Monday, November 28, 2011

it's beginning to look a lot like christmas!

My roommate moved out today. I'm sad to see her go, but I'm excited to see where God takes her over the next year. She's going on tour with the World Orphans Choir, and you can follow her adventures here. I normally would have decorated my house the day after Thanksgiving, but I decided to wait until today so she wouldn't have to deal with all my stuff while she was trying to pack. Tonight, Blendy came over to help me decorate. I'm quite pleased with the results!
I got my grandma's tree—it's definitely a step up from my old one!
This is the Nativity we had growing up. Obviously, the pieces didn't all come from the same set, but I still love it.
I finally got a wreath for my door! I moved out of my parents' house more than six years ago, and I'm just now getting a wreath.
I wish you could see the "Joy" better—it's my favorite Christmas decoration. This is in my living room.
No, my ceiling's not on fire ...
Now that my decorating is complete, I think I'll wrap some presents while watching a Christmas movie!

"love on the line" by deeanne gist

Telephone switchboard operator Georgie Gail is outraged when the telephone company sends Luke Palmer to take over the business end of her job. What Georgie doesn't know is that Luke is really Texas Ranger Lucious Landrum, who is working undercover in an attempt to infiltrate infamous train robber Frank Comer's gang. And it's a good thing she doesn't know—because she thinks Landrum is a hard-nosed, arrogant man while Comer is a benevolent Robin Hood.

Luke doesn't know what to make of Georgie. She's passionate about birds but doesn't give the same consideration to people. She has more spunk than any woman he's ever met, yet she has a vulnerable side, as well. Luke always thought he'd never marry because of his job with the Rangers, but Georgie just may be the woman to change his mind.

My take: I'd never read a Deeanne Gist book before, and historicals usually aren't my thing, so I wasn't sure what to expect. I was quite pleasantly surprised. Love on the Line is witty, endearing, and entertaining. I love how independent Georgie is! I did catch on to a twist ahead of time, but that didn't diminish my enjoyment of the book—in fact, it made me want to keep reading to see if I was right! I read it in an afternoon, and when I was finished, I wished there was more to read.

I give Love on the Line 5 out of 5 stars. I loved it!

You can read an excerpt below:
Love on the Line About the author: Deeanne Gist—known to her family, friends, and fans as Dee—has rocketed up the bestseller lists and captured readers everywhere with her very original, very fun historical & contemporary romances. Add to this three RITA nominations, two consecutive Christy Awards, rave reviews, and a growing loyal fan base, and you've got one recipe for success. She has a very active online community on her website at IWantHerBook.com and at Facebook.com/DeesCircle.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free for review from Bethany House Publishers through their book reviewer program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Sunday, November 27, 2011

'tis the season for christmas movies

I love Christmas movies. I generally only watch them at Christmas, but once the season hits, they're pretty much the only movies I watch. (This year, I started early—a couple weeks before Thanksgiving.)

Cable TV is a Christmas movie lover's dream. Lifetime, Hallmark, and ABC Family all have Christmas movie marathons, and they all produce their own Christmas movies to boot. If you don't have cable, do you have to miss out on all the sappy, romantic goodness?

No. Thanks to this marvelous thing called the internet, cable-less movie lovers still have a wealth of Christmas films at their disposal. Many are available free through Hulu, ABC Family, Lifetime, and Hallmark. (Lifetime's list still says "Coming Soon," but they should be available in a few days.) Still more are available through Netflix.

Of course, these films range from the ridiculous to the sublime. But if you're looking for some good Christmas movies, check out the links above; I'm sure you'll find something you'll like! (Unfortunately, my favorite Christmas movie, A Holiday to Remember, isn't online right now, but if you do have cable, you can catch it on Lifetime in December!)

I've also reviewed several Christmas movies on my other blog recently. For those that I know you can watch online, I've included the links.

Do you love Christmas movies as much as I do? Which one is your favorite? Post it in the comments, and if we can watch it online, leave a link!

"longing" by karen kingsbury

If you got to this page while trying to learn who Bailey ultimately ends up with, I have the answer! Click here. If you're looking for a discussion of Longing, keep reading ...

After we texted back and forth about this book, my friend Kensy asked me if I was going to review it. I decided writing up my thoughts would be a good way to get some things off my chest. So, this will not be a traditional review; rather, it will be more of a response to the book. If you haven't yet read
Longing and plan to at some point, STOP READING NOW!!!

