Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 in Review

A lot happened this year for me. My business seemed to really take off. My grandfather passed away. My best friends each had a baby girl, so I have two more "nieces." My extended family welcomed 3 children into it via adoption. And I've stayed on track with my reading the Bible in a year.

I've read A LOT of books this year too. I read at least 120 books. I say at least, because I know that there are several I forgot to log. I discovered a bunch of new or new to me authors.

I saw a few movies at the theaters this year. My favorites being Avengers, Hunger Games, and Les Miserables. In fact I've love Les Mis so much that I've seen it twice since it came out and will be seeing it a third time!

My favorite books for 2012. (in no particular order, and they are not all 5 star ratings)
I'm including the Amazon links to each as well. Unless noted otherwise, all links are for the Kindle books. The author's name will take you to my review and the title is linked to the Amazon Kindle page.

Short Straw Bride by Karen Witemeyer - I read this one. Then once I finished it, I started it again.

Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan - I think this is my favorite one so far.

Alchemyst by Michael Scott - this was a reread but I still loved it.

I read quite a few more thought provoking books this year too. Or at least ones that I found fascinating, but didn't necessarily make my favorites list for year.

There are a lot of books coming out in 2013 that I am looking forward to. Julie Lessman, Mary Connealy, Dani Pettrey, Jody Hedlund, Regina Jennings, and Sarah Sundin all have books coming out that I am excited about. I can't remember titles or release dates at the moment. Oh yes. I forgot Karen Witemeyer. I think I'm the most excited about Stealing the Preacher by Karen than I am about pretty much any other book.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Groom By Arrangement - A Review

Eliza Kelly didn't answer an ad to be a mail-order bride. Yet there is a groom on the way to meet her at the station. She mistakes blacksmith Jackson Hart for her prospective groom. When she suddenly finds herself guardian to a small boy and her reputation in tatters, Jackson offers a chance for her to save face by offering a marriage of convience. Will these two souls find true love?

It was delightful to return to Cottonwood Springs and to catch up with Seth and Rebecca from Marshal's Promise. I enjoyed reading Eliza and Jackson's story as well. The twists that occured weren't what I excpected especially when Eliza's sister suddenly shows up in town. This was a fun book to read one evening after work as it only took me a couple of hours to read it all.

This is due out in February 2013. I received my copy as part of Reader Service Book club.

Recommended to fans of Janet Tronstead, Janet Dean, Love Inspired Historicals, Love Inspired, Love Inspired Suspense.

Rating - 4 stars

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A bit of fun

Every year, or at least for the past few years, I take part in the Chamber of Secrets Holiday Calendar. Last year I shared the little story I did with Rose. This year I came up with something entirely different. I was having a hard time getting the characters to behave and let me write a simple Christmas story. So I wrote a poem instead. I don't rhyme, and I typically don't write poetry. But it's in fun. So here is my entry to this year's Holiday Calendar. So for all Harry Potter fans....

It’s that time of the year
When the Hogwarts Holiday Calendar brings much cheer.
I sharpened up my quill
And wondered what I’d do to fit the bill.

I tried to write
Even stayed up late at night!
But, alas to my dismay
There was nothing for me to say.

James and Lily didn’t make a peep.
The Trio and Ginny stayed asleep
Not a word from Scoripus or Rose.
Upon the twins I could not impose.

Busy with work and books,
I couldn’t even spare time to cook!
The deadline approached way too fast
An idea came to mind – at last!

Instead of a story I hold so dear,
I’ll write a poem full of holiday cheer.
Only as the words began to flow,
Did I discover it was full of woe.

I typically can’t rhyme
But I will just this time.
So that I can write my holiday wish
And pray that it sounds sweet-ish.

So with that thought,
I’ll give it a shot -
Merry Christmas to all
And may your holidays be a ball!

Deposit Slip Winner

And the winner of Deposit Slip is


Congratulations. I've just emailed you.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Happy December!

Today I'm going to give away Todd Johnson's Deposit Slip.

To enter, leave a comment of a Christmas tradition your family does. Extra entry for leaving a comment telling me you follow my blog and how. Extra entries for any comments on my book reviews (see the label on the top left). Ends Christmas Day in the evening, probably 9pm.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Secrets - A Review

Jessica Morgan hopes to escape her past by moving to the small town of Glenbrooke, Oregon. All she wants is to be able to live peacefully and make her own decisions. Yet life has a way throwing a curve at her. A car accident, a principal who is set on finding out anything that can be used to blackmail Jessica, a troubled teen, a trip to Mexico, and a handsome firefighter all shatter Jessica's peace. But as she falls further in love with the small town and its people, including the handsome firefighter, she finds herself drawn to the relationship with God that most of them seem to share. Will Jessica find a relationship with the God who loves her to distraction? Will she let go of her secrets enough to open her heart to love?

