Friday, December 31, 2010

Top 10 Books of the Year

This year I read 119 books. They varied from classics to nonfiction and back to romances and everything in between. I have to say that I think it was one of the best years I've had so far with new books. There are a lot of very talented authors out there putting out great novels. I wanted to include more than I have on this list. In the end my list is more about what touched me personally - and how they did. So, without further ado, (and in no particular order) my list:

1. Jenna's Cowboy by Sharon Gillenwater

All you have to do is gaze at the cover. lol  Seriously this was a touching romance all about second chances and acceptance of people for who they are. The romance was the kind that stays with you and felt "real" in a way some don't. I really appreciated the message and the characters.

2. Swinging on a Star by Janice Thompson

I really want to be adopted into this family. Part of me knows they don't really exist but in my heart of hearts they do. I laugh, cry and learn so much from them. When you want to become part of the book, it has to be part of your top ten.

3. She Walks in Beauty by Siri Mitchell

I know, some of you might be wondering why this is on the list again. If you've read it, you'll understand. I see this as my "overall" list and had to include all the books that most touched me - and that meant some crossover. This book had such a compelling message, gorgeous cover, great writing and characters... I could read it over and over again. 

4. Seaside Letters by Denise Hunter

This really should be for her entire Nantucket series. I didn't discover them until this year and absolutely fell in love with her writing style, the series, Nantucket, the characters... I couldn't decide whether the first one or this one was my favorite so I chose the most recent. They are all worthy reads. 

5. Surrender the Heart by MaryLu Tyndall

One of the things I said about this book was that I felt like it could be the next big action movie. It made me have to turn the pages not just because of that sense of destiny and urgency about the action - but also about these people. They were fascinating - strong and yet vulnerable. They wanted to stay apart but they were meant to be together... 

6. Maid to Match by Deeanne Gist

What can I say? You can't get a better setting for a book than Biltmore and then you add in a fabulous story with a great message and you have a top ten for sure. I loved learning more about the history and innovations of Biltmore but the love story added with the tale of the orphanage made this one of my very favorites.

7. A Case for Love by Kaye Dacus

I think when you've been reading a whole series you're more attached to the books and the characters. I know I was very anxiously awaiting this book because I was so curious about how his romance would end up. He was always so polished and in control - and so good looking. I was more than a little in love with him myself. By the end of the book I was all the way in love. lol 

8. A Hope Undaunted by Julie Lessman

This is another one of those I waited on - for seemingly forever. This is also another family I would love to be adopted into. Julie writes the best heroes - and the best kisses. ;o)  Keep a fan handy and don't worry, you won't need a bookmark. Just remember to breathe once in a while and have some snacks handy before you start.

9. Crossing Oceans by Gina Holmes/ Rooms by James L. Rubart

I know what you're thinking - she cheated. You're right. I told you I chose this list by what books touched me. I looked at how they made me feel. These two left a similar impression on my heart even though they're very different books. Crossing Oceans taught me about how precious each day is. It also talked about sacrificial love and making hard decisions. Rooms talks about the choices placed before us - what we value and what voices we listen to. Both books talked about forgiveness and both were so important to me I couldn't leave them off the list. 

10. The Raven Saint by M.L. Tyndall

This was another series ending book that was fabulous. I knew it was going to be something special when I started hearing about the hero and she described him as "Orlando Bloom in the Pirates movies." That was a picture for my imagination. ;o) Then I read the book and it was such a wonderful story with fabulous depth. I really wanted these two to have their happy ending. It was also exciting and filled with other interesting characters too. Another book I think could do well on the big screen. 

Well that's it for 2010. Time to start a new year. I can't wait! What were your favorites? Did you like any of the same ones I did?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Top 10 Historical Fiction for the Year

Top 10 
Historical Fiction Reads for 2010
I had so many favorite books that I decided to break my list down into two this year. I'll share my overall favorites tomorrow but I read a lot of historical fiction, so this was the bulk of my favorites list. I read 46 Christian historical fiction novels and another 14 classics or "other" historical fiction novels. The top ten are all Christian but I listed a few honorable mentions as well (I just had to cheat). :o) Even with breaking it into two lists (and cheating a little) there still is not nearly enough room for all the wonderful books I read this year. So many touched my heart and were important to me. It's too hard to pick. I think we should be able to pick thirty or forty books. I didn't pick that number out of a hat either. I had 33 favorites listed at the end of the year.

In no particular order:

1.  Maid to Match by Deanne Gist
2.  She Walks in Beauty by Siri L. Mitchell
3. Highland Blessings by Jennifer Hudson
4. Love on a Dime by Cara Lynn James
5. The Falcon and the Sparrow by M.L. Tyndall
6. Surrender the Heart by M.L. Tyndall
7. The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen
8. The Raven Saint M.L.Tyndall
9. The Healer's Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson
10. A Hope Undaunted by Julie Lessman


~Honorable Mentions~
I discovered a fabulous author this year. I read several of her books but my two favorites were:

Venetia and Frederica by Georgette Heyer

As I look at my list it seems like I may have been a bit biased towards a particular author. I didn't mean to be. In the long list there was a lot of variety - and it was hard to choose. There were special circumstances too. I didn't discover The Falcon and the Sparrow until this year and loved it so much I couldn't leave it off the list. I can't possibly be blamed for her putting out two such awesome books this year. ;o)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Man Called Outlaw


Title: A Man Called Outlaw
Author: K.M.Weiland

Goodreads Blurb:

All his life Shane Lassiter revered the man who stood in place of the father he'd never known. Nathaniel Wilcock took Shane into his own home, loved him as a son, and placed within his grasp the largest ranch in the Wyoming Territory. But Shane had heard the stories. He knew the whispers about the fugitive gunman who stood against Wilcock during the land wars that rocked the valley thirty years ago. In Wilcock's eyes, the gunman was a vigilante and an outlaw and as such he had died. To the people of Hangtree, he was a hero-a martyr who stood against corruption and injustice. When Wilcock's greed endangers the only woman Shane has ever loved-a woman who holds the secret that could resurrect everything for which the outlaw fought-Shane finds himself a place not so very different from that of the outlaw. He must make a decision, the shadow of which will be cast over the lives of all those he loves. A decision between truth and power-between honor and life-between right and wrong.

