A Special Celebration!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

It is so hard for me to believe that I have been blogging for almost a year now! March 3, 2009, was the date of my first blog entry . I have certainly come a long way since then! I've met so many great people through my blog who have been such a blessing to me!

To celebrate one AWESOME year of blogging I'm holding a Blogaversary celebration, March 15-19th! Some of my very favorite Christian fiction authors will be stopping by during the week to help me celebrate and I would love for you to stop by too! Not only will there be great posts featuring some great books but there will be giveaways as well! How awesome is that?! After all what is a party without presents? ;-) On top of all that I will also be giving a gift to one lucky person who comments during the week!

Below is a list of my Blogaversary VIPs who will be guest posting throughout the week! Be sure to click on each authors name to visit their terrific websites! Trust me, they're beautiful and feature a lot of great info about each author and their books plus links to Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc!

Monday, March 15- Janet Dean

Tuesday, March 16- Candace Calvert

Wednesday, March 17- Cerella Sechrist

Thursday, March 18- Laura Frantz

Friday, March 19- Julie Lessman

Be sure to stop by on March 15th for all of the details! I look forward to seeing you all!!!!!
If you would like to help spread the word you can grab my "Blogaversary" button located on the top right sidebar of this blog!

Number One Book on My Wishlist this Year!!!!!!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

My favorite writer and good friend Julie Lessman, author of the Daughters of Boston series is preparing for the debut of the first book in her brand new Winds of Change series, A Hope Undaunted to be released this Fall! I am privileged to share the beautiful cover for what is sure to be a beautiful story! I CAN'T WAIT!!!

Without further ado here's "Katie" on the cover of A Hope Undaunted!!!!!!!

A Hope Undaunted (Winds of Change, Book 1)
by Julie Lessman
Copyright 2010
Revell Publishers
ISBN: 9780800734152
Historical Romance

As the 1920s come to a close, Katie O'Connor epitomizes "the new woman"---smart and sassy with goals that include a law career and the perfect husband. But when she spends the summer of 1929 with childhood nemesis Luke McGee, Katie faces an unexpected choice: commit to her ideal boyfriend, Jake---or the man she's always despised?

Bliss (Happy 101) Award!

Thank you so much to my Blogger friends Katy @ A Few More Pages , Mrs Messi @ Mrs. Messi's Musings! and Bigguysmama @ Woven By Words (AWESOME blogs, you should check them out!) for this totally "sweet" award! XOXOXOXOXO!

The rules for this Bliss (Happy 101) Award are that I must list 10 things that make me happy, then pass it along to 10 other bloggers.

Things I <3

1. Books
2. Blogging
3. Friends
4. Family
5. Mountain Dew
6. Pittsburgh Steelers, Penguins, Panthers, and sometimes the Pirates
7. frappes
8. puppies
9. Mustangs
10. warm weather

Waterbrook Multnomah Value Fiction Blog Tour and Review: Yesterday's Promise (East of the Sun, Book 2) by Linda Lee Chaikin

Monday, February 22, 2010

Yesterday's Promise (East of the Sun, Book 2)
by Linda Lee Chaikin
Copyright 2004, 2010
Waterbrook Press
370 pages
ISBN: 978-0-307-45875-9

From the publisher:
He fought to seek his fortune.
Would he lose a greater treasure: the love he left behind?

As the son of the squire of Grimston Way, aristocrat Rogan Chantry has fought hard to win his independence from Sir Julien Bley and the British South Africa Company. Now, his pursuit of a mysterious deposit of gold, marked on a map willed to him by his murdered uncle, Henry Chantry, is challenged by a new complication: the impending British colonization of South Africa. Can Sir Rogan find the gold in the midst of escalating tensions among the native tribesmen, the missionaries sent to win them, and the new colonists?

Meanwhile, Evy Varley, the woman Rogan loves back in England, is headed for a brave yet dangerous confrontation with Henry’s killer–but at what price? With so much against Rogan and Evy, a reunion seems improbable, if not impossible. Can yesterday’s promise hold them faithful to the hope of future freedom and a victorious love.

My Review:
I first became a fan of author Linda Chaikin when I first read book 1 in the East of the Sun series, Tomorrow's Treasure and ever since I've been wanting to read Yesterday's Promise and Today's Embrace. Thanks to Waterbrook Press re-releasing this series through their Value Fiction line I had the opportunity to FINALLY read Yesterday's Promise.

Yesterday's Promise is the continuing story of Evy Varley and Rogan Chantry as they each seek to find the answers of their pasts so they can move on with their futures. This book like the first is split between 19th century South Africa and England. The scenery in this book is wonderful. I could actually picture the Big Hole, where diamond mining took place as well as the African wilderness. Rogan Chantry is still as roguish as ever and you can't help but cheer him on as he stands up to Julien Bly in his determination to find the late Henry's gold mine. Evy Barley has her own problems back in England and you can't help but wonder if she is ever going to find out who her father really is! Since I have already read Tomorrow's Tresure I already knew who he was but I just wanted everything out in the open! This is more of a whodunit than a romance in my opinion but it is still really good! I can't wait to read Today's Embrace, the conclusion to Rogan and Evy's story!

To learn more about Linda Chaikin and her books visit:

*I received my free review copy from Waterbrook Multnomah.*

Waterbrook Multnomah Value Fiction Blog Tour and Review: Faithful Heart by Al Lacy

Faithful Heart (Angel of Mercy Series, Book 2)
by Al Lacy
Copyright 1995, 2010
Multnomah Publishers
304 pages
ISBN: 9780307458759
Historical Fiction

From the publisher:
Dottie Harper fears for her children's safety. Her husband, Jerrod, is struggling with dementia brought on by shell shock during the Civil War. It's as though there are two Jerrods locked inside him: the tender and loving Christian man she married, and a harsh man given to unpredictable fits of violent rage. Dottie loves her husband with all her heart, and with God's help, she'd determined to remain steadfast.