"Welcome to Glenbroooke - a quiet place where souls are refreshed," is the greeting of this small town. I've read this book several times over the years and I always find that it's so refreshing. For me, any of Robin's books - and I've read them all several times - is like a visit with a best friend. While it's been about four years since I've read this particular book, I was easily drawn into Jessica's story once again. The way that she searches for answers about faith is something I love. Each Glenbrooke book just infuses my desire to move to Glenbrooke.

I received this book for free from Waterbrook/Multnomah's Blogging for Books program for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of Christy Miller, light romances, Colleen Coble, Denise Hunter

Rating - 4 stars

Monday, December 10, 2012

Light in the Window - A Review

Marcy Murphy is thrilled to return to the Boston she loves. She's also thrilled to be able to direct the church Christmas play fundraiser with her best friend. What she's not thrilled about is the attention of two rogues, Patrick O'Connor and Sam Rourke, who compete for her heart. Marcy doesn't want anything to do with men with reputations like they have. She wants a man who will love God as much as he loves her. Which of these two men will win her heart?

This sweet prequel to Julie Lessman's Daughters of Boston and Wings of Change Series tells the story of Marcy and the man she ends up marrying. I'm not telling who the man is, for those of you haven't read anything Julie's written. I loved the way that when there is a moment that Marcy's faith is hanging on by a thread, one of two rogues is there to encourage her and help her out. This man also discovers his own faith and the true meaning of redemption.

I read this book for pure pleasure.

Recommended to fans of family drama, Julie Lessman's other books, Laura Frantz

Rating - 4 stars

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Haven't been this excited in a long time

I am so excited! I've not been this excited about the release of a movie in a VERY long time. I think that the last time I was this excited was either Star Wars Episode 3 or one of the Harry Potter movies.

What movie am I talking about that has me over the moon? Well it is the musical phenomen of Les Miserables. If you've not seen the trailer, watch it! In my personal opinion, this movie has Oscars written all over it.

Here is one of the trailers.

I love musicals. I've grown up watching Oklahoma and Sound of Music and others of that era. I own quite a few of these classic musicals on dvd.

I've seen several Broadway musicals. I've seen Grease, Wicked, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and Phantom of the Opera to name a few. I've also seen several movie adaptations of the Broadway shows, though in the case of Grease and Seven Brides I'd seen the movies long before seeing the plays. These movies include Chicago, Rent, Phantom, Mamma Mia, and Hairspray. While I've enjoyed each one, there's something to be said for seeing the show live and onstage.

My obsession with Les Mis came about in college. I'd taken a theatre appreciation class and we watched a video recording of one of the London productions. I fell in love with the music, the story, everything about it at that time. I'm pretty sure that that summer the Liam Neeson version of the film came out and I loved it - even without the music. I didn't get a chance to actually see the musical live for several years. While I kept waiting patiently for it to arrive in Houston, I read an English translation of the book and still loved it. I finally got to see the show live about 8 or 9 years ago and it was all I'd anticipated. I even bought the soundtrack and would find myself jamming to the music while at work (still do). One of the most moving, for me at least, songs/scenes from the show was the song "Empty Chairs." Maybe it was the choreography of how this scene was done onstage. But I remember sitting in the theatre with my friend and when Marius is singing of how his friends and he used to come there, the friends come out and stand behind the chairs. It's just so beautiful. Yet this musical isn't a happy musical like Oklahoma or Show Boat.

The story of Les Mis is really the story of Jean Valjean. Valjean has spent the past 20 years in jail and when he's finally set free he doesn't know any other life. Until a kind bishop sets him on a new path. Over the course of the next several years and decades, Valjean tries to show that he's been redeemed. The one officer, Javert, who has hunted him for years firmly believes that redemption isn't possible for a man like Valjean. Add some students who believe in fighting for the poor and unfortunate, a blossoming love between the girl Valjean's raised as his own daughter and one of the young students, and Valjean finds himself in the midst of a fight for freedom. There will be causalities, but the biggest question is whom.

 Let me recommend the link for the film. I've had fun watching the videos over and over.

Les Miserables film

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Coming in December

Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat. Please put a penny in the old man's hat.

Ok, so that rhyme has been running through my head as I was driving into work the other day. And it's fitting for my "Coming in December" Post.

I did quite a bit of reading in November, at least when I look at all of the reviews I had posted. I FINALLY finished Todd Johnson's Deposit Slip in November. Of course I'd had that one since probably August and it kept being shuffled to the bottom of the pile.

