Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Let Me In - A Review

One mother's determination. One little boy's longing to feel like he fits in. One family's journey from despair into hope. Join this family on their autism journey and recovery.

When Laura Santos heard the doctor telling her that her young son had autism, she refused to believe it. She sought out multiple doctors that would help her on her journey to find a treatment for her son that did not involve lots of medication. After doctor after doctor told her that there was nothing they could do, she sought alternative means. This is her journey to find someway to find a treatment that would help her son.

My Review
Let me just say that I was not asked to read Laura's book. I don't have a child with autism, though I do know several. I don't know a lot about autism myself. I have a cousin that was recently diagnosed with having autism. I picked up Laura's book the other day and soon got lost in her journey. She was very determined that she would find a treatment for her son that would work. Sure it involved an entire lifestyle change for the entire family in order for her son to be helped. She was determined that the family would take an active part in her son's treatment. I've not heard before of how certain types of behavior can be linked to gluten and casien in the diet. When she made the decision to remove those things out of her son's diet, the family saw immediate results in how he behaved. Other methods that were used to treat her son were experimental and didn't have the support of the family's pediatrician. But Laura would find a way to make the treatments happen. She'd visit other doctors and attend conferences and find ways to pay for very costly doctors and prescriptions that the insurance wouldn't cover. Yet, through all the treatments, her son started to change and to excel. He would begin communicating and doing things that before he'd never done before. Laura admits that the road to recovery was a long hard one, but is proud to announce that her son has been introduced as a recovered child.

Yes I know Laura personally. She's my Mary Kay sales director and a friend. I've met her family. I never knew her son before he had gone through the treatments she described in her book. I've been able to interact with her son on several occasions when I've been over at her home. If I didn't know that he was autistic, I wouldn't have known that the behavior he displays to people wasn't his normal. I'd have just thought that he had a few personality quirks. I encourage anyone who would like some answers to pick up her book or to visit her website at .

Rating - 5 stars

About the Author
 Laura Santos is a wife, a mother, and a successful business woman. She is an Independent Sales Director with Mary Kay Cosmetics. The nature of her business has allowed her the time to attend the various conferences and events pertaining to autism that she has attended. Having earned several diamond rings and career cars through her business, including the prestigious Pink Cadillac, Laura continues to give God all the glory for her success. And most importantly she feels that the entire success of her son is due to God's intervention and leading her to find the doctors who would help him. She shares her story as a way to offer hope and encouragement to other families who are seeking answers.

My Final Words
 I am blessed to be able to call Laura my friend. I'm also blessed to be a member of her Foxy Lady unit in Mary Kay Cosmetics. Laura gave me a copy of her book at Christmas to read. She did not ask me to write a review of it.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

In Too Deep - A Review

Book 2 of the Kincaid Brides series tells Ethan's story. Ethan and Audra, Julia's stepmother, agree to marry to get Audra and her babies out of a run down shack. This smiling Kincaid brother is usually always agreeable. So why is it that his new wife is being so difficult? And when danger follows them back to the ranch and tries to harm the ones that Ethan has come to care for, he will do anything to see that they are safe. But will he and Audra ever admit their feelings for each other?

Picking up where the first book, Out of Control, leaves off, Ethan and Audra's story is filled with humor and danger. The cavern that haunts all three brothers comes into play again. Only this time, we discover why Ethan responds to it the way that he does. I loved the banter between Ethan and Audra. And how she gently establishes Ethan as the head of the household in front of Rafe.

 Like everything else I've read of Mary Connealy's I really enjoyed this book. I am looking forward to the final one in this series, Over the Edge, which will tell the story of Seth, the crazy brother. I recommend this book to anyone who likes light-hearted, adventurous stories filled with romance.

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

Rating - 4 stars

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Deeply Devoted - A Review

Catharine Olsen leaves Holland as a mail-order bride with her two sisters in tow. When they arrive in Wyoming, Catharine and her groom, Peter Andersen, immediately marry and begin their life together. Catharine's keeping some secrets from her new husband about her past. Peter's mother is hurt that her son had the nerve to marry someone without her permission, so she seeks to find out all she can about her son's bride's background. Peter finds himself falling for Catharine yet torn between his wife and his mother. When the truth of Catharine's past comes to light, will Peter be able to forgive Catharine and will Catharine find the love she longs for?

This is the first book in the Blue Willow Brides series. I enjoyed reading it. Trust is an important theme in the book and both Catharine and Peter have to learn to trust not only each other but also God. A tender love story, fans of Janette Oke will be sure to pick up this book. I look forward to reading others in the series because I want to see if my questions are answered.

My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Rating - 4 stars

Monday, April 16, 2012

What Am I Passionate About

My friend and I were talking the other evening. Through many twists and turns our conversation found its way to things we're passionate about. Yeah we talked some about love languages and spiritual gifts. But the discussion really ended up being what are you passionate about? And how can you use the gifts you've been given to fuel that passion?

So what is my passion and what am I passionate about? I'll see if I can figure out that.