I picked up Longing with mixed emotions. Yes, I wanted to read it, but I was afraid of where it would go. I have followed Bailey Flanigan ever since she was first introduced in Reunion (the last book of the Redemption series), and for most of the books she's been in, I've wanted her to be with Cody Coleman. In Leaving, the first book of the Bailey Flanigan series, I changed my mind. I got sick of Cody's perpetual stupidity, and I decided that he didn't deserve her. Brandon Paul, the movie star pursuing Bailey, seemed absolutely perfect for her, and he obviously adored her. I was frustrated throughout most of the second book, Learning—because while I loved Bailey and Brandon together, I hated the thought of Cody moving on with Cheyenne, the fiancee of one of his Army buddies who was killed in Iraq. And, basically, I thought Cody was an idiot.

For about 1/2 of Longing, I remained firmly in the Bailey & Brandon camp. But then something changed—namely, the way Kingsbury chose to write the characters. Throughout the preceding books, Bailey and Cody were in love. Sometimes they were together, most of the time they weren't; through it all, though, they clearly loved each other. I was prepared for Bailey to realize that Cody had been her first love, but Brandon was her "forever" love. Instead, Bailey and Cody both came to the realization that they were more in love with the idea of the other than they were with the actual person. Excuse me??? That is most certainly not what was portrayed in the 16 books prior to this one. I felt cheated, and suddenly I wanted Bailey and Cody to prove Kingsbury wrong.

Also, while I never liked Cody and Cheyenne together, I felt it was too "easy" to kill her. (And I called it the second she had a headache in Learning. One thing I've appreciated about Kingsbury's books over the years is they're not as predictable as a lot of other inspirational fiction—but that move was completely predictable.)

Perhaps this has nothing to do with it, but in real life, Kingsbury's daughter Kelsey (Bailey on the covers and in the book trailers) is engaged to Kyle (Brandon on the covers and in the book trailers). I can't help but wonder if this is a case of art imitating life ... though I certainly hope not!

You may think it strange that I have such strong feelings about these characters, but that just goes to show how good of a writer Kingsbury is. I have followed this "world" since 2004, and I hate to think that these books may wrap up in a way I won't like. (Of course, just last month, I was afraid Kingsbury wouldn't do the very thing she's done, the thing I wanted. So it's totally plausible that I'll change my mind again and be incredibly happy with how this series turns out.)

As frustrated as I am with this series, I still anticipate Loving, which will be released next March. I only hope it ends in a way I'll like!

If you've read Longing, what are your thoughts? Are you Team Cody or Team Brandon? Are you frustrated with the back-and-forth?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

"remembering you" by tricia goyer

When morning show producer Ava Ellington agrees to accompany her grandfather on a reunion tour of WWII battlefields, she sees an opportunity to repair her relationship with her grandfather ... and a chance to further her career by recording the veterans' memories of the war for use on the morning show. What she doesn't plan on is seeing Dennis, her first love and the grandson of her grandfather's war buddy. As Ava reconnects with her grandfather, she also rediscovers a love she thought died long ago.

My take: I was completely taken in by the look back at World War II in Remembering You. Ava's grandfather's memories were captivating, and as Ava sought answers, so did I. I absolutely flew through this book, finishing it in just two sittings. I wanted to hear more from Ava's Grandpa Jack and his friend Grand-Paul. Their stories, which are based in fact, were at turns inspiring and heart breaking. I could have read much, much more about these two men.

The one thing I didn't buy about this book was the romance. It's odd, as I know Goyer can write a good romance, but Dennis and Ava just didn't do it for me. Maybe it's just that I found myself annoyed with Ava's character—she kept pushing Grandpa Jack for information, when it was clear he didn't want to give it, and she spent much of the book more focused on getting her stories than actually listening to her grandfather. However, the romance is not the focus of the book, and you can enjoy it even if you think there has to be someone better out there for Dennis!

I give Remembering You 4 out of 5 stars. Read an excerpt, watch a video and find out more here.

About the author: Tricia Goyer is the author of thirty books including Songbird Under a German Moon, The Swiss Courier, and the mommy memoir, Blue Like Play Dough. She won Historical Novel of the Year in 2005 and 2006 from ACFW, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer's Conference in 2003. Tricia's book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion in 2005. In addition to her novels, Tricia writes non-fiction books and magazine articles for publications like MomSense and Thriving Family. Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences, and has been a workshop presenter at the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International Conventions. On Tricia's weekly radio show, Living Inspired, she shares stories of inspiration and encouragement. She and her family make their home in Little Rock, Arkansas where they are part of the ministry of FamilyLife.

About the giveaway: Win a Kindle Touch for YOU and a Friend from Tricia Goyer!

