

So I solved a couple of my mysteries, but I still wonder why children's cartoons and programming are on in the middle of the night. Are there a lot of little children up at 2 - 3 am to watch their shows? Maybe I'm naive, but I thought they were asleep - or should be. I know there are exceptions like when you're child is really ill, but I would think a DVD would work in situations like that.  

How about you? Anything you've always wondered about? How about a mystery you recently solved? 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Heart Like His

Summary: We all go through times when we feel insignificant or times when we feel certain that we have experienced a degree of failure from which there is no return. This is not a reality we experience alone, but is one that a man after God’s heart experienced as well. From shepherd, to refugee, to king of Israel, David exhibited the purest virtues and the most heinous sinfulness, but through it all his relationship with the Lord continued to grow.

A Heart Like His looks at this bond of mutual love and admiration between a man who was not unlike any of us and the one true God who is all good and all powerful. Beth Moore walks us through an exploration of David’s incredible life, drawing spiritual insights from a man who boldly fulfilled his divine destiny not merely by what he did, but who he loved and served. Bringing lessons from David’s life to bear on your own, this picture of a man who loved and followed God will help you to serve with a heart focused on Him no matter the circumstance.

Available here for the first time in trade paper, this new edition also features an excerpt from Moore’s David: Seeking a Heart Like His Bible study.

My Take: This has been one of my favorite Bible study reads of the last couple years. It has quite a few things that make it stand out. One is that I like Beth Moore's style. She takes any subject and makes you feel as if you're sitting in her living room and talking about it with just her and maybe some snacks and a nice cup of coffee or tea. She has a conversational approach that I like.

She also has great subject matter. The life of David shows the best and worst of man. It gives us this wonderful example of how we can seek God in good and bad times and how God can use us in spite of our weakness - and oftentimes because of it. There is so much treasure to learn from how David honored God and how he failed as well.

Even the way the book is organized is brilliant. The chapters are short so you can easily fit them into any busy schedule. She has included any necessary Bible verses so you don't need to have anything but the book in order to do the study (though she encourages you to use your own Bible to read more passages). I also love how the study is arranged in order by how the events played out historically - so you can see how one decision led to another and so on.

This is the kind of study that is approachable and useful for Christians in many stages of their walk with Christ. It is straightforward and simple enough for new Christians, but there is enough meat and challenging material for those who have loved the Lord for many years. I want to thank the publisher for providing my copy. It did not influence my review.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Update - Missing in Action?

Sorry I haven't been around. I went to the ER on Sunday, had minor surgery on Thursday, and have to go back for a small . . . procedure this Friday. In between it was tons of pain. I had three kidney stones, one of which was a half an inch in diameter and - well, blocking one side of things and the other two stones. The ER doctor said it was the largest stone he'd ever seen. Isn't it great to be distinguished like that? {picture me shaking my head and laughing}

Honestly I'd heard kidney stones hurt like the dickens but I had no idea. Add some fibro and IBS to the mix and I felt like I was being killed. They asked me that whole 1-10 pain scale and I think I said something totally un-witty like 20. She didn't laugh.

They stuck me five times because I was so dyhdrated. I never knew it before this, but extreme pain can make you sick to your stomach and I couldn't keep anything down.

The bruises have faded and I am feeling almost like myself. Next week I should be back to normal. I have some computer problems I'm fighting. I haven't been able to access my blog. I finally realized I can use IE instead of Mozilla, but I'd still like to fix the problem for "real." I also am losing my monitor. It flickers and goes dim. I've ordered a new one, but that is limiting my online time because it's very hard on my eyes.

I hope you all are doing well. Hugs and blessings ~

Friday, June 22, 2012

Fibro Fridays - Lean on Me

As we travel through this life with chronic illness (and even without it) we find out very quickly that it's impossible to make it without a good support system. Fibromyalgia and the associated disorders are known to be triggered by stress. There is no way to avoid all stress in your life.

What you can do is refuse to become isolated. Share your experiences - good and bad - with people you care about. The old saying about how friendship doubles your joys and divides your sorrows is true. Having people you trust to go to when things get tough helps you have the strength to continue on. They also can help stop you from battling depression and believing lies.

What lies?
  • That it's really all in our heads.
  • That we can't do anything worthwhile because of our "limitations."
  • That we deserve this pain.
  • That nobody cares.
  • That we'll never feel any better.
  • That nobody else feels like we do or can relate to how feel.
And on and on.

We all need someone to count on. We all need help sometimes. Don't be afraid to accept it. Then we you have the chance - you can return the favor. I hope you all have a great weekend. Gentle hugs.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Angel Eyes

Summary: Once you’ve seen, you can’t unsee. Everything changes when you’ve looked at the world through . . .


Brielle’s a ballerina who went to the city to chase her dreams and found tragedy instead. She’s come home to shabby little Stratus, Oregon, to live with her grief and her guilt . . . and the incredible, numbing cold she can’t seem to shake.

Jake’s the new guy at school. The boy next door with burning hands and an unbelievable gift that targets him for corruption.

Something more than fate has brought them together. An evil bigger than both of them lurks in the shadows nearby, hiding in plain sight. Two angels stand guard, unsure what’s going to happen. And a beauty brighter than Jake or Brielle has ever seen is calling them to join the battle in a realm where all human choices start.

A realm that only angels and demons—and Brielle—can perceive.

My Take: First let me admit to more than a little cover love. Isn't this a distinctive and gorgeous cover? I think they did a fabulous job.

I also have to admit I was a little hesitant about this book. The YA market has more than a few angel books and, as a whole, they haven't impressed me. Most of them are angst and hormone driven rather than having anything to do with faith. Some don't have very impressive characters or plots either. So, with a deep breath and a critical mind, I started Angel Eyes. I couldn't have been more happy to be wrong.

