Review (YA Fiction): Percival's Angel by Anne Eliot Crompton

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Percival's Angel
by Anne Eliot Crompton
Copyright 1999, 2011
Sourcebooks Fire
234 pages
ISBN: 978-1-4022-3784-3
Young Adult Fiction

From the publisher:
Lili, an apprentice of the Lady of the Lake, is the childhood friend of Percy, the boy who will become one of Arthur’s greatest knights. But as they grow older, Lili begins to see their differences. She has otherworldly magic while he has the magic that lives within the Human Heart. Lili dreams of knowing human love while Percy dreams of finding the Holy Grail. Neither can succeed without the other.

My Review:
I did not enjoy this author's style of writing. I did like the story but the broken sentences and dialog were very hard to follow. I found myself having to go back and re-read too many sentences to enjoy this story as I felt I could have if it were easier to read. The relationship between the two characters, Percival (human) and Lili (Fey) was indescribable. I didn't know if they were real friends or just two companions on a journey and I definitely didn't see a love story here so the ending didn't make much sense to me. I love the cover and the characters are interesting to say the least but this just wasn't my type of story. If you're a fan of the Arthurian Legend you may enjoy this different twist.

Content Note: Some strong language and mild sexual content.

To learn more about this series visit:
Sourcebooks

*I received my complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for posting my thoughts on the book.*

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Clash of the Titles Winner: The Green Veil by Naomi Musch

Monday, April 25, 2011






Naomi Musch and the opening paragraphs from her historical novel, The Green Veil.




CONGRATULATIONS, NAOMI!




Naomi takes the title in her clash against the very worthy runner-up, Karen Baney, author of A Dream Unfolding.




A snippet from Naomi's winning passage:


Pain seared Colette's temples, neck, and shoulders. Behind her eyelids, everything blazed like a powder keg of dynamite going off inside her. Explosions roared and blasts glared - red, and now and then a streak of hot white. She stirred on the bed, and her satin dress rustled.




Naomi says her best ideas come from overlooked portions of history she stumbles upon and in The Green Veil those include lumberjacks, land barons, and mill owners racing to control the pine lands in 1840s Wisconsin Territory. To read more about the book and find out what her favorite reads of the last year were, check out her interview ith COTT's Senior Editor April Gardner here.




What did readers have to say? A few comments from our voters:






"Excerpt A grabbed my heart. I found myself hurting for Colette, wishing there was something I could do to save her from her plight. Beautiful work."






"I wished I could pick both. I chose A simply because of the references to the book of Esther, one of my favorite accounts in the Bible."





"Wow, I really enjoyed that pine book."






Naomi responded to her win:
Oh WOW! Thank you to everyone at COTT for allowing me to be part of this month's clash, and for all those who stopped by and voted for either mine or Karen's book. What a way to start the Easter weekend!
There are two more Opening Hooks to vote on this week, so head over to Clash of the Titles and let your voice be heard! A free copy of each competing book will be given away to two lucky readers--you can increase your odds by voting, commenting, sharing our link, or joining our Blog Alliance. Tell us whose blog sent you here to give them an extra entry too!




Have fun!

bio: Michelle Massaro is a homeschooling mom and aspiring novelist, as well as Assistant Editor for the literary website Clash of the Titles . Connect with her on twitter @MLMassaro, facebook, and her blog Adventures in Writing

Review (Christian Fiction): The Dawn of a Dream (At Home in Beldon Grove, Book 3) by Ann Shorey

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Dawn of a Dream (At Home in Beldon Grove, Book 3)
by Ann Shorey
Copyright 2011
Revell Books
352 pages
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3334-6
Historical Fiction

From the publisher:
Her dream is within her grasp--but can she leave her past behind?

Luellen O'Connell is stunned when her husband of just one month tells her he is leaving--and his reason devastates her. Deeply wounded by his betrayal, Luellen decides to follow her dream to become a teacher, a desire she had set aside when she married. But can she truly hide her past? Or will it destroy her ambitions forever?

A moving story of tenacity and perseverance, The Dawn of a Dream will inspire you to discover and follow your own dreams.


My Review:
Marry in haste, repent at leisure has never been more truthful than for Luellen O'Connell. Stunned at the sudden departure of her husband of one month, she has no choice but to try and make a life for herself on her own. Upon yet another stunning revelation her life as a student at the Allenwood Normal School and her future as a teacher are in jeopardy. With her faith and some newfound friends Luellen discovers that dreams still can come true.

As a follower of this series I'll admit that I wasn't expecting a story like this at all. I was pleasantly surprised by the fresh spin that Ms. Shorey took with the direction of The Dawn of a Dream. I enjoyed it from the first page and if I'm being completely honest I hadn't really done so with the other books in the At Home in Beldon Grove series. First things first, I was rather shocked at the first chapter and kept thinking, "Wow! I didn't see that coming!" The second thing I noticed is our heroine wears spectacles! In romance generally the heroines have hourglass figures, perfect hair or stunning eyes so the fact that Luellen sports eyeglasses caught my attention. To me, little details add to the richness of a story.

The Dawn of a Dream will definitely take you on an emotional roller-coaster of a ride. There's shock and surprise, sadness and joy, rejection and redemption. There are so many things that one can take away from books and stories like this have lessons that we can all learn from or relate to. The Dawn of a Dream has me looking forward to the next book from Ann Shorey in what I'm sure will be a great start to a new series!