Tricia Goyer is celebrating the release of her novel, Remembering You, with a KINDLE Touch Giveaway for you ... and for the friend of your choice. Then on 11/29 she'll be wrapping up the release of Remembering You with a Book Chat Party!

During the first half of the party Tricia will be chatting, sharing a sneak peek of her next book, and giving away a ton of great stuff. Then she'll head over to her website for a Live Chat! Readers will be able to chat with Tricia via video or text.

Don't miss your chance to win a Kindle Touch for yourself ... and to "remember" a friend this holiday with a Kindle Touch for them!

Read what the reviewers are saying here.


One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Brand New Kindle Touch and a Kindle Touch for a Friend (winner's choice!) 
  • A copy of Remembering You by Tricia Goyer for each
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends at noon on November 29th. Winner will be announced at Remembering You Facebook Party on 11/29. Tricia will be hosting an author chat (on Facebook and Live from her website) and giving away copies of her other WWII books and gift certificates to Starbucks and Amazon.com. So grab your copy of Remembering You and join Tricia on the evening of the 29th for an author chat, a trivia contest (How much do you know about WWII?) and lots of giveaways.
Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 29th!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Friday, November 25, 2011

what a difference a year (or 13) makes!

When I was at my parents' house yesterday, I came across a stack of my senior pictures. It. Was. Horrifying.

Because I'm getting brave in my old age, I'll post one here.


On the upside, I think I look younger at 30 than I did at 17 ... but is it any wonder this girl never had any dates?

As I marveled at the outward changes in the last 13 years, I started to think about the inward changes, as well. While some things can be attributed to "growing up," I think most of it is directly related to God's work in my life.
  • I used to worry about everything. Now, I rarely worry about anything.
  • I used to think only of myself. Now, while I'm still quite selfish, I've learned to love others.
  • I used to get angry easily (just ask my siblings). Now, it takes a lot to get me fired up.
  • I used to be extremely self-conscious. Now, I am confident in who I am and what I can do.
  • I used to think life wouldn't truly begin until marriage. Now, while I still hope and pray for a husband, I know I can live a full, happy life as a single woman.
By no means do I think I have "made it." I am more aware than ever of my failings and my need for Christ. But I am also aware of how much He has done in and through me. 
And I praise the Lord that I no longer look like I did at 17!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

just call me handy

I love assembling things. I'm not sure when I first realized this, but I do remember feeling so powerful and independent when I fixed the desk chair in my dorm room. (I wasn't assembling anything per se, but I was putting it back together.) My absolute favorite part of moving is assembling the new furniture. On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to put something together at work—my new desk chair!

Can you see how happy I am?
Putting the arms on. This was the easy part—getting the back on was a bit more difficult.
The finished product. This is so much nicer than my old chair, which was one of those $15 Walmart task chairs.
So if you ever need a bookshelf, chair, or other furniture assembled, just give me a call. I'd love to help you out!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

my life in television

A few weeks ago, I posted "My Life in Films," based on something I saw on author Kaye Dacus's blog. My friend Holly has since posted on her life in films and books. (I plan to do a book post at some point, too.) It occurred to me, though, that a "My Life in Television" post would be most appropriate for me, as, well, I really like me some TV!