This book starts with Brielle - who is hurting so much you can practically see her heart bleeding. You want to know her, to sit down with her and find out what happened. You want to watch her do the monkey dance (inside joke - read the book to find out). She is a fascinating character who is both typical for a teenager and reflective of the things she has gone through.

Jake is hot - on more than one level. I know that sounds cheesy, but reading the book it comes off just right. He is full of mystery and yet strangely comforting too. Maybe she should pull away from him - but he's one of the few things that makes her feel safe and more comfortable in the midst of everything. He also has his own issues - his own past and worries about the future. 

One of the things I liked best about this was that the author so deftly wove in spiritual elements with the story. This feels like a real romance - in the midst of a very . . . "Frank Peretti-esque" adventure with spiritual warfare that all rings true Biblically. I loved the messages about who God is not changing and our response to Him should not change - even when we don't understand what's happening(ed)- and how no matter how the outcome may look to us, He never stops caring about us. There were some tough questions that were tackled very responsibly and I think that's great for any generation to hear.

I really enjoyed this imaginative and entertaining story. I look forward to the rest of the series. I want to thank Thomas Nelson for providing my copy through the Book Sneeze program. It in no way influenced my review.  

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Prize of My Heart

Summary: An unsolved mystery separates ex-privateersman Captain Brogan Talvis from his lost son--his only living relation, his only family. Shortly before her tragic demise, his wife abandoned their infant to strangers, refusing to reveal the child's whereabouts. Now, three years later, Brogan has discovered the boy at the home of a shipbuilder's daughter, Lorena Huntley.Lorena guards a dark secret about her young charge. She finds herself falling for the heroic captain who has come to claim his newly built ship, unaware his motive for wooing her is to befriend the boy he plans on reclaiming as his own--until the day another's evil deceit leaves her helplessly shipbound, heading toward England.As the perfect opportunity to reclaim his son unfolds, Brogan is haunted by thoughts of Lorena in her dire circumstance, and he is forced to make a heartrending choice between his child and the woman who has begun to capture his heart. But only his unselfish sacrifice can win him the greatest prize of all--love.

My Take: I love, love, love -- these great books about slightly dangerous captains, seafaring adventures, mysterious secrets, and fabulous romance. This one adds family ties and even some humor to the mix. Stir and bake with a handsome hero and feisty heroine and there is a recipe for a wonderful book!

Brogan Talvis is the perfect name for our somewhat rakish hero. He is determined to get his son, no matter what it takes - even if he must pretend to court Lorena in order to accomplish his goals. His career as a privateer has made him very wealthy but some see him as little more than a pirate, and his abandoned faith doesn't make him seem more trustworthy or appealing. 

Lorena is fiercely loyal to her family and very trusting of those around her. She is a talented baker and quite content with her life - until Captain Talvis walks into her life. She is like a momma Grizzly protecting her cub one moment - and drawn to him almost against her will the next. 

This is one of those books that truly reminded me of a well-balanced recipe. There was some action, some romance, some mystery, some humor . . . none of it took over the book. The end has surprising twists and turns you won't expect at all. I loved that the author included an epilogue to let us know what happened in their lives down the road.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Monday Musings - Cleaning

I may not have mentioned it on the blog yet, but we may be moving (again) and have fairly short notice to get the house ready to sell. {groan} That means we have to try and do a lot of organizing and cleaning to not only prepare to move ourselves - but also to show the house at the same time. Let me admit right now that it isn't even close for either goal.

This makes me think of those pictures from the 1950s -- you know the ones. The women were doing housework with smiles on their perfectly made-up faces. Their hair was done, the had painted fingernails and always had on a pretty dress and jewelry as well.

Am I the only one that this makes think of a fantasy novel? I do not clean dressed up like this and I don't know anyone who does. It's almost as realistic as little birds coming in to help make her dress and finish the sweeping. Maybe they were made of different stuff back then . . . or maybe it was all about the image. I'm not entirely sure.

I can tell you that this is more what I look like when cleaning my house. I wear old rags, my hair is a mess, I'm always lugging around too much stuff, and I am generally wishing it was over before I start. I do like the results though. Like now -- I can actually see the surface of my desk. I won't be able to find anything until a couple months after the move (and I cover the surface again), but it looks pretty for now. :o)

I hope you'll be patient with me while I'm in the midst of my housecleaning. I may not be able to keep the schedule I promised until we settle down. Change is hard, but exciting.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Window Kitties

Two of my babies enjoying a morning edition of cat TV. That particular morning a rabbit was in the next yard -- so exciting! ;o)

Monday, June 4, 2012


Summary: Lady Victoria Grayson has always considered herself a keen observer of human behavior. After battling a chronic childhood illness that kept her homebound for years, she journeys to London determined to have the adventure of a lifetime.

Jaded by his wartime profession as a spy, Lord Witt understands, more than most, that everyone is not always who they pretend to be. He meets Victoria after the Regent requests an investigation into the activities of her physician brother, Lord Ravensmoore.

Witt and Victoria become increasingly entangled in a plot targeting the lords of Parliament. Victoria is forced to question how well she knows those close to her while challenging Witt’s cynical nature and doubts about God. Together they must confront their pasts in order to solve a mystery that could devastate their future.

My Take: She totally got me! Okay, I know I'm supposed to ramble on about the beautiful cover (isn't it gorgeous?), and the author's mad skills in creating characters, but I'm overwhelmed by how cleverly she crafted this plot. I can usually reason out the answer to mysteries pretty quickly. I didn't know anything until she wanted me to. I would guess and then some new bit of information would come out . . . It was fantastic!

