Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday - Valentines Freebie

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke & the Bookish

This week is a Valentines Day Freebie. So since I didn't plan this better, I'm just listing my top ten favorite romance authors. And yes, these are Christian romance authors.

1. Julie Lessman - Her books are so in dept. Her newest one, Isle of Hope, doesn't stray away from hard topics of adultery, teen pregnancy, and more. But it's full of grace.

2. Karen Witemeyer - I love her historical western romances. My favorite is Stealing the Preacher.

3. Janice Thompson - She does contemporary romantic comedy. I ALWAYS laugh my way through her books. 

4. Jody Hedlund - She's probably one of my favorite authors of all time right now. Her books are character driven and wonderful.

5. Robin Jones Gunn - Her book, Waterfalls, is still one of my all time favorite books. 

6. Becky Wade - I think I fell in love with her books when she started the Porter Family series.

7. Melissa Tagg - Her books take me to that feel good place. 

8. Denise Hunter - I've loved the ones of hers that I've read, and I'm particularly excited about her new one coming out next month, I think.

9. Lori Wick - Lori remains one of my favorite authors. Her historicals are some of my go-to rereads. 

10. Dani Pettrey - Over the past few years, she's become one of my favorite romantic suspense authors. 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Saturday Scribbles Vol 2.5

Welcome to another edition of Saturday Scribbles my friends. I really have no idea where today's post is going to go, so hang on for the ride.

I have been suffering with forgetfulness lately. Take the other day for example. I came home from work and checked my mail. In my mailbox was a copy of a book I had requested to review. No big deal right? I get these all of the time. The problem? Well, this copy of the book was sent on behalf of the author and not my normal review request. Which means that evidently I'd agreed to be an influencer for the book with the author. And then when the publisher sent the email out for the February titles, I requested it. And I'd completely forgotten that I'd done so. Now I've got two copies of this really wonderful book. So that'll mean that you my lovely readers will soon have a chance to win a copy of it. Because I'll give one copy away. I'll still be influencing the book. I mean after all, I'll review it and talk about. Things that I do on a normal basis anyway. What book is it? That my friends is a secret at the moment. I will tell you that it is a new release, by one of my favorite authors, book one in a new series, and is romantic suspense. So which book is it? Some of you will know. Others will have to be surprised.  I hope that I'm able to have the giveaway up next week. I'm aiming for the 15th, but we'll see.

Evidently there is some really  big football game going on this weekend. Yes I know what teams are playing. Do I plan on watching it? Nope! As of right now, my plans include grocery shopping around 5:30/6:00 as there won't be anyone in the store, reading, and watching Season 8 of Stargate. I don't even watch the Superbowl for the commercials. Just because football doesn't interest me.

I was at my best friend's house on Thursday. Her mother in law was there. So I was chatting with her mother in law while playing Candyland with her 3 year old. Her mother in law asked me about work and so I was talking about how work was going. It had been an interesting day. I was teaching a class and the staff had pictures we had to take. Thankfully my class was very understanding about the morning being a little more chaotic than usual. My friend's mother in law asked me what class I was teaching. So I said, "Today, it was Excel Level 1." She then asked me what I meant by today. So I explained that I was a trainer for the City of Houston's HR department and that I teach a variety of classes - Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Business Writing, Customer Service, and more. It's fun. I am actually utilizing both my education degree AND my HR degree.

So that's it for today's Scribbles. It's a bit more random than usual today.

Friday, February 5, 2016

All Things Bright and Beautiful - A Review

Published - February 2016, Worthy Publishers
Author - Cecil Frances Alexander
Illustrator - Katy Hudson
Title - All Things Bright and Beautiful
Format - hardcover
Find on Amazon 

In the 1800's Cecil Frances Alexander penned the words to one of the world's favorite hymns "All things bright and beautiful..." Artist Katy Hudson takes those words and uses her watercolor paintings to capture and delight children in this latest version of the popular hymn.

I loved this book! The paintings are vibrant and very engaging. I remember growing up and learning some of the words to the hymn "All things bright and beautiful/All creatures great and small/All things wise and wonderful/The Lord God made them all." Yet this book covers all of the stanzas of the song.

I read this book to my best friend's daughters. The girls LOVED it. They loved seeing all the butterflies, birds, ladybugs, and beauty of the creation in the paintings. It also gave me some teachable moments when they realized that God made everything.

I received this book for free from Worthy's First Look blogging program for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to children ages 3-7, parents, teachers, librarians, Sunday school teachers

Rating - 5 stars

Thursday, February 4, 2016

At Love's Bidding - A Review

Published - December 2015, Bethany House Publishers
Series - Ozark Mountain Romance Book 2
Author - Regina Jennings
Title - At Love's Bidding
Format - ebook, paper
Find on Amazon

Miranda Wimplegate's family owns an auction house in Boston. When her grandfather mistakenly sells a painting that the owner's family did not wish to be sold, Miranda and her family are willing to do whatever it takes to return the painting to its rightful owners. Their research into who purchased the painting lead them to a small town in the Ozarks that has an auction house up for sale. Hoping to make amends, her grandfather purchases the auction house and all of its contents sight unseen. Miranda and her grandfather then travel across the county to their newly purchased auction house only to discover that the house specializes in livestock not antiquities. With her grandfather's health rapidly declining, Miranda has no choice but to enlist the help of the manager Wyatt Ballentine to help move the livestock from the auction house. Wyatt's dreamed of purchasing the sale barn for years. So when these city folks arrive in town, he's hurt to find out that they are his new bosses. Yet he understands his community. He sees that neither the pretty Miranda nor her grandfather know the first thing about livestock, so he helps them out. After all, the sooner they find what they are looking for, the sooner they will be gone and his life can return to normal. Neither Wyatt or Miranda count on the attraction and the sparks that fly between them.