Television Shows that Remind Me of Childhood
  • Square One TV: This was, without a doubt, my favorite show as a child. I watched it every day after school, and I still remember many of the featured songs (I hated "Nine, Nine, Nine," but it still comes to mind every time I'm working with multiples of 9, and "The Mathematics of Love," and "Ghost of a Chance" were favorites). I also feel compelled to say (at least in my head), "...is brought to you by erasers. Don't make a mistake without one," whenever anyone says, "Oops!" But Mathnet was my absolute favorite. (This is where I learned the Fibonacci Sequence--"1, 1, 2, 3, 5, Eureka!")
  • Zoobilee Zoo: I probably watched Zoobilee Zoo longer than I should have, age-wise. I don't remember much about it now, other than the theme song.
Television Shows that Defined My Teens
  • Lois & Clark: Dean Cain wasn't my first celebrity crush, but he's certainly the longest lasting. Would I pass out if I met him today? Probably. I'll never forget where I was when Lois & Clark got married (sort of ... he married a clone of Lois, but we didn't know it at the time)—on a school bus, in a blizzard, writing "Superman, save me!" on the iced-over window with my friend Angie. We were both dying to be at home watching the show with our families.
  • Full House: I watched this show pretty much from beginning to end. I always identified with DJ, though I was much closer in age to Stephanie. And now, once again, for your viewing pleasure, the song I always associate with Full House
  • Friends: The debut of Friends marked an important (and deceitful) time in my life—a time when my brother and I would go to our basement and watch TV shows we knew our parents wouldn't approve of. I was the instigator, of course, but Andrew was a willing participant. Eventually, Mom caught me watching Friends and banned it, and I did pretty well avoid Friends after that (at least until college). All of the other shows, though, we kept watching—but when I look back at the list now, which included Suddenly Susan, The Single Guy, and Veronica's Closet, I wonder ... why? 
  • Hang Time: Anyone remember T-NBC? By the time I started watching, the original Saved by the Bell had ended, and California Dreams was in its final seasons. But Hang Time, about a girl who joins the boys' basketball team, I watched from the beginning. It's funny—I can't remember much about the show now (except that Anthony Anderson was the adorable "Teddy")—but I loved it then.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: This was my first foray into science fiction. My dad always watched TNG on Saturday nights, and many nights, I opened my bedroom door just a crack so I could watch, too. Once I got older, I was actually allowed to stay up and watch with him. 
Television Shows that Defined My College Years
  • Gilmore Girls: I'll never understand why Rory broke up with Dean. I would have married Dean ... and I never would have had an affair with married Dean or dated Logan. Yeah, the show went downhill in it's latter years.
  • Alias: Gathering with the girls in the Westy 1 lobby to watch Alias ... one of my favorite memories of college!
  • Stargate: SG-1: My dad got me hooked on this one, too. This remains my favorite sci-fi show, and I have all 10 seasons on DVD.
Favorite Shows of My Twenties
  • Lost: I jumped on the Lost bandwagon the summer after the first season—this was back when the broadcast networks still ran reruns during the summer. I don't know if I've ever been more shocked by an episode of TV than when (GIANT SPOILER ALERT) Michael shot and killed both Ana Lucia and Libby and let Ben (then known as Henry Gale) escape.
  • The Office: In seasons two, three, and four, I was a completely loyal viewer of The Office. Somewhere along the line, though, I stopped caring, and I stopped watching. I still love those first seasons, but I have zero interest in what's happening now.
  • Monarch of the Glen: I discovered this show, produced by BBC Scotland, when I was looking for something to watch on Netflix streaming. It's so fun! It's sweet, gentle, and funny—perfect for a rainy day.
  • Prison Break: While I was watching Lost, my friends Justin and Adair were watching Prison Break. I remember arguing Lost's ridiculousness with them by claiming Prison Break was just as implausible. Then I actually watched the show. Implausible, yes ... and completely enthralling! Season One is one of the best seasons of television I've ever watched. Things do go downhill from there, though, and I never even made it through Season Four.
  • Psych: Shawn and Gus make the perfect comedy team. Psych is simply fun to watch—and the 80's and 90's references just make it that much better!
Current Shows I Can't Miss
  • Fringe: I've written about my love for Fringe before, so I won't rehash it here. The current season is a bit rocky, but I have faith in the producers.
  • Parks & Recreation: When Parks & Rec premiered, I didn't give it the time of day. I thought it was too similar to The Office. While it does employ the same mocumentary format as The Office, Rashida Jones has been a cast member on both shows, and the shows share some of the same producers and writers, Parks & Rec is so much more sincere, humorous, and endearing. While Michael Scott's antics were often cringe-worthy, I find myself always rooting for Leslie Knope. The supporting characters are wonderful, and adding Adam Scott and Rob Lowe to the cast at the end of the second season was genius. Also, there was a shout-out to the Mighty Ducks movies a couple weeks ago—can't go wrong with that!
  • Castle: I started watching because of Nathan Fillion. In the beginning, I called Castle a total ripoff of Bones. Well, now I enjoy Castle so much more than Bones, and Rick Castle is my favorite Fillion character. But Castle is about so much more than Fillion—the interplay between Detectives Ryan and Esposito, the Castle/Beckett romance, Alexis's heartbreak, and (last but not least) Lt. Commander Worf as Beckett's therapist—and those aspects all make Castle must-see TV for me. It's one of two shows I actually watch live.
Guilty Pleasure (Scripted)
  • Ringer: A nighttime soap if ever there was one, Ringer is ridiculous, melodramatic fun. Sarah Michelle Gellar plays twins Bridget and Siobhan. Bridget is a recovering drug addict who's on the run from both the FBI and a dangerous drug lord. Siobhan is married to Andrew but having an affair with her best friend's husband. When Siobhan disappears, Bridget sees a way to freedom by masquerading as Siobhan, since Siobhan conveniently never told anyone she had a twin sister. It's totally implausible and highly addictive. 
Guilty Pleasure (Reality)
  • The Bachelor/ette: I used to look down on those who watched The Bachelor or The Bachelorette. Then one night, I dropped by my parents' house while my sister was watching DeAnna Pappas's season ... and I was hooked. I think I've watched every season since. Also, I'd like to think my interest in The Bachelor helped along a love match ... Janae & Jordan, who will be getting married next month, watched nearly all of the Jake Pavelka season with Blendy and me at my apartment when they were first getting to know each other!
Favorite Show that Few Others Know About
  • Dollhouse: This was a short-lived Joss Whedon show on FOX. It was a bit uneven, but when at its best, it was completely mesmerizing. Alan Tudyk absolutely blew my mind—what a phenomenal actor!
Best Show I Discovered on DVD or Streaming
  • Firefly: Okay, I didn't technically discover this myself. My brother and sister-in-law brought me their DVDs to borrow because they were sure I would like it. And I did. This is the show that made me first appreciate Nathan Fillion.
Favorite New Show of the 2011-2012 Season
  • Once Upon a Time: They had me at "from the writers of LOST." I am absolutely loving this show, which takes place both in "Fairy Tale Land" and modern-day Maine. Go here to watch a preview.
There you have it: the shows that, for better or worse, have been important to me. What does your list look like? Do we share any favorite shows?