I truly enjoyed the first book and was thrilled to meet back with so many of those characters again. Victoria was a fantastic leading lady and I loved her nickname. I have a chronic illness myself and totally understand her focus on studying people -- almost as if you are living vicariously through them. She has brains, beauty, and enough will to make her equal to any task. I liked her a lot.

Witt was my favorite kind of hero. He's a little bit of the bad boy -- though more misunderstood than truly bad. He has let his past define the man he is today. He's closed off, reserved, and private. The mystery in those grey eyes makes him even more attractive to Victoria.

The second book continues to address the treatment of the mentally ill, but it also touches on how women were viewed and what their roles should/could be. 

This was a fascinating story that makes my favorites list. I want to thank the author and her publisher for providing me a copy of the book. It in no way influenced my review.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Fibro Fridays - IBS & Fibro

Today I read this article on Web MD discussing the possible link between IBS and Fibromyalgia: Fibromyalgia and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. When I was diagnosed my Rheumatologist told me they were linked. Most of the literature I've read still supports this, but so little is known about the cause(s) of IBS, Fibro (and all the other chronic disorder linked with Fibro) that it's very difficult for anyone to give concrete answers.

It's somewhat frustrating that the causes of Fibro are still not known (let alone any truly effective treatment/cure) and sometimes the "experts" contradict each other more often than they agree.  

What's reassuring is that more and more the truth is getting out about the very real pain people with these disorders are feeling. It's also sad but true that there is a stigma attached to these disorders with doctors and the general population that we are still fighting. Perhaps with more of these articles, more studies, more awareness . . . it will be easier to find doctors that won't dismiss complaints, better treatments, and a way to fight Fibro and win!  

Monday, May 28, 2012

Monday Musings - Commercials

Today's blog is brought to you by Coca-Cola and Pepsi products (just kidding). I love books and nothing is better than losing myself in a story whether I'm reading or working on one of my own ideas. A good story is a good story though and sometimes those are shown on a small screen in our living room. Yep, I'm talking about TV.

One of my . . . pet peeves about television is the commercials. I know that they pay the bills and I'm all for keeping my favorite shows on the air, but . . .

#1. The volume is almost never the same as your show (and the commercials are generally louder).

#2. The commercials seem to be taking over the shows - in length and even during the shows.

  I thought I was the only one who was thinking along these lines but a quick search before I posted this blog led me to: Commercial Length where a man went back and compared the length of commercials from 1952 until 2011. They started out at only 13% and now can be up to 31-38%. That's not including my very worst pet peeve --- when they have the actors give commercials during the show. "My Prius can do ______" "Really? What will they think of next. Can it _____?"

I remember when nobody would even do product names in their shows. Then a few product placements was okay -- as long as it was tastefully done. Now, actors give sales pitches as part of the show. Does anyone enjoy having a car commercial written into the show? I groan every time. Not only do I have less and less of the actual show every year because of commercials, but now they are taking that time and writing in more commercials. Fabulous.

I read somewhere that the smart technology like they're using in our phones will soon be able to offer us "targeted offers" wherever we go. A tech-smart guru I talked to said it would be "kinda like super-commercials based on your interests and the surrounding area." Great. {wink}

Friday, May 25, 2012

Fibro Fridays - Supplements

We all know there are a lot of medications out there being used for Fibro and the associated disorders. Some of them work very well, some cause more problems than they're worth. Because of that, people are always on the lookout for some new supplement or natural solution to the problems we all have to deal with. There are some very promising options and some very scary scams. To be totally honest, some of them may work wonderfully for one person and either do nothing at all or make the symptoms worse for someone else.

My best advice is to arm yourself with knowledge and then to talk it over with a trusted doctor. He or she will know better if any particular supplement could interfere with any medications you're on - or possibly make one of your medical problems worse.

There is an article on matching basic supplements with symptoms here: Supplements for Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. It's an excellent start and gives good, basic information.

I'll give you one of my hints now. Fish oil is touted as healthy for everyone. It can be hard on sensitive stomachs - and not everyone likes those fishy burps. You can get around that a couple ways. One is to shop around for different kinds of fish oil. Some are coated so they don't break down as fast, so they're less likely to cause stomach upset and fishy aftertaste. You can also purchase a totally new kind that squeezes out of an envelope and comes in a couple different flavors. It has no "fishy" aftertaste at all and just as much - or more - of the benefits. You can also either refrigerate or freeze your fish oil pills. For many this solves the problem. Good luck!

If you've tried any of these methods, what has your experience been? Has it helped or made things worse? Is your doctor open to using supplements? I would love to hear your stories.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Promise Me This

Summary: Michael Dunnagan was never supposed to sail on the Titanic, nor would he have survived if not for the courage of Owen Allen. Determined to carry out his promise to care for Owen’s relatives in America and his younger sister, Annie, in England, Michael works hard to strengthen the family’s New Jersey garden and landscaping business.

Annie Allen doesn’t care what Michael promised Owen. She only knows that her brother is gone—like their mother and father—and the grief is enough to swallow her whole. As Annie struggles to navigate life without Owen, Michael reaches out to her through letters. In time, as Annie begins to lay aside her anger that Michael lived when Owen did not, a tentative friendship takes root and blossoms into something neither expected. Just as Michael saves enough money to bring Annie to America, WWI erupts in Europe. When Annie’s letters mysteriously stop, Michael risks everything to fulfill his promise—and find the woman he’s grown to love—before she’s lost forever.

My Take: I'm going to admit to be being more than pleasantly surprised by this book. There's something about Titanic that still captures our imaginations and breaks our hearts. With the anniversary this year there have been a lot of books and events to help us never forget. This story doesn't stop there though. It travels farther and deeper into the lives of one family to see how they were never the same after that night.
I've heard comparisons before that a good character is like an onion -- you can peel back layer after layer, revealing more and more of the "real" person as you go. This whole book is like that. It is filled with so much meaning and depth and you watch as the characters mature and change into who they need to be - always hoping for them to find happiness in the midst of the sorrow around them. 