“Available April 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

To learn more about the author visit:

*I received my complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for posting my honest review.*

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Happy Easter!!


Funny Pictures - Hoppy Easter, Everybuddy!
see more Lolcats and funny pictures, and check out our Socially Awkward Penguin lolz!

Review (Christian Fiction): Beside Still Waters by Tricia Goyer

Friday, April 22, 2011

Beside Still Waters
by Tricia Goyer
Copyright 2011
B&H Books
320 pages
ISBN: 978-14336-6868-5
Christian Fiction/Contemporary/Amish

From the publisher:
Raised among the Amish of Indiana, 18-year-old Marianna Sommer plans to get baptized into the church, marry Aaron Zook, and set up life in the only community she has ever known. But when her older brother chooses the world’s path following his rumschpringe, and a younger sibling begins showing interest in Englisch ways, Marianna’s parents move the family to Montana.

Although she is also in her rumschpringe years and not obligated to move, Marianna makes the journey to dutifully help her mother who is expecting another child. Surprisingly, from strangers on the cross-country train ride to the less rigid stance of the new Montana community, many Englisch influences awaken within Marianna—and even her father—the desire to pursue a deeper kind of joy and love for God.

After an accident, Marianna tells her friend Ben a defining story about the Sommer family, and his response further illumines the active relationship God seeks with His followers. In due time, she learns the move from Indiana was not about losing anything, but finding out who God really is. Despite all the shake-ups, Marianna feels a sweet peace, like still waters, in her soul.

My Review:
I'm beginning to think that Tricia Goyer can do it all! Not only is she an amazing non-fiction and historical fiction writer but now she has conquered the Amish fiction genre with her book, Beside Still Waters. I think it's high time that I admit that I am once again becoming a fan of the Amish fiction book. For a while I quite reading because it seemed that all the stories were so predictable but with fresh, new authors emerging seemingly everyday it seems that anything and everything is happening in the fictional Amish world. Tricia Goyer is definitely one of them.

The first thing that caught my attention is that this novel is not set in Ohio or Pennsylvania, the traditional setting of many of the Amish stories that I've read and secondly there is a lot of interaction between the Amish and "Englischers." I especially liked Ben, the van driver for Marianna's family and the community, I have the feeling that we will be seeing more of him in the future. To me he was the most interesting character and I look forward to seeing where his friendship with Marianna goes.

Overall the tone of this book is kind of heavy but again life isn't always happy so why should the stories we read be? I appreciate fiction that deals with issues like tragedy and rejection but at the same time is full of hope and as person finding understanding where they least expected. It's nice to read a book that is fiction but also tells a deeper story in a way that's not "preachy" or boring in any way. I enjoyed Beside Still Waters and hope to read more Amish fiction from Tricia in the future.

To learn more about the author visit:

**Special Contest Announcement**

Beside Still Waters Giveaway:

To celebrate the release of the first book in the Big Sky Amish series Tricia is giving away 10 copies of Beside Still Waters and a pair of super cute antique Amish salt & pepper shakers.

Details at Tricia’s blog, It’s Real Life: http://triciagoyer.blogspot.com/2011/04/beside-still-waters-giveaway.html

BONUS! Each person who enters the giveaway will receive a FABULOUS Montana Amish Calendar. Hurry, it’s only available while supplies last!

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* I received my ARC from the publisher in exchange for posting my honest review of the book for the Litfuse tour.*

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Recipe: Harvest of Berry Dreams Smoothie

Wednesday, April 20, 2011



Merrie Destefano one of my very favorite author friends is hosting a wonderful sweet treats giveaway to celebrate the release of her second novel, Feast: Harvest of Dreams. One of the requirements to be entered is to post a favorite dessert recipe. I love anything sweet and if it has fruit in it all the better! Since summer is just around the corner I thought I'd share my very own smoothie recipe with you guys. If you're a fan of the McDonald's berry smoothie you will be over the moon for this one, trust me!

Harvest of Berry Dreams Smoothie

Ingredients:
2 containers of Yoplait Yo-plus Blackberry Pomegranate yogurt

2 Tb sugar

3 Tb water

3 Tb milk

1.5 packages or approx. 12 ounces of frozen fruit: strawberry, blueberry, blackberry blend

Blend all ingredients in blender until all berries are chopped up and mixture is smooth, you may need to add more milk by the tablespoon if you prefer a thinner smoothie. Serve immediately. Makes 2 large smoothies.

**For more details on Merrie's books and the great giveaway opportunity visit Merrie's blog.**

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Waiting on Wednesday: Firethorn (Discarded Heroes, Book 4) by Ronie Kendig


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

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Yes we're not even halfway through 2011 and I already have a book wishlist started for 2012! I know crazy right? Well check out the cover and blurb for the this book and I can almost guarantee that you'll be starting your own 2012 list if you haven't done so already!

Blurb:
Former Marine and current Nightshade team member Griffin Riddell is comfortable. So comfortable he never sees the set up that lands him in a maximum security prison, charged with murder. How will he ever prove his innocence stuck behind iron bars?

Covert operative Kazi Faron is tasked with reassembling Nightshade—the black ops team someone dissected. Breaking Griffin out of a federal penitentiary amid explosive confusion may turn out to be her last assignment. What will it take to convince the fugitive that whoever set him up has also dissected the Nightshade team?

As Kazi and Griffin race to rescue the others and discover the traitor, love begins to awaken in their hearts. Can a covert operative and the felon she’s freed overcome their mutual distrust long enough to save Nightshade? Will anything prepare them for who—or what is coming?