Dottie's sister, Breanna Baylor, is a certified medical nurse. She's headed west with a wagon train, planning to visit Dottie in California and meet her family for the first time. Along the way, Breanna meets up with wounded soldiers, contagious townspeople, and injured outlaws. Compassionate and highly skilled, she tends to their physical hurts and shares the gospel whenever she can. Little does she know that a life-or-death meeting awaits with her own brother-in-law.

Come alongside these two remarkable sisters, and rejoice in how God takes care of those with faithful hearts.

My Review:
It has been ages since I've read anything by Al Lacy so I was pleasantly surprised when Water Brook Multnomah sent me Faithful Heart as part of their Value Fiction "Grab Bag" Tour. This story continues with the adventures of nurse Breanna Baylor following the years after the Civil War.

The storyline itself was really interesting, dealing with what we now know as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which Dottie Harper's husband, Jerrod is suffering from his service during the Civil War. Some of the terminology that was used to describe Jerrod's condition and what caused it was out of place in this book, at times even the dialogue between the character's seemed to be a bit "modern" to me. However I did like the story and it was a very quick read despite being over 300 pages. The ending was a bit abrupt to me but I guess that can be expected since this is only book 2 in a series of 10 books. It will be interesting to see what happens to Breanna and her sister in the next book, Captive Set Free.

To learn more about Al Lacy and Faithful Heart please visit:
Waterbrook Multnomah

*I received my free review copy from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers.*

Book Review: The Hidden Flame (Acts of Faith, Book 2) by Davis Bunn and Janette Oke

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Hidden Flame (Acts of Faith, Book 2)
by Davis Bunn and Janette Oke
Copyright 2010
Bethany House Publishers
400 pages
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0742-6
Historical Fiction

From the Publisher:
In first-century Judea, the followers of the Way have burgeoned into a vibrant, growing community that cannot be ignored. Jerusalem is in turmoil as its religious leaders on one side, and their Roman rulers on the other, conspire to stamp out the fledgling Church. And Abigail, who thought she had finally found home and safety, is caught between the opposing forces.

Two suitors desire the lovely Abigail's hand in marriage. Ezra, a successful Hebrew merchant and widower with important connections among the Sanhedrin, is looking for a mother for his children. The Roman soldier Linux is fascinated by her winsome charm and possibly could offer the sanctuary--maybe even the love--for which she yearns. But her heart has been captured by neither of these. Will her faith and courage survive a heartbreak beyond comprehension as the followers face a gathering storm of persecution they never could have foreseen?

My Review:
First I should warn you that this is book 2 in the Acts of Faith series, so you may want to read book 1, The Centurion's Wife before you read this one.

The first part of this story was a bit boring and I felt a little detached from the main fictional character, Abigail. The only thing that I really learned about her was that she was an orphan with a younger brother, Jacob. Another thing that I did not like (probably because I'm such a hopeless romantic) was that of the two men vying for Abigail's affection throughout the book neither of them got what they wanted. Despite that however I ended up liking the book. The setting, Jerusalem in AD 33, was very realistic and the maps at the front of the book really helped to solidify the picture in my head. The real people who were also featured in this books Peter, Stephen, and even Saul of Tarsus were just as I always imagined them to be.

If you are interested in reading a fictional account about the early Church and who the first followers of Christ were you will enjoy this book. Although there isn't a whole lot of action or adventure at the beginning of the book, there are some really emotional scenes including the martyrdom of Stephen. I liked The Hidden Flame and recommend it to anyone, male or female, as it has a little bit of everything to interest both.

*I received my complimentary review copy from Bethany House Publishers.*

Teaser Tuesday!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

MizB @ Should Be Reading hosts Teaser Tuesday every week at her blog! This gives everyone the opportunity to share a few lines from a new book they're reading or one of their old favorites.

Here are the rules for Teaser Tuesday!
1. Grab your current read.
2. Let the book fall open to a random page.
3. Share two teaser sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 & 12.
4. Share the title of the book that the “teaser” comes from, so people can find the book if they like the teaser.
5. PLEASE avoid spoilers!!!!!

Today I just received my copy of The Raven Saint from the UPS man so I'm sharing a short teaser that I hope you enjoy!

The Raven Saint (Charles Towne Belles, Book 3)
by MaryLu Tyndall
Copyright 2009
Barbour Publishers
320 pages
ISBN: 978-1-60260-158-1

Teaser from page 176:

'A gentleman does not enter a lady's chamber without knocking, Rafe.'

'I am no gentleman. And this is a cabin aboard
my ship, not a lady's boudoir.'

Be sure to visit Miz B to read more great teasers!!!

Book Review: Swinging on a Star (Weddings by Bella, Book 2) by Janice Thompson

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Swinging on a Star (Weddings By Bella, Book 2)
by Janice Thompson
Copyright 2010
Revell Publishers
336 pages
ISBN: 978-0-8007-33443-8
Contemporary Romance

From the publisher:
There's a fine line between ambitious and crazy.

Bella's just not sure where it is.

Bella Rossi's life is nearing perfection. Not only does she have the perfect guy, but she's also running a successful wedding-planning business and is about to plan its most ambitious wedding yet--a Renaissance-themed fairy tale come true, complete with period costumes and foods, horse-drawn carriages, and even a castle. There's only one hitch. The best man just happens to be Hollywood's hottest and most eligible bachelor, and he's showing an interest in Bella. Oh, and did we mention he's staying at her house to avoid the paparazzi?

With all the pressure surrounding this wedding, Bella's not sure she's going to make it through. Add her starstruck sister and her feuding aunt and uncle, and you've got a recipe for disaster--and a lot of laughs.

My Review:
Swinging on a Star is yet another winner from Janice Thompson! Sometimes the second books in a series can be a let down but that's not the case with this one! With great characters such as the Rossi family, it's very hard not to love this series.