The summary tells you enough about Annie and Michael - at least I don't want to give away any more than what she has. What I would like to say is that the author has written the perfect story for us right now. Not just as a tribute to those who went through the events described in her book, but when we look around and see war and wish our loved ones were home safe, or we have worries about the economy in the United States or around the world, with a divisive election coming up . . . We can read about the insecurities, failings, bravery, determination and the faith of those that came before us. A reminder of who we are and how we overcome is exactly what we need - and this does it with a beautifully woven story that is one of my favorites.  

Monday, May 21, 2012

Garden of Madness

Summary: "Three princes who would all have me. One as a means to peace, one as means to power, and the other—the other to set me free."
For seven years the Babylonian princess Tiamat has kept her family's secret, waiting for her father, the mad king Nebuchadnezzar, to return to his family and his kingdom. Married for treaty at fourteen and widowed at twenty-one, she revels in her newfound independence, determined to
control her own destiny.
But when a nobleman is found dead in the palace, Tia must discover who is responsible for the murder, even if her own freedom is threatened. Evidence points to the man-beast roaming the Gardens, and Tia fears the closely-guarded secret may soon be discovered.
But the lies have only begun to unravel, and as Tia uncovers one unspeakable truth after another, she finds that she is the center of the intrigue, and her questions are a threat to her very life. Madness, sorcery, and sinister plots mingle like an alchemist’s deadly potion, and Tia must dare to risk everything—to save the kingdom and herself.

My Take: One day. That's all it took for me to finish this book. It's an election year and I thought today's politicians were scheming and sometimes willing to do almost anything for power. The characters in this book show you how far the quest for power can corrupt man.

One of Tracy Higley's gifts is to make a time and a place come alive. You can hear the sandals slapping, smell the fresh baked bread, and feel the fear as Tia is faced with the demons trying to control her and her kingdom. It all feels as if you are standing right next to her - living it with her.

This was a complicated plot, but it never felt overdone or too difficult to follow. It wasn't easy to predict though - the author manages to surprise you even if you know the story. 

I loved Tia. She reminded me a bit of Jane Austen's Emma because she always went against the tide and wanted to remain single and control her own destiny. She also was naive, and didn't understand what was happening around her and why. She needed maturity - and God to shape her into the woman she was meant to be. It was glorious to see her make the journey.

The three princes vying for her hand are all different and are like choosing turns down a hedge maze. Who truly offers the way out? She thinks she knows the answer many times - but only someone with a different perspective can truly know the right answer. 

This was a fabulous book. It makes my favorites list. I want to thank Thomas Nelson for providing it through the Book Sneeze program. It didn't influence my review in any way.

Friday, May 18, 2012

In Too Deep

Summary: He casually agrees to a marriage of convenience... never expecting to fall in love with his bride.

Ethan Kincaid proposes marriage with the same detachment he gives every decision. Audra Gilliland accepts his proposal so she can stop being a burden to her newly married stepdaughter.

But Ethan never expected Audra to affect him so profoundly, and it terrifies him. Someone he loved was once seriously injured on his watch, and he won't let that happen again. If Audra will just do as he says, he can keep her safe from the dangers that lurk on the ranch.

Audra has been cared for all her life by one man or another--and they've done a poor job of it. Now she's planning to stand up for herself. And her new husband had better agree or get out of her way!

Can two fearful hearts--wary of getting in too deep--become two trusting hearts, willing to let go and fall in love?

My Take: I always look forward to books by Mary Connealy because of the humor and great dialogue she inserts into all her novels. I have to say this one had the perfect title. I felt as if Ethan and Audra were almost like two inexperienced boaters tied to a canoe that was speeding down raging rapids. I think it was the first book I read where both main characters were forced into situations pretty much totally out of their control. 

Now that isn't to say they didn't make any decisions or were unlikeable. They were unique. I loved watching Audra and Ethan first plan to avoid and work around each other and then learn to love and rely on one another. It was a wonderful journey. The author didn't take it easy on them though. This is a story filled with tense action and danger as well as tender romantic moments. It's the kind of thing that keeps you from eating, sleeping, and doing anything but flipping pages.

This one makes my favorites list. I want to thank Bethany House for providing my copy in exchange for my honest review. They did not influence my opinions or require that I provide a positive review.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Lordship of Christ

Summary: "Becoming a Christian means being sick of your sin, longing for forgiveness and rescue from present evil and future hell, and affirming your commitment to the Lordship of Christ to the point where you are willing to forsake everything. I've said it before and I'll say it again: it isn't just holding up your hand or walking down an aisle and saying, 'I love Jesus.'" ―John MacArthur

Best-selling author and pastor John MacArthur brings his deep knowledge of Scripture to this foundational subject. Step by step, he walks through the impact of God's sovereignty, our submission, the characteristics of holy living, and our assurance of salvation. MacArthur makes the case that the Christian life is full and rich―but not easy. It requires sacrifice, perseverance, and transformation in the ongoing process of becoming more like Christ. And it is absolutely worth the cost.

My Take: When you select a book from John MacArthur you can expect it to theologically sound. This book is certainly that. Usually his books are . . . a little more challenging than I found this one. Maybe that's because the subject matter is both difficult for many and important enough that he wanted to make it more easily understood by everyone.

I think the title can be misunderstood. People could read it and think it's going to be about Jesus. It's really about us and how we relate to Christ -- what our role as Christians and disciples is. That is important and often misunderstood in this era of me first, what feels good to me, what pleases me, what I like, what I think, and so on. We are so centered on ourselves that it can be incredibly difficult to give the reigns to someone else.

I don't agree with everything said by anyone but I think this is a book that should be in every church library to help believers understand what is meant by Jesus being the Lord of their lives.