guest post: tricia goyer

Today, I have something special for you: a guest post from author Tricia Goyer. Later this week, I'll be reviewing Tricia's latest book, Remembering You, and here Tricia tells about one of the true stories that helped inspire this book.

Remembering You
by Tricia Goyer

In the last ten years since I started interviewing veterans for my WWII novels, most have passed away. Some of them—realizing their days on earth were coming to an end—returned to Europe one last time with their family members to walk along paths they've never forgotten. Those trips inspired my most recent novel, Remembering You.

One of the most amazing experiences was when I received an email from a woman named Hana. She'd heard of my book and knew I'd interviewed some of the veterans. She asked if I'd interviewed any medics. Then she told me an amazing story. Hana was born on a cart just outside of Mauthausen. Her mother had survived being a prisoner of another camp and was transported to Mauthausen at the end of the war.

Hana was just three weeks old when the Americans arrived, and she was very ill. Because of the filthy conditions she got a skin infection and sores covered her body. No one expected her to live. Yet one of the medics saw the small baby and knew he had to do something. Even though it took most of the day, he lanced and cleaned all Hana's sores, saving her life. Over the years she'd wanted to find the medic, but didn't know where to start.

I was amazed by Hana's story and told her I knew one medic—maybe he remembered who that man was. I gave Hana the contact information and I soon heard the good news. My friend LeRoy “Pete” Petersohn was the medic who'd saved her life! The two were soon reunited! After all these years Hana was able to look into the eyes of the man who saved her and thanked him. After all these years Pete was able to meet the woman he saved. “Baby!” he called out when he met her.
Hana and Pete
 Remembering You is a work of fiction, but the experiences of the men are true. The experiences of the main character, Ava, are also true-to-life. I was busy with life when God pointed me to an amazing story, and to even more amazing men. I'm so thankful I took time to listen and care. I'm so thankful I allowed these men to share what … and who … they remembered most.

About the author: Tricia Goyer is a homeschooling mom of four and an acclaimed and prolific writer, publishing hundreds of articles in national magazines. She has also written books on marriage and parenting and contributed notes to the Women of Faith Study Bible. Tricia's written numerous novels inspired by World War II veterans, including her new release Remembering You. Tricia lives with her husband and four children in Arkansas. You can find out more information about Tricia at www.triciagoyer.com.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

a quick trip

At the end of October, my sister Blendy, her friend Janelle, and I made a quick trip to Indiana to see Val. (Well, Janelle went to see her boyfriend, but she saw Val, too.) Once we got home, I hit the ground running with book reviews, homework assignments, and Singing Christmas Tree practices, so I'm just getting around to blogging about it. And since I'm feeling kind of lazy, I'm not even going to write any more—I'll just direct you to my facebook album! So go here to see what we did ...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

"lonestar angel" by colleen coble

Eden Larson is about to get engaged when her ex, Clay, shows up with some surprising news—they are still married, and their daughter is alive. Clay knows that their Brianna, who was kidnapped as an infant, is one of the girls staying at Bluebird Ranch in Texas, but he doesn't know which one. In order to learn the identity of their daughter, Clay and Eden go undercover as counselors at the Ranch. But the person behind Brianna’s kidnapping is watching … and  is determined to keep the Larsons from their happy ending.