******************************************************************

It's not available for preorder yet but if you want to learn more about this great book and the other books in the series visit Ronie's website. Cover and blurb taken from Ronie's blog which you'll want to visit to check out the AWESOME GIVEAWAY!!!

Available January 2012 from Barbour Publishers!

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Hook, Line, or Stinker?

Monday, April 18, 2011


Authors and readers agree, those first words of a book are of vital importance. Some allow several chapters to convince them, others—no more than a few paragraphs.

Authors feel the weight of this responsibility as they sit down to pen those first lines. At least they should!

The older I get, the pickier I become about which novels I finish. I realized this last month, when I started a book and was struck by the lack of white space—those gaps between paragraphs. More white space = more dialogue. I flipped through the first chapter, then the book, and when I found massive paragraphs dominating the pages, I tossed it in my “donate to library” pile. Apparently, I like dialogue--so much, that a lack of it made me close the book before finishing the first page.

I used to feel compunction over setting aside a book that didn’t hold my attention.  Now, my free time is more scarce and thus, more valuable. When I only have an hour a day to enjoy a book, I want it to be a good one. I want to be swept away to a foreign land or time. I want to be kept there until The End forces me home.

The more I read, the more I define which styles of writing I enjoy and which I don’t.  This process is shorter and shorter every year, which means books have less time to grab my attention.

I’m curious. How much weight do you, dear reader, put into the first pages of a book? Do you feel obligated to finish it once you’ve started?

Below, you’ll find a survey that will remain open for at least the next week. Let’s have some fun! And be sure to visit Clash of the Titles throughout the week to read our author interviews!
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Article by April Gardner: A military spouse, April has performed the art of homemaking all over the world. Currently, she lives in Georgia with her children, while her husband serves a tour in the Middle East. In her free time, April enjoys reading, gardening, and DIY. In no particular order, she dreams of owning a horse, visiting all the national parks, and speaking Italian.
She is the best-selling author of Wounded Spirits.
Contact April: aprilgardnerwrites (at) gmail (dot) com
April's blog. Find April on Facebook.




Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Want to be an Influencer?


Hey everyone, I don't normally post things like this but one of my favorite authors, Kaye Dacus is looking for influencers for her upcoming inspirational novel, The Art of Romance (Matchmakers, Book 2) which is being released through Barbour Publishing. If you might be interested in reading this book and helping Kaye get the word out, visit her website below for details on how to get your review copy!


Happy Reading!

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Review (Christian Fiction): Tomorrow's Garden (Texas Dreams, Book 3) by Amanda Cabot

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Tomorrow's Garden (Texas Dreams, Book 3)
by Amanda Cabot
Copyright 2011
Revell
400 pages
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3326-1
Historical Romance

From the publisher:
As a seed awaits the spring sunshine, so one young woman hopes for a brighter tomorrow

Harriet Kirk is certain that becoming the new schoolteacher in Ladreville, Texas, is just what she needs--a chance to put the past behind her and give her younger siblings a brighter tomorrow. What she didn't count on was the presence of handsome former Texas Ranger Lawrence Wood--or the way he affects her fragile heart. But can Harriet and Lawrence ever truly conquer the past in order to find happiness?

My Thoughts:
Harriet Kirk had the spark taken out of her soul by the tragic fire that took the lives of her parents. On her own, with her younger siblings to care for she decides it's time to move on. When given the opportunity she moves to Ladreville, Texas, with hopes of starting anew and leaving the past behind. What ensues is nothing short of a miracle. With God's help a handsome Texas Ranger turned mayor changes her life for the better.

In between the beautiful cover, which in my opinion is just perfect for this books Spring release, is a wonderful story of our heroine not only finding happiness but her family learning to open themselves up to the possibility of love without fear of loss. I enjoyed every bit of this book from Harriet learning to not only care for her family but herself with a pretty new dress (much to Lawrence's pleasure) to Ruth, her little sister, overcoming her shyness to find true love. Even Jake, Harriet's little brother learns that actions have consequences and grows up throughout this book. Each character just seemed to blossom under the love and care of the Ladreville townsfolk. It really goes to show how important good friendships can be in life.

I enjoyed Tomorrow's Garden. It's a good conclusion to the Texas Dreams series and very much makes me look forward to more from author Amanda Cabot.

“Available April 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”


To learn more about Amanda visit:

*I received my complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for posting my honest review.*

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Review (Christian Fiction): To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer

Saturday, April 16, 2011

by Karen Witemeyer
Copyright 2011
Bethany House Publishers
352 pages
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0757-0
Historical Fiction

From the publisher:
Do They Have a Fighting Chance at Love?

After completing his sentence for the unintentional crime that derailed his youthful plans for fame and fortune, Levi Grant looks to start over in the town of Spencer, Texas. Spencer needs a blacksmith, a trade he learned at his father's knee, and he needs a place where no one knows his past.

Eden Spencer has sworn off men, choosing instead to devote her time to the lending library she runs in the town her father founded. When a mountain-sized stranger walks through her door and asks to borrow a book, she's reluctant to trust him. Yet as the mysteries of the town's new blacksmith unfold, Eden discovers hidden depths in him that tempt her heart.

Eden believes she's finally found a man of honor and integrity. But when the truth about Levi's prodigal past comes to light, can this tarnished hero find a way to win back the librarian's affections?