I was given this book by Thomas Nelson as part of the Book Sneeze program but it in no way influenced my review.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Messenger

Summary: Hannah Sunderland felt content in her embrace of the Quaker faith

...until her twin brother ran off and joined the army and ended up captured and in jail. Suddenly Hannah's world turns on end. She longs to bring her brother some measure of comfort in the squalid, frigid prison where he remains. But the Quakers believe they are not to take sides, not to take up arms. Can she sit by and do nothing while he suffers?

Jeremiah Jones has an enormous task before him. Responsibility for a spy ring is now his, and he desperately needs access to the men in prison, whom they are seeking to free. A possible solution is to garner a pass for Hannah. But while she is fine to the eye, she holds only disdain for him--and agreeing would mean disobeying those she loves and abandoning a bedrock of her faith.

With skill and sensitivity, Mitchell tells a story of two unlikely heroes seeking God's voice, finding the courage to act, and discovering the powerful embrace of love.

My Take: When you pick up a book by Siri Mitchell, you know it isn't going to be just like anything else you've already read. She has a passion for research and building complex characters who don't always do what you or I might expect of them. They always seem real enough to take their pulse though. 

She has to be the only one who would cast a committed Quaker as a spy. I was as terrified for Hannah as Jeremiah (and as frustrated too). I wondered if this was how the spies of the Bible acted. Did they always tell the truth when they were sent to find out information about the Promised Land? She was brave, determined, and more than a little stubborn. I could feel the tension in the scenes where she wanted to say something, wanted to act, and yet felt powerless to do so. This was a challenge to her sense of right and wrong and a challenge to her ideas about faith and submission.

Jeremiah seems defeated. He has been a member of the British army (before the rebellion) and has the wounds to prove it. He serves those same soldiers in his bar, all the while hating them and everything they stand for. He wants to feel worthy and thinks doing something for the prisoners is his one chance. That desire to make a difference for so many and redeem himself wars with his guilt for endangering Hannah.   

This is a story about two powerful characters that find themselves because of what they go through. They strengthen each other, bring out the best from one another, and come to know life wouldn't be the same without the other one. Because of who they are, this isn't going to be a romance with lots of lingering kisses and stolen moments building on top of one another. You still feel these two building a bridge between each other that is the foundation of a true and lasting love. 

I loved it and am putting it on my favorites list.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Happily Ever After - Part 3 - If & When

In our desire and search for happiness, we often trip on words like "if" and "when." We say things like, "If only I had enough money for ______" or "When I get ________ that's when I'll know I've made it, when I can relax and be happy."

Sometimes we even get to that benchmark. The problem is that we rarely notice because we've spotted the next one down the line. I don't know about you but I remember making statements like these ever since I was a little girl. I think my first "if/when" statement was about making it to high school. That seems like forever ago. If only that really was the secret to my eternal happiness. :o)

All this focus on benchmarks makes us miss the real point of life - the real source of joy. It comes from the journey itself and all the people, lessons, love and blessings you have along the way. You have to take the time to enjoy it for the gift it is though. That's why they call it the present.

When I was preparing this I was reminded of an essay that came out right before I graduated that speaks to this point so eloquently that I'd love for you to read it yourself. It's called The Station by Robert J. Hastings.

Have a wonderful day! :o)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Fibro Friday - Awareness Day

Tomorrow is Fibromyalgia Awareness Day. There are lots of places to get involved, spread the word and show your support. This is really important because there are a so many people suffering with these autoimmune disorders and not a lot of understanding or support for clinical studies and research.

Here is one site you can go to for info: The National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association. They have this great logo you can download to show your support and promote awareness (in several different sizes).

Let's band together and create awareness so nobody has to suffer.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Kitty Friendship

These are two of my cats, Faith and Thomas. They had just gotten baths earlier in the day (hence the hair dryer and the rag towel). They, like most cats, don't enjoy bath time -- at all. A kind of strange thing they do -- if we bathe one of them and not the other -- is hiss at each other as if they're strangers. Since they normally get along so well, it totally surprised us the first time they did it.

This is such a sweet picture because it shows that after such a traumatic and stressful day for them (and me) they decided to cuddle up with each other. Thomas is holding Faith's paw (he likes to hold our hands too) and you just know it's making him feel better so he can nap. Everything is better with a friend.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Beauty for Ashes

She's a beautiful young widow. He's a Southern gentleman with a thirst for adventure. Both need a place to call home.
It's 1876 and eligible bachelors are scarce in Hickory Ridge. But Carrie Daly has found love. Not the weak-in-the-knees kind, but something practical. Still, she isn't quite ready to set a date with Nate Chastain.
Griff Rutledge is passing through to collect an old debt. Formerly a member of Charleston society, Griff has been estranged from his family for years. Determined to lead an unencumbered life, he is on his way to explore the gold fields and cattle ranches of Australia. But when he's asked to train a Thoroughbred for an upcoming race in Hickory Ridge, he decides to stay a bit longer.
Despite objections from the townsfolk, and her fear that true happiness has eluded her, Carrie is drawn to Griff's kindness and charm. But Griff isn't sure if he wants to settle down. It will take a leap of faith for them to open their hearts and claim God's promise of beauty for ashes.

My Take:
This is one of those books that can keep you biting your lip and wondering will she or won't she? Which man will she choose? Nate may not give her the butterflies in the stomach, but he's always been there - always been dependable and the one she can rely on. Griff -- well he tends to not always hang around the right people and make the right choices . . . plus he's already planning on leaving. He's as much as told her not to count on anything with him. That doesn't stop her heart from beating out of control when he's around though.