My Take:

I loved this book. I waited a long time to get it and was really happy to finally get a chance to read it. Aren't book budgets a pain?

Initially I was a little disoriented by how the the story went back & forth in time, but that quickly went away. I couldn't seem to read fast enough to figure out what was going to happen next. That's one of the best parts of this book. Unlike some novels, you're never really sure if the bad guy, Judge Wilcock, is going to win or not. I wanted to reach in and shake Shane a couple times. If that isn't a sure sign of good writing, I don't know what is. I talked back to the characters (and the author a few times as well ~ but don't tell her I said so). ;o)

The only real drawback was that I wished the book had gone on for another couple chapters. This is one I can see myself re-reading. It had a lot to say on many levels beyond just enjoying the story.

***For the die-hard romance fanatics, this book does have love stories, but the real emphasis is on the battle between good and evil. Not that I think you won't enjoy it, but since I do so many romances I wanted to be clear.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wordless Wednesday (almost)

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Rooms

Title: Rooms
Author: James L. Rubart

Goodreads Blurb:

On a rainy spring day in Seattle, young software tycoon Micah Taylor receives a cryptic, twenty-five-year-old letter from a great uncle he never knew. It claims a home awaits him on the Oregon coast that will turn his world inside out. Suspecting a prank, Micah arrives at Cannon Beach to discover a stunning, brand new nine-thousand square foot house. And after meeting Sarah Sabin at a nearby ice cream shop, he has two reasons to visit the beach every weekend. When bizarre things start happening in the rooms of the home, Micah suspects they have some connection to his enigmatic new friend, Rick, the town mechanic. But Rick will only say the house is spiritual. This unnerves Micah because his faith slipped away like the tide years ago, and he wants to keep it that way. But as he slowly discovers, the home isn-t just spiritual, it-s a physical manifestation of his soul, which God uses to heal Micah-s darkest wounds and lead him into an astonishing new destiny.

My Take:

One word:  Uh--Maze--Ing!  Okay, I'm done.










Well, maybe not really. lol I read a lot of comments about how good this book was but nobody really said why, and since I was heavily into historical romances (and still am most of the time) I kind of gave it a pass. When I did get the opportunity to get it I remembered all the hype and picked it up - as a sort of "just in case I have time" kind of thing. I'm so glad I did.


This isn't light reading though. Rooms is the kind of book that makes you look deep inside yourself and ask questions. The author does a brilliant job portraying the realistic battles that a Christian faces. What do you believe? Whose voice do you listen to? What is truly important and gives you the most happiness and fulfillment? What are you willing to sacrifice? 


Micah is not only three dimensional and believable as a character, but he could be any one of us. This story is full of mystery, hope, faith, tragedy, friendship, and  - most of all - love. If you haven't had a chance to read it yet, then I hope you'll pick up a copy soon. Make it a Christmas present to yourself. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Guardian of the Flame


Title: Guardian of the Flame
Author: T.L. Higley

Goodreads Blurb:

Guardian of the Flame is book three in the Seven Wonders series of novels transporting readers back to the Ancient World. Characters struggle to find meaning in a pagan society and are confronted by the one true God and His message of redemption. The year is 48 BC. Sophia, a woman hurt by past loss, guards the famous lighthouse of Alexandria, Egypt, in order to hide herself away from a world she deems cruel and unloving. But there is no escape. Political turmoil swells as Roman general Julius Caesar and his legion storm the city, and Cleopatra, Greek queen of Egypt , fights to retain her country against both Caesar and bloodthirsty rivals within her own household. Sophia is caught in the middle between a loyalty to Cleopatra and her maddening interest in Bellus, the Roman soldier whom Caesar has instructed to overtake the lighthouse.

My Take:

This is one of those stories that keeps you turning pages, biting your lip and holding your breath to find out what will happen next with the characters. It is by no means a simple romance. I love ancient history and all the intrigue, action, and details that make that time period fascinating were so well represented that Alexandria itself became almost another character in the story. 


Sophia is a wonderful character. She's isolated, intelligent, self-sacrificing and has built more than a few walls to protect her heart. As you watch her interact with those around her, you can see the contrasts in what she feels and what she wants to project. She came across as a wonderfully three dimensional woman. 


The romance between Sophia and Bellus is fantastic. They are like fire and ice. They butt heads and are on opposing sides on many occasions and yet they also have a lot in common. Neither one of them is as simple or as easily defined as their roles would have them be. Their romance isn't limited to physical attraction nor is it hindered only by misunderstandings. They have real obstacles to overcome if they are going to have a future.


The story of Cleopatra and Caesar was bonus and not nearly as developed. It was a fun addition though. Although there are a few mentions of the "One God," I thought it was mentioned less often than the other forms of worship and certainly wouldn't be offensive to a non-Christian friend that you wanted to share this with.


If you love fiction set in ancient history, this just might be a book to add to your pile. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, December 13, 2010

Eye of the God


Title: Eye of the God
Author: Ariel Allison

Goodreads Blurb:

When jewel thieves attempt to steal the Hope Diamond, Dr Abigail Mitchell stands in their way. Abby's faith is put to the test as she confronts the father who abandoned her, the betrayal of the only man she has ever loved, and the possibility that she may lose her life because of the legendary gem.

My Take: 

I really liked the suspense about the robberies and who was behind them. Abby was a very like-able character. She was intelligent, strong, resourceful and yet vulnerable ~ especially in relationships. She was also in the shadow of her father and felt the need to constantly prove herself. 


I've always been more than a little fascinated by the Hope Diamond. It's gorgeous and it has a history. This book goes into that history and legend - perhaps in too much detail. Sometimes it feels as if we're reading a lecture on the diamond instead of a novel. 


The pacing of the robberies and the surprises make up for it though. It also has a light romance. This is billed as Christian fiction but the message is very subtle. If you are interested in the Hope Diamond or like well-written stories about robberies, this would be a great one to add to your list.

