Friday, December 30, 2011

First Date - A Review

Addy Davidson doesn't want to be on TV. Let alone a reality TV show that the prize is being the prom date for the President's son. But she is. And then she meets Jonathon, the President's son, and sure he's cute, and now she only halfway doesn't want to be there. But evidently she's exactly where God wants her and the sooner she figures out that, the happier she'll be.

Let me just say that I loved this book. I got it in yesterday and started reading it about 3 hours ago. The story is a loose re-telling of the story of Esther. Once Addy accepts that she's where God wants her to be, she starts showing grace to the other contestants and being a genuine sweetheart. Her roommate, Kara, is such a likeable girl. Kara's the one that gets Addy to talk about her parents and their deaths on the mission field. Kara's also first one that Addy lets know she's a Christian. Jonathon is an amazing guy that has liked Addy from the first time that he saw her and she tells him that she doesn't want to be there. I love the fact that even though he didn't want to do the show either, he's doing it because he loves his family and that's important to him. Addy's Uncle Mike is the one that keeps telling Addy that God has a plan. The producer, Hank, is not a guy I liked. That's the way that it's supposed to be. I loved the way that Addy shared her faith with not only the President's son but also the producer who had been trying to get her off of the show from the start. While Addy wasn't the winner, she found that she was in God's eyes. He had placed her there at that time in order to be a light for Him. That made me think. Have I been in places that I normally wouldn't have been at just to glorify God? I can't honestly say that I have.

I am so happy to know that this is the first in a series or at least that there will be a sequel to it due out this next summer. I can't wait to read it.

I received this book for free from Thomas Nelson's program to review. I was only asked to give my honest opinion. The fact that I loved the book is a bonus!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Inconvenient Marriage of Charlotte Beck - A Review

Spoiled Charlotte Beck is on the verge of entering adulthood, but trouble still manages to follow her. British astronomer, Alex Hambly, needs to marry a wealthy American in order to save his family from ruin. Charlotte's father, Daniel, comes up with a plan that is mutually beneficial to both Alex and Charlotte - marry and not only will the Hambly family be saved from ruin, but Charlotte will get the college education that she longs for. Even though the couple can't stand each other, they agree to her father's terms. But what happens when their feelings change? Will they end the marriage or find a true love?

I really enjoyed this book. Kathleen Y'Barbo is humorous and I loved the situations that Charlotte frequently found herself in. This is the 3rd book in Kathleen's Women of the West series, but the other two books don't have to be read in order to understand this. Charlotte refuses to admit that her biggest fear is related to her late mother. Alex is very gentle with her when he finds that out. And it takes a heart to heart talk with her father to finally come to peace with things. Alex is a strong character that doesn't really like being told what to do. I admire his determination to save his family.

I received this book for free from Waterbrook/Multnomah for the purpose of review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Monday, December 26, 2011

A short fan fiction piece

Most of my friends and family know that I love the Harry Potter books. I'm involved in one of the online communities and every year, that community has a Holiday Calendar for the month of December.

This year, I wrote a short piece for it. I decided to post it here as well.

I won't usually use my blog to share any fan fiction pieces that I write. Just this one.

Rose's Christmas Miracle - a Harry Potter fan fiction

“…and that’s how it happened. The troll fell to the ground and your Grandma and I became inseparable,” Rose heard her father tell her children as she walked into the living room.

“Now Ron, don’t be telling those children things that will scare them,” Hermione admonished walking in a step behind her daughter. “I’m sure that Violet and Cassiopeia would much rather hear a Christmas tale as opposed to an old scary story. Wouldn’t you girls?”

The girls nodded at their grandmother, and catching sight of their mother began clamoring for a Christmas tale.

“Please Mum, tell us a story,” Cassie begged.

“Yes Mum, a Christmas story,” her twin, Violet begged.

Rose grinned as she joined her daughters by the fire. “I don’t think you’ve heard about how your father and I got together, finally, right girls?” Two curly heads shook their heads no.