The Rossi clan is at it again, with so many folks living in one house there is bound to be chaos. This book features the same fun characters that we met in Fools Rush In as well as a few great new characters including the hunky Hollywood actor, Brock Benson aka Vinnie. Whew what a hunk he is and a totally nice guy to boot! I hope to see more of him in the future. It's funny to see the Rossi's reaction to Brock and their attempts to keep Brock's identity a secret to keep the neighbors and paparazzi at bay. I'm sure you will laugh out loud like I did. The story is terrific as I've come to expect from Janice. It is great to see an old relationship take a new turn and Bella's relationship with DJ grow.

As a Texan herself it's easy to see that Janice knows what she's writing about. It felt like I was on The Strand and could feel the heat and humidity. That's a tough thing to do, especially since it was 25 degrees when I read Swinging on a Star!

I will definitely be looking for Book 3, It Had to Be You...I can't wait to see how the next wedding turns out! Who knows maybe it will be a double wedding? ;-)

“Available January 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

To learn more about Janice Thompson and her books visit:

*I received my complimentary review copy from Revell.*

Stormy Weather 2010: Part II

Friday, February 12, 2010

Here are some more pictures I took yesterday and today of the icicles outside my window! The first photo was taken yesterday before I broke off some of the biggest pieces. Today when I looked out, the broken icicles were back!!!

Notice the wasp climbing on the icicle in the last pic! He was on the inside of the window but I thought it looked like he was on the icicle! I guess the wasp siting means that Spring will be hear soon...I hope!

Mustang of the Month: 2011 Ford Mustang 5.0

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Yeah, if you're a follower you're probably saying, "Hey she featured the 5.0 last month!" I did, but I love it soooooo much that I had to feature it again...this time with a small article from ford.com!!!!!!!!!

2011 Mustang V8 – The one and only 5.0

Everything you heard about the legendary Mustang 5.0 is true again. With its innovative 32-valve, 5.0–liter V8, the 2011 Mustang 5.0 churns out 412 horses* and lays down 390 lbs.–ft. of torque. And while numbers like these always look good in print, their true character can only be experienced from behind the wheel when your traffic light turns green.

Part of the power story comes from the 5.0 V8’s use of Cam Torque–actuated twin independent variable–cam timing (TiVCT). TiVCT allows variable control of intake and exhaust valve closing, independently, to optimize combustion and performance throughout the engine speed range.

The 5.0 also has a compression ratio of 11:1 and a cylinder head designed to optimize airflow. From the high-energy coil–on plug design, to the cooling jets that allow the pistons to run cool–every part in the engine is designed to work in harmony. This lets the muscular engine breathe efficiently and deliver 100 percent exhilaration every time you hit the gas.

The driving dynamics of Mustang 5.0, with its enhanced six–speed transmission and reconfigured strut and shock tuning, are also designed to enhance the total driving experience. Electronic power–assisted steering (EPAS) puts control and responsiveness directly in the driver’s hands. And the standard limited–slip differential gives you enhanced handling in inclement weather that will surprise and delight you.

No doubt about it, this is a driver’s car.

But Ford’s innovative thinking didn’t stop with power, performance, handling and looks. The 5.0 also manages a projected 25 mpg hwy.**

So, are you ready for the passions that’ll be fueled when you hear the throaty growl of the 5.0’s powerful V8? Well, you’d better be, because the prior Mustang 5.0 built a reputation by leaving anything timid in the dust.

* Horsepower achieved using premium fuel.
**Based on Ford preliminary data. Pending EPA certification

Article and pictures by Ford Motor Company.


Book Review: Two Brides Too Many by Mona Hodgson

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Two Brides Too Many
by Mona Hodgson
Copyright 2009
WaterBrook Press
312 pages
ISBN: 978-0-307-45894-0

From the publisher:
Kat and Nell Sinclair are headed west—away from the manicured lawns of Maine to the boisterous, booming mining town of Cripple Creek, Colorado to start new lives for themselves as mail-order brides.

Aboard the train, romantic dreamer Nell carries a photo of her intended close to her heart and imagines an exciting and love-filled future, while her pragmatic older sister Kat resigns herself to marriage as a duty, not a delight.

But when the ladies disembark at the train depot, neither fiancĂ© Patrick Maloney or Judson Archer awaits them with open arms. The well-bred Sinclair sisters find themselves unexpectedly alone in the wild, frontier town—a place where fire threatens to reduce the buildings to rubble, the working women strut the streets, rogues will gamble for the shoes on one’s feet, and God’s grace is found amongst the most unlikely of folks.

My Review:
Mail order bride stories are some of my very favorite romances. Mona Hodgon's first venture into writing fiction for the older reader is just that type of novel and I really enjoyed it. Kat and Nell Sinclair the two sisters around whom this story is centered are young, beautiful girls who only become mail order brides after their father learns he lost his job.

In the beginning, the story seemed a little rushed, the girls learned they would be leaving their home to be mail order brides, they couldn't find their fiancés, and they had to deal with a fire. I found it rather hard to believe that a father would leave his family without even trying to find another job that would allow him to stay with his family but I got past that. Once they were settled in Cripple Creek I really started to like the story. The townsfolk were interesting including the rather crusty old man, Boney, who become a friend and great help to the Sinclair sisters and the darling little orphan, Rosita, who captured everyone's hearts.

The story ended how I thought it would but all in all it was a nice, quick read, that I recommend to anyone who likes a Christian romance that isn't too preachy and a mail order bride story. I look forward to reading the next book from Ms. Hodgson, Too Rich for a Bride later this year!

NOTE: This book is only available at your local WalMart store but will be available in May 2010 from other retailers!

To learn more about Mona Hodgson and her books visit:

*I received this book from the author through Keli Gwyn's giveaway @ her website!*

Waiting on Wednesday: Surrender the Sea (Surrender to Destiny Series, Book 1) by Marylu Tyndall

Jill over @ Breaking the Spine hosts a weekly meme that features one book that you can't wait to be released! Be sure to stop buy to see what she and other readers can't wait to get their hands on!!!