Lonestar Angel is book four in Colleen Coble’s Lonestar series. While I loved the first three books, I didn’t enjoy this one as much. I had the villain pegged from the character’s first appearance, and while I didn’t figure out the character’s motivations or put together the connection to Eden and Clay, the suspense was reduced considerably by the knowledge I did have. Also, the five little girls who could be Brianna weren’t fully developed characters, and now, one day after finishing the book, I can’t even remember which one turned out to be Brianna.

Though I wasn’t fully satisfied with Lonestar Angel, it was still an entertaining read, and I’d recommend it to those who have read the other Lonestar books. I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Monday, November 14, 2011

sometimes, it's better to pay

A few months ago, we were in Kansas cleaning out my grandma's house. While working in the bathroom, I tweeted the following:


Becky Ritta
Cleaning out grandma's house. Just found some Milk of Magnesia that expired in 1988!

That should have been warning enough to ignore the "treasure" I found in that bathroom—a hot water bottle. But, being my father's daughter, I decided to take the bottle home with me, thus saving the $7 or so I'd pay for one at Walmart.

Flash forward to tonight. I wasn't feeling great, so I decided to dig out the hot water bottle. I filled it, checked it all over for leaks, wrapped it in a towel, and took it to bed with me. Then I found the latest episode of Ringer to watch. (Ringer is my "guilty pleasure" TV of the season. The plot line really is ludicrous, but I enjoy it—just ask Blendy ... I gave her a 20-minute recap of the season while we drove home from Grand Island today!)

So there I was, all settled into my bed, watching Ringer on my computer and trying to get my mind off my stomachache, when suddenly I was wet. Soaking. The hot water bottle had popped like a balloon. For a second, I just lay there while the hot (HOT!) water ran over my stomach and to my backside. Then I leapt to my feet, holding the hot water bottle, trying to contain the remaining water. I was largely unsuccessful.

Water went everywhere. My bed, a memory foam mattress, got soaked. I looked like I'd wet my pants. Somehow, water even got in one of my shoes, which was several feet away from both the bed and the door. Maybe I sloshed the water around when I jumped out of bed?

Somehow, all the electronics escaped unscathed. (Thank goodness!) And I just made the following purchase on Amazon:

www.amazon.com
Large, 2-quart capacity. ribbed surface helps retain warm or cold temperatures. made from durable, natural rubber latex.

Lesson learned.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

"a lasting impression" by tamera alexander

Claire Laurent wants nothing more than to become a famous painter, but she spends her days painting forgeries for her father to sell in his New Orleans art gallery. When her father is killed during a robbery, she flees to Nashville. Homeless and penniless, she spends the night in a church, where she learns of a job opportunity and meets attorney Sutton Monroe. As Claire and Sutton become acquainted, she realizes he is the type of man she could trust her heart to ... but when her past comes calling, will he be able to forgive her?

My take: I've long been fascinated by the Civil War period, and I enjoyed this look at Nashville in the time just following the war. I don't often think about what life was like after the war—and Alexander does a great job of showing the effect the war had on people both rich and poor.

As for the story, I enjoyed it, but I wasn't captivated. Claire, Sutton, and Adelicia (the owner of Belmont Mansion, where Claire works) are all intriguing characters, and the romance between Claire and Sutton is believable. Throw in a woman scorned and an unexpected plot twist, and you should have a winner. So what's the problem? I'm not sure—I just didn't connect with it emotionally.

I've seen what other bloggers are saying, and I seem to be an anomaly. So if you like historical fiction, consider checking this book out. I give A Lasting Impression 3-1/2 out of 5 stars.

(Side note: Isn't the cover gorgeous? That dress! And I think the model looks just like Natascha McElhone from The Truman Show.)

About the author: Tamera Alexander is a best-selling novelist whose deeply drawn characters, thought-provoking plots, and poignant prose resonate with readers. Having lived in Colorado for seventeen years, she and her husband now make their home in Nashville Tennessee, along with their two adult children who live near by. And don't forget Jack, their precious—and precocious—silky terrier. For more information please visit www.tameraalexander.com.

About the giveaway: Kindle Fire Giveaway and Facebook Party from Tamera Alexander! While Tamera and her book, A Lasting Impression, are traveling across the country virtually (with a few international stops as well!), she will be hosting a Kindle Fire Giveaway (11/4 - 11/15) and preparing for a lavish Southern-Style Facebook Party (11/15) (dripping with hospitality, of course). She will be giving away Southern Food Baskets, books, and an array of other fabulous freebies! Don't miss a minute of the fun. Swoon!