Carrie has plenty of other things to deal with in this book as well. Family problems of every kind pile on her until a lesser woman would crumble under the weight. I don't know if I would have had her strength or patience. She certainly got mad - but when push came to shove - she was there when they needed her.

I think the title fit this story perfectly - and not just for Carrie but for many of the characters. Thankfully it's a promise for us as well. I look forward to the next installment by this author.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Happily Ever After - Part 2 Heroes

Look at your typical romance cover and we may likely drool and possibly swoon. Read between the pages and you'll find handsome, strong, brave, tall, and impossible stubborn and old-fashioned men. Sure they get the old day-dreams going for the knight on a white horse to carry us away from our concrete jungle, but would we really want to stick around them for very long?

I was talking to a friend of mine and she was lamenting over how stubborn the heroine was in her book. "She won't give him a chance and he's being so kind and considerate. I mean, he even lets her read!"

Seriously? Wow, what a liberty. What would we do to a man today that didn't let us read? He wouldn't be up for hero status, that's for sure. Now before you scalp me and tell me things were different back then - I know that. Don't tell me all those books are being historically accurate with their heroines that are feminist and always trying to be just like the men. It just didn't happen - nor was it tolerated. We let that go because we like reading about feisty leading ladies.

To be fair I have read some very forward thinking male characters as well. They just don't happen to appear as often. One friend suggested it's because in "escape literature" it's nice to think of someone strong taking charge and carrying the load for us. Another said they're the bad boys we read about but wouldn't really want to have for real.

What do you think?

Friday, May 4, 2012

Fibro Fridays - Depression

Hold on tight - I'm taking on the establishment today. I read in a magazine article once (forgive me I forget which one - I'll try and find it) that one in four people in the United States is on an anti-depressant. One in four! I was shocked. I know depression is as real as fibro and people need solutions . . . but is it really to the point where one in four American have altered brain chemistry and need medication to fix the problem?

Then I started researching and found this article CDC: Antidepressants most prescribed drugs in U.S. The first story shared is about a woman who was frustrated with how her husband was handling the finances so her doctor put her on anti-depressants. It also says prescriptions have tripled in recent years and most psychiatrists are pleased because people are finally getting the help they need.

Even more alarming to me was listed on Depression Facts and Stats. It says that the fasted growing market for anti-depressants isn't fibromyalgia patients or women - it's preschoolers. I can't tell you how scary I find it that these pills that . . . mess with our minds are being given to little children. When I talked to some teachers (off the record) about it they said a lot of it has to do with behavior. That made me angry.

The same website says depression is increasing among children at a rate of 24%. We've all seen the warnings on commercials that claim higher rates of suicides if taken by children under 18. Another page I visited Trends in Prescribing PDF said there haven't been enough studies to see long term side effects for children and that at least a third of these prescriptions were being given without the benefit of a "mental health provider."

Then I found something really interesting. The Emperor's New Drugs is an article put out by the American Psychological Association. They looked at the data supplied to the FDA about the major anti-depressants and found no significant difference between them and placebo.

What does this all have to do with us? I'm not totally sure yet. I do know that nearly every patient with Fibro and CFS are put on anti-depressants as a matter of course - whether they "feel" depressed or not. The symptoms of our disorder mirror depression in a lot of ways, and -- I know that dealing with chronic pain can lead to depression. I did see this article though about CFS: 10 Discoveries About the Biology of CFS. The first one talks about depression.

Since most evidence points to us not starting out with depression, perhaps if we had better support systems, better resources, and could get better treatments - we wouldn't end up needing those anti-depressants. I know they make all the difference for many of you. I wouldn't want to stop that. I only want to cut down on the unnecessary prescriptions and have doctors treat us all as individuals.

What do you think of all this?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Heart's Safe Passage

Summary: It's 1813 and all Phoebe Lee wants out of life is to practice midwifery in Loudon County, Virginia. When Belinda, her pregnant sister-in-law, presses Phoebe to accompany her onto a British privateer in order to cross the Atlantic and save her husband from an English prison, Phoebe tries to refuse, then finds herself kidnapped.

Captain Rafe Docherty is a man in search of revenge. His ship is no place for women, but he needs Belinda in order to obtain information about the man who destroyed his family and his life. Between Belinda's whining and Phoebe's hostility, Rafe can't help but wonder if he made the right choice.
When it becomes apparent there is an enemy among them on the ship, the stakes are raised. Will they reach the English shore in time? Can love and forgiveness overcome vengeance?

My Take: I liked the first book in this series, Lady in the Mist, but I must admit this one is even better. Why? Well . . .

It's hard to really put my finger on it, but it may be because they went out to sea and added all that action to the romance. Then there were truly (and I mean it) fantastic characters. They were not your perfect heroes and heroines -- and some finely crafted secondary characters also populated the pages of this book. So - great story and characters. How could it lose?

Rafe - I just love his name. Sometimes a lot is carried into a character just by name choice and Rafe conjurers up images of some kind of gentleman pirate -- a little bit dangerous, with a past or something that haunts him . . . and yet not altogether evil. So perfect! He starts off willing to use a pregnant woman to get revenge - despite danger from enemy (and friendly) vessels - and a crew that doesn't understand women on board or forgoing their lucrative privateering.

Phoebe is caught up in all of this because her sister-in-law is desperate to get her husband back and needs someone to help her if she goes in labor. But she is lied to at every turn and resents being held against her will on the ship. Her history with Belinda doesn't help and her lack of trust sometimes makes things worse instead of better.