I love a good high seas adventure and MaryLu Tyndall never disappoints! I'm so excited for the first book in her upcoming Surrender to Destiny series, Surrender the Sea.

Surrender the Sea (Surrender to Destiny, Book 1)
by Marylu Tyndall
Copyright 2010
Barbour Publishing
320 pages
ISBN: 978-1602601659
Historical Fiction/Romance

From CBD.com:
For the sake of her ailing mother, Constance Denton becomes engaged to Jonah Brennin---a merchantman she despises. But as the War of 1812 escalates, Jonah's ship is captured by the British, and the ill-matched couple learns vital information that could aid America's cause. As they battle to save their country, will they also find love?

Available late Summer 2010!

Book Review: The Apothecary's Daughter by Julie Klassen

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Apothecary's Daughter
by Julie Klassen
Copyright 2008
Bethany House Publishers
416 pages
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0480-7
Historical Fiction

From the publisher:
Lilly Haswell remembers everything—whether she wants to, or not....

As Lilly toils in her father's apothecary, preparing herbs and remedies by rote, she is haunted by memories of her mother's disappearance. Villagers whisper the tale, but her father refuses to discuss it. All the while, she dreams of the world beyond—of travel and adventure and romance.

When a relative offers to host her in London, Lilly discovers the pleasures and pitfalls of fashionable society and suitors, as well as clues about her mother. But will Lilly find what she is searching for—the truth of the past and a love for the future?

Blending romance, family drama, and fascinating historical detail, The Apothecary's Daughter is a novel to savor and share.

My Review:
After reading Julie Klassen's latest release, The Silent Governess (my review HERE), I was thrilled to be able to get my hands on a copy of last years book, The Apothecary's Daughter. Let me say if you are a fan of Regency fiction you will really enjoy this! Julie Klassen is such a wonderful writer.

Ms. Klassen knows how to take you back to 19th century London and the surrounding countryside of Bedsley Priors. The sites, smells, and surroundings of the apothecary shops and the coffee shop made me feel as if I were there myself. The character descriptions are just as good. I felt like I knew Lilly, her friends and her charming little brother, Charlie. I also learned to like her Aunt and Uncle despite their seeming unkindness towards Lilly's brother because of his disability, they really cared for Lilly and wanted to make a good life for her.

The story itself flowed nicely, however I was a little confused as to what part Lilly's mothers disappearance had to do with the book as a whole. There were some twists and turns at the end that I was not expecting in the least and at one point I was on the verge of tears. Really The Apothecary's Daughter was an all around good story and I can't wait to see what comes next from the pen of Julie Klassen!

For more information on Julie and her books visit:

*I received this book through Bookmooch, a book swapping site.*

Stormy Weather 2010!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Here are a few pictures that I took from my back yard after it FINALLY stopped snowing. Even though the snow is a pain and inhibits everyday activities such as shopping, visiting, and going to the post office to mail out and pick up books it sure is a pretty site!


My Favorite Super Bowl XLIV Commercials!

This year I was kind of disappointed in the Super Bowl ads but there were a few that made me laugh out loud! Here are my top 3!

#3: Doritos "Underdog"

#2 Bridgestone Tires

It was a really tough choice but my FINAL decision for my favorite 2010 Super Bowl XLIV Commercial was...

#1 truTV "Punxsutawney Polamolu!!!"

First Wildcard Tour: Katy's New World (Book 1, The Katy Lambright series) by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Friday, February 5, 2010

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Katy’s New World (The Katy Lambright Series)

Zondervan (February 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Bridgette Brooks of Zondervan for sending me a review copy.***


Bestselling, award-winning author Kim Vogel Sawyer wears many hats besides “writer.” As a wife, mother, grandmother, and active participant in her church, her life is happily full. But Kim’s passion lies in writing stories of hope that encourage her readers to place their lives in God’s capable hands. An active speaking ministry assists her with her desire. Kim and her husband make their home on the beautiful plains of Kansas, the setting for many of Kim’s novels.

Visit the author's AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Like wisps of smoke that upward flee,
Disappearing on the breeze,
Days dissolving one by one . . .
Time stands still for no one.

Katy Lambright stared at the neatly written lines in her journal and crinkled her brow so tightly her forehead hurt. She rubbed the knot between her eyebrows with her fingertip. What was wrong? Ah, yes. Two uses of “one” on the final lines. She stared harder, tapping her temple with the eraser end of her pencil. What would be a better ending?

She whispered, “Time’s as fleeting as the —”


Just like the poem stated, her thought dissipated like a wisp of smoke. Dropping her pencil onto the journal page, she smacked the book closed and dashed to the top of the stairs. “What?”

Dad stood at the bottom with his hand on the square newel post, looking up. “It’s seven fifteen. You’ll miss your bus if we don’t get going.”
Katy’s stomach turned a rapid somersault. Maybe she shouldn’t have fixed those rich banana-pecan pancakes for breakfast. But she’d wanted Dad to have a special breakfast this morning. It was a big day for him. And for her. Mostly for her. “I’ll be right down.”

She grabbed her sweater from the peg behind her bedroom door. No doubt today would be like any other late-August day —unbearably hot —but the high school was air conditioned. She might get cold. So she quickly folded the made-by-Gramma sweater into a rough bundle and pushed it into the belly of the backpack waiting in the little nook at the head of the stairs.

The bold pink backpack presented a stark contrast to her simple sky blue dress. A smile tugged at the corners of her lips, while at the same time a twinge of uncertainty wiggled its way through her stomach. She’d never used a backpack before. Annika Gehring, her best friend since forever, had helped her pack it with notebooks and pencils and a brand-new protractor—all the things listed on the supply sheet from the high school in Salina. They had giggled while organizing the bag, making use of each of its many pockets.

Katy sighed. A part of her wished that Annika was coming to high school and part of her was glad to be going alone. If she made a fool of herself, no one from the Mennonite fellowship would be there to see. And as much as she loved Annika, whatever the girl saw she reported.

“Katy-girl!” Dad’s voice carried from the yard through the open windows.