Friday, December 10, 2010

In The Shadow of Lions

Title: In the Shadow of Lions
Author: Ginger Garrett

Goodreads Blurb:

"I am the first writer, The Scribe. My books lie open before the Throne, and someday will be the only witness of your people and their time in this world. The stories are forgotten here, and the Day draws close. I will tell you one of my stories. You will record it."
So begins the narration of one such angel in this sweeping historical tale set during the reign of England's Henry VIII. It is the story of two women, their guardian angels, and a mysterious, subversive book . a book that outrages some, inspires others, and launches the Protestant Reformation.
The devout Anne Boleyn catches the eye of a powerful king and uses her influence to champion an English translation of the Bible—Scriptures the common people could read for themselves. Meanwhile, Rose, a broken, suicidal woman of the streets, is moved to seek God when she witnesses Thomas More's public displays of Christian charity, ignorant of his secret life spent eradicating the same book, persecuting anyone who dares read it.
Historic figures come alive in this thrilling story of heroes and villains, saints and sinners, angels and mortals ... and the sacred book that will inspire you anew.

My Take:


I read a lot of historical fiction and I think this is the first time I saw the perspective that Anne Boleyn might have been a strong believer and trying hard to please God. It was a really unique look at most of those central figures. I've read about some of them before but I found most of it really interesting - and sometimes heart breaking. I wish the book would have not wasted any time in the present because those scenes didn't connect with me nearly as much and sometimes just left me scratching my head.

I really enjoyed the historical sections though. It wasn't just the new take on Anne Boleyn either. There was something really touching about Rose. She felt so worthless and downtrodden in the beginning and to watch her transform first through the love of others and then to see her as she begins to discover the Bible for herself and then accept Christ... It was amazing to see how that changed her and the way she dealt with the circumstances around her.

I think this is a fascinating period of history and this book brings it out through focusing on how it played out in the lives of these people. You read about each of them and how they either manipulated people and events or truly thought they were doing the right thing according to God to protect their families, the community and the kingdom ~ and the consequences of those choices.

There are times it will make you smile, times it will give you goosebumps and times where you will not be able to read fast enough in order to find out what happens. I think it was a fascinating book and I will be adding the next one to my list. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

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!

    I have a few open reads at the moment so it's always hard to choose. Okay - here is one from page 155 of Guardian of the Flame by T. L. Higley:

    Sophia raised her eyebrows. "First Socrates, now Aristotle. I may soon have to revise my opinion of Romans."
    Bellus laughed. "I do not believe all the quotations at my disposal could accomplish that."

    I know - I cheated a little on the number of sentences - but since it was dialogue I figured I could get away with it. :o)

    Monday, December 6, 2010

    Love on a Dime


    Title: Love on a Dime
    Author: Cara Lynn James

    Goodreads Blurb:

    Newport, Rhode Island, 1899, is a place of shimmering waves, sleek yachts, and ladies of leisure. Of opulent mansions that serve as summer cottages for the rich and famous. Home of railroad magnates and banking tycoons--dashing young men and the women who aspire to marry them.
    But it's not the place for lady novelists. Especially not those who pen disreputable dime novels. This poses a problem for Lilly Westbrook, because that's exactly what she does.
    No one in Lilly's social set knows she pens fiction under the nom de plume Fannie Cole. Not her family or the wealthy young man about to propose to her. And especially not Jackson Grail, the long-lost beau who just bought her publishing company...and who stirs her heart more than she cares to admit.
    But Lilly must put aside her feelings and follow the path that will maintain her family's social stature and provide the financial security that everyone is depending on.
    Now Lilly faces a double dilemma. Can she continue to protect her secret identity? And will she have the courage to choose the man who will risk it all just to win her heart?


    My Take:

    This was such a wonderfully fun book for me to read. As I sat down to write the review and thought about trying to be objective and look at writing style and character development and all those lovely things I ought to measure ~ well I just kept going back to how good I felt as I was reading it and how much I personally related to the story. It's my favorite kind of book ~ historical romance. It's one of my favorite time periods, it has an awesome cover... Plus I write in secret as well. I know I tell all of you - but none of my neighbors or friends know. I guess I'm a little afraid of how they'd react as well. So I could really relate to ow Lilly was feeling in many ways.

    The story was interesting as well. There is that touch of mystery that kept you turning the pages. Just who is the man who is threatening to unveil her real identity and where is he getting his information? Will she be able to keep her secret? There also was more real tension about who she was going to choose in this book than in many romances.

    Lilly battles insecurity in one way - and Jackson another. His is a very typical male one too. He wants to be able to be the provider - and to be looked up to be those around him. Raised around wealthy people but never having anything himself, he feels like he needs that wealth in order to have worth. He runs away from Lilly thinking he doesn't deserve her and she thinks he doesn't want her. Now he's back and she's being courted by someone else...

    This is a great book. I highly recommend it to anyone who is a fan of historical romances.

    Monday, November 22, 2010

    A Suitor For Jenny


    Title: A Suitor for Jenny
    Author: Margaret Brownley

    Goodreads Blurb:
    After their parents died, Jenny felt responsible for seeing that her two younger sisters were well-taken care of. Tipped off by an article naming Rocky Creek the town with the highest number of eligible bachelors, Jenny rolled into this Texas town with a clear objective: find suitable husbands for her two sisters and then start fresh somewhere far, far away.

    Jenny believes that women who fall in love at first sight often wish they'd taken a second look, so she diligently begins to follow all the rules set forth in her handy manual on how to land a husband.

    But while Jenny is interviewing the less-than-promising candidates, her sisters are falling in love the old-fashioned way—with men of their choosing. And the longer Jenny stays, the more her sense of control slips away. The town isn't living up to her expectations, her sisters are rebelling against her practical choices, and soon her own heart starts to betray her, as US Marshall Rhett Armstrong stirs up emotions in her that weren't part of her plan.

    To relinquish her control to God and calm her restless spirit, she'll need to give up her foregone conclusions about marriage, love, and faith.


    My Take: 

    I won this book in the firstreads contest on Goodreads so I want to thank them and the publisher, Thomas Nelson for providing the book. I read it in one day. That says something all by itself. I'm a reader who loves books that have great characters and this one does. You don't often read about a barber who sings opera - just as one example. All the "people" that inhabited the pages of this book became three dimensional and I found them funny and my heart broke for them as well. It was very well written.


