Wednesday, February 27, 2008


We've been in this house for four years.

Four years. Today, I finally unpacked bath towels.

Not that we haven't taken a bath in four years. But we were using my mom's old towels - and other ones that were so thin they were virtually worthless for humans. So I unpacked our towels. New, or almost new ones. Some still had store tags on them. And I put them out.

I took the old ones and put them in a box to give to the animal shelter. The free clinic for dogs and cats was destroyed by the recent tornadoes that wiped out whole communities in Arkansas, where we live, and they were begging for towels and sheets for starting up again.

So glad I could help.

Maybe tomorrow I'll see if I can find my cereal bowls. Yep, they're still packed. We've been using "hand-me-down" plastic ones that have seen better days.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Ready to Wed

Author: Melody Carlson
Publisher: Guideposts Books
October 2007
ISBN: 978-0-8249-4724-8
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary

Jane Howard’s bed and breakfast isn’t doing so well. Due to the cold and rainy May weather, all her guests have cancelled and gone home. She goes out to try to get some work done in her garden, when a pink Cadillac arrives. The driver, Belle Bannister, claims she had a dream from God, saying that God told her to come to Acorn Hill, Pennsylvania, and that she would find her husband there and they’d be married in three weeks.

Jane, understandably, is a bit put off by this revelation, but her sisters, Louise, and Alice, and their elderly aunt Ethel are excited about the prospect of a wedding. Ethel even volunteers to take Belle out to introduce her to all the eligible bachelors in town.

Matters are complicated when Jane gets a letter from her ex-husband, Justin, saying that he’s planning on coming for a visit. Jane is almost sick with anxiety. What can Justin possibly want after all this time?

READY TO WED is a totally fun story with a completely unexpected character. I loved Belle’s upbeat attitude, but wondered if she wouldn’t be scaring the bachelors off by being so blatantly obvious about her “man-hunt.” The three sisters and aunt are just as well developed, and interesting in their own ways.

READY TO WED is the first book in Melody Carlson’s Tales from Grace Chapel Inn series. I’m looking forward to reading the other books in the series. This book truly does remind readers that “God moves in mysterious ways.” Don’t miss this new series, or this book, READY TO WED. 336 pages. $11.95.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A New Promise

Author: Julie Eller
Publisher: Tate Publishing
September 2007
ISBN: 978-1-60247-482-6
Genre: Inspirational/romance

Scott Parnell has suffered a great loss. His beloved wife, Rachel, suffering from a disease, is now requiring life support. She’d signed a DNR order years earlier, but Scott decided not to follow her orders. Now his family is suffering. His seventeen year old son Ty has a drinking problem, and his twelve year old daughter purges.

Scott doesn’t know how to handle the problems. He’s sold off most of his family farm to pay for Rachel’s medical bills, and now, on the verge of bankruptcy, he’s forced to make a decision—take Rachel off life support or divorce her, and let the state take over her care. The decision is complicated when Rachel’s sister, Celeste, enters the picture.

A NEW PROMISE is definitely the work of a talented author. The story is gripping, and held my attention. I had to keep reading to see what would happen. There is a very strong faith message in the book, and great characterization.

Scott is a great hero, though he seemed a bit clueless on the parenting side. However, whenever his kids admitted they needed help, he was quick to step up to the plate without asking questions. This really endeared me to him. The ending of the book did seem a little too quickly tied together for my satisfaction, but all in all, A NEW PROMISE is a fantastic book. This is definitely a story that will stay with you for a long time. Even though the book is a bit pricey, it is worth reading. Don’t miss A NEW PROMISE. Available now from $21.99. 281 pages.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Awaken My Heart

Author: DiAnn Mills
Publisher: Avon Inspire
February 2008
ISBN: 978-0-06-137601-6
Genre: Inspirational/historical

Marianne Phillips has never agreed to her father’s treatment of the poor mestizos who inhabit Texas. He plans to kill them, especially their leader, and take over their land. On the other hand, the rebel leader, Armando Garcia wants to run Marianne’s father—and the family—off the land.

When Marianne is captured to be held as ransom, the rebels hope that he will trade the land for his daughter’s life. But Marianne’s papa never seems to have cared for his daughter, and certainly he didn’t make any effort to save her.