Read what the reviewers are saying here.


One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Brand New Kindle Fire (shipped as soon as it releases)
  • A copy of A Lasting Impression and 3 other special books Tamera wants you to have (for Kindle)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends at noon on November 15th. Winner will be announced at A Lasting Impression Facebook Party on the 15th. Tamera will be wrapping up the A Lasting Impression celebration with an author chat and giving away Southern Food Baskets (Loveless Cafe Food Baskets, books, Amazon and Starbucks gift certificates, and copies of Christy Jordan's Southern Plate cookbook), six gift certificates to Starbucks and Amazon.com, and copies of A Lasting Impression! So grab your copy of A Lasting Impression (it's okay if you don't have one yet- you might win one!) and join Tamera on the evening of November 15th for an author chat, a trivia contest (How much do you know about the 1860's?) and lots of Southern-inspired giveaways (complete listing here).

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER. Hope to see you on the 15th!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Friday, November 11, 2011

"growing up amish" by ira wagler

Ira Wagler was born into an Old Order Amish community. At the age of 17, he packed a bag and left his home in Iowa. Yet something—the yearning for belonging—brought him back. He kept struggling with the regulations imposed by the Church, and he left and returned numerous times. Finally, nearly 10 years later, he left the Amish Church for good. Growing Up Amish chronicles Ira's journey.

My take: After reading countless Amish romances, I was longing for something real—something that didn't idealize the Amish lifestyle but told it like it was. Growing Up Amish is one such book. In telling his story, Wagler shows the many aspects of the Amish—the good (the emphasis on family and the value of community), the absurd (any married man could be chosen as a preacher—whether or not he had the desire or calling to undertake that role), and the unbiblical (Wagler was taught and believed without question that any Amish person who left the church would be condemned to Hell). In the process, Wagler traces his own journey of faith.

This book is a New York Times bestseller, and it's easy to see why. Wagler's writing is at turns humorous, heartbreaking, and inspiring, giving a glimpse into a people that we Englisch find so fascinating. I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Note: The Kindle version of Growing Up Amish is $3.99 during March 2012. Get it here!

About the author: Ira Wagler was born in the small Old Order Amish community of Aylmer, Ontario. At 17, frustrated by the rules and restrictions of Amish life, Ira got up at 2 am, left a note under his pillow, packed his duffel bag and left. Over the course of the next 5 years, Ira would leave and return home numerous times, torn between the ingrained message that abandoning one's Amish heritage results in eternal damnation, and the freedom and possibilities offered by the "English" world. Upon becoming a Christian at age 26, Ira left the Amish for good. He is currently general manager of Graber Supply, LLC and Pole Building Co. in Lancaster County, PA.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free for review from Tyndale House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Sunday, November 6, 2011

november kindle book deals

Amazon has started offering monthly Kindle book deals (similar to the $5 mp3 deals that I'm such a sucker for!). This month, they have 100 books for $3.99 or less. I just glanced through the list, and there are many Christian books there—including The Art of Romance (which I loved) for $1.99, A Heart Most Worthy (which I liked) for $2.99, and Learning and Shades of Blue by Karen Kingsbury for $2.99 each. Also, several other books by Kingsbury are on sale for $2.99, but they're not on the monthly list, so I don't know how long the prices will last. You can see those books here. (Can you go wrong with Kingsbury? I don't think so! Though if you're caught up in the Bailey Flanigan saga—of which Learning is book two—you're probably ready to bash some heads together by now!)

You can check out the full list of discounted titles here. Happy reading!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