    I can't imagine being so driven to find a husband that you would post a sign and advertise for one. People have always done (and still do) crazy things in order to find and keep a man/woman. Have you heard of any? Please share them.

    In the meantime, I wouldn't hesitate to suggest you add this to your pile of books to read. I'm sure you'll love it.

    Saturday, November 20, 2010

    Out Live Your Life

    Title: Out Live Your Life
    Author: Max Lucado

    Book Description:

    These are difficult days in our world's history. 1.75 billion people are desperately poor, natural disasters are gouging entire nations, and economic uncertainty still reigns across the globe. But you and I have been given an opportunity to make a big difference. What if we did? What if we rocked the world with hope? Infiltrated all corners with God's love and life? We are created by a great God to do great works. He invites us to outlive our lives, not just in heaven, but here on earth. Let's live our lives in such a way that the world will be glad we did.

    My Take:

    Most of the books I review are fiction. I do read non-fiction though. One of my favorite writers of Christian non-fiction is Max Lucado because he manages to inspire and challenge without using ten dollar words and resorting to theological terms that most people can't relate to. His stories cut straight to the heart and stick with you long after you close the cover. This book is no exception. In fact, I think it's the best book of his that I've read.

    The whole idea is that just like the humble motley crew of fisherman, tax collectors and the like from the early church - we can make a difference today. Too many people believe that they are just one person and can't do anything. Yet there are many examples when one person made a huge impact. We need to remember that God can and wants to use us to impact the world around us in big and small ways.

    A lot of it is also about legacy. What do we want to leave behind? What we give and do for God can impact generations and last much longer than just our lifetime. What an exciting and challenging concept. I also think it's something that our world desperately needs right now. Many more people don't understand who God is at all. They need to know the truth about what the Bible says and they need people who will live out that truth for them - showing them they don't need to be perfect.

    I can't say enough good things about this book. It was a great read and had wonderful ideas. Please consider reading it and passing it along to friends and family. My copy was provided by Thomas Nelson for review. I thank them for it, though it did not influence my review.

    Monday, October 25, 2010

    Winner!


    I just love doing giveaways and the latest winner is..... {insert drum roll sound.....}


    Merry!!!!

    I already sent Merry an email letting her know she won. I'm sure she'll really love this book. Please feel free to add your congratulations as well. I look forward to the next giveaway and I hope I'll find something you'll be interested in then as well.

    Thursday, October 21, 2010

    Tandem


    Title: Tandem
    Author: Tracey Bateman

    Goodreads Blurb:

    Six months ago, brutal murders shook the small Ozark town—murders that stopped after a house fire reportedly claimed the killer’s life. Lauryn McBride's family auction house has taken responsibility for the estate sale of one of the victims—the enigmatic Markus Chisom. Submerging herself in Chisom’s beautiful but strange world, Lauryn welcomes the reprieve from watching Alzheimer’s steal her father from her, piece by piece. She soon realizes that centuries-old secrets tie Abbey Hills to the Chisom estate and a mysterious evil will do anything to make sure those secrets stay hidden. Even the man who grew up loving her may not be able to protect Lauryn from the danger.

    When Amede Dastillon receives an unexpected package from Abbey Hills, she hopes it might be the key in tracking down her beloved sister, long estranged from her family. Visiting Abbey Hills seems the logical next step in her search, but Amede is unusually affected by the town, and when mutilated carcasses begin turning up again in the small community, the local law enforcement isn’t sure if they are confronting a familiar evil or a new terror.

    Two women brought together by questions that seem to have no answers.  Can they overcome the loss and darkness threatening to devour them—or will their own demons condemn them to an emotional wasteland?


    My Take:

    I didn't get to read Thirsty, the book that precedes this one, but I was really excited when I found out that I had won this book through Goodreads. Thank you to the people at Goodeads and the publishers for my copy. 

    This novel is really unlike anything I'd read before. Instead of looking to traditional ideas on vampire, romance, crime, mystery, or even Christian novels, the author has made her own path. When you read this book you have to let go of what you may expect and just read it for what it is.

    What I discovered was a fast-moving plot with surprises that kept me on my toes. I thought I had some things figured out, but I was wrong. She did an exceptional job crafting the storyline. It keeps you interested from beginning to end.

    The characters are very real. You can relate to what they're feeling and going through. You want things to work out for them. You want them to reconcile. I read some reviews of the first book that criticized it for not being "Christian" enough. I think sometimes we can get the message across even more effectively without coming on so strong. Without giving away too much, characters in this story seek reconciliation and redemption. There are serious conversations about whether there is any hope for them, whether God cares about them, about their hardships... That's real life. I think those are the kind of faith struggles and the kind redemptive messages people can relate to.

    I thought this was a fantastic book. If you like mystery, suspense, or vampires - this one may be one to add to your list. 

     

    Wednesday, October 13, 2010

    Miracles in Chile

    Maybe you've been glued to the footage of the rescue of the miners in Chile like I have - maybe not. In any case, I was struck by so many things by this story. When I review books I learn to analyze them for the motivation of characters, the plot, and other factors. I tend to do it automatically now.

    When I look at this situation I was amazed at the way 33 men survived those 17 days with that tiny amount of tuna fish and milk physically - but maybe even more importantly - how did they manage to hold out hope that anyone would even believe they were alive after that long when they had no way to contact anyone? How did they stop from fighting one another and band together for survival? How did they manage to escape serious physical harm in the cave in itself? One of them is diabetic; how did he manage so long without insulin and an obviously bad diet? I think these are all miracles.

    Then there is the rescue itself. They expected to reach them at Christmas. Instead they are being rescued in the middle of October. Isn't that a miracle? There are a host of people who have come to the aid of Chile in this attempt and the Chilean government has been very gracious to the media in the coverage of the rescue. That isn't always the case - especially since there are already legal issues regarding the incident. So the spirit of cooperation and goodwill could be seen as a miracle as well. If not, at least it shows what can be accomplished when we all work together instead of bickering.