There is a lot of tension from the action and mystery in the story as well as lots of romantic tension and sparks. Characters like Mel made it so much fun and captured my heart from the beginning. I can still visualize the scene with the rigging - and my heart catches in my throat like I'm the one up there. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am adding it to my favorites list!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Accidental Bride

Summary: Two high-school sweethearts, a wedding reenactment, and one absent-minded preacher. Is it a recipe for disaster or a chance for a new beginning?
Shay Brandenberger is a survivor. She's lived through a crazy childhood, a failed marriage, and single parenthood-with her confidence intact.
But not for long. Because when Shay participates in her town's Founder's Day wedding reenactment, she finds herself face-to-face with the one man who takes her breath away and leaves her weak in the knees: Travis McCoy.
Travis is back in town after years way on the rodeo circuit. His one regret in life is breaking Shay's heart when they were high-school sweethearts. He's determined to get it right this time.
So when their Founder's Day ""marriage"" is accidentally made official, Travis seizes the day. Can Shay put aside her pride to let Travis help her, or will their accidental marriage be dissolved before it can begin?

My Take: I wasn't sure about the premise of this book but the characters . . . they reached in, grabbed my heart (right out of my chest), and stole it. I was hooked from that point on.

Shay is almost like this wounded animal that you want to help -- but she is still strong enough to stand on her own and just hurting enough that she might strike out at you instead of accepting any help. You can't help but admire her desire to stand on her own two feet -- yet at the same time you're screaming at her to accept help and open up her heart and take a chance.

Travis is the epitome of the knight in shining armor. Except he doesn't wear armor - and he has a guilt trip about a mile wide and long from hurting Shay when they were younger. Okay, so maybe his "armor" has some dings in it, but it was a boy that hurt Shay - a man has ridden to the rescue now - and he loves her more than ever.

This was a great romance. I'm glad I bought it so I can cuddle up and enjoy it over and over whenever I want.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday Musings - Happily Ever After - Part 1

After all the hoopla surrounding the recent Mega Millions winners, I started thinking about all the things we read and write into our "happily ever after" scenarios. One of the things people often think about is having enough money and it would be hypocritical of me to say I didn't think about what I would do if my family had won that much money.

The more I thought about it, and the more I looked at past winners and those who have money -- the more I wondered whether I would want it or not. I mean the scrutiny alone would be a pain. Then you have to wonder how you would deal with everyone wanting money from you and how they will react if you don't give it to them - even if it's in their best interests. I've seen a lot of interviews where wealthy people have admitted they wish they didn't have so much because they know many of their friends are only there for the money.

Then there is how it would change your life. I have to admit, in a lot of ways this would be great. We could give to whatever charities we wanted, pay off all our debt, not worry about college expenses . . . live where we wanted. It could be nice not to worry about being able to pay for things. However, there is this whole new worry about mismanaging that much money. You have to worry if your lawyer and/or broker is doing a good job or stealing from you -- then there are all new tax laws and people who will resent you for suddenly going from the ninety-nine to the one percent. You may even have to worry about your personal security.

When all this came out about the huge amount to be won, I saw a special that said a lot of people who win large amounts end up with broken marriages and in financial troubles within just a few years. They think it's because of how suddenly their lives changed.

What about you? Would you want to be one of those Mega Millions winners? How would you avoid the problems that come with it?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Fibro Fridays

If you've been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia (or many of the associated disorders) you've probably heard something about it being all in your head before. Whether it came from an unsympathetic doctor or friends and family, it can be hurtful when you're suffering and don't completely understand why yourself.

New research has been done in the past few years that sheds some light on Fibro and the body systems most involved. The truth of the matter is that a lot of it may be in our heads -- just not in the way those people intended the statements.

There is an article out that ties in a lot of the clinical studies done recently. Here is a link to it: Neurobiology Underlying Fibromyalgia Symptoms.

It's a long article, but the findings are encouraging for those of us who have been wanting this to be treated as a valid disorder. I'm hoping this kind of article and the studies behind it will fuel more studies and possibly better treatment options.

Take a gander over to the article and let me know if you have any questions or comments about the article. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Dawn Comes Early

Disgraced dime novelist Kate Tenney fled the city that banned her latest novel for the emptiness of the desert. Answering an ad to be "heiress" to a vast cattle ranch in the Arizona Territory, Kate hopes ranching turns out to be as romantic as she portrayed it in her novels.
But what awaits her is a life harder than the one she just left. There is no room for mistakes on a working cattle ranch, and Kate is ill-prepared for her new life. She quickly learns that dawn comes early. But she is tenacious.
Having been abandoned by a string of men, Kate has no intention of ever marrying. But she didn't expect to meet Luke Adams, either. Luke awakens feelings inside Kate she doesn't recognize, and his steady presence is a constant distraction. She has only written about love in the past, never known it herself. But her feelings for Luke stand in the way of all she has to gain if she is chosen as the heir.
Perhaps God brought Kate to the barrenness of the desert to give new life to her jaded heart.

My Take: This was a truly fun read. Those who read my reviews most often know how I love realism and this book had a genuine feel of community to it. I didn't feel as if Kate & Luke's story was the only one going on (with everyone else there just as filler) but truly like we were seeing life through their eyes. The emphasis was on them, but the other characters were moving forward in their lives as well. It made the story more three dimensional.

There was tension, action, romance, and comic relief right from the beginning. I loved Cactus Joe and thought the author was brilliant creating him as both villain and a sort of tragic clown. The whole idea of Kate being a writer of banned books was genius. It created such a buzz about her in town - and a lot of discussion that is still applicable today.

Each character felt like they had a history that was well developed and interesting. I loved getting to know them. Because of that, their actions and the story line was even more dynamic. I loved some of the choices they made - like Kate and the windmill. You have to read to know what I'm talking about. I don't want to give anything away.

The only thing I wish could have happened was more time spent between Luke and Kate. I know that was realistic for the time period though. This is one I would heartily recommend. I want to thank Thomas Nelson for providing a copy in exchange for my honest review.    