While this book may be part of a series, I found that it stands alone. The cover on this one caught my eye. It's whimsical and looks like a lot of fun.

As I started reading, I couldn't help but be delighted. I've read a lot of Regina's books before, and I forget how she can write romantic comedy. I loved watching Miranda struggle with the fact that their auction house housed livestock and not priceless heirlooms. And how gentle she was with her grandfather. I just sighed a little then.

I loved the sparks between Wyatt and Miranda. I thought that their banter was great. I also figured out that there was more to Wyatt than we were first led to believe. Yet when it came out what exactly made there to be more to Wyatt than appearing, I loved Miranda's reaction.

I received this book from the author for the purpose of promoting. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of Mary Connealy, Karen Witemeyer, Regina Jennings, Melissa Tagg

Rating - 4 stars

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Historical Settings I Love

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke & the Bookish.

Today's topic is about our favorite settings - either historical or futuristic. I chose to focus on my favorite historical time periods.

1. Ireland - I love anything Irish. My favorite historical settings in Ireland would be the period in which Linda Windsor's Maire is set. I'm pretty sure that it is 5th century Ireland.

2. Civil War - This would be the American Civil period of 1860-1865. 

3. The early 1800's in England - I've found myself reading a lot of regency era fiction, both secular and Christian. Depending on the author, it's become one of my favorite time periods.

4. WWII - Until I started reading a lot of WWII fiction, I didn't think I'd enjoy it as much as I do.

5. America's Revolutionary War - This would be anything set from 1770 - 1785. 

6. Medieval Scotland, Wales, Ireland, England - You know the time of knights and their lady-fair. 

7. Mid to late 1800's - Typically this would be the time frame of the American westward expansion. My first experience with this period was the Little House books I grew up on.

8. Fairy tale settings - Most fairy tales seem to be set in the medieval era. Which is one that I love. Come to think of it, most fantasy novels are set then too.

9. Turn of the century (1895-1900's) America - This was when America was growing by leaps and bounds. The novels I've read set during this period have intrigued me with the way that they show the progress of industry.

10. 1920's - This really depends on the book. I don't care for the Great Gatsby, but others set during this period, I've really enjoyed. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

Where She Belongs - A Review

Published - January 2016, Revell Books
Series - Misty Willow Book 1
Author - Johnnie Alexander
Title - Where She Belongs
Format - ebook, paper
Find on Amazon

Shelby Kincaid returns to her ancestral farm hoping to raise her two daughters in the same sort of environment she was raised. She's hoping that the move will allow for both her and her daughters to put aside their grief over the loss of their husband and father. She knows that the Sullivans, who bought the farm from her family, have done nothing to it, and she hopes to make it into what she remembers. AJ Sullivan never wanted Misty Willow. His grandfather left it to him as punishment, and AJ's let it fall into ruin. When Shelby contacts him, he hopes to make a clean break from the farm. At least that's his plan until he meets Shelby and her adorable daughters. Perhaps both of these two wounded hearts can find a second chance together?

This is the first book I've read by Johnnie Alexander and I loved it. I loved the detail that pulled the story together from the minor characters (AJ's dog, Shelby's daughters, the neighbors) to the dynamics between the major characters.

Shelby is hurt by the events of her life. She's not looking for new love. She just wants to start over. But I love how she comes to realize that maybe God's plan includes more than just a new home. And I loved AJ. When he is made aware of something from his past, he steps up.

AJ's cousins need some work. Since the next book is about his cousin Brett, I'm hoping to see him change even more than he has started to in this book.

I received this book for free from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of women's fiction, Rachel Hauck, Susan May Warren, Denise Hunter

Rating - 5 stars

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Saturday Scribbles Vol 2.4

Happy Saturday everyone! One of my friends is an artist, and she has been posting pictures of her journal making on Facebook. It's been fun to see the pictures and to watch her process.

It made me think about my own journals. I have quite a few. Some of them are filled. Others aren't so much. My current one is one that I use to write my thoughts in during my quiet times.

But I found one of my older ones from college the other day. I was looking back through the entries and I thought, wow, so much has changed since then. I wrote poetry, stories, prayers, Biblestudy thoughts, and more. So I thought that I'd share just portions of a few entries with all of you today. By the way, they are all pictures.

A poem called the Rose I wrote July 1, 1999

A portion of an entry called "Christmas Spoons" written in August/September 1999

CRU's fall retreat Oct 2, 1999.

Oct 3, 1999 - This was on the CRU Fall Retreat during the free time in the afternoon. I wasn't able to participate in the games due to a badly sprained wrist, so I started writing. This is the beginning of my novel, Callie.

November 9, 1999 - CRU girls Bible Study. 

Notes from either a sermon or a quiet time - January/February 2000

A poem I wrote June 28, 2000