    I hear about the organization the miners set up while they were underground and how they kept themselves healthy, busy, clean and feeling part of a community. They sent up letters that were shared and each one I've heard talks about how they believe God has used this to make them better and they want to change and spend more time with family or how they are thankful to God for taking care of them and their family and fellow miners. These are not bitter or resentful men. When I watched the first two men emerge I saw strong, healthy, joyful men. They loved their country, their rescuers and their family. They wanted to share that joy. I think that's a miracle as well. It easily could have made them angry, sick, crazy, weak, or a great many other things.

    There is no doubt that this started off as a tragedy. These men have gone through a terrible experience. However I think God has used it for good in many ways. It has shown them and us many miracles and some lessons we can learn from their experience. May God bless these men, continue to heal and watch over them and their families, and help me to be as strong as they have been.

    Thursday, October 7, 2010

    The Healer's Apprentice


    Title: The Healer's Apprentice
    Author: Melanie Dickerson

    Goodreads Blurb:

    Two Hearts. One Hope.Rose has been appointed as a healer's apprentice at Hagenheim Castle, a rare opportunity for a woodcutter's daughter like her. While she often feels uneasy at the sight of blood, Rose is determined to prove herself capable. Failure will mean returning home to marry the aging bachelor her mother has chosen for her---a bloated, disgusting merchant who makes Rose feel ill.When Lord Hamlin, the future duke, is injured, it is Rose who must tend to him. As she works to heal his wound, she begins to understand emotions she's never felt before and wonders if he feels the same. But falling in love is forbidden, as Lord Hamlin is betrothed to a mysterious young woman in hiding. As Rose's life spins toward confusion, she must take the first steps on a journey to discover her own destiny.

    My Take:

    I have been so surprised by the talent in young adult novels I've read recently and this one is my favorite so far. It may even make my favorite books of the year list. I kept checking the back of the book and - yep - there is the label "teen fiction." The one drawback to young adult books (in my opinion) is actually common to most shorter novels. I find that a lot of times they have great stories and show incredible creativity, but often you don't always get as in depth characterization as you do with longer novels. That isn't true with this book. It feels longer than it is, the writing is rich and I felt like I was living the story right with Rose. 


    Your heart beat faster when the young men flirted with her, you could smell the herbs, the food, hear the music... I wanted to reach out and carefully pet Wolfie, her dog and guardian. The author made the whole world come alive. Whether Rose was working with her mentor trying to help the sick or confiding secrets to her best friend Hildy, everything felt real. The characters mattered to me and I found myself wanting to talk about them not just while I was reading, but long after I finished and shut the back cover.

    Speaking of covers, isn't this one fantastic? I think it's beautiful. The back is nearly as interesting with a gorgeous carved cabinet. I can't leave without mentioning that this story was filled with romance. It was enough to make my heart go pitter patter without being anything you couldn't hand a teenager. 


    I purchased this book myself and I can already tell you it's one I'll be keeping and re-reading. I hope you'll consider it for your bookshelves.

    Wednesday, October 6, 2010

    Code Triage

    Title: Code Triage
    Author: Candace Calvert

    Goodreads Blurb:

    Dr. Leigh Stathos likes her ER shifts fast, furious, and adrenaline-infused—“Treat ’em and street ’em”—with no emotional complications. Life’s taught her a soul-rending lesson: nothing lasts forever, including marriage. And the clock is ticking toward the end of hers. Then an unwelcome confrontation with “the other woman” begins a whole new set of lessons.
    San Francisco police officer Nick Stathos never gives up, whether protecting his patrol neighborhood, holding fast to faith—or trying to save his marriage. Seven days is all he has to reach Leigh’s heart. But when a desperate act of violence slams Golden Gate Mercy Hospital into lockdown, it starts a chain of events that will change lives forever.


    My Take:

    I've heard such awesome things about this series that I was thrilled when Tyndale sent me this book to review.

    This is a very realistically written hospital drama (some scenes had me on the edge of my chair wondering what would happen next while another section detailed a patient's allergy problems).  It had these great characters that I truly was pulling for, realistic problems and struggles that they had been facing up to this point and even into their seven days and even some mystery.

    I think I liked Nick best. Before you ask, no it didn't have a thing to do with the fact that he's a great cook, brave, good with kids, and have you looked at that cover? :op  lol 

    If I was nit-picking, I would have to say I thought the time line wasn't realistic. A lot is packed into seven short days and without giving away the ending, that's about all I can say on that subject. The writing was first rate and even the secondary characters were outstanding.


    This was a great book for people who love hospital dramas especially. If you would like to have this book for your very own, then please leave a comment with your email. In the same comment note if you are a follower for another chance, and if you posted about the giveaway on your blog for another chance. The drawing will end on the 22nd of Oct at midnight Central time. It is only open to those living in the US - sorry - and is void where prohibited. Good luck!

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010

    Awards






    Hannah from Project Journal gave me this award. The rules for accepting the award are:

    1) Put the logo within my blog or on my post

    2) Pass the award onto 12 fellow bloggers

    3) Link the nominees within my post

    4) Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog

    5) Share the love and link to the person whom you received this award from.

    So I have given out this award before, and I know they probably have it already but so do I and it never hurts to remind someone that they bring sunshine into your life.

      1. Renee @ Black n' Gold Girl's Book Spot

      2. Deborah @ Butterfly Journey

      3. Lori @ Some of my Favorite Books

      4. Susan @ Journeys of Love.... Inspired by Faith

      5. Carrie @ In the Hammock

      6. Angie @ Never a Dull Moment

      7. Dineen @ Kitten Come From Eggs

      8. Ashley @ After All, Tomorrow is Another Day

      9. Katy @ A Few More Pages

    10. Julane @ Inspiration From the Commonplace

    11. Andrea @ Arise 2 Write

    12. MaryLu @ The Cross and Cutlass

    Lori @ Some of my Favorite Books gave me this award:


    It is one of the cutest awards I've ever received. Everyone I've met on here has been so supportive and has really been kind through this move and the hard times my family has been through. Know that you are all special to me. In this case, I'd like to pass it on to:




      1. Renee @ Black n' Gold Girl's Book Spot



      2. Deborah @ Butterfly Journey


      3. Susan @ Journeys of Love.... Inspired by Faith


      4. Carrie @ In the Hammock


      5. Angie @ Never a Dull Moment


      6. Dineen @ Kitten Come From Eggs


      7. Ashley @ After All, Tomorrow is Another Day


      8. Katy @ A Few More Pages


      9. Julane @ Inspiration From the Commonplace


    10. Andrea @ Arise 2 Write

    11. Hannah @ Project Journal


    Thank you all and have a great day!