Let's start with my love languages.

My strongest love language is gifts. I love getting (and giving) gifts. But that doesn't mean I have the gift of giving. On the contrary. It's the little things that make me happy. I remember being in college and a friend would leave a note on my dorm room door, either written on the dry erase board or attached to the door with a sticker. I was literally over the moon for the next several hours, sometimes days, because that little "gift" made me happy. I've learned to funnel that energy into gifts I give my friends (homemade blankets, boxes of cookies, soup and spice mixes, etc). I've even made a scrapbook for a friend. I don't expect compensation for these things. Because when someone has asked me to make a blanket and paid me for it, I've lost the joy in it.

My next strongest love language is acts of service. And this actually ties into one of my strong spiritual gifts. I enjoy doing little things for people. Like making them a meal or something like that. Once again that is the whole gifts things loud and clear. But it's also a service to others.

But am I passionate about serving? No, not really. I serve in areas I enjoy. And I know that those are the areas I need to be in.

My strongest spiritual gift is hospitality. I love love love to host things. And to just make people feel welcome. It's part of the reason that I love Mary Kay. Yes I'm bringing my favorite job into this conversation. I was told recently that you know it's a good fit for me if I talk about it all the time. While I don't care for my corporate job, I love my Mary Kay. And the excitement for it shows in my voice and my eyes sparkle. Am I passionate about it? Yes, to an extent.

Writing. I love to write. I actually dabble in it more than anything else. For me writing does two things: 1. It lets me live in a fictional world where it's just me and the characters and life is great. And 2, it's a release for me. When it's a release, my writing becomes more like poetry, in free-verse with no rhyme or rhythm, but it gets my thoughts on paper. Here are a couple samples of my writing.

This first one is one I wrote years ago as part of a writing prompt.

I slowly turned the truck into the lane leading to the house that I'd glimpsed from a distance. As I drove up to view the house closer, my mind was racing with stories about who had lived in it. What had happened to the family? Did they run into hard times? Had a loved one died and the family members forgot about the old homestead when they all moved away?

My truck came to a stop in front of the broken, sagging porch. I put the truck into park, turned off the engine, and climbed out. I approached this house very softly. In some ways, I felt a sense of mystery, almost as if the house was begging me to come and explore every nook and cranny in order to tell its story. In other ways, I felt a sense of forboading, as if I would discover something that was dangerous and cruel.

I climbed up the rickety steps. Each step that I took just begged me to continue on this journey. As my hands caressed the worn railings, I felt as if I should know this porch and this house.

Slowly, I opened the door that was hanging on one hinge. As I pushed open door, letting in the sunlight, my eyes took in the single room. There in the corner sat a rocking chair. The roof had fallen in in many places allowing the trees to grow through the remaining portions of the roof. But, it was the rocking chair in the corner that drew my attention. I moved towards it as if in a trance.

My fingers reached out to touch the fine maple wood of the chair's back. Slowly, I ran my hands over the intricate designs that the years and the elements had not touched. My fingers knew these designs. I knew that the chair would be smooth to sit in and as it rocked, it would make no sound. How I knew these things about this chair, I didn't know.

I sank into the smooth chair and slowly began to rock back and forth and back and forth. I rocked back over the years and the memories came.


"Jackie," I heard a voice calling me from inside the house. I was a child of five and was spending the summer with my great-grandparents at the Farm. I loved to roam through the farmlands that Grampa Felix tended. At the moment that my great-grandmother was calling me, I was up in the branches of the dogwood tree growing beside the front porch.

"Coming Gramma Rose," I called back as I climbed down the tree. I dusted off my pinafore, and splashed water on my hot face as I entered the house. Gramma was sitting in her favorite spot. The rocking chair in the corner.

I took my spot at her feet and waited for her to speak. She put her old, wrinkled hand upon my mussed strawberry-blonde curls. "Jackie, my child," she said as her sightless eyes stared off in the distance. "You've been in the tree again, haven't you?"

I knew better than to lie to her. "Yes, ma'am," I replied.

"Child, when will you ever turn into a lady," she asked me with a smile. I knew that she wasn't too upset with me, so I didn't say anything.

"Jackie, child," she said after a minute. "Have I ever told you the story of this chair?"

"No, Gramma, you haven't," I replied.

"Your Grampa Felix made this chair for me when I was expecting your grandmother. I was misrable and he wanted to show me how much he loved me. Everyday, he would disappear into the barn and work. I didn't know what he was doing in there. Then a few days before Christmas, he presented me with this rocker. He had spent hours sanding down the wood and carving the designs into the back. I'd never known he was so talented with wood.

"This chair has been my stillpoint. It has been where I sat and rocked my babies. It was where I wept for the loss of my son in the Great War. Where I wept over the failed marriage of my baby girl. Where I held my grandbabies. It's been my refuge since I lost my sight. It's where the Good Lord speaks to me the most often, child.

"I want you to know that even though life will give you troubles, Jesus is always with you."