“Well then, let me begin,” Rose exclaimed as she pulled her daughters close to snuggle while she told the tale. “Once upon a time…”

It was the week before Christmas and Rose Weasley was tired. She’d been burning the candle at both ends to keep up with her work in the Department of Mysteries as well as studying for the boards she needed to take to truly become an Unspeakable. Becoming an Unspeakable was unheard of for someone fresh out of Hogwarts. The usually organized young woman had somehow managed to not notice that Christmas had snuck up on her.

“Well, that’s it,” she announced to no one in particular as she surveyed her office. “I think I’m just going to have stop. My brain can’t take in any more.”

“Talking to yourself Weasley,” a masculine voice rang from the doorway. “You know what they say; talking to oneself is the first sign of going crazy.”

Rose started and with a glare turned toward the intruder.

“What’s it to you if I talk to myself? At least then, I don’t have to listen to your snide comments.” And with that, she gathered up her things and flounced out of the office without a look back at the young man who ran his fingers through his hair in frustration.

Why of all days does HE pick today to torment me,” she thought. She couldn’t help but noticing how tall he appeared or that he filled out his robes rather nicely after all of the Quidditch he’d played for his House at school. True, in school he only noticed her as competition for the top marks. He’d never noticed that she actually wanted him to see her for who she was and not for her family or her red hair or her intelligence. But to see her.

She’d known for the past couple of months that he was back from his trip abroad. He seemed to make it a point to make a snide remark whenever he saw her around the Ministry. And she usually had an apt comeback, but today she was just too tired and emotionally not up for their usual sparring.

The young man stood in the doorway of Rose’s office and ran his fingers through his hair in frustration as he watched the pretty young woman’s red curls bounce down her back as she stalked away from him.

Why do I always make a fool of myself around her,” he thought as he sighed and walked towards the lifts. “Even back in school when we were competing for the top spot, I couldn’t help it. She’s always been beautiful.”

Back in school, he did anything he could to get her to speak to him. Typically that ended up being some sort of prank or comment to get a rise out of her. They’d always shared a rivalry. But now that he’d been back in the country for the past couple of months, he knew he wanted more. He just couldn’t figure out how to stop making a fool of himself around her and let her see how much he fancied her.

Perhaps, I need a new approach,” he thought as he left the Ministry and headed towards the Leaky Cauldron.

Rose wandered aimlessly around Diagon Alley trying to get her temper under control. She didn’t notice the forlorn young man just inside the Leaky as she walked. She also didn’t notice the snow falling softly around her.

“Why can’t he just be nice to me? Why does he always make me so mad? Why can’t I let his teasing not bother me the way that I do James’, Teddy’s or Uncle George’s,” she asked herself stopping in front of Flourish & Blotts. She caught a glimpse of herself in the store’s window and looked hard. She saw a young woman with blue eyes, red curls, freckles, overall not beautiful, but certainly not a troll either.

“Because you love him Rosie,” she murmured softly. “And it hurts more than your cousins’ teasing because it’s him and he doesn’t see you as anything more than a pest.”

She reached up and brushed away the tear that escaped from her eye before squaring her shoulders and heading into Flourish & Blotts.

“Great. You idiot. You made her cry,” the young man muttered as he tossed some money on the table and hurried out of the Leaky. He knew that he had to figure out a way to tell her exactly how much she meant to him.

He stopped by the flower vendor just outside of Ollivander’s. “Flowers! That’s it! I can let her know how I feel with flowers. Today’s the 18th. So that means, a different bouquet every day until Christmas.”

He arranged with the vendor to have delivered to Rose that very day a bouquet of daisies and orchids. He took a minute to write a short note.

Rose – A beautiful flower such as yourself should have
someone who believes in the magic of romance (the orchids) and
loves your pure beauty (daisies). This is the first. Look for more.
Because I want to convince you that I love you. ~ Yours always.

He paid the vendor and arranged to have the bouquets, all but the last, he would deliver that himself on Christmas, delivered. The happy vendor set off to Flourish & Blotts to find the young lady while the young man melted into the shadows to watch quietly.

“Excuse me, miss,” a voice drew Rose out of the book she’d settled in with. “These are for you.”

She took the flowers from the vendor and breathed deeply of their fragrance. She read the short note and turned to the florist with a question.

“Do you know who these are from? I’m not seeing anyone.”