    Thursday, September 30, 2010

    Head in the Clouds


    Title: Head in the Clouds
    Author: Karen Witemeyer

    Goodreads Blurb:

    Instead of returning home after a humiliating breakup, Adelaide Proctor becomes the governess at a ranch where Gideon Westcott's promise to a dying woman obliges him to raise 5-year-old Isabella. But when the girl's evil uncle comes to claim her---and her inheritance---can Gideon and Adelaide put their growing attraction aside to protect her? 352 pages, softcover from Bethany.

    My Take:

    I was a huge fan of Karen's last book and couldn't pass up the chance when she asked for reviewers for this one. So I thank her and Bethany Books ahead of time for the opportunity to read the book. It didn't influence my review. I would have loved it just as much if I'd bought it. :o)


    Adelaide Proctor was a really interesting heroine. She was shy, insecure in some ways but she also had a spine of steel - especially when it came down to someone she loved being in trouble. Watching her evolve into a woman who balances her strengths and is willing to trust God and others for the rest - well it was brilliant. She really was amazing and I grew to admire and love her.

    Gideon. What can I say about Gideon? I have this... weakness for the British accent. Add in someone who isn't afraid to get dirty, treats his workers like family and yet still dresses up like English royalty having high tea every now and then. Who knocks your socks off with impeccable manners, charm and dimples no less? I was totally in love with him. 

    These two had to face adversity of all kinds and overcome their distrust of each other. It's a book packed with great romance and action. I think it's a real winner and one I wouldn't hesitate to suggest to any of my friends.  

    Sunday, September 26, 2010

    Return The Heart


    Title: Return the Heart
    Author: T.K. Richardson

    Goodreads blurb:

    What if your gift was a curse?

    To a casual passerby, Lilly Paige is anything but special. As a seventeen year old, she is faced with all the complications of a teenager, but deep down there is much more. Lilly has a gift, though sometimes it seems to be a curse.

    Lilly can peer into the hearts of others - their deepest, darkest secrets are there for Lilly to see - but to what end? Raised by aloof parents, Lilly has been independent her whole life, but soon she will need to rely on her friends to evade an evil that has sold her gift to the highest bidder on the black market. Lilly and her four closest friends are immersed in a dangerous game of cat and mouse, that will not only reveal more about Lilly's gift, but also her link to an old Russian prophecy.

    Can Lilly and her friends escape the danger that is so close they can practically feel it? Where will their perilous journey lead them - to darkness or light? 


    My Take:

    I have been blown away by the number of really fascinating young adult novels coming out in the last few years. Whatever the cause, I have a number of young adult books on my "TBR" pile and most of them are books my teenage son wouldn't wouldn't look twice at. :o) I can't even use the excuse that I'm pre-reading anymore, I'm picking them because they interest me.


    This book is targeted for young adults as well, but it had plenty to keep my interest. All of the characters are nearing the end of high school and gifted in more ways than one. Lilly is the central character, but the whole group has a lot of personality and depth. All of them feel at once like teenagers and more mature. They've had to go through a lot in the book and before it so it makes sense. 


    There is a lot to this book. It has interesting glimpses into all kinds of different people and their motives. It challenges stereotypes and you get to see Lilly move from being an individual who is very isolated and doesn't trust pretty much anyone - to being part of a team, more of an extended family, that she depends on for her life. 


    It has mystery, action, romance, folklore... something for everyone. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I want to thank the author and Goodreads for providing the book (I won it in a drawing).

    Wednesday, September 22, 2010

    A Hope Undaunted

    Title: A Hope Undaunted

    Author: Julie Lessman

    Goodreads Blurb:

    The 1920s are drawing to a close, and feisty Katie O'Connor is the epitome of the new woman--smart and sassy with goals for her future that include the perfect husband and a challenging career in law. Her boyfriend Jake fits all of her criteria for a husband--good-looking, well-connected, wealthy, and head-over-heels in love with her. But when she is forced to spend the summer of 1929 with Luke McGee, the bane of her childhood existence, Katie comes face to face with a choice. Will she follow her well-laid plans to marry Jake? Or will she fall for the man she swore to despise forever? A Hope Undaunted is the engrossing first book in the WINDS OF CHANGE series from popular author Julie Lessman. Readers will thrill at the highly charged romance in this passionate story. 

    My take:

    Katie has a lot of admirable qualities. She might even be described as a woman slightly ahead of her time. Many woman of her era are embracing new ideas about what it means to be feminine and what kind of role they should play in society. One of the big differences in Katie's life is that she has grown up in a family that treasures faith and values morality.

    Still, she chafes at the restrictions placed on her and believes she should be in control of her destiny. She doesn't need or want a man to do that. In fact, she has a master plan to get everything she wants. That plan includes a husband, but it's one on her terms - one she knows won't be controlling her every move the way she views her father doing.


    Someone once told me that if you want to hear God laugh then show Him your plans. :o) It's a joke, but not only are our plans simple in comparison to His, but often they aren't really in our best interest. Katie has a lot to learn, but she has to decide whether or not she's willing to surrender control over to God. It's a question we all have to face.


    She's a fabulous character. Julie always delivers with people you care about and can connect with. She also keeps you riveted to the page with a romance that is breathless and totally real. There were moments when I wasn't sure which choice Katie was going to make. Julie's writing is top-notch. I can't wait to read the next book and all her books are on my "re-read" list. If you haven't read this yet, you have to add it to your pile.

    Friday, September 10, 2010

    Seasons in the Mist



    Title: Seasons in the Mist
    Author: Deborah Kinnard


    Goodreads Blurb:

    Stranded in 1353 Cornwall, American graduate student Bethany Lindstrom knows she must find a way back to her own time or face a life of falsehoods and peril. But with the stern overlord Sir Michael Veryan, she is swept into the intrigues of King Edward's court, which will test their mettle and their faith in God to the limits-and forever bind their lives together. 