My Review:
~5 stars~
What do a stubborn livery owner, a handsome rancher and a burley blacksmith have in common? Well they are all heroes created by Karen Witemeyer and they are incredible! As with every other novel by Ms. Witemeyer, I have utterly fallen in love with the characters of To Win Her Heart or feel as if they are old friends.

As I read more novels it is becoming increasingly difficult to find characters that are original and interesting by I have found one in Levi Grant. Sure he's a blacksmith and definitely has that romance hero physique (hubba hubba) but there is one trait that made him stand out and made him endearing and refreshing, his way with words. We have all read the tortured hero spiel and after they face their demons they are nigh onto perfect at the end of the story, right? Not so with Levi which makes him just so...lovable!

Eden Spencer, our heroine, has been burned once so she is twice shy of any man. She's a bit snobbish at first and I wanted to smack her but she grows on you. Eden even discovers that she's a "rock-toter" with the help of one of her new friend, Chloe. This little life lesson, although quite serious and something Christians can learn from, made me smile. I must admit when characters like Chloe, who seemingly know the least about faith, can teach those who think they know the most a lesson, I love it.

Karen Witemeyer definitely has a way for making a story come to life and for teaching relevant life lessons for today through her historical fiction. There are love and faith messages that shine through in each of her stories and Levi and Eden's tale is no exception. To Win Her Heart has definitely won my heart and a spot on my keeper shelf.


To learn more about Karen visit:


*I received my complimentary influencer copy from the publisher in exchange for posting an early review of this book.*

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Coco's Birthday Party: Winners!

The party's over, the plates are being cleaned

Thank you all so much for stopping by this week! It was such a fun party that I wish I could do it every day. Thank you to all the guest bloggers this week too, you totally made my week sharing all your pet memories and stories. I might just make this an annual event! What do you think?

Anywho I know you are all anxious to see who won the prize packs so as chosen by random.org the winners are as follows...

Grand prize: Lassie dvd and 2 books
LAURA FRANTZ

First Prize: 2 books
AMBER

Second prize: 1 book
CHRISTY (Southern Sassy Things)

Congrats ladies! I will be emailing you shortly to get your mailing addresses so I can send your prizes out ASAP! I hope you enjoy!

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Coco's Birthday Party, Final Day: Author Ronie Kendig on Military Dogs

Friday, April 15, 2011


I absolutely love Ronie Kendig and her inspirational suspense fiction series, Discarded Heroes and her next series looks like it's going to be another winner! Read below and see why I wanted to feature her during pet week!

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Last year, a dear friend forwarded an email with an incredible story about a military war dog who had miraculously saved his handler from a POW camp in Iraq. Enthralled with the story and being an author of military stories, I had to check out the story. I quickly learned the story was a hoax, but that research threw me onto the path of a new breed (ahem, pardon the pun) of warriors—military war dogs!

In my research, I learned that war dogs have existed since war itself. Ancient Romans deployed huge hounds called Molossus that could knock a man off a galloping horse and disembowel him. Roman General Gaius Marius was routed in Gaul by a team of snarling, snapping hounds under the command of women handlers! In Vietnam, military war dogs saved more then ten-thousand lives. In the War on Terror, these four-legged heroes use their keen sense of smell to detect and warn their handlers and those in their troop against road-
side bombs, IEDs, and other explosives.

Thirty-thousand dogs have been used over the last fifty years in war. There are many different kinds of war dogs, some trained in aggression, most not. Specialties include areas like combat tracking teams (CTT), explosives detection dogs (EDD), specialized search dogs (SSD), and there are even dogs training with Special Operations Command with elite soldiers like Green Berets and Army Rangers.

The Military War Dogs develop an incredible bond with their trainers, going through 120 days of training, then living and eating together on duty. Because the dogs are deemed government property, they are ripped away from the only family they’d come to know when the handler’s tour of duty ended—until recently. In 2000, a presidential order officially changed the norm from euthanizing these brave, four-legged heroes to allowing to go through an evaluation to determine if they are adoptable. This is a huge leap forward for these beloved canines.

At a recent Dogs for Defense event, it was said that during the Vietnam war 280 dogs died. That was heart wrenching, until John C. Burnam (who served as a handler in Vietnam and wrote a book, The Dog Tags of Courage, an intense but realistic portrayal of his journeys), then Mr. Burnam said that because of these canines more than ten-thousand! In a phone interview with a former Green Beret handler, I also learned that today in Iraq & Afghanistan, one of the highest priority targets for insurgents is the military war dog units (a dog & his handler) because they are so effective in stopping attempts against our soldiers.

It is my hope in the A Breed Apart series (coming from Barbour in 2012), I can write compelling stories that will create an awareness of these military working/war dog units, show the incredible bond, and honor these heroes and their handlers.

Images are the property of DVIDS

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Be sure to visit Ronie's website and blog for more info on her books! They're greeeat, trust me, I've read them all so far! I'm so excited to read this series, aren't you? I have such a great respect for service dogs anywhere including those in the military and those dogs who help the blind and disabled. Hehehe I also have a soft spot for German Shepards since I grew up around my gram's German Shepard/Collie mix. ;-)

Don't forget each day you leave a comment you will be entered to win one of 3 gift packs I'm giving away! So don't be shy, say hi to Ronie!


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Coco's Birthday Party, Day 4: Interview with Fellow Blogger and Pet Lover, Hannah!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Hannah is a great gal and one of my very first blogger friends, she wrote the answers for this interview while she was sick! Her furry friends are sooo adorable and I hope you think so too! Please be sure to visit Hannah's terrific blog, Project Journal!