With a sudden start, I stopped rocking. That summer was the last time that I saw my Gramma Rose. She died the following winter. After that, my parents didn't want me going to the Farm anymore. They said it would bring back too many memories. As I grew, I forgot all about the Farm and Gramma Rose's little lessons on life. When Grampa Felix died when I was eight, no one once remembered Gramma's rocker or thought to ask after it. Grandmother Anne and Grandfather felt it best that the Farm stay in the family, but no one lived there. As the years passed, the Farm fell into disrepair. Eventually, it was sold.

Now, here I am, a woman grown. I research stories for a living. Yet, I seem to have forgotten the lessons that Gramma Rose tried to teach me. How had I lost my childhood faith? Was it from not having time to go to church in high school? Was it being focused on my career goals in college? Was it getting married and starting my own family? I didn't have the answers to those questions any more than I had the answers to the questions about the house.

My cell phone chirped. "Hello," I said through my tears.

"Jackie, where are you? You were supposed to be here an hour ago," I heard my husband say with exasperation in his voice.

"Brad, honey," I tried to begin. "Something's happened, and..."

"Jackie, are you alright," the concern that replaced the frustration started my tears again.

"I'm fine," I sniffed. "It's just that I found Gramma Rose again. I found the Farm. And, honey, I found the most important thing of all."

"What is that," Brad asked.

"I found my childhood faith. Jesus has never left me like I thought that He did."

"Jackie, that's great, now how soon will you be here,"

"I'll be there soon. I promise. I just have to get one thing before I leave."

"And what's that?"

"Gramma's rocking chair."

This second one is one of my poems.

“I have always loved you,”
I heard him say
Across the hospital bed
As she lay there.
In response,
The monitor shuddered
Came to life
A brief second---
Then it was gone
Still, silent, calm.
Tears were falling
He was sobbing
In the arms of his son
Daughters crying
Grandchildren too
All grown, yet grieving
In the midst of it all
Their love story beckoned
Beckoned to be heard
Never knew that they
Were each other’s only love.
True soul mates.

I recently heard the story of how my grandparents got together. I've decided to write their story. I think it's beautiful. I've got it partially written. And my epilogue is forever ingrained in my memory, so it'll be fun to write. The poem above is the basis of the epilogue.

So am I passionate about writing? Yes, sorta. But I'm also passionate about books. I love to read. And I love to share my love of reading with anyone who listens.

I think that once you discover what your passion is, that you need to do whatever it takes to use that passion. It may be writing. It may be finding a spot to serve. I don't know. But I do know that if you utilize the gifts that God has given, then no matter what your passion is, as long as you're doing it to glorify Him, then you'll be happy and content.

I'm rambling a little tonight and am a bit tired. So I'm not sure if this is making any sense whatsoever.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

WHen Two Hearts Meet - A Review

Nurse Rachel Garrett comes to Rockdale, Colorado to begin anew. She's in town for less than a day when she's thrust into her nursing role. Deputy Sheriff Luke Mason's first impression of the pretty nurse is the best. After all she'd placed herself in harms way to assist someone who may be injured and as a result caused him to miss the men he'd been tracking. But as they get to know each other, he's having to admit he misjudged her. Her faith has him questioning his own rebellion since his father was killed. When she's abducted, he will do anything in his power to save her and finds himself seeking the God he abandoned.

I've never read anything that Janelle Mowery has written before. This is the 3rd book in the series, but you don't have to read the others to know and understand this book. Within pages, I was completely captivated. It's funny, romantic, and has a strong faith in it. I was thrilled to be able to read a light-hearted book. I honestly didn't want to put it down, so I finished it instead.

Rating - 5 stars.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Resurrection Day

Happy Resurrection Day! Easter has a very special meaning for me. I celebrate my spiritual birthday on Easter. Yes, that's right. I accepted Jesus into my heart on Easter Sunday when I was 6 years old. Wow. That means I'm 28 today.

The Casting Crowns song, Glorious Day has fast become one of my favorites. Take a look at the video, and remember today why Jesus died. Because remember, Jesus didn't stay dead. He arose. And now the grave is empty!!!!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Where Lilacs Still Bloom - A Review

Hulda Klager has a big dream. She wants to create a creamy white lilac with more petals than others. She experiments with grafting and hybridization. Her experiments put her at odds at times with her family, but she's got a faith that helps her to see her dreams through the seasonal floods and family trials.

This book is based on the true story of Hulda Klager. I thought it moved pretty slow. Overall, her triumphs and her struggles fascinated me. I learned way more about plant hybridization than I ever knew before. Sure it's fiction. And it's told beautifully. But, overall, I thought it dragged a little too much for me.

I received this book for free from Waterbrook/Multnomah's Blogging for Books program in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Rating - 3 stars

Friday, April 6, 2012

Giveaway Winner

Thanks everyone for entering the giveaway of the Love Inspired Historical Bundle.

And the winner, according to, is


Congratulations! I've just sent you an email. I'm sure you'll enjoy the books.

Another giveaway will be sometime in April.