Would Dad ever drop that babyish nickname? If he called her Katy-girl in front of any of the high school kids, she’d die from embarrassment. “I’m coming!” She yanked up the backpack and pushed her arms through the straps. The backpack’s tug on her shoulders felt strange and yet exhila-rating. She ran down the stairs, the ribbons from her mesh headcovering fluttering against her neck and the backpack bouncing on her spine —one familiar feeling and one new feeling, all at once. The combination almost made her dizzy. She tossed the backpack onto the seat of her dad’s blue pickup and climbed in beside it. As he pulled away from their dairy farm onto the dirt road that led to the highway, she rolled down the window. Dust billowed behind the tires, drifting into the cab. Katy coughed, but she hugged her backpack to her stomach and let the morning air hit her full in the face. She loved the smell of morning, before the day got so hot it melted away the fresh scent of dew.

The truck rumbled past the one-room schoolhouse where Katy had attended first through ninth grades. Given the early hour, no kids cluttered the schoolyard. But in her imagination she saw older kids pushing little kids on the swings, kids waiting for a turn on the warped teeter-totter, and Caleb Penner chasing the girls with a wiggly earthworm and making them scream. Caleb had chased her many times, waving an earthworm or a fat beetle. He’d never made her scream, though. Bugs didn’t bother Katy. She only feared a few things. Like tornadoes. And people leaving and not coming back.

A sigh drifted from Dad’s side of the seat. She turned to face him, noting his somber expression. Dad always looked serious. And tired. Running the dairy farm as well as a household without the help of a wife had aged him. For a moment guilt pricked at Katy’s conscience. She was supposed to stay home and help her family, like all the other Old Order girls when they finished ninth grade.

But the familiar spiral of longing —to learn more, to see what existed outside the limited expanse of Schell-berg—wound its way through her middle. Her fingernails bit into the palms of her hands as she clenched her fists. She had to go. This opportunity, granted to no one else in her little community, was too precious to squander.

“Dad?” She waited until he glanced at her. “Stop worrying.”

His eyebrows shot up, meeting the brim of his billed cap. “I’m not worrying.”

“Yes, you are. You’ve been worrying all morning. Wor-rying ever since the deacons said I could go.” Katy under-stood his worry.

She’d heard the speculative whispers when the Menno-nite fellowship learned that Katy had been granted permis-sion to attend the high school in Salina: “Will she be Kath-leen’s girl through and through?” But she was determined to prove the worriers wrong. She could attend public school, could be with worldly people, and still maintain her faith. Hadn’t she been the only girl at the community school to face Caleb’s taunting bugs without flinching? She was strong.

She gave Dad’s shoulder a teasing nudge with her fist. “I’ll be all right, you know.”

His lips twitched. “I’m not worried about you, Katy-girl.”

He was lying, but Katy didn’t argue. She never talked back to Dad. If she got upset with him, she wrote the words in her journal to get them out of her head, and then she tore the page into tiny bits and threw the pieces away. She’d started the practice shortly after she turned thirteen.

Before then, he’d never done anything wrong. Sometimes she wondered if he’d changed or she had, but it didn’t mat-ter much. She didn’t like feeling upset with him —he was all she had —so she tried to get rid of her anger quickly.

They reached the highway, and Dad parked the pickup on the shoulder. He turned the key, and the engine splut-tered before falling silent. Dad aimed his face out his side window, his elbow propped on the sill. Wind whistled through the open windows and birds trilled a morning song from one of the empty wheat fields that flanked the pickup. The sounds were familiar—a symphony of nature she’d heard since infancy—but today they carried a poi-gnancy that put a lump in Katy’s throat.

Why had she experienced such a strange reaction to wind and birds? She would explore it in her journal before she went to bed this evening. Words —secretive whispers, melodious trill—cluttered her mind. Maybe she’d write a poem about it too, if she wasn’t too tired from her first day at school.

Cars crested the gentle rise in the black-topped high-way and zinged by—sports cars and big SUVs, so differ-ent from the plain black or blue Mennonite pickups and sedans that filled the church lot on Sunday mornings in Schellberg. When would the big yellow bus appear? Katy had been warned it wouldn’t be able to wait for her. Might it have come and gone already? Her stomach fluttered as fear took hold.

Dad suddenly whirled to face her. “Do you have your lunch money?”

She patted the small zipper pocket on the front of the backpack. “Right here.” She hunched her shoulders and giggled. “It feels funny not to carry a lunchbox.” For as far back as she could remember, Katy had carried a lunch she’d packed for herself since she didn’t have a mother to do it for her.

“Yes, but you heard the lady in the school office.” Dad drummed his fingers on the steering wheel. “She said the kids at this school eat in the cafeteria or go out to eat.”

Embarrassment crept over Katy as she remembered the day they’d visited the school. When the secretary told Dad about the school lunch program, he’d insisted on reading the lunch menu from beginning to end before agreeing to let his daughter eat “school-made food.”

Truthfully, the menu had looked more enticing than her customary peanut butter sandwich, but Dad had acted as though he thought someone might try to poison her. She’d filled three pages, front and back, in her journal over the incident before tearing the well-scribbled pages into min-iscule bits of litter. But —satisfaction welled—Dad had purchased a lunch ticket after all.

The wind tossed the satin ribbons dangling from the mesh cap that covered her heavy coil of hair. They tickled her chin. She hooked the ribbons in the neck of her dress and then brushed dust from the skirt of her homemade dress. An errant thought formed. I’m glad I’ll be eating cafeteria food like a regular high school kid. It might be only way I don’t stick out.

Dad cleared his throat. “There she comes.”

The school bus rolled toward them. The sun glared off the wide windshield, nearly hiding the monstrous vehicle from view. Katy threw her door open and stepped out, carrying the backpack on her hip as if it were one of her toddler cousins. She sucked in a breath of dismay when Dad met her at the hood of the pickup and reached for her hand.