What was your first pet?

Our very first pet…brings back fantastic memories : ) Mom and Dad surprised my sister, Alicia, and I with a dog for Christmas one year! Yes, it was a little early a week or so before I think, but it was such a surprise!! Her name was Molly Belle Star lol! She was a 5 year old Cocker Spaniel puppy, black and white with the cutest lil tail you've ever seen! Oh we loved our babygirl so much. We got her from a retired minister who's kids were making him move to be closer with them. It was just him and Molly and he used to feed her half of his sandwich every single day at lunch! LOL! We had to break her from her begging habits lol….Right after we got Molly, our grandparent's heard some meowing that sounded like it was coming from their basement???? They found the most adorable lil kitten in a paper bag in their basement. Just a tiny thing, abandoned on the side of the road and landed in the cellar. We begged Mom sooooooo bad to keep him!! After one week, constant teasing, and our aunts pleads to get him out of their house ; ) we got to bring Buster home!


If you could have any critter in the world as a pet what would you choose?
Oooooo good question! No creepy crawlies….they're….well….creepy!! LOL! And nothing outrageous because that's just insane ;) I'd probably have to be boring and just say a dog or a cat. I love going for walks with our dog, playing in the living room with her, and laying on the floor with her because she'll cuddle lol. And I love having Buster sleep with me at night and keep me company. So I think they're good companions : )


What is your favorite animal?

Favorite??? Oh man…..I have this weird obsession with lemurs bahahahaa! If you haven't seen a picture of one, get right on that! It's your homework from me lol. Those eyes O_O they get me everytime. But I also really like monkeys/apes/gorillas for some reason. I don't really know! And COWS! We looooove cows in our family since my grandparent's used to be Jersey cattle farmers lol.


Do you have any favorite books that feature animals as main characters?

Hmmmm….I'm trying to think of any! Lol! Even though it's really stereotypical and probably a lot of people would expect it, but Charlotte's Web is such a classic. How can you go wrong with Wilbur!? Awww so cute : )

Puppies or kittens?

I think I'd have to say puppies actually. They're just so darn cute!


Favorite pet memory?

That's really hard, just one!? Lol! I guess I like the little things mostly. I'll always remember Molly's favorite toy: her hamburger. Lol….it was a squeaky toy with all the fixin's of a very tasty burger! With our new dog (she's 5 now so not very new, we got her when she was still a baby from the humane society. Our cousin has her brother for a pet, Brady!!), Maddie, I love how she still gets hiccups lol. She's always had them since we first got her : ) And it's adorable! She always, always wants to be with you. She's very protective of her family. We'll always miss Molly, but Maddie was a great replacement for her. We love her just as much J Memories are always being made, Renee, always!


Thank you so much for including me, Renee! I couldn't believe you invited me on lol. But it's been so, so fun. Maddie says a BIG Happy Birthday to Coco and I say it as well!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Coco!! We love you, you cutie, you and your mama too ; ) Lots of *hugs*


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Thank you for sharing Hannah! I love your furry babies!

Don't forget, each day you comment is an entry in the gift pack giveaways so say Hi! to Hannah and her critters!

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Coco's Birthday Party, Day 3: Author Catherine West and her Border Collies!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


I fell in love with Border Collies after we got our first dog, Allie, back in 1995. We didn't know anything about the breed, we were just looking for a puppy, and there happened to be a litter on the island. Allie was a wonderful dog from the get-go - her favorite sport being 'chase the children'! I think she thought they were her sheep and she had to round them up. She was a loving and faithful companion to us all, and enjoyed her life in Bermuda as well as summers spent on the lake in Northern Ontario, Canada. It was with great sorrow that we realized her time had come to an end in January '09 and we had to say goodbye.

Noah, now two, came to us from a breeder in the UK. He and Allie spent a wonderful year together, and we realized we had unintentionally created Noah and Allie - from The Notebook! LOL. Noah is a very high-spirited young man and likes to do his own thing most of the time. Of course he has all the Border Collie intelligence and knows a lot of tricks and is very obedient but on the odd occasion he will blow me off!! His favorite sport is chasing birds around the swimming pool. Sadly, due to an incident when he was a puppy, he has a fear aggression around other dogs, so we've had to stop Agility courses and we are working on this problem. Other than that, Noah is a wonderful dog with plenty of energy and love. We will often find he has snuck up onto the bed in the middle of the night, and is so quiet about it we don't realize he's there until morning!

Noah wishes Coco many happy returns and lots of barks and kisses - from a safe distance!!

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Thank you so much for celebrating with us today Catherine! Be sure to stop by Cathy's site and check out her Christian romance, Yesterday's Tomorrow set during the Vietnam War.

Review (Christian Fiction): Save the Date by Jenny B. Jones

Save the Date
by Jenny B. Jones
Copyright 2011
Thomas Nelson Publishers
312 pages
ISBN: 978-1-59554-539-8
Fiction/Christian/Romance

From the publisher:
When Alex and Lucy pick out wedding invitations, they wonder if they can be printed in vanishing ink.

Former NFL star Alex Sinclair is a man who has it all--except the votes he needs to win his bid for Congress. Despite their mutual dislike, Alex makes Lucy a proposition: pose as his fiancée in return for the money she desperately needs. Bound to a man who isn't quite what he seems, Lucy will find her heart on the line--and maybe even her life. When God asks Alex and Lucy to scrap their playbook and follow his rules, will they finally say, "I do"?