“Well miss, you must have an admirer – a secret one at that,” the florist said with a smile and left her to her flowers.

Over the next several days, Rose received bouquets of irises, sunflowers, carnations, wildflowers, and tulips.

She lined them up along her desk. “There’s magic of romance, purity, faith & hope, adoration, longevity, free-spiritedness, and perfect love. Someone’s obviously trying to tell me that he loves me, but who?”

She pulled out the note that was attached to the last bouquet of tulips.

My love for you is perfect. Like this tulip. I don’t deserve you.
Tomorrow’s Christmas. Meet me at noon at the Leaky. I’ll be
wearing your namesake. ~Yours always

Rose knew that she’d meet her admirer at noon. Partly to satisfy her curiosity and partly because her heart was hopeful.

Snow was falling softly as Rose approached the Leaky on Christmas Day a few minutes before noon. She was nervous. For all she knew, it could be one elaborate prank that her cousins dreamed up.

Inside, at a table by the window, the young man wearing a single red rose in his lapel was outwardly calm, but inside was a wreck. “What if she doesn’t come? Or what if she comes and sees me and doesn’t give me a chance?

Rose stepped inside the cozy inn and stood still for a moment not believing what her eyes were telling her.

“You,” she spat as she stalked towards his table. “How could you? Was this all some big joke to you? Obviously, I’m not a person to you. You take joy in seeing me hurt. Well, I’ll tell you this – I’m crushed. You’ve ruined my Christmas!” And with those words she turned and ran from the restaurant paying no heed to the tears falling freely down her cheeks.

“Rose, wait,” he said running to catch up. “Please listen.” He reached out and grabbed her arm. “This wasn’t a joke. And I hate seeing you hurt. Please. I’m sorry. I make a complete fool of myself every time I’m around you. I always have. But it’s only because I never knew what to say to you. Even in school. It was easier to spar with you than to talk to you. I’ve spent this past week trying to show you how much I care and kept hoping that you’d give me a chance. Oh sweetheart, please don’t cry.”

He pulled her into his arms and held her as she cried.

“Do you mean that,” she asked looking up at him with tears standing in her blue eyes. “Do you really mean you’re sorry?”

“So very much,” he replied as he wiped the tears from her cheeks. “And I know you hate me right now, but I hope that someday you’ll know just how much I love you. Here these are for you. Roses because they’re the flower that shows just how deeply I love you and red because I couldn’t think of any other color. I’ll do anything to let you believe that my love is true and to win yours, even if it takes an eternity.”

“I don’t think it’ll take that long,” she said as she nestled closer. “You see, I’ve loved you since our second year.”

At hearing those words from her, he bent his head and gently kissed her.

“Did they live happily ever after Mum,” Violet asked.

“Yes my dear they did,” Rose replied brushing a blonde curl off of her daughter’s forehead.

“So that’s why Daddy always gives you flowers every Christmas,” Cassie announced causing the adults to laugh.

“Speaking of him, where is that son-in-law of mine,” Ron asked his daughter.

“He had to work late. He’ll be here just as soon as he can,” she replied with a smile towards the doorway where her husband stood unnoticed by the rest of the room’s occupants.

“You mean right now,” Scorpius announced his presence as he stepped fully into the room.

“Daddy,” the twins squealed as a flurry of red and gold curls hurled across the room into his arms.

“I’m sorry I’m late. I got here just as soon as I could. Merry Christmas Ron, Hermione. Merry Christmas you two munchkins,” he said as he crossed the room to greet his wife.

“And Merry Christmas my sweet flower, my love,” he whispered to her. “Those bouquets were by far the best present I’ve ever given.”

“How much did you hear,” Rose asked softly.

“Only all of it,” he replied with a grin as he claimed her lips with his own. “You’re my Christmas miracle.”