“It’s okay, Dad.” She smiled at him even though her stomach suddenly felt as though it might return those ba-nana-pecan pancakes at any minute. “I can get on okay.”
The bus’s wide rubber tires crunched on the gravel as it rolled to a stop at the intersection. Giggles carried from in-side the bus when Dad walked Katy to the open door. Katy cringed, trying discreetly pull her hand free, but Dad kept hold and gave the bus driver a serious look.

“This is my daughter, Katy Lambright.”

“Kathleen Lambright,” Katy corrected. Hadn’t she told Dad she wanted to be Kathleen at the new school instead of the childish Katy? Dad wasn’t in favor, and Katy knew why. She would let him continue to call her Katy—or Katy-girl, the nickname he’d given her before she was old enough to sit up—but to the Outside, she was Kathleen.
Dad frowned at the interruption, but he repeated, “Kathleen Lambright. She is attending Salina High North.”

The driver, an older lady with soft white hair cut short and brushed back from her rosy face, looked a little bit like Gramma Ruthie around her eyes. But Gramma would never wear blue jeans or a bright yellow polka-dotted shirt. One side of the driver’s mouth quirked up higher than the other when she smiled, giving her an impish look. “Well, come on aboard, Katy Kathleen Lambright. We have a schedule to keep.”

Another titter swept through the bus. Dad leaned to-ward Katy, as if he planned to hug her good-bye. Katy ducked away and darted onto the bus. When she glanced back, she glimpsed the hurt in Dad’s eyes, and guilt hit her hard. This day wasn’t easy for him. She spun to dash back out and let him hug her after all, but the driver pulled a lever that closed the door, sealing her away from her father.

Suddenly the reality of what she was doing —leaving the security of her little community, her dad, and all that was familiar—washed over her, and for one brief moment she wanted to claw the doors open and dive into the refuge of Dad’s arms, just as she used to do when she was little and frightened by a windstorm.

“Have a seat, Kathleen,” the driver said.

Through the window, Katy watched Dad climb back into the pickup. His face looked so sad, her heart hurt. She felt a sting at the back of her nose —a sure sign that tears were coming. She sniffed hard.

“You’ve got to sit down, or we can’t go.” Impatience colored the driver’s tone. She pushed her foot against the gas pedal, and the bus engine roared in eagerness. More giggles erupted from the kids on the bus.

“I’m sorry, ma’am.” Katy quickly scanned the seats. Most of them were already filled with kids. The passen-gers all looked her up and down, some smirking, and some staring with their mouths hanging open. She could imagine them wondering what she was doing on their bus. She’d be the first Mennonite student to attend one of the Salina schools. She lifted her chin. Well, they’ll just have to get used to me.
Katy ignored the gawks and searched faces. She had hoped to sit with someone her own age, but none of the kids looked to be more than twelve or thirteen. Finally she spotted an open seat toward the middle on the right. She dropped into it, sliding the backpack into the empty space beside her.

The bus jolted back onto the highway with a crunch of tires on gravel. The two little girls in the seat in front of Katy turned around and stared with round, wide eyes. Katy smiled, but they didn’t smile back. So she raised her eyebrows high and waggled her tongue, the face she used to get her baby cousin Trent to stop crying. The little girls made the same face back, giggled, and turned forward again.
Throughout the bus, kids talked and laughed, at ease with each other. Katy sat alone, silent and invisible. The bus bounced worse than Dad’s pickup, and her stomach felt queasier with each mile covered. She swallowed and swallowed to keep the banana-pecan pancakes in place. Think about something else . . .

High school. Her heart fluttered. Public high school. A smile tugged on the corners of her lips. Classes like botany and music appreciation and literature. Literature . . .

When she’d shown Annika the list of classes selected for her sophomore year at Salina High North, Annika had shaken her head and made a face. “They sound hard. Why do you want to study more anyway? You’re weird, Katy.”

Remembering her friend’s words made her nose sting again. Annika had been Katy’s best friend ever since the first grade when the teacher plunked them together on a little bench at the front of the schoolroom, but despite their lengthy and close friendship, Annika didn’t understand Katy.

Katy stared out the window, biting her lower lip and fighting an uncomfortable realization. Katy didn’t under-stand herself. A ninth grade education seemed to satisfy everyone else in her community, so why wasn’t it enough for her?

Why were questions always swirling through her brain? She could still hear her teacher’s voice in her memory: “Katy, Katy, your many questions make me tired.” Why did words mean so much to her? None of her Menno-nite friends had to write their thoughts in a spiral-bound notebook to keep from exploding. Katy couldn’t begin to explain why. And she knew, even without asking, that was what scared Dad the most. She shook her head, hug-ging her backpack to her thudding heart. He didn’t need to be worried. She loved Dad, loved being a Mennonite girl, loved Schellberg and its wooden chapel of fellowship where she felt close to God and to her neighbors. Besides, the deacons had been very clear when they gave her permission to attend high school. If she picked up worldly habits, attending school would come to an abrupt and per-manent end.

A prayer automatically winged through her heart: God, guide me in this learning, but keep me humble. Help me remember what Dad read from Your Word last night during our prayer time: that a man profits nothing if he gains the world but loses his soul.
The bus pulled in front of the tan brick building that she and Dad had visited two weeks earlier when they enrolled her in school. On that day, the campus had been empty except for a few cars and two men in blue uniforms standing in the shade of a tall pine tree, smoking ciga-rettes. Dad had hurried her right past them. Today, how-
ever, the parking lot overflowed with vehicles in a variety of colors, makes, and models. People—people her age, not like the kids on the school bus —stood in little groups all over the grassy yard, talking and laughing.

Katy stared out the window, her mouth dry. Most of the students had backpacks, but none sporting bold colors like hers. Their backpacks were Mennonite-approved colors: dark blue, green, and lots and lots of black. Should she have selected a plain-colored backpack? Aunt Rebecca had clicked her tongue at Katy’s choice, but the pink one was so pretty, so different from her plain dresses . . . Her hands started to shake.