My Review:
Looking for fun, faith, football and some knock-off designer pumps? look no further than Jenny B. Jones's Save the Date. I absolutely loved every word of it. From the first zinger dished out by sassy Lucy to the tender moments with her "Han Solo" I was hooked. Lucy's a bit insecure, she's clumsy, she's a Trekkie and she's a size twelve (a ten if anybody asks). I challenge you to find a real girl who isn't at least one of these things...yeah doubtful. Lucy is a great heroine in a world where so much emphasis is placed on looks and not much else.

For me Christian fiction doesn't get much better than this. I was laughing the entire time and not a second of it was cheesy. In a word, Save the Date is brilliant. At times I wanted to pull my hair out and I even said out loud, "Just admit that you like each other already!" That is the best kind of story though, right? After that first moment when Alex and Lucy realize there could be more to their relationship than the show they are putting on for the public it just gets better and better.

If you're a true sucker for romance I'm sure you will agree that this is one of the better love stories out there. Save the Date is a light, entertaining read. I can't wait for There You'll Find Me which features Alex's baby sister, Finley! October 2011 are you here yet?

To learn more about the author and her books vist:
Her WEBSITE

* I received my complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for posting my honest review.*
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Coco's Birthday Party, Day 2: Angie and her Miracle Dog, Hope

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I've followed Hope's story ever since Angie first posted about her on Never A Dull Moment and I gotta say she's one special pup. Read this story by Angie and you'll find out why!

One day last summer my husband called and told me that he had just rescued a puppy he found on the side of the road. She was actually in the middle of a busy intersection, on one of those concrete island things that divide the road. He didn’t stop at first but was almost home and couldn’t get her little face out of his mind so he turned around and brought her home. Our plan was to find her a home, so the next day I took her to the vet’s where I work part time to get her shots and a check-up. My husband asked around work if anyone was interested in her and a couple of people were so we were happy that it wouldn’t take long to find her a home.

Then I get the call from the vet and she tells me that the little puppy is in need of surgery. See her diaphragm had a hole in it so her intestines were up by her heart and lungs. My husband and I had noticed that when she breathed you could see her sides move in and out. I thought it was just because she was hot and exhausted, nope she was fighting for every breathe. So the vet recommended a vet she knew who said he would look at her to see if he would do the surgery. The surgery was going to be not only expensive but very risky. Actually, the vet had thought this one vet would do it but he said he didn’t want to because the last three he had tried the surgery on had died.
To be honest, I was scared to have the surgery but my husband made a good point: It would be better to at least try and give her a chance to having a normal life then not doing anything and her slowly dying anyway. Once we realized that we were going to keep her we had to decide on a name. With her having such a road ahead of her I wanted to name her something that would reflect that God was in control. So I came up with Faith or Hope and my husband picked Hope. So we took her to this other vet and he took some x-rays and decided he would do the surgery that very day. He said that one lung was almost collapsed and she probably only had a few days left before her little body gave out.

I think that he started the surgery around four that evening. I had to go home to take care of my other dogs and cats but my husband stayed at work so he wouldn’t miss the call from the vet when he was finished to let us know how things went. We live at in the country and our cell phones don’t always work that
great. Anyway, I was praying and waiting at home when I finally called my husband around six. He told me that the vet had called him a little a while ago but he didn’t want to worry me. When the vet had called my husband it was to tell him that they were having trouble getting the liver in place. It was stuck and it wouldn’t come lose so he called to asked my husband if he wanted him to keep trying or to just stop. My husband said to keep trying. We learned later that almost the minute they hung up the liver just all of a sudden popped out with no problem! The vet said he felt like it was a miracle.

So the vet finally calls us around eight and tells us that she’s out of surgery and seems to be doing well but she’s not out of the woods until the next three days.
We had to go pick her up and take her to the emergency clinic because the vet wanted someone to keep an eye on her all night. Then the next day we had to pick her up and take her back to the veterinary clinic. So as you can guess she made it through the next three days fine and when we brought her home it was like we had a totally different dog. When we first got Hope she didn’t do much because it was so hard for her to breathe. She couldn’t even lay down on her side because she couldn’t breathe. Now she was running and playing and just being a puppy.

She’s almost a year old now and she’s a happy active and very spoiled dog that loves to play with our other two dogs. She also loves to eat so one of her favorite toys is her Kong filled with Milk Bones and peanut butter. She’s a very sweet dog and has yet met anyone she doesn’t like and I thank God for bringing this little miracle into our lives.

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Please be sure to stop by Angie's blog, Never a Dull Moment and say hi! She has a bunch of furry friends who always hang out there. I'm sure they would all love to meet you.

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Also remember each day that you comment on my blog is an entry in the prize pack giveaway!

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FIRST Wild Card Blog Tour w/ Review: A Cowboy's Touch by Denise Hunter

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:


A Cowboy's Touch

Thomas Nelson (March 29, 2011)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Denise lives in Indiana with her husband Kevin and their three sons. In 1996, Denise began her first book, a Christian romance novel, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she's been writing ever since. Her books often contain a strong romantic element, and her husband Kevin says he provides all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!


Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Wade's ranch home needs a woman's touch. Abigail's life needs a cowboy's touch.

Four years ago, rodeo celebrity Wade Ryan gave up his identity to protect his daughter. Now, settled on a ranch in Big Sky Country, he lives in obscurity, his heart guarded by a high, thick fence.