Armando is falling in love with Marianne and is facing a difficult decision now. Kill her, as he vowed if the father doesn’t come, keep her with him and his people forever, or release her and risk losing both his love and his land, forever.

AWAKEN MY HEART is one of the better historical romances I read this year. It has enough tension to keep the pages turning. Armando is a true hero, even though he’s a rebel, kind and caring, both of his people and of his captive. Marianne is strong and courageous, ready to take on both rebel leaders and devil stallions.

The faith message is strong, but not preachy, and the plot, setting, and characters are strong. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, based loosely on real Texas history. If you like history and romance, you won’t want to miss this book. Discussion questions are included at the end. $9.95. 255 pages.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Potluck Club Takes the Cake

Authors: Eva Marie Everson and Linda Evans Shepherd
Publisher: Revell Books
May 2007
ISBN: 0-8007-3074-7
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary/women’s fiction

Donna Vesey seems to be courted by every single man in town. Hollywood times has her engaged to one of their movie stars, the reporter fancies himself in love with her, as well as does several other men. But Donna seems oblivious to most of the attention as she struggles to be a deputy to the best of her ability. It soon becomes apparent to everyone that Donna has a “twin”. But who is this double, and why is she pretending to be Donna?

Jack and Goldie Dipple have separated, but Jack wants to get back together. He’s going for counseling at the local church, and Goldie agrees to go with him to a remote cabin, when she learns that his mistress is pregnant. Goldie agrees to go, but only to be mean to Jack. Instead an avalanche foils her plans, and she and Jack find themselves stranded…

The Sheriff and his highschool bride, Evie, are planning their wedding, but the Sheriff’s ex-wife has returned, and she has more than a few surprises up her sleeves. Does she plan to break the Sheriff and Evie up again?

THE POTLUCK CLUB TAKES THE CAKE is the final book in the Potluck Club series. I couldn’t wait to see what the ladies of the club and the nosy reporter following them were up to. Once I started reading the book, I couldn’t put it down.

The characters are extremely well developed, and the reader quickly grows to care about each one and their different circumstances they are involved with. Through it all the ladies grow as friends and as people, as they are forced to rely on God and each other. Delicious sounding recipes are included at the end of the book as well as directions for hosting a Christmas tea. $12.99. 376 pages.

Friday, February 15, 2008

To Trust a Stranger

Author: Lynn Bulock
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense
September 2007
ISBN: 978-0-373-44259-1
Genre: Inspirational/romantic suspense

Jessie Barker’s earliest memories are of her father being murdered and her mother kidnapped, a dead woman replacing her mother in the car they were all riding in. But no one would believe her story. Jessie and her sister, Laura, went from foster home to foster home, everyone believing they were orphaned.

Now, Laura has vanished. A woman is found badly burned in a fire, and a faded photograph of Jessie and Laura is the only clue found at the scene. Everyone believes it is Laura. Until the woman dies, and Jessie discovers that she is not her sister. DNA proves that she is Jessie’s mother.

Where was Jessie’s mother all these years? And even more important, where is Laura now? Detective Steve Gardner wants to help Jessie find the answers to these questions. But the quest is turning dangerous…will Jessie even live to learn the answers?

TO TRUST A STRANGER is an excellent story that held my interest. Steve didn’t act like a normal police detective, instead he was kind and loving, going above and beyond the call of duty to minister and reach out to Jessie. Jessie was, understandably, confused and a bit lost, when her world was turned upside down and the reader was instantly sympathetic toward her.

I couldn’t help but hope that Laura would be found alive and that Jessie would not only find love, but also keep her relationship with her sister. I was kind of sad that the mother died without Jessie ever developing a relationship with her. TO TRUST A STRANGER is one of the better Love Inspired Suspense I’ve read recently. It is definitely worth a second look. Discussion questions are included at the end. Available at $5.50. 247 pages.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Seasons of Love

Author: Elizabeth Goddard
Publisher: Heartsong Presents
ISBN: 978-1-59789-899-7
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary romance

Riley O’Hare is stunned with her grandfather asks her to give up her successful career and come take over the family cranberry farm in Massachusetts. But she is willing to jump at the chance to be near her grandfather and her brother. However, before Riley moves, her brother is tragically killed in a car accident and Riley finds herself the guardian of his baby boy.