    My Take:

    I have been buried in cardboard boxes and have hardly come up for air. When I started reading this book, I didn't stop until nearly 300 pages were done (and that was an emergency). I promptly returned and finished the rest. Some would say I inhaled it. lol This has all the elements you want in a good romance. 


    The main character is wonderful. She has a spunk and a vulnerability at the same time. Her strength helps those around her and keep her sane and alive in a very alien environment. Let's face it, no amount of study could prepare you for finding yourself in a drastically different time and unfamiliar territory. She doesn't have a friend in sight and the only thing she can cling to is a faith she had abandoned. 

    Her hero is also a great blend.  He's strong and yet been hurt so he's not very trusting. Unfortunately, trust is what Bethany needs the most. The closer they get, the more tension you feel between his desire to trust her and his very real reasons not to. Would you believe her? Yet not trusting her could cost her life - and maybe even more than that.

    Add in a rich background of characters, setting, mystery, faith... and you have a story that kept me flipping pages well into the night. I hope you'll consider adding it to your pile of books to read. Oh - and isn't the cover awesome? I think it strikes just the right chord of her walking from the present and into the past. I can't wait to read more from this author.    

    Friday, September 3, 2010

    The Butterfly Effect


    Title: The Butterfly Effect
    Author: Andy Andrews

    Blurb from Goodreads:


    The decisions you make and the way you treat others have more impact than you may ever realize.
    Speaker and New York Times best-selling author Andy Andrews shares a compelling and powerful story about a decision one man made over a hundred years ago, and the ripple effect it's had on us individually, and nationwide, today. It's a story that will inspire courage and wisdom in the decisions we make, as well as affect the way we treat others through our lifetime. Andrews speaks over 100 times a year, and The Butterfly Effect is his #1 most requested story. 
    Also included with the purchase of the book is a link to view a 9-minute message of Andrews telling The Butterfly Effect story to a live audience.

    My take:

    How could I not review this book? lol This is a very short book that will take only minutes to read, but will stay in your heart and mind for a while. The concept is simple and familiar, but it is one we too often ignore. We don't live in a bubble. Our actions spread out like ripples on a pond - touching people across great distances and time. Knowing that should give us a greater sense of purpose and inspire us to make our choices more carefully. The little stories amaze and inspire. This makes a great gift as well. I want to thank Thomas Nelson for providing my electronic review copy. 

    Monday, August 30, 2010

    Never Without Hope


    Title: Never Without Hope
    Author: Michelle Sutton

    Blurb from Goodreads:
    Hope believes she is above sexual temptation; that she would never break that commandment like her husband's previous wives had done. After all, she is a good Christian and a loving mother. She has no reason to stray . . . until her husband starts neglecting her needs and things begin to look hopeless. Though she clearly communicates her pain to her husband, he refuses to get help. She starts to wonder…Will she never have sex with her husband again? She soon learns that she, too, is capable of such betrayal when she succumbs to the unthinkable.But things that first seemed sweet and reasonable given her painful situation soon produce a bitter taste when combined with the overwhelming guilt. No substitute will ever replace her love and desire for her husband. If only he would touch her like he used to. If only they could make love again. She misses him so much and wants to tell him the truth hoping it will propel him to do something to fix their problem, but she fears his rejection. Yet, she can't continue living such a hypocritical life. She knows it's wrong even though she continues to crave physical intimacy. Steeped in the quagmire of adultery, Hope must find her way back to solid ground to save her marriage. But will she lose everyone she loves in the process?

    My Take:

    This is one of those books that some people in "religious" circles will either love or hate. That's one of the things I admire so much about the author. She isn't afraid to tackle the issues that would make most author's cower in a corner sweating. I want to tell you now that this doesn't pull any punches. Hope's feelings - whether they were passion, despair, anger, love or joy - they are all covered fully and without reserve. This is not a secular novel, though. This is not erotica. It doesn't glorify bad choices or wrap it all up neatly like in a "Leave It To Beaver" episode, everyone smiling and no problems while they nibble on a plate of cookies.


    What the book does is present a realistic view of what really happens and how families honestly feel and deal with situations like these. That includes the pleasant draw of sin, the difficulty in getting out of it and how very much we all need God's grace and mercy. It also deals with how those consequences can be far reaching. This book was such a breath of fresh air for providing hope, and really offering something that can be shared with those who want to know that Christians aren't perfect either - and if they aren't they can still be accepted, forgiven and loved by God right now. Some people are so afraid of judgment by others in the church that they never share their struggles. I don't think that is what God wanted the church to be like. No we don't encourage the sin, but nobody is perfect but Jesus. We all have our struggles. This was an awesome read. I hope you'll not only read it yourself, but pass it along. 

    Wednesday, August 25, 2010

    The Tender Vine

    Title: The Tender Vine
    Author: Kristen Heitzmann
    ISBN: 978-0-7642-0715-0

    Blurb from Goodreads:

    Book 3 of Diamond of the Rockies historical fiction series. The ache of her recent loss is a constant companion, and Carina longs to return to her family and her former home. With Quillan at her side, they make the journey to the California vineyards and to the closely-knit Italian American family Carina left when she moved to Crystal, Colorado. But Carina's parents are ignortant of their daughters marriage, and Quillan is far different from the husband they had in mind. With Quillan uncomfortable, her parents unhappy, and her former beau determined to have her back, where can she turn for help?

    My Take:

    I love a good series. It gives you time to really get to know characters. This one is different from many that I've read in that you follow the same main characters through all three books. Quillan and Carina give you plenty to fill those pages. There is mystery, romance, danger, explosions... Both of them learn so many things about themselves, one another, other people, and God. 

    Carina is a firecracker. She is small but sets the entire town upside down. She is determined to make changes and doesn't always look two steps ahead to see the consequences of her actions. I enjoyed the descriptions of her making food and how Quillan loved to watch her - becoming envious of anyone else she cooked for. 


    Quillan is a man who has been rejected and hurt so many times that he's built a barricade around himself that is nearly impossible to break through. A good man, he still looks out for his own interests - with a few exceptions. Carina is one of them. The more time he spends around her, the more he's seeing a need to change. Some things are so hard to let go of though - especially when he's rejected again.