“Kathleen?” The bus driver turned backward in her seat. “C’mon, honey, scoot on off. I got three more stops to make.”

Katy quickly slipped her arms through the backpack’s straps and scuttled off the bus. The door squealed shut behind her, and the bus pulled away with a growl and a thick cloud of strong-smelling smoke. Katy stood on the sidewalk, facing the school. She twisted a ribbon from her cap around her finger, wondering where she should go. The main building? That seemed a logical choice. She took one step forward but then froze, her skin prickling with awareness.

All across the yard, voices faded. Faces turned one-by-one—a field of faces —all aiming in her direction. She heard a shrill giggle—her own. Her response to nervousness.

Then, as suddenly as it had begun, the pull on the other kids faded. They turned back to their own groups as if she no longer existed. With a sigh, she resumed her progress toward the main building, turning sideways to ease between groups, sometimes bumping people with her backpack, mumbling apologies and flashing shy smiles. She’d worked her way halfway across the yard when an ear-piercing clang filled the air. The fine hairs on her arms prickled, and she stopped as suddenly as if she’d slammed into the solid brick wall of the school building.

The other kids all began moving, flinging their back-packs over one shoulder and pushing at one another. Katy got swept along with the throng, jostled and bumped like everyone else. Her racing heartbeat seemed to pound a message: This is IT! This is IT! High school!

Read my review HERE!

Blog Tour and Book Review: Katy's New World (Book 1, Katy Lambright Series) by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Katy's New World (Book 1, Katy Lambright series)
by Kim Vogel Sawyer
Copyright 2010
208 pages
Teen Fiction

From the publisher:
When Katy Lambright is given the opportunity to attend a secular high school outside her Mennonite community, she is ecstatic. But as Katy begins to adjust to life outside her community and begins to make decisions for herself, her relationships with her family and lifelong friends become strained. Can Katy balance her new world with the Old Order?

My Review:
I've read a lot of books by Kim Vogel Sawyer but this is the first YA book of her's that I've read but it won't be the last. Even though it is a book about a young Mennonite girl I think a lot of teens will be able to relate to what she has to deal with in this book. Some of the themes include, making new friends, fitting in, and standing up for your beliefs while accepting people whose faith may be a bit different from yours.

Katy Lambright, the main character has to grow up in a single parent home since her mother abandoned her and her father and later died when Katy was very young. Even though farm life and working at her family's quilt shop keeps her busy she still longs for a higher education that is not typical for a Mennonite teen. When she is given permission to attend a public high school she must learn to deal with being the outsider among not only the students in school but her own friends in the Mennonite community who are having a hard time understanding Katy's desire for more learning.

I think Kim Vogel Sawyer does a really wonderful job in making Katy easy to relate to even though she is Mennonite. The secondary characters including her new friends at school are pretty realistic too! At first they treated her like an outsider but once they got used to her and realized that maybe she wasn't so "different" after all, they came around. The ending of this book seemed a bit abrupt but I realize that this is just the first book in a continuing series so hopefully everything plays out for Katy and her friends and family.

To learn more about Kim Vogel Sawyer and her books visit:

*I received my complimentary review copy from Bridgette Brooks @ Zondervan.*

Book Review: Thicker than Blood by C.J. Darlington

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Thicker than Blood
by C.J. Darlington
January 2010
Tyndale Pblishers
385 pages
ISBN: 978-1-4143-3448-6

From the publisher:
Christy Williams finally has her life on track. She’s putting her past behind her and working hard to build a career as an antiquarian book buyer. But things begin to unravel when a stolen Hemingway first edition is found in her possession, framing her for a crime she didn’t commit. With no one to turn to, she yearns for her estranged younger sister, May, whom she abandoned after their parents’ untimely deaths. Soon, Christy’s fleeing from her shattered dreams, her ex-boyfriend, and God. Could May’s Triple Cross Ranch be the safe haven she’s searching for? Will the sisters realize that each possesses what the other desperately needs before it’s too late?

My Review:
WOW! All I can say is wow! I can not believe that this is CJ Darlington's first book, it is that good! I started it a few days ago and had to set it aside but once I picked it up again today to read I could not put it down. It is highly unusual for me to be so engrossed in a book that is not a romance. I'm embarrassed to admit it but facts are facts.

Christy Williams, the main character is terrific. She's flawed. She smokes, she drinks, and she has a past not unlike a lot of people today. She's not by any means perfect. Her sister, May who Christy thinks is probably perfect but is far from it has to deal with her older sisters abandonment and the struggle with forgiveness. And the secondary characters especially Jim and Vince really add to this story! Just because I said that they add to the story doesn't necessarily mean that they are good people by any means! One is but one isn't, you'll have to read to find out who and when you do you he will give you the shivers just like he did me. It's not too often I can say that about a character in a book but I'm saying it now.

DEFINITELY read Thicker than Blood if you like Christian fiction. You will be missing out on a terrific story if you don't read it. It has a very strong faith message, if you don't like that kind of thing you might not like this book.

To learn more about CJ Darlington visit:

*I received my free copy from the publisher, Tyndale through their review program.*

Waiting on Wednesday: Wildflower Bride (Book 3, Montana Marriages) By Mary Connealy

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Jill over @ Breaking the Spine hosts a weekly meme that features one book that you can't wait to be released! This week Jill's pick is Every Last One by Anna Quindlen, click HERE to check it out and to see links to what others are waiting on!

Even though I haven't got a copy of The Husband Tree (Book 2, Montana Marriages) I'm really excited for book 3, Wildflower Bride! It's about a reformed bad boy, Wade Sawyer, who we met in the first book, Montana Rose! I just love a "good" bad boy :-P

Wildflower Bride (Book 3, Montana Marriages)
by Mary Connealy
Copyright 2010
320 pages
Barbour Books
ISBN: 9781602601444

From the publisher:
Welcome to the wilds of Montana, where humor, romance, and suspense ride the range. Glowing Sun, a white woman raised by the Flathead tribe, has vague memories of her former life, including a name—Abby Lind. When she’s forced to sever all links with her adopted Shoshone family, Abby wonders if she’ll ever find a home again. Tenderhearted Wade Sawyer, responsible for Abby’s survival during the village massacre, convinces the knife-wielding woman to return with him to the Sawyer Ranch, never realizing danger lurks behind every corner. Can they survive long enough to fall in love?