Zane Baldwyn’s world is rocked with the death of his business partner. His business venture screeches to a halt until he’s able to hire a new computer programmer. Since he’s at loose ends, and since he overheard his friend make a phone call to Riley, he decides to visit her at the cranberry farm to find out what she knows about his death. But Riley so obviously needs help managing the farm and the baby that Zane finds himself volunteering to help her out.

It soon become apparent that someone wants something that either Riley or Zane has. All the computers in Zane’s business is stolen, and Riley’s business and Zane’s home are vandalized. What is someone looking for? And why?

SEASONS OF LOVE is the third book in the upcoming contemporary Massachusetts collection that Barbour is publishing, and this story easily stands alone. I didn’t read the other two books in the series, and I wasn’t lost at all.

There are parts of the book that feel a bit contrived, but all in all, it is a sweet romance with realistic and likeable characters. I enjoyed reading SEASONS OF LOVE. It’ s good for a quick escape from the real world. The story is excellent written with all loose ends tied up and the faith message is woven in and not preachy.

Whether you know anything about cranberries or not, SEASONS OF LOVE is an excellent book, with a light romance, and a sweet romance. Pick up your copy at your favorite bookstore or at $4.95. 170 pages.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Moonlight Travelers

Moonlight Travelers
Hugh Plant
Illustrated by Sarah Kenyon Nygaard
Beaver Pond Press

Mr. Lopps has been sick and now he has disappeared. His friends, Pig Girl, Buckminster, and Baby decide to go look for them. Buckminster lives with someone who builds things, so he builds a flying machine so they can go out looking for Mr. Lopps.

The next night, Baby flies the plane while Pig Girl and Buckminster ride along. They can’t find Mr. Lopps anywhere until they meet the Old One who guides them to a beautiful valley—but they can only visit for a moment. There they find Mr. Lopps.

Mr. Lopps promises that he loves his new home and his new friends, but reminds his old friends that he is only a memory away…

Moonlight Travelers was inspired when someone close to Hugh Plant lost their pet rabbit. He wanted to create a safe and beautiful place where animals go when they leave us. It is a beautiful story, and my six year old enjoyed hearing it. My two year old couldn’t keep still long enough for it, so I’m guessing this book is geared more for early elementary age children.

If you or someone close to you recently lost a pet, or if you expect to, then make sure you pick up Moonlight Travelers. It is sure to be a comfort for children as they struggle with the loss of their pet. Might even help with the loss of family members or friends too.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

One Little Secret

Author: Allison Bottke
Publisher: Bethany House
August 2007
ISBN: 0-7642-0058-5
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction

Ursula Rhoades is a housewife, content with her life as wife to successful, soon-to-be-made partner of the law firm, Don, and mom to two grown children, Victor, and Valerie. Ursula is facing the empty nest for the first time, and she and Don had made plans to go on a second honeymoon to celebrate—when Don has to go away for months to work on a huge law case.

Ursula wants to take voice lessons from a world famous opera singer, but Don is less than supportive of her desires. When world famous rock singer hears Ursula sing at a wedding, he wants her to work with him on a duet project. But Ursula doesn’t want to get involved…

When Nic finally talks Ursula into at least making a demo with him to see how it sounds, Ursula is thrilled. Nothing will come of it, but an invitation to record with a pop star is the stuff dreams are made of. But this one little secret is going to change Ursula’s life…

ONE LITTLE SECRET is Allison Bottke’s second book, and it’s a winner. This is easily the best book I’ve read so far in 2008 and it will be hard to top this one. Ursula is a wonderful heroine, a supportive wife, an awesome mother, giving up her own dreams for her family—and can’t all mother’s identify with that? Her family takes her for granted, and her husband even tells her to take up some little hobby, but when she wants voice lessons, he doesn’t want to waste money on her.

I totally loved this story. There is nothing about the book that I didn’t like, except that it ended. I’d like to have read more. I’m looking forward to reading many more books by this talented author. If you read one book in 2008, make sure that you pick up ONE LITTLE SECRET. $12.99. 334 pages.

Friday, February 8, 2008

A Lady of Hidden Intent

Author: Tracie Peterson
Publisher: Bethany House
March 2008
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0146-2
Genre: Inspirational/historical

When Catherine Newbury’s father is falsely accused and imprisoned for slave trading, Catherine is forced to flee the country with two of their trusted servants. They are able to secure passage to America, but there Catherine is forced to keep a low profile because people might be searching for her due to her father’s problems, even though all his land, holdings, and money have been ceased.