Abigail Jones isn’t sure how she went from big-city columnist to small-town nanny, but her new charge is growing on her, to say nothing of her ruggedly handsome boss. Love blossoms between Abigail and Wade--despite her better judgment. Will the secrets she brought with her to Moose Creek, Montana separate her from the cowboy who finally captured her heart?



Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (March 29, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595548017
ISBN-13: 978-1595548016

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Abigail Jones knew the truth. She frowned at the blinking curser on her monitor and tapped her fingers on the keyboard-what next?


Beyond the screen's glow, darkness washed the cubicles. Her computer hummed, and outside the office windows a screech of tires broke the relative stillness ofthe Chicago night.


She shuffled her note cards. The story had been long in coming, but it was finished now, all except the telling. She knew where she wanted to take it next.


Her fingers stirred into motion, dancing across the keys. This was her favorite part, exposingtruth to the world. Well, okay, not the world exactly, not with Viewpoint's paltry circulation. But now, during the writing, it felt like the world.


Four paragraphs later, the office had shrunk away, and all that existed were the words on the monitor and her memory playing in full color on the screen of her mind.


Something dropped onto her desk with a sudden thud. Abigail’s hand flew to her heart, and her chair darted from her desk. She looked up at her boss’s frowning face, then shared a frown of her own. “You scared me.”


“And you’re scaring me. It’s after midnight, Abigail—what are you doing here?” Marilyn Jones’s hand settled on her hip.


The blast of adrenaline settled into Abigail’s bloodstream, though her heart was still in overdrive. “Being an ambitious staffer?”


“You mean an obsessive workaholic.”


“Something wrong with that?”


“What’s wrong is my twenty-eight-year-old daughter is working all hours on a Saturday night instead of dating an eligible bachelor like all the other single women her age.” Her mom tossed her head, but her short brown hair hardly budged. “You could’ve at least gone out with your sister and me. We had a good time.”


“I’m down to the wire.”


“You’ve been here every night for two weeks.” Her mother rolled up a chair and sank into it. “Your father always thought you’d be a schoolteacher, did I ever tell you that?”


“About a million times.” Abigail settled into the chair, rubbed the ache in her temple. Her heart was still recovering, but she wanted to return to her column. She was just getting to the good part.


“You had a doctor’s appointment yesterday,” Mom said. Abigail sighed hard.


“Whatever happened to doctor-patient confidentiality?”


“Goes out the window when the doctor is your sister. Come on, Abigail, this is your health. Reagan prescribed rest—R-E-S-T—and yet here you are.”


“A couple more days and the story will be put to bed.”


“And then there’ll be another story.”


“That’s what I do, Mother.”


“You’ve had a headache for weeks, and the fact that you made an appointment with your sister is proof you’re not feeling well.”


Abigail pulled her hand from her temple. “I’m fine.”


“That’s what your father said the week before he collapsed.”


Compassion and frustration warred inside Abigail. “He was sixty-two.” And his pork habit hadn’t helped matters. Thin didn’t necessarily mean healthy. She skimmed her own long legs, encased in her favorite jeans . . . exhibit A.


“I’ve been thinking you should go visit your great-aunt.” Abigail already had a story in the works, but maybe her mom had a lead on something else. “New York sounds interesting. What’s the assignment?”


“Rest and relaxation. And I’m not talking about your Aunt Eloise—as if you’d get any rest there—I’m talking about your Aunt Lucy.”


Abigail’s spirits dropped to the basement. “Aunt Lucy lives in Montana.” Where cattle outnumbered people. She felt for the familiar ring on her right hand and began twisting.


“She seems a bit . . . confused lately.”


Abigail recalled the birthday gifts her great-aunt had sent over the years, and her lips twitched. “Aunt Lucy has always been confused.”


“Someone needs to check on her. Her latest letter was full of comments about some girls who live with her, when I know perfectly well she lives alone. I think it may be time for assisted living or a retirement community.”


Abigail’s eyes flashed to the screen. A series of nonsensical letters showed where she’d stopped in alarm at her mother’s appearance. She hit the delete button. “Let’s invite her to Chicago for a few weeks.”


“She needs to be observed in her own surroundings. Besides, that woman hasn’t set foot on a plane since Uncle Murray passed, and I sure wouldn’t trust her to travel across the country alone. You know what happened when she came out for your father’s funeral.”


“Dad always said she had a bad sense of direction.”


“Nevertheless, I don’t have time to hunt her down in Canada again. Now, come on, Abigail, it makes perfect sense for you to go. You need a break, and Aunt Lucy was your father’s favorite relative. It’s our job to look after her now, and if she’s incapable of making coherent decisions, we need to help her.”


Abigail’s conscience tweaked her. She had a soft spot for Aunt Lucy, and her mom knew it. Still, that identity theft story called her name, and she had a reliable source who might or might not be willing to talk in a couple weeks.


“Reagan should do it. I’ll need the full month for my column, and we can’t afford to scrap it. Distribution is down enough as it is. Just last month you were concerned—”


Her mother stood abruptly, the chair reeling backward into the aisle. She walked as far as the next cubicle, then turned. “Hypertension is nothing to mess with, Abigail. You’re so . . . rest- less. You need a break—a chance to find some peace in your life.” She cleared her throat, then her face took on that I’ve-made-up- my-mind look. “Whether you go to your aunt’s or not, I’m insisting you take a leave of absence.”