The End

Disclaimer: The only things I own are my plotline, and Cassie and Violet. Everything else belongs to JK Rowling and the Harry Potter universe.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

My two best friends finally got to meet

It's been a great week. I took Thursday off to go Christmas shopping. And I'm happy to say that I'm done. I spent 4 and a half hours and got it all done. Yay! My best friend, the one I refer to as my sister, is in town right now. I was so excited that she got to join me and my other best friend for our weekly Movie night. And I was so glad that they finally got to meet. Both had heard so much about the other one and had seen pictures, but now got to meet. I love both of these girls so much. They're the type of friend who cries with you, prays with you, will do crazy things with you, and supports you in everything. My life is so much fuller for knowing these two women.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Grumble Hallelujah by Caryn Dahlstrand Rivadeneira

If you've ever been at the point where you're crying out to God, trying to find a way to praise Him in the midst of all the low moments in life, then you'd be please to know that there is hope. Written with a touch of humor, Caryn Dahlstrand Rivandeneria shares her experiences that show that there is a way out of that pit and that even while being in, the praise to God might not be shouted, but rather grumbled.

I found I could easily relate to some of the things that the author brings up. I've been at points in my life where my world's completely fallen apart and I don't begin to know how I'm supposed to praise God. But I've also had those mountaintop experiences too. She talks about how her outwardly her life was all put together, but then she admits that she was broken inside. She said that these hurts are meant to be grieved. When I read that, I was like "WOW." And my first thoughts went to the 10 year period I'd spent burying a deep hurt and not allowing myself to fully grieve. But what I also loved about this book was that she tells of how several different Bible characters had to reach that point where they begged for God to intervene so that they could fully enjoy their relationship with Him. Another thing that I loved about this book was that each chapter had both discussion questions and a prayer to make your own. Unlike most nonfiction books that had discussion questions that I'd ignore, I actually took the time to answer some, if not all of these.

I'm not a nonfiction reader. I typically don't like things that will make me face my faults. But I found I really enjoyed this book. I gained an understanding of how to really praise God through even the points in my life that aren't going the way that I'd like.

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

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Singing by Cindy Woodsmall

Three years ago, Gideon Beiler broke Mattie Eash's heart when he ended their engagement. She left their small Amish community and moved to her brother's community where she started a successful cake making business and started to see someone new. When a devastating fire to her shop sends Mattie back home, she is forced to work closely with Gideon again. Gideon still loves her. Now she has to figure out exactly what she wants.

Having read a few Amish books in the past and found them terribly lacking, I typically stay away from Amish books. I've never given Cindy Woodsmall a chance due to my past experience with another author. This book pleasantly surprised me. It was a sweet story.

Mattie must learn to forgive Gideon for his past and attempt to work with him. She does that. But only after the man she's seeing visits and tells her what he sees. I loved Gideon. He kept doing little things to show Mattie how much he loved her. When they both are able to talk, Mattie's too scared to admit that she also still loves Gideon, but instead hides behind her current boyfriend as an excuse. What I loved about this is that she had to get to the point where she puts her fear aside and steps out on faith.

Overall, I'd give this book 4 out of 5 stars. The Amish genre still isn't my favorite, but I wouldn't mind reading more by Cindy Woodsmall.

I received this book for free as a part of Waterbrook/Multnomah's Blogging for Books Program to review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Smitten by Colleen Coble, Kristen Billerbeck, Diann Hunt, Denise Hunter

Natalie, Julia, Shelby, and Reese share more than just a really close friendship. The four women are as close as sisters. They pray for each other, support each other in their various adventures, and they each want to find love. When the lumber mill closes and it appears that their little town is going to die, they formulate a plan to turn their small town into the romance capital by capitalizing on the name of the town, Smitten. Along the way, a little girl's faith, a country sensation hometown hero, and four different men help the girls to not only believe in the town but to also find their own happily ever afters.

I've read several novellas in the past that were written by various authors. None of them had the cohesiveness that this one shared. I've read books by Colleen Coble, but never anything by the other three authors in this book. I found the stories to be funny and unique. Each story itself tells of one particular couple - Natalie & Carson, Julia & Zak, Shelby & Nick, and Reese & Griffen. Yes, they are all in the others' "story" as well, but what also makes this book so different is that the story of the town and it's struggle and growth carries through all four stories.

The authors are real life best friends and I loved reading the interview with them about how each heroine is a little like one of them. Perhaps that's why this book worked so well when other novellas haven't. The authors really know each other and are familiar with their personalities. I look forward to reading the next Smitten book due out next year.

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