    I enjoyed all three books, but this one was really a wonderful ending for the series. Quillan and Carina have to face their toughest obstacles yet. This is an older book - but the message of what to look to in times of adversity is one that can speak to us right now. I think this book (and this whole series) is really wonderful. I hope you'll consider it if you haven't already read it.

    Blessings!

    Tuesday, August 24, 2010

    Gina Holmes Crossing Oceans

    Title: Crossing Oceans
    Author: Gina Holmes
    ISBN: 978-1-4143-3305-2

    Blurb from Goodreads:

    Jenny Lucas swore she’d never go home again. But being told you’re dying has a way of changing things. Years after she left, she and her five-year-old daughter, Isabella, must return to her sleepy North Carolina town to face the ghosts she left behind. They welcome her in the form of her oxygen tank–toting grandmother, her stoic and distant father, and David, Isabella’s dad . . . who doesn’t yet know he has a daughter. As Jenny navigates the rough and unknown waters of her new reality, the unforgettable story that unfolds is a testament to the power of love and its ability to change everything—to heal old hurts, bring new beginnings . . . even overcome the impossible. A stunning debut about love and loss from a talented new voice.

    My Take:


    They say your goal as a writer is to have the reader not be able to put the book down - to be so caught up in the lives of your characters that they just can't wait to see what is going to happen on the next page. I normally read "happily ever after" books so I heard great things, but I wondered how absorbed I would get in this book. I couldn't have been more wrong. It certainly didn't read like a debut book either.


    This book captured my heart. I laughed and cried with Jenny. Somewhere along the way, her desires and dreams became important enough to me that I finished this book in two days! I admired her strength and the love she had for her daughter. This was a powerful book that inspired, challenged and spoke to my heart. It's the kind of book you want to talk to your friends and family about. 


    This may be Gina's first published book, but you can tell she has put a lot of time and work into her writing. I also have no doubt there will be many more books in her future. I can't wait to read them. I found the book trailer and added it. I hope you all will consider the book - and come back and let me know what you think. I want to thank Dineen Miller @ Kitten Come From Eggs for the chance to read and review this book. She hosted a contest that I won. Thanks so much Dineen!


    By the way, I did pass my physical therapy evaluation and they are asking for more sessions. Now we just have to pray the doctor and insurance company agree. :o)


    Blessings!

    Thursday, August 19, 2010

    Praise and Prayer

    Many of you know I've been moving. We had A LOT of stuff, the move was pushed up faster than we expected, my husband was gone for nearly a month before we left, I hurt my left arm right after he left to go to training and then the movers used some rather interesting techniques. All that added up to total disorganization and us way behind.

    Just a couple examples: I opened a box labeled "papper" which contained pots, pans and some kitchen knives ~ loose except for one layer of packing paper. I (so lucky lately) grabbed them by the blades. I managed to get only a couple small cuts but I wasn't very happy. They packed loose saw blades in with foam and inflatable swimming gear from the garage - using no wrapping paper at all. We were under pressure to finish the move more quickly, but this kind of thing was just not very professional. They put my purses in with my son's lego kits... The filter for the fish tank was in three different boxes, and the box containing all the other aquarium supplies had a magazine rack, my beading tool kit and some games. Why couldn't they have left that stuff out and put the whole filter in one box with the rest of the supplies? Does that only make sense to me? It's making it really hard to find and unpack as so many boxes are mislabeled and the contents are mismatched.

    You add in my injured arm and all the other things we need to do with a move to a new state with address changes, new licenses, new doctors, new vets, voter registration, getting ready for school, finding a new church...

    I'm in Physical Therapy for my arm right now. The good news is that my pain has gone down so much! I still can't use it as much as I'd like, and certain positions/directions don't seem to work at all. That may mean that I just haven't worked them as much as I need to - or it may mean that the tear is worse there and not able to be fixed with therapy and working out. That will mean I will still have to have surgery. I'm praying to avoid that. Also - we still have not sold our old house and now have double payments. If you think of us please pray that we sell our house. We were told our house would sell quickly and it hasn't happened. Also pray that I can avoid surgery - which would be another large expense and recovery time.

    I have my in-laws wanting to visit too. So a lot is happening. I hope to be more regular now though. It is just with everything going on I haven't had as much time for either the computer or reading. Thanks to all of you for hanging with me.

    Monday, August 16, 2010

    Surrender the Heart

    Title: Surrender the Heart
    Author: MaryLu Tyndall
    ISBN: 978-1-60260-165-9

    Blurb from Goodreads:

    On the brink of the War of 1812, Marianne Denton must marry to unlock her inheritance. Without the money, her mother can't receive medical care and her sister will be destitute. But Noah Brenin needs to sail his cargo to England before the war commences in order to prove his worth to his father and make enough money so he won't have to marry at all.

    Defying his father's wishes, Noah loathes the idea of marrying a woman he finds plain and pompous. Marianne wants nothing to do with the rogue who taunted her as a child, yet she must convince him otherwise or her mother will die.

    But when Noah walks out on their engagement party, Marianne chases him down and ends up on his merchantman out at sea. The situation worsens when Noah's ship encounters a British man-of-war and the couple are impressed into the British navy. While a young lad's prophecy of destiny looms over them both, Marianne and Noah are forced to face their darkest fears as they desperately try to find a way to escape and fulfill their destinies-destinies that could change the course of the war and history forever.

    My Take:

    There are some authors that you return to over and over again because they consistently deliver stories that capture your imagination and their characters win over your heart and continue to live in your thoughts long after you close the back cover. There are some books that you look forward to as soon as you hear about them. The more details you get, the more you can't wait for the book to be released. This was one of those books for me. It didn't let me down either. :o)

    From the very first sentence: "I would rather boil in oil than marry Noah Brenin." I was totally hooked. These characters went through a lot and I literally skipped meals in order to find out what was going to happen next. One of the things this author does the best is marry action into her stories. I feel like I'm reading what could be the next big movie. The other thing she did so well is make her characters real people. These are not cleaned up, cardboard, perfect cut-outs. They rebel, get angry, don't do what they're supposed to do ... feel real feelings and act like real human beings.

    This is going on my list of best books of the year. I hope you'll consider reading it.