Available Spring 2010!!!!!


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

And the winner of the signed copy of Love Finds You in Hershey, Pennsylvania by Cerella Sechrist and other goodies is...

Stephanie Lynn!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Stephanie has be contacted and has 48 hours to get her address info to me so I can forward it to Cerella! If she doesn't respond I will choose another winner using random.org!

Remember, Love Finds You in Hershey Pennsylvania is on sale NOW! Go out and get yourself a copy! If you do, you're in for a real treat! You can also visit Cerella's site and check out her contests section to read about other giveaways going on now!

Blog Tour and Book Review: Winter's Awakening (Seasons of Sugarcreek, Book 1) by Shelley Shepard Gray

Winter's Awakening (Seasons of Sugarcreek, Book 1)
by Shelley Shepard Gray

Copyright 2010
Avon Inspire
298 pages
ISBN: 978-0-06-185222-0

From the publisher:
Joshua Graber knows his future is set. He′s expected to work at his family business, the Graber Country Store. He′s expected to marry Gretta Hershberger, who he′s been courting for several years. But when a new English family moves next door and their lovely teenage daughter, Lilly Allen, catches his eye, Joshua wonders if all the plans for his future are too set in stone.

Gretta doesn′t know what′s going on with Joshua. When they argue and later stew in silence, it feels a lot like the frosty atmosphere at her home. After promising herself to never have a marriage like her parents, she wonders if perhaps another man might be a better match. A man such as Roland Schrock. He′s steady and kind and somewhat boring. If she marries him, she won′t ever have to worry about loving him and getting hurt.

Meanwhile, Lilly is enamored with the Amish way of life, and especially her handsome neighbor Joshua. But despite being drawn to him, she has a secret that will only drive him away. Her family moved to Sugarcreek to hide her pregnancy from their community back home. Once she′s had the baby, they plan to send her off to college without anyone from their old neighborhood knowing the truth. But as Lilly becomes wrapped up in the simplicity and graciousness of the Amish people, she begins to question what′s expected of her, and whether giving up her baby, and leaving Sugarcreek, is what she truly wants.

As the coldest winter on record blows into Sugarcreek, these three young people must struggle to determine the path of their futures.

My Review:
I'll admit I was a little nervous headed into this book as I've only finished reading one of Shelley Shepard Gray's books, Hidden her first Amish fiction book. I tried to read Book 2, Wanted, but I never got past the first few chapters. However, Winter's Awakening was a good book. I liked the idea of Amish and English teens who become friends and was interested to see where the author took it. I was a little bit frustrated with the English family, the Allens, moving because their unmarried teen daughter, Lilly became pregnant, it seemed a little 1950s for me but I got past that and started to enjoy the book.

Ms. Shepard Gray explored the theme of unlikely friendships and family relationships while showing the reader how very similar seemingly different cultures could be. The main characters Lilly, Joshua, and Gretta were all 20 years or younger so I'm not sure if older readers will be able to relate to this book. Older teens and young adults however, I think will like Winter's Awakening. I'm not sure if Book 2, Spring's Renewal, is going to include any more of Lilly's story or not, I really hope so because it will be interesting to see how she deals with her pregnancy and raising her child.

If you enjoy your everyday, run of the mill Amish story with a bit of a twist you will probably like this story. It's a super fast read so there's not as much detail and in depth story telling as I would have liked but if you want a quick Sunday afternoon read, pick up Winter's Awakening.

For more info on Shelley Shepard Gray and her books visit:

* Thanks to Trish @ TLC Book Tours for recommending this book and Stephanie @ Harper Collins for sending me my free review copy.*

Mailbox Monday!

Monday, February 1, 2010


Every week Marcia @ The Printed Page hosts Mailbox Monday. This is the chance for you to showcase all the great reads that you have received during the past week. Also it gives you an opportunity to check out what great books others received too! Be sure you stop by Marcia's page...you never know, you might get some ideas for your wishlist!

For Review:

Thicker than Blood by CJ Darlington
The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen
The Hidden Flame (Acts of Faith, Book 2) by Davis Bunn and Janette Oke
Swinging on a Star (Weddings by Bella, Book 2) by Janice Thompson
Katy's New World (The Katy Lambright Series, Book 1)by Kim Vogel Sawyer
Winter's Awakening (Seasons of Sugarcreek, Book 1) by Shelley Shepard Gray

Songbird Under a German Moon by Tricia Goyer
Sons of Thunder by Susan May Warren

From Bookmooch:

Silent in the Sanctuary by Deanna Raybourn
The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet by Colleen McCullough
My Soul to Save by Rachel Vincent
Prairie Wife by Cheryl St. John
The Preacher's Daughter by Cheryl St. John
The Bride Wore Coveralls by Debra Ullrick

A Vote of Confidence (Sisters of Bethlehem Springs, Book 1) by Robin Lee Hatcher
When Love Blooms by Robin Lee Hatcher
Until We Reach Home by Lynn Austin
The Redemption (Legacy of the King's Pirates, Book 1) by ML Tyndall

Books I won:

Love Finds You in North Pole, Alaska by Loree Lough
Love Finds You in Lonesome Prairie, Montana by Tricia Goyer and Ocieanna Fleiss
Cowgirl at Heart (McCord Sisters, Book 2) by Christine Lynxwiler
Wind Dancer by Jamie Carie

Movie I Wanna See: The Wolfman

Check out the trailer for The Wolfman starring: Benicio del Toro, Emily Blunt, Anthony Hopkins, and Hugo Weaving. Looks good huh? I'm sooo there!