Catherine is able to take a job as a seamstress in Philadelphia, and is soon sought after as the most talented designer in the Americas. She worries that this new-found fame will hurt her as she tries to hide.

Carter Danby met Catherine when he toured England many years ago, but when they meet again at the design shop in Philadelphia, he can’t place her, even though she seems familiar. He’s instantly drawn to Catherine, but Catherine’s desires to free her innocent father are Catherine’s greatest desire. Will she sacrifice love?

A LADY OF HIDDEN INTENT is the second book of the Ladies of Liberty series. Even if the reader hasn’t read the first book in the series A Lady of High Regard this story stands alone. Ms. Peterson is a talented author and its apparent she does the needed research for historical writing, making it a pleasure to read.

Catherine instantly wins our sympathies, and even though we only briefly meet Carter in the first few pages, it is obvious that he’s the hero. I couldn’t wait for him to make his way back into the picture in a more permanent manner so I could get to know him too. The story has a strong romance, as well as a bit of suspense, as the man guilty of the crimes that imprisoned Catherine’s father’s roamed free. I hoped that the father would get out of prison. Fans of historical fiction will love A LADY OF HIDDEN INTENT. $13.99. 352 pages.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Addicted to Counterfeit Love

Author: Vikki Johnson
Publisher: Kimani Press
October 2007
ISBN: 978-0-373-83038-1
Genre: Inspirational/relationships

ADDICTED TO COUNTERFEIT LOVE is an educational book that will teach readers about the different kinds of ‘love’ out there and why they are not healthy. Ms. Johnson will show us about how some women:

. are unable to let go of the past
. has a fantasy relationship
. think that love is sex
. are codependent
. are over nurturing

She also goes on to show us what real lasting love looks like.

The stories told about each kind of counterfeit love are fascinating and educational. Plus she goes into a few paragraphs about what is unhealthy about the relationship and gives you a work space to write your own thoughts about what you learned and answer a few questions.

Ms. Johnson even shares her own personal counterfeit love stories at the end of the book, and while she has a lot of valuable information in this book, I was unable to find any indication that she practiced what she preaches. She mentions a child, but I couldn’t find any information about a husband and a lasting marriage.

Nevertheless, if you have a teen, or a young adult making unhealthy decisions about a mate, or being rather cavalier about their relationships, then ADDICTED TO COUNTERFEIT LOVE would be an excellent resource for them and might help them learn what real love is based on. $14.95 256 pages.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Forever Christmas

Author: Christine Lynxwiler
Publisher: Barbour Books
September 2007
ISBN: 978-1-59789-821-8
Genre: Inspirational/chick lit

Kristianna Harrington is known around Jingle Bells, Arkansas, for being the run-away bride. After all, she’s run-away twice. Still, Jingle Bells has been Kristianna’s refuge. It’s her home away from the stuffy mansion her parents live in, and the one place where Kristianna has felt loved and accepted. Her gran owned a gift store there, and when she dies, Kristianna quits law school and takes over Gran’s business.

But Jingle Bells tourist trade is suffering, and some people in town believe that changing the name to Summer Valley will entice a large corporation by the same name, to relocate there. But how can one change the name of a town that is focused on Christmas all year round to Summer Valley.

Kristianna determines to fight the name change with all she’s worth, but she’s stunned when the lawyer representing the opposite side, Shawn Webber, tries to court her. And even one of her best friends, Garrett, is leading her heart on a chase. Who will win—Summer Valley or Jingle Bells? And will Kristianna find love at the battle front?

I wanted to read this book for awhile, so I was happy when I got it. Okay, it arrived after Christmas, but since that’s my favorite holiday I didn’t mind reading it a month late. FOREVER CHRISTMAS was just as fun as I imagined, and held my interest the entire way through.

Kristianna is a loveable heroine, blessed with two best friends who try to be supportive of her, and two handsome beaus. I couldn’t pick my favorite of the two men, though I did figure out early on who the true hero is. FOREVER CHRISTMAS is a book that is great to read whether it’s the Christmas season or Valentine’s Day. It is too good go be missed. $12.95. 287 pages.

While the City Sleeps (Women of Midtown)

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