There was no point arguing once her mother took that tone. She could always do research online—and she wouldn’t mind visiting a part of the country she’d never seen. “Fine. I’ll finish this story, then go out to Montana for a week or so.”


“Finish the story, yes. But your leave of absence will last three months.”


“Three months!”



“It may take that long to make a decision about Aunt Lucy.”


“What about my apartment?”


“Reagan will look after it. You’re hardly there anyway. You need a break, and Moose Creek is the perfect place.”


Moose Creek. “I’ll say. Sounds like nothing more than a traffic signal with a gas pump on the corner.”


“Don’t be silly. Moose Creek has no traffic signal. Abigail, you have become wholly obsessed with—”


“So I’m a hard worker . . .” She lifted her shoulders.


Her mom’s lips compressed into a hard line. “Wholly obsessed with your job. Look, you know I admire hard work, but it feels like you’re always chasing something and never quite catching it. I want you to find some contentment, for your health if nothing else. There’s more to life than investigative reporting.”


“I’m the Truthseeker, Mom. That’s who I am.” Her fist found home over her heart.


Her mother shouldered her purse, then zipped her light sweater, her movements irritatingly slow. She tugged down the ribbed hem and smoothed the material of her pants. “Three months, Abigail. Not a day less.”



My Thoughts:
It's been a really long time since I've read a western romance by Denise Hunter, I'm so used to her Nantucket set stories that I've forgotten she writes great cowboy stories too! A Cowboy's Touch is a bit different than her Nantucket series not just in setting but tone as well. Where The Convenient Groom seemed a bit more romantic and light-hearted A Cowboy's Touch is a bit more serious. Don't get me wrong there's plenty of sizzle and the romantic tension is palpable between Wade and Abigail but since this is women's fiction I think the faith message is deeper. Both Abigail and Wade have pasts and secrets, that if discovered could destroy everything that each has tried so hard to protect. They have to find the Truth or face the consequences. This is a great book for fan's of romance and inspirational fiction alike.

Coco's Birthday Party, Day 1: Author Sandra D. Bricker and Her Rescue Dog

Monday, April 11, 2011


I don't even know Sophie and she already has a spot in my heart not only because she's a collie but she's a rescue dog! Yay! I encourage you to go to your local shelter or rescue and consider adopting a pet or just donating your time or some food and supplies if you can!

Here's Sandie and her furry pals, past and present!


When writing the sequel to Always the Baker, Never the Bride, I had to create some new characters as memorable and compelling as the ones in the first book. When Sherilyn, my heroine, emerged, a sweet and organized Type A, I wanted to give her something or someone to butt heads with. My dog Caleb sprang instantly to mind!

When I first brought Caleb home, he was quite a nightmare. An Old English Sheepdog, so dirty and matted that you could hardly tell what kind of dog he was! ... but somehow I managed to fall in love with him beyond appearances. His behavior, however, was another thing entirely. The dog ate anything that wasn't nailed down, and often things that were! At the time, I was an entertainment publicist, so my day planner had celebrity addresses and phone numbers in it that couldn't be easily replaced. I went out to get the mail one day and came back to find the corner of the planner hanging out of Caleb's mouth, and the notebook rings laying on the floor at his feet. The dog had eaten my day planner in the time it took me to walk outside to the mailbox! Later, he ate things like the corner of a wall, a kitchen cabinet, countless rolls of toilet paper, even the entire back cushion of someone else's sofa! And every time he got into the car, moving or not, he barfed. The dog was a nightmare, and it seemed like a no-brainer to immortalize him in print as Sherilyn's nemesis, Henry. A lot of the stories in the book are based on my early relationship with Caleb.

The old boy flunked doggie college three times before he finally got it right, and in later years he was the most devoted, well-behaved dog on the planet. But it sure didn't come easily! He died of bone cancer at the age of 16. I grieved his loss more than almost any other loss I've ever suffered. I selfishly kept him alive much longer than I should have, and he really suffered in those last few months ... so I had no choice but to finally let him go.

I had sworn there would be no more dogs in my life, but that didn't last long. Caleb's departure left an enormous hole in my life with his passing. Finally, I gave in and went looking for a new best friend. Eventually, I found Sophie, a red-haired Collie mix who stole my heart away. I'm a true believer in rescue adoptions, and someone at one of the organizations I work with called and told me Sophie's sad, sad story. Still, she was everything I didn't want. She was a girl, and I wanted another boy. She'd just had her third litter of puppies, and she wasn't even 2 years old! She was a shedder with thick undercoats of fur. So I said no, about four times. Then a girlfriend called me and said, "Remember that Collie they wanted you to adopt? Well, I'm down at the adoption drive in the Petco parking lot. You've GOT TO GET DOWN HERE! This is YOUR dog." I reluctantly drove over, and Sophie caught my eye before I ever reached her. She stood up in her cage and wagged her whole body, with intense eye contact the whole
time, as if she'd been waiting for me to arrive. We've hardly been separated for more than a few hours ever since.

The beginning of Sophie's life was so tragic, and I think she's well aware of the concept of being rescued. She is a total goofball, really funny!, and as loyal as Caleb ever was. I think she truly behaves as if she owes me her life. I guess no one told her the truth: I'm the one who owes HER.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, COCO -- With love from Sandie and Soph

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Sandra Bricker is the author of many great books including several Love Finds You titles and the one I can't wait to get my paws on, Always the Wedding Planner, Never the Bride from Abingdon Press.

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Don't forget to leave a comment to be entered to win one of three prize packs I'll be giving away at the end of the week!

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