lazy saturday thoughts

I don't have anywhere to be until 2:30, and I don't have any books that have to be read now, so I'm enjoying a rare morning of laziness. I decided to write a "real" post—it's been a while since I've written anything besides a book review!
  • One of Tricia Goyer's books is free on Amazon right now. She's the author of my favorite Amish series (which I reviewed here and here). You can get Songbird Under a German Moon here, but hurry! Another of her books was free two days ago, and now it costs almost $10—I don't know how long this deal will last!
  • My parents received the "Hall of Faith" award at Nebraska Christian's Harvest Festival last night. The award is given to faithful supporters of the school. It's supposed to be a surprise, but they figured it out—which I told my boss would happen! Mom is always responsible for ordering the plaque, and she knew something was up when no one would tell her who the winner was. We did manage to surprise them a bit though—my brother and sister-in-law came, sat where we knew Mom and Dad wouldn't see them, and then showed themselves after the banquet ended. I didn't get any pictures at the event (I'm hoping my yearbook photographer was on top of it), so here's a recent picture of my wonderful—and deserving—parents.
  • I think I'm going to bite the bullet and get TV. Not pay TV, but free TV. I haven't had TV since I moved out of my apartment over a year ago, and after hooking up my sister's converter box and antenna for her last weekend (or turning on the converter box and turning the TV to the right channel, which is basically all "hooking it up" required), I've decided to do the same for myself. I already own a converter box, so it's just a matter of buying an antenna (which can be really expensive. And even though I checked out antennaweb.org, I'm still not sure what I need). Hulu and Netflix give me a lot of TV options, but sometimes you just want to be able to watch immediately, you know?
  • You should check out Clash of the Titles, this fun website I stumbled across recently. Basically, two books go head-to-head, and you vote on the excerpt you liked best. There are always contests to enter, too ... and I just won a $10 Starbucks gift card yesterday, so I know it's possible to win! 
  • Snow White: A Tale of Terror, which is one of the movies I talked about in the "My Life in Films" post a few weeks ago, is now streaming on Netflix. Yes, I've already added it to my queue.
  • I hate online learning. I understand its value and convenience, but I'd so much rather go to a real classroom where I could physically interact with my instructor and classmates. And I'm thinking about quitting the library program. More on that to come later ...

Friday, November 4, 2011

"the baker's wife" by erin healy

Audrey has a special gift—she can feel others' pain. Not just emotionally, but physically, as well. As a pastor's wife, this gift helped her minister to those who were hurting in her husband's congregation. But when her husband Geoff was expelled from their church, Audrey stepped away from her ministry, as well. Together, they opened a bakery.

When the wife of the man responsible for ending Geoff's career disappears, Audrey and Geoff are suspects. As the woman's trail goes cold, her husband can't accept that Audrey and Geoff weren't involved, and he decides to take justice into his own hands.

Now Audrey has hours to find the missing woman and return her to her husband or the man will kill Audrey's husband and son ... but the only way to do that is by reconnecting with her gift and once again feeling the woman's pain.

My take: I absolutely could not put The Baker's Wife down. Not only is it an exciting and engaging story, but it also beautifully illustrates the command given in Galatians 6:2, which says, "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ" (ESV). Audrey physically feels the pain of those she is called to help, and as she takes on some of their pain, they find a measure of relief. While I do not possess Audrey's gift, in the aftermath of reading this book, I found myself considering how I may be of service to those I know who are hurting. Is it easier and less awkward to stay away? Yes. But that's not what Christ calls me to do. It has been a long time since I've read a book that made me think this much, and I appreciate Healy for challenging me in this way.

Read an excerpt here and see what other bloggers are saying here.

About the author: Well-known to critics and reviewers, Erin Healy has established herself as an award-winning editor and a best-selling co-author with Ted Dekker. Healy received wide acclaim for her two debut novels Never Let You Go and The Promises She Keeps. Her work focuses on the psychological and spiritual, driven by high moral stakes. She lives and writes in Colorado with her family. For more information please visit www.erinhealy.com.

About the giveaway: Let the flour fly! Erin's celebrating the release of her latest page turner, The Baker's Wife, with an outstanding KitchenAid baking prize package giveaway that includes a brand new KitchenAid Mixer, cook books, and all you need to whip up some fabulous bread or sweets! Then and on November 10th she'll be wrapping up the release of The Baker's Wife with an Author Book Chat Party on Facebook! Don't miss a minute of the fun!



One grand prize winner will receive:
  • Empire Red 4.5 QT Ultra Power KitchenAid Stand Mixer
  • Black and White Kitschy Apron
  • Black Silicone Oven Mitt
  • Black OXO Rolling Pin
  • Wilton 9X5 loaf pan
  • At My Grandmother's Knee Cookbook by Faye Porter
  • Second Helpings with Johnnie Gabriel Cookbook
  • The Baker's Wife by Erin Healy
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on November 9th. Winner will be announced at The Baker's Wife Author Book Chat Facebok Party. Erin will be wrapping up the The Baker's Wife celebration with a book club chat and giving away a bunch of "sweet treats"! So grab your copy of The Baker's Wife (it's okay if you don't have one yet- you might win one!) and join Erin on the evening of November 10th for a book chat, some "baking" trivia and lots of "sweet" giveaways (books, and Amazon, iTunes and Starbucks gift certificates)!

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends. Hope to see you on the 10th!


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."