I can guarantee that December will be slow on reviews being posted. At least until after Christmas. That's due to the Christmas projects I have going on. One baby blanket - about 15% done. I'm working on that at work during lunch. 2 scrapbooks - 2% done. They are planned out and I have all of the pictures and paper and fun embellishments, but haven't actually started on them. I'm seeing that my "geekiness" personality is coming out right now. I've blocked out my calendar with what days I will work on the scrapbooks and how many pages I plan to have completed. This is getting worked on during the evenings and weekends. Mom's present. I can't say specifically what it is since she reads my blog and I still want it to be a surprise. But I've gotten over halfway finished with it and hope to spend one evening working on it. I may have to have my best friend help with it when I'm over there. :) Coasters - I made a set of these for my cousin for her birthday and her sister informed me that I was bringing a set up to Waco as my gift for the gift exchange and she was planning on stealing them. I seriously hadn't planned on doing that. But I went ahead and decided to do two sets for the Waco trip and then a set for each of the other Christmas parties I'm going to. These are being worked on at my mom's over the weekend.

Here is what I plan on reading in December.

A Light in the Window - Julie Lessman
One Woman. Two Men.
One stirs her pulse and the other her faith.
But who will win her heart?

Marceline Murphy is a gentle beauty with a well-founded aversion to rogues. But when two of Boston's most notorious pursue her, she encounters a tug-of-war of the heart she isn’t expecting. Sam O’Rourke is the childhood hero she’s pined for, the brother of her best friend and a member of the large, boisterous family to which she longs to be a part. So when his best friend Patrick O’Connor joins in pursuit of her affections, the choice seems all too clear. Sam is from a family of faith and Patrick is not, two rogues whose wild ways clash head-on with Marcy’s—both in her faith and in her heart.

While overseeing the Christmas play fundraiser for the St. Mary’s parish soup kitchen—A Light in the Window—Marcy not only wrestles with her attraction to both men, but with her concern for their spiritual welfare. The play is based on the Irish custom of placing a candle in the window on Christmas Eve to welcome the Holy Family, and for Marcy, its message becomes deeply personal. Her grandmother Mima cautions her to guard her heart for the type of man who will respond to the "light in the window," meaning the message of Christ in her heart. But when disaster strikes during the play, Marcy is destined to discover the truth of the play’s message first-hand when it becomes clear that although two men have professed their undying love, only one has truly responded to “the light in the window.”

Whispers in the Wind - Lauraine Snelling
Book Two in Lauraine Snelling's Exciting Wild West Wind Series

After fleeing North Dakota and the now defunct Wild West Show, Cassie Lockwood and her companions have finally found the hidden valley in South Dakota where her father had dreamed of putting down roots. But to her dismay, she discovers a ranch already built on her land.

Cassie's arrival surprises Mavis Engstrom and forces her to reveal secrets she's kept hidden for years. Her son Ransom is suspicious of Cassie and questions the validity of her claim to the valley. But Lucas Engstrom decides from the start that he is in love with her and wants to marry her.

Will Cassie be able to build a home on the Bar E Ranch and fulfill her father's dream of raising horses, or will she be forced to return to the itinerant life of her past?

Secrets - Robin Jones Gunn (I've read this one several times but get to review it with the new cover)
The Glenbrooke Series

Jessica ran from her past...but can she hide from love?

Jessica Morgan wants desperately to forget the past and begin a new life. She chooses a small, peaceful town tucked away in Oregon’s Willamette Valley as the place to start over—Glenbrooke. Once there, Jessica conceals her identity from the intriguing personalities she meets—including the compassionate paramedic who desires to protect her and the jealous woman who wants nothing more than to destroy her.

Will Jessica’s deceit ruin all hope for the future? Or will she find a deeper peace that allows her to stop hiding the truth from those who love her most of all?

This heartwarming bestseller, book one in the Glenbrooke series, introduces the fascinating people of Glenbrooke in a compelling tale of romance and spiritual truth.

No Safe Harbor - Elizabeth Ludwig
The Thrill of Romantic Suspense Meets the Romance of 1800s America

Lured by a handful of scribbled words across a faded letter, Cara Hamilton sets off from 1896 Ireland on a quest to find the brother she'd thought dead. Her search lands her in America, amidst a houseful of strangers and one man who claims to be a friend--Rourke Walsh.

Despite her brother's warning, Cara decides to trust Rourke and reveals the truth about her purpose in America. But he is not who he claims to be, and as rumors begin to circulate about an underground group of dangerous revolutionaries, Cara's desperation grows. Her questions lead her ever closer to her brother, but they also bring her closer to destruction as Rourke's true intentions come to light.

I am also eagerly anticipating the movie Les Miserables opening on Christmas. More on that in a separate post.

Other things going on in December for me include another wonderful giveaway. If I can locate the books, I'll be giving away two of Cindy Woodsmall's books. Of course I'll be working. Just because it's Christmas doesn't mean I get much time off. Only two days - Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. And my Mary Kay business is always open. I've already got a couple of appointments scheduled with friends who want the new lipsticks that are coming out in December.