Monday, April 23, 2012


This winter I was sick and just didn't keep up with posting like I needed to. The Fibro complicated things but I hope I have a handle on it now. During that period Megan at Faery Tales are Real tagged me with this fun set of questions. I love her blog and planned on responding but . . . well why don't I just stop apologizing and get on with it?
Here are the rules:

Post 11 random things about yourself, answer the questions I ask you, then create 11 more questions for the people you tag and go to their blog and let them know they’ve been tagged.
If you don’t want to create a post for this, then please feel free to answer these questions on my blog.
Now for the random part:
1. When I was a little girl I had three dream jobs in mind. I wanted to be an actress, a teacher/writer, and I wanted to be a Solid Gold Dancer. Anybody remember that show? I'm so sorry I decided to share that. lol
2. Let's see . . . I was in the Army. That's where I met my husband. I also served in the same unit as my father. I don't think many people can say that.
3. I've always loved historical fiction and part of me would love to be able to time travel and visit those periods in time. About the only time period I would rule out is the World Wars. It was so unpleasant -- and fairly recent. I think about it as a kind of vacation idea though. I am fairly attached to my computer, air conditioning, toothbrushes and modern medicine.
4. I love to watch TV shows where they have a mystery to solve - or a bad guy to catch. It's like reading a mystery novel. My husband and I try to figure out who it is and often pause the show to analyze clues while we're watching.
 5. I have a small collection of carnival and depression glass. I learned about it and thought it was so pretty that I picked up a few pieces that are displayed around my house. 
6. I also collect old books. I especially love old school books. I have some from the 1800s but my favorites are probably the ones from the 1920s - 1960s. I love the illustrations in them. It may be misleading, but I love the idealism and positive values.

7. Though I am terrified of being on stage and in front of crowds, I love to do skits and (to a lesser degree) teach seminars and classes. I have been in front of thousands a couple times and did a good job once on stage, but I get sick to my stomach and literally shake with fear before I do it. I even wore a mustache and beard and pretended to be a man for a VBS program one year. I didn't think I'd ever live that one down.

8. Between the pain in my fingers and a lack of time I don't get to do it very often, but I make jewelry as a hobby. I'm pretty new at it -- and my lack of practice doesn't help me . . . but I like to do it. The ironic thing is that I don't wear jewelry very often. A lot of it ends up being gifts and I have used it as a way to raise money for mission work as well.
9. I love butterflies. I have a bunch of pictures of them, I always get a butterfly calendar every year. Not only are they beautiful but they symbolize rebirth, spring, and the ability to transform into something entirely new.

10. My favorite flower is the Iris. My grandmother loved it and she was the one who influenced me to become a Christian. She was a special lady.

11. I like to be funny and my husband often tells me I have a great sense of humor. A lot of people don't know that about me because I'm really shy and tend to stay quiet around people I don't know. I'm working on breaking that habit. I become a regular stand up comic when I'm scared though. I cracked jokes right and left before my surgeries - and even got one of the nurses in trouble for laughing with me. 
Now for Megan's questions:

1.  Are you able to have background noise when you are reading?  If so, what type of noise do you usually have on while you are reading? I prefer to have quiet. Any loud noise will distract me from what I'm reading. Having said that, I don't like it perfectly quiet. Instrumental music or the TV on very low is perfect for me.

2.  Do you have any pet(s)?  If so, details please : ) I have three cats and two dogs. I have to admit the dogs were mostly for my boys. I still love them, but I'm mostly a cat person. We also have a fish tank.
3.  Do you have any unfulfilled dreams? I think everyone does. I'm writing and teaching though. I even do some acting. I'm getting to do most of what I dreamed of as a child.

4.  What is one of your pet peeves? Commercials. They last longer, are at a different volume than the show, & a lot of shows have built-in commercials too. "Look at how my car dials and can use the navigation system ... and it can assist with parking too! "{groan} 
 (a younger Thomas curled up on my desk)

5.  Why did you start a blog? I did it because I'm both a reader and writer and I wanted to share my love of books with others who felt the same way.

6.  What is your favorite season and why? Spring - because of the whole renewal and rebirth of everything around us that reminds us of the new chance we have in Christ. (The weather is also nicer without being too warm.)
                                                                                    (Faith looking poised and graceful as usual)
7.  What is your favorite book? That's hard. I read so many great books. To pick a favorite it has to be one you go back to over and over again. A couple fit that bill but the one I most revisit is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

8.  What is your favorite hobby? Perhaps it may seem too obvious to say reading, but that it my number one hobby. I also play word games, and I already mentioned the jewelry-making.

9.  What time of day do you normally blog? I have problems sleeping so I usually blog in the middle of the night. So please extend some grace if I blabber on without making any sense at all.

10.  Have you been to any foreign countries? I have been to quite a few foreign countries. I graduated from high school overseas and visited lots of places. I've been very lucky in that area. There are still quite a few places I'd like to go.

11.  What makes you laugh the hardest? Myself. My animals. My husband . . . a lot of things. 
Laughter is good medicine.

Here are my questions:

1. What would be your dream vacation?

2. Do you set goals/challenges for yourself like New Year's resolutions? Why or why not?

3. What is your favorite job you've ever held?

4. If you could live in any time period in history which one would you pick?

5. Would you rather read inside on a cozy piece of furniture or outside listening to the sounds of nature?

6. Are you a city or a country person?

7. What's your favorite thing about blogging?

8. Would you ever do a reality show? If so, which one?

9. Have you ever won anything in your life?

10. What's your favorite thing to cook or bake?

11. Do you like to shop in stores or online?

I am tagging:

Renee @ Black 'n Gold Girl's Book Spot 

Deborah @ Butterfly Journey

If I didn't tag you and you'd like to participate, please let me know you're going to do so and I'll add you to our list here and visit your blog to see the answers. You can also answer in the comments. The more the merrier. :o)